Saturday, June 23, 2012

Seriously Needing Your Advice

I know I don't deserve it. I've been a terrible blogger. I'm way behind on my reading and commenting (and don't think I don't miss it - I do). But here's the thing. We really need to buy an arena rake right now. We need it to rake and level the turn outs we're building for our new facility, and when it's (the facility) built the rake will be used for raking the arena. From personal experience and also from the survey I did in 2011 I know that footing is the # 1 thing people are concerned about when picking a facility. Soooo..... there are hundreds of products on the the market. We have a small John Deere tractor (32 horse power). Do you have any advice for me regarding what the rake capabilities should be? Do you have any advice for me regarding a rake to buy (links? product specs?)? Here are a few things I've learned that I should think about, just as examples:
  • We need to be able to host different disciplines, and this requires different depths of footing. Also, we've had an inquiry about dog agility and they want a fairly firm footing. So a rake that enables custom 'finishes' is needed
  • It is very labour intensive and time consuming to hand shovel the built up footing along the side of the arena back into the worn 'track'. A rake that could pull the edge back into the track would be very appreciated.
You guys are the experts and you've never let me down! I've learned so much from you. If you have any thoughts / ideas on things we need to keep in mind for a rake, or a product to recommend, please let me know. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Meet Our New Broodmare

I've been incredibly busy working on the horse facility / business Doug and I are starting, so blogging has taken a back seat for the time being :( We're clearing the site, working with an engineer on the arena (a change is coming there), promoting the business for 2013, etc., etc. If you've been reading for a while you'll know this business first entered my head in early 2011, as a means to afford an indoor for ourselves. I wanted a good place to ride and take lessons with Rogo, and our other horses, in the winter. Having our own place seemed like the only solution. Having it make enough money to pay for itself was the next objective, so here we are.

Our business plan calls for the following services:

  • facility rental (indoor and outdoor) for small (starting with 40 stalls) competitions and clinics

  • a small amount of boarding

  • breeding

  • dressage and jumping lessons from Sue Fraser, level 3 Equine Canada coach, and dressage lessons from Jane Fraser, FEI rider and reknowned clinician 

When I write it out like that, it seems like a lot, but it all fits together nicely in a synergistic package in our business plan. We got financing through Farm Credit Canada, so it made sense to them :) If anyone is interested in our equine business planning approach I'm more than happy to tell you about it in detail. Just send me an email - carol@fivefires.ca with the subject line 'business planning' so I won't think it's spam :)

Anyway, back to the mare. We bought her in partnership with my friend Alison Kelland, also a dressage rider who has successfully bred very nice warm bloods for years.

Her name is SPA/EM Diotima (Donnerschlag Melodie/Matrose). Here is the sales write up for her:

Diotima is an Elite Hanoverian mare. Prior to importation from Germany, she received her “1A” prize and gained “SPA” (states premium candidate) status. After producing her first foal in the USA, she completed all requirements to acheive her “EM” status. She embarked on a very successful showing career in hand, winning another “1A” prize and Reserve Grand Champion of the Mid-Atlantic Hanoverian Breeder’s mare show in 2007. In 2008 she showed at Dressage at Devon to place 3rd out of 16 in the Broodmare class with a score of 80.7%, placing just behind Iron Springs Farm’s Rabiola (2006 Grand Champion and 2007 Reserve Grand Champion at Devon) and Hilltop Farm’s Cha Cha (2008 Reserve Grand Champion at Devon) and just ahead of M.Ecloir (Grand Champion at Devon in 2002). In 2008 Diotima ended the year in 5th place for broodmares competing in USDF shows. In 2009 at Fairhill I and II she was Champion Mare and Champion Mature Horse at both shows. Diotima’s sire Donnerschlag was a successful Grand Prix competitor, as well as producing many successful Grand Prix horses such as Dr. Snuggles, Don Androsso and Donnerwind. Diotima is completely sounds and could be ridden. She is very fertile and catches on the first try with fresh or frozen semen.

I'm educating myself on Hanoverians, so I hope you won't think it's patronizing if I tell you Elite is the highest rating for mares. I'm thrilled that we were able to find such a nice mare, and one we could afford together. She is in Ontario and I'm in Nova Scotia. She has an April 2012 foal by her side (already sold), so we won't ship her to NS until the fall, after the foal is weaned. We'll try to breed her soon though, so I'll keep you posted on that.

Here is her picture:

 That's my news. Hope you like her. I CAN'T WAIT to meet her!!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Test Riding Clinic

Rogo and I rode in a test riding clinic last weekend, and rode Level One, test one. We scored 60+, as we did at the show, and got some great pointers. Once again Rogo was VERY forward :), so I'm going to have to work on getting more response to half halts and down transitions.
The big learning things from the clinic and this test were:
  • on the 'at E circle left 10 m to X, circle right 10 m to B', I was riding the first half of the circle too small and the second half too big. Watch for C as soon as I start to turn and ride to the center line for the half circle.
  • Rogo can do a straight entry and square halt, but often cocks one leg, ruining what would be an 8. I have to keep my legs lightly on to keep him ready, but not enough that he starts to fidget - a fine line :)
  • on the entry - and I have to relearn this every show - make SURE I'm lined up with C. I tend to go to the left, and drift left as I proceed, but straight on the center line is well within our range, so don't give it away.
We do fairly well at showing a difference before and after lengthenings in trot and canter, but we need more practice coming back from lengthened canter. Rogo would prefer to keep the bigger gait, and I can't be sure he won't just keep going when he heads down the long side :)
Given his exhuberance in canter, I'm happy to say he doesn't break to canter in the trot lengthening, which is odd, because when we school he always wants to, and continually tries to, canter all the time once he's cantered.
Our big downfall was that in left lead canter he switched his back legs (disunited?). It felt rough so I looked down and saw his front legs were correct, so I kept going. A stride or two later it was smooth again, so I forgot about it and continued on. Apparently when it went smooth, he switched in front as well, so now he was in counter canter, which I carried over to the next movement getting 2's on two movements. He counter canters so smoothly and easily that he'll go right into the corners, turn across the diagonal, etc. effortlessly. I know I should feel it, but when the roughness disappeared and I had just glanced down a second before to ensure his front legs told me his lead was correct, I just didn't realize. I'll have to develop a better feel for this.
Here are some pictures:







And here are some adorable puppies, Lucy and Ethel, trying to figure out how to get cute and tired Andrew to keep playing with them :)