2019 Top 5: The Disappointments

Yesterday we covered my top 5 best memories from 2019, and for the sake of balance, it’s only fair to also talk about the less shiny parts. In general I don’t like to focus on what didn’t go well, because IMO you learn from it and move on, but I do think its important to be honest to anyone reading and talk about the bad as well as the good. I make mistakes. Sometimes things are disappointing. That’s just life.

The barn closing


I think the thing that gutted me most was when the barn I’d been at for 3 years sold to developers and closed down. The place was a bit rough around the edges, not at all fancy, and mostly a barn for very occasional trail riders, but it had tons of beautiful open land, they let me do what I wanted, and it was only 20 minutes from my house. Over time I’d come to make that place work quite well for me, and I was attached to those back fields in a borderline spiritual way. It wasn’t just the fact that we had to leave that was so disappointing, it was the idea of the land being turned into more disgusting cookie cutter neighborhoods. It still makes me ill to think about. Plus it broke up our Hillary/Bobby/Amanda trio of trouble. But, it did lead to bigger and better opportunities, so I suppose “for everything there is a season”.

Human injuries

he tried his best to pack me around, even with a messed up ankle

In May I managed to sprain my ankle pretty badly when I stepped down on the edge of the mounting block (it’s STILL not quite right) and then had a particularly nasty fall a couple weeks later while XC schooling. I ended up under the horse, and while overall I was fine, I was pretty well banged up. The hematoma on my leg is now a permanent dent. I think I learned a valuable lesson about taking better care of myself and giving myself appropriate time to heal rather than being stubborn and trying to power through things (as is my general nature). I think. I hope. I’ve tried to take the “treat yourself like you would treat the horses” approach a bit more. Grit is one thing, stupidity is another.

Vet bills

remember Old Faithful?

It has literally been one freaking vet bill after another since June. It started with routine floats and vaccines and injections, then there was a respiratory funk, an allergic reaction, a hematoma that subsequently got infected, a skin funk from hell, a ripped off chunk of hoof/heel, a cut hock, a broken tooth that needed to be extracted, and then a mystery foot lameness. And now they’re due for routine stuff again next month. If I could go a month or two without giving hundreds of dollars to the vet, that would be fun. Between the money and the issues, it killed any hope I had of a fall or winter season. Which again, may have turned out to be a good thing, because it gave me time away from all that to really have a think about what’s most important to me and spend some time just enjoying the horses without any other pressures.

Going splat at Coconino

the first jump was full of such promise…

So, real talk, that was a shitty moment. We’d had the best XC of our life the day before, and by the time we stepped into the ring for stadium we were literally the only pair left that hadn’t been eliminated. All I had to do was stay on and jump the jumps in the right order and we’d win, taking the $1200 Open Prelim division money home with us. And we jumped the first jump brilliantly, then almost fell down in the mud a few times in the corner before sliding through fence 2, and I went flying through the air to end that dream with an unceremonious splat. Disappointing, for sure. To be honest though, I kept waiting for it to feel like some kind of soul-crushing, life-altering defeat and it just never did. This sport is hard. Shit happens. To everyone. It would have been freaking awesome to win and bring home some money, duh, but I was still really pleased with my horse and no matter how it ended, the XC was a career highlight that could never be erased or minimized. In the old days, pre-working-on-my-mental-game, I would have been absolutely devastated. Now it was just… a bummer. So I guess, depending on how you want to look at it, it could have been a good thing? Showed some growth anyway.

FEH Champs

lawd he handsome though

While I was happy that Presto qualified for FEH Champs again, and grateful that he was sound and could actually attend despite trying to rip his foot off a month before and then cutting his hock a few days before, I was admittedly disappointed in the day. I believe heartily in the importance of the FEH and YEH programs and want to support them as much as I can, and I had really been looking forward to Championships. Prices went up this year, which I totally understand, but it was a lot to spend (like as much as I’d spend on a regular recognized horse trial) and a very long hot day (we had to stand in the sun in 100 degrees for a couple hours after we were done to wait for results) to show a baby horse on the line. While Presto wasn’t unsound from the cut on his hock, he did move very wide behind to protect it, which (fairly) they did not like at all and seemed to interpret as a substantial overall weakness. We got good pictures and more experience, so it wasn’t a total wash, but given the time and money involved, it was a bit disappointing. Naturally he was moving normally again within a few days, because horses.

To be fair, these are really the only truly disappointing moments that spring to mind from the year. And even then, I think most of them have or will ultimately lead to something good. You live, you learn. Shit happens for a reason. Blah blah blah. I don’t always believe that, but as long as I’m learning from the blunders, I do believe they can turn into positives in the long run. Or ya know, build character at the very least? And honestly, sometimes my stubborn hard-headed self really does have to learn things the hard way.

2019 Top 5: Best Memories

I feel like every year I kind of change how I do these “year in review” type posts. I don’t really like doing just a summary of what happened, but I also think that doing a “by the numbers” thing kind of puts the focus in the wrong places. My goals are to have fun, enjoy my horses, and learn. Numbers don’t always really reflect that. So I’m going to try out something new and instead break up the year-recap into more of a Top 5 series. For today’s, we’re starting out with my top 5 memorable moments of the year, the bits that really spring to mind as the most spine-tinglingly “I’ll never forget that time when…” type of memories I made in 2019. These are in no particular order of course, because who could pick a favorite?

Finally getting a clear Prelim stadium round

I love Henry to the absolute depths of forever, but Jesus H Christ, it is hard AF to show jump clean on this horse. Especially at Prelim. XC is his forte, and he really just doesn’t care much if he hits a rail or three. Trying to dial in the stadium has been a lot of ongoing work. In February we finally pulled that shit together, and despite a few rubs they DID all stay in the cups. FINALLY. (I think it was a one-off incident of pure luck but shhhhhhh I’ll take it)

First “sit” on Presto


I don’t know that it counts as a “ride” since I literally just swung a leg over and sat on him at a standstill for a few minutes, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being the first one to sit on a horse that you bred. I was there when he was created, I was there when he was born, and now my butt will always have been the first one to grace his back. It seems like a small thing but after years of investing so much time, energy, love, hope, money, etc it feels like a magical moment. Especially when he’s a second generation homebred for me.

Henry’s first recognized Prelim

he is serious business, y’all

It sounds silly but once I knew Prelim was actually attainable, I really wanted Henry to have it on his official USEA record. I know, horses don’t give a shit about that, and since he’ll never be for sale it doesn’t actually matter at all, but something in me just really felt like he deserved to be an “official” Prelim horse. It’s a title he’s more than earned and I’m ridiculously proud of him. It kinda feels like a public record that testifies to the fact that he always tries so hard for me and is the most golden of eggs. When we sealed the deal on our first recognized Prelim completion, it was a great feeling.

Meeting Mighty Magic

When you realize that the apple definitely did not fall very far from the tree at all

Honestly that whole trip may have been the best yet, between Burghley and France I have so many great memories and cannot WAIT to do it again. But if I had to pick my absolute favorite moment of that entire trip, it would be meeting Presto’s sire Mighty Magic. We have met a lot of stallions in our travels but MM is special to me. I’ve loved him for so long, and finally getting to see him in person, and have him just be SO MUCH like Presto… it was awesome.

Conquering the jump that’s lived in my nightmares for years

You know how sometimes you see a jump and you’re just like hahahaha I would never jump that, you could not even pay me enough, that thing looks like death personified, EFF NO? I have felt that way about the Prelim/Intermediate (they share it) weldon’s wall at Coconino since the first time I laid eyes on it in 2016. Like I couldn’t even make eye contact with it then without wanting to barf. I figured I’d never have to jump it anyway, so I was content to let it live in the land of nightmares. And then we went to Coco and ran Prelim and there I was, staring that stupid thing down, trying not to shit myself. I still hate it, but we jumped it, proving once again that with the right horse, even those “never in a million years” things can suddenly be do-able. That whole XC round was probably one of the top 5 moments of my entire life, but finally jumping that stupid thing in particular felt equal parts terrifying and amazing, so it stands out.

someone send it back to hell where it belongs (the jump, not Hillary, she can stay)
and take this BAT (big ass table) with it

It was definitely a year of stepping out of comfort zones and stretching ourselves, and also learning how to roll with the punches. Sometimes we succeeded, sometimes we didn’t (we’ll talk about the Fails in another post), but we showed up and we tried. I think I’ve finally learned how to really have fun no matter what happens, and how to put the most emphasis on the things that matter most (hint: it’s definitely not scores or ribbons or points).

Spoiled Creatures

The boys made out quite well this holiday season. Yeah I know, don’t they always? It started with Black Friday, with Henry’s sparkly AF hoof boot (the best hoof boot ever created, if you ask me) and the two new white merino wool Premier Equine pads (which may or may not still be sitting in the house with the tags on because I just want to enjoy them being pristine for as long as possible, ok?). Then of course it was Presto’s awesome gift from his horse mom, which continued the sparkly AF theme.

you’re gonna see pics of these a lot, get used to it

Things just kept coming in waves for them after that. There’s the Hylofit, which I’ve been using a lot as I bring Henry back into work,

yeah I know, getting the Devoucoux re-billeted is on the docket for 2020

but it did highlight the fact that since I moved to the merino wool pads, they take up less space under the saddle, and thus my girths are a little bit big now. Like… almost to the top holes on each side, which means there isn’t really enough room for the Hylofit to sit where it needs to once I mount up and tighten my girth. So I used one of my amazon gift cards that I got for xmas to order Henry a smaller girth, which will fit Presto better too. It has memory foam. Tres fancy.

Image result for collegiate memory foam dressage girth

I went back and forth for a while between a synthetic like this one or a full blown sheepskin girth, thinking about completing Henry’s already ridiculously fluffy outfit. But he’s never had an issue with girths (except the fake fleece ones, which rubbed him, because Henry) so I opted not to introduce more sheepskin maintenance into my life where it wasn’t necessary. Maybe next time.

I also used a visa gift card to buy a tack shop gift card, so that I can get the reversible navy and green elastic breastplate that I’ve been wanting for Presto. Still waiting for that tack shop to email me the gift card…

Image result for nunn finer navy reversible breastplate

The boys also got an item that I’ve been lusting after for a while and talked about a lot – the space boots! Or more specifically, the Majyk Equipe cold compression boots. They look just as NASA-rific in person as I’d dreamed.

I haven’t used them yet, but I’m mega impressed by how well made and rugged they are. These things are legit. The ice packs are a lot thicker and sturdier than the LeMieux ones too, so hopefully they work better. We’ll find out soon. I’ve already played with the air pump, it’s quite fun.

Presto got a new Lund bridle, since he’s officially outgrown his old cob size one. Really that one hasn’t fit him well all year, he outgrew the headstall a long time ago, but now it’s just getting ridiculous and the straps barely reach. So now he’s got a new horse size basic snaffle bridle that should serve him well for the next couple years and be appropriate for any ring (he will probably find himself in some baby hunter classes at some point since I think that’s really good for the greenies). I just, uh… haven’t taken it out of the box and put it together yet. Probably this weekend, when I have time to condition it properly.

it smells like new leather in the house right now though, it’s divine

The boys also got some cleaning-type stuff, which they perhaps might not find particularly exciting, but I do. We’ve got a new product to us, Unicorn Grooming Spray, which is appropriately named. It’s all natural and has a nice mild scent.


And Blanket Safe, which I’ve been wanting to try for a while. I haven’t used it yet but I did open all the scents to smell them and omg they smell amazing. I can’t decide if I like the lavender or the clean linen the most. They’re anti-bacterial, detergent-free, and safe to use on waterproofing, plus I’ve heard really good things about their cleaning power for both blankets and saddle pads. If these work well on the blankets I think I might need to get their fleece and wool formula for my merino wool pads.

cherry, lemon, lavender, and clean linen

What the boys really raked in a lot of this year, though, was treats. Four different kinds, to be exact. Apple and Oats, Nicker Makers, Mrs. Pastures x 2 jars, and cheap Walmart oatmeal cookies (a favorite of Henry’s).

three of the four laid out in a taste test for Henry to see which one he would eat first. It was the Nicker Maker, followed .5 seconds later by the Apple and Oat, followed 1 second later by the Mrs Pastures. Really he chewed them all up together like one big mega-cookie conglomerate, because that’s my boy.

They aren’t the only ones who were a bit spoiled, either. I’ve gotten a few fun horsey things too, starting with the mounting block that I already mentioned. Really though, I love my 3-step. I think I will especially love it once I try to swing a leg over that giraffe I’ve got living out in the pasture.

previous step stool on the left, looking extra shrimpy

I’m also branching out and trying some breeches that are totally new to me – first a pair of Montar from The Dressage Store, which I’ve basically been living in for a couple weeks… it’s too soon to say for sure but they might be my new favorite.

And a pair of Shop Halter Ego’s Perfection breeches in a gorgeous dark gray with navy piping. They’re super pretty.


So really I suppose we’re all spoiled creatures, and I’m gonna have a lot of reviews to write soon. Any of these things in particular that you’re particularly interested in a review on? I need to prioritize them somehow…

2019 Blogger Gift Exchange

The Blogger Gift Exchange, hosted every year by Tracy at The Printable Pony, is quite possibly one of my favorite annual traditions. The equestrian blogger community has yielded me a lot of great friendships over the years, although granted I haven’t met a lot of them in person yet. Being able to do the gift exchange is a really fun, personal, and tangible way to reach out to the people behind the screen. I have not always known my recipient or my gift-giver very well in the past, but this year I was well-acquainted with both! My recipient was Stacie at Amateur at Large (we constantly enable each other to buy things, so it was quite apropos), and I possibly went a little overboard getting stuff for her. I couldn’t help it. Things just kept popping up that screamed Stacie. Like a cheese balls shirt.

who else in the entire world could you ever buy a shirt like this for and have them actually love it?

I always do feel a bit bad for whoever is unlucky enough to get me though, because I’m very aware of how hard I am to shop for, but I actually knew my gift-giver this year too – Rhiannon over at The Horse is Not Black. Granted, I’m not sure if knowing me actually makes it more or less difficult to shop for me. Either way, she did great!

First of all, you people that are organized and put-together enough to individually wrap things – hats off to you. I literally just toss shit in a box. If I remember to do that before actual Christmas, get all the right things in the right boxes, and address it to the right person, it’s a win for me. Rhiannon totally gets extra points for presentation though, with all the nice wrapping. And Stewie, my JRT mix, absolutely loves to rip the paper off of presents, so he quite enjoyed that part.

Inside all the packages was a treasure trove of treats – for cats, dogs, horses, and humans. Nicker Makers are probably Henry’s favorite treats aside from the ultra-sugary Stud Muffins or German Horse Muffins (which are reserved only for special occasions lest he get The ‘Beetus), so he was delighted. He seriously raked in the treats this year, across the board. Stewie and Quinn both loved theirs too, and the kitten (who SO has named Orlock and I still call Hades, we are a house divided so this cat will probably have 2 names forever) gobbled his up as well. Grem likes to sniff treats, reject them, and then get mad about not getting a treat (it’s kind of her thing), so… Hades ate hers. Serves her right.

For me there was hot chocolate – an excellent choice because while I am one of the rare humans on this planet who doesn’t like coffee, beer, or wine, I do love me some hot chocolate. She also included a nice black Ariat merino wool headband, which will definitely come in handy doing barn chores this winter.

Stewie’s favorite part though?

all the pics were just a blur of violence 

The toys. He had seen me take them out of the box and set them on the table, so he was already whining and prancing while I was trying to take the first picture. As soon as I snapped it I handed him the reindeer and he took off around the living room. He might be 14 but destroying toys is still his favorite activity in the world. He’s very systematic about it… gnaw off an appendage, remove all the guts, find the squeaker, and then roll around in the gore. Within 15 minutes the reindeer was an amputee.

You don’t even want to see what he looks like now, a few days later. It’s gruesome. You wouldn’t be able to ID the body anymore. RIP reindeer, sorry you ended up in a house of horrors.

Aside from perhaps unwittingly becoming an accessory to reindeer murder, Rhiannon did a great job. Thank you! Another fun and successful Blogger Gift Exchange in the books. Hope everyone had a great holiday.

The 2010’s photo challenge

Emily over at May as Well Event (have you seen her cute little palomino mare? She’s one of my favorite blogger horses.) came up with a really great idea for an end-of-the-decade 2010’s photo challenge. The rule is that you have to pick one photo, and only one photo, for each year of the 2010’s. Which is… way harder than it seemed like it would be. Thank goodness I’ve had facebook forever so that I could at least tell which year was which. Things really start to blur together over time. But then it got really hard narrowing it down to just one. I found myself picking more “pivotal moments” photos rather than the best or prettiest.



I owned Sadie in 2010 but she was just a 3yo, so while I hacked and trail rode her a few days a week, most of my “real” riding was on catchrides. It was also still back in my h/j days. This was Otis, a Holsteiner gelding that I hadn’t ridden until the day before the horse show. We did the adult hunters at that show, and I still vividly remember paying that bill (which, coincidentally, is the day I realized I would never really be able to compete at the level I wanted to in that sport, even though I’d keep trying for a couple more years).



In 2011 Sadie turned 4 and went to her first couple horse shows in the hunters, mostly with my trainer at the time. However, I also started leasing an Oldenburg gelding from a friend. I brought him back from a ligament injury and started showing him in the jumpers, which was a real aha moment for me. I hadn’t done the jumpers in many years, and now I remembered just how much I really loved it. Suddenly I really didn’t want to do the hunters at all anymore, despite having a homebred that was specifically created for the hunter ring. Oops.



Luckily Sadie, now a 5yo, was totally down for a career change and humored me without complaint.



Between 2012 and 2013 the shit really hit the fan in my personal life, so I made arrangements to lease Sadie out for a year to get myself back on track. The person I leased her to turned out to be Michelle of Willow Tree Warmbloods, which of course was the beginning of something epic even if we didn’t know it at the time. Granted, I only managed to make it about 6 months without a horse before I had a mental breakdown, and Sadie was now pregnant, so naturally I impulse-purchased Henry on facebook. At the time I reasoned that he’d be a resale project to keep me occupied until Sadie’s foal was weaned and she was ready to come home.



Henry and I started the year in the jumper ring, dabbled in a couple hunter classes, and by the end of the year, through a series of very serendipitous events, somehow found ourselves at Henry’s first horse trial. I hadn’t evented since 2003, but as soon as I left the start box I was hooked all over again. Henry also seemed to really love it, although he was a little bit spooky about XC at first and had a definite aversion to down banks.



We came out swinging as eventers in 2015, and I set the goal of qualifying for AEC’s since it was the last year for it to be held in Texas. We showed a lot with Bobby and got our BN AEC qualifications secured by May, then moved up to Novice in June. We moved back down for AEC, placed 10th individually (Bobby won!), and our team won the Adult Team Championships. After AEC we moved back up to N and now I was definitely mega-hooked. It was also becoming really clear that my “sale horse” was definitely… not.



Our big goal in 2016 was the Novice 3 Day at Coconino. We secured all of our qualifications throughout the spring, and then in July we were off to experience our first classic format. Roads and tracks still stands out as some of the most fun I’ve ever had on a horse, and it was also when things really started to click for us on cross country. I came back from that trip feeling like Henry really understood what the game was all about, and I was finally figuring out how to really ride it.



This stands out as one of the best and also one of the worst years I’ve ever had with horses. Presto was born, and we all know what happened after that. I’m still not okay and probably never will be. But he pulled through, time and time again, and I put in my first season at Training level with Henry, something I had honestly never thought we’d get to. The jumps were starting to shrink, and our confidence was starting to grow.



Things started really coming together for Henry and me in 2018. The XC was now the easiest phase, and the dressage was slowly but surely improving. Now the bugaboo was stadium… ha, go figure. By the end of the season we managed to pull it together and finish on our dressage score a few times at Training, finally getting some good placings at the level at recognized shows. We decided to keep riding that wave and in December we did our first Preliminary, where I crossed the finish line and bawled like a baby. I’ll never in my life forget how that felt.



This year we did three more Prelims. Each time felt a little surreal, since I never actually imagined we’d ever get to that level. That was certainly never the goal at any point, it just… happened. Henry proved his heart and his love for the game by turning in a clear XC round at each one, even at Coconino which was definitely the toughest XC we’ve ever faced, with questions the likes of which he’d never seen before. He gave me the round of my life that day, eating it up like he was having the grandest time. It’s one of the highlights of my life, much less my year. To have brought this horse up the levels, and to see how hard he tries for me… that’s the part that makes it so extraordinary for me.

It’s been a crazy decade. If you’d told me in 2010 that I’d be eventing at Preliminary by 2019, have an eventing-bred son of Sadie in my barn, and be absolutely head over heels in love with both horses, I would have thought you were definitely off your meds. It’s interesting, the places life takes us. Goes to show that sometimes fate has better plans in store for us than we could ever have come up with on our own.

Looking ahead to 2020: Travel

As you guys probably know by now, I love to travel. Ok, specifically I love to travel to do horsey things. Our Europe trips are actual dreams come true, and it seems like with every trip we get a little more crafty at how to cram as much stuff in as possible.

normal people can go to their beaches and ski resorts all they want, it will never beat standing in a field in middle of nowhere in France, petting an Olympic stallion

But, while Europe is my favorite, there’s definitely plenty to do stateside as well. I could travel from event to event and farm to farm pretty much all year long and stay busy and happy, I’m pretty sure (hey lottery, wanna help me test that theory?). But, ya know… money. And real life. I have to prioritize one or two things a year and balance that with horse shows and vet bills and all that other stuff too. Therefore I usually start plotting any trips pretty far in advance. This year we hit the FEH/YEH Symposium in Ocala over the winter, and then Burghley/France late in the summer. It was an expensive year for me otherwise, so while I had originally hoped to also hit either Kentucky in the spring or Fair Hill in the fall, it just didn’t happen.

Looking ahead to 2020, there are a few events on my radar. I’m guessing I will probably have to pick 2, but I haven’t completely decided which ones yet…

Image result for morven park

First and foremost, I definitely want to get to Morven Park in the fall for the first ever 6yo 2* and 7yo 3* to be held on American soil. I think this is huge, and I want to be there and support it however I can. Morven will be priority #1.

Image result for equitana usa

I am watching with rapt attention to see how Equitana’s line-up starts to shake out. It’s a trade fair, it’s an exhibition, there’s shopping, there’s education… I mean, it’s got my name written all over it. I’m just waiting to see more about who all is going to be there for the clinics before I commit. The tickets are cheap but the travel part never is, so I want to make sure the trip seems worthwhile.

Image result for millstreet eventing

On a more far-reaching, international note, I think my next “pie in the sky” Europe trip goal is Millstreet in Ireland. I don’t know if that’ll be possible in 2020, but if not, hopefully 2021. I’ve been itching to get to Ireland, and Millstreet has a lot to offer in one show – young horse classes for 4 and 5yo, a 6yo 2*, ERM series 4*-S, a 4*-L, a pony division of the 2*, and of course… a trade fair. Plus there are a lot of stallions/offspring I’d like to see in Ireland (ahem, Tullabeg Fusion) and it would be cool to fit in a 3 or 4 day riding adventure too while we’re there. Gotta get the most of out one trip! This of course would be the most expensive one though, so… not sure whether or not I’ll be able to swing it with everything else going on in my life next year.

Image result for fair hill 5*

If Equitana and Millstreet both end up being a no-go, then that opens up the possibility of Kentucky or Fair Hill 5*… those are always back burner options that I would love to get to, but aren’t as high up on the priority list.

Anyone else started planning their 2020 events and travel yet? What’s on your radar?

Captain Sparkles

On a note related entirely to the title but not at all to the actual content of this post, back in the day I used to ride a TB mare named Jezebel who’s sire was, no joke, Mr. Sparkles (he was Deputy Minister x Buckpasser, what I wouldn’t do to get my hands on another by him now!) and I really did NOT appreciate that name enough at the time.



Presto’s Christmas present (the one from his horse mom) arrived this week, and boy are they delightfully sparkly. Navy glitter does not disappoint. They’ve almost got a galaxy-esque look to them.


They’re from Punk Ponies in New Zealand, and considering how freaking far they had to travel, they arrived pretty quickly, just a little over a week from order to arrival. Their size chart said the boots run small and they definitely were not kidding, I ordered the Extra Full and they fit. Presto is built more like a TB than a WB and typically wears horse sized things. When I took them out of the bag I was a little worried the elastic might not reach around his cannon, especially given how hairy his legs are right now, but it does. Albeit not with any room to spare. If you have a particularly large and big-boned horse, I don’t think you’ll have much luck getting these to fit.

The quality is decent, not like Prestige or Veredus level when it comes to plush sheepskin open front boots, but then again these were only $66 USD for a full set – extremely cheap for boots – so that’s not what I was expecting. The lining of course is fleece, and I’d say they’re more comparable to the LeMieux fleece boots that I’ve seen, which seems more than reasonable to me given the price point. We’ll see how they hold up. Given that they’re…. glitter…  it’s not really something I’d use on a daily basis, more for “special occasions”.

I never noticed until this day that the hair on his coronary band is really long and curly, it’s weird AF

The main draw of these, after all, is how they look. Let’s be real, you’re not buying them because you want the best or most practical boot on the market, you’re buying these because you want some damn glitter in your life (or holo, or patent, or camo, or floral, or whatever other spectacularly weird shit you’re buying from this place). In that regard, they certainly deliver. Once you get a bit of distance there’s nothing particularly eye-catching about them, but up close, boy do they ever twinkle. Which, maybe I’m easily amused, but I think they’re hilarious on Presto, with his punk rock forelock, copious side eye, and giraffe legs. I’m kind of thinking of them as his super hero uniform… without them, he’s Presto, but put the boots on and BAM Captain Sparkles.


Yeah I know, I am for sure going to pay for this some day.

boy it’s REALLY FUNNY right now though

Speaking of which, we continue to creep closer and closer to his 3rd birthday. Less than 4 months to go! I had originally planned to put a few very basic w/t/stop/steer rides on him this month, but then all the sudden he started looking like a weird giraffe/llama/moose hybrid again. Great, another growth spurt. Just what he needed. I may or may not have exclaimed “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?” at him when he went from lovely to heinous seemingly overnight. The neck is… something else. So those plans are on hold for now. No rush. It can wait until his body isn’t so weird and gawky and unbalanced.

For now I just bring him in, put his sparkly boots on, and giggle like a complete lunatic at the sight of it. That’s not weird right?

Fun Stuff that’s Happening this Week

I fully admit that my idea of fun stuff and other people’s idea of fun stuff might not align, but… maybe there’s something here for everyone? This is my collection of the noteworthy stuff that’s happening so far on the internet this week. Don’t worry, it gets less heavy as we go along.

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First of all there’s the video that literally everyone needs to watch, whether you’re pro-Safe Sport or anti-Safe Sport (ok perhaps especially if you’re anti). If you’re involved in equestrian sport, Safe Sport concerns you, and it’s your job to educate yourself. Period, full stop. Last week at the USHJA convention they live streamed a Q&A with SafeSport’s Michael Henry. Fair warning, it’s long, but I just listened to it during my commute and barn chores. The first hour and 20 mins or so is Michael walking everyone through the SS process, addressing a few common misconceptions, and clarifying what exactly they do. During this time he drops some pretty interesting statistics, like the fact that in the 2 years that SS has been open, they’ve had over 4000 cases and resolved 2800 so far across all sports. And of those, only 800 have resulted in any kind of violation (ranging all the way from a warning letter to a permanent ban). Only 2% end up with any kind of temporary measures (which can range from a no contact order up to a temporary suspension) in place while the investigation is ongoing. And of all the cases where a violation was found by SS, less than 1% got overturned in arbitration.

The Q&A part starts after that, and fair warning, it’s… cringey. Some of the anti-SS people are doing themselves no favors by being blatantly ignorant about the basic facts, and attempting to repeat complete falsehoods even after they’ve been corrected multiple times. If you want SS reform, by all means make it your cause, but at least get your facts straight and understand what it is and how it works. Otherwise you just look like an idiot on a video that the crowd in the room (and everyone watching) is laughing at. Awwwwkwaaarrd.

Moving on, I mentioned Monday that I’d listened to several of the live stream lectures from the USEA convention, and thankfully they’ve started to put some of them up online for replay. One in particular that was of great interest to me was “Why Aren’t US Event Horses Lasting Longer?”. If that’s not an attention-grabbing title I dunno what is. The panel for this one was particularly good: Erik Duvander (team coach), Matt Brown (ULR), Max Corcoran (a lot of things, but especially a top groom), Sam Watson (ULR), Dr. Susan Johns (vet).

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They talked about everything from footing to frequency of events to basic rider choices. Yes, the discussion was geared toward top level horses, but IMO a lot of it applies all the way down the levels. The consensus was that while our harder footing tends to get much of the blame, it certainly can’t hold all the weight since other countries with equally hard (or harder) footing don’t have the injury rate that we do. The thing that really stood out to me were the stats based around how often horses were showing – the numbers they used were regarding horses at the Advanced level, of course, but still highlighted something that I thought warranted consideration even at the mid-levels. They found that with horses who had 3-5 starts per year, 71% of them had careers of 8 years or longer, whereas with horses that had 6 or more starts per year, only 22% had careers 8 years or longer. Is it perhaps both a blessing and a curse that people can event year-round in this country if they want to?

They also talk about our allowed usage of NSAID’s (some other countries don’t allow them at all and have totally clean sport), and how quick we seem to reach for them to alleviate symptoms rather than look more closely at the possible root cause. I think that’s also a fair point to consider, and something I see a lot. Horse feeling a little sore? Give it some bute and carry on!

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I’ve been thinking about many of their points and chewing on what might translate (or not) to us folks further down the levels, but I feel like people should watch the entire discussion and see what they get out of it for themselves.

On a more fun note, EquiRatings fan voting for their Horse of the Year 2019 awards is in it’s semi-finals!

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All of the horses I voted for in the first round made it through to the semis (yes ok I’m a traitor to my country by not voting for Tsetserleg, but he was up against friggin HALE BOB, one of my absolute favorites of all time, I just couldn’t), although my brain just about exploded at having to choose between Vanir Kamira and Rioghan Rua. Like I might have been sweating a little, cursor hovering back and forth between them, trying to pick. The polls are on the EquiRatings facebook page, and since it’s fan-based it’s more fun, so eventing fans – go vote!

Last but not least, I found out on Monday that I was the recipient of the Event Riders Association Amateur Impact award for 2019. I hadn’t realized before that ERA did special awards, but it’s a pretty cool honor and I already have someone in mind to nominate for next year. I know that Nadia was the one to nominate me this year, and it was really kind of her to think of me and throw my hat in the ring, so many thanks to you Nadia! This was definitely a highlight after what has been a bit of a challenging second half of the year.


That’s a lot of stuff happening for it to only be Wednesday.

Have you guys watched any of these videos yet? Thoughts? I’m really itching to discuss. We’ve got everything from SafeSport to drugs to show frequency to top event horse popularity all contained in one post, surely there’s something here worth talking about!

Death by Bird

The good news is – knock on every wood surface available within reach – Henry has been sound since he got his fancy new sneakers put on. I gave him almost a week to acclimate, and to make sure that he’d stay looking good. He proceeded to gallop and perform sliding stops in his turnout everyday to the point where he took at least 5 years off my life in the process.

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He’s a feral creature at the moment. Over a month off has done absolutely nothing for his brain cells, I’m relatively certain they all had a fight to death and now there’s only one left standing (and it’s a psychopath). There is a lot of snorting and tail flagging which I can only assume is the winning brain cell’s version of a victory celebration.

I decided to bring Henry back really slowly, since we never were quite sure why he was lame in the first place, and I don’t really trust it. We’ll very slowly ramp things back up and see how it goes. I’m in precisely zero hurry and would rather take way too long than rush things and increase the risk for re-injury.

So last week I finally swung a leg over and we went for a hack.

Correction: we tried to go for a hack. He’s so wild that it was more like a power march that often ended up sideways because there was a plant or an animal. Or because there wasn’t a plant or an animal. Either way. Terrifying, according to Henry.

On Sunday I hopped back aboard, this time adding a few minutes of trot to our hack. Which was, admittedly, a lot of borderline jigging and some seriously athletic teleportations. Early in the ride a big huge bird took off from a tree behind us. I didn’t get a good look at it, as Henry was already halfway to Houston, but it was a really big one. Naturally he spent the entire ride after that spooking at birds. Big birds. Small birds. Moving birds. Still birds. Invisible birds. Relatively certain we encountered every bird or non-bird but bird-like animal in the county. The best part was when they would stir in the trees after we’d already passed, and General Last-Remaining-Brain-Cell would take off first and ask questions later. If I die, it’s because of birds.

But his trot felt really good (I’m trying to ignore the fact that he clearly loves these stupid, massively expensive glue on sneakers) so… we’ll just keep taking it one ride at a time. Yesterday afternoon in turnout he was absolutely SPRINTING down the fenceline, farting and bucking like he was trying out for the damn rodeo while I yelled “OH MY GOD PLEASE DON’T DO THAT, IF YOU’RE LAME TOMORROW I’M GOING TO EAT YOU”. Horse really needs to get back to work before he gives me a damn heart attack.

Speaking of hearts, we got a new toy to try out, so I’m excited to put this on him today and see how it works. We might not get any particularly interesting data for a while (except spooking) but it’ll be fun to play with. Y’all know I love horsey technology. The Hylofit is definitely much easier/less complicated than the Seaver, although they’re a bit different in what data they collect. We’ll see how it goes! I can’t wait to see how my heart rate compares to his. At least I don’t spook at birds.