What do we do now

Well guys, this corona thing really spiraled quickly didn’t it? Things look a lot different today than they did a week ago, or even just 4 days ago. USEF, USEA, and FEI have cancelled shows for now, and everything is coming to a screeching halt. Whether or not any of us contracts the virus, this is definitely going to affect all of us in some way.

Over the weekend I have to admit that I was very disappointed to see the people on social media who wanted to keep horse showing in the coming weeks despite all this, and the organizers who wanted to keep offering schooling shows because riders asked for them. I’m not sure why some of us seem to feel exempt from what all the experts are recommending, and what our societal obligation demands. The time to buckle down is now, and there is nothing special about us that exempts us from that.


Look, I get it. Being sidelined sucks. All horse people know what that feels like. For some people this is going to be dreamcrushing (especially if the Olympics gets cancelled). For organizers it could end up being a huge financial hit that some may struggle to recover from. For professionals who make most of their living selling horses or on coaching fees, this is going to hurt for sure. For vendors like mobile tack shops and photographers, this is a massive blow to the bottom line and could put them out of business. I understand all of that. But the fact of the matter is, there is no choice anymore. The global pandemic has happened. The horse show industry continuing to go against the recommendation of the CDC (no gatherings over 50 people for the next 8 weeks) or the current US administration (no gatherings over 10 people) is asinine and senseless, and, quite honestly, reeks of privilege. Please, let’s not be part of the problem. This is a global pandemic that will kill thousands, if not millions. Be a good human and do your part.

If the “human life” aspect isn’t enough to sway you, also consider that the sooner we get this under control, the sooner we can start going back to normal life, the sooner the economy can recover, and the fewer businesses will have to shutter. Isolating ourselves as much as possible right now is in everyone’s best interest, including horse people’s. Please follow USEF’s recommendation and stop holding shows and clinics and workshops. Riders, please for the love of god stop attending these things. I know it absolutely sucks to have to come to a screeching halt just as you were coming into peak season, but we have to. If you don’t opt to do it on your own, soon the government will force you. Don’t be part of the problem. Just stop. We are not entitled to keep traveling to horse shows and holding events when people’s lives are at stake. Think horse shows don’t have the same risk for transmission? I ask you to please read this. You will not die from a lack of horse showing, I promise. But people could die because you were too obstinate to fulfill your societal obligation. This is so much bigger than us right now. Let’s all just hunker down for and while and we’ll get through this together.

Image result for thank you for coming to my ted talk gif

So – since this is happening whether we like it or not, the next thing to ask ourselves as horse people is “what do we do now?”.

If you have a business that will be or already has been affected by this – a mobile tack shop, a photographer, a sales horse program, an event facility, a small business, etc – please leave a link to your business in the comments so that we can try to help.

If you’re a rider that is no longer able to show for the forseeable future and you’re in a stable enough place financially to afford it, please consider patronizing these business. Order yourself a little something from a vendor, visit your favorite show photographer’s website and buy a photo or two from a past event. If you know organizers that are cancelling shows, send them an email and ask if you can pre-pay for a few XC schooling fees.  If you entered a show that cancelled and you can afford to forfeit your entry towards their lost costs, consider donating it. If your trainer’s business is taking a hit, inquire about pre-paying for a chunk of lessons or signing your horse up for training rides. Getting some cash in their hands now could make a world of difference. Check on your hourly-wage and service industry friends who are likely to be affected by this and see if they need anything for themselves or their horses. If we have the means, let’s do what we can to help take care of our own.

If you’re a horse industry professional that is suddenly much less busy than usual, this could also be an opportunity. Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn more about that you’ve never had time for in the past? Course design, breeding, officiating, etc? Maybe now is the opportunity to start looking into and learning about those things and expanding the professional portfolio. If you now find yourself in a tough spot financially, consider offering facetime lessons, or video lessons, or online horsemanship classes. If you need ideas for how to do any of those things, please contact me and I’d be glad to help however I can. This could also be a great opportunity to update websites and social media (or learn about sharpening up those social media marketing skills) so that when things do settle down, your business is in a prime place to take off again. Put together really good videos of all those sale horses, catch up on your bookkeeping, and please don’t forget to take care of your staff as best you can.

Facility owners who need to keep their doors open at least a little bit for as long as possible, consider something similar to Flying Cross. This option may not be feasible for many or available for long, but it’s an idea.

For those that aren’t going to feel as much financial pain, maybe this is a good opportunity to reconnect with our horses again. To let the day to day bustle and the pressure fall away and remember why it is we do all of this in the first place. Do some ground work, go ride bareback (alone or in very small groups please), or just enjoy time with your horse. Or hey, maybe you’re feeling a little burned out from the horses and want to spend a little time with your family instead so you can come back refreshed and refocused. Do it guilt-free.


If you’re one of the unlucky people that is already on lockdown from the barn and unable to see your horse – I’m sorry, that really sucks. I can only hope that other people will isolate themselves as much as possible to help control the spread of this virus so that you can be reunited with your horses sooner rather than later.

The news of Kentucky being cancelled yesterday, while not surprising, is definitely a huge disappointment to a lot of people. Did you know that the organizer of the K3D is a non profit? If you can afford to donate your ticket refund to them, please consider it. They have said they will also be allowing people to roll over this year’s tickets for next year as well, so maybe we can help make 2021 their best year ever.

If we look for opportunities and ways to help, there are so many, even when it might feel like things are crumbling. This is a hard time, emotionally and economically, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Most of us alive today have never lived through a moment in history like this, and it can seem surreal or impossible. Please though, let’s take this very seriously as a community. I challenge you: be a helper. Let’s look for what we can do to help. Maybe it’s as small and easy as just staying home as much as possible. Maybe it’s in the form of financial support. Who knows what it may look like for you, but all of us can do it even in a small way.

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Have more ideas for ways to help or know of things we can be doing? Please drop it in a comment! Stay safe out their friends, we’ll get through this.

Birfday Boy (it’s not easy being 3)


I’m not sure a Presto birthday will ever go by without me getting a little emotional about it. This day could so easily have been one of tragedy instead of triumph, and even 3 years later it still feels raw. It’s so easy to look at him and feel immense gratitude, especially on “milestone” days like this. He had to tolerate a very long, slightly blubbery hug from me this morning while he ate his breakfast. He’s used to my insanity by now I think.

So how did Presto spend his pre-birthday weekend?

Henry hates the ball as much as Presto loves it

Ya know, doing Presto things. Like yoga.

And playing bitey face with Henry. Which… he’s starting to have a real height advantage on Henry for that game. It’s hard to bite a giraffe in the face.

He also got his second ride on Saturday. Hillary came out again to be my ground person, and Presto was out back having a hardcore play session when I went to get him. He was real mad that I interrupted. REAL MAD. Life is hard when you’re 3.

dis is bullshit

Since he was having toddler tantrums we did a lot of groundwork before I got on, and he lunged for a little while at the walk, trot, and canter until he removed the stick from his butt. I did lots of transitions to get his brain engaged, and finally he settled into the inevitability of his life. I mounted up, and we basically repeated the same things as the first ride. We started off on the lunge line, did some walk and trot, and then did some walking on our own. I added more turns and transitions this time, and the steering was a little better.

I am concerned that he already looks this big considering he’s literally only a foot wide at the moment

Despite the fact that he’s done a good bit of ground driving, he seems naturally more responsive to seat and leg than he is to rein aids. He’s still just a little fussy about the bit at this point, which we’ll revisit more on the lunge line. So we worked on the idea of whoaing from the seat, and moving away from the leg, and just thinking “forward”. So far I think he’s very much going to be a thoroughbred type of ride, which… thank god. That’s what I was hoping for. I much prefer a sensitive horse that has it’s own motor.

Even though he was a bit put off about having to leave his play time to come “work”, it was a good learning day for him. He sort of pouted his way through everything, but he acquiesced. It’s all part of him figuring out what his job is and developing his work ethic while the lessons are still short and simple and easy. I’m thinking of the rides more as opportunities for feedback, to see what we can still be working on from the ground in between.

We’ll see what we get done this week, if we can dodge the rain. For today, he’ll be getting some special birthday treats and probably a few more blubbery mom hugs. Poor Presto.

Review: Majyk Equipe Compression Ice Boots

I’ve been using these since December, but I was really waiting for some hotter weather to give a complete review. It’s easy to be an ice boot in the winter… it’s harder to be an ice boot when it’s hot.


They are the Mayk Equipe Cold Compression Ice Boots, and I got them from Riding Warehouse. I’ve been on the hunt for a good ice boot for years, and haven’t been particularly pleased with any of the ones I’ve had or tried in the past. Most just didn’t get that cold, or didn’t stay that cold. Using real ice on a regular basis is a bit of a logistical nightmare though, so the ease of an ice boot has always been really appealing. When I saw that Majyk Equipe came out with these, I really wanted to try them. They looked rugged and heavy duty, and I liked the added optional compression factor.


My first impression is that they were way heavier and more substantial than I expected. Most of my ice boots have been pretty light (bordering on flimsy, if I’m honest) and these had some real heft to them due to the substantial inner ice pack. They come in a carrying case to make them easier to transport, which is really helpful for toting them to lessons or schoolings or shows. The velcro is very heavy duty and secure, and the outer material (meant to reflect sunlight to keep the boots cooler) is extra rugged as well. I lovingly call these things the Space Boots, because they legit look like something NASA would make.  They’re also longer than other ice boots I’ve had, covering everything from the knee to the hoof, and you could position them slightly further up or down depending on your needs. This is a big perk for me with a horse that has a slightly lumpy right knee.


The ice pack liner, which covers the ENTIRE inside of the boot, is removeable if you’d like to just toss them in the freezer or ice chest to reduce space. You can also throw the whole ice boot in there if you want, a nice perk for those of us who are lazy. The liners are easy to velcro in and out though, if that’s your preference. They suggest to cool the liners/boots for 3-4 hours before use. The ice packs get quite cold, but still stay very flexible and easily mold around the leg.

a closer look at the gel liners

The real question though – do they work?

I’ve been using them on Henry after more intense conditioning days and harder jump schools. I just put the whole boot in the freezer, then after I ride I hose him off and slap the boots on for 20 minutes. Every time, without fail, his legs are cold when I take the boots off, and the boots are still quite icy themselves. No other ice boots I’ve tried have still been this cold by the time I’ve taken them off, and with most of them his legs weren’t particularly cold either.

still frosty after 20 minutes on Henry

I have used the compression feature a bit too. I do pump up the boots at least a little bit every time, because they are a one-size fits most (15h to 18h) and I think he needs a few pumps to help them stay snugly in place. I’ve gone a little further with the compression a few times too, adding more pressure – Majyk Equipe suggests 18-20 pumps for compression, but you can stick a finger in the top to check that you get the pressure just right for your horse. I don’t think you’re going to get a ton of compression from these, if that’s the feature you’re after, but the option to add some is nice. The hand pump is attached to the boot and stores in a little pocket on the outside, behind the knee. It’s easy to use and quite straightforward.  Pump up to add air, press the valve to release it.

Overall I’ve been really pleased with these. They definitely stay colder than any other ice boots I’ve tried, and I love the ease of being able to just throw the whole thing in the freezer. Definitely worth a closer look if you’re in the market for ice boots!

Ay, Corona

Boy does it feel like shit is starting to hit the fan with the coronavirus. SXSW here in Austin got cancelled, the Houston rodeo got cancelled, NBA is postponed, 30 day Europe travel ban, Road to the Horse postponed, talk of postponing the Olympics (or not), and uh oh, not Tom Hanks.

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While I am admittedly not super worried about the virus when it comes to my own health, I’m concerned about what a widespread pandemic could mean for the elderly and my immunocompromised friends, especially if our medical system were to become overwhelmed (ala Italy – which is a heartbreaking situation). The government’s response so far leaves a lot to be desired and the lack of readily available testing could prove especially problematic.

The potential economic impact is frightening too, for everyone, especially since we’re already seeing the trickle down in that department. My company makes equipment for the oil and gas industry, which was already struggling and will likely continue to struggle especially if people aren’t traveling. Some of our biggest customers have already changed their budgets in response. The potential overall trickle-down effect from this throughout many industries (except maybe toilet paper manufacturers…) is huge, and definitely a little scary. From the health side of things, there has been some company-wide discussion of possible work from home protocol if it gets to the point where that seems prudent. But since our particular group is hands-on, and it isn’t really possible to work from home, we would have to continue to come in.


On the equestrian-specific side of things, it’s starting to get reaaaaally interesting. What does the Europe travel ban mean for the World Cup, set to take place a month from now in Vegas (a city that already has confirmed cases)? Many events in Italy have already been cancelled, Saut Hermes in Paris was cancelled, and Longines in Hong Kong was cancelled. Land Rover says that as of right now they’re still a go, but in the end it may not be their decision to make, especially since Lexington already has the virus and has been cancelling “large gathering” events left and right. Even the Olympics is starting to look like it could be on shaky ground, and they’ve put forth a 2-year postponement as their back-up plan (and then backpedaled on that idea, so… who knows). That would really toss things up, especially considering WEG.

USEF has said that they’re “monitoring the situation” but for now I haven’t really heard of any regular horse shows or events being cancelled. Organizers do seem to have stocked up on hand sanitizer and are encouraging a lot of hand-washing and caution, but I assume at some point the liability may become too great if the situation doesn’t become more contained, and travel to bring in judges/staff may become quite difficult.  It kind of makes me glad I didn’t have any grandiose plans for the year.


It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how this continues to unfold, both in the short-term and long term, and what kind of effects we start to see within the equestrian industry. Even just totally putting the health aspect aside, the financial one could potentially be quite profound. The last recession had effects on the industry as people stopped spending money… not as many people buying horses, or property, or going to shows and events. Not to mention the impact that these big event cancellations has on local economies and a wide variety of businesses.

Have any of you started to see any first-hand impacts from the virus yet? Has it changed any of your plans for the short-term?

So far I think the worst part of all this is that someone showed me this stupid video and now I can’t get this song out of my head for the life of me. All the hand sanitizer and toilet paper in the world can’t get rid of it.

When mom gives you a mullet

The grass is green, the wildflowers are blooming, Cadbury mini-eggs are back on the shelves at HEB… spring has sprung for real in Texas, y’all.

And by spring I mean pre-summer.

it felt more humid than this

I am not ready for this shit again yet. And apparently neither is Henry, because I went out to get him yesterday afternoon to ride and he was like “I cannot, I am dying of heat stroke” so instead of riding we body clipped. The front half of him had shed out pretty well, but from his saddle area back was still fuzzy. He grows an insanely thick and coarse coat, and since I only clipped him once last fall, there was just too much hair left. Combine that with the fact that he doesn’t handle heat and humidity well anyway, and yeah… it needed to come off.

Of course I wasn’t planning to clip at all, so he was dirty and I didn’t really have time to bathe him and let him dry, nor did I have my supplies prepared. I went digging around in my clipper bag and came up with three different semi-dull blades – a 10 and a T-84 for my Andis and the medium on my Listers. Oh well, it didn’t have to look perfect.

it actually ended up looking decent though

Between the three blades I managed to get the job done (with some artful blending required) and 45 minutes later he seemed much less miserable. Granted, now I was the miserable one, with sweat rolling down into my eyeballs and horse hair stuck all over me.

this seems like a lot of hair considering he’s been shedding for 2 months

I hosed Henry (and myself) off, sprayed a little Unicorn Grooming Spray on his coat, turned him back out, and went to clean up my supplies.

At which point I found a new T-10 blade buried in the bottom of my clipper bag that I had totally forgotten about. Dammit. I struggled through 3 different dull blades for NO ACTUAL REASON.

Then I looked up and saw Presto standing at his gate, also looking hot. He’s been shedding, but not as fast as Henry.

You know where this is going.

mom no, dis is embarrassing 

I restrained myself from giving him a full clip, which I really wanted to do. His coat is longer but so much thinner and finer than Henry’s, so he’s really quick and easy and satisfying to clip. And although Henry is very well-behaved about clipping (as long as you don’t do his legs or ears) Presto is even better. Well ok he tries to eat the clippers when you do his head, but otherwise he just stands like a rock for all of it. Makes sense considering his first bodyclip was at 3 months of age (thanks rhodococcus meds).

I started with just the little strip on his chest/neck but then dear god his head looked even BIGGER, so I clipped the bottom half of his head too. The hair on his jaw was so long. Now he’s rocking what can only be described as a modified mullet… a little business in the front, but a whole lot of party in the back.

when you’re always the nerdy kid at school

It’s still possible that I might cave at some point and clip the rest of him, since it sounds oh-so-satisfying, but for now at least he’s a little cooler. Which is good, because it’s supposed to be even hotter today. Stop it Texas.

Who’s blog is this anyway?

Henry would like to remind everyone that this is his damn blog, as evidenced by the frickin title and the giant banner photo across the top (that the kid already tried to worm his way into). Not cool, bro. Not cool at all.

stink eye

He went to a show on Saturday and didn’t even get the Monday blog spot, which he finds incredibly offensive. I tried to explain the whole “landmark moments” thing to him with regards to Presto’s first ride but I don’t think he cares. Scratch that, he definitely doesn’t care.

Anyway, yes, Henry did go to a show on Saturday, another one of the small little schooling shows nearby. It’s 25 minutes gate to gate and under $50, which is hard to resist. Nothing has ever been that close to me. Ever. These schooling shows are super laid back and chill, so it’s really just an opportunity to get off the property and go jump a couple courses somewhere else.

Lately no one else has really entered anything above 2’6″, so it turns into more of a schooling than an actual show for me, which is totally fine. I’m not there to really show anyway, just to jump around outside of our home environment. The organizer Paulina is super nice and flexible, so once the smaller classes were done she put all the jumps up for me and I jumped my two rounds before she put everything back down for the people that wanted to school after the show was over. It’s like all the perks of a show but none of that whole stand-at-the-gate-forever-and-wait-for-everyone-to-go thing that I can’t stand. Plus if I didn’t like how I rode something, I can just go back and do it again.

Paulina even videoed one of the rounds for me, too, since she knows the importance of blog media (thank you!).


The ground was still a little bit slick from rain earlier in the week, so we kept things on the smaller side and I opted to ride to the quieter deeper distances. He’s not drilled and tapped at the moment, so no studs. He was very chill and rideable, and agreeable to my ideas (not always the case with him, because he’s a diva). After I warmed up I felt like I had a little too much whoa, so I asked Paulina to loosen my hackamore. This facility is getting pretty familiar to him by now, I have pretty much the same horse there as I do at home. I don’t need a lot of brakes.

We did the course for the timed 1st jumpoff, we did the course for the power and speed, I re-did an approach to an oxer that I hadn’t liked the first time, and then we were done. Easy peasy.

no idea why he gets mistaken for a QH

I want to start taking Presto to these shows, since they’re so close and easy and cheap. They have one pretty much every month except during the summer. I briefly entertained the idea of taking them both, but I don’t think I hate myself enough to do that alone. Henry has a way of stirring Presto up, as I’ve learned. 99.9% sure it’s on purpose, too.

Presto has been to a couple there before already, when he was a yearling, and I think they’d be good experience for him to continue doing now, especially once he’s broke enough to start riding around. Plenty to look at, but not super busy or overwhelming. It’s a nice first step before thrusting him into the hubbub of a bustling recognized event with hundreds of horses. Plus their classes start at literally poles on the ground and go up from there, so it’s great for green ones, and there’s a little xc course on site with ditches, banks, and water. It’s got Presto written all over it.

It’s pretty much that time again – horse show season is upon us. Anyone else got shows on the horizon?

The Riding Horse

We did a thing, guys.

Yesterday Hillary and Karen (how appropriate that a group of bloggers was involved, considering this horse was created and raised on a blog) came over to help me put a first “real” ride on Presto. Karen was the official photographer/videographer, and Hillary was my groundperson. Considering I’m not dead and also have extensive video (next month’s training vlog will have more!), they both performed their duties exceptionally well. 

I brushed Presto, tacked him up, and we headed out to the arena. I don’t have a round pen, and the only arena is the dressage arena with it’s low walls, so I opted to use a lunge line for the first ride. We went out, I lunged him both ways at the walk and trot for a couple minutes first to make sure the whoa worked, then I handed over the lunge line to Hillary and climbed aboard.

I haven’t actually swung a leg over him since that one and only time I sat on him last May, but he didn’t seem to care. We’ve continued the mounting block sessions in that time, so the idea of the human standing there or leaning weight over was well-established. I swung aboard and he was like “oh yeah, ok, we’ve done this before.”. Then we asked him to walk off and he was like “Whaaaaaat? I cannot possibly move with this giant lady on me omg how?”. With some encouragement we got him walking, and after a few wobbly steps he adjusted to carrying a human.

Hillary led us for a couple minutes as he got the idea, then we moved on to lunging on a circle at the walk. We tested the whoa (works exceptionally well), the go (much more difficult) and the steering (lol). After a few tries he got the basic idea of squeezing leg = go somewhere (where, who knows, just somewhere), so we took the lunge line off and went for our maiden solo voyage.

Not too bad for a first attempt. 

We wandered around for a while, stopping and going and attempting some steering, then we figured, well… might as well try trotting? So we put the lunge line back on, and with more encouragement and a lot of clucking, we got a couple trot circles each direction. 

baby’s first trotting screenshot

He tried to get a little “naughty” the second direction by snaking his head around (which was really just his attempt to stop, because whoa is his favorite) but we kept asking him to go forward through it. Definitely never any consideration of bucking or bolting or anything like that. His main motivation is clearly laziness. Next time we’ll use a lunge whip. I opted not to for this first ride because every once in a while it can make him a little over-enthusiastic, but clearly I don’t think we’re going to have any issue with whoa.

Despite the ground driving we’ve done he’s remained fussy about the bit and steering. The wolf teeth are out and the dental is up to date, so at this point he just has to get used to it. It’ll come with time. His attention span is also approximately 3 seconds long, he’d be concentrating on what we wanted and then look off into the bushes or trees or across the pasture and completely forget. Nothing reactionary about it, just gawking at things that are clearly far more interesting than we are. 

only Presto can look distracted and asleep at the same time
“someone send halp, I is being aboosed”

He is definitely very narrow at the moment, much like his mother was at this age. It feels good to sit on him though, and actually ride him a little. I definitely think a summer of trail riding and hacking will be just what he needs to help him figure out his legs and his balance and get a little stronger in his body. Hopefully I can get a handful of rides on him in the next couple months and get the forward/steering established enough to be ready for some summer adventures. 

And with that, Presto is officially a riding horse. For a first ride I think it went really well. He was a little confused but certainly never worried or upset at all, and I think he’ll learn quickly. He got an extra cookie last night, because the horses that get ridden (ok Henry, it’s always just Henry) get an extra cookie at night check as a thank you. He still seemed skeptical as I gave him his second cookie (and Henry was mad to witness this) but I’ll buy him over to my side sooner or later. The “working” life has it’s perks.

Many many thanks to Hillary and Karen for helping out and documenting the occasion. It takes a village! 

Review: Hylofit Heartrate Monitor & Tracker

You guys have heard me talk about Henry’s fitness on here a lot. Probably to the point of annoyance sometimes, because I do believe it’s really important for ANY horse, but especially for an event horse like mine who has a heat intolerance and some lung issues. Keeping him fit, and knowing exactly how fit he is, is absolutely vital to his health and well-being. And there’s no better way to measure that than via a heart rate monitor. Enter: Hylofit.

First of all – why is it so important to know and have some standard of measure for a horse’s cardiovascular fitness? For me personally:

  1. Safety. A tired horse is a horse that makes mistakes, and mistakes are dangerous. The last thing you want at the end of a cross country round is a horse that’s out of gas and struggling. Same goes for the rider – a tired rider becomes a passenger, and that can be just as dangerous. I love that the Hylofit also measures rider fitness in direct correlation.
  2. Performance. Aside from making dangerous mistakes, you can also make costly ones when a horse and rider are tired, particularly if you’re showjumping after cross country.
  3. Injury Prevention. Fatigue injuries are a very real thing. On the flip side, you also don’t want to be getting a horse so over-fit that you beat up their legs unnecessarily in the day-to-day work and end up with an overuse lameness.
  4. Recovery. You want a horse that recovers quickly, not one that is absolutely knackered for hours or even days after an event. If they are, you haven’t prepared them adequately. You could even argue that as a horsemanship/welfare issue, in my eyes. Being able to easily measure how fast a horse’s heart rate is recovering can help you evaluate whether or not they’re prepared for what you’re asking.

So if your goal is a fit, safe, sound, happy, well-performing athlete, it makes sense to have some kind of method by which to measure and track your progress. Equine heart rate monitors have come a really long way, especially in the past couple years, and Hylofit is one of the leading brands, I think for good reason. It measures the horse’s heart rate, the rider’s heart rate, is simple and easy to use, gives speed data, zone data, mapping, and even weather information like temperature and humidity. You can even overlay video to see exactly what you were doing when the heart rate went up and down (Doug Payne has some really cool integrated videos that are pretty neat to watch).

This was especially helpful to me over this winter as I’ve been bringing Henry back to regular fitness. If you don’t know where you’re starting from, and it’s not measurable and quantifiable, how do you really know where to go? For instance, these metrics below, from one of his first rides back, are from some shorter trot sets. It was super helpful to give me an indicator of where he was at with his base fitness just coming back from his bad foot bruise, and give me some direction so that I could plan out his program to start ramping back up to peak over the following months.

I was admittedly a little bit wary of relying on a heart rate monitor at first. My experiences with them in the past had been a little bit hit or miss as far as accuracy, reliability, and ease of use, but the Hylofit has been a much more positive experience. The only time I’ve had inaccurate readings was that one time I forgot to tighten my girth… because the electrodes sit underneath the girth, it needs to be held snug against the horse to get accurate readings. Since my horse was a little bit hairy this winter, I’ve also been opting to use an electrode gel just to make sure it’s getting optimal contact. I already had some from my Microsense unit, but you can also pick some up for $3 on amazon if you wanted to use it. You don’t need the gel, you can also just wet the electrodes instead, but I figured I’d use it just to make sure I’m getting the best possible readings through the longer winter coat. If you use the gel just make sure you clean it off after every ride to avoid any buildup interfering with readings.

sleek and flat and unobtrusive

The Hylofit comes with some additional velcro straps to help stabilize it to your girth, if need be, but mine sits perfectly and has never shifted, so I haven’t had to use anything other than the main strap. The shape is very simple and flat, so Henry doesn’t even seem to notice it under the girth and since it sits in front of my leg I’ve never felt it either. The human heart rate monitor fastens around your rib cage, under your bra line, and stays in place without being annoying or uncomfortable. Being able to see my own cardio data has been really interesting, especially when it’s in comparison with Henry’s. If my own fitness is lacking, I need to know that too.

My favorite thing about the Hylofit though, especially compared to other systems I’ve used, is that it’s easy and simple. Hylofit has detailed set-up instructions on their website, as well as a video tutorial. It wasn’t much of a learning curve to figure out how to use it, and the app is very user-friendly and easy to navigate, with all the data displayed for quick and easy interpretation. It’s all saved by date and the type of ride it was, so it’s fantastic to be able to quickly and easily look back over past rides and see how you’re trending – again, it helps you plan your program. The zone training feature also, IMO, makes the whole thing much more simple and easy to understand for people that may be new to using and measuring heart rate data.

I also really like that you can see the data in real time. The transmitters talk to your phone via Bluetooth (and can also display on your Apple watch, if you have one) so I can always pull my phone out on a walk break and see the results of the last set or if he’s recovering in a timely manner. If I had an Apple watch I could look down at any given time and see the data… legit the only time I’ve ever found myself wanting one of those. Still, even with just my phone it gives me the ability to tweak the ride as it’s happening, rather than just seeing all the data afterwards.

I haven’t been able to play with the video merge feature yet, as I almost always ride alone, but I’ve been using the monitor itself for over 3 months and have found it super helpful even just from a pure data perspective. I also really like that you can share your data with others, like your trainer, so if you’re a little bit unsure of what it all means, you can quickly and easily get some input. I would have LOVED to have had this thing back when I was prepping Henry for our Classic 3 Day. It kind of makes me want to do another one…

headed into the vet box at Coconino!

At $250 for the full system (rider monitor and chest strap, horse monitor and girth strap, and the app) which is on the lower end for a complete system like this. The real value for me is in the design (so unobtrusive), the app (way better than others I’ve seen/used), and the “support” (it’s an American company run by fellow equestrians, so there are no language barriers, lingo issues, or time zone problems if you have questions). There’s a lot of good information on their website and useful tutorials, videos, photos, and Q&A’s on their Instagram as well. You can buy the complete kit or also just the horse or human systems separately in the Hylofit store – use code 900PONY20 for 20% off! It’s also carried at some other retailers too (like Riding Warehouse), for those of you who might have a gift card burning a hole in your pocket or if you have a favorite shop that you like to frequent.

If you want more information on measuring heart rate and using heart rate data, there are some good articles here:

Why Training with Heart Rate Matters

Peak Fitness

Training Smarter

I also very highly recommend listening to the new Equiratings podcast series “The Hold Box” – there is some FANTASTIC data and information in there about using heart rate and how it relates to overall fitness, and why all of this is important for the sporthorse.


I think it’s safe to say that horse people tend to be a bit of a superstitious bunch. At the very least most of us tend to at least be believers in luck, or karma. 

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I had never really realized just how prevalent this was until I started listening to the Major League Eventing podcast, and they always ask each interviewee if they have any good luck charms, rituals, or superstitions. Damn, I had no idea how many people are having to put their left boot on first at shows. This was a new one to me, yet so many people have said it. Where does that even come from?

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There are other seemingly common things too, like lucky socks/underwear, a lucky whip, not wearing anything new at a show, having to listen to a certain song, put things on in a certain order, or folks who insist on having an even number of braids. And of course we’ve all heard that it’s unlucky to change a horse’s name, or the old

One white foot, buy him.

Two white feet, try him.

Three white feet, be on the sly.

Four white feet, pass him by.

While I don’t believe that one at all, and I am not into such level of detail as which boot I put on first (lets just be glad I remembered to put them on at all, and that they’re hopefully on the right feet), I do have a few little things that I admit to doing.

a correctly placed horseshoe

Big confession – an upside-down horse shoe (heel pointing down) bothers me juuuuuust enough to where I compulsively have to turn them all right side up. The saying is that if they’re upside down, all the luck will fall out. Granted, there is also another saying that if it’s the other way, all the luck in the shoe falls out onto the owner. I dunno about y’all but I want my horses and barn to keep all the luck, and for some reason that dumb thing I heard as a kid has wormed it’s way deep into my psyche to where I will absolutely flip a shoe the other way if I see it. I can’t even help it now. 

best socks ever created

I also definitely do have lucky socks, at least for cross country. I used to get a new pair every year, themed juuuuust the right way (like my “carpe the fuck out of this diem” socks or my “thou hast balls” socks), but for the past few years I’ve been wearing my Henry XC face socks. Those are pretty great, albeit looking pretty worn by now. I’ve already thought about the fact that I’ll have to get new lucky socks for showing Presto, because he needs his own special magic, and yes I am aware of the fact that this makes me a lunatic. 

I don’t have lucky socks for lessons or the other two phases, but I definitely will avoid socks that I think might have the wrong juju. For example, my “ringmaster of the shitshow” socks… they have never, and will never, be worn to a lesson or a horse show, lest they prove to be true (we will ignore the fact that a shitshow has occurred on more than one occasion even without the socks being involved). 

Image result for bad juju gif

I also don’t like to use anything new at a show, and if I do find myself in that position, I will touch said item to the ground. Like… new whip? It’s gotta touch the ground first. New gloves, same. New anything. This makes no logical sense except in my own mind, but I know I’m not the only one that does this. And the one time I forgot to do it, I fell off, which clearly just confirmed my psychosis. It’s like if the item has already touched the ground once, it won’t be in such a hurry to get back there again? I don’t know, I can’t explain it because it’s not logical. I know it’s not logical, but I can’t stop myself from performing the act anyway. Because, ya know… 

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I’ve definitely got a little bit of the crazy in me. I feel like horses do that to most of us, sooner or later. I know the things I do are ridiculous and really do nothing but make me feel like I have some extra measure control over a situation’s outcome, but just on that .000001% chance… I gotta try. I also do a lot of knocking on wood. Because horses have beaten down my soul. If luck is a thing, I will take what I can get.

What about y’all… any superstitions or rituals either at shows or at home that you find yourself doing, or “lucky” pieces of equipment/clothing? Please tell me I’m not the only one. 

Captain Unimpresto

It has become a little bit of a game to see what kind of new stuff I can come up with to entertain Presto. Ok maybe it’s me, maybe I’m just entertaining me. But I swear I do have actual reasons for doing all these weird things to him, which I’ll talk about more in depth on his next vlog. I’m not just a crazy person.

This past Saturday, he met a tarp for the first time. 

Yeah, he was just as terrified as he looks.

We started with it folded up on the ground, which he just pawed into oblivion, and then I opened it up to full size on the ground, which he again just pawed into oblivion until he was standing on a wadded up ball of tarp. Well ok then, lets up the ante.

Over his back it went, first folded up small, and then unfolded to full size. No reaction. I flopped it, I flapped it, I waved it around in the air behind him… yeah nah, that’s just a boring tarp, ma. Ok fine then. I fashioned him a cape (securing it in front with a hair band, so I could quickly yank the whole thing off if needed) and sent him out to walk and trot around me.

And that’s how Presto became Captain Unimpresto, the superhero. He just needs a mask or something spandex to complete his outfit. 

I then completely ruined his newfound awesome alter ego by cruelly forcing him to stand tied up at the barn the entire time Henry got new shoes put on, even though he’d already gotten his trim. I might be first on his list for vigilante justice.


It was good for him in lots of ways… having to stand there for a long time, watching Henry get hot shod (“um.. bro… did you know you is on fire?”) and the farrier’s kids had tagged along and were running around so he kind of got a glimpse into his own level of chaos, just in tiny human form. Presto was mostly just irritated and stood there glaring at me most of the time. Clearly I was ruining his Saturday, he could be out like, fighting crime or something.

Henry jumped on Saturday (which was kind of a mess on my part – remember how I said my eye was coming back? HAHAHAHAHAHA I cursed myself.) so on Sunday I opted for an easy tackless ride in the field. It’s been a while since I rode him in just his neck rope. His brakes and lateral work are pretty good off of just leg and seat, but the steering leaves a little bit to be desired sometimes, especially out in the open like that. And I don’t think it’s because he doesn’t know what I’m asking, because he most certainly does, I think it’s because he’s got a demonic Thelwell living in part of his brain and he just can’t resist being at least a little contrary when given such an easy opportunity. 

when we agree on the direction of travel
that moment when the demon Thelwell starts to take over and my planned15m circle will quickly devolve into a 25m rhombus

My legs and core were definitely feeling it the next day. I can’t wait for my bareback pad to come in so I can get at least one solid bareback ride in every week, it’s nice to have bareback work back as a semi-regular part of the repertoire, I find it really helpful. 

What were you guys up to last weekend? Anyone else raising a baby superhero? Maybe we can start a support group.