Category Archives: Team Big Dee’s

The Fledgling Foxhunter’s Riding Accident

Redefining the Riding Accident

In nearly 25 years of riding and numerous unplanned dismounts; I can cite only 4 incidents in which I was actually hurt beyond just shaking it off and moving on. Up until just last year I never understood that there really can just be a riding “accident”. I had always just thought a fall was a fall, regardless of what the ultimate cause was. My two most recent experiences redefined the term “riding accident” for me. I now refer to a riding accident as one of which neither you, nor your horse has any control over the ultimate outcome. The lack of control fundamentally changed the way I feel about riding. It is not just the rather rude introduction to fear on a level that I am not particularly familiar with, but also one of enlightenment in better understanding that a riding accident really can happen at any time for any reason.

A learning experience

In both occasions two well trained and obedient horses, which had been in regular work suddenly wiped out while working at the canter.  Last year’s fall was with my then 6 year old horse. I never had falling while competing in the dressage phase on my radar. My anxiety always surrounded the possibility of a fall out on cross country. It was a great example for rule book roulette. It turns out that in USEA eventing dressage you can choose to continue if your horse falls (EV136.1.d). The fall was dramatic but it was on grass and I did not take a direct hit to my head.  I was scared more so than hurt and worried more that my horse may have suffered any injury than myself. In the next few rides I felt anxiety to canter on a 20 meter circle and was hyper aware that my horse just did not seem quite right. He underwent a full lameness evaluation with the veterinarian and we came up with a plan based on his individual needs which included corrective shoeing, a change in primary discipline and additional therapies to help him gain strength in areas where he was lacking.

A bad fall

I have never had anxiety on hunting mornings, the way that I had experienced anxiety running cross country. Just three weeks ago I suffered another fall at the canter.  I had been learning some of the ins and outs of Whipping-in for foxhunting and wanted to train my aged mare as a backup should my primary horse be unable to hunt. The hounds hit a line and we were cantering down a trail keeping an ideal position along with them. The trail was hard packed dry dirt. There was a very gentle curve but I did not notice any roots, rocks or other obstructions that would raise any sort of concern. My horse was balanced and comfortable when out of nowhere Continue reading The Fledgling Foxhunter’s Riding Accident

The Scoop on Custom Tall Riding Boots

The Scoop on Custom Tall Riding Boots – Fitting and Selection

With Big Dee’s Custom Boot Event kicking into full swing this week, I thought it would be a great time to give your the scoop on custom tall riding boots and my recent ordering experience!

Why are Tall Boots Important?

Custom Tall Riding Boots to complete the tweed ensemble
The perfect outfit I have been dreaming of includes a classic tweed jacket, beautiful brown tall boots and a smart brown helmet.

Regardless of your riding interests and style, everyone has that perfect picture in their mind of how we would love to look and feel in the saddle. I envision myself in a classic ensemble that includes a tweed hacking jacket, rich brown boots and a smart brown helmet. Beyond the obvious fashion aspect there is more to a good quality boot. For me, my boots and helmet are the only two things that I really must have in order to feel safe and confident while riding a horse. Tall boots are a key transmitter in the language between you and your horse through your leg aids. Undoubtedly the comfort and fit of your tall riding boots can make or break your ride all together. Whether they are too tall, too tight, too small in the foot, too sloppy in the leg, or perhaps just too old, battered and broken; we’ve all been there, that moment when you decide enough is enough and you’ve got to find something better.

Why choose custom?

Last spring my schooling boots failed beyond repair, and I started wearing my Tredstep Field Boots. They are beautiful, fit me like a glove and had previously been reserved for use only while showing and foxhunting. In an effort to ensure their continuing good looks I knew I should get another pair of tall boots to take up the brunt of my daily wear.  Despite being able to shop through an extensive offering of top name brand tall boots in both brown and black, finding an off-the shelf Continue reading The Scoop on Custom Tall Riding Boots

The Fledgling Foxhunter’s Gift Guide

With a busy shopping week ahead, I thought I would share out some great gift giving ideas for foxhunting enthusiasts just in time for the sales to start over at www.bigdweb.com. There are many items essential to foxhunting that can be really quite difficult to acquire. More specifically, specialty appointments such as vintage stag handled hunting whips, tweed hacking jackets, sandwich cases and flasks. It takes time and skill to find these in good condition. However, time is of the essence and the gift still has to be great. Don’t despair, I’ve put together a hand picked selection of ready to ship items that are sure to be used and appreciated.  A gift guide fill of ideas that will actually contribute to the enjoyment of life before, during and after the hunt.  Shop the Entire Collection Now or read on!

Continue reading The Fledgling Foxhunter’s Gift Guide

Breyer Horse Collecting

 

Breyer Horse Collecting

Every one of us has seen the shelves of Breyer Horses in the tack store. Many have bought  at least one of these model horses either for ourselves or for a young horse enthusiast. Some even classify themselves  as a collector. These life-like horses captivated me when I first began riding horses at age 9. I could not have a horse of my own, so I delighted in choosing my favorite Breyers that exemplified my dream horses. I made Christmas lists and saved up my own money to buy that beautiful model of Huckleberry Bey with his flowing mane and animated trot. My father built me a shelf where I displayed them all and kept them meticulously dusted. Breyer Horses hold a special place in my heart. To get these models to their finalized state it takes a lot of work by many people.

After a particular horse is decided on for a new Breyer mold, drawings and photographs  are used to create the perfect position. A wire armature is made to make the position three-dimensional and finalize the pose. Clay is sculpted overtop of the wire in order to make the cast. The sculpture can take around 3 months to complete all the intricate details. Breyer horses are cast in two halves and are hollow inside (with the exception of stablemates which are solid).  The halves are attached, sanded and cleaned. After that, each model is hand painted by multiple artists. Airbrushes are used for base colors and larger details. Small airbrushes and paint brushes help with detailing on eyes, hooves, brands and chestnuts. They are all packaged in a custom made box with information on the model.

Sketch from Breyerhorse.com on the creation of a Breyer Horse
Sketch from Breyerhorse.com on the creation of a Breyer Horse

Since there is so much that goes into each model and so many hands have added details to each horse, it is inevitable that there are differences. Each model is unique. There can be various differences that can cause an individual model to be worth more or more sought after. The quality of the paint job can vary from horse to horse. Collectors look for crisp markings, smooth paint job and no blending where separate colors touch. The eyes should be nicely detailed and glossy. In models that are coated in a glossy finish, collectors make sure it is an even coat with no embedded lint. Most of the models released by Breyer are a matte finish. A few special editions are glossy. Once in a while, a few individuals get sent out with the wrong finish. Sometimes models get changed slightly in the middle of their run, making the older one more rare and valuable.

Breyer Springtime Filly

Some models are created with the intention of variation. The Indian Pony, was released with various colorful painted symbols and some were done with a different base coat. More recently released was the AQHA 75th anniversary model. This model was released in 6 colors and some were more rare than others.  Still available at Big Dee’s is the Springtime filly, a cute red dun pinto filly, who was released in three patterns. This creates more sought after variations of models for collections.

Collectors usually have a theme to what they collect. Some focus on a certain mold (various paint jobs are given to the same mold), breed or color of horses. There are also collectors who participate in shows where they bring models they own, have created a scene with, or have painted or resculpted. These shows can be live or through photographs. Models can be repainted, repositioned, or re sculpted by artists. Other people are casual collectors and have only their favorites. A large amount of horse lovers have (or had when they are young) at least one Breyer horse. They are a wonderful introduction for kids to the world of horses.

Breyer 2016 Holiday Horse

Use this holiday season to gift a wonderful hobby and instill a love of all things equine!

Click here to shop all Breyer Horses and accessories

The Fledgling Foxhunter – First Time Out

Ride along with me, The Fledgling Foxhunter, with each adventure I hope to share with you some insight from the beginners’ perspective of subjects including what to expect while out foxhunting, foxhunting fashion, etiquette in the field, pre-and-post hunt realities and socializing for the anti-social.

Riders perspective of Foxhunting
First time foxhunting – Chagrin Valley Hunt –  October 2014

My first soiree with foxhunting was a single ride two years ago. The second first time was SO much easier, but since this is all about the first time out I will openly admit that I had no idea what to expect. I luckily found an acquaintance that had hunted before and she put me in contact with The Chagrin Valley Hunt. I sent a cordial email to the main email address, requesting permission to ride along. I eagerly awaited a response that would assure my participation, and was invited to an “open day” by Joint Master Laura Mock. I was so excited to hear back with a date, time and a “fixture” which is the land on which the meet takes place. Some fixtures are regarded as more beginner friendly, if you can’t make it to an open day, be forthcoming with the masters or secretary about your level of experience and make arrangements to ride a fixture that is most suitable for your first time out. I inquired back as to the appropriate attire and turnout for an open day and was instructed that casual riding attire was expected (think clinic attire), tall boots or paddocks and half chaps, helmet, any sort of saddle and a clean unbraided horse.

Continue reading The Fledgling Foxhunter – First Time Out

The Fledgling Foxhunter – Transformation

The Chagrin Valley Hunt
Masters and staff of The Chagrin Valley Hunt www.thecvhunt.org

Ride along with me, The Fledgling Foxhunter. With each adventure I hope to share with you some insight from the beginners’ perspective of subjects including what you can expect the first time out, foxhunting fashion, etiquette in the field, pre-and-post hunt realities and socializing for the anti-social.

As a suburb dwelling, horse obsessed, pre-teen in the early 90’s, the classic hunt scene prints found in most any antique shop were about as close as I could get to a horse. At the age of 12 my family moved to a small 5 acre plot of land and naturally, when my mother took me to the local interior design shop to pick out wallpaper for my new bedroom, I instantly fell in love with a hunting series by Ralph Lauren. For nearly 15 years my days started and ended surrounded in warm brown tweed, hunt scenes and a pattern of rich brown saddles and crops covering my walls. It was not until two years ago that I finally found the courage to live out my teenage dreams in the world of horses and hounds. My first experience foxhunting was every-single-thing that I had dreamed it could be. It was all I could talk about for weeks, and though I loved it with every part of my being, my horse was young and I had other competitive ambitions to tackle before succumbing to the addiction that is fox hunting.

After a rough end to last year’s eventing season, Continue reading The Fledgling Foxhunter – Transformation

The growing pains of eventing or How not to event – Jessica R.

Stone Gate Farm August Mini Trial Schooling Day – Tackling the growing pains of eventing
or “How not to event”.

How Not To Event
Employee and Team Big Dee’s Member Jess R demonstrating “How not to event” during cross country schooling at Stone Gate Farm in August

For those of you who have been following along with the progress of my 5 year old gelding Paladin – Despite a few growing pains we’ve had an enjoyable summer of eventing with lots of growth for both of us. The spring started out with placing 8th in the starter 2’ division at the Winona Horse Trials in May. After a brief tendon scare that put us a bit behind in June we moved up to the Beginner Novice division at the Hackamore Farm mini trial in July and scored a 4th place finish. Unfortunately due to the excessive rain the cross country course was shortened significantly and I was not able to get a good feel of his overall fitness to be able to go a full cross country course at our new level, but continued on with conditioning and entered the Stone Gate Farm mini trial which was held on August 2nd. Despite Paladins bravery at Winona, I chose to school Hackamore since we were moving up a level and in doing so I learned that my young guy still needs more miles and more exposure to the various obstacles that are found out on cross country at the 2’6” level. For this reason I also chose to school Stone Gate on the Saturday before the event.

Schooling day was a pleasant and sunny 82 degrees and as always Stone Gate Farm offered an enjoyable mix of people, horses and dogs to greet us. I had a couple close friends who were going to be competing in the starter division along to school their horses and we had a pup and two husbands to serve as our ground people. I flipped on the mycoursewalk app and we all Continue reading The growing pains of eventing or How not to event – Jessica R.

Horse Show Mom

jena

I’ve decided that being a horse show mom is not for the faint of heart!

As I packed my car with everything from horse treats to chaps I kept wondering how I was going to see out of my windows on the highway! Three hours and four stops later we arrived at the fairgrounds with game faces on.

Horse stalls were bedded, tack and dressing stalls were set up, we had all ridden at least once in the show ring, tack had been cleaned and the horses had been bathed and fed. I sat down for the first time in hours. My kids were still going strong. My 13 year old son was going to put on his hat and “look for ladies” and my 8 year daughter just wanted to ride “one more time”! I needed a cocktail. However, none of that was going to happen   if we don’t find our hotel – we might have been sleeping with the horses.

Show day started at 6:30am. Horses were fed, lunged, saddled and ready for the day. My son and I were first up; amateur to ride western pleasure.  I have been riding for at least thirty-nine years and somehow forget what to do every time I go through that gate (have you ever seen SpongeBob when he goes for a driving test? – that’s me).  There was also a HUGE flock of pigeons in this arena – I’m fairly certain that I had crossed into some kind of horror film. Thank goodness my son has a better head on his shoulders (and no fear of birds) – he placed first. I managed to stay astride my horse and got a second!

My daughter was up next; her first time in walk trot and I was a nervous wreck! I was sure that the pigeons were going to attack, she was going to fall off and I wouldn’t be able to get my plus size behind over the fence to get to her fast enough! I paced the entire time, so busy fretting, I didn’t even notice that she had done really well and placed second!

We showed throughout the ninety degree day. I had worn  so many hats  – I was a gopher (moommmm, I forgot my gloves), a doctor (moommm, I fell off my bike and scraped my knee), a groom, a competitor, a lunch go-getter (moommmm, I’m so hungry, I can’t make it!), a tough guy (get out of the mud – you have to show in a little while) and so many more. My head hurts just thinking about it.

Later in the evening at the hotel, with bellies full and clean smelling  – I looked over and found my kids laughing with each other. That is what it is all about. No matter how much I had sweat, how much money had been spent or how many times I had heard the word mom – I wouldn’t trade that moment for anything in the world!

Moving Up: Part II – Jessica R.

Hackamore Farms Horse Trial – Part II: Competition Day

Competition day had arrived for the Hackamore Farm Mini Trial held in North Jackson, Ohio which is part of the Northeast Ohio Mini Trail Series (NEOMTA). This was my competition of choice to make my move with Paladin up to the Beginner Novice 2’7” division, after completing the Winona Horse Trials in the Starter 2’ division successfully in May. My dressage ride was not until 12:48pm. I turned Paladin out at 6am with his barn buddies to get some pre-show grazing in while I finished up packing the truck and trailer and had breakfast with my family. At 10am I brought everyone in got busy bathing and grooming him for the show. After weeks of heavy rain we were very lucky to stay dry the 2 days preceding the event. Everyone was blessed as event day brought sunshine and temps right around 80 degrees. A forecast of afternoon storms had me hoping to stay dry, but expecting to get wet as I tossed an extra set of clothes, towels,  an umbrella and mud shoes in the truck. We loaded up and made the short 30 minute drive over to Hackamore Farm.

Upon checking in I was informed that the entire back half of the cross country course had been closed off due to the degrading footing and the optimum time had gone from around four and a half minutes down to 1 minute 59 seconds. With that news my stress level was reduced to no more than that of a normal schooling day. When I had schooled the course on Friday, both the fence that I deemed my “trash talk” fence and the water crossing that my horse was uninterested in making for me, were both in the back half of the course. I knew that I was no longer facing certain elimination which made for a much more enjoyable time on my part. Continue reading Moving Up: Part II – Jessica R.

Moving Up: Part I – Jessica R.

 Hackamore Farms Horse Trial – Part I: Schooling Day

 

It has been 7 years since the last time I competed at the Beginner Novice show level with my full Clydesdale mare “Honey”. It seemed a bit fitting and nostalgic to finally re-enter this show division on her son Paladin. Paladin is a 5 year old Clydesdale x Saddlebred gelding who was purpose-bred to be my new event horse. After Paladins completion at the Winona Horse Trial in the Starter 2’ division, I felt like we were ready to move up into the Beginner Novice, 2’7” division.  The move up would not offer any change in the difficulty of the dressage test. Also since we had been Continue reading Moving Up: Part I – Jessica R.