I felt so “on it” about Baby Horse’s name. I had it narrowed down before he was even conceived, and it didn’t take me very long into Sadie’s gestation before I settled on Magic Word – barn name Presto. It had to be an M name because we had fully intended to take this foal RPSI, Sadie’s registry of birth. For them, foal names follow the first letter of the sire’s name. Mighty Magic = M.
But then a few weeks ago Michelle and I started brainstorming about some other things, and I got some news about Sadie’s registration status (great news! which I will share whenever it’s all final). For several different reasons, it would really be tremendously easier if we did sBs for registration instead. I don’t mind this at all, because the sBs folks were so incredibly gracious to us on our Belgium visit a couple years ago. They’re super nice, and while sBs is a small registry, they’ve managed to produce a lot of good horses.
Plus their brand looks like the Budweiser symbol, which greatly amuses me for some reason. This is a Budweiser Warmblood, y’all.
All was well and good with that until Michelle reminded me that their naming convention is different – they do a certain letter every year. This year it’s L. So close to M, but not. You know what doesn’t start with L? MAGIC WORD.
So I’ve spent the past week trying to figure out a decent L name with little success. Karen threw out Like Magic, which is the only one I like so far. And it still works with Presto. I’ve googled magic terms, harry potter spells and characters, french words, you name it. No luck. You’re killing me, sBs.
I mean, I could just put Le in front of Magic Word for registration purposes and be done with it (and just drop the Le for showing) but that seems kinda Lame (bonus points for L-word). Anybody got ideas for L names that have something to do with magic in some way? I suddenly feel so unprepared.
I dunno who invented the concept of $5 jumper rounds, but serious tip of the hat to you my friend. Basically the concept is that you can do as many rounds as you want at whatever height you want for $5 a pop. There are two courses per height (take your pick, or do both, or do repeats) and the height goes up every hour. Show up when you want, jump as much or as little as you want. Clear rounds get blue ribbons. So simple, so cheap, and so perfect.
Since I got semi-run-away-with in Stadium last weekend at Pine Hill, I thought this would be a most excellent opportunity to get more practice. The show was at my trainer’s barn and started with ground poles and worked up from there, so we showed up around noon, watched for a while, and then I tacked up as they were setting the jumps for Training.
Henny felt super in warmup so I kept it pretty short. A little trot, some lateral work (making sure I could get the inside hind under him), some canter, and two jumps. Then it was over to the ring to look at the course, then we were in. Henny was pumped, but much less HI HO SILVER than at Pine Hill last weekend. He’s definitely learned what the whistle means though, he always wants to leap into action when the whistle blows. But overall it was a decent first course. The T jumps looked small, he jumped around easily, and I didn’t pull.
Since we weren’t a disaster we decided to just save him and do a Prelim round instead of another T. I watched a little nervously as they put the jumps up, measured everything, and squared off/widened the oxers. It looked healthy sized but not too big. Thanks Trainer for making the jumps stupid huge in lessons.
We went in and had a pretty decent trip, considering it was our first “official” (as official as a $5 jumper round can be) Prelim round together. We had one rail and rattled a couple others, mostly because I needed to do a better job of keeping his shoulders up all the way to the base. But Henry listened to me really well and it didn’t seem hard or huge, just need a bit more finesse at the height to clean it up. Super proud of my pony though, he did everything I asked. 1000% more rideable than last weekend.
Overall it was a great, fun, CHEAP (for real, I spent $20 with grounds fee) show day. Better yet, it was exactly the stadium practice we needed. I’m all about the $5 jumper rounds, we’ll definitely be participating in more of these.
Now Henry gets to enjoy a bit of a break from shows until after his baby brother is born!
I’ve been waiting not-so-patiently to review this, because it’s something that I really didn’t think I wanted, yet it’s become my favorite piece of Lund tack. Why? I’m not totally sure I can explain it… I just really love it. Alas, for the sake of an actual review, I’ll try to explain.
The leather is the same Sedgwick as all the other Lund stuff. Pretty, with fancy stitching, Italian leather padding, and the little bit of elastic is navy, which is obviously a plus. I think part of what makes me like it so much is the look. It’s essentially a classic polo style breastcollar, just with additional snaps to the saddle dees (or dee savers, which it comes with). When I first got it I thought that while it was reminiscent of the breastplates that literally everyone used to use, I hadn’t seen any exactly like it before. But the more I started looking, the more I noticed how popular this style is, especially amongst eventers. Michael Jung, PDutty, Sinead Halpin… I’ve seen a breastplate like this on at least one of their horses at some point or another. It seems particularly common in Europe (what do they know that we don’t?).
And now that I’ve used it for a while, I get it. At first I was worried that just one simple leather strap across the chest would be restrictive, but because this one a) sits above the point of the shoulder b) has little elastic inserts, I’ve found just the opposite. Henry goes really well in this thing and has tons of shoulder freedom, which makes me think that maybe it’s really the piece that runs between his front legs on a regular breastplate that can feel more restrictive to a horse. Or to him, anyway. Henry seems to really go well in the Lund four point, with a big open stride and plenty of freedom to stretch when he needs to.
Yet it also does a good job of keeping my saddle in place. It has less straps than the 5 point, so it looks cleaner and is less fussy to put on, but I’ve not had any sliding issues, either side to side or front to back. It’s really just a nice, simple, classic breastplate that does exactly what it’s supposed to do. The only complaint I had was that when I first got it, the leather straps to the girth felt a little thick under my leg. While that feeling did go away as the leather broke in, I believe Lund is going to make a change to have this strap be nylon and therefore less bulky. Generally this style breastplate is more common with eventers in the dressage ring (you see them All The Time in eventing dressage), so I think they’re going to make it available in black at some point, too.
As of right now the Lund four point collar comes in brown and retails for $137 USD, or $185 Canadian. They’re giving one away to one lucky winner this month too! If you’re on the fence about it, I strongly encourage you to try it. Everyone I know that has one loves it, myself and Henry included.
Today marks day 318 of Sadie’s pregnancy! We are oh so very close to the “viable” mark of 320 days, thank god. 340 days is average, she went 330 last time, so either way… it’s coming soon. 320 is the point at which we can all breathe a small sigh of relief – one less thing to worry about once we make it past that point!
Sadie has had some changes to her shape and her udder but nothing is looking too imminent yet. We’ll see if she follows the same pattern as her first foal, as far as her milk production and waxing before foaling. She hasn’t started trying to tear the barn down yet so I’m guessing she’s not that close. Uncomfortable mare equals angry mare equals destruction of property.
I don’t think she looks quite as big this time as she did last time either. Of course, Merlin was a baby elephant and this one should, in theory, be a bit smaller. One of Michelle’s other mares, Lissa, is also at 318 and there for a while I thought she looked quite a bit bigger, but now I think Sadie has caught up.
The closer we get to 320, the better I feel. As in, before I was 51% anxious, 49% excited and now I’m more like 52% excited and 48% anxious. I think I’ll breathe a lot easier once baby is here and healthy, but making it to 320 helps a little.
I sent in my check to audit a Future/Young Event Horse clinic in Dallas on March 4-5, so I’m gonna go ahead and bet all my money on that being when she foals. Because let’s be honest, I was tempting fate by going to that anyway, and going so far as to send a check probably sealed the deal. But if you haven’t already placed your official baby bets for the contest, don’t forget that the deadline is 2/28!
Our favorite local eventing venue Pine Hill is putting on a “Friends of Ellie” (Ellie is the facility owner’s special needs daughter) benefit derby in May. They put out a call for division sponsors (my check is in the mail!) and also asked for donations for raffle items. I love a raffle, and I think I’m in a good position (being a public loudmouth) to help get some stuff donated, so I thought I’d get a general opinion on what kind of things everyone likes to see in a raffle?
Tack and equipment, gift cards, baskets, lessons, alcohol (I know you people), non horse-related items, etc? What kind of stuff makes you want to make it rain raffle tickets? Anyone who’s helped organized a raffle, what items have been really popular? Help me get a better idea of what I should try to pursue for donations!
If you have something you’d like to donate or know of a business that might be interested, please let me know (you can email me through my Contact page!). I was mainly trying to drum up raffle items, but the show is also looking for division sponsors, and sponsors get ad space in the program if they want it. Win/win.
This event benefits four different local charities that are all, well… friends of Ellie (hence the name), and by extension, friends of Pine Hill (you can read about them on the link above) so it would be great if we could raise some good money for them. Pine Hill has been a mainstay for eventing in Texas for decades; everyone behind this is Great People.
Despite a fairly ominous looking forecast, we didn’t get rained out this time! It was ridiculously humid Sunday morning before the wind picked up though. I was sweating balls just from getting dressed and had sweat dripping into my eyes in dressage warmup. Ah, February in Texas.
I got on for dressage and had surprisingly little horse. Like… I was kicking him. Henry! Kicking! I actually regretted not putting my spurs on. But he warmed up really well and came into a nice connection pretty quickly, with good trot work both ways, some lengthenings, and a little lateral work. We did a few medium walk to free walk to medium again, trying to prevent that anticipation he sometimes gets, then just chilled til it was our turn. He was being so good I didn’t even want to canter, lest I ruin whatever magical unicorn juju we had going on.
And what do you know, he went in the ring and was actually quite rideable, obedient, and kept a steady connection. Pretty much everything was better than last month’s test. It actually took all the leg strength I had to keep him cantering. What horse is this? I have no idea. But he scored a 30.5, which would have put us in second if we weren’t going HC. Whaaaaaaaat??? The judge even said he was “obedient”. Pretty sure that’s a first.
After dressage I had less than half an hour until stadium so I quickly changed tack, put my spurs on, grabbed my whip (because remember I thought I had no horse… HAHAHAHA spoiler alert), and trotted back down to warmup with just a few minutes to spare. As soon as we got in there Henry leapt into a canter and was SUPER AMPED. We jumped each warmup fence once then headed up to the ring, just in time to go in.
Aaaaand I was sitting on a keg of dynamite. As soon as the whistle blew it was high ho silver and Henry was off and running. Like, literally, he dragged me to the first 3 fences. I regretted the spurs/whip and instead wished I had brought my Dr Bristol. Someone was very cocky. We got so close to the base of 3 that he pulled the rail there, but that was finally enough to make him think that perhaps he should take my opinion into consideration. The rest of the course was still a bit quick, but he listened. Mostly. I think with the SI injections I got my badass horse back but kinda lost my brakes. Back to the Dr. Bristol next time for Mr. Sassypants.
Then we had 4 hours til XC.
We had talked to the TD beforehand and explained Henry’s current issue with the Irish bank. Since I was already running HC, she gave me permission to skip it if I wanted to (yay schooling shows!). I figured I’d decide when we got to it.
Henry didn’t realize it was XC time until a horse zipped past him in warmup. Then he was suddenly quite awake and raring to go. I had opted to take off my spurs, lest we end up somewhere in Timbuktu, but he was definitely feeling forward as we hopped over a few warmup jumps. He marched over to the startbox, occupied himself with licking the box while they counted us down (it wouldn’t be Henry if he wasn’t doing something totally weird, right?), and then we were off and running.
I don’t have helmet cam footage because I lost my charger cable. Just add that to the comedy of errors already accumulated from yesterday’s post.
We popped easily over 1 and 2, then he really clicked into gear and hunted down the bank combo – the train car to the double up bank then bending 4 strides to a skinny on top of the hill. I gave him a big “good boy!” and a pat, and he dug in galloping again.
We flew over the skinny rolltop at 6, jumped the brush fence at 7, then he saw the Irish bank and I immediately felt him hesitate. Maaaaybe I could have booted him off it if I really wanted to push it, but he’d been rolling along so well up to then that I didn’t see the point in ruining what we had going. We already know he needs to school that question more, so why possibly create an issue for no reason? I let the jump judge know I was skipping it and we kept going.
There was a long gallop through the woods (which was half Henry spooking at the bushes and half him being SO HAPPY to be galloping. I was laughing.) then we came out of the woods, he spotted the water, and he was positively jubilant. He really loves water.
After that was the huge ramp that used to freak me out so much, which we easily jumped out of stride. Take that, stupid giant ramp that used to make me crap myself! Then through the crater at the time warp, more galloping (and spooking) through the woods to the angled feeders. He was totally lock and load at both. It was like as soon as he saw the jumps he went “OMG I FOUND IT!!!” and he was On It. All I did was get him on the right line and hang on. If horses could smile, he’d have been ear to ear.
Then we weaved around some trees to the corner, which we’ve never jumped before but have heard everyone talk about how it just doesn’t jump well. Henry spotted it and took me straight to it, no problem. I don’t think I could have missed it if I tried. After that it was just one more gallop stretch, over the last brush fence, and through the finish!
Bobby hates the corner
Yeah, we skipped the Irish bank (which IMO is a really hard question for the level on a “move up” course… alas no one asked me…), but I don’t really care. Everything else was total clockwork, he ate it up, and nothing looked big. We’ve jumped off the Irish bank before, and we’ll do it again… just… not until Henry really understands how to do it properly. Plus, even though I went watchless we came in 10 seconds under optimum, so our pace was right on. Henry pranced back to the barn and cooled down quickly.
I needed a confidence booster to feel like we belong at this level, and that’s what we got. It was our first XC run since Coco last JULY, and it was so freaking fun to be back out there again. I was thrilled with his dressage, fine with stadium (ok I need more whoa but the jumps looked small, so I’ll take that), and super happy with XC.
Henry is fit, he’s happy, he’s sound, and he’s jumping better than ever. What more could you ask for? WE DIDN’T DIE!!!
Buuuut my truck’s trailer lights DID die. They shorted somehow, and we were kinda stranded. Trainer hauled Henry (in my trailer) back to her barn since she’s near the show venue, and now Henry is “vacationing” there until my truck can have the wiring fixed (happening today, hopefully). Sigh. I broke the tent and the truck and managed to lose my helmet cam charger all in one weekend. Never a dull moment.
So, I’m still not actually home from the show yet. As of this moment I’m sitting in a trailer repair place, waiting for my truck to get fixed so I can haul home. Long story. We’ll get there. But if the formatting/pictures in today’s post look weird, it’s because I’m typing this on my phone. Bear with me.
Overall it was a SUPER productive show and I’m really pleased with how things went. I’m hoping the show photog will have pics if I drag the actual show recap out til tomorrow. I have video of everyone in the world except for me (Blogger Laura offered to video but I told her I didn’t want evidence of my shitshow, then my horse was freaking amazing. Go figure.) so let’s hope the photog comes through.
We headed up to the show on Saturday. Trainer and I were hoping to be able to get out there Friday and school Henry down the Irish bank (of death, that he cannot for the life of him figure out), but it rained and was too wet. So instead we decided that I’d just run HC and we’d lunge him off the bank on Saturday. Sadly, that was a no go too since it was still too wet in the woods. So instead we opted to lunge him down the banks in the front field where it was dry enough. Not what we really needed, but better than nothing.
And he was still a bit of a reetee about them. It took him a few tries (again) to remember to NOT PUT HIS FEET ON TOP OF THE LOG and instead to just jump over it and down. He ended up figuring it out, and after a couple hops down the prelim drop into water, we let him be done. Brain hamsters were a-spinning. Not the prep we really wanted, but it was all we could do and something he really needs anyway.
Then I bathed Henry, walked my XC and stadium (you know Trainer has been jacking your jumps up too high when Intermediate SJ doesn’t look big anymore), got all my stuff set up, and put up my tent. During which I got impatient, tried to cram something where I shouldn’t have, broke a tent pole, and got shards of plastic embedded in my finger. But a quick google search confirms that for $10 I can buy a replacement pole, so it’s ok. It held together well enough through the weekend. Just slightly… uh… bent.
Here’s where I should back up and explain that when I entered this show, I forgot the SO was going to be out of town at a work thing. Our dogs are high maintenance (and Stewie is an ankle biter. Literally.) so I decided to take them to the show with me. All three of them. With a horse. And just me. By myself. And we camped in a tent. All four of us. Yes I’m a moron.
Wrangling them during the day was pretty freaking tedious. I was trying to get lots of stuff done, yet one dog is so excited about life that she can’t even handle it, one dog hates everyone but me, and the other dog just wants to lay in the shade and be a corgblob. But all 3 of them turn into huge whiners when I leave them alone. It only took a couple hours for me to intensely regret my decision to bring them.
But somehow we made it work. Fun fact: 3 dogs and a human fit pretty comfortably on a queen size air mattress. Luckily the weather was perfect; it got down to 65 at night, so we were all pretty comfy. Once all my chores were done and everyone was fed, I got the dogs all snuggied in, grabbed my Kindle, popped a Benadryl (better horse show sleeping through pharmaceuticals!), and we were all asleep by 9.
I usually do a full body clip every year, so it’s been forever since I had a horse that was shedding a winter coat. Like… maybe a decade or more. Practicality-wise I love the Irish clip that I did this year on Henry, but now that we’re into shedding season OMG HAIR. He grows a coat like a wooly mammoth.
I’ve been currying Henry’s hairy ass for a month now, and it’s seemed like a lot of work for very little reward. I thought surely there was something out there that could get all the hair off more quickly and easily but didn’t cost an arm and a leg? When I saw that Teddy’s Tack Trunk is now carrying SleekEZ, I knew I wanted to try it. Toi only carries stuff that she likes, and she has yet to steer me wrong on a grooming tool.
I had the SleekEZ in my hands a couple days later (because TTT always breaks land speed records when it comes to shipping, I’m pretty sure they’re bribing the US postal service or something) and immediately took it to the barn. Much to my delight, the hair just showered right off with the SleekEZ. I’m a little obsessed with this thing, no lie. I love watching long gross winter hair pile up on the floor. I especially love that I don’t have to stand there and curry forever, stopping every once in a while to clean the hair out of the curry comb. Using the SleekEZ is as simple as using a sweat scraper, and the hair just falls away. Quick and easy (just like Bobby).
Besides just being a really easy, effective way at removing all that shedding hair, the SleekEZ also pulls dander and dirt out of the coat as well. It has a unique blade with tiny, closely spaced teeth that enable it to really get all the way down to the base of the hair. Henry had one particular flaky spot that I’d been picking at for a while, trying to get the scaly stuff off, and the SleekEZ pulled it all right out. It’s really easy to clean, too, just a simple spritz and then wipe down with a towel.
I’ve liked it so much that I’ve let a few other people use it as well, and everyone has been equally impressed. One person had been using a shedding blade and said that the SleekEZ gets way more hair out in way less time. I like the Large size to cover more surface area on the body, although I’ve also been using it (gently) on his legs too with no problem. Henry is a delicate flower with lots of opinions and has yet to complain about the SleekEZ.
At under $20 the SleekEZ is one of the cheaper shedding tools on the market, and IMO totally worth it. It’s made shedding season so much more bearable (and kind of a little fun…)!
When Bobby and I were in the truck driving to our lesson this past weekend, he asked me what my show plans were for the year. I just kind of shrugged and said “I dunno.” And it’s true, I really don’t know. Despite the fact that we have a show this weekend, I just haven’t felt very dedicated to the whole serious showing thing right now. That goal of “chill out about shows in 2017” hasn’t been all that difficult so far, to be honest.
Maybe it’s because 2015 and 2016 were SO show-oriented. I lived and breathed a show schedule, first in qualifying for AEC in 2015 and then the 3 Day in 2016. Every show was vitally important and I had to be really aware of how I spent my dollars. This year though? Meh. Meh is really the only word I have for it. I want my horse and I to continue to move forward and get better, of course, but for once I’m not measuring success in the form of show results and qualifications. There is no big lofty goal that I feel like we have to hit, and I don’t have a detailed, planned out show schedule.
I do still want to get in the ring, for sure. I need to get more experience under my belt at the new level, and I want to show, I just don’t want my life to revolve around it. I have a vague overall plan… there are a few more schooling shows I want to hit this spring if the timing works out (but I won’t be upset if it doesn’t), and I’m thinking our first recognized of the year will be Feather Creek in June. There’s a recognized at our regular schooling venue in April, and I have every reason to go, but I’m just not feeling it right now. I keep looking at the Omnibus, feeling like I should go. I have no reason NOT to, so I should WANT to, right? But I don’t. For no particular reason, it’s just not calling to me.
Maybe I managed to burn myself out a little bit in the past two years. Maybe I’m just too preoccupied with upcoming Baby Horse (holy shit, only another month or so to go!) to focus that much on showing. Maybe after losing the fall season due to my horse being injured gave me a different perspective. Maybe since Trainer is pregnant and “out” for the spring season, I’ve decided to let myself off the hook for a little while with the serious shows too. Maybe it’s a combination of all of those things.
But for once I don’t have a very specific plan. I don’t feel a twinge of envy when I see other people entering all these shows or planning an extensive show season. There’s zero FOMO here. It’s weird because part of me is like “You need to focus!” and the other part of me is like “MEH.”. It’s been kind of a nice change to just immerse myself in lessons, enter a show if I feel like it, not enter it if I don’t feel like it, and enjoy my horse. Things are pretty fluid around here these days.
It’s been weird though, because it’s almost as if I feel like I’m doing something wrong here. Like I need permission to take my foot off the gas a little bit. Like I’m obligated to want to go to all these shows or something. I almost feel a little guilty about my total ambivalence. Weird how the psyche works, I guess?
Oh Henny. Bless your poor sweet little dum-dum heart.
After our stadium lesson on Saturday, Trainer wanted to take the opportunity to lunge Henry down a bank and over a jump on a bank. This is because of our fairly tragic XC school the Wednesday before, where Henry seriously just COULD NOT figure out the big down bank with the log on top. His mind was completely blown, and he kept tapping his way down the bank with his front feet, then pushing off and leaping straight out. It was not good. He’s jumped a ton of down banks in his life, but there’s something about the log being on top of the drop that seems to be completely throwing his brain for a loop. At that point it was decided that we should come back another day with a lunge line and let him go down every big log-topped bank we could find, over and over, until he figured it out on his own.
Of course, there was rain in the forecast and we weren’t sure if we’d be able to make it back to our XC schooling venue before the show this weekend, so we took advantage of the nice weather after our lesson to school him down the little bank at her place. We pulled a jump out of the arena so that we could build up the question for him (jump on top of the bank) from just the bank by itself, to bank with poles in front, to crossrail, to vertical.
I didn’t get video of the first attempts, because I was too busy going back and forth to the jump to add or take elements away while Trainer lunged him. First we started with just the banks alone, which still.. he was trying to tap and slide his way down this tiny bank. Finally he dropped down it normally, so we added a crossrail in front. That totally blew his mind and he crashed his way down several times in a row.
I don’t know what the mental block was for him, but it took quite a few tries before he realized to jump across, and then down. Over and over he went until he finally got it, then we built it up a little more.
Poor Henry, the little hamsters in his brain were running as fast as they could.
But once he understood the question, and how to just… jump down the damn thing… he was totally fine. He jumped it several times with the larger vertical and then I hopped on and trotted him down it once with a crossrail in front, with many pets and much celebration.
So, we were right. He totally DID NOT understand the question at all, and essentially climbing over/sliding down was for some reason what he thought the right answer was. This little mini-lesson seemed to finally make it click for him a bit.
Granted, that’s one teeny tiny bank with a little stadium jump over top of it. Much different from this thing:
We both agreed that he definitely still needs to go out there and jump down the bigger banks with the logs on top, so we’re going to try to do that on Friday.
This horse has always been such a savant when it comes to XC, it honestly never occurred to me that he would have a big mental block about this. Poor guy. Hopefully we’re on the right track now, though!