Camping Essentials

Much to my mothers shock I have grown to LOVE my horse show glamping set up. I was honestly surprised myself that I enjoy it so much but it is so convenient. Admittedly Rolex with the camper kind of ruined my version of glamping just a touch. I did want to expand on my horse show glamping set up though for anyone considering the truck tent/hammock trailer set up. I have now camped at pretty much every show or clinic that I have gone to in the past year (unless someone I know has AC and lives near by ha!) and I have been constantly improving my camping essentials list.yt45b_f

Thankfully before camping even entered the equation I had purchased a YETI cooler. Yes it’s expensive and you can totally make due without one but I personally LOVE having ice cold drinks and food available for days at shows. RTIC is a more affordable brand that I have heard great things about. In line with the cool products is the HydroFlask. hydroflask

Last summer a truck tent joined the team so that I could start camping at shows. This has now evolved into the addition of a hammock for 1 night stays. I was able to snag an Eno and I really like it. Very comfortable and doesn’t take up much space for storage. Side note: the fact that they make a hammock that supposedly 2 people can sleep in blows my mind.eno

Next up was the purchase of a nice sleeping bag. Enter the Kelty! Kyle convinced me to buy this as I had previously been making due with sheets and blankets.  Haven’t regretted it for a second and it works quite well to be cocooned in my hammock during the cooler months. kelty

Anything solar powered is awesome as well. Most of the time I pay for a primitive electric hook up because a fan is vital for summer time camping. Sometimes though I don’t have access and in those times portable or solar powered items are the bomb.

evapolarThe only thing that I kind of want to add is a portable AC cube called Evapolar. I think it would be boss to be able to plug in a small unit to keep myself from roasting in my trailer. I recently saw an add for it on IndieGoGo and I am debating if I want to splurge and invest in one. I don’t have any events or shows on the horizon so anything I purchased probably wouldn’t be used much this year. Do any of you guys that camp out of your truck or trailers have good solutions for the sweltering times of the year?

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Kaitlyn Karssen Photography: Houston B

Months ago a friend shared a promotion that this photographer she knew was running for equine portraits. I figured it wouldn’t be feasible to get the photographer to Nashville but wanted to reach out anyways. Turns out there were a ton of us that wanted to get pictures done and before I knew it photo shoot day had arrived!

Houston was up first and was a acting a little feral… I was a bit anxious about how his photos would turn out and I can’t say enough about how trilled I am with the end result. Thank you Kaitlyn Karssen Photography for the wonderful shots of my boy! I love how well she captured his personality while showing off his good looks – yes I am a bit biased! I cannot wait to see the pictures she got of the girls! I would highly recommend Kaitlyn to any of my friends considering having professional shots of their horses done. Now I will let the images speak for themselves!

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$900 FB Pony Blog Hop: Favorite Exercises

Yesterday Amanda asked what our favorite exercises are. I have to say I am looking forward to reading everyone’s replies and finding new things to work on. It is very easy to get stuck in a rut with both flat work and jumping if you aren’t deliberate in setting new exercises and asking new questions.

diagnalexerciseA barn buddy likes to set up a fun course/ exercise of sorts that is almost like an  pattern. It is 5 jumps – these can be any assortment of verticals and oxers depending on the number of standards/ poles you have. I want to say that we set it as 3 strides for the outside lines and then it is an angled 2 stride between each of the diagonal fences? But I can’t remember and might have to update this at a later time. This can be ridden as separate lines, individual jumps, and angled fences. I love that it leaves a lot of room to work around the fences while giving you the ability to piece a small course of sorts together.

LA1My next and most recent favorite is the bounce grid that I fell in love with at the Lainey Ashker clinic that was the inspiration for my cavaletti building last weekend. This exercise is a vertical to an oxer with 4 approx. 9′ cavaletti canter poles between them. You can start with just a couple of bounces and add more in or start with poles even if you wanted to. I have found that not only does this exercise force you to be really aware of where the feet are it also encourages your horse to balance back and think about the jumps. I have noticed with Annie that it even helps improve her technique and she has been jumping like a total freak lately.

temporary.jpgOn the flat I still try to incorporate as many circles and serpentines as I can to get the horse loose through the back and on the aids. For Houston who is more advanced in his training I can work on a lot of lateral work to get him moving his shoulders and haunches. For Annie who is obviously greener in her training I make sure to work on more challenging things in short bursts and then go to something that she understands so that I don’t end up frying her brain but rather increase her confidence.

In a recent lesson the trainer had me thinking about where her shoulders were and actually counter bending her through a turn and then correct bend after and it was amazing the difference that made in our balance. Transitions out of a leg yield has been very useful for her as well. In terms of using poles on the flat I find that setting up two poles as a gate of sort can be a great tool. This allows you to set a focus point for where you want to do transitions as well as helping to ride very deliberate turns.

What are some exercises that you like to use? If you are participating in the hop lmk and I will go check it out!

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Cavaletti Building

After the Lainey Ashker clinic I decided that regular grid work needed to be a part of Annie’s life. Not only are they great to incorporate into flat work they are perfect for use in grids to help balance ginger dragons. Annie is already a freak of a jumper and setting up exercises from the Lainey clinic has only continued to improve her style. The exercises we have set up have encouraged her to really rock back and focus on the task at hand and calls out when I let her get too flat or strung out.

We don’t have cavaletti blocks at the farm or a huge surplus of poles/standards so if you set up a grid that is pretty much the only thing you get to work on. Enter light bulb moment where I realize that I refuse to pay stupid money for blocks but will pay the amount for 1 set of blocks on the supplies to build 4 cavalettis. With about $100, some power tools, and a couple hours you could make your own cavaletti too.

Things you will need:

First you will want to cut down the 4×4’s being used to make the ends of your cavaletti. We used two 2′ sections and then used a circular saw to clear out a notch so that the pieces could interlock to create the x that would hold our raised pole. When I say “we” I mean that my BO used the saws… He wisely gave me the tasks that didn’t involve sharp power tools. Once he cut the notches it was my task to clear them out. After they were clean we simply applied some wood glue, put in a couple screws for security, and moved to the next step. Technically we could have made the feet of the x’s a bit more attractive? But it was muggy and I honestly don’t care what they look like as long as they do their job. The last steps are placing whatever you choose to have as your pole on top of the x’s and sanding if necessary. I didn’t buy long enough screws so we ended up using wood glue and shorter screws to stabilize. It will still serve the purpose just fine but if I did it again I would skip the glue and just use longer screws. For the finishing step I sanded down the edges of the top 4×4 to create a softer/smoother edge. Again you could sand the whole thing if you wanted but for me the amount of time required to do that wasn’t worth the benefit… If I am looking at how pretty my cavaletti are when I am approaching then I have bigger problems… Look where you want to go! That shouldn’t be down!

An important step that I missed is where you realize that these are going to be heavier than a mofo and make you want to die every time you have to move them… Yes BO warned me… No I didn’t listen. spongebob-marshmallow-lift-o

Having done it now there are a few things that I would have done differently. First I would have bought a different pole/ post for the top of my cavaletti. I think that a landscape timber or round post would have worked quite well and then I wouldn’t have to worry about the sharp edges of a 4×4 being an issue. I also imagine that something like that would be quite a bit lighter. All in all though I think we will get a lot of use out of these cavaletti and it was time/money well spent. Thanks again to my awesome BO who helps me build all the things! I can’t wait for them to dry out so we can put them in the arena!

Have you guys built any fun jumps or have anything on the docket to create?

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Things To Spook At

I have gotten very lucky with my horses in that for the most part they are rather sensible – key word rather. Sure… Houston was a wild man for 2 years. Annie thinks the D word (dressage) is for summoning the devil himself… And Luna well I can’t even with her right now. Smart fillies are NOT always very fun. When it comes to the daily stuff or going to new places though both of my under saddle horses are pretty much rock stars. Annie is even younger than Houston was when she started wearing her thinking cap on the daily and I have to say that exposing her to anything and everything has definitely made a difference. catcucumber2

That said on Friday I was out for a hack by myself and Annie thought it would be fun to be a little bit of a kite. No rhyme or reason just up and levitated on me. The wind blew don’t you know? Mind also TOTALLY blown by the new skinny pallet jumps out in the field. Rock that is always in the same place (I am not even kidding) on the walk around the farm – clearly its horse eating. catcucumber1Thinking about her silly spook – if it can even be called that – got me to thinking about Houston in his younger days. Baby Huey (5-6y0) thought that it was a blast and a half to see ghosts in all corners of the arena, spook at a water trough, and one day spooked over his own blanket… that he had been wearing all winter. Luckily he wasn’t the most graceful creature around and his spooks were never that dramatic in the saddle or on the ground. Hairy eyeball, planted feet, and hyperventilation all in under 30 seconds before carrying on. catcucumber3

Annie had a similar moment on Monday when we were walking back in from our cool down hack. She noticed freshly washed blankets hanging on the fence to dry. WHO WOULD DO THIS TO HER?!?! Thankfully the most athletic horse I have ever ridden does not use that power for evil in these situations. Blankets of death got the hairy eyeball and she side stepped then went about her business.

It is easy to forget the silly stuff that horses might be concerned about (young and old) when your horses are usually so quiet. I am lucky I guess that my creatures usually don’t get to excited about new things or constantly seeing horse eating monsters around every corner. What are some ordinary things that your horses spook at?

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I have been a little bit MIA this past week or so. For good reasons too! Kyle and I have been on the hunt for a house! I think we finally found one so fingers crossed for a smooth closing and then move! The potential house is under 10 minutes from the barn which would be awesome. We have been renting since we moved to Nashville over a year and a half ago and I can’t wait to have a place we can call our own.

For all of my friends that have been to Nashville this year… now we will be able to easily accommodate visitors. I cannot wait to have not only a real kitchen again but also a fenced yard that is attached to our house for the dogs. Owning a house can be a big burden when it comes to repairs and maintenance but we can’t wait to be our own land lords again.I try to keep this blog mostly focused on the horses but this is big news and has been keeping me pretty pre occupied as of late. There has also been a lot of stuff going on at work. The horses are all doing well though and I dare say that I have made a break through of sorts with Annie. She has jumped like a freak the past few times I have jumped her and has even been tolerant of the bit when I have ridden with one. Hopefully things will settle down a bit once we get into the new house.

Stay tuned for a fun project my BO helped me with this past weekend! What did you guys get into this past weekend?

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Winner Winner: McLovin

First off – to all those who entered the Baby M naming contest. Thank you so much for the time and thought you put into your suggestions. I wasn’t expecting the responses we got and there were a lot to think hard about. In the end baby M’s owners decided to combine a couple of name suggestions to make the name they liked best. This means that there is an extra winner of the contest who will be receiving a $10 Riding Warehouse Giftcard.

Of all of the entries the name given to baby M is: Minuet du Cornet – barn name McLovin… Kind of kidding, mostly not. mclove

  • The entries that were used to compile this name were:
    • Madrigal du Cornet – Erin
    • Minuet in C (there were 2 people with names including Minuet but for the sake of this contest I used the person whos comment came in first – Kate – Rhiannon thank you!)

Our random drawing winner is Alanna!

Erin, Kate, and Alanna – Please reach out to me in order to get access to your Riding Warehouse Gift Card! As always have to give a shout out to RW for their support of the blogging community! Hopefully there will be more fun contests to come! chickachicka


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One Step Forward Two Steps Back

img_4374.jpgComing off of Spring Bay it was clear that if we can’t get our dressage in line Annie and I will not be competitive at Novice. I decided that if Annie and I were going to go to any more recognized events I needed to tackle our dressage problem head on. I was feeling really frustrated. Knowing that if we could just get more consistent in the sandbox we would be placing consistently in the ribbons was hard to swallow.

I spent a lot of time beating myself up and comparing Houston and Annie on the flat. News flash – they are totally different horses… and also Houston was a tough cookie at Annie’s age as well. Frustration has no place in the saddle though so first I took a couple weeks of light riding and avoided the dressage saddle (read: bit) like the plague. Then came Rolex and all of the fun that goes along with it. I talked to my vet (her teeth are fine), I talked to my friends, and I talked to a couple of trainers. Short of xraying her head (which is not off the table) there is nothing easily seen wrong with Annie. She is fine on the ground. She is fine in a (sna)hackamore… And you know what… with an attitude and equipment change on my part she is getting more consistent in the bridle.

It is of course not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I regularly joke that it makes your eyes bleed. BUT there are moments of progress. Those moments are what makes the blood/sweat/tears worth it. I am happy to say that we seem to be back on track for more regular lessons and I hope that the consistent help will continue this trend of progress.

Riding green horses isn’t for the faint of heart but when it all comes together there isn’t much that is more rewarding. I don’t know what is up next for us but whatever it is I know we will have fun when we get there! Anyone else taking a break from the ring lately to do some more homework?

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