Tuesday, August 30, 2011


You may have guessed that since I have a bunch of students and clients and friends who ride, I've got a list of recommendations for my "go-to favorites." I usually know what is cheapest and of reasonable quality, but I definitely have become a tack snob after years and years of buying whatever I could afford, so now I know what hold up to abuse at a reasonable price and will last you much, much longer than the "cheapest" version- therefore making it worth the extra money you would spend. So, I thought I would show-case some of my suggestions in case someone is looking for a new piece of equipment to try.

So, my first FAVORITE comes in the form of breeches. I like wearing anything by Kerrits, their sizing is appropriate, their cuts flattering, their fabrics wash and wear very well, basically, their clothes are made with riders in mind. My favorite breeches from Kerrits are the Microcord Riding Breech in the knee patch style.
I have these in the full seat version, too, but don't like them nearly as much. (Incidentally, the Kerrits Flex Tight Fullseats I really like, just not in the humid TN summers- chafe city!) My favorite parts of the Microcord breech are the waistband- a wide stretchy elastic band in back, a v-shaped panel in the front- flattering AND non binding, plus it never flips down- and the fabric is thick, corded (again, flattering and long lasting) and they're cut slightly higher in the back. These are a little on the long side- I'm 5'9" and have to roll the elastic cuff at the bottom up, but being tall, I'm totally okay with that! These are the breeches I wear on XC and have considered getting a pair to wear for dressage and stadium too- the only thing holding me back is my hunter heritage- these are pull ons- no zipper- but they do have belt loops!

I just bought four pairs to replace my worn every-day schoolers, so I'll let you know next year how they're holding up!

Monday, August 22, 2011

An insight to the mind of an eventer.

You guys are probably famililar with this conversation:

Non-rider: So, hows life?
Rider: Pretty good! My horses are good, I'm riding a lot. I'm happy!
NR: Awesome! Anything else going on?
Rider: Uh... well, I went to a show/clinic/lesson and had a great ride!
NR: That's great... anything else exciting? Like, non-horse related?
Rider: Um...

Or this one, when meeting a new person...

Potential New Friend: So, what are you into?
Rider: Well, I love to ride, love horses, I show occasionally...
PNF: Awesome! And what's your job?
Rider: I train horses and teach lessons.
PNF: Oh, how cool is that. Livin' the dream, huh? What else are you into? Hobbies?
Rider: Oh, I event!
PNF: *looks puzzled*
Rider: Event... horses... *insert tirade describing this crazy sport*
PNF: *backing away slowly... trying to fade into the background*
Rider: Uh... I also cook... er... have dogs... um... I love cupcakes!!! *sigh*

It's pretty much an all consuming habit, this horse thing...

Anyway, last week, I had the option to have a day off. This never actually happens in my life, but somehow, someway, that week, it did. What happens is that I schedule my week on Monday, trying to fit all my lessons and rides equally across the week so I'm not stuck with a ton of things towards the end. I minor-ly rearrange as the week progresses, if its too hot to work a specific horse one day or I get an extra one ridden etc etc.

My ride-board. My life blood. I would die without this.
So, I managed to ride a few extras on one nice day last week and was able to clear my Sunday for what could have been a day off. As I sat thinking about having a day off, I was slightly horrified. What would I do? I had to go to the barn to... stare at my horses? Clean tack? Sleep in?

So, I did what any self-respecting eventer would do. I called my MY trainer and scheduled a lesson- between getting to my barn, loading the trailer, catching the horse, loading the horse, driving to Columbia, having a lesson, general chit-chat, cooling horse off, reloading, driving home, unloading horse, turning horse back out, unloading trailer and parking my rig back, it's at least a half day proposition, so I knew it would consume most of my free time on my "day off."

Because, you know, I wouldn't want to have to find something to do that didn't involve my horse. Like... clean. Or get my hair cut. Or go shopping. Or try to meet new friends or something.


Ari's still lame.

I had the vet out last week Wed.

He was looking pretty good, I had him back in shape but he was still a little sticky on the left hind. Amy saw it in our lesson but thought he looked pretty good a week later when I had him out on XC. We had an amazing school and then when I got him up again on Monday, two days later, I could feel a pretty significant "stick."

Vet assessed that yes, he did look lame but not SUPER lame. He didn't feel that blocking would create a significant enough change to help diagnose. He thought hocks. Accupressure points= SCREAMING hocks. Everyone else was no reaction. Nothing chiropractically, nothing registered for that foot.

He asked when I'd last injected his hocks.
My answer: May.
Dr's response: Look of horror.

Cue conversation regarding frequent injections, other options such as alcohol fusion (my turn to be horrified) in which I immediately say "I've heard that is a REALLY high risk procedure!!!!" and begin minor panic.

We discussed if I'd shot xrays of the hocks yet, no, but we talked about it when he was being injected as we thought he may be losing "space" between the joints. I figured we'd have to shoot them this time around and we did.

We looked at the right hock first. As he studied them he looked fairly unimpressed. I hovered over his shoulder thinking they looked pretty darn good to me, but what the hell do I know, anyway? His response "Well, I don't see anything that makes me worry. In fact, I'm impressed with how nice they are." He pointed out a couple of things and I made a joke that if that one looked good, the other was surely a train wreck. He laughed and agreed.

We pulled up the left hock. Nothing. Nothing. He asked why I was injecting this horse? I said something about "12 year old joints" and he said "they didn't look like any 12 year old joints he'd ever seen!"

Yay! Great news! He has awesome looking hocks!!

So, uh... why is he still lame?

We shot his ankle, too, since it's a little "big" just for kicks. Again, lovely. Comments about how nice they looked. So now what?

Do another loading dose of adequan and see if that helps.

I ran him on a course of bute this week to see if it was muscular pain... 2g of bute on board makes no difference in how he moves.


I'm going to have him massaged, I think, possibly shoot the abscess foot again and then probably just wait until Jump Start? Or Hagyard? to bring him back to Lexington to have him looked at.

This is killing me slowly.

Oh Brandy...

So, any of you who pay attention know, by now, that Brandy lives for cross country. She loves stadium and simply tolerates dressage.

She has spent the last couple of rides in her jumping bit, to hopefully make her a little more compliant.

I set her back up in her dressage bridle today and decided to go out to the field to do our dressage school. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Horse that lives for XC+snaffle for first time in a week+riding in the field= very. forward. dressage school. She was really actually very good though, in the end, so I guess there's that...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Today I...

  • Rode seven horses, including a 13.3 hand POA pony followed by a 17 hand Irish Sport Horse
  • Weed-whacked the front yard in lieu of using the (broken) mower
  • Picked the dog hair off of my last Gigi's cupcake after it fell off my plate not once but TWO TIMES
  • Continued my journey is trying to eat every last edible thing in my house before I go grocery shopping again (Enchilada bake, not too bad for trying to use up the random things in my house! Tomorrow may be tougher...)

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Appy Diaries: When baby steps become big-boy steps

Rion has been doing well being ridden in the arena. I still need to roundpen him before I get on for a minute to get his sillies out. I admit that I wish I could longe in the arena to expedite the process a bit, but I do think the roundpen gives him a little more of that "recess" feel instead of "straight to work!" He usually does some playing in the roundpen, then we work for a minute to get in the mental game, then up to the arena where I get on.

He has been nothing but business under saddle from the first day I got on him. I cantered him last week for the first time- I just snuck in a "caaaanter!" *kiss* as we trotted down the long side- he stepped right off before he could think about what was going on and I was happy with that. I asked one more time and got a few steps of lovely (baby) canter and quit.

Today I worked him as normal, then hopped on in the arena. When you start a youngster, they typically are very tentative to go forward for two reasons- one is the new weight on their back, and two is because going forward (or being in front of your leg) is foreign to them and also- it's work!

You have to ride a baby horse like they're an adult so they begin to understand the concepts, but you also have to understand that they DON'T know what you're asking, and patiently explain it to them, one step at a time! They're not born knowing what we mean! So, for example, as soon as I start asking a horse to turn, I start using my legs. They are associating the cue the with action.

He has begun to understand the concept of a forward working walk and is moving nicely away from my leg. He is very reactive to shifting weight, so I've been riding him in my western saddle to stabilize my weight on his back- he seems happy with that solution for now.

Today, I asked him to trot off like I normally do, expecting a little back and forth like we normally have- I ask him to trot, he stumbles off a step or two and then walks. I ask him to trot and he complies, slugglishly. I kick him up a little and he finally goes on and trots pokily around the arena, finding a couple of forward steps here and there and stopping every so often. Instead, he jumped right into a nice, forward trot and he kept a lovely steady tempo the whole time. He moved away from my leg all over the place, weaving between jumps, going into all corners of the arena, switching directions, making circles and moving happily past the open gate without sucking back or dropping his shoulder! He even gave me a step here or there of softening into a bit of a shape. I was so impressed! He felt like a big boy for sure!

There is nothing more fun than when the first tentative baby steps under saddle start to become glimpses of "real horse!"

Also, after I turned him out this afternoon, he galloped out to the end of the pasture to meet his friends... so I got to witness the first view of what promises to be an INCREDIBLE gallop. As I said on facebook earlier, "This little red appy promises to make someone a NEAT event horse!"

Does it get any better than this?

I wish I had more pictures from the weekend, but I was a slouch and failed to get any of things like: Lisa, Megan and I on horseback all at the same time, Megan teaching her reiner how to jump, Lisa riding my friend's big QH XC for the first time etc etc.

But I did get these two, and they're super cute. What a way to sum up my Saturday:

PSF gang after waiting out the storm on Saturday, ready to ride!

Me, Lisa and Megan out at Drakes that evening. Wish I had one with Leslie, Tracy and Amy in it too, but again, forgot!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Good has so many practical definitions in the horse world.

When you ride, you learn to see the good in everything... for example: "Well, I fell off in the ditch on XC, but that means I got to school XC the next day, so that was good!"

And then there's "Well, I stayed on, and we (eventually) jumped everything, so it was a good school..."

Or "He was good... he nearly ripped my left arm off the whole way around and we jumped the first three sideways, but it was a good run."

And then you get into "Well, he was good." (As in nothing stellar, but nothing bad happened either.)

Or when you come out of the show ring and look to your trainer and the only thing she says is "Good." Which is generally followed by "But...."

But on the other hand, you might get a "Good!" which means just what it sounds like!

But when you have a really, really, really good day, sometimes all you can think to say is "REALLY, REALLY GOOD."

I had a REALLY GOOD school on my one-eyed boy on Saturday. He hasn't been willing to jump down into the water since I had his eye removed without one helluva fight. On Saturday he jumped in the first time I asked him from the trot, a little sideways, but in none-the-less. We went around the next time with a strong canter and he popped right down again. Then we changed the entrance location (so he could jump in straight instead of at an angle since we were avoiding a jump on the "out" side of the water) and he went right in again... crooked, but IN!

He's still out of shape, so we didn't do a lot, but he jumped everything, schooled the banks and ditches and put a couple things together. You always hear the big names talk about time slowing down on course and it never really makes sense until you experience it. When you're not fighting for every step, you find that you have time to make some adjustments and ride the horse underneath you. I've had that with Brandy a few times now, and felt it on Saturday with Ari. I'm hoping this is the new ride I have with him- it felt good and I walked off course saying "I really DO think we can go training together... maybe just once, but there is no reason to think he can't do it." He was very rideable and I can't think of a time he flipped his head.

The other "good" thing going on is the discovery of my horse's love for the Micklem bridle. Ari took it IMMEDIATELY. I mean, really. It was a no brainer to keep him in it. His whole manner and way of going has changed. I have never felt him really stretch into a connection over his topline before but he does it in this bridle. I don't know why but I'm not going to question it. With the strap configuration I think it is very "snug" but comfortable around his mouth which encourages him to be soft instead of bracing. We'll see!

Brandy in her new bridle!
I had to order a different one for Brandy, because apparently the Princess is a "large horse" (FINALLY, she says, someone who acknowledges that I am a Very Big Pony). It arrived on Friday and I rode her in it today. While it wasn't as instantly brilliant as it was on Ari, it was an improvement and I noticed a couple of things that make me think it's "good" for her. First, a few times as she was trotting around in a steady connection, I saw her big, adorable ears start to "flop"- just for a second, but no denying it. Floppy ears mean relaxed horse, so that is a very good thing. Second, while we were doing some trot work, I heard her tummy rumble. This could very well be coincidence, but again, rumbling tumblys usually mean happy horse and it's not something I typically hear while doing dressage so? Maybe it was the bridle. The last thing was when I walked her out, she dropped her head, poked her nose out and walked happily without jigging or snatching the bit.

I would encourage ANYONE who has a fussy horse to give this bridle a try. I'm slowly trying it on any of my fussy horses in the barn. At this point my two seem to like it. Snickers doesn't normally go in a flash- I think eventually she would come around to like it, but she wasn't an "instant win" like Ari and B. I will try it on Gracie soon, who also doesn't go in a flash and see how she responds as well! More to come on that. :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Test post!

I just got a blogging app for my phone... Testing it out to see how it works!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to organize for a horse show...

One of my dear friends is just getting back into the swing of traveling to horse shows, and had a bit of a hard time getting her "stuff" together at the her first one back. Unfortunately, she was stabled down the barn aisle from us so we didn't have a chance to help her as much as we could, so I told her I was going to do an organization clinic for her... which turned into a blog entry, in case anyone else in the world is interested in how I organize.

Until this year, I had to rely on others to haul to events, so I needed to be neatly organized with as little "fluff" as possible. I got down to three Rubbermaid trunks, my two saddles, a fan, a bale of hay and my horse. Now that I have my own rig, I can spread out a little, but I can still revert back to that if I need to split a trip and ride with someone else!

Having traveled with SO MANY different people has helped me gleen a bunch of different ideas on packing, organizing and set up at a horse trial, and while what I do may not work exactly for everyone it sure does work for me! Different venues require different set-ups, of course, but overall, this works pretty well.

The most important part for me is having lots of organizing within organizing- for example, in my biggest trunk, I have several different bags to keep things from getting jumbled. Also, at the show, as many hangers to put "things" as possible- I have found the four prong bridle racks that hook over your door to be helpful, and currently love the four prong tack hook hangers more than anything.
Over the door bridle hanger
Four-prong hanging tack organizery-thingy-bobber

The next thing you need is this amazing checklist, originally by my dear friend Kelly, and since modified to suite my needs. The more you show, the more doubles you'll want of everything. There are very few things I lay hands out outside of a horse trial, most everything stays packed away so I don't have to worry about getting it packed back up. I have a crop, dressage whip, helmet, boots, saddle pads (three), XC and show jumping boots, pitch fork, wheelbarrow, buckets, hose, all my hardware, fan, grooming equipment, bath buckets, belt etc that are dedicated to showing. That is another expensive expenditure, but it really does pay off in the end.

From there, I keep things organized like this- I have a 50 gallon Stanley Trunk that lives in front of my stall. In it resides:
  • Standing wraps
  • Hardware bag- snaps, clips, hangers, zip ties, staple gun, bungee cords, chain, rope, extension cords, etc. etc.
  • Horse-boot bag- I use re-useable shopping bags from Kroger, since they are a great size, cheap, and can be chucked in the wash and keep my stadium and XC boots together plus an extra set of bell boots
  • Anything I need for stall set-up- bridle racks, the hanger I hang my hay bag off of, tack hangers, stall guard, saddle rack if it will fit
  • Stud kit in a small tool box
  • Poultice, shop towels and gloves
  • Rags, in another re-usable Kroger bag
  • A towel to hang over the stall between the stall bars and my saddle/bridle rack
  • My nifty as-seen-on-TV folding stool that I get so much crap about
Blue grooming bag, the pink zipper bag has the hardware in it, by boot bag is hidden, but you can see my purple stud keep peeking though. I never said I was neat... just organized!
The Stanley trunk has a tote in the top of it as well, and I've just ordered an extra, so I'll have two. In the top of it, I keep:
  • Hand mirror
  • Baby wipes
  • Braiding kit (bands, EZ braid comb, hair clips, etc)
  • SHARP scissors 
  • Sharpie
  • Duct tape
  • Stock tie and pin
  • Safety pins
  • Old bridle numbers to turn over and re-use on my horse's halter at competitions
  • Emergency poncho
  • Horse treats!!!

 From there, I have another Rubbermaid tote that keeps my saddle pads- one for dressage and stadium (I share a white pad for both events), one for XC and one for schooling. My XC vest, along with my new pinny holder, and any coolers or sheets and half pads I may need for my horse for the weekend. If I'm traveling with someone else, this will also get my girths and bridles if they'll fit neatly, plus my clippers.

Another small tote holds my horses rations, separated into ziplock bags for each meal, as well as extra probios, electrolytes, bute and other supplements- Brandy's omeprazole packets, Ari's MSM and some extra grain and beetpulp in case of emergency.
The little blue tote is for grain etc. The kitty little box is my garbage can in the trailer, and the small garbage can actually holds beet pulp and a scoop.
And thennnnnn, I get a little obsessive with bags...
Garment bag, boot bag, XC helmet bag, velvet helmet bag, with show halters hanging and extra whip and crop, also.
 My XC helmet has its own bag which contains the helmet, a hair net, my XC gloves, watch and armband. All in one place. The only issue I have with this right now is if do stadium and dressage the same day, I find myself without my armband sometimes. Honestly, I will probably eventually just buy another out of convenience, but my armband has found itself living in the tote of my Stanley trunk, lately.

My dressage and stadium helmet has its bag, and in it I keep another hair net and my "nice" gloves.

My boots have their own bag, with their own set of spurs attached to them.

My garment bag holds my coat and white dressage breeches, and in the pocket, my belt, an couple pairs of boot socks and regular socks and an extra pair of seamless beige underwear and an extra sports bra, just in case.

While I'm packing at home, I have another canvas bag that holds three pairs of breeches (schooling, stadium and XC) plus two white Kerrits ventilator shirts (my show shirt of choice) and my pink XC shirt AND some extra socks. (Do you sense a theme here?!) This bag stays with my show stuff and doesn't go back to the hotel, since I forget to pack for the day often.

All of these bags can fit into my Stanley tote if I'm traveling with someone else, as well as my grooming bag- which is dedicated to showing so I don't ever worry about forgetting something. My grooming bag has all the vitals (including a bot knife!!) plus WD-40 and STICKY SPRAY!

Yet ANOTHER bag has my first aid equipment, hole punch, farrier equipment (rasp, nail puller, clinch tightner, etc)- this stays in my trailer for the show and if I'm traveling with someone else, I check to see if they have their own and if they mind sharing so it can stay home.

My buckets live stacked within each other, one for grain, two for water and three small buckets for soaking beet pulp or cleaning tack and the top one is my bath bucket with shampoo, conditioner, sponge, hose nozzle and scraper in it.

Another grooming tote holds various tack cleaning equipment, polishes, waterless shampoos, hoof polish, show sheen, detanglers, quick braid- things that may spill, basically.

I also keep a binder with my horse's coggins, health papers, a copy of every dressage test from USDF Intro A to First level and USEA BN-Training, directions to venues, old dressage tests, fliers of things for sale that need to be put up, extra packing check-lists, dressage arena diagrams etc.

When I traveled with others, I had a bag for each of my saddles so if they had to be lobbed somewhere, I wouldn't worry. It saved a lot of hassle. The bags are put away for now, but I will certainly pull them out again if need be!

From there, a cooler stocked with drinks, an insulated zipper bag (Supah-proof) with snacks, my folding camp chair, rubber boots... and I'm ready to rock!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wear your damn helmet, reprised!

Remember this post? About wearing your damn helmet? Posted April 27, 2010?

And how I mentioned Courtney King Dye, who'd had a fall and was recovering from a traumatic brain injury?

Here she is now. I suggest you watch the whole thing.

Here she is prior to her accident.

And here is her blog, that I follow. It's really fun to read, honestly. She has such a good attitude and reading about her therapy is always incredible- she has been doing mounted therapy and has switched onto a clients horse (I believe that is the story) that is a quiet but has dressage training, so she can start incorporating therapy with her passion.