30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 12- The Biggest Horse Show You’ve Ever Competed In

Day 12- The Biggest Horse Show You’ve Ever Competed In

In 2007, I competed at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. I had never before, and have never since, competed in anything on a national level. I wasn’t some kind of spectacular equitation rider; my team was new and lacked many experienced over fences riders. Since I had lots of experience and could ride any horse that was bound to be at the competition, I was selected to go. I had a mediocre round (as I usually do in the hunter ring) and didn’t win my matchup.

For sheer number of competitors, the biggest competition I’ve entered is the Midsouth Regional Pony Club Rally, held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. There were always hundreds of competitors; it’s a miracle everyone managed to ride in three days.

How about y’all? How do you define your “biggest” horse show?

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 11- Your Favorite Tack Shop

Day 11- Your Favorite Tack Shop

Who remembers when State Line Tack partnered with PetSmart and one could find horse things there? That was the best. I was extremely disappointed when that partnership ended!

I started riding in the days before online shopping was a thing; I remember when my parents ordered me a few items via phone order from a Dover Saddlery catalog. Most of my equine items were purchased at one of several nearby stores.

Growing up in southern middle Tennessee, I had a lot of tack shops at my disposal. There was The Tack Trunk, an english tack shop which carried both new and consignment items; my mother, ever the savvy shopper, found me many gently used clothing items there. Judy’s Tack Shop in Franklin, Tenn., also played an important part in kitting out young Stephanie. It was mostly new items and perhaps a little rich for my family. They carried a huge selection of saddles that I ogled at every opportunity.

Of course, I could also count on my local Tractor Supply Company and the Maury County Farmer’s Co-op for necessities like fly spray, dewormer, bot blocks, and saddle soap.

However, my go-to, very favorite tack store was, by far, National Bridle Shop of Lewisburg, Tenn. A mere 30 minutes away (as opposed to Judy’s and The Tack Trunk, which were nearly an hour’s drive), National Bridle catered to the gaited horse set. (Lewisburg is fairly close to the Tennessee Walking Horse capital of the world, Shelbyville.) While I had no use for patent-leather browbands or weighted ankle rings, I could use quality leather girths, breakaway halters, and splint boots. I think before every Pony Club Rally, I made a trip to National Bridle for tack sponges and new stirrup pads (seriously- have you ever tried to clean those?! Not worth it.)

Here in Oklahoma, I have an english tack store, The Horse Of Course, right down the road from me. It’s alright, but somehow, it just can’t compete with the memory of National Bridle. I haven’t been to National Bridle in years, but when I close my eyes, I can still smell the leather, feel the cramped aisles, and see the bins of shiny browbands in every color under the sun. It makes me smile every time.

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 10- Five of Your Favorite Jumping Exercises

Day 10- Five of Your Favorite Jumping Exercises

I love gymnastics and grid work. I think they’re invaluable for sharpening a horse’s skills, building confidence, and improving a rider’s position. That said, I don’t know that I have specific favorite exercises that I return to time and time again. I’m more of an improviser. So, here are five exercises I think are very good!

1. Gymnastic #2 from Jim Wofford’s Modern Gymnastics (also found in May 2012 Practical Horseman, and online here). It’s four ground poles, a jump, and a one-stride to another fence. This is a great confidence builder; I jumped Colter through it today. The trot poles really help establish a good rhythm and set the horse up for success over the two fences. I did a crossrail for the first fence, and eventually ended with a 2′ oxer. It rides well; I increased the distances a little bit to compensate for Colter’s very long stride. (Note: I think you can also find this gymnastic in Wofford’s Training The Three Day Event Horse and Rider.)

2. Exercise 7 from this PDF from the Alberta County 4-H. This sheet has several good exercises, but I love exercise 7- two bounces to a one stride. I particularly like bounces because they make horses that rush (like Moe) sit up and sit back on their haunches. 
3. “The Y” from this Horse Illustrated article on grids. This exercise is a two or three stride followed by a three stride bending line. I think when trainers and riders think “gymnastic”, they think “straight line”; however, it’s important for horses to learn to turn while jumping. This exercise is effective and something different for horses to think about.
4. An Australian publication, The Horse Magazine, featured this exercise from Colleen Brook. It’s simply two jumps set nearly parallel to one another on a slight angle. (You just have to go look at it, I think.) As the graphic on the article illustrates, there are about a dozen different ways to utilize just two jumps; that’s great news for people like me who own four sets of standards!
5. Horse Channel featured the “wagon wheel” exercise way back in 2007 as a way to help riders with rollback turns. It’s four crossrails set up on a large circle (width of your arena). The goal is to ride through three or four times while keeping a steady, even pace and jumping in the middle of each crossrail. I’m excited to try this with Colter soon!

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 9- Your Show Goals for 2013

Day 9- Your Show Goals for 2013
My goals for 2013 are pretty basic:

  • Show Gina in enough local dressage shows to sell her.
  • Take Colter to a schooling horse trial and a recognized horse trial.
I don’t plan on taking Moe to any shows (except perhaps the fall hunter pace). I haven’t been riding him much; selling Gina is my primary objective. I enjoy the challenge Colter presents- he’s a blank slate who needs work. That’s always been my kind of horse. Moe is pretty settled in his ways, and he’s 18 years old. He’s healthy and happy, and I see no reason to push him. 
Colter’s making good progress, so I imagine I’ll actually get him to a show this year- I’m pretty excited about it!

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 8- Your Favorite Horse Magazine

So I didn’t post this yesterday, unfortunately- but I’ll just continue the blog challenge in order, whenever I think of posting.

Day 8- Your Favorite Horse Magazine
I’ve been a longtime lover of Practical Horseman; I love George Morris’s cranky Jumping Clinic and always have. Lately, I’ve also enjoyed Jim Wofford’s column, as well as the various people that write about how to improve a horse’s jumping and dressage skills.

A couple of Christmases ago, Johnny gave me a nook. While this is super awesome for checking out books from the Tulsa County Public Library, it’s even better for subscribing to magazines. I subscribe to old favorites like Southern Living and Eating Well, but I also enjoy getting the digital editions of Practical Horseman and Horse & Hound. It covers a lot of things that aren’t necessarily relevant to me (e.g. British horse racing), but it includes excellent articles from top riders. It’s a bit steep (I think it’s $3.99/wk), but I think it’s well worth it…