HFH’s 9th Annual Ride for the Cure

Last Saturday, I hauled Story out to the hunt club’s annual Ride for the Cure fundraiser ride. This was the club’s ninth year hosting this event, which is held in conjunction with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to raise money for breast cancer research. HFH is consistently one of the top fundraising teams in the region, and this year was no different- we raised about $2,000!

Most of our group

The ride drew about 25 people, and we rode as one big group. I was excited to see how Story did with a group that size, as we were part of a much smaller group at our last HFH outing. She was an absolute star! We stuck to the middle of the group for most of the ride and edged up to the front for the last third or so. The pace was brisk- lots of trotting and a little cantering- but Story never got overexcited or anxious. She prefers to do whatever the group is doing- so if most horses are trotting, she wants to trot- but she isn’t rude or nervous about it. She just jogs along until you give her some rein, at which point she picks up a real trot.

Riding under the bluff is absolutely the coolest.

The only thing she really needs to improve is slowing down and stopping. She’s not terrible about it, but I really have to nag her to get her to stop. There’s no head-throwing or rooting or pulling; she just kind of ignores my half-halts until they become very strong. (This is the opposite of how she is in the arena, where if I think about stopping, she slams on the brakes.) Once she’s stopped, she stands very quietly. She’s currently in a D-ring snaffle, so I may try her in a kimberwicke next time we go out. (Also open to suggestions here- let me know if there’s a bit you like that’s a little stronger than a snaffle!)

We rode for about two and a half hours, and Story felt great for all of it. When I bought her, I was a little concerned about how well she’d hold up for long, fast rides. I’m used to riding Thoroughbreds who can gallop all day. But Story was fine! She was just as fresh and full of go at the end of our ride as she was at the beginning. Her legs were cold and tight the next day and she greeted me at the gate with her usual bright-eyed vigor.

she’s so cute I can’t even stand it! look at that snoot!

Story is still pretty bad about trailering. She is loathe to get in alone, but seems okay if another horse is loaded before her and stays in the trailer while she gets on. While this doesn’t address the root of the problem, it’s a useful piece of information! I can always load Moe with her at home and someone at the hunt is usually happy to volunteer their horse for loading help. My trainer and I continue to work on trailering, and hopefully Story will come around sooner rather than later.

Opening Hunt is in two weeks, and I have my fingers crossed I’ll make it! I had a tympanomastoidectomy last week to remove a cholesteatoma (which is basically a non-cancerous cyst) from my right ear. The procedure involved drilling a hole in my head directly behind my ear. I feel pretty good, but my ear is very sore and the incision site is exactly where my helmet harness lays. I have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon next week, so hopefully he’ll clear me to ride (and hopefully I’ll feel well enough to wear a helmet for 2+ hours). I’ve missed hunting and I’m really excited to rejoin the field!

Overcoming Ring Sourness

I am cautiously optimistic that Story’s ring sour behavior may be resolved. We’ve had several consecutive rides where she was generally happy to go forward without a fuss. I appreciate the suggestions on my previous post on the topic! Here’s what my trainer and I tried, and what I think got her to turn the corner.

First, I began riding her during my weekly lesson. More time off won’t hurt Madigan, and Story needs to increase her fitness level for the upcoming hunt season. I also thought it would be helpful to have my trainer available to help me. My trainer suggested we try to make the arena a pleasant place to be, so my first few lessons consisted of walking around the large outdoor arena searching for piles of sweet feed placed strategically throughout the ring. There were piles on jumps, on a bucket on the ground, on working equitation obstacles, on a chair. Story’s pretty food motivated, so she liked this game and happily walked from food station to food station. When rainy weather kept us confined to the indoor arena, my trainer periodically fed Story a peppermint or alfalfa nugget during our lesson.

she’s so cute I can’t even stand it!

When I rode without my trainer, I focused on keeping our rides very easy and relatively short. I asked Story to walk and halt, to back up, and to do a little leg yield toward the rail. Most of the time, I rode for around 25 minutes. I think this was beneficial for helping Story understand that the ring isn’t always a place of difficult and endless work.

However, I think the biggest piece of resolving her behavior is simple persistence. I carry my dressage whip every ride, and I use it. Story’s go-to move is slamming on the brakes when I apply my leg to ask her to go forward. When she does that, I cluck at her and squeeze with my leg. If she responds, I stop. If she doesn’t respond, I kick her. If she responds, I stop. If she doesn’t respond, I tap her with the dressage whip behind my leg.

Story frequently escalated when I used the dressage whip by kicking out with her hind leg on the side with the whip. She’ll swivel around sometimes, and has also tried small bucks. She once attempted to remove her front feet from the ground. (It was a pretty halfhearted try.) I just keep tapping until she moves forward. When she does, I stop tapping and rub her neck and praise her.

“how could you ask me, an extremely cute horse, to trot?”

When I first got her, it took me about 10 minutes to get her moving forward again after she stopped. Both the number of stopping incidents and the time needed to get her moving again have gradually decreased. Over the last week, she hasn’t stopped more than once and it hasn’t required more than one tap with the dressage whip to get her going. During this week’s lesson, she happily trotted and cantered when I asked and even went over a small crossrail.

My hunch is that for a long time Story was successful in evading work with this behavior. I can see how it might be a little scary to have to ride out the kicks and bucks and hops, and I can definitely see how easy it is to be frustrated by it! Fortunately (unfortunately?), I’ve ridden so many weird and nappy horses that Story doesn’t even make the top 10. (I tell her this every time she tries something.) She doesn’t feel dangerous. She never panics. She just waits for you to give up.

Hopefully this behavior is behind us! We’re continuing to work on loading in order to have a full, fun hunt season this winter. We’re off cubbing next weekend, so fingers crossed Story gets in the trailer (and doesn’t mind foxhounds).

EPM Strikes Again

Several years ago, Moe was diagnosed with and treated for EPM. I was surprised- he presented few symptoms and I assumed they were signs of age-related maladies. When he began stopping at jumps, I knew something was wrong. This was extremely unusual (I think I can count on one hand the number of times he’s stopped at a jump), but I assumed he had a touch of arthritis bothering him, as he was in his early twenties. I scheduled a lameness exam with our regular vet, who picked up on subtle signs of neurological disease. She ordered a blood test for EPM, which was positive, and Moe was treated with ReBalance (sulfadiazine + pyrimethamine). He recovered well and went on to continue jumping and doing dressage until I fully retired him a couple of years ago.

a queen

Gina was diagnosed with EPM last week and her presentation could not have been more different. She and Moe were turned out with Madigan and Story for several days, as their usual paddock didn’t have water due to plumbing work at the barn. In the evening, I brought Moe and Gina in the barn to eat (and to treat Gina for a small ulcer on her eye) before turning them back out. Last Tuesday, Gina didn’t come to the gate at dinner time. I thought that was unusual, but not extraordinary. Gina is a deeply suspicious horse and will often try to avoid being caught if something sets off her internal alarms. (This can be something as benign as a person opening and closing the horse trailer tack room door.) She let me catch her and lead her in. I noticed she was moving slowly and thought perhaps she’d overdone it running around or had kicked too vigorously at Madigan. She let me treat her eye and ate dinner without a problem.

she was never really much for jumping in an arena but she was good at it

I called the vet Wednesday morning to see when someone could come out to check her over. No one would be in my area until the following Tuesday, so I offered to haul Gina in if it meant she could be seen quicker. An appointment was available Thursday morning, which was fine with me. But by Wednesday evening, Gina was significantly worse. She didn’t come to the gate and struggled with balance and coordination during her walk to the barn. She staggered as though she had no control of her hind legs. My immediate thought was that it would be a terrible idea to haul her to the vet in the morning- I was afraid she would fall in the trailer or fall trying to back out of the trailer. Since water was restored to the barn, I left her and Moe in their usual paddock overnight and resolved to call the vet clinic first thing in the morning. At this point, I suspected Gina might have EPM- it’s common in our area and her symptoms (ataxia in rear limbs, muscle atrophy that I’d chalked up to old age and lack of work) matched those of the disease.

always at her best on the trails!

On Thursday morning, I called the clinic to let them know I wouldn’t be in because I had concerns about safely trailering my horse. They were understanding and made room in their schedule to send a vet out Friday afternoon. I was relieved. I was also worried and upset that Friday might be Gina’s last day on earth. She is 26. Her symptoms seemed severe. Did she have a chance for recovery? Would the vet recommend putting her down? I wanted to do what was best and kindest for her, but that doesn’t mean I was less sad or distressed about what that might mean.

Fortunately, the vet didn’t suggest that at all. She agreed Gina had EPM and recommended beginning a course of diclazuril + levamisole immediately. She also gave Gina a steroid injection and advised me to give her Banamine for a few days. I was so relieved I nearly cried.

Gina has improved a little over the last few days. She walks more confidently and staggers less. Her appetite remains good, and she is very good about taking her daily medication. She is not back to normal, but she’s making progress. The vet is optimistic Gina will improve enough to get back to her favorite retirement activity: chasing Moe around and threatening to bite him on the butt. I sure hope so! Gina deserves to enjoy a long and luxurious retirement (well, as luxurious as we get around here).

Reactivating FeedXL

Several years ago, I subscribed to an equine nutrition service called FeedXL. While I found it useful and liked it a lot, I eventually let my subscription lapse. Once I settled on a diet that worked for my horses, I didn’t need it any more.

Many things have changed in the years since I last used it: Madigan is an adult, Story joined the herd, and I feed hay free-choice. It seemed like a good time to reactivate my account.

Entering Madigan’s details

FeedXL is easy to use. After creating an account and selecting a plan, you enter information about your horse and what your horse eats. The most difficult part of this process is estimating your pasture or hay quality; if you’re like me and haven’t had either tested, it’s a bit of a guess. For example, my horses eat bermuda hay. It’s good quality in that it’s soft, green, smells good, and is free from weeds, pests, and mold. But I don’t know how much selenium it has or if should be rated as “good” or “best”. Entering feed is much more straightforward, as FeedXL has a database of over 40,000 feeds and supplements. If the product you feed isn’t in the database, you can add it yourself. Once everything your horse eats is added to their diet, FeedXL provides an analysis. If your horse’s diet is lacking, you can use FeedXL’s Feed Finder or Supplement Finder tools to find a feed or supplement to fill in the gaps.

I was primarily interested in finding out how balanced Story and Madigan’s diets are. Both are easy keepers. Story is straight-up fat and Madigan is chubby. They eat a small amount of grain every day because it’s the easiest way to feed them medication. (Story is on Equioxx and Madigan is on Platinum Skin & Allergy.) I suspected their diets were lacking, but wanted to see what was missing before searching northeastern Oklahoma feed stores for a ration balancer or ordering my favorite equine multivitamin online.

Diet analysis

As you can see, Madigan is deficient in a few areas. Luckily, these deficiencies can be corrected by increasing the amount of salt in his diet and adding a multivitamin. (I don’t do free choice salt any more after Madigan gnawed down a 50 lb block in two days a couple of years ago. Truly a special creature.)

Since the horses’ diets and workloads won’t change much over the winter, I plan to cancel FeedXL after this month and re-subscribe in the spring when the pasture comes in. A standard plan subscription for four horses ran me $33/month, which I think is a reasonable rate.

Have you used FeedXL? Do you enjoy tinkering with your horses’ diets? I prefer to keep it simple and keep costs down as much as possible, and FeedXL is a pretty useful tool for that!

Barn Improvement

Early one July evening, Johnny and I were out feeding the horses and the barn cat when the sky grew dark and the wind picked up. Heavy rain began, so I shut the barn’s north doors and stood in the aisleway waiting for the horses to finish eating. Johnny started walking back to the house. Suddenly, I heard a very loud cracking noise followed by a tremendous boom. I ran out the south doors to see what happened and saw Johnny standing about halfway to the house, gesticulating wildly at something behind me. I turned around and discovered the trailer shed next to the barn had been blown over by a gust of wind. The support posts snapped, collapsing the west wall onto the trailer and flinging the shed’s roof on top of the barn.

well that’s not good

I wasn’t terribly surprised. The previous owners built the shed to house their enormous Class A RV, which meant the shed was very tall. It often swayed and creaked in the wind. It was built right next to the barn, so it rubbed on the barn roof in high winds. I’m impressed the shed lasted as long as it did.

While the old shed wasn’t perfect, it was nice to have somewhere relatively out of the elements to house my trailer. I called my hay supplier, who lives across the street from me. He had a new storage barn built last year, and I wanted to know who built it. He’s very particular and very straightforward, so I knew I could trust his opinion of his builder. I received a glowing recommendation for a local metal building specialist, who stopped by the next day to figure out how to remove the collapsed shed without damaging the trailer or the barn.

I’m still not sure how he managed it, but both the barn roof and the trailer came away unscathed other than some damage to one of the barn’s gutters. The builder drew up plans for a new trailer shed and suggested some improvements like moving it a few feet away from the barn and pouring concrete to form a drainage channel between the barn and the new shed. I figured now was a good time to make more improvements, so I also asked him to add an outdoor wash rack on the northeast corner of the barn, level the dirt-floored stalls with screenings, and install mats in all four stalls.

Construction on the new shed began this week, and it already looks sturdier than the old building! That’s the good news. The bad news is the crew hit a water line in two different place while digging. The water lines near the barn are a nonsensical mess of dead lines, weird junctions, and inexplicable layouts.

my builder insists this will be the nicest building on my place when it’s finished

This has turned into a wholesale plumbing overhaul, as Johnny and I figured it’s probably more economical to have plumbing repairs done while the plumber and equipment are here (not to mention it will be nice to know where the water lines are)! Several plumbing repairs are needed inside the barn: the toilet supply line broke last winter when the space heater shut off after a power outage, the bathroom sink doesn’t work despite our best efforts to figure out what’s wrong with it, the hot water heater has been disconnected since a pipe burst the year we moved in, and the spigots in the indoor wash rack leak. So in addition to installing new lines, moving hydrants, and installing a shutoff for the barn, the plumber is fixing the interior plumbing problems and replacing the hot water heater with an electric tankless heater. We’re also going to replace the tack room’s window unit AC with a unit that provides heat and air so we won’t have to run a space heater in it (which we do to keep the pipes from freezing in the winter).

new, (hopefully) non-scary wash going in!

I’m really excited for these improvements and repairs! I’m looking forward to having a functional bathroom in the barn again as well as having hot water to soak feed in the winter. The outdoor wash rack will be a nice improvement, too. I’ve never used the indoor one since my barn’s concrete is very slippery and the horses are all deeply suspicious of the stocks in the rack. (It is very convenient for hanging wet, muddy blankets, though.) I’m also looking forward to leveling the stalls and putting mats in. My horses are rarely stalled, but they do spend part of the day hanging out in them (as the back of the stalls open into the paddock). Mats will certainly make the minimal amount of cleaning required easier.

After this is wrapped up, I think the only thing left on my barn improvement list will be swapping the fluorescent lights in the aisle for LEDs and reorganizing the tack and feed rooms!

Story Goes Trail Riding

I’ve had Story for about a month, and the closest I’ve come to a trail ride on her is hacking around the hay meadow with one of our friends. She was very good, which I thought was a promising sign. But there’s no better way to see how a horse will be on trails than to, you know, actually take them somewhere and see how it goes.

Story and I headed out to Flint Creek to ride with Harvard Fox Hounds on a lowkey trail ride on Saturday. Harvard hunts hundreds of acres in the area, which is the one of the most beautiful places in the state. It’s close to the Arkansas border; the terrain is very hilly and densely forested. It reminds of the area of Tennessee where I grew up, which is probably why I like it so much! The terrain can be tough since many trails are steep and the soil is loose and rocky in some areas.

Headed to climb those hills in the distance.

Story was an absolute hag about loading. I’m not sure if it’s the ramp or trailering in general that she doesn’t like, but we have to address it either way! That, combined with unexpected road construction, meant I pulled in exactly at 10 AM- when the ride was supposed to start. Luckily, a few friends didn’t mind waiting for me to throw tack and hoof boots on Story, and by 10:20 AM I climbed aboard and we set out.

Our leader chose to go east, which meant the very first thing we did was cross Flint Creek. The crossing is very wide and relatively shallow, and the water is crystal clear all the way to the creek’s rocky bottom. I’m not sure Story realized the water was there until her hooves were in it! She seemed surprised and stepped sideways a few times, then followed our friends across. On the other side, she was a little wide-eyed but generally calm, curious, and obedient.

Leading the group down the trail.

We rode for about an hour and half and Story was absolutely perfect! She was happy to be anywhere in the group – front, back, or middle. She didn’t mind horses close to her. She trotted and cantered quietly with the group and was easily rated in the D-ring snaffle she usually goes in. Nothing spooked her. For most of the ride I let her hack on the buckle, and she was relaxed and happy. You’d think this horse had been on a hundred trail rides, not that she’d spent her life competing as a fancy show hunter.

Hanging out in the middle of the group

I couldn’t be happier with how Story’s first trail ride went! While trail riding isn’t a perfect analogue to foxhunting, I do think Story will make a terrific hunt horse. She’s enrolled in baby school with my trainer to work on loading and standing quietly at the mounting block, but those things are fairly minor and fixable issues. We continue to work on her ring sour behavior- it’s too early to say if that will improve or resolve. Now that hay season is over, I can take her for conditioning work in the hay meadow. The goal is to have her ready for Opening Hunt in November!

On My List

You’d think after a lifetime of owning horses and seven years of working at a tack shop, I would have every possible piece of tack and apparel an equestrian could need or want. You’d be right, for the most part. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing on my to-buy list. Here’s what I’ve got my eye on:

Kerrits Groundwork Waterproof Sneaker: I don’t like wearing my regular sneakers to horse shows (or around the barn). My feet always feel unpleasantly moist after walking through damp grass or rinsing off a horse. I also don’t like wearing my waterproof Bean boots because they’re heavy and hot when worn all day. I’ve been thinking of buying Ariat’s waterproof sneaker for months, but was put off by reviews complaining about poor fit and durability. I was excited to see this offering from Kerrits; the price point is a bit better than Ariat’s and I’ve had a lot of success with Kerrits products over the years.

Ecogold Secure Hunter Pad: I own exactly one shaped saddle pad, and boy does it get a workout during foxhunting season. My hunt isn’t so traditional they’ll ask someone to leave over a square pad, but I like to look the part. Story is shaped like a whiskey barrel, so investing in a quality non-slip pad might be in my best interest!

Ride iQ Subscription: Ride iQ is an app that offers audio lessons for equestrians. Last winter, I won a six-week subscription, which of course coincided with a weekend I was out of town followed by a couple of weeks of dreadful weather. I didn’t get to use it as much as I would have liked, but I did find the lessons useful for having more structured and productive rides. I didn’t subscribe at the time because I wasn’t riding more than a couple of times a week. Now that I’m riding Madigan more often and working toward goals other than “remember the test” and “make sure horse doesn’t do anything real weird”, I think I’d utilize this app more!

Mikmar Dressage Comfort Girth: My only regret from my time at the tack shop is not buying this girth with my employee discount. It was the only girth the store’s saddle fitter recommended, and customers raved about how much better their horses went while wearing it. Madigan has nearly outgrown my largest dressage girth, so this is on my birthday wishlist!

I’d love to hear if you have experience with any of these products, or if you have other options you like!

ODS Summer Oasis Recap

In a fit of optimism, I entered Madigan in last weekend’s dressage show, despite him having had June, July, and half of August off due to headshaking (June), travel (July), and heat (August). I signed us up for two Training Level tests, figuring that it would at least be a fun day and a learning experience. And it was! It was not, however, our best or highest scoring outing. (I think it might have been our lowest scoring outing?)

Snacking outside the warmup ring

A couple of weeks ago, Madigan turned up with a small spur rub after our lesson. I didn’t want to make it worse, so I elected to ride without spurs last week while preparing for the show. He was surprisingly good, so I left my spurs at home on Saturday. This turned out to be a mistake! He plodded around T-2 at turtle speed while I kicked him every two strides to keep him going. It felt like the longest test of my life!

I had 45 minutes between my first and second tests, so I opted to stay on Madigan so he wouldn’t think we were finished for the day. (You may recall that he was not enthused about a second test way back in March at the Cowtown Classic.) One of the barn rats retrieved a pair of spurs for me while I looked over T-3.

We got off to a bad start with a crooked, above-the-bit halt and things didn’t improve much from there. We had some really nice moments (mostly at the canter) but had some very ugly ones, too (like missing our right lead twice before picking it up). The judge was fair but not generous- she rewarded us with several 7s and one 8, but dinged us heavily on movements that weren’t executed well.

While this certainly wasn’t our best show, I felt it had a lot of positive takeaways. Madigan was well behaved at a new venue and handled competing in an outdoor ring just fine. (All of his shows have been in indoors, though we do ride in an outdoor ring at home when weather permits.) He continues to be unfazed by anything anyone does in the warmup, doesn’t get upset when horses come or go, and eats and drinks well throughout the show. The things we struggled with at the show are some of the same things we struggle with at home- impulsion, keeping a lid on change attempts, reaching into the contact. Really, for a 5 year old who had the summer off, Madigan was pretty good.

There are no more rated shows on the calendar until 2024, so we have all winter to work on our problems!

Ring Sour

Story is a bit ring sour. Her previous owner was very upfront about this in her sale ad and in person. Since her new career doesn’t involve an arena, this isn’t a huge problem and obviously wasn’t a deal breaker.

However, it does make conditioning work trickier! My neighbor’s beautiful hay meadow is perfect for hacking, but she’s in the middle of harvesting a second cutting of hay from it. Hauling out isn’t impossible, but the closest trails are about 45 minutes away and not always feasible on a weekday. So Story and I are currently stuck in the arena. She is not a fan.

Story’s fitness plan involves fitting this whole bale of hay in her mouth.

Story is happy to walk around in the big outdoor arena on a loose rein. She marches along over ground poles, raised cavaletti, and the wooden bridge. She’s unfazed by cows, galloping yearlings, or people on mowers. I’m really pleased about all of that! But eventually she makes a beeline toward the arena gate and becomes very unhappy when she’s redirected. She stops dead and wrings her tail or kicks out when asked to move forward. Once she’s moving again, she repeats the behavior after a few strides. This is also her go-to if she’s asked to move from a walk to a trot.

It’s difficult for me to tell if this is a physical or mental problem. Maybe she stops because she’s out of shape and needs a break. Maybe she stops because this is a evasion that worked in the past. Maybe something is causing her pain. Maybe she’s just burned out on arena work.

So far, I’ve addressed her behavior by asking her to go forward when she stops and rewarding her when she does so by releasing my leg or dressage whip, petting her neck, and verbally telling her she’s a good girl. I’m trying to keep rides short (around 20 or 30 minutes) so she hopefully learns the arena is not a place of endless work. I’m also trying to introduce some variety into our rides – leg yields, turns on the forehand, halting, backing, cavaletti – so more than her ability to walk laps is challenged.

Happy to march around on a long rein.

I hope after a few weeks or months of this type of arena work combined with excursions elsewhere will help! I don’t mind if Story never goes super well in an arena, but it does help to have somewhere to ride when the hay meadow is unavailable and hauling out isn’t feasible.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for or experiences with ring sour horses!

Spring/Summer 2023 Recap

It’s been a slow summer here at Hand Gallop. After a mediocre outing at the Oklahoma Dressage Society spring show in April, Madigan began headshaking. His trainer and I tried a variety of things to address it – nose net, fly mask, fly sheet, dental work, chiro work, changing pastures. It was ultimately resolved after about a month of feeding him Platinum Skin & Allergy at the suggestion of his vet.

You can tell I am deeply worried about remembering what movement to do next.

Johnny and I spent what felt like half of July on vacation, first to Colorado for a family reunion, then to Iceland for general recreating and seeing Johnny’s favorite band Pavement in concert. When we returned at the end of the month, it rained for a week before becoming unbearably hot for the next two weeks. And now it’s the end of August!

At Skógafoss in southern Iceland

I am taking lessons as regularly as the heat and my trainer’s schedule permit. My trainer participated in USDF’s L Education program this year and spent a lot of time sitting, scribing, and judging at shows, which meant she was often traveling on Fridays during our usual lesson time. Madigan is none the worse for wear for his summer off. He broadened through his chest and hindquarters, seemed to grow another quarter inch, and continues to approach work with his usual equanimity.

how Swamp Creature spent the summer: dirty and wet

By far the most exciting thing to happen this summer was my purchase of another horse for trail riding and hunting. I felt that Madigan and I gave trail riding a fair shake- he’s been out about ten times to a variety of locations and seems to truly dislike it. Maybe he’ll enjoy it as a more mature horse, but in the meantime, falling off (and subsequently climbing back on) a 17-hand baby is not my idea of a good time. He’s happiest in an arena doing arena things, so why try to fit a round peg in a square hole?

Story with those cute hunter knees (from her sale ad)

Story is a 15 year old Hanoverian mare who I hope will be a suitable trail riding and hunt horse. She spent her life in the hunter ring on the East Coast before being purchased by an adult amateur here in Oklahoma. Her former owner clearly loved her and gave her excellent care, but recently expanded her family and no longer had time to dedicate to her own riding pursuits. Story is a sensible and easygoing horse. She and Madigan are now best friends (well, she’s Madigan’s best friend, at least) and Moe and Gina are enjoying a break from babysitting.

Now that the heat is beginning to recede, I’m excited to return to all of my favorite equestrian activities. Next month, Madigan and I head down centerline at another Oklahoma Dressage Society show and Story and I will get our feet wet (literally and figuratively) at Harvard Fox Hounds’ annual Swimming Hole Day trail ride and swim.