Gymnasticize Me

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.

no riding, moar cookies

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.

thanks Waren for putting up with me

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.

completely shocked that I liked this thing

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.

72 thoughts on “Gymnasticize Me

  1. What a great lesson. Painful full body workout lesson, but it looks and sounds like it was incredibly useful. I feel like Waren may not agree with that assessment, but damn I’m impressed by how you stayed with his bouncy AF trot.

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  2. I read your blog faithfully every day, but I don’t comment much. You’re a very entertaining writer, and I love your blog. I hope you don’t reduce the number of posts you make each week. The readers are out there, even if we just “lurk.”

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  3. You look great in my opinion. Riding a big trot with no stirrups is so hard. I am getting ready to sign up for some lessons this fall and am thinking I need to get some hard exercising in first – I’m older than you and also don’t move like I used to. I haven’t been on a horse (other than walk only trail rides) for over a year.
    Your blog posts are fun to read and I will miss them if you cut back, but I can understand why you might want to. Especially on the days when not much is happening.

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  4. I’ve read your blog daily for years (years!), and never commented. It might feel like you’re talking into the void, but we’re here and lurking 🙂

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  5. I’m another that reads your blog faithfully and very rarely comments. Even things like the DNA test on Mina – I have two heelers and much of what you wrote in terms of traits and personality are so spot on! I have one whose favorite way to sleep is propped up against my side, splayed out upside down with his head flopped over between my boobs. He’s a riot! So that was a fun post to read.

    I also find your dedication to your sport inspiring, and while I’ll never be the rider you are, a lot of what you have written has influenced my own horsemanship and horse-ownership. I’ll never look at feeds and equine nutrition the same!

    But that being said, I also get how busy you are and that it takes a lot of effort to come up with content and media – yet you do it so well and make it look so easy. I just really enjoy your posts and look forward to reading them, you always have something worthwhile to share. Even if it doesn’t feel like anyone is listening.
    .

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      1. Of course your readers give a shit, and if you were boring, no one would be here right now! And since we’re practically neighbors and I have met you once in real life (although I am quite sure you have no idea who I am, was at Sadie’s first trail ride with you at the Ford’s), I take a keen interest in anything that is local. Like your long-time boarding facility that sold out to be a subdivision – my sister lives in the Manor/Elgin backwaters so I know how development is going over there.

        Plus we have other real-life friends in common (Hi Kristy B), so there! Hell, I even quote you to others and my husband knows who you are – so yeah, you have real followers. But not creepy stalker followers, just those of us that really do care how things are going with your horses, your little residence, your dogs (so sorry for your losses there) – your life. And I don’t even ride English! But I may send my fiery two year old to your trainer’s husband for patience tree time and getting started under saddle, so thank you for bringing them into the picture.

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  6. I wonder if Waren is related to Pammon… When I first got him (and probably again if/when I get to ride him again) my trainer made me hold the pommel to sit his trot. I just couldn’t do it!
    This sounds like exactly the lesson you wanted, but I’m exhausted just reading about it.

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  7. I don’t comment frequently, but love reading your blogs. Wish I knew of someone local that could give me some lunge lessons! I love the work you are putting into yourself to make yourself a better rider, I need to follow your lead…

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  8. Another long time lurker, first time commenter. Lunge lessons are exactly what I have wanted to do for a while! Now I am inspired to make it happen even though I don’t have access to an ex-GP horse.

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    1. I think it would be beneficial on any horse, it’s so much easier to concentrate on what your body is doing when someone else has control of the horse and their eyes are on you 100%. Definitely recommend!

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  9. I look forward to taking a break at work to see if you added a new post pretty much every day of the week! It feels like coming back to an amazing book – you know the characters and even though they don’t know you, it feels kind of like home? I hope that doesn’t sound creepy, but I know you read a lot (based on this blog lol) so hopefully you understand what I’m getting at.

    Would totally understand if you do fewer because of content or time, but wanted to add my voice to be chorus of those saying that we truly do love this blog and every single one of your updates.

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  10. I’ve been reading pretty much since the beginning but I don’t think I’ve ever commented on your blog 😬. I do occasionally IG message you though. I love your writing style and have made many purchases due to your influence. I was deeply involved in sporthorse breeding throughout college and worked in the breeding industry for several years until it burnt me out. I’ve continuously ridden, shown and been involved in horses despite having a “normal” job now and just recently stepped back into breeding on a very small, personal level – so your blog resonates with me tremendously.

    I love the thought of a lunge line lesson, I actually may take my gelding to my favorite dressage trainer and see if she will indulge me. I’m a hunter rider but take more dressage lessons than anything…I think I’d get a lot out of a few lunge sessions. Thanks for the idea!

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  11. Another long-time reader, but more of a lurker person! I read this daily on my lunch break, and love your style of writing. I think you tackle it with humor, candor, and humility (you don’t give yourself enough credit!). I feel like I know Henry and Presto, and follow a number of people, like WTW and Classics Eventing, on social media to keep up with the crew you’ve introduced us to.

    I am a lifelong horse person with way too many health problems and not enough skill to do what you do…. Although I had hoped to at one point in my life. I live vicariously through you! Thank you for keeping up with it as long as you have, and I hope it continues in whatever fashion.

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  12. I’ll add to the chorus of “I’m here just don’t usually comment”! I look forward to your blogs every day and have learned so much over the years. I now unabashedly preach the “know your helmet/body protector safety standards” gospel and love all your in-the-weeds breeding posts. I’m sure it’s a lot of time and effort on your part to come up with posts and media every day, so although it would be sad, I would understand if you decide to reduce the frequency. That being said I am 100% here for it if you dedicated more days to whatever breeding topics/particular sires/etc you are excited about at the moment.
    On an unrelated note I’m super jealous of your lunge lesson!! Have been wanting to do one for a while, but in my area it’s hard to find a good dressage trainer that also has a suitable lesson horse. Unfortunately the two horses I have to ride are 1) green and occasionally unpredictable or 2) already stiff/weak in the back and wouldn’t do well with my fumbling about trying to sit the trot for minutes at a time. If there are any fellow readers out here in central OH that know of good options lmk…

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  13. I’m another that reads nearly every day but I only comment when I have something useful to add or say! I admit I get a little lost in your bloodlines posts (I’m just not that into eventing breeding to follow it….but show me an Arabian’s pedigree and I can point out the various lineages, so I do understand….I just don’t always relate!). I actually get a little worried when you take a few unannounced day off of blogging, because you’re usually so reliable I always wonder if something’s wrong!

    But I absolutely LOVE your product and app recommendations, and without you I never would have found RideIQ, which is the best thing to happen to my late summer/fall riding! So at the very least please keep those up, as I often take your thoughts into consideration when buying things, ha.

    I suspect your available blog content will pick up when Presto comes back home. I’m looking forward to that! I’m also jealous of your lunge lesson, I had one with my previous dressage instructor but we weren’t able to schedule another before I moved. It was great for my position because I’ve spent so many years teaching my horse dressage that I’ve kind of forgotten about me.

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  14. Adding to the chorus of every day readers that don’t comment! Your blog makes for the best reading when I’m eating my sad desk work lunch. As someone with a young horse myself (year younger than Presto) I really like reading about the reasoning behind the decisions you’re making for him and his progress. I’m also a giant pedigree nerd with spreadsheets of how my favorite horses are bred, so I thoroughly enjoy all the breeding posts. The product recommendations and reviews are top notch, too. And who doesn’t like Foal Fridays! That said, completely understand if you want or need to back off on the blog, and I’ll still read even if it’s not an every day treat.

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  15. I’d be bummed if you reduced your number of posts. I’m starting to bring along my young mare and your comments of your experiences so far with Presto really up my level of psych on the typical weekday before I head out to the barn to ride her for the day. Not that I’m not psyched for my horse all on my own, but it’s nice to read the account of someone who’s in somewhat similar shoes.

    I also asked you about a spin bike a little while ago after I read that you’d been using one – I actually got one and have been going at it for the past 2 weeks, so thanks for that inspiration!. My upper body is naturally strong from a lot of barn work but I felt like I needed more lower body strength and cardio. I upped my ride times from 30 minutes to 40-45 this morning for the first time and now I know what my lungs taste like 😉 Ironically, it feels like my hips have been looser by the time I head to the barn for the afternoon…is that weird?

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      1. Yeah, I’m genuinely liking it! My body is more naturally inclined to lift heavy things vs go fast, so I’m really liking the cardio aspect to it as an alternative to trying to teach myself to run, haha!

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  16. Post when you can – we’ll be here. Besides the always entertaining Henry and Presto show, you’ve positively impacted a number of tack purchases with your insightful reviews. (Brockamp I’m looking at you ;D)

    Is that saddle a County by chance? Always loved their older models – the ones with bigger thigh blocks kind of freak me out, although I can see how they would stabilize.

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  17. well i bug you six ways from sunday whether here, texting, facebook or IG or just sending cosmic waves to you 🙂 I am glad you got so much out of that lunge lesson I am sore reading about it!! 🙂 keep on blogging!

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        1. Hi, I was 2Horses on there! I miss that forum, but thankfully a lot of the community is still intact after all these years! I was introduced to it shortly after I moved to the area, and so much good stuff happened as a result of it! Like when a bunch of us got involved in the very first Extreme Mustang Makeover, and the fun shows we used to host for Lynn Reardon and LOPE.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I can blame everything on Amanda when I moved to TX including THE 🙂 Not sure if you follow my blog but Fatbuckskin.com is the link! I do miss that board and ‘before Facebook” LOL

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  18. Like many of the others commenting today, I’m a long time reader but rarely ever comment. I look forward to reading your blog everyday, or occasionally “save them” for a boring day at work. In my area, there aren’t many eventers and far less that are around my age, dedicating their free time to this hobby, so your blog makes me feel a bit more like home :). I search your archive for recommendations and have purchased ALL.THE.THINGS for my little sensitive red dragon based on things you say work or are good quality for the cost.

    There seem to be less and less people sharing/updating blogs on riding (more specifically, eventing). I love hearing about what/how you’re riding as it helps me in my riding or maybe even the way I think about issues I’m having. I hope you continue to share with us all, lurkers or not.

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  19. Yeah, I’m another lurker, though I did comment once before (about your phone number on Presto’s stall sign).
    I check in everyday (and yes, I too get a little worried when you miss a couple of days) and I don’t even really ride anymore – turns out that dog agility is (kind of) cheaper than horses, so I went all in on that instead and just keep feeding my (very aged) pony.
    All that said, I really do love following along with you and the boys on all of your journeys, even though I’m not really riding anymore (do bareback/halter walks around the pasture looking for lost fly boots and masks count as riding? I don’t really think so). Henry shenanigans always make my day (Presto is awesome, too, but I have a terrible soft spot for the grumpy old guys). You’ve even managed to get me to buy a few sunshirts for agility judging (that black Free Ride one is calling my name SOO hard right now, darn you!).
    Understand if you need to back down on the posting frequency – just warn us all ahead of time, please!

    And I promise to drop into the comments from time to time, so you’ll know you aren’t posting into the void.

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  20. Another lurker here too 🙂 should learn to comment more. From the other side of the world so how you guys do some things a bit different always intrigues me too.

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  21. +1 for the lurker crowd, your writing is the best start to the day over a cup of coffee! You’re also one of the reasons I started blogging a few years ago (which can be darn hard work even for the casual weekly blogger!).
    Permission graciously granted to start blogging less frequently, if you must. Just know that if you stop entirely I’ll have to jump on a plane to ‘the americas’ to beg pathetically for you to reconsider 🙂

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  22. I enjoy your blog a lot. I comment very little but love hearing about the horses, reviews, bloodlines and everything else you cover. I understand if you cut back but it is nice to have one blog that shows up every work day!

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  23. Another lurker here. I love reading your daily blogs. I have learned a lot from your blog and hope that you continue on. I will strive to comment more often! I had actually typed out a great comment & attempted to post it earlier today, but it appears to have disappeared somewhere into the inter-web universe.

    Your lunge lesson looked awesome! So much fun! I have recently gone down the rabbit hole of biomechanics & Mary Wanless and am having a blast. Mary’s books & videos (a friend & I share a membership that gives us access to her videos & such) have been incredibly helpful. If you are wanting hands on biomechanics, check out JBH Eventing on Instagram.

    I am glad you are coming over to the dark side when it comes to dressage saddles. Not every dressage saddle has massive surface thigh blocks. I ride in a dressage saddle with thigh blocks that can be adjusted/angled under the flap. Overall though, with Presto being the big mover that he is, you will find that riding him in a dressage saddle will help you keep your body in a much better position when you are focusing on flatwork.

    Ok, this is the end of attempt #2 to post. I hope it goes though!

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  24. Look at all of us lurkers crawling out of the woodwork asking you to please keep posting daily! 😂 I love reading everything you post and I learn so much, I’m just not much of an interactive reader. Also, WordPress ate my first attempt at commenting so this whole comment thing obviously isn’t for me–just know that you are not speaking into a void!

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  25. Lurker crawling out of the woodwork with everyone else! I barely follow any horsey content these days (too depressing with all the awful riding/handling that goes on) and my own horses pretty much eat grass and get fat and run around the paddocks these days…but I LOVE your blog. I’ve commented on few IG posts, but will try and comment here more so you know we’re here!

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  26. I just want to say that I read nearly all of your blog posts and enjoy them greatly, though I seldom comment. I am sure there are many who do the same. I imagine, from your perspective, it may feel as though no one is out there but I am sure that there are a lot of folks like me, who read the blog but are either short on time and/or don’t feel they have anything important to add or comment on. As a dressage rider, I got a chuckle out for your dressage saddle observations. The same thing happened to me the first time I saw the need breed of dressage saddles with what was easy to mistakenly think those large thigh blocks would restrict your position or somehow interfere. Yes, the long thigh blocks are not my preference and I do find that, for me, the shorter (not flatter) blocks allow my knee to have a better angle but the larger thigh block is what helps you stay in the sweet spot; especially, on a horse that is using his back properly and in the more collected work at the higher levels. I am glad you got to experience that. It will help you in chosing a better dressage saddle and help yoy find that ‘feel’ needed to ride advanced, collected gaits. I ride in a Custom Saddlery Matrix model with a short thigh block and hybrid panels. It fits my upper level mare like a glove and is one of the most comfy saddles I have ever put my butt in.

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  27. I have not been able to ride in several years, so I seriously live vicariously through you! I love your posts and your horses! My kids know who Presto is and we talk about him when they spot a bay horse- “it looks like Presto!” As a busy person, I understand when people stop writing on their blogs but I miss them! I hope you will keep writing because I can’t wait to see where you go with your boys. If you ever make it to Aiken, SC I will come watch you ride!!

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  28. Another lurker! Though I do comment occasionally, just not that often. I really look forward to your posts every day. The past few days when you’ve been MIA I kept checking back to see if you’d posted yet! As others have pointed out, though, I get that it takes work to put together all these posts. But even the “everyday” ones that don’t have a big topic I still enjoy! Just do whatever frequency works for you, though my vote is for as often as I can get 🙂

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  29. First-time commenter, long-time lurker here as well, all the way from Sydney, Australia. Please don’t feel like you’re blogging into the void, I always feel like it’s a better day when I get a little peek into your universe. I’m on a riding break courtesy of two very young kids and so I’m living vicariously through your riding adventures right now. 🙂

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  30. Another quiet, but long time regular reader. I love the frequency of the blogs. Please keep doing it. I think we (I) may need a Bobby update. He has switched to dressage? A new horse? Please tell. Thank you!

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  31. Another lurker who rarely comments! I’ve been following along for so long, I just love the way you write, the stories you tell, and that you let us into your life! While Henry’s antics are ALWAYS entertaining, it’s been so heartwarming to follow Presto along…especially now to see him coming into his own as a real, adult horse after his so fragile beginning. I will always root for that big, goofy boy – I feel like a long distance aunt or something. Which is weird to say since you and I don’t even know each other. 😀 I’ll do better about commenting, but you do whatever you need to do for your own sanity.

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  32. I rarely, if ever comment, but I’m a longtime silent & creepy reader. 😆 Reading your blog every morning is something I look forward to every day. So I’m here for it! Please continue to write!!

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  33. Another person here who reads your blog every day! I’ve so enjoyed following Henry and Presto’s journeys, and you always have interesting and helpful tidbits. Thank you for sharing!

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  34. I just started taking dressage lessons again after a very long time away! I know your feelings! I was feeing stuck in a rut of only riding my horses and not continuing to learn new things and get better. Don’t get me wrong, I love riding my horses, but we know each other so well and you learn so much from riding others, especially different types. I rode a very different type for my first lesson last week!

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  35. Usually by the time I get to the end of the comments someone else has already said everything I was going to say, so I just “like” their comment instead. However, one thing I have noticed personally is that there are way too many people who post everywhere at the same time– FB, Insta, their own blog. Generally whichever platform I see first gets a “like” and that’s that. However, some folks, like you, put a lot more detail into their blog and I always read to the end of yours.

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  36. First time commenter also. Been reading faithfully everyday ever since baby presto days, I even read all the archive blog posts from the very beginning because I enjoy reading what you write.

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  37. I’ll add to all the comments. I read the blog religiously, but I’m not a huge commenter. I’m sorry about that. I can imagine that it really does feel like speaking into a void when no one comments. I’m honestly not sure how you have the energy to write all of the blogs, but thank you so much for doing it! I’ve become a breeding nerd and you are a huge reason as to why. I absolutely love your in the blood posts!! And obviously the foal Fridays are the best too. Just know we are here and we are reading! As someone else said, my husband even knows who you are. And I say that in the least creepy way possible. Ha!

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  38. Sliding into the comment section real late here, but I thought I might have a saddle suggestion that looks pretty similar to the one you rode Waren in. I ride in a Bates Isabel Werth at work, and it is A M A Z I N G. Little bit of a shorter knee block than the saddle you pictured, but still, if you don’t sit right, it screams at you in German. Very comfortable too and pretty versatile in terms of fit (adjustable, flocked), although I’ve mostly ridden Friesians in it, so can’t vouch for how it would sit on a giraffe. Even though the one at work is a full inch too big for me, I still sit better in it than in anything much else.

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