Monday, December 9, 2013

Product review: Ogilvy Memory Foam Half Pad

Before I launch in to my review, a quick update.  It's been wet here.  As in really wet.  All we've really been able to do is walk with a bit of trot thrown in.  All I have to say is Charlie can now totally rock the walk pirouette in either direction.  He's so smart!

Product review - Ogilvy Half Pad

I had originally wanted to get an Ecogold triple protection half pad for my jump saddle (I had a dressage one but traded it for lessons) but had such a horrible customer service experience with them at Rolex, I went on a mission to find an Ogilvy pad while we were still at Rolex.  I had never touched one but had read about them and thought they might be a suitable alternative.  Boy am I glad I ended up walking out of the Ecogold booth and ended up in a private tack shop booth that had Ogilvy pads.

Quick breakdown…

Pros
- Much softer and easier to manipulate than many foam half pads
- Removable outer cover for easy washing
- Totally customizable - pick your own pad, piping, and binding color at no extra charge
- Improves my saddle fit so I no longer need to use a breastplate if I chose not to
- Charlie has zero back soreness per the acupuncturist and the masseuse
- So far, it's worn like iron

Cons
- It's kinda pricey ($199) but totally worth it in my opinion
- Totally customizable - now I want another one in a different color scheme!
- You must remember to tighten your girth after you've gotten on and it's compressed with your weight!

First impression, it seemed quite bulky and I thought it would make my saddle too narrow (it's already a narrow).  But it truly does it's job and compresses where it needs to and fills in the little pockets behind Charlie's shoulder just below his wither - think stereotypical TB wither-shoulder scenario.  It's kinda floppy so it's very easy to position exactly where you want it, unlike the Ecogold pad which I found quite stiff and basically in a set position.  Also unlike the Ecogold pad, the foam inserts are removable making the outer cover very easy to toss in the washer.  I've been very impressed with how it's worn - it shows zero signs of wear and has been used for every single ride since I got it.  Nothing and I mean nothing, shows any signs of wear - no fraying, no pulls, no color fading, no nothing.  The cover itself is some sort of micro suede with a cotton twill of some sort for the piping and the binding.

Most importantly, Charlie approves.  I've never had back problems with him (knock on wood!) but I certainly don't want to start.  I do feel like the pad improves the fit of my saddle which just proves that no saddle is truly custom (this saddle was bought and theoretically made for him).

 
This is a close up of how it fits under the saddle - my saddle is 17.5" seat with a forward flap and the regular size fits it just fine.  I actually like that it has some excess that way I don't worry about the panels sitting on the edge of the pad.  I would think that scenario would be very uncomfy for the pony.

 
I tried to take pictures of the dirtiest part of the pad - this is the front lower corner of the pad.  I just washed it for the first time last week.  Oops!

 
This is the back of the pad - it sits just behind the cantle.  You can see some grunge on the piping.

This just shows where the foam inserts slide in.  Super easy removal and reinsertion.

This is the clean pad sitting on top of a poly pad - our usual set-up.  The pad washed up great - all grunge is gone.  I put it in the washer with warm water and let it hang dry.  

Final verdict

Both Charlie and I are very happy with this purchase and I would highly recommend adding one to your collection if you get the opportunity.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Slight delay

I was going to write on Sunday evening, honest.  But I got caught in a project and ended up not having enough time.  It was a horsey project though so it's all good.  My dad helped me make these:

 
Cavalettis!  Kinda tough to see but there are 4 of them.

I found instructions on line and they were actually very easy to make especially if you have power tools!  Power tools are pretty key to your success but I suppose you could use a saw if you didn't have a power saw.  Any who, lucky for my checkbook, my parents had some spare 4x4s so I only had to buy two and the hardware - grand total $60.  If you had to buy all the 4x4s, it would probably cost in the neighborhood of $120-$130.


In progress.

We tested them out yesterday and Charlie approved.  Poor thing - we haven't jumped since August.  Oops!  I need to up my game as I'm starting to plan the winter schedule.  Looking like a couple of jumper shows in Aiken and two events (one in Aiken and one in Southern Pines) but we shall see what happens as the time gets closer.

Charlie's been quite good although a bit heavy.  I've been doing a lot of canter-walk-canter transitions as well as some counter canter to get him thinking about where his body is.  Everyday he feels stronger and stronger.  We did trot sets in the rain on Sunday which kinda sucked but could have been worse.  Good thing I don't live in the UK - I hate riding in the rain.

Ok, so it wasn't really raining more like drizzle but I still hate riding in the rain!

 
Just chilling before our ride this past Saturday.

 
So I've decided to never pull Charlie's tail as most eventers do.  He has a great braiding tail and I'm going to practice until I've perfected the art.  Any H/J folks want to give me some pointers?

Aren't they cute? 1 second after this, Lilo jumped back about five feet.  She can't quite figure the horse thing out.  But Charlie loves her anyway.

Tip of the day courtesy SuperMom: 1L Smart Water bottles make excellent boot trees.  Way better than newspaper rolls. 

I'm off to get hay tomorrow.  Fingers crossed he has stuff as nice as what I got this spring - ponies hoover that stuff up like they're starving!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

So freaking cool!

On Monday I got one of the coolest emails I've ever had the pleasure of receiving.  It was titled "Cosmic Rae" (Charlie's jockey club name) and just happened to be from his race trainer, Alicia.  Through extremely impressive internet sleuthing (seriously, I need some lessons) she managed to find my email address.  Alicia said she started her search at the Retired Racehorse Training Project where I had registered Charlie and somehow or another managed to find my email address.  She basically just wanted to make sure he ended up in a good place as they (she and her husband who is also a trainer) typically re-home their own horses but Charlie's owners decided to find him a home on their own.

Apparently, Charlie was one of her favorites and Alicia has always wondered what happened to him.  He was her first lay-up (he was injured as a 3 year old) and the first horse she ever breezed.  We've exchanged a couple of emails since the first one as well as a few pictures and I am so tickled Charlie has his own little fan club.  I now know why he's so well-behaved on the ground and so sweet to be around - he's had excellent care his whole life provided by people who truly love him.

 
Taken I'm assuming when he was at Alicia's for rehab.  He had stress fractures in both hind legs due being 17hh as a 3 yr old and his big body just couldn't handle the race training.  The vets told the owners he probably wouldn't ever race but would most likely be sound enough for a second career.  Alicia was going to re-train for a riding career once healed.  But he came back from his lay-up so well, a second trip to the vet confirmed he could go back into race training and "see what happened."  He never took another lame step.

Pony friend!  You can see just how freaking big he really is here!


Winning!


 
After his win.  Since he was never expected to make it to the track to begin with, his owners wanted him to retire sound and pulled him off the track after he broke his maiden.  Can we say a prayer for kind and thoughtful owners?  They often get overlooked because we're too busy talking about the despicable ones.

Alicia is going to try and dig out some more training pictures and send them my way.  Yay!  I'm going to send her updates because she likes to keep up with their former horses.  Double yay!  Maybe someday, we'll get to have a reunion.  At some point, Charlie and I will be in her neck of the woods and I would love to meet the folks who took such good care of him before he got to me.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Playing catch-up

I haven't been doing too much hard core riding, mostly just some easy flat sessions and TRAIL RIDING!

I'm pretty sure it's no secret that I love to go on trail rides and the lack of trails is about the only downside to Charlie's housing situation.  About 2 weeks ago, I went to my friend Lauren's house to go trail riding on her property.  She and her husband live on about 150 acres and she grew up riding barrel horses.  It's pretty interesting talking with her about training barrel horses - their are a lot of similarities in training methods once you get past the language barrier.  She calls trot sets long trots because you're trotting for a long time…get it?  Haha!  I thought that was brilliant.  They also do quite a bit of lateral work.

Charlie was little full of himself when I first got there but he settled right down.  The trails were a little more shall we say rustic, then I was expecting so we did some trailblazing.  Since Lauren grew up riding western, she doesn't wear a helmet and her hair got caught in some of trees.  I told her that was one more good reason to wear a helmet. :)  We were out for about an hour and a half, just walking as the trails were too hard and too rough to do anything else.  I think Charlie really enjoyed it and he was really good about leading and being in back.  Sadly, I lack photographic evidence.

This past Monday, I took Nadine (the barn owner) and Charlie's girlfriend Sadie with us to the Clemson experimental forest for a little jaunt.  Sadie was a bit of a problem child at the barn - she got loose twice, running all over the place.  Not a good start and since Nadine is basically a beginner, I began to get a little concerned if she was acting like this at home, what was she going to be like when we got there?!?!  I have no idea when she was last off the property.  Shouldn't have worried.  She was really good as was Charlie.  There are 2 water crossings and one looks more like a ditch than a stream.  Charlie always jumps it and monkey see, monkey do - Sadie jumped it!  Poor Nadine but she did great - stayed right in the middle, in perfect balance.  We had a great time and hopefully we'll go again while the weather is still so nice.

 
This would have been cute but Charlie decided to try running up Sadie's butt right when I took it.

Back in the lead and happy about it.

 
Satisfied at the end of the ride.

Charlie gets shoes on Friday - can you believe it's almost 6 weeks since he got his last set?  I need to knock on wood or one will be missing in the morning...

Thanks and other pick-me-ups

Thank you very much for all your kind words - September is indeed a month I'd like to forget.  Onto brighter things - thank you very much to Kate at On a Steel Horse and Hillary at Equestrian as Hart for nominating me for the Sunshine Award.  I really appreciate it and it was so kind given my lack of presence in the blog-o-sphere of late.  I'm going to do better I promise!


                                           
Onto the questions!

1.  Mares or geldings?  Geldings, definitely.  I have enough drama in my life.

2.  English or Western?  English but I'm definitely intrigued by the working cow horse stuff.  Especially the cutting horses.

3.  Older or younger horses?  Doesn't matter.

4.  Have you ever started a horse from zero?  No and honestly, I have no desire to.  I don't think I have enough patience.

5.  Riding or groundwork?  Riding.

6.  Board or keep the pony at home?  A little of both.  While Charlie is not in my backyard, I provide all of his food and the vast majority of his care.

7.  Do you use primarily natural products or commercial products on your horse?  A little of both.  I think there is a time and a place for both.

8.  All tacked up or bareback?  If I owned a roly, poly quarter horse or pony, I'd be really tempted to choose bareback but alas I don't.  And Charlie's withers definitely make themselves known.

9.  Equestrian role model.  Hmmm…I have lots.  Lana duPont, Princess Anne, my mom, Amy, Cherie, Sinead Halpin, John Williams, Reed Kessler, and the list could go on and on.  Lots of exciting people riding right now.

10.  Main goal for your time in the horse world.  To be an advocate for my horse, put his needs first always, and to have FUN!

Thanks again ladies!  Just the shove I needed to climb fully back on the wagon.

I'm pretty sure everyone's been nominated but if you haven't, please let me know and I will nominate accordingly.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

When horrible things happen to wonderful people

In my last post, I mentioned that lack of horse shoes was not the only reason September sucked.  In all honestly, September should have been awesome - it signifies the start of fall (at least for me!) and cooler weather, more riding because the weather is better, and the holiday season is just around the corner (I love Thanksgiving!).  And besides the fact that Charlie started off September by losing a shoe (seriously, he lost the first one on 1 Sept), September seemed to be shaping up well.  I planned a quick trip to PA for the first weekend to attend Cherie's 10th wedding anniversary party and pick up a new horse trailer - all great things, right?

While in PA I got the first piece of horrible news - my trainer had been in a very bad riding accident leaving her in a medical induced coma after going through brain surgery with lots of bruising on the brain.  Most of you (especially the eventers) have probably seen the stories about Amy on Eventing Nation or The Chronicle of the Horse but if you haven't, she either fell or was kicked in the head.  Thank goodness she had a helmet on and just as important, someone just happened to be at the farm when she had her accident and was able to get her help immediately.  I work in a Neuro ICU unit so I felt some measure of comfort in that I knew sort of what to expect and honestly thought that once the swelling subsided (a few days, a week at most), she would wake-up with maybe a few cognitive issues (short-term memory loss, some residual weakness, etc).  But she didn't.  I'll spare you the details but it took her at least a good three weeks before she was opening her eyes.  I would ask my co-workers, who have years more experience than me what they thought and they would just kind of shake their heads and say it doesn't look good, it's taking too long.  I knew this in my head but my heart refused to give up hope.  The thing about Amy is she just has this way of making you believe and now it was my turn to believe in her.  I don't really know how to explain it - she's super positive but you know she'll always tell you the truth (no sugar coating).  She always has time for my stupid questions even though I'm not the most consistent student.  She's quite simply amazing.  As I write this, she is residing in one of the best rehab facilities in the country making amazing progress everyday - I wouldn't expect anything less.  She's walking more and more everyday, talking more appropriately everyday and basically just getting back on the proverbially horse.  If you have a minute, please swing by her recovery page on Facebook.  If you have a few spare dollars, please consider donating to her medical recovery fund.  She may not be as well known as some other BNTs out there but I'm betting she's touched many more people with her lovely personality and amazing talent.

So if the news about Amy wasn't bad enough, my friend Cherie lost her amazing quarter horse stallion to a freak pasture accident.  Her husband found him in the pasture with a broken leg.  They were able to get him to the barn and take x-rays (he's a vet) but surgery was not an option.  As I was crying on the phone with her, she was in the barn petting his nose.  She said he was still as bright-eyed and friendly as ever.  Like nothing was wrong.  It's so difficult to write about Justin - he was truly an amazing animal.  He started off life as a western reining champion, moved onto eventing with Cherie competing easily through prelim before switching to the jumpers.  He tackled 1.40m jumper courses and was getting ready to make the jump up to grand prix when this happened.  And when he wasn't being a jumping freak, he was teaching his 55 year old owner how to jump.  One of a kind.



Rest in peace Lark's Justin.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Climbing back on

Obviously I've taken a huge tumble off the blogging bandwagon.  Sorry about that.  Wish I could say it's because I've been doing all sorts of fun and exciting things but alas, that is not the case.  I've probably ridden about 20 times since I last blogged - at first, it was too hot and then Charlie spent 3 out of the 4 weeks of September minus a shoe.  First it was the left front and then it was the right front because he really is that talented.  I wasn't super motivated to take him to the farrier for another reason that deserves its own post.  And honestly, I've been feeling super stressed about money and a little depressed about the future.  Nothing horrible but I tend to sweat the small stuff and love to worry about things that are barely a blip on the horizon.  Basically, I have to go back to school to finish my bachelors in nursing, which really irritates me since I already have a bachelors in business not to mention tons of real world management experience from my previous jobs as well as a masters degree.  While I'm sure I will learn something from the BSN program, I don't think I'll learn enough to make it worth the $$$ I'm going to have to pay.  Sigh...such is life.

In pony news, he has all four shoes on and has managed to keep them on for a week (knock on wood!) - woohoo!  It's the little things, right?  I've sat on him a few times since he got new shoes and he was quite good one day - very willing to move forward into the bridle, and a total punk the next day - basically refusing to go forward if I had any contact with his face.  My fault.  What can I expect considering he's been ridden so sporadically this summer?

 
Just in case you all thought he was wasting away - a light summer and September off does the body good.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Finally!

I finally have something to write about!  While it's still raining, it hasn't been raining quite as much and I've finally been able to string together a few rides at more than a walk.  I feel like we've lost a lot of ground but am hopeful that as long as I stick to my guns, things will get better quickly.

Most of our issues revolve around Charlie not wanting relax in his left jaw and step under with his inside hind (this holds true for both directions - left jaw is always pretty hard).  I finally got frustrated enough and trucked up to Amy's for a refresher.  I didn't feel fitness-wise we were ready to a true lesson but I needed help!  Amy basically said I'm on the right track and I have to stick to my guns when he protests.  Same thing she usually tells me, I just hate fighting with him. :/

Basically, when going to the right, he either falls in (haunches and shoulders) or tries to bulge out through his shoulder.  Going to the left, he's still hard on the left jaw and convinces me to 'let go' with the right rein while I try to soften his jaw with the left.  And when I try to correct him, he has an issue with with it.  I think a large part of it is he's just not as strong as he was this spring.  I suppose that's what happens when you spend approximately 4 weeks doing nothing but walking.  Sigh.  I hate the summer.

Today I got up super early to go XC schooling at FENCE.  Charlie was a star - I kind of expect him to be a star over the fences but I was pleasantly surprised at how well-behaved he was while tacking up and in the warm-up.  He was really good!  No theatrics and I could actually get on him without feeling like there was a 50-50 chance he was going to put me on the ground on my way up.  He was a little looky but I suppose that's to be expected seeing as this is only the second time he's been out and about since the beginning of June.  He cantered through the water with no issues and dropped off the bank into the water like he does it everyday.  Amy was very complimentary of how well he dropped off - he was super quiet, no launching, and just cantered off like it was no big deal.  Same with the ditch - no big deal.  He's such a good pony.  I need to work on being softer after the jumps so I don't discourage him from galloping away.  Since he isn't always so great about galloping up into the bridle, I need to make sure I'm not discouraging him when he does the right thing.

I feel kind of badly for going today because I think it was too hot.  I don't know how people actually go to a show in this kind of weather.  It's just miserable and we were done by 1030.  Charlie was back in his field by 1 but I think it was too much to ask of him.  He was so good too!  Poor thing!

Early morning - view from Charlie's field this AM before we left.


Chubby ponies in there field.  Surprisingly, it's not raining.



Monday, July 15, 2013

Decisions and Changes

Some decisions have been made and changes have occurred.  I have been hemming and hawing quite a bit as of late over my current hauling situation.  I've felt pretty much from the get-go that my current trailer is a slight squeeze for Charlie but told him he had to make do because of finances, i.e. no job.  It's not horribly tight, just not as roomy as it could be.  With this in mind, I began thinking about what type of trailer I wanted to get.  I knew it had to be a gooseneck, two horse straight load (I am NOT a fan of slants - personal preference kinda thing), and I kinda sorta wanted a front ramp.  In creating my dream list, I began to consider my truck.  It was about to cross over 100K miles and if I was going to trade it I needed to do it before it crossed that abyss.

I don't really want a new truck, I want a new trailer.  I did lots of research and asked lots of people (please note the folks at the dealership are idiots when it comes to determining load safety) and came to the conclusion my truck would be fine for a two horse gooseneck with a dressing room but no front ramp.  And I was ok with that.  And then I talked to my farrier.  He said I would be fine and the gooseneck would actually make the rig more stable because of how the weight was distributed.  Only thing I needed to be aware of is it would take longer to stop because the brakes on a 1/2 ton are much smaller than those on a 3/4 or 1 ton.  At first I was ok with this.  I mean, I have brakes on the trailer so everything should be fine, right?  Then I got to thinking; if anything ever happened and it came to light said anything could have been prevented if I'd had a bigger truck with bigger brakes, I would be devastated.  As in do my self harm kind of devastated.  So at 99,500 miles, I traded my 1/2 ton, fully paid for truck for this...

 

I'm now no longer debt free but I think it's going to be well worth it.  I won't have to worry about running a red light because I can't stop or being unable to avoid an accident for the same reason.  I've never driven a truck this big and I must say the difference between a 1/2 ton and a 3/4 ton is pretty significant.  I haven't pulled with it yet but I'm looking forward to it.  And now I can scour used trailer ads and not worry about whether or not my truck is big enough!

Onto the pony front.  Not a lot going on there other then grooming and cookie eating.  It seems like we've been averaging approx 2-3 inches of rain/day for the last two weeks.  To say the ground is soggy is a HUGE understatement.  The next town over got 9 inches of rain in a 2 hour period Saturday night (yup, you read that correctly - 9 inches in 2 hours).

 
Charlie is totally unenthused by the sight of more rain.  

I did go for a walk today and he got to try out his new pad from Ecogold.  They were having a sale (not a discount sale because nothing is ever really on sale there) where they donated 20% of sales to a girl who was hit by a drunk driver.  The money is going to help pay her horses expenses while she gets better.  Charlie is officially chubby!  I think he looks really good and his one girth that's typically a little large on him is now just right.  The others are a tad tight.  Is it odd that he has 6 girths?  Every horse has 6 girths, right?

 
He was confused - he hasn't worn this junk in forever!

 
Only good thing about the monsoon - the grass is going crazy!

Now for a little Sadie update - her wound is almost gone.  Nadine has been using a moxie stick (at least I think that's what she calls it) to prevent proud flesh.  It's some sort of eastern medicine thing that she swears by.  Seems to be working!

Almost gone!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Liebster!!!

Thanks so much to Kate at Grey Brook EventingNiamh at Life of Riley, and Jess at Riding Rainbow for nominating us - very much appreciated!

HOW TO ACCEPT THE AWARD: The Liebster Blog Award is a way to recognize blogs who have less than 200 followers.  Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued.  Here are the rules for accepting the award:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  5. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  6. Go to each blogger's page and let them know you have nominated them.


11 Random Facts

1.  My first pony cost $85 and was procured from the local auction - I named him Cheerio in honor of my favorite cereal.
2.  I joined the Navy after college because I honestly didn't know who else would hire me.
3.  I've been on a tour of the racetrack in Dubai where the Dubai World Cup is run - missed the 9 week racing season by one week.  Guess I'll just have to go back...
4.  I was born in Idaho and lived there for the first 5 years of my life before moving to Connecticut.
5.  I like to knit and I wouldn't mind learning how to crochet (can we say custom fly bonnets for Charlie?).
6.  I'm a horrible speller.  Like really horrible - if I didn't have spellcheck, people probably wouldn't be able to figure out what I'm trying to write.
7.  I seriously love cheese.
8.  I prefer to go to the beach in the winter and the mountains in the summer.
9.  I hate to drive but I hate being a passenger even more.
10.  I am unfortunately addicted to my iPhone.  I keep trying to go one day a week without it but can't do it.
11.  I secretly want to move to New Zealand.  I suppose it's not so secret now...

Kate's Questions:

1.  If you could travel to any place in the world, where would it be and why?
Hmmm...this is a toughy because there are lots of places I still want to visit but I guess I would have to say Switzerland.  I'm intrigued by a culture that has managed to stay totally neutral. 
2.  If you could live in any historical period/location, where would it be and why?
Probably Paris during the advent of impressionism.  Whenever I see the paintings from this era, I see so much hope and possibility.  I also love the rebellion factor. 
3.  If you had to change to an entirely new equestrian discipline, what would you go to?
Hunters or cutting horses.  I'm totally fascinated by both.
4.  If you could have a ride on any famous horse in the world competing right now, which would it be?
I have a few...for hunters, Inclusive, jumpers, Flexible, dressage, Valegro, eventing, toss up between Mr. Medicott and Manior de Carneville.
5.  Describe your dream barn.
4 stalls (14x14), 1 large grooming stall, 1 large wash stall, a feed room, a tack room, a bathroom, and a storage room for winter blankets, extra buckets, etc.  It will be functional and utilitarian - no fancy or useless details just because they look pretty.
6.  Favorite non-horsey activity.
Reading, anything and everything.
7.  Which is better: the book or the movie adaptation?
Book, hands down.
8.  Can you cook?  If so, what can you make?
Yes.  I'm pretty good at following directions so I feel pretty confident making anything that has a recipe.  I can throw stuff together as well but I'd really rather just put a cheese and fruit plate together and have a glass of wine.
9.  Favorite color.
Blue, navy in particular.
10. Describe yourself in 10 years.
If the last 10 years have taught me anything, it's that I have no idea where I'll be because I can guarantee I never would have described myself now.  My only wish for myself is that I'm happy and I've enjoyed the journey.
11.  How did you first start riding?
My mom had horses and rode until she was approximately 7 months pregnant so I guess you could say I was born riding.

Niamh's Questions:

1.  What's your biggest fear as a rider?
Falling off.  I hate to fall off and will do just about anything to make sure I don't hit the dirt.
2.  Who's your favorite rider and why?
Probably Sinead Halpin.  In an era when the norm seems to be to run horses legs off, she seems to run her horses very judiciously and puts their needs before those of her career.  Also love her style and rapport with Tate - have you seen her round at Burghley?
3.  What the most useful piece of advice someone's given you as a horse owner?
From my friend Cherie - heart and brain matter more than confirmation.  Charlie has horrible confirmation but somehow he makes it work.
4.  How old were you when you got your first horse?
3 when I got my first pony but I learned how to ride on my mom's quarter horse Jack.  She decided it was time to get a pony when she caught me cantering.  Spoiled, I know.
5.  Burghley, Badminton, or Rolex?
Burghley.
6.  Quick, you're trapped on a desert island, what three things do you bring?
Charlie, lots of sunscreen for both of us, and a library.
8.  Favorite guilty pleasure.
Real Housewives of Orange County.  I just can't help myself.
9.  Three things on my bucket list.
Visiting Ireland, completing a training-level three day, and riding in an A/O jumper stakes class.
10.  If you could ride any well known horse, who would it be?
Probably the hunter Inclusive just to see what's it's like to ride a hunter.  He looks AMAZING.  However, I'm pretty sure I'd get totally jumped out of the tack on the first jump.
11.  Would you rather: Ride without stirrups for the the rest of your life OR have one armed tied behind your back at all times?
No stirrups.  I think it would be pretty tough to figure out the balance thing associated with one arm behind your back.

Jess' Questions:

1. Would you rather ride a mule or not ride at all?
Mule, definitely.
2. List your three favorite books about riding or horsemanship.
I'm mildly embarrassed to admit I've never really read a riding/horsemanship book.  Thumbed through some for Pony Club but that's about it.  I do have a Jane Savoie book I keep meaning to read but somehow it's always on the bottom of the pile.
3. Have you ever used the Clinton Anderson or Buck Branaman methods to teach a horse groundwork?

Nope but I'm intrigued by it. 
4. Do you know any gay riders (besides me, if you know me)? (Duh, I'm obviously going to ask this.)

I'm sure I do but it's kind of a non-issue for me so I don't really think about it.  I will say my first experience with anyone gay came through riding.  The owner of the farm my trainer boarded at was gay and lived with his boyfriend.  They were some of the kindest and funniest people I've ever met.  I suppose it's because of this experience, I've never understood the whole homophobe thing.  
5. What's your favorite discipline to watch that you don't compete/train in?

Cutting or reining.
6. Totilas or Blue Horse Matiné? (There is a correct answer! Ha!)

Blue Horse MatinĂ©.  Just not a huge fan of Totilas.
7. Who is your favorite thoroughbred racehorse of the last ten years?

Big Brown or Barbaro (breaks my heart to think what Barbaro could have been).
8. Biggest pet peeve on horse blogs?

When people just stop blogging.  I worry something horrible has happened.
9. The Black Stallion or Black Beauty?

The Black Stallion.
10. Would you rather ride in the heat or the cold?

Cold.
11. Your area of the tack room or your bedroom: Which is cleaner?

Tack room. :)

It seems like every blog I have read has been nominate so I'm going to steal Jessica from Hopeful Jumpers idea and say if you haven't been nominated, please let me know and I'll be more than happy to tag you.  Thanks again to Kate, Niamh, and Jess!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Thank you!

As usual, I'm a day late and a dollar short but THANK YOU so much to Kate and Niamh for nominating me for the Leibster Award!  Kate's blog is literally the first blog I ever read - pretty sure I didn't even know what a blog was until I started reading about her adventures with Dually.  And Niamh was one of my very first followers and I'm so happy that she not only had what seems to have been a pretty spectacular wedding but also has a red pony of her very own.  Thanks very much ladies!  I'm drafting up my response and promise to have it up later this week.

Not much has been going on in Charlie-land.  The farm owners have been away in Europe (pretty sure I've mentioned this before but they're originally from Belgium) and they left right as Sadie (their horse) developed a massive, and I mean MASSIVE, abscess on her face.  Since they were away, I had to take care of her which meant not much time left over for riding.  The thing finally popped and it was disgusting!  She's been a real trooper about it and has been really easy to take care of - just time consuming.  It's been hot anyway and everyone knows how much I loooovvve the heat. :/

Things should sort of be back on track now as the farm owners are back and Sadie's wound looks much better.  I did ride twice last week and one time Charlie decided to start the ride solo and took off right as I was about to put the bridle on.  He was running around with my precious saddle on and all I could think to do was take a picture.  Hmmmm...  I finally came to my senses and ran up to close the gate before he could run out in the cul-de-sac.  He actually never even came close to leaving the property and spent the majority of his freedom staring at me as I ran up the relatively long driveway in my boots and helmet to shut the gate all while holding his bridle.  He can be such a punk sometimes!

The punk in action...it's tough to be mad when he's so stinking cute!

If you have a weak stomach, stop reading here - I've included some pics of Sadie's lovely abscess...


 
The start - this doesn't do it justice.  It was at least grapefruit sized if not cantaloupe...

 
It's blurry because she wouldn't hold still but it finally popped...

 
It's fully popped here and let me tell you, it smelled awful!  Poor thing - it oozed junk every time she ate something...

 
And finally when the dead skin came off.  Yucky!!!!!

It looks much better now but I forgot to take a picture today.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Contest update!

I'm impressed - Julie got it right off the bat.  Julie, please email me your address and I'll pop your prize in the mail (sss_0222@yahoo.com).

Mom and I took the long way back to the hotel one day after leaving Rolex and just happened to drive by Reed Kessler's farm.  I was most impressed by how workmanlike it was.  Very classy and definitely not over-the-top.



Barns from a distance.  A tour would have been great - maybe next time. :)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Losing days and a contest!!!!

This whole working at night thing has me losing track of what day it is and how many have passed.  That's my backwards way of saying sorry to have been absent for so long.  I'm going to keep this brief because I honestly can't remember all the details.

I've had a few lessons - one was bad but learned a bunch.  Basically, I kept picking for the short distance but never had Charlie in front of my leg so we crashed through one jump and then he said no thanks at the next one.  He almost got me off - I ended up in front of the saddle and smacked my chin on his poll.  I was definitely seeing stars afterwards.  Amy had me gallop around to get him in front of my leg and we tried again.  He jumped but it wasn't pretty - pretty much felt like a wild indian galloping down all the lines.  I walked away from that lesson a bit down.

Next two lessons were much better.  I focused on keeping Charlie in front of my leg and keeping my hand soft between the jumps.  Crazy how every distance just seems to work when you're going forward.  After our last lesson, I took Charlie out in Amy's jump field where we jumped the banks and the ditch on our own.  Charlie was brilliant!  Didn't hesitate over anything.  I was a bit surprised only because we haven't gone XC schooling since last fall.  Oops!

This past weekend was the schooling horse trials at the Carolina Horse Park.  I went up early on Saturday to meet Amy for some XC schooling at the park.  They've changed the format up a bit this year and have schooling on Saturday with the HT running on Sunday.  I was running a bit late due to traffic and then Charlie proceeded to pull a hind shoe in the stall being an idiot.  He's just that talented folks.  Since it was a hind foot and I didn't see any holes from him stepping on the clip, I decided to school anyway.  He was simply amazing!  We did most of the training level course and he just ate everything up.  He actually broke to the canter in the water, didn't bat an eyelash at the water-filled ditch (did I mention it's basically been a non-stop monsoon here?), aannnddd jumped the trakehner on the first go round.  He took a little peak while we were in the air but that was it!!!!  I can't believe how lucky I am to have such a wonderful pony!

After I tucked him in for the night, I spent the night with my friend Clair.  I got to the horse park bright and early on Sunday in hopes of finding the farrier.  Lucky for me he was there by 7:30 and kindly tacked Charlie's hind shoe on even though Charlie was being a total dork.  The loud speaker's must bring back memories of the track because anytime he hears them, he loses some of his marbles.

I was a little too laid back about getting on for dressage and poor Charlie literally got to trot and canter once in each direction and then we went in the ring.  Oops!  He was really good considering.  He was only slightly distracted and our bending kind of sucked but he was obedient and forward so I was basically ecstatic.  We ended up with a 34.4 and all 6s and 7s - not quite sure how that happened but I'll take it.  Judge even said we were a nicely matched pair - awww!

Show jumping was good despite my crappy riding - I kinda, sorta forgot to think while I was in the ring.  Poor Charlie probably thought I was a bit crazy because 1 second I was telling him to go right and the next, I was telling him to go left.  Oh well, he more than made up for me and we had a clear round.  We went straight to XC and to say Charlie was ready to go is a bit of an understatement.  He could see the horses leaving the start box and didn't really understand why he had to wait to join the fun.  Getting in the start box was well, interesting.  Once we got out on course, he was strong as in really strong.  I wasted a lot of time in the beginning getting him back before the fences but once we hit the halfway point, he was a little more rateable.  Even with the antics, I was still really happy with him.  He was super bold and brave to everything.  And even though it took him a bit to listen to me when I tried to half-halt, he still ultimately listened.  Because we spent so much time fighting about speed (or maybe I should say quality of gait), we had 4 time penalties.  If we hadn't had those, we would have been second but we ended up with a pretty white ribbon (seems to be a theme - last fall we were fourth as well).  All in all, an outstanding weekend!  Pics can be seen here - High Time Photography.


 
Picture of Charlie's new halter - unfortunately, you can't really see the chrome hardware.  But it sure looks pretty in person!

Now for the contest - first person to tell me who's farm gates the below picture is of will win a bottle of Canter Silk Mane and Tail Conditioner.  ETA - Pic was taken while I was in Lexington for Rolex...





Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rolex: The Shopping Edition

I think I've been rebelling against this post for awhile since it's my 100th and I feel like I should have some really thought-provoking, insightful, reflective kind of post but I've come to the realization that I am none of those things.  And honestly, it's pretty ironic that my first milestone post will be about shopping.  So without further ado, here's what Charlie got.

On Thursday, our first stop was Smartpak.  Everyone knows I love Smartpak and the fact that all Smartpak branded items were 15% off made me love them even more.  Charlie got a lovely new flysheet (he didn't have one) that came with a huge LL Bean-like tote (for those unfamiliar with LL Bean totes, it's a huge canvas bag) for FREE!  Love free!

We then swung by Stubben per Megs suggestion and I managed to pick up some web reins for $20.  I've never been willing to shell out the $$ money for web reins (meaning even $40 was too much) but I couldn't pass up $20 for really nice web reins.  This way if I hate them, I'm not too terribly annoyed at having spent oodles of money on them.  In fact, I could probably sell them for more then I paid.

Next stop was Five Star Tack just to "browse."  Well, lucky for Charlie they were getting rid of all their old stock.  We scored a lovely figure-8 mono-crown bridle and matching reins for a fraction of their original price.  It came with a fancy stitch browband but I put an old clincher browband on it so I can keep the fancy stitched one's white stitching white.  Yes, I really am that OCD...

 
 Charlie's new bridle - he's thrilled.

That was it for Thursday and I stupidly thought I was done for the weekend.  You'd think by now I would know better...

Friday brought the "BIG purchase" - I bought a pair of custom boots from La Mundial.  Oops!  I'm not entirely sure what came over me as these were most definitely NOT on the agenda.  Sigh.  In my defense, all their display boots are so pretty I just couldn't resist.  On the sale front, I managed to pick up 2 pairs of Tredstep Symphony knee patch breeches for $89/pair.  They retail for $119 from Smartpak so I was pretty excited.

There was nothing bought on Saturday but we did once again wander the trade fair where we stumbled on Majyk Horse Boots.  These are the boots Boyd Martin has helped design and I must say, I was very impressed.  A pair of these is most likely in Charlie's future - they didn't have any for sale.

Sunday, we hit the trade fair after SJ was finished in hopes to avoid the traffic rush.  Here is where Mom got me my Xmas present (I told her to wait in hopes of trade fair sale pricing).  I had been wanting a brown Ecogold triple protection half-pad but every time we stopped by the Ecogold booth either nobody was there or we couldn't get the folks who were there to acknowledge our presence.  Very disappointing.  So, I started looking for a shop that had Ogilvy pads.  We lucked out and found one.  I love this pad!  I had an Ecogold for my dressage saddle that I traded for some lessons and I liked it but I LOVE the Ogilvy.  It fills in the holes behind Charlie's shoulder perfectly and I no longer need to use a breastplate thanks to this pad.  And in all honesty, if it's good enough for Reed Kessler, it's most likely good enough for me. :)

 
Charlie's lovely new half pad.  It's brown with black binding and tan piping.  He likes it almost as much as I do.

Last purchase was a halter with chrome hardware and a chrome nameplate from Albright's.  They had to make it special and it just arrived today.  It's sumptuous.  

And there you have it, everything I got at Rolex.  I went with a budget in mind and seeing as it was very generous, I was pretty convinced I was going to stick to it.  Well, I spent 2x as much as I planned. Oh well, good thing there's a bunch of overtime opportunities coming up.

All has been well on the Charlie front.  We've signed up for a schooling horse trials (I'm still having my riding identity crisis) in two weeks.  Biggest issue right now is all the stinking rain.  I don't do riding in the rain - I like my tack too much.  But yesterday I was reduced to just that.  It wasn't raining to terribly hard when I went out for trot sets but we dodged a few drops.  Overnight, it rained more than 2 inches and had bunches of thunder and lightening.  Lovely.

A pic from our ride last night.

Lesson tomorrow as well as a date with the farrier.




Monday, May 6, 2013

Rolex XC!

Day 3 saw SuperMom and I up bright and early to try and avoid the cross country day rush.  We got to the horsepark around 9:20 which gave us 40 minutes to get in the gate and out on course.  Perfectly timed if I do say so myself.  All in all it was a great day.  I think we walked the whole course 2 times which is a long way when you consider it's approx 4 miles long.

 
Meghan O'Donoghue and Pirate.  Quite possibly my favorite American pair of the weekend.  She looked like a seasoned pro even though this was their first 4 star.  Great story as well - she bought Pirate (an OTTB) when she was 15 and he was 3.  Loved them!

 
Becky Holder and Can't Fire Me.  So sad she fell so close to home.

 
Lynn Symansky and Donner.  My second favorite pair of the weekend and the highest placed American's.  Just in case you didn't know, Donner's an OTTB.  Go OTTBs!!!

 
Andrew Nicholson and Calico Joe.  How annoyed was I to only see the them gallop by.  Hard lesson learned - pay attention to the order of go.

 
Cute appy outrider.

Buck Davidson and Park Trader.  All of Buck's horses are incredible jumpers.

Kristi Nunnick and R-Star.  Lovely mare but wholly cow did she look strong.

 
Crowds.  Lots of people and everyone said this was a light year - can't imagine what it looks like when it's really "crowded."

Pirate in the vet box.  Let me tell you, he was ready to go again!

Unfortunately we were just too far away to get good pictures in SJ.  To be honest, I was really disappointed in the majority of the American riders.  It's pretty apparent that most of them (including the big names) need to spend some time in the jumper ring - especially if they want to be competitive against the likes of Andrew Nicholson, WFP, Michael Jung, and all the other amazing event riders from Europe and the lands down under.  Peter Barry of Canada was great as was Hawley Bennett.  Lynn Symansky was a shining star for the US and Andrew Nicholson is a master!  Honestly, after this, I can't even remember who William Fox-Pitt is...

Just some general, overall impressions of the event - they need signs, something, anything, telling you where to go.  On Thursday, we had no idea where we were going when we left the car.  We just sort of followed some people hoping they were going to the event.  And it would have been nice if there were some signs pointing towards the XC start.  The horsepark is really, really large (I think I mentioned that before) and some more shuttles would have been nice along with signs saying where they stopped so you could maybe wait for one if you were beat and really didn't want to walk.  Also, I wish they had sent riders out at 3 minute intervals instead of 5 and the hour and a half lunch break kinda sucked.  I really like Phillip Dutton's idea of adding some sort of 3 star - would have been awesome to see more ponies.  At the end of the day, 40 or so horses isn't very many.

Now for the good things!  The stadium is beautiful and made for a lovely time watching dressage and SJ.  Everyone working the event was super nice and very helpful.  While many on the COTH forum poo-poo'd the shopping, I thought it was fine.  I don't know why folks expect things to be marked down 90% just because they're at a big show.  There were some deals to be had but I just enjoyed being able to touch and see bunches of stuff that I normally only get to see in a catalog or on my computer.  The weather was perfect - not too cold, not too hot, and not really rainy.  The decorations on the XC jumps were amazing.  A lot of time and effort was put into the design of each jump and they were lovely.  All in all, we had an amazing time.  Feel very lucky to have been able to go and going with SuperMom just made it that much better!