Sunday, July 31, 2011

Austin Wizard Academy?

One would think I would stop laughing at this sign eventually. I took this picture on the way back from Greta's new barn, and I still chuckle every time I see it, because I cannot help but imagine a small lot with a bunch of people running around in cloaks and scarves and pointy hats on broomsticks playing "muggle Quidditch" and trying to make a feather levitate and watching 'A Very Potter Musical' (yeah, there's a musical).

There's a reason we say "Keep Austin Weird". We got t-shirts, too :)

Another pony poetry video...

Greta's New Digs

Greta moved today so she'll be closer to the university! She'll be kept in a large 12'x24' stall until she's ready to be turned out in a small mare pasture. I'm really going to miss the old place, but I really like this place for both Greta and I and I'm excited for our new adventure!

I'm still chuckling about that sign at the end. ATX locals might also recognize the Salt Lick BBQ entrance, it's right down the road from the new barn haha! There's also a very grand Hindu temple and two very nice show barns nearby: Oakhaven does dressage and jumping and brings in some big name clinicians and Weddle Training Stables does Arabs at the big national breed shows.

Also, a product review: SmartCalm Ultra paste really worked. She was so chill getting off the trailer. You can see in the video she was not dopey, still alert, just not panicky. Thank goodness I did the buy 1 get one free deal. Very happy.

Friday, July 29, 2011

This is Stylish: Jodhpur Boots and Dresses

Jack Wills is indeed "Fabulously British" with the floral dress, merino wool cardie and socks, and (in true touch with the UK's very prominent horse world) some brown jods.

I love Jack Wills. I don't own anything by them because it's so expensive, BUT it's all so cute!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Setffen Peters, Ravel, and Avatar music at Aachen CHIO 2011 FTW! It's a shame they didn't win, especially when the winner Totilas and Matthias Alexander (I'm not surprised, and I didn't like the poor horse with Gal or Alexander) looked so iffy and Peters and Ravel looked so relaxed and loose, but good Lord, this one had my psyched!

Maybe I'm biased towards Peters, but you can tell from the audience reaction that I am not alone.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Musical Freestyle Music Ideas....

So, I'm sure every avid dressage rider and/or fan has seen or participated in a musical freestyle. The goal of these things is to find music that highlights the horse and his strengths, grabs people's attention, pays ode to the freestyle's origin in the pre-modern courts of Europe, and is just a pleasurable piece of art to watch. Think ice skating, ballet, and all those other things. Yah? So we have that bit down.

Now, I'm no freestyle expert. Frankly, I've never done one. BUT I am saying these things based on all the ones I've spent watching on YouTube (heehee).

My biggest qualm poorly blended or chosen music. I know we can't all hire a professional to mix things up for us, but make you get several opinions from both horsey and non-horsey people to A) see if the music flows well, B) goes well with the horse's movement (a note on that below), C) has a nice beat that you and your horse can keep up with.

On B, I have seen some people do "inside joke" music: the music fits the horse's personality, BUT in no way does it fit their gaits.

I won't go on that much further, because I'm not an expert haha!

For the big, bold, dramatic mover: pick something that is just that, big, bold, and dramatic! And please, no 'Pirates of the Caribbean' music. Overdone. Same goes for 'Dancing Queen' lol. There is a lovely track from the 'King Arthur' soundtrack called "Another Brick in Hadrian's Wall". Move a little bit farther into the music and you get some wonderful bass and percussion and dramatic orchestral pieces, starting at about 0:45. It even starts to get a nice beat for a big canter.

The 'Avatar' soundtrack also has some really cool music, and if you want to add an exotic touch without going too tribal, this is also a good place to start. This is one of my favorites, and an iconic piece from the movie, called "Climbing up Ikinmaya - The Pathway to Heaven". There's a subtle beat of the maraccas in the beginning that could do well with a working trot or canter, and some of the percussion beats later on would work well with collected trots or passage, and the choral climax towards the end would do well with a burst of an extended canter.

These types of music seem to do well with a horse that has big gaits, but not very defined or snappy or electric ones. Think a big draft or heavy warmblood, yah?

For the more electric horse: there's all kinds of fun things you can do! I had a friend who said she had trouble with her horse's electric gaits for a freestyle (Oh, whatever shall we do?!) She had some songs she liked, but she couldn't find songs with a consistent, snappy beat that would highlight her horse's gaits. I said, "Have you looked into remixes?"

NEVER forget to look into the remixes of songs. Let's take a lovely song called "Cosmic Love" by Florence and the Machine. A great song, but not very many parts of a consistent beat that a horse could work with. PEST has an awesome remix. The very beginning, if mixed up and repeated, would do very well for a canter, as well as most of the song. Maybe not for all the gaits, but it's a place to start. The good thing about remixes is that you can take a song you like that may not have a steady beat, and find one that does have a steady beat.

And for the Gaga lovers, there is a great remix of "Bad Romance" by Starsmith. There is plenty of play with the beat in the song, so if mixed right, could serve all the gaits and be very electric at the same time.

AND there is a wonderful style of music from the other side of the world called Bhangra and Bollywood. Don't believe me? Check out this song called "Discowale Khisko (Move Over Disco)". Need a remix? There's one on the soundtrack lol! Although I think the beat is a bit quick for a freestyle, but who knows?

Another bhangra beat that sounds both Western and exotic is "Majajne" by Suskshinder Shinda. Look at music from around the world! You can find some cool stuff.

For the cute mover: this is a bit easier! Rock n' Roll songs and most pop songs sound really cute. Try some Brit rock like The Ting Tings or Two Door Cinema club to spice things up a bit. "Shiver" by Coldplay would sound good, or perhaps "Wake Up" by Arcade Fire. Really, now is the time you can mix and match some of your favorite pop songs. You want to have some fun, make sure not to play down your horse's strong points, and keep it appropriate. Here is some lovely inspiration from Catherine Haddad. Granted, Winyamaro is not exactly a cute mover, BUT the song usage is fun and a great idea!

That last example is also a great reminder to look for instrumental versions of songs (like those P!nk songs) on YouTube. If you like a certain song but the lyrics take away from the performance, guarantee that some techie out there has taken that song pulled the lyrics. They are EVERYWHERE! Like the instrumental version of Coldplay's Strawberry Swing. Cute, cool, classy, and calm. Of course, the lyrical version sounds great as well!

P.S. that last song is what I would love to do a freestyle to. I have yet to look and see if it would fit Greta, though. It might not!


Those are the ideas I can think up of. Let's get some freestyle input brain juices flowing!

On Vaulting...

I found out there's a vaulting school here in Austin, that's where this was filmed at. It also got me to thinking about vaulting. Here are my assessment's so far:

It's BEAUTIFUL to watch.

I asked the girl why they didn't wear helmets in vaulting (I have always wanted to know why that was!) and she said that it was because 1) "vaulting is the safest equestrian sport", 2) it throws them off balance. I'm sorry, but I would be scared poopoo-less if I was standing on a cantering horse without some form of protection! I know "Fabio" is probably quite bombproof, as all vaulting horses probably are, but still! At least she wears a helmet when she rides.

Vaulting is supposed to be very good for balance, and it will definitely help you develop a feel of where the horse is underneath you: something great to know when riding!

According to studies by the FEI, vaulting horses tend to be the happiest, and they are definitely crossed trained, including upper level dressage and hunters (often both!) I mean, LOOK at the muscles and expression on those horses! They have to be truly round, otherwise you'll be riding on a hollow wreck! The horse for Team France in the video link below is one I would LOVE to ride!

It's pretty cool and at the same time terrifying to watch. Let us look at, for example, a small child at the top of a human pyramid upon a galloping horse in a very loud and crowded arena (ignore the costumes, they are French). Cool and terrifying!

I am also loving the Daft Punk music they used (think Tron: Legacy, because they helped to compose the soundtrack!)

And I've always wanted to point this out: it looks like an extremely awkward sport. You are constantly groping your teammates!

But really, I don't know much about vaulting. I had little success in gymnastics when I was a child. I still can't do a cartwheel or a backflip! I can barely somersault without feeling like I'm about to crush each of my vertebrae, because I do it too slowly and cautiously!

Vaulting is probably quite mysterious to us saddle-sitters. It confounds us and fascinates us, or just plain makes us want to say, "What are you? CRAZY?"

Thoughts on "the other white meat" of equestrian sports?

Oh, and vaulters: I really admire what you do. That takes guts and some natural talent that only very few have. And, like I said earlier, to see a horse and rider doing something like that is quite beautiful.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quote of the Day - Mary King

"Given all that we ask of [our horses], the least we can do as riders is look after them well and make sure they're as happy as possible. Mine spend a lot of time out in the fields at home. I try to vary their work and not dominate them, to keep them enthusiastic and thinking for themselves."

-Mary King

Thank you, Mary!

Speaking of all things British, I am in LOVE with this song, and kinda with the band, too :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

'War Horse' Trailer HD

Is it sad that I cried when I saw this trailer, and only shed a single, incredibly pathetic tear during Harry Potter? Perhaps, but Good Lord I am happy to see a movie that really shows how important horses are to people. If you've read the book (an incredibly easy read, it's geared towards elementary school children, but, like Black Beauty, a profound and thoughtful classic nonetheless) then you understand how wonderfully it describes that partnership. I know where I'll be this Christmas!

ANOTHER Pehrsson video...

Click on the link!

This is one of him under saddle. Seriously, this poor guy seems to have gone from place to place, just like his daughter! I guess being a drifter and finally settling in must be in the genes.

Also, Greta has a half-brother named Potenza. I cannot find any info on his new locale, if you have any let me know, just for grins and giggles I suppose!

She also has another half-brother in Santa Fe that used to be in training with Keene Dressage: free-jumping video, June 2010 video, and a May 2010 video. According to her website, he was sold to an amateur dressage rider.

And according to the Rocking M website, she also has a half-brother named Peter that was in training with Steffen Peters, but that's all I can find so far. Once again, any info would be cool.

Penelope, Pehrsson, Potenza, Prodigy, Peter, Vogue: all oh-so interesting!

Monday, July 18, 2011

2011 - Stuart Horse Trials - Socks' Helmet Cam with Commentary

Doug Payne riding Rivertown Lad at the 2011 Stuart HT at prelim where "Socks" finished 8th. It was fun to listen to the commentary. I thought I heard him drop a potty-mouth word towards the end coming down the curve on the hill, but I probably would have too haha! Socks runs like Greta: they get so into the gallop and focused on what's ahead, they get really strong and your seat has to become an anchor so they'll slow up and refocus a bit! A half-halt at full gallop lol!

Lesson 7-11-2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Quick, Cheap Horsey Tricks

I've been meaning to do something like this for a long time, and I'm sure a lot of these y'all already know, BUT when I found out about them I had never heard of them being used that way, and it saves money in the long run rather than than buying specialty equine products:

Ivory Dish Soap - great shampoo, even for my white pony. Just use it like you would any other shampoo, and get the original kind.

Desitin cream - I first found out about this stuff when Greta had some dry, flaky skin on her nose. Resident vet tech told me about this stuff, and it worked. It also works to help heal wounds and prevent scarring. Apparently it can also work on areas affected by rain rot or scratches after the crusts have been gently removed, washed with a providine-iodine scrub, and thoroughly dried. It's active ingredient is zinc oxide, so it can be used for all kinds of things, not just diaper rashes!

Listerine - a great mild antiseptic. It can also be used to prevent tail rubbing, with or without equal parts baby oil. Use the original amber-colored kind.

Petroleum jelly - rub it into thick chestnuts for 4 to 5 days, and they will peel right off and be show-ready.

Baling twine - is amazing. I'm sure we all know of its many uses, but did you know it also works well as a sweat-scraper? It works especially well for that in places like down the leg.

Got any interesting stuff? I would kind of like to find a much cheaper liniment alternative to Absorbine's liniment and Show Sheen, as $20 a bottle can get a bit expensive haha.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Quote of the Day: Steffen Peters

"A horse with amazing gaits can cover up even the most un-amazing rider."

-Steffen Peters

Haven't we all seen the rider who posts on her tippy-toes, sea-saws at the bit, has incredibly unsteady hands, flaps her legs against the horse's barrel, or flops up and down like a toddler on a trotting pony? But that very nice horse with big, lofty gaits and natural self-carriage sure makes her look like a pro, huh?

I heard him say this at his clinic in Dallas last November. Still can't find the rest of my notes!

I've heard George Morris say something similar about the GP riders who click their heels over the backs of their saddles over a jump (LOL) during a Q&A in Practical Horseman. I need to find that next!

This is Stylish: Western Flair

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I would learn just so I could do this...

I will admit it. I am not instrumentally talented. Not that I feel ashamed or have a problem admitting it. I have my own talents in the visual field. But as far keeping more than a basic rhythm... I'm at a loss. Remembering all those different notes and exact sounds? That's more buttons to push than it takes to execute a perfect pirouette ;)

But seriously, I would learn to play a string instrument JUST so I could do this song and this song. And I would learn to play the piano JUST so I could do this song, this song, and this song.

What would you like to learn to do? Who knows, maybe I will pursue such things some day, and maybe you will too!

If ever I DO get to do a musical freestyle, expect to see some of those pieces in there, if it would suit The Pony ;)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Artwork Commissions

College is around the corner, which means I need money, which means I have finally started picking up art commissions for all kinds of pieces, mostly horse portraits and such so far. So, I thought I'd take my little business to the WORLD WIDE WEB!

Some samples:

Sample of a digital painting

Sample of a pencil sketch, just basic lines, one layer of pencil coated with a fixative.

Just to show I CAN draw other subjects

Sample of the wildly popular vinyl sticker pet portraits. They look cute on the back windshield.

Another bumper sticker design

Samples of blog headers.

My current full portfolio is located here on deviantART.

Pricing (a/o 7/9/2011):

Pencil Sketch on 11x14 Bristol paper - ($25 for 1-3 subjects, 3 or more is case-by-case)

Color or Pencil Drawing on 11x14 Bristol paper - ($50 one subject; $80 two subjects; $10 extra for art markers on art maker paper, also 11x14; 3 or more subjects is case-by-case)

Vinyl/Bumper Sticker Digital Drawing - ($10, and does not include price charged by vinyl/bumper sticker printer, I have a person who I can help you get in touch with for printing!)

Basic B&W Digital or Color Digital (color digital means no shading or blending of multiple colors, just a design done in a solid color, i.e. logos) - ($20 with a picture reference; $50 without a picture reference; prints are free of charge up to 11x10; prints over 11x10 and usage of pictures are case-by-case)

All Other Artwork (over 11x14 or other medium) - ($20/hour plus charge of extra supplies if needed, i.e. canvas, scratchboard, digital painting, etc.)

Blog Headers - ($10, and it's completely free for you to use wherever!)

If you are interested, please email me at

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Horse Illustrated" Feedback

So, for any of you who are subscribed to Horse Illustrated, I'm sure you read the article by Gina Miles on choosing a right bit in the August 2011 issue. My response to the magazine (probably won't be published, it's a bit long haha). My opinions, which I'm sure might be wrong in some aspects, so feel free to correct me. I do not know everything!

I agree with many of the points Gina Miles made in her article "A Bit of Advice" about choosing the right bit in your August 2011 issue, and I would readily trust her judgment and her riding skills. I believe that any horse should be able to go in a basic snaffle and still be able to perform well, and some horses do need stronger bits. I was worried, however, that certain aspects of the article might be misinterpreted and that the use of a bitless bridle or hackamore as an equally useful alternative was not mentioned. A stronger bit certainly does not always mean better performance or a happier horse. I have done catch rides on horses of several disciplines, mostly dressage and hunters, and sometimes reining, eventing, and western pleasure horses, so I have seen lots of different bits in different mouths, and I can attest that they are not all beneficial or used correctly. I sometimes see a stronger bit in the stead of proper training: they simply hide problems and make for a horse that is unhappy and does not use their body properly, which can lead to injury. The feeling of “suppleness” a rider can feel in a stronger bit is sometimes a horse simply gaping and/or over-flexing at the bit. The horse is not truly supple, and often even more rigid than before. Horses that rush jumps may jump worse in a stronger bit and should instead go back to basic gridwork and ground poles to correct this. If a horse is strong or misbehaving with a current bit, riders should also check for body pain and any dental or nervous system problems before putting a stronger bit in a horse’s mouth, and even training faults of their own such as heavy or unsteady hands, or a hard or unbalanced or unsteady seat. Bitless bridles and hackamores are also other alternatives to look into. It can re-teach a horse and rider to be much more reliant on and attentive to seat-aids rather than pure mouth control. None of this is to say that stronger bits are bad. In the right hands or on the right horse, they can be quite beneficial. But riders need to think very seriously before going to a stronger bit, do lots of research on how that bit works, consult professionals, and most importantly consider their own horse’s health and happiness before “upgrading”. I just worried that riders might misinterpret some of the article information. Keep up the good articles in this magazine and those with Gina Miles and I cannot wait to read more!

-Breanna, Texas

This is stylish: Equinite

Equinite makes jewelry with "equinite" inlays. What is "equinite" you ask? It's a magical gem that was discovered deep within the diamond mines of central Africa. It has been a prized gem for centuries....

Just kidding.

It's horse hoof clippings. The kind you usually sweep up along with the stinky apples your horse leaves after the farrier.

But who knew they could be so gorgeous?

This particular example shown is the hoof clippings plus a few pieces of tail hair from the same horse. Very much on the pricey side, with almost all items in the hundreds (I did find this sterling silver pendant for only $39, though) and that also includes $50 for hoof clipping processing, plus another $20 if you want tail hairs added, BUT if you're looking something really special to commemorate your horse, I don't know if it could get any more special than this.

They have all kinds of items, including money and tie clips, cuff links, charms, bracelets, pendants, necklaces, earrings: the whole bejeweled shi-bang.

EDIT: at the back of Horse Illustrated in their "Blue Ribbon Deals" section they usually have a %10 coupon for Equinite products!

Pehrsson - Greta's sire

^Pehrsson, by Urbino and out of Viveka

This is the only video I have been able to find of him. I have also found a few pictures out there, and only one video of any of his offspring (besides those of Greta haha). This mare, Greta's half-sister, Vogue, is out of an Oldenburg mare I believe, so she has a much flatter topline than her sire. She's being kept at Caduceus Farm, where Pehrsson is also being kept as a schoolmaster. And as of yet, I cannot find ANY pictures or info (save a pedigree) of Greta's dam, Mite Oh Been by Azure Request and out of Sister Mito. But I can find plenty of stuff about her damsire! He apparently was real big on the Appendix QH racing circuit, and I have been told his offspring are a popular choice for people looking for eventing appendix QHs.

I can actually see a bit of Greta's sire in her, really in her topline build, her soft expression, and how she moves and behaves when she gets excited or spooky about something!

Equestrian fashion: delia*s

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An end to a very eventful day...

This has been a very eventful day with mixed results, at both the national (bad result, boo, hiss) and the personal level (good, sometimes odd results! Like my really loud and terribly funny squeaky shopping cart at WalMart today. There are some things that are not worth getting embarassed over, you just have to laugh at them!)

I also found out that my last "insider" connection to the horse rescue world, the Fugly Horse of the Day blog, is being sold. So, in celebration of of 5 years of exposing bad trainers, animal abusers, faux rescues, abusive and silly training techniques, slaughter industry evils, and (of course) some of those very shoddy breeders and the poor horses that ended up as a result of their work (or unhappy accident) AND all the happy endings and court-of-law justice that came from such unfortunate situations, I am putting up the top things Cathy Atkinson said we should learn from her blog. And believe me, ANY horse person should have these things on record. Ah, the end of a good era, although it will still continue away from the public eye! And she will still be writing the occasional article for
Horse Illustrated!

Let us begin:

- Old horses are never skinny because they are old. Old horses that are skinny have a problem that can be fixed 99% of the time.

- Slaughter is never the right answer. Slaughter provides a paycheck for irresponsible ownership and irresponsible breeding. Are there more horses than homes right now? You bet. The solution is the same sort of anti-breeding campaign that has worked VERY successfully in dogs and cats.

- Stallions are never ill-behaved because they are stallions. Stallions are ill-behaved because of a human permitting them to bounce around like an orangutan on crack. Expect gelding behavior from your stallion and you will get it from most stallions, of any breed. If he’s still an idiot, that means he needs to be a gelding. Great stallions are not a threat to everyone in a 20 foot radius when led down the aisle.

- There is no miracle about birth. Mosquitos breed. A thirty year old horse that is still in a great home and receiving excellent care…THAT is a miracle and something to be heartily applauded.

- That sick feeling in your stomach is NEVER wrong. If you feel it about a trainer, barn, etc. – RUN and take your horse(s) with you.

- Breeding animals responsibly isn’t easy. It actually takes a lot of research, knowledge and money. Most people should never breed an animal.

- Horses appreciate having a kind, fair, consistent leader — not a best friend that they can plow over and push around.

- That said, temper tantrums are counterproductive in everything from horse training to the job world. Learn to have self control. Not every impulse needs to convert itself into an action. Walking away is always better than losing it.

- Every time you think “oh, I should fix that, but it’ll be fine for tonight” — it won’t be. This is like a law of nature. Fix it tonight.

- Every time you think that something might be a bad idea, it is probably a bad idea. Remember the gal who tied the lead rope to her waist…

- The reason you have to report abuse or neglect is because horses and other animals can’t type or use the telephone. You are the only chance they have. Take pictures FROM THE ROAD…NEVER trespass. Go down to animal control or the sheriff’s and file a report. Call in a few weeks and follow up. If you fear you are being ignored, and that the situation is urgent, call your local media. Post to horsey message boards and blogs with the numbers to call to demand action. Getting a prosecution is a long, difficult but very rewarding road, especially when you see the horses safe in new homes that do take care of them.

- You cannot tell a rescue is good from their web site or Facebook page. Please support GFAS Accredited Rescues or rescues that you can visit in person (ideally, on a regular basis) and verify are taking proper care of their animals. Also look for a lot of before/after pictures proving the horse improved, as well as the ability to account for the whereabouts of horses adopted out years ago.

- You will not enjoy riding and your horse more from attending clinics or watching videos. You will enjoy riding and your horse more from riding a lot and taking lessons from a good trainer so that riding becomes easier and your ability to communicate with your horse improves. The better you ride, the less equine misbehavior you will experience. If you have fear issues, the #1 most valuable thing you can do to combat them is improve your riding, because that makes scary things happen less often.

- Also, on fear issues, allow me to quote something I read on Facebook and loved: “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes. ~ William Gibson” Stop thinking you’re a shitty rider because your trainer is an insecure asshat who has to yell at and belittle students to make him/herself feel better. GET A NEW TRAINER.

- Turn-out is NOT optional. How well would you perform if you were locked in a shower stall whenever you weren’t at work? All horses need regular turn-out.

- Colic is 99% avoidable with daily turnout, regular rotational deworming (or fecals to determine what is needed), fresh and clean water available 24/7, a low stress environment, sand treatment if you’re in the sandy part of the country, and a consistent diet. If you are having colics frequently, figure out why.

- Proper conditioning is the #1 thing you can do to lower your vet bills and extend your horse’s useful life. When you do not ride all week and then go out on hilly trails for six hours on Saturday, do not come crying to me when your horse pulls a suspensory. That is like you trying to run 20 miles once a week after sitting in your recliner eating Ding Dongs the rest of the time … let’s see you do it. And folks, when your trainer is telling you in a lesson to push your horse past what YOU know your horse’s fitness level is, you have to say no. Ask yourself who will be paying the vet bill…will it be your trainer? Uh, no. So you have to have the guts to say, he’s tired, I want to quit now and cool him out. Even if he’s being bad, do something easy that he can get right, and then quit. There’s no value to making a training “point” that results in a horse that is out of commission for six months!

- It really is true…the vast majority of equine misbehavior results from pain. Before you punish, check for a sore back or neck, lameness, or dental problems. Check saddle fit, make sure the horse hasn’t been crammed into too-small shoes.

- Parents, put a helmet on your child every time they are on a horse. It is a long way down and all it takes is landing wrong to be a quadriplegic. When you are an adult, you can do as you see fit, and assume the risks you see fit, but a 5 year old cannot make those kind of adult choices. While we’re on the topic, stop overmounting your kid…the rest of us are all tired of watching in horror to see if the child will survive the parade on the jiggy horse who looks about to explode, or the hunter round on the horse who is clearly running off, or the barrel run on the horse who is bouncing off the arena walls like the meth-head stripper on “Intervention” was bouncing off her room walls.

- No one person has all the answers when it comes to horses. Any of you might come up with an amazing solution to a training or health issue (or diagnose a pesky health issue that the vet couldn’t figure out). Read, read, read, and watch the trainers in your discipline whose horses are both performing well and seem happy (i.e. bright expression, happy ears, fluid movement, a general aura of enthusiasm while performing). I highly recommend The Horse for learning more about horse health. I also highly recommend the Chronicle of the Horse message board as a resource…you’ll find excellent information there.

- Finally, when you are between that proverbial rock and a hard place, and I know those situations happen, euthanasia is (100% of the time) a better solution than the auction. Yes, it will cost a few hundred dollars, so make the call while you still can, after you have made a true good faith effort to place the horse in a checked-out, proper home, but before you are down to your last $50 and your unemployment has run out. The only one who suffers when a horse is euthanized is his owner…he just goes to sleep. I never think of euthanasia as a tragedy. I always think of a horse being shoved onto a double-decker as a tragedy.

Bareback 7-5-2011

She looks a bit downhill in this video. Weird. Counter-canter to rebalance her, didn't work out so well. BUT we had fun!

2 Years of a Sunny, Funny Face

So, our two year anniversary was actually May 19 lol BUT I just could not come up with anything suitable for such an amazing horse that I have been blessed to have. Re-watched Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire a month ago, and realized the title song was the perfect song for Miss Greta.

Here's to many more years of fun, my dear!

This is Stylish: Cheval Fashions Riding Shirts

A wonderful and chic idea that I hope ends up being cheaper in the future or made cheaper by another equestrian clothing company! When you're on a budget, a schooling shirt and a show shirt in one is a great idea!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Equine Americana

Happy Fourth of July!

I amazed by the beauty of America. Even just driving up North I-35 through the ranchland between Austin and Dallas, or through the vast Hill Country to Lampasas, or down 290 to Elgin, or the short spurt of oak forest to the get to the barn - places I'm familiar with - the beauty of it blows me away. The enchanting desert of the Southwest, the feeling of stun and amazement and humility peering into the Grand Canyon or driving through the Rockies, the peaceful quiet felt watching a herd of elk from the other side of a crystal river in Yellowstone, looking across the beautiful Southern Appalachians from Lover's Leap in Chattanooga, or driving through the Smoky Mountains on a cool morning with old pines and carefully crafted stone walls rushing by you - all of it fill me with a love for this country.

Because this blog is about ponies, I thought I bring to you some pictures of another place of beauty I found myself in: the lush bluegrass region of Kentucky. If you've never drove through the backroads outside of Lexington, alongside Scottish stone walls and white and black wooden fences, or sat by yourself on a cool misty morning at the Keeneland Track while the lone jockey and horse warmed-up on the track before you, or awed at the golden roof and extravagantly detailed gate of a sheik's stables, or sat under the shade of some old trees at Claiborne Farm paying your respects over Secretariat's grave... then you are missing a truly enchanting and restorative experience. The horse country of Kentucky is a wonderful mix of grandeur and simplicity. It is simply beautiful.

First, some theme music from one of my favorite movies which takes place in Kentucky, and NOW....

Here is some equine Americana from 2008:

A beautiful star spangled banner outside of a Cracker Barrel near Lexington.

Scene from the scenic drives outside of Lexington, on the way to Paris.

My dream barn! This IS the land of opportunity, right?

Scenic drive to Versailles. Many towns in Kentucky were named after French towns, cities, and nobility as a sign of gratitude for French aid during the American Revolution.

Almost all of the famous stone walls that line the back roads of the bluegrass region were hand done by hired Scottish masons. Most have been in place since the 1700s and 1800s! When some of these roads were widened less than a decade ago, the walls were carefully taken apart and redone once again by Scottish masons.

The polo fields and banquet tent at the Horse Park. There was a couple of polo tournaments being held at this time, although they were not open to all!

Riders awaiting their turn during a Saddlebred breed show at the Horse Park. Saddlebreds are a signature Kentucky breed, and an original American breed as well. What an honor it would be to compete there!

The Horse Park's Secretariat memorial. Big Red himself is buried at Claiborne Farm a few miles away in Paris, KY, where he lived out the rest of his days as a stud. His stall still remains uninhabited as they wait for a suitable successor. Such a great American stallion will be extremely hard to live up to. There was an even grander War Admiral memorial a few steps away. Both are popular spots for wedding photos.

Two Freisian horses on vacation at the Horse Park graze on a cool, misty Kentucky morning on green Kentucky grass.

Forego, a racing great, is buried at the Horse Park along with many other great horses, such as Bask and Bret Hanover. It is also the current vacation home for greats like Cigar.

The Buck Davidson statue at it's original location near the entry to the Horse Park. The amazing new stadiums were still under construction for the WEG 2010 at this time, and once they were completed this statue was moved to the entry of the new outdoor stadium, where American greats like Steffen Peters rode and brought home a bronze for his adopted country after some tough competition. Read the quote by Akiko Yamazaki, owner of Peter's WEG mount Ravel, about the opportunities she and Team Ravel found and made true in America.
More lovely Kentucky scenery. Wouldn't you like to be the person who woke up to such beauty in that house every morning?

Grazing Thoroughbreds. Many farm owners made the move from traditional white fences to black fences to save money on maintenance. They still look classy!

More Kentucky greenery.

The Keeneland Racetrack, home to some of the largest Thoroughbred auctions in the country. I love going to this track, because it's free to watch the jockeys warm-up (very) early in the morning and to go to the big auctions! You can rub elbows with sheiks and millionaires, and even though you probably won't be able to buy any of the yearling stock, it's an amazing experience.

The Keeneland courtyard. This track was used to film the match race scene between War Admiral and Seabiscuit in the 2003 movie, because it is one of the few American tracks that still retains it's original turn-of-the-century design. A very classy and well-groomed track.

The Keeneland track in the late morning. On my 2008 trip, I had gotten to the track too late in the morning to see the jockeys warming up. But on my first trip in 2005, I got to watch them and, like I have said, it beats watching the Derby any day.

The signature Keeneland jockey statues. You'll find these all over Kentucky, sometimes painted with a stable's silk colors, and often just for decoration. But they were first made popular at the Keeneland track!

Rolex also made big clocks like the ones seen at the Horse Park for the Keeneland track as well. They are huge in person and seem to be all over the place. I'd much rather these all over the place than Starbucks shops! And because they are Rolex quality, they rarely need maintenance, which is good because I can only imagine the cost to fix one of these

"Jumping" 7-3-2011

Who knew one needed to canter over ground poles like that? hahaha Yeah, excuse my eq, it's been a while, but it's getting there. I need to actually, you know, get OUT of the saddle over a jump! I've had a jumping lesson recently, and it helped a lot, but I didn't realize how unwilling I was/am to give a bit on the reins and to stay in two-point all the way over a jump haha. I also need to work on not roaching my back. Granted, I have seen worse, but I still need to work on it. This will be wonderful for my core!

Greta loves jumpies and dressagies. What a good girl!

The tall girl who would rather ride ponies than warmbloods...

Isn't this little lady a cutie?

Ponies (I'm mostly talking about smaller horses here, those under 16 hands, I just like to call them ponies lol) are my favorites. They are short, easier to manage, you're closer to the ground, they don't have massive gaits. I like <16 hand horses.

Too bad I have a little height discrepancy!

I would much rather have a smaller horse freaking out on the other end of a lead rope than a 17.3 hand beast. I would much rather bounce around on tiny gaits rather than feel like I'm about to be surged off into space on huge, albeit beautiful, gaits. I'd much rather groom a horse whose back I can see over than hop on a stool to put a saddle on and hope that big boy doesn't get ancy about the change in the human's height!

Most of the horses I get to ride, including Greta, are all under 16 hands, although Greta is 15.3 hands so she barely makes the cut haha! On most of them, if I were to hang my legs straight down, my femur goes almost to the bottom of their belly!

I see a lot of - although I wouldn't call it a commonality - short riders on big horses and tall riders on smaller horses. Maybe it's the little-guy factor for the short people? I don't know for sure as far as us tall ones go. I'm sure a lot of your taller pros who can seem a tad big on some of their client's horses would probably much rather ride a proportionate big beasty boy, but seeing as they're getting paid, well... they'll ride little firecracker anyway.

I just think it's odd. One would think tall, long-femur girl would like big horses, but, no, not really. I love any horse, don't get me wrong, but Greta is a nice comfortable height for me.

What size pony (er, horse... we can count ponies too!) do you like to ride?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Twist N Shout Pine "Twist"

Finished reining stallion I was warming up. He's a fun little guy. Secretly I want to buy him and turn him into a dressage stud hahahaha. He could do it too!

There's one bit where he swapped his leads, but I thought he didn't, so right after he did that I asked him to trot because I thought he was on the wrong lead. Oops! He swaps leads auto-magically haha.