1 Year of Coco Cheval

It’s been officially a year of some what of “consistent” blogging in my life and the first official post of Coco Cheval. One of my main goals this year is to blog at least once a week. I love having a place to be able to go back and look at the progress I am making with my horses. It is the little things like being able to look back a year ago and read my past blogs introducing Montego having no clue or idea that I would be so lucky to add Luna to my herd that same year.

high school me and Belle

I found the world of horse blogs when I was a freshman in high school. Back then, I had my horse Belle and planned on starting a blog to document my journey and training with her before RRP was even a thing. I even ended up using the blog as a starting point for my college application essay. Since then, that blog had been retired and removed once I sold Belle, but I still read up on many of my favorite blogs through the years. Many of the bloggers I’ve followed back then have disappeared or switched over to Instagram, but I have found a really great community of riders and horse owners that I have loved following their journey over so many years.

college me and Montego

My closest friends know usually when I am not paying attention to them in conversation I am likely over in horse blogger land reading about all of you and your horses. I am not huge writer, I like reading a little more, but something with blogging especially about horses really sparks my interest. I have met a few local bloggers coincidentally over the years, and everyone I have met has been so friendly and helpful giving the best advice from their experiences. I truly do this as a fun hobby, a bit like journaling to see my inner thoughts. I am excited to be more frequent in my blogging this year and as always love to continue the fellow bloggers that have come back to blogging!

10 years… later new horses, a more grown me

Review: Horse and Herd Lick Treats

Luna is one of those horses that is an absolute menace in her stall. She truly is a pig pen mare that poops and pees wherever she wants and then sleeps in it no issue. She also is very inquisitive and I often find her hay net unattached and in the middle of her stall the next day. When she got stuck on the fence and spent a little more time in her stall than normal I wanted to buy a couple of things to keep her entertained. The jolly ball I bought was a complete bust, she could have cared less about the thing. But she has always been a big fan of her salt lick so I decided a lick it might be worth it. She absolutely loves the grain lick treats, but the actual sugar brand she eats through way too fast and it gives her some sloppy poops for a couple of days.

Enter Horse and Herd Lick Treats. Originally I saw these on Instagram and was impressed by the limited ingredient lick treat for a decent price. I ended up buying the three pack to try out for my two horses.

Horse & Herd was started in 2019 by native Swede and lifelong equine enthusiast Kajsa Wallin. H&H is currently a one-woman-show run out of a small manufacturing building on a ranch in Southwest Montana. The Lick Treats are crafted in batches of eight and the handmade production process ensures the highest quality in durability, taste and appearance.

Naturally made, small business, and woman owned…sign me up! These treats were packed in the most adorable packaging and came with a bonus hand fed treats (smaller versions of their treat balls). Immediately took these balls out to the barn and tied them up in the stalls and watched my horses go nuts for them. I needed to figure out how to hang them from the ceiling because my two just like to push them up against the wall and eat them.

Peep a very jealous Chace in the back

Each ball lasted about 3 weeks with my horses being inside every night. Luna really enjoyed the Flax Lick Treat which is smoother and gets a bit stickier than the grain treat Montego got. Montego got the pink salt treat because he refuses to lick a salt block or eat salt in his food, but hidden in this fun treat ball he was all for it.

The third ball I ordered actually ended up going to a friends horse (Montego’s stall neighbor- Chace) because as you can see in the pictures he was very offended that he too did not have a treat ball to enjoy at night! Chace I think might have loved them the most. For the first 10 mins it was hung in his stall he was OBSESSED. His eyes bugged out and he didn’t pay attention to anything else. His owner actually had to take it out of his stall over night because she was worried he would just eat only that!

CANT GET ENOUGH- Chace

I like that these treats have limited ingredients than a typical Lik-it or Uncle Jimmy’s Ball. The grain is a bit softer and does not leave my horses mouthes super sticky afterward. Only downside I see is that they will be a haven for the flies in Spring/Summer. So a great Fall/Winter treat for those bored stalled horses, but I think would just get too gross in the heat of summer.

so good must lick with eyes closed- Montego

Very excited to have found this company! Will definitely be placing my order again soon as they both finished their balls this week.

Spring has sprung

This weekend brought the first day of spring and finally some really nice weather. The saddle hunt is still on going. SO many options, but I have not been able to commit to pressing submit for committing to any on trial. In the meantime, my Frank Baines is luckily doing the job for both horses during their rides. If I was just searching for one saddle I am sure I would have it by now, but three all while staying in a semi decent budget has proven more difficult.

both enjoying no sheets!

The weather in PA has finally steadied out to be much warmer and sunnier than most of our winter. Longer days at the barn mean actually grooming the caked mud layer off of my horses and tidying up their appearance. I had let both grow out quite a mane for the winter. Luna needed to grow hers out because her mane likes to flip flop sides if not long enough, but Montego was starting to really look like a ranch horse. Thinned and cut both their manes and debated bathing both but decided to wait until a bit warmer weather and mud to roll in afterwards.

before
after

I have been getting some awesome rides on them both. Montego has seemed to really enjoy his time off and is now eager to get back to work and Luna has been really fun getting started, figuring out her baby brain and seeing her true colors. My farrier came out Monday to finally remove the snow pads. He absolutely adores Luna because she truly is the best behaved baby for other people. However, Montego always loves to give him a hard time snorting and being completely incorporative with him every time he comes. It’s like he becomes my 5 yo. The weekend before Luna had pulled her LF shoe again while doing a downward transition in the ring. I think she now has pulled this same shoe ever 3 weeks since I’ve owned her even while wearing bell boots 24/7. Farrier recommended we give her one more cycle to see if strength training and working more helps her way of going, if not we will try hind shoes to see if that helps her move a little more correctly.

caught both fully zonked out in the field together

My dressage trainer is coming up from VA Easter Weekend, so while unfortunately I will not be able to lesson with him, Friend S offered to ride him for me since her horse will be doing another clinic that same weekend. Friend S has much more dressage experience than me and has been training with our trainer for a long time, and she rides Montego really well. I am excited he will get some “training” rides put on him while I am gone. I think it’ll really help for our show debut this year.

Saddle Fitting Sorrows

Well to my luck saddle fitting did not got as one might have hoped especially for the outcome of my favorite saddle ever to ride in. When I bought Montego in July 2019, one of the first things I did was get a saddle fitter out to find him a jumping saddle. I had big plans for him to love jumping and I wanted to treat myself to my first really nice piece of tack. Insert 2019 Michel Robert Prestige 18″ 34cm Jump Saddle. It has the most comfortable seat, softest leather, and beautiful forward flap that I have have ever ridden in. Naturally this dream saddle came with a higher price tag, but I chalked it off to a graduation gift and it was mine. Fast forward, Montego doesn’t really love jumping so saddle is only used for trail riding. BOO, but naturally this saddle will still fit. WRONG. Saddle starts really slipping to one side when I am riding. So much so that friends have videos of me looking like I should slide right off at any moment.

its like sitting on a cloud

Insert second horse, Luna. Now all my hopes are dreams at that she’ll be my jumping horse and hoping that this dream saddle I still own will fit her. ALSO VERY WRONG. Saddle fitter pretty much confirmed that my favorite saddle ever will not ever fit any of my horses…YAY! So unfortunately that saddle is listed for sale and I am only crying a little bit on the inside.

My other saddle is an older Frank Baines I bought off Facebook on a whim for like $500. Naturally this is the saddle the fitter loved the best on Luna. I had been using it on Montego has his main dressage saddle as it fits me relatively well and I thought fit him too. Turns out even at a wide its a little too narrow for him which is causing slipping side to side.

Modeling her first ride in dressage tack

So now the fun saddle hunt begins. I am ultimately looking for three saddles. The two that are taking priority are a dressage saddle for Montego and a Jumping Saddle for Luna. The third if I can find it at a steal of a price would be a jumping saddle for Montego because I do like having that to hack out and do conditioning sets in. The saddle fitter I am working with was awesome in recommending brands for both horses, but that also have a more forward flap to fit me too! Thank you Sarah for the recommendation, she is awesome!

Recommendations for each horse:

Montego: Saddle fitter notes “very broad”…yes my little piggy has a big barrel to take up my long legs 🙂 Needs a W-XW depending on brand. I like dressage saddles with FWD flaps and shorter blocks, so some brands she recommend me to try out were- Custom Wolfgang or Icon, Passier Optimum, Schleese, County Fusion, Stubben Aramis, Trilogy all needed in an 18 in. For jumping, he fit in Friend W’s 31cm Stubben Portos pretty well so anything along those same lines with a FWD flap.

my very broad role-poly horse

Luna: She needs saddles with curvy bars and wool panels. Suggested a tree width of M-MW however with her growing and still filling out ultimately looking for something MW-W since the W Frank Baines is the saddle I am currently now riding her in. Brands to try- Albion, Hastily, Schleese, Stubben 29-30cm, Adam Ellis, and Frank Baines. Since the Frank Baines dressage saddle at least fits her relatively well now, that good ol FB find will stay around.

We really need to work on her modeling face

If anyone has had any experiences riding in the saddles above and LOVES or HATES a certain brand please let me know. OR if anyone is looking to buy the most comfortable and most favorite saddle on the planet reach out. I will be sad to see it go, but the horses have spoken. Hopefully it won’t be too long that I am saddle-less for, we have shows and goals to get to!

Spring..is that you?

After Punxsutawney Phil decided to F’ us all over in the mid-atlantic states for probably one of the worst Februarys I have seen here in awhile, this weeks weather is finally starting to make up for it. Pretty much all the snow and ice are melted up everywhere with small remaining piles left. Luckily no additional rain has kept the pastures relatively dry and mud free, because that is the next season we are all inevitably going to experience.

Between the bad weather and Luna’s fence accident, both of my horses ended up getting pretty much getting the entire month of February off. Last week was the first week I could put a couple more rides on Montego before our trailer out dressage lesson over the weekend. Our trainer comes up from VA once a month for a weekend of lessons in our area. While Montego was out of shape, we worked on some really good suppling exercises and have a good plan going into the spring to prepare for our show season.

Luna also got ramped back up this week, well slightly. I love the personality of this mare, but damn has she brought on her own set of problems. She has a thing for throwing her LF shoe about every 3 weeks after the farrier comes out. Its happened 3 times since I’ve owned her. She usually gets it off clean with no damage to the foot, but I am sure my farrier does not love seeing her that frequently. Last week when she pulled it, I am pretty sure she got some bruising from it being off with the frozen ground and has been a bit ouch this whole week. I’ve been doing about 15-20 mins of lunging before she starts favoring it, so taking it slow but really excited to get her working again.

Outfit of the day

Yesterday I was able to hop on her after 10 min on the lunge to get her zoomies out, and she was perfect! We worked on some walk trot transitions focusing on her ability to seek for contact in the bridle and come over her back in her upward and downward transitions. I think I had a smile on my face the entire time, she is just such a lovely baby to work with and such a quick learner. I am still keeping her sessions pretty short to keep her brain engaged and build up her strength without hurting the LF. At night I have been stuffing it with Magic Cushion in hopes that by next week she’ll be 100% good to go soundness wise.

The saddle fitter is coming out this weekend for both of them. I currently have two saddles: a Frank Baines Dressage Saddle and a Michel Robert Prestige Jumping saddle both originally bought for Montego, but I have been using the jumping saddle on Luna in the meantime. I have been having some serious issues with both my saddles shifting right when riding Montego ultimately making my left stirrup significantly shorter than my right. Whether its saddle fit or the way I am riding its not good either way so I am hoping to narrow down the source of this issue to start a plan to fix it. The saddle fitter coming out is independent so I am hoping she can recommend some saddles that will fit Luna best. Despite being a TB, Luna resembles more a Dutch Warmblood and is definitely a wide with a taller wither. I am hoping my jumping saddle does fit her because I LOVE riding in it, but open to suggestions. When I did Luna’s PPE the vet mentioned that her back x-rays were closer than typical, not indicating Kissing Spine but something she commonly sees in bigger horses. Her recommendation was to find a saddle that she can really come up over her back to stretch the spine while in work, so I want to make sure my saddle for her accommodates that.

Sunny Sillies 🙂

The warm weather is ending for a quick bit this weekend, but the 10 day forecast looks promising towards consistent warmer weather soon. Spring is my favorite season so I am glad we are almost out of the depths for winter, and very excited for extra daylight in the evenings this weekend. 

Shop ‘Til You Drop

With my less than planned vet visit two weeks ago for Luna and Montego’s birthday on the 7th I fell into a bit of a shopping rabbit hole. Buying new horse things always solves all your problems right?! And as many of fellow NE area bloggers know the weather has been less than conducive to riding. With only an outdoor ring, I haven’t ridden in a ring since early Feb YIKES!! Luckily it appears things are finally melting and we will be trailering out this weekend to a lesson so while Montego will be very out of shape, I am excited to get back to riding again.

These two can’t seem to stay out of trouble

My lack of riding time has led me to some compulsive shopping over the past couple of weeks. Overseas shopping seems to have peaked my interest more frequently. Amanda at 900 FB Pony completely destroyed me with introducing Epplejeck. I am on a hunt to find anything and everything burgundy/dark red for Luna and QHP has a great line in that color right now. She lucked out with a new fuzzy shipping halter, fleece schooling boots, a quarter sheet for lunging, and two new coolers.

Don’t worry Montego also got some pretty great things in my shopping haul. One of our local tack stores was carrying the Eskadron Heritage Deep Plum Brushing Boots and Saddle pad in stock which hello Purple and Glitter sign me up, but the price seemed a little high for me. So I took to the internet and found two new pairs for the price of one in the US at Equissentials Dressage in the UK. Got those and the matching saddle pad and wow they are even more pretty in person! Montego will be sporting this at his lesson this weekend so I will make sure to grab pictures.

For myself, I am now obsessed with the Kerrits Therminator and 3 Season Full Seat Breeches. They are fleece lined and so comfortable and flattering to wear. I added a pair of each to my wardrobe and should be set on Winter Breeches as Spring seems to finally be arriving here. I also finally got around to replacing my One K Defender Helmet that had a strap break. I sent it back to the manufacturer and my new one arrived just in time for show season. I am also still waiting on my One K Defender Bling helmet that I won in a raffle back in November. I am very very excited for this helmet. Just enough sparkle to add to my collection HA.

Anyone else impulse buying to pass the time this winter?

“I’m Going to the Barn”

Saw this post on Facebook and just thought it rang so true! I say these words often!

Credit: Jenna Sadecki 

“I’m going to the barn.” 

Anyone who has horses speaks these five little words quite often. However, many who do not have horses do not truly understand the value of this statement. “I’m going to the barn” means so many things. 

✨It means I had a long day at work, but my horses are deserving of my time and attention, even if it’s just a few moments.

✨It means I’m tired, but my goals and aspirations do not sleep. 

✨It means my horses need to be fed, buckets need to be scrubbed, and stalls need to be cleaned. 

✨It means my soul needs some peace.  

✨It means I need to be surrounded by people who love these animals as much as I do. 

✨It means the weather is terrible and I need to change blankets so my horses stay clean and dry. 

✨It means my horses need me and I will drop everything to be by their sides when they need me the most.

✨It means the weather is beautiful and it’s time for a trail ride or a gallop around the field. 

✨It means I always have a safe place to go, a place where I can truly be myself. 

✨It means my dreams have come true. 

To have not one, but two incredible horses that greet me every time I visit and give me their all every time I swing a leg over makes me the luckiest girl in the world. 

I don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re going today, but one thing is for sure…

I’m going to the barn.

The Best of Times….The Worst of Times (Luna Edition)

Owning horses is so much fun! I just have to keep reminding myself that after this week. Before the NE got hit with our snowstorm, I was able to sneak out to the barn Saturday for a gorgeous day. I had done some tack shopping in the morning with barn friend W and then headed back to ride both my guys after. It was so nice out that friend W and I really wanted to do a hack around the hayfield, but the last few rides out there with Montego have been less than calm. Since the farm we board at got 5 baby cows, Montego has lost his shit at the end of the farm. The baby cows “moo demons” as Montego refers to them as, have been living at the farm for about 5 weeks. All the horses can see them and hear them from their pasture everyday, and while no other horse cares Montego HATES them! Every time I even ask him to go near that paddock he starts snorting and spooking. Given that we have to pass that field to get out to the hayfield he isn’t fun the rest of the ride after that. So instead, I decided it would be more fun to take my 4yo baby Thoroughbred.

Well Luna was a ROCKSTAR for her first baby hack. We just walked a couple laps around the field but she lead 90% of the way and was just so brave and so calm (not that I had any reason to expect anything less). I hadn’t ridden or lunged her in about a week and I just tacked her up and jumped on. I am really impressed with the brain on her which makes he so much fun to work with.

Very happy with herself
First day on small paddock turnout *notice fat hind leg

Well fast forward to Thursday…we got about 8 inches of snow from the snow storm earlier in the week, and the horses haven’t been in work since then. As I was driving down the farm driveway, I saw our quite a bit of commotion of people running around in the field. I looked out and instantly realized Luna was stuck in the fence and could not get out. I still have no idea how she got herself in that situation, but both hind legs were on the other side of the board and wire fence and she was just sitting there definitely freaked out. Naturally my mind went to disaster brain and thought this would be the end to my baby TB. Luckily, the barn owners husband was able to quickly cut her out of the fence and she jumped out. When I finally caught her I realized she cut her back legs up pretty badly, but prayed that there was nothing more than that. Emergency vet came out and confirmed some how that all the wounds looked to be superficial. She recommended we watch for any signs of colic or internal bleeding, but she should be good (minus some swelling and soreness the next couple of days).

Friday and Saturday she definitely got swollen and I am sure she was SORE. I don’t know who wouldn’t be in that situation. She is on a regiment of bute, naquasone, small paddock turnout, and wrapping at night. I am seeing little improvements everyday which is some light after what I was thinking on Thursday. I am so thankful I am at a barn that the owners live at and she was immediately noticed and very quickly cut out. The outcome could have been much much worse. I’m sure we will have a little bit of down time until she is doing any more hacks around the hayfield, but I am just so happy my Luna girl made it out with minimal injuries.

Day 1 of injury *warning do not scroll if you do not like blood/open wounds

Horses man! You can’t live with them but most definitely can’t live without them!

Montego Turns 14

Montego’s official (unofficial) birthday is February 7th, 2007. This birth date is really unknown as it was one I think a past owner just threw on a sheet during a Bill of Sale. I have been pretty successful in tracking down Montego’s past owners, but my tracks stopped around 5 years old. I know he was sold by a dressage trainer in Ohio at 5, but she was unable to track down any other info for me past that of his old owners and potential breeders.

Montego Sale Video 5yo 2012

Montego has been in my life since Fall 2016 as a 9 year old, but this is only his 2nd birthday with me owning him. It is really crazy to go back and look at the progress he has made since I met him.

First Pic I ever took of my fuzzy beast Fall 2016

The love I have for this horse is really unparalleled. They say that the right horses come into your life at the perfect time, and honestly before meeting Montego I was not a firm believer in this. I have been a horse lover all of my life so any horse that was in my life I was happy for. It was October 2016 when Montego and I first met. I was in my second year of college and I had just sold my previous OTTB in August due to time restraints in school. My first year of college had been pretty rough. I was in a new place all alone and for the first time was truly challenged in my beliefs and intelligence with a group of students so overachieving: all without the therapy of horses in my life. Being a full time collegiate athlete, it was hard my first year to have time to get to the barn in between classes and workouts. The lack of horses in my life set my mental health back and so my second year, although highly discouraged by my coach, I made it my goal to find a local barn to take lessons at to get my horse fix in.

Maine 2017

I found this barn on FB, looks like it would check off most of the boxes and they even mentioned over email they might have a horse that I may be able to lease, depending on my riding ability etc. After the facility tour they brought me out to a small paddock and introduced me to a horse that was available for lease. This scrawny looking, bay gelding stood out alone. As we walked up to him, the barn owner started giving me his story, a 9 year old gelding owned by a 15 year old girl who had come from a local trainer. The barn owner kept rambling on, but as soon as I was close enough to touch him his ears perked up and our eyes met. It’s hard to explain to people that don’t have horses or animals, buts its like our souls were meant to meet. It still gives me chills to this day thinking back to the first time I laid eyes on him. He looked so broken down, but had such a kind look in his eye that drew me to him instantly. The remaining fall, I started lessoning on him 1-2 times a week. You would have thought he was a 2 or 3yo with his training. He could barely WT without bolting because he was so traumatized by his past training experience. That spring I continued leasing him and our bond kept growing. Whenever I had a bad day at school or felt completely overwhelmed I drove out to the barn and spent hours just grooming and working with Montego. 

I am so lucky to have found this little bay gelding to bring me so much happiness. He truly is one in a million. When people talk about their heart horses finding them, this could not be more true of Montego and me. He may not be the fanciest horse in the ring, but he’s all mine and has all the heart in the world to make up for it. I have been so lucky to connect with some of his old owners and trainers to better understand what he had experience before our paths crossed, but I am so very lucky they did.

Happy 14th Montego! I am sure he will be spoiled with many treats and gifts for his special day ❤

Magna Wave Therapy

Being an athlete myself, I am a big supporter of alternative therapies for keeping horses feeling good. In our area, Magna Wave or PEMF therapy started becoming more popular around Summer 2019. I hopped on the bandwagon for a starter offer one of our local practitioners was offering. For those of you that have never heard of Magna Wave it is “Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF) that are said to allow an animal’s body achieve a natural state of wellness. MagnaWave machines have a unique electrical current that runs through a copper coil that creates a pulsing magnetic field.” (Magna Wave)

First Session Aug 2019

Some other features that I liked when reading about PEMF Therapy included:

  • Increase circulation through cellular exercise 
  • Reduce inflammation 
  • Increase Energy 
  • Speed recovery time from wounds, soft tissue injury, and broken bones, and post-operative procedures
  • Promote better sleep 
  • Increase Range of Motion 
  • Improve the uptake of supplements and medications 
  • May help the animal’s body detox
  • Sense of overall wellbeing and use for preventative wellness 
  • PEMF is FDA approved for depression/anxiety, non-union bone fractures, migraines, and glioblastoma

Many practitioners in our area had some pretty high prices for a 45min-1hr session. I think average is about $90-150/treatment which is on the higher end of something I would be looking to pay unless it had some pretty dramatic effects! The starter session was about half that price so I gave it a try. Montego was weary of those white tubes floating around him, but I think he really started to enjoy it towards the end. A couple other people from our barn decided to jump in and join our session and noticed some pretty big differences with their horses. One older horse has man recurring abscesses that the Magna Wave helps clear up out of his system!

Luna January 2021

It wasn’t until I decided to try the Magna Wave on myself that I was a true believer! From sports, I have some pretty bad muscle injuries from overuse that tend to flare up here and there. One morning I woke up with such a bad back ache I couldn’t move. Oddly enough our Magna Wave girl was coming out that evening and I asked if I could do a session too. Just a 10 min session and my results the next day were amazing. The pain was pretty much all but gone, which usually would take 3-4 days for me to fully recover from before.

Now we’ve become pretty close with the girl who does our Magna Wave and its always more of a barn party when she comes out to do our horses and ourselves! She offers the best pricing in our area so for our barn with the amount of horses we get done its about $50 a horse and $10 a person. For the results I have a found its a no brainer to get my horses done 1x month. Luna had her first session last month and I think it really helped her in some of our flatwork so I am excited to keep her going on it.

Spoiled Boy! Montego January 2021

Montego has fully settled in to this pampering routine and full on puts himself to sleep when he’s getting worked on. I think its a good in between of his joint injections and chiropractic work to keep him feeling good and moving comfortably. If you haven’t tried Magna Wave, I would definitely recommend it. I love that its safe on people, horses, dogs etc. And if you’re in the SE PA area and want the name of our practitioner let me know! I would be happy to send along her info.