Texas Rose Fall HT: XC

Last phase, best phase! If you haven’t seen the recaps from dressage and stadium yet, go check those out first to see my new format.

He is the cutest. Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong.

What went well?

Everything felt pretty easy and small, and nothing was particularly intimidating. That’s always a good feeling. My big goals for this course were a) smooth out the whole ride b) have a good jump at the trakehner. Aside from a random bobble (more on that in a bit) everything did come up really well out of stride and rode very smooth, plus the trakehner rode PERFECTLY. I’ve freakin buried him at a trakehner at the last 3 shows we’ve been to, so I was glad to finally break that stupid streak. Sorry Henny, thanks for your patience as you endure the life of an amateur horse.

Fence 3, a little table

I also was able to get a little redemption at the Weldon’s Wall, which we jumped on course here in the spring but it was not particularly pretty. They have a bunch of people and the ambulance parked near it and you have to pass all that stuff to get to the Weldon’s, which itself has a big downhill landing that makes it look like you’re jumping off into the abyss. Last time Henry was pretty spooky here and I had to growl at him a bit, but this time he was laser-focused and jumped the absolute shit out of that thing.


Henry also crossed the finish line with his ears pricked, barely so much as an elevated respiratory rate, and I’m pretty sure he could have quite easily gone around again. He’s really fit and strong, and that makes me happy.

What could have gone better?

First of all, there was a lot of confusion about what course my PT division was supposed to be doing – the regular Training course or the Championship course. It made more sense for us to do the Championship course, but nothing was posted or said about it anywhere, so several riders had to go track down the TD and ask. I didn’t find out that they just assumed we were going to do the Championship course until I was in the warmup, which was a little frustrating on several levels. Luckily there were only a couple things that were different between the courses, and I had seen them even if I hadn’t walked them.

Into the water over the Championship route

But anyway, we had kind of a sad and tragic “shit happens” incident when Henry almost busted ass galloping through a patch of longer grass/chewed up sand going up a steep hill right before the C element of the coffin. We were only a couple strides out at that point and there was just no way we were going to make it safely over the corner while he was still trying to get his feet back under him, so I had to circle, picking up a 20. It was a major bummer, but not a genuine refusal, so… just one of those things that can go wrong when you ride over terrain, I suppose.

What can we work on to improve things next time?

Clearly I should be more aware of slight footing changes, even if they seem relatively minor to me. Henry does have a tendency to trip easily, so I maybe should have tried to do more to help him there. Lesson learned.

Otherwise he was pretty foot perfect and everything felt good, but if I’m nit-picking I do think that I was a little bit less forward and positive to the first few jumps than I normally am, and it felt like he didn’t really get settled into his gallop until after the first water. Granted, the course was really twisty and turny and did not make for a good flow at all. I wasn’t a fan.

In general though it was a good show, with LOTS of learning moments, some big triumphs, and plenty that we can build on going forward. It was a major confidence boost for me, and I’m looking forward to Pine Hill in a couple weeks to close out our year!

Texas Rose Fall HT: Stadium

Alright, on to the more fun phases! As I explained yesterday in the dressage post, I’ve changed up my format for show recaps to help me reflect on things a bit better. And for the jumping phases especially, I think this is really important.


What went well?

I’m going to be brutally honest here for a minute and tell you that I was straight up shitting my pants before stadium. Emotionally, anyway. The course was big and it was technical, and the rounds I had watched before I went to tack up were not going very well. When all of the very experienced people in Intermediate are having lots of problems (including the 4* rider) it does not leave one’s confidence feeling particularly bolstered. I was starting to wonder wtf I had even been thinking, to try this, and at Texas freaking Rose – the biggest, most intimidating venue in Area 5 – of all the places.

As I was tacking up I told Henry that I really needed his help here. That I was going to do the best I could to help him out too, but he would have to meet me halfway if we were gonna do this. It might make me sound like a total loon, but I swear he understands.

We went in the ring, I took a deep breath as the whistle blew, and I committed to just TRY. That’s all. Just try. If we failed then so be it, but I’ll be damned if we came this far just for me to curl up in fetal position and ride in as if we were already defeated. I am a lot of things, but I’m not a quitter.


So I did try. As did my little gem of a horse. It wasn’t perfect, there were rails, but we did it. We fucking DID IT.


Sometimes I helped him, sometimes he helped me. When I made a mistake, I rallied and kept riding instead of just crumbling and letting things fall apart.


It was very much a team effort, and we got it done together.


I think I did a bit better job of sitting up than I did at Holly Hill, and I tried to keep riding forward without running him at things in a blind panic.


We made it through, and it wasn’t tragic, and I’ve never been more proud of a horse in my entire freaking life. Which is saying a lot, because I’m proud of Henry pretty much always, but never more so than on that day.


Rails be damned, there may have been a few happy tears on the way back to the barn, a whole lot of smooches in the stall, and Henry may have eaten like 2 dozen nickerdoodles.

What could have gone better?

Look, I was so happy to have completed the course in one piece that I did not even give a single shit about everything that went wrong. But, of course, there was plenty.

If you can’t laugh at this, we can’t be friends.

I suffered a little bit from show ring paralysis (I always do), and all of my half halts came a couple strides too late. This resulted in our one really big OOPS on the course, when after the triple I failed to get him back in time and we got down to the next oxer on a yucky half stride. Bless Henry’s golden little heart, it would have been much easier for him to just slide to a stop, but he tried his best to jam another step in and then climb over the oxer. It was hideous and embarrassing and we took a rail down with us, but he got us to the other side in one piece.

What can we work on to improve things next time?

The biggest thing is what I’ve been working on for a while – making adjustments sooner. I’m pretty good at landing from a slightly under-powered jump and immediately riding forward (like fence 1) but I’m not so good about landing from a bold jump and immediately re-balancing. While I’d much rather make a mistake going too forward rather than pulling too much, I still have to keep the balance. It’s especially important to do it sooner rather than later when he’s in this really mild hackamore, because last-minute adjustments just don’t happen.

He loves his hackamore though

I also need to give Henry a bit of a longer distance to the oxers, especially when they’re square. He just does not jump them well from a deeper spot, never has, and despite all of our efforts, I don’t think he ever will. Which is totally counter-intuitive, but there it is.

it would also help if we could put a liverpool under every jump, k thanks

So overall, was it a great round? No. Does that mean I’m any less proud of myself or my horse for getting through it semi-capably? No. I literally never ever ever thought we’d even contemplate this level, much less try it, much less survive it, and here we are, staring it in the face. I feel so much more confident now, in myself and in my horse, and I know that we can actually do this. The finesse will come, but for now I’m just proud of us and I can’t freaking wait for the professional pictures.

Texas Rose Fall HT: Dressage

I decided that I’m going to follow a new format for show recaps, branching off of one of the books I’m reading about show ring mentality. I think it might be a more helpful exercise for me to break it down a little differently rather than just word vomit all the things I remember most (which is usually all of the less-positive things). Feel free to tell me what you think of this format!

Never shy about telling me what he thinks about anything. Or demanding cookies.

So, for dressage…

What went well?

Y’all, it was 35 freaking degrees on Saturday morning and my dressage time was at 8:07am. I thought I might die.

Good news: didn’t die!

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Did just about freeze solid though. Definitely could not feel my face or fingers or toes.

While Henry was tighter than usual, he actually ended up giving me some really nice work towards the end of our warmup. Which… warmup was a really interesting place to be all day. Nothing like dropping a bunch of fit, athletic eventers into a sudden arctic cold front. Yee-freakin-haw.

Henry was a bit more tense in the ring (he always is, especially at Texas Rose) but he did his job and was relatively obedient. The beginning of the Prelim A test is especially tricky on a tense tight horse, with the 10m circle, halt, 10m circle sequence at the beginning making it hard to really push them forward into a nice rhythm. He tried for me though, and we even earned another 9 (our second this season!) on the final halt. Our first recognized Prelim dressage test was in the books, and with a totally respectable score of 34.8. I really just wanted to be under 40, so I’m 110% hella ok with a 34.8.

Real good at stopping. Sometimes. The other halt score was a 6.

What could have gone better?

Omg, y’all, I HAD AN ERROR. HAHAHAHAHA. My dumb ass turned up centerline for the first leg yield and tried to freaking half pass instead. I just had a total brain fart and started going right instead of left. A few steps in I was like wait… this isn’t leg yield… right as the judge rang the bell. Total derp moment.

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Why I’m trying to make this test even harder than it is, I don’t know, but I sure did. Whoops. If you’re going to mess up, that’s a pretty hilarious way to do it, I suppose.

To be honest I thought the test was going to score really badly. I just felt a little disorganized in general and I knew I was inaccurate in a couple of figures, plus the medium canters felt very lackluster. The judge was definitely nice to me I think, but I will take the charity. I guess it balances out the mean judge from Holly Hill a couple weeks ago.

I have no pictures of Henry from dressage so here’s a picture of Trainer’s OTTB that I’m going to steal once he gets to 1*. Shhh don’t tell anyone. Can you believe he was just restarted in February???

What can we work on to improve things next time?

Um well I could, like… remember the test, that might help. News flash: there’s no half pass at Prelim.

Otherwise I’m not really surprised with how things went, all the lower scores were on movements that I already knew were a bit lacking. We definitely need to keep working on the 10m circle-halt-10m circle at the beginning, and the 10m half circles at canter. I’m struggling a little to keep him from getting stuck in those. A dressage lesson definitely needs to happen. And honestly, it’s probably time to try to mark out a dressage arena at home, because those smaller figures are really hard to ride well at a show when you only ever ride in a field at home. I do way too much guessing.

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I feel like this is kind of what my circles looked like

So, ya know, overall there was definitely plenty of room for improvement, but some good moments too. Most importantly, dressage was done, and now I could focus on stadium! That’s the part I was really worried about…

Look Alive

Presto has been really, really quiet lately. He’s always pretty quiet for a baby, as far as not being an idiot, but his default setting is also “pest”. You know how baby horses are… kind of busy and mouthy and with short attention spans. Over the last month or so all of that kind of faded away to the point where even the barn worker noticed and said something to me. He ate, he drank, he played with the donkeys a bit, and he looked fine, but he just seemed to be a little more dead to the world than you would expect a long yearling colt to be. On Wednesday he was so blah that I even took his temperature to make sure he wasn’t dying (nope, all good) and left the barn wondering if I should have the vet out for another blood panel or something.

The most alive I could make him look on Wednesday

And then a cold front blew through.

Have no fear, people, Presto is back and he is a bigger menace to society than ever. I got him out intending to take him out for a pony in the field, and he was a total wiggle monster in the barn. Couldn’t stand still, wanted to put everything in his mouth, forgot very basic manners relating to what direction his butt is allowed to go at any one time, etc. And that was just in the barn.

I open dis box, take tings out, and trow dem on the floor. Heh heh heh.

He spent some time tied in the arena while I flatted Henry a bit, which he mostly just alternated pawing and moving his butt around from one side to the other in protest. When I untied him and went to pony him away, he decided it would be fun to bite Henry and then try to run away bucking. Clearly we were not going to pony in the field this day. Baby horse was miiiiighty big for his britches, and way too full of joie de vivre.

They are horrible creatures. I love them both.

So baby horse got put to work instead. I really just wanted to spend 5 minutes doing walk/trot/halt transitions on the lunge line but that little turd decided to kick up his heels and try to act like a fool. I do not tolerate horses kicking out on the lunge line, especially babies, and especially when the hind feet come anywhere near my general direction, so he kept getting quickly shut down every time those hind feet decided to rocket from the earth. I wish I could say that he learned his lesson quickly, but no. We repeated it over and over and over. Finally he started to focus and I started asking for some transitions, but now he’d forgotten how to stop straight, and instead opted to turn in towards me and stop. Seriously, this is a thing he learned forever ago and hasn’t done in a really long time, he knows that whoa means halt straight, but we had to have some serious remedial school work yesterday.

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By the end he managed to gather his faculties and put himself back together. Turns out he can in fact still trot and walk and whoa and stand still and pay attention. Mostly. We ended with me standing next to the big mounting block outside of the arena and stomping around, leaning on him, and flapping things around. He was unimpressed by that, so I think I sufficiently re-killed his spirit.

You don’t have to try to be bigger than Henry before your 2nd birthday, kid.

Life with babies is never boring.

I was glad to see him back in pest mode though, since I was starting to worry about the too-quiet behavior. Maybe he was just feeling hot and sluggish. Maybe he was moping about not getting to come out and do stuff as much lately. Either way, if yesterday was any indication, he’s cured.


The local venue where Henry and I sometimes go for winter combined tests is offering a whole new type of event this winter.


Yep, a very very low key, super chill dressage freestyle show. You can make your own test, pick your own music, do it solo or with a partner or as a team, and even wear a costume (I’m pretty sure that’s Timon and Pumbaa in the picture). If you’re trying to make me way more interested in dressage, you’re doing a good job. They even said that equipment rules will not apply, so I’m welcome to do my test bareback and bitless. Which is kind of my dream. Henry is much easier to ride bitless in general, and I’ve always felt like it would be fun to play around with a test that way. I do bareback and bitless “dressage” rides with him at home pretty regularly. Yeah I know, I can feel all the DQ’s screaming internally at the idea and/or principles of bitless dressage. Take the whole dressage part of this to be a very loose description of what’s really happening and do some deep breathing, it’ll be ok.

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There there, DQ’s, there there.

I’m a little less into the musical aspect of things. That seems like a lot of work. I honestly just want to do my test to Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” and have fun with it, even though the music does not at all work in the real dressage freestyle format. Unless my horse was trotting a few thousand miles per hour. Which technically he probably IS capable of, but pretty sure no one wants to experience that, especially his bare back and my pelvic region. Raise Your Glass is my favorite song on my horse show play list, though, very fitting for us, and if I can’t make that work then I don’t know if I’m interested. Unless a Missy Elliot song is also possible. Then maybe. Omg, what if I could weave together Raise Your Glass with Get Ur Freak On or Work It???

But anyway, I’m torn. I think the show sounds super fun until you get to the dressage freestyle aspect of it and then it feels suspiciously like hard work. I feel like I have to get into tempo and beats per minute and make all the music line up right and have a test that makes sense and flows and BLAH BLAH BLAH. I don’t know if I’m into all that, and honestly the dressage freestyle boringness has never been very interesting to me. I just wanna go be dumb and incorrect and do a bareback and bitless dressage test to a fun song like an oblivious idiot because why the hell not. I have enough real work to do right now related to our attempted move-up (my brain is at max capacity), so I just want something silly and fun that feels like the opposite of real work. Which I guess I could totally do if I just ignore all the rules of dressage freestyles and how they’re supposed to work. That’s definitely an option.

But then we circle back around to the effort required to figure out a test and music and I start questioning my commitment again. I don’t even have a dressage arena at home, how would I figure out and practice the timing? That seems complicated. Then again… where else will I ever get a chance to make up my own bareback and bitless dressage test?

I just wanna do this, but like, markedly less fancy

What to do, what to do. Is anyone out there good at this kind of thing? How do I make this work, with a minimal amount of time/brainpower invested and no arena in which to practice?

Last Minute Tune-Up

I suppose the good thing about showing more often is that you don’t really have a lot of time after one show to think about the next. It feels like we just got back from Holly Hill, but here I am doing laundry (I decided I hate everything white) and getting ready to leave on Friday for Texas Rose. This is our 2/3 move up, doing Prelim stadium and dressage and Training XC, so I really wanted one more stadium lesson before we go. The only time we could really fit it in was on Tuesday afternoon, but considering I have so much leftover PTO that I’ll never be able to use it all, it worked out great. Hillary and I loaded up the horses and drove 2 hours down to Trainer so we could both have a lesson.

Hillary jumped Annie around some Novice size courses (not that Annie ever clears anything by less than 2′, pretty sure she’s jumping Advanced most of the time regardless of jump height) and then Trainer put them up to Prelim for me. Which… it just shows how much she’s been messing with me all along with jump height when I was like “Are you sure these are Prelim? They look small.”. So she jacked one of the oxers up bigger and I shut up.

It was a really freaking hot and humid day (come back, fall, I miss you) so we didn’t do much, just a couple courses, but it was exactly what we needed. We had a couple of mistakes which I got to fix, heard those ever-constant and ever-necessary reminders to sit up and rebalance and get the inside hind under him (has anyone ever actually counted the number of times that your trainer has had to repeat the same instructions over and over throughout the years? It has to be a massive number by now for me…), and it felt productive. I know that we’re capable of this, I just have to believe it when I step in the ring. I’m feeling better about it though.

Trainer also gave us the green light to enter the full Prelim HT at the Pine Hill show in December. It’s the best possible scenario, since it’s a schooling show (low key) but they use the same course as their recognized, plus I have enough credits from volunteering to more than cover all the fees. Free horse show = less pressure. If the weather is crap or something goes awry, we can always change to a CT instead.

It felt especially momentous that after I dropped the entry in the mail, I was looking at my facebook memories and saw that 4 years ago today I entered Henry’s first event (and what was, at that time, my first event in over a decade) at Beginner Novice. I never in a million years would have imagined that the journey would take us here. It still feels hard to believe. I will never know how I lucked into finding such a cool horse, he’s expanded the limits of what I ever thought was possible.


But for now, we focus on Texas Rose this weekend and getting the job done!

The Mental Game Part 1: Awareness

I’ve been talking a lot lately about how I’m trying to focus on fixing my brain. What I mean by that is addressing the mental aspects of riding and showing (in my case, mostly showing) that are having a negative impact on my life and my riding. It’s been a goal of mine for the past couple years, ever since I started to become aware of the issue, but this year certain things have slowly made themselves more obvious, and I’ve buckled down on trying to address what’s going on in my head.


The first part of this, of course, was becoming aware of it. I’ve been showing since I was a kid, and looking back I realized that I’ve always struggled mentally to some degree. It’s only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older, had to pay for my own habit on a tight budget, and stepped into harder competitions and higher levels. The pressure has taken it’s toll, and it snuck up on me without me really even noticing.

The first eye-opening moment for me was at the N3D at Coconino in 2016. There’s a lot of hoopla leading up to an event like that… qualifying for it, conditioning for it, saving the money to make the trip to Arizona, taking 2 weeks off work to go horse show, etc. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well, considering how much time and money I had invested in the event. And, naturally, I kinda bombed. The pressure I put on myself got the better of me in dressage and stadium, resulting in silly mistakes, and we finished just out of the ribbons. My first reaction was to be really upset. Not with anyone else, but with myself. I screwed it up, this thing that we’d been working toward for months, and I was really frustrated and angry about it. The things that I said to myself in my head (you don’t belong here, you aren’t good enough, you’ll never be good enough, what made you think you could ever do well at this, you wasted all this money, etc etc) were pretty cruel, and it showed on the outside as a generally sour attitude. My Trainer rightly pointed out that I was acting like a huge brat and needed to get over myself, which rocked me back on my heels at first. I was 33 years old and she was calling me a brat? WTF?

But she was right, and I’m glad she said it. It was the slap in the face I needed. I spent the whole drive home thinking about what she said, and trying to figure out what was going on with me that made me act that way. It was the first time in my entire life that I ever sat back and thought about my mental state as it relates to horse showing.


Of course, once you start to become aware of it, you start to see it more. I could look back and think of other times when my inability to handle pressure (that I put on MYSELF, mind you, no one else ever has) and my lack of self-confidence had bitten me in the butt. I could also think of times that other trainers had noticed it, but their less brutally honest comments just never registered in the same way.

The good news is that you can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken. So realizing that I had a problem was the critical first step. Of course, from there you’re kind of left wondering what the heck to do next, how on earth to fix it. At first, I did nothing. I didn’t know what TO do. Mostly I just thought about it and reflected and tried to open up my awareness to how I was feeling and why, trying to figure myself out. I’ve been doing that for a couple years now, and I finally feel ready to do something about it.


Lately I’ve been talking about it more. Bringing it up here on the blog and with some of my friends, trying to talk things through. It’s brought up so many interesting conversations, helping me learn more about others and about myself. It’s helped me pinpoint exactly what my issues are and what they stem from. There have been many lightbulb moments. And, with some encouragement, I purchased 3 different books about the mental side of riding, which I have delved into with more enthusiasm than I ever could have imagined. I’m very much a book learner, and they’ve already helped me open my eyes and start to develop a plan for myself.

I think I have a long, hard road ahead. Changing a mindset that I’ve had for my entire life is certainly not going to be quick and easy. It’s a struggle, every single day, to start training my brain to see things in a different way. I want to talk about it here, partly because I have a feeling that I’m not alone in this, but also because I’m hoping you guys will help me hold myself accountable. Part of changing how I think is changing what I say. I have to be more positive about my capabilities, more forgiving of my mistakes, more accepting that failure is a part of growth, and just plain have a little more freaking faith in myself. Especially now, as I’m starting to push outside of my comfort zone and outside of what I ever thought was possible for me. Growth isn’t comfortable, and I want to be more prepared when the struggles come calling.

This is the most ME chapter that has ever existed in any book. We jumped 36 fences at Holly Hill between XC and SJ and the only ones I focused on afterward were the 3 that I didn’t ride well.

The books have given me a lot of good ideas on what to do and things to try, so my current status is “In Progress”. Right now I feel like I’m taking baby steps on shaky legs, but they’re steps in the right direction. I want to share the journey here, in all of it’s brutal ugly honesty, as I start trying to make these changes to my mentality. I have no idea how often I’ll write updates on how it’s going or what the heck the subject matter will be about, but this post is a starting point and, hopefully, a way to hold myself more accountable. I feel like good things have always come after I put something out there in the world, so… let’s try it with this too.

The books I’m reading at the moment are:

Pressure Proof your Riding by Daniel Stewart

Inside Your Ride by Tonya Johnston

Keep Calm and Enjoy the Ride by Annette Paterakis

Playing Catch Up

This time of year always seems so busy, with shows and lessons and barnsitting and volunteering and literally anything I can do outdoors in that little sliver of the year when the weather isn’t scorching. This fall has been no different, with something going on every weekend since mid-September. I was starting to yearn for a day where I didn’t *have* to wake up before the sun (not that I can sleep past 6 even if you give me the chance, but still… I was craving the chance…) and this past weekend was finally a little bit of a break.

This is his thrilled face

I did manage to fill up most of my Saturday with body clipping. The people I barnsit for are headed to their new Florida farm for the winter (luckyyyyy) and were scurrying to get everything ready, so I stepped in with some clippers to help prepare the horses for their trek. My victims were Toni (the stallion) and Tara, who were both impeccably behaved and very patient. A+ for behavior. I might still be digging black hair out of my eyeballs, but they’re both gorgeous and ready to go. Also considering I’ve body clipped Henry twice in the past month, I’m feeling pretty done with it for a while now. I used to clip A LOT to make some extra money (hustlers gotta side hustle) but I kind of remember why it wasn’t my favorite gig. It’s not the worst, but it’s not the best. Super satisfying though… I do kind of live for the moment when you’re finished and they look amazing.

ToniSpumoniPoni says he always looks amazing
Tara-Moo-Su just wants me to stop calling her Moo

On Sunday we got to go for a hack out in the fields with Hillary, who just moved to my barn. After being there basically solo (only english rider, and the only person who really came out more than once a week) for two years now, it’s kind of nice to have a partner in crime. Pretty sure I’ve already talked her into a schooling HT next month. It doesn’t take much arm-twisting.

Henry also seems excited. Why do all of the horses in my life wear the same expression?

Hillary’s mare Annie is living in the stall next to Henry, and while he likes to make ugly faces at her while he’s eating (that’s kind of his thing) I can tell that he secretly enjoys her company. Their turnouts are near each other and I swear he kept an eye on her for quite a while as he was grazing yesterday. That’s about as excited as Henry gets about the existence of another horse.

Annie didn’t care about anything but grass

After we were done riding I pulled Presto out for groomies and decided to take advantage of the puddles in the arena while checking in with his lunging skills and voice commands. We will ignore the fact that I had to throw a rock at him to get him trot the first time (note to self: the “tr-OT” voice command button is a little rusty). I really need to find a lunge whip for this wild little stallion. Once he got going he perked up a bit, and seemed to enjoy splashing through all the puddles I pointed him at. He remains a superstar at “whoa”, screeching to a quiet halt within a few seconds from any gait. Maybe I should have bred more thoroughbred into this thing… 73% and “whoa” is still his favorite?

his wildest moment
So talent. Much wow. I can feel how impressed you are by his magnificence.

I even had enough time left over to play around more with some new things we’ve acquired lately. Like Henry’s fancy new Majyk Equipe superhorse monoflap girth. It’s so squishy. Definitely a massive upgrade from the extra-basic, no-frills, cheap synthetic I was using before. I’m excited to use and abuse it a bit more before I review it, and I still need to review the Majyk Equipe impact pad too. We’ll get there.


Henry was perhaps more excited to try out these new Flix treats, which are made entirely from flaxseed. No added sugar, no flavoring, nothing but flaxseed in all of it’s omega 3 goodness. I figured there was no way he would like these, considering how much he loves anything super unhealthy and sugar-loaded. Pretty sure Henry’s life philosophy is “when it doubt, cover it with molasses”. I was shocked when he chomped them quickly down and begged for more. Presto and the donkeys liked them too. I dunno what sorcery this is, but if Henry will happily eat some healthy treats, I will happily keep him stocked with a full supply.

Glad he can’t read the label, he would be pissed to see that I’m peddling something that says “no sugar added”

On Sunday afternoon I got to catch up on a lot of reading, which lately has been primarily comprised of what I guess you could call self-help books for equestrians. I said I wanted to focus on improving the mental aspects of my riding, and I started that by ordering 3 books. I’m halfway through them and my mind is pretty blown. Some of the content is “duh”, some of it has made me stop and reflect, and some of it has absolutely left me reeling. This whole process is going to be it’s own series of posts, I think.

This week the focus shifts to getting ready for Texas Rose this weekend, the preparation for which will include but not be limited to: a jump lesson, re-learning the Prelim dressage test, shortening Henry’s ranch horse mane, figuring out how to stay warm while I’m camping considering it’s gonna be like 35 degrees (we’re all gonna die in dressage, y’all) and trying to apply some of what I’ve read so far in my books. We’ll see how any of that goes.

OH YEAH – also, I managed to leak Magic Cushion all over Henry’s sleazy… any ideas how the hell to get that out??

Jumbled Parts

You know what’s awkward? Being a 19 month old baby horse.

Sup y’all, I am a magnificent giramoose.

Poor Presto. He is so sweet, and such a good boy. He’s in a particularly (suspiciously???) quiet and compliant phase right now too. Like to the point where he’s been so still in the crossties that I’ve taken his temperature to make sure he wasn’t dying. He comes to me in the pasture, stands still as a stone while I tie his halter on, follows me docilely into the barn, and stands in the crossties while I groom and fly spray him and sometimes leave him unattended for short periods.

He really likes to hold his grooming tools for me. Such a helper.

What he is, though, is a weird collection of body parts right now. Some things have grown and developed and are looking more like they belong to a horse. Other parts are scrawny and small and look like they belong to a baby. The overall effect is a little… strange.

Also he is really dirty and scruffy right now, living his best donkey life

His head is… well it’s pretty big. Like, as big as Henry’s. His butt is starting to lengthen and fill out a bit too, and his barrel is taking on a little more depth. The neck and shoulders, though? Scrawny AF. He’s still SO narrow in the shoulders and without much topline. I was kind of thinking (or secretly hoping) that waiting a little longer to geld him would help out his topline a little, but judging by his behavior I don’t think he’s got much testosterone running through him. Still almost no colt-like behavior. Which… thank goodness. Both of his little cojones are easily visible now though, so whenever the weather decides to get cold enough to kill the flies, those little nuggets are coming off.

I has big horse head on wittle baby shoulders, and no clue that I has nuts.

Grooming him yesterday I took a good hard look at where his withers were in relation to my face (WHY ARE THEY LEVEL WITH MY FOREHEAD?) and went off to the tack room to dig around for my good measuring stick. He definitely isn’t growing at the same crazy rate that he was in the spring, when he grew a hand in 3 months (that was relatively terrifying) but no doubt he’s continued to add a little bit since the last time I sticked him.

Yeah so he’s just a teeny smidge shy of 15.3h now. If he could slow his roll a little, that would be greeaaaaat.

I couldn’t resist throwing my saddle on him either. I haven’t done that yet, but he’s worn a lot of saddle pads and his surcingle so I figured it would be a non-event and I was correct. He stayed asleep. And the saddle doesn’t look all that big on him, either. Granted, I think he would need like a 12″ girth if I actually wanted to attach this thing to him.

Very tired. Much sleepy. I used all of my energy to grow my butt and my head.

I’m guessing that the shoulders and neck will be the next things to grow. I hope? With every day that passes, he looks more and more like a horse and less and less like a baby. We’ll ignore the fact that he’s the same height now that his mother was at 2 1/2. I’m in denial about that.


He also seems really freaking bored, so this weekend we’re going to revisit long lining again now that I’ve got real long lines. Maybe I won’t have to stack every saddle pad I own to make the surcingle fit now? Ok I probably will. #babyhorseproblems

Made in America

Yesterday Eventing Nation sent out an email blast about the Goresbridge Go for Gold Sale, a big sporthorse auction that takes place every fall in Ireland. It’s an “elite” sale that has had a lot of top horses pass through it, so on one hand it’s really fun to look through the catalogue (well, ok, IF YOU’RE ME it’s really fun) and see the horses and the bloodlines and try to guess which ones might make it to the big time someday. On the other hand, it does make me cringe a bit to see a big American publication openly encouraging people to go overseas and buy horses there, when we have so many nice horses being produced by breeders right here in the US. Can we throw a bone to the US eventing breeders and young horse producers sometimes too? If we want nice horses produced here, we have to buy the nice horses that are produced here, y’all, and we have to pay the same money for them that people are ever-so-willing to fork over for an import. You know what would be nice, EN? An ongoing series of articles featuring American breeders and breeding programs. Just saying.

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Granted, that still doesn’t stop me from clicking through the Goresbridge horses, watching their videos, and looking at how they’re bred. If I’m picking a favorite to take home, it’s lot 21, Emerald Emoe. Reasons? Because I’d want a mare, already started o/f, that looked nice enough to have potential but not SO athletic that I wouldn’t be able to ride it. Plus a good pedigree.

But if we throw pretty much all of those criteria out, then I’ll order up lot 47, Jordan Cobra.

Fun fact, I’m such a creepy person that I’ve stalked his sire Cobra (who lives in the UK) extensively and even asked his owners if there’s any frozen semen available for US export. The answer is no, there isn’t. That doesn’t mean I won’t stop asking.

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me, creeping on facebook

But anyway, Goresbridge window shopping aside, I’m back to the issue of encouraging people to consider shopping American more often and with more enthusiasm. The first part of that, I think, is breeding more of these Goresbridge-quality horses, right here in the US. There are a lot of parts after that, like promoting the breeders, getting the horses to the right people to produce them, making it easier for people to FIND the horses, etc etc. But it all starts with getting the horses on the ground.

For those who don’t know, my friend Michelle at Willow Tree Warmbloods has recently purchased two really nice broodmares for the eventing side of their program. It’s possible that both of these mares were my doing and I absolutely regret nothing. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s totally Michelle’s farm and program but I have managed to insert myself pretty squarely in the middle of everything. It’s what I do. See above gif.

I already mentioned Peyton a few weeks ago, a really nicely bred (for eventing) TB mare. It’s hard to find TB mares of her quality, so I’m really excited about her. A good jumping line stallion on a high quality TB mare has proven time and again to be a great cross for eventing.


And then last week a friend of mine put her really lovely Irish mare up for sale to a breeding home after a really random freak pasture accident. I jumped on that immediately, sending the mare’s info to Michelle and helping her come up with ways to talk her husband into it. Luckily he’s easy to convince. Or maybe he’s just given up by now. Either one works for me. Anyway, this is Grace:


Henry and I have shown against her and she’s an absolute GEM of a mare. So nice, incredibly talented, and with a fantastic temperament. The kind of mare everyone wants to own, even if you aren’t into mares (for real, it seems like at least 50 people have called dibs on a Grace foal). And for those who haven’t been falling asleep and/or stabbing their eyeballs out during my “It’s in the Blood” series posts, Grace is the magical eventing combination of Selle Francais x Holsteiner x Irish Sporthorse. Her pedigree contains Quidam de Revel, Cavalier Royale and Clover Hill. In fact, her half sister (out of the same dam) Kilpatrick Duchess is the dam of Cooley Moonshine, the 6yo that was just 3rd at Lion d’Angers under Liz Halliday Sharp. For an eventing broodmare, she ticks all the boxes in a big way.

Cooley Moonshine, whose sire is none other than the aforementioned Cobra

Of course, it’s also no secret that there’s really no money to be made breeding event horses in this country. Part of it is that for a long time people just didn’t believe that an event horse was something you could breed on purpose. First they were largely OTTB’s, then more “rejects” from the jumper market as we changed over to the short format. Slowly the tide has started to turn, as people realize that the same bloodlines are popping up over and over, and that certain traits do in fact seem highly heritable. That’s why I think that it’s so important for people who shop for these types of horses to be educated on breeding and bloodlines and what works. Top horses are rarely an accident.

But also, most people just don’t buy foals, and the ones that do typically don’t pay the same prices that jumper and dressage foals bring. If you’re trying to make a profitable business out of a breeding farm, eventers are a really tough choice in an already really tough game. Most of the big, successful eventing breeders in this country do it more as a labor of love, usually losing money in the process. Therefore we obviously don’t have very many big, successful eventing breeders.

WTW’s first eventing bred foal = WTW’s first FEH winner

At the same time, if we want to produce world-caliber horses here on our home soil, we have to start somewhere, and we have to support the people that are dedicated to the cause. That goes for breeders of any discipline. If we want our riders sitting on the best horses in the world, we have to figure out how to make them and bring them up and connect them with said riders, and not at a huge loss for the breeder. The French do it. The Irish do it. The Germans do it. Why not us? I have to believe that eventually people will catch on, even if it takes a long time. Again… you have to start somewhere. Really good mares are exactly the right place, and I’m excited to look at stallions and start making picks.

So while I may have fun looking at all the Goresbridge horses and picking my favorite, it also urges me to spend time thinking about what we can do to get people as jazzed about shopping American as they are about importing from Europe. Thus, we have two objectives of this post, if you choose to accept the challenge: the fun part – which Goresbridge horse would you take home (because window shopping is fun, I don’t care who you are)? And the harder part – how do we get the US on par with Europe when it comes to producing and marketing top horses?