Thursday, February 27, 2014

It's Official!

Papers were signed and money was wired today! Ellie is officially my horse!

When I bought Wilbur I was a little blinded by the sparkles. Four legs, swishy tail, soft nose- sold. Not that I would change that experience for one second. He is the kindest guy with the biggest heart. In fact I passed on an opportunity to rehome him today. I'm just not ready and still am holding out hope that one day we'll be zillionaires and he can come home and be a husband horse.

This time around I feel like I've done my due diligence with the trial period and vetting. Ellie is just about perfect and I couldn't be more excited!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thoughts on Montana

Gorgeous but cold.
Chick Magnet! Visiting chicks at Murdoch's!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ellie Vets!

Ellie passed her vet check with flying colors. I was so thankful that Dr. Natasha came down from Pioneer to do the pre purchase. She was so fantastic in helping me deal with the Wilbur situation that I knew I could trust her to call out any red flags. We ended up taking radiographs of Ellie's back right stifle- during flexion she came out a 1+ on that leg but after consulting with a surgeon at Pioneer the feedback was that the stifle was her variation of normal. We did the right hock too, just in case, and Natasha said it was the prettiest hock she'd seen in a long time.
All in all the whole process felt a bit exhausting but after 3 hours I thought we had done a thorough job.
Now off to Montana for a quick work trip! I'll have a few final days to think and we'll make a decision by the end of the week!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Met Some Bloggers....for Reals!

Like actually in person!
The Sunday started off with some fog but a rockin' lesson on Polly- bending lines, grids- awesome.
As the sun came out I hopped on Ellie bareback and wandered around for a bit- she was perfect princess as usual. We're looking forward to the pre purchase exam tomorrow!
Then I jetted over to Golden Gate Fields for a day at the races and got to meet two blogger friends in person- the gals from Viva Carlos and Pony and a Payday! So much fun to connect offline, chat horses & life, and meet two new friends! Thanks "L" for inviting me!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ellie Video!

Bonus post number 2! The only difference is that tonight I picked up a burrito. I took a Flip video camera with me on the horse shopping trip but naturally I can't actually get anything to upload to YouTube. We took video with my phone on our second ride with Ellie on Friday morning so I thought I'd share! All 10 clips! Note:video quality gets better in video 3!

Kelly and Ellie at a walk...

Kelly and Ellie at a walk and trot...

Kelly and Ellie cantering with some lead changes...

Kelly and Ellie trotting fences. Note a few stops. The jumps had been changed from the night before into special Valentine fences for their weekend show. Despite her stops, I appreciate that Ellie takes a good look and pops right over...

Kelly with Ellie cantering fences. We've found that she's VERY green on the flat and not terribly adjustable just yet. Rather than rush the fence, Kelly lets her drop to the trot in a few...

Emily and Ellie trotting...

Emily and Ellie cantering...

Emily and Ellie cantering...

Emily and Ellie trotting a cute fence. Some bending issues on the right side. TBD at pre purchase...

Where is video 9? Ellie stumbled after her first fence in the line and I pulled her out of the second. Whoops. No one needs to see that.
Emily and Ellie do a line. This line rides a four and she trotted in and cantered out in five easily...

Emily and Ellie jump the line again. This time there is an oxer on the way out of fence two...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Horse Shopping: Part 2

Bonus post tonight! The hubby is out of town, I picked up the cat from the boarder (we had some light construction on the house and both Paul and I were out of town this week), and picked up some staples from Trader Joes (red wine, oyster crackers, tomato soup, and ice cream). Settling in for a relaxing evening! 

I realized that when describing the horse shopping experience yesterday that I didn't actually mention that we looked at 7 horses, 9 if you count the two out of my price range.

Our first stop of the day was in California, a local-ish barn close to Reddings. They're known for having sale horses that fall into the lower budget range.
I should also add that often times horses coming to this barn require some research- there's little to no backstory to be given.

First up was Tad, a 10 year old that, while he was priced at 35K, did not sell at Thermal and was sent to this sale barn. He also has a screw in is hock from a surgery as a foal.
I did enjoy riding him, but he had some trouble getting is back end in lead changes and kept wanting to break from the canter. He jumped around fine with me but had two fairly dirty stops when the assistant was showing him. We decided to pass on making an offer because something just didn't feel quite right.
Tad is a handsome devil though!

They brought out a big, grey, jumper mare. She was one of those "if you can fix her she could be spectacular" horses. Except do I really want to tackle a rearing problem? No thank you. 

Next up was Missy, a 5 year old thoroughbred mare who had been a rescue. She looked nice enough and had a cute jump. When I hopped on and asked for the canter (I NEED to work on my canter departs regardless) she sucked back with ears pinned. And would not go. I felt like a dumbass but Kelly assured me that everyone feels like a pony clubber on the back of a green horse. Regardless she was just a little too young for me. 
I'm sure sweet Missy will find a home soon!

Finally another grey gelding. Kelly had seen him around the circuit and wasn't keen on the way he fussed with his head. Pass. 

We scooted in our fabulous Doge Ram 1500 that I had rented to get us over Donner Pass over to Reno to check out Ellie. We enjoyed her enough to plan a trip back to see her the next morning. 
Little Egypt looking adorbs! Although she looks a bit like a giraffe here.

My next vehicle!
The last barn we stopped at was down the street from the first Reno barn. They had a sweet bay gelding out in the ring, and while he looked like a schoolmaster, was also 15 and looked off in the right front. 
They also brought out 11 year old JuneBug, a bay mare, who was very clearly lame. Slightly embarrassing for them I thought. 

An interesting trip all in all. I think I got a full spectrum look at what my budget will buy me. I'm looking forward to the weekend with two lessons on Ellie and a pre purchase exam on Monday!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Horse Shopping: Part 1

I am going to preface this post by saying that I've never gone horse shopping before. Wilbur was in barn and I pretty much love anything with four legs- so that was a quick and easy deal with one (I know- in retrospect I was so dumb) ride before purchase. 
I'm actually really curious to hear about other bloggers horse shopping experiences! When I bought Wilbur I relied a lot on my trainer at the time- both her opinion on how he'd finished up and what it would take to finish him. Looking back, I think I was over horsed and he was really just too green. 

So in shopping for horse number 2 I'm finding myself in a similar quandary. How young is too young, how green is too green, am I going to end up with something I can ride and enjoy? And frankly after being "burned" the first time around how do I trust that Kelly is making the right call for me? Because I do think there is a lot of trust involved in dealing with young horses and amateur riders. I had quite a few friends, experienced horseladies (and Paul) express concern over Ellie. Primarily because, to be honest, we have not done an exhaustive search of the Bay to find the "perfect" horse. Kelly saw her posted, liked her, we went on a whirlwind horse shopping trip, and here she is on trial. 

Before we went on the trip I did take some time to examine what I wanted out of this new horse. My budget is such that I knew I was not making decisions on whether I wanted the grey or bay Hunter Derby horse. And inventory is very limited in California. The options are a younger horse with some potential or a teenage schoolmaster that likely needs regular maintenance. I am always going to lean towards a younger horse for two reasons. One: I don't want to be bored. A schoolmaster is great for some but I feel pretty confident in my ability to jump around a course and I like a bit of a challenge. Two: I feel a lot of pride when I see a greener horse win small victories. Like Wilbur at his first Sonoma show. Proud momma! Plus- when I'm paying for training I want to see it as an investment in learning versus just a tune up ride. 
I hopped on this guy for fun (and so Kelly could see for another client). A 25K, 12 yr old, 2'6" horse. He knows his job for sure!
But what else is important? 
Well, as a working gal I sometimes need to ride a little later in the evenings. I feel a big difference in my comfort level riding Polly at night by myself than I did with Wilbur. Confidence that she won't have a meltdown in the cross ties and spook at everything in the ring. I need to feel comfortable riding by myself with this new horse. Tomorrow I will be having lesson on Polly at 4 then riding Ellie in the evening. A good test. 

I need a horse with the stride to get down the lines. Ben and I (at Sonoma Horse Park) tried the low (very low jumpers) and with his short stride I never felt confident that he was going to make it out of the in and outs. Needless to say I stuck to the Hunter Ring and added every line. Which was totally fine for what we were doing. But I want to do grids and lines knowing the horse can carry me through so that if we ever do end up showing we can be competitive. I'll be posting some video next week but we know that Ellie can trot in and canter out in the appropriate strides. 

Mostly I just want to have fun. Ambiguous right? I want a partnership, a horse that I trust and that trusts me. That I can take to a show, not for ribbons, but to be part of the scene and get out with my barn buddies and their horses. A horse that enjoys their job. And a horse that will grow with me.

I'm curious to hear how other bloggers picked their perfect ponies! Do share!

Monday, February 17, 2014

First Day with Ellie

I had no problem hopping out of bed this morning! I needed to give Polly a quick hack and then get Ellie ready for our ride with Kelly at 11.
Polls was great. Monday is normally her day off but since I've got some travel tomorrow I switched it up. We took it easy since she was at the tail end of her week and worked over some trot poles in the covered arena.
I had, of course, checked on Ellie when I first arrived and found her snug in her jammies eating breakfast. When I pulled her out I was curious to see how she'd feel about our cross tie arrangement. They're pretty scary! The grooms were busy with other horses- it was nice to have them around in case something went awry. She was just fine and I was happy to see that Wilbur's bridle fit her perfectly. Kelly and Husband Paul both arrived promptly at 11 and Kelly hopped on her in our (also scary) indoor ring. Ellie's trainer said she tended to be a bit lookey in indoor rings- and we had no shortage of activity! Horses coming in and out of turnout, stalls being cleaned (the stall aisles line the two long sides of the ring)- lots to see! And she was just fine.
Kelly popped her over a few jumps then I hopped on and popped over a few jumps. She felt like a pro! Paul, Ellie, and I did a loop around the property and then headed back for some well deserved grazing time. Great first day!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Little Egypt at KMT on Trial!

Traveling, packing, horse shopping! The past week as been a whirlwind and I can't wait to do a full recap on the horse shopping experience!
BUT we did have Little Egypt trailered in from Reno today for a trial period (through Feb 28th) and I just think she is adorable!
Ellie on the board! 

Just off the trailer!

Settling in!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dallas- Sheplers Meeting

The Dallas airport is always slightly disappointing to me. It needs a bit of an update. I associate Dallas with big hair and rhinestones. I need the GLITZ!
Tonight I ate dinner at a BBQ joint located in a gas station. It was actually quite good (I ate the same thing I had for lunch earlier today- the pulled pork dinner) and there was unlimited soft serve ice cream. 
Den Pop! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Peace & Quiet

I have a tough time riding after work. I went on a quick coffee date with Claire this afternoon (sometimes you just HAVE to get out of the office) and she was just so damn excited to go out and ride her horse, Louie, tonight. I felt like a weirdo for just really wanting to go home. The thought of sitting in traffic, tacking up, untacking- just exhausting.
But you know what? I had a blast tonight. It's not often (or really ever) that I'm the last person out at the barn. It was so relaxing taking time to clean my tack, sweep the crossties, and leave everything just so. Perfectly peaceful, quiet, and calming. It turned out to be just what I needed.
Polly can't help herself. She loves to take selfies!

Goodnight barn!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Moving and Wilbur Update

We gave our 30 day notice on our house Feb 1. After making offers on 10 different homes and getting nary a one we've decided that our tiny Rockridge bungalow became stale like two years ago and it's time to get the hell out.
So we've rented a storage unit and found a studio to sublet for 3 weeks beginning Feb 26th in Lake Merritt (the landlord, who will be living above us, loves cats thank god). If we can't buy a house by the end of the summer. Well, let's not go there. In the meantime we're going to have a grand adventure.

We've been busy boxing, purging, and packing this weekend. It's great but exhausting- I feel like a hoarder trying to break free.
Major progress has been made!

Two bits of horse news. I sent my trainer friend, Erin, who I visit every spring at Ocala HITS the link to the little Reno mare......and she doesn't like her. At all. I'm in the process of pinpointing exactly why but it is concerning that my trainer and my friend have such differing opinions.

Marlene sent a Wilbur update that just made my day......
"Wilbur plays every single day! He plays with four different horses every day one on one right after each other. Then he sometimes includes other horses or has a play group! Seriously, I have not ever seen a horse that plays so much! I am going to get them all some new horse toys."
Two main men- Linus & Paul

Oh man. The boxes!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Let's Go Horse Shopping!

What do you think of this cute girl? Kelly and I think she's adorbs! We're going to buzz out to Reno next week to give her a try! Kelly got the 411:
- Owner is a vet who is moving from Hunter/Jumper to endurance
- Trainer on the horse is someone that Kelly knows personally- big plus
- This gal is 6, started as a 5 year old, scopey, big stride, on the smaller size, good mind, not mareish, has been on looonnngg trail rides (like 50mi), did a little cross country, owner took her everywhere (check out the second photo in the link)
See the full scoop and video HERE!!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Fire Breathing Dragon.... Also Known as Winslow

Fun lesson on Tuesday night. We did a horse switcharoo for the last 15 minutes of the lesson. I rode Winslow, owned by this tiny wisp of a 14 year old. He is a monster at 17hh with a stride to match. And even though he was schooled earlier in the day and we were at the end of the lesson, Winslow was raring to go. I think I'll stick with hunters.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Little Article on

Whoop Whoop! With the site launch of the new my little article about packing for a horse show finally got published! There was supposed to be a picture of Wilbur in there but the web team has enough on their hands right now without me being picky. Visit here to see the full "article!"

Monday, February 3, 2014

That is the Life

My friend and former co worker is a vegan baker (who knew vegan cookies could taste better than regular cookies?!?) and recently moved to San Diego. 
When I saw this pic posted on her Instagram I was immediately and undeniably insanely jealous. 
Her hashtag? #guacontheside 
I mean. I must be doing something wrong here. Burrito Bowl and a horse. In a field. 
Should you also choose to spiral into shame you can follow her @keirelise

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Letting Go of the Reins

Letting go of the reins is basically a metaphor for my life right now. Let's not discuss. Today we worked through a grid with the goal of using a following rein- something a bit more than a crest release but not quite an automatic release. The photo may not do this line quite justice. It's a one to a two stride but that two is short. I mean like it might be a one. The task was to ride a grid the way one normally would- staying in two point, no pulling, but with this rather long following release. I saw my life flash a few times before my eyes in front of that oxer as Polly landed and bounded towards it. The more we went through it the stronger she got until she chipped in on that second stride and knocked a rail. That sat her back a little and we finished our last trip through with a rather shaky "Whoa" from me but a quiet two from her.
My takeaway- trust Polly not to kill us both.