Saturday, January 25, 2014

Twin Tiers Horse Activities, Jan. 25-26, 2014

Once again, the dressage folks show their tough enough to do the Winter of 2014, and they are offering two dressage clinics this weekend.  There's also a show down in the Northern Tier.

Whether you go out or stay in, have a great time with your horse this weekend!

Ashley Haffey Dressage at Second Chance Thoroughbreds
When: Saturday, Jan 25, 2014
Where: Spencer, NY, United States (map)
Description: Ashley Haffey of Lane Cove Dressage will offer a clinic at Second Chance Thoroughbreds. Contact:

Birchtown Stables 7th Annual Winter Show Series
When: Saturday, Jan 25, 2014
Where: Birchtown (map)
Description: Birchtown Stables 7th Annual Winter Show Series Throwback 2014 December 7th • January 25th • February 8th • March 8th • April 5th Hunters and Equitation Shows Start at 9:30am

Michelle LaBarre Dressage Clinic - Black Points Farm
When: Jan 25 26, 2014
Where: Honeoye Falls, NY, United States (map)
Description: Jan 25-26: 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.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

By George, I Think I've Got It!

DeCato and Starlight are good sharers.
I can’t even remember when I first said I was going to build the perfect slow feeder, custom made especially for the small, round hay bales that we make here at Toad Song Farm.  

Suffice it to say that it has been a LONG time since I first said it.
Well, today the plan became reality and we now have two "new" bale feeders, strategically positioned so no one (read: Hudson) can hog all the hay.  

The design was not quite the perfect one I had in mind, but I think the result is even perfecter, because they came together quickly, with horse-proof containers I already had on hand.   I just had to order some hockey net, custom cut to size, and put it all together. 

Hudson sharing?  This can't last long.
It’s not an original design, exactly.  I have studied so many slow-feeders that I definitely stole this idea from someone, somewhere, or at least something close to it.   

Basically, we have a small-hole hockey net secured inside a 100-gallon water trough.  Drop in a bale, cut and remove the baling twine, and pull tight the draw-string, rope closure. Poof!  A strong, horse-worthy slow hay feeder.
I knew it.
Now there will be no more wasted hay.  Just a clean, dry, little bale for steady noshing.  This should be entertaining for them and provide that steady, small amount of roughage I’m always trying to achieve for their quirky digestive tracts.

And so far, the two feeders I made have passed a critical milestone: The Hudson Destruction Test.  She immediately tried to dismantle them with her usual brute force, so she could get to the hay faster, but she failed!
To each, her own, sort of.

Ha-ha, Hudson!  You’re stuck nibbling tiny amounts of hay through those annoying little holes, instead of throwing the whole bale all over the place, gobbling down the best bits for yourself and peeing on the rest.

I think I'm going to like this!

Twin Tiers Horse Activities, Jan. 18-19, 2014

I have found just one event to tell you about this weekend.  But one is better than none when it comes to horse activities, right?

Birchtown offers the next show in its winter show series, and my hat is off to this Northern Tier stable that is brave enough to even have a winter show series in the Northeast this year!  So if you need a horse activity fix, head to this Pennsylvania barn.

Birchtown Stables Winter Show Series
When: Sunday, Jan 19, 2014
Where: Forrest City
Description: Birchtown Stables 6th Annual Winter Show Series 2013: November 17-18, December 1-2, January 19, February 9-10, March 9-10, April 13-14

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cold Weather Gear Tips Here!

Wow.  That’s all I can say as I think about horse keeping over the past 30 days.  Cold winter weather makes all horse care activities exponentially harder, but this winter, so far, has bumped it up a notch.

Cold-weather selfie with DeCato. Nice sleeve.
I have been doing it for 10 years in New York’s Twin Tiers, and was an active helper when my family kept horses, in my youth, in the foothills of the Catskills.  So I have tried every just about every product made for winter horse keeping on the market.  Most of these revolve around watering horses and keeping water from freezing – heated buckets, heated hoses and the like.

But there is also one’s personal warmth to consider, and this year’s double-digit-below zero, so called “polar vortex” tested the best of us in this department.

If you’re in the Twin Tiers, you probably have your own system (which may include, wisely, full-care boarding at someone ELSE’S barn!), but, just in case you’re still searching for the best cold-weather gear for horse chores, here’s how I roll:

These, plus a matching long-sleeved top.
First layer: Just bought some of the new, skin-tight, moisture-wicking, techno thermal top and bottoms from Dick’s Sporting Goods.  Not only do they work really well, but they are black, so when I wear them without a top layer, I become a Ninja and turn invisible.  In terms of type and brand, I avoided anything with cotton in them.  As much as I love cotton, it tends to get damp.  My top is a different brand than my bottoms, because I could fit into a kid’s top and it was about half the price of the lady’s, but I couldn’t fit into the kid’s bottoms!  But they are the same materials, so a good match. I think they are Reebok and Addidas, but they are in the wash at the moment so I can’t check.

Socks: Anything that is mostly wool, especially merino, 70 to 90 percent, with just a touch of stretchy material so they don’t sink or wad up.  I wear wool socks all year long now, because I love them so much.  And yes, even a pair of light wool hiking socks cost around $15, so you have to be a serious sock geek to dress yourself in these all the time.  To me, they are worth it because they help your feet feel dry and comfy under every type of boot, sneaker, shoe.  I grab them on sale and also ask for them for Christmas, birthday, Valentine's Day, anniversary...

Pants: I wear men’s Wrangler work jeans from Tractor Supply for barn work.  Why is it that the denim in men’s work jeans is so much thicker than women’s?  The trick is finding some that fit.  Men are not built the same as women, apparently, especially around the hips.  But I squish my hips in and these things last forever.

Shirt: A simple cotton turtle neck suits me on top of the techno underwear.  If necessary, a second, bigger one goes on (it’s purple and has a Vikings logo, being cast-off from my husband, so I only wear it if desperate.  Go Pack).

Usually these.
Next: Insulated overhauls (Schmidt, from Tractor Supply again). These are boring brown and have elastic suspender straps.  I have had them for years, when I was a size large, so they are very big on me and the crotch hangs at approximately my knees. But these are the best for going out in the real cold.

Coat: Winter work coat, also by Schmidt/Tractor Supply.  Ancient, stained, bleached, still going strong.
Gloves: For the super cold, below-zero, I switch from waterproof Schmidt gloves to the women’s Goretex Pinnacle Gloves from Cabella’s (They are on sale now: here.)  They are no good for work requiring fingers, but are good for mucking and carrying buckets.  They are the warmest I have found.
Always these.
Boots: Cold toes are a big problem for me.  I have searched and searched for THE boots that will keep my toes from turning white, and I know now that those boots don’t exist.  I use Wildcat boots from LL Bean. They are warm (for normal people with normal toes), light and waterproof, and I can happily hike in them as well as do barn chores.  Sometimes I switch to my pair of the huge, bulky, Sorel snowmobile boots, but they are not as necessary, thanks to the next essential items:

Toe Warmers: I pretty much don’t go out for any period of time when the weather is below 45 degrees without these little chemical pads adhered to my socks.  It solves the cold toes problem, and allows me to wear the lighter boots.  I put them on the sock on TOP of my toes, not the bottom.  They work better that way. I buy them by the case from Amazon.  These also double as…

Hand warmers: I started using them in my gloves this year, when we got to zero and below, and, again, they were a lifesaver.   They keep me from resorting to using my mares' butt cracks to warm up painfully cold fingers, so the mares probably like them too.

With Crabby.  Warm day at 33 F!
Hat: Just a simple winter cap, with the coat hood up on top of it as needed.

Headlamp: Fantastic invention. Don’t forget to turn it off when you want to snuggle your horse’s face, or you’ll blind them!

Scarf: I add it in the below-freezing weather to cover my face. I may look for a ski mask for this purpose though.

How about you?  Do you have any fantastic cold-winter gear tips that you want to share? 

Stay warm, peeps!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Twin Tiers Horse Activities, Jan. 11-12, 2014

We don't have any new horse activities scheduled in the Tiers this weekend.


But the Big Calendar is filling up all the time with 2014 activities!


So peruse the Big Calendar and plan your plans, goal your goals and dream your dreams.  It won't be that long before the riding season is upon us!

And have a great time with your horse this weekend.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Twin Tiers Horse Activities, Jan. 4-6, 2014

The rodeo folks prove their toughness once again by holding an event this terribly cold weekend.  And while I'm talking tough, ladies' bullriding, anyone?

If your horse hasn't blown away or turned into a frozen horsecycle, have a great time with him or her this weekend!

PCRA Rodeo in Rush NY

When:  Sunday, Jan 5, 2014

Where: Rush, NY, United States (map)


PCRA Event. Date: January 5th Starting Time: 1:00 pm.

Admission-$10 at the gate. Kids 12 and under $5. Location: Stony Brook Stables. Rush NY. Contractor: Cross Over the Line Rodeo Co.

Events include--Bull Riding. Jr and Ladies Bull Riding. Cowgirls Barrel Racing. Break Away Pen Roping. Chute Dogging. Jr and Ladies Goat Tying. Team Sorting. Team Penning. Bull riders must call in to enter!

Books open from Monday thru Friday Night at 8:00 pm. Prior to event! PCRA call in number (716) 525-6011. Fees: BR $30. JRB $10. LBR $10. CBR $20. CBAR $10. Chute Dogging $10. Jr and Ladies Goat Tying $10. Team Penning $10 per man. Sorting $10 per man. Exhibition fees. Bull Riding-$15 per bull. Jr Bull Riding-$5 per bull. Ladies Bull Riding-$5 per bull. Barrel Racing-$5 per run. Breakaway Pen Roping-$5 per run. Jr and Ladies Goat Tying-$5 per run. Chute Dogging-$5 per run. Team Penning-$7 per man, per run. Team Sorting-$7 per man, per run.

All "timed event" contestants that attend Cowboy Fellowship will receive a free Exhibition run in one of your event choices. Cowboy Fellowship starts at 1:00 pm. Rodeo starts at 2:00 pm. PCRA RODEO MEMBERSHIP. All rough stock riders and barrel racers must purchase a PCRA Membership card in order to count for the 2014 PCRA points and awards.

Non card holders must purchase a $7 day permit. (If a non card holder attends cowboy Fellowship, $7 day permit charge will be waved) All contestants must show proof of health insurance! (Pro Rodeo Dress Code is in effect) (NO ALCOHOL ON GROUNDS) Address to rodeo grounds. (375 Stony Brook Rd, Rush NY) Please share our event on your wall and invite your friends!

For more info contact Louis Backlas at 716-525-6011.