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

Monday, January 13, 2014

Handgun 101

I've always wanted to learn how to shoot so for Christmas this year, I asked for tuition to the Handgun classes at Sig Sauer Academy in Epping. 

They offer a variety of classes taught by well qualified professionals with law enforcement and military experience in firearms and tactical training.  Having no prior experience, I signed up for the very basic introductory course to handguns, Handgun 101.

I say "basic" and "introductory" but honestly, this was an 8 hour course with 4 of those being classroom training, 2 actually shooting on the range and 1 breaking down, cleaning and reassembling the handguns.  (we broke for 1 hour at lunch)

The shooting experience was far more intense than I had expected!  The instructor began with a demonstration, having us gather around him while he fired his .40 Sig pistol at a target from 3 yards.  He put three bullets through the exact same hole in the target.  What impressed me more than his accuracy and precision was the percussion felt when the gun was fired!

If you've ever been to a concert and stood close to the speakers on the stage you've felt the reverberations to your very core.  It was kinda like that.  And loud!  Even with the ear protection.  Granted we were indoors, but still.  I suppose the 35,000 psi that builds up in the barrel has to go somewhere!

After the demonstration, we were put through our own exercises with 9mm Sig Sauer P229's.  The sensation was incredible.  The smell of the gunsmoke, sound of the simultaineous gunfire, feel of the brass shell casings raining down on you as you tried to focus on the tiny spot on the target and  put those bullets through the first hole that you made. 

It took me a few minutes to adjust to it all and settle the nerves, but once I did, oh what fun it was!

I've already signed up for the second class, Handgun 102: Basic Practical Handgun Skills, that will take place on February 23rd.  It's another 8 hour class, and I can't wait to learn more.

Brass flying as I shoot for the first time.




Friday, January 3, 2014

Millennium Mile 2014

Happy New Year everyone!

The 2013 hunt season has come to an end, the holidays have come and gone and as I sit typing this, it's a balmy 1°F outside with a substantial wind chill factor. 

I pulled Daatje's Ground Control's a few weeks ago and her hooves looked fantastic!  Plastic horse shoes definitely go on the list of amazing things we tried in 2013.  I'll be certain to use them again next season.  For now she's barefoot and enjoying her extended vacation.  I'm lucky if I ride once a week this time of year and quite frankly, I hate riding when it's cold and snowy.  No worries though.  The time off does her good, I think.  Me too, actually. :)

So, what does this girl do when the riding season has all but come to a halt?  She runs! :D

I'm training for a half marathon on March 30th, so my running schedule has become much more regular.  In the midst of training, I'm throwing in some road races; the most recent of which was the Millennium Mile run on New Years Day!  What a blast.  There were over 1,700 people lined up to race down a one mile stretch of road, down hill for the most part.

I have never raced a mile sprint before, so was not sure how fast I could really go over the distance.  I figured between a 7-8 minute mile so that's the corral I chose to start from.  I ended up with a 7:15 time....just 15 seconds from being in the 6 minute mile range!  Not bad!

I'm not a fast runner, never was.  More of the distance type.  Long, slow distance. :)  Anyway, that time put me in 444 place out of 1700 and in 33 place out of the 224 women in the 30-39 age category.

Here are some photos, sponsored by Geneia (runners get digi photos for free! :D )

The masses lined up at the start

I'm left of center in the green, number 385.

Coming down the home stretch

At the finish line!
I love running.  It's so much fun!  Wednesday's race was so cold, I must have had 5 pounds of layers on.  Not very flattering, but warm! 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Another hunt, another video!

Peacock Feather Video came back out again yesterday to take footage of our hunt at Yorkfield Farm in Kensington, NH.  Of course I had to buy another DVD, but more on that later....

It was a windy and very cold day, perfect weather for a long foxhunt!  We were out for 3 hours and covered 11 awesome miles.  Something happened yesterday that was the highlight of my season.  Come to think of it, it was the highlight of the past six seasons!

There is this one jump at Yorkfield that I've never asked her to do.  We usually ride in 2nd field at this fixture because of it.....

It's a steeplechase style hedge jump that is nearly 4 feet tall. 

Well, I decided to ride in 1st field yesterday, despite the hedge and the fact that the field master was on a horse that is much faster/more capable over fences than Daatje, I figured we could ride in the back and if we got into too much trouble, drop back to 2nd.

Thankfully, it's early on in the hunt, so by the time we got to it, there was still plenty of energy under me.  Even still, I had visions of her looking too hard, sucking back, getting her front end over but not her hind end....

At the last minute, I thought to myself, "you'll never know unless you ask, right?".  I'd never asked her to jump it, just assumed it was too much for her to process.

We approached.

I asked.

She jumped it like a boss.  Whoo!

Look at those knees!
And that wasn't the end of it.  There were many coups and rails and long gallops.  She handled it all with style.  I couldn't be more proud. 

Waiting for the hunt to begin.

Rails in a field.

Up the steps.

Across the polo field.

Warming Up

Logs.
I'm still on cloud nine.  Without further ado, here's the link to the video:  Yorkfield Hunt

Even better than the first, I think.  I love my mare!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Video stills from the Prodigue Hunt

I purchased a DVD from Peacock Feather Video (with extra footage of us! :) ) and as a thank-you, she sent me some still shots from the footage.
In the beginning of the hunt

Towards the end of the hunt.....stealth photographer trying to hide her camera. :P


Another towards the end of the hunt.

This series is so cool.  I didn't know we were being videoed and I was taking video of my own as we galloped up the hill.

The Friesian catches some air.


 
This was towards the end of the "gone away" just before stirrup cup.  I took a bunch of photos as we galloped up the hill.
 
So neat to have these pictures and I simply can't wait to see the full DVD! :D  What a great way to remember this fabulous season.

The next hunt for us is this coming Saturday, which also happens to be the Hunt Ball!  Then it's the last hunt of the scheduled season, the "Die Hard" Hunt on the 27th followed by the "Die Harder" Hunt, which has just been announced as a post season hunt on the 30th.  Let's hope the snow holds off!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Professional Video from the Prodigue Farm Hunt

I wanted to share the link to this video that Peacock Feather Video put together as a sample of the footage they took of Wentworth at the Prodigue Farm Hunt on 11/16/13.  We're in it quite a bit!  Silly me, always with my camera out. :P

http://youtu.be/5QYsklJY20g

It's very cool. :)


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ground Control Shoes - 12 week update

Today has been 6 weeks since the last reset of Daatje's front shoes and she was in definite need of a trim.  The shoes, which have been worn for a total of 12 weeks, were at the end of their useful life.  In my opinion, these plastic horseshoes wear equally as well as steel shoes. 

To prepare the new set of shoes, I had to mark and dremel out the nail channel a little to accommodate Daatje's white line. 
New GC Shoes marked for widening the nail channel.  I also noted where her steel shoes ended to give an idea of how much support I'd want to leave in the heel.
To help me out, I used an old pair of steel shoes that she had worn in the past.

I then marked the shoes for studs.  Being polyurethane, it is easy to install "Grip Studs" as you would for a tire or a hiking shoe.  I figure the time is not far away when we could be hunting in the morning on frosty grass, which would be very slippery without some traction assistance.
Marked for studs
Tiny "Grip Stud"
I drilled a small pilot hole and then used the special tool to screw in the studs.  I'm hoping these will perform like borium on a winter shoe.  They can be removed, if they don't work out, but I'm hopeful they will, as we're coming into the season where they'll be needed!
Four "Grip Studs" installed and ready to go.
So, that done, it was off to the barn to remove the old GC's and trim the mare up.  Here are photos of the 12 week old GC shoes next to their unused counterparts.


Left front, ground side.
Left front side view (heel at my fingertips, toe bottom of photo)

Left front, sole side.
Left front, heel view.
Right front, ground view.

Right front, solar view.

Right front, side view.

Right front, heel view.
12 weeks of being stomped on by 1400 lbs of Friesian, almost 100 miles of foxhunting in rocky terrain, hacking on pavement, slippery wet grass, mud, river crossings and they still had tread!  Ready to be replaced, but the performance completely met my expectations.  I'm very pleased.  She continues to move well, stay comfortable and confident!  I'm getting better at the application too, which certainly helps things along.

Here are some pictures of her fronts, freshly done.














Ok, a lot of pictures. :)  Hunting has been going smashingly well.  We've been consistently in the back of 1st field, jumping everything and keeping up 'till the end.  I honestly believe the shoes have played a major role in the success we've been having this season!  Thank-you Ground Control Horseshoes! :D

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hunting on a Wednesday

Is not something I get to do very often, given the fact that I have to work to make a living.  But, last Wednesday I took a vacation day to go foxhunting.  It was a hot day, nearing 80 degrees.  The MFH waived jackets (thank goodness!) given the heat so although it's now formal season, we were allowed to wear our white polos.  I was asked to lead 2nd field, which is not something I usually do, but I was happy to oblige (although deep down, a little nervous).  There's a bit more responsibility that goes along with leading a field vs riding in one! 

2nd Field
All was going quite well until about 1/2 way through the hunt.  The warm weather had brought the yellow jackets (aka ground bees) out in droves and we had run into them several times already, knowing that we would have to double back at some point and cross their nests again was a bit disconcerting!

So, at one of the known ground bee nests, first field took off at a good clip.  I held my field back just a few seconds so that if 1st field slowed down, my field would have time to clear the bees.  Well that plan backfired.  By the time we reached the 4 way intersection in the trail, where 1st field should have been was a cloud of dust!

Ugh.  I went straight and by the time I had realized we were not following 1st field anymore, we were already back across the river. 

I'm trying to think of where they could have gone when it dawns on me that they're at stirrup cup!.......which is at least 2 miles (ok, I might be exaggerating) in the opposite direction.  Grumble.

So, off we went at a smart trot in (what I hoped) was the direction of the Goss's farm where stirrup cup is held.  We got there, in a round about sort of way, thank goodness!

Phew!  After that, bees or no bees, I was not letting 1st field out of my sight. :)

Here are some more shots of last Wednesday's hunt.
Playful hounds at the beginning of the hunt

Beginning the hunt

Standing at a check.  See the "fox"?

At another check

Moving off from a check.

Daatje is thinking "why am I not up with them???"

Hilltop field!

Hounds at the pond, cooling off

2nd field at the pond

Check at the cemetery




From the cemetery check, a pair of working drafts could be seen in the distance.


Not all of the hunt horses were ok with this set up. :)  Daatje doesn't mind horses in harness.

Fall in New England is a beautiful sight.

Heading down to cross the river.

Daatje's view.  (just after I took this shot, the appy ran right over yet another nest of ground bees!)

Off to the pond for a dip after another awesome day of hunting!