Wednesday, 21 November 2012

At Home With Henry

Hi Everyone, it's Henry here again.

Mum said it was about time I wrote about what I have been up to, but I think she was being sarcastic. The truth is, for the past two months I have not done much at all. So, all I can write about is "missing out". Let me explain.

Mum has been really busy with other things (or so she says), and therefore she hasn't taken me anywhere. I was entered for Kyneton Horse Trials a couple of weeks ago, but we didn't end up going. I was so looking forward to showing everyone my awesome moves....but, the lazy two-legged didn't bother getting up early and taking me, so I missed out. My ol' paddock buddy and travelling companion Snip and his new two-legged got to go and they even came second! Very cranky now I wasn't there. *insert angry tail swish here*

That same weekend there was an awesome three day clinic with eventer, Paul Tapner. I got to go last year, when it rained, and rained and rained! Last time, we got to do a cross country round with our two-leggeds wearing a camera on their head. This was the end result. Pretty cool, huh?

So that's two things I have missed out on. *sob* It's not easy being orange...

Then there was Equitana. Now I don't know much about Equitana, but I was under the impression it was an opportunity for the humans to buy us horses LOTS of stuff. Well my lazy two-legged didn't go to that either! She claims she had to work. The injustice of it all!

The last straw though, is finding out she won't be making the trek to Lakes and Craters country for the Three Day Event in December. I have never been down there and really would like to go (the grass is better in the Western District!). Looks like I will have to wait 'til next year. Both Bones and Snippy have gone before, I want my turn!

On the bright side, I have been having a nice time at home. We have been spending some time in The Rectangle, going on rides down the road and the other day we did something really strange. Mum put three barrels out in a triangle (with no jump rails attached!) and asked me to canter around them. How odd! It was quite fun though, so she told me I could do this with other horses one day. Sounds like a new adventure!

Other than that, I have been monitoring Bones' and Alex's wounds (healing nicely), playing in the paddock and bemoaning the fact the grass is nearly all dried up here for the year. Time to stand with my head over the gate at all times with my cute "Polly wants a cracker" face so either she (or he) sees me and sends some hay my way....

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Domestic Horsewife

Another month - another recipe! This month I bring you....

The Haybale’s Bacon and Mushroom Carbonara good!!

This is soul food. Not only is it tasty, it is actually quite lean and healthy as far as creamy pastas go. I love pasta dishes, but this is one of my favourites and is so easy to make. Typically, when I cook I am not very good at measuring quantities, so the amounts specified are just a guide. You won’t regret trying this one!

Ingredients – to serve 4

Handful of mushrooms - sliced small
150-200g sliced lite ham or bacon
Garlic paste – to taste (I add a generous ‘squirt’!)
400ml (1 tin) Skim evaporated milk
Half a cup of white wine (optional, but recommended!)
1 egg yolk
1 (generous) dessertspoon cornflour
400g penne or bow-tie pasta
Half an avocado – cubed
Parmesan cheese and cracked pepper to taste


1.  Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Put pasta on to cook

2.  Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray. Heat pan and fry mushrooms, bacon/ham add, dollop of garlic paste - fry until meat is browned*

3. Turn down heat and incorporate evaporated milk. Leave a small amount of evaporated milk in the tin and combine with cornflour to make a paste – add this to the mixture

4. Stir continuously over low heat until sauce begins to thicken. Add in wine and egg yolk and continue stirring. The sauce should take on a creamy consistency – but not be too thick (there is some degree of trial and error with quantity of cornflour required!)

5. When pasta is cooked, drain water. Return to large saucepan. 

6. Combine sauce and pasta in saucepan, stirring sauce through well

7. Serve topped with avocado pieces, parmesan cheese and cracked pepper

*For an interesting recipe variation, chicken pieces could also be added in step #2. 

Enjoy! :-)

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Memory Lane

A picture is worth a thousand words...

Upon going through the collection of my old horsey memorabilia, I stumbled upon this ripper of a photo.

Going, going....almost gone!

There's quite a story behind this particular moment snapped some time ago. It was at the Charlton Show and it was my first time riding in the under 16 jumping class (I had actually won the under 14 class on the rather recalcitrant Charles the previous year, but that is perhaps a story for another time!).

I had owned Grey Mercy (aka "Jack") for about 4 months at this stage. I was lucky enough to get Jack on my 14th birthday and felt very grown up and important, going from a 14 hand pony to an almost 16hh thoroughbred. It had also seen me rapidly elevated from Grade Four Pony Club competitions to Grade three, which in my youthful ignorance, made me think I had really "made it" as a rider! It would be fair to say that (in the beginning at least) Jack got us around events by virtue of his sheer good nature - not by any talent or skill on my part.

That Charlton Show day was the first knock to my invincibility and a steep learning curve for me as a rider. I was very excited to be entered in the bigger of the two junior jumping contests - and even more excited to have jumped clear and made it into the jump off! I think at that stage of my riding career, I'd only managed to make it into a jump off a handful of times before....and never at anything over about 60cm!

I remember cantering into the arena with a vague notion of going really fast...desperately wanting to win that broad blue sash. I had no knowledge or experience of jumping a horse on slippery grass, of how to plan to ride lines in a jump off...or even the concept of keeping a horse balanced when picking up the tempo!

The first few jumps I think were ok; however, the further we went along, the faster and flatter Jack started jumping and we had a few rails down. With the clock ticking, I then became preoccupied with the idea of going faster, not realising that any chance of placing had already been lost. I vaguely remember turning too sharp into the pictured fence. We approached it crooked and going too fast.....Jack slipped on take off - and the photographer from the local paper happened to be sitting there and snapped the above delightful shot (which Mum later presented to me at Christmas!).

To this day, I am not sure how Jack did not land on me, but we both hit the deck and I was luckily thrown clear. My lingering memory from this incident is that as I stood up, Jack got to his feet....cantered on, cleared the last fence and left the arena without me!

Despite this particular sticky moment, Jack was an absolutely fantastic teenager's mount and he is responsible for developing my love of eventing. It is fair to say I learned a lot from this point on! He took me from being a nervous jumping rider through to my first Pony Club State Horse Trials, as well as numerous, shows, gymkhanas, flat rides and even games! He was quiet, always tried his hardest and was one of the most generous horses I have had the pleasure of owning. To horses like this, we owe everything. xx

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Favourite things

Learning to embrace technology 

An oldie but a goodie - iPad for horses!
When smart phones first came out, I have to admit I was sceptical. I was like "who needs a camera on their phone?" and "if I want to use the internet, I'll sit at a computer". Famous last words, huh? Then, my husband got an iPhone. I was given his iPod touch as he didn't need it anymore...I started hooking it into our wireless internet at home and began to see what all the fuss was about! That Christmas, my husband bought me an iPad and my world was changed forever.

Anyone who has jumped onto the Apple product bandwagon knows what I am talking about. My favourite cartoonist, The Oatmeal  has captured Apple product ownership  oh so well...The gift of the iPad then led to the discovery of two things that have changed my life significantly. As someone who loves to read (and claimed to love paper only formats) I'm a convert to all things digital. Enter Zinio and Kindle  apps...

I'm a magazine junkie. Of course, my particular interest is in horse magazines. I have half a bookshelf taken up with over 20 years worth of horse magazines that I can-not-bear-to-throw-out! (I do have hoarder tendencies). I love to read magazines from overseas, but the cost of a subscription with international postage was a bit ridiculous. Not to mention, by the time magazines get to me, they are old. If I go into a local newsagent to buy a magazine from the UK or USA, it is usually $10 or more for ONE magazine. Yes - yet another magazine to add to my hoarding space!

Therefore you can imagine my delight when I discovered Zinio. I made this exciting discovery when browsing the Horse and Hound website one day. It took me 5 minutes to sign up and there it was...the latest issue of Horse and Hound delivered to my inbox, able to be read on the iPad or desktop computer! As there are no weekly horse publications in Australia, getting my Horse and Hound each Thursday (for around $2 per issue) is one of the highlights of my week. After my revelation of digital subscriptions, I wrote a Letter to the Editor of H&H, which was published!

Made it into Horse and Hound!
I then discovered I can also subscribe to the likes of Dressage Today and Practical Horseman for just $10 for a full 12 month subscription. The best bit is that I am free to hoard as much as I like, as this huge pile of mags is all stored in cyberspace! 

So magazines are sorted, what about books? Although I still love reading "real" books, there is something to be said for the invention of e-readers. I downloaded the Kindle app not long after my iPad arrived and starting buying books through the Kindle StoreNo more waiting for books in the mail; within a few clicks, new reading material is right at my fingertips! I no longer need to pack a selection of books and magazines for a trip away now, my iPad has got entertainment covered. 

Now after years of tolerating a "dumb phone" I am considering stepping into the 21st century and upgrading. After all, a blogger needs to be able to take photos on the run and upload them! Look out, iPhone, here I come...

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

At Home With Henry

Hi Everyone!

My human mum's just given me the go ahead to write my own stuff on here...well she mentioned something about a hay bale -  it sounds right up my alley!

So what can I tell you about myself? I'm a Welsh Cob x Thoroughbred gelding, turning eight next year. I have been with my current family since I was just a little furry seven month old baby. One day I went on a trip in a metal box on wheels and found myself at a new home. Since that day, my paddock mate Bones has been the boss of me. Even now, when I go back into the paddock with him, I have to bow down to the master and mouth at him to show my respect. Sigh! I get tired of this little ritual, but it makes Bones feel important, so I keep doing it. 

When the two-leggeds first bought me, I know I was the topic of some derision. One of my mum's family members saw a photo of me and asked her "what did you buy THAT for?". 

When I was little
Hmmpf! I haven't forgotten that, so each time this person tries to have a ride on me, I make sure I give them curry! What did you buy *that* for, indeed! Truth be told, my mum bought me because she was unable to get her TB mare in foal to a Welsh Cob stallion like she had planned. I feel very lucky she picked me, as otherwise who else would feed me all the time...and put up with my so-called 'misbehaviour'? I am lucky she has a very good sense of humour. 

Apparently, between the ages of two to four I was classed as "difficult" and "naughty"....oh those times in my life were tough! Before I could be ridden, I had to spend ages in the torture chamber (a.k.a the roundyard) and then moved onto The Rectangle (what the two leggeds call an arena. Bones informs me that Sand Rectangles are invented as an advanced form of torture to horses!). Fortunately for me, Mum discovered early into my education that I was not really trying to be bad, but I had nasty sharp little teeth that needed to come out and a flat back that needed the right saddle. Since those discoveries, we get along really well. I know my mum has a soft spot for me. 

So, what are my favourite things?

I've made a bit of a list. 

1. Food. I think anyone with Cob heritage puts this right up on their list of important things. I get hungry all the time! Carrots are one of my favourites. If I see anyone waving carrots, I have to canter up and beat all the other horses to them! To look as good as I do, you have to keep eating! Besides, I am orange, carrots are orange - so we're a match made in heaven! 

This is my "Polly want a cracker" face. It always yields food!
2. Scratches. Gee I get itchy! I love my ears, wither and derriere being scratched. I don't mean to frighten visitors, but I like to reverse towards them for a buttock scratch (try scratching your own butt when you have hooves!!). Mum tells me this is very rude and that she is going to install a reversing beeper on me so people have warning when my bum is heading their way. 

3. Keeping watch at the gate! You just never know when something interesting might happen! I always keep an eye on the two leggeds, as they might be a source of #1

 4. Ponies! I LOVE ponies. They are so damn cute. One day I am going to have my own herd of them. I always say hello to ponies wherever I go and try to encourage them to talk to me. I have heard that you can collect My Little Ponies, although Mum did explain to me they are toys, not real ponies. 

5. Jumping. When I am being ridden, this is what I like to do. Although sometimes I don't jump, because of item #6 

6. Shying. I love to have a bit of a spook every now and then! Oh, I always spook at the letter "C" in The Rectangle. And sometimes they put stupid things underneath jumps that are worth a bit of a look.The best variety of shies are those that the rider doesn't see coming. I can move from one side of the arena to the other in less than 0.03 of a second! Jump judges out on the cross country that lurk behind trees are another favourite. I have to be on guard!

Anyway, thanks for reading, I look forward to sharing more with you next time! 

Horsey Happenings

November is here...

I'm not sure how it's happened, but it appears to be November, or so my calendar tells me. It's been a hectic month. Work has been busy & a lot of things have happened!

First in the way of horsey news - Snip has gone out on lease until the end of 2013. A big decision, but with Alex recently broken in & Henry out competing, I have felt like a hamster on a wheel trying to work three horses around a full-time & a part-time job! As luck would have it, I found a local young rider looking for an eventer...and the rest is history! Snip has been with Harriet for two weeks now and all seems to be going well. 5 days into their partnership, they went off to Bendigo Show, where they placed 3rd in the 90cm class! What a great start - I look forward to seeing their progress together. It will be different looking at eventing from the perspective of an owner rather than rider, but it makes me very happy to seeing someone enjoying and learning with Snip. 

They both look very happy! 3rd in the jumping at Bendigo Show.

The other exciting news is that I recently purchased a pony! Elcarim Starlight (aka Zena) is a New Forest mare who will be a future school pony for my business. We will have an older experienced pony coming soon to commence school pony duties - fun times!  Photos will come soon, I promise! (I really need to get a smart phone of my own so I can do on the spot updates!).

Henry was sidelined for a few weeks after Avenel HT with a cough, so I didn't end up entering Candlebark or Colac Horse Trials this year. This season has been a bit of a quiet one for us and will come to a close with Kyneton PC's event this weekend. I did have thoughts of entering for Lakes and Craters in December, however I don't think we're quite ready for the Prelim there. Next year, next year....I recently took Hen for a dressage lesson with Fiona Dearing from Remote Coach; it is fair to say that he entertained us both with his antics! Although quite capable, Henry thinks dressage is a little dull. He told us how "cool" he was by an interesting series of excited bunny hops after each walk-shoulder in- canter transition! He actually manages the transitions quite well, but then has to throw in a "look, look, did you see me do it?" afterwards!! I can't help but enjoy training him though, as when we get something right, it feels amazing. As he develops, I am feeling him really try for me in training - those little moments make it so rewarding. Straight forward he is not, but there is just something about him that makes me smile. Biased mother? Perhaps. To me, those special shared moments are what it's all about.

I had really been looking forward to working with Alex, however the pesky cough everyone had a few weeks ago is still with him. Another vet visit is inevitable! Speaking of vets, I think we'll get frequent flyer points this month. My dear little Bones had an altercation with a fence that saw him come off second best. He managed to skin above/inside his off fore...but luckily missed tendons & major blood vessels! He is healing well and has been a good patient...well, he'll do anything for carrots or Teddy Bear biscuits. Spoilt boy! 

I really shouldn't write about horse soon as I wrote the above paragraph, Alex appeared to have a fat hind leg - arghhhh! What was I saying about frequent flyer points to the vet this month?! Not sure how he has managed it, but he has a small but deep cut just above the fetlock. A clean up, bandage and AB jab later, he's no worse for wear. I just think it's his way of delaying the process of him becoming an eventer!! Incidentally, Alex turns 4 this week! Happy Birthday Alex. :)
Enjoy Cup Day everyone - have a good one!


Friday, 2 November 2012


Ahh, I love books. Each month I will aim to review a book from my (extensive) collection. For those poor non-horsey souls reading this blog, I apologise in advance. Many titles will be horse related. However, I promise to also include some of my *other* favourite reads.



How Good Riders Get Good:

Daily Choices That Lead to Success in Any Equestrian Sport 

By Denny Emerson
There's a lot of books out there that tell us about horse riding and training techniques. There's also a growing number of instructional books that focus on improving the rider's mental skills to become a more confident rider or better competitor. However, there's very few books that provide a true insight on all of the elements needed to become a good rider or trainer. This book does just that.

I have to say, I was so excited about the concept of this book I pre-ordered it …and when it arrived, it didn’t disappoint - I devoured it in less than a day! The blurb describes it as a “smart, honest, on-target kick-in-the-pants” and it is true! This book explores all elements of life that affect someone’s potential as a horseperson; in other words, what it is that separates those who achieve their goals from those who don’t.

How Good Riders Get Good looks at life circumstances and how they can affect an individuals' goals; the knowledge base a rider needs; the rider’s physique, the importance of a good support network and one of the most important considerations – the horse. In exploring each of these areas, Denny Emerson highlights many of his experiences as a successful rider in a range of different disciplines.

Although there is a competitive theme, winning competitions is not the sole definition of being a “successful” rider in this book –  many of the "Good Rider" profiles featured also include top trainers from a variety of disciplines. The principles discussed throughout How Good Riders Get Good could be equally applied to other areas of life and other pursuits. You don’t have to be aiming at Olympic glory to benefit from the advice Denny Emerson packs into this book.
This book came to me at a time of my life when I had set a lofty goal and it aided me in preparing in the best possible way. I was able to objectively look at the cards I’d been dealt and work out what it was that I needed to complete my journey. As riders (or indeed, as sports people) we are told we need to “think positive” and whilst it is true, it is somewhat misguided to believe that positive thought alone will solve all our problems! We need to “think constructively”…that is, thinking positively, but with a plan of action in place and an honest assessment of what needs to be done to move forward. How Good Riders Get Good forms part of a rider’s decision making tool-kit to make that action happen.

For anyone who has ambitions with their horses and riding, I thoroughly recommend this book. It is a delight to read and full of advice that otherwise could take a lifetime to learn!
The Haybale rating - 5/5 bales of sweet, leafy lucerne!