Mid-WEG thoughts

Now that I’ve finished watching the eventing XC and showjumping in it’s entirety (ok, mostly, because round after round of stadium makes my eyes bleed), I have a few thoughts about WEG so far.

First, that endurance debacle was just WOW. Watching that unfold on Ahmed al Hammadi’s page was more dramatic than any soap opera you could imagine. It was just a shitshow from start to finish in every single possible way. However, I am a big fan of the meme that’s going around of the Frenchman flipping the officials the bird. It makes me chuckle.

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After that whole thing, my hopes were not very high for the eventing. Especially with a hurricane on the way. I am not the biggest Tryon/Bellissimo fan anyway, so I didn’t have a lot of faith. I have to admit though, I think they pulled it off as well as they possibly could have. The footing ended up being excellent – even on Monday after all that rain, the stadium ring looked fantastic. The XC looked better than I thought it would, and I liked that the mistakes generally resulted in runouts and refusals rather than falls. That’s ideal. I still don’t like CMP’s tendency to make everything look like a freaking miniature golf course (bees, squirrels, turtles, waterfalls, fountains mushrooms, cantering under/through construction equipment… kinda makes me gag) but the result was a good one and I can’t begrudge him that.

I was shocked at how many problems the little waterfalls caused. Some really steady horses and veteran riders fell victim to trouble there. Wanna take bets on how many people spent the plane ride home trying to figure out how to finagle their own waterfall bank at home?

The horse that ended up jumping down into the ditch in front of the Weldons Wall – THAT IS MY NIGHTMARE.

And last but not least for the XC stuff: I was really wowed by Ingrid, Astier, and Sam Watson’s rides in particular. They’re all so smooth, so bold, so balanced, and as a result… so fast. They all did an impeccable job of just staying in the middle, keeping their leg on, and not getting in the horse’s way. No yanking, no big changes to the rhythm. It made everything look effortless and easy. I must have watched the full replay of Ingrid’s ride at least 5 times by now. It’s poetry in motion. I have always been a bit of a fangirl when it comes to Ingrid, and she did not disappoint.

Having the last rail in showjumping was a heartbreaker for Ingrid, but I like Ros Canter a lot too, so I’m not sad that she won. Her horse was jumping fantastically on Monday and Ros had ice in her veins.

I’m bummed for the US team, but not super surprised. But CAN WE TALK ABOUT JAPAN?!?!? WOW!

Watching a top level rider epically miss a distance will never stop making me feel a tiny bit better about myself, even if that makes me a bad person.

Also bummed that the dressage freestyle got cancelled, but how could you not be impressed with Isabell Werth and Bella Rose? A chestnut mare, with a French AngloArab for a damsire. How about THAT? The average blood percentage for the dressage horses is somewhere around 35%, but Bella Rose has 49%. And no Donnerhall or Rubenstein. That’s pretty rare these days!

Not to mention their all female podium – two of which were on mares. Suck on that, boys.  We were darn close to an all female podium in eventing too, until Sarah Ennis’ rail. Heh. Heheheheheh.

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As soon as the Games are totally done I’ll do another post about the breeding of the horses in each of the main 3 sports, along with blood percentages and all that fun stuff. For now… on to the jumping!

Intolerance Testing by Affordable Pet Test + GIVEAWAY

So, I’m not sure if y’all know this, but Henry is a delicate flower. Shocking, I know. If you so much as look at him wrong he’ll end up with a bald spot or a swollen bump. Summer (or should I qualify that as “Texas Summer”, which is like mid April to mid October) is an especially hard time of year for him. He has a harder time breathing in the heat and humidity, and various plants or things in the air seem to set him off fairly regularly. He never has any kind of extreme reactions, just a more mild persistence with the occasional extra flair. Skin funk, hair falling out, major itchiness, goopy eyes, some random bumps or raised skin, etc. I’ve always kind of been curious about what all could be bothering him, but none of his reactions have ever seemed severe enough to pursue the more invasive intradermal testing. When I saw Affordable Pet Testing, though… I was intrigued.

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APT uses bioresonance testing on hair samples from your animal. They’ve been doing cats, dogs, and humans for a while but this year expanded to offer testing for horses as well. Basically you yank out a little chunk of hair, send it in, and they test it for intolerances to 63 different food items, 28 environmental items, 31 nutritional deficiencies, and 8 heavy metals. Full list here.

Notice that I said “intolerances” and not allergies. They’re pretty clear about this in all of their disclaimers, saying:

As a reminder, 5 Strands® Affordable Pet Testing only tests for non-IgE mediated reactions or “intolerances.” This type of reaction may have a delayed onset with symptoms appearing several hours or days after ingestion or exposure and lasting a longer period of time.

IgE (Immunoglobulin E) allergies, which are caused by the body’s immune system, are NOT measured by 5 Strands® Affordable Pet Testing. These reactions occur within minutes of ingestion or exposure and are diagnosed through a blood test or skin prick test by veterinarians.

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wants to know if “dressage” and “mom’s bullshit” count as official intolerances

I’m not totally sold on the validity of this kind of thing, but figured “why the heck not” and sent Henry’s sample in. They emailed me when they received it, and then I had the results back in my inbox 4 days later. All told it was about a week from when I put in the mailbox to when I had the results.

The first attached document was the “How to Interpret the Results” page. It explained the three different levels that show up on the various results pages:

Level 3 (Stop)
Level 3 intolerances are considered items that the body registered an imbalance to and may be very likely to cause noticeable symptoms. Reactions may show up as inflammation, digestive issues, skin problems, fatigue, etc. Level 3 items should be eliminated from the diet. Your main focus should be on level 3 items first.
Level 2 (Slow down)
Level 2 intolerances are items that the body has registered an imbalance to that may result in reactions such as itchy skin, runny nose, watery eyes, etc. Level 2 items should be avoided or reduced at least for a short period of time.
Level 1 (Be aware)
Level 1 intolerances are items that the body registered a low level imbalance. While there may be no noticeable symptoms, they may potentially cause issues with ingestion or exposure over time.

First up, the heavy metals test.

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I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure what to make of this. Seems like everyone is intolerant of Uranium, right??? I kinda wish they explained this one in more detail, because I really don’t know what to do with this information.

After that was the deficiencies.

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I’ve been pretty meticulous and intentional with Henry’s diet, although I can see his lysine being a bit low due to the type of forage we have here. The rest… I dunno. I’ll have to look at it more closely.

Next up was the food intolerances, which literally made me laugh out loud when I opened the document. Out of 63 food items, he had some level of intolerance to 22 of them. Honestly, that sounds about right. HairTestFoodIntolerances

Granted, most of this is stuff he would never eat anyway… not really sure how they decided on some of these things on the test, they seem a bit random. Except, ya know… SUGAR… and MOLASSES… and CORN… and BERMUDA GRASS. He’s on a low-sugar, no-corn feed, but  pretty much all we have in Texas is coastal bermuda hay. That’s what his pasture is, too. Not much I can do about that. He does get alfalfa as well, but clearly I’m not going to feed him only alfalfa. He hates apples, so that one isn’t an issue at least.

Last up was the environmental factors, which is the part I was most interested in. Out of 28 possibilities, he tested with an intolerance to 7 of them. Honestly I kind of expected more.

HairTestEnvironmental

Mosquitoes and mold are easy to believe, I’ve seen those reactions in him before. But… leather? Rubber? Whaaaaa? Clearly the horse has leather on him daily, and I have to say I’ve never noticed any specific issues. Granted… I don’t know how I would necessarily tell, unless he had some kind of extreme reaction, which intolerances don’t generally create.

The test results are definitely interesting, although I’m still kind of left wondering what to do with this information. How valid is it? How much of an impact would any of it have on him? How would I really change any of this? I don’t know. I’m still thinking about it and talking to my vet about it. If I lived in an area where I had easy access to another type of hay, I’d be tempted to change him over for a couple months and see if I noticed any change. That’s pretty much impossible though, so… again… not totally sure what to do with all of this. I can’t really put the horse in a mold, bermuda, and mosquito free environment… welcome to Texas!

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Horse, I just don’t know what to think of you sometimes.

But, while I’m sitting over here stewing over Henry’s results, Affordable Pet Testing has been kind enough to offer a free test to one of my readers – a $189 value! To enter here, leave a comment on this post (be sure that you leave a link or an email so I have some way to contact you if you win). I’ll also be running the giveaway on Instagram, so check out my post there for more ways to enter! Winner will be chosen on 9/24.

 

Long Yearling

Guess who turned 18 months old yesterday, and thus is officially a “long yearling”?!?

this crazy little beast

Said kiddo is also in the middle of a growth spurt again (or should I just say “still”, because I don’t actually think he’s stopped growing since April). You should see how much hay he can put away in a day. It’s been raining a lot here, so they’ve been stalled at night, and I’ve been throwing him like half a bale of hay at dinner every night. There’s never even so much as a speck left by the next morning. It’s like a teenage boy, hoovering food in mass quantities yet still looking scrawny.

at least the grass is back!

The good news is that most of his gross sunbleaching from the summer has finally shed out and he’s a relatively normal color again. The bad news is that he’s rapidly getting hairy. I swear when I left on Saturday, both boys were just a little hairy on the top of their rumps. When I got there Sunday they both looked like they were well on their way to full winter coats. And they also both looked hot, since it’s still 90 degrees. Henry might find himself body clipped soon, but I’m just hoping that Presto doesn’t get much hairier in the next couple weeks before we go to championships. The only thing worse than a yearling is a hairy yearling.

I’m kind of excited about him being a long yearling though. It means he’s closer to being a 2yo than a 1yo. Closer to being a real horse. Closer to being able to do more. Lately we’ve been working on the concepts of ground tying and standing at the mounting block – two things that require immobility, which is probably the hardest thing for a distractable baby brain.

The mounting block stuff, he’s pretty good at. I guess it’s interesting (and brief) enough to engage his brain. The ground tying has had mixed success. He’s pretty good until something else catches his eye, and then it’s definitely an “ooo shiny!” moment in whatever direction has caught his attention. It’s getting better though. If there’s nothing else exciting going on, he stands pretty well. As long as I’m relatively close to him, anyway. Small victories.

Still though, for a yearling (especially still being a colt), he’s pretty darn good. The main barn worker even said the other day that he’s one of the best behaved horses in the barn. I’ll definitely take that compliment, considering that aside from my two, the barn consists only of a bunch of older trail and pleasure horses.

Oh and yes, I will continue celebrating Presto’s half birthdays at least until he’s 3. Time moves so slowly when you’re waiting for them to grow up, I’ve got to entertain myself somehow.

It’s in the blood: WEG edition

If you’ve read this blog more than like… once before, it’s probably no secret that I am a huge nerd about all things breeding related. I tend to watch every live stream with a pedigree database open in another window, looking up every horse. For WEG I decided to take it a few hundred steps farther and make an actual spreadsheet, so I could see all the horses together and pull some stats. It’s possible that I spent far too many hours doing this, but I regret nothing.

These stats are for just the eventing horses at WEG. I threw out the couple of horses that I could not find any reliable damline information on, lest they skew things incorrectly – they aren’t included in any stats. That left us with a field of 81.

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Why it’s important to look at the pedigree and not the registry

Irish Sporthorse and Selle Francais are the most represented breed registries with 14 horses each. Of the 14 Irish horses, only 5 of these are of “traditional” Irish breeding – ie some mix of Irish Draught and Thoroughbred, with no European warmblood. One is WB x TB with no traditional Irish blood, leaving the remaining 8 to be some mixture of ID/ISH x TB x WB.

On the flip side, all 14 of the Selle Francais registered horses have Selle Francais blood, with only 3 of those not being completely of French descent.

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Selle Francais Qorry Blue d’Argouges

Several of the same stallions show up repeatedly throughout the field

Heraldik xx shows up in the pedigree of four different horses, three times as the sire (the most of any in the field) and once as the damsire.

Contender shows up five times: four times as the sire’s sire and once as the sire’s grandsire. His son Contendro is the sire of 2 horses and the sire’s sire of one.

Irco Marco shows up 4 times, two of which are through his son Irco Mena.

Diamant de Semilly, Jaguar Mail, and Jumbo are represented by two direct offspring each.

Quidam de Revel and Landgraf show up somewhere in the first four generations a remarkable 6 times each. Ramiro shows up 5 times in the same span.

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Chipmunk FRH, the leader after day 1 of dressage, is by Contendro. He was also a Bundeschampionate winner.

Thoroughbred/Arab/AA blood is still important

The average “blood” percentage for the WEG field is 62% (highest – 100%, lowest – 27%).

72% of the field has at least 50% blood.

37% (30 horses) have at least one FULL thoroughbred parent.

Of those 30 horses, 17 are F1 crosses between a WB and a TB. 7 have the thoroughbred parent as the sire, and 10 have the thoroughbred parent as the dam.

Five horses are full thoroughbred.

The most represented American thoroughbred is Danzig, showing up in the first 4 generations in 5 different horses. Sir Gaylord and Nijinsky also make multiple appearances.

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Henri Z, by Heraldik xx 

The influence of the registries known to produce mostly showjumpers is evident

47% have Holsteiner blood in the first 4 generations of their pedigree.

41% have Selle Francais in the first 4 generations of their pedigree.

19% have both Holsteiner AND Selle Francais in the first 4 generations.

Joris Vanspringel - (BEL)
BWP-registered Imperial van de Holtakkers is by SF stallion Quidam de Revel out of a Holsteiner damline going back to Landgraf and Ramiro.

The FEI Young Horse classes have a pretty high success rate

51% of the field (42 horses) competed in FEI Young horse classes – ie 1* for 6yo’s and/or 2* for 7yo’s. Of those, 28 horses (so 34% of the entire field) competed at the World Young Event Horse Championships at Lion d’Angers.

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Toledo de Kerser, 2nd in the 7yo World Championships at Lion d’Angers 2* in 2014

My general takeaways:

The average blood percentage is lower than I would have thought. I want to break down a “real” top level event like Burghley or Badminton… I have a feeling the average blood percentage would be higher for an event like that.

Having been a pedigree stalker for a long time, none of the stallions that show up over and over again are surprising to me. However, I was a little surprised at the strong showing from the Selle Francais in general. There are more than I thought.

The F1 cross of a warmblood stallion to a TB mare has kind of gotten a bad rap in this country for being a lower quality cross, but these stats show that it certainly can and does work when it comes to breeding event horses. 

The fact that Holsteiner blood shows up in the first 4 generations of almost half the field yet only 6 of the horses are actually registered Holsteiner shows how important these bloodlines have been across a wide variety of warmblood registries.

Lastly, despite the fact that some of us may wince at the idea of a 6yo competing 1* or a 7yo competing 2*, clearly it works when it comes to producing upper level horses. Over half of these horses have come up through that path and continued up the levels to find success. And 1/3 of them having competed at Lion d’Angers – that’s a big chunk!

If anyone is actually still reading by this point… what are your takeaways from this? Anything surprising?

The Horse You Bought

I’ve really been enjoying this blog hop topic, started by Cathryn at Two and Half Horses. Reading everyone else’s posts, seeing what their horses looked like when they bought them compared to where they are now… who doesn’t love progression stories?

With Presto, there isn’t much of a story. The horse I bought was in this format:

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Technically Presto was a lil’ sperm that was frozen in France, imported, stored here for a few years, then shipped to Texas, thawed out, and put into my mare. I even got to see the swimmers under the microscope when they were thawed. Who knows, maybe one of the ones I saw was him. Pretty weird little fairy tale, right? Now THAT is a sight unseen horse purchase.

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that moment when your completely insane decisions are 100% worth it, because omg he was cute

We’ve been through way more than is normal in the past 18 months (omg guys he’s just a few days away from being 18 months old, can you believe it???) but he is so much freakin fun. Even when he’s having a tantrum. I remain quite pleased with how he’s maturing, despite the fact that he looks like a llama/giraffe/moose hybrid about 90% of the time. I see a nice horse in there, and I hope I’m right.

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yesterday afternoon – almost 18 months!

Of course, Henry’s story is probably fairly well-known, at least partly, to most of you by now. He too was a sight-unseen purchase, but at least he actually existed when I bought him. I had kind of been looking (online, via facebook) at a horse at a farm in Arkansas, when the owner told me about another gelding that she had available for even cheaper. I was looking for a resale project, so cheap was important. This one had been sitting in the field for about a year, and had been a bit brain-fried before that, but before that he had done a hunter show once. Believe it or not, that made him less green than most of my horses have been. His name was Jerry, and he was a 6yo TB. It just so happened that a friend of mine from Dallas was headed up that exact farm that very afternoon to pick up a mare that she had bought, and the owner said that if Jerry went on the trailer with the mare, he was mine for $900. All I had seen at that point was a few pictures and a short video, but I liked his pedigree (I’ve always had the best luck with the Danzig line) and I just had a good feeling about him.

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perfect photo to purchase a horse off of, don’t you think?

I sent the money over to her via Paypal, and she rushed him to the vet to get a current coggins, then he essentially unloaded from her trailer and onto my friends trailer, to make the trek to Texas. My friend brought him to her farm, and I drove up the next day from Austin to get him. Quickest, most impulsive, least-strings-attached horse purchase ever. Also not at all the way that I would recommend anyone else buy a horse.

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Henry, Day 1.

I really didn’t even know what he looked like until I got him home that night and pulled his blanket off. He was SO FAT, and he was hairy and scruffy, but he seemed intelligent and had a good brain. Jerry soon became Henry… new start, new name. The first few rides showed me that he was very willing, but indeed seemed pretty brain-fried. It took months for me to really be able to put my leg on him without him exploding, and I ended up riding him in a hackamore for a while to basically “start over” with the concept of a bit, since he wanted to constantly curl up nose-to-chest at any hint of contact. He was always very honest though, and wanted to do his job.

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a few months later at a TB show

We started in the jumpers, working up to 3′. Then we ended up at a barn with an eventing trainer, who convinced us (didn’t take much arm-twisting, I’ll be honest) to come out with them for an XC schooling day. From there, it was all over. Henry LOVED cross country, and although I had evented for a few years in the early 2000’s, I had kind of forgotten how great it was until I found myself sitting on this horse. We did a little local eventing derby that fall, which he won by being the only horse with a clean XC, and then promptly signed up for our first horse trial at BN.

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Beginner Novice Henry at his first event

Everything was really a foregone conclusion from there. We both loved this game, and he was pretty good at it (well, the dressage part was sketchy on a horse that still wasn’t super keen about leg or contact – we did a lot of faking it). The next year we qualified for AEC at BN, winning the Adult Team Challenge and finishing 10th individually.

 

Omg, he was so cute. Also, undeniable proof that I have always leaned.

We’ve had a few setbacks since then (like that summer he fractured his leg) but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. This horse has been so freaking fun, and taught me so much. He made me fall in love with eventing again, and is trying his best to make me a better rider. For the first couple of years I was definitely the “teacher” in our relationship, but now it kind of feels like the tables have turned and he’s the one teaching me. At this point he is definitely the most educated and experienced horse I have ever had, by a mile.

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As far as a resale project goes, he was obviously a massive failure. Not because of him or anything he did, but because of me. I fell in love with him, and at this point I owe him more than I could ever possibly repay. He will never be for sale. When we started eventing, I never ever thought we could go above Novice, or that I would even want to go above Novice. Training was such a distant dream that it may as well have been the Olympics. Those jumps made me want to pee myself. So to be solidly cruising around T, and maybe eyeballing Prelim at some point… it’s mindblowing to even consider. He’s been such an opportunity for me in so many ways, to improve myself and my riding.

These days he doesn’t look much like the horse I bought, at least on the outside. He is considerably less hairy and more fit, although that goofy face has stayed the same. I think his brain is a lot happier now, too. The heart though… that’s always been kind and genuine, and still is.

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happiest ears in the business

I hope that we’re still toward the beginning of our journey, and that I’m lucky enough to enjoy many more years and surpass many more expectations with this horse. Either way, he’s been the best surprise of my life.

Singing in the Rain

Most of the time when we get rain in Texas, it seems to come in one big deluge and then it’s bone dry again for a month. Over the past week we’ve gotten a few inches of rain, but steadily, a little bit every day. I am loving it.

So is this pigapotamus 

Our previously rock hard and crunchy brown pastures are lush and green and perfectly soft again. It rains just enough every day to keep the ground springy instead of making it slick. It’s so rare to have this many days in a row of perfect footing… usually it’s a day or two between soggy and hard. Plus the weather has cooled down significantly, with highs in the lower to mid 80’s instead of 95-100. This means I can go back to riding in the afternoons again, giving me more time to spend at the barn.

Headed out for canter sets (which he bucked and squealed his way through, because Henny is also a fan of cooler weather)

On Monday there had been a pretty hard deluge just before I got to the barn, and I arrived to find lots of puddles on the driveway. Eventers: what do puddles look like to you? Miniature water jumps, right? I know I’m not the only one…

So I decided this was the perfect time to continue Presto’s water education. First I tied him in the arena while I did a bareback dressage ride on Henry (that’s totally a thing) which caused a fairly hilarious but short lived temper tantrum.

MAD

I looked at him out of the corner of my eye during some canter-trot-canter transitions just in time to see him very angrily pawing just before he tried to lay down in protest. Sure kid, go for it. That doesn’t work so well when you’re high-tied, even if you are a baby giraffe. He finally resorted to just standing there looking pissed.

Once he was done being a moron, I ponied him down the road with Henry.

I guess he’s seen enough water by now to not be impressed by it anymore, because he walked right through all the puddles. He tried to roll in one of them, but I didn’t let him, so he just stood there and pouted some more. He’s in a very angsty, emo, pouty, “life isn’t fair” phase right now. It’s kind of hilarious.

The only bummer about all the rain is that the horses aren’t getting turned out at night, since there are so many random pop-up storms. Day turnout is only about 8 hours. I’ve been taking the opportunity to shove a ton of extra hay into Presto (who eats hay faster than any horse I’ve ever seen in my life) but he still just looks growthy as hell. Definitely growing again. Also his butt is getting really hairy already. Why are all my horses total yaks?

It seems like most of the country is getting rain right now… what’s it been like in your neck of the woods? Are you drowning or is it feeling more like Fall? I hope everyone in the path of the hurricane is able to get somewhere safe!

 

A collection of asses

I dunno what has happened lately, but considering that I own exactly ZERO donkeys, my life sure does seem a lot more donkey-centric than it should be.

This is Bob.

First of all, Presto lives with a couple mini donkeys. They’ve been his pasturemates since he came to this barn, and it’s actually worked out pretty well for him. He doesn’t seem to see them as “equals” so he’s not attached to them at all, and they can’t really inflict any damage on him when they’re playing.

If you’re asking me, though, these donkeys… they’re kind of jerks. Bob, the bigger one, is a biter, and in a sneaky way. More than once he’s snuck up behind me and grabbed my pocket, or my shirt. He’s persistent, too, and tries to insert himself into the middle of whatever I’m there to do. It’s not that easy to tie a rope halter on the distracted yearling when you’ve got a miniature donkey doing his best shark impression right at waist-level.

Sometimes I feel sorry for the donkeys but honestly they kind of deserve it

Then there’s Dudley, the smaller mini donkey. He tends to try to steer clear of Presto as much as possible. Probably because Presto has decided that Dudley is really fun to chase, and I’ve seen him out there running Dudley’s fat ass in circles on more than one occasion. But Dudley is also a master escape artist, and if I don’t chain the gate shut behind me in exactly the right way, that little shit will be out of the pasture and GONE in 2 seconds flat. One morning I got to chase him around in the dark for 20 friggin minutes until I could get him cornered.

Then there’s Henry, who has no regular contact with donkeys, yet is somehow ridiculously obsessed with him. The few times I’ve let him sniff noses with the mini-donks at the barn, he’s been… um… very attracted to them. Henry thought he was definitely a stallion, and those donkeys were the prettiest things he’d ever laid eyes on. Luckily he pretty much never sees them in his day to day life.

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Pretends to not care about anything. Cares a lot about donkeys.

Then, this past weekend, Henry had a complete and total meltdown over some donkeys. After we were done XC schooling I hauled him over to my friends place nearby, so we could stay the night. We turned him out in the paddock next to a couple horses and donkeys, and Henry proceeded to lose his marble (there’s only one in there, I’m pretty sure). The horses came up to the fence to say hi and Henry completely ignored them, staring past them toward the donkeys. Eventually those two finally wandered up to say hi to him as well, and Henry was OMG SO EXCITED ABOUT DONKEY FRIENDS.

Then the donkeys quickly lost interest and wandered away, and Henry’s meltdown began. He was running laps and screaming as if we’d just taken away and murdered all of his friends in the entire world. They were all of 30′ away at the time, mind you. He ran himself up into a sweat, so finally I had to just lock him up in a stall before he hurt himself. All these donkeys around and the Biggest Ass award goes to Henry. Clearly he is not mature enough to handle donkey neighbors. He didn’t give a shit about any of the horses, but he spent all night on-and-off pacing his stall and screaming for those donkeys. What. Even.

All of this drama seems to, OF COURSE, have triggered an ulcery reaction in Henry, who picked at his dinner the past couple days in a way that Henry never ever does unless his tummy isn’t happy. Great, just great. I think this time I’m gonna try to get the injectable omeprazole and see how that works… anyone used that yet?

Henry is officially banned from donkeys forever.

And all this wet weather has caused a leak in Presto’s outside stall, so he’s in the main barn for a while, which means I don’t have to deal with the donkeys when I go get him out of his stall. Fine by me, I’m about donkey-ed out at the moment. Horses are dumb. So are donkeys.

Halfway Washout

Nothing like making riding plans for both days of the weekend and then checking the forecast only to see 90% chance of rain both days. Luckily for me, they were only halfway right.

What a terribly dreadful Saturday morning

The main objective of the weekend was a jumper show on Sunday, which Trainer and some of her students were going to. She told me to enter the three Prelim-height classes, which left me going “Ugh, I have to learn three different courses, really? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.”. Which shows just how far removed I’ve now gotten from my h/j roots. But at least I wasn’t feeling dread about the height or anything… maybe that’s progress? Then she texted and said “Funday at Pine Hill on Saturday too, if you’re in!”. You will never ever ever have to ask me twice about a funday at Pine Hill. Yeah we had just been there on Monday to XC school, but we got cut short because of lightning. There were a few more things I wanted to school, so hell yeah, let’s go hang out with some friends and finish what we started.

Captain Zoomypants, reporting for duty.

I think Henry is liking this “XC school once a week” kick that we’ve been on. Three weeks in a row and he’s thinking that finally I’ve figured out the secret to a happy life. He’ll be sad to realize that this was only a temporary stroke of luck.

After a couple warmup fences we headed to the same Prelim downhill drop/bending line thing that we did last week, but this time we had to do the 4 instead of the adding 5. That meant I had to keep his stride open down the steep hill but still reeeeeally keep his balance back so we didn’t literally die over the log pile at the bottom. We managed to get it right on the first try, which we’ll totally pretend was due to skill and not to the fact that when we started I was like “Okay Henry we’re doing that drop line again, and we need to get 4 this time.”. I’m 99% certain he understands.

After that we jumped the Time Warp combo again, smoothing out the curve and also leaving out the extra stride we had put in on Monday. Those Prelim combo’s, man… they are forward.

PHXCTimewarp
Again I told him the plan on the way to the jumps, and he did it.

From there we went to the crater again, with the log pile down into the crater, around the blind corner to a skinny. Henny’s got that down pat almost to the point of being cocky about it.

HIS EARS THOUGH

After that I asked if we could go to the boat… it’s a table that literally has a boat on the front face. This jump had caused a ton of trouble at the spring recognized show, so I was curious about how it rode. The jump itself isn’t bad, but you basically come blasting out of the woods and have to make a REALLY sharp turn to the right in order to catch the table. I can see how it would be easy to skirt right past it when you’re going Prelim speed. I basically had to set Henry on his butt and square the turn out of the woods so we could get straight to it, but we popped over it fine.

Me, coming out of the woods: HENRY, THE BOAT!

I have to be honest, I didn’t feel like I was riding particularly well that day. Some days all the distances just come right up, no problem, and I mostly execute what I’m supposed to do, and my brain actually feels like things are firing and my body is responding correctly. This wasn’t one of those days. I felt kinda floppy and discombobulated and my eye was  off. BUT… it’s good to know that even on a day where things aren’t clicking as well as they can, we can still answer the questions. Henry was definitely stepping in and making up for my shortcomings, which is good to know that he can still do at the bigger fences. Granted, I would also really like to have fewer non-clicking days so that Henry’s job is a little easier.

After the boat we went to the water, which I had to do twice because the first time was just a bit sticky and underpowered. I was on such a roll with the water for a long time, but I think since my horse is so good about water, maybe I’ve gotten a little more complacent. I still have to ride in a bit more aggressively. We went up to the bank combo after that and kinda the same thing. First time through was just kind of flat and blah, so we had to do it again. I think it didn’t help that by this point Henry was pretty hot. The humidity was killer, and he just doesn’t handle it. But also… I wasn’t helping enough.

 

We had a really big group with us (because FUNDAY) so they got some video. Thanks guys!

Afterward we hung out and ate food, and Henry went back with me to a friends house so we could stay the night there and hit the jumper show the next day, since it was nearby. And then they cancelled the jumper show, which is fair because it definitely DID rain on Sunday.

Hauling back the next morning – it was so dark and raining so hard that my camera switched itself to night vision

But hey, at least we got to enjoy one nice day, and another fun XC outing. Things are feeling pretty decent in the XC department (at least, ya know, when I’m not riding like a sack of potatoes) so we definitely need to focus on the showjumping. That’s for sure our weakest phase at the moment. Hopefully this rainy weather will go away and we can at least get some lessons, because the fall shows are OPEN and it’s time to start sending entries in!

Team Halter vs Team Bridle

Very serious, very important post for Friday, guys. I need to decide what Presto will wear for FEH Championships. We have the option of halter or bridle for yearlings, and he’s shown in both now. I can’t quite decide which one is my preference.

PrestoHalter1

PrestoHalter2

The halter is a Kavalkade Ivy, black with a unique shape, white stitching, and chrome hardware. I have a black leather with chrome hardware lead shank that goes with it (not in the photos, obviously). I do like the simplicity of a halter, as does Presto. It gives me a tad bit less control when it comes to handling, but not enough to where I think it makes much of a difference.

 

PrestoBridle1

PrestoBridle2

His bridle is dark brown with dark brown stitching, very plain and simple, from the Lund Saddlery eventer series. It’s a bit tight at the crown/brow but totally workable. With this I’d be using a dark brown newmarket shank like this, or I could use reins. He can sometimes get a bit chompy in the bit, but with how distracted he’ll be in the ring, I doubt that would be an issue.

I’m pretty torn. They both have their pros and cons, and I can’t really decide which looks better. His ears look freaking GIANT in both. Oh wait, that’s because they are.

If it makes a difference, I’m wearing a black polo/helmet/gloves with khakis.

Which would you pick?

 

An Accumulation of Discounted Goods

See how much better that sounds than “all the shit I bought during the Labor Day Sales”?

Image result for fancy gif

Really though, I think I was quite restrained. I did place a Riding Warehouse order of course (which I already got yesterday!) although I talked myself out of a few things.  I loaded up on my usual salt blocks, a new clipper blade for my Listers (WINTER IS COMING), a couple of cheap boot trees because I keep trying to be more of an adult and take better care of my stuff, a pair of foxy D&S socks, and an Equifit boot organizer for the trailer.

With show season and it’s accompanying money purge coming up just around the corner, I talked myself out of the brown TraumaVoid helmet for now. I was feeling a lot of peace with that decision until I went back to the RW website 5 freaking seconds ago to grab the link to it and saw that they’re now on sale. And not only are they on sale, you get a $25 gift card with a helmet purchase. WTF Riding Warehouse. Why are you doing this to me?

It matches my Ego7 boots perfectly and I want it SO BAD.

At one point I also had a black pair and a white pair of the Horze Grand Prix breeches in my cart, but talked myself out of both even though with the sale plus the multi-pair discount, it brought them to $73 each.

I’m having a lot of regrets right now, guys. Help me.

What I did take full advantage of was the Aerie underwear sale. 10 pairs for $35? I’m in. I really like their seamless ones for riding, and they have like 5 different shades of “nude”. No way in heck I’m paying the normal $12 per pair price, but at $3.50 a pop, I’m down. I definitely needed more of those, because I am inevitably always one pair short at a horse show and end up wearing something neon under my whites. I’m that person. But it won’t happen anymore because now I have a bunch.

Other than those two online sales, I was doing really well. At least until Tuesday when I met Hillary for lunch and she said she needed to stop into Dover afterward. The only thing I’m really interested in, when it comes to the Dover store, is the sale rack. Usually there’s nothing great to be had, but every once in a while there’s something really cheap that I can’t pass up.

tackshop

And this time, as luck would have it, there were two knit show shirts, navy and gray, in my size, marked down from $99 to $19.99. I have the green version of this shirt and really like it, so there’s just no way I was going to be able to resist that. I didn’t even try. I just plucked them off the rack and kept walking, barely a pause in my stride.

I have a weird obsession with show shirts. For some reason I have nine of them, which is more than a little absurd for an eventer. There’s no scenario in which I would need more than 2 per horse show. At some point I should probably go through and sell some of the ones I don’t wear as much.

Did y’all get anything good in the Labor Day sales? It just occurred to me that the next big sale event will be BLACK FRIDAY… I don’t think I’m ready for that yet.