Monday, March 30, 2015

Picking a Partner

How do you select a horse to be your partner?

About 1 year after I adopted Bohemian, I started to make some decisions about future horses I would have years down the road.

For example, I decided that my next horse would already be trained in eventing, jumping, or dressage. As much as I love Bohemian and wish that it worked out for us, there is a valid case against OTTBs (by SprinklerBandit, one of my fav bloggers). OTTBs are not green horses - most have excellent training - but learning a new job can be challenging at times, and there's no guarantee they'll end up being suitable for you or what you want to do.

At this point in my horsey life, I am looking to find the right partner. So how do I do that? By having a clear idea of the qualities I'm looking for, and deciding what is non-negotiable and what is a preference.

Here's the list of considerations I've come up with - do you have any others to suggest?
  • Age
  • Height & Conformation
  • Attractiveness
  • Price & Purchase Terms 
  • Breed & Breeding
  • Temperament & Personality
  • Level of Training & Experience in Chosen Discipline
  • Show/Competition Experience & Record
  • Goals (what you want to do, and when you want to do it)
  • Health, Soundness, Injuries & Vet-Check
  • Vices, Feed, Stable Management/Lifestyle concerns
  • Name
  • Evaluation Ride (by self, friend, or trainer)
  • Registered with breed or discipline associations
  • Reputation or referral by friends or trainers
  • Je ne sais quois? aka X-factor

Hannah is a lovely mare and so far everything is going great, but nothing is official at this point and I'm committed to finding the right partner, whether or not it is her.  Thank you in advance for comments and suggestions!!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Introducing Hannah

Hannah is a sweet 14 year old TBxDutch WB mare who has come into my life with uncanny timing. She is coming back into work following an injury, so right now we are taking it slow, getting to know each other. She isn't mine at this point, but so far we are both enjoying each other's company. 

Her owner has had Hannah since birth. In fact, she owned her dam for many years and bred Hannah. Small world - turns out she was foaled at the property I now have her boarded at. 

She has been brought up as a hunter, and for years has been in training with a well-known A-circuit hunter trainer in Moorpark. She's done a number of shows and clinics, and the owner and former groom were sure to tell me about how great she is with banks and trail rides, and how much dressage she knows (way more than me, it turns out) since I'm an eventer. 

So far she has shown to be completely quiet and sensible. She has been a pleasure to work with. She is a super snuggle-bug and a cookie queen.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Eventing Explained: CIC, CCI, and stars**** (International Competition Levels)

Stars, CIC, and CCI, oh my! 

Today we'll go over the international competition levels of eventing. As compared to US Eventing Association recognized levels, these competition levels follow international rules governed by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI).

CIC and CCI are types of competitions. The chief difference between CIC/Short Format and CCI/Long Format is that CCI has a significantly longer cross country course. Historically, CCI/Long Format included 2 additional phases: Steeplechase, and Roads and Tracks. Those phases were removed in 2004.

The stars (***) indicate the level of competition. Generally one-star is equivalent to Preliminary, two-stars equivalent to Intermediate, and three-stars equivalent to Advanced. Four-star competitions have no equal - they are the absolute highest level of eventing competition in the world.

CIC: Concours International Combiné
This is the FEI Short Format Competition and runs at one-star, two-star, and three-star levels. The competition may take place over one or more days. Dressage must come first but the jumping phases can go in either order.  The cross country course is shorter than in CCI/Long Format.

CCI: Concours Complet International
This is the FEI Long Format Competition that runs one-star through four-star levels. Competition takes place over 3 or more days. Dressage is first, followed by cross country, followed by stadium jumping.  "The Cross Country course will be of such a length that the Horse is required to be supremely fit and stamina will be required for success" (FEI Rulebook Section 502.1.2).

Both types of competitions use the same dressage tests for each level. The tests are more complex than the USEA counterpart levels, and require 2 judges instead of 1. Vet inspections (jogs) are required at both types of competition.

All levels have minimum eligibility requirements (MERs) for horse and rider teams that include performance standards for each phase of competition that must be reached at competitions within the past year.

CCI*** jump judging at Galway Downs

Let's take a closer look at the Advanced/3-Star level:

Cross Country Comparison
FEI Short Format
FEI Long Format
Max distance 3990 meters 3990 meters 6270 meters
Max # of efforts 40 35 40
Max speed 570 meters/min 570 meters/min 570 meters/min
Max time 7 minutes 7 minutes 11 minutes
Max height fixed 3'11" 1.2 m (3'11") 1.2 m (3'11")
Max height brush 4'7" 1.4 m (4'7") 1.4 m (4'7")
Max drop 6'7" 2 m (6'7") 2 m (6'7")
Stadium Jumping Comparison
Identical for all 3:
Max efforts 15
Max height 1.25 m (4'1")
Max distance 600m
Max speed 375 meters/minute
Dressage Comparison
One judge
Same FEI tests for CIC & CCI
Very hard
Two judges

Advanced and CIC*** have just 1 difference in XC: the max # of efforts. Meanwhile the CCI*** has a 57% increase in course distance. All 3 have identical stadium jumping, and my anecdotal understanding is that the FEI dressage tests are more challenging than the USEA tests, but my personal understanding of dressage is not developed enough to be able to review, confirm, and explain this.

Again, the only 4-star competitions are available in CCI/Long Format, with an even longer and more challenging XC course than 3-star.

Comments and questions welcomed!!

FEI Rules
Stuart Horse Trials Eventing Handbook

Previous Eventing Explained Posts:

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Love these ears

Last weekend I finally had the confidence to ride Hemie by myself without trainer supervision. I had a barn friend around and wore all my safety gear, just in case. But it went perfectly. I spent the rides focusing on my position and just having fun, and Hemie felt relaxed and happy. It was really great to be on his back again.

Then on Monday, he left for a trial period. This was the opportunity that was too timely to ignore - a potential new partnership with a more advanced rider better equipped to handle his challenges and help him reach his fullest potential. I've only gotten a brief update that so far its going well. There isn't a specific time-frame for the trial, so we'll just see how it pans out. I look forward to hearing more back soon.

Loading him on the trailer was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I guess I wasn't really ready for it. I miss him so much. Part of me wants it to work out with the new rider, but part of me just wants him back.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Eventing Explained: Scoring

This post series goes over various aspects of the sport of Eventing. I hope to cover everything from the basics to the finer points, and help distinguish between rules and traditions. 
If you have a specific topic you'd like me to cover, please leave a comment or email me!

Post Edit/Clarification: This is for USEA competitions.

Eventing competitions are scored with penalty points. The competitor with the lowest combined score from dressage, cross country, and stadium jumping wins the division.

Just like in USDF dressage competitions, the judge fills out score cards using a positive points system. Each movement has a maximum 10 points, and you want a high number for each movement. The total is converted to a percentage and then subtracted from 100 to get your score in penalty points.

Example. BN Test A has 14 movements (one with a x2 coefficient) and 4 collective marks, for a total of 190 points. If a rider earned 7 (out of 10) for every movement, they'd have 133 points out of 190.
133 / 190 = 0.7 = 70%
100 - 70 = 30
This person's dressage score is 30 points.

Cross Country
Penalty points on cross country are acquired through jump faults and time faults.  Jump faults come from disobediences at an obstacle (run-outs, refusals, and circling), rider falls, and willful delay.

For disobediences, the scoring is as follows:
  1. First refusal, run-out, or circle: 20 penalty points.
  2. Second disobedience at the same obstacle: 40 penalty points.
  3. Third disobedience at the same obstacle: elimination.
For BN through Training levels, you can have a total of 3 disobediences throughout the entire course and finish with a score; the 4th disobedience is elimination. For Preliminary and above, you can have a total of 2 disobediences throughout the course; the 3rd is elimination.

Rider Falls are permitted in BN and N levels only, and result in 65 penalty points. The rider must land on their feet and remain standing; otherwise they are eliminated.

Willful Delay (BN through Training levels only) comes with 20 penalty points and is when a horse halts, walks, circles, or serpentines between the last fence and the finish line. Note that trotting is permitted between the last fence and the finish flags, and halting, walking, circling, or serpentining is allowed anywhere else on course. 

Time faults result from exceeding the Optimum Time, and come with 0.4 penalty points per second. For BN through Training levels, you can accrue speed faults by going too fast: these are 0.4 penalty points for each second under the Speed Fault Time.

Example. The BN rider has run-out at jump #3, two refusals at jump #6, and a rider fall at jump #10, and comes in 1 minute over the optimum time:
Run-out at jump #3: 20 points
First refusal at jump #6: 20 points
Second refusal at jump #6: 40 points
Rider Fall at jump #10: 65 points
Time faults: 60 seconds x 0.4 points/second = 24 points.
Total cross country score: 169 points.

Total dressage and cross country score: 30 + 169 = 199.

Stadium Jumping
Like XC, stadium jumping has penalty points for jump faults and time faults. Jump faults include knocking an obstacle down while jumping and disobediences (run-outs, refusals, and circling).

  • Knocking down an obstacle while jumping results in 4 penalty points. Note, it doesn't matter if you knock down 1 pole or all the poles at one obstacle (jump) - it's still only 4 points.
  • First disobedience: 4 points.
  • Second disobedience (anywhere on course): 8 points (BN through Training only; Elimination for Prelim and above).
  • Exceeding the time allowed results in 1 penalty point for reach second or fraction of a second.

Example.  The BN rider has 1 refusal at jump #2 and a run-out at jump #6 and comes in 9 seconds over the time allowed:
Refusal at jump #2: 4 points
Run-out at jump #6: 8 points
Time faults: 9 seconds x 1 point/second = 9 points.
Total stadium jumping score:  21 points.

Final score (dressage + cross country + stadium jumping): 30 + 169 + 21 = 220.

Letter Scores
Our example BN rider didn't do so great, but still "ended with a number instead of a letter."  Letters on the final scoring represent the team not completing the competition. Certain types of elimination get their own letter designation for official record-keeping. Letter scores are:

E - Elimination
TE - Technical Elimination (error due to rider mistake such as skipping a jump)
RF - Rider Fall
R - Retirement (competitor retires from the competition while on course).
W - Withdrawal (competitor withdraws from competition before one of the phases).
MR - Mandatory Retirement (horse fall, or horse trapped in jump).
NA (or X) - Not Accepted at a horse inspection (CIC, CCI, and Classic 3-day events only).

Eventing Score Records can be found online at Let's take a look at the recently completed Twin Rivers Winter Horse Trials in Paso Robles, CA:

In this division, the first place rider maintained their lead through the competition. However, only 1 rider was able to finish on their dressage score (by having no jump or time faults in either jumping phase) and she moved up from 9th to 4th.  This division's scoring shows how important each phase is determining final placings.

Detailed Cross Country Results:

You can see here that jumps #4 and #6 caused problems for 2 different riders, and one chose to retire after their 2nd disobedience while the other was eliminated for getting a 3rd disobedience. Interesting to note that rider #34 came in exactly on Optimum Time, whereas rider #26 came in 1 second over time and #23 came in 1 second under time.

Questions and clarifications welcomed!!  Please comment!

USEA/USEF Rulebook
USEA Scoring Guidelines for Eventing

Previous Eventing Explained posts:
Competition Levels

Friday, March 13, 2015

Chiro, More Jumping & the Universe

On Tuesday Hemie had his first chiropractic/acupuncture/acupressure appointment with a highly recommended vet.  It was a shocking experience for me. In fact, I got a little nauseous and had to sit down halfway through the appointment!

He started with palpations all over the body, quite hard. Hemie expressed a lot of grumpiness and it pained me to see him so bothered. The vet explained that these were specific trigger points that indicate issues in other parts of the body. For example, Hemie showed discomfort at a point in his left shoulder which the vet said indicated a problem in his leg. I admit I was skeptical.

Then the vet did manual therapy, including some very solid yanks and shoves (technical terms, I'm sure). He maneuvered and yanked the left knee, and then palpated the shoulder spot again - no negative reaction! I was impressed.

But I must say it was hard to watch. And listen to, with the sound of joints popping left and right! Seriously if he hadn't been (a) a vet, and (b) come highly recommended by people I trust and respect, I would have flipped out and told him to stop. Hemie didn't seem bothered by the therapy though. After the manual therapy the vet did all the palpations again, still quite hard, and Hemie showed no sensitivity at all.

Then the acupuncture was performed along specific points of the body. Hemie showed no discomfort with the needles or the B vitamin injections, and in fact looked pretty relaxed and zoned out within a few minutes. The goal is to stimulate specific healing functions in the body.

Overall it was a very unique experience and I'm interested to see how Hemie feels once he's back in work (the vet gave us recommended rest of days, light work days, etc).

Then I got another jumping lesson on Justin. Happily, I was a much better rider than on Saturday. It helped that we did some courses with short bending lines that forced me to ride in the moment and use instinct and feel. I didn't have time to get nervous and over-think. Justin was a trooper but did have a few bucks in his system. It was a confidence boost to not only get us through some courses, but deal with the minor shenanigans without issue.

The Universe has been moving things into place in regards to Hemie and me. Opportunities have come up for both of us that are too good, and too timely, to ignore. The details are still being worked out but I hope to have some news in the coming week or so. Thank you again for all the positive thoughts sent our way.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

TOABH: Ermahgerd & Fail

The Owls Approve

What is your pony's absolute favorite riding activity? What makes those little ears perk and causes the knees to lift? Let's just focus on the favorites - we'll save the bucks for next week.

Cross country.

Jan 2015 Clinic at Galway Downs

We know what makes Thunderhooves happy, but what does he hate to do? Let's not ignore those times that you have whip out all the tricks or pharmaceuticals for grooming.

He says "buck you" to dressage.

April 2014 FCHP HT

Also go check out A Gift Horse's giveaway!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Over Fences!

On Saturday I got to ride Justin again, and jumped for the first time since the fall.

I was a nervous starting off, but Justin took care of me and we did several jumps at my normal height (2'3" - 2'6"). To be honest, I was less of a rider and more of a passenger, but it was fun and safe and next time I'm sure I'll be a more proactive rider.

Speaking of jumps, here are the photos from the clinic in January.  It's taken me a long time to post because I'm still pretty emotional about everything. But this blog is an honest account of my journey. And even though the clinic didn't go well (and ended horribly), there were some good moments. In fact most of the pictures are surprisingly nice.

Day 1

Deb Rosen and her famous smile!

Note loopy reins

Day 2

Friday, March 6, 2015



Bohemian has been getting ridden by my trainer several days a week. He has been a good boy, in that his resistances are not spiraling into "situations" but instead are getting addressed with consistent riding/training. Luckily he's a very expressive horse so its clear when he's happy or frustrated or sassy. Overall he's had a good workmanlike attitude most rides. I might be taking over some rides on him starting this week, but we will see.

The weather has caused some inconsistent scheduling, with arenas being closed and whatnot. But he's getting out as much as any horse at our barn.


Its been 6 weeks since the fall and my recovery is coming along well. My shoulder has full mobility but is still sore for some movements. The nerve damage in my face and head seems to be on the mend. The scars are healing. I'm finally back to doing weight training and overall life is getting back to the normal routine.

Looking through Justin's ears as my trainer rides Hemie.

Riding other horses has been very good for me. At first, I rode because I knew I needed to: getting back to riding after a major fall and injury is something we all know is important for our brains and bodies. The first few rides were easy walk-trot rides on safe older horses. I re-learned how to breathe and ride at the same time and keep my nerves in check. The rides were pleasant, but I did them more because I knew I should rather than because of a passion to ride.

Handsome Justin face!

Now I'm riding friends' horses that require more actual riding skills. I'm just doing flatwork and hacks around the property, but I've come to remember that I love riding horses. I do have a passion for riding, and while riding *your* horse is more special than riding *a* horse, I am genuinely enjoying the rides on my friends' mounts.

I've decided that I need to make more effort to ride different horses going forward. Its too easy to get overly focused on your horse's progress, but riding others horses adds rider skill and perspective which ultimately benefits any horse you ride. Taking lessons on lesson horses or regularly riding friends' horses is a new goal.

Riding Levi while TK rides Hemie

I've only gotten on Hemie twice. Both times it was fully supervised, after a training ride. No problems, no issues. We can walk-trot-canter at night in the arena he likes to spook most in. I felt safe, and Hemie felt happy.

As I've been thinking on the hard questions, I've stayed committed to the idea of finding the best solution for Hemie. It very possibly isn't me. He's a talented horse with so much potential, but I think he needs a better rider - a professional, or at least a more advanced amateur rider than me. I love him and I'll do my best to take care of him for as long as he is mine, but the universe has been listening and I'm staying open to opportunities.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

FOO Hop: A Day In The Life

From Fly On Over's Day in the Life of a Working Adult Ammy

6:45 am - Wake up, fumble around, get dressed in work slacks and sneakers and workout shirt. Take the dogs for walks(~1.25 miles). Do some dishes, make the bed, tidy the house. Put on work shoes and a blouse and some makeup. Make a smoothie and brew some coffee.

8:10 am - Head to the office, meanwhile drinking smoothie and coffee. Listen to NPR or chat with a girlfriend who has same commute time.

8:30 am - Arrive at the office, refill coffee, and get myself organized for the day.

I have a shovel hanging on the wall at my desk.
Its from a groundbreaking ceremony of a building we constructed in 2012.

9:00 am - Check email, make phone calls, prep for meetings. Chip away at the never-ending, always-increasing to-do list! I do commercial property management and development for a private investment firm, and right now I'm doing annual CAM (common area maintenance) reconciliations.

Somewhere around 12:30 to 1:30 - take a lunch break. Normally go home and eat leftovers, cuddle the dogs, and do a few more dishes.

An hour later - Resume work, remark how true the 80/20 rule is since a few commercial properties take up the majority of my time and energy. Visit a property to do an inspection, meet with a contractor, check in with a tenant, or meet with brokers. Back at the office, take calls from tenants, contractors, etc. Update files, keep checking emails.

Recent property inspection photo.

5:15 pm - Start winding down the work day. Clean off desk and get a little organized for tomorrow. Tell myself I need to leave right at 5:30 to get to the barn at a reasonable hour.

5:29 pm - Get called into a last-minute "quick" meeting with a boss. Try to keep my cool even though I really wanted to leave on time. Oh well.

5:45 pm - Finally wrap up meeting, change into barn clothes, and head to the barn.

6:15/6:30 pm - Arrive at the barn. Be as time-efficient as possible tacking up, prepping bucket, exercising Hemie, etc.

8:00 pm ish - head home.

8:45 pm ish - Arrive home, eat dinner, spend some time with hubby.

9:30 pm ish - Get ready for bed.

I generally go to the barn 4 or 5 days a week, 3 of which are weekdays. 1 weekday is date night with hubby and another is either spent either on volunteer work (I'm in a local young professional volunteer group) or on catching up on budget/homekeeping/etc.

Great blog hop - love to see how others are able to manage horse owning and balance everything else in life!