Friday, January 23, 2009

Brego Wins!

Brego wins without leaving the farm. I entered our recognized event video (link goes to the hi rez version) in a draft horse "contest" on you tube. And let's see, Brego got "Nicest Conformation For a Full-Blooded Draft" and Fifth (or, um, last) in the Eventing category.

I was happy to see Klein scoring the first place slot in (tee hee hee) the Hunter Division.

That is some nice conformation on that boy.

Anyway, I think it's cute and fun for people to celebrate the diversity and sport-acular nature of the drafties, so although we did not TOTALLY DOMINATE draft-horse eventing, I am sure we will next year. Or something.

What's that? It's the weekend? You don't say-joring...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Skiing FAIL

January Appreciation

January can be cruel, and this one is particularly cold and snowy. And yet, my eyes have never seen such beauty. I tried to capture some winter scenes but the limit of the camera does not do this January justice. The beauty is overwhelming and surrounds you, everywhere you look.

Most people only see snow in the city, dirty and dangerous, piled high in their shopping mall parking lots. Gross and unwanted. But on this farm, the snow stays soft white. It adds so much brightness to this world. Snow is not a bane here (not like ice, anyway), and it is welcomed to wash the slate clean and once again bathe the earth in wondrous perfection.

Snow surrounds the water trough. The spring is still running.

Barn roof. It will be replaced in the Spring, but does a great job now.

Last year's raspberries fight on in the pasture.

The chicken coop and residents.

Heavy trees.

A clear day in the pasture.

Evidence of snow play.


A nuzzled nose.

Tree avalanche.

My backyard. I am the luckiest person alive.

Ok, readers, show me your January appreciation.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Skijoring Practice

It's been snowing heavily all day, but that doesn't stop us intrepid adventurers from practice skijoring! We're still in the process of finding some cheap skis off of craigslist, so the most we can do is tow rope work.

Moose sighting!

Post roll in the snow.

I pulled Brego out of the pasture. Even though it is snowing, it's a relatively warm 18 degrees F (-7.8 C). After the last few days of -10 F (-23 C), this feels like a heat wave. The horses were happy to ditch the blankets and hoods, if only for a few hours. We went for a short trail ride and then got down to business.

Um, yea, it's snowing.

Big trot through deep snow.

The practice went well. First I worked one some speed sprints in the snow. It's not as packed as I would like, but Brego beat a trail down pretty fast. Then I worked with the rope. I sacked him out from the saddle and he did very well. I then dragged the rope with it in front of him as he walked backwards, so he could watch it. He didn't seem to care, so we went for a stroll dragging the rope. He looked at it like a good boy, but didn't flinch.

More trot work in the snow

Working on my sliding stop after a gallop up the road.

Sacking out.

What a brave boy! Dragging the rope for the first time!

After a bit of that, the SO grabbed the end of the rope and walked behind. He seemed to like that even more, like he understood the notion of a human at the end of a long rope (e.g., longing). Finally, I dragged the rope at a slow trot. He was so good we quit with that.

So there ya go, once again the horse calls me a liar and comes out a star. The next step is to get some skis and ski around the pasture so he can watch. I don't think he's ever seen a human on skis and that might rock his world. Baby steps, but I am excited with the progress.

But first, this afternoon, we're hitting the slopes. I am going to rent skis and make a fool of myself, but it's all in the name of skijoring practice!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


We headed over to Rochester today to spectate at a Skijoring clinic hosted by the NESJA. Let me just tell you, I have found my winter sport. Hella fun, y'all. The season starts next week and goes through March. I don't think we'll be ready to compete this year, but I intend to make it a 2010 goal.

I will ride Brego and the SO will ski behind. It's a win, win. I don't have to ski (which I am rubbish at) and Brego gets conditioning speed work. Plus, it gives me an excuse to ride out more and play in, and pray for, snow.

Of course, there's one little hitch in the plan. Brego hates, HATES, H-A-T-E-S things dragging behind him. Remnants of his disastrous and short-lived driving career. So it very well might take me to 2010 to get him comfortable with the whole idea. But I think once he gets it, he will love it. He's definitely a sprinter, not a marathon runner and the average track length is 1000'. Woot!!

When I got home, I got out our 30' tow rope and worked with him from the ground. I sacked him out with the rope (he didn't care). I then threw the majority of the rope across his back and pulled it back to me so he could see and feel it moving on his off side. I then repeated for both sides. Finally, I threw it across his back and while holding it and his lead rope (with gloves!), I walked him so he could drag it and feel the slight pull against his back. I turned him both ways so he could feel it across his hocks and watch the end moving across the ground. He did amazing well for him. He looked at it and I let him smell it and pick it up in his mouth. I generally tried to discourage his mouthiness, but if he wants to bond with the tow rope by chewing on it, so be it.

Tomorrow, I am going to go for a trail ride (to get him tired) and then try dragging the rope while under saddle. That will be the major fireworks, I believe. He will walk through fire if I am at his head talking sweetly to him. When I am in the saddle, his bravery wavers. This will be a good experience for him.

I will be able to use my eventing saddle, rigged with a continuous nylon strap which wraps around the front of the saddle, under the flaps, and joins a breakaway loop at the back of the cantle. The tow rope then attaches to the breakaway loop via a carabiner.

In other news, I bought a winter helmet. It's for snowboarding, but it feels more solid than my craptacular Tipperary and it covers my ears. That's a high speed, high impact sport, so it's probably more protective than riding-specific headgear. I also got sexy matching goggles for when we're going so fast Skijoring!!! I imagine I can wear it a good 4 months of the year, for all my winter sports.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More Eye Candy

Here are a few more pictures from our ride today. Nothing special, about 60 minutes, walking through 2' of snow. I rode Brego out on his loose ring snaffle and he was perfect. He really is a "save my butt" kind of trail horse. I trust him.

View of the glacial boulder. Standing about 20' away.

Better view. The top is at mid height in this picture.

The water trough is the little black hole in the sea of snow. The spring is still running though and no external heater required. Yet.

All Is Well

I've gotten more than a few concerned emails about the Big Brego. He is doing well, we're just not riding very much. I have finally settled into the slow, peaceful rhythm of deep winter. I have no drive to ride or compete, just enjoy the tremendous beauty. Somedays, it is so beautiful that I don't want to go inside. I walk around in the snow and quietly take it all in. There's so much life, even in winter. The hardy wild birds flit about, the squirrels are still squabbling, and fresh deer tracks cross old snow.

I posted more photos on my other blog, but they are mainly of the property and not so much of a very handsome Percheron.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Snow Rides

The holidays are behind us and it's now time to buckle down, get through winter, and plan for spring. Brego has been enjoying his daily turnout in the snow, cantering and playing with the old mare. I swear he prefers to canter around the pasture instead of trot. He's even schooled himself over logs and a nice bank, up and down. I think training him in eventing has given him the confidence to move at speed over this crazy terrain.

I haven't been riding as much as planned because of all the holiday rush. My mom did fly in from Virginia and, for the first time in my life, asked to ride. Brego packed her out to see the giant boulder sitting in the middle of the woods. Most likely deposited by a glacier, this rock is about 15 feet high and very impressive.

Then today we went for a two hour trail ride through the back woods. Brego did very well in the ice and snow and was able to cross the frozen brooks on his giant swamp feet and not break the ice. My poor Thoroughbred, with her tiny feet and zero survival instinct, was not so lucky. Brego did well and it was nice to ride him on the buckle after watching him literally explode around his pasture. High today was warm in the mid 20s. I finally found a temperature where I would not ride: 4 F above zero. If it burns my lungs to breath while tacking up, there is no way I am going to ask Brego to work. In those cases, it's not worth the money to rent the indoor across the street just to walk around, so I miss out on a ride. If it's that cold (and not windy) during the weekend, I can at least hack in the woods for free.

In other eventing news, Kingsbury Hill, the location where we rode our first recognized event, is not hosting any events this year due to finances. I am totally bummed about this because it was the closest event and we obviously do well there. Now, aside from UNH, all the closest events are two to three hours away. Feels like Texas... :( I am going to have to do some serious thinking about which to enter because I have limited time off work, very limited money, and would really like to qualify for the AECs so I need to do well. I don't want to blow a $500 entry fee and come in last and then have to spend more money to try again.

Sorry for the randomness of this post... it's a little reminiscent of how my riding has been going. :) I hope to add more structure soon.