Weekend Wrap Up: XC Schooling and Bell Boots

I did a thing last week and entered my first recognized HT of the year. Naturally I proceeded to fall off during a jump school the next day(why can I not SIT BACK!!!) and then had a huge pit in my stomach for cross country schooling on Saturday. I had a fall a few years back where Houston literally slid out from under me due to a sloppy arena. I was fine but since then I have a mild panic attack any time I ride on slick footing. It stormed all night on Friday so the footing at our schooling venue was less than ideal. The bright side was that the water complex was nice and full, the weather was unbeatable, and the company was perfect!

Thankfully minus being exceptionally full of herself Annie was a trooper and we had a good outing. She was able to literally pull through my nervous moments. We schooled most of the fences that were Novice height and due to the terrain it felt like way more than that! I want to get back out next weekend so that we can have one last confidence boosting school before we head to the KHP in April.

The only casualty of the day was one of Annie’s four bell boots. Yes you read that right – she gets to wear double bell boots due to her ninja shoe pulling abilities. I had never heard of this plan before my current farrier but it works for us. For now I just plan to buy stock in bell boots because while we shoot less shoes off it still stinks when she pulls a whole boot off while schooling. She wears a Weaver Rubber Bell Boot on the bottom and then I layer a Ribbed Bell Boot on the top. Pulling them on and off is kind of a pain but it keeps my farrier from making what I call “bonus” trips down here (he doesn’t live in TN). No hoof no horse and no farrier no hoof! Did any of you have fun adventures this weekend? Or on the bell boot front anyone have a brand of Velcro bell boots that are super durable? I would love to be able to have one pull on and one Velcro instead of double pull ons.


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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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Bama and Chatt

Last week after realizing I had today off I started trying to scheme up places to take Annie to get our first XC school of the year in. One of my good friends lives in AL not too far from Chatt Hills Eventing so it was a no brainer to go there. My main goal was to get off the farm and over some novice jumps since we hadn’t schooled or run XC since Feather Creek in October. Now, I’m not a very superstitious person but I casually mentioned that I had never had my vest blow up on me… Well little did I know that was about to change.  Note to self – don’t talk about anything negative before riding. If you have never been to CHE you are missing out. It is a seriously gorgeous facility that was clearly well thought out. We warmed up and then I got to ride the red dragon to her first XC fences of the new year. She was excited to say the least. We actually had to have a little conversation about not running through my hands to go flying over little tad pole fences. I’m going to go back to the drawing board on bits because even a snaffle will be harsh if I’m having to beg her to come back to planet earth after the fences. Trot, jump, trot, halt, repeat. After a few attempts she caught on to the “you will be rewarded if you aren’t a dragon” thing and then we were in business.

XC Schooling @ Chatt Hills 1.15.17 from Hillary McMichael on Vimeo.

As we started stringing stuff together she settled in though and got down to business. When we were making our second attempt to the novice bank question things went wrong. Before I knew it Annie was tripping and felt like she might go down. Somehow she did save it on the top of the bank but I however was not so athletic and ended up becoming a lawn dart. If you event and don’t have an air vest I would think about getting one. I landed flat on my back and got right up and honestly felt fine. Today is a different story but I really think I probably would be in much worse shape if I hadn’t been wearing it. As I landed I felt pretty sure I was going to be stepped on. Not when your horse is a little ginger freak though! K mentioned that she literally attempted to jump away from me and the video, that is too painful to share, supports that theory. Bottom line is that Sit Back Or Die is not a suggestion but a rule. I feel pretty confident that if I had a more solid back seat position I probably wouldn’t have gone shooting off her shoulder when things got a little hairy.

We walked her around and made sure she wasn’t hurt before I hopped back on so we could end on some good notes.

Annie was not messing around when we came back to the BN bank to make sure our confidence wasn’t destroyed and took care of us like the good little mare that she is. A few years ago a fall like that would have had me in tears and never wanting to event again. I can’t believe how much the past year and a half with Annie has changed that for me. I’m attempting not to get too mushy but a horse with this much heart really makes me feel like I can conquer the world and for that she is worth her weight in gold.

In hindsight I probably should have opted not to school the novice bank again after the first attempt went so swimmingly but the plan was to try to string a little 6 jump course together… best laid plans. I will leave you with the above awesome sauce shot of Annie dominating the B element of the novice bank question. Here’s to not getting hurt and the amazing little mare that made eventing fun for me again.

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Weekend Wrap Up: Soak It Up

Today Kyle and I are Cali bound! This weekend I was able to get in my last ride of 2016. As always Annie did not disappoint. I am constantly amazed by how willing she is and just how hard she always tries for me over fences. No matter how badly I ride she takes the wheel and carts my butt around. Not all people can say that about their young horses. I am so lucky to have such a talented and kind mare as my own. Luna got some QT of a different variety with lots of scratches and some treats. I can’t wait to see my family but I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t miss my girls. 

Saturday I was able to wear short sleeves and Sunday I was freezing my butt off. TN weather has some mood swings and I am excited for a 2 week reprieve!

Luna’s face says it all though – winter get outta here! Cali here we come!Do any of you guys have holiday travel plans?

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Weekend Wrap Up: YHS Finals 2016

After showing at Tryon this summer I have been itching to get back. I considered trying to go for ATC at the AEC’s but I am glad that I didn’t as the courses were kind of a let down and the footing on XC seemed somewhat questionable.

Last year my BO brought her Berlin stallion to the YHS to participate and since then I have been wanting to go myself. As I mentioned on Friday the series has a pretty cool concept and I definitely want to participate in the future. As the date drew closer and I did more research on the series I started to experience serious FOMO. I did what any reasonable crazy horse person would do and decided to drive down to Tryon to spectate last minute. I even scored free Spy Coast Farm swag in return! There were other sponsors offering items to spectators and participants as well.

My first impression was how cool! I loved getting to see horses by stallions that I have been ogling at for months. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to meet such a diverse group of people with shared interests.

I was a bit frustrated to find out that the show was in fact open to Thoroughbreds and non warmblood breeds as I definitely would have brought Annie to participate. She also would have slayed in the Saturday Night Lights Derby – though I probably would have needed to find someone else to ride her!

A little derby ish action at TIEC tonight!

A post shared by Hillary M. (@equestrianathart) on

Sunday morning was finals day and I was really interested to see how all of the horses would get scored. They changed the judging protocol this year and I am not sure it was for the better. In concept it sounded interesting but I still think that having each judge score independently and possibly averaging the total or the score for each movement would have been more telling.

My only complaint  would be that the judging on Sunday for the finals seemed all over the place. There were horses that were amazing getting low scores and then horses that couldn’t even get through the jump chute without creating a yard sale getting comparable scores. It seemed like mid day the judges got really generous and were handing out 9’s and 10’s left and right. Then we returned from the lunch break and everyone was getting 7’s and 8’s. I like the idea of having a variety of background in the judging but I was definitely left feeling really bewildered.

Margie Engle and I basically ride the same horses…


All in all I really liked the Young Horse Show series experience. I think that it gives breeders/ owners the opportunity to get their horses out there in an affordable setting while receiving input from some incredible people. Spectators and participants got to see horses from a variety of backgrounds and breeding.

I will definitely plan to return.

Did you all have fun weekends?

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Weekend Wrap Up: Pony Swap and Waterlogging

Boarding at a pretty small semi private facility limits my access to other rides a bit but that didn’t stop a bunch of us from doing a swap! I am really pleased that Annie has turned into such a solid citizen this past year! I ended up finally getting to ride the resident drool-worthy 5yo Berlin stallion and Annie actually ended up with 2 different riders on Friday night. It is pretty funny to me how you can know a horse and imagine how he will feel and then ride said horse and it is so much different than you expected (even better!). I hope to scam my way into more rides on the handsome devil! While I was waiting on Annie to dry so that I could clip her baby Luna had to get a bath… Let’s just add “tolerates bathing” to the list of things that I take for granted… I am not sure when she will forgive me for this despicable experience – just kidding. Patience went a long way and after she got used to the sound of the hose the she was standing like a little pro. I need to try to bathe her or at least hose her off as much as possible before it gets too cold as it will be much harder to wrangle her as she gets bigger. Lots of treats will be required to get rid of that side eye! Any tips besides the obvious to get her to be more enthusiastic about bath time?Did you all have any big plans this past weekend?

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Introducing Luna

It is no secret that I have had a bit of baby fever lately. Of the equine variety. An ankle chip, a horse sold out form under me, a fractured sesamoid, and a stifle ocd lesion later (read lots of failed PPE’s) I finally found the well bred jumper filly prospect I have been looking for.

Enter Luna (Laguna Star) a 2016 filly by Big Star and out of a Douglas VDL x Zeus mare. I got to name her which was incredibly frustrating but also awesome. I wanted to incorporate something to do with Big Star but it needed to start with an L for this years KWPN foal class. Laguna Star seemed suitable as Kyle and I were married in Laguna Niguel!

I have to say that I am pretty excited to own a Big Star filly for obvious reasons but also because as of now he isn’t widely available in the US so Luna is one of the few fillies here. Definitely a gamble though as overall there aren’t many Big Star offspring on the ground yet it seems.


Luna’s dam is actually for sale if anyone is looking. She is a 2009 VDL mare and is green broke and sound but has been used exclusively for breeding the past few years.

Luna has the cutest nose freckles, four white socks, and should be quite the little jumper. She wasTime will tell though.

So far I am just getting to know her. The next 2-3 years she will get to do a lot of hanging out and growing up. I hope to take some pages from Alanna‘s book and get her exposed to all sorts of stuff before she is ready to be saddle broke. I will definitely plan to take her to a KWPN-NA keuring next year to be inspected. Her breeder did not do that this year due to proximity. I also hope to participate in the Young Horse Show Series down the road.

What are things that you all like to do with baby horses while you wait for them to grow up?

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Weekend Wrap Up: Good Bad Ugly

This weekend was a mixed bag of emotions. There were 2 exams done. One okay and one was a total downer. I am happy to say that for now it appears that Annie is fine. The vet will be coming back out to evaluate her under tack but it seems as though this is a training issue not lameness.

Unfortunately this means that the PPE that I had done on an adorable BWP filly this weekend did not go so swimmingly.

fractured sesamoid anyone?

I went to Aiken fully anticipating to be bringing home a new jumper prospect. I found something bred well, that moved well, and free jumped beautifully as well. I thought that I was going to a well respected breeder and that I would be treated as such but much to my disappointment that was not the case. I have never been so insulted by the seller of a horse. I will post about this in more detail but there is a new breeder on the top of my toxic waste list…

On the bright side because I drove through Atlanta on this adventure I was able to make last minute dinner plans with Lauren and Eric. Blogger friendships for the win. I can’t wait to meet up with Lauren and Gus next season at horse shows and hopefully more clinics! Annie got a flat ride from a barn pal on Saturday and I love getting reports that while green she was good and willing. Feels pretty good to have a (mostly) solid citizen baby horse. 2 days gone and Annie’s stupid scratches reared it’s ugly head again. Thankfully the horses just switched from night turnout so hopefully now that she wont be standing in the morning dew we will be able to nip this in the bud. Last but not least Annie and I had our final cross country school before Feather Creek. She was a BEAST. I still want to play around with our tack set up as I am not the happiest with what we are currently going around in. I cannot wait to get there but have to say I am pretty bummed that Amanda and Henny won’t be able to come anymore. I do get the next best thing as Bobby is still going to be there which means trunk tent city is still on and there will surely still be fun cross country walks! Steph how far is Feather Creek from you??

Did you all have exciting weekends?


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Weekend Wrap Up: XC Schooling PWP

This weekend a fellow boarder and I went cross country schooling at a local park. My main objective was to school over some novice height obstacles. I try to set a plan for schooling but with a green horse main objective is always to keep things positive. Primarily I wanted to school some hanging/airy jumps (before tackling the one I built) and to get Annie into another water complex. The rest of it was just for me to help mentally prepare for our move up in October. Annie did not disappoint which should come as no surprise though!

She was very confident and while we have been showing both over fence phases in a simple full cheek I might have to add a little more brakes because sassy pants thought it would be fun to gallop everything or land with a firecracker up her butt.

I didn’t get pictures of most of the stuff we schooled so here are some pics that I snatched off CourseWalk. We schooled almost all of the novice fences and even some training. How did I get so freaking lucky guys?

novice boat house PWPWhile schooling the water complex I asked Annie to drop into and jump out of the water. I thought it would be fun to go over a fence in the water and while this jump wasn’t water on take off and landing it gave me confidence that that question wont be an issue for Annie.
novice cabin PWPPWP has house jumps for days and Annie will jump them all!novice pole? PWP We were also able to jump a combination type question (not very close honestly) with the weird log jump above before getting to the chevron ramp below. novice chevron ramp PWPThe photo below shows the BN and N hanging logs. It is HUGE for me that when we were warming up over a set of 3 logs I worked my way up to the training log below and didn’t think twice about it.novice hanging log PWPI kind of assumed it was Novice and that the other smaller versions were starter and Beginner Novice. training suspended log PWP Apparently Annie isn’t the only one that has gotten braver. The logs were super inviting and it was no big deal at all to progress to the T level version of the fence. Though as mentioned above I did assume it was Novice before getting home and scoping out CourseWalk – there were no numbers up.
novice lattice PWP novice lobster roll PWP novice log cradle PWPnovice stone wall PWPMy favorite jump of the day was definitely the big training table below. When Annie cantered up to that beast like it was NBD I knew that she was loving life. She cemented that thought when we landed and she playfully started to buck.
training table PWPHow do you guys decide when its time to move up? I have never competed above Beginner Novice in eventing but I am always curious how fellow eventers (and trainers) determine when is the right time to move up.

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Weekend Wrap Up: Unlocked

This weekend had frustrating moments and glorious aha moments. On Saturday I had a lesson with ET that was so frustrating I wanted to cry. I have mentioned it before but for some reason in lessons and at shows we cannot pickup the right lead to save our lives. At home that is still the weaker lead but I rarely miss a transition. That makes it even more nerve wracking when we miss 8/10 transitions in our lessons lately. We wrapped up Saturdays lesson with a good transition but it left me a little down because it feels like when I get them it is more luck than accuracy. ET and I decided it would be a good move to have a lesson on Sunday as well in order to build on the previous days work. HALLELUJAH people we finally nailed down the issue. Because I wasn’t doing anything significant with my body that could be pinpointed it was very difficult for ET to instruct me on what to change.

Baby horses love baths… (not) 

Then he suggested sitting deeper in my inside seat bone, lengthening my inside leg – keeping it at the girth but not blocking, and lightly pushing into the canter with my left leg and what do you know we got the transition every time.

I also think that it helped that I decided to ride in my dressage saddle again. I had been riding Annie exclusively in my jump saddle because originally the dressage saddle was tipping me on her but now that she has evened out some the dressage saddle allows me to use my body much more effectively on the flat. I guess we will see if this trend of good transitions continues to this coming weekends lessons. For the first time in weeks I feel like we are finally making good progress on the flat. Such is the life of green horses!

On a totally unrelated note as I finally invested in a truck tent for horse show camping (thanks Amanda) and because I anticipate being alone 90% of the time I wanted to find a way to have a bed on one side and room for changing on the other… I got sucked into this rabbit hole and somehow ended up buying this stupid blue thing and now I am out $ and still need to find something to sleep on because it is literally a hole that you fall into and it doesn’t stay inflated…

Any campers have cot or air mattress recommendations?

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