Friday, November 7, 2014

A quickie...

No, I have not dropped off the face of the earth again.  Charlie's fine despite trying to convince me he broke his leg (seriously, he's fine - a little ice goes a long way!).  The job hunt has been taking up just about all of my time and fingers crossed, it's about to pay-off.  I have a final on-site interview for the job I really want on Tuesday and another final interview for my very close second choice a week from Monday.  All your happy job thoughts seem to be paying off so if you could just send a few more good thoughts our way, Charlie and I would greatly appreciate it!

Excuse the dirty nose...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Life ticks on

Not a whole bunch has happened in the last two weeks.  Charlie lost a shoe (only his second of the summer!) and it took me a few days to get him to The Farrier.  **Just incase everyone's forgotten because it has been almost a year since I blogged - I have to take Charlie to The Farrier who lives about 1.5 hrs away in the Tryon area.  He's totally worth it!  Not only is The Farrier awesome at his job, he's super interesting to talk to - lots of cool stories (he's from the SF Bay area and went to farrier school in Ireland!)** After going to The Farrier, I had to work - boo!  And then I had school work - double boo!

I've been able to ride the last couple of days and it's been glorious!  The weather has finally chilled out - literally and figuratively.  I scored some boots for Charlie in my first ever Facebook group purchase - CWD Equifit leather open fronts with matching hinds.  Basically brand-new!  They're lovely.  Sigh…

Love them!  He looks so classy except for the chewed up left front where someone decided losing a shoe along with half his foot was a good idea...

I feel like fall is finally in the air - this past weekend it didn't get above 65.  Heaven!  And while that's a little cool for this time of the year and we've already bounced back up into the high 70s, I'll take it.  Fall is here!

A little unsure of the 65 degree weather with gale force winds!

Considering how little he's been schooled lately, Charlie has been wonderful.  I've been working a lot on the walk when I do ride and really focusing on pushing him into the bridle with my leg and seat.  He doesn't like it but we're slowly but surely getting there.  One thing I really struggle with is knowing when he's truly straight so while we've been walking (and walking), I've been practicing keeping both legs on to try and keep his hiny aligned with his shoulders.  Somedays are better than others…

I'm a little stressed (ok, a lot stressed) because between work, school, and the reserves, I'm looking for a new job.  One that pays better and has better advancement opportunities so keep your fingers crossed for us as this definitely affects the pony too!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Truly MIA...

I never really meant to take a break, it just kind of happened.  And I became one of those bloggers I hate - ok, hate's a little strong but you get what I'm saying.  Nothing bad has happened unless you count having to write 50 million papers on stuff I've already written papers on.  Let's just say school, life, work, etc got in the way and blogging wasn't really a priority.  I still read everyone's blogs - I love living vicariously through others!

So the catch-up - winter was good and bad.  Good because I spent lots of time in Southern Pines and Aiken but bad because it rained just about every other day and when it wasn't raining, it was snowing.  Yes, snowing.  In South Carolina.  What the heck?!?!  We went to a few shows where Wonderpony was wonderful (some things never change) and he got to frolic with his best friend, Alex.

Winning! In Southern Pines.

They love each other - Charlie is on the left…

Then I got caught-up in a bunch of stuff for the Navy.  Lot's of training in VA which while good money, left Charlie doing nothing in SC.  One good thing of going to VA (besides the money!) was reconnecting with an old friend who I hadn't seen in 10 yrs.  Abby lived right on the beach (she has since moved back to the Washington, D.C. area) so I thought it would be a great idea to take a mini-vacay there in June.

Seriously, this is right out Abby's back door.  It was amazing!

After going to VA Beach, it seemed like the barn owner's were gone non-stop and I was left taking care of the farm.  We all know how much I love the heat so needless to say, not a whole lot of riding going on as all my energy was consumed taking care of the farm.

I did ride a few times though!

I went through a really tough spot this summer.  I thought very seriously about selling Charlie.  Honestly, I'm 35, not married (and not entirely sure I ever will be - don't worry, I'm totally ok with this), and I don't make a ton of money - sometimes I feel horribly irresponsible having a horse when I should be using that money to save for a down payment on a house (don't really want one of these either) or something else equally boring.  I'm also contemplating grad school and having Charlie sometimes makes me feel trapped.  Kinda like having a kid except I feel fairly certain Charlie is more fun. ;)  Then I decided no way could I sell so maybe I should just look for some sort of free lease situation.  I traveled down this road a fair way, even going so far as to talk to a potential leasee. Then I went to visit Cherie in PA.

Riding among the corn in Chester County, PA.

Cherie was willing to help me sell or lease Charlie, whatever I decided.  Her husband was on the sell bandwagon - he made me cry at dinner one night and again when we were talking in the barn (he was just being honest - not mean).  I had already decided no to selling and was pretty much ok with the lease-thing until Cherie made a comment that Charlie may not come back the way I let him go - meaning his personality may change.  His personality is the reason I love him so much.  Once she said that, I knew he wasn't going anywhere.  While it might not be the smartest financial decision, it is the smartest health decision I've ever made.  Who needs to retire anyway, right?

Love this face!

So I've taken the pressure off myself from a riding standpoint.  I'l ride when I can and enjoy petting his pretty nose when I can't and not feel guilty about wasting an uber talented horse.  I'm a little bummed that I'm not doing more with him but he doesn't care so why should I?  I'm going to try to blog more - I guess I feel sometimes like what's the point, we don't do anything interesting unless you count our trips to the farrier (who by the way is seriously AWESOME!) but I will try to do better.  I love reading about everyone else's journey no matter where they are going so I guess some folks may like reading about our meanderings.


Charlie has had a wonderful summer - he's fat (as in borderline obese), shiny, healthy, and most importantly happy.  And so am I.

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…

- 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

- 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!


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...