Free and Clear

Today you get very few words and a whole lot of pictures, because guess who tested Rhodococcus-free???

This derp

Poor baby, he was literally sick, in some capacity, for pretty much all of his first 4 months. Granted, he seems to feel just fine these days.




This is what an instigator looks like
and then he runs away

And just in case anyone was wondering whether or not he’s as derpy as Uncle Henny… well…

The tail…
seriously, how does it even bend like that?



He’s REALLY ITCHY,  y’all.

But otherwise, I think he’s pretty darn handsome when he wants to be.






And now he’s healthy, too. 🙂

Knock on wood.

Like, all of it.

Tucci Boots: First Impressions 

So, I’ve had the Tucci’s for over two months now, and while I think it’s too soon to do a full review, I’ve had a lot of people ask me what I think of them.

Short answer: I love them, for lots of reasons. First, because they’re friggin beautiful. I wanted something that was a little different without being too outlandish, and I think these fit the bill perfectly. From far away they look like regular boots… it’s not until you get up close that you notice the navy tops and the wingtip toes. I also like the shape of the toe: square but not TOO square. I really don’t like the look of a rounded toe (ok I hate them), but sometimes when they’re too square it looks ridiculous. To me this shape is the perfect balance, lending even more to the modern and sleek look. A couple of people were dubious about having to keep all those little punched holes clean, but honestly I just added a toothbrush to my boot polishing kit and it takes all of 10 extra seconds to clean those out. Not a big deal at all. Totes worth it.

I’m lucky in that I did not require full customs to get a custom fit. I’m a fairly average size, plus Tucci has a TON of size combinations, so those two things combined saved me from having to go the full custom route. Mine are just considered semi-custom, since I ordered them with a navy top… they’re the Marilyn model, so the wingtip toe and the fancy punched top come standard on those. It was pretty simple to get fitted to figure out my size, and I then just ordered the standard Tucci Marilyn but with a navy top from Luxe EQ. I did order them quite tall on purpose, because I can’t stand a tall boot that’s even a hair too short. I have chunky thighs, super tall boots help my leg look longer and slimmer. Don’t judge.


The thing about Tucci’s is that they are pretty ruggedly made boots. If you like your boots Parlanti soft, almost glove-like, you won’t like these. They aren’t stiff, but the leather is legit, and it’s meant to take a beating and last a long time. I personally prefer this type of leather… not just for longevity, but also because it doesn’t wrinkle on the calf, which gives a much smoother look. It took me about a week to break them in and get them to drop enough to where I could actually snap them behind the knee, which I thought was reasonable break-in time. During all that, they were never uncomfortable to walk in, just a bit tight in the calf and over my instep. Both stretched perfectly, and now these things really fit like custom. My only complaint is that I think the strap behind the knee could be a smidge longer, maybe just 1/4″.

As far as practical design elements, I’m also super pleased. The elastic panel really helps give them that nice close fit. No stovepipe legs or cankles here! Fully lined is also a must for me these days, I’ve had much more luck with fully lined boots lasting a lot longer. It’s perhaps slightly less of a close feel than that of an unlined boot, but to me personally the difference is negligible, so I’d rather have the lining than not.

They’re made in Italy and the design features were obviously well thought out. My favorite feature is their snap system. Zippers that won’t stay up seems to be a pretty common problem with tall boots, especially as they get older. I’ve had a couple brands that had a little slot on the strap in the back to thread the zipper through, but 1) that takes effort, 2) it didn’t always work. The Tucci’s have a snap tab on the zipper that snaps to the strap at the back of the knee, locking everything securely in place. Snaps are a lot easier than threading stuff through a hole.


It’s also got a spur guard strap at the bottom, which I like to help stabilize and protect both the zippers and the spurs, and spur rests on each side of the zipper.

Underneath that, on the inside of the zipper, it has a lightly padded heel guard to protect the back of your ankles from rubbing or pressing from the zipper. This feature is a MUST HAVE for me with boots these days… so far every pair I’ve had with them have been significantly more comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

And, comfort-wise, I haven’t been disappointed. Once they dropped a bit and molded to my legs, they were super comfortable and have remained that way. I’ve worn them aaaaallll day for lessons and shows, even walked XC in them, and never had a blister or sore spot.

So far, I’m really happy with them. Aesthetically they’re everything I wanted, and they’re giving me the impression that they’ll be super durable. Time will tell in that department. For now though, I have no complaints! Except now I want a brown pair…

Greet Me at the Gate

I’d like to think that I’m fairly pragmatic most of the time when it comes to my horses. I generally don’t anthropomorphize them, I understand that they’re horses, and I know that we’re not majikal mystical BFF’s. But there’s one thing I’ve always been a bit of a mush about… greeting me at the gate.

I dunno why exactly, I think it just makes me feel better that they don’t see me coming and go “oh god, it’s HER again” and make for the hills. Granted, I’m sure that Henry knows I’m good for at least 2 cookies, so the fact that he comes up to the gate when he sees me coming is most assuredly because he’s a fattypotamus that wants a treat. Shhh… let’s ignore that. At least when they come to greet me, it makes me think that they don’t totally hate their work or their human.

I’ve really only had one horse that was hard to catch, and the others mostly just stayed where they were until I walked out to get them. A few have always been gate-greeters though, especially Sadie and Henry. Presto is generally a greeter too (unless he’s sleeping, which is a lot) but he’s a baby and most babies are like that. Things are still fresh and new and fun to them, and they never actually have to work. We’ll see how things go as he gets older.

Presto’s standard greeting (side note: can we talk about that one cute little curly white whisker?)

Every once in a while, usually when we’ve had a lot of hard dressage days, Henry will give me a long hard look and then walk a few feet away, making me come to him. I swear that’s the horse version of flipping a human the bird. Not gonna lie, it kinda hurts my feeling (singular) and usually earns him a couple of fun easy hack or trail ride days. Yes, I’m a pushover like that. But 99% of the time, voila, suddenly he’s back to being a gate greeter after he’s had a bit of a mental break.

Am I the only one that places far too much emotional emphasis on the whole greeting the human at the gate thing?

US via UK via France

If it’s possible to use the internet to stalk the internet, that’s exactly what happened here.

I got a thing, and the corgi approves.


I was really sad when I had to send back the saddle I had on trial. I loved it, the price was right, and it was pretty (well ok except for those green calf blocks, but I could have fixed that). But a lot of good came out of trying that saddle, since I was able to figure out exactly what panel specs Henry needs and exactly what flap specs and sizing I needed. The hunt was on! Shouldn’t be too hard, right?


If I had needed the 4P panel, with the built up front, I would have been in business. Or if I needed a regular forward flap instead of the extra forward. Finding our exact mixture of specs was like searching for a needle in the Devoucoux haystack. I immediately added another $500 to my budget, just to open up my options as much as possible, but it wasn’t really the budget that was the problem. It was finding one. I stalked every french saddle site, french classifieds, US high end saddle sites, ebay, instagram, facebook… you name it, every single day I was checking. Facebook yielded the most results by far. Every morning I searched “Devoucoux Chiberta”, sorted the results by date, and shuffled through all the new posts.

And finally, after a couple weeks of stalking the hell out of the internet, a particularly promising one popped up in my facebook results. It had been posted in a UK eventing group just a few hours before. Because of course it’s not in America, why would it possibly be that simple? I asked for a photo of the serial number, and lo and behold, it was exactly what I needed. And waaaaay under budget. Thanks Brexit!

But the tricky thing with buying stuff internationally is that a lot of people don’t want to bother with the hassle. I don’t blame them, I wouldn’t either. Luckily this woman was super nice, took tons more pictures for me, and said she would get me a shipping quote. A couple days later I had paid her via Paypal, the saddle was dropped off at DHL Express, and the Devoucoux was on it’s way home to me. DHL did try to jack up the price from what they had originally quoted her, but she stood her ground and they honored the price. So, for less than I had spent on the first trial saddle, I now have a new Devoucoux in my tack room.

But how does it fit, you ask? This is the fun part of buying something from overseas with no trial. You have to be REALLY sure of what you’re getting. I was confident that a saddle with these specs would fit him, based on our experiences with the brand, and luckily it does. It fits me perfectly, too. Yay for standardization of sizing and fit. It feels just as magical as the others, too, especially when we’re galloping. I just can’t get over how good the balance of this thing is. It makes everything feel much easier.

The saddle is a bit older than I was wanting, a 2012 model, but 1) it’s in great shape, 2) it was cheap. I’m plenty satisfied with the purchase. I’ll probably end up having the billets replaced within the next year or so, but they’re really the only part of the saddle that shows much wear. It’s obviously been well taken care of over the years.


And with that, the saddle hunt comes to an end. Thank goodness. I was getting tired of stalking the internet. But considering how much Grem loves the box and wrapping, it kind of made the whole thing worth it.

Weekend at Willow Tree Part 2: The Rest of the Cute 

So… anyone who is friends with me on facebook or follows me on Insta already knows this, but I came home from Willow Tree with a new furkid. Because I am a total sucker. She was the runt in the litter of barn cats, and she is teeeeeeny tiny, but she’s so sweet and loves people.

She was not barn cat material, but she fits right in at our house.

Her name at Willow Tree was Tiny Nugget, but let’s be honest, she looks just like a Gremlin. Huge ears and mohawk and everything. Therefore she’s now known as Gremlin aka Gremy, and the dogs are all rightfully terrified of her.

Delia still refuses to make eye contact, even when Gremy plays with her tail
Pretty scary

Poor SO didn’t actually know that I was bringing her home until I texted and asked if he wanted to go to Petco with us or if we should just stop on our way home, to which he replied “Uhhh… what?”. I highly recommend this method of pet acquisition, by the way. It’s much easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, especially if you’re asking for forgiveness while holding a really adorable kitten.

Go ahead, try to be mad.

At first he wasn’t so sure of her (neither of us typically like cats at all) but she quickly wormed her way into his affections. Yesterday she sat on his shoulder while he washed dishes and folded laundry. It’s hard not to love a tiny gremlin. She’s very people-oriented and follows us around everywhere, so I’m hoping she’s one of those cats that is a little more dog-like. Time will tell.

Other than the barn kittens, there was one more pretty adorable new addition at Willow Tree. Say hello to Murphy, the little bitty teeny tiny QH foal.

He’s easily half the size of Liam and Presto (he was a bit premature, plus QH instead of warmblood), but 100% sass and spunk. I don’t know anything about QH’s really, but he’s a grandson of Frenchman’s Guy, so apparently he’ll make a good barrel racer? I dunno. All I know is that he’s ridiculously adorable, is really quick with his teeth (little turd), and currently fits in a goat halter.

And that pretty much sums up the weekend at Willow Tree. Lots of Presto with a dash of Murphy and a healthy dose of kitten. And some pretty gorgeous double rainbows that provided a nice photo op.

pic just for Emma

We’ll see how Ms. Grem settles into her new life as an indoor cat with a bunch of dog brothers, but I think she’ll do just fine. It’s probably more of an adjustment for her humans, the professed “not cat people”, to get used to having a cat around. So far, so good?

Weekend at Willow Tree Part 1: Presto

Well that was a heck of a proper weekend.

I took off work on Friday, got a rental car (because that’s 625 miles I don’t really want to put on my truck), started up my German audio lessons on Audible, and made the 5hr trip up to Willow Tree. It’s been about a month and a half since I’d seen Presto, so my first stop when I got there was at the barn to say hi to him. Naturally, he was asleep and had no interest in getting up.

synchronized napping
All the greeting I warranted

So we left the boys to their napping and started planning out details for the sBs inspection that Willow Tree is hosting this fall. Mostly layout, set-up, and small details. Then we played with the barn cats (that’s a story…), Presto got some in-hand lessons (mostly learning what clucking means, and how to walk next to the human instead of lagging behind at a 2mph walk which is a huge pet peeve of mine), then we pigged out on Mexican food. That is how you Friday.


On Saturday I slept in all the way til 6:15 (late for me!) then slowly got dressed and made my way outside. Presto and Liam were much more active in the cool early morning breeze, so I just sat and watched them for a while. It really is a privilege to see that boy enjoying himself and being a normal baby. He’s even caught up height-wise… Liam sticked at 13.2 up front and 13.3 behind, and Presto is 13.1 1/2 up front and 13.2 1/2 behind. Really really close now, height-wise. Of course, Liam is literally about twice as wide, but that’s to be expected from their breeding. Liam is going to be a big, wide, powerful chunk of a horse, whereas Presto is going to be much leaner and lighter across the ground. The difference in type is pretty stark.

some light cavaletti work

We spent the morning doing a photo shoot with one of the 3yo’s, then in the afternoon Presto got some more lessons… first with his feet (he’s had his feet handled and he’s been trimmed but he’s not very good about it) and then with tying/grooming/patience. The first Feet lesson didn’t go so well… when we got to the hinds he kicked me TWICE, earning a much longer and more intense lesson. Once he was clear on the fact that kicking is Very Bad, he was actually quite good. He’s great about tying and grooming, and even had a fair amount of patience. For a 4 month old, anyway.


He doesn’t need to practice the Mare Glare, he comes by that naturally

He had a few more feet+ very light rasping+grooming+leading sessions over the weekend, and by the time we were done he was pretty pro at going forward from clucking. He’s really quite smart (sometimes in a too-smart way, just like his mom) and catches on fast/retains things well. You can always see his gears turning.

I bought a fly mask for him but… uh… he was pretty sure that was deadly, and I figured I’d tortured him enough for one weekend, so we’ll circle back around to that later.


so brave

Saturday evening it started storming so they all had to stay inside for the night, which worked out great. I could go in there for really short intervals and redo all of his lessons in small doses. He got better and better about everything as the weekend went on. He’s obviously well socialized and has been handled a lot, so just adding some more intense lessons is pretty easy. He’s got a great foundation to build on.

By the time the storms were over and they got to go back out on Sunday morning, they were super full of themselves. That always makes for some good entertainment.

It was a bit of a short trip, but we got a lot done and of course it was great to see him again. He just looks better and better as more time passes, and I’m really happy to see him out there playing and acting like a normal foal. Before you know it it’ll be weaning time!


Henny Hair Care (and some reviews)

I’ve been using a lot of hair-related products on Henry lately. Y’all might remember his episode of face funk that come on seemingly out of nowhere and left him with a couple of very attractive bald spots on his face. Yay summer. I’m happy to report that, just two weeks later, those are pretty much completely gone. This is the comparison photo from when we started and then one week later.


Now the hair has filled in a lot more and you really can’t even tell there was ever a bald spot. Pretty damn miraculous, I must say. I was worried that it would just keep spreading, but luckily I was able to stop it in it’s tracks. That hair grew back a whole lot faster than I expected too, thank goodness, because I was having nightmares about all the hair falling off of his face. Seems reasonable.

And exactly what product is responsible for saving us from that?

Image result for zephyrs garden tea tree spray

My favorite (and as I’ve now figured out, summertime must-have) Zephyr’s Garden tea tree spray. I reviewed it last spring (remember that video where Bobby sprayed some in my mouth? It tastes TERRIBLE, do not recommend eating it.) and it proved super useful last summer to keep the leg crud at bay. I’ve been using it for the same purpose this summer, with much success, but man… it really blew me away with how well and how quickly it fixed that facial disaster.

Henry’s also been getting more soap bathsagain now that we’re in prime sweat season. I’ve kind of had my eye out for a new shampoo to try… something that smells really good, leaves them shiny, and is all natural. A lot of those are pretty pricey though, and I just have a hard time spending $25 s pop on a bottle on horse shampoo and conditioner. So when Teddy’s Tack Trunk (aka She Who Never Leads Me Astray) suggested the Espana line, I jumped on it.

photo from Teddy’s Tack Trunk

I got the “bundle“, which includes the silk shampoo, conditioner, and a detangler/sunscreen spray plus the large size natural sea sponge for $52.50. Each of these things is available separately in the shop as well, with the shampoo and conditioner coming in at $13.95 each, the spray at $14.95, and the sponge at $14.95 (or the small sponge is $7.95, although for bathing I’d def stick with the large), so the bundle makes it about $5 cheaper. Either way, those prices are easier to stomach. Especially because their shipping is super cheap and crazy fast.

My two favorite things about the shampoo are the smell (it’s a really pleasant scent, not too floral and not too medicinal) and the fact that it rinsed out really easily. I hate having to rinse a thousand times to get all the shampoo out. I lathered him up with the sponge, washed his tail, put conditioner in his tail, and then rinsed everything. He was super clean, smelled amazing for days, and was really shiny when he dried. What more can you ask for from shampoo?

I was even more impressed with the conditioner. Normally when I dye his tail I save all the remnants in the conditioner packets (like a crazy packrat) because it’s the best I had found for detangling. Now I don’t have to worry about that, because this stuff is even BETTER.

I basically never brush Henry’s tail unless we’re at a show, so it tends to be pretty tangled. I just slathered the conditioner in there really well, let it sit for a few minutes, rinsed it, let him dry, and when I took the brush to it, the tangles just fell right out. Normally I have to carefully pick through his tail to get it detangled without breaking the hairs, but not so with this stuff. It definitely takes the prize spot in my bathing bucket.

Now Henny is so fresh and so clean-clean… AND he has hair on his face again! If you guys are interested in trying any of the bath products, TTT is going to run a sale on all bath-related stuff through Sunday.  Use coupon code GIVEMEABATH for 10% off!


The Development of Young Horses

You guys know that I’m a, shall we call it, “young horse enthusiast”. Anything to do with breeding, development, and especially getting them started in their career is super interesting to me. Therefore I always read pretty much every article or show recap having to do with YEH and FEH, word for word. So when I was reading the recap of the YEH classes at Rebecca Farm this week, one particular quote from the judge really stood out to me:

If you talk to breeders, one of their biggest (or at least most consistent) complaints is how difficult it is to find good young-horse trainers in this country. In Europe it’s fairly common to have people that specialize in bringing up the babies, but here they are much fewer and farther between. And while a lot of big name pro riders are good with young horses as well, just as many of them are not.

P Dutty: probably not a surprise that he’s good with the babies

Some of that I think is due to what Katie Prudent pointed out last week, about many of our best young riders only always sitting exclusively on the best horses. Many of our most talented younger riders that we’re producing these days just don’t spend a lot of time on greenies. I think that’s less common in eventing, but something that still probably contributes to the issue.

This was especially obvious to me last year at YEH Championships, since we got to sit there all day each day and watch pretty much everyone. Maybe they were just having a bad week, but there were a few that were borderline cringeworthy. Tip: don’t bring the baby horse to YEH Championships in an elevator, especially if you never plan on letting go of it’s mouth. They REALLY don’t like that.

It’s probably no surprise that the ones who stood out for particularly GOOD riding were ones that have been involved in YEH classes for a while. Because beyond just knowing the basics of how to properly bring a nice young horse along, the YEH classes themselves are different from a regular event. The judging is different, they’re looking for different things, and they should be presented with that in mind. It seemed like many riders didn’t quite understand how the classes were really judged, or what exactly the judges were looking for. I think that’s the other big issue.

All this. They’re looking for all this.

From watching a few YEH classes just in Area V, this kind of thing was even more obvious (because, duh, it’s not Championships). Many seem unprepared, or brought horses that really weren’t what the YEH program is meant for. See what’s written in the General Impression box on the scoresheet? “Potential as a successful 3*/4* event horse”. As a low level amateur, I personally would probably not not try do the YEH stuff myself… but if I had a horse that I thought was potential upper level material AND it was mature enough mentally and physically, I’d absolutely send one through the program with a pro.


Hopefully now with all of the YEH and FEH seminars and clinics that are starting to pop up (they’re doing another one at Championships on both coasts this year – highly recommend going if you can!), people who are interested will take advantage of them and go learn more about it. And hopefully some trainers will participate and help grow the ICP Young Horse Certification Program as well. I think if we can produce better young horse trainers, we can, in turn, produce better young horses. Which, if you think about it, could quite possibly be a big step toward making the US more competitive again on the world stage. Imagine if we could get really good at producing more of our own top quality horses instead of trying to buy them from somewhere else…

Three Beats

The first sign that something is amiss in Henryland is when the quality of his canter goes down the tubes. Normally his canter is his best gait, but as I’ve now learned, as soon as it starts to feel stiff and/or it starts wanting to have 4 beats instead of 3, we have a problem. Typically an SI problem.

This was exactly the issue that prompted me to have his SI done a couple weeks ago. Over the past month or so his canter had gone from stiff to occasionally losing the rhythm to pretty consistently four-beat. No bueno. Looked gross, felt even worse. It makes perfect sense when you think about it… sore SI, no longer wants to sit and push. But mostly I know that his canter is not naturally like that, so as soon as we lose that 3-beat purity, it’s a big red flag. Granted, on a naturally tense horse, it’s sometimes hard to tell which is “sore” stiffness and which is “tense” stiffness.

This week I’ve finally bumped his workload back up to normal, which means adding the canter back in. The difference is night and day; Henry magically has 3 beats again. When I get my new jump saddle (oh hey btw, I did a thing yesterday) I can’t wait to jump him again and see how he feels.

Although on one particularly wild day this past weekend we did jump over a natural ditch in the field a few times and then go for a quick gallop, because you can put the eventer in a dressage saddle for a month, but you can’t really take the eventer spirit away. The lady bits were mostly unscathed, so #noregrets.

Henry still has a couple more weeks of his “lighter” summer schedule before we start ramping back up again to prepare for the fall. Conditioning rides will get longer, lessons will start happening again with some regular frequency, and we have a ride-a-test/jumper rounds weekend on the calendar before I go to Germany. We’re only 2 weeks away from opening date for the first fall show. Finally! Hopefully now he’s back to feeling 100% and ready to cart my butt around some fancy Training courses.

Barn Shopping for Baby

No, not barn shopping for Henry. We’re quite happy where we are. But I’ve been looking around a lot, trying to come up with a “next step” plan for Presto. Theoretically he’s welcome to stay out in Midland as long as I want, which is super, because it takes the pressure off of me. But I’m a little emotionally scarred and would love to have him nearby so I could see him more often, plus would like to relieve Michelle of some of her own pressure. He has not exactly been a stress-free charge.

don’t fall for the innocent fuzzface

If I had my way, he’d be at my barn. There’s a field up in the front with lots of terrain and a creek crossing, and then I’d get to see him every day. But right now the field is pretty full, and pasture board there is a bit more than my already set aflame budget can handle.

Image result for sheldon twitching gif
my budget right now

So, at the moment, that’s a no.

I have some other options though. There isn’t a lack of pasture board in the area, and some of my friends have graciously offered him space. I am a little bit complicated though in that if he’s going to leave Midland and the absolute top-notch care that he gets there, I want it to be for the perfect situation. The criteria that I’m looking for in particular:

  • large pasture, at least 5ish acres, with good grass. Big huge bonus if there’s terrain and hills (hard to find here, but still, if I’m in dreamland…).
  • safe fencing. I’m open to a few different types of fencing, but it has to be safe and in good repair.
  • either access to a nice big run-in shed or brought inside during inclement weather.
  • excellent staff. I’m a little neurotic about this horse. And by a little, I mean like off the charts insane. If he’s not somewhere that I can see him every day, I need to know I that can trust whoever is caring for him.
  • decent feed. Like not the $12 a bag shit that’s made out of the crap they sweep up off the floor at the mill. He’s a baby wb, he needs good nutrition. So either they have to feed something decent, or the price has to be good enough to where I can afford to supply my own. They also need to be feeding hay at least when the pasture isn’t as lush/during the winter, if not year round. I think he’s the type of horse that wouldn’t keep weight well without it… he’s naturally lean.
  • some type of training facilities are a plus, so that every once in a while I can at least bring him into a barn to groom him, learn about tack, crossties, start the very basics of how to lunge, etc. This part isn’t necessary though, I could do it in a pasture if I had to.
  • friends his age are also a plus, but older horses are fine too.

Image result for good luck with that gif

That’s a lot to be picky about, I know. Some things are easy to find here, other things aren’t. I am willing to compromise on location, if all the other boxes are ticked. The closer to me the better, but I’m ok with him being up to a couple hours away if I feel really good about the place and the people.

Presto won’t be weaned until the end of September, and then he’d need to be gelded, so I haven’t been in a super huge rush to find anything. Like I said, he can stay in Midland as long as I need him to. I’ve really just barely started poking around to see what my options are… but then I came across this place.

From first impressions, they tick all my boxes. It’s about an hour away, definitely has the facilities (way more than we need), and they’re experienced with babies. I’m planning on going to look at it next weekend to check out the pastures and see what kind of vibe I get. If it doesn’t seem absolutely perfect, then it’s a no, because see above note about me being off the charts insane… but, we shall see.