Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Horsey Christmas!

Merry Christmas horse lovers!! It's that time of year when we ask for new tack for our horses than actually asking for presents for ourselves! I always love showing up at the barn after Christmas and showing off my new riding gear.

Since I celebrated Christmas with my parents last Sunday (we will be out of town visiting Nick's parents for Christmas week) I am already decked out with some *new* gear for myself and Smash! 

Here's what we got:

Fancy new Pelham -Ascot Dressage Boots* with fuzzy stuff on the inside. I already took the front boots to the barn so that's why you only see 2 here. Smash looks so good in purple.

A handmade jeweled brow band that someone was selling at the Pleasant Ridge Farm when we were there for the show. 

Winter riding gloves. 

Coordinating shirt* and riding pants* from Irideon that actually match my Ariat black and pink paddock boots really well! The little stripe on the pants also is very slimming. ooo lala!

What new horse gear gifts did you get this year?

*These products were bought on Tack of the Day.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pleasant Ridge Farm Dressage Show 12/2/12

Finally Smash has been sound long enough to be able to do something exciting other than lessons! My Mom wanted to do the Pleasant Ridge Farm Dressage show ever since she heard about it and while I originally didn't want to do it, I figured why not since I was going to be there anyway. My riding instructor also sort of told me it'd be stupid for me to go and not use the opportunity to ride, too.

It all seemed to be a good idea when we registered until we saw the ride times on Thursday. My first ride time was at 7:54am! Pleasant Ridge was 45min away from Waredaca. This meant we had to leave Waredaca no later than 6:15am and I had to wake up at 4am. I was also concerned about catching Smash in the dark. I tried to catch her one evening earlier in November after sunset and it was a total disaster. Chased her up and down her large field until finally having to give up.  Stupid mare. So I made sure to put her in a stall on Saturday evening/night to make my life (and everyone else's) a little bit better. I'm not sure how pleased Smash was but she dealt with it ok.

We arrived at Waredaca at 5:45am and loaded Smash and her field-mate, Centi. Both were not thrilled to be put on the trailer, but we made it work. GPS took us the dumbest way to Pleasant Ridge but we arrived right on time and started getting ready for my first ride. The farm was really pretty! Looked brand spankin' new! Unfortunately, Centi decided he was not getting off of the trailer. Smash, on the other hand had no problem getting off! After about 30min of trying to get Centi off, Nick took the partition out of the trailer and Centi turned around and walked off that way.

My first ride wasn't too bad but Smash was definitely not in front of my leg. She was also distracted since it was her first time going into this very large indoor ring. The judge's comments after my ride, however, were just "pretty horse!" and I was kind of shocked since that was not constructive at all but thought maybe it meant I rode really well. I ended with a penalty score of 36 and 4th place.

My second test I thought was even better yet this time the judge said I was too tense and needed to stop holding Smash back (she was still behind my leg, actually) and let her stretch more. I disagree with those comments but what can I say? I said I understood, practiced it as I walked Smash out of the arena and let it go in one ear and out the other. I ended this test with a penalty score of 35.23 and another 4th place.

My Mom rode next. She had a rocky first test with a few wobbles here and there but dramatically improved in her second test! They both did very well!

It was then time to load the horses back up. Smash did not want to go back on the trailer. After about ten min I got some grain as a last resort bribe and randomly it worked. I don't understand horses. But then the real drama happened. Centi REALLY didn't want to get back on the trailer. It took 4 people, 3 whips, moving cars around the trailer to create a chute, an episode where he reared and fell over backwards, and over 30min to finally get him back on. *sigh* At this point I was so exhausted and hungry I wanted to be home, showered, and in PJs. When we got back to Waredaca we didn't mess around with trying to get Centi off the traditional way and took the partition out immediately. He was fine with that decision, too.  Craziness happens when dealing with horses but it's normal and just comes with the territory. Having had episodes with Smash lasting over an hour, myself, I completely sympathize! I am just so THANKFUL for all of the friends who helped us that day even though they didn't have to! We would still have been at Pleasant Ridge if we didn't have their help!

Only then did we finally drive home and spend the rest of the day entertaining the dogs (they were so neglected all morning) and sleeping. I ended up going to bed at 8pm last night because I was so exhausted. I'm not sure if I'll go to another dressage show there again but I do think it was a good overall experience for Smash and me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to REALLY Buy a Horse

Lately I feel like I've been told things that I should have looked for or asked before buying Smash which, now after it's too late, explain moments when she's up or mare-ish. So for all of you out there who are considering buying a horse here are a few tips your instructor might not point out when horse shopping:


Whorls and Cowlicks are apparently the Astrology signs for horses. If a cowlick is centered, above the eye line, below the eye line, off center, or a horse has more than one tells you about their temperament. There are also many schools of thought about it, too. Lots of books, articles, and personal opinions. 

This article has a bunch of great information regarding whorls/swirls/cowlicks and reference books if you choose to get super educated about it. 

Photo Source
Smash's whorl is off center which, according to theory, means she is 'spirited' and I'd have to agree with that assessment. If only I had known to check for whorl placement before purchasing her!

Horse Butt: Rider Butt

No, this is not an SAT exam question but rather a ratio system I have devised. I think the rider's butt should be approximately 1/3 the size of your horse's butt. This ratio allows you to know you are appropriately sized and weighted for your horse. If your butt is 2/3 the size of your horse's - you're too big and should consider a larger horse. Here are a few examples:

As you can see here, even though my butt is covered by a costume, it sits in the middle third of Smash's butt. 

Photo Source
This here is a great example of how this guy's butt is more than 1/3 the size of his horse's and should consider a larger horse (never mind the fact that his legs are barely off the ground)

Here is my Mom (Hi, Mom!) and a horse she used to ride. They have great butt proportion, too.

Let's face it, nothing is more uncomfortable than watching someone ride a horse that makes their butt look big (no one wants to hear their butt is as big as a horse's!). Horse showing is not all about looks, but we all know the more confident we look on our horse the better we ride. 

Like Horse Like Owner

It's argued that most humans resemble their pets in one way or another. Some are looks, some are personality, and some are both. While I like to think I look more human-like and less horse-like I do think this statement is true for me and Smash. When assessing potential horses, be ready to be humbled that whichever horse you end up really falling in love with probably resembles you in some way, shape, or form.

Photo Source
As you can see, even celebrities can resemble horses.
Photo Source

And not always in a good way...

The same goes for us non-celebrities:
In this photo with Satchmo, a willing culprit, I am ecstatic and he seems embarrassed. We got along pretty well for a little over 2 years but he was not 'the one'. 

Contrary, in this photo with Smash from a few years ago, Smash and I have the exact same expression. 

I've also had to come to terms with the fact that I, too, like to be Queen Bee (Smash is in charge of the herd at the farm right now), I can be rather cranky and sometimes b*tchy when things don't go my way (although I refrain from kicking other people), and I love apples. On the opposite side of personalities, Smash and I share the same determination to be great, have a great work ethic and know when to get down to business, and can appreciate and trust one another when we are in trouble/need help.

This is a photo of my first horse, Monty. He and I shared many different qualities like stubbornness, a sense of humor, and we were always game to try something new. He, unlike Smash, loved affection and taught me patience and ALWAYS made me laugh. He was a true comedian!  He was my rock for a few years and a great horse. He even smiled a little in this photo.

None of these tips will be considered a high priority by your instructor or someone helping you find a horse with a certain ability and I think you should take them with a grain of salt - however, thinking about these tips won't hurt, either. It's a fun way to think about horse shopping and if you're going to spend a few thousand dollars on essentially a pet, why not make it as fun and enjoyable as possible :) Go forth and find that horsey soul mate!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

3 Day Event or BUST!

After learning/watching the T3D this past week/weekend I am super intrigued about doing one myself, next year, at either Novice or Beginner Novice division (Full Moon Farm does a 1/4 star event all the way down to Elementary division). I know this is ambitious and will require a LOT of hard work starting basically NOW! and I know nothing about how to train, what's required, or much of anything other than a vague concept of what happens. I have contacted one of the riders from this past competition to ask for advice and I will talk to my instructor but here's what I've found out (these are rules for T3D so it might be different for Novice or Beginner Novice which I'd expect to probably be unrecognized):

1. You have to Qualify. Sadly the qualifications don't include cute horse or a 500 word essay on why I love ponies. For the T3D you need to get NQRs in at least 4 recognized HTs at Training level or higher. I am not sure what NQRs are but I'm guessing National Qualifying Records?? aka do well at 4 recognized HTs and not a big fat E or RF.  One has to be attained as a combination. No idea what that means, either. So that in itself is a lot of time and training effort and money getting to all of those shows and actually getting through them and doing well.

2. You must be USEA registered. Because I normally compete in BN I only have to pay like a 'visitor's fee' and temporary registration. Looks like if I go Novice I have to register both me and Smash. More moolah. Especially if the qualifications need to be recognized events, this will just be an expense I'd pay in January and get it over with.

3. You and your horse have to be fit. Not like going on lots of trail rides fit, but gallop sets, trot sets, jumping courses without feeling like passing out, or hearing your horse wheeze after a gallop around the field and then going out and doing it all again the next day. This is where I need help. I know generally what to do but I know I need more guidance/training plan to get me and Smash fit enough for this. Thankfully this won't be too expensive to accomplish - just lots of time in the saddle and probably on the treadmill. It probably also means knowing how to take TPR on your horse in practice, too, so you know how fast your horse can recover in practice.

4. You need friends. Sounds silly but for this event you need at least 3 really awesome friends to come out and help you for the whole show. These friends need to be organized and know the rules and what to do so they help and not hinder your experience. Optimally you'd want friends who have done a 3 Day before and perhaps one who is a good braider and knows how to replace tack like studs in your shoes. They are going to help you get where you need to be ON TIME and help you not completely spaz out.

5. You need to know the rules. This event is not like regular HTs - there are jogs to be done (yes, there is a proper way to do it - and no, I don't know how), gates and phases to get to, knowing how fast or slow you and your horse are actually going, how to do math (Do you think I can strap my TI-83 to my reins??), and know when you can get assistance and when you can't. Not to mention deciphering the notes on your arm/tape.

6. You need to have fun! This is probably guaranteed if you're considering this in the first place, but like with any training, if you find yourself hating the process you should probably reconsider. Sometimes the idea of finishing spectacularly is more exciting than the actual preparation and work required to do something. So you need to really think things through. Regardless of whether you make it to the Awards Ceremony victory gallop on the last day of competition or just do a lot of training it'll be good for you and your horse. From what I can see from the very small research I've done so far, I'll be putting myself and Smash to the test of fitness and dedication and athleticism/heart to the sport.

I'm still doing more research to find out exactly what will be expected of me and Smash over the next year but this could be an awesome goal for us next year! We shall see what happens!

Monday, October 29, 2012

T3D and HT Weekend Spectacular

This past week has been crazy! Waredaca hosted their Training 3 Day event AND a recognized Horse Trial on the same week/weekend. Things started to get a little crazy the week prior when we were all instructed to move our trailers from our normal parking spot to further down the road. My trailer is my locker. So basically my car has now become my locker because driving down the road, then back, then walking out to get Smash, then putting it all back in the trailer did not appeal to me.

A few days later temporary stalls for the 3 day eventers went up in part of the cross country field. 3 rows of stalls for about 30 competitors, 1 being my friend from college. We were also limited to hacking in the fields and riding in the indoor ring and some limited warm up areas. I felt some what relieved I didn't need to really worry about where to ride since I was still dealing with Smash's abscess. Also, the field boarders got moved to a field closer to the barn which was more convenient for me. Smash was feeling better so she was not standing still when I tried to tie her to the tree and spooking at invisible monsters so taking her to the barn with cross ties was optimal! Feeling better + Tons of pent up energy = annoying horse.

By Wednesday all of the competitors were here and got to jog their horses for the vet and go on course walks with Steven Bradley! So cool! Thursday was the first day of competition: Dressage. It was also the day Smash finally got her shoe put back on! I am more than thrilled to announce Smash is sound! Abscess fully drained and she is ride-able again! :D You have no idea how happy that makes me! Friday was our first ride together after almost an entire month of her being off and it was awesome! In pure Smash fashion she spooked at almost everything and was very up until we got working and she calmed down. I could tell she felt good being back in work.

Friday was also Day 2 of the T3D - Steeplechase/Roads and Tracks/Cross Country day. I had never understood how this classic format worked until I saw it. Basically a rider has a start time where they go on a trail - Track/Road - for sort of like a warm up jog. They have to be at the Steeplechase start at a specific time. The Steeplechase area in this case was a cornered off part of the hay field made into a track/loop with 2 brush fences on either side of the loop. Each rider had 2 minutes to complete 3 loops of this track. It required horses to HAUL a$$ around this track! And you could tell this was every horse's favorite part since they got to go as fast as they wanted and their rider would not slow them down. Once finished this, typically your entourage would double check your tack (look for horse shoe issues/missing studs), hold your horse while you fixed tack, and gave you water if necessary before setting off on the second trail/road/track for a longer run.

You had a specified time to then rejoin your entourage at the 10 min vet box where you jog your horse in for the vet, hop off, and let your entourage start working their magic to cool off your horse as fast as possible. The vet's helpers would take TPR (Temperature, Pulse, and Respiration) every few minutes until your horse's vitals were back to almost resting/normal (temp of 102 or lower, 28-44 beats per min, and 10-24 breaths per min) for the vet to clear you to cross country start box. You had exactly 10 minutes to do this. If your horse does not recover in time they cannot go to the XC phase. We had one person walking the horse, another (me) sponging the horse down with ice water, and another using the sweat scraper to remove the excess water to enable the horses to cool down. Once the horse is vet cleared for vitals, the horse must be jogged again, and then the rider can remount and head to the XC start box. Then they are off for 24 XC jumps. Once they return from XC they must be cleared by the vet again, but this time there is no time limit.

Day 3 was the start of the recognized HT for the weekend and last day of the T3D. I was volunteering all day in the XC field but the format went like this:

* T3D riders did their stadium jumping and were presented with ribbons
* HT riders did their Dressage phase, headed to XC, THEN to stadium to avoid massive chaos

It magically worked out very well! And Sunday, despite Hurricane Sandy's pending arrival, went very well, for the Prelim and Training divisions. The show missed the rain completely and everyone got to compete! And I got to earn some Waredaca Bucks for volunteering *score!*

Next week is the last starter show at Waredaca for the year. I had hoped to ride Novice in this show but after taking all of October off (now because of a hurricane) there is no way it's happening. I considered entering in Elementary but thought no, I don't want to push Smash nor spend the money on an entry fee just for Elem. So I'll just wait for another opportunity. I already got an email for some December jumper shows so I will do some research and see if any of those look interesting to me.

It's been a very exciting week but now with Hurricane Sandy in the area I seriously hope everyone and their horses stay safe!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Since Smash is still recovering (her abscess is finally all drained, I think! Farrier comes Thursday to double check!) and I have not been able to do any fun shows or riding I thought I'd share a horse related video I made my senior year of college about the Equestrian Team.

A little history: I attended St. Mary's College of Maryland in Southern, MD - not The Mount. It's a small public co-ed liberal arts college that was my home for 4 years. While attending I made sure to join the Equestrian Team. We competed in the IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) in all different levels of Hunt Seat Equitation, some dressage, and even some Western equitation! I primarily stuck to the Hunt Seat showing since that's what I had grown up doing. It was challenging because each school would host a horse show and you would pull a horse's name out of a hat that day to ride in the flat and over fences. You didn't get a warm up, either. Just a small note on suggestions and temperament of the horse. Example: Mr. Poe can be strong over fences but carry a crop U/S. It was a true test of your abilities to adapt to new horses and never got boring!

So my senior year I decided to do an independent study for comedic writing and came up with the idea for a Mockumentary not only to satisfy my independent study but also as a goodbye present to all of the graduating seniors that year. I made this video before YouTube (gasp!) and before there were affordable HD camcorders that used internal memory or SD cards (double gasp!) so keep that in mind since it's not super high quality. There are a lot of inside jokes, too, so you might not think it's all that funny but there are some moments anyone would at least chuckle at :) ENJOY!

P.S. no one told me my hair was sticking out like that when it was my turn. don't judge me. It was 7 years ago. (omg i'm old)

SMCM Equestrian Team Mockumentary 2004/2005 Part 1

SMCM Equestrian Team Mockumentary 2004/2005 Part 2

I don't know how to fix the audio to sync with the video... :( Sorry that Part 2 kind of sucks.

Friday, October 19, 2012


It has finally happened! Good news for everyone! Smash's abscess is draining (and actually has been since the 8th) and should be all better in about 5 days!

I called another vet to come out and give me a second opinion because hearing her abscess hadn't popped in 2 weeks was disconcerting. Not to mention pumping Banamine in her system for so long was not something I thought she needed, either. Once the other vet came out she pointed out the same hole I thought I had seen on the 8th as being an actual hole from the abscess! The only thing is it was very small so while it had popped and was draining, it was taking a long time. She made the hole just slightly bigger and gave me instructions on what I need to do now to get all the pus out and get her on the mend!

What she thinks happened is a nail hit the 'white line' of Smash's hoof which sent the infection up into her fetlock and caused some celulitis. This explains the swelling we saw in her leg that first week.

So we've been doing a lot of this:

Smash, being Smash, only seems to tolerate 10-15min worth of soaking her hoof. I try to keep her occupied by brushing her while she soaks and checking the rest of her body but she always gets antsy. I don't blame her. Two weeks of having nothing to do and being sort of sore sucks. Even I'm antsy from not being able to ride her and it has been difficult to muster up energy every evening to go out and see her to change her wrap. Especially when the weather is poor! #Horseownerwoes

In the meantime I've been occasionally riding Tanner, my friend Amanda's, horse.
So cute! He is as big as Smash, if not bigger. I've taken a flat lesson on him and now a jumping lesson. He is not an easy ride! But I am very thankful for having any horse to hop on while Smash and Amanda recover from injuries. I'm at the barn every day - might as well ride, right? 

Aside from soaking and wrapping Smash up every day I thought I'd share a non horse photo *gasp! The horror!* just because it's not often I'm not in workout clothes or riding gear. My parents, Nick, and I were invited to a wedding last Saturday in Frederick, MD and it was a lot of fun. It made me excited for my own wedding coming up in 6 months! 
ignore the squinty left eye. I was being blinded by the flash

So there you have it. What I've been doing in the past 2 weeks. I am more than excited to get back in Smash's saddle and see if we can't accomplish anything before show season really ends! Stay tuned!