If The Bonnet Fits custom fly bonnets – Review

When I found myself in need of a new bonnet but my regular bonnet maker was on hiatus, I wasn’t really sure where to turn. I’m too cheap (ie poor) for DLC or Talisman but at the same time I’m really picky about materials, fit, and execution. Most of them just miss the mark for me in some way or another. I had a bonnet from If The Bonnet Fits last year and liked the execution and fit, but it wasn’t made from mercerized cotton, which I really prefer. So when I saw on facebook that she was starting to offer mercerized cotton, I jumped at the chance to be one of the first to try it.


She was also offering a new shape – a more contoured side edge to reduce the amount of extra fabric under the sides of the bridle and around the eye. I decided to try that option too, and because I’m always super difficult (sorry world), I also asked for ear embroidery. Although she isn’t quite set up to do embroidery yet on her own (I hear it’s coming soon!) she moved heaven and earth to get it done for me and make sure it was done well. Excellent customer service.

The tapered style (top left, bottom right) compared to the classic style

The price was extremely economical – mercerized cotton bonnets start at only $45, which includes 2 rows of trim (cord, crystals, or pearls). Acrylic bonnets start at $35. Additional embellishments are $5 per row, lined ears for sound sensitive horses are $10, hand made tassels are $10, and custom bead strands start at $10. She can also sew patches on to the front. Her prices are much cheaper than most bonnet makers out there, with almost all the same options. The real question was – how would it look?


Answer: lovely. Really lovely. The fit is perfect – it comes to just the right spot above his eye, the squared edge is just the right width, the ears fit perfectly, and there’s enough fabric behind the poll to accommodate my wide PS of Sweden crownpiece. I really like the tapered edge, especially since my bridles don’t have throatlatches – the regular more square sides end up with a lot of extra fabric hanging out.




I searched the bonnet from top to bottom and back again, looking for something that I could grumble about and honestly I found nothing. The stitch ITBF uses is tighter than a lot of my other bonnets, which I have come to prefer. It doesn’t stretch out or snag on things so easily, and it lays much flatter to the horse’s head when in motion. No flipped up bonnet edge whipping around the ears, since it’s got a little more structure and weight to it.

ITBFHenry1 ITBFHenry2

Obviously I didn’t opt for crystals or beads or anything like that, just two rows of good old fashioned cord. Everything is securely attached and survived it’s first wash in pristine condition. Overall I would definitely recommend If The Bonnet Fits… the price you pay for the quality you get just can’t be beat.    


Playing by the rules

As someone who started in h/j, then switched to eventing, then switched back to h/j, and now back to eventing – I can attest to how different some of the rules are. Lifelong eventers are often astounded by how much is allowed in h/j, while at the same time h/j-ers are often horrified by some of the seemingly strict rules of eventing. I see some of this come into play amongst bloggers as well, with such a diverse group, that sometimes don’t understand the rules of the other sport. Since I just finished re-reading the Eventing section of the rulebook for the second time (it’s titillating reading material) I thought I would pull out the ones that showed the biggest difference between the two disciplines. For good or for bad, like them are not, it’s fun to compare and contrast and get a better idea of each sport.

Send us your money eons in advance and hope disaster doesn’t strike


OPENING DATE. The opening date for entries for Horse Trials will be the Tuesday prior to the date that falls six weeks before the first day of the competition.

CLOSING DATE. The closing date for entries will be four weeks after the opening date.

When you go to enter an event, this is the first thing you notice. They officially start accepting entries over 6 weeks prior to the event date, and officially close for entries 4 weeks later. That means you have to enter well in advance of the event itself. Some shows accept late entries with a fee, but not all, and in fact if the event has limited entries and you don’t enter right around opening date, you run the risk of not making it in. That’s a very stark contrast to h/j, where entries are generally due a few days before but are accepted at any time with a late fee. And in that world you can even enter/scratch from classes on the day they’re happening. Much less stressful. Then again, this is how eventing is able to have start times instead of a lot of hurry up and wait, and start times are amazing.


Put your number on – we’re watching you


1. IDENTIFICATION NUMBERS – By 3:00 p.m. of the day prior to the start of the entire competition, or upon arrival if later, each horse, including non-competing horses, shall be issued a number. This number must be worn at all times when the horse is being ridden or exercised.

Basically, in eventing, if someone is sitting on the horse or the horse is being lunged, it must have it’s number on. This is because, as you’ll see below, there are fairly specific rules about who can ride or work the horse and HOW that horse can be ridden or worked, so it’s important that the officials be able to easily identify each horse by it’s number at any time. In h/j you just have to remember to put your number on by the time you go in the ring, and you certainly don’t need it for lunging, hacking, or schooling.


You can’t ride that horse


RESTRICTIONS ON SCHOOLING HORSES. It is forbidden, under penalty of disqualification, for anyone other than the competitor who will ride the horse in the competition to school the horse during the competition

In h/j, anyone can ride any horse at any time on the showgrounds. Your Grandma Maxine could hop up there and warm your horse up for you before your class if you wanted her to. Not so in eventing. Only the person who is showing the horse is allowed to ride it at the competition. The only exception is a groom being allowed to walk or trot the horse just to get it from one place to another. That means no trainer rides or trainer warm-ups (unless the trainer is the one showing the horse), which is fairly standard practice in h/j.


Let’s help everyone not kill each other in the warm-up 

The only practice fences that competitors may jump are those flagged fences provided by the Organizer. No part of the fences may ever be held by anyone while a horse is jumping. These fences may not be raised more than 10 cm (4 inches) above the maximum height permitted for the competition in progress (or about to begin), nor may the spread exceed the maximum permitted. Ground lines may be placed directly under, or up to 1.00 meter (3’3”) in front of, the obstacle. These practice fences must be jumped in the correct direction.

In eventing warm-up rings, the warm-up jumps are flagged. You are only permitted to jump those fences, and in the correct direction, with the red flag to your right. In addition to that, you’re only allowed to jump a certain height fence in the warm-up – no more than 4″ higher than the maximum height of the level you’re competing in. The jumps are set to the appropriate height by the show staff in between divisions, and it’s rare that anyone actually changes the height of one. Usually there will be at least an oxer, a vertical, and a crossrail. Sometimes more fences, sometimes not. This is obviously a stark contrast to the h/j warm-up where you can jump the fences whichever way you want and change the height however much you want.


You might die, so secure your medical history to your body

MEDICAL CARDS/MEDICAL BRACELETS. An approved and completed medical card or medical bracelet is required any time while jumping. Medical cards must be enclosed in a transparent, waterproof carrier. Medical cards must be securely attached to the competitor’s upper arm on the outside of the competitor’s clothing. Medical bracelets must be visible on the competitor’s wrist. Medical cards must include any relevant medical history, injury (particularly to the head), drug allergies and current medication.

In eventing you must have a medical armband or medical bracelet for the jumping phases. I wear my medical bracelet 24/7 so I never have to worry about forgetting it, or get into a situation where I need it but don’t have it. You definitely don’t see h/j-ers showing with their medical history affixed to their arm. (I think I just heard a couple dozen h/j-ers say “because our sport isn’t INSANE!” Touche, my friends… touche.)


Gadgetry – NOPE


EXERCISE AREAS. Side reins are permitted only while lunging an unmounted horse, as are running reins and chambons. Other martingales, any form of gadget (such as a bearing, running or balancing reins, etc.) and any form of blinkers, are forbidden, under penalty of disqualification.

Yep, it’s true, you can’t ride your horse in draw reins (or a neck stretcher or a german martingale etc etc) at an event. I’ve seen more than one newbie get in trouble for this one, but it’s very commonplace in the warm-up rings and victory gallops/awards in h/j.


No stuffing things in their ears

DRESSAGE e. Martingales, bit guards, any kind of gadgets (such as bearing, side, running or balancing reins, etc.), reins with any loops or hand attachments, any kind of boots or leg bandages and any form of blinkers, including earmuffs, earplugs, hoods, nose covers and seat covers are, under penalty of elimination, strictly forbidden. Protective fly hoods made of thin material are permitted. However, these are subject to inspection by the Officials at the end of the test to ensure that nothing prohibited has been added (i.e. special material) or is covered by the fly hoods to protect from sound.

Earplugs or sound-proofed bonnets are not allowed in dressage. Anyone want to fathom a guess at what percentage of hunters go in earplugs?


You can’t ride in there

Disqualification – Ground Jury may disqualify a competitor in the following cases when, in its opinion, the action constitutes unsportsmanlike or abusive conduct: b. Riding in the Dressage arena or in the Jumping arena prior to the actual competition, EV108.2c. c. Riding close to Cross-Country obstacles prior to the actual competition

This is similar to jumper rules, but eventing takes it one step farther. You aren’t allowed to ride in the dressage ring or the jumping ring at all before the competition (exception: some big events have “ring familarization” where you’re allowed to walk around or lead the horse around the ring a little beforehand) whether the course has been set up yet or not. Sometimes warm-up areas will be very near or on the XC course, in which case you’re not allowed to ride close to any of the fences. And yes, the stewards are watching. Of course, for hunters, they are allowed to school in their ring and over their fences before showing.


Calling dressage tests and learning how to shut up

Dressage Rules 2. All tests must be carried out from memory, and all movements must follow in the order laid down in the test. 7. The use of the voice in any way whatsoever or clicking the tongue once or repeatedly is a serious fault involving the deduction of at least two marks from those that would otherwise have been awarded for the movement where this occurred. 

Eventing is different from straight dressage in that no one is allowed to call your test for you. In theory there should be less tests to remember, and therefore no real need for a caller. But as is also true with straight dressage, the use of voice aids is not allowed. Yup h/j-ers, no clucking or audible whoaing allowed in dressage.


“Unauthorized Assistance” aka you’re all alone in the world and no one can help you

UNAUTHORIZED ASSISTANCE. a. Any intervention by a third party, whether solicited or not, with the object of facilitating the task of the competitor or of helping his horse, is considered unauthorized assistance and the competitor is liable to be eliminated. b. In particular, the following are forbidden: 1. Intentionally to join another competitor and to continue the course in company with him; 2. To be followed, preceded or accompanied, on any part of the course by any vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, or horseman not in the competition; 3. To post friends at certain points to call directions or make signals in passing; 4. To have someone at an obstacle to encourage the horse by any means whatsoever

Hey h/j-ers, do you like having your trainer at the ingate to murmer wisdom to you as you pass by or help you remember what to jump next? At an event, once you enter the ring in dressage or stadium, or leave the start box on XC, you are completely and utterly on your own. No one is allowed to help you in any way – not to point out your next fence, not to cluck at your horse, not to yell even a simple instruction like whoa or sit up. Doing so can get you eliminated. Eventers – make sure your friends and family know this. Slap some duct tape on their mouths if you need to. No one wants to get eliminated because someone else was just trying to help… we’ve all heard the chorus of “SHHH!!” when a well-intended but uninformed spectator starts clucking.


Please god don’t jump from a standstill

CROSS COUNTRY Refusals. 1. At obstacles or elements with height (exceeding 30 cm), a horse is considered to have refused if it stops in front of the obstacle to be jumped. 2. At all other obstacles (i.e., 30 cm or less in height) a stop followed immediately by a standing jump is not penalized, but if the halt is sustained or in any way prolonged, this constitutes a refusal. The horse may step sideways but if it steps back, even with one foot, this is a refusal.

This is one that even some eventers seem confused by, so I threw it in here. On XC when a jump is over 1′ in height, it is considered a refusal once the horse has come to a complete stop, even if he then proceeds to jump from a standstill. The only time a horse is allowed to “jump” from a standstill without penalty would be in the case of a ditch, down bank, water crossing, etc. Some people think that it’s not a refusal until the horse takes a step backward but that’s not the first determining factor – the fence height is. Jumping solid fences from a standstill is unsafe and therefore not allowed without penalty. However, it is allowed to jump a fence in stadium from a standstill without incurring a refusal (same as in the jumpers).


Pace yo’self

6. WILLFUL DELAY. A competitor is considered to have willfully delayed his finish if, between the last fence and the finish line, the horse halts, walks, circles, or serpentines. The competitor will be penalized at the discretion of the Ground Jury.

There is a certain time window allowed on cross country that you must finish in to avoid incurring penalties. Sometimes people end up going too fast, look down at their watch at the end, and then try to eat up some time between the last fence and the finish flags by walking or circling. That’s not allowed and can earn you 20 penalties for willful delay. The only thing really close to this situation is Optimum Time classes in the jumpers, and I have actually seen someone circle before crossing the finish to give themselves a few extra seconds. OT classes still seem pretty rare though, and therefore knowing how to feel your correct speed and keep track of your time isn’t such a priority in that world.


What do y’all think about these rules and the differences between what’s allowed in h/j vs eventing? Are any of them surprising to you? For better or for worse. There are some things I really like, some things I don’t, and some things I accept begrudgingly. H/Jers and dressage folks, what do you think some of the main differences are in the rules between your discipline and eventing?

Doin’ thangs and makin’ plans

I sent off an entry for a dressage show yesterday. Yes, a dressage show. Pretty much the only type of show I’ve never participated in. In a way it’s a little exciting because it’s just two dressage tests and then you’re DONE. Much less crap to take with you, absolutely nothing to stress about, no courses to walk a thousand times. On the other hand you don’t get to do anything fun after dressage, which seems like the whole point of it in the first place, so it’s kinda like:

But since it’s a little schooling show, if you want to do classes outside of the specific ones they offer – which are USDF Intro through Second – you can write in whatever test you want. You have to do them HC, but whatever, I don’t care about ribbons anyway. Novice Eventing Test B and Training Eventing Test A (because I like to confuse the hell out of myself figuring out how to make a semi-symmetrical 15m circle), here we come! I reject your tests, USDF. Who wants to halt twice in one test? Not me. Definitely not Henry.

POOF! Brain explosion.

Aside from that, I also sat down and wrote out my list of shows for the fall. It’s kind of a mirror image of our spring season, except at a different level.

  • Aug 29-30 USEA Corona HT: Novice

I’m a little bummed that it sounds like they’re dumbing their courses way down from the event we did in May. But the May one was also listed as “good for first timers” and that was a huge BN course, so we’ll see what this N course looks like. Hopefully it’s not too basic.

The biggest BN fence ever, from May’s Corona HT
  • Sep 24-27 American Eventing Championships/Adult Team Championships at Texas Rose: Beginner Novice

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m 2% sad that we qualified at BN for this, but there’s no way we would have had time to qualify at N without a lot of serious last minute hustle. Plus I’m pretty stoked about the ATC with all my friends at BN, so that makes it all worthwhile. It’s gonna be a hell of a fun week. Unicorn paraphernalia is taking over my guest room already.

  • Oct 10-11 USEA Greenwood HT: Novice

Reeeeally excited about this course, it’s legit and I love Greenwood. There’s a little corner, and a bending line down bank to log, trakehner, jump out of a big crater, giant steeplechase brush fence, ditch, etc. All the cool stuff.

❤ Greenwood
  • Oct 31 USEA Pine Hill HT: Novice

Pine Hill is always awesome, and hopefully the weather in October will be a bit better than it was in April (so muddy).


There’s an h/j show I’d like to go to in November but we’ll how to see how my schedule and bank account are looking by then. Of course now that I’ve written out a plan, let’s see how much Fate decides to laugh in my face.

KEP Italia: buyer beware?

There’s a thread on British forum Horse & Hound that has been making it’s way around the internet this week about an incident with a KEP helmet and subsequent customer service. If you haven’t seen it, go read it here. Be forewarned, it’s a really long thread. If you aren’t really interested in devoting that much time to being properly horrified, here’s a summary:

Girl falls off horse when he stumbles while trotting in the grass. She lands on her face/chest, impact somewhere near her temple area. It was not a hard fall. She was able to immediately get up, key in her phone’s PIN code, and call someone to catch her horse (so obviously not too terribly concussed or confused). The helmet looked like this

Her own words: “As you can see the panelled design of the hat cause the hat to fall apart on impact. In fact the hat was no longer on my head after the fall but was hanging in pieces around my neck, held together by the harness!”

Luckily aside from some abrasions and bruising she was uninjured in the fall.

Let’s take a moment to say Holy Crap. A helmet should not crumple apart like a chocolate orange upon impact, especially a fairly light impact. I cannot imagine the damage that could have been done if she’d been stepped on or kicked after the helmet fell apart. Granted, that’s my personal opinion.

So let’s give KEP the benefit of the doubt for a minute and say “Well let’s see what KEP has to say. Maybe this is a weird one-off situation.”

Here’s where KEP really shot themselves in the foot. Brace yourselves.

“I spoke with KEP Italia this morning and informed them of my accident and that their hat had fallen apart on impact. They told me that they do not deal with customers directly and will only deal with the distributor. They told me to follow procedure and to take the hat back to the shop I bought it from, they will return it to the distributor, who will then return it to KEP. KEP will then carry out an investigation and will either offer me a new replacement hat or they will repair the old one

Ok, what???

Repair the old one? WHAT? Never, under any circumstance, should a helmet be repaired after a fall. But maybe she just heard them wrong. Surely they didn’t say that, right? Luckily KEP themselves came onto the thread to speak up for themselves, thus taking away any possible misinterpretation. KEP’s response said

“When she called the person who answered the phone had not been informed about this issue and didn’t know who she was. She thus received the standard answer, including the request to provide photos via the retailer when she had bought the helmet. We usually ask our customers to at least see the photos, so that we can see what the issue is. Of course in Mrs. Smith’s case, the helmet cannot be repaired. ” and “he set some examples and talked about replacing, repairing and refunding, like we always do.”

So in fact, according to KEP, it is their “standard answer” to offer to replace, refund, or repair a helmet. Wow. Even if it’s something as minor as replacing the harness, this seems like a huge liability to me. I can’t imagine the possibility for lawsuits if someone sustained a serious injury in a “repaired” helmet.

Never fear though, it actually gets worse! KEP goes on to say that perhaps this person isn’t being truthful about the nature of her fall

“I’m really sorry to see Mrs. Smith’s reaction against our helmets after her fall. I would like to explain to her that a such a breaking of a helmet during a fall can only be caused by strong impacts received at the moment of the crash, or by the kicking or rolling of a horse on the helmet.”


assuming Mrs. Smith is not liar, we suggest one of a few things:
. that Mrs. Smith fell on a harder ground than she thinks, or that she fell in a more powerful way than she recalls;

that Mrs. Smith’s hat was not properly fastened (this is a very common situation unfortunately) and that she lost the helmet after she fell. In this case the horse might have stepped on the helmet in its effort to stand up after falling, or that it stood on the helmet in any other way;
Another, and worse, thought came into our mind: that someone might intentionally be mounting up this case with the precise purpose of damaging KEP Italia’s image. KEP Italia is a growing company and we know for sure that some of our competitors are reacting in a bad way to this, some of them even scaring off kids at shows by telling them stupid and false stories. “

So they went from calling her a liar to saying that perhaps she was making all of this up on purpose just to sully KEP’s image. Unprofessional doesn’t even begin to cover an accusation like this. Neither does astounding. There are really no words.

KEP also posted this text from their helmet’s instructions, which indicate that this helmet is in fact DESIGNED to destruct upon impact.

“Although this helmet reduces the chance of injury, in some circumstances injuries cannot be prevented. This helmet was not designed to protect your head if crushed by a horse. The degree of protection provided by this helmet depends on the circumstances of a particular accident. Using a protective helmet does not always prevent death or long-term disability. This helmet is designed to absorb the energy of a blow through partial destruction of the shell or protective padding material or both. This damage may not be visible and therefore any helmet, which suffers an impact, should be discarded and replaced by a new one as it may have exhausted its ability to absorb further shocks.”

I don’t know about you but that seems really concerning in a sport where there are often secondary blows beyond the initial impact. I’ve fallen a lot, I’ve seen helmets take a lot of impacts, and I’ve never once seen one completely split apart like that. If the helmet falls apart when you hit the ground, what happens when you then get stepped on, or fallen on, or if you end up bouncing or being dragged?

But yet again, let’s pretend we can move beyond that…

Someone else on the thread spoke out about a similar thing happening to their helmet and didn’t have many nice things to say about their opinion of KEP. The KEP representitive sent that person this private message:

“We are aware of your defamatory words against our products and our company in various posts on this Forum.
Please stop saying lies about our company. We ask you to take your responsibility for what you say and reserve the right to take any legal action against you if you do not cease to defame our company in the continuation of these posts.”

So basically… if you don’t like our helmets, you better shut up about it or we’ll threaten to sue you. What in the world is going on here, KEP? It was bad enough that the helmet split apart, but the ensuing words and actions from your company have turned this into nothing short of a complete and utter fiasco.

After reading this thread on H&H I took to Tumblr to see what all had been said about these photos there. Again I figured let’s play devils advocate and see if this really was in fact a one-off type situation. Several people on Tumblr came forward and said they’d had the same experience. I was able to contact 3 of these people and confirm that yes, their helmets also split apart upon minor to medium impact. One of them was told by KEP that this is how they are designed to work. The other two were told by KEP that they had never heard of this happening before. I don’t know if y’all are confused, but I sure am.

So, I encourage everyone to go read that thread on H&H and see how this played out with your own eyes and form your own opinions. Especially if you own or are considering purchasing a KEP helmet. The things posted by KEP are very thought-provoking, to say the least. I have no doubt that when KEP finds this blog post they will threaten me with legal action as well, but at this point this is a huge safety issue AND a huge customer service issue, and IMO it just can’t be swept under the rug and made to “disappear” with threats.

Well, I weekend failed

The weekend itself wasn’t a fail, but my attempts at documenting it via media definitely were. We went XC schooling on Saturday so I had my helmet cam charged up (or so I thought), cleaned within an inch of it’s life (I am determined to de-smudge), and made sure my phone was at 100% so I could get someone to video. I was feeling so prepared. That’s never a good sign.

The one picture I took. Go me.

Come to find out later that I must not have charged the GoPro correctly after all, because I got about 5 minutes of helmet cam video that consisted of me putting my bridle on and getting on my horse. Womp womp. I also forgot to ask anyone to take video of me. Womp womp again. But nevertheless we got to school some fun stuff, including the Training water and the big double banks down. This was my first time actually getting to do a real school with Amanda – I’ve just done course walks and XC warmups at shows with her before – and I had already told her about our past issues at the down banks. She was awesome with helping me fix my position, and Henry was very happy to plop very calmly down them over and over while I got my shit straight. It was a long overdue lesson for me and hopefully the end of any bank issues for either of us.

obviously not Henry, but those are the big double banks he plopped down

In general it wasn’t really our best schooling ever… him having two weeks off for his heel grab has left me with a pretty fresh horse right now, so he was just a bit full of himself. Mainly expressed in tiny dolphin leaps, flipping me the bird when I tried to half-halt, and being kinda spooky. I’m not shitting you, he leaped way up in the air over a patch of dark grass/sorta mud because MONSTERS. I also probably could have used more bit than my fat KK loose ring. That’s just not normal Henry. But despite all of that he was still honest and happy to jump everything so I can’t complain much. Next time hopefully I’ll actually be able to have a normal riding schedule beforehand and be sitting on a more typical Henry for an xc school.

Sorry about the epic blogger media fail. I promise to not try so hard next time and to definitely not prepare so much… success will be infinitely more likely.

5 things I (don’t) need Right Now

I’m finally getting back on a normal riding schedule as of yesterday (yay), but the past couple weeks have been rough waiting for Henry’s foot to heal. And when things get rough, I start dreaming about stuff to buy. Because retail therapy is real, y’all. I’m also at that point where it’s just not possible to accrue that much more stuff, because I really have just about everything one person could need. But WANTS, however… those are different.

1) Navy Lorenzinis. For no actual good reason, just because they’re super pretty. I never gave them a second look until I saw someone with them at Texas Rose, and now they live solidly in my dreams. I will never be able to justify the cost of them considering I already have two pairs of nice stirrups, but that doesn’t make them any less amazing.


2) 20 x 60 “I Need” shirt. If only the word coffee (I hate coffee) was replaced with cupcakes or cookies or martinis or pounds of cheese, I would own this already. Truer words have never been printed on a shirt.


3) PS of Sweden Ice Ice Baby browband. Let’s set aside the topic of the awesome name for a second, because I need to point out that this browband matches my dressage Ogilvy perfectly. If that’s not fate I don’t know what is. Damn you PS of Sweden for continuing to create beautiful things that I can’t resist buying. The day this hits the web store, it’s mine.


4) Continuing on the beautiful blue theme, Luxe EQ posted this pic a couple weeks ago from one of their new lines – Anna Scarpati. The shirt doesn’t even need an explanation, and the breeches have piping on the pockets PLUS silicone knee patches. Done.


5) Mango Bay + Navy. That’s all that really needs to be said, right? The anchor belt is awesome, I must have it.


Oh and throw these in for good measure, while we’re at it. I might need to permanently borrow $19,500 from someone. Volunteers?

It’s my exact saddle in a monoflap version!!!

craigslisttruck kiefertrailer

Thank god we’re going XC schooling tomorrow so I can go back to obsessing about riding my horse instead of buying things I can’t afford.

What about all those goals, anyway?

2015 marks the first year that I have ever, in all of my 31-ohmygod-almost-32 years of life that I have actually written out goals for myself in black and white. And then made them PUBLIC, no less. I figured now that we’re more than halfway through the year it’s time to check in and see how we’re doing.

Qualify for AEC’s – WE DID IT!!!

Score below 35 in dressage AND finish on that score – We did this too, twice so far.

Get an actual, honest to god stretchy trot circle from Henry – This has just started happening consistently in the past couple months, but it’s TOTALLY there now.

Score a 7 or above on our free walk – We’ve done this twice so far too. In our 4 tests this year we’ve gotten two 6.5’s, a 7, and a 7.5 on the free walk. Now I’m getting greedy and want an 8.

Stop being such a pansy about the down banks – I’m over them. Henry is mostly over them. They ain’t no thang no mo’.

Be more fit – Um… this comes and goes. Mostly depending on my schedule and how stressed out I am from work, because that makes me want to eat my feelings instead of exercise them. It’s not a total fail but it’s not a win yet either.

Keep Henry happy and healthy – This is ongoing so I won’t cross it off, but I’m extremely happy with Henry’s mental and physical state right now.

Improve my attitude toward dressage – I really don’t hate it as much as I used to.

Get a 4-legged bun in the oven – Circumstances did not work out for this to happen this year, but plans are in place for next year.

Mighty Magic sur le cross, étalon Holtein par Mytens xx x Heraldik xx, vice-champion du monde à 6 ans et champion du monde à 7 ans de concours complet
Here’s a clue about those plans


Be more appreciative of my awesome SO – How he hasn’t killed me yet, with how much I’ve been MIA this year, is a mystery to me. I think I’ve done well with this goal, when we actually see each other, but I can’t cross this one off yet because it’s ongoing.

Be less selfish – Umm… I’d say I’m 50/50 here. It’s hard to be less selfish when you’re really really self centered, but I’m trying.

Continue to always be as honest and transparent as possible while still being as kind as possible – I feel like I’ve actually done pretty well with this but it’s also ongoing, so no crossing it off yet.

Travel more – Yay Belgium and France! And Philly I get to see you twice in one year. Does traveling to horse shows count too? Because I’ve seen a hell of a lot of Texas this year.

This horse that I met in Belgium is another hint about the 4-legged bun in the oven plans

Get at least one more tattoo – I swear I’ve kind of tried, it just hasn’t happened. Soon, I promise.

Compete in at least 2 triathlons and place in the top 3 – Ok, in my defense, the triathlons I had in mind when I wrote this got cancelled, and the other one that would have worked was on a horse show weekend. I haven’t totally given up on this but my schedule and those cancellations have made it pretty difficult.


Move to my own domain name. – It took me longer than I had planned, but I did it.

Roll out a more polished, clean look. – While the current look isn’t quite the custom design I had in mind, it’s better.

Keep staying true to my original intentions. – So far I’ve done it, but it’s another ongoing that I can’t cross off yet.


Overall not too shabby, but there’s still more work to do in the next 6 months. You can tell that my life has been super horse focused this year and not very focused on personal things. I kinda love that, but I should probably be a little better about finding balance.

How we’ve changed since we started eventing

Besides the obvious things like the addition of xc and dressage work to our repertoire, the extreme amount of tack I now own, and the change of barns/trainers, I looked back and realized that some other things have changed too. Mostly little things, a few bigger things, but it’s funny how a change of sport can sometimes mean a change of perspective and shift in priorities.

1) Henry is hairier. I’ve never been a fan of clipping whiskers, but whiskery noses and hairy ears at h/j shows just aren’t really done. Well… Henry always kept his ear hair but I hid it under bonnets. Now the only things that get clipped are his fetlocks and bridlepath. And in the winter he can keep his leg hair, or even get a trace clip, and that’s totally normal.  Long live leg hair and nose whiskers – I don’t like how you look but I appreciate why you’re there.


2) Henry is fitter/thinner. Now that we finally got his diet fixed, he’s leveled out at a good healthy weight. And I don’t mean hunter fat as in “there might be ribs under there somewhere”, but an actual honest to god correct weight with just the hint of a rib. He does conditioning work regularly with trot and canter sets and is more fit, even with our limited riding schedule this spring, than he’s ever been since I’ve owned him.

3) I’m more obsessive. I’ve always been a crazy person about legs and feet, but now it’s a little off the charts. I know every bump and lump on Henry’s legs more than I know my own. This is a hard sport and we do it on all kinds of footing. The obsession is warranted. How long can one person spend researching different ice boots, crippled by indecision? Answer: 5 months and counting.

4) Along the same lines, the importance of certain things has changed. What used to be concern over a sunbleached coat is no longer – now the concern is having him spend as much time outside and walking around as possible. They only come in when the weather makes it necessary – be it extreme cold or heat or storms. Sure he’s a little yellower than he used to be, and his tail is looking kinda orange, but I couldn’t care less.

5) We jump less. I used to jump 3 days a week. Now it’s once, maybe twice. There’s just so much other stuff to work on, and so much to DO. And honestly – as the rest of it gets better, the jumps get better too. All the crosstraining really compliments each other.

6) Safety issues that were once kinda on my radar are now front and center. Eventing is dangerous. There’s just no way to argue that galloping over solid fences is the safest sport one could choose to do on horseback. So while it’s been years since I swung a leg over a horse without a helmet, now I’ve found myself researching safety standards, comparing ratings, paying more attention to the “expiration dates” on my equipment, etc.

7) I wear what I want. Let’s be honest, eventers have a reputation for being a little crazy and often borderline tacky. I figure you can either be offended by that, or you can embrace it. I choose to embrace it. I never would have incorporated yellow into my color scheme if I was still in the jumper ring, and I sure wouldn’t have bought white breeches with sparklies all over the back pockets. I might not even have any PS of Sweden bridles (the horror). But I love them and I give zero shits if anyone else does. I mean, what else would you expect from an eventer, right? So liberating.


8) I’ve gotten used to “going it alone”. I can count on one hand the number of h/j shows I ever went to without a trainer. It just isn’t really done, and the few people that DO do it are usually the ones that really need a trainer. But in eventing it’s not uncommon, and I feel like I’ve actually learned a lot more about my horse and myself this spring as we’ve gone to all of these events (except one) without a trainer. I’ve had to really learn what works best to warm Henry up, what I need to get myself mentally ready, and how to be confident and do a good job on my own. To be honest, I’ve come to prefer it. Lessons are what we do at home. Executing what we’ve learned is what we do at shows. Being able to focus 100% on myself and my horse, to think for myself, to use my own judgment, and to learn to trust that judgment – it’s awesome. It’s built up my confidence a lot.

9) I appreciate my horse more for what he can do and focus a lot less on what he can’t. Henry is not the scopiest horse in the world. In Jumperland, he’s a Low Adult horse and that’s the end of it. He also isn’t particularly fast, so he’s not the winner in the jumpers. As an eventer, he has a lot more going for him. His dressage, while still average, continues to improve. Although he isn’t a fancy mover, he still has the potential for good scores as he gets more and more steady and correct. He’s careful enough (and so rideable) to be good in stadium, and while not immune to a random rider-error rail here or there, generally he tries not to touch anything. Of course, XC is where he really shines. I am so appreciative of his bravery and willingness – things I never would have known the true depths of if we’d stayed in the jumper ring. As a jumper I liked him. As an eventer I adore him.

10) I have more opportunities. Partly because of the above, but mostly because it’s a cheaper sport. Let’s face it, never in my life would I have had 8 A-rated jumper shows on my calendar in one year without winning the lottery. But I can do recognized events for HALF the cost (or even less), so I can compete at the recognized level without my bank account laughing itself to death. I also never in a million years would have found myself qualified for and attending a national championship competition in h/j land. Never. But here we are. And we’re not limited to just this year… the opportunity exists next year and the year after that, on and on. It’s a little surreal and really really fun.

There are some things I miss about h/j land, don’t get me wrong. But change is has been good, and it’s fun, and it’s the right thing for the horse. To be honest, it’s been a breathe of fresh air for me too. Thanks Henry for the journey.

Henry still exists too

It’s been all “Sadie and Merlin” mode over here lately, mostly because they’re adorable and nothing has been going on with Henry anyway.

Do you still love me???

He had a week off after he tried to rip his foot off, and he looked sound last Wednesday in the round pen but since I was leaving to go see Sadie and her baby I just gave him off until Saturday. I did a light hack in the ring on Saturday morning and he felt AMAZING – that first week after a Pentosan shot is always lovely – right up until he didn’t. Because Henry is kinda crooked and base narrow in front, he tends to interfere a lot. Specifically, he tends to whack his heel bulbs with his other front foot. He managed to whack his grabbed spot a couple times and stung himself, taking some lame steps before he worked out of it and went back to amazing. Sunday we went on a walking only trail ride at Granger Lake and he did it there several times too. First I tried with a bell boot which seemed to only serve to irritate it more, so obviously it’s just really sensitive still. And he can’t seem to keep his feet off of each other well enough to not sting himself continuously, because he is a derp.

Trail riding is still fun too though

We’re supposed to go XC schooling this weekend, which we really NEED to do, so he’s going to get a few more days off and then a really light end of the week in the hopes that his owwie toughens up a bit by then. Honestly he kind of seems like a big baby considering how non-wound-like his “wound” looks. No broken skin, only a few top layers missing. Technically he’s sound, but then he whacks it and it stings, so technically he’s not. We’re in that lovely in between phase. Hopefully a few more days and some venice turpentine will do the trick.

Must go XC schooling and debut the new rainbow neck strap

Otherwise we continue to basically just stare at each other and be really boring. I groom him and give him cookies and slather various ointments/sprays onto him. Yesterday as I was putting my stuff away I realized that I had used fly spray, fungus among us, heal quick, listerine, venice terpentine, and fungus spray all in one grooming session. I really need to ride again so I have something to do besides slather this horse in product from head to toe.

fly mask blowout

In other news, it looks like I’ll be back at AETA next month, which I’m pretty excited about. Another entire weekend of cool horse stuff everywhere! Brace yourselves for round 2.

Meet Merlin

Last Thursday I made the 5 hour trek out to West Texas to see Sadie and meet her baby. He has officially been dubbed Merlin and he’s kind of the cutest thing ever. Not that I’m biased… he’s not my baby, but he’s my baby’s baby… does that count as biased? Probably. Anyway, trust me, he’s adorable. It’s really neat to see the things that Sadie passed down (a lot) and the things that the stallion Mezcalero improved (longer neck, more uphill canter). That colt has legs for miles and is super super springy – definitely a jumper. Sadie is the best mom… very attentive and totally in love with him. It’s pretty cute to see. Not only did she produce a great first baby, she’s good at the “mothering” thing and seems very content with her new role.



She’s teaching him all the important things, like how to jump over hoses


As for Merlin – he’s an athletic little bugger. He loves to run


And jump

He’s brave and athletic but still careful about where he puts his feet

Although his feet don’t spend much time on the ground anyway


He’s VERY itchy and will curl himself up like a pretzel and almost fall over if you scratch him just right (as demonstrated by Michelle)

He’s also bold and brave and very curious


Someone is going to get a really nice colt with this one.

Merlinpose1 merlinears

Michelle and I also talked about Sadie’s future plans and future babies. Some really fun stuff has been decided but I don’t want to announce anything for certain until it’s more ironed out. Let’s just say I can’t wait! 😉