December 22, 2016

Christmas is Coming

Winter has arrived!
Fjord horse in snow

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and Ypke loves it.

Fjord horse in snow

The only thing she doesn't like? It prevents her from grazing.

Fjord horse in snow

Jethro, on the other hand, hates this weather.

Donkey in the snow

He stays in the Donkey Dorm in an effort to prevent his whiskers from freezing.

Donkey in snow

And me? I'm with Jethro. I'll give Ypke the month off and sit by the fireplace with Henry.

Thanks to Spotted Gecko Designs, Ypke can come inside the house with me too! Well... sort of...

Spotted Gecko Designs

While in Kentucky, I came across Spotted Gecko Designs' booth. Olivia, the owner, was kind enough to send me this thoughtful gift for Christmas. It is difficult to find Fjord merchandise, and I have yet to see the name "Ypke" on any product, so it was a neat gift to receive! Check out Olivia's website to see all of the lovely products — from browbands to houseware — she offers.

Happy holidays, everyone!

November 25, 2016

November's 10 Questions

Thank you for the blogging content, Viva Carlos!

How old is the youngest/greenest horse you’ve ridden? I actually haven't ridden any really young or green horses. The youngest horse I have ridden was 5, but he was well trained and as close to bombproof as you can get.

How old is the oldest horse you’ve ridden? 28!

Were you scared of horses when you first started riding? When I first started riding I was fearless. After riding for about a year I took a bad fall and my confidence went from 100 to 0 real quick.

Fjord horse mane

Would you say you’re a more nervous rider or a confident rider? I have built up my confidence a lot these past few years, though I would say I am still more nervous than confident.

Biggest pet peeve about non-horse people around horses? I'm not too bothered by non-horse people. I think it is great when they take an interest in horses!
That being said, I do not like it when horseless people who you barely know try to take advantage of the fact that you own horses (ie: bring your horses to my kid's birthday party, let my kids and their friends come over to ride, and such).

A time you’ve been scared for your life (horse related)?  I was on a super steep trail, and the horse I was riding tripped, fell, and went sliding down the hill for a few feet. Definitely made my heart skip a beat since it was out of the blue, though I don't think there has ever been a horse-related incident that made me scared for my life.

Fjord horse mane

Have you ever fallen off at show? What happened? Nope! But then again, I do not show often.

What’s a breed of horse you’ve never ridden but would like to ride? I've never ridden a gaited horse before, so I would like to sometime.

Describe the worst behaved horse you’ve ridden? There was one gelding who was basically Jekyl and Hyde. One minute, he would be the most well-behaved horse you've ever seen, the next he would rear to the point of flipping over or try to buck you off. My first dozen rides on him were great, just basic intro level dressage work. One day, he just completely switched and tried to buck me off. Then he began trying to kick me whenever I was within kicking range. Of course, the owner immediately said, "He's never done that before!"

Whenever you asked him to do something he didn't want to do, he had two reactions: buck or rear. After seeing him rear to the point of nearly flipping over (unprovoked) with a trainer, I quit riding him.

Of course, the owner neglected to tell me about his issues and claimed he was "as bombproof as you can get." I came to find out that the horse had an awful reputation in the local equestrian community and was known for being very unpredictable. Supposedly he passed pain/back exams and saddle fit seminars, so maybe he was just crazy. This is why I am wary of riding new horses now!

Fjord horse mane

The most frustrating ride you’ve ever had? About a year into owning Ypke we went through a super rocky phase where rides were consistently awful. I was super nervous after the fall I took, and she took advantage of that. Pretty sure she figured out that I wasn't confident enough to enforce the rules, so she basically did whatever she wanted to do when I rode her. Luckily she has never reared, bolted, or any of that. Her version of misbehaving is refusing to go faster than a lazy walk or dragging me towards the nearest patch of grass. Typical Fjord!

November 12, 2016

Churchill Downs

Last weekend I found myself in Louisville, Kentucky. I don't think any trip to Louisville is complete unless you visit Churchill Downs, which is something I have always wanted to do. Needless to say, it was amazing!

My favorite part was standing right alongside the track by the finish line. I loved the sound of thundering hooves!

Previously, I had never been to a track or watched a race. I am definitely no racing expert, so a couple of things surprised me:

a.) The horses were quite calm. When I think of racehorses, I think of them as easily spooked, hot-tempered, and prancing around. While there were exceptions, most of them seemed quite polite and levelheaded.
b.) The horses were not all that tall. I always figured racehorses were giants (17hh+), but the ones that were racing while I was there were certainly shorter.
Churchill Downs paddock
Explosive Kowboy

Churchill Downs paddock

Churchill Downs
During a tour, we were shown how they were brought into the starting gates. One horse threw a huge fit. It reared a couple times, the bridle fell off, it reared again, the jockey jumped off, and the horse took off at a full gallop to the other end of the track. It happened not once, but twice. They were all having a laugh about it, so I guess it must not be too uncommon. I would have been terrified, that's for sure!

It was a huge place and a beautiful facility. The footing looked wonderful, and I wanted to steal it.

The Kentucky Derby Museum was very well put together and interactive. They had a horse racing game that I low-key got addicted to.

Kentucky Derby Museum

I was able to spend a couple hours in the museum, go on a few tours, and see about 10 races. It was loads of fun, and if you are ever near Louisville I would highly recommend checking it out!

October 28, 2016

Surgery Update: 1 Month

Late last month, Jethro injured his mouth and had surgery.
September 28
The surgery went well, and he stayed at the vet clinic for two nights. Three teeth were pulled, and by the time he came home he was in pretty good shape. Jethro is a trooper! It has been a month, and the new teeth are starting to come in. Unfortunately, it looks like one of them is coming in at the wrong spot. The other two look like they will be coming in just fine though.

 October 28

Unfortunately, he (understandably) hates have his mouth touched now. I had to tickle his whiskers with a brush in order to get him to show off his teeth.

September 29, 2016

In Which Jethro Gets Surgery

Last week I went out to feed Jethro and noticed something was wrong. His bottom lip was hanging down and his lower row of teeth were sticking straight out. He was not pleased about me trying to get a closer look, so I scheduled a vet appointment.

Jethro still had an appetite and carried his Jolly Ball with him everywhere, so I figured it must not have been too extreme. The soonest the vet could see him was one week later.

Fast forward to yesterday. He goes to the vet, gets sedated, the vet tech opens his mouth, and I see the reality:

Not good.
Yikes. Definitely an injury, not new teeth replacing old ones. My best guess is that he grabbed onto something with his mouth and suddenly pulled back really fast. The gumline was sliced through, forcing his front teeth outwards. A lot of scar tissue developed in the week that we had to wait to go to the vet.

The cut is pretty deep, as you can see in the above picture. The front part of his mouth was torn open, pulling his teeth forward. He had to have three teeth extracted.

Jethro actually does not have any of his permanent teeth yet. The three extracted teeth were all baby teeth. I found it surprising how long the roots were.

The poor little man will be spending two nights at the vet's barn. Luckily, the vet thinks that it should heal quickly.

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 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: 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 minute sessions. This one has been a bit more difficult. I have done three 15 minutes 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/appearance 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: Frilly Fillies does not keep a stockpile of ready made bonnets, and every bonnet is custom made to your horse's measurements. 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:
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!

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.

January 1, 2016

Giveaway: Mrs. Conn's and Nicker Bait

The giveaway is over! Congrats to Warner Horses!
Thank you for making 2015 a great year for The Moody Mare! It is time to kick off 2016 with a giveaway! Due to the generosity of Mrs. Conn's Bath Sponges and Nicker Bait Horse Treats, one lucky winner can treat their horse to a spa day.  Please note that this giveaway is only available for those in the continental USA.   
All you have to do to enter is "like" the Facebook post that is embedded below before 9:00PM PST on 1/8/16.  If that doesn't work for you, just click this link instead.

Let’s kick off 2016 with a GIVEAWAY! One lucky person in the continental USA will win natural, nourishing shampoo-filled...
Posted by The Moody Mare on Friday, January 1, 2016
Here's the scoop on Mrs. Conn's:
-They offer cute, compostable sponges pre-loaded with shampoo.
-These natural, nourishing sponges do not contain nasty ingredients.
-There are five fun scents - Lemon Meringue, Oatmeal, Herbal Tea, Fruit Smoothie, and Desert Quencher. Each sponge specializes in something specific. Rain rot, mud fever, or ringworm? Use Desert Quencher. Dull coat and stains? Consider Lemon Meringue.
-Anne Conn, mastermind of the business, only utilizes American made, cruelty free goods and strives to make environmentally friendly products.
Here's the scoop on Nicker Bait:
-They specialize in soft, fresh horse treats.
-There are 3 main lines: standard Nicker Bait Cookies, Pill Camo (to make medicine more appealing to your horse), and Fit & Fancy (premium ingredients highlighted by coconut flour and oil).
-There are loads of delicious, unique flavors such as Peppermint Passion, Banana Chip, Candied Sweet Potato, and Pumpkin Spice.
-The (few) ingredients aren't scary and you don't have to turn to Google.  For example, their Peppermint Passion cookies only list oats, barley, molasses, flax, and peppermint candy.