Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Frugal Foxhunter is live!


The Frugal Foxhunter

While of course all writers (me included) love the ego boost that comes from high pageviews, this new blog is going to be pretty low-key. No blog hops, no contests, etc. But there are not a lot of foxhunting blogs out there so I hope you'll enjoy!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

New blog!

Hey everyone (all two of you crickets),

I'm still here, still riding, and now having exciting adventures foxhunting with Potomac Hunt and watching Byron learn to ride.

Unfortunately the lease with Polly ended and I was sad about it so didn't feel like posting for a while. Plus I've WAY ramped up the number of articles I do for Horse Nation...and on top of that, the Collegial Equestrian moniker just doesn't quite seem to fit anymore--it's always felt a little stuffy, but especially so since I'm not in college anymore and I'm not really posting much about community/collegial topics. However, I DO want to keep a hunt journal so I can track my progress and look back on it one day.

What's your favorite potential blog name?

The Frugal Foxhunter: Alliteration, and true. Hunting has a reputation of being a rich man's sport but I have no horse, no trailer, and limited funds. It can be done!
The Liberal Foxhunter: Many hunt people are conservative politically. I am not...and I also hope to foxhunt "liberally" as in "a lot." Though writing about politics isn't really my thing, it might be interesting to write sometimes on how one walks the line of loving animals yet having no problem hunting cute little foxies. I have yet to really figure out how to explain this to most of my non-horsey friends.
Hunt Monitor: The Hunt Monitor is a phone hotline you call for weather cancellations and other last-minute changes. Kind of a boring name but the blog will sort of "monitor" my progress.
Grab Mane, Kick On: Many other things are changing (positively) in my life and this encompasses everything. And it feels pretty evergreen too.

Vote here! And if you've got any other suggestions, feel free to share in the comments.
What should I name the new blog? free polls

Saturday, May 3, 2014


So I am alive! I've been riding a lot, with lots of trails on weekends. I've also been writing and working and trying on wedding dresses and interviewing photographers and florists...hence little time for blogging.

In any case...this weekend was supposed to  be my first hunter pace, which unfortunately was canceled due to the wet ground. Bummer :( Hopefully we will get to go off the farm and do something soon!

But I wasn't too  bummed because we have a new baby on the farm as of 12:50 a.m. this morning!!! He is a TB colt, bred by a friend of the farm who is a racehorse trainer at Charlestown, WV.
Interestingly, the owner of the farm (who foaled him last night) thinks he will mature to be gray with black points rather than bay like he is now.

Sort of hard to see but he has eye "makeup" and adorably fuzzy ears!!!
Meeting Sally the old Jack Russell

Everything is fascinating on Day 1

Well, it's OK if we snuggle.


AND more exciting news...Byron's first riding lesson is tomorrow. Should at least be entertaining because he bought this insect-like monstrosity to put on his head:
Uvex Perfexxion

He thinks it looks like a skateboard helmet. Sigh...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Polly Pictures! Plus, Foxhunting Attire Haul.

Had a friend come out to the barn this weekend to meet Polly and I finally have PICTURES!
Pretty girl got to show off her stuff!
 We did a little bit of everything--started off with our routine of walk-trot transitions and cantering in the ring (slowly but steadily improving there with promptness and balance), and then we headed through the creek to the XC field where we played with some of the lower logs.

Nice push there Pollywog!

It was only our second time jumping in the XC field, and these jumps were new to me, so I led Polly up to them for a good sniff.

She said, "What, do you think I'm stupid? I know what to do with logs!" Took me by surprise so I just flung my hands forward not-so-gracefully, but my friend and I were cracking up!

And we got a little video of  jumping the logs the other way.

The pictures revealed that I am pinching with my knee at some times and getting into a chair seat at others. I'm going to have to work on that!

I've also been slowly picking up hunting clothes...some used/on sale, some not...

For my birthday a few weeks ago, Byron won fiancé of the year (again) for buying me a brand new Melton at the Tack Box in Middleburg (despite my protests to get one used)! It is very warm, like a peacoat, but not as heavy as I expected it to be. I cannot WAIT to wear it this winter!

Foxy buttons
And even though I already have a navy show coat, that isn't quite proper for cubbing. I doubt anyone would care since I am new to the sport, but I did feel a little out of place when I went hilltopping and everyone else was in their beautiful earth tone tweeds and I looked like I was doing a hunter-under-saddle class. So...I caved to my weakness...Facebook tack trader groups. I found a jacket for $50 and a patterned stock tie for $10!

The stock just arrived today, and now that I see it with my jacket, I'm not 100% loving the combination. I think blue might go better with a gray jacket, so I may just make my own stock with more of a green-tone fabric.

Aaaand that's not it. The tack shop closest to me is on my way to the barn. Can we say temptation? So on my way back home this Sunday I saw  they were having a tent sale...and picked up a NEW canary vest (normally $160) for $60. I'm just telling myself that I haven't taken lessons regularly for months...this is just making up for it cost-wise. Right?

Byron was giving me prompts for modeling. This is my response to "Foxhunt for me baby!"

And, I may be able to actually use the informal coat for a hunter pace in a few weeks! It's kind of unnerving me that you have to register for hunter paces the day of, since I have to rely on others for transportation and I'm semi-worried that something might happen where they wouldn't want to go. Crossing my fingers that I will get to wear all these new things sooner rather than later! (Well, except the Melton.)

In the meantime...I do NOT need new breeches, I do NOT need new breeches...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

First lesson

OK, so our first lesson together was actually LAST weekend, but various projects have meant I wasn't able to write it up until now.

Are you SURE that was the last carrot?
So the instructor at this barn is the daughter of the owner (who also teaches lessons, and helped bring another boarder I've been hacking out with to First Level dressage scores in the 70s...not too shabby!). The daughter is a Pony Club graduate (not so long ago, since I think she is about my age) who has gone Prelim eventing, and she also foxhunts and plays polo (her polo pony is Guacamole/Guacapony if you remember from Byron's interpretation). I told her I was basically looking for help getting Polly fit over the summer and getting her to actually canter in the arena, and I was pleased that in the lesson we mostly worked on stuff I'd already been working on--lots of walk-trot transitions to get her in front of my leg. We also worked on attempting to bend in the corners, with only moderate success (remember, Polly is a draft X who hasn't been asked to do anything but trail ride and hunt in her entire 9-year-old life). At least Polly is very willing about trying to find the right answer.

So the big challenge for Polly is picking up the canter inside the arena (as opposed to just going into a giant carthorse trot). This is something I've encountered a LOT from my days volunteering and teaching at Gentle Giant Draft Horse Rescue--when a big horse is unbalanced and out of shape, they want to run into their gaits rather than picking them up promptly, and since they are so big, by the time they've got their groove going, then there's a corner and it all sort of falls apart.

Prior to the lesson, I had gotten to the point where I could get a canter transition in a corner, and maybe a step or two of canter before we would get disorganized and fall into a trot. That was OK with me, since apparently she just didn't canter inside before that! But in the lesson, the instructor recommended sitting on my outside seat bone when I asked for the canter--something I wouldn't have figured out on my own. Presto--after all that walk-trot work, we got a prompt transition, and we got maybe 5 or 6 strides of canter on the long side!

I like to think of her as a tall pony.
Steering, not so much--so I brought her back to a trot before we careened out of the open end of the arena. That will come later. This week I did try cantering down (most of) the long side, trotting the short side, and then picking up the canter again on the long side. That seemed like a good exercise to keep practicing.

And I imagine transitions outside in the big gallop field would be good too since she would be a little more naturally forward...if it would stop snowing/raining/sleeting! Seriously, what the heck! But other than far, the first month with Polly has been a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to both of us getting super-fit this summer.

She's too big to get all of her in a wash stall shot! It will be interesting to compare photos each month.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Non-riding significant others say the darndest things...

Ok, so this is a topic I've already covered in a meme-tastic post for Horse Nation a couple months ago...but Byron just keeps supplying me with excellent new material. (Though of course, he would never say something boorish like "the horse does all the work." He is better trained than that.)

Me: I just met a polo pony named Guacamole today. Isn't that the best name ever?
Byron: Would've been better if it was named Guacapony.

Me: The lady I trail rode with today had these awesome rubber boots. Not like the cheapy ones I have--they looked like real dress boots, but you could wash them off with a hose.
Byron: So why don't you buy them?
Me: Because then I would have to admit to myself that I'm a secret tack ho.
Byron: Oh sweetie. You are undoubtedly a tack ho. And what's worse, you hate spending money, so you're like a $5 tack ho.
Me: :( I know...

Not that kind of tack ho (via)
Clerk in tack shop: So do you ride too?
Byron: Not first lessons are in May.
Clerk in tack shop: How great!
Byron: Yeah, you'll see me in the next Olympics. (signs receipt) You should probably save that autograph.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Draft Horse Heresy

Our first "real" trail ride yesterday (as in, actually on a trail and not just around the farm) was frankly...disappointing. But the good news is that I was able to figure Polly out a little more which made our second trail ride today AWESOME.

Yesterday I went out with Polly's owner and another boarder, both also on draft crosses (much smaller than Polly though!). We walked, trotted, cantered, jumped--but Polly was stronger than I expected, and was ignoring my half-halts and attempts to create some space in between her and the horse in front of her. Steering? Not so much.

Polly's owner told me to just get after her when she wasn't listening--stronger half halts, booting her to move off my leg, etc.--and for last quarter or so of the ride I had a lot more control, which was good.

So for today's ride, rather than meandering around for the walk warmup, I insisted that Polly stay straight and march on. We also did a few 20m circles in the arena before we went out, and I think that helped to set the level of responsiveness for the whole ride. And it also helped that I had some idea where we were going since we went on the same trails. Mostly trot today, but we did have a little bit of canter after we hopped over some logs! Tearing around the woods is my new favorite thing! I'm hoping I might be able to borrow a GoPro camera from my dad or Byron's dad to record our adventures.

She roots at the bit a fair amount, which is annoying but I just bridged my reins and let her do whatever she was going to do with her head. My upper back is going to be REALLY strong from riding her!

Yesterday was also a spa day for Polly. Like many drafts, she has issues with scratches on her white feet, and the feathers do not help with keeping her skin free of mud and moisture. So I bought myself some Andis 2-speed clippers as a belated birthday present to myself, and committed draft horse heresy. The feathers are no more.



It took me a while to figure out how to make it look neat, but she was an angel for clipping and practically fell asleep. Aesthetically I think she looks much better with feathers, but it's impossible to find where the scratches are with all that hair. With spring rain and mud ahead, I'd rather get a jump on it before it gets too bad.

Poor girl. I don't think anyone was really managing her skin so her pasterns are like...lumpy. It's really weird. But I'm cleaning with Betadine, drying, then rubbing on Desitin to keep the moisture out of her lumps and bumps.

In other news, it is currently snowing in MD and it's the middle of March. WHY?