The chronicles of a Friesian mare who happened upon an owner who lives outside the show ring....

Monday, March 2, 2015

Happy Birthday Daatje!

Saturday, 2/28/2015, marked Daatje's 14th birthday.  So hard to believe we've been together for 14 years!  Where has the time gone.  I can remember the warm August day that I brought her home.  The subsequent work in hand....taking her to open shows, showing in the horse colts and fillies classes.

Getting her started on the lunge, in the lines and eventually under saddle....

Her first outing under saddle at the Greater Manchester Horse Show, walk/trot pleasure, May of 2005 (she was only 4!)


Our championship at the NEFHC Classic, Walk Trot the following year.

Our first Dressage show as a 5 year old.

Taking dressage lessons from one of the best in the area, the 2006-2007 winter we spent at Rosebrook Farm in Georgetown, MA.


Discovering Foxhunting in 2008!

After 7 years of focusing on foxhunting, we re-discovered Dressage in 2014.


And this year........pursuing work in harness. :)  How fitting that her new harness would arrive the day before her birthday!  It's just gorgeous!  I cannot wait to try it on her and get her out and working in it.  Perhaps this coming weekend it will be warm enough!

We have to wait for this crap to melt though, before we can do any serious work.  This winter has been a pisser!

Daatje snoozing in the sun, the morning of her birthday

Monday, February 23, 2015

Worst. Winter. Ever

So sorry it's been a whole month since my last post!  We have been having just the most horrible winter ever here in the Northeastern US.

One week after my last post (Jan 21st) we got the "Blizzard of 2015".  Or as I called it, the.....
It snowed for 3 days.  And it hasn't stopped snowing the entire month of February!!!  Every third day we'd get another foot and in between 3-6" here and seems like all we do around here is wake up, go to work, go home, move snow, sleep, repeat.  No time or energy for anything else!

So.  Depressing.

If winters were always like this, I'd move somewhere very, very warm.

From the manure pile during the first blizzard.
House?  What house?
Oh there's the house.
But where's the car?
So, since that blizzard on January 27, 28 and 29 it's been nothing but storm after storm after storm.  The back of my house now looks like this:

It's very hard to imagine that one day, the grass will be green the sun warm again and the ground thawed.  Nearly impossible to imagine, actually.  I hates it.  A pox on all who love the snow.  There's nothing to love. >:-(

For those who might be wondering, the Smuckers harness return went smoothly, the seller cooperated, I got a  full refund and the deal is closed.  Phew.  We are currently awaiting the arrival of our new custom Camptown harness.  I'm not sure how long it will take to get here, but it's not like I could do anything with it right now anyway.  Seriously.  If it shows up by May I still might not be able to do anything with it. >:-(

But it is coming.  And so is spring......I think.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Camptown Classic Harness and our 2015 Dressage Show Schedule

I have decided to go with the Camptown Classic harness for Daatje.  I have experience with them, they are classy, well made, safe and hold up well for decades with minimal care.  We have one for our Miniature mare, Rainbow.
Mom and Rainbow with her Camptown Classic harness

I contacted Camtpown Harness to discuss options with them and have chosen the same configuration that the owner uses on her 1/2 Friesian gelding.  She send me a couple of photos of the new breastcollar that she designed.  It's purpose is to take the pressure off the top of the neck and transfer it back onto the saddle.  Makes great sense and I really like the look!  She reassured me that for CDE's, even in dressage, this should be totally acceptable and that the only place I may get some funny looks is in the pleasure ring.  I replied that neither of us can stomach the pleasure ring so that should not be a problem! :D

Camptown Owners half Friesian modeling the harness I'm getting for Daatje

I just have to call and place my order.  Hope to get to that before this weekend.  The return of the Smuckers was going well.....until the sellers bank declined the refund.  >:(  I will have to wait 3 days for Paypal to attempt the refund another time and then it's on to opening a "money back guarantee" case with eBay.  Frustrating, but not the end of the world and certainly not preventing me from ordering this Camptown. :)  Thank-goodness.
I really do hope to get some dressage shows in this year too.  Here's what the schedule looks like right now:
May 9th, 2015 NEDA Spring
May 24th, 2015 Beland Stables
June 20 and 21st, 2015 UNH
July 12th, 2015 SMDA
August 8 and 9th, 2015 Oyster River
October 3 and 4th, 2015 GMHA Fall
(Please excuse the messed up table below.  Copied it in and mysteriously can't delete it)
May 9, 2015 NEDA Spring, Marshfield, MA
Tests: Training 3 and First 3
May 24, 2015 Beland Stables Dressage
Tests: Training 3 and First 3
June 20, 2015 UNH USDF Dressage
June 21, 2015 UNH USDF Dressage
Tests: Training 3 and First 3
Tests: Training 3 and First 3
July 12, 2015 SMDA Dressage
Tests: Training 3 and First 3
August 1, 2015 BEARSPOT Dressage
August 2, 2015 BEARSPOT Dressage
Tests: Training 3 and First 3
Tests: Training 3 and First 3
August 8, 2015 Oyster River
August 9, 2015 Oyster River
Tests: Training 3 and First 3
Tests: Training 3 and First 3
October 3, 2015 GMHA Fall Dressage
October 4, 2015 GMHA Fall Dressage
Tests: Training 3 and First 3
Tests: Training 3 and First 3
I'm not entirely certain we'll do NEDA Spring this year. It all depends on how early Spring actually gets here and how much practice we get in. The first two shows are 1 hour and 30 minutes from me, UNH is only 45 minutes from me, SMDA is in Maine, about 1 hour and 45 minutes drive, BEARSPOT is in Concord, MA, about 45 minutes away, Oyster River is at UNH and GMHA Fall would be the only "away" show where we stayed overnight, being a good 2 hours and 30 minutes away.
It's an ambitious schedule, but I'm going to see how things go and play it by ear. :) Of course, the driving training is going to come first, if we want to be hitched by summer, so we may just do the ones at UNH and finish with GMHA in the fall. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

This harness will serve you well for years to come......

.....or so said the Ebay ad for the Smuckers Harness I purchased.  To a reasonable person, that means the harness is serviceably sound, does it not? 

Well, the harness arrived and it was not as advertised.  I hate it when that happens.  The harness was old, I expected that, but old leather doesn't mean weak leather if cared for properly.  What I did not expect and what was not disclosed was that several straps were *broken* and many more were stress cracked to the point of being quite *unsound*.  The stitching holding the backstrap together was completely undone and the blinker stays did not have wire supports.

I'm livid. 

I would not in good conscience hitch a horse to anything in this harness.  It is just. not. safe.  It is indeed a Smuckers Deluxe but one that has long since been past useful service.  To hitch would be an accident waiting to happen.  The seller is either uneducated or a liar (or both) and must think I'm stupid.  Which I'm not.  Thank goodness a novice didn't buy this and think it was ok to use!

So, I've openned a goods return request through Ebay and we'll see if they can get the seller to take it back.  If the seller won't cooperate, we'll see just how good Ebay's claims are on their buyer protection policies to get what was advertised!  I'm getting my money back, one way or another.

In the meanwhile.....

I've decided to just bite the bullet and buy a new setup.  It's just not worth the hastle to save a grand and try to find one used.  I have a few options, just enough to be totally confusing!......the Camptown Harness is really nice.  We have their Classic in miniature horse size for Rainbow and it has served us unfailingly well for over a decade.  There is also the Iowa Valley Carriage harness which seems comparable to Camptown.  Then there's Zilco, but I'm not really that into the look of the Zilco's.....oh and Smuckers has a Beta version of their Deluxe harness that I could many options!  There's the Comfy Fit, the Americana, so many to pick from, I have no idea which to choose.  Time to do some deep research.

Regardless of brand choice, we're going new, black beta, stainless hardware and easy, easy, easy maintenance, that much I DO know! :D

Good thing it's winter time and I won't really be needing it for a few more months!  I'm not even riding much now, it's been so cold.  What I have been doing is weight lifting.  Oh how I have missed my weight lifting!  Great way to stay in shape and stay inside when it's cold out.

Here's a shot of my modest little set up.  I've been back at it for about 6 weeks now.  Up to 2 set routines, three days a week.  Workin' on the "guns" is so much fun! ;)

Heheheh.  I used to be jacked.  In my 20's I'd lift 3 set routines 3 days a week with much heavier weights than I'm lifting now.  I'd be happy to get half way back to where I used to be.  I've taken the winter off from running this season.  Going out in the cold voluntarily to exercise just doesn't appeal to me anymore.

Stay tuned for updates on what happens with the badly represented Ebay Smuckers and if anyone has any suggestions to add on which beta harness might be better than the other, I'm all ears! :D

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy New Year!

It's 2015.  How the heck did that happen?  I'm not sure I like this constant progression of years. :P 


December was a busy month.  I ran the Jingle Bell Half Marathon on December 6th, which was the rain.  It was fun though and I finished the whole thing on a 9:45/mile, which is a personal best!  I also gave myself tendonitis in my right foot, which resolved within a week thank goodness.  Last time I run a half on old shoes!  :o 
Cool shirt and nifty ornament for finishing the race
The holidays were great.  I took two weeks off from work to spend with family and do projects around the house.  In those two weeks, I rode twice, mostly dug up the foundation drain by hand, laid one room of hardwood flooring by myself, installed a cat door to the basement.....I need a vacation from my vacation!

Penny (left) and Roscoe (right) watching me work.  Love my fur-babies!

Room to the left now has hardwood! (carpet is a remnant to hide the plywood sub-floor)
Less-than-thrilled to be pulled off her vacation for a trail ride

Digging up the foundation drain in the dark!
Phew, I need to take a break!  The flooring killed me.  I wasn't sleeping at all due to pain in my hands and arms, which turns out to be carpal tunnel!  Grrrr.  Still worn out from lack of sleep, but night bracing seems to be helping alot.

So, now that 2014 is a wrap, what shall we plan on doing this new year?

Daatje and I will be competing in more USEF dressage shows.  I'm hoping to get enough scores at 1st level for Daatje to earn her perfomance certificate.  I'd also like to try to qualify for the Region 8 Championships while we're at it.  Not sure if that's possible, but might be worth a shot.  We'd have to get 2 scores above 68% to qualify at Training test 3 and 2 scores above 66% to qualify at First test 3. 

I sold the Beta harness and have a Smuckers Deluxe coming that should (fingers crossed!) fit her.  I'm very much looking forward to driving her this summer!  (if all goes well)

And then there's Foxhunting.  What to do about the Foxhunting.  I've thought alot about last season.  It wasn't that much fun.  Certainly not as much fun as seasons past.  I think there's alot of factors coming into play.  Daatje's getting older, the horses in the hunt are getting faster, I was asked to lead 2nd field for many of the latter hunts (regular fieldmaster's horse was out of commission) and leading with Daatje just plain sucks.  Her jumping was sub par when compared to previous years.  She just wasn't into it.  at. all.

I'm conflicted.  I WANT to hunt.  I love the sport.  But I'm not in love with hunting Daatje anymore.  Not with how fast the hunt field has become this past year.  She was out matched in any field but hilltop.  The hilltop folks are lovely.  It's a great casual ride out with some great viewing.  However, it lacks the thrill of the chase, the galloping and jumping.  The reasons why I spend the time, effort and money to hunt!

So, I'm not sure how much we'll be hunting in 2015.  Limited at best would be my guess.  Perhaps we'll make it out to half the weekend hunts. 

In summary, 2015 plans for Daatje are:

Attend USEF Dressage shows in May, June, July, September and October.
Attempt to Qualify for the NEDA Fall Region 8 Championships in either Training or First Level
Resume driving training and (fingers crossed) hitch this summer
Foxhunt a little bit

There are alot of house/yard projects that will be going on at the same time so fitting this all in is going to be challenging!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Only in New England...

Can it look like this on a Sunday......60°F and Sunny
And this on the next Thursday!.......definitely not 60°F.....
Thank goodness we got that pile of wood split and stacked in time!  Winter has set in and last Wednesday was the final scramble to get everything in order before the first snow.  I pulled Daatje's shoes two weeks early as I didn't plan on such early snow and she wasn't equipped with snow pads. 
I hated to pull them after only 4 weeks, but it was either that or keep her in.  Her feet looked great and she's now barefoot and on vacation until spring.  :)  The Die Harder hunt got cancelled due to the amount of snow that fell (no place to part the trailers!) so it all worked out.
She's so happy to be on vacation!  I'm starting her back up in the lines, so took her out on Sunday for the first of many tune-ups before we start back between the "shafts" and then on to pulling the drag.  She was in her stall when I grabbed her halter off the door and opened it just in time to see her bolt outside!  Hahahaha, she thought we were going hunting.  She is SO done with hunting!  Instead of chasing her, I waited in the doorway.  She turned around and came back, peeking in her stall. 
We stood like that for a few minutes when finally I asked her "don't you want scrubbies?"  With the mention of "Scrubbies" (her favorite, she loves being groomed!) she perked up and marched right into her stall, shoving her face into the halter.
Silly mare.  She had no idea that she's on vacation!
After scrubbies, I tried on the harness that came with our new cart.  It's a bit small in places, so I'll likely be selling it, but it's good enough for getting back into wearing the tack and working in the lines.  I have a feeling that Daatje is somewhere between horse size and over size so I'll have a custom harness made for her by next spring.  Until then, we play in this one. :)

Back at the barn, you can see that the breastcollar about a foot too short, the hip straps need to be about 4" further forward on the back strap and the breeching also needs to be about 4" further forward toward her stifle.  This is a horse size harness.  The bridle and saddle fit, but the rest just isn't right for her.  Anyone need a really nice horse size beta harness that is practically brand new?  Likely Amish made, beta with stainless hardware.  Plain bridle, black lines.  Asking $400

This will be going on ebay at some point.  Maybe over the Christmas break (two weeks vacation, whoo-hoo!) I'll have time to take photos and get it listed.

Mom and the Minis came with us on Sunday.  They are so adorable!!!  Love Bosie and Spoo.  Hard to believe they are 21 and 30, respectively!  Seems just yesterday I was 16 and Rainbow was 2. 

Just love 'em. 

This Saturday, December 6th, I'm running what will likely be my last Half Marathon!  It's the Jingle Bell Half in Atkinson, NH and will be the third Half that I have run in 2014.  Long running is not my forte.  I don't enjoy the hours it takes to train for it and it's not really good for your body so I'm doing this one and then switching my focus to weight lifting!  I'll still run 5K's and sprint now and then, but the weights are where it's at.  Love the way lifing makes me feel! 

I'll leave this post with a shot of our beloved "barn" cat quite pleased with himself infront of our wood stove. :)  Cowboy, the ever confident O'Malley-cat, keeping me company while I lift weights. :)