As a Texan, I pretty much live in sunshirts 9-10 months out of the year. They’re an absolute staple down here in the mega-hot-death-ray-sun South, and I own a ridiculous number of them. I’ve tried just about every brand by now, and figured out exactly what I like and don’t like. And since I already have so many, it’s a challenge to find ones that are different and interesting. Enter It’s a Haggerty’s.
I’d seen this brand on Instagram for quite a while, with all of their fun custom patterns and trims and colors. But I’m picky about sunshirt fabric, so I was hesitant to take the plunge on ordering anything custom for fear that I’d end up hating it. I finally was able to see them in person at Rolex and was pleasantly surprised to find that the fabric, while a bit thicker than my favorite Kastels, was quite nice – almost silky feeling. I nabbed one from the Plaid Horse booth to take home with me to test out.
I was glad that I was able to see them in person, because the sizing definitely runs a bit small. I normally wear a medium Kastel but needed a large It’s a Haggerty’s. I quite like the sleeve construction – they have some extra length in the arm and a true cuff, for good coverage and a nice slim fit. I’ve found that if there isn’t a true cuff I’ll end up pushing the sleeves up out of annoyance, which kind of defeats the whole point of a sunshirt. As spring turned into summer I found that the shirt performed admirably in the heat. Not quite as “cooling” as the fabric of the Kastel, but certainly better than the Bette & Court, Ariat, and Riding Sport shirts. The fabric has held up well to my abuse, and the construction is solid.
When there were requests for sunshirts with the Presto logo, I went straight to It’s a Haggerty’s. Not only do they have a million customization options, they also offer cheap embroidery. Typically for large orders they do big batches of the same shirt for barns or teams, so I felt kind of guilty when I sent in my cobbled together order of 11 different Presto shirt and embroidery color combinations plus 2 sBs shirts. I’m sure that was a nightmare, but fast forward a couple months and everything arrived looking great.
The shirts are $60-65 depending on solid vs patterned, and embroidery is $15 (although there are discounts for bulk orders). There was no extra set-up or digitization fee for the logos I sent. Overall they’re very competitively priced for the market. There are so many color and pattern options that it almost becomes impossible to choose just one or two combinations. On one hand I wish there was a fun little configurator on the website to make it easier to envision what it’ll look like, but on the other hand I’m glad there isn’t or I’d probably own a dozen of these things by now.
I’m reserving my Presto shirt – navy with yellow plaid cuffs/collar – mostly for cross country at shows, so that Presto gets to “ride along” with us. Yeah, I’m cheesy. I also ordered one with a Willow Tree logo on one side and sBs logo on the other, which gets tons of compliments every time I wear it. If you’re looking for something custom, or some fun patterns and color combinations, I would definitely check out It’s a Haggerty’s. I haven’t been disappointed!
The Belgians were in Texas for the Willow Tree Warmbloods sBs inspection yesterday!
This registry is fairly new to this country, having come over to the US around 2010, but it’s starting to really get a good foothold with the jumper breeders. Studbook sBs horses are known as “Belgian Sporthorses”, not to be confused with Belgian Warmbloods (from the BWP registry). What’s the difference? Mostly which part of Belgium the studbooks are based in. Studbook sBs covers mainly the southern (French) region of the country and BWP covers mainly the northern Dutch speaking region. Although BWP has been known here in America for longer, sBs was actually the first Belgian registry. It’s quite small, numbers-wise, but has still managed to produce its fair share of superstars (ever heard of HH Azur or Rothchild?) and consistently finds itself near the top of the WBFSH Studbook rankings for jumpers.
Basically, it’s legit. Maybe you’d never heard of it before, but you have now. Also their brand looks kinda like the Budweiser logo, so there’s that.
One of the great things about sBs in the US is that they have full reciprocity with their books in Belgium. It’s not a completely separate registry like some of the other big North American based ones, so you end up getting a European passport as part of the horse’s registration paperwork. Pretty neat. The other great perk is that they use Belgian judges, which gets you consistency in the scoring and a solidly experienced eye.
Granted, they are a very jumper-oriented registry, and Presto is an eventer. I knew he wasn’t going to be the type they generally look for, conformation-wise, which is a big muscular well-developed type of horse… which is not generally what you see galloping around the upper levels of eventing. But I was obviously interested in their general impressions and thoughts on his movement… the opinions of experienced breeders and horsemen are always important.
Before I start recapping events, I have to give props to Michelle for how well she did with organizing and preparing for the inspection. The farm looked great and the judges had much praise for how professional the inspection was. She worked her butt off and it showed. Hopefully going forward we can draw even more people to sBs and her inspection.
We had 2 foals (Presto and Liam) and 7 mares to present, which made for a busy morning. There were plenty of helpers though, so we were able to shuffle everyone through pretty quickly. It was an unseasonably cool day, 65 and overcast, so the horses were plenty “lit”. Some a little bit TOO lit.
Presto was a compete shitturd to braid. Totally wanted to murder him more than once, but didn’t. Gold star for me. He really needs to be weaned so his self esteem isn’t quite so damn high. He held himself together fairly well(ish) for the in hand portion but mostly just galloped around screaming like a deranged donkey for the free movement portion. There were like 10 steps of meh trot in there, so at least we got SOMETHING.
As I expected, they thought he was a little underdeveloped as far as musculature and “bulk” goes. The fact that he’s 74% tb means he will never be particularly solid, and I don’t want him to be, so I’m cool with those remarks. He definitely isn’t the big powerful showjumper standard. He scored straight 7.5’s for the type and conformation section. For perspective, his dam (who I commonly refer to as Hippo or Elephant) got an 8.5 on type. Just slightly different criteria in the jumper vs eventer worlds as far as that goes.
They liked his movement more, giving him an 8 for his walk (it was not very relaxed at the time) and an 8.5 for both his trot and canter. Considering I didn’t think he showed as much quality in his movement as I’ve seen from him before, I was pleased with those scores. Pretty much everything was right in line with what I expected.
After we finished with the horse inspections, both foals got branded and microchipped. Presto had a brief “AM I ON FIRE?” moment with the smoke, but otherwise seemed pretty nonplussed by the branding and the big microchip needle. Sure… stand just fine for those things but dance the tango while I’m braiding you. That makes total sense.
Obviously these pics are just the ones I snapped off of the nice camera’s view screen, so once I get the good versions I’ll post pictures of all the horses. It was a fun (and kind of exhausting) day, but most importantly Presto now has all of his “real horse” stuff done. All that’s really left is to get his lifetime USEF registration! But first: WEANING.
This one was started by Olivia, and I think it’s fun to dream, so dream we shall! She said: “If money was absolutely no barrier and I could custom design every single itty bitty little thing, what would I want in my next horse?”
If you had asked me this question Pre-Henry, you would have gotten a very regimented “16.2h, bay Holsteiner with a star/snip and a couple of white socks, that can take a joke and jump a house”.
If there’s one thing that little bay ball of sass known as Henny has taught me, it’s that it truly is what’s on the inside that counts. These days I’m pretty open to anything 15.3-16.3 that is genuine to it’s core and really wants to do the job. But Olivia said Perfect Horse, so let’s play ball.
Really what I want is all the best things about Henry, but a better mover, easier to ride in dressage, more careful in stadium, and more scope. Oh right, also this perfect horse is bay or brown with just a little bit of white and never has a lame day in it’s life. HA. I still maintain that 16.3h is my preferred upper limit, since I really think the ideal size for a sporthorse is 16.1h or so. I want something that could pack my butt (and all of my bad decisions) around Prelim without turning a hair. Something that is careful in stadium but still super brave. Something that is FORWARD (because I freakin hate when you close your leg and a horse doesn’t react) and wants to take me to the jumps but isn’t a runaway.
Work ethic is probably one of the most important qualities to me in a horse. I had one that had to be “convinced” to go to work every day, and it was not enjoyable to me in the least. I absolutely must have a horse that enjoys the work and is always willing to TRY.
I also want good ground manners – cannot stand super rude horses – but I don’t mind something a little cheeky. Not outright naughty, but I like a horse with some character. Has to be a good traveler, naturally, and easy to catch (another pet peeve). It can’t be inclined to rear, it has to have a decent sense of self-preservation (I don’t want something that will try to jump even when it really really shouldn’t), and it has to have a safe jumping technique. I would want to get it when it was still kinda young and green too, because I’m one of those super masochistic people that likes developing a young horse.
Which kinda leads to this nugget.
I made sure to guarantee myself bay or brown by using a stallion without a red gene, but Presto certainly did his part in the markings department with his star, snip, and one front white sock. My favorite markings! If he’s anything like his parents, I’m hoping that he’ll have at least most of the qualities I’m looking for in my Perfect Horse. We’re a long way from seeing if he develops into that, but I think it’s gonna be pretty fun to find out.
Oh, arena eventing. I’ve tried to like it, I really have. I watch it every time it’s on live broadcast, I’ve watched a lot on Youtube from Europe, and I even did an indoor eventing show once. Which, for the record, was great fun. It used OT instead of fastest time, which seemed considerably more safe. Alas, I digress.
I watched the arena eventing from Central Park on Saturday night (because I was at a party and there were no dogs to pet), hoping to come away with what I’m always hoping for – a “wow that was fun and exciting” feeling. Instead I came away with what I always come away from those things with – a “well, I’m glad no one was hurt” feeling. Granted, maybe I’m being oversensitive, especially considering that a well established French rider suffered a fatal rotational fall at a CCI* horse trial in Europe earlier that same day. Maybe that set me up to be on a hair trigger. Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m the biggest Debbie Downer on the planet. All of those things are possible I suppose.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things I like about the whole arena eventing spectacle.
Big money classes like these, that take place at prestigious horse shows, help put the spotlight on the sport of eventing in general.
These classes help get real money into the hands of some of these riders who really need it. Prize money is hard to come by in our sport.
I always walk away from it thinking that event horses are pretty damn brilliant and genuine.
On the other hand, there are a lot of things I don’t like, which is… pretty much everything else. At the first near horse fall, my heart leaped into my throat and stayed there. At the third near horse fall, I was just crossing my fingers that everyone would stay upright. One horse pulled out a pretty spectacularly athletic feat to manage to not have a rotational, and another one somehow managed to scramble back to his feet after almost completely wiping out around a turn before a jump. Almost every horse did not read the bank question correctly the first time over it. Considering that safety is THE big hot button issue in our sport, these showcases seem to laugh in the face of it.
We’ve been told that one of the main purposes of these types of classes is to showcase eventing as a sport. I have to wonder if this is the kind of showcase we really want. I came from the h/j world, and the most common perception that I remember hearing (or having) about eventers was that they were “yahoos” – riders that cowboyed around but lacked finesse and, to some degree, skill. Others thought it was just downright dangerous to gallop over solid fences. After watching several of these supposed arena eventing showcases by now, it’s easy to see how someone would get that impression. They seem to constantly toe the line between exciting and reckless, like a more extreme version of an already fairly extreme sport. If the riders want to win they have no choice but to go pedal to the metal, yanking the horses around the turns, galloping wildly at big solid fences, jumping dozens of fences over and over and over crammed into a fairly small space. While I’m sure it’s fun to watch from a “thrills and spills” perspective, that’s just not what eventing is.
Even Dom Schramm, part of the winning team, said of the horse he was riding (who was an impressive 20 years old, btw): “He’s just been going novice, so I felt kind of bad for him, as we were turning and burning. Halfway around I was thinking ‘Sorry mate, I wouldn’t normally ride you like this,’ but he was a champion. He was just unbelievable, just picked himself back up.”.
I love Dom and Ryan, and I’m super happy to see them walk away with a big check, but with comments like that coming from the winners, I have to wonder about the format of these classes. I feel like surely there has to be a better way to showcase eventing and to put some prize money in people’s pockets. Watching people (some of whom aren’t even wearing protective vests btw) gallop at big solid corners in an arena setting makes me cringe in a big way. What happens when there’s an accident and a horse or human is seriously injured, or worse?
Surely there’s a middle ground here. A better way to format these classes where it’s still fun to watch, but it’s safer for all involved. Until then, I don’t think I can watch it anymore.
Omg, it’s a miracle, I actually had a jumping lesson. With courses and everything! I know, it’s rare. The local pony club was bringing my trainer in for a big lesson day and they were kind enough to tack me onto the beginning of their schedule. The arena was fantastic (great footing – so springy!) and I only had to drive an hour instead of the usual 2 hours. Total win/win that was much appreciated. Well, by me anyway. Henry was not as enthusiastic about his 5:30AM wakeup call.
The journey from my barn to the site of the lesson day was one I normally would cringe about making. I literally crossed diagonally from one side of Austin to the other, which meant mostly toll road and under-construction highway the whole way. Sunday morning at 6am is the only time I’d recommend that particular journey with a horse trailer… it was actually quite pleasant with very few other cars on the road. Any other time it would just be standstill traffic. Worked out for us!
The arena was set up with all of the exercises for the Pony Club kids, which also fit in pretty well with our agenda for Henry. Last week at MeadowCreek it became pretty clear that he’s got to take a little bit more responsibility for his own feet, and not be quite so reliant on me getting everything 100% perfect in order for him to jump clear. So we worked on getting his feet moving a little quicker, rocking back at the base, straightness, and on making changes by going forward. The jumps stayed small and the exercises themselves got more complicated.
It took several times through the bounce before Henry was really springing himself through it. He has this tendency to land and just stall out a bit, rather than rocking back on that big lard butt and pushing himself off again. Life is hard when you’re built downhill, man. I really had to think of coming FORWARD out of the corner and keep my leg very solidly ON the whole way through.
The straightness stuff was a bit easier for him, but still a great test of our accuracy. Those parts of the exercises almost had more of an XC type feel, jumping on an angle or off a very short track. It was a good test for me, the pilot. I quite liked the little “thread the needle” triple, with 3 jumps that didn’t line up, set one stride apart. There really was only ONE good line through there, which is also true of a lot of the combination questions we’re seeing on XC at Training. It’s important to pick the right line and never waiver from it.
My favorite exercise (the one in the video below) was jumping up through the center of the corner over the barrel as a skinny, two angled strides to the 3rd element of the “thread the needle triple”, around to the bounce, left rollback to the rail, back around and jumping down the triple, 3 forward strides to a vertical. It had a little bit of everything thrown into one mini-course, and Henry answered all the questions well.
It was a fun lesson, and definitely served to highlight the things we do well versus the things we still need to work on. Time to set some bounces back up at home! And uh… make sure we get more regular jumping lessons…
Holy crap guys, guess who turned 6 months old on the 16th?
Time flies, huh? 6 months kind of seems like the official point at which I can’t really call him a foal anymore… he’s a weanling now. Well, he will be after his inspection next week, anyway. Then Sadie goes back to her normal life, focusing on growing her 2017 Diarado baby, and Presto learns what the world is like with no mom to help you through it (or step on you, or use you as a scratching post).
This is also probably the last time he’ll look even semi-attractive until next summer. Is there anything worse than weanling awkwards combined with winter woolies? I think not. After the inspection photos it might be a while before y’all get anymore full body views of the wildebeest. Granted, he’s looking really really moth-eaten right now anyway, so maybe we’ve already crossed into wildebeest territory. It’s like his coat still hasn’t quite recovered from all the sickness and he’s kinda patchy. And gangly. If his chest would actually start to sprout outward, that would be great.
He’s got a big fall and winter ahead. His BFF Liam will be leaving (which I think will make both of them really sad, they’re such bros) and he’ll be getting gelded. He’ll have to do more “big horse” stuff now. Mostly though, he’s just gonna be eating and growing. For like… 4 more years.
He keeps getting better and better though, as he slowly recovers from all the issues he had as a foal. He’s still weedy (maybe he always will be) but his legs have straightened out beautifully and he’s right on target for size, with legs for days. We’re also FINALLY starting to get glimpses of his gaits, too, including the first real trot I’ve ever actually seen from him. His typical preferred gaits are standing still and galloping. I knew there had to be a fancy trot lurking in there somewhere.
Going forward I think the “birthday” posts will be reserved for years instead of months, but you’ll still be seeing lots of Presto updates here, especially once I figure out how to get him a bit closer to me. I need more of this nugget in my life on the regular. Can’t wait to see him next week and get him all prettied up (well, as much as possible at this point) for his inspection!
I’m in the midst of a very hardcore “dreaming of Fall” phase right now. It probably has something to do with the fact that I spent 48 hours at a horse show last weekend sweating non-stop, consuming 18 bottles of water/Gatorade in that time period and still feeling like I was going to die. I’m super pumped for it to not be 95 degrees anymore. WHEN that will actually happen is still yet to be determined, but I’m ready. I’ve been browsing the New Items page at Riding Warehouse a lot, dreaming of all the things I could get when I’m no longer pouring sweat 24/7. Here are a few favorites:
I’m a big fan of riding in merino wool in cooler weather, so I’m always looking to add more of these shirts to my collection. And while typically I’m not a fan of patterns, the subdued green color of this SmartWool top makes me think it would work well with a lot of different breech colors.
God I can’t WAIT to wear cozy socks again. CANNOT WAIT. Love the colors on these Horseware socks, and it seems like they’d work equally well for riding or for lounging.
Continuing on the above sentiment, I also CANNOT WAIT for the day where the thought of putting a scarf around my neck doesn’t make me instantaneously pass the eff out. Someone remind me of this in January when I’m whining about being frozen. Pretty sure I’d feel a lot less frozen if I had a cute hat and scarf set like this though. It could also work as a Christmas gift too (yeah, I went there already) at only $30.
I’ve never really been a big fan of the wide contrasting stitching on any of the Romfh shirts, but I definitely do like the body color of this one. Super into burgundy right now (granted, it comes in navy too). I like that it still has the vents on the sleeves, because it’s really never cold enough in Texas to not need some kind of ventilation when you’re riding.
Told you I was super into burgundy. I’ve been really happy with my other Kerrits coat, it’s very well made and well designed for riding. Everything from the split in the back to the underarm vents to the extra pockets make it a really practical addition to the equestrian’s wardrobe, and this color makes it a really pretty one, too.
Ok so this isn’t specifically related to fall weather, but let’s say that your favorite white XC boots had an unfortunate washing machine accident and are now discolored, therefore you need new white boots for the upcoming show season (not that this actually happened to me or anything, though… ahem…). Now the Gen II Majyk Equipe XC boots come as a package deal, making them a bit cheaper.
Ok I’ll be honest, I spent a long time giggling at the logo on this new stuff from the “George Morris Collection”. I mean… his initials with a king’s crown? LOL. But regardless, this is a pretty cute lower budget snap collar shirt with colorblocking, available in navy and burgundy, that would be cute with or without a coat. It’s casual enough for lesson days, but works just as well under a show coat.
Yes, I had to follow the George Morris shirt with these bad boys. While GALAXY TIGHTS are perhaps a bit much for me personally, have you ever seen anything that screamed BEKA so loudly? I’m sure they’ll have many fans. I mean, they have constellations on them AND they hold a cell phone, what more do you want? Maybe if you get lost in the woods on one of those long fall trail rides, they can help you find your way home. Or at least keep your phone handy so you can easily call for help.
Have y’all been perusing any of the new arrivals lately? What do you find yourself yearning for as the seasons change?
I love it when one whole day of a show is devoted only to everyone’s XC… it’s like the atmosphere changes and all the sudden everybody is PUMPED AF. It’s the main reason why we do all that other crap, after all. If you’ve never stood near the finish line of XC at an event, I highly recommend it.
My ride time wasn’t until noon, so I didn’t even have to set an alarm. I slept in ’til a glorious 6:30, got up and fed Henry, took him for a walk, cleaned his stall, and basically just sat around and watched other divisions all morning. I was wondering if he’d be feeling a little bit tired from the day before, but the answer was a resounding no. As soon as we picked up the canter in warmup he gave me a very sassy little headtoss. He knew exactly what phase was coming, and he was ready. He’d been ready since before dressage, let’s be honest.
We’ve been to MeadowCreek a bunch before, but for the entire last few years that we’ve been coming, the course hasn’t changed much. For this show they flipped it around completely – not only running the track backwards, but also moving pretty much every single fence. Almost nothing was the same from when we were here in June. I was mostly glad about that, because it would give us some new challenges, but also a little nervous wondering if it would throw Henry for a bit of a loop. Nothing looked particularly big or difficult to me except maybe the new Weldon’s Wall (where the old half coffin used to be). That’s mostly just because I hate Weldon’s Walls and think all of them should die in a big fire. Otherwise though, I thought it’d be good.
Fence 1 was just a little rolltop
down to 2, a wide ramp. I wanted to get a little bit ahead of my time in the beginning and establish a good rhythm, so I let him open up a bit for the first few fences. The speed was 470mpm, pretty fast, and the second half of the course was a lot more twisty and technical. I wanted to have some time in hand before we got there, therefore more gallop at the beginning. You don’t have to tell Henry twice.
3 was just a little brush table
then around to 4, the chevrons.
He was already on fire at this point, SO HAPPY to be out. We had a little bit of a gallop stretch to 5, a table
Then I started putting him back together for the first real question – the combo at the mound. It was a rolltop, up and over the mound, with a skinny rolltop off to the left at the bottom. I thought this rode really well, and he locked right on to the skinny rolltop with no problem.
Yeehaw, y’all. Game on. I think this is the point where I started smiling.
I let him keep rolling a bit to 7, the cabin in the fenceline
because after that is where I had to start putting him back together. After 7 we hung a sharp right and there was a random tiny little skinny log in the middle of the field at 8 (which I’m pretty sure he thought wasn’t on our course, I felt him going “are you sure that’s the right one? It’s so tiny!” right up until a few strides out)
before a big rebalance and sharp left to the water. He loves water. I love water. We’re on the same page. The log into the water has a bigger drop on the landing side than you realize, but that just makes it more fun AMIRIGHT??? He jumped in a little more bold than I was expecting, so the 5 strides rode a bit tight, but no problem.
Out of the water there was another sharp left down to the next question on course – a drop bank to a rolltop. I didn’t anticipate any issue here, but obviously wanted to try to jump down the bank as calmly as possible so it didn’t ruin our distance to the rolltop. He obliged and it rode perfectly. Smile is even bigger by this point (in between the wheezing. God it was hot zipped up inside all my gear.).
Then we wove around some trees to a little table set back in the shadows. I don’t like this thing in theory because it’s so dark but it always seems to ride fine. This time was no exception.
After that was the brand spankin’ new Trakehner. The ditch was big. At least I think it was big, I wouldn’t know for sure because I didn’t walk within 20′ of this thing on the course walk. It looked big from that far away so there was no need to get any closer. There are some things I just don’t need to know, ok? I gave him a little tap with the whip at the base, more for my benefit than his, but he just sailed right over. I think Henry was so high on cross country by this point that there could have been a family of grizzly bears in that ditch and he wouldn’t have noticed.
After that we crossed the bridge to the other field and had a bending line combo of brush fences. It took a couple whoas to convince him to come back for this, but it rode fantastic. No problem.
Thanks for the video Kate!
After that was the dreaded Weldon’s Wall, the only fence on course that had really caused me any concern. The ditch in front wasn’t wide, but I still hated it. I stuck my feet a little further in the stirrups, sat up, velcroed myself to the saddle, and looked up where Trainer told me to (for once in my effing life)… just in case he took a peek! But honestly, I don’t think Henry even noticed there was a ditch. He got right up to the base and we landed galloping away. Gold star for the pony.
I got so overexcited about not dying at the Weldon’s that I kinda forgot to rebalance for the next little rolltop and we took a bit of a flyer. Oops. Sorry Henny.
Right after the rolltop I heard my watch beeping for the 4 minute mark. I was like uh-oh… we’ve only got one more jump and the optimum time is 4:40. The twistier stuff at the end didn’t eat up as much time as I’d thought it might. So I brought him back down to a casual canter, loped across the bridge, over the itty bitty last fence (which I think he found insulting), and across the finish.
When we finished I had one of those “OMG did I forget a fence or something?”. It seemed like it went by so fast. I quickly took a mental stock of everything and was like no, we definitely jumped them all. I checked my watch and we were great on time, about 15 seconds under optimum for a double clear. Then it was a “HOLY SHIT THAT FELT EASY!”. It was the smoothest cross country round we’ve had in a long time… pretty much everything jumped right out of stride, I followed the plan, we were efficient with our track, and Henry felt absolutely brilliant answering every question with a resounding “I’d be delighted!”. It is such a joy to sit on that horse cross country. It makes all his dressage bullshit worthwhile.
Better yet he cooled out quickly, his legs felt good, and he had enough energy to come snorting and spinning off the trailer when we got home. He still wasn’t the least bit tired.
So now our first recognized Training is officially in the books, and it feels pretty great. Not gonna lie, I got a little teary-eyed on the drive home. Henry and I’s very first event was November 2014 at that same venue, a BN where we had a stop at the little baby down bank. I remember walking that course and saying I would never go Novice, everything just seemed so big and so impossible and so beyond us. Yet here we are now thinking Training seemed easy. Who would have ever thought? That horse is a fat little sassypants but he’s worth his weight in gold.
So yesterday you got the backstory… today you get the consequences.
On Saturday I was up at 6 to feed Henry and continue my quest for finding the farrier. I was one of the first people up and about, and while I didn’t actually find the farrier, I did see that his son’s horse was now in his stall. That meant he had to be there somewhere. I decided to go ahead and braid Henry while we waited for daylight. Judging by all the ground-in poop in his stall, it looked like WildHenry had paced all night, and he was a royal PITA to braid. The idea of a nice pretty braid job went out the door by the time he whacked me in the face with his head for the fourth time, so he just got some big fat braids and I called it good.
By 7 the farrier still hadn’t emerged and I started to get worried. I kept asking around, hoping someone had seen him or knew where he was. By 7:50, an hour before my ride time, I was on the verge of panic. Finally I stumbled across someone who told me where his RV spot was, and I marched over there like a crazy person and knocked on his door, basically begging him to come out and tack my horse’s shoe back on ASAP. He said he’d be out in a few minutes, so I threw my horse at one of the moms (I’m so sorry) to hold for him while I went to get dressed.
Finally we had the shoe back on, we threw some tack on him, tried to knock the dust off, and I swung aboard my wild mustang. And he was LIT. What I really needed was a 15 minute canter and a good 30 minutes of trotting and transitions and lateral work. What I got was 15 minutes of me trying to convince him that I could actually touch him with my leg without him bouncing up and down like a cracked out llama. His sassiness level can always be measured by his tail… the faster is spins, the less fun I’m having. That thing was spinning like a helicopter.
Even that early in the morning it was 80-something degrees and so humid we could both barely breathe. He was dripping, I had sweat streaming into my eyes, and I was sitting on a fire breathing dragon. All I could think was thank god we’re only here to survive, because that’s about all I could expect from this test. It was tense… REALLY tense. I had to ride very very carefully to prevent a blowup, and he seemed to think that the faster he moved his legs, the faster he would get to cross country. It wasn’t particularly attractive. Also I really really hate Training B with a burning passion. Canter lengthenings on a circle are really hard when your horse is built like a QH. Just saying.
I will say, to his credit, he was obedient. He didn’t want to be, and he was angry about it, but he did what I asked him to do. We got through it. That was the most important part. Of course, I forgot to pick up my test sheet (again) so I can’t tell you what the scores or comments were, but they aren’t hard to imagine. If you really want to watch it in it’s entirety, knock yourself out.
The judge gave us a very generous 34.6. It’s a little frustrating because I know that a really good test is lurking just beneath the surface with this horse – he’s been AMAZING at home lately – but given the circumstances of the day, I’m just gonna tuck it away and move on. It could have been a lot worse, all things considered.
Our stadium wasn’t until 3, so he got to have a bath and a graze and go back to his stall to chill for a while. Of course, by the time 3 rolled around it was hotter than the surface of the freaking sun. 95 degrees in September seems excessive.
I let him have a long walk around warmup so we could make sure the little hamster in his brain was actually on it’s wheel. He seemed almost TOO quiet, until I picked up my reins to start trotting, at which point he LEAPED into canter. Ok, so it’s gonna be like that then. Glad I decided to put the Dr Bristol on and not carry a whip. I just let him canter for a bit until I felt him start to actually relax. We jumped a few warmup fences and he felt great, so we just chilled and waited our turn. Y’all know how badly he deals with the heat. No point in pushing him.
The course was a lot of singles, with a really tight turn from 2 to 3 at the beginning. I was a bit disappointed that the jumps looked so SMALL… Henry is much more careful and much easier to ride when he’s a little impressed. Plain and small always equals trouble for us. I need someone to jack the jumps up and put alligators under them, please (for real, I’ll pay cash).
One of my biggest issues in stadium is my tendency to come out of the corner and start pickpickpicking my way to the base, which I knew would be exceptionally easy to do with this course if I let myself be lulled into that. Really I needed to keep the rhythm and use the turns to rebalance us, then allow him to come forward out of the turn. I was determined not to pick.
Which, turns out, even if I had pulled I don’t think anything would have happened, because Henry was still on fire. He actually felt good though, jumping really well through the first part of the course (jumping me out of the tack at fence 5), albeit a bit unbalanced in some of the turns. I really should have puts studs in to showjump on the grass, I had a really hard time keeping that inside hind under him. Lesson learned for next time. Grass should basically always equal studs for this horse.
We were a bit tight jumping out of the second double, a very plain dark brown oxer, and he rolled the rail there. Not a surprise. Then we came around and rolled the next rail too. I just didn’t do a good enough job of getting him balanced back through that turn, and he was too flat coming in. My bad. I do wish they’d left the liverpool under that one for Training, it would have really helped me out!
So while 8 faults looks ugly on paper, I wasn’t disappointed. It was the first T stadium we’ve done where I felt like I actually rode it according to plan, rather than just reacting to whatever happened along the way. Considering this was the first course we’d jumped since the June horse show, I was perfectly ok with it. We weren’t there to win, we were there to put in a decent effort that we can go home and build upon. I think we did that. The polish will come.
The best part of all? We were now done with all the hard stuff… all that was left was XC on Sunday!!!
The Hot Mess Express was running pretty much 24/7 last week. The last Henry update you got was last Wednesday, where I recapped his series of calamities that kept us from actually properly prepping for the show. As of last Wednesday he had pulled a shoe, garnering himself 2 days off, but the farrier came and put it back on. I went ahead and asked him to just redo him, since we were almost at 5 weeks anyway, but he didn’t have his drill press with him that day, so he just tacked the missing shoe back on and came out the next morning to do a complete reset.
That was Thursday.
I get to the barn Thursday afternoon, ready to FINALLY fit a ride in. I went out and set up a few jumps in the field, since it had been, oh ya know, a month since we last jumped. I won’t even tell you how long it had been since we last jumped a course (coughtheJunehorsetrialcough). I set up our little warmup boxes, a 3’3″ vertical, and a 3’6″ oxer. We had a nice stretchy trot warmup, then went for a quick little canter, popped over the jumps a few times, and called it done. He actually felt super, especially considering how long it had been.
And then we went for a walk.
And then he tripped and did this.
Can’t even make this shit up, y’all. He had about 4 hours in these new shoes before he decided he was done with the four-shoe lifestyle. Hasn’t pulled a shoe in a year and now he’d managed two in a week.
I knew my farrier wasn’t going to be very happy with Henry, considering the guy had already been out two days in a row for my ridiculous horse. Turns out it didn’t really matter how he felt, because he had left my barn and gone to Houston to shoe horses for a couple days. No way he’d be back in time to tack Henry’s shoe back on (again). So Trainer confirmed that there would be a show farrier, and I just figured no big deal, I’ll get it tacked on tomorrow when we get to the show.
On Friday I worked a half day, got to the barn around 11:30 to load all my crap, and we were on the road by noon. We made good time and rolled in before 2, I got a nice parking spot in the trees so that my tent was in the shade, got Henry’s stall all set up, checked in at the office, and proceeded trying to find the farrier. Someone told me that his son was showing, suggesting I check his stall and see if they were there yet. A little bit of creepy stalking later, I located the stall, but nope – not there yet. No big deal, I’ll just go hang out and wait.
I spent the next 6 hours checking that stall every 20 friggin minutes. By 7 it was obvious that I wasn’t going to get to ride that day, and I really didn’t even want to take Henry out and walk him around since he’s such a baby when he’s barefoot. Getting a bruise the day before dressage wouldn’t be good. We were not exactly off to the start I wanted for the show, not getting to ride him or even get him out of his stall. And with an 8:50 dressage time in the morning, I was starting to get nervous. Really nervous. What happens if the farrier doesn’t show up in time?
I watched my horse looking more and more wild in his stall before I finally did the only thing I could do: go to bed.
This is all important back story before we actually get to the dressage recap. The drama continues tomorrow…