It’s in the blood: WEG edition

If you’ve read this blog more than like… once before, it’s probably no secret that I am a huge nerd about all things breeding related. I tend to watch every live stream with a pedigree database open in another window, looking up every horse. For WEG I decided to take it a few hundred steps farther and make an actual spreadsheet, so I could see all the horses together and pull some stats. It’s possible that I spent far too many hours doing this, but I regret nothing.

These stats are for just the eventing horses at WEG. I threw out the couple of horses that I could not find any reliable damline information on, lest they skew things incorrectly – they aren’t included in any stats. That left us with a field of 81.

WEG

Why it’s important to look at the pedigree and not the registry

Irish Sporthorse and Selle Francais are the most represented breed registries with 14 horses each. Of the 14 Irish horses, only 5 of these are of “traditional” Irish breeding – ie some mix of Irish Draught and Thoroughbred, with no European warmblood. One is WB x TB with no traditional Irish blood, leaving the remaining 8 to be some mixture of ID/ISH x TB x WB.

On the flip side, all 14 of the Selle Francais registered horses have Selle Francais blood, with only 3 of those not being completely of French descent.

QuorryBlue
Selle Francais Qorry Blue d’Argouges

Several of the same stallions show up repeatedly throughout the field

Heraldik xx shows up in the pedigree of four different horses, three times as the sire (the most of any in the field) and once as the damsire.

Contender shows up five times: four times as the sire’s sire and once as the sire’s grandsire. His son Contendro is the sire of 2 horses and the sire’s sire of one.

Irco Marco shows up 4 times, two of which are through his son Irco Mena.

Diamant de Semilly, Jaguar Mail, and Jumbo are represented by two direct offspring each.

Quidam de Revel and Landgraf show up somewhere in the first four generations a remarkable 6 times each. Ramiro shows up 5 times in the same span.

Chipmunk
Chipmunk FRH, the leader after day 1 of dressage, is by Contendro. He was also a Bundeschampionate winner.

Thoroughbred/Arab/AA blood is still important

The average “blood” percentage for the WEG field is 62% (highest – 100%, lowest – 27%).

72% of the field has at least 50% blood.

37% (30 horses) have at least one FULL thoroughbred parent.

Of those 30 horses, 17 are F1 crosses between a WB and a TB. 7 have the thoroughbred parent as the sire, and 10 have the thoroughbred parent as the dam.

Five horses are full thoroughbred.

The most represented American thoroughbred is Danzig, showing up in the first 4 generations in 5 different horses. Sir Gaylord and Nijinsky also make multiple appearances.

HenriZ
Henri Z, by Heraldik xx 

The influence of the registries known to produce mostly showjumpers is evident

47% have Holsteiner blood in the first 4 generations of their pedigree.

41% have Selle Francais in the first 4 generations of their pedigree.

19% have both Holsteiner AND Selle Francais in the first 4 generations.

Joris Vanspringel - (BEL)
BWP-registered Imperial van de Holtakkers is by SF stallion Quidam de Revel out of a Holsteiner damline going back to Landgraf and Ramiro.

The FEI Young Horse classes have a pretty high success rate

51% of the field (42 horses) competed in FEI Young horse classes – ie 1* for 6yo’s and/or 2* for 7yo’s. Of those, 28 horses (so 34% of the entire field) competed at the World Young Event Horse Championships at Lion d’Angers.

Toledo
Toledo de Kerser, 2nd in the 7yo World Championships at Lion d’Angers 2* in 2014

My general takeaways:

The average blood percentage is lower than I would have thought. I want to break down a “real” top level event like Burghley or Badminton… I have a feeling the average blood percentage would be higher for an event like that.

Having been a pedigree stalker for a long time, none of the stallions that show up over and over again are surprising to me. However, I was a little surprised at the strong showing from the Selle Francais in general. There are more than I thought.

The F1 cross of a warmblood stallion to a TB mare has kind of gotten a bad rap in this country for being a lower quality cross, but these stats show that it certainly can and does work when it comes to breeding event horses. 

The fact that Holsteiner blood shows up in the first 4 generations of almost half the field yet only 6 of the horses are actually registered Holsteiner shows how important these bloodlines have been across a wide variety of warmblood registries.

Lastly, despite the fact that some of us may wince at the idea of a 6yo competing 1* or a 7yo competing 2*, clearly it works when it comes to producing upper level horses. Over half of these horses have come up through that path and continued up the levels to find success. And 1/3 of them having competed at Lion d’Angers – that’s a big chunk!

If anyone is actually still reading by this point… what are your takeaways from this? Anything surprising?

The Horse You Bought

I’ve really been enjoying this blog hop topic, started by Cathryn at Two and Half Horses. Reading everyone else’s posts, seeing what their horses looked like when they bought them compared to where they are now… who doesn’t love progression stories?

With Presto, there isn’t much of a story. The horse I bought was in this format:

Image result for horse frozen straw

Technically Presto was a lil’ sperm that was frozen in France, imported, stored here for a few years, then shipped to Texas, thawed out, and put into my mare. I even got to see the swimmers under the microscope when they were thawed. Who knows, maybe one of the ones I saw was him. Pretty weird little fairy tale, right? Now THAT is a sight unseen horse purchase.

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that moment when your completely insane decisions are 100% worth it, because omg he was cute

We’ve been through way more than is normal in the past 18 months (omg guys he’s just a few days away from being 18 months old, can you believe it???) but he is so much freakin fun. Even when he’s having a tantrum. I remain quite pleased with how he’s maturing, despite the fact that he looks like a llama/giraffe/moose hybrid about 90% of the time. I see a nice horse in there, and I hope I’m right.

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yesterday afternoon – almost 18 months!

Of course, Henry’s story is probably fairly well-known, at least partly, to most of you by now. He too was a sight-unseen purchase, but at least he actually existed when I bought him. I had kind of been looking (online, via facebook) at a horse at a farm in Arkansas, when the owner told me about another gelding that she had available for even cheaper. I was looking for a resale project, so cheap was important. This one had been sitting in the field for about a year, and had been a bit brain-fried before that, but before that he had done a hunter show once. Believe it or not, that made him less green than most of my horses have been. His name was Jerry, and he was a 6yo TB. It just so happened that a friend of mine from Dallas was headed up that exact farm that very afternoon to pick up a mare that she had bought, and the owner said that if Jerry went on the trailer with the mare, he was mine for $900. All I had seen at that point was a few pictures and a short video, but I liked his pedigree (I’ve always had the best luck with the Danzig line) and I just had a good feeling about him.

Jerry2
perfect photo to purchase a horse off of, don’t you think?

I sent the money over to her via Paypal, and she rushed him to the vet to get a current coggins, then he essentially unloaded from her trailer and onto my friends trailer, to make the trek to Texas. My friend brought him to her farm, and I drove up the next day from Austin to get him. Quickest, most impulsive, least-strings-attached horse purchase ever. Also not at all the way that I would recommend anyone else buy a horse.

Day1
Henry, Day 1.

I really didn’t even know what he looked like until I got him home that night and pulled his blanket off. He was SO FAT, and he was hairy and scruffy, but he seemed intelligent and had a good brain. Jerry soon became Henry… new start, new name. The first few rides showed me that he was very willing, but indeed seemed pretty brain-fried. It took months for me to really be able to put my leg on him without him exploding, and I ended up riding him in a hackamore for a while to basically “start over” with the concept of a bit, since he wanted to constantly curl up nose-to-chest at any hint of contact. He was always very honest though, and wanted to do his job.

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a few months later at a TB show

We started in the jumpers, working up to 3′. Then we ended up at a barn with an eventing trainer, who convinced us (didn’t take much arm-twisting, I’ll be honest) to come out with them for an XC schooling day. From there, it was all over. Henry LOVED cross country, and although I had evented for a few years in the early 2000’s, I had kind of forgotten how great it was until I found myself sitting on this horse. We did a little local eventing derby that fall, which he won by being the only horse with a clean XC, and then promptly signed up for our first horse trial at BN.

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Beginner Novice Henry at his first event

Everything was really a foregone conclusion from there. We both loved this game, and he was pretty good at it (well, the dressage part was sketchy on a horse that still wasn’t super keen about leg or contact – we did a lot of faking it). The next year we qualified for AEC at BN, winning the Adult Team Challenge and finishing 10th individually.

 

Omg, he was so cute. Also, undeniable proof that I have always leaned.

We’ve had a few setbacks since then (like that summer he fractured his leg) but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. This horse has been so freaking fun, and taught me so much. He made me fall in love with eventing again, and is trying his best to make me a better rider. For the first couple of years I was definitely the “teacher” in our relationship, but now it kind of feels like the tables have turned and he’s the one teaching me. At this point he is definitely the most educated and experienced horse I have ever had, by a mile.

TR17XC4

As far as a resale project goes, he was obviously a massive failure. Not because of him or anything he did, but because of me. I fell in love with him, and at this point I owe him more than I could ever possibly repay. He will never be for sale. When we started eventing, I never ever thought we could go above Novice, or that I would even want to go above Novice. Training was such a distant dream that it may as well have been the Olympics. Those jumps made me want to pee myself. So to be solidly cruising around T, and maybe eyeballing Prelim at some point… it’s mindblowing to even consider. He’s been such an opportunity for me in so many ways, to improve myself and my riding.

These days he doesn’t look much like the horse I bought, at least on the outside. He is considerably less hairy and more fit, although that goofy face has stayed the same. I think his brain is a lot happier now, too. The heart though… that’s always been kind and genuine, and still is.

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happiest ears in the business

I hope that we’re still toward the beginning of our journey, and that I’m lucky enough to enjoy many more years and surpass many more expectations with this horse. Either way, he’s been the best surprise of my life.

Singing in the Rain

Most of the time when we get rain in Texas, it seems to come in one big deluge and then it’s bone dry again for a month. Over the past week we’ve gotten a few inches of rain, but steadily, a little bit every day. I am loving it.

So is this pigapotamus 

Our previously rock hard and crunchy brown pastures are lush and green and perfectly soft again. It rains just enough every day to keep the ground springy instead of making it slick. It’s so rare to have this many days in a row of perfect footing… usually it’s a day or two between soggy and hard. Plus the weather has cooled down significantly, with highs in the lower to mid 80’s instead of 95-100. This means I can go back to riding in the afternoons again, giving me more time to spend at the barn.

Headed out for canter sets (which he bucked and squealed his way through, because Henny is also a fan of cooler weather)

On Monday there had been a pretty hard deluge just before I got to the barn, and I arrived to find lots of puddles on the driveway. Eventers: what do puddles look like to you? Miniature water jumps, right? I know I’m not the only one…

So I decided this was the perfect time to continue Presto’s water education. First I tied him in the arena while I did a bareback dressage ride on Henry (that’s totally a thing) which caused a fairly hilarious but short lived temper tantrum.

MAD

I looked at him out of the corner of my eye during some canter-trot-canter transitions just in time to see him very angrily pawing just before he tried to lay down in protest. Sure kid, go for it. That doesn’t work so well when you’re high-tied, even if you are a baby giraffe. He finally resorted to just standing there looking pissed.

Once he was done being a moron, I ponied him down the road with Henry.

I guess he’s seen enough water by now to not be impressed by it anymore, because he walked right through all the puddles. He tried to roll in one of them, but I didn’t let him, so he just stood there and pouted some more. He’s in a very angsty, emo, pouty, “life isn’t fair” phase right now. It’s kind of hilarious.

The only bummer about all the rain is that the horses aren’t getting turned out at night, since there are so many random pop-up storms. Day turnout is only about 8 hours. I’ve been taking the opportunity to shove a ton of extra hay into Presto (who eats hay faster than any horse I’ve ever seen in my life) but he still just looks growthy as hell. Definitely growing again. Also his butt is getting really hairy already. Why are all my horses total yaks?

It seems like most of the country is getting rain right now… what’s it been like in your neck of the woods? Are you drowning or is it feeling more like Fall? I hope everyone in the path of the hurricane is able to get somewhere safe!

 

A collection of asses

I dunno what has happened lately, but considering that I own exactly ZERO donkeys, my life sure does seem a lot more donkey-centric than it should be.

This is Bob.

First of all, Presto lives with a couple mini donkeys. They’ve been his pasturemates since he came to this barn, and it’s actually worked out pretty well for him. He doesn’t seem to see them as “equals” so he’s not attached to them at all, and they can’t really inflict any damage on him when they’re playing.

If you’re asking me, though, these donkeys… they’re kind of jerks. Bob, the bigger one, is a biter, and in a sneaky way. More than once he’s snuck up behind me and grabbed my pocket, or my shirt. He’s persistent, too, and tries to insert himself into the middle of whatever I’m there to do. It’s not that easy to tie a rope halter on the distracted yearling when you’ve got a miniature donkey doing his best shark impression right at waist-level.

Sometimes I feel sorry for the donkeys but honestly they kind of deserve it

Then there’s Dudley, the smaller mini donkey. He tends to try to steer clear of Presto as much as possible. Probably because Presto has decided that Dudley is really fun to chase, and I’ve seen him out there running Dudley’s fat ass in circles on more than one occasion. But Dudley is also a master escape artist, and if I don’t chain the gate shut behind me in exactly the right way, that little shit will be out of the pasture and GONE in 2 seconds flat. One morning I got to chase him around in the dark for 20 friggin minutes until I could get him cornered.

Then there’s Henry, who has no regular contact with donkeys, yet is somehow ridiculously obsessed with him. The few times I’ve let him sniff noses with the mini-donks at the barn, he’s been… um… very attracted to them. Henry thought he was definitely a stallion, and those donkeys were the prettiest things he’d ever laid eyes on. Luckily he pretty much never sees them in his day to day life.

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Pretends to not care about anything. Cares a lot about donkeys.

Then, this past weekend, Henry had a complete and total meltdown over some donkeys. After we were done XC schooling I hauled him over to my friends place nearby, so we could stay the night. We turned him out in the paddock next to a couple horses and donkeys, and Henry proceeded to lose his marble (there’s only one in there, I’m pretty sure). The horses came up to the fence to say hi and Henry completely ignored them, staring past them toward the donkeys. Eventually those two finally wandered up to say hi to him as well, and Henry was OMG SO EXCITED ABOUT DONKEY FRIENDS.

Then the donkeys quickly lost interest and wandered away, and Henry’s meltdown began. He was running laps and screaming as if we’d just taken away and murdered all of his friends in the entire world. They were all of 30′ away at the time, mind you. He ran himself up into a sweat, so finally I had to just lock him up in a stall before he hurt himself. All these donkeys around and the Biggest Ass award goes to Henry. Clearly he is not mature enough to handle donkey neighbors. He didn’t give a shit about any of the horses, but he spent all night on-and-off pacing his stall and screaming for those donkeys. What. Even.

All of this drama seems to, OF COURSE, have triggered an ulcery reaction in Henry, who picked at his dinner the past couple days in a way that Henry never ever does unless his tummy isn’t happy. Great, just great. I think this time I’m gonna try to get the injectable omeprazole and see how that works… anyone used that yet?

Henry is officially banned from donkeys forever.

And all this wet weather has caused a leak in Presto’s outside stall, so he’s in the main barn for a while, which means I don’t have to deal with the donkeys when I go get him out of his stall. Fine by me, I’m about donkey-ed out at the moment. Horses are dumb. So are donkeys.

Halfway Washout

Nothing like making riding plans for both days of the weekend and then checking the forecast only to see 90% chance of rain both days. Luckily for me, they were only halfway right.

What a terribly dreadful Saturday morning

The main objective of the weekend was a jumper show on Sunday, which Trainer and some of her students were going to. She told me to enter the three Prelim-height classes, which left me going “Ugh, I have to learn three different courses, really? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.”. Which shows just how far removed I’ve now gotten from my h/j roots. But at least I wasn’t feeling dread about the height or anything… maybe that’s progress? Then she texted and said “Funday at Pine Hill on Saturday too, if you’re in!”. You will never ever ever have to ask me twice about a funday at Pine Hill. Yeah we had just been there on Monday to XC school, but we got cut short because of lightning. There were a few more things I wanted to school, so hell yeah, let’s go hang out with some friends and finish what we started.

Captain Zoomypants, reporting for duty.

I think Henry is liking this “XC school once a week” kick that we’ve been on. Three weeks in a row and he’s thinking that finally I’ve figured out the secret to a happy life. He’ll be sad to realize that this was only a temporary stroke of luck.

After a couple warmup fences we headed to the same Prelim downhill drop/bending line thing that we did last week, but this time we had to do the 4 instead of the adding 5. That meant I had to keep his stride open down the steep hill but still reeeeeally keep his balance back so we didn’t literally die over the log pile at the bottom. We managed to get it right on the first try, which we’ll totally pretend was due to skill and not to the fact that when we started I was like “Okay Henry we’re doing that drop line again, and we need to get 4 this time.”. I’m 99% certain he understands.

After that we jumped the Time Warp combo again, smoothing out the curve and also leaving out the extra stride we had put in on Monday. Those Prelim combo’s, man… they are forward.

PHXCTimewarp
Again I told him the plan on the way to the jumps, and he did it.

From there we went to the crater again, with the log pile down into the crater, around the blind corner to a skinny. Henny’s got that down pat almost to the point of being cocky about it.

HIS EARS THOUGH

After that I asked if we could go to the boat… it’s a table that literally has a boat on the front face. This jump had caused a ton of trouble at the spring recognized show, so I was curious about how it rode. The jump itself isn’t bad, but you basically come blasting out of the woods and have to make a REALLY sharp turn to the right in order to catch the table. I can see how it would be easy to skirt right past it when you’re going Prelim speed. I basically had to set Henry on his butt and square the turn out of the woods so we could get straight to it, but we popped over it fine.

Me, coming out of the woods: HENRY, THE BOAT!

I have to be honest, I didn’t feel like I was riding particularly well that day. Some days all the distances just come right up, no problem, and I mostly execute what I’m supposed to do, and my brain actually feels like things are firing and my body is responding correctly. This wasn’t one of those days. I felt kinda floppy and discombobulated and my eye was  off. BUT… it’s good to know that even on a day where things aren’t clicking as well as they can, we can still answer the questions. Henry was definitely stepping in and making up for my shortcomings, which is good to know that he can still do at the bigger fences. Granted, I would also really like to have fewer non-clicking days so that Henry’s job is a little easier.

After the boat we went to the water, which I had to do twice because the first time was just a bit sticky and underpowered. I was on such a roll with the water for a long time, but I think since my horse is so good about water, maybe I’ve gotten a little more complacent. I still have to ride in a bit more aggressively. We went up to the bank combo after that and kinda the same thing. First time through was just kind of flat and blah, so we had to do it again. I think it didn’t help that by this point Henry was pretty hot. The humidity was killer, and he just doesn’t handle it. But also… I wasn’t helping enough.

 

We had a really big group with us (because FUNDAY) so they got some video. Thanks guys!

Afterward we hung out and ate food, and Henry went back with me to a friends house so we could stay the night there and hit the jumper show the next day, since it was nearby. And then they cancelled the jumper show, which is fair because it definitely DID rain on Sunday.

Hauling back the next morning – it was so dark and raining so hard that my camera switched itself to night vision

But hey, at least we got to enjoy one nice day, and another fun XC outing. Things are feeling pretty decent in the XC department (at least, ya know, when I’m not riding like a sack of potatoes) so we definitely need to focus on the showjumping. That’s for sure our weakest phase at the moment. Hopefully this rainy weather will go away and we can at least get some lessons, because the fall shows are OPEN and it’s time to start sending entries in!

Team Halter vs Team Bridle

Very serious, very important post for Friday, guys. I need to decide what Presto will wear for FEH Championships. We have the option of halter or bridle for yearlings, and he’s shown in both now. I can’t quite decide which one is my preference.

PrestoHalter1

PrestoHalter2

The halter is a Kavalkade Ivy, black with a unique shape, white stitching, and chrome hardware. I have a black leather with chrome hardware lead shank that goes with it (not in the photos, obviously). I do like the simplicity of a halter, as does Presto. It gives me a tad bit less control when it comes to handling, but not enough to where I think it makes much of a difference.

 

PrestoBridle1

PrestoBridle2

His bridle is dark brown with dark brown stitching, very plain and simple, from the Lund Saddlery eventer series. It’s a bit tight at the crown/brow but totally workable. With this I’d be using a dark brown newmarket shank like this, or I could use reins. He can sometimes get a bit chompy in the bit, but with how distracted he’ll be in the ring, I doubt that would be an issue.

I’m pretty torn. They both have their pros and cons, and I can’t really decide which looks better. His ears look freaking GIANT in both. Oh wait, that’s because they are.

If it makes a difference, I’m wearing a black polo/helmet/gloves with khakis.

Which would you pick?

 

An Accumulation of Discounted Goods

See how much better that sounds than “all the shit I bought during the Labor Day Sales”?

Image result for fancy gif

Really though, I think I was quite restrained. I did place a Riding Warehouse order of course (which I already got yesterday!) although I talked myself out of a few things.  I loaded up on my usual salt blocks, a new clipper blade for my Listers (WINTER IS COMING), a couple of cheap boot trees because I keep trying to be more of an adult and take better care of my stuff, a pair of foxy D&S socks, and an Equifit boot organizer for the trailer.

With show season and it’s accompanying money purge coming up just around the corner, I talked myself out of the brown TraumaVoid helmet for now. I was feeling a lot of peace with that decision until I went back to the RW website 5 freaking seconds ago to grab the link to it and saw that they’re now on sale. And not only are they on sale, you get a $25 gift card with a helmet purchase. WTF Riding Warehouse. Why are you doing this to me?

It matches my Ego7 boots perfectly and I want it SO BAD.

At one point I also had a black pair and a white pair of the Horze Grand Prix breeches in my cart, but talked myself out of both even though with the sale plus the multi-pair discount, it brought them to $73 each.

I’m having a lot of regrets right now, guys. Help me.

What I did take full advantage of was the Aerie underwear sale. 10 pairs for $35? I’m in. I really like their seamless ones for riding, and they have like 5 different shades of “nude”. No way in heck I’m paying the normal $12 per pair price, but at $3.50 a pop, I’m down. I definitely needed more of those, because I am inevitably always one pair short at a horse show and end up wearing something neon under my whites. I’m that person. But it won’t happen anymore because now I have a bunch.

Other than those two online sales, I was doing really well. At least until Tuesday when I met Hillary for lunch and she said she needed to stop into Dover afterward. The only thing I’m really interested in, when it comes to the Dover store, is the sale rack. Usually there’s nothing great to be had, but every once in a while there’s something really cheap that I can’t pass up.

tackshop

And this time, as luck would have it, there were two knit show shirts, navy and gray, in my size, marked down from $99 to $19.99. I have the green version of this shirt and really like it, so there’s just no way I was going to be able to resist that. I didn’t even try. I just plucked them off the rack and kept walking, barely a pause in my stride.

I have a weird obsession with show shirts. For some reason I have nine of them, which is more than a little absurd for an eventer. There’s no scenario in which I would need more than 2 per horse show. At some point I should probably go through and sell some of the ones I don’t wear as much.

Did y’all get anything good in the Labor Day sales? It just occurred to me that the next big sale event will be BLACK FRIDAY… I don’t think I’m ready for that yet.

Smart and Sensitive

It seems like, a lot of times, when you say a horse is “smart and sensitive”, a lot of people take those things to be negative. I suppose if you want a horse that’s a bit dopey and a kick ride, then yes, smart and sensitive are probably not what you’re after. But to me, they’re good qualities. I like a horse that is naturally forward thinking, responsive, light, retains lessons well, and can think for itself a bit. So when I say that I’m noticing that Presto is smart and sensitive, I’m totally okay with that. It’s why I wanted all that thoroughbred blood in there, after all.

All legs and sideeye

The next big step in Presto’s training will probably be long-lining and ground driving. With that in mind, I’ve started laying down some of the prep work so we can gradually work up to that. He already knows the basics on how to move his body away from pressure, and we’ve been working on voice commands (at least cluck and whoa) for a while. This past Saturday he wore a surcingle for a first time, and we introduced the word “trot”. Or as I like to say it to horses: “TER-ROT”. Because I’m weird. I dunno, I just think it’s more clear and positive sounding. As a voice command I’ve said it that way forever. Look, I already said I’m weird ok?

Before we got to the surcingle, I flopped a saddle pad all over him. He’s worn them before, with me just casually tossing one over his back sometimes. But this time we did a more formal “sacking out”, if you’d like to call it that. I flopped that thing around all over him, from nose to tail to hoof, tossing it high and low and slow and fast. He was a little concerned the first time it walloped him in the butt, but his feet stayed still. After that I tossed the surcingle on and off a few times, then let it hang while he investigated.

all of his “investigations” happen with his mouth, btw

He was still unconcerned, so I went to fasten up the surcingle, but… um… he’s so scrawny. Even with it all the way up on both sides, I had a huge gap. So off I trudged into the barn to get a half pad. Or two. Yep, definitely two. With both of them stacked I could at least get the surcingle snug enough to where he could walk and trot around without the whole thing sliding right off. Poor kid. It’s hard being a yearling.

I was laughing at him. He wasn’t amused.

But he packed it around with no complaints, almost looking bored. So we incorporated our TER-ROT voice command, going from trot to walk to trot to walk and back again several times. He caught on really quickly, and after a few repetitions, saying “trot” was all it took to get him stepping off promptly into trot.

We’ve also been working a lot more in-depth on moving away from pressure. He’s known since he was a kiddo that a pressure on his side means move over and pressure on his chest means move back. Now we’re refining that a bit, using much lighter cues, and getting more specific to the area of his body that I want him to move, and in which direction, and how far. Presto is incredibly sensitive about that and is quick to respond to even the lightest pressure.

After that we worked on his ground tying skills, which are… uh… not so strong. It’s a lot to ask of a yearling colt. Especially one that’s always looking for something to DO. Asking him to just stand and not DO is a lot tougher than the opposite. He got a couple minutes of standing still though, so we’ll call that a win for now. He tried. Sorta.

halp, I is being abused

The more I ask of him, the more it feels like I’m kind of peeling back layers of Presto’s personality and getting to know him a little bit better. These days I can usually predict how he’s going to respond to something, and guess which things might upset him the most or get more of a reaction from him. I also see that he’s got a good work ethic, and a strong desire to do find the right answer. He’s not lazy, he learns fast, and he retains his lessons amazingly well. He even seems to look forward to his “work”. There is definitely a stubborn/naughty streak in there though, and it comes out sometimes when he’s thought about something for a while and decided that maybe he knows a better way. Luckily at this point it doesn’t take much to dissuade him. That might get a little tougher with age.

Naughty animal

He now also knows what “ENNNNHHHH!!!” means. Mostly because he learned that if he stands on the hose, no water comes out, so he would very deliberately look for it and then stomp. “ENNNHHHHH” is his “I see you, you little shit, and you better not!” warning to cease and desist before he gets in real trouble. I also had to start clipping him into the crossties differently because he figured out if he swung his head around a certain way, he could eventually work his halter over an ear. Okay, so maybe smart has it’s downsides.

Eventually we’ll put the long lines on (with a halter) and get him understanding that whole deal, but there’s no rush. Right now it’s time to shift the focus back on his in-hand stuff a bit more, since FEH Champs are right around the corner. Of course, after almost a whole month of looking like a relatively normal horse, his neck is starting to look like it’s been put on upside down again. Usually that precedes a really awkward growth spurt. I have no doubt that’s exactly what he’s planning on doing in the next few weeks. Maybe I should have entered the Future Event Camel Championships instead?

Getting Used to Green

Not green as in horses… I’ve been used to green horses for most of my riding life. What IS a newer concept in my world, though, are green numbers. Aka Prelim fences. We’ve jumped a smattering of them over the past couple years, usually the smallest ones or parts of a combo… ie not really a true Prelim question. The first real Prelim-sized fence we jumped was the bigass wagon, at Pine Hill last winter. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever actually have the balls to jump that thing, but Henny just pinged right over.

PHPWagon
it doesn’t look as stupid as it used to

The past couple XC schools, we’ve actually been adding in more Prelim fences. And not just single fences, but combinations. Real, actual Prelim questions in their entirety. Granted, we’ve schooled at venues that have what I would call softer Prelim courses, so they’re not as hardcore or intimidating as you might see at a more stout venue. Both of these places run recognized shows though, so… they count.

I’ve waffled back and forth on the Prelim thing a lot. It’s a huge step up, it’s a lot harder, a lot bigger, and the room for error is considerably less. It’s the level at which I think things start getting stupid, and the consequences for mistakes are generally more serious. I’m not a fearful rider, but I’ve never been sure if my balls were big enough for that. Of course, if I’m being 100% honest, there is also nothing I would love more than to get to the point where I can run a Prelim on Henry. Even if it’s just a time or two, even if it’s just the “soft” ones, and even if all we do is Complete in a totally unspectacular way. I think Henry deserves the title of Prelim Horse, and I’d be lying if I tried to deny the fact that I want him to have it. I’ve had (and still have) plenty of doubts though, mostly in my own ability.

Sometimes I still try to throw him over warmup fences. Clearly he is unimpressed by both me and this house.

So these past couple schoolings, where we’ve pointed at real Prelim fences, Prelim combinations at that, and been successful – they’re confidence boosters. Because we know we can jump the height, but it’s the combinations where the weaknesses come out. We still have a hell of lot of work to do at Training, of course, that’s for freaking sure. The stadium definitely needs help and I need to be better in general at… literally everything. But I’m feeling a little more confident that maybe someday we might actually leave the startbox headed for the green numbers of Prelim. Maybe I won’t even piss myself in the process. Nah, j/k, I’ll definitely piss myself if that ever happens. I am never nervous in the startbox but I think that would finally be the time.

Yesterday we headed down to Pine Hill to school. It is a very rare, almost unheard of occasion for me to be able to XC school twice in a week a half, but I definitely can’t pass up the opportunity when it presents itself. The more we can get out there and do it, the better. Plus it’s clearly been way too long since I’ve been to Pine Hill, considering they changed the course in April and I still hadn’t seen it.

We warmed up over the little houses, then moved on to the big mound. The old Prelim route was a log with a big downhill drop landing, down the steep hill to a pile of logs on a bending line. That little log looks so cute and innocent when you canter up to it, then you’re in the air going “Oh wow I have really underestimated this hill”. Henny was a little surprised by it too. From there we went to a right hand bending line combination of fences with a skinnier jumpable face on the left side. They’re an interesting shape, and tall but not very wide. On the course maps, the first fence of the combination is called the Time Warp and then the second one is called Let’s do the Time Warp Again. Anything that’s named after something from The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a-ok by me.

“It’s just a jump to the left… 
And then a step to the right”

By this point a big line of storms was starting to bear down on us, and we were trying to speed things along. Henry and I jumped through the crater, which had a rampy log pile landing in the crater, with a right hand turn to a skinny that came up pretty fast off of a relatively blind turn. XC Henry is generally like riding a jump-seeking missile though. If you point him somewhere near it, he will find it.

After the crater we headed to the Irish bank. Yes, the same Irish bank that made Henry, the XC savant, have a total brain meltdown last year. He just really didn’t understand that question at all, for whatever reason. This time they had it flipped around, so it was jumping the other way. The “in” side was a bit bigger bank with a ditch in front of it, and then the “out” was a log on top of the bank. Whether it’s the extra experience he’s gotten since then, or the change in direction, he seemed to understand it perfectly this time and jumped through it with no problem. That’s a definite relief.

From there we were on our way to the water when it started raining, which was quickly followed by lightning and thunder. That put an end to the day, as all of us on course made a mass exodus to the barn. There were a few more things I wanted to jump, but we can get to them another day.

 

If you watch the video, fair warning, Trainer’s voice is loud AF.

Overall it was another good, confidence building day for us. Not that Henny really needs it, he’s got plenty of swagger in his step when it comes to XC, but it’s great to finally conquer that stupid Irish bank and feel like maybe, just maybe, I could do this someday afterall. Next weekend we’re gonna try to hit a jumper show, and then it’s time to sit down and figure out my fall season. I think I’m just gonna do a couple recognized Trainings, although I haven’t quite decided which ones yet. After that I think we’ll set our sights on doing some of the Pine Hill schooling shows over the winter. They’re affordable (plus I have a ton of credits to use from volunteering), and they use the same courses as the recognized, so it’s a good bang for your buck. At least it is when the weather cooperates. We’ll see about that part.

Hope everyone else had a great Labor Day, full of all sorts of non-laborious things!

Weekend #1

I have decided that 4 day weekends are my favorite thing ever and this is just what I’m gonna do from now on. How do we make a 3 day work week an actual thing? Because it’s Monday and I’ve still got today and tomorrow off, so it’s basically like I get a whole bonus weekend. This does not suck. Especially because I’ve managed to fill my days with horses… as one does.

Gentleman FRH in the 6yo’s at Bundes

Thanks first and foremost to technology, I watched a hell of a lot of live streaming. I watched Burghley XC, all of the eventing 5 and 6yo’s from Bundeschampionate (and some of the jumpers and dressage horses), and a lot of the AEC’s XC (when it was working, anyway). At one point I had 3 different live stream windows open on my laptop, plus HorseTelex so I could look up the breeding of whatever horses I liked. If that’s not your definition of heaven, we can’t be friends.

Big congrats to Gentleman FRH, who won the 6yo eventing final at Bundes with a massive 19.4 cross country score (out of a possible 20). That horse is really fun to watch, and it’s possible that I’ve already asked his owner Alex when we’ll have frozen available in the US. He seems like he would be such a great cross on a blood mare. A Mighty Magic offspring, Mighty Carerra, was 4th in the final, too. He’s a cool dude, really fun to watch and seems to love his job.

Henry snorting at a pony in the far end under the covered

I also rode and played with the boys of course. Henry got to go for his first long canter sets in a while, which he loves to use as an excuse to spook at things and turn into a dolphin. I don’t mind. Clearly he’s having fun with it. Presto got to do some exciting stuff too, but we’ll talk about all that later.

Post-canter, post-bath bliss

On Sunday I drove down to Boerne to meet my friend Michelle (of Willow Tree Warmbloods) at a GOV inspection where she was spectating and taking pictures. It’s been many years since I’ve been to a GOV inspection, and they’re really trying to expand the jumper side of their registry right now, so it was interesting. I still have grumpy opinions about foal inspections, but I also appreciate any opportunity to sit there and listen to what an experienced horseman has to say about each horse. They were really big on shoulders, hocks, and masculine vs feminine type. And they did choose a jumper foal as site champion, which was a bit surprising because there was a De Niro x Totilas filly that was KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF stunning and jumper foals rarely beat that type. I’m curious to see how their jumper program expands over the next few years, with this push to grow the program.

img_9484
4yo Furstenball mare

Today I’m headed out for XC schooling, so hopefully the rain will hold off long enough to fit that in. Henry will be pumped, a second XC schooling in a little more than a week. We do need some rain though, really badly, and it looks like we actually might get some over the next week. My fields need it, the ground is hard!
Hope everyone else is having a good extended weekend too, filled with All The Ponies!