Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Anniversary

This post is totally belated, as our anniversary was on the 17th, but Mollie and I recently celebrated our 13th anniversary :)

I never would have guessed where our journey would take us when I bought her.  To think that I was looking for a been there, done that, pony club mount and I ended up with her still makes me smirk.  She was everything we weren't looking for so naturally, she was perfect.

Here's to another amazing 13 years together you sassy girl.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Because it's Throwback Thursday please enjoy a photo of 9 year old me on my first horse wearing the world's largest helmet.

And if you haven't voted in the first round of Semi-Finals at She Moved to Texas, please go over and vote for The Red Headed Mare :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


While I was grooming Mollie within an inch of her life this past weekend I was once again surprised by all the color variations in her coat.  Let's run through a little history.

Mollie's papers have her registered as Sorrel.
When we bought her she was definitely a Chestnut.
Each year she has gotten a bit darker, and the few white hairs she had on her flanks when we bought her as a four year old are spreading.
She also has a few perfectly circular, bright white dots all over her body.  From what I've read about birdcatcher spots I don't think that fits here... hers literally appear over night and she's had them for many years without them ever going away.
She has some darker "brindling" on her hind legs/butt.

So basically, for all you color experts out there, what color is my horse?


I should also mention that her mane is considered flaxen (I think) at this point... she also has horizontal white stripes at the top of her tail.  I'm not sure whether or not she's a true roan, or someone else mentioned Sabino?  I don't even know if that's possible.  All your guesses are as good as mine :)
Lastly, a shameless plug for myself, in the pursuit of chocolate.  Lauren at She Moved to Texas is having a March Madness contest and Mollie and I have made it to the second round!!  If you like this blog or if you like my sassy red mare please send a vote our way :)



Monday, March 24, 2014


Exercise of the week, round four!! Lets just take a moment to acknowledge that I've kept this little segment up for a whole month now.   Sometimes I'm a responsible adult.

For this week I'm bringing out one of my favorite, and must under rated exercise.  A figure eight.  Yes, I know you're thinking "Gee, good one, I would have never thought of that by myself."  But as I said.... it's grossly under rated.  The figure eight is one of my favorite exercises because it's deceivingly simple.  First, a kick ass diagram.

So I really only have the one diagram for this exercise because it's not all that elaborate.  That's the beauty of it.  Also, I know some people ride a figure eight across the long diagonals, but I much prefer it on two circles.  The trick to this exercise is keeping the circles the same size, keeping your bend to the same degree throughout, and keeping your pace the same.  But much of the magic of this exercise happens at that little red dot.  It is the only time your horse is traveling straight and should take no more than one or two strides before you've begun your circle in the opposite direction.

During those one or two strides where you and your horse are straight much is happening.  Say you had been traveling right, when you come through the red dot zone your weight should shift slightly left, your left side of your horse's back should drop (and the right should come up), and their spines should change from right to left bend.  It's a LOT to make happen in a stride or two!!

I try to keep the circles about 10m a piece and usually ride this exercise at the trot.  You could ride it at walk however and if you're super skilled, the canter.  Sometimes if Molls is rushing or blowing through me I halt each time I pass through the red dot.  I switch my bend before trotting off again, and then repeat.  

Not the most exciting exercise, but certainly one I pull out of my "tool box" and find beneficial for almost any horse :)

Sunday, March 23, 2014


So many times I accredit my sanity to my horse/riding in general but this weekend it was so true.  This past week and the week ahead of me are absolutely insane with work/related things that really interfere with my life and it was so nice to spend a total of 14 hours at the barn the last two days.  Yes 14 hours, no I don't feel bad about it.  Between lessons and riding Mollie I feel very productive and ready for the week ahead.

There are a ton of things I want to talk about from this weekend but instead of making this post a million pages long and then having nothing to post about all week, I'll try to break it up.  First up is ride recaps because that's what I'm most likely to forget.


Saturday I rode 3 horses.  I nearly died.  I had a 2 hour break in lessons so tacked up one of the beasts that rarely gets used and cruised around.  I totally failed at taking pictures but she's a draft cross (basically looks like a dwarf draft) and is white and fluffy.  So she's basically a unicorn.  She's super green and out of shape so my major requests were that she go forward and straight.  She was exhausted within 20 minutes so I cooled her out and tossed her outside before more lessons.

Second up was one of the boarder's horses at the lesson barn.  I teach said boarder lessons and he hadn't been on his horse for a few months (had been doing strictly ground work).  We decided yesterday was the day to get back on so I climbed aboard first to make sure the horse wasn't homicidal.  Once that was determined the boarder got on and had his lesson.  There's a whole post I really want to do on this horse/rider duo though, so more on that later this week :)

Lastly was Molls.  By the time I got to our barn it was dinner time, so I fed her half (a whopping 6 pellets at that point.... kinda) and tacked her up.  It had been a week and a half since I rode her (eek!) between crazy work things and going away last weekend so I didn't expect much.  I let her go around on a longish rein as long as she was using her back and not flying around.  Her canters left much to be desired but she was actually better than I expected at the walk and trot.  She was an absolute FREAK whenever I made contact via my left rein however... not sure if it's tooth related, behavior related, poll/TMJ related or what, but something I definitely plan to keep an eye on.  I gave her a long grooming after, got tons of hair off, and put her away with the rest of her dinner.

Breaking this post up with a photo shoot fail from this summer.  Awk.


I didn't ride any horses at the lesson barn this morning, but had some awesome positive lessons and was excited to get back on Molls.  Can we please also note that I cleaned a saddle and two bridles at lesson barn?  Who am I?  Gave Mollie a super long grooming because I'm an awesome horse owner because I forgot to put her BoT boots on until I was done grooming the first time.  Got her into the ring and there were FOUR of us.  Totally unheard of at our barn, but a sign Spring is coming and people are riding more :)  All the ponies were really good, Molls looked nice and we even got a compliment from someone watching which always feels good.  By the time we finished it was back in the 30s and windy but it was 4pm, the sun was still out, and we were itching to get outside.  So Mollie and I hacked around the property with one of the other people riding.  Both horses were on "high alert" but well behaved and it was an uneventful walk.

Hoping to get out to the barn at least one night this week for a ride!!  I'm definitely going to need it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

VC Blog Hop x3

We now have the third installment of L's Magical Blog Hop!!
Yayyyy more drooling unicorns
This week's topic is: What's in your Bucket/Smartpak

Only a few people have linked up so far, but the general consensus is that my horse is totally neglected.  As far as food and supplements go, Mollie is clearly on the lower end of the maintenence spectrum.  But I'm definitely not complaining :)
Mollie is fed unlimited hay throughout the day.  I was actually really surprised to see some horses get as little as 4 flakes a day.... Molls would blow through that in an hour and promptly demand more foods.  She does eat from a small-holed haynet (seen below) in an attempt to slow her down, but she's pretty much tossed another bag whenever that one is out.  Granted, all of our grass fields are still under snow and ice, so once they're allowed to graze all day again the hay consumption should decrease.
As far as grain, Mollie gets as little as possible as long as her supplments can still be mixed in.  Right now that comes out to about half a cup (yes cup, not quart) of Hay Stretcher.  Girl gets fat on air.

Mollie-Wog Caviar

Now on to her supplements.  I do use Smartpaks for Molls simply for ease and convenience.  She's been on the same Smartpak for years now and I live under the "If it's not broke don't fix it" motto.  The two supplements she is on are extremely beneficial to her and therefore she stays on them.
First up is Mare Marijuana Magic.  Seriously, this stuff has saved both our lives.  I put Mollie on it after about a year of owning her and she's been on it for the last 12 years.  She'll probably never come off.  I know some people don't believe in it, or they didn't think it worked for their horse, but it's always made a huge difference in her temperment and I consider it worth every penny.

Product Description from Smartpak:
Mare Magic is a customer favorite for calming and moodiness. It provides pure, dried Raspberry Leaf to help influence a quiet disposition in mares and geldings.
Raspberry is an herb widely known for its benefits to mares because it is believed to temper the effects of hormonal fluctuations. The active ingredients in Raspberry are thought to help regulate smooth muscle tone in both the reproductive and gastrointestinal tracts, relaxing muscle that is in spasm and strengthening muscle that is weak. Mare Magic’s dried leaf formula smells wonderful and horses find it very palatable.

Second is Cosequin ASU.  When Mollie was diagnosed with arthritis in her hocks about 5 years ago our vet suggested we try this before resorting to anything more drastic (injections).  I 100% recommend this product as it has kept Mollie completely sound ever since.  At 17 years old she is quite arthritic yet I have still never needed to inject her.  Every year the vet throws it out there as an option for "next year" but by the time next year rolls around Molls still seems to be in pretty good shape.

Product Description from Smartpak:
Cosequin® ASU goes above and beyond the traditional glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate products on the market. Cosequin® ASU contains NMX1000® avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) formulated with FCHG49® glucosamine hydrochloride and TRH122® low molecular weight chondroitin sulfate. Plus the addition of high purity MSM! This sets Cosequin® ASU apart from any other joint health supplement for horses. And all in a tasty, easy to administer powder! 


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Exercise of the Week III

Back on the Exercise of the Week train because I have nothing else to blog about ;)

This exercise is one of my favorites, and I refer to it as "Headphones".  You'll see why shortly in my awesome diagrams below.

I really like this exercise because it forces the horse to step under themselves laterally.  When done correctly, they really bring their backs up and are wonderfully on your aids when you are done.  This exercise also calls for some lateral difficulties but if your horse isn't ready you could easily break the exercise up and do it in different parts before stringing it all together.

You're going to start off walking/trotting/cantering/whatever floats your boat-ing left.  Once you get a little less than halfway down your long side, halt (at the orange dot).  Bonus points for a square halt.

Guyz I'm getting so good at Paintbrush

After halting you are going to proceed to ride a semi-circle using lateral movements only.  If you can manage this without any forward or backwards steps you win all the things.  Obviously this is a lot to throw at a horse at once, so like I said before, if all you can get is a few steps and then walk off, no worries.

So once you've halted you're going to apply right leg, step into your left stirrup, and encourage your majestical unicorns to side step left.  I try to get in two steps of straight side pass before focusing my efforts in moving over Mollie's rear end.  During the "corners" you want their hind ends to cross over and their front ends to more or less stay in place.  After a step or two of "haunches over" you side pass left for another two steps, then another corner, then another two side pass steps to the wall.  Halt at the orange dot.

Purple slashes denote lateral-ness.

Now if your beasts are anything like Mollie they will be ALLLL sorts of puffed up by the time they get to the wall.  She's usually offended that I asked for so much lateral motion but at the same time she's reallllllly nice and on my aids.  So it typically doesn't take much encouragement to get her to go forward.  Either walk/trot/canter off from your orange dot to the right, ride through the short side, and halt a third of the way down your long side (orange dot).

From here you're going to repeat the "headphone" portion of the exercise but to the right.  So you will apply left leg, stand in your right stirrup, and step away from the wall towards the right.  Two steps to the right, one or two haunches over through the corner, two steps over, two haunches over to corner, and then side pass right to the rail.

Halt once you get back to the rail, then charge your steeds forward again and do it over and over! Or if it sucked do it never again.

Why this exercise works: There is soooo much lateral motion in this exercise it's practically impossible to be detrimental.  All the sideways motion is wonderful for getting you horses up and under you and this exercise allows for plenty of it.

Why I like this exercise:  This exercise is really awesome for days where Mollie just needs an ass kicking.  And that sounds bad, but ever have one of those days where your horse just isn't really on your aids/isn't really trying/is tuning you out?  Yeah, not easy to do in this exercise.  It really gets her moving, gets her working, and it's not very complicated.

Once again, please let me know if you incorporate this and how it goes!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Force Field

Last week I actually rode my horse during the week.  This happened because several majikal things aligned, so naturally it was an awful ride.

Majikal Reasons why my Ride Couldn't Have Been Good:
1. My brother actually offered to come with me
2. I didn't have any work to bring home with me
3. My brother was available for photos/video

So naturally, my horse was unrideable.

Now most people in blogger-land don't know Mollie THAT well at this point, but I am very pleased to say that she is a very level horse.  It takes a LOT to spook her/unsettle her/etc. and while she wasn't always like this it is something we've worked very hard on.  And I'm pretty damn proud of the fact that I can now take her and ride her in almost any environment without issue.

So you can basically imagine my surprise when I brought her to the indoor and she became a fucking freak show and absolutely REFUSED to cross over the centerline of the ring and go anywhere near the right side of the arena... It was like there was a god damned force field down the centerline that she refused to cross without elevator-dropping, spinning, and leaping through the air.  My biggest regret is not having my brother video any of this... I was too busy being pissed at my nutcase horse to realize I'd want to share this with the internet.

I tried everything I could, Mollie would periodically trot on a 5 meter circle, then freak the F out again.  I was mostly annoyed that she wasn't paying attention to me.  If she's legitimately scared then no problem, but she needs to still respect me and my space.  I ended the ride by hopping off and hand walking her up and down the highly offensive end of the arena.  It didn't help.  I quit.

Looking back perhaps there was something going on in the woods outside of the arena... I really have no idea.  Here's to hoping next time I ride she's forgotten all about it ;)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bad Blogger

So I've been totally MIA.  Sowwy.  My life has been all sorts of crazy lately so I've been rewarding myself with some play in between all the work :)  I did get to the barn a few days last week but I'll be posting about those rides later this week.

So to make up for my lack of posting I will share with you some photos of my weekend shenanigans. A while ago I confessed to my crocheting addiction, and now I confess to you.... about line dancing.

That's right.  I line dance.

And I freakin' love it.  I was skeptical at first, thinking it would be a bunch of elderly people dressed in plaid slowly square dancing around.  I was so, so wrong.  And here we are a year and a half later and this weekend I found myself at a glorified line dancing convention.  There was much dancing, many lessons, high kicks, stomping, Daisy Dukes, and cowboy boots and I loved every second.

We danced, ate, drank, and danced some more and now I'm thoroughly exhausted and totally ready to get back into the swing of things and visit my pony.

I'm in the black tank top

There's a chance I was carried around the hotel in this
duffel bag all weekend.  Perks of being 4'11.

And to keep this post somewhat horse related, here's a picture I got from a friend of mine while I was away.  This was accompanied by a paragraph from Mollie-Wogs herself.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What's in Your Name? Blog Hop

Thanks to L at Viva Carlos I have something to post about today!!  And I really like the topic, so double cool.


Despite having ridden for 15+ years at this point, it was probably only 3 or 4 years ago that I heard about the "Red Headed Mare" stereotype.  Which is kinda funny since you know, I've had a RHM for the last 13ish years.  I was riding at a primarily Hunter/Jumper barn with a pronounced focus on Equitation so I was constantly cruising around looking mighty out of place on my fat QH decked out in dressage gear.  Because of this I didn't make tons of friends with people my age (they were too busy buying fancier horses because the last one didn't win) but the people I did click with were the ammy adults.  Which shouldn't reallllly be surprising because I was entering ammy-adult status at that point and definitely had more in common with them than the younger girls.

One of those adults, M, was well known around the barn for her riding/grooming/all around horsey knowledge and although she didn't have a horse of her own, she managed to qualify on catch rides every year.  I really liked her, the way she treated her horses, and her overall riding "philosophies".  And despite our riding styles being very different I think she kinda liked me too.  And what she liked the best, was my silly red headed mare.  You see, at this barn the horses were injected left and right, people took lessons every other day, showed every weekend, and medicated their horses for everything.  Mollie couldn't be more opposite. 

At the time I was in college and really only rode on the weekends.  And by the time I actually got around to riding it was usually bareback, in a halter, with clip on reins.  M was always shocked at how well behaved and mild mannered Mollie could be in those sorts of situations, provided all the time she had off.  What M liked the best however, was when she would come into the ring during one of Mollie and I's "discussions".  You see, she was one of the few people who knew that she wasn't being bad, and was perfectly capable of agreeing to what I was asking, she was simply being a red headed mare.  Ever since then I've told Mollie "her red headed mare is showing" when she gets into a fit, and I'm always reminded of M, who started the term.

Right around the time I started this blog I also created an Etsy account and it only seemed fitting that I named both after my silly little red headed mare.

Casually ordering some lemonade, Summer 2013

Monday, March 10, 2014

Exercise of the Week II

Go me for actually remembering to make this a weekly installment!! Lets see if I can keep it up for three whole weeks in a row next Monday ;)

I got a fair bit of response on my last exercise, if anyone has tried it do let me know how it went.

This week's exercise is slightly more technical but one that I think most people could use.  I've been using it tons lately to combat Mollie's desire to constantly travel with her haunches in which is SO annoying.  Especially when I think she's all straight and awesome and then I look up at the mirrors and bam.  Hind end off the rail.  Rotten horse.

We're going to start this exercise tracking right, with a slight inside bend.  As you approach the corner you are going to ride across the long diagonal in a shoulder fore to the right.  Maintain said shoulder fore all the way to the corner.

You know you missed these bad boys

Once you approach the corner you straighten out of shoulder fore, but maintain a counter bend through the short side.  Then turn early, down your quarter line.

Look at dem captions

Now down your quarter line you are going to ride the slightest of haunches out possible.  Like, just think baby haunches out right and you will feel majykal things happen beneath your saddle.  At least you will if you're on a Mollie-horse.

Now I drew her hind feet slightly haunched out, but the trick to this exercise is just barely haunching out.  Because once Mollie is in what I think is a mini haunches-out, she's actually straight.

Now that you've changed direction, just repeat!!

Hello straightness

Why this exercise works: So lots and lots of horses are crooked.  I can't even count how many times I've been to a show or watched a video and watched horses going around (especially at the canter it seems) with their haunches thrown to the inside, and their shoulders on the rail.  Most of the time people simply focus on "straightening" them out, with little regard to moving around the different parts of their body.  Simply bending their neck isn't going to help you if their haunches are out.  Now their haunches are out and they're over bent.  By isolating the different parts of their body (first shoulders, then haunches) the horse will automatically straighten without you attempting to "straighten" them.  I hope that makes sense to someone other than me.

Why I like this exercise: Because I love arguing with my horse, we frequently get into "discussions" about how straight she is.  This usually ends up in me reverting to my hands to attempt to "straighten" her.  I really should know better by now, but sometimes it happens.  If I do get myself into this battle this exercise usually helps me get out of it.  It's like I want Mollie to get into a very tight box all at once and she can't coordinate how to do it.  Instead of demanding she get all four feet in at the same time I focus her energy into getting parts of herself there and then before you know it, everything is in the box.

I hope this exercise is helpful for some, and if anyone wants an in depth lesson on some of the above movements (shoulder in, haunches in/out, etc.) please let me know!  And once again, let me know if you try it out and how it goes :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Getting Back in the Groove

This weekend was so wonderfully warm (like in the 40s, hallelujah) and horsey filled, I finally feel like I'm getting back in the horse groove.  And it feels so good.


Saturday I went to Mollie's barn first, as I didn't have to teach lessons till the afternoon.  Quickly tacked her up and threw her BoT boots on as I got ready.  Mollie is clearly in her first heat of the season, which is really the only time I ever notice she's in heat.  She used to be an absolute wench when in heat but thanks to Mare Magic she's usually pretty good and I can only tell she's in heat because all the other mares in the barn are too.  She wasn't necessarily bad, she just wasn't really good either.  She'd give be about 3.5 laps of "Nah nah nah nah nahhhh I'm not listeninnnnnnng" followed by 0.75 laps of "Oh ok, I'll be super soft and use my back."  So that was fun.  I found a good spot to end and hopped off, knowing we weren't going to get much productive work done.

Ran over to the lesson barn, taught one lesson, then ran to barn #3 of the day.  This is the barn I kept Mollie at for about 3 years before moving her to her current location.  A few of my friends were all riding together so invited me there to ride a schoolie with them.

Got to visit my favorite barn cat, Moose :)

The pony I rode is actually super cute, and was quite fancy at some time.  Since then she's had ridiculous amounts of lameness issues and as a result has spent a lot of time out of work.  She came out "Annie-Lame" as we've dubbed it, since she's always her own special kind of lame, but worked out of it and got really cute.  It was fun to be able to get on something and actually feel like I was schooling her, and making a difference.

Blurry photo, but good Princess Annabelle


Sunday I taught lessons first, and had two little girls to teach.  The first lesson went alright, although the pony was a total pill and the kid was too timid to actually get after him.  He's an older pony who is very out of shape however so I'd like him to get a little fitter before I get on and give him a few good hacks to remind him of his job.  The second lesson was great, and I had a new (to me) student who really seemed to enjoy her lesson.  It's always nice when I get compliments from parents too.

After teaching one of the boarders took her mare out to lunge and she was FRESH.  Super sassy, defiant, and her owner is older and timid and was a little bit afraid to ask her for anything.  I didn't want to be pushy so just said, "Well if you need any help let me know." and she said, "Oh would you?"  So I took over and really got after the mare who spent a whole bunch of time and energy with all four feet in the air.  After one particularly nasty buck where she tugged me forward, then bucked so high her legs went over the lunge line I let go, she scared the $h!t out of herself, and then realized she was acting like a fool.  I got a few nice trot circles in each direction (without any theatrics) and called it there.  Her owner was super grateful and it was fun to work with another horse.

Finally made it out to Mollie's barn and decided to bust out my Higher Standards to clean my boots while she BoT-ed.  Clearly, they needed it :)

Left hadn't been cleaned, right has

Molls had her panties in a bunch again, and I'm still chalking it up to the bad heat cycle.  She was super cranky about being groomed and everything so I'm thinking she's just irritable in general.  I did let her blow off some steam and we hand galloped a good bit which she seemed to like.  Again, I found a good spot to end and got off.  She had actually worked up a decent sweat (for her) so I guess there's that.  She did cough a few times and was breathing a bit heavily, so I'm going to have to order and get her started on Tri-Hist.  We go through this every Spring/Summer but usually the Tri-Hist combats her heaves nicely.

Obligatory crosstie photo

Friday, March 7, 2014

Favorites, Take Two

So a few weeks ago I blogged about my favorite winter gear with plans to continue the "Favorites" theme every week or so.  Then I totally forgot about it until now.  And since I don't ever ride anymore (during the week anyways... it feels like forever) I figured it was time for another installment.  This time I'm focusing on favorite medical/horse heath care items.  Luckily Mollie is a very healthy horse (knock on wood) but we still have a few things that have become favorites over the years.

Leg Care

As I mentioned above, Molls is a pretty healthy horse and rarely does she have any leg issues.  But seeing as I've had her for (nearly) 13 years now she's gotten her fair share of swellings/strains/bumps, etc.  A few years ago I got on the "Sore no More" bandwagon and this was the first product I tried and fell in love with.  I use this for EVERYTHING.  Swellings on her leg?  Poultice.  Mysterious bump?  Poultice.  Heat?  Poultice.  No kidding, I use it for everything.  Also, since we like being ghetto, I've realized that one square of paper towel fits perfectly around Mollie's lower leg and perfectly covers up the poultice.  Add a pillow and standing wrap and she's good to go.  I have even used it on her hocks/stifles without a wrap (literally just slather it on) and it's worked there too.

Price: $21.99 (from Dover)
Biggest Pro: It hasn't failed me yet, and I use it often.  It's very versatile and I can use it basically on any part of her leg.
Biggest Con: If left for a little while sometimes the clay and water "separate" slightly.  All it takes is a little mixing to get it combined again though.  And there's that whole poultice-under-your-nails thing that some people aren't crazy about, but it doesn't really bug me.

Skin Care

While skin care may not be a pressing matter to all horse owners I would say it is one of Mollie's most common areas of need.  Molls has two white stockings that are prone to fungus/bacteria, a white nose prone to sunburn, and overall sensitive skin prone to hives the size of golfballs (except for the one freak time they were as big as baseballs... no exaggeration).  As a result skin care is important to us and this stuff has been in our tack box before it was even a horse product (originally marketed for dogs and cats).

Price: $9.99 (from KV Vet)
Biggest Pro:  This is a super versatile product that I can use anywhere on her body, mane, or tail (because she likes to itch those things too).  I see results immediately using it, whether it be healing a cut, soothing skin irritations, or regrowing hair.
Biggest Con: I honestly can't even think of one.  It's that good.

Hoof Care

So how many of you have dealt with abscesses before?  And how many of you have dumped epsom salt into water in a feed pan and then spent half an hour trying to get your horse to stand in it?  Yup there's no reason to do that ever again.  Because the little container below full of green goop will solve (almost) all your problems.  Now I've never even used this stuff on Mollie because the girl has never had an abscess (I definitely just jinxed myself) but last summer when I ran the summer camp at our barn one of the schoolies had chronic abscesses and this stuff seriously saved my sanity.  I'd make sure the hoof was clean, glob a whole bunch of this stuff into/on the bottom of the hoof, throw on a gauze pad, and wrap.  Voila, hoof is now going to benefit from epsom salts for 24 hours.  No water, no mess, no swearing (unless your duct tape sticks together when wrapping the hoof).

Price: $9.99 (via Dover)
Biggest Pro: This is SO MUCH BETTER than soaking in epsom salts in water.  I think that's enough said.
Biggest Con: It's a little bit messy and there's definitely a trick to getting it from the jar onto the hoof without anywhere else.  Once you master that though it's pretty smooth sailing.

I hope you guys like this list of faves!! If there's anything you prefer do let me know, I love trying new things :)  This weekend should be chock full of horses between lessons and riding so hopefully I'll actually be able to post about riding my horse.  Since that's what this blog is for and all.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Seven Deadly Sins - Blog Hop

Hopping on the Blog Hop Bandwagon because I (shockingly) haven't been out to ride my horse this week.  This is becoming a theme because I just cannot convince myself that riding in the dark and cold is fun anymore.

In honor of Fat Tuesday and thanks to Viva Carlos I give you "The Seven Deadly Sins: Equestrian Edition".

Seven great things/strengths in your riding life

1. A horse that trusts me (almost) all the time.
2. Many trainers/instructors/mentors who have shaped my riding for the better.
3. The desire to always do right by my horse.
4. A very supportive family member without whom I would never be able to have my own horse.
5. A group of friends just as horse-crazy as myself.
6. The desire to constantly learn more and get better.
7. The ability to teach others.

Seven things you lack or covet for your horse
1. A truck and trailer
2. A Macel Samba saddle
3. Unlimited lesson/clinic funds
4. All the BoT things
5. A "longer" body
6. A youngster horse to bring up alongside Mollie
7. The ability to go back 10 years with everything I know now

First time riding Molls in a double, feels like forever ago.

Seven things that make you angry

1. People who think they are educated, when they are not
2. People who mistreat their horses
3. People who do things with their horses because they were instructed to, even if they don't believe that it's the right thing to do.
4. When I make things personal between Mollie and myself
5. When I do things even though I know better
6. Dishonest trainers
7. When ride times are off

Seven things you neglect to do or cut corners on

1. Cleaning tack... I don't really do it
2. Washing saddle pads before I have none left
3. Keeping my tack trunk clean
4. Grooming my horse
5. I definitely don't overreact to cuts/scrapes/bumps/etc.
6. Getting my camera out to the barn 
7. Take a moment to appreciate the fact that I own a freakin' horse

An unimpressed Mollie-Wogs

Seven most expensive things you own for your horse

1. Dover Circuit Dressage Saddle
2. Dover Circuit Jumping Saddle
3. RC Customs Double Bridle
4. BoT Hock Boots
5. Riding Clinics
6. Board
7. All my riding "clothing"

Seven guilty pleasures

1. Wool coolers (what IS it with those?)
2. Matching saddle pads and polo wraps
3. Blingy things (because Molls is a girly-girl)
4. BoT Hock boots
5. Being able to keep my horse in a gorgeous barn
6. Having barn friends that I can go out to dinner/out out with
7. My horse

About a year ago, the first time I took Molls to the current barn for a clinic.

Seven things you love about horses and riding

1. What it does for my emotional stability
2. The people I have met through riding
3. How my horse loves me
4. The relationship I have with my horse
5. The confidence it has instilled in me
6. The ability to set and regulate goals
7. The fact that I can say "a horse" when people ask if I have any pets

Monday, March 3, 2014

Exercise of the Week

First off, Molls would like to say thank you to her fan club who wished her a happy birthday yesterday :)  Naturally she checks all the comments on her smartphone every night.

I came up with the idea for this "segment" while riding over the weekend because it hit me that I really, really love flat work exercises.  Granted, I'm a pretend Dressage Queen, so that kind of makes sense but I thought that since most of the blogs I follow are HJ/Eventer oriented maybe some of you would be interested in flatwork exercises?  Obviously even the hunter jumpers do tons of flatwork, and I always love having new things to do, since the same old stuff gets boring.  So we'll try it out this week and see how it goes.

This is hands down my favorite exercise for upward canter transitions.  It is especially effective in horses that have trouble picking up the correct lead.

First up, we have a super high tech diagram of the exercise, which I will explain in greater detail:

I should basically be a graphic designer.

So now take a look at the next diagram (below).  You'll see some awesome directional arrows, a star, and a blue arrow.

It's not as cray as it looks.

SO, the exercise begins at the orange star, on a 20ish meter circle to the left.  You can do this exercise at a walk or a trot, and I usually do it at the trot.  So you walk or trot your large circle to the left as normal until you get to the center of the ring, or the blue arrow.  The first time you pass through this blue arrow you change from left to right bend, and ride a small circle or volte in the opposite direction (following the orange arrows).  The circle is ridden in preparation for your upward canter transition.  As you come back to the blue arrow you change from right bend to left, and once the bend is developed, ask for canter.  I typically canter a full 20m circle and when I get back to the center of the ring (or the blue arrow) come down to a trot.

At this point, if Molls is unbalanced or rushing, I bring her all the way down to a halt.  (Add a come to Jesus moment here if necessary).

You are then going to repeat the exercise in the other direction.

Reverse, reverse!

So at this point you should be at the blue arrow either trotting from your downward transition, or at a halt because you had to come to Jesus regroup.  So either walk or trot off to the right, so you are starting this half of the exercise somewhere near the orange star.  Walk or trot your 20m circle to the right and when you cross through the middle (blue arrow), change from right to left bend and trot your small volte to the left.  Once again as you get back to your blue arrow change the bend from left to right, and once established ask for canter.  Canter your 20m circle to the right, and then repeat!! 

Why this exercise works:
So I said this exercise was great for upward canter transitions, and here is why.  When you ride a small circle such as a volte, the majority of your horses weight goes to their inside hind leg.  This makes sense because this is the leg that is doing the LEAST movement during a small circle, and you can think of your horse as traveling around this leg.  As a result, this leg becomes "loaded" with the majority of the horse's weight.

So for example, lets say your riding a volte to the right.  The majority of your horses weight is now on their inside hind, or right hind leg.  This is critical because when your horse picks up left lead canter, they are going to begin the transition with their.... you guessed it, right hind leg.  By loading the right hind with the horse's weight and energy, then quickly changing the bend, the right leg remains loaded and when you ask for canter they are set up perfectly for an upward transition.

Why I like this exercise:
I like this exercise for a few different reasons, and not just because it works so well for horses who struggle with a particular lead.  As a matter of fact, Mollie hardly EVER picks up the wrong lead and never has.  I do like it because Mollie is very forehand heavy, as are most horses.  This exercise really puts her weight on her hind end and as a result we usually end up with a lighter canter.

Mollie is also well known for her anticipation and rushing tactics (her favorite things).  Because this exercise has many direction/weight/gait changes it keeps her on her toes and she hasn't figured it out quite yet.  This pattern also slows her down quite a bit and doesn't allow for rushing into her canter because it's near impossible to quickly trot a volte (read: if your volte is fast, do it again).  Since the volte is slow and collected and she's set up so nicely for canter it eliminates the desire to rush into it.

So there you have it :)  I hope this is helpful to at least someone, and I'd love to hear if there are any exercises anyone would like me to go over.  Or if you have a certain problem you'd like to tackle with your horse please let me know!  I'm not a trainer by any means but I'm a total flatwork junkie :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Happy Birthday to Mollsie!!

Happy 17th birthday to the best girl I could have ever asked for :)  The above cuteness is totally thanks to the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I was bribing her with.  It's her most favorite snack so I save it for her birthday every year.

She was pissy the sandwich was all gone, and shortly after this picture was taken she went to snatch hay off the ground, under the open portion of the door, and before I could open it up all the way she yanked her head up and whacked her poll right on it.  Poor birthday girl :(  There was no cut or bump but I sore-no-more-ed the area anyways and gave her extra cookies.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Holy Mother of BoT

Alright listen.  I have long heard about the benefits of Back on Track products, mostly from Hillary and L. Williams.  I assumed they worked from all the positive reviews, and always figured a pair of hock boots would benefit Mollie.  And even though they probably wouldn't make a huge difference they definitely wouldn't hurt.  So last week I figured it was as good a time as ever to make our purchase, ordered a pair of hock boots, and waited until I got out to the barn today to use them.




I'm not sure what sort of magical things are wrapped inside these boots but I was absolutely floored at the difference in my horse.  Mind you she has not been ridden since last Sunday and has not been able to get outside in her field all week (therefore movement is restricted to her 12 foot wide run out attached to her stall.  It was also only 20 degrees.  My horse should have probably come out pretty stiff today.  She didn't.  Because of BoT magic.

I got to the barn and brought her in her stall to put the boots on.  She was basically disappointed they weren't edible, but otherwise had no qualms about me strapping them to her hocks.  I was a little worried that they looked big out of the box but they actually fit perfectly.  Couldn't have asked for a better fit.  I left them on while I got all my tack out, groomed, and tacked her up, and it ended up being exactly half an hour that she wore them.

Brought her into the ring and hopped on and right away I thought she felt extra swingy.  I wasn't ready to accredit it to the boots however, as I figured I was just looking for things to be different.  I was pretty surprised at how quickly she came together however.  She was very agreeable to lifting through her back and shoulders which was much appreciated.  When I picked up the trot she felt about the same.  She actually felt kind of short but she had (finally) gotten her feet done this week, by a different farrier, so I assumed she was just getting used to her hooves.  She quickly opened up her stride though so I wasn't worried.

What absolutely blew me away though was when I asked her to canter.  She literally bounced me up out of the saddle when I asked!! And this is coming from a horse who has pretty "tame" canter transitions.  I seriously felt like her hind end was right underneath me, which was really cool :)  We finished out the ride with lotsssss of counter bend, especially to the right where she likes to dive on her forehand and go around in constant haunches in.  At the very end of my ride I rode an exercise I'll talk about in greater length next week but it was amazing to experience what her body feels like when it is actually straight, not just "straight" that I've become accustomed to (spoiler alert, it's not usually straight at all).

So while it's pretty early to tell if our awesome ride was thanks to the BoT boots alone I'll definitely be using them regularly.  Like tomorrow :)