Vacation is over

I’m not sure how a regular work week feels 10 times as long as a vacation week, but it seems like I’ve just blinked and boom the week is gone. Most of you will probably not find our trip particularly entertaining (like one of those awful vacation slide shows someone makes you watch, ugh) so I’ll keep it quick and dirty.

We road tripped with the dogs and the mountain bikes to Northern Arkansas. I have family up there and spent many summers/holidays there as a kid, but SO had never been. No one ever believes me when I say how beautiful it is, but trust me… it’s a “must visit” at some point in your life if you’re at all into the outdoors.

We had planned to mountain bike and hike on Tuesday but we woke up to rain and decided to flip-flop our plans instead. So we went into town (Mountain View) and dinked around all the cool shops there, and found lots of food. We spent the afternoon wandering around the backroads with the dogs (who thought Arkansas was AWESOME, so many squirrels). On our walk we came upon these two little Appys in a field, who came running when they saw us, so I got a little pony time.

Wednesday we woke up to perfect mountain biking weather – 45 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. The trails were beautiful.

I wish I could say that we had an awesome long ride and everything went as planned, but… well… what was supposed to be a 12 mile loop turned into a 3.9 mile ride and 4.1 mile walk for me. I gashed the hell out of my rear tire to the point where our attempts to fix it were unsuccessful, and there was no “bail out” point on the loop for quite a ways. You know what’s not fun? Walking really far in bike shoes, dragging your bike along with you, especially on trails with a lot of overgrowth and thorns. Ah well, it wouldn’t be a bike adventure if I wasn’t bleeding. Any recommendations for getting a crapton of burrs out of lycra???


Not to worry, we eased our sorrows with the best malts on the planet

Then spent the afternoon adventuring with the dogs again before capping it off with a catfish dinner and a whole lot of back porch sittin and reading. Of course, when I got up the next morning I felt like I’d gotten run over by a Mack truck, but whatever.

Another fun note – on the drive home we were passing through one little town after another and as we drove into Quitman, AR I said “Hey this is the town Henry came from”. Then I noticed a little farm on the left with some jumps in the ring and said “Hey look they have jumps!” then a second later we passed the sign out front and wouldn’t you know – that’s the farm Henry came from! Small world. I bought him sight unseen so I’ve never been there. I casually said we should stop by but I think SO sensed DANGER ZONE, TOO MUCH MONEY ALREADY SPENT HERE and I’m pretty sure I felt him speed up as he pretended not to hear me.

All in all, a fun vacation and I’ve got yet another Arkansas convert on my hands. We’ll be back again some day (with better bike equipment). Until then, it’s back to the real world. We’ve got a Halloween party at our house tonight that I’ve done absolutely nothing to prepare for yet, then tomorrow I’m jump judging at an event a couple hours away, so somehow I’ve managed to book myself solid for the rest of my vacation.

Hope everyone had a good week, I’ve got to catch up on everything I missed while I was gone!


Weekend recap: and we’re off!

As I type this post we’re currently on the road on the way to Arkansas for vacation. A few days of mountain biking and hiking with the dogs awaits! I know for sure I won’t have internet but I should have decent enough cell signal for a post or two, but be prepared for a little radio silence on my end.


This weekend was pretty awesome. Most of Saturday was spent running around getting things ready for our trip. Sunday we went XC schooling at the venue where we’re doing our first event (Nov 22-23, it’s happening!). We had a couple of not so very confidence building lessons with old trainer that we’re still recovering from, so I wasn’t sure how it’d go. Aside from a little bit of “you want me to jump off of WHAT?!?” at the big bank down of death, he was fantastic. Very bold in general and jumped a lot of Novice fences. Hopefully I’ll have pics to share sometime this week!

He’ll get a couple of trainer rides this week and a friend is riding him in a dressage lesson, so he’ll be well taken care of while I’m gone.


Hope everyone has a good week! I’ll try to keep up with everyone’s blogging as best I can.

Are you bold or conservative?

As I’ve been buying a few of the things we need for our new eventing adventure, mostly dressage stuff, I’ve been faced with a few choices. Back when I evented forever ago there weren’t a whole lot of options… black or navy coat, black velvet helmet, tan or white breeches, a plain stock tie, white saddle pad, etc etc. If you wanted to be bold you put a clincher browband on your bridle, wore gray breeches, and had piping on your saddle pad. I just don’t remember there being a whole lot of other things to choose from. Granted those were the days before there were so many online stores, lots of social media, and more liberal fashion trends.

For the most part my choices so far have been more conservative for dressage. No fancy browband, all black tack, and a plain white saddle pad. I have a couple of logo pads for xc and sj, white shirt and navy vest for me, navy bonnet for the pony. No crazy colored helmet covers or horse boots or anything like that.

I am not cute enough to get away with this outfit.

nor am I chipper enough to pull off this much yellow

I did have a little bit of fun with the colors on my coat… black with french blue lapels and white piping. The only other place I could think of to have a little bit of fun, and breathe a little life into my otherwise dreadfully boring dressage look, was my stock tie.

We’ve probably all seen the folks with cream colored stocks, pattered stocks, and satin stocks.

Some of them are a bit TOO bold for me, but I love the look of piping so I decided to spend the $5 more and have one made to coordinate with my coat. It’s a white pattered tone on tone fabric, has black piping around neck, and some blue and black piping around the loop. A little more fun than plain white but not too out there.

stock1 stock2

What do you think of having a little bit more fun with what is generally a very conservative look, like in the dressage or hunter ring? What about something “looser” like jumpers or XC? Are you a super conservative traditionalist or braver and bolder? And if you like to spice things up a bit, what do you prefer: more fun tack, more fun rider clothing, or both?

TBT: Sadie’s first show

Sadie was in the summer of her 3yo year (2010) when I took her to her first show. There was a great little benefit show a short trailer ride away that had something called Hunter Versatility. If you’ve never seen it, it’s kind of like a trail class meets really tiny jumps meets a flat class. To start you were to lead your horse in the ring and mount at the block, then there was an obstacle portion that included walking over small logs, a little bridge lined with flowers, an L of poles, a figure 8, etc then you walked across the road and jumped a couple of little x-rails and logs. Then you came back into the field for a little w/t/c flat class that also required you to back up and stand still. Maybe it was a bit of a challenge for a first show but it was super low key and laid back so I figured even if she lost her mind it wouldn’t be a big deal.

True to Sadie form she arrived, took one look around, and buried her head in her hay. I hopped on a few minutes before her class and w/t/c around the warm-up but she seemed pretty chill so we just hung out after that and waited for her class.

Hangin out getting belly scratches
In the warmup. Yes her eyes are closed. Wild baby horse.
Scrawny 3yo neck wasn’t adorable then but it’s kinda awkwardly cute now
Starting our course at the mounting block. Crookedly.
And away we go
Half circle of logs, with the scarecrow hiding on the tree. You can see the little bridge in the background.
figure 8 through the flowery pillars
Diving sideways over the scary crossrail
Our faces are on point in the halt
Pats for a good girl
Still my favorite picture of her ever

1stshow4 1stshowpro3  1stshowpro5

She won her class with an 80%. Really cool and successful first experience for a baby! I wish they still had more of these kinds of shows, it was the only time I’ve done anything like it, but what a fun change of pace from the norm.


October’s 10 questions

Yay to Viva Carlos for saving everyone from an otherwise boring, mundane Wednesday.

1. How many pairs of breeches/jods do you own? I’m actually pretty proud of myself because I’ve sold a lot lately. I’m down to just two pairs of Animo, two pairs of TS, and a pair of Aztec Diamond. That’s not to say that I don’t want more because I really really do, but we’ll go with just the 5 I have at the moment because it sounds pretty good.

The ADE obsession is real. Stop staring at my meaty cyclist thighs.

2. How many horses have you ridden? Hundreds, easily. That’s just a side effect of riding at a show/sale barn for a long time, not owning a horse for a long time, then being a working student, then buying and reselling horses.

3. How many trainers have you had? Gosh. Well there was my first one from when I started riding in Arkansas, then we moved here and I rode at the same barn for a long time but with a few different trainers at that barn. Then I moved to the East coast to be a working student with an eventer, then back here and took some dressage lessons, then rode at a h/j barn for a while, then moved to another h/j barn, then he moved to another city so I went back to the previous h/j barn, then to current barn first with the h/j trainer and now with the eventing trainer. So math says 10ish?

4. How many barns have you ridden at? Using the above: 7. Ish. There’s always the chance that I’m forgetting something.

5. What is the name of the horse you consider yourself to have the greatest bond with? Probably Sadie, since I’ve owned her since birth.

Sadie then
Sadie now. And Jezzy… I love Jez too.

6. What is your favorite show name you’ve ever encountered? Not a clue, I’m not good at remembering that stuff. But in general I like good strong simple one word names, nothing too cutesy or long.

7. What do you consider your greatest weakness or flaw in riding? I am really really hard on myself.

8. What do you consider to be your greatest strength? Riding a lot of horses has made me pretty versatile. I’m pretty soft and light so I get along with nervous and sensitive horses well, but I’m also pretty fearless and hard to intimidate so I won’t be pushed around by a naughty one.

9. Have you ever leased a horse? A couple when I was a kid: Sunny and Crystal. Then Kai a few years ago.

Monsters live under dere!

10. What is the name of the first horse you rode? Cinnamon, in 1988 (I believe?) at a friends b-day party. I will never forget it. Thanks Cinnamon for what you started!


Tack Ho Pro: Buying from overseas

Over the years I have purchased a lot of things from overseas. Everything from helmets to bridles to boots to saddles, from 6 different countries and at least a dozen different shops. I’ve gotten some really fantastic deals by doing this (my $1050 CWD, my $250 GPA Speed Air, my $110 Animo breeches, etc etc) and also been able to obtain products that are just not available to us here in the US. By now I feel pretty confident and comfortable with it and I’ve had several people ask me about it, so I figured I would share some of the things I’ve learned along the way.


Do your research

I always Google the heck out of a company before I give them my money. If there isn’t a lot of feedback to be found, or you’re still unsure, find a horsey forum in the country the shop is in and ask them. If English is not their first language and you don’t know their language, use translate tools the best you can and apologize profusely. Usually between their English and your bad translation, you can communicate well enough to find out what you need to know.


Don’t be afraid to ask questions

When in doubt, ask the shop. It’s always better to ask too many questions than not ask enough and end up disappointed. If they aren’t in an English speaking country it’s still pretty likely that they have someone on staff who can communicate with you. Sizing questions, color questions, detail questions: ask! Just be polite about it and keep your communications short, sweet, and to the point – especially if English is not their first language. If you find something on a website that doesn’t say anything about shipping to the US, never be afraid to contact them and ask. I’ve gotten several things from shops that do not advertise as offering international shipping.


Be sensible about sizing

It’s really hard to guess sizing on things, so always take as many steps as possible to feel confident in your choice. Be it a bridle, or boots, or a jacket, or breeches… if you’re a creative Googler you should be able to find some kind of information about how sizing runs. If you’re really lucky/persistent you might even be able to have the shop get some exact measurements for you, or find someone else who has the item (again – forums are handy for this) and would be willing to measure. Never ever blindly trust a size chart. You also need to really know your own measurements – be it for your horse or yourself. Not what they were a couple years ago, or a couple months ago, but today. Measure, measure, measure. Keep in mind: they use centimeters.


Save money where you can

Just like US tack shops, a lot of overseas shops offer regular sales and coupon codes to people who sign up for email notifications. I’m constantly getting 20% coupon codes from Divoza, sale codes for up to 50% off from Selwood, emails about upcoming exclusive sales, and other things like that. It’s up to your own judgement as to whether or not it’s worth the occasional email clutter and annoyance of sorting through these offers, but they’ve saved me quite a bit of money in the past so to me they’re absolutely worth signing up for. Many times they’re good enough to offset the higher shipping charges, which are usually between $20-30 for regular packages and $150-200 for large items like saddles.


Know what you’re paying for

A lot of European tack shops already have VAT (value added tax) included in their pricing. US buyers are exempt from that tax, which is usually somewhere around 20%. If the website is set up well for international customers, most of the time they will have a way for you to select your country and prices will change according. Many times, however, they do not. And sometimes their shopping cart will let you go all the way through payment without taking away the VAT, so if you don’t know you’re exempt from it you may end up paying it without realizing that you didn’t have to. If you see that VAT is included in the pricing, contact the company and make sure that you aren’t paying it. Always read the fine print on the website, read through the FAQ, and read through the shipping policies. If the website doesn’t have a USD currency converter built in, open in another window and use it to figure out your costs. Not all of Europe uses the Euro! Know your currency. Also be aware that sometimes you will have to pay a duty on items. This has only happened to me when the item was sent via FedEx, and the charges are reasonable, but if you’re not expecting it then it can be a bit of a bummer.


Choose your payment method wisely

Some credit card companies charge a conversion fee when paying in a different currency. Make sure you educate yourself before selecting how you want to pay. You also want to make sure that you’re very confident that you will have some protection with the method you choose, just in case things do go awry and you’re in the position of having to get your money back. I always use Paypal whenever I can, because they don’t charge me a conversion fee and because I’m comfortable with their buyer protection. Use whatever works best for your needs.


Have realistic expectations

I’ve had things take everywhere from 2 days to 6 weeks to get to my door. If you’re in a real time crunch, buying overseas is probably not the way to go. Also keep in mind that with most carriers, international packages require a signature in order to be delivered. Stay on top of this as much as you can. I once had a postman forget to leave a delivery notification on my door and my package just sat at the post office for a couple weeks, unbeknownst to me. It was one day away from being returned to sender when I finally realized I should call the post office and ask if they had my package. Also remember to take into account the time differences for overseas companies, holidays they might have that we do not, etc.


For the most part I’ve been really pleased with all of my international purchases. I’ve never been ripped off and, barring one item, I’ve been very pleased with all the things I’ve gotten. I’ve never had a problem with anything not fitting. Overall I would say my success rate is as good as if not better than domestic purchases, because I’m generally a lot more careful and take the time to research more. As long as you’re intelligent and exercise good common sense, buying from overseas can be a really great way to get nice stuff at a decent price. Don’t be scared, just use your noggin!


Weekend recap: finding the balance

I have to admit that I’m one of those people that tends to get so one-tracked that sometimes I forget anything else exists. This weekend I took some time to hang out with the SO, relax, and let my mind go elsewhere.  Some delicious blackberry pear cider helped it on it’s journey.


We were also dog sitting for SO’s sister. Her dogs are hilarious, but having 4 dogs in this house (a Chiweenie, a JRT mix, a Pit mix, and a GSD mix) was a lot. They provided us with a lot of entertainment though.

Chiweenie side eye. The poster in the background is quite appropriate.

I did still manage to ride Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and mostly body clip Henry. He’s not a big fan of having his legs and belly done so we’ll probably have to have the vet come give him sleepy juice for me to finish. In the mean time he looks a little goofy.

Patchwork Pony don’t care

My first jumping lesson with my new trainer was unfortunately postponed, but hopefully it’ll happen sometime this week instead. I did get to try on Henry’s new Magyk Equipe XC boots and they fit great. Many thanks to Riding Warehouse for the super fast shipping… as usual, a great experience. Love those guys! And I couldn’t resist PS of Sweden’s awesome weekend sale on their quarter sheet. It’s navy, it’s wool, it’s fancy, and it’s $60 with shipping? I never stood a chance…


One of these days I’ll have pictures or video of me actually on my horse. I swear it really does happen.

This post needs more tongue

It’s New Stuff Day!

Also known as pretty much the best day ever.

My new Ogilvy that I bought myself for my birthday has finally arrived (because addiction means never having just one). This one has a much more dirt friendly color scheme… no light colors to show dirt and make me crazy. Greige with navy trim and chocolate piping.


Now the pretty navy one with white and baby blue trim can be reserved for special occasions.

And also my Fauxgilvy (or so I have dubbed it) shipped today too. I needed a half pad that fit under my dressage saddle, but didn’t really want to buy a THIRD Ogilvy, so I found a seller on Etsy that makes a similar style pad. It won’t get used nearly as much so hopefully it’ll work for a while until I am rich enough ready for another Ogilvy. The cool thing about this one is that it’s reversible, so one side is all black (for schooling) and the other side is white with black trim and french blue piping (for show – to match my coat). Fingers crossed it’s decent!


My stirrup leathers came yesterday for my dressage saddle so I’m finally complete on dressage accessories. Thank goodness because it was getting really old having to switch my stirrups and leathers back and forth between saddles. AND, my Majyk Equipe XC boots should arrive today. It’s like Christmas (albeit not as fun because I had to pay for everything) around here this week.

I think we (dare I say it?) are pretty much fully equipped for our new venture. For now. Anyone wanna buy me an air vest? Cuz I ain’t got no more monies…



The end is nigh

I can only assume that the Apocalypse is coming.

Because I had a dressage lesson on Tuesday night.

And I didn’t hate it.

In fact… it was almost… enjoyable.


Well not quite THAT enjoyable, but still… I didn’t hate it, and that scares me. A lot.

dressage pony is ready to fancy prance

Also, I officially joined USEA. It’s happening.


I’ve had the chance to use the PS of Sweden bridle a bit more this week and I’m really digging it. I’ve finally gotten everything adjusted and configured exactly how I want it. The noseband snap already has me ruined for life… I keep trying to snap the nosebands on my other bridles now and feel sorely disappointed when I realize they don’t have one. However, I’m already really tired of having to switch my bit back and forth between bridles so if you have a Nathe or HS Duo bit for sale let me know!

He looks so thrilled because I was making him late for dinner



I have made zero progress on 2pointober. I haven’t even worked on it, aside from our usual conditioning rides which I mostly do in 2point anyway. Is there an award for Least Improved? I might even backslide off my baseline time considering I’ll be out of town the whole last week of the month…