2018 – How’d we do?

When I wrote my 2018 “goals” post, on January 2nd, I decided to eschew the typical goal-setting I had done before. Gone were the very specific “I want to go to X number of shows” or “Get X dressage scores under Y” or “qualify for X event/show”. Things that, while fine goals, sometimes just don’t happen due to things completely beyond our control. And also things, that, IMO, don’t really measure success accurately, or drive the kind of behavior and thinking that I’m trying to cultivate within myself. I wanted my goals to focus on the journey, not the destination, and I wanted to foster growth and learning. So I wrote: “Instead I’m going to focus more on doing things that a) make us better, b) enrich our relationship, c) are FUN. I’m not even gonna sit down and try to plot out a show season… we’ll go to whatever shows work out best, whichever and whenever those may be.“.


I’m a pretty intense person, really competitive and goal-driven, so this departure from the norm was very different from how I’ve typically operated. The guidelines for the goals were pretty loose, and they mostly focused on improvement. Let’s see how it all hashed out.

Improve the stadium – I’m giving this one a lukewarm checkmark. Stadium has solidified it’s place as our shakiest phase, but I do think it has improved, especially as we got towards the end of the year. I still make plenty of mistakes, and my horse is still not careful, but we’ve gotten more consistent, more confident, and I feel more educated about it now than I did a year ago. 

The picture you will never stop seeing. Not even sorry.

Do a couple Prelim CT’s – LOL well ok I guess we blew this one out of the water. Doing a full Prelim HT clearly wasn’t even something that existed as a possibility on my radar at the beginning of year, yet by year’s end we’d done those P CT’s I wanted (and ended up year end Reserve Champion for that series), some P jumper classes, a P/T horse trial, and a legit full horse trial at Prelim. We’ve still just barely stuck our toes in the water at Prelim, but that’s a lot farther than I’d ever have imagined we’d get this year.

More foxhunting – I got to foxhunt twice in 2018, which maybe isn’t as much as I had in mind, but it was what worked out. Still love it. Still want to do it more often.

Attend another big horse event – I reaaaaally wanted 2018 to be the year I finally got to go to Lion d’Angers, but due to scheduling conflicts it just didn’t happen. But I was able to take the money I would have spent on a France trip and instead plump up my fall show season, so in the end I think it worked out for the best. Someday, Lion, some day.

Unless you want to count FEH Championships as a “big event”, then I’m in.

Get my volunteer hat – This was in regards to the volunteer rewards program at Pine Hill, where I do most of my volunteering. When you hit the 30 hour mark you get a Pine Hill hat, and I really wanted to prioritize volunteering this year, so I figured if I could commit enough hours to earn the hat, I’d be happy with that. Not only did I get the hat, I got the belt (for 40 hours) too!

Jump the stupid giant Texas Flag table at MCP – I didn’t get to jump the flag table at MCP, mostly because we only ended up schooling there once in 2018. I was about to mark this one in red when I read what I had written next to this goal: “It’s not really about the act of jumping the stupid thing, it’s about the confidence and ability that it takes to do it.“. Well, these days I would jump that Texas Flag table with no hesitation. It doesn’t scare me senseless anymore, and I feel confident that we can jump it successfully. So in that regard… maybe it’s a win?

Move Presto closer to me – That kid is as close as he could possibly get, since his pasture is like 30′ from Henry’s! 

I love them so much.

End 2018 as a better rider than I started 2018 – I definitely feel like I learned a lot throughout the year, and came out the other side as a better rider, both mentally and physically. Taking the time to help my mental game has made a noticeable difference in my riding and my overall happiness. 

Keep running – I was doing well with this until summer hit, because I’d legit rather die than run in the Texas summer, and then shortly after I picked it back up this fall, I hurt my knee. The knee is still sketchy, so I haven’t been running, and this is normally my peak running season. I don’t really know what to do about that, because I don’t want to hurt my knee to the point that it’s a problem for riding. I’m hoping that with some “rest” it’ll get better and I can go back to my normal schedule.


Enjoy the journey – Boy fucking did I! I had more fun this year than I ever have, and I really took the time to soak in all the things that I love about riding and about having horses. We had a lot of fun, and I love every second that I get to spend with my boys.

As for a few fun 2018 stats:

  • Henry did a total of 8 horse trials this year – 6 at Training, 1 P/T, and 1 Prelim – and 2 combined tests, both at Prelim. He’s already qualified for AEC 2019 at Training.
  • Presto went to 4 shows this year – two FEH, one hunter breeding, and one in hand trail.
  • The most popular blog post of the year was about Extreme Overjumping, it garnered 58,244 views.
  • I traveled approximately 5,322 miles going to and from horse shows, give or take a few.
  • Although if you count the shows I attended to work for the mobile tack shop trailer and not actually ride, tack on another 2,237 miles. Add the miles I traveled to go volunteer at shows and that’s an additional 866.
  • Fun perk of all the driving – I got to listen to 17 audio books this year (my favorite: The Sun Does Shine, by Anthony Ray Hinton), in addition to 4 podcasts. As far as regular books, I read 59.


Hope everyone else had a fun and successful 2018!

Bloghop: GIF name game

This all started last week in a group fb chat, where we were brainstorming to figure out a barn name for Hillary’s new horse. I started putting the various suggestions into the GIF search bar, which led to some hilarious results. Hillary posted about the process, with accompanying GIFs of course, and challenged us to play the GIF name game with our own horses. Challenge accepted! Because the GIF’s for my boys were both hysterical and extremely appropriate. Who knew that GIFs could be such an accurate predictor when it comes to names?

For Henry, the first one that popped up made me laugh way harder than it should.

henry vacuum GIF

That’s a very happy vacuum snorting coke. And anyone who’s seen Henry’s cross country face knows that this could definitely be what he’s doing back in his stall before I come to tack him up. In fact, I often call him a coked out dolphin. This is pretty close.

The result from his registered name, He’salmostsweet, is just as appropriate. He IS sweet sometimes, but he would take serious offense at being called that.

Image result for almost sweet gif

His show name, Happenstance, returns a few different ones, but this is my personal favorite.

Image result for happenstance gif

If those don’t sum Henry up perfectly, I don’t know what does.

As for Presto…

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Probably correct. I’m sure he’s got some terribly naughty idea brewing in that little baby hamster brain of his.

His registered/show name, Like Magic, is an accurate representation of his hair, if nothing else.

Image result for like magic gif

Who knew that GIFs were this accurate when it comes to names and personality???

Good Instincts

Last week Henry got some annual vet maintenance, which meant a short vacation for him. That left me with plenty of extra time to torture dedicate to Presto!

the fact that he still happily greets me at the gate every day shows just how adorably naive he still is

First up was revisiting his ground driving/long lining skills. We’ve dabbled with this once before, very informally, with a couple of lunge lines on his rope halter. This time we upgraded slightly, as in this time I actually used real long lines. Still clipped to the halter though, because he’s just not quite ready yet to have them clipped on a bit. His outfit is a little goofy… he has to wear his very short little girth on the surcingle, otherwise it’s too big. And he’s also so freaking narrow and awkward that nothing stays in place, so the square pad is strapped to the surcingle, and then he’s wearing a cob size elastic breastplate to keep everything from sliding right off the back. Don’t ask questions, just go with it.

Dorky little outfit for “school”. The other kids were definitely making fun of him, but hey, nothing budged.

We started off with a little bit of long lining at the walk, just to remind him about the lines. He gave precisely zero shits. I moved around back to the ground driving position and flopped the lines around, tossed them up and down and over his back, and around his legs. Again, no shits given.

Whut you doing back derr? I is bored. (photobomb by Inca)

We stood under the covered for a few minutes while Hillary finished up with Inca, then ventured out to meander around and test the steering/brakes. A halter is obviously not ideal for steering, but he knows “whoa” so well by now that honestly he stops better from a voice command than he does from pressure on his nose. We walked around the arena, made some circles, changed directions, and walked over a pole. As long as he wanted to go where I was asking him to go, he steered great. Other times… well… not so much. If anything he is a little TOO sensitive, so once he started turning he’d basically just spiral back on himself. I had to get him used to the idea of turning for just a couple steps, or making a gradual continuous turn. For a big lanky baby, he is surprisingly agile.

We did succeed in making a few good smooth circles, and some successful passes over the pole, so we called it quits with that.

A couple days later was a jump day for Hillary and Inca, so I decided to tote Presto along to the jump field with us. The plan was to maybe lunge him for a couple minutes in the field, then have him stand there and be patient while Inca schooled and I set jumps. So far I’ve only lunged him in the ring (and when I say “lunge” with this horse, please keep in mind that I mean walk and trot for maybe 5 minutes), so I thought a little change of scenery would be nice, and he needs to learn how to put himself in park while I’m busy and/or while horses are working around him. I put his bridle on (this has been happening a lot lately and he is none too pleased with that particular development), put his rope halter on over it, clipped on a lunge line, and walked him out to field.

Once we got out there, Hillary went off to warm up and I put Presto on a circle around me. He was a little distracted worrying about where Inca went, so I asked for a lot of walk-trot transitions and changes of direction to keep him occupied. Then I realized that our little warmup gymnastic was totally something I could lunge Presto over, with a few changes. I moved a couple poles, put up some guide rails, brought the bounce in to make a little oxer, and decided to just try it and see what happened.

I’ve always bought horses that have never jumped before, so that feeling of not knowing how they’re going to do with it always makes me a little nervous. It’s like unwrapping a package and not knowing what’s inside. You just don’t really know how one will take to it, and how they will jump, until you point them at one. I mean… I know Presto’s parents, and I know he’s bred for this job, and I know his conformation gives him the ability to be correct, but STILL. As they’re going up to their first jump you’re always like “Oh god, please don’t suck at this. Please don’t jump like crap.”. I live in perpetual fear of the talentless or the knee-hanger.

Luckily Presto did not disappoint. He’s a little blase and ho-hum about it (that’s his general MO about most things) but I liked how he used his body over the little jump, and that he was tidy with his knees and smart with his feet. His natural instincts were good, he was very chill about it, and he seemed to understand the game. I was very pleased with both his aptitude and his attitude. Thank goodness!

Image result for relieved gif
me, for sure.

So now we know how he moves and how he jumps, in it’s most raw, unpolished, uneducated form. I’m pretty excited about it, because I think all the raw material shows a lot of promise and ticks all the boxes. If anyone needs me I’ll just be over here impatiently waiting for him to grow up so we can polish everything up and get to the real fun stuff. Is he 4 yet?

Treat Yo Self Christmas edition

I definitely got some really cool gifts this Christmas, including but not limited to:

this awesome Edgar Allan Poe print
a tire pressure monitor system for my trailer
Image result for navy yeti mug
a navy Yeti mug for my hot chocolate habit

as well as the usual money and gift cards. I LOVE money and gift cards, because I get to do a nice little Treat Yo Self extravaganza on someone else’s dime. Even if one of those gift cards is being hastily ordered at 7am on Christmas morning by the SO, because that is the kind of next level procrastination I’m dealing with here. That’s okay though, because I’m pretty sure the guilt of exceptional delay caused him to throw more money on the card than he otherwise would have. I will take that, please and thank you. I’ve already got a cart full of stuff at Riding Warehouse, including a year’s supply of fly spray and salt blocks, a pair of brown Samshield gloves, another pair of white Horze breeches, and the long-coveted green Motionlite coat.

hello my pretty

My Amazon gift card is already half-used too, buying a new pair of casual shoes for work, because the ones I usually wear have a massive blowout. I have a very Homeless Chic vibe at the moment if you look at my footwear. Or maybe Horse-Poor Chic. Same thing.

From the cash I got, a large chunk of it went to the barn worker. I was going to give him a Christmas tip anyway, so it saved me a trip to the bank. He’s been working 7 days a week for months now, he’s definitely underpaid, and he always makes sure my boys are very well taken of. He deserved every bit of what I gave him. The farrier got his tip a few weeks ago when he showed up at 7am to tack a shoe back on Henry before a show. I had to hide it in his truck for him to take the money from me, but I succeeded. As far as the vets go, considering how much I’ve spent on Henry in the past 6 weeks between teeth, shots and coggins, and his annual injections, they’ve gotten plenty of my money lately (damn Henry feels AMAZING though). And Presto is getting gelded sometime in the next month, so there’s still more money coming to them.

Most of the rest of the cash is already spent too, upgrading to a new vest. I’ve been eyeballing a new one for most of the year now, and I finally used this as a good excuse to pull the trigger.

the Dainese Balios 3

To back up a bit, up until a couple days ago I was still planning on buying the Airmesh. I already have an Airowear that I’ve been really happy with, and the Airmesh seemed like a good next step. I was kinda grumpy that it didn’t come in navy though, and I’ve never really stopped window shopping vests in the UK, since they have so many more options than we do. I found myself on Redpost looking at a helmet cover for my new Champion skull cap (you’ll hear more about that later. And the first person who asks how many helmets I have now gets punched in the throat.) and naturally I clicked over to the site’s body protector page.

new skull cap cover!

I’ve looked into the Dainese brand before, because they have such a good reputation for their motorcycle safety equipment. A lot of the same technology that they’ve used in that market – especially when it comes to being comfortable, flexible, and lightweight – has been applied to their equestrian body protectors as well. Their most popular is the Balios 3, a BETA 3 approved vest that’s made from little hexagonal tiles of memory retention foam. In all of my online stalking of reviews and British forums, everyone seemed to unanimously agree that it was more comfortable, lighter, and breathable than either the Racesafe or the Airowear. To make things even more tempting, Redpost had the navy on sale. With the VAT removed, it was about half off of regular retail, which was too tempting for me to pass up. You can’t buy the Dainese in the US, so I took a bit of a leap of faith with it, but hopefully it fits and hopefully I like it! It’s definitely not like anything I’ve ever seen before.

Henry’s Christmas present was new blankets. Last week Horseloverz put the HUGs on sale, and at first I was going to order some for Presto for next year since he will definitely not fit in his current 72 by that point. But then I figured he’d probably fit in Henry’s 78’s next year, so why not give Henry’s old ones to Presto, and Henry could get nice pretty new ones! So he got a new navy sheet, blanket, and neck cover for a grand total of $130, and I’m happy because I don’t have to look at those ugly teal ones all the time now, since Presto isn’t blanketed much. Plus if he destroys those I won’t really care, since they’re already 3 years old.

As for Presto, well… he didn’t really get anything. He has everything a baby horse could possibly need, and since his current nickname is MOUTH, he’s been banned from treats for the foreseeable future. Hillary’s new horse moved into the pasture next to him though, and I can already tell that they will be great friends. As soon as Presto is gelded and Inca goes back home, they’ll probably end up being pasture mates. So there… I suppose he got a future friend for Christmas.

a big cute derposaurus future friend!

Hope you guys had a great holiday and maybe even got a few cool new toys, too! Tell me everything, you know I love horse stuff.


Ah, the good ol’ pre-purchase exam, a thing that strikes fear into the hearts of buyers and sellers alike. I feel like I’ve been talking and/or reading a lot about PPE’s lately, with several friends horse shopping and the recent discussions on facebook that seem to have been spurred, at least in part, by an EN post that mentioned the term “American vetting”. I’ve heard the term before from friends that import, but this is the first that I’ve ever seen anyone publicly talk about it, and it’s definitely sparked a lot of conversation in my circles.

My English Unicorn Hunter is also responsible for arranging vettings and knows which vets will do a good job and understand how to put potential horses through an “American Vetting.” I vet all my potential horses as they would be vetted by a buyer in the USA; this means a full set of X-rays including back and in some cases scopes and ultrasounds. Many horses with minor issues which I am confident won’t be a problem, I have to pass on, as I know they will not be acceptable in an American vetting even for a low level job.  – Justine Dutton, The Truth about Imports

I will admit up front that I’ve really got no skin in this game. I have owned 14 horses in my life and vetted precisely one, and that one I did not buy. Granted, I bred 2 of those 14, and the highest purchase price among them (aside from my very first horse, who was 5k) was $1500. I’ve always bought low dollar projects that were meant for short term re-sale. If I was spending a lot of money on a horse or looking for something specific, or to keep for the long term, I would probably approach things differently. With my history, though, usually if I’ve found myself involved in a PPE, it’s been on the seller’s side of things. These days I don’t do the project horses anymore, and I’ll probably never have the budget to buy something that’s already going, so PPE’s aren’t something I’ve spent much time thinking about. Thus, watching all of these conversations unfold lately has been relatively fascinating.

Definitely didn’t vet this one. He probably wouldn’t have “passed” by most peoples’ standards anyway.

Really there are 3 parties involved in the PPE – the buyer, the seller, and the vet. In the modern age of knee-jerk litigation, it’s in the vet’s best interest to go over a horse with a fine toothed comb, pointing out every bump, lump, and pimple. I don’t blame them at all for trying to be thorough. It’s the buyer’s job to sort through those findings and figure out what they can live with. But are most buyers’ expectations unrealistic? If they’re expecting every film to look perfect, they’re probably never going to find a horse to buy. It seems that some buyers think that any little finding means there’s something wrong with the horse, or that it automatically means the horse isn’t suitable for whatever job they had in mind. Yet horses don’t know how to read xrays, and many issues may never actually cause a problem.

The more realistic expectation is for the PPE to show you what’s there so you can determine if it’s something you can live with or not. I think of my horse, and all of my friends’ horses that have been competing for a while, consistently and with general overall soundness. Would any of them have a “clean” PPE? Probably very few, if any. I know horses running 2* with chips, or Advanced with kissing spines, or Training with a roar, or running Prelim with arthritis. Horses that, with some care, have no issues performing well in those jobs. I’ve found myself wondering – if I was the person vetting these horses, would I have bought them?


Some of it comes down to experience, of course. Knowing what you think you can manage and what you can’t. And then some of it just comes down to pure luck. Anyone who’s ever been around a horse for more than 2 seconds knows that they just love to up and die (or get hurt) for no actual reason. You could have the cleanest PPE in the world and the horse could still go out and permanently maim himself in the pasture tomorrow, while the horse with a terrible PPE could still be bopping around Prelim at age 20. I think all of us could probably think of examples.

If you listen to the folks who sell a lot of horses, they think that the PPE process and expectations have spiraled out of control. Hence the birth of the term “American vetting”. Do we have an unrealistic expectation of perfection in this country? I wouldn’t find that too hard to believe. This post from a popular and successful OTTB re-seller is very interesting to read.

This OTTB resale project had a chip in a fetlock. Still went on to a long career, even though it turned away several buyers.

Of course, it’s easy to see it from the buyer’s point of view too. If you’re laying down whatever is, to you, a large chunk of change, on a horse you intend to keep for a long time, of course you’d like to go into it with as much information and as few issues as possible. Wouldn’t we all like the unicorn with a picture perfect vetting and a lifetime guarantee? So how do you decide how intensive the PPE should be? Do you xray every joint, all 4 feet, the back, ultrasound the legs, scope, etc? Does the price point make a difference? Does the intended purpose make a difference? Some people seem to have their vetting practices down to a science. Other people, maybe those who don’t buy horses very often, often just seem wide eyed and overwhelmed by the whole thing, unable to process what the vet’s finding actually mean for their own situation.

So where do you stand on the PPE issue? Do you think it’s gotten a bit out of hand with buyer expectations? What do you look for in a PPE, and do you know what you can live with and what you can’t, or do you expect a “clean” vetting?

Blogger Secret Santa!

One of my favorite things about this time of year is Tracy’s blogger Secret Santa gift exchange. She is organized and systematic, qualities that I definitely do not have, and I really look forward to it every year. Mostly because I feel like it’s kind of fun to try to figure out good gifts for a horse person that you probably don’t know in real life, but kinda “know” via their blog. It’s a challenge and I like it. Plus buying stuff for horse people is way more interesting and easier than buying stuff for normal people, let’s be honest.

Grem with her bounty

This year my gift showed up before I’d even gotten the last item for my own recipient, which left me feeling extra good at this whole adulting thing. Some of y’all are seriously on top of this. It’s admirable. Mine won’t get there until the 22nd (says USPS, if you care to believe those dreamcrushers), but hey… at least it wasn’t late?

Anyway, my own gift arrived last week and I considered waiting until Christmas for about .5 seconds, but then nah. Grem was very excited to help me open it and examine the contents – peppermint SmartCookies, a navy surcingle belt, and some lotion. All very solid gifts! Especially considering that I know I’m challenging to shop for, and I was 0% helpful when filling out my secret santa form, just putting “Surprise me!” in there. I’m the worst.

how cute was the card?

My Secret Santa was Ashlyn at Pembrokes & Ponies, which was totally fitting since she’s a fellow corgi owner. She did a great job picking out stuff for us, and we love everything. Henry has already mowed through half of the treats


and I wore the belt foxhunting last weekend!

someone really should clean that mirror

It’s possible that Grem absconded with the lotion and I lost it under the coffee table for a few days, but it’s been recovered. For now. Who knew tubes of lotion could sub as cat toys?

Thanks Ashlyn, you nailed it!

Near Death Experiences

Lest anyone get the impression from this blog that Henry is a perfect angel unicorn, let me ruin that for you right now. While it’s true that yes, he is pretty much always good when it matters, he is also a cheeky little shit, always planning and timing his naughtiness very deliberately. It’s devious and clever, which shows intelligence, and I respect that. To be honest it’s one of the reasons I love him, he always keeps me laughing, but don’t tell him that.

Probably thinking about what naughty thing he’s gonna try next

Whether it’s because of Henry or just mere coincidence, Presto is starting to show the same quality. He’s certainly less sophisticated about it, and nowhere near as sure of himself, but I do find him doing little things he knows he’s not supposed to, peeking at me out of the corner of his eye and doing the horse equivalent of cackling evilly to himself. I have one Cheeky Shit and one Cheeky Shit In Training. And their combined Cheeky Shittiness has almost landed me in the dirt twice in the past week.

Last week I wanted to give Henry an easy day before foxhunting, so I hopped on him bareback, grabbed Presto, and we went out for a pony in the fields. I do this all the time. This day, though, it was SUPER windy. The wind was howling and crap was blowing all over the place. Henry is always a little extra spooky in weather like that. Maybe it wasn’t the best day for a bareback pony, but, ya know… I ain’t got no sense.

y’all should definitely be taking bets on when I hit the dirt, because it’s totally a matter of “when” and not “if”.

Butting up to the back fence line of our barn’s property, they’ve been building a big gross new subdivision. It’s loud, it’s noisy, I hate every inch of it, but the horses are used to all the commotion by now. What I hate most about it, though, is the trash. The construction workers seem to think that walking a few feet to the dumpster is impossible, and instead they just leave their trash out, or, even better, throw it over the fence into our field. Rarely a day goes by without drink containers, paper bags, and plastic bags full of some kind of trash slowly rolling across our otherwise beautiful fields in the wind, or stuck in the fence and fluttering loudly. I have yelled at the construction workers before. I will probably yell at them again. At this point I just want them to be finished so that I can be annoyed about something else besides all their damn trash.

Anyway, on that day it was no different. There was a big, split open bag of Whataburger trash sitting just across the fence line. Since I’m big into horse torture (according to Presto) I marched the boys right up to it so they could face the scary flapping thing. Henry was a bit skeptical, but Presto didn’t even seem to notice. I nudged them closer, and Presto finally seemed to realize it was there, reaching down with his nose to sniff it.

oooo what dis?

And then… HE. PICKED. IT. UP.

Presto, greatly amused with his newly acquired toy, came right at Henry’s face with the flapping plastic bag.

Poor already-spooky-because-of-the-wind Henry just about had a damn heart attack. A foot splayed out in each direction for a split second before he spun and took off, which only made the bag-wielding baby follow behind him, of course. I came millimeters from going off the side, clinging to Henry with everything I had, while also trying to hold on to the idiot bag flailer. Luckily in his confusion about what was wrong with Henry, Presto quickly lost his grip on the bag, looking very sad as it plopped back down to the ground. After a few seconds I was able to convince Henry that he was safe again. Of course, he spent the entire rest of the ride jigging with his eyes bugging out the sides of his head, clearly traumatized.

You’d have thought I learned my lesson that day, but nah.

Do not believe this innocent face, it is full of deception and lies

On Sunday, we headed out for another easy ponying hack, bareback and in a sidepull, since Henry had foxhunted the day before. I figured he might be a little tired and stiff and enjoy a nice long walk, but hahahahahahahahahaha that’s funny. He had that devious look in his eye before I even got on, I think seeking some kind of retribution for the bag incident. He was walking in that very deliberate way where I knew he was just WAITING for something to spook at (a trick he employs sometimes just for funsies), and it wasn’t long before a rabbit popped out of the bushes up ahead, giving him the perfect excuse. He spun with no warning, scaring the crap out of half-asleep Inca and Presto, setting off a chain reaction of scattering baby horses. I had to let go of Presto lest I get dragged right off the side of Henry as they went opposite directions, and I swear I could hear Henry laughing at all of the glorious chaos he had caused. For the second time in a matter of days I almost went flying off the side of a spooking Henry, but this time it was all Henry’s doing. Retribution achieved.


As soon as he got that out of system he was magically cured of his spookiness (omg it’s a freakin’ Christmas miracle), and I made him trot Presto around a little bit in the other field since CLEARLY he wasn’t tired at all.

Pretty sure Henry has no regrets and says it was all totally worth it, although I’m sporting sore muscles in some really strange places right about now.

Bloghop: Favorites of 2018

I’ve gotten a little tired of writing the same year-end wrap up posts that I’ve always done, basically just summarizing what a lot of flipping backwards through the blog could already show you. I’ve been brainstorming ways to come at it from different angles this year, like my favorite products of the year, or my show season wrap up. But they can get a little wordy sometimes, and without enough pictures (IMO), so I decided to do a “Favorites” post, featuring fewer words and more pictures. That’s always better.

Favorite show picture


I mean, geez Henry could you be any cuter? But also like… I legit never freaking imagined we’d be cantering around Prelim stadium at Texas freaking Rose, so this is a little bit of a surreal picture to look at in a lot of ways for me. I was also so proud of Henry that day, I could have burst, and that’s what really sticks with me.

Favorite non-show picture


Bringing Presto home in April was definitely life-changing, but having both of my boys together has been so fun. I love how they interact, and I love having Henry to help teach Presto about life. I didn’t really anticipate that when I originally decided to bring Presto to the barn, so it’s been maybe the biggest unexpectedly amazing thing of the year. They’re both incredibly special to me, and it makes my heart happy every day to have them together. I feel like this picture captures that pretty well.

Favorite thing you bought 


The new-to-us, majorly upgraded trailer was a little bit of an unplanned impulse purchase, but I regret nothing. I’d do it again in a heartbeat without so much as a second thought. The boys really deserved an upgraded ride, and now I don’t have to worry about longer hauls or any of the paranoia that came with having a really old trailer. I will never forget our first one, she gave us a freedom that was priceless, but it was well past time to move on. Our new ride has been AWESOME and I can’t wait to take it on some longer trips next year.

Favorite moment on horseback

A GIF is technically still a picture, right? But yeah, I don’t know that anything will ever top the feeling of crossing the finish line at our first Prelim. It just won’t. It still gives me goosebumps and makes me emotional just thinking about it. That’s what dreams coming true looks like.

Favorite moment out of the saddle


Watching Presto show at FEH Championships was emotional too, but in a different way. I’m not sure that the sharp memories of his early days and struggles will ever fully leave my psyche, they’re embedded so deep. I fret and fuss over him a lot because of it, in a relatively non-stop way. I know his every lump, bump, and imperfection, and I obsess over them. But on this day I just stood back and took a deep breath and enjoyed the moment. The fact that he’s still here, and we’d made it that far. To see a horse that I bred, who’s mother is a horse I also bred, in that big environment, and looking like he belonged… it was a really rewarding and jubilant moment.

Favorite “between the ears” picture


Have I mentioned how much I love these two idiots? After a long hard day there’s nothing a nice hack in the field with these two can’t fix.

Favorite horse book or article

Brain Training for Riders

It was tough for me to narrow this down to one, because I feel like I read a lot of good horse-related books and articles this year that really stuck with me. This book was one of 4 sports psychology related books that I purchased, and it has emerged as my favorite. I still haven’t made it all the way to the end yet (almost!), and some of it is a little gimmicky, but it’s also been REALLY helpful for me as far as thinking my way through things and being able to focus. Life-changing, honestly, and I like the methodical and progressive way that the book lays everything out.

Favorite horse ridden (or groomed/cared for) aside from your own

I forever claim first dibs on Flat if something happens to Trainer. You heard it here first. I’m ridiculously excited that Hillary bought one by the same sire, because all the babies I’ve seen by him have been super cool. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.

Favorite funny picture of your horse

Presto HATED the hat I made him wear for his first birthday. HAAAATEEEEDDD. Hahahahahahahahahaha. Which reminds me, I need to start looking for a hat for his 2yo birthday…

Favorite fence that you successfully jumped or movement that you conquered


I have no actual reason for loving this jump (on the Training course at week 2 of Chatt) so much except that I just thought it was a really fun, cool fence. I love big brush, and it’s almost like a little wannabe half keyhole type thing. It wasn’t the biggest or scariest thing we jumped this year, but it was neat, and I’ll forever be sad that I don’t have a picture of us jumping it.

Favorite horse meme or funny picture


Who doesn’t love a good meme? If this isn’t the most true thing you’ve ever read in your life, I dunno what is. And especially appropriate now that I have all 3 of the above mentioned animals. It honestly kind of sums up my 2018 too, between the corgi’s dog backpack, the cat’s shit robot, and all of Henry and Presto’s shenanigans.


Other bloggers: feel free to carry this on and add or change whatever you want! The only rule is that there’s gotta be a picture (or gif, or video) to go with everything.

Opening Day

After our first foray into foxhunting last year, I really wanted to do more of it this season. Henry seemed to love it, I thought it was a freaking blast, and it’s such good conditioning for the event horses. Independence Foxhounds hunts a lot on weekdays, which work always gets in the way of (pesky work, always standing in the way of life), and during the fall with our show season it always seems difficult to make it to their weekend hunts. Either we’re showing, or I’m trying to rest my horse’s legs a bit between shows. My trainer let me hunt one of her horses a few weeks ago, since I was in town for lessons anyway, and when the text went out about Opening Hunt (the Blessing) in the middle of a relatively empty stretch on our calendar, I was quick to jump on that.

Hunting on Flat a few weeks ago

The Blessing is Opening day for formal season, so it’s a big deal. There’s even more food and drink than usual, everyone braids and wears their formal attire, and there’s a priest doing a prayer before we head out. Very posh. Much Fancy. Since I had to be out of the barn by 6am to make the drive, I braided Henry down the night before and tucked him into his Jammies for the night. Of course, as I do every time I pull that dumb thing on, I had to stop when his ears were still tucked into it and make my “Lieutenant Dan,  you ain’t got no ears!” joke that I do every single time.



Henry is like “omg please make her stop”. I can’t help it, I find it hilarious no matter how many times I do it. He has yet to find it amusing at any point over the years. Guess he needs to watch Forrest Gump to get it.

Yeah I know, I’m definitely not a classy enough person to be foxhunting.

Anyway, the next morning I fed him, hitched up the trailer, rolled his braids up in 2 minutes (thanks Quick Knot!) and we were off! I might be biased, but I think Henry is a damn handsome foxhunter.


We had a nice big group, which was fun to see, and we all gathered for the blessing while little cups of liquor were handed out. These foxhunters, man, they are nuts. I mean, eventers are nuts, but these people are even more nuts. I am not much of a drinker so I stood there holding my cup, kind of wanting to gag just from the smell of it, before pouring half of mine into Trainer’s cup. Even my little half-shot did not go down very well, and I quickly remembered why I very rarely drink.

“Dear Lord, please don’t make this liquor reappear later on my horse’s neck. Amen.”

After the blessing was done, we split off into first, second, and third flight – with the majority of our group of eventers going first flight – and off we went! The hounds were off and running pretty quickly, but whatever they were chasing (here it’s usually coyote) was fast, and took off onto neighboring property. We didn’t get to chase them for long before they had kind of scattered and quickly ended up far away while the staff tried to regroup. Of course, we don’t just stand around and wait for long… we occupied ourselves by galloping around the trails a bit, exploring the country and enjoying the company. We would stop and regroup and get updates via radio on the status of the hounds, run around a bit more, talk a bit more, and people would pass their flasks around. This went on for a while.

part of our group

Eventually it was clear that they wouldn’t be able to gather all the hounds back up in time to re-cast, so all of us in first flight just amused ourselves by galloping around the property, or jumping coops, or whatever. It kinda turned into extreme trail riding, which is never NOT fun. Henry had a great time thinking that he was racing Flat (Flat is at least 3 times faster than Henry, but no one tell him that), and we covered a wide variety of different terrain, from gravel to sand to cannon-deep mud. Presto will definitely be hunting when he’s old enough.

Kathy got some video on one of our gallops, and I took some of a few people hopping over one of the coops.

After we were finished and the horses were taken care of, we all gathered in the pavilion for an awesome brunch. The dessert table was next level, featuring the cutest cookies I have ever seen in my life.



It was a really fun day of running around outside with friends, on my favorite horse in the world. We spend so much time working hard, fine-tuning, dialing in the details… foxhunting is like taking a deep breath, tapping back into that inner 12yo kid who just really loved galloping around on ponies. It’s fun as hell, and we definitely need to make time for it more often.