Bonus Bebe: Pheodora WTW

That was a big and busy weekend. Presto of course did his first event, and I have a lot to share about that (guys, we officially have ourselves an event horse!) but I also need more time to put together that recap, so for today you get the other big news that definitely cannot wait until Foal Friday: Stormie had her baby – Ollie has a sister! And omg, she was worth the wait. Say hello to Pheodora WTW aka Teddy.

if you didn’t squee then GTFO

We’re pretty sure she’s grulla (and the friend who has been breeding grullas for 30+ years says she’s a classic grulla foal), but hair is being sent off to test to make sure. She’s definitely got dun factor, that much is certain, and NO GRAY GENE!!!! Michelle actually got what she asked for, what are the odds? Well ok,12.5% was the odds for grulla with no gray and then half that for it being a filly and her odds for grulla filly were 6.25%… time to buy a lottery ticket? Maybe this makes up for both of Chanel’s foals being colts.

classic duh stripe through her tail
dun leg bars

I think she hit the absolute jackpot with this one. Teddy is very sweet and cuddly and basically wants to just sit in your lap and be petted. She’s very into people, for sure, so there are a lot of nose pics. Which is fine, because it’s a really friggin cute nose.

I’m pretty sure Michelle has met her soulmate in baby horse form and safe to say she may possibly have a favorite of the 2021 crop. Stormie really outdid herself on this one, and gave her some perfect markings to boot.

When Teddy’s not being cuddly she’s pretty darn spunky, so I think she’ll be happy to get out into a bigger turnout this week so she can fully master her legs and her speed. Time will tell if she’s quite as spunky or mischievous as Ollie was.

It’s fun to see another Usandro foal on US soil, too – I think this is his 4th now? His offspring in France continue to do really well so I think we’re all eagerly waiting on these guys to start to grow up and hit the show ring. Of course, Teddy won’t be for sale, she’ll be retained for the breeding program, but hopefully we’ll be able to get her paired up with a rider so she can compete too. So far she looks to have the best qualities from both parents so I think she might end up being a pretty fancy little sportpony.

Still waiting on Ginger (who has looked ready to foal for like a week now) plus Obi is getting ready to join Peyton and Patrick in their field, so we’ll see what else we’ve got to share by Friday. For now, hopefully this gets your week started off right!

Foal Friday: Padawan WTW

Alright, I teased this kiddo to you guys last week but it’s time for his official introduction! Michelle was really excited when Chanel started shaping up like she was going to foal on May 4th. Star Wars day is fun after all (I mean I’m not into Star Wars but most people are and they say it’s fun so let’s go with that) and she was ready to go with the perfect P name: Padawan. But then Chanel foaled on May 3rd and kinda… put a bit of a wrench in that plan. I reasoned that she must still be on European time, therefore she thought it was the 4th, so it still counts. Close enough, anyway? By that point Michelle already loved the name Padawan, so… too late to be undone. The barn name options were between Obi and Jedi – she tried out both for a few days to see which one fit more. Obi it is!

you just died from an overdose of cute, didn’t you?

He’s bay, like his full brother Patrick, but unlike our beloved Patticakes, Obi won’t gray out. He’ll stay bay, and he’s got 3 white feet and a big nice blaze as icing on the cake. Right off the bat I think he looks a little beefier than Patrick, but we’ll see what he looks like in another week or so. The game of comparing and contrasting the two brothers has already begun.

Michelle was a little bummed I think to get another colt (she really wanted a filly so she could retain it for her breeding program – we don’t keep colts, they’re all for sale automatically) but he sure is a super cute little thing. Fancy and nicely put together and pretty full of himself. He does have the whole “really really ridiculously good looking” thing in common with Patrick.

it’s like physically painful how cute he is

If those boys keep posing like that all the time these Foal Friday posts are gonna get really long really fast. Who can narrow down which photos to post when they’re THAT cute?

Aside from just standing there looking ri-damn-diculously adorable, he has a lot of things that he already really likes to do. While Patrick is more of a bouncing kind of guy, Obi leans more Pippa’s direction and is a big fan of galloping. A lot. All over the place.


He also was very quick to figure out the pole in his turnout, and showed a lot of intelligence in how he approached it. He popped over it a few times slowly, figuring out his feet, then gradually amped up the speed, the repetitions, and the angles. A lot of foals are either a little hesitant of it for a while, a little overly careful, or so bold that they just go at it 100 miles an hour without putting much thought behind it. Obi, not so much. He’s a thinker, this kid. And a couple times when he got the distance wrong he went right back and did something a little different the next time to fix it. Pretty cool to see from a week old foal, the instincts are fun to see on display.

trotting it
cantering it back
adding some speed and angles

He’s clever. Really clever.

And while he wasn’t bred to event, apparently he’d like to audition for the part, because he also conquered the “water” (ok fine, the puddle) straight away. He trotted up to it, took a little peek to make sure it was safe, and then marched right on in.

Imma go get that puddle!

He’s an interesting mix of intelligence, carefulness, and bravery. At least initially. It’ll be neat to see how he evolves over time, especially once he’s introduced to the other foals and goes into a herd dynamic. Hopefully next week they’ll all be able to meet, which I’m sure Chanel will be really happy about. Obi is currently torturing her in any number of ways, like she’s his own personal jungle gym.

he does NOT easily fit under her at all but that doesn’t stop him from hunching down and barging through

I’m especially interested to see how things unfold between him and Pippa. He’s a more dominant, in-your-face personality than Patrick, and he’s pretty big for his britches at the moment. I mean, my money is DEFINITELY on Pippa,… he might be in for a bit of a shock to find out that others won’t tolerate his nonsense quite as graciously as Chanel.

his snoot is ridiculously boopable though

We did have one new addition overnight – Stormie had a filly! It’s too dark to get pics so y’all have to wait til next week. Ginger will be soon to follow I think, she’s 334 days and has some actual white milk that looks pretty close to ready. Hopefully by this time next week we’ll have two new faces!

Presto’s March/April Training Vlog (and Q&A!)

I was trying to wait to post this video until after the US Event Horse Futurity page shared it, but I also wanted to try something a little different with this one and today is the last day for me to really be able to make that happen. So, y’all get a little advance screening I guess!

Since this is the first Futurity vlog video with Megan doing the talking/training I thought it might be kind of fun to open up a little Q&A opportunity. Part of the goal of the Futurity is spotlighting the young horse trainers and offering an educational opportunity to the public, so it seems on par with their mission. Basically how it’ll work is you guys can submit questions you want to ask her (either about the video, or Presto, or general horse training, young horses, riding… anything you want) and I’ll get answers for you and then write them all up in a post. Hopefully that sounds fun to anyone besides me? I feel like you guys will probably come up with some pretty good questions. Feel free to either drop them in a comment, or you can DM them to me on Insta or message me on facebook. I’ll collect them all, get answers this weekend, and then get it all posted next week!

If y’all like this idea we can do it after every Futurity vlog with Megan (the next one would be July), so let me know what you think!

14 and 7

May 12 is a pretty significant day around here. First and foremost, it’s Sadie’s birthday. I have a very hard time wrapping my head around the fact that she’s 14 today. How? Where does time go? I still vividly remember little bebe foal Sadie, which manages to simultaneously feel like a lifetime ago yet only yesterday. Aging is bizarre.

we were both tiny back then

She’s worn a lot of different hats in her 14 years. She hit the trail early, going on all kinds of off road adventures as a 3 year old.

She learned about obstacle courses with a cowboy

She did the hunters

And then she switched over to the jumpers

And she even tried her hoof at cross country once

she was pretty bold, I should have taken this as a hint

Before she went off to do her favorite job: making babies.

And, most importantly, making my favorite baby, who I adore beyond words. Sadie has had a big impact on my life since before she was even born and I’ve been lucky to be involved in her life in some capacity since day 1. She’s a boss mare with a lot of opinions, but she’s the best girl in every way that counts, always has been and always will be. Happy 14th, big mama, my original OG homebred!

The other thing born on May 12 was this blog. Somehow it’s been 7 years of this nonsense.

Lauren made me do it, and I have to say I think I actually did a good job of sticking with it. It certainly morphed into something I never intended or imagined, and I feel like it’s gone through a few different lifecycles along the way. I do still have every intention of rebranding and changing the name, I just haven’t actually done it yet. Maybe once summer hits and it’s too hot to do anything else. Either way… gosh. Seven years of at or near 5 posts a week. That’s a lot. Some of y’all have been reading since the very beginning, which is really the part that deserves a medal. Even I don’t know what I’m rambling on about sometimes.

Dance Marathon Kids GIF by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals
here ya go

Happy May 12th!

Through the Shrubbery

Am I the only one who can’t see the word shrubbery without their brain immediately going to Monty Pyton and the Holy Grail? Just wondering.

Shrubbery GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

This post has absolutely nothing to do with that but I figured I’d just start with a tangent and get it out of the way early. Anyway, moving on.

The social media drama this week (aside from Bob Baffert’s drugged Derby winner, which I am not touching with a 10′ pole taped to another 10′ pole, Imma just sit over here and sip my metaphorical tea while that shit goes down, thanks) is Doug Payne’s DR penalty at Jersey Fresh. If you haven’t seen it, he talked about it on his facebook page and then the COTH forum picked it up and started a discussion.

Long story short, Doug made a creative route through some roped off galloping lanes (Doug takes “creative” routes a lot, just in very recent history you may remember him cutting through a bunch of landscaping at Tryon or jumping over a bush to tighten a turn at Kentucky) a few times on course and got handed a Dangerous Riding penalty. The debate is whether or not said penalty was warranted or fair.

To start with, let’s look at the current FEI rule for what constitutes Dangerous Riding.

525 Dangerous Riding
525.1 Definition
Any Athlete who, at any time during the Competition deliberately or unintentionally by
incompetence is exposing himself, his Horse or any third party to a higher risk than what is
strictly inherent to the nature of the Competition will be considered to have acted dangerously
and will be penalised accordingly to the severity of the infringement.
Such acts may include without limitation any of the following:
a) Riding out of control (Horse clearly not responding to the Athletes restraining or driving
b) Riding fences too fast or too slow.
c) Repeatedly standing off fences too far (pushing the Horse to the foot of the fence, firing
the Horse to the fence).
d) Repeatedly being ahead or behind the Horse movement when jumping.
e) Series of dangerous jumps.
f) Severe lack of responsiveness from the Horse or the Athlete.
g) Continuing after three clear refusals, a fall, or any form of elimination
h) Endangering the public in any way (e.g. jumping out of the roped track).
i) Jumping obstacles not part of the course.
j) Willful obstruction of an overtaking Athlete and/or not following the instructions of the
Officials causing danger to another Athlete.
k) Pressing a tired Horse

Exactly what scenario incurs this penalty and exactly how the reprimand goes down (warning, penalty points, yellow card, etc) is generally up to the discretion of the officials on site. Note that while many possible scenarios are listed outright in the rule, it also says “acts may include without limitation” – leaving it open ended for officials to apply this rule to any variety of scenarios that they feel may constitute a dangerous situation.

So, back to Doug. He posted some helmet camera footage of one of the times he left the specified roped off galloping lane to take a short cut through another area. According to people on site, he did it elsewher too, but we only see this one time so let’s just go with this one. He says himself that he planned this well in advance and even discussed it with the TD in advance, who warned him that if he did this he would be doing so at his own risk and could possibly open himself up for a penalty if they felt he endangered people, vehicles, equipment, himself, the horse, etc. As I mentioned above, he has a history of taking “shortcuts” through and/or around things that the course designer really didn’t intend. Whether that’s clever or dangerous probably depends on the situation and your own interpretation. Either way, the officials on site that day chose to issue Doug a DR penalty and penalty points when he finished his XC round.

To complicate things, someone else that day also got a DR (for riding through a pedestrian crossing), but instead of an actual penalty they got a warning. I have no idea if that person’s shortcut was intentional or accidental or what other factors may have been at play in that particular decision.

While jumping the ropes is clearly outlined in the DR penalty rule, it doesn’t really say anything about taking paths around openly roped galloping lanes or cutting through gaps at non-roped areas. Of course, I think it’s also safe to say that once you leave the track the course designer intended your horse to take, you’re quickly into a gray area. Will your path be clear of people, equipment, ropes, etc? Once you leave the specified track, who knows.

So the question is – did he deserve the DR penalties? Was it a fair application of the rule? What he did is not specified anywhere in the rule as constituting a DR. BUT, as previously mentioned, the wording of the rule allows leeway for other situations that have not been specifically listed. We can see from Doug’s video that other than passing sort of close to a photographer, he didn’t seem to come across any issues with the particular shortcut on that video. Not that time, anyway. I think that may be the reasoning though. If you make this kind of thing a standard practice, going in and out of roped off areas, crossing landscaping, jumping over decorations, etc, at some point it’s probably not going to end well. I have a feeling that intention (there was definitely nothing accidental in this case) and the repetition of the behavior may have had an impact on the official’s decision here. Of course, I’m definitely not an official so that’s purely speculation.

What are your thoughts? Do you think a creative route should be ok on cross country as long as nothing bad happens? Or should riders not try to take the risk of trying to “outwit” the course design/roped off paths? I love a good rule debate!

It can’t always be rainbows and dinosaurs

I was kind of excited to take Henry to the little jumper show this past weekend since we haven’t been out anywhere in forever. Then they posted the schedule, and womp womp, our division wouldn’t go until after 5pm, which didn’t work for me. Very happy for the show that there were so many entrants, but sad for me that I had to scratch. Eventually we’ll make it off property and do something fun. Maybe. Henry doesn’t seem to mind.

do I get bonus points for my hair matching my helmet, breeches, gloves, and saddle pad? #navyforever

My jump field is in need of a mow (that 6″ of rain made the grass quadruple in height overnight and there’s more rain on the way) so I can’t do too much out there right now, but I did set up a couple fences in the arena and hop back and forth over them on Sunday. I thought I would be clever and bring my little blue wannabe liverpool down to give Henry something different to see (I keep my jumps at home quite basic normally since he’s a fairly careless jumper… the fill and new “spooky” jumps at shows tend to work in my favor and perk him up a bit. Don’t want him to get too used to seeing that stuff at home all the time!). He spotted it from a mile away while we were walking into the ring and proceeded to turn into a snorting spooking dragon in a way that was kind of embarrassing for him as a Prelim horse who has jumped many a friggin liverpool in his day. It took me a while to convince him to just trot past it while we were warming up (I wish I’d turned my Pivo on for warmup, it was quite entertaining for those first few minutes) and he kept giving it major stink eye every time I went past it. Naturally though as soon as I pointed him at it and asked him to actually jump over it, he was like “oh yeah I know these, they’re boring, I was never worried jk”.


He’s always like that. He will spook sideways just having to canter past a Starter fence but then pop right over some hideous I/P weldon’s wall like it’s the most basic of crossrails. Passing jumps is scary, jumping them is fine. I don’t follow his logic, but ok I’m not complaining, that’s a lot better than the other way around. We didn’t jump a whole lot since it was humid and gross AF but he seemed to enjoy himself anyway. We’ll see how many rides I can fit in this week in between the rain before I go up to Texas Rose on Friday for Presto’s show.

send halp

Speaking of Presto, he’s basically a patience pole champion these days, having spent a lot of time there over the past couple weeks. He learned that pawing your anger out isn’t the right answer, and dancing in circles doesn’t get you anywhere. I mean, those lessons have been repeated to him throughout his entire life but I’m sure no one is surprised that regular refreshers are needed. Patience is NOT his strong suit, and he likes to express his emotions with his feet. This week the lessons are being transferred into the trailer, and then on Friday he heads over to the show. Hopefully he decides to haul quietly this time.

Which, turns out the venue double booked this weekend – a dressage show and a horse trial, which should be… um… interesting. A week after closing date they changed the schedule in the omnibus (without even sending an email to competitors or anything) moving the Training/Prelim/Intermediate dressage to Friday afternoon. People are not happy about the very late and not at all well-communicated change, and I don’t blame them. There are major clusterfuck vibes already happening.

Presto of course is in OBN, so his schedule isn’t really effected much, except usually they run dressage and XC Saturday and then showjump Sunday morning, but this new schedule has him with dressage and SJ on Saturday and then XC Sunday morning. Should be fine. I can’t quite wrap my brain around the complete chaos of a dressage show and a horse trial happening at the same time (what the actual…) but, um, I guess we’ll just deal with it?

My other main objective for this past weekend was finishing his next Futurity vlog, which is the first one about his actual training this spring. I put all the video clips together, sent it to Megan, she recorded the voice over, I stitched it all together, and voila… done. It’s way easier when someone else is doing the talking. I mean, it still takes me 9000 years to make the video but it went a lot faster than the previous ones. It’s been submitted so hopefully they’ll be posting it soon, keep an eye on their facebook page. This next round of vlogs isn’t actually due until the end of this week but since they already have mine they might post it early. It’s always fun hearing the rider/trainer’s thoughts instead of mine, so hopefully y’all like this one!

In between all that I came perilously close to pre-ordering a dinosaur fly sheet for Presto. Does he need one? No. But does he neeeeed one? Clearly. I mean… dinosaurs. Duh.

I’m trying to behave myself though because I have a feeling his summer adventures will be expensive, and while he got good use of his fly sheet in Florida, we don’t really use them much here. That and the UK shipping is not cheap, so… I’ve talked myself out of it. For now anyway.

I’ll be honest though, I freakin’ hate Mother’s Day, and was feeling particularly dumpy yesterday (the BO gave me cake though, that helped. Cake always helps. Write that down.) so I did buy myself one little thing I’ve had my eye on to help cheer myself up.

I have two spike browbands already – a brown one with gunmetal spikes and a black one with gunmetal spikes. They live on Presto’s bridles, but I do sometimes borrow the brown one for Henry’s XC bridle. The Bling Bay has lots of different color spikes on offer though, their prices are super reasonable, and ya know which of my bridles doesn’t have it’s own pretty browband? Henry’s La Cense bitless that he wears pretty much every day. That’s a travesty, right? It needs some pizazz. It’s still wearing the plain flat boring browband it came with.

I waffled a bit between the darker blue spikes and the rainbow #2 spikes, but in the end I just had to do the rainbow ones. It’ll bring me joy on a day to day basis I think. How could it not? It’s supposed to ship today and they’re based here locally so hopefully I’ll have it within the next couple days.

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Foal Friday: When Pippa met Patrick

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! The first two babies are now officially co-habitating, and their introduction to each other was every bit as entertaining as I had imagined.

Sometimes mares and foals are a little slow to integrate at first. The mares can be a little overprotective, and the foals can be a bit shy. I kind of had a feeling that wouldn’t really be the case with these two though (at least not Pippa) and it definitely wasn’t. They spotted each other right off the bat and were very much interested right from the start.

It took almost no time at all for Pippa’s curiosity and boldness to get the better of her, and unsurprisingly it was her who made the first move and initiated first contact. She left her dam and marched up to get a closer look at Patrick.

At first Lark wasn’t too sure about this little hellion trying to corrupt her sweet little Patrick. You can pretty much hear her yelling “PEYTON! Come get your little demon kid!” and Peyton yelling back “I GAVE UP ON HER A LONG TIME AGO, DEAL WITH IT!”. Which is true, Peyton cannot control Pippa whatsoever and has mostly given up trying. She’s a helicopter mom no more, but not by her own choice, by Pippa’s.

when you know the local riff-raff is gonna be a bad influence on your kid but there’s nothing you can do to stop it

With no assistance from Peyton it didn’t take Lark very long to give up either, and ta-da, just like that… Pippa and Patrick had their first nose touch!

Which, true to form, Pippa quickly turned into their first gallop. I’m not sure how much of a willing participant Patrick really was, but he, uh… humored her.


Pippa, having such a high % thoroughbred and bred to event, really loves to gallop. It’s her jam. Patrick on the other hand, bred to jump the big sticks, is more of a bouncing kind of guy. He’s like a little rubber ball all the time, and given the choice, that’s definitely his favorite activity.

vertical bounce
lateral bounce

He tried to get Pippa to try out some bouncing instead of just galloping laps all the time, but I think it backfired on him a little bit.

See Pips, you just start like dis…
You mean like this?
How about THIS?

Poor Patticakes. He learned a lot about fillies this week. Mostly that they’re scary and cannot be trusted.

they sneak up out of nowhere
pretend like they just stopped by to say Hi
and then BOOM she tries to nom your face WHAT DA HECK

I mean, I think we all felt a little sorry for Patrick in advance with this one. Pippa is an absolute spitfire, scared of nothing and no one, and very much likes to have things her way. Patrick is pretty bold and smart too, but there’s just no match for a filly like Pippa. She runs that pasture, for sure. Her way is THE way.

That’s not to say that Patrick was a total shrinking violet or a pushover either, though. He held his own at least some of the time and definitely isn’t scared of Pippa despite the fact that she can be… a lot.

maybe he’s a glutton for punishment
he learned what “The Danger Zone” is

Ok maybe he’s a teeny bit scared of her though. Honestly that’s for the best. Safe choice.

When he gets too tired of playing Gallop (ok being chased, Pippa flat out chases him for entertainment) he pretty wisely retreats back to Lark. Pippa is bold but she’s not stupid, and she knows better than to try to cause too much trouble right there while Lark is within reach. Lark is his safe zone when he needs a time out.

back to home base

Really for the most part they seem pretty well-matched. Pippa is the clear boss, for sure, which… I think she’s going to be the boss of this whole crop. Maybe Ollie’s full sibling could give her a run for her money when it comes to sheer chaos and anarchy, but I don’t think it’s possible to out-alpha Pippa. She’s a born boss mare and she isn’t shy about making that clear. Patrick seems to like her though, and they’re having a lot of fun chasing each other around and playing.

Most of all it’s really fun to see babies out there playing together again, and I’m more than ready to keep adding more to the baby herd. Just wait til there’s 6!


Another week, another big dramafest on horsey social media. We’re on a roll lately.

MRW the phone rings at work - GIF on Imgur

This time it was Dani Waldman née Goldstein (either revered or loathed for her trademark feathery hairstyle, which caused a lot of drama in and of itself for various reasons that I’m so tired of hearing about) when she casually mentioned in a comment that her horses never get turned out. The backlash was quick and furious, leading her to make a longer “statement”:

Hi guys! Wow…I certainly and inadvertently sparked a controversial topic today…first off, I love my horses, often more than I love myself! Secondly, no one is going to win this battle as we simply cannot ask the horses their opinion. Thirdly, cyber-hate only encourages us to stop listening to each other—and that doesn’t do anyone any good…(and telling me to be ashamed of myself is downright heartbreaking). Lastly, this is clearly a very debated topic…whether the risk of physical injury outweighs the risk of mental health for our wonderful animals. My decision to limit their uncontrolled movement is a strategic choice, made in consultation with my entire team of vets, farriers, chiropractors, nutritionists, and my own 20+ years of personal experience in the field. I will say, unequivocally, that an injured horse’s mental health suffers far more than one that isn’t turned out, and since our sport is inherently dangerous, limiting any unnecessary movement that could result in injury is paramount in my program. I will soon post a day in the life of my horses at home so you can see an in depth look at the great detail and attention that goes into caring for my horses, including the 3-5 times per day that they are outside of their box hand grazing or moving around for hours at a time!

I have to be honest, I think what surprised me most about this whole thing was that anyone was actually surprised by this at all. Regardless of how you feel about it, it really isn’t that uncommon for a lot of top dressage, hunter, and showjumping horses to get no turnout (or maybe an hour a day in a very small paddock). Especially in Europe. Maybe a lot of people didn’t know that?

Now, is that my ideal? No. I like for my horses to have lots of turnout. Granted, I have that luxury. We have big pastures and plenty of space. Other people aren’t so lucky. I know a lot of horses on the west coast that don’t get much if any turnout, and certainly not in a very large space. The same is true in many places in Europe or other areas where land is at a premium. I totally understand that not everyone keeps horses the same way I do, or has access to the same things, or thinks the same way, or has the same experiences. There are lots of different methods, lots of different types of horses, and people seem to make it work.

Presto’s QH friends think he’s batshit and they are 100% correct

I think in everyone’s ideal world horses would live outside 24/7 in a herd that they love and all would be sunshine and rainbows and happiness. This works for a lot of horses in a lot of places, but it doesn’t work for all of them or every climate or every place. I think we can all agree with that much at least. There is no such thing as “never” or “always” with horses. Generally as long as someone’s horse is happy and healthy, I really don’t have the desire to make it my business how their horse is cared for on a daily basis. There are many roads to Rome and not everyone’s looks the same as mine.

I did have a little bit of an issue with her reasoning though, I will say that. I think it’s hypocritical to ask horses to perform at the upper levels of sport, which certainly contains significant risk of injury, but then not turn them out because they might get injured. It seems a bit… selfish? You’re willing to risk the injury to use them for sport but not willing to risk the injury by allowing them to have any turnout? Especially to then say that stall rest from an injury is harder on them mentally – I mean, if that’s your theory then don’t jump them over huge fences and risk injury either. That reasoning falls very flat for me. It’s definitely great that they get time on the walker/treadmill, handgrazing, hacking, etc, that certainly helps so they do get to move around and aren’t just stuck in their stalls all the time. It’s not ideal maybe but a lot of horses live their lives that way, and her horses seem generally well-loved and well cared for otherwise. Granted it’s also a little sad to see her property tour with perfectly nice little paddocks that literally never have horses go out in them, just because she wants their every step to be controlled. She’s certainly not alone in her horsekeeping practices though, that’s for certain.

What are your thoughts? Were you surprised to hear that her horses never get turned out? How did you feel about her reasoning behind it?

WW: Bonus Bebe

Pippa and Patrick had their first turnout together this week, which resulted in A LOT of great pictures, so Foal Friday is already reserved for that. BUT we did have a new addition at WTW on Monday, with the birth of Patrick’s full sibling! Chanel finally released her hostage, a big bay colt, in the middle of the afternoon. He doesn’t have an official name yet so we’ll wait to do his intro post until maybe next week, but I thought everybody could use a little mid-week cuteness and this dude definitely delivers! Nobody’s going to complain about a bonus bebe day, right?

his little lip dot tho
trying to figure out how to lay back down
Success! Nap time.

More to come from this kiddo later on! Happy Wednesday.

What Came Before

I think all of us who are involved with horses know that they’re a journey, and sometimes a really really long one. Instant gratification isn’t really a thing, success is hard to come by, and you often have to put in a whole lot of blood sweat and tears long before you ever reap any kind of reward. This is especially true when it comes to breeding.

I mean… let’s think about the whole process here. First you have to have a mare, whether you already have one or have to go pick one out and buy her. Then you have to pick a stallion, which requires you to (hopefully… please god hopefully) do a lot of learning, research, poking around the internet, watching videos, finding offspring, digging through pedigrees, maybe trips overseas, comparing and contrasting, so on and so on. That could take months or years. But let’s fast forward and say ok, you’ve finally picked a stallion. You pay the stud fee. You get the mare bred. Hopefully she’s in foal. If not you try again. Maybe again. Maybe she aborts early in the pregnancy. Maybe you try again. Maybe she gets in foal that year, maybe she doesn’t. Let’s assume she does.

Inca’s like “wait she does what?”

Then you wait a whole year, give or take, for the foal to even be born. And we all know how that can go south in a hurry. But, for the sake of this story, let’s say mare and foal both survive with no major complications. Now wait 4 more years before said foal really gets going under saddle. Then another 6 or so before it (theoretically, in this scenario) reaches it’s prime.

That’s an 11-12 year investment before one offspring could even possibly reach it’s peak potential. And you know how often things go swimmingly according to plan in horses? LOL NEVAR.

btw I have a new surprise for y’all tomorrow

So last week when I was checking out the entry status for Texas Rose and saw “Like Magic WTW” listed there, confirming his entry, I had to screenshot it and send it to Michelle. Is it a baby horse’s first BN? Yup. Is it that exciting? Probably not to pretty much anyone but us. But – fun fact – it’ll be the first WTW horse to do a real official recognized show (under saddle) of any kind. The first WTW foal to finally come of age and step foot in the show ring to do the job that he was so carefully and lovingly bred to do. It’s a big big moment, even if it may seem like extremely small potatoes to anyone else. Especially if you know the full background of all that has come before, what has gone into the program just to get to this point. Let’s recap.

I met Michelle in 2013, when I leased my mare to her. She’d been trying for a couple years to get another mare (her first warmblood broodmare) in foal, and had no luck despite many attempts. And that year, she didn’t have any luck with my mare either, starting so late in the season. The next year it took several attempts, finally culminating in actually shipping the mare to the stallion’s farm and having to figure out some hormone imbalance issues before she finally checked in foal. Nobody even wants to add up the dollar amount just to get that very first WTW pregnancy, but it took about 3 years of effort.

one of her many books of research notes, this one for eventers

Merlin was born in 2015. During that time another mare was purchased already in foal from another breeder, with that foal also born in 2015 (technically not bred by WTW). That mare had complications and died shortly after foaling, despite some truly heroic and no-holds-barred efforts from the vets, leaving behind an orphan (who luckily made it). No foals were born in 2016. There was a learning curve about repro vets and what to do/not do, who to use/not use, etc. All this time there was also continuing education about bloodlines, breeding, vet work, more trips to Europe, repro classes, etc. New mares were purchased and added to the string. In 2016 the mares were hauled hours away to use a very good repro specialist who used frozen semen, resulting in three pregnancies. In 2017 three foals were born, including Presto. And, uh, well, you know Presto’s early life story. That year was especially brutal, with another foal sadly passing away before weaning due to a bad reaction to medication. In 2018 two more foals were born. Then Merlin, the oldest WTW foal who was living in the Houston area with his new owner, died suddenly and unexpectedly from an acute colic. Horses are hard. Breeding is brutal.

You guys have been part of all the foal crops since. I’ve been so proud to see Michelle’s program grow and improve, see her develop such a keen eye, learn to do her own breeding and lab work, etc. I’ve had a front row seat to witness the creation of a real legit sporthorse breeder. But the truth is that all this work, all this money, all this effort, all these sleepless nights and tears and at times just plain suffering – for a breeder, you’re talking about a decade before you start to see any real returns on any of that. Decades (plural) before you really start to make a name for yourself through the horses you’ve bred. It’s a long long long game, even in the horse world where every damn thing is a long game.

One of the many stacks of printouts from research about TB influence in modern sporthorses

So was it momentous to see that very first WTW name in an entry status, even though it’s just a 4yo entered in BN? You freaking bet. I am so honored to have the first horse from the program out in the show ring, so proud of everything my friend has built and really delighted that she’s let me be such a big part of it. Maybe I’m biased, but I really think that as these horses prove themselves over time, she’ll be one of the best breeders in the country.

You can bet that Presto will be wearing his WTW bonnet with pride

There’s a lot of talk about American breeders not producing horses that are up to the quality of Europe (which I strongly disagree with. The quantity of Europe, no. The quality, absolutely yes.) or complaints about how expensive foals are (welcome to America where keeping horses is expensive). The breeders really are the unsung heroes that keep providing us with nice horses yet get little to no recognition and even less support. Thankless doesn’t even really begin to cover it. They do it because they love it, and they love their horses.

If it feels like I’m always over here trying to get on a soapbox about breeding and supporting the US market, it’s because I am. It’s because of all this. It’s because I know how long it really took just to get this one gangly 4yo giraffe kid to his first recognized event, and it certainly wasn’t just the past 3 months of training. Michelle is 10 years invested into this breeding thing now… TEN YEARS since she tried breeding that first mare to that first stallion… and the first horse bearing the WTW suffix is finally gonna hit the show ring. What many would call the beginning of a story has really had a very very long history just to get to this starting point, something that most don’t really know or see. No matter what happens, its a pretty exciting moment for the program, and I’m so proud to finally get my WTW horse out there and represent what my friend has built.