ORDERED! And other adventures…

Since Henry got his SI injection on Friday, he was on stall rest for the weekend. And since free weekends are rare around these parts, I took the opportunity to head up to the h/j show in Waco to visit Luxe EQ… and to get fitted for my TUCCI’s, of course!

Next time you see this photo it will be the real boot instead of a photoshop mock-up

I’ve been ogling Tucci’s for years and somehow know a lot about them, but I had never actually tried them on. This is by design, because once I try something on, it tends to come home with me. Now that I know for a fact that I’m getting them, it was finally safe to try some on. It helps that I’m built very average… there’s nothing particularly odd about any of my proportions, and most things tend to fit me off the rack. In this case, the 39H (extra tall) were perfect.

This is the saddest comparison ever

They really did fit like a glove, which is very convenient… no full customs required. They were also super comfortable, especially considering they were brand new boots. I don’t think I realized just how much the sole in my Mondoni’s had worn down until I had them both on at the same time. Poor Mondoni’s. For $200 boots, they’ve really hung in there pretty well for the past 3 years.

for real

So the Tucci’s (I ordered the Marilyn, no patent, with a navy top) are officially on order! Hopefully they’ll be here within a couple months… I am obviously in desperate need.

I also took the time to paw through all of the new stuff in Luxe EQ (one of my favorite things, it’s like Christmas only not as fun because I don’t actually get to keep any of it). Starting with the new Miss Shield, which wins the award for the best box I have ever seen in my life.

so rainbow!
A few different models

Not gonna lie, the box alone kind of made me want it. But box aside, I liked the profile of the Miss Shield… the brim was a bit bigger and wider than the regular one, but without being HUGE or ridiculous or overpowering like some other brands. It seems like it would work well on lots of different face and head shapes. There are some better pics from all angles on the website if you’re curious about the profile.

not too big

They’ve also got the new MaeLort waterproof backpacks, which seem to be the hot new thing popping up right now all over social media. This is the first time I’ve seen one in person.

bonus Simko belt cameo (fun fact, Madonna was wearing a Simko belt at the Women’s March)

Plus the new Winston colors. They have a medium blue coat now that is a super pretty, kind of French blue shade. I couldn’t get a good picture of it with my cell phone in that light, but here’s the stock photo:

because someone needs to buy this

It looks a bit lighter than that in bright light. It’s such a nice color, especially in the new Devon model with camel accents. Someone with a chestnut or a gray needs to buy it (looking at you, Hillary). And then of course there were all the new Winston sweaters. I was partial to the Ruby:

burgundy + elbow patches = sign me up

And approximately 9 million colors of TS sunshirts, because one thing TS really excels at is color choice (there were new breech colors too… I was oddly drawn to the Purple Heart ones). The new teal-sh looking shirt was pretty, although granted goes with nothing I own.

There were lots of pretty new show shirts from Le Fash and Cavalleria Toscana too, which I also failed at getting photos of. CT might have my favorite line of show shirts… they’re unique without being too crazy. And then of course, winning the outerwear game is Asmar. Loved this look that Luxe EQ had on one of their mannequins:

Asmar sweater, Asmar vest, Peg and Awl bag

One of these days I’ll actually go in there when I have a little more cash to burn (ha!) and buy some of the things I’ve been lusting after for years. There’s just so much cool stuff living in that mobile, it’s dangerous.


Making it Rain

On veterinarians, that is. Between the dog and the horse, I’ve been paying the mortgage for some vets this month. Too bad there aren’t any punch cards or frequent flyer points for vet clinics.

Doped Up Henry is not on board with this

It was ironic timing when Henry colicked last Thursday (he’s been totally fine since then, btw), because he already had an appointment on Friday morning to get his teeth done and his SI looked at. The vet that came out specializes in equine dentistry, but also does regular veterinary work as well. I’ve been searching for someone good to take a look at Henry’s SI (which I think is the source of many of our dressage issues) and this one came highly recommended by several people. When I heard he was coming out to do teeth, I called and tacked an exam onto Henry’s appointment.

When you u$e almost all of the equipment in the vet’$ truck in one appointment (power float, ultra$ound, xray)

The vet did his exam before he started his teeth (obviously, because it’s hard to trot drugged horses) and I talked him through the entire history of these random minor things that have come and gone, what I notice under saddle, everything we’ve done so far, what patterns we noticed with the acupuncture, etc etc. He’s worked with my acupuncturist before so it was nice to be able to hand him her exam paperwork from Henry’s appointments so he could see exactly what she had noticed. He palpated his back and SI area, watched him w/t/c on the lunge line, flexed his hocks, and then watched him walk and trot away and back.

Henry was basically non-responsive to the hock flexions, which we were both really happy about. The vet was happy with the fetlocks, stifles, and hocks, but agreed that it looked like something intermittently just wasn’t quite right higher up. The SI palpation showed what is pretty typical for Henry – very reactive over the right SI. And considering Henry has had a pretty light last two weeks, the vet was probably seeing a best case scenario. He recommended we try injecting the SI, which is what I’ve been wanting to do for quite a while, so I was 110% on board with that. Henry really has been ticking almost every single box for a horse with SI issues.

blurry pic but look at all the cool floats

But first: drugs and teeth! Henry’s jaw doesn’t line up in literally any direction, so his teeth are always kind of a mess. The vet had a couple other people with him (another dental expert from Australia and one other guy who’s story I have forgotten, sorry guy) and they took turns being amazed by Henry’s weird mouth. Like at one point they were all gathered around, shining the light in there, oohing and aahing and taking pictures. Poor little mis-aligned Henry.

smile for pictures!
Yes, everyone gather ’round…

Once they were all done marveling satisfied with the float, Henry was released from the jaws of steel and the vet recommended that we do him every 6-8 months instead of every 12. Like I said… some kind of punch card would be nice. Anything for Henny, though. #worthit

Brain rubs for Drunk Henny

Then we got the ultrasound stuff out for the SI injections. The SI is so far down in there (like 6″+) that it’s much easier to do those injections if they’re guided by ultrasound. Otherwise you’re kind of just guessing about being in the right spot. And no one wants to spend $180 per injection on a guess.


I apologize for the following pictures if you’re squeamish but damn, you don’t realize how far down in there the SI is until you see this. The vet got everything lined up, then guided the needle into the correct place.

what it looked like on u/s

Then all the juice went in. The vet injected with Depo-medrol, giving Henry a little bit extra considering how reactive he was to palpation and given all the history and details I provided.

He felt like it was prudent to start with just the right side (since he really wasn’t seeing any sensitivity on the left) and see if that does the trick. I was on board with trying the less expensive, less invasive option first. The fewer needles we stick in, the better. Once the injection was done, he ran the ultrasound up Henry’s spine looking at his vertebrae, just because he was already up there with the machine, to make sure he didn’t have any kind of kissing spines going on. All looked good until he got to the middle, right at the lowest part of Henry’s back. Then we could see that there were a couple spots where the space in between his vertebrae was reduced.


We went ahead and took an xray (yay, more machines) and yep – there are definitely two spots where there is reduced space and a little bit of degeneration. However, the vet thought that it was fairly mild and didn’t see anything that he felt would definitely warrant treatment at this point. He stuck some cortisone in there just because he had it and figured it wouldn’t hurt, but said that for now we shouldn’t be too concerned. If it starts to become a problem later, we have several options, but hopefully that’s not a bridge we ever have to cross.

Poor Henny had quite a day (and so did my wallet) but fingers crossed that we’re finally on the right road. Hopefully this is what we needed to get Henry’s SI area back on track again. The plan is to keep doing regular acupuncture so we can hopefully keep that area feeling as good as possible for as long as possible (also because see first note about my affinity for making it rain on vets, and acupuncturist is also a vet).

Just Stop, Horse.

Things Henry is good at: moving around. Things Henry is not good at: halting and standing still. Unless it’s summer and he’s hot, in which case standing still is an entirely swell idea.

Can be still when distracted

But, it’s not summer, and we really can’t keep doing the whole “when it suits Henry” thing. I mean, he’d like that, but it really is pretty atrocious manners and makes for some hideous halts in our dressage tests. Plus he’s about to be TEN, and I think a 10yo horse should be able to halt and stand whenever I say so. I know, very demanding.

This past summer when he spent a couple weeks at boot camp with Trainer, she worked a lot on his half halt, which of course is pretty vital to a real halt. And he didn’t really have either of those things, but she fixed that pretty quickly.

So thrilling. So fun.

But then he hurt himself and was off for a while, and then the first couple months of bringing him back under saddle were mostly just going forward and getting him loosened up again. Then I was more focused on getting ready for the show. I kinda let the whole “good-downward-transitions-and-halting/standing-when-told” thing go by the wayside. No surprise, our downward transitions and final halt at the show were gross. It kinda looked a lot like this:

Image result for superstar gif

Cue the re-tuning of the whoa button. Since the show I’ve mostly been doing dressage rides, getting that half-halt back in tune, and working on the halt itself. I want it like… at least kinda close to square. And like… immobile for at least a 5 count (gotta start somewhere). I dream of being one of those people that can halt, pause, and THEN salute. Henny is the king of halt and then do this face:

Not an official dressage move

and then his butt starts swinging around and he’s staring off into the bushes (or at the start box, at shows), because standing is just Too Much. One ride this week was just 45 minutes of walk, halt, stand. Over and over. The transitions themselves are getting a lot better, but the standing part is still iffy. He doesn’t know what to do with all that Hennyness when he can’t move his feet.

This is the most boring and annoying thing in the world to work on, but now I’m annoyed enough to be determined. At some point we’ll have great halts. Granted, it might not be until the weather gets really hot and standing still becomes Henny’s idea again.

The Full Story on the Truck Tent

I’ve mentioned my truck tent a lot on this blog, but really haven’t devoted much time to talking about it in detail since I started using it. Today we finally get down to the nitty gritty, pros and cons, and everyone’s favorite: dollar amounts.

To start off with, I have a Napier Truck Bed Tent and an Airbedz Truck Bed Air Mattress. Both were purchased from AutoAnything for about $350 total (fun fact – that site will price match, so do some research!). There are lots of different styles and brands of tents and mattresses… Bobby has a fancier tent with a canopy, for example, and there is a lite version of the heavy duty mattress that I have. Cost wise, my set-up is probably slightly on the higher end of “middle of the road”.


The real question is: has it paid off?

Dollars-wise, it definitely has. Last year alone I spent 14 nights at shows in the tent (most of those being at Coconino of course). If we figure that, on average, I’d have been spending $80 per night at a probably semi-questionable hotel, that would have been $1,120 alone in hotel costs.

By the time all was said and done, the air mattress and the tent paid for themselves plus left an extra $770 in my pocket last year alone. That’s a couple more shows worth of entry fees! It has undoubtedly been my best money-saving purchase to date.

You also have to factor in the gas it saves by not having to drive back and forth, considering that at a lot of our venues the closest hotel can easily be 20 miles away. I didn’t pull numbers for that, because it would have purely been a guess, but it would be safe to say you could also toss in a couple hundred more bucks in gas savings.


But what about comfort? Usually when people see the truck tent, the first reaction is “That’s so cool”, followed about 3 seconds later by “but I don’t know if I could camp, I like having a bed and a shower”. I get that. Camping isn’t for everyone. To be honest, that was my initial biggest turnoff about the whole setup as well. But over time I’ve come to much prefer the tent for a few reasons:

  1. Hotels are kind of gross. I have a really over-inflated irrational fear of bedbugs and other people’s filth, so usually I spend at least an hour every night in a hotel imagining that things are crawling on me.
  2. I like being close to my horse. Usually I’m able to park within 50′ of his stall, so if he were to get cast or something, I would hear it and be there immediately. I can also easily get up and check on him if need be. It makes me feel a lot more relaxed.
  3. You get to sleep more. Less time driving back and forth equals more time sleeping! I can also stumble out of bed, go feed, and then stumble back to eat/change before heading back up to the barn. It’s definitely a time saver to stay on-site.
  4. The peace and quiet. I usually don’t sleep that well in hotels because of the noise. Cars, slamming doors, people above you that sound like a herd of elephants, people talking on the other side of thin walls… it all keeps me awake. At shows there’s usually very little to no noise after 10pm when everyone else leaves.


I’ve found that as long as I have the appropriate linens/blankets/sleeping bag, I’m quite comfortable. It got down to 40 degrees at night at Coconino and was 85 at night at MeadowCreek, but I slept well at both extremes (especially as I’ve learned how to adjust my blanket and clothing choices based on temperature, which was admittedly a bit of a learning curve). I’ve also learned that if it’s super humid, I’ve got to leave more ventilation open in the tent to prevent condensation. And if there’s a chance of rain, definitely put the rainfly on (it works, but only if you remember to put it on!).

My mattress is a full size queen, so I have plenty of space to spread out and flop around, or it can easily accommodate two people. When we went to Coconino I snagged the memory foam mattress topper from our guest bedroom for extra comfort, since we were camping for so many days in a row. It was SO COMFORTABLE.

our Coconino setup

Ah, but what about a shower?

The great thing is that, for us at least, most of the venues we show at have some kind of shower access. The only place we stayed at last year that didn’t have showers was Coconino. Luckily we had people with living quarter trailers and rental houses that would let us come use their shower. I think next time, if we were spending an extended period of time at a venue with no showers, I would buy a solar shower. But all of our regular venues have a shower, so I just bring a towel with me and I’m good to go. If it’s just one night and the weather isn’t too hot, I’m also not opposed to a “baby wipe shower”. No one is pretty at horse shows, anyway.

The lack of nighttime entertainment hasn’t been an issue either. Usually I socialize until a bit before bedtime, check on the horses, and then read for a while. It’s ridiculously relaxing, and I certainly do not miss having time away from a TV or laptop for a couple days.

Bobby’s tent has a fancy canopy

Food-wise, camping does require a bit more planning. Usually once I’m at the show I don’t leave again, so I have to remember to pack a cooler with whatever food I need to get through the weekend. It would be a PITA to have to take the tent down just so you can drive into town for food. Usually I’m ok at remembering to bring food, although sometimes I forget until the last minute. I’m still adjusting to this part. I personally don’t bother with any kind of heating elements or cooking, so I tend to bring stuff that does not require heating. I’ve found that this actually saves me money too, because I’m not eating out at restaurants anymore while I’m at shows. If you like to indulge in some gourmet eats at shows, it’s probably easier to find a friend to take you and bring you back rather than putting up and taking down your tent repeatedly.

Which, speaking of, doesn’t actually take that long. When I first got it I had to practice putting it all together a couple times at home so that I could learn where everything went and get all the straps adjusted, but now I can put that thing up in less than 10 minutes. It’s pretty simple, just a few clips down each side of the truck bed to keep the tent in place, then 4 tent poles. Trust me, I am an idiot when it comes to things like this (an engineer I am NOT), and even I think it’s easy once you “get it”. My mattress has a battery that you just plug in, turn a dial, and it inflates itself in just a few minutes (deflates itself the same way, too!). Very simple and pretty quick.

The only accessories I’ve added to my truck tent lifestyle are a cool little fan/light combo (an awesome gift from Hillary!) that clips to the roof of the tent, and a cheap bathmat that I put down in my trailer so I have somewhere to stand and change clothes.

There are so many great camping accessories out there now, though, you can have just about anything you want.

I know the truck tent camping life isn’t for everyone, but for me it’s worked out great. The dollars saved, and the convenience of staying on-site, have proven to be really worthwhile.

Like a cowboy in chaps

I love Henry to pieces, but a great mover he is not. His canter is by far his best gait, and indeed his canter is the reason I bought him. His walk and trot, however, definitely leave plenty to be desired. Especially if you watch him from the front.


His legs aren’t super straight… his cannons twist outward a bit just below the knee. This really hasn’t caused him any trouble physically, aside from the one very short-lived farrier who tried to make his feet LOOK straight and caused him to pop a splint. In the realm of crooked legs, his aren’t so bad. I’ve seen and owned worse.

Does not prevent him from rearranging and trying to sit on furniture when I turn my back for 5 minutes

Henry’s crookedness mostly just shows up in his movement. His front legs have a more circular articulation–a bit like the classic over-exaggeration of a bowlegged cowboy walking around in fringed chaps.

front legs are supposed to move in circles, right?

Of course, the very first impression a dressage judge gets of him is trotting up center line, and the front view is where it’s most obvious. We will never get great gait scores. Otherwise, the only issue it has really caused for him is that he interferes up front. A LOT.

I had to go through a few brands of front boots before I found some that didn’t spin on him. And because he does interfere so much, he’s very very hard on his front boots. He also has to wear bell boots 24/7 because I’ve never seen a horse that can pull a shoe like this one can. He steps on his own feet a lot.

It’s really impressive that these Majyk Equipe boots are 2.5 years old and the front bindings are just finally starting to die. 

But I also don’t think I’ve ever had a horse that was so consistently good with his knees over every. single. jump. There’s no such thing as a bad jumping picture of Henry; if you get the timing right, his style will be good. Maybe loose below the knee depending on how unimpressed he is, but the knees are always up and even, crooked legs be damned.

knees to chin 4 life

In the grand scheme of things, his crookedness has not mattered much. He’s not a pretty mover, and his legs aren’t perfect, but he doesn’t know that. I just keep him very well-booted (yes, his “everyday” boots are XC boots) and make sure we have a good farrier.

Legs aren’t perfect, but HE is

Anyone else have a crooked-legged creature, or are crooked legs a dealbreaker for you?


It was 110% as miserable as I expected, but it is done.


Next time I’m all “Maybe I could do another half marathon!”, please someone slap me. You have permission. Here’s a breakdown of how it went:

Start Line – WOOOO LET’S GO!

Mile 1 – What a gorgeous day.

Mile 2 – This is actually kind of fun, look at all these people!

Mile 3 – *playing air drums to Anti-Flag*

Mile 4 – Wow, are we still on the north side of town?

Mile 5 – The halfway point has to be around here somewhere…

Mile 6 – Yeah, halfway!! That was easy!!

Mile 7 – It’s getting a little warm.


Mile 9 – I think I have a blister, but I can’t really feel my legs, so who knows?

Mile 10 – Jesus Christ, there are still THREE MORE?

Mile 11 – Kill me. Anyone. Someone. I will pay you.

Mile 12 – Ok, one more. I can do one more. Just keep moving, legs.

Mile 13 – *don’t pass out, don’t pass out*

Finish Line – Praise Jesus, Zeus, Allah, Buddha, and Vishnu! OMG never again.

family post-finish photo

Was it fun? No. It was the opposite of fun. But we did it, so there’s that.

I would have finished in my goal time, but I stopped at the 100m to go mark to wait for my dad. Because you just don’t leave people behind, goal time or no goal time. My dad, my sister-in-law and I all started together, so we all finished together too. I can’t wait to see the finish photo of all of us looking equally miserable together.

And THEN in the afternoon I went and got a new tattoo with Beka! She was in town for the weekend, and what better way to do some blogger bonding than via new ink? Beka got a really awesome new piece that I’ll let her show you (you’ve already seen it if you follow her on Insta), and I got the last two lines from the poem Invictus:


The left side of my body needed something, since all 3 of my other tattoos are on the right. Originally it was gonna be ribs, but I think I want something bigger there, so arm it was!

Then I stuffed my face with Mexican food and fell asleep pretty much the moment my head hit the pillow. Today I’m definitely a bit stiff all over… mostly my right hamstring, and I have a pain in my left knee that probably isn’t good. The chafing is also next level. Otherwise though, I survived!

It was great to meet Beka and her husband too, she is just as cool as she seems. I did a completely terrible job of taking pictures… as in I took none. Oops. Next time.

Oft-Spoken Words

I’m not a big talker while I’m riding. Some people can ride around, chattering forever either to themselves or their horse, and seem to be able to ride just fine. I am not one of those people. I’m not very chatty to begin with, plus let’s be honest it takes every ounce of concentration and ability that I possess just to be able to ride. There’s no room for chit-chat.

concentrating on not dying

But I have noticed that there are a few things I find myself saying to Henry quite often. “Good Boy” is the most obvious one, and he loves that. Anyone who has watched a Henny helmet cam video has seen how he reacts to an enthusiastic “Good Boy!” after a great effort. “Oh my god she’s right… I AM A GOOD BOY! ME HENNY!” as he gallops away, ears pricked. I’m a big believer in the power of a well-timed “Good Boy”.


There’s also “Sorry” – another obvious one. He hears that from me probably a lot more often than he’d like. “Sorry” is sometimes used in conjunction with “Good Boy”. Such is the life on an amateur horse. Sorry Henny. Good Boy.

Then there’s the one he gets from me A LOT… at least a few times a week. His feet get to moving too fast and then he starts tripping a lot, which prompts the reminder “Slow your feet down so your brain can catch up!”. It’s valid, trust me. Those hamsters in his brain can only spin their wheel so fast.

exhibit A

In the barn the most common is probably “I felt teeth”. He likes to rest his head on me, or lick me to death (it’s kind of disgusting how much he likes to lick), but it’s inevitable that he’ll start testing the limits. First he starts pressing his teeth against you, then he’ll tap you with them. If you don’t give the stern “HEY!!! I FELT TEETH!!!” reminder at that point, he’ll happily go one step further and take a nibble. Such a cheeky little shit.

Yes Henny, you’re hilarious.

What about you guys with your horses? What phrases do you find yourself repeating all the time?

You go, Mary Babick.

One of the first things I noticed when I switched to eventing from h/j-land was how the sharps containers at events were a) very sparse b) never had anything in them. At the bigger events there were maybe 3 of them scattered across the stabling area and they always appeared untouched. At the smaller events you may or may not even see one at all. Yet at h/j shows it seems like there’s a sharps container on every other aisle, and they’re full pretty much from the word go. We have enough of our own problems in eventing, but sticking lots of needles into our horses isn’t one of them.

As most of you know, I grew up doing h/j and spent plenty of time in the hunter ring. For a long time I thought that the A/O hunters were my ultimate fantasy. I bred Sadie specifically hoping that she would grow up to be my fancy hunter. Yet by the time she was 4 I had already grown very weary of the hunter ring, and it didn’t take long for that weariness to turn into complete and total disillusion. I had a great trainer who was one of the “good guys”, but I noticed more and more that the good guys were awfully damn few, and often at a disadvantage. Needless to say, I was not disappointed when we re-routed Sadie to the jumper ring.

I was hopeful that when the derbies started getting super popular, good changes would come about and some of the demons of the hunter world would fall by the wayside. They didn’t. Before a derby class at one show, a horse dropped dead because of an incorrectly administered magnesium injection. It wasn’t the first, nor would it be the last. But that’s the day I wrote the sport off, for me personally anyway, as lost.


When I saw Mary Babick’s facebook post earlier this week, I thought here, finally, was someone saying exactly what I’ve been thinking. Judging by the way it went viral almost immediately, I’m obviously not the only one. There was one part in particular that really stood out to me:

“As I sat in the airport, I was joined by two fellow USEF directors. The talk turned quickly to the shocking statistic which was presented in Murray Kessler’s Strategic Plan. That statistic? That almost 60% of all doping violations are in the hunter sport. The two directors (an active athlete from dressage and another from Morgan) expressed horror at our transgressions. The dressage athlete told the two of us that people in dressage are embarrassed to be part of a doping violation. She asked why we were not.
Her question rang true with me. Why aren’t we embarrassed? Have we lost our love for horses? Do we love money more than our honor? I don’t know the answer but I do know that this lack of integrity is both a sickness of people’s souls and our sport.”

This is exactly what I’ve been wondering for a long time. So many BNT and BNR have had doping violations, some of them on a pretty damn regular basis. And these are only the ones getting caught using testable substances… what about all the others that have found their way around the tests? Yet it doesn’t seem like a big deal to anyone. These people still show, they still win, they still sell horses, they still have a barn full of clients, they still have good reputations, and they still make plenty of money.  This is what has always been so shocking to me… the level of acceptance that seems to exist, and the number of people who are seemingly okay with it.


The fact that Mary, USHJA president, was willing to come forward and state her opinion in a very public way gives me some hope. Hats off to you and your lady balls, Mary. I really hope that this is the beginning of some good conversation and some positive changes within USEF and USHJA. I’d love to be a hunter fan again.

Pine Hill Jan Show: Show Day

Nothing like starting a show day with an 80% chance of thunderstorms and a 7:42 dressage time.

and this loser

It was kind of a gross, dreary day from the get-go, but luckily the rain showers that passed through around 5am were long gone by the time I got on Henry and headed down to dressage warmup. Our goal for this show was just to try to keep him as quiet and relaxed as possible, keep myself PRESENT, and see how much I could ask for in the ring. We walked for a while, trotted a bit, then did some canter with a few lengthenings (remember when I used to not be able to canter in dressage warmup?). Being a one day show, and knowing that dressage is not our forte, we opted for a pretty short and sweet warmup. Just no point in anything else. Full disclosure, I don’t have any media from dressage, so feel free to just scroll right on down to stadium if you don’t want to deal with my word vomit. Here’s a picture to hold you over until you make it down that far:


He went in the ring a little bit “up” but overall I thought it was a passable test. He got heavy after the first canter and I never was really able to get his balance back (uh, maybe sit up?), and most of the trot at the beginning was done with him keeping one eyeball on the XC jumps nearby. We haven’t had a dressage lesson since August, and neither of us have done a test since July, so I expected it to be rusty and it was. But there were two things I really LOVED:

1) I stayed present and I didn’t just turn into at total blob. At one point in the canter lengthening I even smiled. Whaaaaaat, me smiling in dressage? Hell hath frozen over. I was amused at my horse, who was hoping that we were going to gallop out of the ring and over to cross country (hence why there wasn’t much of a lengthening, lest we exit the arena unexpectedly).

2) After we halted and left the ring, Henry wasn’t chomping. Normally by the end of the test his brain is pretty maxed out and he’s quite tense when he leaves. And when he’s tense, he chomps his mouth at a really impressive rate. There was none of that this time, and he went back over to the warmup and stood fairly still for a few minutes while we talked to Trainer and watched Bobby go.

Those two things alone are huge wins in my book, and exactly what we were there to do. I was just aiming for a score under 40, and we got a 37.4, so I was totally fine with that. Somehow our highest score was the stretchy trot circle, which I will happily take.

We had a couple hours in between dressage and stadium, so Bobby and I went over and walked the course one last time. It was set for Intermediate/Preliminary, and I have to thank Trainer here for getting me comfortable with bigger fences, because their jumps didn’t look that big to me. Ah yes, this is why you always school higher than you show. I felt pretty good walking around their course knowing that ours would be two holes lower. For some reason leading up to this show I had been more freaked out about stadium than anything else.

While we were tacking up we checked the radar and saw a big ugly cell headed straight at us. Cue a very quick and abbreviated warmup, hoping to get through stadium before that thing hit. We did a few laps of canter, hopped over the crossrail once, the vertical once, then the oxer once. Henry was getting to the base and jumping really well, and I was actually not pulling, so I quit with that and went up to the ring.

We trotted in, halted, then picked up the canter and headed to the first fence. He went right into a really good rhythm and all I remember thinking as we cantered down to fence 1 (a single oxer) was “Oh thank god, these jumps look little!”. I dunno why I thought they’d look big, but I was really glad they didn’t.

Fence 1

We hopped over the first few fences and I’m not really sure where this horse came from, but Henry was jumping like a total freak. He was coming off the ground with so much power that it was all I could do to stay with him. I whoaed a teeny bit too much in the corner before the first double at 5AB and thus had a bit of a long two stride, which made 6 come up a short. He hit it, but it stayed up. The tight rollback to 7, which I’d worried about the most, actually rode really well.

a little late, but he’s still cute, so whatevs

Although he jumped 7 so hard that (aside from almost gouging my own eye out with the end of my whip) I pulled a little to 8, then landed and pulled a little more to 9AB, the last double. Instead of just letting him come forward out of the corner I tried to cram one more stride in and Henry, bless his soul, had to climb out over the oxer at B. That mistake cost us 4 faults, but… whatever. We did it, the jumps looked small, he was jumping amazing, and I made DECISIONS (ok that last one was a bad decision, but at least I made one).

I wore my raincoat, hoping that my preparedness would keep the rain at bay. It worked for my round, at least. 

It started raining during Bobby’s round, then as we were headed back to the barn the skies finally opened up and it poured buckets. Lots and lots and lots of buckets. Once the lightning started they held the show, and we all just stood around watching the XC course turn into one giant lake. By the time it stopped raining there was no doubt – XC wasn’t happening. The whole thing got turned into a CT, but it was the only right decision to make. No way the footing would have been safe out there, especially back in the woods. I was bummed at not getting to run around XC, but not at all bummed about not having to do it in the mud. Henry is drilled and tapped, and I had studs with me, but still. There will always be another day, and I’d rather not run our first Training XC in the slop.

When the road became a river, which started flowing toward the barns…

Overall I was happy with the day. I stayed calm, had fun, and Henry was great. We definitely have more work to do to get everything more polished, but that will come. After a long 6 month break, it was great to be back!  I may have already sent in my entry for the February show… fingers crossed it’s a little drier.

Pine Hill January show: Pre-Game

First of all… I think I love schooling shows. I literally had all of my clothes, including show clothes, packed in a backpack. It took me maybe 5 minutes. I didn’t have to pack a ton of shit, I didn’t have to braid, and it was cheap. Sign me up for this. Ok, but not permanently, because I did miss wearing my Winston coat a little, but it was fun to be casual for once.

Henny is also a fan of casual

On Saturday I was up early (because I’m always up early, because I go to bed early, because I’m 33 going on 85), and as I was leaving my neighborhood I realized that although I had remembered to gather all of Henry’s crap, I forgot to get any food/drinks for myself. Oops. A quick stop at Walmart to grab whatever I could carry (which amounted to 2 Lunchables, an apple, some Goldfish crackers, and 2 waters… spoiler alert this is not enough food for 24 hours) I was back en route. I went to the barn, shoved all my crap in my truck/trailer, and headed out. I’ll be honest and tell you a secret here: I didn’t even clean anything. The forecast for the weekend looked gross, and my give-a-shits just were not numerous enough.

Well that sounds beautiful

I was one of the first ones to arrive, so I parked my trailer in a primo spot and got Henry settled. Bobby and I were lucky enough to get awesome stabling spots in a smaller barn that is less chaotic and has more space. Loved it. Then Bobby got there, parked next to me (because stalker), we put our tents up, got everything unpacked, and then got on the boys.

Truck Tents are back!
checking out his digs

Earlier in the week Henry had a day where he just felt kinda crappy under saddle (like SI flaring up again), to the point where I almost scratched. Then the next day he felt super, so I decided to just go and see what horse I had. If he felt weird, I could always scratch. We got on and walked for a while, then I rode him down to the arena and Trainer asked to see him trot and canter. Henry was moving pretty damn great, albeit he was a bit of a sassy dolphin. We quit after a very short ride, just in case, but definitely got the thumbs up to proceed. He might end up being wild for dressage, but he felt good and that was more important. He literally pranced back the barn, fairly certain that we were headed to the start box for XC. He was super bummed when he got a bath instead.

When in doubt, make faces at Halo

After the boys were settled we went to walk stadium, then walked XC twice. It was warm and humid enough to where I was sweating balls by this point. There was much chafing. Thanks, Texas in January. Overall though, I felt pretty good about the XC and stadium courses (mentally, not physically, because see above note about chafing).

Then we fed the boys, ate dinner (mmm… Lunchable…), socialized a bit, and took the horses for a handwalk. I DID wipe my bridles down with a wet rag and thoroughly brush out my horse’s tail, so… wow, such effort. Then I popped one of Bobby’s ZzzQiul’s and was in bed by 9. With a 7:42 dressage time, it was gonna be an early morning…