EQ3 helmets and MIPS Technology

Unless you live under a social media rock, you’ve probably heard something in the last few weeks about the new MIPS technology Trauma Void™ EQ3™ helmets that Back on Track® has started distributing. It should be of no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that I was all over this thing like white on rice. Safety technology as it relates to horse sports? Right up my nerd alley. MIPS technology isn’t totally new to me, being a cyclist as well, but I wasn’t as familiar with all of the specifics as I wanted to be, as a consumer. So first I had to learn more about what exactly MIPS technology IS, and what it isn’t. This video is relating to cycling helmets, but I think it does an excellent job at explaining what MIPS is and how it works:

First thing to note: MIPS has nothing to do with standard impact protection – ie what all that padding in the helmet does. Your regular impact protection comes from that good ol’ EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam layer that is in all helmets. The EQ3 helmet still has that, just like any other helmet. What the EQ3 helmet also has, that no other equestrian helmets currently available in the US have, is a MIPS layer, which is designed to reduce the rotational forces caused by angled impacts. Traditional helmet testing mainly uses straight-force impacts, but as anyone who has fallen off enough times knows, the majority of our actual blows to the head come from angled impacts.

dunno about y’all but I don’t think I’ve ever fallen off like the dummy on the left

Okay, so what’s the difference in these impacts as far as how they relate to head injuries? Mainly something that MIPS calls “brain strain” (this is where it’s important to note that MIPS technology was developed by scientists – including a brain surgeon and a dude with a PhD on head and neck injury biomechanics). In their words:

From an engineering perspective, rotational motion is a combination of rotational energy (angular velocity) and rotational forces (angular acceleration) that both affect the brain and increase the risk for minor and severe brain injuries. The reason that the brain is more sensitive to rotational motion is that the brain is very much like water or a gel when it comes to its shear properties. The brain, like water, is also incompressible. Therefore, a linear motion will not affect the brain as much as a rotational motion.

Common injuries that are proven to be linked to the rotational forces caused by angled impacts? Things that probably sound familiar to equestrians, such as subdural hematoma and concussion. The MIPS layer has been designed to reduce these rotational forces, thus, hopefully, reducing the subsequent injuries.

MIPS is basically just a thin layer that is between the EPS and the helmet liner itself that allows the helmet to rotate a few millimeters in any direction around the head in the case of an angled impact. This decreases the rotational forces on the brain itself.

giphy (25)
side impact
giphy (26)
angled front impact

MIPS technology has also been used in cycling helmets, motorcycle helmets, and snow helmets. Originally it was introduced into equestrian helmets in Sweden, via the EQ line, where they have been in use for the past few years. This is the first time that this helmet technology has been available in equestrian helmets here in the US.

By this point you’re probably either buying into the technology or you’re not. If you want to read more about it, there’s plenty of info here. Or just… Google in general. It’s all over the internet. The studies conducted by MIPS have shown that it does actually help decrease these rotational forces. On that same point, you also have to understand that our current testing standards for equestrian helmets (for SEI/ASTM, for example) do not test for things like this. I’ve talked about it here before, but there is a ton of room for improvement in our helmet and safety vest testing methods. For real, look into it, you might be shocked. Alas… that’s a different topic entirely.

I personally am extremely interested in the MIPS technology, and really eyeballing these helmets hard. My “schooling” GPA is nearing the end of it’s lifespan, which means I will soon need to be looking for a replacement. Of course, even scouring everything that I could find about the helmets online left me with a lot of questions. I sent an email to Back on Track, who referred me to the design company, Trauma Void. I was able to get a phone call scheduled with Maria, who was infinitely helpful (and patient) as I spent half an hour asking her questions. So, here are some of the things I learned.

photo used with permission from Trauma Void

One of the first things I wondered, when I understood how MIPS technology worked, was whether or not the helmet would “jiggle” during regular riding. Maria said that she had wondered the same thing as well, but that she and the rest of their staff have been wearing the helmets and no one has noticed any movement, nor have they had any customers comment on it.

What about weight? Does that MIPS layer make the helmet weigh more than most helmets? The MIPS website says that the layer is very thin and weighs between 25-45 grams (so 0.0551156 to 0.099208 pounds). Not significant. Maria went a step farther and weighed an EQ3 helmet in each size for me so I could compare it to something more “known” to us on the market. The EQ3 helmet weighed in at 1.25-1.5lbs, from smallest size to largest size. I weighed all the helmets I could get my hands on (for science!), all in sizes 7 1/8 to 7 1/4, and they came in like this: GPA Speed Air weighs 1lb, Charles Owen JR8 weighs 1.2, Samshield ShadowMatte weighs 1.2, and Charles Owen 4 Star weighs 1.4.  So based on that, there is little to no difference between a “regular” helmet and the EQ3. It may even weigh a bit less than a skull cap. 

a view of the MIPS layer, which is under the padded inner liner

Because the helmet is being distributed by Back on Track, a lot of people seem to think that some kind of BOT material or product is incorporated here. Don’t worry, head-sweaters, that’s not the case. The liners are made of a Coolmax® material and are machine washable on the delicate cycle. There will also be replacement liners available for sale separately.

Another interesting feature of the EQ3 helmet is a brim that is more flexible than your standard brim, to allow it to bend and flex as needed upon impact, making it less likely that the helmet will shift out of place on your head or cause an irregular impact pattern. On the “smooth” style helmet this brim is covered in a PU (leather like) material, and on the microfiber helmet it is covered in microfiber.

And then of course, the thing we all want to know: how does it fit? Trauma Void says that the helmet tends to fit a bit more on the round side, but they were quick to point out a couple things. First, the helmet comes with two liners, a thicker one and a thinner one. These liners are fairly moldable, and between the two options they have been able to get the helmets to fit properly on most of the people that have tried them. They also offer a 14 day return policy if the helmet does not fit, or if you need to exchange for another size. Currently they are only available up to size 7 1/2, but they might be open to expanding the size range later on if there is enough demand (so those of you who need a larger size and want one of these helmets – EMAIL THEM and let them know!).

The helmets have four vents, two in the front and two in the back. Reports that I’m seeing so far from early users are that the ventilation feels similar to a OneK. Of the two different styles, the smooth comes in navy and black and the microfiber comes in navy, black, and brown. The Microfiber has a slightly glittery piping (black on the black helmet, a slightly lighter shade of blue on the navy helmet, and a golden color on the brown helmet), for those who are looking for something with a little more pizzazz.

photo used with permission from Trauma Void

At $249 the price seems pretty reasonable to me, all things considered. They also offer reduced pricing on replacement helmets in the event of a fall. You have to register the helmet online within 30 days of purchase, after which point you’re eligible for 50% off a replacement helmet in the first year, or 25% off in the second year.

Whether or not you like the helmet, they are definitely interesting. If nothing else, it’s a fun new technology to geek out over and have discussions about. Within the cycling community I’ve heard a lot of good things about the MIPS technology so far, and I definitely look forward to seeing how it applies to horse sports.

What do you guys think? Anyone bought one yet?

Also Maria gave me carte blanche to email her with any other questions, so if you have any feel free to hammer away and I’ll try to get them answered for you!

It’s not perfect, but it’s progress

I don’t post a whole lot about dressage on here. Sometimes I’ll write a little bit about our lessons, and I do quick-and-dirty recaps of our dressage rides at shows, but there isn’t usually much media. Partly because don’t get a lot of dressage media, especially at lessons. Partly because when I DO get media, all I see is what’s wrong.

When you forget your polos at home and your horse has to wear his jump boots to your dressage lesson

The dressage on Henry has always been a struggle. It took us almost a year to where I could put my leg on him without him exploding, about 2 years before he really even accepted any contact, and almost 3 before he’d quit curling up behind the bit and chomping like crazy as his default. Cantering used to get him so worked up that the rest of our ride was spent on getting him to relax again. He’s a downhill horse who’s default is tense and tight and anticipatory, and it probably always will be. That’s just his nature.

Even though I know how far we’ve actually come, I can’t help but to always see how much farther there is to go. That’s just MY nature. I’m like that about everything when it comes to my riding. So when I look at pictures or video from dressage and my hands have gone rogue, or I’m sitting to the outside, or I’m hunched forward, or I’m not sitting correctly… I just don’t even want to watch it. Will I EVER get my damn hands up and sit properly? Who knows. I’m not very confident in our abilities when it comes to the dressage.


But I think I’m probably doing us both a disservice with that. Newsflash: dressage is hard. It’s especially hard for someone from a h/j background riding a horse that is not naturally well-suited to the sport. This year I have tried to be better about looking for the good just as much as I look for the bad. That’s hard for me, I’m naturally super self-critical, but I think I’ve gotten a little better at seeing the positive.

I finally got some dressage media last night (thanks Diane!) and while I’m not like… overjoyed at what I’m seeing, I don’t totally hate it. Do we need more “jump” in the canter half pass? Yes, always. Do the haunches lead sometimes? Yeah, I’m really good at over-riding the hind. Is the bend always correct? No, sometimes I do too much and sometimes I do too little. Will we ever have a lengthening where the tempo doesn’t get fast? I mean, who knows. Will I ever SIT UP AND PICK UP MY HANDS? Depends on how much duct tape you’ve got.

I could go on. There is a lot of room for improvement.


Henry is light years more rideable though, and I think I’m doing better at at least feeling and trying to correct my mistakes. He’s getting a bit stronger and I’m getting a bit more educated. Of course, every once in a while we’re both still total shit sandwiches, so there’s that.

He cute though. He real cute.

I think it’s time to rip off the bandaid with the dressage media though. Just because I see a lot that needs to be fixed doesn’t mean that I should hate looking at it. This is a journey, after all, and it will never be perfect. I’ve got to focus on the progress we’ve made, not the endless pursuit of perfection. My critical eye needs to legit chill.

So for those who really want to bore themselves to tears, I stuck the clips together into one video. This is mostly for me, though. This is going here and it’s going to live here, and maybe someday I’ll be able to come back to it and feel like we’ve come so far past this point. But for now, I’m going to focus on the fact that THIS is a hell of a lot of progress from where we started, and there are actually some good things happening.

Blogger Yard Sale

If you haven’t gotten in on the blogger Yard Sale blog hop yet, go check out the master list here!


I, as usual, have a bunch of unused stuff laying around, so this seemed like a good opportunity to try to clean out a bit.

Paypal only, please. Shipping not included but I can get an estimate if you give me your zip code. All items ship via UPS ground. Spend over $150 and I’ll ship for free! Prices are not negotiable, I already put them at what I would be willing to take to save everyone some hassle. Whoever pays first is who gets it, sorry but I can’t hold things (mostly because I do not have the brainpower to keep track). You can either contact me here via the comments or message me through my blog’s facebook page.

Weatherbeeta 1200D turnout sheet size 81. Used twice. His Majesty Henry requires HUG blankets so naturally he can’t wear this one. SOLD

Clearly this is a stock photo. I can get more actual photos tonight if you require, but it looks just like this.


Quarter sheet, navy with reflective gray/white piping.  SOLD


Ogilvy dressage baby pad, regular size. Black with white trim and turquoise binding. SOLD


Eggbutt gag with rope cheeks – $30


Total Saddle Fit black calfskin dressage leathers. Only used for about a month. I punched one half hole, otherwise like new. – $40


White Equine Couture breeches, size 30. New with tags. $40


Burgundy QJ Riding Wear breeches, an Australian brand. SOLD



hot pink C4 with black chrome buckle. Was cut to fit size 30, could be cut shorter but obviously can’t fit bigger. $15

Peruvian-made embroidered belt, fits size 30 on the middle hole so could go a little bit each way size-wise. SOLD


Stock Ties:

Style Stock tone-on-tone white stripe. SOLD

Custom made Burberry Horse white pique with navy and golden yellow piping. $20


It’s a Haggerty’s lavender sunshirt with The Plaid Horse embroidery down the arm. – SOLD


GoPro waterproof case plus helmet strap. SOLD



The True Costs of Breeding

There’s been a little “meme” type thing going around all the breeder’s groups and pages on facebook for the past few weeks…


Sure, it’s funny. But also it’s… alarmingly accurate. And it doesn’t even include the upfront cost of buying a nice broodmare, which, newsflash, are definitely NOT free. Or the lab equipment, if you choose to ultrasound your mares at home to save trips to the clinic. Or the breeders courses that taught you how to use said equipment. Or the vet bills if the mare or foal encounter any complications. This could go on for a while, really.

I think a lot of times breeders get the short end of the stick. ALL THE TIME I see people complaining about how it’s ridiculous for a foal to cost 12k, 15k, 20k, or whatever. Sure, if you’re buying a backyard foal out of a random mare by a random stallion that will grow up with the potential for… who knows… then that’s too much. But if you’re buying from a breeder who purchased excellent mares, spent years honing their eye and their skill to make the best match possible, and devoted endless amounts of time and money into care to a produce a top-class sporthorse prospect, you’re getting a pretty great deal. Most likely the breeder isn’t actually making much off of that sale, if anything.

exhibit A: this particular giant money pit that we all know and love

For every foal they successfully get on the ground and sell, there’s another mare back in the barn who cost thousands of dollars to fix a uterine infection, or another who did not ever get pregnant despite many expensive attempts, or another who aborted her foal mid-pregnancy. They will sit for the year, still receiving the best of care, and the breeder will try again next year.

I’m in the unique position where I am the average rider/owner, but I also have worked for breeders and have a lot of breeder friends. I can see both sides of this. Sure, everyone wants a super fancy foal for 5k, who doesn’t love a bargain, but at those prices someone is losing money. That someone is probably the breeder. And if they lose money on every single foal, they’re going to stop breeding. At least the ones that do it RIGHT will, because they can’t afford those kinds of losses. The ones that really do invest a lot of money in the best mares, and really DO spend a hell of a lot of time learning the ins and outs of bloodlines, conformation, nicks, etc. It certainly isn’t as simple as crossing a nice mare to a nice stallion. Being a good breeder takes knowledge. A lot of it. That’s a learned skill, and skill takes time and money to accrue.

So many hours sitting in planes and on bleachers. So many.

So by saying that their foals and young horses are overpriced or too expensive, we’re effectively cutting the best breeders off at the knees. If we want to have good horses, these are the people we should be supporting, or at least understanding. They’re just like anyone else in any other job… trying to get by. Their expertise, and their investment, is certainly worth something.

Buying nice young horses isn’t for everyone. For many people it’s not practical, or they can’t afford it, or they don’t want a baby. All totally legitimate and fair reasons. But even if you’re not part of that buyer’s market, next time you see the price tag on a really nice foal, instead of raising your eyebrows or muttering something negative, take a minute to think about what it really took for someone to produce that horse. The blood, the sweat, the tears, the hours… all of it. Breeders really are, at least in my opinion, the unsung heroes of the sporthorse world. If we want to keep them, we at least have to appreciate and understand their endeavor.

Stallion Saturday. And Sunday.

Okay and maybe Friday and today count, too. It’s been a very testosterone-filled last few days in general.

It all started on Friday, with barnsitting. The herd includes the trakehner stallion Kovington, aka Toni. He is big, black, beautiful, and super weird, so of course I love him.


cleans his own stall
plays tug-o-war

But I also spent a ridiculous amount of time and got up stupid early to watch stallions. Usandro’s owner had alerted us to the fact that he would be at the Saint-Lô stallion show in Normandy on Saturday and Sunday, so of course I went to digging. I found out that clipmyhorse.tv was live streaming the event, and I located a program and order of go on the facility’s website. Watching Usandro was going to be a highlight, of course, but there were several other stallions in attendance that I wanted to see. And since France is 7 hours ahead of us, this required setting my alarm for 4am on Saturday. When does interest cross the line into obsession? Probably there.


But I got see Usandro and a couple others in the stallion parade, then got up and ate breakfast and did some chores before logging back in on my computer to catch a few solo presentations of some of the others that I was interested in. Like the Heraldik xx son Herald (he’s related to Presto!). I am clearly biased toward anything with high % TB, especially a Heraldik, because I loved him.


And there was also Luigi, who we met at Tal Milstein’s stable in Belgium. He is ridiculously nice, definitely a horse to watch for the future.


After another break to muck stalls I was back inside on the computer, just in time to catch the LEGENDARY Diamant de Semilly. He looks pretty good for 27.


And then there was Diarado, who was REALLY REALLY pumped to be there. I swear, some of these older stallions that are retired from competition and at the beginning of breeding season… they were horse kites. Diarado accidentally dropped his handler though, which I admit I spent most of the day watching the video and chuckling about. Gotta give the guy credit, he had a very quick and athletic recovery (although he mostly stuck to walking Diarado after this… probably wise). Maybe a lunge line instead of just reins attached to the super excited stallion next time, eh?

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Usandro’s owner also posted a few pictures of him meeting his maternal grandsire, Welcome Sympatico, that really made me wish I was there. Add Saint-Lô to my bucket list of horsey events that I want to attend at some point. February in Normandy seems fine by me.



On Sunday I set my phone to 4am again (I repeat – is this a sign that I’ve totally lost my mind?) so that I could catch Usandro’s actual solo presentation.

 François was smart.
François had a lunge line.
Be like François .

And then a couple horses later was MIGHTY MAGIC!!! I was really excited to see him “live” since of course I’ve only seen promotional videos and competition videos of him before. He was a bit tense but still impeccably behaved. I was quite disappointed that Clipmyhorse had his pedigree information wrong though (he is clearly NOT an Ampere x Jazz, come on guys) and the English commentator guy spent the entire presentation talking about bloodlines that aren’t his.



Clearly he didn’t have an information sheet on Mighty Magic either, because he never mentioned any of his accomplishments (um hello, 7yo eventing world champion, French national FEI Children’s dressage champion, sire of eventers up to 3* level???). I have to assume that they had it right at the stallion show itself, or it would have been quickly corrected, but the Clipmyhorse feed never realized their mistake, so MM got totally gypped on that end.



I loved him just as much as I always have, though. Which I guess is probably a good thing, since I have a foal by him now. I really need to make a point to see him in person the next time we’re in France.

After another break to do chores I was glued to the live feed for the rest of the morning (again) and got to see all kinds of “big ones”, like Plot Blue, Malito de Reve, Big Star, Canturo, Monte Bellini, Qlassic Bois Margot, Upsilon, Cristallo, etc etc.


For a breeding nerd like me, it was captivating. I wrap up barnsitting today, so one more afternoon with goofy Toni.  Granted, I’m a little tired from lack of appropriate sleep, but hey… my alarm not going off until 5 this morning was kind of nice.

Worth it!

On the Clock

It’s been doing nothing but RAIN here all week, thus I have not actually sat on my horse since Monday, thus I now cannot think of anything but sitting on my horse. When I went to bed last night it was storming. When I woke up this morning it was storming. Currently the radar looks like this:

Please send waders and a boat

So I have no idea when I’ll actually ride again, I’m bored out of my mind (to the point where I’ve been CRAFTING, wtf), and I’ve had nothing to do all week but ponder. Like for real, I spent 15 minutes this morning wondering why it’s called a “pat” of butter before I finally googled it. What else do I have to do that was more important than learning the origin of that term? Nothing. Literally freaking nothing.

You know the situation is dire when I have willingly chosen to sew

Anyway… one of the things I was thinking about was ride time. As in how long you spend actually riding your horse. As an eventer this can be a very “well it depends” subject for me, because, well… it greatly depends on what we’re doing. Conditioning rides can easily be an hour plus, but dressage rides could be as short as 25 minutes. Charles de Kunffy (and thus my dressage trainer, who is a CdK protégé) believes pretty strongly in the fact that anything more than 30-45 minutes is not good for the horse mentally. CdK has said “What you can’t accomplish in a 30 minute ride is for tomorrow.”.

Our dressage lessons are 45 minute blocks, with several walk breaks thrown in. I always get on and walk for 10 minutes before we start, so I end up being on for about an hour or a little under, with only about half of that being actual work. I try to stick to the same thing in my dressage rides at home, and sometimes if Henry is being particularly good I won’t even school him for that long. If he gives me good work right from the beginning, I try to reward that and not continue to hound him for moremoremore. I have no desire to ruin his naturally good work ethic or fry his brain (which, let’s admit, is delicate enough already). Sometimes if I need to log more saddle time, like if I’ve missed a conditioning ride for whatever reason or if the work session itself ended up being short, I’ll just throw a hack on to the end of the ride. More saddle time, but no mental pressure.

Clearly stressed after a dressage school. Orrrr half asleep and begging for cookies.

For jump sessions it’s pretty much the same. We warm up, sometimes with a long 15-20 minute trot if I’m trying to add some conditioning, and then jump a few courses. Sometimes we just do pole work, or canter a couple of low fences to work on rhythm/my eye/position. My jumping rides are generally pretty short too though, pretty much never more than 30-45 minutes.

he puts so much effort into low fences

The only exception to that general time frame, for me, is conditioning rides. Those tend to be long and low trots, or trot sets, with canter sets thrown in. There’s lots of walking before and after, and sometimes I just do a long 30 minute trot framed by 15 minutes of marching walk before and after. It depends on the temperature, the ground, what we’ve got coming up, and what else we’ve been doing. It’s a pretty rare occasion though when I am on him for more than an hour to hour and fifteen minutes. Those being things like group lessons, trail rides, XC schooling, etc. They tend to be either low pressure or have a ton of walking time, though… it’s not just a big block of work.

And of course, Henry is a mature horse, in regular work, and he’s an eventer. If he was a young horse or had a different job, the ride structure would look different. I’m excited for my Seaver girth sleeve to get here though so I can start tracking all this stuff (and heart rate!) via an app instead of just in my head.

So I’m curious, fellow equestrians – how long do you typically ride for and why?

30 Things You Might Not Know About Me

Last week May as Well Event (who has the cutest little squish of a mare, btw) did a 30 Facts About Me post that I thought was a really great idea. We know a lot about each other’s horse-related lives, especially in the present or not-so-distant past, but what about that non-horse stuff, or things that happened a long time ago? I think it’s interesting to learn more about each other, so I’m adopting her good idea and bloghopping it! I hope other bloggers participate too.


1. I am a super picky eater. It’s not that I want to be, it’s just that a lot of things make me want to barf. I have texture issues more than taste issues… onions and coconut and lettuce have the most sickening crunch, mayo and mustard are just slime, and please don’t get me started on sushi. Vomit.

2. In my life I have moved a total of 18 times. I’ve lived in North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Maryland. Someday I want to end up in either NoVa or the Aiken area.

Image result for aiken horse farm
Can I live here please?

3. I’m super into tiny homes and probably could totally live in an RV too. I like the idea of minimalism and flexibility, plus not being tied down to one place.

4. I have 4 tattoos, three of which are literary in some way. I have the last two lines of my favorite poem Invictus on my arm, a quote from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on my collarbone, a quarter sleeve with Hogwarts plus a mishmash of some original cover artwork from the Chronicles of Narnia, and then a random horse on my hip. Even though I’m not religious, the Narnia books are my all time favorite.

5. Along those same lines, my favorite fictional character is Reepicheep. He’s just a mouse, but he’s pure courage and honor and adventure and I love him.

Image result for If anyone present wishes to make me the subject of his wit reepicheep

Image result for I shall sink with my nose to sunrise reepicheep

6. One of my first jobs was as a receptionist at a hair salon. For anyone who knows me, this should be extra hilarious. All the stylists called me “the pit bull that guards the front desk”.

7. I’m not really that into TV/movies. I do like documentaries and the occasional very interesting TV show (ok, exception: Parks and Rec. The only sitcom I’ve ever loved.), but generally of the Netflix variety where you can watch it all at once. Commercials are stupid and so is waiting. If not for the SO I would probably not even have a TV anymore, I prefer to read.

8. My most awkward and uncomfortable side gig ever was when I picked up a few sports modeling gigs. One was for a stock photo company that sold the pictures to whoever the heck wanted them, and somehow different pictures ended up in 3 magazines (Competitor, Austin Fit, and some other cycling one I forget the name of). I hate having my picture taken so for real it was SO AWKWARD OMG. I basically spent a lot of time running or cycling back and forth in front of the same spot, or drinking water, or some other stupid thing, while a semi-creepy dude took a thousand pictures and everyone else stared.

I had to run as close to the edge as possible so he could get the framing he wanted. Don’t mind me while I try not to fall in the damn river.

9. Despite a lifetime involved in a lot of different sports, I’ve only managed to crack a few ribs, a tailbone, and a toe, and break an elbow. Really not bad, all things considered! Knock on wood.

10. I have very little interest in shopping for, talking about, or participating in things that are not horse or riding related (ok, maybe literature-related is alright). I’ve given up trying to be well-rounded. I tried, I swear.

11. In school I took 2 years of French (of which I remember very little), 3 years of American Sign Language (I can still sign at least 3 Green Day songs, a Foo Fighter song, and a Garth Brooks song, if that’s worth anything?), and have been working on German over the past year.

12. My first CD ever was the Lion King soundtrack. I still know every word. No I’m not kidding, EVERY WORD. I’ve also seen The Lion King the movie at least 10 times and The Lion King the play once (I’m down to go again, just not in Vegas because Vegas sucks). Generally not a fan of Disney movies, but that’s the exception. Probably because there are no people in it.

Image result for be prepared lion king gif

13. As a kid I swam competitively and did a ton of swim meets. I still really like to swim, I find it to be super relaxing. Just don’t have much time for it anymore.

14. Kind of along those same lines, when I was a kid I wanted to be a marine biologist when I grew up. I was really in love with dolphins and orcas.

15. Six years ago when I started doing triathlons I was surprised to find that I was actually kind of naturally talented at it, mostly because I have never felt like a “natural” at anything. I won several triathlons and ended up “on the podium” (top 3) all but twice. Money-wise and time-wise I ultimately had to choose between riding and tri’s, but if I had the resources I would have totally kept going. Riding is so much more difficult for me, comparatively, but it’s where my heart is.

on the way to a win in Louisiana

16. My favorite subjects in school were creative writing (it was an elective for us and I took it as many times as they would let me), journalism, and history.

17. I’ve always fantasized about living overseas and would love to make that happen someday, even if it’s just for 6 months. I think it would be really cool to immerse myself in another culture.

18. When I’m too old/broken to jump anymore, I will get a buckskin, palomino, or roan reiner.

Image result for big chex to cash
like Big Chex to Cash

19. Most of my family is from, and still lives in, Arkansas. I lived there for 7 years and I gotta say, I think it’s the most underrated state there is. The northern half is especially beautiful. If it had a better horse scene I could live there in a heartbeat.

20. My mom was very crafty, especially when it came to sewing. She made sure that I learned how to sew (by hand and by machine), quilt, and cross stitch really well as a kid. I distinctly remember spending one summer handstitching a Pink Panther wall hanging. It was not, and still is not, my favorite activity, but I’m glad that I know how.

21. I was in Girl Scouts forever and I loved it. The camping part especially. I was very much a tomboy and really liked learning all that stuff. Still kind of am and still kind of do.

Me earning my horseback riding badge with a pony named Blaze, probably around 1991 or so?

22. I’m borderline obsessed with Maya Angelou and have read everything of hers that I’ve been able to get my hands on. Also listened to her audiobooks that she herself narrated. There was just something about her and her life that is so captivating to me.

23. I have fallen off a horse on my birthday THREE TIMES. Considering that I don’t fall off very much, and I’ve only ridden on probably a little more than half of my birthdays, this is an impressive statistic.

24. I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night but throw a warmblood stallion’s name at me and I can probably give you a full dissertation of him and his entire pedigree. This is why I don’t have room for other things in my brain.

Me and Valentino Z, one of my favorites

25. I hate wine AND I hate beer AND I hate coffee. But, like… water and juice are good. Maybe a cider or a cocktail on rare occasion.

26. I don’t really believe in the “institution” of marriage anymore, or organized religion. But I believe very strongly in an individual’s right to believe (or not) whatever they choose and marry (or not) whomever they choose, and I’m open to lots of different kinds of spirituality.

27. I keep a fairly small group of close friends, and most of them I’ve known for at least a decade. It takes me a while to warm up to most people and feel comfortable with them, but once I do I’m pretty fiercely loyal and if you mess with my friends I will absolutely cut you.

28. The first horse I ever rode was named Cinnamon, at a friend’s birthday party in the late 80’s.


29. My two favorite types of food are Mexican and Indian. Basically if there’s spicy chicken and rice, preferably with some kind of cheese, I’m down.

30. I feel like it’s really important to me to be brave with my life. To do things that might intimidate or scare me, but to always still have the courage to do them, if I want to. And to stay true to who I am even if it means going against what is “normal”. I feel like life should be an adventure of my own design. I think my biggest fear is getting to the end of my life and realizing that I lived it doing things that someone else (be it society in general or any one person) wanted or told me I should want, instead of what I actually wanted for myself.


Year End Awards

When I was at Pine Hill on Sunday I finally picked up Henny’s 2017 year end award ribbon from Trainer. She grabbed it for me at the banquet last month, because, well… if you’ve ever met me then you know that I’m not exactly the banquet type. I’ve been to enough of them by now to know this about myself. I rarely drink, I don’t really like large gatherings of people, and I don’t like having lots of eyes on me. So, yeah, banquets aren’t exactly my bag.

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me, on any given day

We finished 4th for the year in Training Senior for GHCTA. On one hand I’m really proud of my horse and it was fun to put the ribbon on his bridle at the barn and snap a quick picture. Training was nothing but a wild dream a couple years ago, so to do it and not die is pretty awesome to me. I’ll take the recognition in a tangible form and be grateful for that. We only did a few shows, so how we scraped up a ribbon is a mystery to me. I’m not really super into ribbons though, so I did struggle a bit with what to do with it. Ultimately it ended up on the ribbon wall in the guest bedroom, with some of Henry’s other eventing ribbons (the ones that I have not lost along the way, because yeah that’s a thing I do sometimes).

I am really really bad at decorating

Part of my apathy towards ribbons has to do with the fact that I figured out a long time ago that progress can’t be measured by satin. Sometimes you luck into a ribbon you really don’t deserve, and other times you go home empty handed when you should be wearing a Rolex and carrying a trophy. That’s just the way of the sport. Ribbons are fun to stick on the halter and take a quick picture of, but beyond that they just don’t tend to hold much meaning to me personally.

I also struggle a little bit, ethically, with the idea of year end awards. They are straight up point accumulations, and most of the time the people who show the most are the ones at the top. I have a hard time getting excited about a system that ultimately ends up rewarding those who show their horses into the ground rather than those who pick and choose a schedule that is in the best interest of the horse.

I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’ve gotten the big fancy year end ribbons and prizes and gone to just about every show of the year, back in my h/j days. I felt like I didn’t always make the best choices during those years, and I vowed not to do it again. I’d much rather get to the end of the year and feel like I did right by the horse and myself, rather than feeling driven by points. And hey, if I do that and we manage to squeak out a year end ribbon, then that’s just gravy I guess. Points are not something that I ever want to have on my radar, though. I don’t want my decisions to be influenced or driven by that.

If year-end prizes were calculated off of some kind of average, I’d be more into it. Like the dressage awards with their highest average percentages and stuff like that. I have no idea how it would work, and I’m not really interested enough in it to figure it out, but that method is certainly more appealing to me as an eventer. I feel like we have to be extra aware of how much we show our horses.

Henny sure did look cute in his white ribbon though, and I had a momentary swell of pride in the fact that I was looking at a year end ribbon that said Training on it and it was on MY horse. I suppose that’s the real purpose of them, whether I really believe in the system or not.

How do y’all feel about year end awards? Do you plan your whole season with those in mind, or are they just coincidentals?

Planning Presto’s 2018

Guess what I did yesterday???

Yep, Presto is an official, card-carrying, USEA-registered horse. So legit now, man.

Really I was going to wait to decide whether or not to go ahead and get his Future Event Horse registration until later on in the year, if at all. I didn’t want to take him to FEH unless he decided to stop looking like a donkey at some point (which I am not holding my breath for, btw, since his mother looked like that for LITERALLY YEARS). But then USEA released the FEH schedule, and, well… there isn’t a lot for our area. There are two March classes held in conjunction with USEA recognized events, which, like… show me a yearling that is show-ready in March. Unless you want to body clip it and keep it in a stall and feed it like a show hog, none of which holds much appeal to me. Presto has an early birthday compared to most but even he would be just BARELY a year old for those shows. Most yearlings don’t start looking acceptable til late summer/early fall. Early in the yearling year is generally REALLY unattractive.

Why yes, he’s standing there with his foot in his own dinner while eating his friend’s stolen dinner, because he is totally on board with the “feed it like a show hog” approach

But our latest FEH class (not counting Championships) in this area is in June. Soooo… hmmph. If I held out until he decided to be slightly less hideous, his yearling FEH opportunities would be gone. Now I’m kinda just like well screw it, if he’s hideous and acts like a demon donkey, then so be it. He’s not for sale so if he doesn’t score well then whatever. Mostly I just want him to get out in the show atmosphere and start learning how to behave in the ring. And of course I want to support the USEA programs at the same time, so FEH it is. Since I don’t want to/literally cannot show him in March, nor do I want to drive 6 hours to Oklahoma, our only other two options are May and June.

They’re both at the same venue near Houston, and honestly they might work out for the best anyway. They are held in conjunction with an unrecognized derby, not a recognized event, so there are WAY fewer people and the atmosphere is much less grand. They’d be good little shows to let him get his feet wet without blowing his mind completely, and if he’s really hideous or terrible then at least we didn’t embarrass ourselves in front of everyone in Area 5.

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Therefore I decided to go ahead and do his FEH registration with USEA (thank you USEA for making this level of registration only $25). At least now it’s done for the year and I don’t have to remember it later, and it also means that he’s officially in their system, which is kind of fun.

EEEEEEE you can search for him and he’s got a profile page!

Of course, if he’s gonna be ready for FEH by the end of May, I need him home in April. He’s got to start learning about the triangle and standing up properly for confo, and get less feral about trotting in hand. So we’ll see if I can actually make this happen, but I’m definitely going to try.

I also took a screenshot of the USEA membership form page as I was filling it out because I thought it was too funny. No wonder people new to the warmblood world find the whole thing to be extremely confusing.


By a Holsteiner stallion and out of a Zweibrucker mare, but he’s registered Belgian. Yet by blood he’s mostly TB with some Hanoverian and Holsteiner thrown in. And actually he’s Belgian Sporthorse (sBs) not Belgian Warmblood (BWP) but USEA didn’t have that option in their dropdown.  It’s always fun to try to explain to people how any of this warmblood stuff works (clearly it is mass chaos).

First Sunburn of the Season

I mean, mid-February is basically spring in Texas, so it makes sense. I volunteered at an event yesterday from 7:30-4:30, and only remembered to slap on a little sunscreen at noon when I turned in the materials for one job and picked up the materials for the next. Thank goodness for sunshirts, but the left side of my face and both of my hands are pretty pink today. Awkward sunburns are a basic part of equestrian life, right?

It was a gorgeous day though!

I was originally going to enter this show, but… um… totally forgot to send my entry in until a couple weeks before. By that point there was a wait list a mile long so I didn’t even bother, and instead emailed the volunteer coordinator and offered myself up for the day. Then of course last week there was a chance of rain in the forecast and a ton of people scratched at the last minute (we need to talk, Texas eventers, I mean come on…) so I actually WOULD have gotten in. But oh well. And all of that was completely for nothing, really, because the weather was absolutely perfect and the footing held up really well.

Originally I was supposed to work Bit Check in the morning and then XC jump judge in the afternoon, but then they needed someone to fill in as a Warmup Steward for dressage and I got plugged into that hole. I used to get the little morning jobs that were un-eff-up-able (like scoresheet runner) but this one was like… legit responsibility. I got stuck in some traffic just a few minutes away from the venue and took the opportunity to review the job description again.

That’s a lot of bullet points

Pine Hill has the absolute best volunteer program. They have videos about each job, as  well as in-depth written instructions. You know your assignments at least a couple days in advance, so you can review all of the materials before you get there and show up feeling a little more educated and confident about what you need to do. Plus there’s a nifty rewards program for their volunteers where you earn various little pieces of  “Pine Hill” gear as you accumulate hours. In my previous years as an eventer I’d done pretty much the bare minimum of volunteering, and mainly just as an XC jump judge (because that’s the easiest and most fun job if you’re an eventer). I’ve really enjoyed getting more involved in volunteering over the last year though, and I’ve definitely developed a greater appreciation of and respect for all of the people that are necessary to make an event happen. We are a sport that relies very heavily on a large force of volunteers, it’s really so important.

my rad C4 keychain… I’m only like half an hour away from a hat!

I survived the morning as Warmup Steward without any real issues, thanks to riders being on point and paying attention. We wrapped up about 10 minutes early, which gave me ample time to hike back up the hill, pee, grab my chair, and go pick up my stuff for jump judging. I’ve pretty much never been at a jump that had many problems before, so when I saw that I had the water I was like “oh boy”. And there were definitely a few issues there throughout the day, a couple falls and some refusals, but all things considered it went pretty well. It’s extra fun to watch the water at a show that has a lot of green horses or less experienced riders… there were tons of very excited GOOD BOY’s and GOOD GIRL’s and celebrations when riders were proud of how their mount handled it. I’ve been there and know how that feels, so it’s cute to watch.

Trainer on her baby OTTB in his first BN… even the pros were smiling!

It was a long day, leaving my house at 5:30am and getting home at 6:30pm. I was tiiiiiiiiiiiired when I got home… like… more tired than if I had actually shown. It was worth it though. You can’t ask for much more than a beautiful day spent amongst friends and horses, even if I am a little bit pink (in patches) today.