Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2 Years of Chloe!

Two years ago today, a plain brown OTTB was delivered to the boarding facility at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX, ending my 5 long years of horselessness (Shh, it's a word!).

I'd been browsing Dreamhorse for a resale project pony, now that horse ownership was a little more affordable than it would have been in Hawaii and I stumbled across an ad for a cute mare (small for me, but I wasn't being picky) and decided to check her out.

And the rest, as they say, is history!  I love my Plain Jane pony.  She makes me laugh everyday.
First Jumper Show (stirrups too long, eq VERY lacking, but Chloe was a rockstar!)
Second Jumper Show, movin on up to 2'6"! (still haven't done the recap...I fail at life).
Best friend Crystal in San Antonio
Sometimes she doesn't giraffe...sometimes.

"Mom, it's way too early for a ride.  I'm going back to bed."

Alfalfa and new Jammies!
Fashion Forward Chloe knows that wearing your breakfast is all the rage these days.
"I can haz foodz pleeze?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015

Will the Real Micklem Bridle Please Stand Up?

The last 3 days have been rather interesting in my world.  On the way home from a rather intensive day trip to Oklahoma City for work on Thursday, I was perusing English Tack Trader (I was a passenger, not driving) and came across a post for a "Micklem knock off" that looked extremely similar to the bridle I received.  So I started researching Micklem copies and Micklem knock offs.  I couldn't find anything but when it drove me crazy enough to post on COTH earlier today, one of members found a few websites with similar bridles, though not advertised as Micklems.

Feeling very wary, I privately messaged a Micklem dealer through Facebook and she said based on the photos I sent her of the bridle and the lack of stamp on the crownpiece, that my bridle is in fact a copy and not an authentic Micklem.  My bridle also came with web reins and she stated that Micklems ALWAYS come with rubber reins.
"If this thing doesn't come with cookies, get it off me."

No Rambo Micklem stamp on the crownpiece

I also contacted Horseware USA to see if they would be able to tell me anything about it.  Their representative that I spoke to sent photos of my bridle to Ireland for confirmation.  Ireland responded today that in addition to no stamp on the crown (I asked if it was possibly just a manufacturing defect and if it was possible that the bridle just missed getting a stamp), they also said there were "sharp edges" and the rings used were not consistent with the Micklem bridle.

Y U no buy me real Micklem, Mom?

I'd contacted the seller on Friday to let her know what was going on and that I would wait to file a PayPal dispute until we had heard back from Ireland on the authenticity.  She said that she had ordered it from a fairly well known discount tack website (one that I've used several times with little issues) and that she had kept the rubber reins they came with and sent new web reins with the bridle.  Now that I look at the reins, they have the same rollers on the buckles that every other buckle on the bridle has.  When I spoke to her today, I let her know that Horsewear verified that the bridle was a copy.  She then asked if the bridle had worked for me and if I just wanted to receive a partial discount.  Now, I don't know about you, but if I found out a retailer had sold me a fraudulent bridle and I was about to lose almost half of what I'd paid for it, I'd be asking for it back so that I could get my own money back instead of losing the money.

Faux Micklem.

So now I don't know what to do.  The bridle seems to be of decent quality and make, and I have a pair of rubber reins on the way that someone didn't need and graciously gave to me for the cost of shipping.  I paid $170 for the bridle shipped and she is offering me a $50 refund.  I just don't know if that is enough of a break for me to justify keeping the bridle.  Someone commented on my COTH post that sometimes the copies are of better quality and if I liked it it shouldn't matter and I should keep the bridle.  I responded that had I only paid $100 or less, I probably wouldn't care one bit.  But I did pay close to full retail and it bothers me that I didn't receive what I thought I was paying for.

What do you guys think I should do?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Monsoons and Micklems

We were supposed to have gotten another show under our belts last weekend but a Thunderstorm/Monsoon last Thusday laughed in our face and effectively rained out the show.  The barn is about 25 minutes away from where I live and there were a few clouds but it was still sunshiny when I left home.  It got darker and darker on the way out to the barn and little drops of spirit crushing rain started to fall.  By the time I pulled into the driveway an all out downpour was well under way.  Since Kansas sometimes has a tendency to piss rain for about 20 minutes and then dry out a little bit, so I puttered around the barn organizing the chaos that is my stuff (I have so much horse stuff!  How does it feel like I don't have what I need all the time?!).  An hour later, the arena was flooded and there was no sign of the rain letting up so I admitted defeat and went home.

Face buried in the grass of the newly opened up pasture.

The email that the show was cancelled came about 10:30 the next morning.  At least they rescheduled it, and now we can do the other June show next weekend since they rescheduled the show to July. Just as well, I figured, considering how our last lesson went.  Chloe wasn't bad by any means, but she just came out really wound up.  Maybe it was excitement to do her job?  Either way, we had several sewing machine trot and canter steps in the warm-up and on the approach to the jumps.  We stopped and backed more than a few times.  It was a bit warmer than it has been this spring and the temps popped up to 84*.  I figured that would make Chloe more lazy than normal, but boy was I wrong!  We ended the lesson with foamy sweat and a sweat beard from Chloe working herself harder than I was asking her to do and race llama-ing around the courses.  Anyway, she got a good hose and was no worse for the wear.

Sweaty overachiever is sweaty.
Also, why does her chest look so narrow??
Sweat beard.  Because we are awesome like that.
In other news, I was perusing English Tack Exchange on Facebook the weekend before last while working up some more energy to get out to the barn and ride after work.  I came across a brand new Micklem Competition Bridle for decent price and decided I hadn't had an impulse buy in awhile, so why not?!  I contacted the seller and worked out the details. I don't think that bridle was for sale for more than 30 minutes.

Because I'm a Star Wars nerd.

I'd also been waffling back and forth between whether to get a Micklem or a PS of Sweden High Jump Revolution.  The PS Bridle is almost double the Micklem price, so I've been trying to adult and budget and save, rather than throwing handfuls of money towards Sweden and making my husband live on Top Ramen for the rest of the month.  I was getting close to having what I needed put away and the PS bridle was sold out again.  I'd also been trying to find the Micklem Deluxe Competition bridle, because fancy stitching is fancy and I like being fancy.  However, other than Dover, who wanted me to pay $25 just to ship the damn thing, no one else had a brown F/S in stock.  I even tried contacting some shops overseas just to see if they had any in stock.  Only one of the shops got back to me, located in the UK, and their batch of Deluxe Competition bridles have been on backorder since last August!
Courtesy of the Dover Catalog.  Fancy bridle is fancy!
Micklem Deluxe Competition Bridle

Anyway, the regular Micklem Competition bridle popped up and snatched it up.  It arrived last Friday and I noted that the leather wasn't as bad as I was expecting, that putting it together was about as hellish as I was expecting, and that indeed, this bridle is not super adjustable so if your horse doesn't have a Micklem shaped-head, forget about it.  I don't have any glorious Micklem pictures yet, partially because I wasn't sure it was going to fit and I still need to punch some holes in the nose strap and throat strap if I keep it.  I've been able to get 1 ride in it so far and I can't tell if I like it yet or not.  This particular bridle also came with web reins (no rubber in the web, just leather grips), which surprised me as I was expecting rubber reins and I can't decide if I hate the web reins or not.  It feels like I have a hard time holding onto them and they keep getting long.  So if I keep the bridle, I'll probably order the matching rubber reins.  I'll have photos and such soon!  And probably a post about how the hell that damn thing is supposed to fit.

And, as they say...

Friday, May 29, 2015

I'm Not Dead....

Just have a lot going on right now!  But rest assured, I'm still here.  I've moved, added a bunny to the brood, and work is going crazy. Thus, I present you with a photo dump, just so you know I'm still alive!

Diz is my cozy place.  No Hoomins Allowed!!!

When you slobber over your feed so much you end up wearing it.
Chloe regrets nothing!!!

Hiding out in the Bunny Blanket Fort.  Also No Hoomins Allowed zone.

Workin hard.
Chloe thinks she has the meanest mom in the barn because she has martingale sweat.

Windy bunny.  She's not really new, but it's a long story.
She's an Affection Whore.

Chloe and I are planning to head to the KHJA Jumper show on Sunday, June 7, I promise to have updates and to post before then!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bunny Show Jumping...It's A Thing

I don't know about you, but my levels of horse crazy as a kid meant that every animal my family had was taught to jump at one point or another.  The cocker spaniel jumped courses for lunch meat treats, the cat jumped a sideways stool in the hallway for a tasty cat treat.  I even made courses for myself and jumped them in the backyard (FYI, the set of human jumps my childhood bestie made for me as a birthday present is still one of the best gifts ever!  We also used to set up little courses in her back yard and coax her llama to jump with grain.  We were jump crazy.)  So there you have it.  I was the weird crazy, horse-obsessed kid that liked to jump everything and taught my pets to jump all the thingz.

Fast forward to my adult years.  We became bunny owners in 2010 and again in 2011.  Imagine my shock, awe and pure excitement to learn about Bunny Show Jumping.  Yes, my friends, Bunny Show Jumping is a thing!

You didn't believe me, did you!!!
Photo from horsecollaborative.com

Now, my bunnies haven't learned how to jump anything, though August (who is the more athletic of the two) has been known to leap over the bunny tunnel as a short cut to the Treat Lady (me) or to leap over Heff when he is feeling particularly ornery and tries to chase her. It's rather comical to watch him hop up to chase her, she just leaps over the top of him like, EFF YO GAME, HOLMES!

I imagine this would be an accurate depiction of Heff's jump:
an uncalculated flining of one's body.
Photo from dailymail.co.uk
Anyway, back to the Bunny Show Jumping.  A few fun facts according to Wikipedia:

1.  Bunny Show Jumping originated in Sweden in the '70s with rules based on horse show jumping.  The rules have since evolved to better suit the bunnies.  It came over to America in 2001 with the first competition in the US in 2011.

2.  The world record jump is 39.4 inches by Snoflingans Majesty of Night ("Aysel") in Sweden in 2013. (And I thought there were some silly horse names out there!)

I don't think this is actually an Olympic sport...
but how cool would that be?!
Photo from thesun.co.uk
3.  Bunny jumping competitions consist of a straight course, a crooked course, a high jump and a long jump.  The straight and crooked courses have 5 levels from Mini to Elite (based on height of the jumps).  The bunnies have to earn points to advance to the next level.
This must be the Mini Level
Photo from dailymail.co.uk
And now, because you probably don't believe me, I present to you...BUNNY SHOW JUMPING!!!

Just don't expect to see any adventures into Bunny Show Jumping with Heff and August...this photo pretty much sums up both of their feelings on the matter:

The Disapproval is strong with this one.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hard Day's Night

Last night started off with a relaxing trail ride through the pastures at the barn, since the arena was very busy and I felt like Chloe could probably use a break from schooling in the ring.  So we meandered for about 20 minutes and then warmed up a little in the field so she could have a little gallop, which she loved.

Her best imitation of a Hoover Vacuum Cleaner. Cleaning up spilled feed.

Pretty sure there's danger over there!

Kansas scenery.  Spoiler Alert:  It all pretty much looks like this.

The pond.

Tuttle Creek way off in the distance.

I turned the mare back out for the evening and came home to this:

Diz iz our bed!

I went about my evening routine, which always begins with feeding the bunnies.  Heff wasn't wanting to eat so I knew he wasn't feeling well because the little dude lives for food.  Then I started to worry.  And offer him treats.  He was eating the treats so I thought perhaps he had just eaten a lot of hay or something and was just a bit full.  I offered him a few more small treats over the next hour and he was still eating them but his enthusiasm for them seemed to be diminishing.  By this time, it was after 11 pm and my only option if I was going to have to take him to the vet is the local university vet hospital, which is notoriously outrageously expensive during regular hours and I was scared to think what damage an after hours visit would do to my checkbook.  Since he was still eating treats, though not voraciously, I decided to give him a little time to just let him be for a little while.  I set an alarm for every two hours.

2:00 AM - Heff was out from hiding but not interested in treats.  I figured his moving was a good sign and he was not hunched up, indicating that he was in pain, but laying flat on his tummy.  I figured if he was the same at 4 it was time to take him in.

4:00 AM - Heff was more eager for a treat.  Whew!

6:00 AM - Heff had some breakfast pellets, muched a little hay, and was working on his baby romaine lettuce leaves when I left for work.  I will still monitor him at lunchtime to make sure he is on the mend, but he seems to be back to his food-loving self.  My best guess is he either had a mild case of gas or GI Stasis (pretty much like colic in horses) but it resolved on its own.
Much like with horses, eating and pooping are great signs!

Meanwhile, as my lunch will be spent checking on the Fur Kid, it might also serve as a naptime for me.  *Yawn*.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

KHJA Pony Club Show Day 2 - Jumpers

Day 2 of the KHJA Pony Club Show was Jumper day.  I was most excited for this day and was happy that the threat of thunderstorms held off and they just delayed the show an hour and a half to accommodate the weather passing through.  Chloe looked a little surprised when I trekked out to the pasture to get her but was a complete doll getting on the trailer to go to day two of the show.

We immediately claimed the paddocks we had used the day before and Chloe just dropped her head to eat grass upon being released into the paddock with her pasture buddy.  We had a bit of a rush to get ready for our 2' Hopeful Jumper division as there were no entries in the 18" division that was being run prior to our classes.  No need to worry, Chloe walked quietly to the warm-up area and stood quietly to be mounted.  Huge improvement from the day before when she did two big spooks in a row walking past the bleachers when she realized there were HORSES in the arena....*faceplam*.

Pasture buddies at the show are the BEST!

We walked quietly around the teeny warm-up for a few laps and then I had to use LEG to get the mare to move forward!  Lesson learned, jump a bunch of courses the day before you want to do hunters and the mare will be SUPER QUIET.  Warm-up was short and sweet.  Then we stopped to learn the course.  I was a little worried about the courses because for a beginner level division, the courses were VERY technical with several tight turns, which we have not really gotten into yet.  Our division was Optimum Time, so I wasn't too worried about our speed and just wanted to focus on getting over all the jumps.

I took a deep breath and trotted into the ring resolved to do whatever it took to make the tight turns work without circling if at all possible.  Chloe immediately decided that the poles and flower boxes set against the arena wall were absolutely going to eat her.  She offered quite a nice haunches in all the way to the first jump.  And then when she realized she didn't have to be pretty, she just had to get the job done, she relaxed and happily went forward over every jump.  I almost fell off around the turn from fence 3 to fence 4 as apparently the billets on my saddle have started to break in and between the saddle's tendency to slide a litte forward on Chloe's downhill built back and the billets, the girth became a little loose when the saddle slipped forward!  You can't really see it in the video but I stepped down really hard in the left stirrup to fix it and then tried my best to stay super balanced the rest of the course.   

I just thought this still was cool.

Our trip was good enough for 4th and I was pretty thrilled with Chloe, mostly because even though she didn't like the flowers against the rail just on the other side of the first jump, she forgot all about them once she locked on to the first jump.

One of these days she will be less hollow...

Next round was more of the same, pretty technical turns for a beginner division but Chloe listened and tried to do everything I asked her.

Our round put us in 6th place, still good enough for some satin!

Last round was the Jackpot class and Chloe and I were both starting to feel kind of tired from our classes yesterday, but she still went into the arena and tried her heart out.  All of the clear rounds came back to do a jump-off, which I don't have on video.  We pulled one rail because I rated her a little too much coming into the fence and she got a little too close and is still figuring out how to rock back onto her haunches (which were a little sore from the jumping on Saturday so I don't really blame her).

Even with our rail, we were good enough for 3rd place (thank you Optimum Time!) and almost enough prize money to pay for one of our hunter classes!

Still with eyes and ears on those horse-eating flower boxes!

All in all, I am so proud of Chloe and how professional she acted at her first show!  No major spooks or issues and I think she went even better at the show than she does at home.  Perhaps the mare is a bit of a show-off.... :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Recap: KHJA Pony Club Show Day 1 - Hunters

Warning:  This post is kind of long.  If you want the TL;DR version, here you go:  We went to our first show, we jumped the hunter courses on Saturday looking very Jumpery.  No one fell off.  Now please feel free to look at my ghetto video photos and slightly shaky (thank you Non-Horse Hubby for catching a few courses!) video evidence that Chloe can kind of hunter.

This past weekend, Chloe and I went to our first show ever together.  I was a bit apprehensive, Chloe and I have never hauled anywhere and ridden right off the trailer and the last time she'd gotten in a trailer was back in October, when we moved to our new barn.  I had it in my mind that since we are decidedly NOT hunters (video evidence to proves this shortly), that we would still go to Hunter day and use it as schooling and to teach Chloe about horse show life.  I tried to keep my expectations and goals low I don't care if we don't get any ribbons (LIES AND PROPAGANDA!  GIVE ME THAT SWEET SATIN!), I just want to get through the course with minimal blowing of OTTB minds.

I've really only been jumping Chloe consistently for about 5 months, with most of that consisting of trotting x's and single verticals.  We've really only been cantering jumps for about 3 weeks and cantering courses for 2 weeks.  We started with lots of forward paces and lots of long spots (JUMP ALL THE THINGSSSSSS!), but Chloe really has come a very long way in a short time and I can't stop smiling about this weekend!

Ghetto photos from video, but it's what we've got!

We got to the show and were lucky enough to snag two of the grass paddocks on the fairgrounds so that we wouldn't have to keep all 8 of the horses tied to the trailer all day, which in my opinion was the perfect situation for Chloe's first show!  I turned her loose with her buddies and may or may not have suggested that she "self-longe" for a bit before our classes.  She took my suggestion to heart for one trot across the paddock and then figured eating grass would be more fun.

The warm-up situation was a little crazy.  We're talking several horses stuffed and jumping in a space about the size of a small dressage arena (probably smaller).  Chloe handled being run up on, horses jumping and cantering past her like she'd been going to shows her whole life.  She was a bit forward and up, not uncommon for her, but she listened to me the entire time.

We did a not to be judged round over the 18" course, just to see what she would do when she was in the ring.  She went in and jumped around like a champ.  Like a giraffe, but like champ nonetheless.  Chloe doesn't really have her flying changes yet so we did a lot of simple changes on the course, which I think kind of helped us re-establish our pace throughout the course.

I like big butts and I cannot lie?

After the warm-up round, we started our 2' Schooling Hunter classes.  For her first time out at a show, Chloe was awesome on all 3 courses.  She listened when I asked for the downward transitions or when I asked her to wait in the lines and she did't get out of control.  We had our moments of very forward and she is still a bit hollow with her head up in the air, but I think if we keep working on it, she will get there.

Our rounds were controlled enough to get us two 5ths and a 6th out of 10 or 11 horses!  We entered the flat class for the hell of it because points and year-end satin, but we didn't place as Chloe misunderstood and thought it was Schooling Giraffe Under Saddle.  Let me tell you, had it been Giraffe Under Saddle, we would've won that mother!
Big butts, baby jumps.

All in all, I couldn't have been more thrilled with my pony.  My trainer got a new trailer last week that loads from the side and Chloe jumped right in (last time she was on a side load the ramp was a little slippery from the rain and she slipped off of it, making her leery of side loads and ramps.).  She hopped off the trailer with no histrionics and hung out in a paddock for a few hours, jumped a few courses like she'd been going to shows all her life, played giraffe in the hack class (Okay Chloe, I get it.  You do not like to Hunter.), won a few ribbons and then hopped back into the trailer like a rockstar.  Unfortunately, I only got video of the warm-up and 1st round (Thank you non-horsey hubby!) but it is much better than nothing!

Warm up 18" round

2' Schooling Hunter, 1st Round

Jumper Day Recap coming soon!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Heff and August Photo Dump

I'm still waiting for my video from Hunter day from this past weekend, so today I will spam your eyeballs with cute photos of my little Fur Kids!

Bunny Snuggles

Um...I'm missing two halves of two bunnies!

Sure they're cute, but they leave a pile of mass destruction wherever they go!

Finally figured out how to jump on this bed.  It is a little higher than they are used to.

"Diz bed is MINEZ! Y U on my bed, hoomin??!!"

The Laziest Bunny award goes to Heff.

And I will leave you with this:  Heff playing is favorite Tunnel Troll game: