Let there be sun! And jompies.

Well, apparently all I had to do to get it stop raining for a few days here in Texas was to whine about it extensively and annoyingly on the internet. Literally hours after my post last week about the mud and non-stop rain, the sun came out. It’s suspicious, and I don’t trust it, but I’ll happily take it while I can get it. Since it looked like the weather was going to hold we went ahead and firmed up a lesson schedule for the weekend, and on Thursday I decided I should probably make sure Henry and I still remembered how to jump. We literally hadn’t jumped anything since the Pine Hill show at the beginning of December. The jump field was still too wet though, so I set up what is the only jump in the arena and figured that was good enough.

We hopped over it a few times each way and no one died, so I called that a success and quit while we were ahead. On Friday the field was dry enough to trot, so we did a long trot to try to take some of the edge off the horses, and then Saturday was lesson day! We hauled down to a local farm only about an hour away where my trainer was teaching for the day. I love it when she’s there, because it cuts my typical lesson commute in half, and the arena is freaking fantastic. The footing is so nice and Henry always moves and jumps so well in there, like he’s extra springy.

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Baby Inca came along too, and she wins the superstar behavior award for the day. The loudest most annoying horse on the property was definitely mine. He’s so dumb, he spent the whole trailer ride with his ears pinned flat to his head, occasionally kicking the wall and threatening to bite her (while she just ate her hay and ignored his theatrics), and as soon as they were off the trailer he was like OMG WHERE IS MY BEST FRIEND THAT I LITERALLY HATED 2 SECONDS AGO. It got even more pathetic when he spotted Halo, who he hasn’t been turned out with in 2 years and he never actually liked anyway. This is why he doesn’t have friends and gets turned out alone. He’s a total butthole to them when they’re around and a stage 5 clinger when they leave.

He’s lucky he’s cute

But as soon as we got in the ring he settled right down to business, and he felt freaking fantastic. He was moving really well, he was listening, and he was so happy to be jumping. We tend to not jump a ton of fences with him, in the interest of preservation, so after a brief warmup, everything went up to height and we just jumped a couple of courses.

I definitely felt a little rusty, like I was a smidge late with some half-halts and was a little slow to sit up and rebalance in the turns. I’ve noticed that it’s always my reaction times that suffer most when we go a while without jumping. Trainer set a one stride that was oxer to vertical, which can definitely be a bit of nemesis combination for me, but it actually rode great in both of the courses we did. Henry was pushing off the ground really evenly and using his body well in the air, he’s definitely feeling good at the moment. He tends to jump around “by braille” a lot of the time, but he was actually giving them some air for once.

I left the sound in the video so you can enjoy the “Oh Lord” from Trainer towards the end when I saw the big one to the skinny and gunned it. I am here for your entertainment, people.

Now we somehow find ourselves two weeks from the next show (damn, time flies) so hopefully we can fit in at least a mini XC school to make sure we remember how to gallop solid fences. We’ll see how much longer the weather cooperates!

Horse-cation Planning

Turns out that writing posts about goals or stuff I wanna do is a dangerous game to play when I have a little bit of time on my hands. On the 1st I wrote that this year I really want to make it a point to get back to Europe, to look at some stallions and some breeding stuff, and maybe even attend a big event. And then I had 2 days off work where the weather was disgusting and I had nothing better to do than fall waaaaaaay down that particular rabbit hole. Y’all, I spiraled. Hard.

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me, when I have an idea

It started innocently enough, I was just kind of exploring possible options. The first thing was to narrow it down to what time of year would be best. Breeding/foaling season runs through June-ish, as does the largest portion of our show season, and then fall show season picks up again by early October. That left an ideal gap between July and September.

There are plenty of awesome things going on in Europe that time of year, so it’s not like I was lacking options. But if the goal was to combine as many awesome things into one trip as possible, and get the absolute most bang for our buck, one beautiful shining possibility made it’s way to the forefront.

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Burghley is in early September, in England. It has always been my favorite of the top level events to watch online, with the gorgeous Burghley House in the background, typical rolling English countryside, and so many truly iconic fences. Like Cottesmore Leap, and The Leaf Pit, and Lion Bridge, and Discovery Valley.

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Cottesmore Leap
The Leaf Pit

Not only is it a 5* (it still feels weird calling them that since they’ve been 4*’s forever, but I guess I better get used to it), but they also hold a Young Horse Championships in conjunction with Burghley. These baby horse classes are becoming a bit of a thing of mine, seeing as how we’ve already been to the US YEH championships at Fair Hill and Germany’s Bundeschampionate (their version). The difference between how they do things and the horses and seeing all the different bloodlines is kind of like a kid in a candy store type feeling for me. Honestly, I find it to be just as interesting as the 5* competition. Especially because they also have a stallion parade during the show. So I can go to one venue and get a 5* event, a young horse championships, AND a stallion show.

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A couple of very interesting stallions stand in the UK that I want to go look at – Leprince des Bois (a 4* horse himself) and Royaldik (his dam is Heraldik’s full sister). And let’s not forget how easy it is to take the Chunnel train from London to Paris. And let’s also not forget all of the unfinished business I have in northern France, with all the stallions that I didn’t have time to see when we were there last time. Namely, Mighty Magic, Presto’s sire.

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did I write a Harry Potter stop into the itinerary? maybe…

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don’t mind me, just mapping stallion locations like a stalker

So it’s possible that typing up that innocent little goal here on the 1st maaaaay have led to hours of obsessive research that resulted in a rough itinerary, a booking of an apartment rental for Burghley, an intimate knowledge of the rail system and schedule, pricing for the Chunnel train, a list of “must see” stallions organized by location, and a watch on plane ticket prices. All by the the 2nd. Did I mention that there’s now a direct flight from Austin to London for pretty cheap? Yeah that’s a thing too. I can fly to London for like $100 more than I could fly to the east coast somewhere. It’s like the universe wants this to happen.

I haven’t yet tackled the France side of the itinerary, but that’s slightly less complicated and can be free-wheeled a little more. There’s plenty of time for that. The Burghley stuff was more pressing since it’s already getting difficult to find lodging nearby. Still though, I have a rough idea of what the plan might be in France.

Here’s to Burghley 2019! And baby horses. And France. And Mighty Magic…

Swamp Donkey

If last year was one of the coldest Texas winters I can remember, this year is definitely turning out to be the wettest. I feel like it started raining in September and basically hasn’t stopped. The lakes are overflowing, the ground is completely saturated, and there’s so much standing water in my backyard (which is sloped downhill) that our shed is an island. The barn has not fared any better. It was already soggy to a point I’ve never seen before, and adding 3″ of rain in the past two days has not helped matters.

this is the barn’s driveway. 

At this point I haven’t jumped Henry since Pine Hill, and in the past month I’ve missed or had to shorten/modify 5 conditioning rides. We’ve cancelled two jump lessons and one XC school. He was so wild for dressage the other day that I had to just abort the mission and let him gallop. I’m cold and I’m wet and I am becoming very grumpy.

This is last week, but honestly everything has just kind of looked like this for a while now.
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at least Henry exercises himself?

It finally did stop raining for a few days there, and luckily my barn drains a lot better than most. The area of the big field at the very top of the hill usually only needs a day or two before it’s at least good enough for trot sets, and since the arena is course sand, it’s never slippery even when its under water. Still though, do you know how hard it is to try to keep a Prelim horse from being insane but also still keep his fitness while only using one very small square arena and one long narrow strip of field? He’s going stir crazy inside his own skin, and we’re both going stir crazy inside our own minds.

It briefly stopped raining on New Years, so we tacked up and took the horses out for a long marching walk. It was cold and windy, but hey, at least it wasn’t raining. I can live with the cold, hell I can even live without the sun at this point, but I just need it to stop freaking raining.

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Idiots, both of them.
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Are we having fun yet?

I know that most of the country is feeling my pain right now, with the east coast in particular having crazy rainfall too. It’s extra frustrating to me because this is supposed to be our best time of year for riding, when it’s actually not 110 degrees and the ground isn’t concrete. Watching each day pass, feeling like we’re losing ground, or that any progress we may have made in the fall is now completely stagnant… it’s exasperating.

My life involves a lot of mud, layers, snorting, spooking, and yelling “HEY, KNOCK IT OFF” at the moment, and very little else.

This is my swamp donkey. He smells, looks, and IS completely disgusting.
That one “dry” day before it rained another 3″. This pasture has never been muddy in the 2+ years I’ve been at this barn.

At this point I have no idea when it will stop raining, if it will ever dry up, if the weather will ever cooperate for Presto to get gelded (not doing that in this mud fest), or if we’ll be ready for the January 20th show. Or a Feb show. Or a March show. The forecast does not look particularly promising. The only saving grace is that Henry retains everything really well and doesn’t need a lot of constant drilling to stay on form. Today I think I’ll set up some more poles in the arena and at least do some “jumping” exercises. And there is one set of standards in there so I suppose I could make one jump, which is all there’s really room for in there anyway.

That is the level of desperation we’re at right now.

I went out yesterday at lunch in the middle of this last solid 36 hours of rain. The “feels like” temp was 28, and I was greeted with water like I’ve never seen out there before.

Presto’s field now looks like this
one of the front paddocks is under a good few inches of water

The ground is just so saturated, there’s nowhere left for it to go. Once all the standing water finally drains off I guess we’ll have mud, but we aren’t even to that point yet. This just… doesn’t happen here.

I suppose I should be thankful that this barn handles water this well at least, because most people I know have not been able to ride at all lately and their horses haven’t been able to get turned out. Our arena is tiny, but it’s always rideable. The turnouts are definitely muddy, but they’re sandy enough to be safe, at least when it’s not actively pouring. The worst part about it is the driveway, which is so trashed at this point that I’m parking at the end of the road and walking in. I can live with that though.

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Pretty much all Presto has been doing lately

This type of weather makes me nervous about colic too, when it swings wildly from 30 to 70 and then back again. Especially when they aren’t able to be turned out as much because of the constant pouring rain. I keep shoving as much hay as possible in front of both horses and just hoping it lets up at some point. Neither of the boys seem to mind THAT part so much. They’re having a pretty good time at the buffet.

It looks like we might get a few days here without rain at least, so maybe things will at least have a chance to drain before we get hit again.

I hope everyone else’s winter is looking a little more productive than mine! Are we having fun yet?

Stuff for Sale

It’s a new year, time to clean out my Stuff Room (I guess some people would call it a guest bedroom, but why lie?)! I’m waaaaay overdue for another clean out, so I’ve got quite a few things that need a new home. Most of it I love and don’t want to sell, but just don’t use for various reasons. I can take Paypal or Venmo for payment. Shipping is not included in the prices, shoot me your zip (here or via my contact page or via facebook message) for an estimate. I am not organized enough to hold things for people, so whoever pays first is who gets it. Sometimes it takes me a few days to get things boxed up and shipped out, so if you need something quickly please let me know and I’ll make an effort to get it out ASAP. When things are paid for I will mark them SOLD here, so if there’s still a price showing, that means it’s still available.


 

Tredstep Solo Grip full seat breeches white size 30 NWT.  – $90

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Winston Equestrian breeches, white with gray knee patches size 30. Some typical boot mark staining around the knees, not visible with boots on. Good condition, not worn much. Very similar to Tailored Sportsman or Pikeur Ciara but higher end. – $100

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Mrs Tutton’s (high end Australian brand) short sleeve navy and white pinstripe show shirt with navy pleather piping and collar detail. SO CUTE, I love this shirt, but I just don’t ever wear short sleeves. Australian size 12, so 36ish. – $40

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Ovation Euroweave knee patch breeches, tan size 30. Worn 4 times. I hate tan and only have them because of foxhunting, but I was gifted a new pair and since I don’t need more than one, these can move along. – SOLD

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Ovation Aqua X suede full seat breeches charcoal size 30, only worn a few times. I just really never wear full seats, one of many reasons why I would make a terrible DQ. SOLD

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Green Horseware competition jacket, NWT size Medium. I originally got this to satiate my desire for a green coat, but finally caved and bought the green Motionlite instead before I ever wore this one. I have problems. – SOLD

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the lighting in my house sucks
it’s actually this color

Tailored Sportsman white show shirt, medium long sleeve with mesh vents. I have SO MANY show shirts (really though, I have 10), some need to go. – SOLD

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Noble Outfitters Madison show shirt size large, white with teal. Super cute and comfy/breathable but I find that I almost never reach for the teal, it’s just not my color. I’ve only worn it twice. – SOLD

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Valentine Equine white long sleeve shirt with built in stock tie. I’m a bit too fat for this shirt and it’s extremely upsetting, since I had to custom order it to get long sleeves but I messed up my sizing. I love this shirt, so that makes me sad. Australian size 10, fits US bust size 34ish. – SOLD

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Black dressage Ogilvy gummy half pad. Definitely some sun-fading around the edges, and it’s the older style gummy where you can’t remove the cover. It’s still in really good shape for an every day pad though (I was showing in it too), and not as thick as the typical Ogilvy. Only selling because I bought a navy one, which should be a surprise to literally no one.  – SOLD

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Equine Couture white breeches size 30 NWT with silicone knee patches. – SOLD

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Total Saddle Fit black calfskin leathers size 60, in excellent condition. Used for like a month before I got a different style. – SOLD

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Kavalkade Ivy bridle, brown cob size. Yeah Presto wore this once. It was meant to be his FEH bridle for 2019 but he’s already in a horse size bridle now, so joke’s on me.  As you can see, it’s not even broken in. Comes with rubberized web reins with stops. SOLD

Airowear Outlyne vest, navy with gray, size L3 (there is a size chart here). Good condition, never fallen in. BETA 3 approved. Only selling because I got a new one! SOLD

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Long lines – brand new, never used, 30′ long. Somehow I find myself with two pairs of long lines?? No clue how, maybe my stuff is starting to multiply on its own. SOLD

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Navy with hunter green scrim sheet size 72. Remember that hot minute when Presto fit into this? HAHAHAHA. For real though, he wore it once (this is a theme here), at FEH Championships. Clearly it’s good luck. – SOLD

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2019 Stuff I Wanna Do

Well helllooooo 2019!

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If you’re anything like me you went to bed last night long before the ball dropped, then woke up briefly after midnight to curse those “damn rednecks and their damn fireworks” and soothe some quivering dogs. Nah? Just me? Well ok then.

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fun fact: I hate fireworks and all holidays in which blowing shit up has somehow become part of the tradition

Anyway, now that 2019 is here, it’s time to think about what we want to do this year. I feel like last year went pretty well, with looser, lower-pressure goals that were more focused on the journey instead of very specific ends or accomplishments. I think we actually got more done in the long run, and I definitely enjoyed it a lot more. I still liked making goals, especially because by the time we got to the end of the year it was really fun to look back on them and see how much things had changed. It’s easy to forget how far you’ve come when you never look back on where you’ve been. So with that in mind, we’re going to make a few goals for 2019, but keep them pretty loose again, thinking more about the big picture.

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Keep Henry happy – let’s be honest, at this point the horse owes me absolutely nothing. As long as he continues to enjoy his job, I’m happy to keep plugging along. But if he needs to take some breaks now and then to trail ride or ride bridleless or wander aimlessly around the field, then we’ll do it. His health and happiness are my #1 priority.

Moar Prelim – Assuming we continue on the same track, we’ll see how things play out as far as what we do and when and how. I’d rather err on the side of caution than push to do something that’s a bit beyond what we’re ready for, but I’m hoping to continue exploring our new level, learning, and making improvements.

Continuing education (unmounted) – I’ve made this a focus for the past few years, and it’s kind of like the more I get, the more I crave. I like the more formal educational opportunities (like auditing clinics, attending seminars, watching lectures, etc) but there are just as many less formal ones to be found anywhere and everywhere. I’ve devoted a lot of time to my spreadsheet of the bloodlines of top level event horses, it’s up to 15 tabs now with all kinds of information logged and tracked in it. To me it’s a little bit of a pet project, and it’s been really interesting. Everything is an educational opportunity if you want it to be.

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It’s possible that I’ve already got a couple of educational things on my calendar, including something in Ocala in February.

Europe – alright for real, if I don’t get back to Europe this year, I’m going to be upset. I really want to see a few more stallions in person, especially Mighty Magic, and I’d love to tie some stud farm tours into another big event like Burghley, Bundeschampionate, or Lion d’Angers. To me it’s really nerdy and fun and fascinating and I freaking love it.

Be more positive/less self-deprecating – I mean I feel like this is kind of self-explanatory. It’s a tough one for me, because it’s much easier for me to see and focus on the things that went wrong or need work, and very much a conscious, continuous, concerted effort to be more positive-thinking. Even if it’s just shutting up and saying thank you when someone says something nice. It’s harder than it seems.

Volunteer – I have so much fun volunteering, and I think it’s really important to give back to the sport. I want to make an effort to volunteer as often as I possibly can. I don’t really have a set number in mind as far as hours, but if there’s a horse show happening and I’m available, I’ll volunteer.

End the year as a more educated rider than I began – I recognize that I’m in a phase right now where Henry is finally pretty “made” and I can really start to focus more on myself, both in and out of the saddle. After so many years of bringing up green horses on repeat, I find myself in uncharted territory for the first time in 15 years. Doing bigger and more difficult things than I’ve ever done before, or ever imagined doing. Challenging myself in ways I never thought I would. It’s uncomfortable and it’s awkward and the growing pains are real, and I LOVE IT. I’ve been given an opportunity here, and I don’t intend to waste it by feeling intimidated or afraid of failure.

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Do some FEH – assuming he isn’t looking ugly as hell, I’d like to get Presto out to at least one FEH class again this year. I don’t really care how he scores or if he qualifies for Championships or not, although it would be cool if he did so I could continue to go support the new Central Championships. Mostly I just want to keep getting him out in the world and getting life experience, whatever that may look like, but it’s important to me to support to FEH program.

Get Presto more educated to the bridle – I don’t mean, like… going on contact or in side reins or any of that, he’s too young. I just want him to be totally comfortable wearing his bridle, and to be able to ground drive him with the long reins clipped to his bridle for steering, and have him be both good at it and happy about it. Just the very very very basics to prep him for what’s to come in 2020.

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Get Presto gelded – The weather is really starting to piss me off with this. Seriously Texas, I just need like a 4-5 day stretch where we aren’t living in a mud pit but also it’s cold enough for the flies to be dead. Apparently that is a lot to ask, since I was literally spraying my mud-encrusted horses with fly spray yesterday. Reeeaaaaally hoping it’ll work out this month or next, because it has to. Once we hit March it starts getting hot again. And once he’s gelded he can start going out with other horses, instead of just his donkeys. I think he and Dobby will be GREAT FRIENDS.


 

What do you have in mind for 2019? Are you making goals, or just going with the flow?

2018 – How’d we do?

When I wrote my 2018 “goals” post, on January 2nd, I decided to eschew the typical goal-setting I had done before. Gone were the very specific “I want to go to X number of shows” or “Get X dressage scores under Y” or “qualify for X event/show”. Things that, while fine goals, sometimes just don’t happen due to things completely beyond our control. And also things, that, IMO, don’t really measure success accurately, or drive the kind of behavior and thinking that I’m trying to cultivate within myself. I wanted my goals to focus on the journey, not the destination, and I wanted to foster growth and learning. So I wrote: “Instead I’m going to focus more on doing things that a) make us better, b) enrich our relationship, c) are FUN. I’m not even gonna sit down and try to plot out a show season… we’ll go to whatever shows work out best, whichever and whenever those may be.“.

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I’m a pretty intense person, really competitive and goal-driven, so this departure from the norm was very different from how I’ve typically operated. The guidelines for the goals were pretty loose, and they mostly focused on improvement. Let’s see how it all hashed out.

Improve the stadium – I’m giving this one a lukewarm checkmark. Stadium has solidified it’s place as our shakiest phase, but I do think it has improved, especially as we got towards the end of the year. I still make plenty of mistakes, and my horse is still not careful, but we’ve gotten more consistent, more confident, and I feel more educated about it now than I did a year ago. 

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The picture you will never stop seeing. Not even sorry.

Do a couple Prelim CT’s – LOL well ok I guess we blew this one out of the water. Doing a full Prelim HT clearly wasn’t even something that existed as a possibility on my radar at the beginning of year, yet by year’s end we’d done those P CT’s I wanted (and ended up year end Reserve Champion for that series), some P jumper classes, a P/T horse trial, and a legit full horse trial at Prelim. We’ve still just barely stuck our toes in the water at Prelim, but that’s a lot farther than I’d ever have imagined we’d get this year.

More foxhunting – I got to foxhunt twice in 2018, which maybe isn’t as much as I had in mind, but it was what worked out. Still love it. Still want to do it more often.

Attend another big horse event – I reaaaaally wanted 2018 to be the year I finally got to go to Lion d’Angers, but due to scheduling conflicts it just didn’t happen. But I was able to take the money I would have spent on a France trip and instead plump up my fall show season, so in the end I think it worked out for the best. Someday, Lion, some day.

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Unless you want to count FEH Championships as a “big event”, then I’m in.

Get my volunteer hat – This was in regards to the volunteer rewards program at Pine Hill, where I do most of my volunteering. When you hit the 30 hour mark you get a Pine Hill hat, and I really wanted to prioritize volunteering this year, so I figured if I could commit enough hours to earn the hat, I’d be happy with that. Not only did I get the hat, I got the belt (for 40 hours) too!

Jump the stupid giant Texas Flag table at MCP – I didn’t get to jump the flag table at MCP, mostly because we only ended up schooling there once in 2018. I was about to mark this one in red when I read what I had written next to this goal: “It’s not really about the act of jumping the stupid thing, it’s about the confidence and ability that it takes to do it.“. Well, these days I would jump that Texas Flag table with no hesitation. It doesn’t scare me senseless anymore, and I feel confident that we can jump it successfully. So in that regard… maybe it’s a win?

Move Presto closer to me – That kid is as close as he could possibly get, since his pasture is like 30′ from Henry’s! 

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I love them so much.

End 2018 as a better rider than I started 2018 – I definitely feel like I learned a lot throughout the year, and came out the other side as a better rider, both mentally and physically. Taking the time to help my mental game has made a noticeable difference in my riding and my overall happiness. 

Keep running – I was doing well with this until summer hit, because I’d legit rather die than run in the Texas summer, and then shortly after I picked it back up this fall, I hurt my knee. The knee is still sketchy, so I haven’t been running, and this is normally my peak running season. I don’t really know what to do about that, because I don’t want to hurt my knee to the point that it’s a problem for riding. I’m hoping that with some “rest” it’ll get better and I can go back to my normal schedule.

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Enjoy the journey – Boy fucking did I! I had more fun this year than I ever have, and I really took the time to soak in all the things that I love about riding and about having horses. We had a lot of fun, and I love every second that I get to spend with my boys.

As for a few fun 2018 stats:

  • Henry did a total of 8 horse trials this year – 6 at Training, 1 P/T, and 1 Prelim – and 2 combined tests, both at Prelim. He’s already qualified for AEC 2019 at Training.
  • Presto went to 4 shows this year – two FEH, one hunter breeding, and one in hand trail.
  • The most popular blog post of the year was about Extreme Overjumping, it garnered 58,244 views.
  • I traveled approximately 5,322 miles going to and from horse shows, give or take a few.
  • Although if you count the shows I attended to work for the mobile tack shop trailer and not actually ride, tack on another 2,237 miles. Add the miles I traveled to go volunteer at shows and that’s an additional 866.
  • Fun perk of all the driving – I got to listen to 17 audio books this year (my favorite: The Sun Does Shine, by Anthony Ray Hinton), in addition to 4 podcasts. As far as regular books, I read 59.

 

Hope everyone else had a fun and successful 2018!

Bloghop: GIF name game

This all started last week in a group fb chat, where we were brainstorming to figure out a barn name for Hillary’s new horse. I started putting the various suggestions into the GIF search bar, which led to some hilarious results. Hillary posted about the process, with accompanying GIFs of course, and challenged us to play the GIF name game with our own horses. Challenge accepted! Because the GIF’s for my boys were both hysterical and extremely appropriate. Who knew that GIFs could be such an accurate predictor when it comes to names?

For Henry, the first one that popped up made me laugh way harder than it should.

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That’s a very happy vacuum snorting coke. And anyone who’s seen Henry’s cross country face knows that this could definitely be what he’s doing back in his stall before I come to tack him up. In fact, I often call him a coked out dolphin. This is pretty close.

The result from his registered name, He’salmostsweet, is just as appropriate. He IS sweet sometimes, but he would take serious offense at being called that.

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His show name, Happenstance, returns a few different ones, but this is my personal favorite.

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If those don’t sum Henry up perfectly, I don’t know what does.

As for Presto…

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Probably correct. I’m sure he’s got some terribly naughty idea brewing in that little baby hamster brain of his.

His registered/show name, Like Magic, is an accurate representation of his hair, if nothing else.

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Who knew that GIFs were this accurate when it comes to names and personality???

Good Instincts

Last week Henry got some annual vet maintenance, which meant a short vacation for him. That left me with plenty of extra time to torture dedicate to Presto!

the fact that he still happily greets me at the gate every day shows just how adorably naive he still is

First up was revisiting his ground driving/long lining skills. We’ve dabbled with this once before, very informally, with a couple of lunge lines on his rope halter. This time we upgraded slightly, as in this time I actually used real long lines. Still clipped to the halter though, because he’s just not quite ready yet to have them clipped on a bit. His outfit is a little goofy… he has to wear his very short little girth on the surcingle, otherwise it’s too big. And he’s also so freaking narrow and awkward that nothing stays in place, so the square pad is strapped to the surcingle, and then he’s wearing a cob size elastic breastplate to keep everything from sliding right off the back. Don’t ask questions, just go with it.

Dorky little outfit for “school”. The other kids were definitely making fun of him, but hey, nothing budged.

We started off with a little bit of long lining at the walk, just to remind him about the lines. He gave precisely zero shits. I moved around back to the ground driving position and flopped the lines around, tossed them up and down and over his back, and around his legs. Again, no shits given.

Whut you doing back derr? I is bored. (photobomb by Inca)

We stood under the covered for a few minutes while Hillary finished up with Inca, then ventured out to meander around and test the steering/brakes. A halter is obviously not ideal for steering, but he knows “whoa” so well by now that honestly he stops better from a voice command than he does from pressure on his nose. We walked around the arena, made some circles, changed directions, and walked over a pole. As long as he wanted to go where I was asking him to go, he steered great. Other times… well… not so much. If anything he is a little TOO sensitive, so once he started turning he’d basically just spiral back on himself. I had to get him used to the idea of turning for just a couple steps, or making a gradual continuous turn. For a big lanky baby, he is surprisingly agile.

We did succeed in making a few good smooth circles, and some successful passes over the pole, so we called it quits with that.

A couple days later was a jump day for Hillary and Inca, so I decided to tote Presto along to the jump field with us. The plan was to maybe lunge him for a couple minutes in the field, then have him stand there and be patient while Inca schooled and I set jumps. So far I’ve only lunged him in the ring (and when I say “lunge” with this horse, please keep in mind that I mean walk and trot for maybe 5 minutes), so I thought a little change of scenery would be nice, and he needs to learn how to put himself in park while I’m busy and/or while horses are working around him. I put his bridle on (this has been happening a lot lately and he is none too pleased with that particular development), put his rope halter on over it, clipped on a lunge line, and walked him out to field.

Once we got out there, Hillary went off to warm up and I put Presto on a circle around me. He was a little distracted worrying about where Inca went, so I asked for a lot of walk-trot transitions and changes of direction to keep him occupied. Then I realized that our little warmup gymnastic was totally something I could lunge Presto over, with a few changes. I moved a couple poles, put up some guide rails, brought the bounce in to make a little oxer, and decided to just try it and see what happened.

I’ve always bought horses that have never jumped before, so that feeling of not knowing how they’re going to do with it always makes me a little nervous. It’s like unwrapping a package and not knowing what’s inside. You just don’t really know how one will take to it, and how they will jump, until you point them at one. I mean… I know Presto’s parents, and I know he’s bred for this job, and I know his conformation gives him the ability to be correct, but STILL. As they’re going up to their first jump you’re always like “Oh god, please don’t suck at this. Please don’t jump like crap.”. I live in perpetual fear of the talentless or the knee-hanger.

Luckily Presto did not disappoint. He’s a little blase and ho-hum about it (that’s his general MO about most things) but I liked how he used his body over the little jump, and that he was tidy with his knees and smart with his feet. His natural instincts were good, he was very chill about it, and he seemed to understand the game. I was very pleased with both his aptitude and his attitude. Thank goodness!

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me, for sure.

So now we know how he moves and how he jumps, in it’s most raw, unpolished, uneducated form. I’m pretty excited about it, because I think all the raw material shows a lot of promise and ticks all the boxes. If anyone needs me I’ll just be over here impatiently waiting for him to grow up so we can polish everything up and get to the real fun stuff. Is he 4 yet?

Treat Yo Self Christmas edition

I definitely got some really cool gifts this Christmas, including but not limited to:

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this awesome Edgar Allan Poe print
a tire pressure monitor system for my trailer
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a navy Yeti mug for my hot chocolate habit

as well as the usual money and gift cards. I LOVE money and gift cards, because I get to do a nice little Treat Yo Self extravaganza on someone else’s dime. Even if one of those gift cards is being hastily ordered at 7am on Christmas morning by the SO, because that is the kind of next level procrastination I’m dealing with here. That’s okay though, because I’m pretty sure the guilt of exceptional delay caused him to throw more money on the card than he otherwise would have. I will take that, please and thank you. I’ve already got a cart full of stuff at Riding Warehouse, including a year’s supply of fly spray and salt blocks, a pair of brown Samshield gloves, another pair of white Horze breeches, and the long-coveted green Motionlite coat.

hello my pretty

My Amazon gift card is already half-used too, buying a new pair of casual shoes for work, because the ones I usually wear have a massive blowout. I have a very Homeless Chic vibe at the moment if you look at my footwear. Or maybe Horse-Poor Chic. Same thing.

From the cash I got, a large chunk of it went to the barn worker. I was going to give him a Christmas tip anyway, so it saved me a trip to the bank. He’s been working 7 days a week for months now, he’s definitely underpaid, and he always makes sure my boys are very well taken of. He deserved every bit of what I gave him. The farrier got his tip a few weeks ago when he showed up at 7am to tack a shoe back on Henry before a show. I had to hide it in his truck for him to take the money from me, but I succeeded. As far as the vets go, considering how much I’ve spent on Henry in the past 6 weeks between teeth, shots and coggins, and his annual injections, they’ve gotten plenty of my money lately (damn Henry feels AMAZING though). And Presto is getting gelded sometime in the next month, so there’s still more money coming to them.

Most of the rest of the cash is already spent too, upgrading to a new vest. I’ve been eyeballing a new one for most of the year now, and I finally used this as a good excuse to pull the trigger.

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the Dainese Balios 3

To back up a bit, up until a couple days ago I was still planning on buying the Airmesh. I already have an Airowear that I’ve been really happy with, and the Airmesh seemed like a good next step. I was kinda grumpy that it didn’t come in navy though, and I’ve never really stopped window shopping vests in the UK, since they have so many more options than we do. I found myself on Redpost looking at a helmet cover for my new Champion skull cap (you’ll hear more about that later. And the first person who asks how many helmets I have now gets punched in the throat.) and naturally I clicked over to the site’s body protector page.

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new skull cap cover!

I’ve looked into the Dainese brand before, because they have such a good reputation for their motorcycle safety equipment. A lot of the same technology that they’ve used in that market – especially when it comes to being comfortable, flexible, and lightweight – has been applied to their equestrian body protectors as well. Their most popular is the Balios 3, a BETA 3 approved vest that’s made from little hexagonal tiles of memory retention foam. In all of my online stalking of reviews and British forums, everyone seemed to unanimously agree that it was more comfortable, lighter, and breathable than either the Racesafe or the Airowear. To make things even more tempting, Redpost had the navy on sale. With the VAT removed, it was about half off of regular retail, which was too tempting for me to pass up. You can’t buy the Dainese in the US, so I took a bit of a leap of faith with it, but hopefully it fits and hopefully I like it! It’s definitely not like anything I’ve ever seen before.

Henry’s Christmas present was new blankets. Last week Horseloverz put the HUGs on sale, and at first I was going to order some for Presto for next year since he will definitely not fit in his current 72 by that point. But then I figured he’d probably fit in Henry’s 78’s next year, so why not give Henry’s old ones to Presto, and Henry could get nice pretty new ones! So he got a new navy sheet, blanket, and neck cover for a grand total of $130, and I’m happy because I don’t have to look at those ugly teal ones all the time now, since Presto isn’t blanketed much. Plus if he destroys those I won’t really care, since they’re already 3 years old.

As for Presto, well… he didn’t really get anything. He has everything a baby horse could possibly need, and since his current nickname is MOUTH, he’s been banned from treats for the foreseeable future. Hillary’s new horse moved into the pasture next to him though, and I can already tell that they will be great friends. As soon as Presto is gelded and Inca goes back home, they’ll probably end up being pasture mates. So there… I suppose he got a future friend for Christmas.

a big cute derposaurus future friend!

Hope you guys had a great holiday and maybe even got a few cool new toys, too! Tell me everything, you know I love horse stuff.