C’est la Lune “Luna”

As promised, a full post all about my newest girl Luna. Starting 2021, getting a new horse was definitely not on my radar. I was still traveling pretty heavily for work and keeping Montego in shape was hard enough. But then COVID hit and I found myself having much more time with no traveling. As much as I have loved entering in this new to me dressage world, I still missed my roots of jumping and Montego made it pretty clear he was not going to be my jumper anytime soon. It wasn’t until a boarder was moving from our barn in July that really had me start looking. Of course I am a sucker for following all of the OTTB sellers on FB. I constant ooo and aww over the lovely horses that places like Cobalt Stables and Benchmark Sport Horses post.

About three horses technically “failed” before finding my Luna girl. The first was from the place where I ultimately ended up getting Luna from had this lovely 17.1 2015 bay gelding that I instantly fell in love with. He had some super smooth gaits and I think would have been a really fun project, but ultimately ended up not having a super clean vetting with some hints of early Neuro issues that I decided to stay clear from. The people at that barn get a ton on TBs in off the track so I let them know if they had anything else they thought would be suitable to definitely let me know.

2013 B Gelding

The second guy was a cute 2013 bay gelding that CANTER PA posted and had a ton of interest in him due to his super calm personality on video. I was able to get in touch with his trainer early and get a vetting on him, but again with my luck presented with some lameness issues and bad back x-rays.

2017 G Gelding

The last one was honestly no fault of his own, but I almost just bought a right off the track 17h 2017 gray gelding from a Facebook track flipper. While he might have ended up alright, I wasn’t going to be able to do a PPE on him and had no idea of his attitude at all so ultimately decided it was in my best interest to pass unless it was something I could at least climb aboard or put hands on.

Over the three months I was actively looking, Barn 1 messaged me back letting me know they had an awesome 16.3 mare come in, but did not know if I wanted a mare. Personally, I am one of those people that loves them. I think their brain and personality can be so fun and something you do not always see in a gelding so I told them I would love to come see her. Enter Chick (Luna’s previous name). When we got there they pulled out this beast of a mare, my friend even made a comment that she did not look like a TB. She had come in having some really bad feet issues due to bad short trim, but as we were all just hanging out talking about her she was just the sweetest thing, nuzzling for treats and no typical mareish attitude at all.

First Picture!

The next two weeks I ended up riding her, vetting her, and she passed all the tests! While the journey finding her was a bit longer than I expected, I am very glad I ended up the horse I did.

Luna is a 2016 Bay Thoroughbred Mare with the cutest white marking on her nose. It looks like she just plopped it in a bucket of paint. She is registered with the Jockey Club as Chaney’s Chick (hence her name before) but never raced and I am unsure if she ever really made it to training to race. She lacks a bit of speed which is kind of important or so I hear for a horse to be good at racing. She is by Declaration of War out of Good Time Sally (Forestry). I actually was able to find she has a full brother that is a year younger still racing on some local tracks.

I am really excited to see where our journey takes us together. My goals are to ultimately make a very Ammy friendly horse that I enjoy taking off property to shows (jumping and dressage) and the occasional XC schooling. I would love to get back to jumping some higher heights again and I think she is just the horse to get me there.

New Year, New Vet Bills?

Naquasone might be my new best friend in 2021 and all I can hope is that this trend does not continue. Luna arrived to the farm in November and was on private turnout for 2 weeks during her quarantine and then spent another 2 weeks with Paco (23 yo QH) that is the lowest man on the totem pole.

Crazy Obsessive Red Head

While she liked the company of Paco, I think she got annoyed with his obsessive behaviors with her. Eventually we slowly started introducing her to the herd. I knew Montego had to be one of the last horses to meet her as he can be a little studdy when it comes to mares. Turns out Luna is a kicker and thinks pretty highly of herself so she challenged some of the most established geldings in the herd.

‘free me from this prision’

First day she came in with a little cut on her hock with some swelling. And then about a week later, came in with a bump on her cannon bone that got pretty swollen overnight. Well one day before Luna’s swollen leg, Montego came in with a swollen sheath. He seriously looked like a stallion with balls but in the wrong place LOL!

Montego Sheath Swelling
Luna RH Swelling

Both on Naquasone they went! Montego’s resolved in about a day or two. Vet chalked it up to him being a fat lazy gelding who isn’t moving much with the crappy ground and this lack of movement caused some swelling in his sheath. Diet and increased exercise resolved his swelling issue pretty quickly. Luna was started on 3 days of Naquasone and 3 days of Bute. I kept wrapping her leg when she was in at night, but any residual swelling would resolve during turnout in the field.

1 week later and while she’s still got a little bit of heat right around the cut, the vet thinks its a subperiosteal hematoma which usually takes quite a while to go down. Since she hasn’t run a fever, is not lame, and does not mind me poking it pretty hard I am set to continue what I have been doing treatment wise. Sweating her leg every other night with wraps, and applying Surpass in the mornings before turnout. Luckily none were out of commission for riding and working, in fact movement seems to be helping both of their injuries.

Never on the same page unless it comes to needing a vet

Both are sure keeping me on my toes and up to date with my medical readings and applying of bandages, but overall very happy both are happy and healthy. I can with a few bumps and cuts along the way maybe just next time not in the same week!

Mini Hiatus and 2021 Goals

Well my second half of the year blogging wise did not turn out quite like I expected. In the past 6 or so months a couple things has changed around here. COVID restrictions in our area regarding horse shows were lifted a bit so we were able to get to a few Dressage schooling shows in our area.

Schooling Show November 2020

The newest addition in 2020 was adding a 2016 Thoroughbred Mare to my herd. Welcome C’est la Lune “Luna” to the family! I got Luna at the end of November and plan on developing her into my next jumper/eventer. I am sure I will be doing a full post on her soon, but I am very excited for this journey with her.

I am looking forward to 2021 resembling some sense of normalcy. I am hoping to get to some more shows with both of my horses this year, as well as blog more about my training journey with both than I have been previously.

I have set some 2021 goals with my original 2020 goals pretty much completely thrown out the window due to a world wide pandemic.

Whether these will all be completed in the next year who knows, but at least I have something to aim for! Heres to 2021 and all the new adventures it brings!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Luna and Montego

Barn Tour

I am pretty spoiled when it comes to available places to board my horse. Living in one of the biggest horse counties in PA there are many options when it comes to boarding barns. I am even luckier that the barn I am at now is owned by Friend W who is even more particular than me when it comes to horse care. With Montego at her barn I know he is getting taken care of like one of her own horses which helps keep me sane. Friend W and her husband bought this property just last year after renting a barn for about 3 years. Its a small private boarding barn and she’s pretty particular who she lets in.

The barn and house are on 30 acres total with 12 of the acres being a large hay field or our conditioning track. The barn is a newer Amish barn built in the 90’s that the previous owners had built for horses but only raised Llamas in them. The stalls are HUGE! 7 stalls total each either 14X16 or 14X14, plenty of room for the horses to lay down. The tack room has 1/2 lockers for every boarder and one or two saddle/bridle racks depending on what tack they have. Friend W’s dad built the lockers himself so they’re custom made and have so much space to store everything you might need and way easier than trunks.

The large center aisle makes it easy to groom and tack up in and a large lighted wash stall for bathing. In the winter, the horses are kept in two of the lower pastures each with run ins and access to free choice hay. As spring and summer start up, the lower pastures (that get ruined during the winter) are rested and they’re alternated between 4 grass pastures. The grass has grown up so well this year the grass was up to many of their knees for the first couple of days! Each of the pastures has automatic waterers and most also have a run in shed for inclement weather or to offer a little shade.

Our ring is in constant process of renovations. Right now it is the original stonedust/sand that the first owner put in about 25 years ago. The barn owners have plans to make it larger to dressage regulation length and add a top layer of rubber to add in cushion.

Overall I could not have asked for a more perfect place to keep Montego. I am lucky that I have so many great options in my area for boarding. What are your favorite parts of your boarding barn or must haves where you keep your horses?

Hay Field/Conditioning Track

Dressage Rider Training

As I posted on Wednesday, I think keeping your horse in the best shape really improves performance but I am also a big believer in keeping yourself in the best shape as well. I have been an athlete my whole life and played NCAA Volleyball while in college. There it was easy to stay in shape with 3 hr practices everyday on top of weight lifting and conditioning. Since graduating and working full time that has become a little bit harder. When I end work the first thing I want to do is head to the barn, not jump on a stationary bike or go for a run. Friend W had suggested we try Nicola Smith’s Dressage Rider Training Program. For those who have not heard of it she does 20 min online video workouts 3X a week. The workouts focus on Core Strength, Yoga/Flexibility, and Rider Strength.

I am officially on week 3 and I am really enjoying the workouts so far. They are short enough to fit in during lunches or breaks in the day. It has been a good way for me to get away from my computer and move a little bit while working from home. The program runs for 12 weeks each week building on what you did last week. Nicola also provides educational resources about rider fitness and anatomy to help better your ridings. It’s a program that can be done with or without a horse of your own.

The biggest difference I have noticed so far is in my flexibility. My hips get really locked when I am riding Dressage and my wide horse does not favors to me either. So far I have noticed myself activating my core more while riding and keeping a more neutral spine instead of my natural tendency to arch.

doing my wk3 yoga

After 12 weeks I guess I will see if this made a huge difference or not in some of my riding basics. In addition to the 20 min workouts, I am also trying to fit in some cardio a couple of times week to keep that up as well.

Do you set riding fitness goals for yourself? Would love to hear what workout programs work best for you and if you notice a difference in your riding!

Review: Hylofit Heart Rate Monitor

***Update Jan 2021: Unfortunately this company has entirely gone out of business which is a shame because I thought the app did a really great job at monitoring workouts. I have not tried any of the suggest apps they said it is compatible with yet.

A couple of months ago when Riding Warehouse was having one of their 20% off sales, I decided to splurge and get the Hylofit Heart Rate Monitor. When it comes to fitness, I love any statistics I can get, so being able to track both my heart rate and my horses while riding really appealed to me. The Hylofit systems comes with a girth attachment, horse transmitter, rider transmitter, and chest attachment for rider.

The directions for set-up are fairly straight forward and easy to follow. It did take me a couple of tries to get it completely reading the whole ride. The girth attachment sensors need to either be really wet or have electrode gel on them to ensure the best connectivity. I have been using water for now, but might invest in some cheap electrode or ultrasound gel from Amazon soon. The girth piece is slid under the girth (I’ve done both jumping and dressage) on the left side of the horse. Once its under, its a quick pair up with the app and you’re ready to go. For the rider heart rate, I have not actually used the provided heart rate monitor. I prefer to ride with my Apple Watch which easily connects to the Hylofit app to capture my heart rate.

The Hylofit does require you to ride with your phone in your left pocket while capturing heart rates which can sometimes be difficult if you wear breeches with only the short upper pockets or prefer to not ride with your phone. I have found that a jacket pocket is still close enough to the transmitter to capture the data, but prefer my riding tights with size pockets.

I have had about 5 rides using the Hylofit and really enjoy the information I am capturing from it. My first four rides have been on Montego and my most recent on MacHenry (a 16.3 Draft Cross). Hylofit easily allows you to add multiple horses and separates the data for you in the app.

It was shocking the difference of heart rates between the two horses. MacHenry is larger and a bit more out of shape than Montego which was easy to tell by his heart rate. During our longer sets of trot and canter, Mac was getting into the 80-90% category for prolonged periods of time. For a 30 min ride, I knew exactly how his was recovering and doing as to not over exhaust him in the beginning of these conditioning rides. I am looking forward to using this more to see how his conditioning improves.

Overall, I am really happy with the technology of the Hylofit System. If I constantly kept it on my girth I might use it more often than I do, but sometimes I honestly forget I have it. It has been a great tool to better understand the condition my horse is in. Most of the time I think the ride is hard and Montego is barely breaking a sweat. I wish I had only gotten the horse transmitter and girth connection as I only use my Apple Watch for my heart rate, but it is nice to have if other people in the barn want to give it a try on their horses.

Mask Monday

With COVID-19 still shutting down most of Pennsylvania until June 4th, I have decided to fully embrace the masks in public places. At this point if I am going to wear them they might as well be cute and horse themed.

My first two fun masks were gifted to me on my birthday from Friend W at the barn. The unicorn one was made from one of her local friends and she got the dressage themed one from Two Old Mares. I have definitely been getting some longer stares and weird looks at the stores I still have to go in, but I love adding a little fun to this quarantine life.

I listened into the USEF webinar this week on some of the precautions they will be taking as they begin to start shows up again and it looks like masks will likely be a big part of our immediate future. Right now, they are advising anyone on the ground wear a mask; however, mounted riders will be exempt. So naturally I went online shopping and bought two more masks. Dreamers and Schemers is one of my favorite stores to buy cute designed socks from and now they are selling masks to be delivered end of May. I continued with my unicorn theme and added and Unicorn Donut Mask and Alpaca Mask. I’m sure as more and more stores come out with interesting face masks I’ll jump on that bandwagon too. I want to be safe and stay fashionable at the same time!

Montego has also gotten some new masks this week: fly masks. Besides the 35 degree day we had on Saturday, the warmer weather is finally here and so are the flies. With Riding Warehouse’s 15% off sale I got a Cashel Mint Fly Mask for him to wear with his muzzle as his long nose it too much material with the muzzle. Then I found the most amazing this and for $10 I had to buy it. Who can resist a Unicorn Fly mask! It is Professional Choice and a stretchy material design so it is pulled on and off really easily. The material is very light and airy so I think it will be nice on super hot days. I also like that is covers his skin completely where he just got bit by the tick. Incase we have another incident of that, I know the scabs will be completely covered.

Thoroughly not impressed
\More interested when I offer him treats as an incentive

Have any of you jumped on the fun mask bandwagon for you or your horse?

Land of Ticks

Having a horse in SE PA comes with the fun of a lot of ticks. Deer ticks are very prevalent in this area, so it is not uncommon for at least one horse in the barn to be diagnosed with Lymes Disease every year or so. A big part of my grooming routine in Spring/Summer is going into all the little crevices to see if there are any ticks hiding on Montego. When he was boarded in Maine the ticks were never as bad because of the colder winters. About two weeks ago, I pulled my first tick off of Montego. I had felt a swollen lump under his chin with a little scab but as I looked closer I saw tiny tiny legs. Pulled it off completely and cleaned the site thinking that would be the end of it. Well about two days later, his whole under jaw started breaking out in oozy scabs. It got worse before it got better.

Day 3

Every day, the scabs seemed to be oozing more and his hair started falling off as it moved down his chin. His behavior did not change so I felt no need to call the vet, just watch it and keep it clean. It took about 5 days before the scabs stopped oozing and turned into actual healing. My routine included cleaning the whole area with alcohol and then switching back and forth between Silver Sulfa Cream and Mary’s Botanicals Summer Sore Paste. Now that the scabs are completely closed, I have been applying the summer sore paste about every other day to keep the flies off and promote hair regrowth.

Day 7
Day 9

It’s been about two weeks now and we’re finally in the homestretch of healing. I have never had a horse react this way to ticks before. During the two weeks, his behavior never really changed to make me think I needed to get him tested for Lymes but it was a very interesting experience. Thank goodness it was on a part of him that is easily hidden!

Day 14

Do any of your horses have these types of reactions to tick bites? Any suggestions to keep ticks to a minimum this season, would love to hear!

Birthday Week!

I am a Cinco de Mayo baby, so the 1st day of May is always one of my favorites because its the start of my birthday week and usually means the Kentucky Derby is only a few days away. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 for the first time in my life I will not be watching the Derby on my birthday week. Luckily, this weekend was still filled with many fun horsey adventures.

Friday I got off work and headed out to the barn to ride. Montego had the vet out this week for annual shots with the rest of the barn and a couple of the horses (including mine) got put into the category of “too fat out of winter”. This means muzzles. Last year when I brought Montego home from Maine, he did really well on the turnout without a muzzle. In Maine, he was on a dry lot all year with hay but no grass fields. However, at his current barn he is fed buffet style which he is not complaining about and honestly I don’t either. They are fed the nicest quality free choice hay all day on turnout and all night in their stall. Unfortunately, Montego he took it a little too far and needs to cut back on the Spring grass.

Greengard Muzzle (Montego is sporting the lime green color)

I ordered two muzzles to try this year: the Flexible Filly Thinline Muzzle and the Greengard Muzzle. Both offer more airflow and comfort than your typical muzzles. I started with the Thinline on Wednesday. Right now the grass on the rested fields is extremely tall and with a more open muzzle, Montego has figured out to eat through the sides. So now were onto the Greengard which is a little more closed in and hopefully that keeps his grass intake lower. This horse does not even get a lot of grain: 1lb ration balancer AM/PM. It goes to show just how important forage is in a horses diet.

“What Mom I’m really not that dirty”

Saturday was another gorgeous day weather wise which I took full advantage of it and cleaned/organized some of my tack at the barn. With rain at the end of last week, Montego was a mud ball but got him groomed up and did a quick easy ride on him around the grass fields.

Notice how clean the other horses in the field are besides these two

Sunday, I was back out early to help friend W run some errands for the barn. We ventured out to Lowes in our new dressage themed face-masks and got a bunch of items for some painting projects around the barn. The jumps we have have not been painted in about 6 years so they are due for some TLC. We also wanted to paint our supplement/vet cabinets in the feed room to have a nice chalkboard front.

If I’m going to wear a face mask, must be horse themed!
Painting jumps 6 years ago 2014

Once we got back to the barn we did some much needed power washing starting with blankets. This year I decided instead of sending all my blankets to get professionally washed to try doing it myself. I have a washer for just my horse things at home so I am hoping with some Nikwash and Waterproofing they’ll be good as new for next year and I’ll save a little bit of money. Next, we started on the jumps that have been sitting outside the ring collecting dirt and growing grass. A quick pass of those and they should be ready to go for painting this week/weekend.

The poor rotting coop now 2020

The rest of this week is looking pretty nice weather wise, so I am hoping to get some good rides in to prepare for an online dressage show next week! Details coming soon.

How did you spend your weekend? Hopefully the spring weather has allowed you to spend more time outside!

Supporting Small Businesses

While my shopping addiction during quarantine has most definitely gotten out of control, it has not been to only the large retailers. Some of my favorite small businesses have been having sales through early this year and I have been taking advantage of those sales as I continue to be stuck at home.

Mary’s Botanicals: I found this business through instagram and I always like giving natural products a try before those filled with a ton of chemicals and ingredients. I think I have about every horse product from her site minus the rat stick (PA just does not have the same rat problem as CA). All of her products smell amazing and I am confident that they are not hurting my horse because of the all natural oils and ingredients used.

Montego is very reactive to flies in the summer and I have found that this fly spray not only keeps the bugs away longer, but it leaves his coat shiny and hydrated rather than oily and greasy. The summer sore paste is my other go to product all year long. After our very wet Winter and Spring, Montego usually always comes out of turnout with some sort of scratches/greasy heel from the mud (one of the many perks of having a horse with 3 white socks).

Some of their other items that have made their way into my daily use include Muscle Spray, Fly Lotion, Bit Stick, and Hoof Spray (keeps thrush down).

New spray bottle because my clumsy ass dropped the pretty one

Next is Two Dark Bays Custom Tack: I found this store while on Facebook and was seriously impressed with the quality and design I had to order some items. My first order took place back in November where I got a really nice custom browband and jumping gloves for me and one of my barn friends! She can seriously crystallize anything you want! I chose the teal to purple ombre as their my favorite colors and a simple black to clear ombre for my dressage bridle.

Recently, TDB was having another sale so I got a white pair of dressage gloves with purple crystals for showing and a fun black silver glitter halter. Both products again were made beautifully and I know I will be ordering more in the future.

The customer service this business offers is amazing! From the beginning of my order Emily walked me through what choices in colors/designs I could make and puts them together beautifully! So happy to have found her business

Many people I follow on Facebook and Instagram have been posting about If The Bonnet Fits for quite some time, but I jumped on the bandwagon on recently and I wish I had sooner. Like I mentioned above, my favorite colors are Tealish/Turquoise and Purple, so when ITBF was having a sale on some similar colors I couldn’t help myself! Sierra offered the same amazing customer service as Emily with gathering certain design ideas my mind may not have come up with. I decided to go with 3 bonnets. Two for schooling and one a more formal show bonnet.

The final product was better than I could have even expected. The quality is better than the name brand bonnets found at tack stores and they are fully custom. I chose a closed stitch bonnet for all three and the the ear material for the mint and eggplant are a mesh lycra and the grape is full spandex. The idea behind the mint bonnet was to be a fun mermaid like design and it fits Montego’s head beautifully. I have not tried the others yet riding but will grab pictures soon when I do.

The shipping was super fast after the 4 week wait time for making, but totally worth the wait. Each bonnet comes in a small canvas bag to keep them clean and organized in your tack trunk.

The two purple designs were to match my LeMieux Jump Pad and Purple Woof Boots and the colors are spot on. I am hoping to get to use the Eggplant as a show bonnet once our dressage series starts up again. I think its subtle enough but still adds a bit of fun to your typical black and white dressage outfits.

What are some of your favorite small businesses to support? I am always on the hunt for new products to try!