Monthly Archives: October 2011

Who is this hunk?

I love me some before and after pictures. Here is Letterman on June 11, 2011

See that look in his eye??? That was totally the look of a horse that was just about to remind me how stupid it is to lunge a horse in a 30 acre field. Ha, I totally won that battle when I finally caught him and decided since we finally have a halter and rope on him (aka lunge line) it was time for him to get a real job. If you wanted to see a horse throwing a fit it was Letterman upon realizing he was stuck in the trailer. No wonder we got off on the wrong foot. Never thought I would own THAT horse.

Look at him now!

Wow, quite a difference in 4 months! I think we all sort of thought he would be bad to ride because of his indifference to people but that hasn’t been the case. He enjoys the program which I find with many of these older racehorses who have only known track life. They all tend to be a bit quirky but they know their jobs and typically all have good work ethic. He has great work ethic when it comes to things he finds enjoys..ringwork well that is coming along.

It’s still funny to me that out of all the horses I bought this one. I’m not even sure he likes me 🙂 To tell you the truth, all my personal horses have had this tough guy attitude and I swear it’s part of what makes them great horses. I don’t really require a super friendly horse. I think Letterman shows his love in weird ways like play biting on my shirt and picking up the whole carrot bag to make me laugh. It’s the little things 🙂

Burgiss is the exact opposite of Letterman. He’s like a big dog. Constantly following you sometimes so closely he just slips right out the gate because he doesn’t seem to get that he can’t follow. He’s just such a trier and seems to love to learn new things. Letterman..well he’s that old dog that ain’t about to learn a new trick 🙂 We were trying to take conformation pictures of Burgiss and it was darn near impossible because he kept wanting to follow me when I stepped out of the picture.

Burgiss has put on a lot of weight but his ribs still show which drives me crazy. I think his lower belly pulls on the weight down. He’s quite a chunky horse when you sit on him.

I love watching them change shape over time. It’s pretty cool to see the pasture pictures vs. the in work pictures.

Lesson day

I had the day off work and decided to set up lessons with my instructor at my farm. My mom brought her young horse and Erica brought her two horses.

I rode Letterman first and he was sort of in a mood which in Letterman language means tossing his head and not wanting to go forward. Mogie probably was thinking to herself that I had lost my mind buying him because he looked totally unschooled at that point 🙂 He decided he would play along with my game and shortly began producing really nice work. The theme of the day was being more responsive to the forward aids. He wants to putt into the trot and not push-off with power and the same for the canter. We worked on sharpening up the transitions and getting him pushing from behind.

He’s a good mover and really uses his hind end well so it’s just a matter of making him sharper in those transitions. We jumped a x-rail and that was still the theme of the day because he is SLOW! I was using my stick on the take off to encourage him forward. I guess he figures his racing days are over and I’m the crazy one for wanting to go faster than his prefered speed. I have to say I am thrilled with how he is going. I promise to get some video because he is almost not recognizable.

My next lesson was on Burgiss. I was telling Mogie that I wanted to work a bit on his jumping form to keep him from landing with his hind feet too quickly. She placed poles on either side of the jump 7′ on both sides for trotting to encourage him to make the correct shape. He was really super-duper good!

We then did our first canter jump which was very exciting. We trotted in over a gate and cantered down in six to the evil scary brush fence which had placement poles rolled out on either side. The whole lesson he was totally game and hunting down the fences. The previously lazy horse is now going YAY JUMPS!!!! I had to remind myself to slow the tempo so he pushed off behind and didn’t come too quickly in the trot. I watched this video several times and find myself going half halt..really what am I doing. Oh well that is why we have video so we do better next time. He has changed so much just in a few rides. After that xc schooling it’s now a different horse becauase he’s taking me to the jumps.

He was jumping a bit to the right and wanting to make the turn after the brush fence so we put a pole down to help straighten him. He picked up on that really quickly. He’s such a smart young horse and I love his attitude about everything. Kurt had gotten home from work so I have some video of the exercises.

We had intended on going xc schooling tomorrow but the weather is nasty. Snow, rain and cold. Oh well maybe another weekend.

Oh how I missed Cross Country

My instructor commented on one of my facebook post and basically said where are you and what have you been up to. I wrote back and said that I really haven’t been for any lessons because each time a horse comes in I spent some time getting it fit with trail riding and light ring work and then it sells 🙂 My horse (Junior) isn’t sound enough due to fusing hocks for any sort of heavy riding and Letterman is just now ready for serious work.

I have been trying to get Letterman and Burgiss out XC schooling but it wouldn’t stop raining. You can’t blame the farm owners for not opening their courses and really taking babies schooling in bad footing isn’t fair.

This weekend was gorgeous and Sally Cousins was teaching at Carousel Park in Wilmington, Delaware. They have a great course ranging from elementary-training and run a nice starter trial series. I decided just to take one horse so that I could enjoy it and not feel overwhelmed.

We stopped on the way down to pick up my mom and her CANTER horse, Hold that Halo. She bought him this summer and all he has been doing is growing upward. He’s turned into one gorgeous animal and is a XC machine!

Burgiss is a pretty chill dude. He gets off the trailer and stands perfect to be tacked up. We had to hack out to the course and you have to cross a stream. He was a little bit confused but just stood quietly and then followed my mom’s horse across. My mom’s horse was being silly so we had to go canter up a big hill to let off some steam and he was just plugging along not really caring that we just got off the trailer and had to canter up a big hill.

At one point, my mom drops her whip and I get off and walk over to a jump to get back on. Burgiss is just going around like he has done this forever. My mom is off trotting and cantering and I am just taking my time walking around. He’s still a bit unfit so I didn’t want to tire him out.

The horse above is my mom’s 3yr, Hold that Halo. When he was in the field he looked like this.

My mom kept saying he was small but he really wasn’t he just lacked muscle. Horses tend to look pretty funky when they drop all that racing muscle. Now he is 16.1 h and Sally said he looks like a WB cross.

Burgiss started out with his typical big jumps. Sally was having me work on getting him to jump up and out and not just straight up. When he starts out he wants to land quick with his hind end. He has a really big jump so I am having to work to figure out the best way to ride him. Sally is always super nice and complimentary of my riding on greenies. She reminded me it’s important not to be a hero, meaning you are sitting on a green horse so you have to protect yourself and be smart about the ride. She said I was doing a great job with my body but just look up and out with the eyes to encourage him to keep coming across and experiment with releases to see what works best for the jump.

Here you can see a picture of him wanting to land early with his hind end and me sitting a bit too defensive. I needed to be a bit more forward in the body and let go with more of a following hand.

The only time he got upset was when somebody came to drop off their check to Sally and then went galloping off up the hill and around. Our horses were not sure what that was all about. The worse that he did was get sweaty and do a bit of jiggity jog. He had relaxed a few minutes later.

Log going up a hill

Burgiss and Halo explore the water together

I love riding the babies in the water. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

He wasn’t really sure what to do about the down bank. His version of saying no is just standing there. We trotted back around and jumped the up bank and then just came at the down bank at a slow sitting trot and he jumped right off. I think he wasn’t sure of how to answer the question but once he figured it out you could feel him say I GOT IT!

I just looked at this picture and started laughing again. This xc course is at a public park and this particular jump is near the parking lot where people walk to the dog park. There are three of us in the group jumping. We get to this area and these two ladies start having a major fight. My mom is trying to jump and there is one lady with a dog on one side of the path and another lady on the other side of the path. All of a sudden, they start yelling at each other and some sort of fight is going on. We can’t jump because we can’t figure out which way they are going. We are all just standing there watching these two ladies fight. Sally had the funniest look on her face. They both huff off and go one direction and we all got back to jumping. Nobody said a word but when we were riding home we all had a good laugh about the dog people fighting. Burgiss had just been standing around watching the dog fight so we had a bit of a stop because he just wasn’t in the game. He quickly got his game face back on.

We had totally fixed the landing with the hind end early thing as you can see in this picture. He was then flicking his hind feet up quite high.

I told Sally that I got left on this one and she laughed and she said way better than getting ahead. She commented that its way harder trotting fences than it is cantering but the more trotting you do the better rideability you get which is exactly what I believe in. You will know when they are ready to canter and by the end of the day he was but we kept trotting. I will trot until it all becomes boring and then start to canter the fences.

I was absolutely thrilled with how nicely he went. He’s just such a fun horse and I can’t wait to do it again. Already looking to see if I can fit in another one this weekend.

My mom’s horse is absolutely amazing. He jumps everything and anything he is pointed at and is just so smart for a 3yr. He’s grown up a lot and is a horse for the future. I think Sally liked them both and was very complimentary of how nice they both are and asked more about CANTER’s program 🙂


He’s a jumping bean

I was debating who to ride yesterday and decided that I had to get some pictures of Burg Hill aka Burgiss to show that neat jump that I have been talking about.

He’s a seriously cool horse who has the best brain you could ask for in a 4yr and he has amazing potential. I’ve not had him long at my farm and he’s still in the process of getting fit. Each ride he gets better which is why I love what I do so much.

I have had other people jump him and I always tell them that it won’t be what they expect so absolutely make sure to keep your eyes up, heels down and leg on. He has that really nice jump where he pauses at the base and then jumps up really high. His back makes a perfect arch right under the saddle.

He is obviously still green and learning the mechanics of the jump but he has all the right parts.

I just love his cute face

I’m hoping to hook up with Sally Cousins this Saturday for a XC schooling at Carousel Park. I can only imagine how scopey he is going to be out XC and I’m excited. The bigger they jump the more I like them. I will see if I can take Letterman as well.



Week off work, adopted a dog and bought a horse

Feel like it has been a while since I wrote a post. Work is crazy right now as I am the only HR person for our agency and we are going through early out and buyout incentives to get people to retire. I like being busy but it’s hard to even take time off from work right now. I did manage to take most of last week off and it was wonderful. Slept in everyday and spent a lot of time riding the horses.

Burgiss is going out of this world amazing. You should have seen him jumping tonight..lord oh lord is this horse something special. He jumps to the top of the standards but is so calm about it. He’s a serious horse for somebody looking for a great brain but the ability to do the upper levels. I just adore him and can’t believe he’s only 4yrs old! I’m behind on my video and pictures so I will try to get caught up here soon.

This weekend was jammed packed with all sorts of fun activities. On Saturday we headed off to see this famous local amish auction to benefit their school-house. Wow, talk about some people watching 🙂 Lots of local color! There were about 10 auctions going all around the farm with different items being auctioned. I liked visiting all the amish horses. Seriously..I’m the person standing there petting the horses. What is wrong with me????

I got sucked in by the dogs that were going to be auctioned off. We had to put our dog to sleep a few months ago and it seems empty around here. I do have many many many cats but without a dog the house is very quiet. Kurt loves dogs so I know we needed to get one but how do you pick. This girl had the cutest face.

Super cute!!

Kurt suggested we go look at the KCSPCA and the dogs at the auction would likely find a home and the SPCA dogs need a home and have shots/spay/neuter. We walked in and immediately fell in love with Stella. She is a mix breed and super nice. She is quite well-trained already and knows how to sit, lay, roll over, give paws and catch treats 🙂 She was a stray so I am sure she belonged to somebody and got lost or something. We are happy to have her.

Sunday we headed up to the Chesire Pony Club Paper Chase with Letterman and Junior. It was a chilly windy day but each time Letterman goes he is more relaxed. He stood nicely for me to tack him which made my life much easier! This is a huge chase that is well attended so they gave you times that you were to ride out at which made it easier to plan how early to get ready. We timed it perfectly so not much waiting around.

We had gotten started and there were some jumps into the woods and then a single path that led into the woods. We waited for a big group to jump in and then Kurt and I jumped and caught up to them. It was a narrow muddy path and the group in front had some young riders. Two groups rode up behind us and were loudly complaining about being too slow. They wanted us to pass the group in front of us but there was no place to pass. We came to a clearing where there were some jumps and the group was jumping out of the woods into the open field.

The people behind us ran up on our butts and then decided they would make their own path out of the woods and went tearing through the woods making a ton of noise and then galloped out in front of the people jumping the jumps. It was at this point that Kurt and I looked at our horses and were thankful for really good horses. Chaos was unfolding all around us and although our horses were a bit unnerved they didn’t panic. We let the group finish jumping and then asked permission to pass.

This was a great paper chase because there were plenty of jumps that ranged in size so that everybody could jump. The last chase had big solid jumps that were not great for greenies or those who wanted the less intimidating jumps. At this chase, Kurt was jumping everything and Letterman and I were right behind him. The footing was a bit mucky but our horses are super smart and didn’t put a foot wrong.

Letterman was having a blast and just was unfazed by all the horses all around and the scenery.

Junior is the best horse in the whole entire world 🙂

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy a brisk ride where you get to do a lot of trotting/cantering with some galloping and jumping mixed in. Kurt is totally confident riding my horse (now his horse) and enjoys challenging me to races 🙂 He must have told me 10x how much fun he was having and I felt blessed to have a husband who enjoys spending time with me out riding.

We totally galloped this hill

I was thankful for horses we weren’t too spooky because it was super windy and the dried corn was blowing freaking a lot of the horses out. Letterman kept his eye on it but had no problem leading or following.

We would catch up to other groups during the ride and hang out a bit before moving along again.

I had a pretty good laugh at the end of the chase. There was a line of logs in the wood which started with one about 2’3″ and then progressed. Kurt did the first one and totally didn’t see that the next one was much bigger until he got to it. Junior was locked on so they easily jumped a 3′ fence and Kurt was grinning from ear to ear. Letterman jumped in style behind Kurt and I was giggling knowing Kurt had no clue how big that was until he got right to it 🙂 Good way to get comfortable at the bigger heights.

As we rode along we were chatting about Junior and how much we appreciate him. I know Kurt has total confidence on him and he really trusts Junior. He asked me if we could do some more of these chases and declared them his favorite. It was at that moment that I realized I needed to buy the horse that I was sitting on 🙂

I have had a lot of horses come through my barn for CANTER over the years and I truly love them all. I have always owned 2-3 horses of my own so I was never in the spot to need a horse. I sold one horse and then last year my horse died unexpectedly and we were down to only one personal horse. I always have lovely horses to ride but to have a horse who truly enjoys trail riding, hunting, chasing and more is a special horse. I need something that I can go out and enjoy with my husband and not have to worry about how it will behave. It’s also a known fact that as soon as I get the horses going good they sell and then I don’t have anything to ride 🙂

Letterman is my favorite type of horse. Just a 16h short coupled bay that is athletic, smart, agile and kind. He’s brave without being stupid and forward without being fast. He’s a good jumper and good mover. I haven’t had any interest in him which surprises me because he has a lot of mileage. He is a 9yr but I love an older horse because they have seen it all and then some. He’s green but truly not green in terms of mileage. Very sound, good feet and hopefully will last a long time to come. I have bonded with him and think he has claimed me as his person and that really matters to me. I know he trusts me and that kind of bond is something special. I had been holding off buying a horse while we paid off debt. Junior is pretty expensive to maintain with joint supplements and injections but he deserves the best. I asked Kurt if I could buy Letterman and he gave me his blessing.

Thankfully, CANTER finds me to be a suitable adopter 🙂 I asked Allie if I could buy him and she was thrilled for me. All these years and I have resisted the temptation. I don’t need the most talented horse because I have no huge competition goals at this time. I’m still trying to save money so competing isn’t in the budget. I will probably do some local events and of course lots of hunting, chasing and trail rides. I am sure he will enjoy eventing but I now have the luxury of time on my hands.

I do have plenty of horses to ride but there is something about going out and having all these special experiences on your OWN horse. Now I can focus on finding Burgiss a competition home where he will kick some butt. Still thinking about the feeling he gives me over the jumps. Wow!

We also picked up this guy over the weekend. Sweeter than Fudge is a super cute 2yr that is sound just slow. His trainer donates a lot of horses to CANTER and I have loved every single one! He will get some time to just grow over the winter. He really is sweet and loves to cuddle.

Shaping up to be another busy week. Off to see when there are more paper chases.


Letterman goes foxhunting

I think the first hunt is always a bit nerve-wracking for the rider and of course the horse. Hunting is a challenging discipline for many reasons, some of which are the galloping and then stopping and standing, whips cracking, hounds popping in and out everywhere, having to follow other horses and have horses galloping all around you and just so many more factors that you don’t think about until you are actually out there doing it. You never know how a horse will take to hunting and I have seen even some of the quietest horses have a mental breakdown out hunting.

Somebody asked if I ace to hunt and truthfully I don’t. She said she thought it was mostly for the people which tends to be true 🙂 I think that my years of experience have taught me to always remain relaxed even when the horse is not so relaxed. If you get out there and all hell breaks loose then you just bring them back in and call it a day. I am also very confident with my horses and I know that I have set them up for success. I do add a little bit more bit, make sure to have a martingale and have a neck strap.

I was invited to ride with my friend Alison who hunts with Flint Hill. They are a small group which is both good and bad. Good because you are right in the action and bad because you are right in the action 🙂  There is only one field and you are very close to the hounds so you have to hope your horse can handle it all. I love that everyone dresses casually!

Letterman was tacked up with his saddle and breastplate for the ride which was about 1 hr 15 min up to Fairhill, Md. He seemed fairly relaxed about it all and although he wanted to walk around he wasn’t feeling nervous to me.

Hanging out getting ready

We hacked out to a part of Fairhill called Little Egypt. I loved that Letterman was very curious when all the hounds came pouring out of the truck. He looked right at them and wasn’t at all scared. Whew, worry #1 over!

The views are amazing

It was a very warm day about 80 degree and the hounds first time out this season. They started out not finding much and we hunted three separate woods. Then we had a great view and the hounds were right on the line. It sent chills down my spine to hear them and be part of this amazing sport.

We got to moving along at a pretty good clip with some trotting and cantering. We had to cross down some sort of ravine where the weeds/sticker bushes were belly high and the horses totally had to trust their instinct for footing. When you got down to the bottom of the hill there was a wide water filled ditch you had to cross. Letterman thinks those are for jumping but when he does jump he calmly lands like it was no big deal which makes it not so bad.

I was very impressed by how nicely he was listening. He has a soft mouth and just rides off the seat so when I close my knees he slows down. Makes for a smooth ride because I never have to tug and he doesn’t pull. He rated really nicely going up and down the hills. I also liked that he smartly watched the horse in front of him at all times so that he basically sped up and slowed down based on the other horses which makes for an easy ride on my part. No fighting with him because he had it all figured out.

He wasn’t real keen on standing but for the first time out that is too be expected. He didn’t do anything bad just backed up a bit so I walked circles and then would stand a bit and walk a bit more. By the end, he was standing nicely.

We had been out about 2hrs and the hounds had an amazing run. They were called in and the hound truck was brought around to load them all up. All of the hounds had come but one would not come to the truck because I was standing in the view of the truck. He asked me to move further back and the hound came right in which was interesting. They know the huntsman’s horse but are cautious around the other horses which is probably a good thing.

Loaded up

The only picture of Letterman

Does this horse look at all familiar? This is Top Punch (former CANTER horse) and my friend Alison. I think he was one of the first Delaware Park horses that I sold. She is now whipping in off of him and he totally rocks the hunt field.

Letterman did great with the really loud cracks of the whips. Check that off!

We hacked back to the trailers with some hot horses. Letterman stood really nicely for me to untack and sponge down. He was happy to get on the trailer with his fan on. I headed out quickly to get him home. He had a long day and was tired by that point. He was a bit pissy when he got home and realized he had to get a full bath 🙂 I stuffed him full of treats and he complied.

I just headed back out a little bit ago to give him more carrots. He was such a good boy! He’s so fun to ride and I hope I get to enjoy him a bit longer before he sells. He’s jumping so nicely in the ring. I hope to get him out to an event as well. He’s that total all around horse.

Burgiss the adorable

It’s hard to express just how nice this horse is without sounding like you are making things up. He’s only 4yrs old but has one of the best brains you will find. When you trail ride him he just goes along like he has been doing it forever. Leads without even a glance at all the scary stuff on the trail but also happily follows.

He is green to jumping but super willing and eager to please. I have really done a number on my back so this is a little video of Amy riding him. She had never ridden him so it was sort of a figure it out on the fly job but you can see he just goes along.

Today we made the 1/2 trip to another local trail system, Blackbird State Forest. He stood super quietly while I tacked him up and then went off in a nice walk leading the group. We jumped some logs and crossed water and some super narrow bridges. I was expecting him to give the bridges a look because they are scary but he walked right across. Good boy!

Burgiss and Junior

We jumped some logs and took some poor quality video. He has no issues turning away from the group which I LOVE! If he looks ouchy it’s because of the rocks. He is not a fan of the rocks that all of our local trails have on them.

Burgiss is that horse that anybody who wants to be competitive in the show ring but also enjoy the trails or hunt need to have. He’s just so easy and fun!

Letterman continues to be super impressive. Jumped around a full course including the rolltop and brush which he had never seen. He goes out hunting for the first time tomorrow at Fairhill. Can’t wait! I bought a cool pommel bag to carry my camera to capture the action.

Hitting the trails

This is my absolute favorite time of the year because it finally cools down, the bugs die off and we hit the trails daily. I’m a huge believer in riding my horses out of the ring as much as possible. I think it does wonders for their muscling and their mental state. It’s a super way to add mileage under them while having fun. Not to mention you can learn way more about how a horse handles itself out on trails than you will in the ring.

Burgiss is one of those horses that makes you keep thinking he’s only 4yrs old??? Wow, what a brain. He marches right down the trails with a serious focus and ears pricked. He just loves being out and about and is so much fun. Yesterday, Kurt and Amy had a little gallop and Burgiss happily just hand galloped behind them and then walked home on a loose rein! We do a lot of nice trots and canters and the occasional gallop but very aware when the horses get tired. You have to slowly build the muscles and Burgiss is just building his muscles back up so it’s slow and steady.

Here he is after our ride yesterday. So adorable!!!!

Our horses get a lot of mileage just hoping on the trailer with tack on and getting off for a trail ride and then back on the trailer home. They learn that off the farm trips are fun.

Burgiss is a seriously nice horse. He just aims to please and is a great little jumper who is jumps anything. I love his attitude.

Letterman also continues to be amazing. It’s hard to describe the difference in this horse in just a few short months. I can tell you he is so spoiled that the minute he comes out of his stall he is pulling you toward the “treat” area. He will pick up a whole bag of carrots if you turn your back on him. He’s just developed such a huge personality.

He is such a nice ride out on the trails. He went out several times in the past few days but I also rode him in the ring for the first time in a month or so? Yes, he really has been just riding out of the ring that much!

I can see a huge difference in his muscle mass and overall strength. We lack polish and he needs a figure eight noseband but those are little things that are easy to fix.

Here is a video with some jumping. He’s barely jumped at all so he was a bit wiggly but super good. My back is really messed up so I can barely hold my position at all. Need to make an appointment for my chiro!!