Big, Ugly Frogs

Dressage for Mere Mortals

In Japan there’s a saying that goes like this: “Eat your biggest, ugliest frog first.”

I love this phrase, which I take to mean, “Tackle your largest problems before anything else.” When it comes to riding, transitions are the biggest, ugliest frogs in my itinerary. Nothing else shows off flaws more quickly, other than falling off.

In the spirit of eating that big, ugly frog, I asked Natalie (as in Natalie Perry Dressage) if we could tackle transitions in today’s lesson. Natalie’s always up for a challenge and was happy to help.

Transitions are all about preparation and part of that preparation is the half-halt. While I use half-halts somewhat intuitively in the trot, in the excitement of the canter, they’re sporadic.

My thought was to work on the the half-halt in the trot to lengthen and shorten the gait. Then, with the cues imbedded in my brain, work on…

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Facebook Helps Save Horse from Being “Eaten by Lions”

I may ruffle a few feathers by posting this. A few years ago I would have been enraged that the owner was considering send the horse to the lions.
Now, as I’ve gotten older and I’ve seen multiple people neglect and starve their horses I think that sometimes donating a horse to a program like this is the best thing for all parties involved.
Would I ever sell my horses for meat? No. I wouldn’t. They are pets and they are worth more to me than my health. I have sacrificed my honor and my name and my reputation to keep my horses. At the end of the day I don’t care what people say about me. My primary goal is to do what is best for my horses.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to care for two lovely horses. I had a third which I fought to keep safe. I bought her from auction (she wasn’t taken care of); if I was a more dramatic person I would say I rescued her from certain death.
Did I?
I’m not sure. This past year I lost a lot of things. I lost my honor, my hope and my faith in a high power. I fought to keep my horses fed. I often went without food. I struggled to work enough to pay the bills. I apologize for this tangent.
My story won’t be told as I’m not one to proclaim from the rooftops about how great I am for struggling. We all struggle.
Lexy, the mare I bought from auction, had cancer. I networked out and was able to give her up to a rescue- they were able to send her to get cancer treatment. Lexy is going to help in the fight to destroy cancer. Having to struggle as I did is worth it because she deserved to have someone fight for her.
This story is one about people giving up and not knowing where to turn. That is the truth. Horse people need to come together and build each other up so that horse owners don’t have to make the heart wrenching decision of sending their horses off to become meat.

Straight from the Horse's Heart

Sonja Haller, The Republic | azcentral.com

“They can be food for the cats, and it’s better than putting (the horses) in a landfill,”

Jim Gath, the owner and chief operator at Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary, interacts with his horses daily and makes sure they always have enough attention and human interaction. (Photo: Dominic Valente/The Republic, Dominic Valente/The Republic) Jim Gath, the owner and chief operator at Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary, interacts with his horses daily and makes sure they always have enough attention and human interaction. (Photo: Dominic Valente/The Republic, Dominic Valente/The Republic)

The headline over the Facebook story could have read: Old, arthritic horse fed to the lions.

The true story, however, has more shades of gray and no-clear cut antagonist. But it did have a happy ending for the hero, a 20-year-old gelding named Spencer.

Spencer was a family horse boarded in Sedona. Once ridden by the family’s children, who had scattered, Spencer had been without a rider for three years. His owner, who lived in Utah, wanted to find him a new home.

“He needed a job. He needed a…

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Centaur

There is an undercurrent in the horse world that sends all horse riders towards one dream and goal. To be one with the horse. The idea is that you and your horse are of one mind and one spirit. Many toss away that notion without really thinking about it. Others never meet the horse that will show them the way.

I rode my mare bareback last weekend. She is ridiculously out of shape and her hind legs are stiff. She still floats when she moves. I haven’t really ridden her in over two years. School then working full time then breeding her made it so that I didn’t want to ride. I’ve popped on her a few times but I never really focused on riding her to become one.

So, I know she sensitive and listens to all of my aids. I had a light bulb moment so to speak. The ride was amazing. She knew I wanted to do more and tried oh, how she tried. I asked her to trot through the corners and she was all off balance. I realized that she wasn’t fit enough to do that. Once I stopped asking her to do what hurt her she responded by following every little thing I asked her.

At the end of the ride I had her stop. She stopped at an angle. I literally just thought “Please move your hind quarters to the left and square up”. She did exactly that.

That is the ultimate goal of riding- to be able to think and the horse does. In return the horse responds and you accept. It is a constant exchange of energy. One that is balanced and true. I’m not sure if that makes sense to you but it makes sense to me. I’ve been blessed with the ability to work with and be the human to several horses. I am so thankful for that opportunity.

It is easy for me to forget how blessed I am when my muscles ache and I’m running well past empty. It is easy to forget how blessed I am when I just want to curl up in a ball and not move. My horses remind me that they need me as much as I need them.

Mare and Fillies, oh my!

Each and every horse person I meet is certain they know more than everyone else. Whether it be the retired, man-hating woman who dotes on her pet horsie or the little kid who rides without regard to safety both assume that they were enlightened by the horse gods. 

Opinions are irrelevant in the horse world. I’m guilty of living that statement. When it comes to my horses know one knows them better than I do. I have strict expectations about horse care; I take care of my horses because I don’t want other people to take care of them. 

I can say that I have had success in training horses and in keeping horses healthy. Fae just had the vet out for her first round of shots- she was very, very good. She didn’t run away or freak out. She wiggled a little bit but was way more tolerant than I expected. Fae has been a dream to raise and super easy to train. She has a thirst for knowledge and loves to please. She will be wonderful undersaddle.

As a newbie breeder I wasn’t sure what would happen. I knew the foal would be good because Julie is a doll. I didn’t put as much thought into which stallion to use as I should have because the main thing I was focused on was getting a foal from Julie. As a horse breeder, I believe that mares and fillies are more important than colts, geldings and stallions. Mares raise the next generation of horses and fillies are future mares.

I am a mare person and I am excited for the next few years. I’m excited to see how far Fae and I will go.

What does the horsie say? Seriously.

This is a great topic that more horse people need to think about.

Relaxed & Forward: AnnaBlakeBlog

WMHannahHugOur barn rat, Hannah, didn’t meet the horses her first visit to the farm. She was only 3 days old. We waited till her second visit later that week. It was love at first sight for all of us. By the time she was toddling and learning to talk, she knew all the horse’s names. Her parents taught her the animal sound game, “What does a horsie say?” Hannah’s answer was a high-pitched, arching trill, “Nei-ay-ay-agh!” Her voice is so high that it is almost inaudible to anyone but the dogs.

Warning: Do not be fooled by the tutu. Don’t let the pink-themed wardrobe distract you. Don’t let the near toxic level of cuteness cancel out the message.

With the parent’s game over, Hannah wandered down the stall row and came to Grace’s pen. The mare met her at the gate with her nose toddler high and gave her one…

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Developing the business

It’s not easy being a horse person. It is a difficult path to walk down. The hard path is being an equestrian professional. Most horse people want to deal only with the horses. That sounds great in theory but in actuality people pay the bills. The horses are just the icing on the cake.

I love the horse world. I love how close-knit we are and how willing people are to help others out. I’ve decided to start my consulting business because I want to help other horse people create and maintain sustainable horse careers. Here is the website to New England Equine Consulting

Contact me at felicia.j.fountain@gmail.com for more information regarding pricing and services offered.

 

 

 

Scottsdale

 

SamandScotty

We horse people know that horses bring both great joy and great sorrow. Sometimes, it is easy to forget how fragile they are. Today, my friend lost her horse Scottsdale. He was a beautiful thoroughbred gelding that dazzled all who watched him move. Sam and Scotty competed in the New England hunter circuit.They competed at a regional show this past weekend.

Several year ago Scotty had colic surgery and had his colon removed. Scotty colicked late last night and this morning Sam discovered him in pain and hurting. She did all she could for him but ultimately decided that it was in his best interest to let him go. Scotty will be missed by all. He was uniquely him and his quirky personality will be greatly missed.

As I write this I am reminded that we are so very lucky that we have horses in our lives. They are freedom contained in fleet footed bodies. Unfortunately, we can only borrow that freedom and must let it go.

It is never easy saying good-bye to a companion like Scotty. He will be missed. I know that he is galloping in a large grassy field enjoying hooves that don’t have to touch the ground.
Rest In Peace, Scotty.
SamandScotty2

ScottyandSam3

Developing breeding goals

As I continue on my journey of developing a business plan for my long term goals of owning the premier Trakehner breeding farm in Connecticut I want to show you this amazing horse. She is a horse of dreams.

She is going to go up for auction in September.
Her full brother is also up for sale as well as their dam.
I want to buy the three of them as well as another brood mare.
I’m salivating at the idea of owning my own Trakehner breeding farm.
I love my Julie and Fae but these horses would be great buys.
I’m writing for the American Trakehner Association and I love it. I have to work on some more articles but I want to help promote and further the breed.
I love my Trakehners and I want to see the breed grow.

Whatever it takes- I’ll do it.

My goal is to show my home-bred horses at local, regional and national shows. I want to bring attention to the noble Trakehner breed. While my pockets are empty my head is full of big dreams.

Who knows- maybe my stars will change tomorrow and my ship will finally come to port.

My goal for furthering the Trakehner breed is to spice up the color options by breeding for pintos and for double dilute genes. As well as breeding for superior movement for hunters, dressage and eventing.
My goal is to have a broodmare herd of six and to produce 1-3 foals a year. I plan on having two stallions at stud. I want to compete with four horses a year. As well as promote and preserve the Trakehner breed.
Who’s ready to see me succeed?

The Trakehners in my life

Nothing worth having is easy to get (keep or hold on to) that is certainly the case with keeping my horse dreams alive. I’ve been fighting to stay financially stable (really, trying to get somewhere close to financially stable). I’ve gone through multiple panic attacks and I’ve had multiple moments of I’m going to give up. I can’t do this anymore.

I’ve hit that point so often that I keep looking over my shoulder waiting for the meat truck to roll up the drive and take my horses from me. That is where I’m at. I’m so afraid that the two creatures I’ve fought so hard for are going to be ripped from me. It’d be better if someone ripped my heart out of my chest. I’m getting anxious just imagining someone appearing to take my horses from me.

Here is a picture of Julie and Fae meeting for the first time:

 

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Here is a picture of them (and me) when Fae was about two months old:

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Here is a picture of them now:

 

 

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Don’t look at my horrible expression. The sun was in my eyes and they were both annoyed that they weren’t in their turnout area eating.

Fae is an amazing baby. I don’t know how I ended up with such an amazing foal. This is my first baby and my first experience training a foal. It makes me feel like I’m an amazing horse trainer but really, it’s because I have such an amazing horse (Julie) who is a phenomenal mother. So much has happened this past year. It’s been a long and bumpy ride. Fae will be a year in a little over a month. At this point last year I just bought Lexy and she was in quarantine. Julie was very pregnant and I was worried she was going to go into labor early. If only I knew she’d be a month overdue. You live and you learn. You just have to keep on trying.

I don’t want to lose them. I don’t want to lose the baby I’ve dreamed about for years. Nor do I want to lose the mare who is the most amazing horse I’ve ever met. She blows every other horse out of the water when it comes to temperament, rideability and personality.

I love Trakehners. I love how funny, peculiar and loyal they are. I love my horses with all of my heart. I pray that this love won’t be in vain. I pray my story will be one of triumph and not despair.