Group trail rides at dude ranches are not my thing. There are a few exceptions of course. My husband and I booked a trail ride in Belize that took us to some Mayan ruins; that was fun. I also took a private trail ride in Scotland; again, fun times. There was also that weeklong, point to point ride I did in Ireland. That was more than fun. But generally, the nose to tail thing just doesn't float my boat.
Being six feet above the ground connected to tree trunk legs kind of changes your outlook on trail rides. Suddenly, nose to (bobbed) tail rides look like a lot of fun.
Over the weekend, my husband and I joined three other couples for a trail ride at the Covell Clydesdale Ranch in Cambria. We booked the trip more than a month ago, not really sure what it entailed. None of us were disappointed.
The Covell ranch covers approximately 2,000 acres of rolling hills above the tiny coastal village of Cambria. The ranch has approximately 50 head of cattle and nearly 70 Clydesdales. The horses range in age from yearlings to old timers living out their retirement years. The working string is currently made up of 10 Clydesdales, mares and geldings, but a few others are being trained to join the team.
After getting all of us checked in, Tara, the ranch owner's daughter, gave everyone a quick tutorial in how to ride the horses. Each Clydesdale is taught to drive, that is their original purpose after all, and they are ridden like driving horses. Tara showed everyone the technique of slide, grab, and pull. We were directed to slide one hand down the rein, grab it, and pull it straight back to ask the horse to turn. To stop, you have to slide both reins through one hand, and then pull straight back with a rein in each hand.
The horses do not work off of the rider's seat or legs which meant no leg yielding or steering with your seat. Turning was also a challenge as an open rein did nothing. It took some concentration to turn left and right, not to mention a lot of room, but once I got the feel for it, I was quite delighted with how responsive my girl was.
After a few minutes of practice, Eileen turned out to be very soft in the bridle and wiling to listen to the quietest of aids; not all dude horses are that sensitive. With only the slightest wiggle of my calves, she broke into an easy trot. To come back down to a walk, I simply picked up both reins. What a lovely mare she was!
In the nearly 30 years that we've been together, my husband has ridden maybe a half a dozen times. Considering that his actual saddle time is pretty limited, he's listened to me long enough that he's picked up a decent skill set. At well over 6 feet tall, it was fun to see him look small on a horse.
The horses were trained to stay more or less in line, but Tara said that we were welcome to ride side by side. Most of the horses were happiest following one after the other. We did do a few trot sets and were even given the go ahead to trot up the final climb to the top of the hill. I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth Eileen was. We were all in western saddles of course, but even so, I was able to do a tiny rising trot and never felt as though Eileen's gait was too big to stay with.
If you live anywhere within a hundred miles of California's central coast, you should look up the Covell Ranch. Tara has done a great job with her Clydesdales. They were all well trained, their feet looked great, and each horse looked healthy and happy in their work. You can find the Covell Clydesdales on Facebook and Instagram.
Well, two actually. As promised, I kept it simple. I wrote down everyone's names and my husband picked a winner, one at a time.
Last week, Roeckl sent me two gift certificates to share with whomever might be interested in owning a new pair of gloves. My personal favorites are the Lona Two Tone Roeck-Grip gloves, but the gift certificates are for whichever style you'd like to try.
Keeping it old school, I wrote everyone's name down on a slip of paper. It took me a while though because as I wrote down your names, I visited your blogs/websites if you had one, and then I found myself reading instead of writing.
Once I was sure I hadn't missed anyone, the hunt was on for a suitable container from which to pull two names; I didn't want to use just anything. Then I remembered that one of my sweetest students had given me a small gift last week, so I dug out her gift bag; it was the perfect size.
My husband was happy to pick names out of a bag, and he even suggested I video it. He's normally pretty shy, so I am not sure why the sudden interest in being a film star. I told him no to the video and to just pick already. Drumroll please ...
Thank you to everyone for commenting and sharing your experiences with Roeckl. I sure do love the gloves myself. Of course, now I want a pair of the white Lisboa; they come with Swarovski Crystals on the backhand. Who doesn't need those for showing?
Stephanie, your certificate is in the mail. Alanna, I've sent you an email.
Last week, I shared some pictures of my colleagues' kids hanging out with Speedy at our last show of the year. If you missed the post, check it out if only to see how cute those girls were.
One morning last week, I found two of the above cutie pies standing outside of my classroom door just as our morning bell was ringing. Before I knew it, one of the girls had shrugged off her obviously heavy back pack and excitedly chirped that she had brought me some candy.
I am not going to lie, I cringed inwardly since I am on a weight loss marathon and am doing my best to avoid all candy and sweets. I smiled anyway and eagerly asked what kind. She quickly clarified that it was candy for Speedy - the kind he likes.
At the show, the girls had laughed in surprise when I handed them some candies to feed him. They didn't realize he liked real candy. They of course enjoyed a piece right along with Speedy.
Seriously. Is that not the cutest thing you've seen today? It's kids like these that keep me coming back for more. I can't wait to see what Speedy thinks of the cinnamon flavor. He's a pig when it comes to candy. Wait until I slip him the sour apple one!
You still have time to comment on Monday's post for a chance to win a pair of Roeckl gloves.
There are so many glove choices out there, but since I started riding in Roeckls more than six years ago, I haven't ridden in anything else. I know they're a wee bit pricey, but they are worth every penny. Just as an aside, Riding Warehouse is having a 20% off everything sale through today, so if you want a pair of Roeckls RIGHT NOW, you can get them for $39.96.
Besides the cute color combinations - I've had the navy with white (twice) and the black with brown, I love how they actually feel like skin. My skin. Once they're on, I completely forget that I'm wearing them. I can wear these all year long, too, even in our brutal summer heat. They're breathable, and they stay flexible even after washing. Oh, yeah, I throw these in the washing machine (air dry though), and they come out like brand new.
I've owned 6 pairs of Roeckls over the years; I even have a white pair for showing. My every day pair is navy with white piping, but I've been lusting after a pair of black with red piping. Guess what showed up in my mailbox the other day?
Since I am such a fan of these gloves, a Roeckl rep contacted me recently and asked if I would do a giveaway. Are you kidding? Of course! I love these gloves and am happy to share the love!
I rarely do giveaways, I think I've done two?, but this company makes a product that I truly love, so I am happy to spread the word. Since I don't do complicated, the rules for this giveaway are pretty simple.
1) The giveaway will run between now and Friday, September 7th.
2) Head over to Facebook and "Like" their page - Roeckl Equestrian.
3) Comment below and share whether or not you've owned a pair of Roeckl gloves (it won't affect your eligibility if you already love them). If you have, what did you like about them? If you haven't, why not?
4) Leave your email in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. No one else can see your email address.
5) Since I like simple, over the weekend, I'll write everyone's name down on a slip of paper and have my husband pull two names out of a hat (or whatever I find laying around).
I read several blogs that focus more on eventing than dressage. It's nice to get out of my own little space occasionally and see what the rest of the horsey world is up to. I've seen photos of course walks and enjoy seeing the jumps. The part that I've never seen is how big some of those places really are.
Twin Rivers Ranch covers about 500 acres, but just under 300 are used for the equestrian facility. Besides the cross country fields, there were seven dressage courts, what we assumed were stadium jumping rings, and a massive covered arena. For the RAAC, two of the dressage courts were moved up to where the covered arena is situated so that riders could warm up in the shade.
On Saturday evening, we walked down to part of the cross country course so that we could get a closer look at some of the jumps. I only took a few pictures, but I am guessing there were at least 200 jumps out there, probably more.
One of the first jumps that had us all giggling in terror was a massive Trakehner - I had to google that. I had no idea what it was called. This thing was so big and deep that it seemed impossible that it was designed for horses.
We could tell that there were three sizes for different levels, but the only difference seemed to be how deep the ditch beneath it was. All of them were identical in size front to back.
We walked through many of the water complexes, they were dry, but even those were huge and equally terrifying. Occasionally one of us would spot something that looked kind of sort of maybe doable. And then we'd walk up to it and think, nope.
I bet you could train every day at this facility and not jump the same jump twice in a week. To all the eventers out there, you have serious balls.
I just realized this, but I did get a photo of the covered arena. It's behind Chemaine in the photo above. You can also see one of the two dressage courts that they set up for the RAAC.
By the time we got back to our house rental, we were all a bit hot and tired. I am not sure if all course walks are that long, but again, eventers, you guys are not only ballsy, but a bit nuts.
It takes all kinds.
Show news is coming, I promise, but I need time to write it up. In the meantime ...
I don't wear a watch during the day because I am really hard on them. I break the face or the band, and batteries wear out almost as soon as I put one on. I do wear a watch at the barn though. The last barn watch my husband bought me is probably close to ten years old. I can't even remember when he gave it to me. I loved that watch.
Blue Watch was a lot like Blue Truck - they're both reliable and hard working. Well, at least Blue Truck is. Blue Watch started out by losing its band keeper. I solved that annoyance by substituting a keeper from a pair of rubber spur straps. That actually worked for several months.
Not long after, I realized that the hole that I wear Blue Watch on was sliced nearly through. The band was holding on, but I knew that its days were limited. The very next time I wore it, the band tore completely in half. Not one to give up, I duct taped it together, but duct tape doesn't hold too well when it's 5 billion degrees.
I said a little prayer over Blue Watch's pieces and promptly ordered the exact same watch, but this time in white.
Almost immediately, a friend started teasing me, asking why I didn't just buy Blue Watch a new band. I rolled my eyes. The watch was under $40. It wasn't worth spending money on a band. But then I started wearing White Watch during the day while I wasn't at the barn, and I decided that I really liked White Watch and didn't want to get it dirty.
I ordered a new band for Blue Watch.
The band was only $12 plus a wee bit for shipping. I googled "How to Change a Watch Band," got a mini screw driver, and prepared myself for a DIY project. Whomp, whomp. My husband and I both gave it a good college try, but neither of us was able to attach the new band.
Having forked out the 12 bucks and a bit more for shipping, I wasn't about to quit on Blue Watch. I tossed all of the pieces into a Ziploc baggie and found a jewelry store. The guy there gave it a try and shrugged his shoulders. Nope.
One of the ladies at the jewelry store pulled me aside as I was leaving and suggested I check out a local watch repair store at the mall (that I hadn't been to in more than 10 years). Guess what? That guy was a band attaching genius!
I can't tell you how good it was to have Blue Watch back. I love that watch. Its chronograph is easy to use while I am riding, and I actually know how to set the time and date. So, from watch pieces to two watches, I am liking wearing a watch during the day. Since I am pretty hard on watches, I don't know how long White Watch will last.
The bigger question is how much longer do you think Blue Watch's battery can last?!
Thanks to living in one of the hottest places on Earth, my boys have lost nearly all their hair. There is just enough to cover the skin, barely - it's almost like a full body comb over.
As the show season winds down, I am desperately trying to keep Speedy's hair on his body. Each time I groom him, I pull a few more hairs to the ground. I've started noticing that all of his many scars are showing themselves.
Some of them I remember, but most illicit the where'd you get THAT one?!?! response. I am trying to keep him show presentable, but it's getting harder by the day. Izzy is no better. Not only is he also dropping hair like a tree loses leaves in Autumn, but his coat has faded to a color that I no longer recognize.
I like to use a rubber jelly scrubber to lift off the dirt and gunk, but there's not enough hair on either boy for the scrubber to scrub. I hardly even need to use a brush - their hair is that thin.
It's not like I am looking forward to winter, but I'll be happy when their winter coats start growing in. At least they won't look like I am beating them with sharp objects.
Have you heard? Season two of last summer's binge worthy Free Rein is coming back on Netflix. It starts July 6th. I'll be on vacation, more on that in a few days, but you can bet I'll be checking it out as soon as we get back.
Who's with me? If you haven't seen season one, you've got time as there were only ten short episodes. As soon as I am back from vacation, I'll definitely be watching!
When I shared this photo the other day, I realized that I've been sharing a lot of these lately. These bucks and kicks are not hard to sit, and I in no way feel out of control. These are just Speedy's way of saying, quit asking me to work so dang hard!
I wish I had taken screen shots from our earliest rides because I know there have been many, many more of these physical expressions of his opinion. The dude doesn't have a middle finger, but who needs one when you can do that?
Have a great weekend!
The only birthdays I can remember besides my own and my husband's are one of the dogs' birthdays and Speedy's. The other dog and Izzy get forgotten every time. Frankly, the only reason I remember the birthdays that I do is because Tobi's is the day before mine, and Speedy's is on tax day, April 15th.
The thing is, I like celebrating my four-legged family members' birthdays. I don't go all wild and crazy about them, and in fact, I don't really do anything extra special, but I still enjoy the day. For me, there's a weird sense of accomplishment in having an animal for its entire life, and I love checking off yet another year. Izzy's special day was last Monday, May 14th.
Izzy came to me as a six-year-old, nearly an adult. In reality he was still a baby with a lot of growing up to do. Those first few years with him were tough ones. First, I had to deal with the leg that suffered that terrible laceration, and then I had to cope with all the I don't wanna attitude.
This birthday, his tenth, has revealed a more mature and confident horse. Speedy did the same thing except I had to wait a lot longer before I had a horse I enjoyed. I bought Speedy as a three-year-old, so it took nearly seven years before I really liked him enough to pull down the for sale sign.
While Izzy is probably not completely finished with the temper tantrums and sassy attitude, they're definitely becoming few and far between. Even at fourteen Speedy still likes to flip me the bird.
I've said many times that I hope to never purchase another three-year-old, four-year-old, or even an 8-year-old. Make mine a ten-year-old, and you've got yourself a deal!