Wednesday, November 19, 2014

No stirrups November?

Sorry, NSN is going to have to hold on for a little bit. I went to Equine Affaire last weekend and I have some new goodies to try out:

1. Equi-fit front and hind boots, on closeout because they are last year's model with plain black fasteners instead of ones with white stripes. Anyone who jumps knows these boots are kind of the shit, with their sleek styling and super protective memory foam. And they are also usually way outside my price range....I got them for $40. Total. Gah!! I got a little nervous they weren't going to fit, even though they're the larges; when I went to put them on I really had to stretch them to reach around to the nubbies, but I think they will stretch out a bit with use. After a few steps Charlie didn't seem to act any differently with them on either so they must not have been bothering him.

Equi-Fit boots
2. Just in time for the cold weather I also snagged this pair of Noble Outfitters muck boots for just over $100. I had two pairs of Muck Boot company boots that I swore by for winter work/riding, but since both are now cracked - one literally being held together with duct tape - it was time for something new, and I really liked the sleeker design of these boots by Noble Outfitter. They fit great in the stirrup with a nice solid tread, and they are more flexible and forgiving in the ankle than my Muck boots ever were. Plus, despite windchill temperatures in the teens and single digits yesterday and today, my feet stayed toasty warm.

Noble Outfitters boots
3. Finally, a brand new ECP half pad with shims. I actually bought this gem off of Maddy after spying it in her room. She knows someone who sells them at a discount, and since I've been wanting something like this for awhile, she offered hers to me and said she'd just go pick up another. Score! Riding in it today I couldn't believe the difference. It worked perfectly for Charlie's high withers! I used to use a sheepskin pad, but honestly this worked even better.

ECP half pad with shims
All in all it was a pretty successful (and fairly wallet-safe) trip to EA, with only a few other small purchases. I didn't come home with any blankets or saddles, though I was tempted. Oh, I did order a new helmet to replace my old IRH. One of the tack stores had the Elite on special for $160 and that price really can't be beat. The Lami-Cell one I bought this summer just isn't cutting it.

Looking happy and fit in the new gear
Stay tuned for more info on the clinics and demos at Equine Affaire in my next post....

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


On Tuesday we had some unseasonably warm temperatures here in PA (65 degrees in November?!) so Jan and I decided spur of the moment that we would take the day off and drive to Gettysburg for a ride.

A very TB look
Charlie did pretty well overall. Although antsy and looking at everything, didn't really do anything about it. As long as we kept moving he was fine. I couldn't blame him for being "up"; I had only ridden him twice in the past week, and even then it wasn't that big of a workout since I was doing the No Stirrups November thing and had worn myself out after ten minutes (note I did not participate in NSN for this trip).

Me and Jan
Per park rules we could only walk (which was to my disadvantage since Charlie could really have used a chance to burn off some steam), but Charlie took everything in stride. Right in the beginning a huge stag leapt out from behind some brush where he had apparently been napping, literally 15 feet from us, and Charlie didn't flinch. In fact he he only picked up his pace as the deer ran off, as if he wanted to go play tag.

These were some scary fences to walk between
I really wanted to jump this
As the ride continued we had to go over a small bridge, through a creek and past some hikers, many monuments, scary pointed fences, and even some cattle (that blew Charlie's mind). Jan's horse, Randy, is an old steady-Eddie, though, and the perfect trail companion. He let Charlie lead until we came to a scary part, and then calmly showed him the way.

Scary bridge is not so scary the second time
Omg cows!
Jan, as a war buff, was my personal tour guide and stopped periodically to tell me all about Little Round Top, Devil's Den, and Pickett's Charge. At one point we passed a horseback tour group and the woman leading the pack immediately pinned Charlie as an OTTB...not sure if that's a compliment or not....
Jan looking like a true cowboy
The whole ride took about three hours, and then we spent a leisurely lunch at a local tavern. Although I generally prefer a more "get-up-n-go" type of ride, this was really nice and a great getaway for the day. It was a gorgeous day and a perfect way to see the historic battlefields. Plus, any experience away from the farm is a good one for Charlie. :)

Selfie time

Monday, November 10, 2014


We have a new guy at the barn, and he and Charlie have really hit it off. Charlie has taken Dustin under his wing, making it his mission to protect Dustin from everyone else when things get too rough, pulling him aside so they can graze together in peace. Now they're almost always next to each other out in the field, and they each cry a little when either one leaves to be ridden. I think maybe Charlie is in love. Anyway, it's pretty darn cute how well they get along. I just won't tell Brantley (Charlie's first and only true love). :)

For as much as Charlie likes his hay, he's very good about sharing

Time for a grooming session

Sunday, November 9, 2014

No stirrups November

"I have a dream, Horse Nation.
A dream about thighs.
Strong thighs. Mighty thighs.
Your thighs 30 days from now, if you accept this challenge."

One of my friends posted about this challenge (and linked to this great article) and I figured, hey, why not give it a shot? Obviously it's not an option for me with any of the green training horses, but it wouldn't hurt me to lose the stirrups with Charlie.

Hang 'em up
Wednesday was my first true day of the challenge (although I did ride bareback earlier in the week, so I guess that kind of counts). I have to say, riding sans stirrups in a slippery saddle is much harder than riding bareback. I had a few moments where I caught myself leaning and losing my balance and I clamped up, which only made things worse, but when I remembered to sit up and breathe I got everything back.

I only lasted about 10 minutes and my thighs were definitely burning. By the time I was ready to canter it was a welcome relief from the trot. The only bad part was knowing that in order to stop I had to down-shift back through the bounciness again. Arggg. I kept getting flashbacks to training in college where we would have whole lessons without stirrups, jumping and everything, and our "warm up" would be to stand in two-point for as long as physically possible. Ouch. I'm not going quite to that extreme now hahaha, but I am proud to say I made it two laps of the ring in each direction posting without breaking down. Next time I'll try for three.