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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is enjoying some time off work (unless you work in retail, to which I am hoping you stay sane and get to enjoy at least one adult beverage after your shift is over). This year I have so, so many things to be thankful for.

But most of all, I’m thankful for my wonderful, amazing family.

Fly On Over 5 Day Challenge

5 Day Challenge – Day 5

There’s still time to join the gift exchange! I’ll be accepting participants through next Friday, Dec. 6. Send over your name, mailing address, blog as well as two gift ideas for yourself to buckeyequine(at)gmail(dot)com.

21. Favorite classes to watch

At the big, national shows the Hunter Derby is always my favorite to watch. The brilliance of the horses and the fun, big courses are very exciting. Plus it’s fun to see the big name riders contrasting with some of the other, lesser known amateurs. I like to see the decisions they make (which turn to take, etc.) and there’s usually some mistakes made as well, which makes it even more fun to root for your favorites.

At local shows, I like to watch the 3′ Jumpers. We don’t have any jumpers above that height, and below that height it can get sketchy sometimes when the kids make mistakes (I don’t like to be scared for anyone I know!) It’s thrilling to watch the tight turns, and see the riders really go after it in the jump-off.

the jumpoff

22. What’s in your cooler at horse shows?

Water and Gatorade. I seriously have entire cooler just for those two things. I have to stay hydrated! Other than that, I love little snacks: pretzels, sweet n salty granola bars, cheese and crackers, grapes, etc. Anything that I can basically eat all day and isn’t too heavy is perfect for me.

23. One thing about showing (or riding in general) you wish you could change?

Well, I selfishly wish there were 2’3″ divisions at shows near me. I know lots of people hate that there seems to be a division for every little thing now (like 18″ hunters for chestnut thoroughbreds who never raced with owners aged 12 1/2 to 15), but there is a big difference between the 2′ Hunters in the smaller rings, to the 2’6″ Hunters in the big ring with oxers, and I would love to have a stepping stone!

24. Your ringside crew

At shows, I travel with an entourage. Okay, not quite, but it does take a village to get me in the ring! I always have my fiancé, Sam, who is my holder of stuff (water bottle, dirt rag, course maps, video camera), and of course my trainer.

And most of the time I have a cheering section with several friends from my barn, because who doesn’t love to hear applause and a “whoop, whoop!” every time they exit the ring?!

Sometimes my parents attend as well, and usually my mom can’t avoid holding something (even though she’s passed on her official holder of stuff title to Sam).

I’m very lucky to have so many people support me on a regular basis!

At a horse show in 2012, with my dad, Sam and my mom! They rock.

25. Best prizes

I love ribbons, but I also love getting practical prizes for bigger awards (special classes, year-end awards, etc.) My favorites are neck ribbons because there’s not a horse on the planet that doesn’t look like a BAMF with a big ribbon around his neck/ Also coolers because then you can tell the entire world for the rest of your life how awesome you are. Other excellent prizes include people blankets (always useful!), saddle pads, t-shirts, horse treats, candy (SKITTLES!) and gift cards to the mobile tack unit.

Yeah… really I’m happy with any prize because I love all the things, haha.

Fly On Over 5 Day Challenge

5 Day Challenge – Day 4

So far we have 14 participants in the Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange! Help me get up to 20 by sharing this contest on your blog/social media and I’ll send you an extra present. ‘Cause, ya know, I’m not above bribery!

16. One thing you’d like to change about your horse

I wish Miles wasn’t quite so grumpy about all things grooming. I don’t mind that he doesn’t love it, but I hate that he doesn’t even like being brushed AT ALL. It makes spa time much more difficult and much less enjoyable for me. Plus it sucks because I love having a beautifully groomed and well-turned out horse… which can be a challenge when he doesn’t even want to be brushed with a soft brush.

17. Your horse’s future

The more time that I own Miles, the more I see us doing some of the things I had imagined with Visa… which I both love and hate. I hate that Visa isn’t here, but I love that I’ve found another horse to bond with. Most of these things have nothing to do with my riding or showing goals, ironically: I hope that I can do a trash the wedding dress session with Miles; I hope I can teach Sam to ride on Miles; I hope I can teach my kids to ride on Miles.

But most of those things are still fairly far into the future. So what do I see more immediately for my horse? Rocking the 2’6″ hunter ring, carting me around my first Hunter Derby and maybe even teaching me a thing or two about equitation.

Miles Walking

18. Your worst show ever

I’m not quite sure if it counts, but this is my most vivid worst horse show memory. At the time, I was showing in 4-H and my big aspiration was to qualify for State Fair. I tried with my horse, but we didn’t make the cut and I was pretty disappointed. However, that year I had also joined the judging team (which is like a future open show judge competition) and we did qualify for State Fair. So we make the trip 140 miles south horseless, but I was so. freaking. excited.

Until I got there.

And then I saw every horse looked like it had just won the Quarter Horse Congress; Seriously, every single one was so beautiful and all the riders were so well put together and I just knew that me and my horse were never going to make it there. I cried the entire time we were at State Fair. It was horrible.

19. Favorite horse show venue

I haven’t shown at very many different venues, but my favorite is definitely Far & Away Farms, where our local Equivents Show Series are held. It’s a private farm, but it’s so gorgeous. They just built a new indoor arena, which they clear out and put up temporary stalls for all of the horses that haul-in, so even though the stalls are temporary, we’re in a permanent structure and not a tent.

They have one indoor for warm-up, as well as a smaller section of one ring. They have two rings going throughout the entire show, and the jumps are always beautifully maintained, with boxes and fresh flowers and greenery for the hunters. They also have a gazebo inbetween the two rings with directors chairs for spectators, as well as a small tent with lounge chairs.

The show management is very friendly, but they run the show efficiently and are constantly giving updates via loud speakers to the barns about what class is going on. The prices are reasonable for the area, the competition is good, but the atmosphere stays more or less relaxed… which is the most important to me!

nibbles from pony

20. Your show day routine

We usually haul up to the show sometime on Friday, and I school all the fences in my ring, just to get over everything and feel my horse’s rhythm in the show environment. It’s also nice to ride the lines and see where I need to half halt or where I need to push.

Most of my divisions are in the afternoon, and usually I’m lucky enough to have someone else from the barn feed in the morning, so I try to show up around 10am or 11am. I unload all my stuff (I usually take my saddle and show clothes to and from the grounds) and take my horse for a walk, and let him eat grass for about 15-20 minutes.

Then I hang out. I usually get an estimated time for my classes from the show office, but I’ll check back periodically to see how the ring is running. When my division gets close, I’ll put myself in a rotation, usually the first one if that works with my trainer’s schedule. If my division is going to go really late in the day (like 3 pm or later) I try to leave the grounds for lunch, just for a change of scenery.

I don’t need much warm-up, just about 15 minutes or so to get my horse loose, and jump a fence or two in the warm-up. I always memorize my first course well in advance, but I can only memorize one at a time. Then I go in, discuss my round with my trainer, and take a breather before completing the rest of my trips.

Fly On Over 5 Day Challenge

5 Day Challenge – Day 3

Join in on the fun! Participate in the Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange! P.S. I will be sending out a little extra goodie to all those who share the info on their blog!!

11. Critique your horse’s conformation

I like to go from front to back, so here goes: I like Miles’ kind eyes, and while his head isn’t particularly typey, it isn’t too big or too small either. His neck could be a bit thicker and more muscled, and certainly ties in a bit low, especially for what I like to see in a hunter.
I like his muscling through the shoulder and forearm though, his front legs are straight (or close enough), but his shoulder angle and pastern angle are closer to 55 degrees, rather than the ideal 45, in my opinion.
Miles is a bit long in his midsection, and especially long through the back. I’m hoping that once he gains more  muscling along his topline, that it won’t look quite so prominent.
Moving on to the hindquarters, there is good muscling throughout and I quite like the straightness of his back legs. Compared to the shoulders though, you can see how the hindquarters are just built slightly too small — they are too close in size to the musculature in the front end of the horse. Some of this I think can be corrected through more exercise, but unfortunately some of that is just how Miles is built.
Overall? Not the best conformation and I won’t be winning any model or conformation hunter classes. But he is functional, and that’s all I care about!
Miles Confor Spet 2013
September 2013

12. Horse’s favorite riding exercise

Miles likes to jump hunter courses. All day, every day he would pick “let’s go jump around” to anything else… except maybe stand in the middle of the ring and take a nap. But it would have to be hunter courses — jumper turns are too tough. And the more going on, the better. Miles thinks it’s always better to have lots and lots of friends about and fun, interesting jumps.

13. Favorite spa day products

Miles hates spa time, so my grooming routine is a lot shorter than I would like it some days. But it’s honestly just not worth fighting over. So my favorite things include:
  • Show Sheen – Instead of actually currying to get your horse clean, Miles prefers to be instantaneously clean… or rather LOOK clean, but not actually BE clean. It also detangles Miles’ tail… which he hates to be brushed.
  • Head & Shoulders Shampoo – When I’m actually looking to get Miles clean, bathing is honestly the easiest (it’s the one grooming routine he objects the least to). Head & Shoulders blasts away any and all skin grossness, is easy to stop and pick up at my local Walgreens on the way to the barn, and rinses off fairly easily.

14. Three best things about your horse

  1. Miles is calm, cool and collected — he hardly ever bats an eyelash, and when he does it’s more of a “stop and stare”
  2. Miles can take a joke — He’s practically a professional comedian; I slam him into a fence, ask him to take a long spot and forget to release… and he just keeps going like “Oh, mom, that was funny… don’t do it again.”
  3. Miles has a personality — It might not be charming or win any awards, but I love that Miles has his own personality. It might be grumpy most of the time, but he’s not bland, that’s for sure.

15. Favorite picture of your horse

Fly On Over 5 Day Challenge

5 Day Challenge – Day 2

Don’t forget to join the Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange! It’s a great opportunity to thank all those in the blogosphere that have supported you the entire year… plus who doesn’t love to get gifts in the mail?!

6. Favorite equestrian book and movie

Can I pick more than one book? Growing up I loved the Thoroughbred Series by Joanna Campbell. According to Wikipedia, the series started in 1991 and numbered 72 books, plus some other special editions and spin-offs. I definitely did not read all 72, but they were great stories for young horse-crazed teens like myself.Now? I’m really not sure. I don’t read classic equestrian books, like Hunter Seat Equitation By George Morris (although, I probably should). But I do enjoy The A Circuit by Catherine Hapka and Georgina Bloomberg. I guess I like my equestrian novels like by TV: soul-sucking and pointless.

For movie, it’s a toss-up between Seabiscuit and Secretariat. I know, I know, probably the two most commercialized horse movies in recent history, but I really do love them. The book Seabiscuit was based on was phenomenal, and even though Tobey Maguire isn’t my favorite, he did a great job. And the way that Secretariat was done, highlighting Penny Chenery Tweedy just pulled at my heartstrings. So sue me, I’m commercialized.


7. Most common riding misconception

The comment I receive most-often from family, friends and coworkers who know nothing about horses (that makes me crazy) is “why are you jumping so small?” I swear, the only exposure they’ve ever had to horses is either a) pony rides or b) the Olympics. I do not participate in either. And just because I only jump 2′ doesn’t mean it’s not fucking hard. Assholes.

8. 2 riding strengths and 1 riding weaknesses

I’m going to really challenge myself on this one, and go big picture, instead of saying “oh, my leg is weak, but I have soft hands.”

My biggest strength in riding is what I call my “trainability.” I am very focused in lessons, not afraid to ask questions to gain greater understanding and I am a really, really good listener. I might not know what to do 80 percent of the time, but if I have someone to coach me, I will get the job done (eventually).
My second biggest strength is my honesty. I am usually really good at not only being honest with myself, but honest with those around me. I can say “I rode that poorly” instead of blaming everything on my horse. I’m also generally pretty good at keeping it real: I know I’m never going to go to the Olympics and that even the 3’6″ Amateur Owner Hunters are a stretch in this lifetime.
My biggest weakness by far is my fear. I used to have that wonderful teenage invincibility, but that’s long gone now and I’m worried about falling and breaking. I know I used to school 2’6″, but now it makes me nervous. There are a lot of things about horses, including large, hot OTTBs, that I’m just plain afraid of and I know this feeling holds me back a lot.
Miles poses in Vespucci
Miles is fancy in Vespucci!

9. Least favorite thing about horses and/or riding

This one is easy: the financial burden. I hate that everything equestrian is so, so expensive. Not only because it means I sacrifice a lot to be able to own, train and show a horse (like new cars, vacations, clothes and occasionally eating more than Ramen and PB&J), but also because it is a huge deterrent to others joining our sport.

I have gained so much from my equestrian pursuits, it would take a novel to write it all down. I wish that more people had the chance to learn and feel some of the things I have with horses. Sometimes I think the money is all that stands between a girl and her love for horses, and I hate it. That girl could have been me, and I can’t imagine myself without my passion for horses.

10. What do you feed your horse?

Change direction from all of the deep, emotional stuff and let’s get down to the nitty gritty details of horse ownership. Miles currently eats a whole bunch of food, including (but not limited to):
  • Morning – 1 1/4 scoop Purina Strategy; 3 Flakes Hay
  • Noon – 2 Flakes Hay
  • Night – 1 1/4 scoop Purina Strategy + 3 scoops ProBios; 3 Flakes Hay
I’m currently trying to put some weight on Mr. Miles, and I think it’s finally working. We got a compliment from one of the boarders at the show last weekend who doesn’t see Miles very often, so I was quite pleased.

P.S. Congratulations to me on 100 posts! YAY!