Mina the Farm Dog

I figured Mina gets one more update post, since she’s been here for I think 6 weeks now (?) and has settled in to farm dog life a bit.

It’s rough out here

Now that we know each other and she’s gotten used to the farm, things have come along pretty well. I know going from being an apartment dog to a farm dog was a big change for her, but for the most part she’s acclimated just fine. When she first came home I was fairly sure she hadn’t really spent much if any time off leash, she was very confused by the concept of freedom. Bit by bit she started earning more and more though, as she worked on paying attention to me and coming when she was called. Her recall is very good now, I never have to have her leashed or worry about her running off at all, she comes running just from a whistle and tends to not really want to lose me from her sight anyway. She’s definitely figured out that I’m her person.

As for the horses, she’s not really scared of them anymore, which is a good thing and a bad thing. She’s not as careful about staying out of their path or away from their feet so I have to watch her pretty closely when she’s near them. Quinnie and Henry really don’t pay her any mind but JB is deathly curious about her and really wants to chase her, which Mina has yet to realize.

We haven’t had too many encounters with wildlife or other animals, aside from bugs (this dog will run up to a spiderweb and shove her whole face in it to sniff the spider). She loves to chase birds but I don’t think she’d know what to do if she ever actually caught one. What does seem to concern her is if any of the livestock start singing the songs of their various people – like if the cows start mooing or the donkeys start heehawing or the horses start neighing. Mina goes on high alert, or if it’s the horses she wants to go running over to them. I dunno if she thinks there’s something going down or if she’s still just not figured out what the heck noise they’re making.

For the most part Mina only has two modes – 100% balls to the wall, or asleep. Like… there’s very little in between. She’s quite high-energy, I bet she wasn’t that great as an apartment dog honestly. Stewie was a JRT mix and even in his heyday he wasn’t as high energy as she is. She’s got that vibrating, ADHD quality to her sometimes. There are lots of zoomies. Lots.

To her credit though, she’s not destructive AT ALL. She doesn’t chew or dig or bark or anything like that. Her only real bad habit that I’m still trying to deal with is that she jumps up on people. She kind of gets overwhelmed with excitement because FRANDS and then just starts leaping like crazy. I’ve gotten her to stop doing it to me 95% of the time but all bets are off for new people. That’s a work in progress.

The other thing she really seems to hate is… leaving. She doesn’t want to get in the car AT ALL, and she’s high anxiety the whole time she’s in there and when she goes anywhere new. We’ve done about 5 little trips now, thinking she’d get better over time once she figured out she definitely wasn’t going back to the shelter. Not so much… if anything she’s gotten worse. If you go to the car she runs the other way and lays down in a ball, you basically have to drag her in. Not really worth it, IMO. I guess she’s happy enough here?

I’m glad that she likes the farm and isn’t overwhelmed by it, nor is she a flight risk. You just never know how they’ll handle it sometimes. For a shelter dog that came from who knows where, she’s a really good dog overall.

Steps and Sweat

Sorry about the conspicuous absence of a Foal Friday post last week. Believe it or not sometimes Michelle has “other things to do” and “personal life commitments” that don’t always allow her to spend time taking and uploading foal photos every week. I know, I know, sounds like fake news to me too but I can only repeat what I’m told. We’ll have a good one for you this week to make up for it though, so… hopefully it’s forgiven?

It’s been hot AF down here for the most part anyway, we’re officially in summer’s armpit. We did get a little bit of rain one day last week, and that broke the heat cycle even if only briefly, so it’s not as bad as it could have been. There’ve been a couple of real Texas Summer days though, which mostly just reminded me of how much it really sucks when the air is so hot and humid it punches you in the face when you walk outside. Not a fan. It’s also the worst for Henry, who, on days like that, needs to be hosed off several times throughout the day. He’s pretty pro about it by now though, you don’t even need a halter and leadrope, he takes himself over the hose.

assume the position

The only saving grace is that the mornings, while 100% humidity every friggin day, have been fairly cool. The humidity is workable when it’s only mid-70’s, I just have to be on Henry as early as I can. I’m a big fan of morning rides anyway, it’s my favorite time of day. The world is a little quieter and calmer and the sun feels benevolent instead of ruthless. Once it’s fully up, it’s just brutal. Plus like, there’s really no better way to kick off the day than on a good horse, am I right?

My weekend afternoons were completely consumed with Millstreet coverage. Once again another year has passed without us being able to attend (it was our planned trip for 2020 – ha. ha. hahaha. boooo.) but I’m really hoping that next year it’ll be possible. They’ve got FEI divisions up to 4*L, including ponies, plus young horse stuff. It’s like, all of our favorite things rolled into one. Plus the whole Ireland part… we’ve yet to peruse the stallions and young stock of Ireland in person, and it’s a definitely must-do thing on the list (along with finding me a dun Fusion filly).

One big thing I noticed though while watching the Millstreet coverage – and maybe this is because I spent last weekend watching Great Meadow thus it was still fresh on my mind – is just how different the commentary is between the live streams. These Irish guys knew the bloodlines of almost every single horse, mentioned the breeder, siblings of the horse, other horses the breeder had produced, the sires, the dams, etc. Like – extensively. They even went off a couple times on tangents about underused stallions, the impact that ICSI has had on genetic diversity, etc. Compared to the Great Meadow livestream where they only mentioned the sire of a few of the horses, had some blatantly wrong observations, and otherwise discussed things like colors or size or personal stories about the rider/owner…. the difference was stark. The Irish are horsemen, they know their stock, they know where and who they come from and how they’re made. It’s no wonder they’re so much better at it than we are. It once again left me with the distinct impression that we really have to step it up in a lot of regards.

Hush a Bye Baby (by Indoctro), half sibling to 5* horses Colorado Blue (by Jaguar Mail) and Balham Mist (by Mill Law) – all out of the mare Rock Me Baby.

BTW they had the livestream of Millstreet on their facebook page so you can still go back and watch the various divisions if you want. Highly recommend, it’s good stuff.

Speaking of livestreams, this week is going to be a busy one. We’ve got AECs starting tomorrow, streaming on the USEA website, and then Bicton 5* starting Friday, streaming on H&C. I’m pretty excited to see how Bicton goes, the course looks legit and there are a lot of good horses entered. And naturally I’m excited about AEC to be able to watch some of my friends go, as well as the Mighty Magic in the Advanced (Miks Master C) and Megan’s two horses in the Intermediate and Prelim.

in case you missed it

Otherwise I was pretty busy around the farm last week, since the BO’s were off at Festival of Champions watching their super young horse show under Michelle Gibson. She ended up 2nd in the 6yo final, pretty exciting! They picked her out as a foal so I know how proud and rewarding that has to feel.

When they’re gone all the barn work falls to me, which I don’t mind at all. Taking care of the horses has never felt like much of a chore (okay, except for Blizzard Week where I hated everything. We try not to speak of that week). Plus, like, I averaged 12-14k steps every day last week… not bad. I wish there was a good way to tell how many gallons of sweat that amounted to.

Hope you guys had a good weekend and anyone in the path of Hurricane Ida is doing ok. And if you’re headed to AEC’s – best of luck!

Let’s talk white breeches

At first the title was “let’s talk whites” and I realized at the very last possible second that it might not really attract the demographic I was looking for as it applies to non-horse people. Crisis averted, hopefully.

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Anyway yes this is another breeches post, the second in a row, because look y’all trying to rebuild an entire breeches collection from the bottom up is a fucking task, OK? I think I’m good on schooling breeches now, but I haven’t yet tackled the show breeches side of things.

My old show breeches were all Horze Grand Prix, and I like them fine, so I could just go that route again. I haven’t really looked at or shopped for whites since like… 2017… so maybe there are a lot more/better options out there now that I need to know about. If I shat money I’d just go buy a few pair of Strucks, because I LOVE that the interior of them is tan, therefore you can’t see a damn thing through them, and they come in every size (26, 27, 28, 29, etc). However I really need like 2-3 pairs and $300 x 2 or 3 just is not happening. I also know that what is usually my favorite fabric for breeches – no cotton, thin, stretchy, breathable – tends to not be the best when it comes to whites unless you’re a fan of everyone also seeing your underwear.

SO – let’s discuss. What white breeches do you have)? How see-through are they? What’s their price point? How’s the fit (rise, length, true to size, straight fit or curvy fit)?

I can only speak for ones I’ve had recently:

Horze Grand Prix – not really see-through, $120, fit about one size large, slightly long, good for curvy fit.

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Tell me what you like!

The $40 Amazon breeches

Who doesn’t love cheap breeches? Well ok usually I don’t, because most of the super cheap ones are that awful clingy fuzzy-looking cotton blend that makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit. But these are definitely NOT like that, so have no fear.

$40 breeches in action

When I saw people in a facebook group talking about these $40 BALEAF breeches from Amazon, I was intrigued. Mostly because I saw that they aren’t cotton (85% Nylon, 15% Elastane), and also because I had some Amazon gift cards burning a hole in my pocket. They were also running a promotion (still are as of this moment!) where if you bought two or more pairs they were 10% off, making them $39 a pop. I ordered two pair, the black and the blue. I figured hey, worst case scenario I hate them and I’ll just return them. Not a big deal.

not an accurate depiction of the blue color, my phone has a really hard time with it for some reason

I did read in all of the discussion that they run big, which I’m glad I saw, because if I’d gone according to the size chart I would have ordered medium. Instead based on their advice I got the Smalls and they’re even a tiny bit on the looser side. They also are cut a bit more generous through the hip and thigh compared to the waist, which is great for me, but maybe not so much if you have a larger waist and smaller thighs. I laid them out comparatively with all of my breeches and fit/cut/sizing wise they’re most similar to my size 28 mid-rise Montar’s. Judging from what I’ve seen everyone else say, the sizing seems to go roughly something like XS – 26, S – 28, M – 30, L – 32, XL – 34, XXL – 36.

The fabric is on the thinner side, which makes them great for summer or for those of us who live in the south. This is the weight fabric I prefer for most of the year, it’s not hot or bulky or restrictive. I can’t quite figure out exactly what breeches the fabric reminds me of… it’s sorta similar to the Ovation Aqua-X or a couple models of the Kerrits or For Horses. It’s that slicker feeling fabric that dirt doesn’t stick to as well, if that makes sense?

sorry about my pasty stomach, I just wanted to show you the rise

These do have a silicone “full seat” which was a bit of a deterrent for me, but I’ve learned by now that as long as they aren’t super grippy I really don’t notice it. These didn’t look particularly grippy or siliconey from the photos, and I can attest to the fact that I don’t feel or notice the seat at all. A negative if you’re looking for a lot of grip, but a positive in my eyes since there’s nothing worse to me than breeches that make me feel stuck.

not much sticky back here

Overall they fit me pretty well. If I was being super picky I’d love it if the rise was maybe a half inch higher in the back and if they were all around like a half inch smaller, but really…. for $40 I can’t complain at all. I’ve had $200 breeches that weren’t this comfortable and didn’t fit this well. The general feel I get from them is that this is kind of the breech I would expect from closer to the $100 price point. Are they the best thing I’ve ever put on my butt? No. Are they really freaking impressive for the price point? Definitely. FORTY BUCKS? Show me other breeches that are this nice for $40. I’ll wait.

They have two pockets in the front and two zippered fully functional pockets in the back, and they’re big enough to where I can fit my iPhone in any of the pockets. There’s a stretchy mesh panel on the inside of the bottom of the leg so they’re nice and tapered and sit well under your boots. For me the length is pretty spot on perfect, but I’m also the most average size human in the world (5’6″) so I tend to not have issues with that usually anyway.

Played with the color balance on my phone until the blue showed up accurately

Their “blue” color is more of what I’d call a deep teal. It’s definitely NOT navy by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still a pretty nice color. From what I’ve seen the whites are a bit see-through so I haven’t ordered any of those. I have yet to see anyone with the tan so I can’t attest to what that color looks like in person… their colors do seem a bit darker online though than they are in real life.

If you’re looking for more breeches, I think it’s definitely worth a try to see if these will fit you. I mean, you really can’t beat the price, and since it’s Amazon (for however evil that may be) at least it’s pretty simple and easy to return them if you don’t like them or they don’t fit. I have no real complaints, and I’d definitely buy more if they make them in more colors!

Plot Twist

So a couple weeks ago when we figured out that Presto indeed was not actually qualified for AEC, it was time to come up with a new plan. Plan… what are we on now… C maybe? As it goes with horses.

His whole pro training journey has been relatively fluid in general. I originally took him up for a month, but liked Megan so much that I opted to keep him on and send him to Ocala with her and have her be his trainer for the Futurity. And Ocala went really well, so he came home and we started making horse show plans, including getting him to a YEH qualifier. Our only real option for that was Chatt, and we were supposed to get two chances back to back with two weeks of shows, but then an issue came up at the barn and the horses had to miss week 1. That left us with only one YEH shot, and Presto didn’t get the score he needed for East Coast Championships. Trying to get him to another qualifier would require another 1000+ mile haul, and that’s just not worth it for any of us, so it was a one and done shot at a score, which he didn’t get. Close the book on the that plan. That didn’t exactly break my heart because it’s a 1500 mile haul to Championships, and while it would have been really fun to go and for him to experience the atmosphere and represent WTW, he wouldn’t have been very competitive. That’s a long friggin drive to do what is essentially a derby and not be very competitive.

But Presto had placed 2nd at Chatt, a qualifying placing for AEC. So we thought, hmm… is there another show between then and the end of the AEC qualifying period? Hence making the trip to River Glen, where he was 2nd again. At that point we thought we had the qualifications done and his next stop would be AEC, but alas that wasn’t to be either (I can’t tell you how annoying it is to have two Novices under his belt with two 2nd places and just be ONE measly completion short of him being able to go). I was more sad about that one than YEH, to be honest. I wanted a showcation, I wanted him to get to experience AEC and a big atmosphere, and I think he actually had a shot of being competitive there. But, ya know, sometimes we don’t get what we want and that’s just how things go. Hard to be that disappointed considering the fact that he’s already vastly (like by lightyears) exceeded any expectations I may have had for him this year.

So that brings us up to now. The “end date” of Presto’s pro training has always been a little bit fluid. If he’d qualified for YEH East Coast Champs he’d have gone to that in October. AEC’s are September. I always kind of figured whatever his last stop thing was with Megan, he’d come home maybe a month later. But then when those two things dried up we found ourselves without a clear last stop date on the schedule, so we had to regroup. For me personally, there are two main objectives left at this point in his training journey: 1) it’s time for me to start learning how to ride the horse she’s created. 2) every show has been an improvement on the one before it, and I really feel like he’d benefit from just a couple more with a pro ride before I take over, to help confirm everything he’s learned so far.

The first question was, what was on Megan’s schedule for the fall? I figured she’d have to be traveling somewhere, trying to get FEI runs on her two upper level horses, and indeed she was thinking of heading out to Cali for about a month so she could hit a 2* and a 4*. That would encompass basically all of October and into November. With her being gone for AEC combined with the fact that there’s only one show in our area before she leaves (at a venue Presto has already run at) I thought the best option would be to just send him along on her Tour de California. He can get another 2-3 shows under his belt at different venues (all of which are very different from any he’s seen so far), confirm all the stuff he’s done this summer, and get a little more life experience.

With that decided, the next priority was point #1 – it’s time for me to start learning how to ride him. The plan as of now is for me to start going up for lessons when Megan is back from AEC. I’ll take as many as I can in September (which, she’s 3.5 hours from me so that’ll probably be 3-5 lessons, realistically), then he’ll go to California, and then when he comes back in November I’ll spend the rest of that month going up and taking more lessons. In December he’ll come home and then we’ll see how things go from there. Right now he’s been on a bit of a break, which will continue until after AEC. He’s had a big summer, so he deserves it.

In a fairly hilarious plot twist, we did find out that Presto’s score from his YEH qualifier was actually good enough to qualify him for West Coast Championships (their score requirement is slightly lower since they don’t get the same kind of entry numbers that East does) and he will actually already be in California when Championships are taking place. For Futurity purposes it’s useless though, since right now they’re only operating in conjunction with the East Coast Championships, but I did briefly entertain the idea of sending him to West. In the end I’m just not sure I can justify the expense plus the addition of one more show to his schedule while he’s there. I can spend less money sending him to a full horse trial (where he stands a better chance of being competitive, honestly) and get more out of it. It’s cool that he qualified, but if I’m being practical I just don’t think there’s much value in him going.

For now we have (another) plan at least, and I’m honestly feeling pretty excited (albeit a bit intimidated) to start riding him again, but for real this time. I know my learning curve will be very steep – Presto couldn’t be any more opposite of Henry if he tried – but I’m feeling ready to get back out there and take on the challenge again!

Torture de Henny

Much to Henry’s chagrin, the past week has been filled with several Ride iQ rides.

Dis too much proper riding, why we not go do dolphin yeehaws on trail?

I’m still playing around with all the different lessons and figuring out which ones I like best and which ones seem to help Henry the most. So far I can genuinely say that every single one of them has resulted in some kind of improvement at least. I definitely find that I’m staying way more focused and present and in tune with what I’m doing, and the time seems to pass really quickly. I’m doing more, and I’m paying more attention to the quality of the work. I’m kind of excited to use it when Presto gets home… I think if I’d had something like this available to me when Henry was still showing it would have really helped us tremendously in between lessons. Definitely obsessed and probably won’t stop talking about it for a while, so sorry not sorry.

today’s torture

Our mild, fairly rainy summer seems to have dried up for now, so things are getting hotter. Still not as hot as it could be, but more like upper 90’s instead of low 90’s. It also hasn’t taken long for the pastures to brown up and the grass to start dying off. It’s not terrible yet, but it does make me sad to look out and see more brown than green. Green grass makes me happier than anything else, I swear. Granted, the fact that we have any grass still alive at all at the end of August is nothing short of a Texas miracle. It’s also been so nice for Henry to have a summer where he isn’t just dying 24/7. He can handle this kind of heat okay… he still gets puffy in the afternoon and needs to be hosed off, but I haven’t had to back way off his workload or take any significant precautions to keep him comfortable. For him the difference between 95ish and 105-110ish is massive. The mornings have generally been more mild than usual too… like 100% humidity basically but mid 70’s instead of mid 80’s. It’s nice that I can actually do a 40 minute flatwork ride like this morning and have him be a normal amount of hot and puffing at the end rather than doing 15mins and feel like he’s gonna keel over. It’s kinda like I’ve gotten a glimpse of how much easier his life would be if he could always summer somewhere a bit more mild and I feel really bad that he’s a Texas horse. Hopefully not forever, bud.

Other than obsessively torturing Henry playing with Ride iQ, I spent a large part of the last few days watching the live stream from Great Meadow.

slightly obsessed with Palm Crescent

The live stream was good quality and for the most part I didn’t have any issues streaming on H&C, even on my slow country broadband. The commentary was decent too – I’m not always the biggest fan of KOC but she seemed a little lighter-spirited this time than she sometimes can be. They did attempt to talk about the breeding of some of the horses, although I definitely cringed several times at some of the incorrect or missing information. No, Nimmerdor was not a dressage stallion. No, not all Diarado offspring are tall and narrow (Diarado himself is maybe 16h on his tippy toes and you’ll find a huge variety in the types of offspring by him – because they usually take the type of the mare). No, AP Prime isn’t by AP Indy (close, he’s by Aptitude, who’s by AP Indy) and there are also at least 3 other examples of AP Indy line horses at the upper levels that I can think of off the top of my head. No, the horse by Ferro indeed did not have a lot of “blood”. But they tried, and they got some stuff right, so they get credit for that. They used to almost never mention the breeding stuff at all, except to diss on thoroughbreds or give such an enlightening statement as “this one is Irish”. So, ya know, while it wasn’t particularly accurate or deep-diving, it was something. Baby steps? My offer to provide pedigree and breeding dossiers to literally any livestream commentary, free of charge, still stands.

The only other semi-exciting recent development is that I finally bit the bullet and ordered the black sparkly boots that I’ve been eyeing for a while (thanks to friends who give great birthday presents!). They’re pretty cheap so I don’t have massive expectations, but I need new boots that fit a bit better, and I feel like these are cheap enough to where I can experiment with putting some studs on them and not feel like I’m desecrating something sacred in the process. Presto’s dressage bridle has black glitter padding on the noseband and his spiked punk rock browband, so I’m gonna attempt to recreate the whole Posh Punk vibe with these. We’ll see how they fit when they get here, then order the tiny spikes and start playing with them. Fingers crossed that the boots actually do fit and aren’t too short.

Otherwise it’s been a pretty quiet week around here, as is pretty typical this time of year, aside from a couple other little things that we’ll talk about in more detail in other posts. Hope you guys had a good weekend. Fall is getting close now… can you feel it?

Foal Friday, Video Version: Ridiculousness

I’m not sure if I’ve successfully captured, via photos, just how ridiculous these foals can be. Obi and Teddy in particular, but all of them are quite hilarious and silly in their own rights. So instead of photos this week, I put together some clips to make a short video that hopefully gives you a little additional insight into these goofballs, their personalities, and their herd dynamic. There’s a little bit of Obi and Patrick (ever patient Patrick), some of Teddy practicing her jumping skills, some Percy zoomies, a case study in how colts play vs how fillies play, and then a bonus clip of Sadie trying her best (and failing miserably) to be the bossmare of the broodmare herd.

Happy Friday!

First Impressions: Ride iQ app

This app literally JUST came out on Tuesday so when I say “first impressions” y’all, I very much mean it. I’ve used it twice so far and spent some time poking around the various content but by no means do I have a really solid grasp on it yet. The app seems to be getting a lot of buzz though and I’ve seen a lot of people hemming and hawing over whether or not to try it, so I figured I’d offer my perspective on it so far for anyone who may be considering it.

For those that don’t know anything about it yet, there’s a good overview of what Ride iQ is and what it has to offer on their website. Basically it’s an app-based service that offers guided rides (everything from warmups to jumping sessions to particular dressage movements or full dressage tests) with various top level coaches that you can listen to while you’re riding. It also has some video guidance in there that go along with the rides to show you specific exercises or walk through certain movements, and some general video lessons that you can watch to help supplement. There is already a decent library of over 100 rides, and they say that more will be added weekly. In addition to the rides and video lessons, along with your membership you get access to something called Office Hours where you can ask the coaches questions, plus access to private podcasts with coaches (a sorta Patreon-esque feature – I already listened to the Peter Gray one). Ride iQ is offered as a paid membership for $30/mo or $249 per year. Right now they’re also offering a free 7 day trial period up front – you do have to enter payment info to get it but you can cancel before the trial period is over if you’d like.

Ok, so let’s get to the meat of it. I’ll be the first to say that I was really skeptical and hesitant to sign up. I went to the website and started entering my info no less than 3 times, talking myself out of it every time before I finally pulled the trigger. My brain struggled with accepting the concept of paying for a monthly app service even though when I thought about it in terms of riding education and lessons it’s really a minor drop in the bucket. I mean one lesson these days is what, $75-100? Sometimes more? My biggest hesitation was about the content – would it be super applicable for me? If not for the free trial period I’d probably still be going back and forth about it but I figured ok, worst case scenario I’d get in the app and hate the content or it wouldn’t work or it sucked or whatever and I would just cancel. I signed up, downloaded the app, logged in, and started poking around.

My initial thoughts are that I like the layout. It’s pretty simple – there are tabs at the bottom for Lessons, Visuals, Podcasts, your Library, and your Settings. When you pop into the lessons tab there are now new tabs at the top of the screen that organize all the rides by Flatwork, Jumping, Programs, or Tests.

Once I scoped out the layout the next thing I did was poke around and get an idea of the content. That’s the real crux of it afterall – is there actually anything in here that would be useful to me? And I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the range. In the Flatwork tab it’s divided by Flatwork Warmups and Flatwork Skills. The warmups offer a pretty good variety, everything from ones focusing on getting a horse in front of your leg, to warming up a nervous horse, to flatting in a field, and a lot of stuff in between. The Flatwork Skills section has a lot of variety too, everything from Stage 1 of leg yield with a green horse, to lengthenings, to half pass, to flying changes. On the main flatwork screen they’ve also got stuff categorized by levels green, yellow, or orange (like 1, 2, 3, progressively) if you’d rather look for things that way. As of this writing there are 25 lessons in the Flatwork Warmups section and 23 in the Flatwork Skills section, so there’s a good chunk already in there to start with from the initial release.

The Jumping tab is laid out the same way, with a warmups section and a skills section, although there aren’t quite as many in there yet – 8 in the warmups and 6 in the skills. Still though, I have to say for what’s in there, it too offers a pretty good range, everything from rails on the ground to gymnastics to green horse stuff to coursework.

The Programs tab only has a couple programs so far, one focused on the early education for a 3yo and the other on green horses in general. Which I LOVE of course, having a young horse. The variety of the content is better than I expected, I was worried it would just be a lot of top level stuff or competition-focused but it certainly isn’t, I feel like it covers both ends of the spectrum for both horse and rider and a lot of steps in between. The Tests tab has audio of different dressage tests (as of this writing all of the eventing tests and USDF 1-1 and 2-1 are already in there) so that you can listen to them while you’re riding and run through your test, no reader necessary. I can totally see me not only using those at home to prep for shows, but also playing them to go over my test while I’m braiding or tacking up at the show.

I certainly felt like I had plenty to choose from right out the gate, and picked “Loosening an Older Horse” in Flatwork Warmups as my first session. Partly because Henry always needs suppling work and partly because I only had 30 minutes and it was one of the shorter, simpler sessions that fit well into my time frame. I like that if you click into each ride there’s a synopsis of what it covers, what you need to prepare, the difficulty level, how long it is, etc. It makes it a lot easier to pick something suitable for the day and the horse.

I always ride alone so I just hit play, put my phone in my pocket, and rode off. Some people may prefer or need headphones, your mileage may vary of course, but I’m not that fancy. I could hear it just fine from my pocket.

It started out with Kyle giving a little info about the horse he was on and explaining what the goal of the session was, what he was thinking with his position, and what he wanted to feel from the horse. Then he started to run through exercises at the walk, then trot, then canter, with some transitions and walk breaks thrown in there. Basically he did his ride and talked through what he was doing as he did it, so I could emulate it with my own horse at home. There were reminders about what we were trying to accomplish, what we wanted to feel, what our body should be doing, etc. For me, this was freaking AMAZING. I’m always riding alone, I don’t have eyes on the ground, and sometimes in the flatwork (especially with a horse like Henry who has no competition goals) I can get a little ADD or aimless about it. Having a guided ride that served as a “voice in my ear” so to speak really kept me focused and on task, and gave me more structure. To be quite honest, the app vastly exceeded my expectations. I could see this being tremendously helpful to me, especially once Presto comes home from training and I have to keep him going on my own.

Now, real talk. Would I use this service in place of real-life in-person lessons? No. You obviously still need the eyes on the ground, real-time feedback that you get from an instructor, for sure. Ride iQ isn’t meant to take the place of lessons, it’s meant to help enhance them and expand your general education. If I was at a barn where I had trainer eyes on me everyday and multiple lessons a week, would I be as gung-ho about it? Probably not. But I get very few lessons, the professionals I ride with are literally HOURS away, and it’s always a constant struggle to feel like I’m making real progress and keeping good structure and focus at home. For someone like me I think this app is a ridiculously good value. In the course of one ride I went from really skeptical and meh about it to a huge fan. This is a brilliant concept that so far seems to have been well-executed, and I would encourage anyone who’s even remotely interested to download it and at least play with it for the free 7 day initial trial period. No matter what discipline you do, there’s something in there for you for sure.

I played with it more this morning when I rode and it really just solidified my opinion. I honestly can’t wait to keep running through the different rides and figuring out which ones I like best and which ones help me the most. At this point there’s enough content to keep me occupied for months, and if they do in fact keep adding more every week (I’m told the updates will be every Tuesday), we should be good to go. There is a private facebook group for Ride iQ members where updates will be announced, which is also where they’ll have Office Hours as well as take lesson requests and app improvement suggestions. The team does seem really dedicated to making this as good and a useful as it can possibly be, which is a positive sign right out the gate. Updates will also be sent out to anyone on their mailing list plus posted on their social media accounts (I’m following them on fb, Instagram, and TikTok), so it should be easy to keep track of what’s new. So far the amount of support and availability seems quite good.

I reached out to Ride iQ yesterday with just a few initial questions I had while I was writing this post, and they were very helpful. They also said that if anyone has any questions about the app or how it works, feel free to leave your question in a comment on this post and they’ll respond. I’m a regular paid member, none of this was comped for me, and I’m happy to also offer my own personal opinion on things as well if you want to know more. Really though, if you’re interested I’d encourage you to sign up and utilize the 7 day trial period. See how you feel about it. So far I definitely think it’s a great tool to have available in my toolbox and I look forward to seeing what all they do with it.

Mini reviews and updates: The Regulars

I’ve been mega slacking about reviews and stuff lately, mostly because I’ve just not been in the mood. I get a lot of people asking about certain things though, or asking how older items are holding up/if I still like them, so I thought I’d do some quick mini-reviews and review updates over the next few weeks, starting with the tack/apparel items I use on a daily or very regular basis.

for anyone wondering, the glitter paint on my stirrups has held up fabulously, almost a year later it still looks great!

Starting with Henry’s stuff, he’s got a mixture of new and old. The La Cense (made by Dy’on) bitless bridle we’ve had for a while now and I do quite like the style. I don’t love the leather color, it’s got that slightly reddish oakbark tone rather than a real chocolate havana, but I do love the design and the fit. Henry goes well in it and it’s holding up well to the daily wear. The leather could be a bit nicer if I’m being picky, but it’s not bad, just not particularly luxurious. I think this is one of the best bitless bridles out there.

His Premier Equine merino wool pads are a mainstay for us by now, we’ve had the navy one for two years and it’s held up remarkably well. Every few months I give it a good hose down in the washrack to clean it, brush the sheepswool back up, and it’s good as new. I’d put these in the Best Purchases category. Seriously can’t say enough good things about them for the price. The only minor thing I would change is that I’d like to see a slightly higher cut for the wither (I like my pads with A LOT of wither clearance, these have enough but not a ton). For real though, it’s been a great purchase and Henry hasn’t gotten a single saddle pad rub since I got them, plus he does seem to stay dryer/cooler under the saddle pad with the wool directly on his back. I was scared of keeping them clean but that’s really been a non-issue too.

A more recent addition to Henry’s daily outfit are these navy Weatherbeeta brushing boots. I tossed these in my cart on an order from the UK (I only paid $28 a pair for them) on a whim since my old boots were dying but the new navy Majyk Equipe sport boots aren’t out yet. I really wanted navy brushing boots and figured if these could just last for 6 months or so to get me through, that would be fine. Honestly though they’re holding up really well (Henry interferes a lot so they take some decent abuse) and look pretty much good as new after these first couple months. Neoprene boots aren’t my preference, although these are at least perforated, and I’ll likely still replace them with the navy ME ones when they’re available, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve liked these in the meantime. They look great too, the navy is *chef’s kiss*. They do run big though (with long straps), which luckily I had seen online before I ordered so I was able to get the right sizes. Henry is wearing a cob on the front and a full behind, and they’re both on the bigger side. These would be great for larger-boned horses.

Another fun item that we added a few months ago is his rainbow spiked browband from The Bling Bay. Look – is this the same quality of my Dark Jewel spiked browbands? Definitely not. The leather isn’t as nice and the spikes are glued instead of sewn. However, if you’re just looking for a fun low budget browband (I mean this is rainbow spikes y’all) it’s hard to beat the price. I’d still go to Dark Jewel for show quality ones for sure, which is why Presto has two from them (and they’re my favorite). This silly rainbow one sure does make me giggle on a regular basis though. I love spikes. I love rainbows. I’m a child. Whatever.

Moving down the list – my Charles Owen MyPS helmet. Helmets are always a little tricky to review IMO because whether you like it or not depends on largely on whether it fits you or not. If you fit into any of the various Charles Owens shapes, though, it’s hard to go wrong with the brand. Charles Owen and Champion are two of the best helmet brands out there IMO, and those two are always what I seek out first. I particularly like the CO MyPS not just because of the MIPS but because of the “full coverage” feel I get from it. This helmet covers more of the back of my head than my other helmets do, which does make it feel safer. The airflow isn’t as great as other helmets I’ve had (which is pretty typical of MIPS helmets in my experience) but it’s not terrible, and I like that I can remove the liner to wash it. Overall it’s been a great helmet for me and I quite like it.

I also get a ton of questions about my Pioneer boots – in all fairness I haven’t been wearing those on a daily basis so aside from getting pulled out here or there for special occasions they’ve spent the better part of two years sitting dormant with most of my other show stuff, thus they still look great lol. My current daily Mountain Horse boots have gotten way too big now though, so the Pioneers are about to get shuffled to daily duty. We’ll see how they hold up to that. I’ll report back in a few months.

My breeches conundrum has been interesting as I’ve changed sizes. Right now I only have 3 pairs – Horze Aubrey, Montar Megan, and Equiline Boston. I really like the Horze Aubrey and wish they came in more/better colors. Horze run big of course and those were no exception so I sized down and they fit pretty well. They’re comfortable and stretchy and holding up well so far, but they’re still fairly new. The Montars I just got last week and I am definitely a fan of their Yati fabric – it’s very stretchy and comfortable. The Montar breeches all seem to run a bit long so I’ve got extra fabric at the ankle, but it hasn’t bothered me thus far. I do wish they were a tad smaller in the waist but I’m not convinced I could go down another size. I love the cut of the higher waist in the back though, and while I generally don’t care for silicone full seats, these are very mild in terms of stickiness so they’ve been fine. The Equilines I got on facebook secondhand and honestly I don’t quite understand the hype or the price point. If I’d paid anywhere near the retail price for them I’d have returned them for sure. The fabric is ok but not great, they’re cut lower in the back than I prefer, and the knee patches are just the same fabric as the breeches. The green color I got is really pretty, I’ll say that much. Otherwise though, not impressed with them.

the 26 Horze (navy) vs the 28 Montar. Not much difference in the waist, more in the hip. If I could get the hip of the Montar with the waist of the Horze that would be great. I love how both are higher cut in the back though.

As for shirts, to be honest most of the time I ride so early in the morning when it’s very still and humid and the sun isn’t fully out yet, so I’ve kind of been preferring my tank tops. To the point where I’ve considered buying a couple Kastel or Dover sleeveless sunshirts. If I ride a little later when the sun is fully out, I still reach for a longsleeved sunshirt though, and I have a fair collection in my closet: Kastel, Ariat, SanSoleil, Dover, SmartPak, and Equine Couture. Kastel and Dover have similar fabric and those are definitely my favorite. It’s thinner and silkier and fits closer to the body, which I like. Granted, that fabric does seem easier to damage too, especially if you wash them with velcro items. I have Kastels in my closet that are 7 years old at this point, so I don’t find it to be much of a problem. My next favorite would be the Ariat, it’s not as cool but it’s not bad, and the fit isn’t too boxy, which is my complaint with the SanSoleil. That one is fine but I find that I definitely don’t reach for it as much as the Kastel or Dover. Granted, I got that one for cheap from Riding Warehouse so I’m not mad about it. Same with the SmartPak one, although my issue with that one is that the fabric is a little thicker and the dang thing is just SO LONG. There’s like 6″ more fabric than I need. I’ve not worn it much because every time I put it on I’m annoyed by it. For how cheap they are I like the Equine Couture ones with the full mesh sleeves although they are a little delicate and a boxier fit in the body, which isnt my preference.

Do I have a color palette? I dunno maybe. L to R: Ariat, Dover, SanSoleil, Kastel, SmartPak, Equine Couture

I think that covers most of the things that I can think of? If there’s any other daily use type tack or apparel that I left off let me know and I’ll update!

Circling Back: Olympics

Since I was quick to criticize modern pentathlon and their mess that went down at the Olympics, it’s probably only fair to circle back to it and discuss their response.

UIPM - Event Partners | International Sports Convention

They did at least sort of acknowledge an issue and come out with some proposed changes, some of which are good, some of which are meh, and all of which are yet to prove whether or not they’ll actually happen and/or help. The original statement was kind of an interesting one and had me rolling my eyes in a couple places, like these:

“The unpredictability of athletes riding on unfamiliar drawn horses, with only 20 minutes to establish an understanding, is part of the dramatic spectacle that makes Modern Pentathlon unique and compelling.”

I mean, you got the “dramatic spectacle” part right. None of us can deny that it was indeed unique and compelling, it all the worst possible ways.

“While the number of refusals and falls on August 6 was slightly above average, the Olympic Games is designed as the most challenging of all competitions. “

Nothing says THIS WASN’T A ONE-OFF, WE’RE ALWAYS A MASSIVE FUCKING SHITSHOW like constant refusals and falls being considered “slightly above average”.

“The experience of Annika Schleu (GER) and Gulnaz Gubaydullina (ROC) on Saint Boy was unusual in high-level Modern Pentathlon, especially for riders of their proven ability.”

I mean… waaaaas it unusual though, because there were a lot of rides that went just like that

I think we can all agree that UIPM should hire a PR team at the very least. Oy vey. ANYWAY, moving on to the proposed rule changes that UIPM released.

  • UIPM will compose a Riding Working Group to comprehensively review the Tokyo 2020 competition and consider ways to prevent issues arising in future
  • The Riding Working Group will also assess the need for amendments to the UIPM Code of Ethics for the welfare of horses, and will draft amendments if applicable
  • UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann will meet with Mr Ingmar de Vos, President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), following of his offer to provide expertise and insights on horse welfare
  • UIPM will draft a set of modifications to the Riding section of the UIPM Competition Rules designed to suit the new Modern Pentathlon format, which will be introduced in 2022 with fewer jumps and lower, simpler obstacles
  • Recommendations from all of the above will be collated and presented to the UIPM Executive Board (EB) during its next meeting in Monaco on November 24-25, 2021
  • The EB will then agree on relevant motions to be presented to UIPM 2021 Congress, taking place online on November 26-28, 2021
  • UIPM will provide a new set of guidelines and online educational tools for horse welfare tailored to athletes and coaches
  • UIPM will adjust the content of courses within the Coaches Certification Programme (CCP) and Judges Certification Programme (JCP) to add more emphasis on animal welfare via dedicated modules
  • Training and case study materials will be provided to all UIPM Technical Delegates to better equip them to handle specific situations and scenarios in competitions starting in 2022.

So really most of it is just talking about stuff and providing more/better education, aside from the “draft a set of modifications to the Riding section of the UIPM Competition Rules which will be introduced in 2022 with fewer jumps and lower, simpler obstacles” part. That’s an actionable item at least, and one I can get behind, although I’d like to know how much lower and simpler they’re planning on going. I went through several pages and links about the new format but couldn’t find specifics on jump height/courses before I got bored, maybe someone more dedicated out there can find it. But I’m also glad they’re at least accepting to meet with the FEI. It’s… kind of a start, maybe? Not a particularly great or comforting one, admittedly. I will reserve full judgement until I see what they actually roll out. Hopefully we get some kind of positive change at least, albeit definitely not as much as a lot of us were hoping for. Actions speak louder than words, so… time will tell. I think we can all agree that no one wants another shitshow like this Olympics at least.

Hey! I had a question about Annika schleu and saint boy (horse) of the  modern pentathlon: olympics
let’s never do this again, yes?

The other interesting thing to come out of the Olympics is the criticism of the new showjumping format. Rodrigo Pessoa and Nick Skelton (among several others that I’ve seen) have been pretty outspoken about it, and I have to say that for the most part I agree. Those Swedish horses had to jump way too many rounds IMO, and the fact that they were able to pull that off on horses that had already done so much in such a short period was miraculous – those horses shouldn’t have ever been in that position though. And not having a drop score doesn’t do anything good for anyone (I absolutely hated it for the eventing as well – nothing about it is in the best interest of horse welfare, IMO) – Nick pointed out Shane Sweetnam’s debacle as being a glaring example of that, and I agree. Again we’ll see if any changes actually come of it, or if equestrian sports will remain at the mercy of the IOC. It’s the big reason why I don’t love having equestrian sports in the Olympics in the first place… the good of the sport and the horses rarely seem to take priority.