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What is the American Quarter Horse? A Versatile Breed Who Excels At Sprinting!

The Quarter horse is famous, to the point where it seems like even people who don’t know anything about horses knows about Quarter horses. The American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world. Because of their versatility for use in quarter horse racing, reining, showing, jumping, and more, they are an insanely well-known breed of horse! That’s why the Quarter Horse was one of the first 6 designs in the Horses Of The World series. I knew that I would have to have a Quarter horse in the line-up. When I think of the Quarter Horse, I think of a palomino with a cowboy on her back, heading out across the American plains. This is the only piece in this series that I added extra designs to. At the time, I felt like the water area of the map was just so empty, so I added some Western-style flowers. 

This piece was done with India Ink, Copic markers, and colored pencils. A small amount of watered-down white acrylic paint was added for the white markings and mane on the horse. After doing the Arabian and Appaloosa, I realized that I needed to water down any paint that I used on these so that the paint wouldn’t completely cover the map areas. 

Keep reading to learn more about the history of the Quarter Horse!

Purchase Quarter Horse prints by clicking the photo above!

 

The American Quarter Horse gets its name from its ability to sprint short distances. This breed gets its name from its ability to outrun other horses in a race of a quarter-mile or less. Some Quarter horses have been clocked at running speeds of up to 55 mph! The Quarter horse breed began in the 1600s, when colonists on the Eastern seaboard of North America started breeding imported Thoroughbreds horses with breeds like the Chickasaw horse, a breed that was developed by Native Americans from horses brought to the Americas by Conquistadors. One of the most famous of the imported Thoroughbreds that contributed to the Quarter Horse breed was Janus, who was foaled in 1746 and moved to Colonial Virginia in 1756. Janus’ genes were crucial to the development of the small, hardy, and quick “Famous American Quarter Running Horse.”

Flat racing became popular with colonists, leading to the growing popularity of the Quarter Horse. The courses in the colonial races were shorter than classic racecourses in England, and were often just a flat, straight stretch of road or open land. Put up against a Thoroughbred, the sprinting Quarter Horse often won in these short, fast races!

The American Quarter horse is the most popular breed in the United States today and has the largest breed registry in the world. Almost three-million American Quarter Horses were living and registered in 2014. Next to the American Quarter Horse Association, the second-largest registry of Quarters is in Brazil. The third-largest is in Australia.

Because of the compact body of the Quarter Horse, it is well suited for the quick and intricate maneuvers required of a horse involved in cutting, reining, calf roping, barrel racing, and other western riding events. Their athleticism is also useful in many English riding events, such as show jumping, dressage, and hunting. Quarter horses come in two types – the “stock” type and the “hunter” type. The stock horse is compact, shorter, stocky, and well-muscled but still agile. The hunter/racing type more closely resembles the Thoroughbred, with taller stature and smoother muscling.

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How to Keep Horses On a Budget

Let’s be real for a minute: having almost any type of pet can get expensive. But make that pet several hundred pounds and the costs just go up exponentially. Anything with the word “horse” in the title or a picture of a horse on it can cost more than double the same item that isn’t marketed to horse owners. I don’t make a lot of money, but have still managed to find ways to have a horse and enjoy her without spending tons of cash. It takes some planning and careful shopping, but it can be done! Here are some tips to cut your horse expenses.

Disclaimer: Check with a veterinarian or a trusted professional before making choices about horse feed, supplements, or other nutritional needs for your horse. Each horse is different, with different needs and workloads. The following is general advice and not meant to diagnose any specific need for your personal horse!

Get a PPE before buying your horse.

If you don’t have a horse yet and are looking to buy one, make sure that you get a vet out to do a pre-purchase exam on any horse you are seriously considering. I don’t care how much you love that big, young Chestnut gelding at the rescue, without a PPE you may take him home and find out two years later that he has a terrible case of kissing spine because you didn’t get x-rays and a vet exam before adopting! If you already have a trainer you trust, take them with you horse shopping to get a second opinion. If you don’t have a trainer, find one with a good reputation and get their opinion before buying. It may seem silly to spend money on a vet exam for a horse you may not buy, but it could save you lots of grief and expense in the long run by catching potential problems before you’re the one responsible for thousands and thousands of dollars in vet care.

Self-care board or exchange board for chores or other goods.

Keeping a horse at home is the cheapest and easiest option for owning one, but sometimes having a horse in your backyard just isn’t possible. When searching for a boarding barn, see if you can do self-care (if allowed!) for a discount or if you can help out with barn chores or by trading some other service or goods for some of your board price. (For instance, if you’re handy with tools you can offer to repair fences or do other tasks around the facility!) Self-care only makes sense if you can afford the gas and time to come out every day, possibly multiple times a day, so be sure to figure that into your planning before committing to it. My best friend and I currently self-care at her parents’ farm, and we take turns coming out to feed the horses and change blankets so that all the running around isn’t just on one of us.

Feed the best quality forage you can afford.

Barring medical issues such as Cushing’s, most horses will do just fine on a steady diet of quality grass. Hay is cheapest in the summer when grass is plentiful, so buy as much hay as you can store during the growing season. Buy the best quality hay you can afford, and feed from hay nets or feeders that are up off the floor to minimize wastage. Just remember that horses are designed to eat from the ground, so try not to feed their hay TOO high. And if using hay nets, hang them high enough off the ground so that your horse won’t get a foot stuck in it! 

Don’t overfeed grain and concentrates.

Horses are designed to forage most of the day, not eat big meals all at once. If you are going to supplement with a feed, make sure that it’s appropriate for your horse’s needs and that you aren’t overfeeding grain and skimping on hay. Feed, supplements, and concentrates can add up quickly, so unless your horse needs “extras”, feed more hay than grains. Never feed horses any food that is for cattle, as it can contain ingredients that are dangerous to horses!

Check tack regularly for wear and tear.

Buy tack secondhand, perform regular maintenance on tack you already own.

Thanks to the internet, it’s becoming easier and easier to find horse tack second-hand. There are groups with thousands of members that are dedicated just to buying and selling used tack, from Western to English, and even Driving tack! If you need a piece of tack, look for it used first before buying new. Not only is it better for your pocketbook, but it’s also better for the environment, too! Also, most tack stores have a consignment section where you can purchase gently used items from other local horsepeople. 

Once you have your tack, be sure to perform regular maintenance on it. Clean your tack regularly to check for signs of wear, leather fatigue, or metal fatigue. Check saddle billets, girths, and bridles for wear. It will be cheaper to keep your tack in good shape with regular cleaning and conditioning than it will be to keep buying new tack. Also, keeping up with tack maintenance will help prevent sudden tack failures that could lead to vet or hospital bills.

Have your horse go barefoot.

If your horse doesn’t NEED shoes, he probably shouldn’t be wearing shoes. Obviously your circumstances will vary, but it will be much cheaper to just pay for a trim whenever the farrier comes out than having to pay for shoes. As a bonus, the horse can’t pull a shoe if they don’t have one on, so you won’t have to pay the farrier to come back out after you find the left hind shoe out in the muddy paddock two days after it was put on!

Clean and repair your own blankets.

Or, don’t blanket your horse at all if they don’t need it. Most horses don’t need a blanket at all unless they are clipped, old, underweight, or don’t grow a good winter coat. So you can save a bundle just not blanketing your horse at all! 

But, if you do blanket your horse, you can clean and repair blankets on your own! There is a commercial blanket wash you can purchase that you use in the washing machine. Taking your blankets to the local laundromat will likely be cheaper than having them washed by a professional blanket person in your local area. Just be sure to use only recommended cleaning agents so you don’t damage waterproofing on your blankets, or treat them with a waterproofing spray after they’ve been cleaned.

You can also repair rips and tears either with iron-on patches specifically designed for horse blankets, with patches meant for tents, or by sewing the rips by hand. We’ve sewn up several rain sheets because Raven is tough on Glory’s blankets and like to rip them up, and have even re-attached broken straps on a bellyband of a winter blanket just by sewing it back on with a heavy-duty curved needle and waxed thread.

If your horse blanket does get a rip and you purchased it recently, contact the store you purchased it from or the manufacturer and see if the damage is covered under any sort of warranty. The previously mentioned winter-blanket-with-the-broken-bellyband was brand new and was still covered under the warranty, so we got a refund for the cost of the blanket and bought a new rain sheet (bonus: we got to keep the winter blanket, so after we repaired it we’d gotten two blankets for the price of one!)

Those are some of my tips for keeping horses on a budget. For more ideas, be sure to check out one of my favorite YouTube channels, The Budget Equestrian

Do you have any money-saving tips for taking care of your horse? Share them in the comments!

Have you seen my merch on Amazon yet?

Birthstone horse shirts are available on Amazon! You can get February-October’s designs on a variety of fits and colors, while taking advantage of your Amazon Prime benefits! I got to see one of these shirts in person just yesterday and I am BLOWN AWAY by the quality. The print looks amazing and the shirt itself is high-quality. Definitely recommend getting a shirt for yourself or someone you know who loves horses through my Amazon shop if you want the best feeling shirt ever!

I will be adding more shirts to Amazon as I can, however the way that this program works is different from other t-shirt storefronts I have. With Amazon, you have only so many design “slots”, and as you sell more shirts you rank up and get more slots. I am currently on the lowest level and only have 10 design slots, so I can’t put up all the months until I open up more slots. This means I have to get more people to buy shirts on Amazon! So if you know someone who would love one of these designs, please share the link with them! I need to sell 7 more shirts before I can get to the next tier, so there’s still a ways to go but I know we can do it.
 

Featured photo created by katemangostar – www.freepik.com
Horse with saddle photo created by topntp26 – www.freepik.com

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The Great Cart Crash of 2014 – How I Broke a Breaking Cart By Accident

With horseback riding, it’s not a question of “if” you will fall off the horse. The only question is “when” are you going to fall off the horse. Some horse people even say that if you haven’t fallen off a horse, you haven’t been riding long enough! In my almost-seven-years of being an equestrian, I’ve had my share of falls. Thankfully, most of them have been pretty minor- like falling off a horse at the mounting block (which I have done multiple times…), but there are two times so far where I had a pretty dramatic horse-related accident. The one that did the worst damage to me and to equipment was the great cart crash of 2014, where I managed to destroy an entire breaking cart and make my forehead bleed.

I want to preface this by saying that I believe EVERYONE who is doing something around horses should be wearing a helmet. We wear helmets whenever we ride or drive. I can make an entire blog post about the arguments against helmets that I’ve heard, and maybe I will one day, but I personally believe that a helmet is important whenever a horse is being ridden or driven. In the two accidents I’m about to write about, a helmet saved my noggin from being hurt even worse than it was. Okay, now that I’ve been on my Helmet Soapbox, let’s get into the story.

The Great Cart Crash – October 5, 2014

It was a beautiful Fall morning, and I was in a pretty bad mood. I decided to go to the barn and drive Glory, even though I would have no one to drive with and that makes it a little boring for me. I hadn’t been around horses for very long, but I’d been working with Glory for several months now and had been cleared to drive the cart on my own. So, believing that some horse time would cheer me up, I headed for the barn. After grooming and hitching up the cart, I headed down the fields. 

Back behind the arena is a pretty steep hill, but if you stay toward the left side of the property and go through the ditch between the hill and the arena, you will get to a decent-sized flat area that is great fun to ride and drive in. At the time I didn’t like driving in the arena much because I felt like I would crash into the fence all the time, so I preferred to drive out in the fields where I had a bit more space. Despite being with Glory, I still wasn’t out of my bad mood, but I decided to stick with it and work the horse. 

We got warmed up in the little red wooden breaking cart, and a little bit into our drive I decided to work Glory at the canter on the flat bit of land behind the arena. We were going around to the right, at a lovely even canter, and suddenly everything went in slow-motion. I don’t know if we hit a gopher hill, or if the tires were too full and bouncy and we just hit a bump in the ground, but suddenly the cart was airborne. The cart, with me in it, bumped and then rolled to the left in mid-air. Both shafts snapped away from the body of the cart and came away as Glory kept cantering on for a few more yards. The cart flipped and dumped me out onto the grass, face-first. I hit the front of my helmet on the ground first before rolling a few feet. 

I didn’t lay in the grass for long, got up almost right away because I was worried about Glory. Thankfully, my rock-star driving horse had stopped only a few yards away and was standing there, looking back at me as though to say “Why did we stop? I was starting to have fun!” The only reason why she wasn’t eating the grass, I believe, is because the overchecks were keeping her from doing so. I stumbled over and grabbed her, then took stock of the cart, which was in pieces all over the field. I believe that Kennedy was out of town this day, but her parents were home and we up at the house, so I pulled out my cellphone and called the house to tell them what had happened. I called Kennedy too while I waited for help to come down, and she actually thought I was joking!

In the midst of my frantic phone calls, I noticed blood dripping down above my left eye. I took off my helmet and realized that when I hit my helmet into the ground, the helmet lining had scraped open a spot of skin on my forehead. After Kennedy’s parents got down the field to me, we took the broken cart shafts off the harness and gathered up the rest of the parts, and we all walked up the field together. Below is a photo of what was left of the poor little red cart…

All things considered, this entire accident could have been a LOT worse. Glory wasn’t hurt, and I was only minorly injured. I was sore and had a scrape on my forehead that hurt like hell for about a week, but it would have been a lot worse if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet. The breaking cart did exactly what it was supposed to do- breaking apart if something happens. I got off really lucky. And I’ve been pretty lucky with riding as well, since I’ve only had one really bad fall while riding and one semi-bad fall… but those are stories for another blog post!

Have you seen my merch on Amazon yet?

Birthstone horse shirts are available on Amazon! You can get February-October’s designs on a variety of fits and colors, while taking advantage of your Amazon Prime benefits! I got to see one of these shirts in person just yesterday and I am BLOWN AWAY by the quality. The print looks amazing and the shirt itself is high-quality. Definitely recommend getting a shirt for yourself or someone you know who loves horses through my Amazon shop if you want the best feeling shirt ever!

I will be adding more shirts to Amazon as I can, however the way that this program works is different from other t-shirt storefronts I have. With Amazon, you have only so many design “slots”, and as you sell more shirts you rank up and get more slots. I am currently on the lowest level and only have 10 design slots, so I can’t put up all the months until I open up more slots. This means I have to get more people to buy shirts on Amazon! So if you know someone who would love one of these designs, please share the link with them! I need to sell 7 more shirts before I can get to the next tier, so there’s still a ways to go but I know we can do it.

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Adventures in Mad Science – Making Brush Cleaning Fizzy Bombs!

Wow, it’s February already! January felt both extremely long and like it went by in a flash. 

Today I wanted to write about a fun project that my best friend and I started two weeks ago, and we’re having so much fun with it that we’re hoping to really branch out! There’s a little backstory though that I’m going to talk about but not go into too much detail about because I don’t want to paint anyone involved in a bad light. The story I’m about to tell is true, but I won’t be calling anyone out.

A while ago, I purchased some brush cleaning items from a small business. I liked the brush cleaning items enough that I recommended them to another friend, who placed an order in summer 2019 with the same business. Weeks passed and the order never showed up. After several attempts to contact the seller, my friend got a message saying that this person had suffered an injury, that someone was coming to help them fill orders, and that they’d get their items soon along with a free gift to make up for the delay.  So, they waited another few weeks for their order to show up, but it never did. It still, to this day, has never arrived, and the seller disappeared off the face of the Earth instead of continuing to communicate with those who were waiting for their items. 

Since I’m a small business owner myself, I totally understand getting behind on things- especially if an emergency happens. But what I don’t understand at all is getting an order from someone and then not only not delivering the item that was ordered but also not communicating. So, since we were all disappointed by this turn of events, Kennedy and I decided to do something nice for our friend. We decided to learn how to make “bath bombs” that would clean horse brushes!

First, we had to do some research on the ingredients that we’d need. We wanted our brush cleaner to have a satisfying FIZZ when added to water, to smell nice, and to be antimicrobial. But they also couldn’t leave any residue that would be difficult to rinse out. We decided on a recipe and some secret ingredients to use, then set to work on our prototypes.

Filling molds with our prototype mixture

As with any new product prototype, we ran into some issues with the first batch. Since we only had two of our molds and we wanted to make four different scent blends on the day we were making prototypes, we decided to try to “kiln dry” our brush fizzies in an oven that was set on a low temperature. Little did we know that we had added too much of our wet ingredient and there was a chemical reaction going on that made them puff up out of the molds! Plus the heat from the oven made the edges hard and almost melted? So that experiment did not work at all! 

Once we got those out of the molds, though, we started to get the hang of things. The batch that got messed up turned into our testing batch and we used every single one of them that day to clean brushes with because we were having too much fun tossing them in the water and watching them fizz. Plus, the amount of dirt and grime they got out of our brushes was insane! I’d cleaned Glory’s brushes a few weeks prior, but even then the water was coming out gross and dirty. As we mixed and tested, we came up with fun names for each of our scent blends.

Now that we had our brush cleaners made and tested, I got to do the really fun part- design packaging! We wanted a label for each individual scent, as well as a label that would go on a larger bag to contain a collection of different scents. By the time I got to designing packaging, we had come up with six different scent blends (and now we have two more on the way, for an even eight!)

“Run for the Roses”- A romantic floral scent that will take you to the Winner’s Circle. This blend was inspired by the wreaths of flowers given to winning racehorses.

“Florida Cracker”- A bright and sunny scent evocative of warm and sunny days. This blend is made from orange and lemon and has a zesty, bright scent! (This was the first blend I created and the initial batch is what is pictured in the image where the brush fizzies puffed up and didn’t come out of the mold correctly, but the ones in this photo turned out perfectly now that we have the recipe down!)

“Winter Ride” – A wintery blend of pine and cinnamon, reminiscent of a ride through a snow-covered forest. This is one of my favorite blends. It smells so nice and like you’re riding through an evergreen forest! The cinnamon also reminds me of the cinnamon pine cones you can get around Christmas.

“Cubbing Season”- A woodsy scent that brings to mind early morning Autumn hunts. This blend is so nice. It really reminds me of the woods in Fall because of the oils that Kennedy put into it!


“Spring Invitational”- The scent of a warm breeze in your face as you gallop cross-country. The best word to describe this blend is “green”. It’s not exactly a floral scent, but more the smell of nature.


“Muddy Boots” – Tea Tree Oil and Mint pack a powerful punch for extreme muck and grime. First of all, I am so proud of the name I came up with for this blend. This is like our “super cleaner” for when you really need to fight some nasties. I did add quite a bit of mint though because it has come to my attention that not everyone likes the smell of tea tree oil as much as I do. 

We have two more blends in the works, “Mare Stare” (Dragonsblood) and “Foal Watch” (Lavender), but I don’t have photos of those.

And here’s our big packet of assorted scents! The large bag holds four of the four-packs, so it contains 16 brush fizzies. We’re hoping to start selling these to other people who want a fun and easy way to clean their grooming stuff. The tabs fizz really nicely when you toss them in water (Click here for a video!), they get the gunk out of the bristles, and they rinse clean very easily. So, we met all our requirements for brush cleaners!

After we had these packed up, we delivered them to our friend who never got her order from the other seller. She was so happy that we surprised her with these that she cried a little! I can’t wait for her to test out her cleaners and tell us how she likes them. We really enjoyed using our test ones!

How do you like to clean your brushes? Let me know in the comments! 

 

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Come Tour Our Tack Room!

A tour of our tiny tack room might not be particularly exciting to those who have much larger barns or a fancier set up. But I think our tack room is quaint and that we make decent use of what space we have. Besides, maybe this post can give someone some storage ideas for their own tack room! (Also, does anyone not realize how messy something is until they look at photos? Because that’s what I’m going through right now with this post, but I didn’t have time to straighten up when I was taking these photos. So please know that I share my unedited life with all of you!)

Welcome to our little tack/feed room! This is the view from the door. On the left wall are the cart harness that we use for both horses, extra lead ropes, rope halters, breastplates, and all our light-up riding gear (LED Breastplates, LED tail lights, magnet running lights to clip onto the breastplates, etc). Directly ahead, in the trash cans, are our feed, extra horse treats, alfalfa pellets, and extra bags of feed. You can see Raven and Glory’s feed buckets on top of the middle can in this shot. We keep the feed in here because we have a small space heater in the tack room and the feed that we use has molasses in it, so if it freezes we will be trying to break it up with a chisel!

Now, some people who are familiar with tack rooms might be thinking “why is there a huge tool box in the corner of your tack storage?!” Well, the short answer is that the barn we’re currently at was empty for a few years, and so the tack room and stalls started being used for storage. There are some things still being stored in the barn that we’re not able to move and that we just have to live with. The huge tool box is one of those things. It’s impossible to move it out of there right now, so it gets to stay. We have some silicone mats on top of the toolbox to protect it, and we store our Bluetooth speaker, charging cables for our phones, more extra treats (presents from my parents, because they must spoil their “grandhorse”), and an electric kettle for making warm mash for the horses or hot drinks for ourselves.

Here’s a better shot of the wall with the harness and night-riding things on it. We keep the harness on a holder meant for a garden hose. It holds the breastcollar and the harness saddle perfectly, and we put the other harness parts on a bridle hook to the side of it.

Over in the far corner of the tack room are our saddles and saddle pads. My saddle is on the top left rack (because I am tall and can reach that rack), extra saddle pads go on the top right. Kennedy’s saddles go on the lower racks. We also put our helmet bags here so that we can grab a saddle, saddle pad, and our helmet and take it all out to the crossties in one trip.

This wall is fairly empty because we moved most of the stuff that was here over to the other wall when we were planning on having our heat come from an outlet heater. So we had to move everything away from the outlet so there wouldn’t be a fire hazard. Then we decided to use the heater we have now, instead, and we’ve just kept this wall mostly clear. Our primary bridles for each horse do live on this wall, however, within arm’s reach of the saddles. Because we are about efficiency and I like being able to grab all my tack at once!

Eagle-eyed readers have probably noticed the curtains in the tack room by now. Yes, those curtains are made with “Horses of the World” fabric, and I sewed them myself! It only seemed fitting to have some of my horse art in the tack room, after all. The curtains are lined with a thermal fabric that blocks out the heat in the summer.

Continuing to turn around toward the right, you come to the tack closet side of the room. To the left is a whip holder with our various crops, lunge whips, dressage whips, and other such things on it. Below those are our pool noodle horses. What? You don’t have pool noodle horses in your tack room?

Last year, a friend of ours wanted to have a pony-themed birthday party, but all our horses aren’t at the same barn anymore. So instead we turned pool noodles, ribbon, googly eyes, and craft foam into “hobby horses” that we could ride during the party. Each one is actually modeled off of our real-life horses and we put a different facial expression on each to reflect that!

The tack closet has items like bathing supplies, extra helmets, quarter sheets, stable sheets, trailering items, road hack safety items (reflective quarter sheets, reflective vests, etc), and our plush unicorn horns in it. On the door is a shoe organizer from Walmart that holds the everyday grooming supplies that we don’t want to freeze in it, like our leave-in conditioner spray, vet liniment, antibacterial wipes, and stuff like that. We also have fly masks, fly bonnets, sport boots, Glory’s extra medicine, paper towels, leather cleaner, and headlamps for checking on the paddock in the dark in the organizer. This keeps our items in the warmth, but also easily accessible since we just have to come one step in the door and reach around the corner to grab whatever we need.

And that is our little tack room! I hope you enjoyed looking around with me. Do you have a cool tack room? Share some images with me!

(Chalkboard in the featured image is from this DeviantArt user: https://www.deviantart.com/boldfrontiers/art/Chalkboard-Frame-824354197 )

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Top Three Horse Myths I Used To Believe

I didn’t realize until I became a horse owner just how many myths there are about horses. Many of those myths I thought were true until I actually gained experience riding and working with horses because I didn’t know any better! So here are my top three horse myths that I believed until I had a horse of my own.

Horses do all the work when you ride them

I remember watching old movies where some rich, old, overweight man would say “The doctor prescribed horseback riding for exercise,” and I would think that made no sense. Surely sitting on the back of a horse and letting it run around couldn’t possibly be exercise for anyone but the horse! It didn’t make any sense to me at all when I was younger.

Then I started learning how to ride and I realized just how wrong I was. Horseback riding is a full-body sport that develops strength, provides cardio, improves balance and flexibility, and requires a lot of coordination to do well! Even riding at a walk requires a lot of balance, lest you slide right off and hit the ground. Posting a trot is a leg workout plus cardio for me as well, and oh boy do my thighs let me know if I’ve done a lot of trot on my ride the day before. Riding canter has improved my core and back strength as well, and I’m always out of breath and my heart rate is up after a good ride. So yes, horseback riding IS a workout and the horse does not do all the work!

On a related note, I also had no idea how much work I’d have to do and how long it would take to be able to walk/trot/canter. I was three years into my riding journey before I did my first canter!

Only the super-rich can have a horse

Don’t get me wrong: horses are EXPENSIVE. Between feed, hay, farrier, vet, dentist, tack, blankets, grooming supplies, and everything else you need for a horse, they are definitely not a cheap animal to have. However, there are ways to make having a horse more affordable for a regular person, so they aren’t just for the extremely wealthy (as I used to think!).

One of the best ways to reduce your horse expenses- and your carbon footprint- is to buy some items second-hand. The internet has made this much easier, and I’m part of several Facebook groups where people can sell, buy, and trade tack and apparel they no longer need. If you choose to blanket, you can find all sorts of blankets being sold online, and second-hand saddles can be much more affordable than buying one new.

My first riding lessons were ones that I paid for by volunteering at the riding school. When Glory first became mine and I wanted to move her to a boarding facility, I worked out a deal with the owners so that I could exchange my board fee for stall mucking five days a week. I have exchanged custom horse portraits for tack or other items that I needed. These trades all made having my horse possible, even on a budget. There is a great blog and YouTube channel called The Budget Equestrian that has a ton of ideas for keeping a horse on a budget as well!

Something that we never skimp on, however, is hay. Our horses get the best quality hay we can find. We do save a little money per bale by going to pick up the hay ourselves though instead of having it delivered. 

Horses Don’t Lay Down Unless they’re Sick

This myth is so prevalent that I’ve even heard it from people who don’t have horses or have never been around horses! Some people just think that horses sleep standing up all the time and they don’t lay down unless something is very wrong. This is very wrong, apparently!

Horses can sleep standing up, but they do also lay down to sleep. They lay down to sleep only when they’re very comfortable and feel safe, though. Glory likes to have an afternoon nap if she has something nice and soft to lay down on, preferably in the sun. I have also caught her and Raven napping in their stalls as well when they’re bedded nice and thick and they can get comfortable. 

Me with a napping Raven

 

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Introducing the Birthstone Horses!

If you follow me on social media, you’ve seen my new series of horses I’ve been working on this year – Birthstone Horses. These are horses with coloring based on the birthstone associated with each month, and they also are bordered on two sides with sprigs of the monthly flower as well. I’ve been having so much fun working on this series so far. Actually, the original plan was to do one design a month throughout the entire year, but after I started working on the first one I was having so much fun that I just kept going. 

As of the time I’m writing this, I have 4 Birthstone Horses designs complete and am halfway done the fifth one. I’d like to introduce you to the first four designs and tell you a bit about the eight designs that are coming up in the series as well.

Garnet (January)

The first stone of this series is the Garnet. Garnet has been a popular stone in jewelry for a long time and has even been found used as beads in a necklace from 3000 B.C. The name of this dark red stone comes from the Latin word “Garanatus”, meaning “seed-like.” The gem likely got this name because small ones look like the small seeds that would be found inside of Pomegranate. Bohemia, which is now a part of Czechoslovakia, was a prolific source of Garnet. Many Bohemian castles and churches were decorated in Garnet. The stone was also popular in Victorian jewelry. It is said that Garnet is a powerful stone for curing many ailments, especially blood ailments, because of its deep red color.

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The January flower is the Carnation, which I chose to also color in the same reds as the horse of this January design. The Carnation has a history which dates back at least 2000 years. The January flower represents gratitude, beauty, pride, divine love, and feminine energy. Carnations have a dense, hardy core surrounded by feathery soft and delicate petals. 

Amethyst (February)

Amethyst once was a stone that could only be worn by royalty. Amethyst is included in royal collections all over the world, from Ancient Egypt to modern Britain. It was once more prized than ruby and sapphire. The name Amethyst comes from the ancient Greek word “amethustos”, meaning sober. It was believed that wearing one of these beautiful purple stones would prevent the wearer from becoming intoxicated. The stone has also been associated with controlling evil thoughts, increasing intelligence, and even keeping warriors safe on the battlefield!

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The flower that is associated with February is the Violet. Violets were cultivated around 500 B.C. by the Greeks. Today, there are over 500 species of violet, including those known as “pansies”. Violets symbolize modesty, spiritual wisdom, faithfulness, and humility.

Aquamarine (March) 

The third design in this series is the first one where the stone and the flower weren’t the same color, so I was nervous to get going on this one. However, once I started coloring I realized that this combination of light blue and brilliant yellow was just gorgeous!

In the 19th century, the more green varieties of Aquamarine were the most popular. But now the more blue stones are the most desired. The largest Aquamarine stone ever found was discovered in Brazil in 1910, and weighed 243 pounds. Greeks and Romans knew the stone as the Sailor’s Gem, and it would ensure safe passage across stormy seas. In 1377, the stone was widely regarded as a cure for poison, and it was said that even wearing the gem as a pendant or ring would work. It was said that Aquamarine could cure many ailments, including stomach upset.

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The Aquamarine horse is bordered by March’s flower, the Daffodil. Daffodils are associated with new beginnings and the coming of spring, since they are one of the first flowers to bloom after winter’s frost. They are grown all over the world and have been the subject of poems and songs. In China, the Daffodil symbolizes good luck, prosperity, and good fortune. 

 

Diamond (April)

Diamond gets its name from the Greek word “adamas”, meaning “invincible”. Diamonds come in a wide range of colors, including black, blue, red, pink, purple, and yellow. The color of a diamond is influenced by the impurities present in the stone. Diamonds are one of the hardest substances on earth, and wearing one is thought to give the wearer better relationships, inner strength, balance, clarity, and abundance. Some ancient peoples believed that diamonds were created by lightning, or that they were the tears of god. During the Middle Ages, diamonds were thought to have many healing powers, and to cure ailments of the brain and pituitary glands. It was believed that heating a diamond and taking it to bed with you would draw toxins from the body. Diamonds are the king of birthstones, and are the most widely sought after gems.

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The Daisy is the flower of April. Daisy captures the essence of Spring’s happy-go-lucky energy. Daisies also symbolize purity and innocence. In Norse Mythology, the Daisy is Freya’s flower. Because of this, Daisies were often given to new mothers. The Daisy is a composite flower, meaning that they are actually two flowers in one. The inner section is a disc floret, and the outer section is a ray floret. Because of this, Daisy also symbolizes eternal love. The phrase “fresh as a Daisy” comes from the petals of the Daisy closing over the center during the night and then opening again in the morning. 

 

Future designs

I will be continuing to do more Birthstone horses until I have all twelve months complete. Here is the list of stones and flowers I’m planning, broken down by month.

May – Emerald and Lily of the Valley

June – Pearl and Rose

July – Ruby and Water Lily

August – Peridot and Gladiolus

September – Sapphire and Morning Glory

October – Opal and Calendula

November – Topaz and Chrysanthemum

December – Turquoise and Holly

 

If there is interest, I definitely want to create a set of notecards and possibly a 2021 calendar with these designs once they’re finished! T-shirts of the first four designs are available and prints will be listed for purchase from my online shops soon as well. They would’ve been up already but I ran out of the plastic bags I put matted prints in to protect them and I’m waiting for my new shipment to arrive. 

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My Riding Ambitions

Usually, at the beginning of the year I have a new riding goal or two to work toward, but this year I don’t really have a new goal to go after. My goals in the past have been fairly simple, like “learn how to canter” or “canter my horse across an open field” (That one ended in a broken helmet, it wasn’t pretty), so probably not the types of riding goals that most people would have. 

I’ve never been very competitive, so showing or going to grand competitions just doesn’t speak to me. Maybe if I’d started riding at a much younger age I would be more interested in shows and competitions, but I’m more interested in having fun with my horse and my horse friends.

That being said, there are a few riding items on my bucket list that I’d love to do!

Riding on the beach

One of my top riding ambitions is to go for a horseback ride on the beach someday. I love to watch videos of people cantering or galloping down the sand on a horse, with the waves crashing in the background, and it’s just so magical to me! So, one day I’d love to take my horse to the beach and have a nice good run down the sand. Maybe not as fast as a gallop, because that’s a bit scary to me, but definitely a nice canter down the beach would be lovely, especially if my horse friends are with me and we can share the experience!

Taking my horse on trail rides

I’m fortunate enough to live in an area with lots of great places to go for trail rides. I live in driving distance of Gettysburg, the C&O Canal, and many parks that have horse trails the public are allowed to use. I get bored riding in the same arena or fields all the time, so going on trail rides would be an amazing thing to do, and we have so many areas around here that are perfect for it! Unfortunately, we are currently without access to a horse trailer, so trailering anywhere for a ride isn’t in the cards at the moment. We are hoping that we can find an affordable trailer this year so that we can take advantage of some of the beautiful parks in the area before our horses get too old to ride the trails!

Learning more about Dressage

When I do need to ride in the arena, I like to ride with a purpose. I try to have a goal for most of my rides, even if that goal is just to not fall off the horse, or to just get one good trot to canter transition in each direction. The instructor I had when I first started learning to ride liked to use dressage patterns, and I always loved that! I feel like practicing even simple dressage tests can improve steering, riding accuracy, and riding gait transitions. I have a goal to make a set of dressage letters for our riding arena so that we can start doing dressage patterns. I have the wood, I just need to paint it. Hopefully, I can get that project done by Spring!

Try Bitless riding

Glory can be very sensitive in the mouth and she can be pretty picky about her bit. We use a very simple bit that she seems to love, but I’d really like to try a bitless bridle. I think that Glory would be happy without a bit, and she has enough “whoa” and less “go” than Raven, so she might be a great candidate for bitless riding. 

Photo from UltimateBitlessBridle.com

Do lots of fun stuff on horseback!

I would also love to do more fun things on horseback, like obstacle course type things (opening/closing gates, picking up poles and moving them, moving balls around, etc) and I’d even like to try mounted archery! I might eventually take Glory to a fun schooling show, or go on a hunter pace with her, but mainly I just want to have fun with my horse and my friends. That’s the best thing about having a horse, if you ask me!

 

What are your riding ambitions?

 

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My Favorite Horse Photos

Over the past six (almost seven!) years that I’ve been around horses, I’ve taken and collected a lot of horse photos. Not only is my horse cute, but I’ve worked around a lot of horses and I’m always needing new reference photos to create art from. So I thought it would be a lot of fun to post some of my favorite photos, both that I’ve taken myself and ones that I’ve collected from around the internet. I hope you enjoy!

My Glory as a baby!

First of all, look at how adorable my Glory was as a baby! Isn’t she the cutest thing ever? She had a sassy face even at just a few days old!

Glory’s Sire, Edelweiss Magic Man

Speaking of Glory, this is the best photo that I have of her sire, Edelweiss Magic Man. I have a couple photos of him from the people that bred her, but they are terrible and the colors have deteriorated over the years, so this is the clearest picture I have of him. Glory definitely gets her good looks from her Papa, because she looks nothing like her Dam!

Horse with gloves on its ears

Now for something completely different! This gif never fails to make me giggle with delight, so I look at it whenever I’m feeling down in the dumps. There’s just something so perfect and so ridiculous about the way that the gloves sit on the horse’s ears and the way that they move and it makes me very happy!

Glory in the Snow

This photo of Glory is from our first winter together, I think. We were having a walk around the arena (this was before I started riding her, so I was hand-walking her) and she just stopped and looked out over the freshly fallen snow. It was so pretty that I actually did a watercolor painting of this photo at one point that I think my mom now has.

Life with a horse: a summary

When I first got a tablet, I downloaded a horse game. The most realistic thing about that game was that you could brush your horses every ten minutes, and every ten minutes they would be covered in mud and dirt. This meme reminds me of that game.

Chaz

This photo was taken by me and is of one of the many horses I worked with at my first barn job. He’s a Morgan gelding we called Chaz, and he was just the best. A sweet boy with a great personality. This photo was from one of his first days on the farm, and he was running around with his head up, snorting and carrying on, and I always thought this picture looked like it should be on the front of Morgan Magazine. I miss this horse very dearly, he was a sweet soul and I think about him often.

Glory’s opinion on riding

This was the face Glory made after I bought my first saddle and was trying it on her. I owned this saddle for a few years but ended up selling it and saving for a different one that I use now. This was an 18 inch Wintec Wide and I’ve since gone down to a 17 inch Wintec All-Purpose. I took these pics and didn’t notice until I looked back at them that Glory was sticking her tongue out in this one!

Squishy Lips!

I found this photo on Tumblr a long time ago and it has never failed to make me laugh. I just love those big squishy lips! Bless the person who took this photo, it has brought me so much joy!

Me, Glory, Kennedy, and Raven

One last photo, because if I don’t put a limit on this we’ll be here all day. I love this photo of me and my best friend Kennedy riding our girls. This was right after we got our light-up breastplates and it was just so much fun to ride in them. Honestly, it still is fun to ride with lights on the horses and sometimes we put them on just because. (And sometimes we put them on because it gets dark very early now and we need to ride, but it’s already nighttime, so we need lights)

I hope you enjoyed looking at some of my favorite horse photos! Do you have a favorite horse picture? Share it with me!

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What’s In My Grooming Box

My favorite thing to do with my horse is spending time brushing her. I love to ride, and to drive, but I find that even just going and brushing Glory on a day when I’m not feeling great is enough to boost my mood. There’s something magical and satisfying about just spending some quiet time talking to my horse, brushing the mud off her coat and picking her feet, and getting the tangles out of her long tail. 

Maybe you’re new to horse ownership and don’t know what sort of grooming items you should have in your arsenal? It took me a long time to find the tools and products that I really love and that work for me. So here are my favorite grooming tools and products and why I chose them. 

I have no affiliation with these products and this is not a sponsored post. This post does include Amazon Affiliate links that provide me with a small commission if you click on one and purchase something, at no extra cost to you!

Sleek-EZ

Photo from Sleekez.com

My horse gets a super long winter coat because of her Cushing’s. Because of this, I have tried a LOT of shedding aids. The Sleek-EZ and the Grooming Gloves are my favorites out of everything I’ve tried, but let’s concentrate on the Sleek-EZ for a minute. I have the large Sleek-EZ and I absolutely love it. The size is perfect for Glory’s body, and it really gets the hair off! Plus it’s comfortable to hold too. My current one has lasted me through two shedding seasons already and will soon be on its third, and though it probably could use a new blade it’s still going pretty strong. Bonus, I’ve noticed it’s also very good at bringing up dust and dander when I’m using it!

Grooming Gloves

The newest addition to my anti-shedding-season arsenal are a pair of grooming gloves. I didn’t think that these things could do as good a job with getting out the winter hair as my Sleek-EZ, but boy, I was wrong! I like to slip these on each hand and go to town, massaging Glory with circular motions and watching the hair come out like crazy! After ten seconds of using them the first time, I was a changed woman. The long winter coat doesn’t stand a chance against a good pair of grooming gloves. These gloves have also taken the place of my curry comb for everyday use with getting caked on mud out of Glory’s fur. She loves having her neck scratched with them!

Stiff Brush

Any equestrian will tell you that a grooming kit should include a good hard brush. After I use my grooming gloves and/or Sleek-EZ, I use the hard brush on neck, body, and upper legs to get the majority of the dirt, dander, and loose fur off my horse. My hard brush has nylon bristles with a wooden handle.

Flick Brush

After I use the hard brush, I go over where I just brushed with a flick brush– a long-bristled soft brush that really gets into Glory’s coat and throws the dust off. I use the brush with a flicking motion, hence the name! Again, this brush isn’t anything special, just nylon bristles and a plastic handle.

Flex Finishing Brush

I finish up my body brushing routine by using a short-bristled soft brush on my horse. I go over her face with this same brush, as well as over her body and legs to make sure I’ve gotten as much dust off as I can. My soft brush is “hinged” so I can cup it in my hand and make it curve, which is why I like it as a face brush as well. 

Hoof Pick

I like my hoof pick to have a plastic handle, a thick metal pick, and a brush. I find the thinner picks with metal handles to be hard to hold, and I like having the brush so that I can clean the flat of the hoof as well as the grooves, without having to use the pointy metal part too much!

Mane and Tail Brush

I have been blessed with a horse that has a thick long mane and tail. Though her mane isn’t as long as some horses, it’s still pretty long, especially up near her poll. Her tail is long and fairly thick, and I love that it falls naturally into pretty little ringlets. But it can also be a giant pain in the rear to brush! I do use a detangling spray/leave in conditioner, which I’ll talk about later in this article. But for my brush, I like a nice hefty handle that’s comfortable to hold, and bristles with the round plastic bits on the tips. I love the big circular head of my current brush because I feel like it covers more area with each stroke, making the process a little faster.

Thrush Buster

Glory has little feet with deep grooves, which makes them a great place for thrush to grow. She spends 99% of her time in a dry lot that has great drainage, but still gets muddy when we get more than a moderate amount of rain. We keep a bottle of Thrush Buster on hand for when we need it for both the horses! (Though, if we can find something that works as well as this product and won’t stain our hands purple every time we use it, we would definitely switch!)

Eqyss Avocado Mist Conditioner Spray

My best friend and I use this on both our horses and we love it! We spray this on manes and tails to get the tangles out. Not only does it condition and get knots out easily, it smells AMAZING. Sometimes their tails are even easy to detangle the next day or two after we use it because it’s so good.

Eqyss Equine Spray Marigold Scent

We bought this once when the store was out of the avocado spray, and we don’t like it as much as the product above this on the list. However, I do use this every few days on Glory’s coat to help with her dry skin. I can brush her for thirty minutes and still have dust coming up because her skin is dry during the winter, and I don’t have access to hot water and heat lamps to give her a bath when it’s cold! So, after a ride or as a step to a grooming session, I will spray this on her coat, especially her back and flanks where the skin is the driest, and then work it in with my flick brush so it gets down where it needs to be. I’ve found that doing this a few times a week, along with regular brushing, helps keep the dandruff down until I can give her a proper bath.

And those are all the tools, brushes, and products that I use on a regular basis in my grooming box! I hope this post gives you an idea of my daily routine and maybe helps you out if you’re shopping for your first grooming kit. What brushes and products do you use to groom your horse? Let me know in the comments!