blog hop

Blog Hop: If your horse were a drink…

My life has been such that I have only put hands on my horse once in the last seven days, but when I arrived last night to pet him on the nose before getting back to work, my luck was in: the farrier was just pulling him out of his stall! It was really great to chat with him about how Tristan’s feet are doing, and about life in general, because he’s a really nice guy.

While we were finishing up, I remarked that Tristan’s face was zoned out in way that made me remark that he was on a sunny beach somewhere, sipping a fruity drink with an umbrella in it – off in his happy place, basically, ignoring the idiots around him.

The barn manager happened to be walking by. “No way,” she said. “He’s not a fruity drink horse. But what would he be drinking?”

“Straight vodka,” was my prompt (and not terribly kind) response.

“Something a little bit classier, but also sassy,” the barn manager suggested. “Whisky, or scotch?”

“Whiskey sour!” I hit on immediately.

That was an instant success. Barn manager said that when he’s behaving in a lesson, using his hind end and all packaged together, he’s a whiskey sour in a nice tumbler etched with his monogram. When he’s bolting hell bent for leather and running into the curb chain on his kimberwicke, he’s poured out the kind of whiskey you need the sour mix to disguise, and bolting it down out of a red solo cup.

We’ve decided that naming drinks for all the horses in the barn will make an excellent future game for long winter days.

So now I put it to you all.

If your horse were an alcoholic drink, what would it be?

blog hop · poetry month

Blog Hop: Poetry Month

Trying my hand at a blog hop, here, for April as National Poetry Month.

What’s your favorite poem about horses? If you don’t have a favorite, do some Googling and find one you like! Song lyrics count, too.

Mine is Robert Frost’s The Runaway. It’s one of his earliest, first published in 1918. Frost is my favorite poet, and he often included horses in his poetry. He spent a lot of time in Vermont and he knew Morgans well.

Frost with a foal, c. 1930
Here’s the poem.
ONCE when the snow of the year was beginning to fall,
We stopped by a mountain pasture to say, “Whose colt?”
A little Morgan had one forefoot on the wall,
The other curled at his breast. He dipped his head
And snorted to us. And then we saw him bolt.         5
We heard the miniature thunder where he fled,
And we saw him, or thought we saw him, dim and gray,
Like a shadow across instead of behind the flakes.
The little fellow’s afraid of the falling snow.
He never saw it before. It isn’t play         10
With the little fellow at all. He’s running away.
He wouldn’t believe when his mother told him, ‘Sakes,
It’s only weather.’ He thought she didn’t know!
So this is something he has to bear alone
And now he comes again with a clatter of stone,         15
He mounts the wall again with whited eyes
Dilated nostrils, and tail held straight up straight.
He shudders his coat as if to throw off flies.
“Whoever it is that leaves him out so late,
When all other creatures have gone to stall and bin,         20
Ought to be told to come and take him in.”
blog hop

Blog Hop: Barn Bathrooms

Okay: first of all, I apologize for my weirdness but this is really truly something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Like, months. So I figured where else am I going to be weird except on my own blog?

(The answer to that is basically everywhere, those of you who have met me in person can safely confirm that, I’m sure.)

Um. Anyway.

Here’s my blog hop: what is the bathroom at your barn like?

Here’s my current barn.

It’s basically a composting toilet aka a fancy outhouse. It gets drained from time to time. On the shelf above, anti-bacterial handwash, monkey butt powder, lysol spray, and toilet paper. To the right, a mirror.
Look to the left of the toilet: yup, that’s daylight. So not heated. On the very coldest of days, it’s pretty unpleasant.
It’s not fancy, but it works. It rarely smells. It’s kept clean and neat. I’ve used many an outhouse in my life (I was a Girl Scout for a looooooong time) and this is vastly superior to all of them.
Every barn I’ve ever been at in Vermont has not had running water in the bathroom. My first barn had a porta potty outside, and if you don’t think the wind would come through that thing whoo boy. Never have I ever peed faster.
I have only experienced a flush toilet and running water at one barn, my one previous to this one. It was kind of glorious. After a 1.5 – 2 hour commute to get there, it was a lifesaver.
What about you?

blog hop · clipping · giveaways

Blog Hop Raffle Results

You might have forgotten that I did this, but I definitely didn’t!

The winner of my horse clipping blog hop is…

Ashley of The Feral Red Horse!

Thanks, Ashley! Check your email!

I hope to do more of these in the new year, so keep an eye out.

Thanks to everyone who participated, commenting or participating in the blog hop. It really helped me to think through what I’d do with Tristan. I ended up doing a modified Irish clip; I had every intention of doing a full Irish clip, but as I started in on his shoulder I didn’t like how thin the hair was, and I kept thinking about blanket rubs. So I clipped down his chest and onto his stomach a bit, but not over the shoulders.

Here he is halfway through.
And here you can see a little bit how it turned out. I don’t love the line on his neck – I’d like to go up more to his throatlatch – but I’m happy with the rest of it. And I’m happy with the way he’s cooling out.

blog hop · mustangs

Blog Hop: Bloodlines

I’m a horrible person, because I can’t remember the exact name people are using for this blog hop but…I keep reading these really neat posts about equine bloodlines, from OTTBs to all sorts of other breeds and I’m over here, like…well, Tristan definitely has ancestors?

Fun game: cover up his freezebrand, put him in front of people, and say, “what breed?” Then watch their faces. I’ve gotten Andalusian, Morgan, Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, the list goes on. (No one has ever guessed “dachshund” sadly.)
It’s funny because what even is going on there with that conformation? sigh.
So I thought I’d link to a few posts I’ve done before about where he comes from, which is as close to tracking his bloodlines as I’ll ever get.
Blog Hop: History of a Horse – about the Callaghan HMA where he was rounded up
Rescuing Wild Mustangs in Maine – about Tristan’s rescue, and how we met
blog hop · vermont

Blog Hop: Location, Location, Location

Courtesy of Sarah at A Soft Spot for Stars, which was a new blog to me!

Tell me about where you live. Are there any frustrating things about your area? What is the weather like? How does the cost of keeping horses compare to where I live?

I live in the best place on earth: Vermont.
Top of the App Gap in summer.
Vermont has everything you could possibly want: gorgeous scenery, a great community of people, and a way of life that is conducive to actually being a human being in the world. I could go on and on, but I love it here. Obviously.
Horsekeeping-wise, it has some really great features as well. The density of high-quality trainers is like nothing else except maybe certain winter watering holes. To name a few of the most well-known: Denny Emerson, Jane Savoie, Laura Graves, Tad Coffin, Steve Rojek, and I could go on. The less famous trainers are also superb. There’s something in the water here. 
The facilities are good, too. You can find something to do every weekend in every discipline, though you’ll have to drive a bit to get there. The Green Mountain Horse Association is a national treasure.
The weather…kind of sucks.

True story: I stepped outside of the house this morning and thought “oh, wow, it’s way warmer than I thought it would be!” It was 30 degrees. It will be like this until mid-April. Think serious investment in winter riding gear, and every time you step outside for 6+ months it’s a slog. It snows pretty much every day in the winter, and most of January & February will be into the single digits or below zero overnight – and there’s about 3 weeks there where that’s the pattern during the day, too. There’s a reason half my barn decamps to Florida from November – May.
That said, we have about 3 months out of the year when it is just gorgeous and that makes everything worthwhile.

Commute-wise, we’re talking country. 30 minutes or so to drive most places. Further afield for anything specialized. But at the same time, many Vermont towns have a downtown where you can get just about anything. I live close to the capital of Montpelier, which has three bookstores, two movie theaters, a million different restaurants, and a lot of great shopping options, all on two cross streets in a city with a population of 7,500 (which makes it the ninth largest city in the state).
That’s another thing: it is tiny. Everyone knows everyone else. You can get end to end – the long way – in 4.5 hours. There are dozens of towns with fewer than 500 people in them. The largest city in the state, Burlington, has a population of 42,000. The entire state has fewer than 500,000 people.
Cost of living is a bit tricky. I lived in eastern Massachusetts for so long that it all feels cheap. At the same time, average salary here is not great. I took a 25% pay cut to move up here and it will be at least another 5 years before I get close to making the same amount. Yay, nonprofits! But here are some figures.
House Prices: $100,000 – $250,000 for something basic; get closer to ski country or second home territory and it goes up quickly. $350,000 will get you nice land + barn. [context: we paid right in the middle of that range for our 2800sf city house with great bones that needed some work]
Boarding: $300 – $600 for stall board. I pay $550 at probably the fanciest barn in the county, which is worth it to me because of the extremely high quality of care.
Expenses: $50/trim, $60/lesson, $150/shoes, say $150 for a basic spring shots vet checkup.
Frustrating: It can be small, sometimes. There are no Targets in the entire state. I don’t have much public/private divide. I work for a prominent organization, and I am a public face for that organization, so my name is in the news somewhat regularly and I often find myself having work conversations in the grocery store. I love what I do, so I don’t really mind, but I’m sure some people would find it awful. 
For me, though, it’s a feature of Vermont: it’s a place that really respects and supports the whole person. There really truly is a depth of community here that you can’t find elsewhere. People are passionate about things, and they’re profoundly welcoming and committed to making the world a better place. I value that especially, right now.
blog hop · clipping · giveaways

Blog Hop: How are you clipping this year?

Okay: giving this at try, because I really want advice.

So let’s try a blog hop.

How are you clipping your horse this year? More or less than last year? Are you doing any fun designs?

Let’s make this a bit more appealing, too. If you participate in this blog hop, please come back here and tell me you did so to enter to win a $10 gift card to the horse retailer of your choice!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Last year, Tristan got basically a light strip clip: down his throat and to his chest. It helped.

(Oh, and lest we forget, I finally got into the world of detail clipping and he rocked a Rebel Alliance insignia on his butt. I’m still insanely pleased with how that turned out.)

He needs more this year.

Because this happened after 35 minutes of dressage work.

I’m pondering an Irish clip. Not his face, because I do not have a death wish, but something that would expose more throat and more chest & stomach, possibly shoulder. No way am I doing a full body clip (he doesn’t need it, I don’t own the clippers for it, see above re death wish).

I am experiencing my usual seasonal anxiety about taking off too much hair, though. I have no idea what this winter will be like. He has all the blankets he needs, but what if? Ugh.
I also need to decide what to put on his butt. 
Right now, I’m leaning toward making him the Flash or Captain America.


We’ll see!

So: please tell me what you’re doing so I can pick your brains and relieve some of my anxiety.

blog hop · warm up

RTR Blog Hop: Training Exercise of Death

Racing to Ride wants to know: What’s your least favorite exercise?


This is an easy one.

Warming up.

I fucking HATE warming up.

Tristan needs a long warmup, at least 20 minutes. He’s old. He’s lazy. He’s creaky. He’s usually pretty pissed off to be under saddle.

this picture was taken 9 years ago. it still applies.

The first 10 minutes of any ride, ever, no matter what, are really frustrating. He balks, he flips his head, he crawls along like a slug, he flings his shoulders everywhere, he slams me into walls and trees, he tries to turn back toward the gate or the barn, he sighs heavily and dramatically.

At 15 minutes, I see glimmers of hope, a little bit of softness, a little bit of responsiveness to my leg.

At 20 minutes, I have a normal horse, if lazy and not always thrilled.

Please understand that he has been this way since I first swung a leg over him. He’s not in an undue amount of pain. He’s certainly not being tortured. He’s getting a basic amount of exercise that, once he gets into it, he really enjoys. Once he is warmed up, he can really be a ton of fun, and as the work improves and he gets better, he gets a certain swagger of confidence and pride. Trust me on this.

But for whatever reason, Tristan’s outlook on life has always required spending the first 10 minutes of every ride telling me I can go to hell.

I admit, it really tests my motivation some days. Ok, lots of days. I often put on music and set my emotions aside and just KICK. And then we get to the other side and it’s fine. But I do have to pause for a moment and grit my teeth before I swing a leg over.

blog hop

TRM Blog Hop: Barn Pet Peeves

Thanks to Catherine at That Red Mare for this one, which I have been pondering for some time, trying to separate out the petty things from actual legitimate concerns.

What is your biggest horse related pet peeve? (Try and keep this one more about the horse itself. Things like spooking at nothing, dirty stoppers, refusing to load, etc.).

Horses with no respect for a person’s personal space. I include in that list horses who ram into you while leading them out, horses that crowd you at the gate in pasture, and horses that lunge at everyone passing by from their stalls. The mare next to Tristan haaaaaaates me, and lunges at me teeth bared almost every time I walk past her, and she managed to get her teeth on my shoulder a few weeks ago. NOT OKAY. 

And secondly, what is your biggest equestrian related pet peeve? (This is less about the horse and more about the people in the industry. It can be anything from hating the aisleways in the barn not being swept, the wait times between classes, or even things like rollkur).

Being invisible.
Let me clarify: I am at a barn that in many ways has a weirdly split personality. During the late fall, winter, and early spring, it’s sleepy and quiet. There aren’t that many boarders that ride regularly, and 9 times out of 10 I have to turn on lights when I get there and I’m the only person in the ring, because I ride after work.
Then, late spring through early fall, the barn becomes home base for the trainer again, and it’s bustling. There are a lot of people with a lot of money and very fancy horses – and I become invisible. For them, the barn is a place where they come for lessons, or keep their horses in training and visit occasionally, or come for camp, or lots of other things, but most of them temporary. The majority of them – even the ones who come for months, or regularly for years – don’t know my name.
I’m also a bit conscious that they don’t particularly want to interact with me, so perhaps I reinforce this in a way – I’m friendly, cheerful, and try to be approachable but I’m clearly not part of their group, and I don’t ever want to butt in, so. There you have it.
The barn staff is awesome. Generally I get to know the working students as well. There are a few other boarders who are around more during the summer, and there’s a local college that rides out of the barn now. I know and like all of those people. It’s that extra layer of people who have $$$ warmbloods that they send south to Florida for the winter, and – I guess I have hangups. (I’ve written about this before, in regards to our barn’s adult camp.)
(Oh, and people who talked to their horses in baby talk. I get cute nicknames, I get a certain change in tone, but for the love of God the cutesy faces and mincing gestures and the high-pitched squeals JUST STOP ALREADY.)
blog hop · organizing

Viva Carlos Blog Hop: Planner Post

I love this blog hop, because I love my planner. Here’s the original post.

I use a very, very specific kind of planner made by a company called Quo Vadis. It’s a style of planner I first fell in love with 12 year ago (eek) when I studied abroad in France in college.

Basically, you buy the outside cover and then keep buying refills for it. This cover is going on 5 years now, and is a bit beat up but for something that is handled basically constantly it’s doing greate. The stitching at the binding is worn and the cover is a bit ink-stained but other than that pretty good.
Size wise, it’s 5″ wide by 6 3/4″ tall. I measured. That makes it roughly the size of a paperback book; a bit wider and a bit shorter. It’s a great size to fit into my purse. 
Right when you open it up it has a good space for stashing things. When I took this picture, it was a pile of receipts I needed to file for work reimbursement. Underneath are my grocery list for the week, my financial planning for the year (using the 30 day system, I book out any purchases over say $15 so I don’t go on spending sprees), other notes, and a sticky note with my monthly budget as a reminder.
The inside, though, is what makes me really love this planner. 
Each page is one day. I have a to do list in the main text, with a box next to each item. X means it’s accomplished. X with a line to the right that ends in —> means it’s been forwarded to the future. X with a —| means it’s been canceled all together. As you can see, due to the empty squares, I’m not always perfect with this. Sometimes I’ll leave them on the days they’re originally scheduled for and flip back to catch up on previous lists.
The scheduling function above is mostly to keep track of personal appointments; work gets managed through a different system. The Priority box on the top is big overall stuff, like visitors coming, a big event day at work, something else that I need to remember for that day. The Notes section at the top keeps any number of things – books I want to read, plans for dinner, you name it. 
These are fairly light days because they’re weekdays. Days off get the whole page filled. I have learned that once I fill up the lines, I can’t make myself put anything more on the list for that day. I have to relax. Type A problems, I guess. I usually try to make items actionable steps; I’ll give myself a number of blog posts to write, or a specific task to accomplish, or in some cases a length of time, so something like “laundry 1 hour” or “email 1 hour” or “tidy bedroom 20 minutes” or “unpack 1 box books” so that I can check it off and move on.
One of my favorite parts of this planner is the bottom outside corner. You can see it on these pages. The corner tears off, so that you can just flip right to the current day. At the end of the year, it’s all torn off.
I’ve used this planner system consistently for about 8 years now. When the year is done, I write the year on the binding and file the old one. Since I keep so much on these pages, it can be fun to look back and track when I did things, or what I was doing. I try to take time in December to do a year in review; I skim back through, copy over any books that I’d noted or general things, and add them to my GoodReads list or other bigger lists or just ditch them.