For most parts of the country spring is just beginning, but here in Texas we’ve been having spring-like weather for almost two months already. I don’t particularly love Texas or think that it’s a very attractive state in general, but even I will admit that spring in Texas is pretty great. It’s the only time that the grass is truly lush, and we get a pretty amazing assortment of wildflowers.
This spring has been particularly nice so far – temperatures are mostly in the 70’s and 80’s and we’ve gotten enough rain to keep things green but not enough to really impact our riding schedule. This probably means we’ll have a horrid summer, but I’m enjoying it while I can. The grass looks amazing, Henry is done shedding and looks sleek and shiny (yes, sadly this does mean his butt unicorns are gone), and the footing is perfect. I’ve especially been enjoying our hacks in the field lately.
Texans have this super weird tradition of plopping their kids in the bluebonnets and taking pictures, which I have never quite understood. Maybe you have to be a native to get it. But naturally SO and I (ok it was mostly me) decided to put Quinn in his best bow tie, plop his fat fuzzy ass in some bluebonnets, and take our own “kid” pictures. My fuzzy kid is way cuter than their regular kid, that’s for sure.
We’re also firmly into our show season now. Our first recognized event of the season is only 3 weeks away. Louisiana, brace yourselves for the Amanda and Bobby Shitshow invasion.
I’m sure this level of amazingness won’t last and soon I’ll be back to whining about flooding or 100+ degree temps or both, but for now… everything is beautiful and Texas doesn’t suck.
I haven’t updated you guys on little baby Merlin since the weaning post, but now it’s finally time. This is probably the last you’ll hear of him for a while, since a) he’s gone to a new home, and b) the first few years of a horse’s life are boring.
First important fact, which I’ve mentioned before: he ain’t little anymore. You may remember the picture of him with his 2yo friend that was his buddy for weaning:
He seems a lot like his dam (my mare), Sadie, in many ways. Starting with those big ol’ donkey ears and his amazing ability to wear his food on his face.
It’s been fun to watch him grow in pictures and videos… definitely reminds me a lot of Sadie when she was a baby. He’s bigger though. And fancier.
Merlin was sold well before he was weaned, and last week he left West Texas for his new home near Houston. He found the absolute best people and will someday end up in the jumper ring, so I think we’re all pretty excited for his future. He even got some seriously fancy digs for his first long trailer ride.
Especially when his new home is so great. I think Merlin must have been a little bit shell-shocked by all the green grass! West Texas definitely doesn’t look like this.
Sadie wasn’t so happy about the weaning thing, but she got over it and the barn/fences seem to have survived her wrath. Now she’s off at the breeding farm getting ready to be bred to Mighty Magic sometime in the next week or so. I’m trying not to think about it, because when I think about it I get super nervous. I forgot how seriously nerve-wracking it is to breed a mare, successfully get her pregnant, and then try not to die from anxiety during the 11 month gestation. It’s like having a knot in your stomach that takes up permanent residence for a year. Cross all your crossables that we get another one as nice as Merlin (although please not quite so big).
Now that I’m independently mobile and able to do lessons, schoolings, and shows whenever I want, I’ve become even more appreciative of Henry.
Having owned horses in the past that didn’t really load that well, or were nervous haulers, or weren’t trustworthy about standing tied at the trailer, or were screaming messes at shows, it’s REALLY NICE to have one that isn’t any of those things. At this point in my life it’s non-negotiable that whatever horse I have is (or learns to be) a good traveler, especially since I often travel alone. I didn’t even know how strongly I felt about this until I started traveling with Henry and realized just how easy he is and how much nicer that makes things.
He was pretty easy to start with, but over the past few months of adventures pretty much every weekend, he’s gotten to be a total road warrior. A couple weekends ago at High Point, for instance, I loaded him in the dark at 5:15am (he never questions my sanity in these situations), he was chill enough on the two hour trip to eat his entire bag full of hay, unloaded, looked left, looked right, and buried his nose in his newly re-filled hay bag, even with someone lunging a wild screaming horse only 20 feet away from the back of my trailer.
The day before that at Scissortail was the same thing, even with crazy wind and the fact that we were the first trailer there, I had no qualms about leaving him at the trailer with his hay while I went to pee and pick up my number. It’s nice to be able to take a leisurely pee instead of trying to pee as fast as possible to avoid your horse taking an unauthorized tour of the showgrounds.
What’s your stance on trailer/traveling manners? Are they a Must Have, or can you live with some more difficult behavior?
When I’ve had horses in the past that I didn’t trust to stand tied, I would leave them in the trailer instead. An easy remedy, but less so when your trailer doesn’t really have a lot of space to maneuver for grooming or tacking up. One thing is for sure – the next baby horse will spend a lot of time traveling and learning about patience, because I am never again putting up with one who isn’t easy. So thank you, Henry, for having good grown-up horse manners and making my life easier.
Except for that time you turned your bucket over on your own head and when I came back around the side of the trailer you were looking at me like “No idea what happened, this bucket totally just jumped on my head! Halp, I has water in muh ears…”
Three things are clear from yesterday’s adventure:
The Cambox is freaking awesome.
I need to figure out how to use it better and tweak a few things to make it perfect.
Bobby sucks at taking video.
Bobby was showing at MeadowCreek on Friday/Saturday, and he stayed over until Sunday so I could come meet him up there for an XC school. As soon as Henry came off the trailer and saw Halo it was total bromance mode.
I put the Cambox on my helmet at the barn but had some issues getting the adhesive to stick to the alcantara on the underside of the brim. Gonna have to play with it to get it secure enough for my liking, but there’s no doubt it looks a million times more sleek than the GoPro.
I also don’t think I charged it enough, or maybe I left it on in between filming, because I ran out of battery not too far into our schooling. Gonna have to play with that too. And I need to turn the lens a little more upward so you can see the fences better. Ok, so I learned a lot on this trial run. Mostly I just got video of the water (which wasn’t much footage when I trimmed off all the extra galloping stretches and walking):
Bobby got a little bit of video though, at least of the Training half coffin and another Training roll top.
I love this screen shot of Halo watching Henry. I think he’s coaching him through…
Then we jumped the scary giant T/P weldon’s wall and Bobby did this:
You had ONE JOB, Bobby! He says he got so excited he forgot he was filming. Or he’s just dumb… you decide. But here’s a picture of said Weldon’s wall from the front.
Henry was his usual good boy self, and it was a super fun and productive schooling. Once I get the chance to play with the Cambox a little bit more I’ll do a review, but so far I’m pretty happy with it. The design is awesome and it’s waaaay easier to use/less obtrusive than the GoPro!
Guess who got a real, genuine leather, CUSTOM saddle and is no longer riding in a Wintec? That’s right, this douchebag:
A few months ago I came across a picture of a really cool saddle on facebook that was in Bobby’s colors, so I sent it to him. He actually said it was beautiful, and I politely encouraged him to ask how much it was. It was made by a very small saddlery in the UK, so I thought maybe the price could be reasonable. And while yes it was SUPER reasonable for a custom saddle, it was a bit more than Bobby could justify spending. So he did what any self-respecting manchild would do and dropped many not-at-all subtle hints to his bf Dustin about what a good birthday present it would be. Dustin pretended to laugh it off, but he’s a devious one…
And so began the process of Dustin and I plotting behind Bobby’s back to get him his dream saddle. Dustin emailed the maker about ordering and payment, and I provided the fit details (seat size, flap length, forwardness, etc) and the tracing of Halo’s back. This was a pretty massive secret operation, trying to get the saddle just right but not let Bobby catch on to what we were doing.
Dustin was able to pull off the extra miraculous feat of getting the saddle delivered to him in about a month. Pretty amazing turnaround time for custom, and the saddle is beautiful.
When it arrived, Dustin asked me when I thought he should give it to Bobby and I said please god do it immediately. #1 keeping secrets as amazing as this one is physically painful for me, #2 if he’s gonna show in it on his birthday at his first recognized Training with Halo, he needs to ride in it a little bit first. Guess who legit cried when he got his saddle? He also told me he loved me. Twice. Just for the record.
Because Dustin is the best human ever, he also asked me if Bobby needed any accessories to go with his new saddle. I happily directed him to a real bridle (no more plastic bridle!) and a new saddle pad from Riding Warehouse, plus the saddle maker provided leathers with red stitching to match. He is 100% re-outfitted and ready to look like a total badass. My little Bobby is growing up!
I have never been so excited for someone else to get a present. I feel like we’ve all won here. I also want to go on record with a few direct quotes from a newly-reformed Bobby:
“My girth actually works. But wintec is shit so maybe I should go buy a fancy one for him.”
His comment after he gave me his navy saddle pad “It’s gross, it doesn’t match. I can’t have it near the saddle. It hurts my eyes. I’m buying another pad today so I have two schooling pads. White red or black…..”
I need a new skull cap. The very cheap, purchased-on-clearance one that I bought last year isn’t fitting me so well now that I’ve cut off 5″ of hair and all the padding inside of the helmet has compressed. There’s more slippage than I feel safe with, so I need something better.
The only other skull cap I’ve ever owned was a Charles Owen, and it was too round for my very long oval head. Granted, I don’t remember which model it was or how it compared, shape wise, to other models. So that’s helpful. The only other brand I’ve tried on was a One K and it was far too round as well. There are a lot of new brands and models out on the market since the last time I really truly shopped for one, but I’m not sure how all of them fit and I’m at a bit of a loss as to where to begin. There aren’t exactly a lot of skull caps in the shops around town, so I don’t have the luxury of trying a bunch on in person.
Since I really only wear a skull cap for XC, I don’t want to spend a ton of money. So – best long oval shaped skull cap under $200?
Of course the two that I’m most interested in, safety rating-wise and review-wise, are the Gatehouse RXC1 and the Champion Ventair Deluxe, which are only sold overseas. Typical.
But on the more entertaining side, while looking around at skull caps on random British websites (they have so many more options) I found plenty of helmets and helmet related accessories that I don’t want. Because it’s impossible for me to ever stay on task. And also because who wouldn’t be distracted by these things?
What, you haven’t gotten a tattoo with one of your parents?
My dad has all kinds of cool stuff on his goals list for the year, including run a half marathon (which he already did) and getting his first tattoo, which is now also a checkmark in the “done” column. I hope I’m this badass at 63.
On Saturday after the horse show I met him at his house and we went to get tattoos. He’s been wanting to get Pigasus and I have several on my list, so why not go together?
I got a quote (I have this quote on lots of stuff, just none of which are on my body or permanent):
Yes, more Narnia stuff. It’s a great quote and it reminds me of my mom, so it seemed perfect. The crown (hard to tell, but it’s purple) above the “C” in courage is from the logo she used for all of her quilting stuff:
Originally this show was supposed to be on the 13th, but we got massive amounts of rain and they had to reschedule. I was debating scratching either this one or the combined test on Saturday, but finally decided it could actually be good for us to compete two days in a row. Miles and all that.
This show was a derby – we had dressage first, then about an hour break until a mixed round of XC and stadium. There were 12 XC fences and then once you landed from the last XC fence you just kept going and jumped 7 stadium fences. I thought this could definitely be a challenge for us, considering that XC Henry isn’t exactly ideal for stadium. I also entered Training, and while it was soft, there were still a few max height fences and some combos. I was just hoping for a clear XC and maaaaybe a low ribbon. This show has badass prizes, and I wanted a badass prize.
Dressage was fine. I got on and let him canter a few laps until he relaxed, and basically warmed him up the same way as Saturday. It was really cold but he felt good… calm, in my hand, listening. If anything maybe a little too quiet, which I’m totally ok with. Considering we spent all of last year not cantering in dressage warm-up because his brain fell out afterward, I’m cool with too-quiet-after-cantering. He was a little more tense in the test itself, but overall ok (another “not brilliant, but not awful” test) and good enough for a 36.1 and 4th place after dressage.
After a quick course walk and tack change, back out to warm-up we went. We trotting and cantered a few laps, then I opened up and let him gallop a bit (Training speed feels really fast to my micro-managing self so I needed to get myself thinking forward), cantered three fences, then walked up to the start. Hopefully this is the last helmet cam video using the GoPro, since the new one should be here this week. I was having a hard time getting it to stay put, soooo sorry in advance for all the jostling. The damn screw thingy (technical term) doesn’t stay tight anymore.
I came out of the box a little aggressive, wanting to make time, and Henry was totally game on. My goal was to NOT pull on him or try to micromanage (my favorite hobbies), and he pretty much took me to everything without a second thought. Big white skinny ramp, ditch combo, bank combo, water… Henny got dis! Henny got dis a little too much at fence 9 where we almost died. Ok we didn’t almost die but I almost crapped myself. Note to self: ride better. Note to Henry: I’m still in charge. In general I tried to let him just flow forward, tried to stay out of his way, and we saved ground wherever we could.
I jumped the last XC fence in more of a hand gallop, since we literally landed and cantered straight ahead to jump 1 of stadium. He came back pretty politely and jumped the first three fences really well (and I found the base!), then wised up to what we were doing and tapped a couple (coincidence that it was the two fences I had a teeny bit of a gap to? Neh…).
His minimalistic efforts in stadium give me heart palpitations, but they stayed up and we finished double clear. We made time on XC too, so we ended on our 36.1, moving up from 4th to first!
The prizes did not disappoint, it was like mini-AEC. Two gift certificates, an engraved plate, an embroidered belt, a saddle pad, a hat, and a set of Equiflexsleeves. And we won the TIP award for Training (highest placed TB) which got us another ribbon and a Jockey Club backpack. I’ve been tying to win a TIP award with Henry for two years, so I was pretty excited about that!
Overall I’m pretty happy with how Henry handled everything. He was brave and happy, and is getting to be a total pro at hauling and standing tied at the trailer. It wasn’t mistake-free… it wasn’t one of those shows where I walked away feeling like I’d done a particularly great job (I could write another whole post about that), but in the interest of being less self-critical I’ll just say we dipped our toes into the shallow end of Training and didn’t die. We have a lot more work to do before we’re ready for “real” Training, but it’s good to feel like I’m sitting on a confident horse that likes his job and seems eager for more.
Now we go back to plugging away at lessons, then a recognized Novice in Louisiana next month, then more lessons. Keeping our sights on Coconino…
Yes, show recap #1, because we had two shows this weekend!
I was pretty sure I was going to die on Saturday. Let me explain.
I entered Training at both shows, and Wednesday was the first time I tried to run through Training test A. It was really bad. Like the worst ride I’ve had on Henry maybe ever. I never actually made it all the way through the test a single time. Then on Friday night a cold front blew through, dropping the temperature from the mid-80’s to the upper 40’s and leaving behind a 25+mph wind. I thought really long and hard about scratching, but instead I just sent Bobby a quick fb message to bequeath Henry to him and put on my Big Girl Pants.
I unloaded my horse kite (see below) around dawn, because naturally I was the first rider of the day. It’s a small venue geared more toward beginners, so I was the only one in Training. I tacked up my kite while trying to keep him attached to the trailer but off of my feet, took a flying leap onto his back like a spider monkey, and we snorted and spooked our way down the road toward warm-up. Yep… definitely going to die.
As soon as I got to the warm-up ring I got into as much of a half seat as I could manage in a dressage saddle and just let Henry canter until he quit spooking. It really wasn’t that long, maybe 5 minutes, then I was able to pick up contact, sit on him, and start warming him up for real. He was definitely tense but fairly obedient, so after a few lengthenings and some leg yield I decided to wander over to the ring and let him look at it for a few minutes before we went in. He hairy-eyeballed the potted plants at the letters and I could totally feel him stiffen from nose to tail when the big wind gusts blew, but what do you know, he went in there and was actually pretty good.
No movement was amazing, but none were awful either. A lot of the comments were “tense” (well… yeah the wind was literally about to blow us over) but I got the good ol’ “tactfully ridden”, which I’m pretty sure is code for “good job not getting killed”. Ha.
After a quick tack change (not really, I couldn’t even tack my horse up because the wind was blowing so hard, shit just kept blowing off) I hopped on for stadium. I was freezing to death and ready to go home so I cantered two laps each way, jumped two fences, and went in the ring. They set the jumps really soft, only two were 3’3″ and the rest were 2’9″-3′. I tried to move up past the distance at jump 1 (because I dunno, history of bad judgment?), and Henry was a little over-enthusiastic, but other than that it was fine. A hard rub but luckily it stayed up.
Then I stuffed Henry full of treats, picked up my dressage test, tossed him in the trailer, and left. I was dying of cold. Yes it was only 50. Whatever. I couldn’t feel my legs or my face. I had gotten quite used to the 80’s last week, thank you very much. My desire to be warm far outweighed my desire to wait for a 1st-out-of-1 ribbon.
The pone is pretty cute though. And by the end he was no longer a kite anymore, so that’s a plus.
Over the course of last year’s show season I was able to nail down most of my stuff. Breeches, helmet, saddle, bridles, accessories… it’s mostly done. Of course, there are still a few little items that I’m adding, or items that I’m trying to upgrade to something nicer for the long term. Here are a few of the things I’ve added so far this season; first the things I already have, and then the things that are in process but I’m still waiting (patiently?) on.
We’ll start small. The first thing I wanted was my own bridle number set. I used to hoard old bridle numbers like it was going out of style, in case I ever lost a number while at a show or went to a schooling show where they don’t hand out bridle numbers (please never make me do dressage in a pinney). You can flip the old bridle numbers over and write your new number on the blank side if you need to, or pull the little hook off and safety pin it to your pad. But Bobby kept stealing mine (because he’s a jerk and a poor planner) so I decided to invest the $8 in an interchangeable set. Actually that’s a lie. Bobby bought them for me, because apparently our love does have a price and that price is $8. Now these guys live in my bridle bag, just in case I (or Bobby) ever need a spare.
My new stock tie was an AETA find. I’d been casually looking for a new, plain-ish stock tie for a while but couldn’t find anything I liked that was super subtle (the blue and yellow coat/helmet kind of limit how far I can go with a stock tie before I officially look ridiculous) but still interesting and GOOD QUALITY. Seriously, what is up with all the cheap ugly stock ties out there? I loved the fabric and structure of the Style Stock ties, so I brought home this tone on tone stripe.
I always show in a dressage Ogilvy baby pad, but I wanted a nice Ogilvy jumper baby pad for shows too. None of the jumper pads I had were that nice – more schooling quality or kinda old and sad looking. Teddy’s Tack Shop perfectly filled that gap for me with this logo pad, complete with navy binding and yellow piping to match my half pad. It’s perfect and I’m a little obsessed with it. You’ll be seeing a lot of this pad.
A boring one, but I figured it’d be good to have: a good ol’ medical armband. I have a Road ID and have just worn that since I started eventing, but I noticed at a lot of schooling shows they really want you to have an armband. I kind of hate wearing them but I figured it’s something I might need (and in fact I’ve already worn it), so into one of my Riding Warehouse orders it went.
I just got this one last week, but I finally have a really nice show shirt. My TS shirt was fine but I never really loved the feel of the fabric, so now I have a Winston Vienna to replace it. My favorite thing about this one (aside from the A+ stellar perfect fit) is the little trim of navy blue striped fabric around the top of the collar and the bottom of the cuffs, which I think will look especially good when one of my “coming soon” items arrives.
And that item would be the Winston coat that I accidentally ordered when I wandered into the Luxe EQ trailer with my defenses down. But I’m really excited about this coat. I’ve never had one as nice as this, or custom, so I’m hoping it’ll be an item that lives in my closet for a very long time. Of course, I don’t have a picture of it since it’s being made, but… use your imagination and add navy lapels, yellow piping, and navy buttons.
After all of my AETA gushing about the Majyk Equipe boots, I’m sure no one is surprised to hear that I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the leather jump boots. Total must have. And again, another item that I’m hoping will stand the test of time and have a place in my line-up for years to come.
Ok let’s be honest, “really nice stuff with excellent longevity” is the name of the game this year. I’m trying to weed out cheap stuff that falls apart or things that I don’t really love and end up selling. Maybe it’s finally time that my closet start reflecting my age? But now that all 3 pairs of my Roeckl’s seem to be on their last legs, I decided to invest in I-Quips. Also custom, so… use your imagination again. Pretend these have navy finger reinforcements, yellow stitching and yellow piping.
And then I caved and ordered the Cambox helmet cam. To be fair, my tax refund was a lot bigger than I was expecting AND I already hit my Coconino budget AND I came into a little bit of cash on top of all that. I found it in France for $35 cheaper than it would have cost to order it from Dover; cheaper for me and not giving my $ to Dover equals a win-win. It’s currently en route from France. Yet another upgrade, this one is way smaller and lighter than my current GoPro.
The next big thing I need to replace within the next year or so is my tall boots. My 6 year old Monacos aren’t looking so hot. I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around boot brands yet. Tucci? DeNiro? Makes my head hurt just trying to think about it. Slightly obssessed with the DeNiro with the American top, though…