Presto’s Favorite Things Prize Pack

Peyton has ruined all of my plans by not releasing her hostage yet (345 days pregnant today, but who’s counting), so I still have no Foal Friday to offer. Mare is indeed a four letter word. Maybe she’s waiting for Lark, Chanel’s surrogate, to be ready so they can foal together? Lark is 323 days. Sigh. What’s a girl gotta do to get some fluffy baby horse cuteness up in here?

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But I have been meaning to go back and revisit my post from January where I offered up a contest related to Presto’s US Event Horse Futurity participation. To recap what I originally posted:

Each time there is a Presto post on the Futurity facebook page, anyone who likes (or loves… I’m a big fan of those loves…) his post AND leaves a comment will get entered into a pot to win a “Presto’s favorites” prize package, to be given away at the culmination of the Futurity – basically a box of items that Presto loves and fully endorses. If you SHARE a post, that will get you TWO additional entries for each post you share – just make sure the shared post is set to public on your privacy settings so that I can see that you shared it. So that’s up to possible 3 entries for each Presto post. Only caveat to win is that you must be following the US Event Horse Futurity page.

But I never actually went back and expanded on what the Presto’s Favorite’s prize package would include, so… here we go, I’m circling back around to it now. To make it quick and easy it’s all gonna come from one place (Riding Warehouse) so you get a whole box of goodies that were purchased on Presto’s (aka my) dime and mailed straight to you. Because honestly I SUCK at going to the post office and don’t even wanna. Let’s cut out the middleman shall we? Any items that involve sizes or colors will be of the winner’s choice. Here’s what Presto picked out from the RW website to include:

First and foremost, his favorite item in the world, of course.

He firmly believes that every horse in the world needs a ball, full stop, whether they want one or not (hence why he likes throwing his at Henry and laughing when Henry runs away in horror).

A FLUFFEH halter. Because how else would everyone know you’re a cool kid the second you step off the trailer? Duh. Cool kids wear fluffs.

Not only is it NOMS (omg noms) it’s noms in the shape of a BALL. OMG.

This is the icky smelling spray but it keeps those big mean buzzy things that chase him (botflies, he means botflies) away so it’s really important, you gotta wear it every day to be buzzy-thing-free. Mean scary buzzy things.

But have you ever known the sheer pleasure that is holding a heavy duty cotton lead rope in your mouth? What about chewing on it until it’s completely soaked with spit? Omg, divine.

Water is really fun to stomp and roll in but baths are THE WORST. No good, very bad, much hate. So anything that helps him go longer in between baths, or avoid them altogether, like this stain remover spray, is Presto approved.

You know what’s sooooo annoying? When humans take too long to do things. Like feed him. Or give him treats. Or buy him new balls when he murders them. Patience is not his forte. That includes the amount of time that it takes for a human to put on and tie his rope halter. Like… ain’t nobody got time for that. This handy little hook makes it quick and easy, no tying required. Because standing still is dumb. (if you don’t own a rope halter yet then we’ll throw in one of those too!)

Along that same vein, standing still for braids is EVEN WORSE. Especially when humans want to sew them in… omg. Places to go, horses to meet, important Presto business to conduct, he ain’t got all day people. You’ve got about a 15minute attention span before the wiggles set in, so you better pop those braids in (and out) quickly. Quick Knots to the rescue!

And last but not least, giramoose are very accident prone, which means they almost always have at least 3 wounds at any given time. To help them heal, we require a lot of antibacterial ointment. Like… a lot of it. A. LOT. OF. IT. This stuff makes his owwies feel better so that he can go back out and get more of them! Yay.

So there you have it, 9 of Presto’s most favorite items in the whole world, and almost $150 worth of prizes shipped straight to whoever wins! So far he’s only had 3 posts on the Futurity page – a January intro post, his breeding/pedigree vlog in February, and his starting U/S vlog in March. His next one isn’t due until May, so you’ve got a little while til then.

In the meantime there are lots of other starting vlogs still being posted too. They’re pretty fun to watch, to see how other people introduce their young horses to things for the first time. I’ve already gleaned something that I’ll be using in the future. While likes/comments/shares on Presto’s posts are the only ones that count for this particular contest, the Futurity does give away their own prizes throughout the year to people who comment and like and share and ask questions. I greatly encourage you to look through the videos from all the different entrants, if you feel so inclined. Your interactions with the page help bring it more attention and expand the audience, and that’s what we’re after. Plus, let’s give all the entrants some love – each and every one of these horses has been years of blood, sweat, and tears for someone, and they also represent some big hopes and dreams. Sometimes just a simple handful of likes can make someone’s day, so please spread the love if and when you can!

Sharing my Sources

At least a couple times a month I get emails or DMs from people asking me to help them find information on their horse’s pedigree or background. As you can probably tell from my extreme level of nerdiness about all things pedigree, I have spent a lot of time falling deep into rabbit holes on the internet looking for information. Especially when I’m doing spreadsheets for my “It’s in the Blood” series… you’d be amazed how freakin hard it can be to find information on even the most famous of horses sometimes (especially the Irish ones, omg). Names change, details don’t get entered… it’s a mess.

So I figured I would make a little reference post sharing what websites I use most when it comes to pedigree research or similar information. There are some really useful databases out there if you know where to look, although I have to say that none of them are totally complete – hence why I use several instead of just one.

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Thoroughbreds

Thoroughbreds are obviously the easiest, assuming you have their registered name. If you’re lucky the horse will be showing under their JC name and it’s as easy as making a trip to Equibase, where you can see their sale history, race history, and pedigree, all for free. You can watch race replays through Equibase too, if you have a subscription (or you can buy a day pass for $5.25).

However some tracks have race replays available for free, depending on how far back you need to go. If it’s a California track you can go to Cal Racing and search by date, track, and race (which you know from looking at the horse’s Equibase results tab). You have to have an account for that site, but it’s free. For other tracks just try googling the track’s name with “race replays” and see what you come up with, you might get lucky.

If you want to see if said horse has any siblings, you can go to the Dam’s Foal Search page and look for them that way. I usually then take that information to facebook and google and run a search to see if I can find pics or info about the siblings.

Another option for researching TB’s is Pedigree Query, although that database is not as complete and anyone can go in and edit anything, so I always prefer to use Equibase first. Sometimes there will be pictures of the horse or it’s parents or grandparents in PQ though, so it may be fun for a quick consult just to see (CANTER often puts pics in PQ if the horse comes through their program, so if it was a CANTER horse you might be lucky and find a fresh-of-the-track pic). You can also go in and put pics and info of your own horse into PQ if you want to, just in case anyone happens to come looking later. You just go to the horse’s pedigree page, hover over Maintenance, and then click Add/Edit Information.

I’ve added some info and a pic to Henry’s PQ page just in case anyone ever comes looking for him

If you don’t know the horse’s JC name then your options are slimmer.

For a horse competing at the national level you can look in USEF via their Horse Search and use the “All Aliases” option – sometimes you’ll get lucky and it’ll actually have the horse’s aliases (which might be the JC name) or at least list the parent’s names (and then you can use the Dam’s Foal Search combined with the birth year on Equibase to come up with a JC name) if the rider/owner put that information in. A lot of times they don’t, but… worth a shot. I think you need a USEF membership (even just at the “fan” level) to use this search function. However, you can pretty much always find a promo code for a free USEF fan membership. If you can’t, give me a holler and I’ll find one for you.

If it’s a lower level eventer you can look in the USEA Horse search database to see if they entered the parent’s names.

Horse search box is right here on the main page
parents!

If you still come up empty, your final options are creative Googling – which is worth a shot because sometimes you can find a website or something and hit the jackpot – or facebook. If you’re super creepy (like me. Yes I’ve done this.), you can always try to find the owner, message them, and see if they know the information. There’s no shame in my game, and it’s paid off more than once. Worst thing they can do is ignore you (no skin off my back) or think you’re crazy (they’re probably right).

Warmbloods/Sporthorses

Things get a little more complicated on this side of the spectrum, mostly because there isn’t one centralized motherload database. So, bear with me here and I’ll run you through some options.

The first thing I usually do is go plug the horse’s name into Horsetelex and Hippomundo. Yes, I always do both. They’re both good databases, but each has their pros and cons (Hippomundo is sometimes missing horses that Horsetelex has, but Horsetelex often isn’t as up to date on performance results as Hippomundo). So I usually pop open two tabs and search for the horse in both sites. If all you want to do is look up a horse to view it’s basic pedigree, they’re both free for that function. Fun Fact: all 3 Belgian registries (BWP, sBs, Zangersheide) have a partnership with Hippomundo, so any horse registered with one of those 3 registries is automatically entered into Hippomundo (as of… 2012ish? I can’t remember when that started.). If you’re looking for a Belgian-registered horse, Hippomundo is your place. For example, Presto is registered sBs, so they entered him when he was issued his papers.

I obviously need to update this

Ok, so… let’s say you want to do more than just view the horse’s pedigree. What if you want to find out if the horse has other siblings? You can use both of these sites to do that, however, keep in mind that they aren’t always complete. Especially if the sibling never did anything of note in sport, or wasn’t used as a breeding animal. If it’s sitting in someone’s backyard doing nothing, odds are that it won’t show up in your searching UNLESS it was Belgian-registered or it’s breeder/owner cared enough to enter it into the database themselves at some point. Fair warning. But, it’s still worth a look.

To find this on Horstelex, there are two steps: 1) go to the horse’s pedigree page. 2) Click on their dam (remember horses are only considered siblings or half siblings if they share a dam) 3) on the dam’s pedigree page click on Progeny

The list of all the Sadie foals in Horsetelex, which is all 4 of them because I’ve entered each one

If you want to look at the sire’s production instead, you would use the same steps – click on his name in the pedigree, go to his page, and click on Progeny. Some stallions have hundreds and hundreds of progeny in there, and there’s a handy “Sport” column where it’ll show what level the horse has competed to. BEWARE though, this isn’t always up to date. And for the eventers, they haven’t yet switched over to the new star system (it’s coming) so… I wouldn’t totally trust what’s in there. If it says a horse has competed to 3* eventing for example, I’d go verify it myself by searching the horse’s FEI record.

Ok, so.. Hippomundo. This site is usually more complete and up to date, and has more fun features (plus is a lot faster, if you’re impatient like me). However, you do need a subscription to access a lot of the features. You can get a one month free trial of their Basic subscription with the code COTH21 or BIGTALK21 – that’ll give you access to the horse’s sport results, rankings, full pedigree, and a few other features. If you’re a supernerd or a breeder the Premium yearly subscription is worthwhile because you can add horses to track, get notified when they have sport results, get access to all kinds of reports, follow riders, use their foal planner feature, follow your homebreds, have a “my broodmares” database, etc etc. If you’re just doing a basic sibling search, though, do the free month subscription of the Basic plan and you’re golden.

For that function Hippomundo works similarly in that you just enter the horse in the search bar, click on it, and go to their pedigree. From there you’d click on the dam’s name, go to her pedigree, hover over Horse in the upper right, and click Offspring. That’ll show you whatever other horses are in their database that she has produced.

If you want to look up the sire, same steps. Hippomundo makes it easier to sort the stallion’s offspring though, like for instance I can go into Mighty Magic, get a list of his offspring and then say “Ok, I want to see how many have competed to X level in X sport” by using the dropdown

dressage, sj, and eventing levels

This is really handy if you’re looking to breed and want to research what a particular stallion has produced in what sport and on what kind of mares, obviously.

From my experience Hippomundo has tended to be more up to date with sport results, and Horsetelex has tended to include more horses. Hence me using both especially when I’m looking for offspring from a particular stallion or mare. If you’re a breeder Hippomundo also lets you create a Breeder page, so if someone is looking at one of your horses and clicks on your name, it’ll take them to a page with your contact info, where you’re located, a list of the best horses you’ve bred, etc. Pretty cool.

Ugh, the Irish

Ok, moving on to the bane of my existence: the Irish horses. OMfreakinG y’all, you’ve never seen such incomplete information in your life until you’ve gone searching for Irish horse pedigrees. The truth is that a lot of these horses, especially 20+ years ago, were bred by farmers who just did not prioritize putting information down when they sent in their registration paperwork. Because of that, there are huge gaps in just about every Irish pedigree, especially if it’s traditional ID/ISH vs Continental breeding. Not only is this frustrating for the sake of lineage, it also makes it really hard to get accurate blood percentages. Drives me batty.

Horsetelex and Hippomundo are especially lacking in the Irish horse pedigrees, probably because none of the aforementioned farmers have come along and put any of this information in, particularly further back down the line. So, if you have an Irish horse, my suggested database to use is the Irish Horse Register. You need an account but it’s free. You can go to their Horse Search page and search by any of the listed criteria. IF there is any pedigree data to be had for the horse, the IHR is the place that will have it.

you can search by any of these criteria – searching by sire name or dam name will give you a list of that horse’s other offspring that are registered with IHR

When you find the horse you want, click into their info page

And then to get to their pedigree click on the Pedigree tab at the top. You can view by 4, 5, or 6 generations.

the bottom of Fusion’s pedigree… even a stallion that has produced top level sporthorses still has massive chunks missing from his pedigree.

Seriously though, there are big gaps in their data that are unlikely to ever be filled and that’s just the way it is. Join me in my lament.

There are a few other features in IHR that you can play around with too… it’s a more simple tool without a lot of the bells and whistles of Horsetelex or Hippomundo, but it’s got the basics. It’s certainly your best bet if the horse in question is registered Irish.


Those are my main sites that I use, although a few others are worth a notable mention:

AllBreed – I have all the same complaints with this site as I do with Pedigree Query (same site just hits different databases) but for some reason American breeders love to use it. I wish they wouldn’t, Horsetelex or Hippomundo are both WAY BETTER, but alas here we are. So if I’m struggling to find info about a horse and I know it was US or Canadian bred, I might try searching AllBreed just in case. Sometimes you get lucky.

FEI horse lookup – I mentioned this one briefly earlier, but it’s come in handy other ways too. Assuming the horse you’re looking for has competed to the FEI level, sometimes you can find a horse’s sire or dam listed in their FEI info, or the name of their breeder. IF their rider/owner chose to put that information in, anyway.

A couple other European pedigree sites:

Sporthorse Data – I find this one to be less complete than the other two main ones, but I’ll use it if I’m desperate and grabbing at straws.

Rimondo – this one is more complete than the above but the vast majority of their info is behind a paid firewall and I don’t like the site enough to pay for yet another subscription. They have a lot of pics and video though.

Now, what about if a sporthorse/warmblood is registered under one name but shown under another? Same advice as far as looking in USEF for aliases, BUT worth nothing that Horsetelex and Hippomundo include any known aliases in their search results as well. For instance – Off the Record was originally known as Cooley Stateside. Luckily someone put this alias into the major databases, so searching for either name will return a result.

The search results for Off the Record… when I hover over his name you can see his original name, Cooley Stateside. So, if I wanted to search for more info from his earlier life, I’d probably take to google/facebook and search for Cooley Stateside.

Breeders and riders, take note of this and enter any aliases that your horses may have! You can do it by editing the horse’s information from their pedigree page. (I’m always happy to help anyone with this if they need assistance navigating any of these sites)

I think I’ll stop there, this is already a massive information dump that a lot of people don’t care about. There are more hints and tricks and websites, so if you try all of this and still aren’t having any luck, ask me and I’ll see if I can help. For most horses this should be sufficient though. Wait, no – one more piece of advice: never underestimate the power of a facebook search. You’d be amazed what you can find just by poking around there.

I swear I’m done now. Many gold stars if you actually read all this.

Meet Vee!

No, still no baby from Peyton. She’s big as a house and increasingly uncomfortable but clearly my impatience is having zero impact on her timeline. Still holding out hope for an April Fools baby, which might be the joke she’s ultimately gonna play on us.

But while there’s no new foal to introduce yet, as I mentioned earlier this week, a new member of the WTW string has arrived. We’ve been hunting for another nice TB mare (and when I say hunting I mean HUNTING, I’m pretty sure we saw every friggin TB mare for sale in America) looking for one that we felt had the right pedigree, temperament, movement, and conformation to suit a sporthorse/eventer breeding program. A lot of them have one or two or those qualities, but not many have all of them. We tried to buy one a month or so ago from Benchmark but were about an hour too late (another eventing breeder snatched her up!) but I think eventually the right one did come along.

Vee is also known as Vonhra, an 8yo TB mare who just ran her last race in February. Despite a racing career spanning 5 years she retired sound on clean legs (not even so much as a pimple on those legs!). She’s also got a great temperament, good movement, and a strong more old-fashioned looking TB type. The shipper who brought her from AZ to TX had nothing but very positive things to say about how great she was to work with, and her previous owners felt the same way.

Vee was not a very good racehorse, only winning once in all that time, but she had some serious turn of foot when she felt like it.

We really wanted something with a sporty pedigree, and I think we got that. Her sire Lonhro was an Australian racehorse (we didn’t set out to have two TB mares with Australian heritage, but here we are – Lonhro and Peyton’s damsire Quest for Fame were actually at the same stud farm in Australia! Peep this pic of both of them together.) who shuttled to America for a few seasons, and Vee is from one of those seasons. If you’ve never watched Lonhro’s Australian Cup win from 2004 you definitely should, it’s one of the most gutsy finishes I think I’ve ever seen. He stood in Kentucky but Vee officially hails from Maryland, having been bred by Robert Mantuso and born at Chanceland Farm. She was sold originally for 95k and made her way to the West Coast, racing mainly in California. When we picked her up she was at Turf Paradise, in Arizona.

Lonhro’s sire Octagonal is from the highly coveted Sir Tristam (Sir Ivor) line, and produced a lot of showjumpers and eventers in New Zealand and Australia. Octagonal’s dam was Eight Carat, one of the best producing turf mares ever. Lonhro offspring are a little bit hard to find in North America due to how little time he spent here, and they’re generally pretty popular as sporthorses. They can sometimes be a little on the smaller side but have reputations as great amateur-friendly horses with excellent canters. Vee was advertised as 16h, but sticks at 16.1 1/2… on the big side for a Lonhro and the perfect sporthorse size!

Some of that size may be thanks to her dam, Jolie Visage (looking at Vee’s gorgeous face, I have to wonder if – given the name – that’s who she got her head from). Jolie Visage’s sire is Broken Vow, who is a bit over the 16.2h mark. He’s another stout TB with a lot of bone, giving Vee substance from both sides of her pedigree. I’ve seen a lot of sporthorses from Broken Vow popping up in eventing as well as h/j, no surprise given that he’s by Unbridled and out of a Nijinsky mare.

On the bottom of her pedigree we find Lyphard, who should be pretty well known to any thoroughbred sporthorse aficionados. Lyphard himself was a fantastic turf horse in Europe and an excellent producer of mares, although he did find some success with his colts as well. Most notably he produced the stallion Dancing Brave, who produced Ghareeb – a stallion you find over and over again in 5* event horses from the UK and Ireland, especially on the damside. Rounding out the bottom of Vee’s pedigree you find the stallion Riverman, who was a very successful turf horse and sire in France that also become known as an excellent broodmare sire (fun fact: Riverman’s broodmare sire is 3/4 related to the dam of Mill Reef – another heavy hitter in the sporthorse world).

Basically, there is a lot to like about Vee, especially from a sporthorse breeding perspective. Her physical type is excellent too, with an super neck set, strong connections, good proportions, great balance, big feet and correct legs. She looks pretty darn good for a horse that spent so long racing and has just come off the track, and we can’t wait to see what she looks like once she’s been let down a bit more.

She’s the type of mare we think could cross well with some of the longer-lined European showjumping stallions, and that’s mainly what we’ve been looking at for her as a first baby daddy. The only bummer is that a lot of the US frozen semen brokers are very short on stock right now, so our first two choices aren’t available. There are still some good options that we’re pondering though, so stay tuned to see who we pick. Welcome to the WTW family, Vee!

NHR, but help me find…

I’m very late getting started with things this morning because SOMEONE either has an abscess or his leg is broken. Which diagnosis is more accurate depends on which of us you ask.

MAH FOOTIE IS BROKIE, NEED COOKEHS

Considering Henry tried to kick me in the knee cap when I wrapped it with animalintex, I’m gonna say it’s probably not as broken as he insists it is. High drama. Always.

What I’m really after today though are some suggestions/input from the hive mind about something totally non-horse related (sorry) but I know there are a lot of spin bike fans out there so I’m hoping someone can point me the right direction.

I’m looking for some kind of desk or shelf that would attach to my bike that would allow me to set a laptop on it. I do my classes every morning on my phone and that’s fine, but I’d like to be able to sit on my bike and spin a little when I’m stuck in long boring meetings or falling down into an hours-deep rabbit hole on stallions (ok that’s horse related), and I need my laptop for that.

They make these little trays for Pelaton bikes, but I’m definitely far too horse poor (ok that’s also horse related) to own an actual Pelaton bike, mine is a cheap no-frills Amazon special. The handlebars of mine are shaped quite a lot different, they’re more sloped, so I don’t think the Pelaton one would set on them very well.

my handlebars

Anyone have any suggestions for something that might work with my handlebars that would allow me to set my laptop up on? I just need a little tray or shelf that hooks around them somehow…

Monday Musings

Usually Mondays are my riding update days around here, but there’s not a lot to say about Henry except he continues to act 4 instead of 14. Since Presto left he’s the youngest horse on the property and I feel like he’s taking that to the extreme. The yeehaw was so real on Friday after we cantered over the natural ditch in the back that he came the closest he ever has to actually bucking me off. Like… I almost lost a stirrup. Nobody tell him.

We’ve been doing a lot of cavaletti exercises, and last week when we went in the arena after an overnight storm, he I guess… forgot… that the cavaletti were in the ring because he turned into a snorty spooky mess at the sight of the canter ones set up near the top.

His spook trail. He was spooking at the canter cavaletti in the top left of the pic…

I mean it’s kind of embarrassing to spook at the exercise you literally just did two days before, but ok. Once we walked up to it he was like “oh j/k I totally knew what that was, just seeing if you knew….”. Sure, Henry. Sure. I’m glad he’s enjoying himself at least. Once the hot weather hits he’ll be back to miserable and grumpy, so I won’t begrudge him some spring sillies.

Speaking of sillies…

YOU HAS COOKIEEEE?

I still don’t really have any particularly noteworthy Presto updates (he’s supposed to be doing something fun this week, so maybe in a few days) but he is indeed still alive and well and happy in Ocala. Settling into the busy bustling atmosphere of OJC has definitely been a thing, but… that’s exactly why I sent him. He’s getting his world rocked a little bit and learning how to deal. A local-ish to me trainer was there last week and happened to see him while walking past the barns so she took the above pic. Apparently he begs for cookies as soon as you walk up, so… yep that’s on brand. He spends his days snoozing in his stall, getting ridden, and begging for cookies, and spends his nights romping around giant pastures. Overall he’s doing a-ok I think.

Peyton is still holding in that hostage, no foal yet. She hit 340 days yesterday, but last time she foaled at 344. Maybe she’ll stick to the same pattern and give us an April Fool’s baby? That would be about right for these mares and their sense of humor. I’m very impatiently waiting for a baby already. Let’s get this show on the road, yes?

So, no baby pics yet but the new mare Vonhra did arrive at Willow Tree Warmbloods last night! Michelle said she’s even more stunning in person and will get some nice pics of her within the next couple days. I quite like her and think all of our endless internet stalking paid off, she’s a nice addition to the broodmare band.

proof that she made it!

I’ve been calling her Vee after Badminton’s Vicarage Vee, since Vonhra doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue or lend itself well to any good nicknames. We’ll see if Michelle thinks that fits or if she needs something different. But yay, new mare. WHO SHOULD WE BREED HER TO? Stallion shopping is almost as fun for me as the actual babies.

One more fun thing today: I’m hosting a giveaway for a $75 Corro gift card on Instagram so if you haven’t entered yet, don’t forget to do so! Y’all know how much I love Corro, and free gift cards are never bad. Plus I made Henry stand with Presto’s ball for the photo, which took some real doing, and he’s probably traumatized now. So… at least enter to make sure that all his suffering wasn’t for naught.

Booking Confirmed

Man I have REALLY missed my horsey related travel. I haven’t been on a plane since we went to Burghley in summer 2019 (thank goodness we did it then at least) and since we used to do 1-2 fun horse trips every year, I’ve really been jonesing. We’d planned on finally hitting Ireland last year with a Millstreet/riding/stallion viewing combo (a big horse show plus stallion/young horse viewing has come to be our preferred method ever since Bundes in 2017 – it’s definitely the way to do it) but of course covid derailed all that. At least it happened early enough to where all I’d done was spend hours plotting an itinerary but we hadn’t actually booked anything yet. The little airbnb cottage I had found though, y’all. Le sigh. It lives in my dreams.

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let me in, Ireland

It’s my style to try to get as much bang for the buck out of any horsey trip, hence putting horse shows and breeding stuff all together into one maximum bang-for-your-buck experience. If I’m getting on a tin can with a bunch of other people and being hurtled through space while spending a lot of money for the privilege, you can bet I’m gonna milk it for all it’s worth. So when I started thinking about planning a trip out to see Presto, the gears started turning. I mean, it’s Ocala… the potential is huge and it must not be wasted.

Of course, this is the worst possible time of year for my usual travel buddy Michelle. There are 6 mares due to foal starting sometime between ANY FUCKING DAY NOW PEYTON and late May/early June. Plus those mares need to be bred back, and Michelle does the majority of her own breeding work, which means a lot of ultrasounding and monitoring of cycles. She’s pretty much tied to the farm from March through June. Too bad, because she and I are really good at finding trouble any time we travel together, and we definitely enjoyed our last Ocala trip (one of the YEH/FEH symposiums in… early 2019 I think? That was a great travel year…).

But you know who else is an exceptional Trouble companion? Bobby. And you know who’s currently horse shopping? Bobby. Guess where’s a great place to go to look at lots of nice horses in one relatively small geographic area? O-freakin-cala.

Ocala: The Horse Capital of the World - ESPN 98.1 FM - 850 AM WRUF

I pitched my plan to him, which took about .00005% convincing on my part. April is Bobby’s birthday month, it’s extra easy to talk him into treating his’self anytime in or near that month. Plus like – who doesn’t want to go spend a few days trying horses in Ocala? Pffft. The idea sells itself.

We’ve been floating the idea for a week or so, while I dug through and looked at what dates would actually work for me. Bobby is already fully vaccinated but I don’t get my second one until the 10th, and I wanted to wait until after that. Looking at our two schedules, and Megan’s schedule, it seemed like the best bet was the following weekend. So yesterday we buckled down, starting hunting flights and rental cars and hotels, and started BOOKING SHIT.

And I have to give Bobby props (even if it pains me to do so, because it goes straight to his big overinflated head) he is a really useful person to travel with. He travels a lot with his husband so they rack up a ton of airline miles, and he has all kinds of special perks and memberships, plus hunting good travel deals is part of his job. He got us hooked the hell up with some flights, a discounted rental car, and a decent hotel at a great rate. Split that in half and, well, thanks to him this trip is costing me next to nothing. Well, except the pain and suffering that comes with having to deal with Bobby for several days. Pray for me. He farts in his sleep.

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Jk, we’re gonna go find him a nice horse and then we’ll be even.

When those booking confirmation emails started to come through I got hella excited. It’s been SO LONG since I had a fun horsey thing like this to look forward to. So long since I’ve gotten to obsess about an itinerary, trying to figure out how to maximize every last minute. Plus I have like 36 vacation days to use and don’t want to end up losing 20+ like I did last year since we can only carry 5. I’ve only taken one day off in the past 6 months and I’m ready for a fun break. I’m excited to be going back to Ocala, and I’m for sure ready to see Presto’s crazy face again. I already started thinking about what to pack, because it’s not too early to start packing yet right? 3 weeks in advance seems totally reasonable.

The next step will be to start finding horses for Bobby to try, which is also super fun because I get to try to spend someone else’s money. My one true talent in the world! We’ve already got some plans brewing for other stuff too – we’re definitely gonna pack as much as we can into our long weekend. I can’t freakin wait. And just imagine the high quality blog fodder that should come out of the two of us idiots taking on Ocala together… comedy gold, surely. You’re welcome in advance.

Never Stopping Window Shopping

Sorry not sorry about my lame rhymes. It’s just par for the course around here these days, what can I say.

Anyway… although I’m on a self-imposed spending chill (“freeze” is a harsh word, ya know? Chill seems better.) while Presto is enjoying his Ocala spring, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped window shopping. Let’s be real, if I ever stop window shopping it probably means I’m dead. I’ve always been one of those people that loves to flip through a catalog, be it a hard copy or an online store. I just really like seeing what’s new and different, whether I like it or not. I will admit though that it’s gotten a lot less fun in recent years as my collection of stuff has built up to such a nice point that I just don’t really find myself needing anything that often. I’ve got a lot of variety in my collection, and some good quality. Things do need to be replaced sometimes though, and there’s always room for an upgrade, so… window shopping totally justified IMO.

Sometimes I see stuff that just captures my curiosity because it’s a new concept. Like the Cabasus Smart Boots.

SmartBoots™ — CABASUS

These haven’t actually come out yet, and I’ve seen a “smart boot” concept before, with the western style Zebra boots that monitor temperature to prevent overheating under the boot. The Cabasus boots will supposedly have features more like the girth attachments we’ve seen, like speed, gait, acceleration, distance, jump analyzation, etc. It can also supposedly detect unusual movement patterns (if you leave the boots on the horse, obviously) like pawing that could be signs of trouble brewing, and send notifications to your phone. I’m not sure that it’s something I’d really utilize myself, but it’s an interesting concept for sure and would be fun to play with. I’ll be interested to see what they look like and how they work when they come out. Horse wearables are always fun.

The other thing I always love is an online configurator. The Mattes one has gotten me more than once, and playing with the helmet and custom boots ones are a fun pastime. Horse Pilot used to have one for custom coats, although they were relatively tame. I feel like anytime I come across a configurator for literally any horse item I fall into a black hole and emerge 30 minutes later in a daze. Things were no different with this Flying Changes one. They have SO MANY color and customization options, it’s unreal.

Did I design a dark purple coat? Maybe.

Of course, I need another coat like I need a hole in the head. I’ve got one in my closet I haven’t even worn yet. So… no new coats. No. Noooo. Back away slowly.

I’ve also really got to break the Epplejeck addiction. I’ve liked everything I’ve ordered from them, and I’m especially obsessed with the glitter tights I got in the last go-round. They’re stupid comfy and fit me really well, and I like that the glitter aspect is super super subtle. The navy is so dark that it almost looks black, and the only other color they make them in is… black… so it seems a little pointless to buy the black ones too. That doesn’t stop me from wanting them though. If nothing else it would be good to have a second pair, right? Just nod.

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I also still peruse the Riding Warehouse “New Items” section on the regular. For, uh, research. Or science. Or whatever. They added a bunch of new LeMieux, which luckily I am immune to. Apparently the new sunshirt thing is patterns, which… I’m definitely also immune to. I think Kastel owes my eyeballs an explanation and apology for this one.

Hard Pass

I’m not much a pattern person, I’ll admit, but that one seems particularly offensive. I DID notice a couple brands bringing back that ultra-90’s arm stripe though, which I am totally here for. Yes please. I will forever be loyal to my favorite decade. Except for maybe the bucket hats and the platform shoes. Arm stripes though, I’m in.

somebody crank up the Weezer

I admit that I DO actually like the sloth pattern that Pro Choice has come out with on a few items though. The colors are pleasing to my navy-loving eye and what’s not to like about sloths?

Riding Warehouse has it on a tote bag, a grooming bag, and a fly mask. I would buy this if my horses already didn’t have multiple fly masks each and if I didn’t already have multiple grooming bags. I mean, I’m not ruling out that I’ll buy it eventually anyway, but… not now, at least. There’s a unicorn print too but it’s lavender, which isn’t really my thing. Unicorns, though, I can almost make an exception for that. Almost.

Speaking of unicorn vibes, I also may or may not need this rainbow ombre dressage whip (which also comes in a short crop version and blue ombre or green ombre as opposed to rainbow).

majikal

It would match my rainbow box, ya know? Plus like… how could you possibly lose that thing ever. Do I need a dressage whip? No. Do I already own a black glitter unicorn-shaped whip? Yes, yes I do. Both of those facts are unimportant.

On a marginally more practical note they’ve got Mountain Horse pull on paddock boots in the clearance section right now, which DOES actually make my “trigger finger” a little itchy. I love my MH tall boots, and the price on these is really tempting. I don’t NEED new paddock boots though, having just bought new ones last fall. Still though. They have brown and black. My current ones are brown, so would black ones even count?

That Clearance section is maybe almost as dangerous as the New section… I’ve been eyeballing the clearance Anique shirts for so long that they’ve slowly sold out of almost every color in my size. Equal parts sad and relieved. They’re pretty shirts though, you have to admit, and 35% off is nice.

define “enough” shirts

Honestly I think we should all just be impressed that the window shopping hasn’t led to any actual purchases. Look at me with that self-restraint. Kinda sad watching those FedEx and UPS trucks lumber right on past my house without stopping though. Miss you, boos.

At the rate I’m going through fly spray right now it seems much more likely that I’ll be having to stock up on essentials long before I ever get back to anything superfluous. Practicality is boring. Maybe they should put glitter in fly spray and I’d be more excited about it.

Anything fun out there that’s caught your eye lately?

Accidental Stabbing

There are certain perils that come along with living in Texas. It’s a little bit like Australia in that there are a lot of things that want to sting you, bite you, eat you, or stab you, whether they be animals or plants. For animals it runs the gamut from rattlesnakes (I’ve had a horse bitten by a rattlesnake before, it’s NO FUN) to scorpions to those giant disgusting freaky feral hogs. *shudder* The plant life isn’t always much better, with lots of mesquite and those stabby little sandburs that hurt like fuck, and of course cactus.

When you say cactus a lot of people picture the big tree-size ones you see out in the desert if you go further west. Here in this part of Texas we’re kind of at the point where the west meets the east. Drive a few hours west, you hit desert. Drive a couple hours east and you’re deep in pine forests. That means we have a mix of landscape and vegetation, which gives us this interesting juxtaposition of things like super rocky soil but also pretty decent pasture grass, or big oak trees but also cactus. Mostly a few different types of little ones, which grow here and there but aren’t particularly noteworthy or noticeable. The horses tend to be very smart about avoiding them, and aside from Presto accidentally jabbing a mesquite thorn into his head once (because of course he would) I’ve never really had a horse tangle with any of the stabby vegetation we do have.

Until yesterday anyway. I went out to get Henry and he was standing by the gait very pathetically, resting a hind foot but also looking very irritated. At first I thought it was the flies – they’re starting to come out in full force – but as soon as I got closer I could see the little chunk sticking into his leg. Poor dude! Some of those thorns were really jammed in there too, at least half an inch.

First I took a good look at how many they were and where they were. Nothing in a joint or anything like that, luckily, so I tied up his tail and started the process of carefully pulling them out. There were 9 total, with a few stuck in there deeper than others. They definitely hurt, he threatened to knock my block off a couple times. I tried to just be quick about it while also trying to avoid stabbing myself in the process (wasn’t 100% successful with that, I stabbed myself once). A few spots bled quite a bit, which I figured was a good thing to help clear them out.

Glad I didn’t find him like THIS, I’d have thought he’d been bitten by a snake for sure

They stopped bleeding pretty quickly, and I scrubbed them up, ran my hands all over the area to make sure I didn’t miss any and that none of them broke off, and he seemed fine after that. I think the spots must have stung a bit because when walking through the longer grass in his pasture he hiked that leg up a bit more, but he trotted out sound and seemed no worse for wear. He’s normally pretty smart about nature in general, so I figured something must have spooked him and he flew backwards into the wrong, unlucky spot.

Then when I was grooming him I found a little swelling and a bite mark on his neck, which makes me think the neighbors horses might have been involved. There are definitely some stabby plants up near the back fenceline, and if Henry was playing bitey face with them over the fence and things went too far, he easily could have flown backwards into one.

suspicious

Henry is also zero percent stoic and extremely high drama, so he milked his multiple stab wounds for all they were worth. Plays me like a fiddle, this one. I lost count of how many cookies he had, because according to him, cookies heal all wounds. At least one cookie for every stab, that’s for sure.

moar please, I has owwie

I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve ever had to extract so many big sharp thorns from a horse, despite how long I’ve had horses in Texas and just how many stabby things we have here. Guess it was time for nature to bite back. I gave him a little bute last night just in case, and took a good look at the area this morning by flashlight, and all seems fine. No swelling, and you can’t even see the spots anymore. He walked out of his stall looking totally normal. Hopefully he stays that way.

And, uh, hopefully he keeps his chonky ass out of all the stabby stuff from now on. Lesson learned, maybe?

Tell Me Tuesday: Flatwork

I got to wondering about this the other day when someone posted on facebook about having a flatwork lesson and what it entailed. Over time my general flatwork routine has definitely evolved, from horse to horse and discipline to discipline. Back in the hunter days we might do different size circles, some transitions, a little bending left and right, maaaaaaybe some shoulder-in, mostly in a stretchy trot type of outline. When I moved to the jumpers it got a bit more intense – shoulder in, leg yield, opening and closing the stride, smaller circles, etc. And then of course over to eventing, dipping our toes into actual dressageland (um, -ish…) and adding in such fun things as haunches-in, canter squares, half pass, etc.

As I’ve learned more, my overall flatwork routine has definitely evolved. Of course a lot depends on the horse you’re sat on and their level of training – I can’t just go in the ring and pop out a casual half pass on the 4yo for funsies. But he did get a lot of things introduced to him earlier on than some of my other horses, because I have more of an “established” (lolhelpme) background in flatwork fundamentals. I’m still shit at it, but… ya know. A little less shit?

Anyway, I think a lot of us probably have a “typical” flatwork routine for most of our horses. Like, let’s say, it’s just a regular ol’ work day, not a lesson day or anything, and you’re flatting your horse just to push some buttons and keep them moving and tuned up. I’m curious – what does that look like for you with your own horse, whatever their stage of training or discipline?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent our entire eventing career struggling against his conformation

For example, mine: Henry was a Prelim event horse but we don’t really seem to show anymore (at the moment anyway). I can’t tell you the last time I put a dressage saddle on him, but we still do flatwork several times a week. I push all the same buttons I spent so long installing, both to keep him tuned up in case we ever do make it to a show again, and to keep his body stronger and more gymnasticized. So for him, just a regular ol’ not-at-all-special day of flatwork starts at the walk, usually going back and forth from freewalk to contact, opening and closing the stride, and doing figure 8’s on 10-ish meter circles to get him bending around my leg. Then we move to trot, which he usually likes to do a big stretch before we really dig in, so we might make a few 20m circles or laps of the arena just letting him stretch before I start to put him back together a bit. From there we do a lot of lateral work – leg yield and shoulder-in are is his jam, he is always Mr. Tension and it helps him relax into the outside rein – and serpentines. I’ll play a lot with transitions within the gait – lengthening the stride, then making it small, then back to working – and going back and forth and in between. We’ll throw in a few trot/walk/trot on a circle (rapid-fire transitions have always been his “come apart” trigger, and some days they still are). Then canter, with leg yield, maybe a little baby half pass, always some counter canter loops, and most assuredly our favorite and most important exercise for an event horse – opening and closing the stride. I want to be able to go from a 10′ stride to a 14′ stride to a 12′ stride and back again at the drop of a hat while jumping, so transitions within the canter are probably the #1 thing we do and we do it EVERY ride (I think if you sit outside the jumper ring or the cross country warmup that’s probably the thing you’d see most often too). If you can’t quickly and easily adjust the canter, you’re screwed on a jumping horse.

Especially when they’re built like this

Canter squares are big for us too, because Henry is a croup-high, naturally quite downhill horse, and they help get his hind end more underneath him and his front end up a bit. I’ll do a simple change here and there with him sometimes but almost never flying changes, because he loves to throw flying changes into dressage tests where they shouldn’t be. We’ll do some canter/stretchy trot/canter or some canter/walk/canter or some canter/trot/halt/rein-back/canter too, how many or which variations depend on the day and how spicy he is. After that we do some free walk, more stretchy trot, stretchy serpentines, etc, and then we’re done. It could be 20 minutes or it could be 45 minutes, depending on the day.

Presto obviously isn’t here right now and is neon green, but before he left his flatwork sessions were about 15-20 minutes and consisted of transitions between walk and trot and canter (mostly walk and trot since he was still kind of struggling with his canter balance in the dressage arena), beginning leg yield (he was actually pretty good at that), the extreme beginning of shoulder-in (less good at that), small transitions within each gait, serpentines, and figure 8’s. Nothing particularly complicated, but enough to keep him focused and thinking and paying attention to my leg/seat and not just blobbing around on endless 20m circles. At the canter he either did simple laps around or did circles. We had just started playing with opening the stride and then coming back when I sent him off for training.

starting to leg yield off the quarter line

So tell me – what does your average, not-special flatwork day look like? Discipline and level of horse? I love seeing what everyone else does and why!

Round is a Shape

Just me or are weekends way too short lately? When the sun is shining and the weather is mild, it’s extra hard to want to go back to work and spend all day in front of a computer.

It was a nice horsey weekend though, in all regards. Henry’s back up to being ridden 6 days a week now since he’s the only horse on my plate, and he’s been doing a bit more fitness work. Definitely getting some strength back and getting back into more proper shape, despite the fact that he reminds quite round. Round is a shape.

On Friday afternoon I brought him in for a fun little conditioning hack out in the back (where he inevitably always turns into a dolphin at some point during the canter laps) and realized he was looking a little… ranchy. So I got out my scissors and my rake and got rid of a lot of that mane, which kind of just makes him look even rounder and chonkier. Whatevs, he’s owning his figure.

Sometimes when I’m feeling cheeky I’ll make little challenges for us, like the time I set the two little piggies up as a bending line of skinnies. On Friday after we finished our canter sets I was like… I wonder if I can put both reins in one hand, canter down the alley, hang a 180 turn through the gate and under the tree, and jump the little log. While holding my phone to video, of course. Tis the Instagram era. Henry, bless him, has been dealing with my weird shit for so long now that he’s not even phased. He was in his sidepull, but no matter, we cantered down one-handed, made the turn through the gate, under the tree (just about dropped my phone ducking under branches) and popped over the log. Sometimes the little random goofy stuff like this is really the highlight of my rides. It’s fun, and it’s spontaneous, and doing weird shit just for the sake of it is totally my jam. I like testing all the buttons that have been put on my horse over the years, and he seems to enjoy doing different stuff.

Saturday was Henry’s day off, and was split between barn chores, errands, and stalking Mason on the Carolina live feed. He looked like he was having a GRAND time galloping around that track, ears pricked and full of running all the way through. He crossed the finish looking like he could have happily gone around again.

He’s entered at Kentucky for his first 5* so fingers crossed that everything goes well and he gets to go. #1 fan right here, for sure. I just love watching him go around… his enthusiasm, his gallop, his balance, the way he hunts the fences like he’s just having the best time… totally my type of horse. He eats cross country for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If Presto decides to be even half the horse his doppelganger brother-from-another-mother is, I’ll be delighted.

On Sunday I went out and set my cavaletti exercises back up in the arena. We’ve been working over those twice a week, trying to build Henry’s hind end and topline strength back up. This time I pulled out my rail raisers (which are actually Ikea potties) and put them on a curve to make it a little more difficult. These are my skinny rails, only 4′ wide, so it’s definitely an accuracy exercise especially when they’re on a curve. Henry was pretty good when they were half up…

But as soon as I put them up on both sides he was convinced they counted as jumps. It took 3 or 4 times through before I finally successfully persuaded him to stop trying to bounce through them. Which was… awkward. Although I guess that’s one way to get a butt workout.

Can’t blame him for trying to make some boring work a little more interesting I guess. He’ll make a jump out of anything if he can.

I’ll try to get a Presto update this week, and I’m planning a trip down to Ocala to see him sometime next month. Otherwise there’s not a whole lot going on around here. Peyton is edging her way towards baby time, she’s at 334 days today, although she doesn’t appear to be in any particular hurry to release her hostage. I dunno about y’all but I’m ready for some baby horses. Let’s do this already. I need my weekly doses of cuteness. I don’t think we’ll be getting a Foal Friday this week, but maybe next week? Feels like I’m a kid waiting for Christmas morning.

Hope everybody had a good weekend! Send Peyton some “wrap it up already” vibes so we can get this show on the road.