AEC Recap Day 1 – Dressage

On Wednesday when we arrived in Tyler I rode Henry in the dressage warmup and did quite a bit of canter work. That meant his brain came a little unglued and he was tense and over sensitive, so on Thursday we just hacked and stretchy trotted around. By the time Friday’s dressage ride finally rolled around, we stuck to what is now our standard warmup of w/t work only – no canter.  Henry was moving really well for him (thanks to the glittery loaner Devoucoux that you met in Episode 2 of The Shitshow) and felt about as good as I could have asked for.


Our hack the day before seemed to work to reset his brain, because he was very relaxed and obedient in warmup. We were able to ask him for a little more connection, a little more forward, a little bit of lateral work, and we got a few really nice circles. Then we just walked and chilled out because it was getting pretty hot by then and Henry thought he might die of heat stroke.


When we walked in the ring I felt Henry perk up just a little but he stayed relaxed and obedient. We picked up the trot, went past the judge and exchanged Good Mornings, she blew the whistle, and then into the sandbox we went.


I took a page from Emma’s book with the video and put in the scores and remarks for each movement, because she’s brilliant.

All in all I was pretty thrilled with his test. I let my accuracy go a little bit a couple of times for the sake of a calmer movement, and there were things that obviously could have been better but Henry held himself together unbelievably well in such a highly charged environment. We even got an 8 on a transition! He was shaking his head a little bit a few times – a bug must have somehow made it past the dense forest of squirrel hair in his ears – but he was polite about it and stayed focused. I actually found myself pushing him forward in the walk, whereas not so very long ago it was more a matter of trying not to break to the trot. Henny gets 5 gold stars for maturity on this one, I’m so incredibly proud of what a good boy he was.



For as much as I disagreed with the comments on my test from Corona last month, I really spot on agreed with all the comments this time. AND we got the much coveted “needs more energy” remark!!! HA! On a horse that has historically been nothing but a ball of nervous energy in dressage, that’s an epic win in my book. If the judge thinks he looks too quiet, I’ll take it!


My goal score going into AEC was a 35 and we smashed that out of the park with a 30.8, our second best score ever. But more importantly, it really was the most relaxed he’s ever been in the rectangle. He exceeded all my expectations, especially considering we really haven’t done much of any dressage work for the past month or so.


Our 30.8 was respectable enough to put us into a tie for 13th place after dressage, which is a good 7 places higher than I even dared to hope for. Best of all, 13th place put me solidly within striking distance for an individual ribbon, since they place through 12th. Remember how I said we would have to be incredibly lucky to get a ribbon? This is when I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, we could pull it off.


As for the team, after dressage Team Always be a Unicorn was ahead of the second place team by 5 points. Exactly where we wanted to be, leading right out of the gate and leaving all the other teams with nothing to do but hope we messed up. Now it was just a matter of hanging on to that lead with everyone else breathing down our necks. Nothing like a high pressure situation to make a national championship a little more exciting.


The Shitshow 4 & 5 – Two Part Finale

Sunday was kind of a long and extremely boring day. I think we were all brain dead and exhausted so we mostly just sat around all day and didn’t shoot much footage. Until we opened up all of our swag at the hotel, that is. Then we shot like 10 minutes of footage. Because yes, there was THAT MUCH SWAG.

So, I separated Sunday into two episodes – the footage we shot during the day, and then the footage that is The Unveiling Of The Swag. And man… I love love love all the swag. It barely fit in my car. Free cool shit is my favorite thing in the entire world, especially when it comes in mass quantities.

For those who don’t want to dedicate another 10 minutes of their life watching me and Bobby be idiots, for the Team Championship we won:

  • Noble Outfitters Ringside backpack
  • full set of Easyboot Cloud boots
  • An embroidered Saratoga cooler
  • $250 from USEA
  • A pair of FITS breeches
  • a year subscription to The Chronicle of the Horse
  • a pair of XC boots from Professional’s Choice
  • a $75 Smartpak gift card

I think that’s it. Plus the awesome neck ribbon, which is almost enough to convert me to a satin lover. I have to figure out how/where to display the ribbons and medal, because these are officially the first ribbons that I will never throw away. Oh, and the metal plaque thing. Need to figure out a home for that, cuz it’s pretty cool.


Bobby of course won waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than that, with TONS of awesome stuff, but I’m not gonna list all of his out here because it’d take forever. So if you want to see his loot you’ll have to watch the video. I was tempted to kill him in his sleep and take it all.

Tonight I’ll start working on recaps of the rides themselves, finally. Hopefully I can remember how everything went, because dressage feels like it happened forever ago.

Shitshow episode 3 and spoiler alert

We are on our way back to Austin this morning with the horses so I have no time to start official write ups and recaps today, but I do have this picture to share. Spoiler alert:

Some of you might have seen this one of Bobby floating around ALL OVER THE INTERNET

And I finished editing Episode 3 of the Shitshow last night. This is footage from Saturday, cross country day.

behind the scenes at AEC

Official Course walk and an epic WOOPS

So, we had the most awesome Shitshow Episode 2 and I made a MASSIVE oops while it was saving and accidentally permanently deleted the entire thing. I’m super bummed about it, and that means there isn’t an episode for today. BUT – we do have the official course walk done, which is here, and ended up being fantastic:

I PROMISE we will have another Shitshow episode tomorrow, even better than the first one, once I stop pouting over losing all the epic footage from today. 😦

I do have this one clip that Sherri got from our Unicorn Races last night… it was tons of fun.

And pictures:

Just wait til y’all see my glitter saddle…



The Shitshow Episode 1: Behind the scenes at AEC

As promised, The Shitshow starring Amanda and Bobby: Episode One. Your behind the scenes look at the American Eventing Championships 2015! Episode One features some snippets from our drive, our arrival, the unveiling of the coveted competitors packet, a little bit of hack footage, and a preview of THE UNICART.

The audio kind of sucks when we’re in the car but hopefully you can hear it alright. It gets better once we’re out.

Behind the scenes at AEC

Let me know if there’s anything else that you’d specifically like to see and we’ll do our best to cover it!

On Being Enough

I will be the first to admit that I’m a really hard person to please. I always want more, bigger, better… I constantly seek what’s next, and I’m very competitive. Those aren’t such bad qualities in general, I don’t think, but it does mean that I rarely take the time to stop and just enjoy the moment. Today, the day that we’re making our way to Tyler for the American Eventing Championships, I’m going to take that moment.

When Henry did his very first event last November and I subsequently made the goal of getting to AEC this year, at the time it was pretty far-reaching. At that point he had cross country schooled twice, done one event (with a refusal), he really didn’t understand contact at all, and I’d been out of the sport for 12 years. Dressage made my brain feel like it was going to explode, and I couldn’t ride a down bank properly to save my life. AEC was our Mount Everest.

Then he came out this spring and has just gotten better and better as we’ve gone along. He’s been so brave, and so game, and tried so hard for me every step of the way. When you’re sitting on a horse that always tries and really loves his job, it becomes easy to forget just how different things were such a short time ago.  We qualified for AEC in only 3 shows and moved up to Novice in June. We actually have the qualifying placings to run Novice at AEC, but would need one more completion at the level. If you’d told me last year that we’d be in that situation right now, on the eve of Championships, I’d have laughed in your face. And yet I had the audacity to be kind of bummed that we’re “only” running BN at AEC… and what a jackass frame of mind that is. I felt guilty as soon as I thought it. It’s not fair to me, it’s not fair to my horse, and it’s not fair to anyone else.


Thousands of people would trade places with me in a heartbeat and I know that. I have to set aside my ridiculous overambition and self-criticism for the next 5 days and just enjoy how far we’ve come. I know that I would have to get really lucky to snag a ribbon in this group of horses, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. This sport isn’t supposed to be about ribbons and awards, it’s supposed to be about the partnerships we make along the way. We’re going to do the best we can, and that’s enough. My goal is to simply enjoy my horse and be ridiculously proud of him for getting us here in the first place.


Henry is a lot of wonderful things, but a dressage star he is not. Neither am I (understatement of the year). He’s come a long way from the horse he started out as and I’d like to think that I have at least marginally improved as a rider, but I know it’ll take quite a while for dressage to really come to us. I also know that BN and N are largely dressage competitions. I’m okay with all of that, even when I’m sitting there pouting about my scores. I owe a lot to this horse… he’s making my dreams come true and saving my ass a lot along the way. On the flip side, he owes me absolutely nothing. He’s goofy, he’s ridiculous, he’s plain, he’s not a good mover, and he’s very sensitive, but he is utterly golden all the way to his core. You just can’t fault a horse for trying too hard to please, even when it comes out in the form of tension in the rectangle.

So no matter what happens over the next few days, be it last place or a much coveted ribbon, I am going to enjoy and appreciate my horse. I’m going to be happy with us and proud of us, and I’m not going to belittle this milestone in our partnership. He is enough. I am enough. This is enough. I adore and appreciate Henry, and I hope he understands that as much as a horse possibly can.


And with that… away we go.

The 10 Emotional Stages of Selling a Saddle

I’m sure the roller coaster known as saddle selling is familiar to almost all equestrians. At some point in our lives, or at many points in our lives for the truly unlucky, we have to suffer through this emotionally hellish experience. It’s a very tempestuous time, and not many of us come out on the other side unscathed. Let’s break down the process in gif form.

1 – Worry

First there’s worry. Worry that your saddle doesn’t fit you or your horse right. Worry that it won’t work out. Worry that you’ll have to SELL IT and buy something else.

2 – Sadness

Then you confirm that the saddle in fact does not work, and you do in fact have to sell it. Cue unrelenting sadness.

3 – Panic

After the first wave of depression begins to subside, you realize that you need the money from the current saddle to buy a new one. In the mean time, you have nothing suitable to ride in. Time to panic.

4 – Anxiety

Now that you’ve spent a few days hyperventilating into a paper bag, it’s time to list it for sale. Don’t forget to clean it, condition it, measure it 6 ways to Sunday, take approximately 9 million pictures, write up an ad, and plaster it all over the internet (because lets be honest, you’re still a little panicked). Feeling any anxiety yet?

5 – Annoyance

Don’t worry, the anxiety will soon be replaced with annoyance when you start getting a thousand messages asking for measurements and information that you already included in the ad. Because reading is hard. Try to stifle the sarcasm in your replies. Almost succeed. Just kidding, fail miserably.

6 – Exasperation

Then you get that one delusional moron that offers you half of the listing price. I guess they’re hoping either you REALLY can’t math or you have a serious drug addiction and need cash right this second to avoid prostitution. Now you’re officially exasperated.

7 – RAGE

Brace yourself for the next idiot. This one will ask you to send the saddle to her for a trial, promising to provide references to prove that she is “of trustworthy character”. When you say no (not just no, hell no), she lectures you for 5 minutes on the importance of saddle fit and tells you she MUST try it on her horses. You manage to keep it together long enough to suggest that perhaps she should try a tack shop that offers trials instead. When she replies and says she can’t because all the saddles like yours are significantly more expensive from a shop, hide all the sharp objects. You’re about to enter the phase of Pure Unadulterated Rage.

8 – Delusion

Consider riding bareback for the rest of your life. No seriously… really consider it. How bad could it be? You don’t really need your lady bits anyway. We’ll call this phase delusion.

9 – Love

And then finally, FINALLY that one sane person in the entire world comes along and a deal is struck. As you’re packing the box to ship the saddle off you consider including a small token of gratitude… like your first born child, or basket of puppies. That wouldn’t be weird right? Because now you’re pretty sure you’re in love with this random internet stranger who has rescued you from a pit of despair and/or a murder spree.

10 – Relief

Once the saddle has been dropped off at the shipper, you take a minute to enjoy the feeling. Relief and joy fill your very soul.. it’s like the first warm sunny day after a long brutal winter. You have money in your pocket, you’re liberated from answering 15 stupid messages a day, and now you’re free to buy a new saddle.

Oh shit. Buy a new saddle? Motherf*c#3r! Climb back on the emotional roller coaster, this ride ain’t over yet.

Weekend recap: countdown and a surprise 

Only two more days til we leave for AEC! That means the weekend was spent cramming lots of stuff into what is kind of the last minute.  Ride Times:


The weekend preparations included but were not limited to:

Dying rainbow streaks into my hair. Team spirit, I gots it. And so does my pink and purple and blue hair.

I did one last jump school with Henry, probably just high enough to make him think that BN at 2’7″ is a hilarious joke. Please don’t have rails Henry. Please?

I also dyed Halo’s tail for Bobby, because once he stopped making fun of me for dying Henry’s tail he realized how awesome it looks. And Halo’s looks even better. Now when Bobby wins AEC he’ll have to thank me in his acceptance speech for making him and his horse look so bad ass.

Otherwise I mostly did laundry (had to locate all 7 of my unicorn shirts and 4 pairs of unicorn socks, naturally), finished some props for the course walk (it’s going to be amazing) and started making lists. There’s no way I’ll remember everything, but I’m gonna try.

I also fit in half a day of work on Saturday afternoon (woot, overtime), and when I couldn’t find my sandals I settled on the next best thing. Because I can wear whatever I want when no one else is around. I’m thinking I should do the mechanical bull riding competition at the competitor’s dinner in these bad boys…

Annnnnnnnnd, last but certainly not least: guess what I did on Sunday? Surprise!!!!

She needs a little cosmetic work, but she’s solid and I’m ridiculously excited.

It’s a party, and you’re invited

If you’ll be attending AEC next week, please consider yourself officially invited to our team party on Thursday night. Invite here:

We’ll be having unicorn races (you know you want to find out what that entails), pin the horn on the unicorn, drinks, Skittles, and swag for everyone. Riding Warehouse has even made a special promo code for us to give out (use “unicorn” for 15% off!) and donated gift cards for us to give away. It’s guaranteed to be a good time, and everyone is welcome.

If you won’t be at AEC and still want swag, don’t forget about The Sparkliest Contest Ever. You will win everything in this picture and MORE!!! Entries are due Monday, so you’ve got all weekend to unicorn it up. We’ll announce the winners after AEC.

I’m considering trying to put together some behind the scenes mini-webisodes (like 5-10 minutes long) to post while we’re at AEC… is anyone actually interested in watching those? It would mostly be me and Bobby doing whatever dumb things we will inevitably do, footage from parties, back at the barn, etc. Yes or no?

And totally unrelated, but I have a pair of tan Animo breeches (plain on the back, so suitable for showing) in an I-44 (US 30) for sale if anyone is interested! $120 shipped in the US.