Monday, April 29, 2013

Next Step: Taking Flight

Black and white mares, it's time to meet the red, black and white poles....

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Tale of Two Pintos

Yesterday was about as perfect a riding day as we’ll get in the Twin Tiers.  It was sunny and cool, but warm enough to ride without a jacket.  The breeze was still, yet it’s too early for flies. 

I took advantage of it with outings on the two mares I ride, Starlight and Hudson.  Starlight went for over an hour, walk, trot and canter, on a hilly dirt road nearby.  When we were done, she looked like this:
"Ho-hum. What's next?"

Hudson went for a mere half-hour to the top of our property and back, and when we were done, she looked like this:
"I can run like the wind, jump like an antelope, pull like a ... phew, I'm tired."

The back story: Starlight is obviously in better condition, naturally smaller and while fat, not as bulbous as Hudson.  She and I have been conditioning since the beginning of April and she is a mare who conserves her energy.   True to her stock horse ancestry, when she sets out, she seems to have the expectation that we are going to be out on the range for the day, mending fence and chasing steer, and she uses just the right amount of energy to accomplish what needs to get done.

Hudson, on the other hand, was on her second ride of the year.  She seemed to set out with the attitude that she was wearing her PF Flyers and was determined to run faster and jump higher. (The Baby Boomers will recognize that reference, anyway).  If there was a six-inch trickle of a stream, she gave it a good three feet on either side.  If there was 10-inch log, she gave it the three feet on either side and an extra two feet up.   If a trot was called for, it was a big, boingy trot.  If we flushed a deer, her spook was a super-charged, off-track locomotive.  You get the idea. 

Ten minutes in, and she was huffing and puffing like a steam engine, but this did not diminish her enthusiasm.  All this from a 1300-pound half-draft pinto who is grossly overweight but thinks she’s Zenyatta.  And that’s why I waited to ride her until my knee was further along in it healing process. 

Lucky for me, I now know the secret to keep my saddle from slipping while riding a rubbery, witherless barrel, so the Freefrom stayed put on her, as it did on Starlight.  The secret, by the way, is having long billets and a short girth that buckles just a couple inches above the elbow.  More info can be found here:
With my constant goal of  dropping stuff that doesn't help and maybe impedes the horse, I have ditched nosebands (unless required for competition.)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Random Notes Saturday

Q: What is one of the first things you learned to do around horses?
A: Move your toes quickly so they don’t get crushed.

I failed this most basic lesson in horse management this week when tight quarters and two creatures with different opinions on which way they should be going met at the foot.  Unfortunately, at this particular meeting point, MY foot was under the pony’s, and this colorful appendage is the result.  Sorry for the gross-out photo.
Hey, if my only fracture this season is a toe, I'm good.
In other news, I have been busily using craigslist this morning to post things for sale. Craigslist is one of the most useful inventions for buyers and sellers on the planet, despite it being the brunt of a huge number of (well-deserved) jokes. 

Whenever I post something on it, I remember the painful and expensive days of trying to cram a sensible description of something for sale into a three-line classified ad in the local paper that ended up costing half-a-month’s rent, then waiting a week for it to be published.

Hudson models how amply our hay has filled her belly.
One of these ads includes some hay for sale, so if anyone needs some to carry them over, we have some up available.   Hudson was my model this morning for the hay ad, naturally, since, if I put out a single bale, the other two have no chance of getting near it – not when the Queen is guarding it with every intention of not sharing a single stem. 

It's going to be a great riding weekend in the Twin Tiers, so I hope you all get out there and enjoy!  . 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Twin Tiers Horse Activities, April 24-28, 2013

Horse shows and clinics are popping up all over the Twin Tiers this weekend.  Look down the list and pick something out.  Whatever you do, just make sure you have fun with your horse!

Syracuse PHA Horse Show
When: April 24 -  Apr 28, 2013
Where: Syracuse (map)
Description: Syracuse PHA Horse Show. The 62nd Annual Syracuse Chapter PHA Horse Show with "A" Rated Hunter and Jumper competitions for riders of all ages. Competitions each day with an evening performance each day except Sunday. Daily start time: Wed. 1:30pm, Thurs. and Fri. 8am, Sat. and Sun. 7:30am
Heavenbound Farm Clinic with Charles de Kunffy and lecture by Sports Psychologist Dr. Kathy Kelly.
When: Friday, Apr 26, 2013
Where: Rome (map)
Description: Heavenbound Farm Clinic with Charles de Kunffy and lecture by Sports Psychologist Dr. Kathy Kelly. Call our office at 410-885-3824 to register

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rites of Spring

Yes, this is normally a horse blog, but since most horse people also own dogs, I thought I would present you with a photo essay of an annual spring ritual occurring here at Toad Song.

Meet Rita, the giant schnauzer.

Before: Large hairy mammalian.  Probably yeti.  Potentially yak.  Possibly canine. 

During: Highly pathetic amid her former pounds of hair.

As shocked as the rest of us.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Twin Tiers Horse Events, April 20-21, 2013

We have a couple of juicy activities this weekend, horse fans!

If you loved Pony Club and want to be involved again, here's your chance.  The Southern Tier Puddle Jumpers are hosting a Pony Club judge training seminar in Greene. 

And if you and your horse are ready to show (unlike my fluffy fatties) head up to If Only Farms for their first 2013 show.  Or just get your horse fix by going up as a spectator and scope out this year's competition.

Whatever you choose to do, have a great time with your pony!

Assistant Horse Management Pony Club Judge Training Seminar w/ Eva Haraty
When: Sunday, Apr 21, 2013
Where: Greene (map)
Description: Southern Tier Puddle Jumpers Pony Club is pleased to announce an Assistant Horse Management Judge Training Seminar with Eva Haraty on Sunday April 21st from 9 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Windancer Farm in Greene, NY. 
We highly encourage all sponsors, volunteers, parents, interested members of Pony Club and Horsemasters to attend this event. This is a great way to develop an understanding of Pony Club/Horsemasters and to learn how it works on the club, regional, and national level. 
The morning portion of this seminar is focused towards teaching current and future volunteers to become Assistant Horse Management Judges. We need qualified individuals that have participated in this event in order to support our Pony Club at mounted and unmounted meetings. If you are an interested adult volunteer, this is a great way to learn how you can help our club. This event will be geared to both kids and adults.
Everyone is welcome to attend. Topics of Discussion Include: · Safety Checks · Formal Inspection · Informal vs. Formal Attire (demonstrated by Pony Club members) · Pony Club Ratings/Certificates · Rally Tackroom/Stall Set-up · Required Equipment This event will conclude with an informational meeting on Horsemasters. Membership applications will be available throughout the seminar for Pony Club & Horsemasters. Please contact our club for more information. *Please bring a chair & RSVP to let us know you are coming! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Break out the backhoe, honey! I have a plan.

I took Hudson for a walk yesterday to a part of our property that, while fairly close to the house, we had not fully explored.  It’s an overgrown area between our best hay field and the creek.  I call it the orchard, because it is full of ancient apple trees.  Clever, aren’t I?

Maxing the tape at 1300+ lbs, Hudson weighs in on her need for exercise.
And even though I haven’t really spent time with the details, I have big plans for those four or five overgrown acres.  The are going to be transformed into a riding path and jump course.

So yesterday, with both Hudson and I needing some exercise, I hand-walked her to that field of daydreams.  After this week’s torrential rains, the orchard is a soggy place, with what might be a vernal spring running diagonally across it.  It is heavily weeded with little grass, and a few deer paths meander randomly through it.
A view of the orchard

However, I spotted a couple of jumps already waiting to be developed, and that vernal stream could make an excellent water obstacle, if properly corralled.

Mwah-ha-ha! This year, I learn to use large construction equipment.  

On a related note, it seems like Starlight is ready for some cross-country action.  

Ancient stone wall = future jump
Yesterday we were in the final 15-minutes of a conditioning ride when Pete (of Pete of the Cows) came up behind us with his big white truck and trailer.  Pete is always very considerate when he passes us, and he slowed down.  
However, it was Starlight's first time being passed by a truck pulling a big aluminum stock trailer.  I knew she was tense, but I didn't expect what she did next: She used that big, stockhorse arse of hers to leap from a near standstill over the roadside ditch and up into the neighbor's dormant hayfield.

A fallen hemlock offers both high and low jumps
She threw me off balance a bit, but good girl that she is, she didn't attempt to dump me after that action, and we stopped on the other side, and likely both of us were thinking, "What the hell just happened?"

The fun part of this is we needed to jump the ditch again to get back on the road.  She doesn't know it, but these nice jumps clued me in on just what kind'a action she got! 
A dust mask is now part of my regular stablewear, both when I feed hay and when I groom muddy critters. Achoo!