Friday, December 28, 2007

Dec. 28 - Jan. 5

I'll be away for the next week on a family (+boyfriend) vacation. When I get back, look forward to many new posts and pictures of my new horse, Zeke, because he'll finally be up here in MA.

Happy New Year!
Talk to you soon,

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

Hopefully everyone had a very merry Christmas. My Christmas was fantastic. I spent time with my family and got amazing, thoughtful presents. Getting a horse (along with several other fabulous gifts including a new GPA Speed Air and a GPS system for my car) really made me realize how lucky (and spoiled) I am. I am so grateful for my parents and appreciate all their support. We didn't always get along (yes, I was a typical teenager that thought her parents were out to make her life miserable) but, I have to say, since I've been at college my relationship with my parents has been pretty wonderful. And it's getting better every year. My mom is my best friend and my Dad is my greatest support system. Feeling stressed and need to vent? I call my mom. Have a problem and need a solution? Call my Dad. It's the best thing in the world.

Zeke has been at Victory Stables, located in Colts Neck, NJ, since last Thursday and is doing wonderfully. My mom has ridden him a couple times and another friend, Kara, rode him once. I ask my mom everyday, "How's our horse!?" I am still so excited. It hasn't really sunken in yet that I own a horse! My family and I (boyfriend included) leave this Friday on a family vacation to Switzerland. When we get back (Jan. 5) my mom will bring Zeke up to Newbury Farm. I can't hardly wait.

My hopes for Zeke (and myself): Since Zeke is only 6 years old and because he is a QH it is imperative to keep him happy and healthy (mentally and physically). One option is to show him as a hunter for a little while to get some of my confidence back before moving on to the jumpers. I'm not sure how that will work though because I'm a little worried that if I got going in the hunter divisions, I would stay there. We'll see. As of now, my short term goal is to form a personal and unique bond with Zeke and show in the Adult Jumpers (M&S to help pay some bills). My personal long term goal is to compete in the Amateur/Owner Jumpers. I would like Zeke to get me started in the Lows, but if that is not an option I would love to be as successful in the M&S Adult Jumper division as I was in the M&S Children's Jumper division.

I'll definitely keep you all updated on my (and Zeke's) progress. In the meantime, here is a picture of my new boy. My Dad captured this still from the video that my mom took when we went to try Zeke for a second time a couple weeks ago.

Talk to you soon,

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Winter Riding

In an earlier post, Matt asked me about winter riding: can you ride all year long, or is it a warm-weather sport? Thankfully, many barns have indoor rings so, whether it be heavy rain or New England snow, riding can be done all year long. And, even if you don't have an indoor there a things you can do to help your horse weather the winter. For example, some horses that live outside during the winter (or even just get turned out in the snow) get snow pads. Your blacksmith can equip your horse with specials rubber pads that prevent snow build up in their hooves, making it easier for your horse to navigate the snow-covered terrain.

While riding during the winter months, it is important to take the necessary precautions to keep your horse healthy and happy. Horses can't change their wet blanket or chip the ice off their water buckets, they rely on you to do it for them.

One of the biggest changes from summer to winter riding is the way you cool your horse out after a good workout. In the summer, if you're in a rush, you can hose your horse down and turn them out to dry in the sun. In the winter, it is extremely important to make sure your horse is cool and dry before putting them away so that they can avoid getting a chill. EquiSearch has several great articles about winter horse care.

Possibly one of the most tedious aspects of riding horses in winter is the after-ride cooling-out process. Tedious though it may be, it's very important to cool your horse properly. Putting him away hot and sweaty will jeopardize his health by allowing him to catch a chill.

Even in the coldest of weather, the horse's metabolism (the burning of internal fuels to produce energy) will cause him to sweat during intense exercise. This sweating can be exaggerated by a full winter coat. For this reason, many horse owners choose to clip their horses in winter.

To cool your horse safely, you can begin while you're still riding. Following your ride or work out, walking him for ten to fifteen minutes will allow the heat built up in the muscles to dissipate.

Once you've dismounted, loosen the girth or cinch, but don't remove the saddle immediately as this will allow cold air to the muscles of his back and may cause cramping. Cover him with a cooler which may be wool or one of the more high-tech fabrics designed to wick moisture from the horse and cool him out quicker. Walk him for a few minutes like this and then remove the saddle and replace the cooler before continuing to walk him.

I can't stress enough how important it is for you, a horse owner, to remember that your horse relies on YOU, is completely dependent on YOU to take care of them all year long, but especially during the winter. Would you be comfortable standing outside, in soaking wet clothes, in below freezing temperatures? I think not.

Just something to keep in mind.
Talk to you soon,

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I own a horse! Yup, that's right. Zeke is the newest addition to the EDV family. I would like to thank my parents (especially my mom) for absolutely EVERYTHING.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pre-Purchase Vet Exam

My mom is meeting the vet tomorrow at 12:30pm to do a pre-purchase exam on Zeke - check his heart, lungs, etc. Keep your fingers crossed. It still hasn't sunk in that I may very well own a horse by tomorrow evening. Or, that it will be a QH!!

Uber Excited,

Monday, December 17, 2007

If there is a will, there is a way...

I could be the proud owner of a 6-year-old Buckskin QH (gasp!) before the week is over. Or, I could not be, but... things are looking up.

Things running through my mind:
*Learning how to jump (all over again)
*Having a 'partner in crime' that's all mine!
*Taking a small (but very important) step toward my life goal (getting out of the Adult Jumpers)
*Learning how to see a distance more than three strides out
*Finding my confidence (I know it's there, it's just on vacation)
*A horse's unconditional love

Stay tuned,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Comment, Comment, Comment

So... I know there are a few of you reading my blog (StatCounter is so cool). I'm running a little low on ideas for my posts so how about you all help me out? Post a comment and let me know what you would like to read about. Or, a question that you would like my view on. Or, absolutely anything. Help....

I'm going home to NJ this weekend and I'll take some pictures and, hopefully, write a few interesting posts. But, in the meantime, I welcome your questions or topic ideas.


Monday, December 10, 2007

The Forgotten Tool

Have trainers and riders forgotten the importance of developing a horse's counter canter? Just because you are not an A-circuit trainer or rider does not mean you can't help your horse (and yourself) become the best possible.

The official U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) and FEI definition of counter canter: "This is a movement where the rider, for instance on a circle to the left, deliberately makes his horse canter with the right canter lead...The counter canter is a balancing movement. The horse maintains his natural flexion at the poll to the outside of the circle and the horse is positioned to the side of the leading leg. His conformation does not permit his spine to be bent to the line of the circle. The rider, avoiding any contortion causing contraction and disorder, should especially endeavor to limit the deviation of the quarters to the outside of the circle and restrict his demands according to the degree of suppleness of the horse."

We do counter canter because it makes our horses agile, straight and strong.

In counter canter, when the rider tracks right in left lead canter or vice versa, the aids must become more precise and the feel for half halts more sophisticated. Counter canter teaches the rider to control her horse, and it teaches the horse to be controlled by the rider. If you can do a counter canter with quality, then you have significant control of your horse. It is a springboard for the high-level canter movements in the horse's future training.
Developing your horse's counter canter can and will help you in all aspects of your riding and it's not just for Grand Prix horses/riders. Anyone from the 2'6" hunter to the 4'6" jumper will benefit from this underused tool. Whether it's keeping your horse balanced to a jump or developing flying lead changes, counter cantering is a great supplement to your usual training program.

Talk to you soon,

Monday, December 3, 2007

About Me

Now that the class requirement part of this blog is over with, all rules are off. I've been blogging for three months now, but I don't feel like you really know me. I found this survey online and, hopefully, it will give you a little insight into who I am.


When did you start riding?
According to my mom, I sat on my first horse when I was 2 months old. I got my first pony, Skeeter, when I was 3 years old.
Who has had the greatest impact on your riding career?
My mom and Callan Solem.
What is the best part of being an equestrian? The gratification of creating a partnership with your horse.
Favorite sport other than riding?
Snowboarding and Football (only to watch, though).
Do you have a pre-show ritual, if so what is it?
I don't have any rituals - I'm not very superstitious.
What is the highlight of your riding career, so far?
Placing second at the Vermont Summer Festival aboard Castle Rock, "Rocky," in the NAL/M&S Children's Jumper Classic. (see picture below)

What is your most embarrassing riding moment? Last week, I got jumped off an Adult Hunter - I think that tops the list.
What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome? Balancing doing what I love (riding) and doing what I must (college).
What is your favorite show?
Lake Placid.
Who is your biggest fan?
My mom and grandma. My mom is realistic and will tell me where I can improve. My grandma, on the other hand, thinks I'm pretty perfect.
What's the most important thing you've learned as a rider? It's important to "take inventory" of your horse every time you ride so that you'll notice new cuts, swelling, soreness, etc.
What advice can you give to other riders? Always be aware of your surroundings and be kind to your horse.
What are three words that describe you?
Stubborn. Aware. Kind.
What is your favorite T.V. show?
Two and a half Men.
What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I wasn't always in love with riding.
What is one thing you can't go a week without?
An animal's love (be it horse, cat, or dog).
What is your dream job?
Somewhere where I only have to work April through December. And, it must afford me enough expendable income to show at HITS Ocala or WEF from January through March.
What is your most valued possession?
My photos of friends, family and horses.
What is your best non-athletic talent?
Who is your favorite musical artist?
Recently, I've had KT Tunstall's CD on repeat. But, Queen will always be a favorite.
What is your biggest fear?
Being an Adult Jumper for life.
What is your biggest pet-peeve? Riders who are glued to the rail.
What is your least favorite food?
Who would you like to take a lesson from?
Mike Henaghan or Mark Jungherr.
If you could ride any horse, who would it be? Rocher (dressage) or Cavalor Cumano (show jumping) or Theodore O'Connor (eventing).

Talk to you soon,

Friday, November 30, 2007

Assignment #6: Blogging Experience

I talked a little about my blogging experience in the previous post but tonight I'll touch on what I enjoyed (or didn't) about this project. And, what my blogging plans are for the future.

At the beginning, I was really uncomfortable with the whole idea of blogging. I admire people who can write witty on a consistent basis, but it's just not that easy. And my biggest fear was writing a mediocre, boring blog. Of course, I had high expectations: check out this blog or that blog for examples of hilarious, smart writing. Now, after three months of blogging, I've come to terms with my writing style and my blog. I'll be funny sometimes (if I'm in the right mood) or pissed off sometimes (if I'm in the wrong mood), but either way, I still write well (if I do say so myself). Besides being my own worst critic, I was nervous about writing my opinions for everyone and anyone to read. Sometimes I have very strong views about aspects of the horse-world and, to be honest, I don't really want someone telling me that I'm wrong. Stubborn? Yes. But I'm also acutely aware of everything I don't know about horses and the horse-world and I'm very willing to learn. So... I don't necessarily think my stubbornness (i.e. if you're glued to the rail, you're not actually riding your horse) is a bad thing. As of late, I've become more at ease with the whole idea of blogging. Although, I still ask myself: Why blog? (see previous post).

What I enjoyed most about this project was the ability to have place to rant and/or rave about certain topics. If I found a great article, I loved being able to share it with someone (hellooo... is anyone out there?), even if that someone was just my mom, dad and boyfriend.

I've decided (with a little encouragement from the anonymous commenter) that I'll continue to blog after this assignment is over. I have a lot of things going on (or about to be going on) in my life that will make for some exciting posts, so... you'll just have to keep reading!

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Why Blog?

Three days from now this Online Journalism blogging project will be officially over. After grades are in, I'll have the option of clicking the delete button or continuing to write (becoming a bona fide blogger). The funny thing is that I'm not completely comfortable with either option. At the beginning of this project I would have easily answered "delete" because I didn't want my ideas and opinions out there on the web for anyone to read. Now, after blogging for almost three months, I feel a little bit attached to what I've written - I don't want to delete the past three months, so why would I delete Breeches n' Boots? On the other hand, I'm not a huge fan of becoming a bona fide blogger. I've written, regardless of readership, because it's been a class requirement. But, should I continue blogging if no one is reading? Isn't that a little self-absorbed to think people actually care what I think? I've never jumped a Grand Prix, I've never ridden on the Developing Riders Tour and I'm definitely no professional - so why blog?

Something to think about... I'll let you know what I decide. In the meantime, here is a picture of me riding Cali, one of the other trail horses (see previous post) in NJ over Thanksgiving break. Please keep in mind that I don't make a habit of riding "spotted" western horses.

Talk to you soon,

Monday, November 26, 2007

Assignment #5: Original Reporting

Laura Smith, 25, grew up in Atlanta, GA, and began riding at age 7. She competed on the "A" circuit throughout high school, showing in both the Jr. Jumper and Equitation divisions. In 2000, Smith relocated to NJ to attend Princeton University. She graduated in 2004 with a degree in English and is currently working for a publishing company in New York City. Below is a Q&A with Smith about her experience with riding while in college.

EDV: Did riding influence your decision to attend Princeton University?

LS: I had been up in the Northeast a lot showing and I knew there were a ton of good trainers in New Jersey. I didn’t have a specific plan for exactly what I was going to do but it was definitely attractive that there were so many good shows and so many good trainers nearby.

EDV: During your freshman year you rode on Princeton's equestrian team. How did you like the team?

LS: After the indoor circuit and all the intensity of finishing up as a junior it was fun - no pressure - but it wasn’t satisfy as riding, wasn't challenging as riding.

EDV: During your sophomore year at Princeton you bought a horse and began competing as an amateur on the "A" circuit. How did your parents feel about you mixing school and top-level showing?

LS: My parents never encouraged me not to ride but they were kind of hoping I wouldn’t show too much, that I wouldn’t be away from Princeton as much as I had been away from my high school. But they were never anti-riding.

EDV: Now that you've graduated and are working in the "real world" do you have time to ride?

LS: Purely recreationally. I ride in Central Park. I’m hoping that once I get a little further along in my job that it will be easier to get out of the city on weekends and go ride.

EDV: Thank you for your time. Good luck with your job and riding.

Editor's Note: Laura Smith's name has been changed to protect her identity. Not that she has anything to hide, but it is a little strange to be part of someone else's blog. And, I didn't feel like her name was imperative to the Q&A as long as I knew her answers to be honest.

Talk to you soon,

Sunday, November 25, 2007

NJ & PA Road Trip

Spending time in NJ is like a time warp for me - when it's over and I'm back in Boston, it feels like it never even happened. A couple of the reasons I love being home is because: a) it's 24/7 horses and b) there's no homework. Also, I love seeing my parents. It's amazing how much better you get along with them once you aren't living under their roof, isn't it?

While I was home, I rode a 3-year-old by L.A. Baltic Inspiration, a very talented Adult Hunter and a couple fantastic trail horses. Remember in my previous post I mentioned a "surprise"? Well, my mom and I took a road trip (one of our favorite pastimes) to PA on Saturday to look at a 6-year-old buckskin Quarter Horse (gasp!). Zeke was well worth the drive. To my disbelief, he had a very pleasant disposition and moved very correctly and even had some spring to his gait (again, gasp!). As of now, we are planning to head out to PA again sometime in December to take another look. On Saturday, we weren't able to jump that many jumps or that big because the ground was very frozen and the barn didn't have an indoor. So, the plan for December is to take him to another barn with an indoor where we can see him jump a course of 3'6". I'll definitely keep you updated.

And the award for Best Trail Horses goes to... Storm and Thunder. Storm, aka Black Velvet, is on the right, Thunder is on the left and that's my mom in the middle. In need of the perfect trail horse? Buy a Tennessee Walking Horse.

Talk to you soon,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Home for Thanksgiving

Honestly, I've been counting down the days until Thanksgiving since the beginning of September and now it's FINALLY here! I drove from Boston to NJ yesterday (Tuesday) morning and will head back sometime on Sunday. While I'm home I'll be doing lots of riding and I'll be sure to get some horsey pictures to spice up Breeches n' Boots. Also, I'll have a very interesting and surprising post for you on Saturday but it's a secret... so be sure to check back on Sunday.

Have a Great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ride Smart, Ride Safe

When you are at a barn (riding, working or just hanging out) it is important to always be aware of your surroundings. That means that along with paying attention to what you and your horse are doing, you must ALSO pay attention to what others around you are doing. This is important for everyone's safety but it is also important for a much simpler reason. It's important to be courteous to those around you. For example, if another rider is schooling her horse over a specific jump and you have just entered the ring, it is polite (and greatly appreciated) if you stay out of the other rider's way. This doesn't mean that you can't ride your horse until the other rider is done, just be aware of you surroundings (in other words, don't stop directly in front of the aforementioned fence to tighten your girth when the other rider is trying to jump it).

Another important thing to remember is that each and every horse (no matter how well-trained) needs their personal space. What I mean is... if there are several horses being ridden at one time be careful not to ride too close to the other horses. Also, don't ride directly at another horse. In the horse world this is considered rude and a very beginner mistake (not to mention that it can be extremely dangerous to both you and the other rider!).

Just a couple things for you to think about. Remember... everyone loves a smart rider.

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Balancing Act

My second-to-last semester at Northeastern has almost come to an end (only three weeks left) and it has definitely been one of my toughest semesters. Not isolated to just the schoolwork, it has been a balancing act between classes, riding and a part-time job. I have two classes a day Monday through Friday. I ride on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. And I spend about 10 hours a week working for my part-time job (admittedly, I do most of the work from my own living room but I manage to make it into the office every Friday). Now remember, you also have to factor in time for homework, laundry (where does it all come from?), picking up the apt., eating, sleeping and the boyfriend (for the first month...or two, he definitely got put on the back burner - luckily for me, he is extremely loving and understanding).

During the first half of this blogging project I only posted once or maybe (if you were lucky) twice a week because I was so S.T.R.E.S.S.E.D. I was still working out all the kinks in my schedule, trying to fit way too much into a 24-hour day. Fortunately, I think I've figured it out - it's called compromise. For example, if I spend eight hours at the barn then I only have 16 hours left. Take out another eight for sleeping (sorry, that's non-negotiable) and I'm left with only eight for classes, homework, boyfriend, eating and all those other annoying musts (laundry comes to mind).

So... the answer is compromise. Now, I spend four to five hours riding (including driving time) and more time on all those other, less fun tasks (except the boyfriend - he's a lot of fun).

I found this article from the Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar online. It's also about the balancing act, but from another perspective. This article focuses more on getting your riding-fix through a college equestrian team.

As this semester winds down (and I'm swamped with research papers and final projects) I have to decide the fate of the spring semester (AKA my final semester at Northeastern!). Should I cut back on one or both of my extracurricular activities to have more time to enjoy my last few months before I'm swallowed whole by the real world? Or should I keep on keepin' on? Hmmm... something to think about.

Talk to you soon,

Friday, November 9, 2007

SMC Update

I realize that I haven't mentioned SMC lately so here's a quick update:

Zipi got sold (he left last Tuesday) and Zee has a deposit on her and is waiting to be vetted (keep your fingers crossed). Fitz, Tara and Bill (among others) are still around but have a had a decent amount of interest in them. A young girl came out last weekend to try Tara and it went really well. Unfortunately, Tara has a special shoe due to the abscess she had a month ago and the potential buyers want to see her go after she gets her normal shoe back on. Also, because of the shoe I haven't been jumping her and, obviously, they want to see her jump before they buy her.

So... lately, I've been riding Tara and Bill with a couple extras thrown in here and there. With Tara, I am working on her responsiveness by doing lots and lots of transitions. Sometimes she evades me by tossing her head so I've been working on that, too. At the moment, she is probably my favorite to ride and she also has lovely ground manners (nothing irks me more than when people let their horses walk all over them).

With Bill, I've been working on getting him softer in the bridle as well as through his whole body. When I first started riding him my biggest issue was his complete lack of suppleness. It was like riding a bus (absolutely no bend through his body - not completely his fault). I have to say, he is slowly growing on me and, as of the past couple rides, is using himself much better.

Tara should be getting shod sometime around Thanksgiving so I will keep you updated and I'll let you know if any other horses get sold.

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Artistic Photo

I can't think of anything worthwhile to write about tonight so here's a picture to hold you over. Here's me being creative:

Also, check out Nancy Jaffer's photo gallery from the Syracuse Invitational horse show at

Friday, November 2, 2007

Jumping Rider vs. Riding a Jumper

I found this great article on The Chronicle of the Horse's website. Linda Allen is an international show jumping course designer with the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 1992 World Cup on her resume. She wrote, "Being A Jumping Rider Means More Than Just Riding A Jumper," for the February 23, 2007, issue. The Chronicle requires you to sign in so I can't give you a direct link but if you go to the website and click on "Between Rounds" you will find the article. She writes:

"The more I teach around the country and the world, the more obvious it becomes that there's a world of difference between being able to ride a jumper and being a jumping rider.

Let me describe what I mean: It might not take too long for someone to teach me how to drive a race car around the Indianapolis 500 track; but would this mean I could then race that car in even a moderately difficult race? No, I don't think so!

To not be a menace to myself, the car, and the other drivers, it would take years of practice and experience until I was truly one with the car. Results--and safety--depend on far more than just knowing how to steer, brake and change gears. Being a race-car driver means having finely tuned reflexes--the ability to feel the subtleties of when, where and how much to do things--under all the incredible pressures of a 200-mph race.

How similar this is to riding jumpers! Relatively quickly, one can learn the aids involved to negotiate a basic course on a well-trained horse. But becoming the kind of rider who allows the full talent of the horse to shine through and produces consistent results (without panicking, freezing or over-reacting when things get "interesting") is a completely different story. Natural talent-- in the rider, the horse or both--can help a lot, but even that cannot serve as a substitute for a lot of time in the saddle."

Allen goes on to talk about the importance of a firm horsemanship foundation, as well as, the need for short and long-term goals. I got a lot out of this article and I hope you do too!

Talk to you soon,

Assignment #3: Podcast

Our third assignment was to create a podcast (audio file) for our blog. For mine, I read my "Riding Abroad" post. You might see me podcast again before the semester is over. Maybe I'll interview a trainer or rider from SMC. In the meantime, you can find my first podcast here.

Thanks & talk to you soon,

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Draw Reins

On I found this really good article by FEI dressage rider Lisa Zinger: Using Draw Reins and Side Reins. She writes:
"Before I explain their use, though, let me clarify what side and draw reins are not: They're not shortcuts to force a horse's head down or force his nose to the vertical, or to "muscle him up" or "make him flex" on one side or the other. Used improperly, side reins and draw reins can cause a horse to habitually shorten his stride, stiffen or overbend to evade contact, and become heavy on the forehand; They can also make him sore in the neck and back. And with side reins in particular (not draw reins, which are easy to lengthen or drop in an emergency), a horse unaccustomed to their restrictive feel may bang himself in the mouth and panic, then run backward, rear, get a leg caught in the reins, or even flip over."
I agree with Zinger wholeheartedly. Draw reins are NOT a short cut for good, old-fashion training. They are NOT meant to be used by an inexperienced rider. They a NOT tie-downs. They are NOT meant for horses that are barely walking and trotting under saddle.

In my opinion, draw reins have their time and place but are overused and improperly used (especially in the Hunter/Jumper world) more often than not.

Talk to you soon,

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quick Update

Good Evening (insert spooky vampire laugh).

It's almost Halloween and the weather finally feels like Fall. The horses are getting their winter coats and are feeling a bit frisky with the cooler temperatures.

This past weekend SMC hosted a schooling show for all the clients. I rode a sale horse named Bill in the Low Hunter and Open Equitation division. Everything went really well and it was a huge success. (I'll try to post a picture of Bill later on this week so you can see what he looks like.)

AND, I have some really good news... Tara is back to work. I rode her today for the first time and she felt really sound. I have to admit, it felt really good to be back riding her. She's has her issues (like all horses) but for the most part she is extremely lovely to ride.

The Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament begins October 31st and goes through November 4 at the Oncenter Complex in Syracuse, NY. It is a very prestigious show that includes the ASPCA Maclay Championship and a World Cup Qualifier.

I'll post again soon (hopefully, with a Podcast)!

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Remember I mentioned earlier about the National Horse Show? Well, here are two articles that help explain the situation better for those of you that haven't been following the Stadium Jumping empire.

The first, an October 25th article in the Palm Beach Daily News. This article talks specifically about the permit that was signed by Wellington Equestrian Partners and Stadium Jumping to allow the 2007 NHS and the 2008 Wellington Equestrian Festival.

The second, an older article posted on The Equestrians' Preservation Society's website. This article talks about the reason why a permit was needed in the first place: an ugly lawsuit between Wellington Equestrian Partners and Stadium Jumping.

Look for a new post this weekend (with an update from SMC) but in the meantime... here's a beautiful picture I took today at SMC.

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Good Laugh

And by "good laugh," I mean you'll laugh so hard you cry. Check it out: The Gospel According to Gates. It's hilarious, along the same lines as I'm Quietly Judging You. Mind you, these blogs have absolutely nothing to do with horses but they're a good laugh.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Staying Motivated

Sometimes, I find it's hard to stay motivated if I feel like I don't have a short-term goal, like a horse show. I'll get bored if I feel like I'm not learning anything new or progressing in some other way. However, I try to remember that it's important for myself AND for the horses I'm riding that I "keep my head in the game," so to speak.

I'll ride without stirrups to strengthen my legs or practice my equitation (thanks, Mom). Sometimes I'll jump small jumps, or even just poles on the ground, to practice distances, etc. In the long run, staying motivated through these "lulls" will pay off.

It also helps to keep a "glass half full" outlook. Who knows what the future will bring? Maybe a new riding opportunity. Or... maybe a horse of my own.

Talk to you soon,

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Riding Abroad

Photo: I took this picture while riding Nobbie, a 5-year-old Irish Thoroughbred. No wonder Ireland's called the Emerald Isle.

In 2004, after my freshman year at Northeastern University, I spent three months in Ireland riding and learning about the 3-day eventing world. Like everything, it had its ups-and-downs, but I definitely came back a more confident rider. While I was over there I rode a 3-year-old, 4-year-old and 5-year-old everyday AND I taught at two pony-club camps.

Along with riding, I fed and turned out the horses and cleaned stalls and swept (all the non-fun stuff that goes along with riding). I galloped faster than I had ever galloped before, jumped banks and ditches... it was fantastic. To top it all off, the horses were fantastic (no nags here).

While I was in Ireland, I got the opportunity to ride in an International Student Riding Association event (specifically, a Student Riding Nations Cup). It was amazing. Basically, students from all over the world compete in dressage, show jumping and cross-country (one of the three phases of 3-day eventing). The one I rode in had teams from Belgium, England, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Austria, etc. If you are a student-rider, I highly recommend checking out the website. You have to fill out an application and get letters of recommendation, etc., but if you are chosen for a team it is an amazing experience. The one unfortunate thing: you have to pay your own way and sometimes it gets a little expensive.

I mentioned in a previous post that riding abroad doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg - and it's true! All you have to do is be willing to work hard. When I went to Ireland I payed for my plane ticket but that was all. Many European barns love to have hard-working Americans around (be willing to muck stalls) but the reward can be great - getting to ride in Europe!

How do you find a trainer/rider in Europe? I was lucky enough to ride a horse for a woman during high school with connections in Ireland but it's easy enough to find someone even without networking. The Internet is a great tool. Google riders' names or results from horse shows (Also, check out the website I linked to above). Make a phone call, or even easier - send an email. Then pack your bags & get ready for the hardest work of your life.


Friday, October 19, 2007

A New Direction

So... since the start of this blogging project I have had a problem "getting in the groove" and I think it is mainly because I don't like getting too personal on the Internet. And, since my original plan was to write about specific horses at a specific barn, if I was going to write it would have to be personal. I really don't see my attitude changing (I still don't want to put my true thoughts & feelings about individuals out there for anyone and everyone to see), I've decided to change the direction of my blog. From now on, I will give you a brief update of the horses at SMC but, for the most part, I will talk more about general topics in the horse-world - for example, the hunter-jumper world's overuse of draw reins or the benefit of riding abroad.

On a side-note, remember a couple of blogs ago when I mentioned that the NHS was up in the air? Well, it has been finalized that the NHS is definitely on and will be held in Wellington, as usual. Check out Phelps Sports for more information.

I don't have too much time to write today but watch for a blog this weekend about the benefits of riding abroad (Hint: you don't need to be a trust fund baby to spend a summer riding horses in Europe).

How are the horses at SMC? Well, let's start with Zipi. I rode him yesterday for the first time in a few weeks (he's been Melanie's project) and was pleasantly surprised. He's come miles from last time I rode him (Congrats, Melanie!) and actually rode like a real horse! He steered and trotted around the entire ring (last time I rode him, I could barely get him to walk a full circle). I'm thrilled that he's come along so nicely because, for a while, I was a bit skeptical. Tara is still off because of the abscess. Lantana was good on Tuesday but had off yesterday because of a sore back. All the other horses are doing well so hopefully some will start getting sold soon - I'm showing Zipi to a potential buyer on Sunday so I'll let you know how that goes.

Talk to you soon,

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Assignment

Assignment: Write a summary/review of a blog or website that is related to your topic.

I chose to review Riding through College, a blog written by Sara Gumbiner, an Equine Studies major at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA. I actually spoke with Sara this past spring when I was writing an article about different options for equestrians after their junior careers are over. She was great to talk to: very well-spoken and very open about her life. That's probably one of the differences that stick out between her blog and mine: openness. I'm still getting used to putting my experiences and thoughts out on the web, where anyone can see them, while she seems totally comfortable with her blog.

Sara took the summer off from posting, but now that she is back at school she has started posting again. She rights very clearly with not a lot of "wordy-ness" that seems to plague some blogs. She details her experiences very well and writes very casually - almost like she is talking to a friend. She has posted some pictures which also brighten a blog up.

I think her blog is interesting because it's not so much about the show-circuit as it is about learning. She talks about clinics she attends and lessons she takes, etc. Her posts are also usually pretty long. Some people might not like that, but I do. To me, it means that she posts when she has something of value to say and not just to take up space.

Talk to you soon,

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Here is the picture I promised. Isn't she beautiful? I didn't ride at all this weekend, although I am going out tomorrow (Monday). Tara should be back to work this week and hopefully I'll be showing her and Lantana sometime soon.

Talk to you soon,

Friday, October 12, 2007

Back in Gear

Hi all,

Lantana is going very well. She's "back in gear," as we say, after her lay-up. Tara is still off because of her abcsess. I also rode Fitz, Happy Feet and Mike this week - they were all good. Hopefully, I'll be showing soon before winter comes. I do have a picture for you (of my love, Zee) but I am at class and the picture is at my apartment (sorry to disappoint). I will post it sometime this weekend, promise.

The news everyone is talking about now: will there be the National Horse Show this year? From what I've heard, it's very up in the air but there should be a definate answer by next week. I wish the NHS was still at the Garden in NYC like in the good ol' days.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Columbus Day Weekend

Well, you'll be happy to know that I finally took some pictures at SMC. I'm going to pace myself though and give you one with every blog. Today's picture is of Zipi and Lantana. Aren't they sooooo cute?So, from my previous blogs you know that I was supposed to be at a show today (Columbus Day) in Clinton, CT. Unfortunately, Tara has an abscess (an infection in her hoof) and cannot be ridden for several days. I could have still gone to the show but decided to use the day to recuperate and catch up on homework and laundry. In the next couple of week, I will show both Tara and Lantana - I'm not sure where but I will keep you updated.

The two young horses, Zipi and Zee, each have someone interested in buying them. Zee had a woman come out and look at her twice and seems very interested in her. Zipi has someone from N.C. interested in him and wants to buy him sight unseen. Good news for both of them - I will keep you updated.

The trainer just got in a new Quarter Horse pony, Happy Feet, from Texas. Very cute, just needs some more muscle on him. I rode him Sunday and he was very well-behaved. I'm not sure exactly what the plan for him is, maybe keep him through the spring and then sell him... but I really have no idea. I'll let you know as soon as I do.

This coming week I'm heading out to the barn on Tuesday and Thursday.

Talk to you later,

Friday, October 5, 2007

Catch Up

Here's you: Bored reader. Here's me: S.T.R.E.S.S.E.D. I've been a horrible blogger but I'm re-organizing my life this weekend so I promise I WILL start being better. I've spread myself too thin but that's all about to change. In the meantime, I'll catch you up with my horse-y life.

Everything at SMC is going well, although I do feel a bit overwhelmed. Yesterday I went out, hoping to be home by 7 p.m. which gave me a little of three hours of riding time. Unfortunately, although I'm not totally complaining, I had six horses to ride. I managed to get to five of them before I absolutely had to get home. I love riding and I love helping SMC out but when I have that many horses to work in that short a time I feel stressed and rushed and do only a mediocre job (which totally annoys me). I got home around 8:30 p.m. and had tons of other work that needed to get down before I could relax.

Anyways, back to the horses... my mom and I made a joint decision to not go ahead with Zee. She is a wonderful horse but we both felt it wasn't the right thing to do. I have to admit, I was a bit heartbroken, but I'll get over it and as my mom always says: "There is ALWAYS a better one down the road." Zee is doing well though and people are lining up to come out and see her and the other 3-year-old, Zipi.

Tara has been good. I jumped her bigger this week, about 3'3", in preparation for the show on Monday, Oct. 8, in Clinton, CT. The jumps are no problem for her but she has been a little sticky on her right-to-left lead change. I don't think it is a physical problem though, just bad habit.

I didn't take any pics yesterday because I was s.t.r.e.s.s.e.d and rushed (see above apology) but I will try to take some on Sunday.

Off to Editing class now,


Monday, October 1, 2007

It's worth it

Whether you're interested in show jumping, dressage or just the horse-world in general you should subscribe to Phelps Sports. You pay an annual fee but it's well worth it.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Busy, Busy

Sorry, I haven't written in a while. I've been super busy with two part-time jobs and school (plus I've been sick...ugh), but I will try to be better about posting. And I still have not gotten any photos of the horses at SMC (I know... sorry again). For this post, I will try to give you an update on all the horses and a random photo (just to keep it a little interesting).

Zee- She's still my favorite. Michelle (SMC trainer/rider) will ride her two or three days per week and I'll ride her one. As of now, my mom is planning to come up the second week of October to look at her again and we'll take it from there. Remember when my mom was up a couple weekends ago? Well, she videotaped Zee and then watched it on the tv when she got home. She told me that the more she watched the video, the more she liked Zee. Good news for me...

Zipi- He is doing well. Melanie (a SMC rider/trainer) is working with him one-on-one now. I know that a woman was coming out to SMC today to look at both him and Zee. I'll let you know how that went as soon as I know.

Fitz- Melanie is also working with him and he's been going well. She jumped him over little cross-rails and flower-boxes yesterday.

Tara- She is doing super. After winning five out of six classes at the CMHSS show she got a couple days off. I jumped her 3' today which is a little bigger than we've been jumping. She was super and I plan to show her at a show in CT on October 8. She'll do the Adult Hunters, which is a solid 3'.

Lindy- Michelle has been working with her since she got back from her honeymoon. She's been super and might also go to the Oct. 8th show.

This week, I'll be at the barn on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. I PROMISE to get some pictures but, in the meantime, here is a random picture. Can you guess who it is? Hint: she also has a blog and was on an Animal Planet tv show. I took this picture at the 2007 Monmouth County Horse Show in Freehold, NJ.

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Huge Success

My alarm went off at 4am but it was worth it because the CMHSS show was a huge success. Tara showed in the schooling hunters and adult hunters, winning five out of six classes. She was super and I plan to show her again on October 8 a a show in Clinton, CT. Lindy was also a superstar. She's only 4 years old but you would have never known it. I schooled her in the morning and then showed her in four classes in the afternoon. She was so well behaved - even the judge asked if she was for sale. We got back to SMC around 3:30pm and my parents were waiting for me when I got there.

My mom watched me ride Zee (or as my dad likes to call her: Allison, Jr) and agreed that she is special. She videotaped, so I got to see what she looked like (up till now I've only ridden her and haven't actually seen her go). She looked even better than I thought she would. Needless to say, I was thrilled that my mom liked her.

I'm heading out to the barn this afternoon and will ride Zee, Tara and a new project, Lantana. As of now, I also plan to show Lantana at that October 8th show in CT. She is for sale as a prospective Jr/AO jumper. I've never ridden her before so I'll let you know how today goes.

And, as always, I'll keep you updated on Zee.

Talk to you soon,

Friday, September 21, 2007

Gearing up for CMHSS

Tomorrow, Sat 9/22, SMC is attending a Central Mass Horse Show Series show in Spencer, MA. I haven't been to this facility before but I've heard that it's a great schooling school and a lot of SMC's younger students will be going. I'll be schooling two horses, Lindy and Tara. In my previous post, I ran out of time before I was able to brief you on these two. So...

Tara: She came in with the other sale horses (Zee, Zipi, Fitz & Lindy) but the head trainer/owner of SMC Stables quickly bought her as a re-sale project. She is the most trained of all the horses and has competed at HITS Ocala and other top-rated horse shows. She is very classy (beautiful chestnut) and would make an extremely fancy Children's Hunter or Junior Hunter. I'll be showing her tomorrow in the adult hunter and schooling hunter divisions.

Lindy: She is 4 years old and has already been sold to a SMC customer. She is very mature for her age and walks, trots, canters and has just begun jumping crossrails. Tomorrow will be her second show and I plan on just riding her around the facility (getting her used to the atmosphere) and, if she feels up to it, taking her in one or two flat classes. After the show, the plan is for me to stop working her and for her new mom to take over.

On Sunday, my mom is meeting me at the barn to video Tara and Zee for potential sales. My mom and I have people in mind (back home in NJ) that might be interested in them. We also plan to free-jump Zee for the first time (keep your fingers crossed).

This afternoon, I'm heading out to the barn to ride all five horses and clean up Tara and Lindy for the show. If I have time, I'll give Zee a bath so she looks extra special for my Mom (yup... trying my hardest to have my mom fall in love with her).

I'll try to post on Sunday and let you know how the show went. Also, I'm going to try to add photos.

Talk to you soon,

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Projects

I think it is important for you to get to know the horses I'll be working with over the next few months (or at least until they get sold) so this blog entry will focus on each horse individually. Over the next couple weeks I hope to add pictures so that you can put a face to the name.

Zee - She's my favorite. She is very mature for only being 3 years old and is a very quick learner - she's less than 90 days under tack and already walks and trots outside of the round-pen and steers like a pro. I think I said this is my first blog entry, but she reminds me SO much of a grand prix horse I know. I think that, in the right hands, she could easily be a top-level jumper. My mom is coming up this weekend (Sept. 22-23) to watch her go (I'm not-so-secretly hoping that my mom falls in love with her and buys her, but that's a long-shot). Hopefully, we will free-jump her this weekend so I can get a better feel for her raw talent.

Zipi - Also, 3 years old. He has a very sweet demeanor but is more immature than Zee. A typical gelding, he tries to do what is asked of him but is not as quick to learn as Zee. He doesn't steer so well so usually I ride him in the round-pen or on a lunge line. I've ridden him free in the indoor ring but it's not so productive (it's kind of like a free horse because he doesn't always listen to me). There is one "issue" with him but I think it's only temporary. Last week, I attempted to work with him while other horses were being ridden and he had a mini-meltdown. He seemed confused by the whole scene. I just walked him around (on the ground) while the others rode around him in an attempt to get him used to the idea - I didn't get too far. But, the next time I rode him it didn't seem to have "fried" his brain or anything because he was calm and relaxed as usual (although, there was no one else in the ring). Besides that one issue he is a very sweet horse and I think has a good amount of potential. He just needs to grow up a bit.

Fitz: He is a 5-year-old Oldenburg. He has a very calm demeanor but, unfortunately, he wasn't broke until the same time as the 3-year-olds (90 days ago). Usually, the longer you wait to break a horse the more problems come along with it. Luckily, Fitz seems to be coming along fine. He had a bit of a setback with cantering but seems to have gotten past that. I ride him inside and out & walk, trot and canter. He is one of the sale horses that I will be working with exclusively.

I'm out of time for today, more homework to do for other classes, but I will tell you about Tara in my next blog entry. I've also been working with Lindy, a 4-year-old, but she is not for sale.


Friday, September 14, 2007


I've always been a fan of blogs (absolutely love I'm Quietly Judging You) but I have never started my own because I've always felt that I could never be as witty or as sarcastic as the blogs I love. Why write a mediocre blog when I can read a fabulous one? Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I am now forced to write a blog for my Online Journalism class at Northeastern University. We must post four to five times per week and include different writing styles, photos, etc. I've chosen to blog about the only true passion in my life: horses.

My mom is a trainer in NJ and I sat on my first horse before I could even crawl. My parents bought me my first pony, Skeeter, when I was 3 years old. She was the best pony in the world. I learned to canter on my mom's Saddlebred, Nelly, when I was in first or second grade. When I was about 10 years old, my riding changed direction. I grew up riding Saddleseat (often confused with Standardbreds, but completely different) but the closest Saddleseat barn was in PA (I grew up on the NJ coast). So, I switched to hunter/jumper world and was immediately hooked. For those of you that don't know, hunters and jumpers are those that jump fences (anywhere from under 18" to over 5' in height), usually in a sand or grass fenced-in area. I'll give you the shortened version of the next 12 years: for the majority of my riding life (1996-2004) I've ridden with Callan Solem and Carol Thompson at Quiet Winter Farm, located in Colts Neck, NJ. Carol, owner and head trainer at QWF, gave me amazing opportunities over the years. At QWF, I rode some horses that will forever have a piece of my heart (namely, Sinepuxent Bay and Castle Rock). I got the opportunity to show all over the East Coast at "AA" shows and, after my freshman year at Northeastern, I spent three months in Ireland riding and learning about the 3-day eventing world. Unfortunately, when I started college in 2003 my riding life took a blow. I went from riding six days a week to, if I was lucky, riding whenever I got to go home for the holidays.

Then, during the spring '07 semester, I found SMC Stables. I began taking lessons (about $75 a pop) so that I could get my "horse fix." In May, I informed the trainer that I would be going to Florida for the summer for an internship with a PR firm. To my delight, she asked me return in the fall as a rider (not a student) and help her with the sale horses. I was thrilled, to say the least. Now, I wouldn't have to pay to ride.

So, that's where I am now. I began during the first week of September and have been working four sale horses and one customer's horse. And, to add to my joy, I think I've found a "diamond in the rough." Zee, a 3-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, is a spitting image of Callan's grand prix horse, Allison. I just love her. I think she could be a top-level horse when she grows up. My mom is planning to come up to visit next weekend and I'm going to have her look at Zee to get someone else's opinion.

That's about it for the intro. Today's class is about over and I have to run to my next class, Editing. For my next post, I'll talk a little about each horse individually and their progress.