Thursday, January 23, 2014

My daughter is obsessed with horses. What books might she like to read?

This post has the most hits of any post I've written in the years I've been blogging so I thought it called for an update. I once again enlisted the help of my voracious reader of horse books, my daughter. 

My daughter devours horse books. We've got them all. So I thought I'd try to give you a list with a little something for every age. Most of the comments come directly from my 11 1/2 year old daughter (now 13 1/2 as I update this blog) since I haven't read most of these books. Many we originally found at the library. The Wellesely Library has a great horse book list. Others we stumbled upon through Amazon recommendations. At the end I've included my favorites for grown ups. Some of them you will love wether you are a horse person or not. These are just plain good books. And reading a good book about horses will help any non-horse obsessed parent relate to their horse obsessed child a little more. All titles are linked to Amazon. Several of the books are only available as eBooks.

Early Readers

Keeker by Hadley Higginson - Pre-reader to early reader.  Fun bed time stories.

Pony Pals by Jeanne Betancourt - These were written awhile back.  There are at least 20 books. Similar to Keeker, pre - early reader.

Horse Diaries - 10 books, each written by a different author.  The books are not related to each other, each being about a different horse.  My daughter's favorites are #2 Bell's Star and #10 Darcy.

Elementary School

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry - Marguerite Henry wrote many wonderful horse novels starting with this one which won the Newbery Award and was originally published in 1947.  My daughter enjoyed all the Misty books but didn't really like her other books.  Elizabeth recommends Misty of Chincoteague, Stormy: Misty's Foal and Misty's Twilight.

Wildwood Stables by Suzanne Weyn - There are 6 books in this Scholastic series and was the first series Elizabeth really got into.  She thinks these are good for 3rd grade and up even though the main character is a 13 year old girl.  It takes place in a hunter lesson barn.

Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan - This book is about an orphan girl who lives in an orphanage with a barn.  Elizabeth says it's a really good book.

Running Horse Ridge Series by Heather Brooks - There are 3 books in this series appropriate for 4th grade and up.  The main character's mother died when she was a baby and she lives with her dad.  She's a dressage rider.

Chestnut Hill Series by Lauren Brooke - There are 6 books in this series which, while appropriate for 4th grade and up, is about bratty girls.  This was not one of Elizabeth's favorites.

Middle School (Elizabeth read many of these in 5th grade)

Heartland Series by Lauren Brooke - There are 20 books in this series which Elizabeth says are more sad and realistic.  The main character ages from 12 through high school during the series.  Her family owns a horse rehab center so it's about caring for the horses.

Thoroughbred Series by Joanna Campbell - 59 books in the original series and 15 books in the sequel Ashleigh series.  These are nice books about a girl whose family raises race horses.  Appropriate for 4th grade and up.

Canterwood Crest Series by Jessica Burkhart - This series has 20 books and has been Elizabeth's favorite for awhile.  It's a little Dana Hall (local boarding school with equine program) meets eventing.  There is some basic teen content - romance, social stuff - but appropriate for 5th - 8th grade.

Timber Ridge Riders Series by Maggie Dana - So far there are 8 books in this series.  Elizabeth wrote an email to the author last summer and she wrote back!  The stories are about two 15 year old girls who are eventers.

Horses of Oak Valley Ranch Series by Jane Smiley - These are excellent books.  There are 5 of them so far starting with The Georges and the Jewels.  Jane Smiley is a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist who has always owned horses.  Her editor asked her to write a young adult horse series since they are in such high demand.  If only all series were of this caliber.

Indefensible by Rebecca Frankeny - I read this one to make sure it was OK for E.  The writing isn't the best but even I enjoyed the story.  It's about best friend eventers and their horses.  Good for 5th grade and up but the older the girl the more she'll really get the story.

Bittersweet Farm by Barbara Morgenroth - There are 6 books in this series for horse lovers.  There is definitely some boy girl stuff in these books so better for late middle school.  The girls live on a horse farm, they start off doing hunters and eq then one ends up doing dressage.  Elizabeth is hooked on these books.

The Shadows Breathe and The Shadows Fall by Kathleen Marentes - These books focus on training show horses, primarily Saddlebreds and Arabians.  There are story lines which include horse abuse and drugging and people who work to stop the abuse.

Turning on a Dime by Maggie Dana - By the same author as the Timber Ridge Rider series, the main character travels through time to the Civil War era.  Another favorite of Elizabeth's.

Show Jumping Dreams by Claire Svendsen - This is a series of over 20 books. They're all good and flow one to the next. A girl loses her sister and mother and ends up living with her father and accumulates 4 horses. There are some mean girl dynamics, boys in the later books.

Young Adult

Shadow Horse and Whirlwind by Alison Hart - These are definitely young adult books, again, according to Elizabeth who read them at age 11.  The main character is a teenaged girl who ends up with a foster family who runs a rehab center for animals.

A Circuit by Georgina Bloomberg - Young adult, 8th grade through high school.  I bought one of these for Elizabeth and made the mistake of not pre reading it.  There was a scene with a keg party and some heavy boy girl stuff.  My sons discovered the problem and we pulled the book.

Dancing with Horses by Toni Mari - There are currently 3 books in this series about a college aged dressage rider trying to make it to the North American Junior Young Rider Championship.

Alex and Alexander by Natalie Keller Reinert - This is a 4 book series about life at the race track. Alex, the main character, is in her mid-twenties.

Ambition by Natalie Keller Reinert - This is the only book currently available in this series focused on eventing. It takes place in Florida and the main character has always dreamed of having her own farm. She is trying to make her way as an event trainer.

Nadia and Winny by Rachel Eliker - This two book series (Headed for the Win and Road to the Ragalia) is about an event rider moving through the upper levels who changes places with her horse (think Freaky Friday, equine addition).

Great Books for High School Kids through Adults (ranked by how much I enjoyed them)

Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley - This is my all time favorite book.  I reread it every year.  I don't know if I love it because I love horses or just because it is such a great book.  She writes about the horses as though they were human characters and it is awesome.  It's about horse racing but really, it's about horses and the people who live with them.  So well written and I learned a ton about horse racing and training.

Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts - This is one of those random books I bought having no idea what it might be about.  I wanted to read it to make sure it was appropriate for E and I got totally hooked.  It's your typical - and true - underdog story about an amazing horse saved from the slaughter truck who went on to win many times at Madison Square Garden.  Again, maybe I loved it because I love horses but I think anyone who loves a good, well written story would embrace this one.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand - I'm guessing you've read the book or seen the movie.  The book, as usual, is WAY better than the movie.  Another great underdog story.  Super well written non-fiction tale of the triple crown winning race horse.

Horse People by Michael Korda - Another book I randomly picked up because it had a horse on the cover.  I was so pleasantly surprised by this book written by the editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster.  He tells numerous stories about his interactions with horses and horse people.  A rider himself, he has some good stories to tell - from fox hunting in the South to riding in Central Park in New York.  I've read criticism of this book for being more about wealthy people and their lifestyle rather than about the connection between people and their horses but I enjoyed it anyway.  I think it's a horse book non-horse people can enjoy.

Falling for Eli by Nancy Shullins - This was a lovely memoir about how a horse can come into a life and completely change it. Nancy Shullins tells her story with sensitivity and humor. I don't know if a non-horse person would get as much out of this book but it would probably be a valuable read for anyone with a horse person in their life. It might give you some perspective on the depth of the relationship between horse and rider.

And that's my list! Happy reading for you and your horse obsessed child!


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Blanketing: Why does the pony have more clothes than I do?

****Note: The links in this post aren't really recommendations.  At the bottom I will give you a run down on what I know of brands and places to buy them but I am putting links with lots of the items I mention just so you have a reference point for what I'm talking about.

Living in New England, blankets are a pretty serious topic.  Everyone kind of develops their own system and brand preferences and you will too.  However, we all need a jumping off point.

Last winter we were at a barn that really took care of the blanketing for us.  Our leased pony came with blankets and we didn't think about it too much.  Heading into winter this year we had a new pony and no blankets.  I didn't even know where to begin.

One big issue is that pony sizes are hard to come by so where horses have the option of buying a set from one brand and having all the layers work together, ponies end up with a bit of a hodge podge.  Then there is the issue of where to buy blankets.  I like to buy from my local tack shop.  It saves shipping costs and means I can try things out and exchange them if they don't work.  This is really important with blankets - just as it is with saddles and bridles.  But when it comes to ponies, the local shop won't always have what you need.  Sometimes, they can't even order it!  In that case, Just for Ponies is the place to go.  Even then you may not find what you need.

So what do you need?  It depends on where you live but if temps get down to 20 degrees in your area you should, at a minimum, have a turnout sheet, a cooler and a heavy.  A turnout sheet is the horse version of a lightweight rain jacket.  It can be put on when it's 50 and raining to keep the horse dry.  We also use ours overnight before a show so the clean pony can't get dirty when he rolls.  A cooler can take many forms but is essentially a cotton or fleece layer that can be put on either to keep a damp pony from catching a chill or as a layering piece under a turnout sheet.  So if it's 30 and rainy you may put a fleece cooler under the turnout.  Turnout sheets also come in medium and heavy fill powers so the heavy is like a super warm North Face down coat, usually with 300 grams of fill.  The medium is just a little lighter, usually around 200 grams of fill.  Both should be waterproof.  Many, like the Smartpak Deluxe, can be ordered in any or all of the 3 weights.  Sometimes you find you can order your blankets in a set which gives you more layering options rather than a heavy weight turn out.  I'm surprised by how much we use both the heavy and the medium.  Sometimes one of them gets wet so it's nice to have the other one available.  If you have a horse you are likely to have for a long time it's worth have a good selection of blankets and sheets.

If you live in a cool climate, a quarter sheet is a really good idea.  I made the one in this photo from a blanket called a Chappy Wrap.  A quarter sheet is soft and warm and is used to keep the horse warm while riding on a really cold day.  It has side extensions that go under the saddle flaps and meet in front of the saddle where they velcro to keep the sheet in place while you ride.

There are several other types of blankets and sheets out there.  Typically if someone refers to a sheet they mean the lightweight turnout.  However, there are also stable sheets.  These are not waterproof and are more appropriate for a life indoors.  It's nice to have a stable sheet for trailering or for putting on when they come in on a rainy day so the turnout can hang and dry.  It can also be a good layering piece.  The Baker Blanket is an equine staple and we have 2.  They are great for layering and come in wool or cotton.  We have cotton which is easy to take home and run through the washing machine (more on cleaning horse clothes in a minute).  Another good item to have in your equine wardrobe is the anti-sweat sheet.  This is similar to a cooler and is used to keep a sweaty horse from getting chilled.  It soaks up sweat but is like netting so it allows air in to dry the horse while keeping him warm.  There are certainly other items out there including dress sheets.  Some people like to have a separate set of blankets they use only for shows when the horse is clean and they want to look good.  They usually have a nicer trim and are embroidered with a monogram.  Most tack shops also offer a line of custom sheets and coolers.

If you plan to clip your horse's neck or if you live in a severely cold climate, a neck cover - or a heavy weight blanket with a high neck - might be necessary.  If you want a neck cover it is best to buy one that goes with your sheet.  Again, with ponies, this is a tall order.  I did end up finding one that fit our pony but then the sheet of the same brand didn't work with it. Fortunately, it does work with our medium and our heavy.  Eventually I'll get around to adding rings to our lightweight so it will work with that too but it still isn't ideal.  If you can, try to buy them together.  There are a few different systems out there but for the most part they have velcro or hooks on the underside of the neck cover that attach to the neck edge of the sheet either through metal rings or belt loops.  This is one of those things that's nice to buy at a tack shop so you can see how it works before making your choice.

To order blankets you will need an idea of what size your horse will wear.  The size corresponds to a measurement you can take.  Using a soft tape measure, start at the center of the chest and measure to the tail.  This is really only a starting point.  Our pony measures 63 inches but he has short legs and a big barrel.  Some blankets are long on him and a 66 fits better than a 63.  Like people clothes, some brands run big and others run small.  Some run in 2 inch increments, others in 3 inch.  Some have pony sizes and some do not.  Once you find a blanket or sheet that fits really well, take it with you when shopping for sheets and use it as a comparison.  Take notes on which brands and sizes fit well and keep it on your cell phone so any time you are out shopping you can remember if it was Weatherbeata or SmartPak that ran big for your guy.

Now that you have a wardrobe, I suppose you'd like to know how to use it.  This is something that just takes time and experimentation.  The goal is to keep the horse warm without causing him to sweat.  You don't want to over blanket.  If a horse gets sweaty and gets his blanket wet he can catch a chill as the temperature drops.  This is all pretty basic common sense.  If your horse has a heavy winter coat he won't need as much clothing as a thoroughbred with no hair.  If you do a full clip, you need to put on extra clothes.

Clipping may be another post but you may have no idea what I'm talking about so I'll try to explain briefly.  When you work a horse for an hour, even on a cold day, they can work up a sweat.  Before you can put the horse in his stall for the night, he must be completely dry.  You can't blanket a wet horse for the night.  If your horse is particularly fuzzy it can take a very long time walking him around to cool him out - we're talking about an additional 45 minutes.  So, you can shave off some hair to reduce sweating as well as the time it takes to cool down.  We full body clipped Pumba in October but it's pretty much fully grown out now.  For the coldest part of the winter we are just clipping him under his neck, across his chest and belly just past the girth.  You have to experiment with your own horse and the amount and type of riding you do to know how much clipping is optimal for you.  Follow this link for some information on clipping.

With blankets and clipping come blanket rub, yet another thing I had no idea about until one day I noticed an area on our pony where the fur had literally "rubbed" away.  Even really nice, well fitted blankets can give a horse rub.  On a chestnut horse it looks like a small patch of grayish dirt.  It's pretty easy to see on a light grey pony - it's typically dark grey against their light hair.  The real issue with allowing rub to continue is that eventually, all the hair in the affected area will wear away and the blanket will then begin to rub and irritate the skin.  I guess you could think of it like a bed sore.  The chest area is usually the worst and there are a few products on the market to help prevent rub.  Stretchies are usually the first line of defense.  You can buy a full body stretchy or one that covers the chest area and which many people refer to as a "bra".  Another option, and definitely a brand recommendation, is the Bossy Big which completely eradicated rub from the portion of our pony that it covers.  The stretchy just didn't work for us but the bib is a life saver.  We find that our Baker Blanket causes more rub than a fleece cooler if we need to layer - we recently had a stretch of sub-zero temperatures that had us layering under Pumba's heavy!  We also find that rotating blankets helps since different blankets fit a little differently and put pressure in different spots.  Most sheets have a nice slippery layer against the pony to minimize friction but some horses are just prone to rub anyway.  We find our Amigo heavy and SmartPak Deluxe medium are really good sheets and don't cause much rub.

Horses are dirty and love to roll in the mud so your pony clothes will get filthy.  Our barn sends sheets out at the end of winter for cleaning.  You can also have older sheets waterproofed if they are starting to leak though it seems as though once they start leaking, they never stop.  We sometimes take blankets to Dover Saddlery to send out for cleaning and I know there are other places that do it as well.  Dover is just really convenient for us.  I do wash coolers at home in my washing machine.  We usually put duct tape around the metal parts to preserve our washer and dryer.  Be prepared if you wash blankets at home you will find horse hair in everything you own!  It's probably not a good idea to wash sheets at home for several reasons.  Firstly, they are seriously dirty.  Secondly, you may damage their waterproof finish.  Thirdly, medium and heavy weight turnouts are super big and may overload your washer.  Having them cleaned once a year at the end of the season is usually sufficient.

So, in case you couldn't tell already, my favorite places to shop are Dover Saddlery, SmartPak and Just for Ponies.  We are super super super lucky to live in Wellesley, Massachusetts which boasts brick and mortar Dover and SmartPak stores.  We have even been so lucky as to find blankets in the discount attic at SmartPak and basement at Dover.  We love the SmartPak brand blankets.  Weatherbeeta tends to make sheets with the most fun fabrics.  Horsewear Ireland makes both the Amigo and Rambo brands which are pretty much top of the line in both price and design.  We got an Amigo from a friend and it is super nice.  It fits really well and when I'm out shopping I notice both brands take advantage the most innovative design and textiles.  If you can afford it, I think they are worth the money ($400 for a Rambo heavy vs. $200 for a SmartPak heavy).  But I am just about as happy with our SmartPak sheets so you don't HAVE to spend more.  I do think Horsewear does a better job with neck covers so if you intend to use a neck cover frequently you might really think about splurging.  Also take into account how long you will have the particular horse you are clothing.  It's rare that the next horse fits in the same blankets.  If you are leasing for a year, you might not go for the extensive wardrobe of high end blankets.  If, however, this is a young, forever horse, I would buy blankets that really fit well and will perform for a long time.

SmartPak has some great resources on their website including a Blanketing 101 article and a Blanketing Glossary.  Both are worth a look if you still have questions.

Have fun dressing your pony! -

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pony Club: What is it? Should we join?

I first heard of Pony Club when I took my daughter to a great dressage barn up in Maine for lessons a few summers ago.  The barn owner made an obscure reference to having jumped 4 feet without stirrups and all that other crazy pony club stuff but she was done jumping.  I was mystified and wondered what she meant. 

When we decided to change barns, we soon found ourselves out of our depth.  Our first barn, like most hunter/jumper barns, took care of everything for us.  I had no idea what the pony ate or when, or any idea what to do about veterinary and dental care.  They arranged all of it and I wrote a check.  On show days the instructors loaded the ponies into their trailer and drove them to the show.  It was great!  Then again, I like knowing all that stuff and doing it for myself.  When we switched to eventing, our new trainer (a past pony clubber herself) was willing to show us what to do and stand next to us as we learned but she wasn’t going to do it for us.  This was just what we wanted but it was also a little intimidating.  We needed more support, more education.  Enter Pony Club.

I often describe Pony Club to non-horse friends as Girl Scouts but you bring your pony. The United States Pony Club is divided into regions which each contain a number of clubs.  Clubs can take 2 forms.  A Center is one in which a barn, and often one particular instructor, runs a pony club at their facility for the kids who ride there.  The advantage to this model is that kids who may not have access to their own mount can participate easily.  The downside can be that the education is less broad, coming primarily from the instructor they ride with each week.  In contrast, ours is a traditional Pony Club, meaning that it has no single location.  Many of our members keep their ponies at home (any equine animal being used by a pony clubber is known as a pony, regardless of size) and most of the mothers ride as well.  We have several barns in the area that host us and one that hosts our annual August camp.  The advantage to this type of club is exposure to many instructors from multiple disciplines and the presence of experienced horsepeople in the ranks of our sponsors (what they call the parents of pony clubbers).  I suppose the downside to this model is that it’s difficult to participate fully without your own pony or your own trailer but I’ve been really impressed with the horse community in our area and how much they have done to keep kids in the program.

Pony Club provides an enriching program of education in both horse management and riding.  Over time, members achieve “Ratings” based on their proficiency in these two areas.  Pony Club originally emerged from the eventing discipline so the traditional path is heavily influenced by the skills and riding style of the eventer but there are now other paths one can take through pony club at the higher levels.  Ratings are conducted once or twice a year depending on the number of participants and the levels they are testing for.  You can think of it like a karate test for a higher belt.  The candidates are being tested against a standard.  All can pass or all can fail or there can be a mix.  Sometimes candidates pass one portion such as horse management but not another, such as the riding portion.

The ratings are as follows:

Unrated – What we call a pony clubber prior to their first ratings test.
D1, D2, D3 – D1 is the first rating attained and is pretty basic.  By the time a rider reaches the D3 they are jumping 2’3” both in an enclosed space and in an open field as well as having a pretty hefty knowledge of tack, horse anatomy, veterinary care, etc. The D3 level is the first to require a record book which includes a good deal of information about your pony - farrier and vet visits, training, costs of everything.  My daughter is a D2, hoping to do her D3 next fall. 
C1, C2, C3 – This is pretty serious stuff. I observed a C1/C2 rating conducted by a national examiner and was seriously impressed with the young women who tested (and all passed).  The C2 is jumping over 3’.  The C3 gets particularly serious with candidates switching horses for part of the riding portion.  The young women in our club who are C2’s are juniors and seniors in high school. Ratings C3 and above are conducted on the national level.
HB – This rating means you have achieved a B rating in horse management but have not yet rated a B in riding.  Some candidates prefer to do their HB first and their C3 after. 
B – The “traditional” B rating is both horse management and riding and includes all possible riding options.  There are paths that allow a person to focus on dressage riding or hunter style riding in an enclosed space without jumping in the open.
HA – Similar to HB but at a higher level of knowledge.
A – The “traditional A rating” is the highest level in pony club and must be attained by the age of 25.  It is extremely rare that a rider makes it through this rating.  Not only does the rider need to be extremely knowledgeable and capable, they need to have a horse that can jump high for them as well as for a fellow pony clubber who has never ridden their mount before.

Now that you are thoroughly confused, I’ll tell you a little about why we LOVE Pony Club.  Elizabeth and I have both made friends in Pony Club.  In the beginning I called our new friends almost daily with questions and they were always there for us.  Our club conducts 2 mounted meetings per month April through November which means Elizabeth and her friends are taking their ponies places together on a very regular basis.  The impact this has on my daughter’s connection to her pony and her confidence is enormous.  The camp our club does in August was the greatest week of Elizabeth’s life.  As horse camp goes, it’s incredibly low cost.  Parents provide the supervision and the kids do all the work.  They muck their own stalls, take turns coming early to feed and late to do night check.  They ride twice a day and have a multitude of instructors.  They even completed a 3-phase event within camp.  I loved it so much I’m in charge of camp for next year.  We love pony club because we feel like a real part of our community.  We know people now anywhere we go – to a horse show, another barn, the tack shop.  Elizabeth is passionate about horses, not just winning ribbons.  For her Pony Club is as exciting as showing, maybe more so since there is no pressure during a mounted meeting, and her ratings mean a great deal to her.  On a practical side, your Pony Club rating means something to other horse people.  When you tell someone you are a C3, they know what it means.  Your rating is a clear indication of your knowledge and your capabilities as a rider.

Pony Club is also about leadership.  The older girls in our club conduct the lower level ratings, teach unmounted meetings and mentor kids who are working on a rating.  They also act as stable managers at rallies and as such go to bat for their riders over the rules when they deem a ruling unfair – this is sometimes amusing for the adults to watch but also gratifying to see typically shy horsey girls handle themselves with strength and determination.

Did I lose you at rally and stable manager?  The other major thing we do in Pony Club is rally.  There are 5 - 6 rallies in each region each year.  A rally has a theme – dressage, show jumping, eventing, tetrathalon (don’t ask, but it involves swimming and shooting and is super fun), quiz (tests horse knowledge).  Clubs form teams of 4 – 5 riders.  Each rider is considered and scored based on their own rating so a team can have D’s, C’s and B’s all together.  There is a written test in addition to the scored riding portion of the rally which resembles a horse show.  There are also inspections of each pony and rider team and of the teams’ stabling areas.  The stable manager is a member of the team who does not ride in the competition.  The stable manager makes sure each member of the team is where they need to be and is doing what they should be doing, that their tack is clean and in order and that they are doing things in the proper order.  Awards are given for both riding and horse management.  Some rallies are "qualifying rallies" meaning that competitors can qualify for nationals and compete in a bigger pony club arena.  Every three years nationals takes place at the Kentucky Horse Park so it's pretty exciting!

My favorite part of rallying is “turn back” in which each team must clean all their tack and reorganize their stable area to absolute perfection for one final inspection before they pack up to go home.  This is a GREAT life lesson!!!!  It is so wonderful to get home to unload and be all ready for the next day because the work was done right away, especially since it is usually very late at night by that point and you've already put in a 16 hour day.

What is the commitment?  Well, like all things with horses, pretty big, but in my eyes manageable and well worth it.  I’m sure every club is different but we have one “sponsor’s” meeting a month (skipping August and December), mounted meetings in the good weather, unmounted meetings in the winter.  A member is really expected to attend most of these meetings and a parent is expected to accompany them.  If a member is working toward a new rating there will be rating prep meetings to attend as well as the rating itself.  This can be extremely time consuming.  Rallies and camp are optional but add greatly to the experience.  As kids get older and have more commitments outside pony club or are more focused on showing, they will sometimes choose not to go to camp.  Many of the rallies fall on days we have a horse show so Elizabeth only rallied once in 2013 but we hope to rally much more in the year ahead!  Financially, Pony Club is a bargain as horse activities go.  We pay dues to our local club and our national organization.  We fundraise, requiring every member to do 3 - 4 shifts at a horse show concession stand in the summer and for one parent to join them for each shift.  Each mounted meeting usually has a fee – in our club the member pays the facility use fee and our club pays the instructors, making the fundraising well worth the effort.  Rallies cost about as much to enter as a schooling show.  The big expenses are the horse and transportation which is why I bought a trailer.  I can’t imagine being in pony club without a trailer.  I have friends who do it but it would drive me crazy to never be 100% certain how I was getting anywhere. 

Pony Club teaches kids to be independent and responsible.  They learn the skills and knowledge required to be good horse custodians.  Because of the heavy parent involvement, we learn about being good custodians as well.  Since having a horsey child can take over a good portion of your time, it’s really nice to find a group of non-competitive parents to bond with on the topic.  I can’t say enough about how healthy and productive the Pony Club experience has been for us.

One of my favorite things about Pony Club is the interaction between kids of varying age groups.  Our club has kids from age 8 - 18 and you are as likely to find an 11 year old and 16 year old chatting as you are to find two kids of the same age together.  My daughter has more in common with a pony clubber two years older than her than she does with most of the girls in her class at school.  The older girls are wonderful mentors and good friends to the younger girls.  As parents we love watching them build relationships built on more than just their age or grade in school.

I could go on all day and still only scratch the surface so if you would like more information here are a few links.  Pony Club's new website has a great page for parents with some basic information.  This D Level ratings flowchart will give you an idea of what is required both in knowledge and riding skill at the first 3 levels of pony club ratings.  Whether you join Pony Club or not, if you buy or lease a pony the D Level Manual is a great resource.  We have actually found the C Level Manual to be of even greater use.  It doesn’t take long to need that little bit more information about horse management issues when you have your own pony.  Both manuals are also available from Amazon for the Kindle.  There are other awesome Pony Club books, especially if you already know a good deal about horses and just want to expand your knowledge.

For our family, the idea of having a pony and just riding it doesn’t quite work.  A pony enables our daughter to do a sport but it's not the equivalent of a lacrosse stick or hockey skates.  A pony is not just a pet but another member of the family.  Many days Pumba is Elizabeth's best friend.  They are a team and sometimes they get along and sometimes they don't.  A pony needs constant care and attention. Fortunately Elizabeth loves everything about having a pony from mucking to tacking, from riding on the flat, to going over jumps in the field (which sometimes scares her but she loves to do it anyway).  She's passionate about learning about horse illness, dangerous plants, how to wrap her pony's legs properly.  And she loves to just spend time talking to him, grooming him and giving him treats.  Buying Elizabeth a pony was a great decision and Pony Club has contributed a great deal to the happy circumstances we now find ourselves in.

Happy Pony Clubbing!


Thursday, January 9, 2014

If I buy or lease a pony for my child, what will our time commitment look like?

So I'm kind of excited that a total stranger found my blog and asked me to give her the low down on what a week of my life as a horse mom really looks like.  I'm happy to share but caution you not to be scared off by what I tell you.  I've just been proof reading this post and warn you that it's seriously boring.  This one lacks entertainment value.  However, I think it's a pretty full and honest account of what I do as a horse mom.

The degree of insanity is, to some extent, up to you and to another extent dependent upon which discipline your child rides in and the culture of the barn she rides at.  But I will say that having a pony can give any other sport on the planet a run for its money in time and financial commitment as well as required parental involvement.  Downhill ski racing kind of comes close as does ice skating but when skiers and skaters are done they don't need to spend an extra hour caring for the animal that enabled their competition.  If their equipment gets damaged, they can buy new skis.  Not so with a pony.  Just saying.

A major factor in the amount of time I spend engaged in Elizabeth's pony activities is that she is too young to be dropped off at the barn on her own.  Sometimes I leave her there for a couple of hours to clean tack but for the most part if she's there, I'm there.  She will be so happy when she's old enough to hang out at the barn on her own and she can spend every day all summer long with her pony.  I suppose it's also fair to say I love being Elizabeth's horse mom and I like taking care of Pumba so if you really aren't into horses yourself, I'm guessing there is some lower maintenance way to go about all of this.  It may not give your child the depth and breadth of experience Elizabeth is having but that might be OK.

This time of year, being a horse mom in New England is kind of miserable.  My daughter only rides 4 days a week in the winter but most of those days I sit watching bundled in in ski pants, a down coat, mittens with hand warmers and a ridiculous but warm rabbit fur hat.  Sometimes I ride at the same time she rides which is definitely better.  Elizabeth has 2 one hour lessons per week and we have her trainer ride her pony one day per week so he works 5 days per week.  We ski with our family every weekend of the winter so this is a nice time of year in the sense that riding takes a bit of a back seat in our lives.

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I pick Elizabeth up from school at 2:30.  Wednesday and Friday she has a lesson from 3:30 - 4:30.  They usually alternate between jumping and flat lessons and this time of year they focus on correcting problems by doing drills and exercises targeted to help both Pumba and Elizabeth fix whatever isn't working.  The other days she rides on her own or with a friend, often reinforcing what she does in her lessons.  Sometimes I set up jumps for her on non-lesson days but we do less of that in the winter.  Once in awhile we go for a walk through the woods and fields.  Riding in the indoor for months on end gets pretty monotonous.  We usually get home around 5:00.  We go away for Christmas and February break and have other people ride the pony or give him time off.  Going directly from school is the only way I can make this work.  Elizabeth has two older brothers.  I am very fortunate that they are independent, do their sports at school and have other means of getting home.  After I get home from the barn I am often back on the road taking them to karate, attending track meets and of course cooking dinner.  But I'm grateful that I have found a way to support Elizabeth while still taking care of my boys.

Winter grooming is pretty low maintenance since you can't bathe your horse.  We clipped Pumba in
October, shaving his entire body, which took me a few hours one day while Elizabeth was at school.  It took longer because I clipped a fun design onto his butt.  His coat has now fully grown back in and we just keep his chest and belly shaved during the coldest months.  We do this so that he doesn't sweat during a workout.  If Elizabeth finishes riding and he's wet and sweaty, it can take a very long time to cool him down and dry him off.  He needs to be completely dry before we blanket him for the night.  We keep a close eye on the weather and change his blankets or call the barn and ask someone to do it accordingly.  Sometimes he needs to be changed multiple times a day.  Keeping him clipped helps reduce the amount of
cooling down time needed.  I'll likely clip him more fully again in late February just before he starts to shed out his winter coat as the weather gets a little warmer.  We let his mane go a little raggedy in the winter but I do spend 30 minutes pulling it every few weeks just to keep it manageable.  You can also "roach" the mane which means to just clip it off.  If you do it early enough in the winter it will grow back in time for braiding during show season.

Pony Club is also a little quieter this time of year.  I have one parent's meeting a month in the evening.  Elizabeth has 2 unmounted meetings per month which I attend with her and where she learns about tack, horse health, safety, vet care and other horse management topics.  There are a few bigger events as well but generally a much lighter load than in the good weather.  Meetings run about 2 hours and the bigger events, being further away, take up the better part of a weekend day.

Whatever the time of year, a pony still needs visits from the farrier.  Our pony is shod every 6 weeks.  I don't have to be there but I do have to remember to leave money for the farrier and to organize lessons around his visits.  I do like to be there when our vet comes.  She generally comes out to give spring and fall shots.  Once in awhile something goes wrong and you need to bring the vet out.  We saw too much of our vet over the summer when we were borrowing the world's greatest pony from a friend.  She had some eye problems and they never resolved so we ended up sending her back to our friends' barn where they cared for her. Our vet also comes out if we are doing some type of joint treatment.  Many if not most eventing (and for that matter any other discipline) horses get some type of anti-inflammatory, joint injection or other treatment for stiffness or soreness.  The treatments range from IM injections of Adequan - which I now do myself - to IV injections of Legend or Polyglycan - which I have the vet come do - to more major procedures such as having hocks injected or blistering stifles.  (Did you read that and think what the heck does any of that mean?  Don't worry about it.  Hopefully you won't need to know any time soon and then suddenly you'll know more than you want to!) The costs and efficacy also vary but what you need to know is that active horses get sore.  Sore horses don't perform well and aren't happy.  We ask so much of our equine partners I'm pretty liberal with veterinary care to keep ours comfortable.  Of course there are a thousand other reasons for the vet to come out so make sure you maintain a good relationship with yours.

Sometime in March the ground will thaw and we will again be able to ride outside for more than just a hack in the snow.  We stop skiing and focus on riding by mid-March.  At that point, Elizabeth rides 6 days a week.  Our plan this season is for her to stick with 2 lessons per week.  As the season progresses the lessons start to focus on whatever Elizabeth has coming up the following weekend.  Shows start in April and she will likely have either a show, pony club mounted meeting, pony club rally or an outing to go XC schooling somewhere every weekend from April through October.  She competes in both dressage shows and eventing 2 and 3 phase shows and so far all have been schooling shows though one of her goals for the end of this season is to go to a rated show.  After a big outing or show the pony always gets a day off.  In August her pony club hosts a camp at a nearby barn and she rides twice a day with different instructors.  We plan to bring the pony with us to Maine for vacation weeks this summer.  We have a house there and found a barn nearby where we can rent short term stall space.

During a typical week in the show season I will pick Elizabeth up from school everyday at 2:30.  She will ride on her own or in a lesson.  If she has a show or pony club rally (I'll explain in my pony club post) we will stay at the barn late the night before to bathe the pony, clean tack, prepare the trailer.  I braid her pony for her but soon she will learn to do it herself because it takes me 1 - 2 hours, I get faster as the season progresses.  If she just has a pony club meeting or is going schooling we don't have as much prep work.  Once we get to the summer, Elizabeth likes to wash her pony pretty often, at least once or twice a week.  We hose him off after every ride in the good weather and let him graze while he dries.

On show days we get to the barn at least an hour before we need to depart.  I hook up the trailer while Elizabeth gets her pony from his paddock.  We check him over to make sure he didn't roll and get filthy or lose a braid.  We usually have a plan so if her first event is at 10am we want to be at the show before 9am to park, unload, check in, change, warm up.  Our shows are usually pretty close by and I always leave a significant time cushion so for a 10am start 20 minutes from our barn we will leave our barn around 8am.  A show day starts early and ends late.  That's all there is to it.  But at least we are usually home for dinner.  When competing in eventing and dressage, riders are given a time slot for each phase or test so you have a pretty good idea how long your day will be before you get started.  Hunter shows are more like swim meets making for a really long day with classes sprinkled throughout the day.  A pony club rally starts even earlier and ends much later.  We only rallied once last year but I don't think we got home until after 10pm.  In addition, rallies usually warrant a separate rally prep meeting so the kids can work with their rally team to make sure they have everything they will need on rally day.

Pony club mounted meetings are the best!  These, along with pony club camp, are Elizabeth's favorite.  She gets to ride in a relaxed atmosphere with all her friends.  I get to hang with the other moms and total time in for a mounted meeting is really only about 3 - 4 hours with trailering and everything.  Camp was a big time commitment but so worth it.  Monday morning of camp week we trailer over with everything Elizabeth owns and set up her stable for the week.  Parents take 2 - 3 half day chaperone shifts during the week.  We took a turn feeding one morning because Elizabeth really wanted to do it so that day we arrived at 7am.  After feeding all the horses Elizabeth took care of her own pony and tack.  The kids all participate in a Wednesday night jumper show the week of camp so that day we are there late.  Friday afternoon is all about packing up and returning to our home barn, unpacking and going home exhausted.  This year I'm in charge of camp so I'll be spending even more time there which is fine with me!

Our pony club does a fundraiser in the summer.  We run a concession stand during the Wednesday night jumper shows at the barn that hosts our camp.  Every family is responsible for 4 three hour shifts during the season and the pony clubber is expected to work as well as their parent.

Pony Club ratings are a big deal and take serious preparation.  For the most part they are a test of the things you should be doing every day, a rider should not be rating above their everyday activity level.  However, there is still a good deal of time spent preparing for both the horse management and riding sections, cleaning tack, calming nerves.  A pony clubber won't necessarily do a rating every year.  Elizabeth did 2 last year and hopes to be ready to do another in the fall.  We organize study groups and focus some lessons on the standards.

Last summer we engaged in 2 pony hunts so that was a MAJOR time suck.  Now that we are settled in with a great pony, things are very manageable.  If your pony gets injured, all bets are off.  There may be no riding, there may be visits from the vet or trailer trips to an equine vet clinic.  There may be a search for a short term lease to get your rider through their season if they have become very competitive.  It's difficult to predict life with horses.

I think that's it!  I suppose there are other things like a million trips to the tack shop trying different blankets and saddles until you find the right one, buying new show clothes every season and just checking out what's new because it's super fun and we love the people who work there!  We spend time at home reading about riding and Elizabeth puts a ton of time into studying her pony club horse management.  In all honesty the pony has come to dominate my life as well as my daughter's but I've never been happier.  We have so much fun doing this together.  Instead of going through adolescent mother-daughter angst, we are a team.  I'm right next to her to share in the highs and lows (there are plenty of both).  I am so lucky to be doing this with my daughter and even more blessed with all the friends we have made at our barn and in our pony club.  I wouldn't trade this for anything.

So, in a nutshell, we spend about 10 hours a week riding in the winter (including driving to and from the barn) in addition to a variety of minor maintenance and grooming activities.  Late March through mid-November we spend closer to 15 on just riding and probably another 5-10 hours a week on prep and outings.  So, this is my job.  In fact, I quit my job as a pattern maker - my dream job I might add - in order to be able to support Elizabeth's interest in horses.  It was a tough decision but one I would make again.

I hope this helps.  If you had 10 other horse moms tell you about their weeks you would get 10 different answers.  Some kids go to schools with equestrian sports so that's often much simpler.  Some barns don't mind you dropping off kids younger than 14 - though I do think there is often an insurance issue.  I know many kids who had to wait to get their first horse until they were old enough to be at the barn alone.  If your child is interested in horses and you are willing to give it a go, you will find the right approach and balance for your family's life.

Best of luck!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I have a pony, do I need a trailer?

The short answer is no.  You don't really NEED a trailer, but then did you NEED a pony?  It really depends on what you are doing with the pony.

Our first barn was very accommodating.  Not only did they drive our pony to all the shows my daughter attended, they were the ones to get up, load the trailer and get to the show grounds crazy early.  We got at least an hour or two of extra sleep as a result.  If we wanted to go somewhere, they could usually drive us and their fee was very reasonable - $75 roundtrip locally.  Shows, however, were limited to the shows they were going to as a barn.

When we changed barns, we had to find some other way to get where we were going.  One of the first things I noticed at our current barn was the huge number of trailers littering the property.  It was my first clue I might be in trouble.  There are transport companies out there and often someone is going the same place at the same time and can give you a ride.  I have friends who have supported equestrian daughters for years without buying a trailer, usually paying someone to drive them which can be very expensive - a ride to and from a long show day can be $200, more if it's far away.

I, however, am a control freak.  I like to know where I'm going, how I'm getting there and limit the probability for error.  I like making my own schedule, coming and going to horse shows when it makes sense for me, not when it makes sense for my ride.  I liken being at our barn without a trailer to living in the country, working in town and not having a car.  Our neighbors are all very nice and if they are going our way with a space, we are welcome to it, but on that day it just doesn't work out, what do you do?  Once we had a pony it felt like we needed a way to fit him into our car.  Our pony is another member of the family.  If you have 3 kids you buy a car with 5 seats.

Then again, as another horse mom recently reminded me, what works for one of us isn't necessarily what works for another.  I'll share my advice but you'll need to figure out for yourself if a trailer is in your future.  Here are some questions to ask yourself in trying to decide if you "need" a trailer:

  1. How many times a month would you use a trailer?  If it's 1 or less, you might hold off.
  2. Do you intend to take your pony anywhere other than the shows your barn is going to already?
    1. Are you joining Pony Club? (I'll post about Pony Club very soon to help you make this decision!) This is ultimately what pushed us.  With 2 mounted meetings a month in addition to an active show schedule, we needed a way to take our pony places pretty frequently.
    2. Do you intend to do some XC schooling (riding outside of shows) at courses other than the one available at your barn?  We did quite a bit of this last summer and I was really glad to have a trailer.  As plans and schedules changed a million times I didn't have to call my ride once a day with a change of plan.
  3. How likely is it that your horse situation is going to last?  You might try to make do for the first year you lease/own.  I would have waited if we hadn't changed barns and joined pony club.
  4. Do you have a friend who is ready to buy a trailer?  I know some people who sort of "share" a trailer because their kids are always doing the same things.  One family owns the trailer and the other buys gas.
  5. Do you have the proper vehicle for pulling a trailer?  This is not a deal breaker since you can always get a different car but it can get very expensive and will be a factor in making your decision.
If after thinking through this list you conclude that yes, I must have a trailer, then you are ready to think about what type and size trailer you need and whether you want to buy new or used.
Gooseneck Trailer

There are two types of trailers: Gooseneck and Bumper Pull.  A gooseneck has an extension on the front that goes over the flatbed of a pickup truck.  The truck has a hitch in the middle of the bed to which the trailer attaches.  A bumper pull attaches to the more traditional hitch point at the back of your car under the bumper.

Next you need to think about size and features.  Horse trailers are broken into categories by how many horses they carry, whether or not they have a dressing room (something worth considering) or living quarters (likely unnecessary but whatever floats your boat) and how they are loaded - slant or straight, ramp or step-up.  All of these things come down to personal preference.

Layout option for slant load trailer.
A slant load is a trailer in which the horses are set at an angle to the side of the trailer.  They are "slanted" when you are driving straight down the road.  These trailers usually have windows for the horses on the side of the trailer.  A straight load, conversely, has the horses parallel with the side walls of the trailer.  They usually load in from the back and face forward as you drive but there are many variations depending on the number of horses you carry.  For instance, a 2 horse will usually load from the back and have the horses facing front.  But a 4 horse might load from the side and have 2 horses on either side of the entry point, 2 facing forward and 2 facing back. 

Layout options for a 4 horse trailer.
Ramp Load and Step Up are exactly what they sound like.  A ramp load has a ramp that you lower to the ground and the horse ascends the ramp to enter the trailer.  A step up has no such ramp.  The horses just step on the way we get into a car.  

Trailers also have different kinds of dividers in them.  There can be a half wall or just an 8" plank like piece dividing the stalls at about shoulder height.  I like the wall because the horses can't kick each other and it allows me to store stuff on the empty side if I'm only carrying one horse but I know a lot of people who prefer not to have a wall so the horses have more room to spread their legs out to brace for turns.

A dressing room may sound like a silly thing to anyone who hasn't owned a trailer but don't write it off too quickly.  If you have your own trailer, you and your child will be getting to the barn early, hooking up, cleaning out shavings, putting in new shavings, hanging fresh hay, filling water bottles, loading tack, etc.  Even if you did much of this the night before there is a good deal of work to be done on the morning of a show and the rider is not going to want to do it in their show clothes.  When you get to the show and your rider needs to change, where is she going to do it?  If you are like my husband, you will say she can change in the now empty trailer.  He can say this because not being the parent to go to shows he is ignorant of how dirty the trailer is and how difficult it is to keep your show clothes clean while changing in there.  The alternative is changing in the car.  Not a lot better and an option that will get more complicated as our daughter gets bigger.  But by the time I was buying a trailer and a new car to pull it, I could tell the dressing room was pushing my luck so I backed off.  

Most trailers with dressing rooms have saddle and bridle racks in the dressing rooms.  We added such racks to the interior of our 2 horse bumper pull straight ramp load trailer.  Ours is pretty big inside and we mostly pull ponies so there is actually plenty of space for our muck bucket, tack trunk and tack.  Since our tack is in with the horses, we invested in saddle covers, helmet and bridle bags to keep things clean in transport.

Next you need to think about whether you will buy new or used.  This is when you need to think about your budget.  My sense is that trailers, especially those made by Kingston, Hawk and Featherlite, really hold their value.  A 2007 trailer sells used for close to what it cost new in 2007 in part because the new 2014 trailers are so much more expensive (I've kind of found the same to be true of good used saddles).  So you save money with the used trailer but not as much as you might think.  And resale value can be important, especially if you are buying a smaller trailer with fewer bells and whistles and planning to upgrade in a few years if all goes well.  We bought a 2007 Kingston from a wonderful horse mom in Connecticut.  The trailer looked completely brand new and she even gave me some driving lessons.  We got a great deal paying $6500.  Even though it was in great shape, I spent an additional $1000 having it serviced and adding racks before we used it.  When you buy a used trailer you should plan to take it to a local dealer to have the brakes, tires and wheel bearings checked.  

That reminds me.  Horse trailers have brakes.  The brakes are hooked up to your car and you will need an electronic braking system.  The car we had when we bought the trailer did not have one so we had one installed.  We went to a local trailer place, not a horse trailer place necessarily but one that could install a controller quickly so I could drive down to pick up my trailer.  The system cost about $350 installed but we should have spent a little more and gotten the higher end digital unit with more adjustment.   If I had it to do again, I would go to a bigger trailer shop and one that had some experience with horse trailers.  The unit is installed under the dash right where your knees like to be when driving so you have access to adjust it easily and your husband can frequently curse you for having a horse trailer that makes driving uncomfortable for him.

A month after buying the trailer, I bought a new car.  My 2011 Honda Pilot could pull the trailer but it didn't feel very good.  We were well under the 4400 pounds our Honda was certified to pull.  Our trailer weighs 2500 pounds and our pony was only 800 pounds.  There are different weight measurements you will see in your car manual about gross vehicle weight and what not.  I focused on tow capacity and that seemed to be a sufficient data point for determining the best vehicle for pulling my trailer.  Most trailers I am interested in are between 2500 and 3500 pounds.  If I have 2 big horses that's an additional 2200 pounds.  Add in a little tack, water, I'm guessing the most I will ever want to pull is 6000 - 6500 pounds.  Pick up trucks are great for this, especially a Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado 1500 or Doge Ram which can tow 12,000 pounds, but I wanted an SUV that could do double duty as my people mover (I have 2 sons who want nothing to do with horses).  The best choices seemed to be the Chevy Tahoe and the Ford Expedition which can each tow around 9000 pounds (consumer reports does a good job with testing vehicles' tow ratings).  A Suburban would also be a good choice but I had recently downsized from a Suburban and didn't want to go back.  One of the things I really liked about my Expedition was that it had the electronic braking system integrated into the vehicle itself, installed at the factory.  So when I hook up my trailer, the digital readout in my dashboard acknowledges the trailer and tells me the level my brakes are set at. I LOVE LOVE LOVE towing with this car!!!!!!  You will see people towing horse trailers with all kinds of cars.  This is another one of those cases where what works for me does not necessarily work for you.  But I think this is something the owner of our old barn had in mind when she told me I would wreck my car if I bought a trailer.

So, where does one buy a trailer?  I found mine on  You can create an account, then create a search with detailed criteria and save the search.  I would go back every day or two to see if there was anything new to look at.  There are new and used trailers listed on the site.  You can try Craigslist but I found the listings on were a better fit on average.  You can also go to your local dealer who will likely carry both new and used trailers.  There are several near where I live.  Many people around here use Yered.  I had mine serviced at Orchard.  Ask around the barn and at the tack shop and you'll find out where you should go.  If you are near Ohio or Massachusetts, attend the Equine Affaire.  They host an AMAZING horse trailer display.  It's so fun to run around dreaming about having a huge motorhome with seating for your entire equine family.

A few more things to keep in mind as you are looking at trailers.  
  • There are several shapes out there.  The trailers with really square fronts create more drag than those with rounded or pointed front ends, impacting gas mileage.  
  • Horses and all their stuff are really dirty.  It won't look new for long!
  • Even if you only have a pony now, are you likely to have a big 17 hand warmblood in a few years?  Probably not but think about it before buying the smallest trailer you can find.
  • My only pet peeve with my trailer has to do with the rings on the side of the trailer.  During a show, you will tie your pony to the trailer and hang a hay net for them to munch on.  The rings on our trailer are really low.  I am planning to take it in to have another one added higher up so the hay net doesn't hang so low.
  • Buy a muck bucket, muck rake, really good broom and shovel just for the trailer.  If you can, put a small trunk in the trailer and keep some basic supplies in it such as fly spray, baby wipes, bit wipes, water buckets for drinking and sponging, sponges, a big water tank in case water is unavailable where you are going and an extra medical armband if you have an eventer.  Nothing worse than getting somewhere to go schooling or to a show and not being able to participate because you left your armband at the barn.
  • I see trailers out there without windows.  That seems weird to me.  On a hot day I love opening all the windows and even latching the upper half of the back totally open for the drive home so the pony can have some air.
  • Practice driving your trailer!  It's great if you can buy a trailer from a place that will give you lessons.  It's really not that hard to drive one if you practice a little bit.  Be sure to learn how to back up and how to park so you don't embarrass yourself at a horse show.
  • I found the information on this site extremely helpful in learning about safe trailer driving.
  • You should also have a professional check the hitch you have for pulling a trailer.  Not all hitches are rated to pull the significant weight associated with horse trailering.  You want to make sure that the ball is the right diameter, the drop the correct height and the weight rating high enough for the load you intend to pull.
  • My dream Hawk 2 horse with dressing room is around $13,000 new right now just to give you an idea of cost.
I'm so excited for you to go get your trailer and become a mobile horse parent!  Happy trailer shopping!