It’s in the Blood: Luhmuhlen

If you’re getting tired of these pedigree breakdown posts, I’m sorry. I won’t stop. I’ve become dangerously obsessed with studying this stuff and my spreadsheets are out of control. But also this time I’ve tried to pull in a few more “fun facts” as I’ve gone through the field, so hopefully it’s a little more interesting even for those who aren’t breeding nerds.

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Today is Day 2 for dressage at Luhmuhlen, which is always one of my favorite cross country courses. It looks like something straight out of a Grimm Brothers fairy tale, like you might turn the corner and run into Hansel and Gretel. If you have a Horse & Country subscription (do I have a subscription to pretty much all of the streaming equestrian event channels on the internet? maaaaaybeeeee…) you can watch the live stream online. If not, Eventing Nation has pretty good coverage.

This year there are only 34 starters in the 5*, an even smaller field than Kentucky, but it’s chock full of an interesting mix of heavy hitters and first timers. My usual disclaimer: if I was unable to find enough of a horse’s pedigree to calculate a meaningful stat, they were excluded from the numbers.

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Leader after dressage, Irish Sporthorse Brookpark Vikenti

As usual, the most represented stud book is Irish Sporthorse, with 10 entries. Of those 10, 4 have traditional Irish breeding (no European warmblood). Despite the Holsteiner studbook having only 3 horses representing, 55% of the field carries some Holsteiner blood within the first 3 generations.

The average blood percentage of the field is 56%. I looked at the pedigrees a little differently this time in that I broke out one more generation of sire information. This time I looked at the entrant’s sire, the sire’s sire, the dam’s sire, and the dam’s damsire. This revealed something kind of interesting. If you look at just the sire, sire’s sire, and damsire, the number of full thoroughbreds is about the same – 7 horses have full TB sires, 7 horses have full TB sire’s sires, and 8 have full TB damsires. But if you go back a little more and look at the dam’s damsire, the number of full thoroughbreds doubles – to 15. That’s exactly half of the pedigrees that can be verified that far back. Is it an important place in the pedigree to have blood, or is that just a coincidence?

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Seigneur d’Alleray xx, full TB sire of Soraya 243

This field is chock full of horses that came up through the FEI young horse classes – 62% of the field participated in 6yo and/or 7yo 2* and 3* classes.

Several sires show up more than once throughout the field, with Irish Sporthorse stallion Touchdown being the sire of two horses and the sire’s sire of another. Touchdown (now deceased) was a 5* showjumper, sired by the Selle Francais legend Galoubet and out of an Irish mare that had a full TB sire. Touchdown has been a successful producer of showjumpers through the 1.60m level and eventers through the 5* level.

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Touchdown

The stallion that shows up the most throughout the field, despite having no direct offspring, is Contender. He is represented via his sons Contendro I, Contendro II (full brothers), Con Air, and Cristo.

For the thoroughbred stallions we see a lot of the usual names like Heraldik xx, Master Imp xx, Mytens xx, Damascus xx, and Sir Ivor xx.

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Sir Ivor xx

The most eye-catching horse in the field is probably Tullabeg Flamenco, who is hard to miss with his buckskin coat, 4 white socks, and a blaze. I am admittedly a little obsessed with him, so I fell down a rabbit hole while looking into his breeder and family. Bear with me here. Tullabeg Flamenco is one of at least 6 full siblings, out of a skewbald Irish mare named Tullabeg Heidi and by the dun stallion Tullabeg Fusion.  One of the older full siblings, Tullabeg Vision, is competing at the 3* level. Another, Tullabeg Tango, is being produced by 2018 WEG silver medalist Sarah Ennis and currently competing at the 2* level.

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Tullabeg Flamenco. If there isn’t already a fan club I would like to start one. Who’s in?

If you dig more into the families and siblings of the entrants, you find some other very successful mares. The dam of Ascona M, Naomi IV, is also the dam of Clifford M, a 4* horse ridden by American rider Charlotte Collier. Ascona M is by Cassaro, while Clifford M is by Cristo (one of the Contender sons mentioned above). Cristo is also the sire of  Luhmuhlen entrant, Calle 44.

Clifford M

Paulank Brockagh’s dam, Calendar Girl (by TB stallion Triggerero xx) is also the dam of 4* horse Paulank Kings River. Both horses are ridden and have been brought up through the ranks by Australian Sam Griffiths. Palanks Brockagh is by Touchdown, and Paulank Kings River is by Kings Master (by TB stallion Master Imp xx).

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Paulank Brockagh

On a sort of interesting note, American hunter stallion Ultime Espoir also has an offspring in the field – Efraim. Of course, as is typical of many hunters of these days, before Ultime Espoir came to America, he was a jumper in Europe. Efraim is one from one of his earlier European crops.

Ultime Espoir in his second career

Let’s see how the weekend unfolds! The leader after dressage is Brookpark Vikenti, a traditionally-bred Irish horse with 81% blood by the TB stallion Master Imp xx. Can he keep his lead? Who are you rooting for?

Settled

On my last update about the new barn and how the boys were settling in, Presto was kind of being a dingus. He spent most of the first couple days staring out his window into the distance, snorting and pacing and flagging his tail like he was trying out for some kind of elite Arabian squad. Luckily that was just a phase, and he finally settled back into his normal weirdo self (which is loads better than his cracked out Arabian self).

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Will Henry ever stop being jealous? Nah.

Presto is not the smartest horse in the world when it comes to social situations, so he’s currently missing many chunks of skin and fur. When other horses come at him he just kind of curls himself up into a ball rather than MOVING OUT OF THE WAY, so… I dunno if/when he’ll figure that out. His right flank especially has like 5 chunks missing right now. Pretty sure at least 4 of them are because of Henry.

He did make a new friend in a black gelding named Otis, who actually seems interested in playing with him. That’s rare. But naturally, this has caused Henry and Otis to kind of hate each other. You should see the mare glare they exchange from across the barn aisle, and Otis tries to bite Henry when I lead him past his stall. Poor Presto doesn’t even know that this whole power struggle over “ownership” of him is going on. He’s just delighted to have discovered that this place has ROUND BALES, which he rolls on, scratches himself on, tries to climb on, and eats almost non-stop.

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he ate a giant hole out of the middle and eventually buried himself withers-deep in his hay cave

I’ve seen him out there basically hugging the dang thing, he loves it so much. I mean, he was born in one, so I guess it makes sense.

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REMEMBER THAT?

Last week I ponied him with Henry once, and got him out for grooming a couple times. He’s already spent some time under his new Tree of Knowledge out in front of the tack shed. It’s nice and shady and right in my line of sight, so it’s perfect for baby horses. He’s pretty solid at the whole Tree of Knowledge idea by now though, so he mostly just stands there like a decent citizen.

Yesterday I decided it was finally time to do something a little more involved, so I put him in the crossties, tacked him up, and took him out to the arena to lunge. I thought he might be a little wild, but… I got like a minute in before the barn owner was like “do you need a whip?”. I think she was tired of hearing all my clucking, trying to get this crazy childerbeast to keep trotting.

WILD AF, WATCH OUT.

We practiced his whoa and his go and his standing skills, then I left him groundtied while I waved the whip around his head, smacked it on the ground around him, and stood behind him and waved it in circles above my head. Presto stood there looking bored like “stupid human tricks, am I right?”. So I guess we’re definitely back to normal now.

Oh, and… he fits in Henry’s dressage girth.

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It’s a 28, and considering that Presto is literally 2 inches wide, I have no idea HOW, but that’s a new thing we’re doing I guess. Granted, I have to put it up all the way on both sides, but… it does technically fit. He’s hardcore growing right now so he’s mega awkward and scrawny despite spending 20 hours a day knee deep in hay. You can tell he’s starting to get a little deeper through his body though.

He’s come a long way from that little bebe we saw on the ultrasound 3 years ago today (thanks facebook memories!) during his fetal sexing appointment.

He was still cute though, even then. Big ears and all.

 

 

#WinItWednesday

If you follow Riding Warehouse on social media (I have to assume that you do, because if not you’re missing out on all kinds of things), you may have noticed their ongoing #WinItWednesday campaigns. As you can probably guess from the name, they give cool stuff away pretty much every Wednesday to one Riding Warehouse follower. This week I’m really excited to team up with them for a big giveaway – you could win a Champion helmet of your choice!

Some of you may remember my Champion skull cap review from January, and I’ve really continued to love my Pro-Ultimate SNELL skull cap. It’s comfortable, very ruggedly-made, and I love all the little features like the metal safety buckle, removeable liner, and extra ventilation.

buckle up bitches

There are only 4 equestrian helmets in the world that carry a SNELL certification and Champion Pro-Ultimate skull cap is one of them. It definitely gives me a little more peace of mind to know that I’m wearing one of the safest helmets on the market.

For those who don’t need a skull cap, Champion has a variety of other styles to choose from as well. The brand is just now starting to establish themselves in the US, but they’ve been a leading brand in the UK for a long time and have a great reputation for safety and high quality construction.

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What else would you wear when accepting your medal from the Queen? #britishAF

How to enter? There are two ways! Check out the facebook post here:

Or the Instagram post here:

View this post on Instagram

So excited to be joining up with my friends over at Riding Warehouse for their #WinItWednesday campaign! This week’s winner will get to choose from RW’s awesome line up of Champion helmets. What makes Champion so great? For me – SAFETY! Check out the link in my profile to see my review of the Champion Pro Ultimate SNELL skull cap, one of only 4️⃣ riding helmets to carry the prestigious SNELL certification. Want to win your own Champion helmet? Here’s how to enter the giveaway: 1. Like this post 2. Follow @ridingwarehouse, @the900facebookpony, and @championequestrian 3. Comment and tell me what YOU think are the most important qualities to look for when buying a helmet 4. Tag 3 friends Entries close on Sunday, June 16th at midnight, and the winner (selected at random) will be announced on Monday, June 17th. Please visit RW’s website for complete giveaway terms and conditions! Don’t want to wait for the giveaway? ALL Champion helmets are 15% off exclusively at Riding Warehouse through this Sunday, June16th! 🥳 #giveaway #mindyourmelon #equestrian #horses #eventing #dressage #crosscountry #eventing #showjumping #hunterjumper #equestrianstyle #equestrianblogger #championequestrian #horsebackriding

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You can enter on both, if you choose!

If you don’t want to take your chances with the giveaway, ALL Champion helmets are 15% off exclusively at Riding Warehouse through this Sunday, June 16th! I really can’t say enough good things about mine, it is by far the best skull cap I’ve ever owned.

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Questions Surrounding Air Jacket Safety

If you were on social media the past few days, you may have seen the new data analysis study regarding air jacket safety. If not, see this link (be aware, this is the summary… you have to have a subscription for access to the full paper). Basically the authors analyzed FEI fall data, and from this data concluded that “Riders wearing an air jacket had 1.7 times (95%CI 1.14–2.64) increased odds of sustaining a serious or fatal injury in a fall compared to riders not wearing an air jacket.”.

While I’ve been questioning air jacket safety and the lack of research surrounding them for years, I think it’s important to recognize what this study is really telling us before anyone gets too up in arms or jumps to a conclusion about air jackets or the study. The conclusion of the study states:

Riders wearing an air jacket were over represented in the percentage of serious or fatal injuries in falls compared to riders who only wore a standard body protector. Further research is needed to understand the reason(s) for this finding. It is recommended that additional data on injury outcomes, rider characteristics and the biomechanics of falls be examined in future analyses, and that air jacket and body protector characteristics be further investigated.

So really, this study says “hmmm… we need to research this to figure out why we’re seeing this trend in the numbers.”. Which we do. While correlation does not equal causation, the data we do have definitely raises some questions and highlights the need for more and better data. There has been very little research done regarding air jackets as they relate to equestrian usage, and we really don’t know anything about failure rates, their influence on fall trajectory and direction of impact, potential destabilization of injuries, the risk of burst fractures, potential differences between inward inflation and outward inflation, any possible mental/risk-taking factors, other rider-related factors that might come into play with their use, etc etc. There are a lot of unanswered questions.

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It’s also important to recognize that the FEI data itself is not very complete. Since it’s from FEI, it is all upper level competition data, but it’s not giving us particularly specific information about the types of injuries or how they occurred. I personally would be very interested to know what kind of body protector was worn under the air jacket in these cases, because it sure seems like people love to throw them over a 10+ year old cardboard-thin Tipperary and call themselves safe. (On my sandbox for a minute asking people to PLEASE invest in a good quality BETA 3 approved vest and replace it every 4-5 years, whether you wear an air jacket or not… we know for a fact that those work)

One of the authors of the study, Lindsay Nylund, commented on social media with a bit more information:

Thank you all for your comments and questions in relation to this study. I cannot respond to them individually as the debate has progressed, so I will try to address some of the major points raised. Firstly, the conclusion was, “riders who wear air jackets are over represented in the number of serious/fatal injuries in falls.” The results of the data analysis revealed a 1.7 times increase in relative risk. The probability that this finding was due to chance is less than 1 in 100 (p=0.009).

Nowhere does the study conclude that air jackets are the cause and no recommendation is made that riders should or should not wear an air jacket. Unfortunately the data available to the authors could not establish the reason(s) for the finding and hence why it is suggested that further research and investigation be carried out. The discussion section of the paper, explores some of the possible reasons for the finding to provide some focus on where future research efforts could be focused, but these should not be confused with the conclusions or imply causation. The reason(s) must either be due to air jacket characteristics (such as lanyard pull forces – reported in a Swiss study to be in the range of approx. 20 to 60 kg, or possible restriction of torso movement transferring injury risk to the head/neck, etc.), AND/OR due to rider characteristics (such as riders who wear air jackets having increased risk of injury in falls due to rider anthropometric characteristics or fitness levels, or pre-existing injuries, more rotational falls, etc.), that were different from the cohort of riders who fell not wearing an air jacket.

The analysis was limited to injury outcomes in falls (expected versus actual), not differences in fall rates for riders wearing/not wearing an air jacket – we did not have data on the number of starters wearing an air jacket. If 55% of the 3,305 riders who fell were wearing an air jacket, then you would expect 55% of serious/fatal injuries to be for riders wearing air jackets (if air-jackets were doing no good or no harm). While there may well be confounding factors that are unrelated to air jackets, the counter-intuitive finding in the data suggests that the matter needs to be investigated.

Indeed, the study raises more questions than it provides answers, however it does highlight the need for further research and investigation. It is up to each rider to decide whether they think the benefit of wearing an air jacket outweighs the potential risk that it may be increasing their overall serious injury risk, but wouldn’t you prefer to know that there may be a problem and make your own decision? It is fine to speculate about possible reasons and this can assist researchers to identify the data that needs to be collected and analysed. Important questions which need to be answered are: What are the rider, air jacket, and body protector characteristics that we need to collect data on? What is the best way to collect this data? How and when can it be obtained? How can we as riders, instructors, and industry bodies support the research that is needed to understand the reason(s) for the finding? What is it going to cost and how can it be funded? How quickly can further research be carried out? Thanks again for your comments and questions.

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It has always bothered me how our industry has swallowed this item as a safety revolution, hook line and sinker, without having any actual research to back that up. It also concerns me that it seems as though most people think that the air jacket is more important than the body protector underneath. Or that the large majority of wearers do  not follow the recommended service, maintenance, and inspection protocol. For example, Point Two’s policy says “We recommend you have your vest or jacket serviced yearly or after six inflations. Your safety depends on it.”. I don’t think I know anyone who actually does that. Some companies don’t even offer any kind of servicing or maintenance protocol. If you like wearing an air jacket, by all means please use it. But understand what it’s meant to do, what it’s not meant to do, and understand how to care for the equipment properly. And, ya know… put a good quality body protector underneath.

So why, in this FEI data, do we see such a disproportionate number of injuries with riders wearing air jackets? We don’t know. Could be so many reasons. Maybe air jackets are safer in some instances or not others. Maybe they have an effect that we don’t know about. Maybe there are other factors at play that would change the data completely and show that air jackets really do help prevent injury. The bottom line is that we have no idea. This data analysis just illustrates how little we DO know, and how much we need some solid research into the air jacket safety equipment so that we can understand how/if it really works. The next question is: how do we get those answers?

Gallons of Sweat

I sweated so much this weekend that I feel like a walking piece of beef jerky today. With temps in the mid-upper 90’s with high humidity and a heat index in the 100’s, it was just disgusting. There’s no other word for it. Welcome to Texas summer. It’s gross, I hate it.

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all about those morning naps

I also had a lot of outside plans for the weekend, so the heat was unavoidable. We’re still waiting for the back hay field to get cut (could it stop raining for just like a week please?), since right now the grass is too high and thick to safely ride out there. In the meantime we’ve been exploring the neighborhood, looking for other open, already mowed spaces where we could also ride. The neighbors are nice, and we met one on Saturday morning that is happy to let us do conditioning work around his big field. We still need to stalk/hunt down talk to the guy across the street with the HUUUUUUGE pasture, but we’re making friends and progress.

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Hello beautiful

On Saturday most of my outdoor activities were limited to riding and running errands, so I was hot and sweaty and gross, but not too bad. On Sunday I was perhaps a bit too ambitious. I was up early for a 7am bike ride with my dad… since I busted my ankle I had to stop running and cycling for a few weeks, and it was getting annoying. Especially because I had already started the Nessie race, logged exactly two workouts for it, and then hurt myself. Grrr. But that stupid ankle is mostly back to normal again, so while we didn’t do quite as many miles as usual, we did log almost 16. Now I’m only 4 miles away from finishing Nessie. If I’d known I was that close I would have just kept pedaling, but lord it was SO humid and gross yesterday morning, we were both ready to be done. Sweat was dripping off every inch of my body and puddling on the asphalt. I’ll wrap up Nessie this week, when it’s maybe slightly less miserable outside.

After the bike ride I headed out to the barn. I haven’t jumped since we were at Holly Hill a few weeks ago, and somehow we now find ourselves only 3 weeks out from leaving for Coconino, so uh… guess it was finally time to set up a few jumps in the new arena and get back in the full swing of things. It felt like it took forever and approximately 5000 trips back and forth for Hillary and I to set up some jumps (if you board/ride at a place where you never have to lug jumps in and out of the ring and set courses, be grateful! I always took that for granted…) and by that point we were both dripping sweat before we even got on our horses. Heat index: 104 degrees.

Hillary jumped Dobby first while I set jumps for her (Dobby did his first grid!), then we switched roles. Henry was REALLY EXCITED to be jumping again. And kinda rude. And cocky. And full of himself. The heat kind of worked in my favor in that regard, as soon as he started getting hot he suddenly became a lot more rideable. He really needs to get out for a good long gallop this week and get some of the HENNY out of his system. He had a really light few weeks while I was out of commission with my various injuries, and you can tell he’s a little wild.

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Well… while I’m riding, at least.

After I was done riding I drove down to do a bodyclip, where I added lots of horse hair on top of the multiple layers of sweat and dirt that I had already accumulated. By the time I got home around 5, I was feeling quite gross. And quite thirsty. And quite spent.

A cold front blew through last night in quite dramatic fashion (complete with tornadoes and hail) so we’ve got a little respite from the severe heat for a few days at least, with highs only in the 80’s. It’s only 59 at Coconino right now. SIGH.

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Pioneer Boots: Initial Impressions

After spending over two weeks stuck in customs, my Pioneer boots finally showed up on Monday!

Technically these are semi-custom. All Pioneer boots are made to order, but I am pretty average size and was able to order a size combination from their standard size chart – 39 foot, A height (tall), +4 calf (the biggest calf option they offer in stock sizing, so if you need bigger they become full custom). I went off of their size chart and my own measurements, hoping they were both right.

I chose to order from Equizone, since a) they had one of the best prices b) I’ve ordered other things from them in the past and had good experiences. They’re based in Germany, so it was maybe a little bit riskier if they weren’t right, but they also do a TON of these boots and I’ve yet to hear anything negative about the company. The model I liked most, the Atena, came with a patent leather top, which I don’t really care for. I emailed to ask about other options for the top and their customer service people were helpful in narrowing down my options and giving me the price differences for each. I will say, there aren’t any good swatches for all the Pioneer options online. They have little ones that are hard to see, so I did the best I could to scour the internet for pictures but ultimately just had to go with my gut and hope it all looked good together. In the end I decided to go with the darker brown leather, black sole, and brown lace top. The final price was 365 Euro all in, since Equizone has free shipping on purchases over 270 Euro.

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My order went in on April 10th, and my boots left Germany on their way to me on May 14th. Considering they had to submit to order to Pioneer, then the boots had to be made and shipped from Italy to Germany, then prepared to be forwarded to me, I thought the turnaround time was very quick. The shipping from Germany to my door took almost as long as making the boots did, thanks to customs.

I chose the Atena because they were a soft, close-fitting dress boot. I like the clean slim look and those seemed to fit the bill. The outside panel was said to be made in “stretch leather”, which I didn’t really fully understand until I got them. The outside panel is literally elasticized leather. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

 
I’m pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the boot. For the price I kind of expected a lower end leather, and while they aren’t as nice as my Tuccis (which, to be fair, cost 3x as much), they’re pretty darn nice. Nicer than the similarly priced Ariats or Ego7, for sure.  They seem well-made, with some nice details like a double position spur rest and a rear zipper guard at the ankle. The zipper is a little bit small, and there’s no tab on the zipper pulls, so zipping them up the first time was a little challenging. If they were super tight I would probably have concerns about the longevity of the zipper.

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First zip! Or mostly zip… couldn’t quite get them up all the way at first.

The foot feels a touch smaller than my Tuccis which are the same size, so if you’re in between sizes I might size up in the foot. The calf and height seem totally spot on with the size chart, and fit perfectly. Like for real, they fit like custom. That outer elastic panel definitely helps with that, it molds the whole thing to my leg. The first zip was a little difficult, and I wasn’t able to get them all the way up until the ankle broke in a bit, but once they did it was like magic. For new boots they’re quite comfortable, no rubs or blisters anywhere despite lots of walking.

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Aside from that outer stretch panel the rest of the boot is a regular leather, not super thin but not super thick. I’m optimistic that they will wear pretty well, but we’ll see over time. Overall I’m super pleased with the ordering process and how the boots turned out, especially for the price. So far they’ve exceeded expectations. Pioneer has about a bajillion different boot and leather and color options and you can customize literally anything you can imagine. Considering how affordable these things are, this could be the beginning of something dangerous…

ULR insight

With all the driving I do, one of my more recent addictions is the podcast Major League Eventing. They interview upper level riders, asking about their background, how they run their programs, what their future plans are, etc. I’m not much of an ULR groupie, but I do think it’s really interesting to hear how people got their start in the sport, and how they run their programs now.  Sometimes there are good little nuggets of wisdom in there, or things I hadn’t thought about.

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I haven’t made it through all the episodes yet, but I’ve covered all the ones that originally caught my eye. People I was curious about, or liked, or in a few cases… disliked. In some cases the interviews made me some of them more, and in a few cases, less. It’s especially interesting to hear what drives people – for some it’s the love of sport and competition, for others it’s the love of the horse.

A few days ago I was scrolling through on my drive to the barn and saw a Kim Severson episode. She’s always been one of my favorites, so it was a no-brainer choice of entertainment for the day. Kim’s episode was short, but one of the most interesting so far. At least to me.

Y’all remember Kim’s epic save at Pine Top a few years ago? PC Hoof Clix

All of Kim’s horses live out 24/7, unless there’s a medical reason that they have to be inside. This seems pretty rare for an upper level rider. It’s kind of rare for any show horses in general. Her reasoning? Horses are meant to be horses, they’re designed to live outside where they’re healthier and happier. I totally agree, mine would definitely live outside if it was an option. Her whole “horses are meant to be horses” theory was kind of the recurring theme of Kim’s entire program… she values horsemanship above all else. A few other riders have said something similar, but you could tell that Kim really lives and breathes it, from how her horses live to how their careers are managed to how they’re trained.

They also asked if she has a particular liking for the Cooley horses, since she’s had several. Kim said that she really likes how they’re brought along/developed in the Cooley program, and mentioned that she thinks there is a lot of benefit to how Cooley incorporates a lot of in-hand cross country work in their horses’ training (you can see some video here). I’ve always really loved this about their program as well, and have emulated it with my own. Kim thinks that with this method the horses really learn to think for themselves and figure out where their feet are, and I agree. Liz Halliday-Sharp also made the same observation about the Cooley program on her episode, too.

The other interesting, and different, thing that Kim mentioned was that generally she is the one who initially approaches her sponsors. That it’s important to her that she likes and believes in the things that she’s representing. Most riders seem pretty hungry for any and all sponsors that would be willing, which I totally get, this business is tough. And Kim isn’t exactly lacking in sponsors. Still though, it’s refreshing to hear.

It’s possible that I have a slightly bigger girl crush on Kim after that. I was sad that the interview was so short, because I would have liked to hear more about her program.

Anyone else been listing to the MLE podcast, or maybe Eventing Radio Show? Any “must listen episodes”? Or have there been any interviews or tidbits that you thought really stood out from the crowd?

25 more

It’s mid-week, work is busy, I have several posts half-drafted but not completed, and I’m running short on creativity. I love posts with questions, I think it’s interesting to learn more about people, so I’m borrowing the ones that Viva Carlos found on Tumbler. Feel free to keep it going!

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1. What is the first thing you do when you get to the barn?

Go peek in at the boys. Usually that means a smooch on the nose for Presto and immediate retreat to the tack room to get cookies for Henry, because god forbid you greet him without a cookie.

2. Is there a breed that you would never own?

“Never” is a dangerous word, but I’m not sure there are any circumstances in which you would find me with something heavy and hairy, like a Friesian or a Gypsy Vanner.

3. Describe your last ride?

Stretchy. Last night we mostly worked on stretching and suppling in all 3 gaits.

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It’s kind of cool to have an arena again

4. Have any irrational riding fears?

I don’t think so? I’m mostly just scared of making a mistake that ends up getting a horse hurt.

5. Describe your favorite lesson horse?

I rode a lot of sale horses growing up, not really lesson horses, but my favorite in the lesson horse string was Crystal, an appendix mare. She was grouchy but really fun to ride, and super kind.

6. Would you ever lease out your horse?

Not now, but in the future yes.

7. Mares: Yay or neigh?

I actually prefer mares, I dunno how I ended up with 2 geldings.

8. How many time per week do you get to see your horse?

I’m usually at the barn 6-7 days a week.

9. Favorite thing to do on an “easy day” with your pony?

Hack out in the fields, or go exploring. I don’t like being stuck in the arena, I want to ride out.

 

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exploring

10. Conformational flaw that bothers you the most?

Back at the knee. That’s the only one I can think of that would be a resounding NO for me, regardless of the rest of the horse.

11. Thing about your riding that you’re most self conscious about?

All of it. Literally all of it.

12. Will you be participating in no stirrup November?

No. I often think that NSN is to the detriment of the horse. I’m a big believer in taking your stirrups off periodically as a regular part of your training, but I don’t like when folks try to cram all of their stirrupless work into one month out of the year and end up putting extra strain on the horse’s back. Moderation, with regularity.

13. What is your grooming routine?

Jelly scrubber or Tiger’s tongue (depending on how dirty) followed by a medium stiffness brush, followed by hoof pick. Sometimes I’ll put Kevin Bacon’s hoof dressing on, if needed. After a ride I hose him off and then fly spray, and then put tea tree spray on all the fungus-prone areas. If the ground is super hard and he worked a lot, I might pack feet with Magic Cushion.

14. Describe a day in the life of your horse?

Right now they’re out all night, so they come in for breakfast, then he eats some of his hay, takes a nap, gets up and eats more hay, takes another nap, gets up and eats more hay, then I show up to ride, then he eats dinner, then he goes back outside. It’s a rough life for Henny.

15. Favorite season for riding?

Fall! Even if it’s a very short season around here. It just feels so nice after 6 months of summer, and tends to be less rainy than spring.

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16. If you could only have 1 ring: indoor or outdoor?

Outdoor with all weather footing. Being stuck inside all the time is depressing to me, but I’ll ride outside in any weather as long as the footing is safe.

17. What impresses you most about the opposite discipline (english vs. western)?

I feel like western people generally are better at groundwork and basic training concepts. They tend to expect better behavior from their horses, which I think is a really important fundamental that a lot of english folks are lacking.

18. You have unlimited funds to buy one entire tack set for your horse, what is he/she wearing?

Either a custom Devoucoux or Voltaire with navy piping, with a matching girth, a Fairfax breastplate,  and like 500 different bridles because I like them all. Each of them with Neue Schule bits, of course.

19. How many blankets do you have? When do you blanket?

Each horse has a sheet and a blanket. Henry has a Back on Track as well. I have a ridiculous amount of coolers and scrim sheets. This is Texas, so an extensive blanket collection generally isn’t needed. When they’re blanketed depends on how hairy they are, if they’re in or out, if it’s sunny, if it’s windy, etc. Too many variables.

20. What is your horse’s favorite treat? Favorite place to be scratched?

Henry will eat pretty much anything besides apples. He loves the really rich soft treats like German Horse Muffins and Stud Muffins (I need to try the Slims!), but he doesn’t get them often. His daily cookies are NickerMakers. He also REALLY loves poptarts.

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Most Rotten Animal

21. Something about your barn that drives you crazy?

Nothing yet, except maybe the drive. I’ll be happier when all the fencing is hot, just because anything that isn’t makes me nervous. So far so good for everything else though.

22. Roached manes, pulled manes, or long flowing manes?

I like a short mane but I don’t pull them, I use scissors and/or a blade. You can make it look just as good! I’ve had too many that really don’t like having their manes pulled, and I don’t see the need. It does mean my braids are a little bigger since the mane is thicker, but I don’t mind it and don’t really care if anyone else does.

23. Can you handle a buck or a rear better?

I don’t do rearing. At all. Hard nope.

24. I would never buy a horse who ___________________?

Um… reared? lol

25. Favorite facial marking?

Star plus snip. I don’t know why but it’s always been my favorite!

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His snip is maybe edging closer to a stripe, but close enough!
 

Show Cancellations and Refunds

I sometimes think that I spend so much time looking at the weather, I may as well have been a meteorologist. In my weather app I’ve bookmarked every city in Texas that has an event or schooling venue, and I page through them regularly, especially leading up to a show. I look at almanacs, long term forecasts, and follow way too many weather-related pages on social media. And I know for a fact that I’m not alone in my creepy weather stalking habits. All horse people are weather watchers.

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For those who don’t event, our entries work differently from h/j shows. Entries open 6 weeks in advance and close 2 weeks in advance. If it’s a popular show, or one that limits their entries, you have to enter early if you want to ensure a spot. Oh, and – we pay in full. Whether that’s online with your entry or via snail mail with a check, we pay our entry, stabling, clean stall deposits, and other fees when we send our entry in.

Refund policies can vary. The standard one is that if you withdraw before closing date, they’ll give you a refund minus office fees. But remember closing date is still 2 weeks out. And some only do that if they can fill your spot from a wait list, which may or may not exist. Some will give you an entry credit (usually entry fee only, not stabling or other fees) if you have to withdraw after closing date, if you have a vet note. If you withdraw after closing date for any other reason, you’re unlikely to get anything but your $21 USEA starter fee back.

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Why? Because events take a lot more prep work and they put out a lot more expense beforehand. The cross country courses have to be mowed, aerovated, repaired, jumps moved, courses designed and set for every level, mapped and flagged and numbered, loads of dirt laid down if necessary, fences decorated and brushed, etc. It’s A LOT of work and it all has to happen well in advance of the event in order for things to be ready. That’s in addition to all the normal horse show pre-work, like booking and flying in your judges and officials, renting tent stabling if necessary, renting showjumps if necessary, prepping the showjumping rings, dressage rings, and warm-up areas. Not to mention the fact that it costs a lot of money even just to own and maintain facilities like this, and cross country courses in particular. By the time you’re 2 weeks out from an event, the organizer has already put out quite a lot of time and money in prep. They would be losing money left and right if they didn’t get our money in advance, or if they offered full refunds to anyone who wanted to withdraw.

Then you add in the complication of weather. Area 2 got to suffer through this last year, with tons of events getting cancelled due to weather. This year it’s also effected Area 5. Eventers are a hardy bunch, we don’t mind some mud or getting rained on, but when it’s to the point of being unsafe, or when emergency vehicles are unable to access all parts of the course in the event of an accident, it’s a no-go. No horse show is worth that kind of risk.

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It’s been a weird last 9 or so months in Area 5. Normally it’s pretty dry down here, but we’ve had a lot of rain. The ground has stayed pretty saturated, which means that it doesn’t take much rain on top of that to wreak havoc. Almost every venue in our area has been affected somehow. One local event had to cancel a schooling HT and a charity derby. Another had to cancel a recognized event over a week out, because their whole course was under water. Another had to cancel the XC portion of everything Prelim and above (including FEI divisions) because massive amounts of rain a couple days before washed out a bridge that made it impossible for emergency vehicles to get to parts of the course. Yet another event just had to cancel (although was able to obtain a rain date in August) due to way over-saturated ground. There was even one covered dressage show that had to cancel because a massive storm with tornadoes and straight-line winds blew enough rain into the venue to create a lake in their arena and turn trailers and RV’s over.

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that’s a problem

Suffice it to say, it’s been a really weird season for competitors and organizers both. The organizers that have been affected have all done what they could to offset the loss of entry fees to competitors. One was able to offer full refunds minus their costs. One was able to secure a new date. Others have offered schooling credits and/or entry fee credits to later events to help offset some of the loss.

Yet every time an event gets cancelled, there are people complaining about it and getting angry on social media. I get it, at the end of the day no one wants to lose money, especially when it’s hard to come by. It sucks to send your entry fee off and then never see it again and still not get to show. Then again, your horse could just as easily get hurt, or you could have a personal emergency come up, so you wouldn’t be sending the entry money in at all if you weren’t prepared to lose it.

While losing entry fees sucks, it would suck a lot more for these organizers to lose so much money and get so much flack that they end up deciding they don’t want to do this anymore. Horse shows are a privilege, not a right. I’ve volunteered enough over the years that I know that NO ONE wants to cancel a show, least of all the organizers. They’ve devoted a lot of time and money into getting ready, and they want everyone to come and have a great day. Unfortunately sometimes things happen that are beyond anyone’s control, and safety has to come first.

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The rampant criticism on social media concerns me a lot, especially when we don’t have very many event venues in this area as it is. Sometimes comments end up turning downright mean. Some people go as far as to send rude emails, or complain to USEA.

From what I’ve seen and experienced firsthand, everyone is always just trying to do the best they can and make decisions that are in everyone’s best interest. Sometimes things are beyond anyone’s control, and we all end up disappointed. That’s horses. That’s eventing. Unfortunately we can’t control the weather. I think before we take those frustrations public, or make accusations or comments on social media, it’s important to stop and think about it from all sides.

No, you’re not entitled to a refund. If you read the omnibus, you knew this when you entered.

No, the organizers didn’t orchestrate a grand conspiracy with the weather gods so they could “steal” your entry.

No, the course designer didn’t make up some story about a washed out bridge so that they could cancel your cross country.

Reality looks like this.

Organizers and competitors all want the same thing here, and we’re all disappointed when it doesn’t go to plan. We win some, we lose some. That’s how it goes, unfortunately. If the organizer can afford to issue you a refund or a credit, be grateful. If they can’t, still be grateful. I think sometimes we forget that at the end of the day, we’re all on the same team. Maybe instead of lashing out, we should be thanking the organizers for trying their best to make it happen for us, and offer sympathy that their hard work was all for naught. Because without these venues and these people, who are often lucky just to break even, we wouldn’t have a sport to participate in at all.

Settling in. Sort of.

We’re officially moved! We loaded the rest of our stuff and the boys on Saturday morning and rolled into the new place by 9am.

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Henry promptly laid down a took a nap. Then got up, switched sides, and took another nap. I think he likes having a more deeply bedded stall with shavings again. The last barn had mats with enough pellets on top to absorb everything, but definitely not to excess. It was practical and got the job done, but probably not nearly as comfortable for napping. They’ve also got those high velocity fans that put out hurricane force winds, and they’re turned all the way up, so Henry is certainly living his best breezy napping life. He really likes being able to put his head out of his stall too, both over the door and out of his window. His last stall didn’t have either of those things.

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He’s got an arena/round pen/back pasture view

We had some errands to run, so once we were done unpacking we left to let the boys settle in for a while. This barn is close to both my favorite local feed/general store and a Tractor Supply, so that’s a nice perk. I mean… yes I’m driving way farther to the barn every day, but at least there’s good stuff nearby. We grabbed a few things for them and a few organizational items for our tack room space. Since both of us have a lot of stuff (okay mostly me) we had to try to figure out how to condense ourselves a bit, especially tack-wise. Because eventers.

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When we got back we tacked the boys up and went out for our first ride, which was mostly exploring our new space. The farm has a resident pet cow that the vet saved, and all of them were a little terrified of her.

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This is Tillie. She is very cute and super spoiled.

We wandered around the arena (it’s not huge but it is a flat DRAGGED space, which I haven’t had regular access to in quite a while) and then around the perimeter of the back hay field. Once we got out there we noticed that there is actually some elevation change to it, nothing big but some small hills that would totally work for hill repeats. It needs to be mowed, which is hopefully happening this week, and we’ve also got permission to ride around the perimeter of the neighbors field as well, which connects to ours with a gate. The ground is beautiful sandy loam, which, in the land of black gumbo – this stuff is like living on gold.

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Did I stop to take a picture of it? Maybe I did.

We also briefly went out to the road to explore a little bit. The old farm was on a very busy road that definitely wasn’t safe to ride on, so road hacks weren’t a thing. This place is off the beaten path, with much less traffic and a good amount of space on either side of the road. We decided that we have to make friends with the people that live across the street and see if they’ll let us ride in their big pasture. It’s freaking massive.

This isn’t even a quarter of the space

The barn owner also said that if we keep going down the road for about half a mile there’s a little creek area with some trails where people like to go walking and fishing. Might have to check that out next.

On Saturday night they got turned out in a small back paddock together, just to let them settle a bit before they get put in with the rest of the herd. They sent us this picture of all 3 of them glued together in one corner.

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The vet was out on calls all day Saturday so we didn’t get to see him while we were there, but apparently the first thing he asked his wife when he got home was how Henry was settling in. That horse has a pre-existing fan club around here, which I’m sure he will milk as much as possible, just like he always does.

And while Henry settled in pretty quickly, Presto has been a little bit more on edge. I don’t know if it’s the cow, or the fact that you can see VERY FAR in every direction, but he’s a bit worried. Like his eyeballs are permanently bugging out right now and he snorts a lot.

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WHAT THE SHIT IS ALL THIS

When I got there yesterday morning he was alternating between sticking his head out of his window and snorting, or pacing circles in his stall. I walked him around the whole place for a while and he was on edge but not particularly panicked about any one thing in particular, so I tied him up in his stall for a while to see if that would help his brain reset. I think he just kind of got stuck in a psycho loop and needed a minute, because he immediately took it down a few notches and rested a foot.

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still skeptical

I moved Presto’s hay so that it was under where he was tied, then untied him while we went to ride Henry and Dobby. He just stayed in the same spot eating his hay, like he thought he was still tied. But hey, at least he wasn’t being a nut anymore. Once we were done I put him out under the tree in the front and let him do some thinking on his new Tree of Knowledge. He’s nervous about turning his back to the cow, but wasn’t belligerent about it. Never trust a moo-demon.

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IT’S OVER THERE

Hopefully today he’ll be a little more chilled. He’s just gonna have to figure it out and get over it. Part of life kiddo. It’s hard being 2.