<![CDATA[Jumping H Farm - Jumping H Farm Blog]]>Tue, 08 Dec 2015 16:08:57 -0800EditMySite<![CDATA[March 04th, 2013]]>Mon, 04 Mar 2013 19:19:19 GMThttp://www.jumpinghfarm.com/http://jumpinghfarm.blogspot.com//march-04th-2013
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<![CDATA[Murder's Dressage Debut- or how not to perform a dressage test]]>Fri, 07 Sep 2012 12:16:57 GMThttp://www.jumpinghfarm.com/http://jumpinghfarm.blogspot.com//murders-dressage-debut-or-how-not-to-perform-a-dressage-testPicture
When you start out with a title like this, you must also start out with a picture that says it all... As many of you know Murder is my OTT (Off Track Thoroughbred) with more personality than most people I know.  We have been working towards a goal of showing for the past 18 months and "D" day (Dressage Day) finally arrived.  I must say that dressage for Murder is not something he is overly thrilled with. As I have gotten older and much much wiser I have learned that without a good dressage foundation the chances of you doing riding disipline well are slim.  Murder and I have been working for weeks and weeks, months and months to get the connection, relaxation and yes submission that you long for in Dressage.  We have successfully achieved most of those elements at home, however away from home is a totally different story. Murder is not the boldest or the most confident horse that has ever lived, with that being said my achievement list for this dressage test were small; Don't jump out of the ring and don't spook out from under me during the test. See I told you- baby steps.  We started out great!  In the warm up we had some moments of connection and relaxtion, even a bit of submission now and then, however being in a  show situation Murder was more interested in his surroundings.  When this happens he turns into Llama horse.  His theory is if he holds his head REALLY REALLY high then nothing can scare him. At 17.1+ hands he doesn't realize he already is bigger than most everything he has ever spooked at.  Let me set the stage for this debut dressage test. The ring is set low at the bottom of a hill. Spectators stand on the hill quietly and there is a tree line surrounding 3/4 of the arena. While very pretty and quiet, in a horses mind there are many many things that can hide in the trees that will eat horses. To my amazement on this day the trees were the least of my worries.  We begin trotting on the outside of the ring to warm up. I hear the bell ring signaling the judge is ready for me to begin... strangly at this point when I would usually be really nervous I was not. Murder and I head down the Center Line to Halt at X. (This is the picture you see above)  We are supposed to be standing square with our heads turned straight ahead looking at the judge. NOOOOOOOO not my horse, what does he do?,  He stops 2 strides short of the halt mark, turns and smiles at the crowd on the hill as if to say "Hey guys look at me, whatch what I am getting ready to do".  I salute and we continue the test. Murder ignores me the entire test, he is way more interested in what is going on around the ring than what I am asking him to do.  About half way through the test it suddenly dawned on me, "I am getting to show my horse". I get this big stupid smile on my face complete the rest of the elements without mishap. I give him big pats and lots of love as I approach the judge.  She has this VERY concerned look on her face. "You do realize that your marks are not going to be very good, don't you", shes says to me with a semi frown, still confused at why I am so thrilled.  I grin back at her still patting Murder, "I understand this wasn't about getting great marks it was about coming out here with my green OTT and having a good ride." One day we will achieve connection, roundness and submission but today we achieved completion and I am happy with that.  It was with this dressage test that I realized how far Murder and I have come. Who knows, we may never achieve Dressage greatness, or maybe we will.  Either way we will keep doing what Murder and I do best. "Smile for the Crowd" it keeps them guessing.

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This is a close up of our halt and salute with Murder smiling at the crowd.
For all of you new to dressage this is how NOT to do a dressage test. However notice our entrance into the show ring and the split second that Murder turns and smiles at the crowd. It is about the 1:25 mark on the video. :)  "Say Cheese"

 

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<![CDATA[Paying It Forward... getting to live the dream]]>Wed, 29 Aug 2012 14:45:26 GMThttp://www.jumpinghfarm.com/http://jumpinghfarm.blogspot.com//paying-it-forward-getting-to-live-the-dreamA little glimmer of hope shined through the dark clouds of the "ME" society we live in this week. I get so very tired of seeing the "sense of entitlement" that seems to be the theme of today's children, it just makes me cringe, but more over it makes me want to strangle their parents.  However,  every once in a great while small things happen to renew my hope in society. Many of you who know me have heard me say many times that "You don't just learn to ride but you learn life lessons every time you are around horses." Unfortunately horseback riding is an expensive hobby, passion, addiction, way of life, I am sure there are more adjectives but you get the idea.  For some children this dream is unobtainable without the generosity of others in our industry. My glimmers of hope have come in three forms this week.  I received a call last week from a trainer who was looking for a horse. Very common occurrence in my world. He had a young lady that could ride, not just sit in a saddle but could ride-ride. In the horsey world that means the child can ride anything with hair on it and not just perch and look pretty in the saddle. Her parents had a low budget, this young lady worked at his barn and would do everything from remove cobwebs to scrub water buckets just for the chance to cool someone’s horse out. He was looking for a horse that she could eventually show. He said with their budget the horses he had looked at were like "riding a board on 4 pogo sticks." The visual this paints for me had me rolling in the floor laughing.  After regaining my composure I said, "I have the horse that will fit but I had to make a phone call".... the parent's budget was not in the same price range as this horse.  After a lengthy phone conversation about this young lady, the owners of the horse  agreed to drop the price. The deal was done!   This young lady had a horse! I received a  text message from the trainer after the purchase, the young lady spent 5 hours the first day grooming and bathing her new horse. I am quite sure the white on this horse would blind you after that kind of spa day. The second glimmer of hope came after reading a post on my Facebook newsfeed from an Instructor who was looking to borrow a show halter for a young lady in her stable who has been working to pay her way to the 4-H state championships and could not afford the show halter. The response from others to help this young lady out was wonderful! It brought tears to my eyes. First of all because this young lady is willing to clean stalls and various other chores for the opportunity to show at the championships and the generosity of others to let her borrow a show halter which cost several hundred dollars in most cases.   My third and final glimmer of hope came this morning by way of a conversation with a dear friend of mine. We have been looking for a "first pony" for her daughter.  We have had numerous conversations about what she needs and we have looked at what seems like hundreds of ponies.  She has heard me mention on occasion about my working students and out of the blue offered to help sponsor a rider that might not otherwise have the opportunity to show.  It is this kind of generosity in our industry that keeps me doing what I am doing.  People just like the ones above who helped and encouraged me as a skinny, awkward 13 year old kid, 28 years ago to work for her goals and dreams.
I don't thank my parents nearly enough for giving me the chance to achieve my horsey dreams.  Giving in to my begging and pleading,  and finally believing me when I said, " I will pay for everything else if you will just buy me that horse".  I also want to thank those others in the horse industry,(Butch Human, Roy Fulton, Susan Abel, Diane Cotten) and many others in the industry that allowed a teenager to, hang out for hours on end just for the chance to groom a horse, letting me sit quietly and respectfully soaking up all the knowledge that they were willing to share,  giving me the opportunity to ride anything with four legs and hooves, allowing me to clean stalls, groom horses, scrub water buckets, in lieu of " board money", or for the chance to show.  Even agreeing to let me clean their house or wash their cars for extra cash.... maybe that is why I abhor housework and car washing duties to this day. :). The most important lesson each of those people taught me though was RESPECT. Respect for your elders, respect for all animals, and not being afraid to say something to me if I became disrespectful.  
Parents please take note: If your child is willing to work hard and do manual labor for a dream or passion, get up at the crack of dawn to care for an animal before school, encourage and embrace it. There are so many excellent life lessons to be learned; Satisfaction of a job well done, positive reinforcement and sense of accomplishment, having to take responsibility for another living creature (even if the weather is cold and rainy), but most of all knowing that they worked and earned the chance to achieve their dreams.  The dream may just be for the chance to trail ride or it may be for the chance to compete in horse shows, either way encourage these actions and give them a chance to earn some self-worth. 
Finally to all  "Horse Professionals" in this industry: I believe we all have a duty to occasionally seek out the one child or adult who really has the dream and passion to succeed in our industry. That one person who is willing to work the hardest and do whatever it takes to earn the right to live their dreams.  Give them the chance and maybe a leg up once in a while.  Who knows maybe just maybe it will inspire them to one day "Pay It Forward" so the next generation will be the "what can I do to help" instead of "what can you do for me".

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<![CDATA[Let the Trail Riding Begin..... Murder's Journey from Track to Trail ]]>Tue, 28 Aug 2012 13:47:19 GMThttp://www.jumpinghfarm.com/http://jumpinghfarm.blogspot.com//let-the-trail-riding-begin-murders-journey-from-track-to-trailIn the weeks that followed my first ride on Murder we were beginning to really learn one another's quirks.  I began to feel a sense of accomplishment at finally having a horse that I clicked with.  It had been years since I felt that kind of connection with my own personal mount. Oh sure I have clients whose horses I have shown and trained over the years and I jokingly tell them ( the Tabers) that those horses (the Big Hussy) need to be willed to me in the event that anything happens to them.. (well not really joking) I REALLY LOVE those horses as if they were my own, but they are not *insert long sigh here*.   Anyway I digress let's get back to Murder. One of the things I enjoy doing is trail riding. This gives the horse a fresh perspective on things and gives us something else to look at besides the riding ring.  I am pretty sure Murder's world  had only consisted of what he saw around the race track or training farm. It certainly didn't consist of exploring the great unknown wilderness of NC.  Murder is not an adventurous sort of soul.  In his world trail riding is fine as long as it includes one of the following; sacrificial horse, 4-wheeler, dog, or human preferably all the above, which gives him more time to escape. Meaning someone or something is going to lead the trailride because there is NO WAY he is going to be attacked first by those horse eating rabbits, squirrels, butterflies or anything else of the animate or inanimate variety that we may encounter on the trail. Murder still doesn't get that at over 17 hands he is bigger than ANYTHING we will ever encounter in the woods and fields surrounding the farm.  Our first trail ride out we were taking the short trail, crossing the road to the trail head down through the woods traversing a mild hill and out into a big open area. It was on this trail I discovered something that was going to be a much bigger issue to overcome than Murder's fear of the unknown...... his feet.  Uneven ground is not his friend. Whewwww the first 200 yards of the trail, either whiplash or him stumbling and throwing me was surely going to be my demise. Murder is not the most coordinated horse that has ever come off the track.  My daughter commented on this particular trail ride "It's a good thing he is pretty because he sure is clumsy".   His less than surefooted nature at the time can be attributed to his Horsey  ADD... Look a bird, a flower, oh I must have the leaf off that tree. You get the idea.  The attention span of a small gnat.  We finally made it down the hill and out into the open field. "Momma can we trot?" , as my daughter has already shifted into second gear on her surefooted chestnut mare. I said a little prayer hoping that I lived through the next 300 yards or so... Heels down, shoulders back, shorten the reins a bit and off we went. Trees breezing by in a blur. Genna looking back every so often to make sure we were still alive. There I was with the big stupid grin of enjoyment. Hell I wasn't even cantering, but there I was trail riding my new horsey love at a pace that would rival a Standardbred in an open field. Not quite sure himself he wasn't breaking stride into a canter just yet..... then it happened!!! Dog in the weeds!!! SPOOK!!!.. If there is one thing my dogs do well, it is desensitizing horses. Now you may not live through the process but the horse will be wonderful for it's next owner. There I was trotting at breakneck speed, big stupid grin, breeze through my helmet.(doesn't have quite the same effect as through my long flowing hair, but safety first) and the blasted dog had to jump out of the weeds. Murder jumped sideways about 6 feet and never broke stride. Thank God for heels down and a good leg grip.  Having a 17+ hand horse spook is kinda like sitting on a bottle rocket with reins in your hand and you are not really sure how long the fuse is. When it takes off you better be holding on.  We managed to make it through the trail and even over the creek which was a non-event for Murder, again when the sacrificial horse crosses the water and lives to make it to the other side he figures he will too.  Murder has come a long way since this first trail ride. We have conquered many of his irrational fears, like the ones of butterflies. He will even occasionally lead the way on some of our excursions which is good training for his one day cross country adventure. I think secretly now he loves to trail ride. Riding on a loose rein hacking through the woods, galloping through the open fields. What’s not to love, right? 

Check out our next adventure.... Murder's Dressage Debut

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<![CDATA[It is time..... I think Murder in the First transition from Race Horse to Future Eventer. ]]>Fri, 17 Aug 2012 20:48:44 GMThttp://www.jumpinghfarm.com/http://jumpinghfarm.blogspot.com//it-is-time-i-think-murder-in-the-first-transition-from-race-horse-to-future-eventer

How it all began.....

Well as of today it has been one year, seven months and ten days since the arrival of the new horsey love of my life, Murder in the First.  Murder is an off the track Thoroughbred that I adopted through a wonderful program at the Philadelphia Track called Turning for Home. Murder hopped off the trailer on a Friday night in January of 2011 at an imposing 17+ hands with his head straight up in the air whinnying loudly to announce that the new Prince of the farm had arrived.  "Bless his heart" as we say in the south he had no idea how much his world was going to change. You see there was very little transition time from Murder's retirement from the track to his coming to the Jumping H Farm (where horses get to live like horses). His life had been all about a stall, schedule, routine, a personal groom, and exercise. He knew virtually nothing about pasture life, other horses much less a herd of them, or a laid back routine.  We spent the first few days learning each other.  The first thing I noticed was Murder had a personality as big as he was. His face changed expressions almost like a human and if I paid close attention I could tell, mostly what he was thinking.  "I don't think I am Philly anymore", he looked very concerned.   Murder's life had been flat, oval, with a white fence around it, the racetrack. This was not what he found at the Jumping H, nestled in the foothills on NC the only thing flat on my entire property and the surrounding area is what we had graded for our riding rings. The rest.... well hills and LOTS of them.   I had worked with OTT (off track thoroughbreds) before but they had already relaxed into a new way of life. This was not case for Murder.  He wanted a stall, his blanket, grooming, and hay....lots of hay.  The first few weeks were tough for Murder. I integrated him slowly into herd and pasture life, but it didn't seem to matter who I turned him out with he was the new kid and the other horses were having none of it.  Even my now 22 year old gelding who is so low on the pecking order, he is the foundation decided to put Murder in his place.  Murder still being a baby in the ways of herd life only wanted a friend. At 17 hands you would think he could defend himself but this was not the case.  I would bring him in every day and tend to some new scuff mark he acquired.  We spent lots of time on the ground getting to know each other. Things I have learned from our daily sessions: Murder does NOT love a stiff brush or a Curry.  Only the gentlest of curry brushes and at most a medium brush. Do you know how hard it is to curry out mud in the winter with a soft curry? *sigggghhhhh* It doesn't end there. He likes to put things in his mouth, ANYTHING, Combs, brushes, crops, the water hose, he is worse than a puppy.  I mentioned earlier that Murder gets the worried look on his face when introduced to something new. Well since he was introduced to a whole to lifestyle he spent the first few months with that "worried look".   Each time this would happen he would reach for his lead rope.  I quickly learned this was his security blanket. If he could chew on his lead rope he would calm right down. 

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Turn Out with Rocky the 22year old paint
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Murder's Worried look and his Pacifier leadrope.

The First Ride..

After a couple of weeks of Murder getting used to his new routine and surroundings not to mention a new human to deal with, I decided it was time for his first ride.  I will admit I was a bit nervous... 17+ hands is a long way up, and a lonnnggg way down, should there be an unscheduled dismount.  :) I am not sure what my expectations were but I can say there was complete joy in my heart being able to sit on this beautiful creature and ride him around the ring for the first time. He knew 4 things in his life walk, trot, gallop and left... The rest we would be learning together.  Below is a picture of our first couple of rides together in the upper and lower rings.  After our first few rides there were a few things that became very clear. We had a LONGGGGG way to go before we get to the show ring. While Murder's natural movement was very nice under saddle he was very stiff and upright. We deemed him "Llama boy".  With his neck sprouting straight up out of his withers it was going to take many months of reconditioning before he would be ready to show.  I was ready to take on this challenge and Part 2 of our story will take you on the next step of Murder's Journey from Race Horse to Future Eventer.
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Our First Ride
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Scratching the itchy spots after our first ride.
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Conquering the Big Ring
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Journey.... Learning to Trail Ride
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<![CDATA[Help an Incredible Rider Achieve her Goal]]>Tue, 24 Apr 2012 15:41:03 GMThttp://www.jumpinghfarm.com/http://jumpinghfarm.blogspot.com//help-an-incredible-rider-achieve-her-goalI am reaching out to some of my horsey and non-horsey  friends alike to help an up and coming rider Jessica Bortner-Harris.   She is a local rider that lives near my farm in Elkin, NC. Jessica is an amazing rider who has brought her Off the Track Thoroughbred through the ranks of the most grueling of equestrian sports, Eventing.  Due to the extreme nature,  potential dangers and in some cases mortality to even the most seasoned professionals in the sport you must compete and qualify at each level of in Eventing before moving up to the next level. Jessica is an exceptionally talented and humble rider, who takes incredible care of her mounts and always give her horse, “Win the War” (affectionately named Jitterbug at home) all the credit for her success.  She just recently placed 5th at the Fairhill International CIC*** out of a field of 12 in her first 3* competition.   This placing has qualified her for the CCI*** at Bromont in Quebec, Canada in June of this year. To even qualify at this level is nothing short of amazing. Unlike other sports, in Eventing  not only do you have to be in incredible shape with the discipline, work ethic, no mortality issues, and a healthy dose of crazy, you also have to have an amazing mount willing to fully trust his rider, navigate through an incredibly technical dressage test with more than 20 separate elements and then jump some of the scariest jumps you will ever see within the allotted time without penalty. For Jessica to be able to compete in Quebec in June she needs to raise an additional $3000.00 dollars for expenses of travel, entry, fees, veterinary care and training regime from now until June. She currently has reached 10% of her monetary goal.

I would REALLY love to see her compete in June. Her ultimate eventing goal is the CCI**** star Rolex but she has to qualify first. Rolex is the ultimate international event for any event rider in the western hemisphere. The time, dedication, and sacrifice alone in Eventing at this level is mind boggling, but the expense of this sport is what separates those who could achieve their goal from those who just won’t make it. Jessica has worked incredibly hard for this chance, with several setbacks along the way, but never gets discouraged or gives up. Any donation amount will help.  If you would like to donate you can click on her website www.rockystartstables.com and click the donate button or you can contact me directly at 336-345-1377.  I can get any donations directly to Jessica. I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Below are some pictures of Jessica and her horse Win the War.  To give you an idea of how large these fences are this is the level of competition. The technical difficulty of the jumps increase along with their foreboding sizes at this level of competition 

Thank you in advance for any and all help,

Nicole

Cross Country fences 3 ft 11 in (1.19 m), 32–40 efforts, ditch 11 ft 10 in (3.61 m) across, drops 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m), 570 m/min; Stadium fences 4 ft 1 in (1.24 m), 13–15 efforts.

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<![CDATA[Life before Horses....things you didn't know about me]]>Fri, 13 Apr 2012 15:03:28 GMThttp://www.jumpinghfarm.com/http://jumpinghfarm.blogspot.com//life-before-horsesthings-you-didnt-know-about-meOccasionally in my adult life I reflect back on the events, milestones, and people that have created the woman I am today.  To know me now is a far cry from the shy, awkward, fly under the radar kid I was in school.  Many people that I have met in my adult life have a hard time believing this. I am very outspoken and shoot straight from the hip on most things. Tact and Filter have always been a bit difficult for me to achieve as an adult but I do strive for both, like the slightly unattainable "brass ring" just inches out of my grasp.  In school I was never in any of the normal clicks; popular, smart, athletic, cheerleading, etc the list could go on forever. I wanted to come to school, fade into the background fly in under the radar and go home.  I didn't want to be heard much less seen. (I chuckle at the thought now). The second shocking factor is there was a time in my life where horses were NOT involved. If you have EVER met me you will probably find this fact hard to believe. Whether it is in my professional life or personal the discussion of horses 99.99% of the time is linked with my name. Even my co-workers introduce me as "This is the manager of our Practice Support Group, she can help you with any legal specific software or court room setup you may need, and she has horses." Horses are so ingrained in my life that it is hard to remember a time without them. The truth is, although short-lived, there was life "before horses."  In fact my first experience with sports of any kind as a child was softball.  (They didn't let girls play baseball when I was growing up). My longtime friend of 36 years, Gina, talked me into trying out for the local league in the area. THANK GOD they couldn't NOT pick you. Everyone got to be on a team if you signed up. As an 8 year old I was thrilled and scared out of my mind at tryouts, everyone had to bat, oh my God; I had to stand in front of all those people.. I thought I would die. "Breath you can do this", I thought to myself. They just pitch the ball and you hit it how hard can it be?  Turns out the hitting part wasn't so hard; it was the running of the bases. I had never watched or played baseball, softball, or any other sport that requires you to run bases, so instead of dropping the bat and running to first base I ran to third!  Gina stared at me in HORROR as I rounded the bases BACKWARDS. At this point I was committed. Gina being the athletic one and fielding shortstop mouthed "what are you doing" as I passed her running for all my uncoordinated self was worth. I remember shrugging with an embarrassed smile and kept on chugging around the bases.  I can assure you I was one of the last ones picked for a team that year. On a positive note when yearend awards rolled around, I did receive the "Most improved player" for that season.  I went on to play softball for several more years, improving slowly as time went by. There were other child sport/activity related items in my childhood, Gymnastics, Swim team, Dive team (whew diving is a disaster blog for another day), but none of them held my interest for very long, there was ALWAYS something missing. Those things didn't spark that competitive drive to do better to be the best; I could take them or leave them at any time.  So you see there was a life before horses.  Fairly well rounded in the child to activity ratio way of looking at things. My parents tried hard to find that niche for me, but none of those things were it. In the blogs to come, I will share some of my very FIRST horse adventures... Yes I said adventures.. They will come with a disclaimer; but instead of the standard "Do not try this at home all stunts are in a controlled environment performed by professionals" It will read..... "Do not try this at home, performed by kids who didn't have the good sense to know - THIS MIGHT HURT"

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<![CDATA[First Post!]]>Fri, 13 Apr 2012 12:08:42 GMThttp://www.jumpinghfarm.com/http://jumpinghfarm.blogspot.com//first-post