Epic Europe Adventure Part 3: stallions, stallions, stallions

I’m currently in the car, somewhere in the Netherlands, on the way to Germany. I’ve got two hours to kill, so blog post it is! 

What road trip snacks look like in Europe

This morning we left Bruges (after a pretty great hotel breakfast… they had giant hunks of chocolate on the fruit table…)

then we hit the road down to Asse, outside of Brussels, to visit Tal Milstein Stables. This place is absolutely top notch – beautiful facility, excellent competition horses, and nice stallions. I mean… WOW. 

We met the stallion manager Kenneth, and then the owner Tal, both of which were extremely welcoming. We watched some of his horses go while we chatted bloodlines, mares, and stallions. He has a really nice collection there (although his flagship stallion Alicante was away at a show) and it was excellent getting to see some of those guys in person.

5yo getting ready for auction
7yo stallion Emir de Vy

Tal was also really fun to talk to, and treated us to a nice lunch (pizza! I’m hitting all the food groups here…) before we got back in the car to head to Zangersheide.

We got a quick tour of the facility, including the lab, offices, and barns. The highlight of which, of course, was the stallion barn!

Canturano really likes having his tongue and lips played with
Yessss everyone pet meeeeh
Asca Z

We saw so many boys I really can’t even remember them all, but it was such a great opportunity to be able to see these famous, big name guys in person and get an idea of their character. 

So tonight we get to Warendorf, and then we don’t have a lot of driving to do for a few days. More stallions tomorrow, and day 1 of Bundeschampionate!

Epic Europe Adventure Part 2: ponies, rosè, and carbs 

I left off yesterday when we were in our hotel in La Bouille, France, getting ready to head out to see some more ponies and then head to dinner. Earlier in the day we saw the stallion Usandro, owned by Elevage Alias (Milèna). Now we were headed out to the other farm where all of the other Alias sportponies live.

Like Addi, a French national champion a couple times over


I have to say, I wish we had the niche for these kinds of ponies in the US. These aren’t fat, lazy little plugs that tote Susiekins around the 2’6″. These are basically pony sized showjumpers. In Europe they put kids on these little Ferraris that are talented, forward, athletic, and sometimes a bit cheeky. They’re fast and can JUMP, and these kids are pretty great little riders. I’m not sure I’d have the balls to gallop a pony around 1.15m courses with the pedal to the metal, but they do. Such a different world, with how they bring up their young riders. These ponies are NICE, and there is a solid market for them here. Lots of pony-only jumper classes, even pony-only Grand Prix. We totally need to get on this bandwagon, both for kids and for smaller adults.

Best hair in France

Top Secret before she was preggo

Aside from the very fancy ponies and adorable babies, the barn itself was so charmingly European. Stone wall barn with straw-bedded boxes, a nice little arena, covered walker, conditioning track, and this, my favorite feature:

A cold stream with a little stall-sized pen, where the horses can hang out and soak their legs after a hard work. If that’s not amazing, I dunno what is. Who do I have to kill to get one of those?

After our tour, and meeting all the ponies and babies (omg poneh bebehs) 

Our host and one of her 2017 foals

we had some nice rosè at the farm before heading into town for a fantastic dinner: steak, gratin dauphinois, and a salted caramel macaron for dessert. So much yaaaaas. Milena from Elevage Alias was a fantastic host, we had a great time! But by that point we’d been up for like 42 hours, so we collapsed back at the hotel and got a good solid 7-8 hours sleep.

My attempt at a panoramic of the Seine in La Bouille

This morning we drove back into Belgium to Bruges. Nothing horsey today, just being tourists in a really freaking COOL gothic-style town. I absolutely love it here and MUST come back when I can stay a bit longer.

Hey there, red poodle in the hotel courtyard
Bruges city center

Our two main goals for Bruges were waffles and frites, and we’ve accomplished both of those. I might barf, but I have no regrets.

Frites with pepper sauce and Belgian hot chocolate, aka dinner

Tomorrow we’re back on the road headed east toward Germany, with a stop or two along the way to look at some more stallions. 

This is so fun, y’all.

Epic Europe Adventure Part 1: Change of Plans

We did in fact make it out of Austin and over to Atlanta for our connecting flight with no problems. However, a slight schedule conflict with our French contact had us doing a little bit of last minute tap dancing with our itinerary. 

Me doing math at 10am
Me nursing my feelings about last minute changes

Basically we just swapped our first two days… instead of heading straight to Bruges we got in our rental and drove over to the Normandy region of France. We were able to change our hotel reservations to make it work, so aside from giving my OCD a serious work out, it all ended up being perfectly fine.

We stopped along the way at a petrol station and got what was, hands down, the best gas station food I’ve ever had. A big, super cheesy croque monsieur dripping with sauce. Omg.

We got up into the Rouen area around noon and stopped off first to see a jumper pony stallion, Usandro. He’s ridiculously adorable and a true little powerhouse jumping bean. Also super sweet. He may be available via frozen on the US market soon… stay tuned. 😉 

Then we were off to another rider’s barn(s) to see all of his young horses. I got a bit sunburned traipsing up and down the hilly pastures of Normandy, looking at ridiculously well bred French showjumpers. Definitely have had worse days.

Now we’re at the hotel taking a quick break to clean up before a quick stop to see more ponies, then dinner. I am beyond ready to SLEEP, but the jet lag is worth it. 

Still Afloat! And bis später…

Texas has been an exciting place for the past few days. Hurricane Harvey quickly turned into BAD business for the coast and the Houston area, blowing the earlier projections out of the water and becoming a Cat 4 by the time it made landfall. The real problem is the flooding from the now basically stationary storm, dumping literally FEET of rain into parts of that area so far.

Luckily everyone I know in the area either evacuated or is still faring ok to this point. It’s far from over, since the rain is expected to continue for the rest of the week, but hopefully everyone remains ok. It’s heartbreaking to watch the destruction on TV (not gonna lie, I feel a special kind of fury every time I see a dog or a horse). If you want to know how you can help, click here to find out more.

Over here in Austin we’ve gotten quite soaked from the outer edges of the storm, but nothing like what they’re dealing with. At my house we’re up to about 7″ of rain, with more to come, but we’re on higher ground with better drainage, so there hasn’t been any flooding to speak of in our area. It’s yucky out, and the wind was crazy for the first day or so, but that’s about it. Henry is warm and dry and tucked into his stall with his hay. The barn is on top of a hill and farm’s soil drains well, so no problems there.

this has gone on since Friday, basically

Of course, both Houston airports are closed. On Friday I was starting to get pretty anxious about our Europe trip. It was already quite clear that we would not be able to leave from Houston. By mid-day Delta finally extended their travel waiver through the 28th, meaning I could change to another airport without paying the change fee. Of course, they still wanted to charge me a “fare difference” of 1k. Hilarious bunch of assholes.

After some minor panic on my part, a friend of mine was able to use her pull as an elite member to get them to not only waive the fare difference, but to let me reroute through Austin. Originally when I was booking this trip, leaving through Austin was A LOT more expensive than leaving through Houston. I’d have even been happy to leave through Dallas, honestly, but leaving through Austin is obviously waaaay more convenient. I don’t have to drive 3 hours to another city and pay to park my truck for a week. So ultimately we dodged a bullet with that (THANK YOU ANNA) and kinda came out ahead in the end.

Grem was super stressed about it, obvs

Our flight is supposed to leave around noon today, and we layover in Atlanta before hopping the flight to Brussels. Hopefully we’re able to get out on time, or close to it, and don’t have too many travel issues. Between all the stress with work lately, and then the anxiety of the past week worrying about the weather and whether or not this trip was actually going to happen, I’m in serious need of some mental downtime. And waffles. Lots of waffles.

I’ll do my best to keep posting here and on Instagram for as long as I have access to WiFi. So, hopefully the next time you guys hear from me, it’ll be from our hotel in Bruges. Fingers crossed, anyway!

Review: Lund calfskin stirrup leathers 

I was going to wait another week or so to review these until they’re available online, but a) lots of you have been asking about them, and b) I will probably forget for a while because September is nuts for me. So – doing them now, lest anyone be left wondering when they come out.

I really really really needed new leathers when I got these; my last ones had worn literally all the way through to the nylon core. It was janky. Thank you Lund Saddlery for taking pity on me and letting me claim one of the first available pairs. But I’m also really particular about my stirrup leathers, while simultaneously being extremely cheap. And although I would love nothing more than to drop $200 on CWD or Devoucoux leathers without a second thought, it ain’t happening. At the same time though, I have some very specific “must haves” when it comes to leathers:

  • calfskin: this is non-negotiable, I have french calfskin saddles
  • nylon core: I haaaaaate when stirrup leathers get really stretched out and uneven
  • reasonably spaced holes: either half holes or one inch spacing, because I am really weird about very specific adjustments. I need options.
  • color – gotta match the saddle, yo.

I took a leap of faith with the Lund’s, being a new product, but the brand hasn’t led me astray yet AND the leathers ticked all my boxes.

Out of the box they’re quite orange, which is fairly typical of nice calfskin in it’s brand new, pre-oiled state. The question is always whether or not they’ll take oil and darken well. Boy did these pass THAT test! Two coats of oil and they were butter soft and perfectly matched to the Devoucoux.

before and after!

As with all of my other Lund gear, the leathers are really well made and well constructed. There has been no stretch or wear so far in the first couple months of use, and they look just gorgeous. So far, two thumbs up.

The leathers are supposed to be available online hopefully next week (I’m sure if you want them badly enough they could put you on a pre-order list, or make sure you’re following them on fb for new product annoucements!) and retail right around $90USD. Considering I was ready to pay $150 for slightly used CWD leathers, I’m quite happy to have gotten my hands on these instead. They’re every bit as nice, but brand new and for a much more reasonable price.



Sorry ’bout the Hurricane

For those of you who haven’t noticed, a hurricane is currently bearing down on Texas. Well, technically it’s not quite a hurricane yet, but they’re expecting it to be a category one or category two by the time it makes landfall tomorrow. Of course, it’s heading pretty much directly at Houston. I live in Austin, so typically this wouldn’t be much of a problem for me. We’re supposed to get a lot of rain, but that’s about it.

But guess where I’m supposed to be flying out of to head to Europe? And guess which direction Trainer lives, where Henry was supposed to go while I’m gone?

Yeah. Pretty convinced the hurricane is my fault.

Henry’s “week of learnin'” has already been cancelled, because if he’s gonna sit in a stall for a week he might as well do it here instead of there. That’s going to leave me scrambling a bit when I get back, to get him ready for our mid-September horse trial, but it’s not the end of the world. At this point I’m much more concerned at how Houston is going to fare during all this. Mostly because I have a lot of friends down there and I’m hoping they’re able to adequately prepare. But also, if I may be selfish and have a major #firstworldproblem about my European Dream Vacation for a minute, I’m not so sure my flight out of Houston is going to happen.

Image result for smile frown gif

It’s supposed to make landfall late Friday, and then basically just stall out and sit there all weekend. Hence the crazy projected rain totals. My flight is mid-day on Monday, which will at least miss the worst of the like… HURRICANE parts of the hurricane. But by that point I’m betting everything will be pretty well flooded, and it’s not really supposed to stop storming until Monday night.

No automatic alt text available.

Aside from the whole “driving to Houston in a flood” thing and the “strong thunderstorms and heavy rain” forecast thing, our layover in Atlanta is only 50 minutes. If we don’t leave Houston on time, we ain’t making it, and the next flight out of there is a whole 24 hours later. I called Delta yesterday to see about switching to an Austin to Atlanta flight instead… I can see the flight available, and it has plenty of seats open, and it would get me to Atlanta in plenty of time for my connection to Brussels. But of course they haven’t issued a travel advisory for anything past the 26th yet, so she said my only option at this point is to pay $8,000 to switch my flight.

HAHAHAHAHA you’re funny, Delta agent. This was a $368 flight. Total. Round trip.

So all I can do now is wait and see if they issue a travel advisory. But of course, Michelle is flying out of Midland, and literally the only connection from there to Atlanta takes her through Houston. Therefore I’ve kind of just already resigned myself to the fact that we’re likely to end up getting to Brussels a day late. Which effs up our timeline a bit, but we’d still be there in plenty of time for Bundeschampionate. It just means we’d have to cut off the whole France leg of our trip, basically.

Image result for everything is fine

Of course, for me it’s mostly just an inconvenience (unless I really do have to drive to Houston in a flood, then maybe I should invest in a boat). For the people in the storm’s path, they could have some serious issues to contend with. I hope everyone down in that area who is susceptible to flooding is able to go ahead and get their horses out now… I know there are lots of barns in Austin that can take some in, if needed (contact me if you’re looking for somewhere to go). Everybody else, batten down the hatches!

At this point there’s not a lot I can do about it except wait and see what happens, and hope that this thing isn’t as monstrous as they’re saying. Let’s hope it ends up weaker and faster-moving than they’re predicting at the moment.

I just want to GTFO of here and go pet some European ponies, man.




Henry’s Summer Essentials

Guess what? It’s still hot here. After however many days over 100 degrees (I think I stopped counting at 30) so far this year, it’s to the point where it seems like it’s just always been this hot, will always be this hot, and therefore there’s no point in even complaining about it anymore. Hopefully in another month or so it’ll finally start to cool off. Like, below 95 degrees, because no matter what the weatherman insists on saying, you can’t call it a “cold front” when the high is still 98.

When I made my latest Riding Warehouse order last week, as I was clicking through I happened to land on my Past Orders page, and leafing through them made me laugh a bit. I definitely tend to buy the same things over and over, especially during the warmer months. I guess you could call them Henry’s summer essentials.

Pyranha fly spray

Henry must be really tasty or something, because Pyranha is the only brand of fly spray that actually gives him any relief from the bugs for any extended period of time. I used to exclusively use the oil-based version in the yellow container, but this year I tried the water-based version and it worked just as well for him, without the oily residue that the yellow one can leave. Our fly season really is from like March until November, so I just buy this stuff by the gallon to make it more economical.

Himalayan salt block

Henry has one of these in his stall year-round, but he really really loves it in the summer. He stands there after dinner, eyes closed, in front of his fan, licking his salt block, almost like he’s in a weird zen state. I go through about one a month during the summer, but he always drinks well and sweats well, so I’m not complaining. With these I don’t feel the need to put him on any additional electrolytes during the hot months. I tend to buy these like 3-4 at a time so I have a constant supply.

extra points for the “model” horse looking like Henry

Cashel fly mask

This is definitely an essential for Henry, although I haven’t had to order one in a while. By some miracle Henry is on summer number THREE with the same fly mask. It’s finally starting to look a little frayed around the eyes and the elastic on the strap has stretched out, so we’ll probably replace it next year. I’m pretty thrilled to have gotten three years out of a pretty cheap mask though (and they’re on sale right now – only $15!).

Zephyr's Tea Tree Tonic Anti-Fungal Spray

Zephyr’s Garden anti-fungal spray

Typically I get this stuff from Teddy’s Tack Trunk, and the bottle I just got a couple months ago is already on it’s last few drops. I use it every single day to keep all the various summer skin funks and itches away, and it works fabulously for Henry. This stuff and fly spray are probably the most used items in my tack trunk. I’m also interested in trying out the Leave it Bee spray from the same company, at least for his face (during allergy season he tends to rub his face a lot), but haven’t yet.  It has tea tree too, which seems to be the magic elixir for Henry.

German horse muffins

This is Henry’s main contribution to the list… he wouldn’t let me put up his “essentials” without including cookies. He loves these soft treats (like Stud Muffins or Uncle Jimmy’s), and I’m a fan of ones that I can easily tear into smaller chunks. At $22 for a 6lb bag, compared to $20 for a 3lb bucket of Uncle Jimmy’s, or $28 for a 6lb bag of Stud Muffins, these are the best value for this type of treat, and Henry LOVES them.


What are your favorite products to help you and your horse get through the summer?


Henry’s Fun Filled Field Trip

I’m currently in the middle of a week-long barnsitting stint, and this time Henry got to come with me!

After XC schooling on Saturday we loaded up and immediately headed down to the farm. Henry seemed momentarily confused at being unloaded at a place that wasn’t home, but he took one look around and then dove straight for the grass. Priorities.

He was settling in just fine until the resident hussy retired broodmare Quinnie decided that he is the new hot young stud in town and boy does she want to make an Anglo-Trakehner with him. The nickering and hollering across the barn was intense, and has given Henny an overinflated ego. He became completely infatuated with her pretty much instantly. Still is. Real freaking annoying, but at least the screaming has died down a bit.

Trey does not have the same feelings for Henry that Quinnie does. Trey is keeping it real.

Other horses generally don’t like Henry very much, so I think he’s just beside himself that someone seems to love him. I tried to explain to him that this isn’t love, she’s really only after one thing, but he’s not listening to me. Kids, ya know? They gotta find out for themselves.

The other horses go out during the day and Henry goes out at night, so every time there’s a turnout swap, it’s accompanied with a fifteen minutes of screaming back and forth. I finally had to just close the door to the run off of his stall, because he would go stand out there in the hot sun ALL DAY LONG and stare off into the distance at her, causing himself to get super hot. Hey idiot, there’s a nice big fan inside for your heat-intolerant ass!


Drama queen antics aside, it’s been fun so far. I really really really love being able to look out the window and see my horse, or go sponge him off every couple hours during the heat of the day, or do basically whatever I want with him, whenever I want to do it. There’s a lot to be said for that.

Basically a Professional

It’s been a while since Henry and I have been out on cross country. The last time, in fact, was at our last show at the beginning of June. And before that was the derby in May. You have to go all the way back to April to find our last actual XC schooling. Whoops. Where does the time go?


Of course, doing much of anything with Henry in the summer is hard, given how badly he handles the heat. So on Saturday we were up bright and early (ok it was 4:30am, so technically it was dark and early) to head up to MCP to meet Trainer for an early morning school. We’re now less than a month away from our first recognized T, and given my schedule over the next month (i.e. crazy) this was my last opportunity.

Even at 8am it was still pretty hot and humid, so we kept everything pretty brief. It took me the first few jumps to remember the more forward XC ride (it always does… why so dumb?) but Henry was totally game none the less.


Honestly he’s kind of the ultimate professional these days. We schooled a double ditch combo, the Prelim down bank combo, the Prelim Weldon’s wall (which is an option at Training and I swore I’d never take it because the ditch is huge and terrifying. I tried to hide from Trainer when we were near that jump so she’d forget about me and wouldn’t make me jump it, but let me tell you how futile THAT was), then jumped the trakehner the Prelim way (the approach is a bit tougher from that direction, you end up on a slight angle), and a few random T fences. Henny never blinked at any of it. Definitely not challenged in the least.

I did notice though that when I’m concerned about a jump and trying really hard not to look down, I get “tappy” with my whip. Like it’s physically impossible for me to just be still, and if I don’t do something I’ll end up staring down at it and tipping forward. So there I go, tap-tap on the shoulder those last few strides, like some kind of nervous tic, to keep myself occupied.

Henry just kind of flicks an ear at me like “You know I’m jumping that no matter what, you idiot.”. If a horse could roll his eyes, he would. And he’s not wrong. But he chugs right along like a trooper, ignoring how dumb his mom is.

Apparently that habit is limited to jumps that worry me, because I only did it at the Weldon’s and the trakehner. In my defense, they’re both terrifying. If you’re asking me, anyway. Henry obviously disagrees… extra cookies for that boy (and yes, he did get plenty of cookies).

I’m glad that he’s feeling this easy and confident about things, headed into the fall season. Hopefully that means we’re ready. I’m excited to finally get back to the recognized shows and see how we stack up!

Oh and… there is video but I think the person’s camera was having some kind of zoom issue. Anyone know a way to help make the video less nauseating?? I recommend Dramamine before clicking play:

It’s a Hard Nug Life

Guess who’s 5 months old?

these two hand-holding bro nugs

Presto celebrated by getting his second official farrier-performed trim. You may remember that he was, um, less than cooperative for the first one, so when I was up there a few weeks ago we worked A LOT on farrier manners. Either the extra lessons worked or he just decided it wasn’t worth the fight, because he was very well behaved this time. The farrier also complimented the quality of Presto’s feet (now that they aren’t being aimed at his head).

but what about the quality of my itchies?

In all honesty, Presto and Liam are pretty much ready to be weaned. They’re independent, they’ve been eating grain and hay for a while, and their moms are not all that concerned about them anymore. Under normal circumstances, now would be the time.

But we got inspection dates for the sBs (Belgian Sporthorse) tour, and they’re not coming through the US until the end of September. While it’s not really ideal to leave the colts on their dams for that long, it’s far less ideal to present them for inspection “off” their dams, for several reasons. So they might start getting separated a bit for feeding time (moms are starting to look a bit “drained” from these big babies sucking the life out of them, but if you overfeed, you risk physitis in the babies), with official weaning waiting until after the inspection.


I’m still looking into options for moving him closer to me, but that will probably get put on the back burner until winter. I remembered he has to be gelded before he can be pasture boarded (duh), but I’m not going to geld him a) right after the stress of weaning b) in warm gross fly season. We’ve had enough complications so far, I’m not interested in stacking the odds against us any more than necessary. So maybe in November/December he can lose his manhood, and then I can look into bringing him home a month or so after that.

His current favorite hobbies are trying to catch the little goldfish in his tank (who knew he was a fisherman?) and snacking/napping at the same time.


Very tough life this kid’s got these days.