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

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. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The All New England Hunt's Joint Meet - 17 miles of pure awesome

One of the photographers that was at the Joint Meet last Saturday also happens to be a memeber of my hunt club and generously shares the photos he takes with the hunt community. :)  Below are some of lovely photos he took of Daatje and I as well as a few others showing the gorgeous territory and the Myopia hounds. :)  The rest can be seen on his website, A Hores and His Boy.  The day could not have been more perfect, and Daatje, a week back on Vitamin E supplementation (more on that later), was back on her game.
Getting ready to head out

The Myopia hounds and huntsman at the Biolabs

Crossing the bridge at the Biolabs

Daatje and her BFF Dillon at the Biolabs

Road trot!

Down the drop into Scott's Field

Making funny faces at a check.  Here the huntsman switched to a fresh horse......knew we were in for a long hunt then!

Hack down the dirt road towards Groton House Farm

Galloping through Appleton Farms

A beautiful view of the hunt through Appleton Farms

Coming home.

Hacking back to the trailers after the hunts end.  (The bay is Joshua, he's 18 hands or so!)
Such a great time had by all.  Definitely the highlight of the hunting season in New England. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Big Cart, Little Cart

I took this photo while doing chores this morning.  Just had to share.  Daatje's cart looks so big next to Rainbow's cart!  It's killing me that I'm to busy right now to jump right into starting her back up.  Things are so hectic, getting the place ready for winter.  I have precious little time between work, half marathon training and Saturday foxhunting.  The snow is not far from flying and I haven't even tuned up my snow blower yet!  Heck, I haven't even finished mowing the lawn for the last time yet!  I'll do that job on Saturday after the hunt in Milton Mills, NH. 

Here's my crazy list - to be done hopefully before the snow flies! 

Mow lawn, put up the tractor for winter, break out the snow blower, give it an oil change, put away all things non-freezable, clean out my bird houses, dig up the Dahlia bulbs, neaten up the Iris beds, attend the Equine Affaire, run run and run some more, attend the Hunt Ball, finish stacking the wood pile, clean the barn out for the winter, buy 10 bundles of hardwood flooring and find a place in the house to store said flooring.  Oh man.  Who has time to work a job?

Big Cart, Little Cart. :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

One Crazy Weekend!

What a weekend!  I won't say never, but it's been a long time since I've been this tired and sore.  The Joint Meet was absolutely amazing.  Tons of pro photos, but I haven't bought any yet.  Here's a proof of one of my faves. :)  This will be going on my living room wall for certain!  8x10 metallic print, here we come!
Here's a still from a video my friend took with her Go-pro.  All four off the ground and I believe I'm taking pictures. :P
Appleton Farms, Hamilton, MA
Daatje was a trooper.  I was in the saddle from 12:30pm until 3:45pm and we covered 17.1 miles.  Holy foxhunt!  Thankfully I had some Banamine left from her cellulitis back in June, so she got a dose for any soreness that may have set in over night.  I think she slept all day on Sunday!

I had a busy day Sunday.  Ran 10 miles (ouch, after riding for over 3 hours on Saturday, this was tough!) and then went to go look at that easy entry cart. 

The cart was absolutely perfect.  The shafts at level were the right height, width and length for a horse of Daatje's size.  It's easy entry so will be great for quick dismount if needed.  I'm so thrilled!  As a bonus, the price included a very nice and barely used beta harness, also in horse size.  The harness is not as fancy as I would have purchased, but it will be a great training rig.  The cart was purchased used by the seller 7 years ago and the drove in it only a handful of times.  The harness they purchased new when they bought the cart and again only used the set up a few times.  (didn't get into driving like they thought they would).  I paid $800 for the cart *and* the harness!!!  New the cart would cost me $1800 shipped and the Harness would easily be $650.  I am so stoked to get back into driving with Daatje.
Oops, look what I just did! :D
It's been 9 years since we've done any work in the lines.  When we left off, Daatje had just been put-to a vehicle for the first time.  It all went well, but I'm not assuming anything and will start back up from the very beginning.  We may not spend much time visiting the basics, but I want to be sure that she is solid and remembers and is a-ok with each step before moving on to the next.  We'll first work in the lines and then get her pulling a drag.  After that I'll put her between some simulated shafts.  When we can combine the simulated shafts with pulling the drag and all is going well, then I will re-introduce her to the cart.  Will probably take until next summer, but that's ok! :D

Of course, bringing the cart home and cleaning the barn out to make a place for it cut into my wood stacking time.  I only got 1/2 of this pile put up before the sun went down.

So last weekend I rode 17 miles, ran 10, bought a cart and harness, cleaned the barn and stacked 1/2 cord of wood.  I need a nap!

I'll get better pics of the cart and harness over the Thanksgiving holiday, I'm sure.  It's so neat to see the big cart side by side with Rainbow's little cart.  :D  Can't wait to post more of our driving adventures!