The “FALL IS COMING” RW wish list

I’m in the midst of a very hardcore “dreaming of Fall” phase right now. It probably has something to do with the fact that I spent 48 hours at a horse show last weekend sweating non-stop, consuming 18 bottles of water/Gatorade in that time period and still feeling like I was going to die. I’m super pumped for it to not be 95 degrees anymore. WHEN that will actually happen is still yet to be determined, but I’m ready. I’ve been browsing the New Items page at Riding Warehouse a lot, dreaming of all the things I could get when I’m no longer pouring sweat 24/7. Here are a few favorites:

 

I’m a big fan of riding in merino wool in cooler weather, so I’m always looking to add more of these shirts to my collection. And while typically I’m not a fan of patterns, the subdued green color of this SmartWool top makes me think it would work well with a lot of different breech colors.

 

 

God I can’t WAIT to wear cozy socks again. CANNOT WAIT. Love the colors on these Horseware socks, and it seems like they’d work equally well for riding or for lounging.

Continuing on the above sentiment, I also CANNOT WAIT for the day where the thought of putting a scarf around my neck doesn’t make me instantaneously pass the eff out. Someone remind me of this in January when I’m whining about being frozen. Pretty sure I’d feel a lot less frozen if I had a cute hat and scarf set like this though. It could also work as a Christmas gift too (yeah, I went there already) at only $30.

 

 

I’ve never really been a big fan of the wide contrasting stitching on any of the Romfh shirts, but I definitely do like the body color of this one. Super into burgundy right now (granted, it comes in navy too). I like that it still has the vents on the sleeves, because it’s really never cold enough in Texas to not need some kind of ventilation when you’re riding.

 

Told you I was super into burgundy. I’ve been really happy with my other Kerrits coat, it’s very well made and well designed for riding. Everything from the split in the back to the underarm vents to the extra pockets make it a really practical addition to the equestrian’s wardrobe, and this color makes it a really pretty one, too.

 

Ok so this isn’t specifically related to fall weather, but let’s say that your favorite white XC boots had an unfortunate washing machine accident and are now discolored, therefore you need new white boots for the upcoming show season (not that this actually happened to me or anything, though… ahem…). Now the Gen II Majyk Equipe XC boots come as a package deal, making them a bit cheaper.

 

Ok I’ll be honest, I spent a long time giggling at the logo on this new stuff from the “George Morris Collection”. I mean… his initials with a king’s crown? LOL. But regardless, this is a pretty cute lower budget snap collar shirt with colorblocking, available in navy and burgundy, that would be cute with or without a coat. It’s casual enough for lesson days, but works just as well under a show coat.

 

Yes, I had to follow the George Morris shirt with these bad boys. While GALAXY TIGHTS are perhaps a bit much for me personally, have you ever seen anything that screamed BEKA so loudly? I’m sure they’ll have many fans. I mean, they have constellations on them AND they hold a cell phone, what more do you want? Maybe if you get lost in the woods on one of those long fall trail rides, they can help you find your way home. Or at least keep your phone handy so you can easily call for help.

 

Have y’all been perusing any of the new arrivals lately? What do you find yourself yearning for as the seasons change?

 

 

MCP Recap Part 3: CROSS COUNTRY, BITCHES!

Finally, the good part!

I love it when one whole day of a show is devoted only to everyone’s XC… it’s like the atmosphere changes and all the sudden everybody is PUMPED AF. It’s the main reason why we do all that other crap, after all. If you’ve never stood near the finish line of XC at an event, I highly recommend it.

getting ready for XC

My ride time wasn’t until noon, so I didn’t even have to set an alarm. I slept in ’til a glorious 6:30, got up and fed Henry, took him for a walk, cleaned his stall, and basically just sat around and watched other divisions all morning. I was wondering if he’d be feeling a little bit tired from the day before, but the answer was a resounding no. As soon as we picked up the canter in warmup he gave me a very sassy little headtoss. He knew exactly what phase was coming, and he was ready. He’d been ready since before dressage, let’s be honest.


We’ve been to MeadowCreek a bunch before, but for the entire last few years that we’ve been coming, the course hasn’t changed much. For this show they flipped it around completely – not only running the track backwards, but also moving pretty much every single fence. Almost nothing was the same from when we were here in June. I was mostly glad about that, because it would give us some new challenges, but also a little nervous wondering if it would throw Henry for a bit of a loop. Nothing looked particularly big or difficult to me except maybe the new Weldon’s Wall (where the old half coffin used to be). That’s mostly just because I hate Weldon’s Walls and think all of them should die in a big fire. Otherwise though, I thought it’d be good.

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spoiler alert: it was

Fence 1 was just a little rolltop

down to 2, a wide ramp. I wanted to get a little bit ahead of my time in the beginning and establish a good rhythm, so I let him open up a bit for the first few fences. The speed was 470mpm, pretty fast, and the second half of the course was a lot more twisty and technical. I wanted to have some time in hand before we got there, therefore more gallop at the beginning. You don’t have to tell Henry twice.

3 was just a little brush table

then around to 4, the chevrons.

He was already on fire at this point, SO HAPPY to be out. We had a little bit of a gallop stretch to 5, a table

Then I started putting him back together for the first real question – the combo at the mound. It was a rolltop, up and over the mound, with a skinny rolltop off to the left at the bottom. I thought this rode really well, and he locked right on to the skinny rolltop with no problem.

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Yeehaw, y’all. Game on. I think this is the point where I started smiling.

I let him keep rolling a bit to 7, the cabin in the fenceline

because after that is where I had to start putting him back together. After 7 we hung a sharp right and there was a random tiny little skinny log in the middle of the field at 8 (which I’m pretty sure he thought wasn’t on our course, I felt him going “are you sure that’s the right one? It’s so tiny!” right up until a few strides out)

before a big rebalance and sharp left to the water. He loves water. I love water. We’re on the same page. The log into the water has a bigger drop on the landing side than you realize, but that just makes it more fun AMIRIGHT??? He jumped in a little more bold than I was expecting, so the 5 strides rode a bit tight, but no problem.

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Out of the water there was another sharp left down to the next question on course – a drop bank to a rolltop. I didn’t anticipate any issue here, but obviously wanted to try to jump down the bank as calmly as possible so it didn’t ruin our distance to the rolltop. He obliged and it rode perfectly. Smile is even bigger by this point (in between the wheezing. God it was hot zipped up inside all my gear.).

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Then we wove around some trees to a little table set back in the shadows. I don’t like this thing in theory because it’s so dark but it always seems to ride fine. This time was no exception.

After that was the brand spankin’ new Trakehner. The ditch was big. At least I think it was big, I wouldn’t know for sure because I didn’t walk within 20′ of this thing on the course walk. It looked big from that far away so there was no need to get any closer. There are some things I just don’t need to know, ok? I gave him a little tap with the whip at the base, more for my benefit than his, but he just sailed right over. I think Henry was so high on cross country by this point that there could have been a family of grizzly bears in that ditch and he wouldn’t have noticed.

After that we crossed the bridge to the other field and had a bending line combo of brush fences. It took a couple whoas to convince him to come back for this, but it rode fantastic. No problem.

Thanks for the video Kate!

After that was the dreaded Weldon’s Wall, the only fence on course that had really caused me any concern. The ditch in front wasn’t wide, but I still hated it. I stuck my feet a little further in the stirrups, sat up, velcroed myself to the saddle, and looked up where Trainer told me to (for once in my effing life)… just in case he took a peek! But honestly, I don’t think Henry even noticed there was a ditch. He got right up to the base and we landed galloping away. Gold star for the pony.

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too bad you can’t see the ditch!
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Henny: “what ditch?”
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fastest roly poly in the west, y’all

I got so overexcited about not dying at the Weldon’s that I kinda forgot to rebalance for the next little rolltop and we took a bit of a flyer. Oops. Sorry Henny.

Right after the rolltop I heard my watch beeping for the 4 minute mark. I was like uh-oh… we’ve only got one more jump and the optimum time is 4:40. The twistier stuff at the end didn’t eat up as much time as I’d thought it might. So I brought him back down to a casual canter, loped across the bridge, over the itty bitty last fence (which I think he found insulting), and across the finish.

When we finished I had one of those “OMG did I forget a fence or something?”. It seemed like it went by so fast. I quickly took a mental stock of everything and was like no, we definitely jumped them all. I checked my watch and we were great on time, about 15 seconds under optimum for a double clear. Then it was a “HOLY SHIT THAT FELT EASY!”. It was the smoothest cross country round we’ve had in a long time… pretty much everything jumped right out of stride, I followed the plan, we were efficient with our track, and Henry felt absolutely brilliant answering every question with a resounding “I’d be delighted!”. It is such a joy to sit on that horse cross country. It makes all his dressage bullshit worthwhile.

Better yet he cooled out quickly, his legs felt good, and he had enough energy to come snorting and spinning off the trailer when we got home. He still wasn’t the least bit tired.

So now our first recognized Training is officially in the books, and it feels pretty great. Not gonna lie, I got a little teary-eyed on the drive home. Henry and I’s very first event was November 2014 at that same venue, a BN where we had a stop at the little baby down bank. I remember walking that course and saying I would never go Novice, everything just seemed so big and so impossible and so beyond us. Yet here we are now thinking Training seemed easy. Who would have ever thought? That horse is a fat little sassypants but he’s worth his weight in gold.

MCP Recap Part 2: Dressage and Stadium

So yesterday you got the backstory… today you get the consequences.

On Saturday I was up at 6 to feed Henry and continue my quest for finding the farrier. I was one of the first people up and about, and while I didn’t actually find the farrier, I did see that his son’s horse was now in his stall. That meant he had to be there somewhere. I decided to go ahead and braid Henry while we waited for daylight. Judging by all the ground-in poop in his stall, it looked like WildHenry had paced all night, and he was a royal PITA to braid. The idea of a nice pretty braid job went out the door by the time he whacked me in the face with his head for the fourth time, so he just got some big fat braids and I called it good.

didn’t murder him!

By 7 the farrier still hadn’t emerged and I started to get worried. I kept asking around, hoping someone had seen him or knew where he was. By 7:50, an hour before my ride time, I was on the verge of panic. Finally I stumbled across someone who told me where his RV spot was, and I marched over there like a crazy person and knocked on his door, basically begging him to come out and tack my horse’s shoe back on ASAP. He said he’d be out in a few minutes, so I threw my horse at one of the moms (I’m so sorry) to hold for him while I went to get dressed.

Finally we had the shoe back on, we threw some tack on him, tried to knock the dust off, and I swung aboard my wild mustang. And he was LIT. What I really needed was a 15 minute canter and a good 30 minutes of trotting and transitions and lateral work. What I got was 15 minutes of me trying to convince him that I could actually touch him with my leg without him bouncing up and down like a cracked out llama. His sassiness level can always be measured by his tail… the faster is spins, the less fun I’m having. That thing was spinning like a helicopter.

Me: look Henry, canter lengthening  Henry: I’M RUNNINGGGGGG

Awesome.

Even that early in the morning it was 80-something degrees and so humid we could both barely breathe. He was dripping, I had sweat streaming into my eyes, and I was sitting on a fire breathing dragon. All I could think was thank god we’re only here to survive, because that’s about all I could expect from this test. It was tense… REALLY tense. I had to ride very very carefully to prevent a blowup, and he seemed to think that the faster he moved his legs, the faster he would get to cross country. It wasn’t particularly attractive. Also I really really hate Training B with a burning passion. Canter lengthenings on a circle are really hard when your horse is built like a QH. Just saying.

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The only time he wasn’t mad, I think because he was pointed directly at cross country

I will say, to his credit, he was obedient. He didn’t want to be, and he was angry about it, but he did what I asked him to do. We got through it. That was the most important part. Of course, I forgot to pick up my test sheet (again) so I can’t tell you what the scores or comments were, but they aren’t hard to imagine. If you really want to watch it in it’s entirety, knock yourself out.

Mareglare + Sasstail = basic summary

The judge gave us a very generous 34.6. It’s a little frustrating because I know that a really good test is lurking just beneath the surface with this horse – he’s been AMAZING at home lately – but given the circumstances of the day, I’m just gonna tuck it away and move on. It could have been a lot worse, all things considered.

The best part of dressage is being done with it

Our stadium wasn’t until 3, so he got to have a bath and a graze and go back to his stall to chill for a while. Of course, by the time 3 rolled around it was hotter than the surface of the freaking sun. 95 degrees in September seems excessive.

I let him have a long walk around warmup so we could make sure the little hamster in his brain was actually on it’s wheel. He seemed almost TOO quiet, until I picked up my reins to start trotting, at which point he LEAPED into canter. Ok, so it’s gonna be like that then. Glad I decided to put the Dr Bristol on and not carry a whip. I just let him canter for a bit until I felt him start to actually relax. We jumped a few warmup fences and he felt great, so we just chilled and waited our turn. Y’all know how badly he deals with the heat. No point in pushing him.

The course was a lot of singles, with a really tight turn from 2 to 3 at the beginning. I was a bit disappointed that the jumps looked so SMALL… Henry is much more careful and much easier to ride when he’s a little impressed. Plain and small always equals trouble for us. I need someone to jack the jumps up and put alligators under them, please (for real, I’ll pay cash).

One of my biggest issues in stadium is my tendency to come out of the corner and start pickpickpicking my way to the base, which I knew would be exceptionally easy to do with this course if I let myself be lulled into that. Really I needed to keep the rhythm and use the turns to rebalance us, then allow him to come forward out of the turn. I was determined not to pick.

Which, turns out, even if I had pulled I don’t think anything would have happened, because Henry was still on fire. He actually felt good though, jumping really well through the first part of the course (jumping me out of the tack at fence 5), albeit a bit unbalanced in some of the turns. I really should have puts studs in to showjump on the grass, I had a really hard time keeping that inside hind under him. Lesson learned for next time. Grass should basically always equal studs for this horse.

We were a bit tight jumping out of the second double, a very plain dark brown oxer, and he rolled the rail there. Not a surprise. Then we came around and rolled the next rail too. I just didn’t do a good enough job of getting him balanced back through that turn, and he was too flat coming in. My bad. I do wish they’d left the liverpool under that one for Training, it would have really helped me out!

So while 8 faults looks ugly on paper, I wasn’t disappointed. It was the first T stadium we’ve done where I felt like I actually rode it according to plan, rather than just reacting to whatever happened along the way. Considering this was the first course we’d jumped since the June horse show, I was perfectly ok with it. We weren’t there to win, we were there to put in a decent effort that we can go home and build upon. I think we did that. The polish will come.

The best part of all? We were now done with all the hard stuff… all that was left was XC on Sunday!!!

MCP Recap Part 1: Ain’t no drama like Henny drama

The Hot Mess Express was running pretty much 24/7 last week. The last Henry update you got was last Wednesday, where I recapped his series of calamities that kept us from actually properly prepping for the show. As of last Wednesday he had pulled a shoe, garnering himself 2 days off, but the farrier came and put it back on. I went ahead and asked him to just redo him, since we were almost at 5 weeks anyway, but he didn’t have his drill press with him that day, so he just tacked the missing shoe back on and came out the next morning to do a complete reset.

That was Thursday.

Here’s a Grem in a bag to break up this sea of text

I get to the barn Thursday afternoon, ready to FINALLY fit a ride in. I went out and set up a few jumps in the field, since it had been, oh ya know, a month since we last jumped. I won’t even tell you how long it had been since we last jumped a course (coughtheJunehorsetrialcough). I set up our little warmup boxes, a 3’3″ vertical, and a 3’6″ oxer. We had a nice stretchy trot warmup, then went for a quick little canter, popped over the jumps a few times, and called it done. He actually felt super, especially considering how long it had been.

And then we went for a walk.

And then he tripped and did this.

But I still get cookies, yes?

Can’t even make this shit up, y’all. He had about 4 hours in these new shoes before he decided he was done with the four-shoe lifestyle. Hasn’t pulled a shoe in a year and now he’d managed two in a week.

I knew my farrier wasn’t going to be very happy with Henry, considering the guy had already been out two days in a row for my ridiculous horse. Turns out it didn’t really matter how he felt, because he had left my barn and gone to Houston to shoe horses for a couple days. No way he’d be back in time to tack Henry’s shoe back on (again). So Trainer confirmed that there would be a show farrier, and I just figured no big deal, I’ll get it tacked on tomorrow when we get to the show.

LOL.

On Friday I worked a half day, got to the barn around 11:30 to load all my crap, and we were on the road by noon. We made good time and rolled in before 2, I got a nice parking spot in the trees so that my tent was in the shade, got Henry’s stall all set up, checked in at the office, and proceeded trying to find the farrier. Someone told me that his son was showing, suggesting I check his stall and see if they were there yet. A little bit of creepy stalking later, I located the stall, but nope – not there yet. No big deal, I’ll just go hang out and wait.

made a new tent friend

I spent the next 6 hours checking that stall every 20 friggin minutes. By 7 it was obvious that I wasn’t going to get to ride that day, and I really didn’t even want to take Henry out and walk him around since he’s such a baby when he’s barefoot. Getting a bruise the day before dressage wouldn’t be good. We were not exactly off to the start I wanted for the show, not getting to ride him or even get him out of his stall. And with an 8:50 dressage time in the morning, I was starting to get nervous. Really nervous. What happens if the farrier doesn’t show up in time?

MAHM, I CAN SEE CROSS COUNTRY

I watched my horse looking more and more wild in his stall before I finally did the only thing I could do: go to bed.

This is all important back story before we actually get to the dressage recap. The drama continues tomorrow…

Ego 7 boots: First Impressions 

Ask and ye shall receive! A full review on these will have to wait a little while, but since several of you wanted to know, here are my first impressions.

I specifically wanted new brown boots for schooling, and wanted to stay under $400. Since Karen’s Ariat’s fell apart in a year, and the Mountain Horse don’t come tall enough unless you also have a slim calf, that nixed both of those. I liked my Mondoni’s a lot, but wanted something a little bit higher quality and darker brown this time around. When I saw that Ego 7 was coming out with chocolate brown, they immediately shot to the front of the line. I first saw Ego 7 a few years ago at AETA and quite liked them. Makes sense, since they’re designed by Franco Tucci, and I love my Tucci’s.

The first obvious difference between these and the Tucci’s is of course the price. The Tucci’s are closer to the 1k mark, whereas the Ego 7’s run more like $500 USD. Which, yes, if I had bought them in the US that would have put them out of my budget. But in Europe they run about 299 Euro, which is around $350 USD. Thus why one of my biggest missions for Europe was finding these boots. Granted, you don’t have to actually fly all the way to Europe just to buy them from Europe… there are plenty of online shops that will ship here and you’ll still come out ahead.

For the price I paid, I’m satisfied with the quality. Not blown away, but satisfied. They are not the fine Italian leather of the Tucci’s, but at the price that should be obvious. They still seem well made and I like the materials and design a lot. They have all the design features of the higher end boots: nice tall spanish top, close fit through the ankle, snaps at the top and at the bottom, a padded “tongue” inside the back of the ankle, and little tab at the top snap to thread the zipper pull through so that it doesn’t fall down. It’s not as innovative and awesome as the snap system on the Tucci’s, but it works. I also like the E-Tex material on the calf. It’s pretty grippy, and blends in perfectly to the pretty chocolate brown color of the leather. We’ll see how it wears over time. I do think that a more squared toe would really take them up a few notches in the style and class department.

I like the little spur rest design that these have, with 3 different “levels”. When I first saw that feature I was worried that it might end up kind of acting like a spur, but I think unless you really ride with a seriously clamped heel then that’s not going to happen. The little nubs are pretty small. I do ride with spurs most of the time, so this particular spur rest design definitely helps keep them in place with no sliding around.

Fit wise, I’m glad I was able to try them on first. The foot seems to run a bit big, IMO, and the calf runs SMALL. Like go up a size from whatever the size chart says you would be. Really I could have ended up in a bigger calf size than I did, but I was limited to what the store had with them, so I’ve made this work. It did require some stretching, and they’re still not quite there yet, but we’ve made a lot of progress. If anything, these first couple weeks has definitely been a testament to the hardiness of their zipper.

To me the instep seems to run a smidge high, I have some extra room there. The ankle is very well tapered though, which gives these a nice slimming look. I also was able to get the regular height, and they’ve dropped to be pretty perfect.

Overall I’m happy with them so far. For a schooling boot, or even a low budget show boot, I think they’re a good choice. I definitely like them more at the $350 I paid than the $500+ that I would have paid in the US.

Blog Hop: Equestrian Book Collection

Books are, without a doubt, one of my favorite things on the planet. E-books or real books, I’m not a snob either way, as long as it’s a book. I’ve talked about my intense love affair with Thriftbooks on this blog before, and it’s the biggest reason why I have so many equestrian books. Hard to resist loading up the cart when they’re like $3. I’ve seen enough bloggers posting book reviews to know that I’m definitely not the only one with a equestrian book collection, so let’s play I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours!

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Take One: Dammit Grem, get off the Wofford book!

For mine I’m gonna stick to all the non-fiction, because ain’t nobody got time for that otherwise. This isn’t everything (where the f did my Holsteiner Stamms, Sporthorse Conformation, 101 Gymnastics Exercises, Blessed are the Broodmares, GM, Geoff Teall on Riding Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation, and Frank Chapot’s conformation books go? Obviously I have another stash somewhere in the house…) but it’s a good chunk of the collection.

Take Two, much better

First are the miscellaneous group. Bloodlines, foals, young horse training, gymnastic exercises, and a grooming book. I love all of these books, but I would call World Class Grooming an essential for everyone who shows (so many pictures and instructions!), and Basic Training of the Young Horse an essential for anyone who rides babies. I mean, it’s a friggin’ KLIMKE book, essentially a bible for starting sporthorses under saddle… need I say more?

Then there’s the “I will have my own place someday” collection. It’s sad how long I’ve had most of those books, but never give up on the dream, right?

The dressage book collection is small, but it’s mostly de Kunffy. Pretty sure I’m missing one or two from this picture, even. I feel like he’s kinda the Gandhi of dressage, and I love his books almost as much as I love listening to him speak. There’s a lot of theory, and overall good horsemanship is the central theme. But of all the books in this picture, The Ethics and Passions of Dressage is the one I’d say is an absolute must have for any rider – dressage or not.

And last but not least, the largest chunk of my collection: eventing books. Several of these are old, published in the 80’s or 90’s, which makes the pictures really interesting. Eventing sure don’t look like it used to. They’re all interesting in their own way though, and I’ve gotten at least a little tidbit of knowledge from every one of them. Granted, I haven’t read much of Life in the Galloping Lane yet, because I have a little bit of a hard time with KOC. That aside, it still seems interesting… some day I’ll actually read the whole thing. My favorite of all these is probably the P Dutty book, there are lots of exercises and how-to’s with good pictures.

Let’s see your collections! Or you can just tell me your favorites… that works too…

**It’s possible that the writing of this post spurred another Thriftbooks hunt, which resulted in adding The de Nemethy Method and Breaking and Training Young Horses to the collection. Sorrynotsorry.

Henry’s Grand Conspiracy

This horse, y’all. He is in So. Much. Trouble.

TURDBRED

First of all, I swear he smiled awfully damn smugly when Hurricane Harvey turned toward Houston. It cancelled our grand plan of Henry going down and spending a week with Trainer while I was in Europe… something that would have been really helpful for everyone. But no, instead he spent several days before I left, and the entire time I was gone, standing in his stall getting fatter. Two weeks off total. Well played, Henry. I don’t know how you conjured a hurricane, but it sure did have your signature.

Then I got home from Europe, hacked him once, and showed up the next day to find his big ol’ “I ATE A BEE” elephantitis head. Again, he seemed awfully damn smug as I put all my tack away and wrote a check to the vet instead. Three more days off.

YOU’RE WELCOME FOR THE AWESOME NEW HEATED MASSAGER

On Monday the swelling was finally pretty much gone, so I tossed all my jump tack on and went out in the field. A 20 minute hack went off without a hitch, so I popped him over a few little jumps. A grand total of 5 fences in and he tripped and came up missing a shoe. And of course, farrier couldn’t make it out until sometime today, and let me tell you who cannot be ridden without a shoe because omg his footie. Two more days off.

I can’t even make this shit up. WTF horse.

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He doesn’t even have the decency to pretend he’s sorry

This would be much less annoying if we didn’t have a show this weekend. Our first recognized in over a year, and our first recognized Training. Henry appears to be doing his best to get to the show without having been properly ridden in 3 weeks. The good news is that I’ve given up in advance on actually doing well, and now the focus has shifted to just finishing in one piece. Nice dressage? HA. Clear stadium? LOL. Let’s just focus on not dying, how bout that?

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so everyone knows what times to start praying

 

Trainer is bringing a rosary and some holy water, so maybe it’ll be fine?

Epic European Adventure: By the Numbers

It’s officially the last post about our trip, so don’t worry, you’re at the end. There was A LOT that happened that I never did end up covering in the blog posts (mostly because the mobile version of WordPress SUCKS) so I figured I could hit some of the high points here.

Usandro

4: countries visited – France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany.

174: kilometers per hour, our top speed on a German highway in our rented Peugeot (which was basically just a hopped up lawnmower), or about 106mph according to Google. It was exhilarating in that super terrifying “omg is the Peugeot actually airborne right now?” kind of way.

2200: kilometers traveled by car, or a bit over 1,200 miles.

8600: miles traveled by air

1: how many times we got the middle finger amid all those miles. It was from a Frenchman that drove like a douche canoe, everyone act surprised.

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5: how many times we drove back and forth trying to find Emerald’s barn, since neither GPS knew whereTF it was and there was no sign or street number. You have to be an expert stalker to find that place (don’t worry, Michelle is, she whipped out the satellite view and started looking for arenas).

2: how many times we heard a very techno version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” playing over the loudspeakers at Bucha. There was a lot of techno. And not at all censored rap. Kind of confusing.

2000: how many cows some Russian guy tried to sell us at the wine bar after he learned we were from Texas (I’m not joking or exaggerating on this one). The best part was that he only spoke Russian and a little bit of German, and I only speak English and a little bit of German, so it included a lot of pantomiming. Use your imagination.

1: hours it took for me to find, try on, and purchase my coveted brown Ego7’s at the trade fair on day one of Bucha. Look people, I don’t mess around.

2: how many Canadians literally thought I worked for a particular vendor because I really liked some reins and they happened to walk up when I was explaining to Michelle why they were so great. This is not the first time this has happened to me.

20%: how much of the German that I actually understood from the Italian guy in line behind us at Aldi. He was undeterred by my vacant nodding and just kept chattering away.

3: schnitzels consumed during our 3.5 days in Germany. By me anyway. Michelle accounts for another 3, so I guess make it 6.

2: number of Kinder Bueno’s purchased and consumed on road trips

6: number of times we said we should have bought more Kinder Bueno’s

9,983,837: number of roundabouts we went through along our 2200km journey (ok maybe this number is perhaps just slightly dramatized)

4: how many stop signs we saw during the ENTIRE trip. I’m not kidding, those people love their roundabouts and yields.

7: times that people grimaced when we said we were from Texas, and also the number of times we had to explain how far Austin and Midland are from Houston, thus why Hurricane Harvey didn’t really effect either of us.

1: how many horses we saw at Bucha that could have literally walked right into the hunter derby ring and won. It finished last in the eventing, obviously it needs a new career. Takers?

6: how many days in a row that I ate french fries and it was a totally valid life choice, stop judging me.

2: how many of my gears are still grinding. One over how amazing (and so important) their pony jumper riders and classes are, and why we can’t replicate that system here. One over the almost saddlebred tendencies of a couple of the young dressage horses, and why in the world we’re rewarding that in dressage.

Horse is a Hot Mess

I’ve been back from Europe for almost a week now. The original plan for Henry was to go to Trainer’s while I was gone, but of course Hurricane Harvey ruined that idea. Instead he got basically two full weeks off, which he didn’t seem to mind. When I got back he kind of looked at me like “Oh, it’s you… got any cookies?”.

Henry seemed to do just fine with the down time, other than the fact that he’s a bit fatter (omg horse, stahp, I can’t feed you much less) and it seems he was quite itchy while I was gone. I dunno what it’s been about this summer, but he’s been Mr Walking Allergy since May. The only thing that’s been able to keep him from rubbing all his hair out is my magic spray, which ran out while I was gone. Thus, I came home to this:

AGGGGHHH.

His face looked almost as bad, it’s just not quite so noticeable since it’s more spotty.

The very first thing he got on Wednesday (after a nice hack) was a very thorough bath, after which I covered his body in every elixir I could find to make him stop itching until my new bottle of magic spray arrived.

Then on Saturday I pulled him out of his stall to find this:

WTF with the elephant head, Henry? I took his temp, checked his respiratory rate, etc. All totally normal. He was acting normal, had eaten breakfast just like normal. Nothing about his routine had changed. He has a bit of a history with random swelling (last summer it was the sheath) so my first thought was some kind of allergic reaction. I texted pics and his vitals to the vet, who said he didn’t think it was an emergency but he wanted to come examine him just to make sure there wasn’t something bad brewing. In the meantime Henry got a little bit of banamine, and we settled in to wait for the vet.

And by “settled in”, I mean someone got a makeover. Fall season officially starts this weekend so it was time to make him look less feral. We started with dying his tail, and then I body clipped him. Yeah, it’s early for a first clip, and not much hair came off, but every little bit seems to help keep his fat ass cool, so I’ve just given in to the fact that I’m going to end up clipping him every 2-3 months by default.

The vet showed up, examined him, checked all his vitals again (still pretty much the same as when I checked them), felt around the edema, and then took a long look in his mouth. He had some irritation to his soft palate, and a kind of suspicious looking little red spot. The vet stood there going hmmm, and then looked at me and said “Honestly, it looks just like a bee sting, but…. inside his mouth…”. Who knows for sure, but if any horse could manage to eat a bee, it’d probably be Henry. He got some dex, the vet left me with a couple more days worth, and said if it’s not better by then to let him know.

Sunday morning it wasn’t much different, size wise, but the edema was definitely softer. On Saturday the pitting had been like memory foam… if you pushed your thumb into it, it took a while to spring back. On Sunday there was no pitting if you pressed it.

I texted the updated pics (and vitals – all still normal) to the vet and got the okay to at least take him on a long walk under saddle to stretch his legs. Someone is going stir crazy. He spent half of our walk jigging sideways and snorting, so I’m going to guess he feels just fine despite the elephantitis throat.

Afterwards I gave him another dose of dex and decided to ice the area. May not help, but it can’t hurt, right? Henry was pissed.

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Two peas in a pod
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tell me how you really feel

It looked a bit better last night, so I’m hoping by this afternoon it’s made some significant progress. I’m sure Henry thinks this is a swell way (ha, pun) to prolong his vacation, but it’d be cool if I could actually get some real rides in. Details…

Epic European Adventure Part 7: Living Legends

It’s possible that I strongly considered just staying in Germany and becoming an illegal immigrant. I really felt at home there. The country is absolutely beautiful, the people were so welcoming, the food was awesome, and honestly there just wasn’t anything about it that I didn’t love. Despite the busy schedule, our time there was the most relaxing, most enjoyable, and most peaceful. I could have stayed for a lot longer in that little farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.

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Backroads and rainbows in rural Germany

Alas, by the time Monday morning rolled around, it was time to start making our way back to Brussels toward the airport. We weren’t quite done with Fabulous Horse Stuff In Germany yet though, because thanks to a few pulled strings we were able to get an appointment at Schockemohle to see their stallions. The name might not mean much to non breeding geeks, but you may have heard of a few of the stallions they have… Sandro Hit, Balou du Rouet, Kannan, Diarado… just to name a few. Some of the best, most successful stallions in the world for both dressage and showjumping.

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Michelle grabbing a coffee in the reception area at the barn entrance
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part of the stallion barn, featuring several treadmills

We got up early to make the drive north from Ostbevern to Muhlen, pulling into the stables around 9:15. One of the people in the breeding office (I wish I had taken more pictures of this farm, it was insane) took us around through the stallion barn, letting us get an up close and personal look at all of the stallions we were interested in. Yeah, I stood there patting Sandro freaking Hit on a run of the mill Monday morning. Surreal.

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What up, Sandro Hit?
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24 years old and still looking pretty good (albeit bored)

We made our way around and saw pretty much all the stallions that were at the farm at the time. Our main objective for the visit was to see Diarado (Michelle has 2 mares in foal to him) and Balou, both of whom were there. It’s funny… Diarado and Sandro Hit are probably two of the best producers in the world, but they’re also some of the most unassuming looking stallions we saw the whole time. Sandro Hit is very refined, to the point where he looks like a thoroughbred. There’s nothing about him outwardly that would indicate what a renowned sire he’s been, and his temperament is a bit “special”.

Diarado is absolutely beautiful, really one of the most perfectly put together horses I’ve seen, but smaller and more compact and more refined, not the big stereotypical “look at me” warmblood stallion presence that you often see. He almost had a bit of a pony-esque look to him.

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Foodz for Diarado?
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I don’t think this lady has foodz, only craziez…

He seemed pretty bored with us in general. His son Diatendro was in the stall next to him and I swear was a least a hand bigger and a lot wider. Goes to show that you can’t always judge a book (or a stallion) by it’s cover, because of all of the horses we saw go at Bucha all week, the Diarado offspring stood out to me head and shoulders above the rest. They varied a bit in size and type (although none were as small as he is) but they were all beautiful and they could all JUMP and they all seemed very sensible and rideable. He’s a fantastic and very consistent producer. I liked Diarado before, but I came home as a Diarado SUPERFAN.

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Casallco wanted just a little nibble
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Balou du Rouet – didn’t like him as much as I was expecting

After we were done meeting everyone at Schockemohle we were back in the car en route to Belgium. But instead of heading straight to Brussels to tuck into the hotel for our last night, we made a small detour by Euro Horse. What is Euro Horse? Oh ya know, just the home of Olympic stallion Emerald.

You guys know Presto’s BFF Liam, sired by Emerald, because you’ve seen him so much on this blog. Michelle is a huge Emerald fangirl (and rightfully so, really, the horse is incredible) and I thought for sure she might hyperventilate before we got there. His owners were SO incredibly nice and welcoming, and had one of the grooms pull Emerald out of his stall for us so we could give him some scratches and get a closer look at him.

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Michelle falling hopelessly in love
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Emerald strongly considering a wee love bite

If you want a horse with presence, Emerald has it in spades. He knows he’s handsome, and he knows he’s special. He’s big, he’s eyecatching, he walks with a swagger, and is just so captivating to look at. He’s also very cheeky, oozing character, and always waiting for the opportune moment to try to sneak in a little “love bite”. He stood outside behind the barn while we took pictures and talked about him, clearly enjoying being the center of attention. That is a pretty special horse right there. It’s also incredible just how similar he and Liam are.

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Funnily enough, Emerald and Diarado are by the same sire, yet just about as polar opposite in type as two horses can be. Mare lines shining through, y’all.

After I peeled Michelle off of Emerald, we got back in the car and headed to Brussels. Even thought the horse part of our trip was now over, we still had one more night to be tourists, and we were gonna do it up proper. Our hotel room was literally IN the Grand Place, with our window opening out into it. You really can’t beat an iconic view like that. Once we’d gotten settled in and did some social media updates (thank you, glorious wifi) we went down the street to a restaurant to do some people watching while we had some drinks, frites, and a sausage and cheese plate. People-watching at the Grand Place is pretty great. Never seen so many selfies happening all at once in my life.

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The view from our window

Once we were properly fed we wandered around the area a bit, taking in some sights and hitting up some of the super touristy yet still really amazing shops. Mostly chocolate ones, because when in Brussels. We grabbed a waffle with nutella to eat as we strolled, bought some souvenirs, and then finally called it a night. Unfortunately we had to be up early to get to the airport.

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It was a quick trip, yet we managed to cram a whole lot of stuff in. We met so many great people, saw an endless supply of fantastic horses, got some serious education, and even had the opportunity to pat a few living legends. Not bad for a week. Yet even though we did so much, it feels like there was still a whole lot left to do and see. Until we meet again, Europe. ❤