Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Twin Tier Horse Events, March 3-4, 2012

Alas, Twin Tiers horse lovers.  There are no events this weekend (that I could find).  But, holy cow!  Look at the BIG Calendar!  Loads more events have popped up the last couple of weeks, including some hunter paces.  I'm still expecting some more groups to get their hunter pace schedules out, but the Irish Draft Horse Society has set a couple dates, and so has a pace in Deruyter, NY.

Last I looked, it's supposed to be a decent weekend, so get out there for a ride, and have a good time with your horses!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Birthday Trip to the Expo!

My birthday usually falls at the same time as the PA Horse World Expo, so several times, over the past few years, we have tootled on down Rt. 15 to Harrisburg to make a birthday celebration weekend of it.

We missed it the past couple of years, due to personal inertia, but this year we got our act together, including finding a dog kennel for our ancient pooches and a horse sitter willing and experienced enough to take care of the five horses, morning and night.  And off we went.
The legendary Jimmy Woffard -- with seat angles on white board.

For those who haven’t gone, or looked into it, the Horse World Expo is held at the PA Farm Complex.  It runs five classes concurrently, changing every hour, for three and a half days.  Two huge arenas and a round pen hold the demonstrations that include horses, and two lecture halls are set up for material to be presented, sans horse.  It also includes a humongous room full of vendors hawking all kinds of horse stuff and services.

The clinicians are diverse.  While I was there, I attended Jimmy Wofford’s lecture on "Sit Right, Ride Right," and then later watched him school five riders through a gymnastics course.  It was fantastic!  The night before I had been reading one of his articles in Practical Horseman, and the next day I got to watch him teach.

Other highlights for me include a good, basic equitation class from Julie Goodnight, a class on correcting problem behavior from a PA trainer named Suzanne Myers, a horsemanship pattern class by Diane Eppers, a saddle fitting class with Debra Racheter and “Developing a Brave Horse,” which was obstacle training by Craig Cameron.  These I really liked and I learned from all.  I also watched two poor classes by a couple of yahoos who shall remain nameless.

PA's Suzanne Myers
At the same time, my husband hit the lecture halls and heard lectures on composting, weed control in pastures, what to do in emergencies before the vet arrives and horse conditioning and fitness with Jec Aristotle Ballou.  The later impressed him so much he bought Ballou’s book for me, called Equine Fitness, and I’m glad he did.  I’m several chapters in and it’s a very good read.  You may have already seen her previous book, if you ever picked up 101 Dressage Exercises for Horse and Rider.  

Here’s a link to all the speakers’ bios:

Although we really like Theatre Equus, we have seen it several times and decided to forego it this trip in order to treat ourselves to a couple of good dinners out, but I heard the show was good this year and included some new acts.

Back home yesterday, all charged up and ready to try some new things with my ponies, only to find icy, 50 mile an hour winds blowing all day and well after we went to bed.  What a disappointment!   

Oh well, there are clearer days ahead.  Watch out, ponies, here I come!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Twin Tiers Horse Activities, Feb. 23 - 27, 2012

Holy smokes!  We have FOUR, count 'em, FOUR events to look forward to over the coming weekend.  

Two are biggies -- the New York Farm Show and the Horse World Expo.  I'll be heading to Harrisburg for a bit of the Expo.  These are followed by a couple of educational programs in the northern part of our area.

Also, be watching the BIG Calendar for some new shows.  I'll be updating it at some point soon.

Have a great weekend with your ponies!

Feb 23-24, 2012: New York Farm Show; NYS Fairgrounds, Syracuse. More than 400 commercial exhibitors with innovative products and plenty of services on hand to fill five buildings for the New York Farm Show. Show being held in these buildings... Exhibit Center, Center of Progress Building, Horticulture Building, International Building and Art & Home Center. Adults $5, children under 18 free (Free tickets available from many Northeast Equipment Dealers Assoc. members); Visit Web Site
Feb 23 – 25, 2012: Horse World Expo; Location: Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg, PA; Horse World Expo brings together the best that the horse industry has to offer. With over 300 vendors, top clinicians from all over the world representing almost every discipline, as well as quality entertainment, Breed Row and Stallion Avenue, Horse World Expo surely has something for every horse lover, rider and enthusiast. Website, Contact: Denise Parsons, P.o. Box 924, Bel Air, MD 21014, 301-916-0852; Email:
Feb. 27: GVEC Short Course: CSI: Case Study Investigation, 2nd Edition, presented by Amy Leibeck, DVM, 7-9 pm, at the Genesee Valley Equine Clinic, Scottsville, NY. Cost: $8.00 per person. For more information, call 585-889-1170 or go to

February 27: GVRDC Educational Seminar: Interval Training - presented by Gail McGuire. Gail will introduce the theory of interval training for you to implement with your horse. She has used this program with great success for her own horses since learning the system from Jim Wofford when he visited the Genesee Valley many years ago. Now, she wants to share her proven method with you to help take the guesswork out of conditioning your horse. Bring a pen and a friend to this FREE educational event. Rush Public Library, 6-8 pm, Rush, NY. Please contact Liz if you plan to come so she has a head count.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What Not to Wear, Part 1: Western

When thinking about all the ways I can compete on my horses, I debate all the options with a sense of excitement and a sense of dread.  

The dread doesn’t have anything to do with what I actually would be doing on the horse.  It could be barrel racing or jumping or dressage or cow chasing or trail obstacles, all of those are certainly in the realm of possibility.  I’m cocky enough to not have any concerns about showing myself and my horses in public attempting just about anything, at the right level (read: low level). 

Love it? Yup. Pull it off? Nope.
But there is one major issue that trips me up every time I start thinking about it: What to wear? 

When it comes to assembling all the various bits and pieces for a proper presentation in just about any traditional riding competition, I get scared.

As much as I adore the blingy outfits the Western chicks get to wear in shows, I can’t see myself pulling it together.  Slinky top, special slippery pants, exactly the right length, the belt buckle, the right boots, chaps that match the saddle pad and all in a color that flatters the horse’s coat.   And the hat!  I just read in a magazine that Western judges highly disapprove of Western hats not being properly shaped to flatter the face. 

Whaaaaat????  Anybody know any hat steamers around these parts?
Lots of pink.  And something missing?

And when it comes to western tack, well, ugh.  Love the look of it, hate the feel of it, have one Simco barrel racing saddle that likely fits none of my horses and a couple of mysterious looking one-ear “head stalls,” dangling truly frightening shanked curb bits that I cannot imagine putting in a horse’s mouth. 

I just don’t have the energy or patience to attempt to put together all these details into one look for a show.  
SO, I could simplify things by doing reined cow horse competitions, as the outfit is much simpler and workmanlike, but even they have rules about which bits to use that I really don’t appreciate and just won’t follow.

And frankly, I’m not going to ride a horse in a Western hat, no matter what.  I love them, adore them, think they are totally cool.  But I’m not risking my noggin, so it’s a safety helmet for me. Always.  
Yes, I bought it.  Tried it on.  Laughed really hard.  Returned it.

That said, if it’s Western competition I’m heading for, it has got to be a competition that isn’t as particular about the look, as long as it’s safe.   And that narrows it down considerably, which is good.  I need to be narrowed down.  

I think I have narrowed it to team penning and sorting.  OK.  Good enough.  I can go with that.  I think both of these activities could be tons of fun.  I tried penning once upon a time and it was a blast, even though my horse and I were definitely the class clowns.

More workmanlike duds.
And the Way-Ont Saddle Club (see the links, right) offers both of these activities, I believe.  I’m waiting for them to post their 2012 calendar so I can plug in a couple dates on mine.
So, that takes care of the Western side of things for me.   

Next, we look at the English style events.  I’m basically an English gal, brought up that way, and it’s where I’m most comfortable.  However, I do have similar anxiety about preparing for a proper English competition and must voice my curmudgeonly concerns about top hats, shadbellies and hunter braids.  But that’s another story, for next time.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Twin Tiers Horse Activities, Feb. 18-19, 2012

Michelle LeBarre is back in our vicinity this weekend, giving a clinic up in Honeoye.  For a good, all-round equitation experience, check her out!  

And have a great weekend with your pony!

Michelle LaBarre, after a lesson last year with Trish Pierc
Feb 18 – 19 Michelle LaBarre Dressage Clinic - Black Points Farm, Honeoye Falls, NY. For info about Michelle,  To ride in the clinic, contact Mary Delton at Auditors welcome.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Spring in the Air!

Starlight is not a mare who is obvious about being in heat, but it IS Valentine's Day.  And it's pretty obvious that she's silly in heat.  This must be that first big estrus of the year, and a sure sign that spring is on the way.   

An older photo that amuses me.  Starlight calmly removing Dee from her locale.  Chomp.

So, while she's being all goofy and frustrated, I'm feeling happy, because it means the days are getting longer and soon a new season begins.  A look at the BIG calendar shows all kinds of events, and it's about time for me to pick out the ones I want to attend, and with which horse. 

I was listening to The Western Radio Show on podcast tonight, as I stood out in the stable, grooming my lovey-dovey mare.  The co-host, Tammy Sronce, is a world champion mounted shooter, and she was chatting about her training classes.  The important thing, she said, is to set realistic goals, small goals even, so you can really meet them and feel a sense of achievement.  Setting goals that are too big might set you up for disappointment and perhaps discourage you from trying, she said.

I liked that advice.  It made sense.  But I will never follow it.  I always set huge goals for myself, really more than I can ever hope to achieve in the time frame I have to work in.  But I don't get disappointed if I don't meet every one.  I appreciate the little victories as I move toward the insane stretch goal, and I rarely feel discouraged that way.   

For instance, last year I wanted to get both Starlight and Dee going well under saddle.  I was successful in getting Starlight going, and she and I went out on several riding adventures, on and off the farm, and had a bang-up good time.  Dee, not so much.  But I was so pleased with Starlight's progress that I forgave myself and knew that Dee would have her chance in the sun.  

This is Dee's year, and we'll just see what it brings, celebrate the little wins, ignore the, ahem, hard landings, and keep a steady gallop in the right direction, enjoying the trip, even if we don't actually find the finish line.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Is That the Moon I See, Over There in the West?

And it's still green!
Dee and I were out with the moon the other night and grabbed this photo.

Isn't it strange to see a horse grazing in the Twin Tiers in February?  Normally, by now, the ground is frozen and covered in enough snow to keep the grass hidden until late March.  Dee was glad to find it edible!

Anybody know the song I referenced in the title?  Probably only my siblings, if they happen to catch this post. My childhood was full of obscure songs.  Here's a link. 
It's not horse-related, but it's a pretty, plaintive song, written and sung roughly by Utah Phillips. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Twin Tiers Horse Activities, Feb. 10-11, 2012

This weekend brings one event at the Southeastern tip of the Twin Tiers.  Have a look.   And don't forget to peruse the BIG calendar.  I added a lot of new events tonight, as local clubs are announcing their show dates.  I will be adding more this week, so check back. 

When you see them all together like that, it's a pretty impressive line-up of horse activities we have in the Twin Tiers in the summertime!

February 11: Birchtown Stables, Birchtown, PA “Taking Strides Towards A Cure” 
DOUBLE POINT !!! Birchtown Stables, Birchtown PA; $1,000 Hunter Classic, Benefit for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Exhibitors and Horses Wear Purple For Support !! Judge: tba;

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Not Hating Hay As Much

I have been known to utter the phrase, “I hate hay.”  
Thoughts.  On hay.

Frequently.  Passionately.   

And I meant it.   Hay is the single most important element of proper horsekeeping.   Without it, you simply can’t keep horses in the Northeastern USA.

When we lived in our old place, hay caused a constant, underlying anxiety.  Come May, June, July, I was watching the weather like a farmer, fretting about rain, counting the number of dry days that were strung together, praying that local haymakers were haying during them and hadn’t missed the brief, sunny windows.

Then, the hay was ready and the farmers started calling.  For them, selling it straight off the wagon in the field was the best deal for them, because they didn’t have to spend time loading it into their lofts, a hot, sticky, scratchy, dusty job.

The old way.
For the first few years, we would pick it up from the farmer, using our horse trailer to haul about 100 bales at a time.  It sounds so easy, but packing that trailer full of hay is a hellish work, then hustling home, setting up the big, old hay elevator and unloading into the loft – always during the hottest days of the year—is a panting, gasping, collapsing exercise.  Then back to the farmer.

My thought was to get the all the hay we needed for the year in July, and the farmers wanted that too.  That meant repeating the above until we had a minimum of 700 bales, more would be better.  I realize that’s a drop in the bucket for some farms, but for us, it was a heck of a lot of work that both my husband and I dreaded.   Later, we were able to find haysellers who delivered, which was a big relief – removing exactly half our work.

But there was a bigger problem.  The beautiful, fresh, green hay I loaded in the loft in July was often moldy by November. 

And I learned three things: 1.) Some farmers who hay primarily to feed cows do not make good hay for horses, because, apparently, cows aren’t nearly as picky about hay as horses.  2.) Many hay farmers do not realize their hay is bad when they bale it (and no one ever tells them.)   3.) Most importantly, I was not able to tell, from a fresh hay bale, what hay was good and what was going to mold in a few months.

To combat all three of these problems, I planned to just buy hay in November, because, by then, I would be able to see and smell the fully finished bale and know if it was good.  But the idea that I might not being able to get hay that late then kept me buying it off the wagon.

Well, this year, I’m very happy to announce, I DON’T hate hay.   This, despite the fact that we had an extremely wet hay season. 
Our homemade hay

The reasons I don’t hate hay this year: 1. ) We made our own hay, and while it is not perfect by any stretch, it’s perfectly edible, we have plenty of it for back-up, and it will fill in, in a pinch, and also gives the horses something to munch on all day.   2.) Thanks to #1, this year we ARE buying in the winter and I actually do have the chance to smell and look at hay before I buy it and can tell for sure that it’s good.  And 3). I buy in small loads from a variety of people, so I am not locked into one particular person’s hay.  Locking in to one person’s hay is not bad when it’s great hay, but since great hay is hard to find, I like the variety, and I think the horses do, too.  4.) We don’t have a hay loft at our new place, so no more elevators and working in those insane conditions!

Oh, and 5.) A side benefit – I have become darn good at stacking hay in a pick-up for transport!
Yesterday's load, safely carried for 30 miles.
Yesterday's hay seller gave me the eggs we found in his hay!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Happy Little Herd

This shot shows all five of the horses using their new canvas tarp as a wind block -- a very satisfying scene.

Interestingly, they are standing in "dominance" order.  Hudson, the boss, is by herself nearest the tarp, then Starlight (you can only see her legs and a bit of neck), Dee, DeCato and, finally, Stormkite, the gelding, standing in the spot farthest from the tarp.

On another note, today, the vet came and gave rabies shots and drew blood for Coggins.  This vet, Dr. Megan Cox of Finger Lakes Equine Practice, uses photos for Coggins paperwork, which I think is a huge improvement over the old, hand-drawn markings.  But unfortunately, every one of my horses had rolled heartily before I came home from work to get them ready for the vet's visit. 

Is it OK for the Coggins paperwork to describe the horse's color as "black, white and mud?"

The horses were all extremely well behaved, standing quietly tied and waiting patiently as each received a shot, a blood draw and then a walk outside for the photo shoot.  When a horse returned from getting her picture taken, another would nicker a welcome, even though they each were on the other side of the canvas for only a couple minutes, at most.

As she cast a look back at them before driving off, Dr. Cox described the horses as "a happy little herd."  

That's a good description of my muddy bunch!

This Weekend's Horse Activities, Feb. 4 -5, 2012

We have an educational event for horse enthusiasts this weekend, folks.  Have a look!

Feb 4: GVEC Winter Horse Health Seminar 8 am - noon at the Wheatland-Chili High School, 940 North Road, Scottsville, NY. Cost: Free For more information, call 585-889-1170 or go to

The program will include presentations by two guest speakers. Katherine Garrett, DVM will present Advances in Equine Diagnostic Imaging: Taking a Better Look Inside.   Dr. Garret will explain some of the most important advances in equine imaging, and discuss the benefits to your horse from diagnosis with ultrasound, digital imagery and MRI.

Keith Kleine, the Director for Industry Relations for the American Association of Equine Practitioners, will speak on The AAEP: Helping Veterinarians, Horses, and Their Owners . Keith will provide information about the role that AAEP plays in equine welfare, continuing education for veterinarians, owner education, monitoring of infectious diseases, and funding of important equine research.