Posted in Riding/Horses

Breach of Etiquette Makes My Blood Boil

I shouldn’t be allowed out of the house. It just pisses me off.

My mom offered up to watch the kiddo so we could go ride. I wasn’t going to pass an offer like that up, so Dusty and I loaded up and hit the trails on the 4th. Any trail time is good, but on a typical work day? Even better.

We go ride again. Ok.

Turns out we weren’t the only ones trying to beat the heat and get a ride in before the festivities began and we pulled into an already teaming parking lot. Of course, it wouldn’t have been so bad if people actually parked with any thought outside of themselves. It was a bad omen for the rest of the day when we saw several way too large rigs pulled in diagnonally taking up multiple spaces and making the trail head a maze.

Dusty told me not to let it ruin my day, a bad habit I have of letting things like this get to me. So I did.

A gorgeous day to be out on trail

We headed out to repeat the same loop we did a couple of weeks ago. The footing was even better and we made good time when we could before Pete got tired and asked to start walking more. The big old guy is starting to wonder why he was pulled out of retirement.

Things were going well until we came to an access road. We were walking along due to the gravel footing and I just happened to look behind me and saw a woman running. She showed no signs of slowing and never called out that she was coming up behind us. Had I not looked back I wouldn’t have known she was there until she spooked the crap out of the horses.

When she nearly ran smack into Pete’s butt she turned and called her off leash dog to her. I won’t even get into my complete hatred of dogs and horses mixing here because that would take a while, but this woman didn’t even apologize. Instead she stood right next to us shrieking for her loose dog and then proceeded to take off running again once he was in sight behind her. She was darn lucky our horses are both idiot and dog proof or they could have had some serious injuries from getting trampled or kicked.

The only time the extremely affable Pete gets upset is when Gem gets even a hair ahead of him on trail. I love that I caught his glare while taking my favorite shadow picture

From there it went down hill although we still enjoyed the ride immensely and the horses were most excellent. Pete handled the terrain better than last time although I think he was a bit foot sore with all the rain making his dinner plate hooves soft.

There had been a deer up ahead in the large field

The trail has two road crossings at the end and both can be a bit hairy as cars tend to go flying down the country road. We came to the second one and saw a large group of six riders on the other side immobile. We paused on our side and watched for a little bit but the group were just chit chatting and effectively blocking the entire trail on the other side making crossing the road impossible. Our side wasn’t safe for just chilling out at: a small clearing right at the road without any shoulder and with a deep ditch on either side. We were growing restless and needed to cross but no amount of nicely asking them to move away from the road was producing results.

We did a lot more trotting which Pete handled very well. A few more times out and he may get in shape yet

Dusty hates confrontation and while I don’t go looking for it, well depending on who you talk to, I won’t back away either and started ramping up to tell them they had until we crossed to move or get bowled over. Dusty asked me not to make a scene and fortunately for him they deemed it time to move right about then any way.

At this point I was a bit tired of dealing with stupid, rude and self absorbed people. We ended up back at the trailer with two very sweaty and hot horses and stripped tack quickly to go use the single hose available. We walked over to find three of those same ladies already there. We settled in to wait for our turn while the horses enjoyed grazing.

Hot and sweaty at the end of the ride

I was doing just fine until the remaining three from their group came walking over and completely cut us off. I glared. Dusty asked me to bite my tongue. I was doing pretty well with that until the one lady looked at me and said “sorry our group of six got here before you” in a condescending not really sorry and making me really angry type of way. My mouth dropped to the floor. “Um…no your group of three were here first. The rest of you cut us off by some sort of group association and should actually be behind us in line” Dusty groaned but the woman just turned away.

The ever patient Dusty losing it a bit

So there we were waiting our turn behind six horses at the hose on an extremely hot morning. If I had been at the hose, I would have watered my horse quickly and efficiently so that everyone got cooled off quickly. Nope. These ladies held their beer in one hand, the hose in the other and talked, washed off their boots and girths before their horse and in general didn’t give a flying crap about anyone but themselves. I was seething mad by the time the last horse was being led away.

Except that wasn’t even the end because they didn’t actually move away from the hose area and I had to plow my way through telling them that they will be lucky not to be kicked if they continued to stand in my path. Rude people make me want to teach Gem to kick on command.

It was bad enough that my very non confrontational, much easier going then myself, husband even made comments. That’s a rarity. As we sprayed our two off we noted that these same people were the ones who parked diagonally across multiple spots making an already busy parking lot near impossible to either park or drive in. Shocking.

Trail etiquette people. It’s important. Or you know, just don’t be an asshat when out in public. That works too.

Horses are better than people
Posted in Friday Five

Friday Five: Ways I Organized My Trailer

Gem’s limo is a 2011 Eclipse two horse straight load. We researched the crap out of trailers comparing them to our needs and wants and this trailer fit the bill perfectly. We bought it new at a horse expo and got a great price. Since then it has travelled to dozens of trail heads, hauled the horses from WI to SC and been to every endurance/ride and tie/hunter pace/whatever else I’ve dragged Gem to in then name of friendly competition and has been great. 

As always though, more organization helps and so over time we have added some small modifications that have had big impacts on the function of the trailer. Here are my top five small, extremely easy to do, projects:

5) More tie rings. Lessons are always learned the hard way it seems. At a ride and tie event a couple years ago, Gem pulled back at the trailer for the first and only time I’ve had her. She broke the tie ring and unfortunately the hag bag, connected to the same tie ring as she was, came flying with her which made a bad situation worse. It all ended fine, but I immediately ordered new tie rings and added a second one above the original on each side to attach the hay bag to. We then also added tie rings to the very back. This was done due to the hunter paces where they cram trailers in so close that it is nearly impossible to tack up. Having the ability to tie her out the back gives me plenty of safe options

4) Bungee cords for the buckets.  I have a bucket issue. I own, and I recently counted so this number is accurate, 21 buckets. Every time I’m at the feed store I buy a new bucket. The husband is not happy about this but I keep telling him you can’t have too many and besides it could always be worse. At least buckets are cheap. I could have a saddle buying problem instead. 

Anyway…. with all the buckets I needed a way to contain them so they weren’t flying all over the place. Two simple bungee cords holding them to the spare tire helps keep the ever growing tower stable. 

Not even half my total bucket collection. You just never know when you will need one. Or twelve.

3) Hanging my saddle rack. This saddle rack is one of my favorite accessories. It folds neatly for storage and when unfolded has a neat spot for the saddle/pad, a hook for the bridle and a basket for grooming supplies. Bonus: wheels for easy toting around ride camp or show barn. I don’t like things on my trailer floor, so we added a simple bracket and carabiner to hang the whole thing out of the way 

2) Hanging bag for all the things. Pretty much every boarding situation we found ourselves in had us living out of the trailer and with the horses home and no barn it’s now the tack room. I was at a loss at first with all the extra, but non essential items like their blankets, coolers, extra saddle pads, extra girth etc. 

I found this blanket bag that is supposed to be for horse shows and knew I had stumbled on the solution. We attached it to the trailer wall and it now holds everything out of the way and keeps it all clean. Right now it has our three winter blankets, Gem’s cooler, my two endurance mohair girths, a cantle bag and my spare endurance reins. It holds so many items and leaves the area free for every day use items. 

1) Hanging groom tote. I love this thing and can’t remember how I functioned without it. All my grooming supplies hang on the door for easy access. I can’t believe how much this holds: riding and hoof trimming gloves, no thrush powder, body glide to keep her skin happy, curries and brushes, ear bonnets, hoof pick, electrolyte syringes, sweat scraper, sponge, hair bands, shampoo, conditioner, fly spray, tail comb, leather hole punch, scissors, belly balm and desirin, quick braid spray, people bug spray, her body wash and then in the Velcro attached zip ouch I keep their coggins and health certificates. I attach my half chaos on one side and typically my bit for the endurance bridle on the other. It still isn’t full!

Posted in Product Review

Product Review: Shoofly Leggings

I wrote last month about needing to solve my fly problem. It’s too late to release fly predators and fly spray is only lasting 24-48 hours. Plus a part of me dies every time I coat my horse in chemicals while doing my best not to breathe it all in.

My first thought was to purchase fly sheets, but the high heat and humidity around here made me hesitate. I don’t need my horses to get heat stroke. Then I stumbled upon the Shoofly Leggings and noticed a local friend was using them. She had nothing but good things to say, so I bit the bullet and ordered two sets.

I found mine at Jeffers for $49 a set which includes four leggings. I ordered a medium for Gem (15h, 950lbs) and a large for Pete (16h, 1200 lbs). The website gives recommendations based on horse size and also provides a size chart with exact measurements for those more motivated than I am.

The blue large was in stock and arrived about 5 days later. The orange mediums were on back order and ended up arriving the day after the other set, so not so bad. I got free shipping by adding in a lovely black dressage pad ($18 which was more than shipping would have been, but shhh…wife math) with cool max lining that I’ve been wanting.

So what are they?

Shoofly Leggings are PVC mesh, loose fitting fly boots. They have Velcro to attach along the entire vertical edge and fleece lining the bottom. They are meant to be open at the top to allow air flow, freedom of movement and prevent rubs. They have no chemicals in them.

Performance and durability?

They ended up fitting perfectly with plenty of room for error too. Our horses are out 24/7 and they wore them for the last two weeks straight with a break for riding only.  During that time they rolled, galloped around like idiots, stood in the pouring rain and played in puddles.

Not a single legging came off or loose the entire time and when we took them off, while they were filthy dirty and the white fleece was brown instead, they didn’t have a single tear or rip. The Velcro was just as sticky coated in mud as it was when brand new.

We will see what shape they are in after the entire season, but they stood up to nearly everything possible in the first few weeks of wear and still looked brand new after a hose down.

As for the horses, they had no rubs whatsoever.

Do they work?



It appears so even if I did break my horses in the process. From the moment they went on, the stomping ceased entirely. Of course these do nothing for flies on their body or head, but the non stop stomping that was occurring even with fly spray finally let up. I was impressed.

Any cons?

Of course! The biggest and really only thing I don’t like is the fleece on the bottom. White anything is just not a good idea around horses and they quickly became brown. I don’t care what they look like as long as they function, but a color other than white would be better.

In addition, the fleece caked in the mud and rain and became hard and rigid instead of the soft and pliable material you would want around the horse flesh. It came clean with the hose, but who wants to hose them off after every rain storm that blows through? If they changed it to a different material all together, it would be perfect.

I’d recommend them to anyone having to fight the stomping of their horse. They are easy to put on and take off with just one strip of Velcro and have held up in the short term perfectly. Shop around to find them. Jeffers was the lowest price I could find when I was shopping.

Posted in Riding/Horses

2017 Pony Club IPE One Day Event

Trainer enlisted my help as a jump judge for Sunday. The teams scrambled to make four teams of five kids (one from each country) and got a chance to ride their new horses for one hour on Saturday. I’m amazed at these riders. Brand new to them horses and they only had an hour to get acquainted.

The weather was so much better for Sunday. Sunny and low 90s with a cool breeze. The riders all come from countries that are deep in winter so they might not have been so happy with our southern heat and humidity.

Sunday was the first competitive event as each team geared up for dressage followed by a derby type round with four stadium fences followed immediately by eleven cross country jumps. The riders from Hong Kong had never been cross country before. They only ever ride in an arena. So different than here in the US and I was sad I didn’t get a chance to talk to them about how they board and care for their horses.

I was put in charge of the up bank at 13 and the palisade at 14 and thankfully all riders were clear through both. In fact pretty much all riders had clear rounds with only two falls on course and two refusals out of 20 runs. Pretty impressive for only just meeting their horse the day before!

The up bank at 13 had an uphill approach into the shade.
Then they continued uphill with a right hand turn over 14. The horses sounded tired at this point as it was a course of either going up or down a hill but everyone jumped clean

I was so glad I got another chance to participate and help out. Everyone was so gracious about getting to ride and compete someone else’s horse and they all seemed to have a good time.

While jump 14 looked big and intimidating to me, not a single horse backed off. After this they had a very long uphill Gallop to the final fence at 15
I could also see jump 12 which seemed like an inviting enough jump. It came after a long downhill run and then cut sharp left uphill to my two
Such a gorgeous day.
Coming up the bank in the shade.
The view I had of riders leaving the water at jump 9

The rest of the week will be jammed with fun, local activities for the riders including a trip to an amusement park, kayaking and zip lining on the Green River, Tryon Horse Country tour, and a fun night at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (home of the AECs last year and WEG in 2018) until their last weekend which will host the Kangaroo Cup, a 3′ jumper show. I am hoping to make it to the jumper show as well and hope they all have a great week.

Posted in Riding/Horses

2017 Pony Club InterPacific Exchange

Sometimes you just get really lucky in life. I’m still grinning from Friday and know that my chance of ever getting to do something like this again in my life is slim to none.

Every two years Pony Clubs around the world put together a team of elite young riders to travel to a host country and compete. There are five countries involved: US, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand. The host country rotates so that each one hosts every 10 years.

Not only is 2017 an InterPacific year, but it is a year for the US to host. To make the stars align even more, Trainer, who has been the US team coach the last four competitions, stepped aside as coach this year and instead got wrangled into the position of organizer. This means that not only is the US hosting, but it is being hosted at the barn I train at.

Told you this would never align again like this.

The thing about the IPE is that the host country needs to provide the horses for the entire event which lasts nearly two weeks. This year the riders landed in SC on the 28th and the first riding event was a fun games day and trail ride on Friday the 30th. Apparently the riders from Hong Kong had zero access to any riding outside an arena, so getting them out on trail was a big priority for Trainer.

Once the schedule was set, poor Trainer had the stressful job of gathering up over 30 horses for the day. When she asked if Gem could be used I jumped on the opportunity. Words fail me to express how amazing I think this entire thing is. Getting young riders out into the world, seeing how things go in other cultures, making new friends, and riding local horses? I’m jealous I never knew this even existed when I was young enough to participate.

I closed my office on Friday and blocked my  surgery schedule. I think I was more excited to do this than any event where I rode my horse! Gem and I pulled into the barn around 745am and I got her settled into a stall for the morning. The forecast was ugly. A major storm was supposed to crash down on us at any moment, but the excitement of all the riders made it feel like the sun was shining all morning.

Gem being a great traveler as always. What do you do when dropped into a new situation with no clue what will be expected of you? Eat of course!

The riders got to choose what horse they wanted for the day. I know Gem looks a little plain next to all the fancy paint horses and tall, lean TBs so I worried nobody would really want her. A lovely girl from Australia stopped by and asked if she could ride her. I was so happy she wasn’t the last one picked in gym class!

Go Team Australia! Gem’s head looks very Arabian in this picture
Getting to know each other. As an aside, Gem looks fantastic in her new black pad. I am becoming more plain as the days go by. 

I tacked her up in her jump gear and told the young rider, who was B rated in Pony Club which basically means she rides better than I likely ever will, that she could do anything she liked. There was nothing she could do to Gem to break her that I haven’t already tried.

The rain started coming down right as everyone wandered to the arena for the games, but since it is winter back at their home a warm summer rain wasn’t going to spoil their fun.

Super glad for my Kerits long riding rain coat

The first game was pole bending and I got to watch the practice run. The girl started trotting but soon got Gem flying at the canter and Gem was game on. She was even doing flying lead changes between the poles! Trainer laughed saying maybe I was persuing the wrong discipline with her.

Unfortunately, I missed the actual competitive round as I got wrangled to be interviewed by the local news station as an owner. I have zero intention of watching that horror show on TV. I’m just hoping they worked some magical editing skills to make me not look like a complete moron. Apparently though Gem did amazing. Trainer laughed again saying that this is the perfect example of a task based activity and how well Gem does when she gets the point. Sigh. Maybe I need to buy some blingy shirts and cowboy boots?

Charlie the Belgian was a big hit. It was hilarious watching him do the games and his poor rider could barely reach the flags and cups. It was hilarious and by the end everyone was in love with him
What’s more American than a paint mule?

After that they played with a flag race, some cup stuff and spent about an hour and a half just having fun. Gem did amazing. I can’t stress enough how proud I am of her. Even in the torrential downpour, she stood quietly waiting her turn and was game on when asked. Trainer even mentioned how competitive she is and it is true. Gem hates conditioning/training but adores competition.

All the horses did so well. Most of these were either pasture puffs or event horses so having them all do gymkhana games was great. 

When all the games were finished, they took a short break and talked about the poker ride that was up next. I’m sure most people know what that is, but basically you go on trail and pick up cards along the way to make a poker hand. The team with the best hand wins.

They asked if I’d mind standing in the rain forest to hand out a card and so I missed most of the action. I did get to see Gem as she rode by me and the girl had a huge smile on her face. She was gushing about how awesome Gem had been for her and said her friends were jealous! Made my heart melt to hear.

Trainer lent me her car to wait in until the riders started coming by. It was pouring the entire time and I was a little sad to leave it to go stand in the woods

After that it was time to untack and eat lunch. My rider gave me a special pin from her home Pony Club as a thank you. She told me that she had never ridden a horse who could trot so fast. In the games she would ask for more speed and Gem would just up her trotting. She did get her to canter a lot too, but she said her trot was so fast she didn’t need to canter. On trail, she could tell Gem wanted to trot and not walk so she let her. She apparently even took her over a down bank and a small roll top! She said Gem was hesitant but once she put her leg on and told her she really did want her to go, she popped over no issue. Sounds about right.


All too soon lunch was over and it was time to load up and go home. I wished her luck the rest of the week. This weekend is the first real competition with a CT that’s set up for BN with dressage then cross country and then next weekend is a 3′ jumper show for them. I was asked to jump judge on Sunday so I told her I’d be rooting for her.

The ground was dry when I pulled in at 745 am. This was at 12 pm when I was leaving. Lots of rain!

I felt really lucky to be involved in this. Every rider was thankful and excited to be there and learn all they could about riding in the US. Maybe some day Wyatt will get into it and be on the team.

The pin she gave me. 
Posted in Friday Five

Friday Five: Tack Wish List

With a limited budget I tend towards the practical and generic. One piece of tack has to pull double duty for schooling and schooling shows and generally also has to work for both dressage and jumping until I can slowly build up the collection. That doesn’t mean I don’t have champagne taste though! Here are the five things I would love to have in my tack room:

5.)  Custom brow band. Words can’t express how much I love my custom brow band that Karen made for my trail/endurance bridle. It is pure perfection. I’m pretty picky and not really flashy in the blingy beads sort of way. The ones from Freedman’s are glorious though. This is my favorite, but at $95 for a brow band it is not likely to happen any time soon.

Taken from the Freedman website. My dream one would have thin tapered ends, black patent background, large white dots and red trim. Swoon 🙂

4.) Majyke Equip Cross Country boots. Gem has had naked legs the entire time I have had her. Boots just aren’t used very much in endurance. I talked to Trainer about her leg protection needs and she said that she would recommend them for cross country, but that we did not need them for our level of stadium. I hate neoprene and so does Gem, so any boot with neoprene is out and I also don’t like the idea of memory foam. These boots have gotten rave reviews and come in red!

From the Majyke Equip website. Red. All the red.

3.) Mattes Couture All Purpose Saddle Pad. My precious! Oh you gorgeous thing you! Soft, fluffy sheepskin, colors galore and the cut out shape. It says it is all purpose, but I would use it under my jump saddle. With so many options for quilt, sheepskin, piping and binding colors I’d have to spend some serious time thinking about what exactly I would want.

Picture from the Dover website linked to above. I would likely pick red quilt, black sheepskin and red piping but could go the other way and do black quilting with red piping and red sheepskin. Oh my! I have shivers just thinking about it. 

 2.) 4 point breast collar. Gem is nearly impossible to fit in a more traditional style breast collar. The chest strap running to the girth is always too long. In order for it to fit it needs to be so ridiculously short that it makes it all fit weird. The ones without that strap seem harder to find. Lund Saddlery makes a lovely one although if I am seeing it correctly it only comes with navy and that is just not my color. I haven’t found the perfect one just yet, so no picture.

1.) EcoGold Flip Dressage Half Pad. My dressage saddle is just a titch wider than I’d like, but not so much as to create an issue. It leaves the perfect amount of room for a half pad to help take some of the shock out of the ride.  While my favorite material for Gem is sheepskin, I don’t see the point in using it when there is another pad underneath it that actually touches her skin. This pad has a lot of features I really like, plus it has two sides – hence the flip. This means that I could have red and black on one side for schooling and then use the white side up for shows. $250 is a bit much for me right now on something I don’t actually need, so it will stay on my wish list.

Taken from the EcoGold website. red and black on one side then flip it to white for shows. My only concern would be how white the white would stay if used on the underside for schooling.
Posted in 2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar Reading Challenge Book #25

The broader prompts have been much more interesting during this challenge and this one was no exception. I really need to ask my mom what her selection process is as I believe it is very different than mine.

A book written by an author from a country you have never visited – The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Oscar de Leon is a Dominican American living in New York with his mother and sister. His father had run out years before never to return and his mother is an ever present dictator in the family. Oscar himself is an outcast: obese, nerdy before it was hip, and longing for love and sex. He spends his time worrying that he will die a virgin and casts detailed love fantasies on every girl he chances to meet when he is not feverishly writing fantasy and sci-fi novels in his room. When his heart gets broken time and again he falls into a deep depression.

The novel follows the life of Oscar from childhood to early adulthood as he seeks to find his place in the world and to find love. Along the way, the reader is introduced to his family history, one that is filled with bad choices and violence. Will Oscar be able to break the family curse or will he succumb to it himself?

The novel takes place spanning a time from the early 1970s through the mid 1990s and introduces the reader to the de Leon family both in their origins in the Dominican Republic as well as in the US. The family believes in an old curse which they have named Fuku and which began with his grandfather in the times of the Trujillo dictatorship. 

While the novel is about Oscar, it is mostly written from a hidden narrator’s point of view except for a chapter from his sister, Lola. It is revealed half way through that the narrator is his sister’s boyfriend, Yunior who is writing the novel to make amends to the family for the wrongs he feels he has committed in his friendship with Oscar. 

The book is compelling although difficult to read with the randomly thrown in words and phrases in Spanish. In addition, the author uses multiple modern science fiction/pop culture references to move the story along. He frequently quotes Lord of the Rings, The Matrix and various superheroes as well as some more obscure characters that I was unfamiliar with. 

The characters themselves are well defined and rounded with full glimpses into their personalities and motivations. The chapters that go back into the family past help to enlighten the reader on how each character became who they were. 

I’m not well schooled on Dominican customs and traditions, so I can only go on what the author has served up in regards to the behaviors of those in the novel. Part of me felt a little betrayed by the author. As if he was leading me to believe unfavorable stereotypes and generalizations as truth. My own background offers nothing to counter what he writes, but it would be interesting to speak with someone of that cultural background to get their take on how the culture is being portrayed. 

The overall theme is about past curses and what we can do to break them. Oscar suffers depression and has no family help to solve his issues and break out of his cycles of self harm. In the end, Oscar is his own worst enemy and causes his downfall which mimics, a little too closely, part of his mother’s past. 

In the end, while I do not know how Oscar’s life could be called wondrous, the book is captivating and well worth the read.