Wednesday, November 30, 2016

magic trainer dust

I bet if you looked back at all the times I've written about dressage trainer C from TM Farm, at least half would go something along the lines of "Gosh it's been forever since I've ridden with her and I miss it desperately!!" And so it goes.

My last lesson with C was in August, on her giant warmblood gelding Cole. And I've eagerly counted the days until she could meet Charlie. The main delay was the trailer: loading Charlie onto the Calico trailer was a two person job and that's just not feasible for solo travel. So the first order of business upon buying the Cotner was getting on C's lesson schedule!!

orally fixated horse will perform for snax!!!!
he's also not totally clear why i'm bothering him so early in the morning lol
There's no media from the ride so you're just going to have to take my word for it: Charlie was a star! He was immediately the softest over his back that he's ever been, and actually had moments where he could maybe have even been considered going on a contact.

Obviously this is all relative folks - you saw the pics and video from our dressage show, and no I'm not trying to say he morphed into Valegro the moment he stepped into the indoor at TM....

But. He did in fact go super well, tried very hard, and perfectly demonstrated to trainer C exactly what we're working with here. And naturally C had just the right kind of magic trainer dust to sprinkle on us to help Charlie perform to his very best!
side story: i hemmed and hawed about whether to leave his sheet on for the trailer ride, since it was so wet and chilly out. whelp. i chose poorly. one of the leg straps got caught on the butt bar closure on charlie's way off the trailer... at least he was very mature about it. paused long enough for me to see the problem... but there wasn't anything i could do to help him so he freed himself at the expense of the (new) sheet (rip). and immediately set about grazing at the new-to-him farm as if nothing had happened. good horse, bad handler....
Anyway. Dressage lessons are tricky enough to recap as it is. And those of you who watched our dressage test video from this past weekend already know that we're not exactly digging into the meaty cerebral nuances of pure dressage yet. So our conversation to kick off the lesson sounded a bit like:

Trainer C: "What have you been working on?"
Emma: "The most basic of the basics."
Trainer C: "Ok. So is there anything in particular you want us to look at today?"
Emma: "Nope, have your way with us!"

hangin in the wash stall mostly kinda sorta patiently! i normally tack up at the trailer but damn that rain was miserable
Rather than give you a further play-by-play narrative of how it all unfolded, I'm breaking it into three main categories of bullet points. Mostly for my own reference but who knows, maybe some nugget will translate for your own horse too?

Anyway. First up, and for my own personal gratification:

First Impressions of the Horse:
  • Loved Charlie's expression, observing that he should develop into a very fine looking guy. Saying she expects he'll have a lot of 'presence' and that these TB geldings always mature into very handsome faces. This reminded me of Trainer P saying Charlie has the build for a very 'elegant' picture. Fingers crossed I can do it justice!
  • Expects he's going to look like an entirely different horse in six months. 
  • Liked his brain and understood why I bought for the brain even if it doesn't come with much flash. She agreed that Charlie seems perfectly suitable for my purposes, tho also noted he's got a nice enough look to him that he would be easy to sell if we ultimately didn't mesh. 
  • Decided that the canter is his best gait.

inspecting all the mirrors in the new indoor!
Next up, all the various little tips and tricks and kernels of wisdom that I need to remember while riding:

For the Rider:
  • My legs need to seriously loosen up. Especially that inside leg. 
  • Think about it hanging around loosely to bump on and off Charlie's side to keep activating his inside hind, and keep him bringing that leg up and under himself.
  • Because I need to ride more forward. More. MOAR. 
  • Notable: she had me pick up a dressage whip partway through the ride. I usually ride with a crop but hadn't tried a whip yet (tho I carry one for ground work). I expected it to be a nonissue and Charlie agreed.
  • My outside hand needs to be basically irrelevant. Plant it low near the withers and keep it there. (I imagine it behaving somewhat like a side rein - steady but neutral).
  • Raise and open my inside hand (thumbs up plz!), but with reins short enough that my hand doesn't need to go drifting off into the stratosphere. 
  • Use circles in the short ends to establish FORWARD and BEND (forever and ever, amen), then work to hold that going down the long sides too. 

alllllll of them!! they're so much cleaner here than at our home barn haha
  • Trainer C was cool with the strategies I've been using for canter departs. 
  • Basically Charlie is funny about his leads. He has both, can pick both up nicely, but is occasionally sticky on one or the other (it changes). 
  • Often if I get the wrong one a couple times in a row, I'll just change directions so that it becomes correct. Then usually when we go for the next one it's there. We also used the h/j trainer M's idea of making half turns back to the rail to lead into the depart. 
  • Trainer C thought both were totally fine - but reminded me to always organize and bring the horse back to stasis before asking again if we biff it. That I shouldn't be contorting myself into a pretzel just to get the lead, bc otherwise he'll think that's what a canter depart is and I'll always have to do it like that. 
  • It's worth noting that by the time we got to the canter, Charlie was pretty tired and we struggled a little bit. C said tho that once you get the lead you want, don't canter around on it forever - make it quick and easy then apply praise.

this sure beats the last picture i took in this pose, with Ms Krimpet lol
For the Horse:
  • Basically if Charlie gets too heavy or too high in his head, he's probably not moving forward enough from his hind end.
  • He's got to be able to get his shoulders up and out of the way and bring his hind legs up and under.
  • Leg yields are going to be my friend for this.
  • Charlie's natural inclination is to be a LOT heavier than I'm used to - we will both likely need to do some adjusting here. 
  • When changing directions, Charlie's allowed to take time to change bend - even if it takes a full circle, let him go gradually if he needs it. That doesn't mean 19 million circles tho haha.
  • Tracking left is just plain harder - but he's basically just doing what race horses do. It'll take time but he's trying!
  • Charlie's hind end gets tired pretty quickly right now. 
  • He trips and stumbles bc he's shuffling and not stepping under himself. 
  • Damn, his true working trot is a LOT bigger/faster than I've been riding it. It's maybe a little outside of my comfort zone haha. C told me to take advantage of his power forward immediately after a canter to really settle into that bigger trot. 

temporarily stall squatting bc homeboy had to pee (#racehorseproblems) and trainer C wasn't about to let him desecrate her nice footing lol
So. This was undoubtedly the hardest both Charlie and I have each worked since we met each other two months ago lol. It was good tho. Charlie was very good. I'm really happy with him.

He's a VERY different ride from Isabel tho - and in some ways much more physical. I'm gonna need a lot more core strength if I have any hope of avoiding feeling like he's pulling me down out of the saddle lol. Rather, it's supposed to feel like he pulls me down into the saddle.

Trainer C always knows how to get the best ride out of me tho (and the horses too) so hopefully we're starting on that path of building the right muscles and habits in these lessons!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bob's No Halters Required Dressage Show

We know from yesterday that Charlie went to his first dressage show this weekend! And that he actually did pretty darn good! Lest there be any misunderstandings on what 'pretty darn good' means to me right now, tho, let's get this post started off with a representative photo:

Lol... Yup that's basically what we look like right now. It isn't what you would call "classically pretty" or "elegant" or... idk, choose your own adjectives.

And no, that moment isn't cherry-picked for maximum awkward. It legit demonstrates our current combined level of training. While I hope you'll watch the test video below, I'll still assure you right off the bat: No, Charlie doesn't go on the bit, nor does he soften his topline for more than a step or two (if that). Yes, it's mostly a little awkward and stilted.

please enjoy this pic of Brita & Bella killin it as a balm for the previous eye sore lol
BUT. It's Introductory Level. I read that dressage test sheet top to bottom, front to back, in choosing this test (test B) as Charlie's grand entrance into the dressage court:

Test requirements: Free walk; Medium walk; Working trot rising; 20m circle; Halt through walk

Purpose: To introduce the rider and/or horse to the sport of dressage. To show understanding of riding the horse forward with a steady tempo into an elastic contact with independent, steady hands and a correctly balanced seat. To show proper geometry of figures in the arena with correct bend (corners and circles).

Charlie's got the "regal pose" thing down pat tho haha
So... yea that sounds right where Charlie and I are in our training (read: zero dressage lessons yet haha).

Steadiness, geometry, accuracy... these are things we can do fairly consistently. Correct bend? Actually usually(ish)! Contact needs work (obvi), as does our forward as a function of true impulsion... but that's exactly what this level is all about.

not particularly "forward" in warm up, but steady tempo at least
And, recall from yesterday that my purpose in this outing was less about the dressage test itself and more about all of the pieces that come together to create a successful show:

From hauling over and arriving on the property, hand walking / grazing to familiarize (they also let me hand walk around the dressage court too - bonus!), and tacking up at the trailer, to warming up, riding the tests, and winding back down again at the trailer afterward.

The tests themselves are only minutes out of an hours-long experience. So imo, every other element in the above process is at least as important, if not more so, in making a positive day for the horse.

a little more forward and maybe some actual bend
Plus, as we've all learned the hard way at some point or another with horses... little hiccups and bobbles in those other steps in the process are often contributing factors to a disappointing performance.

So idk. You might be confused about why I'm dwelling so long on the time spent out of the show ring in a show recap post... but for me, with Charlie, it was the most meaningful part of the day.

Personally, I'm at my best when I know what to expect. When I have a clear idea of how an outing will unfold. Down to details like how equipment is packed on the trailer, or where and how I'll actually get on the horse. How long I expect to walk the horse in our warm up. Etc etc.

if you ignore how we look in motion, we might actually be mistaken for a dressage pair!
Which, naturally, is basically impossible with a new horse haha. Because legitimately everything is new right now. I don't know how Charlie is going to react to new things yet bc we just haven't built up a history of shared experiences from which I can make predictions.

However, I *DO* know one very critical quirk about Charlie, from our first session with my local horsemanship guru: Charlie cracks a little under pressure. Specifically, he can get defensive or upset if he doesn't understand or thinks he's in trouble.

Therefore, my #1, primary, most importantest goal of the day: Help Charlie get the answers right, make it easy for him to succeed, and don't dwell on mistakes. No fighting, no getting in trouble.

in motion tho haha..... ahhhhaha. sometimes we trot like this. majestic AF guys. 
So when he got a little agitated while I was watching Brita's tests? Or when he couldn't stand still to be tacked? Nbd. When some loud rattling trucks and trailers filled with kicking horses drove by during our warm up, and Charlie got to thinking he could escape faster without me on his back? Just keep riding and keep guiding him forward to stay with me.

Sure it made me a little nervous and tense haha, but the great thing about this horse is that he honest to god is not super reactive. And if something upsets him, he can basically recover and move on with his life pretty quickly - actually more quickly than I can!

the walk ain't so bad tho. and scenic arenas and pretty sunlight make for an actual reasonable picture!
This philosophy contributes to how I rode him at the show too, and maybe how I ride in general. It maybe makes for a more tentative ride than what's called for. A comment from the judge, echoed by trainer P watching from the sidelines, was that I need to ask for more when Charlie softens and relaxes.

But... eh. It aligns well with my purposes for the day and we can fix the actual training later (hopefully) lol.

now this is a cherry-picked moment. we might actually have been mid-stumble here haha
Anyway... shall we discuss the tests themselves? My biggest concern was halting haha. Because damn, this horse just... like... doesn't, sometimes. Not running away or anything, but like a long slow heavy downward dribbling ever forward pulling me down down out of the saddle but never actually physically stopping. We can legit be going sooooo slow and I'm still using a goddamn pulley rein to actually achieve the halt haha.

So yea it's a struggle. Bend is kinda a struggle too bc, among other reasons, I'm not very good at moving Charlie's shoulders around yet, and he has a strong draw towards the gate. Everything else tho I kinda figured would be ok.

turns out homeboy can halt tho!!
Alas, in the first test there was something massively distracting in the corner by H, and we were both just generally quite tense. Charlie was very obedient (and shockingly accomplished both halts beautifully! yay for practice paying off!!) but our rhythm and circles were hurt by the tension.

Upon completion, the judge reminded me to create that forward channel for the horse to move into, and that any horse but especially an OTTB will just bear down on me if I hang on him.

Luckily tho, I had entered to ride the same test twice and was consequently scheduled with back to back tests. Perfect. We left the court for a little more walking and trotting around the perimeter, then were rung back in to repeat the whole process over again.

gooooood pony!
And Charlie settled right into it like a very good boy. This guy, he's a quick little learner haha. Where the first test was tense, distracted, and unsure, the second test saw Charlie saying, "Oh, this again? Yea ok I know what this is."

2nd test video here, captioned with test directives, scores, and judge's comments
it's probably the shortest dressage test video evar, just 2:30!!

So again, it's not very .... dressage-y, but it felt like a real win for Charlie that he could relax and understand the process so quickly. That he could just go right to work like he does at home (bc yea, I admit that's basically just what we look like right now lol).

picture chosen purely for its merits of dramatic lighting and otherworldly proportions lol
After finishing the second test I hopped off while still actually in the arena and we stuffed the big guy full of carrots. His whole demeanor was easily the most relaxed it had been since we arrived on property (aided undoubtedly by me finally relaxing a bit too).

it's a charlie party at the trailer chuckles-mobile!
Then off to the second half of his grand adventure: chillin at the trailer for a while longer while Brita, Austen and I socialized with a few other friends and family members with sandwiches, snacks, pie and beer. That's the best part of showing, right?

Charlie, for his part, got to eat his lunch at the trailer too (effectively covering the sparkling new fender with slobbery mushy mashy slop) and just generally settle in and relax as the world and barn hubbub continued on around him.

big boy's first ribbons <3
(with slobber spatters visible all over the trailer lol)
Plus, obviously we had to wait around for the division to finish so I could get my tests and RIBBONS!!

Our first test earned us a very well-deserved 58.75% for fourth place (out of six or seven, I can't remember) - with high marks (6.5s) for our halts and trot-walk transition and low marks (5s) for the free walk and submission.

The second test (scored in the same division) undoubtedly benefited in its immediate comparison to the first and earned a maybe-less-well-deserved score of 63.75% for first place!! Yay Charlie!! Scores are noted in the video above, but high marks (7s) were more abundant, again for halts and trot-walk trans, plus a few others. Low mark (5.5) for impulsion.

So. Charlie's first show is in the books. Not earth shattering, but rather just a solid ground on which I'll hopefully build a foundation.

Monday, November 28, 2016

maiden voyage

Phew. I need a long weekend to recover from this past long weekend. Does anybody else feel like that?

Anyway this is mostly just a quickie teaser post as I certainly can't be the only one who is only slowly pulling things together to get back into a normal rhythm. It's just been... wow. Just so much pie. Ya know?

get on the bus, charlie!
As I was saying, tho, here are a couple teaser pics from Charlie's first actual outing in the new trailer (his third outing total with me). We went back to my favorite weekly stomping grounds, OF, but not for a lesson this time around.

Nope, instead Charlie went out for his first little dressage schooling show!!

first setting eyes on the dressage court!
It might as well have been a whole new place for Charlie tho, bc aside from parking the trailer in the same place and using the same mounting block, everything else was different. He warmed up in a new-to-him field, and rode his tests in the new-to-him dressage court. Very exciting!!

charlie already knows how to dress like a dressage horse tho
And ya know what? It was actually pretty fun! Personally my first return to the show ring since the ill-fated Jenny Camp last spring... And Charlie's first 'event' since his final race on Aug 9.

Sure, we had a little bit of tension with Charlie processing all the activity and trying to figure out exactly what in the fresh fuck was about to happen to him. And naturally I had my own nerves too.

chillin at the trailer like a grown horse
But this outing wasn't about the performance at all - it was purely about that experience for him. The rides weren't what mattered (and I PROMISE we are not breaking new ground at Intro, folks, have no fear. not like that's gonna stop me from posting the video anyway tho haha).

Rather, I was most interested in Charlie feeling that build up of anticipation for.... something. But then having that "something" end up being quite easy for him, something at which he can easily succeed (hello, w-t test!). And obviously I wanted him to experience that atmosphere and the hustle and bustle of horses everywhere, plus spending quality time tied to the trailer.

The whole shebang, ya know? But in an easy, laid back and ultimately safe environment. And he was so good!! Actually so good that we even managed to snag some satin in a somewhat crowded intro b class!! More details to come on that tho ;)

Hope you all had a great weekend too - whether it was a long one here in the US (filled hopefully with fantastic food and PIE) or not!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

happy thanksgiving! (via gifs)

Hope all you US readers out there are having a wonderful Thanksgiving today! And for non-US readers, hope you get to eat some good food anyway (and maybe spend time with loved ones and family and whatnot too lol).

I'm looking forward to my annual tradition of fitting in two family dinners today (#giantfamilyproblems) and thought I'd share a couple gifs that accurately reflect my excitement (but with animals bc obviously):

my face when i first see that turkey

trying to load up my plate with ALL OF THE THINGS ALL AT ONCE OMG SO HUNGRY

and obviously sneaking in for 2nd and 3rd servings when nobody's looking

and trying to cut a slice of pie without destroying my sister's ridiculously ornate crust that undoubtedly took her forever to make. trying... and failing. #oops

then finally rolling myself over to the couch for some football post meal. no regrets!!! whatever i missed today will still be around for leftovers tomorrow ;)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

notorious S.T.A.L.L.I.O.N.S.

Like any overeager and excitable 12 year old with an internet connection, I set immediately to the google for researching anything and everything I could about the ottb on which I had just laid down a deposit: Charlie Murray.

This obviously included the standard perusal of his pedigree and race record.

Charlie Murray, 2009

The thing is, tho - I don't know an awful lot about thoroughbred racing lore or history. Sure, plenty of these names are familiar. But I couldn't necessarily tell you why, or any details or distinguishing characteristics of the most famous stallions.

Imagine my surprise, tho, when further googling uncovered a link to Behind the Bit's post on "Meanest Thoroughbred Stallions Ever..."

Could it be true? Could this horse I had just fallen in love with bc of his sweetness and laid back attitude really be from bloodlines associated with such notoriety?

Below are just a few snippets from the many forums and articles my search uncovered on the topic:

Storm Cat (by Storm Bird)

image source

Quotables from the Forums:

  • Known for siring "grouchy" horses
  • Offspring noted as "handfuls," can be very tough when not handled correctly and are very sensitive. Can't be bullied or rushed. 
  • Storm Cat progeny have a rep for bad temperament 
  • Mares and fillies seem to be generally thought of as quite sweet tho
  • "Keep yourself on the same team as the horse and you have a great horse. If you're determined to fight with him you'll probably end up with a ruined horse because he'll never back down, never quit. That never-say-die and I'm-gonna-fight-til-I-drop attitude I attribute to Storm Cat, Northern Dancer, ..., etc"
  • Bold as brass
  • For eventing, I wouldn't take a Storm Cat for free. They tend to be very spooky.

Elsewhere around the Web:

Sporting Post:
Another interesting example of sires "passing on" their temperamental quirks can be seen in the Storm Bird male line. Storm Bird himself was a notoriously mean stallion, and his son, Storm Cat, himself has a number of stallions, such as Catrail and the self mutilator Tale of The Cat, with troublesome personalities. Another Storm Cat son, Storm Boot - a successful sire from limited opportunities in the US, was also described as an "unusually aggressive stallion."
Having said that, two sons of Storm Cat, who are reputed to be relatively sensible stallions are Giant's Causeway and the late Hennessy

Daily Racing Form
"They are horses you don't fight," Terrazas said of Storm Cat and his progeny. "If you fight them, they're going to fight back, so you have to find a medium ground where you get along."

Summerhill Stud
Then there's Storm Cat, whose father Storm Bird, unusually for a son of Northern Dancer, was a bad tempered old bugger who passed his quirks on, to the degree that several of Storm cat's sons are not only on the "hot" side in general, but prone to self-emasculation.

Halo (by Hail to Reason)

image source

Quotables from the Forums:

  • The Hail To Reason lines through Halo and Roberto are notorious for evil stallion behavior
  • Halo's sire Hail To Reason produced some good sport horse types, but also quite a few that were difficult tempererd
  • Halo drowned birds
  • Halo tried to kill people
  • Someone in KY got the idea to put Halo in an aluminum muzzle... bad idea, apparently he used it as a weapon, swinging his head and bashing a groom in the face...
  • Halo was just sheer evil. You could tell stories about him for hours. He snapped birds out of the air, and eyed airplanes too.

Elsewhere around the Web:

Sporting Post
Another famous stallion, best described as vicious, was Halo. A horse who constantly wore a muzzle, Halo passed on much of his fire to his great son, Sunday Silence. The latter was said to have "a belligerent temper" while Halo attacked a number of grooms during his years at stud.
Famed US trainer, Charlie Whittingham, said of the Halo progeny, "Halo is a pretty mean sucker... all his sons and daughters are a little that way."

American Classic Pedigrees
A mean, not particularly attractive near-black horse, Halo, nonetheless matured into a good turf runner.
He also had a nasty and cunning disposition that did not improve with age and was quite studdish while still a racehorse. To add to his sins, he had the habit of regularly dumping exercise riders and running off. 

The Vault Horse Racing 
(this whole article is worth a read if you have time)
Halo could not really help being such a bad-tempered colt. His sire, Hail To Reason, had needed a good deal of convincing to bloom into the well-mannered horse he became, and his grandsire, Turn-To (1951), a son of Royal Charger (1942) and grandson of the incomparable Nearco (1936), got mixed reviews in the breeding shed.
There was something about his new career that turned the always nervous Halo into a genuinely nasty stallion, so mean that he went out to his paddock wearing a specially designed muzzle.


And just for the sake of completeness, let's take a look at the two other stallions close in Charlie's pedigree (not known for any savage or nasty behavior), bc who doesn't like looking at pictures of some classy horse flesh: 

His sire, First Samurai:

And grandsire, Giant's Causeway

(Is it just me or does Charlie not resemble either stallion very strongly at all? lol)


So what do you think about all this? 

If you've looked into OTTBs (or any other breed, for that matter), do you consider the temperament of the stallions? Or do you think that hereditary nastiness is total bunk, that it's a case of nature v nurture? 

kind eye

Would you buy a horse with a pedigree full of nasty stallions? Does it factor into your decision-making process at all, or do you exclusively draw your conclusions by the horse as it appears in front of you? Maybe you don't consider the pedigree at all? Or only as an afterthought?

Do you have any stories or experiences with notoriously crotchety or nasty horses? Or does your horse have any tendencies or quirks that you can trace back through his or her lineage? Do you recognize any of the names on Behind the Bit's list from your own horse's pedigree?

I don't know much about racing or pedigrees and would love to hear all about it from you! 

Monday, November 21, 2016

it's my birthday so i'll buy if i want to

Alternate title: New Wheels Part II !!!!

my dearly beloved 2014 calico, on a chilly dewy dawn - our last early morning together!
we shared 8,000 miles of memories <3
And. Technically my birthday was last week. But the thing about buying myself presents as an adult is that it's less about the day itself, and more about the payoff (which may or may not be as prompt as we might wish lol).

introducing: the new 2017 Cotner Ultra, hereby dubbed SS Shiny Bench by Carly
This has already been a big year for self-gifting. Obviously I bought a horse. Kiiiiinda a big deal lol. Naturally, the horse now needs his own appropriately-sized chariot.This might not be news to anyone beyond me, but it turns out that buying a trailer is almost as much of a pain in the ass as saddle shopping.

she looks good from behind
I had a lot of false starts and disappointments, and some grandiose plans that crashed back down to earth. Luckily tho, with the help of friends (like Brita - who uncovered promising leads, including the dealership from which I ultimately bought; and Allison - who selflessly volunteered to serve as my agent to look at and potentially buy a different trailer {that ultimately sold before we got there, rats}), I finally found the one.

oh! the junk i will fit in this trunk!!
My wish list for a trailer turned out to be quite simple, if not the most popular. Two horse bumper pull with ramp. Extra tall with extra nose space (no dressing room) and two escape doors.

looking to the front and back from outside the escape door. the pictures on the dealership website didn't do the amount of space in there justice, so maybe these are better? 
This 2017 Cotner Ultra adds a few extras to the deal: Running boards along the escape doors so yours truly might avoid wrecking herself (again) via careless trailer exit. Extra wide escape doors. And custom built-in wooden trunk in the nose.

bc there's a LOT of space up in the nose! and that bench is substantial enough that if i sit allll the way on it, my feet don't touch the ground. yas!!
If I were being picky, I would wish for more windows - especially near the horse's head and on the rear curtains. The dealership installed a few extra bridle hooks inside for me, bringing the grand total up to 4. And they're the nice bridle hooks with the rounded top and hook below. But I'm still thinking we might need more hooks in there haha (always needs moar hooks!).

definitely a different look from the calico stock trailer!
But I'm not that picky, and this thing checks off all the right boxes for me. Yay for a Charlie-sized new bus!! Happy birthday to me!!

i appreciate this picture bc the composition reminds me of my beloved barn door vista shots!!
But what happened to the Calico, you may be asking. Well. Part of the reason I wanted to buy from a dealership was so that I could a) finance, and b) trade in the Calico.

he's got so much space up front for that giant head and neck!!
So after confirming all the details with this dealership (Pine Hill Trailers in Gordonville, PA, see below for more details**), I hauled my Calico up there with the anticipation of leaving it with them and bringing the Cotner home. Except... something else entirely happened. Something that makes my sentimental sappy self get a little misty eyed.

plus plenty of head room!!
Some gentlemen happened by while I was clearing equipment out of the trailer in anticipation of handing it over to Pine Hill. And they began asking questions, taking a look around, kicking the tires, lifting the mats, etc etc. Turns out, the one has a young teenage daughter who keeps horses at home but hauls out for weekly lessons (sound familiar?), and they were looking to upgrade their ancient even-smaller-than-mine trailer.

and he doesn't dwarf it by standing next to it!!!! yas!!!!
So he actually up and bought the thing directly from me, right then and there. Plus his wife and daughter drove over to check it out too, and the daughter was so sweet. Showed me all these pics and videos of her and her mare doing their h/j thang, and it just made me so happy to think that the trailer that transformed my own horse hobby was going to the kind of home that will continue to love and appreciate (and USE!) it!!

Heartwarming, y'all <3


Anyway, for anyone else out there who may be trailer shopping, here are the details on the dealers I worked with throughout this process:

Pine Hill Trailers (Gordonville, PA): I had such an incredibly positive experience with these guys, from start to finish. Over the course of the preceding week we handled all the details and paperwork and whatnot via email, phone, and fax so that when I showed up over the weekend, all I had to do was inspect the trailer then sign on the dotted line. And poof! we were all done!!

Plus, once I was actually physically present at the dealership, I had an even better impression of them. It's a fairly large operation, with all types of trailers (horse trailers being just a fraction of their business, as they're located in the heart of Amish and agricultural PA), but everyone there from the service bay to the finance department was friendly, polite and knowledgeable. Highly recommend this dealership!!!

Traveled Lane Trailers (Centreville, MD): I met these guys at Fair Hill International a few weeks ago and absolutely fell in love with one of their side ramp trailers. Alas it was a bit beyond my budget, and the other model they stock that met my criteria had an 8-10 week lead time. Too long for my impatient self.

That said, tho, I was REALLY sorry not to be buying from this dealership. The staff was beyond friendly and helpful - both when I met them in person at Fair Hill, and in our many (MANY) follow up phone conversations and emails. They talked me all through the Calico valuation and trade in process, how to handle registrations, and even how to evaluate privately owned trailers I might come across.

And they just straight up offer some very nice trailers at very good prices. Again, I was sorry to ultimately not do business with them bc I had such a good feeling about them. They'll definitely stay on my radar for any future trailer needs tho!

Kingdom Trailers (Forest Hill, MD): I bought my Calico from these guys originally and couldn't be happier with that experience. Alas they didn't have much in stock that met my criteria this go round, but I couldn't leave them off the list bc of how well they've treated me in the past.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

new wheels!!!! (part i)

True story: for my 21st birthday, I sincerely requested from my mother a gift of a vacuum cleaner for my tiny studio apartment. Party hard, y'all.

...... So. Yea. I have been accused by my family and friends of being somewhat aggressively practical. And here we are, ten years later and my birthday wishes are still trending in the direction of some overly utilitarian be-wheeled tool.

so shiny and new!!
And when some presents last week arrived in the form of Amazon gift cards, I knew what to do with them haha. Sure, my loved ones maybe sighed deeply and rolled their eyes when I told them how their birthday cash would be used... but whatever.

spoiler alert: the cart arrives in a box. not pre-assembled, as one might have incorrectly assumed
This muck cart (the Miller CA500, thankyouverymuch) has languished on my wishlist for ages, but somehow always felt too indulgent, too frivolous to purchase myself. I could never quite justify the cost... but it seemed like the perfect use for gift carts!

Isn't that how birthday money is supposed to work?!? lol....

it's a WHEEL y'all!
Call me simple if you like, but it kinda caught me by surprise tho when this thing arrived in a decidedly smaller box than I expected. Bc, uh, apparently there's some assembly required. Oops lol.

I mean, in retrospect, it's kinda obvious that... yea, the cart ships a lot more economically and efficiently disassembled into parts that fit into a smaller space... It had just never occurred to me!

shiny cheap tools!
It's cool tho. Putting it together was more or less quite straightforward - they even include cheapo tools in the box, and there are only a few small pieces of hardware like screws and washers and such.

taking shape!
Aside from some confusion about where to fit which screws, and some jobs that required slightly longer arms than I have (think: attaching the wheels and tightening their screws), it honestly didn't take very long.

putting on the wheels!
So now I finally have my own muck cart! Perfect timing too since the new barn apparently doesn't seem to have wheelbarrows anyway haha, and it's a long walk to the manure pit from where I park my trailer.

ta da!!
So yea. Maybe not the most exciting birthday present ever (stay tuned for part ii for that, coming tomorrow), but it brings me an odd sense of glee lol.

Idk. Do you normally ask for horse-related stuff for your birthday? Or just cash? Is your list full of big-ticket items that you maybe wouldn't or couldn't get yourself? Or is it the plain practical stuff that may be boring but will definitely be put to good use? Or some of both?