Four Years of Henny

Four years ago today I took a crazy leap of faith and bought a plain bay TB named Jerry off of Facebook, sight unseen. I immediately dubbed him NotJerry (because I didn’t like that name and didn’t want it to stick) before hemming and hawing for a while, looking at his pictures, and settling on Henry instead. A friend of mine picked him up in Arkansas and brought him back to Texas with her, so I didn’t meet him until the next day, but I was already a bit more in love than someone should be with a supposed “resale” horse. Clearly that whole resale part never happened.

our first meeting, when I picked him up in Dallas


This horse brings me so much joy, and puts laughter into my life every single day. He’s my best buddy, my team mate, my confidant, and my therapist. I trust him implicitly, and I’d like to think he feels the same way about me. Every day when I see that goofy face come greet me at the gate, it makes my heart a little more full. I’ve owned a lot of horses in my lifetime, having spent a long time going from one project to another, but none of them have been as special to me as this one.

our first jump!

That’s not to say that these four years have been easy-peasy. Henry is one of the most challenging horses I have ever had, and it’s taken me a long time to figure him out. He has some baggage that we may never fully overcome, but he shows up to work every day and tries his heart out for me without exception. He’s taught me how to be more tactful, more aware, and how to think outside the box.

the bitless days

He’s taken me on a journey I would have never even dreamed possible and taught me more than I knew I was capable of learning. He has humbled me, yet boosted my confidence at the same time. He is not fancy or flashy or endlessly talented. No one would ever pick him out of a crowd. But that plain brown wrapper is hiding a heart of gold, and that’s the most important thing any horse can possess.


If you had told me four years ago that we’d be where we are today, I would have thought you were smoking something really expensive. Henry has brought me back to eventing and reignited my passion for the sport. He’s carried me over things I never thought I would have the courage to jump. And yesterday in our dressage lesson we did a canter half pass that was good enough to get a “YES! EXCELLENT!” from our trainer. But mostly he’s just been a rock steady presence in my life, flopping that tongue around like a doofus when I’ve had a bad day or looking for just the right bush to spook at when he thinks I’m getting a little too big for my britches. I’ve never had another horse like him, and I can only hope that there are still many more adventures that lie ahead for us.

like these!

To Henny! You are one of a kind, bud, and it’s an honor to be your human.

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Adults on Ponies/Honies

Let us discuss!

I grew up in the h/j ring, where ponies were strictly kid’s horses. I can count on one hand the number of times I saw adults on ponies, and usually it was because said pony had been N-A-U-G-H-T-Y at some point, not because the adult actually owned and showed the pony regularly. And if it was in the dreaded 14.3-15.2h range – forget it! No value in a horse that size. These days I don’t know if it’s just that the tide is turning a bit, or if it’s the fact that I’m involved in different sports, but seeing an adult on a pony or hony isn’t a rarity anymore.

that’s a pony

While I personally am a bit big for actual ponies, I could totally see myself on something 15h-15.2h. I think it’s great that we’re seeing smaller mounts more regularly for adult riders. After all, how many times have we seen an adult amateur perched atop a giant warmblood that is quite literally way too much horse in every regard?

These days, the quality of the purpose-bred ponies and crosses is so high. Gone are the days of short-legged little demon fluffs who look as if they were made from spare parts and moved like miniature sewing machines. These days the ponies easily rival the warmbloods when it comes to quality gaits and talent.

that’s also a pony

While the dressage pony/hony breeding has really gotten quite good in this country, the jumper side of things has been slower to grow. I think a lot of people believe that a pony or small horse just couldn’t possibly have the scope and step to rival a horse, but to those people I ask – ever watched the pony jumpers in Europe? Those things can ping around 1.20m like greased lightning, and it’s not at all unheard of for them to make it to 1.30m or 1.40m. Granted, it’s probably slightly more unnerving to approach a bigger fence when said fence is taller than your mount, and some people genuinely do need larger horses. But really, do I have to do anything more than point to Kent Farrington and Creedance to prove the potential positives of a smaller mount?

There has always been a pretty strong, yet niche market for the Connemara in eventing, something they have proven time and time again to excel at. I have to admit, I myself am a big Connemara fan. Someday I’ll own a cross. Preferably buckskin. Not that I’m dreaming or anything (okay, I might be a little obsessed with WH Topgun). They are not always the best movers though, and good ones can be hard to find.

yep, it’s a pony

I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot since we saw the pony-sized Usandro in France a few months ago. He is mostly warmblood, and certainly looks just like a warmblood, only shrunken. He gives scope, a good length of step, rideability, and good gaits to his foals. He’s by the horse stallion Sandro Boy, who scored a 10.0 for jumping at his approvals, went on to be a World Cup winner under Marcus Ehning, and sired the Champion of the Holsteiner licensing in Germany this year. His damsire is Welcome Sympatico, who managed compete successfully through 1.55m despite being only 15h. The amount of “jump” in that pedigree is better than most horse stallions in this country. The more I’ve let it ruminate, the more I think he would cross really well with the type of mare base we have in the US and make some really super little horses that could excel at all 3 Olympic disciplines. Spoiler alert – the first three photos in this post are all Usandro offspring in Europe.

Usandro himself

What I’ve really been stuck on, though, is how to make a stallion like this appeal to American breeders. The most obvious answer is easy: demand. Riders have to want these horses in order for anyone to produce them. A lot of people seem stuck on the magical 16h minimum requirement. I get that, but there are also plenty of people that could have a lot of success with smaller horses (or ponies), too. How do we encourage that, or get people to take a chance with (and see the value in) a more pint-sized mount? Those are the questions I keep pondering.

Over time I think that these sportponies and honies will continue to gain ground with adult riders. Competitions like the Pony Cup are definitely helping, as is the media attention that a lot of small horses get at competitions. Could a stallion like Usandro find a market here as a sire? Will American riders buy the offspring? And will the prices be enough to actually make it worthwhile to breed them, or will people see a pony and expect it to be cheap? I want to find out.

Green Numbers

You know those fences that you look at for years and think “Eff no I am never jumping that stupid thing, it is too big and wide and I don’t want to die”? Ok, I’ve said that about a lot of things. But at Pine Hill there is a Prelim wagon in particular that is pretty much all of my worst nightmares rolled into one. It’s essentially a square table, which I hate. It’s big enough to be like… an actual wagon. I tend to be firmly in the camp of “don’t jump things that could be vehicles or residences for anyone hobbit sized or bigger”. Seems to just be a good life rule, ya know? Right up there with “don’t stick your hand in a fire” and “don’t walk out in front of a bus”. But before we get to that part, let me set the stage for you.

it’s a Henny in his natural habitat

We were out there on Sunday, Henry and two little fresh-OTTB kids. They were adorably (and sometimes hilariously) jumping around the Goldilocks/BN stuff, and I was just kind of there to jump whatever. No need for an intense XC school at the moment, but it’s always good to get out and school a little bit with some kind of frequency. One of the OTTB kids was Trainer’s greenie, who is about 3 weeks into his retraining and was bopping right around with no problem. He’s super quiet and smart and handsome, it’ll be fun to see him come along.

The other belongs to Lofty‘s mom Kathy, who has only had him for a couple weeks but he’s a super bold and willing guy. This one is also quite smart, and looks like he’ll make up to be a cross country machine. He really didn’t even look twice at anything until we got to the little faux trakehner back in the woods, which he took exception to by leaping, like a deer, sideways across it. It was hilarious in the way that only green horses can be, as he was flying through the air to a chorus of shrieking laughter from the peanut gallery (myself included). And if that happens in front of me, I will absolutely Photoshop that picture. Say hello to Blitzen. I love him. (and I have no idea what his actual name is)

sorry Kathy, loveyameanit!

So there were those two little green beans, and then Henry and I. I guess Henry was supposed to act as the “big brother” influence but honestly when it came to the whole walking-through-the-woods part, Henry was the spookiest of the bunch. I legit almost went flying off the back of him at one point when he spooked at a bird.

We bopped over a couple little fences to warm up, then Trainer told us to jump Prelim 1 to Prelim 2. We’ve done 1 before, just a big log stack, but I have never been a fan of 2. It’s not as straight-up-NOPE for me as the wagon, but it’s another big square solid table. No one at USEA seems to be on board with my “burn all the tables” idea, so I guess we should get used to jumping them. Plus the fact that we didn’t die over that last huge brush table at Texas Rose has given me a little bit more confidence.

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it was too far away to screen shot so here’s your slow-mo gif instead

Then we headed to the water and jumped both Training ways through it. I didn’t realize it until we got in, but the recent rains have raised the water level substantially. We got about two strides into the water before it turned into Splash Mountain and a big wave of water came flying all the way up to my head. I was soaked.

that moment when you realize it’s deeper than you thought but it’s too late

I declined to jump the Prelim route through the water. We’ve already done that a couple times before and I had no desire to get any wetter than I already was. For real. I was wiping freezing cold water out of my EYEBALLS.

the T route was fun though, even though I got soaked

We kept going around the course to the mound, where the babies jumped a few things. Trainer asked if I wanted to jump the Prelim wagon, which was the only bigger fence in the area. I kinda looked at her, looked at the wagon, had a moment of bravery, and said “sure”. I mean… apparently she thinks I can jump the wagon without dying, the horse feels good today, I’m only halfway shitting myself just thinking about it… this might be as good as conditions ever get. Trainer told me to go check the footing around it first, and I slowly walked over and around it to verify that it was nice and dry, while also trying really hard not to make direct eye contact with that thing. I don’t need to know how big it is. Then I picked up the canter, strapped my balls on extra tight, and away we went.


And we did it! I actually sat up and waited to the base (because it was the only option besides death – amazing how you ride better when there’s no other option) and Henry popped right over like NBD.

I pretty much quit with that and spent the rest of the time enjoying our trail ride through the woods. There was a P combo that we haven’t done and I would like to, but it was down at the crater and the footing was still pretty muddy there. I didn’t think that was wise, so we’ll shelve that one til next time.

I’m mostly still shocked that I finally jumped that stupid wagon – and lived to tell the tale, no less. And it didn’t seem hard. And Henry was ho-hum about it. WTF is even happening? Don’t get me wrong, we are a LONG WAY from even considering jumping around a Prelim for real, if we ever do. We have plenty of issues to iron out at Training. Plenty. And by we I mean me. But it’s pretty fun that we can go out to school and casually jump some of this stuff that is pretty legit and have it not seem like a big deal. It does a lot for the confidence, and makes me love that silly little brown horse even more.


I’ve always had a hard time being a casual enthusiast about anything. I either really dislike something or really love something, and if I really love it, I can be a wee bit obsessive. So when USEA announced that they were going to live stream the Annual Convention, I put my on geek glasses (theoretical, of course) and got to planning. The schedule made it such that I really had to pick and choose, and some of those choices were hard. Usually they had several streams going at once, plus they were on Pacific time so I missed some due to the fact that I…. ya know… had to peel myself away to go ride my horse. But on Friday and Saturday I managed to catch several different presentations, and of course I took notes!

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First up – Equiratings! USEA will be implementing Equiratings as an assessment tool to help minimize risk of horse falls. Basically every horse will get a rating based on past performances.



  • already implemented in Ireland, where they saw a 15% decrease in falls at 2* level by removing less than 5% of competitors at highest risk
  • ratings will be by horse
  • ERQI (EquiRatings Quality Index) scale goes from 0-1
  • there will be outliers – horses that are not at risk for fall but have “bugaboo” fences types that cause consistent refusals
  • main goal is RISK MANAGEMENT
  • think of this is an assessment tool for your horse and it’s current progress
  • competitions can carry their own risk ratings
  • this is not a qualification – it is a pilot program that will be open to feedback and changes


Next was Marilyn Payne going over the major changes to the new 2018 dressage tests, explaining what the new movements are looking for, and giving tips on a few things.

2018 Dressage Tests

  • All of A’s you track left, all of B’s you track right
  • B’s are harder test
  • Included as many mirror image movements as possible
  • All free and medium walks are separately scored
  • Every halt is a separate score
  • Prelim trot work rising or sitting
  • Extended free walks to long diagonals
  • coefficients taken out of walk scores since there are now separate walk scores
  • BN test – don’t have to trot all the way up to the scary judge at C or do 10m half circle from centerline
  • N test – 2 loop serpentine, stretch circle in Novice B
  • Training A – 10m half circle left, then right. Training B – teardrop shape. “develop a lengthening” – don’t just come blasting out of the corner.
  • Change your diagonal at the end of the change of direction.
  • Come back to working from lengthening after center line on canter circles.
  • Halt/reinback introduced at Mod B
  • Prelim A – few changes in movements, Prelim B counter canter loop to X instead of quarter line. Stretch serpentine (like FEI test).
  • Halt score – not just about being square, its about the balance going into the transition as well as immobility
  • Leg yield – almost completely parallel to the rail with just a slight flexion of the head. Many people overbend the neck/shoulder.


After that was an open forum session on the Classic 3Day series.

Classic 3Day 

  • needs to be a sample conditioning program on the USEA site
  • suggestion about sending an “info packet” to riders when they enter so they have a better idea of what to expect
  • Colleen Rutledge: likes using the classic format for developing horses, especially crossbreds, so they start learning how to handle themselves when they begin to feel tired
  • how to draw more entries – prizes? event sponsors to offset organizer costs?
  • if you want classic format in your area, ask the organizers, tell the area chairs, etc. A lot of organizers won’t take on the additional expense/work unless they think it will draw enough competitors to be worthwhile.


AND THEN… on to the Future Event Horse program discussion with FEH judge Robin Walker.


  • We’re seeing better quality horses and more of them
  • it’s always clear who takes the time to properly prepare their horses both for the triangle and the free jumping – preparation is KEY to good results
  • first year of 4yo FEH was a success, provided a good segue for 4yo’s who were not ready for YEH
  • USEA will provide an experienced, professional team to run the horses through the free jump chute (this will be optional whether you want to use them or do it yourself)
  • RW thinks the program has outgrown the infrastructure that supports it
  • they want to create of system of apprenticeship, seminars, and online testing and continuing education courses for judges.
  • judges have to start attending FEI jogs and learn to spot what a 1*, 2*, 3*, and 4* horse looks like – one of the biggest complaints is that judges aren’t taking future potential into consideration enough
  • introducing “dealbreakers” to judges – things that should automatically knock a horse down from the top placings
  • RW wants to see USEA provide a platform for registration for farms/breeders so that riders and owners are more easily able to find purpose-bred horses in the US


Carrying right along from FEH to YEH, there are a lot of big (and IMO good) changes coming to the YEH program.


Young Event Horse

  • common request – make the judging shorter. There is a new revised scoresheet and they have simplified the judging.
  • Simplify qualifiers to make them easier to run – conformation will only be judged at championships (qualifiers will be 70% jumping, 30% dressage), no halt in qualifying test
  • Option fences at championships – one SJ, one XC – a higher or more technical fence to give the rider the option to show off a horse with more power/scope or rideability. You will not be penalized for choosing not jumping it, but if you jump it and it goes badly, it can affect the score.
  • 4yo and 5yo qualifying tests are almost identical except for lengthenings and size of circles, so it’s easier for riders to remember
  • USEA ultimately wants to develop an American young horse system that goes from FEH to YEH to a 6yo 1* and 7yo 2* program, just like the European model.
  • Finals will be held over 2 consecutive days at each coast, total of four days back to back, thur/fri at Fair Hill, Sat/Sun at Fresno
  • Courses will be as identical as possible on each coast (Fresno chosen because it is more similar to FH)
  • Criteria and scale for judging – under 5, not an event horse, 5’s BN/N potential, 6’s T potential, low 7’s Prelim potential, high 7’s Int, 8-9 Adv 3* 4*


The adult rider one was a bit of a snooze for me until Bunnie and Boyd showed up to speak and answer questions, although I was greatly amused at the exponential increase in girlish GIGGLING from the audience as soon as Boyd took the floor.

Adult Rider

  • USEA is looking to do a 3 year cycle for AEC’s with 2 years east of the Mississippi and then one year west of the Mississippi
  • 2017 – 3 shows offering Modified, 2018 – 17 shows offering Modified. This division will line up with new FEI 2019 1* specs, so it’s expected to grow over the next two years.


  • Clinics are fun and great, but if you have limited funds, put your money into having a great trainer that can give you a very solid foundation.
  • The best horses when you’re at the lower level are the ones that can tolerate your mistakes, find a kind horse, not a world-beater.


  • being nervous is healthy
  • Lots of people’s idea of a hobby is sitting on the couch drinking beer and watching NASCAR. We feel a lot more pressure than they do, but remember that the pressure is a privilege – take a deep breath and enjoy the moment.
  • think through the course, but don’t let it consume you. Concentrate but don’t overthink it.
  • believe in the work you’ve done at home
  • to be a great XC rider you have to have the ability to react well when things go wrong – accept that it’s not going to be perfect and instead focus on how to recover quickly and  move past it
  • if you make the warm-up too perfect, things go wrong on course – so in the warmup get some smaller fences out of rhythm, practice the more forward distance, but also challenge yourself to turn in the air or angle fences or try for a less perfect distance. Get the horse and rider focused on the challenges.
  • You can improve a horse, but you can’t change him.
  • It’s not just the result you’re after. Winning is fun but if you want to improve, be self-critical of your own riding. Compare videos of your riding to the top riders to find things you can do better.
  • Cross country is all about confidence, and confidence comes from training.


Then I flipped over to the second half of a presentation by an Adequan guy, which was really really really awkward to watch. I was cringing by the end. Mostly it was just a presentation about why Adequan is amazing, which is fine, but when presented with specific questions there was a lot of dodging.


Constructing a Wellness Program for the Aging Horse 

  • Good decisions and good management are the best way to keep horses sound
  • Adequan dosage – one injection every 4 days for 7 doses has shown to have the most benefit.
  • Really hesitant to answer question about how often to do the 7 dose protocol and never gave an actual answer or range. Basically said it depends on the horse, what the issue is, how much damage there is, and how you manage the horse. Someone kept pressing and asked “once a year?” and he said “maybe”, finally ended up saying that he knows some Advanced horses do once a quarter, then admitted they need to do more research in that regard.


I watched parts of the presentation from the Charles Owen guy about the differences in injuries by gender while I was waiting for another feed to start but it was so sciencey that honestly most of it went way the heck over my head. The main takeaway was that brain and neck injuries can be more severe for women, and women take longer to recover from them. Here’s a bunch of slides with charts and stuff.

How Rider Injuries Differ by Gender






The Rule Change Open Forum was a must-watch of course, although nothing really earth shattering is coming for eventing, and my feed kept dropping out so I missed parts of the explanations and some Q & A.

Rule Changes

  • Bits out of rule book and into annex to allow for faster changes and updates
  • nose nets will be allowed with signed letter from vet
  • allowing brown helmets Dec 1 2018
  • glue on shoes legal
  • specifically naming the cross country controller under personnel, with criteria for that job
  • when measuring a spread fence – including specific verbiage to measure the spread where it is intended for the horse to jump
  • qualifications for dressage penalties changes to 45pp, since FEI coefficient is gone
  • Safe Sport Initiative


Overall I really LOVED having the live stream. I always want to attend the convention but it’s not cheap and it’s hard to get days off of work this time of year. Being able to log in and watch any/all of it was fantastic.

Let it… snow?

Yeah, um, whut? The meteorologists big fat failed on this one. It was 85 Monday, then a cold front was supposed to come through, drop us into the 40’s, it was gonna rain a little on Wednesday, then be back up in the 60’s again.

so what is that on the corgi?

In case is anyone is unfamiliar with the southern half of Texas, it basically doesn’t snow here. And if it does, its a very very light dusting that doesn’t stick yet the entire city shuts down anyway because people here freak out even in regular precipitation. You should see the widespread panic when they call for anything frozen – last year people raided the grocery stores just because it was supposed to get down to 20 degrees, with NO precipitation. Like there was no bread left at Walmart. Every 5 years or so we get some white stuff that actually hangs around for a few hours. In all the time I’ve lived here (21 years) I’ve managed to scrape together enough snow to make a snowman (albeit a sad tiny one) a grand total of 3 times.

But I can’t remember it ever snowing, really SNOWING, without it being forecasted like doomsday for at least a few days in advance. The weather guys didn’t jump on this until  it was happening, and then they said it wouldn’t accumulate since it’s been so hot recently.

my backyard says otherwise

South Texas is WHITE. All the way down to Houston!

Snow in Wimberley (KXAN Viewer Photo)

I’m sure it’ll all be gone by mid morning but for me this was a fun little unexpected treat. I was driving home from the barn when the first big snowflake hit my windshield and I was like “WTF was that? Is it… is it SNOWING? Nooo… OMG IT IS! TAKE A PICTURE EVERYONE HOLY CRAP!”. Texans. We don’t ever see these things.


And what had I been doing at the barn? Trying to let my horse run around and stretch his legs, since that “little bit” of forecasted rain on Wednesday turned into a 36-hour soaking. Which, for the record, I am also 100% ok with because the fields needed it. But despite not having been out for 2 days, Henry was uninterested in participating in shenanigans. He rolled, he grazed under the fence, and he snorted a lot, but he never left a slighty peppy walk despite my encouragement.


Until, of course, I ran a few steps away from him. Then the game was on.

Yep, I was the crazy person trotting around the ring in tandem with my horse, giggling madly the whole time. Serious work that us eventers are up to right now, guys. Maturity level off the charts. This went on for a lot longer than it should have.

And then it started snowing, and then I got home and Elf was on, and now Texas is all SNOWY, at least for a few more hours.

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I may or may not have listened to Christmas carols on the way to work.

Buying Professional Show Photos

I’ve talked about professional horse show photographers on this blog before. What makes a good one, what makes a bad one, why it’s a total a-hole move to steal their pictures, etc. I am, to my very core, a big fan of good equine photography. Not so much the pictures of a human standing next to a horse in a pretty field, wearing a flowy top or a dress or something (they are super artistic and lovely in their own right, but I would literally rather die, that is just so not me), but good ACTION shots or even the occasional show candid (because if you take a picture of me petting or smooching my horse there is like a 100% chance I will buy it bc I LOVE HIM).

This is my new favorite photo and you will see it a lot in the future, sorrynotsorry

Although I am a lover of great photos, my show budget is very small, and my budget for superfluous show-related things is even smaller. As much as I would love to pre-order an All Images package at every single show – and video of every phase from the show videographer, while we’re at it – it is just not in the cards. At $30ish a pop (which I think is reasonable, all things considered) for a digital image from our rated show photogs, they add up fast, so usually I have to end up narrowing it down to my absolute favorites. I am always guaranteed to buy at least a couple though.

His face + turquoise water = had to buy even though I already have approximately 4 billion water photos

Mostly that’s because I really love pictures. Long after the day is done and the adrenaline rush of competition is over, you can look back on the photos and remember how much freaking fun it was. To me these photos are memories, which I find to be dang near priceless. I love having nice, professional quality shots of Henry’s progression as an event horse, and I love when I come across them while looking through a photo album or when they pop up on my facebook memories. It never fails that I find myself smiling all over again. Having tons of video stills or iphone photos are important too of course, for the sake of quantity/ease/blogging, but nothing can replace those beautiful high res professional shots of The World’s Best Horse (possibly biased, but probably not).

Like this pic from Henry’s 2nd Beginner Novice in 2015. We’ve come a long way, kid.

I also feel like, especially in the age where every teenager is holding a Nikon or a Canon (and no disrespect to them AT ALL, because some of my favorite photos were given to me by that crowd, and I treasure them greatly), it’s our responsibility to keep the show photographers in business. They are a dying breed, and I for one will be extremely sad if/when the day comes that they can no longer justify staying in business. They work hard, standing there all day in the heat or the rain, taking pictures of everyone and trying hard to capture that perfect moment. Not to mention all the time uploading, sorting, and editing. I might not be able to afford to buy them all, but you can bet I’ll buy whatever I can and I will thank them profusely (perhaps borderline creepily) when I do it. And possibly apologize, if they had to endure photographing a particularly shitty ride on my part.

What do you guys typically do when it comes to show photos? Do you have a friend or spouse to take pictures for you, or do you purchase from the official photographer? If so – all of them, or just a couple? Unless you’re one of those people who doesn’t really care much about the photos or can’t justify the money, in which case you’re killing me with sadness but I get it.

Wednesday’s Wares

Not quite done Christmas shopping? Wait a little too late to order something custom? Did you forget to buy something for yourself too? Stumped on what to get for the person that has EVERYTHING? Maybe we can fix that today.

Image result for santa's workshop gif

First, if you forgot something amidst all those Black Friday sales, or if you’re just not quite done shopping, keep an eye on Riding Warehouse’s 12 days of savings. Every day something is on sale – Ariat, Professional’s Choice, Dublin, etc. And since RW is super fast about packing and shipping (and shipping for orders over $50 is free, or $5 for 2 day!), you can rest assured that whatever you order will get here in time.

But what if, amidst all the holiday chaos, you’ve forgotten to Treat Yo Self? I mean, I personally never forget that part, but theoretically it could happen. If you’re finding yourself in need of a nice new Pretty for the new year, head on over to Lund Saddlery’s latest Kickstarter. Not only are there NEW PRODUCTS up for pre-order (dressage bridles, bridge breastplate, the Eventer series, etc) as well as current favorites (BUY THE CALFSKIN LEATHERS – TRUST ME), but everything is discounted from the regular pricing and shipping is free! Not to mention that your dollars will help fund the development and launch of Lund’s next big project – badass, affordable tack trunks and lockers.


Now, as for that super annoying friend who makes you say “they have literally everything, what the heck can I get them?” – I ask you this… but do they have socks with their horse’s face on them? Odds are, probably not. Do they need socks with their horse’s face on them? Um hellyes who wouldn’t. I got mine from Etsy shop TipsyTz, which is currently on vacation, but there are LOTS of other sellers on Etsy that can make you some custom printed socks (look for dog ones!) for an extremely reasonable price with a quick turnaround.

the single greatest purchase of my life, aside from Henry himself

And last but not least – did you mean to order a custom gift for someone but lost track of time? My friend Nicole, who used to make custom bonnets under the company name of Firefly Bonnets (and broke my damn heart when she quit making them), has a few pre-made bonnets that she is offering for HALF PRICE. That puts them all between $25-60, a total steal for these bonnets which easily rival the quality of DLC. Check out my facebook page for more info on these – they will go fast!

Happy shopping!

The Fuglies. We has ’em.

Remember when Presto was so little and fuzzy and cute? Remember those inspection pictures where he looked like a respectably attractive tiny horse? Cling to those. Cling really really hard to those.

not a donkey

I wish I could claim that I had forgotten just how ugly baby horses can be, but trust me I am still quite aware. Sadie, his dam, was so freaking ugly for so freaking long that I was kind of worried there for a while that I’d accidentally discovered a new species of mule. Her 5yo year was finally the tipping point, when she decided to fill out, and her body finally matched up with her head and legs.

And because she was so ugly for so long, it’s not something I would easily forget. She did end up beautiful, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but wow. I got to be pretty expert at taking advantage of those rare “omg she looks like a real horse” days to get pictures of her before she inevitably looked super awkward again within 24 hours. I think a huge part of it is that she just kept growing, so slowly, and so steadily, for so LONG. My 15.2h, narrow as a fence post 2yo (that I was terrified was going to end up being teeny tiny) ended up a very big, very stocky, very solid 17h hippopotamare. It just took her a good 6-7 years to get there.

2yo Sadie was just… not good.
but she’s beautiful now!

I think Presto is following his mother’s lead in the awkwardness department. At not quite 9 months old the kid is TALL, like he’s for sure going to be close to 15h by the time he’s officially a yearling (geez guys I think he’s going to be every bit as big as Sadie, but I don’t even want to string test him because denial), and he’s all leg. He is lanky and he is rangy and he is hairy and he looks a little bit like a giraffe and a mule made a baby and then covered it with the coat of a yak. I love him dearly, but he has entered that really not-at-all cute stage of baby horse awkwardness, and who knows when he’ll look like a real horse again.

that’s… errr…

I don’t know if his awkwardness is 100% genuine, or if it partly has to do with the fact that his condition still hasn’t totally caught back up to normal from being sick for essentially the first four months of his life. Either way, I still can’t help but be thrilled that we’re here. The weanling/yearling fuglies are a milestone that I was worried he might not ever make it to, so I’m okay with him not being the most attractive animal at the moment. It’ll get better. Hopefully he makes it back around to “pretty” a lot faster than his mother did (please please please omg please), but either way it’ll be a privilege to watch him grow and develop.

The vet wants to wait a bit longer to geld him, so for now the whole gelding and then moving him closer to me thing is on hold. I have 2 barns on the docket to go look at in the near future, but as of yet I just don’t know when he’ll be ready to move down here. It might end up being later next spring or summer. No worries though, he has little QH baby Murphy to play with and terrorize up in Midland. It just means Presto updates and posts will continue to be a bit sparse for a while.

USEA announced last week that there will now be a Central Championship for FEH and YEH, held at Texas Rose, which is only about 4 hours from us. I hold out zero hope for him being attractive enough to show in hand as a yearling (like, god no, who would want high res professional photos to commemorate THAT phase?) but maybe he’ll get a little prettier at 2. If he’s at all presentable I’d like to at least get him out there and support our FEH program, even if he doesn’t qualify for Championships. It’s great to have that option on the table now though, either way.

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And just a few days after USEA’s announcement, EquiZone restocked all of their bridles. Which meant they now had a brown cob in the Ivy bridle. And if it went in with the other order from Black Friday, they would honor the super sale price. Soooo now Presto has a pretty bridle waiting for him if he decides to be attractive enough to show in hand. Stop judging me, it was only $65 with reins. That’s basically free. And if nothing else maybe the pretty, slightly weird-looking bridle will distract the judge from the gira-mule-yak that’s wearing it?

Playing Possum

Guess who is Pro Level at standing in the crossties looking exhausted the whole time I’m grooming and tacking up?

He’s not tired or sad in the slightest, don’t fall for it. I’ve made the mistake of believing him a couple times now and he thinks both occasions were HI-LARIOUSLY fun. The first time was when he talked me out of a serious dressage ride and into a bridleless hack instead. He spent the whole time snatching bites of grass while I kicked him and kicked him and kicked him (to no avail) like a Pony Clubber. If a horse was capable of an evil laugh, he’d have been letting them fly the whole time.

Standard behavior when I go to bridle him “Nooooo maaaa, I is too tiiiiireeeeddd…”

Yesterday he was so committed the the facade that he kept it up all the way until we started trotting. Walking out from the barn to the field took forever, because he Literally Could Not walk faster than a 30 year old lesson horse. But again, don’t let that fool you, because on our second trot circle he squealed and dolphin leaped as we passed by a jump. He just can’t suppress ALL of his Henny, no matter how hard he tries.

This weekend I bathed him… a nice long scrub with the Espana Silk stuff (because the hair on his butt is so long and thick that he was literally hiding a pebble in it) and then a couple of spots with the fungus stuff, and then some conditioner for his tail. I got aaallll up in there, it took forever. It was a warm day, about 80 with a slight breeze, and he had been really quiet all day, so I decided to let him hang out by himself on the super lush grassy patch behind the barn while I put my tack away. We do this a lot. He never wanders farther than the grass patch, because he is a fat ass. Plus he was soooo quiet, right? And we’d just done a long conditioning ride, and no one else was around.

Yeah, I fell for it again.

I was in the barn, wiping down my bridle, when I heard a few suspicious footsteps. I walked out the back of the barn to check on him and he had decided to let himself into the arena, where he was in the process of plopping down for a nice roll. He couldn’t even give me FIVE MINUTES of clean horse. I was too late to stop it, so I just watched as he flopped around back and forth, waving his legs in the air and grunting.

glad I spent half an hour scrubbing that

He finally got up, shook himself off, and then spooked at his lead rope, because clearly it was a snake and OMG would you believe it was following him? This quickly morphed into a fancy, snorty Arab trot for two laps of the arena while I just stood there like

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until finally he pranced into the round pen at the far end and went “well shit, I’m trapped” and waited for me to retrieve his muddy, disgusting, still-snorting self. Eventually I will stop falling for the “But Ma, I’m SOOOO tired!” charade. Maybe.

The good news is that we only have one more 80 degree day before a cold front rolls in, so maybe he won’t be able to fake it so much anymore.

Hopefully the cold front brings some rain with it, because it’s been a lonnnngggg time since we’ve gotten any. The ground is hard and I don’t like it. I popped into Dover on my way to the barn on Saturday to grab some Durasole and Magic Cushion, because a) somehow I’m out of both, b) I’m nothing if not paranoid. While I was in there I fell victim to the sale shelf. Normally it’s pretty easy for me to waltz in and just grab whatever essential item I need Right That Minute, because everything in that place is so massively overpriced. But this time the sale shelf (which I always make a quick stop at, because I am ever the optimist, but rarely ever buy anything from) had an array of goodies waiting for me.


They’ve had this cool “corner” jump cup in there for over a year now. It’s basically just a single jump cup that can hold a pole on each side, so you can use it on a single standard to create a corner. I really wanted it when I first saw it, but it was like $40. It was cool, but not that cool. Every time I’ve been in there it’s been marked down a little bit more and a little bit more, and finally this time it was $9. Okay, fine, you win, Dover. It’s worth $9 to me. They also had a jumbo size bran mash (Tropical flavor) marked down to $7. Henry loves those things, so I couldn’t say no to that either. Or the slightly discounted oily container of Stud Suds.

I’ve been going to town with the Durasole and the Magic Cushion on his feet (come on, rain!) but I’m not sure when Henry will earn the bran mash. Maybe when he stops lying to me about his mental state and then going for an unattended Prance’n’Snort around the arena. Just saying.

If ever a horse was MADE for me…

Can I borrow a bag of money from someone? Like permanently? With no intention of paying it back?

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I was doing my usual mindless facebook perusal on my phone yesterday morning when an ad posted in one of the OTTB groups caught my eye. It was long, but it was pure gold.

I cannot say YES enough. He totally fits me! Where do I sign up for this horse? Quirky, weird, opinionated, a total slob, and kind of annoying? That sounds familiar! He’s a bit robust for a track horse too, kinda like Henry. And then I saw the pedigree.

Ah, yes, double Danzig. That explains a lot. Henry is Danzig too. Plus there’s Roberto x 2, Fappiano x 2, Alydar, Lyphard, Herbager, Blushing Groom, In Reality… it’s been a while since I’ve seen a pedigree that I liked this much for eventing.

And then, to cap it all off, there was this picture included in his ad:

Add levitation to his list of skills!

I’m think I’m madly in love with Stevie.