Moving Day

As of yesterday the boys are all moved in and settled at their new home! I know… that probably seemed fast to y’all, since I kept hush-hush about the whole situation until last week. But the previous barnowner has known about it for a couple months, I just wasn’t really sure if I’d be moving them in October or November. Once we’d talked through the turnout scenarios and logistics at the new place there was really no point in staying, since there was already someone else lined up to take my stall. And since October 1 fell on Tuesday, I figured we might as well go ahead and get them moved the weekend before.

Cookies for powderface?

On Saturday I moved all my jumps over, since they’re a trailer load in and of themselves. They’re looking pretty sad these days, so my winter project will be to repair and repaint everything… something that will be a lot easier to do when I’m on site. Tell you what though, after loading all those stupid things in the trailer I was starting to question just how important jumping really was to me. Just kidding. But for real though it was like 100 degrees (this is the neverending summer from hell) and those things are heavy.

On Sunday it was the boys’ turn, and I rode Henry early in the morning then loaded all my stuff up (which only took 4 trips to the trailer, let me be proud of myself for a second) and away we went. We unloaded them and took Henry to the barn, while Presto went over to the front pasture and went out with an older mare and a yearling. As predicted, he and the yearling were fast friends. I think it took all of 10 minutes for them to engage in their first game of Bitey Face.


I think the best part of this new friendship is that the yearling, JB, has even less awareness of personal space than Presto does, so Presto actually finds him a little bit annoying. Talk about a major role reversal from the norm. At one point JB was actually eating grass out of Presto’s mouth and Presto had this exasperated look on his face like “Bro, I’m trying to graze here.”. As you might expect, after watching Presto annoy the shit out of every horse he’s ever met in his entire life, I find this to be HILARIOUS. The mare (who’s official role in this situation is “referee and voice of reason”) wants nothing to do with either of those idiots.

After making sure that those guys were getting along, I started unpacking my stuff. The tack room here is nice and big, plus there are auxiliary storage spaces, so I took this as an opportunity to sort of re-vamp my storage spaces. At the other barn I had all my stuff crammed into my tack trunk, which is kind of hard to keep neat. It inevitably turns into a big black hole and I end up digging around for things all the time. Since I don’t really need all that stuff on a regular basis I went and bought a set of drawers, to hold the regularly used items like boots, tack cleaning stuff, ointments, a fly bonnet, etc.

Everything fits with room to spare, with my bathing bucket and grooming bag stacked next to it. I think this will be easier to work out of with the daily items, and the tack trunk with all of it’s less frequently used stuff is over in the storage barn. It’s nice to have the drawers to keep thing separated and easily accessible.

One of the many nice shady pastures – Henry goes out here. You can sorta see the dressage ring at the back. Presto’s pasture is to the left.
Henry’s barn

While Presto is really good at handling whatever life throws at him, Henry is a much more anxious type, so I was a little more worried about how he would settle in. There was a bit of neighing at first, but not bad, and he seemed happy enough eating hay in his stall and watching the goings-on. Since it’s still so hot he’ll stay in the barn during the day with Toni the stallion (the two huffers and puffers) and go out at night in the pasture next to Presto’s. The other horses in the barn go out during the day and are in at night. Henry does best being turned out alone anyway, so it works out well. Once the weather cools down (IF it ever cools down) he can go out during the day too, and they can all be in neighboring pastures. There are plenty of pastures to go around and rotate through here!

Both of them ate dinner well last night and seemed content. JB and Presto are totally two bros in a pod, and Henry isn’t being a screaming idiot so that’s definitely a bonus.


Everyone came up for nightcheck and ate their cookie (I think these boys will quickly become fans of THAT particular perk) and all were happy and well. So… here we are… the new adventure has officially begun, and it’s off to a great start. I think we’ll all be happy out here.

FEH Champs Recap

Alternate title: The Comedy of Errors

Presto with his BFF Elsa, a 2yo Irish filly that he fell in love with at Champs last year and TOTALLY REMEMBERED HER when he saw her again this year. Soulmates.

My brain has been in a lot of places lately, and none of those places had anything to do with this show. Up until Wednesday night I wasn’t even sure if we were going, and I certainly hadn’t put much thought into my preparation. But on Wednesday I showed up at the barn and Presto’s hock looked a lot better… still a bit puffy on the inside where the cut is, but it no longer looked like he had a tennis ball attached to him. He was totally sound (vet-verified, of course), so I bathed him, brushed out his tail, banged it, chopped off some of his fetlock hair and his bridlepath, and chunked him back outside, telling him to make good choices. He promptly shocked himself on the fence, of course. I loaded up my grooming kit and his bridle and called it done.

And then, at 10:00 that night, as I was lying in bed unable to sleep, I suddenly remembered – HEALTH CERTIFICATE. SHIT. I needed a health certificate to get into the show grounds. Cue text to vet “Shit, I totally forgot I need a health certificate! Could you possibly do one in the morning before 9am?”. Yes, I am a terrible client. Not only texting at 10pm because I’m an idiot, but also asking you to do some paperwork for me ASAP. Normally I’m pretty good about this stuff but it had just completely slipped my mind and I was mortified. There were many sorry’s and thank you’s. Thank goodness Presto lives at his house right now.


After that I REALLY couldn’t sleep, and then at midnight one of the guys on my team at work texted and said he wouldn’t be in the next day. Which is normally fine, but there were already two of us that were going to be out, adding him would make 3, and we’re only a 4 person team. Shit. So then I laid awake for a couple more hours thinking of all the things it would affect and what all would have to be moved around or done by someone else.

After what was a quite terrible night’s sleep, I was up at 4:30am to get ready, top off with gas, and drive to the barn. Somewhere during the night I had a wandering thought about remembering to check to make sure that my braiding kit was in the trailer (where I usually leave it), but in my sleep deprived stupor I forgot to check. I just rolled in, hitched up my trailer, pulled Presto out of the field and slapped his quick wraps on, shot some omeprazole in his mouth, and put him directly into the trailer all alone in the dark (what I like to call “kidnapping style”), in a grand total of 6 minutes start to finish.

Dis weird but ok

To his credit, he was great. Walked right in the trailer and didn’t utter a peep.

I had to wait until halfway through the 2 1/2 hour drive for it to be late enough to call another co-worker and fill them in on what was going on with our team and what needed to be done that day or moved, which devolved into questions and “situations”. Fun times. But we pulled into the showgrounds a bit before 8:30, and I parked, went and got my packet. and then came back to unload and braid Presto.

Which is when I realized my braiding kit was not in my trailer. Shit.

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I did a quick SOS text to a friend (SOS texts are becoming a theme with this whole experience) who was also there, and she said I was welcome to use her rubber bands. Thank goodness for Christine. Sorry I’m like this as a person.

Since we were all alone in the parking lot I didn’t want to leave Presto there totally unattended, so I grabbed him and all his stuff and traipsed up to the barn. Cue all the screaming. ALL THE SCREAMING. The best word to describe the stabling area at a baby horse show is cacophony, of which Presto enjoys being by far the loudest and highest pitched. There was no going back to the parking lot alone at this point so I tied him in the stabling and went to work on the braids. As I was standing there trying to braid a wiggling baby horse, getting my ear drum burst, and absolutely POURING sweat from head to toe (like for real there was a river dripping into my eyeball), I was questioning all of my life choices.

I love baby horses. I love baby horses. I love baby horses.

By the time I was done popping in some braids Presto had settled down a lot, so I put his bridle on and went ahead and took him out to the warmup arena. Once he was “working” he immediately went right back into the normal horse I have at home. He’s just so ADHD, he’s got to have something occupying his brain and moving his feet, even if it’s as simple as walking in a circle. This is something I’ve learned about him from taking him to these shows, so that’s good knowledge to have for the future.

We mostly just walked around, getting him loose and forward, turning away from me, and reacting promptly to a cluck or a whoa. Everything was running a bit slow, and by the time his turn finally came around, he was honestly a little TOO quiet. I handed him over to the handler, who had to try to jazz him back up a little bit before he went in.

Last year Presto screamed the whole way through his time in the ring and had major ants in his pants (it’s asking a lot of a baby horse to leave the area with all the other horses and go into a ring by themselves), but this year he just neighed once, and was very polite in the ring. He stood pretty still and correct, he focused on the handler, and he was just much more professional in general.

I hope the pro photographer got some good shots because I suck and so does my phone camera.

His first pass at the trot was definitely a bit sluggish and dull, but I thought the end of the second pass showed his real quality – more active and uphill. He was trotting a bit wide behind though, I think trying to protect his cut hock so he didn’t bang it (a surprisingly intelligent decision on his part).

For as much as they liked him last year, this year they weren’t that impressed. The most positive comments were about his type (good refinement), his feet (good quality), and his walk (active with good overstep). One judge thought he was too light of bone, and the other thought he was perhaps too weak in general to be an upper level horse. Both judges commented on him being wide behind in the trot, with one giving him a 6.8 for that – the lowest score he’s ever gotten for anything. His trot score at his last show was an 8, for comparison. His overall score ended up being a 73, so still respectable, but quite a ways off of his 79 from last year.

Presto ended up 3rd out of the 3 colts, behind two baby stallions (that definitely looked much more developed than he did). I think at this age Presto’s slow-maturing lines are starting to be more obvious, and these types of classes just aren’t going to be where he shines. Either way, he was a super good boy and we had a positive experience. I was very happy with him and how quickly he settled, and his overall behavior. We had to do a lot of standing around between his class and the awards, and he was content to just hang out and graze. Fun fact: his handler is French and we got to talking about stallions, and he said that he really likes Mighty Magic and his offspring. Me too!

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Poor Presto was really sleepy by the time we loaded up to go home. The driving, the standing around in the heat/humidity all day, missing his usual morning nap time, and all the excitement of the morning really took their toll. He loaded back up and proceeded to sleep the whole 2.5 hours home. It’s hard being a baby horse.


I hadn’t pulled his braids out yet because I really just wanted to get him home, so when we pulled in I tossed him in his stall while I unloaded his bridle and grooming bag from the trailer. I left him unattended in his stall with his braids in for a grand total of MAYBE five minutes. I came back inside to undo them and was robotically pulling the bands out at warp speed when I got to this spot in his mane and paused like hmmm… what the heck… I’m pretty sure there was a braid there…


I was like how the hell did he do that? Did he rub it out in the trailer without me seeing it happen on the camera? Did he rub it out on his stall doorway? A quick search around the stall landed my eyes on this:

Yep that would be the entire braid, which he somehow got stuck in the bucket loop even though the rubber cap was on it, and ripped the entire thing off.

Five minutes.


Only Presto.


If you’re reading this, that means Presto and I are on our way to FEH Championships. It’s looked reaaaaaally 50/50 all week, but if the hock swelling is down enough to be presentable, we’ll go. May as well since we can’t get a refund. He probably won’t win, but hopefully it’ll be fun and a learning opportunity anyway. I mean… as fun as a 5 hour round trip journey with a baby horse that involves putting said baby horse on the trailer in the pre-dawn darkness can be. Which now that I put it in writing, I clearly sound like a psychopath.

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But anyway.

I didn’t have much time to draft anything else, but please send Presto some good luck vibes today! I um… think he’s gonna need it…

I did want to take the opportunity to repost this, which I saw on facebook yesterday and felt absolutely to the bottom of my soul. Everyone needs to read this facebook post from Kate Samuels and share it. So well said!

You don’t need to pay a lot of money to find a good horse.

You DO, however, need these things:

The experience of having ridden as many horses in your life as you could get your hands on: the good, the bad, the ugly, the sensitive, the scared, the buckers, the stoppers, the very green, the tall, the short, the fat, the skinny, the long giraffes, the well trained horses, the hunters, the jumpers, the dressage horses, the race horses, the not-so-well trained horses, the horses with baggage, the horses with a clean slate. All these horses will be your greatest teachers.

The ability and inclination to learn to be a better horseman, a better rider, and a better caretaker. You’ll never stop learning, and if you do, it’s a real problem. Learn from mistakes, learn from watching others, learn from those you respect and who respect you, learn from success and learn from failure. A wise man once told me, “When you hear a horse person tell you they know everything, it’s a sure sign they’re a dumbass.”

A sense of humor so you can live through the bad days along with the good, and tolerate the abscess from hell just as much as a clear round on cross country.

The patience to think in six month, twelve month, eighteen month increments. The intellectual ability to see tiny building blocks and stack them accordingly for the finished product that will appear in several years. The patience not to skip steps because they are boring or seem unnecessary.

Emotional distance to realize that difficulties you encounter along the way are absolutely not personal and instead just a puzzle you haven’t solved yet.

The connections, friendships and partnerships who are genuinely interested in your success as much as theirs. People who will guide you truthfully. Cheerleaders from all corners. Trainers who know and respect you, vets who are invested in the journey (and maybe great at stitching), and a farrier that might grumble at your horse’s tricky feet but works with you for a solution.

And last, but not least, knowing what a good horse for YOU is. Know what you can realistically ride, what feeling you enjoy in the saddle, and what personality traits work for your personality. A good horse for me is not a good horse for a lot of other riders, and vice versa. Don’t get sucked in by pretty markings or a flashy trot if the stuff that really matters isn’t there.


Happy Thursday everyone, and hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow with a show recap!

Okay, time to spill the beans!

I’ve hinted at big changes coming for me and the boys, probably to an annoying degree, but I didn’t want to “spill the beans” until I was sure that everything would actually come together. It’s been a few months in the making, but now that we’re officially starting to execute the plan I think I can finally tell the story without jinxing anything! Hopefully.


A few months ago the couple that I barnsit for on the regular (and have for… gosh… 6 or so years maybe? oh and hi Rejan – she reads this!) approached me with a proposal. Last year they bought a gorgeous second farm near Wellington, where they now spend their winters doing fancy dressage things. That means that they spend about half their year here, and half in Florida. Last year, the first winter away at the new farm, they buttoned up the farm here and took all of their horses with them, which, considering they have a range of horses from yearling to retired broodmare, was a bit much. Not all of them needed to go, and some would have been happier staying behind. So after a lot of thought, they asked if I’d be interested in putting a tiny house out on their property, living there full time (with the boys of course) and taking care of the farm and the couple horses they leave behind when they go to Florida in the winter.

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As you can imagine, this is a pretty great opportunity for a lot of reasons. 1) I get to live with my boys and take care of them myself. This has been my ultimate goal and dream for a long time. 2) The farm is awesome, lots of pasture on nice sandy footing, and has everything I could possibly need from space to ride out to an actual dressage arena. 3) Big financial savings, which in turn equals 4) more opportunity. I would not have to change jobs, but does increase my commute to work big time, from 10 minutes to 45 minutes. BUT right now I’m driving 45 minutes to the barn 5-6 days a week anyway, so… it actually equals out or even ends up being a bit less. Obviously it also increases my responsibilities quite a bit, mostly during the winter when I’m sole caretaker, but having barnsat for them so much by now (with more horses to care for) I know it’s definitely manageable.

Before I could say yes to this, I had to convince the SO. He’s been wanting to live somewhere more rural for a while, so that part was easy, although he wasn’t enthused about the longer commute part or the tiny house part. ESPECIALLY the tiny house part. While living small has always appealed to me in a big way (I hate wasted space, we don’t even live in half of the 1500sq ft we have now – ask me the last time we actually used the dining room or the front bedroom), the SO has a lot of crap, and he loves having a lot of crap. I think when I first said tiny home he was imagining one of those really tiny truck-towable homes or a shipping container or something, but I really wanted a park model RV (for so many reasons I won’t even list them all here), which is a lot different. So I dragged him up to a big dealership up near Dallas and we spent the day looking at various models, which changed his mind about the idea completely. Being able to walk into them and see the space and see the possibilities was a total game changer. We settled on a 399 square foot model with an extra large porch, a loft space, and every dream option you could imagine (like for real, he’s getting a tv and fireplace on the porch and dual rain showerheads, plus all the regular appliances. There’s no hardship involved in this tiny house.), and it still came in under my pre-determined budget.

Ours will be similar to the above (same model), with a few different options. I was super impressed with all the stuff you could change or add or tweak in these. We won’t officially put the order in for ours until closer to spring so that we have more time to save up down payment money, but he totally fell in love with the small-living concept that day. The massive financial savings was the final push he needed… as soon as we looked at the numbers, and what it could mean for us a few years down the line, he was 100% on board. Plus we found out that one of our friends’ parents lives in that exact model, and his feedback was awesome.

After we got a good look at the tiny houses, we had to decide what we’d do with the current house and figure out a realistic timeline. We don’t want to sell the house quite yet so we’re going to rent it out for a while and see how the market does. Our neighborhood has BOOMED in the past several years and with Amazon and Apple campuses adding tons of new jobs nearby, this bodes well for our property value. The neighborhood is already in high demand for rentals. The amount we can rent it out for would cover the mortgage plus the payment for the tiny home, with some left over, but we’re going to take whatever “profit” the house makes beyond the mortgage and put it into savings to cover the updates or repairs that would make the most sense if/when we do decide to sell. Let the house support itself, so to speak.

Now the SO is so excited about it that he bought me this doorknocker for my birthday. Which I insist looks like a horse crossed with Batman, but also I can’t wait to put this on our new house.

Rejan is leaving for Florida in November, and we looked at trying to get everything set up and ready to go by then, but there was just no way. We have a lot of stuff to move, throw away, or otherwise figure out what to do with, we gotta actually order the tiny house, it has to be built, the site (a lovely shady corner of the property) needs some prep work, etc. Shrinking 2 lives from 1500 sqft into 400 sqft (ok in fairness the loft adds another 200) is no small task. Plus the house needs a few things done to it before it will be ready to rent. Trying to get all that done within a couple months wasn’t realistic.

So Rejan and her husband talked about it and offered, for this winter, for me to stay in their house on the property. That gives SO and I a lot more time to get things going with moving/packing/consolidating, plus having my horses out there instead of boarded will help save more money towards the down payment of the tiny home, and they’ll still be able to get to leave a couple of their horses behind on the farm for me to take care of. Win-win for everyone. SO can spend his weekday evenings at home working his way through his massive collection of stuff and fixing up his old ’56 Mercury (which he wants to do before we move and he loses the garage space) and getting the house rentable, and come out to the farm on weekends. He can kind of ease his way into farm life and we can ease our way from one place to the other. We also have A LOT of shit to sort through and sell (the only furniture we’re keeping is our bed) and we won’t have room to keep crap just for the sake of it. Everything from couches to tables to kitchen appliances to, yes, even some of my ridiculous collection of horse crap – it’s all gotta go.

The interior options we picked out – cabinets, backsplash, floor, countertop, wall color

The only decision left after getting all that straightened out was deciding when to move the boys and how we wanted to arrange everyone to fit 2 new horses. Presto will have a yearling friend, which is exciting, and there’s plenty of room to accommodate both him and Henry. We talked it through yesterday and figured out a plan for turnout/barn and who to put with who, so… I think we’re ready. I have to figure out an exact moving date, but everything is lined up. The boys will go first so they can settle in (which will also give us time for Rejan to show me things like how to work the tractor, drag the arena, etc), and then I’ll move myself out there full time when they leave in November.

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Obviously this is a lot of change in a lot of ways. Neither of us have to change jobs, so it’s not as jarring as packing up and moving far away, but it’s a little scary to leave something comfortable and “known” for something that will definitely offer some challenges and be a lot different. But I’m a big believer in seizing opportunities, especially the rare ones that have the potential to have a huge influence on your life and your future. This is one of those. It feels momentous, it feels important, and mostly… it just feels right. We have a lot to learn about living tiny, but I have no doubt that it will be a grand adventure and that’s what life is all about. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity, and I can’t freakin’ wait to look out my window and see my boys grazing outside. ❤

A visit from the nutritionist

The boys will be moving again soon – not for any bad reason, but because I’ve gotten an opportunity I can’t pass up. I know, I need to explain the whole story, hopefully tomorrow! But as part of all this, I’ll finally be in charge of every single aspect of their care, including what they eat.


Henry was on Triple Crown for most of the time I’ve owned him – first Complete and then Senior. Presto was on Growth and then Senior (very similar formulas, actually). When they moved to the current barn they switched to the owner’s personal mix, which is along the same lines. But 1) I don’t really want to mix my own grain 2) I don’t love Henry’s topline on this mix 3) I think they both need more fat/calories in general. I’ve been eyeballing Bluebonnet, a brand based in Oklahoma, as I know several friends that have had really good luck with their feeds. While I was relatively satisfied with how the boys looked on Triple Crown, and know that I can always go back to that, I still felt like there was room for improvement, and I’m curious to see if I can find something that suits them even better. So now that I’m about to have full control over what my horses eat, I figure it’s a good time to try the Bluebonnet.

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Bluebonnet ticks the most required boxes in that it’s a high quality brand with a locked formula that produces all of their feeds in ionophore-free mills, and contains no by-products. Since its a more regional brand it’s not as easy to get if we’re traveling, which is a bit of a “con” in general, but I take feed with me when I travel anyway, so it’s not a dealbreaker for me. They also have a line of supplements, Stride, that Michelle has used on a lot of her horses with fantastic success, especially when Presto was a weanling and still bouncing back from all of his issues. It’s not a particularly cheap brand, but in the same price range as Triple Crown. I have never really minded spending more money on my horse’s food, since I think it’s extremely important. Everything starts with nutrition.

I originally contacted Bluebonnet with some questions, as I was wavering between a couple different formulas that they offer. They put me in touch with my local rep/nutritionist, who lives very close to where the boys are boarded. She offered to come out and take a look at them and talk to me so that she could make her best recommendation, and while part of me was grumbling like “heeeeere we go with the upsell”, the other part of me was like “if you wanna come out here and listen to me tell you the life story of my horses for an hour, more power to you.”.

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So the rep came out last night, and as predicted… she listened to me give her way too much information about my horses for an hour. But I did like being able to throw questions at her on the fly, in person, and get a real time response/reaction, and she was able to get a close look at both of them and ask me some questions too. I am naturally very skeptical of anyone who is clearly trying to sell me something, but at the same time I recognize the fact that it certainly doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

The feed she recommended was one of the two that I was wavering between – Intensify Omega Force. It’s a low starch, higher calorie feed, which is a requirement for me. The feed is formulated with Stride’s 101 supplement, all around diet balancer that contains vitamins, chelated minerals, biotin, Vitamin E, etc. Basically, the kind of quality you expect from a higher end feed. The Omega Force in particular has a higher calorie content via “good fats” like flaxseed, rice bran, fish oil, soybean oil, and beet pulp, so you’re typically able to feed it in smaller amounts than many other feeds. That’s one of the main selling points, anyway. One of the big things that I’m looking to get from the changeover is that I want to be able to feed them less grain than I currently have to, so that part certainly makes it appealing. The rep did say that sometimes super picky eaters are put off by the fish oil, but my two would literally eat rocks covered in dog shit (pretty sure Presto has done exactly that), so I’m not worried about it.

5/32" Pellet, 50 lb bag

After we settled on a feed recommendation, we launched into the inevitable upsell side of things with the Stride supplements. I’ve always been reeeeeally on the fence when it comes to supplements anyway, and you’re gonna have a particularly hard time selling me a super expensive one. But I certainly don’t know everything, so I’m willing to hear you out and consider what you have to say. So starting with Henry, she took a closer look and starting asking me more questions. After my initial description, she ran her hands over him and then checked an accupressure point for hindgut inflammation. Honestly, given how sensitive he is about literally everything I thought he would have reacted more, but he just gave a very half-hearted tail swish. Not enough for her to call it a positive reaction.

She explained to me that in her opinion he ticked all the boxes for Leaky Gut Syndrome, but didn’t react as she would expect to acupressure point test. Still, she said, she would send me some literature about it so I could see what I thought since I knew him best. I appreciated that. Due to all of his skin and allergy issues, she did recommend their Immune Health Program for a minimum of 30 days up to 90 days. This is, as you may have guessed, REALLY FREAKING EXPENSIVE, and initially I’m not feeling particularly convinced. I’ll research it more and see what I think. Reading up on it has only given me a lot more questions at this point, so there will be some follow-up conversation with her for sure.

Presto, ever the stoic beast, really had no issues other than the fact that he has to eat a lot more than I’d like in order for him to maintain condition. Of course, he’s also a big growing 2yo. Given what he’s eating she felt that his system wasn’t optimizing his feed as well as it should (which I can kind of agree with, honestly) and recommended 30 days of ADR powder. She described the ADR in layman’s terms as sort of a mega-dose of pre and probiotics to help reset or jumpstart a horse’s digestive system. That one is considerably less expensive, and I am a big believer in the power of probiotics, but again… I have more research to do before I decide exactly how I feel about it.

We talked for a while longer, then she sent me lots of links to different information when she got home, and left it in my hands.

In some ways the visit was definitely helpful, and I liked being able to talk to the rep face to face and let her see my horses up close and personal. There’s a lot to be said for real time feedback, and interacting with someone directly. Nothing she said was particularly surprising, and I did get the feed recommendation I was after, which I feel good about. I’m interested to see how the Omega Force works for my horses. I do have a large dose of skepticism about the recommended supplement regimes, but am at least willing to look into it more. I already have another list of questions for the rep just from the brief amount of research I’ve been able to do so far. One of the links she sent was to a presentation their head vet gave on Leaky Gut Syndrome, which was pretty interesting to watch. Definitely some new information there for me, and something to think about. We’ll see how I feel once I start looking into things a bit more.

Have you guys ever had a nutritionist out to consult on your horses? Is anyone else as obsessed with this stuff as I am?


Weekend in pictures. Ish.

If you are a fan of live streams, this was a great weekend to nerd out on a laptop with 3 different eventing options to choose from. I was glued to the Blenheim 4* XC, mostly because it suits my schedule much more to watch a live stream from 5am to 9am. But also because I’m already wondering why the eff we came back here, where it’s supposed to be 100 degrees today on the first day of effing fall, when we could have just stayed in the UK for a month or so and gone from one big event to the next. Poor life choice on our part. I could even SEE some of the shopping in the background of the live feed. Didn’t take long for those Burghley withdrawals to kick in.

Tim Price

I also popped in and out of the Plantation live stream throughout the day, mostly to try to catch some of the Mighty Magic offspring that were competing. He had FOUR spread amongst the 2*, the 3*, and the 4*. Turns out it was a great weekend to be sat on a MM at Plantation, because 3 of the four finished on their dressage score and the other added only one rail. All of them were double clear XC and two finished in 2nd place – one in the 3* and one in the 4*. And in the 3*, the two fastest rounds of the divisions both belonged to the MM’s. Sometimes it’s fun to be a horse stalker.

Another Mighty Magic won the 3yo FEH West Coast Championships too. “Magical” weekend, eh (yeah ok I’ll stop being punny on a Monday morning, sorry)? When you’re waiting for a baby horse to grow up, sometimes the only way to get your kicks is by stalking his relatives, so give me a break. It helps me stay sane(r).

Speaking of Presto, he also had some adventures this weekend. Some good, some bad. Very bad. On Saturday I stuck his bridle on and trotted the triangle a few times in hand, to make sure he still remembered how. The entry fee money for FEH championships officially left my account so I figured I should probably like… prep for it. For at least maybe 5 minutes. He was perfect, he knows this part pretty well by now.

looking handsome, I think!

Then we stood in the ring and watched the other horses work. He finds that to be equal parts boring AF and fascinating AF.

What he doing?

We went and parked it down at the end by the trailers, where he became very obsessed with the horse in the window. For a long time. He’s pretty entertaining, I’ll give him that.

But how me inside the trailer and outside the trailer at the same time???? *mindblown*

On Sunday I was at the barn super early to load up Henry to head to Pine Hill for XC schooling. It started out really well when I couldn’t actually FIND HIM in the pitch black. He wasn’t in his usual turnout, and I guess I interrupted his beauty sleep, because he finally stumbled up to the gate looking only half awake.

I got literally zero pictures or videos from schooling, so… you’ll just have to believe me that it happened. It was our first time back out on XC since Coconino so I had a pretty rank horse for the first half, but everything clicked back together by the end. It would be nice if the ground would soften up a bit so we could get back to our regular gallop schedule. Someone needs it. Anyway, since I didn’t get pics I’ll just give you GIFs.

The first half went like this

Image result for crazy dolphin gif

And the second half went like this

Image result for unicorn gif

When I got home I unloaded the trailer, unpacked everything and was flyspraying the boys, getting ready to leave, when…

Yes that is Presto.

Yes that is a couple of gross cuts.

Yes that is a really swollen hock.

You gotta be effing kidding me, you little shit. It’s as if he could FEEL that entry fee money leave my account on Saturday. HORSES. EFFING HORSES. How? I don’t even know how!

Luckily the vet was just getting in his truck to leave when I found it, so he climbed back out, looked at it, gave him some banamine and penicillin, and said “Jesus, this is getting ridiculous. I have my gun back here if you want me to shoot him.” NO I DO NOT WANT YOU TO SHOOT HIM, YOU ARE NOT FUNNY (also that’s not very believable from a man who has a farm full of animals that other people wanted to put down and he wouldn’t do it). “Okay well you should probably cold hose it then.”.

So I cold hosed. For a long time. And Hillary won the A+ friend award by bringing me a blueberry lemonade to make cold hosing seem less miserable. By the time I was done it looked like the swelling had already gone down a bit. I slapped some Surpass on the hock, sprayed the wound with Alushield, cursed Presto a few more times, and headed home. I guess we’ll see if we can get that swelling down and the wound looking better before Championships, which are… Thursday. And maybe, like… not accrue any additional injuries before then? That would also be great.


September’s 10 questions

This blog hop has been making the rounds and I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s answers to these questions, plus it’s Friday and I can’t brain hard enough for other content, so here we go!

1. Favorite quirk your horse has?

Henry – his weird tongue thing that he does, where he flops it out the side of his mouth and sucks on it. If he did it under saddle it most definitely would not be my favorite, but luckily he doesn’t, therefore it’s cute.

Presto – I’ll be honest, I find his constant need to have something in his mouth to be hilarious. Mostly when he’s holding something he shouldn’t (like a crosstie) and you’re like “Presto!” and he just goes totally still but doesn’t drop the object. He’s like “what, there’s nothing in my mouth, I dunno what you mean.”. It’s a symptom of his general personality, which I love. Luckily it seems like he wants to hold things more than actually chew on them… most of the time.


2. Three adjectives that perfectly describe your horse?

Henry – cheeky, genuine, emotional

Presto – confident, goofy, curious

3. Plan your next ride. What will you do/work on?

Pole work! We do a lot of that.

4. Have you ever trained an OTTB? If yes, what was the biggest challenge?

Many. I think they’re all quite different, you can’t really come at each of them exactly the same way. The most important thing is to be realistic about the horse you have, what it’s holes are, and what it needs physically and mentally. I also think that it’s important to remember that there are huge changes in their body happening in that first 6 months to a year off the track, and they might need extra support or help, changes in diet, extra care, etc etc. Stay diligent and be ready to alter your program as needed.

OTTB in… 2002? 2003?

5. Have you ever groomed or worked for a professional rider?

Yes to both. I’ve been a working student for a couple different upper level riders and have done some work here and there (mostly when I was younger) as a groom.

6. Favorite horse and rider combination?

I tend to be drawn to the ones where you can really see and feel the connection they have forged together over time. To me that’s what it’s all about. You know, the people who clearly worship their horse and maybe can’t even talk about them in an interview without getting a bit choked up or beaming like a lunatic with pride. Historically I’ve really liked duos such as Buck and Ballynoe Castle RM, and Michael Jung with Sam. They’re both retired now, so I think my current “famous” favorite is Ingrid and Hale Bob, although there are so many (at every level) that I really enjoy.

Image result for ingrid klimke hale bob

7. Have you ever ridden a horse at the beach?

Yes, twice! Once in Half Moon Bay, CA and once in Jamaica. A beach ride in Texas is on my bucket list to do with Henry, maybe this year or next.

8. If you could experience the equestrian community (i.e. ride and compete) in another country, what country would you choose and why?

The UK, hands down, for practical reasons. 1) I know the language. 2) SO many competition opportunities. 3) it’s cheaper. 4) it’s highly competitive. 5) it’s so saturated with top level riders, horses, and coaches. I feel like I could learn a lot with a year in the UK.

9. In your opinion, what is an item of tack that is given unnecessary hype?

Having come from the h/j world, the first one that pops to mind for me is standing martingales. I don’t really understand the whole “martingale as an item of apparel” thing, even though I’ve been guilty of it in the past (lord, the h/j life feels like it was such a long time ago). It’s silly. There are plenty of other things that I think are totally useless for me personally, but if other people like them then whatever.

Image result for standing martingale

10. What was the first horse you rode called? Are they still alive?

I don’t remember exactly which the first one was, but considering that was 30 years ago and they were schoolmaster types even then, I highly doubt any of those early ones are still alive! Thanks for making me feel old though.

It’s in the Blood: Burghley 2019

Yeah I know, I’m slacking a bit on this one seeing as Burghley was 2 weeks ago. I fully intended to post this before we left but I had only gotten about 3/4 of the way through my spreadsheet by that point. And now I’m kind of glad, because I broke things down a little bit differently this time considering the heavy influence that cross country had, and looking back at the XC finishers and the top 12.

Image result for burghley horse trials logo

There was nothing particularly unusual in most of the statistics. By now, after doing these breakdowns on a lot of the big events, they are generally pretty consistent across the board. The average blood percentage (how much TB or arabian blood a horse carries in it’s bloodlines) of the starters – 62% – was a bit higher than we’ve seen at some of the European “majors” before (that tend to average around 57-59%) but a tad lower than we saw at Kentucky (65%). This is probably because with that big contingent of Americans we brought 6 fullblooded horses with us.  Fun fact: all 4 of the fullblooded horses that completed cross country were American (Vermiculus, Indy 500, Tight Lines, Unmarked Bills). Leamore Master Plan, who had the fastest clear round from an American, is 80% blood by full TB stallion Master Imp xx.

Leamore Master Plan

More interestingly, the average blood percentage of the top 12 was 73%… higher than the field average of 62%. However, if you look at the average blood percentage of the horses that showjumped clear, that dips to 57%.

The usual disclaimer about the facts and figures in this post applies: several horses, especially those of Irish descent, don’t have complete pedigree information. In those cases I have to exclude them from any datasets where I can’t verify the numbers or the parts of the pedigree I need. The record keeping (or lack thereof) around the Irish pedigrees is incredibly frustrating. Every breeder in Ireland will soon know that I’m a complete psychopath, because if I can find out who the breeder is I will definitely message them and ask if they know more about the pedigree. But hey it did benefit me this time when I saw that the winner was listed as being out of an “unknown” dam. I messaged and was told that they were fairly certain it was a full TB dam, but the ISH board was working to confirm that.

About 25% of the field had a full TB sire, where 40% had a full TB damsire. Sky Boy xx, Mr Prospector xx, Hoist the Flag xx, and Danzig xx all made multiple appearances, but the most common sire to show up in the first 5 generations was Nijinsky II xx, present in 5 horses. Lots of Northern Dancer (and Native Dancer).

Captain Jack, who carries Danzig and Nijinsky

While stallions are mentioned the most due to the fact that they produce way more offspring and therefore show up way more often, any breeder will tell you that mares tend to be more influential to the offspring. So it’s definitely worth mentioning that one mare had TWO offspring in this year’s Burghley field. Faerie Dazzler, who competed through 4* before becoming a broodmare, is the sire of Xavier Faer (by Catherston Liberator) and Faerie Dianimo (by Dimaggio). Faerie Dazzler’s dam, Mudlark (a full TB by Ben Faerie xx), produced two advanced level event horses herself. Great mareline!

Fairie Dazzler

As usual we have some stallions showing up more than once within the first few generations: Courage II is the sire of 3 horses (2 finished top 15, one DNF), OBOS Quality is the sire of 2 (the winner and one DNF), Fleetwater Opposition is the sire of 2 (both DNF), Mill Law is the sire of 2 (one top 20, one DNF), Cavalier Royale is the damsire of two and the sire’s sire of two (2 top 10, one top 20, one DNF), Marlon is the sire of 1 and the damsire of 1 (top 20 and DNF), Cruising is the sire of 1 and the damsire of 1 (one top 25, one DNF), Chellano Z is the sire’s sire of 2 (2nd place and DNF), and Master Imp xx is the sire of 1 and the sire’s sire of 1 (one top 10, one DNF). We’ve seen most of those names before.

This time I did a little more digging, looking further back in the pedigrees to pull out more sire lines. This was a little interesting. Galoubet shows up in 4 horses, Landgraf in 4, Capitol in 5, Ramiro in 6, Clover Hill in 9 (by far the most represented Irish horse), and Cor de la Bryere in a remarkable 13 horses. Five of those 13 are via his grandson Contender, who was by Calypso II out of a Ramiro mare. Even more incredibly, 6 of the top 12 horses – HALF – have Cor de la Bryere in their pedigree at least once.

Corde was a prolific showjumping sire, becoming a legend in the Holsteiner breeding history books. He’s pretty common in jumping pedigrees these days. And while he found much success being crossed with the Holsteiner mare base, if you look at his pedigree he is actually Selle Francais – and 2/3 TB at that. He is by TB stallion Rantzau xx. His jumping prowess combined with a good bit of blood seems to help make him a prevalent ancestor of event horses.

Vanir Kamira – winner at Badminton, second at Burghley – carries Corde two times via Chellano Z

The other more interesting thing (to me) that showed up was the representation of particular registries. For instance, 38% of the field had one full TB parent. When you look at just XC finishers, that number drops slightly to 37%. However, if you look at just the top 12 final placings, 50% of those horses could be verified as having at least one full TB parent.

We saw a  similar trend when it came to Selle Francais, traditional Irish Sporthorse (ie contains Irish Draught), and Holsteiner bloodlines. The percentage of horses in the field that carried Selle Francais bloodlines in the first 4 generations was 29%. For XC finishers that figure rose to 35%, and for top 12 horses it rose a little more to 46%. Same story for traditional ISH. The percentage of horses in the field that carried traditional Irish bloodlines in the first 4 generations was 19%. For XC finishers that figure more than doubled to 41%, and for top 12 horses it rose even more to 55%.  Holsteiner blood was also largely represented. The percentage of horses in the field that carried Holsteiner bloodlines in the first 4 generations was 49%. For XC finishers that rose to 55%, and for top 12 horse it went up to a whopping 73%. To lend some comparison, 17% of the top 12 carried Hanoverian bloodlines, and 0% of the top 12 carried Trakehner.

Santiago Bay and Gemma Tattersall

So when compared to the overall starting numbers, TB, Holsteiner, Selle Francais, and traditional Irish blood have a higher amount of representation in the top 12 horses.

But once again, even amid all of the more predictable pedigrees, eventing also showed some diversity, with an Arabian x TB cross (Vermiculus), a Connemara x TB cross (Feldale Mouse), and a Clydesdale x TB cross (Harelaw Wizard). Cross it with a TB and it still has a chance.

Wizard is hard to miss, there is a lot of him!

Next up on the In the Blood series we’ll be keeping an eye on all the Young Horse Championships that are happening in the next month or so, both here in the US and in Europe! Hope I haven’t bored everyone to death yet.

Knock on Wood

When we last left off with our intrepid baby hero, he had tried to rip one of his feet off. Like… a week before entries closed for FEH Championships. Because horse.

I brokeded my footie

The vet had to nerve block the foot, trim off the flap of hoof, and do some magic to try to preserve as much of the tissue as possible. Presto pretty much took off the entire heel of that hoof, and ripped a flap of tissue up into the coronet band. How, I still do not know, but he was pretty thorough. It took the vet a while to get it cleaned up and situated as he wanted it, and he bandaged it up and advised me that Championships were very likely off the table, and the heel of that hoof may or may not ever grow quite normally again. Depends on how much he really damaged. Good job baby horse.

$250 later

When I left town Presto still had the bandage on, and the vet said he’d take it off in a couple more days and see how things looked, fully expecting to have to put another bandage back on so Presto would be able to walk comfortably. But it looked a lot better upon removal of the bandage, so he checked for soundness and against all odds, Presto was sound. Still a bit tender on the gravel on that foot if he steps on a big rock, but… sound. None of us really have any idea HOW, because it still looks like it would hurt.

current status – big chunk of foot missing

The farrier was able to trim his feet without a problem, and we’ll just have to keep an eye on that one as it starts to grow out. It’ll be a while before he actually has a heel again. You can see there’s still a bit of open wound at the bulb, but the sublayers have already closed up so he doesn’t seem to feel it at all. I’m just keeping it clean and trying not to mess with it too much. Luckily its the outside of a hind foot, so it’s not a place he’s likely to step on or reinjure with his own feet (I said LIKELY, not impossible. If anyone could do it, it’d be Presto…).

trying out Henry’s sheepskin pad to see how my saddle fits Presto with it

The vet filled me in on all this when I got home and said “he hasn’t taken a lame step since I took the bandage off – go ahead and enter him.”. Times when it’s great having your horse at your vet’s house… he’s seen him every day. So the original 3-6 week timeline for soundness (originally the vet gave me a 50/50 shot of him being sound in time for Championships) really ended up being like 5 days. THANK GOODNESS. I will give Presto credit, he is a pretty tough little dude. Looking at the foot, none of us feel like he should be sound, yet he is. I know Henry definitely would not be.

I got Presto out this weekend and walked and trotted him on the lunge line for a grand total of 3 minutes. I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t bother him as he went, and it didn’t. The cellulitis that had developed in his giant effing butt hematoma (or as I called it – the 3rd butt cheek) is mostly gone now too… still slightly lumpy, but it’s hard to see. He’s looking growthy again (although for him he looks pretty good) and is covered in bite marks (we’ve given up) but… I think he can go to Championships. Knock on wood, cross your fingers, pet that rabbit’s foot, pick up a penny, find a four leaf clover… ANYTHING. I’ll take ANYTHING. It’s possible that I considered hanging an evil eye from his stall. Maybe I should just braid one into his tail.

Big Evil Eye Bead for Home or Office Protection
is this one too big? 

So the entry is back in the mail (I went and retrieved it from the outbound mail box just in time when he first injured the foot) and I put in my PTO request for next Thursday. There’s no going back now, money wise, since there are no refunds. And that entry was really expensive for a 5 minute in-hand class. Hopefully I can keep him together and he can stay out of too much trouble until then? I dunno. Now I’m just nervous. This animal is walking T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

He’s lucky I love him

Presto has definitely racked up his fair share of vet bills this year. I remember his mother did that in her 2yo year too… hock infection, crazy ass wolf teeth removal that required all kinds of extra shit because they were GIANT (it’s never good when the vet is like “WOW, do you mind if I take pictures of this?”), x-rays, stitches, staples, something with her foot that I’ve blocked from my memory. I’m starting to think 2 is the worst age. At least for this particular line.

He also had his half-birthday a couple days ago. Officially 2 1/2! We’re getting so close to 3, guys… that’s exciting.

Meanwhile, back at home…

As sad as I was to leave Europe to return to the land where walking outside is akin to putting your face in an oven, I was happy to get back to my horses. I’m sad when I take even just one day off from the barn and don’t get to see them, much less 10 days. Plus I came back bearing gifts, and all sorts of fun new stuff to try on them. What’s more fun than trying new stuff on your ponies?

The final Europe haul, by the time it was all said and done. Except the socks, I forgot those.

As soon as I rolled into the barn on Friday, Henry (ever the drama queen) pretended to be mad at me by retreating to the back of his stall. He does that every time I’m gone for more than a couple days. Show up every day, he greets me ears perked. Skip several days, endure his wrath. I gave him a handful of cookies and he magically got over it.

I wanted to try everything on to make sure it fit before I started taking tags off, lest I need to re-sell anything, so we started with Presto.

He ALWAYS has hay in his forelock, I’ve given up. 

I thought Presto might hate the fluffy halter. Ever since he had to wear that muzzle as a foal, he was wary about things being brought up over his nose. Like no joke he didn’t really get over it until last fall, after A LOT of repetition and teaching him the “head down” cue. I thought all the fluff might garner some protest and make him think I was trying to suffocate him, but nope. He mostly just wanted to eat it. Which… watching a horse try to eat the halter that is attached to it’s head is akin to watching a human try to lick it’s elbow.

Image result for lick elbow gif

He got bored of that pretty quickly (because attention span is approximately .5 seconds), so I adjusted the fit and admired our $18 score. It’s so fluffy. I like it. I’m totally pretending like he needed a shipping halter anyway (he didn’t) and that it was worth lugging all over Europe in a backpack (my spine is still mad). I took him over to see what Henry thought of it…

brotherly love

and then moved on to Presto’s next acquisition. He was still bummed to find that this one wasn’t edible either.

wore them for about 30 seconds before he got them dirty, because Presto.

These are the little faux leather bell boots that I found at Equip’horse for $20 and talked myself into buying even though I have like 4 pairs of bell boots already. In my defense, I bought these specifically for Presto (being able to reason myself into anything is my super power) and I do go through bell boots relatively quickly. Can one ever really have too many? It’s kinda like saddle pads. These bell boots do look really cute on him though and I kinda wish I had bought another pair, because I’m pretty sure they’re Equip’horse’s house brand but can’t find them on their website anywhere. Tekna makes some very similar to these although more expensive and hard to find. We’ll see how fast Presto destroys them. The faux leather itself seems very durable but I have my concerns about the elastic strap.

Once Presto was done trying on his new clothes (and putting everything in his mouth), we moved on to Henry, starting with his own super fluffy halter, and his fancy ice boots.

he’d had a lot of cookies by this point

His halter fits him too, and he looks adorbs. He didn’t particularly need a shipping halter either but shut up it was $18. That’s basically free. I did kind of wonder for a minute if I should have bought them both navy, but I think there are two kinds of people in this world: those who match all of their horses to themselves (ie people who are orderly), and those who want each horse to have different things so they don’t mix them up (ie people who live in a state of chaos). I’m clearly the latter, as a human. Plus my horses also have different color schemes – navy and yellow for Henry, navy and green for Presto. They don’t have to match. So their shipping halters are adjusted to each of them and easy to keep straight without having to label anything. Works for me.

The ice boots are maybe a touch big for Henry, which I knew they would be. He was at the upper end of “medium” on the size chart, but Presto will definitely be in the “large” range, and I figured being a bit big is better than being a bit small. Large it was. They fit just fine.

After that it was on to the pièce de résistance

This bridle is honestly my favorite thing that I bought. I had eyeballed the plaited hunt bridles last season but even I couldn’t talk myself into spending $200 for a hunt bridle when we hunt like twice a year. The vendor that had this one at Burghley (same vendor that had the halters, that place was dangerous) had plain flat hunt bridles with rubber reins for $30, or this plaited version for $50. SO CHEAP. I almost talked myself into the plain version, but then I was like “nah girl, you really wanted the plaited one last year, it’s your favorite style, it’s only $50, buy the damn bridle.”. So I did. And I have no regrets. I don’t get to hunt Henry much but I plan to hilltop Presto as much as possible next year, so I figured the purchase was more justifiable. Plus it was cheap, so if when Presto chews up the reins I won’t be as mad.

I tried it on Henry to make sure it would fit, and then took it home to soften it up. It was pretty darn stiff, especially the reins. Belvoir worked it’s magic on the bridle itself, which soaked up A TON of conditioner but softened up amazingly well. The reins were a little more stubborn, so I went back to my h/j roots and pulled out the good ol’ warm olive oil dunk + baggie + sunlight trick.

Sitting on the back deck, thinking about being a pretty bridle. 

That worked like absolute MAGIC, and a few hours later everything was soft and supple and beautiful. Like… waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay nicer than I ever expected it to turn out, considering how cheap it was. Nicest $50 bridle I’ve ever seen, that’s for sure.

I love her. ❤

There are few things more satisfying than that first oil/conditioning on a new piece of tack. One of life’s greatest pleasures.

The only thing I bought for the boys that I didn’t really like was the lead rope. It’s soft and thick so I thought it might be good for ponying, but in reality it’s a little bit too short and EVERYTHING sticks to it. Like it’s basically just a ball of shavings now. But it was $4, so I’m not that upset.

As far as the stuff for myself, I’ve tried both pair of gloves and like them. We’ll see how they hold up, that’s always the real question. I really like the feel of the Fouganza gloves, they’re very thin but grippy, and I can feel everything through them really easily. Of course, that also makes me think they might not last very long. We’re 4 rides in with no signs of wear yet, so we’ll see. They were $16, it won’t be that upsetting if they die quickly. If they came in more colors I would beg Mimi to go to Decathlon and buy me some more!

They are not actually this bright, you know I wouldn’t have bought them if they were

That’s pretty much everything. It all fits, and I like everything except that lead rope. I really didn’t buy that much, considering the sheer number of stores we went in. I’m secretly relieved that Fairfax wasn’t there, because I probably would have blacked out and bought a breastplate that cost more than all of this stuff combined. I came in WELL UNDER the budget I had allotted for myself. When does that ever happen? Shoulda bought more bell boots…