I have been an employee of Big Dee's Tack since 1999 and an at-home horse owner since 1992. I was immersion trained into horsemanship at the age of 11 by my parents, when we moved from our suburban home to a 5 acre hobby farm. They purchased a 3 month old Clydesdale filly, handed me her lead rope and a couple of books on horse training and care. It became my responsibility to raise, train and care for her. Though I don't think I would ever choose this method of teaching horsemanship to my own son, I am ever thankful for their foresight in requiring me to find my own way. I absolutely love the challenge of bringing along a foal, weanling or young horse from the very foundations of training, through to successful competition. Over the years I have been competitive in showing draft horses, open pleasure shows, hunter under saddle, hunter breeding, USEA future event horse, USDF sport horse in-hand, local mini trials and for the first time this year USEA a recognized event. I had aspired to qualify for and compete at the American Eventing Championships with my current event horse Paladin, however after a rough spring we are currently enjoying foxhunting.
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?
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 shelfContinue reading The Scoop on Custom Tall Riding Boots→
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!
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.
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.
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.
Stone Gate Farm August Mini Trial Schooling Day – Tackling the growing pains of eventing
or “How not to event”.
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.
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.→
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.→
In the past 13 years I’ve had many competitive streaks in eventing at the Beginner Novice level in our local Northeast Ohio Mini Trial Series. It has always been a very well known goal of mine to compete at a recognized event, but sadly I have never had the ideal opportunity to try. Whether due to health, family, finances or issues getting my full draft mare fit enough to submit an entry, there has always been something that kept me from taking that plunge into recognized eventing. After years of pondering what sort of draft cross I wanted, I decided upon breeding my mare to make a Georgian Grande. After 11 months of waiting queue the birth of my #dreamhorse Paladin. After years of dedicated prep, training to build his confidence and tons of shows to acclimate him to what I love to do, Paladin is now 5 and no longer a “baby, it’s officially time to get busy.
I’ve never been one to just enter a show unprepared, this particular show was much earlier in the season than I would have preferred, but, I figured it was just the incentive I needed to get busy after a long winter off, my horses are kept at home and I do not have an arena to ride through the winter in. After posting entry to the Starter division we got right onto a regular training schedule. The week of the event Paladin suffered a Kick to his shoulder that left him standing in the stall for four days, but the vet Continue reading One Step at a Time: Jessica R.→
Up & Over Double Points Hunter show at Buckeye Horse Park, June 20th & 21st, 2015
When someone asks what discipline I best associate myself with, my first answer would be as an eventer. My answer as to what comes in 2nd is fast becoming the hunters. My first true and lasting experience with hunters was just last year when Paladin was 4. After his first two mini-trials, with less than ideal dressage scores, I wanted to give him some time to mature mentally. He really enjoyed the jumping phases and I decided that I wanted to find more opportunities to build his confidence over fences than just a stadium round here and there at the mini trials. I firmly believe that building a safe and reliable horse over fences, takes consistent steps to build confidence and trust through the lower heights. I figured that showing in the hunters would allow both of us to gain experience together and expand our horizons. I found the added difficulty of attempting to present a horse with a relaxed and steady way of going particularly challenging. Trying to ride like I know what I am doing is even more so, especially since historically my only goal in jumping was what I call the 3 S’s ((Stay on (rider), Stay up (rails) and Stay Sane (horse)). Last year we enjoyed showing in the cross-rails and 18” divisions, the lower heights really allowed us to get a feel for the ring and to better understand proper striding.
The Up & Over Hunter Jumper Association is an ideal fit for us. With shows scheduled around northeast ohio nearly every weekend of the summer, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and show at any height. Even though I still would not consider myself a “hunter”, I thoroughly enjoy the relaxed pace of the shows, the challenge of memorizing courses (without the aid of numbered fences) and meeting new friends. My attempts to ride “like a hunter” are generally futile Continue reading Expanding Horizons: Jessica R. for Team Big Dee’s→
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