Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"You're so weird!"

So, Sunday was Tucker's debut showing at 3 foot. He was a superstar!

He has been to the show grounds where we were a lot, so he was non-plussed by the whole adventure right from the minute I unloaded him. We went for a little spin, and I actually had to pick up a longe whip (not that I had to actually use it, because he's such a giant chicken that just the idea that I had a weapon made him suspicious that I might at any minute develop a split personality and bludgeon him within an inch of his life). Then he got to chill on the trailer while I cheered on a friend in her come-back of the year. . . she and her horse have both fully (thankfully) recovered from some not-too-pleasant injuries and are back in the ring looking better than ever. So being her cheering squad was great! Plus, I got to walk the jumper course with her and Alicia, which was fun. I don't exactly do that too often over in hunterland.

Then I got on and hacked Tucker around while Alicia schooled the other young horse she was showing, and he was very relaxed, I'd say even half-asleep, just like we like him at horse shows. Alicia got on and schooled him and he was terrific. His mother, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. I was chewing the finger of my glove, my heart was racing, and I was getting some pretty odd looks from the trainers schooling their riders standing beside me. I've realized that I'm a little nuts. What did I think was going to happen to him? The boy isn't made of glass. And he's so big and scopey and athletic that 3' is a piece of cake for him. But I'm his mom, and he's my baby, and I worry. I actually said to Alicia, as I walked him up to the schooling ring, "Are you sure these aren't too big for him?" She just laughed.

He showed pretty brilliantly. He is still obviously green, and gets a little distracted between fences, but he's just got the best jump ever (just like his daddy!). His knees actually hit his throat latch a few times. He did have a major baby moment. I'm not sure whether he got distracted because he saw me standing there or if he was just spacing out and forgot where he was, but he pretty much ran himself into the rail after the first fence in the first class. He looked totally stunned. Like when you're reading while walking and walk into a pole. (I might have done that once or twice. And don't pretend you haven't. . . .) It was very Kramer of him.

Later on back at the barn, we all had a good laugh over the fact that he was probably stunned because his rider did not throw herself between him and the fence to prevent any possible injury to him! There was a lot of good-natured teasing about how neurotic and worried I get about him. I am starting to realize that I am totally one of those crazy over-protective mothers! I have to learn to put it aside though, because it clearly effects my riding. It's difficult to concentrate on my job when I'm thinking things like "I hope this isn't too much for him," and "I hope he's not too worried." I should just trust in his athleticism and courage and stop being such a worry-wort. My fellow rider (the one who made her fantastic come-back on Sunday), made a great observation: "You are so weird! You're a lovely rider, he's a wonderful horse, you're both perfectly capable, what are you so worried about?" Once I caught my breath and recovered from laughter and her brutal (and spot-on) honesty, I realized she's got a great point. I need to just get over it!

It's tough though. He's such an amazing animal, and I feel so blessed to call him my own, that I worry about not doing right by him -- or even worse -- ruining him. But, I need to remember that he is a lot more resilient than I think, and if I don't make a big deal out of things, neither will he. Sort of like when he sees something that might be scary on a trail ride through the woods, and I just pat him and tell him he's okay. He will, without fail, take a deep breath and walk toward whatever he thinks is lurking in the bushes, so long as mom says it's okay. Which should tell me that if I don't worry about it, neither will he; but if I do worry about it (the distance, the strides, the lead change, whatever), he is taking his cues from me and will think there's something to be scared of.

Bottom line is that he's 100% capable of doing his job, and beautifully, at that. So I need to trust him more, and stop being so over-protective. And if it's not perfect, well then I need to just shrug it off and tell him (by staying relaxed) that it's no big deal.

Easier said than done, but it never hurts to set goals!

Monday, June 29, 2009

My first award! (I feel so special!)

This must be some kind of right-of-passage into the equine blog community. I received my first award! Kate over at A Year with Horses has given us the Honest Scrap award, awarded to blogs that speak honestly, from the heart. My reaction should give you a little honest insight to my personality: first, I beamed with pride (complete with mental image of me atop an Olympic-style podium receiving a gold medal for honesty in blogging); second, I panicked, over how one copies and pastes the image of the award into one's blog; third, I worried that I don't know ten other blogs upon which to bestow an award and I might be viewed as ungrateful. (*NB: remember how I said I had raised an over-acheiver Dutch Warmblood because I am one? This is what I'm talking about.)

So, here are the blogs upon which I'd like to bestow the award (in positively no particular order):

See, I do know ten blogs that speak from the heart! And as you can see from the image above, posting the award wasn't so hard either!

And now, in accordance with the rules (I am a rule follower, suprise, surprise), here are ten things about me that you didn't know. I'm going to do my best to make them non-horse-related, since at some point or another, the readers of this blog will likely know everything horse-related about me.

1. I love Jane Austen novels. I have read each of her big four at least twice each. (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma).
2. I can't cook, at all, but I was told just yesterday by one of my favorite fellow riders that I have a "fine hand" with a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich.
3. I subscribe to the Wine Spectator, though I know next-to-nothing about wine. I'm learning, slowly, and I really enjoy the magazine.
4. I have no sense of direction. I could get lost in my own driveway. Tucker has perfected the art of keeping his balance during U-turns.
5. I have lived in the South of France and South Australia for extended periods of time. Both were amazing.

6. I set up one of my best friends and my brother about 5 years ago. It was a very casual first date, a Yankees/Red Sox game. They are now married and expecting their first baby! (Who, on his or her 6th birthday, will be getting a pony from Aunt Marissa. And hopefully will be showing Tucker in the leadline division in about five years).

7. I have a cat and a turtle. Both were rescues. The turtle doesn't particularly care for my grooming (scrubbing his shell with peroxide and a tooth brush) but the cat -- a former stray who lived in the middle of a big field at Tucker's baby farm -- has taken so well to being a pampered indoor cat that she will stand near the drawer containing her grooming supplies and cry to be brushed, and will even stand quietly under running water for her bath. Yes, really.

8. I have never eaten an egg. Unless you count french toast. They kind of gross me out.
9. I LOVE a good yard sale. This drives my boyfriend nuts, as I cannot walk or drive past one without stopping. Though I rarely buy anything, I always feel compelled to look. I just love poking around at other people's unwanted stuff.
10. I think the Daily Show with Jon Stewart is the funniest show on television. I watch it every night before bed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

International Hunter Derby

I have to say that I am just dying to see a Hunter Derby class. I was so excited when the class was first announced in 2007. This month's In Stride, the magazine published by the United States Hunter Jumper Association ("USHJA") has several articles about the class and I read it cover-to-cover on the plane to Colorado.

It's no secret that I've always loved the hunters. I could sit and watch the professionals do the greens all day long. A beautiful hunter round just never gets old. But the Hunter Derby is a step above the rest. Not only do the classes add a sense of drama to the hunter ring that we don't necessarily always see, but they have this romantic mystique about them too, since they're aimed at "returning to the style and substance of the older hunter courses." (See Jeannie Blancq Putney, "Not Your Basic Hunter Course," In Stride, Vol. 4, Issue 3, p. 28-31). The horses are judged on their jumping style and the "brilliance of the round." (Id. at p. 31).

I love how the riders talk about the courses, and their horses' reactions to the courses, in this month's In Stride. Patrick Rodes says it's "like nothing [he's] ever seen," and John French says about the horse he shows in the Derby, Rumba: "It was such a great feeling to ride him over that course. He was so interested in the jumps and his ears were pricked." Jenny Karazissis says, "Aragon fears nothing." I love how these riders are excited by the fact that the courses are difficult and the jumps are a little spooky, and I love that the horses are rising to the occasion. It just seems like so much fun.

I'm nowhere in the same league as the riders who do these classes, and I'll probably never have the finances to campaign a horse but I would just love to have Alicia show Tucker (or maybe Julie!) in one some day. I don't know if Tucker's fancy enough, but he's definitely brave and he's definitely handy. He'd have no problem walking a jump or opening a gate. He could also help flip the lights on in the indoor, reach your water bottle, pet a kitten, stop a loose horse, and carry your jacket, if any of those challenges ever came up in the handy round. . . .

Hopefully, these videos will give you an idea of what I mean. Doesn't it just look amazing? I can't identify this rider/horse (apologies for my ignorance) in the first video, but I thought this course was just beautiful. It's at Wrenwood Farms in Naples FL:

Here's Jenny Karazissis with Aragon at Thermal:

And here is a beautiful winning round by Samantha Schaefer under the lights at Devon:

I love everything about this class. I love the concept, the challenge, the allure, the tradition. It's no wonder that huge crowds gather every time a class is held. Has anyone seen a class? I would love to hear about it.

Fyi, Regarding horses also has a post on the Hunter Derby, with some more great video footage.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tapping the rockies (maybe)...

So I'm currently sitting in the airport waiting for a flight that is seriously delayed. They've just informed us that our plane is currently sitting on a runway in Chicago. Not really what we wanted to hear, since we're, oh about two and a half hours away from Chicago by plane. I found out recently that I'll be travelling back and forth to Denver throughout this summer. We have a big case out there, and things are starting to heat up.

While I'm sure Denver is lovely this time of year, I can't tell you how bummed I am to be travelling. Summer is supposed to be the time when I am riding my horse every night and going to horse shows on the weekend and instead I'll be sitting in airports or in a law office in Denver combing through boxes of documents. I'm not even sure if we'll make it to HITS.

Now, I know in this economy I should just be thankful that I still have a job, and I should probably shut up before Karma gets me fired, but being pulled away from Tucker for weeks at a time just seems like torture. What was that I was saying last week about a Horse/Life balance? Forget it. I don't want to balance anything! All horse, all the time, thank you very much.

Apartment update: I may have found an apartment on a horse farm, where Julie and I might be able to move to! The rent is a little less than what I pay now, and the board would also be less. I know I recently said the dressage farm is a great place for her right now, and it truly is. But how great would it be to have my little darling in my backyard?

If the apartment is at all decent, I feel like I might just have to take it. I just feel like Julie and I haven't developed the closeness I have with Tucker yet, and I would so love the opportunity to get to bond with her. At first, I spent hours with her at night during the first two weeks she was born.

Here she is sleeping in my lap at about ten days old (too cute for words I think). Sorry, I know the pics are kind of blurry -- but I took them myself and was trying not to disturb her! Since then, for a variety of reasons I've had to move her around to a few different barns, none of which were close enough for me to just stop by. So hopefully this apartment will work out. . . although I'd say she's a little too big to be my lap dog these days. :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I should have named him Kramer...

Tucker never ceases to crack me up. When I got to the farm today, the girls told me that moments before I arrived, he had been kneeling down with his head and neck sideways under the fence and his butt up in the air grazing around the perimeter of his paddock. What a goof ball. I've seen him do this before, it looks totally uncomfortable. Yet it's completely consistent with his personality. Number one, he thinks he's roughly the size of a jack russell; two, he's clever enough to problem-solve about how to get the grass on the other side of the fence; and three, he does ridiculous, hilarious stuff like that all the time.

One of the things I love about Sundays is bran mash for dinner. It smells like someone is baking oatmeal cookies, and the horses love it. I just love the sounds of contented slurping you hear all along the barn aisle. As I went to leave tonight Tucker stuck his head over the top of his door to say goodbye/see whether I had anything for him. He has bran mash in his ears, on his eyes, up his nose, down the front of one leg, and his forelock is sticking straight up like a mohawk, completely coated in bran mash. And because he was quasi-begging for treats, he had this really goofy look on his face. I swear, it was like seeing my future child looking up at me from a high-chair with spaghetti all over his face. I burst out laughing, and said "I should have named you Kramer."

See, when Tucker was a weanling, I was working at a farm in CT, grooming and teaching little kid up-down lessons. Tucker lived in the school horse barn, and had a paddock that led right into his stall. Being the mama's boy type, when he'd hear the sound of my voice bringing a lesson pony back into the barn from a lesson, he'd come flying into his stall and come to a sort of sliding stop with his head straight up in the air. One day one of the moms laughed at him and said "He looks just like Kramer bursting into Jerry's apartment!" Given that he was even more of a goof as a gangly, awkward weanling/yearling, the nickname quickly caught on.

I seriously considered making his show name "Kramer" but I thought. . . I can't give a goofy horse a goofy name. I should give him a classic name, a name to live up to. It was right after college, so I was totally broke. I couldn't afford cable, but my brother did give me a VCR, so I watched movies. Given that I was totally broke, I had a limited movie collection, most of which I bought at garage sales. I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's A LOT. Several times a week, in fact. So, I settled on Moon River for Tucker's show name. Not the most original, but at the time it had a lot of meaning. We were, after all, two drifters off to see the world. And Tucker is definitely a "Huckleberry friend." I wouldn't mind floating on a hand-made barge down the Mississippi River with him. In fact, but for the weight issue, he'd probably be my first choice in travel companion.

I am now struggling with naming Miss Julie. She's named after Julie Andrews, because I love The Sound of Music. I have considered naming her "Rainedrops on Roses," because her dad's name is Rainedance and her mom's show name is Rosewood. Her mom's barn name is Secret, which is also really pretty, but hasn't given me any ideas. I think Rainedrops on Roses might be a little to cutesie for an Adult Hunter though. It sounds more like a pony name.

Anyone have any good ideas? Stacey over at Behind the Bit made some good suggestions (see her post on show names), including Rained Out. I would love to hear your ideas. I wouldn't mind something related to her color, as long as it's not too typical (no Domino, no Oreo, no Black Tie, etc.). I thought "Chess" was kind of nice, but it doesn't seem feminine enough for her. She is definitely a girlie-girl. Here are a couple more pictures of her from last summer, in case that might inspire someone. The first one is her and her mom, a photo that I love.

So there's a few head shots of my little girl. Anyone got any great show names stirring around in their heads just waiting for the right horse?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rained out

Well... I had big plans to meet Alicia at the Horse Park where she is showing with a few other students and have a lesson during the break in her day, but sadly they are predicting severe thunderstorms. So, looks like it'll be just another boring day at the farm. But we are going to try again tomorrow. I really hope the storms don't keep us away from the Grand Prix Dressage Freestyles this afternoon.

I did have an amazing ride last night. One of those rides where he was swinging through his shoulder, relaxed through his back, reaching under himself, accepting my seat and leg and light as a feather in my hand. It was one of those days that had been gray and cloudy all day and then the sun came out around 5 pm, which made for perfect riding weather. We took a walk down the driveway, met the new kittens (which Tucker was really happy about), and rode in the big outdoor ring. The footing was a little soggy in one end because of all the rain this week, but we used the top 2/3 of the ring and had just a great ride. Nights like those make me realize how lucky I am to have a horse that is so thoroughly enjoyable to ride. He is an absolute pleasure.

Since this post isn't that exciting, I'll give you some pictures so you know there's no sarcasm when I say Tucker was excited about the new kittens. He LOVES cats. LOVES 'em. He's thinking about being one for Halloween this year. Hoping I'll get him one for his birthday. Small dogs are pretty cool too, but cats really make him happy. I love watching him attempt to desensitize cats to his presence until they will eventually allow him to snuggle with them. It's so endearing.

Probably more so than anything I could tell you, these pictures really show you what kind of a horse Tucker is.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Horse/Life balance

So, as a junior associate at a big law firm, there's a lot of talk about having a good "work/life balance." Basically, a lot of us struggle with meeting our obligations to the firm while still managing to maintain some sort of a social or family life. For most of the people I work with, the central theme is spending enough time with your kids and family. I feel like I've managed to find the work/life balance because, as long as Tucker gets ridden 4-5 times a week, I'm not working too much.

I've been wondering lately, though, whether there needs to be a Horse/Life balance? I know the readers of this blog can relate to this situation. Going to the farm is my night-time activity and takes up pretty much all my weekend time. Instead of a vacation, I'm planning on taking Tucker to HITS this summer. (Where we may, or may not, be doing the 3' adult hunters. Depending on whether that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about jumping 3' is still here at the end of July. For those keeping track, it's still here.) And, of course, as OntheBit pointed out a few months ago in one of my favorite of her prior posts, I am horse poor. I don't buy new shoes for myself, yet I spend over $200 on shoes every month. That's like a riddle that only a fellow horse owner could solve.

Pretty much everyone I know has gotten used to me being at least an hour late for everything because I "took longer at the barn than I planned." And I know that the unequestrians in my life think I'm Crazy (with a capital C) because of what I spend on the kids -- and they're only basing that on what I spend on board! They don't even factor in the vet bills, farrier bills, training costs, trips to Dover and Bevals, supplements. . . you get the idea. And I've gotten used to my boyfriend explaining to people, as a means of summing up my horse obsession: "Her horse has a chiropractor." I know everyone reading this has seen the shocked looks that follow that statement.

Confessional: I do spend almost half my paycheck on my horses. Sometimes more, let's be honest. And more often than not, I don't get to all the things I was supposed to do on the weekend (laundry, cleaning out that closet, grocery shopping, paying bills) because I was having a really interesting conversation with one of my fellow riders about her horse's right lead canter, or watching a video of someone's round at the last horse show, or taking Tucker for a nice long walk after our ride, or reorganizing my trunk, or. . . again, you get the idea.

But how much is too much? Is it crazy that I pay twice as much for board as I do for rent? Is it unreasonable to cancel plans with friends because I have a horse show the next day? If I didn't spend my nights and weekends at the barn, what would I do? Watch tv? Go the the gym? Go to the mall? Go to the beach? What do unequestrians do with their time?

This is a concept I've been wondering about ever since I spent a weekend at the shore with my boyfriend's family earlier this summer. It was a really nice, relaxing, horse-free weekend. And I said to my boyfriend's mom, "It's so nice to have a weekend free to just do nothing. Usually I'm so busy with . . ." At this point my voice trailed off, because I realized I was about to admit that it was nice (*gasp*) to have a weekend that wasn't consumed with horses. Even now, that thought sends pangs of guilt right through me. What a thing to say! Tucker and Julie would be so hurt.

So my question for you, readers, is this: As horse owners, do we need to maintain a balance between our horses and . . . everything else? Do we need to think about making time for unequestrians and family members? Is saving money for something other than a new bridle an important goal? Or, on the other hand, is life really just about the pursuit of happiness. . . and if horses make us truly happy, should that be where we focus our energy?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New gadget

First: update on that apartment. There is a train that runs basically through the backyard. At 4 a.m. Every morning. So, maybe not "anything" for my equines. But I did decide to keep an eye out for other apartments in the area. Down-sizing wouldn't be a bad idea after all.

Before we begin, I know there are some DQ's* following this blog, and based on the little amount that I know about dressage, I know you may not like this post that much. A brief digression into the "little that I know" about dressage. When I was in high school, I was the captain of our school's riding team. As captain, I was required to compete in at least one event in each discipline. So, I entered the lovely little mare that I was showing in the children's hunters in a few dressage shows that were hosted by our school. The poor thing. I can just imagine what went through her pretty little head: "Uh, where are the jumps? Don't tell me I am supposed to jump those little white things? Why am I the only horse in this hack? Another circle? Seriously? There's no one in front of us." I remember one test in particular which I thought was lovely but received rather thinly veiled insults from the judge. At one point, she told me that I needed to work on getting my mare to use her hind end more and reach under herself, which was true. So I agreed, and said I had been flatting her in draw reins once a week to help with that. The judge smiled up at me and said "Why don't you just give her a lobotomy?"

So, I've gotten the impression that dressage folks aren't too keen on our hunter/jumper tools and gadgets. Let me be careful to say that I do not agree with the program where a horse "lives in draw reins" or has so many complicated pieces of hardware on his face that he looks like Edward Scissor Pony. At some point, it just becomes counter-productive. But I do think gadgets have their place in a training program, when used with discretion and common sense. So... hopefully the DQ's won't turn away from your computers in horror, and may simply be wagging your fingers at me admonishingly or shaking your heads in pity... but here we go.

The bit we are currently using is called a double-jointed rotary. It looks like this:

The rotary link allows both sides to work independently of each other. You can purchase one at http://www.horseloverz.com/, which is one of my favorite online equine shopping destinations because they always have great sales and discounts (I am mildly infatuated with not paying full price for anything. I love the thrill). Tucker has a pretty soft mouth, but he tends to lock up on the left side through his jaw. The beauty of this bit is that for a horse like Tucker, somehow this bit keeps him more even on both sides and makes him stay soft regardless of which direction he is bent in. It also makes the transition smoother when he changes his bend. I'm not 100% sure why, but it works.

The gadget that I want to tell you all about today is one developed by Anne Kursinski, called the instant gag. It's available here, if anyone is interested. It works with your regular snaffle bridle, and gets attached to a second set of reins. Here's a close up of how it sits with Tucker's full cheek.

The biggest benefit I've found with the instant gag is that Tucker self-corrects. Since my snaffle rein is still attached, the gag rein really only comes into play when he tries to lean or (worse) root the reins out of my hands. He's typically good about contact, but sometimes it gets kind of hard keeping his extra long package together and he'll protest. The instant gag also works similar to a poll rein, in that if he tries to come above the contact, he feels pressure on his poll. This typically only happens when he's "stargazing" (to steal a phrase from Jeff Cook), but the instant gag gives him a nice reminder to come back down to earth.

What's great about the self-correction is that it avoids the overreaction to being corrected by the rider. The upside to having an over-acheiver is, well, he's an over-acheiver. He's a trier. Big time. The downside is that he's like a little kid that never gets yelled at, who burst into tears when he does. (I might have been that kind of child and I might have raised a horse that is exactly like me. But that's a whole nother can of worms better suited for a therapist to deal with than my trainer.)

So when Tucker roots the reins out of your hands, and you half halt to correct him, the head flies in the air, his body goes tense, panic ensues, and he generally gives you the "WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME??!?!?!" reaction. Poor guy. He so wants to be good. Such a sensitive soul. The great thing about the instant gag is he leans, feels pressure, comes back to where you want him. "Huh, I guess I shouldn't do that" instead of "OH DEAR LORD PLEASE DON'T HURT ME I DIDN'T MEAN IT I SWEAR." Calm down Tucker dear, please, just canter. There's a good boy. Mommy loves you. You can see how this is mildly amusing at first but becomes kind of terrifying in the middle of a five-stride line. We're working on getting him to just take a deep breath and get over himself. The biggest obstacle in the way of that goal is that I need to just take a deep breath and get over myself. This is not at easy as it sounds. As many of you know.

Anyway, I have ridden in the instant gag twice and I am loving the softness. It's also teaching me to be really soft with my hands to avoid him over-flexing at the poll, which is a really good thing.

*DQ = Dressage Queen, for the unequestrian reader. And it's not an insult, I mean it with love.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Anything for my equines...

By way of background, Tucker and Julie currently reside at different farms. Tucker lives at Whitmere with my trainer Alicia (who is a miracle worker, more on her later) and Julie lives at a small private dressage farm with another Oldenburg filly who is the same age. As you can see, they spent the winter cuddling.

So, I was considering moving Julie to a thoroughbred farm that's on the way to Tucker's farm. I could swing by and see her every day on my way to ride Tucker, make sure she's doing alright, pat her on the head. I'd probably see her a lot more often. The dressage farm where she lives is only ten minutes from Tucker, but it's in the other direction. Plus, the thoroughbred farm would save me about $80 a month, which of course would help out. We are in the middle of Tucker's show season, after all.

But then I went to see Julie for her birthday this weekend... and started talking to the owner of the dressage farm. Number one, Julie clearly loves him, and loves his little Oldenburg filly. Number two, he started telling me about the daily grooming she's been getting from his working student, and the weekly flea and tick baths, and the regular worming and probiotics when she needs it.... and I thought, what am I crazy? This is the perfect situation for her. I can suck it up and drive ten extra minutes.

So, my solution? Well if I want to save money, far be it from me to adjust the quality of life of one of my precious equines. Time to find a smaller apartment! So, I think I've found a place with one less room (but really, who needs a home office?) that's available July 1st.

The best part is, my boyfriend thought I'd be saving that extra money! Oh, silly boy. Remember when I got a bonus this year? And you said you bet I was going to find something horse-related to spend it on? It wasn't in my bank account for 24 hours before I bought myself a new saddle. Tucker really needed it though. What? He did.

It is rather amazing. If there is money to spare, there is always something Tucker needs. And if he doesn't, I'm sure Julie has outgrown something that requires replacing. But, as much as I stress about how much these guys cost and how little I'm able to save each month, I know I'd be miserable without them. Sigh.

Monday, June 15, 2009

So I've decided to create yet another horse blog...

So after a good friend of mine over at A Horse and a Half gave me the link to her blog over drinks one night, I thought, "maybe I should start a blog." But I figured no one would want to read about Tucker the Wunderkind and his little sister Julie. But then one day a friend gave me some German Horse Muffins and I found Behind the Bit, which led me over to The Literary Horse, and then I really started giving it some more thought. For the past few weeks, I've gotten a little addicted to learning about the daily lives of the equines in the lives of these three bloggers. So, I decided to try to join the ranks of these clever women and start my own blog about my little four legged darlings. I figured if I am fascinated reading about a bunch of horses I've never met, maybe others will want to hear about mine? Who knows? And if nothing else, it will be a journey in self-discovery. And there's nothing wrong with that.

So, the first post, I would imagine, must start with the introductions.

First, Tucker the Wunderkind. Tucker is now a seven-year-old gelding. He's a 17 hh Dutch Warmblood/ Thoroughbred Cross. The first day I met Tucker, I had just graduated from college and he was a gangly two-month-old colt. I went into the stall to say hi to his mom, whom I hadn't seen since my Christmas break, and he ran up and bit me in the stomach (just in case we weren't clear about exactly whose mom that was that I was talking to). Gee, your colt is charming, I thought. Please tell me I won't have to work with this one.

I then spent my year off between college and law school working at the farm where Tucker grew up, and steadily falling madly in love with this absolutely charming little weanling. As it turns out, first impressions aside, Tucker's main goal in life is to make his humans happy, and he tries really hard at reaching that goal. So, when I moved back to New Jersey to start law school, Tucker was in tow. So much for saving up money for law school.

By far, the best decision I've ever made. When I bought him, he was just Tucker. The "Wunderkind" nickname came along once I realized he's something of a baby genius. Tucker and I are now showing in the low adult hunters (@ 2'6") and working our way up to the 3' adult hunters. Tucker, being a Wunderkind, is ready willing and able to jump anything we point him at. His pilot, on the other hand, is still figuring things out. The goal is 3 feet by September. Stay tuned...

And then there's Julie. After working through law school at the baby farm where Tucker spent his childhood, I grew rather attached to a set of young horses from one particular brood mare, named Secret, to the left. Her babies were pretty, quiet, and easy. And they were all bays. My favorite.

So Julie was planned, though the night she was born (exactly one year ago today), I called the owner of both her parents and said... "Um, she's not what I ordered." I had "ordered" a bay with four white socks. I had patiently, repeatedly, explained this to her mother during her eleven month pregnancy.

But as I stood watching her come into this world, I saw two white socks... that became stockings... that became long white legs, and realized that at least in the color department, she'd be taking after her daddy, the beautiful and talented Raine Dance:

So little miss Julie has had her own opinion of things right from the very beginning.

She is a sweetheart, really, but some days she just rolls her pretty little eyes at us and explains that she's a little too pretty to be bossed around by a ridiculous human with a crazy idea about what the day's agenda should be. Right now, that agenda doesn't involve much more than grooming, bathing, leading, and the occasional run-in with a black-and-white-filly-eating monster commonly known as clippers. But I'm hoping this summer she and I will get to spend some quality time together. Those long white legs don't clean themselves, after all!

So, with introductions underway, welcome to my blog!