This Heat, It’s Oppressive

We’re moving into the (so far) hottest days of the summer right now- so what sounds better than making all the riding plans?

Tomorrow I’ve got not one but two lessons. First TC at 8:15am in the dressage court, then I’ll be attempting to teleport out to the trainer’s for a jumping lesson at 10:30am. Luckily the fact that I have a lighter horse in a breezy stock trailer should keep us from melting on the way home.

The only weather appropriate activity for horse people this weekend… Perfecting the tan. Also- why does she have tan feet?

Sunday’s activities will either include staying in the air conditioning while the ponies enjoy their fans, or potentially wandering through the local forest on a trail ride. No need to go crazy on both days.

I hope everyone stays safe with the rising mercury! Happy Friday 🙂

Let’s Discuss: Alternative Therapies

Horse people are weird. We know that. We spend money on these animals in ways that even normal-crazy-people think are crazy. And sometimes that cray in us comes out in therapeutic sessions for our horses.

Accurate.

Sometimes we try things as part of the rabbit hole that can be lameness diagnosis (ask me how I know). Other times it’s because we believe in a certain program in order to keep our beloved ponies in the best condition possible. And sometimes it’s because we don’t like money.

Acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments have long been stand-bys in equine management programs. And even these have gray areas. What about chiropractic practicians that aren’t vets? What about acupuncture that doesn’t include needles? How many of you have had conversations about what type of horse yours is- earth/water/fire/etc?

Then there’s more ‘modern’ treatments entering the horse world thanks to the wonders of technology. Some of these, just off the top of my head, include:

  • Equine Kenisiology [Rocktape]
  • Theraplates [Active proprietary Vortex Wave Circulation Stimulation Technology]
  • Magnawave PEMF [Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field]
  • Infrared Equine Solarium
  • Ceramic Fabric Therapy [aka Back on Track]
  • Magnetic Therapy

While I have only tried a couple of the above therapies, I probably would try all of them if the price was right, for curiosity’s sake. Even if there are some things that I would slightly choke on to discuss…

So readers, I want to know- have you tried any alternate therapies? What worked? What was a waste of money? What did you learn, and what were your experiences? Where do you draw the line for treating your 4 legged friend and/or keeping him in condition?

 

Cross Country Schooling at the Horse Park

This weekend, Jack and I made our first ‘big’ outing together, heading all the way to the Carolina Horse Park to school the cross country course ahead of their War Horse Show. While we’ve been off property quite a bit at this point, we haven’t been anywhere that would have a show-like atmosphere. Schooling at the horse park allowed me to see how Jack would be in a place with lots of other horses [literally] running around, trailers, tents, flowers, etc. And I was so impressed!

Jack is officially self-loading at this point, and hopped on the trailer for the 2 hour trek to the horse park. I loved that he actually was eating his hay on the way down, something he hasn’t done so far on shorter jaunts. Since we were running late we tacked up in a hurry and got out to the cross country field where we got straight to work, trotting around and hopping over a green-as-grass jump. Jack was super in listening to me and focusing on the tack at hand, but for the first several jumps (green-as-grass followed by Maiden questions alternately) he would give the fence a hard look before lift-off. There was never a thought of refusing, more just a lack of confidence that slowly disappeared as the schooling continued. Eventually we started introducing cantering the fences and wrapped up the cross country with a Beginner Novice fence that felt so great we did it twice!

Since the horse under me after cross country had lots of gas left in the tank, we then moseyed over to the showjumping, where we walked the maiden course in the tack, then proceeded to do two schooling rounds. For the first we just trotted all the fences, knowing that Jack is more likely to look at showjumping filler than natural fences. Then we picked up the canter and did the course properly.

To say I’m happy with how it went is an understatement, even though I see so many things that need fixing on my part. I now have the confidence in my new pony to go out and do all the things, knowing that he can handle the atmosphere as long as I am there to give him a positive ride. Next time we’ll be schooling beginner novice fences instead of maiden, and that vote of confidence from the trainer feels like a feather in the cap after feeling out of the game for so long. Barbie dream horse indeed!

Photography Friday: Nicole and Logan

When fellow home-town equestrian, Nicole, reached out to me about doing her engagement portraits with her fiance Logan, I was all in. Two gorgeous horses, a simply stunning summer evening (75* in June- inconceivable!) , and just the most glorious light you have ever seen- this is the romantic session any photographer could wish for!

Logan proposed at the Carolina Horse Park, and its obvious that he is a wonderful horse husband in the making. The two are working on building their dream farm all while planning their wedding, which will be Rolex weekend! I’m so thrilled to have been a part of this special moment for these two, and can’t wait to see all the amazing things they will accomplish together!

Happy Friday all!

Guess who’s back

Through no fault of his own, one of my parents’ horses has had a little trouble finding his forever home.

So tonight, I’m off to go pick up a certain bay cob and help him on his way. Riley will be coming up to me to get in shape so he can show off all the skills he learned last year and hopefully find his new ‘person’.


In truth, I’m excited to see that sweet mug again and have some control over who gets to inherit this special creature.

More updates to come!

Girth Sores- What to do?

Summer in the Carolinas mostly guarantees one thing: sweat. For any humans like myself with a, ahem, low center of gravity, that tends to mean chafing and wondering whether the cooler benefits of shorts are worth sharing your equestrian-pale-legs that highlight that recent cellulite. For the horses, recently it seems to mean girth sores.

Jack may be prone to these already, being the very thin skinned creature he is, but they have definitely increased with the humidity and mercury.

I’ve moved him into a fleece girth, and hope that will make the difference. TC is in his shoulder relief girth and I may have to find a similar solution for this.

Does anyone have suggestions for girths or ointments that could help both boys not feel the chafe?

Photography Friday: Black background Mania

In the last couple weeks my photoshop fingers have been running at full speed trying to keep up with the number of photography requests I have had. Not that I am complaining one bit- I LOVE getting to show these owners how stunning their horses are through these portraits.

Having so many at once has also allowed me to refine my editing style, which (at the risk of sounding snobby) I’ve come to think of as slightly more ‘fine art’ than my previous edits. With more horses to shoot next week, I’m definitely excited to build some momentum around my photography and hopefully keep that ball rolling!

Happy Friday all, and enjoy your weekend!

Jumping Jack Flash

Now with two real jump lessons under our belt, I finally feel like I am starting to get the hang of jumping Jack- or at least starting to understand his rhythm and needs for making the best jump possible. Our first jump lesson was at home, where mostly we trotted into the fences and focused on my following hand and keeping him straight and cantering after the fence. I’ve left the lesson audio on, mostly for my own benefit at a later date, so please ignore (or enjoy, whatever) my getting yelled at in the following videos.

Straightness in particular was also the name of the game in yesterday’s lesson as well. This was a new arena to Jack, with different types of fences and some exercises we hadn’t done before. While the jumps stayed small, we focused on the quality of the canter and keeping him put together before the fence. I really have to ride every step to accomplish this, keeping soft but communicating hands and half halts to remind him that rushing is not an option. Not that he’s to blame- the poor guy has mostly trotted or galloped fences most of his life- why should things change now?

Even though the jumps were tiny (and look even smaller on video compared to my giant horse), I was grinning (between pants) from ear to ear after the ride. New arena, galloping horses, and I had a fairly rideable experience and felt like I really connected with the giant blondie underneath me. Takeaways being keeping him especially straight and between my leg and hand before the fence, and riding more straight canter lines in general. Which surprise, also is a theme in my dressage lessons. Funny how that works!

Our next jump lesson will be in the form of a XC schooling day at the Horse Park, and while before I was fairly nervous about the idea, now I am starting to look forward to it!

Let’s Discuss: Social Time at the Barn

Growing up on a horse farm has its perks, but making friends of the human sort is not one of them. It wasn’t until college and entering a boarding barn situation that I learned that barn time can also include things like, oh, having conversations with people.

At first socializing something of a curve ball for me- barn time was horse time, and I was in the habit of going to my inner zen place and focusing on the task at hand at the barn, not catching up on the latest news or getting pulled into barn gossip.

Crazy people met and loved from the barn

And then I found a barn where the people somehow spoke my language. Everyone had goals and appreciated horse time as that golden hour of getting away from the responsibilities of a working adult. But they also cared about each other, and were excellent sources of advice, a helping hand, or an eye for diagnosing that latest cut/wonky step/braid quality.

Even more crazy barn tribe members ❤

Suddenly, barn time could be socializing time as well. Sure, it’s always about riding, but hanging around and chatting became one of the bonuses to the barn- a time to be part of a tribe of people that just get it. It’s a no-judgement zone of the best kind.

And the current tribe

I’m lucky to be in another place where I’ve found my tribe, though still regularly stay in touch with the first barn I fell in love with. Nights at the barn can extend well into the wee hours, and it’s a place where the people are as much a part of the barn as the horses.

It’s not always this way for equestrians though. What kind of horse-person are you? Is barn time sacred to just horses for you? Or is socializing a part of the enjoyment? Where do you draw the line when it comes to people versus horses at the barn? Do you see sharing a facility with others as a hindrance or a bonus? 

Let’s Discuss: Riding Multiples

I have been so incredibly grateful to ride TC for the last several months, as he’s taught me a lot about myself, and allowed me to have saddle time while I was technically horseless.

Aww TC

Even though I officially own my own pony right now, I’ve continued riding TC with the goal of hopefully competing at another recognized show at the end of July. Between getting to know Jack on the ground and in the saddle, and riding TC, albeit a bit more sporadically, plus of course the adult responsibilities like working a full time job… I admit I may be getting a bit burnt out.

What I would love to know is those that have more than one horse to ride- how do you prioritize? How do you keep yourself from eventual exhaustion? Do you feel that something eventually has to give? Or have you found a way to balance multiple rides with the rest of life’s responsibilities? Do you employ professional help? Or have strategies for keeping the rides fresh and exciting?