My facebook memories popped up the other day with a picture of Henry from this time last year. The year all the hair fell out of his face. The year I took a literal bald-faced horse to Chatt.
How did this happen? Ah yes, let me explain.
See, I’m not always very good at being an adult human. I tend to be forgetful, especially when it comes to “errands”, to the point where if I don’t write it down somewhere there’s like a 5% chance of me remembering. One day I went to Walmart THREE TIMES because every time I went in I got distracted and bought other things I didn’t need, but not the one thing I did need (batteries. how hard is it to remember batteries?).
Thank goodness for the internet, which is my saving grace most of the time. I have a thought – “oh I need this” – and then I go order it.
Unless I don’t. Like if I have that thought in a meeting or while I’m driving and it completely exits my brain before I have a chance to jump online and place the order. That has definitely happened more than once. Which is how I’ve found myself needing bell boots for like a month now and have yet to order any, but if I order them now they won’t come before I leave for Coconino anyway so whatever.
Last year the thing I forgot to order was Henry’s tea tree spray. He’s really prone to skin funk, and a few years ago (after trying what felt like every other skin product on the market) I finally tried this stuff. It was magic. It’s the only thing that has ever kept all of his funk at bay during the summer.
But last year I ran out a week or two before Chatt, totally forgot to order more, and then traveled to the land of constant humidity and fungus. Henry’s face, which had already started to look bad in the days before we left, quickly turned to looking terrible. I tried a random tea tree spray (meant for dogs) that I found at a Walmart, thinking maybe it was just the tea tree factor that he needed, but over the course of a couple days it did nothing to slow the spread. I happened to have a sample size of Equiderma with me, so I tried that too, and I guess that was the final straw because by the next day all his hair had just… fallen out. I told you he was delicate.
I learned my lesson. Henry simply cannot Summer without his fancy tea tree spray and I really shouldn’t bother trying anything else, nor can I forget to order it. Now I order a new bottle as soon as the current one is half empty, because I’m not risking that again. I spray his cannons and his face daily, and if any other areas start to look suspicious, they get zapped too.
Looking at those pictures from last year really brought it home. God he looked TERRIBLE. Like a sad homeless horse that no one loved. Gah. Of course, the weather here this year has been super humid and sticky, the worst conditions for his skin. So what’s he looking like this summer, with daily use of his tea tree spray?
I’m telling you, man, this stuff must have unicorn tears in it or something. I don’t know what kind of magic they’re bottling but I’m gonna keep buying it.
What products can you not live without in the summer?
I guess my brain is just stuck in the breeding groove this week but I found myself sitting here thinking “if I could have any mare in the world, who would it be, and who would I breed her to”? Admittedly, I do this probably at least once a year. I’m a weirdo like that. It’s kinda like that classic “what’s your dream horse” question, but with another layer of critical thinking, because now you have to come up with the recipe, not just the end result.
So here are the rules: if you were breeding for yourself, a horse that you would keep and raise and eventually ride – what parents would you pick? Preferably something well known, since that makes it more fun, but hey… go wild.
I believe very strongly that the most important part of the breeding equation is the mare. I also know that if I was breeding for something for me to keep and ride myself, I’d pick different crosses than I would if I was breeding to sell/for 5* level. So I’ll start with the mares. Yes plural, because I have 2 that I can’t pick between: Classic Moet and Fischerrocana. They are a bit similar in that neither of them is particularly remarkable or flashy. They’re both plain, they’re both average movers and jumpers (ie something I could actually stand a chance of being able to ride), and they both have a lot of thoroughbred blood. But what they also both have is rideability, trainability, grit, and a lot of heart. The description of Classic Moet on Janelle Price’s website is enough to seal the deal for me:
Molly would, if she were a person, come from Swindon ( Or West Auckland for our NZ followers), be a couple of stone overweight, have several tattoos, wear a too tight leather jacket over skintight leopard skin pants and have a boyfriend with an IQ of 10 who is a club bouncer and 4 children by 4 different fathers. Molly is a legend but a kind of rock and roll one like Mick Jagger as opposed to the Princess type!
And since, in this particular fantasy, I’m breeding for something to keep for myself, that means I’m not looking to make a 5* horse. I’m looking for something that can forgive mistakes, get me out of trouble, and is always forward-thinking and looking for the flags. Something with 3* talent, with cross country as it’s strongest phase because I don’t want to die.
For Classic Moet, I’m thinking Irish. Classic Moet has a bit of an odd jumping style, so I’m going to stick with one that produces more conventional horses stylistically, and one who’s offspring seem to be pretty rideable on the flat. I’m also gonna go for the weird color, and I generally DETEST breeding for color as a general rule but this is one I would pick even if he was plain bay. Tullabeg Fusion is also about half TB, so I’d still have a horse with a lot of blood.
And since I’m in charge here in this fantasy, I’m gonna go ahead and say that the resulting foal looks like this
and grows up to jump like this
and have Classic Moet’s bad bitch mentality.
Fischerrocana is a really fun one, too. She’s more conventional than Classic Moet, with a bit less thoroughbred blood. I love that she seems like she would absolutely turn herself inside out for her rider – those are the best kind of horses, especially when it’s a mare.
Again, if I was breeding her for 5* I would make a different choice, but since we’re still playing by the rules of “something I have to be able to ride”, I’m going to go with my favorite boy Mighty Magic. Y’all know I’m biased, and he produces really good cross country horses. They’re just my type, from goofy temperament to how they’re built. He should add a little size, and it might end up a little chunky, but it should also be a heat-seeking missile for cross country fences and happy to jump them with or without my assistance.
Naturally, it’s gonna look like this:
Interestingly, Classic Moet has already had an Upsilon foal (via ET), an excellent choice for 5* IMO, and one that I probably wouldn’t have a chance in hell of being able to ride myself.
So, who would your choices be? A hunter? A showjumper? An eventer? A western horse maybe? Tell me your recipe!
Presto’s got a new little half-sibling! Well… he will (hopefully) in about 325 days. Sadie is officially in foal.
It was an end of season hail mary, one last attempt before wrapping things up for this year. Michelle decided to try fresh instead of frozen, and after we wracked our brains for a few days trying to think of a stallion available fresh that got us both excited, we landed on a bit of an “outside the box” option.
When we were in Ocala for the FEH symposium in February, we both really loved one colt in particular. He’s still a baby, but there was something about him that grabbed both of us. His pedigree is superb, he’s a fantastic mover, really nicely put together, and should be able to jump a house. He’s stuck with me ever since. Michelle got in touch with his owner, who agreed to have semen collected and shipped, and now here we are. It worked! This will be his first foal.
He’s by the showjumper Herald 3, who jumped through the 1.60m level. Herald 3 is by Heraldik xx, my personal favorite, out of a mare with L and M holsteiner lines on the bottom. If a lot of that sounds familiar it’s because you’ve seen it before in Presto’s sire, Mighty Magic, who’s dam is by Heraldik with L and M Holsteiner lines on the bottom. What can I say, I have a type.
Hopefully that little black dot settles in there and makes itself at home.
We’ve also still got Peyton in foal to Ramiro B, and Daisy and Stormie arein foal to the French jumper pony Usandro. First time using the frozen Usandro semen that WTW imported, and first pregnancies! These will be his first foals in the US. So that makes 4 foals coming in 2020, hopefully, which is a good number. For the ones that didn’t get pregnant this year for whatever reason, they’ll start early next year.
And if you haven’t seen this video of Stormie’s 2019 sportpony foal, Nunez… you’re missing out. He’s the zoomiest little creature I’ve ever seen! Too bad pony racehorses aren’t really a thing.
Despite going to Young Event Horse/Future Event Horse symposiums and courses and clinics for a few years now, I only became involved as a competitor starting last year. Presto went to two FEH shows in 2018 – one qualifier judged by Peter Gray, and then Championships judged by Peter Gray and Robin Walker. I had really good experiences at both shows with both judges, and agreed pretty much 100% with all 3 score sheets we got and the comments on them.
The main complaint I’ve heard over the years regarding the FEH program has been the judging, particularly with regards to inconsistency. It was one of the reasons I wanted to learn so much about how they’re supposed to judge, what they’re looking for, how it works, etc before I got involved. And last year, I had very positive and consistent experiences. I came away from both shows feeling like I got completely appropriate feedback. The scores were fair and so were the assessments. Peter and Robin disagreed a little on a couple minor things at Championships, as is to be expected from one person to the next, but overall I felt the judging was quite good and accurate and very consistent. This time was a little different.
First off – I have to say the show itself was great. I’m so grateful to have more FEH classes available to us down here, especially ones that are held on the weekend so I don’t have to take a day off of work and drive 4 hours each way to a recognized HT just to show a baby on the line. I’ll be honest, I probably wouldn’t show FEH at all if that was my only option. This venue, a new one to me, was beautiful and the show ran well. No complaints there at all. But the feedback I got from the judge was very… confusing. Some of it really had me scratching my head completely. This judge was totally new to me, I’ve never shown under her or met her before, and overall it was a very different experience than what I got last year under the other judges, for several reasons.
I debated about how much of this I should even say here because I definitely don’t want it to sound like I’m complaining. Like I said above, the show was super, and my horse got his qualifying score, so… I’m 0% mad or upset at anyone. I want to be totally clear on that. I’m only saying any of this because I like the FEH program and believe in what it’s trying to do, and I think that we have to be willing to speak up when we care about something and want it to be better. I also think it’s worth talking about this experience and how it compares to past ones, for people who might not be as familiar with FEH. I want to caveat this by saying I know that wildly differing opinions are just a part of subjective judging and horse showing. But consistency is one of the big goals with all judging, dressage or in-hand or otherwise. I also think it’s important to be willing to say the same things in public that you’re saying in private, especially when giving feedback about stuff that can be improved or made more clear. That’s what this is about, and the much more succinct version of my feedback has already been sent through the official pipeline.
All of that said, my issues were thus:
1. The judge asked how Presto was bred. This was a huge point of contention at the FEH symposium we went to in Ocala in February, because Maxime Livio thought it was important to consider as part of the judging, but the founders and heads of FEH strongly disagreed. They thought it was important for the judges to evaluate the horse that was in front of them, totally without bias, and it was stated unequivocally that the judges are definitely NOT supposed to seek out that information prior to judging. It threw me for a loop when she asked me, enough to where I asked for clarification “His breed registry, or his breeding?” and she said “his breeding”. I told her, but it was weird considering I know they aren’t supposed to ask.
2. She never looked at him square from the front or the rear. They are supposed to travel around the horse (one side, front, other side, back) to fully assess the conformation, and the handler should square up the front and hind feet as the judge travels around so they can see the straightness of the limbs. That didn’t happen.
3. She only used half marks on the score sheet, like you would for dressage scoring. FEH is supposed to use the full scale, ie scores of 6.8 or 7.2 or whatever. They REALLY encourage the judges to use those extra tenths, because it can make a definite difference in the overall score, given how every category is multiplied and weighted. I will say that obviously I didn’t see every sheet, but all four of the ones I did see had nothing but .0 or .5 marks.
4. Scores and comments didn’t match up. For his Type, which has always been Presto’s best score (never been below an 8) the comment said excellent athletic refined type with a score of… 7. I admittedly don’t quite understand how that comment matches up with a score of 7.
Those are my official observations. As for the completely personal opinion side of things, I disagreed with a few comments. Especially the ones saying that his neck is tied in low and that his pasterns/shoulder are upright. I don’t see those things AT ALL. I went back and stood next to him at the trailer and looked again, still nope. He’s never gotten comments remotely like that before. A judge doesn’t have to like my horse or score him well, but I do want to be able to at least understand what the judge is seeing. If you said his pasterns are a little long? Yup, I agree with that. Toes out on the RF? Yup, also true. Neither of those things were mentioned, but upright was. I respectfully disagree, which is fine, it’s just weird to hear things that no one else has ever said and that I can’t see myself.
After we trotted the triangle she spent a while discussing how she was surprised that he has a big stride considering how upright his shoulder is, and that he moves uphill considering how low his neck is set. I mean… his shoulder is maybe a touch straight, but the stride length comes much more from the humerus, and his is quite long and sloped. His stride is huge because of that(for real, you should see him gallop, the kid can cover some ground). The “low set neck” was a little confusing too, since I do have a horse with a low set neck and this one is not it. I think his movement matches his conformation, personally – good and bad. It’s big and he travels slightly uphill, but he’s not naturally very active or underneath himself behind. That’s the weakest part of his movement (and has always been mentioned at his other FEH classes and his breed inspection) but it wasn’t mentioned at all. His trot was his best score, actually (an 8).
So it was just very different from my other experiences, and one that left me scratching my head a bit. I will say that I do appreciate that she took her time and was more conversational, something I know they aren’t really supposed to do but I did kind of like. I might not have agreed with all of it, but I liked having additional words and explanations aside from just whatever fits in the comment box on the scoresheet.
In the end we DID get our qualifying score for Championships, so mission accomplished, and no harm no foul. That was really why we went. I’m still on board with the FEH program and in full support of it’s purpose. I already know who the judges will be for Championships, and I’ve had good experiences with them. Hopefully by then Presto’s current growth spurt will slow down and he’ll look a little less weedy! And, uh… maybe Henry will stop taking huge chunks out of his hide. I’m excited for the opportunity to represent Willow Tree Warmbloods at the Central Championships again, and see some friends and their babies!
It was a long and busy weekend here, between barn stuff and house stuff and Presto’s FEH show. I have a lot to say about the show but I’m still thinking on it, so… maybe tomorrow we’ll recap that. Today though, I’m here to talk about our lord and savior – Joint Injections.
Henry is 12 now, and I feel acutely aware of each passing year. He never raced, but he was used on the training track a lot, and his conformation isn’t particularly ideal. His legs are crooked, his neck is low set, and he travels quite croup-high naturally. I feel like my life is dedicated to rocking this horse back on his haunches, something that requires a lot of strength-building and constant effort. He also doesn’t have the best hocks. He’s kind of the case of the horse who does the job despite his conformation, not because of it.
Because of that, most of his life is tailored around keeping him strong and fit. His whole body is happier that way, and his job is easier. But he also seems a lot happier with regular hock injections, too. I’m never particularly excited about sticking a needle in a joint, but if it helps him be happier in his job, I’m gonna do it. I can always feel when he needs them done long before I can see it. It’s hard to describe but it almost feels like he’s got a little bit of a flat tire in his canter. He’s not able to sit as much, or he’ll start trying to swing his haunches slightly one way or the other to take the load off the hocks (especially on the hills). The past month or so he’s been feeling like he’s got a flat tire to the left, so the during Henry’s pre-Coconino checkup, the vet flexed him and agreed that some joint juice was a good idea.
He got a couple days off, a light hacking day, and a flatwork day, and then on Saturday Hillary and I set some jumps up. Aside from the gymnastics day a couple weeks ago I haven’t jumped him since we were at Holly Hill in the middle of May. We set a smaller course, then Hillary got off and raised them a couple holes for me. Nothing too huge, but closer to what we normally jump.
We kept it really short and simple, but Henry feels really good. He’s definitely leaving the ground better and I’m not having to work quite so hard to get his front end up. It was a pretty quick difference, an immediate fix to the flat tire. Hopefully this week we can get his farrier appointment moved up a little bit, he’s grown so much foot that even at 4 weeks things are looking sketchy, and keeping his toes under control is a major part of keeping his hocks happy.
Then after that he needs his health certificate (have I said enough times how convenient it is to have your horses living at your vet’s house?) and we’ll hopefully be good to go. We’re kind of just cruising now, keeping him happy and loose and feeling good. I’m so ready to get the heck out of here, I need a vacation! Pretty sure Henry will be really happy to escape the heat and humidity too.
With all the Safe Sport stuff that’s still being fervently discussed this week I feel like I really could have done a whole post chock full of just really disturbing quotes I’ve seen from people on social media, but alas I’m trying to burn them from my memory. You know it’s bad when convicted pedophiles are chiming in and people are supporting them. All I’m gonna say is that if you look around and find that your allies are a bunch of a kiddie diddlers, you might need to rethink your position. If nothing else, all of this has certainly proven just how important (and long overdue) a program like Safe Sport is. I used my barn commute time this week to listen to the Believed podcast, about the Larry Nassar case, and I’m still over here like holy crap. If you haven’t listened, you should. It’s INSANE how he got away with it for so long despite being reported numerous times, just because he was a well-liked famous doctor. It’s a situation that sounds all too familiar.
In better news, Presto’s foot seemed to be about 95% better as of last night. Looks like he just managed to bruise it, thank goodness. He got two nights of an animalintex wrap and then last night I left him in Magic Cushion and a boot, so we’ll see how is today. I’m feeling more optimistic about the FEH show on Sunday. Fingers crossed. Of course, he’s still got huge chunks missing out of him (thanks Henry) and is very much in the middle of a growth spurt, so it’s not like he’s beautiful. But hey, I’ll take sound.
Since it’s looking like he’ll actually make it to the show, I’m excited to try out this new braiding wax that I got this week as a tester. There’s clear and there’s black (for sun-bleached manes – it’s tinted with charcoal) and it’s much lighter and more pleasant than any other wax I’ve seen. It seems sticky enough to give you some grip and tame flyaways but not so sticky that it leaves the hair looking gloppy or greasy or clumped together. I chose the lavender scent and it’s really nice. We’ll see how it works!
I’m in a little bit of denial about how soon we leave for Coconino (12 days) but I’ve started getting my shit together a little bit. As in… I’ve thought about all the things I need to do. I haven’t actually done any of it aside from having Henry checked out by the vet and doing some maintenance. I’ve got to get through the FEH show this weekend and then XC schooling next weekend before I can commit more brain cells to Coco.
Henry continues to be a grade A asshole to Presto and Dobby in turnout, so if he doesn’t chill soon he might find his ass in a smaller paddock by himself. I was trying to give him more space to stretch his legs, but if he can’t keep his random fits of rage under control then he’s gonna lose privileges. He’s lucky he’s cute because he’s a pretty terrible animal.
And last but not least, send all your good vibes to Willow Tree Warmbloods today for pregnancy checks! Some of the mares weren’t catching with frozen so we went a little outside the box to find a really good fresh option that we felt excited about, and I’m hoping that he got the job done. If he did, I’ll introduce him.
We’re pretty much at the end of breeding season here, with this heat. Hopefully in the next couple weeks I’ll have some pregnancy announcements!
Let me tell you one of the many reasons why I hate Texas: it’s stupid hot for like 6 months of the year. With all the rain we’ve had this year it’s stayed cooler than most summers, in that we actually managed to make it this far without hitting triple digits. That’s supposed to change tomorrow, with a high of 100.
The rain has made it a bit more humid than normal, too (for example, right now – 88% humidity). Normally in the summer I switch my schedule and ride in the morning instead, but that just hasn’t worked out this year. We had a lot of big changes at work and right now I really can’t be coming in at 9am when the rest of my team is there at 6:30. Plus I have a meeting every morning at 8:30. It was a bit easier when my barn commute was 20 minutes and didn’t go through heavy traffic… if I tried to do that now, it would take me a minimum of an hour to get to work from the new barn. Trying to ride later at night, when the heat wanes, its also challenging, considering it doesn’t really get better until 8pm and crawling into bed at midnight doesn’t really work when I crawl back out of it at 5am. I am not a great sleeper, so 5-6 hours in bed would result in maybe 3-4 hours sleep. Not doable.
I also handle the heat about as well as my horse does, ie not well at all. Honestly Henry has been doing better with these hot afternoon rides than I have. He’s pretty much cooled down once I hose him off, while I’m still sitting there in a chair in front of the fan trying not to pass out. I’m taking walk breaks while I’m riding, I’m drinking water (I went through 4 bottles yesterday at the barn), but I’m just plain getting overheated. Because it’s hot AF.
I’m about to start investigating those cooling towels or weird ice neck bandanna things. Anything to help get my temperature under control. Anyone use anything like that? I just don’t have access to a refrigerator or freezer at the barn. Luckily I don’t have to do this for much longer since we leave for Coconino in two weeks (where the highs are in the 70’s, lows are in the 40’s, and there’s 15% humidity – BLESS THAT PLACE) and then Henry will be on his easy vacation schedule for a little while after that, and then I’ll be gone to Europe for a couple weeks after that. For now though, I’m just trying not to pass out in the barn. I must look terrible given how fast the barn owner ran to get me a chair yesterday.
In other news, Presto has decided to get either a hoof bruise or an abscess THE DAY AFTER I sent in his entry for the FEH class this weekend, so we’ll see if we can get that fixed in time or not. The vet looked at him last night (real convenient to be boarding at the vet’s house when you’re a crazy person that likes to completely freak out and overreact about your horses’ maladies, btw) and it’s definitely something in his foot, just couldn’t tell exactly what. Considering that it’s been wet and he spends all night stuffing himself in front of the round bale, the muddiest spot on the farm, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was brewing something. We wrapped it up with animalintex so now we wait and see. Horses, man.
After Henry’s supposed near-death experience (if you ask him, anyway) on Saturday, Sunday was set to be a chill day at the barn. I got up early and did an 18 mile bike ride with my dad – finally finishing the Nessie race that took way too long thanks to my ankle – and then got to the barn about mid-morning. The big hay pasture was finally mowed and baled and open for riding, and I was hoping for a nice relaxing canter. Except I guess Henry decided the night before that he was in love with the two 2yo’s that they were turned out with, and thus was preoccupied with screaming his idiot head off.
This is why he didn’t have friends for so long. He’s so much better as a single horse. Lord give me strength. He’ll stop this eventually right? He was the only one that was concerned about any of it, of course. None of the baby horses cared one bit. No one else stands in the barn screaming for half an hour for no reason.
So there we were, trotting around the field, Henry alternating between screaming and spooking, and out comes the barn owner with one of the minis she has in training. Hooked to a cart. I had been waiting for this day to come, Henry’s first encounter seeing this whole driving thing, and now here we were. It finally happened.
We stopped, and he stared, but to my great surprise he really wasn’t scared of it. He seemed more concerned about the fact that something was chasing one of his minis. He was staring at him in the “omg do you need assistance” type of way. Little mini is a champion (literally, he’s won all kinds of stuff apparently) so he just trotted around the ring, all business, and after watching him make a few laps we proceeded on our way. Henry never stopped spooking at the sprinklers across the fence (that were not moving and not on, just sitting there) but he never spared a second look at the mini and the cart. This horse is strange.
After I put that dingbat away, I got Presto out. He’s entered in a FEH class this weekend (just like last year I managed to miss every single qualifier until this one, which is the last one, so if he doesn’t get a qualifying score then… oops?) so I’ve been doing a little more with him again, reminding him that he’s not feral. We did some w/t/halt on the lunge line each way, then I had him trot over some poles to try to help unlock a bigger trot.
That was all of maybe 10 minutes. Hillary was riding Dobby so I set jumps for her while Presto just hung out in the ring. If this horse ever has issues with ring traffic or keeping calm amidst chaos, it won’t be for lack of trying on my part. After Hillary was done I asked her to get some video of Presto’s best party trick – groundtying while I wave the whip around him.
All the groundwork has definitely paid off. I’m trying hard to make him into a horse that is respectful but also calm and trusting. I have the benefit of raising this one myself, and I can’t help but see so much contrast between him and Henry. Even with our years of partnership I don’t think I will ever overcome Henry’s beginning, or his natural tense and nervous nature. It makes me wonder how different he would be if he’d had different experiences earlier in life. Would he be a more confident horse today?
This week I need to put Presto’s bridle back on and get him used to it again (and probably let it out a few holes, let’s be honest) and practice his in-hand stuff some more. I’m hoping that when we’re at the show he’ll decide to be a little wild and show some more active/uphill trot, because what I’m getting at home just kind of looks like he wants to go win the hack class at a hunter show. It’s hot. He’s lazy. It’s uninspired. Of course, he’s also covered head to toe in bite marks (THANKS HENRY) so that’s great. And he’s in the middle of a growth spurt. Also great. Oh well. Guess we’ll how well this judge can see potential?
The new barn is only about 25 minutes from a 1,000+ acre park that has a lot of equestrian trails, so on Saturday we decided to take the boys. We were thinking it would be a nice relaxing change of pace, we would get out and enjoy some nature and look at the scenery, and just enjoy the horses. Henry was not on board with any of this.
Henry has been foxhunting. He road hacks. He’s a freaking EVENT HORSE, for god’s sake. I will admit that he hasn’t done much actual trail riding like this, but it’s not as though the horse only ever sees the inside of an arena. We ride out almost every single ride. But there was something about this place, with all of it’s terrible horrible nature… Henry was a spooky snorting idiot the whole time.
He spooked at everything that moved. He spooked at everything that didn’t move. He was convinced that every little stick on the ground was definitely a snake. He gave any little depression/ditch/hole a very wide snorty berth. If anything so much as moved in the brush, lord help us. And then there was that time when we encountered (brace yourselves for the horror) another horse and rider and I could actually feel Henry’s heart pounding until the demon was safely past.
Dumb. Real dumb.
He was so busy snorting and spooking at all the fake snakes that he missed the one actual snake that crossed our path. For real, he was too busy staring down at a stick and he totally missed that thing slither across the trail in front of us. Thank goodness. I can’t imagine how smug he would have been if he realized all of his idiocy had been justified.
We tried to get down to the river access, but with all the rain we’ve had lately the water was too high. We still got a nice little hill workout out of the deal, going down and then back up the steep trail that leads down there. Up until this point lazy-ass Dobby (I swear, the horse walks SO SLOW) had actually been keeping up with Henry. Then the big long hill happened, Dobby thought he was gonna die, and then he was out of juice. Henry had no problem leaving his ass to get eaten by wolves or bears or whatever else he thinks lives out there (neither of those things actually live out there).
I think the best part was when we were walking along the river trail and A MASSIVE LOG had fallen across the trail. And by massive log I mean like the tiniest little tree ever, it barely qualified as more than a stick. It was about the same size as a ground pole. Henry completely refused to go over it. Like… snorting and the whole 9 yards. At one point he reached his nose toward it and touched another stick, spooking himself. This is my Prelim event horse, ladies and gentlemen. Refusing a tiny log. And then spooking and snorting as he walks sideways past a puddle.
Yes indeed you can hear me say “This is really embarrassing” as we’re both cracking up. Oh Henry, you weird little horse.
So as it turns out, Henry isn’t much of a trail horse. Nor did he find the day to be at all relaxing or pleasant. He might be scarred for life.
It’s kind of sad when the 4yo OTTB on his very first trail ride is much more chill.
If you’re getting tired of these pedigree breakdown posts, I’m sorry. I won’t stop. I’ve become dangerously obsessed with studying this stuff and my spreadsheets are out of control. But also this time I’ve tried to pull in a few more “fun facts” as I’ve gone through the field, so hopefully it’s a little more interesting even for those who aren’t breeding nerds.
Today is Day 2 for dressage at Luhmuhlen, which is always one of my favorite cross country courses. It looks like something straight out of a Grimm Brothers fairy tale, like you might turn the corner and run into Hansel and Gretel. If you have a Horse & Country subscription (do I have a subscription to pretty much all of the streaming equestrian event channels on the internet? maaaaaybeeeee…) you can watch the live stream online. If not, Eventing Nation has pretty good coverage.
This year there are only 34 starters in the 5*, an even smaller field than Kentucky, but it’s chock full of an interesting mix of heavy hitters and first timers. My usual disclaimer: if I was unable to find enough of a horse’s pedigree to calculate a meaningful stat, they were excluded from the numbers.
As usual, the most represented stud book is Irish Sporthorse, with 10 entries. Of those 10, 4 have traditional Irish breeding (no European warmblood). Despite the Holsteiner studbook having only 3 horses representing, 55% of the field carries some Holsteiner blood within the first 3 generations.
The average blood percentage of the field is 56%. I looked at the pedigrees a little differently this time in that I broke out one more generation of sire information. This time I looked at the entrant’s sire, the sire’s sire, the dam’s sire, and the dam’s damsire. This revealed something kind of interesting. If you look at just the sire, sire’s sire, and damsire, the number of full thoroughbreds is about the same – 7 horses have full TB sires, 7 horses have full TB sire’s sires, and 8 have full TB damsires. But if you go back a little more and look at the dam’s damsire, the number of full thoroughbreds doubles – to 15. That’s exactly half of the pedigrees that can be verified that far back. Is it an important place in the pedigree to have blood, or is that just a coincidence?
This field is chock full of horses that came up through the FEI young horse classes – 62% of the field participated in 6yo and/or 7yo 2* and 3* classes.
Several sires show up more than once throughout the field, with Irish Sporthorse stallion Touchdown being the sire of two horses and the sire’s sire of another. Touchdown (now deceased) was a 5* showjumper, sired by the Selle Francais legend Galoubet and out of an Irish mare that had a full TB sire. Touchdown has been a successful producer of showjumpers through the 1.60m level and eventers through the 5* level.
The stallion that shows up the most throughout the field, despite having no direct offspring, is Contender. He is represented via his sons Contendro I, Contendro II (full brothers), Con Air, and Cristo.
For the thoroughbred stallions we see a lot of the usual names like Heraldik xx, Master Imp xx, Mytens xx, Damascus xx, and Sir Ivor xx.
The most eye-catching horse in the field is probably Tullabeg Flamenco, who is hard to miss with his buckskin coat, 4 white socks, and a blaze. I am admittedly a little obsessed with him, so I fell down a rabbit hole while looking into his breeder and family. Bear with me here. Tullabeg Flamenco is one of at least 6 full siblings, out of a skewbald Irish mare named Tullabeg Heidi and by the dun stallion Tullabeg Fusion. One of the older full siblings, Tullabeg Vision, is competing at the 3* level. Another, Tullabeg Tango, is being produced by 2018 WEG silver medalist Sarah Ennis and currently competing at the 2* level.
If you dig more into the families and siblings of the entrants, you find some other very successful mares. The dam of Ascona M, Naomi IV, is also the dam of Clifford M, a 4* horse ridden by American rider Charlotte Collier. Ascona M is by Cassaro, while Clifford M is by Cristo (one of the Contender sons mentioned above). Cristo is also the sire of Luhmuhlen entrant, Calle 44.
Paulank Brockagh’s dam, Calendar Girl (by TB stallion Triggerero xx) is also the dam of 4* horse Paulank Kings River. Both horses are ridden and have been brought up through the ranks by Australian Sam Griffiths. Palanks Brockagh is by Touchdown, and Paulank Kings River is by Kings Master (by TB stallion Master Imp xx).
On a sort of interesting note, American hunter stallion Ultime Espoir also has an offspring in the field – Efraim. Of course, as is typical of many hunters of these days, before Ultime Espoir came to America, he was a jumper in Europe. Efraim is one from one of his earlier European crops.
Let’s see how the weekend unfolds! The leader after dressage is Brookpark Vikenti, a traditionally-bred Irish horse with 81% blood by the TB stallion Master Imp xx. Can he keep his lead? Who are you rooting for?