Thursday, July 30, 2015

All The Fails

A double blog hop entry for your enjoyment today.

First up, 'Fraidy Cat Eventing's creative Panorama Fail

Next, the hilarious Everyday Fail from Zen Baby Horse

I did not have to look back very far to find some fails, haha.

Like our first solid jump together:
Sarah & Hannah - XC Schooling May 2015 1
make animated gifs like this at MakeaGif

"Jesus take the reins!"
Sarah & Hannah - XC Schooling May 2015 2
make animated gifs like this at MakeaGif

Photography fail

photography semi fail

one-rein jumping + all sorts of body fail

Hooray for blogland for not taking ourselves and our hobby too seriously!

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Safety Ultimatum | Let's Discuss

Overall my husband is pretty supportive of the horse hobby. But he has concerns about my safety. Legitimate concerns.

Over a year ago, he asked that I wear both my safety vests whenever jumping, not just XC. And I have, 99% of the time.

Point Two air vest over Tipperary impact vest.

At our hunter show a few weeks ago, I brought my safety vests but decided not to wear them. While I'm not completely up on the rules in hunterland, I understand that "non-traditional" attire and tack counts against you in some classes. Looking around, there were dozens and dozens of riders - and not one had a safety vest of any kind.

I decided to see how I felt in the warm-up and would put on the vests if I felt at all nervous. I felt fine. We warmed up and did 3 jump classes wearing traditional hunt attire and that was that.

Traditional, right? Except for the fleece girl? Close enough?

Hubs didn't make it to that show and was very bothered when he realized I didn't wear the vests. To him, a jump is a jump, and he doesn't know (or care) about hunters vs eventing vs jumpers vs whatever.

So he gave me an ultimatum: I commit to wearing both vests 100% of the time when jumping, or else he will not support the hobby: no more videoing, attending shows, or even chatting about how it went.He wasn't rude or pushy. He was concerned and said he didn't know how else to show me how strongly he feels about this.

Putting myself in his shoes, I'd have similarly strong sentiments about him wearing safety gear when riding motorcycles, for example.

Safety. So hot right now. Safety.

I already made a decision about it, and my trainer and barn-mate also came to the same exact conclusion as I did about it.  I'll wear both vests 100% of the time. We'll stick to jumpers and eventing, but I'll probably pass on hunter shows; I'd be embarrassed to stick out.

But I'm interested in your opinion. Kind of a sensitive subject, since it involves life-partner relationship, but important. How much does your partner's preferences impact your horse decisions? What if they feel very strongly vs. less strongly? What do you think about safety vests in general and what are your reasons for wearing or not wearing them?

Funny note, I'm such a cheapskate that the idea of spending ~$30 on a replacement air canister has been enough for me to somehow get my butt back into in the saddle after some hairy moments!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Riding Update

First of all, thanks to everyone who read my Be Ready Safety Spray review and to Giddyap Girls for hosting the giveaway! Congrats to the randomly selected winners:

On to a riding update. Following our last XC schooling, I was really touched by the encouragement and support for dealing with fear and anxiety. 

Our jumping rides since then have been gymnastics with a focus on my body position and solidifying my lower leg. The height has stayed pretty low (2' - 2'3") which has been A-OK with me. 

I've said goodbye to my old friend, the neck strap. It took a few rides for me to get comfy without it; I used it for pretty much every single jump on Hemie. I no longer need the neck strap to remind me to keep my hands forward. I am releasing better over jumps and carrying my hands higher in general.

Hannah continues to be a doll. She has her sassy moments, but overall I'm impressed with her patience and sense of humor when I get discombobulated or nervous.

The other day I dropped a rein over the first jump of a 5-stride line. I pulled out of the line, but then regretted it. We would have been fine over that 2nd jump even if I couldn't manage to get my rein back in the 5 strides. It was a good feeling, realizing that I trust her to know and do her job.

One-rein jumping.

We are headed to a jumper show this weekend. It will be our 2nd show together and I'm looking forward to it. I'll also be meeting up with Karen from Not So Speedy Dressage who is in my area for a dressage show. Bring on the weekend!

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Sweet Story About Names

When my trainer first told me about Hannah, she used the name Moxie for her mistakenly (turns out Moxie was her dam, a mare my trainer was involved with years back).

When I arrived to meet the mare, she was in the cross-ties getting groomed by an assistant trainer who sweetly called her Hannah Banana. I got a tingling feeling at the back of my neck. Even though at the time I thought I was meeting a horse named Moxie, I knew that this was the right horse and had a very strong feeling that she would become mine. You see, my first horse (and cherished heart-horse) was named Bo and one of my nicknames for him was Bo-Nana Banana.

Now when I or others call her Hannah Banana it's a sweet reminder of my first horse.

Amazingly, this isn't the first time I've had this kind of name deja-vu. I had it with Hemie too. Here's that full story.

When Bo passed away many years ago, a friend told me that my future horses should somehow remind me of Bo. At the time this sounded offensive: no horse could ever remotely replace Bo! But now I love that advice because it's a way to honor his memory. For both the horses I've owned since Bo, I found out their names on the day I met them, and their names tied to him. I've always considered that a special gift from the universe.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

EIC Product Review & Triple Giveaway! Be Ready Safety Spray

A while back I was contacted by Giddyup Girls to try out and review their insect spray: Be Ready Safety Spray.  I've been using it for over 2 months, just as fly season was coming on strong in my area.

What makes Be Ready spray unique is its focus on safety:
  • For the environment:
    • won't harm bees or colonies (or other insects)
    • no DEET, pesticides, or insecticides
  • For the users:
    • safe on skin
    • safe to breathe (though I don't recommend it)
    • okay to use on humans and pets
    • doesn't stain clothes or equipment

Nowhere on the bottle or website is it called a "repellent" but that's what it does. The bugs listed are: bees, wasps, hornets, yellow-jackets, mosquitoes, flies, and gnats. These last 3 are what I deal with on a regular basis, though I do encounter the others on trail rides. It's a clear liquid that's not oily or sticky, and I spray it right over her body and on her splint boots. I apply it to her face using a rag or my palm.

Bug free trail ride = happy pony + happy human

Bottom line: it works great!!  From the moment I spray, bugs leave us alone. I have sprayed this stuff directly onto flies that were chilling on Hannah's legs, and they immediately flew away and didn't return. Hannah appreciates not having to stomp or swish, and it lasts at least 90 minutes (my average pony time). It works best on a groomed horse but works surprisingly well on a dirty, dusty horse too.

Since someone likes to roll in turnout.

However, it has a strong odor. Not a bad one, per se. In fact, others at the barn have said they like the smell. I've been smelling it for months and I still can't decide if I like or dislike the odor. It has a medicinal, herbal quality to it. But it lasts a long time - I can sometimes smell faint traces of it even 24 hours later.

It currently only comes in a small 4-ounce bottle - the kind where you use your index finger to press down and you get a small mist area. I prefer larger bottles with whole-hand squirt levers and a larger spray area; however, the small size makes it convenient for fitting in a pocket, or for using it on yourself or a dog.

Even though it's a small bottle, it is powerful stuff, so I think 2 bottles would last me through bug season, which is comparable to other larger bottles of fly spray. I really like that the bottle is clear and you can see how much liquid is left inside.

The price is only $10.95 per bottle on the Giddyap Girls website, and its starting to hit shelves in more stores and websites. Given how effective it is, this is a great value. Especially if you want to support a product that is environmentally friendly, USDA tested, and works really well.

And now you can try it too. Giddyap Girls is graciously doing a triple giveaway. That's right, 3 winners!! All you have to do is like the Giddyap Girls Facebook page and the Be Ready Safety Spray FB page using the Rafflecopter widget below. You get an extra chance to win by sharing the contest on your blog or other social media.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 13, 2015

XC Schooling #2 - Nerves Galore

On Saturday we did our 2nd cross country schooling, this time at Tugger X Ranch in Moorpark. I started out feeling relaxed and ready for a positive outing. 

Unfortunately no media from XC, but here's a shot of our July 4th dress-up.

We trotted and cantered around, and Hannah was feeling a little lazy but willing. We popped over a few tiny logs. I was feeling okay, but planned on sticking to the intro-sized jumps.

We headed to the water and while Hannah hesitated for ~10 seconds, she did go in without any help from the ground. This was certainly an improvement from our last outing, but at a show I'll school the water before trying to go through any flags.

Then it came time for a mini course: a tiny rounded wooden slat jump to a BN-sized box jump. I've jumped that BN jump before on Hemie, and I knew that Hannah could jump it no problem, but my nerves started to creep in. We got over both okay, but Hannah was behind my leg and I was rather ineffective at getting that corrected. We went around again, and this time I pushed her forward but let her get completely on the forehand and strung out - she politely refused/dodged out of the BN jump.

I knew what I needed to do. I know how to get her in front of my leg. Forward and back. Gallop and collect. Leg to hand.

But I just couldn't. My nerves were getting stronger and even though I knew in my head what to do, I simply couldn't make it happen. 

We came around again, and somehow made it over the BN box, but I was so loose and backwards that I popped way out of the saddle. Miraculously I landed back in the saddle, but it was a very near thing.

From our last jump lesson.

Laurie got on Hannah before I could do any real damage to our trust. She rode her around for quite a bit to her in front of the leg and responsive, and even took her over a few jumps including some Novice jumps. She gave her back to me to cool off while our stablemates did some schooling.

Then we headed to the ditches. For whatever reason all the horses in our group thought they were terrifying and had some major struggles getting over. I got Hannah close a few times, the whole time basically shaking with nerves. Then Hannah tried stepping down into one (they're like 2 feet deep!) so Laurie got on again. 

Laurie gave her the ride that I couldn't, and she got over the ditch. At first with an extra 3' height to spare, then like a normal pony. 

I got back on and we were able to get over it together. Same with the other gals in our group. By that point we were all hot and tired and I was panicked that I was going to majorly screw things up. I simply wasn't riding like I knew I needed to, no matter how much I tried. 

From our last jump lesson.

To end on a more positive note, Laurie had us each go and jump 1 final jump - whatever we wanted. I picked a BN sized log that looked very welcoming, and we had a perfect approach and perfect jump. Phew. 

All in all it was a very short schooling, but I was drained from my own nervous energy. I am still very frustrated and disappointing in how much nerves I had. I thought I would be fine, or at least significantly improved from our first XC.  

Oh well. As Laurie stated, if I spend a year at Intro then I spend a year at Intro. There's no hurry, it takes what it takes. And luckily Hannah has been a very willing partner. Even though she senses my nervousness, she hasn't taken advantage at all, and in fact has impressively helped me out sometimes. Good girl.

Hannah and Lucy - my lovely ladies.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Eventing Explained: USEA Membership

In this series I go over various aspects of the sport of Eventing: everything from the basics to the finer points, including rules and traditions. If you have a specific topic you'd like me to cover, please leave a comment or email me!

Our current topic: Membership in the US Eventing Association (USEA)

There are so many organizations for horse owners and riders to join. From breed associations to local trail riding groups to national and even international bodies. So, here's the scoop on membership in the USEA, the US national organization for the sport of eventing, for both horses and humans.

What is USEA?
The USEA is a registered 501 C(3) non-profit educational organization. They have an office in Leesburg, Virginia, and have about 15 staff members. Led by a governing board of 20 people, they sanction registered competitions and implement a number of educational, safety, and award initiatives as well as development programs. Their mission is to advance the sport of eventing. Find more info at

USEA is a "Recognized International Discipline Association" of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), the national governing body for equestrian sports. The USEA works in conjunction with the USEF to establish and implement policies and rules that govern eventing.

Types of Membership (Human)
  • Full membership - $85 per year (discounts for juniors age 18 or younger, and collegiate riders), grants eligibility to compete at registered events, participate in clinics and other USEA programs, and ability to earn points towards awards, leaderboards, and championships.
  • Life membership - $1,500 one-time payment, same benefits as full membership.
  • Supporting membership - $35 per year. For non-competitors, this is a way to support the organization.
  • Plus there's a magazine, newsletter, decal sticker, discounts at stores, etc. Find more info at
  • You can get a USEA ID number without being a member. This is used for the USEA online portal to do things such as register a horse.

Membership Card

Types of Registration (Horse)
  • Restricted Status - Free, required for TEST and BN levels only. Horses registered this level will not earn any points towards awards, leaderboards, or championships. 
  • Limited Status - $40 one-time fee, required for Novice and Training levels, and Young Event Horse. Needed for BN level in order to earn points towards awards, leaderboards, etc.
  • Full Status - $150 one-time fee, or $100 to upgrade a horse from Limited Status, required to compete at Preliminary level and above. 
  • Future Event Horse Status - $25 one-time fee, for horses age 3 and younger in the Future Event Horse program. 
  • Find more info at

Do I have to join USEA to compete in eventing?
To compete in un-rated competitions, no. How do you know if the competition is USEA sanctioned? Check the premium, contact the organizer, or search the omnibus of USEA-sanctioned events. Certain venues offer only un-rated competitions, and many venues host both un-rated and registered events. 

To compete in registered events at Beginner Novice level, no; the rider does not need to be a member. However, there is a $25 fee per each competition, and you are not eligible for points towards awards, leaderboards, or championships. The horse does need to be registered at least Restricted Status. 

To compete in registered events at Novice level or aboveyes; the rider needs to be a full member and the horse needs Limited Status registration.

Pros & Cons of Membership
Pros: all the membership benefits & perks + the warm-fuzzies from supporting a non-profit dedicated to a sport you enjoy.
Cons: it costs money. 

I am currently a USEA member and plan on continuing membership as long as I plan on doing registered events.  If you have any questions about membership, please comment and I'll do my best to answer, or direct you to an official person at USEA. 

Previous Eventing Explained posts: