Phoebe takes on the tarp of death and wins!

The little grey star of this whole show has had a really inconsistent late June and July with show season and a tiny injury to J. However things are starting to get more normal as J is winding down her season.

Someone stuck her nose in an unwelcoming mouth. 

I honestly think the lighter workload has been beneficial to Phoebes because she was showing some soreness through her lumbar, SI and stifles at her last chiro/accupuncture. It also was probably nice for her to have a bit of a brain break and just kind of chew on the idea that she is a riding horse in work and that there is nothing inherently terrifying or painful about that.

 

J seems to feel the same way because she’s been reporting nothing but awesome updates on Phoebe, it’s like a light bulb went off for her and she’s suddenly in work mode and less and less in flight mode.

What a brave and clever girl!

Monday J had a few green horses working in the arena at once, including Phoebe, so they pulled a tarp out and put some water on it to do a little desensitization work. Well guess who just walked all over it in all directions after one initial spook? When the other horses wouldn’t even get near the deadly tarp? Thatta girl Phoebes. To make her session Monday even better, J hopped on and rode her for a while and then got a phone call and sat on her chatting away while Phoebe just stood there like “a real trainer’s horse” !!!!!

 

Teeny needles for sensitive ponies.

Thursday she had a check up with the chiro who didn’t see any adjustments needed and just did some more accupunture (with the cat needles, obvi). There was nothing new or alarming in her findings, still sore in the lumbar, SI and stifles, however all areas showed improvement and the vet did not feel chiropractic manipulation was necessary. Hey, any improvement is good for me!

 

New faces at the farm

We have always had varying amounts of chickens here roaming around acting as funny yard art that will occasionally lay eggs. Since Sheri keeps them truly free range there is no max amount of chickens we can house, but there is the whole bobcats, hawks and coyotes living nearby that will, um, control the chicken population. Kind of a live free die young (but hopefully not that young) situation here.


Currently we have four hens. There is Buffy the Egg Layer. She is a buff Orpington and is the best chicken here, you can pick her up, pet her, she will sit in your lap, she laid the best eggs, etc. Now she is enjoying her senior years just hanging out eating bugs and leftovers in addition to her normal feed. Then there is Big D. That hen is MEAN. oh my god she is mean. She chases after the dogs, people, horses. Constantly giving anyone the hairy eyeball, we like to say it’s because she is bitter about her limp (not sure how she injured herself). Big D is a Delaware and is our most consistent layer. She even lays her eggs on the counter in the barn, which is super convenient. Lastly we have the twins, Redbeard and Blackbeard. They are Ameracuanas and only one of them is laying and she doesn’t lay every day. It’s a shame because they lay such pretty blue green eggs.


And then my dad comes in. He makes custom cabinetry and has currently been working with a few bars/restaurants in Seattle. One of the owners of the bars made an offhand comment to my dad along the lines of “oh yeah I have some chickens but the neighbors were complaining so I’ll probably just kill them and cook them up soon.” Yeahhh….. I am no vegetarian and neither is my dad but like, they have names, we have room at the farm……

So Monday night at like 9:30 my dad came over with a large dog kennel full of chickens in his truck. Enter Peaches, Pickles, Jeremy, and Henry to the farm. Two are laying and the other two I can’t tell if they have just reached maturity and just haven’t begun laying yet or if they are older and done laying totally. Either way I love them all and they are already hilarious to me even though we have them living in an empty stall for a week or so until they are a bit more acclimated.





Welcome chickies.

 

 

Ancient and full of pet peeves

Does anyone else feel that way sometimes? All the time? Old man who yells at cloud style?

Me. all the time.

Being a horse person, we are just all so passionate you know? I know I am, not to mention on some of my opinions I am 100% sure that I AM RIGHT AND THIS IS THE ONLY WAY. Spoiler alert: this is not an attractive quality and duh, there are often multiple, very valid methods and schools of thought in the horse world. I know. Total shocker.

 

Without further ado, here is a list of my current peeves. It is in no way complete. I am a flawed and judgmental person. I realize this is not a good quality in a person.

Bare hands

Nope. Not when riding and NOT EVER when lunging. Who wants rope burns? I certainly don’t. Seeing the ungloved hands on someone else while they ride isn’t such a huge pet peeve, more like, omg how can they stand it? But the lunging. That bothers me when I see anyone lunging a horse with no gloves.

Improperly done up lunge line

Like an accordion not a hose or a wad of line.

The pony club way is the only way for me on this one. There is no negotiation. I need to be able to lengthen and shorten the line quickly and without dealing with tangles or any part of the line touching the ground. I just can’t do it. I will redo any lunge line I see in any tack room that is just wadded up or rolled like a hose. Nope nope nope.

 

Helmets

This one is a no brainer (har har). If you are sitting on a horse you need a helmet on your head. End of story. There are no instances where a bare head is ok.

Bridles put back together incorrectly

This one might be specific to lesson barns. While I appreciate the kids who want to clean tack thoroughly if you don’t know how to put the bridle back together correctly then ask someone. Don’t just put it together wrong and leave it for someone else to fix.

Full cheek bits with no keepers

 

Correct!

 

Not correct. Cue images of the bit getting caught on anything and everything in my head.

Is this a new trend? I see them EVERYWHERE. I understand the action of the bit changes with keepers vs without but I just can’t get past the thought of how many things the bit could catch on. When I see full cheeks sans keepers AND a running martingale I just cringe even more.

 

Fly bonnets

Flipping up. Don’t like it. I imagine its annoying to the horses too! Though Jollybo I am sure was concentrating on, you know, getting around Rolex like the awesome mare she is. 

This one makes me feel like a dinosaur, but I just do not like seeing horses in fly bonnets. I don’t like that it has become just another space to advertise your brand or your sponsors. Would you want a brand name on your forehead?? I don’t like that there are some people who use them to keep in earplugs in the jumping phases (is that even legal?). It seems that if your horse is that spooky or distractible then you need to go back to schooling/desensitizing instead of using earplugs. Much less important is I simply don’t like how they look. I LIKE a nicely braided forelock and being able to see the horses face. I hate when you see the fly bonnets just flipping up constantly over fences. I know I might be the only one with this opinion too and I have no plans to do anything a just not use them on my horse and keep my dislike to myself around others.

Much more generally and most importantly, people who blame their horse for things going poorly. I find its generally a rider issue, a training issue, or a pain issue. Don’t try to blame your horse around me.  A true horseperson will instead try their hardest to figure out if its training, pain, or rider and act accordingly. Be a true horseperson.

Weather assisted riding

Monday brought another lesson on good old Max the monster pony. It seems that Monday evening lessons are generally filled with the super beginner adult riders and one beginner kid, none of which have started jumping yet so it’s mainly flatwork right now. So naturally, I always tack Max up in his dressage saddle and his “fancy” bridle.

So fancy! Complete with sprinkler marks on a dusty forehead because at this barn you are expected to ride your horse through the sprinkler in the summer. 

 

 

I think I have talked before about how Max just LOVES to bulge that inside shoulder. Like loves it. I can barely keep the monster cantering on a 20 meter circle bulging! Me! The one who has been told by more than one instructor that I have an “electric seat” and that my driving aids are too strong! Yikes guys. It’s like a flashing neon sign screaming at me: hello glaring hole in my abilities/skills as a rider. This is one of the reasons I love riding as many horses as I can, they all kindly (or not so kindly!) point out to me places I need to work on to become a more “complete” rider, for lack of a better term. Someone who has many tools in the toolbox. Luckily the wind picked up right about when I started to lose the oomph in my leg and suddenly SOMEONE had some energy that I could finally work with!

Clearly owned by a girl with those pink buckets!

So my lesson mates were called into the middle of the ring and I was sent out into the field to jump some of the logs out there and gallop up the hill a few times. In a dressage saddle. Luckily I have extensive experience riding in saddles that don’t fit my leg/seat and this saddle had no thigh blocks to speak of, so away I went. Oh man you guys, it is sad, I haven’t been able to actually ride any type of XC since 2012. That was on a borrowed horse and ended with me falling off in front of an Olympian, an ambulance ride, and ultimately a minor concussion. Needless to say, I just want more.

The edge of the arena looking out on the XC field and the hill we gallop up way way in the back. There are a bunch of logs and a ditch which currently is filled with the blue barrels.

Hurry up and come home Phoebes, we’ve got cross country to learn about!

 

How did I fall down this rabbit hole?

Oh, I know, I read this post over at Viva Carlos and thought, well, I don’t have any sort of TV other then what I can stream on Netflix and Hulu so Free Rein binge here I come.

 

Couldn’t find a picture but hands down the real star of this show is Bob, the goofy sidekick’s Gypsy Vanner pony that is always getting into stuff.

Who am I kidding. I live for this crap. Trash TV for tween girls about horses. Complete with glaring safety issues (using your moms ancient helmet anyone??), love triangles, a mean girl, horse thieves (!!!), the wild horse that only the new girl can tame (why is this horse always black?) and so much drama. Oh the drama. I can’t believe I am wasting so much time on this dumb show. Don’t think I wasn’t sucked into Heartland too.

In actual riding news, last week I got to ride a newer school horse, Hank. Isn’t that the best name ever? He is a Hungarian Warmblood TB cross who spent the last few years in a field while his person was in school. It became clear that he needed a job so to school horse life he went.

HANK!!!!!! I just want to smoosh his face and stuff this sweet guy full of cookies.

He is super unfit, SUPER sweet, and actually has some really correct and nice training on him. We mainly worked on keeping him truly in front of the leg and staying light and uphill with many walk breaks as he got tired and subsequently tried to fall on the forehand and let me just hold him up. While he was as much effort to ride as Max normally is, the big difference between them is attitude. Well and size. And gaits. So yeah, attitude.  Max is a bit of a bully and boy he is going to make you work for every stride, while Hank is just a total doll and just isn’t fit enough to really hold himself correctly yet, but if you ask him to soften or yield or move forward he is so willing, just can’t hold it that long yet. What a good boy. Every week I find myself just getting off the horse after my lesson grinning like an idiot, regardless of how sloppy I still feel in the saddle or how difficult the lesson was. Horses. Best drug out there.

Whidbey Island HT

So first of all, the porta potties at Whidbey were the best managed ones at any horse show I have ever been to hands down. We arrived on Thursday with Kristin’s barn at about noon and left Sunday afternoon and literally every single time I needed to use one it was like brand spanking clean. They were serviced daily and I was just so impressed.

Kristin’s awesome teardrop camper and her pinwheel garden complete with custom sign

I know. Go to a horse show and spectate and tag along with all the training and novice course walks, hang out with old and new friends and I come back raving about porta potties. But man. I can’t tell you how amazing it was to not have to run in, hold my breath and pray for a scrap of toilet paper all weekend.

Cara watching the Thursday arrival chaos

 

B Bear, her travel stall buddy, who looks like he’s hanging from a noose. Sorry B Bear.

My job for the weekend was mainly to keep Cara, Kristin’s mare calm. The last show they went to Cara had some anxiety in the stall which was made worse by a thunderstorm. The idea was that with me there able to take her out of the stall and walk/graze or just sit with her while she was in the stall that she would chill out. In that respect the weekend was a resounding success!

Sunburn on the first day. NOT a success. 

 

I am the worst paparazzi ever, so please ignore the odd facial expression of my lovely friend and instead appreciate how ready they look for fancy prancing.

Cara was chill enough that I was able to tag along for the novice and training XC course walks which I found really interesting. Kristin’s trainer is also in the process of becoming a course designer so he had some valuable insight as to what each course was truly asking. The main takeaways for the novice course was to get your horse in front of your leg right away. The first fence was a sharp right turn out of the startbox and then for fence 2 and 3 you were leaving warm-up and facing a field full of horse eating monsters, I mean cows.

The training course was mainly testing if you could keep your horse even in both reins with a twisty track that sported a baby corner, a “skinny”, and several jumps that were set in places where your ideal line was blocked by another jump or tree so you had to pick a line and keep your horse straight through the neck and shoulder and even on the reins.

Again with the terrible photog skills. Who goes to a show, doesn’t ride and STILL doesn’t get pics of all the fun jumps? Me, that’s who. Anyways, I did get a picture of this awesome Lego jump.

Interestingly the whole “even in both reins” came up again in the novice show jump course round as the overall theme. So ideally the course designers were prepping you for the skills needed at training level XC in the novice stadium round. This whole testing of the next level skills idea during stadium was not something I had considered before so that was super valuable information for me. But maybe I am just totally behind the times and that’s just common knowledge. Entirely possible. Would be the story of my life!

The amazing Tesha and her awesome mare going out and proving that the Saddlebred is such a game and versatile breed!

I also met up with a dear friend who I grew up riding with, like little squirts through angsty teens. She also left horses during college and found her way back to eventing and now is riding an adorable saddlebred mare who is just super game. It was so so nice to hang out with her and reminisce about the days when we had to build hotwire paddocks at shows because there were no stalls.

Planning ahead

I have some fun stuff coming up on the calendar in the next few weeks.


Next weekend, July 6-9 I am going as groom/assistant to Whidbey Island HT for my wonderful friend and her lovely mare, who isn’t so thrilled about the portable stalls and needs lots of handwalking!


Then on August 5th and 6th I am going to tag along with Sheri and her horses to the Lincoln Creek back to back one day events. These are some of my favorite schooling shows in the area for a couple reasons. First, the one day format on Saturday and then again on Sunday. Perfect for if you want to try out a new level you can go intro, or BN on the first day and then if that goes well you can move up on the second day. Or if you or the horse are just green and need more miles it’s super helpful to be able to just perfect/work on things that didn’t go so well from day one on day two, or even drop down a level on the second day if you need to. Plus at this venue there is no eliminating. As long as you allow others to pass you on course you can have pretty much unlimited refusals or even skip jumps and it’s not an issue. You’ll have obscene penalties but as long as you don’t appear to be a danger no one will pull you off course. Sheri will be riding her main mount Donny and the big red dude Wake will be tagging along as a non compete so we don’t have to find horse care at home!


But most exciting of all is J and I have had a few discussions and we have put a tentative date on when Phoebe comes home! She will stay through August and in a few weeks if she is going well I will start heading up there for some lessons on her and at the end of August we will start planning on how best to transition her home!!!!!