A for Effort

Ok before I recap the goings-on around here, first I have to post these pictures. This was one year ago today:

And this was on Friday:


Omg. OMG. O. M. G. By this time next year I think he might dwarf Henry.

Anyway, on to the weekend that went awry. I had entered a little local show, doing two dressage tests only (Prelim A and Prelim B). Which I think is the first time ever for us to do only dressage at a show. Or trying to, anyway. Apparently the weather gods also share my feelings about dressage, because Saturday morning dawned like this


LOL yeah nah. It stormed its ass off all morning, dropping upwards of 3″ of rain in some places. The showgrounds got over 2″ in less than an hour, rendering the parking area way too wet to get trailers in and out of, thus cancelling the show. Hey I tried, but I guess I’m just not destined to fancy prance, y’all. Which is probably good because to be honest I’ve never really done more than scan quickly over the Prelim B test before, and who the hell even knows where all the letters are in a long court anyway? Granted, I should probably figure that out before July since Coconino runs the B test. Details.

So instead of a dressage show, Henry did a lot of this:


And I did a lot of this:

Bless these live streams. I was watching XC from Florida and XC from California side by side. And I love getting to see coverage of Prelim/2* stuff, which is much more in our wheelhouse than the typical 4*/5* stuff. Seeing how stuff rides, seeing the different questions, thinking about how they would relate to my own horse… it was fun. Also, California has got some really badass kids pinging around there on ponies. I was impressed. Maybe there’s a market for higher level sportponies after all.

The sun came out on Saturday afternoon, along with the wind, which helped start drying things up pretty quickly. Sunday was absolutely gorgeous, so I did that thing where I told the SO that I was going to the barn for a couple hours and it really ended up being like 5. Y’all know what I mean.

It’s just so entertaining, watching this llama
I judged the face-eating contest

The colt-starter guy that’s been putting some basic miles on Cannavaro wanted to ride him out in the fields for the first time, so Henry and I tagged along with them just in case. He didn’t need us at all, that horse was absolutely foot perfect, super quiet, brave and happy to go anywhere with or without Henry, and really relaxed. The guy was even swinging his rope around on him for a while, then put him to work trotting around the hills, cantering circles, changing directions, working on his half halt and his whoa, etc. I continue to be extremely impressed by Cannavaro, not only his brain (which is maybe one of the best I’ve ever seen) but also his quality. This is a nice horse.

oh ya know, just the baby OTTB hacking around the huge field for the first time, in a sidepull, on a loopy rein

After a stretchy w/t/c ride with Henry, it was Presto’s turn. I put his bridle on again, which he’s starting to hate less. It’s also possible that I’m bribing him, the only time in his life when he gets treats (because he’s a walking MOUTH) is when his bit goes in. Don’t judge me, he’s basically a dog so food motivation works well. Either way, it was the easiest bridling yet, especially considering it’s been over a month since I last put it on. I also had to let everything out a hole. His head really doesn’t need to grow much more.

That’s big enough thanks

We went out and did some long-lining, attaching the reins to the bit for the second time. The steering is decent. I mean… it’s definitely better when he wants to go the direction I’m asking him to go, but it does work both left and right. And the whoa button has always been good with this one. We made some circles and figure eights, went over some poles and between standards, and then wrapped it up with a mounting block session. It’s so tempting just to slide a leg over. So tempting. I know I could and he wouldn’t care a bit, but alas we’re waiting until Fall for that.

Found this little guy in the arena when I was moving jump poles and I can honestly say that’s a first

So maybe it wasn’t the most productive weekend on paper, but the horses still got worked and I got some education via the live feeds. Definitely not a waste. Plus now I get to be like “Oh darn, totally tried to dressage but got rained out, omg sad.”. Totally believable, right?


Gli Stivali

It’s been 10 whole days since I posted about hypothetically looking at getting a new pair of brown boots. As you may have guessed, my mind was already made up about getting new ones at that point, I just couldn’t decide which ones. I had a price point and I had sizing requirements but was relatively aimless otherwise. I went back and forth, up and down, to and fro, trying to decide.

Image result for i have no idea gif

I tried coming at it from the most responsible way first – ie the cheapest pair. An odd approach for me, admittedly, but hey lets try it. The cheapest of the group I’d whittled it down to was the Brogini Sanremo, which despite the Italian-sounding name is actually a British brand.

Alas the Brogini run short, which meant I definitely needed the Tall for them to even be passable. Which I couldn’t find anywhere without placing a special order that (with paying full price plus shipping) made them just as expensive as all the others I was looking at, which were higher quality. If I’m giving up some leather quality I want a bargain, so… nah.

Image result for i tried gif

Since being a financially responsible adult didn’t work for me (it never does), I immediately reverted to my true self. Although give me a little credit here, I did cross the DeNiro’s off my list because the leather upgrade that I wanted put them over my budget. Look at me, behaving myself (ugh boring).

Image result for de niro salentino brown

Really though, I couldn’t justify all that extra money on boots I don’t really need, but I also couldn’t convince myself to settle for the cheaper leather that I don’t love. That left me with two options left – the German brand Cavallo, and the Italian brand Pioneer. If you understand the title of this post, you already see where this is going.

I started researching the two brands, looking at reviews and asking around. I found mostly positive things about both brands, with a few detractors here and there for each. It was a stalemate.

Image result for stalemate gif
best gif ever

The price for each was almost exactly the same, which also didn’t help me tip the scales at all. In the end, it all came down to options.

The Cavallo boots are gorgeous, but only had one option for the top material that I remotely liked. And that top material was patent croc, which I really don’t like all that much. It don’t love patent. It’s just not my thing. Or animal print of any kind. It worked for me well enough on these boots to where I actually kinda liked it, but I didn’t love them. I wasn’t sure if they were speaking to me.

Granted, what Cavallo does have going for them is that it’s very easy to see and find their options. There’s even a handy dandy “configurator” online, so you can sorta feel like you’re building a pair. Granted, as far as configurators go it kind of sucks (it’s no Samshield configurator, that’s for sure) but hey… at least you can see all the options and pricing right there in front of you.

I only mention all of that because lord it was kind of a headache to figure that stuff out for the Pioneer boots. Pioneer has waaaaaaaaaaaay more options, but their stock photos, well.. they suck. The online swatch pics are hard to find, then hard to see, and figuring out the differences between all the models requires a lot of reading. Then trying to figure out what you can change, what you can change TO, and how much it will cost… LOL. G’luck. It’s awesome when you have a ton of options, but less so when figuring out said options is difficult.

They do have several major online retailers, and between them I was able to find the bulk of the information and pictures I needed. I had narrowed it down to the Atena model based on the leather and the general design, but it comes standard with a patent top. We just went over how I feel about patent.


First I had to pick an online retailer to order through, and for once the cheapest one was also the only one I had personal experience with: Equizone Online. I started emailing to ask questions, and poor dear Emily is the one that got stuck with me. I think we exchanged no less than two dozen emails. But she told me that yes, I could make whatever changes I wanted to the Atena model. The first thing to pick – what color? There’s a mahogony brown that is really pretty and has more of a reddish tone, and a dark brown that’s more like chocolate. When it comes to brown boots I would generally rather err on the side of too dark rather than too light (not a fan of anything even remotely tan or orange) plus my helmet and gloves are more chocolate (and so is that espresso Motionlite I’m coveting), so dark brown it was.

Second order of business: change the sole to black. That tan sole just looks perpetually dirty to me in pictures, sorry.

THEN it was all about replacing the patent. Emily emailed me pics of some of the dark brown options, since I wanted a top that matched the color of the boot itself. But the pics were kind of small and dark, and I dunno about y’all but I am NOT particularly good at picturing how things will end up looking as a final product just by looking at a little swatch.

Their “official” swatch chart also really sucks, just FYI

In the end I narrowed it down to the brown floral (which looks like lace to me), the brown glitter (bc sparkles), or just a matching plain brown leather top. The last option didn’t add any cost, but it also seemed sad to me to order semi-custom boots that had absolutely nothing special happening.

I was able to find a video on facebook where you could actually see some of the different swatches pretty well, including the two I liked.


I liked them both, in different ways, so I asked what the cost would be for each. Adding the glitter top basically increased the price of the boot by 30%, whereas the price increase for the floral was pretty negligible. I like a little sparkle, but I don’t like it that much. Floral it is!

Sizing and measurements were discussed (luckily I am pretty standard as far as measurements go, and she came up with the same sizing options that I had from my measurements, which was reassuring), the invoice was received, the invoice was paid, and now… I wait.

Image result for waiting for mail gif

She said Pioneer generally takes about 4 weeks, depending on how busy they are, so we shall see. I hope they fit. I hope I like them. I hope they end up looking like what I think they’ll look like. For semi-custom they were ridiculously cheap (under $400 plus free shipping) so… we’ll see.

I have to say though, if Pioneer is reading this: pleeeaaaase invest in an online configurator. You would sell a buttload (how do you say buttload in Italian?) more boots if people could mix and match on a whim and clearly see all the different options and what they would look like and what they cost. It’s great to offer so much variety and be able to create pretty much anything, but boy is it hard to try to guess at what you’re getting.

Fingers crossed that I like them! Although I already started looking at other Pioneer models that I like, daydreaming about what else I could create. Now I see exactly how Stacie ended up acquiring like 49million pairs of boots…

Low Pressure

As anyone reading my show recap earlier this week may have noticed, I was feeling super low-pressure about the whole thing. This is certainly a departure from how I’ve been about this stuff in the past, when I would be up all night tossing and turning with anxiety, or worried about getting the score/placing I needed to qualify for something, or so focused on the outcome that I was too paralyzed to enjoy the journey. I have to say, feeling no pressure about anything certainly makes the whole experience much more enjoyable.

I think the pressure we feel as riders can be really complex. People don’t have the same performance expectations of us amateurs as they do of professionals, necessarily, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have those expectations of ourselves. There’s also the guilt of spending all that money on a show. Spending so much time away from work and family not just when we’re showing, but also just trying to ride every day. The fact that we usually only have one show horse to focus on, so everything that happens seems like a much bigger deal. We generally don’t get to show that much either, which can make us feel like every single one is super duper important and we really have to make it count. We have so much time, money, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears tied up into this sport.

Add being a blogger/relatively public person on top of it and that means there’s more scrutiny too. We’ve chosen to put ourselves out there in a public way, for all the good and bad that that entails. If you have a bad show it’s not as easy to hide and just not talk about it, you always have to answer to someone and explain. Not to mention that a lot of people at shows know who you are (for better or worse!), and attention is often the last thing you want in that situation. So… it’s very easy to see how the pressure starts to add up.

I think this last Pine Hill show was the first time I really felt NO pressure. It was pretty damn liberating, to tell you the truth. I think a big part of it is all the time I’ve invested lately into changing my mindset and addressing the mental aspect of riding, I really can’t express how important that’s been for me. It’s changed my whole perspective. But also I have to admit that there’s something really freeing for me about showing at a level I never in a million years expected to reach. I’m still very much in the “can you even believe this shit???” phase where I’m kind of just delighted to be here. I doubt we’re impressing anyone, but I don’t really care. My only regret is that I wish I’d figured all of this out a lot sooner… why haven’t I always just felt delighted to be here? It’s a freakin horse show, after all.

For the first time in a long time I have no particular expectations of myself or my horse. I don’t go into a show with pre-conceived notions of how we should score. For so long I kind of let the score define me, like it was some kind of barometer of my worth as a rider. Which is absolutely moronic, at best, in a sport like this.

These days I’m not trying to qualify for anything or prove myself to anyone. Honestly my only goal for last weekend’s show was just to complete, because I really felt like my horse deserved to have a recognized Prelim on his record (yes, I recognize how silly that sounds). We definitely take everything one show at a time now, and whatever happens is what happens. We show up, we try our best, we hopefully learn from it, and we move on. I guess that might sound aimless in a way, but after chasing big goals year after year with this horse, it feels like I can finally just… take a deep breath. I’ve spent so long trying to prove to myself that we can do this, and that we belong here, I’ve kind of forgotten to stop and take a look around and realize that we ARE here and we ARE doing this. What exactly am I trying to prove to myself at this point?

It also helps to realize that despite what other people may sometimes think, my horse is not a robot and neither am I. Sometimes he’ll get worked up and throw in a clunker of a dressage test, sometimes I’ll mess up and take a rail (or 3) with me. It happens. That’s eventing. None of us are perfect (or even all that great) all the time. If anyone wants to criticize me for that, they’re more than welcome. Along with having nothing to prove to myself, I sure don’t have anything to prove to anyone else either. The only opinions that matter in my world are my horse’s and my trainer’s.

I was scrolling through facebook the other day and came across this post from MuddyMayhem that pretty much summed it up perfectly. It’s a little long, but 100% worth the read.

This part, in particular, is freaking brilliant:

Y’see We spend so long in Eventing worrying:
worrying we are getting it wrong, worrying we aren’t good enough, worrying what our record looks like, worrying about MERs & levels, worrying about what we’re going to put on Social Media, 
worrying that we might die [wry laugh]. I had a chance for those 5 minutes to throw off those worries & just live & love the moment I was in. On that course I had left behind the feelings of inadequacy that I seem to battle with constantly & fuck me I was grabbing that feeling by the big hairy balls. 
Go ahead judge me for it, think I’m fool, that I’m ‘embarrassing’ because I don’t give a shitting toss!

By putting the worries and pressures aside, my whole world has changed. The self-doubt, the criticism, the never-ending comparison… girl, bye. We’re living in the moment, and loving every minute of this new challenge. I wish I’d learned how to not give a shitting toss a hell of a lot sooner.

At the end of the day, horse shows really just aren’t that big of a deal. We all want to do well, of course, that’s why we’re there. But this sport is so much more than that. No matter what happens, there will always be another horse show. I think that, at the end of the day, if you asked each of us what it is that keeps us showing up at the barn every day and putting the time in, pretty much none of us would say ribbons. We’d say it was the love of the horse, the love of the sport, and that feeling we get when we’re out there doing something so ridiculously freaking fun on a horse that we love so ridiculously freaking much. When you start thinking about it that way, and focusing on why we really do this, it’s funny how all the worries and pressures start to just fade away.


While we were off showing in Houston on Saturday, everyone here in Austin was getting slammed with rain. Like… to the point where it took me 3 tries to get home, because the farm roads I usually take were completely flooded and the police had them closed.

24 hour rain totals

I finally was able to find a way through, after 45 minutes of backtracking and trying again, and then basically had to Tokyo Drift my truck (which does not have 4WD) and trailer up the very flooded, muddy driveway. But hey… we made it. The ground in the fields was getting quite hard last week so I was happy to have the rain, except for the fact that it meant that Henry had to sit in his stall after a hard day of showing rather than go out like he usually does. Poultice and Magic Cushion are my bestest friends but he was definitely tighter in his body than usual. On Sunday morning it poured AGAIN for a solid 4 hours, turning everything into WaterWorld and relegating the horses to their stalls for another day.

This was a driveway

Luckily our barn has good soil and is on mostly high ground, so the barn itself stays dry, and the arena/turnouts dry out pretty quickly. By Sunday afternoon it was dry enough for a walk/trot in the arena and a hack around the barn, so I took Henry out to stretch his legs a bit. The barn was super quiet and no one else was around, so afterward I decided to put Henry and Presto out in the arena to chill for a while and give Henry a break from his stall. And also because I can seriously sit there and watch them for hours, they are so entertaining.

WTF, you can barely see Henry behind Presto anymore.

Being out with Dobby and Cannavaro for the past few weeks has definitely made Presto a little braver, socially. I mean, he still kinda curls up like a roly poly when Henry puffs up at him, but any smart horse would. He doesn’t immediately retreat like he used to, and he even thought about instigating a mutual grooming session before he wimped out at the idea of putting his teeth on Henry. Presto is naturally very low on the totem pole and probably always will be, but I’m glad that he’s at least learning how to Horse a little bit better.

He’s still pretty quick to go to the baby chomping behavior when he’s worried
We are looking reaaaaaaal 2 right now, y’all. And his legs have like 4″ of fluffy hair that refuses to come off.
Of course this swamp donkey goes straight to the one puddle in the arena

By Monday everything was pretty dry again, so they got to go back to turnout and I was able to do a stretchy w/t ride on Henry in the field (which has softened up perfectly in the way that only horse people could possibly be this excited about). After I was done with Henry I brought Presto in and decided to put a saddle on him again. When my schedule with Henry gets really packed, Presto tends to get less attention, so it’s been a while since I’ve really done much besides groom him. He stood there in the crossties looking bored AF and didn’t even blink when I just tossed the saddle on him and girthed it up like he was a grownup.

real good at this part

I took him out to the arena and lunged him for a few minutes, then put the stirrups down and let them bang around as he trotted. After that we briefly went over some remedial stuff like giving to poll pressure, flexing his head, and doing some “leg yield” in hand. Those things all stick with him pretty well by now. What really pissed him off was the bath he got afterward… guess it’s been a while since I hosed his whole body down. You’d think that for a horse that loves water so much, he’d be less of a turd about getting sprayed with the hose. Jokes on him, we stood there under the water until he finally just stood still and glared at me. He just bought himself a lot of hose time.

For those who have been asking, Cannavaro has settled in really well.

Henry is still kind of obsessed with his semi-doppelganger, it’s hilarious

The resident barn worker/colt starter spent the first week doing a lot of desensitization groundwork, which Cannavaro flew right on through. He’s smart, and he’s naturally pretty chill. Yesterday was his first ride on him, in the western saddle, and again Cannavaro was really good.

He worked on standing still at the mounting block, bending and flexing his head/neck, backing, whoaing from voice, turning, and w/t/c. Bobby has been riding him at the walk and trot very lightly since he came off the track, but this was his first canter work and first time being asked to do much. The first couple laps were slightly dolphiny (god, he and Henry really have so much in common) but he smoothed out quickly. You can tell that he’s going to have a REALLY good canter once he figures out his balance.

I totally claim dibs on Cannavaro if something happens to Bobby. Just putting that out there in writing.

I entered Henry in a show this weekend, just a couple dressage tests to crush his spirit practice, and opening date for Presto’s first FEH show of the year was yesterday so I gotta get on that. I love this time of year, there’s never a shortage of things to do with ponies!

I’ve also been considering doing a Q&A type of post, opening it up to whatever questions you guys have. I get emails and messages with questions all the time, but I never thought about publishing them until someone mentioned it. So if you have questions you want to ask, feel free to drop a comment or send me a message or email… I’m an open book and happy to answer anything!

PH Spring USEA HT: Cross Country

Not only are we getting to recap the best phase today, I also have great news!

look who it is

Course walks with Bobby are back! At least this time. And they also feature Bobby’s dog, Walker, because apparently it IS possible to get more derp into one picture.

My XC time was a couple hours after stadium, but a lightning delay added an extra 40 minutes in there. I started prepping my studs early, which is good, since I realized I was somehow missing some of my favorite grass tips. I had plenty of time to go down to the vendor and buy more (I feel like I’m buying studs at every show, wtf) and stand around talking for a while before I had to go get ready. Henry took a nap, as he always does before XC. He’s figured this game out by now.

must recharge for All The Galloping

All the rain over the winter meant that they really didn’t change the course much from the last time we ran here at the schooling show. It was a little disappointing, but I also completely understood why and agreed with the decision. Dragging all those portables around could have really torn up the footing, and none of us want that. So since Henry and I had pretty much already seen this course before, barring a couple minor tweaks, it gave me the opportunity to focus on ironing out some of the things I hadn’t liked about the last run. Mainly – let him keep coming forward at the fences. Last time I took an extra pull in a couple places where I didn’t need to, so this time I really wanted to focus on riding out of the forward pace and not try to micro-manage so much. As long as he’s balanced, I need to trust that I can keep coming at the jumps.

Full helmet cam footage is here:

He came roaring out of the startbox, again. I’m pretty insistent that he stands politely in the box, and he generally obliges, but it’s so funny how he’s gotten to where he knows the countdown. As soon as I told him he could go, his ears went up to my eyeballs and he was off like a rocket. Pretty sure he never showed that kind of enthusiasm leaving a starting gate.

puppy smooches
Dad, is you dead?
Dad, dis is a weird game.

The first jump was an inviting little house, the only challenge being that it’s positioned a bit oddly out of the startbox. I just came out pointing to the right, got him lined up, and let him hop over it. I landed clucking, encouraging him to open up, since the next two fences are galloping. The rolltop at 2 is wide but relatively small, and going uphill, so you can just keep coming at it no problem, and then the red wagon at 3 is off of a bit of a turn, which serves to help rebalance you naturally. I could have kept him coming a bit more open at 3 but they all jumped well out of stride and he landed full of running.

Finally, media of the wagon! Thanks Kate! I swear it’s shrinking over time…

Then we were twisting through the woods over the Time Warp combo at 4, which… if you’ve ever felt a horse screaming “I AM SO FUCKING AWESOME” inside of his own head, that was where Henry was at by this point. There is no greater feeling in the entire world than galloping around cross county on that horse. I genuinely feel sorry for folks who have never ridden one like that, because they really haven’t yet lived.

you can see the flags for B around the tree to the right
Walker is already done with us by this point I think

Then it was around to the log stack with the big downhill drop, through the crater, and up over the skinny brush. They built the brush up a lot bigger than at the previous shows, which made me happy. I didn’t like how I rode it last time (I took a pull I didn’t need to take in the crater, rather than just channeling him forward between my hands/legs) so this time I took one half halt coming down the hill, then turned his shoulders, rode him forward back up the hill, and ping – he jumped it perfect. Like maybe a little too perfect, he rattled me a bit loose.

Bobby fell down the drop, leaving only his hat and his wine behind. (jk he would never leave wine behind)
I remember when he used to have to crouch down to hide behind the brush

After that we went left to the Irish bank, then up through the trees to the chevron. He’s jumped both of these well every time, but last time I rode a little sloppy off the Irish bank, so this time I made sure to focus on keeping my eyes up. Definitely an improvement (funny how that happens). I also really let him keep flowing forward more around the turn to the chevron, and Henry jumped it perfectly right out of stride. He doesn’t need my “help”, which is really just interference sometimes, as much as I think he does. The horse is pretty well-schooled by now, I have to trust all the basic work that we’ve done to get to this point.

The chevron birthed a Bobby

An Insta friend was jump judging the bank and got a cool view of us going through there.

Then we had a bit of a galloping stretch back through the woods, so I let him open up as much as he wanted. The approach to the trakehner is a little awkward because there’s a tree right in the middle of your path, so I took the inside route and let him keep coming, slightly angling the trakehner. I got him a little bit close there, but he gave precisely zero shits.

Fun fact: Bobby hates this jump.

Then we weaved around the little paths, dialing down to more of a showjump canter to hop over the little skinny rolltop out of the woods and back into the main field. From there we went to the water, jumping over the log down into it, then out the other side and over the bending line of arks. Henry slipped just a touch coming out of the water, so I rode a little quieter into the arks, but he handled it all just fine.



not sure if this is prayer or yoga
This is definitely prayer

After the arks we had another longer gallop stretch back up the hill, with just a little bench along the way. He hopped that right out of stride like it wasn’t even there, then we were up the hill and hanging a left turn to the corner, then around the pond back to the boat table. He totally locked onto an unflagged jump before the corner (again – he did that last time too) and I had to turn him off of it, but he immediately locked onto the corner instead. The footing around the back of the pond was muddy so I eased off the gas, but once we were clear of it he was back up to speed in a flash.

Taking selfies of his boob sweat, I guess


Rowing that boat

From there we headed back down the hill over the rolltop to down bank to chevron combo. As soon as I turned to the rolltop he was like BYE FELICIA and I was like a kid on a school pony, just along for the ride. He was polite about it, and patted the ground at the chevron like I asked, but he knows that combo really well by now and didn’t particularly need my input.

You can see the downbank, but the chevron is completely blocked by Bobby’s ass.
The ground falls away really sharply on the landing side, so Bobby legit almost rolled down the hill trying to stick his feet in this one.

The last two fences are pretty simple so I let him cruise again, hopping over the train car out of stride and then cruising over the last big box. I saw a little bit of a long one there, but there was no way we were fitting in another step without it being real ugly, so I just sat up and let him go for it. He pinged over it with no problem and cruised through the finish.

Toot Toot!


And just like that, we’ve got a USEA-official Prelim horse! We had 8 time penalties, which seems about right for my horse and a course as twisty and wooded as this one. Originally they had me as being a minute and 20 seconds over time, which… we all agreed there was NO freakin way… so for the first time in my eventing career I got to lodge an inquiry. I really appreciated the TD, she came over and I explained that they had me exactly a minute over what I thought I’d come in at, and she had seen me go so she knew there was no way I’d been that slow. That would have been basically Novice speed.

She immediately went in the office, looked at the sheets, and corrected it for me, no problem. I apologized for being a pain in the butt and calling her up to the office for that, but she insisted that it was her job and that it was important that it get recorded correctly. Super nice and professional, I really appreciated it. They also handled the lightning delays throughout the day completely by the book, which I have seen others NOT do at other shows in the past. So props to all the officials/staff/volunteers at this show, they did a good job of making sure everyone was safe and things ran as smoothly as possible.

he was still wild by the end of the day, just in case you were wondering

Once again we were the only Prelim entry (which makes me really sad, this is SUCH a good show, but with all the rain and being a one-day and with how the season works out, the upper level people just didn’t come) so we won by default. I’m happy with a completion with a clear XC.

With how the rest of the shows work out schedule-wise, and the heat, we probably won’t run again until Coconino. We have a lot of little dressage and jumper shows planned though, and a lot of XC schooling. This show was exactly what I needed to give me a good confidence boost and make me feel like we’re ready to tackle some harder questions. Henry is still just eating it up, and I’m starting to figure out how to trust the more open pace a bit more. We have some things to go home and work on, and I’m really looking forward to it. We’re in a pretty fun place right now in our journey, with all kinds of new challenges. It’s hard, it’s intricate, and it’s unfamiliar, but I love it. This horse is pretty freaking cool, y’all.

Bobby’s alright too, I guess.

PH Spring USEA HT: dressage and stadium

Somehow the weather gods were with us at Pine Hill on Saturday, because we majorly dodged a bullet! While Austin was getting 3-4″ of torrential rain and flooding, we only got a couple of very brief storms. Aside from two lightning delays, it wasn’t enough to impact the show at all. And really, I think the little bit of rain made the footing perfect.

Does he look kinda wild to you? Yeah well…

It was VERY humid though, which concerned me a little. It was warm enough to make the humidity a little miserable, especially in the morning before any kind of breeze picked up. Since my horse doesn’t handle humidity well, and we had a very long day ahead of us still, I opted to keep the dressage warmup a bit light. Ha.



The first half of the test was ok. A little tense, a little behind my leg, but not awful.

And then it started raining, which coincided with exactly when our canter work started. That was the excuse he’d be waiting for. So began the rodeo. He never actually bucked but his hind end bounced like a basketball through literally all of the canter work. If I put my leg on, it just bounced higher. The tail was spinning like a helicopter (I’m assuming for extra lift?) and I could practically hear Henry’s evil cackling.

can you feel the sass?

By the second canter loop I couldn’t help but start laughing. What else do you do? There was no salvaging that. He even spooked at A as we came up centerline at the end, like he’d never seen THAT before. Real nice. Much grace. So dressage. And that’s how we got our worst dressage score ever, with a 40. But hey, there are worse things than having a horse that feels a bit too full of himself to dressage. I just could not stop laughing at him the whole way back to the barn.

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Henry. 100% Henry.

Jokes on him, he has to go to a show this weekend and do ONLY dressage. HA.

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I only had an hour between dressage and stadium, so I pulled his tack off, stuck him in his stall to pee (and he peed A LOT, which made me wonder if that contributed to all the bouncing…) and drink some water, then ran down to stadium to look at the course one more time. This was our first time having both a triple and a double combination in stadium, but the only jump I was really worried about was the big square oxer at 6. It came off of kind of a weird turn and looked a little big, and have I mentioned I hate square oxers? Surely you can see where this is going.

I should also say that the ground at home had been so hard for the past couple weeks leading up to this show that I wasn’t able to jump much. Henry has literally been living in Magic Cushion, and I jumped maybe two fences that were of height and maybe 10 total. We haven’t had a stadium lesson since before the last show, in February. We were definitely rusty, and rusty isn’t great for either of us when it comes to stadium.


The rain stopped by the time I got back on, and Henry warmed up great. The issues we had in stadium warmup last year seem to be resolved (knocking on wood) thank goodness. I went in the ring focused on getting the job done, and not feeling too terribly nervous. We had a rail at 2, a big vertical, where I think I just didn’t keep his balance rocked back quite enough. It doesn’t take much for him to pull a rail at Prelim, so millimeters matter. The turn back to 3 was fine, and I was actually really happy with how 4 and 5a/b rode. 4 was another tall vertical off of a tight rollback turn, so lots of potential to mess that one up, but we didn’t. Then it was around to 6, the big square oxer. In all of my carefulness to make a good turn, I really ended up hanging out a bit too far, and then the distance was long. I had to ride up to it quite a bit, and while he cleared 6 with room to spare, we landed with WAAAAAAYYY too big of a canter and I didn’t react quick enough to put him back together in time to make the striding work. That resulted in a gross yucky half stride out, taking the rail of the vertical with us. 100% my fault. Not a good ride into that line at all. I overthought that fence, for sure. Lesson learned. Maybe.

The rest rode well, although he did tick the front rail of the oxer out of the triple. I was happy with how I rode that line, so oh well.

Aside from my mistake in the line from 6 to 7, I was happy with it. That was the only real oops. Mostly though, I was pleased that Henry felt so confident at everything. He was looking for the next fence and taking me there (albeit sometimes a little bit too enthusiastically). The size of the fences are much more comfortable for both of us now, and I’m glad that we could make a mistake and keep going like nothing happened. I’m getting a lot more confident too. And honestly… I was kinda just thrilled to have our first two recognized Prelim phases in the books. I just wanted to get it done without doing anything monumentally stupid.

After that, it was time for the good stuff! Cross country recap tomorrow…

Foal Friday

I’m getting ready to head out to a show (our first recognized Prelim! That looks a lot like it might get rained out…) and I’m short on time, so today you get a short PSA and lots of pictures. Happy Friday!

For anyone who, like me, was drooling over the Schockemohle bridles, RW has them 15% off right now (not sure when it ends, maybe today?). Buy me a black one. K thanks.


Moving on to the best part: more Nalah pictures! She is a week old now but these pictures are from the 4-day mark I believe. She is VERY active and spends most of her time in the air, bouncing from one place to another like a rubber ball. She’s pretty independent, loves to canter everywhere, and has already started jumping things in her pasture. These jumper-bred babies man…


she’s totally smiling

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Presto and Mimi

I think it’s well past time to talk about Presto’s most special internet relationship: his friend Mimi, who lives in France. Mimi hasn’t always lived in France… she’s from Texas and used to ride at the same barn as me way back in the day. Like way back. Like damn Mimi we are getting old. But now Mimi is married to a Frenchman and lives waaaay over there across the pond. Thanks to Facebook and this blog we have kept up with each others exploits well enough, over the years. I have bugged her on far too many occasions when I was looking at saddles in France (as one does when one is cheap/poor and they’re so much freakin cheaper overseas) but she has been endlessly patient.

When Presto came along there was definitely a connection between the two of them… a little special something reaching out from behind the computer screen. In fact, Mimi says it was really this picture that started it all:


The hair, the swagger, the derpy lip, the nonchalant “whut you want” look on his face… it all spoke to her. Was this her spirit animal? The seed had been planted.

Not long after, I posted this picture.


This time Mimi couldn’t resist the urge, and she posted her own version.

It’s all about the bangs

And so began a trend. Over the past year Mimi has recreated Presto pictures of her own, becoming increasingly good at it.

It’s kind of my favorite thing on the internet. Every time I post a goofy picture of Presto (we all know there is no shortage of those) I eagerly await Mimi’s response. I am the middleman in their relationship, since obviously Presto doesn’t have thumbs or WiFi, but they clearly have a lot in common. Even from 5,000 miles away, Mimi really knows how to channel her inner Presto. They’ve bonded over their mutual love of crazy hair and even crazier expressions. It’s gotten to the point where when Mimi’s husband sees her taking selfies he says “You’re making fun of that weird horse again aren’t you?”.

I swear that someday this needs to be made into a coffee table book or something. I keep collecting the pictures, trying to figure out the best way to share this with the world. Because it really MUST be shared. It’s too good. Their relationship is too special. Let’s face it, Mimi is the hero we need right now.

It’s a little ironic that Presto’s internet BFF is in France, since that’s also where his sire lives. She assures me that his expressions and general demeanor are very typically French. Can’t deny your heritage I guess.

Anyone else’s horse have an International pen pal? No? That’s not normal? Weird.


Let’s just say that, hypothetically, someone was thinking about selling some stuff and getting new brown boots. Let’s also say that, hypothetically, this person wants something a little bit different, not quite so “off the rack” and boring looking. But of course, hypothetically, they have to be relatively inexpensive. They also have to, hypothetically, come tall enough to fit said person, who likes at least a 19″ height. This completely hypothetical person loves her Tuccis, but has a budget like 1/3 of that. So the standards are hypothetically ridiculously, probably unrealistically high. Oh, and they have to be pretty enough for showing, a nice chocolate color, but also hold up reasonably well to regular everyday type use. Um, hypothetically.

Hypothetical Boot A 

These are the cheapest of the bunch, coming in at under $300 USD, although I’m having a hard time finding them in the Tall height. They’re also probably the most average as far as quality, comparable to something like Mountain Horse or Ariat. The accents are patent croc, so a little bit fun. For the money though, they’re about as pretty as you can get, and they’re not boring.


Hypothetical Boot B

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these but brown
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which looks like this supposedly

These are a semi-custom brand that has blown up lately due to the extremely reasonable prices in Europe. They’re a little bit more than the ones above, but not by a whole lot. The leather seems to be better quality. They come with a patent top but I think I can change it out for something else if I wanted.


Hypothetical Boot C

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I would do a different (darker) top

We’re getting a little more expensive now, but they’re a major brand of very good quality. I don’t love the grain leather, really, and I could upgrade to smooth but it would cost more. I like pretty much everything else about them though. Just not sure if I LOVE them enough to justify the higher cost?


Hypothetical Boot D

Another major brand, and reasonably affordable. I’ve never been much of a patent croc fan but it’s working for me on these. They have a few different options on the top but they’re like… glitter and snakeskin which are a bit much in that large of a quantity. They’ve got the longest lead time of the bunch, at 12 weeks.


Hypothetical Boot E

I’m trying to decide if that’s too much glitter for my taste… but same brand as above, different style to the top. About the same price, too. Maybe a little more fun/unique. I can’t decide if I really love them or really don’t.


That’s what’s grabbed me so far, anyway, that’s in the price range I was thinking (under $400-ish). I’m still looking around. There are waaaaaay more affordable brown boot options now than there were last time I was looking, which is definitely nice. Seen any really pretty, not super boring brown boots lately that I should go look at? I don’t need them necessarily, and I’m not in a hurry, but… we’ll see. Maybe something will go on sale? Hypothetically…

My Worst Riding Injury

I was looking through some story templates on Instagram the other day, and one of them asked about your worst riding injury. There is no way that the tale of MINE would fit in the little place provided, or even on an entire story page. Out of all the things I’ve managed to do to myself, including cracked ribs, a broken tailbone, and a broken elbow, there is one injury in particular that was far far worse than any of those. It occurred to me then that I don’t think I’ve ever told this story here.

Let me set the stage for you.

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It must have been somewhere around 2003ish, and I was working as the barn manager at Rising Star Farm. This is when it first started up and was located here in Texas, at a beautiful farm north of Austin. Now they’re in Georgia and have tons of stallions and mares and babies, but back then I think we only had a few mares and may or may not have already purchased the first stallion. We had an OTTB or two that I was working on to resell, and I lived in the apartment above the barn. I also had a little resale pony that a friend and I had picked up unbroke and cheap, as a project. We had named her Lexi, but we really just called her Po (short for pony. I know, you’re impressed with my originality.).

it tells you just how long ago this was, that I’m wearing a hunt cap

So one day I was riding Po out on a hack around the the farm roads – RSF was surrounded by other horse farms – at a leisurely walk on a loose rein. Po tripped over something, went down to her knees, and came up with a foot having somehow gotten over the reins. She just froze, and I went to jump off so I could safely unbuckle the reins before it turned into a wreck. Here’s where I made my error.

I did not make sure that I had completely cleared the left stirrup before I jumped down. In my haste the stirrup leather got caught between my legs on the way down, and I landed with my full weight, on the metal stirrup, on my crotch. I had somehow kinda slid down the stirrup leather like it was a fire pole, only the stirrup stopped me. In the crotch. Full force. WHAM.

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I don’t really know a good way to describe exactly what happened in that moment. The best thing I can say is: imagine what happens when someone gets punched really hard in the mouth and their lip splits open from the sheer force of it. Yeah well, that’s exactly what it did. Except to my lady bits. Across quite a wide area.

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I freed the pony from the reins and got back on before quickly realizing that I was bleeding. A LOT. It soaked through my pants within a couple minutes and by the time we got back to the barn there was blood pooling on my saddle. I quickly untacked and ran upstairs to the bathroom to figure out what the heck had happened.

Y’all. It was not a pretty sight. I won’t describe it in detail but lets just say there was tearing, and swelling, and things were ALREADY black and blue. BLACK. REALLY BLACK. In hindsight I definitely needed stitches, but I just mopped up the blood, got the bleeding under control, slathered some ointment on it, and proceeded with my day.

The next week was relatively awful. Wearing pants sucked. peeing sucked, showering sucked. Which… I was the only person working on this farm so I still had horses to take care of and ride. The state of my crotch had no bearing on the things that had to be done every day. I would wait to pee until I literally could not hold it anymore, and showered as little as possible. It stung. It stung real bad. The swelling and the bruising were the worst parts, though… there’s just no way to avoid putting pressure on that area with clothes.

This pony was actually really cool though

There is still a scar to this day, you can see exactly where I slammed into the junction of leather and stirrup. Out of all the ways I’ve ever hurt myself with horses, nothing has ever been as bad as that. Nothing. It’s also by far the most random way I have ever managed to hurt myself. I didn’t even fall off! I can tell you what though, you never make that mistake twice. I’m very certain to kick completely free of my stirrups before sliding down, even to this day.

Please tell me that someone out there has done something even dumber and worse than this. It’ll make me feel a little better.