Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow Day

It finally freakin snowed!!!

Want to know what's fun?  Having to jump out of your back door (because it opens inside, not outside), to throw yourself through waist deep snow, to get to the front of the house, to dig a path to the front door, in order to exit your house.  Please note the entire story-height of snow on top of the roof.  Also, if you are wider than that path, you are not going to get inside.  Sorry.

As a native Rhode Island-er it's alarming that we haven't had a single snow day yet this year.  A couple of dustings but nothing actually winter worthy.  And while shoveling out the driveway is a total bey-otch, I'm totally ok with shoveling for a few hours and having the rest of the day to sit on my butt, catch up on the DVR, and write report cards.

When shoveling 24+ inches of snow, it's important
to dress like an eskimo.

There was a travel ban from 10pm Monday until 8pm last night, but midday today (Wednesday) I ventured out to the barn.  Luckily our BO lives within walking distance from the barn so the horses were all fed and watered as needed yesterday, and were actually able to go out today.

The barn is so pretty under all that white stuff :)

I took Molls out, removed the snowballs from her legs, and threw her tack on.  And I now present you with "how to ride your horse in a blizzard".

1. Put a wool cooler on your horse for the following reasons.
A) She will be cold
B) You probably haven't groomed her, and this will cover that up
C) It's fancy as fuck
D) It's really just a means of keeping your legs warm

Wonder why your reins are so wavy.  Realize they are frozen that way.

3. Decide that the jumps are totally do able, even though your horse has been inside for several days and you haven't jumped in over a month.  Horse will be perfect, because she just is.

Take a snap for your snap story to prove that you braved the blizzard to exercise your beast.  And also because she's cute.

Not pictured: Allowing your horse to walk to her paddock from the parking lot from herself, because there's literally nowhere for her to go except the plowed path to her gate with the snow up to her belly.

Stay warm friends!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

All About that Bass

Once upon a time I bought Mollie a quarter sheet.  I don't use it frequently, mostly whenever I'm digging in my trunk for something, come across it, and decide it's cold enough to warrant using it.  I believe the tag says it's cob sized which typically would be ok on a Mollie horse.  Buttttt, when her booty is involved, the fit really isn't what it should be.

Gurl sure can rock a mini skirt

Dat bum though

Ugh.  Mom.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Equine Winter Survival Tools

Living in New England your entire life prepares you for one thing, and one thing only... how to survive in every possible weather condition possible.  Being an equestrian puts an interesting twist on things because we have no choice but to be exposed to the elements... all of them.  Now that we're definitely in the throes of winter I figured I'd post about my winter barn essentials.

Lets start with our feet and work our way up.

Move over boot socks, you are absolutely useless to my toes below 30 degrees.  Despite my feet getting absolutely clammy and gross just thinking about these bad boys at any other time of the year, I live in them come winter.  Fuzzy socks are great.

Ok I know what you're thinking.  That's a picture of Uggs.  But bear with me for a second.  I got a pair of Uggs in high school, which is now like 8 years ago (WTF?!?!) and as a result they're pretty beat up.  This makes them the perfect barn footwear, because I don't feel badly about them looking any worse.  And here's a little secret equestrian boot manufacturers... sheepskin is 1,000 times warmer than anything you're lining my boots with.

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but once my hands get cold I am absolutely MISERABLE.  It's almost impossible to do anything around the barn with numb fingers, and these gloves usually do the trick.  They are fleece, so not exactly waterproof, but I usually don't have an issue with them, and I just think fleece does a better job of keeping things warm.

Ok all you Southerners, go ahead and tune out because you will probably never have to touch these bad boys.  These are Schmidt coveralls or bibs, and are basically the knockoff Carhartt brand.  Because I am poor.  These puppies are responsible for making me look like I've gained 100 pounds, make me 1,000x less mobile, but are absolutely essential for keeping me from crying after an 8 hour barn day.  I usually wear a pair of breeches underneath, incase I need to strip down and get on a naughty school pony, but between the two layers I am warm all day.

As far as warmth goes, layering is your friend.  I typically begin with a plain, fitted long sleeve t-shirt.  I like it to be fitted because it keeps the heat in better, and if it's too loose it can ride up, and it is IMPOSSIBLE to access your first layer once all of these layers are on.  On top of that usually goes a thin, half zip fleece.  I have a couple different ones and really don't have a preference for any brand in particular.  They all do the job.  On top of everything goes my sherpa lined Schmidt jacket.  This is hands down the warmest jacket I own and don't know what I ever did without it.

To top everything off is a headband.  I actually just crocheted one myself, mainly because I hate feeling like my ears are going to freeze, crack, and fall off.

The best part about all of this, is that I literally wear every one of these things shown above at the same time every Saturday.  I look absolutely ridiculous, and I'm sure my lesson kids think I'm weird, but there's no way I could make it through the day without all of these things.  Now to prepare for the snow tomorrow!!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Red Gelding: An Update

Those of you that have been following the blog for a bit know about Montana, the big red gelding in my life.  I'm helping his dad, D, out with him as he's the epitome of a green bean and D is a green horse owner as well.  I haven't updated on Montana since the summer so figured it was high time he gets some blog time again.

The biggest and bestest dork

Last summer I was riding Montana quite a bit, and he was going very nicely.  He had WTC pretty consistent under saddle, in both directions, and was finally able to trot and canter on a circle to the left.  Right was a little dodgy, but getting there.

Then winter came.

Montana doesn't "do" winter.

But he does do weird faces....

First of all, he hates the indoor.  It's getting better, but it's just not his favorite place.  Also, now that I'm working again I have less time to work him, therefore he's only getting worked by D and I once a week.  There is another trainer at the barn that is supposed to work Montana during the week, but that's never consistent so the poor guy was having some issues.

Riding him around the ring was like trying to pilot a baby giraffe, powered by a hamster running on a wheel.  Oh, and the hamster kept falling off.  So the beginning of the winter I advised D to buy a surcingle and a set of side reins, and we got started teaching the beast to lunge.  He actually picked things up faster than even I thought he would, and is starting to really get it!!

Thinking in progress

I don't have any pictures or videos of the lunging business, because I'm busy directing the beast, but he's finishing up his sessions with soft eyes, lots of chewing, and tongue licking, and really seems to like the consistency of the work.  Last week I even set out some trot poles and while they completely rocked his world for the first 10 minutes he eventually figured things out.

Most days after we lunge him either D or I will hop on for a little bit, just so the big guy still gets some under saddle time.  Fingers cross all the lunging will do wonders for his brain and balance, and he'll be better than ever come spring.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Feets

Today, I have a confession for blog land....

Sometimes I'm a pretty neglectful horse mom.

I blame this on the fact that my horse is an absolute trooper, and just kind of trucks along and puts up with my disorganization and lack of motivation a lot of the time.  My horse is also pretty considerate. For example...

Mid-November I went to Equine Affaire.  There I bought Mollie a zebra print turnout sheet.  Now she didn't need a turn out sheet, but hers was really old, it was an awesome deal, and it was zebra print, so I obviously bought it.  Keep in mind that I hardly EVER buy blankets because Mollie is extremely good to her blankies and gets turned out individually.  There's very rarely wear and tear on them, and as a result she's probably had some of her blankets for 10+ years.

Well wouldn't you know the day after I buy her a new sheet she tears her old one to absolute shreds.  And my only thought was how considerate.  I mean, another horse wouldn't have waited until I had a replacement sheet, but Mollie is just good like that.

Fast forward to now.  I've been having a heck of a time trying to get ahold of my farrier since switching barns.  Mollie's feet were last done the week before we moved barns which was.... the last week in October.  That's right everyone.  My horse had't had her feet done in two and a half months.  I did feel really badly about it, but to completely honest her feet didn't look that bad.

Since my farrier showed no signs of showing up anytime soon I asked for recommendations and contacted a new farrier.  He said he was pretty booked, but would fit me in as soon as he could.  Yesterday he called around 3:30, said he could be at the barn by 4, and off I went.  I pulled up and found my horse like this.

See how her hind left hoof is oh so casually stepping on her blanket?  Yeah, she had torn the blanket and the trim was wrapped around her shoe, so when I made her move she flailed around a bit, yet managed to free herself.  I took her into the barn, and discovered this.

She damn near ripped her shoe off, just seconds before the farrier pulled up after almost 12 weeks in this set up.  How considerate.  Thankfully the new farrier did an awesome job and Molls should be all set for the next 8 weeks, when I've already set up another appointment :)


Well I'm off to a fabulous start with blogging more this year... not.

Mollie says I suck.  Mollie is right.

But I'm here and riding a lot, and actually have rides to write about!  The most notable thing that's happened for Mollie and I lately is the reintroduction of regular lessons.  It's been years since I've had any sort of regular instruction aside from the random clinic here or there.  This was primarily because of money issues, but also because I just wasn't riding that often.  Our rides became more maintenance based than focused on making any sorts of progress.  Now that I'm riding a minimum of 3x a week Mollie is getting fitter, I'm getting better, and can justify spending the money on lessons again.

I contacted someone I took lessons with years ago, H, and she very happily came out in the beginning of December for a lesson.  I had two lessons in that month, and another lesson this past weekend, and hope to keep them on a once a month minimum schedule.  Perhaps the greatest thing to come of this, is after our second lesson H emailed me about riding Mollie herself.  H hasn't had a horse of her own in years, but has always had a project of some sorts.  Right now she's project-less, and since I only ride about 3-4 times a week anyways she asked if I'd be willing to share Mollie with her once or twice a week.  Umm, free training rides on my horse so you have something to ride??  Absolutely!!

H hopped on Mollie this past weekend at the beginning of my lesson and I'm just going to go ahead and say... my horse looked phenomenal :)  It feels great to be taking regular lessons again, and I do have lots of video, it just needs to be edited.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Friends

Mollie once again proved her weight in gold one day this week.  An old co-worker of mine brought her 2 year old for a visit to the barn, and Mollie was an absolute saint.

Hoping to get my hands on the video of Mollie trotting with this kiddo.  She was SO stinking good, and just jogged along while I held on to said peanut's leg.  Meanwhile peanut was laughing hysterically and bouncing all over the place.  Mollie literally didn't put a foot wrong and was rewarded with lots of apples and carrots :)

2014: Year in Review

I can't believe 2014 is over, which also means I've been blogging for a year!  While I definitely wasn't as active as I wanted to be I'm glad there weren't any months that I totally stopped, and think there's obviously room for improvement this coming year.

Before I started blogging myself I loved reading the year in review posts and am so excited to do my first.  Albeit late... Whoops.


January was cold.  So cold.  Polar vortex cold.  As a result, Molls didn't get ridden a whole lot.  When we did rides were hit or miss, as can be expected when she has an entire week off between rides.  To fill the blog I started participating in the 30 day Bloggy Challenge.


February was the month of snow.  Lots of snow.  All the snow.  So much snow, I dedicated an entire post to winter memes.  This was also the month that I wrote my favorite post of the entire year, where I outlined what I would say to my horse if I could.  I did more riding in February than January, thanks to a few flukey warm weather weekends, but reading back through my posts it seemed like things went from 40 degrees to half a foot of snow in an instant.  Typical New England.


Evidently March was the month of blog hops and exercises.  Honestly I totally forgot about the "Exercise of the Week" segment that I started, but the posts can be found hereherehere, and here.  I also became a Back on Track believer and Mollie celebrated her 17th birthday!


April brought better weather (praise!) and more riding, much to Mollie's dismay.  I introduced the blog-o-sphere to Montana, spent days where I should be working at the barn instead, and had plenty of horse filled weekends.  Evidently nothing too exciting happened this month.


This month I had a serious blast riding multiple horses.  I talked a little bit about Pit Pat, made some progress with Montana under saddle, and briefly introduced Gobi Pony (and his luscious locks) to the world.  Mollie also got her teeth done although it really didn't help any of the issues I was hoping it would.  Evidently I didn't talk much about Mollie this month... bad mom.


June was a month of little riding because of real life getting in the way.  I did manage to do full write ups on Gobi and Calvin and I periodically talked about Mollie too.  Then Molls side lined me for a few weeks (during the busiest time of the year at work... thanks kid) and I got to sport a really gross boot for a few weeks.  I did finally finish up school, and Mollie continued to keep things interesting by rubbing some holes in her face, and winning herself some more time off.


July was kind of a mess.  I really don't have a lot to say about it.  I began the month trying to combat Mollie's NQR issues and they were resolved, mostly, with a new shoe setup.  Then life got real cray, and the most horse action I got was during a clinic I gave at Beech Brooke Equine Rescue.  I rounded the month out with Mollie's heaves acting up again, and throwing a wrench into my clinic with Jean Luc Cornille (recaps here and here).


We began August with the absolute low point of our year, when I had to make an emergency vet call because Mollie couldn't breathe.  I freaked out a lot, she got started on Prednazone, and it made her kinda crazy.  Because we were taking it easy riding wise this month, I did a few blog hops and talked lots about Montana (here and here).


Apparently not a whole lot happened horse wise in September, as it is the month I had the least amount of posts.  I began the year going back to school as a sub, which allowed me to ride a bit in the beginning of the school year as I wasn't working much.  That changed about mid-September however, and my life got really busy, really fast.  At the end of the month I published one of my most viewed posts, the cost breakdown of Mollie's COPD diagnosis.


October was a pretty fabulous month, even if I apparently didn't write much... bad blogger.  I even wrote a ride recap for the first time in MONTHS.  I was very lucky to get some updated photos taken from Doug Foscale Equine Photography, and then shared some of my thoughts on equine photo shoots in general.


November was a very interesting month.  I didn't really plan on moving Mollie, but that was exactly what we did the first weekend of November.  I was unsure about moving at first, but the biggest pro was that Mollie now lives 5 minutes from my house.  This continues to be the biggest pro to having her at this barn.  I began riding more, and even jumped Molls around a little bit for the first time in years.  Mid month I went to Equine Affaire and bought all sorts of goodies :)


December started off with me putting Mollie back in her double bridle and loving every second of it since then.  Things got a little weird mid month, with Mollie losing weight (very unlike her) and a discussion about appropriate forage in the winter months.  I still need to update everyone on that situation, but got distracted by Christmas things... one of them being Fly on Over's Secret Santa!

This has been a whirlwind of a year, and I can't believe it's over already.  Writing everything down like this is an interesting reminder of everything that has happened, and an interesting view of the ups and downs we faced each month.  Here's to 2015, and hopefully more consistent riding and blogging. 

Thanks for following along!