Temperament vs Rideability

As I was handgrazing Henry the other day, I got to thinking about how different he and Sadie are to handle. Not that Sadie is difficult, but she’s definitely smart, and if she thinks you’re a pushover she will both literally and figuratively walk all over you. Henry is more like an old lesson horse (albeit one who’s had too many cookies and is probably a bit spoiled but let’s ignore that). He’s just kinda there, and he might glare at you but he’ll do pretty much whatever you want without argument as long as it doesn’t involve putting anything in his ears.

his typical expression: bored with my shit

Sadie, on the other hand, can smell dominance from a mile a way. If you’re assertive, she’s very simple. But if you give her an inch, she’ll take a mile. Her general temperament has a definite “Hmmm… how sure are you?” theme. This was illustrated really well when she was at the vet clinic with Presto, because the guys that cleaned the pens were very clearly terrified of her. They would slowly tiptoe into her pen, keeping their eyes on her at all times, and if she moved toward them at all, they would go running. I don’t totally blame them, she is a BIG horse that had a sick foal by her side, but I’m pretty sure Sadie found their terror to be hilarious and it became a game to her. Yet if I went in there she was a total lamb and I could move her backwards just by pointing my finger at her (which I’m fairly certain the workers thought that was some kind of majikal horse whispering voodoo). Mare ain’t stupid, she knows who’s alpha. And if you’re alpha, she’s great. If you’re not, you aren’t going to enjoy her very much.


Yet once you’re in the saddle she’s so easy and simple that it’s borderline ridiculous. At her first trail ride as a 3yo, fresh from the breaker, she was the bravest, quietest, easiest horse in a big group of seasoned trail horses. I can’t leave just anyone holding her unattended, but I’ve always been able to throw literally anyone up on her and say “keep your hands down and you’re golden”. And she was. A blind geriatric monkey could ride that horse. She loves to work and the answer is always yes. The more difficult it is, the more interested she is. She’s the most pleasant, happiest mare I’ve ever ridden. And she is definitely more rideable than Henry. I’d classify both of them as fairly easy horses to ride but he is more sensitive and naturally more tense than she is, thus he requires more tact.

3 years old, first trail ride. She’s the sleeping donkey on the far right.

Yet if you spent 5 minutes with each horse on the ground, almost everyone would probably guess that Henry was much easier to ride. I’ve noticed over and over that it seems like a lot of people think that temperament and rideability go hand in hand. You see it a lot with people that buy babies… “oh he’s so smart and quiet, he’ll be a great ammy horse.”. Enh… well… maybe. I personally have not seen a strong enough correlation between temperament and rideability to ever bank on that.

The only really reliable indicator I’ve seen is a genetic one, and it’s why rideability was so important to me in choosing a stallion. Some lines have strong reputations for making horses that are easy to train, ride, and are forgiving of mistakes. Others are known for creating quite the opposite. In that case I don’t care how good the temperament seems, I don’t want one.

monkey proof

But really, you don’t know what you’ve got until you swing a leg over and put them to work. I’ve had one that was super stupid on the ground but super easy to ride, and I’ve had one that was bombproof on the ground but a total moron to ride. That’s the extra fun part about breeding, buying a young horse, or buying sight unseen: it’s a surprise! Whether it’s good surprise or a bad surprise, well… that depends.

Hot Mess

It’s that time of year again… 90 degrees with 9000% humidity, and it’s only going to get worse. Anyone who knows Henry is aware of his heat intolerance issues. He sweats like a champ, he just can’t breathe, especially when it’s humid. By this point I’ve had 3 different vets look at him over 3 different summers with no real solid answers. Last summer I also tried putting him on a supplement called Lung EQ, hoping it might help, but really the only thing that made a difference was going to Arizona where there was no humidity.

sup girl?

Of course, it’s not really feasible to just up and go somewhere else every summer. He’s been manageable enough at home, I just have to be careful when I ride him. By this point I’ve gotten it down to a science, really, and have a whole box of special summer stuff for Henry. I haven’t given up trying different things though, so every winter I think about what else I can try, and every summer we give it a go.

This year we’re trying two things: body clipping and an Omega Alpha Equine supplement called Respi-Free. The body clip was an easy decision. Henry is naturally a thick-coated horse, and even his summer coat is more like what you’d expect on a shetland than a thoroughbred. His front end was pretty slick, but his butt was hairy,

I’ve never body clipped one of my horses in the summer, so I wasn’t sure how it would look. Before I started I even had the thought that I might have to go buy a Fine blade, because his neck and chest hair might not be long enough for the Medium. HA!

There was plenty of hair. PLENTY. Once I started I was shocked at how much was peeling off. He accepted his fate without much protest, and an hour and half later I had a much sleeker horse and a huge pile of “summer coat”.

broom for scale

I also started the Respi-Free the same day, which is the supplement that was recommended to me at Rolex by the Omega Alpha rep. Basically it’s a combination of all of their other breathing supplements, intended for horses with general respiratory issues and/or horses with COPD. All 3 vets have ruled out COPD, but the “general respiratory issues” part does apply. In the summer anyway. Respi-Free a liquid supplement that contains natural cough suppressants (which, Henry never coughs, but…) and bronchodilators. I hate supplements in general, liquid supplements specifically, and liquid supplements that have to be given by dosing syringe are like top of the chain kind of hatred. But I’m willing to try anything to make summers easier for him, so I figured we’d try a bottle and see how it goes.

he’s in a yoga phase

So far, so good. We’re only a few rides in since the clip and starting the Respi-Free but he’s definitely breathing a little easier. He’s still puffing when we’re done riding, but he actually seems able to decrease his respiratory rate on his own as we walk out (before it really wouldn’t go down until I got off and started hosing). I don’t know if that’s the body clip at work or if the Respi-Free is actually helping, but I’m not going to complain. We’ll see how things go over the next month or two!

Sick foal redux

This is not really the Presto update post that I was picturing last week when I planned to go visit him. Remember how I said it just felt like we got too lucky with him and I was waiting for the other shoe to drop? Call it a premonition…

On Saturday Presto presented with a very snotty nose, rumbly sounding lungs, and a fever. We got him inside and cooled down a bit, and the vet was called. From the description and his age, the vet was 95% sure it was rhodococcus. Banamine was administered, and the vet said he would be out first thing Sunday to confirm.

As soon as he pressed the ultrasound probe against Presto’s ribs, there was no doubt. There is significant infection in the right lung, with some pretty sizeable abscesses. The left lung is only minorly affected (apparently it’s typical for rhodococcus to be more unilateral).

Rhodococcus is a very common bacteria that pretty much all adult horses have. It’s another fun one that foals are particularly susceptible to picking up, especially down here in Texas where we’re always warm and the ground cover is not as lush. It’s easy for the rhodococcus to live in the soil. Typically foals get it in their first week of life but it doesn’t present outwardly until 2 months of age or later.

As a matter of course the “prevention” for rhodo is to administer plasma at day 3 and day 21, which we do. Obviously he had a metric shit ton of plasma while he was sick with Chlostridium. Like gallons, no exaggeration, for the first 3 weeks of his life. But the vet thinks that because he was SO sick, his body likely burned through all the plasma before the antibodies could really take effect. Thus the rhodococcus took root and has been sitting in there waiting to rear its ugly head.

The good news is that as long as Presto responds to the medication (please please PLEASE), the prognosis is fairly good and he shouldn’t have any lasting damage. Not to say that rhodococcus isn’t serious and scary, because it definitely is. It’s quite the unpleasant illness, and the medication can have some gnarly side effects. Most dangerous of which is hyperthermia… they can overheat and die of heat stroke very quickly if they’re out in the heat and sun.

He’ll be spending his summer days in a stall in front a fan, and just go out at night. The vet also thought it wouldn’t hurt to body clip him and get a lot of that coat off, so we did. We thought we’d basically have to pin him against the wall to do it, but true to Presto form he just stood there while I went to work with the barn’s big loud Clipmasters. He actually seemed to like it (he’s so itchy at the moment) and it definitely has to help, getting rid of all that hair.

So all we can do now is medicate and be really careful with him, and hope that the meds do their job. My poor nugget… he has had way more than his fair share of hardship in his short life. At least this one doesn’t seem to effect his general demeanor, since he still tried to bite me at one point and strongly objected to alcohol being poured on him. My heart just hurts for him though.

Mom stahp, you’re embarrassing me

Friday Faves

It’s been a bit quiet on the home front lately, but a few things have really been winning for me this week…

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I decided that if we’re going to Germany, I should probably learn some German. Like… aside from the little bit of German that I already know, because I’m pretty sure that sattel and springpferd are not particularly useful when it comes to conversation, travel, or food. I researched all the free language learning tools before deciding on Duolingo and I was immediately hooked. If nothing else at least I now know a lot of food items (esp the important ones like kartoffel, käse, brot, and schokolade), how to greet people or answer basic questions, how to say “that horse is cute!”, ask for directions, and say please/thank you/sorry. We’ll see how much more I can learn in the next few months but so far it’s really fun!

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No not rice, but RICE – rest, ice, compression, elevation. Because remember on Monday when I said I thought I’d done some soft tissue damage on my ankle? Yeah well I have a little tear in a tendon by my ankle. Doesn’t hurt that much anymore unless I try to lift my toes off the ground, or if I do a long ride, mostly thanks to RICE and NSAIDs. Lesson learned: do not be so eager to get to pie. Or just don’t put stairs in my path when I’m trying to get to pie. Let’s go with the second one, it’s more realistic.

Remus mane
best mane in all of blogland
Fat Buckskin

New blogger (long time friend) Michele of Fat Buckskin in a Little Suit found out that she’ll be in Austin for a work thing in a couple weeks and she’s made plans to come visit while she’s here! She’s short on time but I’m going to try to drag her out to see Presto (don’t think there will be much dragging involved really) and I have a secret plan to toss her up on Henry. It’ll work, I’m pretty sure. Plus it’ll give her good blog fodder, ranting about how crazy I am for a while.


Some of you might have heard that RPSI and Westfalen are combining their registries, which is really really interesting and has been the buzz of the breeding world this week. But that news aside, I finally got a certified copy of Sadie’s upgraded papers with all the dam side information filled in from RPSI. I paid for a new copy of her passport too, but that will probably take a while to get here. Either way, many thanks to RPSI (and the Jockey Club) for being so easy to work with on this and helping me get it done with minimal headache and expense. It’s very exciting to finally see Sadie’s entire pedigree verified in their official database. And it means she and Presto are good to go for the sBs inspection in September!

I will post this picture a thousand times and have no regrets
Riding Warehouse Sale

Yay, Memorial Day sale! Time to stock up on fly spray and salt blocks from my faves at Riding Warehouse. Plus RW is carrying Kask helmets now (lord help me), my most favorite Ovation Aqua-X breeches are available in new colors, the ECP all-in-one XC pad that I posted about a couple weeks ago is only $43, and they have those very-budget-friendly-yet-still-cute $12 fly bonnets that will hopefully save lots of horses from bad DIY attempts. Don’t forget the sale section gets an additional 20% off when you add it to your cart, too… I saw some good stuff in there: RJ Classics breeches for only $87, Kastel polo shirts for $15, Majyk Equipe dressage boots for $51, fly masks for $8, Roeckl summer gloves for $27, etc. It’s worth a look!


I’m also pretty excited about this 3 1/2 day long weekend. Definitely planning on going to see Presto (you have a few days to brace yourselves for picture overload) and fitting lots of rides in on Henry! In the blazing heat. It was 92 yesterday and is supposed to be 95 today. Welcome to summer in Texas.


Lost my Marbles

My marbles are definitely lost. There are bats in my belfry. My cheese done slipped off my cracker. There’s a kangaroo loose in my top paddock. My cuckoo clock is stuck at 12. However many other euphemisms you can think of for crazy, they all apply.

I entered a dressage show.

Apparently they don’t offer this at dressage shows?

Like… one that doesn’t have any jumping at all. Not even a combined test. And they do real USDF dressage tests (although thanks y’all for letting me do my lil’ USEA test cuz I don’t have any more room in my brain to learn more). I have never been able to fathom why anyone would want to willingly do a dressage test when you don’t even get to jump afterward as a reward, but I guess I’m about to find out what this business is all about.

How did this happen? I dunno. Moment of weakness? Sometimes I have ideas that seem really good at the time but are actually crap? Or I go along way too easily with things that Trainer suggests… that’s probably it. I’ve noticed I’m very agreeable to anything that is presented to me dressed as a learning/development opportunity. I should remember that in the future (but I won’t) because I think Trainer has figured out how I work. Damn her manipulative ways.

or this either?

But I sent my little entry in for a dressage test at a show next weekend. Luckily it’s just a schooling show, and the whole point of going is so I can practice my Training test B before our event the weekend after. Test B is really stupid, just in case anyone asked my opinion (they didn’t). Who wants to do a figure 8 of 15m circles at X and canter lengthenings on a circle? Literally no one. Definitely not me and Henry. Maybe I should wear green instead of navy so that no one recognizes me? Or I could just wear a shirt with the USEA logo plastered all over it so that everyone knows I’m an eventer and gives me a wide berth?

Dressage judges freak me out. They’re so… judgey and…. dressagey. At least at an event they know in advance that they should probably lower their expectations. At a dressage show I don’t even get a disclaimer. On a scale of 1-10 how big of a faux pas would it be to say “OMG I’M AN EVENTER PLEASE HAVE MERCY” as I trot past C before I start my test? I’m, uh, asking for a friend.

The Unveiling

Remember way back at the very end of January when I finally got to order my long-coveted Tucci boots? Guess what came?

And not a moment too soon, because despite the fact that I have 3 pairs of tall boots in my closet, all of them are in various stages of death. My previous show boots, the Ariat Monacos, have several holes in each boot. My super soft TuffRider boots finally popped a few stitches (and are too short to show in anyway), and the brown Mondoni’s have very admirably held up to constant use over the past year but are definitely not much longer for this world.

remember this sad comparison?

So I’m not gonna lie, I might have squealed a little bit when I saw the Tucci box. And I have to give them extra points, it’s a damn nice box. Very fancy.

I very sloooowly opened them because these boots are supposed to last me a long time, therefore who knows when I’ll get the pleasure of opening a new boot box again. Y’all know how glorious it is when that new leather smell first hits your nostrils, and then the excitement of slowly peeling back the tissue paper to reveal The Lovelies underneath.

And they are really, really lovely.

I ordered the Tucci Marilyn, which has all the fancy punching around the top, heel, and the wingtip toe. Thank you eventing for being a sport that welcomes individuality, because I’m not sure that I would have been ballsy enough to order these if I was still in h/j land. I know a lot of people are meh about a wingtip, but I freaking love it.

fanciest toes in the barn

I special ordered them with a navy top, because… do I really have to explain? I’m just a really big fan of navy, ok? Although I do admit I was a bit worried that with all the punching and the wingtip, the navy might send them over the edge of “too much”. For some people I’m sure it does, but for me the navy is subtle enough to where it’s pretty perfect. From a distance you definitely can’t tell it’s navy, you have to get close up to see for sure.

But how do they fit?

Pretty freaking perfect. Granted, I am not that hard to fit, these are an off the shelf size… 39H (regular calf, extra tall). They are definitely tall on me at the moment, it is not very comfortable to snap them behind the knee yet, but my #1 pet peeve is boots that end up too short. Cannot stand it, even if it’s just the tiniest fraction too short, so I always err on the side of too tall. They’ve already started to drop some and I think in another week or two they’ll be the perfect amount of slightly too tall – exactly how I like them.

There are a lot of features of the Tucci’s that I think are really interesting and the construction seems pretty impressive. I’ll do a formal review and get more into all of the details once I’ve had them for a while. For now though I just want to stare at them and tell them they’re pretty.

What Had Happened Was… BuCha.

Thanks to some pretty incredible serendipity I get to cross off another horse bucket list item this year. We’re going to Bundeschampionate!

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Yeah I know… wait what? How did this happen? This was not in the plan!

Let’s start at the beginning.

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A few months ago, at the recommendation of a friend, I signed up for the free version of the email list Scott’s Cheap Flights. For those who don’t know about it, basically you just enter your email address on the site to join the list and then once a day you get the email blast about whatever cheap international flights they’ve found. It’s really just a “heads up” email, and it’s up to you to go do the legwork and find/book the flights. Usually they’re out of major cities like New York, LA, Boston, DC, etc. Ya know… major international flight hubs. But sometimes they have some from Houston or Dallas, both of which are only a few hours drive from Austin.

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So every day I open the email and scan it and check out the destination and departure airports, and then usually delete it. They’re almost always great prices, typically under or around $500, but usually either to places I don’t want to go (no thanks Asia or South America or Mexico, I’m just not that into you) or they’re not from cities that I can easily/affordably get to.

Then one day last week the email was about Oktoberfest… flights to Germany in late September for under $500, with Houston as one of the departure cities. I thought that was kind of interesting, so I went off to Google Flights and started messing around. I decided to put in some dates around BuCha (end of August) and just see what the fares looked like. Not only were the flights still cheap – it was actually even CHEAPER to fly into Brussels instead of Germany. How cheap? $368 total.

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I shit you not – $368 round trip from Houston to Brussels. That’s barely more than I paid to fly to Nashville last month.

Cue gears turning.

It took literally zero seconds to convince Michelle that we should go. Gotta love her for that, she’s off and running with spur of the moment “fantastic ideas” just as easily as I am.

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literally us

And the best part – my birthday is in August. It was not at all difficult to sell this as a “Happy Birthday to Me” adventure. Tickets were purchased and the itinerary started taking shape within a few hours of the email from Scott’s Cheap Flights.

For those who don’t know, BuCha is the young horse championships of Germany… literally a big collection of all the best horses and ponies in that part of Europe. They have to qualify to be eligible to compete there, so it draws the cream of the crop for each sport. For a breeder it’s pretty much Disneyland. It takes place in Warendorf, the horse capital of Germany, home of their Olympic training center (where BuCha is held).

Michel 233, Will Faudree’s new ride (also a Mighty Magic) winning the 5yo eventing class in 2015

Of course, Warendorf is also quite small and a bit rural (the closest big city is Münster, which is 45 minutes away) so all the hotels, bnb’s, and airbnb’s in town were already booked for that weekend. I expanded my airbnb search a bit and found a guesthouse at a farm in Ostbevern owned by a lady named Helga (I shit you not for the second time in one post). She seemed nice and while the farm is kinda in the middle of nowhere, it’s only 10 minutes from BuCha, and cheap, so we booked it.

have a nice day!

We had no problem with quickly filling our itinerary. Michelle has a fancy pony jumper breeder friend in Rouen, France that we’re gonna pop over and see first, with a stop on the way at Tal Milstein to see their stallions (thanks to them for the invite!). Then on the way back toward Germany we’re stopping at another of her friend’s places in Belgium before settling in at Helga’s farm for BuCha weekend. We’re definitely gonna hop up to Schockemoehle at some point and possibly over to Ludger Beerbaum’s as well to see stallions and babies since they’re both within 45 minutes. Plus we’ll obviously spend 2-3 days at BuCha itself for finals (which I’m told has great shopping).

It’s going to be a busy week but I AM SO EXCITED!!!

The Weekend Without Ponies

An entire weekend without horses is really really weird, btw. Not a bad thing every once in a while, but as a general lifestyle choice I dunno. Either way, I did actually have a really fun time this weekend despite the lack of ponies. And if you count Friday as a weekend day then it wasn’t totally ponyless, because I did finally go set my showjumping course back and up and made myself a nice little corner. Henry was unimpressed with me, as usual.

But on Saturday we headed out to Houston with some friends of ours as a late birthday trip for the SO. It was kind of fun because we had planned this without him knowing where we were going or what we were doing, so everything was a surprise. Saturday was mainly eating and drinking… we went to a bunch of breweries, but I hate beer so while I did manage a cocktail at lunch, I otherwise did a lot of sitting.


I did consider asking the group if they’d be interested in going over to Sam Houston Race Park to watch the Preakness but I already knew that one would fall flat so I didn’t even bother. Our Air bnb was a nice condo in Midtown, with a memory foam mattress and a rain shower head, so I was happy enough.

the view from our window

Plus we got pie from THE House of Pies. Granted, I think I earned it after sitting on highly uncomfortable picnic tables at breweries for like 8 hours. Highly recommend the french silk.

The real reason I chose Houston was revealed on Sunday when we drove out to the Space Center. If you’re into that kind of thing, it’s pretty cool.

That’s a big effing rocket
lunar rover
I would literally never get in this thing
MISSION CONTROL! This is the one for the Orion (currently used for training until the Mars mission starts), the one you can see on the right of the video screen is the one for the International Space Station.

It kinda worked out anyway, because it rained at home pretty much all weekend. I don’t think I would have been able to ride at all. Plus I’m pretty sure I scored major brownie points for a surprise birthday adventure, and we all know how important that is.

I did injure myself though, rolling my ankle on the stairs in the condo. Figures I was the only one not drinking yet the only one to fall down. Pretty sure I have a soft tissue injury happening, it’s not good.

ghetto ice wrap

But it’s not that swollen therefore it’ll still go in a boot and then a stirrup, so no big deal, right?

Hope everyone else had a fun weekend! This rain can go away any minute now so I can get back to riding.

Don’t be a Thief

YAY, it’s Rant Friday!

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I’ve done my fair share of complaining about horse show photos in my day. Usually when they’re crappy, or super expensive, or take months to get. But you know what’s worse than all of those things? Not having any photos at all. And ya know how to make sure that’s exactly what ends up happening? Keep stealing photographer’s proofs.

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Trust me, I’m as cheap as anyone. I don’t love dropping hundreds of dollars a year on show photos, and sometimes it just isn’t in the budget. I get that. But at the end of the day if you like the photo enough to screen cap it and save it – or WORSE, screen cap it and put it on your facebook/Instagram with the photographers watermark displayed loud and proud across it, you probably like it enough to pay for it. After all, that photographer bought the equipment, spent all day watching and shooting boring-ass round after boring-ass round (and probably wanted to blow his/her brains out by the end of the day), and then spent additional hours sorting through and editing all those photos. For your thieving ass!

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you tell em, DJ Tanner

Unless of course you don’t want the photographers to show up anymore and don’t ever want show photos… then by all means, keep stealing them. But don’t be surprised when I tattle on you after you post that stolen proof all over social media, because I will. And I did. That’s stealing, and it’s not cool. It’s rude, and it’s tacky, and it directly contributes to ruining things for everyone else (especially ME).

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So either cough up the money (for real yo, it’s like $18 for a low res digital) or do what any other self-respecting poor person does and take a blurry screenshot from a shitty video. And to the nice photographers that keep showing up weekend after weekend to take pictures of my boring ass rounds… please keep doing it. I promise I’ll buy some.

No Black Dot

Sadie was bred back to Mighty Magic on April 30 and all looked good. Same batch of frozen semen that Presto came from, she ovulated, the timing was right, etc. But when she was scanned on Monday, there was no pretty little black dot. She just didn’t take. Horses… that’s how they work. Disappointing, but it happens all the time. They’re fickle creatures.

Presto is training to be a vet tech

And of course not only was she not in foal, but her cycle was such that she’d be ready to try again on Wednesday (yesterday). That was a mere two days from Monday. And there was no more Mighty Magic semen on site yet. Oops. Instead of doing the super frantic dance of trying to ship frozen semen overnight (omg logistical nightmare) the decision was made to try the remaining dose of Diarado that was left in the tank.

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not a bad Plan B

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He’s kind of a badass and he’s produced a lot of hunters (and jumpers, and eventers), so Michelle thought it was worth a shot and I totally agree! Big Diarado fan right here, I think he and Sadie could make a pretty fantastic derby horse together. Plus he doesn’t have a red gene, which is always a bonus in my mind especially when you have a plain mare.

So we’ll see in a couple weeks if she’s pregnant this time. Hopefully so… she’s a much happier mare when she’s pregnant (and the people around her are much happier too)!