Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Grey Ghost goes XC

The other weekend I took a green grey mare out cross country schooling. Only had plans to do little baby things and play in the water but that soon changed!!! After an exciting "walk" around the field (where we had many lovely airs above the ground!!! Levade anyone?) we headed towards the baby jumps. There was a nice inviting water that we started playing around in to get started and as soon as Marley (the horse I was riding) realizes we were there to work she settled down and had the softest trot. She was still very forward in the canter but at least we were going in a straight, forward line instead of up and sideways!!!! When it came time to start jumping the logs she didn't bat an eye, even over the scary black pipe she kept her cool and made it seem effortless. As the schooling went on we played around with banks, ditches, and water- for Marley it was all easy and the only thing she cared about was going forward!!! We has to work on control and still have a lot of steering issues to work on, but besides all that, Marley is a cross country machine!!! She was jumping baby coffins, jumping out of the water, actually dropping down banks instead of launching into space- overall one of the best horses I have ever ridden around a cross country course!!!! This little mare has future superstar written all over her!!!! Keep an ear our for the grey ghost (her nick name) because you might very well hear "Cool Marlene" over the speaker at an event and it will only be good things being announced!!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy Surprise

On August 26th I finally got around to breaking my almost 10 year dry spell of not competing in a horse trials (Last HT I competed in was Nov of 2002!) I took Gus to Tryon Riding & Hunt Club's schooling horse trials at Windridge. Even though the recognized horse trials drought still continues, I was so excited to FINALLY get out and participate in something!!! I wasn't even sure if we were ready because we hadn't been cross country schooling, had only had a few jumping lessons recently, hadn't looked at my Dressage saddle since March, and I hadn't been riding him as consistently as I would of liked. But despite all of these thoughts running through my head I decided to enter anyways because I was tired of  having so many excuses and there comes a point where you just do it, and so we did! And what a successful day it was! Gus was a super star (like always!) and he rocked out a 29.1 in Beginner Novice test B, jumped clear stadium and clear xc! 

The super cute pony face that is Gus

 It was one of those days that everything went awry yet somehow came together for a great result. It started out with me running late to the barn, continued with time management nervousness (I think I have it under control and then I realized I don't!) Panic at losing Gus's shadow roll (which I washed the night before and could of sworn I packed it!), sending friend Rachel to look for something that would work while I warmed up for stadium that started in 15 mins (did find a substitute and then found the one I was looking for hiding under something in my truck!) and then completely forgetting that cross country was timed, had no idea what the optimal time was, had no watch to even time it if I had wanted to, and just decided to ride and not care because I was having fun! The end result was something I was not expecting, but completely welcomed, with a boost of confidence in myself and my horse.

Happy pony and rider on XC

Despite all of my worry and terrible time management (it's something I work on every day of my life haha) Gus and I somehow pulled off bringing home a BLUE ribbon!!!! When I saw the organizer walk towards me with a smile on her face and a blue ribbon in her hand I thought surely she was going to walk past me and hand the ribbon off to someone else, but she stopped at Gus and said with much excitement "Congratulations! You did a fantastic job and this is for you!" I really did tell her she must be joking because there was no possible way we could of won, I'd forgotten my watch after all! She laughed and told me to check the score sheet because I really did win! 

heading towards the ditch

 And so after checking the score sheet I gladly accepted my blue ribbon and showered Gus with more kisses and pets and OMG's how did we pull this off??? and You are the best pony ever!!!! 's :) Don't worry, he'd already received many pets and kisses and good boys after every phase we completed, but there is something about being handed a blue ribbon that starts them all over again!!! My little helper, Small Fry (as I nick-named her) fed Gus many peppermints and of course had to put her hat on him because winners wear hats right? And Gus being the best little pony in the world (ok so he's not a real pony since he's 15.3, but being half Connemara gives him the right to be called a pony!) he wore the hat with dignity and didn't try to eat it either!

Small Fry and Pony Face :)

Even though we were just competing Beginner Novice, I couldn't help but think we had just finished up a qualifying score for Rolex. After all Gus is just starting his eventing/jumping career and I'm dusting off the ol' boots and britches and finally getting my game on!!! Hopefully this is just the start and we'll be in full swing event mode before you know it!!!!

Over the 2nd to last fence




Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Time Keeps on Slipping

Time really does find a way of sneaking away when you're not careful! I don't even know where to begin with this post b/c I'm sitting in a hotel  in Hilton Head trying to fall asleep (which obviously isn't happening!) So basically I have way to much to write about and no time to do it in b/c I've got work in the morning!!! So instead I will post a bunch of cute pictures for you to look at :) These pictures were taken at a Morgan Harris clinic that was held at the barn where Gus lives. It was back in March just when the Pear tree was in bloom which made for some pretty pictures. The grey mare is my new project that I'm slowing working with. I took the pictures so that is not me riding her this day (work conflict only allowed me to be there in the mornings) but she has made a lot of progress since this day! I'm hoping that she'll be a really nice eventer in a few years!

Marley and the Pear Tree

Speedy in motion

Will you Love me?

Three's a crowd

I'm going to get it!


Sweet Marley

can't take credit for this photo, it was taken after I left but horse eyes are always captivating!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rain Rain, Go or Stay?


As I sit here typing away at my computer I keep glancing outside, hoping that the rain that is falling down steadily will either lessen up or stop. I had plans for today, but those plans, and basically all of next weeks plans have been postponed or canceled :(

Is the rain a blessing or a curse? 

I can't quite decide! I'm glad it's raining because living through a drought isn't a lot of fun, but is it raining more than necessary? It sure feels like it! Every time it rains, horse people face the facts: rain is needed to keep water levels high for the horses to drink, it helps the grass grow for the horses to eat, it cleans off our trucks and trailers that we might neglect in that department because whats the point if it's just going to get muddy again? But there are lots of drawbacks to it too. Grey horses turn a nice chestnutty red or a really dark black (depending on the type of soil you live on), blankets lose their original color (and you hope they are still waterproof!) shoe sucker mud comes out in full force, and doing basic barn chores just got a lot worse! Not to mention if you don't have a covered arena you are most likely sidelined until your footing dries out, after it stops raining for a few days!
That's a lot of mud!!

The saving grace for the current rain storm is the temperature. Thank goodness it is warm enough outside (or at least where I am!) that you can stand being out there long enough to get all the stalls clean and set up again. There is nothing worse than a damp bone chilling cold that makes every part of your body numb and achey. The only way to warm back up after a day like that is an extremely hot shower and a cup of hot tea! 

There are other reasons that the rain is good. You know all those indoor things you should do but somehow get pushed to the back? The rain keeps you inside so you can get your work done! I have a list as long as my arm of things I should do but keeping coming up with ways to go out to the barn and ride my horse instead... So is today a good day to start on that list? Well I have an entire week of rain in the forecast to get everything done! Though I'm sure I'll be putting on my boots and trudging out to the barn to see my pony on a regular basis- because lets face it, not even rain can keep me inside for to long!!

Oh!! Another great reason to stay inside when it rains- YOUTUBE!!! There are sooooo many great videos out there (and really terrible ones). I'm sure you're familiar with Ed the Naughty Pony, if not- look it up! But I just stumbled across a really funny christmas themed clip! I know it's January, but this one is to good to not share!!! Just think of it as a Candlemas present to you guys ;) Thanks to this post on Hoof Blog for finding some cute videos!

So if it's raining where you are, maybe start on that long "for a rainy day" list, and when you need a good laugh, have an enjoyable moment watching youtube! Or a good horse movie :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Blanket Monsters!!!

I think there is a blanket eating monster in Gus's pasture. It apparently only has a taste for medium weight blankets and doesn't care for sheets- I think it likes the filling, not the crust...

This past month my horse has ripped BOTH of his blankets while out in the pasture! The two days it was cold enough to put him out in a blanket (he's clipped in case you forgot) he came in with rips on his butt.

Day 1) His brown Bit of Britain- it's 1680 denier (apparently) so should be pretty strong- well not strong enough! There was about an inch of ripped shell on his back left hind quarter... nothing bad, but still needs to be stitched up, so off it comes (it had started to warm up to sheet weather by that point) and out comes the spare- a green Weatherbeeta (Oricon maybe???) that came with Gus when we got him.

Day 2) Another cold day and out goes Gus in his green blanket...and returns with a 4 inch gash AND filling falling out! Now Gus has no spare...but thankfully barn owner was able to stitch the green one up because lets face it, I hate this blanket (color aside- it's a real pretty green) and don't care that it's no longer waterproof at the rip point BUT Gus needs a blanket when it gets cold at night.

Blankets in the Snow (from a previous year- 2010?)

So this fiasco gets me thinking- what Blanket is the Best bang for your buck? Does the more expensive Rambo equal a longer lasting blanket? So here are some thoughts about the various blankets I have used in the past and some preferences I have for picking out a blanket/sheet for a horse

What I look for:
High Neck- I like this feature b/c it makes the blankets seem more protective. I prefer the high neck vs. the neck covers (hoods) because it still allows heat to escape but protects from rain. I think that neck covers can get to hot, especially if you have a furnace for a horse!
Neck Cover
High Neck
Standard Neck

Chest Clips- not buckles- There is nothing worse than trying to buckle the front of a blanket with thick gloves on and the strap is not going through the buckle, so you have to take your nice and toasty gloves off and on as you buckle each horse's blanket- boo. I don't care what kind of clips, but really do like ones that just snap on- those are the easiest

 Tail Straps- ok this isn't the end of the world, but they are so much easier to deal with than leg straps. This way you only have to unclip the front and stomach clips before pulling off the blanket. But if your blanket shifts a lot on your horse the leg straps can keep it in place a bit better.

Blankets I've tried

Weatherbeeta- These tend to be cheaper blankets but have many features that people quite like. They usually have shoulder gussets to allow more freedom in the shoulder. I do love the really large tail flaps to protect the tail area from rain/snags/bites/whatever it stops (I think this is only available in the Freestyle versions). It does a really good job of covering the tail area without restricting movement or being to loose and flapping. They have high neck and standard neck designs, but they have the evil buckles. I hate Weatherbeetas for this purpose alone. But to be fair I just looked at their website and some of the blankets have the quick clip option! Yes! Now that is what I'm talking about!! I would consider trying one of those Weatherbeetas! Now back to the review- They hold up decently well, but this also depends on how many blanket monsters live in your pasture! I've heard mixed results about how they fit horses, some horses they fit really well and others not so much. But I think that's a general problem, not one specific to Weatherbeeta. Color option is pretty extensive with the Joules collection, so it's nice to have some fun options! Do really love the Weetherbeeta/Joules bubble dog blanket I have for my dog Jello- it is in it's 3rd winter and has held up really well, and my dog doesn't just sit at home- she's out hunting in the woods by the barn and going on trail rides with me so it's been through some brush!
one of many styes/options/colors from Weatherbeeta
Jello in her blanket

Bit of Britain- Cheap blankets WITH clips! They have the adjustable buckle but with a clip for easy usage once properly adjusted to specific horse. Quite handy. Color options aren't extensive, their strongest denier comes in a not the most attractive copperish brown color. It's not horrible, but they seriously could of picked a better color! But I guess it does hide mud better? They do have a much better blue plaid version of the high neck, but has a lower denier strength. This is important when deciding what blanket to buy for what horse and how rough the horse is on his blankets. The blankets fit pretty well to the horse, but I feel like they tend to shift slightly. Though to be fair, this is most likely a result of me trying to change the leg straps into a tail strap and then loosing the other leg strap. But it didn't fall off, just off center. So as long as it stays place and still covers my horse while being off center I won't complain, to much. The other thing I don't like about it is it tends to be a bit bell shaped when sitting on a horse. Again more of a cosmetic issue, not a workability issues, but I don't like how it seems to flair out at the bottom. The brown blanket I have is a year old and the bell shape hasn't really gone away. Has shoulder gussets so this is quite nice. They tend to go on sale, even in the middle of winter (like right now-25% off!) so this is really nice if you're on a budget!


Rambo- Love Love LOVE my Rambo!!! It's probably 5+ years old and still going strong (knock on wood) Don't like that the Wug sheet version (high neck style) only comes in purple, but oh well. Real men wear purple right? It has all the check marks for my blanket requirement list with easy clips, tail strap, and high neck option (the Wug) They seem to have a really long shelf life because all of our horses have had their Wug's for minimum of 5 years. I know that there are Rambos still in use that could be reaching the age of 10,15, and 20 years- who knows even the very first Rambo could be out there still in use??? The other thing I like about Rambo is the people behind the company are always coming up with new ideas to make their blanket even better. The V neck snap system on the front of the blankets, velcro that now has a double closure system to keep the blanket closed when the velcro starts to get old and not as sticky, removable surcingles because those are always getting ripped up and fall apart before the blanket does, a plastic covered tail strap because poop is always collecting on the nylon ones, and the 3rd surcingle for added security without restricting movement. The only fault that Rambo has is it's price- holy cow the price! Not an easy purchase to make if you're trying to save money or if you have to buy multiple blankets for multiple horses. Horseware Ireland (the company behind Rambos) does make a cheaper option called Amigo. I've only ever used one Amigo and I quite liked it. It didn't have any of the cool Rambo features, but it was also unknown age (probably with in the 5 year range) and had come out of a box of blankets that my mom had as leftovers from when we had a riding program at our old boarding barn. It fit Liaison well and he looked quite dashing in the Green Plaid design.
The Bay Boys in their Wugs

Care and Maintenance of Blankets

Hairballs from blanket after washing
As with any blanket the way you take care of it will determine how long it will last. Washing and waterproofing every year will insure that your blanket will keep out the rain. But remember that regular detergent will strip the waterproofing off of the blanket and ruin it. Also make sure you use breathable waterproofing agents because it can get really hot under a blanket unless it can breathe! The breathability prevents the horse from sweating and then catching a chill (when blanket is used in appropriate temp for weight of blanket)- if you've ever worn a cheap raincoat than you know what I'm talking about

So either take your blankets to a reputable blanket repair person (just like anything in life, not all blanket repair people are created equal) or make sure you wash and waterproof with APPROVED detergent and waterproofing only! I promise this will SAVE you more money in the long run!!! I know someone who ruined their blankets by using some weird waterproofing stuff (I think it was for your shoes?) and while it worked great the first year, it has prevented the blankets from holding onto their waterproofing ability since then. My horse was the only one dry and his blanket is the exact same blanket (and age) as the other ones. It may suck paying for quality work, but it's a lot cheaper than buying a new blanket every year!

Final thoughts about blanket purchase:

 If your horse's nickname is Shredder and you find that the Ninja Turtles are always battling your horse out in the pasture and every year you need to buy a replacement blanket, go with a cheap blanket that doesn't put you in debt when purchasing a new one every year.

 If quality is what you seek, go with a Rambo. If you are able to spend the extra cash up front I do think buying a good quality blanket will pay you back in the end because it will outlast the others.

Not all blankets will fit your horse. There is nothing more unsightly than a blanket rub on your immaculately clean horse at a horse show. You can buy shoulder protectors to prevent rubs, but it's easiest if you buy a blanket that fits (less hassle). If your horse is extra wide (big shoulders or girth area, drafty or Quarter horse breeds tend to be this way) they do make extra wide blankets to accommodate the shoulder but won't be to long for the back. 

But no matter how much money you spend for the initial blanket, upkeep is the only way to ensure longevity in your blanket purchase- no matter what brand you go with!

Johnny staying dry and toasty in his blanket
The Bay Boys coming in to eat