The Tipperary needs to go

Take a look around at any horse trial and the vest you see the most in the US, by far, is the Tipperary Eventer. Sadly this is also no where near one of the safest vests on the market. Even the newer ones only meet ASTM and SEI requirements, not BETA, and the old ones only met BETA 7 standards – which hasn’t been relevant since the 90’s. They’re pretty lightweight and comfortable, but basically any vest with gaps between the foam or on the sides is not going to be very highly rated for safety, especially for cross country. There’s just not enough coverage and padding.

I wear a Tipperary and mine is pretty old… I’ve been seriously considering an upgrade lately and think it’s definitely well past time. As I’ve researched more and paid more attention to safety ratings, I’ve really come to like BETA’s system. BETA’s safety standards have three levels – 1 through 3.

  • Level 1 (black label) provides the lowest level of protection that is only considered appropriate for licensed jockeys while racing.
  • Level 2 (brown label) offers a lower than normal level of protection so is considered suitable for low risk situations – not including jumping, riding on the roads, riding young or excitable horses or riding while inexperienced.
  • Level 3 (purple label) is considered appropriate for general riding, competitions including eventing and working with horses. Level 3 body protectors should prevent minor bruising that would have produced stiffness and pain, reduce soft tissue injuries and prevent a limited number of rib fractures.

Most vests manufactured to BETA standards are clearly labeled with which level BETA rating they meet, which makes it very easy to shop for.

big ass tag is hard to miss

British Eventing also requires that riders wear the higher rated vests:

From 1 January 2011, British Eventing has ruled that only BETA 2000 and 2009 Level 3 body protectors can be worn by competitors. 

Why the Change?
The new ruling was introduced following concerns expressed by BETA about the number of very old body protectors being worn during competition. Although these might appear perfectly serviceable to the naked eye, they afford far less protection than garments made after 2000 and will also have become brittle with age. Additionally, BETA highlighted the point that only Level 3 body protectors were designed to be worn for activities such as cross-country riding.

Their entire page on body protectors is pretty interesting, if you’re in for a bit of a read about safety. They also have a handy dandy one page guide:

Not only does British Eventing require a Level 3 vest, they also require that the Level 3 rating label be clearly visible. Their rule:

Body Protector. A British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) approved and
appropriately labelled “Level 3 body protector”, with the year 2000 or 2009
shown on the label, manufactured in the year 2000 or after, is mandatory for
Cross Country and whenever else a body protector is worn.
Competitors are strongly recommended to check their body protectors on a
regular basis and to replace them if damaged.
It is strongly advised that the body protector should impede neither flexibility
nor balance. The up to date BETA list of body protectors may be obtained from
BETA – see

Compared to our USEF rule for vests:

2. PROTECTIVE VESTS. a. A body protecting vest must be worn warming-up for and in the cross-country EV EVENTING DIVISION © USEF 2015 16 test. Stable, team or club colors are permitted. The Federation recommends that the vest should pass or surpass the current ASTM standard F1937 or be certified by the Safety Equipment Institute. Inflatable vests are permitted only when worn over a body protecting vest.

Wow is our rule ever as unspecific and lax as possible. We “recommend” that it pass some kind of standard… a standard that is much lower than the BETA standard. Kind of surprising considering how much of an issue safety in eventing has been over the past several years. Why are we so far behind? I think if you took away all of the old, non-BETA level 3 vests from Americans, almost no one would have a vest left. Including me.

So I’ve been looking around at replacements, although granted haven’t made up my mind yet. Price is definitely a factor and navy is preferred, so that narrows my field a bit.

Perhaps the Harry Hall Zeus?

Or the Champion FlexAir

Champion Navy FlexAir body protector

Or the USG Flexi


Or the Airowear Outlyne

There are actually a lot of options if I buy from the UK. And pretty affordable options at that, much more so than if I purchased one of the few BETA level 3 vests available here.

We shall see… it’ll be another month or two before I can afford an upgrade. What kind of vest is everyone else wearing, and why?

There’s nothing left to do but cry and post pictures

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that I got a couple pictures from the jumper show last weekend. Ya know… the last time I rode. Unless you count me sitting on my horse bareback last night.

The bad news is, it’s still raining every day. In fact yesterday it looked like this.


Inches upon inches. On top of the inches upon inches we already had. Basically we’re never riding again and the horses are never leaving their stalls again. I’m not even being dramatic anymore, that’s just a fact. It kinda looks like it might not rain today, which would be both strange and amazing. There’s some really big bright spherical orb thing in the sky that I caught a brief glimpse of earlier before it ran away again.

I cleaned stalls last night and the horses all just looked at me like HEEELLPP UUSSSSS.

All I can really do is a lot of this:

Because I feel months of work and the show season and the goal of AEC’s slipping farther and farther away with every drop of rain. We’re still going to the event this weekend (they’ve gotten less rain up north), but I’m not exactly hopeful for a great performance considering I’ve ridden twice in 12 days and the poor horses have been stuck inside since Sunday. In fact, I had a dream that I was second after dressage and then had 4 rails in stadium to drop to 6th. Even my subconscious has given up on my life goals.

Is it possible for mass amounts of rain to cause instant depression? I’ve even tried hiding my feelings in food and that’s not really helping either. That always helps, especially in the form of Thin Mints. I’m at a loss here for how to treat it if food doesn’t work.

I have a lot of review posts I need to write, I just have no spirit left. Sorry readers, this blog is a sad and boring place right now. But… yay event this weekend? Unless it turns into a mud fest. Boo.

Contest Time: All About Baby!

Horse baby of course. Calm down. As most of you know, my mare Sadie is leased out to a friend, and in foal to the stallion Mezcalero.

Yesterday was her birthday so to celebrate I thought we would have a fun contest to see who can get as close as possible to guessing the correct color, sex, date, and time of birth for her foal. Winner gets a $25 Riding Warehouse gift card!

What you need to know:

  • The baby will be bay, chestnut, or black. Those are the only options (brown is rolled in with bay). I don’t know the agouti status of either parent so it’s possible that black isn’t actually an option – in which case it’d be 75% bay, 25% chestnut. Know that if you pick black you’re living dangerously.
  • There is really no such thing as a “due date” in horses, but the average gestation is 340 days. For her, 340 days would be July 6. Most mares foal within 330-345 days.

    How Sadie looked yesterday on her birthday. Fat butt.
  • This is her first foal, so she’s a maiden.

Contest Details:

  • One entry per person please!
  • Enter by commenting on this blog post
  • With your entry please list the following: color, sex (filly or colt), date of birth, time of birth. Just in case multiple people get the correct color, sex, and date, the person closest to the correct time will be the winner. If you don’t give me a time, I have nothing to break ties! On the flip side, if no one gets the correct color, sex, and date, whoever was closest will win.
  • Give me some way to contact you – either your email or your blog link, if you have one. If you have “liked” my blog page on facebook, you can just leave your name and I’ll find you that way.
  • Entries will stay open until June 15.

Good luck!



Things I love and hate about how horse trials are run

Now that I have been back into the swing of participating in USEA recognized events, it is certainly clear that some shows really have it all down pat while others are just plain disorganized.

I’ve come to really like or dislike certain things about how horse trials are run or what they offer. A lot has changed since I evented in the early 2000’s… we didn’t have the same kind of technology then as we do now. Shoot, I remember getting my ride times in the mail on a postcard. With all of these changes I have noticed a lot of things that make me more or less likely to want to attend a certain event. So lets start with things I consider to be perks:

TIP awards – I love thoroughbreds, I love my thoroughbred, and I love the TIP program. If you offer TIP awards I am much more likely to want to come to your show.

Startbox Scoring – It’s kind of annoying how some shows use Event Entries and others use Startbox, but I have to say – Startbox is way better. I’ve never had a problem pulling up anything or finding anything on their website, and updates happen timely. I’ve had a lot of issues with Event Entries though, either not updating or just not being particularly user friendly.

MyCourseWalk – There is one event here that posts their courses the week before the event on MyCourseWalk. I love this. I like being able to see it in advance, plot it out in my mind, and already have a good idea of the course before I get there and start walking. Plus the courses stay on MCW so you’re able to go back and look at previous years, or look at a venue you haven’t been to before to get an idea for what they have on their course. I wish more venues would use it.


Competitor dinners – Almost everyone has these now, which I really like. It’s a good way to get people rubbing elbows and talking to each other, plus it’s nice to have at least one meal taken care of while you’re on the road. I greatly appreciate them, especially when they don’t charge the non-competitors either (our helpers are just as important!).


On the flip side of the coin, there are a few things that drive me really crazy:

Not posting entries or results in a semi-timely manner – if it’s past closing date and you still haven’t posted any of the entries you’ve received, you’re way behind the ball. I like to know that my entry got there, that it’s all complete, that it’s all correct, and that I don’t owe you any more money. On the same token, if it’s been an hour and a half since my division wrapped up and there are still no scores posted, I’m going to start getting impatient. Keeping up to date on your paperwork and keeping people informed goes a long way in making an event look organized, competitor-friendly, and on the ball.


Dangerous stabling – if a normal sized horse cannot easily turn around in the aisles, they’re too narrow. If the stalls are so old and rusted and bent that a horse can get a hoof stuck in the bars, it’s time to replace them. If the doors won’t stay shut without having to be tied up, fix them. If the barn is going to flood in a rain storm because there isn’t appropriate drainage or gutters, put it in. There are a lot of irreplaceable and well-loved horses staying there, please make us feel like they’re safe while they’re at your facility.

Not splitting divisions – maybe this is just my “I need AEC placings” craziness setting in, but if you’ve got enough entries to split up your divisions into Junior, Senior, and Open divisions please do it. Horse show 101 is to have as many people walk away happy as possible, so do yourself a favor and split that stuff up. One big division kinda sucks.

Volunteer education – please please please take 15 minutes to educate your volunteers on their duties. Jump judges need to know where is or is not an appropriate place to sit, they need to know what constitutes a refusal, etc. Scribes should know how to make the shorthand comments as readable as possible. The people in charge of parking should know where each barn is. I love that our sport is so volunteer based, and I love volunteering, but we need to make sure we’re doing a good job of setting our volunteers up for success.

I’m sure there’s a lot I’m forgetting here. Fellow competitors (not just eventers!) what are some of the things that you love to see or drive you crazy at your competitions?

Weekend recap: adventures and shows

Since monsoon season shows absolutely no signs of relenting, and we have another event next weekend, the plan for this past weekend was to RIDE at all costs. Since our place is basically under water, on Saturday we hauled over to a covered arena down the road and did a little dressage work. It was the first I’ve been able to ride Henry since Greenwood the weekend before, so he was a little tense but the wicked humidity soon zapped all of his energy right out, nervous or otherwise.

how Henry feels about adventures

There were mirrors on one end of the ring, which was both AWESOME and awful at the same time. It’s great to be able to see things, but it’s also horrible to be able to see things. Sometimes I’d be like “this feels pretty good” and then I’d look in the mirror and be like “Oh, nevermind…”. Mirrors are like having a lesson in and of themselves.

Who dat derpy horse?

On Sunday I decided to take him over to the local h/j show that was happening this weekend and just enter a couple jumper classes. I figured this would be good experience for him – get tossed on the trailer, come out, get tacked up, warm up, then go in the ring. Usually when we go places we have the benefit of taking a day to settle in.

This is my majestic creature. He is very very majestic. Also, I forgot to bring a hairnet. My ears felt so naked and exposed.

I had originally signed up for a 2’6″-2’9″ and a 2’9″-3′ class, but upon seeing how little the jumps were set I decided to scratch the smaller one and add the 3′-3’3″ instead. It ended up being pretty perfect because the first class was more like 2’9″ and the second class was more like 3′ (I think maybe one or two of the jumps was actually 3’3″ but that’s probably it). They weren’t our best courses ever but he clocked right around that spooky ring with no questions asked and was a trooper about it. If I could quit pulling to the short distance that would be great.

No touchy


It was fun to get back to our jumper roots for a while, but it also really made me appreciate eventing and having ride times. Oh how quickly I’d forgotten about the “hurry up and wait”. And wait. And wait. I had to be somewhere at noon so as soon as we finished our second class I jumped off, shoved him full of cookies, stuffed him back on the trailer, and away we went. Although I did stop on the way back from closing out my check to grab his ribbon from the bigger class. Don’t be impressed, there were only 3 of us.

He’s not impressed either.

All in all it was a good weekend with lots of riding time, even if it did require trailering out to get it done. It looks like we’re going to end up having to do the same thing this week too if we want to ride at all before the event next weekend, since this stupid daily rain shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. Over it.



Apparently it’s monsoon season

Remember that whole drought thing that Texas has had going on for years now? Remember when it used to not rain for months at a time? Apparently it’s a feast or famine type of thing around here because it will not stop raining. And when I say rain I don’t mean like a half inch here and there. I mean like 4-5″ at a time. Enough to flood everything and make lakes where your arenas used to be.

Enough to make the turnouts so muddy that it’s dangerous for the horses to go out. So basically as long as your horse doesn’t want to ever go outside and you don’t ever want to ride, you’re all set. Did I mention I have another event next weekend? Did I mention I haven’t ridden since we did cross country on Sunday? Meh, details. You can tell I’ve been bored by the new stuff in my blog sidebar and the fact that I started a facebook page for the blog. I never actually do housekeeping things like that normally. Luckily I did stop short of a complete blog redesign. At this point I’m considering buying a million tarps and covering the barn with them 100 x 100 feet at a time. That’s not drastic, is it?

I wanna cover everything like this

I think I have secured a truck and trailer to borrow (thanks again Erin for saving my butt, this is becoming a theme) so I can try to haul out to places with covered arenas to ride this weekend. There’s a dressage place down the road, and a local h/j show going on this weekend about 15 minutes away where I could at least do a couple of jumping classes. That might be the only jumping we get to do before the event next weekend. Shoot, at this rate it might be the only riding we get to do before then, since the monsoons are supposed to continue next week. I’m getting tired of always being woefully unprepared for things. Stop raining. Just stop.


To assuage my anxiety and angst I went spur-of-the-moment googling yesterday for some breeches for cross country. I guess the gods are feeling guilty because I happened upon the perfect pair, AND they were on flash sale for 40% off. You’re not off the hook, gods, but thanks for the cheap breeches.

Devonaire 575 Ladies Signature Lo-rise Woven Breech

Know what else would make me happy(ish)? A full set of these DSB boots in navy, because they’re beautiful. Sadly I’m out of money because I’ve spent it all on horse shows that I never actually get to prepare for. No bitterness here.

I’d trade a couple of semi-vital organs for a covered arena right now. Who needs a kidney?

The (helmet) struggle is real

Somehow I have found myself with not one but TWO helmets that are past their “expiration” dates. They have served me faithfully and well, but it’s time to mind my melon and move along. Of course, being fit for a Samshield at AETA pretty much totally sold me on one. Damn them and their amazing helmets that basically sell themselves. I also quite like the leather look AYR8’s as well, but I’ve had an AYR8 in the past and found it to be a bit hot and heavy for a Texas summer. The Samshield, however, felt quite dreamy.

I have decided that I definitely need a navy helmet but that’s about where my decision making skills have stopped. I really really loved the shimmer material in the middle when I saw it at AETA, it was really pretty without being super disco ball. But then there’s that crazy eventer in the back of my head going “Match ALL THE THINGS” who wants me to buy this:


I like that Crazy Eventer, she’s fun and ballsy and does what she wants. But is Crazy Eventer a little too crazy? The navy shimmer is pretty safe. It says “I’m a little different and kinda fun, but I still want everyone to like me”. The yellow trim is balls to the wall. It says “I’m here to PARTAY, fortune favors the bold!”. Plus I think it would look pretty freaking amazing with my Equiline coat.

If Charlotte Dujardin and Georgina Bloomberg can have red on their helmets, why can’t I have yellow? If I went with the yellow trim I would probably have to opt out of the shimmer, lest it get too busy and flashy and trashy looking. That makes me a little sad just because the shimmer is so pretty. But yellow. But shimmer. But yellow. But shimmer.

Besides those two decisions, there’s also the question of what type of air vent material to get – black or chrome? Navy isn’t an option, black doesn’t match, and chrome is really shiny. Why you gotta do me like that, Samshield? Now I don’t know what to pick.

That’s basically a mirror.

The price difference between a shimmer or the yellow trim isn’t a whole lot – the yellow trim with regular shadow matte middle would be about $60 less than the shimmer middle with regular chrome trim.

What do you think, guys? My struggle is real, and it’s intense, and it’s confusing. Too many options, Samshield. Too many options.

Greenwood recap Part 3: Cross Country

Yay, finally, the fun part!


After Saturday’s adventures I was pretty happy to be done with dressage, but I was still quite worried about the two down banks on XC. Saturday evening I walked the course with a trainer that I had never met before but was recommended to me by my trainer, and she had some good suggestions about how to ride the down banks. Still, mostly I just laid awake and thought about it all night. Figuring out the brain of Henry and what will work best for him can be a tricky thing.

Gimme your hat


more weird licking. Mmmm Animo tastes good…

It was another long day of sitting around, since my ride time wasn’t until 1:32. We were all bored to tears. Finally it was time to get on and head to the warmup. Trainer For The Day came over about halfway through my warmup, watched me jump a few fences, made some more suggestions, and bid me adieu so she could get back to her clients. I greatly appreciate her taking a few minutes to help, it made me feel more confident in my plan. We marched over to the start box, walked a few circles, then wandered in at 30 seconds to go. I faced him backwards until we got to the last 10 seconds, then we turned around and waited for every eventer’s favorite words – “HAVE A GREAT RIDE!”. The best sentence in the world.

I will put the helmet cam footage here first, for those that want to watch it. I dunno what the weird clicking noise is, but if you can endure it there’s a little bit of fun audio. I’ve already ordered a skull cap so I can mount the helmet more securely next time and hopefully get rid of the clicking. I’ll angle it a little more downward too so you can see more Henry. But hey, it was our first foray into the world of Helmet Cam.

He came out of the box all business, looking for the jumps. We popped right over the first three, made our left turn onto the path into the woods, and hopped over 4. Fence 5 had several people standing near it, and he flicked an ear back at me like “Mom?” but as soon as I put my leg on he went right ahead and paid them no mind. The big oxer at 6 was easy, then we wound our way out of the woods, down the hill and into the field for 7. He got a little forward down the hill but I let him roll until I needed to make the turn to 7, told him to pay attention, and he came right back with no problem. Fence 8 was the little Trakehner, which he didn’t even blink at. With every “Good boy” I gave him, he flicked an ear back at me like “I know, I’m amazing aren’t I?!?“.

Then we came out into the big field and made our sharp right hand turn down the hill to the water. He saw it and hesitated ever so slightly, so I sat deep and put my leg on him and he just bounded forward, no further questions asked. He took a little bit of a leap into the water but cantered through and out over the rolltop like a pro.

He got a little too excited with himself on the long uphill gallop to the steeplechase… this was our only icky fence on course. He saw the flyer but I told him to wait (no flyers allowed) and add one more. He did it, but in a very derpy uncoordinated unicorn leap type of way. Evidence:

How he can jump so derpy and still be so tidy with his knees is beyond me, but he gets points for waiting when I told him to. After the steeplechase fence was the big long hill, which he seemed to take great joy in galloping up.


We hopped the log at 12, then I pointed him toward the first of the down banks. My plan was to ride it aggressively, with the “over or through” mentality, and circle after 13 before taking the up bank at 14. You can do this legally without incurring penalties as long as it’s clear you weren’t presenting your horse to the fence before you circled. So I called twice that I was circling afterward, pointed him at the down bank, tapped him on the shoulder with the whip, and wouldn’t you know it – that boy never even so much as thought about hesitating. He was like “Oh look a bank – WHEEE!” and I was like “Well what the hell…”. So much for it being a problem. It was quite the expressive leap off the bank but I’ll take it. We circled around some trees, tried to avoid running over the jump judge, then hopped up the bank at 14. Then it was back down the hill…

To the hanging log at 15, and 3 strides to the next down bank. I gave him a little growl just in case but again he showed zero hesitation and leapt right off. With gusto. Lots of gusto.

After that it was a pretty straight shot to The Decapitator at 17 (thankfully I didn’t decapitate myself on the low hanging branches, and I’m sorry Greenwood for calling your fence that). I slowed down just a titch headed to the last since we were slightly ahead of time, and to do a rideability check I rode him to the close quiet distance, and he politely cantered the flamingo fence like no big deal. We crossed the finish line 6 seconds under optimum time, giving us a double clear XC.

To say I’m proud of him doesn’t even come close to expressing it. You would never have known that it was only his third time out and that he’d never been to this facility before. He did absolutely everything I asked, he did it with joy, he loved every second of it, and he remained totally rideable the whole time. It felt EASY. I totally could have ridden 13 to 14 straight through. This BN course that was pretty hard and technical and had me feeling like we were in way over our heads rode like a walk in the park. I think he would have jumped around Novice if I’d asked him to, and what a great feeling that is, to be sitting on a confident horse. That feeling is exactly why we do this.

Even better – we moved up to 6th after XC. Sadly we were only one point away from that AEC qualifying placing we needed (darn that cheap rail in stadium!) but I don’t even care. I’ve never “lost” and felt so much like a winner at the same time.

Henry really outdid himself this time. I knew going into Greenwood that I was asking a lot of him. He stepped up to the plate in a big way, and I’m so thankful for it. The Best Boy: pro status.

Greenwood recap Part 2: dressage and stadium

The format for the lower levels at Greenwood meant that we did dressage and stadium on Saturday and XC on Sunday. Since I was in BN Senior (note to self: start entering Horse instead of Senior) my ride times were quite late – dressage was at 2:33 and stadium was at 4:31. That resulted in a very long morning of boredom.

Henry got to walk around and make a new friend with one of the tack shop trailers

Then he stood out behind the barn and grazed while my friend Amy and I enjoyed the sunshine and nice breeze. Granted, he seemed to be more interested in giving me a tongue bath than in grazing. It was a strange experience, he wouldn’t stop licking me, covered just about every inch of bare skin, and I might be a little traumatized.

Then he got braided

Then he took a nap (thanks buddy)

And then finally – FINALLY – it was time to get on for dressage. Since this was only our 3rd horse trial, I’m still learning the best way to prepare him and warm him up. Based on our experience at Pine Hill a few weeks ago where he got pretty tense in the warm-up and had a bit of a meltdown mid test, I changed my entire approach. This time I got on an hour ahead of time, walked for a while, trotted a little, cantered ONCE, and then spent the rest of the time walking and trotting, doing the same exercises that we do at home, and lots of halts and free walk. I didn’t ask him for brilliance, I just asked him for obedience and tried to keep him relaxed. I opted to go without spurs, which I normally wear for dressage work. I knew I would be giving some points away with this approach but I want him to learn that dressage is no big deal and to just relax, so I chose the good experience over trying to get every possible point and risking a brain overload. I didn’t have a trainer with me to validate that decision, but it’s what I knew was the right thing for Henry so I went with it.


He was a little flat and on the forehand and not really pushing much from behind, but he was super chill so I left it at that. When we were on deck they let us into the inner warm-up area to prepare to go into the ring. Again I just walked, halted, did some trot leg yields, and patted him and told him he was The Best Boy.


Then they rang the bell and in we went


We didn’t have much brilliance, and our canters were heavy and leaning on the inside shoulder (I missed my spurs at those moments) but he was very calm and obedient and happy. I was thrilled with him. The score didn’t reflect it (we got a 37) but this test was miles better than the one a few weeks ago at Pine Hill that got a 31. Funnily enough our best score from this judge was a 7 for our halt, which is usually one of our lowest scores. Everything else was a 6 or 6.5, which I’m ok with because at least it was consistent! This judge was harsh, but she was harsh to everyone so it was fair. After dressage we were in a 3-way tie for 6th, and only 2 points separated the second through ninth place horses.

After many cookies, a quick bath, and a graze, it was time to get ready for stadium. I just hopped on and did a quick 10 minutes of trot and canter, hopped two fences, and let him chill by the gate. He went in and marched right around without a single peek, and honestly he was super. The traffic on the road that I was a little concerned about the day before when I walked the course didn’t bother him at all. Sadly, we had a really cheap rail at the last fence. He just barely ticked it with a hind foot (I should have done a better job of keeping the power in the canter going up the hill) and it toppled out of the cup. I find it so much harder to ride these little fences well than it is to ride the bigger ones.

That rail dropped us to 9th, which was both a big bummer and a bit of a relief. On one hand it meant my chances of getting a top 5 placing (which I need one more to qualify for AEC’s) were slim to none. On the other hand, it meant that the pressure was off for XC, and if we had a problem with the banks I could just use it as a schooling opportunity.

I ended the day with mixed feelings about our situation but a whole lot of pride for my pony. So far he’d done everything I asked of him and done it like a pro, no questions asked. You just can’t be disappointed with that, no matter what place you’re in.

Tomorrow – XC! On to the fun stuff.

Greenwood recap Part 1: pre-game and pimp cups

The haul up to Greenwood on Friday took us 4 hours, and the borrowed truck (thanks Erin!) and trailer made the drive like champions. We unloaded, found our stall in the very cozy tent stabling, unhooked the trailer, and then tacked up Henry to go explore the property.


He was a little tense and neighed a couple times, but settled ok. I mainly did lateral work and down transitions to loosen him up and keep his brain quiet… I didn’t see a point in picking on him too much since the goal was to try to just keep him relaxed. I mainly stuck to the SJ warmup area since it was empty, then walked over to the dressage warmup (the upper level horses did dressage on Friday so it was bustling) and he bug-eye stared at the dressage arenas for a while. This was his third event ever, and the first time he’s ever shown at a place where he had never been before.




He got a bath and some hay, then I set off to walk XC. My friend Amy gave me the most amazing circus pony cup, which is now my new official Course Walk Pimp Cup. Since it’s obligatory to walk the course with a cider in hand, you might as well do it in amazing style.

Side note: the Pimp Cup still needs a name, if anyone out there is feeling creative. She’s awfully pretty to just be called Pimp Cup.

Once I found the XC start box (I’ve never been to this facility before, and it’s huuuuuuge) and set off on my course, I felt pretty good about it in the beginning. The first half of it was in the woods, and the jumps were all pretty simple and little. The first one of any substance was 6, a log oxer, but I knew it would ride just fine as long as we kept coming forward to it.

There was a little mini Trakehner at 8 that I thought he might look at, but he’s jumped a bigger one before with no issue so I figured – same deal – just keep coming forward and it’d be fine.

The second half of the course is what really made it a beefy BN. After the Trakehner we popped out at the top of a hill in a big field, which was pretty visually impressive. We had to make a hard right down the hill to the water, which was just asking for a runout, then a couple strides out of the water over a rolltop. Henry is good about water but still, this was going to require an aggressive ride because it was just so visually imposing as we came down to it.

There were a few more simple fences after that, then a long gallop up a big hill and over a log, after which there was a sharp left and a fairly short approach to the dreaded banks. 13 was a down bank, about 2′, then 3 bending strides to 14, an up bank. That’s a pretty technical question for BN. It’s a REALLY technical question for a BN horse with a history of hating down banks. This is where I started to pee myself a little.

Then it was down the big hill to a simple hanging log… but 4 bending strides after the log was another down bank. You gotta be kidding me right? Two down banks on BN, both of which are close enough to another jump to make it a technical question as well. Not only that, it went from light to dark and after the down bank was a fairly short approach to a fence that had trees around it in such a way to make it pretty good test of steering (I called it The Decapitator). Continue peeing on oneself and wonder why the hell I came to this mini Rolex BN course.

Hanging log, then the drop is on a bending line to the right, then past that in the trees you can see the red “Decapitator” fence.

After that it was a little bit of a gallop to the last, a cute little fence decorated with buckets and plastic shovels and flamingos.

I pretty much chugged the rest of my cider at this point out of stress, walked the course again, peed myself over the down banks some more, then wandered around and looked at some of the 2* fences to make myself feel better.

Then I wandered back and walked the stadium course, which at first I thought was set to BN height but figured out it was actually set to Novice. So at least THAT would look simple and tiny.

The course looked nicely designed and flowed well. It was in the front field right next to the road so I thought that might be a little bit of an issue but stadium is our easiest phase so I just walked it once, made a plan, and put it in the back of my mind so I could continue stressing about the down banks instead.

After a graze and some dinner I said goodnight to Henry, told him to put on his Big Boy Pants for the weekend, then was off to stuff my face and eat my feelings.

Tomorrow – dressage and stadium…