Saturday, December 23, 2017

Happy Holidays!

Is this food?
It doesn't look like food...
Hey guys, is this thing food?
This. Is. Not. Food.
You've got to be kidding me, human.
I hear sleigh bells!  It's Santa, and he has FOOD!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Grown up halters!

I mean, it's on the smallest of holes and still a bit baggy, but he can wear an Average Horse-sized halter now!

Looking more and more like a big boy.
I tried to tell my DH that it's a manly halter.  Apparently silver dots on the metal that kind of look like rhinestones if you squint disqualify it as manly.  lol

Thursday, November 30, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 30 - Your future with horses

The realistic view here is that I hope to always have a riding horse (or two).  Or at least a horse or two.

If I were unrealistic?  Gimme lottery money and I've got plans.  lol

And hey, look!  I wrote something for all 30 prompts... even if they weren't all written on the right days. :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 29 - A style/trend in tack/riding apparel that you don’t like

Random Pinterest image, but these things are a dime a dozen.
Crosses and crucifixes.
Oh honey, no. I'm sure Jesus loves you too, but this is getting into the creepy stalker-level love.  From here.
And beaded browbands that are basically a single or double string of beads, a bit of leather at each end to attach to the bridle, and nothing else. 
They all just look like a recipe for a cascade of beads down your horse's face to me.
There are exceptions, but I'm not generally a fan of browbands without the leather backing up the beadwork, actually; it just seems so fragile.

Oh, and special dishonorable mention goes to the beaded browbands where there's no leather behind the browband and the browband is either silver tube beads, a chain, or a rope of plain white crystals.
From here on Amazon.
I know it's for the conservative dressage ring folks, but... I just find it so ugly.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 28 - Helmet or no helmet?



Shown: not my helmet.  That's the helmet of one of my BOs the day a green QH mare freaked out and the BO bailed instead of letting the horse try to jump the 5' arena fence to get away from the "monster" on her back.

That's right.  This was from an intentional bail-out.

I was 100% pro-helmet before I watched the ambulance haul her off for a night of observation, y'all.  Talk about reinforcement of an idea.

(I mean, I'll ride without a helmet in a dude ranch trail ride.  And I forgot to put on my helmet one day, on about the safest horse at the barn.  But that's about it.)

Monday, November 27, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 27 - You know you're an equestrian when….. (Give 5 original ones)

...You mourn the poor, dead saddles nailed to the walls in Western-themed restaurants.

...Your tornado shelter area has your fancy tack in it, just in case.

...Your bottle of Murphy's Oil Soap isn't for the furniture.

...You critique the horses and riders in video games.
That's not a real horse color. C'mon.
...Despite the critiques, you still buy every last horse you can in video games, and stop and stare hopefully at the ones you can't buy.

I don't have a problem.  You have a problem.  Leave me and my flaming skele-horse alone!  lol

Sunday, November 26, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 26 - Biggest riding pet peeve

If you and your horse aren't safe, don't ride in the arena with other people.

If you notice people leaving the arena when you mount up, and it happens every time?  You're not safe.

If you notice people deliberately waiting for you to be done before they come into the arena, and it happens every time?  You're not safe.

If you and your horse aren't safe, don't ride in the arena with other people.

*shudder*  We had one of those at the current barn for a while.  She took her time getting saddled, etc - because she looooved her horsie and had to spend a bunch of time getting him prettied up and saddled - and we'd all either ride before she did or wait until she was done.  It wasn't that she was overtly unsafe - I mean, she wasn't hanging off of her horse or doing stupid shit.  It was more a problem of communication issues between a very sensitive horse and a very high-strung, not-sensitive rider.  They were like a thirty minute session with a powder keg and a lit match.  I honestly sat and watched them some days just to make sure someone was on hand to call 911 in case that horse actually blew.

Second place in the pet peeve list definitely goes to "let's all go stand at the gate at the end of the ride!"  Just... why.  Why would you do this?  Your horse already knows that the gate goes out, and that going out of the gate means you're probably done.  And the people that always do that also are the ones that always dismount by the gate.  Can we say "recipe for a massively gate-sour horse"?

NaBloPoMo Day 25 - Your dream trailer

I actually don't have a specific trailer in mind.

In the end, what I want is a trailer that will hold all of my horses.  At the moment, that's gonna be a two-horse rig...

Oh, and I need a truck to pull it.

It's the little things, right?

NaBloPoMo Day 24 - Your best riding friend

You know, it's funny... I don't really know that I have one.

I had a best friend in middle/high school that I took lessons with.  We were great friends outside of riding, but I found I had... questions... when it came to riding.  There were a lot of things she said that didn't line up with what she knew or did.  It just didn't add up.  And as we moved on into high school, she got into band and I didn't - and she got into some freaking crazy drama and I didn't - and we've grown very much apart these days.

Most of the intervening years were spent around a lot of teenagers.  Lots and lots of teenagers.  Which, I mean, I'm not a small-child-friendly human (ugh, so sticky and annoying, sorry mothers), but I can handle teenagers.  They just aren't typically my friends.

My BOs right now are the closest friends I've had in the horse business, really, and when we do get on and ride, we have a great time.  But I'm also conscious that they're best friends and I'm always going to be a bit of a third wheel, no matter how much fun we have.

I realize this sounds kind of... well... isolated and lonely?  It actually doesn't bother me.  I prefer to have someone around when I'm on horseback (and honestly, sometimes when I'm handling the horses at all), but "around" can be "watching on the barn cameras" and I'm fine.  I'm a little bit of an introvert.  :)

NaBloPoMo Day 23 - Critique a famous/well known equestrian jumping round of your choosing

I don't have a critique.  I just want William Fox-Pitt's lower leg skillz.  lol

NaBloPoMo Day 22 - The importance of riding in your life

For me, it's not so much the riding as it is the horses.

I mean, I'm the person who went for a good five years without even sitting on a horse after I lost so much confidence that a horse stomping flies while I was in the saddle was enough to make me melt down into tears.

And despite that, I still showed up every week at the barn.  I groomed horses, I fed horses, I worked my instructor's summer camp, I did stalls, I cleaned tack...

Even during the brief periods where I didn't have anywhere to ride, after my instructor decided she was getting out of the business and the first place I rode at fell through - I was still the person that can find and pet a horse anywhere.

No lie.  We went on vacation to Alaska, and I found a) the Kentucky Derby on TV at our lunch place, and b) a horse-drawn carriage that let me pet their horse.  lol
Different city, different state, different trip... yep, still found a horse.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 21 - Your perfect schooling outfit

Ooo.  I remember schooling outfits!


As a kid, I always had riding tights, a stable of t-shirts that were thirteen kinds of screwed up by the time I grew out of them, and a french braid.  In winter, I had the lined riding jeans.

These days... yeah, um, since I'm not elbow-deep in neon pink Swat for three months of the year and can pick and choose when I clean tack, I'm not nearly so hard on my clothing.  That tends to mean I wear whatever rises to the top of the laundry basket that morning and yesterday's jeans, because the horses aren't gonna care.

Witness my stunning couture.  And a variety of faces ranging from "laughing" to "concentrating" to "I'm going to murder you for making me stand in the heat because you forgot how to walk on lead."

Really, the only thing I want is a good pair of half-chaps that doesn't cost an arm and a leg... and the other leg... and three fingers...  In my much-thinner-than-now days, I was a M in calf height and an XL or XXL in calf circumference; it hasn't gotten smaller.

Monday, November 20, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 20 - Your favorite horse show

Oh, jeez.  I remember my least favorite show pretty clearly - makes an impression when the horse you're riding has a complete freak-out because something is new and you manage to disqualify yourself because you misheard the instructions from the judge - but the ones that weren't utter failures are... fuzzy.

...Probably because they're like 15 years ago.  I'm guessing.  lol

On the other hand, I have been to a show recently; I just didn't participate.  Unless 'manning a camera' is participating?  Because I did that.

We took the three babies from that year to a local schooling show for some exposure.  There were varying levels of enthusiasm...
I got this.
Trotting is icky and you're gonna get like two more steps out of me before I decide I'd rather walk, thanks.
But it was a good day.  :)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 19 - A discipline you would like to do that you’ve never done before

I think I've always known that I want to try eventing.

I mean, I grew up on a steady diet of eventing on TV - often, as I think we all know, the only horse TV you can get, aside from the Triple Crown races - and it never once occurred to me that those jumps were big and scary.

Yeah, uh, adult brain says different?  But I still want to do it some day...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 18 - Your grooming routine

I have three levels of grooming routine.

The Everyday
1. Catch horse and head over to the car trunk.
2. Optional scraping with a shedding curry.  Usually when there's mud, but every now and then because there's extra hair.
3. Curry and brush body and neck.
4. Brush legs and face.
5. Stare at mane and tail, decide not to bother.
6. Pick feet.

The Energetic
1. Steps 1-3 above.
2. Comb out forelock.
3. Despair of mane.  Tackle it with Cowboy Magic or the Canter detangler, a Tangle Tamer brush, and possibly scissors.
4. Despair of tail.  Tackle it with Cowboy Magic or the Canter detangler, a Tangle Tamer brush, and a lot of hope.
5. Cuss a lot.
6. Get stabbed by things stuck in the tail.
7. Bleed, cuss some more, and find a bandaid.
8. Finish the tail.
9. Run a comb through the mane, because at least it cooperates.
10. Braid the mane and forelock and take ridiculous pictures.
11. Pick feet.

The Bath
1. Put all electronics somewhere that's guaranteed to stay dry.
2. Hose off horse.
3. Put soap on horse.
4. Scrub.
5. Put on more soap.
6. Scrub.
7. Rinse horse.
8. Despair of mane and tail.
9. Put soap in mane and tail.
10. Massage hair and hope a miracle happens.
11. Rinse mane and tail.
12. Discover soap in horse's coat.
13. Rinse horse again.
14. Find more soap in the horse's coat.
15. Cuss.
16. Hose off horse again.
17. Pause to wring out shirt.
18. Find more soap and sigh.
19. Hose off horse and resolve to ignore any soap I find after that.
20. Pick feet.
21. Move horse away from the ant pile.
22. Comb out forelock.
23. Consider poor life choices, then pick up Cowboy Magic or the Canter detangler and a Tangle Tamer brush.
24. Tackle mane.
25. Contemplate whether tail is worth it.
26. Start on tail.
27. Seriously consider just cutting the tail off at hock level, because at least then someone can't get stabby bramble things in it.
28. Find a bandaid.
29. Take a break to commiserate with BOs about being completely and utterly soaked to the skin.
30. Finish tail.
31. Throw horse back in the pasture and curse at my 12 year old self, who loved horses with lots of hair.

Friday, November 17, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 17 - Your equestrian idol

I mean, I totally admire the eventers and I'm fascinated by them, and I have a huge amount of respect for the show jumpers, but when it comes down to it - these guys are the masters.

NaBloPoMo Day 16 - Your favorite equine memory

I have one weird one, and one normal one.

The weird one - look, I spent last year really excited that I had horses.  So of all the silly things, the memory of buying a bag of grain for one of my own horses is a total favorite.  It was a bag of grain!  For my horse!  That I own! 

(Y'all, I was maybe a little too excited. lol I know I cracked my BOs up a few times.  "You'll need to buy dewor-"  "Here you go!  Look, you gave me a calendar and told me what to buy on it, and I got to buy dewormer for my horses.  So, uh, here's mine, and here's an extra one for one of the your horses...")

Cessa says I'm an embarrassment sometimes.
The other was getting to see the Spanish Riding School when they came to Texas.  It was the first time I dragged my now-husband off on a random equine expedition.  It was stupidly expensive, a long-ass day/drive, and we were practically sitting on top of some kind of box in the seating that made seeing around it challenging, and I didn't care.  I so wish I had brought a camera.  The various touring shows that have Lippizans have nothing on the real thing.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 15 - If you could speak to any horse, dead or alive, what would you say?

You know, this is one of those questions I stare at for a long, long time.

I... have to admit I've never really felt a burning need to speak to a horse...?  I mean, are we talking about the horse having a human-like intelligence here, or are we talking about a talking horse with the walnut-sized brains we all kind of suspect they have?

And even if we're talking human-like intelligence, we'd then have to assume human-like understanding and vocabulary, wouldn't we?  Because otherwise, we're having a conversation about "the big noisy thing that comes by home a lot" or "the green stuff I stuff my face with all day" instead of "the train that goes by the pasture" and "grass."


It's possible I'm overthinking this.  By a lot.

Here. Have a photo of the one foal my BOs had this year.  None of this happened.  Look at the pretty baby.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 14 - Your dream barn/farm

Ok, like, seriously - who doesn't have this planned out?  lol

My wish list has changed over the years.  I used to want a big metal barn like is ridiculously common around here, because... that's what's common around here.  Metal barns?  We got 'em.

These days... well.

What I really want is a concrete block and metal barn, with a bunch of stalls.  Probably way more than I need; I have dreams of a 20 stall barn, and what on earth am I going to do with that many horses?  Anyway... I want the outside stalls and walls to be concrete block (reinforced, of course) for coolness; I've seen photos of barns like that, and to be honest... the dorm I lived in in college was concrete block, and it was freaking cold year-round.  I'd probably do half-height concrete block on the stall walls, metal bars above that for equine socializing, and a concrete floor with drains, that stuff they put on the floor of gyms for traction (both in stalls and the aisle), and then big, thick rubber mats in the stalls as well.  And I want big stalls, like 16x16 or 18x18.  I know they're more expensive to bed down than the 10x10s and 12x12s, but if I'm building with concrete blocks, gotta have space for foaling/stall rest, right?

I want a real concrete wash-rack in the barn.  And I want a grooming area like they had in one barn where I rode, where the three grooming stalls were basically thick wood uprights for the crossties, front and back, and between them was a horizontal rail at just about the perfect height to drop your saddle on while you worked.  (I think they were actually telephone poles, to be honest, but it was really cool.)

And I want a freaking indoor arena, not a covered one like we have around here; the covered ones are just... they're gloomy, and they're effing hot in summer and freaking cold in winter, and "oh, the wind will cool us down" is a lie.  I want a full-on indoor.  My only remaining decision there is whether to go with the Coverall-type fabric one or the metal one, because I'm not entirely sure how well the fabric ones hold up in our (occasionally exciting and hail-filled) Texas weather.  Either way, I want light.  And Big Ass Fans, and probably a swamp cooler.

And to top it all off, the barn will have solar panels on the roof.  And if the arena is metal, it will too.  There's enough sun on our house to make solar panels potentially worthwhile; you better believe I'd be putting up solar panels on a barn with a ton of roof space.  lol

Of course I want an outdoor arena, and a couple of pastures.  And a round pen, which I'd put in the middle of the nice big loop in front of the barn that the driveway would make so that trucks trailers can be easily extricated without a bunch of shenanigans.  (U-turns?  We don't need no stinkin' u-turns in Dream Farm! lol) 

And all the equine parts of the property would be double-fenced.  I want a nice wide alley between the actual pastures and the property fence, so a) I can "trail ride" there, and b) I have an extra layer of security in the event of loose horses.  Interior fencing would be something like Centaur, exterior probably a 5 or 6 foot pipe fence (criminally common around here) or pipe and wire fence.

The house would be at the front of the property, so that you'd have to drive past it to get to the horses - although I'd kind of like the barn to be close to the house as well, so I guess that's still a question.  And somewhere near the front as well, my husband wants a shop and space for his hobbies...

Monday, November 13, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 13 - A video of your horse/you riding

Mm.  Well, videos of me riding are ancient and I'm not entirely sure I have any of them in a digital format, but videos of the horses, I have.

Baby's first puddle:
And his birthday party:
And, not to be left out, Cessa followed me in polite confusion one day:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 12 - Favorite horse color


No idea.  lol

I really do love bay and brown horses - most of them, anyway.  There are certain shades of brown that just do not make an attractive bay horse.  (One unfortunate filly I knew was born a shade that one can only call 'mud', although she grew up to be a beautiful clear bay.)

If I had to pick a second favorite, bay dun or grullo.  Not really a fan of the red duns, but I do love a good black- or bay-based dun.

And hey, I caught up!

NaBloPoMo Day 11 - Find a horse for sale online that you would want to buy

Well, I mean... I've always wanted an Irish Draught (don't ask me why), and if we're going to go whole hog and dream...

This girl would be welcome in the barn.

So would she.

And honestly, so would she...

NaBloPoMo Day 10 - How your family/friends feel about your riding

The word you're looking for here is "politely mystified."

My parents aren't sure exactly what happened.  They've been willing to humor it, to a point, but it's not their thing and they generally don't 'get it.'
Willing to man the camera and the cookie bag, but that's about it.
My lovely husband doesn't entirely get it either, and - thanks to the ex-wife of his boss - is convinced that horses are so fragile that they can and will kill themselves by walking across a pasture.  But he'll humor me and come along to the barn now and then.  :)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 09 - Any injuries that occurred from riding

Oooo, yeah.  I've had one or two - maybe not as spectacular as some, but I am perfectly okay with that, universe!

The very first one wasn't the result of a fall - but it was the result of a totally barn-sour mare, an instructor not paying any attention, and a kid that didn't realize warning signs were being given until the hoof impacted the thigh.
Same mare, different day.

There was the time a certain bay mare of my instructor's decided that she didn't like how I was lunging her.  Her choice of how to express this was to flip me the equine bird and take off at a full gallop for the other end of the arena.
Yes, I'm talking about you.
But hey, that was the day I discovered that:
a) Flat canvas lunge lines can cause some hellacious rope burn, and
b) The water at the bottom of black horse troughs is still cold, even in the middle of summer in an unshaded spot, and
c) Cold water doesn't really do much for rope burn blisters.

There was the time I found out that leather reins can also cause rope burn, when a certain idiot chestnut Arab mare of that same instructor's dumped me.  (Through no fault of her own, really - that was a confidence issues fall.  In hindsight, it's both a vaguely hilarious fall and pretty pathetic.  Hooray for a slow-motion fall as a result of a perfectly predictable behavior!)
Good with kids, but a brain full of butterflies.
Same instructor, third instance (though in her defense, I rode with her for a decade).  Big brown Thoroughbred chickened the hell out when a car went down the gravel road near the arena and spooked, first into a gallop and then out from under me.

Actually, you can almost see the section of fence where I fell in this picture.  It's a bit further to the right.

Two problems here.
1) I was riding in the morning before college classes.  I basically had time to leave the barn when I was done, get back to my apartment, shower, and go to class.
2) When I landed, I landed sitting on one hip, with my elbow slung up on the (tilted) arena fence.  Imagine, if you will, a pose something like this, only sitting on the right hip with the legs extended to the side, and you've just about got the right idea.

I got back on, we finished the lesson, and then I went home, showered, and headed to campus.  My first class was at 12:30.

By the time I got home that night - 5:30 or so - I had a bruise basically from hip to knee on my right thigh, a pair that together perfectly matched the fenceline if I bent my elbow, and one on my left shin that I never quite figured out where the hell it came from.  Every one of them was a spectacular shade of purple.

I would like to note that shoving a gallon baggie of ice down my pants to try and make the giant freaking bruise less sore was not entirely effective.  Hilarious and frustrating, depending on just what it was I was trying to do at the time, but not effective.

NaBloPoMo Day 08 - A little about the barn/stable you ride at

Due to past Barn-Related Internet Drama(tm), I'm going to be a little vague on full details, but we do have a barn:
And a big pasture:
An arena:
A small pasture:
*cough* And a very handsome young stallion who helpfully is illustrating all the locations...

NaBloPoMo Day 07 - Your favorite ribbon won at a show and why

HA!  This is an easy one!

I have two ribbons.  Period.  :)

So of course my favorite is the second place ribbon.  That was the first show I'd ever been to.  The barn owner didn't kill us on the way there, but... umm... lady, even as a pre-teen, I was pretty confident that no, having a horse in the trailer was not license to speed through lights that had just turned red.
But me and my noble (and bitchy) (pony) steed and I survived, and we rode our very first dressage test!  I'm pretty sure it was USDF Intro Test A - but the stable called it the Green as Grass Test A, and I could swear the words "medium walk" appear nowhere on the test.  Somewhere, I still have the test results...

That was, I should add, the day I learned what a diagonal was.  I'd been riding for over a year at that point, walk-trot-canter...

NaBloPoMo Day 06 - Your favorite tack and riding clothes you have (brand/color/other details)

I used to have dedicated riding clothes... lol These days, I tend to ride in jeans and a t-shirt.  Oh, and I have a pair of Ariats that I change into when I get to the barn.

And my favorite tack happens to be... well... my only tack (right now, anyway):
Namely, my beloved Courbette Royale there.  And yes, I have Courbette stirrup leathers... and girth... *cough* and thanks to the magic of eBay, a Courbette breastcollar and two Courbette bridles (the first was a weird Franken-size).  And they all match.  Because matching is important, okay?  lol

Hilariously, I also have a matching set of split reins that I picked up at a Tractor Supply at one point.  Apparently I can eyeball my saddle color well?

Friday, November 10, 2017

NaBloPoMo Day 05- Your first fall

Now this... this I remember.

For reasons I still don't understand, my instructor at the time threw me up on a pony that had a) flunked out of a handicapped riding program and b) had only been at the barn for like a week.
The little felon himself.  Pony is a four letter word...
And then, to make it even better, the night I rode him was the first time he'd been in the covered arena with the lights on.

If you're thinking "recipe for disaster," yes.  Yes it was.

Everything was fine until we started to canter.  He was getting a little sticky and breaking to trot when we passed the flower box sitting in the middle of the arena, so my instructor said to kick him the next time he did that.

So I did.

The next thing I knew, I was lying on my back in the dirt, staring up at the roof and wondering what had happened.

According to what I was told, the little jerk reacted to me kicking him on by spinning on a dime, pitching me off into the dirt, and took off.  My helmet hit one of the ground poles with a nice solid clunk, although I don't remember being next to a ground pole when I realized I was lying in the dirt.  I didn't have a concussion or anything; I just legitimately do not remember the time between "kicking the pony" and "why am I in the dirt?"  (Not the only fall where I've had that happen, and the others definitely did not involve hitting my helmet on anything.)

And yes, I got back on.  Granted it was after a cry in the bathroom and like ten minutes of getting the pounds of dirt out of my clothing... lol

NaBloPoMo Day 04- A ride that impacted your life

You know, I can't actually point to a single ride.

Sure, I could probably say, "Oh, the first time I rode," or "The first time I rode at my current barn," but they're not these hugely striking rides.

Instead, I think of things like the time where I finally convinced myself to canter again, which I can't point to a single ride where that happened.  I had lost a ridiculous amount of confidence, and then gained a lot of it back.  And at some point, my college-age self looked at the teenagers around me and started thinking, "What the fuck.  They can all canter.  Why can I not canter?  I've been riding longer than any of them."  And a few weeks later, I finally cantered again - for the first time in like five years.

In the absence of riding photos, which I have very few of, have a shot of one of the two worst pieces of equine artwork I own.  I've lovingly dubbed it the Viagra Unicorn.

NaBloPoMo Day 03- Your best riding

In terms of competition, I don't have much to point to.  In terms of weird, random stuff that I'm proud of?

Still having a good seat after 4 years of not riding.

Not falling off when a 6hh Percheron stopped paying attention to her feet and face-planted.

And the biggest of all: still riding after several huge losses of confidence over the years.

NaBloPoMo Day 02- The last time you rode a horse and what you did

Ouch.  Umm... *whispers* 2014?

There was barn drama, major epic barn drama, and the only horses trained for riding either were sold or - in one memorable case - got injured in a freak accident.  And then when I did buy my own horse(s)... well, genius me, nobody's trained for saddle.  So it's... umm... it's been a while.
Shh.  Pretend you never saw that. Be distracted by a picture of Justice's daddy.

NaBloPoMo Day 01- When and why you started riding

Believe it or not, I know this to the month and year - June 1992.

I'd been bugging my parents for years at that point to be able to take lessons, but I wanted to ride English, and I grew up in the Land of Western Riders.  But in 1992, the local rec center partnered with a local English barn, and I got to take a whole four weeks of lessons.
Yep, there are pictures.

Horses.  Duh.  Pretty much horse crazy from the start.