Monthly Archives: February 2011

This is just wrong

Really mid 70’s to 80 degree weather and I come home to snow???? Not at all funny 🙂

We are adding some crush and run topped with stone dust to our sacrifice paddocks and thankfully they finished right before the snow arrived. However, it’s not ideal for it to be all freeze and thaw while the paddocks settle.

I will conquer the mud!

Kurt packed them down with the big vibrating roller

We put in the paddocks last year and they are the greatest thing ever for those of us with small property. I bring the horses up into the paddocks and lock them in when the fields are wet and they will spend time there when I reseed. We have a good rotational grazing system but you need to keep the horses off the wet fields if you want grass so these paddocks are fantastic. We have a nice geotextile cloth down and already had a good base so we basically just added material as the horses wear it down over time.

The horses have been hanging out in the front field and acting like total goons running and bucking. Diamond says Hi! Shady, a boarders Tb, is in the background and is also quite cute.

His face is one of those that make you smile everytime you see it. He is always happy about life.

They are all very cute but I have to say that my horse is the cutest of them all 🙂 He is so adorable but so darn annoying all wrapped into one.

Someone had emailed me yesterday that is shopping for horses. She was asking about Shoes and mentioned she had a connemara/tb that she loved. She called her horse a ferrario on wheels which totally made me laugh because I often refer to my horse as a sports car. Her description of what she liked to ride fit Shoes to a tee and if you like a conn/tb you more than likely are going to love riding Shoes because he feels a lot like one. I love getting emails from people who read my blog! I hope she comes to see him and falls in love 🙂

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Trip South!!!

I headed out early Thursday morning to go visit with Allie and escape to warmer weather. I took Cool Casey down to stay and brought Shine My Shoes along with me to ride while I was down there. I figured it would be fantastic mileage for him to not only take a trip but to ride in lots of new places.

The horses settled in super quick and Allie and I hit the trails. I  got to ride Track’s protegĂ© who was a CANTER Delaware Park donation who Allie has bought for herself. He is a total blast to ride and lead the trail like he had been doing it his whole life. Allie has many thousands of acres of riding right off her farm with gorgeous sand footing. You could ride for days out there. So amazing!

We took a visit to the CANTER farm in Cameron, NC where we have most of the CANTER horses. What a cute place with various fields and lots of run in sheds. I got to visit with some of the horses that came from Delaware Park. I rode Zippy and Kiss a Monster. Zippy is such a cool horse and one of those horses who is pretty plain until you get on him and then you find yourself going OMG. The canter on that horse is just lovely and he has a super brain. Kiss a Monster aka Monster was a horse that I had here in training for several months but he was growing like a weed and we thought he would benefit from some time to grow. Wow, he sure as heck did grow and is now about 16.1 h and cuter than cute. Suzanne had remarked how lovely he was and that he felt like a big time horse (she has ridden some of the most famous upper level eventers) so that was cool to hear as I had thought the same thing. His training is all still there and he was so soft and rideable. Allie took a bunch of pics so hopefully I can post some soon.

Shoes went out on his first trail ride down there (2nd trail ride ever!) and was absolutely incredible. He has grown up so much but it was neat to see him figuring it out as he went. He started out a bit nervous as Casey was hollering and he wasn’t fond of the dog that was with us but he settled in nicely. We had some nice trots and canters and played in a big pond which was super fun. He was really proud of himself! It was 80 degrees so the poor guy wasn’t sure what to think.

We headed out for his last trail ride yesterday and there as a group of six horses so a lot to handle and he was a pro. He was even better and would happily lead or follow. We mostly walked the whole time and then at the end there were three of us who went for a lovely canter and Shoes was in the back and cantered along so nicely. I had a perma smile on my face because he has the most incredible balanced canter where he just sits so soft in your hand never pulling and is just so adjustable. What a good boy!

I made the 8 hr trip home last night and am stil pretty tired. I hate driving solo but perhaps a sign that I am growing up when I felt brave enough to make the journey by myself 🙂 Shoes looked very tired when he got home last night and he was laying down in his stall when I came out this morning. He was happy to see me and is now out eating some of the grass coming up.

The trip was great for him and I think he has really grown up. He is such an amazing horse that I am surprised nobody has snapped him up. He isn’t for someone buying their first ottb but he would be perfect for someone who is a good rider looking for a horse who is going to be very competitive in eventing/jumpers.

I’m typing from my new computer and it is quite awesome. Kurt was eager to show me how quickly it processes the video’s so hopefully I will get some new video up this week.

It’s a good morning

Is there anything better than just flying down the trails on a good Tb???? No really there isn’t 🙂 I had to give Shoes another carrot early this morning with his breakfast for being such a good boy!

As Kurt and I were riding yesterday we talked about how lucky we are to have such nice trails close by our house. We not only do we have state owned land all around our farm that we can ride directly to but also this nice trail system that is a 5 min ride from the farm. The trails are so good for babies because they are long and straight with nice sand footing and closed in by woods. I prefer to take the greenies to a place that is off the farm and a bit closed in before I graduate to the open fields. The trails are nice and wide so you can ride side by side which is excellent for getting babies confident. Kurt and Junior act as a buffer zone that I can use to give the babies guidance.

Junior, my connemara/tb, is such an interesting horse and he still puzzles me with some of his antics. I have never met a horse who is so opinionated about the way people ride. I had an old friend come out to ride and put her on him thinking he will give her a nice easy ride. Ha, nope he was a nut job. Bucking, taking off and just out of sorts. No clue what the deal was but there are just some people who appear to be good riders but ride in a way that aggravates him. He can go from a puppy dog to a nut job in a matter of seconds and it always leaves me scratching my head trying to figure him out. Is it too much leg, too much hand, a hot seat or him just being annoyed by the rider. Some people just can’t ride sensitive horses is what I think it ultimately comes down to.  Maybe it was the saddle..like I said he is opinionated and I really don’t have a clue. He likes to embarrass me!

This was crossing my mind yesterday as we went flying down the trails and Kurt had this huge smile plastered on his face and at one point I said that I was ready to trot and he looked over and said he had just gotten going and could we keep going 🙂 Rock on, Kurt! Somehow the horse who was bucking like a rodeo horse earlier in the week was flying down the trail on a loose rein just loving life. Junior is an interesting horse and perhaps a horse that only a mother can love and even at that sometimes I would like to strangle him. He has the most annoying habits in the world and his whinny is so ear-piercing it can make you want to throttle him when he screams and screams for whatever reason. He has so many bad habits and his ground manners are awful despite persistent corrections. Kurt and I overlook all these things because we both really like riding him. He is almost all TB (just 1/4 connemara which gives him all the annoying habits) and we compare him to a sports car.

I really enjoy foxhunting but this year I haven’t hunted much instead focusing on riding with Kurt on the weekends. Life is always a balancing act of keeping everyone happy and I have to find ways to spend time with Kurt while getting all the work done (training horses). He really enjoys a casual trail ride and wasn’t much on foxhunting so trail riding it is. It’s nice to get out and spend time enjoying nature and having good conversation. We always feel refreshed and happy when we get back even if he is sore and complains the next few days after a long ride 🙂

There really is something about a good trail ride that makes you appreciate your horse and this morning I am feeling a sense of accomplishment in regards to Shoes. I was talking with Suzanne who is retraining the CANTER horses in NC and she remarked that she tends to enjoy the more difficult horses (as does Allie). We laughed that perhaps we are all a bit messed up in the head but I really believe it’s that sense of pride you feel knowing where you started and perhaps it’s a bit of ego boosting that happens knowing you can ride a horse that perhaps isn’t all that easy and turn him into a horse that everyone wants?

It really does fill me with pride knowing that I started with this skinny upside down necked horse who had no concept of going forward or relaxing his back. He felt like riding an inverted pogo stick and he had zero confidence in himself. Now you get on and you feel a soft rideable horse who is working correctly over the back and using the energy for good things and not bad. We aren’t out of the woods yet in terms of his occasional bouts of attitude but I really think I’m on the upswing of getting him to focus on being good and not bad. My head does get a bit big when I go for a lesson and hear that he is fancy and that he looks very light and soft. We all need to hear that we have done a good job and that someone else appreciates the horse that we have put so much time and effort into. I’m in a happy mood today and looking forward to continued adventures with Shoes.

Exactly what is needed

I’m a believer in good trail rides to teach horses how to go forward and how to canter. We haven’t been able to get out much due to weather but we are on a roll here lately.

I decided to take Shoes on his first trail ride today. Kurt always rides Junior who is an excellent lead horse. Junior will go anywhere and doesn’t mind the bouncing babies being silly. Earlier this spring, I had a lovely mare who couldn’t quite figure out the canter in the ring and we would go out and Kurt would pick up a canter and get far enough out in front of me that she decided she should canter instead of trot and sure enough a few of those rides and we suddenly had a canter. It’s an easy no fuss way of teaching young horses and making it fun for them.

I wasn’t sure what I would have with Shoes today but I was confident I had put all the right basics in and he was ready. He was amazing! He looked at things but was quite brave and really relaxed. He was a tad bit nervous when I first got on so we picked up the trot right away and just let him trot until he relaxed. I believe the best thing is always to let them go forward and don’t make them more nervous by holding them back. If you have to trot or canter for the first 10 min then go ahead and do so. Eventually, they do learn it’s no biggie and relax. He had such a lovely trot and was so soft and balanced. I just love riding him because he gives you such a great feel. Sits so nicely in your hand never pulling and a lovely soft mouth.

I wanted to work on the canter so I had Kurt pick up the canter and just followed in behind him. The first canter was just so good and he had no behavior at all. I got up in my 2pt and rested my hands on his neck and just let him go. He was so light and balanced.

On the way home, we tried another canter and he was a bit silly wanting to buck. He did a few bucks and then I gave him a good yank and he stopped and cantered nicely after that. I had Kurt do multiple transitions back and forth between trot and canter and I would follow in each time teaching Shoes it’s just no big deal and to just relax and he really figured it out. We had a really long canter and Kurt and I were all smiles.

Wow, it was just so great and Shoes was really proud of himself. Junior was also perfect and did a great job giving us a nice confidence boosting ride.

I really feel like I have a talented horse on my hands who is going to be super fancy. He isn’t the easiest horse but there is nothing complicated about him. It’s just teaching him his new job and getting him focused in on working and not being silly. With a steady program he is really going to shine. I’m eager to show him off and hope to start doing some more jumping soon.

Looking good!

The weather is finally improving and providing some much needed motivation for everyone. The sun was out but the 30mph wind gusts were not so much fun today. I started off with Diamond H who was quite good despite the crazy wind. He was looking around at things he never took a second glance at before but that was the worst the did which was impressive considering the rest of the horses today!

I brought Casey in and got him all clean up pulling his mane and clipping what I could. He really never got much of a coat and looks really good. I will give him a bath before we head for North Carolina. I would have ridden him but he was missing a shoe.

The wind has gotten even more intense and my boarder couldn’t even get her horse to go around so I figured I would just lunge shoes. He was really good to lunge and the canter looks fantastic. He no longer has any trouble cantering multiple circles very balanced and uphill. He has stopped bucking and being silly as well which is fantastic.

We tried to get some conformation pictures as well but they never come out as good as I hope. Really good conformation pictures are hard to get but you can see how much weight and muscle he has put on. He is one fancy horse and is going to kick some butt in the spring.

For reference

June 2010

Sept 2010

Nov 2010

Today

It is supposed to be a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully not so darn windy. The wind wouldn’t be bad but the farmer left corn up right along side the ring and when the corn blows and the trees start blowing it just makes riding super difficult. The horses feel so good now that it has warmed up and the ground isn’t frozen. They just need a few good rides under them to settle down into work again.

Winter blues but a glimmer of hope

It has seemed like the month where all my computer equipment and camera’s have went on the fritz. Kurt and I tend to measure everything in terms of how long we have been married. We bought most of our equipment either before or when we got married so about 7yrs ago. The computer is outdated and has been acting up for a while now and I have just ignored it hoping it would magically get better.

Our camera and video camera are highly abused with sand, dirt, bad weather and a ton of use. Not to mention they are getting old as well. I took my camera to get cleaned and they told me our telephoto lenses was not worth repairing. Ouch! Now our video camera makes a sound of death when you turn it on.

I did give Kurt the go ahead to buy another computer. We do a ton of photo and video editing so a computer is necessary and the laptop doesn’t cut it. Let’s just say you should not give a man your credit card and tell him to buy whatever he thinks is needed. Men + electronics are like horse women in tack stores. Ouch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It better be a really awesome computer or else!

Looks like I should start looking for new lenses for our camera and I really want an upgraded camera body as well. We have a Nikon D-70 and it works fine so I suppose I should hold off. I will put that on the list of wants and not needs. We all know what that is don’t we 🙂

We are doing a few more farm improvements as well. The one thing about living in Delaware is that it is flat and low with clay soil. We built awesome sacrifice paddocks or heavy use areas to bring the horses up into when the fields are wet so we can have nice grass. I have a good rotational grazing system but in winter it’s cold, wet and muddy. We need to add more crush and run and stonedust to build the paddocks up a bit more. As they get low which they tend to do naturally as horses walk on them (they do have fabric underneath) the water begins to lay and mud is created.

I was venting to a friend yesterday about how I always feel so poor and I wonder how different life would be without horses. Growing up, my family was heavily involved with horses and I know first hand it is a 24×7 lifestyle. The difference is that I know horses aren’t where the money is so I do work a full-time job which allows me to have a comfort level in paying for all the horse expenses and our farm. In another year or two we will be completed with the farm projects and hopeful at the point where we can just enjoy it all.

Winter is depressing so I have these thoughts about how riding is a chore and not fun every winter 🙂 Seasonal depression is common for those of us without an indoor! I immediately felt better yesterday when I saw the weather is going to be warm and dry for the next week. There is hope on the horizon 🙂

Last night, Kurt and I finished up clipping Diamond H and he looks pretty cool. I gave him a chaser clip which is neat looking on a big horse. You basically make a diagonal line from the ear down the body and clip everything below. I couldn’t stand all the hair he had on him and with the warm weather coming (see, don’t I sound more positive now) he needed to be clipped. Not to mention it looks more professional. He is so good to work on and didn’t need any drugs to be clipped. Love him!

This time next week I will be heading down to North Carolina to visit with Allie. I am going to take Cool Casey down with me to leave down there. He is a lovely horse and ready to be sold but this hard frozen ground is not kind to his feet. I think he will do super well in the nice sandy footing. He is a gorgeous horse and has the temperament and personality that I adore. I need to give him a good bath, mane pulling and a minor clip so they don’t have to do that when he gets there. I will miss him and his buddies are going to be sad as he is the instigator of all the field antics. I keep telling him it is no wonder his feet hurt when he is galloping around bucking and rearing with his buddies. He doesn’t know what it means to just chill.

It’s important to make the right match

In the past several years, CANTER MA has shifted focus in the way we sell our horses. We used to sell them right off the farm with no retraining for under $1k.

I got involved with CANTER on a whim. Allie, CANTER MA’S Director, had sent out an email asking for anyone who could temporarily board some horses. I emailed and said I could take two and she dropped them off. She really didn’t know me very well at all but I asked if I could do the training and help get them new homes. I believe both of those horses sold in about 4 months and for pretty decent prices. We quickly realized people were more interested in the horses with retraining than those who we didn’t know much about.

Now we really only sell horses that have been able to at least get into the retraining program for a month. We have found it allows us to truly get to know the horse, test the horse out in various situations and figure out what type of career the horse is going to want to have. We also are able to price the horses at market value because they do have retraining and we find people are willing to pay the prices for a horse who has been in professional training and properly restarted so they don’t have to do all the first steps.

We take them out on various off the farm trips, trail riding, little shows and all those first experiences and start to figure out what type of rider these horses will fit. I have always said that one of the reasons I truly love working with CANTER is watching the horses progress during this initial training and being responsible for finding that perfect home. There is no pressure to just “sell” the horse instead it is wait until that right person comes along. We have no reason to be anything but honest. I think sometimes I am a bit too honest but if you want to know about the horses in the program it is really easy to just go and read the blogs. I try to keep a true account of how each horses progresses in their training.

I was reminded of that this weekend when I had a lovely shopper come to try out Diamond and Shoes. She was such a fantastic person and was looking for a horse that she could learn dressage on. She was coming off a pretty easy going and smaller moving type of horse. She loved Diamond’s personality and attitude but found his trot way to big for her level of riding experience. She fell in love with Shine my Shoes. You could see the minute she got on him she felt comfortable and she had a great ride on him.

I had a feeling she might be making an offer and yet deep down I knew I would have to decline knowing this was not the right horse for her. Even though she would be a great home I did not think it would work out long term. Shoes is a fantastic horse but he is also a horse who would test someone that was inexperienced and learn to intimidate them just because he can 🙂

It’s not about just selling the horse and taking the money for us. We want everyone to be happy and we don’t want horses returning back to us because we didn’t make a good match.

She was super nice and thanked me for being honest. All weekend I couldn’t stop thinking about this person and how I can see her getting taken advantage of in the shopping process. I hope she finds the right horse and I feel like I gave her some good counseling on questions to ask and how to figure out what exactly she needs.

Some of my advice was along the lines of finding a horse who would fit her lifestyle and current level of experience. I always advise someone to make a list of questions that you send when you make the initial contact about a potential horse. Tell me what you are looking for in a horse. For example, I want something age 5-10yrs old ranging from 15.2-16.2 h in the price range of under $5k. I have been riding for X years and have experience with young horses (or don’t) and have experience with Tb’s (0r don’t). I would like something that can compete at X level and also trail ride. I have my own farm and have one other horse and the horse would have X living situation.

I know my horses really well so if someone emails me what they are looking or if I know them well enough to know what kind of horse they like to ride I feel comfortable making a suggestion.

I think back to when my friend Alison was horse shopping. She had a super lovely and talented horse that reminds me so much of Shoes. She is super busy running an awesome organic farm and works a full-time job as well. Her goals were to foxhunt and trail ride and she was realistic about the fact that she sometimes could only ride on the weekends. Her horse was not suitable for her lifestyle but she spent several years and a ton of frustration trying to make it work. She sold her horse and knew exactly what she needed. She needed a Diamond H. She casually mentioned to me she was looking and I said I have your horse in my barn right now.

I knew Alison’s riding style, her goals, her farm set up and what kind of horse that she needed. The funny thing was that she told me she wanted something under 16 h and anything but a grey horse 🙂 Oh no 🙂

The horse that I had in mind for her was Top Punch. I had only been on him a few times but enough to know the horse was a total pro and had the perfect attitude for an amateur rider with an infrequent riding schedule. He had a very willing attitude and was super smart. He was 12yrs and had just come off the track but it was clear to me he was a horse who had seen it all and then some. I didn’t think he would be phased by trail riding solo or foxhunting. He didn’t spook at anything and he was quite brave about everything that I introduced him too.

She was set on not owning a grey horse but once she took him home to try him out she fell in love. She was trail riding him around her farm and having fun. I don’t think she had actually had fun out trail riding in a very long time 🙂 He took nicely to foxhunting and has become a great all around horse for her. I took this picture off facebook this morning because it made me so happy.

My mom’s horse is another good example of making a perfect match although in a million years she would never admit it simply because she doesn’t like to admit that I am right 🙂 He was the first horse that I had from CANTER. He had been starved and OMG was he ugly. We joked that the Amish were going to come looking for him thinking he was one of their horses. He may have not been the most attractive horse at that point but his brain was top-notch. He jumped anything I pointed him at regardless of how scary it was. He was a good mover and was nice and soft in the bridle. He was also one of the slower versions where you had to push him. He was good on the trails and anyone could ride him. Seemed like he was going to make a great amateur event horse. He was a cribber. I kept telling my mom I had her horse and she said I DO NOT want a cribber. I finally convinced her to come and try him out and she did end up buying him. She went from being nervous at intro level eventing to winning Novice and schooling training level. I have so much fun watching her out on him because she truly has fun and enjoys herself without worrying about what her horse is going to do. He takes care of her in ways that most horses wouldn’t. She will always say he has faults but if you look at the big picture the perfect horse is the one that you know you can head out to the event course and know it is going to do the job. This picture makes me smile because the first time he jumped it he got down there and went OMG red stuff on top but he went just a bit crooked. I asked my mom what happened and she said she just closed her eyes and prayed he would jump it 🙂

I had released this post but then had to come back and add a little something about Dixie Rumble who was the horse that got this blog started. Dixie was your big 16.2 h bag tb gelding who also started out pretty darn funky looking. You can go back and look at some of the initial posts about him but he wasn’t attractive at first. From ride #1 which happened to be the day that Allie delivered him to my farm it was obvious he had a top-notch brain and loved to trail ride. We went out across the open fields on a super windy day and he was happy go lucky. He lacked confidence and had a few quirks at first. He was also a stall walker which was a major issue in reselling him and why he probably stuck around for as long as he did. I thought he would sell quickly because he was just so sensible but he didn’t. I just kept going with him and we went out eventing and he took right to foxhunting. I had never hunted before but Dixie was the ultimate horse to show me the ropes. He went 1st flight, 2nd flight, took out guests and junior riders. He was just plain fun for me to ride and he knew his job. He had a fantastic year of hunting and then went out and did his first BN event in the rain and won 🙂 I was so proud of him! He wasn’t selling at his price so I dropped his price down and all of a sudden I had a ton of interest. Catherine had been reading my blog about Dixie and thought he sounded perfect for what she was looking for. She called and gave me the run down of what she wanted and did I think he would fit? She hoped to do some lower level eventing, trail ride with friends and just have an overall fun partner who could dabble in a bit of everything.

I thought it sounded like the perfect match and she came down and fell in love with him. She has really enjoyed him and over the past few months she decided she really wanted to event in the spring so she shipped him off to an event to refresh Dixie and at the same time she could go get some lessons on him. I have been getting really awesome reports along the lines of how the trainer loves Dixie as well as the barn staff and that her husband has realized just how happy she is. She described the high that she felt after her last lesson and just how fun and forgiving Dixie has been. It truly makes my day when I get these emails.

We have been fielding a lot of questions about why we now want the horses to come into the retraining program before they are sold and why our prices are higher. A good organization will always evolve to meet the current demands of the market. I believe we are nicely meeting the niche of those who love ottb’s but want something that has already been let down and had a professional who truly understands the TB mind doing the retraining. You can buy a horse without wondering whether it will like to trail ride, whether it will go x-c, can it handle being away from it’s buddies, does it like flatwork, will the horse go forward and accept the contact and does the horse like to jump. We can answer those questions honestly and ensure you buy the horse of your dreams. Then you will go tell all your friends how awesome CANTER Mid Atlantic is 🙂