Last week on Instagram I asked if there was anything in particular that people wanted me to write a blog post about. I got a couple of good suggestions, including one saying that I should do a Q & A post, and open it up to questions. I thought that was a pretty good idea, seeing as how we as bloggers just kind of put stuff out there as we please, but maybe unwittingly leave out details or forget to circle back around to things. I had some trepidation about what kind of questions I might get (you never know), but all in all they were quite good. So here’s the first round of Q & A, and I’m more than happy to do this again sometime if there’s interest!
When do you think you might start backing Presto? Do you plan on doing it yourself?
The plan right now (I’m fluid, depending on how he’s looking/feeling) is to sit on him a bit this fall and just do some very basic “walk, steer, go, stop” type of stuff in the arena to let him start to get used to the weight of a rider and the idea of working for a living. Nothing strenuous, just a reaaaally basic intro into riding, probably less than 10 rides. Originally I was planning on letting someone else do this part, but he’s been so easy and we’ve already done so much groundwork leading up to it, I’ll probably just do it myself. I’ve started a handful of horses before and I think he’s going to be quite simple, so that’s the plan unless something changes. After that he’ll be left alone again until next spring, where he’ll expand on those original concepts a little bit more in the arena, then spend his summer hacking/trail riding out over terrain a few times a week to gain strength and confidence and figure out his balance. Once he’s coming 4 he’ll start more real work, but I want to spend a lot of time getting the basics installed and making sure that his body (especially his back) is strong enough by the time the real work starts.
Would you train up another OTTB?
If I had more money I would have a barn full of them. OTTB’s will always be my first love, they’re what I know best and what I’ve spent most of my life riding. You can’t beat a good thoroughbred, and it’s so rewarding to see them blossom in a new career.
Which event horses would you want to ride?
Ballynoe Castle RM aka Reggie has been my favorite for a long time, and even though he’s been retired for a couple years no other horse has taken his place yet. He always seemed so kind and genuine, and like I could maybe ride him without dying. I feel like I wouldn’t be able to ride most of the upper level horses, but he’s an exception. Fun fact: he’s by the stallion Ramiro B, who Peyton was just bred to last week! My other sentimental favorite is La Biosthetique Sam, but I feel like the best part of that horse was watching the relationship he had with Michael Jung.
What do you think is the most important thing to remember when working with young horses? I’m not a professional so I admittedly get really uncomfortable answering stuff like this, where it feels like advice. I can only speak for what I feel, not what is necessarily correct or “right”. For me personally, the most important thing that I always try to keep in mind is that I always want to set them up for success. That means being thoughtful with your choices, being flexible, preparing them well, and working with whatever horse you have that day. I want the horse to be encouraged and confident at the end of a ride, and I feel like it’s up to me as the rider to make sure they’re prepared for what I’m asking them to do (physically and mentally), that I read their mood properly in the moment, and alter my plan as needed.
Favorite conditioning exercise for event horses? Definitely long slow distance (long walks and long trots) and hillwork. I think the less pounding you can do, the better, so I only gallop as much as is necessary and try build the fitness/strength in ways that are a little easier on the body. Especially important when your mount is an OTTB with crooked legs.
How is the Neue Schule bit working out?
Still fabulous since the last update! No bit is a magical tool that automatically turns a horse into the dressage winner, but I do think that finding the right bit for your horse (whatever that may be) is really important. It makes such a difference when they’re really comfortable with what’s in their mouth, especially if you have a more sensitive or tense horse. For me it’s really been the key to unlocking that “next level” with Henry’s flatwork, where he’s more confident in the connection and I can start to ask for more quality and more difficulty.
How do you balance work, 2 horses, a SO, pets, blogging, and sleep?
This is always tough, because everyone’s life looks a bit different. I definitely prioritize the riding and sacrifice the home/social life a bit, while others do the opposite. The thing that helps me the most is having an early work schedule. Also I’m a morning person. I’m at my desk at 6:30am and leave by 3:30pm. My barn is a relatively easy commute (aside from that whole toll road a$pect) so I’m usually there by 4pm at the very latest. That commute is one of the biggest draws to that barn for me, and why I’ve made sacrifices in other areas with regards to the facility. A long commute is just wasted time for me, and time is at a premium.
I’m usually leaving the barn by 6:30pm (sometimes earlier if Henry had a light day and/or I don’t do anything with Presto), home before 7, then I make dinner and chill with the SO and furkids for a while. I go to bed at like 8:30-9 (because I am an old lady) and usually read until 9:30-10, then I’m up at 5-5:30 to start all over again. I try to draft most of my blog posts on the weekend or when I have some free time here or there… it’s time consuming but it also pays for my horse shows, so it’s become a priority for me. It’s true that between riding, showing, and my side gigs, I’m gone way more weekends than I’m home. That’s something the SO has just had to get used to, because it’s a non-negotiable part of who I am. Luckily he has his own hobbies and is pretty independent. If I’m doing other non-horse things they definitely have to be scheduled in advance, so I can work around them. In the summer I swap things around and ride in the morning, since it’s way too hot in the afternoon, in which case I’m at the barn by 6am and get to work around 8:30 (luckily we have showers at work, which helps gets me to my desk sooner since I don’t have to go home). With that schedule I have a little bit less barn time and a little bit more home time, which works out in the summer anyway.
What would your dream tack setup be?
I’m pretty lucky to have amassed some really great equipment by now. OF COURSE I will always lust after the cool looking new bridle du jour (I love them. They’re pretty. I want them all.) and a newer saddle or something custom or blah blah blah. But the truth is that I’m pretty well set up already with my Devoucoux saddles, Lund bridle and strapgoods, PS of Sweden bridle, and Eponia bridle. I’ve had a long and very satisfying love affair with Majyk Equipe boots, too, and all of the things I have now have worked really well for my horses and stood the test of time. It’s taken me a long time to build up my gear to this point, and do it on my budget, and I’ve busted my butt to get the quality of stuff that I have. The things that I may dream about will vary from day to day, but the things that I have are what is proven to work, and if my horses are happy then I’m happy too. But, ya know… if you want to put some navy piping on it, I won’t argue.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Somewhere on the East Coast, pretty much anywhere between Ocala and Leesburg, with a preference for the eventing-centric areas. The ground is better, the grass is better, and there are more opportunities. I can’t even IMAGINE living in a place where I could drive half an hour in any direction and have 5 different XC schooling venues, or 10 different top level trainers, or 5 different shows. That is just not my reality at all. Everything here is far, which makes everything here more expensive and more logistically difficult. Not that I’m not excited to drive 4 hours each way to XC school this weekend, but ya know. I think of how much more I could get done living in a place like that, how many more opportunities I could make for myself, how much further I could stretch my dollars, and the temptation to uproot my entire life is real.
If you have more questions feel free to drop them in the comments, or shoot me a message/email!