Friday, February 28, 2014

Thermal V - Pro Days

Annnnnnd we're back!

Prair's second day of pro rides was great. She really is looking more relaxed (in everything) and I can't see much of a difference in her with the snaffle vs. Pelham - which is a huge victory in itself!

I landed early, grabbed a rental car, coffee and snacks (in that order) before zipping down to the show grounds and stuffing prairie full of treats.

necessary evils

We had a while before Prair's classes so I grabbed my ogilvy pad as a butt saver for the bleachers (best idea yet) and went to watch some rounds.

Prair's flat round was good. Not her most impressive flatting but definitely good and we got second! Although only 25 showed up.. Not sure where the rest of the division went!

Over fences her first round (third round for the division) looked pretty great aside from some head waggles after lines. The biggest change is how nicely Prair is pausing after fences and rebalancing instead of plowing down to the ground. She picked up a 4th for her efforts :)

The second (4th) round was even better. More relaxed and no head waggle. No ribbon though :( even though it was the same judge who pinned her 2nd under saddle.

All in all Prair managed a 2nd, 3rd and 4th which I'm very (very very) pleased with. I just can't believe how well she's settling!

Also, a few photos that a barn mate took last week. I checked the pro photos, but these ones are better I think!

Forgive the glare, I took a phone picture of the physical prints on top of my tack trunk...

my favorite. A big smile after our first great round...

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Week V!

Well, week five is underway. I'm sitting back in an airplane seat, long before the sun is going to (maybe) show itself in Seattle and ready to get back to the sunshine.

dark, cold outside

...except that it's raining in the desert. At least it's a warmer rain?

Prair is off to a good start. Yesterday she started her 50 horse open 2'6" "Training Hunter" division again- but this time in her KK d ring instead of the Pelham.

N said she felt a bit more tense, but was light and well behaved enough to earn herself a 3rd in her second round (no placing in the first).

The tension might be more related to Prair trying a different calming supplement (instead of Perfect Prep). So today she's back to the Prep, and we'll see if that lessens her anxiety.

Sounds like she was snoozing at the back gate though and maybe grinding her teeth less?

Either way I'll be there in time to watch her rounds this afternoon and see for myself.

Off we go again!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Meanwhile... Back in the Mud

Gus and Pia are having a grand ol time.  They would both like you to know that there is more to being a horse than getting fancy braids and prancing around in the desert heat.

There is also the important grazing, rolling and general mud-monster-making to be done.

And these two are just the ones to do it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One Week Down... Thoughts on Thermal

Last week was a wild ride for me.  Having relatively limited experience in the Hunters, and even more limited experience at "real" week long shows, I wasn't really too sure what to expect when I signed the mare up for three weeks in the desert.
Prair snuck a couple mouthfuls of our ornamental grass... she deserved it.
Granted, we still have two weeks to go, but last week was the only chance I had to be there for the entire time and really get a feel for what the horses' days were like and what the ebb and flow of the show was.

All things considered I cannot wait to get back to the sunshine and do it all over this week.  I suppose that's my ultimate opinion, and probably indicative of my general experience, but I'll try to be slightly more thoughtful than "OMG more pony time NOW. RIBBONS, RIBBONS, RIBBONS."  Though, if you're bored and have had enough of my mediocre updates, that pretty much sums it up.

As I was flying home on Sunday evening and totally failing to catch up on sleep during the flight, I was thinking that I totally understand why people start off their season with an extended stay at Thermal.  Just in the first week Prair has already come so far, and logged so many miles that it seems like a lot of "bang for your buck" if experience is what you're after.  Prairie aside, it was great for me to just get division, after division, after division ridden.  So nice to be able to do so many rounds back to back and keep chipping away at mistakes or hangups without having to immediately pack up and think "gee, I hope I remember to balance better through the corners at the next show!"

I know the concentration of classes was good for Prair's brain because I felt it, but I'm sure it was just as productive for my brain, and I'm guessing she probably felt that too...

In terms of organization, Thermal is a well oiled machine.  Granted, we showed up for the second half of the circuit, so maybe it was crazy the first week, but given 5 days of active showing in just as many different arenas, at most one of our classes was 45 min behind the posted schedule.  In my mind, anything less than an hour late is on time by horse show standards.

The Show Office was also never a crazy scene.  I had to swing by maybe 4 or 5 times for adds, ribbons or closing out and every time I was able to walk right up to someone who helped me right away, no waiting.  For the record, I loathe long lines at Show Offices.  Makes me crazy.

Of course, really capable, really attentive grooms make everything feel about a million times more organized as well - and we definitely had those.  Prair was always polished, pretty and perfectly tacked 10 minutes before I ever needed her, and she was promptly unbraided, bathed and fed after my last ride of the day.  I also appreciate that the guys keep a stash of treats on hand and always have a mint for the horses after each round.  This may have started Prair hunting for her guys each time we came out of the gate, but I'd rather have that than her melting down or throwing tantrums.

I figure if The Boy meets me with Gatorade and snacks it was only fair for Prair to get mints and pets...

In terms of our experience, I'm thrilled with what Thermal is providing to both me and Prair.

Schooling on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday saw a fairly stressed mare dealing with way more atmosphere than I've ever presented her with.  The warm up rings seem to be a bit of a free for all before showing starts and Jumpers are galloping around the Hunter area, jumps are set up every which way, ponies and running wild, kids are crying, juniors are hacking with friends, trainers are trying to get 15 horses ridden and all in all it is mayhem.  Realistically I was impressed that the mare didn't high tail it back to the barn and hide.

Wednesday, Prair was concerned about going into the show ring alone, but by Thursday she seemed to resign herself to it.  By the time Friday rolled around she was giving me the same ride in the show ring as she did in warm up and by Sunday Prair was giving me pretty consistent rides round to round.

All told in five days of showing the mare was entered in twenty four classes.  Our goal in each entry being to give her a learning opportunity and to try to keep the experiences as positive as possible.  In the end Prair managed to get ribbons in 16 of her 24 classes.  Of the 8 classes where she missed the card - 2 were the first day, one was because I added, one was a big spook with N because of a truck, and the other four were all "good" rounds where we just didn't beat our competition.

When I look at that, it's hard not to think that my expectations have already been exceeded.  When we were coming down I told myself I didn't care if we ribboned (lie), I just wanted to feel good about our performance.

But, being a Satin-Obsessed-Crazy-Person I was hoping we'd go home with at least one ribbon to pin on the wall.  I would never have guessed we'd get 16, let alone in one week! and a couple blues for good measure!

I have to say I am feeling really good about the show miles for Prair, and even better about our ability to actually compete against some seriously nice horses and riders.  Yes we're rolling around the baby divisions, but so are some gorgeous horses!

In terms of Prair's comfort, some of my concerns about the stress and strain of extended showing have been assuaged.  First off, the double stall was a wise investment.  Prair has tons of room in her stall and is up to her chin in fluffy clean shavings.  The portables at Thermal are significantly nicer than anything we get locally, which helps a lot.  Our portables are just rows of stalls where each horse faces the aisle, but cannot see it's neighbor.  With these portables, the tents are huge and probably have room for 100 stalls under them, plus aisles between.  Also, the upper half of the stall partitions are a metal grate, which allows for a nice breeze as well as for the horses to all see each other.  I feel considerably less guilty about Prairie being stuck in a box when it's a big box and she can see in every direction.

Additionally, the horses get regular hand walks to stretch their leggies and make sure no one is getting stiff or sore.  Aside from Prair's rubs from the haul down she seems to be in good condition and is eating and drinking everything in sight.  The only indication that she's stressed is an increase in her teeth grinding while I'm mounted.  In the past she's "oinked" (it sounds like an oink) when we're standing and waiting, but this week she was much more willing to grind her teeth while we walked around as well... not sure what that's about especially since her other "annoyed" behavior like pawing, head shaking and general pissy faces are totally absent...

Can't tell if she's just developing a tick, or if she's really masking some distress.  She is staying on the gastrogard for the duration of the show which should be helping tummy trouble, but we'll see if there are any changes in week two!

Shopping opportunities to be discussed in another post.  So far I think I've been downright restrained in my acquisitions, but there may or may not be a CWD bridle included in there...

Monday, February 24, 2014

Thermal Week IV - Sat & Sun

Holy Moly I feel like I have a so much to catch up on and digest!  When we got home last night (to the pouring rain, booo hisssss) I tried to write down notes on our results and anything I could remember from specific classes.  It's amazing how quickly it all becomes a blur.  Though when I realized that Prair went in 24 classes I felt a little better about being somewhat dazed.

Saturday and Sunday were so much fun.  I can't even get over it.  My calves are sore (sore!) from so much leg and kicking (KICKING!) around during our rides.  The mare was really a gem, and I had a blast tootling around our little courses and walking (on a loose rein no less) around the grounds.

I'll get another post up here with my thoughts and observations on the show in general, but I'll try to keep this (moderately) focused on the rides from Sat and Sun.


We went first thing, which I decided I really prefer since it's cooler out and I don't spend all day going "when's my class, what division are they on, am I late??."  Prair came out pretty calm and we had a nice slow warm-up with two other ladies from the barn who were also in the same division.  As a barn we made up the first "group" riding our rounds which was super helpful.  I got to watch a friend go (and hear N's comments), then ride, then watch another and compare to my ride..  It was great for thinking and learning.

My biggest issue on course was that now that I can (and have to) add leg to make it up the lines, my eye is all confused and I had a hard time seeing my distances.  Up to this point I've always seen a distance and then held Prair back for it.  Now I'm having to see a distance and move up.

This is totally awesome and way more relaxed, flowy and fun to ride, but it is totally different than always trying to contain a freight train and add one more stride.  As such, sometimes we nailed it, and sometimes I thought we were nailing it but really we were totally off.

Not a bad problem to have, but not necessarily ideal in terms of Hunter Land.  The videos from this Division are stuck on the real camera which is currently fighting with YouTube, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

In a division of 15 horses we still snagged an 8th in our first round, an 8th in our second, (nothing for our third) and..... a first! in our Under Saddle.  That makes for two Blue Ribbons in Prairie's name.  Good Mare.  I will say she felt awesome for that flat class.  She stayed lofty and round but really relaxed and quiet.  I was thrilled.

Right after our Hunter Division finished, we moved into our Pre-Adult 2' Eq.  Sadly we rode exactly the same courses as the 2'3" Hunter Division so there were no fun rollbacks or anything, but it did give a chance to improve on our rides.  The Boy took a couple of these videos on my phone, so I have phone-quality YouTubes to share.
Reinforcing a button before my Eq rounds.. (the buttons are working OVERTIME)

There were only 10 horses in this division, so the placings are less impressive, but we did ok.

Our first round we got a 6th, second round we somehow got a 2nd, and our third round earned a 7th.  Finally on the flat my Eq squeaked out a 5th which was probably better than we deserved.

Our Second Round:

Our Third Round:


Sunday We wrapped up the week with a 2'6" Modified Adult Hunter Division.  Again we were first thing, but this time Prair came out a big spooky and a little more distracted than Saturday.  She was giving a hairy eyeball to scary wheelbarrows and loud children and other objects that didn't hold her interest previously.

Our warm up was super frustrating.  Prair felt extremely dull to my leg (though N didn't want me to use a spur) and like she was just tuned-out in general.  Our changes were unbalanced and slow, our distances were off and I was feeling very, very frustrated.

Truth be told when we headed for the ring I was thinking it was about to be a waste of entry fees and an unnecessary early wake up call.

But Prair totally rallied.  Our first course felt a bit flat but we stayed fairly consistent and forward in our whole course.  She was a joy to ride and I felt like all the small mistakes were mine, not hers.  Big pluses included how straight we stayed in our lines, our distances into each line and Prair's general relaxation.  I think it might have been our best course of the day.

The second and third rounds were similar, though we had a couple late swaps on her hind legs and in both courses across a diagonal line Prair wanted to change in the line, not after.  So I need to support her a bit more and help hold her lead.

All in all though, seriously!? Is this my mare!?  She's so fun! and manageable, and lovely!

Our Under Saddle also went well, and we pulled off a 3rd out of the 20 horse division.  I was a little disappointed to see we didn't ribbon in any of our over fences rounds, but mostly because I felt like they were hands down our best rides of the week.  Usually it's easy to dismiss disappointing results with "that's horse showing" but both N and a couple other riders commented that they were shocked we didn't place.  Nice to hear that other people thought we looked like we deserved it, but honestly, I didn't really mind because I was way too busy enjoying my horse!

Thoughts, observations and a general summary to follow!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Sorry for the lame iPhone posts. My brain thinks in smaller words and sentences on this thing, so forgive the 2nd grade writing level.

Friday was a solid performance. We played in the 2' pre-adult hunters which while tiny, had several reaaaaallllly nice horses.

Prair warmed up lovely, and aside from adding (!!?) in our first course she was soft, manageable and in front of my leg.

Our second course was glorious. I figured out how to let out her stride a bit more and the whole round was nothing short of magical.

Third round was in another arena (at the end of the world) which concerned Prairie greatly. We bobbled a bit with the far line since I think she thought we were falling off a cliff, but otherwise she was soft, forward and very responsive.

Our final round was uneventful. I think it was nice (but not that spectacular) though I'll have to check video and confirm.

Finally we hacked!

Prair was a tad too collected, but in a class of 20+ she totally handled the traffic ok (my main paranoia) and we snagged completely unexpected 2nd!!

When we went back to look at ribbons from our rounds I was shocked to see that our second round got us a first (1st!!!).

usually I wouldn't post a screenshot like this, but I was tickled by Prair's celebrity victory. Her horses (yes, plural) were all totally lovely.

Our third round somehow got a 4th, even with the looking/leaping at the outside line. And we barely snagged an 8th for our final round over fences.

1st, 2nd, 4th and 8th (and a nothing) out of 20!?? Such a good mare - I was thrilled

More video to come (it's on the big camera) but yahoo!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, February 21, 2014

Salvation & Satin

Holy smokes Day 2 was significantly less disastrous than Day 1. Prair had two more classes over fences and a flat class to finish her baby-horse-at-a-big-show division.

Flat was first and they (mercifully) did a California split so she only had 20 horses rolling around, not 40.

She wasn't as over her back and floaty as she has been recently, but I think much of that is due to the fact the N deliberately under powered her to avoid some stress.

There were some NICE horses in the class and I was thrilled to take 4th, and claim Prair's first satin of the show!

Before her round over fences, we burned another schooling ticket and Prair got to work over some courses away from the general warm up ring. She went straight from there to a waiting gate and put in a very solid course that was good enough for another 5th!

Her second round was in a different ring and there was quite a backup so she ended up having to stand around for nearly an hour before finishing the day.

I was a tad apprehensive that she'd be cranky and ticked off for the final round, but she held it together and snagged a 4th!!

Overall a much, much more relaxed day and glad to have some satin to show for it!

Now it's just up to me to actually ride... :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day One... (Oops)

Well, Prair's calm, cool, collected brain took a day off today and some of her typical stress and anxiety definitely popped back up.

She looked great walking around and standing patiently while the start of her division went, but her warm up over fences looked a bit tense and she never really settled again.

(Hanging out in the shade)

The first round was disappointing. Prair really got upset going in alone and the bank and raised fence at the end of the ring totally wigged her out.

I'm happy with the ride N gave her though, opting to circle and bring her back rather than letting her bomb around and freak out. Prair just looked rather frazzled the whole time. No sign of the rolling rhythm she had schooling on Tuesday.

The second round was much better, maybe because it was in a separate ring without the offending end fence (who knows). She was sill strong and anxious but tried harder

Hoping she relaxes a bit more today for the rest of her division but we'll see!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ticketed Schooling

Another good warm up day today. Prair really held it together for the 2 hours she was under saddle.

She started with a long tack walk while we watched N take a dressage lesson before Prair warmed up and then went in for some ticketed schooling.

She started great, then got a bit worked up, but calmed down and finished with a really nice, rolling rhythm.

(Trying to embed this video on blog press, but I'll post the YouTube link below as well, since my confidence is... Low)

Opted to drop her down to 2'6" for this first week and really build her confidence... We'll see how it god tomorrow!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, February 17, 2014

Settled and Schooling

Took advantage of a relatively un-scheduled day and just lounged around the show grounds yesterday. The barn's set up looks fabulous and all of the horses were happily snoozing in their very spacious and very airy stalls.

Prair's 10x20 palace is somewhat wasted as she insists on playing noses with her neighbor the entire time (but whatever makes her happy I guess..)

There is a definitely luxury in showing up to a show and having everything settled, set up and already organized - although I feel somewhat useless and haven't quite figured out what I do with myself while the guys take care of everything.

The Boy and I wandered the grounds a bit (found the food, restrooms, etc), and watched a few of the other horses get worked before Prair went out.

As snoozy and chill as she was in her stall - the gerbils started up when we pulled her out and tacked her up.

The long walk to the ring was pretty uneventful- able to stay on a loose rein (although there were a few nervous whinnies along the way).

Prair calmed down in the warm up and looked very loose and happy - although N reported that the mare was heavier in her hand than normal.

After a nice flat school she took a tour of some of the show rings and showed a bit more anxiety.

Normally Prair doesn't really "look" at flowers or mud puddles or anything like that but she was pretty concerned about every discoloration of the sand. N took that sensitivity to indicate she was just a tad overwhelmed with everything- which I'm pretty sure she was.

Today she gets schooled over fences, then I'll take her out later in the day to tootle around before we play with some ticketed schooling rounds tomorrow!

Displeasure at the lack of cookies presented.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Got the update that the horses arrived safe and sound. Prair walked off calm and comfy and fully hydrated and is enjoying her double stall like a lady.

Only mishap is that the halter fleecies didn't do their job and she's got terrible rubs on her face.

Poor thing.

Guess I'll be biting the bullet on a spendy fancy shipping halter for the haul home in a few weeks...

Breaks my heart!!

Kind of a weird angle but the cheek piece is on the left side of the pic for reference...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, February 14, 2014

Locked and Loaded!

And ready to head south!

We're just heading to the airport ourselves, but it looks like the mare is all loaded up and focusing her energy on getting as attached to her shipping neighbor as possible  (oh goodie).

Prair's on the left, attaching herself to a mare friend.
Personally I think they look adorable in their matching sheets.  Also, Prair's halter is a tad ghetto as the shipping fleecies don't really fit over her big padded halters (either of them). Oops.

Hope the padding is enough on it's own to keep her beak from getting rubbed...

See ya'll on the flip side!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Baby Update and All Clear!

I'm guessing that not everyone has the luxury of an OB who competes in the A/O's - but it's proved really helpful and comforting for me and I've really enjoyed it.  Choosing to continue to ride up to this point in my pregnancy is definitely controversial, but like most things that seem to involve kids and parenting, everyone needs to do what they feel comfortable with and become equally comfortable with dissenting options from others.

For me, personally - continuing to ride has been easy.  For one thing I feel my best and am the most energetic when I'm at the barn. If it weren't for the barn, my greatest cardio challenge would be climbing the stairs to my bedroom at night.  For another, it helps that I'm just now starting to show.  For me that means my body still pretty much feels normal, my balance isn't all screwy yet, and also, my breeches still zip (barely, but they do).  Since I'm used to my pants pretty much always being tight, this doesn't disrupt me.

Perhaps if this had been a difficult pregnancy, or if even getting pregnant had been arduous, I would be more guarded with my activity, but so far, things have been healthy and my general mindset has been to keep doing-what-I-do as much as possible.

Enter my OB.  I really appreciate that she's a rider, because she has a very realistic understanding of what the physical impact of riding truly is.  She also understands the craziness that is horse-ladies and can empathize with my desire to stay in the saddle. That being said, she is still a doctor and isn't going to let me run wild or do anything too crazy.

So far she has emphasized that I need to be aware of what the risks are in a worst-case-scenario situation (falling/trampling) and not ignore those possibilities.  I totally agree, and as someone who's been riding for 25 years, I suppose I'm maybe too familiar and comfortable with those possibilities.

At an earlier appointment she gave me a stern lecture that it's fine to ride, but I need to be a slightly different rider while I'm pregnant.  If my horse is being overly bad/flighty/unpredictable - now is not the time to step up to the plate and battle through things.  Now is the time to get off, hand the reins to someone else and watch what happens.

Now is not the time to take risks, move up divisions or anything else where I'm stretching my limitations or comfort zone.  Now is the time to drop down a division, scratch classes if I'm not feeling 100% and play everything safer than I would normally.

With that in mind she's given us the proverbial green light for Thermal, which is exciting.  The barn that she rides at will be down at Thermal for the same weeks, so I can also take comfort in the fact that she'll be a few barn aisles over should I have any questions, or need anything.

So with that knowledge, and a very good, honest conversation with my Trainer about what I am (and am not) comfortable with for the show, I feel very prepared to hopefully get a couple more weeks of rides in and enjoy this whole process.  Of course, I've balanced that with a healthy understanding that there is a chance it won't be smart for me to ride, and I've come to terms with that also.

Mentally I have decided that after Thermal I'll be done riding until after miss baby arrives so I will be shifting into the role of spectator fairly soon either way!

One of the ladies was teasing me that if I keep riding for too much longer I'm going to end up with a kid who needs to be put on a horse to fall asleep instead of in a car... too funny. but fine by me!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Getting Packed

It's strange - given the whole "full care show barn" thing, in theory I have way less to worry about/remember/pack than I ever have for any other show, so I should be all easy breezy chill about it all.

But I'm not.

In fact, I'm probably more neurotic about my packing list for Thermal than I have been for any other show.  I started casually cleaning and packing a few things into my trunk weeks ago (my show boots have literally been packed for a month).  But other things I've been lackadaisical on and very comfortable not getting 100% prepped until the last minute.

I think the above average stress is stemming from 1) the fact that I've never (ever) packed for a three week show before. and 2) the notion that when I'm responsible for everything it's easier to double check what I have.  But since I'm not - I keep asking (the same) questions over and over again.  I have probably asked N whether she packs Prairie's blankets or I do at least four times.

This should be easy.  I ordered the blankets.  She took them from me, arranged for the monogramming, dropped them off to be embroidered, and picked them up again.  I haven't worried about a thing! And yet, this somehow short circuits my brain.  My usual process for packing is out the window and while some of that is nice (I don't need to wrestle hay bales or make grain baggies or make sure I have bute and extra first aid supplies...) it's totally screwing with my ability to account for the things I still need to be accountable for.

Long story short, I think we're ready.  I took advantage of all the xtra space in the trunk and packed all my show clothes in there (I mean why not).  I'm hoping that means I can keep my luggage to one carry on bag...

My dad even rigged up a semi genius pulley system that means I can load load/unload the trunk myself... Basically he set up up so I can lift the trunk from the beam of my deck (which is over my garage) and then back the truck up and lower the trunk back down.  Independent woman!!!
well, mostly independent.  Dad wanted to supervise the first use...

I took the trunk down today, added a new bag of horse treats for Prair, a few items I still needed for lessons (like um... my saddle) and called it good.

I patted the mare on the nose and told her to keep shedding because it's about to get balmy.

Next stop, Cali-forn-i-a!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tack Review: Circuit Raised Halter

Sometimes when you open up a can of Tack Ho, you just get more than you bargained for... Or rather, my brain goes into a mode of "buy it! Buy it now!!" and it's really (really, really) hard to turn it off.

Clearly all the Thermal Prep has gone to my head as, I'm still brandishing my Visa around like someone is about to take it away (sidenote: someone should probably take it away).

I think I mentioned it, but Prair snapped her halter a couple weeks ago and since it is literally the third time she has ripped this particular halter to shreds I started looking for a new one.  I don't have an easy tack repair place that's close, and after I took in my reins (that broke last October at the show..) I was told they would be $170 to repair or $160 to replace.  Bah. 

Deflated from that particular experience I figured I would eventually gather up the energy to (once again) repair Prair's big black halter, but perhaps I should procure a replacement in the meantime.  

I have a problem in that I love big, padded, squishy halters - and I love them for everyday.  I am definitely of the mindset of "if you have something nice, use it" which is great for making sure that I actually wear my grandmother's pearls, but maybe less pragmatic in the the world of horses, and mud and breaking things...

Regardless, even though I started with a search for a good 'ol turnout halter, I quickly ended up perusing full leather replacements and after clicking back and forth and back and forth between different sites, and different models - I settled on the Circuit Plain Raised Padded Halter (not to be confused with the Circuit Padded Halter, or the Circuit Double Raised Padded Halter, both of which were contenders).  At $99.99 it came in just under the mental $100 barrier and it looked both polished, and workmanlike for everyday use.
I have relatively limited experience with Circuit's leather goods, but I do recall a girth of theirs that I had for YEARS and seemed to be a pretty darn good value.  

That said, I was impressed with the halter when it arrived.  It was a touch stiff (to be expected), but the padding was soft, the stitching was beautiful and even, the color was rich and the raised portions on the nose and crown looked lovely.

After a few cursory passes with my CWD conditioner, it softened up nicely, although it's possible that CWD stuff would make cardboard buttery soft...

I'm still waiting to affix the nameplate to the cheek before it gets taken to the barn (no rush since the new barn not only took the broken halter in for repairs, but had it back on Prair's hook in 2 days with only a $10 bill to show for it!!

All in all, I think the Circuit looks better than some $200 leather halters I have seen and worked with.  It's a great value for what it is. If I were looking for a show halter I'd consider the fancy stitch version, but I like the more plan look of the simple raised...

In terms of size, it runs a bit small.  with the nose on the last hole and the crown all the way out, it's still a tad small on Prair.  Her big black halter is huge and loosey goosey, so it's definitely a study in contrasts, but where I notice the size the most is in a (rather) short piece between the noseband and throatlatch, and a rather short/tight throatlatch.  Prair usually fits very nicely into standard Horse Size for halters and bridles, so if a horse was between sizes, I would definitely order up.  Other than that, nothing bad to say.

I'll post a pic of Prair in her new head gear after our next trip to the barn.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Prair's Filly

I don't know why I haven't posted it on here yet, but Stacy over at Behind the Bit, posted the ad for Prair's 2011 filly Real Prada.  I found out that she was on the market a couple weeks ago, but apparently totally spaced on posting anything.
Prada in 2011.. still by Prair's side
Little miss Prada wasn't ever supposed to be for sale, but we've all been in/seen the scenario where the horse you think you'll keep forever ends up moving on.  When I bought Prair, it was either Prair or the filly had to go, and lucky me I got the Big Mare.  I'm a bit surprised to see Prada for sale as she is literally everything Cocolalla has been breeding for and I would have expected them to want to get some embryos from her..

Prada was bred by the lady who I purchased Prairie from at Cocolalla Creek Sport Horses, so her daddy is one of their studs, and she certainly hit the color jackpot!
Radikal - her sire
I don't typically like a lot of color, but there's something about Prada's medicine hat and matched black/white legs that I think is pretty charming.

The little lady isn't cheap (by any stretch of the imagination) so I'm sure she'll go to a good show home.  The Boy has pleaded with me to get her but so far I'm putting my foot down.  We need to downsize not collect more..   His primary motivation is to see if they recognize each other.. I've tried to explain that of all the bad reasons to buy a horse... that might be toward the top of the list.  He also argues that it would just make sense to get a "P3."

I do love the idea of having Prair's baby, but the more logical argument is to breed her myself something (or do an ET to avoid straining her back).

If you picture her in all black, she really looks like her mama....

Friday, February 7, 2014

Pro Ride (and some video clips!)

I've been seriously remiss on getting videos posted on here but I haven't really figured out a good way to get new vids at the new barn.  But I finally snapped out of my stupor while watching N work the mare yesterday and got some phone video.  Not the best, (and not a lot) but better than nothing I suppose.

Also, it's been blazing sunshine (blazing, freezing sunshine) this week, which usually means wind, which usually means that the barn doors are closed, which left Prair illuminated in a nice shaft of sunlight coming in from her window.

She's so calm and peaceful here, I think she likes it.

floppy ears
I've been meaning to schedule a time to watch Prair get worked from the ground, but I've been so greedy about gobbling up as much saddle time as I can before the baby asks me to stop, that I haven't wanted to sacrifice a trip to the barn to spectate.

Sacrifice is hardly the right word however, as I always end up really enjoying watching Prair from the ground (I guess that bodes well for the rest of the year when I'm grounded..).  It's really valuable to watch someone else ride and work through the same issues I feel when I'm in the saddle.  Helps to get a good perspective on what the hell is going on and apply that to my own rides.

As what is quickly becoming usual, the mare was really good.  I cannot emphasize how frigging calm she's been.  This week in particular the wind has been something fierce and makes that terrifying pop-crack-snapping sound on the metal building.  It sort of sounds like massive amounts of ice cracking off a glacier - which as you can imagine sends a bunch of the horses into orbit.  Prair notices the sound, but she has yet to really react with her feet.  I tend to just feel her pop above the bit and turn a giant ear and eyeball toward the noise.  (where is this mare COMING FROM).

Amazing-Groom-to-the-Stars was just getting Prair out of her stall to tack up, but I grabbed her back and opted to tack her up myself and tke care of her quick Equiband lunging warmup before handing over the reins and watching from the middle of the ring.

N's ride looks very similar to what she has me do during our lessons (it just looks a bit smoother, a tad more relaxed and a ba-zillion times more consistent).  Lots of haunch/shoulder in, some spiraling in and out, leg yields, reversing the bend, etc.

Prair is continuing to relax more and more in her work (especially jumping) and getting comfortable (and happy) in a slower, more balanced jump.  She's more easily rocking back and fitting in extra strides and really starting to pull her shoulder up more when the fences go up.

In general N is asking her to work on less contact and get used to holding herself up without constant support.  I really like where it's going, but you'll see in the video it leaves Prair a little busy looking.

I'm very happy with all the floppy ears and quiet pace though.  I continue to be astounded at how much leg (and spur!) the mare is accepting and using to help lift her frame instead of zooming off to god knows where.

A couple quick clips.... first of some warm up trot work.  You can see some of the loft returning to her step.  I think that has more to do with the injections and getting comfortable using her back again than anything else - but regardless it's nice to see.

Finally, a short jump video.  This is really indicative of how we've been riding.  Small fences, circles in between to reestablish the quality, and very.... low... key.

It looks like we might drop down to 2'6" to start at Thermal and really try to solidify a happy, easy, experience.  I'm so curious to see how the mare responds to the atmosphere and I really don't know what to expect.  I feel like Prair has always stepped it up at previous shows, but this is a whole other caliber.  I know it will be great miles for both of us and lots of learning no matter where we end up!

This weekend is slammed, so I likely won't get to ride again until Tuesday, then N leaves Wednesday but I'll either sneak in a hack or a lesson with the assistant before getting everything all prepped to go on Friday!

Prair has officially started on both her GastroGard and her Regumate so everything should be good and happy and not too stressy for the trip.

Loving this mare right now...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gersemi Jacket Review

So, when I splurged on the Gersemi jacket and vest I really was thinking ahead to next winter. However even though we have been spared all the totally craptastic weather that the rest of the country seems to be getting hammered with, we've got a bit of a cold snap here and I used it as an excuse to bust out the new jacket for my lessons this week.

In full confession I also thought that the jacket would be primarily used for working around the barn, grooming, tacking up, etc. as I typically shed my outer layer prior to mounting up and rely on the big mare to warm me up in short order.

However, the last couple days have been in the low-mid twenties which is either balmy warm for some of you or hideously cold. For me it really just means that it's cold enough that I leave my jacket on when I ride, and in this case it was the new Dalia Jacket from Gersemi.

This may be the best cold weather riding jacket I've ever owned. I was keen on a lot of its features for the hanging-around-the-barn job I thought it would have, but I'm really impressed how well it works in the saddle.

First off, the length is optimal for me. Ideal barn jackets cover your butt which somehow keeps you about 80% warmer than hip-bone length coats. This coat hits me in the perfect spot to stay a bit toastier, but doesn't go so low that it restricts movement or is a pain when squatting down low, picking hooves or anything else you're liable to do around your horse.

Secondly, the high collar is lifesaving.

I've always enjoyed high collars. They are helpful to shrink into like a turtle when you're trying to catch a horse out in the wind, and I prefer a high collar to the bulk of a scarf when I'm at the barn. If you know me in real life you know that I adore scarves and wear them pretty much all the time in my non-horsey ventures year round, but something about them just bugs me at the barn. High Collar is preferable for me.

Said collar also does a great job of folding down in the front so you don't get everything all steamy when you're actually breathing hard, while still standing upright in the back and keeping your neck warm.

Pockets. The two flap pockets are generously sized and positioned so that when you are sitting the trot your cell phone isn't thwapping up and down obnoxiously. It's also hard to see but there are two additional slash pockets up higher for hand warming (complete with fuzzy liner).

Yesterday when I actually got on, I used the two way zip to open up the bottom of the coat a bit to allow for sitting in the saddle, but today I realized that Gersemi also built in two additional zippers on the side that each open up a 2" gusset to expand for riding. They are sewn in on a seam and the zipper is nearly hidden so they are pretty much invisible when not in use. I like that.

Finally, the overall fit is great for not looking like a total marshmallow in the saddle. The jacket is roomy enough (in a size L for me) to still have a thin pullover and vest underneath, but fitted enough that someone can still tell what the heck your body is doing under all those layers.

I guess I should also mention that the Dalia Jacket is lined with that silver-meshy stuff which is probably what helps it stay so toasty warm without too much bulk, while still keeping the whole thing darn breathable.

Today I was definitely huffing and puffing and sweating during my ride, but i suffered no post-ride-sweat-chills when I hopped off.

Honestly, for $130 (on sale), this is one of the best values on barn wear that I've gotten in a while. For being an attractive, well tailored coat, I am certainly impressed with the attention to detail that makes it so functional in the saddle.

Two big thumbs up from over here.

Closer than I think

Sometimes my brain plays tricks on me.  One of it's favorite tricks is that big-fun-events (like honeymoons or "Thermal" are always "very far away."

That is, until they aren't.

I went down for a lesson with Prair this morning and while enjoying (yet another) conversation of "gee golly wow she's learning so fast"  (Other words were used but the overall gist wasn't particularly esoteric), I mumbled the words "I can't wait to see how far she gets before Thermal."  Only to be promptly reminded that we in fact leave for the mythical show next week.

N heads down on the 12th, the horses (and myself) follow on the 14th which really means I've got... two (2??) more lessons before we all reconvene in the desert.

I really felt like I was getting my shit together until I started panicking about only having TWO LESSONS LEFT.


That's not lots.  And today we didn't even jump!!! I mean, we had a great flat session but holy moley at most I've got two more jump schools before we're supposed to look like the most Huntery-Hunters who ever Hunter-ed... or something.

On the upside, the mare really does continue to impress.  We did lots of leg yields, focusing on slowing the angle, lots of haunches in and lots of lengthening and collecting.  Today when I really tried hard to think about using as little rein as possible I nearly squealed with excitement at how much more responsive the mare is being to my seat and leg in compressing herself together.  She felt so compact and manageable!

So, I guess maybe things as set up as well as they can be with only 6 weeks of prep at the new barn.

But regardless, OMG A WEEK(ish).

Feeling a bit more like this
Than this...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gus' Great Adventure (or moving to a new barn)

Saturday it was Gus' turn to head to a new home, and although he will only be there temporarily, it was more excitement than the old man is used to so as you can imagine he.... didn't really care at all.

The Boy was a trooper and went with me to the barn to clear out my locker (which was a big mish-mash of Gus' stuff plus everything from Prairie's locker that didn't make it to the new place). You truly don't know how many saddle pads you have until your husband looks at you and asks if "this pile should go with the other two piles, or somewhere else."

I like saddle pads.  Colors are fun... and they are cheap enough it never feels like a big expenditure? Good news is we can literally carpet/wallpaper a nursery with the extra pads for cushioning if need be...

Anyway, the whole packing/organizing ordeal went much faster than expected so after we scraped off the outer layer of mud on Mister Gus, we were on the road.

One of the (many) things I love this horse for is the fact that he runs on the trailer.  He doesn't stop, he doesn't sniff, he doesn't do anything except prick his ears, charge onto the trailer and stick his head out the window wondering why we aren't on the road yet.
"why aren't we on the road yet"
Such.  A.  Gem.

Which is why I was slightly alarmed to hear some serious scrambling after being on the road for only a mile or so.

I pulled over, The Boy hopped out and took a peek and confirmed that Gus was in fact upright and on the correct side of the trailer (we no longer assume this to always be the case), but said he was shaking a bit.

Gus doesn't stress out in the trailer so when we got to a better spot I pulled over and checked on him myself.  Apparently the extra two minutes of driving was all it took for him to calm down, but I did see a couple hoof skid marks on the mats so I'm thinking he slipped a little?  No dents or bangs or bodily damage so I patted him on the nose, moved his haybag a little closer (Gus' preferred mode of travel is to sit on the buttbar) and we hit the road.

90 minutes later we pulled into D's place.  Not knowing if she was in the house or in the barn, I opened Gus' window and went off searching.

Great Gus Quality #345:  Stands in trailer while you forget all about him and gossip/catch up/pat noses of other ponies.

When we finally remembered who the star of the day was, we went back to the trailer where Gus was still happily looking out his window and slowly munching hay.

He unloaded like the good boy he is, ate some grass and walked to his new stall totally calm and happy.

Pia on the other hand was none too pleased that someone else was getting attention.  While Gus sat calmly in his stall, the Red Mare proceeded to become more and more agitated (maybe because he was ignoring her?) and threw a bit of a fit.

nose intrusion
Small fit aside, she looks great.  She's kept her weight really nicely this winter and is behaving herself.

Anyway, Gus is joining the herd temporarily.  Since D's own horses have shifted a bit that leaves Pia, another wb mare who she has fallen madly in love with, a charming Haffie gelding and Mr. Gus.

Quite the entertaining bunch.
couldn't take a picture without someone's nose in my face
Gus nose-blocking my shot of the barn...
Finally out of nose range

After a nice dinner out, more catching up and a final check on the ponies, The Boy and I headed back home and literally rolled into bed at 8:45pm (I swear to god it felt like 2am).

I woke up to a series of great texts saying the Gus had a quiet night (slept, drank, ate lots) and had already located the muddiest spot in the pasture to roll in (why do I even wash his blankets..).
Mr Man enjoying his new turf
I probably won't get to go visit again before Thermal, but I'm hoping to squeeze in a trail ride with the big guy before he moves back down here in April.  D's place backs up into all sorts of logging roads and trails and I'd love to get out for a nice spring hack.
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