Thursday, November 30, 2017

Day 30 - My Future with Horses

Day 30- Your future with horses

From Clover Ledge Farm

Husband willing (no seriously) I will be at least around horses forever. My plan is to keep Gwyn forever, finances willing, even through retirement. If we've got the means once she's retired, I'd like to get another Standardbred for riding. I don't know when that will be, hopefully not for at least another 10 years.  Gwyn is young, she's got lots of years ahead of her if she's treated right and I fully intend to be there for all of them and give her that quality of care. There's no reason (for now) that she can't be ridden for at least another 15 years.

My goal for Gwyn is to have her be that horse you look at in the pasture and go THAT horse is 30?!?!?!

I want that. I think we can do it. I want that mare to give pony rides to my grandkids.

Luff you, snozz face
For myself, I want to be like Jane, the woman who fostered my love for horses. She was in her 70s and dragging hay bales around. I want to have 40+ more years of horses in my life. Whether that's always going to be with having horses on my own property is up in the air, especially if we move back to Washington. But I want there to always be horses.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Day 29 - An equine related trend I do not like

Day 29- A style/trend in tack/riding apparel that you don’t like

From Clover Ledge Farm

Okay, I'll be honest. I went a totally different direction at first. Thank you reading comprehension for failing me.  *deletes first post and starts over*

I guess I'm not a big fan on having a huge amount of junk on a horse's face, whatever the discipline. But honestly I'm kind of a 'do what works for you and your horse' person and I tend not to pass judgement on things outside of my wheelhouse. I might side eye them, but I'm not gonna judge until I can back up my opinion with facts.

My other post had pictures. It just also had nothing to do with tack or riding apparel  😅

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Nov 25 Ride

Fairly self explanatory. I've chosen at least what I consider to be interesting snippets. Keep the volume low, the wind can really whip up in the farm fields and I basically live surrounded by now harvested fields with minimal trees to break it.

Notable moments:

1:45  My cross over point from my neighbor's yard
2:25  Gwyn fusses over water and mud
3:00  We get onto the private road
3:20  Gwyn spooks at a no trespassing sign
4:10  We practice our lesson stuff then cross back to the neighbor's property
4:45 The view from 'up on the hill' down to our property and over the marsh and neighbor's pond
5:05 Coming back to the barn and our yard and a tour around the house plus bonus Saffron

3.1 miles and 1.03 miles, YTD 39.65

The weather has returned to its mild mannered self and I am taking FULL advantage. Plus I need to practice for my lesson this Saturday (WHEEEEE!!!!)

On Saturday the 25th, I decided to ride up in the farm fields. I do have permission to ride on the properties that I was on and I pointedly stay off the ones I haven't gotten permission for yet. Some frustratingly put up no trespassing signs AFTER I rode out there once so I do suspect there are trail cams. Anyway. Have some screen grabs from my helmet cam. Once I get the video uploaded to youtube, I'll share it.

 I got 3.1 miles of riding in that day and covered a decent amount of ground. I also worked on getting Gwyn on the bit. It was really productive for a trail ride.
Tonight I did 1.03 miles in the arena and then a jaunt around the pasture before calling it a night. Since during the week I basically get home after dark I've resolved to just ride after the kids are in bed. It's really pleasant and I'm enjoying it a lot more than I expected.

A confused pony who would like her hay now thankyouverymuch.

How I ride at night when there's minimal to no moon.

We can see pretty well!

UGH. Okay. Naughty donkey. So I decided to pick the first exercise from the ground poles and jumping exercises book by Cherry Hill. I figured it would be something to practice and give us a purpose (other than practicing the principles from my lesson) for the ride so I wouldn't just feel like we were toodling.

I set the book and my new measuring tape (JUST for measuring jump distances!) to the side of my 'mounting block'.  Saffron came over and PICKED UP THE BOOK AND STARTED FLINGING IT.

So I chased her around the arena. I got a REALLY nice canter out of Gwyn while doing so and was pleasantly surprised! Like, a canter that I would need WAY more leg to maintain and felt very nice underneath me.  Gwyn has a long way to go to really have the stamina for a good canter but this is a HUGE step up from where we were! She's definitely gaining muscle, we just need to keep working more frequently than before!

After I was done doing arena work we practiced Standing By The Gate So Your Rider Can Unlatch It Without Dismounting.  This took some time and required going back to basics (Yes, you can walk straight on the side without swinging your butt in and away from the fence) (Yes, you can stand quietly by the gate without swinging 90 degrees to face the gate)  Eventually I was able to unhook the gate and open it. From there we ventured out into the pasture, leaving our lights behind.

Up on the Hill, looking down at the arena. Right side is my solar powered flood lights, left side is the barn lights.
 We toodled around the pasture and I wished for less clouds and more moon. Then it was back to the arena to turn off my lights, take a selfie in the dark and go untack.
A good Goober Pony repping that sweet purple Two Horse Tack!

Day 28 - Helmet

Day 28- Helmet or no helmet?

From Clover Ledge Farm

*points to title*

The science backs it up. I really have nothing further to say on the matter.

Have I ridden without a helmet? Yes, but by far 99% of my time in the saddle is while wearing a helmet. If I fall off and hit with some part of the helmet it is immediately replaced. It's not something I will ever shortcut.

Helmet. Always.

Plus, there's so many styles to fit heads and budgets. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Day 27 - You Know You're an Equestrian When....

Day 27- You know you're an equestrian when….. (Give 5 original ones)

From Clover Ledge Farm

1.  You don't understand why people consider lame to be an ableist term.
2.   The apple trees in your yard feed the horses more than you.
3.   You consider the quality of the jump for any deadfall trees you see as you drive.
4.   You can spot horse fencing a mile away.
5.   You don't really want to rent a horse at a ranch for a horse vacation, you'd rather bring your own!

Day 26 - Riding Pet Peeve

Day 26- Biggest riding pet peeve

From Clover Ledge Farm

Hmm, let's see.

Probably my biggest pet peeve is trail etiquette. I dealt with it directly during the hunter pace. Basically, if you are riding in a group, and another group of riders is obviously choosing a faster pace than you are, let them pass as early as possible. It's not fair to anyone to just mosey along and never acknowledge the people trailing behind you.

I haven't seen this with endurance riders. Their goal is to move down the trail and get back to camp as safely and sanely as possible.

I have not seen the same courtesy in the hunter pace and it's really annoying.

That's my biggest thing. I haven't really been super involved in enough disciplines lately other than those to have any other pet peeves. I'm pretty far removed from the irritating side of horse ownership and showing. Yay horses at home!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Day 25 - Dream Trailer

Day 25- Your dream trailer

From Clover Ledge Farm

2+1 weekender

Boom. That is all.

Something like this.  Or alternatively, this company that makes reverse slant loads in either a goose or bumper pull.

I really do like the trailer I have right now though. It's a 2H straight load Eclipse with dressing room. It's got lots of room for Gwyn and she loads into it REALLY well compared to a 2h slant that we failed over and over with. If needed I could set up a sleeping bag or cot in the trailer and sleep there if I really didn't want to tent camp. I proved that pretty well at Oak Leaf Run this year, even if I did opt to stay in my tent, lol.

I enjoy roughing it, strange as it may seem, so having a mattress and a gooseneck trailer isn't that important to me.  But my ideal would be that 2+1. I could easily camp in the trailer without changing the stalls, we could bring the ATV with us to rides and that would be an asset for ride managers.

Anyway. That was easy :) 

Day 24 - Best Riding Friend

Day 24- Your best riding friend

From Clover Ledge Farm

Okay, so we're doing this chronologically because different phases (and states) of my life have had different friends.

High School

I was a very solitary rider. I didn't fit in well with the other girls in the pony club because they all went to the same school while I was from 'the wrong side of the tracks'.  They all had the benefit of riding together and being in classes together for years. Not to mention I started later, so I was stuck with the younger girls, while my peers were in more advanced lessons. It rankled.

But there was a saving grace in Jane's Grand Niece.   (Background: Jane was the very generous lady who made horses possible for me. She went to the same church as my family which is how we connected. She got me into Pony Club)  For the 4th of July every year, Jane's family congregated at her farm in Connecticut. Her grand niece, Jill, was also a rider and I basically lived at Jane's house when Jill was there. There is no exaggeration. I would bunk in one of the spare rooms or in the bunk beds in the converted barn. We would catch fireflies in the horse pasture while the family set off fireworks and go on long trail rides every day and finish it off with an ice cold dunk in the spring fed, shady pool. Summers were glorious. Jill and I were opposites, but we found a commonality in horses.

Graduate School

In college I didn't have time for horses and while I tried to catch Jill if she was visiting from New Hampshire, we drifted apart as our interests pulled. In graduate school I discovered livejournal and the horse community therein. I connected with a lot of people that I still follow and talk with today. One fateful post led me to meeting Cheri, whose husband was also an engineer. She had four horses and needed a riding buddy. I was basically local and so a VERY deep friendship formed that has lasted to this day. If I had to pick anyone of the people I'm talking about today, Cheri would be the Bestest of best riding friends.

From many years ago (This is Nyx)

Cheri this July 2017 with Nyx still. And one of her granddaughters!

Cheri is old enough to be my mom. In fact, she has a daughter who is only a couple months younger than me. But we really connected. I went up to meet her horses and we went on a ride through the old orange groves of Florida and just... hit it off. Even our husbands were friends and we had a weekly dinner date with them and eventually an additional weekly dungeons and dragons session. Cheri and I would ride ALL the time. We went on SO many adventures. Like riding in a hurricane. Or getting pulled over by cops while on horseback.  We charted out the back roads of her town and explored as much as we could. We got to help defense research. I drove her to the equine hospital when Stella was colicking and held her tightly when she made the decision to put her down. I took shifts with her when Gwyn nearly destroyed her eye and then got bitten by the rattlesnake. I helped her back Gwyn and Nyx for the first time and she taught me all she knew about starting horses.

I cried when we left Florida because I was leaving dear friends behind. And I cried again when she offered Gwyn to me after her house was struck by lightning. In her words, she knew I understood Gwyn and would treat her right. Every time we visit Florida I visit with her. And I'll call her every once in a while after Gwyn and I have had a notable achievement or just a really good ride. She trusted me with her baby and I intend to never betray that.


When I first moved Gwyn to Washington I searched for a good barn that would be reasonably near both my work and my home. I ended up with a triangle of sorts and at this barn that seemed to have it all. All day turnout. An option for a stall with a run. Indoor arena and outdoor arena. Part self care to save money. Right on a pipeline trail and in the heart of horse town without getting too rural.

The owners lived on site but they also employed a barn manager who lived in a tiny apartment in the barn. That person was Cortney. She and I hit it off the way Cheri and I had. Cortney is the one who took me to my first endurance ride (eventually) and I agreed because I'd been reading Dom's adventures with it. Cortney introduced me to Jim, who is my most favorite dressage trainer of all time. The barn situation eventually turned sour and we all went our separate ways to new barns, Cortney to her parent's place and eventually to her own acreage in the Cascades, Jim to another barn that he could train out of, and me to a barn closer to home as my job had poofed with cuts to the FDA funding. I was also pregnant and realizing that I might not be able to do a self care boarding situation while 40 weeks pregnant.

Cortney's mom was my truck and trailer the whole time we were in Washington. She took me to horse shows and to new barns when I had to move She was the Washington grandmother for Kaylee and it was her house that we landed in for holidays when we didn't fly to see family on the east coast. She was the one I trusted for the first time a non-parent put Kaylee to bed while Eric and I were on a date. They were my second (third?) family.

2011 on the Pipeline trail with Cortney

Back to the barn, also 2011

Thanksgiving 2012, Cortney, Comet the family pony, Me, Kaylee and Cortney's sister

Also Thanksgiving 2012, with Washington Grandma. Kaylee loved her

On my very first LD, at Mount Spokane Endurance ride in 2014.

Last trail ride ever with Cortney  D: D; D;   We rode from her house to the logging trails on her mountain, out by North Bend, WA, where they got scenery shots for Twin Peaks.

The Cascade foothills.  Cortney on the left, Blaine on the right.
That last picture segues me nicely into my other section, the people I hope are friends but I'm never quite sure.

Blaine is someone I met at my final barn in Washington. She's totally cool, a geek like me and just plain down to earth. We never hung out outside of horses but I think if we had stuck around Washington that would have happened. She's the one who made my stall signs and door signs for the critters and the kids. She did a quality job and if you want something similar, please let me know and I can pass you her information. Don't worry if you're not local, I ordered them after we'd already gotten to Michigan.


There's Jennifer, who I'm starting to think is going to be a good friend. It's just hard that she lives about an hour away. She just got a rescue gelding, named Pie, and we're already planning on horse outings. She's come over a few times with her daughter and we have a lot of other stuff in common, which is great! Again, just distance.

In April I rode the intro distance with M at Brighton and later she was the ride manager at Metropark Express where I timed. We seemed to get along well for endurance horsey stuff. I expect that will a relationship that is only fostered at rides, mainly because we don't live near one another. She's another scientist though, so that's an extra foundational pillar.

Same for the W sisters, who I did the hunter pace with. We met through the endurance community, but are unlikely to have commonality outside of that.

There are some people I met through the distance derby but (AGAIN) they're on the freakin' opposite side of the state and now they're all getting into mounted archery and holding clinics where I can't easily get to them with kids. They're fun people, but with the advent of the mounted archery stuff, I feel like I've been left in the dust and that's frustrating. And with no boarding barn here, I'm unlikely to make friends who are very local. I am cautiously reaching out to a girl who's very local who is in a facebook riders group and so far we've missed each other on a few events, but maybe one day. She leaves for a year overseas in a couple months though, so I'm wary to put much energy into it.

Day 23 - LOL Me Critiquing a Pro

Day 23- Critique a famous/well known equestrian jumping round of your choosing

From Clover Ledge Farm

The rider clearly gets in the horses way judging by the ease with which the horses finishes the round once the rider has exited. We see quite a few rails down with the first few fences the pair takes, culminating in some impressive gymastics and a near circus act as the horse heroically tackles a decent vertical with significant weight around and impeding his front legs.

Once the circus act is complete, the horse shows himself to be quite handy, easily clearing the course without touching a rail. He's rather athletic too, collecting up nicely to take the large jumps from a trot. He looks to be a nice horse once his rider gets out of the way and lets him handle things. He knows his job well.

Day 22 - The Importance of Riding

Day 22- The importance of riding in your life

From Clover Ledge Farm

I get distracted by life and that's okay. I'll play catch up.

I'm fairly sure I touched on this earlier, and also in posts around the time that I'm going to mention, but riding is critical. Honestly, just being around horses is critical, enough so that I and others notice a change in my mood and behavior.

It's likely the only reason why Eric doesn't more seriously try to convince me to stop riding.

Horses are a natural antidepressant for me. I have noticeably more patience with my children and I am happier after riding.  The effects wear off slowly but if I ride again after a long absence I can feel the change in my mindset. Seeing her everyday helps, since she's at home. If I need to I can go out and just hold her and breathe her in. That tides me over when I can't ride as frequently as I would like.

My current goal with my schedule is to purposefully ride more. Now that I have thigns to work on from my lesson and another lesson scheduled where I want to show that I've made progress and practiced, it's motivation to get out. I've ridden more now that it's cold than I did in the summer. O.O

Anyway, it's important. I was able to get through college without horses but I had them at breaks to come home to. And in grad school I found Cheri with her four (Stella, Gwyn, Blanche and Nyx). I relied heavily on those horses when I finished my degree and had no job afterward.

It was hard to say goodbye when we moved to Washington and it was fortune for me, if tragedy for Cheri, that allowed me to get Gwyn. The day she stepped off the truck and was mine, my -own-, was an amazing feeling.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Do you want a cool holiday card?

Day 21 - Perfect Schooling Outfit

Day 21- Your perfect schooling outfit

From Clover Ledge Farm

Let's split this up seasonally, shall we?


Fleece balaclava, sweatshirt or jacket depending on temperature, helmet (always)
Kerrits fleece lined riding tights
Smartwool socks
Merino wool long sleeve shirt
fleece vest
Columbia jacket for those cold days

Muck boots/paddock boots

Things I'd change: Get a decent pair of actual winter riding boots.The muck boots are an accident waiting to happen and the paddock boots are very inviting to liquid and mud. I'm hoping to find something at a black friday sale at a tack shop.

Summer wear:

Summer weight riding tights or my ice fil tights
tech shirt or tank top (por que no los dos?!) or honestly whatever shirt I'm wearing that day
merino wool socks
ariat terrain paddock boots
half chaps

Summer outfits  

For in between seasons I'll use a light jacket along with my regular riding pants, boot and chaps. Or a long sleeve shirt and a vest.

For cross country I use my airowear outlyne safety vest.

Day 20 - Favorite Horse Show

Day 20- Your favorite horse show

From Clover Ledge Farm

As a kid, my favorite horse show was the Glastonbury Pony Club D Rally. It was a three day event packed into one day. You started early with dressage in the morning, then a short while later had cross country followed by show jumping. As a kid I couldn't have adult help, just my team. We showed out of the trailer and everyone helped everyone meet all the standards. We had a C advisor, one of the more advanced kids who was a general help and we had to have our proper grooming kits and first aid and pass tack and clothing inspections before we mounted every time. Everything was judged.

When I moved up in the levels, my favorite event became the 3 day regional rally. Again we were on a team and couldn't have adult help with the horse care and showing. But we had a three rider team with a 4th member who didn't ride, called the horse manager. Again, we had to support one another and we were judged on everything. I loved that cross country course, it was so much fun as a kid and it felt like I was finally at a fancy show that lasted all weekend long. Honestly, I think the feeling I got from that show is what's driving me to go back to eventing.

As an adult, my favorite show now is Oak Leaf Run, the endurance ride. I haven't really had the opportunity to go to a variety but I do know I love Oak Leaf and have gone every year we've been in Michigan. It's my birthday treat to myself. They have a beautiful campsite and beautiful trails and wonderful people. Even if it rains all weekend...

Day 19 - A Discipline I'd like to Try

Day 19- A discipline you would like to do that you’ve never done before

From Clover Ledge Farm


So, I feel pretty lucky in that I've tried several things over the years.

I have done:
Mounted Archery
Mounted Combat/Medieval Gaming
cow sorting

I would want to try western gaming/gymkahna and barrel racing. Also actual fox hunting, rather than just a hunter pace. Until then, I want to get BETTER at what I'm working on. I want to do higher level movement in dressage. I want to clear more technical cross country courses. I want to more regularly compete 25 and 30 mile distances, maybe even do a 50 mile ride. Those things I also haven't done before even though they're in the discipline that I am training for.

Monday, November 20, 2017

1.01 miles YTD 35.52 miles

Brief Blog Hop pause while I enter in my mileage for the Distance Derby, which is still going, despite some hiccups this year.

After hearing that the weather was supposed to be lows in the 40s (after highs in the 40s...) but clear and just super windy, I was determined to ride. I had all the stuff from my lesson two weeks ago just rumbling around in my brain and while I did work on the stuff on the ground, I wanted to know that I could replicate the feeling of Gwyn moving so well without having a voice talking at me and giving me instructions.


I swear I just got done writing that post about how it all just blends in and then the mare comes over looking muddy as all get out. So we had a LONG grooming session and made sure all the mud crusties were gone. In excellent news, the mud knot is still secure and her tail is mud free!

Not happy about suddenly not having her hay. Also, she was holding her breath and made me think I had to get a new girth. I let her fuss a bit, tightened and went up two holes immediately.

When you work full time (or close enough) and have kids, this is winter riding.

The lights do a good job though! It's hard to tell because phone pictures (duh) but the arena was decently lit. 

"Mom, dis light is bright"
I was toasty warm. I had a wool undershirt, fleece riding pants, my winter muck boots, fleece vest, then sweatshirt, gloves and a balaclava (that fits under my helmet! joyous day!)  

I was slightly disappointed it wasn't colder so I could try out my DIY quarter sheet.

The ride was GREAT.  I started in hand and we practiced disengaging the hindquarters ( I figured out that's what she was teaching me to do!) on the ground. Then I hopped on and we did some more practice disengaging the hindquarters and moving her feet when she tried to say that all the gusty wind was a reason to not stand still while I mounted. Oh no, mare. Not a good reason. 

I hopped on a polite mare, finally and we started off walking and warming up. I practiced holding my hands out and doing the 90 degree turns to get her to start stepping under herself. And we did lots of walk halt reverse transitions, focusing on straightness in the reverse and adjusting the hind if she got wobbly. I tried to mix it up and make random patterns in the arena.  If Gwyn started to get squirrelly because of the wind or she thought the deer were horse eating deer, I immediately got her feet moving more complicated.

That being said, for it being a VERY windy night, with strange shadows cast everywhere, I had a very focused horse underneath me. It was LOVELY.

I'm going to close my eyes because bright light.
I tried a bit of trot too, to see if the techniques would carry over and discovered the most amazing trot. It was impulsive but not rushing and she was SO balanced. We did some big sweeping circles and some tighter circles, all at the sitting trot and I felt like I was riding a dressage horse. I swear. She didn't giraffe at all, and I focused on keeping my hands higher than I want, which probably ends up not being that high and when we would turn, I'd look and move both hands in the direction I wanted to go (same idea as at the walk)  

Oh my gosh it was lovely. 

I got bolder and loosened my reins and Gwyn dropped her head further but still with that self carriage. We practiced more hindquarter disengaging, pretty much anything to keep our minds busy. I did hop off at one point and set up some trot poles to go over. She was pretty good, but Saffron kept getting in the way.

We did some more random stuff before I called it a night. I'm so excited. I can't wait to do more!

This is my new happy mouth and there are already chunks missing. Is this normal? What's going on? 

Day 18 - Grooming Routine

Day 18- Your grooming routine

From Clover Ledge Farm

I feel like I'm going to need to break this down into different routines based on what I'm doing and what season it is but I'll try to just add a ton of asterisks instead, LOL.

To start, Gwyn is basically out 24/7.  She has access to the barn 24/7 as well, but I let her decide what she needs and she's a wild thing, getting super fuzzy in the winter and dirty as she pleases. This influences my grooming of her.

If I have limited time, I do a couple essentials but really don't do anything thorough. I always groom in some manner as it serves as a good way to do a visual check of her body to see if there's anything concerning or new. Similarly, every day I'll make sure I have eyes on her outside at some point and watch her move, is she limping, does she look different than her normal.

Even if I don't ride, I always at least do a full body check of them both at dinner time too and run my hands over them for lumps and bumps. I love having my horses at home. I know their routine intimately and I'll know if something is off.

When riding on short time (I got side tracked) I'll curry out the mud, really focusing where the saddle and girth go but always doing a full body. I don't use boots every time so I don't get nitty gritty with her legs. Then I use a body brush and brush with the lay of the hair. I'll brush her mane (if it's not in braids*) but not her tail if I'm in a rush. Lately the tail is in a mud knot** so I don't have to bother. I'll pick her feet out checking for thrush and chips and then tack up.

When I'm not as rushed, I stretch out the brushing per how I was taught as a child. Curry in circles. Then a stiff brush to smooth out the hair and get rid of the major dirt, then a body brush in circles and a soft brush to add final shine. Hair brush in mane and tail, I'll add detangler here if it's causing issues and then braid the mane if it's hot since Gwyn has a super thick mane. I don't braid her forelock. I'll use fly spray if it's fly season.

After picking out her hooves I'll put hoof dressing on them. Then I tack up.

After riding in the summer I'll spray her down with the hose and scrape the water off with a sweat scraper. Then I toss her out in the pasture and let her roll as she will.

For shows***, I bathe her and really lather her down and get things clean. She doesn't have white, so I'm a bit spoiled in that stains just REALLY blend in. Sometimes it's hard to tell if she's muddy. She also doesn't tend to get manure stains so again, lucky and requires minimal bathing effort.

If her tail gets gross after a heat cycle, I will do just a tail wash and dunk it in a bucket with shampoo to get the crusties out. Every so often, but not regularly, I check the gunk between her teats and pick that out with my fingers. I don't bother to use any soap as she just lets me (gooooood mare) and will make silly faces because it feels good.

Even though I'm a friesian owner, I do not pick her tail, I brush that sucker and toss the extra hair to the birds. It grows just fine without needing to be babied.

In the spring, I curry her EVERY day to help the shedding along. Just a quick pass as she eats grain and then kick the hair pancakes out for the birds.

*Summer only
** Winter only
*** Showing only

Day 17 - Equestrian Idol

Day 17- Your equestrian idol

From Clover Ledge Farm

This is difficult to answer. I'm not a celebrity person in any way and frequently get movie stars mixed up (Just ask my husband about my Jonah Hill/Rebel Wilson mix up...)  I also don't keep my ear to the ground regarding showing to have someone I really look up to who's like.. Olympic level.

I feel a certain camraderie with Lauren Sprieser since I was involved in the LiveJournal equestrian community back in the day and she was also a member and blogging on that platform as she started to get a foothold in the dressage world. I still follow her today. She's probably the most successful?

Jessica Kerschbaumer in Alberta Canada does eventing in the USA and Canada and I follow her. She's become more of a social media competitor and is doing more training and higher level competing. Again, from way back when on LJ. I like following her because she doesn't fit the rider stereotype of being super thin and wealthy. She's a larger rider (though has slimmed down as she's gotten more athletic) and is successful on a budget and I feel like that makes my own goals seem achievable. That I'd be able to compete in eventing even though I'll be on a tight budget, not a thin rider and with no endorsements (though Jessica does have endorsements right now!)

Then there's Dom. I really respect how she works with horses and the results she gets. And again here's that tie to LJ, but I've been following her for years now and she describes her training methods well. I keep how she works with horses in mind a lot when I go meet new trainers or watch someone interact with my horse. I wish I lived closer to her because I'd hire her in a heartbeat to either work with Gwyn or work with me on Gwyn.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Day 16 - Favorite Equine Memory

Day 16- Your favorite equine memory

From Clover Ledge Farm

My favorite memory is when Gwyn came off of the trailer after being shipped from Florida to Washington. It was the moment when I finally had a horse that I could call my own and it was an amazing feeling. And since we were already familiar with each other, she remembered me and wanted me over the shipper. It was great.

A close second is the relief when she came off the truck in Michigan and I didn't have to be here without her.

Day 15 - Talking to any horse

Day 15- If you could speak to any horse, dead or alive, what would you say?

From Clover Ledge Farm

There's going to be a bunch of posts. I had a ridiculous week and didn't have the chance to sit down at a computer.

I would want to talk to Clyde again and tell him why I left and never really came back and did anything with him again once I left for college. I'm sure he had a great retirement, but I missed him and I didn't get to do what I wanted to do with him in retirement (ie. love on him every day) and he died before I could bring him home.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Day 14 - Dream Farm/Barn

Day 14- Your dream barn/farm

From Clover Ledge Farm

I really like my little farm that I have right now. There are a few things that would make it a dream property that really make this whole thing wholly unattainable, but here we go!

  • Access to trails right off property. If we could back up to state land or a park, that would be spectacular. Even being closer to a rails to trails that's equestrian friendly would be swell.  I would consider this property close to access were it not for the incredibly busy road I live on. It's only about a mile and a half to an access point, but too much of it is on a road with a 55mph/90kmh speed limit.
  • A round pen for those extra sassy days
  • A covered arena.
    • It doesn't even have to be fully indoor! Just being covered would extend my riding significantly!
  • A larger arena OR a flat grassy space for some jumping
    • My current arena is good for flatwork and dressage. I can't really get super large figures, but it's big enough to canter around in and get a couple good 20m circles in. 
  • Shorter commute to work
    • It took me 70 minutes to get home today with traffic. Without traffic the drive is 50 min.

That's it! Haha, 'that's it'. 

But seriously, I've got a small barn, 3 stalls, hay storage and water and electric in the barn. It's perfect for the number of animals I want.

Non horse related Wants:
  • Greenhouse
  • Chicken Coop
  • Covered Trailer Storage area
  • Two pasture shelters for the summer pastures

Some of those are things we can add to the current property and may do so

Monday, November 13, 2017

Day 13 - Video of Me and Gwyn

Day 13- A video of you horse/you riding

From Clover Ledge Farm

I don't really have boots on the ground for videoing me while I ride, so the most recent video I have is from a trail ride I took where I video'd myself riding, only it's not of me, it's just of Gwyn and she's being a very brave pony and going clompity clomp on a very long bridge.

There might actually be more recent video, I just haven't uploaded it to youtube. Lemme dig around my google photos.

[Time elapses]

Maybe not, lol.

The below video is from 2011, which is the the most recent horse show video I have of myself, riding Intro Test A and B.

This is Test A and was abysmal because I didn't carry a whip, thinking she'd be more forward, like she usually is. Nope.  I carried a whip for Test B.

Ah, here's footage from the Hunter Pace back in October

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Day 12 - Favorite Coat Color

Day 12- Favorite horse color

From Clover Ledge Farm

There are five different colors of spots on this mare. Also, she camoflages mud easily.
Love me that bright bay tho...
Despite having a very uniquely colored horse now, I'm a HUGE fan of a good bright bay. Honestly, I like most coat color and it'd be a shorter list to write out which coat color I'm not a fan of (Buckskin, chestnut and Gray, though I'd be a fan of gray if they stayed that fun dappled gray but they all go white in the end)

What has been fun is learning about coat color genetics. Appaloosa is funky, splash can get you a dead foal, gray is dominant and sorrel and chestnut are the same don't even try that here.

Sorry, I really can't wax poetical on coat color. This is all you get. I'm going back to making my brilliantly orange quarter sheet for hunting season riding.

Day 11 - Go Horse Shopping!

Day 11- Find a horse for sale online that you would want to buy

From Clover Ledge Farm


This will be in two categories; for the girls, and for me

For the Girls:

I want a been there, done that pony for the kids. One who is super safe, who will tolerate anything and will babysit them if they choose to learn to ride. While Gwyn is protective of the kids, she doesn't take care to watch them first and foremost and can still be spooky, or will move into them in the aisle. As a bonus, this pony in the ad is practically down the road.

For the record, my husband walked in on me while I was writing this entry and had the ad up on the screen and immediately went "WHAT IS THIS?>!?!?!?"

If you can't tell, we're not getting a second horse or pony any time soon. LOL.

For me, if I ever get another horse, it'll be back to standardbreds for me. I loved Clyde so much and everything I've read of other people's experience with the breed just confirms it for me.

I kinda really like this guy and he seems like a sweety. I like his eye. I'd scoop him up now if I could and call him Tobias.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Day 10 - Friends and Family vs Riding

Day 10- How your family/friends feel about your riding

From Clover Ledge Farm

Do you see that expression? That's the face of a man who has just realized that this is his future. It's a grimace. LOL
The big one here is Eric. He is a double edged sword in that he recognizes that having the horse and riding makes a big impact on my mental health. I am happier, more easy going, less irritable and more patient with the kids. He has admitted these things, on multiple occasions, and in writing.

But horses cost money and that man gets anxious when money is not where he wants it (mind you, not low, just not where he wants it) There is no tangible benefit, the horse does not earn us money, it just consumes it. So he gets grumpy but has yet to seriously suggest that the horse go away.

Kaylee likes Gwyn, but she's not as into horses as I was at her age. I can tell. She doesn't need to be out there every day. The horse is always around. I let her ride when she wants, but that's rare.

Hazel, on the other hand, is just an animal lover in general, and wants to be out in the barn with me. She helps with chores. She feeds Gwyn and Saffron. Of the two kids, Hazel is going to be my riding buddy I think.

My Mom is amused that I actually followed through with my determination to have a horse and a farm. She knows it's what I always wanted and damned if I didn't get it in the end.

Friends are amused. No one is surprised though. I made no secret of my love of horses and it's as much as part of me as my hair color and penchant for singing broadway and disney music at the slightest provocation. If they don't accept that about me, they're not my friend.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Pardon me while we take a break from the regularly scheduled bloghop for my lesson run down and note review so I can remember what to work on!

My riding lesson was today and there's not much media of it, just selfies while I wallowed in self pity because the weather was slightly nasty.

This is my "I am not impressed, weather" face

"Ewwwww wintry mix! NOOOOO"

Okay, but seriously that's it. I should have set up the camera to record it all but didn't think about it. I was more concerned with dressing warmly.

I wore:
  • thick wool socks that were compromised the moment I put on mesh, summer weight paddock boots and stepped outside
  • Kerrits winter tight
  • merino wool baselayer (I'm still wearing it, it's so soft and warm)
  • fleece vest that I got from when I was a volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium (roomy yet warm with zipper pockets!)
  • My columbia jacket, rated for super cold weather (I was sweating in the house)
  • A balaclava I got from Meijer and wore for the first time today. 
  • half chaps
  • ariat maxtrax zip up boot (not happy so far with the fit but still breaking them in)

I was SO WARM!  :D :D :D :D :D

But seriously, I was warm enough I didn't need gloves.  The balaclava was perfect. I pulled it down off my head when I put my helmet on, but it kept my neck and ears protected from the wind. I'm a fan!

I think this is my new default for winter riding, barring the shoes, the wind goes right through em. I still need to work on gloves, but this is an amazing start.

It was rainsnowing when I left the house and I grumbled my way across to the barn. Gwyn saw me grab the halter and threw me the middle hoof and left. She knew. She knew. But it didn't take long for her to be amenable to capture (like a minute... haha) I curried the mud off, brushed where she was dry and started dolling her up. I wasn't sure what I'd be doing so I stuck polos on her front legs, partly because I was cold and partly because purple.

Trainer AML arrived as I started to get the saddle. I signed her liability release and we got to know each other. She watched me tack Gwyn up and was pretty much getting the feel for Gwyn's personality and how we worked together.

I hopped on and started warming up. I talked about what my goals were (eventually eventing, but for now solidifying the basics) and what issues I knew we had (dropping the shoulder, bending, feeling very dead to left leg, working on the bit).

Right away we started to tackle the shoulder/bending/working on the bit/straightness stuff.

Good stuff:
  • My seat is excellent (FUCK YEAH!), I am well balanced and sit up
  • I look where I'm going instead of at my horse
  • My hands are soft with caveats**

Basically, I want Gwyn to have self carriage, and that can be taught. I want Gwyn to know that when pressure is released, we relax. To that end, she's having me do some weird stuff to get the feel and overexaggerate the movement.  We started with just the concept of giving to pressure. She had me hold my hands out, palms down and WAY up high and immediately release when Gwyn dropped her head and took a step back. This became the foundation for back up. And by the end me just sitting up and raising my hands was all it took for Gwyn to step. But she's wiggly.

So then we worked on me feeling the connection between the rein and her hind leg. So my right rein should be cuing her right hind leg to step in and under herself. There's a certain swoop feeling when she truly steps in and across, versus sidestepping. The goal there was cue with the rein until I feel the swoop. Then get more and more together.

Again, and I've heard this from so MANY sources, control the feet, control the horse. So there were some deer moving through the woods during the lesson and Trainer AML got to see some of Gwyn's spook scooting and we used those same basic principles to get her focused and get her back and straight and listening to me as the herd leader. I have a habit of pushing or pulling Gwyn where I want her to be, and that just sets me up in a battle of wills with a part appy mare.

Then we did the 90 degree exercise. Basically instead of doing circles, I make very geometric movements around the arena and steer like I have a steering wheel. This is all to give me the feel and I have the suspicion that this will eventually be very subtle but I have to retrain old habits.

Let me tell you, doing this exercise, picking random 90 degree turns to take, all of a sudden I felt Gwyn start to carry herself, she was in a rough frame and we were straight in the contact before and after turns. She wasn't falling in or bulging out. I swear it was like magic and the horse and rider I knew we could be was starting to emerge.

A lot of the stepping under exercises I can do on the ground as well as in the saddle, so this gives me a lot to work on and practice until my next lesson (scheduled for december!)

All in all, I really liked the lady. She was tough but praised when you got it right. Just what I like. 

Amusing Anecdote: Saffron was NOT happy about the new lady and tried to run her down. Trainer AML just used her equid knowledge and sent Saffron off. I have never seen the donkey like that, but I think it's because Saffron knows where she is herdwise with us, and she was trying to suss out the new person, who firmly said "Nope, I'm also higher than you"   Saffron sulked in a corner of the arena for the rest of the lesson. LOL Then, by the end, came over to play nice.

Day 9 - Injuries while riding

Day 09- Any injuries that occurred from riding

From Clover Ledge Farm

Mostly bone bruises and sprained ankles and battered egoes. I'm pretty lucky in that regard. I've come off a fair number of times, but I like to think that I'm fairly adept at landing...  😄

I obviously replace a helmet when necessary, and other than needing advil more than ever after an unplanned dismount, I'm still fairly bouncy.

So nothing totally noteworthy.

And let's hope it stays that way.

Day 8 - About the Barn

Day 08- A little about the barn/stable you ride at

From Clover Ledge Farm

I ride at home! This has been a dream come true for me and it took some sacrifice to get here. If you want to know more about the farm than what I talk about in this post, please go to my farm blog at Firefly Ranch!

I chose the name Firefly because we're big fans of the show by the same name (It's where we got Kaylee's name, after all). And then our first summer here we were just swarmed by fireflies. The sky is lit up and sparkling all early summer. It's magical.

The property is on 5 acres in southeastern Michigan, minutes from Metamora Hunt Country.  The majority of the property is pasture with three different areas for rotation. There is a 3 stall barn, hay storage, a tack/feed room and a grooming stall. There is a small sand arena that was professionally put in by the previous owners and drains like a dream. Each stall has its own run off the barn, with an overhang, though I need to suss out why the overhang roof is leaking right now. Grrr.

The house is gigantic with a partially finished basement, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths with wonderful vaulted ceilings in the master bedroom, living and dining room. The first time we toured a house in this town, I knew that's where I wanted to be. The original house we saw sold before we were ready to make offers, but then we toured this house and I fell in love. It was still available when we were ready to buy.

Picture from when we went to look at it on a cold late winter/early spring day

Back of the house

The hill in the winter pasture


Hay Storage

When we went back to do an informal walk through with the owners so they could tell me about everything since they'd set up the horse stuff on this property. Early Summer.

Sand arena

Grooming stall though lately I use it for storage

Plus hitching post!

I've managed to keep the pastures nice, though the winter one could use some improvement. They're good enough that I don't bother feeding hay in the late spring, summer and early fall. It keeps feed costs nice and low. I feel a bit bad though because the property is not as nice as when we got it, but the previous owner literally ran her business out of this property and this was her job. I'm hoping to add more property maintenance in now that Hazel is older.

We do have a big hill (Big for this area of Michigan, lol) so Gwyn maintains a bit of fitness walking up and down it. I'll lunge on the hill for extra oomph and go up and down it while riding. I've set up a small cavaletti in the front pasture and hope to add more. It has the most maneuverability and decent enough footing to be a grass jump field. Otherwise, I'm limited by how the property is set up with the jumps I can have.

I really love this place. It's small and just the right size for us. The commute is a killer to where jobs are, but we had to make a tradeoff in commute time, affordability, and availability of horse property.