Cross Country Noodle

As I teased in yesterday’s post (sorry, it was just getting too long to fit everything in) Noodle kiddo and his sidekick Hangry Mare went XC schooling on Sunday!


It was a bit of a landmark occasion for me, since we were meeting Steph there for a proper, coached XC school. When I took him to Sweet Dixie a couple months ago with Hillary and another friend it was just a fun casual day, and I only hopped him over a few things. Now we have an actual trainer and have taken lessons and all that stuff, so ya know… first “real” XC school I guess you could say.

It’s a short hack from the parking area to the XC field at Magnolia Sands, and we let Gemma lead the way since I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this but Captain Chaos tends to cause Problems even when there aren’t any. If you let him lead he will 100% pretend to spook at things just because he takes extreme glee in watching other horses scatter and participate in Fuckery with him. So… Presto doesn’t get to lead.

We got out to the field with no drama (thanks Gemma – yes my chestnut mare is less dramatic than either of my bay geldings) and started warming up. Presto was a bit excited at first, as he tends to be, but he kept his head on. He wanted to spook at a few jumps around the edges of the field (he wasn’t scared, it was Fuckery… I can tell the difference) but I just kept my leg on and kept circling around the areas he wanting to be dingy about, and he settled.

We popped over a ditch and a couple logs while we waited for Steph, and walked through both waters. As soon as we started jumping things he settled more. That brain of his is just too busy, he’s always better when things are harder.

One yucky habit he has that I’m NOT a fan of is that he shows nappiness when having to leave the group in a setting like this. He wants to prop and (in extreme cases) pop his front end off the ground a bit and spin. What I’ve learned from prior outings is that if I nip it in the bud immediately and with decisiveness, it stops. So, when Steph sent us out to go canter some smaller fences and he decided to prop and spin, he got two good “I ain’t fucking playing” whacks on his bum. Fixed the napping, but he was a bit mad about it and wanted to ignore my half-halts at the next few jumps. Hard life being a noodle. He leveled out after that though, and we were able to get to business. Sometimes this horse has a lot of opinions, plus he’s 5 (which I call the “fuck you fives” because it’s literally the worst age) so he thinks life is real unfair sometimes and mom is really mean.

Once we had warmed up over some simple stuff we headed over to the bigger water, which was dyed a nice bright turquoise. Presto is good with water (I mean aside from the fact that if you let him put his head down so much as an inch you run the risk of him trying to lay down in it) so we strung together a jump before the water, then turned and came through it and jumped a little rolltop after the water. He was actually jumping really well, I’ve noticed over the past couple weeks that he’s feeling stronger off the ground and using his body a lot more/better than before. Maturity is a great thing.

Then we went over towards the crater and put a little course together over there – a small log stack to a little table on a bit of an angle, around into the crater and up over a blue house at the top of the hill, then on to a little lattice hammock. He was really super for all of that and stayed nicely balanced up the steep hill to jump nicely out of the crater. Honestly once he’s pointed at a jump he’s not hard to ride – you just have to keep him in front of your leg, keep your hands down, and keep the balance up. The jumps are the easy part for him, and he’s more rideable to the XC jumps than he is in the ring.

alright kiddo we get it

After that we went over and walked up/down then trotted up/down the banks. He’s not always the most coordinated going up it (shocking that 17h worth of gangly noodle finds all of his legs hard to manage at times) but he got better every time. There was some FuckeryLite the first time up it when he landed and pretended to spook at a banner on the fence. A kick and a growl later he was like “well you don’t have to be mean about it, I was just joking!” and that was the end of that. I swear, when I fall off this horse on XC, because it will happen, it’ll be because he spins out from underneath me pretending to spook at something stupid that he’s not actually scared of at all.

We let them be done after that since it was hot and we’d accomplished all we needed to. It gave us a few things to work on but also let me know that we’re on the right track. I left there feeling like he’s going to be really fun, and looking forward to actually getting to some shows this fall!

Full of Good Ideas

I seriously need to find something else to say to start off my Monday recap posts other than “last week was busy”. All weeks are busy. And they somehow seem to be even busier now that I’m unemployed (self employed? partially? I have no idea.), but in a good way I think. At least the things I’m doing are things I enjoy and am interested in rather than dedicating my life to someone else’s dream. There’s definitely freedom in that. We’ll work on the money part.

Anyway! Let’s try to recap this in a way that doesn’t require a novel.

Last Monday I had my second jump lesson with Presto. He was really good, like… almost surprisingly so. The day before he’d been a bit of a terrorist so I wasn’t sure what I was walking into, but honestly he was pretty much foot perfect, easy, and chill. We’re slowly figuring things out together, and I definitely have fun riding him. He’s going to be a really cool horse eventually, I’m pretty sure of that.

On Tuesday Hillary flew in. It’s not too hard to twist her arm to get her here, but we had some business things to take care of and some networking opportunities, so she hopped on a plane and came out. She hasn’t been able to ride much back in Texas, with Lex being here in Florida, so naturally I started shoving horses at her immediately and suggested she take Henry over to Steph’s for a lesson.

Henry was delighted with himself as he perhaps slightly ran away with Hillary a little bit

On Wednesday afternoon I was covering Windfall’s Century Ride for Eventing Nation (look for that article this week!) and brought Hillary with me. I wanted to try to get both photos and video, which is obviously not possible to do alone, plus I’d been invited to the dinner afterward and thought that would be a good opportunity to chat with some folks about BRC. Hillary is a much better socializer than I am, she’s less awkward in that setting, so getting her to come along (again, very little arm twisting was required) was fantastic.

Windfall looks INCREDIBLE for 30, btw

We didn’t even make it all the way in the front door before being introduced to the Trakehner breeder contingent – who knew of me, which is always slightly alarming because my first thought when that happens is always a panicked “oh god wtf have I said” – and we spent most of the evening talking to them. Well, ok. At one point I did what is standard for me at parties: I plopped myself in a corner and immediately made friends with the dogs.

you can’t take me anywhere

It was fun to bounce ideas and thoughts off of the breeder group though, they were fun, and I finished my interview stuff after we ate some barbeque and cake. I’ve certainly had worse Wednesdays. Super nice of Windfall’s owners to include us.

The rest of the week was knocking out business stuff for us, working the horses, and moving Lex over here to WTW from the training barn he was at. There must be some kind of aura of chaos that horses have and can sense in others, because Presto took one look at Lex and lost his shit trying to get over to him to be best friends. As entertaining as it would be to turn those two out together, I don’t think the farm could survive it. I can’t even imagine Presto’s level of chaos and mayhem combined with Lex’s ponytude and additional chaos and mayhem. Good god.

they have struck up quite the bromance from across the fence tho

Hillary fit in a lesson with Steph on Lex last week too. Nothing like not riding for weeks and then showing up anywhere near me where I’m like HERE RIDE THIS LETS GO DO THIS WHY NOT ALSO THIS OMG I HAVE ANOTHER GREAT IDEA YOU TOTALLY SHOULD. She went home sore AF and slightly broken so ya know… job complete.

Gemma doing her best to contribute to Hillary’s need for a chiropractor

The only one she didn’t sit on this time was Presto, mostly because I hogged him all to myself. Sorry not sorry. I think she already had more than she wanted to ride anyway though, and Presto is… a lot. According to my abs he is the grand consumer of strength and energy.

I’m obsessed. I can’t even describe how nice this horse feels when he’s really going well (which, granted, takes work).

Hillary’s daughter also got to take a turn on Henry, because duh. The man. The myth. The legend. The king. Gotta start them out on good horses while they’re still young and set the bar high.

Honestly though.

The horse part is the more interesting stuff to talk about here, but in reality it was a smaller portion of what we were up to. We also got pretty much everything done that we needed to, business-wise, which was definitely much easier with both of us together in person. We also had some good brainstorming sessions and I think we now have a pretty solid, cool, exciting plan going forward. We would both really like to be fully self-employed, and together we’re stronger, so I’m excited about some of the things we have in motion at the moment. We’ll see how it all pans out!

She did extend her trip by a couple more days to stay the weekend, which gave us the chance to go XC schooling. More about that tomorrow…

Foal Friday: West to East

The next batch of horses arrived in Florida from WTW West yesterday! Pippa, Teddy, Inca, Quinlee, Vee, and Peyton.

Ok Teddy, we see you.

They got here late yesterday afternoon (just before a storm came, naturally) and are settling in well. I don’t think Peyton has lifted her head from the grass since she got here. The yearlings went into their own turnout last night and today will move over to the field with the TB yearling fillies.

Pippa enjoying the sunrise
and Teddy too

This, unfortunately, probably marks the end of regular Foal Fridays for this year. I’ll do my best to get some pics for the next couple weeks, but then it’ll be weaning time for Quinlee, and any pics after that will be on Patreon.

meeting Mina

In a few more weeks a couple more mares will join us from Texas, and then it’ll be sBs inspection time! I’ll definitely get and share pics of that.

Teddy is skeptical

Happy Friday!

Hidden Heights Fitness Giveaway!

Some of you may have noticed that over the past year or so, I have shrunk a little bit. Last year when I sent Presto off for professional training, it really and truly hit me that this horse was going to demand a lot more of me physically, and that if I didn’t get serious about my fitness, I was going to struggle to ride him.

I was correct, I’m considerably more fit now and it’s barely sufficient

At that point I was at what was probably my highest weight, or close to it, and while I wasn’t as concerned about that part (weight is just a number – I don’t even own a scale), what did concern me is that I was also certainly not at anywhere near my fittest point either. I used to do triathlons and bike racing (back when I had one horse and had time for other very time/resource/energy consuming hobbies) and I knew for a fact, if I was being honest with myself, that I was a stronger fitter rider then. But ya know, I’m also a bit of a recluse and absolutely ABHOR working out in a gym, so I just got myself an amazon spin bike and went to work.

While that worked great to help peel some of the excess weight off, what I was missing was the strength aspect. Especially a strength program geared specifically towards me and my body and my own personal struggles. I found some stuff on the internet (Google is a double edged sword) to try to make up that part of things, which is, uh, how I ended up tweaking the shit out of my back and landing myself in an Airrosti physical therapy program. Whoops.

That was a fun time

All of this is to say that, having done it perhaps not the best way, there are things I would change if I could go back and start that journey all over again. One big thing in particular: I would get a coach to help guide me through a personalized program. I am the queen of winging it, but sometimes that just ain’t the way. I will say, back when I started all this, I did look at a few different coaches and online programs, but none of them really grabbed me. First and foremost because if I was going to be coached by someone, I wanted it to be someone who rides and really understands the specific issues/challenges we face. But I knew that I didn’t want to buy one of the self-guided programs, because part of my problem has always been form and I wanted a coach, not a cookie-cutter program. The only other coach I knew then was a big online one that I found to be extremely intimidating and just… didn’t feel like I would mesh with. I wanted someone that was approachable, relatable, and real.

Enter: Laura Crump Anderson of Hidden Heights Fitness. Man on man do I wish I had known about her back then, I feel like my whole journey would have been so much better-executed and I probably would have seen results a lot faster (and, uh, perhaps not murdered my back in the process). If you’re not familiar with Laura, she’s written a book of exercises specifically geared towards riders, she’s got a blog series with Eventing Nation, and she’s actually a rider herself. And not one of those stiff, serious, extremely intense, perfectly coiffed and outfitted uber-thin blonde ladies that seem to instantly make me uncomfortable (no offense to them of course, it’s just not my vibe). She’s approachable, friendly, very knowledgeable, low-key, and easy to talk to. In all the sports I’ve done and various fitness coaches I’ve worked with, I’ve found those to be some of the hardest qualities to find. Laura has worked with some top riders too, including Stephen Bradley and Jan Byyny.

She does her sessions and consultations via Zoom, which is obviously super convenient, and has a pretty flexible schedule so that you can fit something in around the rest of your life responsibilities. She also allows you to book by individual sessions, which I REALLY LIKE, because you’re not required to pony up some kind of ridiculous amount of money up front or worry about losing out if something comes up in your life and you have to take a week or two away. It’s nice to have the option of just booking one or two session to try things out before committing to dropping a lot of money. Her prices for one on one personal training are really reasonable too, with individual sessions starting at $75 and package pricing getting that price down to as low as $55/per.

For those of you who aren’t following her yet on facebook, she launched a new video series last week called “Strong in the Saddle”, which spotlights an exercise each week that she finds to be particularly helpful for riders. I’ve been enjoying following along and doing the exercises she suggests, and in this week’s video she also announced a really exciting giveaway for a free one on one Zoom session with her! All you have to do to enter is comment on her latest Strong in the Saddle video, plus you can get an additional entry by sharing the post as well.

I can’t say enough good things about Laura, so if you’ve been thinking about trying to improve your riding fitness, I can’t recommend her enough!