Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween & October 10 Questions

Hemie and I are wishing you a safe and fun Halloween!
Today is both mine and my hubby's birthdays, so we'll be having an extra fun day! 

Now for October's 10 Questions from Viva Carlos!

1. How many pairs of breeches/jods do you own?   Around 10.

2. How many horses have you ridden?   More than 20, less than 100.

3. How many trainers have you had?   3: 1 as a child, learning the basics and doing saddleseat, and 2 as an adult learning eventing.

4. How many barns have you ridden at?  About 10. Sounds like a lot, but I was at each place for a good chunk of time, and includes barns from where I grew up in Canyon Country to where I went to college in Santa Barbara, to Malibu to Moorpark and beyond!

5. What is the name of the horse you consider yourself to have the greatest bond with?   Bo.

6. What is your favorite show name you've ever encountered?   Sky Watch and Imperator. 2 amazing saddlebred show horses that went head-to-head for many years, both with powerful names. I also really love my horse Bo's show name: Welcome Challenge.

7. What do you consider your greatest weakness or flaw in riding?  Equitation skillz.

8. What do you consider to be your greatest strength?  Natural feel and confidence. They get me through a lot!

9. Have you ever leased a horse?  Kinda. I had a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby I rode and cared for a beautiful young horse as if she was mine, but her owners paid for board and vet while I paid for lessons (aka training). We split show fees too. That was the deal of the century...

10. What is the name of the first horse you rode?  I'm sure I had pony rides, but my first lesson was on a pony named Willoughby. The first horse I rode regularly and bonded with was named Wings. He was a sweet, safe older gelding with lovely flowing tail, and I *luffed* him in the way only horse-crazy 6-year-olds can.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Let's Talk Tack: Horse Boots

This month I want to know about your horse's leg support and/or protection.  Do you regularly use boots or wraps on your horse?  I hope you'll vote, and share your reasons in the comments!

Do you regularly use boots or wraps on your horse's legs? free polls

I rarely use horse boots or wraps on Hemie. The potential negatives of irritating/rubbing legs, getting caught on something, and overheating outweigh the need for protection in his case. Hemie is very careful with his legs and rarely hits a rail. When he does, it's with his toes (I know this from paint transfer). The boots I own do not offer "support" - just impact protection. However I do use boots when doing XC because solid fences have much greater impact if he does hit a jump. I've never been a believer in polo wraps, although I think they look nice.

Will boot for photo challenges, though. Pink boot collection ftw.

Last month I asked where you do your shopping: online vs brick-and-mortar stores. Here's the results!

The majority of voters do 25% of their shopping in stores, and 75% online.  I'm not surprised given the quantity of mega online tack stores, which offer incredible product variety, comprehensive reviews and ratings, and rewards programs. Its interesting to note that many brick-and-mortar stores now also offer online shopping - my local saddlery just came out with their own app which includes a horse-cookie punch-card rewards feature! So tech savvy!

Thank you to everyone who votes and participates in these informal polls. Very interesting!!

PS. I'm not sure how I forgot to have a "100% online" option (sorry Karen!).

Previous Let's Talk Tack posts:

Online vs Brick-and-Mortar (Tack Shopping)


Riding Boots & Saddle Pads

Monday, October 27, 2014

Smile while you ride

Vote for us at Racing to Ride
For the last few weeks, Hemie has been really fantastic during lessons and practice rides, especially for dressage. It's hard to describe, but mostly it comes down to his attitude. He's willing. He's interested.

And most delightfully: he's curious again. He's looking at dressage like a puzzle to figure out. He's not getting frustrated or annoyed - he is putting his thinking cap on instead. Its been months since I've felt him do this and it's very encouraging as we introduce some new movements, such as trot-lengthen.

I don't know if something clicked for him at one of our last 2 shows, or if my new focus on my positioning and body is having more of an impact - but in any case, I'm very pleased with our rides lately.

Our lessons have been focusing on straightness of shoulders as the ticket to self carriage and more thoroughness.  Jump lessons continue to get more and more exciting. Laurie's goal is to have me feel ready for Novice level next year, so the jumps are getting raised and the tougher questions are being asked. Hemie LOVES it. Meanwhile I need to work on my courage and lower legs!

Two-pointober update: I got 4:35 seconds last week. I try to get at least 30 seconds of improvement each week, so I hope to break 5 minutes this week.

I've also ridden another horse lately. Harry is an OTTB that's night-and-day different from Hemie, which makes riding him even more instructional for me. He's gotten the benefit of full training for months, so he's come a long way in a relatively short time. He starts off as a super slug, so the first few minutes is just getting him in front of your leg. Then when you ask him to get on the bit, you have to really take a hold and expect it to happen - and it does! Riding Harry has helped me understand Laurie better - she asks me to ride Hemie like she trained him. And riding Harry is teaching me what that really feels like.

Now for some of our jumps from Saturday's lesson:

Roll top bending line to black tube (left side) & 3-stride line (right side) 

Bending line from white gate to red boxes, then left turn over the logs, through the water and up a bank.
Circle right, then down the bank, then turn to the 3' one-stride line.

Finishing with skinny to square oxer. 
We also did our first hogs-back oxer the other week. I thought it was intimidating but Hemie thought "no problemo".  He really does love the more technical jumping questions.

Friday, October 24, 2014

SFTS Blog Hop: That 1 Thing

Stories From The Saddle wants to know...

First, I wanna know: what is the ONE piece of tack (or clothing) that you simply cannot live without? Put function aside for a moment and try to decide which piece of your tack ho collection is your favorite. It can be anything for you, or for your horse.

Second, I'd like to know what you're currently saving up for or lusting after. Basically, what item do you have your eyes set on right now? If someone handed you enough money, what would be the first thing to buy on your list?

The one thing I can't live without is my long-sleeve white temp-reducing shirt. It has saved me from overheating and bad tan lines all season, and is nice enough to show in when jackets are waived.

The one thing I'm lusting after is a Back on Track saddle pad. I think the most I've ever spent on a saddle pad is $20 so I'm having a hard time with the $85 price tag, even though I know it has magical properties.

Image from BackonTrack website

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hand Gallop Blog Hop: What's in a name?

Unfortunately I'm too late to be in the official blog hop link list, but c'est la vie! I'm still doing it because its a great topic.

What's the origin of your horse's show name and barn name?

My horse's registered name with the Jockey Club is Bohemian Spirit. I learned his name as I was filling out the paperwork the day I met and adopted him, and took it as a sign that this horse was meant to be mine. My first horse and true heart horse was named Bo. And the horse I learned to event on was Spirit. I really loved that his name contained both of these other horse's names.

Before I even met him, I'd been brainstorming some names. I was thinking something like Ducati or another speed motorcycle reference since he was a racehorse and I thought my husband would enjoy it. I was also thinking some sort of inclusion of luck or gambling since he was in the HBO TV series Luck. However, any time I've picked out ideas for a name in advance of getting an animal, it's never worked out.

Of course, he came with the perfect name. Bohemian fits his personality completely, and I show him under that name. I call him Hemie for short, and my heart does a little pitter-patter when people occasionally call him Bo.

My first horse Bo was an American Saddlebred 5-gaited show horse (although I never showed him), with registered name Welcome Challenge. I just love that name. It's powerful and says "bring it on." He had that attitude and that air, so it suited him perfectly. He came with the barn name Bo, which I spelled Beau for many years - french for handsome, which he certainly was.

Also, be sure to check out the Equestrian at Hart giveaway!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ponies in Pink Photo Challenge

This weekend Bohemian channeled his inner pink pony princess to participate in Racing to Ride's photo challenge for breast cancer awareness. It was his first time wearing a hot pink bow, and my first time using hashtags. We are quite the pair!

After we got dressed up, we took our pink selves all around the property, where we got numerous cocked eyebrows and bemused smiles.


You can vote for our photos by liking them on Facebook. The winners get special edition SSG gloves - purchase of those gloves helps support breast cancer research.

Also, check out Equestrian Journey's contest to celebrate her horsieversary!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

El Sueno Derby Recap

Our last scheduled show of the season took place this past weekend, at good ol' El Sueno nearby. Once again I trailered my pony by myself and felt confident doing it.

Hemie started off the day feeling quite fresh, with impressive acrobatics in his 12x24 paddock, so he got some time in the roundpen to get the bucks out.

We got to the showgrounds and Laurie graciously gave Hemie a nice long walkabout while I checked in at the office. She doesn't do that for all her clients, and I am thankful that she genuinely cares for Hemie and goes above and beyond for us at shows.

Our plan for this show was to ask for more out of Hemie in terms of dressage performance. The overall vibe in the warm up was very low-key, so Hemie and I started off plodding along until Laurie reminded me to not settle for whatever Hemie offered, and instead make sure I was giving clear aids for better work. Overall the warm-up went very well. We had about 30 minutes which was perfect.

First up was BN Test A.

We scored a personal best of 31.05 (which is equal to a dressage score of 68.95%)!!!  This is absolutely record-breaking for Hemie and I, so I admit I teared up when I saw the test. Overall I am so, so pleased with this test. I was still a bit more of a passenger than I'd like to be, but that's something I'll continue to work on.

Next we did BN Test B. We had ~ 3 rides before our next test, so we did plenty of walking around then did another quick warm up where I was sure to really ask for quality.

On this test we scored 31 (69%)!! Very close total to our first test, and I was proud of being a more active rider and am very proud of that free walk and our halt. Going forward I need to work on quality transitions, especially trot/canter. Our judge for both tests was local dressage trainer Michael Lieberg, and Laurie commented that as a traditional German dressage trainer, he rewarded us for having good contact, whereas other judges tend to focus more on roundness.

Unfortunately the video to jumping round didn't come out, but here's the recap:

  • We went double clean!
  • Many of the jumps had options - 3 jumps next to each other, and the rider picking whichever one to go over to count for that obstacle. For example, you could do the ditch or a log next to it or a stadium vertical next to it. 
  • At 2 jumps, we had a shoulder popping issue a few strides out, resulting in me taking the "middle" sized option rather than the "large" jump I was planning on.
  • The dreaded jump following the water had no problems.
  • We did a down-bank with no issues. 

While  both Hemie and I had a great time and good jumping round, I wish I'd have responded better and faster to the shoulder popping issues and still jumped the jumps I originally pointed us towards. After all, at registered horse trials we don't have the options. But we got around clear and it was a good outing overall.

We finished off in 2nd place for the BN derby (combined dressage & jumping) out of 2 competitors, and 1st in the BN Test A dressage only, again out of 2 competitors.

Laurie and a sleepy Hemie
Then I trailered home alone, and unloaded Hemie alone, without issue. Pony got lots of treats and pats for being a good boy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Fabulous term from Gail Vaz-Oxlade's money blog.

I heartily believe that gratitude is essential for a happy life, and I am so thankful to have my handsome horse Bohemian. Hemie is a heart-horse and I am so grateful that the universe put him in my life. To celebrate, here are my current 5 favorite photos of us:

And some simple joys inspired by Laura of The Roany Pony:

The dolphin-noise whinny he makes when I bring his bucket.

When he puts his nose on my neck as I'm rasping his hooves.

When he sneaks up on Laurie from behind to snuggle.

When he nickers hello to me every time I see him.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lessons and such

To catch up on lessons and practice rides - last week on Wednesday I did a quick ride to practice what I'd learned from the lesson with Chemaine, and overall it was great. Except for one giant buck when I was asking for the canter using seat pressure (I admit I had gotten a little discombobulated). I didn't fall off and about 10 seconds later I remembered to growl at him. The rest of the ride was quite good, then Hemie got his mane pulled and hooves rasped.

Mom, I prefer you giving me treats to you taking my photo. Thx.

Then Thursday we had our normal dressage lesson but located in the jump ring due to other lessons going on.  Warm up included doing my baseline for 2pointober in a nice forward trot and canter, so Hemie thought we were going to be jumping and kept had a great mentality for the whole ride.

I was extra mindful about where my weight was and I did plenty of inside rein wiggle too. I think it helped tremendously even while doing other exercises because we had some really great work throughout the ride. Lots of compliments from Laurie which is good especially right before the show.

Saturday was so hot, our jump lesson was cut short. But we worked on straightness and rhythm and Hemie was sassy over the smaller jumps and a perfect gentleman for the larger jumps! Silly pony.

Sunday was the the show.

A pic of my horse rolling around. Trust me.
Ugh so dark so early!

On to this week!

Following the 2pointober starting post, I realized that I had likely been touching Hemie's neck for most of my baseline 2-pointing, so I was nervous if I could still do 3 minutes without! On Wednesday I was determined to do so, and was very mindful of proper positioning thanks to this post from Lauren at She Moved To Texas. I'm happy to report I held it for 3 minutes 51 seconds!

Thursday night we had a dressage lesson, and we worked on me upping the ante with how much I ask from Hemie, and how often, and how quickly. I've been focusing on having him relaxed and easing him into work, but Laurie things he's proven that he can do more if I ask. I had an aha! moment that I can use each leg independently, and each arm independently, and my seat independently, and move my shoulders around, all at the same time. If I need to turn my shoulders left, add right leg, wiggle left rein while having elastic right elbow - I can!

dribbling his feed

neighbor says "thanks! tasty!"

Saturday we have another show - same classes as last weekend. Wish us luck!

Also, check out A Gift Horse's giveaway to celebrate 200 followers!

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Trophy for Carly

Regular posts are hereby interrupted for a special shout out to Carly of Poor Woman Showing.

If you haven't already, check out her blog. It's one of my absolute favs. She recently shared her reflections on the 2014 show season. A small excerpt:

Overall, this was without a doubt our most successful year ever. Not only that though, it was also the most fun I've ever had showing. ...


The true success this year?

One hundred percent barefoot and sound for every single show this season with me being his trimmer. Where's my trophy?

Here it is Carly.

Courtesy of free online graphic software and an hour spent goofing off at work.

My OTTB is also barefoot, and I do touch-up to his hooves in between trimming sessions. So I can personally verify that trimming hooves is HARD work. Especially without all the fancy shmancy equipment that professional farriers have.  I can only do 1 or 2 hooves per session, and I'm covered in sweat by the end. 

And of course, in addition to the actual trimming, there's the mental anguish over soundness concerns, the leap of faith in trusting yourself as you learn to do it, the research and extra work to deal with fungus and other hoof issues. Seriously, Carly does deserve a trophy for not only being her own farrier, but that she's done it so successfully in her first year of doing it!

Carly, you are not only a very entertaining blog writer, you have encouraged and inspired me. When you were able to haul by yourself, I knew that I could learn to do it too.  When you were able to deal with Bobby's shenanigans in good humor and with creative solutions, I realized I could have that attitude and approach too. And when you needed to change your goals and then proceeded to have your best show season, it gives me hope that things turn out great even if they don't turn out as we'd originally planned.

Happy Friday everyone! And I'm not the only blogger congratulating another blogger today. =)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Soldiers & Horses

Equinpilot is having a trivia contest to promote awareness for a very worthwhile organization: Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Programs (CPEAP) which provide equine-assisted activities for Wounded Warriors and Veterans. Fabulous idea for a great cause!

  1. When was CPEAP started? May 2006
  2. What are at least 3 benefits of equine assisted therapy?  Improves center of balance, increases self-confidence, and improves mental and emotional outlook.
  3. Students complete _____  ______ twice each lesson which helps record the therapeutic effects. Anxiety survey.
  4. This picture shows an important facet of the program. What is it? Soldiers helping soldiers.
  5. (BONUS) Recently arena letters where purchased for the program. Why did fence letters work better than letters on cones? Easier to see from the saddle which is safer (can lose balance bending over to look at letters on the ground).

Eventing In Color's bonus questions:
1. Who leads the horses during the sessions?
2. What kinds of horses are used in the program?

To participate, please check out Equinpilot's post to follow the directions and comment on her blog! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

RVPC Derby Recap

I had an AWESOME weekend!!
#1. New dog.
#2. Great horse show.
#3. Trailered my pony like a big girl!

Firstly, our newest family member:

Fenrir (Fen) is a border collie mix (with German Shepherd we think). 

Our pack: Levi in the front (terrier/schnauzer), Fen in the middle, Lucy (mini German Shep) in the back. The humans are now outnumbered in our house!

On to the show! The quick recap:
  • We did 2 dressage tests: BN A & B. We had no meltdowns, and I was able to ask for more and more out of Hemie as we went along. I'm proud of both of us for staying cool.
  • We got to XC school before the competition, and had a great time playing around in the field.
  • Our jump round was double clear - Hemie needed me to be supportive for a few jumps, and I'm proud that I was able to immediately respond when needed.
  • We came away with 2 blue ribbons! One for the BN derby, and one for our additional dressage test. I don't know how many other people were in our divisions - I think between 0 and 2.

The derby was put on by the Riverview Pony Club at El Sueno Equestrian Center where we've competed several times before. It was the same format and pricing as the normal El Sueno derbies, but the ponyclubbers brought their own jumps (decorated for Halloween!) and made up the majority of the competitors.

Dressage went well, I'd say. Due to a mix-up with dressage times (er...the lack thereof, actually), I tacked up and warmed up by myself and Laurie showed up just in time to watch my tests.

BN Test A was first. We scored 41.58, which I think was slightly generous.

I'm especially proud of our free walk - all that practice is paying off! "Against hands" is an interesting  repeated comment - I think I may need to be more elastic in my elbows.

We did BN Test B immediately following test A. I was a more proactive rider and we did get a better score of 38.75.

An 8!! For free walk! I'm quite proud of both Hemie and myself for this test.

Next we suited up for jumping and did some schooling out in the field. We did the water and a few logs and jumped over all of the ditches including some pretty deep and wide ones. I did a down bank and felt very comfortable with it - hooray!

The show started and we headed into the warm up arena while the lower divisions went. Luckily Hemie is totally fine being a couch and waiting around.  Finally it was our turn. Here's the video!

He was a bit sticky in the stadium portion, but I'm proud of myself for riding positive and getting us over everything, even if we were chip-happy doing it. We added 2 jumps to our course - the first ditch (you'll notice no standards), and the log after the 2nd ditch. They were both on our path so I figured - why go around when you can go over?

Added ditch

Ditch per course

Added log

Love this jump! Over a fallen tree branch with lots of fluffy leaves!

I'm also glad we had no problem doing a jump immediately after the water (the last 2 shows we had issues at the first jump out). As always, we're going much slower in the video than it feels while riding.

In addition to a great, positive outing, it was my first time hauling the trailer with ponykins inside. Luckily its a very close show (20/25 minutes, all side streets), and TK and her husband graciously escorted me in the morning. I did it solo heading home after the show. I even loaded and unloaded Hemie by myself both times. I am very proud of myself and happy to be able to haul!

All in all, a great weekend!!

Also, be sure to check out the contest at Viva Carlos, and congrats to L on 1,000 posts!!

Monday, October 6, 2014

2pointober & 10 questions

It's 2pointober time!!! Thanks to Viva Carlos and Equestrian at Hart for co-hosting this year.

Last year my baseline was 2:04. I can't find my finishing time but I think it was right around 4 minutes. On Thursday night I did my baseline and came to 3 minutes. I admit I could have pushed for longer, but I was (a) in a dressage saddle and (b) warming up for a lesson so I didn't want to be too noodly-legged!

10 Questions from L. at Viva Carlos

1. Is there something you don't like about your riding? Lower leg needs more stability.

2. Does your horse buck? Yes, but mostly in the turnout and on the longe. And very rarely just the other day under-saddle.

3. Is your horse head shy? Nope. He's fabulous with his head, ears, nose, everything.

4. Favorite barn chore to do? Organizing my tack cubby and sweeping the tack room.

5. How many times do you ride a week? Generally 4-5 times per week: 3 week days and 1 to 2 weekend days.

6. Who is your favorite pro rider? I'm going with Buck Davidson Jr.

7. If one pro rider could train you for one day who would it be? Dom Schramm (of EventionTV fame).

I need dem dressage skillz yo.

8. Favorite Facial Marking? I like solid faces.

9. Leg Markings or No Leg Markings?  No leg markings. I prefer symmetry and like dark legs.

10. Ever broken anything falling off? Nope! I've had plenty of injuries, but did not break anything from falling off specifically. I've injured a tendon and torn a meniscus from falling off, and fractured an ankle from dismounting hard, and also got a broken finger from being trampled on the ground (a story for another time)...but no actual broken bones from falling.