Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas to ME!

Look what I just got!

Meet Aljak's Brite Lights, my new dressage prospect.  He's four years old, a roan sabino pinto (yes, pinto!) morgan, who has won championships in many divisions plus he also drives.  I flew out to OKC the day before yesterday to try him, and had an absolute blast with him.  As a rail horse, he's pretty clueless about bending and the inside leg, but that will come.  I also got to drive him and it was great fun.

Here he is in action:

I'm not sure if any of my sidesaddles will fit him, so I may need a new one. Sue!!!! I'll need your help, so we'll see you at Gladstone next year.

Of course, all of this is dependant on the prepurchase exam, but I gave him a good going over myself when I tried him, and if all goes well he'll be shipping east in January.

I've wanted a new horse for so long...I just can't believe this!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I Love a Parade!

Yesterday we converged on the small unsuspecting town of Lisbon, MD for the "Ole Fashioned Christmas Horse Parade", an event I expected to simply be a hokey little affair.  Hokey it arguably was, but it was anything but little with over 500 equines participating.  500!  Can you imagine that many equines of all shapes, sizes, and species dressed in all manner of Christmas attire, along with fancy carriages, miniature horses sporting antlers, even a standardbred pulling a racing bike.  There were mules dressed as angels, multiple mounted Santas, and a troop of tin soldiers riding drafts.  Everywhere you looked there was something equine to marvel at, either because of its beauty or its entertainment value.  It was like an incredible Yule time costume party.
It was an absolute blast!  Barb's husband Tom was already riding in the parade as part of the Howard County Mounted Patrol, so tossing her horse Beau on the trailer that AM was no big deal.  Separating the two of them once they arrived, however, did turn out to be a big deal since Beau seems to think he is a conjoined twin with Tom's horse Max.  At one point, Beau even started running sideways, so I quickly dismouted, drew up some ace, and gave him a jab of liquid love.  While the drugs took effect we casually started introducing Owen to Beau in the hopes that he would see Owen as his new BFF.  Happily our plan worked pretty well, and other than his continuing to call now and again he quited down and Barb was able to enjoy the event.
Even tho' this was literally a last minute plan Barb managed to get two additional ISSO riders to join us, Sue and Nancy, who both rode english in traditional black habits which nicely offset the colorful habits and western tack that Barb and I used.  To top it off, Barb found these wonderful long plastic candy canes that we all used in place of our traditional riding canes.
There was some initial tension and jostling around at the start as an organizer with a bullhorn tried to get all 500 participants in their proper order for the parade, but she did an amazing job and we fell into place behind the Goshen hunt and headed out onto the route.  Not only was I impressed with the equine turnout, the crowd turnout was equally impressive with people crammed several bodies deep in places.  Ironically, the two ladies bringing up the back of the field were also riding aside, and one of them, Lou Steinfort, I knew from way back in my 4-H days so many years ago.  She and her friend were turned out in formal attire with appointments, riding absolutely beautifully in perfect fitting habits riding equally elegant and turned out hunters.  They were amazing, and I wouldn't want to face either of them in the show ring.  Riding behind them really showed the wide scope of riding aside, tho' they did make me riding my little poinsettia pony feel like a poor sidesaddle relative indeed!  To top this off, we later ran into Ingrid Gentry, a local dressage judge, and there I am on my supposedly FEI mount dressed up as an 1890's cowgirl.  As you can see, Barb and I elected to wear helmets rather than top hats; I was too worried about riding on asphalt to risk my skull, since I'm still making student loan payments on the veterinary knowledge that's crammed into it.

Waiting to head out onto the route.


At the parade formation: me on Owen, Barb on Beau, and Tom
on Max; the lady in the center is my mother, Alice.

Team of mini donkeys

Drill Team

Don't you love these kids dressed as Christmas trees?

Percherons pulling a formal carriage

Maryland Park Police

The Goshen hounds with a small field

Ta Da!   ISSO on the route.

Angel mules pulling a stage coach

Of course, there were several Santas

What a cutie!

And the other end of the equine size spectrum.

4-H group

A different kind of four in hand; Owen was not happy when
he saw these coming at him.

Owen, Beau, me, Barb.

A nice group of sidesaddle ladies showing the variety of our sport.


and Nancy again.

A close up of Owen's head...note the little cardinals I attached to
his mane.

Owen starting a nice piaffe in hand before...

...rocking back into the levade.  It needs polish but he's really
making progress.

And as if that wasn't a great enough day, it finished up with my running into Kristen Barth, nee Mowery, my absolute partner in crime back in our pony days.  She is now married with children, and I asked her how she would feel if they did as many stupid things as we did back then, such as jumping our ponies over guard rails.  It was so wonderful to catch up with her and I think it's great to have one of my oldest friends living only a few miles from me. 

All in all, it was such a wonderful day and it really invigorated me back into equine activity.  I'd been in such a slump and had actually discussed giving Owen away and selling off all my equipment the night before with Bruce.  What was I thinking?

Anyway, fellow ISSO members...we need to make this parade a regular item on our sidesaddle calendar.

Did I say it was amazing enough?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gather Ye Poinsettias While Ye May...

OK, so things have sucked a lot lately and I've been down but once again the Dream Team (Barb Thelan and I) has managed to dig up some sidesaddle trouble by agreeing to ride in the Lisbon Ole Fashioned Christmas Horse Parade (   this weekend.  Last night Bruce and I excavated my red and green victorian habit out of storage, plus I stopped by Joann Fabrics to pick up some assorted goo-gaws to put on Owen.  Now, we all know that sidesaddle is my passion, but occasionally embarrising Owen really gives me a lift.  Last Easter I put bunny ears on him and rode in an egg hunt; reindeer antlers are too cliche, but I've got some other forms of amusement to attach provided he tolerates it.

I'm bringing along a nice bottle of ace.  What else would you carry in that little offside purse?

In the mean time, I've started Owen on his new special diet (which he hates) along with a supplement and am trying to get hold of Boeringer to order the new pergolide formulation.  According to my veterinary colleagues, this new version is far more effective than the compounded versions I've used in the past.  Owen also got a new clip job, one of my least favorite equine tasks.  Over 15 years of managing a Cushinoid equine (Chummie) mandated three to four body clips per year, and every time I swear I'm going to start paying someone else to do it.  Heavy sigh...I own the clippers so I might as well use them, and I'm always pleased to find a nice fit equine underneath all that shag.

I've also finished the last of the tweaks to my newest western saddle.  I realize the leather color doesn't quite match tho' it will darken over time, but I added a cinch and latigo hanger along with a tapedero stirrup.  The stirrup is rather ugly but functional, and I do have a fear of getting my foot caught up since western saddles don't have break away bars.

I also found this nice cinch with a roller bar that lets me for the first time tighten a western saddle while mounted.  I've really grown to love this saddle and am beginning to feel quite the centaur when I ride in it.

Our mouted training has stalled a bit, and the flying changes are non-existent some days, beautiful on others.  But I've really stepped up the in hand training and started Owen on the levade a few months ago.  It's a long slow process that may take a year or more to finish but he has progressed to the school halt, in which the horse rocks back on his hocks in preparation for the air but only lifts one foot, and he has a few times come off the ground with both front feet.  I think it frightens him a little, so keeping him calm is key.  Yes, I could just snap his hocks with the stick until he leaps up but the levade should be calm and controlled so he must be relaxed to pull it off correctly, and I only school it for a few minutes to keep him from getting sour or tired.  He's getting to the point where he'll even do it in a halter.

We're still having fun together...we'll see how the weekend goes.