Monday, October 31, 2016

Informal Blog Hop: 10 for October

Thanks to L over at Viva Carlos :) and squeezing in just in the nick of time!

What do you consider jumping "high" for yourself?

Ummm... cavaletti is usually my height (but Porsche has definitely jumped a ditch or two on trails)

What are your short term goals for riding? Do you think you'll reach them?

Right now I'm working on becoming a more effective rider, being clearer in my aids, and bit by bit getting Tesla round, on the bit and balanced! I have an awesome trainer and yup, we're gonna get there!

Long term goals for riding? Do you think you will reach them?

Would like to do a training level test with Tesla at a recognized show this summer :) and maybe a few schooling shows first...just to get her used to things! Yup - I think doable! and to keep progressing up as high as we can go!

How many barns have you been at in your riding career?

I've always boarded at home until three years ago, and I've been at 4 barns in that time. Two proved to be unsafe (warning signs were there but I didn't realize being new to boarding), the third was lovely, but literally the facility was starting to fall apart (so sad), and the current barn is a bit more competitive than I would prefer, but I can ride in the evenings and it is lovely.

How many different trainers have you had?

Three. The first had me yanking on Porsche's mouth (not cool, but I didn't know any better); I'm participating in clinics with Jutta Schott (she's awesome!) with both mares and I'm now with Trainer J, who is very good for both Tesla and I.

Ever worked at a barn? What did you do?

I volunteered with the Polo Team, and was a working student briefly at barn #1. Lots of grooming/tacking/wrapping/picking/soaping (you name it!)

Scariest thing that has happened at your barn?

I was riding Tesla in the arena, and a trainer was lunging her stallion, and he got loose and went flying around the ring dragging his lunge line behind him: I was terrified it would get tangled in his legs, and also that Tesla would get spooked (she was giving the line a hairy eye!) and as soon as it was safe, I hopped off. Luckily the stallion calmed down, and it ended safely.

Have you ever given a lesson? What level was the rider?

I have definitely had Porsche pack around some beginners and coached them at the walk.
My mentors daughter came for a ride, and was game to trot, but then was suddenly cantering, and I calmly gave Porsche verbal commands of "easy" so that she quietly came back down to a walk (and of course, the daughter was grinning ear to ear!) Tesla is not quite ready to pack around beginners yet (well, besides me haha!)

What is your opinion on the accuracy of critiquing riders online?

A photo is just a moment in time, and for me, having the instructor tell me what to do in real time is way more valuable. But sometimes it is nice to see if you are on the right track with a third party opinion.

What is the ideal height of horse for you?

I wouldn't go any taller than Tesla at 16.2hh.  But Porsche at 15.2hh is super fun!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

.....And we've moved!

The past few weeks I've been doing a bit of barn shopping... some of which were crazy strict:

"Horses must have a stallion chain on at all times" 
(maybe this barn was actually a race track?)

"No outside trainers. No dressage trainer."  
(Why you no like prancing ponies?)

The stables are closed on Mondays. There is no riding, turning out, etc. on Mondays. If there are extenuating circumstances, such as medical treatment, you must notify the Stable Manager and make special arrangements. A professional MUST be present on the grounds for a Monday turnout or treatment.
(What if snuggles are necessary?)

So, in the end I called up the previous barn (great facilities, a bit competitive for my taste, but safe & excellent care) and lo and behold, it was perfect timing as they had a paddock with a shelter just open up.

So I took it.

The Horse Wrangler drove the trailer over this weekend, and we moved her, easy peasy, no fuss. She's on quarantine for 3 or so days, and then she moves in to her new place.

She settled right in and in the afternoon, I went back to check on her, and let her blow out all her bug juice in the round pen. Horse Yoga, but she needed it and was totally content and snuggly afterwards.

and... Trainer J will be on-site, double win! :)

Here's to new beginnings!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Introducing...Sommer Nouvelle!

Here she is in all her glory: freshly flocked and glowing from her spa treatment at Gravity.

A much better fit now

 Shamss recommended I get a small face brush with natural bristles for applying conditioner, and removing any minute dust particles from the seams:

On my wish list now.....

Review to come!

and that I really should store the saddle with a rolled towel in the channel, to not be afraid to massage the panels a bit, and strict instructions to only ride Tesla in it for the first 2 weeks, so it would mold to her back.

Nouvelle snuggled back under the cover until the next ride :)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

When to hold 'em and when to fold 'em

Things have been a bit dicey at the new barn in terms of management: fence repairs that keep being promised and postponed, no arena grooming since the tractor broke, arena lights that have yet to be hooked up, and fibs about the silliest stuff...

I'm really torn, as I like this location, the pricing is reasonable, the hay quality is excellent, the atmosphere is peaceful, and trail access is amazing. 
But it seems like everything is just falling into disrepair, ... part of me wants to think, oh, this is just a rough patch, and the other part of me is thinking are all these little things red flags and I need to Get-Out-Of-Dodge?

How do you know when to stick it out at a barn, or start shopping?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Defying Gravity

Since the new Sommer badly needed a new flocking, and I happened to be in the area for work, I stopped by Gravity Saddlemakers.

link here

I had heard only great things about Shamss, and I gotta say it was a wonderful experience!

Even tho' the show-room was full of drool-worthy leather goods and custom saddles, Shamss didn't make me feel less than for bringing in an old used Sommer, he thoroughly inspected it (tugged on the billets, etc.) and announced that it was in fabulous shape, just in need of a good oiling ("We can take care of that" he smiled) and he showed me where the flocking was no longer supportive underneath  and then took into the workroom to show me the wool he uses, sourced from Washington. He asked me when I would like it back, and I mentioned I had a lesson on Saturday, and he was completely accommodating, even with traffic suggestions ("Friday after 2pm is ridiculous!")

I didn't have the guts to ask what one of his custom ones cost:

The Armony Dressage is gorgeous, and looks like my kind of ride ;)

But I definitely will when I pick up the Sommer.

If you are in the area, in the market for a custom saddle, or need some repairs, I highly highly recommend stopping by!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Positivity Board

The last boarders at the barn left a positivity board hung in front of the crossties.

I love the idea, and am still ruminating what I can add in that empty corner.....

Monday, October 17, 2016

Rainy days....

Call for some quality spa time: tidying of mane, peeling of chestnuts, 

and detangling 2 pinecones and enough pine needles to make a Christmas Tree out of Tesla's tail!

Post Equifuse, and loving the inch by inch gain of topline o-O

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Gear Review: Skidmore's Leather Cream

With all the much needed downpour, and the lack of a covered arena at the new barn, things have been rather quiet on the riding side....

So what better time to thoroughly CLEAN ALL THE TACK THINGS!!

And as someone who owns a sidesaddle (loooong story ;), the SS experts have plenty of opinions on what products they slather on their 100+ year old beauties.

Even Tesla has gone to the Dark Aside...
The #1 product that is sworn by in hushed and reverent tones is Skidmore's Leather Cream:

link here

The leather cream is made by a small family owned and operated company in Washington. 

I like supporting a Mom & Pop operation :)

A little goes a long way, and it can completely revive thirsty leather.

97 years young! She doesn't look a day over 30...

It doesn't leave a build-up, and it gives a wonderful sheen and feel to the leather. 

It can be a bit darkening - so heads up if you want your light oil to stay very light oil, or darken up your dressage saddle ;)

A wonderful product, and one I happily use on all my leathers, young and old!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Willing willing willing!

I had my second lesson on Tesla with Trainer J. Tess had been amped the evening before, so I wasn't quite sure how the lesson would go.....

Spoiler alert: It was Fabulous!

Tesla is definitely an overachieving student who wants to do well in front of the teacher, lol!

Trainer J immediately noticed how much more steering we had (I'd been working on that all week, huzzah!) and that Tesla was much more polite in the bridle (i.e. I was following with my hands, but when she got rude and tried to pull on me I told her no, and held a bit until she gave, and then started following again - we worked on that all week too!).

She had us working on getting Tesla to look in the direction she was turning, Tess tends to fall in on circles, especially to the right!, So Trainer J coached me through the baby steps of how we will eventually get her on my outside rein. In the turn, I would raise my inside hand just ever so slightly to make a "wall" so that Tess wouldn't lean in and would carry the end I could just squeeze my ring finger.

I commented how mysterious dressage terminology is, and especially with a young green horse, that how to get to "inside leg, outside rein" was not at all clear (she just grinned and agreed)
It was a lot of work for Tesla, who was pretty tired by the end, so Trainer J called it good and we ended on a nice happy note. She told me Tesla is so willing, that she is trying so hard for me, and what a gift that is. I've always asserted that Tesla wants to be good, so it was nice to hear a professional back me up :)

Some well deserved snacks

I chatted with a neighbour, Deb, afterwards who had come over to watch, and Tesla fell asleep behind me (all tuckered out from her lesson, cause dressaging is hard)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sommer 1 Sommer 2

I unpacked Sommer 2 excitedly and was blown. away. at the condition. It was pristine!

Seriously if there weren't rub marks from tall boots on the flaps, I would honestly have thought no-one ever touched this saddle!

It has a medium-deep seat, and blocks in the front, but they aren't outrageous..

The billets had no wear.

Thrilled to bits at my find, I went out to take 1 & 2 for a test drive at walk trot and canter.

Honestly? The broken in Sommer 1 had a great feel, but, I knew that Sommer 2 would feel like that  once the seat broke in (to my seat bones, woot!) and with some new squishy flocking...

So, Sommer 1 is headed back to the tack shop, and Sommer 2 is here to stay.  

Tesla was very adjustable: we did lots of serpentines and I can tell my improved position is helping me to give clearer aids.

Hooray for well fitting saddles (for the horse, and for me!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Tale of Two Saddles...

Turns out, what I had brought home was a 17.5in. Sommer Novelle Saddle. (Let's call it Sommer 1)

Sommer is a German Brand, and has a Flexible & Adjustable tree (up to 38cm). The tree points point back so as to allow for freedom of the shoulder. There isn't a lot about this particular model that I could find...but the company is still around, and it was definitely quality -made.

Sommer 1 was made in '94, had obviously been recently reflocked (so nice & squishy!), but the billets were in sad shape & would need replacing in the somewhat near future, and the cantle was faded to green (which can be re-dyed - thanks $900 Facebook Pony!).. it was nicely broken in and comfortable, some wear, but overall in decent shape....the only pause was that I felt the price was a bit steep, but thought it wouldn't hurt to take Sommer 1 home on trial and see....

 I really liked the initial fit for both Tesla and I: the saddle allowed me to sit in a much better position - I dropped my stirrups comfortably at least 3 holes (yay!) and I so I did what any sane horse-person would do, 
 I started poking around the internets....

And lo and behold, I found the very same model (nearly the same serial number!) online at Even with shipping, it was significantly less that the one I had on trial for a week...Patricia is amazing, I've ordered girths and leathers from her before - she always represents her items very honestly and has a nice selection. I contacted her about taking the Sommer on trial, and two days later, I had Sommer 2 in my hands as well as some 64in. leathers.

Double the Fun.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Goldilocks and the Unicorn

I had a chance to stop by a local tack shop, and decided to sit in as many used saddles as possible, just in case a unicorn might be hiding out there.....

Maybe even a Pegasus Unicorn? 

There was quite a range of things, so I mostly picked out anything with a M-MW tree and plunked it down on the saddle rack:

An Isabell Werth....nope.

Sat in a Custom County in full buffalo it was gorgeous, but I felt waaaay too locked in...

Love that the JRDs are made locally and totally customizable...but this is the second one I've sat in and just been, meh...

A Moritz - I had one in the past - the leather on these is awesome, and they wear well too, but sadly was too wide

and then suddenly I thought "This is nice, what on earth am I sitting in??"

It hit all my checklist,
and in a spur of the moment decision I took it out on trial.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Blog Hop: Horse Thief

If you could steal a horse from any of your friends or barnmates, which one would it be?

This Blog Hop got me thinking....

..and more thinking... 

yet, even knowing some drool worthy ponies, in real life and virtually... 

I really just want to ride Tess. 

LoL - I guess I am a sucker for the relationship part of horse-riding, rather than the sport aspect.... or maybe this one horse that continues to push me to grow as a rider, in clarity as a communicator,  in assertiveness as a leader, has just wound herself into my heartstrings...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fake Plastic Trees

ever since I saw this video, on saddle trees, this song has been running in the back of my mind when I pull out my Kieffer...

Fake Plaaaaaaaastic Treeeeees

While this doesn't make it a bad saddle per say, know that as Tesla's back changes, it won't be the best fit,  So I started to put together a "wish-list" of what I might be looking for, so if a deal came around, I could jump on it.
  • Adjustable  (for when she gains muscle)
  • Ample wither clearance
  • open seat/close contact/minimal rolls & blocks
  • within a budget
  • Wool flocked
  • No synthetics
  • Quality leather/construction

Unicorn, I'm on the hunt!

Monday, October 3, 2016

First Lesson with Trainer J

So this past weekend I had my first lesson with Trainer J.

I knew of her from the previous barn: I had seen her mostly teaching younger folks, and I knew she was bringing along a homebred young KWPN mare (read beginner horse & people friendly :) She and her partner are serious dressage folks, they show a lot, win a lot, and flip a lot of horses.

Tesla and I were warming up in the ring when J and her working student drove up. I could catch their conversation: mostly involving "falling" so I suspect little working student was getting an earful about this:

7 years bad luck? Not if it happened on St. Patricks Day ;)

Although Trainer J had seen Tesla around, she had never seen us ride. She commented straight away that her weight was better now....
(that's what happens when your pony gets super depressed and stops eating cause you used to go nearly every day to the barn and can't get out to the barn and see her for 2 weeks cause your bones are mending....She did look terrible! ;).

I liked that she pegged Tesla right away: "Oh, she is wicked smart! As soon as you do an exercise, change the subject!"

We did lots of circles and serpentines and figure 8s to help supple her and get her really listening and accepting of the bit and aids.

Tesla had one big spook, she kicked up a pinecone onto an empty bucket and it made a pretty big boom - she took two hops forward and then came right back to me: I didn't feel unseated or unbalanced at all, (she learned her lesson obvs, and from now on she is taking me with her, LOL.)

After the lesson, Trainer J commented on how sweet Tesla was, and sorta surprisedly that she wasn't malicious (ah, Tess, your bad reputation!).

Trainer J has a very different, I would say more modern, approach than Jutta, who is very old school, but I think the mix is gonna work out to be a great education!

So excited to see where we will be in 6 months....hopefully unrecognizable :D