Saturday, 30 January 2016

Planning for a Show Debut

I volunteered this morning at a local hunter schooling show.  Apollo and I will be attending a show in the same series at the end of February.  I didn't take any pictures at the show so this post will instead be broken up by a few of my recent attempts to take selfies with Apollo and Mystic.

Am I good at taking selfies with ponies? Neigh.

I'm glad I decided to volunteer!  I wanted to get a sense of how things run but mostly I wanted to get a better idea of what to wear (ha!).  I don't think I've ever been to a hunter show, if I have it was so long ago that I don't remember anything about it.  I only ever did Pony Club shows (and that was about 15 years ago!).  I am a complete hunter noob.

This show is referred to as a "fat and fuzzy" show and is supposed to be very casual in terms of attire.  I haven't bought any items yet as I didn't want to look ridiculously over or under dressed.

Here's what I observed in terms of attire (separated into horse/rider categories):

- Hairnets on about 50% of riders
- About 80% of riders wore traditional hunt show coats (or at least what I picture as a traditional hunt show coat in my limited experience), the rest wore non-traditional coats or show shirts/sweaters
- Coat colors were about 50% black, 30% navy, 15% brown and 5% grey 
- All riders wore white shirts (except two)
- A few riders had bling on their bridles, boots, belts or coats 
- Black gloves
- 100% wore tan breeches
*I didn't really  look at boots/footwear because I'm already set up in this department!*

- Very few braided (maybe 10% of all horses were braided, only one horse with a braided mane and tail)
- 80% of horses were wearing shaped fuzzy white pads and 20% were either in white or colored AP pads
- Brown bridles/saddles 
- A few breastplates

So I stayed for the 18", 2', 2'3" and the start of the 2'6" class.  There was maybe 30 riders spread out between those classes.  The 2'6" was the largest with the most well turned-out horses.  I was disappointed that I wasn't able to watch the rest of the 2'6" classes or the bigger classes.  Had to go to work unfortunately!

Coach D told me I could just wear a nice sweater...but I think I will get a basic black hunter-ish looking coat.  Maybe something that could serve a dual purpose as a dressage/show-jumping coat for my low level eventing plans for this season (is that a reasonable idea?).

So after today here's what I've decided need to be ready for the show:

1) White fuzzy shaped pad
2) Brown bridle (I already have my eye on one!)
3) Black gloves
4) White show shirt
5) Black hunt/show coat 
6) Hairnet
7) Tan breeches

Although I think I can get most of those items used I will likely buy a new white fuzzy pad, new hairnet and will buy the new bridle I've been eyeing rather than a used one.  My mom's best friend is an awesome seamstress so if I can find a coat/shirt long enough for my arms she can take it in for me (within reason).  I don't really plan to do any further showing in the hunter world (other than dabbling in schooling shows with Apollo and my young horses) so although I like fancy things...I don't need fancy things.  I'm hoping to get all my supplies for the show for under $200... which I think is reasonable.  I think after the show I'll do a follow-up post about if I managed to stay on budget or not.

Ready to be a hunter pony Apollo?  

Lucky for me I already have decent field boots, so I don't need to buy anything new in the footwear department.  They are actually the same field boots I wore to Pony Club 15 years ago - so they've served me well! :)

The atmosphere at the show was quite fun and relaxed.  I think it will be a really positive outing for Apollo and I.  I had been waffling about doing the flat class for my division a bit... after today I think I'm going to go for it.  I was worried it would be packed full of horses but there was only 3 or 4 horses in the flat classes for each division.

I have a few aesthetic things to torture Apollo through before the show...such as:

1) A bath
2) Feather, beard and belly hair trimming
3) Mane thinning
4) Braiding practice....hahah poor guy. 

Anyone have any show tip preps for me?  Looking at you Stacie :P

Currents feelings about the show:

Friday, 29 January 2016

VCBH Planner Peek!

Organization is not a strong suit of mine.  But I'm working on it!  I'm pretty busy these days and in order to make sure I get everything done.... I have become a bit of a planning nerd.   

One of my best friends bought me a beautiful Kate Spade planner for my 30th birthday.  Lucky me! 


My only caveat for planners is that I like to see the whole month when I open it.  Because I'm a hoarder multi-horse owner it's super helpful to see the whole month in advance so I make sure everyone is getting a fair amount of attention.  Some weeks one horse will get more attention than the others so I make sure to plan additional time for the others in the following weeks.

I think next year I'm going to splurge on an Erin Condren planner.  Because they look fabulous.

I would love to go electronic but I don't trust my phone (or my clumsy fingers).  I actually screwed up two farrier appointments last year trying to set reminders in my phone.

Thanks L. for the fun blog hop!   It's interesting to see how other people organize their lives :)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job

Henry leaves for school in a week!  I'm kind of a bundle of excitement/nerves at this point. 

This was on the back of our Xmas card :) 

I'm really looking forward to the trainer's thoughts on him.  And I'm trying not to think too far into the future (ie. if Coach D doesn't want to ride him....how the eff will I have time to ride him?  And my daily feelings about keeping him longterm waffle by the hour...

I didn't do much with him last week but we had a fun liberty/in-hand session yesterday.  He's actually quite fun to play with at liberty. 

I also gave him his spring "hair cut" a bit early.  I don't pull manes (I suck at it and I read some article a million years ago that claimed it was painful that continues to haunt me).  I cut them.
Señor Bowlcut


I know this is a bit cringe-worthy to most proper equestrians but it works ok for me!  I do one big cut and then slowly even it out over a week or two.  I didn't want Henry's long winter mane getting in the way at the trainer's place.  I also banged his tail again.

Tarpmaster Henry

He has a hair cut and is ready to get a real job! :)

Wednesday, 20 January 2016


I can't even believe the words I am about to type.

I sold the DK Saddle!  

After my two lousy rides in it on Mystic I put it up for sale.  I had a ton of interest (which is odd as I've tried to sell it a million times) but the first lady to try it out took it on a two day trial.  She was the nicest person I've ever met.  We sat down and had a coffee and chatted horse while I waited for her e-transfer to come through before the saddle went on trial.   The same day she picked it up I got a text that said:

"I love the saddle, I'm keeping it for sure! :)"

No more DK for me and it works awesome for her (she's a bit shorter and slimmer than me so it's a perfect fit for her!).  Win-win!

I'm still pinching myself.

I used the profits to pay off the Verhan (which was still on my husband's credit card) and I bought some new passier leathers for it.  Woohoo!  2016 is freakin amazing so far. :)

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Progress Not Perfection

Apollo and I are attending a hunter schooling show on February 27!  

Thanks to a boatload of encouragement from Coach D I’m actually feeling excited instead of terrified.  The atmosphere is apparently extremely relaxed and it’s a very beginner/green horse friendly show.  I’m volunteering for a show in the same series at the end of January.  It will give me a good sense of how things run.

Tried to make Apollo pose next to one of our tiny fences... NOPE

We’ll be doing the following classes in Division One (aka “Bold Beginner”) with fences at a maximum height of 18”:

1.       Hunter Under Saddle
2.       Working Hunter Over Fences
3.       Handy Hunter Over Fences
4.       Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences

I have only a vague idea of what those classes are actually looking for.  I know the first one is a flat class!  And handy hunters are trickier courses with tight turns.  That’s about it.  Save me google!  If anyone has any tips or suggestions I’d happily welcome them! :)

Majestic creatures


My struggle with showing (and with life in general) is that I don’t really want to do anything until everything is perfect.  Apollo is a bit racy/spicy over fences at this point and my jumping skills are incredibly rusty.  We are working on those things!  Coach D's favorite thing to say is "progress not perfection" and that's something I really need to hear.  We are not looking very hunter-y for sure.  But he’s incredibly honest.  Since we’ve been jumping over tiny things in the last month or so he hasn’t refused once.  Even when I set him up horribly.  I trust him to jump all the tiny things for me.  I’m not exactly expecting to pin in a hunter class (even a fat/fuzzy schooling show) with a blue eyed painted plowhorse flying around at mach 1...but we’re going to have fun and enjoy the learning experience.

Still NOPE.  


I’m happy to report that Henry is really improving these days too.  His ground manners are much better.  There is plenty of room for further improvement but I’m so happy with how he’s been doing.  The farrier trimmed him on Monday and he was almost perfect.  Good boy Henry!  Only 15 days until he goes to school - pretty exciting!

I’ve been trying a bit of a new approach with him.  Instead of constantly nagging him/correcting him when he’s pawing, untying himself or generally fidgeting...I wait until he’s standing politely and then reward him massively (with my voice and/or pets).  I do positive and negative reinforcement with Apollo and Mystic and it works really well for them, so if Mystic was pawing I’d say “hey!” and she would stop and then I’d reward her.  Henry seems to get more worked up with any negative reinforcement.  It’s almost not worth doing it.  The only time I still do it is if he’s being mouthy (trying to lick me etc). 

I had a long chat with his trainer on the phone last Friday.  He sounds like such a nice man.  I wanted to give him a few notes on Henry:

1)      He is dog aggressive when loose. 
2)      He can untie himself.
3)      He’s weird.

He didn’t seem too phased by any of it.  Henry will be living with a buddy (which makes me so happy because if he was living alone he would spend every waking moment trying to escape).  The trainer is also happy to feed him his daily grain.  I’m welcome to watch anytime (I’ll likely be visiting every Saturday morning).

I’m happy to report that Mystic and I are doing really well too!

Our lovely bracelet arrived from Beka of Straight Shot Metal Smashing!  Mystic's show name (means "little fiery one" in Italian)


Thank you everyone who left me suggestions about getting her more on the bit!  I rode with them in mind last Sunday.  I felt her pace was much steadier and she was more respectful.   Still struggling with giraffe-like tendencies but it wasn’t as extreme as at my lesson (hooray for small victories!).  I rode in the DK again (because I forgot to grab the Verhan).  As soon as she started trotting I felt incredibly unbalanced...so I mostly stuck to a walk. But that was just fine as I didn’t want her to get super sweaty because my time was slightly limited.  

 Last Sunday pic! :)

She's been better at the mounting block too.  I’m not sure I mentioned on my previous post that she was horrible at the mounting block and wouldn’t stand still when I got on for my previous lesson... it was pretty bad.  On Sunday she did move three times when I was trying to set her up at the mounting block but once I hopped on she stood like a rock – good pony.  Big improvement from lesson day!  

We did our first canter together at our Thursday lesson last week!  I remembered the Verhan (thank goodness) and I felt a million percent better riding her in it.  She threw a little woohoo buck in at our canter depart and I felt calm and balanced.  I'm pretty sure if she did that while I was riding in the DK I would have hit the dirt. I think we will have a lot more success with me feeling balanced!  :)

Little cantering pony! 


I can't wait to catch up on reading blogs today!!! 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Near Misses

Wednesday was a crazy day!

I had my first official lesson on Mystic scheduled bright and early today (7:30am – egads!).  I left my house at 5:45.  I wanted to give myself a little extra time because I was pretty sure the roads would be bad.  And they were horrible, so that was a good call!

I waited forever at the world’s slowest light, which is of at the intersection between my house and the coffee joint.  Finally it turned green!  I pulled out into the intersection.  And saw a huge truck coming straight towards me, moments away from t-boning me.  I stomped hard on the gas and braced for the impact…and nothing.  I must have squeaked out of his path just in time.  Whew!   

Hopefully running a red light and almost pancaking a poor innocent Corolla was a wake-up call for the other driver.

I arrived at the barn in one piece.  Mystic ran over to greet me when I arrived.  I had this feeling that we were going to have a great ride.

We did not! 

The trainer has been riding her in the DK lately, which is fitting pretty well (she got a bit too fat for it at one point).  So I rode in the DK that morning, for the first time in a long time.  

It felt like shit.  

I was actually struggling to post the trot in a normal way because the DK was doing something weird to my balance.  I was fighting so hard against being tipped forward for most of the ride.   Which made me tense.  Which made her tense.  I think I’ll be riding her in my Verhan from now on.  #savemeverhan

Mystic was also a bit sassy!  I struggled to find a nice relaxed pace and my steering was a bit dodgey.   The trainer says that Mystic naturally goes onto the bit.  Tell that to the giraffe I rode!  It’s not her fault at all, that was certainly not the best riding I have ever done.  I had a fleeting moment where she sort of did a mini-bolt towards the exit…I thought for sure she was going to dump me.  But no!  Whew!

There were some nice moments.   I still feel really safe on her and still love riding her (x 1 million).  I just need to step up my riding game more than I realized!  The trainer said I was being "too nice" and needed to raise my expectations of her behavior.  Which is a very fair assessment.

It occurred to me later that I really suck at putting horses on the bit.  I can muddle my way there with well-schooled horses but for green/less-schooled creatures I really suck.  I think my too-long reins, open hands and somewhat weak/unsteady core are major issues in achieving this.   If anyone has any other helpful suggestions – let me know! I’m all ears. 

I blow-dryed Mystic for the first time ever after our lesson.   I don’t think I have ever blow-dryed her and the trainer said that she hasn’t either.  I thought it might freak her out.  But no - she loved it!   She even let me blow-dry her face.  #bestbabyponyevaaaa

On my drive home I have to drive up a giant hill.  It’s a bit scary.  But it’s always cleared and well-gravelled.  Except for Wednesday.  Looking ahead I saw two trucks fishtailing on their trip up the big hill.  I was past the point of turning around… so I drove incredibly slowly up the hill.  Almost too slow to make it up. But somehow I did.  Whew!    

I had a lot of lucky breaks on Wednesday!   That night I stayed home in my pjs and watched netflix... because I had enough excitement for one day before noon.

I have something exciting in the works for Apollo.  Looks like we will be having our show debut in February!  And Henry goes to school in 23 days!  More to come shortly :)

Saturday, 2 January 2016


"Don't surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn't true anymore" - Cheryl Strayed

In the spirit of a new year, I have already made some big changes.

I chopped off my hair.

I had a hair appointment booked on December 23rd for a trim and highlights.  I took the day off work and also booked a manicure with a friend before my appointment.  My hair was super long and pretty close to the natural color.  I got a lot of compliments on my hair.  It felt like my trademark and my armor.

When I was trying to blow dry my hair on the 23rd, my brain was like:
"Blah. I am sick of this long hair. Cut it off."

And then I started feeling panicked.

Weird sad voice responds to brain: "Oh no, not my beautiful long hair.  It's such a huge part of my identity."  

Brain: "It's just fucking hair."

Weird sad voice : *shrug*

And so I chopped it.  And I feel a lot better.

I also have been feeling a lot braver about my riding in the last week or so.  I think all of Coach D's encouragement is finally sinking in.

There is this part of me that is really afraid to ride for a long time.  I want to have a small win and then I want the ride to be over (so I can't screw anything up...therefore ruining my small win).  I don't really understand where this mentality came from.  But working through training/fear issues on my own for the last four years... there is definitely an element of self-preservation.  I was letting my fears make my world smaller.

I've also been pretty unwilling to add new things into my riding routine with Apollo.  Or if I did it would only be one new element (like ground poles).  Because drilling at the same simple exercises repeatedly is really fun for horses...right?!

I had two breakthroughs in these areas recently:


Breakthrough One - In my December 30th lesson with D she had to leave right at 7.  My lesson was over but she told me that I could keep riding if I wanted to (because we only did a 30 minute lesson).  I had a really great lesson.

But for the first time my brain wasn't like "Nooooo you had a great lesson, exit stable immediately before you screw anything up!".

Instead I decided to practice a few of our exercises and took my lesson horse for nice big trot in both directions for a quite a while.

Beautiful Betty! 


Breakthrough Two - I forgot my breeches when I went to see Apollo and Henry on January 1st.  But I wanted to start the year off with a ride on my big pony.  So I rode in my bareback pad (no jeans will ever ride in the verhan).

I had already set up a ground pole fan, pylons, a cross rail and a tarp.  Some of which I had already used with Henry and left out.  I thought maybe Apollo and I could use the fan.  But instead we used all of it.  And I had so much fun! 

We even jumped the cross rail.  At a canter.  In the bareback pad.


Friday, 1 January 2016

2016 Goals!

I'm loving all the 2016 goals posts!  Lots of exciting stuff in blogland will be happening in 2016 :)

I didn't make any goals for 2015.  Apollo wasn't sound and neither of my young horses were broke.  Now I have two broke horses and one soon to be broke horse.  Holy crap!  Bring on 2016!

I've been following Ingrid Klimke on facebook and she's been a huge source of inspiration for me.  Her horses always look like they're having fun!  She shares a lot of pictures of doing different things with her horses (trail riding, swimming etc).  Her posts have sparked a few of my 2016 goals.  So I made a cheesy little vision board from a few of her facebook pics.

Also have to give credit to Jon Acuff for the book cover quote in the middle!  I own the book so I think he'd be okay with it :)

Horse Goals for 2016

Take a horse swimming!  This will probably be Mystic as I know a few of the girls at her current barn go to a swimming spot in the summer, so hopefully they'll let me tag along.  

Ride with no tack (only a neck rope)! This is slated for Apollo, who's the most trained of the bunch.

Compete in as many starter level events as possible. At this point I'm planning to take Mystic, I'll play it by ear with Apollo.

Compete in a dressage schooling show.  I'm waiting for a few dates and then I'll be adding our planned show dates to the blog side bar.

Compete in a competitive trail event.  Again - hope to share dates shortly!

Find a better situation for Henry.  I'm not sure exactly what this goal will look like.  As mentioned yesterday he will be going to training shortly.  From there we will take it day by day.  Coach D may ride him, I may list him for sale or perhaps somehow I will magically find an extra day in my schedule.  

Kate's Goals for 2016

Run a 10k race  I'm slated to run a 10k for St. Patrick's Day! 

Achieve magical weight  I would really like to fit into my smaller breeches...  with running and three horses to ride - it's happening this year!

Read more  I love reading and I haven't been doing much lately.  I'm planning to re-introduce reading at bed time (instead of being a tv watching couch lump before bed).

Walk dogs more  Since Molly comes to the barn a fair bit she likely doesn't need a lot more exercise.  But my other dog Toby doesn't get nearly as much exercise as he should.  My husband and I have decided to make it part of our daily routine to walk both dogs together.

Be more patient  Sigh.  This is my biggest struggle.  I am the least patient human alive.  Being patient makes a huge difference to my relationships with my husband, friends, and animals.  I will be working on this big time in 2016!

Focus on self-care  With all my other goals it's important to make sure that I eat properly, sleep well and take care of myself.