Reinless Riding

Last week the interwebs/blogland blew up over an article about a rider in Great Britain making a call for Bitless dressage. I didn’t spend a lot of time investigating but my general feelings are that just because something is different does not mean that it is wrong.

I do not personally think that a Dr. Cooks bridle or a hackamore with leverage would be appropriate for dressage – and honestly wouldn’t put a Dr. Cooks on one of my horses regardless of discipline. That said I do not understand what the violent opposition to a side pull or even a Micklem bridle is (though admittedly I find the Micklem to be hideous on 99% of horses).

This conversation was perfectly timed with the arrival of my Reins For Rescues neck rope. There is nothing quite like trying to ride without touching the reins to really call you out on bad habits. If you think you are totally independent of your hand and ride “primarily off your seat and leg” I urge you to prove it by attempting to ride without touching the reins. Annie and I were cruising around at the walk and trot (making figure 8’s, small circles, turn on forehand, controlled halts…) but holy hell did the wheels start to fall off the bus when I tried to come off the rail at the canter. I do have to say though that the few jumps we tackled riding with just the neck rope were so relaxed. This shouldn’t be surprising to me given how opposed Annie is to contact of pretty much any sort right now. Baby steps! IMG_0442

I am going to continue to ride with the neck rope as often as I can. Even if I am pretty sure it is just a safety blanket to make be feel slightly less insane for dropping my reins on the little dragon. Riding with a neck rope is a totally different ball game but something I would encourage others to try because it will point out your weaknesses under saddle in a jiffy.

Where do you all fall on the bitless dressage front? If you are opposed personally why do you take such offense to the rights of others to make that decision for their horses? Do you not care one way or another? I am curious about the logic behind these thoughts because I really had no idea so many people felt so strongly about the topic until last week.


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Schedule Making

After showing all over Area 3, parts of Area 8 and even a show in Area 5 last year I knew that I wanted to stay more “local” this year. By local I mean that I really don’t want to drive more than 6 hours to show. I know some of you might think that is just a quick jaunt up the road depending on where you are based but given where I am located I have a decent number of venues that fit the bill. Once I set that goal I went perusing the USEA omnibus and wrote down literally every show that I would consider attending in Area 3 or Area 8. Some are more than 6 hours away and others are much closer. There are tons of options though. I also wanted to know from the options which ones had the most affordable entry fees (ranges from 295 to 400) and I also calculated what my anticipated gas would be and camping fees if any that would apply. Camping for the win because holy batman would the numbers in the columns that you can’t see (that included the total anticipated cost) have WAY bigger numbers if factoring in hotels.After that I narrowed it down to what shows I would want to attend if I was to show each month (not super realistic but you know a girl can dream). Those shows in an ideal world would be:

  • March
    • Pine Top
  • April
    • River Glen
  • May
    • MayDaze
  • June
    • River Glen or
    • Mid South
  • July
    • Chatt Hills

It is important to note that showing in TN and GA in June/July is not for the faint of heart and if I am aiming to actually have fun I should probably avoid these shows like the plague… But still they made the list because I am not driving to Michigan or some other far away land.

2016aeclogoWhat shows I attend will vary largely on finances and then if we are aiming for AEC’s. I was really disappointed by how AEC’s went last year so I am not 100% committed to signing myself up for that little disaster. BUT it would be really sweet to qualify…

Another option that I have been throwing around is giving the ride to a local pro and campaigning Annie for the Young Jumper Championships…. But money yo. Lots of grand ideas – we will see what comes to fruition. Have you all started to plan your seasons out? If so what’s up next on the schedule?

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Luna Turns One

My sometimes sweet not so small baby horse is officially 1 year old! I wanted to wait to post about Luna’s 1st birthday until I could get some new pictures of her. Like all baby horses she has cuter day that others. Here are some of my favorite pictures of her. Hard to believe it has been 5 months since I brought her home!

February – September


img_3386img_0223.jpgimg_1638.jpgNovember img_0292.jpg img_0297.jpg img_0279.jpgDecemberimg_1350.jpgJanuaryimg_1900.jpg

FebruaryThere is a lot of derp and plenty of tude in there. I see glimmers of the horse she will grow up to be though and can’t help but day dream of the future we have ahead of us! I wish I had been better about taking pictures! I want to try to get one each month from here on out for progression shots.

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Current Wanties

Yesterday Karen posted about a style/wardrobe wish list. I have pretty much all of the things that I “need” when it comes to the horses. All 3 have brushes, blankets, boots, etc. I have a plethora of tack, breeches, and riding boots. That doesn’t mean that a girl can’t have grabby hands though!

missshield First up is a Miss Shield. It might not be practical and probably is a bit diva ish for eventing land but that does not change anything for me. Given the price tag I don’t see myself splurging on one of these bad boys anytime soon. I will continue to lust after it though.

aquaxI got to see the Ovation Aqua X Lightweight breeches that Amanda reviewed in person (Lauren speaks highly of them too!) this past weekend. I am even more intrigued by them than I already was. I definitely don’t need another pair of breeches but at their reasonable price I might have to take the plunge. Another not so pricey wardrobe addition that I would like to make is some YoungKWPN-NA garb. I recently joined the group and even before that having bought Luna I thought it would be fun to get my hands on some KWPN garb. I still haven’t made the order but one of these days I will get a hat and shirt.

thinlinePractical me would like to try the ThinLine Gatorbootz and see if they work for the red dragon. She pulls boots like she a fiend. I HATE pulling off boots before dressage and it is even worse when the special ginger has to wear two on each foot. These seem really durable and easy to take off. They are super expensive for bell boots though. Anyone have first hand experience with these bell boots?invictusNot so practical me knows that I don’t need another half pad but I really want to try the Invictus half pad. I have to admit that what I have read is intriguing and a fellow blogger swears by hers. There is nothing wrong with my current set up but I am curious to see how the feel differs. Last up is something that I actually get to buy thanks to a Christmas present of a GC to BoyOBoy Bridleworks from the ever awesome $900 Facebook Pony. I am working with the owner now to design a navy and grey belt and cannot wait to see how it turns out.

What are some things that you all have been getting grabby hands over? Tack? Apparel? Any cool items you can share to make my list even longer?

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10 Pts In Pictures


For the first time in the 9 months that I have been eventing Annie I actually left the ring this weekend on her thinking that while it had it’s hiccups this would be the test that got us out of the vicious last place cycle and scores over 40. When I signed up for MayDaze I totally underestimated how green Annie was. While she was generally rideable we lacked any finesse – which you are probably thinking “duh” because she was so green. Slowly but surely we have been making progress but as with most things it has been a 1 step forward 2 steps back. Below you can see the progression of our dressage tests the past 9 or so months…IMG_2945

Always room for improvement but I am still very pleased with where we are starting 2017.

May Daze May 2016 – 47.8IMG_0386IMG_0399

River Glen June 2016 – 47.50RiverGlen_0571RiverGlen_0573

Between every show it would seem that I had improved on one aspect or another only to lose something in another and then we would go into the ring and the wheels would fall off. We would have small moments of greatness and then large moments of just BLAH. This resulted in consistent scores in the 40’s. I would shed a couple points and then next HT gain them back in different areas. Like for example when Annie refused to pick up the right lead and I rode her like a motorcycle through every canter circle…

Chatt Hills July 2016 – 42.30LCP_4432LCP_4430

River Glen August 2016 – 45.00rght3816_3946rght3816_3950

Feather Creek October 2016- 47.3 – I unfortunately do not have any pictures but it was pretty much more of the above with some extra points due to me having an error in my test. This year I really want to reduce the stupid points due to geometry and errors!

Poplar Place February 2017 (schooling) – 38.25Poplar-RiverBirchTeam-26Poplar-RiverBirchTeam-30 While this weekend was after all just a schooling show the scores that I received for various elements of my test reflected how I felt the test rode. We had far less bracing and hollowness and even when I got nervous it didn’t totally destroy or dictate our test. By riding Annie more effectively with my seat and leg I was able to I know that if I really buckle down we will be able to get more competitive.

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Weekend Wrap Up: Poplar Place Schooling Show

This weekend was nothing if not eventful. On Friday I made the trek down to Poplar Place Farm for a 1 day 3 phase schooling show. I had never been before and I was taken back by how pretty it is. That makes 3/3 of the bigger HT venues in GA that I have been to being gorgeous. Also can I just say how much I appreciate a venue that has stall mats in paved stalls. Because this was a schooling show PPF allowed you to school cross country on Friday. This was exciting and also a bit scary as I have never ridden with Lauren’s trainer and it is hard enough to meet a new trainer in an arena let alone when you are out in the field and you have no idea if your ginger will be a good witch or a bad witch… Thankfully while Annie was a little fiery she was quite rideable and I was able to get a really good feel for LT and she for us. Poplar-RiverBirchTeam-100Of course because I shared how difficult Annie has been with her Annie was great – albeit a little excitable but I mean who can blame her because ermahgerdddd JUMP ALL THE THINGS. We schooled what I will say was a super weird little course and Annie of course dominated all of the jumps. I need to stop leaning (for the love of god) was my main take away. Annie is plenty bold but as LT said we are a teeter totter. If I lean Annie does as well and then we end up with a huge flat stride approaching the jumps. LT had a lot of other insights for me but I am going to have to break them down into separate posts. We wrapped up with a super confident school through a novice water question and prepped for the next day. Poplar-RiverBirchTeam-26It is no secret that dressage is a struggle for us. I went from riding a horse that was literally top 3 after dressage to a horse that is almost always in last place after our test. Annie is unlike any horse that I have ridden and obviously is my first truly green one off the track (even though not actually raced). She is very very smart and sensitive and while we have made leaps and bounds in our training we have so far to go. I will Poplar-RiverBirchTeam-30That said when we were warming up I was not sure how our test would go. She was pretty well behaved but normally the nerves in the arena have me riding her like a motorcycle with the wheels falling off. She totally surprised me and kept her thinking cap on. I was very nervous though and did some bad geometry and almost forgot my test (apparently a theme for the day but more on that later) but she rocked. Obviously nothing was perfect but we scored a 38.25 for an almost 10 pt improvement on our score from Feather Creek. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish this year. Poplar-RiverBirchTeam-96Stadium unfortunately left a lot to be desired and while I was able to ride it I apparently couldn’t ride and remember all of the jumps simultaneously which resulted in a TE. I could have run XC but as we schooled all of the jumps on Friday I opted to save her for another day rather than run a weird course with 12 jumps since we couldn’t place anyways. Poplar-RiverBirchTeam-102I ended up with a layover at LT’s barn Saturday night and a couple of training rides but more on that later this week. Did you guys have eventful weekends too?



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Pre Show Emotional State

img_1636.jpgAs I prep for the weekend of awesome that is about to happen in GA with Lauren and Gus I find myself going through a few different stages of emotion. My recent rides have left a bit to be desired. I don’t know if I am getting nervous and it is rubbing off on Annie or what but I think this might be the first time with Annie that I dread stadium more than dressage. Cross country is still my favorite phase which this time last year wouldn’t have been the case either!

When I think about dressage:

  • I think we will look this way – crazygiraffe
  • I feel this way – scared

When I think about stadium:

  • I think we will look this way – girafferunning
  • I feel this way – anxiou sheldon

When I think about cross country:

  • I think we will look this way – unicorn
  • I feel this way – celebrate loveher

And then I remember that it’s going to be what it is going to be and I need to just kick on no matter what the dragon throws me! What kind of feelings do you guys have in the days leading up to competitions?

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Weekend Wrap Up: Bear

This weekend our sweet Bear turned 1 year old! In addition to that I got to jump my friends young Berlin stallion. OMG so fun! He has a rocking horse canter and is a total blast to ride. Getting to ride him reminded me why I need to ride a variety of horses. Annie has a very very different way of going and if I want to continue to improve as a rider I need to get out of my comfort zone. You might be thinking that I own a variety of horses but since one isn’t under saddle and the other doesn’t jump I am not getting much experience on other horses over fences.

How often do you guys get to ride different horses? Try to do it as often as you can or stick to what you know?

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Sales Horse PSA

I was going to tell you guys about my exciting weekend today but first I wanted to share a couple of awesome ginger horses that are for sale. One petite mare and a very solid gelding! If you know anyone if the market please let me know and I can pass it on to the owners.

First up is Annie’s full sister! She is 6 this year, stands 15.2hh, and retired from racing in Sept 2016. She has been restarted lightly and is being used in some novice lessons. She is RRP eligible and if she is half the star that my sweet nanners is you won’t want to miss out! Asking price $2,500.Next up is the 14yo Wunderstern. This big loveable gelding lives at the barn that I board at. I can personally attest to just how much of a gentle giant this horse is. He is a true steady eddy and is the same horse on and off farm, with and without regular work. He is schooling first level dressage and has show experience in dressage, hunters, and jumpers. At 17.2hh he could be suitable for a taller than average rider but I have easily piloted him around and he even gives pony rides! Check out his ad here for more information. Asking price $9,500.If you or someone you know might be interested please let me know. Happy Monday!


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Should vs Could

As we approach our first outing of the year I have started to lose my nerve a bit. My confidence was a bit shaken after stadium at Feather Creek. Annie’s tendency to turn into a dragon when she doesn’t get her way over fences lately hasn’t really helped and after last nights jump school I decided to drop down to BN for the schooling show coming up – fingers crossed the show secretary can drop me down a division.This is where a bit of Should vs Could comes in. I know that Annie can handle the height and questions of novice. I know that I can also handle it. We “could” do it. But should we as our first event out in 2017? Annie has her entire career ahead of her. In the grand scheme of things me doing BN instead of N at a schooling show in February makes literally no difference in what we will accomplish this year. I feel relatively certain that even if she is schooling training I won’t be piloting her around a training course come the end of the year. What it will mean is that instead of having a pit in my stomach about the show I now know that regardless of how much of a dragon Annie wants to be I could legitimately make her trot every single fence if I have to.  How often do we face these should vs could intersections? Last night I certainly hit one and I have been over analyzing the decisions I made that got me to the point where I really just wanted to get off and wave a white flag. She dragon deer jumped one too many times and then we ended up popping over a teeny cross rail and doing some lateral work until the gerbils got back on the wheels of her brain. She was so belligerent about moving off my left leg that I had to stop and question could she think its time to come in season? Maybe she’s being a wretch because of the weather changes? Then I debated just getting off because honestly it was one of those rides where I wondered why I even got on in the first place. I try to focus on the positives of riding a green horse but the fact is that it is hard. I wouldn’t give Annie up for anything but I do sometimes wonder where I would be at with my riding if I had a made horse. Wouldn’t it be nice to get on a horse that had actually done more than I had before? I haven’t had that feeling in a long time – never on my own horse – and certainly never while eventing. What must it feel like to move up a level and think “horse has got this – he/she knows the job”. Annie takes care of me don’t get me wrong but its a big case of the blind leading the blind and I always beat myself up when things don’t go as well as they could have. In the end I know that while we could do it we shouldn’t. Have any of you guys been having the should vs could internal debate lately? If so what about?

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