Monday, June 21, 2021

Be A Good Boy Hamilton. I’ll See You Soon.

Saturday we made a 6 hour hail up to KY for Hamilton’s summer boot camp. 

We left before the sun woke up for the day to avoid trailering in the heat. Hamilton hadn’t seen a trailer since October and I was a little worried how he would load. 

I needn’t  to have worried though. Hamilton is a Good Boy and stepped right on in. 

He handled the long trip like a pro and unloaded at his summer home no worse for the wear. 

They housed him in a small paddock alone for the time being so he could settle in. Plans are to introduce him to a small herd in a larger pasture once they assess who he’d get along with. 

He will spend the summer out on the trails learning to be brave and seeing the world. The woman he is with is my absolute favorite endurance rider and I know he will get top notch care and consistent and fair training. The current plan is to pick him back up the end of August.

We made it back home around 8pm Saturday, exhausted from 12 hours in the truck. I may split it up in two days when I pick him back up. That was a rough, long day that I’m not looking forward to repeating.

Sunday A started right in with work on Hamilton. He started in the arena and then headed out on the trails. She said he was super sweet, brave and a very good boy. He even walked past a big heap of scary logs and tarps on his first ever solo trail ride! 

I’m so excited for his summer boot camp and the horse I’ll get to pick back up  I’m really hoping he has a great time, builds a lot of muscle (not hard to do when they have endless miles of hilly trails right from their farm) and matures a bit.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

It Is Official. The Saddle Gots To Go.

Eeyore can give side eye in western tack too

If I had any doubts about selling the BC Wexford saddle, last night put them to rest quickly. 

I’ve been eyeing an Advantage saddle (same brand as Gem’s) that’s sorta kinda not really for sale but available in the right circumstances as a potential trail saddle for Eeyore for the summer. After emailing back and forth with the maker this particular saddle is really similar in tree shape as Gem’s so I decided to ride him in Gem’s to see how it would work for us before purchasing a non returnable item. 

I like him in the western style headstall without a nose band.

And while the saddle won’t work for us, it was eye opening how amazing he felt in it and the amount of shoulder movement he had. At first he started off a bit tense and tentative but once he got moving I could tell he felt so much better. 

His canter felt amazing especially to the right which hasn’t felt quite right since his injury last spring. I always wondered if something wasn’t right still but after riding in this saddle I can tell you it wasn’t him - the Wexford no longer fit him either. 

I went to a small local western tack shop to look at saddles. I have this thing where I feel super awkward not buying from small shops especially if I’m the only one there and the owner is working. So I went to Pops and it was tiny and the owner was there and I was alone. I didn’t really like any saddles but I felt bad not buying anything. That’s how I ended up with the headstall. 

Any reservations I had lingering about selling the saddle are now gone. I have zero idea what I’ll get next but the Bliss by Loxely is high on my list thanks to all you folks. In the meantime I’m also looking for the right western based endurance saddle to spend the summer on the trails with. Being back out there has rekindled my old flame.  We shall see where this goes. I don’t plan on ditching jumping as I do really enjoy that too which means I’ll still need a basic jump type saddle as well. Looks like a lot of budget saddle shopping is required.

Monday, June 7, 2021

My New Obsession

 Living the farm life has been a life long dream come true. Sure there are the downsides that come with managing 30 acres made a bit worse with how run down it was when we purchased it, but the positives outweigh those ten fold. I anticipated some of the changes I'd see in my life when we moved in, primarily my new found love for being at home. Prior to this move I was always finding something to do out and about that took us away from home. Random day trips, excursions to new towns, hikes on distant trails, if it got me out of suburbia I was all for it. Since moving in, and especially after the addition of the front patio, I've found myself choosing to stay home more often than not. I don't have that drive to be "away" like I used to. 

Rarely in life do my crazy scheme come to life, but this turned out exactly as I hoped it would

There is one new hobby that has come as quite a surprise to me though. 

Last year we put in the flag stone patio which covers half the front of the house. The other half sat as dirt for a long time until I came up with a plan for it: a container garden with half flowers and half veggies. The project took just shy of a year to complete for various reasons, but eventually it was done and planted in time for the spring growing cycle. 

Folks...I am now completely obsessed with my garden. 

This one little row of spinach has provided us with more than we could ever eat. I've used it in fresh salads and in my favorite shrimp scampi recipe. The nice thing is that the more I pick the more regrows.

I'm not sure there is a task that I don't enjoy. Weeding is my favorite though. There is something about the combination of instant gratification, meticulous repetitive tasks, and complete lack of mental effort that soothes my anxiety ridden, over worked brain. 

The radishes were the first to ripen. It was sooo cool pulling them up out of the ground. I don't actually like radishes so all these were eaten by the hubby who loves them. 

The first thing I do every evening when I get home from work is check on the garden. Does it need watered? How are the vegetables? Any need picked?

Wyatt has taken over as the Master Harvester. He has picked everything except the cabbage heads because those needed a bit more knife work. I'm thrilled to see how involved he has become in the process from picking which plants to grow to checking them daily to harvesting when ready. He keeps an even closer eye on things than I do!

A gorgeous head of cabbage. There was a nasty layer of caterpillars between the outer leaves along with pockets of eggs, but they washed away nicely and I refuse to use chemicals. I need some chickens to feed the buggers to as I pick them off. Maybe next year. 

On its way to being coleslaw

So far we have had really great crops of cabbage, spinach, radishes and zucchini. Tomatoes are on the vine and green, potatoes are growing nicely under ground, and bell peppers are starting to enlarge. The cucumbers and watermelon plants are starting to vine. The only things that haven't worked out so well are carrots which never even sprouted and jalapenos which grew but were very bland and earthy tasting without even a hint of spice. 

So many zucchinis all in one day. I gave half to my mom, made two loaves of bread, grilled one and still have a bunch

The ripening of all these yummy veggies has led to finding new recipes to use them in. I snagged a delicious vinegar based coleslaw recipe from a friend to use our cabbage heads up and then made two loaves of zucchini bread with some of the zucchini. Additional zucchini was cut into 1/4" rounds and thrown on the grill with olive oil and salt and pepper. 

The jalapenos looked really good but tasted like earth. I'm not sure what happened to the flavor

I want to learn how to make sauerkraut for the hubby. I don't like it, but he loves it and grew up making it with his grandma. We have three more heads of cabbage that need picked ASAP and that is a lot of cabbage to eat in a short time, so sauerkraut is appealing.  

Zucchini bread made with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. It tasted like Thanksgiving.

The plan is to re plant the containers came fall with the winter crops: spinach, leaf lettuce, curly mustard greens, broccoli, more cabbage and maybe some turnip greens as well. Hopefully we can have at least a little bit of fresh produce year round. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Oh Crap, Not This Again

Saddle shopping. It is the absolute worst thing ever. I’d rather buy jeans. Ugh. 

Enjoyed another wonderful trail ride this weekend and didn’t get lost this time. Yay!

Unfortunately my two beloved Black Country Wexford saddles will be listed for sale as soon as I get pictures around and posts made. I hope they sell quickly and with minimal drama. I bought them both used at really good prices, so I should be able to move them along without taking a hit. 

I’m super sad though. Even when Eeyore decided that he can’t possibly cross the exact same creek he crossed one week prior and heaven forbid he get his hooves wet so he launched over it like a complete moron, my butt stayed firmly and safely in my Wexford with no fear of being dislodged. Those saddles are so so awesome. 

I decided to take the red trail this time which also had a lot of re routing due t recent logging. It included this climb that I had never done before

The saddle fits Eeyore perfectly too. It is an exact match for his back no kidding. I doubt I could order a custom made one to fit this well. Hamilton’s medium version is a darn good fit for him as well. 


After being completely crippled all day Monday from my trail ride Sunday the light bulb went off. This saddle is KILLING my back. 

Now...I don’t expect any jump saddle to be comfortable after 3 tough hours of climbing and twisting terrain. It’s not what it is meant for. The very idea of a jump saddle is to make getting up off the horses back easy and comfortable. So after last week’s 2 hour trail ride I wasn’t thinking much about how awful my back felt the rest of that day or the next. So what? I’m out of practice of long rides. 

The climb was worth the effort as it ended with a gorgeous view of Lake Hartwell and mountains

Then I went out again this past weekend and could barely slide off his back due to a stabbing radiating pain from my lumbar spine and sacrum. As I drove home hoping the spasms would stop it dawned on me. Last summer when I was riding Eeyore 4 days a week for rehab, my back pain started. By the time September rolled around I was so debilitated in the saddle that I had to two point even in the walk and he dumped my butt in the dirt at my last lesson, September 2020. I did not however have any pain while riding the lovely Fenix during lessons with MD.

After that I stopped riding while I got my crap together and had surgery. I actually didn’t ride at all from beginning of September through January. Lo and behold I had no back spasm pain that entire time but I chalked it up to the surgery. 

It is a tough loop with a lot of single track climbs and twisting trails. This is my favorite type of trail and I did miss all the trotting I used to do here on Gem. Eeyore will get there eventually too. 

In January I returned to riding but only snuck in 2 rides a week both generally 30 minutes or so. At first everything was fine but then I started having the same back pain: mostly muscle spasms along both sides of my lumbar and into my sacral spine. The more time went by the more pronounced it became and finally started to linger the day after my lesson. 

I quit lessons a month or so ago for other reasons and started to ride less as well as I figure out some things and my back has felt amazing. Then the two trail rides and it finally hit me: this saddle is killing my lower back. I don’t know why because in all other regards it is super comfy but it has got to go. 

Eeyore was mostly good. Well, from mile 3-7 he was amazing. Before mile 3 he forgot to turn his brain on and was a turd and after mile 7 he was tired and bored and trying to figure out what the heck we were still in the woods for. But those 4 miles in the middle were so so much fun. I had a grin plastered on my face the entire time. 

So I’m on the hunt now for another saddle for Eeyore. Hamilton is going to wait as he is off to the trainers in two weeks (a story I’ll share on its own once he has left for KY) for the summer so won’t need a saddle at home until late August when he returns. regardless of the jump saddle situation I will be getting a western based saddle of some sort for trails. I'm hoping to find another one of Gem's type endurance saddles. 

The picture did not capture it very well, but off in the distance is a super steep uphill. Eeyore stopped at the bottom and looked at it then back a me a few times as if to ask if I was crazy. I debated hopping off and hiking it with him but he had been a big ass about crossing creeks and bridges that he had crossed easily the week before and I didn't want to teach him that I will get off when thins look tough. 

I still want a jump saddle though so I’ll be hunting something. I’m absolutely clueless as to what to look for at this point. I know what doesn’t work for me from past attempts, so at least I can rule Stubben, Custom, Bates and Prestige out. I really, really, really want a CWD but that’s not in my budget unless I can sell these for a high enough price. We shall see. 

Anyone have any good suggestions on where to begin? It has to fit a very wide, flat backed horse with big shoulders. I’m open for any and all suggestions. Dusty has suggested that it isn't the saddle and is instead the horse and that I would make a lot more money selling the horse versus the saddle, but I'm pretty partial to the Big Orange Butthead even when he is being Super Butthead.