Wednesday, November 7, 2012

About Me

I haven't really said much about me as a person, mostly because I'm a chicken and fear the crazies that lurk the web. But what the heck, page views are page views and comments can be deleted. So here we go. My name is Janell Hatchett. I'm 25 years old, 5'8", and at 260 lbs I am a "fluffy" equestrian. I live in Utah.

I grew up horseless and around 21 I was having a quarter-life crisis and decided that I was going to start taking riding lessons. I found a stable that would allow my to work in exchange for lessons. I cleaned stalls and rode for a short time. I was eager to learn just about anything anyone would teach me. I watch the trainer work the show horses and fell in love with English Pleasure/Saddle Seat!

I ended up leasing a purebred Arab mare called "Girla".

On My Meind "Girla" and me

Girla didn't like being ridden at all however she was a fantastic driving horse. So I learned how to drive and have loved driving ever since and encourage people to try driving whenever it might come up in a conversation.

Girla in Harness
Her owner decided that she needed to make babies instead of hauling me around which meant I was on the prowl for a driving horse. Fame pretty much landed in my lap like a gift from God. He was 15 hh, 17 years old, clubbed footed on his right front, hairy as a grizzly, a little underwieght, but oh so perfect. It was love at first sight.
Rockin to Fame a couple of days after he came from Oregon
I was told when I got him that he was a driving only horse and that he'd be too tough for me to ride. I ignored this advice and rode him in secret between driving days. I got caught eventually and was able to convince my trainer to let me ride him in lessons.

This is a video of us at a very informal schooling show.

I was also able to take Fame to my first real show as a participant instead of merely a groom. We won 1st, he has the only horse in the class. Due to financial and personal reasons my showing ambitions had to be place on hold. Fame retired and he and I enjoyed riding and driving just for fun for a time. Eventually he ended up in a lease with a therapeutic riding stable. I had looked at the facility, the horses where all healthy and friendly. And the gal that ran the program had been a former owner of Fame. It seemed perfect.

Too perfect I guess. Their best guess in that Fame got into fertilizer. His liver failed and he died. That was 2010. It took me almost 2 years to get back into riding and driving.

Now I have the enormous pleasure of leasing and working with Inferno. He is also perfect.

The Inferno LOA- current love of my life.
I also teach riding lessons to beginners and I really enjoy it. At this point the only thing I want to be is a horse trainer and find great frustration in trudging through my day job. Unfortunately I haven't developed the skills to make a living at it, but I'm working toward that end and will make it there someday.

Aside from my horse life I'm and call center bum who does customer care and tech support, and takes collage courses off and on. I enjoy reading, art, musical theater and science fiction.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Guilty Pleasure

I must admit that I haven't got excited about a Television season premiere since Star Trek: Voyager ended in 2001. I as such a Trekkie child. I was 8 in 1995 when the show made it's debut and I had found love. I wanted to be Captian Janeway when I grew up. For 7 years I'd park myself in front of the TV at 8 PM every Wednesday night to watch the adventures of my favorite Starship crew as the made their way through the wilds of the delta quadrant! And I would sorrow greatly every time the that particular television station would air the Utah Jazz games over my beloved show.

I certainly have gotten into other shows since but none that are currently airing. I am generally found of Science Fiction, Vampire Anime, and Old School shows like Hogan's Heros, MacGyver and Quantum Leap, which is why this new addiction of mine seems a little strange.

I love My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic!

Season three begins on November 10th and I am way more excited than I should be. My Little Pony? Really? Now I did have the plastic ponies and a kid and did enjoy catching the old version of the show on Saturday mornings. But I was five and still girly enough to enjoy the color pink! What is it about this show that draws me to it even after my  rainbow, sparkle, magic, unicorn, princess days are over.

I have no idea.

What I do know is that I've been crazy enough to draw my self as a pony.

And my sister and her best friend as ponies!

I even drew my old horse as a pony!

I'd even draw you an your horses as ponies(for $5)! It's a sickness and I've got it bad.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bad Equitation In Art

Jacques-Louis David, 1800, Oil-on-Canvas. Caption added by yours truly.

Once a person starts teaching riding lessons looking and horse related art and movies with horse work becomes something of a trial. There was a time when I was young that I could watch horse movies and look at pretty horse pictures with wide-eye enthusiasm. Since I have had to begin teaching students to ride and have become a student of equitation myself find it more difficult to find the same wonderment in these former diversions. Perhaps it's the fact that my critical eye has been trained due to having to provided continuous feedback on people's riding. Perhaps I'm just older and more jaded. In any case my increase of knowledge pleases me, but at the same time I am sad that I have to put in a conscious effort to enjoy movies and art that I loved as a child. 

In any case I might make "Bad Equitation/Horsemanship In ______" a regular feature. Instead of picking on people on YouTube or Craigslist I will stick to art, movies, and media primarily. 

I can't wait to dive into Warhorse.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Showing On The Cheap

Being a poor starving collage student and a competitive horse person is hard. Many horse loving youths that have been showing since childhood find themselves with out a horse and an arena to show in once the hit collage. Others, like myself, were horse poor youth that upon tasting adulthood went crazy and decided to try to live out their childhood dreams. I blame my parents for never buying me that pony I ask for every year. And because I went crazy, I decided to pursue horses seriously and to try to get an education. The path I picked is difficult and not for everyone but I have learned how to show on a budget at the very least.

Trying to keep and show a horse on a collage budget is difficult. For starters your hourly rate at the crappy day job is probably right around $10 per hour or less, and you've got rent, utilities, cell phone, tuition, books, vehicle expenses, and the occasional night out with friends. Where are you supposed to fit the horse in? I'm not gonna lie there is a certain amount of hard work and sacrifice involved.

My first bit of advice is to apply for all the educational grants and scholarships you can. Get someone else to pay for as much of your school and living expenses as you possibly can. Get good grades! Don't make my mistake and spend extra years in collage just because you'd rather be at the barn than your general classes!

Secondly, make friends with horse people. Start hanging around competitive stables, work for them in your spare time, show them your skills. Opportunities to ride will almost always follow and often when you are lurking at high quality facilitates, quality competition horses. A free lease is or half lease is nice if you can get it. Befriend a barn mom and you might land an opportunity to qualify the child's horse in the adult amateur classes thus getting your self in the ring largely on someone else's dime. If you are a skilled rider/showmen often times there will be sale horses that owners are willing to let you ride and promote the horse for them. Look for opportunities, don't be picky about discipline or style of saddle as long as the horses are treated well. I'm of the belief that no time in the saddle is wasted time, stock seat, saddle seat, hunt seat, they all have something to teach, take every learning opportunity.

If you have your own horse, working at the stable and making friends with the horse people is a superb way to make a dent in that board bill and pick the minds of trainers and other experienced competitors.

Another problem is often the wardrobe. Show clothes are not cheap and after the freshmen 15 you may find that the show cloths you wore in High School no longer fit, or have gone out of style or you have change disciplines. Or you are new to the game entirely. This can be a road block but there are some cost saving strategies here as well. The easiest is to buy used or on consignment. If you buy used make sure you know the fabric type and quality of the item that you are buying. Buy something as close to your fit as possible and save on alterations. If you are industrious you could try making your own show clothes. There are a variety of sites that sell patterns. and looks like they have decent ones. I'll probably be trying out the suitability
Misses & Childrens Saddle Suit Coat Pattern in the near future(expect a blog on that).
If you are willing to put in the time and you have the skill you can make show clothes for a fraction of what it would cost you to buy a new custom suit.

Always be on the look out for opportunity to use your skills to make a little extra money. I'm a do it yourself-er if there is an item that I can fabricate my self I will do it. I've made my own tail bags and sold them people at the barn. I can make hay bags. I do blanket and sheet repair. Often times I end up with decent quality items that I can repair and resell, or even use if the owners no longer want them.

Be wise is your purchases. Collage is probably not the time to buy that shiny new dressage saddle you've been eye balling. Especially if old trusty is still serviceable or the horse you are riding comes with tack. If you do need more or new equipment buy used! Either that or wait for a screaming good deal. Be smart about it! There are a great many resources for used tack out there. A warning though, if you are going to be buying saddle used ask for pictures of the underside and the billet straps and common wear areas on the saddle. Ask about the return policy in the event that the saddle is not in the promised condition or doesn't fit you or the animal.

Now if you don't have anyone else paying your show bill there are things you can do to make the show experience less ouchie on the pocket. This is a situation where making friends at the show barn is handy. If you are any good a grooming and you are traveling with a larger group there is some good money making opportunities. Clipping, bathing, sanding, prepping the horse at the show, lunging, and warming up horses, walking and cooling out after classes are all really good ways to help come up with the monetary resources to get yourself to the show. If you aren't with a show barn at least try to find a show buddy, someone you can split travel cost with and who can help you with your horse's care and you with his/her's. Your horsie network can be your biggest asset.

I hope that this has at least given you some ideas of how to keep your horse expenses down. If you have any experience showing on the cheap and have anything to add please leave a comment.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A New Love

I have fallen and fallen hard. His name is The Inferno LOA. He's a registered Half-Arabian gelding, and as far as I'm concerned he's perfection on four feet.

In fact he's so awesome that he'll clean his own stall.

Photographic evidence! ...Now if only I could get him to poop gold...

All silliness aside I think he's pretty cool. I currently have a lease arrangement that allows me to work off large portions of his expenses in exchange for using him until he can be sold. In the meantime I can love him, show him, and at least pretend that he's mine.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


William Shatner (Captian Kirk) with one of his Saddlebreds.
Original Photo by Allen MacMillan
Caption courtesy of J. Hatchett(me) 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Shedfest 2012

Spring is coming! We all know what that means!

ShedFest 2012!

I may be crazy but I love spending time to strip my hairy wonders of their excess fur and make them look like horses again. As much as I loved having clouds of hair blowing back in my face as I drive the horse along the path behind the barn once the hair starts flying I'm going to do everything in my power to help it along. My de-shedding routine is, admittedly, a little insane. The horse that I currently have the privilege of working, while his owner looks for a buyer, gets brushed longer and more often than any other pony on the place. It's a good thing he enjoys the grooming and that I do to. I find it very therapeutic and the larger the hair pile the greater my satisfaction.

This horse gets brushed daily. Now since this is a show barn all the horses are blanketed in matching hunter green blankets. Once the temperature starts climbing keeping the blanket can help expedite the shedding out. Light is also important. The prolonged hours of the day trigger shedding, it can be simulated artificially. The horses that attend winter and early spring shows get to stand under lights, but the ones that aren't showing don't, like the boy I'm driving now. When the weather is nice and the sun is shining make sure your stabled horses get some time outside to get some sunshine on their bodies. Paddock turnout is the best option, or on a Hot walker, if you are concerned with them pulling those expensive show shoes.

As far as my grooming process is concerned I start with my favorite grooming tool of all time.

The Zoom Groom-Best $7 ever spent.

Yes it is a dog brush, and yes there are soft rubber curry combs for horses. But I love this thing for a several reasons. First, it pulls out copious amounts of hair. Secondly, the highly ergonomic grip feels awesome in the hand. Thirdly, every horse I have used it on has been sent to a state of lip twitching nirvana when I use this thing on them. It's also makes short work of caked on mud and those manure/urine crusties that stabled horses tend to get. The rubber is also soft enough that it can be used on legs and faces. The long wide set fingers of the brush massage the skin encouraging circulation and helps to redistribute those natural oils that help keep the coat shiny and weather resistant, as well as knocking lose the dead hair. I like this thing for non-showing horses, dogs and cats too. Great for bathing, it's dishwasher safe, and can be purchased at most pet retailers.

I start by going in circles with the brush like you would for a regular curry comb. This is generally the horse's favorite part. Then with pressure you brush briskly with short quick strokes with the direction of the hair. This is where the fur really starts flying. Once I've gone over the horse two or three times I follow up with a more traditional grooming staple.

The shedding blade.

These are usually in the $5 range. And if you are lacking a good horse or pet supply shop in your area you can find shedding blades in the pet section of Wal-Mart. Use this on the large areas of your horse and pick up any remaining lose hairs the Zoom Groom left behind. Lastly I use a soft brush to finish.

This is my slightly obsessive compulsive process. Which while every one may not be as crazy about grooming as I am, if you do this you will end up with a shiny, if still fuzzy horse, in the middle of winter and a reasonably quick shed out in the spring. It'll still take several sessions, but at least I'm not breathing quite as much hair when I drive.

But the biggest reason that I like the spring shedding season is that it gives me a chance to slow down and get to have a few quiet, relaxing, no pressure moments with the horse. Any time spent with a horse is not wasted time whether that time is spent on or behind or beside with a brush in hand. Horses are a remnant of a slower, simpler time. They don't beep, buzz, ring, text, and play music. They lack internet access and a bright LCD display. They don't provide you with the whole of the world's knowledge at your finger tips. They have a pesky habit of draining patience and bank accounts, but a horse can teach you about yourself. In the wild whirlwind of life, a horse can get you to unplug from the world for a few precious moments. These are the moments I live for.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Horse Problem

Dear viewers, welcome. My name is Janell and I have been horseless for a year and ten months. The "horseless" status is not something I would have chosen. My first horse, my heart horse, passed away in May of 2010. Due to my financial circumstance, and my financial obligations to my educational institution it would be irresponsible for me to purchase another horse at this time. This knowledge however does not keep me from wishing, hoping, dreaming.

You see I'm a horse addict, a "Horsaii" as Mugs from Mugwump Chronicles would put it. I live for the time I get to spend with horses. I love to watch them, I love the smell of them. To be in their presence fills me with happiness. Horses give me joy and a sense of purpose and I don't want to think of a life without them. To this point I have been greatly blessed when it comes to my horse experience. I didn't start into horses until I was around 20, despite having always loved these animals. The first barn I fell into was an Arabian training facility, and from the get go I had the benefit of competent instructors and a very skilled trainer(although we don't always agree on everything). I had a natural aptitude, and for once in my mediocre life I felt like there was finally something I was really good at. My skills led to greater opportunities. I went to horse shows as a groom. I got a taste for competition and fine horses. I leased a little purebred Arab mare and learned to drive. I finally got my own horse, Fame. I showed Fame. I moved barns. Life got hard. Fame died.

I stayed away from barns and horses in general after Fame's loss, but something is missing. I went back to school and that was fine but I couldn't stop thinking about horses. I wanted to ride again. I wanted drive. I wanted to listen to a barn full of happy horses nicker when I walked in. I wanted to hear the sounds of their methodical chewing and bathe in their amazing aroma. I started watching horse movies, training videos on YouTube, added several more horse blogs to my blog roll. I quietly stalked the sales pages of my favorite barns just to see what was for sale, and despaired knowing that the time was still not right for a purchase. At that point I walked back through the doors of my first barn, my home-away-from-home, and I felt at ease. The manure fork felt good in my hands, and I could ride again.

I get to ride again and drive which helps to sooth my horse want. I still keep looking, keep waiting for the perfect time. I resolve to not repeat the mistakes of my past.

For now I am horseless. I'm likely to stay that way for a while.

This blog I'll be about my current horse experiences, my thoughts on the horse industry, mostly where it concerns Arabians('cause it's what I know), showing and grooming horses on a small budget, rider fitness and getting in shape, and I will also be occasionally featuring horses I find for sale that I think would make interesting projects for the independent amateur or decent show horses.

Thank you for riding along.