Of all the things that equestrians are kind of “renowned” for, the one I’ve always been most guilty of is the messy car. On any given day there may or may not be a passenger seat available (usually not), and you may as well forget about the backseat entirely. If anyone ever peers into my windows they would probably assume that I’m homeless (and/or a serial killer), given that it usually contains a tent, a sleeping bag, a full set of linens/blanket/2 pillows, chairs, toilet paper, a wide variety of clothing, and a really weird assortment of tarps, tapes, rope, knives, scissors, and tack.
I’ve always felt relatively unapologetic about this. Like… I know that I technically should be embarrassed by it, but I’m not. My vehicles are always a mess, much like me and my life. Kinda makes sense. Part of the package.
Plus it seems like every time I clean my truck out, I can’t find a damn thing. Or the one thing I needed, I took out. Like last time I went to a show, thinking I had my BOT dressage pad, but then I remembered that I took it out and stored it in the guest bedroom because I’m “supposed to”. I ended up having to go buy a new white pad at the show. So, ya know, being a walking disaster/hoarder sometimes has it’s benefits. I surrendered to my messiness a long time ago.
The only thing that’s changed about having a truck is that I now have another area to store crap… the kind of crap that I would never want to put inside of a car. The only problem is that the truck bed is kind of a black hole in my life, and I tend to completely forget it exists until I’m trying to set up my trunk tent. Then I’m like “geez, wtf is all this crap back here”? Because that’s typical.
Like those winter blankets that have been back there for a month. I should PROBABLY take those out and wash them. This post has actually prompted me to set a reminder on my phone for tonight so that I remember to go out and get them.
The rest of that crap is the spare tire for my trailer (which I usually keep IN the trailer when I’m not hauling, but forgot to put back in like 3 trips ago) and rubber mats. Don’t even ask. At least I took all of the broken jump standards and metal dressage letters out, finally, after like 6 months of toting them around. I’m telling you, I forget the bed of the truck is a thing that exists. Kinda like how I forget that the backseat isn’t technically supposed to be the backcloset.
I know I should be, but… I’m not sorry. And don’t even ask me to go through my purse right now. You think the truck is bad.
One of the most fun things about getting to witness Sadie’s broodmare career is being able to compare and contrast all of her foals. It’s hard to get an idea of what a mare really produces until she has several foals on the ground, so by the time the third one comes along, you finally start to see a real pattern.
Some mares consistently throw certain traits, like specific parts of their conformation or movement. Some mares, like Michelle’s other mare Laken, seem to just throw carbon copies of themselves no matter what stallion they’re bred to. And then some mares, like Sadie, seem to throw foals that look a whole lot like their sires, no matter how different they are.
I thought that her first foal Merlin, by Mezcalero, looked the most like her, but then again Sadie and Mezcalero had a lot of similar traits. They’re both big stout horses with relatively similar conformation. Over time, Merlin started looking more and more like Mezcalero, just with Sadie’s trademark giant floppy ears (one thing that she does seem intent on passing on). Presto, of course, looks a whole heck of lot like his sire, Mighty Magic. I see bits and pieces of Sadie in him, too, but overall his phenotype is much more similar to that of Mighty Magic.
And then this year’s colt, Manny (formerly known as Maddy) looks like a little carbon copy of his sire Diarado. The little pony-esque head, cresty neck, and more short-coupled frame… he’s about the polar opposite of long, rangy, TB-looking Presto. It’s kind of amazing that they came out of the same mare.
I’m ready to say, after foal #3 by 3 pretty different stallions, that Sadie is the type of mare who really allows the sire to shine through in her foals. As far as looks go, she lets the sire “stamp” them.
What she’s definitely given to all of them, though, is temperament. They’ve all been very people-oriented, friendly, bold, laid-back, and smart – right from birth. They aren’t the kind of foals that spook at anything, hide behind their mothers, or give people the hairy people. They’re lap ponies, pretty sure of themselves and plenty curious about what you’re doing. Really, they’re born amateur horses.
I hope that whoever the lucky person is that buys Manny will keep in touch as he grows up, so we can keep making these kinds of observations over time. It will be really interesting to see how they compare once they’re under saddle and in work. Will they take more after their sires under saddle, or will Sadie’s temperament have more influence over that side of things? Time will tell.
And yes, Sadie was bred back to Diarado so Michelle can try to get an actual filly this time. Sadie seems pretty hell bent on making colts, though, so we’ll see. Pregnancy check next week!
Yeah I know, I’ve been back from Tennessee for like 12 hours. This is unrelated, I swear. I was texting Trainer last night, asking about maybe doing a CT at a local show here in July, and she said “I’ll be at Chatt that weekend.”. First reaction:
Then, within all of 60 seconds…
I asked if she had room for one more in her trailer (because I’m definitely not hauling mine that far), and she said yes. So then I checked my calendar, and those two weeks/weekends are actually still free. I went and looked at entry fees and stabling fees and all that. Between all the side gigs I’ve been picking up lately, I can actually swing it.
An idea was born.
To be honest, I’ve spent the last couple months kind of pining over the Coconino experience of summer 2016. That was the most fun I’ve ever had at horse shows, and it was really fun to just get away and totally immerse myself in showing. Going somewhere totally new, somewhere we’ve never been, showing 2 weeks back to back… I learned a lot, and it was so confidence-building and refreshing for both of us. Sometimes I just don’t get very excited about showing around here, because I don’t love going to the same venues over and over. Been there, seen that. Need new stimuli.
I checked out some of the past courses online, at My Course Walk and watching youtube helmet cam videos. It looks very fair, but not overly easy. Everyone that I asked had rave reviews about the footing and the stabling. The fees are a little on the more expensive side for an event, but nothing crazy.
My only real concern is the weather. I know it won’t be as hot there as it is here, but it will probably be more humid. Really, I’m betting that our mid-June show here is hotter than these two shows would be at Chatt. And if it’s too hot or he seems to be struggling with the heat, I can always just slow down and take the time faults. XC speeds are only listed at 450mpm though, which is generally right at his comfortable cruising speed.
The thought of having 2 weeks of showing in a totally new-to-us venue is the real draw. We rarely get that opportunity in eventing, to have another show right after the lessons of the first one are still very fresh and ready to be built upon. And, well, I’m rarely in the right place at the right time financially to afford to up and run off to another state for 2 weeks. So if everything falls into place with this, it’s hard to say no.
I’m checking PTO days at work today to make sure no one else has already taken those days off, but that’s really the last hurdle to clear. If we’re all good there, then… I can’t think of a reason NOT to go. Just the thought of it puts a lot of wind back into my sails, honestly. My enthusiasm has waned a bit lately, especially now with summer setting in.
Do you guys ever take a couple weeks to go show somewhere new? Should we go for it? Anyone been to Chatt?
After a long week/weekend in Tennessee, today Quinn and I are on the long road home.
Side note: he tried to leave with that kid when she bought some treats, because he has zero loyalty to his human, only loyalty to food. Snaks 5th Avenchew should hire him though, because every time someone so much as looked at the treats he was on his feet, ready to make a sale.
Brownland was a gorgeous show, and the whole area is really stunning. The vast landscape of green rolling hills, some wooded, some cleared for beautiful farms, is very very different from Texas. To be honest, it’s kind of sad to get in the car and leave. I have always much preferred this general area of the country to the one I’ve actually spent most of my life in.
The weather is way better too, despite the humidity. It’s not 100 degrees, with a sun so strong that it feels as though your skin is literally melting. Ah, Texas. So lovely. I’ll take Sticky over Oven any day.
But I am REALLY eager to get home to my boys. I miss Henry and Presto a lot, probably more than is normal considering it’s only been a week. Clearly I really do enjoy seeing and working with them every day. I guess sometimes it’s nice to take a step back so you can see that it isn’t just the routine that keeps you in the barn everyday, it’s the genuine love for the horses and what we’re doing.
I floated some cash at the main barn worker, asking him to hose them off and fly spray them and pick their feet, so hopefully they were still happy and well looked after while I was away. It’s about that time of year when Henry starts to broil, and the weather is definitely going to get worse before it gets better.
But even though I’m driving home to a place that feels like actual hell, I’m still ready to be there, and get back into the regular routine with the boys. A mere 12 hour drive is the only thing standing in the way.
I hope everyone else has a good Memorial Day… back to more typical blog content tomorrow! So long, Tennessee!
If you follow me on Instagram, some of you may have noticed that Quinn and I are in Tennessee this week at the Brownland horse show. No, not showing (hahaha funny)… I used a few of my abundant vacation days to come up here and fill in at the Luxe EQ trailer. Because you know you’re horse poor when you use the vacation days from one job to go work another. I’m not complaining, it works out well for me and my ever-withering bank account.
I picked up my rental car (because no one wants to drive a 16mpg truck all the way from TX to TN) on Tuesday after work, loading everything up, and my copilot and I were off. We made it to Texarkana by bedtime, then got up and drove the remaining 7 hours on Wednesday, putting us here shortly after lunch.
I’ve been to Tennessee a lot, but not this particular area. Brownland Farm is gorgeous and so is the entire area. Everything is so green and hilly. It is NOT Texas. I could definitely live here.
We got everything all set up and opened yesterday morning, so if you’re in the area, stop by and say hi. I already got to see and have dinner with friend and fellow blogger Hillary!
I don’t take pics of people as a general life rule so you’ll have to trust that Hillary is real, but can we talk about this Rose Gold set? Black and rose gold Duftler belt, black and rose gold Miss Shield. Someone please buy this so I can be cool vicariously.
I’ve also got a bunch of Motionlite jackets, approximately 9000 Cavalleria Toscana shirts, sunshirts, hats, and lots of lightweight breeches, which is good considering that it’s almost Texas-level hot and humid. (And yes, if you see anything you like in pics, I can ship it. Just saying…)
We’re here through Sunday, then Quinn and I will be back on the road and headed home. Pretty sure that if I had my horses I could just stay here forever. And the other dogs. And the cat. And I guess maybe the SO.
Don’t forget that Riding Warehouse is also having their 20% off Memorial Day sale this weekend! Time to stock up on fly spray, salt blocks, and dewormer…
Do you ever see a horse that looks so much like your own that you have to stop and do a double take? A few months ago one of my Instagram followers messaged me to say how much Presto reminded her of one of Allison Springer’s horses, Business Ben. And, um, yeah Kate you are 110% right. It’s almost freaky!
The markings, the color, the face shape, the build… he’s really really similar looking to Presto. And yes that photo is from Allison’s Facebook page because I’ve turned into a legit stalker with this horse now. Not sorry.
Ben is an 8yo full Thoroughbred that came up through and had some success at the YEH program. He had the 4th highest jumping score in the country at Championships as a 4yo and is now competing at the 2* level. I would be 0% upset if Presto decided to take after Ben not only in looks but also in talent and aptitude.
Henry also has an upper level eventer doppelgänger of his own, except – and this should come as no surprise – his is a mare.
The first time I ever really got a good look at Daniela Moguel’s 4* mare Cecilia was at her Rolex debut. Watching her go around XC was like watching a (much more talented) copy of Henry. Her slightly downhill build, her overall demeanor, and especially her facial expressions… dead ringer for Henry.
She too has the happiest XC face in all the land.
And she too is really fed up with all the rest of your bullshit.
Her resting mare face is almost as good as Henry’s.
It’s too cute. She’s Henry’s long lost twin, and yet somehow despite the fact that they’re both TB, they really don’t share any common bloodlines in the first several generations. And yes, of course I stalk and root for Cecilia as well. How could I not, with a face like that?
As promised on Monday, I wanted to circle back and discuss “The Tree of Knowledge” that Presto spent many hours tied to last weekend.
The practice of tying horses out alone is an old one. The cowboy set in particular has been doing this for a long time. Sometimes they use a telephone pole set into the ground, sometimes it’s a special metal pole high tie, sometimes you’ll see someone sling the rope over the rafter of an indoor, and sometimes, if you’ve got a good tree, you can use that too.
The important part is that the horse is tied to a point that is high – above it’s head. This way they can move around however they want and not become entangled, but they also can’t get any leverage to really hurt themselves if they go to pull back. A horse that’s tied at body level can break just about any tie apparatus and do a lot of damage to it’s neck/back, just because the force it can exert at that angle is tremendous. A horse that’s tied to something well above it’s head can’t get much leverage at all.
The point of it is not to torture the horse by leaving it tied for hours, it’s to teach the horse a) to tie reliably, b) patience, c) how to self-soothe.
To me it’s extremely important that any of my horses be able to tie reliably, and be able to be left unattended for at least brief periods of time. This is a skill that, for my lifestyle, is absolutely vital. A horse that can’t do this will eventually get himself or his human into trouble one day, and likely hurt himself in the process. Teaching a horse to tie reliably, from a young age, is doing that horse a real service for the rest of his life, IMO.
It’s also extremely important that a horse learns that once he’s tied, he may as well just stand there and chill. As soon as they’re tied they should put it in park, take a breath, and wait for something else to happen, whenever that may be. Not on their schedule, but on mine. No pawing, no dancing back and forth, no pulling back when they decide they’re done waiting. And more importantly, no worrying about what else might be going on around them. Rudeness and tantrums get you nowhere.
They also learn that no matter what happens or how they act, no one is going to come get them. They might be stressed out about it at first, but over time they figure out that their shenanigans don’t work, so they may as well just relax. That’s self-soothing. They’re not getting their relief from another horse, or from a human… they’re using their own brains to realize that they’re okay by themselves. That’s a skill that goes a long way in getting a horse to be more confident in all aspects of it’s life.
I was first introduced to this concept when Sadie went off to the cowboy for breaking. She was NOT reliable about standing tied, and had learned that she could sit back and break just about anything. It really stemmed from the fact that she was just unsure of herself in general and lacked confidence, especially when she was alone. When she got to the breaker she spent many hours tied to his patience tree, especially those first couple weeks. She pawed, she paced, she had temper tantrums, she attacked the tree, she tried to pull back, she tried to lay down, and made a general menace of herself. And you know what happened?
No matter what she did, she was still standing there at that tree by herself. It didn’t take long before he could take her out to the tree and she would just stand there quietly in the shade until he came back, content to take a nap. She didn’t just learn how to tie or how to be patient, she learned how to simply exist within herself, not relying on outside comfort. The lessons went a lot deeper than tying. I made a mistake by not teaching her those things earlier in her life, and I’m not going to repeat it with her son.
I am a big fan of the concept of patience trees, or as I like to call it, “The Tree of Knowledge”. Because it’s not really just about patience at all.
I still come across people that think leaving a horse standing tied for hours is inhumane. If the horse is standing with it’s head tied high (ie no slack in the rope, forcing the horse to hold it’s head higher than it normally would), or if the horse is left all day with no water, or if it’s unbearably hot and there’s no shade – then I would agree. But if the horse has no real reason to be physically uncomfortable, then he has no reason to be upset about being tied. He’s more comfortable standing there than he would be standing for hours in a trailer, yet we don’t think trailering is inhumane (ok, I’m sure someone out there does…).
Presto spent about 3 hours each day tied to the tree. At first he was quite mad. He’s pretty solid about being tied so I never saw him try to sit back, but he has not yet learned that the world doesn’t revolve around him and boy did he pace and paw. Eventually the behaviors started to lessen, and he began to accept his fate. He didn’t perfect his patience skills just in those two days, but I think he definitely learned a little bit about how things don’t always operate on his terms. The barn owner built me a high tie in the indoor at home that he will soon become well acquainted with, but I wanted him to log his first few hours on the tree – my favorite place to tie.
I also would not have put him out there if he hadn’t learned some basic ground rules beforehand. First and foremost, he had to know how to give to pressure. I don’t think you should ever tie a horse (anywhere, under any circumstances) that doesn’t understand the very basics of yielding to pressure. He’s also been required to stand tied for decent periods of time with me in attendance, so standing still isn’t a foreign concept either. We built up to it in a way that I felt was fair to him. The only thing different was that this time he had to do it alone.
Some people don’t agree with this approach, and that’s ok. Different strokes for different folks. But for me it’s been a really valuable method that has made a big difference in my horses, and that’s why I do it. At the end of the day, it’s my responsibility to make the horse into a solid citizen, and that’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly at all, especially considering I’m the entire reason this horse is even on this planet in the first place. I’ll do the best I can with the lessons I’ve learned from past mistakes, and hope that he learns what he needs in order to have the best possible life, no matter what.
As exciting as Presto’s version of our weekend adventure was (at least the water jump parts of it), Henry’s was a little bit more grown up and serious.
He is such a grump about sharing his trailer, I swear. Every time I looked in the rearview mirror to check on them, Presto was blissfully tearing chunks of hay out of the net and Henry was just standing there staring straight ahead, ears half pinned. He likes to act as if he doesn’t like Presto, but let me tell you who was the first one neighing for his long lost BFF when we got there and I left Presto tied to the tree.
First up on Saturday was a quick and very sweaty dressage lesson. Since bringing Presto home I’ve temporarily stopped our regular every-other-week lessons at the dressage barn near me, just until I feel a little less squeamish about writing that double board check. It’s been a couple months since we had a lesson, and a really really really long time since we had a dressage lesson with my regular eventing trainer. I swear, she is meaner than the nice dressage trainer man at home. He is really good at making me always stay calm and patient, but she doesn’t let me get complacent. It’s kind of a nice balance.
The main focus of the lesson was getting Henry extra forward and in front of my leg, something that has kind of always been an issue. I know I don’t always ask him for as much as I really can, and he’s perfectly happy to bumble around putting forth as little effort as possible. She made us trot and canter our big jiggly butts off. It’s almost like I need to get him a little too forward for a while, until he’s seeking to be a bit more forward-moving on his own. He was definitely in front of the leg, and shockingly (I know, right?) everything was a lot better. We’ve got homework. It’s called impulsion.
After that was when we went and grabbed Presto and ponied him over to the water. Honestly I can’t decide if my favorite part of that whole scene was watching Presto flop himself down in to the water repeatedly like a baby hippopotamus, or seeing Henry’s face on the video.
Poor Henny. His life is really hard, y’all. Somebody call the ASPCA.
Sunday was the “clear round” jumper show, which started with crossrails and went up throughout the day. In the morning I just hung out and watched and helped jump crew a bit, and stayed within eyeshot of Presto hanging out at his tree. He was hardcore glaring at me while I pretended not to notice. Y’all think Henny has good mareglare… you ain’t seen nothin yet.
Around 11 I went up and grabbed Henry to tack him up. The plan was to do one Training round and one Prelim round. I haven’t really been jumping him at home much at all… the ground has been a bit too hard for my taste, so we’ve just been hopping over a handful of little fences once a week, at most. It would definitely benefit my riding to be able to jump more, but it’s more important to save Henry’s legs and feet. He knows his job pretty well by now. It does mean I’m a bit rusty though, especially at full Prelim height.
It was hot and humid by the time I got on, so I did a very short warmup. Like 5 mins of trot, a few laps of canter, and then I jumped the little 2’6″ warmup oxer twice. Henry knows the deal by now. He seemed pretty happy to be jumping, too, after that dressage torture the day before.
This was my first time jumping real courses on him in his new PS of Sweden hackamore, with the plain leather curb strap. The first hackamore test run last month at the Scissortail show was in the other mechanical hackamore, with the chain strap. The mechanics of the PS are different too, since the “shank” part of the PS hackamore is swept back much more than a traditional hackamore. It hangs differently, further back from the mouth, and there’s less leverage, which I like because it makes it feel more like a middle ground between the sidepull and the regular mechanical hack. I thought that the mechanical hack with the chain strap was a little too much whoa, but I wasn’t sure if the different mechanics (ie lessened leverage) of the PS would mean that I might need the chain back. I also wanted to get Trainer’s opinion of how he jumps in it (I love it, but ya know…) so I waited for her to finish giving a XC lesson and then went in for our Training round.
It was probably the best round we’ve had in a while. In the hackamore I’m really able to ride Henry a bit more “up” in front, and he doesn’t feel like he wants to just ball up and go up and down like a carousel horse. He’s more forward, in every good possible way. And because of all those things, I feel like he really pushes off the ground a lot better and uses his body, especially his hind end, much more correctly. He still rubbed a few, because Henry is the most minimalistic horse in the world, but they stayed up, and the clear round was good for a blue ribbon. Trainer gave her thumbs up to the hackamore.
I was the last Training round to go, so all the jumps went up right after that. There were only two of us waiting for Prelim rounds, and as soon as they finished with the course I went back in. We had our choice of two different courses, but I just stuck with the same one we’d already done. My brain doesn’t need any additional challenges, thanks.
When I went in and picked up the canter Henry even gave a very sassy little head twist, despite the heat and humidity. I think he was happy to be back at it, doing something fun. Since it’s been a while since we’ve jumped some height, a couple of the oxers looked maybe a little big to me, but not too bad. I guess I’m getting used to the size now. Of course, I tipped my shoulders just a teeny bit at the base of the first vertical and he ticked the rail with his front toe. Whoops. He was really good though, even when he locked on to another fence in the rollback and I really thought he was going to try to jump it sideways. He ate that course up and jumped the crap out of some of those fences. Enthusiasm. He has it. Well… for jumping, anyway. Maybe not anything else. Except food.
I did find a bit of a big distance into the two stride oxer-to-oxer in and out, which did not make his job the easiest, but he self-corrected and hopped right through with no problem. He jumped the bigger fences better than the smaller ones. Knock on wood, but Henry feels really good right now… strong and capable and happy. I know I always say that he’s worth his weight in gold but I think he’s actually worth at least 3x that. How many horses can pack their amateur’s butt around a Prelim stadium course one minute and then the next minute be ponying his dumb little yearling brother around the field? Henry is perfection in a plain brown wrapper.
I ended up having to load them and haul home in the rain, but I’m glad we got our rounds in before the deluge started. What a great weekend for both of my boys!
Oh boy, did Presto have another very exciting weekend! Well, some parts of it were more exciting for me than for him, but he still had his fair share of fun.
My trainer’s barn was having a schooling jumper show on Sunday, so I decided to make a weekend of it and have a dressage lesson on Saturday too. And of course, if I’m gonna take Henry down there for the weekend, why not throw Little Brother in the trailer too? So Saturday morning, bright and early, I loaded both boys in my trailer together for the first time.
Which we should all get extra credit for, because I don’t have functional butt bars at the moment and was wondering how the hell that was gonna work, trying to load two by myself. But these kids are saints, so it was as simple as leading them both out together, having Henry self-load, and then leading Presto into the other side, leaving them both to make faces at each other over the hay net while I went around and shut the ramp. I am lucky to have two easy loaders/haulers. That could have been way harder than it was. The next big thing for Presto to learn is how to self load, so I can just point both of them at the trailer and not have to worry about it.
After the two hour drive they unloaded just as easily, and Presto pretty much went straight to the Tree of Knowledge to get an education in patience while Henry and I watched some other lessons and then got ready for our own. I’ll talk more about the idea behind the Tree of Knowledge in another post, because several people have already asked about it after seeing my Instagram stories, but let’s just say that Presto was none-to-pleased about it at first. He stayed out there for a few hours total and while he definitely settled way down, he was mad and certainly did not give up entirely. Gotta give the kid props for perseverance and stamina.
After Henry and I were done with our lesson, we went and rescued grabbed him from the tree and ponied him around the XC course a bit. Mostly I wanted to get him in the water, because they’re never too young to start learning about that. He was a little hesitant at first, standing on the edge for about 30 seconds before giving up and plopping one foot in. And once that foot was in, he had a total change of heart. He charged into the water, smacking it with his feet and making big splashes. He looked like a little kid in a pool. I wish I’d been able to video that part, I was cracking up.
We crossed the water a few times and then I let him stop to drink. After that he decided he wanted to roll in this magical pool of amazingness, so I let him. And he rolled. And he got up. And he rolled again. And he splashed. And he rolled. I was laughing so hard I had to go get Trainer and bring her back over to watch.
So, no worries there… Presto LOVES water. We even walked up and down the little tiny side of the bank. It’s so small, a step up trailer is bigger, so it’s a good little “intro” to the idea of stepping up and down. Up was easy, but he was a little impressed with the first time down. I’m pretty sure you can see him saying CANNONBALL here.
After that it was less exciting and he just plopped down normally on the second attempt.
On Sunday he spent a few hours in the morning turned out next to Trainer’s geldings, who were absolutely mesmerized by him. They did not understand his submissive baby chomping behavior at all and just kept trying to eat him. Poor kid.
Then he went back to the Tree of Knowledge again for a few hours. He was definitely less enthusiastic about his protests on Day 2, and mostly just seemed put out. Welcome to life, kiddo. Isn’t the first time, won’t be the last. He never quite gave in completely and just relaxed, but there were no major theatrics or meltdowns, and he got to stand there and watch/hear all the goings-on of the horse show.
After Henry was done with his jumper classes we went for another quick pony around the XC course, this time over to the little row of ditches. He just trotted right over, no big deal. Honestly, Henry was spookier about them than Presto was. We just might have a baby event horse on our hands here.
It was a great learning weekend for Presto, and fun to be able to take the boys somewhere together. Hopefully getting these types of experiences early in life will make him a way more solid citizen later on. For a yearling he’s already pretty darn good.
Oh, and this kid is in a growth spurt like you would not believe. He just keeps eating and eating and eating, but he’s only getting TALLER, not wider. He ate an entire bale of hay on Saturday! I don’t even know where it goes! Maybe some day he’ll decide to fill out a little?
So, aside from the bloody mouth saga that we’ve replayed like 6 or 7 times by now, another thing to come out of the LRK3DE this year was scrutiny over how tight some people’s nosebands are. In fact, a lot of people had more issue with that than they did with the blood, or think that one problem is directly related to the other. I’m inclined to agree with the latter part.
But what has been interesting about that whole debacle are the conversations that have resulted in it’s wake. Looking through the photos, it was hard not to notice that some people (no, not just one) had some seriously tight flash nosebands. The current FEI rule for nosebands is as follows:
Horse Noseband check: FEI Stewards of all disciplines to pay particular attention to ensure that nosebands are not overtightened. It must be possible to place at least one finger between the horse’s cheek and the noseband. Nosebands must never be used in such a way that they interfere with a horse’s breathing. This check can be carried out at any time the steward feels that a noseband appears to be too tight (preferably after the test); if the steward carrying out this check finds the nose band is too tight, the steward must ask the groom to loosen the noseband so that one finger can fit between the nose band and the cheek of the horse. If it happens again the rider should receive a yellow card for not following the instruction of the steward.
One finger. Between the cheek and the noseband. Not two fingers. Not the chin, or the front of the nose. I’m pretty sure you could tighten that thing to the point where it’s bone-crushing and I could still get a finger in there on the horse’s fleshy cheek. So who gets to determine what meets the definition of “overtightened”?
There has also been a lot of talk lately about the noseband study (if you only read one thing today, read this) released last year, which showed that “A proportion of the horses were recorded having oral lesions, most of them in dressage.The tightness of the noseband showed a very clear correlation to the occurrence of oral lesions.”. So, yes, it’s been proven that overtightening a noseband can and does cause physical harm to a horse. I was particularly interested to note, while reading through the study, this part:
The median noseband tightness in all horses measured (n = 737) was found to be 0.5 fingers. Forty four per cent of nosebands were tightened to zero fingers tightness, 7% to 0.5 fingers, 23% to 1 finger, 19% to 1.5 fingers and 7% to 2 fingers tightness.
Holy. Shite. Clearly that vague rule about fitting a finger between the cheek and the noseband is not working out in the horse’s favor.
As a result of this study, the Danish Equestrian Federation has brought forth new rules regarding noseband tightness – “The tightness of the nosebands will be measured as of 1 January 2018: There must be room for a certified measurement unit in between the nasal plate of the horse (bony surface) and the noseband equivalent to a diameter more than 1,5cm. The rule is applicable for all disciplines.”. So not only are they calling for a standard measurement (not a vague one or two fingers), they also have changed the location of where the measurement should be taken. Not the cheek, but rather the front of the horse’s face.
A taper gauge has also been created, an actual tool that standardizes just how much space there must be. Handily enough, it also measures curb length and bit thickness.
New Zealand is the latest country to jump on this bandwagon, discussing possible rule changes to introduce the use of the taper gauge at their shows.
I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I doubt the taper gauge would fit under even half of the horses’ nosebands at most shows in America, of pretty much any discipline. Overtightening of nosebands seems like, from my experience at least, something that happens across the board. I’ve done my fair share of it in the past too, having been raised thinking that the noseband should go as tight as you could get it. I definitely don’t do that anymore, and honestly probably err on the “may as well not have a noseband at all” end of the spectrum these days, but it seems to be a pretty common practice.
So the real question here is what FEI, and also USEF, might do about this. The fans aren’t the only ones noticing an issue with nosebands, some riders are speaking up about it too.
Jim Wofford wrote an article about it FIVE YEARS AGO, and if anything it’s only gotten worse since he made these observations. I’ll be honest, I’d be shocked to see any action toward standardization from USEF anytime in the near future, but maybe I’m just being pessimistic. This is nothing new – the study and the taper gauge have been subjects of discussion for years. It’s refreshing to see some upper level riders/coaches supporting changes, though.
What do you guys think? Do you see overtightened nosebands often? Do you think it’s an issue? What do you think of the changes that some countries are starting to make?