Fun outing at Granger Lake

As I briefly mentioned yesterday, Brandy and I were able to dodge rain storms well enough to fit in a trail ride at Granger Lake on Sunday. I’ve been to Granger Lake before for camping and kayaking, but I’ve never ridden on the equestrian trails. It’s mostly open grassy fields, with just a few short detours through trees. It’s actually kind of perfect for conditioning work.

OMG whurr is we? There is so much NATURE! Nature eats horses.


nevermind, there’s cookies in here

We got there, unloaded, and tacked up quickly. Henry gave me the big eyeball like “What fresh hell is THIS?”. Poor horse, it’s a new adventure every weekend. For such a big brave event horse who never bats an eye on cross country, he sure did start out awfully looky. In Henry’s mind, unknown things are only safe if you’re cantering. Walking is when they eat you. So we snorted past the picnic table, and the gate, and the stick, and the bush, and the trees, and had a small baby cow at the super tiny water crossing (next time I’ll guess I’ll just canter it instead of trying to walk over it, I mean COME ON Henry are you serious).

Can’t cross giant river. Horse eating piranhas live in there.


Scary stick over there. Very scary stick. Horse eating stick. I think it moved.


Auto, they brought us here to kill us and eat us.



Then once we started trotting he put his brain back in his head and chilled out, so after a couple trot sets we mostly just meandered around on the buckle. The storms were rolling in all around us the whole time, which made for some neat pictures.

This area had obviously been flooded recently

Finally towards the end Henry seemed to actually relax and enjoy himself. He was no longer snorting at everything and walking around poised for a hasty exit at the first sign of trouble. Although he did leave poor tired Auto in the dust with his power walk.

buh-bye Auto! Don’t get eaten!

It was a nice fun outing, and only about a 30 minute haul down the road. Hopefully we’ll be able to go back regularly throughout the summer. It’d be an awesome place to do some gallops, with those long grassy stretches. But next time I’m not going first through the wooded areas… taking down all the giant spiderwebs with my face was horrifying.



Weekend Recap: Unicorns, Rain, and Perhaps an Early Baby

First of all – thanks to everyone for all the unicorn themed team name suggestions on Friday. There were a lot of great ones that we’ll have to sit down and look at! Also a huge thank you to Riding Warehouse, Mango Bay Design, Willow Tree Farm, and Gypsy Tails, who have offered to sponsor us and help get our team looking officially unicorny. I already put together a playlist of unicorn songs to be our soundtrack… you would be amazed how many unicorn related songs there are on Spotify. I had “Always be a Unicorn” stuck in my head all weekend, which is awesome for a few hours and then just really strange after that. I also might have picked up this amazing speaker on eBay for cheap. The unicorn tunes will be even better coming from a unicorn with a light-up horn. I thought for a second that maybe I was taking this too far, but then… neeeeeh. Not possible. I mean, feast your eyes.

I actually did manage to ride my horse all weekend. Friday we did a dressage school, with a lot of transitions within each gait and changes of bend. After our comments of lazy and needs more forward on our dressage test from Texas Rose, I figured it was probably time to consider re-approaching. The fun thing about having a green-ish horse is that they’re constantly evolving, and things that used to be an issue (taking forever to get connected, being really tense) aren’t anymore. Thus, the work we do at home and the way I ride him has to evolve too. I’m able to ask for more and more without having to worry so much about blowing his mind. No more tiptoeing through the tests. Saturday I set up a few pole exercises in the ring and we had a “jump” school. I had a bending line that could ride as a bending 3 or a very angled 2, and a line of poles that could be 3, 4, or 5 strides. Goal of the day: adjustability and straightness.

I told him if he didn’t go forward I was bringing the dressage whip

On Sunday Brandy and I had planned to go trail ride at Granger Lake in the morning but I woke up to this. UGGGHHH.

Sigh. The whole forecast this week looks wet and gross. At least we had a couple weeks of normal weather. Luckily there was a break in between lines of storms in the afternoon and we did manage to get the horses out to the lake and fit in a ride before more rain hit. Pictures tomorrow.

Sadie’s lessee texted me on Saturday and told me her milk was coming in quick. If we go by the theory of average gestation time, technically she’s not “due” for a few more weeks. However, 320 days is considered the minimum normal gestation and she’s at 319 today. The pH of her milk still tests a bit too high for her to be super imminent, but the calcium content indicates that it could be within the next few days. You can tell by her very pointy belly that the baby is moving into position, too. AND she’s been acting very sweet and cuddly… something is definitely up. Looks like we could have a baby soon! I think we’d all be a lot happier if she’d wait another week or so, but I’m sure in typical Sadie fashion she will do things however she damn well pleases. If you haven’t gotten in your guesses for the baby contest, today is the last day!

I have to admit, after 5 horse shows in two months, this weekend felt weird. We have no shows on the docket until AEC at the end of September and I might be having a little bit of withdrawal. We have an XC schooling weekend planned at the end of the month but otherwise nothing. I might have to scare up a dressage show or jumper class in the summer to appease my addiction and keep us on track. We’ve been on such a roll lately, it seems a little sad to have several months of nothing. I hope all the other bloggers out there with busy summer show schedules are planning on writing very detailed recaps! I’m gonna need a fix.

Adult Team Championships

The USEA Adult Team Championships are being held this year in conjunction with the American Eventing Championships. Since we’re already going to AEC, it didn’t take long for my brain to leap into “let’s get a team together and do ATC too!”. Because let’s be honest, I’m going to AEC purely to have fun and party horse-style for 5 days straight, and the only thing that makes that idea sound even better is having teammates to participate in the debauchery as well. Luckily 3 folks at my barn are all AEC qualified at BN and Adult Rider members, and we met another person at Corona HT that would be a great addition to our team as well. You need a minimum of 3 for a team, but 4 people allows you a drop score, so it works out pretty perfectly. Bobby and I have had a lot of time together lately (what a lucky guy he is) to formulate plans and ideas and all I can say is – this is going to be the best thing ever.

Bobby and I have this running inside joke about unicorns from the past couple horse trials (I won’t even begin to try to explain) so it makes complete logical sense for our team to have some kind of unicorn-centric name. We have no idea yet what that could be (IDEAS WELCOME!!!) but it has to be awesome. Because we’re awesome. And so are unicorns. We even have a unicorn themed Course Walk with Bobby planned for AEC.

We also found out that it is encouraged to find team sponsors to help cover the costs of or donate items for team saddle pads, shirts, hats, grooming bags, stall guards, banners, etc. The idea is to really make everyone feel like a team and make it as fun as possible, so they want people to go all out. Any money or items donated are also 501c tax deductable! How cool is that??  The ideas are already churning for what kind of swag we want to get and who might possibly want to sponsor us. I think I might actually be more excited for the Team Championships (and our epic Course Walk with Bobby plans) than for the individual AEC competition itself!

It just so happens that our 4th team member is a bartender, so our team will even have an official drink. Can’t beat that. What else do you think would be cool to have for team swag? Ideas for sponsors? Team names? Help us brainstorm! Has anyone else done an Adult Team Challenge or Championship before?

Here’s an article about one of the teams last year:

What I learned at Texas Rose

Every horse show weekend is a learning experience in and of itself, but that was especially true for Texas Rose…

1. Always watch ALL of the helmet cam footage, don’t just delete the excess. 

I’m not coordinated enough to be able to properly push the button to start the GoPro while I’m mounted, so I always turn it on when I put my helmet on and turn it off when I take my helmet off. This makes for a really long video file, which I just cut down to the ride itself and trash the rest of the footage. This time I accidentally left the raw video rolling in the background on my computer while I did something else and happened to hear my post-ride conversation with Bobby. It was too great to omit, so I made it into it’s own video. If you like cussing, burping, high fives, or Bobby – it’s pretty hilarious.

2. Saddle pad = stall door.

Henry is a bit of a dumb, and every time I closed his stall door he would start spinning and neighing in his stall. Solid walls with no windows… he was pretty sure that by shutting the stall door I was also removing all his friends. I tried tying his lead rope across the doorway and leaving his door open, but he kept putting his head under to escape. Then I hung a saddle pad over the lead rope and he was like “Aw man, now there’s a DOOR there, I can’t get out!”. Yes Henry, you’re totally right – that saddle pad is absolutely a solid door. Bless your heart. Worked like a charm though, I could leave him like that for hours and not only was he perfectly content, he stayed put.

I is not a dumb!!!

3. Hot pink underwear, while beautiful, are not wise.

I have this one pair of underwear that are so perfect for dressage. No seams, very soft fabric, the perfect size and shape. For real, they’re the holy grail of underwear. None of my others compare. Sadly, they’re also hot pink and I’ve never been able to find the exact same pair in white or beige. I skirted this problem by wearing an underlayer, thinking I was pretty smart. Then I sweated buckets during dressage at Texas Rose, my underwear bled through my underlayer and my perfect white breeches, and it looked like I had my bubble gum period. Luckily I was so hot I couldn’t muster up the energy to give a shit, but you’re welcome fellow Area 5 eventers for the entertainment.

4. Yelling “CHAMPIONS” at people is totally acceptable.

When you have a 4 hour haul to get home and are totally delirious from heat stroke and lack of sleep, it is perfectly ok to entertain yourselves by honking at strangers and yelling “CHAMPIONS!!!”. It works even better if you hold your ribbons up to the window and wave while you do it. People love that. It’s basically a parade.


5. There are idiots everywhere you go

If I saw one more person sitting on their horse immediately after XC, standing in the sun and chatting for a while, and then having the horse carry them all the way back to the barn, I was gonna throat punch someone. It’s HOT, the horses are HOT and TIRED, get your ass off your horse, loosen your girth, and get them walking in the shade. Come on people. It’s an animal, not a golf cart.

6. There are awesome people everywhere you go, too

Eventers are a pretty cool lot. Between the finish line and the barn I had 5 complete strangers ask me how it went and congratulate me, one of whom was an Olympian. You just don’t get that anywhere else. I have never in my life walked back from a jumper class and had a complete stranger ask me, with a smile, how my round went. It’s impossible to go to an event and come back without at least one new friend. Stay cool, eventing… you’re the greatest.

Rolex 2015 (I event therefore)

Texas Rose HT – cross country !!!

Our great stadium round on Saturday afternoon really boosted my confidence about XC even more… I woke up feeling ready to kick some ass and take some names. My ride time was 9:09 so by the time I got to the show grounds, fed, watered, cleaned the (disgusting) stall, and checked Henry out to make sure he was good to go, it was time to get ready. He looked bright eyed and bushy tailed, and I told him that the bank was going to look big and scary but to trust me and just keep going forward. He just pinned his ears and glared at me, then immediately begged for a cookie, which I’m pretty sure is Henry’s version of “Don’t insult me, I’m a professional. Now get me a cookie, slave woman.”. So I did.

Cookie for Henry? Henry. Cookie. Cooookieeeee. Me. GIVE.

I got on him around 8:45 and headed over to XC warm-up. Again my tactic was to keep it as short as possible so he didn’t get too hot (it was only about 80 degrees but also 80% humidity – gross). Since the cold water sponging worked so well before stadium, Bobby brought a bucket over and we did the same thing again. We took one big lap of the field at a trot, a couple laps at the canter, and opened up and re-collected his gallop a few times to check for rideability. After a little breather we jumped a coop and a table a few times under Amanda’s direction, one time of which I completely botched by micro-managing (thanks Henry for the butt saving, sorry I tried to kill us). I gave myself a stern lecture about letting the horse go forward and leaving him alone to do his job and we jumped it again with much more success. Amanda gave us her blessing and then off to the start box we went.

Bobby got short clips of us leaving the start box and then coming through the second water towards the end.

The awesome pro photographer got several great pictures, one of which is my new favorite picture of Henry EVER, but it could take a few days to get them so they’ll have to be a separate post.

But – there’s HELMET CAM! Sorry bout the early morning glare when we’re headed into the sun. It just is what it is. And I continue to fail at cleaning the smudges off the lens. Sigh. I guess I’m just a really smudgy person.

The play by play:

Henry came out of the box calmly and all business, looking for the first jump. He hopped over it easily and then we headed to the stair step. I thought he might be a little distracted by the highway traffic but nope – he focused on his fence and took me right to it. He jumped it so well, so balanced and with such good power off the ground from the base, right then was when I thought “We’ve got this in the bag”. He landed galloping after that and I let him go a little until the vertical logs at 3. He came back, but it took a few half halts. He was eating it up.

Then it was up the hill to the table at 4, which he jumped just as well as fence 2. I started getting a little excited about how awesome my horse is. I really wish I was a more eloquent writer so I could better explain to y’all exactly how he feels on cross country… it’s phenomenal. He’s made for this. Amanda suggested that we jump fence 5 slightly right to left so that we landed on a flatter surface instead of a downhill one. That worked out perfectly and let us roll right along to the up bank at 6 without as much interference from me. We jumped up the bank and then turned right to splash through the water and jump out over the cabin. He was a little surprised at the water but charged right through with no questions asked. The cabin was easy, and then I let him roll a little bit again to the table at 8.

After 8 I distinctly remember thinking “OMG I can’t breathe and we’re only halfway done.” and started trying to make a more conscious effort to exhale. Henry seemed non-plussed though, as he happily jumped the Trakehner at 9 (which he also jumped the crap out of, as you can see by the face full of mane that I got in the video) and rolled down the hill toward the oxer. Honestly at this point I was kinda just a passenger… which is why you see less of his ears in this video and pretty much only hear me saying whoa. I supported him to the base and kept him balanced but otherwise was trying to stay out of his way so he could figure things out on his own. Big boy pants and all that.

And then… the bank! Henry spotted it several strides out and I felt him go “What the holy hell is that giant CRATER?”. I gave him a little verbal encouragement, closed my left leg, and he surged forward again, cannonballing off the bank. If there was a picture, GERONIMO would be the perfect caption. We landed so far down the crater, and with such gusto, that I had to really sit him on his butt and stick my right spur in to get him turned left up the hill toward the chevron. It was a little bit of an “oh shit oh shit oh shit” there for a second (which I probably would have said if I had enough oxygen to say anything more than “whoa”), but as soon as Henry got his eye on the chevron he made a beeline for it. Fantastic pony is fantastic.

From then on I knew the rest would be smooth sailing. He didn’t even blink at the Weldon’s Wall at 13, and he was going so confidently that I took Amanda’s suggestion of angling the bending line at 14ab.

angling the B element

He honed in on both and rode perfectly through it, taking the second element at a pretty decent angle way to the right side. After that he pretty much just cantered home over the red cabin, through the water, over the ridiculously wide table, and then the last brush box. My goal for the XC was to let him make some decisions on his own, baby him less, and let him just keep coming forward… I feel like we accomplished all of that. We came in 15 seconds under optimum time to give us a double clear XC, finishing his first Novice on his dressage score of 36.3. I’m beyond proud of him and couldn’t help but get a little teary eyed when I hopped off and loosened his girth and thanked him for the ride. What an incredible opportunity this horse is – it’s an honor to step out of the start box with him.

Henry was absolutely foot perfect the entire weekend and really rose to the occasion, just as he’s done all season. And even better – we moved up to 6th after XC! Since it was an open division USEA has our amateur placing listed as 3rd… it’s kinda cool to see those 4 Novice Amateur points on our record. I couldn’t have asked for a better debut from this super pony.

On to AEC in September! At BN… boo. I kinda wish he handled the heat better so I could do another event and try to get more qualifiers at Novice instead, but it’s just too hot. We’ll go back up to Novice after AEC. This boy has earned his move up (and the entire jar of cookies he ate on Sunday).

Texas Rose HT – dressage and stadium

The great thing about being in the Novice Horse division was getting to run XC in the morning on Sunday, when it wasn’t 9000 degrees. The bad thing about being in the Novice Horse division was having to do dressage and stadium late in the afternoon on Saturday, when it was 9000 degrees. Bobby did his dressage around 11 and his XC around 2… he was 2/3rds of the way done (and in 2nd place in Open BN!) before I even got on for dressage. Grumpy and hot and ready to get it over with doesn’t even begin to describe it.

first attempt at dutch braids!

By the time I got on for dressage it was mid-90’s with 50% humidity. I’m a diehard about wearing a coat even when they’re waived, but I’d been a constant puddle for 8 hours already by that point and just couldn’t bear it. As soon as I got on I knew Henry wasn’t feeling it in the heat either, because he pretty much trudged to the warm-up ring like he was marching to his death. We trotted for a few minutes with my spurs basically embedded in his ribs before I realized I might as well just give up on the warm-up. I could either spend 30 minutes trying to get him forward and likely use up all of his energy before stadium, or I could just let him be and get through dressage with as much energy as possible reserved on tap for later. I chose the latter, because having a great dressage just wasn’t as important as having a great stadium. Not here anyway, where our mission was to finish with a happy confident horse.

Lackluster is a pretty good word to describe it. He was a good boy but he had no energy from behind and kept wanting to drop his head and fall on his forehand. For a 5 minute warm-up, I’m ok with that. Also, why is Novice Test A the longest test ever? God, even I was getting bored. But considering just a couple months ago his test was filled with the word “tense”, it was actually pretty amusing to get this test back and see “lazy” and “needs more energy” the entire way down. Our score of 36.3 (not gonna lie, that was a bit of an ouch) left us in 9th after dressage, but I was just happy to be done with it and ready to get on with the jumping.

so many LOLs

I only had a little over an hour between dressage and stadium, so I hosed him off and tied him in front of his fan to cool out as much as possible. After a quick tack change it was back on and down to the warm-up for stadium. Henry walked in, saw the jumps, and immediately went “I’M HERE TO PLAY, BITCHES!”. Totally different horse than I had in dressage warm-up, and in fact I handed my whip to Bobby lest I get completely run away with. We trotted a couple long and low laps, picked up the canter, jumped 3 fences, then went to the shade to wait our turn. He was huffing and puffing quite a bit, having a hard time with the heat, so Bobby kept sponging him with cold water which really seemed to help a lot. After what seemed like a couple of eternities it was finally our turn.

I was really really happy with the round. The rhythm was good, he was brave, he was careful, and it actually felt easy. He got many many pats and many many cookies for his double clear. I can’t wait to see what pictures the photographer got! Other folks were not so lucky in stadium, and we moved up to 7th place.

screen grab of the guitar jump because it was super cool

After Henry was bathed and put away, I was off to meet up with Amanda Merritt of Anchor Equestrian for an XC course walk to get some tips and pointers. She helped me at Greenwood too and I thought she was great, so I had arranged for the same “XC walk and warm-up” with her at Texas Rose as well. She had a few helpful tips and ideas on how to ride some of the more technical elements, which was greatly appreciated, and said she thought we’d be just fine. I thought so too, but it was nice to hear it from someone else who actually knows what they’re doing.

Cherry on top – JUST as we got back from the course walk we walked up to the video trailer (which was playing the Belmont on their big screens) right as the horses were turning for home. I got to stand there and watch a Triple Crown victory amongst a swarm of screaming horse people at a horse show on a video trailer screen. Pretty fantastic end to a great day.


Texas Rose HT: course walk and pre-game

For those of you who follow my $900 fb pony facebook page, you already know how this weekend turned out. But before we can get to the conclusion, first we’ve got to take a journey, and that journey of course includes a soon-to-be-famous (surely?) Course Walk with Bobby. Brace yourselves.

We arrived at Texas Rose Horse Park on Friday around mid-day, unloaded the boys, set our stuff up, checked in, and then got on to ride around. It was quite warm and humid so we opted to mostly just hack around the grounds, enjoying the beauty and wide open spaces of TRHP. It truly is the most beautiful facility in Texas, hands down. I can’t wait for AEC there.

One of four dressage arenas in the foreground and stadium warm-up in the background


riding with Bobby and Halo in the front field

AND THEN… it was course walk time. Bobby was doing BN and I was doing Novice, so first we walked our courses separately, then walked each others together. You know what sucks in 90 degree heat and crazy humidity? 3 course walks. But we’ve got a reputation that we’ve got to live up to now with our jump photos, so we suffered for the sake of art. Unfortunately, because we were about to die, we only did fun pictures for my Novice course walk. As suggested by Sarah, we did a “Where’s Bobby?” theme to start with, then it kinda morphed out of control as we got delirious from heat stroke, which is of course where things got funny.

nice inviting little fence to start with, heading straight towards the highway in the background


fence 2, a stair step box next to the highway


Very simple vertical logs at 3


decent size table at 4, off of an uphill approach


little slanty log on the hillside at 5


little up bank on an uphill approach. There’s water right behind that Training rolltop, which wasn’t flagged for Novice but if you didn’t go through it your approach to 7 was not gonna work.


cabin set a couple strides out of the water


another decent sized table at 8, very square but not too wide


to the Trakehner at 9


then it was a slight downhill roll to 10, the open oxer, which I thought looked small


11 was the down bank, which wasn’t actually that big of a drop but because it was set on a big hill, it looked ginormous when you were cantering up to it. Plus the landing was on a very downhill slope, which meant it would ride bigger.


to get to 12 we had to take a hard left after the bank and canter back up the steep hill, with the chevron jump at the top. This was a serious question because of the terrain.


straight ahead to 13, the Weldon’s Wall


14ab was two rolltops set on a bending line. Another good question, but I loved how there were a couple different approaches you could take on how to ride this. I dig it.


dead Bobby on the b element


another little house thing at 15, set a couple of strides before the water (which is shaped like the state of Texas. Because Texas.)


Our pimp cups took a water break at 16.


Another table at 17, this one not super tall but very very wide. Like 4 1/2 feet wide at the base. Honestly I tried not to make eye contact with it when I walked by.


and a cute little brushy box to finish

After the course walk I actually felt pretty good about it. I got a few raised eyebrows from friends when I chose Texas Rose as our move-up, because it’s not known to be an easy course, but I actually walked off feeling like this could potentially be perfect for him. The course was open and gallopy, which suits him well, and he has zero water issues so having two water crossings was no biggie. I thought there were a couple of legitimate questions but nothing super hard or unfair… it’s really well designed and flowed nicely, and there was a little bit of everything. Water, tables, trakehner, related distance, weldon’s wall, etc – great variety. The only thing I wasn’t too sure about for Henry was the giant-looking down bank followed by the sharp turn back up the hill to the chevron. Otherwise I felt like as long as I rode him forward and positively, he’d handle all of it just fine. Nothing looked super big to me either (except the width of 17, mother effer that thing was as wide as a house), which I thought was a good sign.

After the course walk I put XC out of mind because first we had to get through Saturday – dressage and stadium!

Reminders, thank yous, and stuff for sale

Just a quick one today, I’m headed out the door for Texas Rose…

First, big thanks to Martin of MDC for replying to everyone’s questions and comments on my MDC stirrups review post the other day. It’s not often that we get to chat back and forth with a product’s creator in the comments section! He’s still reading and replying.

Second, don’t forget about Sadie’s baby contest! It’s easy to enter and the winner gets a $25 Riding Warehouse gift card. Sadie is getting bigger and bigger by the day.

Finally, I have a few things for sale if anyone might be interested:

Animo light blue long sleeve polo shirt, size I-42 (fits like a 34-36). Also worn very little and in great shape. $50

Annie’s Tardis blue full seat breeches, size 30. Worn maybe 10 times, in great shape. $50

5.25 or 5.5 (need to measure) Nathe loose ring. $50

Full set of Tekna fancy stitched boots, open front and hind ankle in brown. Size cob – they run big, these fit Henry with some room to spare. $45

Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunter tan full seat breeches size 30. Small light stain on the rear seat area. Good schooling condition. $45


Barn friend Bobby is also selling his Point Two Air Vest:


Brand new, never used Point Two ProAir Riding Vest – Adult Large/Red (4 cartridges included)

This air vest provides inflatable protection in the event of a fall. It clips across the chest and lays flat on the body, much like a garment, for a comfortable non intrusive feel. In the event of a fall, the CO2 cartridge is activated to instantly inflate the vest for full upper body protection including the neck area. The inflated vest will stay inflated for 10-20 seconds when it will then slowly deflate. While the vest is inflated, the rider will have full movement of arm and legs. Can be worn over a traditional body protector for extra protection. Includes saddle attachment and lanyard. Asking $500

Last minute prep and ride times

Nothing like trying to cram all your prep for a move-up into the last week before show time! I’m not complaining one single bit, because I’m just beyond thrilled that it’s stopped raining and things are drying up. Henry’s been able to go out all week and the arenas no longer resemble lakes.

He’s equally thrilled to be back to work

Because it’s supposed to be hot and humid this weekend, I opted to cram more of my serious prep work into the beginning of the week and lighten his workload the last few days before show time. We had a dressage lesson Saturday, did conditioning work Sunday, jumped on Monday, then he had Tuesday off, an easier dressage ride last night, and gets today off, then we leave for the show tomorrow morning. For our jump school on Monday only half of the arena was dry, but it’s amazing how half of an arena feels like a gloriously huge space after a month of being surrounded by swamp. I set up a square oxer and a bigger vertical and made the best of our little area.

We were a little crooked, and it was hard to keep a consistent pace in the space, but Henry felt good considering we haven’t jumped in a while. I feel a little rusty, but hopefully he’s ready to go!

Last night’s dressage ride was really just to get him loosened up and thinking forward. At this point we’ve got whatever we’ve got, so there’s no point in trying to drill him now. I’ll be thrilled if he can continue being as relaxed for dressage at Texas Rose as he was at Greenwood and Corona. He was basically comatose last night!

They also posted ride times yesterday, and I’m very relieved to see that we’re running XC early on Sunday morning. Henry doesn’t handle heat very well and I was a bit concerned about having to do XC in the heat of the day on Saturday, so bullet dodged there. Of course, we have dressage and stadium in the heat of the day, but I can get him through those two phases a lot more easily. I spent the week sewing him an ice pack thingy that he can wear on his neck – a process that involved much cursing, blood, whining, and a burned finger. I figured if I made it I wouldn’t need it… obviously a sound strategy. I’m taking it anyway though because dammit I bled for that thing and he’s gonna use it.




I hope you’re prepared for more epic course walk debauchery, because Bobby is coming along to this event too. And here’s a gross picture of his face, because he thought he was being funny by putting this on my phone. I get the last laugh by putting this on the internet.

Let that haunt your dreams for a while.


Taming the butterflies

I think just about everyone who has competed in horse shows is familiar with nervous energy that comes along with it. If you’re one of those rare souls with ice running through your veins, count your blessings. I am not one of those people. To what degree those butterflies really affect us varies from person to person… some of us just feel a little bit of heart-pounding at the in gate, while others might be in the porta-potty barfing up their breakfast all morning.

I’ve always been the type of person that feels anxiety and nervousness at shows. I’m lucky enough that it’s never been super severe (no hyperventilating, no puking, no hysterical bawling in the warm-up ring) but it has definitely varied from almost none to feeling queasy. For a long time I tried really hard to conquer those nerves and force myself to relax. Eventually I realized how ridiculously futile that was, and it dawned on me that maybe I was looking at it from the wrong perspective. I have never succeeded in getting rid of my butterflies, but what if I could tame them and turn that nervous energy into an advantage rather than a detriment? It took time and a lot of introspection, but this is what has really helped me a lot and I’m hoping that by sharing it here it might help someone else too.

The first thing I had to realize is that nervous energy doesn’t have to be a negative thing, it can be positive too. Research has actually shown that nervous energy, when properly channeled, can help you perform tasks more efficiently and can improve memory. The butterflies are not our enemy. For me, recognizing that fact and learning how to make it positive has been the key to a happier horse show experience. That’s not to say that I win the battle with nerves 100% of the time, but it’s gotten better and better, and substantially improved after I changed my perspective on nervousness.

yes I just used a Beyonce quote

When I start feeling those butterflies creeping up on me, I take a deep breath and think “Ok self, you’ve got two choices here. You can let the nerves overtake you, fill you with doubt, and defeat you. Or you can embrace the feeling, use it to energize yourself and sharpen your focus, and go out there ready to kick some ass. Your choice.”. It’s my own little pep talk to myself, so to speak.

One of the first things we start thinking about when we feel anxiety is how many things could go wrong, and in how many ways. What if, instead, we thought about all the things that we could do to make things go well. After all, things are going to happen no matter what. We can’t do anything about that, and worrying about all the things that could go wrong does absolutely nothing positive. What we can do is figure out how to plan accordingly, how to react, and how to move past it. That’s what we’ve spent so long training and preparing for… at horse show time it’s just a matter of implementation. By the time you’ve gotten to the show you theoretically have all the tools necessary for success, all you have to do is use them. Success isn’t something that happens to you, success is something you make happen. And you can’t make it happen if you allow yourself to become debilitated by nervousness.

Whether it’s deep breathing, visualizing success, giving yourself pep talks, or even simply just smiling, the first step to handling the nerves is to stop the cycle of negativity. If you can’t get rid of the butterflies you might as well learn how to tame them and use them to your advantage. 

What do you do to help calm your show nerves and/or turn them into a benefit instead of a detriment?

Some useful articles for further reading:

The Hidden Power of Anxiety

Embrace the Butterflies: How You Can Use Your Nerves to Get Ahead

You Can’t Control or Cure Nervousness – Use It to Your Advantage

Stop Nervousness and Use It to Your Advantage