Riding Lessons and the Tense Rider

Riding Lessons and the Tense Rider

“You’ve been riding all your life. Why do you still need riding lessons?” My non-riding friends ask me this on a regular basis. The answer is complicated. For most of my life, I’ve been surrounded by talented riders and amazing horses, so my bar for what’s ‘good enough’ is set fairly high. I’ve been realistic enough to know that I’m not talented. What I do have going for me, though, is perseverance. When my heart is set on something, I…

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‘Twas the night before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the barn The horses were napping, all cozy and warm. The aisles had been swept, the riders gone home To family and loved ones, and eggnog with rum. Curled in her hay nest, the cat softly purred, Then woke with a start, for a sound could be heard. Out in the dark night, louder it swelled, A jingling and tinkling, the music of bells. Then there were hoofbeats, up near the stars….

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Horsefeathers: Tips about Rider Ownership

Horsefeathers: Tips about Rider Ownership

The following piece was written by my first horse, Lancer, when he was eighteen years old. At that point he’d owned three riders during his career, and felt well-positioned to give other horses a few tips about rider ownership. The Selection, Care and Training of the New Rider – by Lancer Spilsbury When you’re shopping for a rider, remember there will be a lot more females to choose from than males. (No one knows why.) The good part is, female…

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Horse Lover and her Dogs

Horse Lover and her Dogs

It seems that most horse lovers have a dog. Or dogs. I do. The first dog to shadow my footsteps at the barn was a Cairn Terrier called Robbie. Weighing in at eighteen pounds with a raggedy grey-black coat and a jaunty swagger, Robbie was Mr. Congeniality. He was such a charmer that no one at the barn minded lending a hand to keep him on a sit-stay while I was fetching Lancer’s saddle from the tack room. While I…

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Larry’s middle story: kissing spine and neck arthritis

Larry’s middle story: kissing spine and neck arthritis

If you read my very first post, Life with Horses, you’ll remember that Larry made a trip to the Ontario Veterinary College in August. My vet had recently taken radiographs (X-rays) that showed that Larry had kissing spine in a couple of spots, as well as arthritic changes in his neck. We decided to send him to the OVC for a more thorough neurological workup. At the time, it seemed like the whole world knew about kissing spine except me….

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Horse Lover vs. the Weather

Horse Lover vs. the Weather

Part of the ‘Horse Lover’ job description is a willingness to pit oneself against the weather. The familiar saying, “Neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night…” should finish with the words, “will keep a rider from reaching her horse.” Horse lovers drive through all kinds of weather to get to the barn. In the battle of Horse Lover vs. Weather, Horse Lover rarely gives in. Take the other day, for instance. Two days before, it had snowed and temperatures had…

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How fast can an ex-racehorse run?

How fast can an ex-racehorse run?

How fast can an ex-racehorse run? Answering this question was never on my bucket list. When I bought Larry, my off-the-track Thoroughbred, the ‘off-the-track’ part – the fact that he was an ex-racehorse – never really registered. After all, he hadn’t been a racehorse for many years. He was a riding horse now, and he was going to be the perfect horse for a sedate, not very brave rider. Upon buying a new horse, there’s always an adjustment period –…

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Horse blanketing: what should Larry wear?

Horse blanketing: what should Larry wear?

It’s that time of year when the weather is always changing. Warm to cold, wet to muddy, rain to snow. The horse blanketing question surfaces. How should Larry be dressed for turnout? Does he need his thin stable sheet with a rain sheet over top? Or his heavier stable sheet with an insulated turnout blanket over top? It’s the eternal horse blanketing question: what should Larry wear as the weather gets colder? The other day it was half-raining, half-snowing, and…

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Larry’s Dream: his Back Story

Larry’s Dream: his Back Story

I’m sure you’ve seen the bumper sticker that reads, ‘My treasure is in the barn’. I want to introduce you to my treasure, an off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) named Larry’s Dream. Larry is 13 years old. He was bred to be a race horse. His sire was D’wildcat and his dam, Tangled Dreams. Further back in his pedigree, I recognize several famous names. Five generations back: Northern Dancer. I’ve heard that nowadays, it’s hard to find a Thoroughbred race horse that…

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