Glass Case of Emotion

Man… how are we back at Monday already? That did not feel like a particularly restful weekend, mostly because I was riding an emotional rollercoaster following along (ok, and weighing in sometimes) with all the discussion about this new MER rule, and the revision, and then the arguments about the revision, and then more details about how this all came about in the first place. Frustrated, disappointed, resigned, irritated, discouraged, disconnected, discarded… a lot of dis-.

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I mean it makes sense that a lot of us are so emotional about this, because the potential implications are huge and we all feel passionate about the sport we love. To many of us outside of the east coast it looks like a Mt Everest that has been plopped directly in our path. Anyway, I read a lot of great things and I read a lot of extremely disappointing things, but I filled out the survey at least so… I guess we’ll see how the dominoes fall. All I know for sure is that if I see one more east coast pro rider say “ThAt’S wHaT mOdIfiEd iS fOr” I’m going to have an aneurysm. The Modified division pretty much does not exist outside of the east coast so that’s a useless statement. I’d have to drive 14 hours each way to get to the closest available one. Welcome to one of the challenges of not living in area 2 or 3. Want to help make the T to P move-up safer? Instead of making us burn up our horses with endless travel and a million T runs, organize a push to help make Modified available in every area. I’m also still not over the one saying that maybe if people want to event at Prelim or above we need to move.

ANYWAY.

In between being angsty at people on the internet, I did actually get a few things accomplished. The jumps that SO ordered for me (because he set fences for me once and hated my old semi-ghetto jumps so much that he literally went home and ordered me a couple new ones) finally came last week, although they required some assembly. Ok “some” isn’t accurate, they required all the assembly. Basically it just came as four PVC 4 x 4’s, 16 PVC feet, 8 tracks, 4 caps, and a baggie of screws. I kind of expected them to at least be pre-drilled, but no, it was all just cut to size. So, we built them ourselves. I guess I’m not really sure what I expected to show up, I never even thought about how they would ship standards (or not) but I was surprised that literally nothing was put together or pre-drilled. It gave the SO something to do though and made him feel like he accomplished something, which he did, since now I have 4 new standards. Now I can have more than one oxer! Exciting times indeed.

After spending so much time watching Ingrid and Piggy to cavaletti exercises lately I keep jonesing for those super cool square cavaletti ends that they use. They seem so useful, and so easy, and so stable. They’re also so expensive though. I saw a British company that’s coming out with some made out of a hard foam rubber type material and they look interesting. Still not particularly cheap, like 2/3 the price of the plastic ones, but it’s an interesting idea.

Kind of makes me wonder if I could find 12 x 12 x 4 blocks of the stuff and make a hole in it myself. I haven’t really started the hunt yet but it’s on my list.

Otherwise I spent the weekend checking some things off my list that have just kept getting pushed off. I finished the breeding info sheet for the Red Hills 4*, made Presto’s next vlog for the US Event Horse Futurity (will these vlogs ever take me less than like 6 hours to put together?), got the Baby Bets Contest post drafted and ready to roll (IT’S THAT TIME!), and organized more stuff that I want to sell. I’m more motivated to actually put in the effort to sell things now that I’m trying to pull more money together to keep Presto in training.

Aside from all that I also rode Henry plenty (I can’t tell if he loathes or loves being the center of attention once again… maybe both) and spent some quality time with my new spin bike. So far in the 5 days I’ve had it I’ve done 4 spin classes. It’s fun, in a really painful I-think-I-can-taste-my-own-lungs kind of way.

note to self, clean your lens

This week I’ve got a lot of meetings at work and I’m taking Thursday off so I can go up and visit Presto. The next item I need to start thinking about knocking off my list is the blog rebranding, which admittedly I’ve had precisely zero motivation for. It’s a lot of work, and it’s not even fun.

Hope everyone had a good weekend, and eventers if you haven’t filled out the survey about the new MER rule proposals yet, no matter how you feel about it, please please please please do so! This will probably be our only real chance to weigh in and it’s only fair that we all give our opinion.

Watch List

So, the day that I finally decided to send Presto off for training, I may or may not have possibly sort of perhaps freaked out and bought a spin bike.

Me.

It’s not anything fancy like a Peloton, I definitely don’t roll that deep, it’s just a very basic no frills Amazon special that no one would ever fawn over but it gets the job done. It finally showed up on Wednesday and honestly since it had been 3 weeks since I ordered it (one and a half of which was the winter storm subreality from hell) I had forgotten about it. Surprise! It was pretty easy to put together at least, and she’s got a really nice spot on my back porch where I can look out at something besides a wall and get a nice breeze.

When I was going to the gym all the time, spin was my absolute favorite thing. Well ok, tied with swimming. It’s a lot harder to have a pool at home though. Spin was the only actual class I would take though, being an anti-social crowd hater and introvert… I have to REALLY love something to do it in public at all. And I don’t know why but there’s something about swinging a leg over a bike that makes me really “ride or die” (this was true when I competed in triathlons too) and suddenly I become competitive AF. Mostly with myself. I used to prefer sitting right in front of the class instructor so I could force myself to match them as exactly as I could. I am not like this at all with running, or yoga, or… most other things in the world. I have a lot of quit in me when it comes to those things. But on a bike I’ll go until the bitter end and push myself past my limit with little to no prompting.

My second favorite sport. Wish I still had time for it.

I’d kind of forgotten that aspect of myself, until I did my first class and swore I could taste my lungs. Now, I’ll admit that I’m also too cheap to get any kind of app. And I don’t own an iPad or anything, so I just set my little phone on the bike to do classes. I’m not really into paying for it, so I found a few youtube channels with instructors I like and added a bunch of their classes to a list for myself, and just play the videos on my phone. So far I’m plenty pleased with that. I don’t really need the competitive nature of being in a virtual class with others, since I’m seemingly perfectly happy to try to kill myself on my own. Anyway, all of this to say that I’ve kind of gotten sucked into a youtube rabbit hole lately, and this is only one of the ways. Aside from the spin classes, most of it has been for horse-related content.

I posted Piggy March’s youtube channel a couple weeks ago and it remains a fun one for me. I like how she talks through the exercises she does and explains what she’s trying to get out of it, or how she troubleshoots.

I’ve also branched off into a couple other people’s youtube channels, especially Courtney Cooper and Cathy Wieschhoff. There are some useful tidbits in there, no matter what discipline you do. I love educational things like this, and seeing different people’s perspective on things. Never know what new things you might pick up!

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For non-youtube stuff, there have a been a couple interesting things posted lately. For those who missed the first USEF Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion meeting and discussion you can replay it here on USEF Network. They covered a lot of great topics and I learned a lot. Definitely worth the watch. I think you do need a fan membership to watch USEF Network, so if you don’t already have one you can get a free one for the year with code SCOTTSDALE21. You’ll want it anyway before the LRK3DE coverage starts!

One other interesting one – USEA has been posting more educational videos, especially around the YEH and FEH programs. These programs and how they’re judged can be super confusing to outsiders or those that are new to it, especially because YEH is judged differently from regular horse trials, but unless you’ve attended judging symposiums you might not know quite what they’re looking for. The one most recently posted is about judging gaits, which is interesting not just from a YEH or young horse perspective, but from a general dressage perspective as well. You can hear a lot of the discussion about what scores they would give each horse for each gait and why. Definitely interesting!

Have you seen any good educational videos lately that are worth a share? Drop them in the comments!

Make it 10

I dunno about y’all, but my social media is ablaze with people debating the latest extraordinary rule changes put forth by USEA. If you haven’t seen them you can read about them or watch the video discussion.

I Make The Rules GIFs | Tenor

There are some big ones put forth here, most having to do with safety. Like the 5 or more rails equals compulsory retirement at Training level and above. I’ve already talked about that one. I still feel the same way I did when I first heard it.

There’s one not listed on the website though that was discussed in the video – raising the number of required MER’s from 4 to 10 (or fewer depending on the rider’s classification… which, rider classifications at the national level would also be new. FEI does something similar, so it’s not a completely new idea). Most “normal” folks or non-upper level riders would fall into the unlicensed category, and that would mean 10 MER’s. If you aren’t aware, an MER is:

When achieved at a National Horse Trials an MER is achieved by completing the entire Horse Trial and scoring. – not more than 50 penalty points in the Dressage Test; and – No jumping penalties at obstacles on the Cross Country Test unless specified otherwise, and not more than 90 seconds (36 penalty points) exceeding the optimum time; and – not more than 16 penalties at obstacles in the Jumping Test. – 25 penalty points received for Dangerous Riding will not achieve a National Qualifying result. Exceptions to the qualifications noted below may only be approved by the Credentials/Grading Committee.

So basically you have to have 10 runs with a dressage test under 50, a clear XC, and no more than 4 rails in stadium (which, you’d be eliminated anyway if you had more than 4…). I was and still am very much in favor of raising the number of required MER’s. I thought 4 was definitely not enough. But is 10 too many?

This is a tough one for me. When you’re on a budget and/or have to travel a long way to get to an event, 10 MER’s could easily be two years or more. Granted, that was exactly my own trajectory – 2 years at Training before moving up to Prelim. However, I did NOT have 10 MER’s after those 2 years. I had 6. If you counted unrecognized (which here are at least run over the exact same courses that the recognized shows do, and timed) I would have had 10. Of course USEA doesn’t count those, so they wouldn’t have gone toward the total. I would have had to do a 3rd season at Training before we could have moved up. But then taking three years would not meet the “within 24 months” part of the requirements. Endless loop.

Is it the end of the world if people can’t move up the levels? No. Is it adding to the expense of an already expensive sport? For sure. If this was in place when I was moving up would I have tried to run my horse more often than was really ideal for him? I don’t know. Or would I have ended up diverting my money away from unrecognized shows, extra jumper shows, etc? Possible. Would any of that have been for our overall betterment? Probably not. Or maybe I never would have even tried for Prelim at all, my interest waning and turning to something else instead. Hard to say what you would have done or what would have happened in different circumstances.

If you’re on the east coast, where you can pop into a recognized show for the day, spend less than $300, and get your choice pretty much any weekend, it wouldn’t be as difficult or as expensive. But in the rest of the country, where it’s a 4-day endeavor (or more) to show, there’s maybe one a month, and it costs 3 times what a one-day would… 10 MER’s is massive. I have to admit that when I was thinking “more MER’s” I was thinking 6 or 7. Also, what if for all 10 of those MER’s you’re BARELY meeting the requirements? Does hitting the magic number 10 automatically mean you’re safer?

You can also use Modified as part of your MER’s, which would be great except we have NO MODIFIED divisions offered down here. None. At all. That’s not an option for us unless we drive to the East Coast. Again problematic for the rest of the country.

Some other potential cons: It makes it more expensive to bring young horses and sale horses up the levels, which will probably in turn make their prices higher. The cost could discourage ambitious amateurs from really trying to give it a go and/or make it feel impossible, thus not worthwhile to even try. What impact could it have on unrecognized horse trials? Would it make people not even want to “waste” their time at one, needing so many MER’s, or will it drive people away from recognized events entirely and more toward unrecognized? Or away from eventing entirely?

Then again, if all of this really DOES result in keeping horses and riders safer, I can’t argue with that. I’m not confident that it will, because they haven’t shown a lot of in-depth detail on the data behind how these decisions were made. It’s hard to trust or put a lot of faith in numbers or statistics without knowing exactly how they came to be. Maybe if they shared more about this it would help people understand how they came to these conclusions, since it is such a BIG change.

As for the rider classification part, I have no issue with that. It does make sense to me that Phillip Dutton shouldn’t have to have as many MER’s as I do. That’s totally fine with me, and the “unlicensed” label doesn’t bother me the way it has others.

For me personally I think I’d rather see something like 6-7 MER’s, and a reverse qualification like “get eliminated at X level twice in X period of time and you have to move back down and requalify”. Then again, maybe the damage is already done in that elimination. I can see both sides of this, for sure.

I don’t know, this is a hard one for me. Seeing such a drastic rule change was a surprise to me, especially one that would potentially go into effect so soon. There’s some good discussion happening here from both sides of the debate if you want to see more points and opinions. I remain on the fence.

My Only One

I probably just dated the hell out of myself by using a Yellowcard reference in a post title but come on, you know they were one of the best bands of the late 90’s, early 00’s. They had a VIOLINIST. That’s hard to top, and it’s why they were 100% my favorite band at Warped Tour (2000? 2001? 2002? I forget).

ANYWAY.

Henry is back to living the Only Horse life for the first time since 2018. Well, he’s not alone of course, he has Quinnie, but he is the only one that I’m riding or doing anything with. I can’t quite tell if he thinks this is a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, more attention equals more cookies, and that’s definitely a good thing.

On the other hand, more attention equals more riding, and he keeps swearing that he’s semi-retired. Even though he’s wild pretty much all the time and gets a lot of joy out of yeehawing his way through everything we do.

I’m amused by it, and happy that he feels good enough to be a dingus, so it’s fine. He did manage to get a week and a half off thanks to the winter storm but on the plus side, before the ice started, he finally got to wear his PS of Sweden quarter sheet. Which… his butt has expanded a little and it’s kind of more like a cape, but whatever.

I’ve also ridden him a little in one of my leather bits. Aside from a few sporadic rides here and there, he’s hardly worn a bit at all in like a year and a half. He’s just a lot more pleasant to ride bitless. He didn’t object much to the leather bit though, at least for Henry (if he doesn’t like something YOU WILL KNOW IT). He chomped on it a little, which is pretty normal for him with any bit, but it was probably one of the best first responses I’ve ever gotten to a bit from him. I still prefer riding him bitless but it might be something else to play with going forward if/when we ever make it to another event and have to dressage. Why did it take me so long to get in on this leather bit thing?

I also finally got around to playing with the knockoff Equiband system that I bought for him months ago.

When he first picked up the trot there were many emotions. He was quite displeased. There was some leaping and cantering in place and then an attempt to just run away from it. He started to settle after a few minutes though, and I did feel him engaging a bit more. He never quite stopped being mad about it, but maybe over time and with more use he won’t object quite so much. It’s funny because I used it on Presto a couple times and Presto never even flicked an ear about the dang thing. Leave it to Henry to bring the drama, per usual.

For his first ride back after the winter storm passed he got roped into ranch horse duty and we rode all around the property looking for tree or fence damage. If you’re gonna look like a ranch QH, you may as well do the job of one.

Yesterday we started back to our cavaletti exercises, and this weekend I’m going to set up a gymnastic. I’m really trying to get his strength and fitness built back up a bit before the super hot weather comes again and he won’t be able to do as much. At this point his gut is outweighing his topline. Maybe it has something to do with his cookie consumption? Neh, that can’t be it…

Presto Update #1

While I definitely miss seeing Presto’s goofy face and ridiculous antics every day, I have to admit that when the winter storm hit I was kind of relieved not to have another horse in the barn to worry about. Especially him, because he makes a freakin mess in his stall when he’s stuck inside, and usually something in the barn ends up broken. He seems to have weathered the storm just fine up there… I ended up Priming him a blanket liner, and all reports were that he was definitely a bit stir crazy, but otherwise eating and drinking fine. They luckily did not lose power or water.

Presto goofing off with Megan’s 4* horse Mo. Apparently they’ve decided they’re bros. If Presto wants to grow up to be like Mo I’d be totally ok with that.

While it was a relief that I had one less horse here to deal with, on the other hand it’s kind of a bummer that it cut into our already short training timeline with Megan (who, unrelatedly, made the Emerging Athletes list again this year!). He’d only been up there for a few days when this whole mess first started, and of course it lasted way longer than it was forecasted to. Annoying, but what can you do? None of us can control the weather.

Megan was on top of it though, and got in as much work with him as she could. He’s had some groundwork sessions and a few rides, and she’s given him a good report card. She says he’s talented and she enjoys working with him, and she seems to understand and enjoy his monkey personality. On Sunday she sent me some video of her riding him and y’all. I am shook.

I think I had to scoop my jaw up off the floor.

She said what she’s really been working on is getting him more supple through his body, especially his rib cage, which tracks 100% with what I was feeling too. She’s a more correct and stronger rider than I am, so I think she’s able to “explain” it to him much more clearly than I could. He’s still kinda wobbly and loses track of his hind legs sometimes, because ya know… he’s a baby… but for such a short amount a time I think she’s done a great job at starting to help him put things together. Especially at the canter, which I was struggling with.

I especially like how quick she is to reward him for any little try – a nice little release and touch on his neck, which you can see him responding to. A few times when he gets a little frustrated or confused she just keeps quietly asking, and rewards him the second he starts to figure out the right answer. It’s very positive and very quiet, which is what he needs and what I want to see. So far I’m super impressed, honestly.

As hard as it was to cut the cord and send him off, I think it was the right choice. He seems to be thriving, and seeing her ride him and make him look so fancy and legit brings me just as much joy as if I were riding him myself. Probably even more so, because I feel like the quality of the education he’s getting is better. I keep looking at some of these clips going “This is MY horse??? This is that goofy little beanpole that smooshes balls? IT CAN’T BE!”. Seeing him with a pro in the saddle, you can really start to see his quality and the horse he will eventually be.

Now I find myself wanting to figure out a way to keep him with Megan for longer. I think this is a good match, and I’d really like to see what she could accomplish with him given more time. A good early foundation would serve him so much better in the long run. I just have to figure out how to swing it financially. We’ll see. Might have to get creative. Is there a market on the internet for pics of gross dirty farm girl feet? I could totes sell those…

Survivor: Winter Edition

Well, I have to be honest, that was not really the way I pictured taking a whole week off from the blog or my first week’s vacation from work in 18 months.

May be an image of text that says 'Next time we get a week off of work, I do not want to spend it trying to stay alive.'

I’m sure everyone has heard about the shitshow that Texas became last week when the winter storm rolled through. There really is no other word for it, it was a massive clusterfuck shitshow of epic proportions. It ended up being considerably worse than forecasted, and of course no one really expected the entire state’s power grid to have a massive failure. The thing about Texas is that we are 0% prepared for anything like this. Our pipes aren’t buried as deep, they aren’t meant to withstand a week of sub-freezing temps, usually winter is our lightest season for power useage thus when more things are down for maintenance, and we don’t have equipment like plows and salt trucks to clear roadways. People don’t have appropriate clothes for this, or equipment for their vehicles. When we get frozen precipitation, things just shut down and everyone stays hunkered down at home for the duration (like… 6-12 hours). It rarely happens more than that, and it never gets super cold. 20’s maybe. Certainly never down into the single digits, and for sure not below freezing for an entire week. Winter weather is bad enough when you ARE prepared for it and used to it, but it’s a whole nother (very dangerous) ballgame when you aren’t. A winter weather event like this has literally NEVER happened before down here. Ever. In history. As long as they’ve been keep records. At all.

It started snowing on Sunday the 14th, and by the time dawn came on Monday we had about 6″ of snow. Never seen that before in my life. Our issues with the power started almost immediately… it started flipping on and off in the middle of the night, as ERCOT began doing rolling blackouts to conserve power.

this is a problem

Which – we were honestly lucky to be in a rolling blackout area and not in just a plain old blackout area. Lots of people lost power that night and didn’t get it back for DAYS. Our rolling blackout was enough, at least at first, to keep a little bit of heat in the house. But the constant on/off cycle of the power was not agreeing with my heating units in the t!ny house at all, and it kept flipping the breakers. For I while I could just go out and flip it back on, but soon my heating units just stopped working at all and wouldn’t even turn on anymore. I was hesitant to abandon the tiny. I had my faucets dripping but I only have a 300 gallon greywater tank, so I was keeping buckets under all my dripping faucets and dumping them outside every couple hours to keep my tank from filling up, since it was too cold to run the pump to empty it. Monday night was LONG, with sporadic power, no heaters, a rapidly plunging temperature in the house, and getting up every couple hours to dump buckets. Luckily I had a sleeping bag and lots of blankets, so me and the dogs were able to snuggle together and stay pretty warm. By the next morning, though, it was 38 degrees in my t!ny house, the heaters were still totally unresponsive, the rolling blackouts continued with no end in sight, there was a forecasted low of 5 degrees coming up, and it was clear that we had to wave the white flag. I shut off the water at the source, left all the taps open, flipped off the circuits for most of my appliances, packed all my and the dogs’ shit, said a little prayer to the goddess of pipes, and retreated to the main house. I absolutely hated abandoning the tiny.

I used to get kind of jealous of pretty snow pictures but not anymore, y’all can keep that shit

The main house was still holding steady around 58 degrees, and they have a wood burning stove, so out I went in search of firewood. Which, by that point most everything was wet or buried under snow or both. I wandered around a good portion of the property trying to gather up a couple good logs to burn and didn’t really find much that wasn’t super soaked. I ended up cutting up a bunch of old spare boards and gathering hay and shavings as kindling, and after one false start was able to get a good fire going that could maintain itself. The boards didn’t burn as long as a log would so it required a lot of tending, but it was a fire and it was warm. The power continued to cycle on and off, in a fairly predictable pattern. I logged the on/off times on my phone and we were getting about 15-20mins on and 40ish minutes off. That helped me at least plan when to do things. Of course, right around the time I felt like “ok, this is handled… we can deal with this” the water pressure started to drop off. Due to all the power issues, the water stations weren’t getting the water pumping like they usually do. At the same time, the power grid continued to be perilously close to complete failure. There is a little bit of OH FUCK that sets in when you’re staring down the distinct possibility of being without power or water for an extended period of time in the middle of the worst winter storm your area has ever seen. There’s a distinct apocalayptic feel to it.

The corgi rode out the storm parked in front of the fire. Rough life.

I had filled the bathtub with water before any of this started, so I did have some potable water. But if it completely went off, and the pipes froze or burst… it could easily be a week or more before we had restored service. So the next day I spent 6 hours putting bowls and pots and containers under every trickling water source, transferring it to buckets, and carting it outside to fill every single trough and canister I could find. I also had plastic containers under spots where the snow was melting a little bit off the roof, to gather that water too. Bucket by bucket I was able to fill 2 100gallon troughs, 14 buckets, and 3 big water jugs. It was a full time job, with quick stops to throw another piece of wood on the fire. By the time I was done I don’t think I could have lifted another bucket if I tried, my arms were just useless noodles. There is nothing fun about carrying dozens of buckets through the snow and ice from the house to the barn for hours on end. Nothing fun. Especially when you slip on some ice, fall down in the slushy mud, and spill the buckets you were carrying. That shit wore on my mental state. Bad. Mostly because there was just no telling how long it would go on and how much worse it would get. That was the bad part.

don’t mind me, just melting snow on the wood stove… #pioneerlife

The water did go completely off for a while, then slowly came back to a trickle of gross brownish water. We were under a boil water notice for the forseeable future, but I was so happy to have it anyway. As long as a little bit of water still came out, all didn’t seem lost. And we were still getting a little bit of power every once in a while at least, and I was able to get the house back up to 70 with the wood burning stove (that thing is amazing, I need one). For all of about 5 minutes, things didn’t look so bad. We were warm, and I had enough water stored to get us through at least a week, probably two. I was completely exhausted and worn down mentally and physically, but there was a plan and the horses were still ok, and that’s what mattered most. Once again, right around the time I felt like “ok, this is handled… we can deal with this”… another problem. Because every freaking day there was a new problem.

what the actual f

Henry lost his everloving shit because coyotes were chasing the neighbors cows in the distance (which, to be fair, was not normal or good). He stopped eating and drinking, and just stood there staring off into the distance with his eyes wide and his heart pounding. For hours. And hours. Then all night long. Into the next morning. He didn’t touch his water or his hay or his breakfast. By mid morning I was starting to panic because he hadn’t had anything to drink since the afternoon the day before. I had been giving them mashes of hay pellets, salt, and their regular food all along as soon as this started, and he’d eaten it really well. Now he wouldn’t eat shit. He’d just stand there and stare off into the void, punctuated by periods of spinning.

I started thinking about wtf I would do if this turned into an impaction. The roads were impassable, how was I going to haul him anywhere? What vet was going to be able to come out? I was texting with my vet about all the things I could try when the second wave of snow and ice came. That’s when I officially felt totally defeated. Power issues, I can handle. Water issues, worse, but I can still handle. But something happening to one of the horses and being totally helpless? That I can’t handle. Watching the snow pour down from the sky again was feeling a lot like a breaking point.

Me: PLEASE EAT THIS Henry: No thanks

I made another mash, added some extra fun stuff like brown sugar and peppermints and oats and flax, and went and stood in Henry’s stall. Finally – FINALLY – he started to pick at it a little bit, but only if I stood there and held it up to his mouth. I got about a third of it into him that way, and that seemed to finally get him jump-started a bit. He was still super worried about the cows, but he did start to pick a tiny bit at his alfalfa and regular hay. By the afternoon (so, 24 hours after this first started) he had drank a little bit of water too. Not enough to ease my concern, but something at least. When the snow finally ended in the late afternoon and the sun peeked out, which was enough to melt a teeny patch near the barn, I took Henry out to let him graze on that patch. That REALLY seemed to finally do the trick, and while he still didn’t relax, he grazed for a while, then went back in his stall and started eating his hay more enthusiastically, and drank half a bucket of water. Huge relief. Major. God I was terrified. None of the days were good but that day was the worst.

By yesterday it was back up near 75 again. From 5 to 75 within a matter of days. Luckily we seem to have escaped major damage. We had a tree fall over a fenceline into the jump field, but it’s not a perimeter fence and it didn’t hit anything else on the way down. The pipes in both houses and the barn seem to be intact, and we got my heaters restarted. We remain under a boil water notice but the pressure has pretty much returned to normal, and the power has stayed on for the past few days. Now all the snow is melted and it’s as if nothing ever happened. Well… grocery stores are completely stripped bare, because no one was expecting to need food for 10 days and the restocking trucks are just now able to start getting back in. Gas and food were in short supply by the time the roads cleared. Starting to think maybe there’s some legitimacy to hoarding. Luckily I have enough to not need to go to the store for another week or so, and a full tank of gas, but some of my friends and coworkers were having to scrape together whatever they could find.

that is an EMPTY grocery store

The whole experience was just… bizarre. It was like life was totally normal, and then in the blink of an eye we went into straight up Survivor mode for 5 days, and then in another blink of an eye life was pretty much back to normal again. It feels like two entirely different lifetimes. I did learn a lot though. Like… apparently south central Texas is not far enough south. Also, I hate winter. Also, I’m good with never seeing snow again. Also, if the power goes out while your incinerating toilet is in the middle of a burn cycle, your t!ny h0use WILL fill up with pee smoke. Also, WTF IS UP WITH THE TEXAS POWER GRID. People freezing to death in their homes or on the street, people not having food or water for days on end… this was absolutely terrible and inexcusable. While it sucked big time for me, I’m extremely thankful that we at least had what we did and the human and all animals made it through unscathed. Sure puts things in perspective and makes you think about just how tenuous all of this really is.

Anyway, hopefully I’m back now, and able to get back into normal life and normal routine. And here I thought 2020 was bad…

The Rainbow Box

I’ve been having some weird dreams lately, y’all. First, a couple weeks ago I dreamed that Michelle and I went on another horsey trip to Europe, looking at stallions and young horses as we always do (or, uh, did pre-corona) except this time we… took Presto with us? For the sole purpose, it seemed, of taking pics of him in front of various landmarks and in the beautiful scenery. We were stabling him at one of the farms we visited last time we were in France, and were in the horse van on the way to take him to meet his sire when I woke up. Clearly he’s my child, I guess? It was bizarre and hilarious.

Last night was another weird one, but to fully explain it I have to back up a bit. See, when I was building that Epplejeck order a couple weeks ago in which I got all the navy glitter stuff, for a brief moment I had something else in my cart. A (badass) rainbow grooming box.

Grooming Box Imperial Riding Shiny Snake

I wanted it bad, but the sale code didn’t work on it and it was expensive enough to where I couldn’t really talk myself into it. Do I need a grooming box like this? No. Could I find stuff to put in it? Heck yeah. Is it beautiful? Of course. Look at it. But I’m also cheap, and if it’s more than I want to pay then I’ll just wait until it’s on sale, and if that never happens then I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

Apparently my subconscious is still hung up on it though, because last night I legit dreamed about it. Let me set the stage…

Image result for once upon a time gif

Once again, Michelle and I were on a trip to Europe (this happens more in my dreams than I’d like to admit, clearly I’m suffering from adventure withdrawals). This time we had been to some farms in Germany and were on our way over to France, and I convinced Michelle that we needed to take a detour through the Netherlands specifically so we could stop at a big Epplejeck store. For the record, she wasn’t hard to convince. I stocked up on some things while I was there, but the focus of the visit was really the rainbow box. I saw it on the shelf, picked it up, and absolutely had to have it.

From then on the dream was entirely focused on the box, with the rest of the trip being just something that happened in the background. Like imagine that someone trained a camera specifically on the box, as if it were the star of a movie, and just followed the box around. I saw flashes of Paris in the background, then the Hills of Normandy. Mostly it just sat in the backseat and scenery flew past as we drove. Finally we were going through security at the airport, riding with the box through the little xray thingy, and ended with the box closed up in the overhead bin of the airplane on the way home. My view never strayed from it the entire time after I bought it.

Image result for that was weird gif

So apparently I’m more obsessed with this rainbow box than I realized? Or something? I’m not even sure how to decipher this. I basically watched a movie of a rainbow grooming box in my head all night. Just… staring at the box as it traveled. My dreams are getting weirder and weirder. Send help.

Ew, Texas

This will probably annoy every single person that lives north of like… Oklahoma… but Texas is about to be plunged into a particularly nasty cold front and I am not here for it.

Image result for ew gif

Especially since last week it was like 83 degrees and I was sweating my ladyballs off. Look, Texas, you’re miserable AF from May through October, please at least have the decency to only have one day of “winter” per year. You used up that day a month ago when it snowed (which was cute and wonderful, because it literally only lasted the one day).

You know what’s not cute? This.

Fourteen?

Or, up where where Presto is, the forecast is even worse.

What the actual eff? Hard pass. HARD. PASS.

One perk, I suppose, if you’re making me look on the bright side, is that I finally get to bust out Henry’s PS of Sweden quarter sheet that I got from their outlet last year. At least his ass will be warm while my face freezes off?

Although honestly I don’t think my horses have the right blankets for this kind of weather. It’s not really a thing here. A few nights below freezing scattered throughout a few month time period? Sure. But several days in a row, and well below freezing? Is it REALLY gonna snow again? Girl, no. Get outta here with that. Where Presto is living at the moment won’t even get above freezing for FOUR DAYS IN A ROW. In Texas! And nights down to SIX? SIIIIIIX??? WTF EVEN IS SIX??? WHAT DOES THAT FEEL LIKE??? It’s a good thing Presto runs warm, I guess, but probably not that warm. Now I feel like a terrible mother for not sending him with real heavy blankets, but I’ve legit never had to blanket a horse in Texas for temperatures like that. Not even close. My horse’s “heavy” blankets are 250g and they usually don’t wear them very much.

Which just kind of makes me think that the universe is trying to tell me that I SHOULD totally buy one of the new Pony-O blankets in an actual heavyweight. This is a sign, right?

hot pink unicorns or blue sloths?

Thank goodness I do at least still have Henry’s old HUG midweight, so I can layer both together for him. I’ve only got a no-fill neck cover though. It definitely makes me glad that I was too lazy to re-body clip him again in January… he’s got a little bit of coat back at least. Quinnie is covered in a shag carpet and isn’t even comfortable until it’s 40 or below, so she’s less of a concern. She’ll be fine in her blanket. I’m sitting here thinking I should try to Prime a liner to Presto. They’ve got one on Corro too that could def arrive in time but my options are 75 and 81, and Presto is in a 78. Anyone know how the Horseware (or Shires) liners run?

I honestly don’t know how you real winter people do this. I mean I guess the plus side is that y’all don’t have 6 months of godawful heat, but still. I can’t really decide which is worse.

If anyone needs me I’ll be outside winterproofing my t!ny h0use and the barn, grumbling incessantly about how I don’t sweat my tits off half of the year just to freeze them off this severely in the winter. We really need to talk about this climate change thing.

Presto Goes to Camp

If you pay much attention to my Instagram stories then you already know this, but on Saturday Presto left for 5 weeks of pro training.

He was not sold on the idea

The reality is that for the next 6-8 weeks I’m going to be super busy at work, don’t really have time to ride 2 horses properly, need to get Henry legged back up while the weather is still cooler, and didn’t want to just let Presto sit and do nothing when he’d really just gotten started. Plus, like, let’s be real, I’m the only person that’s ridden him so far and while I’m fine, I have no doubt that his overall education would benefit from a better rider. I knew I wanted to send him to someone, I just wasn’t sure where and if I could make it work or not. It had to be somewhere close enough to make the drive there and back in a day, since I also have the horses at home to look after. When I talked to Michelle about it she was like “What about Megan?” – being Megan Sykes, the 4* eventer that Michelle had been riding with, who happened to just move to a new facility up near Dallas, and who’s husband Reed also happens to be a colt starter/groundwork/horsemanship type of guy that has worked with Michelle’s young horses. She’s the one who’s owners just bought Mari. As soon as she said it a lightbulb went off – that could potentially be the perfect fit.

Not to say that the thought of sending him somewhere didn’t still make me completely nauseous, but after talking to Megan on the phone about him and making a rough plan, I felt a lot more positive about it. I mean, I still spent most of Thursday and Friday internally panicking and wanting to back out, but ultimately I still felt like this was the best decision for everyone. Ideally I’d have liked to send him for 2 months, to get us all the way through Q1 at work, but Megan is leaving for Ocala in Mid-March so 5 weeks is what we could squeeze in. On Friday afternoon I packed his stuff, cleaned up his mane and goat hairs under his jaw (perhaps if he looks less trashy in those regards it will draw less attention to the fact that he has FIVE HUNDRED BITE MARKS?) and practiced loading him in the trailer a couple times since it’s been a while.

the stuff that goes to camp with Presto

Still though, I tossed and turned on Friday night. I am really attached to and protective of the horse, probably too much so, if I’m being honest. I woke up on Saturday morning still kind of worried about the whole thing and second-guessing myself, and then he decided to refuse to get more than halfway up the ramp of the trailer. That’s a new one. In his defense, Henry did absolutely TAKE THE F OFF for the back of the property the second I started loading (thanks, friend) which freaked Presto out, but still. It took me almost half an hour of working with him to get him all the way on and the butt bar up. You know my biggest pet peeve in the world? Ok, that would be horses that don’t tie. But you know my second biggest pet peeve in the world? Horses that don’t load. Which is part of why he’s been loaded and trailered so much as a young horse. Why he decided to be a legit turd about it on that day I don’t know, but he bought himself some groundwork and trailer lessons with Mr. Reed while he’s away at camp.

On the plus side, I was so irritated about it that by the time I got there and unloaded him (he was a total freak coming off the trailer too – snorted and spooked at a wheelbarrow) that he had managed to erase all my doubt in one morning. The truth is that he needs a little bump from the nest so he can learn to exist within himself. He’s had a pretty easy, low-key, quiet life… even when he lived at boarding barns they were tiny, quiet ones where nothing much happened and things could be catered to him, in a sense. Going to a bigger boarding facility where he’s one of many horses, there’s a ton more going on all the time, and him having to adhere to their program rather than vice versa – I think it will do him some good. Time to cut the cord a bit, little one, you’re a real horse now.

hey look it’s Mari

He was definitely very wide-eyed about everything at first, but Megan says he’s settling in. She’s started working with him a bit, although of course we’re about to get hit with a major polar blast so that might affect his schedule over the next several days. Megan is used to dealing with enthusiastic young horses so seems totally undeterred by his shenanigans, and having Reed around is a major plus – it’s kind of the perfect duo in my eyes, ULR event rider plus good horsemanship trainer. The new facility is really nice too, so Presto is certainly not suffering at all, even if he’s slightly shell-shocked to learn that the world, in fact, does NOT revolve around him.

I’m planning on going up in 2-3 weeks to check in on him and bring some more feed, so we’ll see how things go. I definitely think that this is the best thing for him right now, even if I do miss him, especially at night check when his ridiculous little monkey face isn’t there waiting for a bedtime smooch. Such is life though, and it’s part of growing up. And for me I’m having to deal with being a bit less of a helicopter parent, trying to resist constantly asking about him (I’ve only asked twice in 3 days, that’s pretty good for me right?). I think he’s in good, capable hands, so that definitely helps.

I’ll update as I have news or things to share, but fingers crossed that Presto decides to be a good boy at camp!