Why I do What I do

An old friend who I hadn’t seen in many years asked me the other day how I ended up “doing the Horse Habit.  So with 30 years of The Horse Habit under my belt, I had to go back and think about the answer to that.

My experiences with horses started with trail horses at the Sauble River Camping ground when at a friends cottage which lead to well first trying to ride cows and when that didn’t work out too well to “can we get a horse”  For years in Owen Sound, you could get a horse from Gypsy Jackson (a horse dealer and camp horse supplier)from September until May.   The first couple of years, I think they were more for my brother than me but I was the one with the bug.  These horses came with a set of reins braided out of binder twine and a bit attached to straps that went up to the rings on the halter.  Yes, that was it.  So we rode these horses bareback and basically hoped for the best.  The better you did with these horses, the better you fed them – the wilder and skinner was the next one you got.

At fourteen, I got a unbroke, two year old pinto mare.  If anyone has heard my comments on green horse/green rider – I experienced it.   Again working with the binder twine reins, bit and straps and after a while a $50.00 saddle I rode until I could get better tack.  After high school, I got into the two year Equine Management program at Humber College.  This was my first experience with proper and good quality tack.  Learning to properly care for good tack and certainly appreciating good tack I became an advacant of good equipment and fully appreciated how much it improved life with horses.  One of the reasons I am so adamant about riding boots is that I was having problems with my riding classes at Humber until my riding instructor took me aside and told me to go buy a proper pair of riding boots – took my riding mark up 22% in a few weeks.  Proper riding boots make a huge difference.

After a few years of part-time teaching and training I realized that my interests and abilities were better served by keeping horses and their riders comfortable with proper equipment.

The Horse Habit has always been about good quality for the money tack, proper helmet fittings, and clothing that makes riding both easier and more comfortable.

As I rider with a stable of my own horses  and boarders – I understand the business from both sides.  I use the equipment, wear the clothes and boots, spend a lot of times with suppliers looking at all the new things in the market.  But I also understand staying in your budget, understand that it is my responsibility to make sure that you spend your money where it needs to be spent – carefully on the things that are the most important.
This is how I ended up loving my job – helping people find the easiest way to love and have horses and ride their best.




It Has Been a Very Long Time

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Out and About | 0 comments

One day recently, I was talking to  someone about how it was important to get their horse out and doing everything so that if they ever had to sell the horse it had a better chance of it getting a really good home.    It occurred to me that although I had done many things with Crush, I had  only actually shown him in a couple of shows a  few years ago. .   So, time to put my effort where my  mouth was.

Now remember, I have hardly shown since  my kids were the age that the granddaughter is now.    Yes, I have been at lots of shows, seen lots of  things but not  actually shown over a fence in a very long long time.

So I decide that the Jack Pine Schooling Show will be our first effort.   I’m just not the type to take the horse to the trainer, have them warm up the horse, warm up me – kind of girl.    So off to the show I go.    No, I  don’t really plan this, no, I don’t take anyone with me to help.   Yes, I just put the horse on the trailer and went.   (oh yea!  leaving my show clothes in a bag on the kitchen floor).

I get to the show and get the horse ready.   Fortunately,  Crush was been enough places that standing on the trailer and getting ready to no big thing.   He also gets off the trailer and is pretty o.k. with all that is happening.   We get down to the ring and  he is fine  (I’m thinking I might be having a heart attack) we warm up and look at the jumps.    I notice that there are some poles with that kind of green fake grass around them and decide that might be a problem.   So, I remember Jim Gray saying to me that anybody could go in cross rails.   So up to the entry booth and  Babette is so accommodating that she didn’t even laugh until I was gone.

Going into the ring ,  I just thought about how bad it was going to look when I was on my head in the middle of a cross rail.  We made it around , trotting a few fences but made it around.   The second time – we actually cantered the whole round and it started to feel ok.   Maybe this will be alright.    The jumps will be a little higher but he has been over them now.  We will be fine.

And I look up and down the laneway comes Jim with a tractor and wagon filled with coloured boxes.   So he puts one under a jump,  ok. then two and  then under everything and they are all different.    But now my heart was stopped.

My attitute has always been – might as well die doing what you do.    I should mention that all those mean young adults made me go first.   So off we went – pretty sure my eyes were closed for the first one and because I was really just ready to fall off, we were  pretty under paced.   (Crush is most happy being lazy) and we carried on around the course with Crush going over everything and everything was good until I forgot the course (note:  I had already rode this pattern once)  but with going so slow and holding my breath the whole way – well it just didn’t come to me where to go.

By the next course, we were doing it.   I could even remember the circle at the end and the  rhythm was coming back to me.  The second course was great (Crush was proud of himself) and the hack went ok.    Many thanks to  Jim and Jennifer Gray for  having the schooling show – it was great fun.

and on to Cedarstone Farm – so after living through one show -we decided to do the short course at Cedarstone Show on July 13th.       Crush  is not a dressage horse – does not want to be – and has been known to stop in the middle of a test and  refuse to go.    So I was overjoyed to have him  get through the test pretty well – (o.k. so maybe  he wasn’t forward enough but we were going forward and he did canter.      His jumping over the  jumps in the ring was great  – he is really getting the hang of it.   So we started the short course in great  style but he got a little  (let’s say confused) about jumping out of the ring  and then a little shook about these funny jumps in the field but with a little work got over  the next couple of jumps – then down through the bush and gaily over the tire jump (of which he had never seen) almost over the canoe on the first try – but over on the seond – and  we carried on ending the cross country with some pre-entry jumps instead of entry but getting it done and back into the stadium with a great end with the stadium jumps.

Thank you to Michelle and all the volunteers at Cedarstone – it was a great show.

So, calling all who haven’t shown for awhile – get out here – life is all about living and it is time to have fun.














Eventing fun

Posted by on Jul 27, 2013 in Out and About | 0 comments

Eventing fun

We have been having a blast eventing at Cedar Run with our die hard  group

Here is a photo of Crush and I jumping down a large bank or step jump


Meet Ellen O’Rielly

Posted by on Jun 25, 2013 in Out and About | 1 comment

Meet Ellen O’Rielly

Welcome to the Horse Habit_MG_9809

Hi!  I am Ellen.  I have been passionate about horses since I was a kid.   I grew up on a Family Farm with cows, pigs and the usual cats and dogs but the work horses had been sold by the time I came along.   When I am about 10, my father and brother decided that they would get a horse from Gypsy Jackson for the winter.   At that time, Gypsy Jackson who rented out horses to camps and trail riding places for the summer – let people feed and look after them for him for the winter in exchange for riding them.   Great deal for everyone.

We had a quarter mile long laneway with a 90 degree turn around the house to another few hundred feet to the barn.  Now,  my brother and father thought only about how fast they could do that distance.  Now there was a few obstacles – the first being the apple orchard on one side of the laneway with no fence – another was the cedar hedge just off the turn at the house – then the gate post to get past with your leg still attached and then the hope that the milk house door was closed  for the stop at the barn.

Did I mention Ringo was very fast, had no brakes and very quickly learned that there was no way I was going to stop him.  Now this is where my love of good tack began.  We were riding with only bit staps which went from the bit to the rings on his halter with braided bale string reins and I hate to think about the bit and oh, a saddle didn’t come with the horse.   And how did I end up riding Ringo – my brother had decided that skiing behind the horse in the laneway was more fun than riding and well what are little sisters for anyway.  Well my 8 months of Ringo were – I am not just sure what the word is.

The next winter, we got Queenie.  By now, Gypsy Jackson had figured out that my dad loved to feed horses well and that  I would groom them to an inch of their lives and they would be in great shape when they came back.  So then we would get the skinnest, most bedagged horse he had and he would get a Cinderella horse the next spring.  Queenie was still supposed to be for my brother but by this time we all knew that I was  the interested one.  By spring, Queenie looked great and could run that the quarter mile with little brakes too.  By this time, I was getting a little nervous about whether I would ever live to be a teenager.

But weekends spent with the Sampson family at Sauble Falls where there just happened to be a trail riding stable – kept me riding and looking forward to the next winter.   And then came Barney – my first pinto.   I think my mother had suggested that maybe something more my speed  would be better this winter and thus Barney came to stay.  Barney was as slow as the others fast.  Barney would decide whether you ever left the barn or not – usually not.  Barney was a great frustation to my brother and father but at least I would live through the year.   With Barney I was safe to go to Annan  or back through the fields where other people in the neighbourhood had horses too.

Just so you know how a horse lover  is made – oh and it is years yet before I ever get to sit in a saddle.







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