Oocytes and Upgrades

Is there any point in saying “last week was busy” anymore? Let us just assume that all weeks are busy until proven otherwise. Right now at least I am listening to the glorious sound of RAIN on my roof (and ok, some thunder rattling the house) for the first time in forever. The horses are stuck inside for the day, which is more work for me, but boy does the ground and the grass ever need the moisture. I am certainly far less excited about the freezing temps and frozen precip that they’re projecting for later this week though. I swear to god ERCOT, if you do me dirty again we’re gonna throw hands. They’re projecting almost the same energy usage as last year’s event, but… please no. No more Little House on the Prairie experiences for me thanks. I cannot.

In better news, Gemma got a major pen upgrade. She’s supposed to be on small paddock/quiet turnout or stall rest, and since we didn’t know her temperament when we got her, we went with a pretty small pen, about the size of a double stall. She’s proven herself to be quite sensible though and I wanted her to have a bit more room to walk around and get her blood/gut moving, so we moved all the round pen panels (what a fun task THAT is) out to the front pasture to give her a corner out there that’s more the size of a true small paddock.

Still too small for her to build up any speed or get running, but enough for her to move around a bit more easily, and about 4-5x bigger than the pen before. That corner is also basically the only place left on the property at this point with green grass, and I’m pretty sure she barely lifted her head once yesterday. Far more interested in stuffing her face than anything else. That front pasture has a 3 slot shed in it, so we set her pen up to include one of the slots, and then Henry and Quinnie have the rest of that pasture and the other two slots. So she can still see them at all times, and everyone has access to shelter if need be (although they don’t get to go out there today because lightning is a big no thanks for me).

Moving horses to new turnouts is always fun (insert human sarcasm) and the low 30’s temps yesterday morning made it even better. When they’re turned out in the middle pasture I just let Henry and Quinnie out of their stalls and they walk out themselves, and then I would lead Gemma to her pen. But to get to the front pasture we have to go around the house, which requires leading them a ways away. And with 3 horses if you take them individually you end up leaving someone alone somewhere at some point, which is pure chaos fuel, so I opted to just lead them all out together.

Jurassic World — “Blue, stand down. Delta, I see you, back up....
me trying to lead all 3 of these morons but with halters and lead ropes attached

Quinnie, on the right, pranced and snorted the entire way out. Henry, in the middle, kept trying to weave around one or the other mares and bite them on the butt. Gemma, on my left, kept looking around to try to find what the hell Quinnie was snorting about while also trying to stay far enough away to dodge Henry’s teeth. Once I got them all in the pasture and turned around and shut the gate, I let Quinnie go first. She cantered a few circles but then settled down to eat. I waited a minute and then let Henry go. Which was… something. He ran, he leaped, he snorted like a wild Arabian stallion in a Disney movie, he bucked, he farted. For a 15yo horse that gets ridden a lot it was pretty impressive.

I was still holding Gemma, waiting for Henry to settle so I could walk her past them and over to her paddock. To her immense credit, she didn’t even flinch the whole time Henry performed his various theatrics. She just stood there grazing, quietly watching him act a fool. Smart girl. Once Henry and Quinnie settled down I took Gemma over and let her go. She wandered one slow lap of her perimeter, then immediately started stuffing her face. Not even so much as a snort. Best behaved horse of the day award goes to the 5yo fresh of the track mare that’s been on rest for a month.

Since Henry was so batshit he got to go for a long gallop with Hillary yesterday, which I think he needed. He came back much less full of himself, at least. And Hillary’s pics came in from the schooling jumper rounds the previous weekend… how friggin CUTE are these two?

She’s always hard on herself and critical, I think we all are, but in all actuality she’s figuring him out so quickly, and he seems to really enjoy having a new person to manipulate, er, torment, er, teach things to. I think it’s working out well for all of us. It makes me very happy to see my best boy teaching someone else, she’s getting to do some bigger stuff and stay sharp while Lex is away at training, and Henry has got her so very thoroughly wrapped around his little hoof at this point that his cookie quota has basically quadrupled. Plus he gets to lash someone else in the eyeball with his tail along with all the various other “cool tricks” in his repertoire. Perks all around. Hopefully they’ll get to leave the start box together at some point soon, if the weather ever cooperates.

If he looks extremely smug in his BEMER it’s because he absolutely fucking is

Let’s see, what else has happened in the past week… oh yeah, Grace update! When we last left off I had taken her up to the breeding specialist’s clinic early because I had a hunch that she was getting ready to start cycling. My hunch was correct – she indeed was starting her transitional cycle, and they were able to collect 15 oocytes from her for ICSI (there’s a video explaining ICSI here if you’re unfamiliar with the process, or here’s an article with the basics). 15 is quite a good number, higher than average, and of those they had 10 that were viable enough to inject with the sperm… average is 5-7. Getting in there on the transitional cycle often yields a higher amount like that, so the timing was superb. Now we wait to see how many grow into viable embryos! They average about 30% typically, so we’ll see. Would be great if we could get 3 to transplant into recipients and have a better shot at getting actual live foal(s).

And who was the lucky suitor to provide said swimmers?

Ireland-based stallion Jackaroo, who is 96% TB and full brother to very successful 5* horses Mandiba and High Kingdom. His pedigree is impeccable for eventing, and putting the Master Imp xx/Chair Lift xx lines on a Q/Cavalier Royale/Clover Hill mare is an extremely proven and very Irish nick. Jackaroo himself doesn’t have a lot of foals on the ground yet, but the ones he does have look promising as youngsters. I think this could potentially be a very good match. Fingers crossed for a baby or three!

On the subject of mares, I also added a new design to the Barn Dog store this weekend. Couldn’t resist. I’m quite enjoying being a mare owner again finally, in case you couldn’t tell. I mean I feel like in spirit Henry definitely counts as a mare, but, ya know. Not officially.

And last but not least, my top 10 songs of January, because I always seem to find common ground with someone over music. Did the Loveless cover of Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever just come out a week ago? Yes. Was it still my most listened to song of the month because I’ve had it on repeat since it came out? Also yes.

Hope everyone had a good weekend! Happy Monday?

Just a Quick One (and a Thank You)…

Busy morning today, but I wanted to pop in real quick just to say thanks for all the messages and comments from yesterday’s Presto post. As usual he’s got a lot of people in his corner, and that counts for a lot. His Osteon arrived yesterday and his “team” in Midland is figuring out what his schedule will be for his therapies, so it’s very relieving to finally have some answers, a positive prognosis, and be moving forward with a plan. Very appreciative of how many people care about him and are invested in his success/future/life in general. It’s definitely lessened the weight on my shoulders. He’s lucky he’s cute.

I mean he’s not THIS cute anymore but he’s still pretty cute

A few people yesterday also asked for some Presto/Willow Tree Warmbloods swag. At this point I feel like Presto really is a WTW ambassador of sorts, so in my mind Presto swag and WTW swag are one in the same. He is the first WTW horse to hit the show ring after all, and part of the oldest crop. He reps his program (and thus his people) all the time wherever he goes, from his name to his saddle pad to his scrim sheet to his ring bag, and naturally my life revolves around WTW as well since I’ll soon be a resident of WTW East. So for those that were interested, I added some WTW stuff to the Barn Dog Apparel store… womens tees, unisex tees, long sleeves, hoodies, stickers, and a wine tumbler (if I was a drinker I would def be needing that wine tumbler right about now). Just scroll to the bottom of the storefront on the main page… I tried to give lots of color options too.


For everyone who asked about the BEMER I’m happy to put you in touch with Hillary, who is a distributor, just shoot me a PM. I’ve been meaning to do a BEMER post since we’ve been using it regularly on the horses at home… maybe next week! Also trying my best to finally get that “Where are they now” Foal Friday update post ready for y’all next week. I swear I haven’t forgotten, just… things. Things and stuff. I have a pretty exciting Grace update too! It feels like I can breathe a little bit again now at least… and perhaps not stuff all my emotions into Little Debbies (or not as many/as often, anyway…).

Happy Friday!

The Presto Update

A lot of you (like a lot) have been asking me for a Presto update for a while, and the truth is that he’s been a bit… complicated, and I was waiting until I had some kind of actual resolution before I threw all this word vomit out into the void. Plus I just legit could not handle talking about it while there was still so much uncertainty. In the meantime I’ve been emotionally spiraling pretty freaking hard (did I binge eat like 5 boxes of Little Debbie’s in a week and impulse purchase an OTTB to cope with my variety of emotions? Perhaps. Despair tastes like swiss cake rolls, just FYI.) and if I was rude to anyone who asked about him, I’m sorry, please understand that mentally I’ve been in a very bad dark place about this whole thing for like a month. It’s a lot better now that we know what’s going on and it’s not what I had feared, but y’all know how this stuff goes with horse people. I was replaying the worst case scenario over and over in my mind for weeks.

if there’s an award for most money spent on vet bills in a 5 year period, surely he has to win it

Anyway, this is gonna be a long one so buckle up. When we last left off with our giant intrepid baby hero (ish) he had a very minor suspensory strain that needed a couple months rest. He was sound, the leg was cold and tight, the prognosis was excellent, we did some shockwave to help things along, and everyone was feeling pretty good about things. His final scan appointment was made to check on things one more time before he got the all clear to return to work, and he showed up to that appointment dead-ass lame… ON THE OTHER LEG. The original injury looked fantastic and was clearly not the issue, but now we had to figure out wtf was going on in the other leg. In all this time he has never been lame, so this was a confusing curveball to say the least.

the shockwave was fun anyway

Flexions and hooftesters didn’t show a whole lot. He was a bit reactive to the hooftesters (well, that kind of borderline where you’re like was that a reaction or has he just lost his patience) so the vet was like well his feet seem a bit sore, lets give him a couple weeks, get some films of his feet, get him reshod, pack his feet, etc. We did the films, which looked pristine, talked to the farrier, and we gave him a couple more weeks.

He went back and was still quite lame on that left front. He was no longer reacting to hooftesters, so we did some scans, took some more films of other parts of the leg, and tried some blocking. Again the scans were clear, his xrays looked great (at this point I have xrays of like both front legs in their entirety and they’re beautiful, which is kind of a surprise in and of itself given his size and his history, so there’s that?), and the only thing that really showed up on the blocking is that when he did the coffin bone the lameness definitely improved. It didn’t go away entirely, but it improved. My options were: inject the coffin bone, give him 10 days, and recheck, or – send him straight to MRI for definitive diagnostics. MRI is obviously hella freaking expensive. I asked the vet how optimistic he felt about the coffin injection being the solution and he was 50/50 on it. I asked if he would want to do the coffin injection either way, and he said yes. So I opted to inject the coffin bone and gave him another week.

Presto went back for his next checkup and showed a slight improvement, but not much. Definitely still lame on the LF. At this point it was clear that an MRI was inevitable if we wanted a definitive answer, but the vet needed to try to pinpoint exactly what parts to order the MRI for. This meant we needed to do more blocking. Again he started at the bottom, but this time Presto got LAMER as the blocks went along. It was very weird, and something the vet said he’s only seen happen a time or two before. He took some films of the elbow just to make sure we weren’t missing a cyst or something wild (I told you I now have films of the legs in their entirety), and at that point we had to call off anything else for the day because now his entire leg was blocked and we still had no clue. Another appointment was made for a week later where we’d start over and try the blocks again.

This time he did respond normally to the blocking, and showed some improvement to blocking at the foot and ankle. The vet ordered the MRI for basically everything below the knee on the LF just to be sure, and the appointment was made for a week later. At this juncture we were all thinking that he likely had a soft tissue injury in the foot (probably DDFT or collateral ligament) which is a big deal and potentially career-altering or even career-ending. I’ve had a not-great experience with a collateral ligament injury in the past, and I was replaying that whole thing over and over in my head on repeat. I was already trying to prepare myself for the fact that his eventing career could well and truly be over before it really even began, and I had to make some kind of peace with it. Plus all of this was costing me a stupid amount of money, which is stressful in and of itself. All of that is why I spiraled pretty hard and did NOT like being asked about Presto in general by anyone outside of my inner circle that already knew all the details. I was trying to cope with the loss of a dream that I feared was coming, and everyone asking for Presto updates on social media was just kind of twisting the knife in deeper (not anyone’s fault, totally understand why people were asking, just explaining why I mostly did not respond or may have been testy about it, depending on the day. Sorry for that. This is the downside to being so public.).

Since I paid a stupid amount of money for the MRI we may as well take a little spin through some of the images, yes?

So he went last week for the MRI. Which, cue some panic about the anesthesia and all the risks associated with that, plus the cost, plus the absolute cinderblock of dread that had been sitting in my stomach for weeks at what the images might show us. He got dropped off on Thursday for his MRI on Friday, so I knew I wouldn’t hear anything until Monday. I spent most of the weekend just trying not to think about it to be honest.

On Monday I heard from Megan (poor Megan has had to coordinate all this and take him to all of his 9000 vet appointments plus deal with me and Presto and all of our emotions) that the vet had called her and given her an initial diagnosis, but he had some follow-up questions for the radiologist and was waiting to call me to give me the full rundown until those got answered. So what was the initial diagnosis? A bone bruise to P2… an unusual place for a bone bruise and something the vet had never seen before. NATURALLY. Because Presto. But my initial reaction was immense relief, because at least it wasn’t “tear of xyz soft tissue”, which is what we all had feared.

How to Achieve A Sounder Horse | Horse Journals
just in case you need a reminder of where P2 is

I finally heard from the vet on Tuesday afternoon, and we had a good discussion. The short version of it is that Presto does indeed have a bone bruise on P2, which is very uncommon (I swear to god if one more vet uses the term “medical mystery” in relation to this horse I am going to freaking lose it). Usually bone bruises occur in P3 (not uncommon in jumpers, eventers, or any horses that take a lot of repeated impact to the ground, especially hard surfaces) or P1 (common in racehorses due to the repeated heavy impact on that area of the leg while galloping). P2 doesn’t take impact from the ground the way that those bones do, so it’s most likely that this one is from an impact or repeated impacts with an actual object directly to the area. We’ll circle back to that. He said that the prognosis was very good for full return to work with no lasting effects, and that the treatment recommendation was 90 additional days of rest, one injection of Osphos, and Osteon for the duration.

I had an immediate “ugh no” feeling at the Osphos recommendation, and questioned the vet about it. He said he understood my concerns but that he had never seen any issues using Osphos within his practice on horses age 4 and up. It can absolutely be a great drug and extremely beneficial (it’s intended to be a navicular treatment but is often used for other bone-related things), but there is a lot of debate surrounding how old a horse should be before they can safely receive it or what things it should be used for. There’s an article here if you want to read some of it for yourself or if you haven’t seen it before. But basically some of the concern is that with young horses it can interrupt the body’s ability to lay down proper bone, and cause damage to still-developing bone at the microscopic level. Obviously this can lead to structural weaknesses later down the line.

A very large, very growthy not-quite-5yo

Y’all, I struggled with this one. I struggled a lot. The official recommendation is age 4, some vets prefer age 5, others prefer age 6. Presto is a couple months shy of 5. On one hand, it’s just one injection and most of the issues they’ve seen have come from repeated use in 2 and 3yo racehorses. On the other hand, Presto is a very very large, very much still growing young horse, and the thought of potentially causing damage to the bones that are still developing (which are important ones like spine and neck) is just… I can’t do it. It would probably be fine but my gut says no and I’m opting to go with my gut. Even if the risk is very minimal, I don’t think I can sleep at night thinking about it. I’d have nightmares of bones with holes in them.

I talked to several of my friends that I deeply respect, and got opinions on Osphos usage in this case from several other vets. The vets were split pretty much down the middle on whether or not they would use Osphos for this. A couple said absolutely unhesitatingly yes, a couple said absolutely positively not. I think that alone gave me my answer. It’s just too much risk for me to feel comfortable with, and not enough potential benefit. Would the bone bruise heal faster with Osphos? Probably, yes. But at the end of the day I’d rather give him more time off, even if it ends up being significantly more time, and not take the risk. He’s young, there’s no rush.

After talking it over more, in the end we landed on 30 days of Equioxx, Osteon for the duration, plus Magnawave and Theraplate. He’ll get 90 days rest in a small paddock, at which point we’ll do another lameness exam and see where we’re at. He might be good to go by then, or he might need longer. Bone bruises take a while to heal, so it’s hard to say for sure how long it’ll be. The excellent and extremely relieving news is that it should heal just fine.

Now, let’s circle back to how exactly we think this happened. If you know Presto at all, you know that his left front foot is his “chaos” foot, in that it’s the one he prefers to use to create all manner of chaos. He likes to put it on things, in things, and whack stuff with it when he’s bored. He’ll stand on fences with his left foot, he’ll put it in buckets and troughs, he’ll whack stall doors or trailer walls with it if he’s bored or feels like he’s being ignored. So it’s very likely that, in the course of resting for his RF suspensory, he found enough trouble with his other foot to where he actually managed to hurt himself for real. This is not hard for me to imagine at all, I have watched him stand there at horse shows and repeatedly whack that exact spot on his foot into his buckets for no other reason than the fact that chaos is his jam. He’s sneaky about it too… if you yell at him he’ll just wait until you leave and resume his mission. Pain does not seem to deter him.

Proof that the LF is and always has been his chaos foot

After talking to a few people about it, I’ve decided to send him up to Michelle’s for his rest time. She has perfectly sized small paddocks there, neighbors right next to him all the time, there’s plenty to look at and to keep him company, and it’s pretty darn hard for him to whack his foot on her fences. Plus she has friends with Magnawave and Theraplate nearby, so it’ll be easy for him to have quick and more frequent access to those therapies. And obviously Michelle knows him really well, so I trust her to look after him. And instead of sending Gemma up to Michelle’s, Gemma can just stay here where she’s already settled in well. Change of plan, but I think it works better and makes sense.

While this whole situation has been stressful enough to take a few years off my life, and expensive enough to legit make me curl up in a ball in the corner (heeeey, anyone want to buy some shirts or a BEMER? Ha. Ha. Hahabutreallytho.) I’m extremely relieved to finally have an answer and have it not be nearly as bad as I had feared. In my head I had resigned myself to Presto only being a dressage horse and while I tried to make peace with that, I’ll admit it was a very hard sell to myself. Please no. Kid wants to run and do jompies, and so do I. With any luck he’ll be back in full swing by summer, assuming we can keep him from committing further chaos-inflicted damage to himself. Fingers crossed.

Gemma’s First Outing

This past weekend was originally meant to be a jumper schooling show at Scissortail for Hillary & Henry and myself & Grace. But then I ended up taking Grace to the breeding farm a bit early (glad I did, last count she had about 20 follicles for them to pull for ICSI attempts!) and then that wicked cold front blew in, prompting them to cancel the show since it was supposed to be 20 degrees and windy on show morning when all the lower level kiddos would have gone. In lieu of the show, the facility was kind enough to replace it with some afternoon jumper schooling rounds and Open XC schooling, free of charge, and the photographer that was going to shoot the show offered free black background photo sessions (you just pay for whatever pictures you want edited).

Ooo GIF - Justintimberlake Ohh Wow - Discover & Share GIFs

Really awesome of them to offer that – support your local show facilities! – and honestly it kinda worked out better for us anyway. Hillary and Henry could just go in the afternoon, they’d set the jumps to whatever height she wanted, and she could be in and out quickly. And then I got to thinking… hmmm… it’s really tempting to get some photos done of Gemma. She’s still got weight to gain and all that, but having a few nice shots of her from the beginning would be fun. I asked Hillary if it was crazy to want to take Gemma for photos, and while I’m not really sure if this is a pro or con to our friendship, she was totally down with my idea, listing several other totally valid reasons why it made sense.

That Sounds Like A Horrible Idea. What Time? - RedBarn Tees
much of our friendship can be summed up with this, tbh

So on Saturday afternoon we loaded up Henry and Gemma, and off we went on her first little adventure as a “sporthorse”. She loaded in the trailer great (almost too great, she’ll run your ass over if you walk up there too slow) and make the 25 minute trip like a champion. She ate her hay and was quiet and polite even when Henry made some grumpy faces at her. They were pretty cute.

When we got there we left them on the trailer for a few minutes while we went to check in at the office, and then came back and unloaded Gemma first, then Henry. This facility sits kind of at the top of a hill and there is LOTS to see – arenas, cross country, barns, horses, trailers, a busy highway… a lot of horses are a bit overwhelmed at first. Gemma definitely was a bit wide-eyed (weirdest racetrack she’d ever seen) so we just walked around near the trailer and let her get an eyeful of things. As long as she was polite she was welcome to look, or to walk around. She thought a couple times about doing a little yeehaw but with a reminder she kept her feet on the ground and was respectable about it.

The first order of business was the photo shoot. I figured if we were going to get a few of Gemma then we may as well get a few of Henry too, and it made sense to do the photos before he was ridden. We found Meaghan, the photographer, and hoofed it up to the covered arena to get the pictures. Gemma was really good at posing and seems to look cute from every angle (so photogenic), and the photographer got A LOT of really good ones. It was very hard to narrow it down from her proofs, but she made us a very very affordable package deal so we got several of her and a couple of Henry. I can’t wait to see what the final edited photos look like… I think this is my favorite proof.

yep we bought this one for sure!

You guys will definitely be seeing all of them when they’re done.

The photo shoot seemed to help settle Gemma a bit, and she was less wide-eyed when we went back out to the trailer. Hillary tacked up Henry and got on him, and we ventured with them towards the warmup and the jumping ring, which is where Gemma ended up spending most of her time. We stood near the warmup (and even in the warmup a bit while I set jumps for Hillary and Gemma did her best to knock them right back down with her nose), we stood near the ingate, and at the edge of the XC field beyond. If she wanted to graze I happily let her, but if she started to get antsy or upset then we just walked for a minute until she settled and wanted to graze again.

She was on edge a few times, and standing still for long periods wasn’t possible, but she never lost her marbles or wound up or got naughty at all. Considering she’s a 5yo TB that’s been on stall rest or in a tiny pen for the past 3 weeks and at her first “show-like” experience, I was quite pleased with her. Gemma definitely wants to be a good girl, and I think that’s 90% of the equation at the end of the day. Hillary did a couple classes while I videoed (with mixed results) and then she tossed on a vest and went out on the XC just to gallop a few jumps and jump down the bank. Gemma got a little more anxious when he left but never neighed or got hysterical or anything. If she can keep her feet moving she seems capable of coping, and I’m more than happy to let her do that as long as she does it politely.

but how cute are Hennary?

Once Hillary was done we went back to the trailers while she untacked, and now that Gemma had had some processing time and seemed more settled, I tied her at the trailer with Henry. She was content to eat cookies (we went through a fairly staggering amount of cookies in a 2 hour trip between the two horses, it’s a little obscene) and some hay and stand there quietly with Henry. Can’t really ask for anything more than that.

We loaded them up and headed back home (again she loaded and rode home great) and just like that, Gemma’s first outing is officially in the books. I think we’ll try to get her out to as many things like this as we can, it’s definitely good for her to start learning what shows and stuff are all about before there’s any pressure put on the situation by riding expectations. We have all the time in the world, so we may as well make the most of it.

Gold star for the baby red mare (and Henny too of course… always Henny)!

Squees and Twatches

It’s starting to feel like every post these days is me playing catch-up. Sorry about that. My brain hasn’t even had time to attempt more structured content. Time flies when you’re busy? Anyway, a lot has happened in the last week, so let’s go.

I saw the first BEBE HORSE of the year last week, and if that’s not worth mentioning then i dunno what is

Last Wednesday I took Grace out to the specialist/embryo transfer vet to drop her off for the breeding season. She was starting to show signs of coming into heat, and given that we’ve been trying to get Grace pregnant for a while, I figured taking her early would be best. They can start tracking her and try to get her bred as soon as it’s looking viable (hopefully in a couple weeks). It would be great if we could get an ET or two out of her this year, plus one for her to carry, but let’s just focus on getting her pregnant first. Since she was already starting to cycle I thought it was best to cut her winter riding a bit short and just go ahead and take her. Plus with work being so busy right now and the ground being so hard, I wasn’t succeeding in getting much riding done with her anyway. Fingers crossed we have some baby-making success this year! I’m feeling positive about it. Plus I got to squee at the two babies already on the ground at the vet’s place… always a highlight and totally worth the drive.

Squee at this, lady

The end of the week was consumed with prepping for a blast of winter weather, which rolled through on Friday and was luckily milder than anticipated. I have a lot of trust issues after Winter Storm Uri last year where they were EXTREMELY WRONG about how bad it would be and how long it would last. Luckily this particular wave was just some sleet and frigid temps, and the sleet didn’t accumulate on anything but the metal gates and my truck since it had been 80 the day before. I was still grumpy AF about it, but after last year I’ll (begrudgingly) take it.

i said begrudgingly

Otherwise the horses have been doing fine (knock on wood) through our continued yo-yo-ing weather. At this point we go back and forth from 80 to 25 so much that they’re just always getting salt and soaked feed, which they seem to be totally fine with. Gemma, to her credit, has been a trooper through all of it.

as long as there are cookies, she’s down

On a different note, I got a new XC vest last week! I won a decently sizeable gift card during Christmas from Ride Equisafe, and was finally able to get that Champion Ti22 vest that I’ve had my eye on for a long time. It fits great and is super comfortable, so once I actually get to ride in it a bit I’ll have to do a review. I love my Champion helmet, and so far I’m really pleased with the vest too.

And last but not least, I’ve become fairly obsessed with my secondhand Apple Watch (gifted by Hillary – she da real mvp) which I have lovingly nicknamed Twatch. It doesn’t care if I just spent 45 minutes doing a spin class, it’ll still ping me and be like “time to stand up!”. F you, twatch, I just sat down. But also thanks for tracking all my shit so I can look at my metrics. At this point I pretty much only use it for the Activity stuff and to control my Spotify when I’m in the barn, but it’s great for that. I walk a lot more than I thought I did (especially with Gemma here since she’s a little bit higher maintenance, thus I’m back and forth to the barn a lot more). I walked 55 miles the week before last and 49.5 last week. Plus it keeps track of all my workout stuff too, which is nice… I can keep track of my spin classes and weightlifting stuff more formally than what just lives in my head. So fancy. So modern. (I’m like the last person on earth to get with this technology, I know…)

Saturday was busy

We did have a fairly exciting outing with the horses (yep, plural!) this weekend too, but that’s a whole nother post for tomorrow… stay tuned.

Weekend Watchables

Yeah you’re right, that title was seriously a stretch. It’s 5am when I’m typing this, give me a break.

If you’re like me and have spent this latest cold front hiding inside trying to pretend that winter doesn’t exist, yet are still a huge nerd and always enjoy distracting yourself with horse-related educational material, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some of the videos I’ve watched lately that I thought were interesting!

Q&A with Dr. Barry Miller from the Virginia Tech Helmet Safety Lab. This lab is working on putting together a rating system for equestrian helmets that will finally give us actual safety rankings for helmets rather than just a pass/fail of pre-determined standards. You can learn more about the rankings, helmet safety technology (including MIPS), and the lab/testing itself in this Q&A.

I get people asking me pretty regularly for recommendations on sporthorse conformation/breeding books and reading material, so I thought this webinar might be of interest to some of you. It’s a pretty detailed and in-depth discussion of sporthorse conformation (and yes they do talk about differences between dressage horses and jumping horses) with KWPN judge Marian Dorresteijn.

If you’re looking for stuff regarding lameness, physical issues, colic, etc, Love of the Horse has a good On Demand library. You have to sign up to watch, but it’s free!

USEA has also been posting videos on their Vimeo account of various sessions they had during their convention last month, including but not limited to a couple of the ones that piqued my interest the most during their livestream:

Competing in Thermally Challenging Climates (applicable not just to eventers! This is a great one for us southerners especially… also kind of nice to daydream about what it was like to be hot…)

Equality in Eventing (and equestrian sports in general)

Hope y’all are staying warm out there. If you’ve seen any other good videos lately that are worth a share, drop them in the comments!

Gemma’s Got Jokes

I think the initial little few week period when you first get a new horse is a really fun time. You get to learn who they are, what their personality is like, their likes/dislikes, and all the little quirks. Now that Gemma’s been here about a week and a half she’s settled and gotten to know me and is coming out of her shell a bit. For instance, despite being skinny when she came off the track, that girl loves her food. Like, I thought Henry was a screamer for food but Gemma might have him beat. She neighs when I have feed, when I have hay, when I have treats, or any time she thinks I might or should have any of those things. There’s a lot of hollering for food. She’s definitely put on some weight already too, so I’m hoping she’ll join the Chonk Club sooner rather than later.

cookie now?
how bout cookie now?

Since she’s got a very good appetite she goes through hay pretty quickly (we’ve already made two hay runs for her, but as long as she wants to eat it I’m happy to buy it!), and since she’s also currently in ulcer treatment (because racetrack) we’re doing our best to make sure she always has hay in front of her. She didn’t really seem to love eating out of haynets though, but if I put the hay on the floor she drags it around and pisses in it, so Hillary brought out her Porta-Grazer. It took Gemma a few days to figure it out, but now it seems to be doing it’s job pretty well – she finishes most of her hay every night and doesn’t make a mess of it, and it helps the hay last longer through the whole night. I’m not sure that Gemma loves the Porta-Grazer, but she hasn’t really complained too much. Until yesterday anyway. Gemma’s got jokes.

I SWEAR I heard her laughing when I found the poo and said “GEMMA NO! WE DON’T SHIT IN THIS! PORTA-GRAZER NOT PORTA-POTTY!”. She just gazed cooly back at me from her pen with what I can only assume is the horse version of a smirk. Tell me she isn’t laughing.

She’s definitely got plenty of personality, and it’s slowly but surely starting to trickle out. I think she’s gotten to know me well enough by now. She’s still very polite most of the time – not nearly as cheeky as a certain bay gelding we all know and love who I swear whips you in the eye with his tail out of spite – but she’s coming out of her shell for sure. So far I quite like what I see. Enough sass and opinions to keep things interesting (would I even know what to do with a horse that didn’t have opinions?) but nothing extreme or ridiculous or rude. Even if/when she does have a spooky or naughty moment, which have been very few and far between, she’s quick to settle back down and get with the program. She doesn’t build or spiral into a pit of anxiety. Smart girl. I think she’s also very happy to be back on a quiet relaxed farm and not at the track. Her connections didn’t think she liked it there, and I think they were right.

Gemma still sleeps A LOT… whether that’s making up for the lack of good sleep when she was on the track or if that’s just her, we shall see as time goes on. I’m pretty sure she’d sleep through a hurricane though. Or a winter weather/high wind advisory like we’ve got today, at the very least.



The world is nuts right now, y’all. Life is nuts. Everything is nuts.

almost as nuts as Henry. And yes he’s wearing fly boots and a sheet, that’s how Texas winter days go – cold in the morning, terrible botflies in the afternoon. Also nuts.

I feel like everyone is getting covid. Like everyone. My whole team at work, my SO, his whole team at work, half of my friends and their families… it’s totally out of control right now. As someone who has yet to get covid (knocking furiously on wood) it’s starting to feel a little bit like I Am Legend out here. I’m quite glad that the SO doesn’t live out here and I told him not to come last weekend since he’d been potentially exposed. That’s the last friggin thing I need right now. As you can imagine (and have probably also experienced) it’s making work absolutely delightful, especially since we’re in our busiest time of year for our customers yet our workforce is severely depleted. It means my days are long and hectic, trying to make up for the missing staff. I worked both days over the weekend, and it seems like pretty much everyone is in the same boat at the moment. Not that it makes the customers any less irate. Good times.

a little BEMER session

In better news, a friend of mine let Hillary and I borrow some fence panels (thank you Sarah!) so we could make a little outside pen for Gemma. She was pretty unhappy in the barn by herself, which is totally understandable, but she’s pretty content outside in her pen. It will probably be another week or week and a half before we can get her up to Michelle’s place in Midland, so hopefully this can be a short term solution to get her through until then. So far she’s been pretty well behaved, but she’s still a young thoroughbred with lots of cooped up energy so I’m keeping a close eye on her. She’s still unfailingly polite to handle though, which is much appreciated.

more polite than someone else we know

The weather is still doing that really awesome yo-yo shit that I love so much (insert heavy sarcasm) which its basically been doing for a month straight now. Is it gonna be 30 today or is it gonna be 80 today or is it gonna be both? Who knows. It makes horsekeeping absolutely delightful. I’m going through both salt and fly spray at record speed. We’ve also gotten basically no rain to speak of so the ground is super hard, and the grass is just sad and crunchy. Granted, it’s a lot easier horsekeeping-wise to not have rain while Gemma is here, so I’m scared to complain too hard. It can hold off until after she’s gone, I’m ok with that. I also get the feeling that once it finally does start raining, it won’t stop for a while. I’m over it in advance.

Grace is definitely coming into heat already, so I’m probably going to go ahead and take her over to the breeding specialist this week. It’s earlier than I had planned, but with the ground as hard as it is and work being off the charts insane, I’m not able to ride her as much as I’d like anyway, so if they can get an early start on getting her bred and start trying to harvest some embryos, that would be fantastic. Having had her here for a while and ridden her, I’ve gotten to know her a lot more which has changed some of my breeding opinions for her slightly. More insight into the mares is always helpful.

Speaking of breeding, in all the time that I’ve spent playing with and handgrazing Gemma, I’ve started to compile a “long list” of stallions that I’m interested in for her eventually. Ya know, down the line. When we get to that. It never hurts to be prepared, plus if I already have a list going then I have lots of time to think about, look around, and whittle it down. Totally not crazy.

initial list, for posterity’s sake. Stars for top contenders.

I’ve had time for basically nothing else. I have a lot in my “to do” for the blog that just keeps getting pushed off, and that’s probably just the way it’s gonna be for a while. I’ll tackle things as I get the chance, I just don’t know quite yet when that’ll be.

Hope everyone is staying safe out there and avoiding covid and all it’s related problems. Are we having fun yet?

Quick hello

Just checking in to let you know that I’m not dead, I’m just really freaking busy right now. Between work (oh the fallout from the covid surge, it is getting FUN is it not?) and the horses, I’ve rarely had more than a few minutes to spare here and there.

yesterday’s total

Gemma, due to no fault of her own, is really high maintenance at the moment. She’s fresh off the track, young, full of energy, and on stall rest, all at a new place to boot. That’s a lot. Trying to keep her happy and quiet and her stall clean and get her handgrazing/walking a few times a day is consuming every spare moment right now. She’s been wound a bit tight for sure, as expected, but has yet to do anything truly naughty or bad. I think when she’s in regular circumstances she’s gonna be a pretty chill girl.

she grazes like a goat, she’s insanely flexible

I’ve gotten to know her a bit this week though, spending all that time with her, and I can say that I like her temperament and personality a lot. She’s very smart and catches on to things quickly, and she definitely wants to please. She’s sensitive, for sure, which should be no surprise, but I like her. As she settles in she’s starting to show a little more quirkiness and weirdness, which of course makes me happy. We’re starting to settle into a bit of a routine now so hopefully my days will be a little less packed. I’m definitely in dire need of a weekend though, I’m pretty sure I slept so hard last night that I didn’t move an inch.

I cought her sleeping yesterday too

I also did put a stick on her the other day and she’s a bit over 16h… almost 16.1 but honestly a lot of that is withers, so we’ll just say 16h. I remain really impressed with how she moves (her walk is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen in a horse straight off the track, she’s got a good 6″ of overstep even as tight as she is right now) and how she’s put together. There are some little things to nitpick for sure, like any horse, but it’s hard to find a ton of fault with how she’s put together. It’s possible that I’ve spent time while handgrazing her to make a list of possible stallion candidates for the future. I think this is the rare TB mare that could be worth presenting to one of the stricter warmblood registries for breeding approval. I can’t wait to see how she looks once she’s rested and has some weight back on.

she’s such a different shade of chestnut than Grace, I love the deep rich red

Hopefully next week things will have settled down a bit and I’ll have more time to get back to regular content, but thanks for the messages making sure we’re ok. All good – just busy!

Gemma’s Family Tree (and some history)

Surely y’all knew this was coming, right? I figured I might as well go ahead and do a post about Gemma’s breeding (and a bit about her history) while it was all still fresh in my mind.

Gemma’s JC name is Emily Who (all of her breeder’s horses names end in Who) and she raced 11 times starting in 2019 and most recently in December 2021. Astute observers may notice a gap in her race record between November 2020 and September 2021… this is because her breeder/owner retired from racing, brought all his horses home, and then an online herd dispersal sale was organized. That sale went live in the summer of 2021 (you can see Gemma’s sale video here… it’s nice to see what she’ll look like when she’s got some weight back on!), which I vaguely remember because Michelle and I had looked at the online catalog and bookmarked a few mares of interest.

Gemma when she was in “farm” shape instead of race shape

We didn’t end up buying anything from that sale obviously, but Gemma was sold to racing people, bought back to the track in September, and raced 4 times for them. While she never won a race, she was second a couple of times. This race was probably her best performance, where she finished second. She didn’t seem all that interested in being a racehorse. To make it all even slightly more ironic, her breeder lives in Lamesa TX which is where the vet clinic is that Presto spent so much time at as a foal. The world is really small sometimes.

Anyway, on to the pedigree side of things. Her breeding is the thing that attracted me to her most. Her sire Abstraction was an unknown to me (which makes sense, he’s a New Mexico based stallion and his oldest crop is just now coming 6, so it’s a bit too early to have seen sporthorses from him yet) but I was very familiar with the rest of his pedigree: Pulpit – Quiet American – Nureyev. Pulpit of course is an AP Indy son (we’ll circle back around and talk more about Pulpit in a bit), and we’ve talked about AP Indy a lot on this blog in the various In The Blood posts. He comes up A LOT in sport, especially in eventers. Quiet American is by Fappiano, another big one for eventers, and Nureyev is also seen in sport a ton.

Quiet End to an Era - BloodHorse
Quiet American

On the dam’s side she’s Crafty Prospector – Secretariat – Ack Ack – Forli. Her second damsire is Secretariat himself… you don’t see him up that close very much these days. Crafty Prospector shows up in the pedigree of plenty of sporthorses, including Jess Phoenix’s 5* horse Bogue Sound, Clark Montgomery’s 4*L horse Caribbean Soul , 3*L horse Banjo, and 3*L horse Outrageous Dance to name a few. And then of course on the bottom of the pedigree, Ack Ack and Forli are always good to see in an eventer.

What’s really interesting is that she’s bred quite similarly to two of my favorite thoroughbred sport stallions: eventers Saketini and Redtail Achiever. Saketini is by Bernardini, who is AP Indy x Quiet American. Saketini also has the mare Meadow Blue on his damline. Redtail Achiever is also by Bernardini so you get the AP Indy x Quiet American cross again, plus his damsire is by Mr P, he’s also got Nureyev and Bold Ruler, and they both have Ack Ack on the damline as well.

Claiborne Drops Pulpit's Fee - BloodHorse

Ok now back to Pulpit himself, her sire’s sire. I was particularly interested to see him in a mare because two of my favorite up and coming 4*L event horses – Sorocaima (Buck Davidson) and Campground (Erin Sylvester) are out of Pulpit mares. You see plenty of Pulpit in eventing at all levels as well as jumpers up to 1.35, but he does seem particularly effective on the dam’s side of the pedigree.

Sorocaima — BDJ Equestrian

I’ll stop there, otherwise we’ll be here all day, but that’s a brief peek into her pedigree and why it appealed to me as both a sporthorse and a broodmare. That combined with her conformation and her movement made her impossible to pass up!