Dog Days of Summer

Literally dog days…

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things that actually happen

For real though, it’s HOT. May was relatively mild, as far as Texas goes. Like, it was definitely hot but you could still breathe, for the most part. We got incredibly lucky the weekend of the show, it was only 90 and there was a breeze. For June that’s about as good as you can possibly hope for. But I think that was our last hurrah for good weather because this past weekend was like living in an oven.

And with that, I’m officially switching to early morning rides.

Saturday I was in the saddle by 7am and it was downright pleasant, all things considered. Low 80’s, decent breeze. I actually had a pretty good dressage ride, and, GET THIS: Henry’s very first ride where I’ve been able to go start to finish with spurs AND a dressage whip. Every once in a while I carry a whip but inevitably have to drop it at some point when he starts worrying and turns into a ball of tension (because obviously he’s beaten with dressage whips on a regular basis?). I never even thought about actually touching him with the whip but it worked great to get him forward in front of my leg. We’ll find out this week if that was a fluke. Odds are 50/50.

Sunday we were out there early again, and I popped him through a little gymnastic. He was unimpressed with that idea.

It was even hotter up in west Texas where Presto was; they hit 110 on Saturday. Turnout time is becoming shorter and shorter as it becomes just way too unbearably hot for the babies to stay outside.

This is about the time of year where we start scaling things back… our “off season”, if you will. Most people have a winter break, we have the opposite. I’m switching my work schedule around so that I can ride at dawn, and since we have no shows on the docket until September, we’ll be focusing mostly on flatwork for a while.

I sure wouldn’t mind a little rain though, my fields are getting hard. Granted, we may or may not get rain for the next few months, so we might end up having to ride in the arena more.

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The one perk of spending more time hiding inside in the AC is that I’m finally getting to go through all of my stuff and get things cleaned up/cleaned out/ready to rehome. Which I did a lot of on Saturday. Which means you know what’s coming tomorrow.

Reverse Snobbery

Everybody knows what a snob is. The first image that comes to mind is some well-to-do, hoity-toity girl that thinks she and everything she likes is better than the common plebeian simply because it’s fancy and expensive. But what about the flip side of the coin?

What about the people who are super, um… frugal, who think that they’re better than people who spend lots of money simply because they don’t spend as much money? The internet has dubbed it reverse snobbery and, from what I see at least, it seems even more rampant than snobbery of the traditional variety. Examples, you demand? No problem.

  • The girl who says she would never spend 5k on a custom saddle because her $250 ancient PDN is just fine, and anyone who spends that much on a saddle should learn how to ride instead.
  • The girl who says she only buys $40 breeches (and only has two pairs of them at that) because she’s a real rider, and real riders care more about their skills than they do about what they’re wearing.
  • The girl who says that anyone who pays $25k for a beginner novice horse is stupid, period, end of story.

All 3 of which I’ve seen within the past month.

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Look, I’m horse poor. I get it. I can pinch a pinny so hard it’ll give Lincoln a black eye. And I will flat out tell you that of course I’m envious of people who have the means to go to every horse show, buy new saddles all the time, go to Europe and buy a new horse every couple years, etc. But it’s their money, and they can do whatever they want with it. If I think I’m somehow better than them because I try to do the same things with less resources, that’s still snobby, just of a different variety. I’ve been guilty of it plenty of times in my life, but really I should be thanking these people for helping keep this industry afloat because lord knows my broke ass ain’t.

It’s an even more ridiculous viewpoint to take when you look at the fact that we’re all equestrians. We’re all involved in an elite sport that features walking money pits. To think that you are somehow better or more authentic than someone else simply because you spend less money on your particular walking money pit is a hilarious joke.

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There are a million roads people can take in this sport, some of which are lined with a lot more dollar bills than others. It’s easy to look at the person on the fancy horse that they dropped a shit ton of money on and be resentful of that, but honestly… if I had that kind of $$$, I would spend it the same way. And you better believe that if somebody turned me loose in Luxe EQ with a big bucket of money, I would be the proud new owner of approximately 100 pairs of expensive new breeches in about 5 seconds flat. To try to pretend differently would be absurd.

The fact that someone has less or has more doesn’t make them better or worse, it makes them different. The fact that someone likes something different from you doesn’t make them better or worse, it makes them different (ok maybe it makes them different with a wrong opinion… 😉 jk…). The fact that someone chooses to spend their money differently than you doesn’t make them better or worse either. At the end of the day, as long as everyone is having fun and treats their horses well, who the hell cares how much or how little money they’re spending?

This sport is hard enough as it is… maybe we’d all be a little better off if we accepted that just because a path isn’t ours, doesn’t mean it isn’t perfectly valid? What are your thoughts on reverse snobbery?

 

The Liam and Presto Bromance

It’s true that these kids have been friends since pretty much the day Presto got out of the hospital, but the older they get, the cuter the bromance becomes.

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just a little nomnom

Sadie grew up as an “only foal” in a herd of predominantly mares. The only other horse I saw her play with for a long time was her mom, who really just stood there and took the abuse that is a baby being rambunctious. Watching these two colts interact and have fun being babies together is pretty awesome, especially because they’re basically inseparable.

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Liam helping medicate Presto

I mean for real though 😍 #socute #canteven #foals #adorable #babyanimals #warmbloods #equestrian

A post shared by WillowTreeWarmbloods (@willowtreewarmbloods) on

 

They seem to spend most of their time in close proximity, whether it be playing in the sprinklers, snoozing, biting and chasing each other, or just exploring.  If you want a picture that contains just one of them, you’re probably gonna have to zoom in. When they went up to the vet clinic last week, Liam and Presto neighed for each other, pretty much ignoring their moms. These dudes are very much BFFs.

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The fam

Rory has been in with them for a few weeks now, and at first her dam wouldn’t let her go anywhere near those hooligan boys. Now she’s relaxed about it a bit, and while Rory definitely isn’t “one of the guys” yet, she’s at least started to socialize with them some.

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Laken keeping that girl away from the riff-raff
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the riff-raff are persistent, though

Despite how it may look, Presto seems to be the instigator of the two. You would think that if you’d been a bit sickly you would not go out of your way to pick play-fights with the baby equine version of The Incredible Hulk, but noooo… Presto seems to live for it. He likes to plan little sneak attacks and then quickly vacate the premises when he realizes he’s out-matched. Sometimes I look at pictures of them playing and start to feel a little sorry for Presto, until I remember that there’s a 99% chance he brought it on himself. The kid has no fear, I’ll definitely give him that!

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don’t be fooled by that innocent face
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how it starts
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how it develops
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how it ends

Not long after Presto got home, Michelle went out to check on them one night and found them both asleep side by side. They’d been separated for a week or so and seemed genuinely glad to be back together. If that’s not cute, I don’t really know what is. Two baby peas in a pod, these nuggets.

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sleepover!

On one hand this a bromance that I never want to break up. On the other hand, once they’re weaned they’ll be going their separate ways in life no matter what, because that’s just the way things go. But for now they get to enjoy being babies, and the very bestest of friends.

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or at least the very bestest of scratching posts

Henny the Plodder 

Hope y’all got your fill of Henny the XC Horse yesterday, because today we’re doing a total 180!

As you heard in the show recap posts, my long time friend and new blogger Michele was in town for a few days. This meant, of course, that I simply had to talk her into taking Henry for a spin, because I love sharing him with my friends. What’s not to love? And honestly it didn’t take that much arm twisting to get Michele to agree.

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I will say, Michele doesn’t give herself nearly enough credit as a rider. She always talks on her blog about how she’s timid, doesn’t like a big or fast horse, etc. But what she’s not saying is that she has an excellent seat, solid leg, and great hands. Henry went super for her and seemed to like her a lot (or as much as he can like anything that isn’t XC, anyway). You would never know that she’s used to riding a much different type of horse.

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rollin’ those peanuts

She kept telling me she was worried about ruining him but I kept reminding her that if I hadn’t ruined him in 3.5 years, I was pretty sure she couldn’t do it in 20 minutes. Plus I kinda feel like if I’ve done my job right, he should be pretty rideable for most people. He really is a pretty quiet, simple horse if he’s just doing basic stuff… he can plod right around like a lesson horse if you want him to. After a few minutes of getting acclimated to him (and a bit of peer pressure) she cantered him a bit and even hopped him over a crossrail. It was so cute I almost couldn’t handle it.

Michele even said that when she came back (ha, she’s a glutton for punishment, coming back to visit me again) she’d jump him more and maybe even jump my little coop out in the conditioning field. I think Henny gained a new fan!

Of course, what’s not to like about a horse that can zoom around a Training XC on Sunday like a beast and then plod politely over a crossrail on Tuesday? Henny, you da best, even if you do have the most remarkable resting mare face.

MeadowCreek HT Part 2: Stadium and XC

At this show, stadium and XC were only 15 minutes apart. On one hand I love that, because that means for the jumping phases there’s just one tack up, one warmup, and badaboom badabing you’re done pretty quick. Definitely shortens the day and the amount of time you spend on the horse. On the other hand, it’s hard for derps like me to mentally prepare for two phases at the same time. Let’s face it, I can barely mentally prepare for one.

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The stadium course was a challenging one for me and Henry. The beginning was pretty twisty and turny, which made it a little harder to get into a good forward rhythm. The courses here also tend to be wheeled pretty tight, so if you aren’t always looking to save some ground you’ll inevitably end up with time faults. Inside turns and shallow corners are your friend. He pretty epically saved my butt at the “in” of the two stride where I completely missed, yet he still kept listening to me the whole way through (I keep waiting for the day he realizes that I have terrible judgment and decides to completely ignore my input). He’s totally unfazed by my suckage.

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pony got hops tho
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think he cleared that one?

We rattled the “in” of the one stride pretty hard (I figured he would since it was just plain brown poles. Boring.) but somehow it settled magically back in the cups. That was a gift from the karma bank, but we were double clear! We’ve been plagued by 4fault-itis at T, so I’ll take my clear round any way I can get it.

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apparently Henry thinks he’s doing the hunter derby

Michele was the hero of the day, helping me adjust things between phases and get my horse cooled down. Trainer is about to rocket that baby out pretty much any day now, so she’s a bit limited at the moment. Michele sponged him a bit while I threw on my vest, Trainer got my pinny adjusted, I put on Henry’s cross country boots, and then I was back on and headed over to the startbox. It was like a NASCAR pit crew.

They were running a bit behind, which I had no problem with… having a few extra minutes to walk around in the shade and get my head in the game is fine by me. I didn’t think any additional warmup was necessary so we just cooled our jets and waited our turn.

This is the first time we’ve left the start box at Training where I’ve actually felt like I could be competitive. I had my watch, I knew my path, I had a plan, and I wanted a double clear. I needed to prove to myself that I could really do this, and not just “survive” it. Granted, it was technically only our second full XC round together at T, but nothing on the course walk really bothered me (except the Trakehner… I knew that he’d jump it but I still refuse to get anywhere near it on foot… I made the mistake of walking up to it last year and that ditch still haunts my nightmares) and I had total confidence in my horse. The speed was quick at 470mpm, the course was long, and it was hot, but I know my horse is fit and capable.

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you don’t have to tell him twice, GO is his favorite!

Fence one was an easy little log, which we skipped right over. I landed galloping, wanting to establish a forward pace early and get a little ahead of my minute markers.

what do you prefer, pictures or helmet cam gif?

Two was a simple roll top which was also nice and easy

then over to 3, a little log heading into the trees

back around to the skinny rolltop at 4. Because of all the branches in our path I stuck way to the right on that one but it was no problem, and by this point we settled into our rhythm.

Those branches tho

Then it was down to the little house at 5

with 5 strides down to the big ass drop at 6. That thing legit used to make me piss myself. Dare I say that it’s actually fun now?

After that it was back across the field to the half coffin. I waited a little too late here to test my brakes and we almost went right past it, but once Henry realized where I was trying to go he spun right around and hopped through it (with his patented leap over the ditch, of course). Add more bling to that pony’s halo.

Then we motored across the bridge to the one option fence on course. Either you could take the straight quick route over the Prelim weldon’s wall, or you could make a loop back around and jump a T rolltop, which added a bit of time to an already speedy track. My big girl panties just aren’t strapped on tight enough yet for the weldon’s, so I took the rolltop loop. Honestly I should have just done the Weldon’s, the horse underneath me was not going to stop even if the damn thing was on fire. Next time.

As we were turning back around to continue on our way he tripped behind and very nearly sent me flying right over his shoulder. Remember yesterday when I said it was really serendipitous that I forgot my saddle? I swear the only thing that kept me on was the big outer rear block on Trainer’s monoflap. I felt my leg catch on that thing and I was able to haul myself back upright. Meanwhile, Henry never stopped cantering, just kind of flicked an ear back at me like “Oh Jesus, you’re not gonna fall off are you?”. I had to swing my right leg forward and out so I could untangle myself, assured the jump judge that I was good, and then kept going. Time was tight y’all, no time to dawdle!

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brb, just giving Henny a quick hug…

Bless Henny’s precious little heart (again) he just kept right on trucking and hopped over 9, a little brushy thing in the shade, like nothing had ever happened. I’m 99% certain he could do this without me if he could get his hooves on a course map.

apparently I forgot to take a pic of 9

Then it was out into the big field for the down bank to corner combo at 10AB. That corner also used to make me want to piss myself, but thanks to SuperHenny it was NBD.

After that it was around to the water, which I definitely rode a bit backwards to. It was a hard left turn to it and I was a little wary after the incident at 8, so I got too handsy instead of allowing him to come forward out of the turn. But Henny being Henny he had no problem compensating for my mistake and hopped down over the log into the water, then straight out over the other one, despite my handsiness forcing him to add another teeny stride. Thank goodness for horses that are quick with their feet and tidy with their knees.

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There was a little bit of a gallop before 13, a brush table, so I let him open up and cruise a bit and just jump that one out of stride. When we landed we opened up even more for our long gallop across to the other field. Here is where I knew I would find out how much horse I really had, but as soon as I asked him to go, he WENT, so I knew we still had plenty in the tank. Pretty sure I was breathing harder than he was.

After the long gallop I had to balance him back a lot for 14 and 15, the angled brushes. There was only one good line through there and the approach was a bit weird, but as soon as I found my line and got him straight he pinged right on through almost a little too eagerly.

MOM I GOT IT!!!

Then we had another long gallop down to the Trakehner of Death with the huge deep ugly drainage ditch under it. I gave him a couple little taps on the shoulder as we got close, probably more for my benefit than his, and while he definitely gave it some air time, he never even thought about backing off. I think the best part of that fence was my comment that you can hear on the helmet camera video a few strides afterwards (I’ll post the full video towards the bottom so you can see the almost-wipeout and hear all the commentary).

This is the closest I would get to it on the course walk. It looks cute from this far away.

At that point I felt pretty “home free”… 17AB was a pretty simple bending line of chevron to rolltop

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geez, I forgot to take a pic of this one too

then out into the field again over the BAT (big ass table)

to another little brush table that we shared with Novice as our last fence. Pretty sure it was the tiniest one on the course! Funny story, at our first ever event at BN I looked at that very same fence while we were course walking and said I would never ever jump it because it was huge. Heh. This fence is memories.

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Henry came home strong, still full of run, and under OT for another double clear!

We were the only ones in the division to finish on our dressage score, and the double clear stadium and XC moved us up to 2nd. Pretty darn thrilled with my pony, he’s really starting to feel like a pro at his job. It’s nice to know that he’s confident enough to where I can make some mistakes at this level and he’s completely undeterred by it.

After XC, Michele helped me get him cooled down and get him wrangled into his ice boots (which definitely is a 2 person job) while he ate half a jar of cookies, and then I packed his feet. Our standing deal is that if he’s double clear XC he gets every cookie I have in my possession at the time, and I’m always true to my word. I’m officially cleaned out.

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Have I mentioned he really hates his ice boots?

Overall it was a really fun show and a huge boost to our confidence. Of course I’d like to eliminate the mistakes, but now I know for sure that we can do it, and I have things to improve upon for next time. So damn proud of my pony though, he continues to step up to the plate and do his job without fail. It was not that long ago that Training was a distant fantasy for me and he’s made it possible in short order.

And I really can’t thank Michele enough for all her help, she was indispensable all day long… even helped me pack all my crap! That’s a true friend right there. Can’t wait to get back out there and do it all again (Michele can you move back to Texas please?).

MeadowCreek HT Day 1: I’m an idiot

The phone call went something like this…

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Me to Trainer: “Heeeey… I did a thing…”

Trainer: “Oh god what did you do?”

Me: “I forgot my saddles.”

Trainer: *busts out laughing* “You’re an idiot!!!” *more hysterical laughter* “YOU FORGOT YOUR SADDLES?? YOU MORON!!!” *even more hysterical laughter* “It’s ok you can use mine.”

Yes I forgot my saddles. No lie. Can’t even make this shit up. I’ve forgotten a lot of things while packing for shows over the past 20 years, but SADDLES? I will probably never live this one down, and honestly I probably don’t deserve to. So dumb. BUT, I will say… forgetting my saddles turned out to be the most serendipitous thing that could have possibly happened, and it totally saved my hide on XC. We’ll get to that tomorrow.

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Henry making friends as usual
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The only friends Henry is really interested in, Mr. Hay and Ms. Fan

We got to the show early on Saturday with plans to school the bank elements on course. I love this show because they keep their recognized course (which is fairly beefy) but allow schooling the day before. I didn’t want to do much, so we just hopped through both bank complexes and called it a day. Whatever that bank issue was that we had a couple months ago, it’s totally gone now. He didn’t even consider hesitating, not even at the ginormous drop. I think it also helps that he seems to love this venue, he’s always good there (duly noted, we will be back for the recognized show in September).

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what, your horse doesn’t stand there licking your trainer’s arm during schooling?

After I finished getting him bathed and settled in, cleaned my tack, set up my tent, walked stadium, and took a shower, I pretty much just went to bed. At like 8:30. Because I’m old and grumpy. Get off my lawn.

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The view from the tent, complete with ceiling fan. No it wasn’t even dark yet when I went to bed. Shut up.

But I was up nice and early with plenty of time to slowly crawl out of my tent, feed Henry, and take him for a long walk/graze while the sun came up. I really love being the first person up and about at shows, there’s something extra peaceful about the calm before the chaos.

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OMG WHAT ARE THOSE WHITE RECTANGLES

When I got on for dressage I wasn’t sure what horse I would have. He was so awful in our dressage lesson last weekend, and hadn’t been much better at home all week. The bit experiment was a massive failure. According to Henry the Myler was a bike chain and the Happy Mouth was plastic-coated murder. He reverted to Henry of 2015 – very stiff and chompy. I put him back in his KK and spent the rest of the week trying to put his brain back in, with varied success. Next time I think of changing ANYTHING with this horse, just tell me not to. He doesn’t do change. He’s the equine version of Rainman.

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I didn’t quite have the horse I had a few weeks ago, but it was a massive improvement. For the most part he was staying in the contact and being pretty obedient. I have literally no media from dressage (not even a pic of the test sheet because I forgot to pick it up. God, I swear this is not my first horse show.) but it was about on par with our normal efforts. It was our first time doing test B, which is definitely the harder one at Training for Henry, but I was satisfied with the effort. The figure 8 of 15m circles at X went better than I thought they would and I actually got a genuine trot lengthening at the end. Canter lengthenings on a circle are not our forte, though. In my head it was somewhere around a 35, but we had a super generous judge and she gave us a 29.1. She was equally generous with everyone, so that put us 4th after dressage. I’ll shut up and take it.

Most importantly though – DRESSAGE WAS OVER! Time for the fun parts! And this is about the time Michele showed up…

10 questions Blog Hop

I normally don’t do these but a) I failed to get media for the post I had originally planned today b) I liked these questions! This is from Rocking E’s summer blog hop series.

What is your earliest, clearest horse memory? I remember pretty much always having My Little Ponies and model horses, but the first real horse memory I have is from pony rides at a friend’s birthday. I was 4 or 5, I think. The pony’s name was Cinnamon! (can’t remember the names of people I’ve met 100 times, but can remember a random pony that I rode once 30 years ago…)

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Ah, the 80’s…

Describe the perfect summer day. Spontaneous cold front that makes the high 80 degrees with no humidity, there’s a horse show, and we win??? This is fantasy right?

Are you reading anything right now? Tell me about it! I’m always reading something. I’ve been on a science fiction kick for the past year or two, currently catching up on the Silver Ships series. Neerrrrrrrd.

Do you follow a celebrity (horsey or non) that you’re embarrassed to say fascinates you? Tell me. NOW. I’m pretty anti-celebrity in general. I just don’t find them particularly fascinating or special. I could watch Michael Jung for hours but in a “maybe I can learn something” way, not in a “I might pluck a hair out of his head and put it in my collection” kind of way.

the only celebrities I’m interested in

What is your single most biggest horsey dream or goal? I really just want to have happy healthy horses that are performing at a level we’re both comfortable at. Not gonna lie, at some point before I die I’d like to run Prelim, maaaaaybe 1* but I do not have the cojones (or death wish) for anything higher than that. I kinda want to event in different places around the country though, kind of combine the love of travel with the love of horses. That becomes logistically difficult for a lot of reasons, though. It would be fun to do more classic format events, too!

If you were at Starbucks right now, what would you order? I pretty much never go to Starbucks unless it’s someone else’s idea, mostly because I hate coffee. So when I do go I either get hot chocolate or that little berry refresher thing.

What is your biggest equine pet peeve? When people don’t appreciate their horses.

With everything going on politically and in the media, tell me, do you follow it religiously? Tune it out? Or something in between? I follow it a lot more than I’d like to. Guess I’m just a glutton for punishment. It’s like a trainwreck though, I just can’t help it.

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If you had to show your horse to a song, what would you choose? Hmmm depends on what we were doing. Dressage? The Grouch by Green Day. Go ahead, try to tell me I’m wrong. But if we’re doing XC? Because I’m Awesome by the Dollyrots. Especially with all the rah rah rah’s at the end. Plus he’s TOTALLY the type to be into girly punk rock. Again… try to tell me I’m wrong.

What are you most looking forward to this summer? Oh for sure our Europe trip. The more we plan, the more awesome it gets!