December 30, 2012

She did it! Finally! I cannot believe it!

Over the years I have tried just about everything to get Rose to roll. The most extreme case was when I got her soaking wet and a very hot day, after a very good ride, and left her in a dirt arena dripping. She just stood their staring at me...for a long time. After a while I just accepted that I had a weird horse that would not roll. This actually became rather nice, since she would never roll in mud she'd stay immaculately clean most of the time and I also never had to worry about her rolling on my tack if she was loose in the arena. As much as I knew that it was good for her back to roll, I got rather used to the convenience of her not rolling, and just grimaced at the though of the cost of future chiropractic care. In one way lack of rolling is not convenient...cooling her out with her winter coat takes a long time. It would be nice to have a bit of a roll to speed up the process.

After the past couple rides on Rose, it became apparent to me that if I'm going to be riding her more than once a week this winter I needed to put and Irish clip on her. It was taking over an hour for her to dry with the thick winter coat she's learned to grow in Montana. So, I toddled off to the barn this morning, my Mom in tow for company, and with a plan to clip her and then ride. I doubt I need to tell you that was a lofty goal.

Rose was still in heat today. Not as bad as yesterday, but enough so that she was a wiggly ninny in the cross ties. So, I took her out of the cross ties and tied her up to go about clipping her. The clipping went well. It's been two years since I last body clipped her and she had no issues with the clippers at all. Actually she liked the vibration and calmed down enough to enjoy a little massage and for me to put her back in the cross ties. Due to her wiggles it took longer than I'd hoped and I was not able to ride. Instead I went ahead an longed her in preparation for our lesson tomorrow.

Despite the clip job, after a good twenty minute longe session she was rather sweaty and wet from the arena humidity. I decided to let her walk around the arena loose and cool off. Whilst chit chatting with my Mom, I noticed Rose start pawing at the arena. I could not believe my eyes. All of a sudden she started circling with her nose to the ground and began to roll. I barely had enough time to pull my camera out of my pocket. Poor thing hasn't figured out how to roll all the way over yet, and wasn't confident enough to go down on her other side, although it did seem like she was trying to figure it out for a while. I'm sure she's probably rolled in the pasture at some point before, but this is the first time ever that I or anyone has witnessed her roll.

video

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

December 29, 2012

Winter heat???

Posing for the relatives, post ride.
I am taking advantage of my family being in town and getting out to ride Rose as much as possible. I was looking forward to having an even better ride today (day three in a row) only to discover she is in raging heat! We still rode of course, as she is actually quite good under saddle when in heat, but she was definitely distracted. I ended up gaining her full attention though and I am hoping tomorrow is a more focused less in-heat day. How does a mare come into heat at the end of December? Gesh!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

December 27, 2012

Tough decisions...

Three years ago, when I first started out on my adventure with Rose I didn't know where it would lead. At the very least I figured I could start her and then sell her. She grew on me, and I decided to keep her and see where we would go. Time has passed. She is an amazing horse, with far more talent than I need. That doesn't bother me though, because she is also happy doing what I enjoy under saddle. However, time and time again it has hit home that she and I have to vastly different personalities. She is a saint for EB, and pretty much anyone else that I have ever had ride her or work with her. She knows me too well. We are like to boss mares always fighting over the hay pile. As much as I love riding her, and greatly enjoy her elastic gates and amazing athletic abilities, it is time for Rose to move on and to find a new owner that loves and enjoys her and vis a vis.

Rose will continue to progress and make a terrific show horse, in dressage or hunters (or even eventing), and I can't wait to see where she goes. It has been a great experience starting her, and I look forward to my next project. But you'll have to wait until she finds a new home to hear all about my next adventure in colt starting...in the mean time, I will continue Rose's training and my plans to show her this spring/summer. It is going to be a fun one!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

December 26, 2012

Santa did good this year...

It took a few years, but my wishlist is finally paying off. For some reason people have a really hard time grasping that yes, all I want for Christmas/birthday/anniversary/gift-giving-holidays are horse related items. My friends and family seem to be getting the idea at long last! So...what did Santa bring me this year?

BOOTS! Not just any boots, but the Ariat bromont tall winter boots. Yea warm winter riding toes. Now I can school and show in the the winter without freezing my toes off (winter lasts until May here). Get this, Hubs noticed the 20% winter sale post card that arrived in the mail a few weeks ago for our local tack shop and ran down there to snatch a pair up! He gets gold stars for a year!


SHOW SHIRT! I haven't had a new show shirt since college. I also weigh 30lbs less than I did in college, so this is a very welcomed addition to my wardrobe.

BOOK! The Complete Equine Veterinary Manual by Tony Pavord. I've wanted a copy of this book for an eternity. Now I can finally check that off my list.


Of course I got plenty of non-horse related gifts, and they all rock as well. So it was a fairly good horsey Christmas for me. Now I just need to get out to the barn to see Rose so that I can start breaking in my new boots. Oh joy.

Merry Christmas (or happy whatever holiday or lack there of you celebrate) everyone. I hope you are all having a wonderful time with friends and family, and just plain enjoying the holiday season.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

December 16, 2012

Where we were and where we are going.

I am having so much fun with Rose in my dressage tack as of late. As much as I love jumping and recognize that my hunt tack is necessary for that, sitting in my dressage saddle feels like home to me. It's warm and cozy and I know where every inch of my seat and leg are. So, I'm happy to be focusing on our dressage work again, and will continue to jump her once a week until spring/summer when I can haul over to Livingston and take jumping lessons with Laura Love. At that point I'll start seriously focusing on her jumping.

For the winter though, I will be taking dressage lessons when I can from our barn trainer CR. Our next lesson will be on the last day of the year, and I cannot wait. Right now I'm taking a mental note of what I want to work on and where I want our riding to go. This will be the first lesson we've had in over a year, and she's actually come a very long way since then, even with the minimal amount she's been ridden. I imagine CR won't even recognize us.

Before I stopped riding at the end of 2011 we were working on:
  • Developing and even tempo (she used to rush, rush, rush, and fall on her forehand all the time).
  • Learning to properly half halt and halt through the seat.
  • Stand square.
  • Downward and upward transitions (she used to run into the canter from the trot). 
  • Simple changes.
  • Going through the people door. The garage door was not an option because she was scared of it if standing too close, and darn it I want her to walk through a scary little people door if I ask.
  • Asking her to look for and accept contact, rather than force it on her (she was behind the vertical a lot)
  • Jumping 2' courses.
 In 2012 we accomplished the following:
  • Maintain tempo at all gates.
  • Execute a square halt down from any gate, even the canter.
  • Halt/canter & canter/halt transitions.
  • Half halt.
  • Recently begun executing flying lead changes on cue.
  • Shoulder in.
  • Haunches in.
  • Half pass.
  • Wait for me to open the garage door while tacked up and being held (I gave up on the people door).
  • Stretches down looking for contact with the bit, staying just in front of the vertical.
  • Jumping 18" verticals and exes (yes...we went back to the start with jumping). No course work.
Dressage goals for 2013:
  • Work towards first level movements and tests.
  • Balance: Rose at times still falls-in noticeable at the canter.
  • Improve responsiveness to leg yields and half passes.
  • Collection/extension.
  • Improve flying lead changes.
  • Show training level to start, and move up to first level at at schooling shows and least one recognized show.
Jumping goals for 2013:
  • Schooling 2'9' by September if she's ready.
  • Take her over a cross country course at least once.
  • Jump logs on a trail ride.
  • Attend a hunt in the fall.
  • Jump a 2'6" course well at schooling shows and at least one recognized show.
That's all I can think of for now. I cannot wait until the 31st for my lesson. It will be nice to have some direction once again. Yea!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

December 10, 2012

Potential baby daddy at long last!

Every year around this time I start thinking about who I would breed Rose to if I were to breed her, and generally I come up with some okay options, since most the one's I like reside over seas. However, for the first time, I've found a stallion in the USA that meets all my requirements and that I would actually want to breed Rose to. So much so that it's sending delusional ideas through my head that maybe I should breed her. I'm not going to. Not now anyway. I won't do that until the day that I have my own land so that I'm not paying board on a pregnant mare and then a foal...in addition to the third horse I'll need to buy or lease so that I can keep riding. But, since this is all hypothetical meet:

For Enjoy Ask Z (I hate the name and hope that this is just a really bad translation from German, that or someone had a terrible sense of naming a foal). He seems to have a second name, Enska, which I like much better but assume is just his barn name. He is listed as For Enjoy Ask Z with isr/oldenburg NA.
Something I'm picky about in terms of confirmation is the stallion's topline. I think Rose's back is a tad long, so I definitely want a stallion that has a shorter back. Check! Height. I don't want something to big since Rose is already big herself. This guy is 16.2h. Perfect! I also want to know that they are equally talented in jumping and dressage. Check & check!
After I've checked out those issues, then it comes down to pedigree. This is where potential stallion matches come up short. If I'm going to invest in the money, time, and stress to breed my own horse then I am going to have the best bred foal I can possibly produce. One would argue that I should breed a different mare if that's my stance, but to some extent I can only afford so much, so I have to work with what I got, and Rose is actually pretty good broodmare candidate.

I want to breed to a stallion that compliments Gatsby's pedigree (obviously I'm not looking to put more strength on Rose's unknown quarter horse/percheron genes). Enska definitely does. He has great G and F Hanoverian lines (which is what I'm looking for), which when combined with Rose's pedigree offers some nice fourth and fifth generation linebreeding that shows strength for jumping. Then the last thing that I think about, which isn't a deciding factor at all but is totally icing on the cake, is color and chrome. This guy has it all. I love dark horses black or dark bay, and of course chrome is always nice.

At this point I think I'll be dreaming about what a For Enjoy Ask Z x Rose/Gatsby colt might look like.

If anyone is curious here is a link to his American (current) website: http://www.camelotstables.ca/enska.html and here is his old website with many more photos: http://www.anneniemi.fi/forenjoyaskzeng.htm


Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

December 7, 2012

Riding boot fashion trend

Every few years "riding boots" become a fashion trend. I've always thought this was silly since they look nothing like riding boots most of the time and there is no way you could ride in most of them, but that's me nit picking I guess. This year however I've started scouring the internet for a pair of brown boots. Why? Well I went black Friday shopping for the first time in years. Years!

It was great. MIL was still here and babysat. I got to be all alone with a million sale crazed holiday shoppers. Well, I could have done without all the other people, but it was nice to have some "me" time. Whilst shopping I found a great deal on a pair of skinny jeans. Yes, Hubs, you read that right. I bought skinny jeans! They are already washed and the tags cut...so no returns. Fret not Hubs: I'm not turning into a hipster. Hubs is not a fan of the hipster look.

Hubs: hipster - not your wife
I purchased said skinny jeans to wear when the weather requires me to don my cute fluffy pack boots around town. Stuffing boot cut jeans into calf-knee high boots looks silly to me, and has always bothered me. Unfortunately most the time it's too cold to throw on tights and a skirt...so skinny jeans it is.
Hubs: not hipster - that's what I'm talking about

However, thinking about wearing them with my pack boots got me re-thinking the "riding boot" fashion trend. I want brown boots. For some reason I love brown leather and blue jeans. I am also obsessed with red zippers too, but I think I'll have to forgo that fashion point since I need boots that are good quality, made of real leather, waterproof and warm for living in snow country and red zippered boots don't seem to accompany any of those other requirements.

I was surprised to see that Merrill, Keen, and North Face all have nice leather tall boots. Now I just need to figure out which ones I want. I'm leaning toward these options:

Merrell Captiva Launch Waterproof

Keen Bern Baby Bern Boots

Keen Laken High Waterproof Boots
Now, I just need to justify the cost...

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

December 5, 2012

Backing a trailer? No problem...

My trailer had been living at my house for a while as I practiced hauling it around town. However, it is against our HOA covenants to have trailers parked in driveways, and since we are on the HOA board, we figured that we were kinda pushing it. Also, we needed our driveway space back. So the trailer needed to go back to the barn now that I'm done hauling horses around town for the semester. Hubs of course was trying to figure out when he would have time to do it. HA! No need for that. I happily boasted that I would simply haul it back to the barn on my next trip out. With much relief, Hubs happily accepted my offer. Then we both simultaneously remembered that I haven't had any, none, zero, zilch experience backing the trailer. I do however take direction well and have good visualization skills. Hubs walked me through the fundamentals and I was out the door.

Back where she belongs.
For some reason backing the trailer never concerned me. I had zero anxiety about it. I just hauled the trailer to the barn (whilst drinking coffee and going the speed limit through a windy canyon...booyah), pulled in the lot, did a five million point turn to inch over to my space and avoid all sorts of random logs and various questionable items scattered about and parked the darn thing. It did take some concentration and thought, but overall I succeeded with very little trouble. I am quite proud of myself and very much looking forward to a summer full of trail rides and shows.


Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

December 2, 2012

Back to jumping basics.

My goal for today was simple; to get Rose willingly over an ex. It has been a few weeks since I last jumped Miss Thing, so I thought it was best to have low expectations. As per usual, she walked and trotted over the trot poles with no hesitation. I put up the ex. She trotted the ex just fine, again no hesitation. Again, as per usual, we come around a second time and she does her best to run out. I'm a little perplexed as to why she runs out on the second attempt, not the first. Regardless, I was expecting it and she did not like the resulting reprimand and proceeded to jump the ex from the walk. We came again, and she attempted to run out but with no success, and then she halfheartedly tried again.

Finally, Rose trotted and cantered the ex with no refusal. We changed direction and repeated the same process, ending on a very nice note of willingly cantering the ex, albeit a bit rushed on the forehand. I'll take it, as it is improvement. Hopefully soon this non-sense of running out will be behind us.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

November 30, 2012

Postpartum no longer...contemplations on riding

Winter is rapidly approaching, although it's been quite wintery here for a while. Fall doesn't exactly hang around Montana for long. The change of the seasons, arrival of the holidays, and end of the year always causes me to become a bit reflective and start preparing for changes for the year to come.

It occurred to me today, that Jr. turned seven months old yesterday and I guess technically we are probably past the postpartum phase. It's also the end of the school semester. I've been teaching what I do for a living as an adjunct at a University this fall. It has been a great experience, but between teaching twice a week and all the prep that goes into it and coaching the IHSA team and being a mom to Jr., I've had zero down time and no time for Rose.

Now the semester is ending though. I'm not teaching in the spring, but I will have the IHSA team to coach again and my private sector business will ramp back up to pre maternity-leave levels. Financially this is a good thing, and will actually be less time consuming and more flexible than giving lectures and grading assignments. So, although things will be getting going again in the spring, for the holiday break I will have five weeks during Dec-Jan where things will be quiet and I will get to ride more often! Also, Jr. will be a bit older in the spring and his schedule should become easier, freeing me up to ride in the evenings on work days again.

Normally I give my horses a month and a bit off between Turkey Day and New Years. However, given that Rose has mostly had the last year and a half off, no vacation for her this year. It's time to ramp things back up. We both need to get in shape, and we need to seriously start working on our course work. Now that she's doing automatic changes I'm very excited to get her around a course. All good things to come.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

November 29, 2012

Attention Family Members: My Christmas List

It's that time of year again, and just in case any of my family actually read this blog, you can find my updated wish list here: Thing that I would love to receive!


Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

November 27, 2012

The overly friendly barn cat

We recently added two new barn cats to our stable, as our old and overweight tabby wasn't doing much mousing. They are kittens and spent their first two months locked in the barn office. Now however, they have free rein of the barn. There is a fast, sly, short haired grey one that is always hiding somewhere, and a fluffy tri-colored friendly cat.


Crazy friendly barn cat.


Meet the friendly cat. She's cute and I've happily given her a scratch or two before. Usually others are around and she's on someone else's lap or perched on a shoulder. However, Sunday I was the only one at the barn, which made me friend number one. I greeted her with a hello and a scratch, because even though I'm allergic to cats I really like them, and she is just too darn cute and fluffy to resist. She instantly became my shadow...and then...as I was bent over to put on my muck boots she jumped on my back! LOL. I was not sure what to do. With much difficulty, I managed to stand up and get her off my back without her claws tearing into my down jacket. However, with the taste of success on her lips she would not give up her quest to ride on my shoulders. She jumped on my tack trunk and on various saddles in an attempt to get higher up and fly launch onto my back. I started laughing out loud, the whole thing was ridiculously funny at the time. Crazy friendly cat trying desperately to ride on my shoulders, and me running a muck trying to keep her off of me. Oh, to be a fly on the wall and watch what was going on. I'm sure I would have been rolling in laughter!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

November 25, 2012

A snowy Sunday with changes in the air.

This blog post is dedicated to my Mother-in-law. 

Both my in-laws have been here all week for the holiday and to help us renovate our laundry room. MIL has been a huge help with Jr. and happily baby sat so that I could escape and get some "me" time. Up until today, that "me" time has included dentist, doctor, hair cut, etc...maintenance appointments. Finally, today though, I got to the barn. So thank you MIL, you rock!
***
Snowy entry drive.
We woke up to softly falling snow this morning. I love snow. There is something about it that just makes me happy. I love donning sweaters, and drinking hot tea, and listening to holiday music. Hum, reading that sentence, if you didn't know anything else about me you would think I was a sentimental old woman that has eight cats and spends her days knitting. I am not, and I do not (actually I do knit). Regardless, I love the snow. There was a good couple inches on the ground when I went to the barn this morning and by the time I left the barn there were four inches of snow!

Paddock boots in the snow make for chilly feet...
I must remember to wear my pack boots!
Rose in the snow. Gasp! Standing like a good girl,
albeit giraffe like, outside.
Rose was a disgusting and hot mess when I arrived. EB is home for the holidays, and only rode her on Tuesday. Although...I'm thinking she didn't ride her after all. Rose was hot, hot, hot. She was also completely covered in grime. She hasn't acted like this big of a fool in the cross ties for some time now. Eventually she settled down, but I made sure to longe her before my ride. Since we were alone in the arena I free longed her. She dutifully went around me in a circle. I may not be pregnant anymore, but lord is it nice to longe a horse, classically, without a longeline. That is perhaps one of the best "side effects" that came out of my pregnancy.

Post ride posers. No more baby fat on this momma!
After the longe session I hopped on and she was well behaved and focused. We warmed up, practiced a couple training level dressage patterns, and then I decided to drill her at figure eights with...hold your horses...flying changes at the canter. She nailed them! Her balance has improved greatly over the last year, as have her transitions, so she no longer needs to kick out to get the change. Clearly it is time to start asking and expecting her to do them from now on.  I am so happy that we have finally reached the five year old maturity that everyone told me would eventually arrive.

Sweaty girl modeling her Rambo cooler.
She looks so good in blue!

As for postpartum weight loss, I'm all done! About a month ago I hit my pre-pregnancy weight. I was quite happy about that, but it also became noticeable that I was still losing weight and my milk supply was starting to dip, so I started upping my calorie intake a bit. Now all is well, my weight is staying steady, and I am happily re-discovering my wardrobe. Now I just need to ride more so I can get my muscle tone back. Rest assured though, if you are a first time equestrian mom out there, you will get back to pre-pregnancy weight and fitting in your breeches within six months if you are breastfeeding, without exercise. Just don't over eat and you will be all good. I imagine if I'd had a way to ride regularly I would have lost the weight even faster. But hey, 40lbs in six months with no effort isn't half bad!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

November 18, 2012

Taking it off!


I made it to the barn on Saturday, after a three week absence. There was perfect storm of weekend events this past month that kept me away from the barn, by hundreds of miles each week. My weekend obligations have now ended thank goodness, and I have no plans to be away again until February! I am looking forward to finally getting some dedicated pony time. Now if Jr. will start being consistently easy for Hubs in the evenings, perhaps I will be able to squeak out a couple week nights at the barn too. That may be wishful thinking though. We shall see. The one thing this new mom stuff has taught me is to not plan on anything, and just go with the flow...hence no more set plans for a long time.

Saturday was a beautiful sunny winter day. There is still some snow on the ground from the storm a week ago, so the barn looks like a winter wonder land. Despite the chilly weather, Rose was a good girl and I was delighted that there were two other boarders (that's pretty much all of us) tacking up at the barn when I arrived, so I got to have some adult non-work conversation. It was great. Also, because I was not alone, I did something that I've been longing to do for a while now. After our ride, I pulled my saddle and hopped on Rose bareback! I had only done this once before, when she was three, shortly after she was started. Back then she was skinny and I felt like there was nothing to hang onto, she was also unpredictable, bad a steering, and spooky at times, so that was the one and only time I rode her bareback. Now however, she is as comfortable as a couch and so well behaved. I think that I can certainly ride her bareback when no one else is around now. I plan on doing plenty more!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

November 17, 2012

Book Review: The Long Ride

I was recently asked to review a lovely book titled The Long Ride by Lucian Spataro Jr., Ph.D. Published 2011 by Green Rider LLC.


It is a lovely coffee table size book about an inch thick. Since life slows drastically when a baby is in the picture, it took me some time to give it a fair read. The book is about the journey that Lucian took riding from coast to coast (California to Maryland) in 1989. He was riding to draw attention to the environmental damage and destruction being done to the world's rainforests among other environmental issues. Lucian didn't just ride through rural areas either, he rode right through urban settings. And he's still doing endurance rides...check out his Facebook page to see where he is now.

Lucian's route.

It is an interesting story, and the book is full of wonderful photos and illustrations and is a fun read. It has gained a fairly permanent position on my coffee table as it is rather attractive, fun for me and guests to flip through, and has certainly given me something very interesting to read during my many nursing sessions over the past months. I think this would make a great Christmas present for any horsey person you know!

Here is a link to the author's website: http://www.thelongride.com/
The Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheLongRideBook
A link to purchase it on Amazon:The Long Ride

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

November 1, 2012

Trailering Diva!

I have a small confession to make. All these years, I have successfully avoided ever having to haul any horse I've owned or leased myself. I have on occassion driven a truck hauling a trailer, but always with hubs or someone else in the passenger seat.

That is until this last week.

Circumstances were such that I had to haul a horse for one of my students in the evening to practice. That meant that hubs couldn't help because he was on baby duty. One more unexpected way that being a parent has effected my horse life. So, I had to pull up my big girl pants and just do it.

I rocked that truck driving, trailer hauling, horse moving thing!

I had to haul her horse again this week, so of course I did, and now I'm feeling quite comfortable with it. So much so that I'm now daydreaming about my new found freedom and all the places that I would like to haul Rose to, now that I know I can do it on my own. I'm also thinking that maybe I can squeak out riding her more often if I haul her to practice and then hop on her for a bit while I teach. That may not be that practical or possible, but it is a thought to be mulled over more.
 
Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

October 27, 2012

Learning to jump, again...

Thanks to EB riding Rose during the week, I've been able to start jumping Rose again.  I have been very much looking forward to this, since she progressed so well last summer before I quit jumping her. However, last week I discovered to my dismay that she is happy to pop over an ex without concern, but as  far as a 2' vertical goes she was not having it. What happened is after effortlessly working through ground poles and then an ex, she jumped the vertical one time but then she hit the pole and refused to go over it again. At least it was a very honest refusal. She wouldn't get within 10' of the jump! LOL! So, back to basics. I got her over the ex again and then we just started with an 18" vertical. Once I finally got her over that, we did it a few times in each direction and ended on a good note.

Rose and her tiny vertical jump
My current plan is to just take it slow and start all over again with jumping. Eventually we will be back to jumping 2' and above.

On a postpartum note, I've officially lost all my pregnancy weight! All 40lbs. Woot Woot! I'm rather surprised, since I've only been able to ride once in a while and I am not doing any other exercise. I guess there is some truth to the whole breastfeeding weight-loss connection. Whatever the cause, I'm just happy to have a selection of breeches that I fit in to wear.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

October 24, 2012

Why I am a USEF member

It was time for my annual renewal of my USEF membership a few weeks ago. I happily got online and got us up to date. Often non-showing horse people in my world ask me why I bother with the membership, when (certainly now) I am not currently showing rated shows? "That's simple" I tell them "for the liability coverage".

I am greeted with a look of confusion and then awareness. It never crosses most people's minds that they should have liability coverage on their horse. After a few seconds pass, the preverbial "What liability coverage?" follow up question arrives.

I proceed to explain, that a USEF membership comes with a group liability insurance policy for the year that covers you and your horse from any liability damages, and why you should have coverage for your horse. For instance, your horse jumps out of it's pasture and runs down a road causing a traffic accident. You are covered.

I used to have separate liability coverage on Rose, in case she hurt anyone when they were handling her back in her young, unhandled, wild days. Then it came time to start showing her and I registered her and got my membership. Among the papers was this liability insurance that I was unaware of. The best part is, the cost of the USEF membership that includes the liability insurance is 1/3 the cost of a separate liability policy just for Rose. I immediately dropped my extra coverage and have been a USEF member ever since!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

October 10, 2012

Static is Back

I got to see my horse today. Yea! Unfortunately it was just a quick hello to hold her while Rose was getting her toes trimmed. It has been so dry here for the past three months (basically no rain at all) that her feet have been cracking and chipping a lot. I finally managed to get my two remaining post-pregnancy brain cells to bounce together and realized that I had a tub of Rainmaker hoof dressing in my tack trunk. EB and I have been diligently applying it for the past two weeks now and I like to imagine it might be helping. However, I should have busted it out in July to prevent the damage in the first place. Lesson learned. Next summer I will be all over that. The good news is that all of the cracking and chipping is minor and superficial. It's just not that pretty to look at.


Static Tail
After her trim, I decided to give Rose a quick groom before jetting back home to Jr. After running my pick through her tail I had to step back in a bit of humored amazement. Her tail looked electrified and was sticking out and clinging to anything it could, be it a leg or thin air. Winter is quickly approaching in Montana, and Rose already has a thick coat coming in. The snow  static just reminds me that clipping and blanketing is right around the corner. Fun times...not!

My yard last Wednesday
Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

October 2, 2012

The bitter tast of reality...


I feel like I'm a blogging downer these days. The huge irony is that my horse is doing quite well! So what is so bitter?

UNMET EXPECTATIONS
When you are pregnant people tell you stories about how women grieve the loss of their "birth plan". HA! That's easy to avoid I decided. I simply choose not to create one, beyond the fact that I would go to the hospital and have a baby, ever which way he decided to come out. In less than six hours I had an adorable baby in my arms. It worked like a charm.

What I didn't do was avoid making a post-baby riding plan. Oh, yes, you all may recall how I was going to get right back in the saddle, Rose and I both would get back into shape, do a couple local schooling shows and finish the season off with a rated show or two. Unmet expectations. I now realize what a ridiculous first time mom goal that was.

BITTER REALITY
The reality is that if I'm lucky I will get to ride my horse two times a week (Saturday & Sunday) at most. No easily getting back into shape, no schooling shows, and definitely no rated shows. No baby green hunter debut. There is just no way around it. Both my husband and I are self employed which is great, in that it allows me to be a work at home mom and keeps Jr. out of day care. It is bad however, because due to taking care of Jr. my income has been greatly reduced. This means that I can't afford to have a baby sitter watch Jr. while I go to the barn four days a week. Since my income is reduced, hubs can't spare his time to watch Jr. for me to get my horse fix either. That leaves me with the weekend only. Argh! Reality you are very very bitter tasting.

Rose - the horse I got to see twice in the month of September.
What is one to do? Personally I have a hard time justifying the cost of maintaining a show horse that I ride once or twice a week (a show horse, who for a while looked more like a bloated yack than a warmblood). However, the thought of selling Rose to only turn around and replace her in two more years (when I once again have free time to ride more often...hello preschool) seems foolish. The thought of selling her at all is one I don't like to even think about. Not getting to ride at all for two more years...that I could not deal with at all. Better one day a week than none. What to do?

Half-lease. This is the only thing I've been able to come up with. I've never lease out one of my horses so I'm very nervous about doing it and will probably have so much red tape involved that I'll never find a lessor, but I see no other choice at this point. Ironically I'd love to have EB lease her, but I don't know that she can afford it as a college student. She's been doing such a great job with Rose though that I couldn't be happier. Truly, EB has been a life saver this past month.

Have any of you had any good leasing experiences? Any tips or advice?

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

September 26, 2012

FTM Blog

For those of you who are interested, I decided to start a baby blog. Now this won't be about my baby per se, but more about my adventures of being a First Time Mom. If you are interested and want to check it out the blog is located here: http://adventuresinbabydom.blogspot.com


Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

August 25, 2012

A New Found Appreciation

This week I've ridden quite a lot. Three days and six horses to be exact. Not one of those horses was Rose. Don't worry, she's fine, and getting ridden to boot! One of my more advanced students, EB, has returned from summer vacation and is hacking her twice a week for me, starting this past week. Between the two of us she should get back in shape quickly, and I cannot wait to really start jumping her again!

So, what of these six horses you might ask? I am coaching the IHSA team again this year, and we are currently in the process of waking the school horses out of their lazy summer comas. Given the quantity of horses that need to be conditioned, and the fact that I need to be there to supervise anyway, I decided that I'd hop on a few of the more advanced ones and start figuring them out from their backs. This has been good, because I'm getting a fuller understanding of their individual quirks. They are mostly all hard workers and very willing, albeit they have seen better days and some have a few mechanical problems. All in all they have good spirits though, and are invaluable as school horses for that reason.

However, every day while driving home I reflect on my big beautiful mare and realize just how wonderful she is. For all our little squabbles and her funny little quirks she is an amazing horse with sensitive transitions and fluid comfortable gates, and I am so lucky to have her in my life. I'm looking forward to getting back on her, but that will have to wait until the end of next week once conditioning ends. I just don't have enough babysitting time to do both at once.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

August 21, 2012

Conformation Photos Over Five Years

Due to popular demand, here are Rose's conformation photos from every year that I have them (there is no yearling photo).


3 months old


2.5 years old (awkward growth spurt, but better conformation photo)

3.5 years old


4.5 years old (awkward growth spurt again)

5.5 years old

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

August 19, 2012

Yearly Conformation Photo

Every fall, I take a conformation photo of Rose to compare her to the day I brought her home. I used to do the photos about the same day in the end of September every year. However, I discovered that in Montana her winter coat starts growing in sooner, so I've had to up the photo shoot by a month. Without further adieu here is the side by side...


Two Years Old, October 2009

Five Years Old, August 2012
She's definitely grown up a tad!


Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

August 15, 2012

A little here, a little there

All I can say is that given everything Rose is amazing. Due to visitors and miscellaneous obligations Rose ended up with nearly two weeks off again. At long last I managed to make it to the barn yesterday and get in some pony time. I am hoping that with summer winding down I'll be able to get back onto some sort of riding schedule.

At any rate, Rose was wonderful.  You would never know she had any time off. She was calm and sweet and completely happy to work. I have to say that is one of the things I love about her. You can let her be for a while and then pick right up where you left off. It is a total Gatsby quality. In addition to riding, I finally manage to have enough time to also pull her mane. It had been about four or five months since I last pulled it (due to giant belly and then newborn) and it was very long...about eight inches. I had hoped to bathe her as well but ran out of time. Hopefully I can tackle that after my next ride!

July 28, 2012

Back to work

After our week of hell getting back into things, Rose ended up with two weeks off. In a nut shell? My maternity leave officially ended. There was a perfect storm of old work projects getting kicked off, out of town visitors, and a vacation planned all coupled with baby rearing. That meant that I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off to get everything done while Rose got to take it easy. Apparently what used to take me four hours to complete work wise now takes me a ten hour day. I'll get better at this work from home mom thing, I'm sure.

Rose - Post-hack on Tuesday
Due to having two weeks off and her behavior the week prior, I was prepared for a huge fight and unpleasant ride when I got to the barn on Tuesday. However, what I found was a perfectly calm and well behaved mare that didn't challenge me on anything. I was in a bit of disbelief over it, but soaked up every single uphill and rhythmic canter stride and her beautiful floating trot. We had a nice easy hunter hack warm up and proceeded to work on some transitions. After that I decided to run her through Training Level test B (because it's the only one I have memorized). It is a bit odd to me to do a dressage test in hunter tack, but I still think dressage even in hunter tack is an excellent exercise for any horse. Plus it is something that Rose is confident at doing, while learning her to develop a new way of balancing with me in a hunter position rather than dressage. Below is a video of our little dressage test.



I was delighted that our ride on Thursday was even better, and I cannot wait to get back out to the barn again next. Hopefully one day this weekend...but that will depend on our next set of house guests. It's mind boggling how having a baby brings out the visitors!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

July 11, 2012

Tack Trunk Plans For Sale




We finally got around to finalizing our tack trunk plans and putting them in a nice instructional package. If anyone is interested, they can be purchased for $40 on my blog page here: http://adventuresincoltstarting.blogspot.com/p/my-custom-tack-trunk.html or on etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/101214670/tack-trunk-tack-box-plans. You will be emailed a pdf document of the plans. If you do purchase them and build a trunk I'd love to see photos of your finished product.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

July 4, 2012

It's a Postpartum Record!

I rode Rose four times in the past five days (thanks to Hubs being awesome and taking Jr in the afternoons), and for the first time in nine months I jumped her! It wasn't much of a jump, just a 2' cross rail but a jump non-the-less, and she took it like an old pro.

I'm quite happy that we ended the week on a good note, as our first ride on Saturday was horrid. Rose fought me every stride for fourty-five minutes, including going over trotting poles. After politely walking through them at first, she wanted to jump over them all at once and then she just plain refused to go over them. Eventually I won though, getting her to walk through them. The next day was mildly better, and she went through the poles at both the walk and trot. The third day, Monday, I actually had a horse to ride that I recognized, and even enjoyed myself. She got the following day off so that we could both recharge our batteries. Then today she was a good girl and worked really well for me, so much so that I put up the little ex and we went for it. I rewarded her with a nice walk around one of the large pastures to cool off.

It feels great to be back in the saddle regularly and I finally feel like I'm on the road to getting my pre-baby physique back. Only 13lbs left to lose. It will certainly be nice to fit in my clothes again. However, I've come to realize that it is unlikely that I will be taking Rose to any shows this summer. Horse shows and breastfeeding simply do not seem to go well together. Plus, although I managed to ride regularly this week, it doesn't mean that I'll be able to keep it up consistently enough for Rose to be ready for a show. That's a bit of a bummer, but at least she'll still qualify for the baby-greens next year.

Now, Rose is going to get the next four days off, as we will be visiting the in-laws for a long weekend. I'll be packing my running shoes while taking advantage of grandparent babysitting services so that I can be ready to ride again next week. Have a great holiday everyone!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

July 2, 2012

Cashel Tail Bag Review

The burs are out, and after picking some big ones out of Rose's tail I scavenged my trailer tack room for the Cashel Tail Bag that I had bought last year.

Day One
It was really easy to put on and I liked the fact that it has tassels on the end to simulate hair.

Day Two
On day two, the bag was still there. The tassels a bit mangled though. However, when I next came to the barn, day five, the bag was gone. No where to be seen, and I was not going to search a 15acre pasture to find it. Se-la-vie. I won't be buying another one of the same brand.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

June 29, 2012

Hoof Repair

 Here are some lovely before and after images of Rose's recent self inflicted hoof damage. As bad as the chunks chips looked they were luckily superficial, and she was immediately okay-ed to be ridden after her trim.
Left Hind Before

Left Hind After

Right Hind Before

Right Hind After
Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

June 27, 2012

That darn door...again!

Last winter I had all the time in the world to deal with Rose's people door issue. However, when my husband managed to make time in his schedule last week to babysit Jr. so that I could go ride, I found my patients lacking.

Upon reaching the arena door, Rose, who had been having no issue with the door for months now, suddenly threw on the breaks and turned into a royal snot. I tried politely for about ten minutes to get her in, then I tried more aggressive tactics, all to no avail. In the end I ended up throwing her in a stall, opening the garage door, and then going back to get her and entered the arena that way.  I simply do not have time to deal with her marish bull$&** anymore.

Rose's fat bum, as a result, had to work very hard for the remaining 30 minutes I had left at the barn. The ride at least was good. I'm not too thrilled to see what I will be dealing with next time.

Looking innocent, post-ride.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

June 26, 2012

15 Minutes of Fame

I'm not famous, but my horse trailer is! The national Dodge marketing team was randomly in town these past two weeks. It is beyond me why they would pick Bozeman, Montana for a photo shoot. Granted the scenery around her can be breathtaking, but I just never imagined that a company like Dodge would come here for photos. Anyway, somehow their talent scout ended up at my barn while looking for a location to shoot a truck/cowboy photo scene. They chose a different location to shoot, but liked my BO's husband's bay quarter horse and my trailer. There is just something about that groovey 1990's detailing that catches peoples eyes. HA!

So, yesterday, my trailer was rented and photographed with the new Dodge truck. The photos will be featured in brochures that you can get at Dodge dealerships nationwide. Anyone want a signed brochure? I'm happy to oblige! LOL!

Here is my trailer behind our Ford truck:

I'll have to share the Dodge photo once I recieve my copy. I can only imagine that a new Dodge truck would make my trailer look more sexy (I'm a Dodge girl btw, it's just that Hubs came with the Ford), so I can't wait to see the photos.


Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

June 25, 2012

Grazing muzzle fail

Well, Rose and GoGo must be kindred spirits. I spent a half hour showing her how to get grass through the muzzle and all that was accomplished was her becoming utterly frustrated and aerating the lawn. Meh! She continues to get fat in the pasture. At least the swelling in her leg has gone away and her hooves are fixed and miss chubby cheeks is sound to ride. That's something at least.


"Hey this thing doesn't have any grain in it. What's with that?"

"Get it off! I must eat grass. I am starving to death!"



Happy trails and swooshing tails!
•DS•

June 20, 2012

In which Rose continues to get fat

In the week I was away Rose managed to procure a swollen right hind fetlock, two inflamed splints,  three sizable skinned spots, several small cuts, one long one on her rump, many superficial bite marks, and a huge chunk out of each hind hoof. My guess, based on physical evidence on both her and the kick wall of the run in shed, is that she and her neighbor Lucy have been fighting over who is dominant across the fence in the shed. Sheesh! Mares.

The major damage:
Left Hind Hoof
Right Hind Hoof
Left Hind

Right Hind
Swollen Fetlock (suspensory ligament possibly?)
Superficial cut on rump
Big bite mark on chest
Aside from the obvious, it was exceptionally disappointing to discover her injuries (particularly the swollen fetlock) because I was intending to ride. Hubs had managed to make time in his day for me to go to the barn. I treat these rare occasions as gold these days. However, given the fetlock and how much hoof was missing I thought a ride was a bad idea. Luckily my farrier was scheduled to come tomorrow so after he fixes her feet I'll see if her pastern swelling has subsided and potentially ride.

Since I had the time, I gave Rose a very badly needed bath, doctored her up, and organize the exceptionally neglected tack room in my trailer. I did not return her to her dry lot, but rather put her back in the pasture with the other mares. All were thrilled with the reunion.



She clearly needs to be in a herd, and not left alone to her own devices in a dry lot. So that brings me back to the problem of her being fat. The only thing I could think of was to try out a grazing muzzle. For now she is stuffing her face, but tomorrow when she gets her feet done I will be introducing her to her new diet device. I recall the difficulties that Andrea had with Gogo, so I'm anticipating that she won't get it right away. We shall see. Hopefully it will work!

 *On a side note, I was a bit concerned about turning her right back out on the grass. In the end I figured it would likely be fine as she's only been off it one week, and I need to be less neurotic about these things. Any thoughts? Should I have been neurotic and transitioned her back onto it instead? I'm curious to hear others opinions on that.

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