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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Technology and coordinating schedules...always a challenge!

So here goes, I tried an online scheduling software program so that students could sign up for lessons here on the farm. About 2 hours into the process of entering available time slots and having them disappear, it occurred to me it would just be easier to continue with my current system of texting, emailing and taking phone calls, using iCalendar to block out my time and life would be fine. But then there is the side of the coin which has busy people who need to know what's available for them...

This is a mini-attempt at setting up a plan for April -

Monday afternoons starting the 6th - I'm on the road teaching from 3pm until dark.
Wednesdays are booked solid.
Fridays are full from 2pm on - unless I have several days notice to make other arrangements.
Saturdays and Sundays are open after 1pm unless I'm competing.

That leaves openings on T/TH and mornings on M/F open for trailer in lessons. If you would like me to come to your facility to teach, please email me and we can work out a day & time.

Maybe this will help those interested in scheduling a lesson. Maybe not. Either way it was way easier to type this than fight with software that wasn't working for me! ;)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Big Congratulations!!

Congratulations to owner Judith Gartland and Susan Sisco and Wilona WF for their win in the Silver Fox Challenge and wining all their classes to earn the Side Saddle Champion at the Aiken Horse Show in the Woods. Thank you all for all of your hard work!

Waldaire would be very proud of this talented daughter!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Last Chance to Save on the Spring Training Packages!

Payment is due today!

Last chance to take advantage of sizable discounts on training with Ellie!
Full - $227.50 (-30% off)
Light - ($170 (-15% off)
Private Lesson - $65 on site, your horse only.

Pop an email to Ellie to book your times!

Paypal is available as a payment option - contact for address.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Let's discuss Horse Shopping!

A great time of year is fast approaching in the mid-Atlantic region - prime horse shopping season!! What is this 'horse shopping season' that I speak of??? Well, the days are a bit longer since the clocks changed (stupidest tradition ever btw), so that means more light to ride after work and school! Also, the competition calendar is chocker block full of fun stuff to do for every level and ambition of rider each and every weekend from now until October! The weather is getting better, well, or at least in theory it is! :/  This is a winning combination - better roads, good weather, more daylight...yeppers, you need a new horse! So rather than mutter and rant about the lousy winter we've just had, I'll get to the point of this blog...

How do you go about choosing your new partner? Here are some thoughts that are very important -

That article touches on a a policy that Mom and Dad have had for years. "There is no such thing as a perfect horse." Nope. No way. No how. Nobody is going to convince me there is a 100% perfect horse. Here's why - all horses are individuals, like people are. Each one is a bit different with their own likes and dislikes, challenges and gifts. It is up to trainers and coaches to help nurture the talent and personality of each horse to be an acceptable equine partner for a new rider.

So The Typical Horse Shopper Experience goes like this -
1. You have $xxxxx to buy a horse. Let the fun begin!!!!
2. Begin the search
3. You find "The One" or TO for short
4. You request more photos, information and about 10 hours of video
5. OMG TO is PERFECT on all the 'must have's on your list
6. You go try TO, schedule the PPE, the PPE happens and...
7. Something, somewhere is amiss with TO and your list between steps 1 and 6
8. Dispair, heartbreak and a sense of indignation towards the seller and TO as you feel betrayed
9. You walk away from TO and The Dream and start over with a sense of futility and hurt with a bruised wallet.

So now what would be a good solution for this situation?

The Mom & Dad Horse Shopping Protocol might be helpful -
Waldaire - 1st ride!
He checked 5/12 boxes! No regrets!
1. Make a list of 12 qualities/traits/features/skills that you want in your new horse.
2. Assemble a group of 3-4 horses that check at least 10 of the boxes.
3. Get more information on all of them, i.e. go try them in person. Bring a friend and/or your trainer.
  3A. If these horses are 3000 miles away, make sure your budget can flex enough to afford multiple visits, your vetting costs and/or shipping.
  3B. If the budget is tight, start over in a more local area or adjust your finances.
4. If the horse checks 6 of the boxes, consider yourself blessed. Buy the horse.
5. If the horse checks 4 of the boxes - Buy the horse and with proper training and care, mold it into a 6 out of 12.
6. If the horse does not check 4 of the boxes, move on.
7. If your search takes more than 6 months, go back and revise your list.

That's it. A checklist and prioritizing your list of important qualities in a new partner. M&D are smart people, really.

A few side notes -
If the vetting finds alarming details, talk to your vet in a rational calm manner about possible scenarios.
   There is no crystal ball and horses are resilient, fragile, tough and delicate creatures wrapped into 1,200 pound endearing packages. They can not read radiographs. They are athletes - just like you, The Rider, are!
   Talk to the owner/seller/current trainer/rider, if you have established a relationship with them. Try not to feel betrayed/hurt/disillusioned - more than likely, whatever the detail is - it was a surprise to the seller as well.
   If there was negotiation room or a counter offer, weigh your options. Look into insuring your purchase perhaps. If you have a queasy feeling, walk away in a courteous manner with polite communication with the seller.

If you are new to horse shopping, read the article that is linked above several times. You would be wise to have a trainer or more experienced friend be your wingman in this adventure.

If you have a budget of 30K, look at horses that are not at the top of the budget. Set aside 15-20K and look for horses that with a bit of training (because you're a good rider) will become the 30K horse. Also, in shopping slightly below your maximum, you are leaving a good amount for competition fees, training and the 'in case' scenario.

  What is this 'in case' scenario? Well, I'm going to tell a few tales of the unscrupulous horse goes with some fictional characters for reference.
Suzy = Shopper    Harry = Horse Dealer
#1. Suzy was diligently going through her M&D List and found "Fred" on Harry's website for 25K. Fred was checking 8 of the 12 boxes. Suzy makes an appointment to go try Fred. Suzy likes Fred quite a bit and schedules a vetting. Nothing alarming pops up on the vetting, but Suzy has a feeling that that pretty black horse "Tom" that was being schooled while she rode Fred was The One. Tom was priced significantly higher (45K) than Suzy was planning on spending. Suzy ends up buying Tom for 45K.
In reality, Harry had found out what Suzy's budget was and wanted to maximize his profit.

#2. Suzy finds "Tom" on Harry's website for 45K. Suzy flies to try Tom over a weekend. Tom is great. He checks all the boxes, is vetted w/ radiographs and full vet history that Harry can send on to her vet for review. But at every trial ride, Betty, (the BMW driver with lots of jewelry) is parked ringside watching. As Suzy leaves the stable to catch her flight home, she hears Betty say to Harry (loudly), "Whatever Suzy offers, I'll pay 10K more!" Suzy buys Tom for $57K as she really fell for Tom over the weekend and she knew Betty was planning on snaking Tom.
In reality, Harry had scheduled Suzy's rides on Tom with Betty as well as the amount of the "offer" and timing of the announcement.

#3. Suzy finds "Dick" on Harry's website. Dick is fancy. Dick is pretty. Dick priced well within Suzy's budget. Dick has a prestigious pedigree. Dick is priced very inexpensively for his age and in contrast to his Sales List cohorts that are not nearly as pretty, well bred or imported.
Suzy smells a rat and walks away from Dick and Harry. Suzy is a smart cookie.

So that is enough story telling for today. It's my birthday and I want to get out and ride. It is almost above freezing, so that means it is warm...I think. Maybe.

~Happy Riding!~

Monday, March 23, 2015

Catching up!

A big shout out of Thank You! to the Brandywine Driving Association for organizing such a nice group for Anne's Long Lining Clinic yesterday! So many nice horses and ponies and people! It was a treat to share what we know and make new friends!

If you enjoyed your long lining session with Anne or would like to bring a horse to learn how to long line, please contact Anne. Long Lining Lessons are $50. 

On the catch up list, videos are still be added of some of our Sales Horses. If you are looking for new footage of a particular horse and can not find it, please email one of us and let us know who you would like to see. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Call to action!

It's no secret that our farm has been around for a long time. Mom and Dad have been in the horse business since the dark ages. Yeah, really - they have! You know - pre cell phone, pre iPad, pre Internet and Facebook, or when video cameras sat on your shoulder and weighed 40 pounds.

With all of that in mind, I went after getting a large fan base for our Facebook page with determination and gusto! Now Facebook is changing their policy and distribution of information and we have fans dropping out like stones tossed in the Muddy Run. :( So if you have "Liked" the farm on Facebook, please like, comment or share a post or two in the coming days. Otherwise (as per a FB notification), the news, photos and videos from our farm will be appearing less and less frequently on your news feed!

We have several videos uploading to Youtube at the moment - but it you can't wait that long, they are posted on my page (if you're a friend, you can see them) and being loaded to the farm page as well.

Spring is struggling to really bust out here in our little corner of paradise! But yesterday I deemed the outdoor as useable and opened the drains the rest of the way! Check out FB for updated daylight images in a few hours! We might be riding outside today! :)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Some reflections at the start of March

So March is here. Finally. Frigid February can just be filed away and forgotten, I think. It was brutal but we have survived for the most part.

Now that we've talked about the weather that's behind us, you might be wondering what has me inside the house typing away - well, you guessed it - it's some more bad weather! Ah well, this too shall pass! It will be warm and I'll complain about the bugs soon enough!

A balmy 12*
In a spurt of "why not!" a few weeks ago, I got the itch to do some local schooling shows and get some mileage in the new tests (see below for links). So I had the privilege of showing Daylily WF (aka Stella) yesterday for Mom. Big thanks to the awesome crew up at Straight Forward Dressage for putting on such an organized and friendly competition! Stella was a rockstar and it will be fun to have her in the show string this year! She got a 65 in First Level 2 and 64 in First Level 3 with some green horse bobbles. She is also a real credit to her trainer (Mom) and her ancestors - a responsible and obedient show horse from the moment she stepped off the trailer! Proven genetics at work - lots of good upper level horses with a strong desire to do what is asked of them! What a treat it is to bring another one of our horses out and have them settle in and do their job with no drama! Love the WF horses!

That also brings up another important detail - there are new USDF/USEF tests! You can find them HERE and the FEI test are HERE. You can also download the app and have them on your phone, so they are handy when you are in the ring training too.

My training tips of the week:

1. Have a sense of humor in all your rides. The horses are just as tired of the weather as you are! ;)
2. Laughter makes everything better. When in doubt - giggle!
3. It is a great time of year to practice riding figures and exercises out of the tests. Even if it is just at the walk! Ride the patterns and get comfortable with the order of the movements.

~Happy Riding!~