Spring “Splurges” That Are Actually Cheap

Since I’ve been pouring money into my car and vet stuff lately, not much has been left over for splurge purchases. Which is fine because I honestly have everything. More than everything. Except I still really want that EQ3 MIPS helmet… that’ll have to wait. But I have picked up a few low budget items over the past few months that I thought were good buys, and stumbled across some great spring sales in the past couple weeks. I can’t partake in those, but I can totally enable other people to. It’s my one talent in life.


A few months ago I got this little bonnet from Equine Couture. I am extremely picky when it comes to bonnets, especially about material and fit. We are long past the days when your poor horse has to wear one of those tasseled contraptions with oversized cotton ears and a throatlatch string. Don’t do it. Just don’t. But if you also don’t want to spend $40-50 on something custom, the Equine Couture bonnets could be the perfect solution. They’re well made, with spandex ears and correct proportions, and they’re only TWELVE BUCKS. Henry fits the cob size perfectly. If you don’t like the little brand tag on the poll area, it’s easy to remove with a seam ripper. Pretty solid little bonnet for the price.


I finally lost my 6 year old RoadID medical bracelet when we were at Texas Rose a couple weekends ago. The rubber-bracelet band that it was on had a tendency to get stuck in the sleeve of sweatshirts… it really was only a matter of time until I lost it for real. Honestly though it was past time for a new one anyway… I wear my RoadID 24/7 and you couldn’t really read the information on the RoadID itself anymore because it was so worn. I found a $10 coupon code online and discovered that the new “Elite” model has a limited edition navy band available, and this model is sizable so it’s way less likely to just come off. And there are lots of different options for hardware color, including rose gold. You don’t have to tell me twice. Now I have a nice, new, pretty, readable medical bracelet for show season. AND – I have another $10 coupon code too. Not sure if it’ll work more than one time, but if you need a new RoadID, try: P8FCQCBJW7. If that doesn’t work let me know and I’ll try to find another code for you.

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This one is a little bit pricier, but I have to say, totally worth it. If you want something fun to bring to horse shows, clinics, or happy hours this year, definitely look into Equestrians Against Normalcy. I bought the first Jump Off Deck in December and then when the opportunity came up to test the Extreme Eventer Deck, I was all over it. This game is really hilarious, plus quick and easy to play, which makes it a great way to pass the time with your horse friends. They’re in the process of coming out with lots of specialized decks for different disciplines too (I know I’ve seen a hunter deck, dressage deck, and western deck in the works!). I’d definitely recommend getting one or two of the “base” Jump Off decks plus a specialty deck.

The Ultimate Hoof Pick

NetEquestrian’s liquidation sale FINALLY includes their Ultimate Hoof Picks!!! You have to find some other stuff in the sale to make the shipping costs worth it (there’s tons of cheap stuff, it shouldn’t be that hard), but the hoofpicks are marked down to $3.99 for the Jr and $4.99 for the big one, which is like $10 off. Awesome deal for the best hoof picks on the planet (yes it’s weird how much I love these, no I won’t apologize for it). Or just buy a bunch and keep them stashed everywhere, like I’ve done.

Women's Belt - Bits. Ebony on Teal  - product images

Mango Bay has stuff on sale, too! There’s a limited selection of belts for $10 and shirts as low as $7.50. Also kind of in love with their new foxhunting and OTTB shirts, which aren’t on sale but are super reasonably priced anyway. By the way, Mango Bay is extremely supportive of equine charities and donates a ton of stuff for shows/awards/etc, so they’re a business that you can feel good about giving your money to.

And last but not least, I know I say this a lot, but don’t forget to regularly check out Riding Warehouse’s clearance section. Just from a quick perusal, right now there are 2 different shadbelly’s under $300, Kask helmets on sale, tons of show shirts/breeches/sunshirts, gloves, blankets, fly sheets, fly masks (the Noble Outfitter’s Guardsman is $18!), mud boots, hay bags, leather halters, stirrups, saddle pads, horse boots, etc etc ETC FOREVER. It takes a few minutes to look through everything, but you can always find some gems there, whether you’re trying to get outfitted for show season or if you’re preparing the barn for spring. It’s easy to meet the $50 minimum for free shipping. And don’t forget to use FB10 for an additional 10% off, or USDF10 for $10 off. I just recently stocked up on fly spray for the season and threw in a clearance hay net for $4 and a clearance fly mask for $12. Can’t beat that.

Meanwhile, in Hennytown

Spring has officially arrived in Texas. You know this because all the sudden the air turns to solid pollen and you start getting sunburned if you’re outside for more than 20 minutes. But it also means that the green grass is back, the weather is lovely (until Friday at least, when it’ll be 90 degrees), and the horses are shedding. I’m not sure which I love more, green grass or shedding.

With all of my crazy weekend plans lately, Henry’s schedule has been a little erratic. He’s had a little bit more time off than I’d prefer (I mean, he seems ok with it…) so I’ve amped up his conditioning days a bit. I was a little worried that he might not be very fit in time for Texas Rose in 2 1/2 weeks, but even after a long trot and some longer/faster canter sets last week he was totally cooled down by the time we’d walked back to the barn. Despite his tendency to be chunky, this horse actually gets fit easily and tends to keep it pretty well. He seems plenty primed to gallop around XC like his typical overexcited dolphin self.

He’s also now about halfway through his first round of Adequan, having gotten his 3rd shot yesterday. So far I don’t feel any difference, but then again he just got his SI done a month ago anyway. I’m not sure that I will notice anything, but hopefully it’s at least doing something useful on the inside because that 50ml bottle WAS NOT CHEAP.

You know what else wasn’t cheap? Putting new tires on my truck and getting some general maintenance done.

I was crying on the inside when I swiped my debit card that day, but she’s getting close to 100k and I definitely can’t afford to replace her anytime soon, so it needed to be done. She does pull Henny’s chariot, after all. I feel like I’m literally leaving a trail of money behind me everywhere I go lately though. And I still have to pay my taxes, which I haven’t actually been brave enough to do yet because do I really have to file all those 1099’s? I don’t wanna. I know this is finally gonna be the year that I owe, and I’m not looking forward to it.

suspiciously eyeing the farrier’s schedule on Monday…

Luckily, knock on wood, we’ve had no issues with minor gas colics since we did the round of Omeprazole. That wasn’t cheap either, but necessary apparently. It’s been 3 years since I treated him the first time, and he travels a lot, so it’s no big surprise that he needed to be treated again. I’ve got more tubes lying around for him and Presto for when they travel, but if I could go another 3 years without having to buy it in mass quantities again, that would be great. There’s pretty much just dust left in my wallet at this point.

before pulling a shoe off doing hill repeats on Tuesday. Go ahead, try to tell me he can’t read. 

So hopefully Henry feels fit, lubed up, and ready to go horse show. I wish I could squeeze in a few thousand stadium lessons in the next couple weeks, because that legit might be a shitshow and a half, but it kinda just is what it is at this point. My attention really has been more on Presto lately, and I’ve been preoccupied with the logistics of getting him home and getting everything ready for him. I am admittedly a wee bit distracted. But I can’t wait to see how Henry adapts to the role of baby-horse-sitter and “mentor” for Presto. I think he’ll be good at it. And hopefully not too mad. At least when Presto shows up Henry will be fresh off a cross country run… that typically leaves him in good spirits for the next couple weeks afterward. I think he will need those good spirits for the first week or two of his idiot baby brother.

Weird Pet Peeves Revisited

Alright come on, fess up, what are the things that are driving you extra crazy lately? Let’s call this Twitchy Tuesday and we can all commiserate with each other over the things that are threatening to slowly drive us insane.

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Leaving halters attached to cross ties

If you’re the only person in the barn, then sure… I guess. I mean I still hate it but if you’re alone at least it’s not affecting anyone. But if you’re one of many at a barn, and one of many that uses a set of crossties, please for the love of god, when you bridle your horse, unclip the halter from the crossties and hang it up. If you hang the halter up with a crosstie still attached, I have to resist the urge to chuck your halter in the poop pile every time I unhook it. One of these days I’m going to give in to the urge. And if you leave the halter on the GROUND with the crosstie attached, you’re getting a throatpunch from the safety police before I chuck the halter in the poop pile.

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Bit keepers put on incorrectly

I don’t know why this one is so common but it seems like at least 50% of the time that a horse is wearing a full cheek, the bit keepers are on too low. When they’re too low, they aren’t doing anything, so you may as well take them off and live the daredevil lifestyle. Keeper, at the top, sitting just under the “knob” = things can’t get caught on the cheek of the bit. If you don’t like the angle of the mouthpiece when the keeper is at the top, perhaps a d-ring would be a better choice. I’ve seen what happens when a horse gets a full cheek caught on something, so maybe I’m overly sensitive about it, but trust me when I tell you that it’s not a thing you want to witness. Ever. That incident happened when I was a kid and I still remember every vivid detail (and the lecture that every single person in the entire barn got from my trainer afterward). Thank goodness it wasn’t my horse or I’d have been even more scarred. Know and understand your equipment.


“Friends” constantly trying to sell me shit on my personal social media

Dude. If one more person tries to sell me Rodan & Fields or Lipsense, I’m going to lose it. You want to sell that stuff, great (I’m all about that side hustle), but please post about it once, maaaaaybe twice, and then take it to another account or a group with all the people that were interested. Constantly bombarding your “friends” to try to sell them something is really freaking irritating. To the point where pretty much everyone on my friends list who sells that sort of stuff has been unfollowed. It’s like Avon on crack.

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People who can’t measure jumps

If you post a picture of your horse jumping X height and then claim that it’s Y height, you look dumb. Like… I have eyeballs. I know your standards are not 7′ tall. That middle hole is not 3’6″. If you have 4′ standards and you’re 3 holes from the top, it’s not 4′. Measuring isn’t hard. You can even make your own measuring stick! Everyone should have one of those anyway.

photo from Equestrianathart.com

Black backgrounds with white text

Speaking of eyeballs, maybe I’m showing my age here but am I the only one whose eyeballs physically hurt from trying to read white text on a black background? There are a few blogs I’d like to read but can’t, because my old lady eyes are dying after the first paragraph. White backgrounds are your friend. Be kind to old ladies.

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Updates from Prestoland

First of all, there is a crapton of media in this post. I probably could have broken it up into two, but… happy Monday.

Second of all, Sadie is still over a month away from having her Diarado foal and she already looks like she’s going to explode. Laken’s milk test says that she’s gonna have hers within the next couple days, so BABIES ARE COMING.

Good god, momma mare

Third of all, I haven’t seen Presto since last September, and he’s definitely transitioned from foal to baby horse in that time. He is lanky and long and has way more leg than he knows what to do with at the moment. One of the first things I did was string test him, since he’s almost a year old now and those tests should start being pretty accurate. They were totally accurate with Sadie, anyway, far more so than the general “add two hands to yearling height” method. I never believed her string tests, but lo and behold if she didn’t grow to exactly the height they predicted. So I grabbed some twine and a tape measure and decided to just go ahead and use the two methods that had predicted Sadie’s height so accurately. First, the measurement from the coronary band up to the middle of the knee (idea being that however many inches this is, that’s their final height – so like 16.25″ would be 16.1h, 16.5″ would be 16.2h, 16.75″ would be 16.3h, etc)…

17″ on the dot.

I checked that 3 times to make sure I was definitely going from the right place to the right place, and yeah… it’s definitely 17″.

Then I did the other method, taking his elbow to ergot measurement, doubling it, and adding four. That got us this:

Yep, 17 again. They both agree. I was kinda hoping for more like 16.2h, but I guess Sadie likes to throw her elephant height. I did stick him and he’s only 14.2h, so if you use the “add two hands to yearling height” method, then that’s 16.2h. Granted, Sadie herself was 14h at yearling height and ended up 17h by 6 years old. It seems to be a slow-growing family. I guess time will tell! Either way, he’s definitely on track for 16.2h to 17h.


I banged his little tail, which really was just taking about 1″ of gross yellow ends off to make it sorta even, and then chopped off his mane. Long mane on scrawny yearling neck just is not at all attractive, trust me.

He was also really really really incredibly hairy.

like… no joke.

I’m not sure I’ve seen a coat like that outside of a shetland or mini. It was thick, it was plush, and it was long. He literally had dreadlocks behind his elbows. I couldn’t tell how much of him was hair. I was mostly thinking “Is his head really that blocky or is it hair? I don’t remember it looking like that???”. I really didn’t want to body clip him, but even after an hour of grooming not much hair had come off. And it was 85 degrees. He was hot underneath all that. So we dragged him into the barn and sheared him like a sheep.

This is now the second body clip this horse has gotten in his lifetime. Apparently I should just get used to clipping all the time, because between him and Henry I think it’s going to be constant. Presto didn’t really mind the clipping part at all, but every few minutes he’d start screaming for his friends (being inside the barn alone is terrifying, y’all) and swing himself around. He gave up for a while, and then by the time I was on his legs he started losing his patience a lot more, so he got to keep his little legwarmers from the knee/hock down and his face hair because I don’t need to die over this, thanks.


He was feeling pretty fancy on his way back out, though, and all the mares had to come running over to check out his hair cut. He was more than happy to show it off.

His little QH friend Murphy was pretty fascinated by how we transformed his yak friend into a sleek giraffe.

The Odd Couple
QH baby vs WB baby

We left him alone for the afternoon (he was quite done with me by this point, poor kid) and then got him back out that evening to take some pictures.

his cob size halter sorta fits on the tightest holes!
stopping to let the recip mares get a good look at his hot new bod

He basically went straight to the fenceline to trot back and forth in front of everyone in the paddocks.


he sure can float when he wants to
am I even going to be able to ride this thing?
for real
No, FOR REAL, does Devoucoux have a seat belt option?

Then he realized there was a really fun water puddle and he proceeded to first leap over it a couple times…


And then splash and stomp his way through it.

That’s a baby event horse

Then he had to take a few (screaming) victory laps.




Then we stuck Murphy out with him so they could be idiots together.

This is constant. They’re both covered in bites.

The next morning, of course, a cold front blew through. What was only supposed to be mid to upper sixties turned into mid 50’s with a ridiculous wind, so I dug through the barn to find an old pony blanket. I tossed it on him, let him run a few angry laps of his paddock, and then adjusted everything.

WTF lady, is this pink? I think this is pink.

He was not a fan. At all. I sat up on the fence to watch him for a while and he mostly just stood there and glared at me. Every few minutes he’d reach down and try to pull it off, then Murphy would come up and pull on a strap. That just made Presto stand there looking mad again. Henny’s mare glare ain’t got nothing on Presto’s. I have a feeling he’ll be looking at me like that a lot.


Luckily (I guess?) It’ll be back up in the mid-upper 80’s by Wednesday, so he only has to tolerate the blanket for a couple days.

The tentative plan is that he’ll get gelded this week, and then I’ll come pick him up on my way back from Texas Rose at the end of the month. It’s not really on the way at all, but it just adds like 4 hours of extra journey instead of a whole extra 10-hour round trip, and he’ll have Henry in the trailer for.. um… emotional support?

So really, as long as all goes according to plan, just a few more weeks and he’ll be home! Then I can start torturing him on a daily basis. Poor kid.

And away she goes!

My first recognized show entry of the season went in the mail this morning, which means it’s officially that time again: show season! Well, ok, there have already been shows going on all winter, because Texas, but it’s the first recognized show of the season. Well, ok, that’s not true either, because the first recognized show of the season is next weekend and I can’t go because one of SO’s friends is getting married. People. Stop getting married.

So that means our first recognized of the season will be Texas Rose at the end of the month. Since I just sent off my TR entry this morning, I kinda cut it close there considering closing date is Tuesday. Typically I don’t wait that late, I know that’s annoying to organizers. I just couldn’t really commit until after our XC schooling. TR is a big ask for the first show, so I wanted to see how he felt. Beast mode seems fully engaged, so off the entry goes.

beast mode

The next entry to go in the mail will be Holly Hill. I was majorly waffling on this one, because Trainer isn’t going and neither is basically anyone else I know. It’s also in Louisiana, which is a far haul with my trailer. But dammit, Holly Hill is my favorite venue and I didn’t get to go to either of their shows last year due to various conflicts. I’ve been dying to run their Training course since I first laid eyes on it two years ago, so I’m going this time even if it means I’m going alone. I don’t get to do that many recognized shows, so I’m gonna do the ones I want come hell or high water (please no high water, my horse is not a mudder).

After that I have no idea what our season will look like. Ideally I’d like to go up to Willow Draw for their One Day, since we haven’t shown there before, but with Presto coming home and me wanting to take him to a couple Future Event Horse shows, there might not be enough room in the budget for a third recognized for Henry this spring. We’ll definitely do the fundraiser derby at Pine Hill in May, and then maaaaaaaaaaybe the schooling HT at MeadowCreek in June if the weather isn’t already 100 degrees. That’s always iffy.

like, really though, it was hot as balls last year

Beyond that I’ve been a little hesitant to try to plan the rest of the year. There may be some major life changes on the docket, and I don’t really know yet what impact that will have. I really wanted to try to do something farther-away (because driving 4-6 hours to events isn’t enough for me I guess?) like Colorado or Kentucky, but I’m seeing that as fairly unlikely as of right now.

I’m guessing that most of our miles will come from smaller shows, closer to home. I’d like to do more Prelim CT’s, and some jumper shows. We need to work on all that. I’d really love to try our hand at a Prelim derby, if one presents itself as being workable. The green number stuff doesn’t look that terrifying anymore. Which is a weird observation in and of itself, coming from me.

Green numbers, not that scary.

Overall I think we’ll adopt last years planning method of “wherever the road may take us” and just see what happens past June. That was liberating.

Anybody else got their show season mapped out (or… mapped out-ish) yet?

Henny and the Nets

If you didn’t read the title to the tune of Bennie and the Jets I’m gonna need you to go back and start over. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

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So anyway, now that everyone will have that song stuck in their heads for the rest of the day, let us continue.

Four years ago, when I first got Henry. he inherited a lot of things from his “sister” Sadie. One of those things was her slow feed hay net.

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Sadie was a total garbage disposal, plus she liked to pee in her hay, so she ate out of the slow feed net pretty much every day. It basically just slowed her rate of consumption to that of a normal horse, and made for less waste. When I got Henry he seemed much more normal (HA), and he was at a different barn that had way too many horses for the worker to be stopping to fill a hay net unless there was a really good reason. So Sadie’s everyday slow feed hay net got relegated to being Henry’s trailer/show hay net… basically the only times a hay net was needed for him.

The only problem is that, well, Henry is not the brightest crayon in the box. He’s also extremely impatient. Add those two things together and he just literally could not with that hay net. He couldn’t figure out how to eat from it, and the fact that he could only get a few bits of hay at a time seemed to infuriate him more than anything else. Eventually he’d just quit trying and go stand in the corner and sulk. When a horse won’t eat out of the hay net, it makes said hay net kind of moot.

So I went and got him just a regular hay net, with larger openings.

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This seemed to do the trick, at least as far as a) holding hay b) the horse being capable of eating out of it. He did tend to drop a lot of hay in the floor of my trailer though, so I briefly experimented with a hay bag, thinking that one opening might control that a little better.

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For a horse that was so incredibly dumb about the slow feed net, it took him all of 5 seconds to figure out how to wiggle his nose into the top of the bag and not come up for air again until all the hay was gone. Like for real he had chunks of hay in his nose. This is undesirable for obvious reasons.

Back to the regular net we went.

That one has served us well for the past few years, but last week when I was getting the trailer ready for our drive to Texas Rose, I noticed that the net was… moldy. I think it must have gotten wet at some point and then sat in the trailer getting nice and toasty. My bad. I was going to take it home and wash it thoroughly but the more I looked at it, the more disgusting it was. AND I have a horse that is super sensitive to mold. AND I was kind of in the eleventh hour, I didn’t really have time to wash it and get it totally dry before we had to go. As much as I hate Dover, they’re the only gig in town and I needed it RIGHT NOW, so down I schlepped to see what they had. Really I wanted one like this one, but their selection is always a little hit or miss.

Yeah no. What they had was a buttload of slow feed nets, in about 10 different varieties. After standing there staring at them grumpily for a few minutes, I just picked the sturdiest-looking one with the biggest openings (that wasn’t a hideous plaid) , hoping Henry could figure it out.

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I also unwittingly stumbled into a big seasonal sale, which caused me to temporarily lose sanity and somehow that trip into the store for a hay net turned into a hay bag, show shirt, horse treats, belt, ornament, and U7 paste. Sigh.

Anyway, I was out of time so I tossed the hay in the bag, tossed the horse in the trailer, and hoped he’d figure it out on the way.

Yeah no, we got about 2 hours in before I could see him pawing and smashing his head against the bag. I needed gas anyway so I turned into the next gas station and started pulling chunks of hay partway through all the gaps in the webbing, hoping it would get him started. That did help, but this horse is not winning any awards anytime soon for his brains. In a 4 hour trailer ride he managed to eat maybe half a flake of hay. And he was pissed.

When we got there I decided to leave the hay in the bag and hang it up in his stall, hoping that if it was his only option overnight he would have no choice but to figure the stupid thing out. When I came back a couple hours later to check on him, he had indeed made a lot of progress.


Granted, every few minutes he would pin his ears and try to smash the shit out of the bag in frustration, but he was still eating out of it. No retreating to the corner to sulk, like he did with the slow feed net.

By morning he’d eaten almost all the hay that was in there, and on the trailer ride home he spent pretty much the whole ride sneaking little bites out of it. It wasn’t a consistent or coordinated effort, but no more getting mad and pawing, at least. I’m hesitant to say for sure that he’s definitely figured it out, but at least there was progress. I do like the fact that there was almost no hay wasted in the floor of the trailer, and the hay actually lasted through the trip.

Will this hay bag get to stick around for the long haul? That is yet to be seen, but maybe. I need to use it a few more times to see if he keeps figuring it out or if he just gives up.

Poor Henny. Life is hard, but it’s even harder when you’re not that bright.

Preparing for Presto

I finally had a chat with the barn owner the other day where we formally finalized the details of bringing Presto down. Well… ish. I still don’t know exactly when he’s coming, but we narrowed it down to a general time frame, picked out his stall, whiddled his turnout pasture options down to 2, and settled on a price. All the basic stuff.

The yak a few days ago. I’m going to see him this weekend!!!

Of course, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a yearling in my care. 10 years, to be precise. I’ve had to really wrack my brain to figure out what, if anything, I will need for him that I don’t already have.

He doesn’t need tack yet, of course, so it’s really just a halter and lead rope. I’ve got a rope halter sitting aside waiting for him for everyday use, and I’ve got about a million and one lead ropes scattered around various trunks because I’m one of those people that thinks there’s no such thing as too many. All of the thick-cotton-with-bolt-snap variety, naturally, because yeah I’m picky about lead ropes too. I thought about buying him his own new lead rope in whatever color I pick for him but I couldn’t decide. Will he continue the navy theme from Henry? I don’t know. Am I putting waaaay too much thought into a lead rope for a yearling, which will probably end up broken or lost? Omg yes. So for now he uses the spares.

It’s possible that I’m going to make him wear this for his yearling pictures. It was a necessity. 

I do plan on ponying him from Henry, though, and for that I really want him to wear boots. I’m pretty certain that all of Henry’s will be too big for him right now so I figured I’d just grab him some cheap used cob-size brushing boots and calling it a day. I still haven’t come across just the right set, though. For now he is bootless.

I did pick up a used surcingle, because I’ll need that eventually. Side reins can come later. All of that stuff is a couple years away still.

He already has his own brushes, plus Henry has about a billion.

I mean, really… what else does a baby horse need?

Oh, I did go ahead and get his Future Event Horse outfits together. I bought the halter and bridle last fall during Black Friday sales – a black Kavalkade Ivy halter and brown Kavalkade Ivy bridle. Naturally I had to buy leather lead shanks to go with these because we are not showing up at FEH with a non-leather shank… if he’s going to look like a mule he’s at least going to be a well-dressed mule, dammit. I had an amazon gift card to spend anyway, so I picked up a black and chrome plain leather shank (I already have a chrome chain if he needs one) to match the halter and a brown newmarket shank to match the bridle. All of these things are currently sitting in the guest bedroom, looking adorable.

The only part I’m still really hung up on and completely indecisive about is what to feed him. I spent a while waffling back and forth between a ration balancer plus alfalfa pellets vs a commercial feed, but I think commercial feed makes more sense for our situation. I think he’ll need the calories, and at a big boarding barn it’s just a lot easier if there is a) one feed, b) it doesn’t require soaking. So now I’m debating between Triple Crown Growth and Bluebonnet Intensify Growth and Development. I’ve even started a spreadsheet to compare them. Who am I, Olivia???


Right now he’s also on Stride Transform, a supplement that I love and would like to keep him on but holy god it is expensive. There’s just no way I can justify another $100 a month for a supplement on top of everything else. So I need to see what all the feed will cover, and if I need to try to find another supplement that can fill in for the Transform. Or not, if he doesn’t need it. Currently driving myself completely crazy over this, trying to figure out the best choices that also aren’t stupid expensive. I just… I know he got a bad start in life and I know he’s still probably not quite 100% up to where a normal yearling would be, so I’m finding it to be of crucial importance that I get his nutrition right. I am absolutely going to analyze this part of things six ways to Sunday.

As far as stuff goes, I think he’s almost set. Unless I’m forgetting something? The food part, I’m still nerding out about and probably will be for a while.

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

You know when you’re like “I should probably stop doing this, it seems excessive.”? And then 5 seconds later you’re like NEEEHHHH it’s fine and keep doing it anyway? That’s me. About a lot of things right now.

Like… clothes shopping for Henry, for example. I KNOW, I was just talking last month about how this horse has way more clothes than any Texas horse should probably ever have. But in my defense, I did sell a blanket and a quarter sheet. And then bought a scrim. Because someone posted it late at night (which to me is like 9:30) on facebook and it’s my colors and technically I don’t have a scrim and also it’s new but half the price of retail so LEAVE ME ALONE.

I make no apologies for this, nor will I stop doing it. Maaaaay have also picked up another pair of BOT quick wraps for $40 on another late night facebook perusal too. Henry’s got a banging wardrobe.

On a similar note, it’s possible that this horse has 5 different kinds of treats in my tack trunk right now. Mostly because he’s a unicorn and saves my butt all the time, and our agreement is 100 cookies per butt save, which means I’m constantly in debt. Also because when treats are on sale I will always buy them. Hence how I ended up with 5 different kinds of treats.

Three of the five

I don’t see this as a problem. Neither does Henry.

Anyone who follows me on Insta is probably tired of seeing approximately 9 million cat photos or videos per day. She is definitely the star of my Instagram stories. I can’t help it, she’s freaking cute and does the dumbest, most adorable things.


I have no plans to change the level of cat content on my social media, nor will I apologize for it.

I also can’t seem to stop watching clipmyhorse.tv at extremely ridiculous hours on the weekends. They have so many live streams from Europe, everything from horse shows to stallion shows. If real tv was like that, I’d watch it all the time.

I mean who wouldn’t want to turn on their tv and swoon over Diacontinus at 5am on a Sunday? I originally signed up for the free one month trial of clipmyhorse.tv so I could have uninterrupted Saint Lo access, but honestly I think I might just keep it. 15 Euro a month seems reasonable for this level of entertainment when you’re as big a nerd as I am.

Remember those elastic surcingle belts that I made for myself when it was raining and I was bored? A few other people asked me to make one for them so I hopped online and ordered a few different elastics. Because options, ya know? Or… at least I thought I ordered a few different elastics.

When everything showed up last week, what I remembered as a few was apparently a dozen. And I also got both brass and sterling hardware, which… I don’t even remember ordering, but I did. Clearly I went out-of-body there for a minute and lost all impulse control. Guess I will be making a lot of belts.

When it all starts to come together

Having had nothing but green horse after green horse after green horse for, basically, ever, I am really enjoying this phase that Henry’s in. He’s 11 now, which sounds so mature, and he’s now entering his 4th year of eventing. He’s starting to actually feel like a horse that knows how all this stuff works. It’s a bit foreign to me to have a horse like this, but it’s also quite nice.

Very mature. Much smart. I won’t tell everyone how long it took him to figure out his slow feed hay net and how many tantrums were involved.

We went to Texas Rose this past weekend to school XC one more time before season starts. I arrived on Friday night, got Henry settled into his stall, set up my tent, and we both went to bed.  Northeast Texas had record amounts of rain up there (I say “up there” because it’s literally 4 hours north of me) in February, but somehow the footing was pretty fantastic. The weather was perfect on Saturday too: sunny and highs in the 60’s. Couldn’t ask for much more than that.

Our group headed out around 8:45 and Henry immediately knew what was up. He’s been to Texas Rose 3 times before, so I think he’s figured out where everything is at the facility. As soon as we turned toward the road to the XC course, his walk doubled in speed and pep and soon we left the rest of the group behind. He was LIT, and super excited to be out.


Despite showing at TR a few times (once at BN, once at N, once at T) we’ve never actually schooled there before. The course has such a wide variety of fences though – two waters, several ditch questions, good use of terrain, etc. It’s a nice mix, so it’s great for schooling. We started warming up, which was mostly me convincing Henry that yes, we did indeed have to TROT before he could canter. If you’re into trantering, we’re pro-level. He wasn’t spooky or stupid, just really really really pumped to be there. It was a good feeling. Like a horse who knew what was coming and couldn’t wait to get down to business.

We hopped over some warmup fences to start and he just felt fantastic pretty much right from the beginning. He was focused, he was forward, he was balanced, and everything came up easily. Then we headed over to one of the waters, jumping some Training and Prelim fences. Again he was super on the first trip through, so we opted to save his legs and let everyone else school it more. That first water was definitely deeper than normal because of all the rain… we got soaked.


Then we strung together a few little fences (N and T) out in the open to make sure we still had a good functioning half-halt. I think he was slightly offended to be jumping those, but he obliged. After that it was over to the trakehners, where I tried to kill us both at the Prelim one by running him at nothing, and he proved his ability (yet again) to epically save my ass. We jumped the T one a few times to re-establish the fact that sometimes I can manage to NOT ride like an idiot. Good pony.

Then it was over to the other water, where we jumped the T hanging log in, looped around to the P log in, and then looped around again to the skinny in the water (which didn’t get captured on video, sadly, but you can see the jump – the little red house looking thing). It was Henry’s first time ever jumping a fence in the water, much less having said fence be an decently-sized unflagged skinny, so I think he was a little surprised by it, but he locked on anyway and jumped it no problem. Always game.


Then we played at the Weldon’s walls (they built new ones with much smaller ditches in front but a steeply sloped downhill landing, so it’s fun to ride) which were no problem, then went over and did a line of fences that included a steep downhill gallop then steep uphill to a skinny. That also rode really well. I really like how the new course designer has used the terrain.

I wanted to make sure Henry still remembered how to drop down into water, so we capped off the schooling by going back over to the first water and hopping down the bank. Again, no problem. Really the only bad jump we had all day was the time I rode like a moron to the Prelim trakehner – totally my fault, not his at all. Henry didn’t put a foot wrong all day. He felt fantastic. He felt super confident. He felt… educated. Things are clicking, and it’s fun to feel his progression these days.

EQ3 helmets and MIPS Technology

Unless you live under a social media rock, you’ve probably heard something in the last few weeks about the new MIPS technology Trauma Void™ EQ3™ helmets that Back on Track® has started distributing. It should be of no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that I was all over this thing like white on rice. Safety technology as it relates to horse sports? Right up my nerd alley. MIPS technology isn’t totally new to me, being a cyclist as well, but I wasn’t as familiar with all of the specifics as I wanted to be, as a consumer. So first I had to learn more about what exactly MIPS technology IS, and what it isn’t. This video is relating to cycling helmets, but I think it does an excellent job at explaining what MIPS is and how it works:

First thing to note: MIPS has nothing to do with standard impact protection – ie what all that padding in the helmet does. Your regular impact protection comes from that good ol’ EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam layer that is in all helmets. The EQ3 helmet still has that, just like any other helmet. What the EQ3 helmet also has, that no other equestrian helmets currently available in the US have, is a MIPS layer, which is designed to reduce the rotational forces caused by angled impacts. Traditional helmet testing mainly uses straight-force impacts, but as anyone who has fallen off enough times knows, the majority of our actual blows to the head come from angled impacts.

dunno about y’all but I’ve never fallen off like the dummy on the left

Okay, so what’s the difference in these impacts as far as how they relate to head injuries? Mainly something that MIPS calls “brain strain” (this is where it’s important to note that MIPS technology was developed by scientists – including a brain surgeon and a dude with a PhD on head and neck injury biomechanics). In their words:

From an engineering perspective, rotational motion is a combination of rotational energy (angular velocity) and rotational forces (angular acceleration) that both affect the brain and increase the risk for minor and severe brain injuries. The reason that the brain is more sensitive to rotational motion is that the brain is very much like water or a gel when it comes to its shear properties. The brain, like water, is also incompressible. Therefore, a linear motion will not affect the brain as much as a rotational motion.


Common injuries that are proven to be linked to the rotational forces caused by angled impacts? Things that probably sound familiar to equestrians, such as subdural hematoma and concussion. The MIPS layer has been designed to reduce these rotational forces, thus, hopefully, reducing the subsequent injuries.

MIPS is basically just a thin layer that is between the EPS and the helmet liner itself that allows the helmet to rotate a few millimeters in any direction around the head in the case of an angled impact. This decreases the rotational forces on the brain itself.

giphy (25)
side impact
giphy (26)
angled front impact

MIPS technology has also been used in cycling helmets, motorcycle helmets, and snow helmets. Originally it was introduced into equestrian helmets in Sweden, via the EQ line, where they have been in use for the past few years. This is the first time that this helmet technology has been available in equestrian helmets here in the US.

By this point you’re probably either buying into the technology or you’re not. If you want to read more about it, there’s plenty of info here. Or just… Google in general. It’s all over the internet. The studies conducted by MIPS have shown that it does actually help decrease these rotational forces. On that same point, you also have to understand that our current testing standards for equestrian helmets (for SEI/ASTM, for example) do not test for things like this. I’ve talked about it here before, but there is a ton of room for improvement in our helmet and safety vest testing methods. For real, look into it, you might be shocked. Alas… that’s a different topic entirely.

I personally am extremely interested in the MIPS technology, and really eyeballing these helmets hard. My “schooling” GPA is nearing the end of it’s lifespan, which means I will soon need to be looking for a replacement. Of course, even scouring everything that I could find about the helmets online left me with a lot of questions. I sent an email to Back on Track, who referred me to the design company, Trauma Void. I was able to get a phone call scheduled with Maria, who was infinitely helpful (and patient) as I spent half an hour asking her questions. So, here are some of the things I learned.

photo used with permission from Trauma Void

One of the first things I wondered, when I understood how MIPS technology worked, was whether or not the helmet would “jiggle” during regular riding. Maria said that she had wondered the same thing as well, but that she and the rest of their staff have been wearing the helmets and no one has noticed any movement, nor have they had any customers comment on it.

What about weight? Does that MIPS layer make the helmet weigh more than most helmets? The MIPS website says that the layer is very thin and weighs between 25-45 grams (so 0.0551156 to 0.099208 pounds). Not significant. Maria went a step farther and weighed an EQ3 helmet in each size for me so I could compare it to something more “known” to us on the market. The EQ3 helmet weighed in at 1.25-1.5lbs, from smallest size to largest size. I weighed all the helmets I could get my hands on (for science!), all in sizes 7 1/8 to 7 1/4, and they came in like this: GPA Speed Air weighs 1lb, Charles Owen JR8 weighs 1.2, Samshield ShadowMatte weighs 1.2, and Charles Owen 4 Star weighs 1.4.  So based on that, there is little to no difference between a “regular” helmet and the EQ3. It may even weigh a bit less than a skull cap. 

a view of the MIPS layer, which is under the padded inner liner

Because the helmet is being distributed by Back on Track, a lot of people seem to think that some kind of BOT material or product is incorporated here. Don’t worry, head-sweaters, that’s not the case. The liners are made of a Coolmax® material and are machine washable on the delicate cycle. There will also be replacement liners available for sale separately.

Another interesting feature of the EQ3 helmet is a brim that is more flexible than your standard brim, to allow it to bend and flex as needed upon impact, making it less likely that the helmet will shift out of place on your head or cause an irregular impact pattern. On the “smooth” style helmet this brim is covered in a PU (leather like) material, and on the microfiber helmet it is covered in microfiber.

And then of course, the thing we all want to know: how does it fit? Trauma Void says that the helmet tends to fit a bit more on the round side, but they were quick to point out a couple things. First, the helmet comes with two liners, a thicker one and a thinner one. These liners are fairly moldable, and between the two options they have been able to get the helmets to fit properly on most of the people that have tried them. They also offer a 14 day return policy if the helmet does not fit, or if you need to exchange for another size. Currently they are only available up to size 7 1/2, but they might be open to expanding the size range later on if there is enough demand (so those of you who need a larger size and want one of these helmets – EMAIL THEM and let them know!).

The helmets have four vents, two in the front and two in the back. Reports that I’m seeing so far from early users are that the ventilation feels similar to a OneK. Of the two different styles, the smooth comes in navy and black and the microfiber comes in navy, black, and brown. The Microfiber has a slightly glittery piping (black on the black helmet, a slightly lighter shade of blue on the navy helmet, and a golden color on the brown helmet), for those who are looking for something with a little more pizzazz.

photo used with permission from Trauma Void

At $249 the price seems pretty reasonable to me, all things considered. They also offer reduced pricing on replacement helmets in the event of a fall. You have to register the helmet online within 30 days of purchase, after which point you’re eligible for 50% off a replacement helmet in the first year, or 25% off in the second year.

Whether or not you like the helmet, they are definitely interesting. If nothing else, it’s a fun new technology to geek out over and have discussions about. Within the cycling community I’ve heard a lot of good things about the MIPS technology so far, and I definitely look forward to seeing how it applies to horse sports.

What do you guys think? Anyone bought one yet?

Also Maria gave me carte blanche to email her with any other questions, so if you have any feel free to hammer away and I’ll try to get them answered for you!