Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Post Epic Winter Tour (EWT) 2014.

I think EWT 2014 will have lasting effects on both DC and me (I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it).  

For me, it has changed the way I think about my approach to showing, and how I handle each day individually.  It has also made me less “year end” oriented, and more “plan for each show and see how it goes.”  When I walked into the idea of EWT, it was to garner experience, ride with the best of the best, and maybe win some ribbons along the way.  All of those things certainly came true, but it also gave me perspective that taking each show, or even each DAY of each show as an individual challenge.  For some reason being on the road for that long put less pressure on the “end” and more focus on the “here and now” for me. 

For DC, I came away with a horse that feels much more trained than when I started.  He’s STILL a pregreen horse after all, and is only a seven year old.  Even though we’ve had our moments of success I need to keep that in mind in our approach to showing, riding, and training.  In my experience, green horses usually react one of two ways when returning from a show.

This reaction comes when a horse is fairly unconfident, and shows me that they need to grow up a little before showing again. 
2. I am the shiznitt of all shiznitt horses, so badass and brave.  Look at me and how cool I am.

For me, this horse is one that is ready to really come into his own from a showing perspective.  He has the confidence to face the challenges, and although he might not always react in a way that I want, I’ve successfully brought him along to a point of being able to handle many different situations.

DC most definitely falls into the latter category.  Ever since our return, he’s really been one of the most fun horses to ride I can imagine.  He tries his hardest, he is supple, soft, and forward, and he’s really showing a ton of confidence under saddle.  Except when there are maniacal pony killing horses around, then all bets are off. 

I also finally am posting the picture I bought from WEF for all to see.  Well all beyond facebook.


Although it is not my favorite if his jumping style, I thought the framing and background were worth it. 

Which leads me to another subject.  If I were to pick one of the following photos from Gulfport to order, which one should I choose?

Feedback is welcome!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Busy Blogger

Mostly I liked this title because of the alliteration, and I am a huge alliteration fan.  I also like palindromes.  Like my name.  It’s a palindrome which always made me feel cool growing up.  There’s really not much that can be more nerdy (nerdier?) than thinking you’re cool because your name is a palindrome. 

Back to task….

I haven’t blogged in exactly a week(!!) because this working rider has been more working, less rider, and even much less blogger due to that job that pays the bills requiring a lot of my time. 


So, what has happened in a week? 

Well, I am happy to report that pufferfish went back to his ocean, and a normal leg has returned in its place.  We had a lovely ride with a few small jumps on Friday, a nice hack on Saturday, and a GREAT lesson on Sunday. 

I mentioned our hack on Saturday was “nice.” Nice was the only word I could come up with as although a majority of it was actually quite good, there was another 10% where the drama was so…dramatic, it deserves a story of its own. 

The arena at my barn backs up to a small paddock where the barn owner turns out her horses as an alternate to the larger pastures.  On Saturday she had turned out her rusty trusty retired jumper with the small pony/mini named Jitters.

As you can see Jitters is just about the cutest bug in a rug you could ever imagine. The Rusty Trusty Retired Jumper (RTRJ) has been turned out with him consistently for over a year.  For whatever equine reason, on Saturday, RTRJ decided that Jitters was the bane of all evil and MUST. DIE. NOW. 

Literally during the middle of my hack I look up and RTRJ is trying to kill the little pony, chasing him, cornering him, kicking at him, and going to the extent of picking him up with his mouth and tossing him to the ground like a play thing.  Little Jitters was squealing at the top of his little lungs.  He sounded more like a little pig and less like a little pony.   As you can imagine, my panic ensued, and I started yelling at RTRJ to DROP THE PONY from atop DC’s back.  I jumped off of DC and with flailing arms and lots of yelling tried to save the pony from afar. 

DC  was not as impressed with this display as I was hoping RTRJ would be, and proceeded to run quickly backwards in order to escape the crazed person who was formally his perfectly normal rider.  I tried to maintain my hold on DC while still yelling at RTRJ.  As you can imagine this did not go well.  Quickly the situation turned from panic to pretty much dire as RTRJ was still trying to kill the pony, and now DC had escaped and was RUNNING FOR HIS LIFE around the farm property, bridle, saddle, and all. 

At that moment I had to make a decision; rescue my horse, or rescue the pony.  Given that the property is fully fenced, and that there isn’t anything of immediate danger, I decided running for the pony was the way to go.  As I saw my horse sprinting with tail straight up in full arab mode (that’s hot) away from the arena out of the corner of my eye, I went and caught RTRJ and put him back in his stall safely away from Jitters. 

Another rider at my barn came running over to see what all of the fuss was about, and I asked if she might be willing to go catch the wild running willie beast of a DC for me so I could check out the pony.  Although shaken, in a fair amount of shock, and with a few terrible bite marks on his back from being picked up and shook like a dog toy several times in a row, Jitters is a tough little thing and ended up being fine.  DC, too ended up in fine form, and somehow didn’t even manage to break my bridle or reins during a full-fledged 15 minute gallop around the farm. 

I ended my day with a little trotting around the ring just to settle the nerves (more mine than his), and said a little thankful prayer that things turned out just fine for all involved. 

When I say I have adventures, I seem to mean it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I get to review stuff! Part 1 – Higher Standards Leather Care

I’m calling this part 1 in hopes that someday someone will want me to review something else and therefore I will get to do a part 2.

Higher Standards Leather care is a result of trial and error by a horse enthusiast, Libby Henderson.  The full story on how she created the soap, and other reviews can be found on her Etsy Store and Website.

When Libby contacted me about reviewing her saddle soap and balm, my immediate reaction was YES, my secondary reaction was “what if I hate it, and then this nice lady has sent me a product she’s proud of and I can’t say nice things?”  Throwing caution to the wind (and recognizing that I had just used the last drop of my passier lederbalsam), we exchanged contact information, and I agreed to do a review.

First she asked me to pick a scent.  Scent?  Yes, Libby makes a variety of scented saddle soap, even rotating flavors with seasons.  Currently available are:

Plain Bay - Unscented

and my selection

Rumor has it that if you’re really nice to her she’ll make a custom scent just for you.  I’m imagining TJ’s Drakkar Noir and DC’s Peppermint Paddock Cakes are next on her mass distribution list.

A few days later a package arrived which included soap, balm, candy, and instructions.  Yes candy, this woman knows how to treat a customer.  

I must confess.  I am not a daily tack cleaner kinda gal.  It is one of those embarrassing things about me that I’m now admitting to a worldwide audience of readers.  My name is Anna and I do not clean my tack each time I ride.  


Nonetheless I do actually clean tack on some sort of irregular random basis.  Perhaps the Higher Standards name of the soap will give me a desire to have higher standards on my tack cleaning regularity.  

Given that I had PLENTY OF TIME to clean tack at the barn last weekend, I pulled out all of DC’s schooling bridles, DC’s saddle, my half chaps and paddock boots, and my leather open fronts to do a thorough job.  

The instructions included were very specific (I love specific instructions), and also said “if you use it after every ride you won’t need conditioner.”  Oops. Maybe that will be my mid-year resolution.  Quarter year?  Whatever.

When I opened up my soap, I was pleased to find there was a sponge included for cleaning purposes.  Well, less pleased after I spent 20 minutes searching for a sponge ahead of time.  Tack sponges are worse than socks when it comes to me keeping track of them.  

I have another confession to make.  I didn’t take any “before” pictures of my tack.   Why?  Because it’s saddle soap, and conditioner, and I already use the expensive stuff, so what kind of a difference could they make really?  Apparently a huge one.  I have to honestly say, my bridles have never cleaned so easily and with such gleaming results.  The grime and grossness came off easily with minimal scrubbing.  They simply turned out soft, supple and gorgeous.  And DC’s saddle?  Even without the conditioner my saddle went from dull and multi-toned to a rich color of evenness and beauty.  I’ve honestly never seen a change like that from a simple cleaning.

After cleaning, but before conditioning

Lesson learned.  Take before pictures every time.

I actually bought DC’s saddle from Devocoux as a demo saddle that had been a demo for quite a while.  It has a pretty significant butt print on the seat, and sweat marks on the panels from demo misuse.  After using the conditioner, I was truly impressed with how it managed to even out the discoloration on the seat, and the sweat marks were minimized significantly.

After conditioning.  Note I was supposed to wipe off excess.  Let's pretend that happened after I took this pic.

I know you can't see "before" pics, but just imagine a butt print and sweat marks that are much worse than those pictured.

End result is that Libby seems to be a miracle worker when it comes to leather care.  I can’t wait to try it on TJ’s tack which is admittedly even worse than DC’s.  I should be shunned.