Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Art of Clipping

I have a show this upcoming weekend, so I am been trying to put off everything as long as possible.

I am a Class A Procrastinator. 

However, I have some pretty awesome friends.  One awesome friend volunteered to come over and help me clip the Semi Feral Filly (ahem--mare) which is major show task #1.

Now Chili has been clipped plenty of times.  But she doesn't enjoy some of the process, especially on her face and ears.  It used to require liberal amounts of Dorm, a twitch, and someone holding her to get things done. 

Fortunately, we have progressed past that point.  I did her bridlepath and feet without much fuss.  She then decided that whiskers were the devil, but after a momentary fuss she was good there.

Ears are always the worst part, but awesome friend had a twitch, because while I probably own every piece of horse equipment known to man-kind, I have no idea where my twitch is.  So Friend twitched her while I went for the ear.  Left ear was fine, right ear was a lot more fussing. 

Clipping Arabians requires some fancy face clipping.  The main goal is to clip a triangle to accentuate the shape of the horse's head.  If you are a skilled clipper, there is lots of blending to be done to essentially make the horse look like one fancy beast.

Well, I am not quite so skilled, but I did semi-accomplish a triangle that was mostly triangle shaped.  I don't go too crazy with the clipping since I dabble in the dressage ring, but I do think it is nice to accentuate some of the Arabian shape, plus I have to learn somehow.  ;) 

Who doesn't want to learn on their clipping shy, red hot chestnut mare?

After clipping, Chili was thoroughly sweaty, so she received a bath.  I couldn't resist throwing her out in the pasture and taking a couple of photos.

So what's the verdict?  Does my clipping pass the muster this time around?  It is certainly a work in progress.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Setting Sun

In typical Midwest fashion, it has been humid enough to make my curly hair resemble a raccoon's tail instead of just hair.

I pushed off going to the barn until the heat broke a little bit, but then I realized I only had about forty minutes until the sun set.  I hate the end of summer and how the sun begins to set again so early.

I tacked up quickly, hopped on Chili, established that I mostly had steering and brakes and headed back onto the little trails behind the barn.  She was energetic.  She'd had a few days off, is on a new blend of feed which is higher energy, and was recently treated with ulcergard.  I think she feels good.

But despite this, she was good.  We took a couple moments to traverse the Giant Puddle of Doom, which in the setting sun looked more like the Swamp of Sadness with Atreyu and Artax.  If you haven't seen The Neverending Story, watch it and then you'll get the reference.

Swamp of Sadness

There were several deer out and about.  I am not sure she saw the first one, but we saw two others while we were traversing the narrower, muddy parts down off the main driving path.  She hesitated for a moment and we stood together, watching them leap off, white tails flagging. 

I am happy to take the freeze and watch the deer actions any day over some horses I've ridden that have an absolute meltdown over wildlife.  I wouldn't say Chili is impervious to random critters leaping out, but my goal is to slowly build up her confidence and feel like she can move towards these animals, chasing them out if you will.

We have also started practicing some long trotting on the trails, now that our walking isn't looking like a drunkfest outside the local bar.  I have found that the long trotting has done a lot of good to trying to loosen her tight back. 

No ride today as I am not feeling well, but clipping for the show this weekend is on tomorrow's agenda.  Wish us luck.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Things I Learned from Facebook

My husband says that I have a Facebook problem

This may be true.  His point is that when I see stupidity on Facebook, I have a hard time walking away.

So the other night, I just couldn't get past the evolution of a conversation on a Facebook group.

It started innocently enough on a group focused at Arabian Breeding Stallions

"At what age do you begin standing a stallion"

Such reasonable responses followed such as
  • After he is proven undersaddle
  • Around the age of 4-5
  • When his manners are firmly instilled
  • When he has been shown/has a job

    Then it took on a life of its own.  I had no idea that some people took offense to the above statements.  Here are some things that I learned from that conversation.
  • If the stallion never goes off property, he does not need to be trained
  • It is better to start breeding younger in order to recoup money
  • Breeding horses younger makes sense for futurities (I don't get this one.  I bred a horse for a halter futurity, but I'd rather use a proven stallion rather than a two year old)
  • The show ring is abuse/rigged/judges are corrupt, therefore don't bother showing
  • My favorite was that an old horseman said that two year olds should breed at least 10 ordinary scrub mares to see what they produce.  Based on this production, then the better ones should be stallions and the others gelded.  (My thought: How many horses have to be produced that way?  Must be on large acreage because it isn't cheap to support them any other fashion!)

    Anyone else love to be a Facebook warrior?  What say you about what qualities, age, or such that a stallion should have before breeding?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The New Trailer

I have been looking for a new trailer for the better part of a year. 

My first trailer was a very sufficient trailer.  It was older than I was and probably made in the 70s.  Small two horse bumper pull with the compartment under the manger.

I'm sure everyone knows the type.

But, it was reasonably priced when I had approximately .02 cents to my name, had good floor boards and bones, and was a trailer.

However, Chili hated it.  She fussed about loading and it was just generally an unpleasant experience.  She loaded fine on other trailers.  I know that really the horse should oblige, but in the end, Chili made her point known.

So began the great trailer search of 2015-2016. 

I looked at approximately 1740247 trailers online.  A few seemed to fall into the right category of "good price, reasonable distance, and have reasonably what I'm looking for."

I didn't think that I was asking for too much.  I was on the hunt for

  • All aluminum or steel frame with aluminum skin
  • Dressing room
  • 2 Horse, preferred slant
  • Ramp
  • Reasonable condition
  • <$8,000
    Random photo.  The Fjords at my barn are beyond cute

    Well, as it turns out, those were unreasonable parameters.  I also learned that people are a little frustrating.  I had several trailers sold out from underneath me, when I had appointments scheduled at the earliest convenience by the seller and then someone else popped in moments before our arrival and bought the trailer.  You'd think that once would be enough, but this actually happened twice while we were driving distances to the trailer, and once we actually had a couple hours notice.

    I tried looking at some more trailers, but I was a little disappointed that people still wanted $8 to $10,000 for ten to fifteen year old trailers, where the new ones of the same models were only a couple thousand dollars more.  I love my Corolla, but there's no way I'd pay near sticker price for my almost decade old car.

    So I began looking at the major equine expo.  I had every intention of coming home with a trailer, but once again, I felt like a bad date.  I had upped the budget, but was dismayed by sales people and some obvious issues like the exposed sharp spring by the tie ring in the Lakota, the weak latch in the Exiss, and the impossible jump in the Featherlite I looked at. 

    I really needed like E-Harmony for trailers at that point.

    I have always loved Hawk trailers, but the ones at the expo were a bit out of our price point.  However, after some creative internet sleuthing, I found a dealer that only stocked a couple on the lot in order to reduce overhead.  The dealership was a couple hour drive one way, but bonus, it was in the same town as my grandmother.


    So there's the most expensive new purchase of my adult life, excluding my student loan debt and my house.

    It's a two horse Hawk, ramp, bumper pull.  Steel frame with aluminum skin.  Pulls easily, has a good sized dressing room, and the best part of all is that Chili now loads.

    So go trailer shopping and use the horse as an excuse.

    Chili approves of this message.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Down Center Line

For anyone that historically followed my blog before the Great Disappearance of 2015, there are a few established things.
1.  The horse that I am currently riding and showing is one I bred.  Subsequently, our riding and training can be iffy.  ;)
2.  I am a chicken shit when it comes to trailering my own horse.  Makes me nervous and I am new to the whole driving large vehicles things. 
3.  I can't hear worth two dead fig newtons.  OK, maybe better than one fig newton.  However, this sometimes presents some interesting scenarios in the show ring.

4.  My sense of humor is a little distorted.  Sorry.  I kind of do things in my typical semi feral way.

Now I decided I wanted to do a local dressage schooling show.  This isn't a major event as it is less than 20 minutes from barn to barn.  It's a schooling show.  It's a benefit show.

Except, it involves you know, hooking up the trailer, stuffing said horse in trailer, and then showing without an appropriate number of friends hand holding. 

The good thing about showing on my breed circuit is that I know quite a few people.  Some people make my skin crawl, but the vast majority are good.  There is a large group of people in my area that are amateur-owner-and-trainers, ie showing self trained horse, so I fit in perfectly.  It provides a good amount of people to provide moral support, help braid, and make sure my half deaf and half show stupid self ends up in the right ring at the right time.

Well, I signed up for this schooling show without too much thought.  My main friends of support were working.  Fortunately, I found a fantastic friend that gave up her Sunday to be an awesome pillar of support.

Bonus is that she also can help hook up and navigate a truck and trailer.  Girl power, everyone.

So enough of my problems.  Who wants to hear about problems?

The long and short is that we survived.  Chili was good.  I have navigator problems.  I also have geometry problems.  Minus two for going a little off pattern.  Oh dear.

Chestnut mares in flaming heat also sometimes strongly object to too much leg for canter departures.  The judge kindly noted "exploded into canter".  Well, you know.. :)

However, our second test which was Training level was much better.  I still have geometry issues, but we did get some nice "7s" and a good square halt.  I always love it when my horses stop well. 

Perhaps more details on the show another day.  But if you are like me and have irrational fears that have held you back, then consider this.  It's never too late to keep pushing the comfort zone.  Progress will be made, slowly, and in increments if done correctly.
Ribbon!  We actually finished 3rd & 4th.  Middle of the pack for both tests.
What fears are you working on?  Have you made steps to move past them this year?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Running in Circles

I don't particularly ascribe to any one mode of training. 

I do my own things.  This usually means I read, ruminate on things for a while, then do something completely different in my Semi Feral Equestrian kind of way.

One thing I have been pondering lately is lunging.  Or longing if you prefer that spelling.  I'm more of a lunging kind of girl.

If you have read or noticed any one aspect of my blog, it that is features predominantly Arabians.  I mostly handle and deal with Arabians.

I show on the Arabian breed circuit.

However, I don't keep my horses in a training barn.  I don't particularly appreciate a lot of the dark side of the breed shows and trainers.  I do appreciate the natural beauty and joy of the breed.

What does this have to do with lunging?

I was recently at a show volunteering.  I overheard one gal speaking to another about how her horse misbehaved in the class.  A comment about how he would be too exhausted to even pick up his head was made, as the gal had spent a good part of an hour lunging.

At what point is lunging meaningless?

I lunge horses at shows as I can't turn them out to stretch their legs.  My horses are used to being out 24/7 and I like them to be able to move as they would like for at least a few minutes.

I used to lunge a lot before riding.  Upon reflection, I think it was more habit and a desire to "take the edge off". 

But as I continue to ride, there are plenty of times that I can just ride the horse.  Aimlessly running in circles doesn't seem that beneficial to the horse.

I have tried to change how I lunge.  While lunging, I have incorporated more changes of direction, changes in gait, and obstacles.  What I have found is that lunging has become more meaningful while doing it.  The horses take less time to pay attention.

This is just my soapbox.  Not necessarily the right way.

But I challenge anyone that is just lunging their horse for an hour to "get the edge off" to try examining what else can be done with the horse.  Try varying the gaits, path of travel, or anything else to make the time spent on the circle meaningful. 

Stop using lunging as a punishment tool for a horse that is not equipped to handle a class.  I have had less than stellar classes, however, I have never felt compelled to lunge my horse for an hour to push my horse to the point of exhaustion.

So here I am on my soapbox and I'll step off now.

But why do we always spend so much of our time running in circles?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


I work in a hospital.  I have seen lymphoma in a blood smear quite a few times.

But horses is different.  Colic I understand.  Lameness I understand.  Lymphoma?

Lymphoma took another friend from me a few weeks ago.  I also didn't call this beautiful, majestic boy my own, but I was fortunate that he permitted me to be within his space.

He had some rough moments in his past.  He guarded his affections.  He was a very polite stallion, but constantly worried about the actions of the people within his vicinity.

I made it a point each time I saw him to try and say hello.  Give him a cookie.  Have him try and approach me for it instead of having him gingerly eye me from the corner of the stall or paddock. 

I listened to him.  My last visit was trying to find where he wanted to be scratched. Nacho was perplexed.  I was scratching, but he was worried about having a response.  I could see his lip wiggle.  An ear flicked.  I found the small tuft of mane at the the top of his wither and he was more effusive in his delight.

 His illness was quick.  I don't think he suffered.  He had originally presented with ambiguous colic like symptoms on Sunday.  Veterinary treatment didn't resolve his lack of appetite or desire to drink.  

His owner is an incredible horsewoman who works tirelessly to ensure the comfort of her horses.  I think she made the right choice.  By Friday, he had lost his spark.  Euthanasia is a "good death".

After working in the veterinary field, I have always thought it was always better a minute too early than a day too late.  I hated seeing the look of despair on pets that were so far gone that there was no resemblance of who they once were. 

I am grateful that his owner knows this. 

So I will carry these memories of Nacho.  My dancer, my little Andalusian. 

Thank you Nacho for letting me into your trust.  I learned a lot and for that I am grateful. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Of Love and Loss

This month has been a tough month for my friends.

I am blessed to be so involved with wonderful horses in my life.  I have occasionally discussed the rescued mare Love and how an incredible group of people banded together to give her another chance.

Love, January 2015

Love was beautiful.  Love was kind.

She took care of me.  My first blue ribbon under saddle

Thursday was a rough day.  Love had been battling a significant tendon injury in a front leg.  She ended up injuring the other tendon, resulting in a high bow.

She had been a marvelous show horse.  I think she had been to more states than I had.  But, those miles had caught up to her.

The Cushings caught up to her.

And it sucked.

When horses no longer have a leg to stand on, what is the logical choice?  She wasn't comfortable.  Her owner and I fed her so many cookies and tried to be brave.

Friday was a rough day at work.  I didn't sleep well Thursday night as I failed to deal with my emotions.  I typically work second shift, but had switched for a 7 AM shift on Friday. 

How do you explain the loss of such a good friend?  She was no longer mine, but still owned a piece of my heart.

Those that have never been truly owned by a pet don't understand I think.

Finally now, I am moving on.  I am not sure how long it will take before my heart stops aching.  It hurts. 

Maybe it will always hurt, but I am grateful that I met Love.  I am grateful for the incredible group of friends that helped save her.  It was worth this heartache.

The last photo I took of her last month

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hello Again

Life goes so quickly sometimes.  It's hard to keep up with everything that I want to blog, the house, life in general, and work. 

I apologize for my absence.  I've had so many things I've wanted to share and discuss.  Useful information, general discussions about the equine community, and some very sad moments in my life.

So if you are finding your way back, thank you for my faith to come back and read the blog.  I am hoping to be able to write up blog posts as I have time at work and then transfer them to blogspot the following morning.

I am a late night creative person, unfortunately, I now work second shift. I have these incredible strokes of brilliant at approximately 8:30PM and then it's gone in a flash.

Does anyone else have a preferred blogging time?  How do you keep track of ideas for blogging when you don't blog at your preferred time?

The Semi Feral Equestrian and all of the Semi Ferals