Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Top 10 reasons why I didn't ride

1. My horse was too dirty

Oh hell no.


2. My horse was asleep

Dafuq, lady, I need my beauty rest


3. It was too cold

Don't laugh, but this is the snowpocalypse


4. It was too hot

Pretty much the entire summer


5. I was too tired

Even the cat refuses to get up


6. The commute was awful

I don't think I can make it that far...


7. It was raining

I need floaties

8. There were too many other chores to do

Seriously lady, this grass isn't gonna mow itself


9. My tack didn't match
Navy saddle pad with a tan bling brow band? I can't even.


10. My horse is too cute

I deserve cookies, not rides.


So, what's your excuse?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Playing fair - what would you do?

After my recent post about playing things fair at a show, I got an email from a reader who asked to remain anonymous. She asked me for advice on a situation that happened at a show some time ago, that she felt wasn’t fair but she wasn’t sure what to do. Here’s the scoop:

At the show, her trainer was working with an individual who was not a regular student. In one class, the individual missed a jump, but the judge apparently didn’t notice.  The person went on to win not only the class, but also the division championship. She never told the judge that she missed the jump. The reader mentioned to her trainer that she would have said something if she had been the rider, but the trainer didn’t press the issue because the person wasn’t a regular student.

This is a tough one. I’d like to think that we’re all honest people and that knowing you won fairly and squarely is more important than a 50 cent ribbon. I would also like to think that trainers would be honest and encourage their students to be honest as well. However, I do understand that if someone is not a regular student, it can be difficult to have that person adhere to your rules. 

At the end of the day, I’m not sure there’s much the blog reader can do about her trainer’s or the other person’s actions. If her trainer not requiring the other rider to be honest really bothers her, perhaps sending a short email saying, “This was the situation and it really bothered me. What is your policy on honesty? If this happened to a regular student, would you require them to admit the mistake to the judge?” Understanding your trainer’s policy – so you can manage expectations – might be helpful. If the trainer is going to leave it to each individual to be honest or not, you may need to consider if that’s the kind of policy you’re comfortable with. 

Of course, leading by setting a good example is the most important thing – in other words, if she’s ever in that situation, be honest about making a mistake. Don’t accept a ribbon you didn’t win fairly and squarely. At the end of the day, YOU are the one who has to live with your decisions. If that 50 cent ribbon means so much to you that you’re willing to be dishonest to get it… well, you might want to really think about why. 

What would you do in this situation? What would your trainer do? And do you have any advice for our anonymous blog reader?

Not worth cheating for

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's better than good, it's wood!

When we brought Brego home, we were warned that he likes to chew on trees. So we wrapped all the trees on the track with chicken wire to protect them.

The base of this one is also wrapped with deer mesh to protect surface roots. Deer mesh not only keeps out deer, it's also a  large black rhinos Percheron deterrent. 

Unfortunately, this meant that Brego turned his termite tendencies toward other things, like the wood in the barn. Since we didn't want him chewing down the main support posts or anything, we tried some toys.

He didn't like to play with feed bowls.

Feed bags lost their appeal after he'd licked out all the flavor molecules.

Milk jugs were simply not interesting.

Jolly balls? Those are clearly for dogs.

So Brego gets...
Logs. Very large logs.

One day's efforts. Omnomnom. We put them on our woodpile when he's done with them and burn them in our fireplace.

Yes, I know this isn't good for his teeth. I've talked it over with my vet and she's like, eh, he's going to chew SOMETHING wood, not much you can do to stop him. So he gets a new cedar elm (not toxic to horses) log every week or so, and happily nibbles the bark off of it. He doesn't actually eat anything, he just chews on it. He also likes to throw the logs around, which we can tell because they tend to migrate from place to place. 

Does your horse have a toy he likes to play with?


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When your horse doesn’t bring his A game

The other week, we had a lesson and Paddy was decidedly not interested in participating. He was distracted (something we’ve had trouble with in the past but has been less and less of an issue recently), tense, and at the same time so dead off my leg it was laughable. As much as I find these rides frustrating, I need to learn how to ride through this behavior. Having my trainer there talk me through it all in her calm, patient way is really much more productive than me trying to work through it on my own right now.

But here’s the frustrating thing – no matter how much my horse isn’t tuned in, *I* have to bring *MY* A game. Every. Single. Ride. Paddy’s not a schoolmaster to take care of me if I’m not having a great day. He’s not particularly forgiving of my mistakes – if I ask wrong, he doesn’t just do it anyway because he knows what I want even if I wasn’t 100% correct. Or if I’m crooked, he’ll happily be crooked right along with me. He’s not going to buck me off or do anything naughty, but he’s also not going to cut me any slack.

And yet, I have to cut HIM slack no matter how he’s feeling. If he decides that calling to the horse in the barn is more interesting than responding to my inside leg, it’s not like I can yell at him to PAY ATTENTION. No, I have to be patient and calm, repeat my aids, and insist that he listen to me. I can’t pull, get mad, or any of that – I have to channel my inner Zen and just remember that I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and eventually he’ll get back with the program.

There are days when I’m stressed or really tired, and don’t feel like I can get my A game together. If I don’t have a lesson, I’ll usually just take Paddy for a walk on the trails, or maybe on the road, or give him a day off. I need to have the mental and physical energy to ride through whatever he throws at me, and some days I just don’t. I know myself well enough that it’s better not to get started on something I’m not confident I can ride through to a positive outcome.

What about you? Do you have to bring your A game to every ride, or is your horse more forgiving?

This post is all lies. I am ALWAYS perfect in every way!


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Third time's a charm (with blankets anyway!)

One thing I have learned about fitting Haffies - they are TOUGH to fit and all over the place size-wise. Finding a blanket that didn't rub his shoulders AND wasn't too long has turned out to be more challenging than I thought possible.

I'm a huge fan of Horseware Rambo blankets, despite their hefty price tag. In my experience, they fit well, don't rub or shift, and last FOREVER (Cash's Rambo is 16 years old). So, my first choice for Paddy was a Rambo Optimo, because of the shoulder gussets and the option to change out liners.

The problem? It was waaaay too long.

That down-to-your-knees look is just not classy. Or particularly safe.

Paddy made do for a while with Cash's old blankets and Taran's heavyweight, but eventually I decided to try again. This time it was SmartPak's stock horse cut turnout rug. It was supposed to have extra room in the shoulders for those big-chested types, and one of the reviewers said it fit her Haflinger perfectly.

Apparently, my Haflinger isn't actually as big-chested as I thought. Oops.

So gappy, so back to SmartPak it went.

Paddy also tried on Cash's new Wug, but the X closure in the front pulled a bit oddly and seemed like it would rub his shoulders, so that was out. Being the horrible horse-mom that I am, and with the relatively warmish weather we've had, I wasn't feeling super pressed to get Paddy a new blanket. But then Cash's antique Rambo Original (which Paddy had been wearing, although it rubs his shoulders a bit) got munched on by Brego, and we had colder weather forecasted. Plus SmartPak had a sale, so I ordered him the SmartPak Ultimate Turnout Blanket and neck cover, since he's clipped.

One well-wrapped Haffie, complete with gift tags!

It fits better than any of the other options, and I think the shoulder gusset will keep him free from rubs. I don't love the front snap closures, and the leg straps are annoying to have to do up (Rambos don't use them so I'm spoiled). But it fits OK and he seems happy with it - plus it doesn't have any giant Brego-sized rips in it, so that's good, right?

Just in time too - we're forecast to get even more freezing temps this week. Where is spring, y'all?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Epic blogger weekend!!!

The long-awaited blogger's weekend finally happened, and what a great weekend it was! Although our numbers were somewhat reduced by the epically awful (for Texas) weather, we had a fantastic time actually meeting in person, eating our way through Austin, and doing a bit of shopping. We maaaay have also gotten a little pony time in, but I'll let others tell their own stories about that! ;)

I was fortunate enough to host Jen from over at Cob Jockey, and had planned on also hosting Andrea from The Reeling, but she ended up snowed in with something like 7 inches of snow and ice. We missed you Andrea, but are glad you stayed home safe! Jen arrived Thursday night, and I dragged her along to a lesson. Naturally, after my post about all the amazing lessons we've been having, Paddy forgot to bring his A game (or really any game), so our ride ended up less-than-stellar. Doh. On Friday I got stuck working despite plans to take part of the day off, so Jen ended up heading out to meet Simon with Lauren and Genny from A Gift Horse. By all accounts they had a great (if somewhat cold and damp) time.

The party "officially" started Friday at 7pm, with dinner at Lauren's house. There were My Little Pony napkins (yes, she did), too much cider, and a very tasty chocolate chip cookie cake that we all tried to signed. Let's just say I'm glad my riding skills aren't as bad as my skills with icing. Stephanie managed to make it in from Parts North despite horrible driving conditions, and Amanda, Karen, and FuzzyPony (not a blogger but I often mention her here) joined us for the evening as well. We traded stories and generally had a fantastic time.

There is no reason you can't have My Little Pony at an adult party. No reason at all.

Decorating the cookie cake.

The finished product!

Saturday morning started with breakfast at Wyvern Oaks, with coffee beverages provided by my incredibly awesome husband and his espresso machine. Any man who not only doesn't flee a gaggle of horse-crazy women but actually encourages this deserves a special call out. Love you honey! As we were tidying up the kitchen, I noticed that Paddy was taking his morning snooze, and suggested the folks go out and snuggle with him if they wanted to. Snuggling turned into grooming, which turned into pony rides and jousting lessons. I am sure that Jen and Stephanie and Genny will elaborate on that one!

Paddy being snuggled... in exchange for treats, of course.

Genny meets Brego. There may have been an apple involved, although Genny still appears to have all her fingers so I could be wrong.


Epic pic of everyone, with Brego and Paddy for size.

After warming back up with some hot tea and cheesecake (it was right around freezing outside), we felt suitably fortified for tack shopping. Our first stop, Charlotte's Saddlery! This is a Houston-based store that opened a storefront here just a few months ago. Most of us picked up a few things from their sale rack (yay sale!) and they seemed happy to have us there. Next up, Dover! Think what you like about shopping online from Dover, but actually walking into a Dover store where you can see and feel and try on ALL THE THINGS is pretty fun. I managed to only buy a few necessities (on sale too!) so that was a big win.

First stop, Charlotte's!

All that shopping made us super hungry, so we headed off to an Austin original establishment - Chuys - for Tex-Mex. I think we had more fun (and more margaritas) than the table next to us who was apparently having a bachelor party, lol! After our early dinner, we all headed off to take care of our respective animals, but met back up at Wyvern Oaks for cheese, chocolate fondue, and more cider. Laura was able to join us for the evening, and I learned a ton about how model horse showing works.

A HUGE shout-out to Lauren for masterminding and organizing all of this. She even put together super awesome swag bags, which I'll have to write more about tomorrow. Because who doesn't love goodies!

There were also horse treats, but those somehow got eaten.

It was so wonderful actually getting to meet fellow bloggers for real - y'all are just as much fun as I'd imagined from reading your blogs! For those of you who couldn't make it, hopefully we can do this again and you'll be able to come. However, next time we are DEFINITELY ordering up better weather!!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I should have gotten a dumber, less athletic horse

How many of you have seen the video on Facebook of the short, plump Haffie mare who jumps the 3'6 pasture fence from a standstill? No? You need to go find it and watch it. And if you're friends with the Fat Pony on Facebook (another Haffie), you'll know that his poor human spends quite a lot of time finding him in random places she didn't leave him.

Let me just say that these two escape Haffies are not anomalies. I have one too.

When we first brought Paddy home (has it really been 18 months? Time flies!), we had a wee bit of a challenge keeping him where we put him. I know I alluded to this, but never really gave any details.

Our first problem was keeping him in the stall. Did you know that Paddy can jump a 4' stall door from a standstill? No? Well, he can. Which is why the stall door and wall are now 5'.

Don't let the cute face fool you, he's plotting his next escape.

Also, Paddy is an excellent climber. A gate got left unlatched one day, and he let himself out to graze. The next day, we were double extra sure to latch the gate, but he didn't let this deter him. No, he just climbed over the gate. And while I don't have pictures of him actually climbing, let's just say that our poor gate is rather worse for the wear.

When jumping and climbing don't work, Paddy's not afraid to simply put a little muscle into it. It's kind of hard to tell in this picture, but he somehow managed to a) rearrange the panels, which were zip-tied to the t-posts, and then b) rip the gate off the hinges and fling it on the ground. Brego and Taran benefited from Paddy's (de)construction skills here, since the three of them were all out grazing in the back pasture when I found this:


But sometimes Paddy's not feeling quite so much like sharing. This was the case yesterday, when I came home from work to find a single cute Haffie in the front pasture:

Oh hi! You're home early...

Turns out, he managed to push a tensioned H-brace out of place, then hopped over the tension wire to get into the front pasture and feast. He's talented enough that he didn't tear his blanket or scrape himself. I don't think he's missing a single hair, lol!


The moral of this story? If you have a Haffie, you'd better keep them at Alcatraz. Although it's entirely possible that they are excellent swimmers and could even escape Alcatraz. Heck, for all I know, Haffies migrated to North America by swimming across the Atlantic. They probably heard about an entire continent of grass and were like "WE'RE IN!!!!"

I'm a bit concerned that Paddy might notice how nice our neighbor's grass is...