2022 Wrapped

Boy… what a year, huh? Life doesn’t look the same in December as it did in January (for the better, I think)! Let’s take a very brief trip back through the months and look at the highlights of what all happened in my world this year.


We bought Gemma! Was it partially because I was having a complete mental breakdown about Presto’s mystery lameness? Perhaps. It’s fine.

A couple weeks later Presto got an MRI which showed us that he “just” had a bone bruise rather than the 9000 various career-ending soft tissue injuries that I had built up in my head over the preceding month.

At the end of the month Hillary took Henry to a jumper show and did the 1.10m, which was fucking adorable.


Henry turned 15!

Hillary and I launched the Patreon, which… despite how skeptical I was about it in the beginning, it has been AMAZING and the community that it’s resulted in is one of my favorite things to come out of the entire year.

I got a new-to-me dressage saddle and gave it a very satisfying makeover. It’s been a great purchase.

Presto went out to West Texas to do some small paddock rest to heal from his bone bruise, where he proceeded to take a few years off Michelle’s life.


We did a quick trip out to Ocala to get the farm ready for the seasonal boarders.

Gemma got the all-clear from the vet to start back to work, and I discovered that she is a Very Fancy Good Girl.

Presto had a giraffe-themed 5th birthday party.


Gemma went on an outing to the local XC facility, where she jumped her first jumps.

I was off the rails busy trying to get everything ready to move to Florida, including the tiny house and the horses.

We had the most epic Lady’s Weekend trip to Kentucky, where we also got Pat Your Horse tattoos.


We moved to Florida! All 3 horses and all my shit driving halfway across the country ala Beverly Hillbillies.

I started Presto back under saddle after 7 months off.

Henry continued to prove that he is the OG for a reason, and brought some balance to my circus of greenies.


the naughtiest noodle

Got a new boss at work and things slowly but surely started to shift in a very bad and stressful direction.

I got my very first brand new custom saddle and it was delightful (still is).

Presto went on a couple outings just to hack around and was a terrorist.


time to tame the beast

Hopped Presto over some XC jumps for the first time and realized it was definitely time to get serious about finding a trainer because he wasn’t bad but also I may or may not have been in over my head.

A few days later I took my first lesson with Steph and was instantly like “yes. yes, this.”. We spent most of the month taking flat lessons and then toward the end of the month Steph started doing training rides.

I realized I was in a real shit pickle with my job and started trying to figure out just how much more I could take and WTF I was gonna do.


First jump lesson!

Presto continued his training rides for the first half of the month, and on August 21st I had my first jump lesson on him with Steph (second jump lesson on Presto ever… the first one was the previous September).

Gemma also went to her first couple lessons, one dressage and one jumping. She did not blink twice at the liverpool.

I took Henry XC schooling because he was feeling a bit left out and that’s the quickest way to make him happy.

I finally got covid, my company disrespected me so much that it was finally the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I rage quit. After 18 years in corporate. Cue extremely mixed feelings of terror and relief.


Ocala doesn’t need a filter

Presto became more and more civilized and rideable by the day. It made me deeply suspicious. We also went out XC schooling with Steph for the first time.

Gemma got inspected and approved for breeding by sBs.

I focused on expanding BreedRideCompete, took on more social media clients, and started writing more for Eventing Nation (like the Windfall piece, the Burghley article, the Pratoni breeding breakdown, and the Banzai du Loir spotlight).

Hurricane Ian pointed straight at us and made for some exciting hurricane prep, but mercifully turned away at the last minute.


More XC schooling, including Steph’s now famous commentary. I was told it was time to enter a show.

Spent a weekend at TerraNova covering the FEI divisions for EN and ate my weight in italian ice.

Did my first and second shows on Presto – Majestic Oaks in the Novice and the Halloween POP show in the Novice. The mohawk was rad and so was he.


Naughty Noodle on a Rope

Presto continued to really step it up in our jump lessons and Steph suggested we look at a Training move-up. I pondered whether or not she might have a crack habit, but she kept raising the jumps and the horse just got better.

I started picking up some part time work in the Luxe EQ mobile for the first time in like 5 years.

Presto and I did our first 1m classes at a jumper show, after he spent the entire morning screaming in my ear and making me question literally all of my life choices.


We were off to Rocking Horse for our first recognized event, where I mostly just wanted to not look like a total idiot. Presto showed up to party and won on his 23.6 dressage score.

Presto jumped 4′ in a lesson and it still barely even felt like he was trying.

We celebrated Henry’s 9th gotcha day with the sassiest road hack.

Presto and I completed his first Training and he was super!

So, ya know… what’s different? I live in a new state, I have a different job (ok jobs, now I have jobs), I officially launched my own business (complete with an LLC like an actual grown up), I have another horse, I found a trainer and barn family that I love, and am now not just riding Presto but competing him at Training level.

Whoa. What a difference a year makes. 2022 certainly was not all sunshine and roses… it might actually be the year that has taxed me the most and stressed me out more than any other. At times it just felt like one bullshit thing after the other. Changes are scary and hard, and I had many. But I also believe that change is an opportunity, and it’s up to me to make something positive out of it. The blog has certainly had to take a backseat during all of this, and honestly that’s likely just the new normal. Updating the Patreon group is a lot quicker and easier, and I feel like I’ve gotten at least a little bit of privacy back when it comes to having a smaller audience to share the more personal aspects of my life. But at the same time it’s sad to me that the blogging community has died out so much in the past couple years (man I miss the old days!), and I don’t want to be another casualty, so I have no plans to stop anytime soon. Plus like… how could we possibly live without Foal Fridays? Have no fear, BRE will keep on going, even if it too has had to undergo some changes along the way.

Apparently there was a holiday

I am a little jealous of everyone that’s on vacation right now, or at least had a long weekend. That’s not how things worked around here in any capacity.

First and foremost, wtf with the weather, man. Yeah I know Florida barely got anything of note compared to… well… the rest of the country. But still, we’ve had 4 nights in a row of hard freezes. Ya know what’s not built for that? Florida. So I’ve spent a lot of time covering pipes and spigots and dripping things and unhooking things and breaking ice and soaking grain and tossing extra hay and making sure horses are drinking and that they’re not cold and doing constant wardrobe changes on mine. Winter is work. Every year I don’t understand how people do actual winter. Just a tiny tease of it is enough to make me want to go play in traffic. Makes my skin hurt. Is awful. Would 10/10 rather be sweating.

did get some cute Christmas pics though
You can always count on Presto to be himself

I also was extra busy because – surprise – I got a new job. It’s a very part-time consultant position, just enough to fill in the remaining gap (ok there was no remaining gap, but the theoretical remaining gap) in my work schedule. I was offered the right opportunity at the right time and the job is a perfect fit plus it’s for a company I love and believe in (Ride iQ) so that was a no-brainer. It did mean that I basically spent the weekend trying to clear a bunch of pedigree reports and breeding consultations off my plate to prepare for this first week, so… between that and the weather there was no relaxing holiday here. On Christmas I unwrapped my total of one present (the white breeches I asked for), I took a break for lunch to go get Chinese food (it’s tradition) and otherwise I was cranking out pedigree reports like it’s my damn job (it is).

The Chinese food place gave us this super awesome calendar and I love it a little too much perhaps

Presto got an early Christmas present – a boat fender buoy. A buoy? Yes a buoy. It was an idea I’ve been bouncing around for a while, wondering if a buoy might be a better toy for him than those balls (which.. he destroyed the last ball in less than a day) since they’re a lot thicker and more rugged. I was really wanting something more like 36″ – he likes the bigger ones that he can lay on – but I found a really good deal on a 24″ that made it basically the same price as the horse ones. He won’t play with a Jolly Ball, I guess it’s too small or too heavy to be fun, but I was hoping this would work. I got it, inflated it, made him a rope handle with baling twine, and well… it’s been a huge hit.

Henry is not impressed

I do think he would definitely prefer a bigger one, so I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for that (if you know where I can get big buoys for cheap, hit me up) but for now this one is an absolute champ. He has stomped it, thrown it, body-slammed it, and attacked it Jaws-style so many times, but it’s still kicking. Presto did dislodge the original stopper, but it came with a backup, so we just blew it back up and put a new stopper in it. He’s had hours and hours of fun.


Maybe I need to start my own horse ball company using buoy material instead. Granted, I think most horses don’t destroy them at the astonishing rate Presto did.

I gave him the two super cold days off because I neither want to freeze to death or get murdered, but we were back at it yesterday. He’s looking like quite the snack these days, I gotta say. What happened to that mega awkward kiddo that we all looked at for 4 straight years?

I have a lot of grown up stuff on my plate this week so I’m not sure yet how the horse parts will play out, but we’ll see. How is it almost 2023 already?

Year end 10 questions

Anxiety at A posted this blog hop and I thought it was a superb way to do a bit of a year-end recap, so I’m hopping on the train.

the most festive hopping gif i could find

What is your favorite accomplishment in 2022?

Horse-related: feeling like I’ve finally formed a partnership with Presto. When I started legging him back up in May it was not an instant click, it’s taken a lot of work and time and effort to get us on the same page. At one point I wasn’t sure that it was going to happen at all, but now we’ve got it together and we’re on the right track.

Was there an item purchased was the best thing you bought all year for yourself or your horse?

My Arion saddle, for sure. I really love it, Presto loves it, it’s helped put me in better balance with him, it’s pretty… what’s not to like? Ok the price, but ya know… it was the first custom saddle (or even NEW saddle) I have ever purchased in my life, and it was 100% worth it. 10/10 recommend

Favorite memory from the year?

The gorgeous Ocala mornings are hard to beat, especially in the summer. I am convinced there’s something magical about this place, especially at that time of day when the sunlight is just coming up through all the Spanish Moss on the trees. There are only a few places in the world where I’ve felt like it really connected straight to my soul, and this is one of them. Living here is amazing, and I hope I never stop being blown away by how gorgeous it is.

Worst moment?

Probably the day I realized my 18-year corporate career was falling to shambles around me. Panic attack doesn’t quite begin to describe it. It was one of those moments where you realize you have two choices: roll over and take it, or be bold and take charge of your own destiny. Let me tell you how positively terrifying it is to tell a company to shove it when it’s been the cornerstone of your entire adult life. But – that worst moment, which was also the hardest moment, also ended up being the catalyst for something great and ultimately it’s changed my life for the better. No regrets.

Do you have a favorite photo from this year?

One is not possible.

Henry and my Spanish Moss cape
the first time Noodle has exerted real effort in his life
the reality of young horses (they are *#&$!# annoying sometimes)

Was there something (podcast, book, quote, post, blog, etc.) that impacted you this year?

I first talked about enneagram stuff on here back in 2020, but it’s kind of returned front and center to my way of thinking now that I spend more time chatting with Libby and Steph, who are also enthusiasts. Learning more about yourself is pretty helpful in all walks of life (as Steph likes to say, if you know how you do be, you can actually grow and try to improve some of the not so great parts of how you do be rather than just saying “that’s how I do be”) but particularly in my interpersonal relationships as well as my riding and mindset. Having people that’ll be like “you’re doing that 5 thing right now” really help with the self-awareness, and having a coach that really understands how I learn/think/react has been pretty revolutionary. Steph did a great session with the Ride iQ ladies about enneagram and how it can be applied to coaching, learning, etc… highly recommend watching! I’ve also fallen face first into an enneagram 5 podcast that has blown my mind a few times. It’s amazing how helpful it is to fully understand how your brain works, especially in comparison to other people.

Most chaotic moment?

That’s a real tie between the Texas to Florida move (or the lead up to it, really) and those two weeks when my corporate life was rapidly devolving. Granted, every day with Presto is a microdose of chaos.

Is there something you wanted to do this year that didn’t happen?

I feel like a Europe trip is always on my list of things I want to do and every year that it doesn’t happen is kind of sad. Even though I knew this year was extremely unlikely, with everything else going on. I’d also really really really like to find someone local for Henry… he would greatly enjoy having someone to take around the lower levels and boss around. Was hoping that might happen this year but it got back-burnered.

Did you accomplish any of the goals set for the year?

Did I actually set any goals this year besides getting Presto rehabbed/legged back up and moving to FL? I don’t even remember. Probably not, setting goals really isn’t my jam.

Do you have any major goals for 2023?

See above, not my jam. I really just want to keep my horses happy and healthy and for us to keep learning and growing, whatever that may look like.

Are there any major plans or purchases already in mind for 2023?

We must do a Kentucky 5* trip again this year, because it was really one of the big highlights for 2022 for me. Otherwise, no plans yet! I feel like things have a way of finding me, though…

Remember that time…

December POP show – Presto’s first Training

Since this was a one day show and currently all of my media is cell phone pics/stills from video, I’m gonna try to shove this all into one post.

Being a good noodle, at least 80% of the time

This show ran from smaller divisions up, and the highest XC was Training, therefore all my times were quite late – dressage at 1:21, stadium at 4:06, XC at 4:21. It was kind of nice because it meant I didn’t really need to clean all my shit and pack the trailer until Sunday morning, although I wasn’t super pumped about getting home after dark. Still though… later in the day is easier than early. I rolled in around noon, parked, unloaded, and got my packet. Presto did his obligatory HELLO EVERYONE I HAVE ARRIVED screaming routine, and the only answer he received was from a donkey. This perplexed both of us because I couldn’t figure out where the donkey was/why it was there, and Presto couldn’t figure out what kind of animal was answering him.

I got on around 1, which was, coincidentally, right when the polo match started. The polo field is like cattycorner to the dressage rings, so that was… exciting. The commentator for that was very loud, very animated, and made a lot of quite interesting sounds and noises over the loudspeaker. It was a vibe. And then on the other side of dressage was XC, where Presto could easily see horses out there running and jumping. I had to really put a lid on him immediately in warmup and insist that he focus on himself. He did, but you could tell he was just a bit on his toes and tense. Tough life having to do dressage when so many other fun things are happening.

into the ring wearing his sparkly reindeer antlers, because duh

The test was fine. There were no major issues or bobbles, but he just remained a bit on edge and not 100% focused. The best score was an 8 for our entry, and he got 7.5’s for those weird 10m half circles which was cool since we’ve worked on them like 3 times. He started to come slightly off the rails by the second time we cantered, so that lengthening was basically non-existent and the circle was more like 17 meters than 20 meters. He also didn’t have much of a trot lengthening whatsoever. There was… very little to no difference shown lol. I’d lost him too much by then to be able to go for it. But he did try to stay with me despite all the commotion going on around him. We got a 6 for one movement but that was the worst of it. He scored a 29, which still kind of blows my mind that this horse can do what is a very blah test for him, at a new harder level, and still be in the 20’s. We definitely have work to do on the lengthenings but it’s not a bad starting point. I’ll take it.

Once I got him taken care of we went up to walk stadium, and found out that they were running like 40 minutes behind. I was wondering if it might have something to do with the fact that while I was watching they were taking a while between each horse to blow the whistle for the next person to start. Come to find out later that every single person all day long ended up with time penalties in stadium (surely something hadn’t gotten wheeled or calculated correctly, I’m guessing) so I’m not sure if constantly having to calculate and record time penalties was maybe contributing to the delay. I dunno. Either way, they were late enough for me to be feeling a little concerned considering how late my XC ride time already was and how close we’d be pushing it to sunset. Out of my control though, so. Is what it is. We walked stadium during the drag break, and then I went out with Kathleen to walk XC. It was a quick “yup there it is” type walk for the most part, so I was just kind of snapping pics on our way past, but I did get them!

It’s very annoying how much smaller everything looks in pictures than in real life. I shielded my eyes from a couple of the tables because I just didn’t really need to know in my brain how big they are in relation to me. They don’t look big from Presto and that’s all I need to know. Patreon folks – y’all have full videos from all 3 phases on your dashboard, so you can see the terrain questions… I couldn’t really capture them well in photos.

After that I took Presto for a long hand graze up by the showjumping while we waited. They managed to catch up a little bit on time, so it was running about 30 minutes late. I got on when the first horse went in the ring for Training, and I was about 6 trips out. I learned my lesson at Rocking Horse – Presto thinks stadium warmup is for the YeeHaws, so the less time we spend in there, the better. We did a quick warmup, jumped some oxers, and went to the gate before he could instigate Fuckery.

The course was very twisty turny, which I prefer with this horse at this point, he has to pay a little bit more attention and I can use the turns to help me balance his giant enthusiastic self. He did get some slightly big eyeballs in there though, I could feel him going “Mom, these grew!” especially at the combinations, which both had an oxer jumping into them. He was getting lots of air time.


He was jumping well though, and being pretty careful/better with his hind end. Even though he rode greener, the whole way around I was like “yep, this is what he needed, we’ve finally got his attention”. I could ride him up to the base and he was very laser-focused. We did have one rail, just a silly tap behind at an oxer, but I thought he was quite good overall. Oh, and of course we had time penalties too, just like everyone else!

We came out of the ring and slapped his XC boots and my vest on so we could get out to XC post haste. Daylight was quickly diminishing. It made for some very weird shadows and Presto was being a bit spooky about it in the warmup… I don’t think either of us have had to deal with extreme shadows very early/late in the day before.

Once we got out on course, I was the one being spooky about it. Y’all, I COULD NOT SEE the first 3 fences like at all. The sun was directly behind them so I was blind, and all I could see was a massive black shadow that expanded two strides in front of each one. I was cantering down to them like UHHHHHHHHHHH I HOPE YOU CAN SEE THIS, I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THE JUMP IS. Which clearly he could, but he was giving them extra room too just in case. It was just a wee bit disconcerting to me. Luckily once we got past those we weren’t going directly into the sun anymore (except at 8, which I also couldn’t see for shit) so the problem worked itself out. I did not love that for me, not at all. That’s part of the game though, just gotta keep on.

Presto was really jumping well though. The first combo was at 4 – up and down a mound, with a rolltop at the bottom. Then we had a couple gallop fences before the next big question – a MIM rail down into a big crater, back up out of the crater, down the edge to a skinny. The crater was deep enough that you couldn’t see the skinny from down inside of it, just the very tippy tops of the flags, so you had to choose your route carefully. That was a legit question. But having more to do and more to look at really suits him, and I could actually keep riding him up to the base. He was coming off the ground with a better shape than he was at Rocking Horse, and I wasn’t having to help him as much. No gappy distances and no heavy-on-the-front-end efforts.

still green enough to no touchie the brushy

After that we had an oxer (that I couldn’t see in it’s black blob.. seeing the jumps is overrated anyway) to the next combo, a coop with a 90 degree right turn to a corner, in 5 strides. This was also a really legit question at Training, especially for a big young horse. No worries though, Noodle gots it.

Then it was straight to the coffin which was in the tree line, so even more shadows, and he was peeking for sure. Coop, two strides, ditch, two strides, skinny. I had to tap him a bit there to keep his attention focused on forward, but he went. After that I think he felt pretty damn proud of himself and like he could do no wrong. For all his antics Presto is really very smart and learns super fast, so you can always feel him thinking about things and making adjustments as he goes around. By that point I was just letting him roll to the gallop fences with a little “ears up” half halt in front, and he was pinging right over them out of stride. Tremendous improvement from his last run.

Then we came to the water, where I completely biffed the distance in. It was one of those where I whoa’d and kicked at the same time and then was kinda like “lolwhoops, figure it out!” and he did. It wasn’t graceful, but it was safe, and I was proud of him for that. Shit is gonna happen, I’m gonna be wrong sometimes, and to do this job he has to learn how to get us out of it safely. The development of the fabled “fifth leg” that good cross country horses need. Mostly I liked that he was completely undeterred by it and just galloped right on through the water and out over the log on the mound like nothing had happened. That’s worth many many many cookies.

Then we had a chevron, pretty simple, and after that was my least favorite combo on the course. Y’all, I hate upbanks. Like I just do. There aren’t a lot of things I don’t like on XC but that’s my One. So imagine my eyeballs when I saw a corner on an angle to a pretty decent size bank up, bending line out to a skinny in 5 strides. Not a fan. That was a hard question for Training too, I thought. But Steph had been clear on how to ride it, so I brought him down to a coffin canter, jumped the corner straight on, then put a bend in the the line so we could jump up the bank straight, then turn right to the coffin. Bless him, he jumped through it great. I still might have pooped my pants a bit at that one.

Then we were at the last, a basic little log oxer, and through the finish! We were a bit slow, but it was one of those rounds where I thought he grew two sizes from start to finish. He started out feeling a bit green and ended up feeling like The Man. Most of all I think it proved that moving him up was the right choice. He finally had something to do, something to challenge him a little, something to make him think and get his attention. This is the first show where I felt like he really gained some education from it rather than just lopey doping around for funsies. Now we’re learning!

learning that he makes a pretty great reindeer

I’m looking forward to spending some time working on what we learned from his first Training outing before the winter season really kicks in here, but super proud of his first effort. We’ve got ourselves a Training horse!

Nudie Doodie

Since I clipped Presto this week his nickname has been Nudie Doodie, which… isn’t the best. Let’s hope that the nickname my brain comes up with next week is better.

he is kind of a nudie doodie tho

On Monday we had a dressage lesson, because this weekend we’re riding yet another new test. It’ll be our 4th show together, and the third new dressage test. I honestly have no idea how pros/actual dressage people live with all these tests in their head, my brain has a one maaaaaaybe two dressage test limit before it shuts down. This weekend is Training Test A, which is kind of a weird test and everything comes in rapid fire succession, so I’m glad we were able to have time with Steph to ride through it a couple times and figure it out. This will be a harder test for Presto for sure, with the 10m half circles and the canter lengthenings on a 20m circle. In case you haven’t noticed he is very large and a dressage ring is very small… lengthening the canter on a 20m circle is a hard movement for a big young horse. We’ll give it a go, but I can already see the “show more difference” comment coming. That’s fine, he’s ready to be challenged a bit more. We’ll maximize the parts he’s good at and give a best effort at the rest.

On Tuesday I body clipped him again, which he was definitely overdue for. I had been using the excuse of needing to get my clippers serviced and blades sharpened, but then I did that and officially ran out of excuses. And he really DID need to be clipped again before another show. This time I also did his legs, which I’d never done before because ugh I hate it. I started with his legs and head (because I’m not dumb and I knew his quarter would run out before we finished… I’d rather not have him flailing his feet around while I was trying to clip those) and by the time I got to his body he was real annoyed. I was also real annoyed. But it’s done now at least. It was amazing how many scrapes and dings I found on his legs underneath all the hair. I mean… not surprising, this horse is rough and tumble at best, but my god. If he could just NOT do that, that’d be great.

On Wednesday we had a jump lesson. I hadn’t jumped Presto since Rocking Horse so I figured it would probably be good to jump a course or two before this weekend. We popped around the 1m warmup course pretty easily, so then we concentrated on the outside line – vertical, 4 strides, vertical, 2 strides, oxer. The goal was to get him to make a little better shape in the air and make sure he stayed rideable down the line. She added v rails to the middle vertical and the oxer went up every time through.

For my part I legit could not stop finding a shit distance into the line. I found every single distance except the good one, basically. But Presto is not fazed by that, and he just kept jumping in and down the line like it was no big deal. When the oxer got bigger and he finally had to put in some effort, I think that was the first time I’ve really felt him try. He’s still not always sure where all his legs are supposed to go, but he seemed to enjoy the challenge. Noodle can fly. It was fun to get a little glimpse of what he’s got in the tank.

On Wednesday afternoon Henry went for a Gotcha Day road hack with Lex, and then yesterday was a rainy day off for everyone.

why do my horses have weird tongues

A cold front came through on the back side of the storms, so our high temps went from 80’s to 60’s and our lows are in the 40’s. Brrr. It was chilly this morning. Naturally Sunday is looking to be the coldest day, with a high of 60 and a low of 36. Should be an exciting horse show day for the young ones… I’m glad all my ride times are in the afternoon at least! Nobody needs an extra spicy noodle.

Gotcha x 9

Nine years. NINE YEARS since I bought a fat little bay TB named Jerry from the internet, sight unseen. I thought I was getting a fun project to play around with at the local h/j shows for a year or so and then re-sell. Oh how little I knew. If you’d told me then how this would play out, I never would have believed you.

Here’s to 9 years with my heart and soul, the OG Best Boy, and the maker of dreams. To celebrate, here are 9 of my favorite photos of him from this year!

Here’s to hopefully many more Gotcha Days, bud.

Am I On Fire?

Ah yes, hello, hi there. Poor neglected blog is the first thing to fall by the wayside.

Honestly though, there’s not a whole lot to report, it feels like. Last week you got the Rocking Horse show recap, and after that Presto got a couple days off. The farrier came on Tuesday, and Presto got hot shod for the first time. His reaction to being “on fire” was kind of hilarious.

“Cool, somethings on fire! Wait, is that me?”

From Wednesday through Sunday I was down at WEC all day every day working the Luxe EQ mobile. I rode Presto in the mornings before work, but otherwise my barn/horse time was pretty much just feeding.

Tell you what though, WEC at Christmas time is something else. I’m not really into Christmas or the decorations or any of that (the lights are pretty but that’s probably the beginning and end of my interest) but holy crap… it’s like Christmas threw up all over this place. Trees everywhere, decorations everywhere, lights everywhere. They do this Winter Wonderland thing that draws a ton of non-horse people who want to come look at everything and take pictures. WEC must make a freaking killing off of that, judging by how many cars were out there (all paying $30 just to park).

one of like 9 majillion trees

They also play Christmas music constantly, which after 5 straight days had me contemplating jumping off a bridge. If you’re super into Christmas, this is definitely the place to come. For me personally, I think I’m all full-up on Christmas for quite a while.

I was kind of excited to get home yesterday and see that the presents I got for people during the Black Friday sales had arrived, though. I find gift-giving to be really fun (for friends/horse people anyway… muggles are harder) and I think I did pretty well this year with picking things out. Oh, also – Patreon members, we’re sending a little something to y’all too, so if you haven’t sent me your address yet, please do so by tomorrow!

The Noodle fan club

One other thing: if you’ve been waiting to snag a BRC pedigree report, the December listing is active! https://www.etsy.com/listing/1246853171/pdf-custom-detailed-1-horse-pedigree?click_key=adfda53315864c5e62a5e37da2bca9e83dc99c43%3A1246853171&click_sum=ef64f8da&ref=shop_home_recs_2

This week is somehow already jam-packed also, because there’s no rest for the wicked people who have horses to pay for. For the fun/relevant bits, I’ve got a dressage lesson today (because I have to learn to ride yet another new test – I honestly have no idea how pros live with all these tests in their head all the time, my brain cannot), and then a jump lesson and an xc school ahead of our next show, which is happening on Sunday. Trying to ride that momentum that we’ve built up the past couple months!

Rocking Horse HT Day 2: Happiest Noodle/Proudest Noodle Mom

When we left off yesterday, our intrepid baby Noodle had delivered a personal best dressage test for both of us and left all the rails in the cups to sit us comfortably in first place after day 1. All that was left was cross country. No pressure.

our assigned quest

I do happen to be sat on a brave horse that loves cross country, so I felt pretty confident that as long as I rode to plan and didn’t do anything too stupid, we’d be good. The course was pretty much as you would expect for the level. There were a few combinations: a down bank with 6 bending strides to a roll top, a jump a couple strides in front of the water, and a couple of ramps that you could either angle or jump more as a bending line. There was also a ditch with a 90 degree left hand turn to a rolltop that wasn’t numbered as an A/B but rode as a combination since they were so close together.

The jumps themselves though – I didn’t see anything that gave me any real concern. I did actually remember to do a Course Walk with photos, which you can see here (except I forgot to take a pic of the last jump because I spotted the horse chiro and started chatting with her).

We got to the show about an hour before my start time, which gave me some time to just sit and hang out for a bit and for Presto to stand at the trailer and relax before I had to get ready. I got on him about 20 minutes before my time, went to warmup, and got to work. Really it was just getting him moving, making sure I could open and close and open and close the gallop, and popping over a few jumps straight and on an angle. He was a little amped, and VERY interested in watching all the horses that were on course, but he kept it together. Then it was over to the box for our countdown and away we went.

out of the start box at a recognized for the first time (for me) in almost 3 1/2 years

My mission for the first few fences was to make sure he was straight and thinking forward and focused on the task at hand. Heading out of the box you had warmup to the right and all the trailer parking to the left, so there was some possibility that he might be a little fussy or distracted about leaving all that. No worries though, I came out and said “alright sir, get in front of my leg and lets do this” and he went “Hell yeah lets go!”. Not even so much as an ear flicker in any direction but forward.

With combinations and some twisting/turning through the woods later in the course, I wanted to use to beginning to 1) get him jumping out of stride, 2) get a little bit up on the time. The speed was 400mpm, which is max speed for Novice, but really if we’re looking at a moveup then I wanted to try to get on the quicker end of the time allowed, closer to the speed fault time, which was calculated at 450mpm. He’s gotta start learning how to add a little more speed in there.

Presto popped over the first 3 very easily, which were all pretty basic.. little house, coop with a bit of a downhill landing, bench. Then it was the first max table, which came up out of stride too. Next was a little dark bench with some bright flowers in the middle… again, he just loped over. After that was the first combo on course, the down bank to the roll. I brought him back to a quiet canter for the bank, and he popped right off and over the rolltop easy peasy. Pretty sure he was just having fun.


From there we headed to the water. He always peeks and hops into water as if there’s a jump on the edge, but he didn’t do it as flamboyantly here as he’d done at the FHP show. He’s going in, he’s just gotta do it with flair.

From there we had a few gallop fences…

A little house at 8, and a brush fence at 9. I opened him up again and asked him to keep coming forward to jump out of stride rather than me rebalancing him so much before each one. He needs to start being responsible for some of that himself.

After that we had an S-line from the feeder, right turn inside the tree to the ditch, left turn to the rolltop.

he is the least impressed

He didn’t blink at any of that either, just popped right through.

Then it was the corner, which at this size really just jumps like a table, to the steps, to another round-faced table. I was pretty much spot on where I wanted to be with my minute markers by that point.

The path between 15 and the combo at 16 was interesting… they did that thing again where a tree was directly in the middle of the straight route, so you had to decide which way you wanted to come into that bending line. I chose to come in from the right side, angling the first jump to line up more with the second jump. To take the right side you kind of had to duck under a tree, and I got a face full of Spanish Moss, but no biggie. Presto was on auto pilot by this point.

After that we had another table

at which point I checked my watch and saw that I might end up a hair too fast (I had a few points in hand so it wouldn’t have mattered, but ya know… I wanted double clear), so I slowed down a bit and loped over the last.

quite literally loping over it

We came in at 4:56, two seconds inside the time and pretty darn close to where I was aiming (5 mins). Most importantly, it felt very very easy. Presto is so happy out there, and you can feel him thinking and learning as he goes. Super fun.

I only had two real bits of feedback to Steph – 1) We need to work a little more on him keeping his own balance up to the base of the gallop fences. He still really wants/expects me to help him, but at some point that’s his responsibility. He wants to get a little flat off the ground there, so he needs to get better about keeping a good shape off the ground from a more open gallop. Granted, he got better about it even just as we went around the course and I made him take a little more responsibility for himself. 2) I might need just a hair more bit. Not much, but just a “hello sir I’m still here and I meant now” so that I don’t have to get quite as loud with the half-halts in the tighter combinations.


Our double clear meant that we kept our spot, leading the division from start to finish! I had no expectations for placing or scores coming into the weekend, I just wanted to have a run that felt easy. So to win here, in Ocala, in an Open division, filled with pros and imports, on a score like that… not gonna lie, it was pretty fucking cool.

I love Presto of course, but for him to be able to not just hold his own in this kind of company, but to come out on top – that feels pretty great, not gonna lie. A US bred with an amateur rider. It’s a bit of validation, not just in the horse I bred (and we ALL raised) but also in the fact that this partnership could actually be something someday. It took a good 12-24 hours to sink in but man. I’m just so fucking proud of him. It was one thing to see him do well last year with a pro in the irons, but it’s another thing entirely to do it myself. This is it… this is my dream boy, out here doing the thing we’ve dreamed of for so long. I’ve giving myself permission to enjoy that feeling for a few days before we go back to work mode.

Rocking Horse HT Day 1: Fancy Noodle

I had a couple lessons last week that I had full intention of writing about on Friday, but… just completely ran out of time. So, very short version: flat lesson on Wednesday to ride through parts of our test for the weekend, and work on Presto’s bend and balance through all the turns. Thursday we jumped a couple courses, kept it brief, but made sure he was locked and loaded and feeling ready to go.

On Friday Presto got a bath (which is not a fun experience for either of us, because it doesn’t matter how old he gets or how many baths he’s had in his life, he still acts like you’re melting his skin off with acid. It’s a lot of flailing limbs and angst.) and then I turned him back out in his fly sheet in an attempt to keep him clean overnight. Which he had a massive temper tantrum about. This went on for half an hour until I threw him some alfalfa to distract him. Two things he hates the most – being clean and wearing clothes when he doesn’t technically need to be wearing clothes.

On Saturday my dressage wasn’t until 11:30, so I had plenty of time to pack the trailer and braid him in the morning. Granted, he is a massive toolbag to braid. I got knocked off the stool with his head and/or his feet 3 times. I got like 2 braids in before I was like “fuck this absolute shit” and just proceeded to throw in some big fat ugly braids. I did not have it in me to argue with him on that one. Thank goodness for the Quick Knots though, I was able to roll them up pretty quickly. He sure does know how to make himself deeply unpleasant sometimes.

Much like his bath, we were both mad by the time he was done

But hey… he was braided. Beggars can’t be choosers. I figured if anyone didn’t like my braids they were more than welcome to braid this rage demon themselves.

We rolled into Rocking Horse about mid-morning, got everything unloaded, and I went up to get my packet. Hillary put the BEMER on Presto while I was gone and I came back to a snoozing Doodle with his eyes half closed. It’s been a while since we pulled out the BEMER, I forgot how much he really does like it.

He warmed up for dressage pretty well. I have to give him credit, he is full of Fuckery 95% of the time but usually when you’re like “Ok for real, time to do your job” he says yes ma’am. It’s not so much that he’s naughty as it is that he’s really easily bored and has a busy busy brain, thus invents things to entertain himself… and those things are generally not the best. But once he’s working, he’s usually good.

In warmup we focused again on getting him to really bend through his body. He’s such a big horse that in a small ring like this, if he’s not really laterally supple and bending THROUGH his rib cage, he has a hard time navigating the turns and keeping his balance. Especially in Novice Test A where you come up centerline, turn left, and immediately cross the diagonal. We had worked on that on Wednesday, and to his credit, he is a very fast learner. Once something clicks for him he’s like “Oh yeah, got it.” and that’s that. If there was one thing I wanted to really nail, it was that first turn.

We came in bright and energetic, made our turn, and bam – we got it. I swear that one turn made all the difference in keeping him balanced and forward for the rest of the test. There were a few places where we left some points on the table… a couple places where I still just didn’t quite keep enough bend, the down transitions from canter he can get a little braced, and he took one canter step at the very beginning of his stretch circle (which was otherwise fantastic and still got a 7 but I feel like otherwise could have been an 8 or 9).

But it was a very consistent and overall correct test, he was forward and relaxed, and it was accurate. Definitely the best dressage test I’ve had to date, on any horse.

hello Lady-in-the-Box, give me nice scores, look how cute I am

The judge really liked him, and we got a 23.6 – my personal best dressage score ever. Y’all know I love Henry to the ends of the earth and would absolutely die for him, but a dressage horse he is not. It makes a difference coming into the ring on a horse that’s immediately in the 8 range vs one that starts at a 6 and goes up or down from there.

All of our scores were between 7 and 8 (I think we got a little bit of charity a couple times, but I’ll take it) including a Harmony score of 8. It’s amazing how just a couple little tweaks in one lesson can make a massive difference.

I also love my blue coat

That score put us first in a division full of pros and very nice horses (I’m not eligible for Novice Rider, which was kind of a bummer to realize… the Open divisions in Ocala are intimidating).

I didn’t showjump until 4, so we had a lot of time after dressage to eat lunch, check out the SJ course, and walk XC. I missed a drag break for the course walk so we went over to watch a few rounds of the Modified to see how the course was riding. Which… the Modified didn’t even look that big to my eye. Me: looking at the jumps, looking at Steph. Looking at the jumps, looking at Steph. “This is how big we jump at home”. Steph: “hahahaha yep!” Evil woman.

To her credit, we get to the show and the courses always look small and simple.

pretty basic course, although the ring at Rocking Horse is quite small compared to most so it was a lot of jumps in a little ring

After that I went and walked XC with Steph, and then walked it one more time on my own so I could confirm my plan with my brain. Plus I’ve never been to Rocking Horse before and didn’t want to get lost, and Presto had never been there before either, so I wanted to make sure that I scoped out not only the jumps and the terrain, but also anything that might potentially pull his focus or instigate Fuckery. He’s highly susceptible to that stuff.

By the time SJ finally rolled around I think we were all a little tired of being there. Presto especially was on his last thread of patience (there are not many threads to begin with). By the time I got on he was a bit wired for sound, and pranced his way into the warmup a little sideways. He proceeded to go airborne a few times (with some squeals for good measure) and made himself That Horse. Wouldn’t be a whole entire horse show without him making himself That Horse at least once, right?

I ended up giving my spurs to Steph, and we jumped a few jumps and then just got him out of the warmup. It’s too much commotion and winds him up, staying longer and jumping more isn’t beneficial. If I can spend 10mins in there, that seems to be the sweet spot. We learn a little more at every show.

Once we got in the ring he was still a little bit jazzed up, but reasonably rideable. I got him a bit tight to fence 1 because I was too busy listening to the announcer say that this was my first recognized show on my second generation homebred (she knows me and has the inside scoop) and I was like aw that’s so cute and then turned slightly late. Whoops. He popped over it no big deal though, and that plugged my brain in. Self, you should probably ride.

The round was relatively uneventful. I did jump in bold to one of the lines that was riding a little quiet and I knew as soon as I landed that there was a zero percent chance we’d be able to fit the number in there nicely, so I just let him roll down and leave it out. He stayed balanced, so he pinged off the ground great and it worked out fine. He did rattle the rail coming out of the 2 stride because he was too busy staring at the tent and drifted to the right, but we got away with it. Otherwise it was a “confident clear round” (so said the announcer) and we maintained our lead.

Presto. It’s Novice.

The whole reason Steph really wanted me to do Rocking Horse before we move up is because of the stadium. Don’t tell anyone, but I think I actually prefer the smaller/tighter ring. Less time for Presto to commit Fuckery and less time for me to make lots of bad decisions. When the jumps come up super fast, you don’t have much option but to just keep the balance upright and keep coming forward. I’m better with fewer options.

Two phases down, one more to go! We’ll get to the good part tomorrow.

(Patrons – you have the full dressage and SJ videos on your dashboard! Working on uploading all the XC footage I have, too.)