Restart

The long weekend was 2 steps forward and one back. I shouldn’t be surprised that this horse can get hot – I’ve often told people that when riled she can be hot. And not riled in a bad way. She wants to please so badly and she gets into this mindset of “we doing work and work is lots of cantering so let’s just GO” from when we were training reining a bit ago, that she jogs her super cute jog and is just WAITING for me to ask for the canter – canter now? how about now? okay, now?!

It’s really not a bad thing. I keep trying to tell myself that. The reining me is like NO and the trying-to-rearrange-my-brain-to-beginner-eventer me keeps trying to say “at least she’s really forward for xc and stadium…?”

work is too hard…too hot….

And of course our one step back was my fault. I wasn’t really paying attention and poor girl was sore backed and really wanted to reining slow lope to stretch her back and I wanted her to collect up for bursts of let’s-try-to-get-used-to-contact. I try really hard to pay attention to her but it’s difficult to tell if she’s uncomfortable or if she’s in “hot” mode because I’m starting to go back to a “training” regimen. She does the same thing for both – she goes faster. I just need to listen better.

But, over the weekend I’ve also been wondering if I need to get anything injected. She’s never had an injection her whole life – not for her knee or her hocks or anything. She’s also been tripping these past few months, mainly on that right front, and she’s just been pretty body sore on a relatively consistent basis even with massages. I’ll get all her aches out for a day or two and then she’s back to being sore.

Such sweetness in her eye

Especially if I’m getting into a demanding sport like eventing, even if it’s just at the intro level, I want her to be happy and sound. She could be body sore because of her hocks and her knees and potentially sore SI ligaments. Plus, considering her injury history and the fact that most rides are “work”, she’s relatively fit (albeit fat and heavily muscled). Enough to walk herself out after a good 45 minute ride in 5 minutes. So the strain of that could be getting to her joints.

This is definitely her “oh dear god, not more photoshoots” face. Really, I don’t get her. She’ll look like I’m embarrassing her like crazy, and then she’ll sit there and pose. Oh, wait. That’s why – it’s the bonnet

Since the arena is slanted, we’re technically doing marginal hill-work every day. I think that’s really put on the pounds of muscle that I hope she loses after a few months. Plus, some of her hay isn’t the best looking or most nutritious – I think it’s similar to us eating popcorn. So we’ll try to lower her weight first to see if that helps (I will get plenty of stink eyes from her when she goes on her diet). I kind of want to try one thing at a time so I know what actually works instead of changing five things and not knowing which one helped.

Yesterday, the dirt for our arena came in, and now we’re just waiting for our grader to be available so he can spread the dirt and we can do a test ride. Can’t wait!

SAND

So after the last load of dirt was dropped off I went out to see the mare and give her a good full body massage. Of course, belly scratches were a MUST. I’ve seriously never met another horse that loves belly scratches as much as Amber does. Such a weirdo. Walked her a bit and it looked like she was feeling much better.

Scratches…So…Good…..

On helping Amber feel better, what do you guys suggest? What has worked for you in the past?

Overhaulin’

So, I mentioned that I’m living with my folks and we’re currently building a barn and an arena. And it’s finally happening! It’s been about 7 months in the works, getting all the right permits since we’re in Clark County and they require certain things if a building is going to be X big and whatnot. I won’t go through all the gory details, because honestly, it’s really boring.

After much research, we went with High Desert Barns out of Reno. We don’t need anything super fancy, and because it gets so God-awful hot in the summer we needed an airy barn but with the ability to mostly close them in when we get hurricane-equivalent gusts. So High Desert was a perfect solution. They’ll hopefully be erecting the barn June 6th, so it’s coming very, very soon. One week to be exact.

Of course before that, we had to get the grader out to make the pad for the barn, the base for the arena, and then get it all inspected and approved by our grade planner. The grader finished just before the long weekend.

So now, the place looks completely different.

Before…
After. So flat….

This is where the arena will be. It looks huge with all the brush cleared away. No more homes for the bunnies and chipmunks, unfortunately, but they haven’t lived in that area for a while so it’s okay. No home wrecking happening. The property goes to that blue conex box, but the arena will not be that far back. I wish, but no. Which is perfectly okay. It’s pretty bare out there so lots of areas to do trot sets and dressage (somehow) around all the sagebrush. That will be…interesting to say the least.

The barn will be in back of the house so we can stare obsessively and stalk the horses from the air conditioning because my mom’s horse has a bit of trouble in the heat and mine likes to destroy things. Yay.

Yay for undisturbed desert.
Pad for the barn

It’s definitely been different to get used to. There’s just….nothing now. It’s so….flat. However, I’m glad the majority of the rocks are gone. Just no. I’m so done with rocks after slipping and sliding on them at the place we currently board.

Front look at the pad

Due to the original slope of the land the front of the pad had to be built up. If it floods the horses will be drier than the house. Not like it’ll flood. At least not in this area. Flooding is usually relegated to north and east Vegas. But hey, the horses are obviously more important, right?

Only one more week until the barn is up!

 

Tack Haul

Okay, so finally, my tack haul from Rolex. Perhaps it may not seem like much, but it turns out to be a a fair amount since I’m omitting what I bought at the Rolex booth. Not for any reason. I just got a few shirts, two hats, a bag and a pair of socks, so it’s really not that exciting.

Most of the items I bought on Friday. Since I hadn’t made it very far in going to the shops on Thursday, I had to battle with the crowds Friday and make sure I checked everything. I hit some gold at the Smartpak booth – because you know, I don’t buy enough from Smartpak. I got a pair of breeches I’d been eyeing, a leather halter I had looked up many times, and a fleece dressage girth.

The kneepatch Pipers I really like only had grey and turquoise. Since I’m not really a grey person – warm, earth tones are more to my liking – I had my eye on the silicone kneepatch Piper breeches that came in taupe and turquoise.

I had quite a few turquoise Piper shirts, so of course, me being matchy matchy obsessed, I had to get a pair of Pipers that matched. I’ve only worn them once, but so far so good! Like all the Pipers they’ve worn well and come out of the wash just fine. However, I could have sized down in these. Usually the others aren’t so big in the waist, and these are, so at least for the silicone knee patch I could’ve sized down.

The leather halter I’d constantly clicked on on the website caught my eye, because this time I could actually FEEL the leather. Certain brands I don’t need to feel the leather to know it’s going to be top notch quality (ahem, PS of Sweden). But, it was a very affordable leather, padded halter, so I wanted to be sure I knew the feel of the leather before I bought it.

Sunday I made my way over to the Clever with Leather booth to get those plates on the halter – they had some brown leather halters with blue padding, and were better quality, but I liked the blue on this halter a little better, along with the price. But you do get what you pay for, so we’ll see how this halter holds up. I’m waiting for our place to be done before I use it.

The fleece girth so far has worked great. Amber has sweat in it a lot, but I threw it in the washer, line dry and it was good to go again. I’ll need to get another one, a 28 this time since what I bought was a 30. It hasn’t stretched; she’s just going to lose weight and she’s already losing a bit so I’ll need a smaller girth.

Amber seems to like it a lot, and it’s super easy upkeep for me. Yay on both ends. I just wish it came in brown…..

Sunday I popped into a few more stores, found a jacket I sort of liked, but I just couldn’t get sold on it. I’ve had a lot of show coat issues because I’m usually in between sizes and all of them feel extremely restrictive in the upper arm. Plus, I love the classic, navy windowpane look – my old hunter coming out – and I was passing one booth when this coat just snagged my eye.

I loved absolutely everything about it; especially that the windowpane/plaid was such a contrasting light blue. Amber’s colors/barn colors right there – navy and light blue. This was probably the first windowpane that I really really liked. Though my mom wanted to buy me a jacket as a birthday present, we hadn’t found any we could agree on. She knows tons about fabrics, and I know what I want it to look like.

It’s by a brand called Equine Athletics, and I was ecstatic to find that upon trying it on, it was STRETCHY. I have not been familiar with English apparel and tack since I was about 13, so while many things have improved, I am completely unaware of them right now. I figured they had to have coats with stretch, and ta-da! Here was this one. I kept looking at the price tag and hoping that the sale price wasn’t indicative that the fabric was of a much lower quality. But since it was the last day of Rolex, it was on a “must-go” sale of $89.95. It retails for $185 from this site. I’ve looked at other sites and while they say they’re cheaper I’m pretty sure those are the kids’ show coats. Either way, I think it was a steal. It may not be the solid black or navy of a dressage/jumper coat, but I really love it. Maybe in the future I’ll nab a “real” jumper coat.

Next, I of course had to get gloves to match. I happened upon these navy Roeckl gloves at the Bit of Britain booth. I wanted to buy so many other things from there, too, but settled for the gloves.

I’m really not a gloves fan. I wear them in the summer because otherwise my hands get way too tan, but those gloves are fingerless. I feel like gloves inhibit my “feel” in my fingers. It could absolutely be my imagination.

One of the things I bought at the RK3DE booth that I will highlight are these socks from Jox Sox.

I really really like these. I usually buy the thick socks to help absorb sweat, but these are just like my Ovation Aqua X breeches. They really let your feet breathe, and I can get really dry, cracked feet in the summer, so these allow my feet to breathe and wick away sweat so they don’t dry out as much. Also, as you can tell, they are very slim fitting. They came about a half inch over the bottom of the Ovations, and are not bulky at all. They fit very nicely under my half chaps. These are the closest I can find that are the same brand and the most similar to the ones with the RK3DE logo on them.

That’s it! Not too much stuff for the pony, but it was a good tack haul nonetheless.

A bit of nothing

Well, not much has been going on here in Vegas land. But, now that the week is almost up, I’ve got a few things to post about. On Sunday, I drove to Pahrump to audit a cavaletti clinic. I had signed up to take Amber to the third one, but it’s a three part clinic so going to the first two was mandatory if you wanted to be in the third. So, I audited the first session, and will be hauling Amber for a private lesson of sessions 1 and 2 before we join a group for 3.

There were a lot of grids up, and it got me excited and happy because I don’t have anything like this right now. I plan on investing in poles in the coming months so we can really get familiar with footwork before we start hopping over fences. So this had me excited.

Most of them were walk grids with a few trot ones. The lesson was pretty basic – let go of the reins, let your horse look down, let your horse find his own footwork and be responsible for it. In and amongst that were a few other things like arm position, halting and preparation for turns. Again, a pretty basic clinic, but the people there really benefited from it. It was great to see them all improving, and by the end, they were all excited to call out their own grid pattern.

Either way, it was a good day of riding, and I am really looking forward to my private lesson as well as the third clinic. And sorry for the inadequate media. Many times I like to pay attention and be off my phone, so I don’t take pictures. I promise, though to take a lot more pictures the next two times.

But if anyone is interested, you can find them on FB here. Session 2 is June 4 and session 3 is June 25.

I’ve been unable to ride for about a week because Amber was sore. Her right front shoe seemed to be a bit off, so as her foot was growing she couldn’t break over well and was tripping pretty badly. The farrier was out, trimmed her up nicely and set that shoe a teensy bit further back, and the change was immediate. She was her old self – bucking and playing and feeling much better than she had. Then between wind and work I got about a day of riding, so hopefully we’ll get tons of riding done this 3 day weekend.

So majestic

On a fun note, it’s Memorial Day Weekend! That means sales! And Riding Warehouse is having a big one – 20% off site wide. That’s right! English, Western, Endurance, apparel, boots – you name it, RW has it. Like these gorgeous Ovation Aqua X breeches that are just the perfect wicking material for the hot summers we get.

The sale also includes great things such as Ariat Sunstopper shirts and $40 Amigo Fly boots that will be great for any budget with that 20% off sale. They also have an assortment of very colorful helmets if anyone is in the market: like these fun $45 Troxel helmets.

Unfortunately, I myself couldn’t resist…. Got one thing I’m eager to try. So far I have loved my colorful, super light composite stirrups, but the balls of my feet have been aching again recently so I’m going to try these composite wider based ones. Super affordable with that 20% off.

 

And this other piece, an ECP XC pad with insertable foam panels I did not need whatsoever yet. For like, a year. Le sigh. I should really put this money towards…oh, I dunno…the protective vest I don’t even have yet?!

Either way, make use of a great sale! RW also allows returns up to a year! Happy shopping!

Rolex 2017: Stadium

I got there about halfway through the jog up, and paused to watch Clark Montgomery lunging Loughen Glen in one of the arenas. It was really cool to watch them. Since I had never seen a jog up before, it was great to see all the outfits and how beautiful the horses looked. Everyone laughed at Maxime’s horse. He was trotting away and nearly pulling Maxime along like “Let’s get on with it!” Then Boyd Martin appeared very close to where I was standing and was playing with what I believe was his son. A girl came over and met him, and once she left I heard one of the ladies talking to him say that he’d probably made her whole trip. And he probably had. And I just kept my head down, not looking at him and trying to be invisible.

Chicken, remember?

After that was done, I headed down to a booth that I’d seen that did engraved plates. I had asked them before and they did plates for halters other than their own – which was really convenient. While you could tell their halters had better quality leather than the one I bought (more on my haul later), they were of course more expensive. At the moment I couldn’t pay that much for a halter after all the other things I’d bought, so I stuck with getting plates.

The girls and I went to do the horseback tour of the park, but because of all the cars coming in for stadium and just how busy it was, they were cancelling the rides. So we walked around and chatted for a bit, went in to the official RK3DE booth and bought (more) stuff.

We proceeded to the stadium, got lunch and mimosas (of course) and got hit by a very sudden but quick rain shower. It cooled things off, thankfully, and we headed to our seats to watch stadium start. I really liked the opening ceremonies, and I’m really not one for ceremonies. I loved that they’d gotten pony club girls as the flag bearers. It was so fun to see them and I’m sure they were thrilled and proud to be there.

The first one out was from Australia. None of the riders accompanied her, but I think perhaps it was because they were going at the start? I can’t quite remember.

The next one was for Canada, and the Canadian riders followed her. I was really glad to see 3 riders from Canada here this year.

Next came the French flag and Maxime Livio. I’m pretty sure he got some of the largest applause out of everyone that walked out.

Next out was Zara Tindall for Great Britian. She got some loud applause as well, and it was really great to be able to see her (and other riders, of course) up close.

After that was none other than Michael Jung from Germany. I’m pretty sure he got the loudest applause out of everyone, and why not? He was the overnight leader for cross country, and wouldn’t it be great if he could win Rolex a third time on the SAME horse?

Ireland came after that, and the guys were a little far away to take a great picture, but it was funny since they both started goofing around passing the stands.

Next was the Mexican flag for Daniela Moguel. She didn’t accompany the rider either, but it was really good to see so many other countries competing here.

The New Zealanders came after that, waving and smiling and looking like they were having a great time.

And last but certainly not least, came the American contingent. So many people were cheering and waving; it was awesome to see so much excitement for everyone.

Once that was done, Dan from Double Dan Horsemanship came out and did a routine – all bridleless and bareback with even a mini thrown in there! Unfortunately, no pictures of that, but I wanted to watch it more than take snapshots. One of the horses brought out really enjoyed seeing the sights and crowds and jumps and galloped around until they finally decided to join the action. I noticed it was the only mare in the lineup, and I snorted and laughed. She was like OMG LOOK AT EVERYTHING I MUST GO AND SEE and then when they went to subtly catch her, she looked like Fine, fine, I’m ready; I’ll join. And that’s one of the reasons why mares are my favorites. I just love their personalities. Most of them, any way.

Next came the retirement ceremony for Ballynoe Castle. He looked great, full of himself, and eager to go out there and jump. It was great to see so many people surrounding him. Plus, I think he had a great time looking at his reflection in that beautiful silver plate.

I is gorgeous

After that, stadium was underway! There were no clears for a while, but most of the horses looked eager and ready to go tackle the course.

Lillian Heard and Share Option
Madeline Backus and PS Ariana; I just love this mare’s game face
PS Ariana
Will Faudree and Pfun; the first clear round of the day

Then things really started heating up when we got to the top of the leaderboard. Zara Tindell 3rd, Maxime Livio 2nd, and Michael Jung 1st. Michael could afford 1 but not 2 poles. Maxime couldn’t afford a pole to stay ahead of Zara. Clear round for Zara and High Kingdom and everyone cheered.

She put the pressure on for Maxime, but he and Qalao de Mers answered it with a clear round of their own.

For those of you who can’t get enough of Maxime

Rocana can have the occasional pole, so the tension in the ring was palpable. We were all (I’m sure) hoping Michi would be able to win it again and make history. And he proved he could! One pole down but it was enough to clinch the win!

I love this mare; look at her jump!

A standing ovation greeted him after his lap around the arena, and I packed up my stuff and headed out to grab my newly plated halter. Like I said, I’m not one for ceremonies. It’s on my list of things I can live without. But my halter looked gorgeous, and while we hoped a tour may still be on for the park, it was a no go. So the girls and I made plans to meet up for dinner.

We picked a local restaurant, and it was definitely good good food. And the coconut cream pie afterwards hit the spot. Come Monday it was time to leave, and I suddenly realized it had all passed much too quickly. Oh well. It left me pumped to start doing things with Amber, that’s for sure.

Rolex 2017: Cross Country

My legs were on fire when I stepped out of bed. Not only had I walked far more than I did at home, but walking on all the asphalt and concrete in only sneakers was apparently not a good mix. I was so slow, but the two girls I’d met the previous day were absolute champs in slowing down for me so I could keep up with them walking the course before it all started. I met up with them at the head of the lake, then walked all the way to the finish with them.

We ended up somewhere near the back of the stables since that’s where the start/end point was, and it was aaaaaaaaall uphill to try to make it back to the course much less the Hollow.

So. Far. Away.

Thankfully, one of the golf cart drivers took pity on the three of us. He drove the two girls to the paddocks to watch the TB presentation and he took me a ways further before I started my trek to the Hollow. I got there just in time to place my towel and sit my ass down for some much needed leg rest. Got my camera out, my food, and then we all proceeded to be quite confused when it was 9:35/9:40 and no horses had shown up yet. A few of us, myself included, grabbed the live stream and loaded it on our phones so we could watch the combinations as they came to the Hollow and then proceed to take pictures.

It was absolutely amazing watching them go. Most were huge horses and powerful, and it was just awe-inspiring. I got to see Maxime run by; his horse is a huge, giant-strided monster. I mean wow.

Maxime

Soon after the girls met up with me, and we watched a few more combinations go for about a half hour to an hour, and then we made our way down to see some other jumps.

I thought the day before that I’d park it at one fence to secure a good view, and stay there the entire day. I was actually quite happy that I’d decided to go along with the girls’ plan to mostly walk the course (AGAIN) and watch at various jumps. I got to see more horses and riders, more jumps, and it was all around a great idea for a first time at Rolex.

Phillip Dutton

Clark Montgomery
One of my faves

It was, in my opinion, perfect for my first-ever attendance at a 3 day. The course was tough and it was a bit worrying because the weather had been so hot the day before and was shaping up to be the same, but all the horses seemed in good health after they pulled up. We made our way to the lake where we saw Michi and Zara and a few others around that time frame pop into the water, and it was by far the most populated jump. People were clamoring for spots everywhere.

Michi again
Can’t remember who this was, but we all held our breath until she cleared it!

I was able to squeeze into a pretty good spot to grab some media, but after a few horses, the girls and I were done with crowds and headed over to the Whiskey Barrel table. That thing was giant. A horse in full jump from a run spanned the breadth of the table as you can see with the picture of Tim Price below. It was wider than I am tall – which is 5’5″. Something else that I will never jump over in my life.

Tim Price

 

Phillip Dutton again

There were a few things going on after cross country, but I was done with people for the day was pretty tired by the time the last horse flew by the table that I called it quits. Plus, the table was also the closest jump to my car, and short walk for sore legs was really the only thing on my mind at that time. I really need to get in better shape.

Friday evening I’d been ready to admit that I missed home and would love to go back, but after watching the cross country, I knew that Sunday and consequently leaving on Monday was going to come way too fast. I didn’t want to be home anymore. I wanted to keep watching cross country. I wanted to stay there in Lexington and soak up how green it was, how politely people drove, go visit the TB farms and get more than a passing glance of the babies.

Of course, all events have a last day, and I was determined that while I hadn’t initially found a lot Thursday and Friday, I’d shop one last time and see if there was anything else I could grab.

Rolex 2017: Dressage 1 & 2

What better way to start off a blog than with my trip to Rolex? Granted, it’s…3 weeks late, but better late than never, right?

I didn’t get a picture of the entrance gate because car + police all around the entrance + using phone in car + traffic behind you = not smart; so enjoy this picture of baby geese

Last year, after watching the live feed of Rolex and getting through most of the summer watching the ERM series and Olympics, I decided to cross off one of my bucket list items: going to a top horse event. It’s a bit non-specific for a reason. Tastes change, and I’ve already seen some good, big events – Silver Dollar show and High Roller Reining classic here in Vegas, and the NRHA Futurity in OKC. But Rolex is something completely different. It’s different than just the plain jumper shows, and to be quite honest, the hunter/western pleasure shows are just kind of….boring and quiet after you watch a screaming, yelling round of reining. But Rolex is something else entirely. So, I put away money, I planned, and one dream on my bucket list is now crossed off.

I’m lumping the two dressage days together because it was basically the same thing both days, but they were still exciting. My friend who I really wanted to come with me (she events) couldn’t get the time off of work, so it was just me and myself, which was totally okay.

I flew in Wednesday, got my lodgings at a B & B (worth the ridiculous amount of money btw), and was ready to have a go Thursday morning. It was a relative ghost town on Thursday – me in my naiveté thought “No way! There’s got to be more people that attend this thing!” Let’s just say I was in for a rude awakening on Friday. But more on that later.

When I arrived, I was pretty sure that I would get bored of dressage and not want to stay for the whole thing and go shopping instead. Well, I stayed for the whole thing. And only did a teensy amount of shopping. Mostly as I was walking out and caught the secondary Rolex booth. But Thursday was a really quiet day, and it was nice to sit and watch all the combinations ride. I was really interested in how each of them rode the pattern and their cues and just watching what they were doing. I’m a huge watcher. Tell it to me once, then let me watch it and I will pick it apart for hours to see everything that’s going on.

I didn’t get to see many shops Thursday, so I was excited to return and shop Friday.

Friday was hell. I’m not a crowds person. And there were crowds and crowds and crowds. On top of that I totally embarrassed myself because I didn’t hear the loudspeaker about people not entering when the horses were performing cause the crowds… Yeah, let’s just say I don’t want to relive that. I shopped a lot on Friday and watched only the second sessions of each block. I mean, what if all the stuff was gone?! There’s so many people to buy it all up!

Not to mention, when I did watch dressage, I was smooshed between people. Personal space bubble officially invaded. This happened in stadium, too, but it wasn’t as bad. Probably because the people sitting next to me were nicer. I digress.

The people I was sitting near were talking to me, and I said that my horse and I were just starting to event, haven’t quite gotten there yet (yeah, not even jumping). No kidding the lady just gave me this look like “Well, then why are you even here?” And I really just wanted to shout “Well, you’re like…70! Based on what you told me, you don’t event either, so why are you here?!”

About half of the people I talked to said “You go girl for coming here; go get ‘em when you start eventing” and the other half said “Why are you even here if you don’t event yet; and you ride western, ew”. By the end I was just laughing. It reminded me why I’d stopped riding English so long ago – too much snobbery. It was funny though – the teens were snobby and harsh, the people about 55 and up gave me snobby faces but kept their mouths shut. The ages in between were sweet and kind and encouraging. Interesting.

Okay, sorry. Inconsequential stuff over. On to dressage.

I got to watch the top 3 scores: Kim Severson, Michael Jung and Clark Montgomery. After watching dressage all day Thursday and seeing how the judges had been judging those scores, it was really something to see those top rides. All the top 10 horses were just brilliant. It was really lovely to see.

Clark and Glen
guys, it’s Michi. MICHI

I suppose there’s really not too much to say – except for the fact that they debuted a new test. Personally, after watching all those counter canter serpentine loops in the ERM series, the stretchy circle, the eradication of those dreaded serpentines and the flow of the pattern was a breath of fresh air. I felt that all of those horses benefited from that pattern. There were quite a few that were still tense from beginning to end, but I think it really helped a lot of them relax.

I was mostly rooting for two people specifically, and one group: Lillian Heard and Share Option and Madeline Backus and PS Ariana as well as the whole group of rider/horse combinations that were competing in their very first Rolex. I wanted them all to do well. I didn’t expect them to win, but to be competitive enough – top 20 I’d say.

Lillian had really impressed me last year with her stadium round, really trusting Share Option through the last combination that many riders had down. They’d had a clear round and moved up the board, so I was hoping she’d do well this year.

Eventing Nation had done a “Who Jumped it Best” picture contest, and that was the first I’d seen of Madeline. Just the expression on Ariana’s face as she flew over that B element in the water endeared that little powerhouse to me, so I was super excited to see them and root for them at such a big event.

Both ladies did a respectable test, so I was happy. Plus, they had true jumping horses, because it wasn’t a dressage test.

Lillian Heard and Share Option
she’s smiling so big in this pic! I would be too!

However, it WAS the last dressage test for Arthur. The test was beautiful, and everyone stood up and cheered at the end.

I stayed just as long as it took me to pack up my camera things, and booked it over to the head of the lake for the Smartpak walkthrough with Boyd Martin and Ryan Wood. It was very informative. While I will not be cross country jumping obstacles this large, it was really great to hear how they would ride the lines. For some jumps, it was the same for both horses. For other combinations, there was a plan for two strides, or it’d be different how angled they’d approach it, and all that.

At some point, I found myself pretty close to Boyd before the rest of the giant mass of people caught up. I had missed some signings by that point – didn’t have anything for them to sign, mostly. I’d packed it all in my rental. So, some younger girls were holding out their hats to Boyd to sign, and right at that moment, I thought “What the hell; I’m doing it.” Because if I let myself deliberate or think about it or wait I wouldn’t do it. Because I get chicken when it comes to things like autographs or talking to “cool” people. So, with no other autographs, I took off my hat, and gave it to Boyd to sign.

I still feel bad for the guy. It was like 80 with ungodly levels of humidity for the dry-climate person, so I was completely out of breath and sweating buckets. My poor hat was absolutely gross. And it was white. So stains really showed. But, credit to the guy because despite the look on his face, he signed it anyway. Which means I will never ever talk to him or show my face to him in my lifetime because remember – chicken. I’m less embarrassed about it now, so I laugh more, but still, poor guy.

After that I puttered around the course for a bit, looking at jumps and came to one where two girls were standing. We ended up talking for quite a bit, and it was nice because they hadn’t ever evented either. It was refreshing talking to them, and we seemed to hit it off pretty well. So, we agreed to meet up for cross country the next day.

I was absolutely beat by the time I got back to the B&B. I’d done so much walking that my hips were beginning to cramp up and any weight I put on them stung like a mf. But, soon I was out like a light because tomorrow – cross country!

For now, though, here are my favorite “just at the right moment” photos.

Well, at least the judges can’t say Ballylaffin Bracken’s lead change lacked expression
Wheee lead change

…and lots of expression here, too

About Me

Hi everyone! This blog originated out of my desire to review horse products. I don’t have tons of money, so I’ve always tried to find reviews on products and do good research on what’s the best. Some things have reviews, but many many others don’t. So I wanted to write a blog with as many reviews as possible for people who don’t have a lot of money, but would like quality products – English or Western, for a good price. It has since morphed into a desire to document my (struggles, goofiness and bumpy) entrance into the world of eventing.

As of this post I am 26, and am lucky enough that my mom and I have our two horses on our own property. It’s absolutely wonderful to have them so close, and we love being able to be in charge of all of their meals and care. As for my experiences, I’ve ridden everything from hunters to pleasure horses to reiners and jumpers and ranch horses helping to brand calves, but have been riding western for the past 10+ years. That included a 2 year job as an assistant reining trainer before making my way back to Vegas to continue being an adult amateur. I love learning about many different disciplines, and at some point I’d like to dabble in a bit of cutting, some more dressage (a must in eventing but I find it fascinating lol), reined cowhorse, and really anything horsey. I never want to stop learning and believe that every discipline has good aspects of horse training that can help you get a really well-rounded horse.

My little red QH girl is currently 7, and has been with me since she was a long yearling. She is absolutely my once in a lifetime heart horse. I seriously have never been able to interact with horses the way I have with her. I swear she speaks – with her eyes and ears and expressions, of course – but she has such life and personality and love that many times I can’t imagine having the room in my heart to fit another horse in there. She is my whole life and makes my life absolutely whole.

The other horse you’ll sometimes see in pictures is my mom’s QH mare Whisper. She is half mine on paper in case something happens to my mom, but she’s really all my mom’s. She’s bonded with her, and I am so thankful because that mare really takes care of my mom. You’ll also see a sweet, old mini dachshund named Choco floating around here and there.

Amber and I have started out doing reining and pleasure, but have since decided to try out lower level eventing. It’s going to be something completely new for the both of us since neither of us have ever done dressage, she hasn’t jumped and I haven’t in years, and we’ve never been cross country. But, it’s going to be an awesome journey with my best girl.

For some fun memories of the lesson horses in my life:

First lesson pony Lacey

 

My second lesson pony Tina; my smile says it all

 

Lesson pony Air Myles

 

My mom’s horse Whisper. While not a lesson horse, she sure taught me a lot and continues to teach me the importance of patience, kindness, understanding, and an open mind ❤

 

Jellybean

This post (and this whole blog) is dedicated to my fat-n-happy, chunker, tank, trouble-maker, cuts-herself-up-all-the-time, can’t-get-along-too-well-with-others, orange sorrel mare Amber – a.k.a. Jellybean. She is 88.85% Foundation Quarter Horse with lineage to Paddys Irish Whiskey and Peptoboonsmal (yes I was a weirdo and calculated it lol).

Quick Stats:

Registered name: Beans Paddy Lena

Nicknames: Amber and Jellybean for every day; Stupid, Mare and Missy when she’s being stubborn; Baby girl, Honey, Sweet Pea when I’m feeling particularly happy; Hankie’s Tankie (dam’s name is Mylanta’s Hankie) and Hippopotamus and Hippopotamoose’s Caboose when she’s very muscled (ie fat lol)

Breed: Quarter Horse

Born: April 2010

Favorite things: Scratches (with legit anything), apples/apple treats, alfalfa, trails, being with people, being out riding (she really does love work), going on long hacks, bagpipes, mangoes and mango popsicles and attention

Dislikes: Dusk (not joking), applause (no seriously, she hates it), grippy neoprene (will crow hop if saddle pad or girth is made of such material), and me riding other horses (seriously, she pins her ears at them)

And yet, she’s just the cutest ❤

As for our story, this may be a little long of an explanation for a lot of people, but it’s such a crazy and amazing story of how I got her that I feel I have to tell it in its entirety.

Just a teensy bit of back-story – as part of the Equine Science degree at Colorado State, there is a colt training class you can take. It involves many ranches – including ones such as Singleton Ranch, Burnett Ranches, Purina and others – consigning a horse(s), be they two or three-year-olds, to CSU for a student to train. That student halter breaks, rides for the first time, and trains this horse over the course of two semesters until the horse is sold in the Legends of Ranching Sale in late April.

So in my junior year I was finally able to take the class. The teacher assigned us our horses, and I get Beans Paddy Lena. When I first saw her I remember thinking – she’s a pony! And immediately, I noticed she was scabby and honestly looked a bit homeless lol. And she was so tiny! I was sure I would be way too big on her. But she was quite sweet and chill for a baby.

Yup, homeless and tiny

In first working with her I noticed she wanted nothing to do with me and everything to do with her friend that came from the same ranch. That first semester was definitely a lot of work for the both of us, learning each other since I knew nothing about breaking a horse and she knew nothing beyond haltering. But, it’s safe to say that I did not like her, and she wasn’t very fond of me.

Dis trot tho….

When I came back from Christmas break and drove out to see her I was shocked. She’d lost her gangly self and had filled out. Granted, she wasn’t quite two yet, so she had a lot of growing to do, but still. And oddly enough she actually seemed happy to see me after break. It had done her good, and she felt a little more mature. I’d only ridden her 3-4 times before break, but she was really great for the whole of the spring semester. We had our arguments, but they were very few, and she was an absolute champ about it all. Then it was time for the student competition before the sale a week later.

Pretty 2 yr old. And ooooo what is this thing that’s in front of my nose?

We entered the riding phase, and that was when I seriously fell in love with her. I was extremely proud of her – she had tried her little heart out and listened to everything I asked of her. Turns out, that day was also her two-year-old birthday. Despite that, we won third against 30+ other horses, most of which were three-year-olds. She was the only two-year-old in the top ten. We ended up seventh overall, which was just fantastic.

After that, I couldn’t really imagine letting her go. She was super chill, relaxed, but she was always ready to go when you asked and would try her heart out. I loved that about her, and she started looking for me when I walked in. I knew after that competition that if I didn’t try to buy her, I would regret it for the rest of my life. My parents were coming for the sale, so in the remaining week, I contacted people, got pricing, and realized I could feasibly keep her. Since I was the one taking her through the sale ring, I couldn’t bid. But my dad could.

Amber was amazing in the preview before the sale, and I knew I had to do everything I could for this horse. I told my dad what my price point for her was, so if the bidding went over that, I knew I wasn’t getting her, and I knew that someone really wanted her and would take care of her.

I was a blithering bundle of nerves and she kept looking at me like “what’s your problem, ma?”. It didn’t help that sale day she kept nickering for me whenever I’d walk by. She’d never done that before; she’s not a talker unless grain is involved, and even then it’s only occasionally. I tried to showcase her as best as I could, because maybe this little girl had a great owner in the future, better than me, and I didn’t want to short her on that. She meant too much to me for me to show at anything less than her potential. So I walked in there and the price climbed, and then it went over my threshold. I desperately hoped whoever had gotten her was going to love her and do her justice.

I managed to keep it together for the rest of the day, and the new owners came by to see her. She was put off by all the attention, but we ended up talking for a bit and they found out my dad had been trying to bid on her for me. They seemed apologetic, but they had bought her fair and square, and it was nice to know that they had a full sister of hers and wanted another one.

She shipped out the next day, and someone managed to get to me that the people who had taken her had left me a message at the office. I rushed over, hoping she hadn’t torn herself to bits or broken a leg or something like that and found a sticky with a few numbers. After calling all of the numbers, only one worked, and when I asked if everything had gone okay with her pick up and if she was fine, they told me it had gone golden and they were going back to their ranch. So, we hung up, and I thought it was odd, but maybe random that they had left the numbers. Either way, I put it from my mind, and went back home to study for my next tests and finals.

It really hit me about a week and half later that I didn’t have her, and I wouldn’t ever. I had never been this attached to a horse before, but accepted that she wouldn’t be mine and kept going through finals.

A few days later, on a Saturday morning when I had nothing to do, I answered the phone thinking it was my mom. It was my dad. We chatted about how I was doing, then he said, “So, I made a call.” And I immediately broke into tears. I knew exactly who he had called and what he had called about when he told me that. I really don’t remember the rest of the conversation, just that there had been a lot of confusion. When I had called those numbers left for me, they were going to ask me if I still wanted her and sell her back to me. But either the guy that picked up hadn’t known about it or whatnot, and I lost the sticky with the numbers. They had tried to get in touch with me in the following two weeks, to no avail. So my dad, knowing how much I had loved that little mare, called them up asking if they would possibly reconsider and sell her to us. They immediately told him they’d been trying to get a hold of me to sell her back. How crazy is that?

Probably about our 10th ride

I had to call them and make sure they weren’t just feeling bad for buying a horse from a girl who had wanted to bid on her. But the more I talked to them, the more they stressed they really just felt it was the right thing to do to sell her back to me. So of course I’m balling saying “of course I still want her!!” and off my parents and I go to grab her. When I got there and she saw me walking towards her, she moved around in her stall a lot, looking at me like “Where have you been the past two weeks?!!” I was so teary eyed, and every time I moved she tried to follow me in that stall.

We got her all loaded after a tour of the ranch and headed home. I stayed in CO and had her in one of the pastures in back of the house, and that was wonderful. I also learned she was a wonderfully injury-prone horse. She’d just walk under trees, and even if a sharp branch split the skin, she didn’t care. She’s still got scars in random places that I have no idea how she got them. But she was only two, and I would probably never do this with any other two-year-old, but I just hopped on her bareback and we went swimming. I’d never been on her bareback before that. Yes, I know stupid. Not to mention I only had on shorts and flip flops. Again, double stupid. So probably don’t do that on a 2 yr old haha. But there were irrigation ponds near the house, so one of my roommates and I took our horses down there to swim. It was so funny because the five-year-old Thoroughbred who’d been on those trails a lot was jigging more than the two-year-old Quarter Horse who’d never been on a trail ride in her life. But that’s Amber, really. She takes everything in stride.

First time bareback
Second time swimming

Then in August, she got out of her pen around 10:30 pm. I still cannot figure out how she did it. But she got onto not a main road but still a popular one, and almost got run over by two cars. A guy had blocked our driveway with his car and come to grab someone who was awake in the house to let them know the horse got out. I ran out to see, and sure enough it was Amber. And she was three-legged-lame.

I got pretty good at these

It took about a week before vets actually figured out what was wrong with her because the swelling in her right knee was so bad. It turned out that she’d gotten near a dozen bone chips in the back of her knee. I also hadn’t realized that she’d damaged a good chunk of her suspensory ligament as well, but it’d shown signs of healing already. The CSU vet clinic took amazing care of her during her surgery, and I am forever grateful to them. Unfortunately, their prognosis wasn’t good. They told me she would only be a pasture pet and wouldn’t be truly sound again.

I was very afraid to accept that answer. I had just gotten this little mare, she was in my care, and I desperately wanted her to be okay and happy. My dad and mom helped me build her a stall for her stall rest, and I had four months before the vets checked her to make it happen. About three months in, I had her walking around me on a long lead rope when she just exploded. She took off running and was galloping around and around and around me and I was desperately trying to get her to stop. Poor thing hadn’t done more than walk for three months so I understood but she was pretty much giving me a heart attack at that point. But miracle of miracles, when she finally came back to a trot, I checked her and watched her and there was no heat and no lameness on that leg. I checked obsessively the next day – no heat and no lameness. So, I stuck her on a regimen of mostly walking and timed trotting. By the time we got to our four month check up, the vets were smiling and laughing and telling me they hadn’t ever seen a horse recover from this type of injury like Amber had.

Graduation came, and I got a job, and she went home for a year with my mom while I worked in Texas. When I was able to bring her to Texas with me, she and I learned a lot there, especially when I took her to a good lameness vet just to check out her hocks because something just felt a little…off about her when we’d practice our sliding stops. After x-rays, he surmised that she’d injured her hocks at the same time she’d injured her right knee, but because the knee was the prominent issue, that got fixed and we never looked at her hocks. Which is completely true. So that pushed out my reining dreams with her, but that was alright. It was nice to know why she felt not-quite-right when I’d ask her to slide. And despite the reining dreams being gone, there were some wonderful people that really helped us get better as a pair before we left for home.

Just love this face ❤

Since then we’ve been in Vegas, showing in local shows as all around and now beginning to focus a lot more on eventing – transferring her reining knowledge to dressage and introducing jumps. She’s my little miracle pony. She was not supposed to be sound enough for even flat riding, yet she and I have been able to do all sorts of things in the 6 years since her injury. I’m grateful she was able to overcome that and that we have been able to do more things than I’d ever thought possible. Unfortunately, in November of 2017 she wrenched her stifle. There were a lot of setbacks before getting arthroscopic surgery, such as tooth pulling and abscesses, and due to everything being prolonged she sadly developed laminitis. We only caught it at the end of July 2018 when she wasn’t healing as well from her stifle surgery as we’d been expecting. Poor girl had hid her pain for a long time, and it was unfortunately very progressed. This little mare is my heart and soul, so now she gets to have an early retirement, a lot of rest, sadly NOT all the food she can eat haha, but certainly all the love and attention she could want for as long as I get to have her.

A year and a half vs 6 yrs old ❤