Coconino Day 9: Let the Fun Begin!

Yesterday was dressage for the 3Day, and I’m pretty glad that part is over. It’s too hard.

Henny agrees
I’ll do an actual dressage recap in a separate post when I have time to go back and gather media, but the short version is that Henry was tense but obedient and I had an error because I can’t brain.

Dat butt tho
After dressage was over and done with and laid to rest, it was time to focus on XC. I did my first walk of phase D, the actual XC course, and then in the afternoon we had steeplechase practice.

thats a chunk of Likit…

Many thanks to Hawley Bennett for teaching the practice, it was such a blast. It’s awesome how these Classic format 3Days have a clinic aspect to them, I’m learning so much as we go along.

Henrys face when I asked if he was ready for steeplechase
I forgot to ask anyone to video so I don’t have any media, but Henry was a rockstar. Once he realized we were out there to run and jump he was totally Game On. Hawley explained the best way to ride the fences and the track, and we jumped just a handful of practice fences to get the idea. Henry took to it instantly.

Bobby modeling one of the steeplechase fences bedore it was moved to the track

After practice we walked the horses out on the roads and tracks to check out the footing, gates, and kilometer markers. 

Then we fed, settled the horses in, and walked phase D again with Trainer. The course looks fairly straightforward… there are a couple legit questions for novice (including a full coffin where the last element is a skinny off of a bending approach from the ditch) but nothing looked big or made me nervous. If I steer, keep my leg on, and don’t get lost in the woods (THAT is the real challenge) I think we’re golden.

the last jump of the coffin

I’m not sure that I’ve ever been this excited for XC day before! Let’s do this!

Coconino Day 8: Accepted!

Wednesday was inspection day… we had in-barns in the morning and then the formal jog mid-afternoon. I took Henry on a long hack with some stretchy trot in the morning to loosen him up a bit, since we can’t turn out anymore.

The in-barn was very uneventful, the vet just took TPR so they have a baseline to compare to in the 10 minute box. 

Then it was time to bathe and braid and start getting pretty for the formal jog.

Neither of us likes to wait

The jog was kinda fun, although a) running in sand in flats is hard b) I was sweating balls. But when they said “Number 75 – accepted!” It was a pretty good feeling. Especially because they said it so fast – one horse got held, and on some of them they took several very long, agonizing seconds before they announced them accepted. Henry was immediate, thank goodness, because your anxiety in that situation is through the roof.

Then I hopped on for a quick dressage ride. Henry was definitely better than Tuesday (couldn’t really get much worse) but still tense and not really coming into my hand. I kinda just think that I have a really fit horse who has been cooped up for too long, and that’s that. I’ll coax him through the dressage as best I can today, and then be really glad it’s over.

After my ride we had a rider’s meeting followed by an overview of Roads and Tracks and Steeplechase. I’m pretty excited for both of those things!

If I can just survive the dressage today, the rest should be a lot more fun.

Coconino Day 7: OK, that sucked 

This trip has been so great, I guess something had to suck at some point. Unfortunately that point was yesterday when I tried to practice my dressage test. Definitely one of the top 3 worst Henry rides ever.

i hate this thing

The day started out great… we turned the boys out, and they had great fun playing. It was very cold, definitely the coldest night so far at only 41 degrees. I woke up with frozen appendages. 

After it warmed up a bit, we all went out for a long hack down the bridle paths around the park. That never gets old.

It’s just so damn pretty.

After the hack I peeled off and went down to the track, hoping to get 20 minutes of stretchy trot in. Unfortunately Henry’s brain fell out and he just kept screaming for his friends and jigging. I gave up on that idea and took him back to the barn, since he was just getting more worked up.

Then later in the afternoon we had jog practice (the official version left a lot to be desired, so we came back up to our barn and Trainer helped us practice instead… much more useful) then I hopped on to run through my test. Henry was awful. Very tense, over sensitive, and really frustrating. Not gonna lie, there were some tears. We went back to the barn to re-set our brains and get a flash, then went back down and tried again. Finally, finally, he was at least rideable. Not great by any means, but ok.

Today we have in-barns and the first jog, then we’re going to try to dressage again. Really hope he’s gotten all the lack of cooperation out of his system.

Coconino Day 6: This Does Not Suck

Skipping right over day 4 and 5 for now… sorry for the cliffhanger, we’ll come back to it when I can get my media together.

We’re halfway through our Coconino adventure and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we’d be happy to stay here forever. Definitely not tired of it yet… not even tired of camping. 

Since Monday was really our only totally free day, we seized the opportunity to a) get stuff done b) have some fun. We got up before 5 and were able to turn the boys out in a free arena for 2 hours. They had a blast and seemed very happy to stretch their legs.

Then we ran some errands (feed store, Walmart, laundromat) before loading up and heading out for the Grand Canyon.

I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon since I was a kid, so it was fun to see it again. It’s just so massive and incredible to see in person. I also brought some of my moms ashes to spread there, which was pretty cool too. 

Plus we saw a squirrel drinking from a water bottle, which was a definite highlight…

After we got back we all hopped on our ponies for a nice long bareback hack down the trails of the park. Our life does not suck… this is just the most amazing experience. By far the best Monday ever.

Always bringing the derp
Bobby’s POV

After our hack we really had nothing left to do but bed the horses down and treat ourselves to a pretty damn fancy dinner. 

I also finally had the chance to plug my computer in and take a look at the helmet cam video… can we just talk about this corner for a minute? Holy $@&!

This horse, y’all.

Coconino Day 3: Pretty views and spoilers

Friday was a busy but fun day. Trainer was planning on doing a dressage school on Henry in the afternoon so I got on in the morning and took him for a long hack around the grounds. I still can’t get over how gorgeous this place is.

We explored some of the trails, then wandered out to the track (where the arenas are) and walked a lap.

We found Bobby and Halo on the backside, so we waited for him to be done schooling and then hacked the boys out together.

When we were done I left Henry to his usual morning siesta while Bobby and I went to pick up packets and check out the tack shop (because duh). Sad news, I managed not to buy anything. I’m starting to think I’ve already bought everything there is to buy.

In the afternoon Trainer hopped on, and Henry was good but definitely a bit tense. That’s just kind of him, though. He was making every effort to be good, so there’s not much more you can ask from him.

Then we cleaned tack, ate dinner, walked XC, and tucked the boys in for the evening. Saturday was starting off bright and early with a 7:something a.m. dressage for Henry! 

I’m gonna hold off doing a proper show recap until I get home next week and can get all the media together, but here’s a spoiler:

I think our barn did alright…

On to the 3 Day! But first, we’re gonna go do some sightseeing on our day off…

Coconino Day 2: We made it!!!

No offense, New Mexico, but you ugly. Our layover spot was awesome but I was glad to be back on the road and leaving the dust behind.

That fine red dirt manages to attach itself to everything, inside and out. Don’t believe me? Exhibit A: the dashboard of the truck.

Otherwise the drive was uneventful, except when Henry started bucking in the trailer because I dunno, Henny angst?

We did a quick pit stop before Gallup and both boys traveled even better than day 1. Henry drank a whole bucket of water and pooped/peed a lot, and both were bright and energetic. The weather held out too – we got to higher elevation before it got hot, so it was actually really pleasant.

When we rolled into Flagstaff we were totally blown away by how gorgeous it is. Mountains, pine trees, and a nice cool breeze. It’s heaven.

Once we got the boys settled and all our crap unpacked, Trainer took Henry for a quick flat ride and Bobby went for a walk on Halo.

Then we were off to the feed store to buy hay, and omg even the HAY here is beautiful. How is theirs so much prettier than ours? I want to eat it myself. The boys were THRILLED when we tossed them a big pile. 

After that we set up our tent (memory foam mattress topper for the win, it’s SO comfortable), cleaned ourselves up, ate dinner, and popped open some celebratory drinks. 

We sat around talking until it got dark enough to see all the stars, then we just stood there for a while and took it all in. What a gorgeous place to be, doing the thing that we love so much with the horses that our lives revolve completely around. I’m not even sure I have the words to describe just how awesome it really feels… I’m just so damn happy to be here. With all the craziness going on in the world lately, my soul really needed this.

WE MADE IT, y’all, and it’s everything I had dreamed of and more. Best showcation ever, and we haven’t really even gotten started yet.

Coconino Day 1: Roll Out

I’m going to do my best to keep posting as regularly as possible while we’re on the road. I’ll save the actual show recaps for when I’m back and have a real computer and wifi and all that good stuff, but I figured I’d keep a little journal of sorts about what’s going on behind the scenes while we’re gone. Forgive me in advance for whatever may look wonky on your screen, especially pictures… I’m having to do this from my phone.

I’ll be honest – Day 1 and 2 are gonna be a little boring since they’re travel days. There’s not a lot of riveting content when you’re driving 16 hours. 

We rolled out dark and early at 6am on Wednesday, and luckily the drive was quite uneventful. All but 20ish minutes of the entire first day was spent just getting out of Texas, so it seemed to drag on forever.

We stopped after about 4 hours to let them stretch their legs and get some water…

But even with that pit stop we pulled into our layover spot in New Mexico around 2. The boys were quite mesmerized with the wide open spaces and mini dust storm. I, on the other hand, was less of a fan. Omg sand everywhere.

Once they settled in, had some hay, drank some water, and ate dinner, we hopped on them for a little bareback hack around the farm to stretch their legs.

Both boys were very forward and happy to be out marching around. We were thrilled that they were so perky and seemed perfectly content after 8 hours in the trailer… neither of them is accustomed to such a long trip like this.

After our ride we topped off their buckets, tossed more hay, and tucked them in for the night. Then it was off to DINNER (aka eating my weight in mashed potatoes and cream corn). One more 8 hour leg and then WE’RE THERE! 

For the Love of the Sport 

For everyone who read this post title and thought “oh god, there she goes again waxing poetic about eventing” – you’re right, here I go again. Today we embark on our journey to Coconino, and while to most people it would probably seem like just another show (that you can’t wait for me to stop talking about), I can’t help but reflect on just how much this opportunity really means to someone like me.


I don’t have a fancy, expensive horse. I don’t have a new, pimped out truck. I don’t have a shiny, pretty trailer. I have a $900 horse that I bought on Facebook, a used and slightly dinged truck complete with old school crank windows, and I pull a very, uh, “vintage” trailer that cost even less than my horse. Heck, I sleep in a truck tent at shows. And I’m deeply grateful for all of it, every single day.

This is a sport that has room for everyone. Sure, sometimes we lose to the people on a 60k import with a 100k rig, but lots of times we don’t. When I see a fancy horse trotting around dressage warmup, I don’t feel instantly defeated. I admire them, drool a little over the pretty horsey, and then go about my business knowing that we all have 3 phases to get through. At the end of the day, those three very different phases are a pretty great equalizer. Some days you win, some days you find yourself rocketing face first into the water.


The best part is, in the sport of eventing I am not unique — not by a long shot. Many competitors have stories similar to mine. There aren’t a lot of sports where the field of entries is pretty much always split between horses that cost $1500 or less or horses that cost 30k and up. They might range from 14 hands to 18 hands. They could be Arabs or Quarter Horses or Thoroughbreds or warmbloods. Their riders might be sitting in a $300 saddle or a $6000 saddle. The competitors roll into the show grounds in all sorts of rigs, big to small and fancy to total jalopy. There aren’t a lot of sports where just about anyone could win, regardless of how simple or how fancy.

Being able to show in other states, travel with my horse, spend multiple weeks on the road… those have always been far-off dreams. They seemed far-off because in my mind those are the things that wealthy people do, and I’m not a wealthy person. I was the working student left behind while the other kids went to winter circuit. I’m the adult shopping for a project horse on facebook with a 1k budget. I considered all those things to be pipe dreams, just about as far from my reality as you could possibly get.


Yet here we are, embarking on a another journey I never imagined I’d be able to make, with the kind of horse I never thought I’d be lucky enough to own. First Nationals last year, a dream come true in it’s own right, and now this. I will never stop being thankful for the relative affordability of the sport of eventing, for all the friends and family who continue to enable my addiction, and for all the opportunities that it has given me. Two weeks in the mountains of Arizona, a long format 3 Day, and my horse’s first recognized show at a level I didn’t even dare dream of just a year and half ago when we started… how freaking awesome is this?

Schooling at Willow Draw

On Friday they let us out of work early, therefore I decided to fully embrace the opportunity. First I had the vet come out to do a health certificate for Henry and Halo for their trip, then I loaded Henry up and made the 3.5hr drive to Willow Draw to meet my trainer for some XC schooling. I haven’t done a formal XC school on Henry in months… probably a good idea to squeeze one in before Coco. Plus I’ve been dying to check out Willow Draw anyway.

And I have to say – what a gorgeous facility. Awesome footing, a great variety of fences and a really pretty setting. I’m excited that they’re hosting recognized shows now, we’re definitely gonna have to go add it to the list.

For some reason Henry was uncharacteristically spooky though… not sure if it was the light, being so late in the evening, or if he just thought the place was full of goblins. He wasn’t really sure he wanted to jump over the open ditch (even after he jumped it several times he remained skeptical) but for the most part he trucked along fine. I just had to go to my stick and spurs a few times, which is very out of the ordinary for him. Granted, he jumped the big ugly Training trakehner without batting an eye, so maybe he just had a bit of The Dumb. Open ditch = deadly. Log over giant ditch = no problem. Henny logic.

he was hoping the 4 strides was optional in the Training route through the water

Either way, I felt really rusty so it was good to get out. Henry will get a bit of a break after Coconino but then I think we need to do a lot of XC schooling in Aug/Sept if I have any delusions of running Training in the fall.

Of course, I forgot to turn the camera back on for the mound to trakehner series, which were probably our best jumps. Me and helmet cams, man… Henry and I are the same level of smart.


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