Foal Friday: You do You

There are some technical issues getting new pics uploaded, so instead today I’ve a video of Quinlee being… well… Quinlee. It’s made even better by Michelle’s narration.

Happy Friday everyone, and happy Memorial Day weekend. I won’t have time to put together a list of sales but Riding Warehouse has up to 40% off, if you’re looking to burn some cash. 😉

The Benjamin Button Effect

I was admittedly a little worried about moving Henry to Florida.

Mainly because of the weather. He struggles in heat and humidity, and was basically miserable from May through October in Texas. Like, huffing and puffing all day even under multiple fans, didn’t sweat very well, etc. So I was really worried about how he’d handle the humidity of this area.

What I failed to really take into account is that Texas, at least where we were, is just as damn humid as Florida. It’d be 85 degrees with 98% humidity at 7am, and even when the intense heat burned off some of the humidity, the heat itself was just so incredibly brutal. There was no relief from it until the sun went down (at which point, cue the rise in humidity again). The weather was already starting to do that in Texas by the end of April, setting itself up for an extra long and miserable summer. It has been considerably more pleasant these past few weeks we’ve been in Florida than it was in Texas last month.

It’s humid here, for sure, don’t get me wrong. I’m covered in sweat by the time I’m done riding every morning. That’s not at all new though, it was the same way in Texas. I’m used to moist air. What’s different, and I think what makes the difference, is that the heat just isn’t as intense. Even if it’s the same temperature it doesn’t have that “rip the air out of your lungs” baking suffocating intensity that the Texas heat has. And it’s definitely not as unrelenting either… most afternoons some clouds roll in and make it downright pleasant, even if it’s warm. And when they don’t, it still cools off significantly in the early evening, with a nice little breeze (not a “rip your goddamn eyeballs right out of your head” wind like Texas loves to feature). So even in the heat of the day, Henry stands and naps under the trees in his turnout, and has had no issues at all yet. Not even a hint of a huff or a puff. And the heat of the day isn’t like, 8 hours long anymore. He’s been much happier and is coping way better than I would have imagined.

Granted, I know it’s only the end of May and things will definitely only get hotter, but the fact that it IS the end of May and he’s still this happy with zero signs of struggle… that in itself is so much better. Normally he’d have been on the struggle bus for a few weeks already by now.

The other interesting thing (that I had not accounted for at all) is how much better he feels on this softer ground. The ground in Texas is hard and rocky pretty much all the time, even though he lived on one of the best soils you could find in that area. Still… it was just hard ground. Here the ground is so sandy and springy and soft… it feels like he’s aged backwards 5 years. He’s felt absolutely fantastic since we got here, and we were even able to pull the pads out of his shoeing setup last week. He’s done a whole Benjamin Button thing since becoming a Florida horse basically – def not 15 years old anymore, I think we’ve reset back to 10. Which of course makes me absolutely delighted.

no pads in dem feets!

We’ll see how he does as summer ramps up for real, especially with his skin. That was my other concern here. So far so good, but I’m being pretty diligent. Henry and Gemma both have really sensitive skin. Of course, the only issue I’ve actually had so far is Presto’s little pink nose getting sunburned since he likes to nap in the sand pit in his pasture in the afternoon sun for literally hours. Had to get him some stuff to put on his poor lil nose!

I haven’t felt like I’ve needed fly sheets so far either, which I’m glad about. I was worried the bugs would be so unrelenting that I wouldn’t have a choice, but so far daily fumigations with Pyranha and Swat have worked pretty well at keeping the bugs off. I think we’re all glad to have escaped the horrible bot flies that were so bad in Texas in the spring… they drove Henry NUTS, he would start running frantic circles in the pasture to try to escape them, and they weren’t deterred by any fly spray. Horrid things.

Fingers crossed, but so far so good with their general acclimation to Florida, especially Henry. Would would have thunk it?

Trying (and buying) Saddles

I’m starting to think that it would be easier to just make it a requirement that all of my horses are shaped exactly the same so that I never have to buy or fit saddles ever again. Isn’t saddle shopping everyone’s nightmare? On the surface it seems like it should be fun… shopping for a fancy nice horse item. But it’s not. It’s not at all. It’s $$$$$$ and a pain in the ass and there’s a lot of pressure to get it very right. So much anxiety. And then horses change shape and you have to do it again. Or you get another horse that doesn’t fit the same saddle. My palms get clammy just thinking about it.

All this to say that, naturally, Henry’s jump saddle does not fit Gemma or Presto. This isn’t news – Henry’s jump saddle has never come remotely close to fitting Presto. Henry is a curvaceous, shapely boy, and Presto is narrow and much flatter-backed with a higher wither. They’re polar opposites. That saddle has always rocked like crazy on him, it’s way too curvy and too wide. Even if you shim it as much as humanly possible, it’s so bad you can feel it moving when you post. Not workable in the least.

Poor old Devoucoux

The good news is that Presto and Gemma are built much more similarly. They can definitely get away with sharing a saddle. Of course, that means Henry’s saddle doesn’t even come remotely close to fitting Gemma either. And aside from the fact that it doesn’t fit either of them, it’s also too big for me. Forty pounds ago it wasn’t so bad, but now there’s so much extra seat that I get pulled further back than I want to be so I feel like I’m constantly fighting to scoot forward and get my leg underneath me. On Henry it’s not so bad, he’s like riding a barrel so your leg just falls in one spot and that’s where it’s gonna be no matter what. On the others though… it’s awful. I legit can’t even sit the canter on either of them in it, I just slide right to the back and out goes my leg into the front. Part of that is how it fits the horses, part of it is the seat being way too big (I can legit fit almost two hands behind me), and part of it is that it’s 10 year old calf leather that is slick as snot.

Hillary really saved my ass (literally) by leaving her Voltaire here for me to borrow in the short term. Hers isn’t exactly the right fit for me but it’s lightyears better, and I can actually ride Gemma and Presto in it without being on the big time struggle bus. It fits both of them significantly better too – no rocking. But, ya know, she’s gonna need her saddle back at some point, so I knew this summer I’d have to figure something out, preferably sooner rather than later. I feel like a butthole putting miles on her saddle, even if she was nice enough (so freaking nice) to let me use it.

the Voltaire

My original plan was to keep an eye out for one similar to Hillary’s but with a more forward cut flap. I’m kind of borderline between forward and extra forward, but if I shorten my stirrup much more at all, I end up with my knee on the block. At Kentucky I was able to sit in one that had the more forward flap and confirm that yep, that was the spec I needed. I got the contact number for the local Voltaire rep and was going to get in touch with them when I got settled here in Florida to see if they could find me a used one.

And then we saw the Arion saddles at Kentucky too. I’d been curious about them for a while, having first seen them on Instagram (whoever came up with this particular marketing strategy, give them a raise):

I’d been curious about Arion too because I’d heard that Jean Luc Devoucoux was designing and making them, and I loved Devoucoux before it was part of the CWD conglomerate.

Anyway, as I mentioned in the Kentucky recap, I was really impressed by the Arion saddles there. To me they kind of looked like a mix between the Devoucoux and the Voltaire, as far as the structure of the XC saddle went. The leather was nicer than I had expected (it’s definitely French) and the price point was a bit lower than the other comparable brands. They’re newer to the market, still trying to expand and compete with the big dogs… sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s not. I liked the saddles enough to ask for the contact info of the Florida rep, because I really wanted to ride in one.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the Voltaire a lot. Do I think it’s perfect for me? No. There are some things I don’t love. I like it enough to buy a used one for sure, and they definitely aren’t that difficult to find used, which is a bonus. But also, I just wanted to try the dang Arion. Curiosity killed the cat, and if I’m gonna be spending bank on a saddle then I want to buy the one I like most. When I went home and did some Googling and talked to people about the brand a lot of people had positive feedback.

When I looked up the rep, Luca, on facebook I saw that we had some mutual friends, and one in particular. I messaged her to ask about him (my general distrust of saddle reps runs DEEP) and she had nothing but good things to say about him. She and I have similar taste in people, so her opinion holds a lot of sway. I talked to him on the phone and texted back and forth with him a bit, and we set up a time for him to drive up from West Palm Beach with some saddles for me to try.

Of course while he was here I was so focused on what I was doing and our conversation that I completely forgot to ask Luca to take any video or pics when I was riding. Massive fail. He snapped one right as I was about to get off. This one was an 18 extra forward, and we both agreed that extra forward was right, but 17.5 would be better. I did sit in a 17 in another model but felt like it was just a wee bit too small. I want to be sat in the right balance point, but I don’t need a cantle up my butt, and especially on XC I want to have a little bit of room to move.

I did like the saddle a lot. It had a lot of the features I liked about my Devoucoux in the first place, but with the security I feel in the Voltaire. I do think it rides like kind of a mix of the two. Fit-wise it’s a lot more like the Voltaire, so it sat considerably better on my horses than the Devoucoux. The panel with a bit of extra shoulder room worked best for both. The demo was calf leather and I definitely did miss the buffalo of the Voltaire on Presto… he’s just got a lot of motion in his ocean and the buffalo definitely helps. I liked the balance of it a lot though, and something about the pommel/twist/seat was more comfortable for me than the Voltaire (which, TMI, for some reason makes my crotch go numb when I go on long hacks). I felt like I could sit in it, I felt like I could get up out of it and gallop, and I felt balanced. At one point I cantered over a cavaletti and Mina ran right in front of it, causing Presto to leap over it awkwardly sideways, and I still felt like I was easily able to stay in the middle of him.

So ya know, then we started talking price and options. Cue the sweating.

I got the quote, and then took the rest of the week to think about it. This is a big deal, I wanted to really consider all my options and not make a rash decision.

In the end though, Arion won out. I like Luca and so far the brand has given me nothing but a good impression. Ultimately we settled on the XC model in buffalo, regular length extra forward flap, a bit of a shoulder cut out on the panel, and dark blue piping. They were able to work with me a bit to help with the price. It’s still a lot, for sure. Especially to me. I have never ever in my entire life purchased a brand new saddle. Ever. Not in all my almost 39 years. Especially not a nice one. It makes my heart skip a few beats. But it would also be really nice to have something that actually fits my horses and myself and doesn’t have someone else’s use and abuse and damage, that could potentially last me a long time. Plus by the time all was said and done it ended up being not much more money than a used Voltaire would have been, so… here we are.

They said it’s taking about 5 weeks right now for custom, which seems impossibly fast to me, but I guess we’ll see. Perk of a smaller newer brand I suppose. Fingers crossed it goes uneventfully and it’s perfect and I love it. Until then if you need me I’ll be sweating a bunch of saddle-shaped bullets.

As Advertised

Somehow another week has gone by. Time flies when you’re having fun. Or when you’re busy. Or both. It can definitely be both.

The looks Presto gives the Pivo are hilarious. He lives to try to knock it over.

I feel like I’m settled into the routine now, which is nice. I’ve gotten a handle on how to manage my time and how to structure my days to fit everything in, and in the way that makes the most sense. I’ve mostly got the horse’s ride schedules worked out too (there’s some flexibility in there of course) and I feel like now things are kind of chugging right along. As much as they do with horses anyway.

Last Monday the farrier came, which… it’s always fun when you move and have to re-build your entire team of equine professionals. This guy came highly recommended by a couple friends though, and not only does he seem capable of communication, he also shows up on time and is positive and quiet and patient with the horses. He did a great job on their feet too, especially with getting shoes back on Presto. He’d worn his hind feet down to such nubs that I wasn’t sure the farrier would be able to get shoes on them at all, but with some creativity he did manage it, and Presto is looking and feeling a lot better.

Everyone was warning me to brace myself for the Ocala farrier sticker shock but… lol. It was $25 more per horse. For a farrier who actually communicates reliably and shows up on time and does a good job. I’ll take that, thank you very much. So far that’s been my experience with just about everything. They said hay here was astronomical… it’s pretty much the same as in Texas, but it’s better quality and a much better selection. I guess the key to avoiding sticker shock is to come from an equally sticker-shocking place. Granted, these days I think it’s pretty much just all expensive everywhere. Things aren’t cheap in Ocala, but what I do absolutely LOVE (LOVELOVELOVE) is the selection. Tons of farriers, tons of vets, tons of places to get hay and feed and supplements and supplies and and and and. Soooo many different brands and styles of literally anything. I haven’t even been to all these places yet, it’ll take me months to explore it all. And everything is within 20-30 minutes. There is a lot to be said for that. It’s almost overwhelming.

Gemma, the only one who can do an entire hack of the farm and not spook at anything

On Tuesday the Arion saddle rep came out so I could demo their monoflap. If you recall I sat in one and talked to them some at Kentucky, and really wanted to ride in one. Turns out that the Florida rep is friends with a friend of mine (Megan that owns Luxe EQ) so I had a little inside connection. Luca came up from WPB with a car full of saddles, and I sat in the xc model and the dressage model. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow!

On Wednesday our friend Libby (who is also a Patreon member as well as the owner of Higher Standards Leather Care, and she’s been instrumental in getting BreedRideCompete hooked up with event organizers for live streams!) was in town, and she swung by to meet the kiddos. We’ve chatted online for so long that I already consider her a friend, even if it was the first time we’ve ever actually met in person. Presto was on his usual behavior, pulling my hat off multiple times while we were standing there talking.

Dis for me
Tanks

Libby did confirm that the horses are all exactly as advertised on the blog, so there’s that. I had a couple things to give her from the Patreon VIP giveaway stuff, and she was kind enough to bring me the newest scent of HSLC soap, Lemon-Aid, which is an exclusive they’ve made for Jeffers. It’s like a frosted lemonade or lemon cupcake – lemon with a bit of vanilla. Really nice summer scent. And perfect timing because I was just about down to the bottom of my jar of their Rosemary Mint. Highly recommend… I’ve loved HSLC for years, it’s my favorite saddle soap, and Libby and team are good people so win-win.

he showed Libby how he takes his fly boots off too

On Thursday and Saturday mornings I had to run mares across town again to Ocala Stud. Another race mare getting bred to Noble Bird on Thursday, and then one to Girvin on Saturday. I know the route now without any kind of GPS, so that’s a plus. And the breeding manager there struck up a conversation with me on Saturday, so I guess I’m at least sorta “in” now. We’ll see if these last handful of mares check in foal next week or not… would be nice if they all did, since we’re pretty much at the end of breeding season for the thoroughbreds down here.

Such a pretty farm

We got a lot of rain over the weekend but the weather has still been pretty darn nice (when compared to oven-like Texas anyway). The rain waits for the afternoon/evening so I can still fit my rides in in the morning when it’s cooler. Yesterday morning I jumped both Gemma and Presto, which was honestly a bit entertaining to do back to back like that. Gemma is a smooth little rapid-fire sportscar, and Presto is this big long-striding gallumper with tons of suspension. They are… extremely different. Extremely. And a distance that looks like it’s gonna be a bit long on Gemma or Henry is not at all a long distance on Presto. My eye is going to have to get used to that. He covers ground like nothing I have ever ridden.

this distance looked long when I came out of the corner LOL

Presto seems really happy to be back in work though, and especially hopping over some little jumps again. That horse does really love having something to do, and the harder the better. His brain is always looking for something to occupy it. On his days off from work I usually find myself in his paddock playing with him or trying to find something to keep him entertained (which often consists of putting his fly boots back on repeatedly so he can take them off again).

I love having him back, too. I love riding him, he gives you just the best feeling, even if he requires more physical effort (my abs, omg) and more mental effort (gotta stay 3 steps ahead of him at all times) than the other two. He’s a challenge, but a fun one… something different. At some point I need to find someone to take some lessons with but I’m kind of dreading that part a bit. That’s hard. My brain can’t yet. Maybe next week.

Foal Friday: Quinlee’s Guide to Not Being Annoying At All

As the only foal on the property at WTW Texas this year, Quinlee has had to learn a lot about not being annoying. There are no other foals to participate in her shenanigans, and the older horses maybe aren’t quite so interested in taking part in her idea of a good time. I mean… hard to imagine that any of them would think she’s ever annoying, but that is indeed the case. She’s here today to share her wisdom with the masses of adoring fans that she’s 100% certain she’s accrued, and she’s pretty sure she’s got this all figured out, so listen carefully.

First and foremost: food zoomies. Apparently you’re not supposed to just run full speed through someone’s food while they’re eating. Who would have thought? She can’t quite figure out why they don’t like that much, considering it’s so fun.

WHEEEEEE

Turns out that a lot of “annoying” things have to do with food. Or rather, interrupting access to their food. Like did you know that pushing your way to the front of the group to get better round bale access is apparently annoying? Yeah Quinlee can’t figure out why either.

Inca’s face says “omg someone come get your kid”

Also you’re not supposed to climb through someone’s food when they’re eating, that’s highly frowned upon too. Who would have guessed? Another one that makes no sense, considering how fun it is.

now it’s Peyton’s turn to say “omg someone come get your kid”

Oh, something else she’s learned: supposedly it’s “rude” to sniff and/or perhaps lightly nibble at someone’s butt while they’re eating. I know, I know, sounds preposterous but I guess that’s classified as annoying behavior too?

just… a little bitty… tiny lil… nibble…

Mom also keeps telling her things like “I do not exist purely for your entertainment” and “I am not a jungle gym” and “stop biting me you little twerp”. Quinlee can’t quite make heads or tails of what any of that means either, only that Inca seems to disapprove of having her halter or mane bitten and yanked on. Yet another annoying thing. So hard to keep up with all these silly rules.

what if I just sniff it….
what if I… what if I just…
BUT IT’S RIGHT THERE FOR ME TO BITE

I guess it’s a good thing she’s cute, which some of them also find super annoying, because everyone gives attention to the cute fuzzy little foal instead of them.

Quinlee just can’t win. She knows that none of these rules make any sense at all, but hopefully you’ve been able to learn a thing or two about how to not be annoying. Happy Friday!

The LRK3DE Tattoo Story

Alright, a couple weeks ago I promised y’all the full story of the tattoos that Holly, Hillary, and myself got at LRK3DE, and I’m finally circling back around to deliver on that.

A few weeks before the trip even started, I had said something in our group chat about how we should get some kind of matching tattoos while we were there. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this idea, and I can’t even tell you why. Last summer when we went to Chatt I was convinced Hillary and I should get our noses pierced while we were there, but with one of my dogs dying and me missing the first week, that didn’t come to fruition. And for some reason my brain went “hey, horsey girls trip = memorial body modification time?”. Yes brain, fantastic idea.

Side note: a few days ago on tiktok I came across a guy who gets a tattoo wherever he travels to and I was like OMG THIS IS THE BEST IDEA I’VE EVER HEARD I MUST DO THIS TOO but anyway the point is that I’m not the only one that thinks like this.

Anyway, we talked about the group tattoo idea and everyone was in, but we just couldn’t come up with something good and fitting that we all liked. The idea fizzled and died and was forgotten (except in the deep recesses of my brain, apparently).

note hat slogan

So fast forward to XC day at Kentucky. We’d wandered around the course during the 4*, stopped by the blogger meetup for a bit, grabbed lunch at the RV, and then headed back out to find a good spot for the 5*. Our other objective for the afternoon was finding the Ride iQ tailgating spot to go say hi to them. We had talked to Jessa and Kinsey the previous two days briefly at their spot in the trade fair but wanted to support them and bring more people by their tailgate.

Another side note: one of the best things about big events like LRK3DE is getting to finally put faces to the names of people you’ve talked to so much online. I’ve been a Ride iQ fan since the beginning and have happily sung it’s praises, and have chatted a good bit with Jessa and Kinsey in doing stuff with them on the blog and in my Patreon group. They’re just as awesome in person!

So anyway, we’re at their tailgating spot and they have temporary tattoos with the Ride iQ logo. I jokingly said to Jessa “how much is it worth to you if I tattooed the Ride iQ logo on myself for real?”. She laughed and said “you could do the tagline ‘pat your horse’!”. And ok, I know she thinks she was joking, but bam it hit me like lightning.

I immediately was like HILLARRRRRYYYYY HOOOLLLLYYYYYY LISTEN TO THIS IDEAAAAA!!!

And ya know, if they’re hanging out with me then we already know they’re certain types of people, so they were like

See, “Pat your horse” is something that Kyle Carter says in a lot of his Ride iQ rides, which is why they adopted it as their little slogan, but obviously it has a lot of meaning to any horseperson. Always remember to show appreciation and gratitude for your horse, basically. It’s cute. I loved it. I told the Ride iQ ladies that we were gonna do it and their faces were just absolutely priceless… it was 50% omg this is the coolest thing that has ever happened and 50% are these nutjobs for real right now??? I’m not sure if they thought we’d really go through with it.

Once I have an idea though, it’s off to the races. I started googling looking for tattoo parlors pretty much immediately. By the time XC was over I was on the phone calling all the ones that were open late enough (we had a happy hour at our camper for our Patreon members that evening, so we couldn’t make it anywhere until like 7) and had an opening that night. That narrowed it down to a grand total of one, so I made the appointment, gave them a deposit, and it was on.

this fine establishment in a strip mall

Once happy hour was over we got cleaned up and headed out, debating where we were going to put our tattoos. I had told Jessa and Kinsey when we parted ways at their tailgate that I’d keep them updated if we could find an appointment, and when I sent them the above pic from inside the tattoo parlor I’m pretty sure they were like OMG THESE CRAZY BITCHES ARE ACTUALLY GONNA DO IT. Which, since they’re cool, it delighted them to no end. Kyle Carter found it very entertaining too.

see, my behavior is “fully supported”.

We all got the same words and the same font, but different locations and thus different sizes to fit said locations. I opted to get mine on my right arm/wrist, just above my glove line on my right hand. That’s my dominant patting hand after all, and I thought it would be fun to be able to see it while I was riding.

stencil on and ready to go

Hillary opted to get hers on the inside of her middle finger, which I think we were all endlessly amused by. It’s a pretty darn clever spot and I thought it looked great there. The tattoo artist kept warning her over and over that finger tattoos hurt like a bitch, but Hillary was unimpressed. Granted, women deal with pain way better than men do (a fact that the tattoo artist also wholeheartedly agreed with). Hers was done pretty quickly.

Last but not least was Holly, the only tattoo virgin of our group. She decided to come out guns blazing on her first tattoo and get it on her rib cage. Again the tattoo artist was telling her how awful it would be, even going so far as to do a “test letter” with no ink just to make sure she could tolerate it. Holly too was unimpressed, and after a few minutes – tada! Group tattoos. Girls trip tattoos, LRK3DE tattoos, Ride iQ tattoos… all of the above, whatever you want to call them.

We also heard some really interesting stories while we were in that shop, since the manager was bored and had nothing better to do than tell us some of their wildest tattoos they’ve ever done. All I’m gonna say is that you can’t unhear some of these things. They certainly cannot be repeated here.

Once we were all done Holly and I got our tattoos wrapped like normal, but since Hillary got a finger tatt he opted to put a glove on her to cover it instead. Which… he put the glove on before she had put her rings back on, so she put her rings back on over top of it, to our endless amusement. She looked like a rich young widow on her way to her poor dearly departed’s funeral. Especially with her little handbag.

she was laughing too hard to even look at me

Naturally we went to White Castle right after and since Hillary was driving we made her hand her card to/take the food from the cashier with that hand. We all found it to be extremely hilarious but to her credit that cashier didn’t even so much as flinch at this one-gloved, ring-wearing weirdo. I guess if you work the night shift in the drive thru of White Castle you see much stranger things than that on a regular basis.

The next day we headed up to the Ride iQ booth in the morning to show them the finished product, and their faces were just priceless. Jessa’s jaw just dropped. They were delighted, we got fun tattoos and a great story… what more can you ask for?

Jessa’s jaw is still dropped in this picture

Is it the best quality tattoo I have? Lol no. Definitely not. It’s… got some character. I’m glad it does though, because it really lends to the whole vibe of the story. If it was perfectly executed, it wouldn’t be a last-minute, seat-of-the-pants, Lexington-Kentucky-type of tattoo, now would it? I freakin love it though, it brings me joy every time I look down and see it, and it sits perfectly exactly where I wanted it above my glove line.

in action

Next on the docket to get one is Kyle Carter, but all the Ride iQ folks agreed that they have to hit x number of subscribers before he can get his. Now it’s become a fun game to tell him that we’re more dedicated than he is, and he’s definitely anxious to get his tattoo.

So ya know, if you want Kyle to also get a pat your horse tattoo, get your friends to sign up for Ride iQ. How’s that for a marketing strategy?

The First Week

I had every intention of posting this yesterday but I spent a while struggling with trying to get photos uploaded before I figured out that I had finally exceeded the photo storage amount for the blog’s “premium” level account. And then the farrier came, and then I had work stuff to do, so… I didn’t circle back around to it until late afternoon. I had to upgrade to a “business” account to get more photo storage (it was either that or start mass-deleting old posts, which I didn’t want to do) which is 3x as expensive per year. That’s… fun. But anyway, here we are, back up and running.

The first full week in Florida was pretty great.

It’s just gorgeous here. Every time I walk outside I think that. Definitely a stark contrast to Texas, and this place makes my heart sing in a way Texas never did. Florida also decided to do me a solid and make the weather absolutely freaking STUNNING for my first week. Mornings in the mid to upper 50’s, afternoons in the low to mid 80’s, and nothing crazy on the humidity. Considering it was 106 back in Texas (and I dunno why everyone thinks Texas is a dry heat, where I was from in South-Central TX it was humid ALL THE TIME) I was luxuriating in the fact that I needed a hoodie to go feed the horses in the morning. You don’t have to keep selling yourself to me Ocala, I am already well past sold. Thanks for the lovely welcome though.

he hasn’t figured out that horse in the window yet

Mostly I’ve been trying to lay down a routine. Obviously I have 3 horses to shuffle through, but I really only have time to ride 2 every morning before my first meeting of the day. I could probably squeeze all 3 if I tried, but I like spending the time grooming them properly and not feeling rushed when I’m riding. I’ve got a schedule for them so that they get staggered days throughout the week and nobody gets more than one day in a row off. I go out in the morning around 6:15 to feed, come back in and get myself and Mina fed and answer some work emails, and then go out around 7 to tack up the first horse.

no new riding media since Hillary left because there’s no one else here to ride with me or take pics/video

Riding in the mornings is the best way for me to structure my day. Being an hour ahead of the rest of my group is advantageous in that regard… I get an “extra” hour in the morning before I have to be on that first call. Of course, it has meant that I’ve found myself logging in for a meeting or two at 6pm, but still… I love having the morning to get all my own stuff done.

I’ve slowly put surely been booking appointments for all the things I need to take care of with the horses. Saddle fitters, farriers, bodywork, dental, etc etc. I had stuff that needed doing that was really difficult to coordinate in Texas, so I put it off. Last week it was the Custom saddle rep/fitter – I called her to come see if she could fit my dressage saddle to Presto and/or Gemma. It was definitely sitting too low in the front on both of them, too wide and not enough wither clearance, but they’re a fairly similar shape so I was secretly hoping she could make it workable for both of them. We talked about where they are in their training, age, etc (they’re both at the point where they should fill out and add more topline in the next 6 months) and she looked at it on both horses.

She agreed that it def sat too low in the front and was too wide on both of them, but she felt pretty confident that adding flocking to the front would be a great improvement. Off she went to her truck, fluffed up the front, and then we put it back on both of them. It’s not a perfect fit, but she felt it was certainly a workable fit. She recommended a sheepskin pad for both of them (lucky for me I have sheepskin built into all my pads…) but didn’t think any shims were required. She said to ride in it and let her know how I and the horses feel, and she can re-assess as needed. She’s only 15 minutes away, which is something I finding with basically all of this kind of stuff… everyone is so freaking accessible in a way that blows my mind a bit.

Presto would not cooperate by standing up straight, but you get the idea. Def not sitting down on his withers anymore!

BTW, I always feel a little weird when presenting an old saddle to a fitter, like “gah please don’t try to make me buy something new or act like this is a burden”. No such experience here though, she saw the saddle and went “omg this is an original Wolfgang Solo, these are so hard to find. *intense eye contact* NEVER SELL THIS.”. Duly noted. No one tell her I paid peanuts for it. Great experience though, I liked the saddle fitter a lot and was glad that she didn’t try to make me feel any certain way about my old saddle and trying to make it work for two horses.

Since I’ve set aside the morning pre-work time for my horses, the late afternoons are for farm stuff. What that may look like depends on the day. Last week I spent an afternoon taking one of the thoroughbred race mares (a boarder… we don’t have any race mares of our own obviously lol) across town to get bred. The barn manager warned me that it was pretty far and Ocala traffic could be bad. It was 40 minutes, and I sat at like 3 stop lights. Adorable. I mean, I get it… on the road at the farm you might have a car passing by every 15 or so minutes, and all these rural roads out here are lightly traveled. Plus everything is close. Like 20 minutes can get you basically anywhere you need to go. So yeah I suppose if that’s your “normal”, then 40 minutes and driving through an actual town are a lot. By my standards of living outside a major city with tons of traffic and having to drive across it all the time, that drive was very easy. I pulled up at Ocala stud, waited for them to come get the mare from the trailer, then waited for them to bring her back, and off we went on home. I don’t mind being the shuttle driver, especially right now when I’m still trying to learn my way around.

Other afternoons I work with the WTW babies. Percy and Patrick are here living their best lives in the yearling colt herd with all the race baby boarders, and they both look great. They do still need to be handled regularly though to make sure they don’t go feral, and to start prepping them for any kind of in-hand showing that they may eventually do. Patrick looks fantastic, he always has been a good-looking colt, and Percy has really improved a lot in the past few months as well. Being out here is really helping him catch up from his rough start, I think. He’s filled out a ton since I last saw him at the end of February, and he’s looking way less gawky.

booty stratches for Percy

Other days I do little projects around the farm, like finishing painting the rails that the saddle racks are on. These had to be put up quickly before the seasonal boarders arrived in March, so there wasn’t time to get the wood painted before then. There’s time now though, so I circled back and got it painted, and it looks way better.

There are lots of little projects like that all over the farm, as well as lots of old stuff to go through, throw away, etc. They’ve done soooo much already in a short period of time, but it’s a big farm with lots of stuff, and there’s always more to do. There will be no end to the projects for a while I think. I don’t mind it though, it’s rewarding to put the time into something and see this place start to come together bit by bit. Plus if nothing else I’m definitely getting my steps in (since I’ve been here I’ve averaged 9.4 miles of walking every day) and sleeping pretty darn hard. I’m tired at the end of the day!

This week has already been full of stuff too, I think I’ve already got something booked every day, so I think for a while these week-in-review posts might at least be interesting.

Foal Friday: The Real BFF

Quinlee is nothing if not entertaining. She’s cute and sweet, but she’s also bold and precocious, so she’s running her poor sweet mother ragged with her antics. Luckily they’re now living out in the field with another mare and both of the yearling fillies, so at least Inca isn’t Quinlee’s only source of entertainment. And while a lot of foals are really shy around older bigger horses at first, Quinlee has had no such reservations. She wormed her way right on in there with Pippa and Teddy especially, whether they really wanted to be friends with her or not.

I like how she’s not that much smaller than the pony yearling

She also really likes her human friends, like MK.

But her bestest most favorite friend?

Say hello to Hay Bale.

I mean, how could you not love Hay Bale?

You can nap on him…

You can roll on him…

You can smoosh him…

You can climb on him and be REALLY TALL…

You can – oh crap, oops –

Quinlee Down

Anyway, you get the point. There’s no disputing the fact that Hay Bale is the ultimate BFF, even if sometimes your other FF’s might get a little annoyed about it.

Happy Foal Friday!

The Fun Bits

I figured I should do a recap post of the long weekend and everything that happened while Hillary was here, with getting the horses settled and my shit unpacked. But then I also figured that no one really wants to hear about my shit getting unpacked or the mundane tasks and errands associated with a move, so let’s talk about the fun bits of what we did while she was here instead.

like giant burritos at Yum Yum Kitchen

It felt like we were busy doing shit from sun-up to sundown every day, and well… we were. But we made sure that the first couple hours of the day were set aside for the horses and riding. Partly because it’s a fun way to start the day before you have to get into all the drudgery, and partly because I think it’s important to keep the horses moving and keep their routine, and to be able to get on them and feel how they’re feeling.

We did a light stretchy hack with Gemma and Henry on Friday morning, and they both felt as good as they looked. Which was really nice because in addition to the long trip they’d also had a couple weeks off before that. Gemma went around like she hadn’t missed a day or traveled 1100 miles.

best baby OTTB

Henry looked shockingly good to me too. Usually time off and travel make him look stiff and weak really quickly, but nope… he was quite spry. We just did a few minutes of flatwork to get them moving and then went for a walk around the farm.

We had a bunch of errands to run that day (including picking up our awesome new-to-us Jump4Joy chevron from Kyle Carter, who brought it back from Kentucky for me, where Jen had brought it from Indiana… this jump is well-traveled), and we had to stop by Seminole and Tack Shack to get some things for the horses, which obviously got slightly sidetracked.

Hillary in an Espoir which is kind of a greige color

After that we had to run out to Tractor Supply, which is very conveniently located around the corner from a BOMB little ice cream place that has some of the best Italian Ice ever. It’s only 15 minutes from the barn which is information I probably didn’t need but will definitely use (frequently) over the summer.

The rest of the day was work and sweat and carrying things. After we finally got dinner and got settled at home and were about to go to bed, a big ol’ storm rolled in out of nowhere. Out we sprinted to bring the horses in, which was… super fun to do at almost midnight. They were pissed to be inside, but once we got back to the house the skies REALLY opened up and there was tons of lightning, so… it was the right choice even if they were mad.

the project we finished right before the storm hit

On Saturday morning we were up early again to turn them out and clean stalls, then Hillary got on Gemma and I got on none other than everyone’s favorite Noodle.

haven’t seen this view for a while

Lord he’s tall. And long. Just a lot of horse and surface area. I forget sometimes, especially since Gemma and Henry are both a good hand smaller and waaaaaay more compact. It’s like being on top of an elephant, but a really nice elephant. I didn’t bother lunging him or anything, I just tacked him up and got on, and away he went like no biggie. I hadn’t ridden him since last September, and he hadn’t been ridden at all since October, so I was pleased that he pretty much got right to business. He’s a good kid in the ways that count, even if he drives me crazy with his continued removal of his fly boots ALL THE DAMN TIME.

lucky he’s cute

I only trotted him for a few minutes since he doesn’t have much muscling or topline left to speak of, and then I asked Hillary if she wanted to take him for a spin. Zero arm twisting was required, and she got on and trotted him a few times each way too. He’s definitely a very different feeling from the other two – aside from being about 45 miles long he’s also got a lot a lot more suspension in his gaits and requires a lot of core strength to keep together.

He was very wild for her too

Once we were done with the kids I put out a couple jumps for Hillary to pop Henry over, including setting up our new chevron out in the field so you could ride out of the ring and jump it. Henry was absolutely delighted to be doing his thing and happily christened the new jump.

wheeee

Before we arrived we had already scheduled bodywork for the horses on Saturday mid-morning with Jen Oliver, who is fantastic. She did all 3 of them and spent some time chatting with us about them and what she was seeing and feeling.

even Henry loved her, which is really saying something

Despite the long trip she thought they all felt pretty good. There were some tight spots here and there and some knots to work out, as expected, but generally it was really not bad considering their journey. A comfy trailer ride (it never ceases to amaze me how much better my horses look and feel after traveling long distances in a straight stall vs a slant) and then lots of turnout time seemed to do the trick.

After that we had an afternoon of more errands and unpacking (there is no end to any of it, I think), and then had a quick hour or so free before we were meeting someone to talk about training. So ya know… we headed over to WEC. Because why not. Well ok I’ll tell you why not – there was a massive car show going on at the same time and therefore it was crawling with muggles, but we quickly hit some of the main shops anyway. Technically I grabbed something for the barn at FarmVet so it wasn’t an entirely self-indulgent trip, and at least we were quick about it, but… ya know. I don’t feel bad about it.

I can’t stop thinking about this light blue Laguso jacket and I don’t understand why I’m so obsessed with it but I want it

Sunday was pretty much the same thing on repeat. Ride in the morning, then work and errands. Pretty sure I’ve put more miles on my truck in the last week than in the last 2 years. The good news is at least I kinda know my way around pretty well by now since I’ve seen most of Gainesville and Ocala and Williston and everything in between by this point.

We rode in the morning again, just another light stretching ride and then hacked out. Presto met his official fan club (aka the yearling colts) and now really wants to know why he can’t go live in their pasture. God, can you imagine what it would be like if he had 9 little yearling dumbasses as minions? The farm would implode.

Three WTW kids – Patrick, Percy, and Presto!
Hillary taking Henry for a bridleless ride… “look ma no hands!”

We were pretty freaking exhausted by the afternoon, after days of running around and doing shit, so we gave ourselves a few hours of luxury to sit inside and watch the Badminton cross country replay. It was definitely something. How about that XC performance from Mason (aka Presto’s brother from another mother) though? That boy just romped right around there for fun! After having watched him come up the ranks for so many years it’s really fun to see him doing so well especially at something like Badders.

Monday was Hillary’s last day here, and we opted for just an easy road hack with the horses in the morning. Figured it was best to do that for the first time when both of us were here. Presto was a little snorty about everything but Gemma and Henry enjoyed it. One great thing about living here is that people passing you on the road in vehicles don’t go ZOOMING past, or honk at you, or whatever the fuck else. They know horses, so they slow down and they’re friendly about it. Blew my mind a little after so many years of road hacking in Texas, where you never know how many people are gonna try to deliberately run you over.

Presto is still skeptical

After that we did a little more stuff around the barn, ran a few more errands, and then it was sadly time for me to drop Hillary off at the airport. Big sads. So many. She tha real MVP though for giving up an entire week of her life to help me move myself and the horses. There’s no way in hell I could have done it without her. I still have plenty to do here on my own, and riding 3 horses requires some schedule juggling, but it’s manageable now since we got a lot of the big stuff taken care of in those first few days.

Now I’m flying solo! There’s still a lot going on this week, which I’ll catch you up on with next week’s recap post, but that brings you up to speed for moving weekend at least…

Floridians

It’s officially official – myself and the horses are Florida residents!

I don’t hate it

We left Texas last Wednesday, overnighting in Pensacola, and arriving in Ocala on Thursday afternoon. It worked out really well that the barn owner in Texas, Rejan (who is also moving full-time to her Florida property down near Wellington) had a 4 horse trailer and only one horse to bring down with her. Their trailer is a nice big airy insulated head to head complete with fans and all the horsey comforts, so my 3 kiddos were able to ride in luxury with hay and water in front of them at all times. It was probably the best any of them have ever traveled.

I drove my truck and trailer behind them, so we had a little caravan going. My poor truck and trailer were crammed full of STUFF – mostly t!ny h0use accoutrements (like the stairs, tank, etc), all our tack, various farm equipment, some trunks, etc. My Titan has been a loyal servant the entire time I’ve owned it but let’s be real, she is 11 years old and has 161k miles on her at this point. She doesn’t really tow over these long distances as well as she used to, at least not when she’s fully loaded down like that. True to form though she did her level best, and she got us through… it was the trailer that caused us issues.

The trouble started pretty early on when we were at our first gas stop on the far side of Houston. I thought one of the tires looked a bit low (I had checked them all the day before) so I drove around to the air thingy to check it. When I stopped over there I could see a spot on the tire that was a blowout waiting to happen, so we changed that tire out to the spare. We almost made it the rest of the day without any further drama, but then when we only had about an hour to go until our layover, that spare tire blew out in the middle of nowhere Mississippi. It was just too old – I should have replaced it before the trip but didn’t even think about in with everything else going on. We called ahead to the trailer with the horses to let them know, and together we limped to the next exit and off the interstate.

We made a plan to send Hillary and the BO’s husband Justin with my trailer to a tire place a few miles away that (very luckily) was still open and had a couple tires that would work. We slapped the previous about-to-blow-but-hasn’t-yet tire back on and away they crawled. The BO and I went on ahead with the horses, crossing through the tip of Alabama and into Florida. We split up that way because my name was on all the health paperwork for the horses, so I had to be there with them at the ag stop in Florida. We got through the ag stop quickly and made it to our layover in Pensacola just after dark. The horses had ended up spending about 12 hours on the trailer, but all of them came off looking bright and happy and hydrated.

a welcome sight after a long day

In the meantime, Hillary and Justin took my card and got two new tires for my trailer. It was honestly pretty lucky that the whole fiasco happened when and where it did… at least there was a tire place not too far away and they were still open. They were able to get it in and get the new tires on it quickly, so Hillary and Justin were only about 30 minutes behind us by the time we’d done the ag stop.

Mina helping Hillary at the tire shop

We got the horses unloaded in Pensacola, bedded down, fed, the trailer cleaned out and prepped for the next day, and then headed to the hotel. By that point it was 10pm so we pretty much just showered and passed out. We were back in the truck at 6:30 the next morning to go feed and hook back up, then make our way to Ocala. Rejan and Justin were going to drop my 3 off and then proceed the other 3-4 hours down to Wellington with Quinnie. We knew she wouldn’t be very happy to be left in the trailer alone so we planned a very quick unloading… essentially we just dropped the ramp, took my 3 out, closed the ramp, and away they went. Quinnie is nothing if not intelligent with an excellent sense of self-preservation, so she quickly settled down and rode the rest of the way just fine solo.

As for my 3, they were VERY HAPPY to be out of the trailer after 2 days of driving.

They were a little pissed at being separated into individual turnouts, but sorry kids, thems the breaks. Henry is way too mean to Presto and Presto drives Gemma nuts and Gemma makes Henry clingy, so… that’s just how it is. Quinnie was the only thing that made that group dynamic work. It’s fine though, because their paddocks aren’t really big enough (or are so shady that the grass isn’t quite as lush) to support multiple horses on them without murdering the grass. This way is better for everyone.

After a few gleeful minutes of galloping they all settled down fine, and we made sure all 3 of them knew and understood their waterers.

Then Hillary and I had some quick errands to run before stuff started to close for the day. We went to the feed store to get hay and grain since mine eat different stuff than what the racehorses get. We also picked up a few little things for the tack room and house, hit Horse & Hounds for dinner, and then stopped at Publix to pick up some groceries.

my favorite thing about the grocery stores here

That takes us up through last Thursday, arrival day! We made it, the horses made it… everything is now officially here in Florida. As for everything else that’s been going on since then, that’s a story for another day.