Friday Wrap-Up

This is one of those weeks where I feel like I’m coming in hot to the weekend, flying sideways with tires screeching like it’s Tokyo Drift. There are major upheavals at work, one of our senior dogs is not doing well, and we have to start packing/moving stuff to the new barn this weekend. Things are busy and stressful.

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it’s been one of those months, and I’m in the passenger seat.

I’m not in the right frame of mind for deep, insightful blog posts right now. My brain is overwhelmed as it is. But what I can offer, happily, is some levity. Specifically the kind that comes wrapped in a wobbly, fuzzy, pony-baby sized package. That’s right, I come bearing more pictures of Nunez WTW, who I am personally calling Mijo because it’s taking Michelle too long to come up with a barn name.

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LOOK. AT. HIM.
If you’re not dead from cute after this, I’m not sure if we can be friends.

I also have a few general updates or things I want to mention. Once again I have to plug the US Event Horse Futurity, because I’m completely hooked on watching the videos of these young horses as they progress through the beginning of their careers. It’s been so educational for me already. Best idea anyone has ever had, documenting all of this on video. Watching how the trainers are working through problems and setbacks is something we don’t often get a front row seat to. If you still aren’t following, you really should. Plus if you’re active on the page with likes and comments and shares, you can win swag. OR, if you really want to promote the program, you can buy some swag too. Presto already has the hat… maybe he wants in for 2021?

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Maybe I whut?

As to the winner of the Australia vs Germany race, it was definitely Australia. The shirts from Black Horse Clothing arrived on Monday, and I really like them. Full review coming after I get to wear and wash some more, but the initial impression is very positive.

I was getting really worried about my boots (the German package) there for a while, when 5 days passed with absolutely no updates on the tracking. I’m relatively certain DHL strapped them to a dolphin and sent them across the ocean that way. But now they’re saying the package should be here tomorrow, so hopefully that’s true. Pretty new boots would make me happy. If they fit. Please fit.

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Here, have some more Mijo, you deserve it.

I took a few days off from riding this week, to let myself keep healing more. My ankle was pretty mad on Tuesday and Wednesday, swollen and bruised again, so I just iced it and rested it completely. The bruises on the right side of my body from the fall are starting to fade a little bit. Nothing is really that sore anymore, except my back. I got on Henry yesterday in my dressage saddle and mostly just walked, with a little bit of trot, and things felt pretty good. I’ll definitely stick to a few more light days before I try to ramp anything back up, but I think I’m over the hump and through the worst of it. Now I just have to be careful not to re-injure anything I think. Being patient is hard, and taking days off from riding is not a particular strong suit of mine. I need to get everything healed up though, because the thought of trying to move all my shit and both horses next weekend with a broken body sounds extra miserable. So… rest it is.

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sorry that you have to endure a a closeup of my big white pasty thigh but if you come here on the regular I have to assume you knew the risk you took when you started scrolling. Also, that non-bruised spot in the middle? HUGE DENT IN MY MUSCLE. It feels real good.
This stupid thing was still pretty mad on Tuesday
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This is my cankle. There are many like it but this one is mine. It’s a lot smaller today, though! 
Here is your reward for looking at those pictures.

Last but not least, Trafalgar Square Books is having a memorial day sale starting this evening through Monday night – 20% off plus free shipping in the US. I wish I was done with the Eric Smiley book and ready to review it for this occasion, but I’m still a few chapters away from being done. It’s a really interesting book though, and covers a wide range of topics, from riding to horsemanship to theory.  The books description on the website summarizes it best:

Riding well can be a puzzle. This book puts together the pieces, including

– How humans and horses learn
– Striving for partnership vs. dictatorship
– Early training and developing skills
– Demystifying equestrian-speak
– Dressage outside the arena
– Ground poles for the rest of us
– Jumping and cross-country tips
– Solving problems, wherever you ride
– Competition psychology
– Being coached and being a coach

They’ve also got Denny Emerson’s new book, as well as Tik Maynard’s (among tons of others) so if you haven’t picked either of those up yet, now is the time!

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Have a good holiday weekend, everyone!

 

 

 

It’s a Dangerous Day

Not as dangerous as Black Friday, but still… today is the day that a lot of Memorial Day sales go live, including Riding Warehouse.

This would be more exciting if I wasn’t in a bit of a self-imposed spending freeze at the moment. Between the new boots and the Burghley tickets/airfare and a few smaller things I bought during the pity party I threw for myself at the beginning of the month, I need to chill. Which is sad, because I’ve been living for that Wish List feature lately, adding shit to it like it’s my damn job.

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Yeah ok, maybe I have problems. Nothing a cool 2G’s wouldn’t fix, though.

That Schockemohle bridle might be the death of me if I try to resist it for much longer. The whole “buy a Schockemohle bridle and get $50 off Schockemohle reins” promo they’re running right now isn’t helping. I so can’t afford a new bridle right now though, nor do I need it. Although technically if I start showjumping Henry in a bit again, another brown bridle would be nice to have…

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Killing. Me.

Shoot, I just realized there aren’t any breeches on my wish list. That can’t be right.

ANYWAY.

While I won’t be splurging and buying anything fun, I do need a few of the basic essentials for the boys, like magic cushion and poultice and fly spray and salt blocks. I also anticipate needing some new tack room organizational items for the new barn, since we’ll have a much smaller space, but those purchases will have to wait until after we move and we see just how much condensing we have to do and how much space we have.

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what it will actually look like when I try to pack

Schneider’s has a lot of good racks and bags and stuff that are on sale right now too… if only I could decide what I might need. I have SO MUCH SHIT for two horses. How do y’all store your blankets and stuff, Rubbermaid bins? I think I could fill two or three big ones. Not to mention all my med supplies, horse boots (it’s possible that I’ve got like 10 sets), and tack. I have a whole drawer full of just bonnets, for crying out loud, and I regret nothing. Having an entire corner of the tack room to myself has been nice, though. I can’t believe we’re only about a week away from the upheaval. Just the thought of moving everything fills me with dread. I’m ready for the fresh start though, and to have a functional arena to ride in. It’s just the actual moving part. Ugh. Guess this would be a good time for a clean out.

Anybody have their eye on something during these sales? A new bridle or some LeMieux pads (anyone tried their breeches yet?) or a new helmet maybe? The new dark brown Mountain Horse boots? A bargain-hunting extravaganza through the clearance section? Let me live vicariously through you…

 

Holly Hill Weekend: Part 2

Our plans to continue our XC schooling on Sunday got dashed when it decided to rain for most of Saturday night. The course was just a little too wet by morning, but since we were already there, the facility owner allowed us to make a Plan B: jumping lessons in the arena. It would have been great to get back out on XC and try to correct the mistakes of the day before, but none of us can control the weather. At least we were able to get back on and jump some stuff. I can definitely always use more lessons, in any form, and it was good for me to be able to jump some things to keep rebuilding the confidence from the day before.

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from this angle a grimace looks like a smile! PC: Dusty Brown

Henry seemed to feel just fine despite our mishap on Saturday, but I was pretty body sore. My previously-acquired sprained ankle still hurt a bit, but the main problem for riding was that I seemed to have tweaked a muscle in my back in our fall on Saturday. Well, my whole right side was a little battered. I had bruises from my hip to my thigh, and I was sporting a pretty gross dent toward the outside of my quad. My back felt like I’d gotten punched in the kidney, which… I guess I kinda did. I’d expected to feel a little worse though (don’t worry, by Monday I definitely felt like I’d been hit by a bus, then a semi, then a train).

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PC: Dusty Brown

Mostly the problem was whatever soft tissue runs from the middle of my back to my hip. It was pissed. Trotting was relatively awful, but cantering wasn’t bad, and jumping seemed fine enough as long as I kept my body straight and still. Between the sprained left ankle and tweaked right side of my back, it kinda evened out? I was sore, but capable enough, and I wanted to jump.

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So did this goob. PC: Dusty Brown

Of course, since we’d planned on XC schooling the whole weekend, I’d only brought my XC tack and gear. Henry had to wear his XC boots and his XC bridle, and I had to wear my skull cap. I wasn’t sure how he’d do jumping in the arena in his Dr Bristol full cheek. In the past I’ve had a hard time getting him in front of my leg even in just a plain loose ring, hence the swap to the hackamore. That was over a year ago though, and the horse I have now is a bit more forward-thinking.

I actually liked jumping him in the Dr Bristol a lot, and Trainer agreed. He was more adjustable, and I could get him back quicker and more easily and then let him go forward again. I did have to be careful to not pull, because it was easier to shut him down in that bit than it is in the hackamore. We’re definitely going to experiment more with showjumping him in that bit, or trying him back in a plain loose ring again. Training is an evolution, and if he’s at the point where changing something up is what works best for the horse I have now, I’m certainly open to it.

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PC: Dusty Brown

We jumped a few courses set from T to P height, and also played with adjustability on an outside 4-stride to 4-stride or 5-stride to 4-stride line. Henry was actually really good, jumping well, and seemed to be completely undeterred (both mentally and physically) by what happened on XC the day before. That made me feel loads better. I didn’t hurt him or ruin him. Bless that little horse, he’s a saint.

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PC: Dusty Brown

All in all it wasn’t the stellar, hit-it-out-of-the-park kind of weekend that we always want, but I came home with a lot. A lot to think about, a lot to work on, a lot to be grateful for, and a lot of motivation.

I also have to say, it’s so fun having a front row seat to Hillary and Dobby’s newfound partnership. That horse is learning so much, he gets better and better every time out, and he’s really found his confidence and understanding in his new job. Watching him and Hillary evolve and start to trust each other is so cool, and makes me kind of miss having a green horse. I love this part, when they’re learning so fast. Dobby is smart, and he’s taking to the job really well. Those two are going places, I think! It definitely makes me ready for Presto to be 4.

Holly Hill Weekend: Part 1

Despite eventing in Area V for the last 5 years, I’ve never been schooling at Holly Hill. I’ve shown there twice, and it’s probably my favorite venue, but we’ve definitely never been there to school. Probably because it’s 5 hours away in Louisiana. But… everything is far for us, so I still really really wanted to go, and finally talked Trainer into it as well. Of course, if you’re going that far, it’s not going to be a day trip. We planned to make a weekend of XC schooling, so Hillary and I left midday on Friday with Dobby and Henry.

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His “happy to be at Holly Hill” face, I guess?

The complication was my sprained ankle. I had taken Monday and Tuesday off from riding, did a bareback dressage ride on Wednesday, and by Thursday I figured I should see if it would hold up or not. I put my boot on, got in my jump saddle, and went out to the jump field. My ankle felt okay, aside from when we landed from the jumps. The bigger problem was that the tendons on the outside of my lower leg were really sore and angry. The pain was survivable though, so I iced it and wrapped it and took the NSAID’s, hoping that would be enough to make it better by Saturday.

By the time I mounted up for my XC lesson on Saturday morning, it was definitely improved. I could still feel it, especially those last few strides up to fence when I tried to sink into my heel, but it was good enough. After a couple warmup fences we started at the water, hopping a log in, then adding a skinny out, then doing the drops in. The drops definitely had me grimacing on landing, since Henry will apparently never just drop down without some kind of flamboyance, so we only did them a couple times.

that felt real good

Mostly I wanted him to pop off of the brush-topped one, since he’s never seen one like that before, where you really can’t see the water until the last second. He didn’t bat an eye. His style is weird, but I’m happy with how brave he’s been about the down banks, considering that’s been his bugaboo in the past. He likes to pat the ground at the edge, but he’s definitely going, so that’s ok with me.

After the water we went and jumped a little two stride combo to a brush on an angle, which was no problem, and then headed over to another bank complex. We jumped the little bank up, two strides to bank down, then a bending line to the skinny wedge. I got him there a little crooked but he locked on and went anyway. He’s always been pretty good about skinnies, but he’s definitely reading and looking for them a lot more these days.

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Then we went to the weldon’s walls, which I might never stop hating. We jumped the Training one last fall when we ran here, and he didn’t care about it but I rode it terribly. We started by jumping the Training one a couple times, then pointed to the Prelim one, which is a little taller and a lot skinnier, a wall of brush just floating in the middle of a ditch.

Jumping the T one. P one to the right, although you can’t really see how much skinnier it is than the ditch it sits in.

He stopped the first time, because I rode it completely backwards and made it kind of impossible for him. Fair enough. Then I decided maybe to put my leg on and ride up to that bitch like I meant it, and he jumped it fine. Stupid weldon’s walls. Y’all are gross.

it looks so tame from this angle. Way more gross from my point of view. 

Then we went down to the coffin complex, which is set at the bottom of a pretty steep hill. I didn’t get him rebalanced well enough at the top of the hill, so we were still having a discussion a few strides before the first big log. The energy was backwards, Henry didn’t have his eye on the jump… it was really a terrible approach on my part. He tried to stop at the last second, realizing what was ahead, but the momentum from the hill didn’t really make that possible and he hit the log. I ejected over his shoulder, and he tried hard to stay upright and not land on me as he tried to climb over the jump. It all happened in slow motion, and I just stayed tucked in like a turtle on the ground while he flailed around above me. Somehow he did manage to miss most of me, grazing my right hip and thigh.

I got up slowly, but was fine, and Henry seemed fine too. Both of his right boots had been pulled down in the scramble, but the only mark on him was a scrape on his nose. I got back on, trotted a few circles to make sure he was ok, went and jumped some smaller fences, and then we came back to the coffin and broke it down into pieces. The ditch to the log one way, then the ditch to the log the other way, then the whole thing. Henry, bless him, seemed undeterred by our mishap.

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My biggest fear in all of this has always been hurting or ruining my horse. I’m not particularly scared of getting hurt myself, but I would be devastated if anything happened to Henry. This one rattled me. We’ve managed to avoid disaster so far… this is the first time I’ve come off him in over 5 years, and definitely the worst mistake I’ve made. But the bigger and more technical the jumps are, the less he’s able to pull us out of hairy situations. I know it’s important not to let this accident live in my head, but I also know that it’s important to remember it so I don’t make the same mistake again. I also know that when you start pushing the boundaries and doing things that are hard, mistakes will happen. I’m still processing it, I think.

To be honest, I’m not particularly happy with how I’m riding right now. Sometimes we’re just rocking and rolling and everything is clicking, and sometimes it’s not, and at the moment I feel like I’m in a downswing. The mojo we had a few months ago isn’t quite there. I’m not being as proactive or as focused as I need to be. Maybe all the other upheavals in my life are having an effect that I wasn’t really aware of. I’m re-evaluating and re-arranging my schedule to try to get things back on track and refocused. I have to be a little better than this.

We ended the day with plans to come back out the next day and tackle a few things again, and smooth some stuff out. Mother Nature, however, had other plans…

Baby Bets contest results!

Yep, you know what that means – baby #2 has arrived! Stormie foaled a black (will turn gray) colt yesterday morning! His name is Nunez WTW, named after Michelle’s friend and neighbor who always helps with the breeding duties and other stuff around the farm. This little dude is adorable and already full of character.

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He’s still got that narrow smooshed-up newborn look, so right now he looks a lot like a drunk spider. I’m highly amused. He’s a pretty big dude, too, for a newborn pony foal! No wonder Stormie looked like a beached whale.

Even with his size she managed to rocket him out 5 minutes after her water broke, like a seasoned professional, around lunch time. She and Sadie have a lot in common with the quick daytime foalings I guess. Mom and baby are both doing well and all looks good so far!

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He seems to enjoy climbing all over this mother. This has happened repeatedly. It leads to some pretty hilarious viewing on the foaling cam, especially when Michelle is running to try to stop him from smashing headfirst into the wall. I can already tell that this one is going to be extremely entertaining.

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The Baby Bets contest was a bit brutal this year. People who got a lot of points with Lissa’s foal got next to none from Stormie’s, and vice versa. Almost no one got the foaling dates/times correct. It really came down to the color/gender/markings and it was a close one! We had a 3-way tie, and ended up having to put names in a hat to draw a winner.

 used a US Event Horse Futurity hat, naturally

Congrats Stacie! I’ll message you about getting all your prizes rounded up and on their way.

More pics of Nunez coming later this week once he starts to fill out and unfold a bit more!

Moo Pony

Ok technically “Moo Pony” is what my SO calls a cow (I dunno, he’s weird. I’m weird. What more do you expect?) but I have to be honest, this week I have officially seen a real bonafide Moo Pony.

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That would be Stormie, the pony mare, the last one we’re waiting on to foal for our Baby Bets contest. She is a freaking whale. Every time I see more pictures all I can think is OH LAWD SHE COMIN because I’ve spent way too long laughing at that Chonk Chart thing that was going around facebook a while back and now every time I see a fat animal that’s my ingrained reaction.

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This one.

For real, I saw a fat corgi when we were out the other day and I said OH LAWD HE COMIN before I could even stop myself. I have a problem.

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But really, is Stormie growing a full size pony in there? She’s still about a week away from her “due date”, but she’s passed the 320 day threshold that is considered full term, so it could theoretically be any day now. Hopefully soon, because… geez. Also because 1) I need some pony baby pictures in my life. 2) I really wanna see what color it is. 3) Nalah needs a friend. Nalah is still beautiful, but she is bored. Adult horses aren’t fun. Baby horses need other baby horses to do dumb baby horse things with. Hopefully Nalah doesn’t smoosh the pony baby, but she’s ready for a friend for sure.

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In other fun news, the Usandro frozen semen finally arrived from France a little while back (lord, it was a paperwork nightmare getting that stuff exported), and we’ve got our first confirmed pregnancy with it! The quality is good and obviously it does the job, and it’ll be fun to see what we get from him.

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There really isn’t another stallion like Usandro available here in the US, and I’m still unsure what the market will be like for him, but he’s proving to be a successful producer in Europe already. Will the American breeders use him? I don’t know. Next year we’ll start marketing him more and see what happens.

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two young Usandro sons competing in France

In other slightly Europe-related news, my Burghley tickets already arrived! I wasn’t expecting them to actually mail them for a while, so that was a fun surprise when I opened the mailbox the other day and saw an airmail envelope. I’m excited to really start planning the trip, since we’ll also be spending several days after Burghley driving around France, looking at stallions. I’m trying not to get too excited about seeing Mighty Magic in the flesh, in case it doesn’t happen, but… I’m hopeful.

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They even came in a pretty folder with a Burghley decal, grounds map, info on all the different train lines, and schedule.

Last but not least for today, if you haven’t listened to the episode of Major League Eventing with Boyd Martin, you should. He’s pretty candid about a lot of things, including the new flag penalty and the Will Coleman/Rolex situation. It’s an interesting episode, long but worth the listen! OH and if you missed the one last week with Jess Redman (the OTTB seller that Cannavaro came from) – that one is also a must listen. Lots of great info there for OTTB fans, riders, and buyers.

Happy Friday everyone! We’re off to Louisiana for a weekend of XC… hope you have something fun in store too.

 

I’m Lame

In this case I mean lame as in physically, not in the uncool/boring way, although I suppose both could apply. I sprained the shit out of my ankle on Sunday, one of the times I slid down from Presto when I was laying over his back. Ok yeah, that definitely qualifies for both definitions of lame.

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This has to be my #1 most-used GIF, because I often find myself having to explain something dumb.

Because Presto is pretty big, I was using the mounting block to stand on. I would put my foot in the stirrup, stand up, lay across him, and then slide back down to the mounting block to repeat. Except one time he shifted his weight just enough to change my trajectory, and instead of coming down on the step of the mounting block, I came down right on the edge, rolling the crap out of my left ankle hard enough to where I felt something pop. I stood there bent over for a few seconds, sucking air in through my teeth, waiting for the pain to pass. It didn’t. So then I decided to walk it off, going back in the barn to grab something, and coming back out. It did not walk off. It hurt like a bitch. I’ve sprained my ankle before, many times, but nothing like that.

By the time I was done with Presto and put him away, I could feel it swelling in my boot. I have broken enough bones to know what that feels like, and I definitely didn’t think it was broken, but there was no doubt I’d done a real number on the soft tissue. By the time I got home I was barely weight-bearing, and spent the evening icing and elevating. I’m the absolute worst when it comes to my own injuries and tend to just ignore them and power through, but this one was not ignorable.

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Brace plus wrap plus the only shoe I can even get partway on over all that mess.

It hurt bad enough by the next morning to where I strongly considered going to the doctor. Which, if you know me, is pretty telling. I tend to have a No Doctors policy unless there’s an alarming amount of gushing blood or a bone sticking out. Which is really ironic considering how many times a year the vet sees my horses, but alas let’s not pause long enough to psychoanalyze that. As an example, when a horse landed on top of me at a show and I broke my elbow, I loaded up my trailer, loaded up the horse, drove 3 hours home, and then still had to be dragged to the ER. Where they took 5 hours to do absolutely nothing useful, btw, besides give me a sling and prescription for codeine, neither of which I used.

So instead I watched some youtube videos on diagnosing and caring for severe ankle sprains, my dad and my coworker loaded me up with a brace, wraps, crutches, and NSAIDs, and I decided to be smart and rest it. Mostly because we’re supposed to go to Louisiana this weekend to XC school and I’ve never gotten to XC school at this place before and I REALLY wanna go, so I’ll be damned if this ankle isn’t better enough by then. In what is an exceedingly rare move for me, I took two days off from the barn. In a row. Like… I didn’t go at all.

It was awful.

This little asshole likes to attack the ice pack, therefore I have several claw marks on my foot now too. THANKS GREM.

By yesterday I couldn’t take it anymore, and the ankle has improved enough to where I can limp around without too much trouble (albeit infuriating slooooowwwlllly). I decided to just get on and do some bareback dressage, to give the ankle another day before I put it back in a stirrup.

The hardest part was getting on. Even from the big mounting block, I forgot how much I still need my left foot. Eventually I just launched myself at Henry, clinging to him like a spider monkey to shift up to his back. I almost lost my left shoe on the process, which doesn’t really go on all the way with my brace and wrap, so I decided to just ditch it at the mounting block. Real Pony Club approved, y’all. Real Pony Club Approved.

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This is fine

But we did manage to get a short dressage ride in, and Henry was pretty good. Really spooky, he teleported so hard and fast that he almost left me suspended in midair a few times, but otherwise good. No problem with the ankle. To dismount I sidled up to the mounting block again, swung my right leg across the front and slid down facing outward. That was the easiest part. All the walking around the barn, carrying stuff back and forth… that was the harder part. Mobility is not my strong suit at the moment.

It’s a bit better today, as it’s been a bit better every day this week. Still definitely have a pronounced limp, but the stabbing, take-your-breath-away pain of the first two days is gone. Now pretty much my entire lower leg is just really sore. Also my toes are still a bit sausage-like, which I’m not a big fan of.  But mostly it’s just super annoying how long it takes me to walk anywhere. Today I’ll keep it wrapped and put it back in my boot and we’ll see how things go. I think it’ll be fine enough.

The moral of this story? Mounting blocks are dangerous, y’all. Don’t trust them.

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The Race is On

I think the toughest part of ordering fun custom things, especially something like boots, is the wait time. The estimated 8-12 weeks can definitely feel like an eternity, especially when stressful things are happening elsewhere in your life and you really just want something pretty to give you some temporary happiness. Major first world problems.

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When you have no idea if what you ordered will actually look good, because you’re just living on shitty screenshots of swatches.

But I was still pretty darn excited to get the email yesterday saying that my Pioneer boots are on their way. That was a pretty fast turnaround, especially considering they also had to travel from the workshop in Italy to the store I ordered from in Germany before they could start their trek here. It’s been less than 5 weeks since I ordered. They’re shipping here via DHL which, in my personal experiences from ordering overseas, has taken anywhere from 3 days to 4 weeks. Their tracking also sucks. Hopefully they used an airplane for this one instead of pack mules/dolphins.

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there’s a reason that so many DHL memes exist

Not long before the boots shipped, it’s also possible that I ordered something from Australia. Let’s just say that following equestrian apparel companies on Instagram has been my downfall more times than I can count. This time it was a shirt that got me, and I felt like I deserved a pretty new shirt, and the price was good, and it was really easy to talk Hillary into getting something too so we could split the shipping. Mostly I’m just glad that I resisted the urge to buy one in every color. Small victories. Hopefully it fits.

I’m having a real moment with the perforated top trend, sue me.

So now I’m watching and tracking both of these packages, coming from opposite ends of the world. The race is on to see which one will get here first. It’s a pretty freaking boring race, though, I have to admit, since none of the tracking has updated in over 24 hours. I keep checking far more often than is reasonable. But nah. Crickets.

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This would be more fun if it was like airplane tracking, where I could see the package as a dot and it was actually moving along it’s trajectory.  That should be a thing.

I did self-medicate with a couple other small purchases, one for instant gratification and the other a pre-order because I’m a glutton for punishment right now I guess. After my Stockbobble post last week I totally caved and got the other glittery anchor stock tie that matches the one I bought for Trainer. It arrived a couple days ago, and now I’m just looking at it on my kitchen table and realizing that my next show is like 2 more months away. So it was like instant gratification… but not.

I also officially booked my flights for Burghley (yes I bought the actual Burghley event tickets before my flight…) and signed up for my next Yes.Fit race. I just had to do the Nessie one, because the shirt is so awesome, and the promo code YMzLFJU6 still works. The street views of this virtual race are really cool, since your path on the app basically just goes around Loch Ness.

This kind of makes me want to book a cycling trip in Scotland, to be honest.

Hey, maybe I’ll stumble across Nessie carrying a Pioneer Boots box.

I think we should take bets on what gets here first – the Australia package or the Germany package? I want my pretty new boots, dangit.

 

The Coveted Soil Map

Last week after I posted the details about how crazy we got while looking for a barn, including looking up what type of soil the property had, several of you asked how to do that. I have based my last two boarding decisions based at least partially (ok mostly) off of what type of ground they had, and for anyone who is shopping for land or lives in a place where there’s a certain type of ground you want to avoid, or a certain type of ground you want to find, it’s a REALLY helpful tool. I don’t know about you, but as an eventer I feel like my life sometimes revolves around footing. The website is a little bit confusing to use though, so I’ll show you how I’ve used it for myself and that should be enough to get you started.

Web Soil Survey is a USDA site that lets you look up the soil content of any area. From the main page, just click on the big green button that says Start WSS. That’ll take you to this landing page.

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From there you have several options for how to look things up. I usually have a specific address that I want to research, so I drop down the Address tab and enter it there. If you’re just browsing a general area you can use the State and County option. Or lat/long if you’re fancy. For this case I’m gonna use the Address option, but you do you.

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enter the address and click view

Once you put that in, the map will refocus to whatever area you specified.

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From there you can use the little AOI buttons on the top menu of the map to define what specific area you want to look at.

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They’re small and hard to read, but they say AOI (area of interest). If you hover your mouse over them you’ll see that one says “Define AOI by rectangle” which allows you to just draw a rectangle around the area you want to define, and the other says “Define AOI by polygon” which allows you to draw a more specific shape around an area. Once you select which AOI you want to use, you’ll be able to draw that shape on your map.

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I used the polygon AOI to trace around the property lines

Once you’ve defined your Area of Interest, look at the tabs along the top of the page and click on Soil Map.

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The soil map page is where all the magic happens – this is where it shows what types of soil your selected Area of Interest has.

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As you can see, it also shows which area of the property has what soil, as defined by the map unit symbols, as well as the total acreage for each soil type.

This is all well and good if you know your soils pretty well, but if you don’t, you might need further assistance. You can click on each soil type and it’ll pop up a page with some specifics, which may or may not make any sense to you. I tend to scroll down to the “properties and qualities part” personally, but depending on what you’re trying to do with the land, other sections may have more value. I’m really into drainage and generally prefer anything “sandy” over anything “clay”. Clay loam is far better than black clay though, which I have come to avoid like the plague.

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I’ve also generally been able to find additional info by using good old Google and just searching the soil type in quotation marks. Here’s the whole USDA page on Behring clay loam, for example. I always pay particular attention to the drainage and permeability section, but if you’re growing hay there’s a lot of great info there too.

When in doubt, just start looking up the soil content of all the places you know that have great soil, and use it as a point of comparison. You’ll find patterns pretty quickly.

The WSS site has a lot of cool features that are fun to play around with, once you’re comfortable with how it works. Explore the tabs. Have a blast. If you’re anything like me it’s really fun and perhaps also highly addictive. Great tool though, it’s certainly proved useful for me over the years!

Backed

I did a thing yesterday. A thing that I hadn’t planned on doing, but it was one of those moments where the stars just kind of align and the moment feels right, so you go for it, and I did. And it was a success!

My original plan for the day was to introduce Presto to the western saddle. He’s worn both my jump saddle and my dressage saddle before, but I’d like to do his first few rides in a western saddle, so I figured it was time to put it on him. It’s heavier and louder and clunkier but otherwise not much different, so I figured he wouldn’t really care, and I was right. I put it on him in the crossties, slowly tightened up the cinch, and went out to the arena to let him walk and trot around with it.

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Clearly he was very concerned

That was super boring after about 5 minutes, so I pulled the mounting block over and we did some of our usual mounting block lessons. Working on standing still, me leaning over him, me putting some weight in the stirrup, flapping the stirrups around, smacking the saddle, etc. We’ve done this enough to where he’s also extremely unimpressed with all that.

I upped the ante and stood all my weight in one stirrup, leaning across and patting his opposite side. Again, totally unimpressed.

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Is he even awake?

So as I’m laying there across him I’m like “screw it, I’m just gonna throw a leg over and see what he thinks.”. So I switched his lunge line for a lead rope, went through all the typical pre-mounting stuff again, and this time when I put my weight in the stirrup and layed across, I paused for a few seconds and then swung my leg all the way over.

And next thing you know, I’m sitting on him.

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omg.

I just sat there for a few minutes, talking to Hillary and the barn worker Ryan. Presto moved a little bit, mostly in small slow circles since I only had one lead rope, but he stayed SUPER calm and was happy to follow his nose around. I didn’t want to actually ride him, I just wanted to sit on him, and that’s what we did. He’s done so much of the pre-riding basics at this point that I don’t even think he realized anything new or strange had happened. He’s been used to me being above him for a long time now, and having my weight leaned on him. If anything, I think he was happier with me actually sitting astride because it was easier for him to balance.

Prestobacked
watch out y’all this one is wild
wondering when he’ll be able to get back to his dinner, probably

I expected him to feel a lot scrawnier and smaller, considering how narrow and gangly he still is, but he felt pretty normal sized. He’s officially sticking 16h now, and I’m kind of glad that I went ahead and sat on him, because lord it is already a stretch to mount and dismount, even with the little mounting block. I’m definitely gonna need a 3-step by the time I’m actually ready to ride him for real. He’s still just a wee baby (ok maybe not so wee, but definitely a baby) so I won’t be riding him for quite a while yet, but… he’s officially backed. And my butt was the very first one to sit upon him. It’s a pretty special moment considering all we’ve been through in his short life. It makes me happy that I’m his person and he trusts me enough for this to have been such a non-event.

If I had wanted to, I’m pretty sure I could have trotted him around yesterday without any problems. With, ya know… two “reins”. We’ll do some more ground driving this summer and then I think I’ll be able to put a handful of short rides on him in the fall. Then I’ll bring him back out next spring and start hacking/trail riding a few times a week. He’s quiet about things, and he’s smart, and he catches on pretty quickly.

I swear the 2yo year is the longest. Just waiting… waiting… waiting for him to be older. I think I’ll be riding yesterday’s high for a while though.