Skip to main content

2019 Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange

For the fourth year in a row, I participated in the Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange, which Tracy so kindly hosts (and has for seven years)!  I love choosing gifts for a fellow blogger, trying to find just the right thing to match their likes and interests.  And it is definitely fun to come home from work to a surprise package of horsey things for me!


This year, I received my gift quite early!  Thank you so much Eventing Saddlebred Style for the two surprises this past week!  She must have been checking out my Pinterest board I indicated I have, as these are both from my "want" category haha.

Plus, this is a new-to-me blog, so as soon as I finish this entry, I plan to tag along as a follower.  I like adding to my reading list, even though I have been terrible at commenting lately.


The cute little fox mug just makes me laugh.  I definitely cannot bring it to the middle school where I teach hahahaha, but I have already used it here at home a few times!

And the teal lead rope is aw…

Ellie's Big Adventure - Equine Affaire 2019

On the last day of September, I received an email from the Vermont Morgan Horse Association asking if I would be interested in bringing Ellie to Equine Affaire in Massachusetts from November 7-10.  I became a member of VMHA this year when I decided to compete at Vermont Heritage Days; so even though I live in Maine and not Vermont haha, I made a snap decision to say yes!  
Our VMHA booth in C Barn
Honestly, it was 21 minutes after the email came in that I responded yes!  Then I had to figure out how to actually make it all happen hahahahaha.  Typical.
All set up!
I attended Equine Affaire as a spectator a few times way back when and then for many years I ran the breed booth for the Standardbreds, including a four-day stint in C Barn with Dreamy back in 2013.  It is fun and exhausting to travel 4+ hours one way from home to talk with thousands of people, walk thousands of miles around the venue (ok, not that far but close), and ride in demos on a horse that has never seen such a huge venue (though in her defense, Ellie was really well behaved!).
Wednesday night!  All moved in!
The first thing I had to do was figure out what to do with my children, as my husband leaves for work at 3:30-4:00 am.  My oldest was spending the weekend with his father anyway, so I had him go a few days early (and his father could bring him to and from high school), so that was easy.  My youngest ended up going with my mother (THANK YOU MOM) during the week and then my husband picked him up on Saturday.  He is only in preschool, so I did not feel bad about him missing three days.  This would all have been much harder if he were in school already.  That alone is the biggest reason I figured I could pull this off haha.
Ellie's stall
But Equine Affaire is EXPENSIVE to purchase the stall and get a hotel room.  I lucked out in that VMHA paid for our stalls (!!!) and I shared the hotel with two other VMHA members, so for $120 in gas, $93 for four nights in a hotel, and $22 for a ticket to Fantasia (which I could have done without but it was kinda fun), it was the cheapest EA ever haha!  I did buy myself food, which I did not add up in total, and a few small things at the trade show, but seriously, without being able to have so many shared expenses, it would not have happened.

Then came getting an appointment for a health certificate, which actually was easier than I thought (but such a huge expense for what it is uggg) and making sure I could get the days off as personal days from work (super easy and I made simple sub plans!).  So it was all coming together quite well.  I bought a new small wheelbarrow and a light for the stall in C Barn, but otherwise, I didn't need anything else.

I was disappointed when I realized the deadline to apply for clinics was September 9, but it was fine.  I only got to ride in two breed demos, participated in a short sidesaddle saddle fitting demo, and had a magna wave treatment for Ellie, so doing a clinic or two would have been fun.  But it also would have been an added expense!  

Being a part of Vermont Morgan was really fun.  They are a great group of horsewomen and we had a blast together.  By the time I got there mid-afternoon on Wednesday, most of the stall decorations and photos were all hung.  Ellie was super chill about coming into C Barn and ate her hay quietly while I unpacked my trailer.  Horses were screaming and people were milling all about, but she was totally unfazed.  I love that she has become confident enough in herself and in me to not turn into a hot mess express.

Once everything was set up and horses were fed, I headed off to the hotel with two other VMHA members.  We ate Mexican food and stayed up too late chatting haha.  Thursday morning dawned bright and cold, and I regretted not driving my truck to the hotel so I could get Ellie in the Coliseum early to see it.  I should have just done it, but I got talked into allowing another VMHA member to feed early (she and her husband were camping on the grounds), so we would not have to get there early.  Oh well.  Even had I gotten Ellie into the ring early that morning, she still may have been nervous during the demo.  That is my only regret from the experience.
Ellie had a trace clip for her big EA trip!
We had our first breed demo at 12:30 in the huge Coliseum and then another one in a smaller ring in the Mallary building at 3:30.  Of course, I had offered to jump in the Coliseum demo, which once I realized was on the very first day, I figured would either be fine or be a disaster LOL!  Thankfully, even though Ellie was nervous, she was super obedient and we were able to jump with no issue.  I had my friend Rachel, who was at EA with her minis, start the jump as a small vertical (since there were no warm up jumps and I did not want to take out the poles if Ellie had a brain cramp) and she ended up raising it twice so it was 2'6" by the end.
Demo #1
I was bummed that Ellie was never able to relax, but I was proud of her for listening to me.  We shared the ring with four other horses, two of which were being driven, so it was A LOT for her to take in.
My face is...interesting lol
Our second demo was in a much smaller ring, so I chose to ride in dressage tack instead.  Ellie was calmer in this environment, but still wasn't a fan of all the movement in the metal bleachers.  It went well though, and I was able to get some nice trot work.
Demo #2
Had our demos been later in the week or more spread out, I think it would have been much calmer overall.  But I was still pleased, as all of our horses took everything in stride and I feel we all represented our breed well!  There was a 4th level dressage Morgan in the other breed demo that totally lost its mind, so it made me feel a bit better about Ellie's nervousness haha.
Demo #2
Friday was a quieter day, but the temperature dropped quite a bit.  I don't know that it ever really reached over 25 degrees, plus there was a wicked wind, so despite my plan to hop on Ellie just to get a training ride in, I ended up only taking her for hand walks.  It was bitter, bitter cold.  She enjoyed her time in C Barn greeting all of the visitors who came through!
Ellie living her best life
Saturday brought a random sidesaddle fitting demo, which was unexpected but fun!  Ellie was quite good, but she was looky and not 100% relaxed.  Still, she was a good demo horse and I thought being in the small ring with two other horses while she had to wear multiple saddles was really good for her brain.
sidesaddle fitting demo

more sidesaddle fitting demo
I also ended up chatting with a magna wave person named Rachel, but she only served parts of MA and CT.  I asked her if she would work on Ellie while we were there at EA, so she came over on Saturday late afternoon.  I don't know 100% what I think of magna wave, but I do think it probably has its place in a combined effort to heal an injury.  Of course, Ellie has no injuries or specific problems, but I was interested to see how she would react.  At first, she was definitely like uhhhhhh wut is dis??  But then she settled into it and was super relaxed and happy about it.  Rachel worked on her back, SI joint, shoulders, neck, and poll.  It was interesting and many people stopped at Ellie's stall as they were walking by.
Ellie liking her magna wave
I didn't really watch many clinics, which I am not sure why.  I wasn't in the mood to sit and watch, and with the cold weather, I didn't want to freeze by sitting still.
Ellie's half brother Kennebec Rugby was there with the New England Morgan group! 
She was so happy to see him!
I did do a lot of walking around through the trade show though.  Friday I did the Better Living Center, Saturday I did the Stroh, and Sunday I did the Mallary.  It was a lot of walking, but it was warm in the buildings and I liked poking around in each booth.  
tried out a new pony hahahaha

I talked to so many different people, and I was even offered a job in insurance by one of the State Farm guys hahahaha.  So funny.  I came home with a ton of free pens, a free Lucerne bucket, a free HorseTech winter hat, free shampoo samples, a free Farnam towel.  I bought a few small things, such as the HandsOn gloves for $20, a New England Dressage polo shirt (in teal, of course), a little handpainted dressage horse and rider jewelry dish, and a hand-knitted pair of fingerless gloves (where the proceeds benefitted horse rescue). 
Dreamy went on a field trip to my friend Lauren's barn
I was worried about leaving her alone for five days,
and she seemed to enjoy her little vacation haha!

Overall, I had a great time and I think it was a good experience for Ellie.  It is definitely not something I can or want to do every year, but it was a super fun way to round out our 2019 season!

Comments

  1. What a cool experience! I doubt any of my three would handle that much atmosphere without a major melt down. Ellie has a great brain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ellie definitely deserves a lot of credit for keeping her wits about her! I was super impressed. Really the credit goes to her breeder, who breeds Morgans with excellent brains!

      Delete
  2. What an amazing experience. Ellie did well with all that kerfuffle!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a fun experience and I love your guys' set up! Swoon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I cannot take any credit for VMHA's set up, but it is absolutely beautiful! They have been doing this for so long they really have it figured out! :-)

      Delete

Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving a comment!