Making a dressage horse

Jack, who has been under saddle for less than a year now, was broken Western. Its secure seat has given both my trainer and I better control and stability while handling some very “baby” moments.

After I was gifted a dressage saddle, I really realized my focus was in making Jack into a dressage horse. I had done some dressage tests before myself and absolutely love patterns. The best part about the sport is exactly what the word dressage means; training. It’s the perfect opportunity to teach Jack how to handle himself and how to behave.

At the end of September, we will be entering our first Western Dressage competition together. We then have another one in October and then November. After that, we will be transitioning to traditional dressage over the winter.

For some reason, the “magic” of dressage has really hit me more than jumping ever had. The circles, the bends, the shoulder-ins, the extended trot, I love all of it. So now we begin the basics of dressage with Jack before the September show; rounding out his turns and circles and perfecting our trot being consistent and a nice free rein. I’m sure I’ll have more blog entries in the future about this endeavor!

Tackling the muck – and our relationship

One of the things my husband and I take on every week is a selection of barn chores. From mucking out stalls, watering, feeding and typical clean up, the extra money is a nice touch for our monthly bill. But it also takes an incredible amount of teamwork to be able to accomplish.

Picture this: 11 stalls of horses needing to be mucked out. Twenty-four horses to feed lunch to. Sweeping, emptying the garbage, and watering to be done in as much time as you actually want to spend doing it. So hence, accomplish the task as efficiently as possible.

Being two people instead of one does definitely works to our advantage. But when we’re cold in the winter or hot in the summer, barn chores can make anyone a bit testy. We do sometimes snap at each other. But it’s how we work through that snappiness that counts.

Eventually after a few weeks of doing chores we started really bonding as a team. We divide the tasks for the day and switch off when one of us gets tired or needs a break. We have figured out a way to work around each other and to take advantage of each other’s strengths and it’s only helped our marriage.

This teamwork and bonding is applied to other things in our life such as household chores. He goes to the laundromat, I fold the laundry. He does hand washing, I load and unload the dishwasher. We both switch off cleaning out the cat box. And when one of us is feeling overwhelmed, we aren’t worried about talking it over and communicating why we feel how we do.

Vacuuming may not be as time consuming as lugging around hay bales and wheelbarrows full of manure, but how we deal with both of them is the same. It’s the same foundation and building blocks to a good relationship.

Product Review: Pyranha No-Bite Fly Spray

Summer can drive any horse owner crazy. The amount of flys, gnats, horseflys and mosquitos attacking our animals is frustrating. It can ruin an entire ride, especially if an angry horsefly is after you! One of my favorite new products to use on Jack before saddling up is Pyranha’s No-Bite Fly Spray. It comes in a green bottle and it also works to repel ticks. New England has had a huge uptick in ticks this year so I definitely wanted to make sure my fly spray offered some protection.

My only complaint with this fly spray is the bottle top. The sprayer comes out more like a vicious stream than a healthy mist and my horse didn’t love this. I had to change the top or put it in another spray bottle.

To purchase, go to Pyranha, Inc. and find your local dealer. Most Tractor Supplys and other such stores do often carry Pyranha products.

(I was in no way paid or given free product to write this review.)


Managing show season

With springtime finally coming to New England, the discussion is now on show season. In a fortunate-unfortunate scenario, both my husband and I enjoy showing. The problem? Sharing a horse. We began negotiations about how to work show season out and eventually came to a compromise.

The key to the answer was simply the fact that I am currently riding Jack while my husband is not yet. However, since Jack hasn’t been off property yet or to a larger show, he will be entered into a lot of in-hand classes. While I can be anxious on show days, my husband is cool as a cucumber. Therefore, he will take Jack into the in-hand classes while I will ride him in Green Horse Walk/Trot once he’s ready for it.

Now most horse couples aren’t like us in this sense. Husbands typically aren’t your showing type. The trick to having a husband during show season is to not just make your husband your servant. Yes, he can be a good groom or hold your horse, but he also needs to feel appreciated. Make sure to pack snacks and sunscreen and give him breaks too. Let him decide what he wants to be responsible for. Don’t order him around.

I know shows can be stressful, but remember at the end of the day no matter the color of your ribbon, your husband is going home with you. Sometimes it’s good to put your marriage before your showing.

Hello and goodbye

My husband and I are very unique in our work schedules. He works early days while I work what I call 1.5 shift (not quite second shift, but just about.) I also work Sunday-Thursday while he works your typical Monday-Friday shift. Although some people would balk at these schedules, there are definitely some pros and cons – especially being a horse family.

The big con of course is the fact that we really have to cherish our time together. We see each other for a sliver of time when I come home before we go to bed and then from Friday evening when he’s out of work to Sunday afternoon when I go in.

However there are pros when it comes to horse time. During the weekdays, I will visit the barn in the mornings and see our gelding, Captain Jack. It’s my own special time with a good deal of piece and quiet at the barn since lessons are usually later and most people are at work.

My husband tends to go in the evenings after work if he can or Sundays while I’m at work. It’s his time to spend with Jack and also have some time to himself. We both use our free time to get chores done around the house and run errands.

On weekends, we tend to visit the barn together at least once a weekend. We take Jack out together, exercise him, groom him and just enjoy him. It’s nice to have the occasional “us” time with him.

It’s taken us a good bit of time to work this out. Our differing work schedules have taken a lot of adjustment, a lot of compromise and a lot of trial and error. Now that it is figured out though, it works out very smoothly. It’s not ideal in any way, but for us, it works.

The journey begins

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

The other day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw a post from one of my horse friends. It detailed examples of how a guy could be a “horse husband.” It pretty much said a man must wait on his wife hand and foot at shows, at home, holding your horse, constantly feeding you, being supportive, etc. The thing is, this post kind of made me angry.

A relationship — whether between your horse and you or your husband and you — is a two-way street. It’s not a black and white, I am your queen and you listen to my every orders. I don’t think that would really work on my husband or my gelding quite frankly. But the post made me think. How many wives struggle balancing their life as a wife and an equestrian?

It can be difficult to figure out if it’s more important to go to the barn to work your horse or stay at home and do the chores. It’s a constant push and pull game as you work to balance work, home life and barn life.

Now I know I don’t have kids (not human children anyway) and that brings in a whole new equation. However this blog is going to be my attempt at helping women like me to figure out the best way to do well in the show ring and in your home.

And the journey begins now.