Adventures In Farm Sitting

Having a farm is not for the faint of heart. If I have learned anything from having horses at home in highschool and now farm sitting it is that it is legitimately a 24/7 job. When you board horses you write a check and you can go home. If it is in the single or triple digits you can stay inside… If it is raining or snowing guess who is not soaked or chilled to the bone? YOU.

Depending on where you board and how often you are able to get out to the barn as a boarder you have the flexibility of  “not feeling like it”. I am grateful that right now I am able to go out to the barn nearly every day but also have my horses in the care of people that I trust explicitly in the event that I am travelling or unable to make it out.

jonsnowBecause I am at the farm all the time already (sorry Kyle!!!) it was a pretty easy gig (famous last words) to just step in and take care of things when my BO’s are out of town. Or so I thought. Unfortunately the weather gods hate me and literally EVERY SINGLE insert string of expletives TIME I farm sit the temperatures either plummet and it snows or they spike and it is a scene from Twister. I seriously don’t know what I would do if weather was just semi stable and there weren’t 30* temperature swings and some version of natures middle finger slung at me the next time I take care of the horses. I am not sure how it is even possible for one person to be assaulted with the weather so violently and consistently just when the phrase “can you take care of the farm x days” is spoken. This week has been no exception and come Monday afternoon at pretty much the exact same time I was finishing up the majority of chores and about to leave a storm rolled in. It caused the barn room to start flapping, random doors to fly open, and for me to end up under an awning with the resident studly while we both stared in disbelief while plastered to the wall at what the actual heck was going on. In summary farm sitting has left me wondering if my dream to own a farm and keep all of my horses at home is really what I want. I always thought that 20 acres would be the sweet spot. I could have my own place, going to ride wouldn’t involve a car ride, things would be so easy. Then I remembered how spoiled I was in high school to have my horses at home but not be responsible for all of their care or maintaining the property. dorothyWhile speaking from experience I can say that there is nothing like looking out your window and seeing the creatures you love so much. There is also nothing like spending hours taking care of the farm and horses when its below freezing or during the middle of a storm that might have you feeling a little like Dorothy from the wizard of oz. Maybe just a few acres to keep baby(ies) and retirees at home? The “dream” continues to evolve. All I need is a few more terrible weather incidences while farm sitting to totally crush it!

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Replacement Post Fall

Most of the riders that I know wear helmets on a regular basis. We all have different preferences but it seems that we all agree you only get one brain. You should do what you can to protect it. Mind your melon!mindyourmelonhc

It seems that a lot of people have varying opinions on how frequently and due to what circumstances a helmet should be replaced. I started thinking about this after a fall last week… “Sit Back Or Die” is a great motto that I still don’t follow well enough! I have always been told that any time you fall and your head/helmet hits the ground it’s time to replace your helmet. After that if you manage to survive approximately five years you need to replace it anyways. With all of the different options out there what is the deciding factor on what brand you prefer?COAYR8RidingWarehouse

For me it has always been about the safety and comfort. I shy away from some brands – specifically if they have ridiculous horror stories. I loved the Charles Owen replacement policy and wore them for quite a few years. When I started looking for helmets that would be a bit more comfortable and cooler in hot weather I fell in love with Samshield. Not a Miss Shield but I have serious grabby hands over this new model.MissShieldRidingWarehouseMy most recent addition is a OneK that I purchased on a whim due to affordability. It is still comfortable but fits slightly different than my Samshield. I was hoping it would be a level playing field because the OneK replacement policy is much better but alas my huge head is apparently more Samshield shaped than One K.OneKRidingWarehouse

In a sport where falls are pretty much inevitable I am curious about everyones different thoughts on what helmets you will wear and what makes you replace them? Anyone else in the market?

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Weekend Wrap Up: XC Schooling and Bell Boots

I did a thing last week and entered my first recognized HT of the year. Naturally I proceeded to fall off during a jump school the next day(why can I not SIT BACK!!!) and then had a huge pit in my stomach for cross country schooling on Saturday. I had a fall a few years back where Houston literally slid out from under me due to a sloppy arena. I was fine but since then I have a mild panic attack any time I ride on slick footing. It stormed all night on Friday so the footing at our schooling venue was less than ideal. The bright side was that the water complex was nice and full, the weather was unbeatable, and the company was perfect!

Thankfully minus being exceptionally full of herself Annie was a trooper and we had a good outing. She was able to literally pull through my nervous moments. We schooled most of the fences that were Novice height and due to the terrain it felt like way more than that! I want to get back out next weekend so that we can have one last confidence boosting school before we head to the KHP in April.

The only casualty of the day was one of Annie’s four bell boots. Yes you read that right – she gets to wear double bell boots due to her ninja shoe pulling abilities. I had never heard of this plan before my current farrier but it works for us. For now I just plan to buy stock in bell boots because while we shoot less shoes off it still stinks when she pulls a whole boot off while schooling. She wears a Weaver Rubber Bell Boot on the bottom and then I layer a Ribbed Bell Boot on the top. Pulling them on and off is kind of a pain but it keeps my farrier from making what I call “bonus” trips down here (he doesn’t live in TN). No hoof no horse and no farrier no hoof! Did any of you have fun adventures this weekend? Or on the bell boot front anyone have a brand of Velcro bell boots that are super durable? I would love to be able to have one pull on and one Velcro instead of double pull ons.

 

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Ground Rules

Last week I saw a blog post shared from ProBarn Management that was a bit of a Q&A post about what is included when it comes to using barn hay, shavings, and water for your trailer/ shows.

I think that more often than not people do not take into account that boarding is generally speaking not profitable for the farm owners. I have dealt with many different scenarios and my current is definitely my favorite in terms of boarding. I genuinely hope I never have to leave because not only do I trust these people explicitly with my horses care I also know that I am not just a bottom dollar to them. Boarding horses is not their (or anyone smarts) way of getting rich quick and what you see is what you get. My horses are provided quality grain and hay, never without water, and always have clean stalls. The owners notice when things aren’t right with any of my creatures. The facilities are safe and well maintained… The list goes on. It isn’t the fanciest barn but it is home.

img_1909.jpgLast year was my first year as a trailer owner which meant that it was my first year doing a lot of traveling without a trainer (in my case the resident pro at a barn) hauling my horse. You take for granted things like who is paying for the extra hay my horse is consuming on the trailer and where did the shavings come from. My general MO is to ask and that is what I would recommend for anyone that boards and wants to have a good relationship with their barn owners. I am very lucky in that within reason my barn owners don’t charge me for every flake of hay that’s gone on my trailer for short hauls but I do ask them if I can take it or how much I owe them in these situations.

img_3222For the most part I think that when it comes to boarding and showing you don’t get a break from your board just because you are gone 10 days out of a month showing… You should however have access to the grain and hay your horse would consume at home – shavings are case by case I think depending on the barn. I personally make sure that Annie always has hay in front of her at shows and that usually means that I have to buy a bale of hay from my barn owners or a local feed store to supplement what she would regularly get. Same goes with shavings. Don’t assume that you can go take 3 bags of shavings for a horse show because you pay board. If your horse will be gone for more than 2-3 days ask your barn owner how much, if any, shavings they are okay with you using. If you need shavings in your trailer you should ask before using the barns supply. What might not seem like a big deal to you adds up if every single boarder just dips into the pot.

In summary: be respectful. None of us are perfect and don’t kid yourself by thinking that you are the perfect boarder or that you have the perfect horse(s). My horses in summary are big and pushy (Houston), a beaver with an attitude (Luna), and a cribbing stall annihilator (Annie). We may not all be the best boarders but there are really easy steps you can take to not be the worst. On top of that list is respecting the owners/staff, other boarders, and facilities. If you move it put it back (if a course is set don’t drop all the fences to cross rails or mess with all of the distances unless you intend to re set it!), if you use it (or break it!) ask and pay for it, and be grateful regardless. It is a privilege to keep your horses on someone else’s property not a right.

What is your barns policy? Are there things you wish your barn allowed or provided? Interested to see how these policies vary farm to farm.

*This is just my personal opinion of one side of the equation. Obviously not all barns are a safe haven (I know this from first hand experience) and not all barn owners/ management provide the same things. If you have it good don’t mess it up!

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Jumping Ginger

I have touched on this hear and there on this blog – Annie is an athletic little son of a gun. She is the definition of a pistol and she packs some punch. I have pretty much no doubt at this point that she will jump whatever I point her at. The issue is a) will I stay on b) will I pee my pants. While she has a lot of heart she also has quite a few opinions and doesn’t always appreciate being told that maybe jumping at Mach 5 isn’t the best idea we have ever had. When we get all the pieces just right and I manage not to poke the bear or turn her into a dragon things are perfect.img_2238.jpgShe’s definitely been happy in a “I’m about to start swinging” state lately at the hint of contact of any kind. Jumping her can go from standby to defcon 1 (go ahead and skip 2,3,4,5) in about half a second. She feels relatively certain that she knows best (admittedly previously if I just sat still normally she took care of it all) but lately she has gotten a bit too big for her shoes and gets quite offended by any suggestion to maybe not rocket launch over tiny fences which doesn’t instill a lot of confidence. img_3248She is a beast about cross country (evidenced above by the HUGE death trap trakehner she sailed over) but the pendulum is stuck over show jumping now.  I am going to walk you through the various states of jumping Annie pre what I am calling the “hackamore revolution” now.

Suggesting with a half halt before the fence:Landing after said fence:

Me half way through a course: Except I rarely brush my hair and make up is over rated: A summary:I am still reserving judgment as I want a few more rides in the wonder rig but it has been a good 3 months since I rode my horse and got a quiet smooth ride to and from the jumps. I will report back with more but until then you can find me burning sage and making sacrifices to the jump gods for them to keep up the good juju over fences. Any break throughs lately for you all?

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Viva Carlos Blog Hop: Untrue

VCBHL from Viva Carlos asks: What horse related or equestrian related piece of knowledge did you believe was true for an extended period of time that turned out to not be true?

I have been lucky enough to ride with a lot of trainers in my lifetime so far. Some better than others and I honestly don’t think that any of them have told me anything or even let me believe anything too sideways for very long when it comes to my riding or general horsemanship. I will consider myself lucky in that regard.

I think the worst thing that I was convinced to buy into (literally) was that wool saddles are the only way to go. I was so eager to go along with what trainer at the time encouraged that I hopped right onto the County bandwagon. I can’t stomach adding up how much money I lost in that situation between the “custom” saddles that crippled my horse, vet bills, and fitting fees on top of the loss when trying to sell the pos saddles to purchase something that would work for both me and my horse.

For me personally not only will I now never buy a wool flocked saddle – I think County as a brand/company is the actual devil. I am not saying that all of the reps are bad people because I know that isn’t the case but I had a HORRIBLE experience and will never put one on any of my horses backs again because of it. I understand that not all people feel that way and we all have unique experiences.

Now I try my best to make independent educated decisions and am hyper aware of people trying to encourage me to get on board with things that will benefit them somehow.

What about you? Anything (big or small) that you believed that ended up being untrue or wrong?

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Weekend Wrap Up: Dog Stall Rest

This weekend was the first super low key weekend Kyle and I have had in awhile. I was farm sitting on Saturday. Naturally this meant that the weather had to go nuts including a 30• temp drop and snow. I was lucky that the horses already had blankets on from the night before though because switching blankets 900x in 24 hours is enough to make someone mad. Also it wasn’t quite cold enough for buckets and troughs to freeze *hallelujah*.

Unfortunately for Bear he became #balllessandflawless Saturday morning (thanks exquisite equine for the phrase). He now has to be on “stall rest” so to speak for a week and can’t come to the barn with me or play/run/jump at all. He was already beside himself yesterday so we will see how the rest of the week goes. On the horse front all of the creatures are good. I finally got to ride Annie yesterday and was also able to try out our new (to me) Trust hackamore. I will reserve total judgment for a few more rides but holy smokes it was like riding a different horse. Hopefully I will get to ride more this week but all of my barn buddies commented how much happier she seemed and how relaxed she stayed while we were jumping.

Any big weekend happenings for you all?

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Holding Pattern

After Luna thought it might be fun to drain my bank account I got to thinking about what I really want this year. There are 2 plans that I keep bouncing between but regardless I want to improve as a team with Annie, keep Houston happy, and maintain a healthy baby horse (aka avoid all maiming incidences). Option A would be to take as many lessons as I can and to compete 1x a month or so in an attempt to get qualified for AECs in the fall. Option B would be a bit more laissez-faire with less structure and a more relaxed approach. Underneath all of this is a tentative goal to buy a house this year (potentially with land)!

Option B is the plan I am running with right now which luckily will lead to less panic about the majorly twisted shoe I found last night…

I am not paying the entry fees or associated costs for a competition like AECs (if I can even get qualified) if I can’t be competitive and until we figure out the magic recipe for improved flat work that is not happening – Colorado in 2018 anyone??? I am planning to take this month by month. If I can get the lessons and put in the rides I should still be to be making progress. Competition or not that will be satisfying. Where time and funds allow I will compete. For now given recent vet bills and work being crazy this means we will hang out at home. March and April I am writing off for the most part. Last weekend I had a great adventure going to the KWPN Annual Meeting and for now I am tentatively planning to go cross country schooling with Kristen on Good Friday in about a month. After that the next stop will be epic adventures at Rolex with Amanda!

All of these creatures are constantly finding new ways to keep me busy so there will surely not be a dull moment whatever we are doing! Tentatively planning to enter MayDaz if the stars align!

 

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SD Blog Hop: Feed

If you ask 5 different horse people the same question I am relatively certain you could end up with 10 different answers. Even with a seemingly straight forward question. Amanda participated in a hop for a blog that I am relatively new to.

Spotted Dressage asks What Do You Feed & Why?

I have 3 very different horses from 1-10 years old with very different needs in the nutrition department. I decided to break this down by horse for simplicity. This is also a sliding scale and can vary depending on the time of year and what each creature is doing.

There isn’t a lot of method to the madness. I did verify that my horses are getting the right amount of all of the essentials with the help of hay analysis and the use of FeedXL. If you are interested in equine nutrition I have found Feed XL to be pretty useful. It quickly helps to pinpoint diet deficiencies and overall promotes a healthy diet for the horse. That said you only get out what you put in to the tool.

What do you all feed? Do you have a big input on what your horses are fed or do you allow the management of the barn to dictate those decisions?

 

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Weekend Wrap Up: 2017 KWPN NA AGM

On Thursday afternoon I headed up to Lexington for the KWPN annual meeting. Not only did I get to meet some really interesting people I learned so much! It is too much to write up in detail but I will try to give the cliff notes version.

Friday:

  • Bert Rutten’s Philosophy on breeding, buying, and starting young horses
    • BR is a really interesting man with a lot of insights from many years of breeding, training, and showing horses at high levels. My favorite take away from him was that a champion is born not made. Obviously he gets to be more selective than your average Joe but it was interesting to get his take and understand how he goes about deciding which horses he will keep and develop.
  • Jump chute presentation and judging
    • This portion of the day was hosted at Spy Coast farm. First we examined the conformation and development of the horses being used. Then we watched the horses jump and learned about scoring and judging the elements creating the whole picture. It was interesting to see how these horses were evaluated and what key indicators were focused on when trying to determine the quality of the horse.

Saturday:

  • PrePurchase Exams with Scott Hopper
    • I enjoyed this view from a well respected veterinarian especially when we discussed the ever prevalent OCD issue in WB’s as well as what you should expect your vet to do when examining a horse under 1yo for a pre purchase.
  • Explanation of IBOP/Sport Testing/ Keuring presentation (Bart Henstra and Bert Rutten)
    • I had a particular interest in this section of the meeting as I plan to present Luna down the road for these predicates and I appreciated getting an insider look at what the ground jury is looking at and how to best present my horse in the future.
    • The younger members were invited to get instruction for presenting in hand with help from Willy Arts and Wim Casemier. It was very evident how different the horses appeared or the impression that was delivered when the horse was handled by an expert. Note to self pay for the handler or get really good at presenting in hand because it makes a big difference.
  • Dressage and Dutch Harness Horse Demos
    • For this section Timbach Farm provided 4 horses to work with Bert undersaddle. This was a similar experience to auditing a clinic. I really enjoyed watching these horses being worked. It was lovely to see how the instruction changed the ride the horses were given and the outcomes. Also with 3 generations from the same dam line it was interesting to see the variety when introducing various stallions.
    • Last but not least was the DHH demo. I admittedly wasn’t sure what to expect from this but I was pleasantly surprised. The stallion shown was very cool and seemed to enjoy his job!

Sunday:

  • Quiz/Trivia
    • This was preparation for the IYBC in July and more geared for the eligible young members that would be participating. It did really magnify the areas that we didn’t know about and should spend more time focusing on.
  • Linear Scoring Tutorial
    • This was the more confusing aspect for me as I am not at all confident in my ability to judge a horses conformation. I need to spend more time practicing this on various horses.

All in all it was a great meeting with a lot of input from experienced NA and NL breeders. I can’t thank the people involved enough for their time and for sharing their experience and expertise.

I plan to write a few posts about these things in depth but right now I am experience something similar to a horse show hang over. Did you guys have fun weekends?

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