LRK3DE reflections

While I definitely was a little sad about missing LRK3DE again this year in person, I was really grateful for the live stream. It’s pretty awesome to be able to follow along with every step of the action, live, over the entire 4 days. What did we even DO before live streams???

First of all, I have to fess up – go ahead and label me a traitor if you want, but by the time we got down to the final 2 in show jumping, I was rooting for Ollie. Yeah I know, I’m severely in the minority. But I love that horse, especially because we have one coming next year by the same sire (Ramiro B) and out of an even more blooded mare than the dam of Cooley Master Class. I’m excited about the foal, and I thought it was pretty neat to see a repeat win for Ollie’s horse, who was absolutely on fire all weekend. Even if it means I get kicked out of America for not rooting for Boyd.

I also liked the commentators on the live stream, for the most part. Specifically the lack of KOC was nice, I have never enjoyed listening to her or her obvious favoritism. I think Doug Payne was my favorite of the rotating dressage commentators this time around, but most of them were fun to listen to and did a good job. Didn’t really love Laura’s showjumping commentary though, it was a little boring. Kinda felt like “they’re gonna want to rebalance here” and “he/she got away with it” on repeat, with a lot of silence in between. Given her experience in pure showjumping it seems like they could have gotten some good conversation there but I thought it fell a bit flat.

I was glad to see so many helmets in dressage, with 88% of riders choosing them over a top hat. I have to admit, I think top hats just look goofy AF these days, and it’s so rare to see an American rider in one that I do a double take. It makes me happy to see so many people that care more about protecting their melons than they do about “fashion” or relatively silly traditional attire.

The best part of the dressage, though? Ollie’s salute. I was DYING. He’s like “Did you bitches see that? YEAH YOU DID. BAM!”. I want to start saluting like that, maybe the confidence will help my scores.

As for cross country day, the rides that really stand out in my head aren’t the big name guys. It’s the first timers getting it done on sheer grit, and it’s the people who have made it this far with their one special horse that they trust 110%. It’s SO fun to watch those true partnerships, like Sara Gumbiner or Allie Sacksen. They have so much faith in their horses, and their horses have so much love for the game. Their rounds might not be as picture perfect as some of the bigger names, and they might not have the scores that are competitive enough to put them top 10, but to me they are way more inspiring to watch. It gives you chills.

Fun fact: the average blood % of the top 10 finishers was 62.8%. If not for Will Coleman’s unfortunate 15 for the flag penalty that cost him 5th place, it would have been 66%.


AND THAT FLAG PENALTY IS SOME REAL STUPID BULLSHIT, I HATE IT. I understand why they put the rule in place, I really do, but I just don’t like how it’s been playing out so far this year. I’m with Will on this one, that horse tried his guts out to get himself over that fence, and the majority of his body definitely made it through the flags. The horse still had forward momentum, he made every effort to jump it with his whole body as best he could… I just don’t like a rule that punishes that. There has to be a better way. Also Will totally said on Facebook what all of us have been thinking for a while:


Moving on to showjumping, I gotta give the top 5 some serious credit, boy are they cool under pressure. I’d have been crapping myself. Boyd’s round was about as masterful as you’d want to see, at a couple jumps I’m relatively certain he picked Thomas up and literally threw him over the fence. Talk about delivering when it matters most. The man has ice in his veins.

When they cut over to interview Buck during one of the breaks, I got one of my favorite and most memorable moments of the weekend. Poor guy has yet another broken collarbone, didn’t get to finish ANY of his three super nice horses at a huge event that they’ve been aiming for for months… if anyone has the right to go hide or be upset, it was Buck. Yet there he was, collarbone taped up, watching stadium and coaching and cheering for his friends. When they interviewed him he said something along the lines of “If you want to see real bad news, turn on CNN. We are all so lucky to even be here.”. He had nothing but good things to say about his horses, the people around him, the event, and even the weather. His perspective is one to emulate, and his sportsmanship is off the charts. Much respect to Buck.

Also I tried really hard all weekend to dislike Ollie, after all that drama with him and his over-eager whip last year, but I have to say that either they’ve done a lot of work on his PR or he’s seen the light a little bit. Dude was a class act from start to finish, in a way that I haven’t really seen from Ollie before. Granted, things were going well… we’ll see what happens when things don’t go so well.

One horse that really stood out to me a lot over the weekend was Paddy the Caddy. I’ve seen him before but he REALLY looks good right now, such a classy horse. Whatever they’re doing with him, it’s working. His blip on XC was unfortunate, yet even with a 20 he still finished with only 4.8 time penalties. Once they put 3 phases together, that could be a really legit 5* horse.

I was also left feeling like, once again, the foreigners tend to have horses that are a bit less “fancy” in their gaits but much better trained and well ridden. Just like Michael Jung – none of his horses are particularly fancy, but he’s masterful at getting the absolute most out of them. Piggy’s horse isn’t a great mover, the trot especially, but her dressage test was just SO well-ridden, she got every possible point she could. It’s interesting to me, because we tend to get hearts in our eyes for those big fancy movers (like Deniro Z) and forget just how much you really can maximize a more average-moving horse. Fancy is not required.

Overall it was a great weekend of sport, a good course, and just the kind of competition you want to see. The first ever 5* was definitely a success, even if I didn’t get to see it in person. I did make a little purchase yesterday that eased some of my sadness, though…

See you in September, Burghley!!!



The Long Drive Home

Sometimes I’m really grateful for that long drive home from a lesson or event. The ones that give us time to organize our thoughts and feelings, think about what happened, and reconcile things within our own head. Sometimes it’s a lot of positive, sometimes it’s more like wading and sorting through a lot of negative. This weekend was more of the latter.

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On Saturday we had a Ride a Test, followed by a jumping lesson a couple hours later. I was looking forward to a fun day, getting some practice in with both the dressage and the jumping. I’d never done a Ride a Test before but the format was appealing, since of course I’m always looking for ways to improve my test riding, and wanted to get feedback from a new set of eyes. Henry warmed up a bit on the muscle (warming up around XC jumps does not inspire a ton of relaxation in this horse, but he kept a lid on it) then went in and did a mediocre but not awful test.

The feedback was not what I was expecting. What she wanted me to do was basically the opposite of everything that any other trainer or judge has said, and I really struggled. It was messy, and awkward, and I kinda felt like I had no idea wtf I was doing at all. Like a rank beginner that should go all the way back to the beginning and just start over. Do I even know how to trot? I dunno. There were some good moments, and a few tidbits that were really helpful, but overall I walked away feeling really confused and honestly a bit demoralized. And of course, since I internalize and over-analyze literally everything, I immediately tossed aside anything positive. Instead I gathered up every negative conclusion and gave them all full time jobs with free room and board inside my head.

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Me, with self doubt and negativity

I was so consumed with stewing over everything that I forgot to eat or drink, and got one course into my jump lesson before I was shaking like a leaf and feeling like I might pass out. As you can probably guess, the jump lesson was a bit of a shitshow too. My head wasn’t in it, my body was hating me, and my horse was needing a lot more help than I had to offer. We did one more course before calling it quits, and I walked back to the trailer feeling like a total idiot. I’ve spent a year building my confidence and thinking that maybe we really can do this Prelim thing, but suddenly I just felt like a fraud. Who was I kidding, trying to compete at this level? Maybe the old me was right, maybe I should just resign myself to hopping around Novice forever and learn how to be happy with that.

Yeah, you’re right, this spiraled REALLY quickly. Things got dark real quick.

It was a bit more like bowling than showjumping

I stayed broody for the first half hour of the drive home. I am acutely aware that I’m sitting on a different horse than most, and I also know that I’m at a major disadvantage not being in a full (or even part) time program with a pro. The day-to-day stuff is entirely up to me, I don’t get a lot of lessons, and I have a budget that limits me to fewer shows. What was I even thinking, trying to do this? Was it even fair to my horse? Did I even want it?

I sat there at a red light, clutching the steering wheel in a daze, lingering on that last question. I think sometimes in this sport we just “do the thing” and move along like everyone else does, without necessarily stopping to think about what it is we really want for ourselves and our horses. What I’m trying to do is hard for me… do I really want it? It was one of those moments where everything got really silent in my world, and time seemed to stop for a second.

The answer that came through the silence was yes. Not just a little whispering yes, but a loud resounding, shouting YES, from somewhere deep inside the hostage situation that was happening in my head. I do want it. I want it for the horse, I want it for myself, and I want it for all the horses that come after this one. I want to push myself, I want to learn, and I want to be better. Maybe I’ll never be that great, however “greatness” is defined, but I never want to be the person to just lay down and stop trying to be the best I can be. Even if it’s uncomfortable and confusing and frustrating sometimes. I don’t love this sport because it’s easy, I love it because it’s hard. I’m a lot of things, but I’m certainly not a quitter.

Ok, it wasn’t THAT bad.

With that thought I felt re-invigorated. I decided that either I could let the day defeat me, or I could learn from it. Was I really going to let myself come that unglued over dressage, of all the things? Using what I’ve gleaned from the endless amount of sports psychology books I’ve been reading, I went through everything that happened that day, pulled out the pieces that I thought were helpful, and chucked the rest of it out the window onto the highway. It’s not a question of whether or not we can do this – I know we can. We’ve done it 3.66 times already (I’m totally counting the two Prelim phases of our P/T). Henry schooled great last weekend, even the bigger and harder questions. He’s confident and he’s happy. Our average dressage score at this level is 34. So while it could definitely be better, it can’t be THAT tragic. Letting myself feel so defeated was, well… overdramatic. I needed to get the eff over myself.

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sometimes I have to “tough love” myself

It’s a little bit embarrassing to share this, honestly. Things aren’t always sunshine and rainbows though, and I feel like it’s important to make that clear. I thought I was a little bit harder to rattle than that, a little bit tougher and thicker skinned, but I think after a really rough week at work, a lack of sleep, and a couple of less than great rides, I was ripe with vulnerability and it turned into the perfect storm. Clearly I still have a lot to work on, but, ya know… I’ll keep trying.

I also really enjoyed the LRK3DE coverage, and found myself moved a few times. It was just what I needed in that moment: some inspiration, some perspective, and some good examples of what true mental toughness really looks like. But more on that tomorrow…



More stuff for sale!

It’s time for me to start buying tickets for my Burghley trip, thus it’s also time to sell some stuff that’s been accumulating for a while.

I can take Paypal or Venmo for payment. Shipping is not included in the prices, shoot me your zip (here or via my contact page or via facebook message) for an estimate. I am not organized enough to hold things for people, so whoever pays first is who gets it. Sometimes it takes me a few days to get things boxed up and shipped out, so if you need something quickly please let me know and I’ll make every effort to get it out ASAP. Once things are paid for I will mark them SOLD here, so if there’s still a price showing, that means it’s still available.

Le Fash Paulo Alto white shirt size Large. This is a sold out style, white with a gray and yellow floral fabric at the cuff and collar and mesh vent under the arm. Brand new with tags, pristine condition. $70



Schockemohle Carina Grip silicone full seat breeches, navy size US 28, brand new with tags. $130


Schockemohle Libra grip silicone knee patch breeches, tan size US 28, brand new with tags. SOLD

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Tredstep Solo Grip full seat breeches white size 30, brand new with tags.  SOLD



Winston Equestrian breeches size 30, white with gray knee patches and gray/silver piping stitching around the waist and pockets. Some typical boot mark staining around the knees, not visible with boots on. Good condition, not worn much. Very similar to Tailored Sportsman or Pikeur Ciara. SOLD



Mrs Tutton’s (high end Australian brand) short sleeve navy and white pinstripe show shirt with navy pleather piping and collar detail. Australian size 12, so 36ish. – $35




Used Ego7 brown tall boots size 38 M/+1. Size chart is here. PLEASE READ THE FULL DESCRIPTION AND LOOK CLOSELY AT ALL PHOTOS. These boots have been well-worn and while they still have plenty of life left in them for schooling, they could use a couple of repairs. The interior lining of both boots has torn under the laces, more so on the right one. That boot will need an interior patch as there is currently a hole in the tongue. The right boot also needs a new elasticized lace, the current one is broken. My cobbler quoted me $25 for these repairs, but your experience may vary. I have replaced the zipper tab pull (just the pull tab was broken) on one boot. Zippers are sound. The sole, exterior leather, and inner leg E-tex material is in good condition, except for a small nick near the spur area on the heel of one boot. $100


replaced zipper pull tab
Interior tongue area of left boot
Right boot broken lace and tongue damage
interior right boot – needs tongue patch

Oh – and if you haven’t hit it up yet, Riding Warehouse currently has an additional 20% off their entire Clearance section (discounts automatically applied when you add items to the cart). There are some great deals to be had!

It’s in the Blood: LRK3DE Edition

Today’s the day – the start of LRK3DE!!! It’s the first 5* of the year, and while I have major FOMO about not getting to go, that’s being slightly eased by the fact that Burghley tickets go on sale tomorrow. Still, I will be glued to the live feed as much as possible.

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As a continuation of the “It’s in the Blood” series that I started last year, I really want to look closely at the horses at every 5* competition this year and see what kind of trends, if any, that we see. Just from the few young horse events and 3*-4* that I looked at last year, I already started seeing some commonalities, and also some things that tended to be a bit different in the US vs Europe. We’ll see if any of that holds true as I gather more data throughout the year.

We’ve only got 41 horses starting dressage at LRK3DE this year, since one horse was spun at the first inspection yesterday. Of the 41 starters, 11 (27%) are Irish Sporthorse and 10 (24%) are Thoroughbred. Those two alone cover more than half the field.

Of the 11 Irish Sporthorse entries, 4 of them are of traditional ISH breeding (TB and Irish Draught) while the other 7 have warmblood within the first four generations.

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Last year’s winner Cooley Master Class, registered ISH by the Belgian Warmblood stallion Ramiro B out of a Master Imp xx mare

The average blood percentage (so the average amount of TB or Arabian blood that each horse carries) of the entire field combined is 65%. If you throw out all the fullblood horses and calculate the blood percentage, the average still comes in at 58%. Only 5 horses in the field have less than 50% blood.

20 horses (49%) have a minimum of one full Thoroughbred parent. 12 of those (29% of the field) have a full Thoroughbred sire. 24 horses (57%) have a full TB damsire.

12 horses (29%) competed in young horses classes (USEA’s Young Event Horse series or the FEI 6yo 1*/7yo 2* classes in Europe). I noticed that if the horse started it’s FEI career in Europe, it tended to have done some young horse classes. If it was imported before it began it’s FEI career, it likely hadn’t (with the exception of the 3 YEH grads, of course). Not a surprise considering that we don’t have age-specific FEI classes in the US.

Quarryquest Echo was 6th in the British Eventing Young Horse Championship 1* class as a 6yo

I found 14 horses (so more than 1/3 of the field) that I could confirm were bred in North America, and 2 other “maybes”.

15 horses (37% of the field) have Holsteiner breeding within the first four generations, 13 horses (32% of the field) have Selle Francais breeding within the first four generations, and 10 horses (24% of the field) have both Holsteiner and Selle Francais within the first four generations.

While the overwhelming majority are Thoroughbred, Irish, warmblood, or some combination of such, there is one Welsh Cob x TB cross, one Connemara x TB cross, and one Arabian x TB cross in the field.

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Grange Finn Sparrow, Connemara sire of Sparrow’s Nio

2 stallions are represented by 2 direct offspring each – Master Imp xx and Windfall. Master Imp is also the damsire of one other horse. Windfall is the sire of the only two Trakehners in the field.

The most commonly seen Thoroughbred ancestor is Mr Prospector – he’s present in the first 4 generations of 5 different horses. Other recurring Thoroughbred names are Seattle Slew, Danzig, Nijinsky, and Roberto, to name a few.

The Thoroughbred sire and 1985 Kentucky Derby winner Spend a Buck is the damsire of 2 horses – Cecelia and Indy 500. The horse that was spun at the jogs, Tactical Maneuver, also had Spend a Buck on the dam side of his pedigree.

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Spend a Buck

And a kind of unrelated note but something I found while creeping endlessly around the internet scouring for pedigree information… Boyd has horse for sale out of Copper Beach’s dam and it could be yours for only 75k.


Who are you rooting for this year? I find myself without a clear favorite, so I’m mostly just hoping for a good safe competition for everyone. Well ok… maybe I’m rooting a little harder for the Thoroughbreds…

Tack and Equipment of Yesteryear

I was scrolling through a facebook group the other day when I came across a lady who clearly must have opened a time capsule from 20 years ago. She was selling an overgirth, a top hat, and a brass clincher browband. Ah, instant memories.

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I was raised in the h/j world but made a brief foray into eventing when I moved to the east coast after high school to be a working student. That was… a very long time ago… 2001. While I only stayed in eventing for a few years at that point, I do remember buying all the things I just HAD to have to fit in. Like all those Polypads. Thick like a comforter, utilitarian, and sometimes even reversible. They still sell them, but I don’t even remember the last time I saw one in use. These seemed to go by the wayside when half pads got more popular (and custom fit saddles) but I have to admit, there’s still something about that “look at me, I’m riding on top of a literal pillow” look that I’m a little nostalgic for.

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I also just HAD to have a navy overgirth (I’m not sure why, I was running Novice) because it was just SO COOL. And because back then I was head to toe navy and black. Yeah literally, my colors were navy and black. I’ve always been boring. That overgirth was badass though.

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I think I used it a grand total of twice.

I distinctly remember though that the Saratoga wraps and porters were a right of passage that didn’t happen until the upper levels. Until then you went around in Woof boots, preferably with lots of colored tape. We’ve certainly come a long way in boot technology over the years.

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I am cringing at this right now.

I hit the eventing scene on the tail end of the petal bell boot craze, but I DO still remember the very distinct clackity-clackity-clack, and all the awesome color possibilities. I wanted some but never actually bought any. Remember how they buckled on? It was so clumsy.

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You can practically hear them clacking in this picture.

I definitely had clincher browbands though, both brass and nickel. I’m relatively certain you weren’t allowed to participate without one. I have this framed photo in my office at work, pretty sure it’s circa 2002 or 2003. Clincher browband, poly pad, hunt cap, that awful pinney, a brown Kieffer dressage saddle that was literally like riding a slippery pancake… it is painfully retro.

why were the coats so FRUMPY?

Of course, having come from and then gone back to the hunter/jumper world, I remember a lot of their fashions from those day too. Like those plastic Ulster boots with the metal clinch tab closures. Those were THE JAM. I absolutely loved them.

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I’m also pretty sure that every horse in the planet either went in a square pad with a fleece fitted pad over top of it, or a Beval pad (the HUGE, massively thick felt and sheepskin ones with the wither cutout- it’s on Jez in my retro dressage photo) on top of a square pad. I still see McLain in a square pad/fitted pad combo and it always teleports me right back to the 90’s every time.

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you do you, McLain, clearly it’s working.

I also remember when white rubber reins were the big trend. I LOVED them. Not really sure why, they turned dingy and yellow pretty quickly. And those big thick fleece girth covers that never effing stayed where they were supposed to, thus it became a constant game of keeping that thing in place while you tightened the girth. If you were real fancy you sprung for a full sheepskin one instead of fleece. I also remember when ALL of the fly bonnets had tassels and throatlatch strings. Which kinda matched the fringe on your custom Journeyman full chaps, which we wore over jeans even in the dead of summer. Why TF did we do that?

You can’t really see them in this pic but they were black with navy and silver accents and black/silver fringe. They were glorious.

I sometimes find myself wondering which things we use now that we’re going to look back on in 20 years and think were so primitive or ridiculous. All of it, probably.

What are some of your favorite memories of the tack/apparel/equipment trends of yesteryear? Are there any items that take you right back to your roots, or any of it that you still own? What about stuff that you wish would make a comeback? I’m kinda still on the Polypad train…



I have a few random things to update on today and sat here forever trying to think of a clever title but couldn’t get any further than the fact that they’re all semi-unicorn related. My brain completely stopped working after that. So there ya go, enjoy your completely not clever but at least relatively descriptive title. I’m tired. How is it only Tuesday.

First of all, an update on our Unicorn virtual race. Bobby is getting his ass stomped. The end.

But really though, we’re both stupid competitive (or perhaps just stupid?) to the point where we might have killed ourselves a little bit last week. I found myself making laps around the neighborhood while carrying my mail, and speedwalking around the parking lot while waiting for a table at a restaurant. Did I abruptly leave my desk one morning to walk around the office complex because Bobby was doing the same while on a conference call? MAYBE. MAYBE I DID.

I logged 11 miles on foot within the first few days, but Bobby was still out in the lead. The morning after we got home from XC schooling I met my dad so we could go for a bike ride, since I’m a much stronger cyclist than I am a runner. Granted, it’s been like a year since I’ve been on my bike. What originally started as an “easy 10-12 miler” somehow morphed into a medium pace 23.89 miles. Because the only person I know who is more I will die before I quit than me is my dad. He just kept adding more, asking how many miles Bobby was at. My legs were kinda busted at the end, but it gave me a pretty sizeable lead. Bobby had also planned to go ride HIS bike on Sunday, but he chose to sleep in instead. Fatal mistake, my friend. Fatal mistake.

I don’t really have time to ride the bike during the week, since I’m at the barn every day, so I’ll keep plugging away with the walking and running and save the bike for the weekend. Bobby will no doubt be able to eat into my lead throughout the week, since he runs so much. He logged 4 miles last night but I clapped back with 3 this morning. I mean… I do have to let him catch up a little bit, to keep his spirits up. I’ve gotta keep him just close enough to let him think he might actually have a chance. He doesn’t.

Meanwhile Hillary is watching both of us kill ourselves to beat each other and has already called dibs on our horses. She’s smart. Be more like Hillary.

I had a few people message me asking which app we’re doing – it’s Yes.Fit, and they have lots of different races you can sign up for. Some are really short, some are a lot longer like the 121 mile Unicorn one, and all of them have cool medals and shirts. If you decide to sign up for one you can use code 7MzLFJU6 for $5 off. I have to admit, it’s a really fun group activity, if you’re really competitive and into self-torture.

Where we are currently on the Scotland route map. Bobby is the green one waaaaaaaaay behind me. Also am I the only one seeing that town called Scone? I am very interested in that town.

On Sunday afternoon we all met up at the barn to go for a hack. Bobby had Cannavaro, Hillary had Dobby, and I rode Henry and ponied Presto. It was the baby brigade, for sure. This was going to be Bobby’s second voyage out to the field with Cannavaro, and he planned on trotting a few circles out there at the end.

Headed out!

But he was SO good, and SO quiet, not only did he trot, he also cantered and jumped! It was pretty freaking adorable, Bobby was grinning ear to ear. After 12 years of pretty much only riding Halo, it’s hard to get used to and learn to trust a baby OTTB, but Cannavaro just never puts a foot wrong. He’s a unicorn for sure, and it’s really fun to watch him and Bobby start developing a relationship. It really could not be a more perfect match.

Trotting his first vertical. He still wasn’t that impressed.

And last but not least, in really exciting BABY unicorn news, Peyton is in foal to Ramiro B!!! This will be the second eventing foal for Willow Tree Warmbloods, and Peyton’s first. Ramiro B died at the end of last year but has left quite the legacy with a ton of upper level event horses (plus a few 1.60m jumpers thrown in for good measure) and a very high strike rate among eventing sires.

My favorite event horse ever, Ballynoe Castle RM, is by Ramiro B out of a mare that was 93% TB. Cooley Master Class (2018 Kentucky winner) is by Ramiro B out of an 88% TB mare. Cooley SRS (2nd at Badminton in 2018) is by Ramiro B out of a 70% TB mare. Peyton is full TB, so I’m pretty excited to see what this cross produces… in 11 months.

Horse gestation is way too long.

XC Schooling at Texas Rose

First off, yes I skipped blogging on Friday. No I’m not dead, but clearly I’m way too predictable judging by how many people messaged me to check in. I have a good excuse – we headed up to Texas Rose on Friday for a weekend of XC schooling!

Hillary’s new trailer is freaking massive

I’m always excited for XC schooling, but especially when we get to go to places that we don’t typically visit very often. We are lucky to get to school at Pine Hill on a pretty regular basis, but a) there aren’t that many more facilities, and b) they’re further away. It’s 4 hours each way to Texas Rose for us, but they have a lot of good questions on XC. I was really looking forward to schooling their giant weldon’s walls and the bank combos that they’ve had at the last few shows. Except… womp womp… they’d already taken all that stuff down and started moving things around for their May show. A few combinations were already set, and some of the portables were staked down, but the weldon’s walls were completely gone. I had a lot of sads about that. There was still plenty to school though, and since we were staying overnight we could split it into two days.

On Friday afternoon Henry came out feeling REALLY full of himself, and kind of proceeded to drag me over the first couple jumps. We had a bit of a discussion about which one of us was in charge, and then his brain clicked and he settled. We jumped a few of the gallopy Prelim fences and then decided to save him for the combinations. It’s the technical stuff that we need to work on most, so jumping a bunch of singles is just wear and tear for no real benefit. We did a skinny house rollback to a skinnyish hanging log thing…

And then headed to the water. The Prelim question here was a hanging long, a long two strides to a drop into the water, and then out of the water over another fence. We jumped through the Training way first, which was a coop a few strides out of the water, over a log in the water, then circled around and jumped just the down bank to the Prelim jump out. After than we came around and did the whole Prelim question, adding the hanging log – bank – jump out.

The two strides definitely wasn’t going to happen, not in a schooling environment anyway. I’d have had to really chase him at it, and Henry definitely prefers to pat the ground a bit at the banks. I’d rather just sit and wait and let him decide where to put his feet. He also definitely does not need to be encouraged to leap wildly off of banks, he already tends to be a bit extra about them. He was super honest though, didn’t even give it a second thought, just figured his feet out and down he went. He hasn’t really jumped drops into water much, and definitely not in a while, plus we’ve had bank issues in the past, so I was really happy with him there.

We jumped a few more things, then opted to call it quits and save the other combinations for the next day.

On Day 2 we went back to the same water, did the Training route again first, then the Prelim route, and then Trainer asked if I wanted to try popping him down the Intermediate drop. It was a little bigger than the P drop plus had two logs stacked on top of the edge, so it looked relatively enormous. I know I kind of looked at her like she was bonkers, and hesitated for a second. The thing that caused Henry’s come-apart at banks a couple years ago was having the log on the edge like that… he just did NOT get it at all. But hey, if we’re gonna try it, now was the time. He was confident, we were building on what we’d just done the day before, and if it totally blew his mind we had a lunge line with us so I could dismount and lunge him down it if we had to. So we came back around, going past the Intermediate jump to just the drop by itself. And wouldn’t you freaking know, Henry just popped right in.


Not even an ounce of hesitation. I was pleasantly surprised. So we went around again and this time added the jump before the drop (which would be brushed up a lot for the show, but was a pretty small little rampy thing as it was). I rode in quietly, so he could easily fit the third step, and again he just went right on through like no big deal.

He is 100% Good Boy.

Then we went over to the angled offset rolltop line, which was the thing I’d been least worried about of all the combinations. And of course, I proceeded to absolutely biff it. Twice. I rode in a little backwards and indecisive, too busy worrying about the distance to the first jump, and Henry was like nah fam, nah. He’s pretty tolerant of a lot of things, but if I’m squirrely and not committed, he doesn’t hesitate to put his feet back down. I don’t blame him. I was riding way too much to the first jump rather than being proactive and riding to the second jump. Once I put my eyes up and rode THROUGH it, rather than TO it, he of course went through just fine. How many times to I have to learn that same lesson? I dunno. A lot.

that sassy tail flip at the end tho

I was glad for that pearl of wisdom, because next we headed to the coffin combo. Prelim came downhill to a hanging log and then had an angled line over the ditch to a skinny wedge. The wedge didn’t have it’s brush on it so it didn’t look very big, but you would definitely have to be really committed to the line and ride up to it. As soon as we got to the log I put my eyes on that wedge and boom, we went right to it.

But, ya know… I took one too many tugs to the first log that time, so I had to come do it again without making Trainer’s eyes bleed (my bad). And again, he was super honest and good through there. It’s fun when you feel them looking for the next one in the combinations, like a heat seeking missile. He’s starting to understand the more technical stuff (okay let’s be honest, he probably gets it a lot more than I do at this point, he’s always been a quicker study than his rider).

It was a really good, helpful outing for us. We didn’t jump his legs off, just went for what would give us the most “bang for our buck”. It’s fun to push the boundaries a little and try harder/more complex things, and I’m learning where my weak points are and what I need to keep working on. At this point I feel like the horse will go however well I ride him. He understands his job and is confident enough to do pretty much anything within reason, as long as I’m with him. If I’m not, he won’t hesitate to peace out in a “mom, these are too big for me to do this alone” kind of way. He’s not wrong.

We have another XC schooling planned in the middle of May at another venue that I’m really excited about too. Hopefully we can keep carrying the momentum forward and figuring all this stuff out!

Equine Genetic Testing

If any of you are even remotely involved in breeding, you’ve probably heard about Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome. It’s a relatively recently-discovered genetic defect found mainly in warmbloods, and is fatal to all affected foals. Over the past year or so warmblood breeders (well the responsible ones anyway) have been testing their stock to check for carriers. WFFS is recessive, so lots of horses can be carriers and be completely unaffected, but breeding two carriers together results in a 25% chance of an affected foal. For breeders this is a big deal, since obviously you don’t want to breed two carriers and risk getting an affected foal that won’t be viable. There is still a lot of widespread testing being done, but the initial estimate was that between 6-12% of the warmblood population are carriers, and the current trend is more toward the higher end of that.


Several of the warmblood registries have moved quickly to require stallion owners to test and submit the results of their stallions, so that it can be public knowledge. Most mare owners are doing the same as well, to identify any possible carriers amid their own stock. My friend Michelle at Willow Tree Warmbloods wanted to test her mares for WFFS of course, but rather than opting for just that test, she decided to go “all in” and get a full genetic panel of each of her mares from Elaton Diagnostics.

everything included in the full panel

It tests a wide range of each horse’s genetic makeup, from their color genes to their susceptibility to West Nile Virus, the presence of alleles that could lead to metabolic issues, roaring, lordosis, laminitis risk, Uveitis risk, etc. I guess the easiest comparison would be to think of it as an equine version of 23 and me.

Of course, some of this research is more confirmed, while some is still in “discovery” stage and the information may not be super reliable yet. All of the details and reliability are broken down on this page. Researchers have even found genes relating to temperament, gaits, and speed (all explained here). If you’re a nerd, it’s SUPER interesting.

Michelle has a wide range of mares that she tested, from traditional european warmbloods, to ponies, to a stock horse, to a full TB, to a half TB, to an Irish sporthorse. It’s possible that I spent a while paging through the results and trying to interpret what all of it might mean. To give you an idea of just how much is included on each horse:


It’s A LOT! And admittedly, I had to google several things because I had no idea what the heck it was.

But let’s start in the easiest place, with the color results. Chestnut is recessive, so all the chestnut mares obviously only have two red genes. The bay/black mares were more interesting, seeing who has a red hidden in there… only one of them is homozygous black (that would be Inca), the rest all carry red and could produce a chestnut foal with another red carrier. Some of them have a genetic predisposition to produce more white markings, as well. The most interesting result from all of the color stuff (to me anyway) was this note on the Irish Sporthorse mare’s panel.


Even the ponies and stock horse mare didn’t have anything like “non-dun primitive markings” show up. Is it from the Irish Draught part of her lineage maybe? Interesting!

For a lot of the stuff under the health category, horses can have a couple of alleles (or even more, in some cases) present without actually being affected by said thing at all. This is NOT a diagnostic, in any way, but merely showing where there might be more genetic susceptibility.

A couple of mares showed a slightly higher susceptibility to West Nile, for example. The one with the fewest alleles present on any of the stuff in the health category was Peyton, the full TB mare.


She is the only full TB mare in the bunch, so I’m kind of interested in seeing what other TB mares might look like in comparison. For a TB she has relatively little inbreeding (only Nijinsky II), which I also wonder how much that contributes to how all this stuff shakes out.

Luckily nothing major showed up in any of the mares as far as being carriers, everyone is WFFS n/n, and it’s good information to know which ones might show slightly more genetic susceptibility to certain things. Not only does it make you a little bit more informed as a horse owner, it’s obviously important in a breeding program as well. Of course, like I said earlier, some of the test results are known to be more reliable than others, but still… more information can’t be a bad thing.


I admit, even though I own two geldings I’d be super curious to see their results as well. It doesn’t matter for the breeding side of things, but I would definitely like to know if they show markers for metabolic issues, or are more predisposed to vision issues or roaring or laminitis or West Nile or anything like that. Seems like really good information to have!

In case anyone else out there is interested in the service, Michelle did report that Etalon was super helpful and easy to work with. She’s got a call lined up with them later to ask some questions and get more details about certain things (especially what the stuff in the performance category really means!). I’m super intrigued to hear more.

Would y’all find something like this to be interesting and valuable for your own horses?

Damn you, targeted Instagram ads

I admit, those stupid ads on Instagram have snared me on more than one occasion. Usually it’s something simple, like a shirt, or some hair tint, or food. Definitely food. That’s how I ended up following (and thus ordering from) Makarohn, which I regret both 100% and 0% at the same time.

Image result for makarohn galaxy

But yesterday… yesterday Instagram got me reeeeaaaal good. I was scrolling fairly mindlessly through my feed, as one does, when a sparkly unicorn zoomed past my eyes. I stopped, scrolled back up, and saw an ad from Yes.Fit for a Unicorn-themed virtual race. It had a picture of the race medal and the race shirt, and let me tell you, that medal was a sight to behold.


A few months ago during one of our lesson days, we had talked about finding a 5k to do as a group – myself, Bobby, Hillary, and our trainer. We put Bobby in charge of picking the race, so naturally it never happened, but it’s remained in the back of my mind. I’ve been out of the running and triathlon world for a few years now, but I still love races. I especially love medals. And BOY do I love a friendly competition.

So I clicked on the ad, and it took me to Yes.Fit’s website, where it told me all the details of said Unicorn virtual race. It was 121.1 miles, cumulative over however long you want to take to complete it, and you can log running or cycling miles. All of their races are “set” in a particular place, this one being Scotland (hence the unicorn). As you enter your miles, it moves you around the pre-determined Google maps route, and you can click to see where you are on the street view. It was $24 (with a coupon code), and at the end they send you either the medal or the shirt, whichever you choose (or both, if you pay more money).

Our virtual route
Apparently I am here.

The best part is that you can add friends, and if they join the same race, they join your group. It shows everyone’s progress as they log miles and move around the map. The only thing the app really lacks is a shit-talking feature. How am I supposed to verbally harass Bobby? Guess group text will have to do.


Within the hour all 4 of us had signed up and joined the race, and now it’s on like donkey kong. Bobby logged his first couple miles last night, and I was up at 5 this morning to go for my first run in more than 6 months, since before I injured my knee. I want to make sure I don’t hurt myself again, so I kept it short and slow, but so far so good and everything felt great (it helped that it was raining on me so I couldn’t tell if I was profusely sweating or just wet). I will probably try to log at least half of the miles via cycling, so I don’t destroy myself (have I ever mentioned I’m competitive in a group setting? I will die before I quit.), but I’m excited. I think this format is WAAAAAAAY more fun and motivating than just regular training or trying to plug away at fitness on your own. Plus we can all do it on our own time, separately, but also “together”.

They have a lot of cool races and medals and shirts on that site/app, and we already decided that after this one we’ve gotta do the Nessie one, which is – you guessed it – Loch Ness themed. I mean, look at the shirt!!!

I also like the Yeti one, 39.5 miles through Nepal.

And this Peter Pan one.

And Sherlock Holmes.

I can see how this could quickly get addicting. Granted, the Unicorn race is one of the longest they have, so it’ll probably take us a while to complete. That’s good though, I think… it’ll require a little more dedication and effort. It seems like a good way to keep the motivation and the accountability up, since I know all of us are super competitive. Further proof that horse people are crazy, even when horses aren’t involved.

We’ll see how long it takes us to finish! You can bet your sparkly ass I’ll be posting a picture of the medal when I get it… just 119 more miles to go…

Q & A

Last week on Instagram I asked if there was anything in particular that people wanted me to write a blog post about. I got a couple of good suggestions, including one saying that I should do a Q & A post, and open it up to questions. I thought that was a pretty good idea, seeing as how we as bloggers just kind of put stuff out there as we please, but maybe unwittingly leave out details or forget to circle back around to things. I had some trepidation about what kind of questions I might get (you never know), but all in all they were quite good. So here’s the first round of Q & A, and I’m more than happy to do this again sometime if there’s interest!


When do you think you might start backing Presto? Do you plan on doing it yourself?

The plan right now (I’m fluid, depending on how he’s looking/feeling) is to sit on him a bit this fall and just do some very basic “walk, steer, go, stop” type of stuff in the arena to let him start to get used to the weight of a rider and the idea of working for a living. Nothing strenuous, just a reaaaally basic intro into riding, probably less than 10 rides. Originally I was planning on letting someone else do this part, but he’s been so easy and we’ve already done so much groundwork leading up to it, I’ll probably just do it myself. I’ve started a handful of horses before and I think he’s going to be quite simple, so that’s the plan unless something changes. After that he’ll be left alone again until next spring, where he’ll expand on those original concepts a little bit more in the arena, then spend his summer hacking/trail riding out over terrain a few times a week to gain strength and confidence and figure out his balance. Once he’s coming 4 he’ll start more real work, but I want to spend a lot of time getting the basics installed and making sure that his body (especially his back) is strong enough by the time the real work starts.

Would you train up another OTTB?

If I had more money I would have a barn full of them. OTTB’s will always be my first love, they’re what I know best and what I’ve spent most of my life riding. You can’t beat a good thoroughbred, and it’s so rewarding to see them blossom in a new career.


Which event horses would you want to ride?

Ballynoe Castle RM aka Reggie has been my favorite for a long time, and even though he’s been retired for a couple years no other horse has taken his place yet. He always seemed so kind and genuine, and like I could maybe ride him without dying. I feel like I wouldn’t be able to ride most of the upper level horses, but he’s an exception. Fun fact: he’s by the stallion Ramiro B, who Peyton was just bred to last week! My other sentimental favorite is La Biosthetique Sam, but I feel like the best part of that horse was watching the relationship he had with Michael Jung.

Image result for ballynoe castle RM retirement
Did I cry during Reggie’s retirement ceremony? MAYBE.

What do you think is the most important thing to remember when working with young horses? I’m not a professional so I admittedly get really uncomfortable answering stuff like this, where it feels like advice. I can only speak for what I feel, not what is necessarily correct or “right”. For me personally, the most important thing that I always try to keep in mind is that I always want to set them up for success. That means being thoughtful with your choices, being flexible, preparing them well, and working with whatever horse you have that day. I want the horse to be encouraged and confident at the end of a ride, and I feel like it’s up to me as the rider to make sure they’re prepared for what I’m asking them to do (physically and mentally), that I read their mood properly in the moment, and alter my plan as needed.

Favorite conditioning exercise for event horses? Definitely long slow distance (long walks and long trots) and hillwork. I think the less pounding you can do, the better, so I only gallop as much as is necessary and try build the fitness/strength in ways that are a little easier on the body. Especially important when your mount is an OTTB with crooked legs.


How is the Neue Schule bit working out? 

Still fabulous since the last update! No bit is a magical tool that automatically turns a horse into the dressage winner, but I do think that finding the right bit for your horse (whatever that may be) is really important. It makes such a difference when they’re really comfortable with what’s in their mouth, especially if you have a more sensitive or tense horse. For me it’s really been the key to unlocking that “next level” with Henry’s flatwork, where he’s more confident in the connection and I can start to ask for more quality and more difficulty.

How do you balance work, 2 horses, a SO, pets, blogging, and sleep?

This is always tough, because everyone’s life looks a bit different. I definitely prioritize the riding and sacrifice the home/social life a bit, while others do the opposite. The thing that helps me the most is having an early work schedule. Also I’m a morning person. I’m at my desk at 6:30am and leave by 3:30pm. My barn is a relatively easy commute (aside from that whole toll road a$pect) so I’m usually there by 4pm at the very latest. That commute is one of the biggest draws to that barn for me, and why I’ve made sacrifices in other areas with regards to the facility. A long commute is just wasted time for me, and time is at a premium.

I’m usually leaving the barn by 6:30pm (sometimes earlier if Henry had a light day and/or I don’t do anything with Presto), home before 7, then I make dinner and chill with the SO and furkids for a while. I go to bed at like 8:30-9 (because I am an old lady) and usually read until 9:30-10, then I’m up at 5-5:30 to start all over again. I try to draft most of my blog posts on the weekend or when I have some free time here or there… it’s time consuming but it also pays for my horse shows, so it’s become a priority for me. It’s true that between riding, showing, and my side gigs, I’m gone way more weekends than I’m home. That’s something the SO has just had to get used to, because it’s a non-negotiable part of who I am. Luckily he has his own hobbies and is pretty independent. If I’m doing other non-horse things they definitely have to be scheduled in advance, so I can work around them. In the summer I swap things around and ride in the morning, since it’s way too hot in the afternoon, in which case I’m at the barn by 6am and get to work around 8:30 (luckily we have showers at work, which helps gets me to my desk sooner since I don’t have to go home). With that schedule I have a little bit less barn time and a little bit more home time, which works out in the summer anyway.

What would your dream tack setup be?

I’m pretty lucky to have amassed some really great equipment by now. OF COURSE I will always lust after the cool looking new bridle du jour (I love them. They’re pretty. I want them all.) and a newer saddle or something custom or blah blah blah. But the truth is that I’m pretty well set up already with my Devoucoux saddles, Lund bridle and strapgoods, PS of Sweden bridle, and Eponia bridle. I’ve had a long and very satisfying love affair with Majyk Equipe boots, too, and all of the things I have now have worked really well for my horses and stood the test of time. It’s taken me a long time to build up my gear to this point, and do it on my budget, and I’ve busted my butt to get the quality of stuff that I have. The things that I may dream about will vary from day to day, but the things that I have are what is proven to work, and if my horses are happy then I’m happy too. But, ya know… if you want to put some navy piping on it, I won’t argue.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Somewhere on the East Coast, pretty much anywhere between Ocala and Leesburg, with a preference for the eventing-centric areas. The ground is better, the grass is better, and there are more opportunities. I can’t even IMAGINE living in a place where I could drive half an hour in any direction and have 5 different XC schooling venues, or 10 different top level trainers, or 5 different shows. That is just not my reality at all. Everything here is far, which makes everything here more expensive and more logistically difficult. Not that I’m not excited to drive 4 hours each way to XC school this weekend, but ya know. I think of how much more I could get done living in a place like that, how many more opportunities I could make for myself, how much further I could stretch my dollars, and the temptation to uproot my entire life is real.

If you have more questions feel free to drop them in the comments, or shoot me a message/email!