November 27, 2013

A Lot To Be Thankful For

Well, this has nothing to do with Gem. Or riding. Nothing is going on on that front right now. It is dark, coldish (depending on your perspective) and raining. I am also waiting on the new girth to arrive this week to avoid continued harm.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. A time to be thankful. As most people who are on facebook know, it it so easy to complain. I'd bet that at least 50% of all status updates are negative in some way. I try to scroll on past those chronic complainers and look at pictures and plans of those few who share smiles and happiness. So this post is about that. Thankfulness. What am I thankful for in life?

  • W. He is so amazing and we are so very lucky to have him in our lives. He turns 1 the day after so this week is going to be full of love and celebration :)

  • Hubbybear. Always ready for my next adventure he shows up with a smile and tries his best. He has been enjoying the paces with me this fall. When I get down about my ability to condition for a 50, he is there to encourage me and show me that it is possible after all. He even mentioned the other night that he wishes we had our own place so I could get another horse more sutiable for the sport.

  • Gemmie. No matter how much we butt heads I have to be honest - I adore her. I think she is just drop dead gorgeous and I love her attitude. I wish at times she was easier but then I know I wouldn't be the rider I am today if it wasn't for her. She has taught me a lot about being a "rider" and not just a "passenger". I love exploring the trails on her and we both hate the arena. We are about to embark on a new phase of our lives together as we tackle a 50 and I am so excited to do it.

  • South Carolina weather :) I am sooooo happy to be down south. The arctic north ruined winter for me. We are very hapyp down here and I can't wait to watch W grow up someday on our own farm.

  • The health of my loved ones and myself. We are a generally healthy group to date. Little things here and there pop up (like my bout with Lymes disease) but I don't wake up every morning in pain. I love life and plan to keep enjoying it for many more decades to come. I have wonderful cats and dogs that have been around for a long time and have continued to do well.

  • My profession. I like my career choice. It may not be snazzy or make me rich, but I enjoy talking to people and helping ease some discomfort or concern. I won't ever make the front page of a paper or the headline news, but I don't care to. I have a job that I enjoy and pays the bills so we can live and enjoy ourselves.
What are you thankful for this holiday season?

November 25, 2013


Gem had all of last week as a nice vacation. I haven't been feeling very well (just a lot of congestion and very tired) and the thought of saddling up in the dark wasn't very appealing. With Thanksgiving this week and W's 1st birthday (yay!!!) the day after I didn't want to push things. Also, I am waiting for her new girth to arrive. We did manage to get out to the barn yesterday afternoon to pick some fresh spinach, curly mustard greens, turnip greens and broccoli (as well as scoring a jar of home made pickles, yum) and as we drove past we saw the gang all asleep in the field in the sun. Such a hard life! Pete and the two mares were curled up looking super cute. Gem figured if you are going to do it you may as well go all the way and she was flat out on her side snoring. Poor thing is so over worked!! It was 1:30 in the afternoon. I do love seeing that though as it shows that they are comfortable and happy where they are.

I was sad to miss the hunter pace yesterday and had even debated actually going. It is only 20 minutes away from us, so it was a shame to miss it. But it was a chilly morning and I wasn't feeling all that well. It was better to skip it then put in a bad showing and have a bad experience for Gem. The society posted the dates through May which is super exciting. Mostly they are in the same places as the fall, but I am hoping on different trails or at least a different route. Since we have missed some, I am hoping to go the those ones in the spring. Of course the one venue I have been really wanting to hit (Biltmore) is on my b-day in April and we will be in PA visiting family that weekend. Sigh. Such is life. Maybe next fall.

But....again that has nothing to do with the title of this post. This is about leasing.

While I was off riding last weekend on the trails the thought hit me that I may need some help in conditioning Gemmie. In an ideal situation I would do all her conditioning and we would become super well bonded and rainbows would appear as we head off to our first 50 miler together. But... I'm not in the ideal situation for this to occur. I work full time and have an almost 1 year old son. I ride in the evenings and one weekend day. I'm not complaining. I know I am blessed to even have the opportunity to ride that much. I love having Gem and am lucky to do so.

With it getting dark so early I can't get to any trails even if I had easy access to them except on the weekends. Its just not safe to be off riding in the pitch black all alone. During an endurance ride you have others on the trail, people waiting for you back in camp and glow sticks marking your way. Not so much when you are on your own trails in the dark on a random weeknight. I just can't wrap my head around the thought of getting her 50 mile fit by riding in an arena 2 nights and then on the trails 1 day a week. If she could get out on the trails at least 1 other day it would be much better.

And that is when the thought of finding someone to lease her hit me. If I could find an experienced rider who is in need of a horse to ride, then that person could ride 2-3 days a week (hopefully during day light hours) and get more miles on my Gemmie. Especially on the trails. Seems perfect!

But....its not so easy. My mind then went into overdrive thinking of all the possibilities. Should I ask for money? Most people pay to ride a horse. It makes it more official. Plus it accounts for wear and tear. Ok. How much? I have no clue. I only pay $200 a month to board her. Would half board be reasonable? $100 a month lease? Sounds doable for most people. But then what? How would they get to the trails since I don't have access from the barn property? Does it only work if I find someone who already has a truck and trailer? is that even a possibility? So then I need to allow them to use my truck and trailer, but that's a whole other bag of worms. They would be responsible for paying for gas, but what if they get a flat? Or worse, wreck my truck and/or trailer? No, that's way too much stress.

On that note, what happens if Gem gets hurt on their watch? Would they own up to it? Or would I just wander over to the barn one day to find a lame horse? And if they did own up to it, would they pay the vet costs? Or would we split them? And if my tack gets ruined some how? Would they pay to fix or replace it? See...lots and lots of questions just kept popping into my mind.

I don't know. A part of me wants to try to find someone through the endurance forums who is in need of a ride, but then again who wants to put all that time into conditioning a horse and never get to ride in a ride? There are so many liability questions out there. I would probably need a contract of some sort, but this all seems like a lot of hassle. If I had a close friend who wanted to ride then that would work out great, but I don't.

After thinking through everything, I think I am just going to let the thought pass. If the opportunity comes up in the future where someone is looking for a horse to ride and they have good references and such I may think it over a little more. Gemmie isn't the easiest horse to ride and I have put a LOT of effort into gaining her trust and confidence. I don't want anything to hurt that. So for now it will continue to be just Gemmie and me wandering down the trails when we get the chance to.

The hunter paces are great for conditioning and this spring will bring the chance to do a 25 mile ride and so I will see how that all goes.

November 20, 2013


Well, this Sunday may be a no show for me. Which is a shame because we are only 1 point from being in 3rd place in the overall standings. You get 1 point for just completing so if the 3rd place person no shows and I do we will be tied. Also, it is at the trails I ride solo, so I know them well and it is only 20 minutes away. Plus, it is a fundraiser for the trail system. But....I'm sick. W is sick. And I am sure the hubs won't be far behind.  Such is life.

I ordered a new girth Monday. Yet another new girth. I don't like the rubs I'm getting and need to do something. Its a beautiful Mohair girth and since I needed to custom order the size 18" I went ahead and had them make it black and tan. It is going to look sharp. The mohair is soft, flexible and low profile so hopefully it helps eliminate the issue. I got it from Moss Rock Endurance and the lady there has been very helpful.  It should be here by the end of next week.

But... that has nothing to do with the title, now does it? Nope. But I thought I would add that in anyway. Topic for the day is speed. More specifically why Gem lacks it. She is putting out 18 minute miles. I  run faster than that. In fact, when I got off her to run some on the way back Saturday we put in the fastest time of the entire ride. Ridiculous!!

I know she can do better. She doesn't have a 10 mph trot, but we did complete our 25 mile rides in just shy of 4.5 total hours with a 50 minute hold which puts us at 3 hrs 40 minutes-ish moving time. If I was good at math I could figure out the pace, but I know it is better than 18 minute miles! That's what? around 8 mph? Maybe a little less? Way better than the 3 mph I've been getting out of her.

I need to figure out why. Part of the issue is that I let her walk a lot. If I trotted the entire thing it would be better, but she moves soooo slowly. Even at a trot she is going slow. Well, maybe it is because we are going solo? But we aren't averaging much better on our hunter paces with Pete along. We are still around 3-4 mph. So what gives?

I don't know. If I hadn't had that LD miles to look back on I'd think she wasn't able to do it and I picked the wrong sport for us. But I know she can do it. Next time I go out I am going to make her trot for an entire mile without stopping. I will then be able to see our pace for that mile and get a better idea of what we can do if we don't walk at all. We need to average 6 mph to finish a 50 in the allotted 12 hours, but I would hope to finish closer to 10 hours. I like having a cushion. Also, you need to take walk breaks and time to graze the trot has to be higher so you can account for this.

Anyway...I can't wait until I can get to a 25 mile ride and see how things go so I have a good idea of what to expect from her. I just need a little more oompf out of her!

November 19, 2013

Another Solo Trail Ride

Saturday was overcast and gloomy, but warm and I was determined to hit the trails. We spent the morning playing with W and then after lunch he took a nap and I headed to the barn to get the trailer hooked up and Gemmie ready to go.

FS Farms has a gate across the driveway and I stopped to unlock it. I looked up and could see my beloved mare staring at me all the way across the farm at the gate to her pasture. I yelled out "Hi Gemmie!!" She shook her head and took off at a canter away from the fence. Brat. The day she happily meets me at the gate will be the day I worry she is ill.

I am very proud of myself though. I lined up the truck and hooked up the trailer all by my lonesome with only minimal getting in and out of the truck. It only took about 5 minutes!!! The first time I ever did it involved tears, a phone call to the hubs and about 45 minutes. I am such a big girl now!

Gem had wandered all the way to the very back of her large field and was standing discreetly behind a tree. Sigh. I do love her, but she gives me such a hard time. I walked all the way over to her just to have her gallop off to the front gate again. She was tossing her head and having a grand time at my expense. The other 3 horses (Pete, Daisy and Blue) were not so impressed with her shenanigans. I walked back through the field and got her by the gate. She was looking mighty smug.

I brushed her out and examined her girth galls. I am very much not happy with these and have yet another new back up plan. Something has to work! They were healed and she was not sore at all. The hubs arrived with W and the pups and off we headed to the trails. Someday I will get brave enough to drive the truck and trailer, but for now I opt for the minivan.

The trail head was busy. We pulled in and I tacked Gem up and off we headed. We hit the trails and I was determined to speed her up this time. I let her walk the first 0.5 miles and then asked for a trot. She actually gave me one without complaint and we moved along up the trail. We almost immediately came across a group of 10 riders and so I pulled over and we waited for them to pass. We moved on out again and shortly there after came across another group. Pulled over again. Sigh.

Eventually we headed out down the trail and covered decent ground. I thought maybe I could push her through all 6 miles in the hour, but made a wrong turn at the second road crossing and headed down a new trail. This trail was nice and windy but had a ton of roots and a few steep sections, so gong was slower than I would have liked.

We made it to a lovely lake and were at about 40 minutes out. There was a creepy abandoned boat tied to the shore and since I no longer really knew where we were I thought it was a great time to turn back around. We mosied (is that not a word? to mosey.) on back down the trail and I encouraged her to actually move out a bit. We made it back across both road crossings and she started to be a big pain in my butt. She was slow. She didn't want to trot. She recognized that we were headed back and she wanted to stay out. I needed to get back. So...I got off a jogged. She was a little confused at first. She wasn't sure why she still had to trot when I wasn't on her, but we made decent time. In fact, she went faster with me on foot than on her.

We made it back to the trailer in one piece and happy. She was a little sweaty, but not bad. I think I need to push her harder and get her butt moving. I am way too easy on her in general. More on that later.

3.58 miles
1 hr 3 mins
274 ft elevation gain
281 ft elevation loss
3.9 mph moving pace
3.4 mph total pace
8.2 mph fastest pace

November 18, 2013

FENCE Review...Gear..Ride...Horses...etc...

First...we took 4th place again!!! WOOT!!! I'm very excited about that. Optimal time was just 1 min 51 secs faster than we did it. Not too shabby. I thought we were going annoyingly slow, so maybe it was a good thing the horses got tired. I think our little detour at the end helped out too. Without it we may have jumped up a spot or two or we could have come in way too fast. There isn't much room between the placings.

With 2 hunter paces under my belt I have a few "critiques" to share. Not to sound picky or whiny, but there has been a couple things occurring that I think needs looked at.

1.) Distance. They never post the distance in advance. The first one told you it was 9 miles at the start line, but FENCE just laughed when I asked and said "well, it is under 100 miles". Geez thanks. Now I know my point of view may be the thing that needs changed here, but knowing the distance in advance is not only helpful, but in my opinion, necessary. I understand they go based off time. Most rides are around 2 hours. Fine. But if you expect me to finish a 12 mile course in 2 hours I need to go at a 6 mph average pace. Not something my Gemmie is used to yet. Whereas a 6 mile course would be only 3 mph which is slow for Gem. You see the dilemma? If going into it I knew it was 6 miles I would need to slow her way down and ask for more walk than usual and basically no canter. If it is 12 miles I need to get her little butt moving and mostly trot with some cantering and very little walking. Maybe they don't think this is a big deal. But if it was a human race - wouldn't participating in a 5k be a lot different than a half marathon? Seriously. I think the problem lies in the fact that they really don't know how far it is. They don't measure it. I can't imagine going to an endurance event not knowing if I was going for 25 or 50 miles. The strategy is very different.

2.) Etiquette. Trail etiquette is seriously lacking. My theory as to why this is: the majority of the people we have run across so far are arena riders on fancy pants horses that come out to show off and have fun. Great! The more the merrier, but please learn proper etiquette before you come. Example: on Sunday we came up to 2 riders out of the half way hold. They were moving slower than us - walking when we were trotting. We called out well in advance that we were coming up on them and since the trail was super wide, we would be passing on the left. The back horse was fine and we passed. But then the front horse asked us nicely to please not trot past. Ok. I respect that. Thank you for asking. But then she kept walking! How on earth did she expect us to pass her when we were all walking??? Now we were trapped between her and her friend. Um? How does this make sense!! Move over and come to a stop if we have to walk. Or let us trot. Finally she picks up a trot (not sure why) and then we do too and pass her and then canter away. It was annoying. I don't like my horse to get sandwiched in between two unfamiliar horses. It happens time and again and people need to understand that allowing a faster moving horse to pass is safer than trapping them behind you as you refuse to allow them past. There are other examples of poor etiquette such as when we called out to pass and the person refused to acknowledge so I had to shove past her. Or the lady who kept barreling up on us from behind at a fast canter without saying a word of warning which freaked Gem out. She would then pass just to come to either a stop or slow walk and then as we got up to her tell us to pass just to repeat this again. I don't understand it, but refer back to my original theory. These ladies just don't ride trail much. Their idea of a trail ride mimics that of Crabby Acres - 10 minutes around the fields at home. They never have to worry about passing. They never come across it.

Ok enough whining. Gear talk:

I did something very bad. Something very much against the rules. I made a game day decision to make a change. EEEK! You are never supposed to do anything new on game day. Oops. In my defense, I needed to do something different. With her feet getting done by a new farrier the week before and trialing that new girth (which failed), I hadn't had time to figure out what to do and try it at home. She had big rubs from her girth the last time and I wanted to avoid it happening again. Spoiler alert: I failed. But I tried.

I "borrowed" the hubs' body glide he uses for running and smeared that on her elbows and skin right in front of her girth and all over the old rubs. I hoped it would allow for less friction. The hubs didn't appreciate getting his stick back with red Gemmie hairs all stuck in it. Sorry, Hubbybear.

Next, I flipped her girth backwards. Since I have no real idea how to put it on correctly (this one also lacks a "spaceship") and it rubbed the one way,  I figured it may work the other way. Epic fail here. It was loose and allowed the saddle to slide even more. So I think I had been doing it right all along.

She ended up with new rubs :( I need to figure this out ASAP.

I changed my shoe gear and am very glad I did. I went out in my running shoes. They have a lot more cushion and my toes didn't go numb. I felt more secure and stable and lost my stirrups a lot less. My only concern is that they grip so well that if for some horrible reason I fell off my foot would be more likely to get stuck in the stirrup. For now I am going to take the chance. Wider endurance stirrups are on my "want list" and that should help as well someday.

Horse Talk:
The ponies were overheated and tired. All in all it was a good outing, but if the weather stays in the 70s this winter, I may have to clip her fur a little. I hate the thought of doing it. It is unnatural to take a horse and remove the nice coat she grew. But if the alternative is an over heated horse, it needs done. I'm going to wait a bit and see how the weather goes, but it is still in the mid 60s. Poor girl is hot.

Next one is this weekend!!! I don't think the hubs is planning on riding, so it just miht be our first solo pace!! :)

November 15, 2013

FENCE Fall Hunter Pace 11/10/13 - Ride Story

At long last!!! Here is the story from last Sunday's hunter pace in Tryon.

Sunday was supposed to be chilly. Chilly enough that we debated bringing W along this time. We worried he would get cold being out for 2 hours. We bundled him up in thick fleece pants, a heavy long sleeve shirt, fleece coat and hat. I also brought along a vest in case the coat was too warm and a lighter pair of pants, just in case. We hooked and loaded everything up on Saturday and planned to leave after his morning nap - around 8 am Sunday to get the horses loaded and meet out babysitter (K) at 8:30. Let me just add here how incredibly lucky we are to have her go up with us and watch him at "base camp". I don't know if we would go if it meant leaving him behind and missing an entire day with him. Anyway...back to the story.

Sunday morning dawned chilly as expected and we headed out only slightly behind schedule. If we moved quickly at the barn we wouldn't be late. We got the barn and immediately realized we had forgotten the stroller back at home. Not good. While W loves to crawl around and play in the grass we couldn't ask K to carry him the entire time without the stroller. Crap. The barn is 11 miles from our house. It takes roughly 10-15 minutes to drive. I had 20 before we were to meet K. Off I sped back home with poor W in the van with me. I made it round trip only 10 or so minutes late and then off we were to meet up with K who was waiting by the highway.

The drive was longer than expected. Google had said 1 hr 6 minutes, but it was really closer to 1 hr 20 mins and longer still with the trailer. Not a problem though because for once W decided to sleep. Which made for a happy and ready to go baby at base camp. The sun came out and things started to warm up very quickly. We got the event around 10 am and had to shed a layer immediately. We signed up, tacked up, kissed W goodbye and headed to the starting line.

After doing 2 events I have noticed a couple "issues" pop up. Instead of dragging down the story now, I will make that the next post. :)

The trail headed out from the horse show grounds at FENCE and through the cross country course. It was really neat to ride on the cross country course since I had never been on one before. There was even a water complex that you could play around on. I should have got a picture, but the horses had decided to come off the trailer spooky as can be and everything was bothering Gem. Shadows made her jump 3 ft sideways. Leaves blowing made her stop in her tracks. Sign posts, ribbons, pavement, name it and she thought it was going to eat her. I didn't have the courage to drop the reins to get my camera out until the 3rd mile in. The hubs popped Pete over a nice jump and headed off up the hill to an up bank, but I was confused and called out to him. There was a group of riders headed off to the left and another going to the right. There were pink ribbons everywhere and I was confused as to were we needed to go. We chose to go off to the right where the person who left right ahead of us went and followed the cross country course out through a field and onto a paved road.

A bridge of doom loomed up ahead and we crossed with very sideways unhappy Gemmie ears. I managed to grab my first pic there.

The horses were still feeling it and were moving along well. I didn't pay much attention to my Garmin the first few miles because Gem was being unpredictable, but when I got home I noticed we did the first mile at 6.8 mph which was a pretty darn good pace for her.

Then we hit a gravel road. I find it interesting that while Pete chooses to ride along the side in the leaves and grass, Gem likes to walk down the middle of the road. I let her and she never comes up sore. I haven't had her trot or canter yet, but she does ask to. Her feet are very rock solid.

The Manly Team with Pete on the side

Gemmie choosing to ride on the gravel

Lots of gravel road riding in the first half

More roads
They moved out quite nicely through the first 3.5 miles and the sun kept getting warmer and warmer. I started smelling sweaty horse at about mile 2 and knew we were in for a long day. Pete was going really well in the fields and Gem wanted to canter up every hill. I let her and she was having a grand time.

What was really odd was how alone we were in the beginning. The woman who started right ahead of us had taken off and either took a wrong turn or was just a speed demon because we never saw her again. Right before the half way stop a woman came up behind us, but she was walking and we took off at a trot to get some distance. The half way point was in a big grassy field and as we neared the timers, we jumped off. I like giving Gem the break and I wanted to tighten her girth more anyway. I was offered a beverage. This is a super nice touch at these events. 3 guesses what I was offered? Anyone?? 1.) Water (which I accepted), 2.) Port, 3.) Southern Comfort, 4.) Champagne. :) I was tempted to get the champagne, but the thought of walking the rest of the way looking for my horse was not a pleasing one.

Off once again and this time the trail headed into the woods.

 Heading away from the half way point. Love the mountains!


The hubs leading the way with lucky number 13

Beautiful leaves everywhere

These trails were great. Or at least we thought they were great. Pete hated them which is highly unusual for him. He went so slow at first. The hubs had to keep kicking him along to get anything but a snails pace out of him. At one time we were going 1 mph! I think it was two fold. 1) the leaves were covering the entire trail and I think there were more rocks and roots than we thought and he was very uncomfortable placing his feet down. Not sore, but unsure since he can't see through the leaves. 2) it was most definitely not chilly any longer. The sun was shining and it was 74 degrees!!! Our poor ponies have grown nice, thick WI winter coats and they were hot. They were both covered in sweat. We crossed a few streams and stopped to let them drink, but they weren't interested. Pete almost rolled in the one and so we had to move out before the hubs got wet.

What made these trails so awesome were the amount of jumps present. Every so often a little side trail would shoot off the main one and a sign would indicate jumps. The trail would then parallel the main trail and have 3 or so jumps and then meet back up. We missed the first one because we were unsure where it would meet up and didn't want to take a wrong turn, but the jumps were nice a little and we wished we had done it. It might have perked Pete's interest back up. The jumps seemed to get bigger the farther we travelled, so we just ignored them. If you did go down the jump trail, it was cut very narrow with the jumps the entire width and no way around (steep sides and trees) so you basically were committed to jumping.

Through the woods we went on our overheated and grumpy horses. Eventually we came across a group of riders coming towards us on a single track trail. We asked where they were going. Apparently they had turned left in the cross country course (remember I said it was confusing?) and it brought them here. With pink ribbons abounding they thought they were okay. But they weren't because they were doing it the wrong way. We were about a mile from the CC course, so those poor horses got a little extra trail in for free :)

But at least we knew we were only about 1.5 miles from the finish. We wound back through the CC course and headed towards the show grounds. We got back to where we came out of the grounds and not seeing any ribbons, we headed back the way we came. There was a nice lady in front of us on her first solo outing and we basically just followed her. We got stopped half way back and informed we went the wrong way. Ooops! Apparently we were not supposed to come along the drive back to the show grounds, but keep going straight. So we headed back out. When we hit the main road again it dumped us onto the steeplechase course. What a blast!!! A nice, wide, green, grassy lane fenced in on both sides with the steeplechase jumps removed. We opened up the horses and let them pick up whatever speed they could muster and crossed the finish line in style :)

We finished the 8.5 miles in 1:49 and some change. Not terrible, but really not that great either. Overall pace was 4.9 mph. She did have a max speed of 14.4 mph which was a nice canter up a grassy hill, so that was good to see. We had fun, but the poor horses overheated and were not prepared for a southern winter. 74 and sunny with a super thick, yak like coat is not pleasant. We had brought 7 gallons of water with us that we poured over them and allowed them to drink if they wanted, which they didn't and they chilled by the trailer while we grabbed lunch.

Lunch was BBQ chicken, pork or hamburger and it was delicious! W had a great time playing in the sun eventhough he was overdressed. He bummed baked beans off K at lunch along with his yogurt and banana, snacks and formula. He then got more beans and BBQ chicken from me!

We left happy, tired, full and a little dehydrated and headed off home.

Time: 1:49:05
Distance: 8.19 miles
Average pace: 4.5 mph total, 4.9 mph moving
Elevation gain: 691 ft
Elevation Loss: 688 ft

November 11, 2013

Things Never Stay The Same

"Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same"
We did our second Hunter Pace yesterday :) It was not quite as fun as the first, but still a great time. Story and pictures will come tomorrow. I was too tired last night to get them off my camera.

Lets talk about changes. Our entire married life has been about changes. Lots of moves. Career decisions. Family decisions. It seems like we can't ever stay still for very long. Why is that important? Its made me accept changes a lot easier and to learn to look at the positive. You always lose something in a change. The new deal always lacks something that you really miss and wish you had. But if you keep an open mind, you will see what new things you gained.

Again, why is this important? Because I have learned to not freak out and to take a deep breath and wait it out. Not something I used to be good at. My acquaintance who set me up with FS Farms texted me a week and a half ago about changes coming to FS Farms. I called her over my lunch break to find out what was going on. Apparently, a new girl was planning to move onto the farm and offer lessons. She had 5 horses and would be offering lessons to beginners through intermediate in jumping. Ok. Thanks for the heads up. The only part of the conversation that bothered me was that she went on to tell me that I might have to alter my riding schedule. Um? And what business is that of yours? You don't own the barn. You don't board here. You aren't taking lessons. You just happen to be a mutual friend. Back off.

I let it go and mentioned it to the hubs that night. We decided to wait until the BO mentioned it to us. Well, a few days later we received a call that the girl had moved in. The Dynamic Duo had a great gig up until that point. They had 3 pastures all to themselves and were living like kings. Not any longer. They got restricted back to the front half of the pond pasture and while it is still plenty large, it lacks grass. Our original problem with the place. The BO had an offer though. There were 2 mares in a very large, grassy pasture all to themselves. Since the Dynamic Duo are friendly and laid back, we could move them to the large pasture if we wanted. It would mean me trying to find Gem in the dark in a very large space when I went out to ride during the week, but if I was okay with it they were too. We said yes.

Time went on and finally yesterday when we got back from the ride, they said to go ahead and put them out in the big area. There are 2 very nice mares out there and everyone seemed to settle in without barely a word. Well, not everyone. Poor Spook (the donkey who I just adore) is in the back half of the pond pasture where they used to be. He is the guardian of the property and when we put them out in the new place, he started screaming and carrying on letting everyone know something was amiss. He is very loud and soooo cute. :) I think we will be getting a donkey when we get our own place someday.

I drove past the barn on my way to work this morning to spy on them and make sure they looked ok. All 4 horses were standing in a group at the gate awaiting breakfast. Nobody was fussing or fighting. I love having friendly horses :)

Now to wait and see how much of a pain in the butt riding will become. I doubt lessons will be going on at 7pm in the dark during the week if kids are involved. Weekends may be a different story, but only time will tell.

November 7, 2013

Back On Track

Quick recap of what has been going on lately:

County Logic Girth: Returned. :(  I think it was probably a lot of user error but I just could not get it right. I tried the 16 inch originally and posted a picture to prove how small it was. I then ordered both an 18 and 20 inch figuring one of those would work. The 20 arrived first and so I headed to the barn to try it out. No good. Way too big. I had it on the very top hole and it was still loose. Ok. The 18 has to work then. That arrived on Monday and I headed to try it out on Tuesday after my surgery cases finished up and prior to my afternoon of appointments. I was smart and grabbed the 16 to try a second time just in case. The first dilemma I had was figuring out which side faced her head. It is contoured and I couldn't figure out how it went on. I emailed the company and was told the "spaceship" looking thing went towards her head. Try as I might I could not see a spaceship anywhere on the girth, so I tried it one way and rode. Got off and tried it the other way and rode again. The funny thing was that as tight as it was at the beginning, it would significantly loosen and the saddle would be dangerously loose, so I would get off and tighten again. And again. Until it was almost to the top of the billets. Huh? So....I did the same with the 16 inch and it was the same story. When it finally was at a decent tightness, I got off and looked. The saddle was very far forward. More so than with my current girth. When I tightened the girth, I could see the saddle moving forward with each pull. Not good. And once it was settled in the buckles were right at her elbow. My biggest issue with my current girth is the chaffing it is causing at longer distances. This would be even worse. So, back they are all going. And back to the drawing board I go.

Gem: I haven't been riding her at night lately. It has worked out that I have been out there during daylight (gasp!) and she has not bucked even one time. Maybe it was the dark. I don't know. We have been doing a lot of cantering and she has been really, really, really well behaved. Who knows?

Feet: They aren't any better or any worse with the powder stuff. I have been running over to the barn on my lunch break to clean out her feet and apply it. I'm not thrilled with it, but not unhappy either. Once the bottle is used up, I doubt I will buy more. I like my good old betadine just as much.

Barn: Changes...changes...changes. Nothing can ever stay simple or the same for very long. The Dynamic Duo are still happy at FS Farms and we are planning to keep them there at this point. I love the BOs and the set up seems to be working. Tomorrow I will explain what changes are heading our way. Hopefully they are not noticeable, but I doubt that.

November 4, 2013

Date Night :)

“Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”  
- Guillaume Apollinaire
Downtime at work is dangerous. I get bored. I have internet access. I look things up and either a) spend money we don't have on something I don't need or b) make plans. Last week, I made plans. There is a little shop downtown called the Cabernet Canvas that I went to once before with work. It just so happened that last Saturday they were having a couples night - a painting split in two canvases each painted by half of the couple. It sounded like a lot of fun and so I texted the hubs and asked him out on a date.

Some drama occurred when our babysitter was not available, but we found someone else who ended up being awesome and better qualified anyway. Off we went to dinner and then paint.

We went to the Mellow Mushroom across from the paint shop for dinner and shared a buffalo chicken pizza. I love spicy food and this was pretty yummy. More bacon than chicken, but still yummy.


Then it was off to the paint shop to get our creativity on! I had learned from the last time, that I needed to sit to the right of the instructor (same one as before) so that she wouldn't block my view when painting. She had been quiet and very unhelpful the last time, but was really talkative and friendly this time. Everyone has their bad days.
Empty Canvasses screaming for paint!
I wanted to paint the girl and have the hubs do the man. Makes sense. But...I sat down on his left which is the side the man is on. This shouldn't have been an issue, but wow did it mess with my head! She was painting it all on one canvas and we needed to break it in half, so I would watch her paint to the left and get all confused because I was on the left, but painting the right hand side of the picture. The hubs found this really amusing and refused to switch chairs with me until the very end.

Hubby's background

My background

We kept an eye on the other canvas to see where things would line up, but pretty much just tried to have fun and make it look decent. Next up was adding in the tree leaves. It looked complicated, but really was just adding layers of paint in the same manner keeping the center open. At first it looked like we would never match up, but we kept carrying on.
Hubby's red leaves

My red leaves
 On we went making the background look like fall leaves in the park.
The Hubbybear

 We had a long intermission to allow everything to fully dry before moving on the lamp posts and the people. The instructor came over and we chatted for a bit.  She thought it was very amusing that we were sitting like that. She did say that to do the umbrella and people we needed to push the canvasses together and line them up. At first the hubs said no, but since I actually wanted to hang these up at home he relented.
I asked the instructor how hard it was to come up with paintings that were interesting, yet easy enough for the most basic beginner to do. She said she just paints her way and if she can do it, she can break it down in easy steps for others. To me that shows how good she really is. It is one thing to be able to use your natural ability to make beautiful artwork (or do math or surgery or landscaping etc..) but a whole other thing to be able to teach others to do it as well. Anyway...
My trees all finished

The hubs's trees all finished
Next up was to put the canvasses together and see how we did. I was quite happily surprised to see that they actually lined up!  The people were then painted in.

Look they match up!!

People and umbrella added

Awe :)

Highlights, lamp posts and trees

That's going on our wall above the couch :)
And that was it! Date night was a success. I had more fun with the painting than Hubbybear did, but we both enjoyed being out. Plus, I had a groupon coupon for buy one get one, so it was only half the price! W did well with his new babysitters and was fast asleep when we got home.

November 1, 2013

Quick Foot Update

There are a million different products out there for thrush (fungus/yeast horse hoof infection). I don't think any are really awesome or everyone would be using it. I had researched various options and went with No Thrush. It is a dry powder that is supposed to adhere to the hoof and wick moisture away while killing any bacteria and fungus/yeast. It intrigued me, so I bought a bottle and it arrived Wednesday.

I went to the barn Wednesday evening to both try out the 20 inch County Logic girth that arrived as well as apply the powder. More on the girth later. It is a big saga. Anyway...I applied the powder as instructed (I had even watched some videos on how to apply it) and left to let it do its magic.

Over my lunch break yesterday, I headed to the barn to treat her again. It needs to be used daily for 7 days and with it being Halloween I knew I wouldn't make it in the evening. I know 1 application isn't enough to make a decision on it and I will use it all 7 days, but I think it is not only not working, but I think it is making it worse.

Her feet had been very dry (good thing) but cracked. I had used iodine before getting the powder and it was keeping them nice and dry. Iodine kills everything. But when I went yesterday, her feet were wet. It puzzled me.

I applied more powder and put her back out and will check again today. I am thinking that the powder is grabbing extra moisture from the environment and trapping it against the hoof creating more moisture (a bad thing). Maybe if she was in a stall 24/7, it would work, but she isn't. The ground is dry or at least was until today when it is supposed to start raining.

If it keeps looking more wet than before, I am going to ditch it and just go back to my iodine for now. It is a great drying agent and I don't know of any organism that can live in the stuff. It can be a pain to do, but if it works, why fight it? The deep heel crack is my biggest concern. I don't think pouring iodine into the crack is such a great idea. I may need to look into other options.

We are getting a new farrier (what?! wasn't our farrier one of the reasons we left Crabby Acres??) and he is due out in a week. I will have him take a look at her feet and see what he recommends. In the meantime I will keep applying the powder.