Monday, October 7, 2019

First Time For Everything

It took five years but it finally happened...I had my first real "oops, rider overboard" fall off of Quest. We're both fine and but it was like ugh whyyyy, especially given how it happened but I guess it was about time. I was probably way overdue for a first riding fall lol

Fellow trail rider J had texted me earlier in the week about doing a long group trail ride out to the deli and I immediately signed on. Quest and I ride alone so much that more exposure to riding in a group is always welcome- any opportunity to train the marebrain is a resounding yes in my book. W and I organized a large group of our friends (it ended up being about 20 people!) to go apple picking later in the afternoon though so I gave J a heads up that I'd be keeping a strict eye on the time and Quest and I would turn around for home solo when we needed to.

W came out to the barn with me and was kind enough to help continue working on the trailer while I got to enjoy riding my horse in daylight. I gave him instructions on what to do for the day, a thank you kiss in appreciation, and trundled off across the farm to fetch my horse from her pasture and tack up.

The farrier had come out the day before so thankfully I was working with a very fresh trim when putting on the boots. The front shoes were nice for their ease of use and Quest does okay in them but I could tell she was never 100% happy in them as she was in boots. So off the shoes came and we're back to barefoot all around.

During my trip to CA, I learned from the endurance rider I rode with to use duct tape to reinforce the velcro straps that die out way faster than the boot treads themselves. Using the tape, the Gloves stayed on perfectly for our entire w/t/c ride over all the diverse terrain we have here.

After tacking up, we met up with our trail ride group. We have ridden out with J and her little POA mare Lucy a few times and our girls get along very well. Unfortunately Quest had issue with K and her gelding, a sturdy chestnut mustang named Tonka. K was kind enough to give us room when I mentioned that Quest had angry marefaces at her horse whenever Tonka drifted too close. We  made sure to keep them apart and everyone did fine after that.

We set off at a good walking pace with Lucy and Quest trading the lead. In previous group outings, I noticed that Quest has a tendency to tune me out and go with whatever the other horses are doing which is not always a good thing. So this ride I made a point to not fall asleep at the wheel and to keep mareface actively engaged and checked in with me by having her move her feet exactly where I wanted her to go.

Things were going really well and we were making excellent time on the trail trotting areas where we could and walking where the footing got too gnarly to move out. Lucy took the lead on the single track areas and Quest was definitely game to move out but still listened to me politely. As much as I would have loved to continue on with the ride, the time was drawing closer for Quest and me to turn back for home.

Being familiar with the area, I knew that the route would open up to the roadway after the last section of trail we were on and the plan was for us to use the trail split as the turn around point. Just one more section and we would part ways for home.

It had been awhile since Quest and I had done a long ride so there were a ton of new obstacles along the trail such as downed trees and brush all which we navigated successfully earlier in the ride and have done so before. So when we came across yet another fallen tree, it should have been no big deal. The trunk was quite wide but it was traverse-able. J and Lucy, who both love to jump, cleared it with no problems. Quest and I do not regularly jump nor did I have any desire to attempt any heroics on the trail so I had Quest to settle into a calm walk to quietly step over it.

Instead she paused and with a massive lurch, heaved herself bodily over the trunk.

We made it over, but I was completely taken by surprise and ate dirt, landing on my side and back. I somehow manged to hold onto the reins though. To her credit, Quest immediately stopped and stood still, waiting for me to get back to my feet. Quick check: Quest was fine, I was fine- thankfully I had landed in the dirt and leaves next to the trail, somehow avoiding the rocks, and nothing was out of place.

After reassuring J and K that I was okay, I mounted back up and we headed down the trail together for a moment until I realized that we had to double back for my FitBit which had fallen off. After recovering it exactly where we thought it had landed, it was definitely time for Quest and me to head home to the barn. K offered to ride with me to make sure I got back okay but I thanked her and sent them off, not wanting to ruin their ride plans that day.

To my immense surprise, Quest didn't scream or worry a single moment on our solo ride back home, if anything she relaxed more and was completely compliant to every request I made. We walked, we trotted, we cantered in beautiful autumn weather- enjoying our time together.

Stopped by the trailer to say hi to W and told him what happened.
Poor husband got so concerned...I felt bad for worrying him ):

The trailer is coming along nicely though.
Quest seems to approve too, happy with her snack break.

Despite the tumble, I was thankful that I wasn't badly hurt and Quest was no worse for the wear. I was pretty sore later that evening and the day afterwards but that's pretty much the extent of it. One of my friends is a PA and she regularly asks me how Quest is doing, I saw her the day afterwards while grabbing a group lunch together and she reassured my husband (who was still fretting) that I was fine/she would have had no idea what had happened if I had not finally told her.

Things happen, sometimes all we can do is get right back into the saddle and ride on.

Monday, September 30, 2019

A (Surprise) Weekend at LCGT

What started off as a simple family day trip ended up being a completely unplanned visit to the Longines Global World Tour to watch world-class show jumpers up close and personal.

Front row seats for all the excitement! 

W and I had been planning to treat my parents to a fun day trip in NYC as part of our thank you to them for helping us out with the wedding. Despite living so close to the city, my parents dislike the crowd hustle and bustle so they haven't ventured across the river for quite a number of years.

After thinking over several options that would be suitable and enjoyable for my parents, we decided to do a day-trip and picnic lunch at the scenic Governor's Island. This was a date location when W and I first got together and I loved the "mini getaway" feel it had since the island is only accessible by ferry.

We left the house early and swung by to pick up my parents to drive to the train station. All was well for the most part though we had to take an unexpected extra ferry ride from NJ to NY due to a train station being closed for construction work (thanks Hurricane Sandy) but everyone took it in stride without complaints. While on the ferry ride over to Governor's Island, I noticed a girl and her dad all outfitted equestrian paraphernalia and pointed them out to W. Of course that should have been clue #1 that something horse-related was going on haha

The day was absolutely gorgeous and the crowds were light since we got there early. After enjoying a big picnic lunch, we got a 4-person surrey rental and tandem biked our way around the entire island enjoying nearly 360 degree views of city skyline.

Smiles for everyone! We all had a great time trying something new. 

Seeing all the wide spacious paved pathways, my dad joked that they should offer horse carriage rides and trail riding. I laughed, "It'd be quite something to transport all those horses by ferry."

Imagine my utter surprise when we turned a corner and suddenly arrived in a sea of tents, event fencing and horses everywhere. Before I could even open my mouth, W turned to look at me and said, "You want to see the horses." He knows me too well haha

We dropped off our surrey when our rental time was up and walked back to see a full blown top-level international show jumping competition complete with vendors and tent tailgating. It was really quite amazing to see how baseball fields had been so thoroughly converted into a temporary stadium.

All the jumps were NYC-themed, it was FANTASTIC.

A decent number of vendors too.

Ponies for the kids to pet!

Apparently this year was the first time NYC was incorporated into the Longines Global Champions Tour show circuit and it was pure luck that our trip to the island coincided perfectly with the event being held that weekend. W was totally floored since he had specifically looked at the calendar to check for special events and didn't see any mention of the event on the agenda. 

It was the first time all of us got to see a show jumping event in person as well and my parents were happy to partake in the sights and sounds. 

My mom watching a rider taking her horse to the warm-up ring behind the stadium. 

No horse outing is complete without some free swag!
I'm curious to try that rub rag on Quest but the effort may be wasted since pasture lol  

Despite the transportation hiccups, it was really quite a great day and I had a wonderful time with my family. Seeing how my parents were excited about being at a horse show was good to see as well. They weren't fans of me learning how to ride at first and eventually reluctantly realized that my horse thing was not an random whim. They have slowly come to care about Quest as much as I do (my dad supplies the mareface with 75% of her apples lol) and just seeing them curious and interested was an encouragement!

Thursday, September 19, 2019


The road to achieving any dream worth having is never easy.

With things finally settling down into an even-ish keel and routine, I have been brainstorming how to tackle distance goals with Quest. W has been entirely supportive of me riding, hauling out, doing events so no worries on that front.....but we also needed to be mindful not to break our budget especially since we got something called bills to pay. Yay for married adult life and homeownership.

First order of business is fixing up the old stock trailer and ensuring it was roadworthy and horse-safe. It was a little junky when I first got it which sort of put me off from immediately hauling out but it was still fine for stationary stuff like self-loading practice. Two years later, the trailer is now in desperate need of a facelift so W and I have been spending time during the weekends at the barn working on sanding out the trouble rust spots, treating them, and painting. It's coming along decently and though looks a bit redneck in some places, it will be thoroughly protected from the elements with a fresh coat of paint and may last us just a bit longer until I can save up for something newer and better.

I searched around for trailer shops to get quotes and timeline for scheduling an appointment and found a place that wasn't too far away which is good (low mileage = lower truck rental cost). The technician I spoke with was very professional and courteous however they have a 2 to 4 WEEK backlog queue. Ugh.

I put myself on the list for the time being but this definitely threw a huge wrench in plans to haul out this month or anytime soon and unfortunately, we're back to square one....No trailer, no hauling. It's frustrating being grounded like this but as we have done for the past 5 years, we will make the best of the situation no matter what.

That face <3

Quest and I have been enjoying our evening rides together. We hit the trails first to enjoy some of the quickly fading sunlight then headed in to the indoor arena for some sustained trotting/cantering and dusted off the cobwebs for basic dressage stuff. Mareface was definitely a bit rusty in the latter (and so was I) but we ended on a good note.

I admit I was definitely a bit distracted during the arena ride- my mind was busy trying to think of what options were left to try. Despite the setbacks, I haven't given up quite yet but it's been hard staying positive.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Days Like These

Fall is definitely in the air, oh boy. The cooler weather has made it easy and so very enjoyable to get in some good riding at the barn the past couple weeks.

Laughing at Quest side-eyeing while we trotted past W. Oh mareface lol

W was even able to join us for a few rides. We have been busy the past few evenings putting together our official honeymoon adventure and as with most vacations we've done together in the past, we will be doing a couple horse treks on this one as well! W wanted to be more familiar around horses and more comfortable riding so I was more than happy to oblige.

Quest has been so infinitely patient with W as he has been learning the ropes in the indoor arena. She definitely motors when we hit the trails beforehand but knew to chill out when we arrived at the indoor for lesson work. Such a good girl.

As mareface has gotten more fit with the slow long trail miles, I started to notice that Thorowgood was not fitting her as well so I switched over to using my treeless saddle this past weekend. It's been more than a year since I last pulled it out and oh my goodness... I missed riding in this saddle SO much.

Quest got lots of compliments for how nice she is looking- I wholeheartedly agree! 

I normally use my nice Skito pad with it but the pad would get dirty so quickly and it was such a pain to deep clean that the real issue soon became the mental deterrence to use it for day-to-day riding.

While wracking my brain for saddle pad options, I suddenly remembered the Supracor Cool Grip pad that I had snagged used a couple years ago. It was another one of my random FB endurance tack finds and the price was an absolute STEAL compared to what it would have cost new at full price. I had intended to use it with the Thorowgood but Quest and I moved to OF when our endurance plans got sidelined and it sat in storage until now.

I have never tried a synthetic pad on Quest so I was careful to keep an eye on how she felt while tacking up in the pasture. She yawned and dozed on uneventfully. The saddle and pad fit together perfectly (to my relief) so I swung up and we hit the trails. Quest moved along happily and had a ton of pep in her step the entire time- sometimes too much. The cooler weather definitely has a lot of people coming out of the woodwork to enjoy the reservoir and Quest was feeling very fresh with the increased commotion. We had some jigging moments but nothing we couldn't recover from and move on.

The sweat marks after I pulled the saddle were actually nearly perfect, balanced, and her spine was dry. I think we found a good setup for now!

We pretend to be fancy sometimes.

 As for other news,  the mareface is unfortunately alone in her pasture...again.

W and I arrived at the barn two weekends ago and we saw H out hand grazing Penny. I said a cheerful hello and we went up to the pasture to find my horse and tack up. After a lovely trail and arena ride, we came back to an oddly empty tack shed and pasture. Quest called and called for her pasture mate and I was baffled since I had just saw H a couple hours ago. I then assumed they had probably hauled out for trail ride or event and didn't think much of it afterwards.

While catching up on FB that evening though, I saw a chipper and happy post from H- apparently she moved Penny to the lower pasture stalls and spent "a long day" at the barn checking that her horse was adjusting to the change well.

Now I have zero problems with folks moving their horses to different pastures or farms- you gotta do what is best for your horse obviously- but how it happened was a little strange. I was mostly irritated at the fact that she gave me zero warning that it was happening...Especially when we had just seen each other at the barn that morning. A quick heads up would have been sufficient so I could have likewise monitored how Quest adjusted to the change at the very least.

Ironically me and H  have run into each other several times at the barn since then. Most of the time she has her hands full handling Penny frantically calling for Quest and dancing at the end of a lead line so we haven't spoken in person about it all but eh, it is what it is. We move on. Plus Quest has adjusted to the change already which is super impressive and all good for her mental training, especially if we are going to do those camping trips I have planned!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

New Shiny (Purple) Things

After doing this horse thing for nearly six years, I have been slowly accumulating a list of items that needed replacing pretty badly after nearly daily/weekly use and abuse. 

Unfortunately most of the tack stores around me are a solid 40-50 minutes away so it was always a little hard to justify a store run for just one or two items at a time. I could always order online but IMO things like clothes, boots, and helmets are better off being tried on in least that's the kind of shopper I generally am.

This past weekend, W and I went on a mini getaway to Philadelphia PA to visit some close friends who recently moved to the area and we were fortunately able to swing by for a tack store stop on our drive down.

First things first, I made sure to pick up some Venice turpentine. I debated between that and Durasole for awhile but after talking with the store staff, I decided to go with the former just to start. In addition to building sole, Durasole has a whole slew of medicated stuff that treats hoof problems that Quest does not (and hopefully won't ever) have so I opted to start with simple solutions first. 

After a lot of hemming and hawing, I finally got a pair of Ariat Terrain boots for trail riding. My paddock boots from my riding lesson days have seen a ton of miles on the trail and hours in the saddle. Six years later, they are finally beginning to show signs of wear and desperately needed a hardy backup. The Terrains were very comfortable when I tried them out and walked around in the store and so I'm excited to see how they fare out on the trail later this week. 

I also picked up a new is PURPLE and I love it. I actually first asked for graphite black to replace my current one but they didn't have that color in my size but they had it in purple.

I was the tiniest bit hesitant that it was actually too much color but hey, you only live once so purple helmet it was. I trail ride 99.9% of the time and don't do any fancy show riding to merit sticking to plain grey black again and plus more safety precautions- you seriously can't miss this purple helmet bopping around on the trails and roadway. 

I also picked up a new turnout sheet for Quest to backup the current one she has now that I have on my to-do list to repair. Fortunately for me, mareface has been generally pretty good with her clothes that I haven't had to do massive blanket repairs until now. I already got the supplies to patch up the old sheet but figured it was probably time to get her a new one just in case. Quest's size was on backorder though so it'll be shipped to us in a few days time. 

I do usually make a point to buy sheets/blankets used but the store was doing a blowout sale on select sheets and blankets and also a store-wide holiday promotional deal. I was able to take advantage of that and got a nice gift card which I'm planning to to use to pick up a pair of riding pants because my old one is literally in tatters and threadbare after six years. I figure for the sake of my dignity (and saving W from spousal embarrassment) that I get something that won't split down the middle at any point while I ride. 

Last but not least, I managed to snag a like-new Stowaway pommel pack for super cheap though the endurance tack sale group on FB. 

I picked up the English cantle pack a few years ago at a tack sale and absolutely love it. Since then I have been keeping an eye out for the matching pommel pack- most of them were too expensive for their age and condition. I stumbled on this one last week at a steal and had to snatch it up.

Even if it was for essential must-haves, it was really nice doing some retail therapy. I usually have a hard time buying stuff for myself too so it was really good that W was entirely supportive of me getting everything I wanted and reassuring me that it was also everything I needed.