Welcome to the next iteration of my “None of my clothes fit me anymore and my house is tiny (literally) so I have to sell things before I can buy new ones” liquidation! Shipping isn’t included in prices. I can take Venmo or Paypal. Be forewarned, it can take me a few days to get the Post Office due to their hours and my schedule so please be patient with me. You can email me via the contact form or hit me up through DM on Instagram or FB.
San Soleil blue plaid sunshirt – SOLD
Dover show shirt Medium, olive green sides with white front, magnet collar – $30
Smartpak navy and white striped sunshirt – SOLD
Equine Couture Erna sunshirt, black with full mesh sleeves size Medium – $20
Equine Couture Erna sunshirt, navy with full mesh sleeves size Medium, has more wear to the mesh than the black one but no holes or anything – $15
Black and white short sleeve polo size Medium, embroidered with the Willow Tree Warmbloods logo on the chest and the sBs logo on the arm. Worn twice. – $15
Navy short sleeve polo size Medium, embroidered with the Willow Tree Warmbloods logo on the chest. Worn maybe 3 times while showing Presto in hand. – $15
Burgundy long sleeve tech shirt size Medium with the WTW logo on the chest. – $15
Horze Grand Prix brown knee patch breeches size 30 – $50
Tredstep Symphony tan knee patch breeches size 30, only worn a few times – $50
BALEAF silicone full seat breeches size small (fits like 28) These are the Amazon breeches that I like so much and while I wear the black ones a lot, these are more of a deep teal than navy, and it’s just… not my color. I tried. I’ve worn them twice. $30
Brown Ariat vest with USEA logo, size medium – $35
Hy Equestrian Roka Rose show jacket, navy with rose gold and navy gems on the collar and pockets, new with tags size Large (measures 20” across the bust). Material is pretty stretchy. Has zipper under the buttons. $125
Pioneer Atena semi-custom chocolate brown dress boots, size 39 4A. Calf measures 14.5 unstretched (the entire outside panel is elasticated, so there’s a lot of potential stretch factor), height 19.5” from floor to back of knee. The top has an embossed floral design. Not much wear because I was saving them for shows, but jokes on me now. $200
Dainese Balios 3 cross country vest, navy size large – $100
Stockbubble stock tie, white tone on tone print with double piping in navy and hunter green. Never worn, was made custom. I have no idea why I have so many damn stock ties considering I hate them and refuse to wear them until someone makes me. I’ll keep the unicorn one but the rest are just taking up space, so… $25
Stockbubble stock tie, white with silver glitter anchors. Worn twice at most. $18
I also need to actually get serious about selling Henry’s dressage saddle now that Presto’s return isn’t too far away and I’m going to have to buy him a new one. I’ve procrastinated like crazy on this because selling saddles is about as fun as shopping for them (or having your eyeballs scooped out with an electrified serrated spoon), but it’s time.
Devoucoux Loreak black monoflap dressage saddle size 18, on their regular tree with standard D3D pro panels. Regular flap length (16”). In very good shape and is a gorgeous saddle. Comes with the Devoucoux cover. I am happy to do local trials, but I’m not really set up to be shipping it back and forth for people to try. Happy to send whatever pics or videos you may need. Asking $2000
Ok, let’s see, what else has been going on aside from the Presto lessons…
Texas got hot again (stupid False Fall getting me all excited for no reason) and it’s remained dry dry dry. The grass is crunchy and sad and brown. Today is supposed to be the last hot (mid 90’s) day and then we get to go back down in the 80’s and there’s actually chances of rain over the next few days. Bring it on please. I get sad when the grass is crunchy, it was so green and beautiful for most of the summer and I think we all miss it. All of this to really just say that the ground is hard, so we aren’t jumping much and when we do they’re all set back to a lower height. So… not much of note to report on the Henry front considering all that, and the fact that he enjoyed a nice long weekend off since I was away at the clinic with Presto.
Who, speaking of which, leaves this weekend for his California tour. They’re headed straight from here to Woodside, where Megan’s got one in the 4*S, one in the 2*S (Tenny’s first international!), and Noodle in the Novice.
Then they’ll all head over to Tamie Smith’s place, where they’ll be based out of for the rest of their time in Cali. The plan right now is for him to do the West Coast YEH Championships a few weeks later at Twin Rivers, and then Galway the following weekend, then heading home from there. I tried a lot of different finagling to try to figure out how to make the logistics work for me to be able to come out for YEH Champs and stay through Galway, but I just couldn’t figure out a good way to do it that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. So instead I chose Galway, since that one seems way more fun with a 4*L and all that. YEH Champs are cool and all (I guess) but at the end of the day it’s just a derby and Presto isn’t gonna win. So… more bang for my buck fun-wise to fly out for Galway instead.
Oh and Presto’s latest Futurity vlog was posted last week in case you missed it. This was the last required vlog for the Futurity, although we’ll probably make one more at the end just to wrap things up in a tidy bow. But, this is the last chance to get some final entries for the Presto’s Favorite Things contest, so make sure to get your likes/comments in if you want more chances to win! I’ll pick a winner within a few weeks after Championships. I’m not sure yet when the voting for the Futurity’s Fan Favorite award will start but you can be sure I’ll let y’all know.
Speaking of Championships (isn’t it nice when things segue like this), while I won’t be able to attend the West Coast one, I will be in attendance at the East Coast one since it’s happening in conjunction with Maryland 5*. It took Michelle and I a little while to commit to a plan and get our airfare sorted, but I did book everything a couple days ago, so Maryland here we come (again).
You’re probably looking at that thinking “you’re on crack, Orlando isn’t in Maryland” – ah yes, we’re making a bit of a pit stop in Ocala for a couple days first to attend to some bidness. I’m not letting that particular cat out of the bag until everything is final, because jinxes are a real thing, but it’s exciting. We’ll fly from there up to Philly on Wednesday night and then head to Maryland, making one big Austin – Ocala – Philly – Austin triangle over the eastern half of the US. I think it should be a fun week. Our priority for Thurs/Fri will be watching the YEH horses, then we can switch focus to the big event. Who else is going to the 5*? I’m really excited to get back to spectating again, I’m an eventing fan first and foremost.
And thanks to the European championships I finally got a win in our little friends league in the Eventing Manager app, which I have become stupidly addicted to despite being really horrendous at it.
I’m putting this here for posterity because I’ve never come close to winning before and probably will never come close to winning again. Let it be known that there was indeed one time when I managed to come out on top. I always pick sentimental favorites because I just can’t help myself, and usually it doesn’t work out that well but hey at least I feel good about my picks. Proof positive that even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while. Kate, I await my trophy.
The only other recent happening is that I had my second Airrosti appointment yesterday. I’ve def seen some noticeable improvement in some areas since my first appointment last week (my back and my glutes at least) and this time there was more focus on my “terrible” hamstrings. Indeed… they’re friggin terrible. You know it’s not good when they’re like “don’t squeal, this will probably hurt”. Indeed it did, once she found the pain point in my left hamstring and went to work on it. She was also able to adjust my sacrum, but that part felt pretty freaking amazing. I was sent home with more new exercises to do this week, including a lot of foam rolling and stretching with resistance bands.
Those hamstring stretches, y’all. I can’t even tell you how bad they are. My god. I’m fairly certain my hamstrings are just petrified blocks of wood because they’re 0% pliable. I was laying on the floor this morning thinking how ironic it’ll be when the thing that finally kills me in all this is the stupid hamstring stretching. Send help.
I think that gets us all caught up on everything else that’s been going on around here… hope y’all are having a good week! Fall is coming…
Megan came down to the area for a clinic weekend and graciously offered to bring Presto along with her so I could get some more lessons on him. The good news is, we had two great rides. The bad news is, I accidentally deleted the entire video from Saturday’s flat lesson while I was attempting to download it from the Pivo gallery. Gah. I was so upset, because I thought we definitely made good progress from the first couple lessons. I’m starting to figure him out and be able to feel the things Megan is talking about, everything was clicking pretty well I think. Would be great to have the video to look back on but nooooo. I can’t believe I did that.
So, uh… here’s your Saturday media of Presto and Hillary’s horse Lex hanging out. They’re two peas in a pod. A very very chaotic and ridiculous pod.
Luckily on Sunday Hillary was able to stick around to get video, so we do have real legit extensive media for that. Except I’m kind of mad at her because while I was tacking up she went and got the measuring stick out of the tack room. Like… do I want to know how big this giraffe is now? No. As far as I was concerned I could just never stick him again and therefore he’d remain 16.3 3/4 forever since there was no actual proof otherwise. But nooooo, she went and did it. And cackled about it. A lot.
So um yeah, he’s almost 17.1h. The stick said 17.0 3/4 officially, which means he’s grown a full inch since I last sticked him in February before he left for training. What the actual hell, bro. That’s enough. You’re tall enough. He’s now outgrown both parents as well as what he string-tested to finish at. Thank god he’s still super narrow, it at least makes him not feel as big to ride. Size wise at the moment he actually feels pretty perfect for me, I’ve always preferred taller/narrower over shorter/wider. I mean he feels long for sure, especially compared to short and compact Henry, and his stride is friggin massive, but now I’m thinking I don’t actually want him to ever fill out after all. That’s enough in all regards, thanks. Let’s just stay like this, yes?
Anyway, Sunday was kind of a big occasion because it was my first actual jumping lesson on him. Really it was my first time jumping him at all. Yes we trotted over various teeny things last winter, but 1) he’s not the same horse now as he was then, not by a long shot, 2) cantering courses is a lot different from trotting teeny stuff.
And boy, my god, is he ever different from Henry over fences. Ok they’re opposites in every way, but especially to jump. The adjustment period is gonna be real. First of all, Presto covers twice as much ground. Stuff comes up really fast even when he’s traveling slowly. He also uses his body completely different – Henry really uses a lot of neck and rounds his front end a ton, but doesn’t really have much follow-through behind. Presto comes off the ground more upright in his neck, fairly minimalist in front, and then really comes all the way through his hind end. Honestly sometimes it feels like his hind end overpowers his front end a little, when he jumps more extravagant. That quality will serve him well later when the jumps get bigger and he’s stronger, but it’s just extremely different than what I’m used to, for sure. I thought I might get jumped right off the front end a couple times.
We started out hopping over a little cavaletti each way, then moving to a bigger vertical. Megan was saying that he’s hard to see a distance on so the best thing to do is just focus on the canter rhythm and keep his front end up so he can jump well no matter where you get him. He’s also still a bit of a different horse on each side – to the left he tends to want to get crooked and go more up and down with that inside hind, so you have to ride him a little differently each way depending on which lead you’re approaching from. Mostly though he wants me to be more active and constantly engaging with him than Henry does – constantly suppling, half-halting, balancing, etc. The last couple strides before the jumps though he needs you to soften the hand, otherwise he’ll fight the contact a bit and want to get hollow at the base. Especially when the jumps are smaller like this and don’t hold him off.
So, ya know… a lot of instructions to take in. Which is great, please give me ALL the info. This is the huge benefit of Megan having brought him along this year, she knows him inside and out and can tell me exactly what he’s gonna do before he even does it, and how to best ride it. But it does feel a little bit like trying to drink from a firehose at first. I was trying to ride him well but also not interfere too badly, and it’s strange jumping another horse after so long with the same one. For the first time jumping him though, I was pretty happy with how it went.
Presto, to all his credit, was really freaking good. We strung some fences together, a few singles and a line, and then did an angled figure 8 exercise over two oxers. A couple times I didn’t keep good enough control of his shoulders through the turn and got him real crooked to the single across the middle of the ring, but he could not have possibly cared less. I got the impression that if I get him remotely in the same zip code of the jump then he’s going, no questions asked. Another time I really bungled the ride down the line and epically fumbled at the oxer out and he just went right on through anyway, like “well that was a choice, human, but whatever I’m still having fun!”. Stopping never even crossed his mind, and he cantered away as if it never even happened. Nothing that happens at the jumps bothers him, he doesn’t get upset, and he really really wants to jump them no matter what. He’s so confident and content in what he’s doing. I’m not sure I could ask for anything more than that, especially from a 4 year old.
I do really need to figure out what I’m gonna do for him for saddles. My jump saddle will never be the right shape for him, and I really didn’t like how it rode on him anyway. I need something smaller and… different. Plus a dressage saddle, because I think the right one will really help me able to sit his canter better. I need me some blocks in the right places instead of the wrong ones. I also need a lot more money to make any of this happen. And a fitter that actually calls me back. Details.
Lookit that kiddo though. Gosh I’m so proud of him. I can’t even describe the feeling he gives you under saddle and to the jumps, like there’s WAY more in the tank waiting to be tapped into once he gets stronger and more developed. It’s really freaking cool. And it’s really a credit to the job Megan has done with him that he can go jump around that well the first time with his bumbling ammy owner. He’s everything I was hoping he’d be and more.
First and foremost I need you to know that I’m wearing a hoodie and leggings as I type this. A cold front came through, and while the highs are still in the upper 80’s, we’re down in the 50’s at night. 50’s, people! It is GLORIOUS and I may or may not have been extremely excited to pull my hoodie off of it’s hanger this morning. Is there any better item of clothing than this? No. No there isn’t. It is officially the most wonderful time of year.
Anyway, I’m also sitting here with an ice pack on my back. I had my first Airrosti appointment yesterday and you know you’ve accomplished something (probably not a good something, but something) when the doctor says “wow, this is bad”.
The reality is that I’ve had lower back pain for… basically my entire adult life. It’s pretty rare that a day goes by where the pain level is zero, it’s just a matter of whether it’s a tightness, or an ache, or a more “catching” stabby feeling. When I’m really active the rest of my body starts to be affected too, resulting in lots of tightness in my hips, my IT band, and especially my hamstrings. When I was doing triathlons it was REALLY bad, since running seems to be the thing that aggravates it the most. It’s noticeably all tied together though, starting in my back and branching out from there. I used to see a chiro/sports PT guy very regularly when I was in the height of all that triathlon stuff, because it was BAD back then, but as I branched away from the sport I stopped going to him, and honestly when I was less active it usually didn’t bother me as much anyway.
But now I’m pretty active, and I need to stay pretty active, so… it’s probably past time to try to fix or at least help some of my chronic physical issues. Especially since it’s so obviously affecting my riding, or at least preventing me from progressing the way I’d like. I’m fighting against my own body at this point. Enter Airrosti.
As I mentioned last week, Airrosti was recommended to me by a few friends who have had great success with the program. There’s a provider only about 15 minutes from me, so I scheduled an appointment figuring I don’t have much to lose at this point.
The doctor brought me in, read my intake form, and started asking me questions. She’s seen a lot of riders before and you could tell from her questions that she’s at least pretty familiar with the physical demands of the sport. We did an exam where she asked me to do a few basic things (hinge at the waist, push my leg in or out against her hand, etc etc) and she looked at my back. As soon as she lifted my shirt she goes “oh, yeah, there’s visible swelling at L4”. Huh. Good to know. She had me move around, looking at my range of motion, rating the pain, telling her when things felt tight, etc etc. Honestly I didn’t feel that bad yesterday, all things considered. I’d call it a low-moderate day for me on the pain scale, but ya know, apparently that’s not normal.
Once we were done she had me sit down, got out her whiteboard marker, and started explaining everything to me that she was seeing. First and foremost she said that my lower back was bad enough that she would diagnose it as an L4 sprain, and then overall she thinks my issue is lower cross syndrome, which is basically a fancy way of saying muscle imbalance. She said it’s a little bit chicken-or-egg trying to say which issues causes the other, because they feed off of each other and compound. But given the fact that I do have slight scoliosis that makes me crooked and prone to back problems, it’s probably all emanating from my back. Either way it doesn’t really matter, because the treatment and rehab addresses all of it together as a whole.
As far as strengths and weaknesses, my legs are wicked strong, but my glutes are like… sad. Real sad. My core wasn’t particularly weak, but all the issues in my back are preventing me from utilizing and engaging my core correctly a lot of the time. My hip abductors and adductors were definitely weak too, and my whole upper body was quite strong. So basically, above my ribcage and below my knees = good. Everything in between my diaphragm and my knees = real bad. Also interesting that my whole left side was noticeably tighter and more sore than my right side.
After she explained everything she was seeing, she laid out a plan for how she thought we should fix it. First and foremost, treat the back. It’s really an injury at this point, so before we can mess with it too much, we have to get the swelling down and help break up some of the tightness. That would require home treatment. What she could do in the office that day was some manual release in my hips, glutes, and IT band, so she set to work on that. It was one of those deep tissue things where it definitely hurt but in the best possible way. She honed right in on some extremely tight spots and it definitely felt a bit better when she was done, even if I’m sporting a bruise on my left ass cheek today.
After that she took me over to the rehab guy, outlined what she had found and what exercises she wanted me to do over the next several days. The rehab guy showed me how to do each one and explained what it’s all trying to accomplish, then KT-taped the living hell out of my back.
The exercises they gave me for this first session utilize lacrosse balls and are fairly basic/quick – all simple releases designed to help break up the tightness in my glutes, hamstrings, and back. He recommended that I do all of those 3 times a day. I’m also supposed to be icing my lower back 3 times a day to help get the swelling out of that L4 area. Lastly, the only real strengthening exercise they gave me for this go-round of homework is the glute activation – that’s the biggest weakness and the one we can easily address right off the bat since it’s not as tight as everything else. The KT tape can stay on for as long as it wants to, preferably at least 3 days or even right up until my next appointment.
As far as the overall plan, usually Airrosti treatments are over 3 appointments, but they scheduled me for 4 over two weeks. My next one will be next Monday, and then another 4 days later, and then another 5 days later. The idea is that the injury/major issues will be resolved by then, and at that point it’ll just be a matter of giving me a maintenance plan to execute at home to continue resolving the issue and prevent it from happening again. I like that they aren’t trying to tie you down to constant ongoing treatment, it’s more of a “let’s fix this in such a way that we don’t have to see you again” type thing.
We’ll see how it works. I have to say that I do feel overall better and less tight today, and my back pain is on the lower end of the spectrum. Rolling around on those lacrosse balls this morning before my spin class wasn’t my most favorite sensation in the world (imagine an extremely targeted foam roller, that’s basically what it is) but it did feel better afterward.
At this point I’m cautiously optimistic that this might actually be able to help me manage some of these issues I’ve had for… basically my entire life. I know it’s likely that I’ll always have to do some kind of special things given the fact that my spine is crooked, but I’m more than happy to do my homework if it helps my riding and my overall quality of life. Fingers crossed…
Whoopsy, sorry about that little unplanned blog absence. My laptop started to shit the bed last week after some updates and after many hours of IT intervention it was determined to be unfixable. I got a new laptop but not until Monday afternoon, at which point I had almost 3 days of backed up work to do, so I didn’t have time to get anything ready to post here yesterday either. But I’m caught up now and back to the normal routine, and there’s really not a whole lot to fill you in on anyway. Honestly I’ve been thinking about cutting back on how many days a week I post, because while there’s still as much traffic here as ever, the interaction has taken a major nosedive in the past couple years. That seems to be true for everyone as blogs have been dying out left and right. Feels a little like speaking into the void sometimes, which isn’t really that fun. But anyway… updates on what’s been going on over here.
Much to Henry’s chagrin he’s been roped into assisting me with working on some of the takeaways I got from my Presto lessons, especially in regards with loosening my hips and letting my legs drape more. I’ve ridden him in my bareback pad a few times to help me stretch down, and I’ve even put my dressage saddle back on him a couple times too. He’s not sure what the heck all this tomfoolery is about all the sudden but he’s been a good sport about it (mostly). I started yoga last week and mostly what I’ve learned so far from it is that I’m tight AF and suck at breathing. Awesome. My Airrosti appointment is today so we’ll see what comes of that.
The most noteworthy thing that’s happened is that I had a lunge line lesson with Martin the GP dressage trainer yesterday.
I haven’t ridden with Martin in… a while. A couple years maybe? I used to go over there pretty regularly, especially when I was closer to him, and he’s helped me a lot with Henry over the years. Martin is extremely patient and always chill and has a good eye for how the horse’s and the rider’s bodies are working. He always likes to say that dressage is really just PT for horses and works by gymnasticizing the horse, so I was like perfect – gymnasticize me now!
They gave me Waren, the ex-Grand Prix horse, to ride instead of the usual QH they usually use for lunge line lessons. Martin said he thought I’d get more out of it since Waren has bigger gaits and more “motion in his ocean” so to speak, which I appreciated. I wanted it to be a challenge, or closer to what Presto feels like. Waren wasn’t convinced that he signed up for this lunge lesson bullshit, but he humored us anyway.
We started off at the walk with no stirrups, and Martin had me moving and stretching my legs, hips, back, and arms. He had me thinking about really loosening my hips and relaxing my leg down and back. My hips are perpetually tight, but some of the exercises he gave me definitely helped open up the angle a bit more and I’ll be using them for sure.
After that Martin had me put one hand on the pommel and one hand on the cantle, and we moved to trot. I was glad he let me start like that because boy, that first step Waren took into trot I was like ok yep my horses don’t move quite like this. Martin had me continue to move my legs independently as we trotted around (he had me moving my leg forward and back from the hip, and rolling my toes up, down, in), which helped settle my seat into the saddle where it needed to be and prevent me from gripping with my leg. Then he had me let go of the saddle and move my hands to the regular position, but keep my legs feeling draped and loose. That in turn helped me sit and absorb the motion with my core better.
Then he gave me my stirrups back and we did more trot, alternating between posting and sitting every 10 steps or so. After that we moved to canter, and Waren wasn’t convinced he really had to canter more than a full circle at a time. That’s fair. It was hot and humid AF and I was interrupting his lunch noms. The first few times he broke to trot I was definitely bumbling trying to stay with him and not get launched into space from the unexpected change of gait, but I also kind of appreciated that it happened because I got better at keeping my body and seat steady and following every time. I mean… it wasn’t great, don’t get me wrong, but it did get better.
After a walk break Martin took my stirrups away again and we did more trot and canter without them. We capped off with trotting around and having me move each leg back (alternating, one at a time), rolling the toe down and in, and then bring it back under me. That tested, like, all of my available coordination skills at the trot.
I did feel a lot looser in the hip and more draped in my leg though, by the end, and it was great to get to ride a horse like Waren that moves through his back more than either of mine. Martin was very positive too, he said he didn’t see anything major wrong that I’m doing, it’s just a matter of keeping the angle more open/leg back/toe forward and staying balanced that way so I can follow better.
I’ll be honest though, it felt WAY easier to do all that in Waren’s saddle. Like, massively easier to keep my leg in a better place. When I was tacking up I was looking at that saddle like “omg there’s no way I’m gonna be able to ride in this thing” but I was quite wrong. It was an immediate difference in feel. Which, I knew I was going to end up getting a new dressage saddle with Presto anyway, but this was an eyeopener for sure. I’d like the block to be shorter, but now I have some ideas of what I’d like to try if I can ever in my life get a saddle rep to respond to me. I’ve not ridden in a lot of different dressage saddles so that part was a revelation too. I’m the problem for sure, but my saddle also isn’t helping.
When I got done I messaged Bobby to tell him how it went (he rides at this barn exclusively now with his fancy DQ horse) and that’s when I learned that Waren has a reputation.
And then someone else from the barn messaged me on Insta.
Ha. Hahahahaha. Hey, I wanted a challenge and Martin delivered. Apparently Waren is known as the ab blaster, and all I can say is that I’m definitely glad I’ve been doing some core work over the past few months or someone would have had to peel my body out of the rafters of the indoor. My hips were on fire during the drive home. I can definitely tell that I have h/j roots and have spent the majority of my life in a jump saddle with a much more closed hip angle riding in a completely different way. Changing this shit is hard, especially when you’re creeping up on 40 and aren’t nearly as bendy as you used to be.
Once again I have not been able to access good enough internet to upload the whole 30 minute Pivo video (this little gadget is seriously earning it’s keep lately) but I did pull a couple clips with some better moments as well as not so great moments. Full transparency. At some point I need to come back and make GIFs of the different exercises he was having me do but today is not that day.
I’m not super sore today but I definitely feel like I’ve been worked out from head to toe. This poor Airrosti person later is probably gonna be like “what the actual hell have you been doing?”. Waren. The answer is Waren. And yeah I totally wanna do it again, because I’m a glutton for punishment.
By now we all knows that each of the foals has their own particular strengths and talents. Like, for instance, Patrick’s ability to throw shade and judgement with just a single glance.
It’s honestly kind of spectacular. Those eyes. I feel very judged. It reminds me a lot of Presto (who is always judging me and finding me unworthy). Of course, Patrick also excels at llama face, moreso than any of the others by a long shot. All facial expressions are a real strong suit for him, his range is impressive.
Obi’s strength is in his lion-esque tendencies. He plays with his brother much the way a lion takes down a zebra – either a big ol’ wither chomp and attempt to bring him to the ground, or just heading straight for the jugular. Obi might be an apex predator. Jury’s still out. He’s even got a lion-looking mane.
He does at least allow Patrick to return the favor, though.
Teddy is the master of always feeling extremely superior in any situation, even though she’s the smallest of the bunch by a long shot. She’s the most clever and she knows it, so she always looks at them as if she thinks she lives with a bunch of idiots.
Of course, despite her clear excellence she’s not exactly the picture of elegance and grace that she’d like to think she is.
The elegance and grace (or as much as baby horses can have anyway) really all belongs to Pippa, let’s be honest.
This week Percy, dear sweet innocent loveable goofy little Perce, decided to try out a new role. He thought maybe, just maybe, he could be an apex predator like Obi. And um, well… you be the judge on how that one went.
Poor Percy. Maybe just stick with what you’re good at, kid.
I’m back from my quick little 24 hour jaunt up to DFW to ride Presto! The good news is that I had two very enlightening and helpful lessons. The bad news is that the media I have is all from the Pivo, which is over an hour of video, which hahahahaha is not compatible with my slow AF country broadband internet. I’ve pulled some screenshots and a short video clip but I’m gonna have to find real Wi-Fi before I can upload and actually sort through all that video.
When I got there on Tuesday it was overcast and kind of cool and misty raining, so Presto was feeling a bit alive. Nothing bad at all, just quite forward and more reactive to aids. Which would be great if my aids were as correct as what he’s used to with his pro rides, but alas they are not. We spent pretty much the whole ride trying to get me to post smaller (why tf do I want to post so big on this horse, I don’t know) and relax my seat/let my leg just drape around him. With, um… varied success.
Which wasn’t a surprise to me at all. I KNEW and have known for, like… years, that this horse was going to be very different from what I’ve had in the past and what I’m used to with Henry. He’s big (please don’t ask me how big, I haven’t sticked him since before he left and I’m in deep denial about the fact that he’s noticeably larger than the 16.3 1/2 he was in February), he’s rangy, he’s got suspension and power in his gaits…. I’ve certainly never tried to do dressage on a horse like this one. It’s why I’ve spent the whole time he’s been gone working on my own strength and fitness. And that’s helped a lot for sure, but being more fit doesn’t mean you just automagically get all the finesse and knowledge and feeling that riding actually requires. I’m set up for it better now, but I still have to actually, like… learn the things.
The first thing right out the gate is that Presto’s rhythm has to feel way slower than Henry’s. Presto has a lot more suspension and ground cover in his gaits and if I try to move his feet too quickly he just plain doesn’t have enough time to get his legs under him and push the way he needs to. I had to slow myself down and be very mindful not to push him past his point of balance. Too much speed just tips him onto the forehand and makes him brace against the hand. That one was pretty obvious to feel and I could tell right away when I tipped past that point, so I just had to recalibrate my own rhythm.
The main problem though was how I’m sitting in the canter, which… isn’t well. Presto REALLY wants me to have a lighter seat with my leg mostly off and quietly draped down, like um, an actual good dressage seat. My leg could not compute how to make that happen for more than a few strides at a time and still stay with his giant uphill step. Presto is built so much different from Henry (tall slim narrow vs short stocky wide) and they move so completely different that everything just felt awkward and foreign, and my brain and my body parts were struggling to communicate. It was better/easier when I dropped my stirrups, but it was a real “this is gonna need a lot of work to do it correctly” type of thing. Duly noted.
I know that a lot of my struggle comes from the fact that my back/hips/hamstrings are chronically jacked up. They have been for… ever, basically. When I was deep into triathlon I went to a sports medicine guy weekly for chiro, stretching, etc to help because it got so bad that was the only way I could even stay “sound” enough to do it. I kind of failed to consider with my increased physical activity that I might have issues like that surfacing again, and ya know, maybe I would need to address it and get some help at some point. Literally didn’t even occur to me until I was strugglebussing to get my leg to do what I wanted and then I was like “Oh. Right.”. Good to know. Duly noted again.
I went to the hotel that night and watched some videos, read some articles, and did some stretches and exercises to try to loosen up my body. I watched my Pivo footage a couple times to help cement everything that Megan had said in the lesson and help set it into my brain. I think with Presto it’s going to be especially important to be mindful of my own body, because he tends to want to get stiff and resistant in his lower lumbar too, so as soon as I get stiff there myself, it immediately transfers to him and then we end up compounding each other’s issues.
The next morning I showed up a little looser and ready to try to build on day 1. Presto was definitely feeling a bit lazier, which honestly kind of worked a little better for me since he was a little slower to react if I got something wrong. But I felt like I was able to come back and apply a lot of what I’d figured out on day 1 and improve on it. My body was a bit more cooperative, and we worked a lot on the timing of my aids. What I really liked about Megan’s instruction is that she knows the horse so well by now that she could be like “he’s gonna try to do this, before that happens you’ll start to feel this, when you feel that you need to do this to prevent it… but if you’re too late with your timing and this happens then here’s what you do to fix it”. Extremely useful. Like massively.
If I could feel it coming and be quick and correct with my aids, awesome. Sometimes I was a little too slow. Sometimes I just wasn’t effective enough. But by the end I could feel EXACTLY what she was talking about, I was able to get his hind end truly connected to the front, and it felt glorious. I could feel what we will at some point eventually be able to do consistently, and it was really exciting.
This horse is for sure way different. I’m for sure in a league that I’ve never before found myself in. It’s a little intimidating, sure, but mostly it’s just exciting. I do this because I want to learn and be better, not because I just want to go horse show and win ribbons. This horse will be a new challenge for me, and a huuuge learning opportunity. The curve is steep and it is long, but I’ve come home feeling really invigorated and determined to figure it out. I think for the past couple years I’ve felt a little bit stuck in a rut, a little bored, a little burned out, a little uninspired maybe. Two rides on Presto and I’ve come away feeling like I’m really ready to dive in head first again and give it everything I’ve got. He’s 100% the horse I wanted, and now he’s got a fabulous training foundation, so it’s up to me to rise to the occasion and see what we can accomplish.
I came home with plenty of homework and gave myself some action items, all of which have already been initiated. First and foremost, I gotta work on my seat/position and a more correct dressage seat. I contacted the local dressage guy that I like and asked about lunge line lessons on their school horses, and I have my first one next Tuesday.
Second, I have to address my own physical issues. Several people recommended Airrosti to me, so I have my first appointment set up for next Wednesday (what a week of torture I’ve got coming).
Third, I have to do a way better job of stretching and keeping myself loose, I can’t just go hard on the spin bike in the morning, sit at my computer for 8 hours, and then expect to not literally turn into a block of stone. So this morning I started yoga. What I’ve learned so far is that I suck at breathing and my hamstrings are worse than I thought. Good times.
We’ll see how these few things work out and then go from there. It’s a start anyway.
It was a quick trip, barely more than a day, but I got exactly what I wanted out of it. I knew I’d have holes that I needed to address, I just didn’t know exactly what they’d be. Now I’ve got a better idea, and I can start working on all these things while Presto finishes out his time with Megan. She’s also coming down to Austin next weekend for a clinic and bringing Presto with her so I’ll get to ride him a couple more times before he leaves for his Tour de California in October.
I also remembered just how much I love this horse. Have no fear, Presto’s personality remains unchanged, and sitting on him still feels like home. Megan commented multiple times how well we suit each other and that we look like we fit well together, which means a lot. I’ve always really liked his type, his personality, his brain, and how he feels to ride, and now that he’s had 6 months of good pro training it’s only cemented all of those things even more. He’s still Presto, just a way more educated version. Sending him off to her longer-term was without a doubt the right decision. Sitting on him it feels like THIS is my horse, for sure, the one a I’ve been waiting for. I just, ya know… have to learn how to ride him. Working on it!
How is it already Monday again? And mid-September at that? Time is absolutely flying. Which is fine by me since fall is my favorite season. We got a couple of cool, crisp, low-humidity mornings last week that were just DIVINE (it was nice to not be a puddle of sweat on my spin bike at 6am for once) to the point where I even wore a sweatshirt for like a whole hour. Henry was a big fan of the cooler temps in our morning rides, too.
Even though the afternoons were still getting up into the 90’s, the humidity dropped significantly (down to 25%!!!) so it didn’t even feel that hot. Henry doesn’t have nearly as hard a time with the heat when the humidity stays low like that… which is rare here unfortunately. But the cooler drier weather did make it feel very fall-like which was pretty exciting for all of us. Yesterday it was back to being hot and humid but now today we’re getting some of the rain from Tropical Storm Nicolas – which we desperately need rain for the grass – and it feels pretty darn nice out. I’ll take the rain and 80’s high temperatures for a few days, thank you.
Henry’s been keeping to his usual riding schedule, although since the ground was getting pretty hard I’ve kept the jumps lower. Which Henry was not impressed by in the least. He jumped them all like this.
It’s just a canter step after all, right? He saved his enthusiasm for all of his dolphining in the corners. I like the spicier version of Henry though, he’s a lot more fun to ride in the fall and winter when his sass level and energy level increases. He’s like that because he feels good, and I’ll never be unhappy about a Henry that feels good. Even if there’s a lot of yeehaw. It’s entertaining to me.
Last week had some good mail days, too. I had taken advantage of a Vistaprint coupon and ordered a couple things in anticipation of showing Presto next year – a navy and white WTW banner (because I will rep the shit out of WTW in all situations) and a stall sign for Presto. I’d spent the past couple weeks wavering about the stall sign, not really finding one that I loved. I think I looked at every single one on Etsy, but nothing was quite right. I wanted navy and white, I wanted the WTW logo, and I wanted his breeding on it. And of course since it’s for shows I thought it would be helpful to have his photo and my phone number. I couldn’t find any that were as professional looking as I wanted, or weren’t $$$. But in browsing Vistaprint after making the banner, I saw that they make little aluminum signs, so I set to work making the design I had in mind within one of their templates. I had no clue how it would turn out once they printed my design but it was only $18 so… worth a shot.
I think it came out great. It’s nicely done, has everything I wanted on it, and it’ll look good with his stall set-up. Can’t beat it for the price. I’m still debating how I want to hang it… I could make holes in the corners and run a chain through if I wanted, or use adhesive photo hooks and run a chain from the back. Or other adhesive hooks. Or clips. Or command strips. Or velcro. Or just some duct tape on the back. Honestly I’ll probably start with the duct tape method and see how that works before I go overcomplicating things. It seems easiest, and then I can just stick it up wherever I want on the stall front or door that is out of reach of his mouth, depending on the venue. Either way, very pleased with my low-budget stall sign. Two thumbs up for Vistaprint.
I also finally got my package with my missing Epplejeck items from my July order. They weren’t the quickest to resolve the situation, but they did make it right and send me the two items that were missing from the original order. It took a few weeks to get here, but it made it and I’m satisfied with how they handled it overall. Of course I was convinced that since I’d had to jump through so many hoops to get these two things, neither of them would fit. Luck was on my side though, because both items fit and I really like them both.
These Quur Cardie breeches are pretty much a dead-ringer dupe for Equiline (complete with the little triangle badge thingy on the left leg) but I honestly prefer the fabric on these to the fabric on my Equiline. These are a true tech fabric vs a more cottony feel, which is more comfortable IMO. They call this color purple but it looked merlot to me online and it is indeed very merlot in real life – my pic makes it look more pinkish than it is. For under $100 (according to my receipt I paid $83 for them on sale) these are a great alternative. The website said they run small and they do seem about a half size small, which works in my favor. I kinda want more colors.
I had also kinda forgotten that I ordered the world’s best show shirt. Yep that’s navy glitter. Do I already have a navy glitter long-sleeve? Yes but the top part is white so under a jacket you can’t see it’s magnificence. This one is full on navy glitter. Even the buttons have glitter inside them. It’s dark sparkly perfection and no one can convince me otherwise. Plus it fits great, so yay.
AND, continuing on the sparkly navy theme, a late birthday present showed up from the UK – the most stupid beautiful saddle pad I think I’ve ever seen in my life.
Look, I’m not really a lover of saddle pads. I’m not a connoisseur, a collector, or an enthusiast the way a lot of horse people are. I really have very few saddle pads and use the same ones day in and day out, I’m not into the matchy-matchy thing, I don’t do color, etc etc. Lots of people are into it but it’s just not my jam. At least, not usually. There’s something about those Kentucky saddle pads though. They do really cool stitching patterns that make everything look more elegant. And they put details on them that really dress it up without being overly in-your-face about it. They’re just mega classy looking pads, in a more subtle way. And also generally expensive, which is why I hadn’t bought any. Seeing this one in person though… man. I might have a new addiction. I can already see this is going to be a problem. The pad I got is the dressage version from the Glitter Stone line, but now I want the jump version of it too. Is it a birthday present or is it a gateway drug? We’ll find out sooner or later. These aren’t sheepskin lined so Henry can’t use them, but Presto sure can.
Speaking of the noodle, I spent yesterday afternoon making his next vlog installment for the Futurity, so hopefully that’ll be ready to post this week. Tomorrow morning I head up to DFW for a couple days to take my first official lessons on him, and I’ve not had time to draft any posts for while I’m gone so things will go dark here for a day or two. I promise to come home armed with lots to say and hopefully lots of media (I’m taking my Pivo, anyway). I’m equal parts excited and intimidated, mostly because I haven’t sat on him in like 6 months now and the horse I have today is definitely nothing like the horse I dropped off in the spring, nor is he at all like Henry. I know I have a very steep learning curve ahead of me, and I expect that, so that’s the intimidating part, but at the same time I’m so excited to get back on him and feel what I’ve got now. The challenge of learning to ride a “new” horse is invigorating too, I’m really looking forward to it. I just hope I don’t suck too much. Definitely glad I’ve spent the last 6 months getting in better shape at least, I have a feeling I’m gonna need it!
We had pretty grand plans for Foal Friday this week. The foals were gonna get spiffed up, glammed, and ready for some real bonafide beauty shots. You know what they say about plans and horses, right? Instead of finding a field full of beautiful foals ready to model the next morning, somehow the foals had been replaced with yaks and llamas and giraffes. Growth spurts come and go in the blink of an eye with babies, they can look beautiful one day but awkward as hell the next. And that is exactly what happened. To all of them. At the same time.
Somehow everyone’s butt decided to shoot up while their neck connection went… somewhere. On vacation maybe? Obi is chunked up in an awkward way that makes him look like a baby Clydesdale (ok the blaze isn’t helping) and his butt is doing… something else. It’s a lewk.
Just… none of his parts really match at the moment and all of his elegance has left the building. The saving grace with him is that he does have a totally adorable face no matter what kind of phase his body is in, so at least there’s that.
Patrick is more refined in general, so instead of looking like a chunky little sausage, he just looks a bit giraffey. Ok a lot giraffey. The neck got reeeeaaally long all the sudden, and his nice high neck connection went poof. He too still has a beautiful face though. If you take a pic of him in motion it’s not so bad, you can’t even really tell that his butt is a good 3″ higher than anything else. Just a lil baby giraffe, wandering the African plains. Nothing to see here.
As for Percy – um, well… at least he’s always sweet? He’s got the awkwards worse than any of them at the moment.
Even the girls, who are rarely anything but beautiful, are looking a bit funky. Both are butthigh, and Pippa’s neck is doing whatever weird thing Patrick’s is up to. Hmm, now that I’m thinking about it maybe we should have just done a post of only headshots… too late now.
I think Teddy is probably the least awkward looking of the bunch this week. Probably because she’s a round lil’ pony, and even when round lil’ ponies get awkward they’re still mega cute by default, right? Especially when they come in a fun color.
So, um, this week may have been a bit of a bust as far as fancy glamour shots go. Hopefully this random onset of mega-awkwards will pass quickly, but who knows. You may end up getting a post of entirely headshots next week after all. Or buttshots, maybe? They seem to all look just fine from that angle too.