I got Mina’s health results and breed analysis results back from her Embark test (someone sent me a refer-a-friend code for $50 off ours so there’s one here if anyone else wants to use one too)! I have no idea how accurate any of this stuff is proven to be but I will say that they were pretty fast and the customer service was good.
Her health results didn’t really return anything significant. She’s a carrier for Progressive Retinal Atrophy but since it’s recessive she isn’t affected herself, and she’s not a breeding animal so that doesn’t really matter. She also has one copy of the variant for Alanine Aminotransferase Activity, which on their paperwork says “Mina has one copy of a variant associated with reduced ALT activity as measured on veterinary blood chemistry panels. Please inform your veterinarian that Mina has this genotype, as ALT is often used as an indicator of liver health and Mina is likely to have a lower than average resting ALT activity.”. So, more of an informational type thing.
Her breed results were a little more interesting. I was guessing she had some Pit for sure, maybe with some pointer or something. I wasn’t totally wrong.
I admit that I definitely didn’t see all that Cattle Dog coming though. That one threw me a bit. I mean… just looking at her I didn’t really see it.
My friend Megan (Luxe EQ owner Megan, not Presto Megan… there are too many Megan’s in my life including myself) is a big Cattle Dog aficionado and has them herself, and she said she wasn’t surprised by it at all. She gave me a crash course in the origins of ACD’s and sent me some info so I could do some more research. ACD’s basically descend from a mix of Border Collie, Dingo, Dalmatian, and Kelpie. Apparently it’s not that uncommon when you get a lot of mixing and intermingling with ACD/Border Collie/other similar breeds to get kind of a throwback look with the phenotype taking on more of the Dingo/Kelpie look than what we typically think of when we picture an ACD.
I was kind of amused by this, because I’ve been jokingly calling her a dingo for weeks now, thinking she looked like one especially in her posture and how she moves. Turns out I wasn’t far off.
Once Megan and I started talking characteristics and personality traits, Mina does seem to have a whole lot in common with the ACD’s. Apparently they like to perform high surveillance, the higher the better, which explains a lot about Mina’s couch-climbing habits. The dog sleeps on the arms of the couch like a gargoyle and more than once has considered trying to hop up on the counter.
They like to sleep upside down a lot for some reason (check), are energetic (check), mouthy but generally not destructive (check), loyal (check)… I mean there was a whole lot in common.
I definitely learned something new here, and having done a little research and talking to ACD people, the results are 100% believable, even if not quite what I was expecting. One thing we know for sure – she isn’t the “lab mix” the shelter had her down as LOL. We knew that already, but it’s cool to be able to put together some puzzle pieces about her ancestry!
The most exciting thing that happened this past weekend (at least if you ask Henry) is that someone got to dust off his XC boots and go for a whirl around his favorite stomping grounds.
It’s been… a hot minute since we went out XC schooling. Like I can’t even exactly remember the last time I took Henry, I think it was last fall or winter. It makes me sad to think it’s been that long, I don’t know where the time has gone or how that happened. I haven’t even thought about it really – Hillary asked if I was free and wanted to go, and I said of course. Naturally it ended up being one of the hottest days of the summer so far (it’s like Texas senses when you’re trying to have fun and then attempts to ruin it however possible) so we went early and I planned on taking it pretty easy with him. I figured we’d pop some warmup jumps, maybe a combination or two, and then canter around the Novice course. No pressure, nothing strenuous, just something to get our XC legs back and have some fun.
Hillary was stopping by to pick us up on her way to Pine Hill, so I gathered all of our stuff and made a pile on the driveway for quick and easy loading. It was kinda weird packing for XC again after it having been so long, I kept thinking I was forgetting something. Vest – check. XC boots – check. Figure 8 bridle – check. Breastplate – check. Neck strap – check. Saddle/pad/girth – check. Whip – check. Skull cap – check. I did forget to snap a pompom on the top though, so that was sad. And I didn’t even think about the helmet camera. Oops. I got all my stuff piled up, grabbed Henry to wait out front (he knew something was up) and when Hillary arrived we dropped the ramp, loaded Henry up, tossed my stuff in her tack room, and off we went.
We got there and left the horses in the trailer while we went to sign releases and pay, and Henry let his presence be known by screaming at the top of his lungs (he calls it “announcing his arrival”) a few times. He’s got a very distinctive, ear-piercing, high-pitched voice that is easily recognizable so I could definitely still hear him down by the office. By the time we unloaded and tacked up he knew exactly where he was and seemed delighted by the day’s agenda.
I got on and did a fairly quick warmup, not wanting to get him too hot. We stretched him out a bit, practiced opening and compacting his stride, making sure he was straight and between my hand and leg, etc. All the usual checkpoints before you start jumping. I came around and pointed him at a little blue box and he absolutely PINGED over it. This horse has zest for very few things in life (usually food) but cross country is one of them. After the blue box we popped a little rolltop then came around and cantered the first Novice fence, and he was feeling great and ready to go but was still super rideable too.
We started off walking around the Novice course, with Hillary jumping bits of it and the combinations. Since it was already quite hot I opted to save Henry for the end to string more stuff together, so we just hopped over a Training coop and then through the Training water combo.
They just redid the footing in the water and haven’t actually refilled it yet, and Henry’s mind was a little blown when he went to drop down the bank into the water and there wasn’t any water. It was like he hovered in midair for a second going “HOLY SHIT DID IT ALL GO DOWN THE DRAIN? AM I GONNA GO DOWN THE DRAIN TOO?”. He’s schooled that water so many times in his life, but never without actual water in it and it took him by surprise. I was amused.
After that we went over to the start box so I could string a little course together. I intended on just doing the first half or so of the Novice course, but once it went back into the woods I honest to god could not remember where the hell that course went. I ended up just kind of meandering around the paths and making up my own course as I went, which was like half N and half T. Worked out pretty well actually. He was in heat-seeking missile mode, so anything I pointed him at got jumped. He was very proud of himself by the end. We haven’t left the start box and cantered around a course on our own like that in a couple years now, so boy was it ever fun to get to do it again. There’s no more fun XC horse than Henry, even when he’s rusty.
I really need to make a point to get him out there more often. It’s gonna be hard to juggle two once Presto comes home but I’ll have to figure something out. Henry’s noticeably happier for days after he gets to go do some XC.
I sat down here to do my recap of last week’s happenings and had a hard time remembering what the heck even happened. How does last week already feel like such a long time ago?
Really though, I think between AEC and Bicton I spent most of my free time watching livestreams. The AEC one was bad for my blood pressure, they had a tendency to cut to commercial break or cut away to another ring/person RIGHT when the person I’d been waiting on was about to go. The only time their servers went down the entire time was precisely for the entirety of Tenny’s XC run and I don’t think I’ve ever yelled at a screen so much in my entire life. That was the one thing I wanted to see most, of course.
For a free livestream though I can’t complain too much, and overall we did get to see a lot, and at least something from every level. It gave me a little bit of FOMO (okay maybe not so much the first couple days when it was absolutely pissing rain) and extra sadness that Presto didn’t get to go. Then again I didn’t think the Novice looked particularly challenging, definitely not as technical as the course he did at Chatt, so… oh well. It was a beautiful show though and the courses were lovely, that’s for sure.
The Bicton live stream was great – good commentary and we got to see a lot of the course. The terrain was absolutely INSANE, that’s for sure, and the “bloodier” horses definitely seemed to fare better – the average blood percentage of the top 10 was 62%, and the average of the top 5 was 66%. Some horses just plain ran out of gas 3/4 of the way around after going up and down so many hills.
I did think it was interesting how many times the pin at the bounce coffin gave way – often on only one side. Of all the times it went, only one horse really whacked it particularly hard. Most just scraped over the top with the hind end the way XC horses often do when jumping into coffin questions like that, but they certainly would not have fallen or even stumbled if the pin hadn’t gone. Lots of 11 penalties where it wasn’t deserved, IMO. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of discussion comes about after all these penalties that have happened on the big stage lately.
The other highlight from Bicton was seeing Gemma Tattersall finally win a 5*. I feel like she’s a bit of a kindred spirit with that pompom up there on her XC helmet. Pom Club things. If Gemma can ball around a 5* to win it like a complete boss bitch in her lavender and white pompom helmet cover, the haters can definitely STFU about mine.
Otherwise the only interesting things to happen last week were the acquisition of a few new things. Free Ride had a sale so I finally caved and ordered the black shirt that I’ve been eyeballing for months. It has a little tone on tone stripe down the arm/side and sparkly glitter mesh so duh, I needed it. I do honestly need a few more shirts that are more fitted for when I tuck them in, so that plus sale plus free shipping seemed to justify it in my mind.
It’s a cute shirt for sure, although the fabric is a bit thick for a sunshirt, IMO. I’d call it more of a baselayer. Which works fine for me because I’ll be able to wear it more over the coming months. It’s really nicely fitted and Free RIde shipped the same day I ordered, big props to them there. I’ve always heard good things but this was my first time ordering from them.
The week before that, when I was still high off my $40 amazon breeches find, I had ordered a show shirt from another Amazon company. I found it kind of by accident, hidden in a listing for sunshirts. They had navy and gray, both with full mesh sleeves, so I took a shot and ordered the navy one. The all mesh sleeve is really appealing to me because I’m pretty much always at shows that are hot, so I wear my Motionlite coats, but if you wear a short sleeve shirt under those you can always see the line really easily, which drives me nuts in pictures. The mesh sleeve seemed like a good compromise – you’d get the bit of white cuff at the wrist from the long sleeve, and the sleeve would be a nice flat smooth profile under the arm of the coat, but the mesh would be cooler than a regular long sleeve. In theory, anyway. I didn’t have super high hopes for a $30 shirt but figured what the heck it was worth a shot.
This one is another winner though, for sure. The fabric is nice – thin and stretchy, and the mesh sleeves are REALLY cool and breathable. The fit is great for a show shirt too, not too boxy. I immediately went back to order the gray one but it’s sold out in my size right now. I think these things will be magical for warm weather shows. The mesh is delicate obviously so my dumpster fire self will have to be a little careful not to rip it, but also… they’re $30.
The other acquisition/upgrade last week was my running martingale clip rings. Presto is jumping in a running right now, but I sold my last running attachment (Henry used one when he was greener and more, uh, enthusiastic too, but settled out of needing it) a couple years ago. I grabbed a cheap $6 adjustable running attachment from someone on facebook one day so I’d at least have something for when he comes back. I dunno about y’all though but I freaking HATE having to unbuckle reins to run them through the rings (ain’t nobody got time for that) so I wanted clip-on ones like the Prestige and CWD runnings have. Stacie pointed out that duh you can just buy the rings by themselves (I got mine on the same Amazon order as my shirt, it was $7 for 5 rings) and convert any running to the clip-on ring style. She’s a genius. All hail Stacie.
It was as easy as cutting the old rings off with bolt cutters, then sliding the new ones on. Took all of 30 seconds maybe.
I got the 40mm, which are a little bigger than the rings that came on the running to start with, but I figured I’d rather them be slightly bigger so it was easier to clip them on and off over raised reins.
That was definitely the cheapest and easiest upgrade that I’ve done in a really long time. Unbuckling reins is for the birds, man.
We did get to do one other fun thing this weekend too but it gets it’s own post tomorrow! Hope y’all had a good long weekend.
It’s become a bit of a game to find little toys and things to show the babies. It keeps things fun, and them seeing some scary stuff now when they’re little seems to help build their confidence and bravery for the future. Plus, ya know, it’s entertaining as heck.
This time the toys of choice were a little dog tunnel and a flower bubble machine. Right off the bat the babies spotted the human with the interesting new things and came up to scope them out. Ladies first of course, because they’re always the most bold.
The girls weren’t really all that impressed with the bubbles, to be fair. They sniffed it once and then wandered off bored. Obi, however, was skeptical of the death acid balls (his words) that it was shooting out at a very high rate of speed.
You know who was a big fan of it, though? Mr. Percy. He LOVED the bubbles. He marched right up there, gave it a sniff, and then just keep standing there letting the bubbles accumulate around him.
When the machine ran out of bubble solution and shut off he almost seemed sad about it.
As for Patrick, he wasn’t really convinced that any of this business was safe or wise to participate in. He prefers to spectate all the various tomfoolery, thank you very much. If he was a human he’d always be the designated driver of the friend group, I think.
The girls didn’t really get that interested in this particular play day until the tunnel came out. Now THAT looked like it was worth investigating.
Especially once it got popped open and laid out to full size. They immediately had to scope it out.
At first (for, ya know, at least 15 seconds) they were a little skeptical of it, but it didn’t take long before it became basically a jungle gym. Especially for Teddy. Because Pony.
She’s now stomped it, sat on it, run over top of it, jumped over it, and scared the boys with it. What better toy could a girl want?
Y’all know I can’t resist a 5* field, and Bicton being a bit of a one-off plus containing a fair number of first time 5* starters, I definitely had to take a closer look at the field. It’s a small group for a 5*, we started with 39 entries and are down to 33 as of this writing, but there are still some interesting horses and breeding to look at here. The course looks great, H&C will be livestreaming – what more could you want?
The first thing that stood out to me was the number of horses that have a full TB parent. There aren’t any full TB’s in the field, but 11 horses (33% of the field) have one full TB parent. As far as which side of the pedigree the blood is on, it’s split pretty evenly – 5 have a full TB sire and 6 have a full TB dam. If you go back one more generation, an additional 6 horses have a full TB damsire and another 3 have a full TB sire’s sire. Even with no full thoroughbreds in the field, the importance of TB blood in the modern event horse is still very evident, and it doesn’t necessarily seem to matter where in the pedigree the blood comes from. None of them share the same thoroughbred either – you see everything from the classic sires like Imperius xx and Hand in Glove xx to more modern sires like Tajraasi xx.
The average blood percentage for the field is 60%, higher than the usual 55-56ish that we’re used to seeing at the European 5*’s. MHS King Joules (by Ghareeb xx out of a Cavalier Royale/Morwood xx mare) has the highest blood percentage, around 84%, and Finduss PFB (by Saffier out of a Sarantos/Purioso mare) is the lowest around 33%.
As far as where they were bred, as usual Ireland gets to stake the biggest claim, with 48% of the field having been bred in Ireland. Despite that, only three of the 16 Irish-breds are fully of traditional Irish breeding, the other 13 have continental European warmblood heritage (mostly Selle Francais and Holsteiner – the magical combination). Of the three traditionally bred Irish Sporthorses, they have a lot of blood in there to balance to Irish Draught – Alfies Clover is 72% TB, Diamond Ructions is also 72% TB, and Majas Hope is 77% TB. The other two countries that have bred the most entrants are Great Britain and Nederlands, with 6 horses each.
While none of the horses in the field share the same sire, we do see a few stallions appearing in multiple horses’ pedigrees. Clover Hill shows up in 4 different horses, once as the sire’s sire, twice as the damsire, and once as the dam’s damsire. Namelus R is the sire’s sire of two horses, with Rock King and Cavalier Royale in the damsire spot for two horses.
We see a lot of jumper bred horses in the field, as usual, as well as some purpose-bred eventers. Top level 1.60m showjumper stallions Carambole, Iroko, Camiro de Haar Z, Hermes de Reve, Touchdown, and Tangelo vd Zuuthoeve are the sires of one horse each. Advanced level eventing stallions Mill Law and Jumbo both have one offspring each, and 5* eventing stallions Oslo Biats and Chilli Morning also have one each. Interestingly perhaps for US breeders, there are two sires of horses in this field that are now over here breeding in North America – Valentino (sire of VIP Vinnie) and Billy Mexico (sire of Billy Walk On).
Looking on the damside we also see some excellent performance horses. RSH Contend Or’s dam showjumped to 1.60m level and Fonbherna Lancer’s dam showjumped to 1.40m level. Two horses in the field have top level eventing dams – Chilli Knight out of 5* mare King’s Gem, and Mr Fahrenheit out of 5* mare Little Tiger.
In addition to performance mares we also see some who didn’t compete in sport themselves but have proven to be tremendous producers. MHS King Joules’ dam produced 10 foals – 2 eventers competing 3* and 5* and 5 showjumpers competing from 1.30m up to 1.60m. HHS Noble Call’s dam produced 5 foals – one 4* eventer and 4 showjumpers competing from 1.35m through 1.60m. Pencos Crown Jewel’s dam has also produced a whopping THREE 1.60m showjumpers. Billy Walk On’s dam produced 3 other eventers that have competed through 3* level. Mr Farenheit’s dam Little Tiger has also produced another 4* eventer, making her a excellent producer as well as a top performance horse. The same can be said of Chilli Knight’s dam King’s Gem, who already has produced one other 5* eventer a well as a 3* eventer.
I can’t wait to see how this new course shakes out and who finds themselves on top at the end. Who are your Bicton picks?
If there’s one thing I’m passionate about, it’s supporting the people and programs that I really believe in. And, as you may have noticed, I’m a big fan of the Willow Tree Warmbloods breeding program. I mean, I’m part of it so I’m biased, and Presto bears the WTW suffix, but ya know. I’m proud of what Michelle has built so far and am very proud to rep the farm and happy to help put the name out there as much as possible. Therefore, I have a lot of WTW logo stuff.
As Presto begins to wind down his time in training, and the transition back over to me becomes more and more real, I find myself doing a weird equestrian version of nesting and prepping. I can’t really do anything right now except think about what we might do and where we might go next year. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I have no problem being a walking advertisement for WTW. Plus, like, the logo that Britt made is pretty sweet, so why not show it off. I’ve slowly been adding bits and pieces to my WTW apparel and equipment.
When Presto was a wee baby mostly I had stuff like a grooming towel, and a scrim sheet, and a polo shirt… stuff I could use when he was showing in hand. Plus the decals on my truck and trailer. Now that he’s a bonafide Real Horse it’s time to start expanding a bit. He got his fancy bonnet back when he went to Megan, because ya know… gotta have a fancy hat. I love his bonnet and how professional it looks, and I think the logo turned out great (it came from Equine Bonnets and only took a week – highly recommend). Otherwise though he wears Megan’s logo stuff, since obviously it’s easier for her to use her own pads and whatnot, and fair enough for her to also rep her own program.
But now that he’s headed back to me soon, I figured it’s time to start expanding on both his and my stuff and add a few pieces at a time so that we’re fully locked and loaded and logo’d to death by the time we ever actually hit a horse show. That’s part of the point, right? Pretty sure.
I’ve been needing to buy him some saddle pads anyway – all I’ve got are Henry’s sheepskin-lined ones and Presto can’t wear those because he needs the shimmable half pad. Oddly out of all the things I collect, saddle pads are not one of them. I have very few. But seeing Megan’s Pro Choice saddle pads this year, I actually really liked them, so I got him one of their XC ones – white with navy trim. Which…. uh… I kinda forgot until this moment that he needs pads for stadium and dressage too so good job self. You can see what phase I care about most. Anyway, I did order him the XC pad already anyway, and I definitely plan on having the WTW logo put on it. I just can’t decide which way I prefer the logo.
On one hand, the top one sits nicely with the shape of the pad and the text is bigger/easier to read, but the bottom is the classic WTW logo format and is more recognizable. There’s also room beside it to pin my bridle number if I don’t want it on his head or breastplate. Pros and cons. I put it to an Instagram poll but the results were almost 50/50 so that didn’t help much. The only thing I’ve decided for sure is that it’ll have the logo on one side and his name on the other.
I also snagged a banner and a stall sign on super sale from Vistaprint, we’ll see how they turn out.
The whole world will definitely know about WTW if I have anything to say about it. Like people will be begging me to stop soon. No shame in my game.