Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My New Stormy Kromer Caps

I hope you had a nice Christmas and are enjoying the post-holiday calmness that comes from –everything being over!

Before I write about my rides with Buckshot over Christmas weekend, I must tell you about my new hats! There is a little bit of a story here. Of course, being around horses during the winter means you need warm clothes. Warm hats are always a challenge. For several years I have been wearing the wool felt beret-type hat, which I can pull down almost over my ears to keep them warm. Plus, on really cold days, I have doubled up and worn two berets! Of course they get worn over time, and it is hard to replace them. Target used to carry the wool felt berets but not anymore. So during autumn I started thinking about what kind of warm headgear I could get, in case my berets don’t make it through the winter in wearable condition.

I happened to see a photo in a magazine of a woman wearing a wool, brimmed (think baseball cap type) hat that looked really cute on her. The description called it a cap from a company named Stormy Kromer, and it explained that the hat was designed many years ago by the wife of a train conductor who needed a cap that stayed on his head in high winds. The design caught on and a company was born and they still sell the hats. The hat is unique because it has a band around the perimeter that can slide down over the top of your ears, to offer some warmth and to secure the hat to your head. I went to the website and after browsing through the woman’s hat section, decided on two colors of caps, brown and a green/black plaid, and placed my order. So far, normal Internet purchase story.

By the way, here's the website link Stormy Kromer.

You know how you get an email acknowledging your order from Internet stores? Well, this company sends the most delightful acknowledgement letter ever! It made my day to have such a nice company send such a nice letter! In a few days, the hats arrived and they are adorable, and very functional. The hats even come with instructions! They are very funny instructions - what a hoot! And they have individual serial numbers and have insurance! I have been wearing them to the farm ever since and everyone has asked about them. Several people at the farm are planning to buy one.

At first I thought they looked a little masculine, so I decided to decorate them so they would look a little more feminine. Not that I actually care about looking very feminine when I am at the farm! But still, I found a horse pin in my jewelry drawer and added it to the band of the brown cap (see photos above). Now it’s a Stormy Kromer horse cap! I also found two little horse charms that I attached to the string in the front of the green cap. It’s fun to make them personal by adding decorations.

I really like these caps – they fit well, stay in place and are quite warm. If you need a brimmed cap for the winter, you should consider a Stormy Kromer cap! From the company website, I have learned that they are quite famous in Minnesota (where they are made) and in other northern states that have severe winters. I think I must have the first Stormy Kromer caps down here in Virginia! We’ve started a trend at our farm.

I had a great long weekend with Buckshot! On Friday (Dec. 23, 2011) the weather was nice – temperatures in the fifties and lovely sunshine. Unfortunately, rain from previous days had left the main arena sodden, soft and puddly. I walked Buckshot around in the soggy dirt, and discouraged boredom by asking him for serpentines and circles, as well as straight lines on the rail.

We then went on the trail, by ourselves. Buckshot was a little hesitant at the trail head, but he responded to my “walk on” and started into the woods. We traveled about a quarter of the trail when he started feeling more and more hesitant. He stopped in the trail, then started turning slowly to the side, trying to turn around. I caught him after a few steps, squeezed his sides and said “walk on.” And he walked. After five strides, he slowed, stopped, tried to turn back, I directed him forward with a squeeze and “walk on.” And he walked. At this point, it was slow going. When his hesitant stopping became more frequent, I knew I had reached the end of his comfort zone. I mentally picked a tree about ten yards ahead and told him to walk on. When we arrived at the tree I chose, I stopped him, turned him around and we headed back. His step picked up immediately. I rubbed his neck, and told him what a brave horse he was! We headed out of the trail. We then rode around on the grassy areas just outside of the arena. It was a somewhat limited area, but I directed him in circles, backing and a tiny bit of trotting.

Then we rode down the farm road, and just as in the trail, Buckshot’s hesitancy emerged, halfway down the road. I again asked him for a few more strides, before turning around and returning. After some more exercises on grass, I took him down the road a second time. This time we progressed a bit further before returning. It was a short ride overall, but a nice day, and I thought that Buckshot did well as he responded to my requests to go a bit further despite the struggle he felt inside. On Friday, I gave him his Christmas present – a new swayback saddle pad by Reinsman, and I really spoiled him with extra treats – an apple, horse muffins, horse cookies and lots of mints.

On Saturday, we were blessed again with nice weather. After I tacked up Buckshot, I walked him to the arena and his enthusiasm was palpable – he was springing and bouncing along at the walk! The arena’s footing was better and we were able to do some wonderful trotting and a few good canters. Then the class went on the trail, and as I rode this wonderful horse through the woods on a perfect early winter day, cool but sunny, feeling his easy gait under me, I couldn’t help but grin broadly and think “This is the most wonderful thing in the world!” It was heavenly and magical, and Buckshot is the best horse in the world!

After our ride I spoiled it all by giving him – I had to, you know, it hurt me worse than him- a dewormer. As I held the bottom of his halter, and fiddled with the tube, I could almost hear Buckshot’s disappointment in me! I got most of it into his mouth, held his mouth closed with my hands (which he beats me at- he can stand and not swallow for days if he needs to!), counted to twenty and let go. The white paste was goopy around his mouth. He walked away immediately and stood motionless at the fenceline, looking over at the next pasture. I put his halter away, and started to head to the main barn, but stopped to look at him. He just stood there, in a place he never stands. He’s sulking, I realized, and headed into his pasture to go to him and apologize. I walked up to him and said, I’m sorry, Buckshot, it’s for your health, but I’m sorry I have to give you that terrible tasting stuff. I hugged him, and he walked away. But at least I hoped he knew I took no pleasure in his discomfort. When I came back later to feed him his dinner, he seemed to have forgotten the slight.

After going to my family Christmas get-together on Sunday, I returned to the barn on Monday. The footing in both arenas was very good and we were able to trot and canter quite a bit. We had a great day. I could feel Buckshot’s enthusiasm and energy and laughed with delight after we rode particularly nice patterns. We again went on a wonderful trail ride with the BO and the BOH.

Gosh, so much good weather makes me wonder if we will really pay for it later! Overall, it was three wonderful days with Buckshot. A very good Christmas indeed. I hope you and your horses had a special Christmas!


Carol said...

I LOVE your hats! They are so cookl, and I like the way you'ver personalized them. What a trend setter you are :)
Sounds like you had some great Christmas rides. Yeah! I like the description of Buckshot bounding along. Isn't it a woderful feeling when that happens?
Don't worry about his sulk. I know they understand that intentions are good.
Happy New Year!

Once Upon an Equine said...

I am very glad Christmas is over and I can return to a normal routine. Christmas is fun but I'm always glad to put it behind me.

I like your new caps! They look great on you. I'd not heard of them before. I visited the website and I will probably order one and see how it works out. I like the brimless one too. I see they are dry clean only and I'm wondering how much barn smell they absorb and if they will dry clean well with those dry-clean sheets for use in a home dryer. I have a fleece ski cap I wear to the barn every morning/evening but it picks up a lot of barn odor and has to be washed frequently, or I feel like my hair picks up the barn smell too; I prefer to go to work without the smell of muck in my hair. The hats look really cute, so I'm going to try one.

Glad you had some nice rides with Buckshot. I haven't been able to ride since the day before thanksgiving.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Love those new hats and with the pin it looks even better. You should send a picture to the company and tell them you advertised them on your blog. Who knows maybe they'll send you a free one.

Your rides with Buckshot sound wonderful, the perfect Christmas gift to both of you. Glad he got over his sulkiness about the wormer.

Wishing you and Buckshot a great New Year and lots of special rides in 2012.

Breathe said...

There is nothing better than a perfect hat - except a perfect ride. Glad it was a great holiday. Love the pin on the hat, one cannot have enough horse pins.

juliette said...

Great hats, Jan - wonderful idea about the pin to make it yours.

Super work with Buckshot out on the trail and farm road. Asking to go a little more until you decide to come back helps him know that you are safe and secure and he can trust you next time out with a little more away from the barn distance. Great work!

Sounds like a perfect Christmas weekend! Happy 2012 to you and the sweet boy!