My Dream Horse

I’ve wanted a horse of my own since I was 13. I always dreamed of buying my first lease horse, Tawny, and making her into the best horse I could. Clearly, those dreams didn’t come true, and I’m actually quite happy that one didn’t come true. Despite being a fantastic horse that took good care of me and was probably the main reason I made it through high school, she would have never been able to do what I want to do now. I’ve always struggled with wanting a horse and I often went through periods of desperation and depression that I would never own a horse of my own.

I remember crying to my mom at 16 years old in the upstairs office at 11pm about a girl I’d known for years had gotten a horse handed to her by a family friend, and how she rubbed it in my face. I was burning for a horse of my own, and my parents just shook their head and said: “let’s keep up with a lease and it will happen one day, and you’ll be the one writing the check for your own perfect unicorn”. That same horse ended got taken away from that girl and given to Sue to train so that was the first bit of karma that bit her in the ass. A few years later, after a violent falling out between us, the same girl got another horse, again practically handed to her. I cried again, still not understanding why this girl got two horses practically handed to her and paid for. My mom repeated the same mantra, “it will happen someday Anna, you’ll have a unicorn of your own”.

One of the things that peeved me the whole time is my parents had the money for one. We could have comfortably afforded a low budget horse, but that wouldn’t have taught me anything so my parents never did. I am so thankful they never did. My mom has said the only horse she would ever buy for me is if Tawny ever came up for sale she would buy her for me because she knew how much I loved that mare. On an ending note for the girl who got handed two horses, her current mount last I heard was a year out of work because she is too hooked on pot to work for the animal and hasn’t worked on training him. Karma is a bitch.

My whole plan for my horsey future is to use the last of my college savings to bankroll the first year-ish of owning a horse. Again, I am incredibly lucky my parents saved enough for me to go to the more expensive state school in MA, but I’ve been trying to use the absolute minimum for my college education, but like most colleges, they like to charge ridiculous things and not tell you. With whatever I think will be left over will hopefully help cover the first year of at least board for one horse, and possibly shoes too, while I work full time on a full salary to start saving for the future of having that horse. My goal is to be able to hand a budget to Caroline and Sue in December of 2020 and ask them to help me find something that fits my riding goals.

My ideal horse wishlist consists of this; a young horse, Arabian or half, mature between 15.3 and 17hh, 16hh ideal, has already had a human sit on its back, chestnut, capable of higher level dressage, show in sport horse classes, a gelding, trail ride and is an acceptable beach buddy. (I am extremely determined to have my beach ride before I die).

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Ideal color and markings- would prefer 4 stockings ideally

Again, if it’s not clear by now, I definitely want an Arabian. I am so hooked it’s not funny. There’s just something about how gorgeous and versatile the breed is that got me hooked. I know the color isn’t a massive deciding factor in buying a horse, but I have a major thing for chestnuts. It’s a problem. Maybe its because my favorite color is red, or that chestnuts can pretty much wear any color. If I went for a half arab, I think I’d want either a half saddlebred or a half warmblood. I do want to go for a more dressage type horse so a half warmblood would be ideal, but half saddlebreds are also gorgeous.

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My riding goals feel pretty simple to me. I want to do high-level dressage, maybe not Prix St. George, but at least get to third or fourth level, maybe toss some freestyle dressage in there too. The ability to show in sport horse classes at Arabian shows is also a must because it would be wonderful to keep that up and continue showing sport horse. A trail buddy and beach buddy are secondary wishlist items to all of this. I do want a show horse, and a show horse that can do all that plus trail riding is a tall order. Plus there is the risk factor of injury on trails and beaches, so if that is so, that part of the wishlist can be pushed to the eventual and inevitable horse number 2, which either will be another show horse or a grade quarter horse that I can goof off on. Horse Number 2 wishlist is still under debate.

I also need a tall horse. I don’t have super long legs, but I am 5 foot 6, so I need something between 15.3 and 17 hands. Ideally, I want 16 hands exactly, but having a purebred 16hh horse doesn’t seem to be very common and half Arabs end up around there usually. The gender of the horse is also pretty wishwashy. I have worked with incredibly mareish mares and mares that if you didn’t know any better you would asusme they were geldings. So far only one gelding has mistreated me in my entire horse career, so I am leaning towards a gelding but gender doesnt feel so important in the long run.

Look how cute!!!

Finally, the last part of my wishlist, a young horse that is at least or will mature to somewhere between 15.3 and 17 hands. The young part freaks my mom out the most, but I want to train a horse right, and not have to worry about untraining something else. I definitely want something that has had a human sit on. The idea of a foal is still up in the air because I am someone who lives for riding just as much as I live for the groundwork, so waiting to back the horse would be just another nail in the ‘I’ve wanted a horse for over 7 years” coffin, and possibly waiting another 2 years after would kill me. However a baby would be the perfect solution to bringing a horse along myself and teaching it everything myself, so again, its up in the air.

I also don’t want an older horse, because of the medical costs. A lot of Arabians I know that are older often need injections, and I definitely am not ready for that cost up front. If I found the right horse that needed them, I would definitely be all over it regardless of future medical costs, but its something I don’t want to have to think about for a few years.

It’s so exciting to me to think my dream horse is only a few years away.  Its something I’ve waited for for so long, and I know the perfect horse will come along at the exact right time. How long till I get to that perfect horse and if I go through a few different ones is subjective, but I know that the first horse will be soon.

Mini Schooling Show and an Update

This past Sunday, Caroline held a small schooling show for the Connecticut River Arabian Association at the farm. We were really not sure how many people were going to come, and in the end, only people on property were showing but it was a really good experience for all.

To start the day, in simple terms, Bently was pissed. He watched everyone else go out and then spent the whole morning screaming his displeasure at being left in. He eventually calmed down, but then Mikhai realized he was not being let out either and started the screaming back up again. I wasn’t too worried about his mental state until I took him out to lunge and he was a lunatic outside. Like spooking, running, snorting like the dragon he pretends to be.

Nicest warm up ever

Thankfully once I was on, he seemed to calm down a bit. Maybe it was all the cars parked around or that someone was walking their horse that got him, I wasn’t sure. We warmed up pretty soft and nice which I was very happy with. We ended up wandering around while waiting for our two classes because Bently is a pacer and he wouldn’t let me stop and breathe so we did laps.

The first class was rough. Bently wasn’t expecting the back door to be wide open with the ranger parked outside of it, and there were a lot more people on the rail then he was used to in that ring, so he spooked twice. Again, it didnt help he was alone either so it was one of those do the best we could.

CORNER IS VERY SCARY ABORT ABORT ABORT!

We had some gorgeous moments when he did finally figure out he should ignore everything, but getting him to ignore it was a battle. And then he was all fired up and wouldn’t let the ring hands pin him. It took a combined effort from me and Caroline to get the ribbon on his bridle. Once he realized it was victory lap time, he was all up and in a frame and reaching and oh so pretty.

The second class was infinitely better as I knew what to expect and I relaxed a lot more. We did break at the canter but my horse has very little stamina when it comes to cantering, which is a work in progress. He still was a little wary of everyone coming up to him but he relaxed a lot more. Victory lap was more subdued without the ribbon on his bridle. After he managed a short walk down to the pond because Brooks caught a fish and I wanted to see how big it was. Curiosity killed the cat I guess.

Swishy tail to show my anger at being ridden in the other scary corner- Bently

Overall, I am so proud of him. I went in with no expectation and prayers that I would not have a horse that would completely revert into saddle seat mode once he realized he was in a show ring. He had a few saddle seat moments in the second class but they were almost manageable. Caroline and I are already planning an upgrade to a Pelham when we go into shows because he does get a bit bigger in the ring and our current snaffle is just too thin to get him to pay attention.

I AM DONE THANK YOU VERY MUCH. WHERE IS MY TREAT

Bently still needs to gain around 100 pounds to be able to show up at Springfield in May. It has been decided if he can’t gain enough weight before the show, he won’t be able to show as she can’t bring a horse that skinny up to a rated show. We won’t get pinned if he is super skinny like he still is, and as he is a well-known horse on the Region 16 circuit, she would get a lot of flack from other people from him being so skinny. Caroline has said if he shows improvement in the next week we will sign him up for the May show. He finally is eating all his food and is eating a lot more of his hay but I am still petrified he won’t gain the weight in time. We have him on a lot of hay pellets as 90% of the horses on the property are fat off hay pellets and Caroline is putting Purina Outlast and rolled oats in with his feed as well to help with his fiber intake.

He will be getting almost 5 days off from riding because I leave Saturday afternoon for the lovely state of Missouri (aka Misery) to visit my sister and brother in law. I’m hoping he packs on the pounds while I’m gone, or at least enough that he will be fat by the time May 10th rolls around.

The StripHair

I recently purchased a StripHair grooming tool. I’ve known about this product since it came out, and always considered purchasing it, and also reviewing it next to more traditional products. It’s more on the expensive side for my taste, but thanks to an Amazon gift card for my birthday, I made the purchase. It came in the cutest packaging, and the most adorable box ever. Kudos to the company for cute packaging. My dad, of course, made stripper jokes the entire time I opened it.

When I brought it to the barn, I tried it out on Mr. Bently. Now he hasn’t really been shedding a lot, which I wonder if it’s due to the fact that he’s from upstate New York or if he just never grew a lot of hair for the winter. He was more interested in the smell if anything.

Can I eat it?????

After almost two weeks of use, I will be completely honest, I think it does a lot better than the other shedding tools I’ve tried. More dirt is coming out off of his coat, and he doesn’t seem to wiggle as much with it. I also don’t have to worry about hitting some of the bonnier parts of him with a blade, which he told me very quickly early on that was not his favorite part of our grooming routine. I’ve also gotten a lot of hair off of him in the time that I’ve been using it. The diamond sides on the StripHair have proved incredibly useful for getting rid of mud as mud season descends on us, as well as helping curry out sweat marks. I love that the smaller diamonds are useable on the legs and face, which work well in Bently’s habit of coming in with mud covered legs.

I’ve also done a few test runs on Logan, my instructors very fluffy draft, who didn’t seem to care very much for it other than that it did not taste good. The diamonds helped a lot with all the mud he often comes in with, and I was covered in all the hair I pulled off of him. It definitely took a lot of hair off of him, he has a trace clip so there isn’t a ton of horse to de-shed but boy 90% of that hair is just off his butt and that’s after the first sweep through.

Logan’s Yak Hair on the floor

In my two weeks of having it, I really like the StripHair. It doubles as a quick curry comb too with the diamonds which I love using. I also tested it’s de-shedding abilities on my saddle pad last night and I got so much hair off the saddle pad it was ridiculous. I could have made a second mini horse out of the hair that came off of it.

I have yet to test out the bathing features of the StripHair, as its just starting to hit the 40s and 50s in the afternoons now. It’s already looking like it will make a good bathing tool because of how well it takes dirt off it, and I’ve used it as a sweat scraper already so I’m excited for the first bath of the season now.

 

50 Days Remaining

As of today, we have 50 days left until our first official show. I’m so nervous for it, but for different reasons other then riding in a big rated show.

Bently still looks like a skinny mess. I have no idea how he looked so round and happy last season, but there’s something somewhere someone isn’t telling us. Caroline has him on about 5 different gut supplements including a CBD treat, but we haven’t seen the weight gain that we will need for show season. The CBD treat is supposed to help improve his appetite and his stomach, and he has been eating more of his hay then usual too. Caroline did say in our lesson yesterday that he wasn’t as hippy as he used to be, and our new plan is to try him on a round of Ulcer Guard as well as put him on Purina Outlast, which worked wonders on Logan and the vet highly recommended it, so fingers crossed.

We schooled some extensions and collections on Monday during my lesson with Sue, and while the trot looked good, he had very little stamina to do so at the canter. Canter extensions prompty were added to my homework list. The day before I had worked him in the outdoor for the first time ever. While it was fantastic quality for that footing, it was deeper then he was used to, so he worked harder in that footing which I thought was a good change up for him. I also have plans to work him over the small hill we have in back, but it’s still a little slippy and muddy so I’d rather not die trying to help him build more hind muscles.

Thursday’s lesson with Caroline also went really well, did a lot of walk canter transitions as thats the most common way they ask for them in arab classes. He did so well, and at the end she looked at me and went, “this has been one of your better lessons yet with him”, which was a major confidence booster as well as her comments of him coming along a lot faster then she had predicted. I’m trying him with spurs for our ride today, a very rounded pair unlike my pokey ones and hope that he won’t try to kill me like last time.

Forgot a birthday hat so a snapchat filter works!

Thursday was also his foal date! Bently is officially 13. However doing a lesson and having your sheath cleaned on your birthday isn’t how I would want to spend mine, but that’s how he spent his! He was really good for the cleaning, despite major snorting and wide eyes at the puddle, ing until we used a syringe to flush out his sheath, and then he had a mini heart attack and tried to jump forward on the cross ties. Apparently he hates puddles. Need to wok on that.

Speaking of working on things, he no longer walks off once you get on! I am so proud of that little achievement. It pissed me off so much that the moment your foot was in the stirrup off he went walking, leaving me struggling to swing over and sit. It’s a bad habit from when he was broke and no one ever fixed it. So take that saddleseat trainers! He still does this weird half step back and to the side thing while moving the block and stepping up on the block, but its already a lot better then before, and it doesn’t take me 5 minutes to mount up anymore.

With 50 days to go, it’s not as scary as before, but I am still very nervous for it. Right now I have a dead to my aid horse who we just barely have all our extension and collections on, but there’s always that chance when we hit the showring I’ll have a completely different horse. Fingers crossed I just have a more forward horse.

Rated Bills

Out of all three siblings (including the in-law), I have the most expensive sport. Who knew buying a sheet to cover a four legged animal could cost upwards of $200 dollars? Not little 5 year old me.

This year is the first year I will be riding in rated shows. Like ever. I’m accomplishing little 10 year old Anna’s dreams of showing in a big ring, but in a more cost effective way. Like not doing main ring hunter jumpers down in Ocala for one.

First show, look how tiny!

Before I continue, I want to say I am incredibly lucky to be able to work with horses and afford to ride them. My parents help out with some of my bills, for the past 15 years they have dutifully paid for parts of my lessons, my leases, and some of my show fees. I have to give them so much credit for helping me out, and also not handing it to me freely. I had to prove I wanted it badly enough, and if that didn’t cover it, do chores, help out, you get the idea.

I like to say I’m cheap, but I’m cheap with impulse issues. There are some purchases I just say give it a good ole “f*&k it”, and hit place order, like a lot of my riding clothes and saddle pads. Showing in the Arab circuit, I am thankful that some corners get cut. But I still need to get a lot of new versions of items that I already have, because unlike small local shows, my apperance has to be up to a higher standard. AKA I will be judged on my clothing and attire so I need a whole new gear set up to not place last.

Thankfully, Caroline saved my ass by letting me borrow a jacket. But that really was the only thing I could avoid. Everything else, show shirt, white breeches, stock tie, new boots, etc had to be reinvested in. Also, how do these Grand Prix riders, especially the guys, go about without issues with underwear?! I mean I know they can spend the big bucks, but why is this such a problem? New underwear and a new sports bra prompty got added to my buy list after my white pants came in.

And of course because someone has expensive taste and issues, I needed a new show pad for Bently, which had to be a Back on Track pad, so I bought two brand new black ones. There went another $100, and brought my saddlepad collection up to 10 pads. Still too many, but I have my eyes on the new BoT saddle pads that just came out.

Doesn’t he look so good in all black?

Of course I still haven’t factored in all the other costs like trailering, hotel, stall fees, and class fees. That’s a whole different ball park that I will most likely be cringing at when it comes down to it. Luckily there are some fees that won’t be as large as they normally would due to me working off a lot of it, but it will still be interesting to see what the final costs will be. Probably incredibly higher then I originally anticipated so we’ll see when May 10th comes (which is only like 52 days left).