Thursday, January 4, 2018

Money well spent

My riding boots are in need of repairs yet again and it got me to thinking about a topic for a blog post.

What One item have you purchased long ago, that has lasted well past it's shelf life or expiration date, yet it still seems to just keep hanging in there, fighting the good fight, not quite ready to give up the ghost and die already? Would you say you got your money's worth out of it?

For me it is my dress boots. I bought them probably 17 years ago, after going on vacation and packing on some extra pounds, then trying to put on my previous pair and not being able to get them up over my calf. I had to go with Wide calf boots and wasn't exactly thrilled at the time.

I probably paid a little over $100 for them, had the soles restitched on them about 5 or 6 years ago for somwhere in the ballpark of $20-$25 and even though they need it again, once fixed they still look nice enough to show in.

For those thinking they probably haven't seen much use? Just one look at them says otherwise. For a while I was using them to ride at least 3 days a week, sometimes more. But I also typically take care of my things since I don't like having to replace stuff often. Yes my boots are a bit dirty at the moment, but they will be cleaned before I take them in for repairs.

Although the soles are coming off again in the same place- on the inside of the right foot from the ball of my foot back to the arch and the left one is likely to go there too, finding somewhere to have them repaired yet again is certainly in the budget and I seriously doubt it will break the bank. I found another pair so no rush on the repairs.

For those wondering what brand they are?  


Yep, no lie. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing everyone a Happy, safe and prosperous New Year!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What the horses have taught me

Over the many years I have been riding and showing horses, there have been quite a few lessons learned from the horses themselves. They are the best teachers as their way of thinking often challenges our own. These things stick with us from that day forward, when others rattle around in our brain waiting for the day when something finally 'Clicks' and suddenly it all makes perfect sense.  Some horses have a lot to teach us, where others might let us 'coast thru life' and cover our asses for us time and again, making us look better than maybe we really are.

My first horse Tai taught me that when I think I'm a badass, maybe I'm not such a badass after all. I had been riding every and any horse I could, barrel racing, team roping, trail riding, etc. and even showing. I had never come off a horse unexpectedly and I had luckily, never been thrown. That horse unseated me no matter what kind of tack he was wearing. Thankfully I never got seriously hurt. I also learned with him that there's always the time to just get off the horse. My safety would override staying on him when he was being a total dick or when things were about to get all kinds of stupid ugly.

My mare the Mighty Mo, taught me that horses can be trained to blanket themselves. All you had to do to put her blanket on, was hold it up by the back and she would put her head down, looking for the neck hole to stick her nose thru. Hold it up, she stepped forward and then just pull the blanket back over her body. All of my horses after her- I have taught them this same "Life Skill". Kat practically Runs into his and then stands rock still while I fasten the straps. No more unbuckling the fronts for me.

Tess taught me a LOT of things. One being that the mere fact we climb onto their backs, means that we trust them. If we didn't, we wouldn't ride them. This mare also taught me how to Be trustworthy. At least in Her eyes.  ANY amount of contact meant that her back would hollow out and her neck would grow to the length rivaling that of a giraffe as it seemed to end up in my lap. I trusted her enough to ride her, She had to learn to trust me that I wasn't going to get in her face with contact. When the giraffe neck thing happened, I had ZERO (0) control, or at least it felt I did. Which leads to another thing....

It may Feel to us as a rider, that things are going all sorts of ways south, when others see something different. I'm sure we've all been there. We feel like it is a great ride and get the gate in a class, or we feel our ride is going to shit and we end up getting pinned well in the ribbons. Our horse feels like they spooked and jumped ten feet and a day- sideways and everyone who seen it, tells us later there was one or two small steps but that was it.

My wamblood mare Aruba, when starting out on a lunge line would only walk. She made a lap or two at the walk and slowly loosened things up, easing into a trot and eventually a lope or canter. It was so different than having a horse shoot to the end of the line, ripping my shoulders out of the sockets, bolting and tearing around like a jackass. My horses now start out walking on the lunge line, and when I get on them we walk some more. It has become an ingrained habit for them that even if they are on high alert, they know we will just keep walking around and loosening up. I need time to do that too once I get on, because this getting older thing sucks.

Kat has taught me a number of things over the years. That they know us sometimes better than we know ourselves, they can push our buttons better, longer and in ways we never thought of and that they are there for us when others aren't. The other night when I was sick and couldn't make it to the barn to feed, the girl who feeds for me told me that he looked at her like he was asking where I was? I've had him longer than any other horse. He should know me by now...

My TB mare has taught me that we can sometimes be pleasantly surprised when we go on instinct and trust our gut. She has also taught me patience and that sometimes we just wait it out and things get better with time. There have also been reminders of how we tend to expect the worst at the slightest bit of swelling or lameness.

There have been several horses that have taught me, there is and can be, more than one horse we have "That kind" of connection with. To date there have been roughly 8 in my life so far. Tess was one of them that was completely opposite of anything I liked in a horse, which means that sometimes we shouldn't judge the book by the cover? Lol

The thing is, that while I have learned many things from the horses over the years, there is infinitely more to learn. I'm looking forward to the lessons.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Book review II

For those who have been reading my blog all this time, (Thank You!) you know that I don't normally do book reviews. Since my trip back to Hell to see my girls and going to the 1/2 Price Bookstore while there, I had picked up a few books. Obviously they have made an impact or I would not feel the need to be mentioning them here.

The second book I am reading is "100 Ways to Improve Your Horse's Schooling" by Susan McBane. In the store I flipped thru the pages to get a vibe and quick feeling that this book contains a lot of useful information and tips on things to do and try.

Even though I'm not quite finished reading this one, (I'm in the 70's) there have been several moments of pause and things that have made me think. Isn't that the reason we read? To learn. And to learn, sometimes we have to think about the way we do things and why. Obviously we wish to Improve and that's why we look to books or others for input. Hello?!?!?!

In my last post I had mentioned that dressage has been drawing me in more and more and I'm finding it increasingly fascinating. While this book is geared towards basic schooling, it is certainly feeding that fascination, because after all, Dressage means Training. This book delves into how your seat, weight, legs, hands and simply looking where you want to go influences the horse. Another thing mentioned frequently is picturing in your mind how you want the horse to do things.

One of the things about this book is that each exercise is broken down into a quite simple and basic explanation of how to do things. Not only does the author explain the "how" of it, but the "why" that makes it work. For those that look for the logic behind the results- good or bad, they are explained.

This book covers a lot of things we face in training and while there are chapters on ground work, flatwork and lateral work, (for the dressage junkies) there is also chapters on work with poles, basic jumping, hacking and competition for those who aren't so focused only on dressage. The author also makes several references to a list of useful addresses and further reading included at the end of the book. Some of the addresses include websites for a quicker way to get information.

I love this photo which is at the very back of the book.

While reading this, I kept finding close similarities in how the author explains things, with how my friend Cheryl explains things. Cheryl definitely has the creds(!) and we have shared many discussions about horses on a variety of topics. I have yet to be disappointed in what she has shared with me. To find a book like this one? It is almost like having a Cheryl on the shelf in my growing library where I can consult with her at any time about any issue I'm having.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! But as the author states, it is not exactly a book for the stark beginner. Although Ms. McBane often suggests having a trainer or sensible friend on the ground to assist,  she understands that you are looking for help in trying to improve you horse's schooling on your own because these may not be available resources. What you get out of it also depends on what you're looking to impove in your horse and your riding. If you have a decent foundation to your riding, there is a plethora of information in the pages which can certainly be applied to any discipline.  Price in the UK is $20, US- $30 and Canada- $42. I scored my copy for a whopping $8. 

*If I sounded like I was rambling or disconnected in my thoughts, I blame the turkey from yesterday. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

What haven't you done?

One of the guys at the barn recently got a new horse. A big, spotted, gaited horse. He kept making comments and dropping hints about having me ride the horse for him some time. The other night he came right out and said, "You'll have to throw a leg over him...."

After cleaning my stalls, trimming Kats feet and getting the feed ready for the night, I went outside and enjoyed the breeze. On my way home later, the truck was reading that it was still 78 degrees outside. Yeah that's pretty warm for November. When he spotted me,  he asked if I wanted to ride the horse. Sure why not?  It has been many, many years since I've ridden a Walker.

Which got me to thinking- What haven't I done?  I didn't get to ride until I was about 14 or 15 and then it was a on relative's horses. From there it was anything further that I could throw a leg over, saddled or not.

Over the years I have ridden just about everything from ponies to Warmbloods, grade horses and registered horses. I've ridden Saddlebreds, Arabians, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, a few warmbloods, Appaloosas,  POA's, mules, Peruvian Paso's, Rocky Mtn. Saddle horses, Missouri Foxtrotters, and a couple of Tennesee Walkers.

I spent some time penning and sorting, tried team roping- I was a lot better at heading than heeling. I have ridden jumpers, done some barrel racing. Ridden dressage as well as saddle seat, there was always a lot of trail riding in beween everything else and I have shown halter as well as a few showmanship classes. Then there was cutting and finally driving. I am just as comfortable in an English saddle, be it dressage, saddle seat or close contact, as I am riding in a western saddle, Austrailian saddle, A McClellan or even bareback.

When I was giving lessons for the ex, I have always encouraged people to try everything. Give it a shot at least once or twice and see how it goes. You never know when something is going to grab your attention and make things come alive for you. My discipline of choice these days?  I still and always will, have a strong interest and passion for driving. I think that comes from one of my distant relatives, a woman, who drove stagecoaches back in the day.  I love hunters as I prefer the form and delicate intricacies invloved with clean rounds. Dressage has also been drawing me in lately too. The tests are some of the toughest easiet, things to do.

So there ya have it folks. I have ridden a lot of horses from an array of different backgrounds. What's your story? How many different types of horses have you ridden? Which different disciplines have you ridden? Breeds?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Book review

I haven't ever done a book review on my blog. Not once. There are a few books in my arsenal library and occasionally if I hit a block wall with a horse or come up against some issue in training, I typically know which book to look in and sometimes even what chapter.

So on a quick trip back to Hell I popped into the Half Price Bookstore. This is typically stocked from what people bring in to clear their shelf and space at home or sometimes overstock or other similar suppliers.

I found 3 books actually but I will only review the one for now since although I have cracked open the other two for a brief peek before purchase, I haven't gotten far enough into or thru them to form any opinion on the book yet.

Secrets of the Top Equestrian Trainers, by Tina Sederholm.

She interviewed 10 different trainers from 10 different backgrounds. While a few of them have been to the Olympics, one of them is considered "A Coaches Coach", one trained racehorses in England, one is a Natural Horsemanship trainer and while there is a strong dressage, jumping and eventing influence, reading their words you just get the feeling that they are super easy to get along with.  As we all know- there is some amount of information to be take away from each.

Taken from the chapter on Ann Kursinkski- "I have taken this maxim of Don Millman's. "Compete like you train and train like you compete." This means you are as focused and sharp when you are training as you are when you compete, and yet as relaxed in the ring as you are in training."  Now I know what you're all thinking, because I'm with you on that-> HA! Easier Said Than Done! But it absolutely can be done, of course this means a bit of disrespect and probably thinking some obscenities.  

The book is an easy read. The author's notes, questions or opinion are in Italics and lead into the next point to be made with an easy way of flowing from one to the next. It made my 2 1/2 hour flight from Hell to home go by really quickly even though I was having a tough time seeing the words. Yeah because of age and apparently I must need reading glasses now....

I found my copy for $8 and the price on the back is $29 US. I haven't gotten all of the way thru it, but so far I am not disappointed in it at all. Each trainer interview is roughly about 3-4 pages of reading, so it is an easy book to pick up for a few minutes and set down to come back to later. 

Would I recommend it? Absolutely! Even if you aren't interested in competing, there's plenty of good information about how you might manage your own horses or barn. All of them seem to agree that it takes work, guts, grit, determination and dedication to get to the top or be successful. They each put in the time to get where they are and still do to stay there. Much respect, they've earned it. 

Cons- the only thing I can think of and this really isn't even any kind of a negative thing- it leaves me wanting more. I would like to see another similar book, a more updated version with more trainers. Maybe a Western version with cutters, reiners, working cowhorse, barrel racers, endurance riders and that type of thing. There could also be one focusing on driving for that matter. Each discipline has plenty of good trainers to choose from. We may not all agree on what or how other people do things, but maybe hearing their words as they explain the method of their madness, we would have an understanding of them and how or why they do things we don't understand.  

Here is the back cover with a few of the names included in the pages.

Richard Davison
Yogi Breisner
Mark Rashid
David O'Connor
Peter Charles
Rodrigo Pessoa
Lyra Kyrklund
Robert Dover
Henrietta Knight
Anne Kursinkski