“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.

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.