Monday, October 16, 2017

October Blog Hop Questions!

This list of questions is from Liz Stout over at In Omnia Paratus and I thought it'd be fun to play along too.

  1. Most equestrians quote fall as their favorite season to ride. Are you one of those that does? Or maybe not; what is your favorite season to ride, if so?
  2. Do you clip your horse in the fall? Or maybe you wait a little longer? 
  3. Have any costume riding events in October on/near/around Halloween? What will your horse be dressed as? What about yourself? What would you dress as if money/time were absolutely no issue?
  4. Is your horse afraid of any autumn colors? Or maybe has a certain quirk that appears only in the autumn?
  5. Pumpkin spice. It's everywhere right now. Find any natural pumpkin [squash] spice-esque recipes for your horse? 
  6. We're getting to the end of the calendar year, any final few "big-bang" shows to look forward to?
  7. Winter is coming. What are you doing to winterize your trailer/rig/car?
  8. Do you have any autumn traditions you/your horse follow?
  9. October in many places marks the beginning of deer hunting season. Does this affect your riding at all? Do you wear blaze orange or modify your schedule to accommodate the season?
  10. What are you most looking forward to goal-wise as the final months of the calendar year approach?

1. Fall is definitely my favorite season! It's when I have my birthday and so far here in Michigan, it's when my favorite events that I'm most likely to attend occur!  (Oak Leaf Run, Hunter Pace, Hunter Trial, Polly Ann trail ride and this year, Metropark Express). As a kid my birthday weekend was also usually the weekend of the Pony Club camp.  I got bitten early by horse=fall=love.

The weather is usually the perfect temperature of not too cold but just crisp enough that your horse has some zip! Plus I love the colors as the trees change and walking through a forest path with a multicolored carpet of leaves.

2.  I do not clip at all in the winter months. Gwyn gets fuzzy as a yak if she so desires. We don't ride nearly often or at a high enough intensity to justify the clipping and I'd rather she be outside unblanketed as much as possible. If we were in training for some serious competition and needed to maintain condition through the winter I'd reconsider my stance. But for us, right now, unclipped and furry is the best way to be. If we happen to have a tougher ride, so be it, I'll take the time to cool her down. That's why I got a cactus cloth, after all :D

3. No events that want costumes. Actually, all my horse events are done now and we're still a few weeks out from Halloween. I really want to find a good glow in the dark paint though and paint a skeleton on Gwyn and Saffron for Halloween for people driving by on our road. I think it'd be a hoot!  When Gwyn had her snakebite face we really wanted to take her out as Two Face from Batman, or dress up as a Nazgul.  Scratch that, I still just want to dress her up as a Nazgul, fluttery gauze and gore and all. And then ride through town.

4. Nothing I've been able to pinpoint. Maybe dead deer? But that's not an always in autumn kind of thing.

5. Until this question was asked I was not aware that pumpkin was an option for horses. A quick google yielded a few recipes!
Pumpkin Oatmeal Horse Cookies 
(Preheat oven to 350 degrees.)
4 cups whole oats
1 can pumpkin
2 cups water
2 tsp baking powder
1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp honey or molasses (optional)
  • Mix the pumpkin and water together well.
  • Add the flour, oats, and spices.
  • Add the optional honey or molasses.
  • Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased cookie sheet
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until done.
6.  I just had my biggest big bang, at Oak Leaf and I opted to not compete and just help out and volunteer. I've really enjoyed myself the most volunteering and fitting in riding where I can. This year, I did ride some, but that's it's own post, and boy does OLR deserve its own post!

7.  I need to get my trailer checked out with it's regular servicing. That's one thing I've slacked on since owning it and and I've decided this year is the one where I don't put it off any longer. I just need to find a place to do it locally.  Most of my horse friends are not near me so getting a recommendation wouldn't be super helpful. I would also like to get tire covers this year for when my trailer is sitting dormant longer.

8. No specific traditions. Though facebook has reminded me that this is the time of year when I switch over to my heated water buckets. I've yet to do that. Our nights have only just now started to drop toward freezing temperatures. It's been an oddly warm fall.

9. YES. This is HUGE! If I want to be out trail riding I HAVE to be in orange.  This is an absolute safety thing. I've got a vest and reflective orange boots for Gwyn. I've also got the materials to make a bright orange rump rug for her to wear so we're even more obnoxious and unmistakable to a hunter.

10. At this point my goal is going to be to get to a lesson once a month and ride once a week. It's an effort to make time to do those things but I know we'll be better for it. I need to call a trainer back, who got back to me right before I left for OLR and set something up with her, or at least do a trial lesson to see if we're a good match.  So my biggest goal is setting myself up with a trainer. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

9.1 Miles of Michigan Horse Country

On October 8 the Metamora Hunt Club held their annual fall Hunt Pace. It was my birthday weekend (yesterday!) and I'd be damned if I was going to miss this. I loved the ride last year and since my summer has become one canceled horse event after another I was NOT letting this one slip through my fingers.

The weater the night before was dramatic with the town tornado siren sounding an alarm, but the day of the pace itself was beautiful. A cold front had moved in and while it wasn't exactly cold (WTH, October?!) it wasn't ridiculously hot and was, imo, perfect trail riding weather.

Gwyn was a sassy brat and took 30 minutes to load. This is my fault. We haven't done anything all summer except the one xcountry schooling and unless trailer loading stays fresh, or I pen in the trailer, she makes it hard. I'm kicking myself for that. I finally had to recruit Eric and with just his physical presence as rear pressure she walked right on and stood quietly eating hay while we locked everything up.

I swear to glob, this mare...

So that's something to work on. 

I live 15 minutes from the pace. Sooo close!

It was held in a new location this year, and the trailers were parked in a huge field that also apparently is part air strip. We did not park on the actual air strip part.  There were already a ton of trailers when I arrived (fastest time went out at 9 am, I got there at 9:30) and there were many more that arrived after I did!

I managed to hook up with an endurance acquiantance who was coming with her sister and eventing friend. They didn't arrive until after 10 am so I left miss naughty pants on the trailer while I watched the goings on and filled out paperwork and gladly accepted some sherry.

My coordination was pretty perfect today!  I have a new to me saddle pad in turquoise with brown and cream trim, two horse tack bridle and breastcollar, purple bootcut Pipers, purple boots on Gwyn and a teal Kerrits coolfil type shirt. It's long sleeve but mesh? So you're protected from UV but breezes keep you cool!

I'm torn on the Pipers though. They're the bootcut and were on super duper sale. The kneepatches are extra long so you don't have to use half chaps. I tried to use half chaps but my zipper wouldn't move on the pair I had on hand so I rode without. I didn't chafe at all, so the breeches did their job. The fabric is nice, but they were SO long on me! Traipsing after an escaping Gwyn during loading had the bottom halves just soaked from the morning dew. My socks were also totally wet since my ariats are old and  no longer waterproof. Thank goodness the socks themselves were wool, otherwise I'd have been in trouble. Anyway, the pipers feel heavy when you heft them. I think it's from the silicone on the knee patches. They're comfty and soft enough to lounge in, but I think for endurance the pants themselves are like unnecessary weight. And I don't need more, just look at me, LOL.

But, the gear worked for the ride. So that's what's important and Gwyn doesn't seem sore, so that's even better!

There were multiple sherry stops and one or two water stops along the ride. There was even an accordian player!

Not much by way of fall color. It's been too dry.

That's Shannon on the gray Arab. She's part of the endurance community and I've seen her frequently at rides. I had just seen her at Metropark Express where I decided to volunteer and we had friended one another on facebook, which is how I learned she was coming to this!

Shannon's friend Danielle is on the pony HalfieX. She's an eventer who trains with the lady that I had my cross country lesson with! Small world :D We first met at Metropark Express where she did her first LD on her eventer.

Pretty farms.

Danielle taking a second shot at this jump. The first attempt involved a collision with a tree and an unexpected exit from the saddle.

The bay with the red ribbon is Shannon's sister. She was a load of fun!

Then we had a covered bridge obstacle! All of the obstacles were optional and it didn't matter if you did or didn't do them. We did the bridge and Gwyn was very good. Unsure at first because it was big, clompy and hollow, but once she was all the way on she went across confidently. Good mare, making up for earlier. Honestly, our only spook was when we went by a dead deer and she jumped sideways. Who could blame her? The scent was awful to ME.

Plastic booze glasses

Water crossing, again optional, but the horses all enjoyed the wade through the water.

Shannon and Danielle

Random statuary

Nearly done! This group was decent. But we were caught behind some walkers for a while who just would not let us pass. It was very frustrating for our group.

Some fall color on my way home.

And then, as icing on the cake, I still had to run into work (it was a very busy day). I took the kids with me so Eric could have some time to himself.

Sunset at our little farm. A great end to the day.

There should be 'pro' photos posted eventually. That will get its own post. Many people were smitten with Gwyn though she always gets called a 'he'...

Saturday, August 12, 2017

In the intermittent rain, plus the Two Horse Tack fit update

I'm going to be on solo mom duty all day tomorrow while Eric takes the truck and trailer to help his mom move furniture.

So today was for me. In the morning I made relish (See the Firefly blog for more details on that eventually) and then once Hazel was napping it was out to the barn. 

The rain was really refreshing, light but not a mist and not constant. 

First, I was trimming some flares and what do I see but a blown abscess. This mare, I swear. I only know she gets these after the fact. Good, I guess, but she does not need to be so stoic!

When I first reviewed the breastcollar from Two Horse tack I didn't really have a good way to judge the fit because I wasn't using my saddle. But here we go! I've added SO MANY holes to the biothane. And my hole punch must suck because it was not really easy...

But I finally tried a different configuration and now it's not nearly as droopy! I'm pretty pleased with the fit at this point! There's a perfect amount of room in her shoulder, so going down a size really wasn't going to be an option. And honestly, if I didn't need the girth loop I wouldn't have needed to make such drastic adjustments.

"Stop taking pictures of me, Mom!"

So we started with lunging. She was not nearly the wild mare of last week but she still had her moments.

Because of the abscess I was studying her very closely to make sure she was sound.


Dork x2 But nicely uphill, LOL

Then my time to get on! We worked on transitions, lots of walk trot, not anticipating. I was doing a pattern of walking the long side, trot the short and she started guessing what was going to happen so I switched it up and she started guessing again. Smart mare!

After that it was more bending and lateral work. All said I rode about 30 minutes. Probably no more than a mile of arena work.

Saffron loves the arena. That's her rolling spot.

Getting rained on and enjoying it.

Then afterwards I bathed Gwyn in this stuff! We'll see how well it works.

Then she got her dinner.

All told, it was a good day. We went over the neighbor's house after the kids were asleep to roast s'mores and look for the Perseids. I saw quite a few before the clouds rolled in!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A sunday ride

I've been having issues with cell reception lately so no GPS tracking for me this time. I did maaaaybe a mile.

After a full day of barn chores yesterday, including getting what I needed to fix one of the dutch doors to the stalls that Gwyn broke, I decided I was going to ride today.  I had promised Kaylee a trip to the Disney store so she could use her gift card that we didn't bring with us on vacation to Disney and while we were at the mall, I grabbed some clothes for work. I left Eric with Hazel.

Unfortunately, Eric was not feeling well. I bought lunch for us and we headed home only to find that Hazel had just passed out for her nap and Eric was ready to doze off as well. Fine by me!

Kaylee and I ate lunch then headed outside to play with the horses. She helped me groom Gwyn and then I spent some time braiding Gwyn's mane. At this point Hazel woke up and Eric, still feeling awful (and not even Man-Flu(tm) but legit 100+ fever awful) went back to bed after passing me Hazel. So I took Hazel out to the barn with me and tacked up Gwyn. Then off to the arena we went for lunging!

Thank FSM she has never done this when I'm riding her. Also, no reins or line on her. I unclipped it all (love the scissor snaps on the reins!) because I intended on this free lunging and didn't want anything to catch and break.


Saffron also free lunges.

Invisible jump!

Some of this was naughtiness. She didn't want me to catch her. So we did some tough work on the actual line and I made her step under herself and really lift her back. She was working nice and round by the time Kaylee came back and wanted to ride. Our neighbor was mowing and had stopped to watch us.

As I was bringing Gwyn over to the step ladder, she swung her butt away (cause she thought we were still lunging, even though I had my whip tucked back, dunno, body language maybe confused her? I did have Hazel on my back and Kaylee next to me) and then double barrel kicked into the air! I was shocked. She has NEVER done this before. It was away from me and the kids so I wonder if she got bit by a horsefly or something. Totally weird. She was fine the whole time after that.

Only moments after the double barrel. Kaylee climbed on all by herself with the step ladder. I'm really proud of her! She tried steering but hasn't quite gotten the hang of it yet. She loves her new helmet too! Having the perfect fit has really helped her willingness to wear it.

So we did a lunge line lesson so she could just be balanced and feel the movement underneath her.

Gwyn was slow and careful. Good mare.

Then it was my turn! I put Hazel off to the side with Kaylee where they dug in the dirt a bit.

I missed this view. It was too long between rides. With work getting hectic I both don't have time to do this and be with kids and keep the barn/house tidy but also NEED this for mental health.

Fun perspective! 


Best donkey.

Given how my time has gotten away from me, I'm amending goals for competition this year. I'll likely just keep doing intro rides at the endurance events I want to drive to (Metropark Express in September and then Oak Leaf Run in October).  I REALLY enjoy the volunteer part of endurance rides. I get to be social with everyone while still getting a horse fix. I think my plan for Oak Leaf specifically is to volunteer both days and just ride in the afternoon unofficially. That way Gwyn goes camping with me, I get to ride and I also get to volunteer. Until I have better time management with conditioning both Gwyn and myself, it's only asking for trouble to try and even do LDs, especially with both our sizes, realistically speaking. Neither of us are fit enough.

The eventing derby I wanted to try is next weekend and the entries closed on August 1st, so I'm late for that plus the dressage test requires cantering and I'm really not confident in our ability to remain in a dressage court at a canter tracking left. That's our biggest weakness at the moment. So my plan is through the winter to get some lessons and iron that out. I DO want to do one of the local dressage shows and do some walk/trot tests. There are several more through the year. I just need to pay attention to when entries close. October, as usual, is my horse event month with a hunter pace, hunter derby and oak leaf plus the polly ann trail ride. It's positively packed.

Hopefully with a new person hired at work, things will be a touch less hectic for me and I can more easily fit riding in and some off horse exercise as well.