Thursday, June 27, 2013

Best Laid Plans

All week I've been looking forward to tonight because my best friend, E, was going to be driving up from Maryland to visit and we were going to go riding :) We had a long trail ride planned, then a BBQ dinner and drinks at my was going to be fabulous.

Mother Nature, however, had other plans. Although it had been hot and sunny all day, they were calling for some major storms to be passing through this evening. E decided to leave a little earlier in order to beat the rain and so as soon as she got here around 4pm we headed straight to the barn. No sooner had we gotten down there and started to brush the horses than it started spritzing. Drats. We checked the radar and it seemed to be the southern end of the larger storm, just a passing squall that would leave in 10 minutes or so. So we waited. It started raining harder but the radar said it would pass. She was riding Buffy, the big TB/draft, and I had picked Poppy, a sweet and talented old paint that could do anything and loved being out on the trails.

After a few minutes the sky lightened up and the rain changed to barely a drizzle so we figured, what the heck, must be over. As long as it's not lightning/thundering we can deal with getting a little wet and damn it, we wanted to ride! So out we went. I figured sticking to the wooded trails would be the best idea and it served us well for awhile. Once we got in the trees the foliage was keeping most of the drips from hitting us; we actually stayed moderately dry. After about 15 minutes it picked up a little but then dropped off again as we explored some of the nearby trails around my neighborhood. The horses were having a blast splashing through puddles and although we were mostly walking, we did get the chance to trot and canter a bit and they loved it :)

In the beginning, it really wasn't bad at all
Then the rain started picking up more so we decided it was time to head home. Although we'd been out for awhile, it was a winding past so we were probably only about a mile out at that time and on trails I am relatively familiar with (I say relatively because I used to travel them all the time but haven't been on them regularly in many years). We quickly found out, though, that although my sense of direction was spot on, the trails I was used to taking in the past were now often overgrown and the ones we opted to take instead tended only ended up leading into peoples' backyards. After trying two or three dead ends, and with the rain now coming down steadily, I said screw it. We will stick to the tree line as best we can but if we don't cut through this person's yard we won't make it out.

Luckily no one saw us and we didn't leave too many tracks (although I'm sure anyone who happened to see us at this point would have taken pity on us because we looked like drowned rats). As soon as we hit the neighborhood road we let the horses canter. A few cars passed and I'm sure they were thinking "What on earth were those poor girls thinking, riding out in the rain?" When we got to the intersection of the main road near my house we stopped to check for cars and out of nowhere the sky lit up directly across from us with a ginormous lightning strike followed immediately by the biggest boom of thunder! Thank god for these awesome horses, they were freaked out (so was I!) and jumped around a bit but they didn't have any melt downs. That was all it took. We had to walk down the big hill so they didn't slip but then we turned onto my street and let them go. We couldn't see at all by this point through the sheets of water but it didn't matter, the horses knew the way. (If Dan would have looked out the window at that moment he would have died laughing seeing us galloping down the street in front of my house).

We walked once we hit the trail leading down to the barn and then, ignoring all rules we'd been taught, we rode right into the barn before dismounting. Looking at each other then, in all of our soaked through glory, we couldn't help but burst out laughing.

E and Buffy

Me and Poppy
We were wringing out our clothes left and right and water was pouring off of us. It was like deja vu from last year when I got caught out with Kate and Lucy miles away from home in a freak summer storm. The horses, though, were such good sports and in surprisingly good spirits. Once we had them all toweled off and scrubbed clean, Poppy looked a little tired but Buffy was looking at us like, "When can we go out again? That was fun!"

Buffy loves adventures :)
Looking back, it was probably not my brightest idea to go out with the threat of a storm, and I don't know that I'd willingly go out in the rain like that ever again, but boy was it fun today!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Home Sweet Home

It's safe to say I've been relaxing while I've been home. Dan and I have been filling our time with eating good food, relaxing out by the pond in the backyard and hanging with the dogs. This weekend we visited a few houses on the Parade of Homes, a collection of local new residences that showcase different builders/designers/etc. I think they should make a Parade of Homes: Equine Edition and just include all kinds of houses with barns and equine complexes. That would be a lot of fun :) On the way we got some of the best soft pretzels in the world, Dutch Country Soft Pretzels. Although nothing is better than hot and fresh out of the oven, they now will ship pretzels anywhere in the country; if you want to try some authentic PA Dutch soft pretzels I encourage you to try some or buy one of their mixes. Easy, fun and won't be disappointed!

Bailey, one of my parents' Goldens and our #1 snuggle buddy for the week
Sunday I went to my guilty pleasure consignment store, Equine Exchange. Although we spent an hour in their browsing, I was a very good girl and only bought some bell boots for Charlie. Then we went to see "This is The End" which was insane and completely well worth it!

That night Dan and I went to our friends' weekly Campfire cookout. We haven't been able to go in a very long time so seeing everyone and catching up was awesome. Plus there was some really good food and drinks. Looking forward to doing that again next weekend before we head back.

Hanging out at Campfire
Today was a mini golfing day at one of my favorite places, Schell's, which has 27 holes instead of the usual 18 and only costs $6/person which makes it even more amazing.

Yay! Mini golf!
Pretty evenly matched
We also visited the grand opening of September Farm, our favorite local cheese shop, who recently expanded from their small, on-the-farm store to a huge new building right on the main street. We got all kinds of samples of different cheeses, dips and spreads and took home quite a bit of goodies ourselves (including some fresh cheese curds which, if you've never had them, are delicious!). We ended up going back for some homemade ice cream for dinner with some of my neighbors and then took sandwiches home for dessert. Best way to eat if you ask me!

Believe it or not I've only ridden once since we've been here. It's been really hot and honestly I've enjoyed relaxing in the backyard with some snacks and a cool drink, but when I did go out yesterday I had a lot of fun. One of my neighbors has an adorable Icelandic pony, Gi, who is so cute and sooo different to ride from Charlie (no neck, smart pony brain, and at least 3 hands shorter than Charlie).

As an Icelandic he is gaited so we got in some nice tolting (kind of a four beat trot that is very smooth and quick)....a totally different feel from anything I'm used to but cool and different. The 17-year-old has some moves!

I also rode my other friend's Oldenburg (?), Emmett, who came from the same barn as Charlie. He's been having a lot of dental issues and problems keeping weight on recently but he's on the upswing and despite all that he was very willing to go out alone with me (this is the first time I've ever ridden him) and eager to please. He has such a long neck, though, even longer than Charlie. I actually swapped out his normal reins (which barely reached his shoulder) for some tied off draw reins because they were so short!

Emmett getting ready for a bath
We stopped off for a quick spray-down at my house. He really liked drinking from the hose:

I'm very excited to take Buffy, their TB/draft cross, for a spin (hopefully tomorrow). She's one of my favorite horses and will pretty much do anything. She was very offended, in fact, that I didn't take her yesterday but I knew it was too hot to do much and so I promised her we'd have our own fun "date" very soon.

Buffy looking quite peeved
Buffy: "I can't even look at you right now".... Emmett: "That was fun!"

Monday, June 24, 2013

Liebster Award

Being new to the whole blogging world I was very surprised and excited to have three people recognize me for the Liebster Award in the last week (I had to look that up, by the way, had no clue what it was).

The Liebster Blog Award is a way to recognize blogs who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued. Here are the rules for accepting the award:
  1.     Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  2.     List 11 random facts about yourself.
  3.     Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  4.     Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  5.     Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  6.     Go to each blogger's page and let them know you have nominated them.

When I started this blog I honestly figured it would probably just end up being a good memoir for me, something to look back on and track my progress, see where we "once were" vs where we end up, something my family and friends could use to keep track of what's going on in my life. To have regular followers wasn't even in my realm of thinking. So thank you, everyone, especially Syd, Katie and Amanda for nominating me :) Here are my answers to your questions:

11 Random Facts about me

1. I grew up in Amish Country
2. I can sing every lyric, start to finish, of "Baby Got Back"
3. In my first rated horse show (when I was a kid) I jumped an oxer backward in the schooling ring
4. I have an undergraduate degree in neuroscience
5. Three years ago I traveled across Ireland with my boyfriend, Dan, and it was amazing!
6. I have a birthmark in the shape of Africa on the back of my left hand
7. Matt Damon is my #1 celebrity crush
8. I once was riding in a mine near my house and got caught in quicksand. One of the scariest moments of my life.
9. If I could have any superpower it would be telekinesis, hands down
10. One of my favorite childhood movies is "Homeward Bound." I still cry every time.
11. When I was little my favorite animal was a cow

Questions from Syd (

1. How long have you been riding for?
     18 years
2. Favorite Breed?
3. Ever ridden Western?
     Yes. Although I've never technically been trained in it I used to ride Western fairly regularly
     and really appreciate it for certain things (like trail rides). Not for jumping though. That hurts.
4. Favorite Book?
     Oh gosh, this is a hard one, but I think I'd have to say the "Outlander" series by Diana Gabaldon.
     Although it's more than one book, they are some of the best I've ever read .
5. Slow Horse or Fast Horse?
     No question. FAST.
6. Longest Horse You've Ever Own?
     Charlie is my first. So, what is that, just under 8 months now?
7. Favorite Store to Shop in?
     TJ Maxx/Marshalls/HomeGoods. I love those stores!
8. Favorite Horsey Memory?
     Again, hard to pick just one but I used to ride an amazing TB named Gypsy who was bred for racing but never made it to the track due to an injury as a foal. She was one of those once-in-a-lifetime horses, the kind that I really connected with and with whom I felt as one. Genuinely smart, talented....I remember one time trying to see how fast she could go so I decided to let her out a bit into a hand gallop while out on the trail. We shot forward but I still was reining her in quite a bit. So then I decided to drop the reins and she kicked it up another notch. Crazy! We were flying by then, tears in my eyes from the wind, but I figured let's see what she's got so I leaned forward, hands at her ears and gave the slightest squeeze with my legs and she almost threw me backward in the sudden forward momentum as she kicked it into her highest gear. I have never before, and never since, felt that on a horse and it was the most fantastic feeling in the world. It was exhilarating.
9. If you could buy any other horse what kind would it be?
      If it wasn't a pure TB I would go for a TB/draft cross.
10. Show for the rest of your life or trail ride?
     Trail ride. There is not much better in life.
11. Favorite Quote?
     "Horses see us for who we truly are behind our masks of words and hidden meanings. they become privy to what we try to hide from ourselves and other humans: our frustrations, irritations, dissatisfaction, aggravations, and at the base of it, our fears." - Stormy May

Questions from Katie (

1. What's the name of your heart horse?
     As much as I love Charlie, Juan Carlos (a TB/Belgian cross that I helped train several years ago
     for a good friend of mine) has always been my #1 man. Gypsy. though, was my top horse of all
2. Half chaps or tall boots?
     Half chaps
3. Favorite vacation spot?
     Kiawah Island, SC
4. How long have you been riding?
     18 years
5. Do you have any other pets?
     A lab mix, Emma
     A cat, Charlie (yes, I have two animals named Charlie)
     Two corn snakes
6. What was the last book you read?
     The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb
7. What is your favorite movie?
     Hmm, maybe Princess Bride? That's probably been the longest running on my "favorites" list
8. What's the one thing your horse does that irritates the heck out of you?
     Rearing, although hopefully that's a thing of the past
9. Do you like to cook?
10. What will your next big horsey purchase be?
     A new saddle
11. What song are you embarrassed to admit you love?
     "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" by the Backstreet Boys

Questions from Amanda (

1) Why did you start blogging?
     As a personal memoir and way to look back on how far (hopefully) I come with Charlie
2) If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be?
     It would be pretty darn cool to be Reed Kessler for a day
3) You have just won the lottery. What is the absolute first thing you do once you find out?
     After almost dying of a heart attack I think I would immediately call out of work and then go crack
     open whatever wine/champagne/beer I could find in the house and celebrate!
4) How old were you when you saw your first horse?
     Probably less than a week old. I grew up in Amish country so we probably passed about 50 on my
     ride home from the hospital. Other than that I can't remember a specific age; horses have always
     kinda been around in some form or another.
5) What is your biggest horse related fear?
      That something tragic and devastating will happen that I have no control over and that will force
     me to make some very difficult decisions.
6) Do you participate in sports outside of the horse world?
7) What song would be played first on the soundtrack for your life?
     "Cowboy Take Me Away" - Dixie Chicks
8) Do you consider yourself a lucky person?
     Yes and no. I've been blessed with a lot of talents that I am very lucky to have but I'm not lucky in the sense of winning contests and things. I think we all make our own luck and we have to have the guts and vision to see potential opportunities and go for them. Luck is all in your perspective. 
9) What is one thing you'd change about your current horse?
     Make his head either a little bigger or a little smaller so he would actually fit into a normal sized bridle. Right now he's either on the biggest end of Horse Size or the smallest end of Oversized so everything is kind of pieced together.
10) What kind of car do you drive? What kind of car do you WISH you drove?
     A Mazda Protege5. I wish I had a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. (That would be one of my first purchases after winning the lottery)
11) Who is your go-to person when you need horse related advice?
     Usually Kate T. (lucysquest)

As for my own nominations, I don't know too many other qualifying blogs onto whom I can pass along the Liebster Award but here are a few of my favorites that I would nominate if I could (and some questions for you if you feel like participating just for fun) :)
  • "I is Roxie" ( Whenever I need a pick-me-up, this blog always makes me smile :)
  • "Lucy's Quest" ( Kate, I know you have too many followers to qualify but I love reading your blog
  • "Love Me In Focus" ( Amanda, you are an engaging writer and I feel like I'm right there with you when I read about you and Image. I enjoy every moment of your blog. I know you are going through some really tough stuff right now but keep your chin up!
My Questions for You:
1. What was your favorite horsey book as a child?
2. Where is the farthest away from home you've ever traveled?
3. Have you ever been on a horsey vacation? If so where? If not, where would be your #1 pick?
4. JT or JTT (and if you don't know what I'm referring to, I am very disappointed)?
5. How did you come to meet your current horse?
6. Why did you start blogging?
7. What is your guilty pleasure TV show?
8. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
9. Favorite Queen song?
10. Beer or wine?
11. If you could have any breed of dog what would it be?
12. What was the name of the first horse/pony you ever rode?

Saturday, June 22, 2013


It's hard to believe it has been only a week today since Charlie moved in at the new barn. He settled right in and seems so happy :) Now all I want to do is ride, but that has to be put on a slight hold for the next 10 days as Dan and I are house/pet-sitting down in Lancaster County, PA for my parents while they are away in South Carolina. It will be a good vacation for us, and we've really been looking forward to it for a long time, but the timing with Charlie is less than opportune. I wish I could have brought him with least I know he is happy and I have great friends like Maddy and Kate to take care of him while I'm away. :)

Before I left yesterday we stopped at the barn so I could completely clean Charlie's stall and package up all of his food (I'm halfway through transitioning him to a new version and I wanted to make it as easy as possible while I'm away).

I may be slightly neurotic
All ready to go
Here I am modeling the lastest in equine fashion :P
I really really wanted to ride. It was perfect weather, sunny and not humid, but I knew we had about a 6 hour drive ahead of us so it really wasn't feasible considering we had a deadline. So Dan helped me with barn chores, we gave Charlie some treats and love (found out he likes bananas), piled the pooch in the car (as Emma pretty much goes everywhere with us) and hit the road. It's a good thing I didn't give in to the ride: we hit tons of traffic and after leaving the house at 9am that morning we didn't end up making it to Lancaster County until 6. Ugh. :(

Once we got home we met my dad and sister for dinner at our favorite pizza joint (I'm sorry, but Rhode Island doesn't do pizza), picked up some beer next door, then headed home to unpack and go over our duties for the next week, namely taking care of their two Golden Retrievers, keeping the plants watered, bringing in the mail and feeding the indoor and outdoor fish.

Being at home definitely has it's perks: I have plenty of horses to ride here (within walking distance no less!); full use of a house with a yard, patio and fully stocked fridge; lots of free time to think about nothing but relaxing....Plus I get to see things like this first thing in the morning. Life is good :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Trail blazing

Today is only the second time since Charlie's been at the new barn that I have gotten the chance to ride him. It being a gorgeous day today (and myself feeling rather confident and adventurous), I decided what the heck, let's go on a trail ride! Now, I have no idea if Charlie has ever been in the woods or on any kind of trail not to mention the fact that we'd be going alone but I really needed the trail ride so after doing barn chores I tacked up and out we went.

Trails? I'm not so sure about that...
Our first trick was just getting to the trails: you have to walk down this fairly narrow downhill path, only 20 feet or so, but it is sandwiched between the side of the ring and trees. Charlie didn't care so much that it was skinny on the sides but he really didn't like the narrow strip he had to walk on because there was a rain-made gully and exposed rocks in the middle (obviously very scary). So he balked and backed up and eventually walked right into the pricker bushes that are higher than his withers and tried to plow through them instead. I made him back up as there was no room to turn around and after dismounting to pull all the branches from his tail I hand walked him down the path. Not so scary after that.
Now the problem was getting back on my 16.2 horse. I'm only 5'2" so there was no way I was doing it from the ground. I kept walking, past another scary area with water on both sides, until I found an old concrete pillar to stand on. Charlie had no problem standing still while I clambered up on the block and then onto his back. Good boy!

Photographic evidence!
We walked around the woods for 30 minutes or so, just trying different trails I knew would keep us close to home. When we encountered one trail that was flooded from all the recent rain and Charlie didn't want to walk through it I didn't push him. My goal was to make this first outing as positive an experience as possible. I didn't want to start a fight that might be difficult to finish alone, nor did I want him to associate going out with something bad. This was supposed to be confidence-building so I tried to stay as non-reactive as possible but still get him to do something I wanted, even if it wasn't what I initially had planned. I had him get as close as I could (eventually backing him to the scary area and then making him turn around to face it), until he realized he couldn't run away from it and stood there calmly for 10 seconds without trying to back up or scare the swamp monsters by snorting at them. Then we turned around and walked away.

Going home I wasn't originally going to let him trot but he was being very respectful so I let him out a little and we had the most comfy floaty trot ever (it helps when your horse is trying to make himself bigger haha). We walked back up the scary entryway by the ring without incident, around the cross country course looking at all the jumps we would one day be doing ourselves, and I had a quick trot and canter in each direction around the outdoor ring (another first).

Working in the outdoor ring

Mission accomplished.

I did it!

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Ride at Melody

Today I rode Charlie at his new home for the first time and he was perfect! We rode inside to minimize potential spooky factors, and he didn't even really care that half of the ring was watered and the other half wasn't or that the doors were open on either end. What a good boy! And I didn't even lunge him first :)

All tacked up and ready to go

Happy :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013


That's right! Things were quiet at my barn for awhile, there were ongoing negotiations about moving to Palmer and things were looking up, but then on Thursday the Board of Health and Animal Control showed up poking around while I was there alone with Charlie. They were all very nice to me but after speaking with them and realizing how dirty things likely would get because of how much of a skeezeball the property owner is I decided just to get out (for example, I was told the property Owner would be posting No Trespassing signs by the end of the weekend and so myself and anyone else stepping foot on the property could be fined for being there). I really don't feel like being in the middle of all that drama (especially since next weekend I'll be leaving for 10 days to house-sit for my parents in PA so I won't even be in the state).

I called around to about 10 different barns that afternoon, looking for anyone in the immediate area who might have an opening. Only two called me back; one was full (the one I really liked from when I first moved up here but had decided against because there was no indoor for the winter) and the other was way too expensive. So today, with the help of Kate and Maddy I moved Charlie down to Melody instead :)
Pickles was sad to see Charlie go :(
On our way!
Lucy was super excited as soon as we pulled in...a new boyfriend!
Our new stall
Hmm, this isn't so bad
Look ma! There's a window!
Charlie seems to have settled in ok, although he was prancing around for the ladies a bit when he first got there. He loves the fact that his new stall has a big window and he can look outside. Lucy was very excited to see him pull up and they started calling to each other before we even parked the trailer. She and Pretty were like giddy schoolgirls running up and down the fence of their paddock chattering about the new cute boy in town.

This rough board thing will be a big adjustment for me as it is my first time being fully responsible for everything about a horse and it's soooo far away from where I live. It's a little intimidating trying to jump in all of a sudden but I'm lucky in that I have some great friends to help me out. Everyone has been super accommodating knowing that I live 50 minutes away and that this will make it impossible for me to get to the barn every day. I'll keep you guys updated with more later but for now this is about all I have the energy for; goodnight!

All tucked in

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Charlie was much better today, still high since today was the first real day of turnout since the storm, but he listened ok. There was a guy at the barn spraying the weeds, which Charlie didn't like too much, but we worked through it....and then we jumped for the first time (I keep hearing Roxie in my head "We is jomping!!...for those of you who don't follow her you should check her out)! Here are some pictures:

And a video from the very first round:

Saturday, June 8, 2013


So I'd been noticing that Charlie seemed to be losing weight again, and I was a little concerned. He's already on 3 quarts of food twice a day and gets a few flakes of hay at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Well, here's my explanation:

He sure can multitask: avoid the flies, work in some calisthenics, and even grab a bite to eat on the go. What a character! :P

Friday, June 7, 2013

Testing Limits

Today was a gross mess of pouring rain, the kind of day you really just don't want to get out of bed. But I had work and afterward I really wanted to go to the barn to ride because it's been over a week since I'd been on Charlie. Last week it was the pulled shoes, then I was away in Maryland all last weekend for my best friend's bridal shower (which was so much fun!). When I got back and went to ride on Wednesday I discovered that my BO had taken down the temporary fencing separating Charlie's paddock from the one nextdoor so he now had a double wide. Awesome! Unfortunately that meant he actually had room to run around and so, since he didn't have his bell boots on, he managed to pull off the back of one of his brand new shoes. Great. No riding again! The farrier was supposed to come out yesterday - I left Charlie in all day for him - but he got held up so it wasn't until 2pm this afternoon that Charlie was officially rideable again.

When I showed up it is safe to say he was amped: over a week without being worked, two straight days of no turnout, just got his latest loose shoe tacked back on two hours before I got to the barn, it's pouring rain outside, and now he's expected to calmly flat around like it's no big deal? Right.... Oh, and we had to ride in the rock-hard indoor ring (which he hates), the end doors were open, there were some new scary "monsters" being stored in each end of the ring, and two other young riders were in the ring having a lesson. Ha. Hahaha. Recipe for disaster? I chose to believe "great learning experience."

Charlie was high as a kite, but behaving, walking around fairly calmly and looking at (but not spooking at) the new scary objects. That is until we were trotting past one of the aforementioned scary beasties, which happened to also be in front of the open end doors, and he kicked a clod of dirt/stone into his belly causing a meltdown. We would have been fine but when he bucked he caused one of my stirrups to come loose which freaked him out more and, without a stirrup on one side, I got tossed. I got back on and we worked through it, me embarrassed to have made a scene in front of the two moms whose daughters were taking the lesson and Charlie seemingly embarrassed about freaking out as he was much better after that. The other horses in the ring didn't react, Charlie didn't run out the doors (or run over the moms!) and he continued to work afterward doing everything I asked without further issues, even when it meant having the other horses in the ring jump around near him (which I'd heard was a problem for him in the past). 

There were only a few casualties:

From when he threw his head up after losing the least it wasn't my nose!
Yup. That's gonna be a nice bruise.
In other news we have a litter of kittens at work. They're so darn cute :)