Yes I know, I missed Foal Friday. You have every right to be upset. I didn’t even realize I missed it until Sunday, so… that was a big fail. BUT – I have a very valid excuse that I hope you’ll find acceptable: Friday and Saturday Hillary did her first Training!
She badbitched it, with a double clear XC, so now she and Lex are officially a Training level pair! So anyway yeah… I was morally supporting for that instead of doing Foal Friday. Sincerest apologies. (If you’re a Patreon member I posted some Rue and Ri video in the facebook group to tide you over!)
Last week was pretty busy with other things too. My big project was writing a piece for Eventing Nation about Mighty Magic (that might be posted today? not sure…) that had me calling and interviewing all kinds of people from Andreas Dibowski to Miks Master C’s breeder. It was a lot of coordination and phone tag, and it ended up being the longest piece I’ve written for them yet. Shocking, I know, given the subject matter. I was delighted when I was asked to write something about MM.
We also had aquatred on Monday, which was Presto’s 3rd session total and his first one in a while… their machine was broken for a few weeks. Kind of a bummer because part of the point of doing it was to try to catalog the week over week progress. On Wednesday we also had a jump lesson, where we started putting some bigger stuff back in there. Since show season has been so hot and heavy we’ve just kind of been cruising in between the shows, but this time we had some harder exercises again and the triple combination ended up set pretty big… boob height? However big boob height is.
We’ve also had friends in down visiting… first it was Holly, who some of you may know from blogging. She was here for a week and I think got the pretty good full Ocala experience. She ordered a custom whip and custom boots, and we stuck her on pretty much all the horses while she was here.
Presto, who she thought was a lot of work. She is correct. He is large.
Henry, who she rode a bunch and got to take him XC schooling at Sweet Dixie. He was quite pleased with himself.
And last but not least…
Holly and Nunez got along like a house on fire, it was really quite adorable. She is well suited to the Adult-Riders-On-Ponies lifestyle.
A couple days after Holly left, my friend Stacy came out for a long weekend. It was her first time here and she came to the show with us, we took her to WEC, she got some boots (its like… the thing we do to everyone I guess), and she rode Henry and Presto. She too thought he was a lot of work. Henry was quite delighted to take her over some jumps too… he’s feeling very superior after the last couple weeks. He thinks he’s King Henry God of the Guest Horses (he’s not wrong).
I also perhaps ordered a new custom whip of my own
I’m excited to see how it turns out because it took a lot of debating for me to choose. I don’t like color very much but also just a black and silver whip is boring, so I was trying to figure out what color I could add to it that I wouldn’t hate. In the end I settled on purple, which was my mom’s favorite color. It’ll be black with silver glitter and purple thin stripes, a silver glitter spiral around the handle, and a black soft popper with purple stitching on the edges and a silver embroidered lightning bolt. Hopefully that’ll be distinctive enough to prevent it from walking away (or, uh, me losing it). I’m excited to see how it turns out!
I think that catches you up on most of the happenings around here. Later this week Hillary and I will be down in Sarasota to cover the 4* at TerraNova for EN, but I swear I’ll schedule a Foal Friday post to run while I’m gone. I swear. I don’t want to incite a riot by missing two weeks in a row.
After SJ we made a quick trip back to the trailer to put on Presto’s XC boots and my vest/pinney/skull cap. Rumor had it that they were taking people as they came rather than going strictly by ride time, so I boogied back over there in hopes that we could go early. Once again Presto demonstrated that he knows exactly what warmup he’s in at all times because as soon as I picked up the canter he was like BYYEEEEEE and tried to zoom off into the sunset. He earned himself a few canter/halts so we were very clear that unsolicited zoomies weren’t going to happen.
Once again it was an entirely new course from last month’s event, they always change everything at Florida Horse Park, which is great. Even the start box was in a new place (this was our third Training at this venue and the third entirely different course with entirely different startbox placement). It’s something I really appreciate about the venues here, because in Texas the courses only changed once or twice a year. You never know what you’re going to get when you come here.
Well that’s a lie, you do know you’re likely to get a decently beefy, more challenging T course.
So let’s talk about this real quick. This course came out firing right from the beginning. You came to your first real question at only jump 3, which was a log, 7 bending strides to an upbank, 2 strides to a pretty substantial down bank (the log on top of it made the whole thing come up to my rib cage on the landing side) and then a 90 degree turn left to a skinny log in 6 strides. When I first walked the course I was looking at my trainer like “what the actual shit”. At least wine me and dine me a little before you throw a combo like that at me. But nope… fence 3. Alrighty then. Technically it was numbered such that you could jump off the bank, circle, and then jump 5, but Trainer told me that was a wussy way out (ok she didn’t say those specific words but that was what I heard) and I had to make the line happen. Aye aye captain.
From there we had a simple log ramp, and then you were already at the first water. The line to the A element was kind of wonky, you had to come through some trees that put you on a bit of an angle to it, but the jump at was pretty friendly. You landed with a couple strides before the water, then passed through it and out to the right over a little house on the mound. Mind you at this point you’re still not even a minute and a half into the course. Hope you didn’t want to ease your way in.
But then you did have a bit of a long gallop stretch to the MIM oxer at 8, and then another shorter stretch to the next combo, at the first crater (they love their craters here in Florida to make terrain questions). This one was a bit legit, they had a big max brush steeplechase fence at the lip of the crater so you jumped down into it, then came through it and up out of it to the right over a skinny wedge.
Then you had another gallop fence (a table) before you got to the next crater. This one had an interesting approach too, the A element was set in the trees in such a way that it kind of funneled you to the jump, which could potentially distract the horses a bit. Once again it was a jump on the edge of the crater (this one definitely smaller and friendlier than the previous one) and then you came through the crater, to the left, and out over a corner. The designer did a clever thing here where there were 2 possible paths to this corner – the obvious path over the less steep edge of the crater made the angle of the corner very severe, but you could also go up the steeper edge of the crater and have a bit more room to turn left and come straighter to the corner. I planned to take the second option, because I thought the first one just made that question a bit too hard to read for a young, green one that hasn’t seen a ton of corners yet.
From there we had a simple wagon, then we came to the next combination, the coffin. This is the same coffin complex we jumped through last month, but with a very different jump out. Last time we had an angled brush, this time we had a skinny, very square table that was set on a bit of an angle. This was a very legit question for Training, I’m not sure you’d see anything harder than that anywhere else at the level. MIM rail, two downhill strides, big wide ditch, three uphill strides to the skinny angled table.
After that it was a bench and then (you’ll never guess) another combo. This time at the second water. There was a wide house (they call it house – it was wide enough to fall into the table category IMO) at the edge of the water, and then a 90 degree left turn to a smaller skinny house on the mound edge out of the water. I thought this might ride a bit spooky, seeing as how they wouldn’t know they were going to land right on the water line until their front feet left the ground. Also where they would put their hind feet to jump the B element was still quite down at the lip of the water, so you’d have to really keep the power up to that one since it would require a lot more jumping effort from the horse than just the size of the jump itself.
From there you were home free, with just another steeplechase brush and a log box at the finish. Once I walked the bank a second time I got over it and wasn’t super concerned about any of it, I just knew that I had to get the ride right at the bank combo and the second water in particular, since those were questions he hasn’t really seen yet.
So let’s get into how it rode!
Presto came out of the box 100% business. He was forward, he was looking for the jumps, and he was full of running. All great things, he’s gotten way more focused. Fences 1 and 2 were easy, and I let him flow forward as much as possible for those so we could set the tone. 3 came up quick, just as I expected it would, and I brought him back to a coffin canter. He hopped over 3, popped up the bank, leaped like an orangutan off the down bank (as I suspected he would) and I had to be like “EXCUSE ME SIR WE ARE NOT DONE THERE’S ANOTHER ONE”. Trainer said to put my eye on the skinny and get it done no matter what, so that’s what we did. The 6 strides ended up a bit tight because of how far off the bank he launched, but he locked right on to the skinny and was dead honest there.
After that I let him roll a bit again, popping over the ramp out of stride, and then bringing him back so we could pick our way through the treeline back to the water. Once again he just had a real “LEMME AT EM” attitude here so I basically just lined him up, said “that one and then that one” and he was like WHEEEEEEEE.
After that water I could finally gallop for real so we were off across the field, letting him open up. He was delighted. We popped over the MIM oxer in the most casual way (he’s not impressed by a lot of these T fences any more) and then I brought him back to a smaller bouncier canter for the crater. I thought he might be a little surprised here when he left the ground and discovered the drop on the other side, but no. He was like BOMBS AWAY and leapt into the crater like a little genius, then was super out over the wedge. He’s feeling very scholarly and learn-ed about it all now.
Then we had another little gallop stretch, popping over the table out of stride,
before I had to bring him back again for the turn into the next crater. He argued with me for a few strides about that but ultimately gave in, and he jumped super into the crater, through it out, out over the steep side, and popped over the corner easy peasy.
The wagon was also boring (his words)
And then we were at the coffin. I made the canter bouncy, lined up the middle, and he picked his way through it like a gymnastic. So easy. Such a brilliant kiddo.
I was so busy patting him and telling him he was the goodest noodle that I almost missed my turn for the bench. Whoops.
Anyway, we hopped over the bench and headed to the second water. Per trainer’s instructions I brought him back early to make sure he had time to see what was approaching and keep a more balanced approach, and tapped him behind my leg quite a ways out just to reaffirm that we were going forward and staying in front of my leg here. He didn’t hesitate, just popped right on in there like no big deal, we made the left turn, and cantered out easily over the house on the edge.
As we were heading to the steeplechase jump I heard my watch beep for 5 minutes (OT was 5:24) so I slowed down a bit and just let him lope over the last two. He cruised home easily to log himself another double clear and another finish on his dressage score, which also gave us the win (in the 6yo division on his 6th birthday… very fitting don’t you think?)!
I was kind of sad there weren’t more horses in the division, since I feel like his finishing score of 30 still would have been respectable in full company. I’ll take the blue ribbon though.
Most importantly, he feels really solid at the level now. Like past solid and into bored territory. Even for this course, which was about as challenging as you’ll see at Training, he was wholly unimpressed. There were plenty of problems throughout the course in the other Training divisions, particularly Training Horse (which would have been his division if not for the 6yo offering) where 10 of the 18 starters had an issue on XC. His 30 would have won that division too. The MIM oxer, the coffin, and the bank combo seemed to claim the most victims, although there were problems spread throughout. He just felt super confident about the whole thing, like it was easy peasy.
But even when he’s unimpressed he’s still jumping so much better than he was even just a few months ago. He’s gotten stronger and stronger, and smarter and smarter. For sure he’s making a better shape in the air now, patting the ground and keeping his shoulders up, and following through properly with his hind end.
We’ll take a little bit more of a pause now for a few weeks while we consider what to enter next. Honestly he’s ready for Modified, but we’re at a weird part in the season where the next Modified would be at the same show where there’s a 1*, and that Modified tends to mostly follow the 1* track… not sure if that’s the best choice for a move up. The next option after that would be a good one, but it’s like 2 months away, which isn’t ideal in my mind for a move up either. So we’ll just spend a couple weeks working on stuff and make a plan from there. The most important part is that he’s looking and feeling fantastic!
Lord, there haven’t been this many show recap posts on this blog in… maybe ever. Even when Henry was in his heyday we didn’t have access to shows like this. This season has been a lot, but it’s slowly starting to wind down.
This time we were back at the Florida Horse Park for Ocala Winter 2, and entered again in the 6 year old Training division. Huge fan of the one day format they offer on Thursdays at these winter shows, especially since a lot of the work I do now is on the weekends. It’s honestly easier for me to show on a Thursday than it is on a Saturday. And to be honest I kind of like that it ends up putting me in the pro divisions, too. We always seem to be running ahead of schedule, the warmups are less hectic, and I like to see where my horse stacks up in comparison with all the nice young imports. It’s a “made in the USA” point of pride thing, just go with it.
This show all my times were quite close together – dressage at 12:45, showjumping at 2:11, XC at 2:50. Because my trainer was also showing her 7yo in the Prelim, we walked our XC courses the afternoon before. I rolled into the show about an hour before my dressage time, slowly tacked up and got ready, and then headed to warmup. And Michelle came this time with her camera, so I actually have dressage pics!
Presto has really become the king of getting right to business in dressage warmup. It’s very amusing to me how he knows the difference between each phase and his behavior in the warmup is dramatically different for each. I’m glad he does not choose lawless chaos for dressage warmup… he’s more like “let’s get this boring shit done and move along”. If you didn’t know him and only watched him in dressage you’d be like “what a lovely quiet serene animal”. HA. Hahahaha.
Our little division (there were only 2 of us this time in the 6yo, which made me sad, but I think it’s because 1) so many of the pros were at Carolina this weekend 2) a lot of the 6yos have moved up to Modified already) was tacked on at the end of the day, so by the time we went in for our test there weren’t many of us left in warmup. We also had the ring closest to cross country, which thrilled me (sarcasm)… Presto always has one eye out on XC when we’re showing here. He’s no fool.
The plan this time was to just go for a quiet test, since he got a little rattled a couple times in the last two. Especially since we were back to Test A, which has the canter lengthenings on the 20m circle, which are hard for a horse this large and young in a ring that small. I didn’t plan to really ask for much lengthening at all, and wanted to just keep the test generally as boring as possible.
Which we did manage to accomplish. He stayed quiet and relaxed the whole way through (although he did take a strong peek over toward XC when we were trotting down that long side) but I definitely didn’t “go for it” at any point. I had a couple accuracy mistakes where I was just a step early or a step late for a couple of things, but otherwise he was quite obedient. Scores ranged from 6 to 8, with mostly 7’s, and comments about showing more (the judge was correct every time he said that, I didn’t show much of some things on purpose lol) and keeping Presto’s wayward hindquarters under control (yes this is my eternal struggle at this point in time with his training, he is a massive giraffe).
I’ll always be happy with a boring test, and it sat us on a 30.0 after the first phase, which gave us a 9 point lead.
We weren’t able to walk stadium, so after dressage we sat by the ring and watched some rounds to learn the course and see how it was riding. The giant ring at FHP always makes it feel like courses are forever long, even though they’re not. I feel like they do a good job of making the courses very different every time too, I’ve yet to jump a similar course.
Naturally as soon as I got on to go warmup Presto clicked into SJ warmup mode, which is to say that he switched over from boring to feral. SJ warmup is where he brings out his spooky personality, and he immediately started looking for a good excuse to spin and launch himself into the air. He chose a man that was just standing there trying to enjoy his frozen lemonade on a hot afternoon, who looked very much like a deer in the headlights when Presto was like WHAT IS HE DOING I THINK I SHOULD TURN INTO A WACKY WAVING INFLATABLE ARM-FLAILING TUBE MAN ABOUT IT. The man kindly asked me if I wanted him to move and I said “no you’re fine, thank you though, he’s not actually scared of you, he’s just being himself.”. I distracted Presto with harder flatwork until he forgot about it, and we managed to keep all 4 feet on the ground when we were supposed to.
The round itself was just “fine”… I didn’t ride the first half forward enough so we got deep a few places, but Presto has been jumping so much better through his body (and is so deeply unchallenged by 1 meter) that he easily compensated. Once I actually put him out in front of me more and let him go more forward it smoothed out and was a lot better. I dunno y’all, I’m just kind of slow on the uptake sometimes.
Thanks to Presto (perhaps less so his pilot) we managed a clear round and stayed on our dressage score to retain the lead. I was pleased with him – I’m always pleased with him when he shows signs of maturity like that – especially since there were plenty of rails falling all day in all the divisions. He’s a good boy when it matters.
Then it was a quick trip back to the trailer to put our extra stuff on for XC!
We’re now 2 for 2 so far on fillies this year, with surrogate mare Blue delivering a super adorable filly on Tuesday morning. Blue did amazing and has been a super mother, albeit a little bit of a helicopter parent.
Rue is bay with a star, but will definitely gray out like her sire Utrillo, she’s already got hints of gray goggles around her eyes.
So far Rue is very sweet and really likes people, much like her big brother Percy. She’s still unfolding and figuring out her legs, but has already become very proficient at bouncing and even pretty good at cantering (her legs move a little bit in slo-mo at the moment).
Michelle is thrilled to get another filly from Lissa, the Grand Prix mare. This one won’t be for sale!
This week has really gotten away from me. It’s busybusybusy season around here and sometimes I just plain run out of time to sit down and write. This blog post has been 4 days in the making. Let’s catch you up on the goings-on in Floridaland.
Last week everyone got shots and coggins, which involved bringing Fay (did I mention we settled on the name Fay after Fay Presto? I don’t remember. Anyway, if I didn’t say it before, you know now.) out of the filly pasture at the back of the property and up to the front barn and into a stall. She was quite fantastic. Marched right away from all her friends without a care in the world, came happily into the stall, and proceeded to hoover two flakes of hay in less than an hour. She was slightly skeptical of being stabbed by the vet, but didn’t put up too much of a protest.
She has also worked her way to the top of the hierarchy in the filly pasture. I thought she might, because she was queen of the group at her previous home, but she had a power struggle with Teddy here for about a week. Fay now reigns supreme. Which honestly Teddy had coming to her because that pony is a bossy little thing and I don’t think she’s ever played second fiddle. I dunno what Fay did to win that one, but now if she so much as glares at the other fillies they all scatter. (I am secretly proud of this)
I also got approval from the board of sBs to get her registration papers through them. Her dam is an imported Hanoverian and approved for breeding with Hano, but her TB sire has not done any breeding approvals yet so she didn’t have papers. Luckily he is JC registered, so we’re able to do DNA verification and all that, and as a TB he fits into the pedigree requirements of the warmblood books. I had to get special permission, but they granted it, so Fay will be able to get full papers and a passport issued from Belgium, to make her officially officially. Granted, her name will be on her papers as P-Simsalabim, because 2021 was a “P” naming year for sBs. I didn’t want to change the official name she was given, so its fine… her papers will just have a P in front of it. I made the joke that it’s Pssssssiiimmmsalabim like she’s a Parcelmouth. Apologies to the non-Harry Potter fans out there who have no idea what that reference means.
Michelle also arrived back in town last week with the rest of the WTW mares in tow. Now the whole crew is here, including SADIE!
It’s my goal to do some kind of photo shoot with Presto and Sadie at some point. I swear they recognized each other… Sadie doesn’t normally leave the group to come up to the fence but she does when I bring Presto over.
I’ve been working a lot on various projects, so otherwise nothing super noteworthy has happened. I’ve covered a couple clinics for EN (William Fox Pitt and Jonelle Price) and have been learning all about making WIkipedia pages (kill me), and getting some travel plans in order for the next couple months to cover some events (hello TerraNova and Kentucky).
We’ve had a jump lesson and a dressage lesson in the past week and a half, tweaking some things in between shows. Particularly on the flat. Honestly I think we’re nailing it. This is how it’s done.
Really he’s been great, and my favorite thing about him is that even toward the end of what’s been a fairly rapidfire show season, every single day he still meets me at the gate when he sees me coming. I joke that he’s the laziest feral horse I’ve ever ridden (because he is) but he really does love his work and learning and going places and doing things. Having one like that makes it all so much easier. Everything is fun when you’re Presto, even if it’s hard.
Which, also, I have to record this for the sake of posterity… there for a moment we found ourselves atop the USEA leaderboard for Training Master Amateur Rider.
Ok we’re still tied for first, but like I said – it won’t last long. Y’all know I think points-based things are silly, but it does make me proud of Noodle. He’s stepped up and shown his class.
On a related note, it was extremely rude to find out that I’m now in the MASTER category. What the actual fuck y’all. I thought I had a few more years. Kinda forgot I turn 40 this year until I saw that, and now I may or may not be having an existential crisis. It’s fine.
Thursday we’re showing at Ocala again and then depending on how that goes we’ll solidify our late spring plans. Either way I think we’ll take a break from shows for about a month probably, which is more for the sake of my brain than anything else. It already feels like it’s been a long season, and we’ve got plenty to work on in the meantime!
We’re currently still awaiting the arrival of the second foal of the season (Blue’s got another week or so probably), so in the meantime it remains the Rihanna show. And honestly that show was starting to get a little boring, because this girl’s favorite two pass times are eating and sleeping. Enter, everyone’s favorite foal companion: Ball.
Sometimes the fillies aren’t all that interested in Ball. They just often aren’t as playful as the colts, and after a sniff and a bite and kick they often wander away. Not so with Queen Ri. She approached it pretty bravely, gave it a good sniff, and then proceeded to unleash an arsenal of maneuvers on Ball.
First things first, according to RiRi… you gotta start small with a lick and a nibble. This is how she greets everything, including humans. I have been licked from top to bottom many times over by now.
Maybe it’s for smooshing?
Hmmm… that wasn’t so satisfying either. Perhaps it’s meant to be used with your feet?
Ah, yes. Now we’re on to something.
Cue the aggravated assault.
Poor Ball. Once she discovered violence there was no turning back. That thing got kicked and pounced upon like RiRi was inside her own personal rage room.
She did jump it once too, in case you were wondering whether or not the breeding shines through on the babies.
After that Ball had to retire to his chamber for some much needed R&R (aka he had to leave before she murdered him or herself). I’m sure he’ll come back to visit again soon!
I’ve had a lot of questions lately from people wanting updates on my equipment – from my saddle to my XC colors to my helmets to my show coat. It definitely has been a while since I’ve done a full post about everything, and a lot has changed in the past year, so let’s go over it!
How about tack first, and then we can move on to outfits?
The show photogs here don’t take pics of the dressage phase so you’re gonna have to cope with a screenshot for that.
This is the saddle I picked up last year for a song and restored. It’s not like… my dream saddle or anything, but it works really well for both me and Presto. At some point when he’s done growing I’ll invest in something nicer, but for now I just get it checked by the saddle fitter every 6 months and so far so good. For what I paid for it, it’s been a great find. The Bates leathers I bought secondhand from someone many years ago – credit to them for lasting so long, they’re still going strong – and the stirrups I picked up on sale a few months ago because I wanted black ones on my dressage saddle. They come in a bajillion colors.
I picked up this bridle used for an excellent price because I just love the look of the square raised, extra padded Devoucoux noseband. I also picked up the Thinline reins used, and really like how they feel in my hands on the flat. Granted, this bridle is starting to look a little abused so I’ll probably be shopping for a new show bridle in the not so distant future and retire this one to just daily use. I just have to find one that 1) I like 2) has a plain noseband, no flash. I can’t brain about that yet.
This is what Megan had been riding him in on the flat when she had him in training, and it was one of those “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” situations. I was able to find a used one in a 5.5″ on facebook for a good price, so that’s what he’s stayed in.
He also has a navy Willow Tree Warmbloods bonnet from Equine Bonnet, but since we’ve switched over to black he’s wearing his new ITBF mesh one. It’s very punk rock with the faux leather trim, glitter piping, and spikes.
I do like these Premier Equine pads with the integrated merino wool, although I liked them more when they were like half the price they are now. or when Premier still did coupon codes. I’m salty about how much more they cost now, and shipping prices went way up too. All the horses seem to like them a lot though, Presto included.
I bought this one used forever ago for Henry. I’m a big fan of the sliding humane ends on a dressage girth, I think it makes it sit a lot better and conform to the shape of the horse. This one is nicely padded too.
I still absolutely love my saddle. I’ve loved it from day 1 and if anything I love it more now. The balance is great, the buffalo leather is grippy… it’s just perfection. 10/10 would recommend. I also love love my FreeJumps, I got them used for a good price and painted them navy. I guess I need to do them in black glitter now…
I’m pretty sure Lund is out of business now, but this was Henry’s XC bridle back in the day. I didn’t intentionally choose it for Presto, it’s just one of those things where I had it and I started using it on him one day, and now that’s just what it is. At some point I’ll upgrade but for now it’s fine.
I talked about this mind-blowing thing a while back so I won’t rehash it all again, but I remain generally pleased with how Presto goes in this bit. He definitely responds best and seems happiest in it, with the pressure distributed between the nose, bars, and poll rather than just the bars or bars/poll. I don’t think this will be his “forever” bit, but for where we’re at now, it’s been really helpful for him. He’s a nose pressure kinda guy, it seems.
Same thoughts as above, although I’m strongly considering switching to an Ecogold. I don’t like the shape of the Premier jump pad and considering how much sweatier he gets while doing the things that require jump tack, the stains from my saddle and the horse have been hard to get out of this cotton. My jump pad looks significantly more used and abused than my dressage pad does.
This girth is just fine. I like the navy touches (even if I don’t wear navy anymore) and it’s soft against the horses. They seem to like it. Granted I think the quality looks cheaper than the price, and the little snap holding the d-ring on mine broke like day 2. I wouldn’t (and didn’t) pay full price for it, but it’s not awful.
Strapgoods: Generic running martingale and custom breastplate
My “Freedom” breastplate was handmade for us by a friend who also does leather work. Very hard to tell, but it has navy padding. I just love how it sits on him. As for the running… I honestly have no idea what brand it is, it’s a generic flat running martingale that I think I paid $30 for.
It kind of depends on the day, how hot it is, what I feel like, how he’s been jumping, if we’re going straight to XC afterward, etc etc. If it’s super hot or he’s been lazy or we’re going to XC straight afterward, I tend to forego the boots for SJ or just put his XC bell boots on.
Accoutrements: If I wear spurs it’s usually the tiny rollerballs. I do carry a whip with him while jumping, which… I had been using my custom jockey whip (that I seem to have lost) but now that I’ve been borrowing Hillary’s 360 GT whip, I LOVE that one. The big foam popper is just right.. almost feels a bit like tapping them with a pool noodle lol. Will be getting my own.
After using Majyk Equipe for so long, a brand I really do love, it was sad for me to have to switch. Unfortunately Presto is just kind of in between sizes for them, so either they don’t cover what they should, or they rub him. The Premier’s run a bit long, which is perfect for him, and so far they’ve been great. The no-turn overreach boots are a preference of my trainer, and I don’t care much about bell boot style either way, so we just rock those.
This was a spur of the moment impulse purchase, one I don’t regret. I’ve grown to really love the glossy helmets that are “in” right now, and of course I love glitter, so when I saw this one (and it was on sale for like $100) I figured YOLO. It actually fits me really well, has good ventilation, and looks really nice. It’s a lot, for sure, but in a way that I love. I get a lot of compliments on it. Plus, ya know… you can spot me from across a crowded warmup really easily.
Basically I have a hot weather shirt and a cool weather shirt. Or I opt to wear the long-sleeve if coats are waived, since I’d rather have a black and white look than an all white one. I need to review the Halter Ego shirts I got, they’ve really upped their game on that front and have some cute ones. The Samshield one I got at a much discounted price from Europe, and I got it specifically because it’s black glitter. Commitment to the sparkle.
If you’re gonna wear a stock tie, there is no better one than this. The pictures don’t capture in all it’s glory, but it’s made of glittery fabric. t’s sparkly, it goes great with the helmet, and it’s pre-tied because I’m lazy. *chef’s kiss*
I dunno who decided to call the color “dust” because it’s actually a gorgeous sky blue. I love this jacket, it’s lightweight and fits great and is easy to wash. This company at one point made a black sparkly one too but it was a limited run and I haven’t been able to find it in my size. If I did I would buy it in a heart beat (I need a small, if anyone out there stumbles across it!). The only downside is that pretty much all their colors are limited runs.
I actually like the B Vertigo ones fine (they’re nothing amazing but they’re def better than a lot of whites) and bought several pairs of them when they were in a BOGO sale. And then I got them and figured out that I actually need a size down so now I just have a collection of pants that are too big. That’s fun. If anyone needs any size 28 B Vertigo Lauren’s, I’m your girl. So after one show where Hillary literally had to safety pin the waist of my pants to make them stay up, I bought the Struck’s… which actually fit and are nice, but I only have one pair of them.
I have two belts that I rotate between, both black and navy, and both sparkly. The Boy o Boy ribbon belt is black glitter with dark navy, and the Remarkable Leather Goods is black leather with metallic navy padding. They’re both stunning.
I’ve been really happy with both pairs of Romitelli’s I have, so much so that I ordered another pair that has some sky blue accents to coordinate with my coat. They haven’t come yet, so I show in my black ones with the black glitter top, and I love them.
Gloves: Cavalleria Toscana Schooling Gloves
CT keeps killing my dreams by changing their glove designs every season. The ones I have that I love are an old design that aren’t available anymore and I wear them for everyday plus for dressage at shows, so when they die I’m gonna be the saddest.
Accoutrements: I usually carry a whip and wear spurs with him for dressage… sometimes tiny roller balls, sometimes bigger roller balls, depending on the day.
This is basically the same as dressage, but ditch the stock tie and change the gloves. Unless we’re running XC right after SJ, in which case I go in my XC outfit just sans vest.
This company closed down for regular sales, just doing occasional pop-ups now, and it’s made me sad.
Cross Country Outfit
The fun part! Most of you have noticed that I’m no longer rocking navy… it just wasn’t Presto’s style. My color for him is black glitter, it’s more punk rock. It’s also kinda fun – no one else is out there in glitter, but it’s unique without being bright. There’s nothing wrong with bright, it’s just not my style.
Yep, another black glitter Samshield shirt. I just love the fabric, and this base layer shirt is just as nice as the show shirt version. Granted, it’s an old season fabric so it’s almost impossible to find now… I was lucky to nab one of the last ones on the entire internet in my size. It’s fun though, because glitter.
I love love love love love my Champion. It’s lightweight, comfortable, has decent air flow, and is BETA 3 rated. I do feel like they run bigger than the size chart (I got a S and could have sized down to XS) but I like that they’re quite adjustable, too.
I also love love love love love my Champion skull cap. It fits me great, has the highest safety ratings, and is quite comfy for a skull cap. This one is coming up on it’s 5 years so I’ll have to replace it soon, and I’ll probably just get the same helmet again.
Coincidence that Majyk Equipe sells sparkly skull cap covers that just so happened to match my glittery shirt?
Pinney Holder: Custom from Etsy
I got this from a shop that is no longer active, but it’s made from silver glitter elastic. It’s a vibe.
The gloves, boots, whip, spurs, and breeches stay the same as from showjumping, and then add the optimum time watch that used to be yellow but I painted to be black with glitter (shocking, I know).
I think that brings us up to date on everything? I’m sure there will still be some changes made, with things replaced or swapped out or whatever, but for the most part I feel pretty pleased with the state of the kit at the moment.
I do actually have a lot of pics from this show and could break it up into two posts, but 1) don’t wanna 2) I have no actual dressage media so. Jump phases, yes?
This is probably where I should fess up and say that I had an epic meltdown a couple days before the show. We went for a couple jumper rounds and it was one of those days where I just felt like I was riding like total shit. I got very frustrated with myself, decided I was probably ruining my horse, and legit thought I should just quit. Hardest of spirals. There were tears. I’m generally not a super emotive person, meltdowns are rare from me, but when they happen they are epic. Trainer legit had to talk me down out of a panic attack. That was… humiliating.
So ya know… I wasn’t exactly in the best headspace going into this show.
I entered Training Horse again at this one so I could go Fri/Sat instead of Sat/Sun. It’s just my preference with my schedule… the pro divisions always go earlier. On Friday we only had dressage, which was blah. I believe my exact words were “shit sandwich”. The footing was extremely deep and churned up in the corners and Presto picked up a cross canter (legit don’t think he’s ever picked up a cross canter from the trot before) going to the left, so I had to trot again to fix it, which just made him mad for the lengthening. We lost a lot of points there on those movements. And then in the halt he took a step backwards, so ouch for that 4. The rest was ok… there were some good moments but nothing outstanding or anywhere near what we’re capable of. It scored a 33, which doesn’t get you very high up the board in Ocala in a pro division. I’m starting to get annoyed with my inability to put together an entire good test.
I was not the most excited for showjumping, after our little jumper show fiasco. (Ok it was my fiasco. Presto did nothing wrong and didn’t give a shit about any of it, I was the one in crisis). So basically before SJ I was like weeeelllll let’s just try not to fuck this up too badly I guess? The course was a little weird too… the ring at Rocking Horse is small so it always is a bit more challenging but the first few jumps all had an odd placement too. I’d watched a lot of rounds the day before and it was causing a fair amount of problems. Cool cool. And then what felt like every single person I know was like “oh we’re gonna come watch your showjumping!”. Great. Awesome. Please bring low expectations and severe short term memory loss. Blindness maybe?
What do you know, we went in and put down what was probably the best round we’ve had yet. I rode, Presto listened, it flowed great… nice clear easy peasy round. I am not questioning the showjumping gods for doing me a solid on that one. I think the weirder the course is, the better it is for my lizard brain.
We went straight to XC from showjumping, which is a format I’ve come to prefer. It’s easier and gives me less time to malfunction.
For the most part I thought this course was pretty friendly. The first fence could potentially be a bit tricky because it was located at an immediate 90 degree angle to the start box and right next to warmup. You’d have to come out of the box and really get them locked on to their job post haste. The first 5 were just simple jumps though, all with inviting profiles. The first combo came at 6 and was two ramps on an angle, same question we had a couple shows ago. I thought this walked a bit off, like if you jumped in slow or deep or were on a short-strided horse it would be a 4 but if you jumped in a bit more bold or were on a big-strided horse it could also be a 3.
Then there were a couple more friendly jumps before you got to the crater, which was a REALLY interesting question with how they placed the Training jumps. There was a rolltop just a couple strides before a very steep downhill slide, then back up an equally steep mound, and a corner set a few strides out from the top on an angle. BUT – the mounds weren’t flagged, just the jumps, so technically you could take a lot of different paths. Trainer and I walked a few different options – straight through up and over both, or jumping the rolltop on an angle and going around the mounds entirely, OR (my preference) jumping the rolltop, trotting down the slide, diverting right of the second mound to go up a smaller/less steep hill, then turning left to jump the corner straight-on. I thought that was the most fair option for a young horse, so that was my plan.
After the crater was the big MIM oxer, then a simple rolltop, then we were at the water. This was the one I had the most concern for with my horse, because they had us passing through a dark, murky, hard to see, tippy tip of the water. I thought Presto might honestly try to jump over the whole damn thing. We had a rolltop just before the water and then another one a few strides out of the water up on a mound, so… there was no room for that kind of fuckery.
After that it was a simple steeplechase fence, another table, and then to the next combo, although it technically wasn’t flagged as an A/B. 15 was a trakehner, and then 7 or 8 strides bending left to a skinny house at 16. That trakehner was decently wide and deep, the real deal.
After that we had a sharks tooth, and then to our last combo on course, which was probably the beefiest one. Big skinny brush wedge, 6 or 7 bending strides (depending on how brave you were about being slightly off center vs very center to center) to another skinny brush wedge. Yeehaw y’all. Presto is fairly new to the skinny brush wedge questions but he’s been very honest to all the ones he’s seen, so I was excited to tackle this question… it felt like something that really builds them up as prep for the next level.
Then there was just another table at the last.
Aside from the water, where I figured I might just have to be a little extra proactive, the rest seemed like a fun time.
After SJ we came out of the ring, slapped his XC boots and my vest on, and off to XC warmup I went. They were running early and taking people as they came, so it was nice and quiet. We hopped over a couple jumps, then did one on an angle a couple times, and then headed to the start box. Trainer bid us adieu and good luck and then walked out to get a good viewing spot while we circled the box.
Which is when I realized that I had not a damn clue what optimum time was. lolz why am I like this? But meh – I didn’t think it really mattered either. I have a good idea now of what 450-475mpm feels like on him, and I knew where we could hustle more vs where we’d have to go slower.
I left the box with intention, sliding through on an angle from left to right so there wasn’t as much of a sharp turn to the first jump. We trotted out, picked up the canter, I tapped him lightly behind my leg with the stick as reinforcement of the fact that it was time to focus on his job, and he hopped over the first one great. Where the first couple jumps were located is an area of their XC course he hasn’t been in yet, so I could feel him just kind of looking around a bit. Since the first few jumps were just simple gallopy fences, I opted to send him more forward here and set the tone immediately that we were here to do the runny jumpies, not to spectate or look for demons in the bushes. He got to work and popped over 2 and 3 super.
After 3 we came out into the big field and he looked over to the right to watch another horse going through the crater in the distance. I was like “hi hello excuse me, we’re busy here” and he was like “oh yeah right”, and put his head back down. We popped over 4, then 5. He feels zero percent impressed by any of those anymore, he’s just loping over.
Then we made the turn back to 6AB, the first combo. Presto was rolling along nicely in balance so I just lined up the flowers middle to middle let him keep coming there. We landed and I immediately knew that 4 strides weren’t happening without a massive pull, so I just closed my leg and he opened up for the 3.
7 and 8 were delightfully boring, and then before you knew it we were at the crater. Trainer advised to try to get him a little bit quieter/deeper to 8 so that coming back for a nice quiet jump into the crater was easier, and we did that. I lined him up to the rolltop and he locked right on, no hesitation but he was definitely paying attention to what was coming up after.
I was super proud of him here, he was so clever and rideable. I had him back down to trot within a couple strides, he picked his way down the slope, I veered right and asked him to canter again and he went politely back up the next hill, turned left, and popped over the corner like it was the most boring exercise in the world. Kid has come a long way in the last few months.
That question caught a lot of people out, but he could not possibly have given less of a shit.
After that we had a couple more gallop fences, the MIM oxer (which looks so big in person and so tiny in photos, it’s infuriating) and a rolltop on the way to the water.
Trainer advised that I land from the blue rolltop and give him a little tap behind the leg as a “hey, listen up here buddy, pay attention and go forward” before we got close to the water. I did that and he went up nicely into my hand, and I was able to close my leg and ride him forward to the water. He didn’t see it until he was in the air over the rolltop in…
and he did put his head and neck down to peek at the water as he went in, but he didn’t slow down. A little hop into the edge, and then we were through it and out the other side, up the mound to pop over the other rolltop.
Then it was an easy gallop over the steeplechase, straight ahead to jump the cutout table on a bit of an angle just to save a bit of ground. I honestly wasn’t sure what he’d make of the trakehner at 15, it was a much deeper and bigger ditch under it than he’s seen at one so far, and while he did make more effort over it, he again never slowed his momentum. We popped over that, immediately got his eye on the hut, and it rode super.
The arrowhead was also easy, and then we were at the wedges. Trainer had advised that if he was feeling good to maybe aim ever so slightly off-center (aka aim at the 1 on the number instead of the 8) and ride them straighter in the 6 rather than more bending in the 7. We did that and the 6 came up perfect. He locked on to both of them as soon as he saw them and was very pro through that question (another one that caught a lot of people out). I think those were his best two jumps of the whole round.
After that it was just a quick pop over the last table and through the flags! We crossed the line in 5:06, and the OT was 5:22, so I was pleased with that.
As I was walking away from the finish line back towards the trailers, the person sitting in the SUV past the finish rolled down their window and yelled my name. I walked over and saw that it was Peter Gray, who was there as president of the ground jury. I’ve met and talked to Peter several times over the years but haven’t seen him in quite a while. He asked me how my round was (I said “great, he’s feeling much less green”) and Peter said that our ride through the skinny brushes was the best he’d seen so far. High praise from Peter… I’ll take it! In turn I told him that his dressage test read throughs on Ride iQ are my favorite (which is 100% true, I listen to them on the way to shows!).
Overall we finished on our dressage score which moved us up to 5th. I’ll take that too. Mostly though I was very pleased that this round felt very easy and confident – Presto isn’t seeming surprised by how fast things come up anymore. He just hunted the flags and went to them. Signs of maturity, dare we say?
It both should and shouldn’t. You’ve never met this horse before. I’ve never posted any pictures of her here. But if you’re thinking she looks a hell of a lot like Presto, you would be extremely correct. The resemblance is uncanny, especially when looking at their faces from the front.
So who is this adorable little creature, you may be asking? Uh, well… hi hello yes, this is our new filly. Say hello to Simsalabim, a 2yo filly by Saketini xx out of Mary Lou S (Mighty Magic x Ramiro’s Son II).
Losing Gemma sucked. A lot. Especially because we really bought her to use for breeding, and we had started shopping for stallions to breed her to. Hillary’s horse is 7 this year, and Presto is 6, so like… if we’re thinking about breeding the next generation, so to speak, now is the time to put that wheel in motion. Our dreams for that died along with Gemma. We sort of discussed starting to keep our eyes peeled for another OTTB mare at some point, certainly not feeling like we were in any sort of rush. We wanted it to be the right one, whenever and wherever we found her.
And then a local friend of mine reached out to me on facebook after she heard about Gemma. The woman has bred a few foals in the past few years but has decided that the whole breeding thing isn’t for her (smart lady!) and sold her broodmare a few months ago.
The first filly she had, now a 2yo, is by a TB eventing stallion and out of a Mighty Magic (Presto’s sire) mare. Indeed, the whole reason this woman and I even know each other is because of her MM mare. Because, you know… me and MM offspring, I am a stalker. Anyway, the filly had a pasture injury that will preclude her from a serious sport career, and since the woman is no longer breeding, she didn’t really have a use for the filly. That’s when she reached out to me. She knows I like and understand the MM brain, and her seasonal boarders (a 5* rider and her wife – who does our horses’ bodywork) also vouched for us being a potentially great home.
We went last week to see her and it was a bit of love of first sight for both me and Hillary. I am of course obsessed with her breeding, and she looks remarkably like Presto so ya know – done deal for me. She’s also an incredibly nice filly in her own right though, and really exciting as a broodmare prospect. Her damline has produced some really cool top level horses – everything from a 1.55m showjumper to a 4* eventer to a 4th level dressage horse. (I’ll have to do a Family Tree post for her at some point) Of course she’s just coming 2, so it would be next year before we looked at breeding her, which gives us time to play with her, learn about her, and maybe lightly start her under saddle to give us a better idea of what she’s like. Perfect.
It wasn’t my intention to really look for anything again for a while, and we figured it would be another OTTB, but for a horse like this to just fall into our laps seems like a sign from the universe. All the best ones kind of find their way to you, don’t they? To top it all off, she only lived 10 minutes up the road. I dunno how much more perfect it can get.
We went to pick her up on Saturday and she walked right in the trailer like a pro, rode down to our farm, unloaded, took one look around, and started eating grass. We brought her into the barn to brush her and chop her mane off and she immediately stuck one of the crossties in her mouth. Yes yes, you will fit in here just fine. She’s now settled into the filly pasture like a champ, and is really a smart girl. I love her.
Her barn name is Simi but we don’t totally love that so we’ve been kicking around other options… haven’t landed on anything 100% yet. She’s already gotten the unfortunate nickname of Sis from me and Bunny from Hillary so we’re gonna have to decide fast so I can quit referring to her as NotSemiOrSisorBunnyMaybeFayOrSomething.
When it comes to foals, I think week 2 is prime time as far as entertainment value. In their first week they’re still wobbly and sleep constantly, but by week 2 they’ve found their feet a little bit, are more curious, and have a little more stamina. They start discovering their world a little bit more and explore things without being quite so glued to their dam. It’s when you start to really see what their personality is like, as they become comfortable in the world.
This little fuzzmonster is no exception.
RiRi is… something else. Her name is very appropriate. She is sassy and confident and very curious, and pretty bold. She also likes to explore things by putting them in her mouth, which is perhaps more or less endearing depending on how you feel about that. There is not an inch of me or her pasture or her stall that her mouth has not touched.
Not even the waterer is safe from her.
When she isn’t trying to eat or lick things, she’s either running or sleeping. She loves both of those things in equal measure.
As far as her gaits go, we’ve seen a decent bit of her walk by now…
A tiny bit of trot…
And a whole heck of a lot of gallop.
All gallop all the time. You can tell she’s got a lot of TB in her.
And sass, we’ve also seen lots of sass. There’s plenty of that in her, too.
Aside from all the cute foal stuff, she’s also shown us a glimpse of what a stunning mare she’ll be some day, too.
You’re a stunner, RiRi. And a bit of a weirdo, but all the best ones are.