Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spruce Meadows

Hubby and I will be going north on Thursday, and will fly over Spruce Meadows which is just outside Calgary.  It is the mecca for show jumping in North America.  So I will be out of touch for a bit while we are enjoying the great cold outdoors in Alberta, read snow skiing.  Conditions are wonderful from what I hear.

Spruce Meadows was built by the Southern family in 1976 and comprises 360 acres just outside Calgary.  There are six major outdoor tournaments and eight indoor ones there each year.  The indoor events are known as the 'Nakoda Series' and are tailored for developing junior and amateur riders (all show jumping).  The outdoor ones start with the 'Summer Series' a five-week long tour that begin in June.  Spruce Meadows was named the number one show jumping facility in the world in 2001-2002 and 2003-2004.

The facility attracts 500,000 visitors annually and can stable 1000 horses.  It is open 365 days a year.


You can bet that the top horses in North America will be at Spruce Meadows this year!   Enjoy this last week in February. See you in March.  In the meantime I am hoping to find some great powder at Lake Louise. 

Baby April Update

I took Baby April over the mountain last Tuesday to see the vet emeritus in Charlottesville.  The good news is she does not have a fracture.  When a horse is three-legged lame, it typically is something terrible like a fracture or an abcess.

We x-rayed the foot and blocked the heel. When we nerve blocked her heel she became mostly sound.  When the foot was blocked she was still lame which means the lameness is in her heel.  The abcess was very deep indeed.  My instructions were to soak her foot twice a day in warm epsom salts and then use a poultice around her coronet band at night, with warm water and epsom salts.

Well, Baby April will have none of the soaking. She is indeed a thrasher and at over 17 hands, she gets her way some of the time.  She even got in the face once so the soaking part, well, let's just say it is too dangerous for this middle-aged petite female.  That is not what the doctor ordered.

My barn looks like a hospital ward with all the duct tape, vet wrap, lotions, heat tape, potions, scissors and epsom salts.  I decided to turn April out.  She is not three-legged anymore, sound a at walk, not as sound at a trot but maybe the moving around will push this infection up and out since not much else has been going our way since mid-January.  The vet said also that this may never "pop" and we may just have to wait for the abcess to self-absorb into the foot.  I was hoping for a quicker recovery not the abcess from hell that I currently have.  Now I know that I would not be a good nurse. Patience is not one of my virtures.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Dying Art of Riding Sidesaddle

One of my good friends is an avid sidesaddle rider and has won the national championship several times.  I have watched her ride and show many times and have always wondered why more people don't ride sidesaddle.

It does not look very comfortable.  Sitting astride dates back to antiquity according to Wikipedia and developed in European countries in the Middle Ages as a way for women in skirts to ride a horse in modest fashion while also wearing fine clothing.
Today we have side saddle classes at the finest horse shows:  Devon, Upperville, and Washington International, among others.  You also see people riding "aside" in the hunt field. 

English sidesaddle classes today are based on the norms established in the hunt field from 100 years ago.  The class is judged rigidly and perfection is paramount.  You must wear the appropriate dress, have the right appointments, tack, horse and style.  Turnout is extremely important.

This is what a sidesaddle looks like, this one is Hermes.

Below are the rules from 2002, from the International Sidesaddle Organization for Hunter Class Appointments.   You'll see below that the rules are rather strict and detailed.  I have seen judges actually pull out the sandwiches from the sandwich case and check them to see if they are fresh. If I am not mistaken, the bread must not have heels on it (not sure if I said that correctly).  Talk about attention to detail!

Section 5.2.2 – Hunter Class Appointments. See Pertinent USA Equestrian Rules.

Ladies’ Hunter Under Side-Saddle. May be held with or without appointments; however, the prize list must specify if appointments are required. Proper appointments are as follows:
  1. Hat – Black hunting silk top hat, crown at least 4-1/2” high, or bowler.
  2. Veil – Optional. If worn, must be traditional black and fit securely over hat brim and under chin.
  3. Neckwear – Plain white hunting stock neatly tied and fastened with a plain gold safety pin. Pin should be horizontal.
  4. Omitted.
  5.  Habit – Melton or other cloth of black or dark blue color, unless bona fide hunt member of a recognized hunt whose livery color is different; then hunt livery color with hunt colors is permissible. Lining must match.
  6.  Breeches – Same color as habit (Need not be of same material.)
  7.  Collar – Same material and color as coat unless members has been invited to wear the hunt colors, in which case, the color should conform to the livery of the hunt and be worn only on coats of the hunt livery color.
  8. Vest – Of plain white, buff or yellow material.
  9. Buttons – Must conform to hunt livery. Usual specifications are: Brass or bone on vest. Black bone on coat. If member has been invited to wear the hunt button, should be engraved with the hunt emblem, otherwise should be plain.
  10. Boots – Black, without tops, of plain black calf without tabs. Boot garters, if worn, plain black.
  11. Spur – Optional, if worn, must be regular hunting spur without rowels, worn high on the heel.
  12. Whip – Light hunting whip with thong and lash, required.
  13. Gloves – Brown leather gloves or heavy wash leather.
  14. Rain Gloves – White, canary or buff rain gloves. Should be carried fingers forward on off (right) side under billets and just showing in front of saddle flap with the thumbs facing upward.
  15. Jewelry – Except for stock pins, finger rings and small plain stud earrings for pierced ears, jewelry is not permitted.
  16. Hair – With hair net, preferably in but. Must be neat and unobtrusive, and must not touch collar.
  17. Safety Helmets are required in over fences classes.

Tack Appointments

  1. Sandwich case – Must be combined sandwich case and flask. Sandwich case must contain a sandwich, wrapped, and flask must contain sherry or tea.
  2. Bridle – Must be either double or Pelham. All leather must be flat. A caveson noseband must be used. Rubber reins are not permissible. Bridle and reins may be sewn to bit(s).
  3. Breastplate – Flat leather is optional but preferred.
  4. Martingales – Not permitted, except in classes over fences.
  5. Saddles – Must be of plain English type. May have suede seat and pommels. Lining may be leather or linen. Numnahs and saddle cloths not permitted.
  6. Girths – Three fold leather or Fitzwilliam. No elastic permitted. Cannot be shaped. Balance girth necessary.
  7. Iron – Should be regular side-saddle iron with oval eye, or safety stirrup. Should be large, workmanlike and polished without pads.
Judges should give particular attention to quality, condition and cleanliness of tack.
I also love this photo from Wikipedia, from Australia.  That is one high jump, I am impressed that this rider could do this sidesaddle. Don't try this at home!

In certain parts of the US sidesaddle has gotten popular.  Here in Virginia there are lots of shows that offer sidesaddle and up around Middleburg, Virginia (near Washington) there are many places to learn to ride sidesaddle.  You need  a special horse with a strong back and very good instruction and all that equipment!  And lots of practice.   Enjoy!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

J Crew For Fall

J Crew hit the fashion week runways this week, and made some real news.  The collection looks very "Jenna-esque" referring of course to Creative Director Jenna Lyons who has become her own celebrity.  But the big news is that for Fall 2012 J Crew is pairing with Manola Blanik to create shoes!  Jessica Parker are you listening?

(Bebeto Matthews AP photo)

While I don't really follow fashion week, I adore J Crew and love their clothes for spring. Here's hoping that fall looks just as good.  Here are a few peaks.  Lots of sequins.

Here is Housewives of New York reality television actress Kelly Bensimon with Jenna Lyons.  Love the green sequins skirt, a J Crew staple on the web site right now.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Signs of Spring

I know it is only mid-February but today really felt like spring.  The birds were chirping, the grass even looked greener.  So how do you know when it is really spring?

Here are a few clues:

1) You start looking at Lilly Pulitizer. 
I love Lilly but I don't really pay much attention to it until spring.  Here are some of their new products.  I can see using these on the patio mid-May.

2) Jack Rogers
You think about adding another color to your wardrobe since these are timeless and will be worn even when you are 70.  Even Jackie loved them!

3)  You think about the beach.
I am not a beach person and rarely ever make a summer trip to the beach but it sure looks good right about now. 

4) March Madness
You know spring is right around the corner when you start seeing ads for March Madness.  Let the games begin!

5) The Masters
April is just around the corner when CBS begins airing ads for the Masters, my favorite golf tournament, and no, I do not play golf.

6) The seed catalogs begin to arrive.

7) Mowing
I actually thought about mowing today, NOT a good sign. 

8) The jelly beans arrive!
I love jelly beans and my two favorites (Russell Stovers with real sugar and Brach's Pectin Jelly Eggs) only show themselves at Easter.  If you happen to see these anywhere, let me know, they are hard to find.

What are your favorite and not so favorite signs?

The Real Reality of Owning a Horse

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jingles for Baby April

(David Bell photo)

I am taking Baby April to the vet in Charlottesville today (to see the senior guy, when no one else can figure out what is wrong).  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really worried.  She has been on and off lame for a month now.  At the moment she is on three legs (read, VERY lame).  She has been like this since Friday.  We cannot figure out what is wrong.  We were treating her for an abcess, but at the moment, the vet does not think it is an abcess. Personally, I am praying for an abcess.  The problem is her right hind leg, the same leg that bothered her last summer.

(David Bell Photo)

I am not a vet but my money says there is something in her heel, either a very deep abcess that won't come out or something much worse. We will know later today, hopefully and I can get my sweet big mare some relief from the pain that she is in. Not a happy Valentine's Day in my part of the world.  Hope for the best!

Happy Valentine's Day

Hug the one you love!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

For the Kid Who Has Everything


What will they think of next?

April Woes

Frustrating month with Baby April, who needs to be in work.  Struggling with an abcess that won't heal.  This has been going on since mid-January.  Just heat in her foot, a small wound for the abcess to pop out, but all it wants to do is close up.  She is sound for a week or two, then lame again.  Rinse, cycle, repeat.  Vet has already been out once, convinced this is an abcess due to the heat, the opening in her heal. 

Have tried every trick in the book.  Last night we used heat tape.  Guaranteed to push that baby to the surface.  Not going to happen.  How long can this go on?????   Running out of options here.  May be a very long spring and at this rate she may never make it to the Pre Greens this year.  Any more magic tricks out there that I have not heard about yet?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

J Crew Bargains

Ventured over to Lynchburg today and stopped in the two real "outlet" stores for J Crew.  It amazes me what is in there.  I tried on a coat that I had loved in the catalog last fall, they had it in my size and color and it was $80 (had been $400) but I passed on it.  It was heavy (thinsulate) and it was nice but not stellar.  Here are some other things I spotted:

This coat was also $80 in the yellow color. Was one size too big. Very nice though.

This blouse was $30.  Too 1980's for me.

These were $30 in this color:

They had these in a size 7 for $70, alot less than the $198 tag in the stores:

This dress was $40:

These were $30 in my size in black wool:

I did buy these in gold for $40. Had my eye on these for months, started out at $250.

This top was $30:

There was a fair amount of spring stuff coming in.  I bought this shirt for $25.  I had seen it in the store and loved it. 

There are two stores, both small, close together.  Not sure it would be worth a trip just to go there but if you happen to be in the area.  There is also an amazing place to buy wedding dresses, Church Street Bridal. So if you come to the area for that, then by all means go to the J Crew Outlets!  I love a real bargain.

. Crew Millrace Clearance Store (in the factory)
25 Millrace Drive
Lynchburg, VA
(434) 316-6324

J. Crew Wyndhurst Clearance Store (Wyndhurst is the development)
101 Northwynd Circle Street
Lynchburg, VA 24502
(434) 239-0575

Cheval Equestrian Shirts

Check out these really cool equestrian shirts for show or just general wear.  Handmade in Canada.  100% cotton, 100 thread count, snap-and-go collar, pearly snaps on cuff, longer hem so you can tuck it in with those low rider breeches.  These will also look great with a pair of jeans.

This one is already sold out.

A closer look at the details:

Here are some additional color combinations:

This is what it looks like all buttoned up:

To order online or see a list of retailers go to http://www.chevalfashions.com/.  Happy shopping!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ode to Aqua

It's February and in an earlier life, I would usually make one quick trip south, way south, this time of year.  Since that is no longer in the cards, I can dream about it can't I?   And I must say, this winter, well, it's been pretty warm, global warming and all.  But there is nothing refreshing like the aqua blue Caribbean waters this time of year.

So this is my "Ode to Aqua."  Enjoy!

Hermes Birkin Bag


 J Crew



Jack Rogers

Lilly Pulitzer



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