Newbie Horse Rider

Blog for new adult horse riders

Month: October 2016

Weekly Sales for 10/30/16-11/5/16

We’re in between holidays right now, so sales on tack and riding apparel  are limited.  However, I did come across a few deals if you’re looking for some new breeches for yourself, or even thinking of getting a head start on some holiday shopping.

Dover Saddlery – Dover always has deals going on.  However, be careful of what they claim is their sale price as it is often no lower than what other stores charge for the same product.  This week they are offering a deal on Mrs. Pastures Horse Treats – buy one 8 oz bag get another one free.  I personally don’t have any experience with this brand, but my horse will eat anything so I may give these a try.

SmartPak – I love, love, love SmartPak.  One of the reasons I love them so much is their awesome customer service.  Every time I call with a question the customer service representative is polite and extremely helpful.  They also make it so easy to return an item if you are not 100% satisfied with it.  Right now SmartPak has some deals on rider clothing, winter boots, and tack.  Check out my review of the Piper Breeches which are on sale right now for $76.46, my favorite everyday breeches!

State Line Tack – This is always a great place to find deals on anything you need for your horse addiction.  Right now they are advertising 25% off your order.  What’s even better is a new program they are promoting called Heart to Horse.  For $34.99 State Line Tack will ship a box of goodies to your house for free.  Each box is tailored to your specific tastes and riding discipline.  This is how they describe the program on their website:

How would you and your horse enjoy a mystery box filled with surprise tack, treats, apparel, and more? We’ve put together an exciting new program that both you and your horse can love, a box for every riding discipline to enjoy. You’ll receive a specially packaged box with items hand-picked to delight your horse and allow you to try exciting new products. With each Heart to Horse Box, we will donate 25% of net proceeds to local community rescues in need. This helps support our mission to find a forever home for all horses.

This would make a great holiday gift for yourself, or a horse crazy person in your life.  Check it out!

Valleyvet.com – This is a great site if you are looking for medical supplies for your horse.  They also have some tack and riding apparel.  Right now they are selling Ivermectin Paste Horse Wormer (1.87%) for $1.99 which is a 20% discount.

Horze.com– They are currently advertising up to 60% off selected clothing and tack as part of a Halloween Sale.

Chicks Saddlery – They always have great prices.  This is a great place to find horse related gifts for the horse crazy person in your life.

Kerrits – I absolutely LOVE Kerrits!  My favorite winter riding breeches are made by Kerrits; they are so soft and snuggly, I never want to take them off.  All of their stuff is really well made and very flattering to a variety of shapes and sizes.  Right now Kerrits has a sale on select fall and winter riding apparel.  Well worth a look!

Back in the Saddle – Every fall I look forward to receiving their holiday catalog in the mail.  This store has a fabulous selection of horsey gifts for every horse love.  If you are looking for unique gift ideas this holiday season, you must check  them out.  Right now they have a bargain barn where select items are being sold for up to 60% off original prices.

 

This is the best of what I have found from around the web.  If you know of a great sale going on that I failed to mention, please contact me so I can add it to the list.  Have a great week y’all!!

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Diane

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Every once in a while, someone enters our lives whose life story resonates with us.  Maybe it is the struggles they have faced and overcome, or a new challenge that they have taken on with perseverance and gusto.  Diane White fits into both of these categories, and it is her story that I feel privileged to share.

I first met Diane when she came to the barn to meet Flynn, my daughter’s horse whom I was selling.  Diane’s gregarious personality was evident from the second I met her.  She came into the barn like a warm breeze, melting the chill that had settled on the barn that cool day in March.  Diane approached Flynn as one would greet an old friend, and Flynn immediately responded.  Within minutes I knew that Flynn had found his forever home.

Almost immediately, Diane lay all her cards on the table.  She was looking for a gentle soul, a companion and friend to see her through middle age and beyond.   She was not, she confessed, an advanced rider, but rather someone much like myself who had dabbled in horses as a youth until life got in the way.  So, what was it, I wondered, that had taken her away from her passion, and what event had brought her back here?  When Diane’s hand reached up to stroke Flynn’s mane, he lowered his head and breathed a deep sign as though he had been anxiously awaiting her presence in his life.  As her hand gently moved down Flynn’s neck and along the prominent spine of his back, Diane gave me a glimpse into what had brought her to this moment in time.

Like many of us middle-age horse lovers, Diane’s passion had succumbed to the demands of job and family.  By the time she was in her mid-30s, Diane was a busy working mom with two young sons.  Until one day, when she received a diagnosis that would change her life forever: leukemia.  Over lunch the other day, Diane told me that her primary concern during this time was for her sons.  The thought of them growing up without a mother was beyond devastating, and she was prepared to fight as hard as she could for as long as she could.  Her aggressive treatment included chemotherapy and a much-anticipated bone marrow transplant which was regarded as her best hope.  The transplant left her feeling weak, and when it failed to put her into remission Diane was heartbroken.  Her oncologist suggested that she try another transplant but, still reeling from the side effects of the last one, Diane declined.  Knowing that without a successful transplant she had about a month left to live, Diane set about saying good-bye to her loving family and friends.  Luckily Diane had a doctor who was not ready to give up, and as a last attempt he put her on a cocktail of experimental drugs.  That cocktail, together with a whole lot of prayers, put Diane into the remission that she had been hoping for.

Despite her doctor’s warning that remission would likely only last for a month or less, Diane is cancer free more than twenty years later.  As is commonly stated among cancer survivors, Diane is grateful to her illness for opening her eyes to what is truly precious in life.  Her love of life and all of its complexities is contagious, her experience reminding all of us to never take life for granted.  Her prioritizing includes volunteering with Purple Pony, an equine therapy program for disabled children and adults.  For Diane, life is richer if you share it with a horse, and so she drove the almost two hours to meet the horse that would become her adoring companion.

Diane has not let her illness, her age, or other setbacks stand in the way of pursuing her equine dream.  She is an example to all of us that we don’t stop living simply because we get older.  Let us all live our lives as though today maybe our last; love more and ride horses.

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Breaking up is Hard to Do

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You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and you can’t force a horse to ride in the arena if he really wants to be on the trails.  This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way, although luckily not at the expense of any broken bones.  I had bought Walker to ride the trails of Texas, not realizing that a short time later we would be living in upstate NY where trail season is short and sweet.  After our first glorious summer getting lost on the trails near our barn, the reality of winter hit  fast and furious.  As sunny 75 degree days quickly gave way  to 35 and slush, my daughter and I realized that we would have to ride in the arena if we wanted to ride at all.  Fearing that I would humiliate myself in front of other skilled riders at the barn, I signed up for lessons and put Walker in training.  This was one of the best decisions I ever made, although not necessarily for my bank account.  For many months Walker was obedient and largely cooperative as I clumsily learned how to post on the right diagonal and ride with soft hands.  As my skills improved I asked more and more of Walker, and he began to push back.  It started with a small buck when I asked him to stay in the canter and gradually increased to a good size buck when I simply asked him to move forward.  He had put his foot down; he was a trail horse not some fancy western dressage horse.  In between these explosive moments we would venture onto the trails where I would be reminded of why I bought him in the first place.  He was calm, steady, reliable; fear and apprehension would give way to delight as we meandered down leaf strewn trails and cantered across open fields.

That is, until we re-entered the arena and tried to do anything beyond a walk.  Walker and I were in a standoff; both of us stubborn and unwilling to compromise.  After discussing the situation at length with my trainer, it was agreed that Walker would be happier with someone who simply wanted a trail horse.  In the meantime, he would search for a horse that would match my personality and my goals.  It didn’t take long for me to sell Walker, feeling ecstatic that his new owner wanted him simply as a trail horse.  It was sad to see Walker go, trying to fight the guilt that I felt for putting him in this situation in the first place.  I have no doubt that he is a much happier horse now, living at home in a barn attached to an outdoor paddock and a bountiful supply of lush green grass.  With Walker gone I could finally focus on becoming a better and more confident rider, taking twice weekly lessons on my trainer’s lesson horse.   By this point my daughter had sold Flynn and was now the proud owner of a beautiful Morgan that we had purchased from the University of Vermont.   Her new horse unleashed a confident young rider that had been hibernating, not having had the horse capable of unleashing her true potential.  Watching her ride was like watching a butterfly emerge from its  restrictive cocoon.  She was young, and fearless.  Would I ever be able to ride like that?

A few months later my trainer called to tell me that he had found a horse, at a barn just outside of Buffalo, NY.  I received the news with excitement, but also with trepidation.  All of my doubts and fears came rushing in, wondering whether I was skilled enough to ride such a well trained horse.  What if my newbie status caused me to confuse him, thus ruining him for life?  These and other much more dramatic thoughts gnawed at me, day and night until I realize that it all came down to trust.  Did I trust my trainer to find me a horse that was well-suited to my riding ability and personality?  Yes.  Would I have to take the time to get to know the horse, and him me?  Yes.  Building trust takes time, and so I reminded myself again and again to be patient.  When I finally met Austin, aka CBMF Learning Curve, I was instantly reassured by his gentle nature and desire to please.  It would take a few weeks before we settled into a familiar pattern with one another, but before long we would be communicating as a team with a shared desire to learn and grow together.

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Women’s Show Jacket For Sale

If you are interested in posting an item for sale, please contact me.  I will also consider posting horses for sale, so long as they are beginner safe.

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For Sale:  I am selling my daughter’s RJ Classics size 00R Hunt Seat Jacket.  The jacket is a lovely blue herringbone with a faint light blue accent stripe; very elegant.  I bought this for her when she began showing last year at the age of 12, and she only wore it four times.  The measurements of the jacket are: bust 31.5″, length from top of collar to bottom of flap 24″, sleeve 21.5″.  The jacket is fully washable.  Asking $45.00. Please contact me at robyn.adams@newbiehorserider.com if interested.

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Weekly Sales for 10/22/16-10/29/16

There is so much stuff a newbie horse rider needs, especially if you are planning on leasing or buying your own horse.  Every week I will post the best sales from around the web so you can find the best prices on everything you need for  you and your equine buddy.

Smartpak – 20% Off Smartpak Brand Tack, Apparel, and Supplements.  Use promo code FallSale16

State Line Tack – 25% off your order when you sign up for weekly email alerts.

Horse.com – New arrivals up to 35% off, plus save 15% off your order today using code  SPHRS15.   Or, use promo         code SPHRS20 to save 20% off your order of $100 +

Dover Saddlery – Save $25.00 off your order of $100.00 or more using code CM16DFALL25.  Plus, check out their great selection of items on sale.

Chick’s Discount Saddlery – Always has fabulous deals going on!

HorseLoverz.com –  Has some great deals going on right now, including free shipping as well as great deals on blankets and more.  Check out their deal of the day.

Equestrian.com – currently selling select bridles for 50% off,  saddle pads for 34% off, and select models of Tredstep riding boots for 50% off.  They have some great deals on other equestrian items as well.

Schneiders – Doesn’t have any particular sale going on, but their prices are always reasonable.  You can also get free shipping on items over $100.00.

Marystack – Again, no great sale going on, but they do offer very reasonable shipping prices.  Also, offer a great selection.

 

 

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All Dressed Up

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So you’ve decided to give it a try – you’re going to finally take those horseback riding lessons that you’ve always dreamed of trying.  You’re Not going to let anything stand in your way, especially your age.  Now comes the part where you must decide what you are going to wear for your lessons.

If you have not spent much time around horses, you may be thinking of all of the svelte equestrians that you see on t.v. who are dressed in perfectly pressed jackets, breeches and polished tall boots.  Rest assured, it is not necessary to spend a ton of money when you are first starting out, though you may decide to invest in some quality riding gear further down the line.  When first starting out, it is important to have a pair of comfortable stretchy pants that will allow you to move easily in the saddle.  If you are wearing a pair of jeans or other pants that are stiff and unyielding, you will have trouble getting your legs into their proper position.  If you would like to purchase a pair of breeches or riding jeans there are a few recommendations you will find on this site.  However, it is not necessary to buy anything as long as you have a comfortable pair of stretchy yoga pants in your closet.  I often times throw on my yoga pants to ride and find they do just fine for my lessons.  If you are going to wear jeans, please make sure they have at least 1% Lycra in the fabric, otherwise they will not move with you.  Also, many jeans have thick seams which can cause rubbing and irritation (not fun!).  Many people believe that if you are riding English you should not wear jeans, and if you are riding Western you should not wear breeches.  I say this is hogwash.  Wear whatever you find most comfortable.  If you decide to start showing at some point, then you can find the appropriate clothing for your discipline.  I am a Western rider and I frequently wear breeches, especially in the winter months.

Next, you need to find a sturdy and safe pair of riding boots.  I know that many barns tell new riders that they can wear sneakers, but for safety reasons I am opposed to wearing sneakers around horses.  There is a high chance that your toes will get crushed if a horse steps on your foot and you are wearing sneakers.  In addition, the thick rubber tread on the bottom of most sneakers can get stuck on the metal stirrups if you were to fall off.  Therefore it is important to have proper boots that will protect your toes and easily slip out of the stirrups in the event of a fall.  So what are your options for footwear?  You can pick up an inexpensive pair of paddock boots from a number of online sites, including State Line Tack ($29.99), Chick’s Discount Saddlery ($35.95), and Dover Saddlery ($39.95).  Of course these are only a few of many affordable paddock boots available online.  Another option is to find a pair of western boots, which is what I prefer.  If you decide to go this route, do your research as not all western boots are comfortable to ride in.  I have always had good luck with Ariat, and have found their western riding boots to be extremely comfortable.  A few other brands to check out include Justin and Laredo, both of which can be found at Boot Barn for a reasonable price.  However, expect to pay more for western boots as most run for around $65.00 and up.

The final item you will need, and arguably the most important piece of equipment, is a riding helmet.  Please do not wear a bike helmet as it will not protect your head in the event of a fall.  A helmet that is ASTM/SEI certified is essential for all horseback riders.  Proper fit is also essential.  Dover Saddlery has a terrific page on their site that explains in detail how to measure your head for a perfect fit.  Expect to pay around $25.00 and up for a certified helmet.

It is possible that your instructor will ask you to purchase a whip or spurs.  However, those items should not be necessary for your first lessons.  You can usually get some pretty good deals online, so shop around.

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The Fear Factor

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You climb into the saddle, thrilled to be riding at long last.  Suddenly your horse stumbles and your heart starts pounding as a cold sweat spreads across your face.  The fear of falling or being thrown off is very common among new riders, especially among riders who start off as adults.  At some point every rider has experienced fear; if an experienced rider tells you otherwise, they are probably lying.  Why?  At some point in every equestrian’s life, the fact that we are putting our lives in the hands of a 1,000 + pound animal becomes anxiety producing.   For many people who dream of flying across meadows with their trusty stead, fear and apprehension keep their dreams at bay and their feet planted firmly on the ground.    So, how can you manage these fears so that they do not prevent you from doing what you truly love to do?

Recognize that these fears are real and are nothing to be ashamed of.  If you are starting riding lessons as an adult, chances are that you are coming to the table with other life experiences that affect how you deal with trusting such a large and powerful animal.  It is important to find an instructor who understands your fears and doesn’t tell you to just get over it.  Can an instructor assure you that you will never fall.  No, of course not, but a good instructor will acknowledge your fears and help you find a way to overcome them.  Chances are at some point you will take a tumble.  However, with the right instructor and with the right horse, risks can be kept to a minimum.

From one fearful newbie to another, here are some things I’ve learned over the years.  First, never forget that your horse is a walking emotion barometer; your horse will know every emotion you are feeling at every moment.  The more nervous you are the more nervous your horse is going to be.  I always equate this with being a parent of a small child.  Let’s say there is a storm outside and your five year old is in tears because she thinks a tornado is going to rip apart the house.  How will you handle this scenario?  If you start screaming and telling your daughter that, yes, the house is going to be destroyed and everyone’s going to die, chances are your daughter is going to completely freak out.  If, however, you handle the situation calmly and tell her that everything is just fine, and suggest that you sit down and read books together until the storm passes, she will calm down and have faith that you will protect her.  Well, it’s not all that different with horses.  When a horse stumbles, or is spooked by something he sees as a threat, your ability to stay calm will minimize the situation.  Now, I know that this is easier said than done, but with some quality time in the saddle you will gain the confidence that you need to ride through almost any situation.

Second, don’t forget to breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe.  When we are nervous we tend to hold our breathe which is not helpful to anyone.  If you’ve ever experienced childbirth, remember back to what you learned in Lamaze class.  Why do you think you and your partner learned how to control your breathing in preparation for childbirth?  To keep you both calm!  Whenever I sense that fear is taking over, I concentrate on breathing in and letting the air out slowly.  Practice this before you get in the saddle and continue every time you sense fear is taking over.

Lastly, always remember the importance of wearing a helmet.  Hopefully you would never get into a car without wearing a seat belt, and you would never get on a horse without a properly fitting riding helmet.  In addition to helmets, other safety equipment, such as vests, can protect you in the event of a fall.  Always talk with your doctor before starting a riding program, especially if you have had previous health issues.

 

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Are you ready to take a lesson?

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So, do you think you’re ready to take that first lesson?  Or, maybe you’ve been out of the saddle for a while and are hesitant to get back in again.  Where do you start?

From one newbie to another – start with a web search to gather a list of barns in your area that teach riding lessons.  You can also look at newhorse.com which was a valuable site that I used when searching for a barn in Central New York.  Another suggestion is to go into your local tack shop and ask for recommendations.  You can also see if your area has an equestrian club that may be able to help guide you in your search.

Once you have a list of barns and instructors to check out, start making your rounds.  Visit as many barns as you can and observe as many lessons as you can.  When checking out barns and lesson programs look around for other adults; as an adult, you will feel uncomfortable taking lessons at a barn that primarily serves children.  I also believe that having the emotional support of other adult riders, even advanced adult riders, can be instrumental in a newbie’s progress.  Connecting with other adults who are there to celebrate your accomplishments and give support when you feel like giving up, is priceless.  Also, like any sport, watching those who ride well is an important part of  improving your own riding ability.

It is also important to find an instructor who has experience working with adults.  Adults who are learning to ride come to the table with a lifetime of experiences and fears, so it is important to have an instructor who understands that.  Do not assume that because an instructor is young that they are not suitable to teach adults.  My current instructor is in his early 20’s and, admittedly, I was hesitant at first because of his age.  However, he has shown himself to be a very caring and most competent instructor who is wise beyond his years, and I could never have come this far without him.  I suggest that you observe a lesson or two before embarking on that first ride.  That first lesson will have a direct impact on whether you decide to move forward or throw in the towel, so make sure it is with an instructor that you can trust.  When watching a lesson, take note of the interactions that go on between the instructor and students.  Is it a relaxed atmosphere where students feel they can comment or ask questions?  This to me is huge.  Not everyone learns in the same way, and it is important that students can ask questions and voice concerns at any point during the lesson.  No instructor should ever be patronizing, or make you feel foolish for any reason – never.

Lastly, ask about the lesson horses that are available for beginners to ride.  A lesson barn should have at least two horses that are suitable for beginning adult riders.  Observe the horses in a lesson to see how they react with new adult riders.  Are they calm and patient?  Are they reasonably responsive to a rider’s cues?  Also, the barn should have horses of different sizes available for you to ride.  If you are over 5′ 6″ you will not want to ride a pony that usually serves as a child’s lesson horse.

Don’t forget to breathe, breathe, breathe.  You can do this, and it will be one of the greatest experiences of your life.  I promise.

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New York

 

Lush fields in Central New York

Lush fields in Central New York

In the spring of 2013 my husband and I made the difficult decision to leave Texas and return to Central New York where he grew up.  It wasn’t the first time we had lived in N.Y.; all of my children were born in Rochester, N.Y.   We loved Texas but, between job considerations and the call of extended family, it was time to go back.

We had moved many times before so the house selling, house hunting, school hunting, and all the rest we had down pat.  What we hadn’t done before was move two horses halfway across the country. Clearly I had a lot of research to do, both to find a way to transport the horses and to find a boarding facility in N.Y.  Since I knew the general area that we would be moving to, I decided to start with finding a way to transport the horses to N.Y.  My husband suggested that we purchase a trailer, but I soon nixed that idea.  First, a decent trailer that could go the distance was going to cost us at least $9,000, and I didn’t feel at all confident getting the horses all the way from Texas to N.Y. without the help of a professional.  Through my research I learned that when transporting horses it is best not to stop along the way, other than for short breaks.  I knew that there was no way my husband and kids were going to be willing to drive all that way without stopping somewhere over night.  In my mind I also had this horrifying image of me getting the horses out of the trailer only to find they wouldn’t go back in again!

Realizing that I would need to hire a professional company to transport the ‘boys’, I got to work.  I used Google to create a list of equine transportation companies in our area.  It turned out that there were quite a few.  After calling each company and asking a set of questions that I had prepared, I looked for online reviews of each company and made sure there were no outstanding criminal complaints against them.  After taking into consideration price, stall options, and customer service, I choose Equine Express.  Based out of Pilot Point, Texas, this company met all of my needs and then some.

So, with transportation taken care of, I now had to find a barn to keep the horses.  This was going to be difficult.  There was so much to consider: size, lesson options, price, quality of care… Oh, there was so much to consider!   I created a list of barns to explore by using NewHorse.com, and by completing a Google search of boarding stables in the area where we were hoping to live.  I managed to narrow down my list after looking at the websites and reading reviews posted on line (hallelujah for the internet! ).  My list was long, but there was one stable that really stood out, so I planned to visit that one first.

My research complete, we flew to New York to find a house and, hopefully, a barn.  Unbeknownst to us, we flew into Syracuse 48 hours before a blizzard was due to hit the area.  The entire next day was spent looking at houses, and by that night we had narrowed it down to two.  Since both houses were in the same area, we felt confident to start looking at barns.  The next morning, 24 hours before the storm hit, my teenage son came down with one of the worst cases of stomach flu I’ve ever seen.  We left him with family while we went to tour the first barn on our list – Tanglewood Riding Center.  Nestled among green rolling hills, this beautiful barn is situated on 100 acres of trails.  We felt at home from the second we walked in, having been greeted by the owner, an amazing horsewoman who still rides at the Age of 84!  The facility was impeccably clean and spacious.  The stalls were  roomy, and every horse looked happy and healthy.  Two large indoor arenas, two out door riding rings, and numerous turnout pastures rounded out the tour.  The owner was personable and answered all of my questions.  This was the barn to beat.  We left feeling satisfied, but knew it would be wise to look at some other barns on our list.  Only, we got sick – really sick.  Before we could get to another barn my husband, daughter and I all got hit with the same stomach bug that had brought down my son only hours earlier.

At the time, this seemed anything but funny.  Now, however, we look back and say that it was meant to be.  Since we were too sick to look at any more barns, we decided on Tanglewood.  It was as if a higher power was telling us not to look any further.  Now, I cannot imagine entrusting our horses to any other barn.  They have become like family and have impacted our lives in so many wonderful ways.

 

 

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