Monday, May 31, 2010

And the level rider winner is...

Now for the winner of the level rider via from our latest contest is... Drumroll please


Val from Fantastyk voyage

Woo hoo! Please e-mail me your mailing address and if you would like the horn or non-horn version of the level rider so I can forward it to Skip, the owner and creator of the level rider.

Thanks for all who admitted their riding vices here, it sure got the gears in my head going about all the riding vices we pick up over the years and never seem to be able to correct. Hopefully we can get the news out there about this cool piece of equipment.
If you do happen to buy one or own one please do a review on it. I know Skip would love to hear your input on this new innovative product and get the word out there a little more. I know I sure like mine.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sunday stills: Company or corporate logo's

Emo gas station in Ireland. I do believe this was cheap gas there, we should not complain. I don't even think in the real peak of gas last year I paid $1.35 even. Everyone drives tiny cars there anyway.

The Slieve Aughty centre's sign. The house in the background is their large guest house that is not finished. Gerry and Zoe are the two next to it.
Saturday my friend Keri and her sister, mother and I went to the old amusement park and now resort island Boblo Island. There were a lot of old ruins from the park when it closed about 20 years ago. I still remember going there for some sort of show when I was little and going inside the lighthouse I do believe.Luckily someone before us came around and knocked a few doors in so we got to explore. We got to walk inside the old theater it was really cool and yet creepy and an old church. I think next weekend we are going to go over there and go swimming on their beach called white sands.

It was a beautiful week despite being a little high in temperature for this time of year. Crops are being planted, tractors a chugging. This little sleepy hick town has officially come alive. Next thing I know and it will be the fair. Where does the time go?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Keeper of the stable...err yard.

I got back from Ireland Monday evening. It was a long trip but the flight was wonderful. I flew continental and I couldn't say enough things about the wonderful service there. No worries on the ash cloud from the volcano. The flights are actually a few hundred miles from the flight path. An attendant pointed out they had flown much closer to thicker ash clouds and thought they were too worked up about this one considering you couldn't even see it at all.

Some of you asked about how the stables were kept at the Slieve Aughty centre. Well if I can first correct, it's a yard, not the stables. Hehe.

Standing up the hill at the sand arena you get a pretty good view of everything. The barn strait ahead, front and center is two sided. Horse stalls on the side facing us and ponies on the other. The taller barn with the three skylights has five bigger stalls for the horses that escape out of the chained ones.

Every morning the horses are fed hay outside their stalls which are shut with chains.Left to right: Jack, Collin, Portus, Dynamite, Pearl, Troni, Tessa and big Stormy.

They stay in all night, a few ponies sneak out under them so they are tied with long leads. A few horses walk through them so they stay in stalls with solid doors in the other barn. Other than that they are mostly airy and roomy. Each stall had a skylight over it so it was very bright inside them. No one does that here, it's such a good idea and saves electricity.

They can poke their heads out as they please.

Big Stormy looking around for his breakfast.

Their hay and water is placed outside the stalls. It's kinda nice not having to worry about your horse pooping in it's bucket and not having water for the night.Pearl eats some left over hay.

The feeders were cool. Each stall had a feeder built into the wall. Don't have to worry about horses destroying buckets.
Pearl also searches for remnants of breakfast grain.

Because of the high cost of bedding over there and the floors in the stables being cement they clean their stalls a little different than here. Jack models a thickly bedded and banked stall.
The stalls are banked really high on all the walls with shavings. Only the manure is picked out and some of the shavings spread over the top. Now everyone asked me if the ammonia smell from the urine was bad and the answer was no, it smelled clean and offered a very thick bed for the horses to lie on rather than cold cement. The stalls are gutted a few times a year.

The horses are turned out daily in paddocks at various walking distance places around the farm.

The paddocks are interesting. Here you would find wooden boards and fence posts laced with electric fencing here 99.9% of the paddocks are stone walls. Stone walls covered in vines with holly, gorse or other bushes aiding the stone walls that have likely been around longer than most of the trees in the woods around them.Dalin front, Babe left and Manray right. Dalin was not actually in a paddock but rather mowing the lawn.

The stone walls are so neat looking. I thought for a moment "What a good idea, I bet we could make one of those with all the rocks out of the paddock" Then I actually thought about it and considered that once I got about 4 feet built I would likely cuss, kick the dust and toss that idea in the trash. It would look neat though. Maybe one day.

I love the idea of the openness of the whole barns. Now I am not a person who likes horses in stalls; horses gotta be horses. However if I were to build a barn I love their skylight/outside and open deal. Lots of air and less confining to the horses. It's almost a culture shock to see how different the ways the horses are kept. They were a lot more peaceful than the horses around here kept in barred stalls with no way to look around and develop stereotypies because of it.

What a wonderful place for both horse and human.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Back to you after a brief intermission

I made it back just fine from Ireland. However I do have many more Ireland posts coming up including a video of me jumping cross country. My internet has decided to be less than cooperative and the post I have been trying to write for the last two days will not save/publish. Grr internet that is useless!

So here is a sneak peak/teaser picture of some awesome bitless cross country. Hopefully another full post complete with pictures will be up tomorrow, if the internet cooperates.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday stills: Landscapes

Boy do I have landscapes.

After I got off the plane I had to sit around the Dublin Airport for a few hours until Zoe and Gerry showed up. I waited and waited until Merel finally showed up to tell me that their flight was delayed and they wouldn't be around for another few hours. She asked me if I wanted to take a walk. Of course I did. I didn't know exactly what was in store but I was not disappointed.

We hiked

and hiked

and hiked some more, finding ruins along the way
We hiked up. You can see the ruins down there.

And up
Up more

Looking down, I forgot to take a picture of this bridge.
We were far up. If you look at that first picture, we hiked up the right side then up the left where we were when I took this picture of Merel.
Looking back down at the lake.
Here are the ruins again.
This is the path we walked up way down there. You couldn't see it zig zagged quite as much from the bottom of the walk. It was particularly hard because the pathes were very rocky and had large stones you had to climb up and over.
A beautiful green cliffside

The lake, you can see the parking lot waaaaaay down there.
Where the river runs into the lake.

In total this walk was about 3 and a half hours and a ton of fun. It looks like our Canadian sunshine followed us here, there's been barely any rain but at night one day. Good thing because I forgot my raincoat.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More to come...

I haven't posted because I have been extremely busy riding and writing and taking many, many pictures. Today was our Interdressage competition. A dressage test taken off the site and is ridden, video taped and sent in to be judged against riders all around the world for real rosettes and real money. The creator of the site, Karina joined us to judge our show and give some of the riders pointers for a better dressage test.
Everyone but one rider was bitless. In the end she did ride her test again bitless and did wonderful scoring a little above the bitted test.

I do not have a lot of time to post it all now so for now I will leave you with a few highlights from the last two days.

Ponies jumping through ditches.

Zoe riding Collin.

Rebel's fear of the saddle pad,

And getting over the fear of the saddle pad.

On to saddling.


To bitless

I'll be around to your blogs when I get back home next week. Home, if only it was not so far away I could bring my horse here. What fun we would have.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bitless horse blog in Ireland: training day

Today we started off the usual way with a great breakfast followed by getting some young horses together for a training day. Gerry was to work with some horses in preparation of riding them.

The first horse into the ring, or rather pony was Rebel, a 4 year old Connamara stallion. Starting out we were under assumption that the horses had some handling other than being lead. That is a whole other story.

Rebel was decently behaved for a stallion. He was not mean, just inexperienced and a little fearful of being in a new place with so much going on at once. Gerry worked with him for a wile.

Putting on the Nurtural bridle.

He was a tough case, having never been really worked with before other than leading and breeding mares. We made a little progress.

Gerry went for a break and I worked with him. The mare in the next paddock was distracting to him. You would have his attention for a few seconds then it would be gone on to other things, which is often the case with stallions. Most of them have a one track mind.

I got up until putting on the saddle pad, which he was a little apprehensive about, kicking out towards it a few times out of fear before he accepted it on his back and settled.

Next it was on to a 3 year old Sport horse mare named "no-name".
She had a 2 month old "oops" at her side.
A very cute oops.

They had been separated a few times before but obviously not for long as they both screamed and hollered for each other from opposite sides of the farm.

The first thing I noticed, No-name was completely terrified of human touch. A hand on her chest would send her skyward, hooves lashing out. But she was not a mean mare and her owners did not know that. After a little wile working with her Gerry was able to calm her down and accept touching on her sides and back.

Then the farrier that came with the owner speaks up to me he says "Yeah she was lame a little wile ago. I tried to pick up her feet and she struck out with both hooves at me" I raised an eyebrow. The owner is kind of a rough guy. He went to bring the mare back to the stall with the foal at lunch. I knew something was up the way he walked into the stall and smacked the foal on the nose then smacked the mare several times with the lead rope to get her out of his way. She was terrified of him and with good reason; there was no understanding there, just temper.
Long story short we talked with them for a few minutes and talked more about how she was handled and Gerry worked with her and was able to pick up all four feet. The farrier went home and got his tools and for the first time this horse had a trim where before it would have ended up in someone's teeth (AKA: the poor farrier who got kicked in the chest I do believe by her)

All ended well and we had a dressage and jumping lesson (minus pictures I was riding and jumping) We are preparing for the Interdressage competition to commence here on Saturday. It should be fun, I can't wait!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bitless horse blog goes bitless in Ireland

Finally! The post you have all been waiting for... Go to the bathroom and get some popcorn it is going to be a long post having had a few days of adventures.

Monday afternoon I embarked to the Detroit airport (which is always an adventure in itself) to board the plane to Newark NJ and then to Dublin Ireland. I'll spare you the details on how long but awesome the service on the plane was.
You know the right way to start a trip is to sit down in the car to drive to the airport and rip the seat of your pants wide open! All you hear is mom yelling something from the window then OH MY WHATS WRONG WITH YOUR PANTS!? so the whole neighborhood can hear it as I bent over giggling in the driveway to show her. Good thing I could change and wasn't on the plane already.

I sat in the Dublin airport for five hours. Of course being me I think I can go just about anyplace and find someone to talk to. I met some interesting Irish people and we talked wile waiting for others to arrive.

Most people here know something about horses or has a family member that has horses. It's an interesting place full of very friendly people. By the time Marel showed up (11 am their time, I had been there since 7 am) she explained to me that Zoe and Gerry's flight was delayed in Toronto and would be late. She asked me if I would like to go for a hike. Of course I would. Here is just a glimpse, I will have another post about this 3 and a half hour hike later AKA-check back on Sunday stills but here is a sneak peak. Just to put it into perspective we hiked up the right side to where the hill levels off there in the middle, then all the way up the hill on the left, all along the top and back down.

Of course I did this after adding 5 hours to the time after my flight. I just had to. We also visited a very cool, very Irish graveyard with a neat tower and chapel. Also for another post.

When we got back to the farm it was getting pretty dark. We had tea and went to visit some of the 32 horses on the property before heading off to bed for the night. Heres horse breakfast the next morning

I made a friend. My scratchy fingers were quite welcome on Big Stormy's neck here. I liked him, he was a sweetie as were the rest of the horses here. Ooh look at that lip stretched all out there. That feels good!

I fed some dandelions to Troni. I hope this is her approving face, she was not quite sure what I was handing her. I seem to have this effect on a lot of horses (ahhem, Indigo you beggar, I miss you a lot!)

Once done breakfast I went for a walk by myself down the road towards the cross country course. I want to jump so, so, bad!

The further I wandered the more intersting places I came upon.

Why hello there cute pony! This is Wooda.

I also found myself some cute asses. Hehe. They were really curious and came right over to where I was at the fence to say hello.

Didn't your mother teach you it is rude to scratch your ass in front of others?

If you scratch my ass I'll scratch yours.

Too cute. Too cute.

When I was coming back the ponies had passed out on their sides.

They were tired, so was I.
I went back to the house, took a shower and passed out cold only to be awoke by Zoe yelling up the stairs to my room seeing if I was there and exclaiming my boots were not there. WHAT!? My blundstones. I launched out of bed and came barreling down the stairs only to realize my boots were there; she thought I was wearing shoes and had gone out on a hike and got lost. Phew!
We ate lunch and then went to the stables to tack up.

This is Jack.

I rode Jack today on our first 3 hour trail ride through some interesting county. A lot was too difficult to take pictures and ride at the same time; like a 2 and a half foot tall, one foot wide ditch that I had to take my feet out of the stirrups because my feet were dragging on the top of the ditch. I was afraid I was going to stand up on the top of the ditch and Jack keep walking.
Sorry for the horrible image quality from here on. I was very tempted to chuck the Kodak camera into the bushes.

Gerry left and Merel right. Jacks ears center and the ever energetic jack russel terrier who I can't seem to remember his name at the moment.

All bitless of course!!
Zoe behind me.

We came up close and personal with a lot of cows in pastures we had to cut through. Why hello there!
Say hello Jack.

I like this one with it's cute dark ears. I have a thing for cute cow ears, and horse ears. Especially pony ears. Itty bitty little pony ears.

Buh bye cute cow.

A concerned mama cow in another field down the road.

This is for my man. He reads my blog and is probably tired of reading so much horsey stuff so here is something with wheels and a engine; a Irish new holland tractor. Another big tractor too, and another.

Lots of gorgeous land. Rolling hills. Stone walls everywhere in every paddock. Now that is a good idea of what we should do with the rock breeding farm that goes on in the paddock back home.

Uh oh! Cow in the road ahead.

It and several others went mooing and running away.

Gerry, myself and Zoe.
Merel was taking the picture, you can see her horses butt in the image there.
Merel, Zoe, Gerry and I.

Of course one of me making a goofy face as usual without meaning to.


The horses were not too sure. They had never seen them before as they were new at the farm we passed.

Back home to untack and wash the horses legs just in time for a delicious dinner. Until tomorrow.
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