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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Developing Eye

img_1658.jpgI posted last week about my DIY jump stick and a few weeks before that about using wine bottles as a unit of measure. This week I have been thinking about how you develop your eye. What I mean when I say that is knowing how tall a jump is without having to measure – or knowing about what a certain height should look like. Above you can see that Game Time MS is jumping the bejesus out of a 4′ jump.img_1666.jpg

Practice makes perfect comes to mind but I think there are also ways that you can easily determine how big something is – especially when you train yourself to recognize how tall most standards are – 4′, 5′, or 6′. Almost all of the standards at the barn I board at are 5′ tall with a few 4′ thrown in there. This means that the top hole is 5′ and it is relatively easy to figure out what height you are setting by understanding that each hole is 3″. Luckily this is transferable to almost all standards and now I am getting a bit better at gauging pictures as well – with exceptions because sometimes the description just doesn’t match.

  • 5′ – Top Hole
  • 4’9 – 2nd Hole
  • 4’6 – 3rd Hole
  • 4’3 – 4th Hole
  • 4′ – 5th Hole
  • 3’9 – 6th Hole
  • 3’6 – 7th Hole
  • 3’3 – 8th Hole
  • 3′ – 9th Hole

A 4′ standard makes a 2’6 jump look bigger than a 5′ standard and vice versa. I normally try not to focus too much on how high the jump is but since I school alone so often I have to make sure that I am setting to height so that I am not just schooling 2’6-2’9 at home and then floored when the jumps are set for competition at Novice height.

I think it is important to keep in mind that most standards are drilled for 3″ increments and not meter heights so referencing the above chart you might be an inch or so off occasionally. Novice is 2’11 or .9M and I have been trying to more consistently school 3′ at home this month.I need to break free of the grid though and see how we do back over a course at height again since our first show of the year is in 2 weeks and we haven’t been out since Feather Creek in October. In a magical fairytale land I would have the money to give a pro the ride on Annie and see if she could do the YJC 5yos but I certainly won’t be piloting her over 1.20m anytime soon so that probably isn’t going to be happening. A girl can dream though!

How have you guys developed your eye? Do you know how tall your standards are? Do you just let your trainer set the jumps and go for it?

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DIY Colored Spurs

For the past few months colored spurs seem to be popping up all over. I myself even ordered Covesca rainbow spurs a few weeks ago because they were on sale… Because rainbow. That said I wanted a pair of navy spurs to add to my tool kit. I however refuse to pay $50 to have my own spurs painted and so the idea of painting my own came to life.

One trip to Lowes and $6 later I was ready to go. I found just the right color blue in a can of cobalt blue metallic rustoleum spray paint. If blue isn’t your jam there are a variety of other colors to choose from. I only chose Rust-Oleum as I knew this brand to be long lasting and it had the blue I wanted.Before you get started I would recommend having a pair of gloves handy and picking a safe place to spray your spurs. I used the gloves to pick my spurs up (by expanding my fingers inside the spur – didn’t want to risk messing up any pant by touching the outsides/ visible parts). A reader mentioned that she had strung her spurs up. I think this sounds brilliant and should definitely be tried!

  • Place spurs on flat clean area
  • Spray light coat on both sides
  • Wait for spurs to dry between each side and coat
  • Spray heavy “wet” coat to both sides
  • Let Dry
  • Spray with Chipguard
  • Enjoy

When painting them I had a couple panic moments because I was not trying to have some crazy bright blue spurs. Thankfully as they dried they became a nice deep blue that was closer to the navy that I was aiming for. Bottom line is that if you have been wanting colored spurs but without the hefty price tag you should try this! I would definitely do it again! Time will tell how they wear but even if I have to reapply the paint every so often they would still be a deal. Next time I want to find a cool matte finish! What DIY projects have you guys taken on? Any hacks to save money and still have a fun item you’ve been eyeing?

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Green Bean Coaster

Riding green horses is a lot like riding a really bumpy roller coaster. One day you are on top of the world and the next you can feel like you are in some kind of horror movie. Annie is definitely one that can throw you from a super high to a super low in a matter of minutes.

Jumping this funny creature literally makes me feel like I can do anything. Flatting said creature makes me want to simultaneously cry and die at times. After our last HT in October we started making breakthroughs. Annie started to become more consistent in transitions and she started to accept a more reliable contact (aka I started to ask for it with my leg on). That said I haven’t been able to schedule a lesson for literally months and haven’t really seen myself ride either. Video is your friend people. I am amazed by the things that I do and am not realizing until I see them in videos or pictures. Until I can get more regular lessons and my SoloShot arrives I plan to prop up my phone whenever I can.

That said when I look back to where I was just a year ago I cannot believe how far Annie has come. She is now the horse I don’t hesitate to let a 9yo get on, hop on after weeks of minimal riding, and I know that at the drop of the hat I can throw her on the trailer for a fun adventure. It is easy to get caught in the ruts when things aren’t progressing as you would like with a green horse but it is so important to be able to look back on your progress and recognize the small wins! Anyone else feel this way? It is an adventure but I wouldn’t trade the past year with Annie for anything!

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Rider Review: Do or Do Knot Rope Halters

I have now had my Do or Do Knot Rope Halters for a few months and I have to say that I love them. When Houston was a young twerp he lived in a rope halter as I felt that it gave me a bit more leverage without being as harsh as a chain. I hated having to tie it though and always went back to a normal halter. I started looking around last fall for a more convenient rope halter and found this brand among all of the other crazy priced options.

Price: $16 to $40 (basic no hardware all the way to a wrapped noseband, side pull rings, a crown snap, and a breakaway tab)

img_0292-1.jpgReview: When I saw the Do or Do Knot had rope halters with snaps AND breakaway tabs I knew I wanted one. Houston still sometimes needs a little extra reminder that he is not a big goofy dog on the end of a leash. I also was really intrigued by the option to be able to use the halter as a side pull. Lindsey, the creator, offers great customer service and worked with me to get the right sizing for each of my horses. Bonus is that the crown of these halters is somewhat adjustable so I can make my black halter work for Luna as well as Annie.

Another thing that I think is awesome is that you can choose from a variety of colors and size options to get the halter that works best for you. Additionally these halters are made with a really high quality rope that is smooth and comfortable for your horse.

img_2469Bottom Line: If you like rope halters but prefer the convenience and safety of a traditional halter you should check out Do or Do Knot. My halters have been very abused and hose off great. Not fancy but for a rope halter I think they are a great option!

Do you guys have halter types and brands you really prefer?


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Harebrained Idea

My barn owners always joke that they made me sign two liability waivers… I am not crazy really… But I do make my horses deal with a lot. Well adjusted citizens people – that’s what our horses should be!img_0071.jpg

Sometimes that is getting on my then 4yo TB bareback or getting on Houston bareback with halter. Other times might be when I attempted to plank on Annie – honestly not sure why that was even a thing I wanted to try.img_2469

Last fall I really wanted to teach my horses to go with a neck rope. I jimmy rigged my own by attaching the hook end of a rein to its own buckle and off we went. With tack and a bridle – I don’t have an immediate death wish! With Houston going to AL and show season wrapping up for Annie and then the holidays the idea went onto the back burner.

Then a few weeks ago Amanda shared a picture of Henny wearing his neck rope from Reins for Rescues and the idea sprang back to my mind. I finally made the purchase when Kristen sent me a coupon code she saw on instagram.

It will be slow going and who knows if I will ever be ballsy enough to actually lose the bridle but I am looking forward to getting my Navy R4R neck rope! Have any of you guys trained your horses to do bridleless? If so how long did that take for you to be comfortable?

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