Wednesday, October 28, 2015


I still have absolutely no clue what I was doing, demonstrating or talking about in this photo.  I'm not even completely sure who took the photo, friends of A. who was riding the horse behind Fox in this photo. Maybe I was pointing out the George Morris para-troopers who were coming down to do an equestrian fashionista critique, who knows! Regardless I had the best time at the Dom Schramm clinic last weekend.

Superhubs,  who I wrangled in to being the photographer/videographer for the weekend (videos to follow when I have time to get it uploaded)and I went over to the clinic about mid-morning since my session wasn't until 3pm. We settled the pony in his stall(I know, I know an extravagant luxury to get a day stall but I didn't want Fox standing tied all day if I could help it.) then we mainly watched the other riders.

Soon enough it was time to get changed from my jeans and t-shirt in to my riding clothes.  Usually I don't stress about dressing for a competition, a lesson or a clinic. But for some reason, the weather wasn't helping with it's flip flopping, I couldn't decide what to wear. So when in doubt throw it all in the bag. I had no less than two pairs of breeches, three shirts, two pairs of socks and just in case extra underwear. However I did forget the belt that goes with my breeches and had to make the belt on my jeans, which didn't fit tightly enough on my mid-waist breeches, since my jeans hung significantly lower.

Fox's wardrobe was also a victim of my over packing. I packed two bridles, two saddle pads, both my half chaps and long boots and various other things including the Super Pony's favorite cookies. I swear he is a cookie FREAK! Just see the previous post about the ring around the mounting block because of the cookie I had in my pocket!

So when I went to change I was conflicted about which of the two shirts I'd narrowed it down to two choices since the weather had warmed a bit. It was going to be either my white Tredstep Airsilk shirt or the Romfh competition shirt.  Both were meant for warm weather, fairly form fitting. But the Tredstep was a little, I'm not even sure how to put it other than it fit snugly enough that bits of my chest that aren't meant to be obvious, were obvious and I am NOT well endowed.  But the Romfh shirt had this disco-esk collar when it's not all wrapped up like a choker.

So flaunting what little assets I had or looking like a 70's reject?  I decided that I was being an idiot and just threw on the Romfh, thinking, JUST OWN IT!

So with the wardrobe issues figured out I proceeded on to more significant worries. Would my usually well behaved away from home pony behave in front of the big time professional?

He did, sort of.  We were practicing one of our three new tools, lengthenings and shortenings within the trot when I believe Fox thought I was asking him to canter at which point he leaped in to it a little too enthusiastically.  Again I thought OWN IT!  I made him keep cantering then politely circled him at the end of the arena and brought him back down to a trot.  Naughty pony! The other two tools that are now in our tool box is the Ideal and Effect Pressure tool.  Which I knew about but just hadn't really been practicing like I should have.  As in when he ignores your leg, use a sharper leg, a spur, or light whip tap behind my leg to get him thinking more about being quick off my aids.

The last tool, which I'm really excited about is something that will help Fox come over and through his back, lower his neck and generally teach him to go in a soft, correct frame.  It's a combination of slight inside flexion, while pressing down with the outside rein.  It sound strange but it WORKS!

So thank you Dom Schramm for filling up my winter tool box!!

Dom was demonstrating a tool here but I can't recall which one. Until the next adventure, keep it between the flags everyone!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Performance Anxiety

It's been about three weeks since I've swung a leg over the red pony's back and months since I've ridden him on my own property.  Now why, when my pony is right outside my back door, would I not ride him at home?  Because he's been a freaking naughty brat every time I've ridden him at home for months.

He's also stealth naughty.  The High Queen would always send me a pre-naughtiness memo before actual naughty behavior ensued.  Her neck would stretch up, ears darting forward, llama impressions began and THEN she would grab the bit and try to run off with me.

Fox is a whole different box of bad pony.  He just does random naughty things, a buck here, shying there, grabbing the bit and running off.  At least previously he has.  Off the property (with one notable exception being the farm just down the road) Fox is 98% angel and 2% demon pony.  On the farm the percentages are totally reversed.

Or they were.  Yesterday I managed to get home with plenty of time to spare. I ran in to the house, flinging work stuff and throwing off work clothes as fast as possible so I could get tacked up and ride before I lost the daylight.

I had a trunkful of anxiety when I finally swung in to the saddle.  Which was made harder by the fact that I had two horse cookies in my breeches pocket. And Fox knew it. So he kept trying twist in circles to nudge my pockets as I kept spinning around the mounting block trying to get in the saddle.  Damn you HORSE COOKIES!

But I was finally able to swing up. My intention was to keep it low key, walking only, I know I'm a chicken, but I really needed a good ride more than I needed a productive one.  But Fox was perfect.  He never felt, even for an instant that he had any naughty thoughts going on.  I jabbered like a lemur the whole time trying to distract myself from the possibility of Fox managing to ditch me out of the saddle.  It didn't happen.  We even did several dressage-y trot circles.  Earlier I had set-up some baby cross rails in some far flung hope of hopping over them but I felt like that would be pushing my luck way to far.

I got what I wanted a nice, easy ride on a happy pony which made me one happy, happy girl!

Keep it between the flags everyone!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Down the Trail We Go

Last weekend was only the third or fourth big organized trail ride I've taken Fox on. Originally I was going to haul out the 2.5hrs by myself and ride out with a friend who also has a super slow horse.  At the last minute Superhub's schedule changed and I was just able to get his registration in . 
Wicked early on Saturday I did the last minute things needed to get on the road, loaded the boys and off we went to the Amelia Springs Trail Ride, which I'd been trying to get to for a few years. I popped an audio book into the iPod, we gave the GPS fairy the address and we were away!

The trip out was fairly uneventful, though because I wasn't paying attention (I was trying to pay those horse extras fees and clinic fees by messaging Rodan and Fields clients about their current orders and talking to some other prospective clients about the capabilities of R+F), so we missed an exit and had to make a little detour.  Superhubs was not amused by that one.

But we still arrived with plenty of time to get the horses settled, tacked and hit the trail. This was one of the longer trail rides I have been on, 16 miles, and that's because Superhubs and I took a short-cut after the lunch break. The scenery was great though, rolling, forested hills, challenging downgrades, water crossings (always exciting since Fox will Rolex Leap over all but the largest ones) and some hills that made my pony work his flabby butt.

It wasn't all sunlight and rainbows though.  About half-way down the 16 miles of trail our little herd came across several riders stopped on the trail.  Another rider's horse had spooked and thrown her and she was very obviously injured.  It had happened no less than a minute before we arrived.  Superhubs (who has prior to his stint at Lowes) been an EMT and a Paramedic threw me Cowboy's reins and went to see what help he could offer while the rest of us scrambled to get a cellphone signal and get help.

The woman ended up breaking her wrist and a portion of her hip bone.  Help came fairly quickly considering we were in the middle of nowhere and she was swiftly stabilized and taken off to the hospital.  Her horse(who had stayed right there the whole time) was walked to a site where a trailer could pick him up and taken back to camp.  Superhubs and I continued our trail ride just the two of us our friend having stayed with the now riderless horse.

It was a long, long ride back that didn't seem to end. At one point Cowboy, usually the leader, had had enough of being in front and Fox promptly and I think motivated by getting home quicker, took the lead and brought us the rest of the way in up and down some truly steep and scary hills.

The photo above is of Fox just after his bath, contentedly munching hay and posing in the fading sun just before Superhubs and I went to eat dinner with the other trail riders.  A dinner I might add that served Moonshine and Margaritas!  Definitely a plus in my book.

Later we loaded up, at which point I lost my house/trailer/gate key and I still can't find them, and drove the long way home.  We arrived somewhere around midnight to Seneca's happy cries to have her two minions back.  The best part of the day? When I went to feed, after the boys had settled in from the trailer ride,  what I assumed would be one tired pony Fox strut trotted up to his feed pan. Seriously?  An almost 3 hour ride to get to Amelia, 16 miles of up and down trails, walking and trotting the whole way, 3 hours back and you STILL have energy to trot up to the feed bucket? Love my horse!

Keep it between the flags everyone!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Let the Fall Season Begin!

I've finally returned from my Navy command's yearly exodus to Florida. Which means it's time to get the fat red pony who has been lolling around the pasture for the last couple of months back in to shape and to work on that canter issue that we've been having.

So a long weekend for me having begun on Friday I loaded up the red beast and trailered over to a local place that has a big arena with footing.  It was lovely, all alone, just me and the red pony in a big empty arena.  There was cantering people! Cantering! In both directions on both leads!  Fox is still weak on the right but he picked up both leads when I asked without too much fuss.

This morning than anything else gave me hope and optimism for the future. We might actually be able to canter fences at some point before the year ends!

Now you might be wondering about the logo up top.  Recently I became a Rodan and Fields Independant Consultant.  Initially I joined to make some extra money so that I can take more lessons, go to more horse trials and outfit all my equines in a style to which I'd like them to become accustomed, think full sets of Rambo blankets.  I sorta got hooked on the free samples that my friend, who is also an Independant Consultant, gave me.  I loved how smooth and soft my skin felt after using the mini facial that K. gave me. So then I started in the business and got my own full size products and I'm loving it! I especially love the Soothe product.  A friend got a bad sun burn after forgetting her sunscreen on her way to a horse trial.  Within in 12 hours the burn looked like a tan!
If your interested in learning about all of Rodan and Field's great products and how they can help you get the best skin of your life comment on this blog post I'd love to talk to you.

What's up next for Eventing at Midnight? Originally I was going to haul Fox down to North Carolina to compete in the starter trial in October.  But I found out that both Dom AND Jimmie Schramm are coming to do a clinic about an hour from my house.  I CANNOT pass up getting two lessons with professionals that I respect and being able to commute from my house both days.

So along with perfecting our canter departs, doing strength and fitness work, we will be preparing for a clinic with the Scramms!

Keep it between the flags everyone!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Finding Balance

Here I am again checking in, shocked to find months have passed since my last post. This summer has just been one stressful situation after another, piling up so that I can barely breath past it all. Playing with my pony has been one of my few havens in this storm of adversity.  And he's been on again, off again lame for a few months now. 

So I haven't really been riding. I think I've ridden Fox twice in the last three months and Cowboy once.  Yes you read that right I pulled on my big girl panties and rode the Spotted Crack Beast but I'll talk about that later.

Somewhere in my crazy brain I decided that Fox's feet, after being bare for over a year needed shoes. After three months of more lameness than soundness and the absolute fiasco of the last visit from the farrier where we tried to get shoes on Fox, I have decided to let that fantasy go. 

Would his feet benefit from the 24/7 protection of shoes? Sure.  Are his feet willing to cooperate? Not in this lifetime. He's had two sets, each time his been a little harder to control when the farrier was nailing them on. This last go round Fox was so adamant about not getting shoes put on that the farrier and I both decided it wasn't going to happen that day.  Then I took a long, hard look at the history of Fox's feet and came to the conclusion that the shoes weren't worth the money or the mental and physical stress on my horse.

So I had the Farrier Fairy K. come out last evening, she was awesome enough to do a fly by after her last appointment which was around the corner. She gave his feet a bit of a tune up trim to keep him on track, addressed a nasty crack he's got coming on in Fox's rear left foot and we got down to brass tacks about the hoof plan for the future.  Basically, back in to the boots for everything but pasture turn out. I'm going to look in to some pasture turn out therapy boots but he's okay for now.

That was the balancing of my goals and Fox's hoof issues.  The other balancing act was my pony's growing attitude issue. From my friend A's description of his behavior while I was gone he was a raging donkey.  She says he charged her twice and stole the grain bucket.  I don't know how much belief I want to give that but I did make some changes to Fox's diet just to be on the safe side.  The last thing I want to do is piss off the people who agree to feed my ponies when I have to go out of town.

I cut Fox's grain in half and filled in the gap with timothy hay pellets.  I expanded his hay ration for when the good pastures are recovering and also added timothy/alfalfa cubes as well as some gut balancing powder that friends of my with horses who have ulcers give to their horses to help soothe their stomachs.  I don't really believe that Fox has ulcers but it can't hurt.

What's on the horizon for Eventing at Midnight?  Well for the next month nothing.  Work is dragging me out of town for three weeks.  When I get back I'm hoping the weather will be a bit cooler and I can really start trying to get ready for the one event I want to do this fall.  It's a starter trial at the Carolina Horse Park in October.  They let you school the XC the day before the trial and it happens to fall on the one four day weekend I have in October.  Perfect timing all the way around. That's the plan anyway.  I'm also hoping to do some XC schooling and really nail our cantering issue.

Here's hoping, keep it between the flags everyone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fox wants to be an Eventer and Apparently I want to be Bruce Davidson

This past weekend Fox had his very first true XC school/lesson with our coach K. And I had my first lesson in truly being a horse taxi. 

For many years I had been a trailerless horse owner. I had to beg and borrow from kind friends or local shipping companies to get my pony to where I wanted go.  When Superhubs and I finally got our own farm I was still trailerless for about a year, although there is a local tack shop that rents trailer and I did have a truck so I wasn't completely immobile.  But it was still a hassel and expensive to trek all the way over to the tack shop pick up the trailer and trek all the way back, then do it again when I had to turn the trailer in. 

There was also the small issue of Seneca's well known trailering issue. Which I couldn't work on if I didn't have a trailer. So Superhubs and I finally bought our own trailer. It wasn't anything special but it was affordable.  About a year later I was able to upgrade to the lovely 3 horse Exiss slant that I currently tote my horses around in. Which as you might imagine has made me quite popular among my trailerless friends.

So when K. started getting the schooling day together and a friend at a local farm who was sans trailer really wanted to go I happily offered to divert my path to pick up her lovely draft cross Birdie. About midway through the week prior to our XC day my coach texted me to ask if I'd be willing to stop and pick up one of her other students at another local stable.  Having been on the trailerless end of horse owning I know exactly what its like trying desperately to find a ride so you can school/train/compete/have fun.  So I try to help when I can.  I made a second correction to my planned route and coordinated everybody. 

I picked everyone up without mishap with only a small issue loading R.'s mare in to the trailer. Soon enough off we went to a local farm that recently upgraded all their XC fences. I can't tell you how awesome it is to have a cross country course within an hour of my house!

Fox was mostly brillant.  He had a few squirrely moments where naughty thoughts of spooking and shying entered his brain.  There were a couple of seconds when he heard then caught sight of the farm's geese. I refocused his attention on the super scary rolltop and he stopped thinking about spooking. 

My little red pony was pretty honest to everything until I started getting in his way.  There were three fences on course where I lost my grip on my big girl panties. The rolltop was the first it just seemed so massive so we had a stop.  The second was a confection of brush and railroad ties, again it looked really wide so we had two stops.  But Fox went right over the scary brush fence where nearly everyone else had run outs or stops.

I had no problem with the BN/N size ditch but Fox did try to step down in to it rather than over it the first time.  But eventually he got the idea and trotted over like a champ.  The real bear on course was the bank.  Fox didn't exactly understand the up question.  So he had to think about it a long while.  When he did get it I got in his way because I didn't release enough or create enough impulsion going in to get the job done.  The down bank was where I was suddenly (and I have no memory of doing it) morphing in to Bruce Davidson.  

Fox did manage to whack himself on the last run up the bank.  He got a cut on the one spot on his back right hind not protected by a boot,  on the front of his fetlock.  I found it while hosing him off afterwards and before loading in the trailer.  Fox blew it off as a minor scrape, I doctored him with an antibiotic cream and other than being really tired when he got home he's been fine.

Lesson's learned?  Get out of my own way, let my horse go forward and he will take care of me.  One of these days I'm going to learn to do that.  We did canter quite a bit, not over any fences, those type of big girl panties are still out of reach for me but we're going in that direction.

Until we get there keep it between the flags!

The Old and the New

Spring has finally arrived! I feel like it's safe to put my winter clothes away and dig out the summer duds. More often than not I can do the evening feeds in shorts and a t-shirt! We've even had to turn the air conditioning on a few times.  Thank you Mother Nature! Every year I grow more and more to hate the winter and the cold.  If I had easier access to a climate controlled indoor I'd probably hate it less but that's not going to happen any time soon. 

So what's been happening at Eventing at Midnight?  Let's see, Superhubs and I finally found an economical sun shelter for the side pastures. Seneca aka Spookzilla is still skeptical of it but the boys ate breakfast under it since it was pouring rain from Tropical Depression Ana.  Fox racked up an ungodly amount of money for hoof care due to new shoes and what I believe might have been a bruise.  I'm hoping that's what it is and he's healing from it since we are supposed to go XC schooling this weekend.  If Fox isn't sound for it my only options are going but not riding and taking Cowboy.  Neither option fills me with a whole lot of joy.  But as of last night Fox was acting his normal self and when he spooked at the new shelter and trotted off he looked sound but only the lunge line will tell for sure.

Fox is almost completely shed out of his winter coat in to a golden-ish chestnut with black, white and darker chestnut spots.  I swear he's trying to become an Appaloosa and I am pretty sure he didn't have as many spots last year. The other two horses are lagging in the shedding department but another couple weeks and they will be just as sleek as Fox.

Vet was out for the semi-annual visit and everyone got a clean bill of health and shiny new coggins for the year.  I managed to watch most of Rolex via the internet and cheered for Sparrow's Nio as he completed his first 4 Star.  That pony is super cute. 

And the ducks have grown by leaps and bounds.  They are huge at this point and their adult feathers are starting to come in.  I also decided on a new goal but its a long term one since I don't know when we'll be able to fulfill the requirements for qualifying. After reading all the blog posts over on Flying Solo Eventing about the long format 3DE for lower levels and watching the online videos at So8ths YouTube channel I really want to try and do that.  Even if I only do it once and we complete it dead last I still want to experience that.  But you have to have completed four BN recognized horse trials with one being in the six months prior to the event that happens generally at the end of April.  That is the sticking point, well that and getting then keeping Fox fit enough complete a long format.  So I think we might be able to compete at the Heart of the Carolinas 3DE in 2017, two years from now.  That's if there aren't any drastic changes in my life or my job. I'll be choosing new orders in October and I have no idea where I might have to go. The job listings haven't been all that great lately but I'm hopeful that I can spend another four years at my current farm.  Here's hoping for the best. Keep it between the flags everyone! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

No I Didn't Fall Off the Edge of the Planet

Okay maybe I fell off the edge of the earth for a little while but I finally found my way back. And it's finally, officially, weatherly SPRING! There are flowers and warm days, green grass and enough hair shedding off my horse to make a winter coat for a bald Shetland pony!  Yeah there is some rain in there and mud but I'm so happy to finally be rid of winter that I just don't care.

So what's been going on at the farm since my last post in February? Tons! Firstly I wasn't able to go volunteer at the Carolina International this year.  I was set to go and then Superhubs got diagnosed with a pretty big hernia which scrapped my plans of leaving him to take care of the farm and our menagerie of animals.  It was during this time of forced inactivity that Superhubs decided that what the farm really needed was ducks. Excuse me? Now I had talked about wanting ducks and a pair of swans, I have a desperate need for a pair of swans. But I meant for the next farm that we will have when I retire from the Navy in four or so years and we decamp the farm permanently to North Carolina. So when he brought getting some ducks to raise in to the conversation I was a little thrown.  But I realized that Superhubs needed a project to focus on so that his impending surgery didn't take up all his mental space.

I did a ton of research, looked around at various places and finally decided to purchase six Blue Swedish ducklings from a reputable farm.  They were delivered via the US Postal System (who knew you could get ducks in the mail?!) about a week after the ducklings hatched and are currently living in a repurposed water trough in our garage.

They are adorable, fun and like horses messy. But they will lay eggs we can eat and they in turn will help keep the mosquito and fly population in check. Which are all good things. Just before the ducklings were delivered Superhubs had his surgery and everything looks good for a full recovery.
During Superhubs recovery and learning the ins and outs of duck care I used the greenhouse Superhubs bought me to plant lots of vegetables for this year, tend the yard, get farrier visits done for all the horses which is now even more complicated because Fox has a separate farrier to tend to his special needs.

Yeah I have a special needs pony.  The Farrier Fairy K. was reluctant to do the first set of shoes Fox would have since I had his front shoes pulled a year and a half ago. It wasn't FFK isn't a fantastic farrier, she is but Fox has really thin hoof wall and she recommended an excellent guy who take great care of my precious pony. Who now has shoes all the way around! Not that I didn't like his Easy Boots but I love not having to put them on every time I want to ride.

Riding wise I've been kind of hit or miss.  I was able to take Fox on a trail ride at the farm just down the road for which Fox was good and bad.  He was great walking down there and even passed the 3 three super scary mini horses (Seneca would have left for home at the point, she doesn't do ponies) and hung out happily while I waited for A. to tack up Charm.  Oh did I forget to mention that Charm moved just down the road from me in March and is now a happy pony at his new residence?  But for the actual trail ride Fox was less than stellar.  I don't know why but he just became a complete hairy pig on the trail.  He didn't want to walk in the back, he jigged, he spooked, even hopped up on his back feet once.  BAD PONY!

But as soon as we got back to my friend's farm yard he was completely content to hang and look around.  He was especially in love with the chestnut miniature horse. I was wary of letting him approach their pasture due to Seneca's previous tantrums but he really enjoyed them and spent several minutes watching them and touching noses with the chestnut.

Last weekend was truly the beginning of spring for me.  We weren't ready to compete at the local horse trial so I decided to lend my skills as a jump judge and spent an awesome day jump judging on XC at the ditch complex.  I got to watch lots of do's and don't's for ditches and lots of nice horses and ponies flashing by in the Novice, BN and Intro sections.  I later went home mowed the pastures and road my own pony who was pretty perfect.

That Sunday I spent a good portion of the day shopping at the local tack store with my friend A. who is transitioning from Hunter Princess to Eventer Chick. So we spent a happy afternoon cruising the tack shop and trying on protective vests.

What's up next? I've a lesson scheduled in a couple of weeks with my coach K. and then there is a XC schooling day in our future at the farm that does the local HT.  They completely revamped their entire XC course with new and improved jumps everywhere.  This will be A's first time schooling XC and Fox's first real schooling so it should be fun. 

After that who knows.  My work schedule is going to get crazy but I'm hoping to get to a horse trial of some flavor some time this summer/fall.  But that's if Fox can give me a publically acceptable canter which he hasn't done yet.  So we'll see.  Until then keep it between the flags everyone!


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Birthday Wishes and Traveling with a Hunter Princess

It is an unwritten rule at my house that we never, ever celebrate my birthday on the actual day. We just don't. Inevitably my actual birthday will be an awful compilation of work stress, a crappy boss and some mix of karma and the evil powers that be. It ends up being the worst day of the year. So a long time ago I just refused to acknowledge the day and we celebrate my birthday on the weekend before or the weekend after.

This year was no exception. Mother Nature decided to give us a break last weekend and came up with two very nice days with warm, DRY! weather. Saturday was mostly spent getting all my horses feet trimmed by K. the Farrier Fairy.  We discussed the necessity of shoes for Fox this year and basically gossiped for an hour and a half. Then my friend A. came out and we played with our ponies a bit. But really we were both just amping up for Sunday.  When myself, A. and one of my other friends K. found out it would be 65 degrees on Sunday a call to ride together was made. This was my birthday wish to ride my horse with my friends.

So Sunday rolled up and right after I fed the horses I started prepping to get everything ready to go. I had packed my tack the day before so that was done, as well as stuffing two hay bags for Fox and Charm. So really I just needed to double check things and start scraping the mud off Fox for while he's blanketed 24/7 he still manages to pile ten pounds of mud on to himself from the knees down.  It was super warm so I left his blanket off and only made sure he was clean and swapped his regular field halter for his fancy leather one with this name engraved on it.

A. arrives and we start getting Charm ready to go. This is where the differences between me (Eventer Chick) and A. (Hunter Princess/George Morris worshipper) really come in to play.  I threw my pony on the trailer after he was clean and his hooves were picked out. A. groomed Charm, oiled his hooves, wrapped his legs with a complicated polo pony style wrap, then threw on his matching cooler. Then we loaded him in the trailer. I only go all out with full "Here to Impress" gear when we're hauling to a show, even then if its a local show I really don't do much beyond make sure my pony is super clean and his tack is good to go. So A.'s full out Princess Up threw me for a little loop.

We did have a fabulous time over at the barn where my friend K. boards her draft cross mare Birdie.  A lovely arena with real footing. No mud or slick spots to worry about. There were even jumps to jump! After going though our warm up routine that infuses lots of bending I rolled in to our new fitness regime that requires ten walk to trot to walk transitions in each direction.  Then it was time for a little jumping. Just baby fences at barely a foot.  But Fox put in good efforts, never refused, though he paused a few times to look at things.  He even cantered off after a couple of the fences which made me happy.  And I worked on not looking at the fences but rather just waiting and feeling my pony getting ready to jump.

I did discover something about Fox that really hadn't ever come up before.  He absolutely does not like horses coming towards him head on. A. and I were cooling our two boys off, walking together and every time a horse came at us from the opposite direction Fox tried to glue himself to Charm. Good to know for the future.

So what's up for us next? Well not a whole lot. The weather is still ugly and work hasn't gotten any happier or easier so we will work when we can on strengthening Fox's butt. There is a bit of happy news though. Last year I was a spectator at the Carolina International CIC.  This year I will be a VOLUNTEER! Woo Hoo!  Four days of nothing but eventing, eventing, eventing! Bring it on and keep it between the flags everyone!

It's the Knowing and the Learning

This is the time of year that I truly hate the most. It's grey, wet, muddy, cold and dark. The inevitable happens.  I don't get off work at a decent hour so I can't get home with enough daylight to ride during the week so I make hopeful plans for the weekend. Which is when Mother Nature laughs at me and rains buckets.  I can deal with riding in the cold but I won't risk my horse's life or my own riding on slick, muddy ground.

So what's a horse crazy girl to do? Find the nearest indoor. And boy did I find one.  It's not super close, about an hour from me. But I had a week's vacation coming and I was able to take Fox over twice during that week. I wanted to get a handle on this cantering issue that Fox and I were having. The last time I asked him to canter was way back in October when K. was giving me a lesson before Kelly's Ford.  It did not go well that day.

But Superhubs and Cowboy were coming with us as babysitters (as I had no idea how Fox would react to being alone in the indoor) so I figured if I got hurt at least he would be there to dial 911. As you, my dear readers, might know from previous posts Kelly's Ford was an absolute disaster.  Fox had major sensory overload and completely melted down. So taking him new places I'm now a little more careful.

We arrived at this crazy expensive barn, all their run-in sheds were brick! Each of the shed row style stalls had its own attached paddock and tack room.  But the indoor made me want to move in permanently. It was climate controlled, as in it stays a cozy 56 degrees no matter what the temp outside is. BLISS! It just goes to show you what the right insulation can do for you.

After tacking up Superhubs and I headed in to the arena where Fox was huffing and a little anxious. Understandable since I hadn't taken him anywhere in months.  I led him around for a few laps until his head lowered and he wasn't sounding like he was about to hyperventilate. He finally stood still for me mount up and we were off.  We practiced our dressage spirals of death, some walk trot transitions and then it was time to canter. I admit it I was nervous. I did not want to get bucked off.  But I shouldn't have worried.  I couldn't even get Fox to canter.  He'd trot like a harness racer but I could not get an upward transition. I even tried poles on the ground and giving him a good whack on the butt with my jumping bat.  Nope. No canter.  I finally got off and lunged him where I was able to get him cantering both ways.

But this made me curious.  Did he have a physical issue that was causing him pain or was I just being too soft? Later that week I took Fox back to the indoor but had K. meet us and climb aboard the Wonder Pony for the first time.  K. is skilled AND brave. Which was just what I felt Fox and I both needed.  This is where the knowing comes in.  K. gave Fox a good work out and while she had a bit easier time getting Fox in to a canter it was still a bit of battle to do it. She told me what I really needed to know.  Fox has a weak hind end, particularly on the right side which makes it hard for him to maintain a canter.  She gave me some homework to do with him and that is what we'll be working on when we can. Freaking ugly weather!

And the learning? Fox was nervous when we first went to the indoor.  New, strange place. So I walked him so he could look at things and do something normal and routine.  This is why Kelly's Ford went so badly for us.  I failed Fox. I failed because I didn't take him down early that morning and walk him around so he could see everything and know that it was okay.  Instead I tacked him up then flung him in to the crazy warm-up area, which was right next to the XC warm-up area and the show jumping arena.  I never gave him a chance to really look around when it was less chaotic and stressful so I got the Pony from Hell when it was time to warm-up.  This is not a mistake I ever want to repeat.  Not only was it an expensive mistake but it was stressful all the way round and just made Fox and I unhappy on all fronts.

So lesson learned, better management at over-night shows is definitely needed.

Something else that I learned?  You can totally pimp your horse's blanket with zip ties! Fox's medium weight blanket is a 3600 denier Centaur.  Which has a place to buckle on a sold separately neck cover.  I got the blanket for a steal on Tack of the Day, but the matching neck cover was way to expensive to buy outright.  So I borrowed the Amigo Bravo L/M neck cover from his other blanket.  But the buckle system was different on both so they couldn't be attached directly.  Just apply some zip ties and voila! Cozy clothing for your horse without spending extra money on a second neck cover!

Keep it between the flags everyone!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Prince Charming Comes to Midnight Hill and the Blanket Rant

                                                           (Commanding Charm)
I cannot believe I haven't posted anything since the end of October! Bad blogger, bad! Unfortunately there just hasn't been anything really news worthy until just this past week.  I've probably been able to swing a leg over Fox a total of three times in the last two months.  The same old story, weather, work, energy, DAYLIGHT!  I freaking hate this time of year because I can never get home with enough daylight left to actually ride my horse.  But enough of that rant when there are sooo many others to expound on.

But before I go off on a tangent about blankets here's what's happening at the farm.  We have a new resident! Charm, aka Commanding Charm is an OTTB gelding that belongs to a friend of mine.  I met A. through COTH (thank you COTH!) about two years ago.  I had been cruising the boards and seen a post about an injury to a rider. I began to read but the event was so horrific I didn't get past the details.  A few weeks after reading the post I went to a dressage clinic around the corner from my house where my then friend, now coach K. was riding her young horse.  There were a few other people there and one happened to be this nice girl with an obviously injured hand.  We started talking and I suddenly realized THIS was the poster from COTH!  We've been fast friends ever since, sharing details about our various horse related injures, woes, work lives, and rants about significant others.

A. has had a rough couple of years.  She's a registered nurse but with her hand injury she wasn't able to do patient care and had to look for other work. Which she did but the stress of rehabbing her injury, the medical bills and mounting horse related bills became a lot to handle. She was on the verge of losing Charm.  A. created a temporary plan to relieve some of the financial stress that would allow her to keep Charm but it was not an ideal situation and eventually barn drama and other things forced A. to start looking for a way to move Charm until he could go back to his original boarding situation now that A.'s job issues have cleared up.  I wasn't able to take Charm in the beginning just too many other things going on but I offered up my farm as a temporary solution for the gelding before he moved literally walking distance down the road from me to his original boarding barn which A. and Charm both loved.

Superhubs and I arrived at the farm to pick up Charm where he literally leaped on to the trailer in his effort to make his desire to leave a stressful situation known. He traveled well and arrived at my farm around midday on Saturday where he easily settled in to the main pasture.  I had moved Seneca and Cowboy to the side pasture and left Fox in the back pasture because Fox would the next day become Charm's new pasture buddy.

Although Fox seemed less than enthusiastic about that.  He sniffed Charm over the gate once then went back to hanging out on the fence line that he shared with Seneca because he loooooves her the mostest.  The next day A. and I put Fox and Charm together.  They sniffed, they decided who was in charge (Fox) and then ran up and down the fence for a few minutes gorgeous tails flung to the wind before settling down to eat on the round bale.  There has been thankfully very little drama and everything looks like it will go well until Charm moves down the road in the beginning of February when his stall opens up.

The blanket rant.  I am very picky about my blankets, I'm picky because my horses are those rare combination of pasture terrorists and rollers that seem to destroy their blankets on a weekly basis.  Which has me stopping in regularly at the local blanket repair shop and cruising for bargains and deals on suitable blankets.  Which is difficult because again I'm pretty picky and my horses are pretty spectacular at destroying their expensive clothes.

Two years ago Rambo's Amigo line started making a fabulous blanket that I have every intention of having one for each of my equines.  It is the Amigo Bravo 12 Lite/Med weight blanket.  Basically it's a 1200 denier, 100 gram weight blanket that is hard wearing and so far only Fox has managed to damage his.  Somehow he wriggled his around enough that when he threw an outrageously massive buck upon being turned out he managed to tear off both chest straps, one of the belly straps and mangled one of the metal buckles beyond repair.  Thankfully my super blanket repair shop was able to replace all the mangled buckle and the straps. 

But while Fox's Lite/Med was being repaired I need to do the blanket-go-round to make sure everyone had something to wear when the inevitable nasty weather hit.  Which meant Seneca's own Amigo Bravo L/M went to Fox, she got put in her medium on the really bad days but Cowboy was unfortunately out of clothes that fit him.  Off to the tack store I went to get some sort of sheet that I could toss over Seneca's old Amigo stable blanket which would make a great temporary fix for him.

They didn't have any of the Amigo L/M's and I didn't have to extra cash to shell out for a real Rambo and I really dislike the buckle system on the Weatherbeeta's.  See, very picky.  So I shifted through the selections.  Anything less than a 1000 denier is an automatic no.  I'm not spending good money on something that is just going to get wrecked in less than a week. I wanted something that hopefully had a neck cover.  Which is when I happened upon a brand I wasn't personally familiar with but had good qualities on paper.  It was  a Shires Equestrian Storm Breaker 1200 denier, waterproof, windproof and had an integrated but not removable neck cover.  The buckle system was eh, it had straps, and clips on the chest, t-buckles on the belly.  But I was a little desperate as we were due for some really bad weather. This is what Cowboy ended up wearing.

It's pretty freaking nice and so far Cowboy hasn't managed to tear it or damage it in any way other than a healthy dose of mud. It does run a bit big.  All the Amigos I can do a round robin with and they fit Seneca (75-78ish) Cowboy (75) and Fox (72) but I don't see Fox wearing this one ever. Which means at some point closer to spring and HOPEFULLY! warmer weather I'll have to find Fox his own sheet.  He's sporting a trace clip right now but I'm toying with the idea of trying my first body clip in the spring.