Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Stuck in Quarantine? 12 Horsey Things You Can Do

In this time of global pandemic and the cancellation of Equine Affaire and many local and national horse shows, we're all feeling a bit out-of-sorts.


Unless your horse lives in a HUGE public boarding facility, I'm guessing it's safe for you to visit and ride your horse.  If not, my heart goes out to you.


I'd be going nuts right now If I couldn't have horse time.  I'm a college professor in Ohio and we've been in limbo for a WEEK already, and we begin teaching our courses online on Monday.  I've been reconfiguring my courses and prepping video lectures - it's like first week of school jitters at the pace of finals week!  I've been relishing my barn time, but my nervous energy needs more to do, so here are:

12 things you can do during the Quarantine 

Social Distance approved!-

  1. Clean your brushes.
    I recommend Best Brush Forward tablets.  I use 2 tabs in a 5 gallon bucket.  Soak, wipe, and rinse.  SO easy and it's all natural. Get that winter gunk out of your brushes so you can clean your horse better - it just makes sense.
  2. Clean your tack.
    Take the time to vacuum, clean, and condition your saddle.  Check all your leather for wear and replace as needed.  It's also a good time to swap your leathers from left to right (if you ride English) and check to make sure one hasn't stretched more than the other. I have an arsenal of leather products, but my top favorites for cleaning are Bick1, Leather New, and Fiebings's Saddle Soap.  For conditioning I love good ol' Neatsfoot Oil, Skidmore's Leather Cream, or Bick4 conditioner, depending on the tack.
  3. Wash your washables.
    Wash pads, wraps, blankets with Schneider's Blanket Wash.  Remove the winter crud and get ready to soak up the summer sweat.
  4. Support small businesses. during this economic stress. Treat yourself to something fun and affordable like a bitwarmer or a new decal for your car or trailer. (shameless self promotion)  or these cool feather earrings from A Feathered Filly. A small luxury can boost your mood without breaking the bank.
  5. Take a class.
    Did you know you can take 450 Free classes from Ivy League schools?  I'm currently taking an online class with Stacy Westfall, and considering taking this Free class: The Horse Course.
  6. Get virtual lessons! Join Luke Gingerich's Facebook training page and learn how to work at liberty with your horse.
  7. Sort through the 1,000's of horse photos on your phone
    You know you have them!  Select a few to order on a canvas, or create a photobook on Snapfish like I did for Junior. 
  8. Do something with all those Ribbons you've been collecting.
  9. Find NEW podcasts, blogs, or YouTube Channels to Follow! Embrace the YouTube Rabbit Hole!
  10. Enter a Virtual Horse Show!
    These are popping up EVERYWHERE right now! Check your favorite Facebook groups, or check out: Dressage Show Online
  11. Tidy your Tack Room, trailer, or storage area! 
    I'm intrigued by this set up. Do you really need that leaky bottle of Magic Healzitall that expired in 2015? Consider donating unused but usable things to a horse rescue or 4H club.
  12. Organize your horse's records.
    I keep a binder for each horse I've owned that includes their registration papers and copies of all vet, dental, and care records including Coggins papers and vaccine records. I also keep a binder of all the showbills, entry forms, and other papers needed for shows so it's all righit where I need it.  If you are ULTRA organized you can check out the Free and for-purchase items at The Printable Pony.
Also wash your damn hands.

What are YOU doing to get through this global pandemic?


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Equilutions Volume 12

For more history on Equilutions, here's your yearly recap:
2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2017 - 2018 - 2019

The bottom line is I was a slacker-blogger this year.  I posted a whopping 6 times in 2019... I am sorry.

The thing is, it's not that stuff wasn't happening, it's just that.... well.... I'm just not as Overanxious about everything as I was when I got my first horse, and I have a pretty strong support system now. When I DO freak out (and I do) I have more options than just shouting it into the digital void.   I have a group of experienced horsey friends and professionals I can call/text when I need to, and let's not forget I now have a pretty chill and broke horse who miraculously has remained uninjured for nearly 5 years (aside from a foot thing summer of '18). 

Also, I don't mean to suggest you are The Digital Void.  You ALL have been tremendously helpful and supportive over the years!

So what DID happen in 2019? 

My goal for the 2019 was:
I just want to get to the point where I feel like writing a big expensive check for a horse and taking on the responsibility of expensive board and unexpected vet expenses seems WORTH IT. 

Did I achieve the goal?   I did.  In July I decided to take ownership of Kevin. He wasn't "expensive", and he wasn't the fancy reiner I thought I wanted, but he was the right choice. For the third time in my life I am a horse owner, and I do not regret it.  Horses are expensive.  They cost time and money and emotional labor.  They have the potential to break your heart and owning a horse is living with the fear that at any moment.... okay so yeah, I'm STILL overanxious.  LOL. 

So what else happened? Kevin and I competed in 5 ranch horse shows in Open Conformation, Showmanship, Pleasure, Horsemanship, Trail, and Ranch Riding. We showed in wet freezing wind in April, sweltering heat in July, and some pretty decent weather in between.   

Overall we did really well, winning the year-end high point Buckle for the Open division.... again. :)  I have noticed that Kevin is not doing as well in Pleasure and Conformation as he used to. I'm thinking it's a combination of his age and an increase in competition.  I'm planning to get a vet assessment in the spring to see if something could help him move more smoothly like he used to.  He's fine, not lame, just not a fluid as he used to be.  

I've been horse trailer shopping for months now, and I promise to tell you all about that eventually. Seriously it's almost worse than buying a horse!

We entered a Halloween costume and obstacle contest and we were 1st in costumes and 2nd in the obstacle challenge. 


My awesome friend and barn owner bought us a photo shoot with Kate Bowser Photography so for Christmas so I got these:

So what about 2020?  
Gosh that's a nice round number.  Hopefully that's a sign of things to come: balance, solidity, and clarity. 2020-Vision, you know? 

My only real goal is to continue enjoying my horse.
And maybe try to rejuvenate my blog, but I'm not sure how much time I'll really have to do that, so I don't want to make promises I can't keep, to you or to myself. 

SHOWING in 2020:

There will be shows! Our show circuit is changing for 2020 and I'm disappointed in the changes. First of all, our favorite venue is closing and the shows are now further away - over an hour instead of 30 minutes - which means I can add hotels to my show budgets.  Joy.

Instead of 4 Ranch shows and 3 pleasure shows with ranch classes counting for points, its only 2 ranch shows and several pleasure shows with ranch classes.  BOO!  The pleasure shows stick the ranch classes at the very end - like an afterthought and with such big showbills, the ranch classes could start at 2pm or 9pm, there's no way to know. The judges tend to be more pleasurey judges and since the classes are filled with pleasure horses in work tack it's hard to place.  I'm not knocking pleasure people, it's just that they have a style and an aesthetic that is different from ranch and a judge that prefers that aesthetic will look for it and reward it.  Judging is subjective and I accept that, but it reminds me of riding really good arabs amongst a sea of quarter horses in the 90's and never placing - oh boy do I have some stories about prejudiced judges....  Plus they're only offering conformation, reining, showmanship, pleasure, and ranch riding.  No trail.  No horsemanship.  No fun.  

The only other ranch circuits are over 2 hours away and without a living quarters....  BOO.

The two ranch shows are both on Sundays following a Western Dressage show, and I'm planning to compete in those two shows, too.  So it may end up being a 4-shows-but-only-two-weekends show season.  

I also hope to do more trail riding.  We'll see how Kevin feels about that....

Happy New Year! 

Monday, December 2, 2019

Need a Horsey Stocking Stuffer?

Hi Friends!

The past 3+ months went so quickly!  The school year started with increased duties and some changes in staffing requiring me to focus more on my day job (eeew) so I am woefully behind on horse blogging!  I promise there are stories to come about how Kevin and I finished our show season, some crafty things, and an epic secret journey I'm on.   Anything else I promised to tell you but forgot to?

In the mean time, I wanted to let you know that I'm offering FREE SHIPPING in my Etsy store TODAY. 

Also, I will be raising prices on Etsy in January to include shipping costs, so if there's something you've been eyeing, the time to purchase is now!  Remember everything is custom, so if you want something you don't see, or if you were hoping to get a BitWarmer this year, just message me on Etsy or Facebook.


The Facebook page, btw, is only TWO likes away from earning a giveaway!

Happy Winter!

The Overanxious Horse Owner

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Search Is Over

No, I did not buy a mare.  LOL. I've loved many mares in my life, but I prefer geldings.

Every so often, the Universe give you a nudge.  You can ignore the "nudge", but not for long.

While in the midst of searching for my perfect unicorn something unexpected occurred.  I received some news I neither anticipated nor desired, my gut reaction was surprising, and this news changed the whole course of my Unicorn search.

I spent a long week feeling that my gut reaction would wear off, and my head would take over and I would realize that I was better off staying the course I'd set for myself and to just ignore this new information.  I began to make a list of pros and cons. 

But as the days and weeks moved on, that gut reaction had settled itself into my heart, and equally into my mind.  In my 4 decades of life, I've learned that when all three: gut, heart, and head are in agreement..... you should probably take notice.

I continued looking at horse ads.  I even posted my ISO ads incase a better Unicorn would show up and I would see that my plan was the right plan.  Every ad that grabbed my attention went through a series of "oooh that one's pretty!  Oh but____________."  If the horse did fit my criteria (very few did), I would then think "Ugh.  Do I really want to start over?  It's such a gamble.  What if it's not the right horse after all? What if? What if? What if?"

The nail in the coffin was when I got a text from my reining trainer that my favorite lesson horse might be for sale.  This horse FIT my Unicorn criteria EACTLY- and for a split second I got excited, but it didn't last.  I knew then that I had already found my Unicorn.

"I want a Kevin."
"I want to take a smooth pleasure horse and teach him Ranch stuff."

How long was I going to say those things and NOT just buy the actual Kevin?

So five years and two buckles later, on August 2nd, I took ownership of Kevin. His Now Former Owner is now his leaser for the remainder of the show season.

Nearly five years ago I met him.   I had lost Junior in 18 months previous and I was still emotionally and financially too fragile to become a horse owner again.  I happened to be at the barn trying out a vintage saddle I'd purchased and he was there as a test-ride for another friend.  I saw his lope and said "OMG can I try that!?!"  I rode him, he tested me, and I declared "If I was buying a horse today - I would buy him right now."    I knew it was not the right time for me to be a horse owner, but I began leasing him just because I liked him and wanted something to ride.

I was given the opportunity to take him to shows and spent the next summer teaching him Trail and Boxing and Showmanship, and how to extend his little pleasure jog.  By the end of the summer we'd earned my very first buckle: Champion Green Ranch Rider.    His owner considered selling him and I considered buying him, but he wasn't "perfect" so I started looking for a Reiner, not a pleasure horse, so I could be more competitive in the Ranch stuff.

I found Huck.  And we know how those two years turned out.

Since my back was messed up and I again needed to recover financially, I asked his Kevin's owner if I could ride/show him again after I sold Huck and that year (2018) we won our second year-end high point buckle:  Open Ranch Champion.

This year I began the search for my Unicorn while still riding and showing Kevin.  I knew exactly what I wanted.  I wanted "a Kevin."  Specifically a younger Kevin.

And then the text came, the day before the show in June, that he was going to have to be sold.  I knew right then that everything had changed.  I was no longer looking for "A Kevin."  I already had my Kevin.

I did much soul searching, comparison lists, and I spoke to lots of folks about their opinions on "older" horses because Kevin turned 15 this year. I was looking for 12 at the absolute max - preferably in the 6-8 years. That was the ONLY piece of my criteria that Kevin didn't fit.   So, Britnie guessed right!

Here's why I decided it was okay to go off-list with age: He's proven he can do what I want him to do.  He's starting to get stiff in one of his hocks so we're probably looking at some maintenance before long. But he's still showing ALL day for both me and his (now former) owner, and he's such an easy keeper.  Keeping Kevin eliminates SO many unknowns - so many potential anxiety-causing possibilities.  I KNOW Kevin.  I know his quirks, I know his stubborn streak and how to deal with it.  I know that we don't have to lunge at shows, I know that he has a tendency to get scratches on his white foot.  I know he likes to be scratched on his chest, his fetlocks, and belly, and that he doesn't like extension cords moving on the ground and he can be a brat to load.  I know that he takes a LOT of riding and consistency to perform well. He's not a horse you can leave sit and then expect him to ride well.

Could I have found another unicorn that would be also easy to keep and easy to show and "better"?  Maybe.  But truth be told, I love this horse and I am not ready to let him go.

I don't yet know if I'll keep him forever or if I'll ride him for a few years and then lease him out to a kid/newbie, or if I'll send him to a retirement field.  Maybe we'll get another 10 years of showing together.  Maybe we won't.  I am concerned about his teenage status, but with good care and good living, he will be just fine. I would have NEVER sold Junior, and he would have been 19 this year.

I thought I wanted a young prospect to take up through the ranks.  Instead, I'm keeping my best buddy and continuing on the path we started 5 years ago. 

Sometimes you think you want something and then you get lucky and get what you need instead.