August 14, 2016

Coming to Terms

When I first got Ypke back in 2012, I was a teenybopper. I had about three riding lessons under my belt and was a total beginner. Starting out, she was a complete saint. I could ride her bareback out in the pasture on a loose rein with zero issues, despite my floppy hands and inexperienced seat. Ypke didn't bat an eye at anything. She was about as close to beginner-friendly and bombproof as a horse could be.

Throwback to when I tried her out. 2012

But then, after about four months, something changed. At the time I was confused as to what happened, but now it is crystal clear: I was inexperienced, had zero confidence, and to make matters worse I was tiny. I didn't know that at the time, but she sure figured it out.

It started out small, but gradually progressed. While leading her and asking her to halt, she would take a couple extra steps before stopping. When I would attempt to pick up her hoof, she would refuse and begin to paw. Whenever I was leading her, she would try to drag me towards the pasture gate. As I rode, she completely ignored me and did whatever she wanted to do. Ypke was too smart for her own good, and she realized I wouldn't do anything about it.

Pro tip: If you don't know how to properly hold reins, you aren't ready to          
buy a horse yet. (Though I don't regret the purchase!) 2012.

As I was working with her the other day a sudden realization hit me: the constant struggles had been gone for awhile. While of course not everything is sunshine and rainbows, I can actually fully enjoy riding now and not have to worry about every little thing being a constant battle.

Ypke is definitely the kind of horse who you have to earn respect from. Maybe it was the clicker training. Maybe it's because now I'm 5'10" and not a 4'10" teenybopper. Or maybe it is because I finally decided to have some confidence. Somehow, I think I must have finally earned it. It took over two years, but it happened.

I look sold on her, but she doesn't look too sold on me. 2012.

July 29, 2016

Jethro's Newest Trick: Lying Down

Jethro's trick toolbox previously consisted of fetching a Frisbee, putting a hoop over a cone, and dribbling a soccer ball. Now, he has a new one added: lying down.

tricking training horse to lie down

It is still a work in progress. He lays down on a blanket only right now, and weaning him off the blanket onto grass and arena footing is proving to be slightly difficult. The blanket is a very obvious, easy-to-understand location to lie down, which is why I think transitioning him to lie down without it has been a bit confusing for him (considering how he sees and walks on grass everyday). He lies down on the grass directly near the blanket, but never without the blanket present.

trick training horse to lie down

It has been taught purely through association and positive reinforcement/clicker training only. When I was first looking through tutorials, most of them involved ropes and pulling/pushing.  I knew he wouldn't like that very much, so I cast those tutorials aside and figured out a more suitable method. Personally, I don't really see the point in trick training if you force the animal to do the trick. I view it as a fun break from regular training, and something they should look forward too (via positive reinforcement, not force). He learned his other tricks within three 15 minutes a day sessions. This one has been a bit more difficult. I have done three 15 minutes a day sessions so far and am anticipating several more days until he has it nailed down without a blanket.

We will work through it though! As soon as everything is ironed out and consistently problem free I will write up a post with the details of how I taught the trick.

trick training horse to lie down

July 9, 2016

Saturday Stills and Catching Up

This year has been a crazy whirlwind of school, research, and traveling, thus causing Ypke and Jethro to sadly be put on the backburner. Research and traveling will be wrapped up within these next couple of weeks, so my regular weekly posting schedule should resume shortly. I've missed reading your blogs, looking forward to catching up soon!

 


January 29, 2016

Review: Frilly Fillies Custom Fly Bonnets

Frilly Fillies kindly sent Ypke a wonderful Christmas present - one of their custom fly bonnets.
 
Nancy, the lady behind the lovely bonnets, was an absolute joy to work with.  As we were about to end our phone call, she told me to look through her website and email her the colors that I would like.  Little did she know that I would spend over 45 minutes trying to wrap my mind around what I wanted.  In my defense, there are 25 base colors, 35 trim colors, and 35 piping colors - on top of that you can also choose from 3 styles (V, curved, and straight), checkered trim, embroidery, 4 different four-way stretch ear fabrics (knit jersey, velvet, Ice Fill, and small hole mesh), and 9 embellishment options (rhinestones, rivets, beads, and pearls). The possibilities are endless!
 
Custom Fly Bonnet
 
I opted to keep it classy and simple with a touch of sparkle.  I requested a black base, feza silver trim, and NS titanium piping and left the rest up to Nancy - she did not disappoint.  The bonnet arrived promptly, especially considering the busy holiday season, and my high expectations were exceeded.  I know the classic phrase, "never judge a book by its cover," but after seeing the cute yet professional packaging I knew that the bonnet it contained would be a winner. I was not wrong!

Custom Fly BonnetCustom Fly Bonnet
 
One of my biggest pet peeves is ordering something brand new and having it arrive with loose strings and imperfections.  I carefully examined the fly bonnet, searching for something to complain about, and I failed at finding any. I am sure that if I were to fold this bonnet in half it would be perfectly symmetrical - the quality of it cannot be beat. I actually visited a tack shop with a variety of fly bonnet brands to compare the Frilly Fillies one.  It beat out the other popular brands by FAR - the stitch was tighter, the yarn had much more substance, the material was softer, and the overall craftsmanship/look was superior.

Stitch: The stitch that Frilly Fillies used is tight and even - this is great since it doesn't get caught on everything or stretch out as easily. 

Yarn: The yarn used is fairly soft to the touch and has substance to it - definitely not thin and flimsy. Clearly of quality with high durability.

Cool mesh ear fabric: I LOVE THIS FEATURE! This is truly the most brilliant part of the bonnet.  I don't clip Ypke's ears because we have a major gnat problem around here, and since they avoid her fluffy ears like the plague I have no intention of trimming the hair.  As a result, her ears avidly sweat. They won't anymore!

Custom Fly Bonnet
 
Fit: Every bonnet is custom made to your horse's measurements - Frilly Fillies does not keep a stockpile of ready made bonnets. This is extremely convenient if you have a Fjord with a wide head and short ears.

Options: As I stated earlier, there are many different possibilities and color combinations.  You are guaranteed to find just what you are looking for! I already have my future bonnet colors picked out: hunter green base, feza gold trim, and FX #1003 piping.

Price: Prices for these bonnets start at $85, which from looking around I feel is average.  However, the materials used are definitely way above average - you cannot go wrong.

Customer service: Nancy was great to work with! While talking on the phone with her, she was super friendly, and she talked to me as if she had known me for years. It was obvious that she is very passionate about what she does. Her email responses were always quick, and the bonnet was shipped to me in a very timely manner.

Custom Fly Bonnet
 
Summary: With no loose threads, a tight stich, quality materials, custom fit, and great customer service, you really can't go wrong, especially since they are handmade in the USA. I will definitely purchase another color combination (or five...) someday in the future.

Bottom line: A customized look with a custom fit allows for Frilly Fillies to have a very elegant appearance.

Final rating: 11/10 and a spot on the blog's sidebar!

Stay up to date or place an order via the methods below:
Website: www.frillyfillies.com
Facebook: www.fb.com/frillyfillies
Instagram: @frilly_fillies

*Disclaimer: While I did receive the bonnet free of charge, that did not guarantee a positive review.  Though I cannot guarantee your experience will be the same, I can guarantee that this review is 100% my honest opinion and experiences - favorable reviews cannot be purchased here. Frilly Fillie's space on my sidebar was also not requested or paid for - I just love their products.*


 

January 9, 2016

Giveaway Winner and Saturday Stills

Congrats to Warner Horses - you are the winner of the giveaway!
 
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I was in the Scottsdale, Arizona area last week and loved the warm weather.  I came back home to Washington and was greeted by snow, freezing rain, and fog. My favorite...
 
Ypke, Jethro, and I are all dreaming of summer:
 

 
But in reality:
 
Freezing weather.
 
And snow.
 
And some more snow.