25 Questions

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m a huge sucker for those instagram story templates. Especially if they ask good, thought-provoking questions that really give you insight into who someone is, on the inside. The only problem is that time and space are both quite limited in the story format, and there are a lot of interesting questions that I haven’t seen anyone ask yet. So, since it’s Wednesday and my brain is already fried, and it’s Halloween, my favorite holiday, let’s do something fun today with 25 questions! Some are easy, some are hard, some are fun, some might be a little uncomfortable, but here we go. The questions themselves are first so they’re easy to copy and paste, and then my answers are below.

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  1. Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling?
  2. What was your riding “career” like as a kid?
  3. If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be?
  4. What disciplines have you participated in?
  5. What disciplines do you want to participate in some day?
  6. Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue?
  7. What was your FIRST favorite horse breed – the one you loved most as a kid?
  8. If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be?
  9. Do you have any horse-related regrets?
  10. If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be?
  11. What is one item on your horse-related bucket list?
  12. If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses?
  13. What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal?
  14. What horse do you feel like has taught you the most?
  15. If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be?
  16. If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be?
  17. If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice?
  18. Have you ever thought about quitting horses?
  19. If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?
  20. What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?
  21. As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?
  22. What horse-related book impacted you the most?
  23. What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most?
  24. What do you love most about your discipline?
  25. What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment?


Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling?

I’m not sure why anyone would want to do a sport that doesn’t involve having an animal as a teammate. On one hand, a lot of what we do is completely insane by normal people standards. On the other hand, the rewards are more than worth it. I’ve never really been able to explain why I’m so drawn to horses though. Mostly I think it’s because of how giving and kind they are, without really expecting much in return… if people were more like horses, the world would be a better place. (I also feel the same way about dogs)


What was your riding “career” like as a kid?

I sat on a horse here and there a few times at birthday parties or for girl scouts, but I didn’t start weekly lessons until I was 10. It didn’t turn into more than weekly lessons until I was 14, when I moved to TX and started working at the barn I rode at. I was a stereotypical barn rat all through high school, riding anything and everything my trainer would let me ride. We didn’t have the budget to go to the A shows, but I would go along as a groom for my trainer or to help the other girls. In a way I’m grateful for that now, because I feel like I learned more about horsemanship without having showing as my main focus. 


If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be?

Puddles. I have no good reason for this. She was a complete nut and ridiculously hot. I loved her anyway.


1998 or 1999 maybe?

What disciplines have you participated in?

Competitively – hunters, jumpers, equitation, eventing, and dressage. For fun – a little bit of reining and cutting also.


What disciplines do you want to participate in some day?

If I had to make a total departure, reined cow horse looks pretty fun. Kinda like the western equivalent to eventing?

into it

Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue?

Yes to both. One from a TB exracer organization, and one from a very ghetto horse auction. 


What was your FIRST favorite horse breed – the one you loved most as a kid?

I was fairly obsessed with Morgans as a kid. Not sure why, the book Justin Morgan had a Horse definitely started it, I read that thing a million times. I still really like Morgans and have ridden a few but never owned one. 

Image result for morgan horse

If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be?

That’s a tossup for England and Germany for me. England would be an easier place to live, for obvious reasons, but I sure do love Germany (and since when do I like to do things the easy way?). So I would probably tip towards Germany. I like their system for teaching people to ride, even if I’d probably have to go back and start all over with all the little kids.


Do you have any horse-related regrets?

From where I stand now? No. Just because I’m pretty pleased with the status quo. Sometimes I wish I’d gone on longer as a working student, or stuck with eventing that first time I did it, rather than going to back to the h/j world, but I also feel like maybe those things were necessary learning points for me that led me to where I am now.


If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be?

Christopher Bartle. He probably wouldn’t know what do to with a plebian like me, but the man is a legend as a coach, so why not aim high?


What is one item on your horse-related bucket list?

Someday I will gallop around the Irish countryside on a good horse. 

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extra credit if there are castles

If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses?

Yes, for sure. I’d be a breeder!


What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal?

Probably 2*. The highest levels aren’t really super appealing to me, but 2* seems reasonable enough for an amateur with a fantasy. 


What horse do you feel like has taught you the most?

Henry, hands down, no contest. About riding, about horses, about myself, about life… we would be here all day if I tried to list everything he’s taught me.


If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be?

To be closer to my trainer. It’s hard to get as much done as I want to, or progress like I want to, when she’s 2 hours away. 


If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be?

Rebecca Farm, for freaking sure. SOMEDAY. 


If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice?

I’m fairly torn between Lion d’Angers and Burghley. Maybe next year I’ll be able to cross one of them off the list.


Image result for burghley horse

Have you ever thought about quitting horses?

Completely? No. I’ve taken a couple of very short “breaks” but I could never quit completely. I don’t think I would know myself without horses, everything I am is built around them, and some people might think that’s bad or weird but I like it that way.


If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?

To fix the horse safety and horse welfare issues. 


What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?

Have I ever told you about the time I was trying to take a break from horses to pay off some debt and I bought a horse sight unseen off of facebook for $900?

10/10 would recommend

As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?

That I’ll never be any better, as a rider or a horseman, than I am now. 


What horse-related book impacted you the most?

Most recently, Tik Maynard’s book In the Middle are the Horsemen. I like his perspective on learning, it really hit home for me. 


What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most?

Value Most: a horse that is genuine/kind/honest. Dislike most: a bad work ethic.


What do you love most about your discipline?

That it’s so freaking hard. Trying to be good at 3 very different things, all at the same time, is pretty ridiculous, but it’s what keeps you working hard day in and day out. I think that’s also what makes the people so great… we all know how hard it is, and how easily things can go wrong, and everyone seems so much more supportive of each other and kind to each other than in any other discipline I’ve done. 


What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment?

The mental side of things. At this point I know that’s what is holding me back the most, so I’m trying to fix my brain. 

Holly Hill HT: The “everything else” part

A lot can happen in 3 days a horse show, and this one was no exception. There were a lot of other extraneous things going on outside of the show itself that I wanted to talk about.

First of all, we tried Magna Wave for the first time. Yes we, because the practitioner let me feel it too, before she put it on Henry.

Image result for magna wave

I was so fascinated with watching and asking questions that I totally forgot to take a picture. But Henry was licking and chewing within a minute of starting the session, and although we kept it light and short since it was his first time, he definitely seemed to enjoy it. I’d had some issues the previous few rides with getting him to connect in the right rein, and the next morning after the Magna Wave treatment he definitely seemed better in that regard. I need to look into the local MW person more to see what her prices and travel availability are.

Second thing – the cot. This was the first time trying out the new cot, and I figured it would be the perfect opportunity since it was supposed to be cold at night and the humidity is always so bad in Louisiana that if you tent camp, it ends up dripping condensation on you INSIDE of the tent. Waking up with a wet head/pillow at 4am is about as fun as it sounds. I learned my lesson about that the first time we were here 2 years ago. Not doing it again.

my really fancy room for the weekend

So I cleaned out the horse part of the trailer, laid a tarp down over the shavings, and set up my bed. First was the cot, then it’s cushion, then a top sheet, then a fleece blanket, then a quilt, and then I opened up a sleeping bag to serve as a comforter. I pulled the door mat out of the dressing room to put inside and voila – I had a decent little space. I was pretty darn comfortable back there, and the cot worked out well. I’m a splayed-out stomach sleeper, so I do wish the cot was maybe 6″ wider, but I slept well anyway. It was nice being able to completely close up the trailer to keep some of the chill out, especially on Friday night when it dipped down to 45 degrees. I think the cot will be a good viable option for when tent camping isn’t so practical, so in that regard it was a successful test run and totally worth the cot’s $50 purchase price.

Next up on this recap of randomness, we have a video of Henry eating a Pop-Tart, which he LOVES, but I don’t give him often. I had run out of treats and this was what I had as backup. What, you don’t keep emergency Pop-Tarts in your trunk? Weird. Wondering why the hell I’m showing you this video? He got the Pop-Tarts to hold him over until I could go get my wallet and run to one of the vendors to buy him some more. I wanted you to see what led to the circumstances I found myself in, how it started with the purely innocent goal of buying my unicorn some well-deserved treats. SURELY YOU SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING.

Yeaaaaah so I bought cookies… and new dressage reins. My only real complaint about my Eponia bridle is the stupid rubberized web reins that came with it, but I never have gotten around to replacing them. On Friday I spent what felt like 3 hours cleaning those stiff, stupid things before giving up on getting all the dirt out of the webbing, so on Saturday when I went to get Henry some more cookies and saw the Kavalkade soft reins (because one does not just walk into a mobile tack shop without browsing just a little, right?), I was sold.

Well ok, I told the vendor that I would buy them only IF she removed the stupid martingale stops for me, which I also never remembered to do with the Eponia ones. She pulled out a knife, sliced through the stitching on each one, and I got myself a new pair of dressage reins. I’ll do a review once I use and abuse them for a while, but Riding Warehouse also carries them in black and brown in a 3/4″ width and a 1/2″ width. I think I’ll set the Eponia reins on fire and laugh maniacally while I watch them burn. Just kidding. Probably.

Image result for watch it burn gif

On Sunday morning I started prepping Henry’s stud holes early, and I’m really glad I did because as soon as I picked up the left hind I knew we had a problem. Somehow he had twisted his shoe about 1/2″ to the inside and stepped on the clip. He was totally sound on it and didn’t even seem to notice, but clearly I couldn’t run him XC like that. I called the show farrier and off we trudged to meet him at his truck.

Chillin with 3 shoes, because this is definitely what you want to be doing an hour and a half before XC

He pulled the shoe off, noting that luckily the clip had stayed in the wall (right where the nails typically go) and didn’t make it any further into the hoof. Henry had an ever so slight reaction the first time he clamped down with the hoof testers, then nada. I asked him whether he thought I should scratch (he’s from a family of eventers so I trust his opinion) and he replied with a very emphatic heck no, but maybe pack the foot with Magic Cushion overnight in case there’s any latent soreness there. I do that anyway after XC, so no biggie. This farrier is very good and has actually mentored my own farrier quite a bit, so he asked me to take some pictures with a couple of slight changes he suggests my farrier make. He bent the inside heel of both hind shoes in a bit more to help prevent Henry from being able to step on himself as easily back there, and then had to re-tap to make sure the stud holes were still good after that. It was NOT a cheap show farrier visit, but he got the twisted shoe fixed, addressed why it happened, we got a bit of a “consultation” if you will, and Henry trotted off 100% sound.

I might be biased but I think this boy is pretty handsome

Speaking of Henry feeling fantastic, he also looks pretty darn good right now. He’s FIT and he’s strong, and I’m really happy with his overall condition. He must be feeling as good as he looks, because on Sunday morning before XC I tried to take him out to graze and all he wanted to do was drag me to XC warmup and stare off into the distance at cross country. He knew exactly what it was and that it was his next phase. Henry is normally relatively chill in XC warmup, and always stands very quietly, almost looking asleep, in the startbox… not this time. He was spring-loaded and I had to circle through the box until our 10 second countdown. He exploded out of there, ears already on the first fence. I think between his fitness level and the temperatures finally cooling off, he’s pretty full of himself. He really feels like a horse that understands his job, and seems confident about it and happy to do it. I came away from this show feeling very satisfied with where he’s at, mentally and physically, and that’s what’s most exciting to me.

Holly Hill HT: The horse show part

I was all alone at this show, with no trainer, and most of my friends had conflicting ride times, which means I have very little media. Well, ok, a friend of mine came out and got some video clips of XC (thanks Lucy!) so I have a lot of XC media and basically nothing else. Also I forgot my helmet camera at home. Whoops. But since I have no pictures at all to accompany the recaps of dressage and stadium, we’re just gonna jam all three phases into one post and make the less fun phases short and sweet. There was also a lot of “extra” stuff going on at this show, outside of the riding parts, so we’ll cover all that tomorrow. On board with that? Good.

Spoiler alert

First off, it was cold AF on Saturday morning for dressage, and I went bright and early at 8:30. Henry was a little electric, and a yearling galloping up and down the fenceline of the pasture right next to warmup did not help. Also apparently we had two late scratches in our division, which were not communicated to the warmup stewards. I finally got Henry feeling relaxed and connected, so at that point I just let him walk for a while as we waited for our turn. At this venue there’s one big warmup field, then when you’re on deck they let you into a smaller, flatter side area that connects to the arenas. My plan was to let him walk and relax until they let me into that space, then wake him back up and put him back together before we went in.


But then they realized they were missing people in front of me, the ring was sitting open, they were running behind, and the judge was getting irritated. They called me over and sent me straight in. So, awesome… I’d just been walking for 10 minutes and now I found myself circling the arena. Which I got about 1/5 of the way around before the judge rang the bell and sent me in.

Henry was very obedient, but I never could quite get him back in front of my leg. He was a little stuck in the canter and a few of the down transitions were flat and sticky. He did nothing wrong, he just wasn’t really as connected and up into my hand like he has been. The judge in that ring was really freaking cranky (by the end of the day a lot of people were talking about that) and massacred me with a 39. Like, ouch. We’ve scored 39’s before, and those tests were relative shitshows of angry oversensitive on-the-verge-of-explosion Henry. This wasn’t anything like that, it just needed more impulsion. And I don’t even know what the scores and comments were because I went to pick up my test and it was missing. But… oh well, whatever. What are you gonna do.

Good luck reading this, because it is so HUMID in Louisiana that the morning dew is basically like getting doused with a bucket of water.

After that was stadium, in the early afternoon. I spent a while watching most of the Prelim horses go and felt pretty good about the course. Most of the problems were coming at the first double at 4AB (it seemed that no one could really get a great distance to that, for whatever reason) and the last square oxer at jump 10. The line was riding a smidge long, and if you got to that oxer at all flat, that front rail would go flying.

Again, my warmup was brief. I cantered a few laps, jumped a vertical and an oxer, and then they were calling me on deck. The course itself was fine. I’m not super stoked about how I rode it, I got him a little deep to the first double and a little long to the second double, but Henry was jumping really well. Holly Hill has a bit more “filler” to their jumps, more stuff to look at, which is beneficial for a less careful horse like mine. He tapped a couple – jump 1 and the triple bar – but everything stayed in the cups. Clear round!

This is the stuff of nightmares

Cross country was on Sunday morning. I’d walked the course twice the night before and my impression was that it was tricker than it seemed at first glance. The first 7 fences were no big deal… some were large, but they were just single fences. But from fence 8 through fence 17, it was question after question after question. A combo with a big brush to an upbank to a downbank to a rolltop. A trakehner. An upbank bending line to corner. The water was basically a long bending line from barrels to a log jumping in, then bending line through the water to an upbank, 3 strides to a log. Then shortly after was that nightmarish ditch wall in the picture above. All fair questions, but in pretty rapid succession that left little room for error and would definitely require you to have control of your horse’s shoulders.

Also yes you read that right, there were 3 freaking upbanks. I’m still feeling a little leery about them after our mishap at Chatt, so I was not particularly thrilled about that. Mostly though, I was worried about that ditch wall. Henry had definitely never seen anything quite like that, and it was deep and dark and just… gross looking, with that brush essentially anchored right in the middle of the ditch. It makes for a weird floating look to it.

I’ll do fence pics in batches as I talk through the course…

Henry came out of the box like his freaking tail was ON FIRE, he woke up that morning knowing what phase was  next and he was ready for game time. Fence 1 was a simple log, then it was a nice galloping fence at the hay feeder, to a big log oxer. Nice fences to get into the flow. Four to five was a smaller table to smaller log oxer bending line. Fence 6 was a skinnier brush-topped rolltop with the ground dropping away quite a bit on the landing. Henry jumped the snot out of that so the drop on the back end was extra exciting.

yeehaw, bitches!

Fence 7 was a max square table, which used to make me crap my pants, but I’m pretty desensitized to them by now. After that it was time for the real questions to start. We hung a right turn to the big brush fence, which had 5 slightly bending strides to the upbank, three strides to the down bank, then 5 strides to a rolltop. Henry jumped in super here, although I could have done with a smidge more whoa on the landing, since the 5 to the upbank came up a bit tight. He was clever with his feet here though, and I just supported with my leg and let him work it out, which he did brilliantly.

far away but you can see us as a blob

From there it was down to the trakehner, which he actually took a little peek at (that ditch is like 5′ deep and there was all kinds of shit down there from the recent rains, so I don’t really blame him) but I gave him a little tap at the base and he hopped over. Then we swung another right to the upbank (I didn’t like this one, it had a log on top of the lip, which always makes me a bit nervous with upbanks – something to trip over), right turn to a corner.


After that we headed to the water. We hopped over some barrels first, then the log into the water was off to the left. It came up fast, the horses only had about 4 straight strides before the water, and there was a lot to look at. Banks, bleachers, people, photographers. Henry was laser-focused though and didn’t even hesitate, jumping over the log into the water, and then taking the bending line to the upbank, 3 strides to a hanging log. This jumped so well, it kind of felt like redemption for my mistake at Chatt.

who is this professional, seasoned horse right here?

But I couldn’t really even let up for a second, because straight ahead was that Nightmare Factory (my own personal name for the ditch wall). I sat way up, gave Henry a little tap-tap on the shoulder, and proceeded to completely bury him at it. He gave precisely zero shits and hopped over it anyway, because BLESS HIM. Honestly, he deserves every cookie and carrot that he has ever eaten in his life (of which there have been many).

After that we had two big brush rolltops, and the rest seemed like a cakewalk. There was a little hanging log that was mostly like a “don’t trip over this” kind of thing by this point, then a produce table which used to look ginormous to me that now looked delightfully adorable. The last fence was another hanging log similar to the first fence, also pretty small.

One of the rolltops

I don’t really check my watch anymore these days until a few fences from home, mostly just to see where we stand. I looked down at it for the first time after fence 18, and we were cruising a bit ahead, so I dialed him back down for the last two fences. We crossed the line at 5:14, with the OT being 5:28. Easy breezy. He was still full of run and cooled down quickly.


A few people in our division had some trouble on XC, which boosted us up from 4th to finish 2nd. It was a fun show, with plenty of challenges, and I’m super happy with how Henry stepped up to the plate. It makes me a little emotional just seeing how confident and happy he is now, and how much he seems to love his job. He’s matured so much over this season, and I really couldn’t be more proud of that goofy little horse.

Review: Horseware Brianna waterproof jacket

If you haven’t entered Riding Warehouse’s Horseware giveaway yet (here it is on facebook, or here on Insta), you should. It’s a great giveaway, and it includes the item that I’ve basically been living in for the past couple weeks: the waterproof Brianna jacket.

I was able to snag an emerald green one, but RW carries the admittedly much more versatile black version, as well as last year’s turquoise version in XS and XL in their sale section. At first glance I wasn’t sure how much use I would get out of a jacket like this here in Texas. It’s got a decent amount of fill (do you use the same terms for human jackets as you do for horse blankets? I’d compare it to a midweight turnout blanket.) with a warm quilted lining on the inside, and a waterproof exterior. But since Texas has been completely drunk since the middle of September, I’ve actually already worn it quite a bit.

The cut and fit of this jacket are perfect for riding – it’s just the right length so that you aren’t sitting on it, and it’s slim enough to not be bulky. But for me, my favorite feature is the hood. First, it’s fully removeable, which is a MUST for me in a riding jacket. It’s also got a little brim built into the front, providing more shade if it’s sunny, or more protection from the elements if it’s raining or snowing. The hood is nice and big, so you can retreat pretty far into that thing to shield your face, or you can even (maybe, depending on how big your noggin is) pull it over your helmet. It also has a flap around the front that can snap to cover your lower face, if necessary, as well as elastic toggle pulls to adjust the fit around your face.


There’s also a hidden elastic drawstring inside at the waist, if you want to adjust the fit, AND there are 4 pockets – 2 inside and 2 outside. And since everything is waterproof, you don’t have to worry about putting your phone or your course map in there. I also appreciate that the front zipper is 2-way, and has a placket that you can snap over the top if it’s windy or raining.

As far as sizing, I find Horseware’s stuff to be pretty true to their size charts. I have a 36″ bust and wear the medium jacket.

My only real complaint with this jacket is that I think the zippers on the outside pockets could be bigger, with larger pull tabs. It looks very sleek with it’s current small, semi-hidden ones, but they can be a little hard to grab and zip/unzip when you’re wearing thick winter gloves (like when I was scribing last weekend, wearing some legit mittens).

Overall though, this jacket is a really well-designed (that hood, it is love) and versatile piece of clothing for a rider. I like having a waterproof coat that’s still attractive, and a warm coat that isn’t bulky. Definitely a solid purchase, IMO, especially with a 20% code (which I pretty much always have, if you ask!) or at the very least, a really legitimate reason to enter Riding Warehouse’s giveaway. We can’t escape the inevitable… winter is coming!

Hairy Situations

Is it just me or are some horses getting way hairier this year than normal? Admittedly, Henry maybe isn’t the best gauge of these things, considering that he’s a hairy horse in general, but I’ve now body clipped him twice already this fall, with the second clip coming just two weeks after the first.

He seems awfully damn smug about it

His leg hair, which is always fairly draft-horse-esque, is already long enough to braid some dang cornrows into, if you were into that kind of thing. It billows in the wind, all gross and golden against his black legs. I flat out refuse to clip his legs though, mostly because he is really good about the rest of his body yet a complete freaking turd about his legs. For real, it used to take me twice as long to do his legs as it did to do the rest of him. But also because I’m an eventer now, and I consider one of the biggest perks of my changeover from h/j land to be the whole “not clipping the legs is totally normal” stance that they have. I am all about that.

Henry gets hot so easily that I always try to keep his coat pretty short, so I do probably clip him more than most people would find necessary. Still though, I got almost as much hair off of him on the second clip as I did on the first. Seems like a lot more than normal for the end of October.

Meanwhile, baby horse has been a little slower to launch into Yak Mode. His hair is getting long, but nowhere near what he was sporting last winter. Of course, it’s early yet. If he’d like to grow that 6″ of plushy ridiculousness again (please don’t), I suppose he has plenty of time.

ok, he’s looking a little ragged in general

As an aside, you might spy the farrier in the above photo. Poor guy was here on Monday to do both boys and then back AGAIN on Tuesday, because SOMEONE named HENRY decided to pull a shoe off literally SIX HOURS after getting his feet done. And I tried looking for it in the tall grass but yeah right, that was a lost cause. I don’t know where he threw it, but it was somewhere far and well-hidden. Poor farrier had to come out the next morning and make a whole new shoe, clips and studholes and all. I really appreciate him coming so fast though (and being so darn pleasant about it) considering we’re leaving for Holly Hill tomorrow. Where I get to try out my newest acquisition:

Yep that’s a folding cot. I tried a little twin air mattress for when I want to sleep in the trailer itself (like if it’s cold or raining, and camping in the tent seems unappealing) but at Willow Draw that stupid thing deflated on me every two hours during the night. I feel like I don’t really have to tell you how annoying that was and how much I hated air mattresses by the next morning. This weekend we’ll try out the cot instead… at least it can’t deflate?


I like how a couple weeks ago I was like “ok, show season is winding down, just one more show” and now I’m all like “j/k, enter everything, bye money!”. I feel like there are two ways I can spin this:

Image result for bad at planning gif

ORImage result for go with the flow gif

You choose.

Originally my season was going to end after this weekend at Holly Hill. Mostly because the only recognized left after that is Texas Rose, and we’ve already run Training there multiple times. I mean, the course changes a little every time, so it’s not boring, but we’ve seen a lot of the same stuff enough times by now that I wasn’t feeling inspired to spend $400 to see it again.

And then Texas Rose added a PT division. For non-eventers, PT is basically part Training and part Prelim. You do the Prelim dressage test and showjumping, and the Training XC. Before the Modified division was born, this was kind of meant to be the stepping stone between levels. Of course, we have no venues within a 16+ hour drive that offer Modified, so PT is still our only available in-between.

I had no idea that Texas Rose had added this division until Trainer tagged me in a post about it and said I should do it. To which my first reaction was:

Image result for is you high gif

I mean, sure, we’ve done a few schooling show Prelim CT’s and several jumper classes at that height now. Theoretically, this should be fine. But my first reaction to her was like “you is dumb, you is high, you is concussed, and you is crazy”.

And then I thought about it for like 10 minutes and was like “ok, why not”. Because if you give me enough time I can talk myself into anything. Also I cave easily to peer pressure and everyone was saying to do it. But mostly because if Trainer thinks we can do it, I believe her. See yesterday’s post about why it’s so important to me to trust my trainer.

Although when I responded to her and said I’d enter but joked that if I died she’d have to take Henry, she was AWFULLY DAMN QUICK TO VOLUNTEER.

this devious witch…

All joking aside, I know we can do it, barring any huge mistakes on my part. That’s always the qualifier though isn’t it? Mistakes are always possible. Texas Rose wouldn’t generally be my first choice of places to try this for the first time – their stadium courses are always technical and definitely set to height and the atmosphere is “grander”. It’s a little intimidating. If we jump all the jumps in the right order and I stay on my horse, I’ll be thrilled. But I also know that if I sit up and ride like I know how to, we are actually capable of doing a decent job of it, so mostly I just have to figure out how to get my headspace right between now and then.

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Thanks, Tim.

At this point, I am equal parts nervous and excited, which I hope is a good sign? Who knows.

Also, after volunteering last weekend, I now find myself with a metric crapton of credits that I either need to use or lose. I still have some left over from all the winter shows I volunteered at last year too, and they expire soon. At this point I think I have enough to cover the entry fees for a couple of the off season Pine Hill schooling shows. The first one of which is December 2nd, which I think I definitely want to do, before winter gets too firm of a hold. I have no off season plan yet though, so CT vs HT and level are all up in the air. I need to get with Trainer and see what she thinks would be most beneficial to us. I guess it depends on how these next couple shows go. At this point I’m leaving the ball completely 100% in her court.

Image result for ball is in your court gif
or that.

So first we have to focus on Holly Hill this weekend, and then we’ll come home and start thinking about those Prelim parts of Texas Rose. The thing I said I’d never freaking do. Perfect example of why you should never listen to me.


Picking a Pro

Somewhere amid the many hours in the truck that Hillary and I have logged together in the past month (along with many WhichWich sandwiches and cups of FroYo – brain food, clearly), we had a long conversation about trainers. Specifically, details about some of the ones in the area, and why I ride with the one I do despite the fact that she’s 2 hours away. That, of course, evolved into a conversation about what qualities are important to each of us when it comes to selecting a pro to work with.

For me, it all comes down to trust. I am definitely not naive enough to try any of this without some solid professional guidance. In eventing especially, I want and need at least semi-regular feedback (or for XC – very regular feedback), and I feel like I have to be able to trust that person’s judgment 100%. At it’s core, it’s a safety issue. Sure, not all accidents can be avoided, that is the nature of horses, but having poor judgment sure can get you (or your horse) hurt a heck of a lot more often, and faster, and worse. Cross country especially is not something to be messed around with. I want someone who is just as invested in keeping me and my horse safe as I am, who knows us and knows what we’re capable of. I would much rather someone move me up the levels slowly, and take extra time filling in the holes in my and my horse’s education, than try to do things too quickly and get me or the horse hurt. If I trust their judgment and they say I’m ready, I will believe them and I’ll feel confident about it… because I trust them.

I also need someone who will be honest with me about how things are going. Blowing smoke up my butt is not helpful, and feels borderline insulting, as if I’m too stupid to know otherwise. I mean, I’m not the brightest, but I know I’m not a future 4* rider sitting on a future 4* horse. Plus, if I’m riding like crap and need to pull my head out of my butt, say so. If I need to go back to basics and re-think everything I’m doing, say so. If my horse can’t handle the level or my aspirations, say so. I would prefer someone to deliver a harsh truth 100 times over than to lead me on or put ideas in my head that won’t ever pan out. Realistic expectations and honest, open communication keep me happy. I need to be on the same page.

Of course, I also want someone that believes in my dreams and goals as much as I do. I want to be able to say “Here’s what I want to do someday… help me get there!” and trust that they will keep that in mind and help me develop towards those goals. I’m not expecting them to get me there for sure, nothing is a guarantee, and a trainer can only do so much, but I do want to feel like when they look at me, they remember what my goals are and help me make the right decisions to get there.

I also need someone that expects me to be a thinking rider. I like for things to be explained to me in depth, so that I can feel what’s going on and try to correct it myself. Or have them educate me on different questions/combinations and how to ride them, so I can execute these things when I’m on course by myself. Basically, give me the skills I need so that I don’t have to depend on them for success. I feel like a trainer should be a builder and a refiner, but not a crutch. Again, in eventing this is really important, since they can’t provide us with assistance when we’re in the ring or on course. But also since I am not in a program at a barn with a pro, I need to be able to take what they give me and go home, work on it, and be successful by myself.

It’s important to me too that whoever I ride with has a good eye for soundness-related things, and a lot of knowledge on care. Sometimes that little “hmmm… have you thought about maybe trying X?” can be the difference in night and day for a horse. That level of horsemanship is vital, IMO, especially since they see things that I might not feel.

For me, this combination of qualities has been hard to come by. In my 25+ year riding career, I’ve only come across a few trainers that I feel have really fit the bill, with the current one being one of those few.

Is it inconvenient to drive 2 hours each way for lessons? Uh, hell yes. It’s also really hard to fit lessons in with any real regularity or frequency, given that it ends up being a most-of-the-day commitment. When those are the stakes, you definitely have to want it, and you have to re-arrange your life sometimes to make it happen. I have no doubt that we’d be farther along, and probably more polished about it, if I had professional help at my disposal all the time. That just isn’t an option in my current circumstances. And I would rather get less frequent help from someone who meets all these criteria than regular lessons from someone who doesn’t. I have come to trust my trainer implicitly, so those are the sacrifices I make, and we do the best we can with the situation. It’s worked out pretty well so far.

Plus, like… if this woman has put up with my bullshit for almost 4 years now, clearly she is made of some tough stuff. Or she’s deaf. Either way, it works.

What about you guys? How do you choose a trainer? What qualities are most important to you? If you have to sacrifice something, what’s the first thing on the chopping block?

Give and Take

You know that phenomenon where a weekend feels excessively fleeting but also ridiculously long? That was this one for me. Although really that’s kind of how the entire past couple months have felt, too. How it is already almost November? Yet at the same time, so much has happened since August. Life is flying by.

I kicked off the weekend with a quick ride in the rain on Friday afternoon. It just never stopped freaking raining all week long. Texas has gone completely off it’s rocker. While my fields were too saturated to ride in, luckily our arena has all weather footing, so even with a huge puddle down one side it was still safe to ride. I just channeled my inner Ingrid Klimke in that oh-so-famous flooded arena video, put some trot and canter poles in it, and off we went. Henry is a little delicate about getting rained on, so he wasn’t very happy with me at first, but the poles cheered him up a bit.

two drowned rats, and one of them is mad

On Saturday, Hillary and I were up super early again to drive down to Pine Hill for a day of volunteering. Of course, Mondial du Lion cross country was live streaming from France, so I watched it most of the way there and gave Hillary a blow-by-blow while she drove. I feel like this is something only an equestrian would do – get up at 4:30, go 2 hours to a show, and live stream another show in the meantime. We’re an odd breed.

My job for the morning was dressage scribe, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was paired with a great judge, who took the time to explain things and was very open to questions. We got along great, and the time completely flew by, despite it being… dressage. The afternoon was occupied by XC jump judging, my other favorite job. It was a little chilly, but I had a good coat, and it was overcast but not raining. A very pleasant day to spend the afternoon out in the woods, all in all. And better yet, no one had any problems at any of my fences.

Plus I picked up the hat that I earned with my volunteer hours last time, and proceeded to send Bobby a picture of it to make him jealous.

And NO, Bobby, no matter how many times you ask me, you can’t have my hat.

He was running BN with Halo, so I made sure to give him my favorite one finger salute as he came by my fence. The best part was that when he returned it, Halo spooked sideways and there for a second I thought he might miss the fence because he was too busy giving me the finger. That would have been epic. I totally would have put that on youtube.

If Saturday was all about giving my time away, Sunday was all about Me Time. It was, finally, a glorious day – we went over a week without seeing the sun at all. There was a slight chill to the air (HELLO FALL!), and sunshine aplenty. I waited until early afternoon to go to the barn, hoping that it would give the field enough time to dry. It totally did, the footing was perfect up on the higher side, and Henry and I went for a gallop.

that mid-gallop supermodel hair

Is there any better way to clear your mind and recharge your soul than going for a gallop on a good horse? I think not.

After putting Henry away I headed out to check on the feral DonkeyBeast.

The bigger one.

Presto has been largely ignored lately, but I wanted to bring him in, pick his feet, knock some of the mud off, and do a little bit of a manners check-in. After grooming I took him out to the arena for a few minutes of in-hand work, then stuck him on the lunge line and trotted a couple circles each way, working on his voice commands. All of those buttons still work just as well as they did when we left off. After that we worked on the ground-tying lessons again, which definitely is NOT where it was when we last worked on it. I think the combination of cooler temps plus his awakening hormones are starting to make it a little harder for him to keep his feet still. Hopefully the weather will cooperate in December or January and we can make his snip-snip appointment. He still isn’t anywhere near what I’d call studdish at all, but you can tell that he’s trying to figure out what some things are for, and he’s a little more mouthy.

not thrilled about this ground-tying bullshit

It was a good weekend for all of his brethren though, with Mighty Magic’s representing at shows across the world. The 6yo at Mondial du Lion, Trebor, ran a double clear XC in his 1* division, and the 7yo Figaro des Concessions was clear in the 2* with just 0.4 time. Across the pond at Fair Hill, Michel 233 finished 3rd in the 2* with Will Faudree, finishing on his dressage score. Take note of your future, kid!

Hope everyone else had a fun, horse filled, short-long weekend too.

It’s in the Blood: Fair Hill 3* and 5yo YEH Champs

Yeah I know, two boring breeding nerd posts in a week. Stick with me on this one though, because thoroughbred lovers, there’s fun stuff for you this time too! US events always have more thoroughbreds than European events do, and Fair Hill and YEH are no exception.

Small disclaimer, I did all these stats before we lost a few entrants before/at the first jog, but decided to leave those horses in the stats. They were interesting, and worth looking at, and well-qualified, so I think they’re still relevant to the data.

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First of all, let’s look at the Fair Hill 3* horses.

Originally we had 41 entries, before we lost 3 at the last minute. 44% were bred in the US or Canada, with 51% originally hailing from Europe (the rest of either Unknown or from elsewhere, like Australia).

The most popular breed registry is Irish Sporthorse, with 10 entries, followed quickly by Thoroughbred, with 9.

The average blood percentage is 63%.

One stallion, Chacoa (who is by Contender), has two offspring in the field. Contender himself is also the damsire of 2 others.

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On the thoroughbred side of things, none of them share any parents in common, but there are certain names that show up repeatedly across the nine entrants. Danzig shows up within the first few generations of 4 different horses, with Mr Prospector showing up in 3.


Now that I’ve broken down the breeding on 10 different upper level events (I haven’t shared most of them, maybe eventually I’ll make graphs or something and condense this stuff, as I have more data), the trends in the thoroughbred lines are interesting. You see Danzig a lot (he was the most common among WEG entrants as well, if you remember) which does not surprise me being a Danzig lover myself, but I have been a little surprised at the prevalence of Mr Prospector. He gets a bit of a bum rap, and I myself have even tried to avoid him in the past, but clearly having him in the pedigree is not a detriment. And I think it’s safe to say that he isn’t showing up repeatedly simply because he was so popular that he can’t be avoided. Storm Cat is super popular too but I have yet to come across him in the pedigree of the horses from any of the upper level events I’ve looked at so far (fear not, Storm Cat fans, you’ll feel better after we look at the YEH horses). Of course, Storm Cat is 13 years younger than Mr P, but only 6 years younger than Danzig, so I don’t think the age excuse holds much water either. I’ve also come across a fair bit of the Mr P son Fappiano (especially via Unbridled’s Song, another horse that gets a bum rap), Nijinsky, and Mt Livermore.

Aside from the 9 full TB horses in the field, there are 9 others that have a full TB parent. Of those, 4 horses have a full TB sire, and 5 horses have a full TB dam.

Image result for young event horse usea

Alright, on to the YEH horses! I only did the 5yo’s, because everything is just way too much of a wildcard at 4, but historically the 5yo’s have gone on to see a decent bit of success at the upper levels.  Again, I worked my numbers based off of the original entry list. These horses are, generally, a lot harder to track down since they aren’t at FEI level yet and therefore still flying under the radar paperwork-wise. Some of them I couldn’t find much on at all, but I was able to at least figure out the sire. I wish people were more diligent about entering their horse’s breeding completely and correctly, but alas, I digress.

While I wasn’t able to track down breeder information for everyone, I was able to figure out that the majority of the horses are imports. Of the 41 entries, I could only confirm that 12 (29%) are USA bred. Of those, 8 are full thoroughbred.

One of the thoroughbreds is actually by the same sire, Flatter, as one of my trainer’s OTTB project horses, which is probably relevant to no one but me, but hey fun fact.

Totally stealing him once he gets to 1* level, shhhhh tell no one

Among the thoroughbreds, Mr Prospector, AP Indy, and Storm Cat are quite popular within the first four generations. Mr P shows up in 5 horses, AP Indy shows up in 5 horses, and Storm Cat shows up in 3 horses. We also see some of the same names that we saw in the 3* thoroughbreds – Danzig, Unbridled, and Mt Livermore – but with less frequency.

There are some warmblood sires in common between our YEH 5yo’s and the 7yo horses over in Europe at Mondial du Lion, too – Diarado, Shannondale Sarco, and Zambesi in particular have offspring at each.

The showjumping stallion Verdi is the sire of two horses in the YEH 5yo field.

One of Dom Schramm’s rides, Quadrocana, is out of the full sister to Michael Jung’s phenomenal mare FischerRocana. Quadrocana’s sire is Quadrofino.

Fernhill Turbo’s dam, Royalty van de Heernis, also has an offspring competing in the 6yo class at Mondial du Lion with Piggy French.

I guess the reason I do all this is that for a long time people believed that you just couldn’t breed event horses. That, much like hunters, they were simply the castoffs from other sports, more like accidents that happened purely by chance. It’s obvious to most breeders by now (especially those crafty Irish and French), that this clearly isn’t true. It is entirely possible to breed eventers, it’s just not tracked and studied and logged the way that it has been with showjumpers and dressage horses for so many decades. Not to mention that our sport has changed a lot in the past 20 years, and the type of horse needed at the upper levels has changed right along with it. I find the whole thing really fascinating, and I’m striving to better my own understanding, because I think it’s really important – not just for breeding, but also for sport. Thanks for hanging in there on a subject matter that I’m sure bores most of you to tears. Fear not, I think y’all are probably off the hook for more of these posts until LRK3DE.

Cold Front Crazies

First off, if anyone is interested in watching Mondial du Lion, they’re live streaming the 7yo dressage here, and the order of go is here. Because seriously, that’s way more fun on a Thursday morning than, like… working.

I was finally able to make it out to the barn yesterday and ride Henry/mess with Presto. I hadn’t sat on Henry since the jumper show on Saturday, which was before this 45 degree temperature drop and disgusting, never-ending rain (for real, send an ark and a waterproof parka and a few gallons of hot chocolate). It had also been about a week since I’d put my hands on Presto at all. The turnouts have been too slick for turnout since Sunday, although the barn worker has been turning them out in the arena on half hour rotations, when the rain lets up. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing. Still, Henry and Presto are both starting to get that slightly frazzled, freedom-seeking look in their eyes. Y’all know the one.


Henry handles captivity pretty well, for the most part. His manners don’t change, he just gets a little spookier under saddle and does a lot of crowhopping when you canter. It’s 0% intimidating, as evidenced by the fact that I chose to do a bareback and bitless dressage ride in the arena yesterday. In true Henny form, he was totally fine except for a few slightly dolphinesque canter laps that are nothing but entertaining.

post-ride noms

Presto, on the other hand, is having a little bit more difficulty coping. He’s back in his shed row barn now that the water system out there has been fixed, which is actually a good thing in this situation. He basically has a double stall out there, giving him more room to move around. He hasn’t made a pest of himself too much yet… nothing is broken and the buckets are still attached to the wall, although he appears to have spent quite a while pulling his halter over his gate and playing tug-o-war with it, if the layers of dried slobber are any indication.

As soon as I started leading him into the barn I could feel him slowly turning into a baby horse balloon. He was snorting lightly, and growing steadily taller with each step. You could feel the crazy rolling off him. I decided to pass right by the barn and head to the arena first instead, to let him blow off some steam. Clearly there was no way he was gonna stand politely in the crossties for grooming at that point. So I turned him loose in the arena, where he spent the first two minutes ambling around, sniffing things, then all the sudden took off like a little banshee. There was a lot of galloping, a lot of bucking, and a lot of screaming and squealing. Quality entertainment.

this has to be some kind of fancy haute ecole move right?
Is this what people mean when they say “floaty mover”?
volunteers to start him under saddle?

What Presto doesn’t have is much stamina or dedication. His psycho circles lasted all of 2.5 minutes before he broke back down to a trot for a lap and then promptly trotted straight up to me, declaring himself finished.

Why didn’t you trot like this at FEH Champs, you little turd?

At that point I took him inside to the crossties for grooming, where he was semi-behaved. As long as he stayed in his space, I let him be. Some days you just have to pick your battles and lower your expectations a little.

By the time I left the barn it was raining AGAIN. It’s supposed to keep raining til Saturday, then stop just long enough to make us realize what nice weather is, and then start again. I give up. Good thing I have a pretty new raincoat on the way.

that hood is legit AF

It should be here tomorrow, just in time for my volunteering gig this weekend. I also entered one more show for the season, because sure, why not. Nothing like a solid couple weeks of rain to inspire me to throw money at situations in which I’m unlikely to arrive prepared. Meh. I can dream about sunny days, right? In between all the squealing and crowhopping, that is…