Tuesday, October 24, 2017

1.5 Miles at home!

A coworker pointed out today that my truck's tabs were out of date... uh... oops?  I didn't have much to do at work, and I could renew online since it was past the expiration date (my birthday...) so I skipped the last couple hours of work and headed to the secretary of state. That didn't take long to do as there was barely a line and I was on my way home. It was blustery and occasionally raining but I found myself longing to be in the saddle and not minding the weather.

As I talked with Eric I mentioned how I could totally get in a quick ride if I didn't have to pick the girls up from daycare and he asked if I could be done by six... It was 4:50 pm and I was 5 minutes from home. I totally could do it.

Anyway, I got to ride :D

Rain Clouds on the Way
I ran inside as soon as I got home and peed, grabbed riding pants and headed downstairs to get my boots and two new bits I ordered. I wanted to use one of them today to see how Gwyn like them. She honestly doesn't appear to have a super big preference for what's in her mouth, at least not so far as I can tell, and I want something to remind her that she is supposed to turn when I ask her.

For now I tried the happy mouth french link three ring elevator. I've been using a french link baucher and she's been good in that. I've also got a mullen happy mouth 4 ring elevator. I was worried they'd be too small, but it seems that 5 3/4 fits her. So yay!

Anyway, I groomed quickly, tacked up and then took a very reactive horse outside to mount. I had to grab my step stool from the trailer but she was good and stood still, even if she was quivering from the wind and Saffron being upset about us being outside the pasture.

With a very forward walk we went out to the front pasture and did a circuit around. I could FEEL her wanting to spook, and I hadn't gotten any wiggles out with lunging (no time) so rather than stay by the road with all the cars and trucks driving home, I took her up the driveway to see if we could access the farm fields behind the neighbor.

Unfortunately, the brush has grown up a bit too much for our usual crossover spot, but the soybeans are all harvested so getting back out there will be possible, I just need to clear a spot. I tried a few other areas and walked into a trail cam spot. Oops? At least I was wearing my safety orange. I think I'm going to prioritize my safety orange rump rug creation.

I love this view.
Once the field turned out to be a bust I walked Gwyn back down to our property and decided to work on some road desensitization. I eventually want to be able to cross the road and ride on the high school property perimeter. Rush hour, even in Dryden, is still too much for Gwyn though. As I was coming back down I saw that Eric had arrived with the girls. I walked out to the road on the neighbors driveway and then to ours on the grass strip we have between pasture and road. Gwyn was okay, but very jumpy and much more spooky. She had been nearly relaxed after the trip up to the field and back. We stopped to say hi to the kids and again, Gwyn relaxed. Hazel wanted to follow us but Eric herded them inside the house. It wasn't pleasant weather really to stay outside with the kids.

Gwyn and I went back down the driveway to stand by the road a little bit while cars passed. Then I decided we'd work in the front pasture instead of having to get off, go in the pasture and get on again for the arena.

I focused on sitting up for myself, but also kept the thought of impulsion from behind driving Gwyn forward into my hands. I wanted bend and steady contact. We were infrequently achieving that when I was lessoning with Jim. I didn't have any steering issues in the pasture, which is good and Gwyn was stretching down a lot starting to seek contact out.

Time to be done!
I also worked on posting evenly and slowly and rating her back with my seat during the trot rather than hanging on her mouth. After a nice trot circle I had her hop over my cavaletti and she was lovely!  We did lots of serpentines and changes of direction. Then I went back to the walk and tried to get a good working walk, again with that impulsion from behind and bend through her body.

I thought it was a good ride, but having eyes on the ground will be more helpful. I've finally contacted a trainer and have a lesson scheduled for the beginning of November. She'll come to me for the first one at least. I hope it's a good fit. She's not specifically a dressage or eventing trainer, but at this point we need more of an all around person (or dressage) to help us out before getting into specifics.

My cavaletti. I have supplies to make one more, which I should probably do at some point.

So there's that! We walked back and I untacked. The horses were upset I left without giving them dinner, but they're nothing compared to what Hazel would say if I fed the horses without her... And I was back in the house at six pm on the dot! As agreed.

It was a good way to end the day :D

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Oak Leaf Run 2017

What. A. Weekend.

And now that it's been a week, I have time to sit down and write about it!

My parents flew in from their new state of South Carolina, partly to help Eric with the girls while I was away, and partly because they were trying to stay busy until it was time to close on their new house. I took Friday off and cleaned the house a bit while packing up for the trip. I got on the road a couple hours later than I intended, but I honestly wasn't in a huge rush and I knew I'd be arriving before dark, which would be an improvement over the past two years, lol. 
Even though I wasn't planning to ride competitively this year, I WAS bringing Gwyn, come hell or high water. The drive over was great. We just reactivated the wi-fi in the truck so I had signal the whole way and listened to podcasts or talked to Eric as he drove home from work. The truck had wifi the whole weekend so I was able to check in with family when I had time (which was like.. .never)

Gwyn seemed to know that we were there to have fun. I got the highline set up first thing with hay on one end and water buckets on the other to encourage Gwyn to move around. She figured out she could move back and forth pretty quickly. The camp site was all sand and easily drive throughable. I like it! And right by the bathroom (the green building behind the haybag)

Toward dusk with the tent set up now with rainfly. I knew it was going to be rainy. I was hoping what I had would be enough (hah... hah... hahahahahah)  I figured I'd hunker down in the horse trailer if I really needed to. In fact, I purposefully swept it out and laid down my outdoor rug in the trailer just in case. I used it as a changing room. So roomy!

To keep an eye on Gwyn I stuck reflective wraps on her legs (loose) and braided in a glow stick to her mane. She was wearing a leather halter and also a rope halter. I used the leather halter for the high line rope.

Ride meeting on Friday. The weather was surprisingly mild for mid October in Michigan. 

My tent. This year I decided rather than layer on the blankets and cushions and sleep on the truck bed, I was going to bring the cot. It was the best decision. I had my sleeping bag and two blankets and I was plenty warm.

But then it was like this ALL DAY.

Camp site in the rain.The trail went past this site ALL day so Gwyn had to watch all the riders going out. It was either great training for her, or just pure torture and meanness on my part. I can't decide which. I know which one Gwyn thinks it is.

Us volunteers (I was the ride timer all day) hung out in the pavilion. Thank goodness for the pavilion. It would have been a miserable day if we hadn't had it. Papers stayed (mostly) dry and there were picnic tables for dry seating.

While it was raining all day, it wasn't ridiculously cold, which was good. I had brought my muck boots so my feet stayed cozy warm and dry, which pretty much kept me happy. I had a poncho but it started ripping halfway through the day and basically became useless. I wish I had remembered my rain jacket or an umbrella. Next year.

Cute horse I was asked to keep an eye on while his rider ran to the bathroom. He stopped eating to watch her go and wouldn't eat again until she came back. It was sweet.

The long wait into the night. This year was the first year Oak Leaf (that I'm aware of) has had a 75 mile ride. There was one rider who did the 75. We also had a planned 25 mile LD evening ride, which would have been amazing to do. The trail markers the ride manager's sister cooked up were amazing and reusable! Two people decided to do the evening LD. So we were still working through the Saturday potluck (Soooo much food!)

The rain got heavier and then it started to get windy AND thunder and lightning! Our riders persevered though! The rider finished her first 75 in the pouring rain and thunder and horse was still ready for more. Apparently she had been boasting at the last ride that she had never had to compete in the rain.

Don't tempt fate, kid. Look what it did to you. TO US.


The next morning I woke up to no rain on the tent (which kept me dry!) aside from what the wind was blowing down from the trees. I helped call the start for the Sunday ride since I actually had a voice and can project really well. Then, after breakfast, I decided that I was going to ride my damn horse regardless of weather. It was still spitting and pouring rain in spurts so this was a big mental hurdle I had to deal with.

Gwyn seemed relieved when I started tacking her up. I hopped on and rode out on the camp loop and came back in as riders were starting to come into their hold. The ride manager got my attention and asked if I wanted to help unmark trails since I was already mounted.

Um. Yes!

So I was handed a bag and instructed which loop would be a good one to do (since I did want to get home eventually and had a 2.5 hour drive ahead of me) So Gwyn and I unmarked some of the trail (Creek View Loop)  This was REALLY good practice for Gwyn, who was very confused at first why we kept stopping. Then she realized we were stopping at the colored streamers. THEN she started poking them all with her nose. She figured the game out! We pulled down plates that were stapled to the trees and the ribbons that were clipped to branches. At one point I dropped a ribbon and hopped off to grab it. Getting back on was also a good lesson for the Goober who had to stand still. And yay, with a decent bank I can still mount from the ground, all good things to know and do.

Loving on me while I try and pack up. She also knew the carrots were kept in the truck.
I was given a nice bottle of cider as a thank you when we got back. It's pretty much been decided for me that I time these rides that I can get to. I don't mind. It's a relaxing weekend, even with the rain (and my period, dammit) and this time I got to both help out and go camping with my horse and just be without kids for a little bit. 

The first trail I did was the black loop through camp. Then I took down trail markers on blue. The tiny heart is where my campsite was. It was about 2 miles all told of riding, but wonderful and relaxed and chill. And it stopped raining while I rode!

The drive home was uneventful and I came home to two sick kids who very much missed me, though Hazel was MAD at me for a bit and wouldn't let me touch her or play with her until nearly bed time. 

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'...