Weekend Watchables

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Equality in Eventing (and equestrian sports in general)

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

Gemma’s Got Jokes

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

cookie now?
how bout cookie now?

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

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

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

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

GemmaQueenofNaps?

Nuts

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

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

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

a little BEMER session

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

more polite than someone else we know

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick hello

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

yesterday’s total

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

she grazes like a goat, she’s insanely flexible

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

I cought her sleeping yesterday too

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

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

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

Gemma’s Family Tree (and some history)

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

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

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

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

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

Quiet End to an Era - BloodHorse
Quiet American

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

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

Claiborne Drops Pulpit's Fee - BloodHorse
Pulpit

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

Sorocaima — BDJ Equestrian
Sorocaima

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

Whirlwind Acquisition

I’m trying my best not to nod off as I sit here typing this on Monday evening. I’m tired. It’s been a long few days. My latest blog post was last Thursday, when we bought the new mare, and a lot has happened since then so… let’s catch up.

hello, pretty girl!

Hillary and I spent basically all of Thursday looking at our shipping options for the mare. Preferably something within the next couple days, because the trainer’s barn was full and they needed stalls ASAP. Our options were either to pick her up by Sunday, or they could send her out to the farm outside of the city and then she could be picked up from there within another week or so. I didn’t really want to have to move her out to the farm, so we were trying to find someone that could pick her up soon, get her here fairly direct without a lot of stops so she didn’t have to spend a ton of extra time in the trailer, and had a suitable/safe rig. And, uh, wasn’t too expensive.

Most of the quotes we got were either a) from sketchy people b) not a suitable rig c) would take at least 24 hours to make a 7 hour trip d) hella expensive. Not saying that good haulers aren’t absolutely worth what they charge – they definitely are – but we personally couldn’t justify $2+ a mile when realistically she was within an almost reasonable driving distance of us. And all the best shipping companies couldn’t get her for at least a week anyway. So we started shuffling around our weekend plans and trying to make things come together, and finally worked out that we would leave Saturday, drive to New Orleans, stay the night with former blogger Alyssa (yay for blog friends), then get the mare Sunday morning and drive straight home so we could get her unloaded and settled before it got dark. Last minute 36 hour NOLA trip… why not?

someone really needs to wash this trailer…

Other than being a very boring and horribly bumpy ride (anyone who has driven I-10 across Louisiana knows the full scope of the misery) it was pretty uneventful. We’d decided to bring my trailer with Hillary’s truck, rather than trying to bring her bigger trailer, which turned out to be a good decision for navigating through the city streets and parking at Alyssa’s house. Hillary’s trailer def would not have fit. Plus those NOLA potholes would have taken out the tanks on her living quarters for sure… pretty sure you could fit a full size alligator in some of those things.

Anyway, we got there, got parked, and headed out to do a little sightseeing with Alyssa. I spent a chunk of my childhood in NOLA and have been back a couple times as an adult, but Hillary never had, so we figured she should for sure see some of the French Quarter while she was there. May as well get some culture in. Plus we were on a mission to find some king cake (I’ll be honest, at least 40% of the appeal of making the trip ourselves was so I could get a real king cake and not the sad grocery store wannabe shit they sell here that is basically french bread with sugar on top and sometimes pineapple jam filling. If you’ve ever had REAL king cake, it’s an abomination.).

We found some dinner, walked around a bit, went into some touristy gift shops and Madam Leveau’s, walked around with a daquiri taking in all of that weird AF (in a good way) NOLA essence, went and got a king cake, then went back home and were in bed before 10. That’s the old people way to do it. 10/10 would recommend. I’d only gotten about 4 hours sleep the night before so I passed out pretty quick (and then proceeded to have a repeating dream where we all woke up at 7:48 and therefore were very late for our 8am appt at the track… anyone else have anxiety dreams about lateness all the time? I’m never late. Probably because I can’t ever sleep because I’m too busy having dreams about being late.)

my kind of tourist trap

Indeed we actually got to the track a bit early and waited outside the entrance until the training break at 8. Then we drove down to the barn and got to go meet our mare! Who… was in the middle of her breakfast and therefore had zero interest in saying hello to us. It was a very mare greeting. More like a “for gods sake, WHAT?” than a “hello”. We got to walk around and look at several of their other horses too, and may or may not have called dibs on a couple of them when they retire. I don’t think I can be friends with racetrack people, it’s got bad idea written all over it.

Alyssa coming in clutch with the artsy shot

After that we grabbed her papers, loaded her up, and away we went, back towards Texas. She walked right into the trailer, which was great, sometimes the racehorses are confused by a 2 horse straight load when they usually ride in big slants or vans. She seemed very sweet and willing though. Nervous, but she settled and ate her hay. We were able to make it all the way back only having to stop once, so we made pretty good time even though we hit some rain when we drove through the cold front. Poor girl, it was hot and humid when we loaded her up in NOLA and she got to Texas and it was cold and windy. Gotta love that when you’ve just hauled any horse all day, much less a young one that quite literally just came off the track. She wasn’t interested in drinking when we stopped but she did drink quite a bit when she got in the barn, and I’ve been soaking all her meals.

plenty of space

For now she’s in the double stall, since she can’t go into regular turnout for a little while yet. We’re trying to coordinate a weekend where we can shuffle her up to Michelle’s place, I think she’ll be happier resting for a couple months up there. Michelle has small pens with sheds, and there are plenty of horse friends in close proximity all the time for company. For now though she seems fairly content in her double stall. Bored, definitely, and not particularly happy to be inside when the others get to go outside, but she’s handling it pretty well all things considered. We’ll get to know her and play with her a little before she goes up to Michelle’s.

early morning handgrazing

She’s still being a tad shy, but from what I’ve seen so far she seems smart and sweet. A little bit worried if you come at her too quickly, but we can work on that. And even when she’s worried, she’s never overreactive or belligerent about it, which I like. She’s starting to show a little bit of goofiness too now that she’s settling in, which of course I also quite like. Wouldn’t be a horse of mine if it wasn’t a little weird.

she likes to roll her tongue on the wall

As for her name, I think we’ve settled on Gemma for a multitude of reasons. We had it down to Cora, Etta, or Gemma, and Gemma just really seems to fit her the most. Her name before was Emily, and Gemma sort of sounds similar. Really though Gemma is short for Geminio, the Harry Potter doubling spell. That has lots of meaning behind it for us. 1) she’s the second $900 facebook pony, so the doubling spell makes sense. 2) I already have one horse with a magic theme name 3) Hillary’s last OTTB also had a Harry Potter name. Plus I’ll be honest, 4) I really like the name Gemma as a nod to Gemma Tattersall. Anyone who wins a 5* wearing a lavender pompom helmet cover is a fucking queen in my book (and I’m pretty sure it automatically makes her President of Pom Club). To round it all out, 5) the mare has two forehead whirls, and she def does have two different sides to her (if you’re another horse and you want to come near her while she’s eating, she has some hellacious angry mare ears). She’s sweet, but I can also tell she’s gonna have some red mare opinions too. All of that stuff makes the name choice pretty indisputable I think.

So welcome home Gemma, we hope you love your new life. Today is her 5th birthday so we’ve got to find a way to celebrate!

The $900 facebook pony… the sequel.

Um. Oops. You know when you “accidentally” buy some tack you weren’t planning on buying and it’s called a taccident? It’s a thing, look it up.

Taccident | Equestrian memes, Funny horse memes, Horse girl problems

Well. Um. What’s it called when you buy a horse you weren’t really planning on buying? A Horsident? Accihorse? Mental Disorder? Whatever.

Here’s the thing though… tell me this wasn’t eerily serendipitous. It happened almost exactly the same way Henry did. I wasn’t really shopping when I found him on facebook either. I always look at and scroll through horses, but I’m almost never genuinely shopping. Y’all know how it is. Henry was 100% an impulse purchase, because I saw something in his eyes that I liked, my gut said buy the horse, I was in a period of emotional turmoil, and I figured “why not”. Why not indeed. Best decision ever. I offered the seller $800, she countered at $900, a deal was struck, and history was made with my sight unseen horse purchase named Jerry that became Henry.

Fast forward to last night when I’m mindlessly scrolling and see this magnificent creature, who stops me dead in my tracks.

Her fancy advertising photos pulled me in, sure, but the one that really snagged me? The informal face shot. I see the same things in her eyes and face that drew me to Henry, and my gut gave me the exact same “buy it” feeling.

lookit her ❤

Was I looking for a horse? No. Well I was thinking maybe like summer or fall I’d pick up a project for RRP next year or something. I do love a good OTTB, and I already made a list of requirements for what I wanted (in case you’re curious, it’s literally in my phone notes and says “mare, 16-17h, uphill, good neck connection, good walk, no Storm Cat, good sport pedigree”). So I see this one, named Emily Who, and… damn if she didn’t tick all the boxes. I’m not totally in a position right now to be taking on the expense and responsibility of another horse entirely on my own though, so I sent her to the only person I know who’s as batshit as me… Hillary. She also loves a nice mare, it wasn’t a hard sales pitch to get her in for halfsies.

And well, I dunno, an hour later I was making an $800 offer, which was countered with $900, good enough for me, so we paid with Paypal and I’ll be damned if history didn’t just repeat itself almost exactly. But with a chestnut mare this time instead of a bay gelding. I can’t help but feel that the way this went down was extremely serendipitous and has good juju.

if it doesn’t have good sideeye its not for me

She needs some downtime, which is no problem, but her trainer reports that she is sweet and kind and laidback and would like a life outside of racing. She’s raced for a while but never won, although she did come close a few times. I know and trust the connections, which is always a big perk too. They’ve been very forthcoming about details. She can hang out and de-stress and gain some weight and settle into a quieter life for a while.

We do have to change her name though, I know way too many Emily’s to look this horse in the eye and call her that. Hillary and I were trying to think along the “repeat” or “again” theme and so far have come with a few possibles: Geminio (the repeating spell in Harry Potter) barn name Gemma, Ancora (Italian for again) barn name Cora, or Iteratus (latin for you repeat) barn name Rory. Just some initial ideas from the bit of perusing we’ve been able to do. We want to have a list ready when she gets here and then decide once we get to know her. Open to more ideas along that theme! Just nothing cheesy or super long please.

Currently working on shipping… its not super far from us since she’s in New Orleans, but it would be about the same amount of money to just have someone bring her here vs us drive there, stay the night, and drive back, so we’re looking at options. Not sure yet when she’ll get here but I’ll keep y’all posted.

SURPRISE, WE GOT A MARE!

I am the most ridiculous human being I’ve ever met, but are you not entertained?

Saddle Time

Despite being pretty busy these past couple weeks, I’ve managed to fit in a good amount of saddle time. Hillary was gone for the holidays so I had both Henry and Grace to ride, and usually ended up riding both of them on my lunch break.

Despite the crazy temperature swings we didn’t get much rain, which is kind of a double-edged sword. At this point we need it for the grass, things are looking a bit brown for this time of year, but it did mean that there was no interruption to any of my riding time. It was also nice to spend some time behind my favorite little fuzzy bay ears again.

One day I didn’t have enough time to ride them both so I figured I’d see if Grace ponied. And naturally I’m lazy so I just stuck a bareback pad on Henry. For as big of a jerk as he can be to other horses in the pasture, he’s usually pretty business-like when it comes to ponying duty, and after a couple laps around the courtyard it definitely seemed like Grace was familiar with the concept. We set off with no issue and I was able to walk and trot them both up the little hills in the back.

They were thrilled

I rode in Hillary’s saddle a few more times while she was gone too but honestly being able to buy a new saddle isn’t in the cards for me for… quite a while probably, so I just had to quit riding in it. It was making me too sad about all the struggles I have in my own saddle that I didn’t in hers. Is what it is for a while I guess! It’s good to know where to start looking whenever I do finally end up buying something else though.

Hillary was back before New Years, and we were able to get rides in on NYE as well as New Years Day. On NYE we just wanted to do something fun, so we went out in the back on the hacking path and did a long walk and then galloped around videoing each other like a couple of 12 year olds for a while. It was deeply entertaining, and a nice way to cap off the year just doing something purely fun with the horses. Henry may or may not have run off with Hillary and tried to decapitate her on a tree. That’s how you know he loves you.

In all seriousness, it’s nice to see him feeling good though. He’s such a cheeky horse, I think he’s having as much fun with Hillary as she is with him. He’s got her completely wrapped around his little hoof, milking tons of cookies out of her, and whenever he feels like she’s mastered something well enough, you can see his eyes light up as he tries his best to do something “naughty”. Which is really never that naughty… no one tell him. When it matters, he’s all business, but he also likes to pull out his arsenal of cheeky things to keep her on her toes sometimes.

On New Years we did some flatwork. Grace is getting better and better, feeling stronger and a little more fit as we go along. She’s been out of regular work for a long time so I always have to be mindful not to push it too much or make her tired, but I can feel a difference in her over the past month. She’s still convinced there are horse murderers in all the bushes and trees (and sometimes in the arena letters) but she’s got a lot of “try” in her so that makes it fun no matter what we’re doing. To me I think she rides more like a thoroughbred, at least in the brain, which IMO is a compliment.

So many pics from between Henry’s ears

This week Hillary’s been focused on riding Henry in a bit, which is a lot different, less fun, and harder than riding him bitless. He carries a lot more tension and requires a thoughtful, tactful ride… I swear he’s a million times easier to jump than he is to flat, and a million times easier to ride bitless than in a bit. She’s figuring out his buttons though, and how to get him through the tension. Hopefully the weather cooperates over the next month or two and she can get him to a show. I think he’d be delighted to show her just how amazing he is.

I’ve also been jumping Grace a bit more. Not a lot, usually just a few small jumps here and there, but she’s definitely really fun to jump. I’ve figured her out a bit more as far as what kind of ride she seems to prefer. I did give up on keeping her in front shoes though, she pulled two in two weeks and had another one halfway off by the time the farrier came for our regular 5 week appointment, so I had him just take them off. I tried. At this point I think she’ll do more damage pulling shoes off and possibly taking chunks of foot with it. So far she seems to be doing ok without the shoes, not quite as good as she was with them, but good enough, and I’ve been putting stuff on her feet, so… we’ll see. I think it’ll be fine though.

That pretty much brings us up to date on what the horses have been up to I think. We’re hoping to be able to go XC schooling this weekend but it looks like its supposed to rain Saturday, so we’ll see how the ground ends up. If not this weekend then soon!

Break Time Over

Well hey there, long time no post. For me anyway. As you may have noticed I did indeed end up taking last week off from the blog and took a few days away from social media entirely. Now that we’re through all the holidays I feel like I’m in a better headspace and feel at least a little bit recharged, so this week we’ll try to get back to our regular business.

Of course, work is still super busy for me (those last two weeks of December are killer, and January isn’t much better) and today is our annual inventory, so I’m still a bit crunched for time. Tomorrow I’ll give more updates on what’s been going on with the horses, but for now a quick update on what else has been happening…

The weather has been nuts. Like it was 85+ degrees for most of December and then on New Years Day a wicked cold front blew through and dropped us down into the 20’s. Nothing like a 60 degree temperature swing to turn horse people into balls of anxiety. I started upping the horse’s salt a few days ahead of time and gave them soaked alfalfa pellets with a bit of flaxseed oil with their meals (boy does Grace love her mash) and they seem to have done just fine, knock on wood. The weather is supposed to normalize a bit today, aside from another much more minor cold front later in the week, so hopefully we’re past the worst of this particular go-round. I hate the cold. Like really really hate it. Last year’s awful winter storm has left some lingering trauma on my psyche for sure, I absolutely loathe the cold snaps to a level I never quite reached before. And the insane temperature swings that we get here are what make it that much worse… nothing like going from summer to winter in a 6 hour period. Texas is ridiculous.

My “you will be hydrated whether you like it or not” station

The holidays were fairly low-key for me… I’m not super into Christmas but I did exchange gifts with a few people. I got a very cool metal sign from the barn owner, luggage (that I picked out) from the SO, some cash, etc. We had our traditional Chinese food lunch on Christmas Day and I didn’t leave the farm all weekend, so we’ll call that a success. As for New Years, it’s always neck and neck for 4th of July as to which one is my least favorite holiday. I HATE fireworks, and this year it sounded like everyone bought the biggest loudest things they could find, judging by how the booms shook my windows. And it went from like 6pm through 3am. Just, WHY? The horses were all freaked out, Mina kept barking, and it made me feel positively murderous. We got through it in one piece though, so… there’s that.

When it’s cold her comforter goes wherever she goes

I did also win a couple holiday gift cards from various Instagram contests, which was a nice little bonus perk. I’ve got an Epplejeck gift card waiting to be used, and won enough from Ride Equisafe to get a much-needed new XC vest. I also managed to go through all my trunks, the tack room, the trailer, and my closet and pull out my next round of sale items to clean out. I’ll probably post all that stuff later this week. And, perhaps most exciting (to me anyway), Hillary and I decided to re-open our little shirt business!

We started Barn Dog Apparel in 2017, and it was fun, but as we both got busy with other things we just kind of let it go dormant. Lately though we’ve been talking about some other business ideas for the future, and we were thinking we might as well start up the shirt shop again in the meantime. We spent last week making up some new designs and redesigning the store, and it went live again yesterday.

We’ve still got more designs to add, but it’s a start! I think I will probably add a few WTW items in there soon too for those that want some little low cost items. Plenty of stuff is in the works, but we’ll see how this first run of new designs does before we go too crazy. Most of the designs are offered on womens t-shirts for now but if you want one of them on a hoodie or a mens shirt or a long sleeve or a sticker, just let me know and I can add the item to the shop for you to order.

So yeah, that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to for the last week and a half. Sweating my ass off, freezing my ass off, trying not to murder people, obsessively keeping horses hydrated, working, cleaning out and organizing stuff, and designing shirts! I hope everyone else had a good holiday too. On to 2022!