Thursday, March 29, 2012

Twin Tiers Horse Activities, March 31-April 1, 2012

Lots to do this last weekend in March!  
The Twin Tiers Trail riders get going on their first ride of the season.  The fine Carol Kozlowski gives her jumping clinic up north, at one end of our area, while in the south at the other end, Birchtown Stables holds one of the last shows in their winter series.
I hope you all enjoy your horses this weekend!
March 31 and rain/snow date April 1: Twin Tiers Trail Riders: PA Grand Canyon Ride, Ansonia, PA Trail Head, this ride will be through the bottom of the canyon down the old converted RR bed. Very level and easy riding, see directions for parking – Contact Beth Weaver, or 570-724-4955. This ride will be a benefit ride in honor of Candy Coupe. Candy died of bone cancer in 2011. Donations will be collected at the ride or you can mail them direct to JoAnn Schwab, 225 Burch Hill Road, Horseheads, N.Y. 14845. Please be sure to mark the donations in honor or Candy Coupe. All donations will be given to The Reins of Hope.
March 31-April 1: Gymnastic Jumping Clinic with Carol Kozlowski at Mothersfield, Hogmire Road, Avon, NY. Contact Carol at (585) 226-6287 or
April 1: Birchtown Stables, Birchtown PA April Fools Slots * Best “Non-English Horse Show Attire” Costume Prize; Horse and Rider Costumes can be worn while showing; Series End Show– High Point Awards Judge: tba;

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guest Rider

Yuki on the ground and Sumi on Hudson.
My niece’s five years of weekly dressage lessons definitely showed as she rode Hudson these last two days. 

I’m so happy she can ride!

You just never know.  Sumi is a Japanese teenager whom I see only every few years, so her experience level has been communicated to me, mostly through email, from my non-horsey brother.

She has been taught everything in Japanese.  She speaks English, but I imagine it’s hard for her to explain what she knows to him in a way that he can then explain it to me.   Sum it up to say, until I saw her on Hudson, I wasn’t exactly sure what she would be able to do.

Big sister Yuki also got a short ride.
And, Hudson’s not a packer by any means.  It takes some know-how to maneuver her.  My fear was that Sumi would not be able to control her and/or that Hudson would be particularly difficult.  Well, Hudson has been difficult only in that she has been a total brute about dropping her head to graze on the ride, yanking my niece forward each time.  It’s a hard trick to combat, considering Hudson’s huge and powerful neck and the lack of a bit.  I might have to get on her tomorrow to do some fine-tuning on this point.  But otherwise, we have had two successful rides.

OK, OK, there was that moment when we asked for a gentle canter across a field and got a horse race, with both horses careening at high speed, basically out of control, until we hit the edge of the woods and stopped.  But we stayed on board and didn’t crash into anything, so I’m calling that success.   Otherwise, our rides have been pretty and fun, scaring up deer, crossing creeks and tromping up and down wooded trails and grassy fields.

Sumi on Hudson, I on Starlight, before the ride.
We’ll have a couple more days of riding ahead of us before meeting up with the rest of the family in my hometown, so happy trails to us and, if you’re riding, happy trails to you.

Sweaty ponies.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sleeping in the Sun

Nevermind the 30 mph wind gusts, these ponies were sleeping soundly with Dee standing guard. 

DeCato, the chestnut, always alert, heard me coming and put her head up, but the other three were zonked.

Zzzzzzzzzz.             Zzzzzzzzz.              Zzzzzzzzz.

It really IS greener

I haven't put the horses out on the main pasture yet.  I'm waiting for the ground to be a little dryer and the grass a little higher.  

I keep telling the mares, "It is MARCH.  Last year you weren't out until MAY."

It's true that last year was unusually wet through April, and this year has been unusually dry and warm in March (even though it's snowing in sheets as I write -- Yup, first day of vacation, so, naturally).  The grass is up and green.

Yesterday, after good rides on Hudson and Starlight, I noticed DeCato, the pretty red mustang, standing in the paddock by herself with her face as close to the electric tape as she dared, just gazing down at the pasture full of green, green grass.

She was so quiet and yet so obvious in what she was thinking, and her pathos earned her a trip out on the lead line to the grass and an answer to that craving.  

...and it was SOOOOO good!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Preparing for a Guest

This weekend finds me slogging around on Hudson in the cold, misty rain.

A wholesale change of weather, from unseasonably warm and sunny to very seasonably cold and rainy would normally be enough to keep me out of the saddle until the front passes through.

But I have a VIV, a Very Important Visitor, coming in a couple days.  She’s my Japanese niece, and she has been taking English riding lessons every week since she was young, after meeting my horses way back when, and she wants nothing more than to go on a real trail ride.  So I have been riding Hudson and Starlight, to get the black-and-white dynamic duo ready for this important ride.
Hooooooo-hooooooo!  I hear the train a'comin.

Unfortunately, during last week’s fine weather, I was working every evening at my money-making job (as opposed to my personal horse job, which is my money-sucking job), so the two ponies had a week off to get all fresh and silly again.  

Yesterday’s ride on Hudson was the typical freight-train-on-amphetamines trip that her first outing after a while off always is, so I’m about to go back out to what I’m expecting will be a much more mellow mount – still Hudson, just a different Hudson. 

Then Starlight will get to travel the trail-ride route that my niece and I will take this week.  I’ll do this pattern with the both of them for the next couple days, so every mare has her head in the game by the time said niece arrives. 

Wish I'd bought that riding rain suit when it was on sale...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Twin Tiers Horse Activities, March 23-24, 2012

I found just one activity for this weekend, Twin Tiers horse folks, but it looks interesting. 

Walter Zettle will give a dressage clinic at Houghton College, and this gives you a chance to go watch a former Olympic eventing coach and a distinguished rider and trainer.  It also gives you an opportunity to check out the Houghton College Equestrian Center, something I have not done, but I have been curious about it. 

I'll be updating the BIG calendar again soon, so stay tuned, and have a great time with your horses this weekend!

March 23 & 24th: WYNDA Walter Zettl Dressage Clinic Houghton College Equestrian Center, Houghton NY. Contact Joanne Young 585-567-4374 or

I borrowed the photo on the right from Walter Zettl's web page.  

This is not George Morris' jumping clinic, but wow!  Look at that leg and that auto-release.  George Morris wouldn't have much to pick on, except the horse's loose mane. OK, he is looking down, but he looks like he could balance up there all day.

I wonder what kind of event this was, with another horse and rider right behind him. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just Gotta Ride

Twin Tiers horse folks, you just can't blame the weather if you haven't been riding the last few days.

There is nothing better to do in fine weather than to ride a fine horse.   It's so good! 

Here are the steeds that have toted me around:

Hudson modestly displays one of her characteristics the make it tough for her to bend -- her massive neck.
Starlight and I after our ride this afternoon.

I hope you get in lots of horseback time while the weather is so bugless, yet so warm. Happy trails to you!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Twin Tiers Horse Events, March 16-18, 2012

Based on the number of horsie events happening this weekend, it looks like the riding season has started!  Have fun with your ponies this weekend!

March 16: JP’S NORTH TACK, EQUIPMENT AND RIDING APPAREL AUCTION to support to the Chemung County Agricultural Society; 5:00 PM Preview; 6:00 P.M. Auction; Get Ahead Start on Your Show Season! Will Have Wormers, Buckets, Brushes, Helmets, more. Refreshments will be Available. At The Chemung County Fairgrounds 4-H Bldg. 170 Fairview Rd. Horseheads, NY 14845; MORE INFO: CONTACT April Halm @ 607-425-1382 or
March 16th & 17th: WYNDA Ride-A-Test/Jump-a-Course Clinic Houghton College Equestrian Center, Houghton NY. Contact Joanne Young 585-567-4374 or
March 17 – 18: 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.
March 18: Birchtown Stables, Birchtown PA Gym, Tan, Hunters * Best “Jersey Shore” Costume Prize; Horse and Rider Costumes can be worn while showing. yaaa buddy ! Judge: tba
March 18: Saddle Fitting Night, Painted Bar Stables, Burdett, NY, at 4:00pm Join us as we re-fit our horses for saddles for the upcoming season. We will be refitting our entire herd and using them as examples of how to properly fit a saddle to a horse.
Did you know that not every saddle fits every horse? Just because the saddles fit each horse last year, doesn't mean it fits now. Horses change shape just like humans and it is important that the saddle fits properly and does not cause pain.Painted Bar Stables, 4093 Lake Avenue (Rte. 79) Burdett, NY 14818 • 607.216.8141

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sunset Ride In Early Spring

On this sunny and warm evening, so uncharacteristic of early March in Upstate New York, Hudson and I took a stroll out on the hill.  

Here's how it looked:

The sun going down over the western hill
Crossing a sloppy area.  Sometimes these make Hudson go BOING!

Heading through the field.  You can still see where my husband mowed a path for us last year.

That's what we earth science geeks might call a "vernal stream."

Last shot before I pocketed the camera.
And that's a good way to live a warm, spring evening.  Thanks, Huds.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Now and then there's a Schmuck such as I

Have you ever asked your horse to back up a hill?   

I did, a couple days ago, before the pouring rain yesterday and today's fierce wind and snow squalls teamed up to keep my streak of riding one day in a row alive.

This is the cover of Jec A. Ballou's book.
I backed Hudson up a hill for about 10 steps, at the end of our trail ride, and she did not like it one bit.  She let me know this was very hard for her, maybe too hard.  Maybe I should start with five steps.

It was an exercise I read in the book that has completely changed my view about how to condition a horse.  If the author, Jec Aristotle Ballou, is correct, I have been doing it all wrong. 

My husband bought me her book, Equine Fitness (even got her to sign it) and I have read it through once, so far.   I'm really shocked, when I think of what I have been doing to condition my horses, compared to what she recommends. 

One of the concepts she presents that shocks me is this: “…It can take up to a year to develop the fitness necessary to handle an hour’s worth of walk, trot and canter.  Yet, how many riders require this after just a few months?”
Just that sentence explained so much to me about why my horses get so tired during a two-hour trail ride or hunter pace, even after I have prepared them for it for a couple of months.  I thought that by riding hills, walk, trot and canter, for up to an hour, a few times a week, after a few weeks they would be ready for a longer, more demanding outing.  But it looks like I was wrong, and I feel like a huge schmuck.

Luckily for a schmuck such as I, Ballou offers a full series of workouts to help horses achieve true fitness, no matter how flabby their starting point.  So this year will bring a new type of work to them, and to me, here on the hill.
Just sauntering in circles won't cut it for Starlight this year.

I’m not going to describe here everything I read in her book, but I do recommend it to other riders, so you can see for yourself if her recommendations are something you want to pursue.  And I just noticed she has a blog, so that’s something to take a look at, as well as her home page (links in blue).  

I hope this year I will do my riding horses justice when it comes to truly helping them get in shape, and prepare them for the type of work that will be asked in their futures.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Twin Tiers Horse Events, March 10-11, 2012

We have a couple of interesting activities this weekend, Twin Tiers horse peeps, so take a look. They both look like they could be worth a trip!

Of course, the big excitement for me this weekend is that we set our clocks ahead.  I remember writing in this blog at the start of the winter that I didn't need to fret about the cold, dark days, because all I had to do was blink, and it would be spring.  I was right!  It's here, and long days mean lots more riding, so I'm excited.

Here are the weekend events:

March 10, Horse Tack Swap, then Action. 8:00 AM -- 6:00 PM Lindley Presho Volunteer Fire Company 9541 Tannery Creek Road Lindley, NY 14858
Tack Swap from 8:00am -- 12:00PM 22 Vendor Tables
Tack Auction from 2:00PM -- 6:00PM JP North
Raffles, 50/50 Drawings, Door Prizes. Food 
Tack Auction includes All New Horse Tack, Saddles, Bridles, Halters, Blankets, Sheets, Riding Helmets, Buckets, Feeders, Slinkies, Hoodies, Bits, Spurs, Whips, Cross Ties, Trailer Ties, Wormers, Plus More. 1 Brand New Round Pen to be Auctioned Off to the Highest Bidder
Contact: Michelle at 607-654-8837 or 607-523-7310
March 11: Smith and Wilkins Horse Logging Field Day at Carriage House Saddlery, Trumansburg, NY. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Singles or teams. $20 for singles, $30 for teams. Prizes for most classes. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Hairy, Blustery Day

It looks warm out there in the sunshine today, but the 30- to 50-mile-an-hour wind gusts meant I needed to bundle up.  

The zipper is broken on my usual riding coat, and I hesitated to wear the Syracuse jacket, not because it’s a great coat, but because it’s part fleece and the horses are shedding.  Sure enough, it ended up orange and blue and horse-hair white in no time. 

Orange and blue...
...and horse hair.
Since it was so windy and she hadn’t been out in a while, I lunged Hudson before getting on, and it was a good decision.  While she tried to behave herself on the lunge, the other horses tore up and down the pasture like maniacs, distracting Hudson.  She threw in some little fits and bolts.

By the time I got on, though, she was ready to work, so we went up the road in a fairly relaxed walk.  

It was a short ride, since she’s out of shape and that wind was crazy, gusty and cold, but it was a good first ride in March -- the month that brings us SPRING!

The wind meant a bad hair day for Hudson.

Horse Daze

I was away all week, in Toronto, for training related to my day job.  

I did not see a single horse in Toronto, so, when a pipe cleaner art contest was announced in class (as a fun diversion from the subject material.  I wasn't attending a week-long class on pipe cleaner art.  Just to clarify), I decided to bring a little horse to Toronto.

It won. 

It may be the only horse-related contest I win this year.

But it was not a replacement for my real horses, and I'm so glad to be home! 

I'm going to get myself in trouble.  My husband might read this and ask why I didn't build a pipe cleaner husband. 

Well, thanks to him, all the horses were well cared for and happy when I got home, and for some reason, the two dogs alternated all week in leaving diarrhea in the house for him to clean up every morning, but they stopped before I got home to join the fun.  So big thanks and Canadian chocolates for him!