TOABH: Shining Star

Beka of The Owls Approve has another great blog hop topic: Let’s talk about the biggest achievements your horse has accomplished.  I’m not talking about you as a rider – I want to know what your ponykins has done to make you proud.  Is there a glorious satin collection, did he/she figure out some dressage movement that took months to learn, or are is it just a great day when your butt stays in the saddle?  
Kentucky Horse Park, our first recognized event
at Novice level.
Moe has achieved many things in the 11 years I’ve had him. He’s jumped all kinds of stuff. He’s let beginners tool around on him. On his back, I’ve accomplished things I wasn’t sure I’d ever do. He’s done it all with his cheerful, can-do, try-hard attitude intact. For those things alone, he’s a shining star. 
But I think I’m most proud of Moe for overcoming his spookiness. At his previous owner’s farm, Moe lived a very different life. He was stalled, ate Triple Crown, and was ridden mostly by the wonderful trainer who sold him to me. When he came to live with me, he was kicked out in a 10-acre field with two other horses who weren’t very nice to him, he ate my dad’s ‘special’ mixture of sweet feed, corn, and oats (I wasn’t into nutritional analysis when I was 16, okay?), and he had to cope with a teenager who thought hacking out down the road with no shoulder was awesome. Poor Moe. It’s a wonder he’s made it this long.
I distinctly remember hand grazing Moe in the front yard one day. I did this with my horses a lot, mostly after riding. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention, and Moe stepped on his lead rope. He tried to move his head to graze, couldn’t, and promptly freaked the fuck out. I thought Moe was an idiot. 
I’m not sure when the shift from spooky to solid occurred, but a couple of years ago, I was hand grazing Moe after a bath when he stepped on his lead rope. He tried to move his head. Instead of losing his shit, he moved his hoof and went back to eating. I’ve hardly been more pleased.
Gina is easy. I’m proud of her for jumping without huge, awful problems. I’m obviously happy she’s a good dressage horse, and I’m glad she and I seem to have bonded- as hokey as that sounds. But I was so disappointed when she wasn’t the jumper I thought she was. Now, she’s jumping as if there’s never been a problem. Princess Pony isn’t such a brat after all. 

Help me with helmets!

After my fall at the hunter pace, I decided to replace my Ovation schooling helmet. I whacked my head hard enough to have a headache for the rest of the day; I figure replacing a helmet is much cheaper than paying for a traumatic brain injury! I have a velvet-like Ovation helmet I’ve been using for shows that’s never endured a fall and still has another few years left on it- I’ve been riding in it since I fell. But I need a second helmet- I’ll probably demote the Ovation to schooling helmet and buy a new show helmet.
There are two things I like to do at work when I need a quick mental break. The first is sitting in various dressage saddles and trying to imagine what they would be like while riding. The other is trying on helmets in a vain effort to find one that flatters my head. Now that I have a reason to be looking for helmets, I’ve been trying them on with increased zeal.
I need your advice! Which helmet looks the best and makes me look least weird?
They’re all roughly equivalent in comfort and fit (although I think the Ayr8 is a little small- but I can certainly acquire one in the right size). Personally, I think the One K and IRH look the best on me; something about the CO helmets just looks weird (although I really like the profile on them). 
What do y’all think? 

Equestrian social media link up

I’m all about the social media- I use it to keep up with friends, brands and companies I’m interested in, and of course, bloggers I like! Tracy of Fly on Over had a great idea with this link-up.

If you’re interested in following me on various social media channels, here they are:

Facebook: /stejpeck
Instagram: /okequestrian
Twitter: /stejpeck
Google +:  +stejpeck
Pinterest: /stejpeck
Email: stejpeck (at) gmail (dot) com
Bloglovin’: /stejpeck
Goodreads: /stejpeck
YouTube: /stejpeck

I’m not terribly active on Google +, YouTube, or Bloglovin’, but you can typically find me on all the other listed channels. I’m aware email isn’t social media and Goodreads is kind of a niche thing, but if you ever want to contact me, or see which books with horses on the cover I’m reading, feel free!

A new bridle for Gina

Now that Gina’s a legitimate jumping horse, I guess she deserves her own bridle. She has a lovely black dressage bridle to call her own, but my jumping saddle is brown and some inner part of me cringes at the thought of mixing black and brown tack together. Gina’s been borrowing one of Moe’s bridles, but it isn’t really working out.

Bumming Moe’s bridle, bit and all.

For starters, Moe’s head is tiny. He wears a cob-sized bridle. Gina’s head is much larger; the bridle is on the very last hole on almost every strap. I prefer to have some room to adjust if necessary. The other problem is that it’s a figure-8. Gina doesn’t need the figure-8 or a flash noseband. She goes very well in a regular cavesson. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to have one, but the less leather I need to clean, the better.

Here are some bridles I’m considering: 
Making this list, I think my priorities come down to cost, simplicity, and the color brown. (I also wouldn’t complain if it matched my Harwich rubber reins.)
So, tack hos: advise me! What’s going to look good on Gina without breaking the bank? 

Equestrian holiday gift guide: Trainer Edition

Many fellow bloggers have published great gift guides and showcases that include gifts of all types in a wide price range for almost any kind of equestrian. Today, I’m bringing you my suggestions on what to get your ever-so-hard to shop for trainer.
I consulted with a few real live trainers in the area to get some help; see, I don’t always make it up as I go along! Here are their very practical suggestions:
  • A new helmet: Falls happen to the best of riders- make sure your trainer’s helmet will protect her if she’s putting in a training ride on someone’s ‘prospect’. Nice helmets are expensive, so consider getting a group of her clients together to but it!
  • Horse treats: Chances are your trainer goes through treats like there’s no tomorrow. A big bucket of them will be appreciated (especially if you’ve been known to occasionally grab one or two for your own horse…not that I ever do this…).
  • Subscription to a favorite magazine: Trainers like to unwind like the rest of us- buy a single issue of her favorite magazine, pair it with a bottle of wine, and include a note about the subscription!
  • Gloves: We all know you can never have enough pairs of schooling gloves. Your trainer probably has a favorite brand and style- think about gifting a pair in a new, fun color.
  • Membership to sport organization: Paying dues for equestrian organizations can get expensive! Help your trainer out by paying her dues for her annual membership, whether it’s USDF, USHJA, USEF, or USEA! 
  • Personalized grooming tote: Having a place to stash brushes and braiding supplies is always good. Personalize it with a name or monogram to make it easy to keep track of what belongs to who!
  • Gift certificate to a favorite tack store: Your local store, Dover, Smartpak- every equestrian can find something they need at a tack store!
  • My personal favorite response: “What can my clients get me for Christmas? They can pay their bills on time! I don’t want to tell you how much it cost to get the indoor arena lights fixed.”
What are you getting your trainer this year?