Are Amateur Classifications Even Neccessary?

I’m sure y’all have seen a lot of the chatter going on lately about USEF taking a hard look at revamping their amateur rules. There’s been a lot of discussions, a task force was created, and a few days ago they had a webinar about some of the ideas they’ve had/changes they’re looking at. A basic write-up of their ideas is here if you missed it. Admittedly, I didn’t watch the webinar, I just read the cliffs notes version. Mostly because I’m honestly just really tired of having the conversation at all.

I think eventing is the sport in which amateur vs pro classifications matter the least. Our divisions are rarely separated by amateur vs open, rather ours tend to either all just be open divisions or they’re divided into “Horse”, “Rider”, or “Open”. I think I’ve been in an actual Amateur division a grand total of once in my entire eventing career, and that was at AEC’s in 2015 where they split divisions every possible different way.

The way our classifications work in eventing is that “Horse” is for less experienced horses: A horse division is open to any competitors, but the horse cannot have completed an event above the next highest level. So for instance, no one could go enter Henry in a Novice Horse division, since he’s competed at Preliminary. A Novice Horse division could have pros on green horses, amateurs on lifelong low-level horses, etc.

Next is the “Rider” classification: A rider division is open to competitors who have not completed an event above the next highest level in the last five years. So basically since I’ve only competed through Prelim, I could enter Prelim Rider but I couldn’t enter Novice Rider. The rider divisions are also not limited to amateur or pro, only by the rider’s experience.

Last is the “Open” classification, which, as may be obvious, is open to any horse or rider of any experience, amateur or pro. Some people just always enter the Open divisions by default because it’s easiest (like Megan with Presto, she just always enters all of hers in Open, and that’s fine, you don’t HAVE to enter Horse or Rider even if you’re qualified for it) and it tends to shake out fine in the end anyway.

It’s slightly more complicated than that when you take into account FEI stuff (it’s all outlined here) but for the most part, that’s it. Pretty simple. However, one thing USEA currently DOES do is award “amateur placings” for points or championship qualification purposes. For instance, if someone who was classified as an amateur came in 3rd place overall but was the top placed amateur, they would get 1st place points toward their USEA amateur leaderboard ranking and would get a 1st place qualification towards championships. You don’t get any extra ribbons, heck you probably won’t even find out your amateur placing until the points get entered into USEA, but that’s the only place where amateurs can benefit a little bit. Honestly, I’d be totally fine with doing away with that and not even having an amateur classification at all. To me this whole amateur thing just seems way more freakin complicated than it’s worth. There’s got to be a better way, even if it’s something totally different than any sport has now, or with more classifications than I listed above.

So my question is – why would something akin to (even if not the same as) eventing’s approach not work for other disciplines too? I’ve come from the h/j world, and while it would be VERY different from how things are now, I can see it working. Honestly it’s a lot simpler than the way things are now with 9000 different things that amateurs can or cannot do under the rules and all the attempts to circumvent it or make allowances. The Horse/Rider/Open classifications also tend to sort themselves more fairly, IMO, because if I’m entered in a Rider division at least I’m not up against anyone who’s ridden at a much higher level.

Mostly though, I’m so tired of having the amateur conversation that I’m ready to just do away with it entirely. They don’t really use it in other countries either, so… why are we so twisted up in it? Is there really not a better, easier, simpler, way than writing a million rules about what people can or cannot do to keep an asinine status? Why are we clinging so tightly to this “amateur” classification in the first place?

Blog Hop Olympics Style

Now that the dressage and eventing are done and dusted and half of the showjumping is done, now seems like as good a time as any for an Olympic style blog hop, while everything is still fresh in our minds.

70+ Free Olympic Rings & Olympics Images

So, tell me:

What’s been your favorite moment?

What horse you’d most like to ride?

What horse you’d most like to own?

What horse hadn’t you seen before that put itself on your radar?

What was your favorite cross country round?

What was your favorite dressage test?

What horse would you give the “good do-er” award?

What horse and rider looks to have the most fun partnership?

Tullabeg Flamenco

What’s been your favorite moment? Julia winning individual gold. That was just a super freaking exciting finish and a big #girlpower moment, how could I not pick it.

What horse you’d most like to ride? It is still, and probably always will be until the day he retires, Tullabeg Flameco. I just love the zest with which he does he job, how hard he tries, and how genuine he is. Sam often says that anyone could ride him and I volunteer as tribute to test that theory.

What horse you’d most like to play “owner” for? Omg, Vassily de Lassos hands down. What a fun horse that must be to own, and Andrew seems like one of the genuinely nicest riders on the planet.

Vassily

What horse hadn’t you seen before that put itself on your radar? I’ve seen The Quizmaster before somewhere, I know, but I’ve never really SEEN The Quizmaster before. That horse really jumped out at me, loved the type, loved the jump and the overall style of the horse. It’s a shame they got a TE for jumping the combination wrong at the water, because the horse was really rocking and rolling around that course. Also interesting to me because it’s by Albaran xx, you know I love a good TB sire.

The Quizmaster

What was your favorite cross country round? How could I not say Vassily? He’s just incredible. I have to give a shout to Ballaghmor Class too though, Ollie really came out guns blazing and gave us all a riding lesson right out of the gate.

What was your favorite dressage test? Ok, none of the eventers had a really great dressage test except maybe Michi, so I’m gonna hop over to the real dressage folks for this one. I had two – the first was Sabine’s in the team final where she really stepped up and threw down a fantastic test to bump the US up to Silver. That was amazing to watch. And then of course how could I not pick “Rave Horse” – Steffan’s freestyle was really fun (two words I rarely say about dressage), and seeing it take off all over social media has been hilarious. I’ve seen more dressage TikTok’s from muggles in the past week than I ever imagined possible. Who knew dressage could go viral?

What horse would you give the “good do-er” award? I’m torn between two eventers: Gurza and Tayberry. Gurza, bless her, made it work from some pretty questionable distances all weekend long. She never said no and never stopped trying, which of course makes sense because she’s a very high blood chestnut mare. So much heart in that one. And Tayberry, sweet tiny little wonderful 20 year old Tayberry, chugged right on through to the finish with his Chinese rider. He was slow but steady and they had a great completion. Both of those horses were just so kind and tried so hard for their people.

What horse and rider looks to have the most fun partnership? I loved DSP Fighting Line and Lea Seigl. She’s only 23 years old, the youngest rider in the eventing competition, and has come up through the international level along with that horse, who was a really fun little firecracker. You could tell they knew each other very well and even when he had a lot of yeehaw antics she just sat chilly and gave him a pat and went on with it. He tried his heart out for her and she rode him beautifully to finish 15th overall.

Tell me who your favorites were!

Tokyo Olympics Eventing Reflections

Man, the Olympics is a lot. All the dressage, then the eventing, now the beginning of the showjumping… feels like we’ve been doing this for months, yet it’s also flying by. Well, the eventing felt like it flew by anyway. I have A LOT of thoughts about it all and maybe even a for-fun little blog hop tomorrow, but I wanted to jot down my biggest takeaways from the eventing competition.

I came flying out of my seat and ran laps around the coffee table

First and foremost, how can you not be thrilled about Julia winning? No disrespect to Ollie or Tom but I was rooting like hell for Julia. With all she’s been through in the past few years and losing the ride on Chipmunk, then her top horse having to be retired… if a German was gonna win, I definitely was hoping it would be her (sorry Michi, love you 4ever). Plus, like, as a female in 2021, how freakin cool is it to FINALLY have a female gold medalist in eventing? Not to mention – would Julia have even been on the German team if Ingrid hadn’t gotten injured? Probably not. Her win was an awesome moment. She was my “human hero” pick of the games for sure. But how was she not absolutely shitting herself going into that final round of showjumping? I’d have needed a diaper and an oxygen machine. She’s got ice in her veins… well freakin done, Julia.

best XC horse in the world

If I have to pick a “horse hero”, it’d be Vassily de Lassos hands down. What an impeccable career that horse has had, and he continued it with another impeccable performance in Tokyo. He was the only horse to finish on his dressage score even after two rounds of showjumping, which was enough to secure him bronze. Plus how can you not root for Andrew Hoy? Vassily’s XC round was absolutely brilliant, he’s absolutely everything a modern event horse should be. Fast, clever, ridiculously athletic, forward-thinking… his footwork and reaction time are second to none. It was really just a joy to watch. Too bad he’s not a mare.

bonus Vassily

Also, I feel like we need to talk about the French. I got so many messages from people saying they were surprised to see the French do well or surprised to see so many French horses. Guys, we can’t forget that the French won gold in Rio, right? Never ever count out the ever-so-sneaky French. They don’t compete as much outside of France so I think in a lot of ways they stay more “hidden” than the Brits or the Irish or even the Germans, but they’re a powerhouse and have been for a while now. As for their horses, Selle Francais is one of the top-ranked studbooks in the world, year after year, in both eventing and showjumping, and always has been. The performance of the French team in Tokyo was especially impressive I thought, considering this was really their “second string”, having lost their top heavy hitters in the past few months to injury. Their second string still managed to swoop in and secure team bronze. Also what I really love about them: they are just so very thoroughly FRENCH. 99% of the time it’s a French rider on a French-bred horse in all French tack, French equipment, French clothing, etc. VIVE LA FRANCE.

Speaking of French-bred horses, 6 of the top 7 horses were bred in France. That was some serious domination. As for some other quick stats: the average blood percentage of the top 10 was 59%, a bit higher than the field average of 55%. Additionally, 3 of the top 7 horses had a full blood dam – two TB, one AA. The horses under about 45% blood really did not fare well here overall. I was also delighted to see all 3 Jaguar Mails finish – what an accomplishment for a stallion (a French stallion, naturally).

I wish it could have been a tragedy-free games, but alas that was not to be with the loss of Jet Set. My thoughts on that are summed up really well here so I won’t even bother trying to say it any better.

As for the biggest competitive heartbreak, man I was sad for Japan. They’ve worked so hard and looked so good coming into these games, I was sure they’d get a medal. I actually gasped when Yoshi popped off of Calle 44 on cross country. What a shame to come so far and be in your home country. And then Kazuma Tomoto finishing 4th overall, just out of medal contention… soooo close, yet so far. Brilliant performance for Kazuma, but an overall bummer for Japan to go home with no medals.

As for the US – heavy sigh. Yes, it’s the best we’ve done since 2004 in that at least we actually finished a team this time (ouch), but it wasn’t exactly a great performance either. I could be in the minority here because I’ve seen a lot of other people saying they thought we did great, but… we were 41 points off GB and 24 points off the podium in general. That’s quite a lot. I also think we got lucky a few times: Boyd and Phillip both had near-misses on XC (there’s a point where “epic saves” really need to stop being a regular thing) and Vandiver looked pretty tired by time he crossed the finish. We added quite a few rails overall too. I just think that, as a country, we’re better than that. We’re definitely not GB-level good (lord they dominated everyone’s asses, didn’t they?) but we certainly have a plenty deep pool of talent and horses to where we should be showing better than that on the international stage. I would love to go back in time and make a couple substitutions to see how that played out, but alas, it is what it is. Will be interesting to see if anything was learned from it by the time the next WEG rolls around.

Last but not least, I wanna talk about MIMgate. You guys know that I am 100% for anything that increases safety on cross country. Frangible fences in particular. Love them. Add more. And there’s also no arguing that frangible technology prevented more than one nasty wreck at the Olympics. It did it’s job here for sure. However, the rail on the corner at 14 came down A LOT. Like… A LOT A LOT. Eight times, I think it was? We only saw it on the coverage a few of those times, and one was really legit – Ferroleus Lat would have been splat on the turf if not for that log dropping. However, there were also at least two times it came down where it really really shouldn’t have, and those two times had a big impact on the placings. First was Sam Watson and Tullabeg Flamenco – he gave it a decent thwack with a hind foot, but certainly nowhere near enough for it to have needed to come down to prevent an accident. The other time was Michi Jung, who by all accounts (it wasn’t shown on the NBC coverage but some screenshots have been circulating on social media) didn’t have the rail fall until he was several strides clear of the fence.

Now, this jump had the new yellow MIMclips in use, which can be activated with supposedly 70% of the force of the traditional red ones. There was an oxer near the beginning of the course that was using the red ones and that thing got absolutely WHALLOPED all day, yet I never saw it fall.

The bummer comes in the fact that there’s no room for removal of these penalties within the current rules. Back when this first started and the penalties were 21 for dropping a frangible, athletes were allowed to protest to have it reviewed and potentially have the penalties removed if it was deemed that the activated frangible did not prevent an accident. When it was changed to 11 this provision was removed, and now it simply states that if the fence is deformed, you get the 11. Period. Doesn’t matter how or why… rail drops = 11. My issue is that, if we now have a new clip that allows the rail to fall WAY more easily, it doesn’t seem fair to not allow potential removal. Especially with how easily we saw it fall a couple times here at Tokyo. I also think there needs to be some kind of integrity check in between horses if it does take any kind of impact. If it’s taking three (or however many) little hits that weaken it a bit each time but it’s only falling on the third teeny tiny hit, that’s a concern.

side note: Is there any more attractive horse in the world than Flamenco? I think not.

Like I said – I think the technology is greatly needed and 100% should be used, but I also think there needs to be a middle ground if we’re going to have fences that are so “light” to the touch. The last thing we want is people coming out here and picking their way around/showjumping up to every frangible fence… IMO that could be a safety issue in and of itself, not to mention totally outside of the point and purpose of the phase. I hope this is an issue that will get more traction and discussion in the coming months, and possibly some tweaks to the rule. At the end of the day I think rules should have two purposes: 1) safety/well-being 2) fairness of sport. If at all possible we should consider both of those things (which I think absolutely can be done in this case), and we saw some really unfair penalties here in Tokyo that made a big impact.

Thoughts on the eventing? Let me hear them!

Settling In

I was extremely distracted this morning with watching the Olympic eventing showjumping (oh my god what a finish) but we’ll talk about my thoughts on all that tomorrow. Since I’m now crunched for time today I figured we’d do a quick Mina update on how she’s been settling in!

she sleeps like this a lot

She’s been with me for two weeks now, and really she’s settled in quite well. She’s got some quirks, for sure, but she’s a super super sweet dog that really just wants more than anything else to be loved. She hasn’t done anything truly wrong at all – no accidents in the house, no attempted escapes, no chewing, etc. Mina does get a little overstimulated sometimes still and her ability to listen sort of goes out the window, but that’s fair. She’s been an apartment dog her whole life and coming to a farm is quite literally a whole new world.

this is as close as she’s gotten to a horse

At first she was quite horrified by the horses (she can see them out the living room window) and the neighbor’s cows (she can see them from the porch) but she doesn’t bark at them anymore, she mostly just watches them. She learned pretty quickly that she’s not allowed to duck under our yard’s fence to go into the horse pastures, thank goodness. One on one she’s definitely intimidated by them, but shows zero inclination to want to chase them or be aggressive, she mostly just goes to her default behavior when she’s worried or excited – flopping over onto her back. If she wants to stay wary of them, that’s fine by me, because a few of these horses will for sure chase her if she gets too bold.

She’s already earned a nickname, Beans, which I use much more frequently than her actual name. It started at Mina, morphed to Meens, then to Meens Beans, and now it’s pretty much just Beans or Jelly Beans or Jumping Beans (although I was astonished to find out just how many different types of beans I could think of, once I started listing them off at her one day). That’s how you know they’re officially part of the family I guess, when you rarely use their real name anymore.

When I go down to the barn in the morning to ride she dutifully sits on the couch and stares out the window, watching us do all the morning chores and rides from afar. When I walk back to the house I can see her through the window, nose pressed up against it. That whole window is just constantly covered in noseprints, it’s pretty cute. She doesn’t panic when I leave though, which is definitely nice. I was a little worried how she’d be about that having had a shelter experience times two. She just dutifully goes to the couch to wait, though.

some world class zoomies faces

She’s a pretty energetic and active dog too, she likes to go outside every few hours and chase her ball around or run zoomies around the yard, or go down to the barn with me to feed or throw hay. Her recall has gotten a lot better already, she does come when I call her (usually the first time but not always) and is better about not zooming ahead quite so much. That’s a work in progress, but I’m definitely not worried about her trying to bolt or escape. She’s more likely to chase me down than vice versa.

Really she’s proving to be a great dog so far, and having her here has definitely helped me cope with the back to back losses of Stewie and Quinn. She makes me laugh every day, that’s for sure.

Foal Friday: Get Rowdy

Last week’s Foal Friday was all about Obi and Patrick’s relationship, which is largely centered around their games of Bitey Face. Colts just gotta colt, and biting each other is what they do best. While those Bitey Face games are about the limit of Patrick’s rambunctiousness, it’s certainly not the only thing Obi is interested in. It took him a little while to come out of his shell, but I think Obi is now making up for it, because he is one rowdy and bold little dude. Of course, Pippa and Patrick (who are both fairly dignified) aren’t that interested in taking part in all of his games. You know who’s always up for a little chaos and mayhem though?

that’s what ponies are for

Mostly they chase each other around a lot, because that’s Teddy’s most favorite activity in the world. Nobody tell her she isn’t a racehorse.

She’s like Obi’s very own personal trainer, which is probably a good thing because, uh… he’s kind of a chub.

In between all the zoomies (and there are A LOT of zoomies) they also tend to have a sixth sense for finding trouble. Largely, I think, because Teddy’s pony DNA works like a GPS tracking system for Trouble, and she’s always drawn right to it. Obi feeds off of Teddy’s boldness and curiousity, for sure, and I think she’s helped him blossom and be more confident.

the sprinklers always, 100%, without fail, end up in their mouths

Admittedly every once in a while Obi forgets his place and brings his chompers to the zoomies party…

Stormie does NOT approve of her child being nommed

Luckily Teddy is pretty forgiving, and she usually just reprimands him by taking him for another few laps of the pasture. She’s already figured out that tired colts are better colts. Who run the world? Pony mares.

Happy Friday everyone!

It’s in the Blood: Tokyo Olympics

Admittedly I always have mixed feelings about the Olympics when it comes to eventing, mostly because it isn’t the top level of our sport. Indeed, most of the horses and a large portion of the riders in the field have never contested a 5*. BUT, there’s definitely an aspect to it that is special, like getting to see more diversity than we usually do in these top level competitions – so many different countries, different people, and a slightly more diverse field of horses as well (we don’t often see horses bred in Russia or Spain or Poland!). So let’s look a little more closely at the horses in the 2021 Tokyo field, shall we?

Before we start, to clarify: these stats include only the 3 starting horses for each team and the starting individuals, not any of the reserves, except for a couple brief mentions where I will make it clear that it’s a reserve horse that I’m talking about. Basically, if it has a dressage ride time, it’s included in these statements, if it doesn’t, it’s not. (note: I have updated to reflect the last minute changes to Team Australia and Team Ireland)

Alright, let’s roll.

Let’s start off easy: of all the entered horses, more than half of the field was born in one of these three countries: Germany, France, or Ireland. 16 horses in the field were bred in Germany, 15 were bred in France, and 11 were bred in Ireland (8 registered ISH, 2 registered SHBGB, one TB). Of note: out of the 8 registered as Irish Sporthorse, 2 are of traditional ISH breeding – the rest are part or full continental WB (usually Holsteiner or Selle Francais).

We are used to seeing at least a handful of full thoroughbreds at any top level event, but in Tokyo there is only one lone full TB in the field, Glenfly, who is an Irish-bred thoroughbred that competed unsuccessfully in national hunt races. However, even with only one full thoroughbred there is still a lot of blood present in this field. There are 4 horses by a full TB stallion (these stallions are Ostermond xx, Presenting xx, Albaran xx, and Seigneur D’alleray xx) and 5 horses out of a full TB mare. Additionally there is also a lot of French AngloArab blood present, with one horse registered AA, 1 horse by full french AA sire, and 4 out of full AA mare.

Source de la Faye, French AA by Tresor du Renom X out of a mare by Veganum X

The average blood percentage among all the entrants (again: calculating only the starters, not the reserves, and tossing out the handful of horses that have an incomplete pedigree) is 55%. The horse with the lowest blood percentage comes in at 22%, with the highest being 100%. If we toss the full TB, the next highest is 90%. This average is pretty on par with what we see at most 4* and 5* level events.

Moving on to the sire’s side of things, the most represented sire is Holsteiner stallion Contender, who is seen within the first 3 generations of 7 horses, 3 via his son Contendro. Selle Francais stallion Diamant de Semilly is next up, being the sire of 2 and the sire’s sire of 2 more. Selle Francais (but 82% blood) stallion Jaguar Mail has three direct offspring in the field (one out of a full AA mare, one out of a high blood British mare, and one out of a low blood dressage mare). Three more stallions are represented by 2 direct offspring each: Selle Francais stallion Mr. Blue, Rheinlander dressage stallion Fidertanz, and Trakehner stallion Windfall. Two horses are by Contendro out of a Heraldik xx mare, and another is by Contender (Contendro’s sire) out of a Heraldik xx mare.

Diamant de Semilly – ICSI for horses
Diamant de Semilly, best known as a massively successful jumper sire

On the dam’s side of the pedigree, the most represented damsires are Heraldik xx (3 horses) and Rock King (3 horses). One mare, Rock Me Baby (by Rock King out of a Shaab xx mare), has two offspring at Toyko: Balham Mist by Mill Law on the Swedish team, and Colorado Blue by Jaguar Mail for Team Ireland. Also worth noting that one of the mares competing, the aforementioned Source de la Faye, already has an offspring competing at FEI level (Ultrasource del Cerro). He’s a 7yo currently competing at 2* level, and he completed Lion d’Angers last year, following in his mother’s footsteps.

Speaking of Lion d’Angers (how’s that for a segue) we have a LOT of horses in the field that came up through the FEI Young Horse classes. 55% of the horses in the field competed in these classes (which are 6yo 2* or 7yo 3*) on their rise up the levels. Even more impressively, 42% of the horses in the field competed at the Young Horse World Championships at Lion d’Angers at least once. Their success at that venue ranged from podium finishes to eliminated, but they did qualify and compete there.

James Avery NZL Vitali Mondial du Lyon cross 2017 S. Baily
a young Vitali competing at Lion

Looking inward at our own US horses, two of them (if we count our reserve) competed in the USEA Young Event Horse program. Tsetserleg did one YEH class as a 5yo, scoring 79. Mai Baum did one YEH4 class, scoring 74, and one YEH5 class, scoring 73. Needless to say, neither of them took the YEH world by storm and neither made an appearance at Championships.

Trak lovers (there are always a handful of you and you know who you are) there are 3 Trakehners in the field for you. Or really four, if you count the one that is registered Westphalian but is actually by a TB stallion out of a full Trak mare (this is why we look at the pedigree, people, not the “breed”! Thanks for coming to my TED talk). Two of these Traks were bred in the USA and both are by Windfall – Vandiver (out of a TB x Trak mare) and Tsetserleg (out of a Trak mare).

While the overwhelming majority of the field comes from Holsteiner and/or Selle Francais jumper lines, there are a few traditionally dressage-oriented sires with some representation as well. On the sire’s side of the pedigree we see: De Niro (grandsire of 1), Sandro Hit (grandsire of 1), and Fidertanz (sire of 2). On the dam’s side we see each of these stallions in one horse each: Wolkentanz, Royal Dance, and Donnerhall.

Fidertanz (Fidermark x Ravallo)

As for a few fun little random facts:

  • fischerchipmunk is one of 7 full siblings. He’s by far the most successful sibling, one other has evented to 3*, and one has showjumped to 1.35m.
  • Tullabeg Flamenco has two full siblings, both eventing at FEI level – one at 2* and one at 3*.
  • Totem de Brecey’s dam also produced 5 successful showjumpers who competed from 1.40m to 1.60m.
  • Diachello, Z, and Fuiloda G all had dams that showjumped successfully in addition to being broodmares.
  • One rider, Lara de Liedekerke of Belgium, is on a homebred horse. Alpaga D’arville is by Wonder Boy out of a full TB mare.
Alpaga (front) being ponied from Lara’s 2014 WEG partner Ducati when we visited her farm in Belgium in 2015

Let the games begin! Who are your favorites?

WW: Better Late Than Never

Did I pay a rush fee to get Presto’s Chatt photos in time to post them in the recaps? Yes. Did they actually show up in time? No. Am I gonna dedicate a whole post to them because now I’ve gotta get my money’s worth? Absolutely. Sorry not sorry. I’m sad that they didn’t get any dressage pics to memorialize his 23 score, but oh well. His first recognized Novice!

locked on to the jump after the water
this is def not a textbook photo but he reminds me so much of a young Mama’s Magic Way here

I think we’ve got ourselves a real baby event horse! He’s so game and I love that you can see it in his pictures.

Chatt ’21: The Rest of the Story

I already did all the Chatt recaps of the actual horse show parts, but I feel like it deserves and needs one more little wrap-up post. Partly because it was a whole week, and a lot happened, but mostly because it was legit the most fun I’ve had a show in a long time. It was such a relaxed, chill, easy-going show, no drama, everybody happy, nobody on anybody’s nerves or complaining… it was lovely.

busy but fun

First and foremost, we figured out that Lex and Presto are pretty much kindred spirits. Both of them are young, cheeky, busy horses with an appetite for destruction, and I’m a little worried at what happens when they officially become friends and start to travel together. They weren’t even stabled next to each other but I swear the second they made eye contact they recognized what the other was deep down in their soul, and neighed at each other several times throughout the course of the weekend. Seeing them side by side in the warmup was quite hilarious too – one short and round little ball of Lex and one tall and skinny noodle of Presto. How will Hillary and I ever show together with those two monkeys in tow? Pray for us.

guess which is which lol

I also got to catch up with some people that I hadn’t seen in a while – Beka came to visit one day (gosh haven’t seen her in years but all the OG bloggers will remember her!)

Beka, Presto, Me, Hillary

and my brother, his wife, and my nephew came out one afternoon too. I stayed with them one night when we were there since they only live about half an hour away, and it was good to catch up. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen them. It was also kind of hilarious watching them meet Presto, as it always is with non-horse people. They got to help pull his braids out and give him carrots so they’re basically professional grooms now.

I also made BFF’s with Megan’s 6yo Prelim mare, Tenny (or as Tenny told me she’d rather be called – Tennifer). She’s known for being a little emotionally sensitive and very picky about things, but we legit bonded every morning when I was cleaning stalls. I was already pretty obsessed with her before Chatt (who wouldn’t be, she’s freaking stunning) but now she likes me back. And she doesn’t like anyone very much, so I feel special. Megan said I have to come to all of her shows to be Tenny’s emotional support animal, which is a job title I’d happily assume. Also trying to convince her that we need some Tenny embryos next year. I already have a few stallions picked out (naturally).

TENNIFER, you beautiful beast

Aside from getting to watch Presto go, seeing Hillary and Lex boss up together was also a major highlight. Things are really clicking for them, and it’s fun having a front row seat. I’ve said this before, but at Chatt in particular they really owned it and I’m just so excited for her. He’s such a cool little horse and she’s already learned so much in such a short period of time. I’ve never seen her ride better. And they made the BN look so easy both weeks that they’re very clearly ready to move on to Novice (both Karl Slezak, who coached her week 1, and Megan agreed on that one). I’m just delighted to see her with such a nice horse and a promising partnership. The sky is the limit.

Did we pause while packing up the trailer to make a TikTok? Maybe.

As I mentioned yesterday the trip also had it’s practical purposes, like getting to try on some more breeches, and I found a pair that I really like. I was able to figure out that I’m a 28 in most brands but for Horze the 26’s fit better. I liked the Ariat Trifactors (although I wish they were a smidge higher rise) but they only had a teal color in my size so I passed on that. I ended up with a pair of navy Horze Aubrey breeches that have silver piping and the deepest freakin pockets I’ve ever seen in my life. For real you could put a 6 month old baby in there (if you were so inclined). They’re super comfy and I like the fabric, although of course they only come in white, navy, and a very hideous shade of puke green. Kind of a bummer because I like them a lot, especially for the price, and would def buy them in more colors if they made more that I liked. But hey, at least I got to try on more breeches and come home with a pair. And I bought literally nothing else while we were there so that’s a banner achievement in and of itself, considering all the temptation (please god get the custom boot trailer the heck away from me, I’m being attacked).

I also got to pick up my long awaited and much anticipated custom breastplate that I’m super excited about. It’s kinda one of the hybrid collar type ones (like bridge meets polo?) that shapes around the neck and has a strap that goes back to the billets, but nothing between the front legs. A shoulder freedom breastcollar sort of similar to the Fairfax. A friend of mine started doing leatherwork as a hobby and I bugged her forever to try to make something like this, and she totally nailed it. It’s got tons of adjustability plus I got to pick my colors for everything – main leather, padding, hardware, and stitching. Of course I’m boring and got havana brown with navy padding, navy stitching, and stainless hardware. Was SUPER tempted to go with the rainbow hardware though, I’ll admit. It’s very classy and pretty though and fits Presto great, and I’m excited to have one of the first ones made and sold. There’s already a long line to buy them I think! He got to wear it all weekend and it worked great, plus I love how it looks. I dunno if the horses really care much about that strap between their legs or over their shoulder, but it looks more comfortable to me at least.

Most of all though, we just plain had a good freakin time at Chatt. Megan and her mom are great, super nice and thoughtful and always very appreciative to have help, which I’m equally happy to provide. We sweated our asses off and were very busy, but it still never felt at all stressful or negative in the least. Everyone helped everyone and supported each other genuinely. Plus there was pizza and Mexican food… what more does a girl need from a horse showcation? I hope there are many more shows just like this one in our future.

Up to Speed

Between all the Chatt recap posts (of which I still actually have one left that I need to finish) and dog drama, it’s been a while since I did a general update post on here. Granted, not all that much has been happening aside from Chatt and then dog drama. The only things I really have left on that front are 1) Mina continues to settle in well and we love her

And 2) I got a little memorial plaque thingy to go on Stewie’s gravesite under his tree, which helps bring a little closure I think. Now that it’s been a week and a half without him (geez, time flies) it’s feeling less raw, and having Mina to focus on has helped a lot. I went and put his plaque on his grave yesterday morning, and he’s nestled right in the corner of the jump field, which is freshly mowed and has a new course set now. He’s got the best seat in the house.

I also managed to watch a little bit of the dressage at the Olympics this weekend. Admittedly I can’t just sit there and watch hours of dressage but I watched a handful of rides, and was really impressed with Sabine and Sanceo. I don’t keep up with dressage really at all, at any level, so this is the first I’ve seen of her. What a great pair though, so lovely to watch. I also caught some of Charlotte and Carl.

I swear I’ll watch more when we get to the Freestyles. That holds my (very short) attention span a bit better.

There was of course some drama on social media right out of the gate, with The Horse Magazine posting criticism of Edward Gal’s riding and his team’s orange shadbellies. That kind of exploded. I’m sure there will be more Olympic drama yet to come, and indeed I was greeted with some first thing this morning when I woke up to the news that Tom Carlile withdrew Birmane. Noooooooooo. She’s one of my favorites and was the cornerstone of my team on Eventing Manager, dang it. It took me days to even settle on my team in the first place. I got mad and chucked my entire team and will start again as soon as I have the brainpower to do so.

While I didn’t watch a lot of the Olympic dressage, I did watch a lot of the Rebecca Farm live stream. Mostly to stalk Mickey, because if stalking Mighty Magic offspring was a sport I’d be the world #1.

my riding is questionable but my stalking is top notch

Mickey led the 4*S from start to finish and seemed to have a fantastic time romping around the XC. He’s such a nice horse for only 9 years old, and it’s fun to have two young Mighty Magics (Mickey and then 10yo Mamas Magic Way aka Mason) doing so well in the US and primed for much more to come. I spent most of the live stream looking up pedigrees, as one does, even though I probably should have been spending my time looking up the Olympic eventing horses pedigrees to prepare for my In The Blood post that’s coming later this week. It’s a work in progress. So many pedigrees, so little time.

I’m obsessed with the little weiner jump

And of course as it does every year the Rebecca live stream mostly just made me sit here and scheme about how I could possibly justify trying to make the trek up there one of these years. It’s totally a bucket list event for me but it’s also REALLY FREAKING FAR (30+ hours each way, but who’s counting) so that’s a tough one. I wish they ran two weeks back to back, at least then you’d get a little more “bang for your buck” out of such a long drive. Oh well. Someday.

In other eventing news, Presto is keeping his summer eventing train rolling and is entered for River Glen in a couple weeks.

Megan has a training camp thing in Arkansas this week anyway, which is kind of partway to River Glen. Her string is all going to camp and then will head over to Tennessee next week from there. If nothing else this boy is definitely learning all about traveling this year, and being part of a string of horses rather than being individually catered to. It’s good life experience. Presto already got his AEC qualifying placing by finishing second at Chatt, so assuming he gets his 3rd and final USEA completion at River Glen he’ll round out all of his qualifying requirements, and then he can go to AEC. The chance to experience that kind of atmosphere would be great, and I think he’d really eat up a Championship course at KHP. That’s our new “redirect” plan instead of YEH Championships. We’ll see how River Glen goes!

As for Henry, I’ve been able to keep him in more work so far this summer since our temps have been so mild (well, upper 80’s low 90’s is mild compared to our normal 110 anyway). It’s still a bit hot to be hauling him much but he’s getting ridden plenty at home and I haven’t had to dial back the intensity too much. Of course, I think our luck with the mild summer is about to run out and we’ll be getting closer to triple digits, but still, I feel like we got two “free” months and the grass is still quite green for the end of July in Texas, so I won’t complain. Oh, and I got Henry’s pics from our little jumper show we did… he’s too precious for words. Chonky little dolphin.

I just love heem so much

I’m still on the lookout for some green Horze Grand Prix breeches if anyone finds them in stock anywhere in the US. I need a 26. I’m beyond sad that everyone is sold out, those are still my favorite color breeches ever. Le sigh. I did find a new pair while I was at Chatt that fit pretty well (sadly not green) so I at least have one pair of breeches that fits. You know what doesn’t fit though? My everyday Mountain Horse tall boots.

They were a little big to start with and now they’re a lot big. They’re still functional though, aside from some bunching. We’ll see how long I can ride it out because the thought of buying new everyday boots has less than zero appeal right now.

I think that’s pretty much everything else that’s been going on though, aside from a few bigger things that are still in the works and aren’t ready to be discussed yet. We’ll get there eventually!

Foal Friday: Bromance

I anticipated that having two full siblings among the group of babies this year would be extra fun, and so far it certainly has been.

these two kids

Not just for the sake of comparing and contrasting but also because watching Obi and Patrick interact is just plain entertaining. They have a lot of differences but one thing they both love is some good old-fashioned colt tomfoolery, and they seem to take great enjoyment in their rough and tumble sibling antics. They are each other’s playmate of choice, for sure.

Obi actually spends a lot of time with Teddy – they both seem to really love a game of tag – but once he’s ready for some down and dirty scrappiness, he’ll always go seek out Patticakes.

I’M COMING FOR YOU PATRICK
wait what’s this
oh yeah, whoops, HERE I COME NOW

It’s funny because when he was a newborn Patrick was quite playful and rowdy, and now he’s kind of settled into a bit of a quieter more serious and more mature role, similar to Pippa.

very mature, obviously

Obi on the other hand was quite sensitive and careful at first, and now he’s become rowdy and is constantly putting himself in the middle of everything. Thus Obi tends to be the instigator of the Patrick-Obi antics, most of the time.

shhhh don’t tell him I’m behind him

Of course, Patrick’s no fool. He might not start it most of the time but he is certainly a seasoned warrior by this point, older and taller than Obi. He knows all the best tricks.

you wait for him to get distracted…
by the time he realizes what’s happening it’ll be too late
ALLIGATOR CHOMP

If that particular move doesn’t get the results he’s after, he’s got plenty more up his sleeve.

when in doubt, go for the legs

Or, if worse comes to worst, you can always just smash your butt into your opponent (Sadie’s personal favorite) like a wrecking ball and knock him out of your way.

I don’t think Obi ever really “wins” per se, but they both seem perfectly content with their sparring roles, and at the end of the day they’re always still brothers and BFF’s.

Happy Friday!