Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Transformations & Happy Things - Double Blog Hop!

I'm doubling up on the blog hops, because they are so fun and awesome!

Transformations by Niamh at Life of Riley  
Happy Things by Lauren at She Moved to Texas

A still from our very first ride!
See the whole 
video here.
the post where I brought Hemie home. 

A still from our dressage test at the derby last month.
See the videos at 
this recap post

Happy Things
"Let’s share things that make us happy! 
 Today, let’s talk about the little nooks & crannies in your house 
that make you smile."

My knick-knacks generally live in drawers, as I prefer clutter-free surfaces. But of course there's some exceptions.

This crystal decanter lives on our kitchen counter. We rarely drink the brandy or liqueur we store in it, but it's beautiful and sophisticated.

This was our wedding cake topper. It has a prominent home in our living room.

I love antique horse art. These prints live in the horsey half of the garage, where I can admire them while cleaning tack and organizing all the poneh shtuff. 

At work, I have a horseshoe business card holder that I purchased at a fundraiser auction to support Debbie Rosen's trip to compete at Rolex earlier this year. It makes me smile.

At the barn, I have Paola's painting hanging in my tack cubby. It reminds me that every single ride is a blessing, and that there are people who believe in me and Hemie. Check out her blog: The Aspiring Equestrian.

Thanks to Niamh and Lauren for making these great blog hops to focus on the positive in life!
To join the Transformations blog hop, just link your post to Life of Riley.
To join the Happy Things hop, use the link below:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Training Update

Our progress over the last week has been up and down. I sure wish horse (and rider) training was linear sometimes!

This post shall be filled with random photos.

Last Sunday I got back-to-back lessons. Part 1: jumping! This was our third jump lesson in a row (who needs dressage anyway, right?) and it went very well. Hemie was forward, really through on both reins including our hard direction, and we had a blast. He even saved me once when I got ahead of him at a tube jump. Good boy. We did an uphill combo of big, solid jumps that walked in 2.5 strides. We did the jumps on angled lines and then did them together, which I was nervous about but turned out fine. Overall it was a great lesson and I was proud of my horse and myself.

Part 2: Trailering! I got a supervised session where I hooked up, drove around the neighborhood, figured out the trailer brakes, and then parked. Laurie will be graciously letting me use her truck and trailer to hopefully take myself out to local trails and shows, but I knew I'd feel more comfortable with her supervising me one or two times before I start practicing by myself. Backing the trailer into a parking spot was the most challenging part, but I just need to practice more.

He had Monday night off, and Tuesday he got his hooves done then we had a fun bareback ride. I"m feeling more and more comfortable cantering him around bareback. It's nice to have that confidence on him.

Wednesday we did a dressage ride. It started off tense due to some tack malfunction, but then we were both able to relax and settle down to some nice work. At the right-lead canter, Hemie tried out a new behavior of rooting the bit down and forward. He kept his back soft and hind end engaged, so I was a little fearful of trying to get the bit back - I kinda convinced myself that it was a stretchy canter and therefore desirable? Since we have trouble with connecting to the left rein and stretching on it, this was basically him doing that to a very exaggerated degree. We'll see if it becomes a repeat issue in the future.

I have mixed feelings about Thursday night's dressage lesson. On the one hand, we established that the key to success with our faux spook (a resistance connecting to left rein when tracking right) is: more inside leg. More. MORE. So. Much. Leg! So that is good.

However, our lesson included a tantrum where Hemie got light up front and then ran backwards. We got it together pretty quick and were able to move forward right away, but it still bothers me that he gets so upset during dressage lessons.

Let me clarify - I'm not mad at him. I don't think I've ever felt mad at my horse (or any horse) when the issue is clearly training. Rather, I feel my frustration directed towards our trainer. I want Hemie to enjoy dressage. I want to enjoy it too. But our trainer is pushing us to this tantrum level with some regularity.

For example, she wants me to make a "solid wall" with my reins and push him into it. This always upsets him, and of course gives me tension knowing its going to upset him.  In fact, this approach is basically opposite from the Denny Emerson approach of using "negotiating aids" that I've been using during practice rides.

On the one hand, Hemie is getting over his upsets faster, and not throwing tantrums at things that used to bother him - so that shows improvement. On the other hand, I really hate seeing him so upset. Its dangerous, and its certainly not helping him enjoy his job.

This weekend our trainer was away at a show with another client. Hemie and I hacked around the property. Then we hopped around these 3 fences (cross rail, crossrail over ditch, and green roll-top), plus a skinny brown in another arena. Then he got a super bath since the weather was perfect. Overall, a fabulous relaxing weekend.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Saddleseat World's Championship Horse Show

This week is the World's Championship Horse Show held in Louisville, KY - the top show for American Saddlebreds. I attended years ago as a spectator and dreamed of showing there as a kid. It's got a wonderful energetic atmosphere - unlike any other show I've been to. Check out Karen of Contact's post about it for some great photos!!

I grew up doing saddleseat and after college I tried getting back into the saddleseat show world briefly, but due to various factors I ended up getting into eventing instead. My views on saddleseat as a discipline have evolved a lot since then.

Freedom Hall and the hallmark green shavings.
Image and more info from the ASHA Facebook Page
Here on the west coast especially, saddleseat is not a very popular riding discipline. I've had to explain the sport to other horse people just as often as I do to non horse people.

Because I grew up doing saddleseat and because I have a great love of Saddlebreds, there are times that I feel defensive about saddleseat. There's a lot of misinformation out there, and I feel the horses get a bad rap unfairly.

Myself riding Dancing in the Dark in 2009

But concurrently, some aspects of saddleseat really bother me, especially at the top levels of the sport. The prime one is hooves/shoeing.  Saddleseat horses have longer hooves (as compared to sport-horses) to help achieve high knee action.

It seems to me that hooves have gotten longer and longer in saddleseat over the last decade or so, which is a shame. It can't be comfortable or healthy for the horse's longevity. More remarkably, there is no maximum hoof length for in the Saddlebred Division of the USEF rulebook. Other breed divisions, including Morgans for example, have length maximums and you can get disqualified for showing with overgrown hooves.

Myself riding Ladybug, Ladybug in 2009

In this photo of me on Ladybug, I can guarantee you that we had the shortest hooves in the class, yet she still has high knee action. It's primarily a result of breeding and training, assisted by shoeing. My personal comfort level of hoof length has gotten shorter and shorter over time, the more I've learned about equine anatomy. Now, I certainly wouldn't let Hemie's hooves get to be that long (let alone add such a thick shoe or any leather pads), yet at this moment in time I'm not horribly offended by Ladybug's hoof length in this photo.

But let's take this blue ribbon winner from the current World's Championship Horse Show. The photo has lots of positives - the wind blowing through the two blue ribbons and long tail, the horse's expression and shiny coat, the rider's poise and smile.

From the ASHA Facebook Page
Posted 8/18/14

But to see those things I had to peel my eye away from that front left hoof! In my opinion, the hooves are way too long with an unhealthy and incorrect angle. It frustrates me that the industry is rewarding a practice that is not healthy for the horse, and change needs to happen starting at the highest levels of the sport. There should be hoof length (and possibly weight?) maximums in the rules, with ring stewards measuring and enforcing.

That all said, I do think that saddleseat has lots of positives that I am sure all those participating in and spectating at the WCHS are experiencing this week:

  • A loud crowd cheering on the riders, with whistles and shouts of "yeah boy!" to encourage the horses and riders. Most ASB show horses THRIVE on the attention and perform their best when cheered by the crowd.
  • Beautiful horses - truly I think that saddlebreds have amazing expressions, soft and intelligent eyes, and a je ne sais quoi sparkle and pizzazz about them. 
  • Racking!!  5-gaited horses are a blast to ride!
  • Fun atmosphere - saddleseat shows are usually filled with barn parties, retirement ceremonies, champagne receptions, etc. People are there to hang out and watch, just as much as to compete. People generally stay for the whole show (rather than leaving when they're done with their ride) because spectating is really fun!

Having once loved the sport so much, it is interesting to come to terms with my changing perspective as I have grown as a horsewoman. Please feel free to share your comments and questions about saddleseat!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Let's Talk Tack: Bridles

This month I'm curious about your bridles. There are so many shapes and sizes and options nowadays.  How many bridles do you own? Do you have bridles reserved for shows only?  Please vote below, and feel free to comment with details.

But first - last month I asked about your riding boot and saddle pad collections. Here are the results:

Riding Boots

The majority of voters own 2 or 3 pairs of riding boots, and do have riding boots reserved for shows only.

Saddle Pads

We have quite a range of saddle pad collection sizes, though most people have 1-2 pads reserved for shows.

Now, on to the bridles

How many bridles do you own? free polls 

Do you have bridles reserved for shows only? free polls 

I own 4 full bridles, none of them are reserved for shows only.

I own one Micklem that I currently use for everything - jumping, dressage, trails, at home and at shows.

I have two Americana traditional bridles, one brown and one black, one of which I use for longing. The other is just sitting around.

And I have one no-name bridle that just sits in my garage and I guess I should add to the tack swap blog hop.

I also have a partial bridle - I've been harvesting leather from my old saddleseat double bridle (since maroon with white polka dots isn't exactly en vogue in eventing!).

Looking forward to see what others have! Thank you so much to everyone who votes!

Monday, August 18, 2014

$900 FB Pony Tack Swap/Sale

$900 Facebook Pony Blog Hop!

What do you have for sale? Or trade? What items are you looking for? 
We need pictures and prices and the whole 9 yards! 
Think of this as an opportunity to refresh your horse stuff collection.

To be honest I'm viewing this more as an opportunity to cleanse my overcrowded horsey area of the garage, and pass things on to fellow bloggers for free or cheap, because I've been very blessed in that way and its nice to pay it forward. 

Section 1: FREE items!! That's right - $0. All you pay is shipping, and we'll figure out the most affordable shipping arrangements.

#1. Roma Millers 11" Pro-Tek foam riser pad. Used. Folded and squished in areas. Free.

#2. Blue bareback pad. Free. CLAIMED.

#3. One pair of blue shipping wraps. Velcro closures. Free.

#4. White keyhole saddle pad. Has zipper, but no inserts. 20.5" long by 13" wide. Free.

#5. White fitted pad. Royal Riders brand. 19" long by 36" wide. Free.

#6. Tan splint boots. Say size Medium but they fit as Small. Bart Products brand. Very used; has some holes. Free.

#7. Black jumping bat. 18" long. Wonder Whip brand. In good shape. Free.

#8. Pink Epona brand "shed flower" grooming curry. Free.

#9. Aqua blue nylon halter, horse size. Free.

#10. Light blue nylon halter, horse size. Free.

#11. White cotton foal-sized/mini lead rope. 52" long. Free.

Section 2: Well priced items!

#12. Stubben stainless steal stirrup irons with black Stubben rubbers. 4.25" inside measure. $10.

#13. Light pink Davis bell boots, size small. Double velcro closure. $5.

#14. Bates/Wintec Easy Change Gullet. Size Wide. $5.

#15. Nunn Finer Ultra No Slip Pad. 18" long. $15. CLAIMED

#16. Navy blue polo wraps. New in bag. Professionals Choice Wrangler Twenty X, 5" wide by 9' long. $10.

#17. Kimberwick bit, 5".  $5.

#18. Herrmann stainless steel single jointed eggbutt snaffle, 4.5".  $5.

#19. Bridoon snaffle bit, loose ring, single jointed, twisted, copper/mixed metal, 5.25".  $5.

#20. Weymouth curb bit, 4.5".  $5.

#21. Weymouth curb bit. Says "Made in England. Never Rust," 4.5".  $5.

#22. Rare design loose ring full cheek single jointed snaffle. Says "Made in England. Never Rust," 5".  $10. CLAIMED.

#23. Saddelseat show and schooling attire, women's size 12. Navy blue jodhpurs, derby, vest, and daycoats. Details, photos, and measurements available if anyone is interested. 

So there you have it.  I am open to trades - just let me know what you have. Generally speaking I am in the market for happy mouth and mullen mouth bits, figure 8 cavesson, and Back on Track saddle pads. 

Also, I sell *new* medical armbands. Perfect for eventing jumping phases, pony clubbers, and anyone who wants to be safe (especially trail and endurance riders). They are $5 each with free shipping, and I include the USEA medical card printed on colored paper (or white if you prefer) if you're an eventer. Click here for more info

Thanks again to Amanda for hosting this blog hop! Here's the other participants: