Monday, August 27, 2012

Wildlife Continued

The deer population in Connecticut is alive and thriving; especially those deer that live near farms. The heat and horse flies have finally backed off enough that I’ve started riding around the farm again. When they planted the corn in the spring, they left small access strips along the edges of a couple of fields so that my cousin and I could ride our horses. Riding my taller horse, the corn still towers over me. On the other side, are the woods. In some places, grass has grown in the access strips and it is up to my knees when I am on my horse – so about five feet tall maybe.

Our access area to the farm roads

All of this combined, except for me and my horse, makes a wildlife paradise. On a ride a few weeks back, Secret and I were coming back to the barn, and came to the access area above. As we were headed into the strip between the corn and woods, we startled a deer who was snacking on the corn and he bolted into the woods. He in turn startled us. Luckily Secret took a few quick steps and then stopped.

On a ride a few days later we scared this same deer; or one of his friends again. We were a bit more prepared this time, and it also happened as we were leaving for a ride - headed up the hill on the access strip – so Secret could see everything that was going on.

This is the spot where the deer spooked the horses so many times. You can see how trampled down they have the grass

I took John out a couple of weeks ago. We got out for our ride fine, and I figured the deer must have heard us coming this time. On the way back though, there was that deer again. John doesn’t mind exerting extra energy as much as Secret does and took off at a gallop for home. About 100 feet later I stopped him, walked him back up the hill and made him do it correctly.

Friday I went out for a ride and talked the whole way up the hill, so the deer would be sure to hear us coming. We got up the hill fine, around the bend on the next access strip and made it to a hayfield. This field adjoins a cornfield, and I walk my horses on the edge between them so I don’t damage either crop. As we stepped off the access strip and onto the edge of the hayfield, a deer darted out of the corn and across the hayfield. I think it may have scared me more than it did Secret. On the way back, I talked and the entire time.

The new favorite spot of the deer, I really wasn't expecting them!

Despite the distractions from the wildlife, I keep heading out on rides around the farm. I love the peaceful moments of the ride. I love the soothing sound of the wind rustling through the corn. Mostly, I love to ride.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fall is coming...

I was out for a ride on Secret today, and noticed some of the leaves on the trees are starting to change. As much as I love summer and all of the green everywhere, I am not terribly disappointed to see this summer going. The heat and bugs were awful, I hardly rode at all. Everyone I have talked to said the same thing, so it made me feel a little better. Plus, I have Peru to look forward to this fall, so maybe the leaves changing isn't the worst thing!

You can just see the littlest hint of color in this tree.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Horse People Are Good People

Reading or watching the news can be a very depressing thing. There is so much bad news in the world, sometimes it makes me want to just hide somewhere. I'm sure everyone knows that feeling, things like the shooting in Colorado or at the Empire State Building yesterday are so senseless. I know I am more aware of my surroundings in the last few years than I ever have been before.

That being said, there are still things that restore my faith in humankind. One of my favorite things about writing articles for Massachusetts Horse magazine are all of the wonderful people I interview for the articles. I've talked to everyone from 4-H members who are showing their Miniature horses, to professional horse trainers. Horse people really are good people and the conversations I've had while interviewing people for magazine articles always make me smile.

Today, I judged the Donkey and Mule show at Brooklyn Fair. This is another great group of people who are out there having a good time with their animals and helping each other. Their goodwill and camaraderie are apparent and rub off on everyone around them, even the spectators.

I think its important not to bury your head in the sand and to read the news reports. We need to honor the victims and educate everyone to make the world a safer place. But its equally important to turn off the news, go find a good group of people and let your spirit in humanity be restored.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Berkshire Pictures - Part Three

It was a bit foggy in the morning. When we were at the gazebo, we should have been able to see to the Catskill Mountain in New York, but as you saw, we just saw fog.

Despite some fog, we still witnessed some spectacular views! I bet you can imagine what fall foliage season is like here. The patio/picnic table area is the site of a hotel that burned down in 1931.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Berkshire Horseback Adventures

I'm working on an article about fall foliage trail rides for Massachusetts Horse magazine. One of the best fall foliage places in Massachusetts is the Berkshires. So I drove up to Berkshire Horseback Adventures on Saturday, August 11th to check out their horses and trails.

I talked with Dave Roche, the owner, for a bit and asked some questions for the article, and then went out on a previously scheduled one hour trail ride. Our trail guide was Dan Benton, who has worked there for quite some time. I was riding a really sweet Quarter Horse named JW. He isn't in their regular trail ride string yet - not being ready for complete novices, but an awesome horse (and didn't mind me taking pictures at all).

The horses all had spring in their step and were eager to do their jobs, but also understood that they had to take care of their riders. One girl, perhaps riding for the first time, dropped her reins twice. When she did this, her horse started grazing. Dan patiently got off his horse (that ground ties) and went and gave her back the reins.

Having ridden one of their horses and witnessed this all in person, and ridden some really great trails, I highly recommend anyone with an interest in trail riding in the Berkshires goes to visit them. I would like to go back during fall foliage season and perhaps go on one of the overnight rides they offer.

In the meantime, here are some of the pictures from my ride.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tri-State Dressage Show

I took Secret to the Tri-State Dressage Show on Sunday, July 29th. We did the three Intro Level dressage tests.

It was just over at Woodstock Fairgrounds - so it was an easy drive - but they had 190 rides. There were three dressage rings going, plus a jumping course up on the hill. What a fabulous turnout for them - unfortunately for me it meant that my first test wasn't until 11:33 AM and my last test was at 3:35 pm. I tried braiding Secret myself at home, and then trailered her to the show. By the time we got there, the braid was out. Luckily, Kate from Lollipop Farm was kind enough to rebraid for me (and Kate's braid stayed in all day!)

Secret completely enjoyed being at a horse show in a grass field, and spent all of her free time eating. As you can imagine, with a show this large, the rings got a little backed up at times, so we had plenty of warm up time. She was totally calm, cool and collected during the warm ups and I was very happy with her.

Our first and third test were in ring one and our second test was in ring two. I discovered that Secret is afraid of air conditioners (ring one was up against the back of the secretary's booth). She put on quite a show when she saw the air conditioner. First she stopped dead and I wasn't sure I would get her to move (we were supposed to be trotting). When she did start again, there was a buck in place, a jump over to X (which is in the middle of the ring), and then some fancy footwork back down the rail. I was hoping that since we did all this during the first test, our second test in that ring would be better - but she wasn't having any part of the air conditioner. The judge remarked that she was an elegant horse with a lot of potential, but a few discipline problems! She managed to get seconds, but her scores reflected the discipline problems. I might need to find an air conditioner to practice with at home.

Her test in ring 3 was awesome. She had a minor bobble at one point, and we still have some trouble getting down the center line in a straight line, but I was really happy with her after Test B. She won that class - and won an umbrella with the first place ribbon. I think that was a bad omen because it down poured in the afternoon. Next time I think they should give out sun visors.

All in all, it was a good day, plenty of homework to do, but some really positive moments too.

The three pictures are of Secret's favorite part of the show.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Best Seat in the House

Somehow, Ivy (aka the Barn Dog) always manages to get the best seat in the house!

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Last month I was excited to find out that I have been selected as a Kerrits Ambassador. This is my Kerrits story:

Because I spend a lot of time in the saddle, I like that the tights feel like a second skin. I've had some really bad experiences with other brands causing chaffing on long rides, its not fun! Kerrits are super comfortable, even after wearing them for a 25-mile ride, vet out, packing up and driving home. The Kerrits beanie has saved me on many occasions. I ride all over my family's dairy farm, which is on a hill. In the winter, the wind can be brutal, but the beanie fits snugly under my helmet and the fleece on the inside is awesome.

You can check out my Kerrits Ambassador page here. While you are there, check out the great products Kerrits offers.