Friday, November 28, 2014


Hemie and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday yesterday!

I have so much to be thankful for - my blessings are innumerable!

"If you're lucky enough to own a horse, you're lucky enough!"  --Unknown

Friday, November 21, 2014

Let's Talk Tack: Horsie Dress Up

Courage dressed up as a Budweiser Clydesdale to celebrate the Superbowl
complete with white feathers and bob tail!
Photo (and major creativity) credit to SprinklerBandit 

Hemie dressed up for Racing to Ride's Breast Cancer Awareness contest
Love his enthusiasm!

I love pony dress up - whether they're in costume for Halloween, or decked out to celebrate Christmas, a birthday, a contest entry, or just for fun.  Playing with different tack, colored pads and boots, hair color and hoof polish, are all great ways to rekindle the child-like joy that horses bring to us.

This month I want to know - do you play dress up with your horse?  

Do you play dress up with your horse? free polls

I dress up Hemie a few times a year. And I'll be honest - I dress him up as a princess! Sparkly hooves, sparkly browband, pink pads...he's a good sport about it all.  I've been trying to buy a Santa costume for him each year for the last 3 years but they sell out too quickly!

Last month I asked if you regularly use leg protection on your horse. Here's the results of the survey:

An interesting mix of responses! Thank you to everyone who voted!

Previous Let's Talk Tack posts:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November 10

November's 10 Questions from Viva Carlos!

1. Have you ever owned a horse?   Yes, two.

2. What is your favorite aspect of your discipline?   I love that eventing requires both horse and rider to be well rounded. My favorite phase is cross country.

3. What pet peeves do you have concerning your discipline?  Lack of consistent enforcement of the rules (at least at the shows I've volunteered and competed at).

4. Do you do barn chores?  Not many. Basically just cleaning up after myself and my horse.

5. What is your least favorite barn chore?  Mucking a muddy stall in the rain. 

6. What do you consider the worst vice in a horse?  Stall kicking is pretty annoying.

7. What saddle brand is your favorite?  I don't have a favorite.

8. Do you ride with a quarter sheet in the winter?  No.

9. Does your horse wear boots? What kind?  Generally not, though I have splint boots and brushing boots for XC.

10. Full seat or knee patch breeches?  I have mostly knee patch. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tugger X Ranch XC Schooling

On Saturday we headed over to a local facility for cross country schooling. It was a lovely day and both Hemie and I had a blast. And we have videos yay!

From our first warm-up trot around the field, Hemie felt absolutely electric. He just loves XC and was so happy to be out there.

Our first set of jumps was a rolltop to a hanging log into the water.

Next we went through the water, to an up-bank, over the rolltop, around to a table, then over another log back down into the water.

This next part is where we got into some trouble, with our only refusal of the day at a very bright chevron. After we get over it, we continue onto a rolltop, then back up the hill to a cabin.

Next we worked on some ditches, adding in some jumps.

A few more jumps with the ditches.

We ended the day by working on my bogie: down banks. Hemie has no problem with them, and at this point I'm starting to feel confident about them too.

I was impressed by the number of jumps they had, since their cross country area has been in development for only a year or so. They put in intro jumps just last week!

Overall it was a really fun day. I can't wait to go back there as there were plenty of jumps we didn't do. I'm so blessed to have 3 different cross-country schooling facilities within a 20/25 minute drive of the barn!

Be sure to check out Fly On Over's 2nd Annual Holiday Gift Exchange!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bits and such

To catch up from a busy week!

I started October clocking 3:00 of 2-point and finished the challenge with 5:10. The month seemed to fly by, and next year I want better improvement. Congrats to the extremely impressive winners, and thanks to L. of Viva Carlos and Hillary of Equestrian at Hart for hosting the challenge!

No Stirrup November
I'm in! Every ride this month has included no-stirrup work, though I'm still leaving the leathers on the saddle.

Because someone has the fall friskies!

Playing with Bits
Ever since I got Hemie I've been riding him in an Albacon mixed metal french link eggbutt. It hasn't been a problem, but I do wonder if there isn't something he might like better. Can't know until you try, right? So I'm borrowing friends' bits to experiment. So far I've tried this one:

Stubben golden wings gag

I couldn't tell if he prefers the lozenge/bean to the link, but I did notice the gag action come into play. Next one to try will be a loose ring lozenge without wings and without gag action.

Riding in the dark
It's completely dark by the time I get to the barn after work during the week, and I've noticed my rides have gotten shorter in duration. On the plus side, I've been good about cleaning tack with the "found" time.

We're working on some new skills including trot and canter lengthens. Hemie is enjoying learning new things. Meanwhile I've been focusing on my position to ensure my weight is in the proper place (inside vs outside hip or stirrup), while still focusing on Hemie's shoulder placement to get straightness for better self carriage.

Showtime for Friends
This past weekend I hauled TK and her lovely 4-year old Levi to a local schooling dressage show. This horse hasn't gotten less than a blue ribbon in dressage to date! Judges just adore him.

The fabulous Karen and Speedy of Not-So-Speedy Dressage were also there for their 1st level debut! It was really nice to hang out with her and cheer her on. 

Speedy can really step under himself!

XC Schooling
This weekend we're heading a local facility for some cross country fun. I really hope to bring hubby along for some photos!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 Dressage Scores Recap

This season we did 12 dressage tests at 7 shows. Our goals for dressage changed at each outing, and ranged from "have no shenanigans" to "get work comparable to what we get at home" to "let's really do this and do it well."

We started off the season with a few shows where we put in good-for-us efforts, though the scores weren't very competitive.

Then we had a disastrous dressage in April, and proceeded to have meltdowns at home as we tried to investigate and address the issue. It was scary there for a while, with rearing, bucking, and (most horribly) unevenness in gait.

Does this count as airs above ground?


We spent the rest of the season at local shows, trying to give Hemie (and myself) positive dressage test experiences. We wanted relaxed outings with no craziness. So we completely took the pressure off at these shows. 

It worked. We did not have repeat issues at shows. Slowly over the months, we asked for more effort from Hemie (and better riding from myself) to get better performance. We added the pressure back, bit by bit.

By the end, I feel very good about our dressage, and ready to head back to a registered event.


So let's take a look at the scores, shall we?  First, a handy chart to help people understand the scoring:

Our 2014 dressage test results:

DateLocationTestEventing Score Penalty PointsDressage Score Percentage
Feb 1Galway DownsBN A40.0060.00%
March 16White BirchTraining 138.1261.88%
March 16White BirchTraining 240.7159.29%
April 26Fresno HTBN A51.1048.90%
May 31El SuenoBN A43.9056.10%
May 31El SuenoBN B39.1560.85%
July 19El SuenoBN A40.0060.00%
July 19El SuenoBN B40.0060.00%
Oct 5El SuenoBN A41.5858.42%
Oct 5El SuenoBN B38.7561.25%
Oct 11El SuenoBN A31.0568.95%
Oct 11El SuenoBN B31.0069.00%
Average Score:39.6160.37%
Median Score:40.0060.00%

As with all data, it can't stand alone - it needs to be compared to something to have meaning. So let's compare my median score (40.00 aka 60.00%) against the dressage scores in my level at registered horse trials (available from

  • Shepherd Ranch, August: it would put me 6th out of 8 after dressage.
  • Twin Rivers, September: I'd sit 14th out of 21 after dressage.
  • Fresno County HP, October: I'd sit in 6th out of 11 after dressage.

So, not dead last, but towards the bottom. 

And that's just fine. Because while I like to geek out and crunch the numbers, I acknowledge that they simply can't tell the whole story. I've always been much more focused on positive experience than I have on being competitive. I care most about competing against myself - ie, continually improving. And even when we take steps backwards, I'm able to keep it in perspective and do my best to get us moving in the right direction again. After all, this is a hobby. This is fun. Hemie is a pet first and a sport horse second. 

A highlight of dressage this year has been rooting for Karen of Not-So-Speedy Dressage. We showed together in March, and I've watched her at some other shows. She has grown tremendously as a rider and competitor this past year, on both of her lovely mounts. She is not only a great blogger, but also a kind, intelligent person. She and Speedy ended the season with tremendous back-to-back championship outings, and her journey is truly inspirational!

Karen and I at White Birch in March
Our smiles say it all.

Go checkout the contest at The Owls Approve!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

SMTT Blog Hop: Favorite Noms

Lauren from She Moved To Texas wants to know:

What is your absolute favorite comfort meal? 
 If you want to take a horse spin on things, what’s the best horse show food you've ever had?

I love food. Its hard to pick a favorite comfort meal, but I'm going to go with an In-N-Out cheeseburger with grilled onions and animal-style fries. Animal fries are covered in cheese, grilled onions, and "spread" (thousand island dressing). Pure deliciousness.

For the best horse show food I've ever had, I need to look way in the past, back to my saddleseat days. All of the eventing derbies and horse trials I've been to have been seriously lacking in the food department.  Even the ones that bring in food trucks have been overpriced and disappointing.

But I used to go to Saddlebred saddleseat shows, and a favorite was the California Futurity held at the LA County Fairgrounds in Pomona. It was the same weekend as the LA County Fair, so fair food was horse show food! There was lots to chose from, but the best I had was an absolutely epic taco salad. The best part was the deep fried taco shell, smeared with the beans and sour cream and pico de gallo juices. Words are not doing the memory justice, but oh well. I'll forever have fond memories of adorable Saddlebred yearlings and that epic taco salad.

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