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,