Thursday, May 18, 2017

XC Schooling...in a Boucher


I have a had a few people here and there over the years ask me why I have Klein in a low port Kimberwicke for jumping.  My answer has always been she has always been comfortable in it and has given me no reason to suspect otherwise.  I tried a variety of bits with her when she was young and the low port Kimberwicke is something she just seemed settled in to me over a lot of other things I tried.  There were some bits that she just didn't seem to ever get comfortable in and would be a little fussy in the bridle. Some of them she just outright wouldn't listen to also.  No one has ever said much about it after I explained it and they usually have said if that's what she goes well in, why fix what's not broken?

Recently though, my jumping instructor suggested I try taking the curb chain off of it just as an experiment.  She does kind of keep her nose tucked in a bit in it but she still gets out and moves.  So we wanted to see if maybe we could get her nose out in front of her a bit more without the curb chain and get her to pull me to the jumps just a little more.  It definitely made an immediate difference.  She seemed a bit more uphill in her canter as well.

I always said I would never gallop her or jump her in her french link Boucher because we normally use that for dressage and I did not want her to figure out she could really get strong in it if she wanted to.  Jumping and galloping in it could potentially show her that.  However, she has been in her loose ring french link lately for dressage and going very nicely in it.  So, I decided what's the worst that could happen if I DID try her in her Boucher for a jump school?  She is light years ahead in training now than where she was when we first started using the Kimberwicke like.....probably 8 years ago!  She is very responsive to half halts and seat aids these days.  Also, if she really seemed to not listen or not like it for some reason, we can go back to the Kimberwicke.

I went for it and schooled her at 3'3" one evening last week and aside from a few very tiny differences, I really couldn't tell it was the Boucher in her mouth.  She went great!!  We had xc schooling planned for that Friday, which is why I only jumped her a little bit that evening, I just wanted to try a couple fences quickly with it.  She had my curiosity piqued now and I just had to see how it would be for xc.

She was AWESOME.  I'm keeping it.  It definitely lets her pull me to the fences a bit more and she was just having a blast to begin with.  I could feel her seeking the fences and locking on a little more pronounced than usual.  She was out there full on hunting jumps.  She realized she had a bit more freedom and just enjoyed it, didn't grab it and try to take off.  She never tries to pull any tricks on me when we are out there so I didn't expect anything crazy with a different bit.  I'm totally ok with her being able to pull me a little bit more, I think it actually maybe let her confidence come through even a little bit more like she has a bit more freedom to make decisions with that extra freedom, if that makes sense? 

Photo evidence.  There it is.

Here is some video from that xc school:

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And one of my favorites from that day:

This is a very happy Klein mare doing what she very much enjoys.

We head to another course this weekend for another xc school, and I'm super excited to go out in the Boucher again.  The Boucher is staying.  We are officially putting the Kimberwicke down and backing away.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jersey Fresh 2017

CCI 3* victory gallop.

Last week I spent a couple days at Jersey Fresh with some friends.  I took the day off Friday to go watch the second day of dressage and walk the CCI3* xc course.

I didn't go for xc day because, as I am sure you all saw on EN and other sites that were giving updates, the weather was disgusting.  It was a pouring, cold rain all day.  I also had a lot of homework to do so that gave me a chance to work on it and get some things done.



 It took us an hour and twenty five minutes to walk the xc course.  We didn't stop for pictures at every fence either. 

The significantly improved island.

Pretty serious angled brushes.

 This jump was some kind of memorial.  It had baseballs on it and a sign that said "sign and baseball and take a piece of gum."  Still not sure what the full story is, but we all signed a baseball.

The Jail House.


It was a great weekend, and most importantly, despite some falls on xc, all horses and riders were ok at the end of the day.

One cool vendor that was set up was a NJ based company called "Delicious Horse Treats."  It was basically a buffet of all natural horse treats where you pay for a certain size bucket and then fill it with whatever you wanted.  The treats are actually made in Germany.

$15 for as much as you can pack in this bucket.

The guys working there were very nice and insisted we even try the treats ourselves because they are all natural.  We did try some, and they weren't bad.  They could honestly pass for some kind of bran cereal if you put some milk on them.

The guys also made sure that your bucket was PACKED and that you got every penny's worth of the treats.  So if anyone in the area is looking for a cool vendor for a show/clinc, their site isn't complete but it has their contact info:  http://www.delicioushorsetreats.com/

So far, every single thing I put in the bucket, my three have loved.



There wasn't a ton of entries this year but the usual top riders were there, i.e. Philip, Buck, Boyd, Lauren, Jennie, etc...  I was really happy to see Dom Schramm and his Bolytair B take 3rd in the CCI 3*.

Dom and Boly over the triple bar.

It was a great weekend, and it just made me look forward to the upcoming events there this summer.  We always have a great time at the horse park and this year will be the same!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Not Only is She NOT a Clydesdale, She's Also NOT a Cross

My Beauty Queen full Perch that can wear WB tack, believe it or not.

Every now and then I get questioned about exactly what Klein is as far as breeding.  I get asked what she is point blank, if she is a full Percheron, or what she is crossed with on an assumption made by looking at her that she just can't be a full Percheron.  I assure you, she is.  This is where you have to give the owner of the horse just a little bit of credit.  I totally can appreciate the fact that people that don't know us and question what she is have no clue that I've had her since she was two and that I bought her DIRECTLY from her breeder.  They also don't know that her pedigree is online in a database anyone can access 24/7 that shows she is not 100% Percheron, but 101% Percheron.  FULL Percheron.  Yeah, hi, I've owned her for ten years now, since she was a two year old.

You can find more here (including the link to her pedigree):


Most times I laugh it off, because they don't know any better, it's a harmless question, and point out that the whole reason her tail is docked is actually because she IS full Percheron.  She came from a breeding program that breeds big hitches and she got the boot into the slaughter-bound sale herd because they knew she wasn't going to get to 18 hands, therefore not making the cut for a big, fancy hitch horse.  This operation competes at the international level and also sells their teams to places like Disneyland for their fancy parades.

This week I got the typical skeptical response when someone asked me what she is when we were at another farm.  They asked, I answered that she is a Percheron and they said in a condescending manner "a full one, are you sure?  She's so light though."  Yeah, she is.  It's possible.  You're looking at it.  She is a Westbank Percheron.

Definitely not the head you would expect a full draft to have.

Like I said, normally, I laugh this off, besides it's a compliment, I know.  Her looks combined with her freakish athletic abilities can definitely throw anyone for a loop.  But, sometimes it gets old VERY quick when someone talks to me like I don't know what kind of horse I own.  That's fine, you don't know me, and you don't know our history, but don't respond to me like I'm an idiot.  Like there is no possible way that I could know what I own, and that somehow I must be mistaken.  News flash, you don't know everything.  Bonus, I don't own ONE full draft horse, I own TWO.  This kind of stuff is along the lines of when people try to tell me how much draft horses eat, yet...they own approximately ZERO draft horses.  Not crosses, FULL, PURE draft horses.

You know how people always say something like "be kind, you don't know what that person has going on in their life."  It is kind of the same thing.  Don't be a smart ass when you have zero background information about what you are looking at.  Can't we all agree you can ALWAYS learn something new?  That you will NEVER know everything, ESPECIALLY in the horse world?!  Why do you think the riders competing at the very top of any equestrian discipline STILL have coaches?!  Because they can ALWAYS learn more and improve something.  That's part of the beauty of the equestrian life, you never stop learning, never stop improving, or I would hope so at least.

A little off track, but this kind of thing reminds me a little bit of what happened at Badminton a couple weeks ago.  A lot of Facebook Four Star Riders came out of the wood work to make comments about a rider riding at a level they'll never, ever get close to riding in their life.  But damn, they sure are the expert about riding at that level and what everyone else SHOULD be doing.  Must be nice to never make mistakes.  The view must be great up there from the land of perfection. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Uncertainty


    Klein and I have been on the struggle bus a little bit lately with being one down on our team for the time being.  The Other Half plays a very big part in our team in a lot of ways, and one of those is xc schooling.  At this point, I'm really unsure of what we will do this year with shows because I just cannot get out and school as much as we need to because we are alone.  This is one area where moving around so much hurts you.  Moving around a lot is a fun adventure and gives you a lot of awesome opportunities but, being in a place for such a short time, we don't make many friends that want to do the same things that we do or go the same places.  While I have no problem signing a I Promise Not to Sue waiver and being on my merry way, a lot of places require a ground person around here.  The ones that do not are too small of courses for us.
    My plan was to get one Novice in then continue on at Training for the rest of the year.  We would have hit four or five DIFFERENT courses by now if The Other Half was here, but I have been to one.  Count it...one, that does not hold recognized either.  It's frustrating, but it won't always be this way. 
    Every time we go through an extended work trip, people always come out of the woodwork to tell you to just say the word if you need anything.  But the truth of the matter is, people are too busy.  They have their own lives, and they don't have much time for you, unless maybe it's a medical emergency.  However, I have recently added one to my small circle that just may be my missing link right now.  Someone that takes things as seriously as I do and "gets it."
    I will be happy continuing to get Klein out to CTs this year and this will also give me some more time to concentrate on seeing just what we have with Mochi as far as her rehab.  She has still been going well, and we had a great ride this evening with trot work actually.  I've also started to look at riding some other horses because I think you can always learn from riding different horses.  Every horse has something they can teach you.  Even when I had Mochi in work, she taught me A LOT.  She's a challenge, but if you listen, she'll take you to school and you will be a better rider for it.  She helped me give Klein a better dressage ride, big time.
    Anyway, not having the certainty of a ground person to go when you want or need to go only adds stress and puts you up against closing deadlines that you can't 100% confidently commit to.  Not cool when you trying to move your horse up.  It reminds me of the days of not having a trailer and being at everyone else's mercy, and on their schedule.  It takes the fun out of things.  I'm here to have fun with my horses.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Conditioning Fun

Beware of the Iron Hoof.  She rules the block with it.

I know a lot of people skimp on their conditioning rides because they just get bored.  You can get away with that at the lower levels to some degree with certain horses.  I can't do that with Klein.  So, to keep things fun I always have my MP3 player in one ear and we have our own little games we like to play out on our conditioning rides.  Yesterday we threw in some random geese chasing.

Klein likes to chase them.  If she sees them, she will start to pull me toward them.  From the days when I first started her and took her on trails I taught her to chase cows and the wild pigs in Hawaii.  I've taught her to chase deer when they would pop up out of NOWHERE and start running alongside us in Georgia.  I taught her to chase coyotes in New Mexico because it was common for us to see them out on our rides.  I taught her to chase dogs because sometimes, your voice and your horse is all you have and your only defense is to charge them while screaming and yelling.  I taught her to chase wild turkeys, cats, ground hogs, etc... Why?  Because these things can randomly pop out while you're at a full gallop somewhere either on a trail, or going down a xc course.

We actually almost got run into by about 10 deer about a week ago while galloping.  They narrowly missed us and Klein never even hesitated when they appeared.  There are plenty of horses that would disappear out from underneath you in a situation like that.  Part of it IS due to the beautiful mind of a draft horse, but some of it is instilling the confidence in her that SHE is the boss, not random animals.  And how many times have you ended up at a show where there's livestock and you see horses losing their minds?  From the age of three I had her watch sorting and chase cows on the trails on the ranch we were on in Hawaii.

Here you go.  Watching sorting with me having no regard for my life whatsoever and not wearing a helmet.  Those days are long, long gone.  I was laying on her bareback watching the commotion with her.  She's been that great since day one. Also, yes, she's in a driving bit because I taught her to drive, so I had her in it for a little bit.  This is three year old Klein, yeah I know which adds to my idiocy of not wearing a helmet.  I promise. that came to a stop not long after that.

We went to the beach A LOT while we lived in Hawaii because it was across the street.  So, here is three year old, just started Klein, in the ocean with me with a bunch of people in the background swimming and surfing.  She is in that same bit as above because this was around the same time.  Again I rode her over bareback.  Even as a three year old, you don't have tack on a horse on the beach.  That ruins the whole vibe.  To this day, we don't go to the beach with anything but a bridle.

So anyway, that kind of wandered away from random things we do on conditioning rides.  Back to that, I also pick out things and imagine them to be jumps to set her up and count down to our distance just to work on my eye.  We race cars (that don't know we're racing them), sometimes I've done race commentary about Klein coming around the club house turn.  We make as much fun as we can.  I've found little ditches in the fields to actually turn into a ditch and we'll come back around and jump them a couple times on a gallop.

I happened to have my GoPro on me last night, so here it is:

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Pony Rehab Update

The front box stall on the new trailer has been Moch tested, and Moch approved.

First, the only reason there has been a lull in posts is full time career + school + riding + maintaining our farm alone right now is taking up basically all my time.  I had to rearrange somethings on the to do list and unfortunately, writing blogs fell down the list a little bit.  But, both girls are in work and I have been busy riding them both alot.  It feels good to have days again where I ride both of my mares.


Mochi has been looking and feeling really good lately.  Right now. I'm riding her three times a week, or twice with a lunge line work out.  She is still sound in her Renegade boots.  I have trotted her a little bit and she feels great!  I'm still working on putting a fitness base on her though before we try any type of real work to see how it goes.


At home I have just been hacking her off my property.  I have also been taking her out.  I took her to the state forest the other week and I've taken her to another barn this past weekend.

I have a few more places coming up that I'm going to take her to ensure she keeps getting off the property and used to hauling a lot again.  She is still having some anxiety about hauling.  She's fine loading, but will be nervous by the time we get to where we are going.  So, just miles of hauling out will take that anxiety away over time.  She will remember that we go somewhere, we do normal things, we go home and she goes back out and does whatever she wants.


 

 



For now I will keep her at three days a week and gradually increase her workload when I feel she is ready.  Everyone keep your fingers crossed she continues to down the rehab road on a positive journey.  Should she become unsound, I have a back up plan ready to go that involves being shod by a farrier that has done Phillip Dutton's horses (since our trimmer doesn't do shoes anymore, or I would have him do it).  This pony is staying in work!

 
 Such a goofy pony!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Horse Hubby Feature: NCIS...but cooler: An Air Force Husband Speaks


The Other Half just did an interview with Horse Hubby.  If you missed the last post about who Horse Hubby is, click HERE.


And to read the recent interview, click here:

http://horsehubby.com/2017/04/12/ncis-cooler-air-force-horse-husband-speaks/

And...if you are an Elisa Wallace fan like I am, you know she and Johnny are in England right now prepping for Badminton.  For the schedule and other event info, click here:

https://www.badminton-horse.co.uk/

Go Johnny Go!!!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Full Size 2+1 Trailer vs. Mini 2+1 Trailer


For the sake of comparison and general trailer info in case anyone out there is looking for something similar of either model here is a break down on my previous trailer vs. my new trailer.  I am OCD with details and I research every tiny bit of information I can find on things.  I have even physically measured my previous trailer, and before I purchased my new one I made the sales guy go out and take some physical measurements for comparison's sake on the new one.

Overall Length:

Full - 30'1"  (floor length 22')
Mini - 26'    (floor length 18')

Height:

Full - 7'6"
Mini - 7'6"

Width:

Full - 6'9"
Mini - 6'9"

Weight:

Full -  5,902  (empty) 13,000lbs (GVWR)
Mini - 5,760 (empty) 12,700lbs (GVWR)

Why so similiar with the weights?  The mini is a steel frame with aluminum skin, the new full is all aluminum.

Tack/Dressing Room:

Full - 4'
Mini 4'

Here is a walk through video done by a dealership in Michigan that gives a good overview/tour of the full:


Other differences:

The new one has drop downs at the heads of the straight load stalls.  This is a feature that began somewhere around 2013 on the fulls.  You will see fulls pop up for sale that will be around 2005 or newer and not have drop downs at the head.

Bigger wheels and tires, this is partly due to the trailer being longer overall.

Sliding windows in the tail curtains, this is another feature that the new fulls have that you may not find on older model fulls.  This also started showing up around 2013 as well.

Here is a side by side comparison where you can see that the 4' gain in length is.  It is behind the axles.  I had the sales guy measure from the start of the floor to the middle of the first axle on the new one and it is the same length as the mini.  This just confirmed that the floor length gained is behind the axles.

 
Mini.

 
Full.



Walk through door in the tack/dressing room.  Not a big deal to me but nice to have.  The tack room in the mini did have a window that you could see through into where the horses were, which was also not really necessary.

Carpet in the tack/dressing room.  This is just an overall change to various models that Sundowner has made.  No more carpet in the tack/dressing room.


The box stall is a big difference in the mini vs. the full.  The box stall on the full is 7'6" in length.  The area where you can put in a divider for a box stall (it doesn't come stock) on the mini is, making it more like a stud stall/ very small box stall.  The ramp on the full is also wider.

 Here you can see just how close the divider is to the front compared to the full.  I gained a couple feet in this area with the full.

 The width of the side ramp is also different.  On the full the ramp is 5' and on the mini it is 4'.



I like that the horses can see eachother through the head divider on the full.

I LOVE that the straight load stalls have drop downs!  Maximum airflow is SO important to me.

Here is the factory diagram of the full:


All the lights on the new one are LED and really bright, I'm sure that's on all newer Sundowners though, that is not model specific. 

So how does it pull?  Like a dream.  There really isn't much difference between it and the mini.  I can feel a little more weight to the new one, but it is barely noticeable (because it's barely a weight difference).  Actually, I must have not have plugged it in tight enough in my excitement when picking it up, because half way home I looked down and noticed my brake controller was off, I know it was on when I left.  I pulled over at the next parking lot and plugged it in, didn't have an issue again.  The only reason I noticed I didn't have trailer brakes was from looking down and seeing the light off.  I never felt it pushing the truck, but my truck is a manual too, and this is also one reason I bought a manual truck, in case stuff like this happens.  I have had my brake controller die on the way to a show.  Luckily the way I was going was on back roads with no traffic but if I was on a busy highway with no brake lights, yeah...problem.  Braking without my trailer brakes was no problem though.

Turns are about the same since the axles are basically in the same spot, I just have to watch the rear end a little more since there is just more of it now.  I was a little concerned about the tight turn into my driveway, but it was no problem.  I had actually taken some video of the mini leaving the driveway and pulling into it to get a good idea just how much more room I had to spare.  Plenty.  No problem.

Overall, again, I couldn't be happier.  I love this trailer, it is exactly what I need, and I look forward to many happy miles with it, and happy ponies!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Trailer aka The New Hotness!


I have had my Sundowner mini 2+1 for about 4.5 years now and I have absolutely loved every second of owning it.  It has been the most versatile trailer ever and it has served me more than well.  I have hauled my girls across the country with it and put a ton of show miles on it.  It took me three months of searching the country over to even find it because I wanted that exact trailer and they are hard to find.  I ended up finding it at a dealership in Connecticut while we lived in Georgia.  I had it shipped down to me.

The only issue with it, is that it is not big enough to fit all three of our horses solely due to length.  Klein and Wes fit wonderfully in it.  It is a 7'6" tall trailer and the straight load stalls have plenty of room for them.  You can also turn it into a box stall as you saw in the trailer videos which any draft would find comfortable.  It has a ton of airflow in it, which is another huge reason I wanted that type of trailer.

Previous trailer, the mini 2+1.

I always knew that when the day came for a new trailer I would go for a full size 2+1.  You just cannot beat the setup that a 2+1 provides.  There are just SO many great configurations you can do with that trailer.  The only difference with a full size 2+1 and mine is the overall floor length.  The box stall is a full size box stall.  This would allow me to haul all three of ours together, no problem.

Every single time I have my trailer worked on at the dealership here I look at the new 2+1s, and I make The Other Half look at them too.  The guys at the dealer also ask me every time if I am ready to trade mine in for a new one.  Well, yeah...but not quite was always my answer.

After this latest round of obsessing earlier this year I decided I would just buy one next year before we move again.  I won't be taking all three of mine anywhere all together until we move so did I really need a new one?  Not really...until you think about emergency situations, then yes, I do need it.  If some situation arises where we would have to evacuate, I could load them and be gone.  No second trip, no finding anyone a ride.  And really, how do you make that decision?

So, yeah, I had talked myself out of it earlier this year and decided next year I would do it...until a week and a half ago at my lesson.  My instructor said she got her new trailer.  She said it wasn't what she had planned on getting and so I asked "Oh, what did you get?"  A new Sundowner 2+1.  G...t...f...o...  I had to go drool over it after I was done riding and seeing it all hooked up to her truck, I decided I'd had enough.  I called the dealership the next morning and said I'll take one.

I picked it up from the dealer today, a brand new 2017 Sundowner 2+1.


Full box stall.

 
The two straight load stalls behind the box stall.

I am a loyal Sundowner owner.  I have always had such great experiences with them.  Oh and if you are ever near Newfield, NJ, stop by Crossroads Trailers.  They have a big inventory of horse trailers, utility trailers, and RVs, and can do any work you need on your trailer.  Not only did I just buy this from them, they have been the ones that have worked on my previous trailer here anytime it has needed anything.  They have been great.  Great customer service and quality work.  One day while we were waiting for them to finish putting a new jack on mine, they ordered lunch of all of us in the waiting area.  They made this purchase extremely easy too despite using an out of state bank.  We did everything over the phone because I didn't need to go look at this trailer, I have looked at them a thousand times before I picked it up.  So when I did go to pick it up they had everything ready and all I had to do is sign a couple things and then they adjusted the GN for me to the clearance I needed and I was out of there with my new trailer in about 45 minutes, maybe less.

I will do a comparison post between these two trailers this week so that if you are ever in the market, or curious about the differences, or all the possibilities of a 2+1 in general, you will have some information.  I couldn't be happier with my purchase! 

P.S.  My smaller trailer is sold.  It went quick, sorry to those that contacted me about it.  I posted it Friday evening, had an offer in 10 mins, and it was sold by Sunday evening.  I'm super excited for the buyer, I genuinely hope she loves it every single minute she owns it as much as I did, and I am confident she will!