No One Needs Sleep Anyway

Last week I texted Trainer asking what her schedule was like for the next couple weeks. If I’m running Training next month, I need some lessons. Unfortunately this is our Stupid Busy time of year at work, so I’m pretty much relegated to weekend lessons only – a weekday lesson requires taking PTO, which ain’t happening anytime soon. Turns out she was busy too, though, for the next couple weeks. After some shaming/whining (which may or may not have included some cuss words and threats to haunt her forever if I die in our moveup – I’m charming like that) she said she could meet me Saturday at Pine Hill, but only if it was early. Since I don’t want to die next month, ass crack of dawn it was.

This is pure ass crack, there was nothing “dawn” about it

My one superpower is the ability to always wake up 15 minutes before I need to actually be awake. In this case, that meant 4:15. I was at the barn by 5, had my stuff packed and Henry fed and loaded by 5:20, and away we went on the 2 hour journey. In the pitch black. And fog. Which turned into misty rain. Which turned into gale force crosswinds. It didn’t take long for me to question my sanity.

Tried to take a picture of all the pretty Christmas lights in one tiny town I went through, but failed miserably. The, uh… stoplights are festive?

But the sun finally came up as we were on our final stretch of highway, and I was tacked up and on my horse before 8am. It was quite warm on Saturday – already 72 degrees by then, and 90% humidity. What does Henry not do well? Humidity. So we kept the warmup short, hopped over a few fences, and then started stringing some together.

I’ve been working really hard on not pulling. It’s my favorite thing to do, but it really doesn’t work anymore once the fences get over 3′. We’ve also worked a lot on squaring our turns and really keeping his hind end under him and shoulders UP through the turn, helping to keep the canter more powerful and flowing forward. Which, miracle of miracles, happens perfectly when I too keep my shoulders up and square and use my body to help turn or adjust, instead of my hand. Funny how that works. No motorcycling, no dragging ourselves around on the forehand. Balance is amazing.

Things you don’t remember to grab at 5am – hairnets

We went through the exercise that Buck Davidson had set up for his clinic last weekend, which is essentially a grid line with all the jumps on an angle. It took me a couple tries to really get the line right (keeping the horse’s shoulders up and straight was vital – oh hey there’s that concept again) but we got it. For the most part anyway. Ok, some attempts were better than others.

This lesson we really focused more on straightness and pace and rideability and kept the fences low, since it was our first stadium lesson since August (for real). Next time we’ll bump them up to height.

Overall it was a good time, and worth getting up stupid early. Even after all that, I was still home by noon… just significantly more tired and grumpy than normal.

Favorite Quality in a Horse?

Lately I’ve been binge-reading pretty much everything I can find on young event horses. Breeding them, picking them, raising them, training them… I’ll read anything. It’s so fascinating to me to read all the different opinions and see what different people look for in a young horse. There was one article in particular that asked several top riders from different disciples what their favorite quality was in a horse. Some answered very specifically, with “excellent feet” or “scope”, whereas others hit more abstract things like “heart” or “willingness”.

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This would be a no for me, I like my bones aligned where they are.

It kind of got me thinking… what is my favorite quality in a horse? Obviously I don’t need something with the talent to go out and run a 4* or do Grand Prix level dressage/jumping, so my answer might not be the same as a top pro. I’ve had horses of all different shapes and sizes, so there’s nothing super specific conformation-wise that I really have to have (except, like… basically correct and not hideous). I want a good canter, but I’m not overly obsessed with how they move, either. There is one word in particular that I love to hear someone say about a horse, though: genuine. To me that’s a really high compliment, and that’s the horse I want.


No shit, Trainer called Henry genuine once and I literally teared up. I have to agree, he is. He has a lot of try, but he’s still smart enough to know when to say no if I mess up REALLY bad, or pull a rail if I start flailing around too much (for real mom, learn how to ride). He saves my butt when he needs to but isn’t afraid to tell me to take a hike when I’m riding like a complete fool. It makes him a great teacher.


It seems like you hear the Brits use this word more often than we do… most often when a horse bails it’s rider out of a sticky situation “He was very genuine there!”. It might not mean that the horse is easy, but it means that he’s honest and implies a pretty high level of willingness to do his job. THAT is what I want. That’s Henry for sure, and I know a lot of other ammy event horses with the same quality.

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No, not Genuwine. Stop it.

So, I’m curious – what is your favorite quality in a horse, and why? Do you go for something gorgeous, or scopey, or super quiet, or with fantastic gaits, or what?


Blog Hop: Location, Location, Location

I didn’t originally plan on doing this Blog Hop, but it’s been so interesting reading everyone else’s (and none of the other Austin bloggers have chimed in – what’s that about guys?), so here we are! A Soft Spot for Stars asked for details about life and horsekeeping in our area…


Where do you live?

The great thing about Austin is that it’s probably one of the most liberal, progressive cities in the south, which makes it bearable to exist here. The people are generally pretty nice (although our traffic sucks) and there’s always tons of stuff to do and lots of great food (good Mexican food is a life necessity). I like the fact that Austin is relatively small as far as cities go. We have all the big city perks, but without being a sprawling out of control metropolis like Dallas or Houston. The cost of living here has definitely gone up in the past several years, but it’s still fairly reasonable especially compared to either coast. I have to be honest though, I don’t find this area of Texas to be particularly attractive (its not the desert wasteland that most people picture, but our grass is generally kind of meh and our trees look stunted), nor am I that attached to it. I’d happily move if the right job came along, as long as it was somewhere prettier and more horsey (but still without a real winter, I don’t do winter).

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the biggest perk of living here

Costs of horse keeping?

  • Trim – I think $50-70ish? Been a while since I had one barefoot, it’s tough to keep a riding/show horse without shoes here due to our footing (hard and a bit rocky).
  • Shoes – $150-200 for a full set of steel, depending on whether or not he’s drilled and tapped for studs
  • Average cost of a month of full time training- $600ish plus board. Lessons are around $50-60 average.
  • Average monthly pasture board – craigslist tells me around $350? I don’t pasture board, my horse would die of heat stroke in the summer without a fan.
  • Average monthly stall board – $500-600 seems average from what I’ve seen. Less for places without great facilities, more for fancy places with great facilities/trainers on site.
  • Hay:
    • Coastal is pretty much the only grass hay here, which I hate, but such is life. Small squares are about $7-8 a bale depending on quality, delivery, etc. Alfalfa is usually more like $11-15 for a small bale.


Well, I mean… how do you feel about the idea of living inside of an oven? There’s no sugar-coating it, summer is May-September (sometimes April-October) and it’s HOT. Like… many days above 100 degrees, melt-your-skin-off kind of hot. While our humidity is not as bad as Houston, it’s still certainly not a dry heat. Horses require fans and shade, humans require extra hydration and we usually have to ride early or late to avoid heat stroke. The good thing is that our winters are mild. It can swing back-and-forth between temps in the 70s and temps in the 40s, with a lot of in between. Just enough to make winter really bearable, yet not enough for us to ever actually acclimate to cold. Hence all the whining from Texans on cold days.

Brace yourselves, the Texans are about to start whining (me included)

We might have a few days where it stays at or just below freezing, but mostly it’s just windy as hell in the winter. Every few years we get an inch of snow or a little bit of ice (which causes the entire city to shut down) but that’s about it. The worst part really is the fact that it can’t seem to rain in a normal pattern… it won’t rain for a couple months, and then it’ll rain like 12″ all at once. Over and over. There is no such thing as moderation. Very annoying unless you love long periods of super hard ground followed by a long period of mud.

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Riding demographic for the area?

Western riding certainly dominates, but Texas in general has a lot of horses and a lot of different sports. Unfortunately the Austin area itself is kind of a dead zone for shows or a ton of great trainers for h/j or eventing; Dallas and Houston both have a lot more to offer in both regards. Our closest recognized event is 2 hours away, with the others being more like 4-6. The closest rated h/j show is 2 hours away as well. Everything is a haul, basically, there is no such thing as trailering in for the day and showing unless you do the local h/j circuit or very small schooling shows. There are a few eventing trainers in Austin, but my own trainer is a 2 hour haul away (WHY IS EVERYTHING TWO HOURS) so I definitely do not get as many lessons as I’d like.

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Other notes?

There are pros and cons to this area, for sure.


  • very mild/practically non-existent winter (we’re huge babies, but really we have it easy compared to most)
  • still a lot of open space and land
  • you can show pretty much year-round if you want to
  • there are a few tack shops in town (I live 5 minutes from Charlotte’s Saddlery and 10 minutes from Dover)
  • there are also a couple of big vet hospitals nearby, lots of massage/chiro/acupuncture people, rehab facilities, etc.


  • not a lot of good boarding/training/local eventing options
  • it’s hot as mother-effing balls 6 months of the year
  • critters, lots of critters. Rattlesnakes are not uncommon.
  • when you get outside of the city, you encounter a lot of… um… less open, less tolerant people…
This is basically a requirement if you want to event

Frustrating things about your area?

Mostly just the fact that nothing is close. We spend a lot of time driving. And driving. And driving. Events cost more because it’s always a haul and requires staying over a couple nights. The void of good trainers and barns in this area are kind of a bummer, too. I would loooooooove to be in the same area as my trainer and be able to take a lot of lessons/always have her eyes nearby, but the 4 hour round trip turns a simple lesson into an all day affair. I spend a lot of time riding on my own, so sometimes it starts to feel like progress is ridiculously slow.

Passing Judgment 

Being a blogger can have it’s ups and downs. On one hand, it’s fun to share everything with people… you often find a lot of common ground and camaraderie in both the triumphs and the struggles of day-to-day horse ownership. You also have a really detailed journal of sorts, which can be fun and really helpful to look back on. For some of us, writing can even be cathartic, in a way. And then of course, there’s the other end of the spectrum: sharing so many details, good and bad, can leave you open for a lot of criticism. I think just about every blogger, and honestly probably most people that are active on any kind of social media, have probably encountered this.

Some people are even more opinionated than Henry

It’s easy to sit here behind a computer screen and judge someone’s situation, especially when it comes to photos. I think we’ve all been guilty of it at least a few times. But unless you a) know someone’s horse b) know someone’s story c) have a really good understanding of their sport… can you really get an accurate assessment of the situation from a photo?

I kinda feel like, for me personally, there are a few things I will always judge someone for:

  • Hurting a horse, either intentionally or via gross negligence.
  • Being a jerk to a horse.
  • Acting like you’re perfect when you’re not. That’s just annoying. Don’t do that.

Things I will not judge you for:

  • Your leg slipping back
  • Your hands being too high/low
  • Your release not being perfect
  • Looking down
  • Making mistakes
  • All that other minutia that is just a part of riding
all aboard the Struggle Bus

The vast majority of us are amateurs. We don’t get to sit on a ton of horses or spend 6 hours a day riding. We aren’t perfect, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us are trying to be better. Some of us have demons to work through, or issues that have plagued us forever. We make mistakes. I also know that what is correct for one sport is not necessarily correct for all sports, so I’m not going to sit here and criticize someone’s barrel racing or reining or endurance photos when I quite admittedly do not have a damn clue what I’m looking at.

For the most part I’ve dodged personal criticism a lot more than some other bloggers, probably because my horse is pretty simple and there isn’t a lot of major struggle for us aside from my own continuing education. For that I’m grateful, because I’ve seen some of the messages that strangers have had the audacity to send to other bloggers, and it is shocking. FYI, internet – it’s ok to express concern if it’s warranted, but it’s not ok to be an complete asshole about it.

Image result for don't be an asshole gif

This past weekend on Instagram I posted a picture from XC schooling that is not classically correct – we’d gotten a longish distance to a wide fence, so I stayed in a safety seat and let Henry work it out.


Someone thought it was appropriate to send me a message telling me that it was a horrible photo, that I was ripping my horse’s mouth off and slamming him in the back. I had no business jumping and should be ashamed of myself. How could I possibly be proud of a picture like that, they asked.

Ah, ever-so-kind internet stranger… let me tell you why.

I’ve always hated that damn fence. It’s wide, and I’ve found it intimidating. When we first schooled it a year ago I had a tendency to panic and either chase my horse to the base or curl up into fetal position and provide zero assistance, making his job really difficult. It’s been a while since I jumped it. So we galloped down to it and got a slightly long distance… not perfect. But here’s what happened this time: my horse was confident enough to go anyway, I kept my eyes and body up, I kept my balance back so he could easily get his front end up, slipped the reins as much as he needed, he was able to make a huge effort without me impeding him, and we galloped away in balance together, horse happy and looking for the next one like it was no big deal.


Was it perfect? No. Of course not. But any eventer will tell you that XC is not about being perfect. When a sport involves galloping at speed over solid fences, with varying terrain, out in the open, foot perfect rounds are few and far between. Being an effective XC rider is about learning to have good instincts in a less than perfect situation – something that has not been easy for me (especially when it comes to sitting the eff up, because laying on the neck  and staring down at the source of my impending doom is a favorite pastime of mine). The fact that this fence happened the way it did, we both handled it safely and without issue, and didn’t miss a beat… that did more for my confidence as a rider (and spoke more to our progress together) than 100 perfect fences would have.

So, to circle back to the question – how could I proud of that? Well, I’m pleased that I’m finally able to canter down to a jump that used to make me crap my pants, get a meh distance, and have no issue handling it in a safe way – a way that actually helps instead of hinders my horse. Who, btw, is a badass and jumped the absolute crap out of that fence, which is why I posted it in the first place. He’s amazing, with or without me. If you want to judge me for that, go ahead, knock yourself out.

for real though, he’s Majestic AF

I’m not quite sure what some of these Internet trolls think they’re going to accomplish by making rude comments to random amateur riders regarding their skill set or lack thereof. I think I’ll go with what my trainer says, but thanks so much for the fun and abundantly helpful critique. *insert much eye rolling here* PS – if you were trying to hurt my feelings, you’re going to have to try a lot harder than that. There is literally no one on the planet who is more critical of my riding than I am.

At the end of the day, we don’t know what each other’s struggles are as a rider, and sometimes we don’t really even have a full understanding of each other’s sports. You see people criticizing hunter riders or eventers for their “equitation” in a photo (god, can we STOP with the idea of one exact perfect position already? I hate it.) all the time. Sometimes though, there’s a reason for what you’re seeing in one still frame. This is just as good a reminder to me as anything else… maybe we should take a minute to consider things before we pass judgment.

Well… unless you’re mean to your horse… then all bets are off, you jerk. 😉

Best. Gifts. Ever.

Aside from XC schooling, the other reason I went to Pine Hill on Saturday was to watch my friend Michelle (of Willow Tree Warmbloods) ride her pony in the Buck Davidson clinic. I love me some Buck, so I was sad to have missed being able to ride with him this year, but getting to stand in the ring during a couple lessons and listen/watch was still fun.

Side note: I did pause from taking pictures long enough to put one Buck-ism into my phone’s notes… “This is not a halfway sport. It’s all or nothing.“. The comment was related to a rider not being proactive enough to get the exercise done, but I thought it was applicable in lots of ways.

But anyway, clinic aside, Michelle also brought me some goodies. Namely, these:

Jumps! Ten standards, a couple boxes, a gate, 3 planks, and some jump cups. This might be the best gift I’ve ever gotten. I mean… I literally had two jumps before, one of which was just a single barrel. Now I pretty much have a whole course! And I didn’t have to pick up a single power tool! At some point I’ll paint them all and do some minor repairs, but for now, they certainly get the job done.

my jump field is legit AF now

I also asked SO for a couple more barrels for Xmas (good news: since that one time I asked for a poop cart, he no longer even flinches at my weird gift requests. Who would ever want jewelry when you could have poop carts and plastic barrels? I wonder what he tells his friends about me…) since they’re so versatile. I could use them as jump standards or as filler or as just a jump by themselves. Plus I want to make a couple of short little 3’6″ standards to use in conjunction with my little white barrel to make a corner. And rails, I need more rails, but those are easy enough to acquire. Plus I want to make one of these:

Michelle also brought me a couple of paintings from Henry’s 2016 show season, and they’re gorgeous as usual. I love that she uses my colors, it really ups the level of awesome.

Don’t forget that a painting from Michelle is one of the prizes for winning the logo contest… you have a couple more weeks left to get entries in. It looks like we’ll be adding more prizes, too!

Back at it! XC schooling edition.

On Saturday I loaded Henry up and went down to Pine Hill to meet up with Bobby and Trainer for an XC school – Henry’s first time out on XC since JULY at Coconino.

The plan was to just hop around some Novice stuff, get back in the groove, and see how he felt. Henry on the other hand did not seem to get the memo about an easy, laid-back schooling, because he was Super Pumped from fence one. The Novice stuff was like Bam. Done. Easy. Boring.

You insult me with your tiny fences, puny humans

Henny was in beast mode, for sure. So I pointed him at the Training ramp that I hate so much and he locked on, said “Bish, you best hang on” (honestly this was kind of the theme of the day) and absolutely LEAPED over it like he was channeling his inner Ballynoe Castle. Well, alright then. Guess Henny came to play.

I’ll be back here slipping my reins and trying not to effing die. You do you Henny.

After that we didn’t waste his effort on the Novice fences anymore (except for when Bobby and I tried to tandem jump the N log into the crater and kind of sucked at it. The video is amusing.). Mostly we just stuck to the Training combos, which I haven’t jumped before. Most of them were one-and-done, no prob, because my horse is a badass. Except for the Irish Bank of Death… it rides so awkward, I just could not get it right.


So we jumped through that combo (brush, down the hill, up the small bank, one and a half strides, off the cliff of death) several times, until I was marginally less terrible, then called it a day on that one. We’ll come back to it again later (unless it gets bulldozed before then, which I may or may not be willing to pay someone to do. Just saying…).

Then we went over to the angled feeders, which I thought would be tougher than it was. There’s really only one exact straight line through that combo where the striding works out, and it means that both feeders are jumped on an angle. Trainer said just line up with the tree beyond it, which worked out perfectly.

Straight line through the angled feeders

After that it was over to the up bank combo – train car, up the hill to the bank, one stride, bank, three bending strides to a skinny. I was a little intimidated by this one but it rode really well… it was my favorite combo of the day.

We wrapped up our day with the water. We jumped the Training tiki hut and ditch in the woods (which you can’t see in the video) then came out to the water combo, which is a little jump, two strides downhill to another little jump landing in the water, then through the water and out over the little chevron. Henny is always bold at water, no problem there either. We called it quits after that.

I was very pleased with how good Henry felt. He came out guns blazing, very professional, and stayed that way. He was forward (I mostly just tried to stay out of his way, really), he didn’t get tired, and he felt really strong and plenty capable.

And then Trainer and Bobby started giving me shit about moving up, and then somehow they talked me into filling out an entry for the January horse trial on the spot, before the post-XC glow wore off. So… I guess we’re running T next month. If I die I’m blaming Bobby.

Henny has the right idea

Yesterday we went for a long walk and a stretchy trot, and Henry felt great. Maybe a little TOO great, there was some leaping and squealing involved. I guess he handled the schooling just fine…

Review: Leistner Premium Collection (and flash sale)!

Fans of fancy brushes, put on your seat belts – Leistner has outdone themselves this time!

I’ve carried on quite a bit on this blog about how great the Leistner line is in general, so I’ll spare you all of that weird grooming-product worship again. But, uh, for real though… they’re amazing. Yes, brushes can be amazing, I promise. Everyone else in Blogland that has bought some (*cough* Aimee *cough* Leah *cough* Karen) can back me up on that. So when Toi at Teddy’s Tack Trunk contacted me about something new from Leistner that she was carrying, I got really excited. And well, it was warranted, because omg these things are insanely beautiful. I can’t even get a photo to capture how pretty they really are in person.

The Premium Collection from Leistner basically takes their standard (awesome) brushes and makes them super fancy. They have an upgraded finish and gorgeous padded leather handle. If you’re looking for a gift for that hard-to-shop-for horse person, look no further. This is where art meets practicality, and for under $40.

Currently Teddy’s Tack Trunk is stocking a few different Premium Collection brushes (although you can special order any brush with upgraded straps). I got two – the Satchmo and the Beauty. The Satchmo (a 100% horse hair medium-soft bristle brush) has a glossy black finish and padded black leather handle with lots of real Swarovski crystal bling. I’m pretty sure this should be required equipment for every DQ. Not only is the brush itself very functional, the finish is perfectly executed with luxurious leather, soft padding, and very firmly-affixed rhinestones that are set down into the leather. As soon as Toi told me that the Satchmo is Emma Ford’s brush of choice for quarter marks, I was sold. It’s now got a starring role in my fancy-pants show brush collection.


My other Premium brush is the Beauty (100% horse hair medium-soft brush with a lifted edge), with a rich brown wood stain and padded brown croc-embossed handle. The Beauty is very similar to my beloved Prinz brush, but a bit bigger, making it the perfect go-to brush for every day use. May as well have a super fancy brush for daily use too, right? Every day is Treat Yo Self. BTW, apparently the padding on these is elk leather… who even knew that was a thing? Life lesson: elk are apparently very soft.


Here’s the fun part: TODAY ONLY get 10% off the Leistner Premium Collection brushes from Teddy’s Tack Trunk with code PREMIUM10!

Horse Magazines

When I was a kid, COTH and Practical Horseman were the two big magazines for the h/j crowd. COTH was the fancy “cool” magazine with all the pretty show pictures and ads for things I could not afford. I went about a decade without picking one up (aside from the stallion issue, which I used to buy every year) but since winning a subscription at AEC and reading them regularly for the past year plus… it’s lost a lot of it’s luster for me. I like their Untacked side publication and I like the fact that you can choose print or digital, but the content has left me wanting. Practical Horseman is still the same ol’ solid, dependable magazine that it always was, with lots of riding articles, but it starts to feel like the same thing over and over after a while. Fun to page through, but nothing particularly exciting or cutting edge.

This year I’ve branched out a little bit into some of the newer publications, wanting to find something different. After lots of looking and a little trial and error, I’m left with three: Heels Down, Horse & Style, and The Horse Magazine.

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Heels Down is a digital magazine that seems to be catered more toward the younger crowd. They’re usually one of the first to cover new trends or tackle more controversial subjects, plus they have a pretty good balance of riding articles and a really solid social media presence (not to mention their fair share of great giveaways). There is definitely a lot of variety. The magazine is downloadable each month via their app to your smart phone or tablet for $4.99 per issue, or $3.99 per issue if you have a subscription (there’s a one month free trial period so you can check it out first if you want). It’s fun, it’s cool, and it’s current… perfect for the 18-30 crowd (or, uh… 33yo’s who are pretending like they aren’t as old as they are. Ahem.).

Horse & Style is, in a word, posh. It’s printed on sturdy paper with a thick cover, has TONS of show photos, and definitely gives an overall high end, elegant feel. They do rider interviews, style guides, articles about horse shows, equestrian vacation destinations, book reviews, Q&A with a sports psychologist, etc etc. It has a very grown-up, sophisticated feel to it… and it’s just ridiculously gorgeous, cover to cover. They too have a good social media presence, with lots of horse show photos and monthly giveaways (I won one!). You can also page through it here.


Then there’s The Horse Magazine, an Australian publication that I’ve mentioned on here before (and now you can read it online here). They focus a lot on what’s going on in the show world internationally, plus have riding articles and a good dose of breeding stuff thrown in. My favorite thing about them is that they’re never afraid to be blunt, even if it’s controversial. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, which is really refreshing.


Never change, Chris Hector. Never change. ❤

I love all three publications, for very different reasons. If you want something that feels young and fun, I think Heels Down is worth the download. If you want something decadent to hit your mailbox every other month that you can slowly and indulgently page through, Horse & Style certainly fits that criteria. If you want something honest that will get you thinking, The Horse is a great read. If you like variety, read all 3.

I used to subscribe to Warmbloods Today, a US based breeding-centered magazine, but let my subscription lapse for some reason I can’t remember. I really should renew that, because it was a cool magazine if you’re into the breeding stuff… I’ve given a gift subscription to a few people for Christmas before, too. And of course since I’m a USEA member I get their magazine, Eventing USA, which is free with membership or you can buy back issues. It’s actually pretty good.

What about you… what are your favorite horse magazines?


Family Trees: The Warmbloods

Henny got his own TB family tree post, so I figured I’d throw in the other two equine kids as well: Sadie, and her still-in-utero Nugget (she’s currently 240 days pregnant, but who’s counting?). I’ve talked plenty about their parents before, but I’ve never really delved further back into their pedigrees because I felt like most people eyes would start to cross and they’d fall asleep. But since we’ve already opened this can of worms all over blogland, and because I think it’s really interesting to see what all is hidden in those warmblood lines: get your pillow ready, because here we go.


Sadie is kind of fun because she’s half Hanoverian and half TB… the warmbloods are so easy to trace back, because there’s so much info and even videos (I’ve linked to lots throughout this post). Her sire, as everyone has heard a million times by now because I love him, is Westporte.

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Westporte wearing a top hat, because duh

Westporte has mostly produced hunters, obviously, since that’s what he was shown and marketed as, but he’s also had a few babies show up in the jumper ring, and one is even a 2* eventer. His offspring are generally known for being good movers and amateur-friendly.

2* eventer West River

Westporte himself was bred in Germany for dressage. His sire is the well-known Wolkentanz I, who won his stallion licensing and was also known for his good movement and good rideability.

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famous red pony

Wolkentanz was by the legendary Weltmeyer, also winner of his stallion licensing. At the Bundeschampionate he earned a 10 for trot, 9.5 for canter, 8 for walk, and 9.5 for conformation and general impression. So… I guess he was alright. While Weltmeyer ended up becoming a phenomenally successful dressage sire, it’s interesting to note that at his stallion testing he managed a jumping score of 141.44 – almost as high as his dressage score of 143.94. There were some hops hidden in there, even though he never went down that road.

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really famous red pony

Wolkentanz’s dam was named Lovely (ok that’s cute) who was by Ludendorff

Not that famous and not a red pony

known for producing – you guessed it – excellent rideability, although he sired horses that were successful both in showjumping AND dressage. Ah, finally, some variety.

You can keep going back into these lines for a long way with plenty of pictures, thanks to the excellent record keeping of the Hanoverian Verband, but I’ll stop there on the sire line before anyone becomes comatose. On to the damline!

Westporte’s dam was Farrah, a bay (yay) Hanoverian mare by Fabriano.

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Fabriano was another excellent dual-purpose stallion, although he is probably best known for his dressage offspring. He also won his stallion testing (this is a trend here) with high marks for rideability (also a trend here). Farrah’s damsire was Egerländer 

who actually sired mostly eventing and showjumping offspring. Believe it or not, Egerlander’s sire Ecuador was full TB. Other well-known stallions in Westporte’s pedigree include Absatz , who at the time was used to bring more “type” and help lighten the Hanoverian breed (although these days we would look at him and call him a heavier horse),

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and the prolific Hanoverian showjumping sire Gotthard.

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So although you glance at Westporte’s pedigree and immediately think “dressage”, there were definitely some jumping influences in there. That mixture obviously served him well as a hunter.

Sadie’s dam is a full thoroughbred – Hope’s Secret Port. She raced a little and then pretty much just lived the broodmare life. She was presented to RPSI while pregnant with Sadie and missed Premium by one measly point. They liked her type, walk, and trot, but Hope decided that that particular moment was the best possible time to canter around like Pepe LePew, so she got dinged a bit for that.

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Hope says “don’t hate, sometimes you just gotta bounce”

Hope’s sire was Porto Varas, who won a little bit of money at the racetrack and then sired a bunch of horses who also won a little bit of money at the racetrack. At one time I swear I had a picture of him but I can’t find it now so just use your imagination here.

Chestnut Stallion


Big Butt

Porto Varas was by the much more successful Miswaki, a stakes winner who raced in Europe as a 2yo and then the USA after that.

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considering Sadie had two bay parents, there is no shortage of RED in this pedigree

Miswaki was by Mr. Prospector, who I’m not particularly a fan of, but both Miswaki and Mr P have managed to show up in the pedigrees of many successful sporthorses so I’m learning to live with it. Miswaki’s damsire was Buckpasser, both a great racehorse sire and a great sporthorse sire.

Porto Varas was out of a mare by Arctic Tern, a french stakes winner (who was apparently blind in one eye) that went on to be a leading sire in France.

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he looks like a warmblood

On Hope’s damside there are a few random little sporthorse lines further back, but the most well known name that would immediately jump off the page to anyone is this guy:

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Hope’s pedigree actually has one mare, Hopespringseternal, in there twice, through two different offspring of hers. It’s pretty uncommon to see the same mare show up twice.

As for Baby Nugget, obviously his dam is Sadie, so see all of the above for damline info. His sire is Mighty Magic, who I’ve already talked about a lot here. Summary: won the world eventing championships as a 7yo and is now an international level dressage horse with a child rider. He’s also homozygous bay, because omg that’s enough with the red (even though Sadie is brown, she still has a chestnut gene. Yes I had her tested. Yes I am crazy.).

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I’m adorable, love me!

Although Mighty Magic is registered Holsteiner, he’s actually 88% thoroughbred, with both a full TB sire and a full TB damsire. His sire Mytens

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was bred in the USA and then sold to Britain as a yearling. He ended up being a good sire for all 3 Olympic disciplines, as well as producing offspring that made their way to the US and were successful in the hunter ring.

Mytens was by Spectacular Bid

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out of a mare by Hoist the Flag.

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Pretty classic American breeding, and no surprise he was a successful sporthorse sire.

Mighty Magic’s dam Neika was by Heraldik, who has been ranked somewhere in the top 3 eventing sires in the world every year since at least 2008.

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Heraldik started his life as a racehorse (flat and steeplechase) in Europe before retiring due to a tendon injury. After that he became a very successful showjumper, competing up through 1.50m. He has sired A LOT of upper level eventers and is also the damsire of Michael Jung’s famous ride, La Biosthetique Sam. Heraldik has had offspring at the Olympics for both eventing AND dressage… pretty impressive, especially for a full TB stallion.

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yes, these are 3 DIFFERENT horses by Heraldik… he certainly throws a type.

The actual Holsteiner blood in Mighty Magic comes via Neika’s dam Fiona, who was by Lavall.

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Lavall’s sire was the famous Landgraf, and he was out of a mare by Sacramento Song – another Thoroughbred who became a well-known showjumping sire in his own right.

Fiona’s dam was by Ladalco

which gives her two crosses to Ladykiller, perhaps the most influential thoroughbred in warmblood history.

It’s not hard to find a lot of information about Ladykiller, such as:

He was an averaged sized, clearly masculine type with a beautiful head, really heavy neck, good shoulder, rather flat loin, and a nicely coupled, heavily muscled croup. He had first-rate legs and feet for a Thoroughbred and was an elastic mover. Today he must be viewed as one of the most important jumper sires of modern time. Ladykiller offspring correspond more to performance, jumper types. As a rule, they are strong horses, they are not, at first, very tight with their front ends. This however, quickly improves with increasing maturity.

Passed on a good temperament, although sometimes a little hot. In spite of his early injuries he did not pass on any defects in the limbs.  Ladykiller xx passed on specific characteristics, such as a fine head, an often light brown colour with white on the legs, sometimes less coupled loins, good, powerful and correct bones, very good jumping qualities (lots of guts, power, fine technique and rounded back over the fence), excellent basic gaits and on average, good sized products.

At the 2014 WEG, Ladykiller’s line is responsible for 11 of the entrants in the showjumping championship.

So, while Sadie’s sire line might have been a bit lacking in blood, her full TB dam combined with the 88% TB blood from Mighty Magic means that Baby Nugget will be 73% thoroughbred, representing many of the great thoroughbred sporthorse lines. Just goes to show how vital the thoroughbred has been in shaping the modern warmblood, especially the jumpers and eventers.

Contest time again!

Creative folks – time to put on your thinking caps, because this is a contest you definitely want to win. With the help of some very generous companies, we’ve put together a pretty epic prize package!

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Some of you might remember the logo contest I did a couple years ago for the blog. I got so many great submissions that when my friends over at Willow Tree Warmbloods decided it was time for a new logo, I suggested we join up for another contest. The logo on their current website was something that I, in all of my severely graphics-design-challenged glory, slapped together with generic clipart in about 5 minutes just to fill the space, and well… uh, it looks like it. It worked fine to get everything off the ground, but now that WTW is super legit and well-established, they need a logo to match and I’m hoping that you guys can help.

First, to give you an idea of what’s at stake here, let’s start with what you can win:

  • custom painting by Michelle made from a photo of your choice
examples of her work
  • custom baby pad OR jacket embroidered with the WTW logo


  • Lund Saddlery figure 8 bridle and rubber grip reins (you pick the size)


  • Hamer & Clay custom item of your choice (magnet or ornament)



  • complimentary download of the AllEars app


That’s around $400 worth of prizes! Now that you’re properly motivated, pay attention because here are the rules:

 logo must include the name “Willow Tree Warmbloods”

logo must be a vector file

WTW barn colors are black and teal. It is not required to use color, or more than one color, but if you do use it, please stick to that general color family.

submit your best logo designs to michelle (at) willowtreefarmtx (dot) com

please title the email CONTEST ENTRY

There is no limit to how many logos you may submit, the more the merrier!

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Feel free to be creative, keeping in mind that it needs to be something that will embroider well. And of course take a look around the Willow Tree website, facebook page, and Instagram to get a feel for who they are (you should follow them too, because it’s almost baby season). The farm mostly focuses on breeding for jumpers, with some hunter and event horses as well.

Entries must be submitted by midnight on January 2nd. The winner will be chosen by Willow Tree Warmbloods no later than January 7, 2017, and will be announced here on the blog, on Instagram, and on facebook. Please understand that by submitting the logo you are agreeing that it can be used with no restrictions by Willow Tree Warmbloods. Also please keep in mind that since several of these prizes are custom, they may take a little time to receive.