Thursday, September 29, 2011

Twin Tiers Horse Events Oct. 1 - 2, 2011

This fall weather also means that many regular horse organizations are closing out their seasons, but there is still plenty to do this weekend.  Take a look!

Oct. 1: High Standard Stables, Open Horse Show Series
Starts at 9 am, Dansville, NY.
For details:
go to or contact Amy Becker at (585) 905-9955 or

Oct. 2: GVRDC Pumpkin Derby - Hideaway Farm.
Help is always needed during the show too.
For details:
Jim or Farley Wagner at 585-924-1866 or

Oct 1 National Barrel Horse Association Event
For details: Fisher Equestrian Center
114 Cotton Hollow Rd
Sayre, PA, 18840
$750 Minimum Added

Oct. 2: Sweet Water Farm Ride the Trail to the Cure
Route 492
, PA 18847
Riders will be riding to support the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC)
Sponsored by Riding Every Stride 4H Horse & Pony Club
Costs: $20 to ride and $5 for t-shirt.
There will also be a chicken BBQ dinner after the trail ride for $10.00.
Reserve for ride/shirt/dinner by 9/24!
Many of us are affected by breast cancer, whether it is a wife, a mother, a sister or a friend who has survived or lost the battle.
Join us in riding a trail to a cure!
For details: (570)983-6553

Sept. 29 – Oct. 2: Autumn In New York Horse Show
Coliseum, NYS Fairgrounds
09/29/2011, 09/30/2011, 10/01/2011, 10/02/2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Easy Work for Stormkite

My mother asked, “How’s your little guy doing?”

She was referring to Stormkite, our sole gelding.  I told her he was doing well, eating lots of grass, starting riots among the mares.   But I admitted I hadn’t worked with him much, and he was due for some serious training-type attention.

“You’re neglecting him,” she said sternly.

So, Mom, this one’s for you.  Tonight, the little tub got a nice grooming, then we took a walk through the obstacle course.   Three years old, he seemed to enjoy himself and took on the obstacles with confidence.
Polished up for Grandma

The tires again!

Why do we need a bridge to connect the grass to the grass?

Hey! Don't I usually eat this stuff?

Can we do something harder?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Challenges

Last night I wanted to ride Starlight again, but I had ridden her pretty hard the previous night and, if she’s anything like me, she might have been a bit sore in her muscles.

So I tacked her up and experimented on our newly created (but far from completed) obstacle course. 

After a bit of a hissy about the tires (I agree -- they are the creepiest obstacle so far), she was perfect.  The obstacles include a “bridge,” tires,  four logs set in a line, a tiny crossrail and two small round bales put together end-to-end to form a jump.  I also hung up my blue slicker coat to pick up while mounted, but we forgot to practice that, by mistake.

Here are some shots that my very patient husband took for us. 

OK, have to say: What the heck is that stupid head angle of mine?  What in my brain makes me think I should tip my chin up while riding?  That has to go.   I hope you can excuse this, and enjoy the pictures anyway!
Almost a jump!

No problemo on the bridge.

Over the logs.  Grass is too high to see them.

The creepy tires.  We inherited that pile when we bought the house.  Putting a few to use, anyway!  The rest will go. Tires, anyone?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Twin Tier Horse Events, Sept. 21 - 25, 2011

This week brings lots of fun events to ride in or go watch, horse lovers!  Have fun. 

Sept 22: Carriage House Sunset Dressage
Do you want to school your horse for a dressage test, get him used to a mobile judge stand, flowers, microphone and other scary things?
$20 for two tests, $5 for additional tests. Call Sunday before the event to reserve a time.
Carriage House Saddlery, 325 Waterburg Road, Trumansberg

Sept 24: Big Loop Hunter Pace
640 Artline Rd
Eldred, PA 16731
9:00 AM - 12:30 PM
All riders who intend to ride at a leisurely pace, come early! Ribbons will be presented when all riders are back at the barn!
Big Loop reserves the right to cancel or add dates for the 2011 series

Sept. 24: Houghton College Horse Trials
Combined Test and Dressage Competition, Houghton, NY.
For details:  Jo-Anne Young at (585) 567-8142 or

Sept. 25: Oakhill Farm and Ranch, Horse Driving Trial
Nunda, NY.
For details: For registration forms and info contact us at 585-468-5441 or, or go to

Sept. 25: Hunterpace and Trail Ride Series
2 to 5 pm - Cohocton, NY.
For details: download flyer

Sept. 24: National Barrel Racing Assoction
1.) Deb Farrelly's
Auburn, NY
$500 min

Sept. 24-25: Northern Tier Horse Club Trail Trial and Cowboy Mounted Shooting
Sept 24: Trail competition followed by a Cowboy Cookout and Campfire!
450 Starhigh Rd
Lawrenceville PA 16929

This year on Sat night Bill's Catering will be serving BBQ ribs and chicken with potatoes and salad. Price $20 at the competition and $15 prior to Sept 17th.
Camping will be available for $25 for the weekend Sept 23-26 at the competition, and $15 if paid prior to Sept. 17th.  No electric, no water. Open field, primitive camping.

Sept. 25: Cowboy Mounted Shooting
Signups start at 8 am. Competition starts at 9 am. 
$30 per class per horse/rider combination.
Pre-registration is appreciated so that we have the proper amount of ammo on hand. Prepay is not required. Just call or email that you are planning on coming.

For details: April Smith, River Run Ranch, 570-827-0987  Website:

Sept. 21 – 25: Empire State Quarter Horse Assoc. Fall Show
The largest Quarter Horse Show in New York State!
Coliseum, NYS Fairgrounds, Syracuse

September 25: Twin Tiers Trail Riders:
CNY Horse Club, Ruth Luchsinger’s Farm south of DeRuyter, NY. Camping available or B & B reservations can be made 315-852-9866, this is an 8 mile ride with obstacles, also a Masters Challenge, ribbons given out, Fee last year was $25 but to be determined for this year

Starlight Finds Her Stride

I’m debating whether Starlight is fit enough for a two-hour hunter pace this weekend.  I had her on a good schedule to be ready for some September and October paces, but then the rains came and, when it wasn’t pouring, I was side-tracked by starting Dee up again.

Last night I took her out for the second time this week and decided to increase the work a bit.  More periods of trotting and cantering on the trail.
Starlight's pretty head does the Dr. Cook's bitless bridle proud.

I haven’t worked with her steadily enough in the ring for her to understand the leg commands for canter yet, but no matter.  I just say, “Canter,” and off she goes.   That’s a legacy from the round pen and longe line lessons she internalized. 

Yesterday I surprised her with a canter request where we haven’t cantered before.  Her little black ears pointed my way briefly, (“Did I hear you right?”) and off she went.  It happens to be an area where she prefers a crooked path, instead of a straight one (weeds, you know.  Eww).  So, as we cantered briskly, she was dodging weeds and I was focusing on keeping my shoulders back and my weight in my heels, since I noticed lately that I had been slouching quite a bit in the saddle.   It was a good choice of exercise for me, as that position was the best one for maintaining my balance as she practiced weed-bending up the pipeline path.

It was a hoot. 

Later, we sidetracked down to the edge of the neighbor’s animal field, a very frightening place to Starlight that contains distant, odd-looking and scary-sounding monsters (people call them goats and donkeys) and once contained two, in-your-face, barking white dogs (great Pyrenees, I think.  Herd dogs, for sure).   I always take her down there, since the dog incident, to get her used to seeing scary places and things, but the dogs have never noticed us since that one time, even though I sing very loudly to get their attention.  My choice of song is “Whistle a Happy Tune” from The King and I, thus:

Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune,
So no one will suspect
I’m afraid.

After espying the goats and donkeys from afar, we trotted through the upper field, and she remembered I had asked her to canter there last time, so she decided to beat me to the request and off we went again, lickety-split, up around the edge of the field.  It’s naughty of us both to let her choose the pace, but I could see that she had a little epiphany, that cantering is fun and easy on our rides, so let’s go!

I’m glad she is feeling more balanced and self-assured about carrying me, and based on the way she darts that chunky little black-and-white body around obstacles and corners, she could definitely do her ancestors proud in the gaming arena.  

It was a hunter-pace worthy ride, but only 45 minutes, so I’m still waffling about this weekend’s pace.  We’ll see how she does the rest of the week.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Little Red Mare Gets Some Love

DeCato needed attention, and if you look at the photo, you’ll see why. 

Argh! A gazillion botfly eggs!

I noticed, this year, that the number of botfly eggs the horses have on them is inversely proportional to their position in the herd.  The lower they are, the more eggs, so DeCato and Stormkite ended up with the most eggs.  I’m sure this is because they are the two who are pushed out of the shelter by the others, so they are the easiest target for that annoyingly persistent mamma botfly.

As I ponder it, I believe that swatting a botfly is almost as satisfying as swatting one of those humongous, B52-bomber-sized horse flies.

But I also wanted to try a couple of saddles on DeCato.  I have an, ahem, impressive collection of used saddles, and it’s time for them to go.  I moved them to the new house under the incorrect assumption that several of them were good possibilities for Dee, Starlight and DeCato, but have since realized that Dee and Starlight are much wider than all of them.  That left DeCato to pick out her favorite, and the rest can go.

The Tack of the Day saddle.

The Professional Trainer saddle
I tried two on DeCato, and as you can see by the photos, she looked equally uncomfortable in both.  This is due to her anxiety about being away from the herd, first, and her not being accustomed to wearing a saddle, second.  However, the Professional Trainer Pro Eventer saddle seemed to be a better fit than the Tack of the Day saddle (this is a brand name saddle that Tack of the Day sells without the brand button.  Rumored to be Harry Dabs, Collegiate, lower end Jaguar, Dover, and a few others.  It’s a nice saddle, whoever the maker).   I don’t know anything about the Professional Trainer, other than it seems to be a well made, all-purpose saddle.

So, after an anxious 40-minutes of botfly egg removal and saddle fitting, I put the little red mare back in the pasture.   It was getting dark, alas, so early, and I had already had a nice ride on Hudson, so it was time to call it a night.

Oh, and be looking for a huge saddle sale, soon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Same Horse, New Name.

On the theme of general silliness, I had Starlight's name changed at both her registries.  No longer Cowboy Billy's Badge, she's officially Sweet Starlight, the horse who named herself.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Who Wins?

I am continuing to ponder what is good for the horse versus what is easier for the human.

Sometimes they are the same, and that’s good.  Automatic waterers come to mind.  They are easy for the human and they supply horses with clean, fresh water, without the algae and schmutz build-up of a trough.

But sometimes, we do things because they have always been done that way, without taking a step back and saying, “Is this necessary and is it good for the horse?”
The Light Rider Bridle

And then, there’s the normal, follow-up question:  “When something is necessary but not good for the horse, can we do this in a way that IS good for the horse?" 

Of course, some things are not good for the horse and there is no way they can ever be good for the horse.  Cruel training methods pop to mind, but that is not where I’m going with this post.  I’m talking about very common tools that might not be good for the horse, but are so universal that their use is rarely questioned.  Improving on them is always being considered, but it is unusual to hear anyone question whether we should use them at all, in the first place.

OK, so what am I talking about?  I know it will sound a little, uh, mad, but I’m talking about saddles, bits and shoes.

I already went on my bit rave in a previous post, and since then, I have ridden Starlight only in a bitless bridle.  She has gone absolutely perfectly in it, so that’s good.  It seems to be good for the horse and good for the rider.  It’s an old Dr. Cook’s I had lying around in my vast array of tack, but I will be ordering one of these nosebands as soon as they are back in stock for both Hudson and Starlight, because the Dr. Cook’s sits too close to her eye.

Shoes are actually already a topic of hot debate, and I’m not going there, either.  I won’t put metal shoes on my horses, opting instead for removable boots when needed (just ordered some purple ones for Starlight!  She’s been a little ouchy on gravel).  But I’m not critical at all of people who use metal shoes.   Or bits.  I'm just trying to make the best choices for my horses.

White hair shows where saddles have pinched over time.
So that brings us to saddles.  I have been having a heck of a time with saddles, as my mares are built in such a way that saddles end up too far forward after just a little work.  Throw a steep hill into the mix, and I’m riding their necks.  This is true, at least, with Hudson and Starlight, both of whom have big bellies and no withers, so saddles just slip on forward.  I haven’t ridden Dee enough to know what will happen to her saddle, but she does have a tad more withers than the other two.

As I learn more about saddles and how they are made, I, of course, being in this bent lately, started wondering if we should even use them on a horse.  The trees seem to cause pain and pinch, in many cases, but since few horses complain about this, just accepting it, people just blithely go on using them.   Some people are aware that not all saddles work on all horses, and some of them, like me, start becoming obsessed with finding one that fits perfectly.

But maybe there is no such thing.   Maybe they all hurt, shift, pinch, even in the best of cases. 

Yesterday, after riding Starlight in two saddles (not at the same time), I decided to experiment, and rode her without a saddle.  I was super-conscious of where her spine was in relation to my seat and tail bones. 

Maybe a couple years ago this would have felt OK to Starlight, but since I took off 40 pounds, my bones, down there, are very easy to feel.  I put my hand under them, and it did not feel good.  They felt like hard, well, bones, and they were right over her spine, or just to either side. 

That could not have felt comfortable, having those things jamming into her back constantly, with no padding.  So now, I’m pondering treeless saddles and bareback pads. 

I don’t know where this will end up, or if I’ll just continue to obsess on this for the rest of my and my horses’ lives.   Never content, you know.  Well, I guess human discontent is what has created all these amazing inventions that make our lives easier, things like cars and central heating and laptop computers.    

But, in this case, it’s not the person’s life I’m trying to make easier. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Twin Tiers Horse Events, Sept. 15 - 18, 2011

There are a lot of nice horse activities in the next few days.  The summer is winding down, but there are still many beautiful fall equestrian events to come!  The Paint Horse club will get my attention this weekend.  I might trailer my girl, Starlight, over there to get her some exposure.  I'm not sure, though.  She will be the prettiest one there, and I don't want the others to feel bad!

Twin Tiers Trail Riders: Two Rides
Sept 15 -18: Elk County Trail ride. Contact Linda Hendricks 607-342-3543 or or Beth Weaver 570-724-4955 or Ron and Emily Campbell at 607-607-562-3833.
Sept. 17: Reins of Hope Sugar Hill, N.Y. Contact Kathy Jantzen at or 607-732-3653. As it gets closer to the ride, Kathy will forward me copies of the forms or if you contact her for them.

Sept 17 - 18: Troy Area Horsemen’s Association
Alparon Park, Troy, PA.
Saturday: Game Show
Sign up 2 pm
Sunday: All Breed Open Show, PAC approved, starts at 8 a.m.
For details:

Sept. 17 - 18, 2011 Empire State Paint Horse Club Year End Fall Futurity Show
Chemung Co. Fairgrounds, Horseheads, NY - 8 Judges APHA
4 Judge Open - Saturday: Michelle Nyburg-NY, Tim Abler-MI, David Terrell-TN, Deb White-DE
4 Judge Youth/Amt - Sunday: Mark Smith-OH, Susan Robinson-ONT, Daren Wright-OH, Marty Jo Hays-OH
Show Manager: Patti Cerio ~ (856) 931-1116 ~ email:
Show Contact: Kathy Reinert ~ (607) 965-8601 (h) ~ (860) 428-7669 (m) ~ email:
Download the Pr-Entry Form below!
Pre-Entry Form
Sept. 17: High Standard Stables, Trail Trial Series
Starts at 9 am, Dansville, NY. For more information, go to or contact Amy Becker at (585) 905-9955 or

Sept. 17: Harvest Horse Trials and Schooling Dressage Show
To benefit Roswell Park Cancer Institute and East Aurora Pony Club. For more information, contact Sue Williams at (716) 772-2707/2957 or
For prize list/ entry forms, go to

Sept 17 – 18 Michelle LaBarre Clinic
Black Points Farm, Honeoye Falls, NY. For info about Michelle, go to
To ride in the clinic, contact Mary Delton at Auditors welcome.

Sept. 18 GVRDC Pleasure and Combined Driving Show
Geneseo, NY.
Download the Prize List and Entry Form.
For more information contact the show committee:
Catherine Frangenberg at (585) 334-1730
Teresa Harris at (585) 226-6826 or
Trista Plummer at (585) 703-9315

Sept. 17 – 18: NBHA Heart & Soule Barrel Bash
Parish, NY
$1,000 Added per Day

Sept 14 – 17 NYS Morgan Horse Show
New York State Morgan Horse Society's 51st Annual Regional Horse Show.
315-682-1933; Visit Web Site;

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Open Letter to the Good People in Bentley Creek

Dear Residents of Bentley Creek:

I love you guys.  You were some of the best neighbors a person could want.  You are kind, and caring and you welcomed us so warmly when we moved there eight years ago.

I remember when the creek came up and some folks from the Ridgebury Volunteer Fire Department helped us evacuate the horses through the knee-deep water that flowed on the turnpike.
A lazy evening in the rain.  And the other two are still with us, too!

I remember when one of you called the emergency personnel to report “a man lying in the field” by my house, not realizing that I have bad ankles and had simply taken a header on some loose gravel just before you drove by (and, yes, I do look fairly asexual in my winter barn clothes).  Everyone ended up confused by that one, but it was good for a laugh.

You are some of the best people in one of the best communities in Pennsylvania.  I mean that. 

Now, please stop spreading rumors that I’m dead.

Sincerely, your former neighbor and forever friend, alive and well, with horses and husband, just over the hill,

PS: If you wonder what the heck I’m talking about, check out this note I received from fellow Ridgeburians, Jeanne & Steve Root.  You might recognize their names if you read the weekly run-down of events, as they are key organizers in the Twin Tier Trail Riders:

“You are going to appreciate this laugh.  Just to show you how small town talk goes.  The big village of Bentley Creek could not figure out why all your horses were gone so someone come up with the idea that you had a horrible horse accident and died so your husband sold all the horses. 

We had my truck repaired at Mike's Garage and when we stopped to pick it up, Sue said she figured us being horse people too would know what happen to you.  We laughed when she asked about the death from a horse accident.   We assured them that you were just fine.

Jeanne and Steve Root”

Thanks, Jeanne and Steve, for straightening that one out!