Category Archives: winter riding

Celebrating 2015 and looking forward to another fantastic, Foxwood year for 2016!

We are now into the final weeks of our fall 2015 riding session and what a fantastic year we have had at Foxwood!! 2 fun schooling shows at Foxwood, an amazing season for our ShowTeam, a great float in the Bradford Santa Claus parade, and not to mention our OEF horsemanship classes, a visit from the Candlelighters and finally, our decorating day for the holidays this past weekend.

So, how are we going to top that off for 2016?!

Winter Riding Session

Our winter session starts the week of January 4th, 2016 and runs for 10 weeks. The cost is $375/session plus hst (payments can be made in 2 installments – payable the first week of January and then the 1st of February). As with last winter, if we need to cancel due to the weather, I will post no later than 2pm that day on my Foxwood Facebook page and send out an email. Makeups will be given in the case of cancellations due to bad weather.

As I have already started scheduling our winter classes, please let me know by December 18th, if you or your child/ren WILL be riding in the winter session. Please note that priority for our 2016 Show Team will be given to those riders who continue throughout the winter.

Foxwood Farm ShowTeam

Our first information meeting will be held on Saturday, January 9th at 1:30 pm. This meeting is for students/parents who would like more information on what is involved with showing on our team. The signup sheet for the 2016 Foxwood Farm ShowTeam will then be posted. There will be a few changes this year to our signup procedure, which will be explained at the meeting on January 9th. If you are unable to attend, but still would like some information, I will gladly email out the agenda and notes from the day if you let me know.

Christmas ideas

NEW! Foxwood polar fleece zip sweatshirts! Black with silver Foxwood logo. Only $50/including hst. Check out the latest Foxwood SWAG order sheet in the tack room for more items
The last order will be submitted on December 17th!

We also now have a local embroidery company who is able to do saddlepads! Order sheets are available in the tack room.

OEF Rider Level Classes
We will be continuing with our Ontario Equestrian Federation classes in 2016 in preparation for testing sometime in April (once date is confirmed, I will let everyone know). The cost for the winter classes is $30/level 3 riders and $20/level 1 and 2 riders. The classes will be held on the following Saturdays from 1:30pm – 3:30 pm. Please let me know if you/your rider will be attending:

Saturday, January 9th *LEVEL 3 ONLY
Saturday, February 6th – *LEVELS 1, 2 and 3
Saturday, March 26th – *LEVELS 1, 2 and 3

IMPORTANT 2016 Foxwood Dates

January 5th – Winter Session begins
February 23rd – Registration for Summer Camp and Spring Session
March 21st– Spring Session begins
June 12th – Foxwood Farm Schooling Show
Mon. June 27- Wed. June 29 – Foxwood C.I.T. Training Camp

Looking forward to another great year with my #FoxwoodFamily !

All the best to everyone for a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season!

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Winter care for our Foxwood horses and ponies

4 more days…yes, I am counting down until the end of February. According to the local weather networks, this has been the coldest February on record and for those of you, like me, who have to work outside, we KNOW it is! Even though we have bundled up our horses and ponies this winter in warm blankets and bring most of them into a warm stall at night, they have also had enough of these temperatures! Some of our horses live outside 24/7, but with access to a run in shelter, they are able to get out of the elements.

I have been monitoring our horses and ponies very carefully this winter to make sure that they ARE staying warm and in good health. A good blanket is needed and it must not only be warm but waterproof as snow soaked blankets will only make a pony/horse colder. There are lots of blankets on the market but I have found that the more expensive brands like Rambo and Bucas, last longer and are better quality than others. If you wash and waterproof your blankets at the end of each season of use, this will also help prolong its’ life. It’s important to check blankets over daily for rips and any damage done to surcingles or leg straps. Leg straps should be checked before your horse/pony goes out in the morning and again, when it comes in at night. The same with the surcingles as often, horses and ponies love to roll so the blankets may shift slightly. Now that my horses and ponies have been wearing their blankets for many months, some of them have started to get some slight hair loss across the chest. Once the blankets are removed in early spring, generally, it doesn’t take long for their spring coats to grow in and repair the bald patch.

Another major issue to monitor in the winter is how much water your horse/pony is drinking. Some people assume that horses can eat snow to get their required intake ; however, this is definitely NOT the case. Horses will actually drink more water in the winter than at other times of the year because unlike spring/summer grass, hay is dry and they require more water to help digest and to avoid colic situations. To encourage my horses and ponies to drink more, I keep my outdoor water trough heated and I always have a salt and/or mineral block available. These blocks have vitamins and minerals that they do not get otherwise and the salt block makes them thirsty, which then sends them to the water. My current outdoor trough is 150 gallons and during the winter months, I will fill it up twice/day…that’s alot of drinking! For those horses that come in at night, they have water buckets in their stalls that get filled up several times over the course of the evening. If the buckets are completely frozen at night check, I will replace the bucket with a new one with fresh water. I have become very strong and skilled at using the rubber mallet this year to pound out ice;)

Some of our horses and ponies require a little extra feed over the winter as they may be old or just have trouble keeping up to the chubby ponies. Some of them get grain in the morning and at night – both times after they have had a feeding of hay which generates heat in their bodies. Without going into full detail about who eats what, every horse/pony has specific requirements so when introducing a new feed or when I get a new horse/pony, I always check with my local horse feed nutritionist to see what is best suited for that animal.

So, all of the key elements are covered at Foxwood to keep our ponies and horses happy in the winter: food, water and shelter…and of course lots of love! And let’s hope that all of the shedding we have been seeing while grooming our ponies and horses lately, is a sign that spring is just around the corner!

Until next time,
Keep warm!
Robyn

Salty keeping warm in his blanket and eating LOTS of hay!

Salty keeping warm in his blanket and eating LOTS of hay!

Merry Christmas Mischief

It never seems to amaze me how my ponies always seem to get into some sort of mischief either right when I am either leaving the farm for errands or before lessons. Even more interesting, is how their escapades lead them to more trouble over the holidays! Perhaps they sense all the excitement of the season or it could be that they are starting to get bored with the winter weather and are simply looking for some fun!

Yesterday morning, I went out to the barn to start my daily horse chore routine. First, I go into the new barn to feed then turnout the 6 horses that are stalled in that barn for the night. I usually hear a few soft nickers before the morning greet from Salty (a BIG, loud whinny), but for some reason, yesterday, all was silent. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in and part of me was worried…until I saw George out of his stall! Manure dropped in multiple spots in the barn aisle, a hay bale demolished, and a very sheepish look on his face. It wasn’t until I looked down in front of his hooves until I noticed the unwrapped and uneaten (strangely enough) “LickIt bar” and some remnants of what appeared to be horse treats. As I slowly approached George, I then saw the Christmas stocking on the ground! He had taken not his, but Jane’s from her stall hook, and had devoured most of the goodies that had started to fill her stocking. I didn’t get angry at George – even though the barn was a disaster and the cleanup was going to add to my list of morning chores – but slipped his halter over his head, attached his lead rope, put on his turnout blanket and lead him outside to the paddock.

When I came back into the barn, the nickers started and Salty gave me his morning whinny. I think they were shocked that George, the “spooky pony” of the barn, had managed not only to escape from his stall, but was also bold enough to steal Jane’s goodies! Needless to say, we have many more treat bags in the barn and Jane’s stocking won’t be empty come Christmas. And as for George? He’ll get some, too:)

After I turned out all of the horses, I started thinking about some of the other “fun” times my ponies have had over the holidays. Of course, mischief and Feisty go together quite easily and although I have many stories to share about Feisty, one in particular took place Christmas morning about 6 years ago. We had Feisty only for a few weeks at this time (I should have known by his name…who DOES buy a pony with the name Feisty?;) and he was just settling into his new Foxwood family.

It was Christmas morning and as usual, I was the first one up and was out to the barn with my morning coffee. As I approached the barnyard and started counting, I realized that I was missing a horse. We had a few horses living out that winter and Feisty, with his thick, fluffy, pony fur, was one of them. It became pretty clear that the one who was missing was the one who could squeeze through the fence – as a centre rail in the barnyard had obviously been pushed out and something small would be the only thing to get through.

Luckily, with lots of snow on the ground, I could see the small, pony hoof prints and they lead across our neighbour’s hay field in the direction of our neighbour’s who also have horses. I ran into the barn, grabbed a bucket of grain, along with Feisty’s halter and lead rope then woke up my husband who drove me down to the neighbour’s place. Shaking the bucket of grain by the fence, I was expecting him to come galloping up to me; however, I had no such luck. Feisty had found a nice, cozy place in the tree line and was “socializing” with the other horses. Of course, the snow along the fence was thigh high so I trudged through it, shaking the bucket as I moved and as I got a little bit closer, Feisty charged towards me. He dove into the bucket, grabbed a mouthful then tried to turn and run. Luckily, my quick “pony wrangling” skills came into action as I quickly slipped the lead rope around his neck, got his halter on and had to pull, with full force, Feisty’s muzzle from the bucket. We trudged across the field, through the deep snowdrifts – me, angry with Feisty for creating all of this extra work and Feisty, angry with me for not letting him finish the bucket of grain!

So, with 5 more days left until Christmas and a barn full of treats for all of my horses and ponies, I can only assume that there will be a little more mischief on the farm before 2014 comes to an end;)

Happy holidays to all,
Until next time,
Robyn

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George, looking innocent

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Feisty, always planning something;)

Foxwood November 2014 Newsletter

It’s hard to believe that we are now into November and more than ½ way through our fall riding session. We just had our junior/intermediate horseshow and what an amazing job everyone did with their costumes! Check out the photos and write up in the Bradford Times:

http://www.bradfordtimes.ca/2014/10/30/a-horse-y-halloween-at-foxwood-farm

Winter Riding Session

Many of you have been inquiring about the winter session, which starts the week of January 5th, 2015. The winter session runs for 10 weeks and the cost is $350/session plus hst (payments can be made in 2 installments). As with last winter, if we need to cancel due to the weather, I will post no later than 2pm that day on my Foxwood Facebook page and send out an email. Makeups will be given in the case of cancellations due to bad weather.

Winter riding, if dressed correctly, can be fun. Check out my latest blog posting to see what I suggest for winter riding:

http://foxwoodfarm.ca/blog/fending-off-frosty-for-winter-riding-fun/

We will be hosting several clinics at the farm over the course of the winter: Natural Horsemanship, dressage and hunter/jumper with some wonderful horse people. More information and dates will be posted in December.

If you can let me know by December 1st, if you or your child/ren WILL be riding in the winter session, it would be appreciated so I can schedule class days/times.

Christmas ideas
We DO have gift certificates for those interested and don’t forget about our Foxwood Swag! The last order will be submitted the week of December 16
Here’s a reminder of some important dates coming up:

Saturday, November 8 – The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
42 riders/parents/friends of Foxwood will be venturing to the city to watch the Royal Winter Fair. It’s going to be an exciting night of Canadian showjumping, indoor eventing and the extremely fun Shetland pony races (I am sure that Feisty would be a great competitor!). For those of you with tickets, if you wish to join our group for dinner, reservations have been made for 5pm and I need to know by Wednesday, November 5, if you wish to join us.

Saturday, November 15 – Bradford Santa Claus Parade
We’ve got our theme, our parent committee, our participants and now it’s time to start decorating and getting our float ready. I will be sending out an email later this week to all Foxwood riders who have signed up to be in the parade with information on what to wear and what time/location to meet at on the 15th. Parents who signed up to help, we are now collecting items for the float (the list is posted in the barn) and we will plan to meet within the next week and early next week to get it done.

Friday, November 21 – Advanced/Adult Horse show at 5pm.
The signup sheet is posted and I am hoping that many of my Adult riders will be there to challenge the younger students to a fast, Handy Pony race;)

Sunday, December 7 – Foxwood Kids Christmas party 2-4pm
All Foxwood young riders are welcome to celebrate the season at the farm with a Secret Santa gift exchange and snacks. There is a signup sheet posted in the tack room.

As always, thank you for your support! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Fending off Frosty for winter riding fun!!

With snow in the forecast this Halloween evening, I guess it’s inevitable. Winter IS coming. It hardly seems fair especially when we really didn’t have much of a summer and to me, the fall has been cool and rainy (sadly, not the warm Indian summer weather I was hoping for).

At the barn, we know the season is changing because our horses and ponies have started to grow their winter coats. Many people ask me when/if I blanket them and it really depends on the animal. On a day like today, when it is cool and rainy, I like to keep them dry with a rain sheet but in general, until it gets colder, I try to keep blankets off to allow them to grow thick coats as blanketing too early deters hair growth. Once we get into colder temperatures, a waterproof winter turnout is added to their wardrobes and in most cases, one good blanket for the winter months is all they need. Sometimes, if we have a horse that doesn’t grow much of a coat, we’ll add a stable blanket underneath for extra warmth. In the case of the ponies that get ultra furry, if they are going to be ridden often and get too warm during riding lessons, we will sometimes body clip them. We will leave the hair on their legs but clip away the hair around their chest and part of the body where they sweat. By doing this, the pony cools out quicker but it is imperative then to put on a blanket afterwards to avoid chills.

So, this leads us to the winter rider. Many people will stop riding in the winter, in fear of being too cold; however, if dressed appropriately, winter riding can be fun – especially after a fresh snowfall out in the fields!

The first thing to keep in mind is to dress in layers so that you can maintain a comfortable body temperature. Layering allows you to add or remove clothing easily as your body temperature changes. On top, I usually suggest a turtleneck or high-necked shirt followed by a zipped sweatshirt or fleece top. For those riders who wear protective safety vests (which on their own add about 10 degrees to your body temperature), wear your vest on top on your turtleneck, followed by the zip top so that you have 1 less layer to remove as you warm up. For the final top layer, a down vest or winter jacket would be best. This piece will also keep you warm before and after you ride when you are grooming your horse or pony.

Since your head allows much of your body’s heat loss, fleece helmet covers will help maintain some of your body temperature, and can also keep your ears warm! Some riders will also add an ear band underneath a helmet and as long as it doesn’t interfere with the fit of the helmet, it’s another way to keep the ears warm.

For pants, I prefer to ride in “winter riding breeches” which are nylon on the outside and fleece on the inside. I don’t like to promote specific brands but will acknowledge ones that have been great for me over the years. After riding through many cold winters, the “Kerrits” winter riding breeches wash up the best, last the longest and are super comfy to wear. For added warmth, both on top and bottom, you can also add long underwear in cotton or silk. These natural fabrics add warmth and pull moisture away from your skin so that as you ride and get warm, you won’t get chilled when cooling down afterwards.

For me, what get cold the quickest are my hands and feet so it’s important to find the best gloves and winter footwear. For gloves, try to look for products that are rated for a minimum of -10 degrees. My favourite ones are SSG’s “10 below” winter gloves. They keep my hands warm and stay relatively dry. I also like the sheepskin lined deerskin gloves, but unless you are good at keeping track of your things, they can be a bit pricey.

Winter riding boots come in many different brands and styles. Some riders prefer winter paddock boots (short boots) while others like to ride in tall boots. Either way, the key is to wear good socks and to have lots of room to keep wiggling your toes. Both Mountain Horse and Ariat have many different styles so it’s a good idea to figure out if you want short or tall boots and then try on different brands. It WILL be difficult to get 1/2 chaps over most winter paddock boots so keep that in mind when selecting your style. Some of my students bring “Hot Shots” to lessons which keep their hands/feet warm and I know that many parents “buy in bulk” at Costco and keep a good supply in their rider’s “barn bag”.

All this being said, I admit that I AM a wimp when it comes to winter riding but when I dress properly, I warm up quickly. When I go out to teach, I am bundled up from head to toe from my Foxwood toque, down to my full-length parka and Sorel boots, and this year, I’m adding snow pants to my winter teaching wardrobe.
As much as I complain about the cold, I still love riding and want to be out in the barn with my horses and my students.

So, if I can handle the cold standing on the ground while teaching, so can all of you (on the backs of warm horses/ponies;).

Until next time,
Robyn

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