Monday, April 30, 2012

Hearts and Guts

As I sift through the trainers who have thrown their hats in the ring for the job of taking on Dee and Stormkite, I become more comfortable with my decision to have a professional train them and help find them new homes.

Who will miss whom the most?
For me, the past year has been one in which we have simplified.  We moved from a big house with a huge barn and oodles of storage that could be crammed with things upon things to a small house with very little room to stash stuff.  That meant getting rid of so much.  

And that felt so good.

Then, we sold the old house, and that felt good, too.   In between, we sold an extra car and a bunch of saddles.  All good, good, good.

And so, it seems natural for me to look to simplify my horsekeeping life, as well.  But this action is not like selling a house or sending all the old furniture away on a truck to an auction. 

Without going all sappy on you, I’ll say that I love these horses and I believe in doing my best for them, creatures that depend on humans to care for them and that have no choice when humans don’t.

So, I’m doing what I can to give Dee and Stormkite the best chance at getting a great home, a better home than I give them, even.   It’s hard to admit that a better home is out there, but it is.  There are probably many better homes -- one with fewer horses, for instance, or one with more humans to take care of the horses.   Or with more peppermints.

And the beauty of it is, it gives Hudson, Starlight and DeCato a better home, too, because I will be able to stop my always working with a horse that needs to get going under saddle.  I can focus on these three horses I have already started, and move them up the scale in skill and training. 

Lucky them!  They each get more of me.

Hmmm...Get ridden or graze?
I try to avoid describing what I think my horses think, because I always find when people do it, they just sound wrong.  But it could well be, at this point, they might think, “Uh, we don’t really want more attention from you, we don’t want to work harder with you and we don’t want you to break up our herd.  We just want grass all the time.”

Well, I guess there will always be differences of opinions on these matters, but in the end, my gut is telling me this is the right thing to do.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Twin Tiers Horse Events, April 25 - 29, 2012

So much to do this weekend!  Even someone with a bum gam, like myself, should be able to find something exciting and horsie to do around the Twin Tiers!
Have a great time with your horse, whatever YOU do!

April 25-29 Syracuse PHA Horse Show, NYS Fairgrounds, Syracuse: "A" Rated Hunter and Jumper competition for riders of all ages. Competitions each day with an evening performance each day except Sunday. Visit Web Site Email

April 28: Improve your Riding Skills Clinic with Maggie Johnston. High Country Stables, 11600 Chambers Road, Beaver Dams. 
Two sessions: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. basic to intermediate. 1-3 p.m.: Intermediate to advanced. Bring a snack. Limit of 10 horse/riders per session. $50 per horse per session or $75 for both session. $10 audit fee, total for both sessions. For information, contact Maggie Johnston, 607-742-1925 or

April 28th -29th: CDCT Spring Clinic Kathy Wood-Copa Musical Freestyle Clinic at Suwinski’s Farm 451 Sheffield Rd, Ithaca NY contact Dinah Guarino;

April 28-29: Teach Your Horse a Trick:. Two-part clinic. Instructor: Germain Rivard, IPSAV, PhD, ACLAM-eligibile, Fellow in Behavior Medicince, Cornell University Hospital for Animals. $100 includes lunch and book, “Trickonometry.” Audit for $10, including lunch. Carriage House Arena (607) 387-3422. 25 Waterburg Road, Trumansburg, NY14886

April 29: Scott Purdum Clinic, Stoneybrook Farm on Sunday 428 Shaffer Road Newfield, NY (607) 564 0063  
The Advantage Horsemanship Method: Scott has dedicated himself to “Rehabilitating Horses One Owner at a Time” through his Advantage Horsemanship training method. The focal point of his training is the individual, customized attention given to students and their horses. With his proven training techniques and easy-to-understand instruction, Scott is able to help even the most difficult of horse/owner relationships. Using Scott’s four main training principles of Leadership, Exercise, Affection, and Discipline, you can be confident that you will have a willing partner in your horse.

Schedule: 9:30 – 12:00 ground work with you and your horse. 12:00-1:00 Lunch with Scott for riders 1:00-4:30 under saddle work with you and your horse. Price: 275.00 horse and rider(100.00 deposit with registration) 25.00 to audit (paid in full with registration) *Space is limited so first come first served with deposit till full. *Registrations with deposits (pay to Stoneybrook Farm) Clinic Registration

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On Training, Injuries, Selling

I doinked my knee the other night while working with Stormkite.   We had trained in the round pen and did our first ground driving session two nights earlier.  This night, he was more hyper than usual, so I let him canter around with the saddle on, getting rid of excess energy.

When I put the long-lines on him for ground driving, he seemed calm, but then he abruptly broke out of the round pen and started running all over the paddock, with all four mares joining him in one of the longest races-around-the-place I have ever witnessed.  Just as I thought he would start to peter out, his sister, Dee, would get him going again, or DeCato would.
Dee looking comfy in the round pen.

There he was, running about, tail up, my Duett saddle on his back, long lines trailing out behind.

All in all, it took my husband and I quite a while to settle everybody down, and for me to get him back to work.  I lunged and ground drove him successfully after that, but, during the fracas, I twisted my knee. 

So, now, I’m laid up and frankly, I’m tired of being laid up at the start of the riding season.   Fortunately, this injury is fairly minor, and I’m already walking better.  I’ll see a doctor on Monday to find out what I actually did to the knee, but rest, ice and ibuprofen have helped a lot.

My plan was to start Dee and Stormkite and sell them this summer.  As much as I love my happy little herd, I have known for some time that, once they were all old enough to ride, I would have too many horses to keep in work – at least, if I still wanted to work for a living myself, which I have to do to keep the horses in good health.  Ah, the vicious-cycleness of it all.

Stormkite seeking direction
And while I love training horses to be ridden, it's a tough gig, and I lose enthusiasm with each injury.  After many seasons of training-related injuries, it's time for me to enjoy the horses I have already trained and to get them beyond their perpetual greenness, into a career.

So, now, I’m switching to a different plan.  I’m going to send Dee and Stormkite out for training and selling.  I posted an ad on Craigslist and sent out a notice on COTH, and I’m now in the process of weeding through possible trainers, based on the many recommendations I have received.

While I could just pop them up for sale now, I want to give them the best chance to get a good home, and being rideable is the main criteria.  

But, that said, they are now officially for sale, so if one of you out there has been coveting these pretty, painted ponies, now’s your chance!  And, if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know a lot about Dee and Stormkite -- full disclosure!   

I’m still collecting trainer recommendations, so let me know if you have worked with a local trainer who is really skilled at giving horses a good start.
Hudson draws the camera and steals the scene.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Twin Tiers Horse Activities, April 19 - 22, 2012

I'm hoping it's a nice weekend, because there is a lot going on out there for horse enthusiasts.  It's exciting to see all these interesting activities in our area!
Have a great weekend with your horses!

April 19-22: 2012 IEA Hunt Seat National Finals 
NYS Fairgrounds, Syracuse: The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) was founded in 2002 to support the athletic efforts of middle and high school equestrians throughout the United States. The IEA provides membership and event structure for students to participate in Hunt Seat and Western competitions and serves over 7000 members in eight Active Zones comprised of states from coast to coast. 
The riders show in a draw-­type format that "levels the playing field," and prepares them for intercollegiate riding and scholarships. Riders from 6th grade through 12th grade are eligible to participate at regular shows throughout the school year with classes offered for all ability levels (beginner, novice, intermediate and open). Awards are given to the top individual riders and to the highest placing teams. 
Each spring, the top riders and teams are tested at the regional and zone level, and finally, the best from each division are invited to the IEA NATIONAL FINALS! Visit Web Site Email
April 21 or rain date April 22 Twin Tiers Trail Riders: Trail Clean up at PA Grand Canyon. Parking at the West Rim Parking lot across from the maintaince building. Bring your own clippers or saws for cleaning trails. 
Ride up the trails by horseback and stop to clear where needed. Double check before the date to make sure the forest service approved our request to help. Jeanne Root 570-596-3653
April 21-22: Stashia Newell Natural Horsemanship Clinic, Burdett, NY Contact:
April 21-22: 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. 
April 21 Western NY Dressage Association Challenge Series Show; Houghton College Equestrian Center; Houghton, NY Contact: Joanne Young; 585-567-4374;;
April 22: Grooming Clinic with Kelli Kidder at Mothersfield, Hogmire Road, Avon, NY.
Go to Clinics page for more info.
April 22 Twin Tiers Trail Riders: Outlet Trail (Dresden). Contact JoAnn Schwab at 607-739-2554 or
April 22nd - Welcome Spring II Show. If Only Farm, Ithaca, NY Judge: Susan Kantz;

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Many Construction Supervisors

Stormkite and DeCato examine the new construction.
Today I decided that I have been without a round pen long enough.  

I kept thinking I needed to order a steel one, somehow forgetting that I had a perfectly useful one at our old place made of T-posts and Horseguard electric tape.
Today I remembered, and put one up with Fiberglas poles and electric tape.  The horses watched me building it, as they grazed in the adjacent pasture.  When I pulled them into the dry lot, where the pen construction was underway, they investigated it from every angle with great interest and a bit of snorting.

I doubt they will be so interested in it once they realize it means work.

Hudson and Starlight consider the implications.
I’m better using a round pen for training than I am a longe line.  Trying to manipulate the line and a whip prevents my being able to use body language as clearly as I can in the round pen. My being able to use good body language helps the horses learn the verbal commands faster and more definitely, I think. 

I have found that my ponies trained in the round pen know “walk,” “trot,” “canter” and “whoa” very well and respond quickly to the requests.  Those trained on the line know the commands, but they are more sluggish to respond, especially to that all-important “whoa.”   I’m just not as good with the longe line, so I’m happy to have a round pen again. 

The gang squeeze in, as close as possible
Since I use those verbal commands when training them under saddle, being sure that they know them and will cooperate with them is critical.

I have also found that horses trained in the round pen take to longeing seamlessly.

Just as I finished installing the gate handles, the rain started coming down, so we didn’t get to try it out.  I’m hoping it will be dry enough tomorrow to get the pretty ponies going 'round and 'round.

Dee alerted me to her presence with a loud snort.

Perhaps wondering if it has something to do with food.

I felt a snorfle on my hair and took this one without looking round.  I knew it would be Stormkite!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Shedding Winter Coats and Blankets

I have been putting the horses out on grass every day for the last week or so, gradually building up the time they are out there, slowly getting their systems accustomed to grass again, after the long winter of eating nothing but hay.
Wads of old winter coat.

I'm using temporary fencing to force them into the long, lush-looking grass, preventing them from destroying the super-short, nibbled places that they so love.  

The short areas need more warm sun to grow tall enough for them to eat.  The long grass must be tough, but when it’s all they have, they choose it.
Tonight I pulled off their blankets and gave them each a good grooming before putting them out, producing great gobs of dandruffy winter hair. 

When I bring them in each night, they are still chewing.  Their grassy horse breath is so sweet and summery!
I was thinking that all the horses came through the winter in good weight.  Then I saw this.

Stormkite moves along when Hudson says so.
Starlight keeps me in her sights when I'm hanging around.
Dee swings by to say "hi" on her way to a new grazing spot.
DeCato doing her mustang imitation. Oh, yeah!  She IS a mustang.
The Boss.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Twin Tiers Horse Events, April 14-16, 2012

We have lots to choose from this weekend, horse fans!  From casual activities such as tack swaps to the sophistication of Vitor Silva, there is plenty to occupy horse enthusiasts this weekend.
I hope you have fun with your horses!

April 14: Lindberg Jumping Clinic, Nancy Novak's- Pompey Hollow Rd, Cazenovia;
April 14: Tack Swap and Sale at Painted Bar Stables; Burdett, NY 12-3 p.m. Buy and sell used tack, saddles, bridles, leads, barn supplies, etc. Contact Erika Eckstrom, Painted Bar Stables, 4093 Lake Avenue (Rte. 79) Burdett, NY 14818 • 607.216.8141
April 14: Troy Area Horseman’s Association Horseman's Fair , Alparon Park, Troy, 4H building. Doors open @ 9AM. Setup @ 8AM. Lots of new and used tack! Contact Amanda:
April 14-15: Dressage Show and Clinic: Foxmoor Farm invites you to join us for a weekend fun of fun & education!! Please join us for: Dressage Show & Combined Test, Saturday April 14, Intro -2nd Level Dressage or TOC; * Beginner- Novice Level Combined Test * Jumpers followed by: Dressage & Combined Training Clinic with Valerie Vizcarrando Sunday, April 15: Closing Date: April 2. More information:
April 14th – 16th: Vitor Silva Clinic at Brookside Farm, 4198 Duryea Rd, Moravia, NY contact

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Women's Horse Camp Looks Like Fun

This looks like a fun event, being organized by my friend, Wendy Youmans, owner of High Country Stables in Beaver Dams, NY.  

Wendy is offering a kids' horse camp this summer, but also decided to add a women's horse camp for the first time.  I know that Wendy throws great, horse-related activities at her beautiful facility.  This could be a fun get-away in the summer for horse women of the Twin Tiers.  Check it out!

We offer a 3-day equestrian adventure to improve your abilities on horseback through instruction and time in the saddle on trails.  The camp encourages you to challenge yourself  by improving your current riding skills and learning new ones with our patient instructors.   We have safe, experienced lesson horses available or you’re welcome to bring your equine friend.  This camp is designed from beginner to advance riders. 

Camp includes a two night stay and home-cooked meals.  Group lessons in our indoor riding arena with trainer Maggie Johnston and evening trail rides. 

If you would like to work on building a strong foundation with your horse we also have a variety of trail obstacles to work on.   Maggie Johnston can assist you with Showmanship, Horsemanship, Equitation, Trail or Beginner lessons with all disciplines available. 

Saturday will be an unforgettable fun filled day, including a limousine ride to the Finger Lakes wineries.  

Camp Schedule:
Friday AM – Lesson with Maggie – Friday Afternoon – Trail Ride and Obstacle Work
Saturday AM – Lesson with Maggie – Saturday Afternoon – Wine Tour
Sunday AM – Lesson with Maggie – Sunday Afternoon Trail Ride and Obstacle Work
Maximum Participants – 12

Bring your own camper or stay in our cabin tent (electricity & water available).  If you prefer a more modern stay there is a B&B close by.  Packages are based on your preference.
Onsite Camping - $475.00 (camper, horse trailer, open loft, or tent)
Or Bed & Breakfast – Located in Watkins Glen - $475.00 plus an additional $85 - $145.00 plus tax per night (depending on which location you select. 
For more info or to book your stay, contact Wendy: 607-962-1419 or

Sunday, April 8, 2012

On Grass and The Way Horses Destroy It.

Anyone who has a horse in her back yard has noticed that horses tend to eat the same grass over and over again, chomping it short, to the dirt.  They will continue to eat that short grass, while completely bypassing the long, lush grass growing in the same pasture.
The mowing crew at our old place.

When we were at the Horse World Expo in February, my husband sat in on a lecture on pasture management and passed along a few nuggets of information to me, enough to make me very interested in improving our grazing this year.

I decided to do a little additional research and found this article from the University of Vermont:  Elements of a Successful Horse Grazing System, by Gwyneth Harris, former VT Pasture Network Coordinator.

The horses at our new place, in what would become the sacrifice area.
In the few seconds it takes to decide if something is worth reading, this frustratingly true sentence encouraged me to stick with it: “A couple of other vagaries of evolution: horses developed the hoof—the most effective known method of destroying pasture plants; and horses have two sets of front teeth—the second most effective method of destroying pasture.”

The long and the short of it is (hahaha – Get it? Grass? Long? Short?), I am going to continue to improve my pasture preservation education and systems this year.

Stormkite and DeCato show where horses+rain=mud.
I do have experience in horse keeping on small acreage, as the book title says (Cherry Hill).  At our old house (just sold!  To a horse owner!), we kept up to five horses on about three acres of pasture.  I had just finished fencing another three acres when we moved (doh!).

I learned the hard way how quickly horses eat and destroy pasture, and did a lot of emergency reading on pasture management, rotational grazing and sacrifice paddocks.  By the time we moved, I had a system in place that allowed the mares to have grass all through the grazing season, but in small amounts, only a couple hours a day, and we fed hay all year.  

Here, we have about seven acres of fenced pasture for five horses, and I will be adding to that this year (the pasture, not the horses!)   I’m going to start the plans for a rotational grazing, paddock grid that will allow proper grass recovery and growth.   

One of the horse races that I love.
I like this idea because it will allow the horses to have good grass during every moment of our precious grazing season.   But, on the downside, it will also break up the pasture, preventing the huge, sweeping horse races that I love to watch when the herd gets playing. 

I just might have to build a racing lane in that grid!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Twin Tiers Horse Events, April 7-9, 2012

Here are this weekend's horse-related activities.  It's an interesting and diverse mix.  And we're supposed to have a beautiful holiday weekend, so, no matter what else you do, get out there and ride that pony!

I'll be updating the BIG calendar this weekend, so stay tuned.

April 7: NYS Horse Pullers Assoc. "Pull of Champions." The most prestigious pull in the Northeast and one of the top pulls in the country. Averaging between 15 and 20 entries per class. The finest horses from the United States and Canada competing! Visit Web Site Email
April 6-8 – Twin Tiers Trail Riders: Loyalsock State Forest, Eagles Mere, PA – Jeanne Root 570-596-3653 or Camping permit required. Be sure to get your permit from the State Forest Office. Info in the directions section. The camping can fill up quickly. This ride is weather permitting.

April 6-7: Horseman's Extravaganza, Bloomsburg Fairgrounds - Bloomsburg, PA
Event Type: 27th Annual Consignment Sale -Used Tack Exchange
Consign your item Friday, April 6th from 6-9 pm and Saturday, April 7th from 8-10 am.
Sale Starts at 10:30 a.m. Vendors also needed. Contact: Lottie Grasley
570-441-1799 for more information. Email:

April 9: Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine 45th Annual Open House. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.