Happy Birthday Henry!

Happy Friday the 13th, Happy Day before Valentine’s Day, and Happy Birthday to the one and only He’salmostsweet aka Happenstance aka Henrypants!

And all the outtakes

Worst. Idea. Ever.




I’m just not even talking to you right now.

We celebrated last night with treats for the ponies and cupcakes for the humans. Henry, as you can imagine, was thrilled with my hat idea. Pretty sure he’s plotting his revenge as we speak. For his “birthday ride” (since I can’t go out today) I picked his favorite thing and jumped him in his side pull, just a few fences but I put them up around 3′, and he was super. God he just goes so well in that thing. Then we went for a walk down the road with his buddy Auto and I stuffed him full of the rest of his Carat Cake when we were done. He thinks those are DELICIOUS.

mini cupcakes don’t count

I’m barnsitting this weekend but have a dressage lesson on Saturday. Is it weird that dressage lessons make me nervous and pretty much nothing else does? Scary scary dressage.

Back in the groove

First of all – congrats to all my peeps at PS of Sweden on winning another Hippson award! They are having a 15% celebration sale on everything in the store with the code vinnare14. Just enabling saying…

On to Henry things… since we’re fiiiinally having a stretch of good weather here (knock on wood) we’ve been able to get back to regular rides. No more of this once or twice a week thing that we’ve been doing pretty much since the end of November! Nothing super specific is going on yet. We did our XC school last weekend and we did a jump school on Monday night… definitely feeling rusty but hopefully things will start coming together again quickly.

And in even better news, my picture taking friend Amy was able to come back out! We haven’t been working on anything particularly exciting, but hey – pictures are pictures. There is solid proof that I do, in fact, still ride. And yes I’m wearing a sunshirt in these pics because it was 85 and sunny that day. Sorrynotsorry, northerners.




cantering the skinny rolltop to skinny rolltop 2-stride while Brandy judges me silently from the shadows


He can canter with his eyes closed. That’s talent.


Someone needs a bath, his heart is dirty


He’s obviously thrilled to be back to work

On Tuesday we had a fantastic hack out in the big front field. We worked on some tougher flatwork and he was really game and forward. I think he was just happy to be out in a nice big open space again… it’s been a while. After he gave me a little stretchy trot I let him gallop a big lap around the field as a fun reward for his efforts. Of course, it was pretty warm so by that point he was already a bit tired and sweaty so it wasn’t that exciting. But he did get his first hose-down of the year, which I found incredibly exciting. Him, not so much.

Wake me up when it’s dinner time

He also lost a shoe somewhere in the field but luckily the farrier was coming the next day so he only had to go shoeless overnight. Good timing.

For the rest of the month I’m hoping to fit in a couple dressage lessons (better yet – have the dressage trainer RIDE him!) and on the 28th we’re tentatively planning a sj/xc semi-private at a venue a couple hours away with course designer and trainer Carsten Meyer. For now, I’m just so happy to be back in the saddle with good weather and good rides!

FOO Blog Hop: A Day in the Life

Tracy of Fly On Over posted this last week and I thought it was such a good idea, so I’m glad she turned it into a blog hop! It’s interesting to see what a typical day in everyone else’s life is like, especially since we all share in the same struggle of trying to balance horses, work, and life. Here’s what a typical day for me looks like:

6:08am – (not kidding, on the dot every morning) Wake up and try to determine from the level of darkness what time it is. Wonder why it’s so impossible for me to actually sleep all the way to my 7am alarm.

6:10 – Give up on guessing the time, sit halfway up and look over SO to see the clock. Flop back down and wonder if it’s possible to fall asleep again. This movement alerts the dogs, who climb into bed for morning cuddles and inevitably press their cold wet noses into my face.

6:45 – Decide I’m bored waiting for the alarm to go off and get up to let the dogs out and get ready for work. I also pack a bag with everything I’ll need for the day’s activities then head out the door for my 10 minute commute to work.

7:30 – Plop down at my desk with some cereal and start updating the status of all the orders and repairs in the queue before my first meeting. Weed through my emails and make sure no “fires” have started since the day before that need immediate attention.

8:00 – Meeting. Erry day.

8:30 – Meeting. Erry day.

9:30 – Answer all the emails and phone calls I missed while I was in my meetings and then try to get some actual work done.

10:30 – Decide I’m going crazy in my tiny box of an office and wander to the break room for refreshments. Stare longingly at the cookies and candy, but grab an apple or banana or orange and a water instead. Grumble about it for at least 10 minutes.

11:30 – Try really hard not to kill anyone while thinking about how much I want the pizza buffet.

11:32 – Briefly consider just how many people I’d be willing to kill in exchange for a free trip through the pizza buffet…

12:00 – Eat a Clif bar and some almonds at my desk instead because there’s just no time for a lunch break. Still continue to fantasize about the pizza buffet.

1:00 – put out whatever inevitable “fire” has sprung up during the day.

2:00 – Ponder how bad life could possibly be as a vagrant. Remember the horse costs money, therefore I have to have a job. Daydream about being independently wealthy instead. Eat my feelings by way of more cereal or fruit.

3:30 – Look at the giant pile of work that still remains and decide to stay an extra hour.

4:30 – Leap out of my chair and drive to the barn, cursing stupid drivers the whole way. This could also be considered a time where I’m trying really hard not to kill anyone.

5:15 – On the horse. Finally my happy place. Suddenly I have no more desire to kill anyone.

6:30 – Stuff horse full of cookies and bid him farewell.

7:00 – Drive into the parking lot at the gym and immediately give up on finding a parking spot, so drive around the back and park at another business instead. It’s ok, I’ve had my horse therapy.

7:15 – In the pool.

8:00 – In the shower.

8:30 – Finally home. Stare at the contents of fridge/pantry as if they will magically put themselves together for dinner. Finally just give up and throw together whatever is quick and easy and not terribly unhealthy (unless we’ve both had a really bad day, then we eat macaroni and cheese, don’t make eye contact, and never speak of it again).

9:30 – Climb into bed to relax and read. Usually fall asleep before 10:30 still holding my Kindle. Glare at SO and dogs when they come to bed and wake me up. Roll over and congratulate myself on another successful day of not killing anyone before drifting back off to sleep.

Sometimes the times shift a little if I have to be at spin class by 6, or if I’m just too tired for a barn/gym double, or if it’s too wet to ride. But in general – that’s my life. Reading this makes me think we should all pool together and buy a crapton of lottery tickets so we don’t have do to that pesky work thing. It really gets in the way of riding…

My favorite overseas tack/equipment sites

When you’re shopping for something specific or trying to find a good deal, sometimes shopping overseas can give you more bang for your buck or open up your options for more unusual items. Of course the flip side of the coin is that buying from a foreign shop or person can be a little bit nerve-wracking and intimidating. In this post I covered the basic ins and outs of how to go about buying from overseas.

breastplate from France, saddle from France, bridle from England, helmet from England

I had many requests asking which websites I would recommend, so here is a list of some that I have had positive experiences with. Or at least the ones I can remember… some transactions were so long ago I’ll probably never find my way back to them.


Equestrian clearance

Aztec diamond

Amira equi

Just riding

Red Post Equestrian

Selwood Equine (hint: join their mailing list for sale coupons)


The Netherlands:

Divoza (they also have regular coupon codes if you’re on their mailing list)







Kval Boutique

http://www.selle-expert.com/selles-occasion.php Used saddles – inventory comes and goes pretty quickly but they’re well priced.

https://annonces.ffe.com/annonces-selles Used saddle classifieds

https://annonces.ffe.com/index.php?a=5&b=999&seller=1949 – direct link to Thierry de Verdelhan’s listings, the used saddle reseller I bought my CWD from. His inventory also comes and goes quickly, I would message him if you’re looking for something specific.

http://www.chevalannonce.com/annonces/fr/selle-a-vendre-occasion/ more used saddle classifieds



PS of Sweden

bridle from England, saddle from France, breeches from England, helmet from England.

Also – never underestimate the power of another country’s eBay. It might take a little work on your part, as far as translating, contacting the seller to see if they’ll ship, figuring out payment, etc, but sometimes the savings can be worth it. The easiest way to find each eBay is to just go to Google and type “eBay France” or whatever country. Usually I hit the UK, France and Germany for sure, and sometimes Italy, Poland, Netherlands, Sweden if I’m really scraping or think I have a better chance of finding a certain product there. Whatever item you’re looking for, it helps to know where the company is based and start there. Usually the easiest thing to do is search for a certain brand since that’s universal across all languages (ie Devoucoux, Animo, etc) but if you’re searching for a more general object, learn the word for it in whatever language you need. For instance, it’s really easy to hit up google translate and figure out that sattel, selle, sella, silla, sadel mean saddle. If it’s a more specific item google might not be of help, but usually with a little bit of sleuthing you can figure it out.

Weekend recap: highs and lows

This can be summed up really quickly and easily…

Highs: XC Schooling

Lows: Feeling like utter poop

But yay, my custom pads came from Bobbigee’s and they look awesome!

I’ve been feeling a little meh since I got back from Philly but Sunday it seemed to move from annoying allergy like symptoms to full blown My Lungs are Broken with all kinds of interesting fluids leaking from my face. Of course I have way too much work to do to take an actual sick day (ha, I even worked half a day on Sunday) so I’ve just quarantined myself in my office. Maybe if I cough loudly enough people will leave me alone. I almost never get sick so surely it’ll go away soon. I hope so, I have a lesson tonight.

Enough whining, back to the fun stuff.

Pulling out of the barn

Saturday four of us from the barn loaded up and headed a couple hours down the road to XC school. We haven’t been out XC since our event last November, so it was good to knock some of the dust off. Henry started off a little behind the leg but found his groove and popped right over everything. We kept it pretty easy and simple especially considering that with all the rain in the past few months we’ve hardly jumped much, period. Or ridden much, period.

I’m kind of reconsidering my spring show plan too, but feeling indecisive about exactly what to do. I don’t think I’m really ready to think about it, I feel so behind the ball at this point from the lack of consistent riding. At least the weather for the past week has been good, and the next week looks great too, so maybe things will finally start to smooth out.


I’m also strongly considering buying the PS of Sweden hackamore bridle and switching the regular mechanical hackamore sides for either star hackamore rings

or Orbitless rings

I still really prefer jumping him bitless, but the mechanical hackamore is too much leverage and the sidepull isn’t enough whoa for XC. I was thinking maybe something like this would be a good in between option since it’s got a little bit of leverage but not a lot. Thoughts?

Also – if anyone out there would be interested in trading a dressage Ogilvy for one of my jumper Ogilvy’s, let me know! Otherwise, darn it, I guess I’ll just have to buy another one…



I’ve been keeping a secret

And her name is Makila. Devoucoux Makila.


First of all, this is 110% Beka’s fault. Remember her “Sugar Momma” blog hop when she asked “If you could buy anything for your horse, what you buy?” Yeah, well, let me explain.


When I drafted that post it was late one evening when I was home alone without much to do. After I drafted it I played around on the internet, looking longingly at all the things I’d put on my wishlist and pondering just how much good fortune it would take to make any of them happen. Then I was sitting there thinking about what an amazing deal I got on my CWD by buying from overseas, and figured I’d scope out all my favorite french used saddle sites and the various european countries’ eBays, just to get an idea of what kind of money I’d really be looking at for my coveted Devoucoux dressage saddle (either a Milady or a Makila). As I was scrolling oh so innocently through the German eBay, I happened upon a Makila that only had a few hours left on the bidding and had gotten no love. No surprise really, the Germans really love their own tack more than the French stuff.


The price was amazing, so just for grins I fired off a message to the seller asking if they’d ship to the US. Having been through the buying a saddle from overseas process before, usually the answer to that question is no, if you get an answer at all. But within an hour she answered back and said yes, she would ship to the US for an additional 48 Euro. We went back and forth a bit, I asked her some questions, did some quick comparisons of the panel configuration against what my CWD has, and it actually is a pretty darn close match. Well then. I pondered it for a little while and remembered that in addition to our profit sharing bonus, which is my show money for the year, I was also going to get another $750 bonus for my 10 year work anniversary, money that I’d totally forgotten about. I figured I could probably get around $500 from selling my Frank Baines, so add that together and the magic number is $1250. The saddle was $1255. Coincidence, I think not. So I bid at the last minute, remained the only bidder, and won the saddle.

Hey baby.

I know it’s a little crazy to buy something from overseas without a trial, but a) I figure if it doesn’t work I can always re-sell it, and b) it worked out so amazingly for me last time with my CWD. Am I nuts for hoping lightning strikes twice? Probably, but I’m willing to try. The Frank Baines is fine but neither of us love it, so I find myself not riding in it very much. Henry and I both seem to be fans of a French saddle, and who am I to deny him?

On another note – ever tried to get an international wire transfer? I got quizzed like CRAZY while the company made very sure that I was not a terrorist. I had to explain why I was buying this item from a foreign country instead of stateside, and the honest answer of “I’m cheap, opportunistic, and nuts” isn’t really what they’re looking for so I had to find another more eloquent way to word it. It took a few days of back and forth to get approved for the transfer, then it took a while to go through on my side, then a few more days to go through on her side, so it’s been about 2 weeks and the saddle is just now finally on it’s way to me. I didn’t want to say anything until it was actually in the mail just in case it fell through (which almost happened a couple of times). Of course, it’s coming DHL Paket which is notorious for being sloooooow, so it could be somewhere between a week and month before it shows up. Let me tell you how unsatisfactory the obsessive tracking process is about to become.


Cross all your crossables that it arrives in one piece, fits the pony, and we like it. Risky? Yep, absolutely. Hopefully it will go the same way the CWD went and be a case of “with great risk comes great reward”.



Interesting stuff from AETA part 2: apparel and boots

I didn’t get great pictures of the apparel because that’s mainly what we bought, and I was generally busy trying things on or helping pick colors rather than take pictures. Tough life, I know. But I’ll at least share the pictures that I did manage to get and talk about what I saw.

First up was Asmar Equestrian. I have to admit, I have not been particularly taken by their stuff from the internet pictures, but now that I’ve tried on like 90% of their line (no joke, being a human mannequin is awesome) I’m a convert. We did a big order for Luxe EQ from them and there was no shortage of nice things to pick out. Everything was so well made, from nice fabrics, and cut well. This is also the only place in the whole show that gets to boast that they swayed me to buy something. I added the tech fabric polo and the long sleeve tech shirt to our order in Sunshine – a new color for spring – which happens to be just the right color of golden yellow to match my new XC colors. That’s fate, right? The other spring colors are a really pretty rich pink called Punch and a sea blue/turquoisey color called Curacao. I saw slightly different shades of aqua and teal all over the trade show among several brands, especially paired with black and charcoal, although HKM had it with navy as well. Since I did such a bad job taking pictures at Asmar, you should head to their website and see the new spring stuff yourself. I wish the fall/winter was online already because there was a jacket I completely fell in love with, and the new sweaters are awesome too, but you’ll just have to check back later in the year. Oh – and the bamboo t-shirts were heavenly soft. I need more money so I can give it all to Asmar. I also have to give props to their sales reps, they were great and really encouraged trying on the clothes so we could see how they fit and felt. I love that.

Yay Kastel, my favorite sun shirts! The recently released green color is front and center, and all the ones you see over there on the left are the new spring colors for 2015. Lots of soft pretty pastels. They also have a shirt coming out in their f/w collection that will be for heat retention – it looked super comfy and wind resistant so I can’t wait to see the final product later this year.

Everyone say hi to Mike, blogland’s favorite Kastel rep. I made him hold up the pretty yellow polo that I want, mainly because he’s so amenable I knew he’d do it without complaint. There ya go Mike, now you’re internet famous. BTW, yellow is totally your color. Kastel is also coming out with a line of show shirts that look really neat, and they have a new western inspired style… if you’re into that sort of thing.

One of the most “out there” pair of breeches I saw were these full seat silicone breeches by Chinese maker Smiles. No doubt these things would really stick you to the saddle. They had all kinds of crazy stuff happening with silicone in their booth.

Custom Riding Apparel had lots of interesting breeches, with everything from bling on the pockets to purple fabric to decorative buttons on the side. I took a picture of this particular pair mainly because they’re Brandy’s colors, and again there was that tealy color popping up.

In the Horseware booth we picked out a lot of stuff, both from Horseware and from Allesandro Albanese. LOVE this sweater. I also might have said I wanted one of the adorable burgundy sweaters from Horseware with a big H on it when the f/w stuff arrives. Does that count as buying something if it’s so far in the future? I definitely have to have that sweater to represent Henry.

And also these sweaters. The colors were great and they were really soft – perfect for layering over a polo or show shirt for lessons or the jumpers.

Tredstep is coming out with a new coat that has interchangeable collar colors, much like Manfredi currently offers. This one will be at a much lower price point (I was told around $250) and I was really excited to see it. Sadly, I really didn’t like the fabric of the coat itself.

Something else we bought a lot of – Manfredi elastic belts. These things are SO pretty. And yet again, there’s that gray/blue combination popping up.

Not gonna lie, I mostly took a picture of these socks because the idea of having Boyd Martin’s face stretched across my calf gives me many giggles. That’s one way to channel your inner Olympian.

It’s hard to see in this picture, but RJ Classics has a coat with different colored side panels. This particular one is navy with dark brown side panels but they have one that is black with gray as well. I also noticed that their prices went up… this one retails at almost $600. Ouch.

We spent quite a while at Tailored Sportsman picking out breeches and shirts and belts, but I didn’t get very many good pictures because a) picking colors from that many options is stressful b) everything was set far back from the tables. But you can see some of the new colors here, and their tech fabric show coats on the right. I really liked the hunter green show coat, and at a retail price of $350 it seems like a great lower budget option. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to try it on to see what the fit was like.

That teal/sea blue color showed up again – TS had a teal version called Lagoon, pictured above, and a very bright sea blue called Aqualina. I think my favorite color of the day was a tie between Black Olive – a new one that is basically between the hunter green Black Forest color and Black – and the very dark navy Black and Blue color with tan knee patches. Honestly, I liked all the tan knee patch colors except for maybe the Charcoal. I was especially digging it on white – kind of gave it a little bit of punch to make it less blah. I was disappointed to see Redwood was not included since that’s probably my favorite TS color ever. I’m so glad Aztec Diamond is coming out with a dark red to fill the hole in my heart.

And last but not least – boots. DeNiro really showed up guns blazing, with a big booth just stuffed full of gorgeous boots, with every detail and option you could think of. There aren’t even words, really. Just look. DeNiro = dangerous.

There were a couple of other things I liked but didn’t get pictures of. Roeckl has new spring colored gloves coming out in teal, coral, and magenta. Really pretty. And even more teal.

I also kind of fell in love with the brand Sarm Hippique and was dead set on getting a pair of their sticky butt Dakota breeches. They would make perfect XC breeches and they came in a great clay color. The plan was to buy a good bit of stuff from them for the shop, but we weren’t able to close the deal on opening an account. You gave me sads, Sarm Hippique. So many sads. There was much pouting. Oh well, maybe next time.


interesting stuff from AETA: tack and helmets

As I walked around the trade show I tried to take a picture whenever anything caught my eye – for good or for bad. I figured if it caught my attention it was worth a look. Since the shop I was there with really only does apparel, we didn’t buy any tack. But I think anyone who has basically ever read this blog knows how much I love tack, especially interesting tack. There wasn’t a lot to be found that really caught my attention (nothing like my beloved PS of Sweden bridles anyway) but I thought a few pieces were worth sharing.

Your eyes do not deceive you, that is a raised padded fancy stitched Micklem. I didn’t notice any difference in the leather quality, and the choice of stitching pattern is… interesting… but it looks like they’ve finally dressed it up a bit. They still have the regular flat utilitarian looking one as well.

The other bridle in the Horseware booth had a little bit different side piece on the noseband than normal. Otherwise it was very standard looking.

The most “different” looking bridle was definitely this one from Nunn Finer. Don’t ask me, I have no idea. That’s a whole lot of straps.

Yup, sparkly glittery bridles, not just confined to the browband. I think the idea here is to blind the judge and force them to give you better scores. Either way, you sure can’t miss these things. I saw lots of patent on dressage bridles as well. All of these people who used to only do plain jane black and white have gone off the rails! And, hey – more power to them because it gives me something to take pictures of.

It was pretty hard to miss this saddle from Pariani, with it’s rubbery feeling anti-slip knees and panels. It’s called the Pro Grip, which seems obvious. It definitely had an interesting feel, like little rubbery spikes (not actually spiked, but rounded tip).

Who loves colored piping? Prestige does. I don’t know if I’d ever be that brave, but it’s a cool option. Their irons are kinda like if Jin and MDC had a stirrup iron baby.

Yup, those awesome and very economical eventer pads from PRI are available in sea blue and hot pink. That’s the same pad I bought from BoB in navy… although they don’t carry these two colors. For $38 it’s a nice pad and I know several friends that would love the sea blue. Maybe someone will stock it?

On to helmets! Remember that lace KEP? One K is in on it, too. Not actual lace though, just a printed pattern.

Samshield has a center leather option with a pattern very reminiscent of lace. I, of course, loved it. But to be honest I sort of fell all over myself in love at the Samshield booth anyway. Megan opened an account with them so Julian demonstrated how to do a proper fitting, with me as the lucky guinea pig, and he showed all the liners, all the options, all the differences between models, how the vent system works, the key design points, etc. The Premium is like heaven on my head. And oh my god the OPTIONS. I couldn’t even. Samshield on the list of eventual must haves? Yes.

photo from samshield.com

The picture that I tried to take for this option came out awful but I loved it so much I have to mention it, so here’s a stock pic from their website. This is the new Shimmer option for the center that I thought was to-die-for pretty… it almost has a wet look to it in the light. It glimmers without being glittery and is fun and unique without being garish. Totally gorgeous. I also got to try on the different glove models and thought the navy color was really pretty. Although IMO, everything they have is really pretty – always elegantly finished with a real high end look. Absolutely nothing here looks cheap.

The other new thing from Samshield is their XC helmet. I admit, my first thought was “Spartan”. It has a really unique look that I think people will either love or hate, but either way you have to admit the features are well engineered. First – the ventilation was amazing. No exaggeration. Second – it was so lightweight it felt like you weren’t even wearing a helmet. Since it’s made of carbon fiber it’s super strong but very light at the same time.  This thing has safety ratings out the wazoo. Pictured is the blue one but it also comes in black.

One K seems to be going the way of the Samshield, trying to offer lots of options in that center area, and crystals along the edges. It looks a lot cheaper and less elegantly done than Samshield, but they’re trying to fill that niche in a lower price bracket so I guess that’s the point.

Tomorrow – apparel and boots!


The AETA experience

So much happened in the last 4 days, I’m going to have to break it up into a few posts. I have lots of pictures of some of the cool/interesting/weird things I saw at AETA but I still need to finish uploading and resizing those, so for today I’ll cover everything non-AETA that went on during my trip. I do want to say though – what a learning experience. It was really cool to be able to see and touch and try on so many different things, talk to the reps (some of which were amazing and some of which were not), and get a feel for what the different brands are all about. With some of them the conversation segued into me being a blogger, and while a few of them looked at me like I was from another planet, others became more interested in talking to me. It’s enlightening to see who realizes just how important the power of an internet and social media presence can be, and who really wants to be involved. We’ll talk about that more tomorrow. Moving on…

ADE leggings are perfect traveling pants


White stuff!

I arrived in Philly on Friday around noon, with the kind of descent and landing that leaves you reaching for a barf bag. For a minute I was pretty sure I might puke with all the rolling around and dropping we did, but luckily that was avoided. After some aimless wandering around the airport I found the right shuttle and got my rental car, then immediately set off to meet my friend Michele so we could hit a couple tack shops. I’ve known Michele for a long time but haven’t seen her since she moved from TX to Delaware… I think Sadie was 2 when she left so somewhere around 5-6 years. I love her, it was really nice to catch up and do some shopping with her (she thinks I’m a bad influence but I have no idea what she’s talking about). After an awesome lunch we hit Bit of Britain. I’d been to the mobile at Fair Hill many years ago but never their brick and mortar, and I really wanted to see if they had a jockey whip in my colors. Not only did they have navy and white, they also had navy and yellow. I’ve been thinking of adding some yellow in to help distinguish myself from the sea of other bay thoroughbreds wearing navy, so I figured the whip was a sign. I grabbed that, a navy eventer pad (they only had one left in the size I needed so I figured that was also a sign), some yellow laces for my Tipperary, and a few other little things. Of course, I’m an idiot and accidentally left the laces at the hotel so I’m going to have to buy more. Fail.

The whip rack


boots and bits everywhere!


My haul. The stickers are for friends, since I had such limited space in my suitcase and couldn’t fit anything else.

Then we quickly headed over to Rick’s before they closed. I’ve heard a lot about this place being a maze of amazingness, with a really impressive collection of used saddles, so I figured it was something I had to see. We only got there half an hour before they closed so our exploring time was limited, but it did not disappoint. It was almost like an equestrian fun house. Every room seemed to lead to yet another room, with stairs leading to yet another room, and so on and so on. It would be easy to spend all day in there. We hustled up to the used saddles – there were 3 rooms of those with just about every brand you can imagine, from the cheapest of cheap to the very top of high end. I wasted no time grabbing the dressage saddles that appealed to me so I could sit in them. No surprise – the only one I liked was the only French saddle in the room, a Hermes. At least my love for French and Italian things is really consistent?

I have no words.


One of the new saddle rooms


The Hermes of Love

On Saturday I finished at AETA around mid-afternoon, and since I was so close (literally minutes away) from Valley Forge, I couldn’t resist popping in there to see it. Of course I’m also winter-stupid, so I opted for the walking tour even though it was 25 degrees. Besides freezing my ass off and fleeing back to my car for the much warmer driving tour about halfway through, I failed to realize the kind of windburn that can occur in those conditions until I was back in my hotel room and my face looked like The Walking Dead. Oops, lesson learned. But Valley Forge was REALLY cool – I highly recommend popping in for a visit if you’re a history buff and find yourself in the area.

Then it was off to meet Emily, Allison, Pam and Jenn for dinner. I think Emily is the only one of us that got a picture so she’ll have to share that, but it was really nice to meet everyone in person and get a sense of who they really are behind the blog. Or in Pam’s case, behind the business. Many thanks to her for continuing to be so supportive of the blogging community.

I picked up Megan, the owner of Luxe EQ, from the airport around midnight and then for some reason we stayed up until 2am talking. Our early appointments at AETA the next day were rough but we don’t get to see each other as much since she moved to Houston so it was nice to catch up even at the expense of proper sleep. On Sunday night we went to the AETA dinner and chatted with some (new-to-me) friends from other shops. Many buffet desserts were eaten and laughs were had. They also had the Super Bowl up on a couple big screens, and while I couldn’t care less about football, this white girl just about lost her mind when Missy Elliot showed up. My love for Missy runs deep. Finally someone decent in a halftime show! After our appointments on Monday Megan and I stopped on the way to the airport and got a Philly Cheesesteak… we figured it was something vital to experience since we’d come all that way. It was great, but holy cow, I don’t think I’ll be hungry again for a week.

Overall it was a great time and all the non-AETA time was filled with friends, food, and exploration. Not a bad way to spend a long weekend! Tomorrow we’ll delve into AETA itself and all the stuff.