Saturday, February 28, 2015

Updates

The deed is done, y'all. The boarding agreement is signed.
This will be Boca's new home April 1st.

Drool-worthy

I gave notice today to the BM and my friends. It was strangely anti-climactic.
No one was very surprised. Most people said they would have made the same choice.
I still need to tell the BO. He wasn't around today, so I will try again tomorrow.
I don't expect him to react badly, but you just never know.

After my trip to both barns, I headed up to SmartPak to return the Piper breeches.
I tried on every pair in the store that was within my price range and learned that I am an anomaly in the world of today's Hunter/Jumper riders.

1) Smartpak had a sale on discontinued TS colors.
TS breeches were to be had for $95. Never having tried them on before, I put them on, expecting miracles. And, I absolutely hated them. Hate.

2) I do not like side-zip breeches. I know the are the "in thing". 
I don't know if it was the cut, who knows, but I didn't like them at all.

3) I also did not like low-rise breeches. I know I am not as young as I once was, but I thought I would like the new low-rise style. Again, I was wrong.

At this point, feeling as though I had tried on every brand of breech in the store (with the exception of those over $200 -- not gonna go there), I gave up and considered going home. This was worse than bathing suit shopping.

At the last minute, I decided since I was already up there and Dover was 5 minutes away, I might as well try my luck there. And that, my friends, is where I struck gold.

Meet my new favorites:

The Riding Sport Competitor II Full Seat Breeches.



Thursday, February 26, 2015

True Confessions: Connection


I have always struggled with Connection.


No, not that kind of connection (well actually, yes that too).
But the kind of connection I am talking about is a kind of deeper emotional connection.

I have owned horses before. I have been responsible for their physical and mental well being. I have leased the same horse for extended periods of time.

But I can honestly say I have never felt deeply, emotionally connected to them. Sure, I liked them a lot. I worried about them and provided for them. But there seemed to be this whole other level that I never got to.

I never understood other people who let their riding be limited by or who changed their goals based on what their horse was capable of or wanted to do. Or people who ran into financial hardship, but refused to sell their horse. When that happened, yeah it was sad, but you did what you had to do and moved on. Right?

I think my level of detachment had roots in my formative riding years. I was a once-a-week, 1/2 hour, up-down lesson kid. The rotation of ponies changed, and I pretty much loved them all. Some I loved more than others, but I was pretty much happy to ride whatever came along.

Then came Speedy. Speedy was a new lesson pony that came into the program. He was called Speedy Gonzales, but he was actually quite slow. For whatever reason, I clicked with Speedy and rode him well. Even my instructor noticed. She mentioned to me the option to lease Speedy. I was over the moon with the idea. Until I got in the car to go home. When I mentioned the idea to my mom, it was immediately vetoed for financial reasons. We fought bitterly. I cried quite a bit. It was so unfair. Speedy and I were going places. 
Until we were not.

Speedy moved on to another leasee and was taken out of the lesson program.
This scenario was to play out over and over. I went to a summer camp for horseback riding. At the end of every summer, the horses were free leased out to campers for the winter. I can't tell you how many phone calls home there were, begging and pleading my parents to let me bring home Domino, my favorite camp horse.

Domino



Somewhere along the line, I decided to adopt the policy of "love the one you're with."
There was an old song by Crosby, Stills and Nash. The lyrics went "If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with."

I decided that made sense. From then on, I enjoyed riding, but to protect myself, I think I limited my deeper connection to any particular horse. I rode horses that were not mine. They could be bought, sold, leased or moved at any time.

The reason I drag up all the ghosts of the past now, is that for the first time, feel like things have changed. Boca may not be the fanciest horse in the barn, or the most gifted or the best bred, but something happens when I see his kind, goofy face.


If Boca turns out to not want to jump or play hunters, I'm not sure I could let him go.
If my husband loses his job or I fall ill, I'm not sure his ticket to go is signed.

When I see his big white face, my spirits lift, and I am happy in a way that I haven't been in a long, long time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

First World Problems: The Mane



So I have mentioned before how Boca was intended to be a roping horse.
As such, his mane was trained over to the left side.

For the very small schooling show we went to in October, I did train Boca's mane over to the right. It was surprisingly easy to do, and came out pretty well.



After the show, I didn't really keep up with it and it sort of converted to a wild, 
half-and-half look. We were heading into winter, so to keep things simple, 
I trained it back over to the left.

I haven't touched it since. It desperately needs some attention. 
It needs to be pulled and trimmed and cleaned up. 

But I can't decide - left side or right?

Sigh. 

These are the exciting things I have to focus on while I wait for Spring.

Monday, February 23, 2015

In Other News... Winter Sucks and I'm Over It


WARNING: DO NOT READ FURTHER. WHINE AHEAD.




Ok, consider yourself warned.

I have tried to stay positive. I really really have.

But the last 4 weeks have been record-breakingly TERRIBLE in Massachusetts.

Hundreds of roofs (rooves?) have been falling in across the state. At least 5 of them have been local barns. People and horses are literally dying. It seriously sucks and I am 100% done with winter.


Except winter JUST WON'T LET GO.


No, just No.

Saturday I arrived to the barn to find a sweaty, steamy horse waiting for me.
In his stall. In the middle of the day.

It seems that the electric fencing cannot handle the snow load and is no longer electric.
The bored horses have figured this out, and have decided to start letting themselves out at random.

My fellow boarder pulled in on Saturday to find Boca cantering down the driveway. 
She blocked his access to the road with her truck (quick thinking) and jumped out. Meanwhile Boca had run over to the paddock with his favorite buddy in it.
She was able to grab him and put him in his stall.

This is apparently the second time this week Boca and his paddock mates have gotten loose.

When I arrived to the barn on Sunday, it was a different group of 4 horses' turn to get loose and cavort around the property. The general consensus among the boarders was
'at least the roof hasn't fallen in yet.' This is what it has come to.




Winter, if you kill my horse, I will KILL YOU.


Also, FYI, I am insanely jealous of all you people out in blogland that are able to ride.
And take lessons. And go to shows. And jump things. And do all the dressage.
And in general improve and progress.

Exciting News

Guess who has some exciting news?

Sunday Winter Selfie
 
Saturday was my appointment at the super awesome barn.
I met the Barn Owner for a tour of the farm and to learn more about the opening.
 
First, I have to say that I really liked the BO. She and her husband purchased the property 4 or 5 years ago, and have since made extensive improvements. She works a regular 9-5 job, in addition to running the farm and managing her own 4 horses.
 
The available stall is in the front barn, which is their rough board/co-op barn. Each boarder is responsible for their own horse, plus (1) turnout or turn in shift per week. The open shift for the incoming boarder will be the Sunday PM shift.
 
Turnout is in individual paddocks and is usually 10 hours, weather permitting.
This is excellent for Boca - he likes to be out as much as possible.
 
Boarders have full use of the facility. This includes the indoor with premium footing, the outdoor with lights and jumps, and the dressage ring. Hacking is also permitted in 2 grass fields and there is a seasonal outside course set up in one of the grass fields.
 
The farm is on the same trail system that I am currently on. There are actually 5 or 6 barns in the area that are all connected by these trails.
 
The barn is multi-discipline. Boarders are welcome to bring in their own trainers, vets, farriers, ect. Current boarders ride hunter/jumper and dressage. There is even a guy who boards his appaloosa and rides western. :)
 
There is free trailer parking and a no drama policy.
 
The cost difference between the new barn and my current barn is $44.00/month.
 
I decided that I would take the stall. I worked out a deal with another co-op boarder. She will do Boca's stall and hay/grain set up Monday - Friday. I will pay her a day rate for 3 days a week, and in exchange will do her mare's stall and set up on Saturdays and Sundays.
 
My plan is to give 30 days notice at my current barn this weekend.
My hope is that, if I leave on good terms, I am leaving the door open to return,
if for some reason things don't work out at the new barn.
 
I will be sad to leave all the people I truly enjoy at my current barn.
But at the end of the day, I am in this to enjoy myself and also to try to ride and improve.
 
I hope Boca will be as happy at the new place as he is at the current one.
 
But you know how the old saying goes
"Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained."


Friday, February 20, 2015

What's In A Name? A Show Name, That Is.

 
 
We have documented my issues with naming my creatures in the past (click here).
 
So it should come as no surprise that I have always struggled at coming up with a
good show name.
 
I marvel at people who manage to produce clever and appropriate barn names and show names for their beasts, seemingly out of thin air.
 
Assuming I ever get to ride my pony again, we do have plans to show this year.
 
And so I turn to you, fellow bloglanders, to vote on a decent show name for Boca.
 
My top two choices have always been:
 
BOCA GRANDE
KEY LARGO
 
(for the forementioned Florida connection)
 
I also kicked around but pretty much dismissed the following:
 
- 3rd Time's the Charm
- Kismet
- Happily Ever After
- Sundance Kid
 
The first three sounded too cutesy and the last one not original enough, which made them not shortlist contenders
 
I would also entertain suggestions, so feel free to throw them out there.
 
Blogland, what are your thoughts?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Updates

Update # 1
I have made an appointment to go look at super awesome barn.
I am meeting the farm owner at 12:00 on Saturday for a tour.


There is a lot to consider, but I can't make an educated decision without getting a better feel for the property. On my only visit to the farm, I shipped in to use their indoor. I had Boca with me, so I only really got to see the indoor and the parking lot.
 
 
Update # 2
I HATED the Smartpak Pipers. HATED them.
As in, could not get them off my body fast enough.
When I opened the package, I was immediately disappointed.
The wheat color was really more greenish to my eyes.

I have no problem with green breeches - in fact I own two pairs
 already. But I really detest the beige/tan/khaki disguised as green that many companies are selling. If I want green breeches, I will buy them.
If I buy wheat breeches, please send me wheat colored breeches.

Second, the fit. As soon as I got my ankles in them, I knew I was in trouble.
I think one of the reasons I dislike breeches in general is that I don't like form fitting pants.

The Pipers were super tight on my legs. Sausage casing tight.
I ordered the same size I wear in my Devon Aires, which fit really well.

They could just be cut different. But what is preventing me from just ordering the next size up is the boxy, square cut of the pelvis area. I call this look "Now I have a dink."

Which leads to...


Update # 3

This calls for a trip to Smartpak and/or possibly Dover retail store.
I need to go try on breeches and see what fit I like.


I am coming to realize that shopping for breeches is like bathing suit shopping.
Or worse. The sinking feeling I got when pulling up those ill-fitting breeches. Ugh.


Update #4
We'll call this Weigh-in Thursday, because I am a day late.
Last week I lost 1.5 lbs. I am really, really excited.
 

Overall, my eating habits have vastly improved.
I'm kind of shocked at my own committment to it.




Wednesday, February 18, 2015

HELP .... DILEMMA

Ok blogging community. Your help is needed. I have a dilemma.


A stall has opened up at the super awesome barn down the street.
The facilities are amazing. I may be able to make the numbers work.

Super awesome indoor with super awesome jumps

The issue? The current barn I am at is the happiest I have been.
I really like the culture there. The community is fun and supportive.
It is all adults. No kids, no drama. Boca is happy there.
  
But, I have not been able to ride consistently since October.
 
I am posting some photos of the super awesome barn for you to drool over.
 

 
 

But, what is more important? Facilities? Or Culture?
 
 
Also, I am not sure my current goals are in line with the super awesome barn.
I don't want to commit to a hunter/jumper only program.

I am interested in doing some 2-phases, some hunter-paces and maybe dabbling in dressage.

I'm not sure what Boca wants to do yet. Heck, I don't even really know if he jumps.

I mean, I know he will physically go over a low obstacle. But will he *enjoy* jumping the way he will need to in order to do even low-level pursuits. That question has yet to be answered.

Fellow bloggers, help a sister out!

For information on my current barn, Click Here.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Upping My Threads Game

So yesterday I scored these babies online at the Smartpak President's Day Sale.

Piper Full Seat Breeches by Smartpak.

Admittedly, my breeches game is VERY weak.
I've always been more comfortable schooling in jeans and I am incredibly cheap (ahem)
frugal, so I have a hard time paying big money for clothes.

But, I'm really excited, because I have never tried full seats.

 My thinking was threefold:
1) I have always wanted to try full seats
2) I like the fun trim on the Pipers
3) I plan to do a few 2-Phase shows, and these will be legal.

The other item I would like to up my game on is saddle pads.

I currently have about 4 saddle pads, 2 of which were hand-me-downs from another rider, and are horrible colors. I would like to get a few new neat and tidy ones, to clean up our overall picture. I'll probably wait to get these at the Dover tent sale this spring.

If you have noticed a theme, it is that I tend to be very thrifty with my non-essential riding gear.

I am kind of a minimalist in general.  I very rarely jump on anything trendy or new.
For instance, I have never owned Uggs or an iPod. Or an iPhone.

I stick with what is functional, affordable and reliable. I'm not completely immune to trends, but I am very slow to come around. They have generally proven to have staying power and value before I climb on board.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Have Trailer, Will Travel

So one of the coolest things about the past year was that I got my very own first trailer.

I have always wanted a trailer of my very own, so I can go do *all the things* and not be beholden to anyone else for transport.

BEHOLD MY RIG:


The truck is technically hubby's work truck, but I get to use it for all the horse things.
It is a mid-2000's Toyotoa Tundra. It came with a factory installed towing package,
so it was nearly trailer ready.

The trailer is a 1989 Kingston 2-Horse Bumper Pull, Extra-Wide, Extra-Tall.
I was very lucky, in that I was able to purchase it from a very good friend of my trainer.
Buying an older model trailer second-hand is a little nerve-wracking,
as obviously, precious cargo.
 
Our first trip in the new trailer - everyone survived!
 
A few things to consider if you are thinking of buying a used trailer:
 
- Make sure the frame is solid.
  The frame is bearing the weight of your precious pony, so make sure it is in good condition
  and damage-free.
- Floor. Make sure the floor of the trailer is solid. No rotting or weak spots.
- Wiring. Wiring = Brakes and Lights, so, very important to be in good working order.
- Trailer Tires. Just like a car, the trailer tires should have good tread and should be rated
  to carry the weight of the trailer + cargo.
- Ramp. Make sure the ramp is solid, not rotted, and that the mats are in good condition and
  secure.
- Latches. Door, ramp, window latches must all be in tip top shape
- Weight Rating make sure your trailer is rated to accomodate the weight of your pony +
  friends.
- Windows. If the trailer has windows, make sure they work. You don't want your pony to
  overheat.
 
With great freedom comes great responsibility.
 
Having a trailer is a wonderful perk. It gives you access to so many cool opportunites.
But along with that comes the incredible responsibility to your own and other's safety.
Most likely, you are towing more weight than any other vehicle on the road, with the execption of commercial tranport vehicles.
 
It is up to you to operate and maintain your equipment so that everyone arrives at their destination safely!


Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Show Barn (Continued...)



My first and only experience with a Hunter "Show Barn" kicked off in June 2012.

Before that, I had been blithely riding in a backyard barn, grossly unaware of the culture surrounding the Hunter/Jumper show world. I naively assumed that people were judged on their horsemanship and ability to ride. I had not yet made the acquaintance of a hairnet.


No hairnet and a green jacket. Quelle Horror!

By moving to the new barn, I had made a great choice for my personal safety. But, it wasn't long before I realized "Uh-oh Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore."


There were some good things about SB Trainer's program. SBT was an exceptional rider and an excellent instructor. She emphazised safety and riding and showing a horse that was appropriate to your level of skill and ability. There was absolutely no drugging of any horses. The horses behaved, or they were quickly moved on to another home or program.

After that is where the wheels fell off the bus.
Show barn quickly devolved into an episode of Mean Girls.



There was a clique of teen and pre-teen girls that made up the show team, complete with its own Regina George. These girls were not comfortable anywhere but in the confines of a ring. They looked down their noses at any discipline other than hunters. It was important to have the "right" things - a $500 helmet, TS Breeches, a custom CWD saddle - and show at the "right" venues. There was quite a bit of backstabbing and even malicious destruction of property.

Unfortunately, some of these values came from the top down. SBT had a program, and you had better be on board. There were certain requirements to meet, such as the right polos, the right monogrammed stable blanket and the right scrim sheet in stable colors, monogrammed, of course. Woe betide anyone who bought their horse a zebra-print halter or fun colored saddlepad.


Matchy-matchy

I even overheard her say that she liked her students to wear their matching barn jackets at shows because it would 'intimidate the other competitors.' Umm, no.

I tried my best to be a good team member. I was never late for lessons and paid my bills on time. I tried to be supportive and positive to fellow riders. Despite my efforts, it was clear that I was not part of the 'in crowd'. Although it was ridiculous feeling ostracized in my 30's, I defintiely got the impression I was being talked about, mean girls style.

I left show barn in August 2013 after selling my TB mare. About a month after I left, I was contacted by a former fellow adult boarder, who asked why I hadn't stayed on after selling my mare. I was honest with her about my feelings. Although she wouldn't tell me what was said, she did confirm my suspicions that I had been talked about behind my back.

The reason why was that I hadn't fully bought in - I didn't drink the kool-aide.
I'm not sure if all "show barns" are similar to what I experienced, but if that is the pervading culture, then it is not for me.




Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How I Accidentally Ended Up at a Show Barn

Two years ago, my equestrian journey found me at a show barn.



The story of how I ended up there started innocently enough. I was still riding at my old trainer's barn, the trainer who had last been at the height of her game in the 70's and 80's. We had no indoor, so over the winter, I secretly took a mid-week lesson at a nearby barn to keep up my riding fitness. At the time, I didn't know it was a "show barn". It was just a barn that was local to me that had an indoor and a good lesson program. 

While I was there, however, I noticed a remarkable thing. I was not regularly falling off, nor was I at any point in fear for my life. Sure, the school horses were not big, fancy or athletic, but they allowed me to work on myself.

In the spring, I discontinued my mid-week lessons at the show barn and went back to old trainer's barn. I was full leasing her baby, a 4 year old that I had backed and started (with her supervision) the previous year.


First time on.

That spring continued with all the foibles of riding and showing a green horse. In particular, a green horse that had been gelded late and had a bit of an attitude problem. A big, sulky, pushy gelding that was not afraid to take a pot shot at you on the ground, with either teeth or hooves.

It was around this time that I started to feel that riding this horse was not fun. I was starting to realize that he needed a stronger rider than I, one that could push him through the sticky spots and also give him the confidence he needed.

Not Confident

It all came to a head at a local horse show in June. It was one of those shows where I felt like THAT GIRL. You know her. The one on the crazy horse that everyone tries to stay away from, the one everyone whispers about and points at. I got yelled at in the warm-up by a stuck up, snotty, sunhat-wearing trainer. My horse was a screaming, sweating mess. I felt out of control and embarrassed, and I was paying $200 a day for this "privilege".


Also Not Confident

Show barn was also in attendence that day. I looked over at the girls in their matching barn jackets, sipping their diet cokes while their quiet horses dozed in the sun on the ends of their loosely held reins.

I wanted to be one of them. I wanted a barn jacket with my name on it. I wanted to laugh and joke and drink a cold diet coke between classes. I wanted not to fear for my life or the lives of small children and innocent bystanders. I wanted my show goals to be more than just "Please God, let me not fall off or be injured today."



I went home that day and made a decision. I was leaving old trainer's barn and joining the new barn.




I went the very next day and tracked down show barn trainer at another local show. 
I found her and I told her I wanted in. I wanted to be on her team.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Struggling

I'm kind of struggling at the moment.

I don't really have a lot to blog about, in terms of recent riding activity.
I do have this cool picture that I took this weekend that I love:


Boston is experiencing epic amounts of snow. Record snow totals are being broken left and right. I don't have a ring to ride in, and it isn't safe to trailer out anywhere.
It is barely safe to drive our cars.

This is the progression of snow totals, as evidenced by my deck.
There is a table and chairs under there somewhere. I may see them again sometime this April.

Storm 1
Storm 2

Storm 3 (Current)

Also, we have these lovely stalactites of ice hanging from our roof, in multiple places.
This just can't be a good thing.



I feel like I am literally living in the Disney movie "Frozen".

On a more positive note, the hubby and I have decided to both get on the healthy eating bandwagon. This is due in part to me being inspired by the blog-o-sphere, so hats off to you!

Sunday we went to the grocery store and loaded up on healthy fruits, veggies, carbs and proteins. I had this nice healthy smoothie yesterday, instead of a half gallon of ice cream.


Night time is the hardest for me. That is when I want to nosh on all the bad things.
Hubby and I went to bed pretty hungry last night. I thought it was pretty cute when he rolled over in bed, in the dark, and asked me if we would still be able to do our Friday pizza night.

Hon, it's Monday.



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Winter Riding

Make it go away...

Riding amongst the snowflakes should be a novelty.

Ooooh soooo pretty

But its not, and I'm so over it.

Walking is soooo exciting

Florida horse wants to know why he is covered in snowflakes.

Why you do this to me?

Sadly, we have another 6-12 inches forecasted to fall in the next 48 hours.

Is it too late to quit my job and go show groom at WEF?

Friday, February 6, 2015

This Makes Me Sad


A few days ago, this article, posted on Horsecollaborative.com, was floating around on my facebook feed. It is a topic that has been touched upon on a few blogs, but I wanted to add my 2 Cents, based on my own experiences.

I was afraid of this horse. This was not fun.

People, you should not be afraid to ride your horse. If you are, then something is wrong.

We all have moments of doubt, anxiety and frustration in riding. That is part of challenging ourselves and learning new skills. Sometimes it is necessary to push yourself out of your comfort zone to get to the next level of experience.

BUT

Fear, Anxiety, Doubt and Frustration should not be the dominant characteristics of your day-to-day experiences with your horse. If they are, you do not have the right horse or the right program. Period.


 

I'm not at all saying you should give up on having goals and aspirations as a rider. But be realistic. Have goals that are within the framework of your reality. Be honest with yourself. Set aside your ego. Take a hard look at what your skill level really is. What your life looks like outside of riding. Are you a wife? A mother? Do you have pets? What is your financial picture like? Do you work a 9-5 desk job?
 
We all wish we were the fearless balls of rubber that we were as kids. The days when we would get on anything, and if we fell off, we would bounce back up with a laugh and do it again. For many of us, those days are gone. And they are not coming back. Ever.
 
There is no shame in riding a horse appropriate to your reality. Sure, he or she might not be a 10+ mover, a 17h stunner with the ability to go Prelim or above. But above all, riding should be fun. It is too expensive, time consuming and dangerous not to be.
 

Pick something that is appropriate to your skill level, your physical abilities, the time you have available to ride and the money you have to spend on training and facilities. If it is not a match, move on. Life is too short.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

10 Reasons Why My Horse is Awesome


1) Chrome
They say a good horse is never a bad color, but it doesn't hurt that Boca is a good horse and happens to be my favorite color. Chromed out red horses are my absolute favorite.

2) Brain
Boca is both brave and curious, which I love. If something is new and different, he wants to approach it and check it out, not run away.

3) Affectionate
He loves people, and is the most demonstrative horse I have ever met.


4) Great with other horses
He has great social skills and can be turned out in groups or alone.


5) He enjoys being groomed

Oooh that's the spot

6) Boca is good for the Vet, Farrier and Dentist -- no sedation needed

7) He loads and trailers great and *BONUS* ties to the trailer



8) He is the same horse off property as he is at home


Whoa, wild beast

9) He loves water
Once he learned there were no alligators in Massachusetts, he thought that water was pretty neat. 



10) He takes care of me
I have felt him re-balance under me if I lose my balance. He never takes advantage if I am not at my best.