Friday, January 30, 2015

SMH

Thank you all for the wonderful compliments on all my babies! I miss all of them, but I know they are in good homes (or heaven RIP Spirit), and I cherish every day I got with them.

If you're like me, you spend the majority of you evenings stalking COTH, blogs and Facebook for horsey related news because as The Boy likes to say, "I'm addicted to the naynays". Its true. I am. Forever.

Recently though I've been feeling pretty discouraged (another post on that later), wondering what am I REALLY doing and getting more & more frustrated with the direction my sport is heading.

It started a while ago when eventing took away the long format. I had just recently entered the sport and was hooked. Back then, I had a little bit of familial support, but I still had to front most of the cost myself as a teenager in HS. And I wanted it, so I made it work. But I distinctly remember the uproar that change caused in the eventing community. I was even "that girl" who chose it as the thesis of my english class research paper.

It was a difficult paper to write since there wasn't much research done on the topic, more opinions floating around than anything else, but I dug in and read more articles and books on equine fitness than I care to ever again.

I still don't have a specific "opinion" on the matter after all of that, but I knew deep down that the sport had been changed forever.

That was just the beginning.


Im not sure if its because I was a spritely young thing, but NOTHING scared me & I always went into each event with vigor and fervor for competition. Even on Spirit, who was fugly and awful at dressage, I STILL loved it, even when we were in dead last after dressage. Even with an awful coach who made me cry, I STILL loved it. I wanted to show every weekend and tried my hardest to do so.

Like, really ugly
I worked SO hard with that horse, and the greatest moment in my life is when we won FIRST place at USPC champs in Novice. I couldnt believe it! My backyard, newspaper horse had killed it and we had WON. 

Our last show together (training level)
I haven't won a recognized event since, and thats okay. I loved it nonetheless. The feeling of galloping XC, getting fancy for the judges and competing against other people and myself. I never had the privilege of riding "made" horses or being able to afford weekly lessons, so I did most of the work myself, slugging day in and out trying to make it work with my OTTB & backyard pony & I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm not sure when "the feeling" changed for me though.

Shows were getting more expensive. Dressage was becoming more important. The judging changed. You could no longer move up in the jumping phases if you had a less than stellar score. People started riding fancier WB's. XC got harder. It was becoming harder and harder to do it alone, and without a coach I started slipping and it wasn't as fun anymore.


I think it really changed for me when Yankee and I had the best test of our life and placed 3rd after dressage. He was fluid, responsive, & calm all throughout sleeting rain and freezing temperatures. We had trained for YEARS to get to that point. I was so proud of him and knowing *I* had made that test happen. But then we went out for XC and it all fell apart. The cold was unbearable. The course was INSANE. We shared half the fences with Prelim and I had never done some of the combinations before, and I went out already nervous. It was the first show of the year and we shared fences with PRELIM. WHY?!

Such perfection
And then I fell off for the first time at a show, ever.

Done. Shattered.


Every show I went to after that just wasn't fun. Yankee was amazeballs in dressage and we still rarely scored under a 35 or even placed in the ribbons. XC was terrifyingly complex & maxed out, and stadium was always difficult and we barely made it. I was literally throwing away money to show, & I wasn't even having fun. It was really discouraging & I wondered if it was just me being a wuss.


Then there were the converted hunter princess's out there with their headsettin, fancy steppin horses creaming us all, and it was infuriating. I couldn't believe judges were placing horses with no true connection above other people who had the correct training under their belts, but less fancy horses.


I wasn't the only one who noticed either. Dressage was changing, for the worse. In my circle of people, we couldn't believe it. It seemed that if you had a horse with fancy feet that could curl his head, you placed above everyone else. Nevermind that his back was as hollow as a dead tree, no, he could trot like an imported WB (if he wasn't one already).

Not to mention by this time the upper levels were becoming almost scary to watch. XC was way too technical and the speeds remained the same. Even the great riders seemed to struggle with the technicalities of the courses. Horses and riders started dying. The jumps became harder still.

I started to prefer local, cheap, fun shows over anything else.

Spring dressage show
Winter jumper show
And I just don't get it.

What is the actual point of making everything so damned difficult on XC that riders have to consistently push their horses beyond what their capable of?

Denny from Tamarack Farm in a FB article said it best,


If THIS is what the FEI wants the "new" sport to be, tricks and traps and angles, and other idiot crap that no sensible horse would want to jump, then I think they are painting themselves into an increasingly dangerous corner.These are THE BEST horses and riders we have in eventing. These are brilliant riders and elite horses, and even the very best of our very best are having rotational falls.
Seriously, does ANYONE like to see this?
Wake up, FEI.

Its becoming a game of who has the most money, who can dressage the very best and hopefully make it over fences later and how else can we discourage riders.

Perhaps I am being a titch dramatic, but I lost the spark a while ago and I just don't know if I even want to get it back with the direction eventing is going.



Am I the only one who feels this way in the blogsphere, or have you other eventers noticed eventing following a path you don't know if you want to take anymore?



Thursday, January 29, 2015

TOABH: Worth 1K Words

Since the weather is shit and I'm slowly recovering from dental work like a whiny baby, I figured I would share a few hundred of my favorite pics of my favorite horses over the years and make it into a picture sharing TBT!



My babies have always been my pride and joy and I'm not sure many of you know about Dolly, Spirit,  Murphy, Dutchess (no pictures) Ajax, Pearl or Z.

Dolly was my first horse and she was stinker. My parents were horse clueless and didn't know that hot, fat, arabian, chesnut mares were total bitches, but I loved her just the same.


Sadly, that was before the days of iphones and digital cameras and almost every picture of her is printed out in family albums. There were some good ones though.

Spirit came next and he was my Heart Horse like no other. He was an Anglo-Arab I foudn in the Dayton Daily News classifieds, ha.

XC in 2007...to be that tiny again
He was difficult on the flat and extremely ugly when it came to conformation but that horse would literally jump anything I pointed him at.

Triple bar during Equine affaire Darren Chiacchia clinic
Again, we barely have any pictures of him while I owned him, but his rider in the last years of his life has a ton. RIP Buddy.

Fox Hunting right before his death (left)
Precious angel pony
We then acquired several horses at once. We already had Yankee, but  I got a project horse named Murphy, a QH named Dutchess (who now belongs to my HS BFF's mom) and 2 mini's.

Loved this asshole
Murphy was a jackass and could jump the moon....when he felt like it. Which was usually out of the pasture. He also hated flatwork and most people But he was gorgeous!


This is Ajax, the mini stallion, and he was beautiful and sassy and perfect. Murphy hated him with vengeance, but Yankee adored him. We bought him with a mini mare, whom I named Pearl and she ended up popping out a baby a few months into ownership.

How fucking cute
We sold Ajax to a woman who showed cart ponies and she added him to her breeding program. He was one fancy dude. I na,ed the baby Zephyr and she was my little puppy.


Yankee adored the mini's

Pearl & Z 3 years later
I loved those mini's but had to sell them when I moved to college. Z came with Yankee but I ended up selling her to a family that loves on her and has her pull the cart occasionally. I hope to get mini's again!

Yankee was my main focus all through college and I have so many pictures of him that I racked up over the last 10 years. These are my favorites.

2009
2011
2012

2011

2008, first training

2014
2014

2013?

5ft, 2014
And then, we moved here and I bought Bacardi. I have so many pictures of him already but the standouts would have to be the next few.


Gotcha Day!

Disregard my eq plz & just admire pony muscles

Again with the eq

Whenever we try to be cute

I miss Yankee everyday, but I'm excited to see where Bacardi might take me! Love me my OTTBs.

Prolly one of my fav of all time

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What Do Wednesday: Boots

Sidenote reeeeal quick- I think I have fixed the mobile app for those that mentioned it was not working for them!  Mine is no longer completely black, so I am hoping it is not for y'all as well. 

Another Wednesday is upon us and I had a hard time picking a topic at first. Everything is so mundane  in the winter. But then, I did laundry!

Horse laundry, specifically. In the scheme of "not doing much riding of worth and knocking out annoying barn chores" I decided to destroy my mothers super expensive washing machine and wash all the super muddy polos and boots I had stacked up in my laundry bin at the barn.

As was rolling the hundreds of polo wraps I own & texting Aimee about my love for polos and how I just want all the polos (polos forever) in every color,  we connected in our love for polos. I realize not everyone obsesses over polos like we do, and many actually dislike them.

In general, above all other tack things, I am a lower leg clothes whore. Completely. There is not a boot or wrap I can resist. Unless its like $200.

Dressage people have their quick wraps/polos. Jumpers have their leather open fronts. Eventers have hard shell/breathable air flow things. Western people have SMBs. Endurance people have splint boots. And then theres me. Who has them all.

One of my goals this year is to aquire some Devonshire Open Front Because because they are straight sex. I mean look at them.


Of course, I have 4 other sets of leather open fronts, but none of them fit quite right. They don't have "the feeling". The Devonshire's would be the most expensive set of boots I would have in my trunk, but I mean...look at them. At $165 I can say that there are so many people out there that wouldn't bat an eye at the price, so I am making them "My 2015 Tack Purchase".

B in his Devonshire's
My love affair with boots began early on as a newly christened horse owner at the age of 10. I went to one of my first 4H meetings with my bitchy pony Dolly in tow (whom I ADORED) & learned about splint boots.

The obsession was swift and aggressive.

I had soon convinced my parents Dolly NEEDED 5 pairs, in different colors, and the love for boots blossomed into a rather unhealthy obsession.

By age 12, I had several polo wraps, so many splint boots I lost count and I saved up to buy myself some black SMB's. They were beautiful and I was in love. I felt so proud to have bought them myself and rocked them out on XC at my first show. Spirit wore the shit out of those.

Splint boots and black SMBs at my 1st ever event!
I still have those SMB's to this day. How crazy is that. SMBs are tough boots, and I've put them through hell. Them damn things is 12 years old and still hangin on!

The next year I joined Pony Club and I learned the "PC approved" way to wrap legs. I was also introduced to standing wraps and again, acquired so many standing bandages in every color that my bins were overwhelmed. I loved them. I felt so informed and powerful and like I could do anything with the perfect set of matching standing wraps or polos. ANYTHING.

Through PC I learned about leather open fronts, quick wrap boots (like the Dover brand schooling boots) and Woof boots for XC. I HAD TO HAVE THEM ALL.

Dover Schooling aka a "quick wrap"
FFW to present day, and I can honestly say I have kept almost everything I bought as a teeenager in semi-pristine condition. Not only am I a tack whore but I am also a pack rat.  I think I've only had to get rid of 3 sets of polo wraps and 2 sets of splint boots due to hard wear. Literally everything else I've kept. I SWEAR I have 20 sets of polo wraps. No joke. Mostly in black or white. I probably have 4 sets of woof boots, in varying stages of wear, 3 easy wraps, & 4 sets of open front. Most or all bought at discount price from Ebay or off a friend. Tack ho-ing, the economical way!

I own one, yes only ONE, pair of brand new, very NICE XC boots that was my "2012 Tack Purchase".

The beautiful Dalmar's
My point being, I LOVE all boots and I think they all have a purpose.

Polo's I use for dressage and hacks mostly. I think they offer a little bit of support, and used in tandem with flexwrap EquiSport bandages (a little like vetwrap, but re-useable) they can offer A LOT of support. I tend to not use them as much in summer time, as they can be very warm. Sometimes I even use polo in back, with easy wraps up front.

Classy in B&W
For summer use, I snagged a pair of Climatex combination bandages off eBay for a stupid cheap price and LOVE love LOVE them. They wick away moisture and seem to offer a sick amount of support for those horsey tendons and joints. I trust them so much I sometimes jump  in them.


Easy wraps up front, Cliamtex behind
For stadium, I really like leather open fronts. They offer protection, look classy for shows and keep the horses honest about rubbing rails. Sometimes I will also break out my white Roma's I keep only for showing. 

Leather open fronts
White Roma's
For jump schooling, I prefer the cheap open front Roma brand. As they are easy to hose off, cheap, pretty good quality, and offer great protection. Not much support, but thats when I use EquiSport bandages in tandem! Sometimes I even use quick wraps over EquiSport.



Modeling the EquiSport's under quick wraps up front

For XC, I use Dalmar's up front, petal bells, and woof in back. Sometimes (almost always) with EquiSport for the extra support. Before I bought the Delmar's it was Woof all around.
Yankee in 2011 modeling the petal bell boots and woof boots all around 
Dalmar's!
--> I know a lot of people are very against boots, and then there are those like me that are very for boots/wraps. I believe that as long as you know how to properly wrap polos, and know how to fit other boots, they can only help and not hurt. Being mindful of the temperature outside is a big factor as well, and there is much debate about overheating tendons. I tend to be overly cautious and might baby the horses a bit, but I think prevention is the best medicine.

Polos!
In past experience, my horses have ONLY hurt themselves in work when I didnt boot or wrap them. Of course. So now every ride I put something on. Wether that be a full EquiFlex/combo wrap, polos, easy wraps or boots, I always always always have something on their legs.

So, bloggers, its your turn! What is your opinion/POA when it comes to wraps/boots for riding? Do you swear by it? Detest it? Not really sure? What do you use primarily? Why?

Feed me your secrets!

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