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Hobby Horse Inc.

  • How Not to Sell Your Horse on the Internet

    Which horse would you rather own? These are the same horse, taken a few days apart. Make the effort to take good photos!

    14.5 Hand Gledling for Sale, Cheep!
    (Or, How Not to Sell Your Horse on the Internet)

    Caveat Emptor: That's Latin for 'Buyer Beware' and it takes on deep and serious new meaning to me as I cyber-search for a new horse on the Internet. With a hole in my barn and a chunk of cash in my pocket (from the sale of an investment horse), I've joined the legions of lookers trying to find Mr. Right--well, in my case, Ms. Right--from online horse advertising.
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  • Barn Blind

    What equestrian doesn’t dream of a tidy little stable filled with contented horses and good grass to graze on? Fancy or plain, we’re all a bit barn blind when it comes to our own horse housing.

    A phrase familiar to horsepeople throughout the centuries, 'barn blind' refers to someone's unreasoned pride in their own horse--regardless of actual condition or quality. I, however, use the term to refer to my single-minded focus that sets in when I am in the market for horse housing.

    When I was a kid, sans checkbook and income, barns were simply what we had available. For most of my childhood, that was a ramshackle collection of buildings that had been added to and ostensibly enhanced over the years. No box stalls, just a couple covered sheds attached to a garage with room to store a ton of hay and some tack.
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  • Choosing Showmanship Pants

    Your showmanship pants can add to--or subtract from--your overall winning look in the show ring. Here's how to choose wisely.

    Pant Picks
    In local open or 4-H shows, unfaded jeans with heavy starch and razor-edge creases down the leg fronts create a crisp look that's acceptable in showmanship. For breed-specific competition, however, where your goal is to project the ultimate picture of professionalism, fitted show pants are your best bet.

    Opt for show pants that hug your figure from waist to mid-thigh - without fitting skin tight- then fall close to your legs until they flare over your boot tops and end with a hem that just skims the ground. Also, look for simple designs, without pockets or yokes, and consider side zippers for a flatter fit across the tummy and a figure-flattering appearance.
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  • Light Horsekeeping

    “Fresh Powder”
    Dragging the arena after it rains is one of my favorite Light Horsekeeping chores.

    It's Sunday, my favorite day of the week. Instead of just a quick feed and clean for the citizens of the backyard, Sunday mornings are when I do my light horsekeeping.

    It starts in the garden, with shears and a cardboard box for the clippings. Then we move to the horse yard (we being little Joe in his stroller, and, recently, Hunter the kitten) and start with manure. All week, it's been collecting in my fleet of two plastic contractor wheelbarrows, and now, our barrows runneth over. Screened with landscape cloth to keep flies away, both containers make it out to the dumpster today, get a quick rinse with the hose, and return to duty.

    Then, we de-web and blow. With an old straw broom, I knock down the fresh spider webs that have been spun this week, always feeling a twinge of guilt: Charlotte's Web casts a big shadow from my childhood to the present. If the spiders would make their tapestries in trees, or in barns and buildings in the neighborhood that are never used, they would remain undisturbed. I apologize and sweep away their homes, then reach for the fabulously useful barn tool, the shop vac. Reversing the power so it blows, I use air power and the long nozzle to dust the barn's walls and floor, ending up with a spotless aisleway and just one small pile of hay and dust to pick up.
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  • Tacky People

    It's true: I'm tacky.

    No, not the kind of tacky describing a person who uses the wrong fork, forgets to send thank-you notes, and wears mismatched socks (although I may have done all those things on occasion). I mean a person who has a tack room overflowing with the bits, bridles, martingales, sidechecks, surcingles, fly spray bottles, cavessons, fuzzy bareback pads, leg wraps, halters, hackamores, saddles, brushes, splint boots, dented salt block holders, longe whips, cruppers, sidepulls, latigos, and other assorted ‘tackle’ that horse people yearn to own.

    If you're born with the horse-loving gene, as I was, perhaps being tacky is inevitable. It started with the pony Santa brought and the white Johnson rope halter and lead that Brian wore. I still remember coveting the wee English saddle that the neighbor girl brought when she taught Brian to ride. It was a pony-size wonder with fittings to match.

    And then, ponies always lead to the Ben Hur connection: carts and harnesses that would confuse an architect but are no challenge to a horse-mad girl of 12. It's possible I never had the harness on exactly right, or adjusted to Pony Club specifications, but it worked and we hardly ever turned over the cart or broke important bones.
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  • Fly Away Home

    Shu-Fly, don't bother me!

    The corrals are finally drying, and my arena has turned from a rock-hard lot to a soft and dusty horse play pen, with the help of the neighbor's tractor. In other words, it's spring.

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  • Happy Mothers Day!

    Ode to the Horse Show Mom

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  • Anchors and Keepsakes

    Suzi age 10 with her first training project, Dotty.

    Suzanne Vlietstra notices the anchors in her life - all the symbols and sounds that prompt memories of farm visits, horses, feeding time, and friends.

    Someone once told me about anchors: the experiences that hold us, like a ship, to a distant shore. Anchors can be tangible items - like keepsakes - but they can also be memories, scents, songs, and tastes that, once experienced, lodge in our souls and bind us fast to that first exposure whenever we encounter them again.

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  • Hobby Horse Product of the Week: Knotty Horse 7-in-1 Detangler

    Hobby Horse Product of the Week:

    Knotty Horse 7-in-1 Detangler

    Hobby Horse loves this new product from Knotty Horse: a premium hair care product formulated for horsemen by a showgirl who knows her stuff!


    Want to know more? Hobby Horse interviews Nicole Krakowski-Papandrea, founder of Knotty Horse Products, and Hobby Horse model:

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  • Women and Horses

    Suzi and her Haflinger Lia, 2017

    Like most of you, I was born with the horse-loving gene. Maybe they switched babies in the hospital because neither of my parents knew much- or cared much- about horses. Mom couldn’t tell a halter from a hackamore, although she bought me several of both over the years. Perhaps, like twins, being a horse nut skips a generation: my grandmother rode a horse to high school and, beneath her photo in the senior yearbook is the caption "Bounding Bertha: best to skip class and go riding with."

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