Building the Partnership

In the past few weeks, more than one person has asked me to write about my partnership with Henry. Either more details about how we overcame challenges that we faced along the way, or my thoughts as to how our partnership got to be the way that it is, or how it’s possible that I always seem to be so annoyingly pleased with my horses. Which… I have to say, I don’t think I’m an anomaly in that. There are a lot of examples of great horse and rider partnerships in the blog world.

HennyLove

And, to be totally honest, I feel kind of uncomfortable writing anything remotely similar to a how-to or giving very specific, detailed advice. It feels a little (a lot) douchey. Everyone’s situation is so unique, and I certainly do not have all the answers nor do I want to sit here and pretend like I do. I’m not a professional. I have plenty of issues, just like anyone else, and so do my horses. I also think that a big part of why my partnership with Henry has been such an overall happy one is because I’m one of the luckiest people on earth and blindly stumbled upon one of the most genuine, honest horses that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. That’s not skill, or savvy… that’s luck.

But it’s also true that the horse I stumbled across on facebook for $900 was a bit different from the horse I have now. It took a while to overcome some of his demons and make him happier and more confident in his work. He’s always been golden at his core, he just needed someone to show him how to take a deep breath. I was fortunate enough to have learned some valuable lessons from horses that came before him, and I was in the right place at the right time in my own education to be what he needed me to be in the beginning. I still made mistakes of course, plenty of them, STILL DO, ALL THE TIME, but things slowly started to click and come together for us.

lesson4
in the early days

Since then I’ve been even more fortunate to have my perspective evolve tremendously just by having the relationship that I do with Henry, and I’ve noticed that I’ve already carried the things that I’ve learned over to Presto. I spent my pre-Henry years buying cheap horses, training them up a bit, and then selling them, so I’ve owned more than my fair share. They all taught me something, but none of them have really brought everything into focus as much as Henry has. He’s been an incredible source of clarity for me – as a rider, as a horseman, and as a human being.

So I will (hesitantly) put pen to paper on this one, so to speak, and share the things that have really been cemented in my mind over the past several years with Henry, and from seeing the relationships that some of my friends have with their horses. I can sit here and tell you a thousand different stories, but in they end they all kind of boil down to just a few basic ideas, so I went with that instead. I’m hoping that, if nothing else, I’ll be able to look back on this post when I’m having struggles with Presto, or when it’s time to shop for the next horse, and be able to remind myself of what’s important. For me personally, all of these things have been really vital to building a good relationship with a horse. Future self, pull up a seat.

FWprofinal1

Be honest with yourself

I think that if you’re going to be successful, as a rider or a horseman or anything really, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you really need and what your abilities truly are. This takes a lot of self-awareness. But you see it ALL the time, people struggling through a bad relationship with a horse that just is not suited to them at all, for whatever particular reason. Unless you’re a pro, it’s not about what you can do (this isn’t a contest), it’s about what you want to do and what will make you the happiest. Do you actually need the fanciest, prettiest horse you can find? Do you really want a green horse? For me, I can do green, but even if I had the money, I’m never gonna go out and buy some big fancy upper level horse that requires a strong accurate ride and spends half of it’s free time being an idiot. I’m just not interested. Doesn’t suit my lifestyle or my preference or my skill level. So before you buy the horse: What do you really want? What are you really capable of? What type of horse will fit best into your personal situation? Be brutally honest in your self-assessment.

Which leads us to:

Buy the right horse.

For some people the right horse could be something straight off the track, whereas for someone else the right horse might be a 15yo been there done that QH that is rock solid and steady. There’s nothing wrong with either extreme, or anything in the middle. Young or green horses need consistency, they need confidence, they require a lot of time and energy, and they need to be properly educated… if you can’t realistically (or don’t want to) provide those things, get a horse that already has them. If there’s a certain brain or personality you really need or want, keep looking until you find it. And if you own a horse that isn’t right for you, or you don’t enjoy riding it, sell it. There’s some kind of weird stigma in the horse world that selling a horse equals “giving up” on it. This is insane. Most of the time both the horse and the rider are going to be much happier with a different partner or in a different career, and sometimes it’s just time to move on. Give yourself permission to do right by both of you, part ways, and find the horse you enjoy that fits your needs. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks.

horsesquote

Have realistic expectations

Honestly, just from my own personal observations, unrealistic expectations seem to be one of the major things that lead to people being really unhappy with their horses. They’re big prey animals with tiny brains, they are gonna be dumb sometimes. Some a lot dumber than others. You also can’t realistically expect a green horse to make up for your mistakes, or be perfect, or consistent. If you need a horse to do that, buy something that’s already made. Even then, it’s still a horse, not a robot. It’s important to always make your expectations clear and always be in pursuit of progress, but it’s also important to understand that they will not always be met. Shrug it off, reassess, and try again tomorrow.

Set yourself and your horse up for success

You see this all the time too, when someone makes a bad decision and you can already see the writing on the wall before it happens. There ends up being an accident, or the whole situation begins to quickly unravel. We’re human, we will inevitably make bad decisions sometimes. That’s part of it. But on the flip side, a lot of problems can be avoided if you take the time to stop, think, and then continue on. What I’m asking – is it fair? Is the horse prepared – mentally and physically? Have I done the homework? I try not to put any of us into situations where we’re unlikely to succeed – it’s so vital to keep the trust and the confidence up.

hennyselfie

It’s not personal

Ah, man. Another thing you see this all the time: someone saying their horse was “an asshole” or that their horse did this thing to them or that thing to them. Horses aren’t malicious, they’re reactive. They don’t wake up in the morning scheming about how to make us angry or make us look stupid. Every time I feel myself getting frustrated, I try to take the emotional element out of it and think about things from the horse’s perspective. Is he confused? Is he tired? Is he hurting? Is he lacking confidence? Am I doing something wrong? Henry especially has demanded this from me, and he still does. He is a very honest horse, but if he feels like you’re doing wrong by him, he will absolutely let you know. Not in a mean way, but in a “I’m done participating until you get your shit together” way. I appreciate that about him, because he’s made me a better horseman. Still working on the “better rider” part…

Make peace with the things you can’t change

There are so many things you can improve about a horse. His training, his gaits, his strength, on and on and on. But there are some things you can’t really fix, or some things that just won’t change a whole lot. I love Henry dearly, but I feel pretty sure that he will never be a particularly spectacular dressage horse. His natural default mode is tense, his natural gaits are meh, and his natural balance is downhill. There has been massive improvement – he is obedient and he is much more capable – but he will likely never be the dressage winner. I accept that. He also won’t ever be a particularly careful showjumper. He has the ability, but he’s a minimalist and just isn’t that bothered by touching a rail. I accept that too. He’s got crooked front legs, so I’m really careful about his shoeing schedule, the footing he works in, and his conditioning. These are facts, and I accept all of them. He makes up for it in a million other ways, so they just are what they are. No horse is perfect. If I couldn’t live with his faults, I would have sold him years ago. We’ll never stop working to improve the negative things, but I’m realistic about it, I accept it, and I’m not holding any of it against him. Don’t hold grudges against a horse just for being who he is.

TR18Pro1
although it’s not actually necessary to tap every rail, just saying

Everyone needs help sometimes

Pride and ego are the enemies to a good partnership. There will always be bumps in the road, things you need help with, situations that you aren’t sure how to handle. No one knows everything, and there is zero shame in bringing in a professional to help. To me it’s shameful to let a situation go on for too long, or to keep fumbling through something that isn’t working – almost always to the horse’s detriment. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Know when to hand the reins to someone else.

Patience is everything

It’s true, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was a solid horse and rider team. It takes time to build up the trust required – lots and lots of deposits into the trust bank. And being patient with yourself is just as important as being patient with the horse. To me this is one of the hardest parts. Especially not getting caught up in comparing yourself to other people, their horses, their progress, but just being patient and letting everything fall into place in it’s own due time. That’s so hard, but so critical.

1yrlead

Otherwise I mostly just try to remember to also keep it fun. It doesn’t always have to be work work work all the time. We goof off, we play around, we take days to just go exploring or for a bareback hack. It helps keep me grounded and remembering why I do this, and to be honest, I think those “fun” days have done more to strengthen the bond than all of the work days put together. We trust each other and have a pretty good level of understanding. Some days I just mentally can’t, and some days he just mentally can’t. So on those days, we just don’t. And that’s okay.

Henry isn’t perfect, and there are a lot of things he will never be, just like there are a lot of things I’ll probably never be either. But I appreciate all the good things about him, we mesh well together, and in a lot of ways he’s completely irreplaceable to me. I’m so appreciative to have this type of relationship with Henry right now, while I’m “raising” Presto. I can easily draw comparisons as I try to mold my and Presto’s relationship to mimic the one I have with Henry. It makes me think a little more holistically about how we got there, what I did right, and what I did wrong. There is plenty of both.

Best Of: Top 10 Search Terms

Back in the days when I actively watched my blog stats and made a real effort, I always looked through the “search terms” on a fairly regular basis. I was curious about all the different ways that people found my site – what they had searched for that somehow ultimately led them here. One time, a few years ago, I did a post with all the funniest search terms I had noticed. These days I don’t really actively look at that stuff very much anymore, but sometimes as I’m scrolling past, things catch my eye. One thing in particular got my attention the other day, which led me to looking through the search terms from 2018 so far. Oh my. There are some doozies. I thought they warranted a resurrection of the Best Search Terms post.

Image result for people are strange gif

The vast majority of them are what you’d expect – people googling the blog name, people looking for coupon codes, people wondering how to dye a saddle, or looking for specific product reviews. But sometimes you come across one that just really makes you raise your eyebrow for whatever reason. I picked my top 10 favorites out of those, set them in some awesome quote poster backgrounds, and here we are now.

Copy of Women Retro Vintage Quote Poster Template - Made with PosterMyWall

Like this one… I’m trying to imagine the person who typed this into their search bar. Is this a big problem in relationships? What did they decide to do? Did her logos get any better? I need closure on this.

Copy of Church FlyersInvitation - Made with PosterMyWall

I mean… I’m pretty sure I don’t do this very often, but… there there, here’s a kleenex.

Copy of Social Media Post - Made with PosterMyWall

Can’t really argue with that one, though. Accurate-apotamus.

Copy of Colorful quote template - Made with PosterMyWall

Did this person ask google to google this for him/her? And chew toys? Is that a thing?

Copy of Printable colorful wall art quote template - Made with PosterMyWall

99.9% sure I don’t want to know the motives behind this one, or why it led them to me.

Copy of spiritual poster - Made with PosterMyWall

Man, I really feel for the person who searched for this. Aren’t we ALL searching for answers like these? Will we ever find them? #deepthoughts

Copy of Stop bullying Motivational School poster template - Made with PosterMyWall

NO, INTERNET, NO! DO NOT DO THIS. NO.

Copy of Winner - Made with PosterMyWall

EQUALLY HORRIFYING, DO NOT DO THIS EITHER.

Copy of Inspirational Poster Template - Made with PosterMyWall

I’m… not really sure what to think of this one. I mean, I do have horses, so…

And last but certainly not least, my personal favorite:Copy of Love Watercolor Wreath Print - Made with PosterMyWall

I dunno kid, but if you found out please come back and let the rest of us know.

Of Spaceships and Shrunken Heads

It’s almost mid-May, which means spring is pretty much over in Texas. Once we get past tomorrow, the entire 10 day forecast has temps in the low to mid 90’s. Welcome to summer. Around here, that means sweaty horses and stagnant air. Which in turn means that the fly and gnat population, which has really just been moderate thus far, is about to explode.

Don’t want flies on your face? Grow a mustang forelock. #protip

I buy fly spray by the gallon, pretty much all year long. I’m almost all the way through the first gallon that I bought a couple months ago, so I ordered more yesterday. I also realized it was probably time to replace Henry’s 4 year old fly mask, which was starting to get really worn and kinda pokey at the eyes, so he got a new one a couple weeks ago. Presto didn’t have a fly mask either, but I had bought one for him in my last Riding Warehouse order, guessing at his size.

For Henry I got the Rambo Plus fly mask, which I’m fairly certain might last him for the rest of his life. He’s turned out alone, so he’s pretty easy on his fly masks, and this thing is rugged. His old one was your cheap basic Cashel, which I thought worked fine for him. It always sat a little too close to his eyes for my taste though, especially when he’d rub his head (he is Mr. Allergies this time of year). So I opted this time for a design that holds the mask out well away from the eyes. It’s a good design idea, and it works. But he kinda looks like a walking spaceship.

“I am not amused” (please say this in a robotic 1950’s alien type of voice)

When I first put it on we all laughed and laughed and laughed at him. He looks absolutely ridiculous. The mask is so big. It definitely gets the job done though, the fabric sits several inches clear of his eyes. Starting this weekend he’ll be wearing it pretty much all the time, so I’ll review the Spaceship Mask at some point.

Presto is still growing super fast and his eyes don’t really jut out from his head quite like Henry’s do, so I opted to take the cheap route and bought him a Cashel. I had good luck with how long Henry’s had lasted, so I stuck with what I knew. Looking at their size options I figured surely the 15h baby warmblood would fit fine in the arab/cob size. I mean, that seems pretty typical. His dam wore cob size stuff as a yearling and 2yo. His leather halter is a cob (okay granted, it’s on it’s very tightest holes). His rope halter is arab sized, which actually fits him pretty perfectly with it’s smaller nose. He outgrew his “yearling” size rope halter at like 9 months old because of how long his head is.

Why do all of my horses wear their opinions on their faces? Side note – please note how we’re now fully clipped into crossties and it ain’t no thang.

But what I didn’t really take into account is just how narrow his head is and how little his jaw is. His head is long, sure, but it’s narrow. You can’t really tell from this angle, but the mask is huge around his jaw. It’s not even possible to make the velcro tight enough to where it’s anywhere near snug. I’m pretty sure that if he just shook his head, the whole thing would go flying. Not gonna work this year.

So yesterday as I was throwing fly spray and dewormer and salt blocks into my Riding Warehouse cart, I perused the flymasks and found that the Noble Outfitters small equates to yearling/large pony size and it was on sale. His head is just so much more TB-like than his dam’s was. I kind of forgot. He might be tall, but his head is comparatively little. So I tossed the teeny tiny Guardsman mask in the cart, and hopefully that’ll work. The design of it is sorta similar to the Rambo, just not nearly as extreme with how far out it stands away from the eyes.

okay he does have a little bitty nose

So now tiny-headed Presto has his own mini-spaceship mask coming. Can’t wait to see the look he gives me when I put that thing on him. I hope they understand that I do this out of love, not just to make them look hilariously dumb. That part is a bonus.

Image result for cackling gif

Last week my fly wipes arrived from EnviroEquine and I have to say, I think they’re working REALLY well so far. I’ve been wiping ears/faces/noses/legs with those and have definitely noticed way fewer flies on both boys. They’re especially great for Henry when we ride out in the fields – the head shaking is pretty much gone. The smell is a little funny, but as long as they work like this, I can live with it.

Headed into summer I have one more “care” issue I need to tackle – protecting Presto’s little white nose. He’ll only come inside during the heat of the day in the afternoon, so I’ll need to put something on his nose to keep it from getting sunburned the rest of the day. People with white nosed horses that live on the surface of the sun – what’s your favorite product for sun protection?

Presto the Show Horse

A few months ago when I was planning Presto’s move and subsequent, uh, life… I tentatively highlighted a couple of Future Event Horse shows that I might consider taking him to. Caveat being, since he’s a yearling, it would depend on how he looked at that particular moment in time. He’s a leggy, rangey, kinda scrawny looking type of guy. His large percentage of thoroughbred blood is obvious. While I personally think that’ll make him end up being a pretty great event horse type, right now it makes him look a bit like a baby giraffe. Sometimes llama.

He has great hair though

While most of the judges at FEH are able to see through stuff like that, it certainly doesn’t put him at his best for the whole in-hand showing thing when he’s in the middle of a particularly giraffey growth spurt. A couple weeks ago he actually was looking like the May 20th show might be possible. He’d filled out a lot, his neck was looking pretty normal, and he almost had a butt. Then, seemingly overnight, he grew another inch and everything went back to mega giraffe mode. Like… he’s cute from only a few very specific angles, and only if he stands very still. I love him, but it’s true. He’s hardcore in the teenage awkwards.

when mom left you tied IN the stall, but since you’re basically a piece of spaghetti you can contort yourself sideways through any opening

So, the May 20th FEH show is a no-go. I just have a hard time wanting to send in the entry and spend a couple hundred dollars when he’s not in a particularly attractive stage of growth. I thought about just saying screw it and taking him anyway, for the experience, but… it’s a long drive and a lot of money to spend for experience.

There’s another little show here in town this coming weekend at the place where I sometimes take Henry for laid back Combined Tests. It’s cheap, it’s a lot closer, and it still has plenty of hustle and bustle and LOTS to look at. More than the other show, honestly. They also offer one in hand class – “in hand trail”. Presto is definitely not a trail horse. I have never done a trail class in my life. I’m not even totally sure that I know what it is. I mean, Henry and I have wandered over to their trail course a couple times so he could snort at all the pool noodles (there are so many pool noodles) but that’s the extent of my education.

Naturally, I cackled wildly and signed Presto up for in hand trail.

showentry
when the show organizer finds the note you left in your online entry form

I mean, worst case scenario he won’t go near any of it and we “wasted” our $15. But they let you come school the course beforehand, so we’ll have a little time to snort and freak out at all the weirdness before I have to try to actually get him through the whole thing. I’ll be honest, if I can get him through it all, I’ll be shocked. It’ll be good for him, though.

SHEtrail
Some of their trail course. Gonna go out on a limb here and say that the pool noodle curtain might be our undoing.

Last week I did set up a couple of little things with poles in our arena… a square that he had to pivot in, an L shape that he had to back through, and two barrels set about 4′ apart that I “sent” him through back and forth by himself. He understood all of it pretty much immediately, then a few horses neighed in the barn and he forgot his place in the world for a moment. A few corrections later, he remembered.

that face you make when you remember that you reside at the bottom of the totem pole

So I have no idea how any of this will go, but at the very least it will be good for him to get in the trailer and go somewhere alone, get to see the commotion of a show, and be expected to “perform” and pay attention in the midst of it all. It might be a long day for all of us. There will be a lot of those in the next 4 years.

As an aside, I texted the farrier yesterday to ask how Presto was for his trim and he said “Perfect! He gets a gold star.”. Majorly proud mom moment right there. He was not so good before and I’ve been working with him a lot, because I can’t friggin stand it when horses have bad farrier manners. He’s gotten to where he’s really good for me now, but you never know whether those manners will translate in the real world. Very glad he wasn’t a monkey (and so was the farrier)!

From ponies to dinosaurs

This past Saturday was the SO’s birthday. It was also the really cool charity eventing derby that was highlighted, capitalized, and underlined on my calendar. Plus Badminton and the KY Derby. Like, really, not a good time for a birthday, man. But I had been working on this really exceptional plan for over a month now, one that would allow me to go to the eventing derby and still not look like the world’s worst girlfriend. I admit, I generally AM pretty much the world’s worst girlfriend, but I always try to do well on birthdays to help make up for the other 364 days when I suck.

totally unrelated, but new favorite picture

My plan was great. It was plotted pretty much down the half hour, and would work out perfectly to where I could go to the eventing derby and still not lose any face. The SO’s friends were going to take him to this punk festival thing during the day on Saturday, I was going to do the derby, and then we were going to meet up for dinner and drinks afterwards. Sunday and Monday I had planned a whole mini-vacation for us together. It was gonna work out totally fine.

And then the punk festival got cancelled.

And then on Friday morning one of the guys that works with me said “Don’t forget I’m out on Monday”. My head whipped around and I said “No you’re not, I’m out on Monday.”. There are only 3 of us in our department, it’s a big problem for more than one of us to be out at a time. Like… to be avoided except in cases of extreme emergency.

Image result for ruined gif parks and rec

Turns out that he submitted his PTO request online, but never wrote it on our big “department” calendar that we all use to see everyone else’s days off. So when I went to check the calendar before I submitted my online request, it showed no one else being off. Our boss didn’t catch that we’d both submitted PTO for that day. Well SHIT. I am technically the lead, so… I let the other guy have Monday.

That meant that I had to scratch the derby and rearrange all of our Sunday/Monday plans over to Saturday/Sunday. I was not a happy person. I was also a very stressed-out person, especially when I couldn’t move my camping reservation at the state park because there were no available spots for Saturday. After a lot of frantic googling I was able to book us a spot elsewhere, and got everything else moved too. I was really really sad sending that email about having to scratch the derby though.

Saturday we loaded up and headed out toward Glen Rose, about 2 1/2 hours north of us. We stopped along the way in a small town for breakfast, where I tried to really discreetly watch the Badminton XC feed on my phone (because see above about bad girlfriend).

this is subtle, right?

I didn’t feel that bad, he spent the whole time replying to facebook “happy birthday” messages on his phone. Then we finished our drive up to Glen Rose and hit Dinosaur Valley State Park, did some hiking, and looked at the dinosaur tracks in the river bed.

After that it was over to a brewery. I hate beer and hate breweries even more, but the SO is a mega beer nerd, so I just sat there and people-watched (OKAY FINE I WATCHED BADMINTON REPLAYS) while he drank beer.

Then we went to dinner (where I might have also watched the live stream of the KY Derby in a slightly too-loud way. Look, this is the best I can do. This tiger can’t change her stripes.), followed by a trip to the local soda fountain for a malt.

That night we camped in a little RV park I found online. The SO is the one who bought the trunk tent for me in the first place, yet he had never stayed in it. He said he liked it, but I’m 99.9% sure he’s totally lying and would prefer to never stay in it again. He didn’t listen to me about which clothes to bring and ended up freezing his butt off overnight. He’s definitely more of the AirBnB type than the truck tent type. You know what I mean.

Sunday morning after breakfast we went to Dinosaur World, a little park nearby that has bigass dinosaur statues, fossils, and a little museum. Apparently people don’t come there much without kids, because the ticket guy was pretty sure that we were in the wrong place. Can’t a gal just like dinosaurs?

I mean
so realistic. much fancy.

After that we headed home, with a quick stop at a Tractor Supply along the way to get treats for Henry and alfalfa pellets for Presto. We were home early enough that I had time to go fit in another ponying session with the boys while it was still daylight. And there were enough puddles leftover from Friday’s rain to where we were able to drag Presto through some of them. Sorry not sorry, baby event horse.

pouting

Today the boys get pedicures (because yeah sure, why not go ahead and write the farrier a fat check just days after writing my first double board check – who needs money?) so we’ll find out how Presto is for the farrier. He’s had trims before, with mixed success, but I’ve been working with him a lot since he got here, so I’m hoping he’s polite. Or at least not a total hellion.

Still really really sad to have missed the show this past weekend, especially because it feels like I haven’t seen anyone in forever, but there are a few more things on the docket in the next month before everything comes to a grinding halt for the summer. Hopefully none of those plans get hijacked too.

Friday Musings

I had a much longer, semi-intelligent post drafted for today but I’m too tired for that level of editing, proofreading, and discussion right now. Can’t. Instead you get all the ramblings of the stuff that’s going through my head at the moment. Yeah, it’s okay if you run away now.

Image result for run away gif
Side note, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is still one of the most brilliant movies ever made. There, I said it. 

First of all, I feel like I should address something.

It’s okay to disagree with me. You don’t have to post comments under fake names or try to hide your IP address (WordPress is better at tracking that than you think, anyway 😉 ) or whatever else. If I couldn’t handle criticism, scrutiny, and dissent, I wouldn’t be a blogger and put my life on blast. I’m always open to rational, polite discussion, either here or privately. My contact page is always open, so to speak. Granted, if you come at me with a lot of caps and a boatload of exclamation marks, I’ll probably ignore you. Otherwise though, I love having a good conversation from someone who sees things differently than I do. Just want to make sure I’m clear on that. And, for the record – no, I don’t support a total zero tolerance blood rule, but I do think something needs to be done. IMO a yellow card system is better and more appropriate.

Heavy stuff out of the way, if you guys aren’t watching the Badminton live stream you’re really missing out. They’ve always got THE BEST commentary, it’s worth watching just for that alone. The Brits, they are cheeky as hell and brutally honest, but still somehow manage to not come off as catty or rude. You have to love it. My favorite comments from yesterday were “The horse stood on his hind legs, waving his front legs in the air very elegantly…” and “really lovely piaffe”.

Image result for rearing horse gif
unfortunately this is not part of the 4* dressage test
Image result for piaffe gif
neither is this

The XC course this year looks pretty smart, I’m interested to see how everything plays out. I’ll be rooting for MJ & Sam, the two by Ramiro B (Cooley SRS and Cooley Earl), and Lauren Kieffer of course. Watching her performance on Vermiculus last weekend was inspiring (clearly they have a great partnership, I love it) and she deserves a little bit of vindication with Veronica.

It also just occurred to me that the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow. I watched a few of the prep races, mostly by accident, but otherwise have not kept up with racing at all this season. On a very selfish, superficial level, I’ll be rooting for Audible. I admit it, I want the free American Pharoah audiobook.

bookquote

I’ve been going a little nuts on Audible lately. I drive a lot, so it works. I’m almost done with James Comey’s book (whether you like him or not, it has been really illuminating, I have to say) and have Joe Biden’s, Trevor Noah’s, and one of Buck Brannaman’s up in the queue. That’s something like 24 hours worth of audiobooks, which sadly won’t really take me that long to get through. Sometimes I feel like I live in my truck. There is a busy weekend ahead, with least 12 hours total on the road. Any other must-download books that I should check out? For audiobooks I really prefer either true crime or autobiography/memoir types. I read fiction on my kindle. Can’t freakin stand how most of them are narrated.

Have a good weekend everyone! Who are you rooting for in the Derby and at Badders?

Well, nuts.

Seriously, though… NUTS.

Yesterday was Presto’s gelding appointment. I’m sure he wouldn’t be happy with me sharing this all over the internet, but his testicles are TINY. Like maybe slightly bigger than jordan almond size. I could clearly feel/see one of them, and I was fairly certain that I was feeling the other one too, although it wasn’t clearly visible.

Drunk kiddo getting felt up

The vet arrived, felt him up (there is no dignity in what happened, why lie?) and declared that yes indeed both of them had dropped enough to where he could remove them. Great, let’s do this!

So we started with sedating Presto a bit so that the vet could start washing him up and get a plan of attack. Since they’re so teeny and not super dropped, they could be a little tricky. Once we got him sedated (and then twitched, because let me tell you who is NOT OKAY with the big creepy vet feeling up on his nuts) he started prepping. One part of that prep was making sure that it felt like the inguinal ring on either side was closed up enough to where the risk of hernia was not high.

Prestostallface

And, well, that’s as far as we got. The left side, the one with the testicle that is the most dropped, felt good. But the right side, the one with the testicle that’s still a bit higher up, felt a little bit too open still, in the vet’s opinion. He said he was 80% sure that we could go ahead and do it, put some sutures in there on that side, and it would be fine. But he thought the risk for hernia was higher, and that gave him pause.

He gave me 3 options:

1 – go ahead and do it, put the sutures in, and hope that between the sutures and the subsequent swelling, it would be enough to prevent the intestines from popping down through the ring.

2 – take him to a vet hospital, have them lay him out on the table, and do a more intensive surgery to make sure the inguinal ring got closed up securely.

3 – Wait a few months, check it again, and see if the inguinal ring has closed up enough on it’s own to pose less of a risk for hernia.

I know you come to my blog just for the fun things you get to see. 

That choice was pretty clear. Presto doesn’t act studdish, doesn’t seem to realize yet that he’s a colt, and he’s nowhere near any mares. We have the ability to keep him segregated without much trouble, at least for the shorter term. So we aborted our mission and the vet will check him again in July when he’s back for Henry’s mid-year vaccinations. Hopefully by then the ring has closed up a bit more and the risk is much lower. Given his history, neither the vet nor myself was very excited at the idea of embarking on a potentially risky venture.

So for now, he gets to keep his nuts. Their days are numbered, though.

Unsaid

I feel like a lot of you have probably been waiting for me to post about the latest bloody mouth controversy, this time at LRK3DE. I’m not going to. I’ve said everything I have to say about that situation, over and over and over again, ad nauseam, since 2015. I’m tired of saying it. I have nothing new to add on my feelings about any of that. I feel a little lost for words, and really cynical, and yeah a bit dispirited too. It’s the same old song and dance, playing on repeat.

Image result for make it stop gif

It does seem like the horse world in general has grown as weary of it as I am, though, because wowzers… the internet the past few days has been on fire. Whether its a blaze of glory or a dumpster fire probably depends on where you stand and what you’re reading. Sometimes maybe it’s a little of both. Either way, it’s burning.

One company did withdraw sponsorship though, and I toddled right over to their website to make a purchase. I will support any company with enough integrity and strength of character to stand firm on their morals in a situation like this. That’s not always an easy thing to do when you could quite easily just “go dark”, slip into the background, and wait for the worst of it to pass. Many other companies have done that, but EnviroEquine didn’t.

EnviroEquine

I also sent my freshly updated formal letter (which, it’s sad I even have something like this saved, much less that it was drafted 2 years and 3 incidences ago) to the good folks at USEF – integrity@usef.org – and ECIU – report@equestrianintegrity.com. The ECIU is an Independent Body with its chairperson reporting directly to the FEI President or his or her designee(s). Just… adding my voice to the choir, I suppose.

My excitement for Badminton has flagged a bit, but I’m still interested to see how it plays out. I’m really torn about whether to root for Michael Jung and Sam, or a Ramiro B offspring. Kinda partial to both… I’ve been a huge Ramiro B fan since the Ballynoe Castle days. The LK3DE winner, Cooley Master Class, is also a Ramiro B offspring, and Ollie Townend will be aboard yet another another one this weekend in Cooley SRS. How cool would it be for Ollie to win the Grand Slam with 3 different horses, 2 of which are by the same sire? There’s even one more Ramiro B offspring in the Badminton field – Badminton first timer Cooley Earl.

Image result for ramiro B
Ramiro B ❤

Okay, maybe I’m the only breeding nerd that thinks that way, but how could you not love Ramiro B? He’s legendary, and if I had the right mare for him I’d breed to him in a heartbeat.

And, side note, Riding Warehouse has 20% off their Charles Owen helmets and vests right now for their BETA week promotion. Maybe you can buy a fancy new helmet to protect your noggin while you beat your head against a wall about the bloody mouth thing. Safety first.

 

Brick by Brick

I have to admit, one of the cons (in my mind) of bringing Presto home is that I wasn’t sure I’d have much time to do anything with him. Sometimes doing stuff with babies on the ground can turn into a big time and attention suck, and I was worried it might take some of my focus off of Henry.

both of them have A+ “so bored with you” faces

Turns out though that I have a greater capacity for focus than I thought, because now I’m just super obsessed with both of them. I absolutely love working with Presto every day, even if it’s something as simple as a quick grooming session. I think part of it is that every day I can see how much more educated he’s getting, how much more he’s bonding with me, and how much more self-confidence he’s gaining. At this age, and with these types of tasks, it’s a pretty slow but steady increase. That’s always fun. He also seems to really thrive off of having something to do, and having expectations to meet.

I don’t find his baby moments to be frustrating or annoying, I see them as teaching opportunities. If we can iron that stuff out now, all the better. And every time he has a baby moment, and I correct him and show him what I want, he grows a little bit more mentally. He clearly sees me as his leader now, and he seems pretty content in my company. Also adorable that he keeps coming up to me when I go to get him every day. Not gonna lie, it’s cute. Especially because I know that at some point the Arrogant Phase will come upon us and he will start testing his boundaries more. For now though, this stage where the growth is evident day after day, is really rewarding.

I stand here quietly like Good Boy

Really, the ultimate goal is to build the horse that I want for myself for the future. A confident one with a good work ethic that’s happy in his work and trusts me. Every single thing we do is laying the ground work for that, brick by brick.

left them unsupervised while I went to into the tack room for a minute – no problem

Being able to pony him off of Henry (and use Henry as a “demo horse” to introduce things that Presto has been a bit unsure about, like fly spray and baths) has been really awesome. Yesterday we did our 3rd ponying session, our second one outside of the ring. This time we covered pretty much the entire property – both of the big hay fields, the corn field, and walked around the front of the barns up by the owner’s house. We walked through brush, up and down hills, through some deep sand, in between rows of tall corn stalks, over a natural ditch, near the road, and even paused to walk over a piece of a plywood a few times.

Henry snorted at it a lot. Presto did not.

Aside from the fact that I love being able to expose him to this stuff at an early age, I feel like the physical conditioning is important too. His pasture is not super big, it’s pretty much totally flat, and he is not very active on his own. Event horses don’t get to spend their lives on perfectly groomed footing (especially not one of mine) so I want to make sure that his bones and tendons get a little bit of easy conditioning while he’s still growing. It’ll make him a stronger horse later on. We did do a couple one minute spurts of trotting yesterday too, including one go up the big hill and through some tall grass. We won’t do this more than once or twice a week, but I really love that we have the opportunity. I didn’t have the right situation to be able to do any of this when Sadie was this age.

The ponying has also seemed to make his tying skills pretty darn solid. He learned on day 1 that resistance was futile, and he was going to end up following the pressure whether he wanted to or not. He doesn’t even question it now. Glad we learned that lesson while he’s still small.

guess he smells nice

The ponying is also getting him used to having me above him, directing him, patting him, and giving verbal cues. We’ve mastered the cluck, and are about 60% there on the “whoa”. Sometimes he’s not as keen on that part. Yesterday he also got a lesson in learning to move away from leg pressure when he tried to lay his body a little too much into Henry’s sides. I reached out with my leg and moved his body back over into his own space.

Henry continues to reprimand him with pinned ears or a snaking head when appropriate, but he’s remained super rock solid in his ability to put up with nonsense, and he seems to understand that this is a baby. I got really lucky on that one.

thanks for this fancy new chew toy, he’s delicious

On the other days when we’re not ponying, we work on crosstie manners, grooming, farrier-related stuff, bathing, loading, tying, or in-hand work. The sessions stay short, and we alternate what we work on. Turns out there’s plenty to do with a yearling.

The most fun part, though, is how much I’m starting to understand his personality, and how much he’s starting to come out of his shell. He was so reserved and guarded at first, but now I’m starting to get some interaction and see what he’s really like. We’re starting to understand each other and speak the same language. No matter how many horses I’ve had or how many times I’ve done this, building the relationship with the horse is always the most fun part for me.

Tomorrow is Presto’s big ChopChop appointment – he’s getting gelded – so cross all your crossables and offer a few firstborn children to the Horse Gods that everything goes okay. I’m extremely nervous, because I’m just nervous about anything even remotely medical with this horse. Surgery… EEK. Hopefully it’ll all be fine.

Holes and Dangly Bits

So, funny story about Sadie’s filly, Madeline.

In that, well… it’s not. Because it’s a colt.

Manny2

Poor Michelle. She’s never living this one down. I’ll make sure of it.

After everything that happened last year with Presto, anxiety was high this time around. I think she was so focused on getting and keeping a healthy foal that she never went back to verify her first cursory glance at the plumbing. And, in her defense, he IS a very pretty colt.

Manny1

So imagine her surprise when she finally happened to catch him peeing, and well… there was a ween. Hence how Maddy is now Manny.

The new registered name options kept flowing all weekend, with such favorites as:

Misleading WTW

Misinterpreted WTW

Miss-ter WTW

Misconception WTW

Madeyalook WTW

Mansplained WTW

Mistaken Identity WTW

Masquerade WTW

Misunderstood WTW

I have to be honest, she told me this on Friday and I’m STILL having random hysterical fits of laughter. To the point where I’m crying and can’t breathe. Like I laughed so much that first day, my abs hurt all weekend.

Again, poor Michelle. She wanted a filly so badly so that she could keep it. But I can guarantee that from now on she’ll not only check, double check, and triple check under the tail for the number of holes, she’ll be on definite lookout for dangly bits. It’s a good thing that she has such a good sense of humor about everything and can laugh at herself too, cuz I’m sure as hell laughing.

Image result for its a boy gif

This does change the results of the baby bets contest though. The winner never actually contacted me to claim her prize, so I went back and re-calculated things and this bumped the runner-up into the winner’s spot. That works out.

And of course this makes Sadie 3 for 3 on colts, and means Presto has a little brother. So, uh, welcome Manny!