The Midland Menagerie

I’m a bit late getting to the blog today – I was fast and furiously trying to get all my LRK3DE breeding data and articles updated and ready to go to print! I did put up a few stats on the Breed.Ride.Compete. facebook page along with a link to the instant download of the spreadsheet too, if anyone is interested in that.

Ok anyway, on to the subject at hand! As I mentioned yesterday, Hillary and I made a quick overnight trip up to Michelle’s original (or “west”, I suppose now) WTW location in Midland last week. And I like to call it a menagerie, because between Michelle’s animals and all of her neighbor’s animals, you’ve got a veritable petting zoo right there.

Michelle’s goat
the neighbor’s mini donkey
Hillary making friends with the mini Zebu

Between those guys and baby Quinlee (the filly) I got to pet ALL KINDS of fun things in a very short period of time. 10/10 would recommend.

Visiting in the peak of breeding season also means that you’re likely to find Michelle with her arm up a mare’s butt at all hours of the day or night. This trip was no exception – she was checking both Sadie and Vee every few hours to track their cycles for breeding.

Hey big noodle momma

She roped Hillary into giving it a go and scanning Sadie, which I of course documented via video (Patrons, it’s on your dashboard) because Hillary was making some absolutely classic faces. She ended up shoulder deep in Sadie, and found an ovary on the scan! Pretty good for a first shot I think. Of course now we may have created a monster, because Hillary wants to take breeding courses and learn how to AI mares. I’m 100% in support of this idea btw.

I was also extremely proud of how organized Michelle’s breeding area is, especially her MASSIVE white board. I’m a really big white board fan and I’m pretty sure she thought I was crazy for it in the past, but we’ve got a convert because LOOK AT THIS THING OF BEAUTY.

everybody’s status, nicely and neatly recorded

It was also nice to finally see Vee and Peyton in person… believe it or not I may have helped picked them out, but I had yet to see either of them in the flesh yet. Peyton is a classic TB type and gorgeous mover, and Vee might be one of the most beautiful mares I’ve ever seen, period. Like, she looked pretty in photos, but in person she’s an absolute knock out. Gorgeous mare with a great temperament, and VERY food-motivated. We already know Peyton is a great producer, but I can’t wait to see a Vee baby too. Fingers crossed!

I’m obsessed

Back to the actual point of this little adventure: Noodle pickup.

He immediately rubbed the R off his mask to make it say Pesto, and let’s be honest he’s not wrong

I thought he might be a moron in the trailer, considering that he’s basically been on stall rest or paddock rest for over 6 months at this point, and he’d come to consider Obi his BFF at Michelle’s (which, btw Obi, thanks for taking a chunk out of Presto’s tail despite Michelle’s best efforts to prevent it). I thought there might be fireworks when we loaded him up and drove away. He was pretty good though, and rode the whole way home with minimal complaints, even when the stupid GPS decided for some reason to route us all the way around and through the outskirts of Austin (we love sitting in lights and traffic with a horse trailer, you know) and made it take almost 8 freaking hours to get home.

We turned him out with the other 3 horses, and Henry and Quinnie immediately seemed to remember him (there were definite “oh my god, not him again” vibes from those two) but Gemma had a whole lot of opinions about him. Most of which were expressed via squealing. She’s a pretty submissive horse in general and definitely not confrontational, but Presto just would not leave her alone no matter how much she tried to distance herself. Personal space and respecting boundaries are not exactly his strong suits.

BE MAH FRENN – Presto, probably

That situation was causing Henry to assert his extreme dickishness and chase Presto into corners to try to murder him, so we had to break them up. That herd dynamic just wasn’t great with the 4 of them together. We split Henry and Gemma into one pasture and Presto and Quinnie into another. Giving each 5yo an older horse (and removing Henry from Presto) seemed to do the trick and they’ve been great ever since.

Well okay, Quinnie isn’t sure why she got stuck with the annoying one, but Presto knows better than to antagonize her too much… she spent some time raising him, after all.

Presto’s feet are not in the best shape from being barefoot for so long, he’s worn them down to little sore nubbins. I’ve got him in boots until the farrier can come out, although I’m not sure if we’ll be able to get shoes on them not. He looks fine in the boots though (aside from the fact that he knows how to unvelcro and remove them) so that works for now. Grow little feeties, grow.

Yes I have to put Vetwrap around the boots so that he can’t undo the straps

The most annoying thing was that the size boots he needed are of course the ONLY ONES I had packed up and sent in the t!ny h0use (I have an ungodly number of hoof boots and those were literally the only ones I packed and sent ahead), so I had to make an emergency run to Dover and buy him a new pair. Who needs $200 anyway.

Has never given one shit about spending my money

The good news is that with the boots on he looks pretty darn sound, despite all the yeehawing he’s done now that he’s back to full turnout. I haven’t even bothered with getting him legged back up yet, I figured I’d wait until we’re all settled in Florida before I even begin trying to wrap my head around that. For now I’m just grooming him every day to try to get the last of the winter coat off, and I trimmed his mane, cut his bridlepath, and clipped off the goat whiskers under his jaw. He looks… slightly more presentable anyway. Aside from all the bite marks and scratches all over him (thanks Henry).

It’s a little frustrating that he couldn’t just go back to the same training program and continue what I’d already invested a lot of time and money into (they didn’t have space), but I’m working on a couple options for him in Florida that could be promising. In the meantime I’m plenty happy to have him back here with me, even if he’s single hoofedly increased the Chaos Factor of the farm by 500%. I sure did miss his big ol’ noodle noggin.

Moving is fun

Well hello there, long time no update (for me anyway). Last week was absolutely ridiculous… that’s all there really is to say about that.

The t!ny h0use was originally supposed to get picked up last Monday, then they called me the Thursday before and asked if they could pick it up early. It wasn’t totally packed up and unhooked yet so I told them the earliest it would be ready was Saturday and they said that was fine. So I basically put everything else on hold and my dad came out to help me get it everything in bins, the fans down, appliances strapped up, furniture wrapped, etc on Friday, only for them to call afterward and be like jk we’re gonna pick it up Monday like originally planned.

pretty much all my shit fits in the closet, aside from the tv, patio chairs, and exercise bike

Annoying, but at least everything was packed up now. Granted, it was now no longer livable. The barn owners had already graciously offered to let me take over their guest bedroom in the time between the t!ny leaving and when we actually leave with the horses, so I basically just ended up moving over there a few days early. And, bonus, their house comes with very fluffy malamutes.

Obi is ridiculous

Mina is a bit scared of them, which is fair considering they’re 3x her size, but luckily I thought to bring the baby gate. Mina likes to stand on the bed (the safe place, clearly) while Obi stands in the doorway and wonders why she won’t come out and play with him. It’s working out just fine though… Mina comes outside when we’re outside, and when she’s inside she just sleeps on the bed. Not much different from her normal routine really.

Anyway, last Monday a driver did indeed show up to pick up the house, but… he did not have the right hitch on his semi. Which was extremely frustrating considering that a few days before I had spent a half hour on the phone with both the broker and the dispatch, making sure they knew that it wasn’t a standard 5th wheel hitch, and sending them both a lot of photos of the hitch. I felt bad for the driver mostly… he showed up, hung around for a bit waiting for his dispatch to get back to him with instructions, and then left. He never came back, and the broker called to tell me he had another driver booked to come pick it up that evening. A few hours later that driver called and said he wouldn’t make it before dark (oversize loads can’t be on the road after dark) so he was going to come pick it up first thing the next morning instead. Which was fine, but like… I’d already spent weeks being anxious about moving this tiny house and imagining all the things that could go wrong, and here we were with some of them starting to come to fruition. I was stressing.

The next morning the new driver shows up, and once again he does not have the right hitch. It was closer to the right hitch, but still… not the right hitch. He also didn’t have a jack, flags, flashers, a light bar, or any kind of oversize load banners. I am not shitting you. He did have an escort car with him, and that lady had one extra oversize banner, but… he didn’t have what they needed to legally get it on the road. Which was VERY FRUSTRATING considering the specs of the load are included in the job. He knew all that before he came. It’s quite possible that I was on the phone yelling at two different people all before 7am. I hate yelling. Especially on the phone.

At that point though I was either going to get the damn house on the road or set on fire, one of the two, so I was like screw it Mr. Driver, while you’re fixing the hitch issue tell me where to get the oversize shit and I’ll just go buy it my fucking self. He called the closest truck stop and they had everything, so off I drove to spend $200 buying this guy’s oversize load shit that he already should have had.

The house did eventually make it out of here around noon, SIX HOURS after the driver first arrived, and I spent more of my own dollars to make it happen, but… it left. I just really needed that thing to go because it was stressing me out to the point where I couldn’t sleep and was pretty sure I was getting an ulcer.

Of course, I thought that the house leaving would be a weight off my shoulders but it really just opened a whole new set of anxiety flood gates. The night it left I for some reason panicked in the middle of the night thinking that it wouldn’t be able to fit in the gate at the Florida farm (I had already checked that, I dunno why I forgot and freaked out) and laid awake all night in a panicky sweat about it until I could get someone to confirm the gate width the next day. A couple days later the broker sent me a fairly unhinged text (like… are 25 exclamation marks and all caps necessary?) telling me that the driver was having issues with the tires and had 3 blowouts. Which… uh, yeah, not surprising. Look at that thing. And it’s being hauled 1000 miles across some particularly shitty Southern backroads because it’s too tall for any highways or main roads. Also, Mr. Broker who’s job title is literally Logistics Coordinator, is this not your job to handle? Is this not what we paid you for? Why am I getting batshit text messages about something I cannot do anything about?

Anyway. The t!ny did finally make it to Florida yesterday afternoon. At least it’s done. I do feel a bit better about everything now, with that huge worry taken care of. Partially at least, because it still has to be blocked and leveled and anchored and all that stuff. Still, moving it was nothing but a spectacular pain in the ass and 0/10 would not recommend undertaking that particular experience.

It’s a Florida resident before I am

Last Wednesday Hillary and I drove up to Midland to pick up Presto and bring him back home. We had quite an adventure up at Michelle’s (even though we were only there for like 15 hours) so I’ll post more about that later this week. But indeed, the Noodle has landed and though he’s been a massive pain in the ass so far (what else is new) I do love having him back. I missed his big dumb face. I’m slightly panicked at having 3 horses to deal with on my own in Florida but… we’ll figure it out.

Quinnie perhaps did not miss him so much

In between all this I’ve been busy getting all the breeding data prepped for Kentucky. A friend has an “in” with the organizers and John Kyle said he was interested in having the data, so I possibly went extra-crazy with it and triple checked everything in an attempt to make it as thorough and correct as possible. Hillary took my spreadsheets and is pulling the most important data over into easier-to-read-for-commentators PDF’s with our Breed.Ride.Compete. branding so that we can email those over. Our Patrons already have access to the documents for the 4* and the 5* posted to Patreon. I’ve also written an article for EN in collaboration with RRP, a very TB-centric LRK3DE article, that I think will be running Tuesday or Wednesday. I’ll link to it when it’s up.

I also made a couple more BRC swag items for myself to wear this week in Kentucky. Gotta represent. We’ll be there Thursday and are staying on the campground (Patrons, you’ve gotten an invite to a Happy Hour on Saturday at our camper! Check the facebook group!) and while this trip is largely for “business”, I’m really excited to get back to Kentucky. The timing of this whole thing is… uh… not the best, considering we’re literally about to move, but still. I can’t wait. And really I haven’t even had time yet to think about Kentucky because I was so busy with everything else, but now that I can finally devote some brainpower to it, I’m just ready to be there. Bring on the bluegrass.

If you see this logo or the WTW logo, it’s either me or Hillary

We get back from Kentucky on the 2nd, pack everything up for the horses on the 3rd, and then officially leave for Florida on the 4th, so time is ticking. Hard to believe we’re so close now. It’s a little overwhelming because even though I’ve managed to mostly take care of things here, there’s going to be even more to do when we get there. Trying not to think about that part yet…

Tomorrow I’ll give you more updates on what the horses have been up to. I’ll do my best to draft a post for this Friday too so that we don’t miss Foal Friday. Beyond that I’m not really sure how much I’ll be blogging or when, but I’ll try my best to get some regular updates for you along the way.

Foal Friday: Quinlee Itchtravaganza

Apologies for being completely MIA this week… it has been… something. This is literally the first morning that I’ve been at my computer at all. I’ll catch you up on all the happenings next week, but for now I wanted to pop in with a quick and fun video Foal Friday post.

First of all, baby Q got a name! Sadly, it’s not Quesadilla (I hope everyone knows I’m actually joking and did not want to name the baby Quesadilla) but almost as cute – Quinlee. I got to meet her this week when Hillary and I went up to pick up Presto, and I have to say I think the name fits her. She is a CUTE little thing and very people-oriented. She’s also very very very into butt scratches at the moment. I definitely enjoyed all the time I spent (which was a lot) standing out there scratching baby bums.

I hope you can live vicariously through me on this one. Happy Friday!

Foal Friday: Fill in the Blank

I have been absolutely balls to the wall the last couple days with packing and other moving related stuff, so I don’t have time to write the usual little story that goes along with the Foal Friday post. I didn’t want to skip it completely though, because I dunno about y’all but I NEED the foal pictures to cap off my week. So – here ya go… a little bit of a photo dump of Baby Q from this week’s adventures, and I figured y’all can caption them or make your own little story for them however you see fit. Happy Friday!

come on human, it ain’t gonna scratch itself

Pre-Crunch Time

Last week/weekend were basically the last relatively free and relaxed weekends I’m going to get for the next month or so. This week the t!ny h0use is being prepped and packed, next week it’s moving, then I have to go pick up Presto from west Texas, then we’re headed to Kentucky, then as soon as we get back from Kentucky we’re packing up the horses and heading to Florida. Between all that stuff and work and other random things, there’s something on my calendar basically every day for the next 3-4 weeks. So, knowing what was looming, we were trying to fit in as much horse time and as many “fun things” as possible into last week.

First noteworthy thing: Hillary finally got to ride Gemma.

The original plan was that she wouldn’t really ride her until way later, but Gemma’s a lot more chill than we anticipated, plus I was like “you really gotta FEEL her though”. Because just watching her you can see some moments of brilliance, but riding her and feeling those moments… that’s a whole different thing. It makes her very exciting. Hillary agreed that the nice moments feel even better than they look, and that we got a nicer horse than we’d even originally thought. That’s always fun.

The next day I rode Gemma again and Hillary jumped Henry, and Gemma’s main job was to stand quietly on the buckle in the middle while he worked around her, and while he buzzed nearby her front and back end. She wasn’t rattled in the least, and I think the “standing on the buckle” ride was her favorite. Lazy animal.

She’s just a walking murder-fest, ya know

On Friday we headed over to Dover for their tent sale, because sometimes they do have some good deals. I will say though that the term “tent sale” was a bit of a stretch. In years past they’ve actually had a huge tent set up in the parking lot, but this time there was just a pop up canopy that had an empty table under it. They had some tables set up outside with boxes of stuff, a lot of it undesirable, but there were some good deals to be found if you dug around or went through all the returned items. A lot of stuff inside was on sale too but there were so many people crammed in there it was making me claustrophobic. Ultimately I ended up with two pairs of bell boots and a fly sheet (the fly sheet was actually a good deal, 50% off) and a free bucket. Still not sure if it was worth the 45 minute wait in line that it took to check out, though. Probably not.

We had tried the day before to message The TackHack to set up an appointment with them to come by their shop after Dover, but didn’t get a response. Since they’re only like a mile and a half from Dover we decided to try to drive by anyway and see if anyone was there. We called the number on the door but didn’t get an answer, so alas that didn’t happen. I wanted to check out their store at least once before I left Texas but I guess that wasn’t meant to be.

it does exist though

We had some Mexican food for lunch while we were out, and then on Sunday I met a couple more friends for an early dinner at another Mexican food place. I think literally the only perk of Texas is the superior Mexican food, but we’ll see what I can find in Florida. For now I’m stocking up, just in case.

While Dover wasn’t that exciting and TackHack was a bust, I did manage to score a nice used Devoucoux dressage bridle for Gemma from someone on Instagram for an absolute STEAL. I’ve always wanted one of these because I love the noseband, but also I am way (way way way) too cheap to pay $500+ for a bridle. I keep forgetting to try it on her, but hopefully it fits. If not she could probably wear Presto’s and he could wear this one.

Totally unhorse related, I also snagged a couple more poetry books. I’ve been having a definite poetry book moment for the past year or so and I’m not sad about it. Granted, I should probably stop buying freaking books when I know that it’s just yet another thing I have to pack. Details. I don’t have nearly as many books as I used to before I moved into the t!ny so I don’t really feel that bad about it. My book collection still fits on one shelf of a small bookcase.

Today my dad is coming over to help me take all the skirting off the t!ny, and then tomorrow I have a guy coming to prepare it for moving (unanchoring it, taking all the blocks out, checking the tires, securing the hitch, etc). I’m also trying to get the Kentucky breeding data done this week for a couple Eventing Nation projects and get some content done for the Patreon. All of this to say: it’s very possible that I might be more MIA here on the blog over the next few weeks than usual. I’ll keep posting at least semi-regularly until we leave for Kentucky, and then after that you probably won’t hear from me again until we’re settled in Florida. I’ll keep you updated as we go. Crunch time has officially begun!

Gemma Jumps (and, uh, goes XC)

Hillary and I really wanted to take Gemma and Henry on a fun outing before my schedule went completely off the rails pre-move. The last available weekend for that was this past one, which was maybe sooner than I had planned, but… beggars can’t be choosers. We opted for the little XC place down the road since it’s only a 20 minute haul and they have lots of little tiny jumps on their mini XC course. Gemma had not jumped yet (I’ve only ridden her like 7 times? 8 times?) but I figured this could be a good little introduction. My plan was just to lunge her over some logs and ditches and up and down the bank and into the water, and I figured if she was good for all that then I’d get on afterward and hack her around the field.

Spoiler alert: expectations exceeded.

Henry tried to murder her in the trailer (I love him to the moon and back but I swear to god he is such a freaking butthole sometimes) but other than that it was an uneventful trip. Poor Gemma spent the ride over cowering in the back corner as far away from him as she could get. My horses have chestnut mare vs bay gelding stereotype role reversals.

Gemma definitely had some ants in her pants while I was tacking up – she’s been to that facility once before when Henry was doing jumper classes and I just held her next to the ring. It’s a loud and busy place though, at the top of a hill (therefore windy AF and you can see a long way in any direction) with a highway bordering the XC and lots of traffic noise. She wasn’t being naughty or anything, just wide eyed with her head on a swivel. I put her to work on the lunge line, trotting for a few minutes until her eyeballs settled back into her head, and then asking her for lots of transitions to get her focused on me. Once she was listening we went over to some little logs and I asked her to trot over those on the lunge. Which she did. Quite literally. Just… trotted over. As if they were poles. So we walked a little further and found a few slightly bigger things… same reaction. So then I asked her to to canter a couple, which was harder on the lunge line. She still didn’t care. Ok well, this game now seemed stupid. Screw it, I said, I’m getting on.

I walked her up and down the smallest bank first, then trotted a few little logs and boxes. She was too busy looking around at everything else to even notice the jump until the last second, so she had that kind of approach where she did a hardcore wiggle right at the base. I didn’t have a neckstrap (yes hi, was not planning on really riding) so Hillary had to give me one of her stirrup leathers. Once I had that it was a lot easier to just keep my hands hooked on either side of the neck strap to keep the “tunnel” and put my leg on to keep her straight without worrying so much about keeping my hands out of her way or trying to grab mane. My spare neck strap will be living permanently in my trailer from now on so that Hillary doesn’t have to ride around with one stirrup again.

leading the way through the water, because she don’t need no babysitter

Gemma didn’t quite understand the game yet, since, ya know…. she’d never jumped before, but she was 0% worried about it and never cared about any of the jumps. The only issue she had was that sometimes when we were trotting things her hind feet didn’t quite remember their job, especially if she was too busy looking at something else. I was like well let’s see what happens if I canter stuff. It seemed to me like she might find that it made a little more sense or was easier at the canter (a lot of them do in the beginning since a jump is really just a big canter step, vs when they trot something and have to be more coordinated about all 4 feet). I mean, have I only cantered her like twice before? Yes. But it’s fine. Off we go.

Once she cantered a few jumps it definitely started to click for her more, how she was supposed to use her body. Then the things we trotted were a lot better too. I was also pretty impressed with her ability to also handle the slope and terrain – nothing about that place is flat really, and you’re constantly dodging bushes, so it’s not the easiest scenario for a wiggly greenie. She was very honest though, and even if she got wiggly at the base, as soon as I re-directed and closed my leg she was like “oh ok”. Pretty sure she was convinced I was just an idiot that clearly couldn’t steer around all these things, but she humored me and jumped them, even stringing a few together.

Then we headed back up toward the ditches, banks, and water. I had Henry lead the way over the ditches the first time, which was… ridiculous. Henry paused and took a hard peek down into them before he hopped over, and Gemma didn’t even notice there was a hole in the ground, she walked over like it was groundpoles. Or if she realized it she just didn’t care. Then we trotted over them by ourselves and again, same thing.

the baby ditch did not even register

Then we went over to the water, which is narrow and dark here – most horses tend to be a bit spooky about it. We had Henry lead the way across it the first time because I thought she might need a lead. Lol. Clearly I do nothing but constantly underestimate Gemma, because she barely even hesitated before marching right in. When we turned back around to walk through it the other way Gemma was having none of the whole “following” business and surged to get ahead of Henry and lead the way herself. Ok then mare.

I trotted her across the water each direction by herself, and again she gave a last second wiggle and peek but she went. Then we went back to the baby bank and trotted up and down it a couple times. Zero hesitation, she plopped right down like a little champ. Up was a little more awkward because ya know… hind feet are hard, but she did it.

To cap it off I cantered one more slightly bigger box, then called it done with that. She’d done more than enough and… um…vastly exceeded the expectation for the day. Nothing like your first time jumping and your first XC school ending up being the same outing.

It was very helpful for me though, to see what she needs to work on most and how I think I should approach the jumping stuff with her. She’s different than I expected her to be, but in a good way. Less reactive and way more bold. I liked that even when she wasn’t sure what I wanted, she never said no, and even if she looked at something, she still went forward. She’s also got a pretty good jump on her I think, and her balance is super. All traits that I can definitely work with. You sometimes just never really know how they’re going to feel about XC until you take them and go do it, but she wasn’t intimidated by it at all… she ate it up. I think she liked cantering around the open fields especially.

We might just have ourselves an event horse!

Foal Friday: Mom Mom Mommy

The first couple weeks of a new foal always remind me of that scene in Family Guy where the mom is trying to just relax and the kid will not leave her alone. Some mares really like this time period when the foals are more clingy and more interested in them (like Peyton the helicopter mom) but others are just like omg kid what do you want? With Inca being a maiden we didn’t know what her reaction would be, but so far it seems to be somewhere in the middle. She likes her baby, and she’s patient, but sometimes she does look a little bit like she wants someone to come get this kid.

she’s a good momma either way

On one hand, she gets NO PEACE. Ever. At all. Her life is no longer hers.

She cannot graze in peace…

MOM
MOM
MOMMY

She cannot roll in peace…

She can’t even just stand there and be a horse in peace.

On the other hand, the kid (who I have jokingly been calling Quesadilla until she gets a real name and now I’m worried I’m going to end up calling her Queso forever) basically throws a parade for her anytime she walks around the paddock, so that’s one perk. Mom is still cool at this point.

MOM WHEEEEEEE

There are slight reprieves when she’s nursing at least, although Q is like a little pint-sized shark attack. She’s an EATER.

And of course Q still does sleep a lot at this stage, so if Inca can just survive the part between naps, it’s not too bad. For a few brief minutes Inca’s life is almost hers again while the kiddo is napping.

ahhhhhh bliss

Normally this is the stage where the babies would get to start going out together so they could play and give the mares a break, but since lil Quesadilla (dammit, I have to stop calling her that) is the only foal this year, poor Inca is gonna be on solo child care duty for a while. Good thing she’s patient.

Happy Friday!

What’s in a (nick)Name?

I am one of those people that will somehow find a nickname for an animal, twist it 45 different ways, and never call said animal by their actual name. Unless they’re about to get in trouble… kinda like how your mom would throw out your middle name when you were teetering on the brink of a bad decision. Otherwise though, I basically never call any of my animals by their real names in regular day to day life. Mina for instance has morphed almost entirely to Beans or usually just B. Henry is Hens or Muffin. Presto is Pesto or Noodle. Also… hmmm… I literally just noticed when I typed this out that they’re mostly food related. That wasn’t intentional either.

So it’s no surprise that Gemma has had nicknames right from the start, and we’ve run through them pretty quickly. Slim Gem is the obvious one, and it was particularly appropriate when she first arrived and was so skinny (she’s still skinny, so I still call her this sometimes, but she’s less skinny now at least). She earned Jungle Gem a few times in those first couple weeks when she had some wild moments too… that’s a fun nickname but I don’t get to use it that often anymore.

Then there were all the “squirt” variations. The Mare Squirts are real with this one, although have definitely decreased since she’s been on Regumate. Still though… she’s squirty. It started out as Lil Squirt (her rapper name, obviously), then went to SquirtAlert, before settling on Squirt Gun Kelly. I still call her that sometimes.

The most often used ones are GemGem, which is not creative in the least so I disappoint myself every time I use it, and Clever Girl, which she has rightfully earned. I caught myself calling her Pretty Girl a few times in the beginning and I absolutely hate the word “pretty” so I had to force myself to say clever instead for a while, and now it’s well-stuck. I’ve always felt a weird way about the word pretty (in relation to living things at least) for my entire life and never really could figure out why until I saw this Rupi Kaur poem a few years ago… really hits the nail on the head.

Anyway. She is extremely clever, so that’s a more appropriate word for her.

She also gets called Goat Girl a lot, because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a horse that was a) more thorough in her grazing b) so non-discriminatory about the greenery she will eat. Like… this thing will get down on her knees and crawl halfway under the fence to eat a shitty weed even in a big pasture. I blame it on her west Texas upbringing where I’m betting she probably never had much grass so now she will literally eat anything that grows out of the ground. The annoying part about it to me is that she’ll eat these shitty weeds but still doesn’t like the coastal hay very much and I have to mix it in with her alfalfa to get her to eat it instead of just pull it out of the net and piss on it. Freakin goat.

Her latest nickname is Geminem, because she is both slim and shady. That one seems to be sticking too.

How often do I actually call her Gemma? Almost never. Or at least not to her face.

Is this Love…. that I’m Feeling…

I don’t even like 80’s music at all, so why the hell is a friggin Whitesnake song what came to mind for me when I was writing this title? *shudder* And now it’s stuck in my head. Great. Wonderful.

ANYWAY. This post is about Gemma. Because I think I love her (great, that tossed a Partridge Family song into my head instead and now I just feel old AF. Better than Whitesnake though…). I mean, I already knew that I liked her a lot, just from the day to day handling and learning her personality over the first couple months she was here. But now that I’m riding her and learning more about that side of her, I just continuously keep liking her more and more. She has yet to disappoint, aside from the fact that she’s gross and always smells like pee. Minor details.

red ears

I took her out back on the hacking path by herself last week for the first time and of course she was super. No screaming, no spooking, no funny business. Her head is on a swivel and she wants to look around a lot, but in a curious way, not a spooky way. She’s like that about everything and it’s a quality I greatly appreciate. She’s interested and engaged, but not fearful or stupid. I never feel like she’s gonna do anything particularly naughty or go belligerent on me.

I’ve also been riding her out in the jump field for the past few rides. It’s not level like the dressage arena, there’s a good bit of slope to it, but it’s bigger. There are pros and cons to both spaces. She’s a little more naturally forward out in the jump field, which helps, and my poles are out there for her to trot and canter over. I was hesitant about how she would handle the slope… the first couple times I hacked her outside of the ring you could tell she wasn’t used to unmanicured surfaces or having to pay attention to her feet. I think she tripped over every rock, stick, divot, and bump. She’s figured it out pretty quickly though, and now she’s only tripping over things when she loses focus, looks at something else, and forgets to watch her feet.

she’s naturally pretty well-balanced

The slope in the jump field can be challenging though, especially for young and green ones that aren’t that strong yet and are still learning how to balance themselves. The first ride out there she was definitely struggling a little with the steepest downhill parts, but every ride she’s shown great improvement, and now she seems to have figured it out pretty well for herself. You can feel her adjusting her own balance to compensate for the slope… she’s smart and naturally wants to stay up off her forehand, which makes her feel very nice to ride (especially if you’re used to a Henry, where you spend 99.9% of every single ride trying to get him in a more uphill balance). Of all the straight off the track horses I’ve had and ridden, she’s probably got the most natural aptitude for the flatwork as any I’ve sat on. She’s not hesitant about the contact (even if it’s still very inconsistent), she doesn’t try to escape by ducking behind, and she actually wants you to ride her with your seat. Mostly we’re working on getting her more supple through her body and bending around the leg right now. There are 5-10 steps of brilliance every few minutes, and those steps hold a lot of promise. The feeling she gives you in those moments is really nice.

Which… Hillary hasn’t sat on her yet (today maybe!) but Bea got to take her for a spin yesterday. Figures that the kiddo is the second one on her and beat Hillary to the punch. Ever since we brought Gemma home Bea has been saying this is her horse, but I think we all thought it might be a long time until Bea actually got to sit on her. Jokes on us because Gemma is a lot quieter and more chill than we anticipated.

Bea waving to her imaginary crowd of fans

After I rode her yesterday, Gemma gave pony rides to Bea for a few minutes, because what better mount for a 4yo kid than a 5yo ottb chestnut mare? She was super though. Don’t believe stereotypes. It’ll be a long time before they do anything but pony rides of course, but that seems to have appeased Bea for now.

I’ve been making an effort to upload videos of her to my Instagram regularly so you can follow along with her progress… it’s easier than posting them on Vimeo and then embedding them.

Gemma is making me wish I had the budget to do an embryo transfer on her this year so I could “have my cake and eat it too” by getting a baby out of her but still continuing to ride her. That’s not in the cards though, so the baby-making will just have to take a backseat… I’m having too much fun riding her.

“Reasonably Prepared”

We’re now officially about a month out from the big move and it’s totally fine. No one is panicking. Definitely not me. Things are about to start ramping up hot and heavy in preparation for All The Things that have to be done (it is a lot. A. Lot. I have anxiety dreams on a nightly basis and constantly think of more things I need to do – the list of Notes in my phone is getting fairly grotesque) and I’m in this weird stage where I’m trying to mass purge unnecessary shit because I don’t want to move it, but also I need to gather things I’ll need when I get there. Which, some things I can get after I get there yes, but other stuff I’d like to already have on hand so I’m not trying to go hunt things down for the horses while also ironing out my own living and work situation at the same time. Reasonably prepared is what I’m aiming for. Remains to be seen if that will be attained.

This has involved getting (among other things) fly sheets, although I still need one more. I nabbed a couple zebra ones on super sale from Epplejeck, and I think they’ll be fine for Gemma and Presto, but if Henry stands any chance of wearing a fly sheet without absolutely roasting to death, he needs the lightest weight, finest mesh fly sheet ever created. Which I have not quite found yet. Fly sheets are a bit of a new concept to me, the extreme heat and sun here means they aren’t really a thing, but they are definitely a thing and a desired item in Florida. Suggestions on one that might work for our favorite pal, Mr. MightDieofHeatStrokeAnytimeItsOver75Degrees?

I also went ahead and replaced my barn boots, because hell if I was going to drag holey, destroyed boots 1000 miles with me to the land of frequent rain. Girl no. I snagged some new ones on sale last week and the old ones are currently residing in the trash can. One less thing to deal with and I won’t be mad about moving them. Granted I’m not really sure how I feel about these new boots, they’re a different brand, but… they’ll do for now. Mostly I needed something that didn’t have giant holes in it so my feet wouldn’t be wet all the time, and they do meet that criteria at least.

I have a whole bin of stuff packed up and ready to go to consignment, and have already started some mental Tetris in my head to figure out how and where to pack everything else. I’ve never in my life been so glad to own fairly little stuff. Or I’m glad I got rid of most of it when I moved into the t!ny h0use anyway. Stuff = stress. Moving all the horses’ stuff will be bigger objective in all this and I’m way ok with that.

Other than moving stuff, I’ve also started thinking about prep for LRK3DE. We are going this year and I have some commitments with EN, particularly with creating a breeding guide. I’ll also provide detailed breeding data to the event, although whether or not it gets used on the live stream commentary depends a lot on who’s commentating. There’s one big name person in particular who has already expressed zero interest in having or using that data, which is frustrating, but… they’ll get copies of it nonetheless. In prep for that I made a few pieces of BRC swag for Kentucky for Hillary and me.

Getting that whole “business” off the ground will really be more of a summer project, but I wanted to start getting the branding in place before Kentucky so we had it for our paperwork and for ourselves to rep, so we can look perhaps a little more legit for some meetings. Bless the Cricut for it’s services to this endeavor. I actually think the stuff came out looking pretty good, considering the logo was something I just threw together on my own. It’ll work.

Hopefully I’ll have some Presto news for you soon. For now he’s still just living his normal day to day life out in Midland, although he did have a complete meltdown about the new baby last week and had to be moved further away from them. I’m pretty sure he thought it was his own personal toy and it certainly is not. He still, knock on wood, has yet to take a lame step since he’s been out there. Sure is luxuriating in all his MagnaWave and bodywork and knee deep piles of hay though. Rotten little $hit.

Speaking of little shits, Henry’s food baby is due any day now.

colt or filly?

He really exploded when the spring grass came in, but honestly with all the upheaval and changes that are about to be happening I’m fine with him carrying a little bit more weight right now. He always loses some when he travels, and he is not particularly good at handling big life changes. And when I say not particularly good I mean atrocious. He’s atrocious at it. So I have a feeling some of that weight will come off on it’s own anyway soon… he can keep the food baby for now.

Which reminds me… I need to start stocking up on Ulcergard…