Montego and I finally made it to our first schooling dressage show of the season! A little later than I was hoping to because ideally I would love to show before the heat of the summer (me + heat = a disaster). Our plan was to enter in Training 2 and Training 3 to attempt at getting some qualifying scores for our GMO end of year championship show, and see where we are starting out this year. This was also the first time I was going to be trailering my own trailer and horse to the show rather than just riding passenger.
I got to the barn about 3 hours before I was planning to pull out to make sure I had everything in order. We are lucky the show is only a 7 minute drive from our barn so super low key drive to get there, a perfect maiden voyage to test everything out. I planned on just bathing Montego, cleaning my tack, loading up the trailer, and doing some other things around the barn before leaving. Probably over estimated how much time I needed, but it was nice to not feel rushed.
Montego has been on solo-turnout for a while 1. due to him mounting Luna and 2. he has been acting as a buddy for the horse currently on stall rest due to colic surgery. For some reason, he decided he no longer could stand not seeing any friends and continued to SCREAM while getting his bath which he never does. Decided braiding was really overkill for such a low-key show so we skipped that, but I did give him a nice 1/2 dose of Perfect Prep to make sure he was a chiller by the time we arrived at the show.
We were one of the last two scheduled riders for the day, but the lady in between us ended up being a no show so we brought the show home. Our warm-up was mediocre, but I am not a big fan of a long warm-up anyway so I was ready to just see what we were gonna get in the ring. Montego was feeling a little tight and resistant to bending through his back so I figured we might get some tension points in our tests. He is really due to get his hocks done which I think will make his overall demeanor much happier in the sandbox.
Our Test 2 test definitely did not feel like our best ride, but he was clean and concise in his transitions and we got some great feedback from the judge. I am heavy on my inside rein to bend instead of pushing him with my inside leg to outside rein (something I am working on constantly in lessons). We still managed to score a 70% so on par with our previous tests.
Test 3, I was a bit scattered brain after a long day so far, he was tired from no break in between and I was chasing him around more this test to get any sort of energy we had left. My geometry for this test was WAYYY off… problem of riding in a shorter and wider ring than regulation. But the judge still loved Montego and we scored a 68.27%. I am really happy with both tests and it gives us a good list to work on for our show season this year.
These two solid scores definitely put us on a great track for the rest of the year, now for planning the rest of our season and getting Luna started in the dressage world too!
As I mentioned briefly in my last post, I officially have a new to me trailer. I had been casually trailer searching this past year especially now that I have two horse that I plan on bringing a bunch of places. Two boarders at my barn have trailers and have always been so nice to invite me and my horses to trail outings, lessons, and shows; but not owning your own trailer you are always subject to their schedule. Most trailers that I have seen posted on Facebook have been selling within a matter of hours. I saw this one posted immediately messaged the owner and then it was a bit of a waiting game. She had a few cosmetic fixes she wanted to do before selling it, but I was sure at that price I was definitely going to miss out on another trailer.
Lucky for me I must have been the least annoying person pestering her about this trailer and she knew I was seriously interested so it did end up luckily being mine!! Something I had on my goals for a while was learning to drive and own a trailer, and I am really happy it all fell into place right before our little show season began.
Its already had its maiden voyage with Montego in tow. We attended a local schooling dressage show. First time showing Montego this year, first time ever driving my horse in a horse trailer, and first time ever driving MY horse trailer. I was a bit scattered brained by the time we got there, but everything went so smoothly I could not be happier.
There are a couple minor improvements I would love to make to the trailer to make it more comfortable for me and the horses, but I am really happy that I have this option now to take to more shows, lessons, and clinics when I want to. Now I need any and all recommendations of things you cannot live without in your trailer. The tack room isn’t huge, but not tiny either so I want to make sure I maximize my space and have all the essentials 🙂
It’s hard to believe that it is June already. The first half of this year has really seem to have just flown by. I am glad as we get into consistently nicer weather, I have had more time to ride both of my horses on a more regular schedule. Daylight savings also makes this so much easier because the sun does not set until about 8:30 now which is amazing for some cooler night time riding. Half way through the year I wanted to look back more specifically at the goals at set at the beginning of the year and definitely make some adjustments for the next 6 months.
Goal 1: 3 Recognized Dressage Shows- Right now we have completed 0 Recognized shows but have enough on the calendar that I am not too worried about this goal. I have entered Montego into our first Schooling show in June. I plan on riding him in Training 2 and Training 3 tests. I am hoping this show will qualify us for our USDF Area Group Championship show, but it will be a good test to get out this year and see where we are compared to last year. The recognized shows on my radar are a couple local (5-10 min from our home barn) shows usually run on a Wednesday. I try to avoid July and Early August shows just because I HATE the heat, but we have some in late August, September, and October to look forward to. My big recognized show I plan on entering is the Dunmovin Dressage at Devon show end of August. There is an adult amateur only show before and then a recognized show the day after so thats the show I have been looking forward too since they announced it would be at Devon in 2019. I am dying to ride down the centerline in those arenas so very excited it will be happening this year.
Goal 2: Buy a Trailer- I will likely have a follow-up post on this soon, but I officially have my own trailer and I could not be more excited. I have always been super grateful for awesome barn friends who are always willing for me to tag along to events and shows, but having a trailer of my own will make this so much easier and less dependent on anyone else’s trailer. It’s a 2007 Cotner Trailer in great shape and was a steal of a price so I am very excited to have this for our future adventures.
Goal 3: Get Luna off Property- This goal has been a bit of a bust and was probably a stretch at the beginning of the year anyway. She has been all over our property but with winter weather and taking it slower with her training, I have not been able to get her or Montego off property as much as I would like. I think re-evaluating this goal, I would love to keep her LF shoe on long enough to actually go on adventures, but if I can get her to a clinic or off-site lesson maybe once this year I would be happy. I have no concerns that I think she will be great in a new place, but really want her going more consistently at home before I start trailering her to lessons instead of Montego.
Goal 4: Blog Once A Week- For the most part this goal has actually been kept up with. There might be a couple extra days here and there between posts, but overall my blogging and instagramming has been so much more consistent than last year where I pretty much stopped for months. I love that this blog has turned into a bit of a training journal of our progress so I am happy I have been able to stick with it and keep putting my thoughts on paper (or website).
Very excited with the progress of our goals so far.
In truly girly girl fashion, Luna is a prima donna when it comes her feet. Luckily she is well behaved for the farrier, but as I have mentioned many times before she is notorious for losing her left front shoe at the most inopportune times. She is a wild woman in the field and loves to zoomy around and usually as she is giving her best reining horse stop the LF shoe just bounces right off with her. My other horses in the past have not had any serious reoccurring lost shoes but Luna its about 2-3 weeks and like clockwork no shoe. My farrier is an absolute saint that still keeps coming out as quick as he can to put the shoe back on. SO thankful he has not dropped us as clients yet LOL.
Now its seems like we have tried everything for this horse to try and keep her shoes on her. After about 3 cycles of throwing shoes, my farrier recommended back shoes for her. I noticed a big difference in her movement, but unfortunately that did not help her throwing that front shoe. Luna lives in thick and I mean THICK bell boots 24/7. While we ride, while she’s turned out… these boots do not come off. I have tried all types, Davis, Rubber, Neoprene: none seem to be the one yet to keep that shoe on. Yesterday she just ripped the whole shoe and bell boot off in one piece together.
I have some go to products that I have definitely stocked up on because of Luna. That includes: rolls and rolls of vet wrap for wrapping, duct tape, diapers. This was my go to for wrapping with the first couple times she continuously lost shoes. I also should just buy stock in Magic Cushion because this horse almost always has this on her foot. While she does not always do horrible damage to her foot when she does pull the shoe, she does get pretty sensitive on hard ground and easily stone bruises which leaves me with a lame horse about a week after the shoe is put back on. The minute she loses that shoe Magic Cushion is stuffed up in there to try and relieve any pain or heat that she might have already caused herself
After like the 4th time of her pulling her shoe, I bit the bullet and invested in those Sparkly Cavallo boots so I did not have to keep wrapping her foot myself. Anyone could just slip the boot on her and she can wear that out in the field for a couple of days until my farrier is able to make it out. She has some pretty weirdly sized feet, so I ordered a size 4 and 5 to try.
She is double bell booted on her left side. I am still trying to figure out a better solution because the two I have on her right now are not my favorite. I think around 2 weeks I am planning on turning her out with the Cavallo Boot and shoe and see if we can keep that shoe on the entire cycle. I’d rather her destroy the boot than her foot.
Open to any and all helpful tips for those with horses that love to only wear some of their shoes 🙂
OK so slacking a little bit here on my goal to blog every week at least…this past was a little busy with some unexpected surprises so I am back on the blogging train. Unfortunately, one of the horses in our barn had Emergency Colic surgery a week ago, but is luckily coming home today. They ended up having to take 4 feet out of his intestine due to strangulation from a lipoma. A very stressful situation for everyone in our tight knit barn family, but we are just so happy he is on his way to recovery! Colic man, it hits fast and out of no where. I have had my minor experiences with gas colic and the occasional tubing but never on this level. He was out grazing when I had left the barn earlier that day and 4.5 hours later on the table for major surgery.
It was a reminder to just how precious every moment I get with my horses is. Both have been really great the past couple of weeks. Montego has been in steady work again prepping for the show season. The vet was out for both horses for annual Spring Vaccinations and coggins. Montego has some slight hesitation in his LH stifle and both hocks so I think I will schedule to have them injected again end of May. The hock injections really made a difference for him at the canter last year so hoping that we will have that success again this year. Luna was great for all her vaccinations. I had the vet look at her right hip that seems to be the only lingering problem from her fence injury. Nothing she was overly concerned about, but suggested as I increase her strength training with gridwork and hills to strengthen her stifles I throw her a bit of bute here and there to keep her comfortable.
Luna had also recently gotten hind shoes as a recommendation by my farrier to hopefully help stop the removal of her LF shoe every 2.5 weeks. He’s hoping its just the way she’s learning to use her body and that when her front legs learn to get out of the way of her hind she will stop ripping that damn shoe off. WELL….it didn’t exactly work like that. Exactly 2.5 weeks from when our farrier was out she was running around like a nut in her field and poof LF shoe off. I did actually have new Cavallo boots to put on her after the shoe pull to see if I could minimize the amount of wrapping I have to do between when my farrier can come back out to put it on. They were so new and sparkly, but now completely covered in mud…SIGH. I ordered size 4 and size 5 because her two front feet are actually different sizes. The farrier is luckily coming out today to put the shoe back on, so I will ask him if he has any other suggestions to keep me from seeing him every two or three weeks. I am going to try the professionals choice no turn bell boots, she lives in rubber ones now 24/7 but maybe a harder material will help. If any one has any ideas I am desperate. My poor farrier probably hates me by now LOL.
Before Luna decided to pull her shoe, we were having some really nice rides. My jumping trainer returned from her winter in Wellington and did a training ride on Luna for me. It was the first time she has met her, but she really liked her brain and movement for me. The biggest take aways from that riding with spurs is a must. She respects them so much more than a whip and it just helps to gently remind her forward is better and she needs to move laterally to supple herself and balance. She is such a big horse getting her front end to match her hind end is a bit of a challenge right now, but with a lot of transitions and lateral movements I think we are going places in our training. I did end up switching her bit again and am actually riding her in the same one as Montego, the Stubben EZ control. Its just a normal loose ring 3 piece, but when the horses get heavy on the bit it locks into a Mullen. I think she is overall the least mouthy in this bit and paired with a flash she does not have a rogue tongue sticking out in all directions.
Best news of all…I finally found a saddle for Luna too! I ended up going with an Amerigo DJ Monoflap (post to come soon on the new saddles). After riding Dressage, I just could not go back to the short billets and since my goal is not hunters mono flap is perfect for us. My goal is to have the saddle fitter out to flock both saddles to the horses, but I am very excited to be over with the saddle shopping for now.
Dressage lessons this weekend, so I am sure to have updates and new riding video. Goal is to stay on the blogging train!
Spring is in full force and I am not complaining. My seasonal allergies are back and the amount of hair that I come home with on me every day from the barn are the best signs that the weather is finally warmer and here to stay. Spring has also brought on some new problems especially for Montego. He is currently separated from the herd because he decided out of nowhere to develop his stallion tendencies and has started mounting Luna and the other mare Tes in the field. Before I got Montego, he was only in solo turnout in small paddocks and sometimes had a gelding buddy, so while I knew his experience with mares was limited he has been with mares at our current farm for over a year and has had none of this behavior. I think a lot of it is that he is bored and Luna is a newer younger mare. Luna is a kicker too so all it would take would her to stand up to him one time and he’d cut it out, but of course the time I want her to kick she won’t!!! He’s been separated for about 2 weeks now, but as the horses are starting to go back out on the grass pastures he has been re-integrated and fingers crossed has not been getting into any trouble. I think he honestly is bored and luckily is such a piggy he’d rather stuff his face with grass than interact with the mares.
Don’t worry, Luna has been getting herself in just enough trouble too. My farrier mentioned last cycle that if she kept throwing her LF shoe we should think about putting hind shoes on her to see if she moves a little better and gets that front left shoe out of the way. We were on such a good track and then one week before my farrier was supposed to come out….no LF shoe. At this point my farrier probably wants to kill me but luckily is a saint and is coming out earlier to do both of their shoes and put hinds on Luna. I am hoping this helps with her just chucking off this LF shoe whenever she feels like it. I am looking into Cavallo boots as a backup to wrapping it because my wrapping duties are not even up to par with Luna’s antics in the field.
The saddle hunt is still on, but I am one step closer to the finish line. I found a really nice 2009 Custom Wolfgang Solo online that looked wide enough for Montego. I took it on trial and it does not even look close to its age!! Full buffalo leather and has the most comfortable seat and short blocks in a saddle that I have ever ridden in. My legs finally feel like they’re in the right place for dressage. The saddle is now officially mine so I am happy I have something to start really training in again for Montego and my show season this year. Once I find a jumping saddle I like for Luna, I will probably have my saddle fitter come out again to make sure the flocking and fit is perfect for the two problem children.
Other than that both have been really great for riding. We are taking full advantage of this beautiful weather to get out and hack the hills for some conditioning work. My goal for Montego is to get to a schooling show or two in May and maybe a recognized in June. I like to try to beat the heat for show season. I think we both do a little bit better in cooler weather. I would love to get Luna off property to a couple of clinics or even a schooling show early summer. She has come a long way in a short time and I am excited to start jumping her soon.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Very excited to have found this company! Will definitely be placing my order again soon as they both finished their balls this week.
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.
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.
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.
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.