Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC
Welcome to Bit of Honey Training LLC

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Day of Firsts for Highboy

This weekend we are in Parker with friends, and we brought Highboy and the dogs.  It's Highboy's first  big trip away from Fort Collins, he was good about arriving last night.  This morning we went to Dawson Butte with Highboy and several other friends and their horses.   Together we did a five mile loop around the trails, through the wooded areas and through lovely green meadows thanks to all the rain we've had this year.  It was great sandy footing.  Highboy was super relaxed, walked in the lead of our group of four horses on a loose rein the entire time.  It was his first trail ride.

There are a bunch of places to school cross country jumping at Dawson Butte as well.  Highboy proved himself as an amazing jumper!  We initially walked around the fences and let him look at everything, then I walked him over some of the lower ground-pole type jumps.  Once he realized this was just like jumping in the arena but over solid jumps, he was all for it!  He cantered quietly and mannerly up to the jumps, hopped over, and loped away to the next fence.  We created a small course out of a little line of jumps, and Highboy thought it was great fun.  He wasn't sure about how to find his distances yet, but he figured it out after only a couple goes.  He popped over logs, rocks with branches, up and down the banks.  Everyone was amazed with him and his athleticism, quiet temperament, and calm attitude!  This was his first time jumping cross country.  One rider commented that it was really something to have the five year old track thoroughbred who has never been on a trail be the calmest horse in the group!  Here are a few photos of the day thanks to good friends and their phone cameras.

He was brave and forward and relaxed!
L to R:  Avatar and Rebecca, Ace and Michelle, me and Highboy, Bo and Michelle
Highboy right at home hacking in the meadow

Saturday, July 19, 2014


It's not very often I feel like my day spent at a horse show feels this good.  Yes, I'm tired and everyone in the house is grateful I showered, but I had such a wonderful day at the saddle club show today in Wellington.  With everything going on I was just proud that I was able to make it to the show at all with Highboy, and that I had three client horses attend as well.  The first clue among the show attendants that I wasn't in my usual situation was my lack of show clothes.  I was asked where my show coat and dress shirt were since I was only wearing breeches, boots, and a polo shirt and usually I dress in a full riding habit for these.  I explained the circumstances and that my show clothes are in a box somewhere in my friend's garage, and that was all that was needed to start the word through the show grounds.

I only had to explain the clothing thing once or twice, and everyone seemed to know what was going on.  I don't know if I've ever felt so buoyed up by a group of people as I did today at that show.  It felt like each person talked to someone who knew someone, and by the end of the day I had a couple solid leads on properties that might work up here!  I don't know if they will pan out in the end, but it was so comforting to have everyone be indignant on my behalf, conferencing among themselves in a concentrated effort to find Kim and Bit of Honey Training a new place!  I love our horse community, the social support was amazing today.

The show was huge.  Possibly the biggest turnout I've ever seen at the saddle club.  We nearly filled the entire field for parking, with about twelve horses in each class for western, and nearly a half dozen people in each english class.  I didn't leave the show until close to 4pm, and reining hadn't even started yet!  It's the last horse show before the county fair, so I'm sure that played a part in the record setting attendance, but I think this year the change from age groups to ability levels was a factor as well.  I love that I can compete against other trainers and advanced riders and I don't have to compete with my own adult students, just because we're all over 19.  If the pattern is too difficult for Highboy I just simplify it and ride what he's able, that way he still gets the show mileage while my students get to compete against other riders in their ability level.

Highboy did all the english classes for our division, and the judge took a moment to ask how old he is.  I explained he's just turned five, and he's off the track just starting under saddle this spring.  She paused for a moment and commented on how incredible a mover he is, and that she sees some amazing potential there.  It feels so good to have people expressing that he's a really cool horse, and that people are seeing in him now what I guess I only imagined when I assessed his conformation about a year ago when he arrived at Bit of Honey.  What a change from the first show of the season when the judge, watching me riding Highboy, grabbed the arm of her ring steward (one of my students who was volunteering) and declared, "this is terrifying".

Because I am still without my computer and therefore sans photo editing software, I don't have any pictures of the day to share, but it was a wonderful experience.  I rarely have felt so supported by our horse community, I enjoyed such nice rides on my eventing prospect, and my students cleaned up in the competition both english and western.  I'm very proud, pleased, and tired.  Grateful for such a wonderful horse community here in Northern Colorado.

Update 9/7/2014:  I've got the photos!  Here are some of Highboy and me sans formal attire.

I'm excited about the reach he has with his left hind leg, so much improved from the short strided halting gait he had just a year ago

He can reach with is right hind, too!

Extended canter or full gallop?
 These two photos are interesting because they show just how in tune Highboy is...  or that I move like a horse.  In all the in-hand photos that are taken of us our legs have matching position and stride.
Taz finally achieved his summer golden palomino color

Joyce and Khreed looking dapper

Friday, July 18, 2014

Successful Dancer

Things are very up in the air for us right now, there just doesn't seem to be another horse property available in our area with what we need.  Sigh.  Keep your ears open, I'm hoping that something will turn up via word of mouth before it comes onto the market.  

I talked to my hay supplier tonight about bringing some hay to the wellington horses.  Over the years he has purchased three foundation quarter horses through me that were all started with combined training including dressage, jumping, and trail riding.  I also did some ranch sorting on Dancer.  He said that they were at a branding last week with the horses.  He had never roped or dragged cattle with Dancer before, but she was the horse he had and just decided to give it a try.  He said she immediately knew what to do, performed perfectly, and then they roped and dragged 4 or 5 calves to the fire.  I can't help but feel crazy proud of our girl, she is TRULY a versatile horse, successful at dressage, jumping, trail riding, but can work on a ranch dragging cattle to the fire, ride 40 miles in a day checking fencing and looking for cattle, and the kids can hop on and ride her anywhere.  I love that mare and I'm so proud! She has truly earned the title of "versatility" horse!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Saddle Fitting in Lafayette

Yesterday I went to Lafayette to a friend's barn to do some saddle fitting and riding lessons.  We had a great day and even got a few photos on someone's phone to document the adventure. 

There are a lot of parts to the saddle fitting process, including evaluating conformation and way of going, riding the horse using the impression pad to see exactly how the saddle fits while the horse is moving, in addition to assessing how the saddle fits the horse while he is standing still.

I also take measurements of the horse's back and shoulders so that if we decide to purchase a different saddle I have something to go on when looking in tack stores for a good fit to try on the horse.

Then after the horse has been worked with the impression pad and ridden, I untack and assess the mold made by looking to see where the dough was displaced to evaluate pressure points.

Overall a really good day with lots of information gained!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Equine Status Briefing

Though I don't have access to photo software to post pictures as proof, the horses of my Bit of Honey herd, though scattered, still maintain their distinct personalities.  Cole the engineer (mechanically intelligent, somewhat low on social skills) evaluated the latches on the stalls at his new temporary barn, and he escaped from his stall shortly after I locked up one evening.  He gorged himself on soaked beet pulp and fortunately then was too full to do anything more than sample the concentrates in their tubs.  We think he mostly walked up and down the barn aisle saying "neener neener" to the other horses still confined in their stalls since there were approximately five manure piles in the barn aisle but he didn't let anyone else out.  That was about a week ago and he's doing fine, no colic no founder.  My husband insists we need to get him a combination lock but not tell him the numbers, then set up a video camera to watch him kneeling in his stall, using his tongue and lips to twiddle the dial listening for the click like in the spy movies.  For now he has a chain acting as a double lock, elaborately wrapped around the stall door that so far has kept him contained. 

Samson made it to the temporary barn as well, after carefully and slowly climbing into my friend's step-up trailer and enduring a cautious short ride into Wellington to my friend's stable.  He was very unbalanced when I unloaded him at the barn, swaying and trembling as he worked to stay upright.  I let him take as much time as he needed to walk to the barn and into the stall (I know all about vertigo!) and he has now settled into the new routine.  He has some wobbly days so I'm the only one handling him for turnout, but he's doing well keeping Major in a reasonable mindset. Major was stressed with the big change from constant turnout to a stall lifestyle, as well as the fireworks around the fourth of July, but Samson is stalled just next to him and has a very calming effect on excitable Major.  That's why I keep Samson around, he's the greatest herd manager I've met. 

The mares and Taz are quite happy at their small mesh hay nets in the stalls.  All the horses get turned out daily while stalls are cleaned and barn chores attended to, and we have a little arena to work in near the barn.  I have scheduled some visits to clients in other places, so Bit of Honey Training is somewhat mobile for now.  We have resumed the search for an appropriate home and facility, so hopefully it won't be too long that we live in this transitional state.

Highboy and Garmin are enjoying living in Fort Collins and I love having them here with me.  I brought my paneled fencing with me and created two little pens in the shape of a figure eight in my friend's pasture.  Garmin has proceeded to back himself up to the joints, shoving the fencing over the ground so as to access new areas of ungrazed grass.  He enjoys turnout with Highboy and Rosie, one of the morgan mares who also lives here.  Highboy is in love with Rosie, and though I only turn him out with her for a short while on the occasional afternoon, they spend the majority of their turnout time romping around together in the pasture instead of grazing.  Naturally Highboy loves everyone, and is constantly trying to get the mares to WWF horse-wrestle with him.  They are more interested in procreation, but fortunately Highboy the gelding has no idea what that's about so we remain a G-rated location.  I've been riding Highboy in the arena here, as well as doing some light gallops in the pasture.  He feels everything is a fun new adventure:  irrigation ditches, bunnies racing around under his feet, neighbor horses and donkeys sauntering over to the fence to greet him on his evening rides around the neighborhood.  Soon he'll be ready for real trail riding! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Movin' Right Along

This blog post is a nod to the muppets and some of their pertinent advice which I've taken to heart in recent weeks due to life circumstances...

"Movin' right along, footloose and fancy free, getting there is half the fun just leave it to me!" :  We sold our house and facility two Fridays ago.  We adore the people who bought it, and they kept M&M, the excellent mouser thank goodness.  M&M was really mad when I trapped her the night before moving day, and so I was very grateful that the buyers wanted to keep her in that building for mouse control.  It was exciting letting her loose, but only a water bowl spilled and I escaped unscathed as she tore out of the open cage, hissing and spitting at me.

The sellers of the property we were trying to purchase backed out on us at the last minute,

so we had to abort the mission and send six horses to my generous friends' barn in Wellington.   Garmin and Highboy are with me, Owen, and the small animals at another friends' place in Fort Collins.  It's complicated getting everyone taken care of for the time being, but I'm grateful to have all the help and support we do.  We're actively looking for a property that can accommodate 15-20 horses in a barn, loafing sheds, pastures, with an indoor arena and a house for the people to live in.  We're planning to stay in the Fort Collins/Wellington/Windsor area, but may consider other properties closer to Denver where I have groups of clients I visit monthly for riding instruction.  Hence my next muppet quote:  "I hope that somethin' better comes along..." 

I'm focusing on being present and just doing the next right thing, getting "from A to C" as my dressage themed bracelet states.  So when people ask me, "What's next?  What's your plan?"  I feel like this: 

I'm busy filling my mind and soul with gratitude for having a place to stay, friends to help us, and that we can eat regularly.  My animals are fed, too, and so we'll press on, hoping and believing that something better is coming.