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Foto Friday: Show Prep

Last night I went up to the show grounds to set up stalls and drop off a few of my things. The good news is that the shoe is only about 20 minutes from my house, so it’s no big deal to drive back and forth a few times. The bad news is that I have so much stuff, there is no way for it to fit into my car in just one trip. Oops.

Car loaded with for bear, with half of my accouterments 

 

Home away from home for the weekend

 

Not quite the Four Seasons, but it will do

 

Ring I, where the Hunt Team Classic will be held

 

Ring II, where the Limit Hunter Division is held

Wish us luck!

Equestrian Miss Manners Boarder Etiquette

Equestrian Miss Manners I: Boarder Etiquette

I’m not big on etiquette in everyday life; elbows on tables, speaking out of turn and worrying about hostess gifts are just not things that get my gears grinding. I do appreciate common courtesies though, such as saying “please” and “thank you” or washing your hands after you use the restroom [and before you shake my hand]. I subscribe to these same philosophies of using common courtesy at the barn.

Many of us are boarders, meaning we share our facilities with other people… the key word there being share. In my opinion, there are a few things that all boarders should do in order to respect the fellow equestrians who you board and ride with. Everyone has their own pet peeves, but basic boarder etiquette is important to keeping the barn safe and efficient. So here are my top five boarder etiquette tips! Follow these and you might even avoid some unnecessary barn drama!

Boarder Etiquette Tip #1: Clean up after yourself

If you groom and tack up in crossties or a designated area, please clean up after yourself. I’m not worried about scooping poop within 30 seconds, but don’t leave for the night without picking it up eventually. Same goes for the mud you picked out of your horse’s feet and all the hair you just brushed off him. Try to keep all of your “stuff” contained.. whether it’s in the aisle or stall because you just finished grooming, or whether it’s all of Hershey’s blankets in the tack room. Condense what you can so others have some room for their stuff too.

bridle rack

Boarder Etiquette Tip #2: Ask before you borrow [and return it clean]

Want to try a new bit for your pony before you buy it? Good idea! If Sally has one, just ask her before you gank it off her bridle. And after your ride, CLEAN IT and put it back onto her bridle. Most equestrians don’t mind lending stuff to fellow boarders, but if things are always mysteriously disappearing, being returned weeks later and filthy… the generosity isn’t likely to last.

Boarder Etiquette Tip #3: Know who has priority

If you’re riding and someone else is taking a lesson in the ring, be respectful and stay out of the way as much as you can. Did someone already set a grooming box out in your favorite area? Pick a different place to brush your horse. Always be mindful of those who are less experienced than you… other riders and trainers always appreciate a little extra room for green horse or beginner rider.
horseback riding lesson

Boarder Etiquette Tip #4: Be friendly

Know the saying “you catch more bees with honey than vinegar?” It applies to your fellow boarders too. A small “Hey how are you?” can go a long way toward friendship in the barn. Tell me my horse looks good, and I’m instantly in a better mood. You don’t have to be besties with every boarder at your barn, but being nice is always appreciated.

Boarder Etiquette Tip #5: Help out when you can

We’ve all been in a situation where just one more pair of hands would be so damn helpful. So when you see it happening to a fellow boarder, take 5 minutes to do just that and lend a hand. Whether it’s grabbing a forgotten whip from the tack room, holding a horse while a rider mounts up… or helping catch a loose horse your fellow equestrians will really, really appreciate it. And then when you need help, they’ll be there for you.

What is your number one etiquette tip for boarders?

Viva Carlos Blog Hop: Bit It Up

I don’t know where L comes up with these, but she just might be the best at blog hops. I will be the first to admit I haven’t ridden a lot of horses… and don’t know very much about bits. Add that to the fact that I tend to enjoy a more minimalist look (probably another reason I show hunters) and you’ll see why I have no variety when it comes to bits. When I bought Miles they showed him in a rubber pelham, and flatted in a hunter gag. Why? I couldn’t tell you. The day I brought him on trial I took the reins out of the gag loops and turned it essentially into a loose-ring snaffle.

Miles’s previous bit rotation

Approximately 10 days later, I bought Miles and sold the gag bit. I rode him in a plain, single-jointed D-ring snaffle all winter, with zero issues. He was a bit fussy with his mouth sometimes, gaping it open when I wasn’t as soft and forgiving with my arms, but that was about it. Of course, me being the perfectionist I am, I thought I’d experiment a bit with bits (that was a terrible play on words, sorry!).

So I tried a few variations. Miles hated the loose ring french link, but liked Jess’ Eggbutt Sprenger. Unfortunately at $160, it was a bit out of the budget (okay, seriously, I promise to stop with the terrible puns!). So I tried a single-jointed D-ring Happy Mouth. And it was love. Miles is much happier about contact with this bit, and more willingly accepts contact. Every once in a while he gets a titch on the forehand, but a few half halts and some leg fix that in a jiffy.

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The true test will come this weekend when we ride in the Happy Mouth for the first time at a show. I’m bringing my regular steel D-ring snaffle and a slow-twist just in case I have too much horse… but honestly, I think it will be just fine!

 

right vs wrong

Doing What’s Right

Sometimes doing what’s right isn’t always easy; Sometimes even knowing what the best answer is can be elusive. But yesterday, in part thanks to all of your advice, I found the best answer. I’d been worrying about my showing decision all day leading up to my lesson last night. There were pros and cons to staying at 2′, and there were good points and bad points to moving up to 2’6″.

So I went into the lesson a bit agitated… and in turn agitated my horse. We just… weren’t getting along. Miles is too nice of a horse to really refuse or get angry, but if things aren’t going well, he’s also not afraid to let you know, in his own special ways. So there was lots of ear pinning, tail swooshing and even a few cow-kicks. We struggled to get enough pace at 2′ and 2’3″ and we got distracted by the liverpool sitting outside the ring. And I got mad at myself for not riding better during our last lesson before the show.

But I didn’t give up. I want to move up. I’ve wanted to move up for a long time. So when my trainer asked if I wanted to be done, or if I wanted to jump more, I asked for more. So she raised the fences and we had our best course of the night:

Once we got our groove and I started helping Miles more, we rocked. Was it perfect? Of course not! But it showed me that we are well on our way to showing 2’6″… but I’m not quite there. Above all else, I want to have a fun, positive showing experience. And not just at this show, but at every single show. It’s too much money to spend otherwise. So I’m going to school in the “big ring” at 2’3″-2’6″ on Friday, and then show in the 2′ Limit Hunter in the small ring on Saturday and Sunday. I’ll add in the Equitation division and the Pam Graham Hunter Team Classic for fun, and to show my support for the local equestrian community that means so damn much to me.

P.S. Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my last post with awesome advice!

nervous woman

Nerves & Tough Decisions

It’s Monday, and I’m already nervous about the horse show this weekend. I know it’s because I want to try to move up to the 2’6″ division, and I just don’t quite feel ready. But I also know that I will never feel 100 percent prepared. I bought a horse that can easily show 2’6″, is athletic enough to take care of me and forgiving of my mistakes… but I still have butterflies in my stomach.

My decision has been further complicated by two things: (1) USEF and (2) a slight change in the show’s schedule. The first is entirely my own fault… see I thought it was a brilliant idea to not renew my USEF/USHJA membership until I knew I was moving up to 2’6″. Our show circuits are kind of weird around here, and even though they are technically “B” rated, some divisions are not rated at all, and do not require memberships. Our 2′ Limit divisions do not require membership, 2’6″ does. So I waited until last week to go online and renew. My memberships were easy enough, but it turns out that changing Miles’s ownership was not so simple. I ended up having to submit a notarized “Ownership Affidavit” to USEF, and am still waiting to hear whether or not it’s going to be approved.

Stupid, stupid, stupid me for waiting!

crossrail girl

The second complication is actually a good thing… but it’s still not making my decision any easier. At this particular show series they always host a special night class. Usually it’s the same one at each show every year, and typically in May it’s an Equitation Medal. Each special night class always has three fence heights: 2’3″, 2’6″ and 3′. The fence height you show in is determined by the height of your regular hunter division. I have no desire to show in an equitation medal, so I really wasn’t factoring in the special night class at all.

However, last night I got an email from show management that they changed the special night class in May from the Equitation Medal to the 1st Annual “Heels Down, Eyes Up” Pam Graham Memorial Hunter Team Classic.

And I really, really want to show in it. Not only because I feel like it’s something I can do about this terrible tragedy (50% of entry fees are going into her son’s trust), but because I want to show support to my barnmates, and to the local equestrian community as a whole.

Aside from that though, the class sounds like tons of fun: teams of two horses/riders complete a two-round hunter course, with all scores combined for the final placings. I know Miles and I couldn’t totally show in the 2’3″ section, and it would be super fun to team up with my best friend N, who is showing our trainer’s horse, Diamond.

What to do, what to do?