Oberon is for sale!

Well its official, we listed Oberon a week ago and have crossed our fingers and toes that he sells sooner rather then later. Our decision of course, was helped along by the arrival of Gracie. Oberon is a higher maintenance horse than Robert or I really want at this point in our lives, and he will hopefully be going out to another home.

Selling a horse scares me. Writing an ad is challenging. You want to truthfully represent the horse, but you don’t want to use vocabulary that will amount to fear-mongering. You want people to be impressed by his accomplishments or look, but also be willing to pay his price. I listed Oberon on the higher side of what I think he might be currently worth. But did I assess his value correctly? I don’t know. I might have overestimated based on his tricky little problem with the hind end. I may have underestimated based on his fancy (?) breeding.

Then once you write the ad… there is the showing. I am not capable of showing Oberon to the best of his abilities. (I’m still trying to figure out this outside rein thing) And he is not in work. Maggie stepped up to help me out on Saturday, and got some lovely pictures. Unfortunately the first visitor was looking for a different horse, but I keep crossing fingers and toes. And the sooner the better, feed costs dollars.

In any case, I hope for a speedy sale and limited stress. He looks a little funny in the hind end, which is certainly complicating his sale. He was definitely sound on the day I tried him, but he did show some changed gait in deeper sand when he was at the previous previous farm. I don’t think he injured himself in any specific way since I have owned him, but again. No way to know. I guess this is the crux of the issue. Do I waste my money determining if he is permanently lame, or hope for the best and let the buyer make the decisions. So many questions.


Jellybean, Oberon, and now Gracie

Sorry that it has been a while since the comic relief stepped in to reward you for your diligent following of our blog!

Since I have been away from the keyboard things have become interesting around the farm.  We are very dedicated to owning, caring for, and growing with our horses.  With this in mind I knew going into horse ownership was an investment with little to no return except the joy that these majestic animals bring in to our lives.  However,  I thought we would be content, at least in our current employment situation, with ONE horse each.  Amanda has a wonderful if slightly ill tempered quarter horse baby and I had my big old cleveland bay.   Imagine my surprise when we rather spontaneously acquired Gracie, a hanoverian cross.

I have learned to accept horse related purchases in stride and there really isn’t anything else to do so, here we go.

Let’s introduce the new girl to the “old” girl.  When we knew Gracie was coming home with us it was decided that she definitely need a stall. Since Gracie is a whopping 16.2 hands she needed to be on the “tall” side of the barn.  Guess who got evicted to make room?  Not the 16.3 hand Cleveland Bay…  we can’t have him squished into a tiny stall like a sardine… that is just undignified. However, the cute little 15.2 hand quarter horse mare would fit in that stall real nice.  So, Jellybean got the boot and the stall was cleaned and setup for the new girl in town, Gracie.

Upon her arrival I do not think Jellybean approved.  Gracie had taken her stall and now, she was eyeing her boyfriend Oberon.  There was and still is much pinning of ears, kicking of stall walls and, general resentment toward the new girl.

Gracie on the other hand, took it all in stride as if to say “yes, this is what I deserve. Best stall, best food, and best company.”

Oberon was upset at first too.  He was worried about a new horse, male or female, entering HIS herd. (Yes, I know it was and is Jellybean’s herd.  No gelding could ever stand up to her.)  We turned all three of them out and Oberon seemed very protective of Jellybean.  He would pin ears and lunge at Gracie then, chase her off.  No old man issues here, that is my girl.  Eventually he accepted her as a non-threat. (or maybe Gracie’s mare side came out and put him in his place.) and now with turn out they are a big happy family.

It makes me kind of sad that we can not afford to keep all three and the fact that Oberon will be leaving soon makes me feel guilty.  We will do our best to find him a great home where he can be someone’s awesome horse.  I know when he leaves us I will feel like an awful homewrecker for breaking up their little herd.   Ah well, life goes on.

On flipping horses

Every once in awhile I sit at my desk under the fluorescent lights and imagine myself at the barn working horses and teaching lessons all day long. I choose to forget about the mud and flies and mosquitoes (they hatched btw) and just think about the grass and arenas and the hard working horses. I imagine waking up early and feeding the ponies, doing a few chores, and picking my first victim for daily training. 

I would work three horses before lunch, lunging and/or riding. I imagine having a stable of green-ish horses. Maybe some cheap babies I picked up and a couple of retraining projects. Maybe even just horses with the temperament to be a lesson horse. After lunch I would do barn-manager things (especially in the summer), and then have a late afternoon training session before tucking everyone in for the night.

In this life I would be able to make a living training and flipping horses, hopefully to a wealthier clientele than the one from which I purchase the projects. Those of you who know anything about horses are laughing now, because this is a fantasy land. Lets talk about what’s really happening right now.

Gracie was cheap. She has a good temperament and seems sensible. As I continue along the path I think these qualities are the underdogs. Forget pretty and movement, if they aren’t sane they aren’t interesting to me. I think I’ve only ever really ridden one questionably sane horse, she went by Joni.

Joni was a roan of some sort [colors aren’t my strong suit]. She started out really nicely. She was very green, but she wasn’t especially reactive and she was sweet.

Then I went to Texas for the summer. Joni was leased out to a mom for her daughter to ride. They went out into the field (we were next door to a hunt club), and taught her how to refuse jumps. We didn’t realize this for awhile. When I came back I tried to pick up where I left off, but she wasn’t quite as willing to do anything. A few more bad experiences, including a crazy friend of a friend of the owner who flipped her over backwards, and she wasn’t quite the nice pony I was anticipating. But I persevered, and kept trying to ride her through her silliness. She had several really good days where we could go out trotting through the fields by ourselves, and then the next days she would throw a fit leaving the arena. 

This all built to a crescendo when my friends and I went on a short trail ride out to a huge field. We were trotting around the field in a staggered group after a long warm up. Joni was a bit flightly, but not unmanageable. So at the end of our ride, we trotted up a long slope in a group, with Joni leading. And boom. She bucked me wayyyyy up in the air and galloped home. Out of nowhere. She was fine, and then boom. The next day she was fine. And maybe I gave up too easy, and maybe she was crazy. Who knows. 

Anyways, that was quite an aside. So Gracie seems to be pretty sane. That’s definitely a tick in her box. Green is ok, crazy is not. Unfortunately she came with a flesh wound, which became infected after a few days. Enter the vet. So I bought this horse with the intention of reselling her [for a profit]. Time and money dependent folks. So now I have certainly increased the dollars I have spent on her, and I still don’t have a timeline for selling her or possibly Oberon. Whew. Where is that fantasy land again? Just a fierce reminder that horses eat money and release it as useless poop.

Part III: When I finally tell you about the horse show

Whew. Its taken longer than necessary to make it to this post. I had really good intentions of being prompt, and then LIFE. Another blog I read has mentioned scheduling posts for later, and maybe that should be my new strategy.

In any case, we planned to load up around 8 am and then drive down to the show, about 45 minutes away. Jeannette and I were fairly nervous about forgetting something, since we haven’t shown in quite some time. But the ponies were good and popped right onto the trailer and off we went. When we arrived at the facility, we were greeted by a hilltop wind, in addition to the already windy day at more conservative elevations. 

We unloaded the ponies and took them over to the scariest thing we saw, the flapping flag “fence” around the stadium arena. They were mostly unfazed, and seemed more interested in the trailers and horses everywhere. Once we got the ponies settled in at the trailer, we walked up to get our entry information and walk the course!

All of the jumps were inviting, although several jumps represented structures our horses never saw before. This was a little nerve wracking for me, since I remember a schooling session where Knots and I had a fight about a tire jump. As Maggie pointed out, that was a bit of an overface on our part, and he seemed unlikely to refuse any of these naturally colored wood jumps. Maggie gave us lots of suggestions for how to set our horses up for success, and reminded us this course is nothing scary at all.

We walked the course once and it started to rain, so then we took a port-a-pottie break and walked the course again, without the posse. Jeannette and I brainstormed some of the approaches we were going to take and noticed some holes in the ground we didn’t see earlier. After we finished walking it still wasn’t time to get ready so we spent some time watching some of the prelim horses jump around and generally looking at all the bay warmblood/tbs.

This was when some excitement popped up, when several horses seemed to dump their riders. Then everyone was screaming about loose horses and get the gate. Apparently the only way off the farm was through the front gate, which was promptly closed and the horse galloped around the [2-300 acre] property three times before it slowed down enough to be caught.

I like to think of this as a game horses like to play, tag… I’m faster than you :p

We got there super early so we could scope out the facility and competition [haha], and eventually it was time to get ready. Except now it was past lunch time. Disappointingly, they only had snacks for concessions. No burgers or hot dogs or other tasty unsavory food. The menfolk were displeased. 

During warm up, Maggie and I brainstormed how we were going to get Knots prepared for the competition. We thought he might be too tired going around the entire jump course, so we opted to not warm up a lot. We also got on entirely too early, and that didn’t help matters. I also decided while we were walking around I should work on bending and moving from the inside leg to outside rein. Are you counting the mistakes? 

Anyways, about 20 minutes before the dressage test we realized Knots was just getting more and more worked up, and decided to canter him around and blow off steam. I was also reminded that Knots has a small herd affinity. When I tried to pull him away from all the other warm up chaos, he threw his shoulders around and tried to drift back. Oops.

After a few canter laps, he was starting to calm down and I was trying to get my mind in the right place. If you’ve never heard me say it before, Knots is a head-game horse. He NEEDS a rider that isn’t worried. Because if you worry, he’s ready to roll out. At top speed. And hes quick for a little mutt. Anyway, then it was our turn in the dressage arena. We were doing Beginner Novice Test A:

You may notice a hiccup. Yep. That was us getting eliminated. So we finished out the test, completely skipping the canter circle, because I was trying to get my head in the game. 0 on that movement. But we still scored a 46.8, which I didn’t think was that bad all things considered. Knots is going to continue improving.

At this point, I figured I needed to man up for cross country and stop being nervous. I was worried that if he jumped out the dressage arena he was going to have run outs all over the place. One of the organizers came up to me and said I could do the jump round, but if I had one problem (ie stop or run out) I needed to walk back. Well ok. That certainly doesn’t add anymore stress 😉

So our team managed to change out Knot’s tack while I got a hold of myself and manned up for the jumping. Knots normally goes in a full cheek snaffle at home, and when I schooled him over some new jumps the other day he got very feisty and I could barely stop him. As you might imagine we were trying out a kimberwick for the show. 

We warmed up over some logs while I continued working on my nerves. And then it was time to lurk around the box. While lurking, we were intrigued by a situation happening on the XC. A girl fell off between jumps somehow, and then got back on and tried to finish the round (btw, the last xc jump came into the stadium arena where there were more jumps). When she entered the stadium she was shouting at her horse, basically carrying on a conversation about the fences as they jumped each one. This was odd, but not unheard of in a schooling show, so I tried to refocus. Until she came over. She was talking to Maggie, and we were looking at her strange tack. She had a roping tie-down around the horse’s nose. It was detached, luckily, because it is illegal, but she then started complaining that her horse’s head was up in the air and he couldn’t see the jumps.

So lets recap. If your horse thinks he a giraffe, you should put a western tie down on to enter a schooling horse trial. Yep. 

Anyways, I eventually made it to the box, and they reminded me that if I had one problem I needed to walk back. And so I trotted out of the box and onto the course. We jumped the first log and went to the second, he cantered out and I trotted him about five strides out over the second jump and then we continued this pattern for the next jump. 

Jump #3, We had a good feeling
The scary jump #4! I was so happy we jumped this!
Almost done, and feeling more confident!
And refusing the first stadium jump 😉

And so the tale ends with our refusal, and we were forced to leave the course. Probably the only time you will ever have seen me pet a horse for refusing a crossrail 😉

Anyway, at the end of the day, I was very pleased with Knots, especially on cross country. We are working hard on our dressage, and I think he was very brave on the cross country. I completely checked out after the cross country because that was my concern. I didn’t ride him into the stadium course, and he decided he didn’t have to because I didn’t make him. Lessons learned and experience under belt.

This was also Knot’s first time off the farm since changing his life plan from drunken trail ride pony to eventer. I think he was expecting the trail riding, and he had no idea what else I could possible ask of him. So I think Have and Have Knots and I will certainly be at it again, as soon as the finances pick up 🙂