Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Old and New

 OK... as I'm sure everyone who is any one knows, I recently had a birthday. Of course, said birthday was a a (very good) horse show, so it passed without mention. But what's a birthday without gifts? And cake... But I didn't actually have any cake. Damn.
First up... A gorgeous halter for the Tillner, courtesy of my sister. It's a brown Perri's halter with pink padding... because every pony needs a little pink. It even has her whole name engraved in a fancy-schmancy script. Pony is stylin'.
 Since my parent's just sent a check... I splurged. I bought Tilly a bridle tag, since RC and Delight already have one. Time for her to fit in. Cute, right?
And since it was conveniently helmet awareness week, I bought a Lamicell helmet for under $50 to replace my much loved GPA that may or may not have been compromised in my ejection off of Delight in January.
Better safe than sorry AND late than never, right?
I was worried that it would feel cheap (again, compared to the GR8), but I have to give it the highest compliment that I think a helmet can get: I didn't even notice it while I was schooling the ponies today. Win.

So that's all the new stuff... what's the old?
That box sitting outside of my barn is an old old old tool box that was found in the barn when my mom and I cleaned it out originally. It presumably belonged to/was made by my great uncle Ray, so I thought it was cool enough to be a family heirloom.

Yep, I have the kind of family where hand made old tool boxes are kept.

Unfortunatly it's big and heavy and I really don't need a six foot long toolbox of any sort.
So it was recycled to become a planter! Mounted on the side of the barn a little off the ground to help break up the 'parking lot monotony' that having the monster driveway can inspire.

 It has strawberries!

Friday, June 21, 2013

First Day of Summer!

Summer's here! Brings to mind cute sundresses, flip flops and tan lines, right?

Not the biggest rainstorm I've seen in a while?

Thanks, Michigan. Really.
At least my Arena will be watered...
So what's a girl to do when there's no riding and/or training to be done?

How about a little summer cleaning? What's left to organize?  The saddles are all cleaned and stored, the bridles are cleaned and hanging neatly, the brush bag is full but neat and I rearranged my feed storage area earlier this week.

I've got it!
Winter blankets! I have a few hanging around that need to find a (different) place to call home. So I dug out all of my winter blankets, which had been piled into a cardboard box outside of Tilly's stall. I took a quick inventory and folded everything worth saving.

12 blankets of varying weights, 4 fleece liners, 4 coolers, three quarter sheets and two hoods

 Yikes... I guess it's a good think that RC went through a few blankets last winter! On the plus side, I am fully stocked up on 78" and 80" blankets. Unfortunately, I only have one liner and one heavyweight that will fit Tilly. Guess she gets a Christmas gift.
After: 7 easily storable rubbermaid tubs
Of course, much like cleaning out your closed and coming across that high school prom dress that you knew you would have another occasion for so just haven't thrown out, I had to try on some of the equine winter ware that I havent had much use for (yet!).
Delight was not a fan.

Tilly too was subjected to the Hood

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Oh, RC....

Well, yesterday was a typical Monday.
I rode two of the three horses, cleaned the barn, bought feed, went to work, went grocery shopping (looks like it's mac n' cheese this week. Love sales!), taught a lesson then went to go pick up oats and hay... and then crashed into bed by 11.

Perfectly normal day, right?

Anyway, I put the horses in at night to give my pastures a rest (and to give the mares a rest from eachother and RC). They were all excited to come in for dinner, and hung over their stalls chewing as I filled water buckets and talked to them about tomorrows schedule.

Evidently RC did not appreciate being told that he wouldn't be worked until tomorrow.
There are at least two poops in there...
His stall was suspiciously neat... His water bucket was not.
Gross, RC. Gross.

He's so on the docket for tomorrow.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Little Demonstration, Shall We?

Ahhh.... it's been over a week since the show. I had a weekend at home.

Nice and relaxing, right?

Well... No. Not really.

Entrepreneurial me decided that the best way to jump start Dressage (yes, with a capital 'D') is to hold a demonstration to dispell all myths that Dressage is full of middle aged snobs who only trot on circles with their trainers yelling in German on their big imported warmbloods.
Dressage Queens, amiright?

Make a note: need another post about Dressage Queens

  Anyway, so I made a date, sent out flyers and spread the word. Of course, the 4-H is the original group that asked for a demonstration, so they generously offered to provide the food. Ironically, none of the 4H-ers came. None.

When I was in the 5th grade, I hosted (ok, my parents hosted; I just invited) a Halloween party. Everyone was going to come in costume, play silly games and eat candy before trick-or-treating as a group. I was really excited; I made 'official' invitations, set up games and dressed up in what was undoubtedly an awesome costume (sorry, can't remember what it was).
No one came.

That's kind of the feeling that I was trying to avoid with this demo.

Fortunately my angst about the attendance of my demo was all for not. People came! People actually enjoyed it! I might have even started to convert a few people to the wonders of Dressage...

Me and my Demo Riders
 On the horse front... I had some really good rides on Tilly recently. Today, for instance, I even asked for - and received-  some shoulder in at the canter! Since our weakest point at the last show was the balance in the canter when moving from 20m circles to straight, that's what I am going to dramatically improve. I do not want to be last in my class again. *shudder*

Delight, my 15.2hh pony...
Delight is starting to come around. For whatever reason, she was incredibly stiff last week but today she warmed up beautifully. I'm trying hard to get her lengthenings to be even half as nice as Tilly's. Delight can sit and carry all day... so the lengthenings are her weakness at the moment. Normally I wouldn't worry, but I am going to try to qualify (again) at first level with Delight in July... so the clock is ticking. Unfortunately, I think the real answer is that I have to work her more than I have been. It's just so hard to get everything done in a day, isn't it?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cooler by the Lake I & II... Or Where Tillner Shines...

This weekend, I brought three students, Tilly and the poodles to their first recognized dressage show (not the poodles, they are old hats at this).
Was it stressful? Yep.
Were there show nerves? You betcha.
Did we survive? Sure thing.

Ok, so maybe the pony isn't a ticking time bomb
As a matter of fact, we kicked butt. All both of my students who were attempting to qualify, qualified with room to spare and my student who's only goal was to stay in the ring earned scores in the 70's. My kids took High Point and reserve high point both days... I looked like the Wonder Trainer... Or at the very least, the impolite out-of-towner who brought in the ringers.  Whoops.
Pony warmup action.

We came, we showed, we conquered... To put it less than modestly.

And then there was Tilly. I'll admit, that she had me a little nervous on Friday's warm up. The walk from the barn to the out door warm up was not her normal calm self. As a matter of fact, I was the only one walking. Miss Tilly opted to passage her way to the arena with her tail over her back and her neck straight up in the air. She even seemed rather large when she was all puffed up like that. Of course when I got on and trotted around on a loose rein for a few minutes, she went right to work. My tension level dropped dramatically when her little pony brain returned to settle between those huge satellite dish sized ears. There was a chance that we might qualify this weekend and I wouldn't look like a total poser as a dressage trainer.

That's the silly thing about horse shows isn't it? Something in my mind starts asking of all of my past shows have been pure luck and I'm not actually capable of riding in a dressage test, even if it is only training level. The self doubting questions come out: what if my pony blows up? have I actually trained her to do any of this? do we even belong at this level? who am I kidding, I'm not as good as these other trainers!
And I know that I am capable of riding a training level test. I mean, training level isn't even really dressage! It's preparing a pony for dressage to come; it's advanced open show riding. If I can't hack it at an open show, then I should probably just hang up my saddle and take up knitting.
Chantilly, not 100% perfect, but still kicking tail

Of course, Chantilly was her lovely perfect pony self. We had a few bobbles with the connection and a slight push towards her inside shoulder in the canter work, but nothing earth shattering. She was most certainly not under prepared for the level and at the same time, capable of so much more that there's room for improvement which only bodes well for the championships.
The canter could use better balance, she wasn't as light as at home

When all was said and done, we qualified with a 72.6% and a 69.4%. Lamplight here we come!

Our other tests earned a 70.8% at training 1 and a 71.9% at training 2. Overall, we were High Point Open rider (and pony) for both Saturday and Sunday.
Tilly's stregth: the stretchy trot
Judges comment: "Too much stretch"

Yay, Tilly!

We qualified!

Tired pony after four tests...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bad Thing Happen In Three's, Right?

Bad things come in three's.... right?

Because my Monday sucked.

Ok, fine, it wasn't completely horrible. I mean, I had a wonderful ride on the Tillner. She was up and light and honest. Have I ever mentioned how much I love this pony? I love her... lack of spook and all.

Then I worked Delight... Who needs a new saddle. As it would turn out my medium wide Schleese no longer fits chunky pony shoulders... So she's getting crabby about the pinching. I would love to put my w-i-d-e JES back on her, but it's loaned out at the moment. I suppose that beautiful brown Stubben will just have to do. It tends to ride a little too close to her spine through the channel, but with a half pad, I think I can make it work (for now). This is why I have 8 saddles and three horses. They just keep changing.
Since the saddle was not ideal, I went ahead and just took her out for her first official 'conditioning ride' (aka a trail ride on the aids) across the street. Trot up the hills, trot down the hills, canter around the tree, race across the pasture. I had so much fun, and I think Delight did too.

She's a speedy gigantic pony.

Then for my bad day.

Let's get one thing straight. I am not a mechanic. I can treat a wound, know what to do with a colic-y horse, pull shoes..... but vehicle repair is beyond me.

And I had a flat. (Bad thing #1)

So after an hour of reading the owner's manual and struggling with the basics of a car jack, I had located the jack, assembled the jack, disassembled the jack and used the pieces to lower my spare, disconnected my spare from it's 'leash' (which had rusted to the rim) with the help of a handy ball-peen hammer, and jacked up the truck.

When I went to remove the lug nuts, I came up against a universal truth: I am much weaker than a guy with a pneumatic gun. Those bastards Would. Not. Budge.

So I used my significant mass, jumping up and down on the tire iron, hanging on to the rail of the bed for support. And those bolts loosened!
Immediately after celebrating my success, I vowed to diet harder and more effectively.

So with much cursing and sweating I jacked up the truck (after setting it down when I read the manual that said loosen before jacking up... wasted all that effort because I can't bother to read) unscrewed all six bolts using my body-weight method of bolt loosening, and wrestled the tire off of the truck.

Now came the hardest part.... lifting the spare up so that the holes aligned perfectly with the bolts...
More bad words ensued in which I cast aspersions on the parentage of everyone ever involved withe the manufacture, engineering and/or design of this particular system on my truck.
And finally: Eureka! It all came together with one giant dose of luck, the wheel aligned and settled into place. I then qickly reapplied at least two lug nuts so that it wouldn't fall off and require me to try that again.

Patting myself on the back, I settled down to lower the truck back to the ground.
And lower.
And lower still.

The G*%-D@$#  M*%$#^F@#%!$& spare was flat. Flatter than the original. (Bad thing #2)

Pretty sure my uber-religious neighbors were praying for my soul after my last tirade.

I brought out my air compressor.... And it didn't work. If anything, it made the tire flatter. Piece of crap... Guess it's time for a new one (good thing my birthday is right around the corner, right?)

All in all this little project took me several hours. So I missed the appointment that I made on the tire place last friday to get new tires.... (Ironically, bad thing #3).

So today I drove it in to the tire place... all 12 miles averaging 20 MPH. Of course, everyone who saw me slowly driving by with my flashers on felt the need to let me know that I had a flat but no, they didn't have an air compressor I could use. Helpful.

 But I knew it was going to be a good day. One woman in her speedy little minivan got stuck behind me for 200 yards of windy, unpassable road, which evidently pissed her off to no end. At the stop sign at the end of the road, she opted to cut through the parking lot of a business to skip the sign and get ahead of me while flipping me the bird.
As it would turn out, cutting through parking lots to skip a traffic sign is crappy driving at best, and actually illegal. As she discovered when the red and blue lights of the sheriff's vehicle fired up behind her.

I slowly laughed my way the last 200 yards to the tire place. Win.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The War is On

Now that the weather has warmed up above the frost point, there's a new issue to deal with in the horse world. We all know it. we all hate it.

 I'm not talking happy little butterflies and bumble bees, I'm talking about gnats, biting flies, and ticks (god, I hate ticks). The kinds of bugs that drive us - and our horses- crazy.

For the last two days, all three of my horses have run themselves into a blowing lather before I could bring them in for dinner to try to escape the bugs. Poor Tilly and RC have big welts all over them.
Being the caring, conscientious horseperson that I am, I Cannot Have This.

My first layer of defense is a liberal application of fly spray...

Followed by a layer of Swat in ears, around eyes, on the belly and udder/sheath...

Top it off with a mosquito mesh sheet (LOVE Schneider's. Literally cannot say enough good things about this sheet)...

And it still isn't enough. So how does one up the ante from flyspray, sheets and fly ointment?

I know you never thought that you'd see the day, but I'm going the supplement route.  And I know that I have never ordered from Smartpack, ever (because, let's face it, who isn't jealous that they didn't have that simple yet brilliant idea and become rich off of other horsepeople?), but that seal has been broken.

As of yesterday, I placed my first Smartpack order.
Stay tuned for a supplement review
Of course, one 'earns' free shipping with an order over $75... Challenge accepted. 
Oh, I kept it reasonable. I only ordered things I needed, like more Swat and Excalibur (tis the season, right?). Oh, and a bridle tag for Tilly. 

See? Only things I absolutely needed.