Well I’ll be damned

It’s been a busy week around here! Rocking Horse is this weekend, so we’ve been doing the usual show prep and making sure everything feels good to go. The farm’s first foal was born this week (one of the TB racehorse boarders, not a WTW foal), and I’ve been doing breeding consultations and working on some exciting stuff for my Patreon peeps. And of course, riding Noodle and Nunez.

why is he so cute tho

I tell you what, if you need to feel loved by an animal, this pony would be the one to buy. He does these soft little nickers at me when I feed him, and if he sees me coming he neighs and runs up to the gate. Is it food motivated? Probably. Is it still freaking adorable? Absolutely. I’ll take his love in whatever form I can get it, because I mean look at that face.

Going back and forth from him to Presto isn’t quite as awkward as I had imagined. I mean… it’s weird for sure, don’t get me wrong. Mostly because of neck length more than anything else. With Presto there is A LOT of real estate in front of you, so that’s the weirdest thing to get used to. Otherwise I feel like my leg sits on him pretty well though, and I don’t have a problem putting my leg on or anything like that.

Presto’s girth next to Nunez’s girth

On the docket for Presto this week was a jump lesson on Tuesday and a fix a test with Debbie Adams on Wednesday. We had talked the past couple weeks about playing with a new bit for him for jumping, and we had tried a 2 ring with definitely no success. Next on our list of things to try was a slow twist, but when I got there on Tuesday Steph was like “This is going to sound crazy, but just try this myler combo bit. I have a hunch.”. I know for a fact that I looked at that bit, looked at her like she was smoking some kind of very potent meth and crack combination, but somehow forced my mouth to say “Ok”. Presto is so opinionated that he thought a 2 ring was a medieval torture device and you want me to try this thing on him?

da fuq

I would never have picked that to try, not in a million years. But I’ll admit that I don’t really have a lot of experience playing with bitting, so if someone I trust says “lets just see what he thinks” then ok, let’s try.

When I warmed him up I really still wasn’t sold. I don’t think he quite knew what to make of it yet. But he had no real objections (and he is never shy about expressing his opinion) so we went ahead and popped over a few jumps. Those went well, so we did a small course.

what is this sorcery

And hell if it wasn’t great. Like… what. What the fuck.

Steph said she had a hunch that he might prefer nose and poll pressure to tongue/bar pressure and I think she’s correct. Which, thinking back, I actually thought that about him way back in the beginning when I first started him under saddle, so this isn’t a new thought, just one I hadn’t really connected. I do have to be very conscious of giving with my hands in this bit, but his balance stayed more uphill, each half-halt was just a one stride say-it-and-be-done, and I was able to ride him more forward because it wasn’t such a long discussion about keeping the balance.

I can get the half-halt done a lot earlier and be really soft at the base of the fence

That’s the ride he really likes, and it just made everything smoother and easier.

Him liking this bit blew my mind completely. Naturally I had to go home and research it to figure out exactly how it works and why he might like it so much. This article helped it make sense. As did this one.

The fact that there’s a “stop” on the main ring means that there’s a limit to how much leverage it has, and there’s nose pressure first and foremost. Which I think it why he likes it. I pretty much never even get to the point of enacting the actual mouthpiece. It’s sort of hackamore-esque but less nose pressure and better steering. You learn something new every day man.

We’re going to use it this weekend, bringing a backup bridle with his other bit just in case the second time isn’t as successful as the first.

Yesterday we did the fix a test, which was at Alyssa Phillips’ farm about 15 minutes away.

the only media i have of Presto from yesterday, aren’t you impressed

He had a real halfway meltdown in warmup because a horse and carriage passed by on the other side of the tree line. Which… fair. That’s fair. I thought his heart was gonna shoot right out of his butthole, it was pounding so hard. He also thought the mirrors lining the arena were definitely the keepers of demons. It took about 15 minutes of very insistent “no sir, you have work to do, pay attention to me” to put the hamster back on it’s wheel. What I do appreciate though is that 1) he didn’t completely explode 2) the hamster was indeed capable of going back on it’s wheel.

He went in with more tension than he usually carries, but he was also being more expressive in his gaits. That tension can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending. The key at this point is learning how to channel it for good.

The fun part was that Debbie loved him. Like loved him. Asked his pedigree, thought he was super nice, really talented, thought he for sure looked the part of an upper level horse (Jennie Brannigan had gone a couple horses ahead of me and she commented on him in warmup too)… which, like… it’s never a bad feeling when people like your horse. She was complimentary of how I rode him too, which was also nice to hear. We ran through the test once, she gave me some suggestions, and we ran through it again with her talking me through bits of it. She gave me some good suggestions, just little things that I think do make a difference. Her overall advice was to not get so caught up in riding the test perfectly, but to ride the horse in the way that’s best for him, shows his quality, and teaches him how to be correct. She said that’ll be more helpful in developing him properly, and this is the type of horse you should always ride with the future in mind. That was helpful feedback!

We capped off the day yesterday with taking Henry and his current rider over to Steph’s for a jump lesson. He was every bit as delighted with himself as you would imagine.

best horse ever

He earns new members of his fan club wherever he goes. It makes me so happy to see him out there having a good time and teaching things to new riders. He’s so good at it.

Now we’re in show prep mode, with dressage tomorrow afternoon. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates (I’d prefer not to freeze to death please and thank you).

Variety is the Spice of Life

Sometimes I have to kind of chuckle at the complete 180 my life has done in the past year. It used to be that every day was the same, my schedule from one week to the next was largely just a repeat of the week before, and routine was the name of the game. Now… good luck having a clue keeping up with wtf is going on from one day to the next. Which isn’t a complaint, to be clear. I have been a long-time devotee to routine, but I’m finding that having several different things going on kind of helps to always keep everything fresh. Last week I worked a bit for the tack shop, a bit for Eventing Nation, a bit for Ride iQ, and a bit for BRC. I also found myself sat on 3 very different horses doing very different things.

I’m obsessed with him

On Wednesday we popped over to do a couple jumper rounds at Fredericks Equestrian. Ocala is starting to come full swing into season where basically every week there are a couple jumper shows and probably at least one fix-a-test as well as a horse trial to choose from. It doesn’t suck. This past week there were jumper rounds at Fredericks on Tuesday and Wednesday and then another venue also had jumper rounds and then there was a recognized HT happening (in addition to the h/j shows at WEC and HITS and the dressage show at WEC). This week I’ve already seen 3 different fix-a-tests and two different jumper rounds shows, something literally every single day of the week to choose from and it’s all cheap. Plus there’s a recognized HT this weekend and a schooling HT next Wednesday. As someone who came from an area where this kind of stuff is few and far between, it’s still continuing to amaze me just how much opportunity there is to ride and train and improve here. It’s like drinking from a firehose filled with rainbows.

Anyway, last week was jumper rounds, and the plan was to do one or two 1m rounds with Presto. We got there, warmed up, and jumped around the 1m, which was uneventful and looked quite small. I expressed that thought to Steph when I came out and she was like “why don’t you just wait til the next height and do a Prelim round?”. Me, in the moment “Okay!”. Me, 10 minutes later “Wait…”.

wheeee found the long one

But I was committed at that point, so we sat there through the rest of the Training height and then the jump crew went in and put everything up. And I swear to god it went from looking teeny to looking giant. If I hadn’t watched them measuring everything I’d have thought they were fucking with me. They also put lots more fillers in, including the liverpool trays. It went from hehehehecute to BUFF. I was watching them put the oxers up and looked at Steph and went “Well now it looks MASSIVE” and she looked at the jumps and went “Meh, this is how big you jump at home.”. FINE. YOU’RE NOT WRONG. OK. THIS IS FINE THEN.

We went back in and jumped around the 1.10m, and Presto, bless his little heart to the moon and back, did not even blink. I made a few creative decisions (ok bad, they were bad) but he was just like “weird choice mom but ok” and did what I asked. He’s still not really even having to try much at this height and he is delightfully unbothered and unfazed even when I’m wrong. All the cookies for the child who is a complete dingaling 98% of the time but manages to be a total fantastic dude when it counts.

been a minute since we looked through these little ears!

On Friday I hopped on Henry, since the person who’s been riding him was out of town for the weekend. I mostly just did whatever the hell he wanted to do, because he’s the king. I scratched his belly for an absurdly long time, and then got on and took him for a hack. I just gave him a loopy rein and let him choose his own adventure. We hacked down to the longhorns down the street, cantered down the shoulder for a ways, and then wandered a full lap of the farm. It’s always good to be back on Henry.

his Dad Bod is going strong

He might get to go to a show next week, too! I gotta get my Henry’s Mom deluxe #1 fan outfit prepped and ready to go. His birthday is also only a few weeks away, and he’s 16 this year. Definitely have to throw him a good Sweet Sixteen.

Also Nunez’s little teeny girth (y’all its like the length of my forearm) arrived on Friday, so I hopped on him for the first time on Saturday. I had ridden Presto right before so uh… yeah… going from 17.1 to 14h is just as weird as I expected. But what I didn’t really anticipate is that Nunez is actually not particularly wide in the rib cage, so I didn’t feel like I was sitting on some sort of low-riding sofa. I found him pretty comfortable actually, and it was easy to get my leg on him.

so low to the ground

He’s a smart pony, and definitely feels athletic. He’s quite green still but willing, and tried hard to figure out what I was asking. I think he’ll be really fun to bring along. Definitely a super mover too, he covers a lot of ground for a little guy. I also didn’t look as big on him as I feared I would. All good marks for his first ride here, and he hacked around the farm afterward like a champ.

only minor pony squishing

This week I’ll be riding Presto and Nunez, and Rocking Horse is this weekend for Presto so we’ve got a few things on our plate (jump lesson and fix-a-test) this week ahead of that. Busy busy times! But in the best way.

Pony! Like really… a pony.

Anyone who has been keeping an eye on my Insta stories may have noticed a particularly adorable new addition.

lewk at heeem

This adorable little nugget is none other than Nunez WTW, from the foal class of 2019. He just moved to Florida from Texas, where he was in training for part of last year. He’s started under saddle w/t/c and has jumped a few things here and there. Now he’s come to Florida for me to work with and figure out what he wants to be, so that he can be sold into the appropriate home. Hunter pony? Dressage pony? Event pony? I dunno… we’ll all find out together.

he’s frickin cute tho
I mean come on

For those who don’t remember, he’s by the imported GRP stallion Nuno, out of sportpony mare Stormie. I sticked him this week and he’s a bit over 14h right now, so I think he’ll definitely stay pony size, but should be a good-size large. I did have to order him a girth though, because, uh… my smallest one for my monoflap is a 22. It’ll sorta kinda hold the saddle on but definitely isn’t small enough to be safe to ride him in. His new one should be here on Friday, and then I’ll get on him. This week I’ve been bringing him into the barn to groom him, and I’ve lunged him a few times to start working on voice commands. He’s got basics well-established, but now it’s time to start refining and focusing things a bit.

The most challenging (and hilarious) part will be the fact that I’ll be going back and forth from 17.1h to 14h.

the size difference between him and Presto is freaking hilarious

I predict that I will probably come off the pony at least once. Not due to any fault of his, but I mean… I’m used to having 75′ of neck in front of me. Better sit up I guess.

Either way it should be amusing for all of us. Welcome to Florida, Nunez!

Still The King

Yes hi hello, I’m still alive. The first two weeks of the year were completely insane between working the 9-5 retail gig and everything else I have on my plate. Luckily I was smart enough to only commit myself to two weeks of that, because my brain needs a break. Granted, it’s not going to get one, I still have a lot to do, but at least I have more time now in which to do it.

How about some updates?

pedicure for the queen

First and foremost; Gemma. Everybody’s been asking about Gemma. She’s been enjoying getting very fat and extra sassy ahead of breeding season. She had her official 6th birthday last week (January 11th) and got her front shoes pulled, so she’s completely barefoot now. I expected her to be a lot more footsore than she is, honestly. She was walking a little gingerly for a few days, but that’s about it so far.

Yesterday she got moved out to one of the mare pastures. I wasn’t sure if she’d like being in a herd environment and less coddled since she really likes her attention and her private snacks. Luckily she’s pretty low drama so the integration was easy, and she’s already made some friends. When she sees me she comes up to the fence for cookies and face rubs but seems calm and content, so… so far so good.

featuring the only thing I bought during two weeks of working at Luxe EQ – the sky blue Harcour breeches. No regrets.

As for the Noodle Doodle, he’s still chugging along. I took him last week for a jump lesson, trying out a new bit. I feel like the beval is just not quite enough sometimes, so we tried a 2-ring with 2 reins but he thought that was too much. We ended up taking off the bottom rein entirely but still I preferred how he felt in the beval. Back to the drawing board on that one. He’s been pretty good though (well ok, he did lose his brain for like 2 days when some of the seasonal boarders moved in and he couldn’t comprehend the fact that there were now horses in places they hadn’t been before) and we’re headed to Fredericks Equestrian tomorrow for a jumper class or two. Somehow Rocking Horse is only like a week and a half away now. Time flies. Send help.

As for Henry, he remains the Greatest Animal That Ever Lived. We have someone staying here on the farm in her camper for a few months, and she just sold her horse. I offered up Henry for her to ride, which is really a win-win… he needs to be ridden more than I have time for, and she needed a fun and reliable mount. She’s been riding him for a few weeks now and naturally loves him (because who wouldn’t). This past weekend she took him out XC schooling for the first time and I was basically the proudest horse mom in all of Ocala.

they’re adorable

I wore the shirt I have that’s just covered in his XC face (because lets be honest, that’s even better than a foam finger) and recorded everything and said “he is the cutest, I love him” like 752 times.

She said it was the most fun XC school she’s ever had. Nothing pleases me more than seeing the love of my life helping other riders find their inner badass, especially when they’ve had struggles with previous horses. He did so much for me, and watching him give that feeling to other people is just the biggest Proud Mom moment ever. Add another lifetime member to his fan club. Henry is still the king.

2023 Baby Bets Contest

Man, this has really snuck up on me this year. Can you believe that it’s already almost foaling season?!

As has become tradition around here by now, that means it’s time for our annual Willow Tree Warmbloods Baby Bets contest! Last year we had only one foal due, so we just did a smaller contest in the Patreon group. This year though, we’ve got a full line up, so we’re bringing it back out to the public.

First thing’s first: the prize (aside from extreme bragging rights, amazement at your psychic powers, and a virtual fist bump). The winner of this year’s Baby Bets contest will receive a Willow Tree Warmbloods swag bag, including a shirt, decal, cup, towel, and some other fun surprises. 😉

We’ll do the rules the same as we have before. Basically all you have to do is exercise those psychic powers and comment here with your guesses for the following, for each foal:

  • Foaling Date
  • Foaling Time (doesn’t have to be to the minute accurate, just to the hour is fine – ie 2AM. If it happens in the 2AM hour, you get the points.)
  • Gender
  • Color
  • Face Markings
  • Leg Markings (again doesn’t have to be specific – “one sock”, “none”, “four socks”, etc will work)

So your submission should look something like this for each mare (there are 6 this year):

Mare Name: 4/2 3AM bay filly with a stripe and two socks

But filled in with your actual guesses, of course. 

Everything you guess correctly will earn points. 10 points each for foaling date and time, and then 5 points each for gender, color, face markings, and leg markings… each foal can potentially net you up to 40 points. So even if you get a few things wrong, there are still ways to rack up some serious points. If there are any ties, I’ll put them all in a hat and get Michelle to pick a winner.

Still the cutest WTW foal of all time if you ask me. Definitely not biased.

Submit your entries via a comment here on this post or you can message them to me on my social media. Just make sure you leave a link or an email address so I can contact you if you win! Easy peasy.

The “Due dates” I’ve listed below are based on the average 340 days gestation, but keep in mind that normal gestation can be anywhere from 320ish to 360ish. I’ve included pictures of both parents and whatever info is important so you can make your best guesses!

Sea Lion x Kilpatrick Grace

Embryo Transfer (Carried by recipient mare Glo)

Due 2/17

One of our most anticipated foals ever! This will be Grace‘s first foal, carried by a recipient mare. The sire is the full Thoroughbred stallion Sea Lion, who competed to the Advanced level in eventing with an amateur. Sea Lion is plain bay (and throws a lot of fairly plain bay) and Grace has 3 socks and a stripe.

Utrillo x Lasilissa

Embryo Transfer (Carried by recipient mare Champ)

Due 3/16

This will be a full sibling to Percy, definitely bred to jump with two Grand Prix parents! Lissa’s color panel is AA/Ee (homozygous agouti, carries the red gene… so she can throw bay or chestnut). Utrillo obviously is gray and we think he was born bay. Since gray is at play here and isn’t always immediately obvious at birth, I’m looking for guesses about the base color only. Chestnut, bay, black, etc.

Lingo van de Watermolen OR DSP Araldik x Vonhra xx

Due 4/18

We don’t know yet who the sire is for this one, because we used partial doses from both stallions to make up a full dose… it’ll be a fun surprise on so many levels for all of us. This will also be Vee’s first foal! We do know that she has a red gene, since her dam was chestnut. Vee is fairly plain bay and so are both potential baby daddies. Lingo is still quite young, his oldest foals were born in 2021 and he’s currently jumping at the 1.30m level. Araldik is a full sibling to Ingrid Klimke’s superstar 4* mare Asha P and he’s jumped to 1.40m.

Future Hepsilon x A Firm Question xx

Due 4/24

I’m really excited about this one because I love this young UK stallion by the famous eventing stallion Upsilon, and of course I love Peyton. Future Hepsilon is gray (born bay) and also carries a red gene, and Peyton is a pretty plain bay although if you remember her first foal Remi was by a plain bay stallion and came out a very flashy chestnut. Her second foal by a plain bay stallion came out fairly plain bay. Peyton has a hidden white-markings gene at play that shows up sometimes and since she’s had a chestnut foal already she obviously also carries a red gene. Since gray is on option here also and isn’t always immediately obvious at birth, I’m looking for guesses about the base color only. Chestnut, bay, black, etc.

Philanderer x Daisy

Due 4/25

The color possibilities with this one are a little more fun – Daisy is a grulla with a color panel of aa/Ee D/D. Philanderer is black, but I’m unsure of his red status. If he carries red then there’s a chance of red dun, but otherwise it’s grulla. They’re both pretty plain as far as markings go. Philanderer has evented through the 4* level in Europe.

Usandro Tilia Derlenn x Chanel Z

Due 4/28

Yup that’s right, there’s a hony superstar en route! Chanel is obviously chestnut but Usandro is homozygous, meaning that the foal will have to be either bay or black. Usandro is plain, Chanel has a stripe and a couple socks. Usandro is the #1 pony jumper stallion in France, and Chanel competed to 1.40m. She had two foals in Europe before being imported to the US – her offspring have competed to 1.50m and 1.45m, and she also has a granddaughter that has so far competed to 1.35m. This one will JUMP.


I’ll leave entries open through 1/24, so that gives you 2 weeks to get your guesses in! The contest winner will be announced after the last foal is born. Obviously I have no idea exactly when that’ll be, hopefully by early May.

Splash Mountain

This week/weekend I’m working at WEC, but I wanted to be able to get a lesson in with Presto before that started. The winter season is very quickly approaching (closing date is next week for our first one!) and I thought it might be a good idea to go XC school a few questions that he maybe hadn’t seen yet. In particular, there’s a Weldon’s Wall at Training at a couple venues, and I am not the biggest fan of those, and Presto had never seen one.

Every time he sees me packing the trailer he’s like HI MOM WHERE ARE WE GOING

Our favorite close venue happens to have a Weldon’s Wall on their Training course, which was tres convenient, and Steph had time on Tuesday to meet us, so we headed over there.

Aside from the Weldon’s wall I also wanted to school a drop into water, since we haven’t done that question very much either. Presto is bold, but he IS still green, and we’re still a relatively new partnership, so I’m definitely interested in doing the things that put deposits in the trust bank. It’s never the best feeling to get to a show and be like “hmm well we’ve never done anything quite like that before”. At least not for me.

Wheee

So we started with a few simple warmup fences, then went over to the trakeners. He’s jumped the Novice one before and the Training one isn’t much bigger, so he didn’t even blink at that. He was far more interested in the horse at the top of the hill in the distance that was having some primo shenanigans.

What I have noticed about him now that we have a few XC runs under our belt is that there are 3 very distinct Presto modes while on course. For the first few jumps he’s almost a bit overly bold… super pumped to be there, not as responsive to my half-halts. After that he levels out and goes into cruising mode and is quite lovely and focused. That lasts for most of the course. And then by the last few he’s like “perhaps I have regrets about my earlier Fuckery” and can be a little slower off my leg. Three different horses that require three different rides within about 5 minutes.

Schooling is a bit of the same. In the beginning he’s like YEEEEEHAW and then levels out, which is helpful because we can at least practice the best way to ride/handle each of the modes.

Didn’t even have the decency to look impressed

After the trakehners we went over to the Weldon’s, which he gave less than zero shits about. I don’t think he even registered that the ditch existed.

Since that was super uneventful we went to the water next, jumping down the smaller bank (which was on the T course), then doing the whole T line (down bank into water, skinnyish ramp a couple strides out of the water), then the Prelim drop. The T line was no problem, but he did seem to quite enjoy launching himself into the water. Steph was very convinced that if we repeatedly just walked or quietly trotted off the drop, he would eventually jump down it normally.

Which would be sound logic, if Presto was normal. I’m not sure if y’all knew this, but Presto is NOT normal.

This is fine.

If this had been a cannonball competition, he’d have won hands down. You could practically hear his glee every time he leaped out into the water like he belonged at Sea World. His enthusiasm never once wavered, no matter how many times we went down it or how quietly he approached. He was having a grand time. My knees and spine were having a less fun time. Also, I was soaked. I got a face full of water on multiple occasions, like I went to the water park. I guess I did.

I mean, the good news is, he has no hesitation about dropping into water. You just… might not enjoy the style in which he does it. The joys of a young, exuberant horse.

After that we finished up by stringing together the coffin, a corner, and the big open MIM oxer, all of which he popped through easy peasy. He was a super good boy and it left me feeling a lot more confident about whatever we might see on the Training courses this season. Time to send in the first show entry of 2023!

Indoctrinated

And just like that, it’s 2023.

Please hold, when I typed that I just sat here and realized that I turn 40 this year. I thought I was 38. Gonna need a minute to process that. What the fu….

Lex be like “yes hi please stop taking my picture and give me my damn dinner”

Anyway, we’ll deal with that particular existential crisis later, let’s talk about the fun stuff that happened last week instead.

First and foremost, I had a jump lesson on Presto. Specifically grid work, which was super good for him. We hadn’t jumped since the show like a week and a half before, and I’ve noticed that if we spend too long at home without going anywhere and challenging his brain with something beyond conditioning and flatwork, he starts to make up fun games. And when I say fun games, I mean fun for him. The day before the jump lesson he was playing a game of Corner Ballerina (you know, where you spin like a ballerina in every corner). He thinks that one is hilarious.

So off he went the next day for gymnastics, where he spent the first times through the line swearing that he was just way too tired to use his booty to push himself off the ground properly. That’s a lie. He is just a big young horse that would prefer to avoid using said booty because it’s hard. He got it by the end though. And then the next day he got a massage from his favorite bodyworker, because ya know… hard knock life. (lets ignore the fact that I’ve been unable to stand fully upright for like 2 weeks because I tweaked something in my back while I was SLEEPING. It’s fine.).

My Christmas present to myself arrived too…

If you said “Jesus, that’s shiny.” or “Good Lord”, or “You could see that thing from space”… yes. Yes you are correct. I dunno man, my helmets are coming up on their expiration and I’m having a real glossy moment right now and this one was on sale for like $100. Plus it fits me really well. So who am I to question the audaciousness of the glitter plus glossy combo? It is a whole-ass lot. I’m kind of obsessed with it.

On that same theme….

Sunday we had our barn holiday party at Steph’s, complete with a taco bar and a White Elephant gift exchange. As soon as Party Coordinator Libby (who is also a Steph student, a fantastic friend, a blog reader, a Patron, and the owner of Higher Standards Leather Care) said White Elephant, I knew exactly what I was going to bring. I did not pause for even a moment – I marched straight over to Amazon and got this glorious creature.

Hillary is modeling it here

I mean. Come on. Who doesn’t need one of those? It got stolen the max number of times in the White Elephant, so we’ll call it a success. And I walked away with a Harry Potter sorting hat, so like… win/win on that one.

Libby also got me a Christmas present.

Here’s where I should preface and say that these people are Croc lovers. Like…. really into Crocs. Pretty much everyone at the barn has multiple pairs, they wear them all the time, are hardcore devotees. And I have nothing against that. You do you, bro. But I’m not wearing them.

Right?

RIGHT?

wrong, bitches

Libby rolled up in there with these black glitter crocs, complete with skull charms, all wrapped up in a unicorn gift bag. How thoughtfully manipulative, using all my favorite things to convert me. I stood no chance, really.

I put them on, flipped them into sport mode, and I’ve basically been wearing them ever since. Even into PUBLIC, and I didn’t give one flying fuck about who might have been judging me. You know why? First of all, look at them. Second of all, they’re stupid comfortable. I am shooketh. I don’t even know what happened.

If you don’t have friends that indoctrinate you into some weird shoe cult against your will, are you even living?

2022 Wrapped

Boy… what a year, huh? Life doesn’t look the same in December as it did in January (for the better, I think)! Let’s take a very brief trip back through the months and look at the highlights of what all happened in my world this year.

January

We bought Gemma! Was it partially because I was having a complete mental breakdown about Presto’s mystery lameness? Perhaps. It’s fine.

A couple weeks later Presto got an MRI which showed us that he “just” had a bone bruise rather than the 9000 various career-ending soft tissue injuries that I had built up in my head over the preceding month.

At the end of the month Hillary took Henry to a jumper show and did the 1.10m, which was fucking adorable.

February

Henry turned 15!

Hillary and I launched the Patreon, which… despite how skeptical I was about it in the beginning, it has been AMAZING and the community that it’s resulted in is one of my favorite things to come out of the entire year.

I got a new-to-me dressage saddle and gave it a very satisfying makeover. It’s been a great purchase.

Presto went out to West Texas to do some small paddock rest to heal from his bone bruise, where he proceeded to take a few years off Michelle’s life.

March

We did a quick trip out to Ocala to get the farm ready for the seasonal boarders.

Gemma got the all-clear from the vet to start back to work, and I discovered that she is a Very Fancy Good Girl.

Presto had a giraffe-themed 5th birthday party.

April

Gemma went on an outing to the local XC facility, where she jumped her first jumps.

I was off the rails busy trying to get everything ready to move to Florida, including the tiny house and the horses.

We had the most epic Lady’s Weekend trip to Kentucky, where we also got Pat Your Horse tattoos.

May

We moved to Florida! All 3 horses and all my shit driving halfway across the country ala Beverly Hillbillies.

I started Presto back under saddle after 7 months off.

Henry continued to prove that he is the OG for a reason, and brought some balance to my circus of greenies.

June

the naughtiest noodle

Got a new boss at work and things slowly but surely started to shift in a very bad and stressful direction.

I got my very first brand new custom saddle and it was delightful (still is).

Presto went on a couple outings just to hack around and was a terrorist.

July

time to tame the beast

Hopped Presto over some XC jumps for the first time and realized it was definitely time to get serious about finding a trainer because he wasn’t bad but also I may or may not have been in over my head.

A few days later I took my first lesson with Steph and was instantly like “yes. yes, this.”. We spent most of the month taking flat lessons and then toward the end of the month Steph started doing training rides.

I realized I was in a real shit pickle with my job and started trying to figure out just how much more I could take and WTF I was gonna do.

August

First jump lesson!

Presto continued his training rides for the first half of the month, and on August 21st I had my first jump lesson on him with Steph (second jump lesson on Presto ever… the first one was the previous September).

Gemma also went to her first couple lessons, one dressage and one jumping. She did not blink twice at the liverpool.

I took Henry XC schooling because he was feeling a bit left out and that’s the quickest way to make him happy.

I finally got covid, my company disrespected me so much that it was finally the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I rage quit. After 18 years in corporate. Cue extremely mixed feelings of terror and relief.

September

Ocala doesn’t need a filter

Presto became more and more civilized and rideable by the day. It made me deeply suspicious. We also went out XC schooling with Steph for the first time.

Gemma got inspected and approved for breeding by sBs.

I focused on expanding BreedRideCompete, took on more social media clients, and started writing more for Eventing Nation (like the Windfall piece, the Burghley article, the Pratoni breeding breakdown, and the Banzai du Loir spotlight).

Hurricane Ian pointed straight at us and made for some exciting hurricane prep, but mercifully turned away at the last minute.

October

More XC schooling, including Steph’s now famous commentary. I was told it was time to enter a show.

Spent a weekend at TerraNova covering the FEI divisions for EN and ate my weight in italian ice.

Did my first and second shows on Presto – Majestic Oaks in the Novice and the Halloween POP show in the Novice. The mohawk was rad and so was he.

November

Naughty Noodle on a Rope

Presto continued to really step it up in our jump lessons and Steph suggested we look at a Training move-up. I pondered whether or not she might have a crack habit, but she kept raising the jumps and the horse just got better.

I started picking up some part time work in the Luxe EQ mobile for the first time in like 5 years.

Presto and I did our first 1m classes at a jumper show, after he spent the entire morning screaming in my ear and making me question literally all of my life choices.

December

We were off to Rocking Horse for our first recognized event, where I mostly just wanted to not look like a total idiot. Presto showed up to party and won on his 23.6 dressage score.

Presto jumped 4′ in a lesson and it still barely even felt like he was trying.

We celebrated Henry’s 9th gotcha day with the sassiest road hack.

Presto and I completed his first Training and he was super!

So, ya know… what’s different? I live in a new state, I have a different job (ok jobs, now I have jobs), I officially launched my own business (complete with an LLC like an actual grown up), I have another horse, I found a trainer and barn family that I love, and am now not just riding Presto but competing him at Training level.

Whoa. What a difference a year makes. 2022 certainly was not all sunshine and roses… it might actually be the year that has taxed me the most and stressed me out more than any other. At times it just felt like one bullshit thing after the other. Changes are scary and hard, and I had many. But I also believe that change is an opportunity, and it’s up to me to make something positive out of it. The blog has certainly had to take a backseat during all of this, and honestly that’s likely just the new normal. Updating the Patreon group is a lot quicker and easier, and I feel like I’ve gotten at least a little bit of privacy back when it comes to having a smaller audience to share the more personal aspects of my life. But at the same time it’s sad to me that the blogging community has died out so much in the past couple years (man I miss the old days!), and I don’t want to be another casualty, so I have no plans to stop anytime soon. Plus like… how could we possibly live without Foal Fridays? Have no fear, BRE will keep on going, even if it too has had to undergo some changes along the way.

Apparently there was a holiday

I am a little jealous of everyone that’s on vacation right now, or at least had a long weekend. That’s not how things worked around here in any capacity.

First and foremost, wtf with the weather, man. Yeah I know Florida barely got anything of note compared to… well… the rest of the country. But still, we’ve had 4 nights in a row of hard freezes. Ya know what’s not built for that? Florida. So I’ve spent a lot of time covering pipes and spigots and dripping things and unhooking things and breaking ice and soaking grain and tossing extra hay and making sure horses are drinking and that they’re not cold and doing constant wardrobe changes on mine. Winter is work. Every year I don’t understand how people do actual winter. Just a tiny tease of it is enough to make me want to go play in traffic. Makes my skin hurt. Is awful. Would 10/10 rather be sweating.

did get some cute Christmas pics though
You can always count on Presto to be himself

I also was extra busy because – surprise – I got a new job. It’s a very part-time consultant position, just enough to fill in the remaining gap (ok there was no remaining gap, but the theoretical remaining gap) in my work schedule. I was offered the right opportunity at the right time and the job is a perfect fit plus it’s for a company I love and believe in (Ride iQ) so that was a no-brainer. It did mean that I basically spent the weekend trying to clear a bunch of pedigree reports and breeding consultations off my plate to prepare for this first week, so… between that and the weather there was no relaxing holiday here. On Christmas I unwrapped my total of one present (the white breeches I asked for), I took a break for lunch to go get Chinese food (it’s tradition) and otherwise I was cranking out pedigree reports like it’s my damn job (it is).

The Chinese food place gave us this super awesome calendar and I love it a little too much perhaps

Presto got an early Christmas present – a boat fender buoy. A buoy? Yes a buoy. It was an idea I’ve been bouncing around for a while, wondering if a buoy might be a better toy for him than those balls (which.. he destroyed the last ball in less than a day) since they’re a lot thicker and more rugged. I was really wanting something more like 36″ – he likes the bigger ones that he can lay on – but I found a really good deal on a 24″ that made it basically the same price as the horse ones. He won’t play with a Jolly Ball, I guess it’s too small or too heavy to be fun, but I was hoping this would work. I got it, inflated it, made him a rope handle with baling twine, and well… it’s been a huge hit.

Henry is not impressed

I do think he would definitely prefer a bigger one, so I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for that (if you know where I can get big buoys for cheap, hit me up) but for now this one is an absolute champ. He has stomped it, thrown it, body-slammed it, and attacked it Jaws-style so many times, but it’s still kicking. Presto did dislodge the original stopper, but it came with a backup, so we just blew it back up and put a new stopper in it. He’s had hours and hours of fun.

“fun”

Maybe I need to start my own horse ball company using buoy material instead. Granted, I think most horses don’t destroy them at the astonishing rate Presto did.

I gave him the two super cold days off because I neither want to freeze to death or get murdered, but we were back at it yesterday. He’s looking like quite the snack these days, I gotta say. What happened to that mega awkward kiddo that we all looked at for 4 straight years?

I have a lot of grown up stuff on my plate this week so I’m not sure yet how the horse parts will play out, but we’ll see. How is it almost 2023 already?

Year end 10 questions

Anxiety at A posted this blog hop and I thought it was a superb way to do a bit of a year-end recap, so I’m hopping on the train.

the most festive hopping gif i could find

What is your favorite accomplishment in 2022?

Horse-related: feeling like I’ve finally formed a partnership with Presto. When I started legging him back up in May it was not an instant click, it’s taken a lot of work and time and effort to get us on the same page. At one point I wasn’t sure that it was going to happen at all, but now we’ve got it together and we’re on the right track.

Was there an item purchased was the best thing you bought all year for yourself or your horse?

My Arion saddle, for sure. I really love it, Presto loves it, it’s helped put me in better balance with him, it’s pretty… what’s not to like? Ok the price, but ya know… it was the first custom saddle (or even NEW saddle) I have ever purchased in my life, and it was 100% worth it. 10/10 recommend

Favorite memory from the year?

The gorgeous Ocala mornings are hard to beat, especially in the summer. I am convinced there’s something magical about this place, especially at that time of day when the sunlight is just coming up through all the Spanish Moss on the trees. There are only a few places in the world where I’ve felt like it really connected straight to my soul, and this is one of them. Living here is amazing, and I hope I never stop being blown away by how gorgeous it is.

Worst moment?

Probably the day I realized my 18-year corporate career was falling to shambles around me. Panic attack doesn’t quite begin to describe it. It was one of those moments where you realize you have two choices: roll over and take it, or be bold and take charge of your own destiny. Let me tell you how positively terrifying it is to tell a company to shove it when it’s been the cornerstone of your entire adult life. But – that worst moment, which was also the hardest moment, also ended up being the catalyst for something great and ultimately it’s changed my life for the better. No regrets.

Do you have a favorite photo from this year?

One is not possible.

Henry and my Spanish Moss cape
the first time Noodle has exerted real effort in his life
the reality of young horses (they are *#&$!# annoying sometimes)

Was there something (podcast, book, quote, post, blog, etc.) that impacted you this year?

I first talked about enneagram stuff on here back in 2020, but it’s kind of returned front and center to my way of thinking now that I spend more time chatting with Libby and Steph, who are also enthusiasts. Learning more about yourself is pretty helpful in all walks of life (as Steph likes to say, if you know how you do be, you can actually grow and try to improve some of the not so great parts of how you do be rather than just saying “that’s how I do be”) but particularly in my interpersonal relationships as well as my riding and mindset. Having people that’ll be like “you’re doing that 5 thing right now” really help with the self-awareness, and having a coach that really understands how I learn/think/react has been pretty revolutionary. Steph did a great session with the Ride iQ ladies about enneagram and how it can be applied to coaching, learning, etc… highly recommend watching! I’ve also fallen face first into an enneagram 5 podcast that has blown my mind a few times. It’s amazing how helpful it is to fully understand how your brain works, especially in comparison to other people.

Most chaotic moment?

That’s a real tie between the Texas to Florida move (or the lead up to it, really) and those two weeks when my corporate life was rapidly devolving. Granted, every day with Presto is a microdose of chaos.

Is there something you wanted to do this year that didn’t happen?

I feel like a Europe trip is always on my list of things I want to do and every year that it doesn’t happen is kind of sad. Even though I knew this year was extremely unlikely, with everything else going on. I’d also really really really like to find someone local for Henry… he would greatly enjoy having someone to take around the lower levels and boss around. Was hoping that might happen this year but it got back-burnered.

Did you accomplish any of the goals set for the year?

Did I actually set any goals this year besides getting Presto rehabbed/legged back up and moving to FL? I don’t even remember. Probably not, setting goals really isn’t my jam.

Do you have any major goals for 2023?

See above, not my jam. I really just want to keep my horses happy and healthy and for us to keep learning and growing, whatever that may look like.

Are there any major plans or purchases already in mind for 2023?

We must do a Kentucky 5* trip again this year, because it was really one of the big highlights for 2022 for me. Otherwise, no plans yet! I feel like things have a way of finding me, though…

Remember that time…