I’ve never lost anyone that close to me before, and coping with it has been, well, weird. Sometimes I forget she’s even gone, usually when I find myself having the urge to call or text her about certain things before remembering she’s not there. Reality hits hard every time. Like during breeding season – my first reaction to every ultrasound was to send a picture to my mom. She would have been super excited about another baby horse.
Flagstaff was also one of her favorite places, and while we were there I thought about her a lot. There’s no doubt she would have thought that was one of the coolest trips ever, except for maybe the 10 days of camping part.
At her funeral we handed out CD’s with Love Shack on it… that CD lives in my CD player in my truck. If I find myself thinking of her and need a pick-me-up, I play it. Two button pushes and there she is, personified in a song. Works every time.
And yes, I still put a purple rubber band in one of Henry’s braids on show jumping day, in honor of her. Ok, she would probably prefer head-to-toe purple and lime green, but she’s gonna have to settle for a purple braid. I think she’d be ok with that compromise.
I’m in the middle of a 10 day barnsitting stint, and while barnsitting is absolutely my favorite way to make a some extra cash to add to my budget, regular work hours plus barnsitting duties make it difficult for me to have time to ride Henry. Instead of giving him another week off, since he just came back from vacation, I decided to send him down to Trainer for the week.
This actually worked out pretty well (for once) since apparently it’s suddenly monsoon season in Texas. It’s been raining like crazy, which has turned our pastures to mud pits and our arena into a lake. Trainer’s place is a couple hours away, on really nice sandy soil, so even with tons of water it stays rideable. If Henry was at home he’d just be standing in his stall anyway, so – perfect timing.
He’s been a bit frustrating on the flat lately (not bad, just really “lit”) so I’m not gonna lie, this is a little fun for me. Yesterday I took the day off from work (how do I still have 19 vacation days left???), packed his bridles and his food/supplements, loaded him up, and drove him down to Trainer’s.
I kind of understand how parents feel now when they drop kids off at camp. On one hand you love them and miss them as soon as you start to pull out, but on the other hand you just can’t seem to press down on that accelerator fast enough.
The first update, from yesterday’s ride, was pretty entertaining – “I didn’t die today, but… it was touch and go for a few minutes.”. 30 degree drop in temperature plus a very fit Henry… yep, this is gonna be a fantastic week. Mostly for me, since all I have to do is write the check. Money well spent.
I dunno how closely any of you have been following the Olympic updates on social media, but two sources have really stood out to me over the past week. Mostly because they really aren’t afraid to say what they think, and I’m always 110% behind that.
The Horse Magazine
THM is an Australian based publication that has been posting real time updates from Rio on their facebook page plus end-of-day wrap posts on their website. With such gems as:
Yes, Rebecca, it is better to watch a not so talented horse ridden beautifully than a brilliant horse ridden by a terrorist.
Just a wonderful test from Spencer Wilton – the new style of British dressage, soft, rhythmic, beautiful. But the toads in the judges boxes know they have to keep the big marks for later in the day.
Just accepted very lame Japanese horse, oh well, it’s a long way from his heart.
Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice home just 3.2 but the US only has two riders left in the field (er, both of them Australians).
Yeah I am sure the Dutch spin doctors will come up with a story, but the truth is an old gelding, with his best a long long time ago, should never have been brought here. Now they are in a right pickle of their own making.
… how do you not love it? Agree with them or not, it’s pretty refreshing to see a journalist tied to a major publication that isn’t afraid to put forth a REAL and HONEST opinion. Plus they used the phrase “in a right pickle”.
The Sort of OK Show About Horses
Sorry Buck, I love you, but Kyle is the real star of this masterpiece. For those who haven’t seen it – before and after a lot of major events, Buck and Kyle do a little “show” where they talk about what they think is going to happen, who they think will do well, then what actually happened, and their impressions of such.
In a world where most high profile pro riders are SO afraid to say what they really think, I absolutely love seeing Kyle be completely candid. He never hesitates to really lay it all out there, even if it’s critical of a horse, a rider, or a program. He’s not mean about it, but he’s honest. His assessment of what happened with the US team on XC was exactly spot on with what I was thinking too (commentary on the US team starts around the 26:19 minute mark, which I’ve linked to above). Thank you Kyle for having the cojones to say what you’re really thinking!
I’m officially at the point where I don’t even remember my own birthday until the day before. All the sudden today – BAM – I’m 33.
This morning my dad posted this picture on facebook, which might be the best thing I’ve ever seen, mostly because that’s still my default facial expression.
And then my brother and sister-in-law memed it…
So… best birthday present ever. Still laughing.
Some days I still don’t feel like I should be trusted with adult responsibilities, yet I’ve been an “adult” for a long time now. It’s been a weird journey, probably not what I would have pictured, but I have no complaints about where I’m at or how I got here.
I’ve worked at the same place for almost 12 years (holy. crap.) and I don’t hate my job. I’d rather have a job in the horse industry somehow (sales? marketing? product development? no idea), but maybe someday the perfect thing will come along.
Henry was supposed to be a short term resale, and we all see how that worked out. He’s my shining star and has made life a lot more interesting and fun and rewarding. That horse isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
As far as what the next 33 will bring… who knows. I don’t have much of a plan, so I’ll just follow the swing of things and see where it all ends up. Hopefully there will be a lot more ups, inevitably several downs, and I’m sure plenty of surprises along the way. With horses staying firmly at the center of my world, naturally.
Move over, Michael Phelps and Chad le Clos… the best Olympic feud so far has been between a Deadspin blogger and the equestrian community.
Most of you might have seen this on facebook. In one day something like 8 of my friends shared it in some version, all basically flipping Patrick the blogger a big middle finger. Basically he said that equestrian sports were dumb, the horse does all the work, it’s abusive to animals, super aristocratic, etc etc. The same things we’ve all heard a million times by now. When I first read it, I had the same reaction that most people did. What an ignorant ass, I said, huffing and puffing and muttering all kinds of profanities as I slammed my way around the kitchen, making dinner. But once my defensiveness and pride settled down (and I burned the shit out of my finger), I starting thinking about it. And thinking about it. And thinking about it. Then I found myself replying to Patrick’s follow-up post. I know, shocking…
This might be one of the dumbest “feuds” I’ve seen, and I spend a lot of time on the internet, so that’s saying a lot. If you don’t like a sport, don’t watch it. Pretty simple. Change the channel. Click on a different live feed. Perhaps table tennis or golf would be more up your alley? Writing an entire blog post bashing one particular sport in such spectacularly inelegant fashion is an obvious attempt for attention, and congratulations, it worked.
To the horse people (of which I am one): I understand the knee jerk reaction to this guy. His original blog post was full of a lot of ignorance and came off quite rude. I get it, riding is my passion too, and it’s natural to want to defend something that you love so much. But once you get all those expletives out of your system (and they’re therapeutic, I know), we owe it to ourselves and our sport to step back and look at what this guy is really saying. It’s not really about whether he’s right or wrong (obviously he’s wrong).
Peel back a few layers of pure prickishness, dumbassery, pompousness, and blatant ignorance, and his opinion is not that different from the public majority. It’s a fact that our sport is always one of the lowest rated, and it’s no secret that the IOC is considering dropping the Equestrian events altogether. They’re expensive to put on, they garner a lot of criticism, and they don’t bring much back to the table. So what our new friend Patrick has to say, infuriating as it may be, is actually REALLY IMPORTANT if we as a community want to keep our sport in the Olympics.
Our sport is very intricate – it’s one of skill, not one of brawn. It’s easy for anyone to turn on swimming or running or gymnastics and be entertained by it. It takes zero brain power or education to understand it. Their events are pretty short and the objective is obvious. Ours isn’t that obvious at all to the layman (except for maybe showjumping), and really the only people that are going to understand what the hell is going on are fellow equestrians.
When equestrian events were originally included in the modern Olympic games it was by way of polo, “grand prix jumping”, high jump, and long jump. Almost like a horse version of track and field. Dressage came in a little bit later (originally the dressage horses had to jump a few fences, too!), along with eventing (long format, anyone?), and a more recognizable version of showjumping. Almost everything then was military-based, which made sense in those days and fit in with the overall vision of the games. It was truly a sporting competition. But now the Olympics has morphed into a ratings show; an advertising push painted with a stroke of patriotism. The IOC doesn’t care all that much about the sports themselves, their big job is to increase ratings and sponsorship.
So if we really want to stay in the Games, instead of getting pissed at Patrick we should listen to what he has to say and ask ourselves: what can we do – presentation wise, broadcasting wise, scheduling wise, education wise, etc – to make our sport easier for the layman to understand (because obviously most of them are clueless as hell, just like him) and more interesting to watch? Or, if we actually care more about the bigger issues of the sport itself (rider safety, horse welfare, etc) rather than the ratings war that the Olympics has become, why do we want to stay in anyway? Are the Olympic Games really the pinnacle of our sport anymore? Do we want the desires of the IOC to dictate the choices we make and the direction that our sport takes? Maybe so… but maybe not. Either way, Patrick’s incredibly ignorant blog post provides plenty of food for thought.
I think I promised this one to several of you a long time ago, but I finaaaaally just got around to it. Oops, sorry. Trying to play catch-up this month!
If you follow me on Insta you probably noticed one of the approximately 4000 pictures I posted of Henry’s butt from the jog-ups in Arizona. He sported an anchor, for our trainer’s barn, Anchor Equestrian. I love customized/unique quarter marks, outside of the standard checkerboard or sharks tooth pattern. I did, after all, put a unicorn on my horse’s butt for AEC’s last year.
I made the original anchor stencil very hastily the day before we left for AZ. I didn’t really have the materials I wanted, nor did I have any clue if my sizing was right, so I just made it out of thick paper. Of course, when you put a damp brush on paper, it doesn’t last long. The stencil made it through AZ, but got left behind in the trash can. I liked the anchor though, so I set out to make a more permanent, longer lasting version.
What you need:
Some kind of thin plastic. I cut up a plastic folder that I bought for a whopping $1, but any plastic that is thick enough to hold it’s shape and thin enough to cut with a box blade/x-acto knife will work. I’ve used a broken rubbermaid bin before.
a box blade/x-acto knife for cutting
a surface on which to cut. I have a couple cutting mats (I have no idea how things like this find their way into my life) but otherwise just find a sacrificial surface. The garage floor, a bunch of newspaper, whatever. Or spend $5 and get a cutting mat, which makes things a little easier and smoother. Your call.
I have all of these things lying around except for the plastic folder, so my total investment here was $1 and about 10 minutes of my time for 2 stencils. My stencil is obviously fairly basic… the more elaborate you get with the pattern, or the more curves you have, the more complicated it gets.
My first step was cutting the folder down to a usable piece of plastic. It was simple, I just flayed the pockets off, cut the middle binders off, and ta-da – two perfect pieces.
Then I was off to Google image search to find exactly the right shape. You can do just about anything you want, even freehand (if you’re more artistic than I am). Just remember – this is going on a horse’s butt by way of a damp brush, so if you try to get super elaborate, not all of the detail will show up in the end.
I printed two – a larger anchor the same size as the prototype I’d already made, and then a smaller one.
Your method for getting the pattern onto the plastic is personal choice. Trace paper works fairly well, especially if your plastic is lighter colored. I am more of a bull-in-a-china-shop type, so I just take a pen and trace firmly around the edges of the pattern, leaving an impression in the plastic.
Next up is the fun part – cutting. I should probably have some kind of disclaimer about adult supervision, how razor blades aren’t toys, blah blah blah. Just don’t cut your damn finger off, ok? It’s pretty simple, just follow your lines. I don’t really worry about getting everything exactly symmetrical… it’s going on a horse’s butt, after all. Get it reasonably close and stop obsessing, no one will be able to tell once it’s on.
I did my two stencils slightly differently, to show you what to do if you have a non-cutout area within a larger cutout. For my bigger stencil I just made the top part of the anchor into one big circle, without an inner circle.
For the smaller stencil I left the inner circle at the top of the anchor. This isn’t rocket science… just leave a couple of little “connecting” pieces attached to the inner part. Definitely plot these out and draw them on before you start cutting so that you don’t accidentally forget one. Once the quarter mark is on the horse you can just go touch up the little lines where the connecting pieces were.
Once you’re done cutting you just pop the inner parts out and voila – you’ve got a waterproof stencil! Extra bonus: if you body clip in the winter, keep the cutout part as a template for a clipped-on quarter mark. Put some double-sticky tape on the back of it, tape it on where you want it, and clip around it. Really easy.
When you’re ready to use your stencil, brush the hindquarters with a damp brush (a shorter, stiffer one works best), then line the stencil up where you want it and brush downward over the stencil. Lift the stencil off, being careful not to drag it across your fresh quarter mark, and you should have your perfect pattern.
One of my favorite things about the USEA website is being able to search by horse or by rider and pull up their entire competition record. One of my least favorite things about the USEA website is how anyone can search by horse or rider and pull up my or my horse’s entire competition record. Lots of data is awesome, until there’s something you’d rather everyone not see.
I feel pretty protective of my horse’s USEA record. I’m not really sure why… he’s not a sale horse at the moment, and he’s not headed to any kind of upper level or team competition. It’s not like he has phenomenal dressage or always jumps a clear stadium, and I certainly have nothing to prove his pilot. I just love scrolling down that page and seeing 0 XC penalties. Probably really weird, but I do. Even though he’s ridden mostly by me, so any mistakes on his record would be easily chalked up to rider error.
But this isn’t quite like a USEF or USDF record where you have several classes per show, and several chances to fix mistakes. One show, one score, no redemption. Permanently. It’s why, after a few stops, a lot of people choose to retire instead of make that one last attempt and get an E. It’s why, with a young horse, a lot of pros won’t bring it to a recognized show until they feel pretty confident that it’ll get around. Leave the baby mistakes at home or at an unrecognized, ie “off the record”.
Of course, if I was shopping for a horse, being able to pull up it’s entire show history is totally fantastic. Sometimes it shows you a pattern or a weakness. Granted, it only tells you a part of the story. Sometimes the score just doesn’t reflect what really happened.
So basically, I have a love/hate relationship with our results database. Henry had a 20 at his very first event in 2014 when he just didn’t understand the question. Since then, clear. I like that, I’m proud of him for that, and I think it tells you a lot about how genuine he is, so I’m protective of it. But then again, I think… it’s been BN and N. Let’s be honest, it’s just not that hard to go clear at BN and N.
He has a clear T on his record now thanks to Trainer, but now it’s my turn. I know it’s ridiculously silly to feel even a minute amount of pressure to keep his record “clean”, and probably really unlikely. I should probably focus more on, like, not dying. Things just get harder as you go up, and it becomes more difficult for him to overcome my mistakes. Plus, if I mess up THAT badly, it’s often the safer thing for the horse to say “um no, that’s actually not safe”, and I would definitely rather he do that if it’s the right choice. But still. I like 0’s.
Am I the only one with a crazy irrational rider obsession like this, feeling some kind of overprotective quality of what goes on a horse’s public record? I’ll let it go someday…
You may remember last year’s edition: Ding Dong the Watch is Dead. Apparently I kill one essential piece of equipment per year? This time, unfortunately, it’s a big ticket item: my tall boots.
I’m pretty sad about this, because I like my boots. I nabbed a pair of Ariat Monacos brand new off of eBay 5 years ago for under $400, and they’ve fit me perfectly from day 1. They haven’t been very durable though, having already required various repairs 3 times. Still, they’re really flattering and pretty and fairly comfortable, so I’ve tried to baby them a bit. Sadly, apparently Arizona was the last straw.
I noticed on XC day that I managed to have a blowout (for like the one millionth time with these boots) at the left ankle, where the fabric of the zipper had come unsewn from the boot itself. I was sporting a pretty nice gap for all of Coconino. We’ll call it airflow.
Then, on the very next wear, I noticed that on the inside of the right boot the stitching had separated on a seam in two places, leaving two holes in that boot as well. Two legs, three new air vents. I also noticed that the sole is starting to separate on the edges of both boots. Well crap. At this point they’ve been repaired so many times, and the leather itself is getting really ragged and torn up, I don’t really think it’s worth it to keep trying to repair them. More blowouts seem inevitable, and I’d hate for one to happen at a really inopportune time.
I think I can coax them through the fall season since I’ve only got a couple shows planned, but I’ll need to get something new in the off season. The only question is… what do I get? I hate tall boot shopping. Luckily I’m very average sized, calf and foot and proportion-wise, but I like a boot that is a little bit too tall. Plus it’d be nice to have something that wasn’t super boring. I really want some of these bad boys:
But there’s no way custom or semi-custom boots are in the budget.
My favorite off the rack option that I’ve seen so far are the Mountain Horse Sovereign, although I’m not sure they’re as tall as I want. I haven’t really seen anything else that catches my eye so far, nor have I actually tried anything on.
So – what are your favorite options for tall boots under $400ish that have at least something a little bit fun about them (even if it’s just a damn square toe), have a tall option or run tall, are pretty, have a slim ankle, and will last? Ready, go.
Now that everything has pretty much settled back into a normal routine and my budget has (kind of) recovered, it’s time to buckle back down on taking some lessons. Most of my spring/summer lesson budget actually went toward trainer rides, getting Henry ready for his moveup. It wasn’t until Wednesday, when I was tacking up my horse before my lesson, that I realized- I haven’t actually had a show jumping lesson since like… MARCH. Good god.
I jumped Henry over a handful of very tiny fences last weekend, just to make sure his brain was plugged back in after his vacation. And to make sure I could still like, steer and stuff. You never know. Then on Wednesday, Trainer came out for lessons.
We warmed up briefly (it was approximately 9000 degrees with 4 million percent humidity) while Henry protested the fact that he is now going in a flash again, and then we started hopping over a warmup fence. It started as a crossrail, yet every time I came back around it had grown significantly, until it ended up as this:
And while it definitely looked decent-sized, I had zero trepidation about cantering down to it, so… progress? Once I actually started using my outside aids to rebalance, turn, and straighten, everything kept coming up golden. That one fence above might have been the best I’ve ever felt him jump. Henry was leaving the ground out of a really good canter with plenty of power, and I was leaving him alone. Miraculous how that works out. Also miraculous that I’ve heard this a million times and still cannot remember to do it consistently.
We did one full course and then just broke out the one piece of it that I was having trouble with – an angled fence, bending line to a one stride. The angles made it a true test of riding off the outside aids, so it’s not a surprise that it took a few tries for me to really get it. I kept letting that outside shoulder get away from me, which really messed up the line and the balance. Once we did the exercise reasonably well a few times, we let him quit.
I’m pretty excited that Trainer lives closer now and will be able to come out on a regular basis for lessons. What a luxury it would be to have some consistency! Or at least more consistent than every 5 months…
Ah, the joys of finding breeches that you a) actually like, b) can afford… why does that always seem to be an ongoing challenge? When I discovered Aztec Diamond I thought I’d finally struck gold, but then they changed their fit. Cue deep despair and minor temper tantrums.
My first problem is that I’m picky. Really picky. Those navy Animo’s that have been living in my closet for years have set the bar high. The second problem is that I’m horse poor. If I could drop $400 a pop on a bunch of breeches, I’d be golden. Things like entry fees and saddles and horse massages and farriers tend to take precedent though. Thus, I’ve kind of found myself on this never-ending quest for just the right pair of breeches.
I first saw the new RJ Classics Prestige Gulf breeches in January at AETA. The thing that first caught my eye was the colors – I spotted a nice deep burgundy and a hunter green. A few years ago I had another pair of RJ breeches, and while I liked the fit, I wasn’t a big fan of the fabric, so I approached the new ones with a skeptical eye. When I felt the fabric on the Gulf breeches I was even more intrigued… it was a nice stretchy tech fabric that seemed like it would hold up well. Nothing like the old fabric whatsoever. I made a mental note to try them on at some point after they came out.
That opportunity arose when I was in the Luxe EQ trailer a few months ago looking for whites… I also went ahead and tried on the merlot RJ’s. They had a little bit of extra room in the hips, but otherwise fit really well and seemed comfortable. For the price I figured it was worth a try, and I brought them home. From the first wear they pretty much became one of my new favorite pairs of breeches.
Design-wise, I really like them. The colors are great and they have the ever popular euro seat. Then length is perfect for me, the rise is also spot on, and the sport mesh on the lower leg (NO VELCRO) breathes well and is comfortable. The fabric stays pretty clean, washes up well, doesn’t stretch or sag, and doesn’t fade (another huge pet peeve). The construction looks solid, with no loose seams or hardware. I’ve been wearing them quite a bit and have no complaints about the quality or concerns about the longevity.
Fit-wise, they’re almost perfect. There’s that little extra room in the hip and some in the waist that I could do without, but luckily they don’t sag or require a belt to keep them in place. If my thighs were smaller I could probably size down, but since good ol’ Thunder and Lightning are my overwhelming majority… ain’t happenin’. If the breeches slid down or gapped considerably it would bother me more, but they don’t, so I don’t find myself thinking about it or noticing it very much. Basically – if you’re bigger in butt/thigh area, stick with your regular size. If you’re not, you may be able to size down.
I’d absolutely buy more of these. In fact, I definitely need the hunter green ASAP. And the navy. And maybe the white. Someday I’ll have room in my budget for more. They’re comfortable to wear, flattering, attractive, good quality, the fit works for me, and the price is pretty reasonable at $150. Definitely recommend trying a pair!