Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Saddles, saddles, saddles

I am incredibly jealous of those riders who can grab a basic medium tree saddle off the rack and have it fit rider and horse perfectly.
My wonderful mare Lily is blessed with an a typical back. Decent wither, wide to extra-wide shoulders, short curvy back, and forward girth groove. Most saddles wide enough don't provide enough wither clearance. Most with wither clearance are too narrow. I probably need an 18" seat, but her back is too short and needs a 17 and V-billets seem to exaggerate this issue.

List of the DRESSAGE saddles we've been through (won't even get into all the jumping saddles right now)
1. Rembrandt integra adjustable tree. 18" Super comfortable, too big for me, too long for Lily
2. HDR dressage 18" 3.5 fit (wide). Loved the feel, fit me, but too flat & long for Lily
3. Courbette cresta. 17.5" m/w Fit me like a glove, too narrow for Lily
4. M.Toulouse Aachen. 17.5" extra wide. Fit Lily perfectly, too deep, tight, restrictive for me
5. Thornhill Zurich. 17" 33cm. Liked the closer contact feel, again too narrow for Lily
6. Another HDR dressage. 17" wide, short flap.  Eh. Fit Lily ok, short flap and deep enough seat, but ehh.
7. Amerigo dressage. 18" wide. Fit ok, seat too shallow for me.
8. Frank Baines dressage. 17.5" wide. Loved how it fit me, but wither point too low for Lily

9th time's a charm. FINALLY think we got it! Stumbled upon an older Karl Niedersuss at my local tack shop on consignment for an excellent price & figured it wouldn't hurt to try it.
Holy cow! 17" wide tree, slight cutback pommel, straight billets, deepish seat, incredibly well balanced, just enough knee roll, yadda, yadda. My second ride in it, Lily willingly gave me a stretchy canter (remarkable in its own right for us) to a transition to walk on a long rein, completely off my seat!
There are a couple issues that I'll have to address since (if I'm deciphering the serial number correctly) the saddle is a 1999 model. There is a significant rub/rip along the seam of the seat, it will need new billets in the near future, and....... it's brown. Not 100% sure if I like the color or not, but so happy with it as a whole that I'm sure I'll get over it.
Now back to training!
The winning fit! Although, yes too far forward in the picture. 

Here's the damage to the seam of the seat. Very willing to have it repaired!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

So Crafty

I have always been a pretty "crafty" person. Crochet, painting, drawing, jewelry, most Pinterest ideas. (Pinterest IS the devil by the way)
Typically my crafting skills are purely for my own enjoyment or homemade gifts for friends and family. Recently I've put my skills to good use by starting a side business through Facebook to help support my horse/tack hoarding habit. Using paracord, I make d-ring savers/d-ring extenders and grab straps. I had no idea they would be so popular! LOL! I've been able to almost completely support my two horses' on my profits, which my husband is very appreciative of.
I do like to broaden my horizons and try to seize opportunities to try new things.
Recently, I saw an obscenely ugly Australian saddle at a recent trip to the local horse auction. (Which Leah was nice enough to drag me to) Managed to buy said saddle quite cheap ($50) to attempt to refurbish.
First step, buy missing parts. Saddle was missing one fender and both irons. Found both on ebay for less than $25 on ebay
Second step, dye leather to an acceptable color



Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bad Ass, Naughty Goat

 Life here definitely keeps me on my toes. Between tiny humans and troublesome critters, there's never a dull moment.
 This week has been no different. Kids learning to ride bikes, kids crashing bikes, shopping for a "mom" bike, bottle-baby-kitten to foster, saddle fit issues, and goat & donkey shenanigans. 
 Feeding times in the barn is similar to herding cats. One would think that bringing two horses into a two stall barn should be fairly straight forward and simple. My mare Lily is the only well oiled machine in this whole process.
 Morning feed time is always the hardest. I put grain into each feed tub, including the donkey/goat tub on the ground in the aisle. I open the gate and they *should* all go to their said feed stations. Lily has no problem here. Spanky pony meanders his way to his stall while I race the goat to keep him out of the old pony's large amount of grain. This is assuming that the pony actually finds his stall and doesn't get sidetracked by the donkey's grain. If I don't win the goat race, I then get to play ring-around-the-pony trying catch the goat, which typically spooks pony and pony leaves to eat donkey's grain. Donkey gets mad, breys, snorts, and kicks at pony.
 Finally get all 4 legged critters in their places. Now I get to clean stalls and wait for 6 hours for pony to finish eating his grain. I prefer stall chains in the heat but have to shut pony's door to keep the starving goat out.
 On days like today the goat is not satisfied with his normal amount of raucous behavior. Today he talked Marco into breaking into the tack/feed room for second breakfast while I was distracted cleaning pony's stall. Silly me, thinking I could simply pull the door shut for the 15 minutes it takes to pick two stalls.

 Marco was at least respectful enough to jump & run when caught (after I had photographic evidence that is). Goat proceeded to look at me like "what?!", and had to be forcibly removed from the snack bar.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A little background on the one small ass.

Our Farm started out with just my horses, then added chickens, and goats, and our mascot Marco the mini donkey.
Marco was originally given to me by my father-in-law Oscar as a joke to irritate my husband. Oscar had a habit of going to horse auctions and buying things he never really needed. Just to get a rise out of my husband, I'd always tell him "be sure to keep an eye out for a mini donkey!".
Wouldn't you know, on my birthday in 2009, Oscar shows up with the stock trailer & unloads an intact, practically feral, 4 year old miniature donkey. Poor little guy was scared to death of humans and had obviously never has his feet touched as they were so long that trying to curl.
At this time, I was scheduled for back surgery in two weeks. With no time to start desensitizing (and the inability to bend over) the vet and farrier were scheduled for a joint appointment to castrate and trim hooves while fully sedated. Worked like a charm! While recovering from surgery, I decided on a name. Marco, a good Sicilian name for what I was hoping would become a good Sicilian donkey.
Took over a year to get him comfortable with me, and he became an excellent guard dog for our two goats. Several more years went by, slowly earning trust, learning to be a functioning member of society. Seven years later, he no longer try to kill the farrier, stands to be bathed and body clipped (doesn't shed until July), and is beginning his journey as a driving donkey!
Marco gets put on the back burner most of the time (other than treats and butt scratches) thanks to training horses, chasing tiny humans, a brief stint as a goat breeder, etc. Even this blog will probably focus more on my own riding and my mare Lily.

A little background.

Just a little background. I'm a hunter/jumper rider from Virginia, transplanted to Missouri for college, then converted to dressage after two babies and a back surgery.
I spent close to 20 years boarding horses at different farms, both in VA and MO. Always wanting my own farm. After getting married and living on a suitable property, horses moved home. Finally built a proper barn two years ago. The barn is actually a 20x30 carport we purchased and added stalls, tack room, and hay storage.