Friday, 27 February 2015

Happy Birthday Moxie!

Like most horse people, I always have a dog at my side. Moxie has been my constant companion for the past 3 yrs during my time in Canada. Its really just us most of the time and I don't know what I'd do without her.

Moxie turns 9yrs old tomorrow. She may be considered an old lady in terms of dog age, but she is so young at heart and loves life with an inspiring kind of passion. It sounds silly to be inspired by a dog, but she is the one I get up for in the morning (figuratively and literally).

Best co-pilot:

She loves her people and even holds a special place in her heart for our vizsla Rogue (normally she ignores most other dogs).

When she first met Rogue:

Opening up to the idea of being friends:

All grown up and best friends now:

Nobody ever told her she was bred to be a poofy show dog, she loves swimming in dirty ponds, hangs out at the barn, chases cats, and hikes with us. She thinks she is a true bush dog and would rather hang around outside, paroling the back yard for squirrels then be sleeping inside. She's the kind of dog that can be a little aloof, but also knows when you've had a rough day and will let you cuddle her in bed and give you kisses when you need it most.

Running wild last in the halls just last week:

Snow moustache:

So darn cold at OUEA shows:

At least the barn link is heated at trainer H's place!:

Where Moxie would rather be:

Always playing fetch with anything available:

Thanksgiving together:

NC visit:

Listening to us go through the car wash after a long day at the barn:

Thanks Mox for helping me create and home away from home.
At the end of the day, you are always there for me:
What Logan thinks of the weather this month:

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Tall boot shopping!

I've been needing new tall boots for a while now. My current pair is an ancient set of old school pull on Ariats that are 3 times used and are really starting to show their age! My younger sister bought them used from a little tack store in NC, Waxhaw Tack exchange. She showed in them for a few years before she outgrew them. Then they came to me and my mother had our local cobbler put in zippers. I've had them for a few years now and they have been a perfect fit and so well broken in I can wear them all day. The dye from the inside of the boots is faded and the leather at the ankles is starting to develop little tears. We definitely didn't take the best care of these boots, we washed horses in them, sludged through paddocks, showed in them on sloppy days, and rarely cleaned them but they've lasted us quite awhile! For <$100 I feel like the boots don't owe me anything and its time to get my next pair.

I feel a little sentimental towards the boots because they've been with my sister and I through so many shows. This is extremely silly but I know I tend to get attached to inanimate objects if I feel they hold memories or are symbolically important.

Either way this means boot shopping!

I did buy two pairs of the Treadstep DaVinci field boots from TOTD. While a bit big in the calf they worked for my sister and she shows in them today. The first picture is brand new, the second is after being broken in. The calf is still a little bulky and unfitted but the ankle looks better.

I stubbornly refused to use mine sticking to my old boots because I really didn't like the fit on me. I think the plan is to resell them online because I won't willingly put those things back on. They really are quite nice to look at but just not my shape unfortunately. They have great reviews online

Once I get my ass in gear to sell the DaVincis I think the pair I'm interested in is  the TuffRider Sport Dress boots. Some call them Par'want'ies which I think is super suitable considering its essentially a copy cat look with cheap materials/ make. The leather is super thin and the elastic gusset probably isn't that strong but I would do my best to only wear them occasionally. I know they are far from quality but I really don't show on a high level or regularly any more so I might as well get a pair I like the look of but don't need them to hold up to high standards. I also HATE HATE HATE breaking in new boots and these look like they would go right on like half chaps from the first ride.

Tuff Rider Sport Dress Boot

It would be super nice to get a beautiful, sturdy pair of boots but at this point I don't need a pair like that to show/ lesson in occasionally.

I don't want to just toss my old boots so they will stay as backups. I'm a little bit of a hoarder so I tend to hold on to stuff but I think I have a good enough reason in this case.

Bonus picture of my sister with her horse Vera!:

They recently won the medium child/adult jumper classic at HITS Ocala out of 50+ pairs!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Recognize this bit? (Found!)

This is the bit I've been riding in and just love how it doesn't pinch. Even a normal loose ring snaffle with the rubber protectors can irritate the sides of mouth but this has given those little sores time to heal up.

Problem is I can't seem to find one I could purchase for myself! If anybody knows where I can find one, I'd love to know.

Edited to add: I got some help from the COTH forums and I'll be ordering from the Farm House, not far from my home in NC! Link here If you google "Loose ring eggbutt snaffle" they aren't hard to find, I just didn't realize what I was looking for.

I visited Waterloo last night for my Waterloo trainer's birthday and it was super nice to see my little barn family. I started feeling excited about showing again this summer but I know it will be tough to manage as I will also be on a school term.

Most importantly I got to have a little visit with Logan. He has always done this peanut butter lick like a dog after any kind of treat (his favorite being fuzzy peaches but he isn't picky).
We went for a little bareback (blankets on of course) walk with just a halter and it felt nice to just relax with him while he stretched his legs. He is being kept in work by his part-boarder and a working student so I think he is happy with the attention!

Back in the fall when it was still warm!:

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Coldest day of the year

It was too cold to ride here today at -40C, so instead I took Moxie and we just went to the barn to tidy up some ponies and bling out my new little trunk.

All I can say is thank goodness for the lovely heated barn! I pulled out a few ponies to dust off and braided some manes over. Even though I may not always get I ride I can still appreciate quality time at the barn with the horses.

The most exciting part of my visit was sticking my blingy monogram to my new little Stanely trunk. I swore I wouldn't collect enough horse things to warrant having a tack trunk but here we are again. I have enough tack and supplies in Canada to outfit an entire equine and don't even lease/own a damn horse. This includes three bridles??? Not entirely sure how this happens but I finally gave in and bought myself a cheap indestructible Stanely.

The blingy initials:

Getting picture frames at Michaels is my excuse for impulse buying these sparkly abominations.

In other news I'm still super allergic to cats:

I'm their best friend every time I bend over to zip my boots or reach for something on the shelving. They jump onto my lap, sit on my shoulders and even try to coil up on my head sometimes. My closed up throat and itchy eyes is a symbol of my love for fluffy affectionate animals no matter the consequences.

In other other news my younger sister won the Child/Adult Jumper classic today in HITS Ocala out of 53! She has worked so hard to transition into the jumpers and adjust to the new horse and its paid off wonderfully during her first FL showing expedition! I'm so beyond proud and l wish I could have been there to cheer for her, and probably cry when she got her ribbon.

Valentines Day lessons

While the horses may be my only valentines this year, we made the best of it during a revelation loaded lesson.

My revelation was along the lines of the three points of contact of the leg. If you look at this picture of Sydney Hutchins at the GM 2015 Horsemastership program you can see how wonderfully her leg is draped around her horse.

I have a tendency to almost stand in my stirrups and turn my toes out drastically which removes my knee from contacting the saddle and puts the back on my calf in contact with the horse instead of the inside.

This in a way is constantly pressing the 'go' button on the horse. The back of my calf presses into the horse rather then the inside resting on them. This explains so much in terms of the reactions I get on the back side of fences when I usually have a strong horse. I had always inferred it was the habit of the horse when in reality it was me accidentally making them tense by not releasing the 'go' button. I tend to do this a few strides out and over the fence. By turning my toe in, relaxing my leg, and focusing on connecting through my entire leg I had a more effective way of communicating softly. While my muscle memory of standing in my stirrups is difficult to ignore, the difference was immediate and along the lines of miraculous. My horse came back softly after the fences and quietly trotted in to fences where a few minutes before I had been playing tug of war with a heavy horse. I've been told before to 'relax my knee' and even had my stirrups tied to my girth but never really understood the purpose. While it will be tough to retrain my muscle memory that I've had for so long, this is such an imperative basic that needs to be corrected.

Lillie Keenan and her perfectly draped leg at the Devon Horse Show 2014:

Comparison of my braced leg (yes all my photos feature this lovely habit):

I was a little ashamed when I realized my basic riding has such a huge flaw. I felt like banging my head against the wall once I realized what habit I had fallen into and the subtle but negative reactions it was eliciting from the horses I ride. What I want more then anything at this point is to be a better, more effective rider, and it can be frustrating to realize that in a sense I've been 'practicing' the wrong thing for so many years. In the short term it will be frustrating to go back to basics and jumping small fences to correct my issue gradually. In the long term its in the best interest of my riding to fix this now so I can rebuild the base of the house again so I eventually can have a sturdy structure.

Horses and riding have this amazing talent of reminding you that riding is a constant learning process and that sometimes we might have to take a few steps back before going forward again.

Monday, 9 February 2015

OUEA February 8th

So this past Sunday UWaterloo attended the OUEA show being hosted by UofToronto at Old Orchard Farms. This is the second last show before finals so its getting down to the nitty gritty for point chasing.

As I'm in London, I was able to catch a ride with some fellow competitors from Western to make the trek to Guelph. It was an early 4:30am morning and despite my plan to sleep during the trip I spent most of the time swapping stories with the Western riders in the carpool. We speculated about the horses we might draw and swapped OUEA stories.

It was a frigid day at OOF, but you can't expect much more from Canada in February. Even with all the layers I felt frozen before even paying our captain for entry fees!

I borrowed a book which holds the draw information and was instantly relieved and content. I think over my time in the OUEA I've developed a little bit of anxiety around my over fences draw. I definitely have a nervous mind at shows and a few iffy experiences with some draws in the past leaves me a little anxious about what I might have to ride and try to contain over fences. I know OOF has several great Open division horses that are super reliable, but this isn't the case with all facilities. We occasionally select riders we know are extra sticky in the saddle for certain shows where we have had past exciting experiences with draws. All the open horses donated and provided by the facility yesterday are wonderful and we had the luxury of getting some super competitive well broke mounts.

 Anyway, I had drawn my favorite OUEA horse, an absolute superstar and equitation horse pro. This is my second time drawing him this season, our round from the early January Guelph show can be seen here: We were 3rd in a very tight class, and he always leaves me with a super feeling. This horse is a star with a lot of show miles under his belt and the patience of a saint. He was actually my first ride ever in the OUEA during my first year! Outdoor pictures are from 2013 from my first OUEA show

 January 2015:

You can see our round from the UofT show this weekend (February) here:

I was on him second, the first rider did 5 strides in the bending lines. It looked super nice but it was too much for a small indoor arena and it had walked closer to a 6. I went with bowing out and waiting which presented more polished corners after and was more consistent with our general pace. I let my reins get a little long after the trot jump which resulted in my hands being down in my lap but he listened and waited for me beautifully. This horses jump is so smooth, soft, and lovely and I don't feel any hesitation when I ask for something from him. We didn't take the inside turn in our rollback, I always land thinking so slow and straight as a result of my hunter past and kind of missed the opportunity to ask him to turn. I was pleased with our round, a few wiggles and a few slightly tighter lines. We were 6th, I was quite surpised with that as I was super happy with our round and hadn't seen anything too impressive in the other rounds. I was expecting more 2nd or 3rd. I'll be the first to tell you I'm a bit of a sore loser, and get quite competitive when I think I have a good chance so please excuse my whining! I realize this is a subjective sport with human judges, and some days I'll get a ribbon I don't deserve to balance it out.

On the flat I had a lovely well broke draft type mare who had turned in some nice over fences rounds for her riders. I thought I was in for a lovely treat in our flat class! Turns out this was one smart mare and once we reversed direction it was like trying to keep a super caffeinated child standing still. This resulted in a little bit of an explosion when we cantered. I lightly nudged about the same pressure as the first direction and was given a buck instead. I think she was offended that I was 'telling' instead of 'quietly whispering' since she already knew the game plan. Either way, it was a much stronger reaction then I expected and ended up slightly on her neck but quickly sat back up and pressed on to a nice canter. Too bad it was right in front of the judge. I did my best to sit the canter and keep my hands up while trying not to look like a potato rider. We did perform a lovely turn on the haunches and extended trot that I think helped null the explosion and we were 5th. I was quite surprised I got a ribbon, and didn't expect one even without the explosion.

It was a long frigid day, the kind where you give up on feeling your toes and think you might have frostbite on your legs that don't have snowpants on. I think the cold makes us all stiff and tight and poses an extra challenge when you go from freezing to riding your course, back to freezing within 5 minutes. Hopefully our last show before finals in March will provide some relief from this winter showing! While I wasn't happy with our placings and my ranking will suffer a bit, I'm happy with the way I rode.

Overall the team was great! We all got a ribbon and did decently well in all divisions resulting in high point team! Go UWaterloo! I expect this will move us back into first as a team for OUEA West.

We returned to London, arriving around 6:30pm, I showered and crawled into bed to finish defrosting. I could sleep for an age. Next show is March 8th!


Something I've been considering writing about is the horse situation in the OUEA. You might of noticed both times I've written about OUEA shows, its been horses I seem familiar with and may have ridden 2-3 times already within the past year. Is it truly a level playing field if the more time I spend in the OUEA chances are I have already ridden most regular donated horses? Can we call it catch riding if the host barns have even taken lessons on these horses and have known them multiple years?