My new main squeeze

So, I'm in love. Yes, its true, I have fallen head over heels for a machine. This is a nicely painted hay squeeze. What does it do you ask? Well on the other side of this dafty machine it has forks that stick out to the side that can *hug* a stack of hay and pick it up. You know what else it can do? Put hay into the loft, push it back and all you have to do is pay someone.

This weekend we put our winter hay, all 15.8 tons in the loft and I didn't touch ONE lousy bale. We buy from a guy right down the road and his 'hay guy' Jesse (who I would marry tomorrow for the equipment he owns), brought the hay over in a bale wagon and put it up with the squeeze. It look hardly in any time. I paid basically an extra $20/ton and it was worth every freaking penny.

Bale Wagon picture courtesy of Lisa.


How to have Trail Obstacle Success

Trail Obstacle has always been one of my favorite classes in shows. Here are a few simple tips to bump up your scores and keep you in the ribbons.

1. Let your horse observe the object. Good trail horses look at things but continue without hesitation, your judge is looking for this.

2. Go slow. We often rush which can cause a horse be less precise. When backing through barrels or stepping over poles, slower is better. A good trail horse will go step by step rather than rushing through something difficult.

3. Mix it up. So your horse will walk over a blue tarp, but how about a black one? An orange one, or a camouflage one? What about with poles on top? Your horse can handle a flag, but can you pick one up? Think outside the box and the more things your horse can get comfortable trying, the easier strange things will be on the trail or in competition.

4. A partial attempt is better than a failed attempt. So let's say you have to side pass over a pole, but your horse is having none of it. So instead, step in front of the pole and ask your horse to side pass in front of it. You can earn points for this and it gets your horse focused on something they can be successful with.

5. Don't be afraid to pass. If your horse is getting worked up on an obstacle, don't be afraid to pass it BEFORE the judge asks you to move on. There are a couple of reasons: first, it shows the judge you know your horses' limits, second, it can prevent them from getting worked up which may make other obstacles more difficult.

6. Don't be afraid to explore the obstacle. If you have to back your horse through poles and he refuses, why don't you walk him 7/8 of the way through the poles, stop him and ask him to back. If I was working on this at home, I would ask my horse to do that, I may even get points for it rather than a zero for getting nothing.

7. Line your horse up properly. For poles, backing, mailboxes, gates, learning to line up your horse is *key* to being successful. It is important to be able to move your horse right, left, back, forward, up down with your leg aides because on a trail obstacle course, you are often using your hands for other things!

8. BREATHE. Don't forget to relax as if you were on the trail and hanging out with friends. If you are not enjoying yourself, your horse won't either!

9. Don't do the speed events until you really know what you are doing-like this guy!

I'll be the judge of that

And I was! Well, almost. This weekend, I was an apprentice judge for the first time with Mimi Busk-Downey as the presiding judge at the Northwest Pleasure Tennesse Walking Horse Association Show in Albany, OR. It was a FOSH sanctioned show, which means that it was under FOSH rules and we have Tennesse Walkers, Foxtrotters, Peruvians, Paso Finos and Mountain Horses. There were some amazing horses, some not so amazing horses and I learned SO MUCH. I'll have to give everyone some tips for the future about how to edge out the competition, some of it is SO simple!


Goodbye Zapa

On Friday, I said goodbye to my little Zapa. From before he was conceived to this very moment, I have adored him (or the thought of him). He will be 5 in July so it has been a six year journey of love and learning. He was the first horse I ever saw gelded, my first (and only) after hours vet call, my first baby to work with, my first horse to start, my first of many many experiences. He is sweet, willing, trusting and a very nice horse. I am proud of him and proud of myself for the work I did with him.

He has a great home with his new owner M. Who has been coming to ride him for almost 6 months. I know they will take great care of each other as they both grow up. I have dreams of coming to watch her compete on her HS Equestrian Team, showing them that a Paso Fino can do it just as well.

I would like to thank everyone that helped me raise this boy, Gina Odermott of Heavenly Ranch in Banks, OR (where we boarded for two years), Bruce and Betty Reed in Colton, OR who bred and kept him for me until he was 9 months old PLUS help with trail training, Amber L. who did some great riding of him and rode him in his first show and Christabeth Voss who started him under saddle, Pam Radway of R-Way Farm (another boarding facility) and Gina Gardner and Julie Fisher who gave me great lessons along the way. It really does take a village.

Good Luck Zapa and M. I know you guys are a great match and I (and the world) can't wait to hear about your journey.