Saturday, 24 December 2011

My non-rhyming 12 days of Christmas

Merry Chirstmas/Happy Holidays from Felix and all his humans, also, from the barn goats.

AKA: All the gear I badly want, but are not in the budget at the moment.
In the interest of full disclosure, being as I don't have huge readership yet none of these companies have paid me anything, or sent me any free merchadise (wouldn't that be nice though!).

On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me (no really - buy me all these things I'll happily come be your "true love"):
Dublin Pinnacle Boots
I can't explain to you how much I want these untill you see them in person, I tried some on a couple weeks ago and absolutely fell in love! Butter soft, made for muck, and nice enough to go from the house to the paddock to the saddle with no boot changes.  Currently I leave the house in my street shoes, change into rubbers at the barn, then change into riding boots.  After I ride I go back into the rubbers, and then back into my street shoes.

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
A Snazzy Sheepskin dressage girth

Found out my 24" girths are WAY too long - also I'm super paranoid about girth galls on the little monkey. The fleece girth for his other saddle is working out perfectly (it's a cheapy) but now I have a taste for nice stuff....

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
A St. Lourdes Odyessy Saddle

I don't need this - I just want one.  I'm impressed with the quality of my dressage saddle.  A few of my friends have these, and they're just lovely. 

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
An Ecogold saddle pad

These get amazing reviews everywhere I go. I'm reluctant because of the price tag, but they seem like such a good product - who could resist?

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Kentucky Horseware XC Boots

These I don't know a lot about - but watch the video at the bottom of the EN post!  If it can protect the egg.... 

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Some Jimmy Wofford books

I've heard him interviewed, he's a great speaker, and I've heard so much about the books I just have to have them. 

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Some stylish horsehair jewelry

I came across this line of horsehair jewelry a while back, I absolutely LOVE it. Precious metals, very classy, you could wear this every day.  One day I'll have one made...

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Veridus riding boots

Jessica had a pair of these on at the clinic - I LOVE them. I have a hard to fit calf, but these would work for me.  

Well, OK - I guess my Christmas had only 8 days this year!  Again, have a great holiday whatever you celebrate, and a fantastic horsey filled new year!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Aww... We're all famous and stuff :)

This blog post was so eloquently written by my friend Laura, who was the offical photographer/ring crew on the weekend.  There are a few more pics of Felix, a very detailed description of what everyone got out of the weekend, and just a very well written article.

Do you want a new hunt coat?

If it's free - I do.  Also, this blog post is really pretty entertaining, so go read it anyway :)

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Jessica Phoenix Clinic

This past Sunday Felix and I went to the Jessica Phoenix clinic that was hosted by a local farm. Huge thank you to Jester's Court for hosting, I think a great time was had by all!

Felix was very good.  Trailered like a star as usual, and was super for his first ever time on crossties.

We got in a good 10 minute walking warm up, which helped him out a lot - the new arena was a little interesting, but he relaxed out of it quite quickly.

Jessica had a set of 3 poles on a circle set up for us, we warmed up other these in walk and trot in both directions.

After this, we moved on to cantering through the excersise both ways, and my photographer moved on to video.

The next step was a pole and an X down the long side of the arena.



After this the outside line was made into an X and a vertical.


And then finally, moved up to a full course.

The biggest jump on the course was just shy of 2'6", and is possibly the biggest thing Felix has jumped yet.

What I took home from this is Felix is honest, canter jumping is easier then trot jumping, and I really have nothing to be afraid of.  honestly, I feel like we could go hop around an Entry or Pre-Entry course right now without a problem.

Was this clinic much more expencive then my regular lessons?  Definitely. But it was a day out, and a kick in the pants that was much needed.  I have a tendency to not push myself and him, which sorely needs to be done.

All in all, Jessica is a super positive, nice, and effective coach - I'd ride with her again for sure.

We also got a chance to see Jessica's Pan Am Medals, which was very cool - got a great picture of Sarah with Jessica and the medals.

And of course, me and the little superstar himself!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Now I'm all inspired

To get into competition mode for spring!

Had a fantastic lesson yesterday. We did some small gridwork, which went nicely and my jumping position is coming back very nicely.  I have nothing but good things to say about my coach - who give me all kinds of brilliant little tidbits each lesson.

The saddle fits wonderfully, now I just need to become flexible enough to be able to sit in it properly.  Found some excersizes on the net the other night, hopefully they help out.

On another note - there is a clinic with Jessica Pheonix up here this weekend.  For those that don't know her, she's a member of the Canadian 2012 Olympic Eventing team, and a Pan-Am gold medalist.  I was just going to go audit, but after mentioning it to my barn owner he's going to take his guy out to it, so I've talked myself into a spot in the Entry level group.  I'm absolutely thrilled and freaked out at the same time!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

What's been going on.

I've had little riding time over the last couple weeks thanks to work - but now I'm pretty much off till January, so hoping for more saddle time.

Felix had his wolf teeth out a couple weeks ago, this has improved his behaviour with his mouth quite a bit. He always has a bad ride after he's been used with the kids - so he'll be getting a sidepull shortly for use with the riders with slightly less forgiving hands.  Hopefully this will fix the fact that he can evade by going behind the bit badly.  I've also been making an effort to be more gentle with my own hands, as I do have a tendency to ride a little more "front to back" then is truly needed. 

I came out to the barn on Friday to a forelock absolutely CAKED with burrs.  It took over an hour to get them out, so untill snow really flies and the ground freezes he's going to have it braided. It was so bad I nearly cut it off, which would have been a shame.

He got his first big chunk of time off accidentally last week - I was gone for 8 days and his trainer forgot to ride him. He was actually very good the day I got back, I am very happy.  

We have also been in search of a dressage saddle. A couple weeks back we tried out a nice little Paramount with Flair pannels.  If the saddle had been more comfortable for me, I may have kept it - however I did find my seat aids getting lost in the air pannels, so I think these are just not for me. It's too bad, because he seemed to really like it.   Saddle #2 is a St. Lourdes Magnus, it's sitting in my living room waiting for a test ride tomorrow.  Fingers crossed that the tree size is OK for him, it was a fantastic deal.

Other then that, we've been working on nice smooth canter transitions - he has been rather annoyingly bucking when asked for canter at A (the door) lately, I think this will improve with work - and it's not a total rodeo so not big deal.

Monday, 21 November 2011

More teaching little kids - and my parents.

about 2 weeks ago Felix was a lesson pony for one of the lesson kids - he was super good, but we've discovered he doesn't really like having people bang about at his mouth, so I'm on the hunt for a plain hackamore or sidepull for use with the kids. In spite of this, he was super good. Here is him with his lesson kid:

We also made my parents get on him for pony rides the next day.  My mom had a really bad experience with horses about 40 years ago, and  decided it was time to fix it.  Dad is just always game for just about anything, and it was a good opertunity to show off our safe little beast:

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Ebay grumble....

This is another non-Felix related post.

I recently sold a saddle on Ebay for a friend, who expects, and rightly so to be PAID for said saddle.  Listing has been over for 5 days.  Friday I get a message from the buyer "I'll pay you so the saddle can ship Wednesday" which to me, means TUESDAY NIGHT as I must call UPS by 10AM for pickup.  The auction does say pay within 3 days.  Not rocket science, and it's under $500, this should be easy!

This is how I am feeling about Ebay and internet selling in general right now:

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Lesson report, Etc.

Lesson went well yesterday. All in all, my coach likes Felix, and thinks he's a good type for me because he's not super forward, nor super sensitive in the mouth.

A lot of our homework is in regards to me and my poition - I need to do a lot of two-point and stop crossing my inside hand over his neck when steering, which has been a problem for me for years.

As for Felix - he's going to be doing a lot more leg-yelding work in both walk and trot, and trying for more and better bend on circles.

Today Connie and I rode this morning, and she did a bit of jumping. Here is a short video.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

How to make UGLY tack pretty

A while back I picked up a really cheap bridle at a tack sale. I loved everything about it, except for one important part - the color was a complete nightmare!  Being as it was only $20, I bought it anyway.  We've all been tempted to do this from time to time I am sure. As I learned today, there IS hope.

Every rider has always heard that certain oils will darken leather, some conitioners only darken while the product is wet (like Leather Therapy), and others are a little more permanent - like neetsfoot oil.  Every rider on a budget should be aware of just what neetsfoot oil can do for an ugly, light colored bridle.

What you'll need:
Ugly Tack
Jug of Neetsfoot Oil
Ziplock bags (I used several sandwich sized baggies, but a single 1 Qt/L size bag would do better really.)

Here is the original reins that came with the bridle.  I did not treat them because I have rubber reins that I prefer to use, plus it's fun to see the comparison:

Step one: Take bridle apart. This will allow it to fit into the bag better.
Step two: Get all bridle parts into the bag, packed as nicely as possible.
Step three: Pour enough neetsfoot oil into the bag for the tack to "soak" in. You'll need at least 1 cup. This can be poured off and re-used later, neetsfoot oil is not the cheapest thing ever.
Step four: Seal bag. Try to squeeze out as much air as possible, and make sure the bag is well sealed. Shake bag untill all the leather is drenched.
Step five: Leave bag for 30 min - 2 hours, then remove leather, wipe extra oil and then set bridle parts out to dry. Pour extra oil back into the bottle for later use.

Here is the end product on the bridle, set next to my nice HDR browband for comparison, as well as the reins in the original color (Bottom - Original Color, Middle - After Oil, Top - HDR):

 Some cautionary notes:  I don't recomend this for a high priced, or specialty dyed leather (like white, pink, etc.).  High priced is a given, and specialty dyes often cover more like a paint then a true leather dye.
NEVER soak overnight.  Neetsfoot oil has a potential to rot your stitching if you do this.  It is safe to use so long as you don't soak for too long (according to my research the thing that rots stitching is a combination of Neetsfoot and Mineral oils, but better safe then sorry).
If you're Vegan/Vegitarian and only make exceptions for leather tack, be aware that neetsfoot oil is a byproduct of processing cattle. Seeing as you're already using leather tack this may not be an issue - however it is something that you should be aware of.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Real lesson tomorrow

Felix has been going quite well this last week, he had another ride with little Sarah on the weekend, plus I've been out almost every day. 

The super exciting news for me is I talked to my eventing coach that I've taken lessons on and off from for the last 10 years, and we're going to have our first real lesson tomorrow!  I'll be sure to post an update afterwards.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Aww - Felix is a Schoolie...

Or at least he gets to play one every now and again!

Today Felix gave a little walk/trot lesson to my friend Heather's kid, Sarah.  Sarah has ridden on and off since she was a little little girl, and being as her parents are pretty sick right now and she wanted to go riding I figured it was time Felix got tested out with a kid (ok, tween I guess!).

All in all, I'm pretty impressed.  He put up with a bit of floppyness on the part of his rider, but he's difficult enough that she can learn things in a nice, safe way.

Here's some pics of him with his little rider, now that I have permission to post:

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Fun with bits

Since it's been cold and miserable here the last few weeks we've been doing ringwork and getting caught up on other little projects.  Last week Felix had his teeth floated for the first time, which went well.  He was not too bad, but had some points in there that needed it.

We also had the saddle fitter out a few weeks ago.  Laura did a fantasic job on his adjustment, and I am very happy with the current fit.  Still waiting for his crupper to arrive in the mail, but otherwise the adjustments she made are working out fantastically. If you've never had your saddle professionally fitted before I highly recomend it. The things that can look perfect to an untrained eye can still need a bit of tweaking. I also found out that my Isabell was not a good fit for him at all, so it's been sold and we have a brand new St. Lourdes on order.

Yesterday he got a short ride day being as we're all stuffed into a small indoor arena, but we played with bits for a while.  He had been going in a fat copper snaffle, but as we ask him for more work with contact he's gotten progressively more unhappy, with a lot of head tossing. The float was the first step, but this did not 100% handle the problem, so we tried a couple more bits yesterday. The two he seemed to like that need more testing were a big fat stainless steel french link, and my narrow KK Ultra, so we will be keeping track of how he goes in these.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Hi all,

Thanksgiving weekend up here in Canada - and Felix is going great!  He spent last weekend and the early part of last week going on long trail rides.  We went out to the Pinto club ride last Sunday with Heather - it was his first time in a large group, and his first time out in his new hackamore - but he was still pretty good.  The place where the ride took place was about a 1 1/2 hr drive from the barn, and their trals were much more narrow, rocky, and hilly then he was used to but he handled it rather well. We were in a group of around 20 riders, which had him wound up for the beginning but calmed down by the end of the ride.  It was also windy out and super cold which he'd not experienced before - so all in all it was good.

On wednesday we did Copeland Forest again, as usual he was a star and he's getting very used to going in the hackamore on the trails.  We were out for about 3 hours - and it was a gorgeous ride with the beginings of fall colours.  Here is some pics from the ride :)

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Lots of goings on this week.

Felix and I trailered out for another ride on Monday - we had a blast. Great day, great horses.  The only interesting moment was when we were going through a swampy area and Rio who is supposed to be a fearless leader decided that the very large snapping turtle crossing the trail was a big scary dinosaur and she spent the rest of the day very concerned there would be another scary scary turtle lurking in wait for her!

He had a lesson with Shauna on Tuesday, and we worked on some jumping of crossrails yesterday.  He's been such a star lately I'm finding it rough to find things to talk about. When I first started this blog - being as he was a pretty rank little dude when I got him I was expecting to have a lot more training hurdles to overcome, which might have made for an interesting read.  Not that I'm not thrilled that he has come along so well, because believe me - I am.  We're actually looking very good for hsi eventing debut in the spring the way things are going right now.

However, we can't speak too soon - because we are coming to our last 2 days of paid training, and he'll be mostly mine and Connie's from here on out.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

First long trail ride!

Yesterday Felix, myself, Heather and Rio trailered out to a nearby forest for a trail ride day.

Both horses are rather young, but Rio has been out on her own a few times and has proven to be very steady, so she was our fearless leader for the day.  They both got on the trailer with no drama at all, and we arrived at the forest 20 minutes later without incident.  Felix was absolutely drenched in sweat coming off the trailer - no great surprise considering he'd only ever been trailered twice before, and both of those for long-haul moves, so I can't blame him for being nervous and concerned.

Tacked up, no problems - he was a little more wound up, but no worse then riding him outside at the farm. Crossed the train tracks without a flick of an ear, and away we went.  He was a little joggy, being as he has short legs and Rio is huge, so he didn't want to be left behind!   Crossed the water, ate some grass on the move (I want to try him in a hackamore so he can eat on the go for long rides like this), watched Heather's Jack Russel run through the forest and pop back onto the trails.   It was like he'd been doing this all his life.  I started the day putting on my crash vest "just in case" and ended it mosying along the trail with my feet out of the stirrups and him on the buckle.  Now he's redeemed himself as being worth the money I've put into him so far!

End of the day we got right back on the trailer without a hitch, and made it home before the rain started. Fantastic day, I'm thrilled!  Can't wait the Pinto Club trail ride on the 2nd! (Yes, Felix is an honorary Pinto now - lol).

Today, my back muscles hurt like CRAZY.  Don't ever take a year off riding, you'll regret it later.  This is the part where I learn that "core" muscles really does mean back too, and it's not really my abs I need to work on (accepting suggestions of good back excersizes!).

Monday, 19 September 2011

Fun with Clippers

I've been away, so not many updates - however I did make it out to ride the last 2 days.  Felix is going very nicely, I've even been doing some canter work, which while unballanced is coming along.

He was a total star on Sunday in the isle with 3 little lesson girls mauling him and giving treats, he seems to like kids quite well, so maybe I'll have to find him his very own kid down the road. 

After our ride tonight I needed to give him a bridle path, and clean up his throatlatch.  I was feeling creating, so Felix now has Piano Mane!