A Hello From Newport, Rhode Island

The salty air is much different from that of a horse barn. There are fewer flies, a lot less dirt and there’s not many things on the old “to-do list.” I’ve been living in Newport, working a magazine internship for the last two months instead of working back in my hometown of Orange County. Although a working for free type of job doesn’t pay much, I’ve been counting the money I could have made as a loss and been just enjoying my time investing in my career. I like the magazine industry. It’s simplistic, kind of chaotic and it’s something I actually enjoy doing. Not bad for a career choice.

Being here in Rhode Island is wonderful but it also means that I had to leave the two loves of my life behind, Chris (boyfriend of 4 years) and Raven. Granted, it hasn’t been terrible because I travel the 400 and something miles to see her every two weeks. The first weekend in August will be my third time going to see her since June. We went to our first rodeo together last time I went to see her, what a weekend. A white ribbon lined mane and glitzy clothes made us English girls look and play the part of rodeo queens. We didn’t barrel race, we were only dipping our toes in the whole rodeo scene by going in the Grand Entry (a pattern in which all the horses in the rodeo enter the ring at the same time for the audience to see). Lots of noise and excitement going on but my girl was such a wonderful sport about all the commotion. She was curious but didn’t spook at anything. What a relief, but I knew she’d be amazing, she’s that kind of animal.

This has been quite the journey so far, our western adventure together, and I couldn’t be happier with all the time we have spent together making new friends and traveling to new cities. To think that only a few years ago, right before I started college, we were competing in hunter jumper/jumper classes with heights up to 3 feet in a show arena and now we are in rodeos- what a huge difference.   My favorite moment throughout all of this was seeing the undeniable truth in all horse lovers: it is a lifestyle that is all consuming. It takes you at first glance and wraps you in a love that is everlasting and more rewarding than anything else could ever compare to.

Assume Cowgirl Position

“Cowgirl positioning” Do they sell this stuff somewhere? I’ve been barrel racing now for about two or three months on somewhat of a regular basis and I have to admit we’ve been getting better. “Stuck” is a commonly used term for horse riders, especially those in training for barrel racing. It means that you get “stuck” in certain areas around the three barrel pattern. For Raven and I, it’s approaching the first, around the first, getting out of the first and so on until we’re headed for the third and then she has no problem heading home to the gate. This is where some cowgirl positioning is needed.

It’s messy, unruly and heck it’s sloppy. People from barrel racers of western New York were telling me to “just be sloppy.” For the last fifteen years I’ve been told to sit up straight and push my heels down as far as they can go. Pinched knees while riding was never an option because in an English saddle it causes you to be unsteady to say the least. Being sloppy was ironically hard to do. I actually had to think about being relaxed in my body, who does that? Sitting up was what came natural for me.

Hunched back and pinched knees were all I needed to have a whole new ride this past Tuesday at our weekly BRWNY fun night. I had a new strategy around my barrels and for once I was trying to put the wheels on Raven going in the gate. For months we were getting 20 and 21 seconds and I guess you could say we were stuck. We needed a new strategy. I was overly pleased with our 19.5 second barrel run and 28 second pole run. Thanks to cowgirl positioning, good friends with good advice and my talented mare, we are doing well and having the best of times just having fun.

Irving, New York

 

Attica, New York

 

A Rare Treasure In Life

Left to Right: Raven, Cazanova, Leyna and Tye

There’s rare beauty in the kind of lifestyle that takes you away from the choas of life without taking too far away from home. My friends and I at Starlight Falls Ranch found our own secret getaway nestled amongst the bed of towering trees in Allegany State Park a few weekends ago.

It was my first time ever camping with my horse, let alone three others but I have to say it’s something I’ll be doing again, in the very near future. The trails and camp ground were all our own and the horses, they seemed to settle right in with familiar hay and good company found in each other. You’d think we were all looking for something in the trees over head but it was just our stance to find cell phone reception. Despite our many trips to “service spots” that we found if you stood a certain way in the midst of the woods, we found comfort in being away from our devices.

We made mountain pies (like a sandwich smore cooked over flame in a metal casing) and marshmellows and planned our next days adventure. It was an excape like no other and if any of my readers are in the western New York area, I’d advise you to mark your calendar, call the park and head over to the horse loop with your friends. You won’t regret it.

Jumping For Joy!

 

Barrels: Going Around, Not Over

On Tuesday, May 1, Raven and I entered into our first official BRWNY event as members. Our strategy of keeping it slow and planning out our every stride went out the window when I decided to just go for it. It was wonderful being surrounded by new friends and horses all night long and we didn’t do half bad, for English girls. We’re still learning the western ropes but check out how we did on the barrel racers of western New York website below.

http://brwny.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/May_1_Open.121204245.pdf

 

A Look At Rein&Thunder

Boot Culture, A Personal Favorite

photo credit: Joanna Pinneo

It’s almost the end of another semester in western New York but that doesn’t mean my horse culture involvement is coming to a halt. I’ve been becoming quite the cowgirl.

Horses aside, cowboy/cowgirl boots are a culture within itself here in WNY. You don’t need to ride to own a pair of these beauties but you do need a little dough in the bank. The sweet smell of leather resonates through western New York like the wonderful stench of horse manure cloaks a damp field in the early hours of morning. They’re colorful, wild, daring and they’re a necessity for every “cowgirl.” The heavy price tag should be considered, especially when thinking long term. Most of these gems are hand crafted and 100 percent genuine leather. Some of the pricier boots sport alligator skin and snake skin, which is debatable if they are longer lasting.

Hundreds of years ago, as long as horses have been domesticated, people protected their legs with animal hides. They’d wrap their calves and feet and away they went, bareback across our world. “Wherever there’s a footprint, there’s a hoof print right beside it”-Flicka (love that quote). In an article by National Geographic Traveler it said, “The Mexican vaquero tradition helped shape the development of the boot that 19th-century Anglo cowboys wore while herding the cattle across the central and western states.” The article went on to say that early cowboys wore flat, round-toed boots sometimes recycled from Civil War uniforms. A higher heel was introduced a few decades later to help secure their feet in the stirrups a little better. It wasn’t until the 1870s that the basic cowboy boot we know today came into existence. Boot makers opened up workshops across our country’s western states, primarily in Texas. Embroidery, skins, hand crafting designs and bright colors were on the rise in popularity and creation by the 1920s when boot makers starting getting competitive. The cowboy boot craze trickled across the country, leaving us western New Yorkers with the ravishing “boot.”

So where is everyone getting these colorful creations? For those of you that went to the 2012 Equine Affaire this year, or plan on going, plan to boot shop. Bargaining is big at these fairs so don’t be afraid to kick that price down, it’s worth a try right? I, unfortunately didn’t have any luck at the Equine Affaire with finding a pair. I was pretty overwhelmed and to be honest, I didn’t really know what I was looking for. My sister, a city kind of girl, fell head over heels for the country way of life, including the footwear. She traveled to New Mexico not too long ago and bought a pair of boots, well a couple of pairs. Old Gringos seems to be her favorite due to the comfort factor. Ariat is another choice of boot. While the looks of these two brands of boots can be similar, it really comes down to what people prefer. I’ve always been an ariat kind of girl even though I’ve owned a pair of leather cowgirl boots. Ariat is an equestrian boot, clothing and product line that lasts forever. I swear by it’s durability and for years, I’ve been wearing their high English riding boots and low English boots- not one tear or thread out of place. On average, a pair of cowgirl boots will run you about two hundred bucks. The lowest I’ve seen for mid calf boots with embellishment has been around the 150 mark. I’m taking my sweet time picking out a pair I’ll have for the next…decade. Below I have listed some favorite sites. Enjoy!

http://www.ariat.com

http://www.bootbarn.com

http://www.rods.com

photo credit: Joe Duty