Action Packed

For the first time in way longer than I care to even think about, I had a very riding-centric weekend. That had been my plan all along, but there for a few days it didn’t look like it was going to happen. First, on Tuesday I came home to this.

I was just standing here being a good boy and they POPPED RIGHT OFF

Yes, that butthole pulled two shoes in one day. He was kind enough to leave them where I could easily find them at least (he’d been playing chase with Presto up and down the fence line and spun/ran/bucked right out of them) but COME ON HENRY. He’d only been wearing them for a week and a half and my poor farrier lives like 1.5 hours away. My vet, who used to be a farrier, was out that afternoon for Presto’s tooth appointment, but he didn’t have his tools with him to nail the shoes back on. So I put Henry’s sparkly boot (that thing has already saved the day multiple times now) on the front foot with the missing shoe and told him that if he tore up the hind foot I was going to eat him, starting with said foot.

Then the next day it rained. Like that gross rain where it’s more than a drizzle but it’s not really RAIN, and it lasts for a solid 14+ hours. It soaked EVERYTHING. I was concerned that the little schooling show I’d wanted to go to on Saturday would be rained out. Not that it mattered much at that point, since my horse had 2 out of 4 shoes. But on Friday morning they gave word that the show was a go, and on Friday afternoon my farrier made it out to put the shoes back on, and suddenly our weekend was back on track.

foiled again

The little schooling show was at a facility we’ve been to many times… it’s only about 25mins away from me now, it’s VERY laid back, the classes are cheap, the shows are small, the courses are soft, and they tend to let you do whatever you need to make your day a success. I wasn’t going to actually show, I was going just to jump a couple courses and get off the farm. We’ve jumped at home a couple times now but I’ve only got 4 jumps set up and they’re all single fences, so I wanted to do an actual course or two. We haven’t done that in… 5 months? Maybe more?

So I rolled onto the showgrounds at the very leisurely time of 12:30 (it was really nice to be able to get up, feed horses, clean stalls, go to breakfast, move hay, drag the arena, check my trailer tires, load the trailer, groom my horse, and still have time left over before I needed to leave. That’s literally never happened before.) and signed up for a couple of 3′ classes. Since it was such a close show, the SO opted to come with us. This is only the second show he’s ever been to, and the first one since AEC 2015, where we got in a fight and I banned him from coming to shows. I guess 5 years of time served is long enough to give him another shot? At least at a small, in-town show.

We got there when the 2’3″ was starting, so I unloaded Henry and tied him to the trailer with his hay net, and the SO and I set up our chairs in the back of the trailer out of the wind, facing the arena. Eventually they got to 2’6″, and there had been one person entered in 2’9″ by herself and then the 3′ with me but she scratched, so I got on and did a quick warmup. Henry was snorty and spooky, trotting sideways past a gate and leaping backwards at the sight of the world’s tiniest log in warmup. Yes folks, hello, this is my Prelim horse scrambling backwards away from a 4″ log as if it was set on fire by an army of dragons.

Image result for are you not impressed gif

I told the organizer not to worry about setting the jumps to height just on my account since I was only there to school anyway. So we went in, did our two rounds, and Henry was super rideable. Like… weirdly rideable. Like… we added in a line at one point because I whoaed and he listened a little too well. If not for all the spooking and dolphining in warmup I’d have thought I was on the wrong horse. He did everything I asked in the ring, whether I was right or wrong. Can’t complain about that.

SO had seen just enough rounds to put him to sleep by the time I got on, so I ended up with video from about half of each round and some questionable zooming, but… it’s more video than I would have had otherwise.

By the time all was said and done I was on my horse for 25 minutes and we jumped a grand total of 23 fences between warmup and two classes. I was back home by 3pm. THAT is a show day I can get down with, and I think exactly what we needed to start knocking some more rust off.

he’s cute no matter how blurry he is

Sunday was beautiful – 75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, so I spent forever down in the barn currying more hair off of Henry and giving him a bath. He’s shedding like crazy now. I also opted for a bareback and bitless flatwork ride, something relaxed since the previous day had been more serious. The barn owner has a SoloShot which I played with for a while before losing patience and tossing my phone up on the fence to video instead. Someday I will actually take the time (all of it. all the time.) to use the SoloShot, but yesterday was not that day.

Henry is slowly but surely starting to get some of his strength back. When we first started riding again he wasn’t really able to stay off his forehand for more than a few strides, but it’s steadily improving. He’s incredibly downhill by nature so that’s always been the first thing to go when he loses some strength. It’s a balancing act of asking him for enough to build on, without asking too much or for too long and making him sore.  Slow and steady, slow and steady.

yes, he likes to play with his tongue when he’s bitless

I have no actual plan for the coming weeks or months, we’re just going to keep plugging along and take things as they come. It’s kind of a nice change of pace, living in a world with no pressure or timelines. I don’t hate it.

Review: Montar breeches

One of the best (or worst, depending on whether you’re asking me or my wallet) things about those massive Black Friday sales posts is that I too discover new companies, brands, and products. This year was no exception as I stumbled across several new-to-me stores, one of which was The Dressage Store. If you like pretty things it’s really easy to get sucked into that website. Fans of matchy sets, this is definitely your jam, but they also have other gorgeous stuff, like Juuls jackets and Kingsley boots. I love unique or interesting things, and this shop has plenty of eye candy in that regard.

One of the other brands they carry is Montar, which I have been low-key eyeballing for a long time. They make everything from bridles to breeches, and it’s interesting enough to be a fun line, but not too “out there” or crazy expensive. I’ve heard particularly good things about the breeches, although never seen any in person, so I was always a bit hesitant. I do believe, though, that most brands can be judged pretty accurately by their breeches, a theory that hasn’t let me down yet. Usually if I like the breeches, I’ll like other things they make, too. And since breeches are an absolute staple, seems like a logical place to start.

I opted for the Montar ESS breeches, which are maybe a bit outside of my normal box. I am a big fan of a mid-rise, and got a bit nervous about their description of a “higher rise”, with lingering trauma from the very old TS and Pytchley days when higher rise meant they legit went almost to the bottom of my boobs. These didn’t look particularly high though, and I really loved the shape of the waistband. If I’m going to have a problem with breeches fitting me, it’s usually because they gap in the waist, so I liked that these had a contoured waistband, slightly higher in the back, with the little V notch.

the waistband is PERFECTION

These also feature a silicone full seat, which I am generally very picky about. I feel like much of the time breech-makers put way too much silicone and it’s way too thick, making the breeches mega sticky… tough if you want to actually remove your butt from the saddle to post or gallop or jump.

Luckily Montar really delivered when it comes to these breeches. They fit pretty near perfect, and the seat gives a little bit more grip without being noticeably sticky. I don’t feel stuck to the saddle at all, just slightly more secure. The best way I can think to describe it is that it’s not a GRIPPY silicone so much as an anti-slip silicone. The waist sits just slightly higher than my midrise breeches, no more than 1/2″ if that, which I quite like. The waistband is as beautifully tailored as it looks, so there’s no sag, there’s no gapping, and everything stays in place. I do think they run a tiny bit longer than some of my others, so tall people rejoice, short people you might have to fold.


The real selling feature of these for me, though, is the fabric. It’s ridiculously comfortable, and kind of feels like just the right mix of other brands I’ve liked. They’re super stretchy like the Horze Grand Prix, but lighter weight like the Aqua X, but smooth and soft like the Serafina. To be honest, I think Montar has perfected the blend. It feels almost like wearing leggings. These things are so comfortable that I’ve worn them for almost every ride since I got them, no joke. I just find myself reaching for them again and again. They wash up great and don’t stretch out. I think I need some green ones now, clearly.

These are a little bit pricier than some of my other schooling breeches, at $179 retail. That puts them in the same price range as Serafina, TS, Pikeur, B Vertigo, and RJ Classics. To be fair, I have/had all of those brands and would definitely declare Montar the winner among them. The fit and fabric is just superior.

This was actually a different day than the other picture but obviously I have a favorite outfit

In the relatively short time that I’ve known about The Dressage Store they’ve posted a coupon code and done a custom boot giveaway, so if you aren’t already following along, here’s their Instagram or facebook. Y’all know how much I love supporting these smaller boutique stores, and from my experience I think this is definitely one to watch! Now they just might have to continue to feed my new Montar addiction…

Belly Bands are… dumb?

A couple weeks ago I was scrolling through my facebook feed when my eyes caught on an article from Heels Down titled “Belly Bands are a Dumb Trend”. Meant to be attention-grabbing, obviously, and I suppose it worked because I stopped scrolling. It was a very confusing title to me because 1. I had no idea they were a “trend” 2. I tend to disagree with the idea that they’re dumb. I own one, after all.

Image result for belly band horse
they LOOK dumb, I’ll give you that

So I opened the article and the gist was that people use belly bands because they’re trying to hide spur marks, and if you’re such a bad rider that you leave spur marks, maybe you should work on your horsemanship. This just compounded how perplexed I was. I agree with the latter part, but strongly disagree with the former.

I mean, first of all… have you seen a belly band? It’s literally this hideous chonk of black elastic that is, quite frankly, a freaking upper body workout to even put on. There’s nothing semi-attractive about it, nor does it make you look cool. It looks like a dang hernia belt. Or a girdle. People DO look at you more closely, to try to judge why you’re using it. You’re not standing out in a good way. If they’re trendy then I guess I’ve totally missed that boat, because I don’t know a single person that uses one without reason or just to look cool. It doesn’t, and it’s a PITA.

My real problem with the article started here:

“Some may even be prone to rubs from riders’ boots or girth-fit alone. But there are options out there for managing a problem like this. Most of them come down to proper education and horsemanship.”

See, I do own a belly band, and have used it with great success. I have a horse who gets extremely sensitive skin in the summer, and just about anything will give him a rub. Like his halter. Or a saddle pad. Or my leg touching him. Or looking at him funny. The horse was getting rubs and I wasn’t even wearing spurs. Let me repeat: not wearing spurs. But I do ride him for long periods, he does sweat a lot, and those two things create the perfect environment for skin irritation.

I tried to use one of those spur pads with the extended sides and he got rubs from the edges of the pad. Congratulations, now he had MORE rubs. I tried wearing two other different pairs of boots to see if that would make any difference, but no dice. I tried slathering the area in Vaseline before rides to reduce friction (yes, I voluntarily made my horse more slippery). I had the vet look at his skin, I treated it with products, and always carefully bathed all the sweat off. None of that fixed it. So I bought him sheepskin pads, picked up a cheap used belly band to put over top, and voila – my problems were totally solved. The existing rubs healed, and he didn’t get any more. Once we got past the sweatiest grossest parts of the summer I was able to stop using the belly band and it’s been hanging in the tack room since. Will I need it again next summer? I’d be thrilled if I don’t, but probably. We’ll see. If I do, I won’t hesitate to reach for it. So, given all that, I am very interested to hear what other options exist (according to this author) for managing a horse like this, particularly those pertaining to my alleged lack of horsemanship.

The article goes on to say that a belly band is a quick fix solution, and maybe you need to learn how to make your horse be more forward and light off your leg.


If I get my horse any more forward and light off my leg, he will take up permanent residence somewhere in the stratosphere. That animal is so sensitive I have to be really tactful and deliberate about how I use my leg. I’ve spent years working on getting him to accept the leg and allow me to actually use it appropriately. Trust me, I ain’t squeezing his guts out the whole ride. But you DO have to put your leg on a horse and be able to ride with your leg as an active aid… I can’t just ride around with my leg off his sides as a solution to prevent rubs.

very abused, this one

Are there people out there using belly bands to cover something up? Of that I have no doubt. Truth is, people can misuse even the most innocuous pieces of equipment (like sponges. people have literally abused horses with sponges.). If you’re using a belly band to prevent a particularly severe spur from leaving a mark so you can skate around the blood rule then you’re not that bright in the first place, because a belly band dulls the effect of a spur. If that’s your intended usage you may as well take the dumb-looking elastic girdle off and use a duller spur. I do agree that they should not be legal in competition for any sport (they already aren’t legal for some competitions) – I have never used mine in the show ring and would never want to, because see above comments about how freaking ugly it is. Taking it off for one day or just for your class shouldn’t be a big deal if you’re using it for legitimate purposes.

But I do think it’s incredibly small-minded, and if I’m being honest, a bit ignorant, to lambaste the product and all the people who use it just because there are a few people who also misuse it. Particularly when it’s a product that’s intentionally designed to protect a horse’s skin. By that logic there must be something wrong with all my sheepskin pads, too. Digging deeper into the article, it seems like what the author truly has a problem with is the misuse of spurs, and we can absolutely find common ground there. Shoot, the only spurs I even own are those teeny tiny little roller balls, and given my history on this blog I think it’s pretty clear that I would never defend rider-induced blood on a horse. What I just can’t get behind is the leap from “abuse of spur” to “belly bands are dumb” and roll them up in the same conclusion: people who use belly bands have bad horsemanship. That’s the point at which I admittedly get lost. And yes, I definitely have a real problem with someone questioning my horsemanship because I use a product that has actually worked to make my horse more comfortable.

Anyone else ever used a belly band? Do you think they’re covering up a bad rider or a lack of horsemanship, or is there a legitimate use? Where do you stand?

The Ethiopian Warmblood has been de-wolfed

Somewhere around January 1st I thought “Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if I could go the entire month without spending hundreds of dollars on vet bills…”. And then maybe 2 minutes later I realized that the boys were due for their shots and coggins. And then maybe 2 minutes after that I figured we might as well go ahead and check Presto’s mouth to see about those wolf teeth too, if I’m going to start riding him anytime soon. Oh, and he probably needs a float.

Image result for make it rain gif

Okay, so… maybe next month. I think by this point I haven’t gone a single month without paying the vet something since like… May? April? Come on, February, don’t let me down.

Anyway, the vet came out last Monday to do the shots and coggins, which was easy. Except Presto had a meltdown when I left him in the crossties and tried to paw his way to China, thus began 4 subsequent days of Camp Dontbeanasshole where he was put in the crossties and ignored for the entire time I was mucking stalls. Naturally he never threw another fit again, and indeed barely moved a muscle in any of those sessions, because they always save that kind of behavior for when we have company over.


We checked his teeth on shots/coggins day and they did indeed need a float, and he did indeed have two wittle wolf teeth prime and ready for removal. I was happy to see that his wolf teeth were so little (ie normal sized) because his mother’s were so big that it took almost an hour to get them out, and that vet asked if she could keep them because she’d never seen any so big. Because if anyone is going to have a horse with anything freakish, it’d definitely be me.

Presto’s tooth appointment was yesterday. We started with the power float, and he had a couple decent size points in there, but they didn’t take long to smooth down. When the vet was satisfied with the teeth, he went and got his little wolf teeth extractor tool and essentially just… popped those suckers right out.

it’s so little and cute

It took less than 5 minutes, and they are totally the cutest wittle baby wolf teeth ever. While the vet was in there he noticed that Presto had a couple premolar caps that were about to fall off, so he literally just tapped them with his tool and out they came. Those were much more impressive looking, at least, and really cool. There are a couple more caps that will be ready soon he said, but not quite yet. He’s shedding these baby teeth like a machine, and right on schedule.


As we were finishing up, the vet asked me how old he was again (“2yrs 10months 5 days”, it’s totally normal to know that btw) then looked at him and said “he’s huge”. To which I reasoned that technically he’s only like an inch taller than Henry and he’s basically 3 now, so ya know, it’s not that bad. I tell myself that all the time and after a while it totally works. I did say that I’d held off putting a few rides on him because of the timing of his most recent growth spurt and he looked at him again and said “Yeah that’s probably a good idea. He looks like an Ethiopian Warmblood.”.

I died.

That’s probably the most accurate description I’ve heard of Presto yet. He’s definitely very gazelle-like at the moment, maybe mixed with a little ibex and Somali wild ass.


Presto came out of his sedation well and ate his dinner normally. His mouth is maybe a little sore but it hasn’t seemed to slow down his consumption at all. And with the wolf teeth gone, we’re hopefully finished yanking things out of his body (hey, it’s almost a year to the day since he got his cojones chopped!) and he’s made the right of passage into being a real boy. Or a real Ethiopian Warmblood. Whichever.

Next stop, his 3yo birthday! Which reminds me… which birthday hat does he want?

I can’t quite decide…

Hairy Beast

It’s been probably a solid decade since I’ve had a riding horse who wasn’t getting at least two body clips every winter. This is Texas, it can still be 80+ degrees in the winter (it was last week actually), and it’s difficult to have a horse in full work that isn’t going to die of heat stroke if they grow a lot of hair. As has become usual by now, I clipped Henry for the first time in early October – it was still 90+ degrees so he was DYING – with a plan to clip him again in November. He grows so much coat that only clipping him once, at the beginning of Fall, tends to leave him with a winter coat about the same as that of most other un-clipped horses. If not for the fact that I leave his legs and a saddle patch untouched, by November you would never know that he’d already been clipped. He grows a really thick, long coat.


And then he hurt himself, so I held off on the second clip. If he wasn’t going to be working, there wasn’t much point in taking the hair off. And then I started riding him again, but not enough to really NEED a clip, and then before I knew it we’d gotten to the end of December and he started shedding. He’s hairy enough to where he really could use less hair when I’m riding on these warmer days, but he’s not struggling, so for now I’ve decided to just leave it.

The main motivation behind that decision? Blanketing. The complication of clipping is of course all the subsequent required blanketing, and blanketing is really really REALLY tricky when you leave the farm at 5:30am and don’t get back until 3:30pm. It could easily be 40 degrees when I leave in the morning, but 70 degrees by the middle of the day. Trying to blanket for that becomes nearly impossible, and obsessing about has already driven me relatively insane.

I have always felt like horses handle being a little chilly much better than being overly hot, especially Henry in particular. I’d much rather he be a little bit cold for the first couple hours of the day than to be standing under a blanket sweating for 6 hours. It’s also been beaten into me from an early age that it’s Very Bad if a horse is sweating under a blanket. They’ll be wet to their core, the blankets will be wet, and if I can’t get them dried off completely, they’ll end up way colder once the sun goes down. It’s not a cycle I want to opt into. Naturally, if they’re shivering then they’re TOO cold (and I will stand there for an obsessively long time staring at them to make sure they aren’t) but generally if they aren’t clipped, then most Texas days it’s better to err on the side of no blanket.

Presto eating a stick yesterday, as one does

This would all be a lot easier if I could just work for home or be independently wealthy and not have to spend all day at work… then I could just take blankets off or change them throughout the day as needed. Unfortunately that’s not possible, so instead I drive myself absolutely bonkers trying to make the best decision every day.

Presto and the older mare are easy – they’re so freaking hairy I think it would have to be legit arctic for them to even notice, and they’re both pretty hardy. They don’t wear anything unless its really cold, and gonna stay really cold, and/or there’s a possibility that they might get wet while it’s also cold. Which is rare. The yearling got his coat a lot later than the others, but he puffed up quite a bit in December and is now sporting some really impressive 6″ goat hairs on his chin. I’ll put a blanket on that one before I put one on his other two pasturemates, but I also have to be careful because he is by far the most active and runs around so much that he makes himself hot once the day starts to warm up.

Henry’s butt hairs tho

Henry is the trickiest one. When I was debating clipping him again I thought long and hard about it, imagining what I’d do in all these scenarios if he was clipped. I also considered doing just a partial clip of various styles. But really there’s just no good answer when the temperature swings so much between turnout time and noon most days. Since I already agonize way too much about how to dress the horses, I decided to not add any more stress to that unless I absolutely have to. He’s not going to any important shows, and he seems ok temperature-wise in his work for now. I’ll just keep trying to shed him out a bit, and if, once we get through February, he seems like he’s getting too hot or taking a while to shed out enough to be comfortable, I can always just clip him later.

The ability to do blanket changes might be one of the very few things I miss about the other barn… the worker was always happy to go pull Henry’s blanket off for me mid-morning. What I’ve noticed I’m NOT dealing with though, for the first winter in… 5 years? No little ulcery minor gas colics, and no skinny Henry. I’ve always had issues with him in the winter, keeping his weight on and battling some other ulcer symptoms. I think it had to do with increased stall time and not enough forage, mostly. But the ground at this farm is nice and sandy so it’s extremely rare that they have to spend much time cooped up, they get a longer turnout time every day, this is probably the best quality pasture he’s ever had in the winter, he’s got more turnout space and moves around a lot more, and I’m able to give him more hay at night than he’s had before. He’s never looked this good in January, and – knock on wood – no tummy issues. He’s also eating the least amount of grain ever for this time of year… I’ve been able to cut it in half, which I’m sure also really helps his stomach.

not skinny

Aside from the blanketing turmoil, keeping the horses at home is quite possibly the best thing ever. I probably won’t stop fretting about blanketing decisions on a daily basis though… it’s my newest hobby and I’m real good at it.

Airborne Again

Henry and I last jumped in early November. And then two days later he did… whatever the hell he did, and was mysteriously and disturbingly lame for almost a month. As soon as I paid a million dollars for xrays and two vet visits and those ridiculous glue-on rubber shoes he was totally fine, so now for the past 7 weeks I’ve been slowly and carefully legging him back up. Am I being ridiculously slow about it? Maybe. But I’d rather err on the side of caution and take the time to get him properly fit and conditioned again. A month off doesn’t seem like much, but we’d been in the middle of legging him back up to regular fitness (it was a long hot brutal summer that he really could not participate in very much) when he hurt himself. A half-fit horse that gets a month off ends up losing a lot of strength and fitness by the time all is said and done. It’s not just the cardio, it’s the muscles and tendons and ligaments that have to be ready for the workload too. There is only one Henry and I cannot replace him.

But now we’ve worked our way back up to a 5 rides per week schedule, and I’ve slowly been lengthening his conditioning days and asking for more in his dressage rides. It’s funny, this is the first time in my life I’ve ever had an actually “made” horse (ie not green or seriously remedial in some way) and god is there ever a lot to be said for that. The first day of pushing all the flatwork buttons was a little rusty, but after that everything came right back as if nary a day had gone by. On Thursday we did a bareback dressage ride and tossed in all his fun tricks – half pass, shoulder in, haunches in, 10m circles and figure 8’s, lengthenings at the trot and canter, counter canter zig zag, halt to canter, simple changes, etc. He did it all. I mean he spooked a lot, and it wasn’t always particularly correct, and I couldn’t get him within 10 meters of C because some kind of imaginary creature lives over there now, but hey. Close enough.

And my abs were SCREAMING the next day. Totally confirmed my theory that we should be riding bareback more often, because nothing quite murders my core like bareback dressage.

So after having had no problems throughout all that, I decided he finally seemed ready to jump again. We got a little rain on Friday and Saturday, which softened up the ground to absolute perfection, and I dragged some jumps out into the smaller flatter pasture, set them small for him (nothing over 2’9″) and in we went.

Naturally, Henry snorted his idiot head off at the coop. He’s only seen it 500 times before, just not in that exact spot. I honestly have no idea how he’s such a good cross country horse. But after a few laps of trot and canter he settled down, and after we’d warmed up I pointed him at the barrels. Where he proceeded to take off from at least a stride away and land bucking. I laughed. I can’t help it, he’s ridiculous.

Once he’d jumped a few warmup fences he leveled out, so we walked, I went and set my phone on the fence and pointed it at the coop to try to get some video, and then we did two courses.

first we jump it this way
and then we jump it this way

We didn’t do much, maybe 20 jumps total. We both still remember how, thank goodness, although my eye is a little off. He didn’t seem to mind, he mostly just seemed happy to be jumping again. It’s definitely his favorite thing.

For as silly as the GluShu’s looked they stayed on really well and seemed to do the trick, so I have no complaints. We were able to transition him back into regular steel shoes (with a leather rim pad) over a week ago and all seems fine so far. I spend so much time obsessively watching every step he takes that he probably thinks I’m an even bigger stalker than I already was, and he’s not wrong. I can’t help it.

Henry looked good coming out of his stall this morning so fingers crossed he feels good this afternoon and we can keep marching along back toward his regular workload! It was definitely nice to be airborne again with my favorite. It feels like home.

2020 US Event Horse Futurity

If you didn’t follow the inaugural US Event Horse Futurity on facebook in 2019, you really missed out. The training vlogs were fantastic, and it was so educational to see how different trainers approach different issues, and how the horses progressed throughout the year. I developed a bit of a fangirl crush on Maya Black, someone I didn’t know a whole lot about before the Futurity.


You see some of these upper level people running around the big stuff with older experienced horses, but it’s such a different ballgame to see them with young horses and get a front row seat to watch how they train. It’s an entirely separate skillset. Some of the trainers were exceptionally good at knowing when to take the pressure away and just hack out or give time off, and knowing just how much they had to prepare without pushing the 4yo brain. It’s an art form that’s fascinating to me (and extremely applicable to real life), and the Futurity brought it to the public eye in a way that is rarely so accessible.

Anyway, if you missed it, the winner of the 2019 Futurity and the second place horse at the YEH Championships overall was Double Diamond C, by Diacontinus. Y’all might remember Diacontinus because I was stalking him a little in Germany in 2017 at Bundeschampionate, plus his sire is Diarado, who is also the sire of one of Presto’s half brothers (Manny).


This week the Futurity posted the 2020 entrants – 11 new baby event horses throwing their hats into the ring to be crowned the next winner. It’s an interesting group, with a couple stallions, a few trakehners, a variety of warmbloods, some tb x wb crosses, a little 15h guy, and even a few dressage-bred horses. It’s a whole new collection of rider/trainers too, so we’ll get to see even more insight into how different people approach the process.

It’s a little too early for me to pick a favorite, since the Futurity has just starting posting pictures and videos of the horses on their facebook page, but if we’re going by pedigree I’m particularly interested to see how Galway, Protego, and Exmoor Xena come along.

Anyone else been following along and looking at the new entries yet? Who’s your early favorite? Did you glean anything useful from the 2019 vlogs?

Let’s Discuss: Bareback Pads

I am a big fan of riding bareback. Especially for long walking hacks, or those super hot summer days where it’s just too hot to be bothered to tack up, or even sometimes for dressage rides to get a better feel for what the horse is doing and my own aids. I’m convinced that it’s really beneficial when it comes to highlighting bad habits or position flaws. I ride bareback pretty regularly, at least a couple times a month even up to a couple times a week in the summer, and I feel like I would definitely do it more often if I had a good bareback pad. Right now I use a half pad or a saddle pad, which does the job comfort-wise but tends to slip and slide around, tending to become more of an impediment if you want to travel above a walk. It’s annoying.

I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that I should invest in a good bareback pad, but so many other things have always come first. I think I’m finally to the point where my other tack situations are well-managed (or, uh… overmanaged) and since we’re not so much in major competition mode right now and I’m sitting on some Visa gift cards, it seems like it might be time. Except… holy crap there are SO MANY bareback pads on the market. Since I’ve never owned one, trying to choose has been really daunting.

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Here’s what I know:

  • I know that I don’t want one of those cheap fake fleecey ones that have the girth attached way too far forward. I don’t like the material and they don’t stay in place well and everything about it fills me with hatred.
  • I know that I want one with a generous contour cut, to allow for high withers. Because thoroughbreds.
  • I know that I prefer one with english girth billets, so that I can use my own girths.
  • I know that I don’t want a “treeless saddle” or stirrups/stirrup attachments on the pad.
  • I know that I need enough padding to where when Henry inevitably spooks, he won’t break my vagina with his aforementioned high withers.
  • I know that the only bareback pads I’ve ever tried before are the cheap fleecey ones and the Thinline, and I didn’t like either one.

Beyond that, I know literally NOTHING.

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ah, 2008 Colin Farrell

So I’ve been scouring the internet for a while, looking at all my options. When I found ones that looked interesting, I emailed or messaged the company to ask for more information. Most were really helpful. Some never responded. I think, from all of my obsessive stalking, I’ve narrowed it down to four contenders. They vary a lot, both in style and in price.

My old faithful Riding Warehouse does have a decent selection of bareback pads. The Horsedream and the Stargazer, while plush and dreamy AF, are massively over my budget. But they do carry the Best Friend pads, which I’ve found generally good reviews for. It comes in navy (always a bonus), it isn’t fleece, it has a little contour to the topline (I’m not convinced it’s enough, but maybe), and I think the girth is attached far enough back to work. Of course, it does have the western cinch style girth, which I don’t want, and it’s not as padded or structured as I had in mind. But, at $65 it’s the cheapest of my options.

Going to the next price point, I found the Barefoot Ride-On pads at $185ish. Still has about the same amount of padding, but it’s a little more structured, has the english billets, and also has some dees if I wanted to attach a breastplate or something. Unfortunately this is the only company that didn’t respond to my messages/questions, which bums me out. Also the color options are boring/awful. Not sure the good things are enough to be worth 3 times as much as the Best Friend, and the lack of communication from the company bothers me. A lot.

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If you bump up the price point to $280 we get to the Brockamp pads, which are beautiful. The US Brockamp dealer answered all of my questions in a lot of detail and was super nice, which means a lot. Brockamps are made in Italy, and the foam is structured to give the rider more stability as well as give the horse’s spine more clearance, which prevents rubbing or binding. Really important qualities for Henry in particular who is really bothered by both of those things. The Brockamps seem to be very popular in Europe and thus are perpetually back-ordered. They come in a huuuuuge range of colors, and the US dealer has a few in stock, although not in either color I would want (navy or dark green), so I’d have to wait 2-3 months for the next shipment to come in to get one of those colors. But they DO have every feature I’m looking for, albeit in a bit higher price point than I had in mind (still nowhere near the Horsedream or Stargazer range though!). Then again, if I had a pad like this I’d probably ride bareback a lot more.

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Good padding and structure
I love rainbows

And then, because if there are beautiful and expensive things in the world I will definitely find every single one of them, there are the Trailmaster pads. They start around $250 for synthetic or $350 for leather, varying according to what exactly you want (I actually like the synthetic more – small miracle). They’re handmade in the USA completely custom, with just about any colors and fabrics and features you want and available in high wither cut. I mean come on. They are just gorgeous. More minimalist for sure than the Brockamp, a bit less padded and without as much structure for the rider. I love that they use wool felt topped with a thin layer of memory foam. I feel like it would put me closer to the horse for flat work, with the tradeoff being that it’s less secure. Hmmmmm. The owner of the company was again helpful at providing info and answering my questions.

Trailmaster Bareback Pad Original (synthetic fabrics)

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I’m torn. My wallet says to go with the cheapest option, but after seeing the really nice ones it’s hard to be enthusiastic about the others. I do think I ride bareback enough to justify a nice pad, and if I had a nice pad I would probably ride bareback even more. Plus a good one should last for quite a long time. But then again, it’s not a small chunk of change. And if I did opt for a nice one, I’d have to choose between the Brockamp and the Trailmaster.

Halp me.

How many is too many? No don’t answer that.

Hi, my name is Amanda and I’m a bridle addict. I like the thrill of looking through all the different new bridles. I like looking at the different styles and features, and the more unique it is, the more intrigued I am. I love opening a box and having a waft of that intoxicating new leather smell hit my nose. I love oiling or conditioning it for the first time, working the leather in my hands to soften it. I love putting it together, getting all the parts adjusted “just so”. There are few things in the world as satisfying to me as this. And all of those things combined are probably how I now find myself with 9 bridles.

if this photo alone doesn’t turn you into a bridle junkie then we just can’t be friends

I like having a bridle for any occasion, and I definitely don’t like having horses share the same bridle. Henry’s got a dressage bridle, a bitless bridle, a cross country bridle, a flash jumping bridle that is currently not in the rotation, a hackamore bridle (different from the bitless!), and a hunt bridle. Presto has his cob bridle that he’s pretty much totally outgrown, his new padded horse size bridle, and now… a green bridle?

look at heem

See, I’ve been looking at those colored QHP Shiva bridles for a long time. The navy one is what originally caught my attention of course (#navy4life), but in my mind’s eye I just didn’t think I would love it on Henry. Plus he, even by my own admission, already really does have a bridle for everything. I just wasn’t sure that I would actually use it (yes I realize my logic is not always consistent considering I still haven’t used the hunt bridle for anything aside from a photo shoot. I plead extenuating circumstances on that one.). So I resisted the Shiva for a really long time.

And then I started doing mostly green for Presto, which turned my attention from the navy bridle to the green one. But green… on a bridle… was it too much? I kept seeing customer photos of it, and I really liked the look, but did I like it for me? Plus I didn’t need (my most dangerous word) another bridle, especially for a not-even-3yo. And then one day Decopony posted another pic of it on her instagram story and this time I made the mistake of responding saying that it was so pretty, and then she was like as it turns out I’m in the mood to clean out some stock for the new year, let’s make a deal.

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And that’s how the last remaining Full size green/brown Shiva bridle in her stock made it into Presto’s possession.

have you ever seen a more excited animal?

I remained a little bit unsure about the green bridle from the moment of purchase all the way up until the moment I put it on Presto. I thought that the green would look good on his coloring, but considering his face markings and his crazy forelock and the fancy stitching and the buckles on the noseband, would it be too much? Tacky? I mean I dunno if I’ve mentioned this y’all but it’s green. This was very far outside of my usual wheelhouse. My deeply ingrained h/j roots were screaming in terror from whatever deep dark recesses of my brain they’ve been shoved down into.

But I tacked him up, put on his new green/navy reversible breastplate with the green side out (I love that thing and it cost me all of $10 with some gift card creativity), put his green bridle on, and… loved it. Like waaaaaay more than I thought I would. There’s something about it that just works on him. It’s quirky and fun and looks really good with his dark coloring. And it’s subtle enough that once you get 20′ feet away you can’t tell it’s green. It’s not like “OH MY GOD HELLO I’M A GREEN FUCKING BRIDLE”, it’s more like “hey girl, sup, I heard you like green?”.

why yes, yes I do

So, ya know, TLDR – that’s why the non-broke horse now has 3 bridles. But hey, that’s still half as many as Henry. I think I’m doing okay.

Also I’m using this as the catalyst event to finally allow myself to get the dark green gloves that I’ve been drooling over for months. Please no one ask me how many pairs of gloves I have, then I’ll have to write another post just like this one (it’s 7, I have 7 pairs, last time I checked I only have 1 pair of hands but I LOVE GLOVES).

The Making of a Farm Boy

My SO is, and always has been, very typically suburban. He really truthfully had no freaking idea what he was getting into with me, although bless him, he’s been pretty patient about it. He was raised in the suburbs of Chicago, then lived in the suburbs of DC, and then moved to Austin. He’s definitely never lived in the country, or even spent much time there, aside from attending a few polo matches when he lived near Middleburg (do those even count?).

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He’s not TOO much of a prissy city boy though. He was originally a mechanic by trade, he’s handy, and he likes hiking and mountain biking. Although his experience with animals has been mainly limited to pets, he definitely loves them and has a bit of a bleeding heart. Like he won’t even kill a cockroach, he’ll catch it and take it outside.

Granted, it’s taken me YEARS to get him comfortable with being close to the horses. At first he would stand as far away as possible, extending his hand with a treat in it, yanking it back several times out of fear of being bitten before the horse could manage to snatch it fast enough. And then once the treat was successfully administered, he’d pretty much immediately go wash his hands.

He’s always said he’d like to live more out in the country, though. But he hates driving very far, especially regularly, and a store being 15 minutes away is relatively horrifying to him, so I was never sure how that would quite work out. When the farm-living opportunity came along, it definitely took me a while to talk him into it. Mostly because of the tiny house aspect, not because of the farm aspect. He has a lot of stuff and loves having a lot of stuff, so I know he’s going to have a hard time with 400 square feet. There’s not much I can do about that part, he’s going to have to struggle through it and figure it out. BUT, I have been using this fall/winter to slowly ease him into the farm life side of things.

the biggest selling point of the tiny house was agreeing to let him put a fireplace/tv on the porch

For now he lives at our house in the city most of the time, but comes out to the farm every Friday after work and stays through Saturday afternoon. Naturally, I save all of the “bigger” projects for Saturdays. Partly because some of them are easier to do with two people, and partly because I want him to start learning this stuff. If he’s going to be living here in the near future, he should understand how to do things and be able to contribute.

It started very very simply. His first official farm helper job was to dump and scrub all the water troughs and water buckets. Turns out this is also his least favorite job, for reasons unknown. Since he hated that so much, he quickly volunteered for other things, like driving the manure spreader (I didn’t warn him about the dust factor when it’s windy, so the first time he came driving back up to the barn covered in dirty shavings dust was only funny to one of us), moving hay from the storage barn to the main barn, fixing the lawnmower, changing batteries/lightbulbs, etc. Each weekend it’s progressed more and more.

that time the wheel popped off the lawnmower and he had to fix it

In introducing him to all of this stuff I’ve realized that certain things are NOT inherent to all people. Like… how to lift/carry a hay bale. That very first day we had to move hay he looked at the bale, grabbed it in a big bear hug, and crab-walked it over. I died. It was hilarious. It never would have occurred to me that people don’t know to grab it by the twine. I don’t know that I’ve ever had to explain some of these tasks to the totally uninitiated, so this is a learning experience for me too. Also apparently normal people don’t have tons of calluses on their hands, because he tossed about 3 bales before I had to go find him some gloves. Who knew.

He’s done it all without much complaint, though. He painted Chew Stop on the fences, and only complained a little bit when it got all over his hands (even through his gloves, which he wears pretty much at all times when he’s outside) and burned his skin. He’s gotten good at moving hay bales now, and it doesn’t make him sore anymore. I can’t even describe the delight I felt the first time he texted me on a Thursday and said “I just found a ton of hay in the pocket of my hoodie”. THAT is the true mark of initiation, for sure.

He made me take a pic of him on the tractor so he could show his friends hahahaha adorbs

He’s learned to drive the tractor, and learned the proper pattern for dragging the arena, which he does every weekend. He airs up the perpetually cranky tractor tire. He re-stapled all of the ceiling insulation tiles that the storm blew down, and fixed all the bushes, and helped me pick up the scattered branches. He even volunteered to help me clean stalls, which… I draw a hard line there. Let’s be honest, he will not clean them to my standards, and he’s not ready to learn yet. That wouldn’t end well. I did let him pick the poop out of the stall runs, though, since that’s easy enough, and he didn’t hate it.

He’s even learned the difference between coastal and alfalfa hay, and what a flake is. I’ve instilled the concept of ALWAYS CLOSE THE GATE BEHIND YOU to the point where if I go through a gate and leave it open he asks if he should close it. I mean, that’s never the case, I never accidentally leave a gate open, but it’s impressive that he’s now aware enough to ask.

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He’s even slowly gotten more comfortable with the horses. One time at night check he actually KISSED one of them. He’s pretty confident at giving them treats now too… I mean he still washes his hands immediately after and definitely looked a little green the night Henry laid a big sloppy wet lick on my open mouth, but he no longer yanks his hands away or backs up when they get close. He’s also starting to see and appreciate their personalities, laughing at the silly things they do. Last weekend I gave him his first official big horse task – turning Henry back out while I babysat Presto for the farrier. I did explain how to take the halter off (he’s learning how to do things, I’m learning how to explain things better) but otherwise he completed the task with no issues and no further instruction. That’s the first time he’s ever had to lead a horse anywhere or be solely responsible for one.

He’s also realizing just how much work it is, and that the labor ain’t no joke. There’s always something more to do. But, like me, he gets satisfaction out of it. There’s something really great about doing relatively simple basic labor that’s really rewarding, especially when you spend most of your days behind a computer screen. You can easily see what you’ve accomplished, and that it means something.

We’re making progress. I think there’s hope for making a farm boy out of him yet.