The “Natural” Way

I feel like Natural Horsemanship is one of those sometimes controversial things that tends to put people either on one side of the spectrum on the other. There are those who are hardcore devotees, with a bookshelf full of DVD’s, the “official” way overpriced halter and lead rope, a t-shirt, and maybe a carrot stick or two. Then there are the folks who think it’s all a bunch of voodoo horseshit, a big waste of time, and an even bigger waste of money. I fall somewhere in between.

Sadie, learning at a young age that people are unfailingly annoying.

I first got introduced to the concept of “Natural Horsemanship” way back in the early 2000’s when I was working at a breeding farm. I spent a lot of time working with foals, very opinionated broodmares, and horses fresh off the track. One evening I found myself flipping through the channels in my barn apartment, stumbled upon RFDTV (I can’t remember now if it was a Clinton Anderson or Craig Cameron show), and it instantly had my attention. First in a “ha, wtf are these idiot cowboys even doing?” kind of way. Then I slowly started going “hmm… I wonder if that would work…”. It was something I had never seen before.

Growing up in the h/j world, at a higher end A circuit barn, we did not do much ground work. They lunged, they crosstied, they (mostly) loaded in trailers, they stood for the farrier, and that was about all that was required. If they didn’t do those things, they were sedated or twitched or muscled around until they did. Most of the horses that came through there were been-there-done-that types, used to the routine. The story was pretty much the same at the eventing barn I was a working student at later… most of those horses had either been around for a while or came off the track, which meant they knew how the routine went already, or quickly got in line. I had never really seen a method of training that focused on seeing situations through a horse’s perspective, at the base instinct level.

when I bought this one you couldn’t even get near his hind end, much less get on him. This took weeks.

Working with foals, or my various cheap (usually semi-feral) projects that I picked up a lot in those days, was different. They were a fairly blank slate, and they often didn’t react to things the way an older horse would. I also started thinking that surely there had to be ways, beyond bribing with grain or subduing with lip chains, to get reluctant horses on the trailer. Or ways to get the fresh OTT horses feeling a little more settled and confident and less spooky. This is when those fateful RFDTV shows stepped in and said “Hey look… what about this?”. I was intrigued. It was definitely a new way of thinking about how horses respond to things, and why, and how to reshape their behaviors into what you want.

I threw myself into the concepts right off the bat, watching every show I could and buying several books. I started learning it, and applying it, and watching how this approach changed the horses. I was definitely buying into it, but wasn’t 100% sold. A few of their methods just didn’t do much for me, so did a lot of trial and error to figure out what I liked and what worked for me, my horses, and our situation.

Eventually I didn’t work at the breeding farm anymore, stopped buying random unstarted or auction house projects, and went back to having horses with more of a solid foundation in place. By the time Sadie was a yearling I had half forgotten and half abandoned a lot of the work, and didn’t do quite as much of it with her as I should have. When she went off to get started by the cowboy, he did a real crash course with her and taught me some of the things that he had taught her. That was my first formal training in any of this NH methodology. The basic concepts worked very well with Sadie, who as a young horse had a lot of issues with confidence and claustrophobia. She came back a much happier and better horse, and I got a good idea of exactly which parts of the natural horsemanship methods apply very well to horses that are destined for horse show life.

3yo Sadie with her favorite (okay, only) cowboy

I will say, I haven’t worked on it much with Henry. Really I don’t need to, he’s a pretty steady and reliable horse, very sure of himself and solid in his connection with people. There have been situations pop up where some basic concepts have been applied, and there is definitely a lot of my day-to-day horsemanship that has been shaped by it (ie make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard) but I don’t go out and do purposeful groundwork or NH type work with him pretty much ever.

With Presto, we do a lot of it. I don’t work him in the round pen, at least not yet. I don’t want him running around in circles much, being a baby warmblood, and nothing that I’m trying to accomplish at this point really requires it. We’ve worked on the basic concepts of “sending”, and moving his front end or hind end away, turning, and responding to my body language just by working at the walk at the end of the lead rope. He’s learned about pressure and release, the beginnings of some desensitization, the space “bubble”, etc. Even just doing little bits of it have already proved to work very well for him. His behavior at the show was very encouraging to me, showing me that he’s getting it, and learning to look to me for guidance and think things through rather than  react.

Pro level napper

There are still some parts of some Natural Horsemanship training programs that I just don’t like, so I don’t do them. I’m not into the constant one rein stops, or the snaking the lead rope around to get a horse to back up, or a few other things. I don’t buy a “special” rope halter, or stick, or whatever else, and you won’t find me at anyone’s clinics. I think the ideas behind the methodology are sound, but I don’t buy into the extreme commercialism, sometimes bordering on cult-like, that it has become. Over time I’ve gravitated more to Buck Brannaman’s methods than anyone else’s, but I’ve learned to take whatever works from whatever trainer and apply it, and leave the rest of it at the door. I truly have become a believer in the benefits of natural horsemanship, and appreciate how much it’s changed my perspective, and subsequently, how I train my horses.

How do you feel about natural horsemanship? Love it? Hate it? Never really played with it? I’m always interested to hear other people’s impressions!

Hot Hot Heat

Well, spring was fun while it lasted. To be honest we had a pretty good run this year, with a short and mild winter, and the heat was a little bit slower in arriving than it sometimes is. My only real complaint is that we haven’t gotten much rain. This concerns me, heading into what is our driest time of year. Hard ground plus a lack of grass are not my ideas of a good time for the next 5 months. Granted, there’s nothing about a Texas summer that meets any of my requirements of a good time.

Odds of us actually hitting triple digits on Friday? I’d say probable.

With the heat comes a change in routine. Last summer I switched to riding early in the mornings, which, while REALLY FREAKING HUMID, were at least more pleasant than riding in 100+ degrees. Nothing that I have ever tried for Henry’s heat intolerance has actually helped, so I think I’m officially waiving the white flag on our attempts at supplements. Granted, I still have half-full bottles of Equipulmin and Respi-Free laying around, irritating me with their mere presence.

His favorite part of summer is bath+fan

But last week I officially made the switch over to morning rides, which involve some very early alarms and a Henry that is a little more grumpy than usual. He was not thrilled at me stumbling out through his pasture in the dark, using the flashlight on my phone to find him, and then bringing him in to ride rather than eat breakfast. I’m so mean. I was not that thrilled about it either, but that’s just how life is when you live in the sweltering armpit of America.

Mom, you know it’s still dark, right?

Mostly though I just spend all spring making him over-fit and then coast through summer. He maintains it pretty well, and summers are his easiest season anyway, as far as work load. Between the heat and the hard ground I tend to cut way back on the conditioning rides and any unnecessary “pounding”. I did just send in a show entry though, for the June schooling show that we’ve gone to the past 2 years. That one was always kind of sketchy with the weather, because you ran XC around 1pm, in the heat of the day, and the speed was maxed out. I was happy to see that this year they’ve changed the format and now dressage is Saturday afternoon (which will be terrible, but it’s dressage so it’s terrible by default) and stadium/XC are Sunday morning. It’ll be humid, but hopefully a little easier on the horses, not being in the blaring heat of the day. We’ll see how Henry does with it. They also lowered the speed to 420mpm (minimum Training speed), way easier than 470 (maximum Training speed). He can lope along easily at 420, no problem.


The only real bummer about switching to our summer schedule is that I have less time to spend with Presto on the weekdays. Usually by the time I’m done with Henry I’m feeling rushed to get out of there so I can get to work and be showered and at my desk in time for our daily 8am meeting. That means Presto’s weekdays might now be limited to a quick grooming, saving the rest of his “work” for weekends.

Or it means that I’ll just arrive at meetings unshowered and still in my barn clothes. That’s probably more likely. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Priorities, yo.

It’s a little frustrating to feel like we kind of barely got going in the spring, and now we’re already dialing things back down again. The spring season never really got off the ground, since I’ve been working a lot and stockpiling money like a crazy person to make myself feel better about the added expense of a second horse. Thems the breaks, though, and I don’t regret it one bit. Hopefully by fall everything will be a little more ironed out and stable and we’ll be able to have more of a “real” season.

Until then we’ll just be over here trying our best not to melt.

Upping that Tech Game

It’s probably no secret that I’m a real lover of equestrian-related technology. My Cambox helmet camera is probably one of my all time favorite purchases, and I’ve been having a lot of fun lately with the Seaver smart girth. I’ve looked into automated camera systems like Pixio and Soloshot, since I always ride alone and therefore rarely have media of it, but have never been able to justify the cost. It was easy to just pretend like they didn’t exist, purposely avoid their social media, and try not to be too jealous when other bloggers posted about theirs.

Image result for lalalala ignore gif
me, every time somebody talks about their Pixio or Soloshot

And then, because I’m pretty sure the universe loves to taunt me, I made the mistake of going to Riding Warehouse’s “New Items” page again last week. Yeah, the page that always ends up getting me into trouble. I can’t help it, y’all, I love looking at all the new stuff so I check it all the time. And it seems as if RW has been really busy upping their technology game, because there were several fun little gadgets that stopped me in my tracks.

First, of course they’re carrying the Soloshot now, both the Optic65 and the Optic25 models. OF FREAKING COURSE. The Soloshot is the camera system I wanted. My US Rider discount would bring it down to $466 for the Optic25, which, while a lot better than the sticker price of $550, still puts it solidly in the “hahahaha no effing way” territory for what is essentially a for-fun item. Owning two horses on a small budget does not leave that kind of play money left over. Still, I can’t decide if I’m really happy they’re carrying it since it makes the price more realistic, or really sad that they’re carrying it because now I get to be taunted by it all the dang time.

I also noticed that they’ve added a bunch of Trailer Eyes products to the lineup, including the Trailer Camera system and the WiFi Trailer Cam.  I’m kind of obsessed with those things. I LOVE being able to see what the horses are doing in the trailer and keep an eye on them to make sure nobody is in trouble back there. Luckily with my small little, um, vintage trailer I have front windows so I can at least see their heads and make sure they’re upright/eating hay. Next trailer, though… I will definitely buy some kind of trailer camera system. I’ve gotten so accustomed to being able to see them that now I’m beyond paranoid if I can’t, and the camera systems are pretty cheap considering.

Image result for uhwk helmet camera

As if those weren’t enough, I kept scrolling and saw that they’re carrying the new UHWK helmet camera. It’s a bit bigger and bulkier and less fancy than my Cambox, but has a similar front mount style and is specifically designed for a helmet. It definitely looks way better than a GoPro or the side mount cameras. The most interesting thing about it is the price – with a discount it comes in around $150. I’m far too in love with my Cambox to stray to something else, but it could be a really interesting option for those who like the design of the Cambox but don’t want to spend quite that much money. Somebody buy it and try it and report back!

Anybody own any of this stuff? Actually, don’t answer that question if you own a Soloshot. Unless you hate it, then feel free to tell me how much I don’t need it.

We won’t even talk about all the fancy new Majyk Equipe pads, or the fact that they’re now carrying all the MotionLite colors or the EQ3 MIPS helmets. I’m trying to pretend like none of this exists. Why do I even go look at the New Items page all the time? WHY? I need a 12 step program. Or a winning lottery ticket. Preferably the latter.

Presto’s First Show

Well this is definitely going to be a much different show recap than you usually get around here. There was no dressage (unless you count the lap we walked around the outside of the ring while the judge was on break) and there were no jumps (unless you count all the poles he had to walk/trip over during trail). But it was a very solid first experience for Presto, who spent all day vastly exceeding my expectations.

“Dis my really embarrassing hooman. Derr is many like her but dis one is mine.”

His in-hand trail class didn’t start until 11, but it was open for schooling beforehand and I wanted to allow him plenty of time to settle in and look at all the obstacles. I was pretty sure that between the commotion of the show and all the scary stuff on the trail course, it might take me a couple hours to get him settled. So I got to the barn around 7:30, fed him, groomed him, and intended to wait until the barn workers got there so I could get someone to help me load him. He’s ridden in my trailer once before – when I brought him home – and he’s practiced loading another time, but I’ve never loaded him alone before, not completely anyway. Ie, walking him in and leaving him while I go around the back to close to ramp. He can still get a bit insecure when I leave him in general, so I wasn’t sure that this would go well. But after looking back and forth from the trailer to Presto for a few minutes I figured what the heck, lets just try it and see.

I’ll be damned if he didn’t walk right in and stand stock still when I told him whoa, climbed out of the escape door, and walked around to close the ramp. I crammed an alfalfa pellet in his mouth (the only “treats” he finds acceptable so far), tied him, and away we went.

He neighed and craned his head around a lot for the first few minutes before settling down and aggressively eating his hay. It was only about a 40 minute ride to the show, where I asked the people at the trailer next to us to keep an eye on him while I ran to the office to check in. Once I got back I untied him, dropped the ramp, and he very politely backed out, looking both ways before letting out a trumpeting “HELLLOOOOOOO EVERYONE, I’M HERE!!!” neigh. I led him around a bit, past the warmup (with it’s flapping flags), near the dressage arena, past some XC jumps, and then settled by the jump arena for a few minutes to watch some rounds.

mmmm foooood

He neighed a bit, but he wasn’t particularly worried about anything. Once he took a deep breath and cared more about eating grass than he did about looking around, I started doing some ground work – practicing walk/trot/halt/backing, sending him around me both ways, changing directions on the end of the lead rope, etc. The familiar work seemed to help relax him even more. Since XC hadn’t started yet, I walked him up and down the little bank complex a few times. May as well start getting that idea now!

By this point he was being pretty darn chill. He was looking around, but he wasn’t particularly bug-eyed about anything, was content to stand and graze, and really only neighed if another horse neighed first. So we meandered over and started looking at all the trail obstacles. We started with the easy things that he’s seen before, like all the poles, then I walked him over both bridges. He seemed more interested in pausing to eat the decorations.

Calm down, baby horse

Then we tackled the stuff that he’d DEFINITELY never seen before, like the curtain of garden hoses, the pool noodles hanging around a tree, a pool noodle thing that they had to walk through, and the blue tarp that they had to walk over. The first couple of times through the curtain of hoses he wanted to spurt quickly out the other side (by “spurt quickly” I mean take like 3 trot steps when one of the hoses brushed his butt, and the first time over the tarp he leaped completely over it (not gonna punish the jumper baby for THAT instinct!) but he wasn’t particularly concerned about any of it.

eating more decorations (sorry Paulina)

We were only about half an hour into the show by this point, and I was like “well, ok… now what do we do in the next two hours while we wait for trail to start?”. So we hung out and watched jumper rounds, dressage tests, and cross country. We listened to the loud speaker and the clapping. We hung out in the shade and just STOOD, practicing being patient. Every once in a while I would go run through a little ground work again, just to check in with him. We also practiced a much smaller trot than I normally ask him for in-hand… more of a jog than a real sporthorse trot. Well, as much of a jog as a horse with legs that long can manage, anyway. Finally I decided I should probably actually learn the trail course for real, and went to retrieve my map so we could put the whole thing together and do a full run-through.

I also have to say, thank goodness for the other people out there schooling the course, because for a few of the obstacles I had no idea exactly what we were supposed to do. I’ve definitely never done anything like this before, so I had to ask questions about how some of it was supposed to be done. I mean, I know we were just there for funsies, but I wanted to at least make an effort to do the right thing. Obstacle #8 especially had me stumped – it was a plastic barrel with a spinning PVC pipe attached across the top of it that apparently the horse is supposed to push around with his nose or chest. Who knew that was a thing? The first time I led Presto up to it he thought the answer was to jump over it (again… not an undesirable reaction considering his future career) but eventually he did figure out how to push it with his chest. I think I’ve spent so long instilling the NO PUSHING ANYTHING, EVER concept into him that he didn’t think that could possibly be right. Otherwise, he understood everything else pretty much immediately, to the point where he was almost blasé.


After a full practice run of the course (During which I discovered that I’ve got to go home and work on trotting circles to the right in hand – we’ve been practicing the triangle like they have at FEH, with it’s two big turns. The circle, being one long continuous turn, was not so good.) we went back and hung out in the shade by the jumper ring. Once the course opened for judging I was the first one at the gate. It was getting hot, baby horse was being really good – it was time to be done and go home. So as soon as the judge was ready, in we went.


He got a little excited in the trot figure 8 when there was a bunch of clapping and cheering nearby, but as far as “explosions” go, it was quite tame. I just lost his focus a bit and had to walk for a second to get him back on track. When we got to the pushing-spinning thing at 8, a horse came flying through the water jump behind him and spooked him a bit, but again, as far as “explosions” go… meh. It lasted all of 2 seconds and he settled right back down. Mostly he spent the whole course tripping over the poles and tiny logs. Babies. Their legs aren’t connected to their brains yet. He neighed a couple times too, when other horses neighed first, which is fine. Really I thought he was stellar. First time at a show, first time seeing or doing anything remotely like this… no complaints.

if you take really blurry screen shots from far away video, he looks pretty cute right now

After we were done we went and chatted with the judge, who was quite complimentary of his first attempt at trail. Obviously he is not a trail horse, this is not his future career at all, but a) he listened b) he tried c) he intelligently thought his way through all the questions instead of getting worried or upset. These are all great life skills that he’ll need as he gets older, so I feel like the outing was 110% worth it.

Pats for the best baby

Once he was finished we walked around and said our goodbyes, then I chucked him in the trailer (he repeated his morning performance of walking in, then standing and waiting when I said whoa and walked around to close the ramp – it wasn’t a fluke!), and we went home. I was so proud of how well-behaved he was, mostly because I think he just really showed me how intelligent he is. All day he looked to me for guidance, and all day he stayed polite and attentive and did what I asked him to do. There was no belligerence, he wasn’t worried, and he thought his way through everything. You can’t ask for more than that from any horse, much less a yearling taking his first trip to a show.

Oh, and he ended up placing 3rd (ok, there were only 4, but still). Kiddo has officially started his own satin collection. Well… hypothetically anyway, since I didn’t stay until the class was over and pinned. Details.

Building the Partnership

In the past few weeks, more than one person has asked me to write about my partnership with Henry. Either more details about how we overcame challenges that we faced along the way, or my thoughts as to how our partnership got to be the way that it is, or how it’s possible that I always seem to be so annoyingly pleased with my horses. Which… I have to say, I don’t think I’m an anomaly in that. There are a lot of examples of great horse and rider partnerships in the blog world.


And, to be totally honest, I feel kind of uncomfortable writing anything remotely similar to a how-to or giving very specific, detailed advice. It feels a little (a lot) douchey. Everyone’s situation is so unique, and I certainly do not have all the answers nor do I want to sit here and pretend like I do. I’m not a professional. I have plenty of issues, just like anyone else, and so do my horses. I also think that a big part of why my partnership with Henry has been such an overall happy one is because I’m one of the luckiest people on earth and blindly stumbled upon one of the most genuine, honest horses that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. That’s not skill, or savvy… that’s luck.

But it’s also true that the horse I stumbled across on facebook for $900 was a bit different from the horse I have now. It took a while to overcome some of his demons and make him happier and more confident in his work. He’s always been golden at his core, he just needed someone to show him how to take a deep breath. I was fortunate enough to have learned some valuable lessons from horses that came before him, and I was in the right place at the right time in my own education to be what he needed me to be in the beginning. I still made mistakes of course, plenty of them, STILL DO, ALL THE TIME, but things slowly started to click and come together for us.

in the early days

Since then I’ve been even more fortunate to have my perspective evolve tremendously just by having the relationship that I do with Henry, and I’ve noticed that I’ve already carried the things that I’ve learned over to Presto. I spent my pre-Henry years buying cheap horses, training them up a bit, and then selling them, so I’ve owned more than my fair share. They all taught me something, but none of them have really brought everything into focus as much as Henry has. He’s been an incredible source of clarity for me – as a rider, as a horseman, and as a human being.

So I will (hesitantly) put pen to paper on this one, so to speak, and share the things that have really been cemented in my mind over the past several years with Henry, and from seeing the relationships that some of my friends have with their horses. I can sit here and tell you a thousand different stories, but in they end they all kind of boil down to just a few basic ideas, so I went with that instead. I’m hoping that, if nothing else, I’ll be able to look back on this post when I’m having struggles with Presto, or when it’s time to shop for the next horse, and be able to remind myself of what’s important. For me personally, all of these things have been really vital to building a good relationship with a horse. Future self, pull up a seat.


Be honest with yourself

I think that if you’re going to be successful, as a rider or a horseman or anything really, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you really need and what your abilities truly are. This takes a lot of self-awareness. But you see it ALL the time, people struggling through a bad relationship with a horse that just is not suited to them at all, for whatever particular reason. Unless you’re a pro, it’s not about what you can do (this isn’t a contest), it’s about what you want to do and what will make you the happiest. Do you actually need the fanciest, prettiest horse you can find? Do you really want a green horse? For me, I can do green, but even if I had the money, I’m never gonna go out and buy some big fancy upper level horse that requires a strong accurate ride and spends half of it’s free time being an idiot. I’m just not interested. Doesn’t suit my lifestyle or my preference or my skill level. So before you buy the horse: What do you really want? What are you really capable of? What type of horse will fit best into your personal situation? Be brutally honest in your self-assessment.

Which leads us to:

Buy the right horse.

For some people the right horse could be something straight off the track, whereas for someone else the right horse might be a 15yo been there done that QH that is rock solid and steady. There’s nothing wrong with either extreme, or anything in the middle. Young or green horses need consistency, they need confidence, they require a lot of time and energy, and they need to be properly educated… if you can’t realistically (or don’t want to) provide those things, get a horse that already has them. If there’s a certain brain or personality you really need or want, keep looking until you find it. And if you own a horse that isn’t right for you, or you don’t enjoy riding it, sell it. There’s some kind of weird stigma in the horse world that selling a horse equals “giving up” on it. This is insane. Most of the time both the horse and the rider are going to be much happier with a different partner or in a different career, and sometimes it’s just time to move on. Give yourself permission to do right by both of you, part ways, and find the horse you enjoy that fits your needs. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks.


Have realistic expectations

Honestly, just from my own personal observations, unrealistic expectations seem to be one of the major things that lead to people being really unhappy with their horses. They’re big prey animals with tiny brains, they are gonna be dumb sometimes. Some a lot dumber than others. You also can’t realistically expect a green horse to make up for your mistakes, or be perfect, or consistent. If you need a horse to do that, buy something that’s already made. Even then, it’s still a horse, not a robot. It’s important to always make your expectations clear and always be in pursuit of progress, but it’s also important to understand that they will not always be met. Shrug it off, reassess, and try again tomorrow.

Set yourself and your horse up for success

You see this all the time too, when someone makes a bad decision and you can already see the writing on the wall before it happens. There ends up being an accident, or the whole situation begins to quickly unravel. We’re human, we will inevitably make bad decisions sometimes. That’s part of it. But on the flip side, a lot of problems can be avoided if you take the time to stop, think, and then continue on. What I’m asking – is it fair? Is the horse prepared – mentally and physically? Have I done the homework? I try not to put any of us into situations where we’re unlikely to succeed – it’s so vital to keep the trust and the confidence up.


It’s not personal

Ah, man. Another thing you see this all the time: someone saying their horse was “an asshole” or that their horse did this thing to them or that thing to them. Horses aren’t malicious, they’re reactive. They don’t wake up in the morning scheming about how to make us angry or make us look stupid. Every time I feel myself getting frustrated, I try to take the emotional element out of it and think about things from the horse’s perspective. Is he confused? Is he tired? Is he hurting? Is he lacking confidence? Am I doing something wrong? Henry especially has demanded this from me, and he still does. He is a very honest horse, but if he feels like you’re doing wrong by him, he will absolutely let you know. Not in a mean way, but in a “I’m done participating until you get your shit together” way. I appreciate that about him, because he’s made me a better horseman. Still working on the “better rider” part…

Make peace with the things you can’t change

There are so many things you can improve about a horse. His training, his gaits, his strength, on and on and on. But there are some things you can’t really fix, or some things that just won’t change a whole lot. I love Henry dearly, but I feel pretty sure that he will never be a particularly spectacular dressage horse. His natural default mode is tense, his natural gaits are meh, and his natural balance is downhill. There has been massive improvement – he is obedient and he is much more capable – but he will likely never be the dressage winner. I accept that. He also won’t ever be a particularly careful showjumper. He has the ability, but he’s a minimalist and just isn’t that bothered by touching a rail. I accept that too. He’s got crooked front legs, so I’m really careful about his shoeing schedule, the footing he works in, and his conditioning. These are facts, and I accept all of them. He makes up for it in a million other ways, so they just are what they are. No horse is perfect. If I couldn’t live with his faults, I would have sold him years ago. We’ll never stop working to improve the negative things, but I’m realistic about it, I accept it, and I’m not holding any of it against him. Don’t hold grudges against a horse just for being who he is.

although it’s not actually necessary to tap every rail, just saying

Everyone needs help sometimes

Pride and ego are the enemies to a good partnership. There will always be bumps in the road, things you need help with, situations that you aren’t sure how to handle. No one knows everything, and there is zero shame in bringing in a professional to help. To me it’s shameful to let a situation go on for too long, or to keep fumbling through something that isn’t working – almost always to the horse’s detriment. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Know when to hand the reins to someone else.

Patience is everything

It’s true, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was a solid horse and rider team. It takes time to build up the trust required – lots and lots of deposits into the trust bank. And being patient with yourself is just as important as being patient with the horse. To me this is one of the hardest parts. Especially not getting caught up in comparing yourself to other people, their horses, their progress, but just being patient and letting everything fall into place in it’s own due time. That’s so hard, but so critical.


Otherwise I mostly just try to remember to also keep it fun. It doesn’t always have to be work work work all the time. We goof off, we play around, we take days to just go exploring or for a bareback hack. It helps keep me grounded and remembering why I do this, and to be honest, I think those “fun” days have done more to strengthen the bond than all of the work days put together. We trust each other and have a pretty good level of understanding. Some days I just mentally can’t, and some days he just mentally can’t. So on those days, we just don’t. And that’s okay.

Henry isn’t perfect, and there are a lot of things he will never be, just like there are a lot of things I’ll probably never be either. But I appreciate all the good things about him, we mesh well together, and in a lot of ways he’s completely irreplaceable to me. I’m so appreciative to have this type of relationship with Henry right now, while I’m “raising” Presto. I can easily draw comparisons as I try to mold my and Presto’s relationship to mimic the one I have with Henry. It makes me think a little more holistically about how we got there, what I did right, and what I did wrong. There is plenty of both.

Best Of: Top 10 Search Terms

Back in the days when I actively watched my blog stats and made a real effort, I always looked through the “search terms” on a fairly regular basis. I was curious about all the different ways that people found my site – what they had searched for that somehow ultimately led them here. One time, a few years ago, I did a post with all the funniest search terms I had noticed. These days I don’t really actively look at that stuff very much anymore, but sometimes as I’m scrolling past, things catch my eye. One thing in particular got my attention the other day, which led me to looking through the search terms from 2018 so far. Oh my. There are some doozies. I thought they warranted a resurrection of the Best Search Terms post.

Image result for people are strange gif

The vast majority of them are what you’d expect – people googling the blog name, people looking for coupon codes, people wondering how to dye a saddle, or looking for specific product reviews. But sometimes you come across one that just really makes you raise your eyebrow for whatever reason. I picked my top 10 favorites out of those, set them in some awesome quote poster backgrounds, and here we are now.

Copy of Women Retro Vintage Quote Poster Template - Made with PosterMyWall

Like this one… I’m trying to imagine the person who typed this into their search bar. Is this a big problem in relationships? What did they decide to do? Did her logos get any better? I need closure on this.

Copy of Church FlyersInvitation - Made with PosterMyWall

I mean… I’m pretty sure I don’t do this very often, but… there there, here’s a kleenex.

Copy of Social Media Post - Made with PosterMyWall

Can’t really argue with that one, though. Accurate-apotamus.

Copy of Colorful quote template - Made with PosterMyWall

Did this person ask google to google this for him/her? And chew toys? Is that a thing?

Copy of Printable colorful wall art quote template - Made with PosterMyWall

99.9% sure I don’t want to know the motives behind this one, or why it led them to me.

Copy of spiritual poster - Made with PosterMyWall

Man, I really feel for the person who searched for this. Aren’t we ALL searching for answers like these? Will we ever find them? #deepthoughts

Copy of Stop bullying Motivational School poster template - Made with PosterMyWall


Copy of Winner - Made with PosterMyWall


Copy of Inspirational Poster Template - Made with PosterMyWall

I’m… not really sure what to think of this one. I mean, I do have horses, so…

And last but certainly not least, my personal favorite:Copy of Love Watercolor Wreath Print - Made with PosterMyWall

I dunno kid, but if you found out please come back and let the rest of us know.

Of Spaceships and Shrunken Heads

It’s almost mid-May, which means spring is pretty much over in Texas. Once we get past tomorrow, the entire 10 day forecast has temps in the low to mid 90’s. Welcome to summer. Around here, that means sweaty horses and stagnant air. Which in turn means that the fly and gnat population, which has really just been moderate thus far, is about to explode.

Don’t want flies on your face? Grow a mustang forelock. #protip

I buy fly spray by the gallon, pretty much all year long. I’m almost all the way through the first gallon that I bought a couple months ago, so I ordered more yesterday. I also realized it was probably time to replace Henry’s 4 year old fly mask, which was starting to get really worn and kinda pokey at the eyes, so he got a new one a couple weeks ago. Presto didn’t have a fly mask either, but I had bought one for him in my last Riding Warehouse order, guessing at his size.

For Henry I got the Rambo Plus fly mask, which I’m fairly certain might last him for the rest of his life. He’s turned out alone, so he’s pretty easy on his fly masks, and this thing is rugged. His old one was your cheap basic Cashel, which I thought worked fine for him. It always sat a little too close to his eyes for my taste though, especially when he’d rub his head (he is Mr. Allergies this time of year). So I opted this time for a design that holds the mask out well away from the eyes. It’s a good design idea, and it works. But he kinda looks like a walking spaceship.

“I am not amused” (please say this in a robotic 1950’s alien type of voice)

When I first put it on we all laughed and laughed and laughed at him. He looks absolutely ridiculous. The mask is so big. It definitely gets the job done though, the fabric sits several inches clear of his eyes. Starting this weekend he’ll be wearing it pretty much all the time, so I’ll review the Spaceship Mask at some point.

Presto is still growing super fast and his eyes don’t really jut out from his head quite like Henry’s do, so I opted to take the cheap route and bought him a Cashel. I had good luck with how long Henry’s had lasted, so I stuck with what I knew. Looking at their size options I figured surely the 15h baby warmblood would fit fine in the arab/cob size. I mean, that seems pretty typical. His dam wore cob size stuff as a yearling and 2yo. His leather halter is a cob (okay granted, it’s on it’s very tightest holes). His rope halter is arab sized, which actually fits him pretty perfectly with it’s smaller nose. He outgrew his “yearling” size rope halter at like 9 months old because of how long his head is.

Why do all of my horses wear their opinions on their faces? Side note – please note how we’re now fully clipped into crossties and it ain’t no thang.

But what I didn’t really take into account is just how narrow his head is and how little his jaw is. His head is long, sure, but it’s narrow. You can’t really tell from this angle, but the mask is huge around his jaw. It’s not even possible to make the velcro tight enough to where it’s anywhere near snug. I’m pretty sure that if he just shook his head, the whole thing would go flying. Not gonna work this year.

So yesterday as I was throwing fly spray and dewormer and salt blocks into my Riding Warehouse cart, I perused the flymasks and found that the Noble Outfitters small equates to yearling/large pony size and it was on sale. His head is just so much more TB-like than his dam’s was. I kind of forgot. He might be tall, but his head is comparatively little. So I tossed the teeny tiny Guardsman mask in the cart, and hopefully that’ll work. The design of it is sorta similar to the Rambo, just not nearly as extreme with how far out it stands away from the eyes.

okay he does have a little bitty nose

So now tiny-headed Presto has his own mini-spaceship mask coming. Can’t wait to see the look he gives me when I put that thing on him. I hope they understand that I do this out of love, not just to make them look hilariously dumb. That part is a bonus.

Image result for cackling gif

Last week my fly wipes arrived from EnviroEquine and I have to say, I think they’re working REALLY well so far. I’ve been wiping ears/faces/noses/legs with those and have definitely noticed way fewer flies on both boys. They’re especially great for Henry when we ride out in the fields – the head shaking is pretty much gone. The smell is a little funny, but as long as they work like this, I can live with it.

Headed into summer I have one more “care” issue I need to tackle – protecting Presto’s little white nose. He’ll only come inside during the heat of the day in the afternoon, so I’ll need to put something on his nose to keep it from getting sunburned the rest of the day. People with white nosed horses that live on the surface of the sun – what’s your favorite product for sun protection?

Presto the Show Horse

A few months ago when I was planning Presto’s move and subsequent, uh, life… I tentatively highlighted a couple of Future Event Horse shows that I might consider taking him to. Caveat being, since he’s a yearling, it would depend on how he looked at that particular moment in time. He’s a leggy, rangey, kinda scrawny looking type of guy. His large percentage of thoroughbred blood is obvious. While I personally think that’ll make him end up being a pretty great event horse type, right now it makes him look a bit like a baby giraffe. Sometimes llama.

He has great hair though

While most of the judges at FEH are able to see through stuff like that, it certainly doesn’t put him at his best for the whole in-hand showing thing when he’s in the middle of a particularly giraffey growth spurt. A couple weeks ago he actually was looking like the May 20th show might be possible. He’d filled out a lot, his neck was looking pretty normal, and he almost had a butt. Then, seemingly overnight, he grew another inch and everything went back to mega giraffe mode. Like… he’s cute from only a few very specific angles, and only if he stands very still. I love him, but it’s true. He’s hardcore in the teenage awkwards.

when mom left you tied IN the stall, but since you’re basically a piece of spaghetti you can contort yourself sideways through any opening

So, the May 20th FEH show is a no-go. I just have a hard time wanting to send in the entry and spend a couple hundred dollars when he’s not in a particularly attractive stage of growth. I thought about just saying screw it and taking him anyway, for the experience, but… it’s a long drive and a lot of money to spend for experience.

There’s another little show here in town this coming weekend at the place where I sometimes take Henry for laid back Combined Tests. It’s cheap, it’s a lot closer, and it still has plenty of hustle and bustle and LOTS to look at. More than the other show, honestly. They also offer one in hand class – “in hand trail”. Presto is definitely not a trail horse. I have never done a trail class in my life. I’m not even totally sure that I know what it is. I mean, Henry and I have wandered over to their trail course a couple times so he could snort at all the pool noodles (there are so many pool noodles) but that’s the extent of my education.

Naturally, I cackled wildly and signed Presto up for in hand trail.

when the show organizer finds the note you left in your online entry form

I mean, worst case scenario he won’t go near any of it and we “wasted” our $15. But they let you come school the course beforehand, so we’ll have a little time to snort and freak out at all the weirdness before I have to try to actually get him through the whole thing. I’ll be honest, if I can get him through it all, I’ll be shocked. It’ll be good for him, though.

Some of their trail course. Gonna go out on a limb here and say that the pool noodle curtain might be our undoing.

Last week I did set up a couple of little things with poles in our arena… a square that he had to pivot in, an L shape that he had to back through, and two barrels set about 4′ apart that I “sent” him through back and forth by himself. He understood all of it pretty much immediately, then a few horses neighed in the barn and he forgot his place in the world for a moment. A few corrections later, he remembered.

that face you make when you remember that you reside at the bottom of the totem pole

So I have no idea how any of this will go, but at the very least it will be good for him to get in the trailer and go somewhere alone, get to see the commotion of a show, and be expected to “perform” and pay attention in the midst of it all. It might be a long day for all of us. There will be a lot of those in the next 4 years.

As an aside, I texted the farrier yesterday to ask how Presto was for his trim and he said “Perfect! He gets a gold star.”. Majorly proud mom moment right there. He was not so good before and I’ve been working with him a lot, because I can’t friggin stand it when horses have bad farrier manners. He’s gotten to where he’s really good for me now, but you never know whether those manners will translate in the real world. Very glad he wasn’t a monkey (and so was the farrier)!

From ponies to dinosaurs

This past Saturday was the SO’s birthday. It was also the really cool charity eventing derby that was highlighted, capitalized, and underlined on my calendar. Plus Badminton and the KY Derby. Like, really, not a good time for a birthday, man. But I had been working on this really exceptional plan for over a month now, one that would allow me to go to the eventing derby and still not look like the world’s worst girlfriend. I admit, I generally AM pretty much the world’s worst girlfriend, but I always try to do well on birthdays to help make up for the other 364 days when I suck.

totally unrelated, but new favorite picture

My plan was great. It was plotted pretty much down the half hour, and would work out perfectly to where I could go to the eventing derby and still not lose any face. The SO’s friends were going to take him to this punk festival thing during the day on Saturday, I was going to do the derby, and then we were going to meet up for dinner and drinks afterwards. Sunday and Monday I had planned a whole mini-vacation for us together. It was gonna work out totally fine.

And then the punk festival got cancelled.

And then on Friday morning one of the guys that works with me said “Don’t forget I’m out on Monday”. My head whipped around and I said “No you’re not, I’m out on Monday.”. There are only 3 of us in our department, it’s a big problem for more than one of us to be out at a time. Like… to be avoided except in cases of extreme emergency.

Image result for ruined gif parks and rec

Turns out that he submitted his PTO request online, but never wrote it on our big “department” calendar that we all use to see everyone else’s days off. So when I went to check the calendar before I submitted my online request, it showed no one else being off. Our boss didn’t catch that we’d both submitted PTO for that day. Well SHIT. I am technically the lead, so… I let the other guy have Monday.

That meant that I had to scratch the derby and rearrange all of our Sunday/Monday plans over to Saturday/Sunday. I was not a happy person. I was also a very stressed-out person, especially when I couldn’t move my camping reservation at the state park because there were no available spots for Saturday. After a lot of frantic googling I was able to book us a spot elsewhere, and got everything else moved too. I was really really sad sending that email about having to scratch the derby though.

Saturday we loaded up and headed out toward Glen Rose, about 2 1/2 hours north of us. We stopped along the way in a small town for breakfast, where I tried to really discreetly watch the Badminton XC feed on my phone (because see above about bad girlfriend).

this is subtle, right?

I didn’t feel that bad, he spent the whole time replying to facebook “happy birthday” messages on his phone. Then we finished our drive up to Glen Rose and hit Dinosaur Valley State Park, did some hiking, and looked at the dinosaur tracks in the river bed.

After that it was over to a brewery. I hate beer and hate breweries even more, but the SO is a mega beer nerd, so I just sat there and people-watched (OKAY FINE I WATCHED BADMINTON REPLAYS) while he drank beer.

Then we went to dinner (where I might have also watched the live stream of the KY Derby in a slightly too-loud way. Look, this is the best I can do. This tiger can’t change her stripes.), followed by a trip to the local soda fountain for a malt.

That night we camped in a little RV park I found online. The SO is the one who bought the trunk tent for me in the first place, yet he had never stayed in it. He said he liked it, but I’m 99.9% sure he’s totally lying and would prefer to never stay in it again. He didn’t listen to me about which clothes to bring and ended up freezing his butt off overnight. He’s definitely more of the AirBnB type than the truck tent type. You know what I mean.

Sunday morning after breakfast we went to Dinosaur World, a little park nearby that has bigass dinosaur statues, fossils, and a little museum. Apparently people don’t come there much without kids, because the ticket guy was pretty sure that we were in the wrong place. Can’t a gal just like dinosaurs?

I mean
so realistic. much fancy.

After that we headed home, with a quick stop at a Tractor Supply along the way to get treats for Henry and alfalfa pellets for Presto. We were home early enough that I had time to go fit in another ponying session with the boys while it was still daylight. And there were enough puddles leftover from Friday’s rain to where we were able to drag Presto through some of them. Sorry not sorry, baby event horse.


Today the boys get pedicures (because yeah sure, why not go ahead and write the farrier a fat check just days after writing my first double board check – who needs money?) so we’ll find out how Presto is for the farrier. He’s had trims before, with mixed success, but I’ve been working with him a lot since he got here, so I’m hoping he’s polite. Or at least not a total hellion.

Still really really sad to have missed the show this past weekend, especially because it feels like I haven’t seen anyone in forever, but there are a few more things on the docket in the next month before everything comes to a grinding halt for the summer. Hopefully none of those plans get hijacked too.

Friday Musings

I had a much longer, semi-intelligent post drafted for today but I’m too tired for that level of editing, proofreading, and discussion right now. Can’t. Instead you get all the ramblings of the stuff that’s going through my head at the moment. Yeah, it’s okay if you run away now.

Image result for run away gif
Side note, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is still one of the most brilliant movies ever made. There, I said it. 

First of all, I feel like I should address something.

It’s okay to disagree with me. You don’t have to post comments under fake names or try to hide your IP address (WordPress is better at tracking that than you think, anyway 😉 ) or whatever else. If I couldn’t handle criticism, scrutiny, and dissent, I wouldn’t be a blogger and put my life on blast. I’m always open to rational, polite discussion, either here or privately. My contact page is always open, so to speak. Granted, if you come at me with a lot of caps and a boatload of exclamation marks, I’ll probably ignore you. Otherwise though, I love having a good conversation from someone who sees things differently than I do. Just want to make sure I’m clear on that. And, for the record – no, I don’t support a total zero tolerance blood rule, but I do think something needs to be done. IMO a yellow card system is better and more appropriate.

Heavy stuff out of the way, if you guys aren’t watching the Badminton live stream you’re really missing out. They’ve always got THE BEST commentary, it’s worth watching just for that alone. The Brits, they are cheeky as hell and brutally honest, but still somehow manage to not come off as catty or rude. You have to love it. My favorite comments from yesterday were “The horse stood on his hind legs, waving his front legs in the air very elegantly…” and “really lovely piaffe”.

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unfortunately this is not part of the 4* dressage test
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neither is this

The XC course this year looks pretty smart, I’m interested to see how everything plays out. I’ll be rooting for MJ & Sam, the two by Ramiro B (Cooley SRS and Cooley Earl), and Lauren Kieffer of course. Watching her performance on Vermiculus last weekend was inspiring (clearly they have a great partnership, I love it) and she deserves a little bit of vindication with Veronica.

It also just occurred to me that the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow. I watched a few of the prep races, mostly by accident, but otherwise have not kept up with racing at all this season. On a very selfish, superficial level, I’ll be rooting for Audible. I admit it, I want the free American Pharoah audiobook.


I’ve been going a little nuts on Audible lately. I drive a lot, so it works. I’m almost done with James Comey’s book (whether you like him or not, it has been really illuminating, I have to say) and have Joe Biden’s, Trevor Noah’s, and one of Buck Brannaman’s up in the queue. That’s something like 24 hours worth of audiobooks, which sadly won’t really take me that long to get through. Sometimes I feel like I live in my truck. There is a busy weekend ahead, with least 12 hours total on the road. Any other must-download books that I should check out? For audiobooks I really prefer either true crime or autobiography/memoir types. I read fiction on my kindle. Can’t freakin stand how most of them are narrated.

Have a good weekend everyone! Who are you rooting for in the Derby and at Badders?