December 25, 2015

Gentry The Skijor Horse

We woke up to fresh powdery snow falling on Christmas morning. By the time we opened our presents and finished our crepe breakfast, there was 6" of new powder on the snow-packed road. Today was definitely the day. The conditions couldn't have been more perfect (okay, the temperature could have been a tad warmer than 16ºF). Everyone put on their ski gear, I tacked up Gentry, and then we headed to our road. The result?

Skijoring was completely AWESOME; even JR and my 69 year old MIL gave it a go and loved it!

Hubs...the guinea pig.

Hubs very quickly decided this was safe and fun and wanted to go faster. I have now been informed that next time we can just start off galloping.
JR giving it a go with Hubs...very slowly at the walk. 
Anything we do JR wants to try and he was being very insistent, so...we let him do it. He was grinning ear to ear. My heart was in my throat the entire time, but I was assured that the rope would be dropped if anything went awry, and of course nothing did. Then my MIL put on her ski's. She was completely stoked and didn't want to stop! I think we have found a new winter past-time and Gentry and our dog Burke seemed to enjoy it too!

On a side note, my dressage saddle harness set-up worked great. And despite my worry that the nylon rope would be slippery, it worked just fine.


December 24, 2015

Gentry Pulls a Sled

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! Given that we have holiday visitors/free babysitting, I jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of the nice weather and progress Gentry's skijoring training. Today we pulled a sled and Gentry was amazing about it. He didn't have a concerned about the sled and seemed to really enjoy himself.
Kid's snow sled, logs, and skijor tow rope

I started out by loading up JR's sled with logs so that the thing wouldn't bounce around. I then clipped the carabiner end of my skijoring tow rope to the sled and held the other end in my hand. First I led Gentry around the paddock while I held onto the rope and pulled the sled behind us. This allowed me to asses if he had any issues with something "chasing him" or the sound of the sled on the snow prior to being mounted. Nope. No concerns whatsoever...beyond the treat filled contents of my pocket. Many treats were dispensed during the course of this training session.

After determining that Gentry's usual easy going nature was indeed intact, I saddled up and decided to give it a go. You guys, I had SO MUCH FUN. I seriously love this horse and feel so grateful that he came into my life and has made riding/horse ownership fun for me again. Here are a few photos from the training session. Hubs was kind enough to pop outside and take a few action shots of us.

View of the sled from the saddle, while holding the rope.

Awkwardly trotting uphill holding the rope.

You can see how I ran the tow rope through the ring on the harness and held the open end in my hand.
The only trouble I had was at the canter. My hands were pretty frozen from my death grip on the rope, so I kept accidentally dropping the rope whenever we cantered. The trot was do-able holding the rope, but certainly was a bit awkward. I am looking forward to when I have a live passenger clipped to the harness who can drop the free end and I only have to use my hands to ride my horse! If the weather cooperates, it looks like Christmas day may be our first ever skijoring attempt!


December 21, 2015

Skijoring Harness & Tow Rope

Steps have been made toward skijoring! This past week we were blessed with 2' of snow, and woke up Sunday morning to 6 more inches of fresh powder. If skijoring is ever going to happen, this is probably the winter for it. Our roads are PERFECT for skiing on.

The fresh snow left me chomping at the bit to get my harness figured out, so after mulling it over for a few days, I came up with a harness design that I think will work well. Hubs took JR skiing Sunday morning, which left me with some glorious alone mommy time (this was actually a tough one as I really wanted to go skiing too), so I headed down to our local ranch store and purchased some rope and a few findings that I thought I'd need to make attaching the ropes easier. When I got back, I spent a few minutes assembling everything and was really pleased with the outcome.

Without further adieu, I give you my Dressage Saddle Skijoring Harness & Tow Rope Set-up:

Side View
Top View
The rope around the saddle is 3/8" Nylon. I attached one end to a metal ring with a square knot, and the other end tied a square knot to a carabiner. The rope runs between the saddle flap and the panel. I did not use the D rings, as this didn't seem necessary or possible. In addition, the breast collar attaches to the D rings, so they are in use anyway.

*Bonus, the rope now works as an "oh s..t" handle! That might come in useful.

Back View, showing Tow Rope Attachment
The Tow Rope is 3/4" Nylon, 30' long. If we ever get into this competitively, then we will need a 50' rope for running courses with curves. I attached a metal ring to the end of the rope and a carabiner. I was conflicted about this, thinking maybe I should use a panic snap instead, but in the end decided to go with the carabiner for human safety reasons. I don't want the thing randomly snapping free mid run.

Once it was all set up, I decided to hand walk Gentry around the paddock with the rope dragging to see how he'd react. Like everything else he completely took it in stride.

"Okay, so it's a rope. What now human?"

Viewpoint of the Skijorer
You will note that I broke from my usual white/black color theme. Shocking right? I figured that we will only ever skijor in the winter and we may as well have fun an be festive. I am now envisioning adding sleigh-bells to the breast collar and using red splint and bell boots up front! Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself; we have to test this setup first! Next up, time to book a babysitter and get Hubs on his ski's. Stay tuned...


December 15, 2015


Right after Gentry's skijoring breast collar arrived, the temps SOARED into the 50's and all the snow melted. This was actually great because we got the field cleaned up and a few other outdoor tasks completed this past weekend. Then Sunday night it started to snow again, and it kept snowing. It didn't stop until Tuesday morning. At last measure and we have a total of 24" of fresh powdery snow. It is literally up to the horses' knees.

The "path" to the barn.

While everyone else in our town is probably on the slopes, I am just hoping that the snow will hang around and stay fluffy through the weekend so that we can attempt some skijoring training. I can't wait to give it a go! Stay tuned.


December 14, 2015

Barn Gifts

You know the drill. It's the Christmas season. You come strolling into your barn's tack room, and hanging from your bridle hook, or sitting in your brush box, is your barn present from your barn owner/manager person. These are generally handy things including brushes or curry combs and horse treats. Maybe even a human treat or two.

As a boarder I always enjoyed the generosity of my barn manager's. I also returned the favor and brought gifts for the barn staff. Now that I have a couple boarder's of my own, it was time to start organizing my Christmas spirit. I may have gotten overzealous this year, but hey, it happens.

This year, after being a bit of a lame-o last year, I decided to step it up a bit and I got both of our boarders a C4 belt that matches their saddle pad colors. Both girls are/were eventers/ everything in the tack room is color coordinated. Frankly, I love this. I thought a belt would be the perfect additional bling.

Behold the loot (and I don't think they read this blog...if they DO, I hope that they can still pretend to be surprised).

The C4 Belts Arrived! Now time to wrap.

While I was at it, I got another belt for my non-horsey 12-year old niece (because the belts are I hope that cool...and I had no clue what else to get her pre-fashionista city-kid self), and of course one for me. Bonus, I got a black and white reversible saddle pad to add to my vast quantity of white saddle pads. Am I adventurous or what? One entire side is BLACK! Not white!

My C4 beauty!

Not one to hold back in the world of bling and colors...I got all matchy-matchy with my black and white horse and black and white dressage self. I think the combo of my new belt and future stock tie will be perfect for both schooling and the dressage court! Seriously, I do love all the black and white dressage stuff. Maybe it's just because I like a lot of clean saddle pads, but at the same time I hate sorting laundry. Having all of your pads white makes it easy to wash, bleach, and keep white... but, I digress.

Future stock tie...still need to order this puppy. Can't wait!

With all the new loot, we are one step closer to at least looking like we can ride training level. Now we just need winter to go away so we can get back to riding in the arena and start practicing the training level tests. Specifically our canter transitions.


December 3, 2015

The Fall Hustle

Having horses at home comes with one big downfall. It can, at times, be a lot of work. Fall is the main time when that is the case.

It currently looks like this outside:

It started snowing November 4th and hasn't stopped. We got lucky though, winter arrived about a month late for our area. So, although we didn't get all of the anticipated fall projects done around the farm, we did get the most important ones finished.

The list of finished Fall Hustle Projects (aka: get it done before it snows)

  1. Build two slow-feeder Slow Grazer boxes for the run-in shed.
  2. Stack 10 tons of hay in barn.
  3. Spread 1-year old composted manure in garden beds and plant garlic & shallots.
  4. Paint (at least) the south side of the barn - it got primered at least. Still needs red paint.
  5. Replace the last remaining 100' stretch of high tension wire with post and rail fencing.
  6. Install trench drains from barn gutters to outlet in pasture.
  7. Lay geotextile fabric and road mix (3/4" minus crushed rock) in high traffic areas around barn.
We literally finished project #7 the night it started snowing. I am also happy to report that Gentry's snowball rim's in his shoes worked as anticipated and kept me riding despite the snow. He's barefoot for the winter now though. Now that it is snowing, and the heated automatic waterer is doing it's job, I guess there is time to do a bit more than just work, eat, and sleep. For instance blog! 

Stay warm out there!

December 1, 2015

Skijoring inspiration

I got to enjoy some cyber Monday Sunday deals on Riding Warehouse, and ordered a Toklat CoolBack Fleece English Breastplate. It should arrive on Friday, until then all I can do is gaze at this lovely photo and let images of Hubs wiping out gracefully skiing behind my horse dance in my head.

Since I like to do research in lieu of a social life anything else, here is an "inspirational" instructable I stumbled across...

The instructable has some good safety points. The author is probably one of those scorned lonely guys that like to sit on Reddit and preach about how one should never date a horse girl. But I digress. It was enough to make me briefly reconsider doing this. Briefly. I'm doing it! At least once! I roughly picture us doing this right up until second 16 of the video. I think we aught to leave off the jumps. But then again, I'll be on the horse, not the skis. So I guess it's not really up to me.

Then there is this video of a skijoring comp in Wisdom, MT

This video makes it all look like a fabulously fun adrenaline rush. Before you think I'm that much of a bad ass, consider that at the one minute mark you will see some begium drafts pulling a sled. That's more the speed I imagine going.

Next up is video from the Whitefish, MT skijoring competition showing the novice divsion. Way more my speed.

Lastly I found this video, and decided that maybe JR really does need a pony after-all...even if HE never rides it!

Now that is just friggin' cute!



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