Monday, January 29, 2018

In Which I Was Late to Dinner

There's a lot of theory about whether horses should be on a schedule or not when it comes to feeding. I've read the pros and cons on each position and honestly I usually just do what works for me. And what works for me is a general evening feed. In the summer it's usually right after dinner and the kids all come out with me and we play outside too. 

In the winter, it's been after the kids are in bed I bundle up for a trip out and the animals are fine until the next night while they root around for winter grass if there's snow. They've got plenty of water. Anyway, I'm justifying here. On to the story.

I might not go out at an exact time every night, but it is at night.   Also note: the winter pasture is behind the house and Saffron is bloody brilliant and has figured out that you can look into the house and see the humans.

So Saffron will see lights turn on as we move to different parts of the house and that's when it starts...

Eeeeeeeeeeeeehaw ehaw ehaw ehaw!


This bray echoes through Dryden. I know our neighbors hear it. Thankfully most of them find it amusing. Sometimes the neighbor donkey three lots down will answer.

Gwyn does not whinny for dinner. She will whinny when she hears a door open or sees me come outside, but she does not call for dinner unless a human has already appeared.

This brings us to tonight. It's cold, in the teens after being up near 50F and there's been an unexpected snowstorm. I am dragging getting ready to go outside. I spent more time than needed just laying next to a sleeping Hazel because I was warm, comfy and tired.

I heard Saffron while I was in with Hazel. This is normal. I heard Saffron again while I was still in with Hazel. I finally got up and went to see Eric, who was playing Zelda on the switch. I sat in bed. Our bedroom faces the back with giant slider doors.

I hear a very plaintive whinny.

Oh geez.

"You. Were. Late." 
I get up and get ready. I hear another whinny. I open the slider door and the whinny is even more urgent.

I get into the barn and toss them each a flake of alfalfa since it's cold and I'm feeling guilty. Saffron sticks her head over the stall door (barely) and just BRAYS at me. It's loud, you guys. And in an enclosed space. I'm pretty sure she does this on purpose.

I told Gwyn we were going to trailer out to go ride tomorrow and she snorted dismissively at me. I tried to get a picture of her and all I could get was mare face.

So maybe we're on more of a schedule than I realized.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

In Which Gwyn is a Good Girl

I finally bought clippers. Just a cheapy pair, less than $50  for trimming Gwyn's mane, dock, fetlocks (maybe), (never muzzle, she will be au naturale forevah) and the occasional trace clip (I think it could handle not a whole body thing).

Tonight, we practiced desensitization with the clippers.

I can't remember if Gwyn has been clipped before. I don't think she has but you wouldn't know it. After her dinner I put her in the cross ties and turned on the clippers. She flicked an ear at me but otherwise didn't react. With the free hand I stroked her shoulder.

Then I brought the clippers near her body. She definitely had ears on me and twitched when I touched the buzzing clippers to her shoulder (but no clipping).  Then she relaxed and I kept petting and talking to her.

Then I tried a quick buzz on her neck with the actual blades. No big.

Then I clipped her damn bridle path all proper like and tidied up the hack job roach I did to her mane.

It was no big deal.

I fucking love this horse.

Have some photos from 3 days ago when the fog settled in while I was feeding.

Friday, January 19, 2018

This will be the year of prioritization

With horse show and endurance ride schedules finally being settled on and released, a general scan of my calendar just for stuff I'd be interested in has several weekends at least double booked.

Popular weekends I guess. There are a few that are non-negotiable for me. I know who will be getting my time (and money). But for some others, it's a bit more up in the air. Once I can translate the dates off my phone calendar and into something that I can see broadly, all at once, I'll be better able to prioritize.

For example:
Do I go to a dressage show that's super close to home but will require me to pay for a stall and doesn't let you show out of your trailer as a day competitor?
Or do I go to an eventing derby where I'll ABSOLUTELY have to canter Gwyn in a dressage test and risk her just flipping out and leaving the dressage court. But then we'll have fun in a combined stadium/x country course that we've already schooled on.
Or do I go to a new to me endurance ride that's not too far away (3.5 hours) since it's better than a 6 hour drive for any of the next nearest rides.

It's puzzling. Plus add in an unknown budget that I need to discuss with my partner and my eyes might be setting their sights on something that isn't at all feasible. The endurance weekends are time away from family, especially when Eric doesn't want to go with and bring the girls. But he'd be home alone for the weekends away at endurance, where it would be just a quick day trip for some of the non-endurance stuff (all less than 30 min drive) but would cost more.

The current schedule of events:
Already Planned Events   Potential Events  Impossible Events

3 - Farrier
13 - Minor Surgery
21 - Dentist
23 - Trevor Noah Tickets at the Fox Theatre
Nothing so far
14 - Martian 5k
14 - X Country Schooling
15 - X Country Schooling
21/22 - Brighton Endurance Ride
21/22 - X Country Schooling
27 - 24 month well child for Hazel
28/29? - Birthday Party for Hazel
5/6 - X country Schooling
5/6 - White River Spring Endurance Ride
19/20 - Dressage Schooling Show 1 &2
20 - Eventing Derby
2/3 - X country Schooling
9/10 - White River Summer Endurance Ride
9/10 - X country Schooling
23 - Dressage Schooling Show 3&4
7/8 - X Country Schooling
21/22 - Dressage Schooling Show 5&6
22 - Eventing Derby
2/3/4/5/6 - Vegas Trip
11/12 - Dressage Schooling Show 7&8
12 - Eventing Derby
1/2/3 - White River Fall/Labor Day Endurance Ride
8/9 - Dressage Schooling Show 9&10
15/16 - Tin Cup Springs Endurance Ride
29/30 - Metropark Express Endurance Ride
28/29/30 - Dressage Show Championships
30 - Metamora Hunt Hunter Trials
6 - Brighton to Pinckney Ride
13/14 - Oak Leaf Run Endurance Ride

Not included so far are the Hunter Paces, usually there are two, and lessons. My summer is pretty much up in the air right now. Eric gets a week off in July for shut down and my parents want to take Kaylee to visit with them in SC and are expecting me to come to see them at some point with Hazel to bring Kaylee back.  AND I have to work out which weekends I can be on call at work.

It feels overwhelming, but writing it out like this is helpful.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

2.5 miles on my day off

Work wants me back down to part time and my boss offered to let me do those part time hours as a 4 day work week. I JUMPED on the chance. This was the first week of that 4 day schedule. I decided on wednesday as my day.

Weather called for sunny but cold with wind chill. I decided to wait until the 'heat of the day' before heading out to ride, to make the most of things. It took a lot of effort to get ready to go outside. I had spent the morning doing yoga and watching Supernatural while matching socks in the warmth of the house.

I wore my wool baselayer shirt, kerrits winter riding tights, wool socks, muck boots, fleece vest, columbia down jacket and my riding skirt, plus a fleece balaclava and gloves.  I was warm! It worked!

Unsuspecting, snug as a bug in a rug, mare

I am BUNDLED UP.  My step ladder was frozen to the arena so I had to use my smaller step stool. Booo

I made sure Gwyn stayed snug. I didn't want her muscles getting too cold.

Roaching her mane meant I really didn't have a good grab strap while mounting...

After the ride smiles

After the ride mare face when I made her turn into the sun (and wind) for the best light for selfies


And the Goober Mare fought me SO MUCH about walking that she had to wear her cooler after the ride

The weather right after I rode

Endomondo report

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Trailer Tack Room Reorg

Go read here. I posted it to the farm page because the farm blog was being neglected, but it's also a horse topic, so meh.

To tempt you, have a teaser of the AMAZING paint 3D render I made of my tack room idea!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

First Ride of 2018! New Stirrups! A question about manes!

Due to the deep freeze and snow storms across the east coast, me actually getting home (a separate post in itself for my non-horse blog) took ALL YEAR.  😂😂😂😂😂

No but seriously, today was the first full day I was at home in 2018. AND it was getting progressively warmer throughout the day and night, which meant that my designated riding time (after 8pm) would be actually warmer than the daytime!  SCORE.

So what's a horse girl to do when she can ride in a rain jacket and no gloves and not freeze her cheeks off? Ride of course!

Fat!Pony is not impressed with the the fact that her stall is closed and her halter is on. (Please ignore the dirty stall, I cleaned it after)

Use the arena floodlights for the best lit selfies

Unless your Fat!Pony wants to rub her face on you and becomes a blur monster

But then she gives you kisses because it was 8 fucking days apart and that's practically torture and don't you know she was SO hungry and cold even though the nice neighbor lady came and fed her every day.

I love this view

The snow is turning to slush it's so warm

We practiced stepping under and using her back and also our geometry. 10 m circles are easy to evaluate in the snow

More circles!

Ugh that poor mane. Super thick and long near her head, wispy and thin toward the withers. HOW FIX, BLOG WORLD? HOW?!

 You may note that my stirrups are super reflective!  Woefully, I have been searching for a good winter boot to wear whilst riding.  Everyone suggests Mountain Horses, but the tall boots that would fit my ginormous calf are not being sold any more in my foot size. Joy.  Since I need a wide footbed in addition to a wide calf, I tried ordering a pair of mens Ariat paddock boots, Extreme H20. It was too tight across the top of my foot and I immediately started to lose feeling in my foot while wearing them. Definitely not gonna be good for riding.

I also ordered a pair of ovation winter paddock boots. These things are a two layer system that just sucked. Nope. Getting returned. If the ridiculous thinsulate booty was not a separate thing from the boot itself it might have worked, but I couldn't get my foot in the boot when the pieces were already together, and if I took the booty out and slid my foot in already in the booty, my toes got jammed up and cramped by the booty in the boot and it never loosened up.

I'm picky. And both of those are getting returned.

What I currently wear in the barn in the winter is my muck boots, super thick rubber and plastic, but my feet have never been cold in them. But they're super duper unsafe for traditional stirrup irons because of the lack of heel.

So, I figured since I do endurance, and they make stirrup irons for non-traditional riding shoes, why not embrace the muck boots and just get a safe stirrup iron? It would do double duty as a wide bed stirrup for endurance rides and a safety thing for winter if I wear my muck boots.

So merry christmas to me! I ordered from Distance Depot with my swell discount for being a new AERC member and they arrived while we were gone!

They are, obviously, in purple beta with reflective overlay.

My muck boot fits well in them, I'm not fighting to fit the ginormous boot into them, so it gives me confidence that they'll work well in the summer too. I'll have a bigger shoe option to wear for endurance.

But really, the big question I have for you all, what do you do with a mane that's super uneven in thickness? Gwyn is half friesian, so I tend to err on the 'let it grow' mentality and just braid it in the summer when it's hot. I would like the mane to be more uniform, so I might as well work on that now. How do I do that? I'm already supplementing with Biotin for her hooves (which has worked out wonderfully, btw)  What else should I be doing for care? I minimize brushing it, but will finger pick the worst. She doesn't rub it (to my knowledge), doesn't wear a blanket regularly, and really never gets it super tangled.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

2017 Review, Goals for 2018

Here's the recap from last year.

2017 Recap

Attend 3 Limited Distance rides (Brighton in April, Metropark Express in August and Oak Leaf Run in October)
PARTIAL!  This is one I'm counting as a partial success. I did attend all three of those rides and I volunteered at all three. I rode the tutored Intro at Brighton, when I realized that Gwyn and I were no where near conditioned enough for an early season LD (and Brighton has a lot of up/down over and over, it's lovely!).  Metropark was a 1 day and I was recruited into timing with enthusiasm.  And Oak Leaf ended up being just miserable weather wise so while I did time and ride, my riding was still in volunteer capacity helping to take down trail markers.  Despite not fully making the goal, I'm pretty pleased with what I accomplished. I was still involved and that fulfills me even if I don't compete.

And of course, in trying to find the post from Metropark, I realized I never posted about it. Fail. So have the relevant media.

Prior Metropark versions were run in August and the time hadn't changed to reflect that it was now a full month and a half later and riders would be leaving in the dark. We had to delay everything by 15 min for safety.

The mist was beautiful

LD and Intro riders had some nice sunshine though!

These thoroughbreds were fresh off the track and pretty much cantered the Intro and never looked worse for wear. After reading Dom's blog about how they're breezed, it makes total sense....

I had a glorious day. Clearly I worked hard (waiting for riders to come in)

1 Hunter Pace

SUCCESS!  Attended the fall hunter pace with friends and had a blast!
School cross country at least once

SUCCESS!  I DID IT!  I found a trainer to accompany me on the course and I got a schooling lesson on the cross country course near home.  It was FANTASTIC. A+ Will go again this year.
Trailer to or have a trainer come to the house for at least one lesson

SUCCESS!   Technically the cross country schooling counts but I ALSO got a lesson at home in November and then trailered to new trainer A in December. Both were fantastically productive lessons.
In months where I don't have an event, trail ride at least once a month. 

PARTIAL?  In January I just explored on foot. Nothing off property in February but footing is shit then. Got up into the field in March. April was Brighton, May I rode on Memorial Day at Addison Oaks and in June I had my xcountry school lesson. July was a bust due to travel with family and work suddenly getting crazy after my boss quit, August similarly suffered, as did September. I more than made up for it in October with the Pace and Oak Leaf. November and December were actually my most successful and productive with both lessons AND trail riding in the farm field. 
Get permission from landowners to ride on farm field perimeters

PARTIAL This is a partial. I got permission from ONE landowner. Specifically the Sheriff who owns one of the parcels. One landowner is a corporation that has no contact information or even exists that I can find. This remains a work in progress. I have decided, therefore, to not ride after planting (since it is used as a soybean field) and to respect any no trespassing signage. The field I ride around has no signs and includes the Sheriff's parcel. 

2018 Goals!

For 2 day endurance events that I attend (Namely Oak Leaf and Brighton) volunteer for the Saturday and ride an LD on Sunday. 
School Cross Country at least once
Attend one Eventing Derby at Starter level

Lesson once a month
Ride minimum twice a week, especially now that Hazel actually goes to bed nicely

Non-horse but Horse-Benefiting:

Walk/Run on my (new!) treadmill 3 days a week
C25K program to do 5k in April, 10k in December
Yoga 3x a week -OR- Rider Fitness exercises

I want to be stronger and more flexible in general

One unassisted pull up by December 31, 2018