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NaBloPoMo Day 17: My Equestrian Idol

So…I don’t really have one. I’m not one to idolize much of anything and I’m certainly not a celebrity follower for any reason.

However there are a few people I really admire. One of those is my Trainer. She may not be riding around Rolex but she deserves all the accolades in the world for putting up with Gem and me.

Trainer’s entire philosophy regarding horses and training is rooted in a deep understanding of what a horse actually is and what it is we are trying to ask it to do. Everything she asks me to do is explained not only in regards to the how to do it, but also the why which I find very important in my overall understanding and execution. She never drills and she never pushes past the point of being able to learn.

What I admire the most though is her flexibility. Gem and I aren’t your typical pair and when something isn’t clicking or going well, Trainer always has something else up her sleeve to approach the problem in a different way and yet still get to the same outcome. Sure there have been less than stellar lessons throughout the last year, but all in all we keep steadily making progress towards our own nebulous goals.

Outside of her training methods, her management ideals line up with mine very closely. Her horses get to live outside except for in the worst weather, she doesn’t remove all their whiskers, ear and leg hair, she believes in a forage based diet and her horses show this off by being exceptionally healthy beasts.

Beyond even that, Trainer is the nicest person I have ever met. She has never gotten angry or flustered with Gem’s antics and my lack of ability to deal with it. My scared nature doesn’t annoy her (at least not outwardly) and she handles Wyatt’s lessons well too. When KC went cross country schooling with me and Pilgrim lost his show, Trainer didn’t hesitate to jump in her car and drive over to the h/j show to flag down a random farrier all while our time was whittling away and then she proceeded to still send 2 hours on the course with us and only charged $60 for the entire 3 hour ordeal! I don’t know anyone else who would have gone above and beyond like that for a one time client that she will likely never see again.

Is she my idol? No, but I sure would love to be more like her when I grow up and I am so very glad I met her last year.

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NaBloPoMo Day Day 16: My Favorite Equine Memory

September 1998. My Aunt and Uncle used some sort of magic to convince my mom and dad to let me miss an entire week of school for a trip. I had never been allowed to miss even a singe day unless I was super sick, so I have no clue how on earth they managed it. Regardless, I found myself in the back seat of my Uncle’s F350 dually with the horse trailer and three horses being pulled behind as we headed towards Acadia National Park in Maine.

It was a trip of a lifetime.

18 long hours of hauling later we arrived at the barn where they had rented three stalls for the next 5 days and then we headed to our rental in the woods only a few miles away. The house was massive with 4 stories. I still remember the A frame construction, the kitchen being on the second floor and my own room on the 4th up a winding metal stair case. We were sharing it with a boyfriend/girlfriend couple who brought mountain bikes and a husband/wife team who brought their own horses, both couples were friends with my Aunt and Uncle and we rarely saw them the entire week.

Each morning we would wake up before the sun did and head to the barn. Most days we would not return until the sun had set again. The trails were perfection too. Wide open ancient carriage trails built by the Rockefeller family that wound around pristine lakes the color or turquoise, ran along ridge lines and dipped into valleys. Our rides were a mix of walking, cantering and long racing gallops. I wish now that I had a Garmin back then. I know we had to cover close to 250 miles that week.

A couple of days we either started or ended late. One day was spent up on Cadillac Mountain watching the sun rise. It is the first place the sun touches in the US each morning. The other day we ended early and went into Bar Harbor. Here my Uncle had bought us tickets to ride a glider plane. We barely squeezed inside the tiny cockpit and at first I thought about bailing. However soon we were soaring high tethered to the plane that would eventually let us go. When it did, my heart skipped a beat but our pilot knew his job and soared our engineless plane safely back to the ground after about an hour floating high above.

After that we went to a local seafood restaurant where I experienced my first lobster fresh from the ocean.

The entire trip was like a dream. A great horse under me, beautiful scenery and the love of my Aunt and Uncle. It is a trip I won’t ever forget.

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NaBloPoMo Day 15: If I Could Speak to Any Horse What Would I Say?

Halfway through the month! These have been fun.

I’m going to assume this means that the horse could speak back. Otherwise, I already speak to Gem constantly. I’m sure she’d like to tell me to shut the heck up.

I don’t follow any celebrity type horses. Or people. In fact anyone who attempts to name drop on me, both in my professional and personal life, is often left disappointed as I know nobody and could care less.

That basically means I’d talk to Gem. The first thing I’d ask her is what on earth she enjoys doing because for the life of me I can’t figure it out. She hated being retired for the few months when Wyatt was itty bitty and it was negative a million degrees in WI and I couldn’t get to the barn. Retirement isn’t her thing. Endurance she liked as long as it was at a race, but conditioning was always a chore she made me slightly dread.

Not the face of a happy mare although this was after our maze lesson which she was enjoying thoroughly, so I don’t know

And your guess is as good as mine if she likes her new gig. Some days when she takes a half an hour to catch I think that she hates it. Others she seems happy and Trainer says she looks like she is having fun so who knows.

So yeah. I’d ask Gem what it was she enjoyed doing so I could focus on that.

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NaBloPoMo Day 14: My Dream Farm

Oh…how painful this topic is!!! If you missed the post The Story of a Dream, it was a decent one and really goes into depth my dream of owning my own farm and what that entails. I don’t want to just re-write that here, so I’ll take this a slightly different direction.

If I were to build my dream farm, what would that look like? First and foremost it would be private and peaceful. From any point on my property I would not want to see a single building, person, road, vehicle or animal that I didn’t own. My bubble would be bullet proof.

famr layout
This layout is pretty much what I’d do with land with some modifications. Ignore the bridge to the right, replace the corral/tank/shelter with the barn and add an arena. Done.

All fencing would allow 10-12′ of cleated riding and mowing space to allow for a galloping lane where I could place logs or rail road ties for cross country style jumps. I really like the idea of incorporating coop style fences into the fence line as well. All fencing would be wood.

This style, but wood

The barn itself would be a simple one story design with 8 stalls on one side and a temperature controlled tack room, feed room, hot and cold wash rack and hay storage on the other. All stalls would have dutch style doors looking outside. On the outside it would have an overhang to act as shelter for the horses while the rest would be closed. Nothing too fancy or hard to keep up, but nice and airy.

I found this online and how cool is that? These are for hanging blankets to keep them clean and out of the way when not in use.  

My arena would be another story. It would be large. As big as I could possible make it. Lights are a necessity when you work full time during the day. If we are talking dreams here, might as well put a cover on it. I don’t want a indoor as it would get way too hot all summer, but a cover to keep the rain off would be nice.

I’ll take one of these two please! I like the board fence versus solid wall around the exterior for air flow. 

That’s about it I suppose. Functional but nice. Lots of room, solid mature grass in the pastures and lights to ride by at night. Am I asking too much? Apparently 😦

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NaBloPoMo Day 13: A Video of Me Riding

Let’s use this as a good excuse for a comparison!

This first video is from the CT in June where I entered Gem in the amoeba division with Intro test B and 18″ fences. It was my first ever horse show and my nerves were raging. Gem had put down a tense, but respectable dressage test and now we were entering the jump arena. All in all it went pretty good. We went clear around the wide open course at nearly a walk. She walked over at least three of the jumps, but they were flashy jumps and I was just proud we finished. We finished 4th out of 9.

The next video is from the 18″ round we just did. Personally, I think there were some areas of improvement and some where we got worse.

We did speed it up a bit and she got to canter between some of the fences, but the general picture looks more tense on both our parts and less put together. While my jumping warm up was the same for both, check brakes and hop over a cross rail a couple of times, she didn’t get the entire dressage warm up at the jumper show and maybe that played into the tenseness a bit. The atmosphere was a lot more charged too. There were a ton of people at the h/j show with lots of crowds waiting by the gate versus the much more open and relaxed vibe of the CT.

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NaBloPoMo Day 12: Favorite Horse Color

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Bay. Black points. Small star. No other white. Basically, my Gemmiecakes.

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Dusty says it is boring, but I love a shiny bay butt with some back points. White annoys me solely because it is impossible to keep clean here in the red clay world of the southeast and I am nothing if not a keep it simple, low key horse owner. My horse lives outside, gets to keep all her hair and maybe gets a blanket thrown on a few times a year. I make sure to groom her before every ride, but the dark coat goes a long way to help hide a lot of dirt.

Having said that, color is my least important factor in purchasing a horse, so who knows. I may find myself owning a palomino (my least favorite color) some day. Stranger things have happened.

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NaBloPoMo Day 11: Find a Horse Online I Would Want to Buy

With Gem nearing 20 years old (will the mare ever calm down!?!?!) the thought of my next partner is always lurking in the back of my mind. Gem was purchased off a single line, no picture ad that read “Bay Arab mare 10 years old” Yup, that was smart. My next horse will be more heavily researched, trialed and trainer approved. And while my next purchase is several years off, it doesn’t stop me from drooling over the flood of horses always on my FB timeline from various local horse groups. There is a slew of horses always for sale although most are over priced, under trained or OTTBs. None of which I am looking for.

Then one day I spied this farm. Somehow they got shared on the SC page even though they are up in PA. I’m sure Trainer would give me a very quick NO on any of these beauties, but I don’t care. I want them ALL. Now please! Thank you very much.  They specialize in driving and riding horses with a lot of draft crosses and purebred Dutch Harness horses.

My favorite is already sold, but I want to take a minute to drool over Porter again because wow….

Porter’s ad. I don’t want to steal any pictures, so click on the link to see it.

Of the currently available horses, I’d say my favorite is Cooper. He does it all, is much more reasonably sized at 15.3 and if I pretended really hard I could maybe, possibly consider affording him.

This farm is on my short list of places to look at once I am truly in the market. They seem to produce well rounded horses that are at home out on the trail and in the arena with solid brains and good conformation. Only a few years until I can shop for real!