Buyer Beware

Or: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

A couple days ago Leah sent me a link to a quarter sheet she had seen for sale on saddlesworld.com, asking if it was my photo.

Not only was it definitely my photo, it had been photoshopped. The original photo is this:

clearly showing a HUGE PS of Sweden logo that had been quite obviously photoshopped out of the version on the saddlesworld.com site. Stealing someone’s photo for advertising use on your website is one level of shady… photoshopping said photo to remove another brand’s logo is a whole extra level. I emailed them and tagged them in a facebook post about the photo, and within half an hour they had taken the quarter sheet’s page down, offering an apology and a coupon.


Gee, thanks. Steal my photo, photoshop it, use it for false advertising, and then offer me a coupon for my troubles. You shouldn’t have!

No really… you shouldn’t have.

Because if you take a quick jog around their site, it’s absolutely chock full of stolen photos. This is clearly not an accident or a one off situation. You can recognize photos from SmartPak, Dover, Fairfax, Mattes, Sabre, Zaldi, Bates, Weaver, etc etc etc. Some photoshopped to remove branding, some that didn’t require alterations. All of it at super low, fairly unbelievable prices, of course.

And if you, the consumer, do a cursory look around the internet to see if the site seems legit, you would find that it claims to be based in Massachusetts, even sporting a Massachusetts phone number, and their facebook page has over 13k likes. Yet a closer look at some of the endless find print reveals that it’s clearly based overseas, most likely in India. My email was answered by someone supposedly named “Sam Seth”.

Bottom line, who knows what you’d actually get if you ordered something. Maybe they do their best to very cheaply knockoff whatever item is in the photo. Maybe they just give you the total runaround. Either way – YIKES. Come on, Saddles World, if you want to sell a bunch of uber cheap knockoffs, at least have the decency to take photos of your own products and only use THOSE for advertising, instead of stealing and photoshopping photos from other people and companies.

Sites like these are becoming more and more common, it seems. While most aren’t this blatant about stolen photos, there is definitely a huge influx of cheap knockoff products, often of extremely questionable quality. For some things, like saddle pads, it doesn’t matter much. But do you really want to be riding around in a bridle, girth, saddle (or other crucial piece of a equipment) that has been cobbled together by one of these sellers? Best case scenario – it’s hideous and uncomfortable. Worst case scenario – it breaks while you’re using it and you’re screwed.

Before ordering from one of these super cheap discount places, definitely do your homework. If there’s one thing the horse world teaches us, it’s that if something looks amazing in photos but the price is next to nothing, there’s probably a catch.

WEANED

Guess what happened on Monday?

Yep, it’s true, Presto is an independent man now. Well, sort of. He and Liam are so obsessed with each other that it’s a little ridiculous.

DERPS – but serious question, why are Liam’s nostrils like half the size of Presto’s…

It started out just by putting Presto and Liam in the double stall/run right next to Sadie, to introduce the concept of separation. Because really, there’s nothing worse than the destructive power of a mad giant hippo mare who likes to SadieSMASH. That went off without a hitch, although Sadie was still sidling up to the fence every once in a while to let Presto nurse. I mean, he’s 6.5 months old, you think she’d be tired of him and his crap by now, especially because she seems pretty uncomfortable when he nurses. She is really dedicated to the whole Momma thing.

There has been a thread going on in one of the breeding groups on facebook about “weaning by the signs”, which sounds either super hokey or semi credible, depending on where you stand on the subject of moon phases and it’s affect on people/animals. It just so happened that our timeline coincided easily with one of the “prime” weaning times, so we went with that. Hokum? Maybe. Gonna stack the odds in your favor as much as possible, especially when it’s easy? Yes. Either way, things seem to have worked out, because Presto was not particularly stressed.

that ONE TIME Presto was nice, before he wasn’t

It was discovered by day 2 of “Presto+Liam: Unsupervised” that Presto is indeed the more dominant of the two. Like to the point where he wouldn’t let Liam eat out of either bucket – instead he ran him off to the corner, where Liam just stood there licking his lips and looking like a Big Sad Dumb while Presto expertly monitored both buckets. So someone is kind of a jerk, and more creative feeding methods had to be adopted. Have to admit, I secretly kind of admire his “Bitch, please” attitude. The kid has this wordlyness about him, like he’s been places and he’s seen things. Or so he thinks, anyway. Cocky little turd. But I suppose that attitude is probably a big part of why he’s still alive, so I can’t really resent it now, can I?

The boys will go out to pasture and Sadie will go back with her BFF Lissa. The mares can focus on getting fat again, Sadie can focus on growing that Diarado baby, and they can enjoy a break from naughty little colts with flying teeth and flying hooves.

innocent babes

At some point Liam will be leaving, which will probably be the saddest thing ever for both colts. Granted, they both have other friends waiting for them that I’m sure will be almost as fun. And then Presto will be gelded (god, do you think that’ll take the cocky attitude down a notch?) once it gets cold.

It’s about time to buy him Baby’s First Rope halter, so he can start learning some real groundwork (with manners attached)!

 

Sometimes you just need purple breeches

Life has been a little stressful lately. Not the horse related stuff so much (omg knocking on so much wood right now) but personal stuff. Work. The future. A big crossroads that would completely and totally change everything. Ya know, light stuff. No biggie.

I’m not much of a talker, my standard MO is to internalize things until I’ve figured out the solution and have a plan in place, which I haven’t done yet. It’s very much a state of limbo, like I’m lingering on the precipice of some big life decisions, trying to decide whether or not to jump. As I said… light stuff. On the outside it’s a lot of this

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but inside it’s more like this.

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I’ll talk about it eventually. When I figure it out.

In the meantime the horses have been my refuge, so to speak, and I’ve kind of chosen to drown myself in them even more than usual. Cuz, I dunno… valid coping mechanism? I also may or may not have had a weak day while scrolling through Instagram last week. The good thing is that my retail therapy budget is basically nill right now, there was very little damage I could actually do.

But yeah, I’m sorry, I can’t resist dark purple breeches. Especially when the alternative is eating an entire roll of cookie dough or something. Breeches are better, right? These were stupid cheap anyway, AND I’ve been wanting to try this brand for a while, AND I’ve been waiting for someone to make a super dark purple for a long time, so I’m going to consider it totally justifiable. Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong (jk, please don’t do that, let me have my dark purple breeches without judgment). I don’t know why these things make me feel better, but they do. They’re fun and they’re different, two things I’m actively seeking for myself. And, well… purple was my mom’s favorite color, after all. It’s as if the sheer act of owning them might somehow transfer some of her wisdom to me via spiritual osmosis.

Or maybe I’m just reading way too much into a pair of purple pants. That’s also 100% possible.

Do I actually have to even bother to justify these? I hope not. I stood no chance against the f-bomb socks. They really complement the inner turmoil nicely. Ok let’s be honest, they suit me perfectly regardless of life phase.

The Backbone, Daughter Scripted Tee - Unisex

Never stood a chance against this one either. It’s great and it’s the truth and it’s something that quite suits the situation. The more I see it, the better. Also it was on sale, so.

Plus I totally just realized that in my stress-splurge I created a whole new ROOTD. Bonus.

I found a lot of inspiration in Maya Angelou last week when I listened to the audio version of her book “Letter to my Daughter” on my drive to Midland. It was so good I listened to it twice and then went on Thriftbooks and bought a hard copy ($4.99, Thriftbooks never lets me down). If you haven’t read it I highly highly highly recommend.

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“My life has been long,

and believing that life loves the liver of it,

I have dared to try many things,

sometimes trembling, but daring, still.”

 

Melodrama aside, I’m all good. Things will work out and I’m nervous but excited to see what happens. And until then, I’ll be rocking some pretty rad purple breeches.

Anyone else had a little mini-splurge on something fun lately?

Inspection photos: Take 2

First, the “nice” versions of the pictures from Presto’s actual inspection last week:

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But since the weather was so gross that day, Michelle was pretty bummed at how the pictures came out. She’s got a nice camera and takes actual good pictures (unlike, um… me) so she wanted to redo the whole thing. Especially since the boys are about to enter the weanling uglies, from which there is no return for like… years, really. This might be the last chance to get nice pictures before all of their parts start to look like they don’t belong on the same horse.

So as soon as the weather cleared up and the farm dried out, she braided Presto back up, and did a “redo” of the inspection photos. And these definitely came out much better. It’s amazing how much difference THE SUN (and a cooperative baby horse) makes.

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it also would have been great if he had shown THIS TROT at the inspection 
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or this trot
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Always talking
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So. Much. Sass.
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He remembered he’s an eventer
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I think his stride will be long enough…

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Maybe I’m biased (I’m not) but he’s so cute. I continue to be really thrilled with how he’s maturing, and the quality of horse that I’m seeing. He’s just about everything I could have asked for in an event horse, so far.

Someone remind me of that in a few months when he looks like a giraffellamapotamus.

Presto also had something else SUPER EXCITING happen to him this week, but we’ll talk about that in another post.

Show Weekend That Wasn’t 

I’m starting to think that Henry really IS in cahoots with the weather gods. It’s just not possible for a horse to get his way this completely, over and over and over again.

Somehow he found out that I had signed us up for two dressage classes at the local Thoroughbred rescue’s benefit show. They didn’t offer any jumping classes high enough, but they let you write in whatever dressage test you wanted, so I happily sent in our entry for USEA tests Training A and B. It’s hard to find schooling shows in town that will let you do eventing tests. This was going to be perfect practice.

would like to do the entire test in stretchy trot, please.

Or it would have been, had it not started raining last Tuesday and kept right on going through Thursday night. The venue had no choice but to reschedule the show for November, and I swear I heard Henry snickering from his stall, 20 miles away. But a cancelled dressage show didn’t get him out of regular rides, so on Saturday morning I showed up ready to do a dressage school anyway. As soon as I got there the main barn worker told me that he’d been an absolute NUT in turnout the day before, galloping and spinning and leaping and whirling around for almost an hour. First thought: I wonder how many shoes he has left? Second thought: I wonder which part of himself he managed to hurt? Because this is Henny. Those two things are pretty reliable.

I got him out to find that he’d managed to keep all four of his shoes (small miracle) and he appeared to be free of obvious injury. Suspicious. Very suspicious. So I started currying, and he just about hit the floor when I got to the right side of his back. Aha. I knew there’d be something. Pretty much the entire length of his psoas on the right side was super tight and sore. Obviously all those airs above the ground had caused someone to tweak his back. I got to work and starting stretching, rubbing, stretching some more, and whipped out his massager. It got better as I went, so I decided to hop up and go for a long bareback walk to help loosen everything up. After that there was more rubbing, stretching, and massaging, and by the time I put him up it was significantly improved. Nice try, Henny.

the face of regret

On Sunday I had signed up to jump judge at a schooling horse trial a couple hours away, so I was at the barn at dawn to fit a ride in first. He was still tight in his psoas, but much improved, so he got a quick 10 minute massage and stretch, then we went out for a dressage school. He felt tight at first, mostly in the lateral work, but improved quickly and actually managed to give me some good work. More massage, more stretching, and I tossed him in his stall to have his breakfast then headed off to meet Bobby so we could carpool to the show.

I always forget how much I like jump judging. I wish these venues were all closer to me so it was easier for me to do it more often. Sitting in the woods for 4-5 hours with a walkie-talkie, watching horses go by… there are worse ways to spend a Sunday. I was also slightly horrified to find that the Prelim jumps did not look horrifying to me at all, even up close and personal. What. Is. Happening.

it looks so small and cute from this angle

So while we didn’t actually get to show this weekend, we at least got to go TO a show, see some friends, and get some volunteer time in. Someday we’ll actually make it to a dressage show, despite Henry’s best efforts. Maybe.

Review: It’s a Haggerty’s custom sunshirts

As a Texan, I pretty much live in sunshirts 9-10 months out of the year. They’re an absolute staple down here in the mega-hot-death-ray-sun South, and I own a ridiculous number of them. I’ve tried just about every brand by now, and figured out exactly what I like and don’t like. And since I already have so many, it’s a challenge to find ones that are different and interesting. Enter It’s a Haggerty’s.

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I’d seen this brand on Instagram for quite a while, with all of their fun custom patterns and trims and colors. But I’m picky about sunshirt fabric, so I was hesitant to take the plunge on ordering anything custom for fear that I’d end up hating it. I finally was able to see them in person at Rolex and was pleasantly surprised to find that the fabric, while a bit thicker than my favorite Kastels, was quite nice – almost silky feeling. I nabbed one from the Plaid Horse booth to take home with me to test out.

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I was glad that I was able to see them in person, because the sizing definitely runs a bit small. I normally wear a medium Kastel but needed a large It’s a Haggerty’s. I quite like the sleeve construction – they have some extra length in the arm and a true cuff, for good coverage and a nice slim fit. I’ve found that if there isn’t a true cuff I’ll end up pushing the sleeves up out of annoyance, which kind of defeats the whole point of a sunshirt. As spring turned into summer I found that the shirt performed admirably in the heat. Not quite as “cooling” as the fabric of the Kastel, but certainly better than the Bette & Court, Ariat, and Riding Sport shirts. The fabric has held up well to my abuse, and the construction is solid.

When there were requests for sunshirts with the Presto logo, I went straight to It’s a Haggerty’s. Not only do they have a million customization options, they also offer cheap embroidery. Typically for large orders they do big batches of the same shirt for barns or teams, so I felt kind of guilty when I sent in my cobbled together order of 11 different Presto shirt and embroidery color combinations plus 2 sBs shirts. I’m sure that was a nightmare, but fast forward a couple months and everything arrived looking great.

The shirts are $60-65 depending on solid vs patterned, and embroidery is $15 (although there are discounts for bulk orders). There was no extra set-up or digitization fee for the logos I sent. Overall they’re very competitively priced for the market. There are so many color and pattern options that it almost becomes impossible to choose just one or two combinations. On one hand I wish there was a fun little configurator on the website to make it easier to envision what it’ll look like, but on the other hand I’m glad there isn’t or I’d probably own a dozen of these things by now.

I’m reserving my Presto shirt – navy with yellow plaid cuffs/collar – mostly for cross country at shows, so that Presto gets to “ride along” with us. Yeah, I’m cheesy. I also ordered one with a Willow Tree logo on one side and sBs logo on the other, which gets tons of compliments every time I wear it. If you’re looking for something custom, or some fun patterns and color combinations, I would definitely check out It’s a Haggerty’s. I haven’t been disappointed!

Presto’s sBs inspection

The Belgians were in Texas for the Willow Tree Warmbloods sBs inspection yesterday!


This registry is fairly new to this country, having come over to the US around 2010, but it’s starting to really get a good foothold with the jumper breeders. Studbook sBs horses are known as “Belgian Sporthorses”, not to be confused with Belgian Warmbloods (from the BWP registry). What’s the difference? Mostly which part of Belgium the studbooks are based in. Studbook sBs covers mainly the southern (French) region of the country and BWP covers mainly the northern Dutch speaking region. Although BWP has been known here in America for longer, sBs was actually the first Belgian registry. It’s quite small, numbers-wise, but has still managed to produce its fair share of superstars (ever heard of HH Azur or Rothchild?) and consistently finds itself near the top of the WBFSH Studbook rankings for jumpers.

Basically, it’s legit. Maybe you’d never heard of it before, but you have now. Also their brand looks kinda like the Budweiser logo, so there’s that.

One of the great things about sBs in the US is that they have full reciprocity with their books in Belgium. It’s not a completely separate registry like some of the other big North American based ones, so you end up getting a European passport as part of the horse’s registration paperwork. Pretty neat. The other great perk is that they use Belgian judges, which gets you consistency in the scoring and a solidly experienced eye.

Granted, they are a very jumper-oriented registry, and Presto is an eventer. I knew he wasn’t going to be the type they generally look for, conformation-wise, which is a big muscular well-developed type of horse… which is not generally what you see galloping around the upper levels of eventing. But I was obviously interested in their general impressions and thoughts on his movement… the opinions of experienced breeders and horsemen are always important.

Before I start recapping events, I have to give props to Michelle for how well she did with organizing and preparing for the inspection. The farm looked great and the judges had much praise for how professional the inspection was. She worked her butt off and it showed. Hopefully going forward we can draw even more people to sBs and her inspection.


We had 2 foals (Presto and Liam) and 7 mares to present, which made for a busy morning. There were plenty of helpers though, so we were able to shuffle everyone through pretty quickly. It was an unseasonably cool day, 65 and overcast, so the horses were plenty “lit”. Some a little bit TOO lit.

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the “I’m about to do something terribly naughty” eyeball

 

Presto was a compete shitturd to braid. Totally wanted to murder him more than once, but didn’t. Gold star for me. He really needs to be weaned so his self esteem isn’t quite so damn high. He held himself together fairly well(ish) for the in hand portion but mostly just galloped around screaming like a deranged donkey for the free movement portion. There were like 10 steps of meh trot in there, so at least we got SOMETHING.

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like this
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with a touch of this

 

As I expected, they thought he was a little underdeveloped as far as musculature and “bulk” goes. The fact that he’s 74% tb means he will never be particularly solid, and I don’t want him to be, so I’m cool with those remarks. He definitely isn’t the big powerful showjumper standard. He scored straight 7.5’s for the type and conformation section. For perspective, his dam (who I commonly refer to as Hippo or Elephant) got an 8.5 on type. Just slightly different criteria in the jumper vs eventer worlds as far as that goes.

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Sadie always comes through with a floaty trot picture

They liked his movement more, giving him an 8 for his walk (it was not very relaxed at the time) and an 8.5 for both his trot and canter. Considering I didn’t think he showed as much quality in his movement as I’ve seen from him before, I was pleased with those scores. Pretty much everything was right in line with what I expected.

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total mystery as to why this screaming donkey’s walk score was a little lower

After we finished with the horse inspections, both foals got branded and microchipped. Presto had a brief “AM I ON FIRE?” moment with the smoke, but otherwise seemed pretty nonplussed by the branding and the big microchip needle. Sure… stand just fine for those things but dance the tango while I’m braiding you. That makes total sense.

Obviously these pics are just the ones I snapped off of the nice camera’s view screen, so once I get the good versions I’ll post pictures of all the horses. It was a fun (and kind of exhausting) day, but most importantly Presto now has all of his “real horse” stuff done. All that’s really left is to get his lifetime USEF registration! But first: WEANING.

Your Perfect Horse

This one was started by Olivia, and I think it’s fun to dream, so dream we shall! She said: “If money was absolutely no barrier and I could custom design every single itty bitty little thing, what would I want in my next horse?”

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If you had asked me this question Pre-Henry, you would have gotten a very regimented “16.2h, bay Holsteiner with a star/snip and a couple of white socks, that can take a joke and jump a house”.

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that would do
If there’s one thing that little bay ball of sass known as Henny has taught me, it’s that it truly is what’s on the inside that counts. These days I’m pretty open to anything 15.3-16.3 that is genuine to it’s core and really wants to do the job. But Olivia said Perfect Horse, so let’s play ball.

Really what I want is all the best things about Henry, but a better mover, easier to ride in dressage, more careful in stadium, and more scope. Oh right, also this perfect horse is bay or brown with just a little bit of white and never has a lame day in it’s life. HA. I still maintain that 16.3h is my preferred upper limit, since I really think the ideal size for a sporthorse is 16.1h or so. I want something that could pack my butt (and all of my bad decisions) around Prelim without turning a hair. Something that is careful in stadium but still super brave. Something that is FORWARD (because I freakin hate when you close your leg and a horse doesn’t react) and wants to take me to the jumps but isn’t a runaway.

Work ethic is probably one of the most important qualities to me in a horse. I had one that had to be “convinced” to go to work every day, and it was not enjoyable to me in the least. I absolutely must have a horse that enjoys the work and is always willing to TRY.

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must love job: check
I also want good ground manners – cannot stand super rude horses – but I don’t mind something a little cheeky. Not outright naughty, but I like a horse with some character. Has to be a good traveler, naturally, and easy to catch (another pet peeve). It can’t be inclined to rear, it has to have a decent sense of self-preservation (I don’t want something that will try to jump even when it really really shouldn’t), and it has to have a safe jumping technique. I would want to get it when it was still kinda young and green too, because I’m one of those super masochistic people that likes developing a young horse.

Which kinda leads to this nugget.

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I made sure to guarantee myself bay or brown by using a stallion without a red gene, but Presto certainly did his part in the markings department with his star, snip, and one front white sock. My favorite markings! If he’s anything like his parents, I’m hoping that he’ll have at least most of the qualities I’m looking for in my Perfect Horse. We’re a long way from seeing if he develops into that, but I think it’s gonna be pretty fun to find out.

Arena Eventing

Oh, arena eventing. I’ve tried to like it, I really have. I watch it every time it’s on live broadcast, I’ve watched a lot on Youtube from Europe, and I even did an indoor eventing show once. Which, for the record, was great fun. It used OT instead of fastest time, which seemed considerably more safe. Alas, I digress.

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that was a thing we did once

I watched the arena eventing from Central Park on Saturday night (because I was at a party and there were no dogs to pet), hoping to come away with what I’m always hoping for – a “wow that was fun and exciting” feeling. Instead I came away with what I always come away from those things with – a “well, I’m glad no one was hurt” feeling. Granted, maybe I’m being oversensitive, especially considering that a well established French rider suffered a fatal rotational fall at a CCI* horse trial in Europe earlier that same day. Maybe that set me up to be on a hair trigger. Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m the biggest Debbie Downer on the planet. All of those things are possible I suppose.

Don’t get me wrong, there are things I like about the whole arena eventing spectacle.

  1. Big money classes like these, that take place at prestigious horse shows, help put the spotlight on the sport of eventing in general.
  2. These classes help get real money into the hands of some of these riders who really need it. Prize money is hard to come by in our sport.
  3. I always walk away from it thinking that event horses are pretty damn brilliant and genuine.

On the other hand, there are a lot of things I don’t like, which is… pretty much everything else. At the first near horse fall, my heart leaped into my throat and stayed there. At the third near horse fall, I was just crossing my fingers that everyone would stay upright. One horse pulled out a pretty spectacularly athletic feat to manage to not have a rotational, and another one somehow managed to scramble back to his feet after almost completely wiping out around a turn before a jump. Almost every horse did not read the bank question correctly the first time over it. Considering that safety is THE big hot button issue in our sport, these showcases seem to laugh in the face of it.

We’ve been told that one of the main purposes of these types of classes is to showcase eventing as a sport. I have to wonder if this is the kind of showcase we really want. I came from the h/j world, and the most common perception that I remember hearing (or having) about eventers was that they were “yahoos” – riders that cowboyed around but lacked finesse and, to some degree, skill. Others thought it was just downright dangerous to gallop over solid fences. After watching several of these supposed arena eventing showcases by now, it’s easy to see how someone would get that impression. They seem to constantly toe the line between exciting and reckless, like a more extreme version of an already fairly extreme sport. If the riders want to win they have no choice but to go pedal to the metal, yanking the horses around the turns, galloping wildly at big solid fences, jumping dozens of fences over and over and over crammed into a fairly small space. While I’m sure it’s fun to watch from a “thrills and spills” perspective, that’s just not what eventing is.

Even Dom Schramm, part of the winning team, said of the horse he was riding (who was an impressive 20 years old, btw): “He’s just been going novice, so I felt kind of bad for him, as we were turning and burning. Halfway around I was thinking ‘Sorry mate, I wouldn’t normally ride you like this,’ but he was a champion. He was just unbelievable, just picked himself back up.”.

I love Dom and Ryan, and I’m super happy to see them walk away with a big check, but with comments like that coming from the winners, I have to wonder about the format of these classes. I feel like surely there has to be a better way to showcase eventing and to put some prize money in people’s pockets. Watching people (some of whom aren’t even wearing protective vests btw) gallop at big solid corners in an arena setting makes me cringe in a big way. What happens when there’s an accident and a horse or human is seriously injured, or worse?

Surely there’s a middle ground here. A better way to format these classes where it’s still fun to watch, but it’s safer for all involved. Until then, I don’t think I can watch it anymore.

Little jumps, big takeaways 

Omg, it’s a miracle, I actually had a jumping lesson. With courses and everything! I know, it’s rare. The local pony club was bringing my trainer in for a big lesson day and they were kind enough to tack me onto the beginning of their schedule. The arena was fantastic (great footing – so springy!) and I only had to drive an hour instead of the usual 2 hours. Total win/win that was much appreciated. Well, by me anyway. Henry was not as enthusiastic about his 5:30AM wakeup call.

5 more minutes

The journey from my barn to the site of the lesson day was one I normally would cringe about making. I literally crossed diagonally from one side of Austin to the other, which meant mostly toll road and under-construction highway the whole way. Sunday morning at 6am is the only time I’d recommend that particular journey with a horse trailer… it was actually quite pleasant with very few other cars on the road. Any other time it would just be standstill traffic. Worked out for us!

The arena was set up with all of the exercises for the Pony Club kids, which also fit in pretty well with our agenda for Henry. Last week at MeadowCreek it became pretty clear that he’s got to take a little bit more responsibility for his own feet, and not be quite so reliant on me getting everything 100% perfect in order for him to jump clear. So we worked on getting his feet moving a little quicker, rocking back at the base, straightness, and on making changes by going forward. The jumps stayed small and the exercises themselves got more complicated.

BOUNCE!

It took several times through the bounce before Henry was really springing himself through it. He has this tendency to land and just stall out a bit, rather than rocking back on that big lard butt and pushing himself off again. Life is hard when you’re built downhill, man. I really had to think of coming FORWARD out of the corner and keep my leg very solidly ON the whole way through.

The straightness stuff was a bit easier for him, but still a great test of our accuracy. Those parts of the exercises almost had more of an XC type feel, jumping on an angle or off a very short track. It was a good test for me, the pilot. I quite liked the little “thread the needle” triple, with 3 jumps that didn’t line up, set one stride apart. There really was only ONE good line through there, which is also true of a lot of the combination questions we’re seeing on XC at Training. It’s important to pick the right line and never waiver from it.

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My favorite exercise (the one in the video below) was jumping up through the center of the corner over the barrel as a skinny, two angled strides to the 3rd element of the “thread the needle triple”, around to the bounce, left rollback to the rail, back around and jumping down the triple, 3 forward strides to a vertical. It had a little bit of everything thrown into one mini-course, and Henry answered all the questions well.

 

It was a fun lesson, and definitely served to highlight the things we do well versus the things we still need to work on. Time to set some bounces back up at home! And uh… make sure we get more regular jumping lessons…