Thursday, September 25, 2014

TTA Hunter Pace (Part 1)

(I am breaking this post into 2 posts.  It has literally taken me 2 weeks to get this all down...)

Tewksbury Trail Association every fall hosts a hunter pace at Christy Hoffmen's park.  The same park that I always ride at.  The hunter pace also includes private properties around the park, which is always exciting. 

What else is new though, the morning of the hunter pace I was running late.  Well according to me I was on time until I realized I was running late and, like always, I was on a very tight time schedule for the day.  My friend and I planned to be one of the first groups out.  Liam gets very nervous at the starts and I believe it has to do with all the horses and commotion that is going on.  I have found he just doesn't like waiting and things can escalate quickly with him.  The hunter pace started at 8:00am.  The park is approximately a 5 minute trailer drive over.  We figured we would tack the horses up at home, like we normally do when trailer over to this park, except for their bridles, and head over at about 7:45am to be there by 7:50am.  Quickly sign up and away we go.  Well I don't know what really happened. The only thing I can think of is that I had it in my head that the hunter pace started at 9am and not 8am.  I got up early (5:30am), walked the dog, caught up on a few blogs, and the next thing I knew I was pulling out of the driveway at 7:45am thinking how on time I am going to be, proud of my bad ass self.  I'll be to the barn by 8:15am, leaving me enough time to hook up the trailer, get Liam from the field, groom, tack up, and be on the road by 8:45am (tight, I know, but I am efficient).  As I was driving down my road, still 30 minutes away from the barn, I realized we were supposed to be pulling out of the barn at 7:45am, not 8:45am, how did I screw this up so badly?  Sent a quick text to my friend that I am on my way, and I will be there shortly.  I felt horrible the entire drive to the barn, but as it turned out she was running late as well.

I grabbed Liam out of the field and he had fun rolling in the mud over night.  New Jersey's ground has been very dry and hard because we haven't had much rain and it just happened to rain the night before the hunter pace to make the footing perfect, which was awesome, but Liam found the wettest spot in the field and had a good roll.  Thanks buddy...  I finished grooming him up and making him shine for the hunter pace.  Loaded Liam and the pony up and away we went without any difficulty.  We arrived at the park and it wasn't packed yet.  Thank goodness.  There was maybe 10 trailers there so far.  We were able to snag a great parking spot right in the front with an easy exit.  My friend and I signed up got the horses off the trailer and finished tacking up (putting their bridles on) and before we knew it we were walking down to the starting tent.  Liam was really relaxed, which suprised me, but as we got closer and closer to the start, I could feel him tense up.  The starting guy was giving 2 women in front of us the typical trail speech as we approched.  I politly said excuse me and I just wanted to let the starting guy know that my horse can misbehave at the starts.  My goal was to be able to listen along to the speech with the other 2 people that were there first.  Liam was litterly jigging around them.  You can clearly see he was ready to go.   I didn't mean to be rude or anything, but I also needed to get going before Liam became a handful.  The starting guy looked at us and said that we could go first.  Thank goodness, I thought Liam was going to jump out of his skin.

We started out slow, by walking out a little ways and then picked up the trot.  We trotted up a huge hill and made a sharp turn into the woods and came out to another field where a photographer stood taking pictures.  Liam thought the photographer was a horse eating monster.  We kept trotting along and Liam was actually being quite spooky.  Spooking at logs on the ground, blowing trees, just really silly stuff.  Then, we got to our first road crossing.  The road we were crossing is a pretty busy road and there were people there waiting to stop traffic.  Again, I politly said that my horse doesn't wait well.  I felt Liam instantly get tense at the road crossing.  We really need to work on this waiting...

Finally, I said the the gentleman, I don't mean to be rude, but my horse doesn't wait well, would you mind stopping the traffic.  I hate to be like this.  It actually really bothers me to say anything like that, but I just don't understand people.  I tell them my horse can be naughty waiting and they can clearly see him starting to act up.  Stop the darn traffice and let me continue on my way.  Yes, it isn't their fault my horse is bad, and I do need to work on it, but milage and experience is what Liam needs not being forced into the situation.

After crossing the road, Liam started to relax a little bit, but he was still really up.  He was showing off his most elastic trot.  It is actually very uncomforable.  My friend even commented on it.  We let the pony lead for a little before she started misbehaving.  The pony, who is a hunter pace master, was fresh too!  We trotted where we could and walked where we had too.  This side of the road was mostly big fields connecting properties.  There was one cool spot where we walked on top of a ridgeline and the hills were steep on both sides, we walked in this section... We actually passed a few groups and before we knew it we were crossing the busy road again.  This road crossing went much smoother.  Liam was getting a little tired.

We crossed the road and were walking through beautiful old estates.  It was incredible to see.  I never knew these homes existed back there.  I wish I remembered my phone to be able to take pictures, but in the mad rush in the morning I forgot it at the barn.  We finally ended up back in christy hoffmen's park, through the back.  It was funny.  The horses knew imidiately that we were back in the park and completely relaxed.  We went down a huge field and through a stream and ended up at the half way point hold. 

Second half of the hunter pace to follow...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Critters in all Shapes and Sizes

Meet Anne, aka: 4 paws with claws!  Saiph posted this adorable story about how she adopted Zombie, her new tripod kitty, and this gave me the idea of posting about how I adopted Anne, my very own little kitty.  To be honest, I am NOT a cat person.  Luckily Anne doesn't have any traits that a normal cat has. 

Lets start from the beginning.  Back when my life was a mess, with no direction, I was working as a groom in a horse barn to make some cash money.  One day Anne, no name at the time, strutted her way down the aisle for the very first time and into my life.  We instantly bonded.  The barn owner never saw her before, but she became a staple in everyday life very quickly.  Every morning she would help me feed all the horses by following me from stall to stall.  She would sit on the ledge outside of the stall doors while I cleaned stalls.   Literally, she followed me everywhere.  The barn owner's kids named her Anne.

Anne did have a litter of kittens while she lived at the barn. 


I only have pictures of 2 of the 4 kittens, and the pictures were not taken when they were kittens (friends adopted these 2 cuties and I stole photos off their facebook, hehe).  The other 2 remaining kittens still live at the barn where I found Anne.  Soon after her litter, Anne was spayed to prevent that from happening again...

One day I was dropping hay out of the hay loft and there she was following me around like always.  I noticed her under the hay loft door just as I was letting go of the hay bale and splat.  The hay bale landed right on her.  I don't even know how I made it down the hay loft ladder as fast as I did, but I was by her side in no time.  She was hurt.  I scooped her up threw her in my car and off we went to the ER vet hospital. 

Without pulling out the hospital report to use medical terms, she basically broke her entire face.  She needed her nose reconstructed, to be able to breath (she still snores badly to this day).  Her jaw reconstructed to be able to eat.  And she broke whatever the bone is called under her left eye (cheek bone?).  Basically her entire face was smooshed in. She had many x-rays and even a kitty "cat" scan, lol...  We were thankful that it was only her face and not her neck.  Her scull looked to be fine as well.  I was worried about head injury, concussion, which she had, but the hospital took really great care of her.

After her surgeries, which I paid for, I brought her home to my house to recuperate figuring the barn isn't the best place for her to be and basically, she never left.  She has been with me and my husband for 5 years now and we couldn't imagine our life without her.

Diesel (my jack russell) and her became instant friends.  They both love sleeping in their beds next to each other.

Anne is very bonded with my husband and he can't sit on the couch without her on his lap.

She gets very jealous if Diesel tries to sit on my husbands lap and pushes her way in.

There is a water bowl stare down every night...  Hilarious, I have video on my old phone that I will have to dig up.

She also loves to play hide and seek on us...

Anne is a true character and we love her dearly!!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wasn't meant to be

Getting our itchy butt scratched and making itchy butt scratch faces...

Last Sunday I had a hunter pace planned at Lord Sterling Stables.  Lord Sterling is a county run stable and they usually host a great event.  The footing on the trails are always fabulous and the jumps are very inviting.  This would be the first hunter pace at Lord Sterling for Liam and I together.  I was always nervous about taking Liam to this pace because the start can get a bit crazy with people galloping through the field and there is often times two way traffic on the trails.  My friend and I decided that we would go early and be the first or second group out to reduce the starting nightmare.

Three days before the event I saw a post that due to unforeseen circumstances the hunter pace was cancelled.  Bummer... My friend and I talked and decided that we would go to the sanctuary instead.

I got up early Sunday morning and got dressed.  I was in the truck by 8:30am to drive out to the barn.  Turned the key to start the truck and got this really strange sound.  It was like the truck was trying to start, but would struggle.  Oh no, dead batteries.  Ran inside to get my hubby and he in fact confirmed that the batteries were dead.  Sent a quick text to my friend that the truck batteries were dead and that I am running to the auto store to see if they have any new batteries in stock.  You might be wondering why I keep saying batteries, as in plural.  Well, that is correct, the truck has 2 batteries and needs both of them to run. 

I went to 2 auto stores and it was just my luck that the batteries were not in stock, they had to be ordered.  At this point, my husband said he would make a call to a friend to barrow his truck, but I just said trail riding today was just not meant to be.

strupid broken truck

I got the batteries yesterday for a high price tag of $300 dollars.  Man those suckers are expensive and good bye new pair of breeches.  Gotta love diesel trucks and how expensive their parts are... 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Some major life changes are happening in my life right now and it made me examine my monthly horse budget.  I think my budget is pretty reasonable for the area I live in.

Here goes:

Board - $325
Shoes - $130
Feed - $130
Supplements - $30
***Feed is just under $130 for 5 bags.  Liam eats more in the winter and goes through about 5 bags of feed a month and eats considerably less in the summer because of the grass and eats about 5 bags every month and a half or so.  Liam has front shoes only.  He gets shod every 6-7 weeks in the winter and 4-5 weeks in the summer.  I decided to round up on the high side for my budget purposes.
Yearly Costs:
Shots 2x/year: $500
Insurance: $600
Supplies: $500
Liam is on a bare bones budget and only gets things when absolutely needed.
Liam in total costs me on the high side $748/month... 
I hope my hubby doesn't read this...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

All The Rage - Love SmartPak

I finally jumped on the bandwagon and bought an Ogilvy half pad.  I really needed to replace my 10+ year old mattas pad.  I decided I couldn't wait the 6+ weeks it took to order the pad direct to get it in custom colors and to be completely honest I just couldn't decide on which custom colors to get.  I decided to order it from SmartPak in their stock colors - Black on Black. Shout out to SmartPak - when I order from them I typically have my order the very next day.  And you just can't beat their return policy.  Love SmartPak.  Since I never saw an Ogilvy pad in person I wanted to be able to return it easily if I didn't liked it.  Well that sort of is I lie, I saw the pad in passing this summer at the Princeton Horse Show, so the fact really is I never felt it in person...  I figured once I can finally decide on a custom color I will order another cover.

So far, I have ridden in the pad twice and have no complaints.  The fit is fabulous, although I am riding on one less hole with the girth.  I will update again after a few more rides, but so far I am very happy with my choice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Park Days

Last Friday, after my adventurous Thursday, I had off of work to head out camping with the hubs.  Hubs ended up having to go into work Friday morning and we couldn't leave as early as we were hoping.  This left me just enough time to squeeze in a ride over at the park.  I sent a text to my friend to see if she was in with her pony.  I told her I was short on time and needed to be heading home no later then 12noon.

I arrived at the barn at 8am sharp and hooked up the trailer.  I had to do some maintenance on the trailer because the last time I used the trailer the cable snapped on the hay bag and cut Liam's face.  Luckily I board at a hay farmers and there are plenty of baling twine hanging around.  According to the hubs, baling twine and duct tape fixes everything.  I used the baling twine to reattach the hay bag.  I thought I had a picture, but I guess my phone ate it...

I helped my friend finish up her morning chores and off we went to the park.  We arrived and were on the horses by 9am.  Liam was very quiet.  We walked for awhile and Liam just couldn't be bothered to lead or care how far ahead the pony got.  This was really different for him...

Can you see the pony way up ahead.  We trotted a bunch on this trip to the park.  We trotted every uphill that was offered and trotted some of them several times.  The pony who is typically calm, cool, and collected really was up on this ride and Liam was the calm, cool, and collected one.  Weird?  At one point, the pony broke into a canter up a hill and I heard my friend yell back "are you okay?".  Liam was perfect.  All he did was shake his head once and transitioned up to a nice floaty canter.  I yelled back "I'm okay, keep going".  The pony picked up speed and Liam just put his head down and lenghtened his canter.  I got in my half seat and it was just lovely cantering behind the pony.  Liam never got upset about anything and just happily followed.  

I even jumped a few cross county jumps!  It was a fun morning with Liam and I am secretly glad my hubs had a morning meeting and I was able to go, even though he wasn't pleased!  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Getting Adventurous

Plans never go the way you want them to.  Last week after my rant about Liam's weakness I headed out to the barn with the plan of going down to the hay field and doing many walk/trot transitions and some trot/canter transitions to start to strengthen Liam's now weak hind end.  I arrived at the barn, quickly tacked up, sent my barn owner a text where I was heading, and hopped on Liam.  As I was walking down to the hay field I heard the tractors running. Oh no, they are cutting the field.  So much for those plans.  I heard my name being called from behind me and turned around to see my barn owner running after me to let me know they are cutting the field.  She said that I could go down, but Liam might find it to be spooky because when they cut the grass flies everywhere. 

Liam felt really quiet, so I decided to see how he felt about the flying grass.  I got down to the field and caught up to one of the workers and he said that I would have about 2 hours to ride because they were heading over to a neighboring farm to cut their field first.  Woohoo.  I picked up a trot and my plan was to trot the field once around then start doing transitions.  Again, I should just stop trying to make plans.  Liam was really quiet and I almost made it around the field before I noticed a path heading to an adjacent corn field. 

I never noticed the little opening before.  You can barely see it in the above picture.  I looked for signs that said private property, no trespassing, but there wasn't any.  So I decided to take the path...

We moseyed along and then found this nice wooded path on the opposite side of the corn field. 

This path weaved through the woods for a while and then opened up to another field.

To the right of the above picture is a path next to the crop that I am guessing is soy beans.  This is where I chickened out and turned around.  I did not see any signs but decided it was best to turn around and ask my barn owner about riding on that property before I just did it.

We headed back to the hay field and trotted the field again before heading back to the barn.  I decided to head to the ring for about 5-10 mintues and did some trot/canter transitions and Liam was fabulous. 

I am really excited to venture out further, but don't want to ride on private property that I am not allowed to ride on.  I am going to have to write the property owners letters to see if I am allowed...