The Return of the Equine Affaire!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I wait all year for the Equine Affaire! This year it was Nov 13-16 and so on Saturday, Brandon and Kestrel and I made our annual trek there. We always start with a portrait in the parking lot. It was REALLY cold!

There are several buildings to visit at the Equine Affaire. One is filled with vendors. This building is always our first stop (after getting a baked potato from the baked potato vendor, that must be sufficiently fueled for the EA!). Right away I spied these pink boots. Aren't they totally great? Brandon hated the blunt, rounded toe.

 Kestrel and Brandon love the Aussie booth with all of its pistols, machetes and knives. They could care less about all the cool saddles. Kestrel says this booth is one of the reasons she comes to the EA at all. Ballerina one minute, knife investigator the next! It is a pretty cool booth, I agree.

Uh oh. Detached horse leg in the Better Living Building.

 How cool is that?

 This booth (which is set up by a vet/horse hospital in New Hampshire) had all kinds of interesting yet creepy things in jars. There were  two tiny horse fetuses in jars. You should have seen how small their hooves and ears were.

 At 3pm Chris Cox had a demonstration in the coliseum focusing on gaining confidence in the saddle. He had two participants--ladies who felt afraid to ride their own horses. All I can say is that Chris Cox is amazing. Not just for his horsemanship, but for his skill at pushing someone to flex the boundaries of their comfort zone while keeping them feeling safe and supported.

 Chris told this participant he'd like to see more weight on her mare. He also told her she needed a bigger saddle! Her bum was kinda large. He said it nicely. But he meant it. The second lady was really scared. She hadn't really cantered very much. She really wanted to grip the horn. Chris had both riders cantering around without any bridles on their horses. But of course, even though they were in the saddles, Chris Cox was really the one riding those horses, if you know what I mean. It was very inspiring.

 Brandon and Kestrel are very good sports at the Equine Affaire seeing how they don't ride and Brandon is always one step away from a horse allergy attack. They end up spending a lot of time just waiting for me as I flit from booth to booth and demo to demo. Thank goodness there is an excellent fudge maker there, and fresh squeezed lemonade to die for.

 And Karen and Paul are always there! Another delightful facet of the Equine Affaire. Do you see Karen smiling ear to ear? Because that is how you feel when you are there. Just plain happy.

In the next post you see my purchases in action on my brumby!!! Stay tuned!

Parting shot:

 World's Best Pet Dog and Husband in Neighbor's Cornfield. Run, Getty, Run!!

Romping Around the Hills

Monday, November 10, 2014

 There are horses like mine in the pasture who totally ignore you even as you are mangling their ears putting the halter on their heads. And then there are horses like Cody, seen here, who are so friendly and curious and interested that you had better be ready for big ole horse lips in your ear. Personally, I find this supercute.

After getting nibbled by Cody, I tacked my brumby up and headed out.

Oh my! What is that on the hillside? No wonder my brumby is nervous on this part of the road. That looks like a large rock....

...with gnashing teeth!!! Or is it a cranky pac-man roaming around the woods ready to crunch horse and rider into little pebbles? Oh dear.

This stump was another scary feature! Usually we'd be on the trail and not this road. But Bill said I was riding in "prime time" and it's bow season around here. So we kept to the road. Which is unpaved, hardly used and like a trail anyway. But for a horse, I guess danger is anywhere.

 On this particular ride, I left my comfort zone and decided to ride the perimeter of the Blueberry Pasture. No one is in it now and it seemed very appealing. Of course, I don't like riding in big open fields because I know Lilly loves to recklessly gallop through them...sometimes without really asking first.

But getting a view like this is extra nice. So it is worth mustering up the courage to get there.

 This long legged horse was also in the pasture. 

We were on our way out of the pasture when guess who was coming in???

Click here for a video answer!

Right across the road from this Blueberry Pasture is the Winter Pasture where a small herd of Bill's horses are. Naturally, we had to visit them.

That's Jodie (the fattest of the bunch), Yogie, Ruby and (not in the photo) QTee. Was there squealing during the visit? You bet.

Here's the kind of picture you get when your mare sends out a squeal right as you are taking the photo.

If you'd like to see video of the cute squeals, click right here!

There is no hunting on Sundays, so the next day I was back at the barn headed for the trail. But initially, the most exciting thing was that Lilly got to wear her fiery flames saddle pad for the very first time.

We started out on the New Trail and then decided to go to Carrot Bridge and back.

Uh oh. This hump of roots was rather alarming to my brumby.

 Signs of early man on Bill's property.

 One of the nice things about riding in the colder months is getting to actually see the layout of the land.

 Lilly was moving sooooo slowly that it felt like it was taking hours to get to Carrot Bridge. Click out this video to get a feel for how it was going: Just click here.

Is she ever slow! Sometimes I have to get out the crop and give her a little pop.  Over an hour later, we made it to Carrot Bridge: celebratory video seen here.

The truth is that we can't even walk across Carrot Bridge because a horse's hoof will probably go right through it. So we go into the creek. But because of this big dumb log, getting into the water is harder than it should be. This is all my own opinion of course.  In any case, I am always trying to saw this log out of existence.

And I fail at it because my saw is too small. So I kick at the log a few times. In the end, I get on my brumby and we go around it. Lost the battle but not the war as they say. I will be back! One day, that log will LOSE!

Here's a spot on the trail where we must go right or left. Right will take us to over to Bill's property quickly and then we can be on the New Trail and home in no time. Going left will also get us home, but via Sunset Trail and the road. Going left is what we usually do. Lilly wanted to go left so badly.  She is attached to her habits!

As we neared the very end of our journey, we came across Bill and Cody just coming up the hill. When Lilly first saw them, she clearly was not expecting it because she spun around and took off running in the other direction! So much for being afraid with all four feet on the ground. What a fright! As we were galloping away, I thought I was going to fall for sure. But get this:  I was able to do a one rein stop! (Which I probably could not have managed in an open field, one of the many reasons why I love being in the woods). In any event, Bill had his GoPro on and got some of it on film! 

If you want to see it, just click here! You can just see Lilly's white fur in the video.  

After all that, it was time to get Lilly brushed and fed and ready for bed.

Until next time, dear blogging friends!

Sunday Windy Sunday

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Here I am on Thursday blogging about Saturday and Sunday's adventures. I should call my blog my BOG because I am always so bogged down with other stuff I almost don't get to it. Alas, better late than never!

Saturday before I went to the farm, I was getting my oil changed. After that, since I was so close, I could not resist a trip to one of my favorite stores of all time,  the Greenfield Cooperative Farmer's Exchange. As soon as I got out of the car I saw this PINK GATE! I wanted it for Bill's place so bad!

Inside it kept getting better. I know my saddle would look great on this pink saddle rack.

I am very comforted knowing that my brumby is not the only horse out there who prefers to be surrounded by pink things.

I do love to think pink.

 After the farmer's cooperative, I headed over to see my brumby. It was late and raining so I just groomed her. I am inserting this photo as a tardy celebratory gesture to the Halloween holiday which I love. I didn't attempt to frighten Lilly this year with ghoulishness, but she never has been scared by my costumes anyway.

Sunday was spectacularly windy. Before I even got out of bed I could hear the wind roaring. When I got to the farm, it was no better. In fact, it may have been worse. Bill hangs scary tarps by the feeding area to desensitize the horses to them. This one was whipping around wildly.

I figured it would be calmer in the woods. But there was s much tree debris on the road that I wasn't sure if trail riding was a good idea. Brandon insisted it would be downright treacherous. But he's hardly an authority on horseback riding.

 Bill's tool for measuring windchill was spinning around crazily.

Do you see Lilly's tail blowing in the wind? How darling.  I opted for some ground work in the round pen.

 But was that a good idea? Suffice it to say that round pen with my cantankerous brumby in it is just as scary a place as any windy trail. Click here for video evidence! 

I tried to get Lilly in gentle order by asking her to walk and then trot along the rail. She kept tossing her head at me and cutting across the center. This is nothing new. She likes to try and literally throw her weight around in the ring. But she seemed extra dastardly. I thought to myself: WWBD?

I got Lilly cantering around the rail. It was supposed to be a trot but she had whipped herself up into a cantering state of mind. I said to her: This crabby mood is VERY UNATTRACTIVE, BRUMBY SO PLEASE GET IT TOGETHER!!! But it is possible my voice was trembling when I said it. Bill happened to come into the ring just as my confidence began to quail.  It was still very windy. And there was a flappy tarp nearby.

This was not a particularly intimidating situation for Bill. H calmly got Lilly walking, and then trotting, around the ring right by the rattly tarp, and then purring, like a little kitten. Purr shot seen here.

Then it was Mookie's turn in the round pen.  He was none too interested in passing the tarp flapping in the wind: See him avoiding it here. 

But then he got better and was running past the tarp like a very brave fella. Which you can watch by clicking right here.

Then Bill got a crazy idea. Lilly and Mookie in the round pen at the same time! In the wind. And with the flappy tarp snapping out a terrible tarp tune. We already know that Lilly tries to dominate Mookie. Bill has been working with them for the past two weeks to help them get along a little better. Not because we want to change nature, but because if they are to ride the trails together, they will need to do it peacefully.

To see a few minutes of Lilly and Mookie sharing the round pen, click right here. Spoiler alert: my gentle and beautiful mare can look a little churlish in this clip. Well, she is a horse behaving like a horse I guess. The good news is that at the end of the session they were doing pretty nicely. Good brumbies.

She is a sweet mare. 99.99999% of the time.

If Lilly were any sweeter in fact, she'd be one of these...who belong to my neighbor Gregory.

Cheerio for now!

Another Glory Weekend!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Every Monday morning at work my coworkers ask how my weekend was and every Monday I tell them it was awesome. Because of LILLY!!! Saturday, while Brandon was home replacing a kitchen window (lucky him), I scooted off for a ride! When I got there I saw Bill had been working too--patching this big hole in the run-in shed that I have been complaining about. I should add that Bill thinks I am anthropomorphizing by insisting they will be cold without this repair. All I know is that I myself will feel better knowing that giant hole is plugged up. 

 Not a bad view at all from inside the run in. Mmm, it feels so toasty in here after the repair!! And look, there is my brumby waaaaaaay across the property right when she knows I'll be showing up to ride her. You bet she saw me walking into the pasture! She ignores me all the time!

So I walked over to get her. You can see the run-in way in the distance. Even when I got close to her, she didn't move a muscle toward me at all.  The new Arab (now called Mookie) came right over and so did Ruby. They are super friendly and engaging creatures.

Back at the barn, I got to see how dirty my brumby really was. Yegads, that's a dirty foot.

 Speaking of feet, look at these giant shoes Bill found! Aren't they crazy?

They make my brumby's feet look so dainty! Just like Cinderella!!!

There's the dainty foot without her shoe on. Bill popped her shoes off last Sunday because it was time for a trim. It is important, because of Lilly's feet issues, to stay on top of her trims. We thought if she wasn't ouchie, the shoes could stay off.  We optimistically have that same thought EVERY TIME the shoes come off. But on the road when I took her out of the soft and comfy pasture, she was tender. 

Bill was around and started getting her feet in order right away. Lilly was VERY GOOD and hardly wiggled at all.

With new shoes on and still some time left in the afternoon, we headed out!

Bill decided to take Mr Mookie. He has only been out on the trail maybe 5 or 6 times before. So this would be part of his training.

During training sessions with Mookie, sometimes he'll get a little fresh at first. Not because he's malicious but because he's only 4 and he's not in a giant pasture zooming around all week. So he releases some energy in the round pen first. Before we set out on the New Trail, Bill started him around the round pen.

Bill put Mookie through some of a few other paces too. He was not interested in this water crossing. Lilly was called in to set the example (as she often is) but she was so aggressive toward dear little Mookie that I believe it put him in a nervous mood. The subsequent trail ride was far from perfect. Both horses did not want to move forward along the new trail. Lilly pinned her ears and tossed her head around at Mookie like a really mean lady. There was much hemming and hawing and head tossing. The mud by the creek was so deep Mookie got trapped in it and fell over. No one was hurt. BUT, after all this drama and then seeing a hunter ride by on his 4 wheeler, we decided to head home. Back in the ring Mookie was fine.

I hate to say it, but I think Lilly played a big role in the day's trail misadventure.

The next day the weather was crappy but I went over to ride anyway. I brought Lilly up to the barn and discovered this bloated tick on her and almost threw up. I didn't even want to touch it. It was so huge it's own little legs had been absorbed. Very. Vile.

I decided to re-conquer the New Trail after yesterday's mishap. So we returned to the scene of the muddy crime. Here we are. OK, so as usual, the photograph does not tell the whole story. This picture make this area look totally innocuous!!  Suffice it to say that there is more here than meets the eye!

Lilly is absolutely not allowed to jump across the creek. Any creek. She must walk across, one hoof at a time. I could tell she was thinking about jumping. And I know why: the bank is not beachy; it kind of drops off into the water. Still, no jumping! In the end, she mosied across just fine. What a good brumby. I gave her a carrot nibble for that.

This new trail is far from the open wide snowmobile trails that we are often on. Lilly wanted to stop and peer around all over.

 I may have mentioned that after the New Trail is over, it meets up with the regular trail. And you can take that trail just about anywhere. But one circuit of trails that I have not really explored before are right on Bill's land just past the New Trail. I decided to try and check them out.

 Hmmm, this behavior is certainly nothing new!

 Here's a little meditation shack belonging to the guy whose land is adjacent to Bill's. I'll call the Meditation Trail for now.

Here's my brumby about to pass under some Tibetan prayer flags by the meditation shack.

This little network of trails is so awesome! The good news about them is that even if you don't mark your path, there is no real way to get lost because one circuit   will always run into another, and also because it is so close to the pasture. The bad news is that because it really is so close to home, Lilly was forever trying to head back there. She knew we were a hop skip and jump from her hay pile and her horse buddies. Even though it looked and felt like we were far away in a magical land.

 I took this photo only to show how bobble-head-like I look in this helmet! I had to use it instead of my usual one because I had a hat on under it and needed this bigger size for the hat to fit. But it was so huge and bobbley that I looked ridiculous!  What's worse is that the helmet pressed the seam on the hat into my forehead so later it looked like I had a lobotomy scar on my face. Thank goodness the Equine Affaire is coming up so I can get a helmet that can accommodate winter gear without looking so silly. Because people were really staring at me in the grocery store.

As an aside I will add that my husband thinks anyone who rides horses has already had a lobotomy.

Dinnertime! Look how my brumby is throwing her head around at Pokey for simply walking by!

 UH OH! Looks like Sophie is bossing my brumby around again! A little pony!!!!

Ahhh, now that's better. All's well that ends well.

Parting shot:

Cinderella pumpkins in honor of Lilly's Cinderella feet!!!!