My New Addiction: Bonnets

In the past month I have gone from zero fly bonnets to two with one more in the works from the wonderful If The Bonnet Fits. Thanks Amanda for another way to burn my hard earned money!

Unfortunately it is a tad too long for Annie but I am hoping that I can shrink it a little bit. This week I added another semi custom bonnet to the mix – see the pictures from ITBF below. I think the burgundy will look gorgeous on Annie and am hopeful this size will fit her better.

 

 

 

My fully custom bonnet inspired by Henry’s dressage bonnet (above) should be ready for the August River Glen HT but I will be sure to share pictures. I think it will be Navy with 2 strands of crystal. I am debating between line 2 and 3 for crystals or one row of each… Do the rest of you use fly bonnets regularly? Have any new equine addictions?

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Austin: Things To Know

Here are some fun things that I learned while in Texas. Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 4.37.06 PMFirst, it is hot as hell there, not exaggerating. When the Texas Blogger Contingent (aka Amanda, Karen, Lauren, Heather, Jen J) , say that it is toasty they are not kidding. If you are ever curious about what it feels like to breathe in fire and feel like your skin might melt TX is the place for you. Even more disturbing is that apparently it gets hotter than what I experienced. Props to you ladies – Ill be staying in the “north” ;).

Texas Grey ClaySecond off when picking Henny’s feet out I quizzically asked if she packed them with something… No that was just mud that dries like a bad version of magic cushion in the hoof. I thought okay that’s weird but then I actually had to ask Amanda “why do your pastures have asphalt in them” (I assumed the farm was repurposed land?) surprise – its not asphalt that is just the ground. I guess it isn’t an exaggeration when eventers in TX say that the ground is hard as rock. Is seriously looked like an old parking lot in spots.

09In the things I don’t understand but some I love about Austin category comes the fascination with a wall that has “I love you so much” spray painted on it (souvenirs of this include coasters and cutting boards), Vegan ice cream (in addition to the other amazing food), and the hippie/ hipster lack of bathing. At one point I even remarked that I bathed too often and didn’t have enough tattoos to reside in that part of town. Getting past all of that (aka learning to live with fire in my lungs) was so worth getting to ride everyones favorite $900 Facebook pony. Excuse my gross equitation and hair and lets focus on the fact that Henry is a beast who loves to take care of weenie amateurs like me. Seriously he was like oh you want me to jump that – no problem, lead changes – I got you! I just had to sit up and keep my leg on. I love him and want to steal him. It was awesome getting to jump 3’+ after not jumping much over 2’6 in the past few years. Add me to the list of people that want to be listed as a pony god parent if anything ever happens to you Amanda! 😛

this may have found its way home with me

On top of taking me to a bunch of awesome local restaurants, Charlottes Saddlery, Dover, and sharing Henry Amanda also begrudgingly shared Quinny. Admittedly I am pretty sure the dog doesn’t have a loyal bone in his body but I was pretty flattered that he was my sidekick for the week. In summary it was sweltering, the ground is weird, I ate a lot of amazing food, rode a rad horse, cuddled a cute corgi, and met some awesome people!

Do any of you have any fun blogger trips coming up?

 

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Austin: Day 1/2

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This week I am in TX for work… As soon as I found out that I would be in Austin I reached out to Amanda and suggested (read: invited myself) that I fly in a day early to hang out with her and meet Henry. (Bobby and Quinn too of course)

First stop after Amanda picked me up was to stuff treats in Hennys face for being so awesome at his first Training event. He didn’t disappoint and pretty much immediately let show true colors shine. After the barn Amanda took me downtown for some shopping in a cool area. I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without and after a couple hours of exploring it was time for noms. Karen from Patently Bay joined us at a fun spot called Snack Bar where we talked ponies and stuffed our faces.

The food was amaze balls and I seriously could never live in Austin without being morbidly obese. Gordoughs doughnuts was probably best / worst thing to ever happen to me and I’m not actually sure my body will ever recover. Exhibit A below:In addition to pony time and amazing food I also got to smoosh Amandas corgi Quinn. Seriously guys this dog is adorbs. He and I are new besties and he has even traitorously opted so sleep with me instead of Amanda 😈.Admittedly he probably thinks I have food like 95% of the time because I think that’s his only motivator. Best of all is that while I am here Amanda is sharing Henry! Today we did some hacking and boy is Henny fun! He is sensitive without being ridiculously reactive. At one point I was cantering around and he thought maybe he would like to buck. Now I have ridden a bay porpoise. Today I get to jump Henny and experience a cinnamon roll pancake which should be awesome! 

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Then There Were 3

Kyle and I have been entertaining the idea of a 3rd dog for a couple of months and now that we are getting back in a house we started casually searching. Originally we wanted to foster but as we started thinking about it more it was really important that we got the right dog for our little wolf pack and I knew that I would want to keep any potential foster dog regardless of if they weren’t a perfect fit for us.

We knew we wanted a dog larger than or comparable to Sonny in size but didn’t want a dog with quite as high of a herding instinct. Kyle has always loved GSD and with how much we both love K’s pup Tucker that seemed like the best place to start. This past week the search stopped being so casual and so now I introduce to you Bear!

Bear is a 4 month old german shepherd puppy. He has a really great temperament from being crossed with Czech and West German lines. He seems to have just the right amount of drive without being a total spaz and he is a total sweetheart. Sonny is already loving having a more comparable playmate and they have become fast friends. I can’t wait to get him out to the barn. Luckily he was raised on a farm so he isn’t totally unfamiliar with that lifestyle and horses.

Saturday was a big day for the little guy but he has settled in beautifully.He has a great foundation with some basic obedience and socialization. He gets a little nervous in the car but I am confident that will improve as we get him out and about more often. There are lots of great parks in our area though so we will have plenty of opportunities!Stella is being her typical self and has secured her position as the top dog (literally). She even steals the big crate from the puppy. Luckily he only has to be crated when we leave the house. It’s pretty amazing how fast he has settled in! 
Do any of you guys have any good puppy insights to share? Neither of us are new to the game but I know horse people are normally dog people too!This week I am off to TX for work and I get to spend some time with some pretty cool people! I will share more once the funtivities have started! The countdown to Tryon and Chatt Hills is on with just 2 weeks to go!

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Horse Show Essentials

img_0622Now that I have gone to a few more shows in recent months I am getting back into the swing of horse show set up. I still need to get more efficient but I think I am perfecting the art.  13413021_1034956266586968_327439513174792630_n

My biggest tips are to stay as organized as you possibly can. This is still a work in progress for me and I am open to any tips you all might have as the drawers I currently have stink.

13339443_1033705196712075_7781308360070426125_nIt is so much easier to set up if you know exactly where things are and they are packed in the order you like to unload. For me this means that my shavings, water buckets, outdoor metal fan, pitch fork, hose/nozzle, hay bale bag, and set up items are easiest to get to.

13346738_1030382583711003_6080574702063973032_nAfter I have my stall set up and my horse off the trailer then I can get to totally setting up everything. For me this includes the items below:(some tried and true others newer).

  • Stanley Trunk
  • Deco Pony stall guard
  • all of the zip ties
  • T1 Bridle Bag
  • T1 Shelf
  • Saddle rack
  • Folding basket – great place to drop your phone, hang spray bottles, rest helmet, etc
  • Wrap/Bandage holder
  • Cleaning hook
  • Folding chairs
  • Yeti cooler and lots of snacks

img_6465When I have help and I am moving fast I can be set up pretty quickly. Even on my worst day I don’t think it ever takes me more than an hour.

The next big step for me will be figuring out a good camping set up for shows. I really want to start camping to save money at shows but in the summer that means I also need to figure out a way not to melt or die… Ideally I would like to have a hammock in my trailer and some kind of portable AC unit… but I have to do a lot more research before I am ready to make any purchase. Do you all have any suggestions? Tips?

 

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Weekend Wrap Up: River Glen June 2016

Despite Annie’s best attempts to thwart our trip east for her second horse trial a twisted shoe and stepping on a clenched nail couldn’t stop us! 

After my rescheduled lesson bright and early (6:15am) on Friday we headed towards Knoxville for River Glen Equestrian Park.By mid afternoon we were well settled and had a light hack around the property. Annie was much more relaxed this weekend and made me proud with her workmanlike attitude!
Dressage was nothing to write home about. Annie was quite stiff and almost belligerent about any consistent contact. I have the vet coming out tomorrow just to confirm that it is nothing physical and just green horse issues. Stadium on the other hand was awesome. Annie was jumping like a rock star and if I hadn’t been micromanaging her we would have gone clear. Unfortunately I leaned to number 7 which didn’t do us any favors and we dropped a rail there and at 8. What I was most proud of was how Annie handled the 2 stride given the issues that we had at Maydaze in stadium. Shout out to Katherine for being awesome sauce and helping me keep my cool and Kyle for making sure I was well hydrated and fed – he’s a keeper!

my cheering squad

We stayed in last place because of our dressage score and the 8 points for our rails. I was just happy that we had a number vs a letter though! After stadium we were able to attend the competitors party. Can I just say how much I love this venue? It is a beautiful property, friendly staff, and great for a green horse! A lot of the events that I had been to in the past never had competitor parties so this was a first for me.We learned this weekend that Stelly really can’t handle horse shows even with limited exposure – definitely not in the heat of summer anyways. I was really happy to have my whole little family there with me this weekend though! Going into cross country I was admittedly a bit nervous. Maydaze kind of shot my confidence in Annie a bit but we warmed up amazingly well and when we were out on course we hit our stride. I had so much fun out there and was almost in tears with how happy I was. We landed in 10th place after a double clear cross country and I couldn’t be happier! Next up is a week of Tryon (fingers crossed) before we head down to Chatt Hills in July. Hopefully we can make progress like we have been and continue the fun!

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Bad Combinations

 

Sometimes things just do not align and this past week feels like one of those times. After Maydaze I came home feeling pretty defeated. K’s trainer connected me with a trainer that she used to ride with though and we set up some time for lessons over the weekend. Annie and I need all the help we can get if we stand any chance of improving in order to have fun competing this summer.  Monday Annie had the day off, Tuesday I lunged her, she had flat rides the rest of the week due to bad weather. Finally on Saturday the footing was safe enough to try to school over fences. Not without some dirty legs on both of our parts! 

Annie was amazing and super game to the jumps. She jumped everything like a pro. We finished on the 2 stride that we set up and she jumped it so well. She was super adjustable and fair. 

After my jump school it was time to head to Brownland Farms for the Grand Prix. It was so fun to watch and get to hang out with riding friends at the show and watch all of the amazing horses. Also puppies. It is cruel and unusual for people to bring puppies to horse shows for unsuspecting people to oggle over. I have serious puppy fever right now :O

On Sunday I had my first lesson with veteran event trainer. It was both frustrating and exhilarating. We made a ton of progress and were able to get Annie started to understand connection and relaxation (simultaneously) by working on 10M circles and getting her to move off my leg. By getting her straight she ended up being more soft in the bridle by default. It was really nice to feel the horse that she has the potential to be with time.

RJ Classic Breeches FTW

Today another boarder and I were able to convince the event trainer to come out to the farm to teach us which was awesome sauce. Except that being sick and riding in the heat of the day on a belligerent 4 year old is not a recipe for success. Unfortunately Annie was not as interested in cooperating as she usually is. We had some lovely moments but when we went to the canter everything went to h*ll in a hand basket.

I had a really hard time riding well and felt like my body was rebelling against me. I know that being sick doesn’t help and that green horses aren’t always fun to ride but that didn’t stop me from getting a little down about the less than ideal ride right before the show. We have one more lesson before RG HT. This time we are hauling back over to trainer so that Annie can get in one last offsite jump school before the show.

Hopefully I will be able to breathe and function like a normal human by then! Sorry for the ramblefest… NyQuil brain!

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Annie The Destroyer

I have a problem that I have never dealt with before Annie. She has been pulling shoes like its her job. Not only does she pull the shoe but she annihilates her bell boots and often her heel in the process. I have spent more money on bell boots in the past 3 months than most horses use in double the time.

Previously I have used the Nunn Finer bell boots but they are kind of an example of you get what you pay for and have proven to be way too thin for Annie’s skills.

At Rolex I ended up purchasing Professional Choice bell boots (above) and within a month they looked like this (below). Annie has pulled 2 shoes in the past shoeing cycles. She had her feet done right before the show and then pulled a shoe while we were at the show this past weekend.I opted to purchase a back up pair of bell boots last weekend for the hose show so on Tuesday I was able to put those on Annie. These bell boots might have looked durable but less than 24hrs later they were ready to join the rest in the trash can…Now I am getting desperate. It is fairly impossible to get a horse ready to show when you can’t ride them because you’re always waiting for a new shoe to be tacked on! 

I took advantage of Mary’s breeches sale and ended up tacking on some additional bell boots for the reserves. In the past I had Professional Choice no turn bell boots for Houston. I honestly wasn’t a huge fan but apparently the boots can turn a lot if you don’t have the right size.

I also decided to add some quarter boots to the mix. I am really skeptical that this will work but I am open to trying anything. I appreciate that Annie tracks so well up but dear lord I would like to keep her shoes on for more than 2 weeks at a time. Do any of you have similar issues with your horses? Any tips or tricks? Favorite bell boots?

Last  but not least congrats to Karen from Patently Bay as she won the Annie’s Equine Elixir and Savannah treats contest!

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Weekend Wrap Up: Maydaze 2016

This past weekend I rode Annie in her very first horse trial. The weekend didn’t go as planned but I will share about it in a few sections so bear with me for the long post – or just scroll through pics haha. First I will start with Annie’s general feelings about horse show life. She got of the trailer like an old pro and minus some initial hollering was settled in nicely. Her laid back demeanor about new places probably contributed to my underestimating her greenness. I officially am the craziest horse lady of them all and bought these cheap mat sets at Lowes to line the concrete stall floor with – that will definitely be a post coming to you soon!

both unamused by the bathing

Unfortunately for me it stormed on Wednesday and Thursday so the green horse was already going into the weekend under prepared.

Friday brought a dressage lesson where trainer suggested that while the nathe might work for us at home I had a very braced and stiff horse at the shows. I agreed and we ended up borrowing a KK which did seem to improve her rideability. On Friday Katherine rode her first Training dressage test and stadium round landing herself a solid 2nd place standing! To say that I was proud would be an understatement. I can’t wait to see where her wonderful horse can take her! 

I felt okay going into Saturday knowing that while dressage probably wouldn’t be beautiful it would be a good experience for Annie. Given that I am still getting used to my new dressage saddle I opted to ride exclusively in my jump tack.

real friends lend you their pants ;)

Dressage was truly anything but pretty however I was incredibly proud of Annie for keeping it together in a very busy arena with a stressed out ammie on her back (the zipper on my breeches broke while I was changing and I had to borrow K’s (thanks dude ILY!). The judge gave us a well deserved 45 and commented on all of the things that we need to work on aka EVERYTHING – I appreciated that she made kind remarks about the fact that Annie seems to have a lot of potential and thanked me for patting Annie’s neck when she was nervous. She also said that I was a tactful and patient rider which helped me to recover from the worst dressage score I have ever gotten.

this picture pretty much made my weekend

 

 

Between dressage and stadium I had to procure some new pants. Luckily I was able to find some good ones and I am hoping Riding Warehouse is as awesome as usual and will take care of me. Sadly the borrowed bit didn’t fit Annie properly and she had some rubs. This made for a super unpleasant stadium warm up with me running back to stabling trying to adjust my tack. Luckily last week I purchased these cool acavallo gel bit guards and that combined with a different bit had me riding the Annie I know and love.

loving my kastel show shirt

Her little brain was fried though and while fences 1-5 rode well the B element of a 2 stride was just a bit too much for green baby brain to handle and we were TE. I was really disappointed but it left me with even more determination to get a ton of lessons and come back even stronger for River Glen in 2 weeks. 

Given that our issues in stadium were due to greenness and not dangerous the judges allowed me to still run cross country the next morning. Annie warmed up very well and was super rideable. She was awesome to the first 3 fences but grabbed and ripped her shoe off and we ended up unable to finish the course.

Even though the weekend didn’t go as I had hoped I am still really proud of Annie. She tried her little heart out for me despite being very nervous. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this talented little mare and I.

Tomorrow I will announce the winner of the Annie’s Equine Elixir and Savannah treasures contest – until then I will be reading up on dressage legal bits I can try out!

 

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