“Well it was bound to happen and one night it did,
Papa came home and it was just us kids we had another horse…”
Nothing like a little Garth Brooks! And yes, we now officially have another Blankenheim – because, you know, we are suffering a serious animal shortage in our house, right?
Meet Tari, a 22 year old registered Quarter Horse mare. And yes, I’m barefoot and in shorts in the pictures below. Cowgirl style. 🙂 She’s a beautiful little stocky thing, formerly a serious cowhorse. She’s going to live out life here at the ranch as a companion horse with some light riding. She’s a very sweet, kind minded mare and I’m so happy to have her!
I have a confession: I’m officially obsessed with my horse. Over the past few weeks we’ve been making big progress in our lessons, but due to a busy schedule, I haven’t been able to make it out to the trail and when we do too many lessons in the arena, Sue gets bored. In addition to that, we had a “bad” (honestly, no bad rides with him, but relatively speaking) lesson a few days ago where I didn’t feel well and he didn’t want to run.
Today I finally made it out and was not disappointed – the weather was gorgeous, the people were awesome, and it was a very mellow, relaxing ride. Sue definitely seemed to enjoy himself… I only asked him to lope a couple times and we basically just meandered around the lake.
Yesterday I took the day off work and turned him out in one of the larger pastures. It’s always fun to watch him romp around and this time was no exception. I took my camera and got some great pictures. He even ventured over to meet some new friends (Cowboy and Poco) before romping around some more. His personality has come out over the past few months – he’s ridiculously inquisitive, loves to run, and is always thinking.
On Thursday I took the day off work to head over to the stables to work for the day. My trainer had mentioned when I first started riding that if I ever had a day free, I could come learn the ropes. Thursday happened to be perfect as the farrier (the guy who puts the shoes on) was there. He offered to do Sue first so that I could watch, which I gratefully accepted. I asked if I could bother him with questions while he went (I’m sure he regretted his decision over the course of the next 30 minutes) and I learned a ton. I had no idea what a fine art horse shoeing is… it’s one of the most important parts of the horse and it goes way beyond just nailing a shoe on. He also trims the hoof (think if it like trimming your fingernails), but it has to be done at the right angle, often enough, etc. He then has to fit the shoe to the hoof (that’s where the loud metal-on-metal banging happens) and nails it on (nailing it in the wrong place is called “hot nailing” and results in a swift kick!). It was quite the process and was amazing to watch him work!
Isn’t that a beautiful horse butt? Sadly, I have no more pictures after the farrier – I was too busy having fun!
After Sue’s shoes were done, my trainer showed me how to muck out stalls. I know it sounds completely unglamorous, but there’s something to be said for taking care of these amazing animals, especially in the morning when they’re quiet and eating. It took me a lot longer than it would her (who knew there’s a fine art to picking up poop?), but I got the job done.
All of that raking and shoveling was exhausting, but then came the best part of the day – the riding. I took a lesson on Sue, with another rider from the barn riding her horse, Strider. My horse is a lot smaller than Strider and has much shorter legs, ergo a shorter gait. I’m constantly working with him to extend his trot and lope. My trainer had a fun idea… for me and Sue to chase Strider. It was so much fun just racing around the arena like little kids.
After lunch we came back to the ranch and I rode a beautiful little Arabian mare. She was much more sensitive than Sue, which forced me to work a little harder on my horsemanship. She had a beautiful lope – it was great experience! When I was done on here, my trainer put me on the ranch’s stallion, Charlie. Let me tell you, it was terrifying. He was all muscle and every time we came around the side of the arena that housed the mares, he would stop and whinny at them… with his whole body. It was sort of this guttural noise and shaking. Thankfully, my trainer was there to talk me through riding him (can’t show him any doubt or hesitation) and I was able to stay in control. He is a beautiful animal that once he knew I was boss was fantastic to ride – all muscle and power!
We ended the day with some more stall cleaning and the evening feeding. It’s fun to be the horses favorite at that point… everyone is happy to see the feed cart! I came home around 7pm Thursday night wanting nothing more than an ice-cold shower, a big dinner, and some time on the sofa. It was an absolutely amazing day!
Today I headed over to the barn after work to give Sue and his mama, Banshee, a bath. They both needed it and it was a beautiful day. Sue actually had dirt caked down to the skin on part of his mane (what can I say, the boy loves to roll in the dirt!).
Here’s my boy – I swear he’s not starved… I think this was just a weird angle with a wet horse. He absolutely loves having his mane brushed – whenever I do it he gets really calm and his head starts to sag. We’re finally getting it to mostly lay over to the left… although when he shakes he’s still got some that flips back over to the right (for those of you who don’t know, he rubbed a big chunk of it off on the fence). I seriously love this horse! Every time I’m around him I can feel our bond getting stronger and stronger!
Here’s his mama, Banshee. She’s a champion reining horse:
Dana, my trainer came by and asked if I wanted to ride her bareback… to which I responded with a resounding YES! The one time I’ve “ridden” bareback was on our honeymoon – and they basically plopped us on the horses and we walked them 10 feet into the ocean. Hardly riding. Today was amazing… it was so cool to feel her move. I fell in love with the saddle I bought because it lets me feel the horse – this took this to the next level! We did a few loops around the arena and then practiced some spins – so different than on Sue because Banshee clearly knows what she’s doing! It was a great time!
I can’t believe it, but it’s finally happening. Everything is in motion for me to check off “buy a horse” from my bucket list. This has literally been a lifelong dream of mine, at the top of every Christmas and birthday list. Our pre-purchase exam is Thursday afternoon… I can hardly wait!
This weekend I got my spurs. I had been joking that I felt like the baby at the barn – I was the only one without spurs. My trainer had been out at Ricotti Saddle Company, saw them, and thought of me. They’re absolutely beautiful! She picked up the dark leather spur straps, which I absolutely love… I think I may aim for all of my tack to be that same (or close) color – it will look beautiful on him! I haven’t revealed the horse or his name yet because I don’t want to jinx it… the minute he’s mine I’ll share with everyone!
I took Mom, Dad, Kati, and Chloe out today to meet him… as always, he was a gentleman and loved getting carrots from everyone. He’s got the greatest little personality and I can’t wait to continue to bond with him!
Hope you’re all have as wonderful a weekend as I am!
Last weekend my riding “lesson” was actually a ride around Lake Tabeaud with FOURTEEN other horses. Below is a picture of most of the gang as we rode up a little embankment to “pose”. I’m the 4th horse from the left (wearing the blue helmet). Not the greatest picture, but it was on my trainer’s cell phone. That’s a good looking bunch of horses!
I rode Cinch again this time and he was an entirely different horse with this many other horses around! Instead of having to fight with him to even move forward, I had to fight with him to keep him from going! Apparently he picked up on the energy of the group (we had several nervous horses who were practicing being around others) and decided he wanted to put some pep in his step!
It was such a beautiful day and I had so much fun riding with other people! It was really cool to see all the different types of horses and their temperaments. I think I’m zeroing in on what I want in my own horse!
Yesterday I took the first real step in my journey towards fulfilling my lifelong dream of owning a horse. I took my first riding lesson. During my marathon training I ran past Oak Hill Stables every long run and always thought it was a beautiful place. Yesterday morning mom and I headed out to talk to the owner about boarding and training. I love the owner’s philosophy – it’s all about being in tune with the horse and making sure that horse and rider are well matched. I’m starting off with lessons – each time I’ll ride a different horse so that I can start to get a feel for what I like or don’t like in a horse.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of riding Nike, a 16 hand Appaloosa. The measurement of a horses height is in hands with 1 hand = 4 inches. You measure from hoof to withers (basically the shoulder). That means Nike was 5’4″ tall, which is a big boy. Appaloosas are known for their very smooth gait, and let me tell you, this one was wonderful. He was smooth and easy to ride.
Mom got to ride a pretty little horse named Missy. We both had the best time – the lesson lasted two hours! We were shown how to saddle the horses, then we trailered them and drove to nearby Lake Tabeaud. We rode the whole three-mile loop around the lake and Dana (my trainer) taught me a bunch of the basics. When we were done we took them back to the ranch, unsaddled them, brushed them, and turned them out to the pasture.
By the time we were done, I was utterly exhausted from the excitement of it all. I honestly feel like this is something I was meant to do… I can’t even begin to explain how right it feels for me to be on a horse. I can’t wait to continue my learning experience and to then find the horse that is a perfect fit for me. I loved brushing Nike after we were done (his head got all droopy and he looked sleepy) and can’t wait to have my own horse to bond with. I’m so happy my mom came out to ride with me… I had such a wonderful time spending the day with her and sharing this milestone!