Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fall Haul

Is anyone else really into watching 'haul' videos on Youtube?

Because I freaking love them, and I feel so creepy admitting that because most of the people who have haul videos are like... thirteen. But I love seeing what other people are buying. I love new brands, new sellers. What's the in color? The finest leather goods? Does some euro store have cheap shipping to the States?? Show me. I'm broke and can buy nothing so the voyeurism quells my shopping needs.

In case you like to get involved in the same sort of shenanigans, here's a haul
videopost for you.

Thanks to the now traditional holiday sales post I was able to capitalize on Riding Warehouse's offerings on the cheap.

Oh god I think the stupid bridle is growing on me.

So attractive. The both of us.

I bought Runkle his own Micklem. I've been borrowing my friend's but time's up on my rental, and it is black. Yick. So I bought this one. I got the multibridle purely because the fittings are brass. I can deal with the lunge ring, or I'll get bolt cutters.

And in case you were wondering, the stupid bridle is still beautiful magic for our flatwork. He's looser through his back than ever and while he still gets a little stuck in the poll he has incredible reach when I ask him to stretch. Ugh. Stupid ugly piece of crap.

A cotton leadrope. Riveting.


And besides Riding Warehouse, Tack of the Day had a metric butt ton of Back on Track stuff for sale.

I really want the sheet with the neck attachment but the Micklem has taken the budget for the month so alas, not this time around. BUT they do have the polo wraps on the cheaps. I'm trying them on Runkle's hinds, he's got a weird lump on his ankle. I think it's just an old calcification, and the vet said not to worry as it's superficial but it's horses, so yeah. I've been putting DMSO/cortisone on it with a lot of success, but I think a little bit of heat therapy would help as well. He does also get some fill behind. A thimble full of fill. God I have gone full on crazy mother haven't I?

I got black because I'm lazy and tired of white things. White looks so good but it's so freakin' dirty. White is only for shows. And my cross country boots which I adore but if I could do it again I would get black ones.

Yes that's my car. And yes I'm including it in the haul. Because it got towed last week (for its booty being over that line, can you see???). So I had to pay an exorbitant amount of money to break it out of prison. And then take it to the dealer because the tow truck destroyed my wheel bearings. Excuse me, allegedly destroyed my wheel bearings. >:(

But it's back now so all's well that ends well. Ish.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Blog Hop: Horse Thief

Just so we're clear, the question posed was: If you could steal a horse from any of your friends or barnmates, which one would it be?

If the bold did not apply, you could probably already guess who I would steal...
But since I don't train at Windurra and Boyd Martin isn't my best friend (YET) I'll pick someone else. Hmmmm...

There are a lot of really stupid cute and talented horses at my barn right now.

Hm he looks familiar... @cat.ch_eventing #fairhillinternational by @kieshorse

Wasn't expecting him to have that spring in his jump😂 - - VC: @o.t.t.b_eventing - - * #buddy #bucefalo #bigears #elephant #eventing #eventer #dressage #jumping #xc #crosscountry #love by @cjm_eventing


So you see my dilemma. And this is the people in my barn. It's not even including my friends. Much less acquaintances.


Missy - this bitch was my everything
You haven't lived until you've galloped racing stock QH
But at the end of the day I realized I had to narrow it down eventually and I couldn't pick one. I picked two!! And it shouldn't surprise you that they are both Thoroughbreds. I'm so original.

The first is Roxie, who belongs to an adult amateur in my barn. She's nine I believe, and her owner has done a fantastic job exposing her to all the things and taking her to all the place. She is put together really well and also does helpful things like self load and tie to the trailer. She just moved to my barn maybe a year or so ago, and in that time she's developed a ton of topline and great booty muscles (for jumping the big jumps).

Speaking of jumping, she is SO INTO IT. To the point where she can be a little rude but to be honest I'd rather have a rude horse that loves jumping than a polite one that was really meh about it.

She's a mare so, you know, there's that to contend with. I used to only really like mares; in fact Runkle is the first gelding I've been 'serious' with in awhile. I won't lie, it's been nice riding something that's easy to tell him to shut up and sit down and not have to finesse and trick him that it was actually his idea all along. Even though I am pretty good at that. But I do miss mares and their grumpy tenacity. You can't beat a good mare. Click here to see Roxie looking 'foxy' (lol) and dressage-y.

And the second horse I'd want to steal is named Castle Hill. He's a steeplechase horse at the farm I got Runkle from, and I have had very little interaction with him besides meeting him in the stable and pictures his trainer posts of him jumping but let me tell you...

...that shit is enough.

Look at him!! He's GORGEOUS. I bet he'd be a killer cross country horse. The only problem is he's actually good at hurdles (in fact I think he won just this past weekend) so he's not going to retire from that anytime soon but god damn if he ever decides he doesn't want to race anymore... shotgun.

So that's who I would steal. I mean, what, I don't steal horses you guys don't have to worry you don't need to lock your barns at night and microchip them. Just leave the gate open. It's fine.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Plantation Field International 2017 - Part 2

I was kinda hoping everyone else would post their Plantation recaps before me, so I could do less work. It's a strategy that served me well for Great Meadow. They're also better bloggers with better memory than me. Lots of pictures below, click to enbiggen ;) If you want more, I have them all in a Flickr album here.

Got to the show at around 11ish, with Emma parking literally minutes right behind me, completely unplanned. We're just that good. 11ish is not too early for beer and pizza, so we got some. Side note, can the brewery tent pls to be accepting credit cards in the future? So I can just open a tab?

The CIC 1* stadium was running up in the arena so we briefly stopped by there and watched the last few horses go. The jumps looked tiny compared to the 3* the day before, but still gave their own share of problems. Plus the division was absolutely enormous.

We also got to see the CIC* Young Rider awards ceremony which was fun. They gave out lots of pretty ribbons and played the national anthem since it's an international event. I was so excited for them, the girl who won was like 16 or some ridiculous stupid thing that made me feel horrible about myself. Olivia Dutton placed somewhere in the ribbons and she's freakin' 14.

After the victory gallop we watched the CIC** finish up cross country. They were running it in reverse order as per usual so most of the big names were running towards the end. Phillip Dutton galloped past us over the hunt jumps and then down to the final water, three jumps from the finish. It was down the hill from us so we couldn't see but a few seconds later we heard the unmistakable pop of an air vest deploying and then a horse running riderless up the hill.


He was fine, thank goodness. Do we need to start bubble wrapping our Olympians as well??

Lauren Kieffer and Landmark's Monte Carlo

Lauren Kieffer galloped by after on Landmark's Monte Carlo who is basically a real life unicorn. So many greys!! And after her Boyd on a new mare I've never seen him on before. He was the last to go since he had been sitting in first the whole weekend. As he galloped by I said "I wish you luck, don't do anything silly at the water," which must've jinxed him because thirty seconds later we heard ANOTHER airvest pop and Kyra was galloping up the hill!!

Guys please do not be maiming yourselves at 2*'s. We need you. I just can't believe they both went within minutes of each other at the same jump. What are the odds.

Once I was done jinxing everyone's day we trudged back up the hill to the arena. Plantation is really goddamn hilly. Competing there is always interesting because Runkle lives in NJ, and I never get to ride on terrain. Flora Lea has like, one hill. And it's usually only on the novice and higher courses. Plantation has about 45 hills and the course designer likes putting jumps on the side of them and make you jump down them A LOT.

Foxhunting and it's bitches

Anyway back at the ring. People mobilized to set up the bareback puissance for the lunch break. Phillip Dutton even came and helped set up the wall. There was some kind of confusing team aspect which I'll deal with because it somehow resulted in Bruce Davidson Sr. as a 'team captain'. The team captains had saddles which I mean... that makes sense. But I would've been floored to see the legend himself jumping bareback.
  • I wanted all the horses doing the puissance. They were all so cute! 
  • There weren't any big name riders in it this year (doing the actual barebacking) but it was all working students and kids which I actually really liked.
  • There was a kid on an appaloosa pony. She did a couple of the warmup jumps bareback but when it was time for her to do the real tamale her pony gave her a hard no and she went flying off. Dom was immediately like "yeah she's fine!!!" the INSTANT she hit the ground. It really made us laugh (she was fine).
  • Bruce Davidson Sr jumped 4ft by basically sitting there and daring the horse to do otherwise #goals
  • Ryan Wood's working student was riding this cool I SAY LIVER CHESTNUT mare. APPARENTLY I am in the minority. They interviewed him and he talked a tiny bit about himself and then finished like "and uhh... this horse is for sale!" and then I wanted it.
  • But really, she was awesome. And a really tidy jumper and really cool about the barebacking.
  • They ended the competition at 5ft with a 4 way tie. NO TIES next year!! I want to battle to the death.
The CIC3* was already underway by the time we left the puissance. Some thoughts from XC:
  • The course was pretty soft, with the time very hard to get. You really had to push on some concrete ground to get the time.
  • The last water jump and the foundation were technical questions but most people negotiated them without issue.
  • Not a lot of ropes were set up so it was actually pretty easy to accidentally wander onto the course which made me nerv.
  • Waaaaay back on the far side of the property, kind of near China, there was a coffin complex and the first water. I thought these were the most challenging and difficult combinations on course. Plus you could see most of the course from sitting between the two of them, so we spent a lot of time down there.
  • The woman from California (EN did a bit on her) had a bit of bad luck at the coffin. The ditch was very intimdating and buried between two steep hills which made it look like a pit of eels or whatever your horse frightening device is. Her horse gave her a hard no and we were all cheering her on not to retire - she had come so far!!! But as she walked off I think she put it best - she said "He's decided to retire" lol. Lady I feel you, you fought the good fight on Sunday and you'll be back.
  • I got to hang out with Allison from Pony'tude as well!! And her husband, who talked to all the photographers.
Be still my heart for the beautiful Welcome Shadow

Jennie Brannigan and I Bella

Phillip Dutton and one of his 8 horses. Maybe Mr Candyman?

Sharon White

Sharon White
At that point I still hadn't ridden and I was tired from laying in the grass in the sun and being full of pulled pork sandwich and beer. We left before the advanced was finished.

All in all it was such a wonderful day. It was really fun to hang out with Emma and Allison, as well as a few more people from the barn. There were lots of pups to play with and ponies to watch. I wish the weather had been more fall like - I think it was almost 90 AGAIN but until Plantation develops some kind of weather machine I think I'll have to shift blame from them for that one ;)

Next up, Fair Hill!!! Which I might be volunteering at the whole thing, we'll see. Haven't decided.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Plantation Field International 2017 - Part 1

I've been a little volunteering fiend this summer. My goal was to do five events (five full days) and Plantation's CIC was my 6th. I've got one more - the CCI at Fair Hill - and that'll be me done for the year.

Saturday I was set to fence judge for the CIC* divisions, of which there were about eleventy billion riders. It was cool to see everything from Olympians piloting potential future team horses around to kids and amateurs tackling their first international event.

The amount of time and hard work that goes into one of these events from both rider and event staff standpoints blows my mind every time I see it. I sit at one jump and watch dozens of riders go by, calling each one and marking down the times. Most people skate right past me with no trouble. But each combination I see is hundreds and hundreds of hours of work.

My jump!!
The grounds crew did they best they could but nothing could change the fact that it hadn't rained in a month. Past tense because since then it's been absolutely pouring. Figures.

The tracks themselves were okay. They put a TON of sand down before and after the jumps to try and save the horse's feet from the concrete but everywhere else it was so hard it was actually uncomfortable to stand on after awhile. I don't think the ground has been this hard since like, 2012.

Sprite the super pony! Area II staple.
Lauren Kieffer, eventual winner of the 80+ rider CIC*

My fence was a nice big table that most people negotiated without a hitch. I had a couple of problems but being as it was fence 4 it more looked like people were trying to sort out their controls still after a spin through the woods and a couple long gallops.

Jennie Brannigan
I will say, it was nice being done at 1 instead of the normal horse trial finish of 5 or 6pm (or never, feels like). Afterwards I could wander the shopping at my leisure. I'm getting really addicted to going to these big shows and having all the saddlers that ever existed there. I spent a lot of time talking to each one (except the Devoucoux rep, as I have already traveled that particular road). I'm really interested in the Stubbens and the fitter and I talked at length about Thoroughbred backs and what they need to be happy ponies.

When in doubt, LEAVE IT OUT
Nailed it.

After spending thousands of dollars mentally on a new saddle (WITH PURPLE PIPING) I wandered over to the Racesafe tent. Because Saturday was Helmet Awareness Day everyone was having all kinds of specials on helmets, and the Racesafe booth was throwing in vests as well. I tried on their new prototype vest and I wish I hadn't.
  • It was comfortable as sin. I seriously don't understand how it's BETA 3 certified. It didn't change my balance at all with the weight of it. It was slim enough profile I could actually lift my arms.
  • There were so many different sizes stocked that it was almost a bespoke fit for everyone who tried it on. My current vest is an Airowear which I do like, but I had to get a large to get it long enough in the back. my measurements would actually fit more comfortably in a small so while it's not loose there is a LOT of bulk.
  • It didn't squish my boobs. I hate when cross country vests squish my boobs >:(
How often do I have to replace vests? Is there a time limit on that? And does anyone want to buy a used large Airowear ;)

C4 belts for miles. I got my eye on that rainbow one.
Helmet in the middle... you purple bastard you.
I also checked out the Sportvibe/Icevibe/all the vibes at the Toprail Tack trailer. Luckily Runkle doesn't have all these problems yet but I wish I had ALL of this stuff for when I was leasing Lexy. I took her to Loch Moy once which involves stabling and she had elephant feet from being inside for a full 24 hours. I had to spend most of the day walking her so she didn't look so uncomfortable. And then icing her after our xc round involved her spooking and tipping my icy muck tub. Thanks mare.

Once I had my fill of nice expensive things I couldn't have I hung around the stadium arena. I meant to only stay for a few rounds but I ended up watching all of the 2* and most of the 3* jumping. The stadium course was challenging and huge, with several bogey fences that punished you for not having the right canter through the turn or blasting through a distance.

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to work on my stalkerish tendencies, so I wandered over to stadium warm up and took a LOT of pictures. It was fun to see people fresh out of the ring and delighted, or coolly tight lipped while they waited for their turn. Everyone seemed in general really friendly with each other. I love seeing the working students busting their asses and the love the grooms have for their horses.

Phillip Dutton warming up.
Jennie and I Bella watch Phillip
The ring steward by stadium was incredibly nice and let me ask her about a million questions. Someone would come out of the ring and she would remove the boots, weighing each one. She also touched the pastern and coronary bands to test for excess sensitivity. Then she would give the boots back to the pack animal groom and wave them on their way. She explained everything from the strict rules about logos in international competitions to the number of poles each warm up jump is supposed to have and how they are allowed to be set up.

For example, did you know in FEI competitions you're allowed to turn the oxer into a one stride? And that if an oxer is a certain height you have to have a second rail on it? I actually saw mixes of all these things. Phillip Dutton and Jennie Brannigan both had oxers dismantled into one strides.

Plus the woman was a combined driver, which means she's the coolest person alive. That's one of the last stragglers on my equine bucket list. Anyone got any connections??

All in all, it was a really amazing day. And we hadn't even gotten to the cross country on Sunday yet!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

10 Questions

If you're reading this, it's because nothing is happening and I am too lazy to drum up any substance for a post.

1. What is your biggest source of caffeine that gets you through the day?

Sometimes I also get the most white girl of white girl coffee orders: iced chai latte with skim milk and a shot of espresso. But mostly Diet Dr. Pepper. Yeah.

2. Do you honestly think your trainer is the best trainer for you? Yes. And I care too much about my horse and my riding to have a trainer where the answer to this might be no.

3. One token of advice a fellow rider/trainer/horse person told you that you still remember to this day.
"You wouldn't go to war without a gun" (for that time I showed up without a stick to my first 3"6' jumper class).

4. If riding meant costing your family so much money that they'd basically be on the poverty line, or making your family terribly unhappy, would you still do it? If we're talking my future wife/kids scenario, probably not. But then they'd have to deal with my depressed bitchy ass, so they'd probably tell me to go do it anyway.

5. Would you ride while pregnant? I want to say yes but I think once I got on I would be too scared I'd ruin everything!

6. How do you tell when a horse likes someone/has bonded with you or someone else? When they act differently around that person they've 'bonded' with than anyone else. My old lease horse tolerated me, and I even think she liked me, but she didn't have that je ne sais quoi with me like she did with her 'real' mommy.

7. Are horses capable of loving, in your opinion? I don't think animals know the L word like humans do, so no, not in the way we've defined it in English language. Yes I'm being a super technical wet blanket and no I don't care.

But I sure do love him.
8. If you could have one horse from your past come back for 5 minutes, who would it be, why, and what would you do with them in those 5 minutes? Five MINUTES?? Five minutes isn't long enough to do anything!!! I guess the one horse I feel like I never got to say goodbye to was this guy Stretch I rode in college. He taught me the definition of 'heart horse'. And in the five minutes I would give him a treat and turn him out in a huge field and watch him run and buck to his heart's content.

This is him, I still think about him all the time.
9. Should a trainer also be a friend, or should it be a student/teacher relationship? I like having a good relationship with my trainer. Usually I feel like its just student/teacher but I think it's shifting more to friends as I get farther away from my junior years. But I agree with Emma on this one, the #1 requirement is trust.

10. One piece of advice/training you were given by a trainer or mentor that you look back on now and view it as incorrect? 
Hm this is a tough one. I've been lucky, and had very excellent trainers. Maybe not a specific piece of advice is incorrect but as I've grown up my perception of what it takes to be Really Good has changed. It's not about spending six figures on a horse or even your own natural talent. At the end of the day it's the amount of work you're determined to put in. And your willingness to be a student of the sport, forever.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Things I Do for Him

I make a lot of sacrifices to own a horse. It feels weird to write sacrifices because honestly when the trade off is Runkle I'm not really giving anything up.

The time and money I shrug off because what would I be doing anyway? And this makes me happy. But I finally found the line where it's turned into sacrifice.

I started running.

I've stated many times, to many people, for many occasions, that I am not a runner. I love lifting A LOT. Riding is great. Usually I do some kind of adult rec league (I've dabbled in flag football, floor hockey, and rugby). But with the exception of one short stint when I was depressed because my horse was dead I didn't run. Ever.

my last run i saw some chickens. in the forest.

This winter as my jump lessons progressed it became increasingly obvious that I was not fit enough to ride this horse. Over a course of four jumps I would be out of breath, panting, legs sore and shaking from trying to stay with him as he figured out what to do with himself over jumps. And that ranged from not jumping the jump at all to catapulting 18 feet over a 2'6" oxer. I compensated by bracing my hands on his neck and jacking up my stirrups so short that I could just hold on with me knees. Basically I cheated.

But I really wanted to compete this summer, and I realized it was totally unfair to ask him to do this stuff if I wasn't in good enough shape to be right there with him every step of the way. So I did what any normal person would do in a situation like this, I signed up for the Philly Half Marathon.

once i had to get up really early
but the clouds looked awesome

Let it not be said that I half ass things. No I have never run a race before. I have never run more than a mile without stopping. I don't even like running. So naturally my first race should be over 13 miles. And better yet, they changed the race this year. I'm very intimately familiar with this race. My friend has run the full marathon twice, and I've several other friends who have completed the full and the half. It actually goes right past my apartment, and normally I make mulled wine or spiked hot cocoa, sit on my balcony and watch everybody go by at 7am, and then go back to bed.

This year however they changed the course for both the half and the full and instead of a leisurely lope through Center City the stupid half goes through HILLY FAIRMOUNT PARK. I almost cried when I saw the new route. Where was my nice flat streets?? Why did they hate me?? Why was I doing this???

they also had throwing stars!!

But it was too late, I had already paid my entry fee and I am a cheap little shit so I wasn't going to back out now. And I had signed up in June, so I had almost five months to go from whiny couch potato to seasoned runner.

I started with this Couch to 5K app. I'm not an expert because I haven't used a ton, but I've used this one twice and it's fantastic. The intervals step up in a very doable way, and there are fun badges when you hit milestones. Plus there's a lady that sometimes talks to you saying "good job!" and "you're doing it, awesome runner!" and when I was having a shitty run it was fun to curse her out.

They also have add-ons to the app where you can go to 10K and even 21K (a half!) if you like. I just used the couch to 5K because the one downside of this app is just goes by time and not actual mileage. So if you're a slow person like me maybe thirty five minutes isn't enough for you to run 3 miles.

I wish they gave tiaras for running...
Once I graduated from the app I bastardized one of Hal Higdon's plans. I wanted a little bit more of a taper than he has built in and I also wanted more mileage during the training. His longest run is 10 miles, the weekend before the race. Mine goes up to 12 but 3 weeks before the race, and the weekend before I do 6. Assuming I live through it I'll post my full training plan.

This week was the first official week of actual half marathon training and honestly? I ran 12 miles this week and it wasn't that bad. And I cannot stress this enough, if I can do it you absolutely can too. And besides getting a sweet runner bod I'm able to actually keep up with my horse. Which if you asked him, I think he hates, because now I never let up because I'm too tired.

the beautiful precious.