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The Pak is Springing into Summer!

After a relatively mild winter, we are enjoying a decidedly gorgeous spring here in New England. We’ve all been out and about in our barns getting ready for another fabulous summer of fun with our horses. Check out what everyone’s been up to:

“The biggest challenge in eventing is being strong in three very different phases. This spring, the pieces are finally falling to place for me and my horse, Diem. In April, we competed in our first two-phase of the season at the Novice level, and we came through with flying colors. His dressage test was one of our most consistent and relaxed, and the stadium course was a piece of cake. To top it all off, we had a cross-country school the next day and dominated all of the toughest questions, including training level combinations into water, banks and ditches. I’m so excited for this season!” – Sara F., Creative

Good boy, Diem! (and well done, Sara!)

“Other than growing back a few bald spots, trimming those old winter whiskers and shining up his dull winter coat, Palermo and I are working hard to master bits and pieces of our dressage tests to gear up for show season. We are sticking to the basics and working on these three things: 1. keeping him through his back, 2. staying straight (he is so long-backed ugh) and, 3. keeping a consistent pace. If I can do these three things I feel like we can do anything any test asks of us! Our biggest challenge is working on our long and low, stretchy circles I like to call them, particularly putting Pal back together after the circle. He is so lazy sometimes. Our first schooling show is May 6th, followed by Spring NEDA the next weekend. Our goal above anything is to have a good experience, ride an awesome test and Ok, a blue ribbon wouldn’t hurt! Happy spring!”
– Autumn I., Merchandising

Update: “I just found out my ride times for NEDA, 9:36 am and 4:15 pm…. Talk about a long day for only 2 classes- plenty of time to warm up I guess!”

Autumn and Pal are loving the spring sunshine

“I had the BEST first jumping lesson of the season in our field a couple weeks ago!! My horse, Excel, LOVES being ridden, and especially jumping jumps, in the big field. I think it’s because I bought him from a guy who was using him to fox hunt – that’s the only explanation I can think of, since we’re both Hunter/Jumpers (not Eventers), and have been for 12 years. He is a completely different horse when we come out of the indoor, and even more so when we are able to ride in the big field (even compared to the outdoor ring). His head comes up, he is super alert, his step opens up so much that I hear click-click-click of his hooves forging, and he easily slips into the trot or canter when I ask. He’s an older guy (19) so he doesn’t jump as high as he used to, but in the field, I feel like he can jump 4’. Excel and I just love when Spring arrives and the field opens up!”
– Susan T., Barn Sales

Susan and Excel strolling through the field

“Macy and I kicked off the spring by attending an AQHA show in Lexington, Virginia in early April. It was a great show with beautiful weather! Macy and I both took advantage of the beautiful weather and enjoyed soaking up the sun before traveling back to New England. Considering this was our first show together as a team, it was very successful. I’m really looking forward to growing as a team and to the summer when show season will be in full action!” – Karen S., IT

Karen and Macy share a hug

“I just got a new horse, Taliafera (Tally in the barn). She’s an 8 year old 16 hand chestnut TB mare (what was I thinking?!?), and I’ve been enjoying introducing her to the trails this spring. Before I got her, she had been sitting in a field for a while, so she is still quite green, but very willing. Since she was ridden in an indoor arena for most of her life, hacking out is a brand new adventure for her. Lucky for me she LOVES it! I’m looking forward to introducing her to the crazy world of eventing this summer, and hope to get out to our first event this fall.”
– Jen B., Store

Jen and Tally after one of their first outdoor rides
(George, the resident farm dog, couldn’t resist getting in on the fun!)

“(Fellow SmartPaker) Jenny and I board at the same barn and have anxiously been waiting for the first day that we could give baths! We finally got a warm and sunny day and rushed out to the barn to bathe the very dirty JZ and Chief. We got to have girl talk and spend time with our wonderful horses (does it get any better than that!?!). We finished the evening with a nice long hand graze on the new spring grass, where JZ proceeded to spook himself, trip and then pull off a front shoe (farrier was just out 4 days earlier). Of course Chief immediately rolled, which I thought was hilarious but Jenny not so much. Ah, the joys of horse ownership!” – Emily J., Marketing

Emily and JZ ham it up for the camera

Chief posing pre-roll

“My project this spring has been to bring along my two dogs when I trail ride. My little guy is Sam, a five-year-old mixed breed (we think maybe some Carolina Dog/American Dingo). My big guy is Puu, a one-year-old Thai Ridgeback who might think he’s half horse – he licks all the horses in the face. I love to walk my dogs, and I love to trail ride my senior horse…so why not combine the two? I have taught the dogs to heal on leash while I ride down a dirt road, then I can set them free when we get to the trails and cranberry bogs that I ride on. My longtime QH companion, Danny, (turning 29 this May!) is such a trooper about the whole thing. And I’m loving it, as I have all my favorite boys with me and all can enjoy the nice spring weather we’ve been having!”
– Molly H., Merchandising

Molly’s well-behaved boys are ready for some fun!

“This spring could be called “Ellie and Melissa do Dressage…sort of.” Ellie is retired from her career as my Adult Hunter/Equitation horse and has moved on to a career in Dressage. She is participating in this new career mostly with her new friend Bob, but does from time to time get to enjoy (my word not hers) a lesson with me. I’ve been a H/J girl for about 31 years now but because of my darling Ellie is now doing Dressage, I have decided that if I want to spend time with her (which I do) then I have to put on some full seat breeches and join her new career. I’ve only had a few legitimate Dressage lessons so far…the last one though was in my very own Dressage saddle. 🙂 It’s all kind of like learning a new language. When I’m riding my equitation horse, I know when it’s right and when it’s wrong. When I’m doing Dressage on Ellie, I don’t always know when it’s right and when it’s wrong. I feel like I’m literally laying on her butt, and my trainer says I’m barely sitting up straight. My stirrups feel soooo long, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to “put my leg on” because I can’t get the same feel with my calf that I do in my close contact saddle. I’ve got a long way to go, but thankfully Ellie is patient. We might even make it to a few schooling shows before the season is over.” – Melissa H., Merchandising

We might be biased, but we think Melissa is doing a fabulous job

“I just took my horse for the first trail ride of the season last weekend! I love riding this time of year while the weather is just right and the bugs aren’t out yet. My horse was THRILLED to be off the property and we had a lovely gallop that made me excited for a summer of horseback adventures. I also just put in for a vacation day so I can pull my horse’s mane because I know I won’t do it otherwise. AND I went to watch some friends ride at Valinor this past weekend. I didn’t ride myself, but watching them school the cross-country course got me very inspired to make some new goals for myself this year.” – Emily D., Accounting

Emily and Ax paired up with fellow eventers (and fellow SmartPakers) Kristina and Harri for some fun in the sun!

“My horse Harri and I used to show a bit at local and some “A” rated shows doing hunters and equitation, but the past few years have turned into pleasure riding and the occasional hunter pace! Last season we went to a schooling jumper show just for fun. Well, I was bit by the bug! Ever since that little schooling show, I have had the urge to get back in the ring. Harri, my 16.2 hand Connemara/TB just turned 12 and is really in his prime right now. I decided that this season we are getting back in the show ring! I decided to hook up with a friend who is an excellent rider and trainer to help get us back into the shape we need to be in (I haven’t had a serious lesson in 2, maybe even 3 years!). Harri started getting some training rides a few weeks ago and instantly fell back in love with being a ‘hunter pony’! I’ve been noticing that even in turnout, he is trotting around strutting his stuff. He has even been carrying himself a bit differently since we started taking things a bit more serious. My hopes are that by the end of the season, we have completed a Hunter Derby. I know I’m excited to have such a great goal for this season, but I am starting to think that Harri thinks it’s pretty great too!”
– Kristina S., Creative (in picture above)

“Unfortunately Charlie has a small tear in his Superficial Digital Flexor Tendon in his left front leg so we are laid up until September. Luckily he has been given permission to be on restricted turnout in a small paddock, rather than complete stall rest. As he watches his friends head out to the fields each day, he stoically pretends that he isn’t upset. Though we aren’t preparing for shows as I had hoped, or even enjoying the miles of trails and cranberry bogs behind the barn, we have been spending more time together doing “the little things,” like spa days (he has the shiniest coat in the barn!). I hand walk Charlie daily and though I know some days he is full of energy and could easily drag me across the property (he is a big nine-year-old OTTB), he is handling his lay-up much better than I had expected and meets me at the gate for his grooming and walk. My fabulous vet even said I can start walking him under saddle up and down the driveway. The weather was perfect on Sunday and Charlie stood like a perfect gentleman at the mounting block. I settled into the tack and patted his neck before asking him to walk on and I have to say, my horse has the most gorgeous walk, you could sit on him for days. Did I ever give his walk the credit it deserved before this injury? Probably not! I was too focused on what our future goals were and the next thing to improve on. This spring we are both slowing down and taking notice of the things we can appreciate, a long walk together and the taste (or for me, the smell) of fresh green grass.”
– Sara R., Customer Care

Charlie <3’s handwalking

“I spent 45 minutes the other night doing the traditional spring deep currying and vacuuming, trying to get as much of Kitt’s winter coat off him as I could. When I started currying him, one of my barn friends was leading her horse out to the ring to ride; I was still doing the final brush-off when she came back out with a completely cooled-off horse. And Kitt had been clipped! But, ever since then, I’ve been getting all sorts of compliments about how shiny and soft he is. I chalk that part up to the SmartOmega3! :)” – Erin S., Marketing

Erin and Kitt have their game faces on out on the XC course!

“Juliet and I have been learning to long line together. A couple years ago I learned the basics but haven’t had a chance to play around on my own. I ordered Pro-Long lines, a new surcingle and a Long Lining book. I’m not sure if Juliet has long lined in the past but she’s been picking it up quickly. We’ve only been doing this for a week but it’s so fun to watch her figure out what I’m asking her to do. The long lining has already helped her straightness and responsiveness when I ride her.” – Katie T., Finance

Katie and Juliet smile for the camera!

“My horse Luna and I haven’t changed barns in almost five years, so moving is a big deal for us! Yesterday we packed up and headed for our new barn in the afternoon. After loading my three trunks (down from an original four, thanks to a hefty donation pile), it was time to get Luna on the trailer. Once she got the usual stalling and sniffing over with, she loaded up without fuss and we were on our way. The 20-minute drive was uneventful and before we knew it we were there. Once unloaded, Luna proceeded to stare at the barn for a solid 2 minutes before agreeing to go inside. I let her loose to check out her stall/paddock and she immediately realized there was grass growing, which made the new place just fabulous in her mind. She settled in without further issue, I unloaded all of my trunks, and the move was complete! Now we get to relax and enjoy the rest of our spring/summer in our new place.” – Kerri V., Marketing

Kerri and Luna at a recent dressage show

“Witness and I took a nice stroll around the barn the other night and he spent some time appreciating the new barn resident’s attire (we’re not sure where the peacock came from, but he’s pretty fabulous!). This past weekend Witness and I attended our first show of the season. It’s always a bit of an adjustment to go from jumping indoors all winter to the first show outside in the big ring. We lessoned outside during the week and really worked on getting our pace correct. On show day, Witness felt great! We won one of our classes and scored an 85 in the Ariat National Adult Medal. I’d say we are off to a great start. We’re back at it again this weekend!” – Renee P., Merchandising

Witness checks out the newest barn resident

“In preparation for having time for a baby and in an effort to actually have a not absolutely chaotic life for once, Riv’s spring activity was to travel to a new home.” – Maria T., Merchandising

Maria and Riv schooling dressage last summer

“Driving a horse is the equivalent of walking across boulders, blindfolded, across shark-infested waters.” So says Muffy Seaton, a four-time national combined driving champion who literally wrote the book on bending the driving horse (AND made the video). Newman and I were privileged to take a lesson from this international competitor, judge, and evaluator during a clinic this April. Since I was driving my brand new cart! for the first time, we spent the first part of the lesson making sure he was harnessed and hitched properly. Then she watched me warm him up at the walk and trot. Because I had audited the day before, I showed her that Newman already knew how to leg yield from the rail to the 1/4 line and back down the long side. She calls this her “on and off” exercise, stressing that driving horses have to be MORE laterally supple than riding horses. Then we worked on forward (Newman is an energy conservationist) and bending. Hopefully her lesson will help when we go to our first driving show this year in June! Of course, Newman’s main job is RIDDEN dressage, and our first show is May 26 at Silverwood, where we’ll try to clinch the 2012 All-Breeds Champion for 2nd level freestyle, ensuring us an invite to the USDF Annual Convention!” – Lydia G., Staff Vet

Dr. Gray and Newman schooling hazards in 2011

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One comment on “The Pak is Springing into Summer!
  1. Lois Macuch says:

    Interesting to see the beautiful horses and the young women SmartPac sponsors and their stories.

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