The chronicles of a Friesian mare who happened upon an owner who lives outside the show ring....

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Only in New England...

Can it look like this on a Sunday......60°F and Sunny
And this on the next Thursday!.......definitely not 60°F.....
Thank goodness we got that pile of wood split and stacked in time!  Winter has set in and last Wednesday was the final scramble to get everything in order before the first snow.  I pulled Daatje's shoes two weeks early as I didn't plan on such early snow and she wasn't equipped with snow pads. 
I hated to pull them after only 4 weeks, but it was either that or keep her in.  Her feet looked great and she's now barefoot and on vacation until spring.  :)  The Die Harder hunt got cancelled due to the amount of snow that fell (no place to part the trailers!) so it all worked out.
She's so happy to be on vacation!  I'm starting her back up in the lines, so took her out on Sunday for the first of many tune-ups before we start back between the "shafts" and then on to pulling the drag.  She was in her stall when I grabbed her halter off the door and opened it just in time to see her bolt outside!  Hahahaha, she thought we were going hunting.  She is SO done with hunting!  Instead of chasing her, I waited in the doorway.  She turned around and came back, peeking in her stall. 
We stood like that for a few minutes when finally I asked her "don't you want scrubbies?"  With the mention of "Scrubbies" (her favorite, she loves being groomed!) she perked up and marched right into her stall, shoving her face into the halter.
Silly mare.  She had no idea that she's on vacation!
After scrubbies, I tried on the harness that came with our new cart.  It's a bit small in places, so I'll likely be selling it, but it's good enough for getting back into wearing the tack and working in the lines.  I have a feeling that Daatje is somewhere between horse size and over size so I'll have a custom harness made for her by next spring.  Until then, we play in this one. :)

Back at the barn, you can see that the breastcollar about a foot too short, the hip straps need to be about 4" further forward on the back strap and the breeching also needs to be about 4" further forward toward her stifle.  This is a horse size harness.  The bridle and saddle fit, but the rest just isn't right for her.  Anyone need a really nice horse size beta harness that is practically brand new?  Likely Amish made, beta with stainless hardware.  Plain bridle, black lines.  Asking $400

This will be going on ebay at some point.  Maybe over the Christmas break (two weeks vacation, whoo-hoo!) I'll have time to take photos and get it listed.

Mom and the Minis came with us on Sunday.  They are so adorable!!!  Love Bosie and Spoo.  Hard to believe they are 21 and 30, respectively!  Seems just yesterday I was 16 and Rainbow was 2. 

Just love 'em. 

This Saturday, December 6th, I'm running what will likely be my last Half Marathon!  It's the Jingle Bell Half in Atkinson, NH and will be the third Half that I have run in 2014.  Long running is not my forte.  I don't enjoy the hours it takes to train for it and it's not really good for your body so I'm doing this one and then switching my focus to weight lifting!  I'll still run 5K's and sprint now and then, but the weights are where it's at.  Love the way lifing makes me feel! 

I'll leave this post with a shot of our beloved "barn" cat quite pleased with himself infront of our wood stove. :)  Cowboy, the ever confident O'Malley-cat, keeping me company while I lift weights. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The All New England Hunt's Joint Meet - 17 miles of pure awesome

One of the photographers that was at the Joint Meet last Saturday also happens to be a memeber of my hunt club and generously shares the photos he takes with the hunt community. :)  Below are some of lovely photos he took of Daatje and I as well as a few others showing the gorgeous territory and the Myopia hounds. :)  The rest can be seen on his website, A Hores and His Boy.  The day could not have been more perfect, and Daatje, a week back on Vitamin E supplementation (more on that later), was back on her game.
Getting ready to head out

The Myopia hounds and huntsman at the Biolabs

Crossing the bridge at the Biolabs

Daatje and her BFF Dillon at the Biolabs

Road trot!

Down the drop into Scott's Field

Making funny faces at a check.  Here the huntsman switched to a fresh horse......knew we were in for a long hunt then!

Hack down the dirt road towards Groton House Farm

Galloping through Appleton Farms

A beautiful view of the hunt through Appleton Farms

Coming home.

Hacking back to the trailers after the hunts end.  (The bay is Joshua, he's 18 hands or so!)
Such a great time had by all.  Definitely the highlight of the hunting season in New England. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Big Cart, Little Cart

I took this photo while doing chores this morning.  Just had to share.  Daatje's cart looks so big next to Rainbow's cart!  It's killing me that I'm to busy right now to jump right into starting her back up.  Things are so hectic, getting the place ready for winter.  I have precious little time between work, half marathon training and Saturday foxhunting.  The snow is not far from flying and I haven't even tuned up my snow blower yet!  Heck, I haven't even finished mowing the lawn for the last time yet!  I'll do that job on Saturday after the hunt in Milton Mills, NH. 

Here's my crazy list - to be done hopefully before the snow flies! 

Mow lawn, put up the tractor for winter, break out the snow blower, give it an oil change, put away all things non-freezable, clean out my bird houses, dig up the Dahlia bulbs, neaten up the Iris beds, attend the Equine Affaire, run run and run some more, attend the Hunt Ball, finish stacking the wood pile, clean the barn out for the winter, buy 10 bundles of hardwood flooring and find a place in the house to store said flooring.  Oh man.  Who has time to work a job?

Big Cart, Little Cart. :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

One Crazy Weekend!

What a weekend!  I won't say never, but it's been a long time since I've been this tired and sore.  The Joint Meet was absolutely amazing.  Tons of pro photos, but I haven't bought any yet.  Here's a proof of one of my faves. :)  This will be going on my living room wall for certain!  8x10 metallic print, here we come!
Here's a still from a video my friend took with her Go-pro.  All four off the ground and I believe I'm taking pictures. :P
Appleton Farms, Hamilton, MA
Daatje was a trooper.  I was in the saddle from 12:30pm until 3:45pm and we covered 17.1 miles.  Holy foxhunt!  Thankfully I had some Banamine left from her cellulitis back in June, so she got a dose for any soreness that may have set in over night.  I think she slept all day on Sunday!

I had a busy day Sunday.  Ran 10 miles (ouch, after riding for over 3 hours on Saturday, this was tough!) and then went to go look at that easy entry cart. 

The cart was absolutely perfect.  The shafts at level were the right height, width and length for a horse of Daatje's size.  It's easy entry so will be great for quick dismount if needed.  I'm so thrilled!  As a bonus, the price included a very nice and barely used beta harness, also in horse size.  The harness is not as fancy as I would have purchased, but it will be a great training rig.  The cart was purchased used by the seller 7 years ago and the drove in it only a handful of times.  The harness they purchased new when they bought the cart and again only used the set up a few times.  (didn't get into driving like they thought they would).  I paid $800 for the cart *and* the harness!!!  New the cart would cost me $1800 shipped and the Harness would easily be $650.  I am so stoked to get back into driving with Daatje.
Oops, look what I just did! :D
It's been 9 years since we've done any work in the lines.  When we left off, Daatje had just been put-to a vehicle for the first time.  It all went well, but I'm not assuming anything and will start back up from the very beginning.  We may not spend much time visiting the basics, but I want to be sure that she is solid and remembers and is a-ok with each step before moving on to the next.  We'll first work in the lines and then get her pulling a drag.  After that I'll put her between some simulated shafts.  When we can combine the simulated shafts with pulling the drag and all is going well, then I will re-introduce her to the cart.  Will probably take until next summer, but that's ok! :D

Of course, bringing the cart home and cleaning the barn out to make a place for it cut into my wood stacking time.  I only got 1/2 of this pile put up before the sun went down.

So last weekend I rode 17 miles, ran 10, bought a cart and harness, cleaned the barn and stacked 1/2 cord of wood.  I need a nap!

I'll get better pics of the cart and harness over the Thanksgiving holiday, I'm sure.  It's so neat to see the big cart side by side with Rainbow's little cart.  :D  Can't wait to post more of our driving adventures!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Another cart

I'm going to look at another cart on Sunday.  I know I really liked the blue one, but I got to thinking about what it's like to train a horse in harness and how very nice it is to have an *easy entry* cart for those inevitable hairy moments.  The blue cart is not easy entry.  There are rear steps that you hoist yourself up and over the space between the wheels and the seat.  Once you're in, you're pretty much in.

I found this cart for sale, also locally, that doesn't have the asthetic value of the blue cart, but a quick bail out the side would be alot easier to execute, should that sort of thing become necessary. :)

It's newer and has seen less use than the blue one.  They want more money for it, but supposedly it's a package deal with a synthetic harness.  Depending on the harness, this could be very enticing.

The shafts are horse size at 81" but the wheels are only 35" in diameter.  There are no bells and whistles.  No spares box, the shafts are plain, not wrapped in patent.  This is a training vehicle, specifically made for that purpose.

Oh decisions, decisions.  Do I want to train her in a pretty cart or a cart that has a very easy form of egress?  :)

Blue Cart:  $500, 48" wheels, 83" shafts, rear entry
Oak Cart $800 (harness incl), 35" wheels, 81" shafts, side entry

Hmmm, I dunno.  I guess I'll have to see the Oak Cart in person and then decide which to get, if any!

Tomorrow is the big hunt.  The All New England Hunt's Joint Meet where all the hunts in NE are invited to hunt with Myopia at their prestigeous Hamilton, MA territory.  We'll be loading and leaving around 10:30am to arrive at 11:30am.  Hounds are cast at 1:00pm, so exciting!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Blue cart update

Well, I went to look at the blue cart yesterday.  It was a great little training cart that cosmetically has seen slightly better days, but was still sound for work, just as the sellers claimed.  I took some measurements and I just wasn't sure that it would fit Daatje, so I didn't buy it.  The mare that pulled it (was in the barn for me to see) was much smaller than Daatje.  About the same body length, but much more petite and much shorter.  I'd say she was 14.3 on a good day.  (Daatje is 15.3)

The shafts were 82" from the tip to the swingletree, which according to the American Driving Society, is long enough for a 16h horse, but the wheel diameter was only 42 1/2", which is smaller than the recommended diameter of 48" for a horse of Daatje's size.  Also, the width between the shafts at the tugs was only 23", ADS recommends 24" for 16h horses.  So, I'm conflicted as to how this would translate into fitting Daatje.  I'm afraid the wheel diameter would make the cart sit low and the shafts angle up too much.

It sure was pretty though!  And for $500, such a good price.  Light weight too.  The sellers were lovely and offered to have me bring Daatje over to put the cart behind her and see how it looks.  I thought that was fabulous of them to offer!  So, not next weekend but the weekend after (Nov 15th) on the way back from the foxhunt in Raymond, NH, I'm going to stop by with the horse and see if this would work for us.  If not, no biggie, we'll just keep looking! :D

The Halloween Hunt went well.  Daatje and I were asked to lead 2nd field again as the regular field master was unable to attend.  It was cold, windy and raining with slick footing so we took it easy.  Daatje was a good girl and led without too much fuss. :)
At stirrup cup

Do these layers make my butt look big? lol
I must have had on 4 shirts and the thickest pair of black breeches that I own, it was so cold!  I found out that my cape is water proof.  Bonus!

The folks at stirrup cup told me that to see us flying across the field, cape whipping in the wind, was a sight to behold.  :)  Wish I could have seen it!

This Saturday is the All New England Hunts Joint Meet hosted by Myopia in Hamilton, MA.  This is the hunt of all hunts.  Usually has a fabulous turn out and always attracts the professional photographers!  Let the tack cleaning commence! 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Perspective and a cart

So I've doing alot of thinking this week, trying to break down my feelings about Daatje and figure out where exactly is the happy place with this horse that I've devoted the past 13 years of my life to raising, training, caring for.

The first 4 years were frustrating.  I loved her dearly then, as now, but I wanted a horse that I could ride that instant.  I didn't want to wait for her to grow up.  I couldn't have two, she was my one, so I waited.  I raised the horse she is today.  A solid citizen, a pleasure to handle, a good mind.  Worth the wait for certain.

The next 4 years were frustrating.  She was ever so difficult to train under saddle.  The hardest I have ever sat on.  Teaching her to be ridden forward was like slogging through knee deep molassess.  But, I learned a TON and we acheived proficiency in 1st level dressage, which is something to be said for a horse who began life with the work ethic of a sloth. :P  Also worth the wait. 

The most recent 5 years have been more pleasant for certain.  She understands her job and performs it to the best of her ability.  She is a mare and she is a Friesian.  Two strikes against her right out of the box.  (three strikes if you count being an orphan) To look back and review what we have accomplished should be encouraging and inspiring.

So why do I feel so much angst?  Why am I not content?  Human nature sucks.  It really does.  I'm competitive.  I want things.  I want to jump higher, go faster, longer, get better scores, at higher levels......but why?  For what?  To what end?  Do I really want these things?  And do I really want them more than enjoying the bond I have spend 13 years nurturing?

The answer to that question is no.  Not really, not at all.  Sure, they'd be nice.  It'd be nice to show off to all the hunt peeps how daring and able I am on a horse equally so.  It would be nice to "fit in" with that crowd.  But that truly is not as appealing to me as the soul connection I have with my mare.  The connection we have is rare.  Something to be cherished.  Something that transcends desire for competition or acts of daring.

I've loved her for 13 years.  We've only been hunting for 6 of those years.  Daatje trumps hunting.  Period.  If she could no longer hunt, for whatever reason, I would keep her and find something else for us to do.  Reality is that simple.

So lately my mind has been wandering to activities we might pursue as she gets older.  One that I love, that she was bred for, but we've not yet mastered, is driving in harness.

I started her in the lines when she was 4.  She's pulled me on a drag in a sand ring and was hitched to a borrowed road cart once.  All taken in style, like a fish to water.  I do not believe it would take much effort to get her driving with confidence.  What a fun adventure that would be!

So I've begun the search for a suitable training vehicle.  I found one locally for sale, that I'm going to look at this weekend.  It's a lovely blue road cart that has cosmetically seen better days, but is reportedly sound for work.  A Friesian mare about Daatje's size pulled it, so it should be a good fit.

  The sellers are retiring down south and selling everything.  Price is definitely right!  I will keep you posted as I'm very excited about this new activity that we could enjoy together.  Something Daatje can do, even as she ages.  Something my husband and I can do with Daatje together!

We're foxhunting in Rochester tomorrow.  It's supposed to be 40°F and raining, so perfect weather for my black pearl.  It's the Halloween hunt, and costumes are encouraged.  We're going to use our Zorro costume, although my husband says it looks more like Wesley from the Princess Bride.  Lol. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall is finally in full swing and another case of the OTTB's.

Maples in full color at Prodigue Farm, Rochester NH
It's been an incredibly warm fall season this year.  Here we are, the end of freakin' October and it's just now turning seasonably cool.

The warm weather has made hunting my horse these past few weeks a wicked drag.  For both of us.  I don't blame her.  I never blame her, she can't help being a Friesian, but the last hunt we came home from had me thinking again "why the heck do I do this with this horse", which is never a good place for me to be.

It's been warm and humid.  Warm and humid means the heavy coated, thick skined, deep veined Friesian horse can't cool down.  Which means after the first few runs we must back off the galloping (from first to second and even joining the hilltoppers on occasion!) and slow down.

Yay.  I work my ass off, get up early on the weekends, spend gobs of money on gas getting to the hunts and time out of my busy schedule so I can what,  gallop for a few minutes and spend the rest of the time watching everyone else galloping and jumping and having a blast?  Yeah, not cool.  It's started another case of the OTTB's.

They're everywhere.  CANTER, Finger Lakes Finest.....and in the hunt field.  They're fast, capable, did I mention fast?  The finish a hunt as fresh as they start, barely breaking a sweat.  It's a dangerous place for me to go, in my head, when I start wishing I had one of those instead of a Friesian.  I don't like it there.  I love Daatje, dearly, but sometimes it is painfully evident that what I try to do with her is only half as enjoyable as it would be on a more suitable horse.

The past few hunts have been those sometimes.

I don't like "dumbing down" my expecations.  I don't like feeling held back by my mount.  Sigh.  I always will, for as long as she lives, feel held back by her breed and the limitations that come with it.

Daatje loves to hunt, but I feel her frustration level rise too, when her body is done but her mind wants to keep going.  I even sense her anticipation of the discomfort she experiences on the more humid hunting days.

Sorry for the dump of Debbie-downer-ness, but I had to get that off my chest.

Tribulations of riding a Friesian aside, we have had some really nice photos taken of us lately, thanks to the kindness of Eric Schneider. :)

Mmmm, cider.

A beautiful photo from last Saturday's hunt at Prodigue Farm, Rochester, NH
Only two more Saturday hunts before the BIG ONE, the All NE Joint Meet!  Hard to believe how the time has flown by this year. 

I promise to make every effort to stave off the case of the OTTB's, keep the expectations down to Daatje's comfort level and just try to have a good time out with my horse.  Jealousy be damned, if I keep this up I'll go mad, or try to sell her again, which will also make me go mad.

Where'd I put my flask again?  I could use a swig or ten......