First – thanks to Sprinkler Bandit for asking me to be in her awesome Ammy Hour series! Such a cool idea. If you’re feeling particularly masochistic today, you can go read all about me here.
Otherwise it’s been kind of a boring week for me. I had a jumping lesson on Wednesday night in lovely 60 degree weather that went pretty well, and then tried to do a dressage ride yesterday. It was really cold (38) and I was thinking that if all these other bloggers can talk about riding in 15 and 20 degree weather, surely I could suck it up and handle the upper 30’s. It was also really windy and honestly, it was misery. Henry felt awful, I felt awful, and the whole experience in general was awful. How do you northerners do this? I do not get it. I’m opting out today and bowing down to all those who are obviously tougher than I.
Otherwise I’m just getting all my stuff ready to leave for Europe on Monday. So excited! I think and hope I’ve gotten everything that I need, all I have left to do is pack. It’s actually warmer there today than it is here…
And yes, I might have already had the tack shop in Paris put something on hold for me to pick up while I’m there. International tack ho.
In my ramblings the other day about entering horse shows, the cost difference between h/j and eventing came up. I am always kind of floored by how affordable eventing is, having come from jumperland. ***Before I even get started I’m going to insert the disclaimer of “I know it varies for everyone, depending on your personal circumstances” so instead of telling me I’m wrong (because for mine I’m not) tell me how it’s different for you.***
For me personally there’s a huge difference between the cost of a USEF recognized horse trial and an A rated h/j show, but when I say that to eventers they tend to look at me as if I’ve grown a second head. Don’t get me wrong, neither sport is cheap. Nothing about horses in general is ever cheap. But as far as competing goes, in my circumstances, eventing wins the best value award.
Part of it is that eventing is a little more of a no-fuss, no-frills, independent type of sport. They don’t tend to set up elaborate mini-villages with drapes and tables and foliage at shows, they don’t tend to have grooms that you’re paying per day, and they definitely tend to not have a trainer with them every step of the way during a competition. In eventing your trainer cannot help you once you’re in the ring, and there are rules about warm-up and “outside assistance” that foster a you’re-on-your-own feeling at shows. In fact, a lot of them roll their trusty rusty Stanley plastic trunks into their stall spaces, set up their tack hooks on the outside (tack stalls and grooming stalls, pffft), and warm themselves up. It’s pretty darn rare to hear the words “I have to wait for my trainer” come out of an eventer. I’m not saying that makes them better (because god knows some of them could definitely use a trainer), it’s really just an entirely different mindset. They also seem a lot more likely to camp out – I have never in my life heard of anyone legit camping at a h/j show, but no one would bat an eye at a tent at an event. Note: I am not one of those people, I like having a shower and WiFi. They’re also more likely to haul themselves places (therefore making it easier to be so DIY when you’re not trainer-dependent for transportation) which in turn makes it easier for a sad non-trailer-owning person like me to split gas and bum a pretty cheap ride instead of paying a trainer up to $1/mile. So I pulled out some old show bills from my h/j days, one from an A show and one from a local level show, plugged those costs in, then put my eventing costs for similar level competitions next to them, for the sake of comparison.
First lets look at schooling shows, or non-USEF recognized shows:
And then a recognized event and rated h/j show:
A few explanations of my numbers: for the hotel cost I used a flat rate across the board of $50 per night. Obviously if the show is longer it requires more nights in a hotel. Usually I try to share a room with someone so that’s a fairly accurate guess, and in an effort to make it fair I stuck to a standard $50/night rate for all shows. There aren’t a lot of shows close enough to Austin to make it just a day trip, so hotel is almost always a factor. Trailering fees look different because when I was showing h/j I never had the option of tagging along with someone who had their own trailer, therefore I had to pay whatever the trainer charged. Almost all of my eventing friends have their own rigs so it’s a definite cost saver. Also at h/j shows paying a per diem trainer fee wasn’t really negotiable, that’s just how it was done. At events I can pick and choose which days I want trainer assistance (if any). For the sake of fair comparison I kept the trainer fee in the events, even if I wouldn’t necessarily be paying it. All other fees are show fees and therefore concrete, although obviously some events/shows are cheaper or more expensive than others. The ones I chose here for the recognized/rated columns are both what I would call toward the upper end of average, cost wise, for this area.
I also didn’t include food costs since that varies, or gas if I drove myself, but I did include a line to mention whether or not some meals/free food are provided by the show to competitors. To me that’s a money saving perk. Feed me.
The potential to win back money exists at some shows too, and is worth considering. Granted I have never won back enough money at any show to really make much of a dent, so to me it’s not much of a draw, but to others it is. What I do think is pretty interesting, and worth noting when looking at comparisons like this, is that events are largely run by volunteers. IMO that helps keep the costs down. On one hand it seems like it would require more manpower in the way of XC jump judges, bit check, etc. But when you consider that most h/j shows are running several rings at a time (and all that that entails) I would bet that the number of people needed comes pretty close to equaling out.
As you can see, for me, the savings is pretty substantial. I can do 5 recognized horse trials for what it would cost me to do 2 A rated h/j shows. The same ratio applies on the schooling side – I could do 5 unrecognized events for what it would cost me to do 2 schooling h/j shows. My reality? It’s 2.5x more expensive to show my horse as a jumper than as an eventer.
Honestly it seems like no matter what the cost is, everyone will always think it’s too much. That’s human nature I guess. Even in triathlon, where entry fees are generally from $70-120ish per race, they constantly lament about how expensive it is while I just laugh to myself. At least at the end of a triathlon you almost always get a medal and cookies… I can’t even imagine how delighted I would be if someone gave me a medal and cookies every time I came out of the ring at a show.
I would be interested in hearing what the costs of h/j vs eventing and rated/recognized vs schooling are like for other people! I’m jealous of those who are are only a short drive away from your show venues and don’t have to pay stall/hotel all the time… makes me miss Maryland.
Something interesting happened on facebook the other night when someone tagged me in a comment on a photo. It was interesting because it was MY photo that I took of my friend’s young stallion Diabolo D’Esquelmes a few summers ago here in Texas. Only problem? It was posted by someone I don’t know, and the caption said that it was her young horse Winston. Umm… no.
This really begs the question: what the hell??? Perusing this person’s page and doing a little sleuthing uncovers that many of their photos are stolen.
I really wonder why the heck anyone would do this. This is definitely not a kid playing some kind of internet game because the page can be traced back to a real life adult woman. Are you just inventing a fake internet life for attention? Or are you trying to do something worse and more fraudulent by creating a fake business with a fake reputation and fake credentials? And really – do you think no one will notice? The Global Sporthorses page has almost 2500 likes – what’s going on here?
In case there’s any doubt, here’s more pics I took of DD that day
And pictures of his buddies, Cartier R and Jus D’o. Obviously the same jump and the same venue.
I’m not a photographer, so I don’t mind people using my pictures elsewhere. These are on facebook and have been re-facebooked several times for legit reasons, plus shown up in articles and blog posts. What I do mind is people taking them and using them for fraudulent purposes, lying to people, and making themselves look like jerks on the internet. Someone explain this to me because I don’t get it.
It’s finally time! Opening date for what will be my first event of the season has arrived, so my entry and my check went in the mail first thing.
It’s still amazing to me how cheap recognized USEA events are compared to h/j shows. It’s pretty much the same (a little bit cheaper really) as what I’d spend going to a 2 day local unrated h/j show. Ha! It’s still not cheap, but coming from jumperland I have to admit to feeling almost gleeful when I write the check… it feels like I’m getting a great deal considering it’s half the price of an average A show. One day I should put all the numbers out there for everyone to marvel at, I still have old bills from A shows and some local h/j shows floating around in my trunk. I don’t think eventers know how good they’ve got it in comparison! The only thing I don’t like is having to commit so far in advance. This commitment phobe is more of the last minute type, so sending in an entry for something still 6 weeks away feels like I’m just asking for trouble.
On one hand I’m really itching to get the season started. It looks like, due to my schedule and distance and the fact that my horse doesn’t do hot weather, I’m only going to have 3 chances to get the two qualifying placings I need for AEC’s, so in a sense – shit’s about to get real. Our first up is Pine Hill, which has a very easy BN course and should in theory be a breeze. It’s really all in my hands to not mess up the dressage or do anything totally stupid. No pressure. In a way I feel like I have to be even more on my toes to not let either of us get complacent about it. He’s schooled the whole Novice course here and a couple Training fences, so he might not really register the little BN boxes and logs.
After Pine Hill I’m planning on hitting Greenwood up north near Fort Worth. They run a CIC2* and CCI1* at the same event, so my BN should look extra simple in comparison. To be honest, the main reason I want to do Greenwood is because they’re involved in the TIP program and offer TIP awards. I want to support any event that supports TIP. Hear that, show management? TIP makes you more appealing!
After Greenwood I should know if AEC’s are totally out of the picture or still on the radar, and be able to decide what to do from that point. There’s really only one more possible event after Greenwood before it starts getting too hot. We’ll see how it goes. Time to start working more on the dressage and picking away at the things that will get us a better score. The dressage scores at BN can be so cutthroat, I know it’s going to come down to the minutia that make a big difference with just a few penalty points. EEK.
USPS for the win – the Devoucoux arrived on Saturday. I may or may not have been outside in the driveway stalking the mailman. I may or may not have opened the box IN the driveway because I couldn’t handle myself. Whatever. She’s beautiful.
I’m really pleased with the condition, it’s in good shape and the panels literally look brand new, there’s nary a scratch or rub on them. As soon as I pulled it out of the box I stuck it in the car and went to the barn to try it out. It fits Henry pretty well and I find it SUPER comfortable. My leg seemed to just fall exactly where it was supposed to go, no effort required, and I really love the narrower twist. I did a quick ride in it and Henry felt great – dunno if it’s the saddle or the chiro or both but he gave me two stretchy trot circles. So far so good… I think it’s a keeper. I’ve never had a monoflap before so I was really surprised by how light it is, and I love the leather. Now I can’t wait for the dressage shaped Ogilvy and calfskin leathers to come so it’s appropriately outfitted. Yes this means I’ll have a lot of stuff for sale soon!
I ended up working on Sunday morning and wasn’t planning on riding, but peer pressure won out and I ran out to the barn to beat the cold front. Of course, as soon as I got on and started trotting the wind really picked up and so did a lovely freezing cold drizzle. Princess Henry was NOT amused. I wasn’t amused either, I’d been riding in t-shirts all week. I did a quick 10 minute warm-up and then hopped him over a few fences before running back into the barn where it was warm(er) and giving him lots of cookies for being a good sport. It was not beautiful course work by any means but he was a trooper and stayed rideable (even in just his sidepull) despite being mad and cold and rained on, so we’ll call it a win.
You should really watch the video all the way through the very end to see the surprise. Thanks Bobby.
Henry had his first chiropractor visit last night. This is the year of “address any and all possible issues”, so I’m throwing everything at him. He’s only got a few days left on his ulcer treatment (which I really need to update on here – woops), he’s been on Pentosan for 6 months now, and now body work.
Honestly, I was expecting him to be a chiropractic mess. He’s kind of a tight horse anyway that doesn’t have a ton of elasticity, so I just assumed he might have some skeletal issues.
He did have a few issues, but nothing really major. He had a rib out on each side – the second to last rib on the left and the last rib on the right. Dr Jack had me feel them and yeah, no kidding, you could easily tell. After the adjustment he had me feel again and there was a definite change.
Most of his soreness was located in his loin area – no surprise to me at all considering that he has a bit of a hard time crossing his hind legs in the under saddle work and really stetching down through his topline. The symptoms lined up with the findings.
He was just slightly out in his poll and about midway down his neck. Otherwise he was pretty good. It was interesting to me that every spot Dr. Jack found, and his explanation for how I would see that manifest under saddle, lined up. He nailed Henry’s tendency to waterski a bit with his hind end in the left lead canter… everything in the hind end was getting pulled to one side with his mis-alignment, which would make it hard for him to step up through his body and push off on that side.
We will see if I feel any difference today. I at least feel better knowing that he’s getting every opportunity to feel as good as possible. Which reminds me, time to fill our next Pentosan prescription.
In other news, my Devoucoux was released from customs last night. USPS must have heard me whining.
In even more news, I have started an epic stirrup showdown – two different models of MDC (the S Flex and the Sport Classic) versus my Royal Riders. Yes there will be a very thorough review post. Yes a friend has also volunteered to try them out and write up her thoughts on them versus her Herm Sprenger irons. There will be much evaluation happening.
We shall see which ones come out on top! First up – the Sport Classic.
I knew it was going to a while to get my saddle. I knew DHL sucked. None of this is news to me – I expected it. I wasn’t even surprised when my tracking number didn’t work for the first few days and DHL’s answer was “we don’t know, ask this other branch of DHL”. Thaaaaanks… fantastic customer service. Glad y’all are on the ball.
But even though I knew in advance that they sucked, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to whine about it sitting in Germany for week doing absolutely nothing. For real:
February 13, 2015 , 12:31 pm
Processed Through Sort Facility
February 6, 2015 , 6:19 am
Processed Through Sort Facility
February 4, 2015 , 1:37 pm
Yep, it came in on the 6th and went out on the 13th. This gives me so many sads. My poor little Devoucoux just sat there in it’s box for an entire week, in the dark, feeling unloved. It’s going to need therapy when it finally gets here.
Where is it now, you ask, 15 days into it’s journey? In the US! Now it’s officially in the hands of the USPS, another fine establishment that I have oh so much faith in. Could be a couple more days, could be a couple more weeks… who really knows? But it’s in San Francisco. Because Germany to San Francisco to Texas is the most logical route.
February 15, 2015 , 7:28 am
Processed Through Sort Facility
ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS)
To add another level of complexity (now I’m annoyed with YOU, USPS) I get this message yesterday
February 18, 2015 , 10:41 am
Processed Through Sort Facility
ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS)
Your item has been processed through our sort facility in ISC SAN FRANCISCO (USPS) at 10:41 am on February 18, 2015.
Inbound Into Customs
Inbound into customs? 3 days after it’s processed into customs? WTF does that even mean? I give up.
It occurs to me now that I should have done a contest to see who could guess the actual arrival date. Winner gets a bottle of Xanax? C’mon USPS, prove me wrong for once!
Knowing my luck it’ll show up the day before I leave for Europe, because fate is a cruel mistress. To add insult to injury, my latest package from PS of Sweden will be here tomorrow. It left Sweden yesterday.
As an aside – I’m likely going to be selling my Frank Baines, assuming the Devoucoux works for us. I have a lot of accessories that I don’t need anymore either (as in – almost 2 whole extra bridles, a girth, a couple special pads, leathers, and irons)… does it appeal to you more as a buyer to have lots of accessories come with a saddle? Personally I’d rather lump it all together and get rid of it all at once rather than parse it out, even if it means getting less total money in the end, but I’m not sure if offering it as a package deal is going to be more or less appealing to buyers.
We’ve all seen them. Someone who decides the warm-up ring at a show is the right place to drill lead changes, getting increasingly angry and liberal with the whip at every failed attempt. The person whose horse is mentally not prepared for the work they’re trying to do, so they end up yanking the horse to a stop repeatedly and seesawing on the mouth out of frustration. The rider whose spooky horse is hesitant about something and they yank the horse around, yelling and whaling away before the horse even knows what’s happening.
Unfortunately something I see a lot of on a pretty regular basis is people picking fights with horses while they’re riding. I don’t get up on my preachy soapbox very often on this blog, but this is one thing I just don’t get and it drives me nuts. Horses are very rarely obstinate under saddle just for the sake of being obstinate. It’s much more likely that they’re a) confused by what you’re asking b) not prepared for what you’re asking – either mentally or physically – or c) hurting. Trying to force them into doing something and letting our emotions take control creates a situation where no one wins. Either the human ends up frustrated or hurt, or the horse ends up frustrated, upset, and likely resentful.
Why buy trouble?
As humans, we have brains (well most of us). We can think logically, foresee how different scenarios could play out, and make intelligent decisions. Horses are creatures that are very much “in the now”. They react to the situations they’re put in, to their surroundings, what they’re being asked to do, and how they’re being asked to do it. We as humans can control a lot of that, and therefore can in essence choose to avoid situations that probably won’t turn out favorably. I’m not saying avoid situations as in “Snookums doesn’t want to go in that corner, so we’ll just avoid that half of the ring”. I’m saying that we take a moment to instead ask ourselves how we can, in a way, outsmart Snookums and get him into that corner without resorting to manhandling and frustrating both parties. Basically using your brains – not your brawn. It’s possible in almost every scenario if you set your emotions aside and think instead of react.
Remember that saying? It’s really true. For myself personally, when I encounter disobedience in a horse the first thing I ask myself is why. Was the horse properly prepared for what I asked? Did I ask correctly? Is there some outside factor – mental or physical – that is preventing the horse from responding appropriately? Nine times out of ten the resolution to the disobedience can be found within the answers to those questions (which is why I think a good trainer is so important – to help us mere mortals figure out where we’re making mistakes). Sometimes it’s as simple as us asking in a way that wasn’t understood very well. Other times it’s the horse saying “I’m so wigged out right now, I can’t handle this” in which case you can take a step back, find something to un-wig them, and ask again.
There’s also nothing in the world to be gained by yanking/kicking/beating/yelling. To the people that then try to justify their idiotic behavior by blaming their horses for being jerks: I’ll say it… you’re the jerk. Our hands and legs aren’t weapons, they’re aids. Same with a whip and spur. I can’t even imagine what people are expecting to accomplish when they take out their temper and lack of riding skill on their horse. There’s a difference between a firm “No, I said do this” reprimand and flat out abuse, and IMO I see the line blurred way too often when a human’s temper takes control. C’mon people, we’re better that. I don’t know about you but I’d rather be a thinking rider who sets the horse up for success, not the reacting rider who punishes and frustrates. If you regularly find yourself in fights with your horse, you’re doing something wrong, and maybe it’s time to seek professional help.
Of course – yes, sometimes horses are in fact just plain disobedient. But we can make a correction swiftly and succinctly then move on without holding a grudge or losing our temper, and subsequently reward them when they do it right. My real grumble here is the people that choose to start a fight where there never had to be one in the first place. It’s just not fair to the horse.
Take a look at this except from the USDF website: “its purpose is to develop the horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to work making him calm, supple and attentive to his rider.” We don’t get those things with force, hysterics, and emotion. We get it with tact, fairness, and intelligence.
I am and always have been a lover of the baby pad, but as most of you already know by now, I am and always have been really picky too. I don’t like pads that are too short, too long, have straps where I don’t want them, don’t have straps where I do want them, are a weird shape, or a weird fabric. Plus I want them in particular colors. Good luck with that.
For a long time I used Wilker’s baby pads, and I liked them fine but didn’t love them. Then I tried the Eous pads since they had the wither contour and girth straps but they were super long so I had to cut them down to fit (which involved taking them apart at the top, cutting down, and re-sewing. Total PITA). Finally I came across Bobbigee’s on eBay, saw their huge list of options, and decided to give them a try.
My first order was tentative – one for me and two for friends. I didn’t get any special options except piping (base price of $18 includes your choice of trim color and a name or monogram embroidery) because I mostly just wanted to see what they looked and felt like. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality – I liked them more than my Wilkers for sure – so I ordered a couple more. I’ve been using the same few pads in rotation for over a year now and they still look great.
One of the best things about BobbiGee’s IMO is all the custom options. From a wither contour cut to girth straps to thickness to length to colors to embroidery, they can make just about anything you want, and for very affordable prices. To get a custom one-color logo put on one side of the pad is $3.50, or you can do both sides for $5! I haven’t found a price like that – with zero minimum and zero fee to convert to digital image – anywhere else. Not to mention that every logo they’ve done for me has come out really well. They obviously take the time and effort to do it right, and it shows. The finish of the pads is really well done too, the trim and piping are straight and sewn without flaw – very professionally done.
As can be common with baby pads due to how thin they are, I had a few problems with my regular basic rectangle ones slipping back sometimes. So when I had my new $900 fb pony logo pads made, this time I opted for a wither contour cut ($9) and girth loops ($4). That did the trick perfectly, and now I have zero issues with my pad moving. I also really love how the upgrades made it look – very classy!
Bobbigee’s pads are made of basic cotton with polyester batting. No rocket science materials here but they hold up well and do their job well. My white ones of course have gotten a little stained over time although the fabric just seems to get softer and softer with each wash, and the stitching and embroidery have been rock solid. I haven’t had any issues with colors bleeding or the pads shrinking, although I line dry them and then toss them in the dryer for a few seconds on low heat. The standard dimensions have worked really well for me (using a 17.5″ CWD and an Ogilvy) but Brandy’s dressage pad is too short across the top, so if you’re ordering for a dressage saddle or a larger seat size, double check the dimensions you need against their standard dimensions. They will make custom sizes if you need it.
Ordering is a little odd since they don’t have their website completed, but you can either do it through their eBay listing or directly via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and they also have a facebook page. Sometimes it takes a couple days to get a response but IMO these pads are worth the wait.
I admit that I was nervous for my dressage lesson on Saturday. Big sticks and technical courses? No worries. A 20 x 40 empty rectangle? OH MY GOD. Yep, I know, my psyche makes total sense. In my defense I haven’t had a dressage lesson in like 2 1/2 months, plus this was my first time riding with Martin the dressage man extraordinaire. What if he thought I was an idiot? Ok, well, he would probably know within 30 seconds that I was in fact an idiot, but what if he thought I was a hopeless idiot??? I got to the barn with a little extra time to spare so I could get on early, re-acquaint myself with the dressage saddle (no the Devoucoux isn’t here yet), see if I could remember how to sit up, and get Henry thinking forward. As soon as I got on I kinda wished I’d grabbed my spurs, but otherwise he warmed up ok. Martin arrived, we talked briefly about Henry’s history, my history, what I thought our weak points were, and what we were trying to accomplish. Then he put us to work.
Turns out I’m kind of in love with Martin. Here’s the thing: some trainers just don’t “get” all horses. And with Henry (as with a lot of TB’s) it’s really really important that you understand how he thinks, because it’s 90% mental with him. He tries really hard but he also has to feel like you’re being fair, he has to keep his confidence at all times, and you can’t ask too much of him at once – he will implode. He’s really just getting started with this dressage stuff and he’s simply not there yet with a lot of things, so there’s a fine line between teaching him something and making him frustrated. Martin immediately spotted that line, and while he took us right up to it several times, he never pushed us over it. Mistakes were no big deal, perfection was not required, he just had to make a solid effort. Henry stayed relaxed the whole time, we had a couple of “a-ha” moments, and I had a better horse at the end. Was it a dramatic, amazing, night and day difference? Of course not. These things take time. A lot of time. But we made some baby steps and I have good homework.
The first thing he honed in on was how Henry really hasn’t released his back/hind end and truly gotten himself engaged from behind. As he stated “He looks lovely going around on a 20 meter circle but in the lateral work you can see it”. Bingo. This has been our struggle. So we worked on a few exercises to get him to start thinking about really crossing those hind legs over and engaging the hind end. We got a few good steps as we went along, which is I think as much progress as you can ask for in a 45 minute time frame. Martin also immediately honed in on some of my own issues: “don’t turn your toe out” (my h/j trainers spent all of the 90’s trying to get my toe out and my calf on – stop messing with my head, dressage), “open your shoulders”, and “heels down, let your leg drape” (I swear I’ve ridden before). He also asked if I’ve ever ridden Henry in a spur. Cue sheepish “um… yes… I didn’t think to grab them today…”
I think my favorite exercise was cantering a square. I could really feel Henry step up under himself and “jump” in the canter stride on the square turns, which was very cool. We also did some half turns on the forehand at the walk, which was difficult for both of us but after a few tries he started to get it and crossed over quite well for a few steps behind. Overall Martin was very complimentary of him and said he liked how pleasant he looked, he especially liked his canter, and said I’d done a good job with him. That warmed the cackles of my cold dark heart.
The extra awesome thing is that Brandy’s hubby got lots of video! And you can actually hear Martin pretty clearly if you turn up the volume, so it’s like having a mini-lesson all over again. When I put all the clips together it was too big to load on Vimeo so I had to break them up.