Note to self: must not use the words “T!ny” and “H0me” in a post together, much less a post title. I get 9 bajillion hits every time, most of which are people who typically never read this blog and found their way here because of those keywords and want to ask me a bunch of questions via my contact page email (it BLEW UP) that google could easily answer. I’m not into it. At all. Henceforth those posts shall be titled “THT” and the house will just be referred to as like… or “the mini abode” or “the diminutive dwelling” or “the petite palace” or… I don’t know. Anything. Anything but those two words. I can’t keep using the T word with the H word, I don’t need that kind of headache.
So, um, as you can probably tell, I’m wound a little tight right now with the house stuff. I have A LOT to get done in the next two weeks and I’m majorly stressing. I didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to this post today because I have a million other things to do, so my apologies. BUT I did want to take a second to show y’all a really cool Instagram giveaway that I’m cohosting, in case you haven’t seen it yet. I had a vague idea of putting together something to encourage/reward our fellow equestrians for voting, and luckily was able to find two equally enthusiastic cohosts that helped develop the idea and get it off the ground. We were lucky to find a bunch of amazing brands that were equally enthusiastic about the cause to throw in toward the prize pack, too! First, the prizes:
It’s easy to enter too, you just have to 1) follow all the hosts/brands (you should follow them anyway, they’re great people and super generous), 2) tag a couple people in the comments, 3) post a photo to your Instagram feed with #equestriansvote. Easy peasy.
Here are the guidelines for the photos:
-Take a pic with your “I voted” sticker
-Take a pic dropping your sealed ballot in the mail (NOT of the ballot itself – sealed and with any sensitive/personal information covered)
-If you’re too young to vote or voted super early & didn’t take a pic, write “I will vote for (or voted for) ______” on a sign & fill in an ISSUE you’re passionate about (i.e. education, women’s rights, etc), NOT a candidate. We want to know what motivates you the most! Take a pic with the sign.
You can involve a horse in your photo or not, it’s up to you. Have fun with it! In addition to the main winner, we will also have two additional winners that get a monogrammed Majyk Equipe fly mask.
See this post for full entries rules/details. It’s open through voting day, but I know many people are voting early, so go ahead and get your photos in!
If you have any questions feel free to DM me. I’d love to see a reader win this contest!
I feel like I’ve spent Presto’s entire life obsessing over his condition. He’s been a scrawny, rangey, skeletor-type kid since the word go, and I kind of feel like we’ve always been playing catch-up, in a way. I don’t know if it’s all his thoroughbred, the fact that he’s been pretty fast-growing, or if this is just him, or if there’s some kind of lingering effect of all his digestive-system-related problems early on in life, but keeping condition on this horse has always been a challenge. Over the years I’ve run just about every test on him that you can imagine, never quite satisfied. He’s never looked BAD, but he’s just never looked truly GREAT either. I have an actual spreadsheet where I’ve logged and broken down all of his feed and nutrition information over the years, trying to find just the right formula.
To be fair, it does seem to come and go a bit with his growth spurts. He always thins out when he’s growing, and because he is such a blooded horse, he doesn’t naturally have very much in the way of natural muscle bulk. I’ve always hoped that this would improve with age, and it definitely has, especially since I started riding him lightly.
I also don’t believe in throwing a ton of concentrated feed at a horse, especially a warmblood baby. That’s just asking for issues. And when he was boarded, while he did have access to grass and hay, it wasn’t nearly as much as I would have ideally wanted. I did what I could, buying him premium feeds and extra fats and extra hay and making sure everything was balanced, but y’all know how it is when you board – there’s only so much you can control.
Now that Presto is “at home” I’ve had a lot more leeway with what I can feed him, and he has 24/7 access to grass and/or good quality hay. I also switched both of my horses over to a top of the line feed, and added flaxseed oil to Presto’s. It definitely helped some – Henry’s grain amount has been cut in half, and Presto has held his weight better. Still though… never quiiiiiiite the kind of condition that makes you feel really pleased. You know what I mean.
I’ve never been much of a supplements person, I always start at the roughage and then add a super high quality (and low NSC, high fat) feed, and I strongly believe those two things are by far the most important basis for a horse’s diet. I have a bit of a grumpy grumbly old man response when it comes to supplements, a distrust that runs deep enough to where you might hear me mumble something that sounds a lot like “snakeoil salesmen” and “show me the non-biased research”. Henry and Presto both have been on various powders and potions over the years, me trying things out here and there, but none of them have made any real noticeable difference. The barn owner is a long-time user and big fan of the Platinum Performance line, which admittedly I have always heard really good things about and her horses definitely look great, but with boarding two horses that supplement line has also always felt a bit hard to swallow budget-wise. They aren’t cheap.
There have always been a couple little niggly things with each horse that have continued to bother me a little though. Henry’s a walking Mr. Sensitive. Like if you look at him wrong his hair will fall out, or he’ll break out in hives, or his butt will start flaking off, or he’ll have an allergic reaction to like… dirt or whatever. Tres sensitive. And with Presto, it’s always been just that little lack of truly great condition. Not-quite-shiny. Not-quite-thriving. You guys know what I mean, when a horse seems 95% of the way to “great” but you just can’t seem to bridge that final gap.
The BO and I got to talking about supplements one day when she had let one of her mares’ supplements lapse and noticed a difference really quickly. The more we talked the more I was kinda like… ya know what… I’m in a place right now where I can afford to drop a little bit of money on one of the few things left that I haven’t tried – let’s just see what happens. I mean, worst case scenario I was out a couple hundred bucks right? WHAT THE HELL ELSE IS NEW WITH HORSES.
It’s been about a month now and honestly? They both look great. Presto especially. He’s on Platinum Performance Equine and Platinum Balance, and Henry is on Platinum CJ. I haven’t noticed quite as much difference in Henry yet… I do think his skin and coat look nicer/shinier, but granted there was not as much room for improvement with Henry, he already looked pretty good. Presto though… wow. Despite already having a good start to his winter hair, his coat is looking the best it ever has. He is SHINY, the hair itself feels different, and he’s rounding out a bit. Not in a fat kind of way, but in a topline kind of way. My skeptical side wants to pipe up and say that he’s rounding out because we’re heading into the time of year where his growth rate slows down, and he’s getting older, but even if both of those things are entirely responsible for the change, he’s still shiny AF. I can’t even tell you the last time I gave this horse a soap bath, nor have I touched him with a shine spray. Shit, he only gets groomed once or twice a week. He’s about as filthy and au natural as you can get right now. I was watching him yesterday though, while the crew was there to level the house, and I was like DAMN. Who dat horse???
Kind of can’t wait to see what he looks like after I bathe and clip him.
The Platinum supplements have earned themselves an extension for sure. I’m not quite 100% sold on it for Henry yet but the difference in Presto over the past couple weeks has been pretty undeniable. I’m finally feeling pretty pleased with his condition. I don’t know if it’s the Equine or the Balance or the combination of both. I don’t know if it’s the extra vitamins or extra fats (he was already getting a lot of both between his feed and flax oil) or if the digestive assistance is helping his body utilize the rest of his diet better. Maybe a combo of everything. Either way, I’m not going to question it. If this is what it takes to give him that last little bump towards THRIVING, count me in. Bye money.
Surprises abound last week. First, the Turdblaster (or Incinolet if you want to be proper. I don’t.) arrived on Thursday. When I ordered it at the end of September they were quoting a 6-7 week lead time, so I hadn’t planned on seeing this thing for a while yet. It was quite a surprise to get a shipping notification for an 80 pound package from a company I’d never heard of until I googled it and found that it was the parent company of Incinolet. It only took 4 weeks, yay! I had it delivered to the property since I thought it would be coming after I was already moved out there, but since it made it before the house did, it just got stuck in a storage barn to wait.
And it didn’t have to wait long, because the house was delivered the next day. This was a complete surprise to us… when they completed the build they were supposed to contact us to set up a delivery time. I don’t know what got miscommunicated or who forgot to do what, but the only notice we got of delivery was the driver calling my SO when he was about an hour away from the farm with the house. I sort of panicked, mostly because I don’t like surprises. I’m a big fan of itineraries, as anyone who’s traveled with me would definitely know. Honestly though it kind of worked out perfectly – I was already at the barn, both of the barn owners were home and available, the spot was ready… let’s do this.
It was definitely disorganized-feeling though, with the lack of communication. I didn’t know that there was a separate set-up crew that comes in later to level and block it and finish everything out. Basically the driver parked it, handed me an envelope with all the keys and paperwork, had me sign for it, and off he went. I was like, uh… what now? A phone call would have been great just so I knew what to expect. I did find out yesterday that the set-up crew is coming today, and they texted me last night with an estimated arrival time, so it’s fine, but Friday it was all very confusing. All’s well that ends well I guess (says the twitching INTJ).
Even though it’s not set and blocked, it’s plenty stable enough on it’s trailer to get in and poke around. Which of course is the first thing I did. Having thought about all the options we picked, changed our minds, second-guessed, changed our minds again… I had to see how everything actually turned out. That eye for design that my mom had, and many women seem to have, did not get passed on to me. I have a really hard time envisioning things in my head and how they’ll actually look/go together when it’s done. Putting a bunch of samples together on a table is nice but it really doesn’t help me picture how it’ll look in real life at all. I need a configurator tool for everything (thank you Mattes for understanding this).
Anyway, I was kind of nervous opening the door.
But… I really love it. I don’t think it looks TOO gray, partially thanks to that black backsplash that I impluse-switched to and then second guessed a hundred times. I think everything works well together without looking too much like all one color. I love the touch of black, and the stainless appliances. My totally bitchin’ deep stainless farm sink with fancy faucet was 100% worth the splurge, too. I’m definitely glad we opted for the upgraded painted cabinets instead of the wood grain, it looks a lot cleaner to me. All the windows we added make the inside look pretty bright and airy, too, even when it was overcast and had no lights turned on.
But you want to know the best part about the living room/kitchen area? Turn around and take a look out my living room windows.
Um yes. Best view.
The bathroom is pretty standard, I think the only real upgrade we got in there was the rain shower head and the tile shower vs tub. Of course we have to remove the regular toilet and install the Incinolet, so that will look a bit different once we do that. The bedroom is literally that – a bed room. We have a California king so it will pretty much fill that whole room minus the walkway space toward the closet/back door. It’s nice to have a small walk-in closet though, something pretty unheard of in a house this small. I don’t have a ton of clothes left after my big purge so I won’t have any problem fitting my stuff into half of it. The loft space is really nice too, it’ll be perfect for storage and the cats’ litter robot, plus I have an awesome reading nook on the far side that I plan to make into a cozy little space.
The real icing on the cake, the shining feature of this house, is the back porch. It’s where we spent the most money in upgrades, not just adding the porch in the first place but also making it big and fully screened, with a fan and a tv jack. It’s basically like having a second living room, and it’s REALLY nice. I can’t freakin wait to sit out there on a cold morning with a blanket and some hot chocolate, looking out at the horses. I foresee myself spending a lot of time out there.
I’m also pleased with the exterior colors and how they came together. Since we couldn’t agree on any roof color except galvalume, we picked a deeper gray exterior color to contrast. I think it looks good, and should help keep the house cooler. I also really like the black front door and can’t wait to get the horse door knocker on it that I got for my birthday last year. It’s the little things.
Once they come and finish the set-up today, there is a lot that has to happen in the next couple weeks. It kinda feels like we’ve been waitingwaitingwaiting and now bam – we’re off and running. The barn owners leave for Florida on the 7th, so basically we’ve got a couple weeks for it to be livable and have me and the dogs moved in. I already started buying a few things, measuring for a bunch of other things, and have appointments/quotes out for yet more things, but I’ll update on all that next week. For now – welcome to the farm, little house!
Does anyone else ever find themselves wondering just how annoying your horses think you are, or is it just me?
Not that I really have to wonder that much, considering both of my boys have expressive faces. I’m relatively certain that Henry is 9 out of 10 annoyed with me on pretty much a daily basis, he’s had almost 7 years to become permanently pre-donewithmyshit. The only thing keeping me from a 10 out of 10 is my steady supply of Oatmeal Cream Pies (“A cream pie a day keeps the grumpies at bay!” is something I like to tell Henry every time I give him one, so it’s really no wonder I’m always sitting at a 9). Presto isn’t nearly as donewithmyshit yet, but he does run out of patience for some of my schemes. Especially if they require him to stand still for any length of time. He’s not into that.
Like yesterday, when I had to dress him up to get a picture for an Insta giveaway (going live this morning!) that I’m one of the hosts for. He didn’t mind the sticker, or me setting up the Pivo and tripod, or the hat (I mean this kid has been wearing hats since he was a year old, he’s pro by now), or the fact that I had stuffed the hat with those air packets they put in boxes as packing material in order to get it to stand up and the plastic made a horrible crinkly screeching noise right next to his ears. All of that was fine. The whole “be still” thing though? DUMB. ANNOYING. HATE IT. MOM SUCKS. Five minutes and he was mega-annoyed with me. I wouldn’t even let him knock the Pivo over with his nose. I’m a tyrant.
We also experimented with a (loose) drop noseband this weekend, which I quite like so far but he thinks is real dumb. Makes it much harder for him to gape his mouth, cross his jaw, and try to yank the reins out of my hands (his version of a tantrum) and we have differing opinions on whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Presto is easy to appease when he’s annoyed though…. you just give him something to put in his mouth and all sins have been forgotten.
I mean, Presto and Henry both still come up to me in the pasture to be caught, and Presto still DEMANDS my attention at least twice a week. He’ll stand at the corner of his pasture staring at me in the barn, alternating between knocking on the fence with his foot or resting his foot on the bottom board. This is both a cute and terrible habit. I’ve hollered “GET YOUR FEET OFF THE FENCE” more times than any one person should. But still… he can’t find me that annoying if he wants my attention that badly.
I think Presto’s still got the innocence and optimism of youth working in his favor. Henry, however, does not, and I managed to annoy the crap out of him yesterday too. How, you ask? Body clipping. He’s very well-behaved for it (as long as you don’t do his ears or his legs, we came to that agreement years ago) but he hates it. First of all, he hates baths. I rode him, bathed him, and then turned him back out in his pasture to dry while I got Presto out. Henry’s pasture is really grassy so I didn’t think he’d be able to get very dirty again even if he rolled, but I was wrong. Super wrong. I don’t even know where he found that much dirt but he was dirtier when I went to go get him than he’d been before his bath. It was very thorough too, he coated both sides and really ground it into the top of his butt. I’m 100% convinced he did it on purpose, because he’s petty like that when he’s been annoyed.
I was done in less than an hour and considering it was almost 90 degrees he sure seemed to feel better when I turned him back out, so really it can’t have been that bad. He didn’t make a beeline for the shade like he usually does, so clearly body clipping helped. Still, he was very annoyed with me and wanted to make sure I knew it, giving me one last whack in the face with his tail as he marched away. He’s never shy about letting you know when you’ve erred against him.
And that’s how, by the time I finished with the horses yesterday, I’d managed to thoroughly annoy the shit out of both of them. The true mark of a good day at the barn.
If you missed the beginning of our little Glamour Shots mini-series, don’t forget to go back and check out Remi’s from last week. This week we’re moving on to the next 2020 foal, Oakley (she’s a sportpony cross in case anyone has forgotten by now – Usandro Tilia Derlenn‘s first foal born in the USA)! She too got all braided and fancied up for her pictures, and it’s as if she knew, because she really rose to the occasion and showed off for Belinda, the photographer. As with Remi’s photos, I think Oakley’s personality really shines through.
She knows she’s beautiful, first of all, and she isn’t afraid to make sure you know.
At times it was almost as if she played intentionally to the camera.
Wait… pause for butt scratches please.
Ok let’s continue.
Of course, she’s also a big fan of zoomies. Maybe not quite as much as Ollie, and maybe not quite as often as when she was a wee foal, but she still does her fair share for sure.
It’s a trait that she shares with her dam, Daisy, who is the biggest Zoomies fan of all the broodmares and also didn’t hesitate to show off for the camera.
Most of all though, Oakley really wants you guys to know: always remember to bring snacks.
I’m not gonna lie, y’all, I get more excited about Mondial du Lion (aka the 6 and 7yo eventing world championships) than I do pretty much any other event all year, 5*’s included. There’s just something really fun about seeing the top up-and-comers in the sport, many of which we’re also seeing on the world stage for the very first time, and trying to pick out which ones will be the next big superstars. Because have no doubt, the next big superstars are definitely here among the field somewhere.
I thought about holding off on this post until after MdL was over, to include scoring statistics and results stats, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from analyzing all this data by now, it’s that it really doesn’t matter where a horse finishes at MdL, it matters that they participated. Particularly in the 7yo class, which has been the springboard for a massive number of top horses. Remember WEG 2018, when more than 1/3 of the field had competed at MdL earlier in their career? Some of them had finished at the top, some of them had barely completed, but what mattered most is that they had been. So you can keep up with the live stream and the results (oh and also DEFINITELY go take a look at the jumps, they have the prettiest courses in the world, hands down – fight me) on your own… let’s take a deep dive into the horses themselves.
Starting with the 6yo (2*) horses, there’s definitely a wide variety. Most are jumper-bred with blood, per usual in event horse breeding, but there are also several dressage-bred horses in attendance – not super unusual at this lower FEI level, but it will be interesting to see if any of them return at 7 to contest the 3*. Jazz is represented by 3 horses – two as grandsire, one as great grandsire – and dressage stallions Ampere, Follow Me, and River Dance each have an offspring in the field as well. The blood percentage of the dressage-bred horses are all between 30-40%, definitely lower than the overall field average of 50%.
While those horses are relatively anomalistic for what we’re used to seeing in upper level eventing, the rest of the field is stacked with familiar names. There are two direct offspring of OBOS Quality 004, Contender is the grandsire of 2 (plus the great-grandsire of another via his son Contendro), Rosalier xx is the damsire of two, and Sir Shostakovich xx appears on the dam side of two. There are other very familiar thoroughbred names with representation, including Imperius xx, Noble Roi xx, Mytens xx, and Hand in Glove xx. There are no full thoroughbreds in the field, not particularly unusual for Europe, but 4 horses have one full TB parent – all of them being the dam. 82% of the horses in the field have Holsteiner (largely C line to Capitol or Cor de la Bryere) or Selle Francais (largely to Quidam de Revel or Galoubet) within the first two generations.
Some of these 6yo’s also come from very successful and well-producing mares. Ollie Townend’s mount Cooley Rosalent has a full sibling competing at 4*. Dia van het Lichterveld Z is out of a mare who competed through 4* level herself with Karin Donckers. The dam of MHS Brown Jack is also the dam of 5* horse MHS King Joules (by TB stallion Ghareeb xx) and a 1.60m showjumper. Keenabout Wonderland’s dam has produced two other FEI-level event horses and three 1.50-1.60m showjumpers. Ballygriffin Chacoa Power’s dam has two other FEI-level eventing offspring, one at 3* and one at 4*.
The 7yo class is where things really start to get interesting. These horses have more FEI starts under their girths, and 3* is where we begin to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to top level talent. There is only one fully dressage-bred horse in this field (Quasary du Hans, by a Quaterback stallion out of a Rotspon mare), although dressage lines still show up here and there in a few pedigrees. Sir Donnerhall has one offspring (she’s interesting for another reason, we’ll circle back around to her in a minute), Sandro Hit can be found in the grandsire spot in two horses, and Fuerst Nymphenburg is the damsire of another. Again though, jumper lines are the overwhelming majority. This field does have a slightly higher blood average at 52%, although still no full blood participants. Four horses do have a full TB parent – 3 as the dam, 1 as the sire.
Vigo d’Arsouilles is the sire of two horses in the field, from full blood or high blood % mares, which caught my eye because this isn’t the first time in recent years that we’ve seen successful event horses from a Vigo x blood cross. There’s also been Fletcha van’t Verahof (5*/WEG), Leipheimer van’t verahof (4*), Extebaria van’t Verahof (4*), Lamicell Unique (4*), and Ruben de la Pomme (4*). Vigo’s sire Nebab de Reve is the grandsire of one other horse in the field as well.
Diarado is the only other stallion with two direct offspring in the field, although several stallions have multiple representations within the first four generations, including Contender, Lux Z, Carthago, Quick Star, Indoctro, Casall, Corrado, and Amethist. OBOS Quality 004, who has 2 offspring in the 2*, has one more in the 3* as well. While there is a lot of blood in this field – and 7 horses have a full TB damsire – only one TB stallion is seen more than once in the first 4 generations: Exorbitant xx. Again we see some familiar TB names though, like Count Ivor xx, Master Imp xx, and Esteban xx. There are also 3 horses in the field with full French Anglo-Arab sires.
Things really start to heat up (for me the mega-nerd, anyway) when you take a closer look at these horses’ dams. Hooney d’Arville (one of the Vigo offspring) is a homebred of rider Lara de Liedekerke, who competed the dam at WEG 2010. Hush A Bye Baby’s dam has also produced 4* horses Balham Mist (by Mill Law) and Colorado Blue (by Jaguar Mail). Kilandra Capitol is out of the same mare that also produced 5* horse Harbour Pilot C, who represented China at the 2014 WEG. Don’t Worry de Lameth’s dam competed through Prix St Georges level dressage herself. Global DHI’s dam and Irene Leva’s dam, ironically both by Amethist, each produced a large number of offspring – a whopping 17 and 18 respectively (and none were via ET), mostly jumpers through 1.50m level. Spring Thyme de la Rose, by dressage stallion Sir Donnerhall (see I told you we’d circle back around eventually), is out of Lucinda Fredericks’ 5* mare Prada. Prada also has two 2016 ET foals by Mighty Magic that I’m now stalking, thanks to this particular rabbit hole.
The TL;DR version? These two fields are super interesting. You’ve got a wide variety of blood, from 28% to 87%. You’ve got a little dressage breeding. You’ve got lots and lots of jumper breeding. You’ve got a multitude of sires that were successful to 1.60m showjumping, 5* eventing, and Grand Prix dressage. You’ve got mares that showjumped, evented to the top levels, or did dressage themselves, or have produced multiple top level offspring. Which horses will come out on top? Who will we see running at the 5* level in a few years? Do we have future Olympic gold medalists and Burghley winners in our midst (odds are WE DO!)? We’ll have to wait and see…
I fell in love with a TB yesterday, y’all. It’s a good (or bad?) thing that all my excess money is tied up in the tiny house right now or I’d have been on the phone with this guy’s trainer before I even realized what I was doing.
A big, young, athletic, very well bred for sport, good-moving, extremely attractive, sound-looking horse? Sign. Me. Up. His crazy eye and wild forelock give him extra appeal in my book. I see a lot of thoroughbreds in my feed due to pages I follow and groups I’m in, but it’s been a while since I loved one this much. He’s even out of a Danzig mare. A direct Danzig daughter. Swoon. The only thing that could make him better (in my book) is if he was a she.
Alas, I’m not shopping and I need another cheeky 3yo like I need a hole in the head, so I posted him on my facebook and Instagram. Someone needs to buy him. Preferably someone I know so I can stalk him forever.
Anyway, it was kind of interesting to me that in both places I posted him, a couple people replied thinking he was too expensive for a horse just coming off the track. Fair enough, at $5,000 he’s on the higher side of what is typical. It leads to an interesting conversation though – what IS a fair price for a horse coming off the track these days?
Obviously that can vary a lot, in my mind, depending on the horse. Age, sex, size, soundness, athleticism, movement – all factors that can affect the value, just like any other horse. From what I’ve seen over the past few years, OTTB prices in general have gone up a bit, probably thanks to programs like RRP and the resurgence of TB-only classes and awards. For the most part I think it’s been a great thing. Sure, it costs me (the consumer) a bit more money up front, but a horse being worth more tends to be better for said horse’s safety and well-being. If a race trainer or owner knows they can get as much as a claiming tag by selling to the sporthorse world, maybe they’re less likely to keep running the horse who wants to be done. If they think they can get a few grand from the sporthorse world, maybe they’re more willing to go through the inconvenience of listing and taking phone calls rather than just loading the horse up on the meat truck.
Not to mention – if the horse is young and sound and athletic and healthy and attractive, is there any reason why it SHOULDN’T bring more money? To me, there’s actually a lot of value already built into a horse coming off the track. It’s seen a lot, it’s been handled a lot… that life experience is worth something. Sure maybe the horse needs a little downtime, some Gastrogard, some farrier work, or some re-training, but so might just about any other horse you get from just about anywhere for that price. Hell, even a super expensive import could need that. But if you went and bought a $5000 3 or 4yo warmblood, what would your expectations really be? The same as the TB, or would you settle for even less? Younger, greener, less athletic, lower quality, perhaps some vetting issues? I would challenge that it would be quite difficult to find a WB of comparable quality and experience for that little money. So even at 5k the TB is still quite a hefty bargain in the overall realm of sporthorse prices.
I’ve bought many an OTTB in my life, although none in a while. In these past few years I’ve seen friends pay mostly in the $2500-7000 range for horses coming off the track, depending on a) the quality of the horse, b) how lucky they were. That’s certainly higher than maybe 10-15 years ago. It’s rare for me to see a super high quality, sound one listed for less than $3000 anymore. Every once in a while there’s a right-place-right-time type situation, but it doesn’t seem particularly common. There are even re-sellers who have made a thriving business out of selling OTTB’s in these slightly higher price brackets. Benchmark immediately springs to mind – they tend to have the cream of the crop, really high quality horses on offer in the $5,000-12,000 price range, and they’ve made an excellent reputation for themselves in the industry. Considering how many they sell, and how quickly, there certainly does seem to be a market for OTTB’s in that price range. At the end of the day horses are worth what someone is willing to pay, and plenty of people seem willing to pay fair money for a quality horse.
Am I horse shopping right now? No. Do I have extra money in my budget at the moment to go pick up another horse? No. But if I did, you can bet I wouldn’t have hesitated for even one second to pick up the phone and call on that horse. Would I like it if he was cheaper? LOL of course. I would like it if literally everything was cheaper. If I was hunting for a mega-bargain with a very low budget and was willing to make a lot of compromises (as was the situation when I bought Henry) then no, that particular horse wouldn’t make my list. But if I was shopping for a really high quality prospect that had it all, he’d 100% be it. IMO there’s definitely value in that, and I don’t begrudge them for putting a price like that on him at all – just like any other horse that ticks a lot of widely desirable boxes. If he’s worth it, someone will pay it. (Me. It would be me. I would pay it.)
So, let’s discuss. Pretend you’re shopping for a high quality young/green prospect and you’ve got like 10k+ to spend. Do you think 5k is a fair price for a very nice horse (not even necessarily this particular horse, but one that ticks all your own personal boxes that would make a horse perfect for you) coming straight off the track? Why or why not? And do you think these kind of prices, lets say $4000-7000, are fair for horses like these? Why or why not? At what point do you think the price is too high for a top-end horse just off the track?
You know how facebook goes out of it’s way to show you posts in groups that your friends have commented on? Smart feature, most of the time. Total tattletale, some of the time. See, this is how I busted Leah buying yet another bridle, which honestly just made me feel a lot better about myself and the fact that I too probably have a few too many bridles. Pretty sure she has more than me, therefore by the rule of comparison I can’t be that bad, right?
Anyway, I busted her buying a unicorn bridle, which 1) totally excusable, why would one NOT buy a unicorn bridle? Duh. 2) turned out to be the gateway drug that let me down quite the rabbit hole and now has me coveting something entirely different. Just remember, Leah started it. Anyway, she bought this one:
I gotta admit, the noseband is rad. I kind of love the oil-slick type look that the piping has. It doesn’t really work on any of my creatures or match any of my stuff, but it’s a pretty noseband none-the-less. And in that same post the seller had a picture of another bridle they carried, one that is definitely more up my alley. Navy. Navy sparkles.
Still though, as much as I love it and as beautiful as it is, I don’t own any dressage bridles that I can’t also show in (truth be told I only have one black bridle at all actually, it’s a schooling bridle AND a show bridle) and this sparkly blue noseband is probably a bit too brazen for me. Maybe if Henry was stronger in the dressage phase I would be that brave about drawing attention to his head, but as it is the only “flair” on his dressage bridle is the black rhinestone browband. And Presto, well… his face is already a bit busy for color and sparkle like that I think.
But these two bridles are both from Waldhausen, which did make me go investigate their entire bridle selection. If you want color, that’s certainly the place. Pink, blue, green, gold, red, purple… they’ve got just about everything, and an assortment of sparkles too. But the more I thought about that sparkly blue bridle, the more I was like… “wouldn’t that be perfect in black?”. Picture it, for Presto: black dressage bridle, spikey punk rock browband, black sparkly noseband. Punk rock sparkle bridle. His personality 100%. I think he could pull it off too. With the help of photoshop I was able to reimagine the blue noseband in black.
And from that moment on I was kind of obsessed with the idea. Naturally though, Waldhausen doesn’t make that noseband in black sparkles.
By this point I was already pretty far down a rabbit hole (again, totally Leah’s fault) but I was about to go even further. Y’all ever googled “black sparkle bridle” or “black glitter bridle”? It’s an experience. I forgot how much DQ’s are into sparkles these days.
Just a couple of the many many options that pop up.
And unfortunately they’re also really into patent. Like, most of the sparkle options also included patent. I do not like patent. I also didn’t really like the ones with a big block of glitter as the noseband, I preferred it more as the padding or piping. A little more subtle that way. DQ’s, you know perhaps you’ve gone off the deep end when the eventer is like “I dunno, it’s just a lot…”. Anyway, I finally found The Perfect One at SD Designs, AND you could buy the noseband by itself (yay)…
but of course… totally sold out in Full size. I stalked every store they listed as a distributer (dozens, literally dozens of stores that I clicked through, some of which I also emailed because they showed as having some in stock) – same thing, all sold out. So I decided to be that super annoying person and email SD Designs to ask if they were planning to make more of them, and if so when. They did respond, which was great, but alas, no, they are not planning on making any more of them. Cue sadness.
By this point I was already in way too deep. There’s no abandoning an idea like this and going about your life as if it never happened, I’d already invested way too much of myself in this as-yet-still-a-figment-of-my-imagination punk rock sparkle bridle.
Luckily these days we don’t have to just learn to be satisfied with off the rack options. Custom bridles and bridle parts are a big thing these days, especially in dressageland where somebody always seems to have an idea for more sparkle or more color or more patent. Some people put me in touch with a couple OTHER companies that can make pretty much anything you want for a shockingly good price, and I may or may not be “in discussions” about this currently.
So basically I tell you this whole story to make it clear that whatever happens, if indeed another bridle is acquired (let’s be honest, it will be sooner or later, these ideas never just die), it wasn’t my fault. I was just minding my own business scrolling through facebook when I was ATTACKED by a wicked temptress.
Technically all he did in the show ring was trot over some poles. He’s only 3 after all, and for his first show I figured we’d keep it super easy. I had considered entering a dressage test and doing Intro A, but given how distractible he can be (it’s not spooky or malicious, he just genuinely likes to SEE ALL THE THINGS) I opted for the jumper classes instead – that way if he needed to pause in a corner to check something out or drunkenly weave his way down the side of the ring, it would be no problem. This show offers jumper classes from poles up to 3’6″, which is really nice. All we had to do was get from one pole to the next, didn’t matter how. I thought that was a better idea than having to follow a specific pattern with a dressage test, or at least a bit less pressure. Plus I thought the poles might help distract him and keep his brain occupied if he started getting a little overwhelmed with all the things to look at. I entered HC (not for ribbons/placings/points) and tada, there he was, in his very first Table II, 2(b) and Table II, 2(c) classes!
Really though, the point of entering the show was two-fold. 1) see what he thought of all the sights/sounds/spectacles of horse showing while also having to be ridden. He’s been to plenty of shows in his life, but always at the end of a lead rope. He’s never really been asked to go to work or have to focus a lot, and that ups the ante a bit for sure. 2) I wanted him to start getting the experience of the warmup (y’all know what I mean by that!), standing beside the ring waiting his turn, and going into the ring by himself to go to work. The main building blocks of horse show life have nothing to do with the actual showing part, really. In order to get the best from him when we’re in the show ring, first he has to learn how to handle everything outside of it.
Before I get into the details I have to pause for a second and give major props to the facility, Scissortail Hill, for putting on a very covid-safe horse show. They had mask requirements (on at all times when not mounted), guidelines regarding how many could be in an area at a time, spaced all the parking out, only allowed one groundperson/spectator per rider, had designated pathways to the office, plexiglass, staggered groups to keep people from having to congregate, etc. It’s a small local show, they certainly are not required by anyone to do any of that, but they did it and they pulled it off really well. It felt very safe and socially distanced without impacting the actual show at all. Props to Scissortail. This is the first horse show I’ve been to since all this started and I felt super safe about the experience.
Hillary was kind enough to come be my +1, which thank goodness, because it’s always a heck of a lot easier to have a helper, especially when you have a young/green one. Plus she got video and pictures, which is the only reason why I have any content for this post. She da real MVP. I left her at the trailer with Presto while I went and got my packet, and I came back to a clean horse with a trimmed bridle path and freshly banged tail. I literally pulled him out of his pasture, knocked the worst of the dirt off, and tossed him in the trailer, and it had looked like it. She made him look significantly more presentable.
I lunged him for a couple minutes before I got on, but he seemed relatively chill, so I opted to just go ahead and swing aboard. He was definitely very interested in seeing everything at first, and there was plenty to look at. Trailers, horses, cars, the busy road that borders the front of the property, cross country jumps, the trail course, the horses in the warmup and the various arenas… lots to see, that was for sure. He was pretty calm about taking it all in though. He only neighed a couple times, and was happy to just stand and observe when I asked him to.
We started out trotting around the warmup area for a few minutes. He definitely had his head straight up the air like a giraffe, but he was being fine other than that, so no big deal. At one point a horse outside of the ring started to spin and leap around, and I could feel Presto kinda look at him like “WOW, IS THAT AN OPTION, I DIDN’T KNOW THAT WAS AN OPTION” and I had to tell him “No sorry, that’s definitely not an option, let’s go over here and make some circles instead”. I’m a buzzkill, I know.
Since poles was the first jumper division they had the ring open for schooling for a little while before the division started. I figured it was a great opportunity to let him see everything, so once a couple people came out I headed in. Props to Presto, he was super brave about it, marching around the ring with just a few sideways glances at the jumps stacked outside of the rail or the big flapping medic’s tent.
We trotted around for little while, I popped him over all the jumps that were set as poles, and that was that. We only had about 10 minutes before our division started so I walked him out of the ring and let him stand around on a loose rein checking things out. To his credit, he was really good at that part. Well, unless other horses come close to him, then he wants to climb on top of them and be their BEST FRIEND. Schoolhorses tend to not be the biggest fans of the big dumb warmblood baby trying to forcibly be besties. They ain’t got time for that. Otherwise though, he stood around and observed everything quietly.
By the time we actually got to his classes, he was basically pro at this. He walked in the ring, we waited for the whistle, picked up the trot, and off we went. He understood that the point of the game was to go from pole to pole, and he had started to look for which one was next. The classes were really short, just 5 poles (can we make all showjumping rounds just 5 jumps? I’d be into that.) so it was perfect for his 3yo attention span. He trotted his poles, we went back to walk, exited out the other end of the ring, then walked back up to the ingate and did it again. He was really good.
It was exactly the kind of outing I was after – relaxed, low key, and productive. He settled really quickly and was a good boy about pretty much everything. His only spook of the day was when he was trotting down the rail in warmup and a horse outside of the ring just dropped to the ground out of nowhere to roll. Pretty sure Presto thought he keeled over and died, so we had to stop and investigate. Considering all the commotion, I was pretty proud of him for how he handled everything. I think the poles were definitely the right choice, it was easy enough to not be asking much of him, but enough of a distraction to keep his brain busy. He had no qualms about warmup or about leaving the other horses to go in the ring by himself. Maybe next time we can try an Intro dressage test. We’ll see.
Many thanks again to Hillary for all her assistance, and to Scissortail for putting on a perfect, baby-friendly, covid-safe show! Presto has demanded a cookie raise now that he’s officially a show horse.
Foal inspections got cancelled this year, either in favor of virtual inspections or delayed ones, so the usual opportunity for pretty, more formal foal photos did not come to pass. It seemed criminal to not have them though, so Michelle and friends groomed and braided the foals and did their own little mini photo shoots with the help of @belindaloeppky behind the camera (all pics here are hers!). And I gotta say, they turned out super cute. Totally worth it. There were so many good pictures of the babies that I figured rather than try to pick just a few favorites of each foal and shove them into one post, each foal really deserved their own post with all their best Glamour Shots. One last time to have the spotlight to themselves before they leave the nest, so to speak, and I’ll link to each of them’s very first introductory post too so we can compare and see how far they’ve come. Since Remi is the oldest, I figured we’d start with him! He’s 6 months old now so he’s in a bit of an awkward, butt-high, gangly phase at the moment, but still handsome.