Thursday, July 28, 2011

A visitor!

Yes, we have a visitor at The World's Smallest Equestrian Center (TM). This is Juno:

Yes, she looks terrible, but it's only temporary. She's been out to pasture with a bunch of other horses and obviously got beat up a bit-- she's covered in nicks and bites (the wet-looking patches all over here is where we put some salve to help the cuts heal). She also has yellow mouth from the wormer I'd just given her.

She is a BIG GIRL (about 16hh and beefy!), and, at only 4, still very much a baby. She doesn't quite know what to do with that big body of hers. She is the polar opposite of the Supermodel-- so quiet she's almost dull. Nothing bothers her... not much even really interests her at this point. I figure that with some regular handling and TLC, she will perk up a bit, but I think she's always going to be a sensible soul.

She's here to be fit up and sold. Miss Moira has gone to a friend's barn for some heavy-duty training and conditioning before the CVP event next month, so that friend sent Juno to my place for a makeover and to be sold. She won't be a hard sell. I'll start her under saddle (won't be hard, we've already longed her with a saddle on, she didn't even bat an eye), maybe take her to the Sunnyside show next month (once she looks a little more polished) and she'll be someone's superstar. In the meantime, she'll be a fun little project.

Gia is intensely jealous which is good for her :) She's also not getting much love from Juno so hopefully her herd-boundness will calm down a bit. Until Moira comes back (sigh).

I will keep you updated!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Birthday cupcakes!

How do I know I'm a super baking geek? When my idea of a fantastic Saturday night is diving into a complicated new cake recipe.

(That and I realized that I have four types of flour. Seriously.)

Anyway, I'd been whining about how I never had time to bake anymore, mostly because my focus has been on the horses. But since I made the decision at the last minute to pull Gia from the Willoughby show today, I found myself with some free time last night. And, since I found out that it's Jessy's mom Krista's birthday today, I figured it was exactly the excuse I needed to break out my (slightly dusty) baking tools.

I'd been eyeing up a recipe I'd seen on Sweetapolita for a fluffy white cake and frosting that interested me. It's actually not that easy to make a basic vanilla cake and frosting that isn't too heavy or sweet. In fact, in order to get the light texture, you'll see how much work went into it.

And nothing says "birthday" like a white cake and vanilla frosting! Of course, given the choice between cake and cupcakes, you know I'm going to make cupcakes. And given the choice between regular cupcakes and mini cupcakes, you know I'm going to make minis!

So, I dove in!

In order to make the cake portion, you need:

6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, also at room temperature
2-1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups sifted cake flour (this is important-- not regular all purpose flour)
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes

Preheat your oven to 350, and line your cupcake pans.

In a medium bowl, add the egg whites, 1/4 cup of the whole milk, and the vanilla. When you put those ingredients together, it looks disgusting. Don't lose heart. Beat the mixture for a moment and set aside.

Next, get out your sifter. I know, sifting sucks. It's tedious and really tests your hand strength! But, if you want a fine silky batter with no lumps, it must be done.

Sift the cake flour into a larger bowl.

Once you've recovered, add the sugar, baking powder and salt, and whisk together.

Add the cubed butter to the dry ingredients...

... as well as the remaining 3/4 cup of milk, beat on low speed just until moistened, and then on high speed for 2 minutes.

Add the egg white mixture in 3 batches, beating on low for 20 seconds between each addition. The batter will look odd, I warn you... to me, even after beaten, it looked like it would separate at any moment. It didn't, it just looked that way.

Fill your cupcake liners...

... and bake for about 25-35 minutes. The toothpick test will tell you when they're done.


Let them cool, and prepare for your frosting! Now, I warn you-- this is a labour-intensive process... but it's so worth it!

You'll need:

1-3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

If you can't find a vanilla bean (which, sadly, I couldn't) you can use 1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead.

In a big bowl, beat the tar out of the butter. No seriously, beat it on high speed for 8 minutes. You will feel that your arm is about to drop off. I stopped every once in a while to scrape down the sides of the bowl... hey, it was a good excuse to give myself a break!

When it's been beaten that long, it looks like frosting already. (But blech, I'm sure it still just tastes like butter!) It gets very pale and creamy.

Add the remaining ingredients and beat for ANOTHER 6 minutes. Oh, and be sure to sift your powdered sugar, if you don't want lumps in your beautiful fluffy frosting.

Now that it's done, I had the hard task of choosing what colour the end result should be.

(I have too many choices in my cupboard!)

But... I'm sure no one will be surprised at what I chose...

In my defense, it's Krista's birthday! What better colour for a birthday woman??

Anyway! I frosted all the little suckers (the batter makes at least 50 minis, by the way) and when they were all laid out I thought they needed something more. I immediately thought of sprinkles (there are many situations where I immediately feel that sprinkles are the answer) but I really wanted something more sophisticated. Then I had the answer-- I still had a half-full bottle of edible glitter from my wedding cake pops. So, glittery pink cupcakes it was!

I'm in love :)

And the taste? I actually think this is one of my all-time favourite recipes. As you know, I quite often don't eat what I bake. But these are great, not overly sweet, and a wonderful texture. They also store well (Tupperware in the fridge, then pull them out for an hour and they will be soft again) so I admit to having a few more than my fair share today :)

I hope Krista enjoyed them, I think this is a recipe I'm going to pull out for a few parties in the future!

Although... I think I need to invest in a bit more edible glitter!

Ta ta! Willoughby show update to come!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Always thinking about horses...

This blog used to be about everything in my life, lol, but lately it's just been about Gia. I guess that's just because I'm just always thinking about the horses. That's the way it goes in the summer, I guess... I bake all winter because it's too yucky to ride, and I ride all summer so I don't have time to bake :)

Anyway I had another good lesson yesterday. I like the way Miraya teaches because she makes G work but in a quiet way. It's good to feel like we're actually going somewhere, like it's time for my princess to grow up and be a big girl. I'm glad Miraya is going to be riding her at the show this weekend, I really just want to have a good time and leave the last show behind us. Miraya will make her work through the crazy far better than I could.

Even when she's being a bum and freaking out over nothing, I still can't help but marvel at my mare. This time last year I honestly wondered if she'd ever be rideable. And now... we haven't gotten very far, but she hasn't been under saddle for very long, and she's improving all the time. It's so rewarding.

I love my Supermodel!

(Gia says: "gimme a kiss!" Or, more accurately, "scratch under my chin!" which is her favourite thing)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rising above

I am referring entirely to horses at this point, although there are many other things in my life right now that I am struggling to rise above :)

But I'm talking about Gia's terrible last show. I talked to my instructor about what happened, and where to go from here. I was scheduled for a lesson on Tuesday, I asked her to make it a training ride instead. It went fairly well. It's interesting to watch someone else on Gia, I'm the one who started her under saddle and I'm the only one who's ever ridden her-- except I put Jessy on her to canter for the first time.

When a horse is your "baby", like G is to me, you let them get away with stuff you wouldn't let another horse get away with. So it was really good to see Miraya ride her and really get after her.

She recommended a couple of things... first, a standing martingale. G has a habit of whipping her head around to get away from the bit, which to be honest I'd kind of not really noticed :) I guess I just got used to it.

The other thing she recommended was a B1-Thiamin supplement, to help take the edge off. My farrier enthused about it's benefits as well, so I started her on it yesterday. We'll see how it goes.

We are going to have a lesson and another training ride next week, and then Miraya is going to ride her at the Willoughby show next weekend. I also noticed that she was in flaming, disgusting heat at the last show so hopefully that contributed to the craziness. Ugh. Keep your fingers crossed that this next show is way better.

After that, we will be super busy getting Moira ready for the event at CVP in mid-August, so G won't show again until either Sunnyside or Willoughby on August 28th. And then the big finale (hopefully) of the season is the MREC Labour Day show, which I'm hoping to actually JUMP Gia (gasp!) So we're going to have to work super hard through August to get her going over poles. I don't have high expectations, some crosspole and 2' classes would make me perfectly happy.

We will still have the Sporthorse show on the 23-25th of September to round out the year, but that's no biggie, judging by the last Sporthorse show :)

I am trying to stay fluid in my goals for her. Honestly, even watching her have temper tantrums with Miraya riding, I still had to be grateful because this time last year I was wondering if she would ever be rideable at all.

We'll get there! We're in no hurry.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Courage is not only gifted to the few brave ones,
It is something that lies within you,
Where you can draw upon its strength and power,
In times of crisis, fears and decisions.

Courage is not something mysterious or unattainable,
It is something that you can exercise in your daily life choices,
You can let it bring to you untraveled paths,
And make you more conscious and aware of your life.

Courage does not have to roar to be heard,
It does not mean being totally fearless and being invincible,
It could mean taking actions, taking risks, taking a stand,
Standing up for yourself, standing by your choices,
And sticking to your dreams when others jeered.

Courage could be the will to live in spite of the struggles,
In spite of your fears and phobias, in spite of what others said,
In spite of criticisms and disapproval, in spite of mistakes and failures,
In spite of everything that stands between you and your dreams.

Courage could mean trying over and over again when you failed,
Admitting that you are sorry when you are in the wrong,
Saying I love you when your love is angry,
Having a baby when the idea of being a parent scared you,
Listening to your heart when others called you a fool,
Following your dreams even when others discouraged you,
And staying true to yourself when others want you in another way.

Hold steadfast to your dreams, your heart and yourself,
And courage will not abandon you,
But follows you whenever you choose to go.

- Fion Lim

Sunday, July 10, 2011

You have to take the bad with the good

We went back to Sunnyside Saddle Club for their hunter show today. Gia was terrible. I mean, REALLY terrible. It was probably the worst show I've EVER been to.

She just went completely bonkers because Moira wasn't in the class with her, and became completely uncontrollable. I actually ended up getting off and leaving the class, then scratching the rest of my classes. I've never done that in any of the hundreds of shows I've been to.

She seems to be getting worse with every show, instead of better. I admit to being very discouraged right now.

I am going to separate them. It will mean that Gia will have to live by herself in the back of the barn for a while, but it has to happen. She's a danger to herself and others when she freaks out like that.

On the plus side, Jessy very kindly let me borrow Moira for a walk-trot class and (gasp) a jumping class :) I haven't even cantered a horse in about a year and a half... and haven't jumped in much longer than that. But, Moira being the babysitter that she is, just packed me around the course and we ended up 3rd in a good-sized class.

I was very grateful because it kind of rescued the day for me.

Lesson on Tuesday... our next show is Willoughby on the 24th. Keep looking forward, is all I can do.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Arabians I have known

For some reason, whenever someone has an Arab they need to sell or need worked with, they always seem to find me. I have NO idea why this is! That was a semi-sarcastic remark... I have been a sucker for the Arabs my whole life. It started when I was a freshman in high school... I competed in FFA horse judging, placed 3rd in the state competition and was awarded a chance to compete in the national championship which was held at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show. I was there for three days, and I was totally, utterly hooked. The horses amazed me-- their versatility, their temperaments, and of course, their sheer and utter gorgeousness :)

So began a career with this special breed. I have always said that if you're going to try and make a name for yourself as a trainer, train Arabs. They're like cheating, they're so easy to work with. But I have learned that this is not true for everyone. You have to be a fair, tactful, sympathetic rider, but not afraid to stand firm when necessary. This is exactly the type of rider I am, and the type of horse I like-- in fact, both of my mares are half-Arabs (Moira is Arab and Dutch Warmblood, and Gia is an Anglo-Arab-- Arab and Thoroughbred).

I have meant to do more posts on horses from my past, but as the title of this blog implies, I just don't ever seem to find the time. So, today I am going to give you a little peek at the Arabs who have passed through my life over the years.

I will start way back in 1998, with Oliver Twist (Ollie) an Anglo-Arab pony I bought out of someone's backyard. We showed from schooling shows up to "A" rated large pony hunters. When I sold him in 2000, he went to Japan!

After that, concentrating on eventing and then moving across the state led me in a different direction. I didn't find myself with another Arab again until 2003, when a most amazing thing happened: Chaarlotte.

Chaarlotte has the best story of pretty much any horse I've ever owned, I will save it for her own post. But she is an incredible horse, and when I bought her, she was pregnant by a Paint stallion, whose name I of course can't remember:

... and she delivered a gorgeous black filly, another half-Arab, who we named Chaantilly.

Not long after, I bought my own small farm, and decided to go all out in breeding Arabs and half-Arabs. I leased an amazing stallion named Konfetti:

I tried to compete him, and qualified for Sport Horse Nationals, but he had a really bad colicking problem so eventually had to give the lease up because I wasn't comfortable taking on the liability any longer. But he was so wonderful I ended up leasing his full sister, Pye.

She foaled two fillies in the time I had her: Onyx (by a perlino stallion-- she's actually a smokey black, should have been a buckskin!)

And Beyond Grace (by a TB stallion named Beyond His Years:

At the same time, I had another Anglo-Arab broodmare named Kia:

... who had a gorgeous, and I mean freaking gorgeous, filly by Stormy Auctioneer, whom I named Stormy Romance (Tempest)

Seriously, the baby everyone wants.

I also had a purebred mare named Twitter Pation (who I did NOT get along with well), who never managed to get pregnant, and eventually sold as a kids' horse.

There have also been a few Arabs and Arab crosses (neglect/starvation cases) who came through my life briefly, to be re-homed, like Ruby Tuesday:



And Piffany, a yearling filly... who unfortunately was so badly starved, her organs shut down and she didn't make it.

Like I said, any time there was an Arab in trouble, I was there.

Eventually, due to a bad breakup, I ended up selling all the mares and foals except for Chaarlotte and Chaantilly who I gave to two of my good friends, who still have them. Maybe someday I'll get back into breeding, I really enjoyed it... but for now, I'm trying to focus on showing (although, that isn't going so well for me, lol!)

Eventually I will have more detailed stories on many of these horses... I promise!