This one will do

I will forever believe that you have to be one part masochist and one part batshit in order to want to breed and raise your own horse. I feel like I can say this for certain, having done it more than once. I definitely wonder what’s wrong with me (the possibilities are endless) on a pretty regular basis. BUT, I also have to admit that watching a horse grow and develop – even if it feels like it’s happening at a glacial pace – is also really fun. Well, maybe less fun when they’re hideous, which is like 80% of the time. But when they hit those good phases, which are albeit short-lived, and you see glimpses of the horse they’re going to be when they’re mature… those moments are pretty great. You remember why you’re doing this.

Yep, this one will do

I think the first two years are the worst. You know what’s hideous? A weanling. You know what else is hideous? A yearling. There’s nothing quite so horrifying as when it looks like someone’s put their neck on upside down. The 2yo year is still not great, but I think the attractive phases start to last a bit longer at least. Especially as you get closer to 3 and further away from 2. Presto officially crossed the 2.5 mark a week ago, and he’s looking more and more like a real horse every day.

I had left him loose to graze in front of the turnouts and he kept eyeballing Tillie but wasn’t brave enough to go up and investigate until the barn owner came out to fill waters. Clearly humans can protect you from MooDemons. He thanked her for her bodyguard services by standing on the hose.

We’ve been on a mission to get him as attractive as possible before Championships. I mean, there’s nothing you can do about what phase of growth they decide to be in on the day, but you can make some effort to pretty them up a bit. Presto grows so much and so constantly that he can put away hay like nothing I’ve ever seen but still be the scrawniest horse on the farm. It’s like that 6′ tall teenage kid that eats an entire pizza every day for lunch and still weighs a buck ten soaking wet. So he’s been getting pretty much all the hay he can eat (which is a lot), and we started giving him some Amplify, which has actually succeeded in filling him out a little bit.

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Well, ok, not from this angle

I’ve also been ponying him again, and doing little bits of walk and trot up the little hill in the back pasture. He’s always been pretty balanced by nature, but like any horse he definitely does move and look better when he’s a bit stronger. But he’s also a baby, so I’m not willing to do any real “work” with him. We keep it fun and short and light, a couple days a week either ponying on the hill or lunging with lots of transitions for 15 or so minutes, and even just that little bit has been enough to add some topline and butt. If we had real hills and giant pastures here I probably wouldn’t have to do anything at all, but alas… Texas. Raising horses here is a bit different.

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stretching is his favorite
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This horse’s transitions are already more balanced and uphill than my 12yo Prelim horse

I’m really pleased with how he handles heat, too. Having one horse that is an absolute puddle of sadness in the heat (poor Henry) has made me acutely aware of just how opposite Presto is. It takes a lot to make that horse hot, and he has no trouble “working” in the heat at all. He actually seems to like it. Which is good, considering where he lives.

At this 2.5yr mark I remain pretty pleased with how Presto is developing (aside from the fact that he’s 16.1h already, which I am choosing to ignore). His right front still turns out a little bit and he’s still got a small roach back, but both of those things have continued to improve over time and I don’t think either will ultimately matter. He’s not a 4* or 5* type of horse (thank god, I don’t need one of those) but from what I’m seeing so far I think there’s more than enough natural talent for what I could ever possibly want to do. He’s an athlete, for sure, certainly better designed for the job than Henry is. I’m so excited to start riding him a little bit next year and start peeling back more layers to figure out what else we’ve got. The ability is there… will the brain and the heart be there too? Time will tell.

Henry on high alert vs Presto on high alert. They’re the same height. Neck set makes a big difference.

I’m pretty freaking exciting that we’ve managed to secure an appointment at his sire’s farm in France while we’re over there in a couple weeks. I reaaaaally want to see Mighty Magic in person to see how he and Presto compare. Many props to my French friend (and Presto’s spirit animal) Mimi for helping us make all these farm appointments around the Normandy region. Between Burghley’s stallion parade and just day one of the France leg, we’ve already got lots of stallions to see, including but not limited to: Leprince des Bois, Grafenstolz, Jaguar Mail, Quite Easy, Future GravitasUlgar Mail, Namelus RCassitano, and Utrillo. I’ve even made plans to kidnap Mimi for the first day we’re in France so she can babysit come with us.

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his eyes at the cow LOL

Presto’s Championships entry will go in the mail next week, and then it’ll be a game of trying to keep him looking as nice as we can until the end of September. Hopefully that’s possible…

DIY interchangeable helmet pompoms

This will probably come as a surprise to precisely zero of you, but y’all had talked me into a pompom within like an hour of me posting about them last week. However, if there’s one thing that is certain, it’s that I have a real problem with commitment. So instead of buying a new cover with a pompom, or buying one pompom and sewing it onto my existing cover, I planned a way to make them interchangeable, and I marched right over to Etsy and bought five in various colors and sizes.

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Navy, dark green, yellow, rainbow, and a navy/white mix. Originally I had 7 in my cart, so give me a little credit?

Luckily Hillary had ordered the Shire’s Switch It helmet cover when she bought her new skull cap, so I was able to see what method they used for attachment. Changing out pompoms is apparently a popular thing with beanies, but I didn’t trust those attachment methods very much since most involved tying. That didn’t seem particularly stable. But the Switch It cover used metal snaps, which I thought was brilliant. They’re really stable, and easy to attach. So I popped over to Amazon and bought some black (because that’s closest to navy) metal 1″ snaps, which for some reason a pack of 20 was the same price as a pack of 5, so… sold.

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When I was researching pompoms and attachment methods, I did find several tutorials for making your own pompoms, if you’re into that. I am not, considering that I paid $4 per pom. It’s worth $4 to me to not have to deal with that part. Still though, it’s an option if you’re extra crafty. There are also plenty of other attachment methods out there if you don’t like snaps, I just thought this one was the easiest and most streamlined way to change the poms without having to remove the cover. Feel free to pick a different attachment method if you so choose.

$20 worth of pompoms and $5 worth of snaps later, I brought my helmet home, dug out my sewing kit, and planned my method of attack.

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First things first: figuring out which side of the snap I wanted to attach to the helmet cover and which side of the snap I wanted to attach to the poms. I used the helmet cover I already have, mostly because I really love it. I have vents in my skull cap that I like to keep open, so my cover has mesh along the middle to allow for better airflow. It’s also just the right shade of navy to match the rest of my navy, and any navy lover knows how crucial that is. Buying a new cover was not something I wanted to do. After playing around with each way to do the snaps, I decided that I wanted the “outie” of the snap on the helmet. That side sat more flush to the slightly curving surface of the helmet, which seemed to make it more stable, and it was easy to sew onto the mesh. The Switch It helmet cover has the snaps the opposite way, with the “outie” on the pom, but I don’t know that it actually matters… whichever way seems easiest or most stable to you.

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One side of the snap, sewn on the cover.

If you’re very anti-sewing, you could probably use a sturdy craft glue instead. I myself HATE sewing, my mother was really into it and forced me to learn as a kid. While I appreciate her effort to give me life skills, I have never liked it or found it remotely enjoyable. However, even I – someone who sucks at crafting and hates sewing – would say this project is stupid easy. If you can sew on a button, you can do this.

If you’re worried about what the snap looks like if you chose to go without a pom, it’s REALLY hard to see. From 10′ away it would look like a button. But if it really bothers you, you could easily sew some fabric on the top side of a snap and make a removable fabric “button” for when you go pom-less. I was originally going to do that, but the snap is so hard to see that I think it’s not worth my effort.

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I just don’t think anyone is going to notice the snap

Once you get one side of the snap on the cover, all that’s left to do is get the other side of the snap onto the poms. Please be smarter than me and figure out which side of the snap needs to face out on the pompom. I sewed mine on upside down TWICE and had to remove them and flip it over and sew again, cursing myself each time. (I told you I’m not good at crafting)

Pretty much any pom you buy will have strings or yarn on the bottom side. A lot of people use those strings for attaching them to beanies, but since I was sewing a snap onto the bottom, I just cut them off.

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you don’t need these

But the strings are useful to help you find the middle of the bottom, where you need to sew the snap. I put the snap directly over where the strings came out, so I knew I was in the right spot.

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Snap goes here

Once I got the snap situated, I grabbed my needle and thread and went to work. There’s nothing particularly tricky about sewing these on, just make sure that you’re going through the actual fabric of the pom and not just the fur. It’s easy to feel the difference as you’re sewing, since it’s harder to push the needle through the fabric. I also took care as I was pulling each stitch tight to make sure there wasn’t any fur trapped in the loop of the stitch. If there is, you can just comb through the fur with the needle and it’ll come out.

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not the prettiest sewing job but it’s really sturdy!

I only did about 5 stitches per hole of the snap and that was enough to get those suckers attached really well. I pulled on the snaps quite hard and they didn’t budge, so I figure that was sufficient. Feel free to do more than that, but have I mentioned how much I hate sewing? And who really cares how the sewing looks, its the bottom of the pom, so just get it on there tight and be done with it.

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The first two!

Once I got the learning curve down, sewing the snaps on went really fast. It was taking me about 6 minutes per pom. Really easy, y’all. Nothing to it. I loved this project, because it’s about as close to instant gratification as you can get.

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All total, if you started the clock when I was gathering all my supplies and kept it running all the way to the very end when I was taking pictures, I dedicated about an hour and half to this project. And that includes the two that I sewed on backwards the first time, and when I had to stop and chase down the cat to retrieve the navy pompom. So little time (and only about $25) invested, and now I have six possible “looks” for my helmet – no pom, rainbow pom,  navy and white pom, yellow pom, green pom, or navy pom. And uh… I might already be on etsy looking at a couple more. A girl can never have too many poms right?

The best part? THE VIDEO MONTAGE! LOOK AT THEM ALL!

Not saying this is the best DIY I’ve ever attempted, but… it totally is. So easy, and yet so gratifying. I have no regrets about my new snap-on pom life. Pom Club – I have arrived.

12 Tough Questions

Texas situational update: still effin hot. Ground still like concrete. It’s like living in a kiln, so basically… it’s a typical August in Texas. It’s a shitty time to be here. 0/10 I do not recommend. But anyway, things are boring. Well that’s not totally true, my pompoms will be here today and then things will be getting exciting for at least 10 minutes. But until then, we have blog hops to save us. This one is from a Canadian, Alberta Equest, who I am super jealous of right now because I highly doubt it’s 103 degrees there.

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Take that, Canada

Q1:  What hobbies do you have outside of riding?

I read a lot. Like… a lot. I’m already at around 70 books for the year. Thank god for Kindle Unlimited. When the weather isn’t scorching I like riding my bike, too, although usually I only have time for that on weekends.

 

Q2: What is your boarding situation?  Are you happy with it?

I currently board at my vet’s house! So yeah, been pretty happy with that. No boarding situation is ever perfect, but the care here is top-notch and that’s by far the most important thing. It’s also very convenient for vet-related things (perhaps a little too convenient, I’ve had a lot of vet bills in the last few months…). Our boarding situation will be changing again in the fall, which I’m also really excited about.

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Q3:  What’s on your horsey-related wish list?

How long have we got? I want a new breastplate for Henry. I’m really liking the Premier Equine merino wool pads that I bought him, so I want some in white for shows. Presto is dangerously close to outgrowing his bridle. My brown gloves are dying. I kinda want some Ice Vibes for Henry. Presto needs shipping boots. A Back on Track quarter sheet would be nice for winter, even if I can’t even fathom it right now.

 

Q4: What is your most expensive horsey-related item?

The trailer. Hands down. It was almost 10x as much as the horse.

 

Q5: What was the hardest horsey-related decision you’ve had to make lately?

In the spring, trying to figure out what to do when we got a month’s notice that our previous barn was closing. That was stressful to the max.

 

Q6:  What’s something you feel you can’t live without in your routine?

This time of year, Henry’s various array of skin care products. He is a walking mixture of allergies, fungus, and itching. I’ve also become creepily obsessed with his Neue Schule bit, I’m 100% certain they’re crafted at Hogwarts by wizards.

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Q7: What’s on your horsey-related calendar for the rest of the summer?

LOLZ. Survival. That’s all you can do with a Texas summer.

 

Q8:  What is one thing you would willingly change about your horse?

For Henry, I’d make him more uphill. Or just… less downhill. It makes things challenging. That or I’d roll back the clock and make him 7 again, instead of 12. It feels like time is ticking by way too fast. For Presto, it’s hard to say yet. At this point he looks exactly like what I bred for, but who knows what he will be like under saddle. I guess at this point I would say that I’d straighten his right front, which toes out slightly.

 

Q9:  What is something you most want to improve on with you and your horse?

Our showjumping. Surely I can figure that shit out, right? I mean geez, it’s kind of embarrassing that I’ve spent most of my life in h/j yet that’s our worst phase. I have proven that I’m capable of pulling myself together, just… not on a consistent basis.

 

Q10:  What has been your [current] horses most severe injury?

This question freaks me out and makes me want to knock on every wood surface nearby. Henry’s was his saucer fracture in 2016. Presto’s illnesses weren’t an “injury” per se, but still the worst thing I’ve ever experienced as a horse owner and I never want to repeat it or anything like it.

 

Q11:  What do you feel your biggest downfall is as a rider?

I’m definitely my own worst enemy, which I’ve been working on a lot. My mental game was very weak, which took a long time to realize, but it’s improving with a lot of effort. I think it’s going to be a constant ongoing continuous effort for me… changing how you’re wired is no small task, but having the right mindset is so crucial.

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Q12:  What feeds your motivation?

My love for the game, I suppose. I love the sport, I love how hard it is, and I love the “highs” even though they’re few and far between. I love the relationships that we forge with our horses, and how it really does feel like we’re in it together. But I think what I love most is the day in, day out work, the “brick by brick” process that it takes to get there. It’s hard work, it’s sweaty, it’s dirty… there’s nothing glamorous about any of that. Seeing improvement in my horses over time, though, and continuously trying to mold them into the best partner I’m capable of creating… it’s incredibly addicting and so rewarding for me. I’m more proud of my horses than anything else in my life. I want to be better and do better so that they can be better, too. They’re what drives me want to keep trying and learning and working.

Presto is Buddy the Elf

A few years ago there was a blog hop going around about “your horse as a character” – character being from tv or movies, or whatever. It was very clear to me then, and still is, that Henry is April Ludgate. But Presto didn’t exist yet when that made the rounds, and as I was ponying him yesterday, it hit me: Presto is Buddy the Elf. 100%. To a T.

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I made very brief mention of this before, in a post last fall where I said that Henry was the Walter to Presto’s Buddy.

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Presto
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Henry

But that was a passing mention and I never really thought about it further. For some reason yesterday it popped into my head again, out of the blue. I think it’s because Presto has such a sunny disposition towards literally everything. Everything is fun, every day is the best day ever, every horse he meets is his new bess frenn 5ever. He is completely undeterred by the grumpiness or seriousness of those around him, and while he’s a complete idiot, you can’t help but be amused by him. He’s also ADHD as hell, like he’s riding a sugar high 24 freaking 7. He is busybusybusybusybusy. As the barn owner said to me yesterday “He keeps me entertained, that’s for sure.”

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I told a couple people about the Buddy the Elf comparison via text, and we exchanged gifs until my abs hurt from laughing. There is nothing more suitable than the Presto = Buddy the Elf correlation. So I’m bringing back the “your horse as a character” post so Presto can participate.

How Presto greets anyone, horse or human:

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Telling everyone he meets all about himself, even though they never asked and don’t care and are usually walking away from him with their ears pinned as he’s saying this:

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Sitting in his stall during the heat of the day, planning his evening turnout:

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When he gets to turnout:

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10 minutes into turnout, when all the other horses have had enough of his shit.

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When he thinks the food lady is coming with dinner:

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When you tell him it’s not actually dinner time yet:

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Actual feeding time:

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Trying to graze, because his legs are too long for the rest of him:

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When Henry bites him:

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Lunging:

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When he gets in trouble for trying to lunge like that:

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When I tell him tack is not for eating, literally every day:

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After he spends all day tormenting the minis in the stall next to him:

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Every time he violates someone’s personal space (which is all the time):

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Trotting poles:

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Presto, to himself, all the time:

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When I tell him he doesn’t get treats because he’s too mouthy:

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Him giving me his daily brief every time I show up at the barn:

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Presto with literally ANYTHING HE FINDS ON THE GROUND:

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What I’m imagining it will be like when he finally goes into real work:

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And last but not least, Presto to everyone he meets:

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Except, beware… he gives hugs with his mouth.

Back at it… ish?

The VS outbreak that has kept us hunkered down for the past month looks like it’s finally starting to abate (knock on wood). The infection rate in our area has slowed almost to a halt, and most of the quarantined facilities in the county have been released. I’m not yet ready to declare that we’ve escaped unaffected, and I probably won’t be ready to say that until the flies die in like… December… but things aren’t looking nearly as scary as they were a few weeks ago when there were 50 quarantined facilities in our county. And – the vet cleared us for travel! We weren’t under official quarantine since none of our horses have been infected, it was just a “it’s probably best to stay home til this blows over” type of thing, but I wanted to do whatever the vet thought was best.

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Presto’s daily waterboarding

So naturally, the first thing I did was book a jump lesson. On Saturday we borrowed a pole exercise from Sally Cousins as prep, which went ok. Henry was a little rude a few times, trying to take over. Right now I find myself sitting on a cocky horse that is feeling a bit semi-feral from his vacation, full of beans, and REALLY ready to get back to doing something fun. This led to a few discussions about being polite.

Which… basically continued into the next day’s lesson.

The high on Sunday was 102, so in an effort to avoid baking Henry alive, I scheduled a 7:30am lesson. This required getting up at 4, driving to the barn, feeding him, hitching up, loading, driving to Trainer’s, warming up, and being ready to jump at 7:30, so that I could try to be back at the barn by 10:30 before it got blazing hot. It was humid as hell for our lesson, neither of us could breathe, but at least it wasn’t 100 degrees yet.

Literally the only media I got from the whole day. Real good at this blogging thing.

It was one of those lessons where nothing really went right. I should have known I was doomed when I first picked up the trot and he proceeded to prance around the ring like he was A Fancy Horse. He is not a fancy horse. It rarely ends well for me when he pretends to be one. You would think that having very little actual oxygen in the air to breathe (I hate humidity, in case I haven’t said that enough in the past) would take some of the wind out of his sails but no. I chunked my whip pretty quickly, lest I die.

Over fences he was still being rude, and I couldn’t see a distance to save my life. We got to do a lot of jumping and halting or jumping and circling. Struggle bus – we weren’t just on board, we were driving it. We kept the jumps small and the lesson short, since it was the first time back since Coco, and the word “rusty” doesn’t really even begin to cover it. It was shit. Let’s just be honest. It was shit.

So now Henry gets to have a little bit of a rideability boot camp and I need to get myself sorted. Back in gear we go. Trainer and I agreed that I should try the Bevel bit that I bought a while back and never actually used, to see if a touch of leverage might help me out until this creature becomes less feral. I don’t like going harsher in the mouthpiece, so here’s hoping that a teeny bit of leverage will get his attention enough to help me out a bit.

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This little guy, which, knowing Henry, will either piss him off tremendously as though I’ve strapped barbed wire to his head, or he won’t even notice and will continue to flip me the bird. There is no in between.

We also talked about the fall season, which just… isn’t coming together for me. There are two shows in September, which are always sketchy because it’s still usually pretty hot here. Like, it could definitely still be 95-100 degrees by the end of September, and the ground is likely to still be rock hard. I’ll be out of the country for the first event of the season anyway, and the second one is about a week after I get back. That feels like too much of a rush, especially not knowing if it’s still going to be super hot. I can’t run my heat-intolerant horse at Prelim in that weather and I don’t really want to trailer him 12 hours round trip in it either.

I was originally planning on two events in October, a couple weeks apart. Then I found out that the first of those two events isn’t actually offering Prelim anymore. Womp womp. There went that whole plan. The second of those two is Pine Hill, which I’m still game for. It’s closest to home and we ran there successfully in the spring. But other than Pine Hill there are only 3 more events in the area: one only goes through Training, one is the weekend after Pine Hill (not running this horse Prelim two weekends in a row), and the last is at Texas Rose, which my trainer can’t attend and I think is too big/technical/still-scares-the-breeches-off-me-a-little to want to tackle at Prelim alone. I didn’t really want to do that one this year anyway.

So… that season died quick.

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But, it does present a good opportunity to take some time to work on our weakest phase: showjumping. I can take more lessons, and there are plenty of jumper shows that we can hit, and maybe a few combined tests. We can keep schooling the XC to make progress… the shows aren’t a necessary component to improvement in that department. It’s not the most fun or glamorous way to spend the fall season, but it’s probably what’s best. I’m not trying to qualify for anything or make it to any particular show, so I have the luxury of taking the time to work on our weaknesses. May as well take it.

Jumper folk, it looks like I’ll be joining you for a while. I flat out refuse to wear tan breeches anymore though, that’s a step too far. You get casual navy or formal white, there is no in between.

Planning for Burghley-Normandy 2019

Considering that I can be a bit unorganized and a natural procrastinator, I freaking love planning these horsey Europe trips that have become a thing. Our 2015 trip required very little planning on my part, as we mostly just tagged along with someone else, but our 2017 trip was solidly on my shoulders. And I was kind of proud of myself for that one, I felt like we crammed a lot into a week. We did, really, covering 4 different countries, thousands of miles in a car, attending Bundeschampionate, and managing to see dozens of stallions. It was great. Naturally though, this time we’re upping the ante even more, fitting in a 5* event, a young event horse championship, a stallion show, a foal show, two countries, and at least 4-5 farm visits. In a week.

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My head has been spinning a little bit, trying to figure out the logistics of all this, but it can definitely be done. There are planes, trains, and automobiles (and possibly even boats and buses) involved. This is definitely not a leisurely vacation… we’re on a schedule. I mean, who wants their vacations to be leisurely, anyway? So many ponies to see, so little time.

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The Burghley side of the trip is the easiest. Well, ok… I’ve proven in the past that I’m a little bit dumb about trains so hopefully we don’t get lost on the first morning. We go from Gatwick airport to St Pancras in London, walk across the street to King’s Cross, and then get on another train to Peterborough. Bobby is meeting us at King’s Cross, so lord only knows what kind of shenanigans will ensue after that. Hopefully we at least make it to our Peterborough apartment.

Luxury City Centre Apartment with Parking
someone explain the colored lighting, it looks like mardi gras up in there

We have to take the train back and forth from Peterborough to Stamford every day to get to Burghley, only about a 10-15 minute ride, then walk about a mile from the train station into the show grounds. There will be a lot of walking during these first few days (add that to the list of “types of transportation” we’re implementing), which is good since we’ve already plotted out all the ice cream shops near our apartment and made plans to visit the fudge vendor and cheese vendor at Burghley. Priorities.

The Burghley days themselves are relatively simple… day 1 is for shopping, watching dressage warmup, and sneaking some peeks at the XC course. Day 2 is the young event horse finals and the stallion show. Or I guess most people will be over in the other ring watching dressage but ugh no thanks. We’ll be watching the baby horses instead (like any self-respecting psychopath, I have already looked up the pedigrees of all the entrants). Day 3 is XC day! They posted teaser drone footage of the course and it’s basically a video montage of all the shit I would never jump in my entire life, because while I’m crazy, I don’t think I’m that crazy. But hey I can’t wait to watch a bunch of other lunatics jump it. There are so many Americans entered this year!

So that half of our trip is pretty much already done and set. We’ve got plane tickets, train tickets, Burghley tickets, and the apartment is paid for. We’re skipping Burghley stadium day and instead using it as our travel day instead. We go from Peterborough back to London, and then across to France to start the second leg of our trip. That will also be when we part ways with Bobby and he goes home. Bye Felicia. I haven’t quite decided exactly how we want to get across yet… still weighing all the options and reading all the fine print and comparing costs. We’re only 2.5 weeks out at this point so, uh, clock is ticking. I have to wonder though, as I’m reading through details about documentation requirements, how the hell did people plan trips like this before the internet? I would have been screwed trying to do this back then.

Anyway, the following 2.5 days will be spent driving around the Normandy area of France, looking at horses. We’ve got 4-6 stallion stations to visit, and a foal show lined up to attend with our friend Milena. I’m really really REALLY hoping to go meet Mighty Magic this time, although I haven’t heard back from his owners yet. Y’all know I’m not above a little bit of friendly stalking.

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gonna try not to get arrested in France, but I make no promises

The France side of things is definitely still a bit up in the air as far as schedule goes. I have to figure that out and eventually look at hotels in whatever random middle-of-nowhere places we might end up at the end of the day. My goal is to make at least one of those overnight stays happen in a castle. Because CASTLES. This part of the trip might be a little bit more “by the seat of the pants” depending on when we can go look at all these stallions. Ultimately though, it’s pretty much just 3 days driving around the Normandy region, looking at horses. I can think of worse ways to spend 3 days, even if the schedule-obsessed side of me gets a little anxious about the idea of not having every hour mapped out in advance.

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Then there are all the other little things that still need to be done, like deciding what to pack (England in September… LOL), notifying my phone carrier and credit card, figuring out where I want to do the money exchanges, etc etc. Let’s not even talk about the Burghley trade fair, which is rumored to be the best shopping of any 5*. I’m taking a relatively small suitcase so that I hopefully can’t get myself into too much trouble, although I do have my eye on a couple things that are cheaper there than here.

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I have another week or so to get all this stuff ironed out, then I’m barnsitting for a week, then we leave a couple days later. Which also means I have to figure out some show entries before I leave, because the fall season starts while I’m gone and barrels right into full swing as soon as I’m back. Things are about to get a lot busier around here! (thank goodness, I’m so bored y’all)

What the FEH

Tuesday was opening day for FEH Championships! I have not sent in my entry yet, because I’m not really that into tempting fate, but I did notice there are a lot of changes this year compared to last. Have I ever mentioned how convenient it is that they got a Central championship the exact same year that I had a horse at the right age to start participating in FEH? We’ll pretend that was on purpose. Thanks everyone.

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Last year the show was at Texas Rose, a really nice venue, but a bit far from me at 4 hours each way. Granted, this is Texas… everything is far. We drove up the day before and stayed overnight. But this year the show is being held at Haras Hacienda, the Real Fancy place where Presto did his qualifier. It cuts my drive in half, since Haras is only 2 hours each way. That technically makes it possible to just haul in for the day, rather than have to come the day before and stay overnight. Which is a good thing, since prices went up this year.

USEA cut some of their FEH funding this year, so the increased fees are not a surprise. Entry fee plus starter fees for central Championships are now $210 for yearlings and 2yo’s, $285 for 3yo’s, and $310 for 4yo’s. As much or more than a regular horse trial entry fee. My last Prelim entry was $280, for example. The costs associated with running the FEH Championship are crazy, and the number of competitors isn’t high enough to cover it, so I completely understand the increase in fees. I do wonder if it will deter people from participating in the program altogether, though. There’s no easy solution to that one. It’s tough to get sponsorship for stuff like this in America, where we’d rather go import horses than buy (and promote) what’s being bred and raised here.

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By hauling in for the day and working out of the trailer, I’d only have to pay a $30 grounds fee as opposed to a $65 day stall or $85 overnight stall plus $25 muck fee. It will make for an early morning and long day for both of us, but we’ve done it before. It’s also on a Thursday which is kind of a bummer because it means a day off of work. Between the entry fee and the grounds fee plus a $35 health certificate and the $50 handler fee (um, yes, you can bet your sweet ass I’m hiring Martin again, best decision ever) it’s shaping up to be an expensive 5 minute in-hand class. Especially for a horse that isn’t for sale or destined to be a FEH superstar. But, hey… he’s only 2 once, right?

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Presto is actually looking pretty good right now, despite being in yet another growth spurt. The barn owner has been trying real hard to get his ribs covered a bit more, and she’s done as good a job as I think is possible short of tubing lard directly into his stomach (… is that an option? Asking for a friend…). The fact that he’s in a not-that-ugly stage makes me nervous that he’s gonna go full blown Giramoollamapaloosa right before Championships, because he rarely stays looking good for long.

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I swear we feed him

At this point now we just have to keep him in one piece and try to minimize the various scrapes and bumps that are neverending. He constantly looks like he lost a fight with a weedwhacker.

I also have to decide which browband to show him in – his green and navy Boy o Boy Bridleworks or his swoopy spiked punk rock one from Dark Jewel Designs. His bridle is kind of barely fitting him these days, especially in the crown area, and he’s already pushing the limits of the Boy o Boy browband (which is freaking HORSE SIZE, what the hell, Presto!). The top half of his head is huge, and it’s certainly not because he has a big brain.

I also noticed after I snapped the browband pictures that in the month or two since I last put his bridle on him, he’s grown even more, and I need to lower everything a couple holes again. So uh, ignore that part. How is his head even still growing? It’s big enough.

Which browband should he wear for FEH champs? I’m on the fence.

Blog Hop: Favorite and Least Favorite jumps

If you spend any amount of time walking courses with other people, it seems like everyone has certain fences they like and certain fences they don’t like. Sometimes there’s a good reason for it, like perhaps you tried to stick your face through a rolltop once or you fell in a ditch and thought they may as well just go ahead and bury you in there. Other times there doesn’t have to be a real reason, it’s just a natural aversion.

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If you don’t have a natural aversion to this thing then I hate to break it to you but you’re not right in the head. Also I’m definitely gonna stand in this thing at Burghley and I’m definitely gonna need therapy afterwards.

Bobby, for instance, hates Trakehners. He can’t even look at one. Weldon’s Wall’s too. Basically anything with a ditch you can end up in, he’s not on board with it… can’t say as I blame him. I think he actually ended up in a ditch once, but I don’t remember the whole story.

If you walk the course with me, you’ll notice there are certain things I really don’t make eye contact with. While I don’t mind trakehners, like Bobby I really don’t like Weldon’s Walls. Horses tend to jump them great, but there’s something about combination of the width, the height, and the depth that has me wanting to vomit.

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It helps a lot if you miss the distance *heavy fucking sarcasm*

The other thing that I hate the most, always, unequivocally, are the big square tables. Especially with a square front edge. I can’t help it, I always imagine a horse catching a knee and flipping over it. Also they tend to be stupid wide, which my stomach still has a bit of trouble processing. For some reason adding brush to the top of it does make me like it more though, hoping it will help encourage a little more lift, even though it makes it look even Stupid-er Big-ger than it already was.

they were supposed to take the brush out for Prelim but they didn’t, which made me happy

Those aren’t the most logical jumps to hate, really. Horses tend to jump them both really well, and you can just keep galloping forward to both and jump them out of stride. There’s nothing technical or tricky about either of them. My brain knows this, but it still doesn’t stop me from hating them. Logic doesn’t apply.

Also not the biggest fan of upbanks after I tried to kill myself on one at Chatt. I feel like pretty much everyone has a “falling up the bank” story sooner or later. I would rather jump down a bank a few dozen times than jump up it once, to be honest. I still clearly remember the show when there were 3, count em THREE, upbanks on course. Shudder.

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I have upbank PTSD

For stadium, I cringe hard every time I see a big square oxer as the first fence, especially if it’s off of a long approach. Come on guys, I have a hard enough time with stadium already, throw me a bone.

On the flip side, there are certain jumps that I really love, also probably for no real logical reason. You can make a rolltop as big and wide as you want, and I’ll still jump it. I dunno why but that nice curved top just seems so inviting – in contrast to the sharp ugly death edge of a square table.

I also really like anything with a dropped landing.

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SIGN ME UP

If the ground falls away quickly on the landing side, or if the landing side is significantly lower than the take-off side, I love it. I have no actual reason for this except that I think they’re are super fun. It’s like WHEEEEE jumping down into the abyss. Extra bonus points if you’re landing in water, because splashing. Duh. Same goes for jumps IN the water.

I like brush too, because I can say to myself “the brush doesn’t really count” and ta-da, the jump is instantly smaller.

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What do I like in stadium? I dunno, whichever one is the last freaking jump.

What about you? What types of fences do you love, and which ones do you want to burn to the ground (not that I’ve ever actually imagined doing that to a Weldon’s Wall or anything…)? H/J people, this totally applies to you, too. Let’s talk about how not logical our brains are!

Pom Club

Eventers – we are an eclectic bunch. Spend a day standing out in cross country warmup and you’ll see every color of the rainbow, sometimes all on one horse, and probably at least a little bit of glitter. Coming from h/j-land it took a little while for my eyeballs to get used to this, but now I can’t help but appreciate it. I’m a firm believer in the “this is supposed to be fun” aspect of horse showing, and if decking yourself out in head to toe hot pink for XC makes you even a little bit happier, I say go for it. It might not be to my own personal taste, but you have to appreciate the individuality of it, especially in a sport that is otherwise so traditional and boring. Plus, like… if we’re being forced to do dressage and stadium, I fully believe that we’ve earned the right to wear whatever the fuck we want when we get to cross country and are galloping at solid fences.

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I’m a much more boring person when it comes to color, with a deeply ingrained love of navy, but I’ve tried to inject at least a modicum of fun into it. Like, you know… little bits of yellow. Give me some credit, that’s a lot for an aesthetically dull person. Nothing makes my heart happier than a nice crisp, clean, contrasting navy and white. Just like half of the entire eventing population these days, apparently. So I added the little touches of yellow to at least try to be 5% different from the masses.

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Believe it or not there are 8 little bits of yellow in this ensemble

While I don’t think I’ll ever break from my love of a relatively sedate color scheme (Presto’s colors are navy and dark green, so…), one “out there” thing that I’ve always secretly kind of liked are pompoms on XC helmet covers. I don’t know why, I can’t even explain it, but there’s just something about a pompom that says “I’m here to party”. They were pretty popular way back in the day, and while they never really seemed to go out of style in the UK, you don’t see them here very much anymore.

I’ve always kind of thought that there are two unspoken rules for pompom wearing:

1) you must be under the age of 15.

or

2) you must be a mothafuckin badass.

I have a few friends that rock the Pom and they are most decidedly the latter. They’re are definitely 100% here to party AND they don’t give a flying fuck what anyone thinks. They’re serious about what they’re doing, of course, but they never take themselves too seriously. Those are the people I want to hang out with, almost without fail. Is it the Pom that does it, or is that particular personality type just attracted to the Pom? Is there a club that I don’t know about? How do I apply for membership? Is the first rule of Pom Club that you can’t talk about Pom Club?

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I admittedly have serious doubts about whether or not I am cool enough to rock the Pom. A unicorn stock tie, sure. No one can really see that. But a pompom… that’s some next level shit. Everyone can see it. From real far away. You gotta be super secure about your badassery as a person if you’re gonna rock one of those as an adult, because there is nothing subtle about it. But lately I’ve stared with increasing jealously at other people’s Poms, and blurted out a weird and I’m sure exceedingly creepy-sounding “I LOVE YOUR POMPOM” anytime I see someone wearing one.

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I want to be in whatever club she’s in
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her too
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this lady is going face first into the water and she STILL looks like a badass
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these kids are all 2000% cooler than I am

Although I’m still waffling on a bit on whether or not I can actually pull it off, Trainer did grant me official permission to wear the Pom. I have it in writing, so is that enough to get me into Pom Club or do I need more references?

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And THEN, once you decide that you ARE brave enough to let your freak flag fly and wear the Pom, how do you pick one? Do you go for a small one or a big one? A yarn one or a fur one? How the hell do you pick a color?

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They even make helmet covers with changeable poms, so you can switch it around depending on your mood, or even take it off entirely if you wuss out. This is the most attractive option to me, although they all come in color sets and I don’t like any of the sets. Still, I’m sure the idea could be easily modified for a DIY version of changeable poms with my existing helmet cover.

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I’m not very cool, but am I cool enough to rock the Pom? I don’t know. Jury’s still out. But, um… anyone know where I can find a Pom Club application?

Older

Well guys, if I still did the hunters I’d officially be an older amateur today. Ok USEF does ages differently, not on actual birthday, but still. Luckily eventing gives it’s age groups way better titles, and on different ages, so I’m still a few years away from my “Master” title. Which, btw, seriously h/j y’all should adopt our age group terminology, MASTER sounds awesome. Anyway, its a weird age. I’m now closer to 40 than I am to 30. I’ve been an adult for half my life. That’s baffling to me, because sometimes I still find myself looking around for an actual adult.

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still my favorite meme

I’m also lining up some relatively life-altering plans at the moment, ones that will change my horse situation and my living situation alike. It’s a really good opportunity for me, and I think will help lead to a lot more “adultier” things down the road, especially from the financial aspect. It’s really exciting, we’ll talk about it eventually. Well ok it’s a little overwhelming and daunting right now, because there’s a lot to do, but… it’ll be good. I’m going to be cleaning out my entire house over the next couple months, so brace yourselves for lots of stuff for sale or giveaway.

Since it’s Monday, that means a work day for me. It’s not even fun to play hooky on your birthday and go do horse things when it’s hotter than the 7th circle of hell.

The boys are conveniently located near the 110 sitting just east of Austin

So, no real riding today, but I’m definitely at least going to go give the boys some treats (I’ve been saving their Snacks 5th Avenchew donuts for a special occasion, why not today?) and hose them off. August in Texas is really boring.

I did get to spend lots of time at the barn this weekend though, so that counts for something. I got there early so that it was… slightly less hot… and rode Henry, gave baths, doctored Presto’s nasty ass (literally), and gave more baths.

Lots of baths.

Presto’s hematoma is (KNOCK ON WOOD) looking good. We were thinking at the end of last week that we might have to put a drain in, but the beauty of living on the vet’s property is that he can walk out to the barn every morning and make sure the little cut is still open, and massage the fluid out. Presto doesn’t seem to care, so it only takes a minute. He’s had to reopen it a couple times, but every day there is less and less fluid, so that’s a good sign. I wash it every day and massage more fluid out myself, which is relatively satisfying. The hematoma is only about the size of a fist now.

Last week I put some pebbles into plastic jugs and hung them in his stall as toys. I wasn’t sure he’d play with them, since he totally ignored a jolly ball, but boy oh boy. He stands there for hours and shakes and bites and tosses those things. I figured putting pebbles in there might make them loud enough for him to actually like them, since he’s into MAXIMUM CHAOS (man, I really missed a naming opportunity there…) and I was right.

Thank goodness you can’t really hear them that well over the noise of the fans or the barn owner might want to kill me by now. It’s kept him busy though on these hot afternoons when he’s stuck inside. I might need to keep collecting jugs though, because I have a feeling he’ll destroy them all relatively quickly. And I did end up having to tie them a bit lower, because he learned how to throw them over the stall wall and scare the shit out of the minis in the stall next to him. I think he likes to watch them scatter.

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Two days in

Henry did some flatwork on Saturday and got to jump a little on Sunday, plus he consumed an entire bag of carrots in 2 days. He’s happy. He’s really eager to work and feels fantastic, so I’m kind of itching to get back to our regular schedule. But… he’s also not handling this extreme heat very well in the afternoons/evenings, so we’ll keep waiting to actually do anything “for real”. I’m ready to fast forward to September.

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I hope it’s less hot wherever you are!