Happiness is owning a chestnut mare.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Contagious Tots

Oh Lordy.

It has been a super long time since I updated. Mainly because I am a teacher and the first month literally kicked my ass. Things are started to quiet down at work so I am able to spend more time with my Tots again. Upon close inspection of said mare I discovered something horrendous: fungi!!!!!!!!!!!

It all began 3 weeks ago. I went out to ride and her entire left side was covered in what I thought were hives. She did not seem upset by them and they did not seem to be by her saddle area, so I rode her anyway. We gave her some benadryl and they were gone in a few days...

In their wake she was covered in crusty, dry, flakey nastiness on her shoulder, barrel and hindquarter. I have been told that my description is forms quite the mental picture that is much worse than it actually looks, but still I was peeved. I was especially peeved because it seemed to now be centered around her girth area..so I was grounded.

I spent 4-5 days currying and betadining. I thought it was looking better and I was just about to ride again when I GOT THE G.D. FLU!!!!! I ended up not coming out to the barn for 4 days. Which is crazy for me. I might miss 2 days because I go to see my family on a weekend but 4 days?! OYE!

So I come back after my 4 day hiatus and now the fungus that I thought was cleared up was over on the other side and even worse!!!!!! along with 2 open sores on her girth area. serves me right for staying home when I feel sick instead of going to the barn in 50 degree rain. ugh.

So my quest has continued over the past week. New fungal treatments and sulfer baths. So annoying. I haven't ridden in 2 1/2 weeks and I am sure she is going to be a peach when I get back on. I have been working her on the longe and free longing her over some jumps. She isn't lame or hurting, she just has contagious shit all over her saddle area.

I have lysoled/bleached/disinfected all of my tack, pads, blankets and grooming stuff and it was a HUGE PAIN IN MY ASS. Because of what a huge pain in the ass this was I am going to continue working her on the ground until it is cleared up because I don't want to go through all this shit again. Plus I doubt the other boarders are interested in having my contagious tack all over the tackroom.

What a horrible fall thus far.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Oh Summer, where did you go?

Taters is in heat and therefore acting unworthy of a post devoted to her today :)

Today is Friday, August 24th. My last real day of summer. Summer camp is over. Taters has 6 more days of boot camp, and then we go back to our "real life." I feel like this is my real life though. I am never happier than I am at the barn teaching and hugging ponies. That is when I am home, that is my real life. I do like my job, but common people! So many people say do not do horses as a job because then it wont be fun anymore. I have worked full time at barns at different points in my life and the time outside (well maybe not cleaning stalls in Feb, but still) is the best time of my life. Oh to win the lottery so that Taters and I can live happily ever after.

I need to stop feeling such sorrow. Anyway, here is a video from todays summer camp festivities. No, Taters isn't in it. Maybe next year she will be ready for egg and spoon...or maybe she and I will never be ready-she is way too bouncy, I would loose immediately. So instead of riding my Tots, I rode my other bff HB, aka the best pony ever born. Honeybear doesn't like everyone. She is downright sassy to some people. For whatever reason she and I are good friends (yes, I consider horses my friends). She lets me ride her even though in reality I most likely exceed her weight limit by about 50 lbs (they should only carry 10% of their weight right? or is it 20%? I feel like either way I still am not ok haha).

Anyway, enjoy...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


There are a few quotes in my life that I have seen and really felt like they meant something to me at a particular point in my life. Last week for example, I was quoting "The Burbs" as my mother and I snuck over to my neighbors front yard to try and figure out why they have been missing all summer.

On a more meaningful note I saw this quote on facebook, and I really liked it. I am posting it here so that I never forget. It is a quote by Eddie Sweat, who happened to be the groom for one of the most famous horses in racing history, Secretariat. It goes as follows:

"Only way that horses win is if you sit there and spend time with 'em. Show 'em that you're tryin' to help 'em. Love 'em. Talk to 'em. Get to know 'em. That's what you gotta do. You love 'em and they'll love you, too. People might call me crazy, but that's the way it is."

There were some additional parts to this quote, but I took the first section. I love this quote because it is the truth. I think back to my one and only "win" thus far and I think that it really came from spending time with Taters, loving her, getting to know everything about her, helping her understand her new job, and of course spending countless hours talking to her like she understands every word I say.

Anyone from my barn who is reading this (shout out to Erica, since I know she likes to stay on top of these things) knows that I talk to the horses. I talk to them a lot. In a serious voice, in a silly voice, in an angry voice...you name it, I probably use it. In all reality I am pretty sure I spend more time talking to animals than I do people.

I love talking to people too, but I love to talk to animals, especially Taters. She is a very expressive horse and shows a ton of emotions in her eyes and nostrils. It reminds me of when I watched "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" for the first time.I just laughed and cried because of the horse conversations. No, there weren't very many actual words spoken, but the horse expressions were priceless. In parts of the movie, the horses told a wonderful story without speaking a word.

Anyway, I digress. The purpose of this post was to point out that this man is really smart, and this quote hits close to home. The quote was finished when he added:

"I been on the racetrack 34 years, and I ain't never gonna give up. I think they'll take me to my grave with a pitchfork in my hand and a rub rag in my back pocket."

I can't help but think that is the way I will head to my grave, though I will probably also have a treat or two in there-I'm a sucker for that.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Blue Ribbon Tots

Yesterday Taters had her first horse show. I had two goals going in 1) To not fall off and 2) To not injure small children. Fortunately I accomplished both of those goals, and so much more :)

Our day began with me getting to the barn at 7 instead of 6:30. I got on and schooled a little bit. She was pretty calm, we even went and cantered around the big ring twice right before the schooling ring closed but everyone had already exited. She was going pretty slow and I was feeling positive.

Then I brought her back into the barn to braid her. After half an hour I was ready to kill myself for deciding that braiding would be a good idea. Lets just say THANK GOD it was a local show, because those are the worst braids I have ever put into a mane in my life. I thought that I had pulled it enough, but that was not the case, the middle was still so thick it was nearly impossible to braid and I didn't have  the patience to do 50 braids (mainly because she didn't have the patience for me to do 50 braids). Additionally she must have rubbed it because there were shorter hairs all over the place.

Things were going good and she was pretty calm until the announcements started and people started clapping and cheering after rounds. At that point, seeing that she is Taters, she had to know what was going on. She got very upset, not in a bad way, but in her nosey/curious always needing to be in the center of everything kind of way. I took her out and we walked around the whole barn, we went over and walked through the trailers, walked around the indoor and ate some grass ring side. She loved being in the middle of everything.

We warmed up a little bit over the jumps in the indoor, but not a lot. As soon as I got on I could tell she knew something was up and she couldn't stand still for a minute. Fortunately my friend was the only entry in the Adult HUS class. They asked me if I would do the class with her and I thought that was a great way of getting Taters into the ring for some extra schooling before my division. I went into it saying that I was going to take my time with transitions, not push her and do what I need to do to make it great for her and just plan on getting second (which is hard for me because I am extremely competitive haha). It worked out very well. She was definitely still hyped up and flying around the ring, but I just took my time, did circles when needed and stayed away from the other horse and rode through it. I was very proud of her.

I was really happy that I was able to get that canter out of her system because I really did not get much cantering in when I was schooling. After we came out of the ring she was much more relaxed and calm other than refusing to stand still. We kept walking laps around the barn while we were waiting for our turn in the ring because she just could not stand. At first I was annoyed and started getting tense thinking she was going to be nuts, but I somehow was able to calm down and tell myself that it is what it is. It really worked because though we never did stop pacing, I was much more relaxed.

Then we had our division. I decided to enter her in the trot crossrails division. We are fortunate enough to have a local summer show series that allows green horses and green riders in the crossrail divisons. It was the perfect division because we are not at the point of cantering courses yet, but I really wanted her to have her first show experience involve jumping. The only problem is that our indoor is incredibly small, especially for a 16 hh OTTB mare. We had one stride between the jump and the end of the ring.

Anyway she was more amazing than she has ever been in her life. Seriously. She went into the ring relaxed and happy and only wiggled a little! I honestly think she loved it! I almost cried when I left the ring after my first course because I was so proud of her. We were showing against 4 other people, so it wasn't a huge division by any means, but we were able to walk away champions! My mom video taped  my flat class and I just couldn't believe how wonderful she was and how nicely she was moving. Even with her slightly giraffe like stance, she definitely was the closest thing to a hunter in the class. Also we didn't have to canter right, which surprised me. My only guess is it was because it was the trot crossrails class so cantering wasn't even required for our jumping classes. I couldn't believe how great she was cantering in the group of horses. It was her first time in the situation of the person in front of her starting to canter at the same time she did. Again I took my time, waited for the girl in front of me to canter, then I asked for mine. She did trot/rush into it a bit, but it was still better than I was expecting.

Ok, this was super long, so here is the video and a picture of our loot! So exciting!! I guarantee that my grandma and papa were looking down and rooting us on! I know we did them proud!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

"I got this Mom"

Today I had another lesson on my Tots and she was still pretty good. By pretty good I mean she is definitely in heat and therefore annoyingly searching for anyone, or anything who wants to be her boyfriend. She also gets supersensitive, so her already thin TB mare skin becomes an even bigger nightmare.

So my lesson went well today (I can't believe the amount of positive things I have to say about our days together-it is simply amazing.) I also had a personal accomplishment. My instructor set up a jump to a pole...now I know I never explained in detail my concussion, but my concussion happened when I attempted to do a jump to a pole. We went over the jump (which she popped because it was her first vertical), then she looked and went "oh shit a pole!" and bounced sideways to avoid it, and I continued on the straight path and landed on the opposite side of the pole. Therefore some anxiety about doing it was reasonable.

So the first time wasn't pretty, but we did it! The funny (well, I guess not funny...) part is that she already is trying to tell me "I got this mom" whenever we start jumping. This works fine for the lines, because she just does them. She has the stride. When we start doing real courses at real horse shows I will never have to worry about getting down the lines, thats for sure.

The problem is, no Taters, you haven't "got this." You really don't know what you are doing yet. For example, landing off of a line of jumps, you don't get to decide what we do, I tell you what to do. If I want to stop on a straight line, you don't brace against me then continue to do whatever the hell you want. haha. oh the joys. We did have some great moments though I think. It is hard only getting to jump once a week...preferably I would be taking her over 5-10 small crossrails 2-3 times a week. I am not the type to start hiking up fences just to see how high she can go until she knows how to make it around a course of crossrails. She is super athletic though. I definitely have my next 3' horse on my hands, if not A/O horse (if I can ever bring myself to stop teaching riding).

I also believe that her intelligence and heart will allow me to have her teach my kids how to ride (when and if I do have kids) one day. Because when she really does know her job, it will be awesome when she says "I got this kid" and takes my kids around a course like a pro.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Riding Inside

Today Taters and I rode inside for the first time. I feel like a broken record...BUT SHE WAS AMAZING!!!! I am so happy with my mare. I have been riding a solid 45 minutes a day because it is so enjoyable. Before I would push myself to make it to half an hour, try to work on things, get nothing accomplished, get frustrated and stare at the clock. Today it was more of a "OMG I have been riding almost an hour and have been here for almost 8 hours... I need to go home." haha.

But we were just having too much fun! I went a little bit longer, but I could tell she was starting to get fatigued. Not front and back tired, but side to side tired. She was just done bending and contorting her body into shapes that she isn't 100% used to yet. As soon as she starting feeling like she wasn't into it anymore we walked, walked a nice bend in each direction, then I let her have free rein. I don't want to push her to the point where she starts to resent lateral movement. She really has been picking up on it and I am so proud of her, so I don't want her to start bracing again due to fatigue.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Light as a feather, stiff as a board :/

Taters is the apple of my eye. I have owned quite a few horses, all of them I liked, but this horse is special. I know I say it all the time, but it really is true. There is something about her...she tries hard and wants to be good. I think she likes to learn and I think she feels good about my chosen career path for her. She is just so smart and lovable. Ok, I am starting to sound like one of those moms that I can't stand. haha.

Anyway, Taters has come so far this summer already. Every time we canter she is lighter and lighter. She is doing tons of circles/spirals and trying to learn what it means to bend. She has been doing some very successful leg yielding at the walk and some semi-successful leg yielding at the trot which I am very happy about. She is definitely figuring out that leg can mean more than just GO!

I am feeling more confident too for whatever reason. I took a dressage lesson on Tuesday and it was fantastic. I was yelled at a lot cause I suck, but I think by the end I had accomplished a lot. Our cantering sucked, but I know it was because in lessons I feel rushed to canter, but on my own I am relaxed and go at my own pace so it is easier.

It may not have looked like I was working really hard, but I was. This past spring I took things super slow and just kind of did whatever and wasn't particularly motivated. Now I am at the barn 6 days a week and I am totally motivated to get things done. I am trying to take two lessons a week because we are not allowed to jump on our own. I would really like to get to jump twice a week so that it becomes like second nature to her.

She loves being ridden 5-6 days a week, like most TBs do. She loves having a job to figure out. I love that I have time to ride her and motivation to get the job accomplished. I just hope that I am still feeling the same way when it is 20 degrees, I am working 730-4 and there is a blizzard outside :/

Monday, July 23, 2012

Amazing Day

Ok, so last week I was pretty busy. My bosses were out of town, and the other instructor was out of town, so I spend the entire week running camp AND teaching all the lessons. This resulted in 12 hour days all week.

Fortunately I have an amazing friend who was willing to ride Taters all week. It was fabulous because she was riding while I was teaching lessons, so I got to see every ride! It was very difficult to concentrate on the lessons that I was teaching, but it was so awesome to see someone else riding my horse and doing an amazing job!

She did a lot of cantering, which is good because for whatever reason cantering is not a strong point for me. I am not a huge fan of going super fast (but I own an OTTB...yeah, I know). Anyway, she jumped her a few times, and cantered her around a lot and it was great. It was great because seeing her doing it and not dying totally gave me the confidence to believe that I can do it too.

So I was FINALLY able to ride my horse again on Sunday and I took a lesson with my friend. My friend Bri is a quality instructor who is very knowledgable, and I do not get nervous when I ride with her. Things went wonderfully! She fit me in early in the day so no one was there yet, then half way through people started showing up, but they were people who I knew would not judge me and are big Taters supporters. It kept me relaxed and focused and we got some great stuff accomplished!

We jumped with no refusals. I KNEW the reason why I had been getting refusals my first few jumps for my last lesson was nerves. I felt so confident going up to the jumps when it was just me and Bri (and some of my other non-judgemental friends). We did great and we jumped a line STRAIGHT with perfect striding. My horse is so amazing.

I have a dressage lesson tomorrow, hopefully I can stay calm. The dressage trainer is very good and knows her stuff, and the lesson is mid afternoon when everyone is there. So considering my nerves, and the fact that the horses don't get turned out on Mondays, it is a recipe for a horrible lesson, but I am going to try and stay calm and think about how expensive the lesson is and how I need to make the most out of it! haha.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 5

Today was day 5 at Skib. I rode Tots on Wednesday and she was phenominal. Lots of horses in the ring, she was totally calm, but always trying to get a glimpse of what is going on EVERYWHERE around her. She cantered alright, but definitely went FLYING up the long side (Skib's ring is much bigger than our ring at home) we did a lot of circles and she did a lot of fighting me, but it was ok because thats just where we are right now.

Yesterday I had my first lesson with my trainer. I was very nervous. I love my trainer, I have ridden with her for 7 years and I have worked for her for 3 years, but for whatever stupid reason in my head I am totally intimidated. I think it is because I have so much respect for her. I was so scared that she wasn't going to like Taters, or realize how much I suck now that I haven't taken lessons with any sort of regularity for 2 years (not that I didn't suck when I was taking lessons regularly). So anyway needless to say Taters and I both sucked, because I was having tons of anxiety about sucking. Riding is all about what is going on up in your head and my head was MESSED UP.

Any who, I don't think she disliked her, but I do think she was thrown off by how bad I was. I didn't even release over some of the crossrails. Like, seriously WTF is wrong with me? Obviously I am not an idiot. Obviously I know what I should be doing. Taters and I are already jumping 6' in the olympics in my dreams, so I can totally envision how jumping her is supposed to work- I just couldn't make the mind-body connection. Needless to say my trainer seemed less than impressed and not at all enthused about how the summer was going to go.

Then, of course, I get on my Tots today and what happens? She is perfect. She was great, she was bending, she was listening, she was my Tots that I love more than anything. Until I noticed my trainer pull up in her golf cart...then I got all nervous again and couldn't even steer and almost rammed into a fence. Yes, that really happened. I seriously don't know what my problem is, but I need to figure it out because it is going to be a long summer of sucky riding if I am going to freak out every time someone watches me. I need to learn how to relax and just RIDE.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Taters' Vacation Home

Ok, Ok, I haven't updated in forever. There are many reasons for this. Mainly because I am a teacher and the end of the school year was CRAZY! Then it was the first week of summer and I was driving up and down the west coast (of NY haha) daily and have been BUSY!!!

Also, I fell off Taters pretty bad at the end of May and could not ride for a little bit, then her LH was swollen again, then school ended....so she hasn't been asked to do very much lately.

Which is all about to change BECAUSEEEEEEE.....

Taters is in her vacation home! Now, most people live in Buffalo and have a vacation home in Chautauqua. Taters and I live in Chautauqua, so we have a vacation home in Buffalo. Specifically, Taters' vacation home is in Orchard Park at Skibbereen Farm.

Now, most of you would say, "Kim, what the hell? Since when does Taters need a vacation home...you have only been riding her a few days a week and you are barely even cantering and jumping. The last thing your horse needs is a vaycay!"

Well most of you, the location is not the only thing that is the opposite of normal.

Taters vacation = BOOT CAMP!!!!!!!!

Skib is my "home farm." Before I moved to Chautauqua I worked and rode there for quite a few years. I am one of those people who has ridden EVERYWHERE and worked almost everywhere. As soon as I came to Skib I knew it was "my barn."

Anyway, here I am my 4th year doing their summer camp program with Taters by my side. This barn has it all: tons of great boarders, a fairly large lesson program, summer camp kids running around and about 35 horses.

Taters year round home consists of a quiet boarder barn of 8 (and 2 miniature donkeys that confuse her).

VERY DIFFERENT! haha. Anyway, Taters has not decided how she feels about this yet. She went from virtually no stimulation and riding by ourselves most of the time to complete overload. She doesn't know what to look at first!

Today was her first full day and she got turned out with Grace and Hailey. She started trotting around with her tail up in the air like I have never seen before! I thought she transformed into an arab! Hailey and Grace were looking at her like she was an idiot and just kept eating. Stoney in the pasture next to her had a different idea though. The two of them must have had racetrack flashbacks because suddenly they were racing each other up and down the fence so they came in.

After about half an hour she went back out again, trotted back and forth a few times, then settled down and ate some grass until the boys started running a few hours later. The bugs are so bad right now, so I can only assume that is why the boys started running.

So then when I finished camp I gave Taters a full tour of the farm. We walked around the indoor (she was just as confused about the ponies as she is about the donkeys...She acts like she has never seen a pony before!), then we walked around the outdoor. The sprinkler was on and she could not have cared less! The good thing about Taters is that when she is surrounded by other horses doing their job, she follows suit and does her job. The downfall is that when other horses find something to spook at, you better believe she is freaking out too.

She stood in the middle of the ring with me for awhile as a few other horses worked around her. She was a bit impatient (she wanted to see more, she is very curious about things), but overall good.  We walked over some colorful poles and hung out by some jump standards for a bit. Assuming that she reacts the same way during her outdoor walk tomorrow I will definitely at the very least w/t her around the ring.

This was long because it was 2 months overdue! I promise there won't be that much time between posts again! (I say that like anyone actually reads this thing! HA!)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Taters jumped a line! Kinda....

Taters is moving up! We jumped a line of crossrails on Tuesday. I forgot to explain to her that jumping a line involves going straight from one fence to the other, so the 3 stride line ended up being 4 most times. Not due to lack of speed, but simply due to being wiggly. Fortunately I spent last summer on a wiggle worm, so I think I have this covered. haha.

Anyway, I made the crossrail pretty big (and by big I mean about a foot haha) and she really was kicking up her hind end. Maybe we need to do jumpers with a careful hind end like that! Of course we have a lot of stuff to figure out before then, but I think I see it in our future.

I even put the flowers under the jumps and she didn't bat an eye. This is an improvement because the first couple of times she jumped flowers in the past she was a little hesitant.

I am so proud of her for being such a good girl! There is a show coming up at the end of June and I think we are going to try to do the trot crossrails class. It is a great show series that opens the crossrails up to green horses as well as the little kids. I kind of feel bad about competing agains them, but at the same time it is open to green horses and lord knows that our trips will probably be scary enough that the little kids do not need to worry about me beating them! haha. Also, I probably will not do the flat class because I would be too afraid of running over and killing young children and ponies during that canter portion of the class.

We also have our fingers crossed for going to a dressage show in Erie in 2 weeks. We would just do intro A. She hasn't proven to me that cantering in front of people is a good idea yet, whether alone or in a group. hahaha. Also it will be her first show experience and I need to see how she is going to react to it.

I can't wait for show season. I really think that she is going to like it. I also really want to get a ribbon, as childish as that sounds. Whether it be blue..or brown. I just don't want 4th because white ribbons suck. haha.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Our biggest supporter is gone...

This is going to be a sad post. So don't read it if you don't like sad posts. I am not a sad post kind of gal, but it must be done. My beautiful grandma passed away today aka Mother's Day. I was fortunate enough to be able to get the day off of work (thank you SO MUCH Tory) and go up to Buffalo to spend the day with my family. At first I thought I was going up to see my grandma for a little while, then spend the rest of the day painting one of the rooms in my parents house (she was going to come and live with them, so my mom wanted fresh paint). Then I got the phone call in the morning saying that I had to come up NOW. Needless to say my hour drive took about 40 minutes. Fortunately I was able to sit in bed with her for most of the day with my family and I got to have some alone time with her. I think she could hear me talking to her, at least I hope she could, cause I said a lot! 

Anyway, I need to dedicate a post to her because she has always been my biggest horsey-supporter. This woman loved animals almost as much as she loved her family (then again, to her animals were family). I definitely got my love of animals from her. The look she got in her eyes whenever she was around any of our animals was of such pure love and joy. It is the look that describes the way that I feel inside when I look at them. 

It was my grandma's idea for me to start riding. She was the one that told my parents to send me to horseback riding camp (the one that I made them promise I could quit if I didn't like it-see my first post). She watched my shows, from the time that Doobie bucked in a w/t/c class (she never wanted me to ride him again! haha) or when Stretch and I decided to do an extended canter in the w/t/c division and Susie had to scream for everyone to stop.

She and my grandpa helped me buy Ally. She loved to come out and watch me ride her and she really loved to groom her. I think that she was happiest when Pete and I won Champion of our division at the Erie County Fair back in 2006. Right up until the end she loved telling everyone about how she came to watch me win champion of the show and how I was always the best one out there. When I was at her apartment today I noticed that she still had a picture of us going over a jump in that show on her refrigerator. 

I am so thankful that she was able to meet Taters. Over the past few months since I moved down to Chautauqua I have taken tons of pictures and videos, then brought my computer up to Buffalo so that she could see them. She LOVED looking at Taters pictures and videos, and was so happy that I had a horse of my own again.

It is hard to believe that it was only a month ago that my mom packed her up into the car and made the drive out to meet her. She stayed in her wheelchair, and by golly Taters walked right up to that chair and let my grandma pet her for a long time. She fed her treats and Taters just stood there perfectly. It is so true that animals just know when they meet someone if they are good or bad. My grandma loved that day. I think I can honestly say that it was the best day that I have ever had with her, and it was the happiest that I had seen her in a very long time.

Just last weekend she was up and over at my parent's house for the Derby. She chose her horse and she and I watched videos of Taters while she told Laura about my riding and how proud she is of me and my horses. She really always has been (and always will be) my biggest fan.

Then today, after she passed, my mom told me that all week my grandma had been talking about how she wanted to make sure that I got a specific ring that belonged to her. Of course it was under one condition. She told my mother very specifically that if it ever comes down to me keeping that ring because it belonged to her, and selling it to get money to have my own horse farm, I better sell it. She has always said that she wants to do anything she can to have all my horse dreams come true.

I love you grandma, and I know you will always be cheering Taters and I on from heaven.

Helen Mae Ahrens
April 8, 1932-May 13, 2012


Saturday, May 12, 2012


Well it's true. The little bitch has proud flesh. Now, before you get all crazy like thinking I hate my horse, I am obviously referring to the cut as a little bitch, not my beautiful mare :)

So anyway, I spend DAYS going to the barn once in the am and once in the pm, checking her wound, w/t lunging to keep it from getting swollen, blah blah blah. I knew I had a scab forming...but I just didn't trust it, so I called my vet. She came out, peeled it off, and ta-da!!!!!! Mutha fudgin' proud flesh. Not a lot, but all I could think of was the last time I dealt with it and I wanted to kill myself.

Oh well, back to hosing, cleaning, and now wonder dusting twice a day. MY HORSE WILL NOT HAVE UGLY MAL-ADJUSTED FLESH! She is too pretty and perfect  to have a pink cauliflower sticking out of her leg.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Baby, it's HOT outside...and my horse is quiet :)

So, here we are. May 3rd. My dear red head continues to have a stocked up hind leg with a cut that refuses to heal. The vet is coming out on Wednesday, but told me to just start lunging and riding w/t because she is sound. So, here I am, continuing my lovely schedule of going to the barn before work and lunging for 10-20 minutes, then going back to the barn after work to ride.

I am not going to lie, cantering isn't my favorite thing to do on my horse. She hasn't been using her muscles properly in the past, and she still doesn't totally get it when it comes to cantering..Is it wrong that I am kinda happy and feel like I have been let off the hook for awhile? Anyway, we are doing a lot of side rein w/t and w/t in my german martingale to keep building the right muscles so that maybe cantering will be easier by the time this sucky cut heals and I am allowed to do more.

Anyway, here she is, in all her glory. She loves to roll in mud...with her fly mask on :)


Only in WNY do you need your heavy blanket, light t/o and flysheet/mask on the same rack and the same time.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


O.K. So wrote a very nice update...and it's not here! Then I wrote and update to the update and that's not here either! I haven't been a blog slacker, I swear.

Last Monday after work I went to the barn to a horrible sight- a swollen, hot left hind fetlock. My BO and BM both thought it was a scrape, and I thought so too until I cleaned it off...then much to my horror it was actually a deep flap of skin, almost like a puncture wound.

Needless to say this past week has been all about getting up extra early, spending 1/2 hour+ at the barn before work, then at least an hour after work..cleaning, hosing, hand walking twice a day for the first two days since she couldn't go out. Such a pain in the ass...but she is the top priority and she is special enough that she deserves top notch care!

Hopefully she will be ok for the next 24 hours because I have to work up in Orchard Park and won't be able to go out. She is on SMZs and I wrapped it up real good. Unlike most wounds I really cannot air it out yet because when I did the flap came up, and my main focus is to keep the flap down so that it can connect back together.

She also got kicked twice in the pasture. We just recently put the two groups together and now all the mares are in heat. Since Taters is the socially inept one, she tends to be the one who gets in the way of other horses hooves.  She is such a smart horse in so many ways...she better catch on to this fast because I can't deal with a summer full of injuries!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The grass is not always greener on the other side.

The big pasture is ready! But the real question is...is Taters ready?

Taters is turned out with two geldings: a 2 year old TB and a 25 year old QH (who is her mini-me). Everyday they glance over at the luscious green grass in the top pasture. One would think it would be every horses dream to run free and eat the succulent, glorious grass.

Not Taters (but really, did anyone think she would make something easy?)

For the three days that they have been up there (the groups rotate so they are up for 2 hours to get used to the grass) all she is doing is pacing. Pacing back and forth. Not eating. Not drinking. Not beating up on other horses. Just making a dirt path along the fence line from walking back and forth. Not comfortable being that far away from the barn when there are other horses closer (even though she is with her boys).

SO, it is true. She is a worry wart. She comes from a long line of worriers though. I, for example, am a huge worrier. I alway assume the worst, it is just in my nature. My grandmother, yup, a worrier too. I'll never forget when  I heard about how when my dad was born she gave away their bird. Why, you ask? Because she was afraid it was going to let itself out of its cage, fly over to my dad, poop on his hand, and then he was going to eat it. Yes, I am being serious. I laughed, but as we were laughing I was thinking about how I would probably do the same thing (I do need to point out that the only time I would choose a human baby over an animal would be in the case of birds or fish, because I just don't like them very much). I am sure the worrying goes back further than that, but I don't have the time or energy to go back and look for it. I am too busy worrying about other things.

So obviously, It only makes sense that my forever horse would be a worrier.

Anyway, today they joined the pony herds together into one big, happy family. So now Taters, Dan (2 yr old), Tori (25 year old) and two more mares Penny (8 yr old Standardbred/Perch cross) and Seneca (5 yr old QH) are all together. They had a lovely time. Taters still was not 100% care free, but it was much better. Tori decided that Taters is his (I think he is a little old for her, and she doesn't need a Sugar Daddy unless he wants to start paying for shit) so he spent the whole day creating a barrier around her that no one could cross. I personally love this idea because 1) Taters is very independent and doesn't necessarily want anyone close to her anyway and 2) Taters needs a bubble around her in order to avoid injury.

After her t/o we did a little bit of jumping. I set up three trot poles to a crossrail then two strides to an elevated pole. She did great and I really do see good things for her in the future...assuming that we can canter properly at some point.

OH and then I gave her a bath. She likes baths, but hates the washstall. Everytime I have taken her in there in the past she has broken her halter (it is a breakaway). So I decided she needed to go in there with a non break away halter to learn that she cant just snap her halter and be free (it literally was just a step back and pull head non-chalant break, not a freaked break).

Anyway, three rears and pulls later she realized that she could not break her halter and then stood still

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Le Spa de Tater Tot

Nothing makes me feel better than when people tell me that my horse looks great. I love every moment that I spend grooming every single hair so that it looks perfect and shiny, massaging and stretching her muscles, feeding her treats along the way. Linamenting if we do "hard work" (aka tight circles in my opinon-got to keep those legs comfortable!), keeping her mane short and her tail long and tangle free are all in a days work for me.

Our resident cowboy calls me a softie and that the barn turns into a horse spa when I'm around. People comment on how shiny my horse is and how long I spend grooming her. I love that. Grooming/pampering is my favorite activity involving Taters (and that is not just due to her intermittent ridiculousness).

I wish it was her favorite activity. Her favorite activity is rolling, then sleeping out in the sunshine with her friends. I am attempting to convince her that grooming is just as good, but she doesn't buy it. I try to tell her she would like currying more if she stopped rolling and getting dirt as deep in her hair as possible. I mean, obviously that is the reason why I have to scrub harder on some days. If she would just realize that she could have a nice gentle curry everyday. "BUT MOM," she would say, "rolling is my FIRST favorite activity." Oh the life of a thin-skinned TB mare. It is so hard.

Fortunately she puts up with me. That's what I love the most about her. She deals with my long groomings, and my never ending hugs and kisses. Somedays she eats them up, somedays she gives "the look" and I know she needs some more personal space. It's good that she does, cause God knows I put up with a lot of crap from her! :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Angelic Tots

Well, it was as if the Gods opened up the clouds an sent me an angel today. She was in a fabulous mood. I think it was the sun and the 60 degree weather. I set up 4 poles in a 20m circle in the middle of the ring. She was so good and it helped keep her from dropping her shoulder to the left like she loves to do. We also worked on some shoulder in because she LOVES to trot around with her head to the outside. We walked it first and she picked it up the second time around. We tried trotting down the long side and she was pretty good. Definitely the best that she ever has been. I was super proud of her.

We also worked on some canter transitions. I started to the right because that is the direction that she is better going in. Her transitions are horrible, which is completely understandable since we have only cantered under saddle a few times since she came off the track. I tried squeezing harder and making a more definite "ask" but that resulted in a more definite crazy trot to canter GO. I think I am going to try a halt, back up, canter approach like Melanie Smith Taylor suggested in an article that I can no longer find but for some reason remember.

Cantering right was going great until my saddle sore randomly appeared. It was my own fault, I was wearing my wool lined boots (yes in April, I am obsessed with them and would wear them in July if I wouldn't die) and I was stupidly not wearing knee socks. So we did about 4-5 canter transitions to the right, then I turn around, and as soon as she departs into the canter to the left my skin literally rips open. I held on for one circle, then one full lap around the ring and I had to pull up because the pain was HORRIBLE. I screamed out "G.D. Mr.Fr" (you understand the profanity). My friend that I was riding with laughed, but I could not. I undid my boot and my sore was so bad that it was actually bleeding. I decided I had to suck it up. I did 4-5 transitions to the right, I needed to do at least 3 to the right. So I did. and it hurt. a lot. When I stopped her the last time I could not even keep my leg on her side and it bumped her a few times..she didn't love it, but she stayed calm...probably because she could hear me screaming profanities on her back.

Then, since  I love to torture myself, I had her trot for a few more minutes in each direction. My goal is to let her know that just because we were cantering, it doesn't mean canter every time I put my leg on her post-cantering. She needs to learn the different leg cues to go along with her verbal cues (which might I add she picked up very quickly and is now fluent in horse english: trot!, caaant-ER, Ouuuuuut, aaaand walk, and of course whoa).

After we finished a perfect ride (minus my bleeding leg) we walked around in front of the barn a bit before I got off. Larry (our resident cowboy who I refer to as the BM in the thread) looked at my western saddle for me and then Jennifer decided to take Penny on a trail ride. It was their first trail ride together, so Larry was going to go along on foot to make sure nothing went wrong. I decided to go along on foot as well with Taters (my leg was screaming at me to not get back on again).

So anyway, we took the back way around the trails and the hill was freaking HUGE!!!!!! I thought I was going to die, I don't know how those horses do it! I am going to be so flipping sore tomorrow. On the plus side Taters was SO HAPPY walking through the trails in the sun. I really do think that even though she is spooky sometimes, that I have found myself a girl who loves the outdoors and loves to experience nature on the trails (Taters and I are very similar in that weather severely affects our mood for the day).

Taters on her trail walk

After we got back I took my time grooming her and just had a great time spending time ON THE CROSSTIES with my QUIET mare. ha. People always comment on how shiny she is and how good she looks. Her perfect weight is due to my BO being AMAZING and providing high quality hay and grain. As far as her perfectly clean coat? I always respond with, "She better be, I groom her for almost an hour 6 days a week!"

I know it sounds silly, but I take a lot of pride in her appearance. I like her to look perfect before I ride, and I like her to look perfect before I put her away. That means a lot of grooming. Hopefully she does not get a princess complex.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Oh Taters....

 I have a feeling most of my posts will have this title. The first thing that everyone who reads this blog needs to understand is that my mare is special. Very special. and by special I mean quirky. She is the love of my life, but she is also my pain in my ass.

Tater's positives include (always start with the positive):

*very loving/friendly
*gets along well with other horses
*beautiful (I know, I know, but it IS a positive)

Taters quirks:

*She can't handle being somewhere when she cannot see another horse.  She becomes very nervous and at which time she promptly puts her mouth as close to my ear as possible and starts whinnying very loudly.  (she needs to make sure I am aware of her distaste for being alone). I think this is in part due to the fact that during her racing career she spent an entire summer on the farm by herself. He trainer mentioned that all she did was run the fence and whinny all day long begging for someone to answer her. I wish I could just tell her that she will never, ever be alone on a farm ever again so she doesn't need to worry, but I think that when everyone is gone she gets flashbacks and thinks everyone is seriously gone and not coming back.

*She spooks a lot. These spooks are very specific though. She spooks at things that she can hear but cannot see. Snow sliding off the roof for example results in a complete and utter meltdown. She remains on edge when she has ear plugs in which I think is because she gets nervous that she cannot hear as well (she enjoys being "in the know" even though it scares the bejezus out of her.

attached to those are:

*She will remain calm as long as there is another horse around who is also remaining calm. If she is alone, there is no remaining calm. If there is another horse around that is not calm, she will not be calm, even if it is something that she is generally not afraid of.

*When she becomes nervous there is no consoling her. Her mind is gone for at least 10 minutes regardless of petting/sweet talking/etc. She will eventually come back though (another positive!)

See! The positives list is longer :) Also, I am not put off by her quirks at all. Fortunately she was able to find one of the most patient women in existence who will love her regardless, yet also insist that we make things better. I am convinced that what needs to happen is that she needs to learn to trust me and I need to be "good enough" to count as another horse. Obviously I will never replace another of her own species, but I am working very hard through ground work and piling on the love to earn her trust and therefore (hopefully) keep her calmer.

Anyway, usually my days at the barn are a roller coaster. Today, of course, was one of them. I started out by arriving at the barn to find out that the workers had decided to come in and fix the drainage ditch. That means, trucks, a bulldozer and unknown people walking around and causing a ruckus coming in and out of both the indoor and outdoor rings.

My friend had some out to ride her horse, and I know that in general Taters stays chill when she and Seneca are in the ring together, so I decided I would lunge her outside first (they were working at one end of the outdoor, but bring the trucks through the indoor. She was perfect. W/T/C both ways, peppy, but not too fast, not nervous, just lovely. 

So then I get on. Again, she was lovely. There were puddles, which she is not a fan of, so I trotted a little bit, then walked her through the puddles. 

After we made it through most of them and she was not caring about the big machine (which, due to her inquisitive nature and ability to see the sound she decided she wanted to follow around and stiff for a bit) I trotted a little bit more, working on bending on circles (at the non-machine end) while my friend did some crossrails that we had set up. 

After my friend was done jumping I decided that Taters was quiet enough to try a few. We trotted around to the first one and the bulldozer jumped out and tried to eat us when we went passed the door (well, thats what Taters thought) and she was not even looking at the jump when I got to it. refusal I took her back to it again and she refused again (first time for this!) so I swung her around and took her over the other crossrail (she walked, sniffed, jumped, then I stayed at the trot and came back around to the one that she refused and that time she went over it.

Now. One thing that needs to be made clear is that though I have been jumping for almost 20 years, TEACHING people how to jump for 10 years, and have shown at heights much higher than crossrails that are MAYBE 9-12" high in the middle, it does not change the fact that my horse, as wonderful as she is, tends to be unpredictable which has caused me some unneeded anxious feelings.

So, what then is my response to this wishy washy pony behavior? Why my abs into a ball and stare at the jump of course! I get so pissed at myself because I know what I am supposed to do, but my mind and body will not allow me to do it 75% of the time.

anyway, I did the jump a few times...knowing full well that if I had been on the ground teaching and watching my student do what I had done I would have been like "wtf are you DOING?!"

Oh well, there is another Taters positive- She didn't ask me wtf I was doing (most likely because she didn't know wtf she was doing), she just went with it and didn't get mad at me.

So see how WONDERFUL that was? I am totally climbin high! Then my friend asked if I wanted to go for a little trail ride. Now, I am using the term "trail ride" very loosely here. In this case trail ride is defined as walking the path behind the paddocks, past the pond, up to visit the boys in the far pasture, then back down to the barn again.

She was PERFECT, AMAZING and acted like a pro. Maybe that machine trying to eat her scared the rest of the spook out of her (among other things) because she was enthusiastic with out trying to be in control, perfectly happy with having Seneca lead and kept a pleasant demeanor the whole time. I think she may have even loved it. So now we are on the top of the roller coaster hill! Unfortunately what comes up must come...down :(

I put her on the crossties to groom her and my friend had her horse in her stall next to her. Now, like I said, as long as there is a horse around who is calm, Taters could not care less about anything. She was being a little perfect princess, until the two horses that were in went back outside.

It took her about....30 seconds to realize that she was now alone in an empty barn. Now, was she actually alone? NO I WAS RIGHT THERE! Hopefully we will eventually get to the point where that is enough. Now is not that time.

Within 45 seconds she was flipping out whinnying, then pulled back as hard as she could on the crossties, broke her halter and proceeded to give herself a tour of the farm. Now, keeping in mind that there was a huge bulldozer and a truck in the indoor, both of which making tons of noise in the barn made my "loose horse!!!!!!!!" screams completely drowned out. Which meant no immediate help. Now in hindsight I probably should have grabbed a leadline (since the halter was broken) but all the doors to the outside opened wide so that the trucks could keep coming in and out and I was more worried about making sure that she stayed in the indoor/outdoor/paddocks (which are all attached and were all open) rather than the big garage door which led to the street, which was also open and where she was initially headed.

So, not thinking (because I haven't been forced to think for almost 2 weeks with being on spring break and all) I just ran and blocked the door to the outside, then fortunately she ran into the bulldozer paddock (which apparently is no longer wanting to eat her because she ran right to it. I asked the guy to stop infront of the one opening, and I had already closed the other opening. I was also an idiot without a halter walking after my horse like I was going to mount up and ride her back to the barn bareback and bridleless. 

Anyway, my friend and the BM had their horses on the other side of the fence and my friend threw me her belt to wrap around Taters head (now I totally feel like an ass) and I led her back to the barn, embarrassed, but not yet defeated.

She was not done getting groomed and she was not going to win (did I fail to mention that along with my patience comes quite a bit of stubbornness?) I threw her in a stall in the still empty barn and went to get my rope halter. She was crazy at first (obviously, we both just had a very stressful 5 minutes) but I did some pressure point exercises and she calmed down after about 5 minutes. I then proceeded to do my grooming, the way I wanted to do it while she stood still in her rope halter. Every step she took, pressure. Not mean pressure, though there were a few times she tried to say she was going where she wanted and she needed me to be more firm. 

I kept her in the barn until I  was done with what I wanted to do because believe it or not Taters, it is not all about you and what you want to do. It's all about your wonderful mother who loves you more than life itself. hahahaha just kidding.

Anyway, as I was leaving the barn the BM asked me if I had anything exciting planned for the day I said, "My life is pretty boring when I leave the barn, but who needs extra excitement when you have a horse like Taters?" 

But mom, I just wanted to be out with my friends....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I finally get to see my horse tonight :)

Ok, so I have been up in Buffalo visiting my family for Easter. I have not seen my beautiful horse in 6 days!!!!!!! So ridiculous. I am not even busy either. I am just sitting in my parents house all alone waiting for them to come home at night. I have to wait around because I made some appointments since I am never up here. I did get to meet my friend's FLF last night though and it was fun! Very cute mare.

Anywho, I will be back home tonight and back out at the barn. I will be able to do more updates when I finally get to see her :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Meeting My Tots

Ok, time for post #2 aka the story of me and my Tots!

As soon as I sold Pete I told myself that I was not going to buy another horse until it was EXACTLY what I wanted. I liked all my other horses, but I always got them because someone else chose them for me. My next horse was going to be MY choice, no one else. I have always owned thoroughbreds and felt that they are the most beautiful breed. I love how delicate, yet powerful and regal they are. I love that they are quick, smart, brave and put their hearts into everything they do. I would take a thoroughbred over an imported warmblood any day of the week!

I also studied conformation extensively over the years that I was horseless. I knew that I wanted a horse right off the track, so conformational ability was going to have to play a large part in my decision. There would be no show record that would prove that horse would excel in the hunter world.

The most important thing that I was looking for other than an overall athletic appearance was a nice, big, strong set of hindquarters. I have always loved horses with big, powerful butts haha. I also wanted a horse that was even with a strong back and an uphill build, decent shoulder/pastern slope, clean legs and of course a pretty head and neck.

Also due to my build (5'7" and all torso) I knew I wanted something in the 16hh range to off-set my torso, and a narrow body to off-set my stub legs.

If that isn't enough (I told you I was going to be picky!) I was determined to find a horse with an in your pocket, loving personality that wanted to form a bond with his/her human. I love some sass in a horse, an inquisitive nature and wears their personality all over their face. After all, a lazy horse with no personality is no fun! (though amazing for a lesson program). So anyway...in your pocket, loving, bond forming, sass, loads of personality...I obviously needed a mare!

In addition, for whatever reason I had it in my head that I wanted a flashy chestnut (refer to first show horse, and last love of my life horse). I know, I know, I played with fire before when I decided that I "needed" a flea bitten grey. I told myself that I did not need a chestnut mare, and that conformation and personality were 100% more important, but we all know that when I searched the ads, I always opened up the chestnut mares first!

The horse that fulfills my list- aka Taters <3

I spent 3 years half-heartedly searching the internet after I sold Pete. It was one of those things where I wanted a horse of my own, but unless it was perfect I wasn't going to spend the money. Plus, I was still in school and teaching preschool, and then AIS,  so it would have been a stretch. I went to look at a few (no, not all chestnut mares...they were all mares though) and I even PPE'd two ($$$$$$!!!!!!) but in my heart I knew that they were not my horses so I didn't take the plunge. Then when I was leasing Scarlett I had gone from half-heartedly searching to quarter-heartedly searching because I loved her and was happy with my situation (and not having to pay for vet bills!)

Well, the fall of 2010 came and there was a post on my facebook wall of a link to the FLF proboards (who did it?! It was either Joanne, Sarah or Alyssa, that I know for certain!) Anyway, it was a link for a trainer listing for a GORGEOUS chestnut mare, Small Potatoes. I loved her instantly, but there were a lot of horses I loved instantly upon looking at their pictures, so I needed to know more. I called Jackie (her owner) and we ended up talking on the phone for a long time! She sent me a link to her video, and I was totally smitten. She told me that while she was the owner, she did not live in NY and her boyfriend was actually Small Potatoes trainer and the one who would show her to me. She gave me his phone number.

Meanwhile there was a FLF thread on the COTH forum with a girl who was talking about how she liked Small Potatoes and was going to go out to see her. I was very upset and nervous...I knew I wanted to go and look at the horse, but I am not the type to fight with someone or get into a bidding war. She had mentioned she was going out to see her that week, so I waited on calling her trainer. It is true, I tempted fate.

Then, it happened. My Scarlett was ripped away from me! Ok, that sounds a bit dramatic, but it WAS a dramatic time! I had recently broken up with my alcoholic stupid boyfriend, now my horse was gone. I felt like I had nothing...well nothing except that girl talking about how much she wanted MY horse all over the COTH forum. haha. A few days after she was gone I got a message on facebook- That girl isn't taking Small Potatoes, you should call! (thanks Joanne). I was super excited and called her trainer. He told me that he not only had Small Potatoes, but he also had a rather large bay mare named Secret Moment for sale. I knew I wanted the chestnut, but I figured, why not go out and see both? What if the chestnut wasn't all I made her out to be in my head? He told me that the bay mare was lame, but should be back in action in a few weeks. I told him to call me when they were both sound and I would come out to see them both. HE NEVER CALLED! (tisk, tisk Bill! haha)

As I mentioned before, I am not the assertive type. He didn't call. I was sad, but I wasn't going to stalk him and beg to come out and see his horses (especially in December!) I just kind of figured that it was God's way of saying that she wasn't my horse, it wasn't the right time, and I needed to forget about her...but I just couldn't do it (and neither could my friends...I think they knew she was perfect for me before I even knew...)

Well, almost a year goes by. I spent my summer riding Arthur (who I LOVE) and teaching summer camp. I am not going to say I was constantly thinking of that chestnut mare, but I would be lying if I said that I didn't wonder what happened to her every once in awhile.

What she was doing while I was teaching...

Then it happened. In July I got a message on COTH from Jackie. She told me that they had decided to keep Small Potatoes and race her for another year, but now they were seriously ready to sell her and was I interested. WAS I INTERESTED?! I almost peed myself when I read the message, but I had to remain calm and be a mature adult. There was no way that I could get a horse in July. I was way to busy with summer camp, and I had free access to an amazing horse everyday. I also barely had any income. I was working as a teacher assistant so that meant no summer teacher pay. I was living off of summer camp money!

 I emailed her back that I would get back to her at the end of the summer and if Small Potatoes was still available I would come out and look at her. That email seriously made my heart pound. When I hit send I was kicking myself, but I knew that it was the right thing to do. I spent the next month watching the youtube video of her over and over and spent a lot of time praying about it.

By the beginning of August I had a real-live teaching job interview! I kept in the back of my mind that getting a real teaching job would be my way of owning a horse again. I had a good feeling about it, so I emailed Jackie and said that I was ready to come out and look at the mare. My friend Lisa and I headed out to Bill's farm after I got called for my superintendents interview. Taters was beautiful....and full of burdocks...but how could you not LOVE this face?

She was quite feisty (which I personally enjoy- see horse requirements list). She was pretty distracted, but still very friendly. Now what I am about to say is very cheesy and lame. But it has to be said. When this horse cantered by me the sound of her hoofbeats made my heart leap for joy and I KNEW she was mine. Three days later I got the call that I had gotten the teaching job! It was fate! The stars aligned! The timing was right! My horse was finally mine!

My next blog will be about our progress so far!

Picking her up from the home farm! SHE'S MINE!

The first post!

After flooding my facebook page with many horse updates, I realized that not all of my friends are interested in seeing horsey updates. In fact, most of them are probably as annoyed with my horsey updates as I am with seeing their baby bump grow everyday. So, I decided to do the decent thing and move my horse updates to a blog.

Since this is my first post, and I am not starting from day 1 of my Taters ownership, I have a lot to talk about! I think that my first post is going to be about me...so that I can give everyone a little glimpse into who I am and what made me think that getting a thoroughbred right off the track would be a good idea. Then, my next post can be about how I came to meet my Tots, THEN I can start talking about our progress! Thank GOD I am on spring break and have plenty of time to sit at my computer!

Alright.... It's all about ME damnit (well, for the rest of the post at least...)

Well, as you can see on the sidebar my name is Kim and I am 29 years old. It is actually quite funny how I got into horseback riding. It was my grandmother's idea, not mine. I have always been an animal lover since the day I was born. I was always that kid begging my parents for every animal I saw, but my parents  were not the type to let me have all of them. I did not have that childhood desire to sit on a horse, but they were animals, so therefore I loved them. Anywho, when my grandmother suggested that I go to horseback riding summer camp when I was 10, I liked the idea because of the animal aspect, but I was also nervous so I agreed to go...under the condition that I could stop at anytime if I didn't like it. HA!!!!!

Obviously, my parents and grandparents had no idea what they were getting themselves into. The summer camp was a three week long day camp, which ended with a horse show on the final day. The horse that I rode not only most of those three weeks, but also spent the next four years riding and showing was a very cute chestnut thoroughbred mare named Vikki (Against All Odds).

Obviously this horse looks nothing like Taters (ha!) I have to find some more pictures of her and put them side to side. Over the years I also had a few other loves that need to be mentioned, and have their pictures posted, just for old times sake:

This is Bullet and I (note that I am rocking a Forrestel Farm Camp shirt)

Of course no horse blog about my past could be complete without this lovely fellow!
Doobie aka Fat Man

Last but not least, the most flatulent of the bunch, Betsey 
(yes I stole this pic from a fb friend)

I spend every free moment at the barn...cleaning, helping younger students, cleaning, feeding...cleaning oh! and scrubbing buckets. ha. After an unfortunate turn of events, I moved on and ended up spending the next few years before college floating around barns, not really finding my place. One thing I did know is that all I wanted was to be around horses ALL THE TIME. So I made the financially irresponsible decision to take out a ton of student loans...and go to horse school! (DUMB but an amazing 2 years!) That is where I met a cute little arab/qh cross who was to be my project horse. He was an ex-reiner, crotchity and old as dirt, and the closest I had ever been to having my own horse. Anyone from college could tell you- I LOVED LADDIE! How could you not?


When I was finishing up school my parents realized that horses were here to stay. I had discovered in my Theories of Instruction classes that I loved teaching. I also took every therapeutic riding class possible, as well as completed a therapeutic riding internship. My professor told me that I am meant to teach children, and I agreed. I decided to go to school for Special Education. When I graduated from Caz, my grandparents and parents got together and helped me purchase my first horse...a cheap, moody, 15 year old thoroughbred mare! My vet (who I trust 100%) told me not to buy her...but I did!
Meet Ally:

Ally and I got along, and I loved her to death, but she had some mental and physical issues that she could not get passed (which is why she was so cheap!). I did enjoy meeting children who had ridden her prior to my ownership and hearing the stories of how she broke their bones. She became a pasture pet after back problems (hers, not mine) kept me from riding her with any regularity. When I realized that Ally and I were not going to make it to the Olympics (darn!) , I started looking for a second horse. I decided that I needed a flea bitten grey gelding. Yes, it's true. I wanted a horse based on color (never a good idea). I was sitting around with my BO at the time and said how I had always wanted a flea bitten grey gelding...and who would have known! She knew of one...a 12 yr old recently gelded (aka 3 months before) OTTB who was just getting restarted after a life of racing and breeding. WHAT A GOOD IDEA! hahahaha...anyway, I bought Pepper...

Pepper didn't last too long. He was fine, I could w/t/c without getting run away with most of the time, and I even started him jumping. My barn only had PVC jumps, so as soon as I tried to jump verticles he would bust through them. Long story short- I took him to a trainer with real jumps. She didn't like him and I was indifferent. She talked me into selling him and buying...

Pete aka Petey-poo aka Crazy-Eyed Pete!

Pete and I lasted for a few years. He was a good boy. I moved him to an amazing barn with an amazing trainer. Things could have been great if I wasn't in school full time and working full time to afford my very expensive board and my very expensive amazing barn. We did get some stuff accomplished, but when I wanted to start showing 3', he couldn't. Fortunately my trainer found him an AMAZING home with the Nazereth College IHSA team, where he is still happy today :)

After I donated Pete to the college I took some time off from horses. I was doing my Masters degree and working 60 hours a week at a hotel. After about a year I started cleaning stalls for a friend in exchange for riding her horses. It was there that I met a new friend who had a connection to one of the summer camps that I had attended as a child (note the t-shirt I mentioned above!) I decided to lease a horse for the winter. He was a cute boy, I have no complaints, but it was the wrong time for me personally so I had to send him back early. I did however, start teaching lessons at the barn where I had kept Pete and was able to start taking lessons again!

Lopez - he looks super nice here!

Lesson on Happy! Hilarious!

After I was taking lessons regularly and had my life together, I decided it was time to lease a horse again. The day that I went and asked my trainer about leasing a horse, was the same day that Sandy called and asked Chrissie if she wanted to lease Scarlett. She did, and I did and I fell in love...with a chestnut mare (see the pattern yet)? 

As much as I loved this mare, I knew she was never going to be mine. She was 16 and had hock problems. Whenever we tried to jump anything over 2'9" she could make it over 2 or 3, then she would start knocking them down. She just couldn't do it anymore. She was for sale, and I was thinking about it, but her owner wanted way too much money and the cost of keeping her comfortable with injections was out of my price range. It was during my time that I was leasing Scarlett that I found my Tater Tots (but that is a story for my next blog...)

So the day before my 28th birthday (which happens to be the 1st of the month) I got a phone call from my boss. Scarlett's owner had decided she was taking her back. The next day. To say that I was devastated is an understatement. I decided I would never lease a horse again because I never wanted anyone to be able to pull a horse out from under me with no warning ever again. I started thinking about Small Potatoes and how bad I wanted her....but her owner had never gotten back to me.

I kept going to work (obviously) but I didn't ride for the rest of the winter. I just couldn't. The only time I sat on a horse was when one of the lesson horses was being sassy and I needed to school them a little for my students. When the sassy lesson pony Molly came back from a few months off I rode her a little, then I was lucky enough to spend my summer riding my trainers horse, Arthur. After my summer with Artie I was longing for my own horse again!

Sassy Molly Pony!

And that brings us to my Tater Tots! And her story is where I will pic up with my next post! Wow that was long..but I am pushing 30 after all...so there is a lot to cover!