Sunday, May 29, 2016


Horse show life is expensive.  I knew that, but it's been awhile.  I guess I needed a reminder.  With our three day show barreling at me at full throttle, my checkbook is starting to whine.  Why do I have to have such an expensive addiction?  Should have gone for crack.

So I had to do some budgeting.  In order to do that, I had to make a list of priorities.  Like most riders, I have a very long list of wants.  There's always some bit of equipment/clothing/tack that I feel like I need.  Not want, need.  However, the budget doesn't support this list.  So what's a real need and what's a want?

Actual Needs to Show Dressage:

1)  Horse that is appropriate to the work.

2)  A safe place to keep said horse.

 So much grass to eat
3)  Food and care for said horse.
Very check.

Biggest stall in the barn because he's a princess

4)  A saddle that is professionally fitted to the horse. 
Check.  Two times.

Such an amazingly comfortable saddle

5)  A bridle that fits with an appropriate bit.
Check.  And stylin'.

He woke up like this

6)  A safe place to ride

Safe enough for me to feel comfortable being a dingbat

7)  A trainer appropriate for desired level.
Check check.

Sorry teach, only picture I have

8)  A show appropriate outfit including helmet
Check.  Bland, but check.

We clean up nice

9)  Appropriate support crew (farrier, vet, massage therapist, chiro, saddle fitter)
Check.  So many checks.

That sound is my paycheck whizzing out the window

10)  A way to get to the shows

Road trip!

So . . . I guess I don't need anything.  What a bizarre, somewhat horrifying thought.  I don't need anything.  Which means that my budget shouldn't be focused on getting stuff.  Ugh.  I don't like that much.  I want to buy stuff.  But I don't need it.

But what it does mean is that my highest priority should be my training.  That is the most important check right now.  Training and board, no cutting corners there.  I thought about cutting down to one lesson a week, but that's a bad idea.  My training is my biggest investment.  Then my show budget, since that's most of what we need as a pair.  We need show miles.  Then the massage therapist, supplements, chiro, saddle fitter, all of the extras a performance horse needs.  And finally, assuming anything is left (HA!), comes the stuff.  The blingy browbands, the fancy new saddle pads, the set of Baker blankets to use for away shows.  All of that has to go to the bottom of the list, since I don't actually need any of it.  I need to get Theo in more dressage rings.  I need more position lessons.  I don't need new flatwork boots.

I'm not enjoying this adult decision making stuff very much.  I want to buy sparklies!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Slow and steady

It's 90* out today with a heat index of 95*.  For anyone that's curious, yes, that is absolutely bonkers for May in New Hampshire.  Especially when I was wearing sweatshirts right up through April.  I don't think Mother Nature is drunk anymore.  I think she's on 'shrooms.

Between the weather and me fighting off some cruddy health, our lesson consisted of a walk through the woods, up the hill, and back to the barn.  Trainer A took Baby Pony and we just relaxed.  That was enough to get poor papi covered in sweat.  He's still shedding out, as evidenced by the shovel full of hair that I got off of him today.  I'm so glad I decided to clip him or he would not have survived today.  I'll have to remember that for next year.  Spring clipping is a thing Theo has to have.

As much as the weather, work, and my health has been making me grouchy and throwing me off from my hard core performance horse training bit, it's probably a good thing.  Theo doesn't want me to buckle down and really hammer the dressage lessons home. Frankly, Theo doesn't want to do anything that doesn't involve a lot of food and the occasional roll followed by a good session with a curry comb or massage therapist.

Theo's favorite thing

Theo does enjoy his work days now.  He understands that effort is rewarded with pats and cookies, so he's willing to put in that effort.  He's put on enough muscle and fitness that working for an hour isn't overly difficult so he's willing to do it in exchange for praise and sugar.  That doesn't mean he looks forward to doing this stuff.  It just means that he enjoys the work more than his other options, like having someone flopping on him and using his mouth as a balance point.  He's strong enough that he feels good when he lifts and carries himself with power.  He gets a pleasant feeling from the work and he's encouraged to show off.  So long as we can keep it so that it feels good and he associates the work with rewards, we'll be able to keep going forward.

I have to make sure I don't fall into the trap of schooling hard day in and day out.  Theo's the type of horse that will tell me where I can stick it.  Violently.  Today he was a trail pony and he enjoyed that.  Tomorrow the heat is supposed to break and I'm planning on going out for a hard canter on the trails.  I think I'll request a jumping lesson for Tuesday .  I'm not going to get anywhere with that correct flex right if he hates the fact he's going in the ring again.  Time to mix it up.

It's not like it's a race.  We have years to get that shoulder in straightened out and get that lengthen turned into a medium.

 Still riding turtle style

We'll leave the stretchy circle tune up for another couple days.  His hair can look wild and wooly for another week.  The jump saddle is looking awfully dusty.  I think it's time to fix that.  Our right lead canter will still be there next week.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cough syrup

And now, just for fun, I'll post while on cough syrup.

It's been awhile.  After our grand debut with the broncing at C and some satin (and that all important 65%), I ended up taking some time off.  It wasn't really planned, but with a work conference the next weekend that had me in Boston and the hubby having to fly to Baltimore short notice for work stuff, I wasn't home much.

Theo didn't mind.  He taught some lessons, got a massage, and in general enjoyed a week of little work and a lot of grass.

I came back and spent my first lesson trying to figure out how to, I don't know, ride?  Theo was a bit cross about having to actually work and I couldn't seem to remember how to post.  Fortunately Trainer A was mostly amused by our combined fail and let us flail about.  Last night was much better.  Mi papi was ready to get back to real work and I could actually stay on top.

To be honest, it was one of those rides where I remember how far he's come.  I was riding with my adult ladies and we were weaving through traffic with leg yield, some baby half passe, and shoulder in.  Lateral has become so natural for him, he just steps over, no big deal.  Still stickier off the left than the right, but it's more about insisting as opposed to a real fight.  I sat the trot, put him in a shoulder in, insisted he not be a giraffe, then did a 10m circle and a lengthen.  It was one of those moments where he almost popped me off because I'm still not ready to sit the big trot consistently.

I love this horse.  He allows me to flail and have really bad days where he plops around and ignores me, then gives me enough power to almost put me in the dirt when I'm on my game.

He's not a 70% horse, never will be, but he's plenty fancy enough to keep me happy.  He also looks fantastic in bling.

I started coughing during my ride last night and Trainer A was sounding concerned.  It got worse through the night and this morning I'm quite drugged up.  Fortunately Theo has one of his packing a nervous adult around lessons tonight (he still does a couple for special cases) so I can stay home, force fluids, and try to get this kicked to the curb.  I'm supposed to be going to our next big show in three weeks, I don't want to lose another week to being sick.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Spring Show Pic Spam

 So civil, so well behaved

Might be fighting a bit to hang on to the circle on this one, but hey, he's bent the right way

 Theo meets his nemesis, the judge's booth

So pretty, so well behaved, and my elbows are in!

Walking out of the ring like a civilized horse and getting all of the love for his bravery

My copilot helping me braid up mi papi

I hate pictures of myself, but hey, it's not a bad one

This is going in the 'no, you are not getting me off today, get your giant behind over to F right now before I sell you for a plug nickel' file.  Yes, this is from our infamous first test.  It's the only one the photographer was willing to share.  I guess their are other ones that are worse.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Spring Show Day 3: Lessons learned

After the mixed results of our first two tests, I wasn't too terribly sure what I would get on our third day at the show.  Overnight the weather turned colder and very windy.  I woke up to a gale warning on my phone.  Great, that's always fun when there's a bunch of tents around.  Trainer A texted and said she wanted them both to do 20 minutes on the lunge first thing in the morning.  Sounded like a good idea with Theo raging about his continued incarceration and a cold, stiff wing blowing his butt around.

Then it was time for mucking and braiding.  I was setting up to braid when I got another text from Trainer A.  She wanted me on my sassy beast 1.5 hours before my ride time.  Ugh.  That completely threw off the planned time table for the morning!  Fortunately a friend showed up and helped get Theo ready while I finished braiding Miss Thang.

It turned out to be a good call, since Theo still had pent up energy.  He gave me a couple of good sized temper tantrums in the warm up ring.  It didn't help that the tents along the warm up area were trying to escape.  The entire NEDA tent was down and they were trying to gather it up while we were warming up.  We got sand blasted during the big gusts.  Theo really struggled to focus in the beginning with so much noise and motion all around him.  We ended up having the equivalent of a full lesson in warm up to get him focused and soft.  Then I moved him to the area for on deck horses to start the process over.

As soon as we walked over, all of ring 3 blew over sending the beautiful warmblood inside leaping from his ring, into ring 2 (fortunately empty at that time), out of ring 2, and veering off toward ring 1.  The very secure rider got him stopped before he managed to barge into the FEI test going on.  Then she bravely dismounted, let someone take her fire breathing dragon, and started laughing while we applauded. It was probably a 45 mph wind gust that sent ring letters tumbling into the woods.  Fortunately mi papi wasn't overly affronted by this and chilled while they reset the ring and got big rocks on the letters.  But that's how windy it was.

Theo was scared when it was his turn.  There was no one in ring 2 and very few horses in warmup.  He was all alone.  The L program was training judges and the tent they were in was billowing like a breathing beast full of people with rustling papers.  Rails were wiggling in the wind.  A runner kind of fell out of the judge's booth while we were walking up.  He completely froze at one point, heart pounding.  I stopped worrying about my test and swapped to survival mode.  I sat as deep as I could, wrapped my legs around him, and did everything I could think of to make him feel like it was going to be okay.

Theo - Training 3

What a brave baby.  Just one real spook and he recovered within seconds.  Trainer A liked this test the best of the weekend because it's the first time she's seen me actually ride in a dressage ring.  I was riding out of my head to get him around without a repeat of the broncing on Saturday.  And Theo responded.  We were cantering toward the judge's booth on the right lead and I felt him start to suck back.  I rode that canter hard and he decided to take my word for it and very bravely marched forward.  Now I know the ride we need for days like this.

After that very brave ride, I scratched him from his second test.  He was completely wiped, mentally and physically.  So was I.  The wind wasn't going anywhere and it was time to go home.

He learned everything there was to learn for the weekend, so no point in ruining his great accomplishment by sending him back in while that tired.  We now know a lot more about what Theo needs at an away show and how to manage him when his ring is just terrifying to him.  Most importantly, he finished all three tests with numbers, not letters.  Perfectly respectable numbers two times out of three.  He got his first qualifying score.  He got a 5th place ribbon in a class of eleven.  We got a lot of sevens and a lot of positive feedback.  Theo fits in beautifully at these shows, even if he's not a jaw dropping mover.  He looked content and happy at several points and I feel we can build off of that.

Last night he slept in the biggest stall in the barn.  Today, he and Miss Thang will be spending all day out in the Ritz being horses instead of show ponies.  I will be treating my sun burn and taking Advil.  Riding that much broncing in one weekend is hard on the muscles.  But it's a good ache.  First show is in the books.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Spring Show Day 2: Tale of Two Tests

Theo has been called Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde on many occasions.  Today he took it to the extreme. 

First test of the day was Training 2.  I tacked up and headed up to warm up, no big deal.  I noticed he was a bit edgy, but figured that was because the upper level horses were doing their big, powerful cantering and passaging and whatever else.  Little did I know that Miss Thang was screaming for him in the barns.  As we left warm up to go over to the area for on deck riders, he popped a couple of bucks and tried to barge out the gate to go home.  Huh, that was rude, but whatever.  I turned and sent him to finish warming up by his ring.

He was tense and distracted, turning his head toward the barns.  I thought I heard Miss Thang, but disregarded it as paranoia.  When it was our turn, he gave me some trouble about the judge's booth, but it seemed manageable.  I came down centerline, did my salute, and went to track right.  The wheels promptly came off.  I made the tent full of training judges inhale sharply at one point in my test because they thought he was going to get me off.  The judge was quite diplomatic in her comments.  The first obnoxious canter depart got me a 'too playful in transition'.  The next move was 'a little rude'.  Going from medium walk to working trot (when everyone winced and thought he had me), I got 'strong resist' and a 2.  Never gotten a 2 before.  Then a 3 for our canter right lead with a 'resistance' which was a polite way of saying 'attempted pirouette to escape terrifying judge booth'.

Final comment:  Horse not a team player today.  Rider handled a tough ride tactfully.

Submission score:  3

Final score:  54.4%

Well.  Okay then.

We went back to the warm up ring and Miss Thang was brought up by her teen so she'd quit screaming.  Someone's coming into heat.  Once she shut up, Theo was able to focus.  Fifteen minutes of work got us to the point we could take him down to the barn with a good last impression in his brain.  He got an hour off to chill and give me some time to come up with a new game plan.  Back up we went for test 2 of the day, our Training 3 test and the one we needed a 63% in to get our qualifying score.  This suddenly seemed an impossible task.

Miss Thang was riding right after us so no screaming from her.  Mi papi had worked himself down pretty well and with another 40 minutes of work in the warm up ring, he was ready to listen so I'd quit bugging him.  We went back into the ring to redeem ourselves.  The training judges braced themselves as we started to circle the ring.  Theo froze next to the judge's booth, peeking around to see who was inside.  The judge quipped 'I didn't bite you last time, you know'.  She rang the bell, I girded my loins, we marched down centerline.

Damn my life if the pony didn't decide to lay down a perfectly respectable trip.  He shied one time which got us a 4, but otherwise did very well.  He got six 7's and a comment about us being an elegant pair that handled the tension well.

Submission score:  6.0

Final score:  65.0%

Why couldn't he have done that the first time?!  I know he was barn bound and scared, but the bucking was quite obnoxious.  But since he didn't manage to rattle me or escape, he learned that he has to go in and march.  Even when there's no one around for support and the judge's booth is terrifying.  It's a good reminder that although he's been very honest for me, he's still a green bean at showing.  This is his first away show.  His second sanctioned show ever.  His first completed sanctioned tests.  Considering in his past they couldn't get him in the ring, this is a big win.

I am now sunburnt, coated in aloe vera, exhausted, eating ice cream, but accomplished.  That was our goal for the weekend, to get that first qualifying score.  We did it.  Just one more to qualify for regionals and our score tomorrow doesn't matter.  We can't get two qualifying scores at the same show.  Tomorrow is just practice for what kind of warm up he needs and  marching into the ring on the first try.  It's just extra miles for him.  Hopefully he'll remember what he did today and won't make me spend another day getting compliments about my excellent seat because my dressage horse didn't succeed in unloading me.

Though I don't really mind people being impressed by my riding.  I just wish it wasn't for my ability to be unrattled when my horse thinks the move is 'bronc hard at C'.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Spring Show Day 1: Setup

I'm sitting in the world's most adorable hotel room, downing Earl Grey tea like I'm the captain of the Enterprise (though I take mine with cream), and trying to make one last attempt at memorizing my tests.  I've ridden them each multiple times, but they are just not sticking.  It might be the physical exhuastion.  But why would I be exhausted when I haven't even shown yet?

 Seriously, so adorable, that's a closet and another bedroom with a bathroom across the hall

Could be the speed loading of the trailer so we could stay on schedule when it was hooked up all of fifteen minutes before we were supposed to depart.  I was rather proud of myself that I can still run uphill with a wheelbarrow full of stall supplies.  That nonsense is heavy!  But the important part was that we got everything on the trailer in a somewhat organized way, including the horses, only ten minutes late.  In barn time, that's a damn miracle.  We're were sweating, wheezing, and exhausted.  We hadn't even gotten to the show yet.

The two hour drive became three hours as a Masshole caused an 'incident' in the Callahan tunnel in Boston.  But since we were scheduled to show up right as stabling opened, that was more a blessing then a curse.  We cruised in at 2pm, found our stalls, and unloaded all of the stuff we'd just finished throwing on the trailer.  Miss Thang and mi papi thought this was a very neat outing and proceeded to munch on their hay while watching other horses arriving.

Checking out some fancy WB mare down the aisle

Once checked in with the secretary, we took the kids to check out the competition rings that were open for schooling.  Miss Thang lunged, then walked them in hand.  Theo walked them in hand, then schooled in the ring he's using tomorrow.  Despite the sirens, tent coming loose in the wind, tractor starting up, and general insanity of a three ring circus dressage show, he held it together.  I was quite proud of him for only having two spooks under saddle and both were justified and contained.  I startled at the big white tent pulling loose, too.  We only did about fifteen minutes under saddle.  It's going to be a long weekend, he needs to keep his energy up.

Back to bed for the kids.  Miss Thang got braided up since her first ride time is at 8:30am tomorrow and she takes forever to eat.  I lent her Theo's sleazy since she hates being braided and her mane is very difficult to tame.

This is what a humiliated mare looks like

Trainer A does not approve.  No one is telling Trainer R.

Theo's coping well with his first away show.  He was pretty irritated at night check to still be in a stall, but some extra hay and a short stroll around the stabling area seemed to soothe the savage beast.  Hopefully he'll lay down tonight and get a good night's sleep.  My teen copilot is already passed out cold in the next room.

As for me?  It's still hours until my usual bedtime.  I'll be drinking tea and surfing the internet for hours to come.  At least I get to sleep in till 5:30am tomorrow.  So luxurious.  That's why we pay extra for stabling and hotels.  So we can enjoy our weekend just that teeny bit more.

Tomorrow, we show!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Acceptable pain

Pain is a pretty individual concept.  What one person accepts as a Tuesday morning would send another person to the hospital.  For people involved in physical activities (like, oh, say riding), it's a given.  If you're going to train your body and try to increase your strength, it's going to hurt sometimes.  It's how your body tells you that your muscles are working harder than they're used to and you get friendly reminders to take it easy for a couple days.  Everyone that rides has had that morning where they wake up wishing there was no such things as stairs.

We were chatting about my position in my lesson yesterday.  I'm trying to learn to canter with my inside hip leading, but it's a challenge in several ways.  My flexibility in my left hip is hampered by my old injury and I'm still locking in the ability to sit all of the beats of the canter.  Doing something crazy like putting my inside hip forward takes so much brain space that I can't remember to do anything else.  This includes steering or sitting down.  Yes, I almost mowed Trainer A over while cantering around looking like a fool because I was focusing so hard on my hips I forgot to look up.  Thank you Theo for taking over when I didn't notice the jump standards.  This is why you're my partner.  You keep me alive when I'm being dumb.

While trying to catch my breath, my slimmer physique came up, specifically through my waist.  I don't think that's from weight loss.  I think that's from twice a week lessons that always end with me holding onto some part of my body going 'uggggh, that's going to suck tomorrow'.  Just as mi papi is learning to lift with his abs and hold it, I'm learning to manage my body instead of being a sack of potatoes.  No one told me how much strength it takes to sit down and manage your balance without clinging to your horse with your legs.  When I canter properly with my keister in the saddle for all three beats and the suspension, my abs burn.  My hips burn.  My lower back burns.  Laterals make my obliques ache.  Circles now make the hip flexor  thingies (I still don't know my muscle groups) beg for mercy after a couple reps.  Sure, my upper body and legs get in on the act sometimes, but it is always my core that aches after a lesson.

Trainer A was pleased by the mention of aching muscles after every lesson, but concerned that I would push myself too hard.  She didn't want me to do anything that would make me not want to ride or actually lay me up.  There are benefits to being an adult.  I now the difference between the kind of pain that comes with strength and the kind that comes with an injury.  My sore ankle?  That's getting babied through no stirrup work and dismounting with just one foot.  My abs?  Suck it up, cupcake.  At least it's not the two months of hip cramps that I got last summer when my stirrups were first dropped down.  That was awful when I couldn't sleep.  This kind of ache is almost amusing, at least for my husband.  When lifting a gallon of milk makes you hesitate and debate on how much you really want that milk, you know you've worked hard.

I know I've got another round of hip flexibility work coming up.  Trainer A's patience with my toes pointing out is coming to an end and Theo's now sensitive enough that I don't have an excuse to use anything but my calf.  I'm not looking forward to it.  It's an acceptable level of pain, but that doesn't mean I enjoy it.  At least it amuses the hubby.

Monday, May 9, 2016


Ever have one of those outings where you would swear there is a hex on it?  This weekend is becoming one of those outings.

My friend from the h/j barn that was going to trailer with us?  Day tripping it, so there's just two horses in the four horse trailer and just two of us in the two room hotel suite I arranged.  Normally we wouldn't even go, but with all of the entries in and the close date part of the past, it didn't make any sense to cancel.  So we're splitting the cost of a four horse between the two of us.  Ow.

I went into my closet and dug out my white breeches.  Way, way in the back I had some.  Guess what?  They don't fit anymore.  I'm down 9 pounds since this winter.  Dang it all.  White full seats are not cheap and I'm not sure when I'm going to have time to go get some more before this weekend.  Work insists that I actually work before I run off to my show.  My local shop caters to the h/j crowd and doesn't have much in white.  I may have to have Smartpak ship some to me overnight. Ugh.  And a new stock tie.  And new gloves.  Wait, didn't I have this stuff back in October?  I swear I did . . .

Today our groom backed out.  Seems she didn't clear her trip with her mom properly.  Missing school to groom for a horse show is a big deal when you're fourteen.  So now we have no groom.  And Trainer A won't be available until the afternoon of Saturday.  It's going to be me and the teen with the two horses at her first away show.

Fortunately my teen co-pilot in this madness is made of stern stuff and just shrugged it off.  It's still just one stall to clean for each of us and with such generous ride times, we'll be fine.  I only worry about warm up and having someone to pull boots and hand off stuff we drop or forget.  I did want a groom as a cushion since this is also the young lady's first recognized show ever.  I expect a bit of stage fright to kick in once she's looking at the big ring and I might be filling in as coach for her first test.     

Don't tell anyone, I love my amateur status.

But somehow, come hell or high water, we are going to this damn show.  Friday the 13th is a lucky day for me usually, so I'm still hopeful.  And then I look at the forecast.  Rain for both days?  At this point, bring it baby.  Just bring it.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Round peg, square hole

Trainer A really, really likes mi papi.  And he really, really likes her.  He'll go out of his way to go over to her when he's walking on a loose rein.  He likes to nudge her on the shoulder and remind her that he is amazing and needs adoration.  Trainer A loves cooing and fussing with him, rubbing his ears until he blisses out and telling him how clever he is.  It's really quite awesome to have a trainer that sees your horse the same way you do:  terribly flawed but terribly perfect for me.  She's seen me on about six horses and she always insists I go back to Theo.

Poor thing is stuck with me

During one of these random loving on Theo sessions, she finally said what I'd been thinking.  Theo's not an eventing prospect.  Physically, he would eat up the low level stuff and not even break a sweat.  Mentally, he doesn't enjoy it.  He enjoys structure and knowing what's going on.  He love, love, loves jumping in the ring.  He carries me forward with ears pricked and right on the bit.  He's never offered to attack a fence outside of the ring.  He's willing to take my word for it that it's safe, but he never takes the bit and never pushes forward.  He sucks back to get in that extra peek before going over.  His heart pounds with fear going into a jumping field and even his home jumping field takes him a couple of minutes to settle in.  Nope, mentally, mi papi does not have it.

Yesterday I mentioned this to someone that used to ride him and it went . . . interesting.  She gave me the 'don't give up, he's got just you now and he can learn, you should teach him, he's so talented, why wouldn't he event, he trusts you so much' followed by variations on how she would never want a horse that couldn't do a bit of everything.

Of course I hesitated.  I loved going Novice with Fi.  It was such a high to open that horse up over fences we were both completely confident over.  I know Theo would bang around at that level and with his dressage training, I could finally have the dressage scores to back it up.  I have daydreamed of taking him to UNH at Beginner Novice.  He really does have all of the talent necessary to be a very successful low level eventing horse.  Part of me misses the adrenaline, the rush.

A certain mare that always looked like it was Christmas morning when she was on cross country

This might be the biggest lesson Fi gave me:  Don't shove a round peg into a square hole.  It's not a lot of fun for the peg.  Denny Emmerson recently wrote about what it takes to be an advanced horse and the top three included courage and desire in the horse.  Theo doesn't want to go out and do cross country.  He will do it because he trusts me and cantering around in the open is a nice change of pace, but I've ridden plenty of horses that genuinely loved it.  Allen, Fi, Spinniker, Ben, the list goes on.  Each one got bigger when they saw the jumps, took the bit, hunted for fences.  Theo does none of those things.  I've had to coach him and work with him to teach him to actually open up on the trails.  If he's isn't mentally wired to open up and gallop on a straightaway that he knows, he isn't going to enjoy doing that in a place he's never seen with obstacles in his way.

I backed away from the conversation after I tried to explain mi papi doesn't want that job.  I was vehemently told that he did want it and I just didn't give him a chance.  I was honestly surprised at the amount of emotion directed at me.  Mi papi seems to have a knack for having people fall in love with him.  All he has to do is stand in the cross ties and people can't stay away from him.  There are lots and lots of adult women and girls that are gaga over him.  They follow me around at the barn, telling me about him and what he wants and what he should do.  I've actually had a lesson interrupted by a young lady that had to know about the beautiful black horse and couldn't wait.  Of course, most of them have never ridden him or have only ridden him in a highly controlled situation.  Beautiful, yes, but an angel?  Not even a little bit.  As the only one in the barn (aside from Trainer A) with a record at recognized eventing and the only one to get Theo around a cross country course, I think I get to be the expert on the subject.  That doesn't stop them from assuming the reason he is now only seen in dressage is because of my insecurities.  Can you hear my teeth grinding? 

At one year in, I feel confident saying that I know my horse and that he would be quite pleased if I never, ever made him leave a start box again.  Hunter paces, those are fun with good company and small fences.  Trail riding adventures?  Sure, once in awhile, it's a nice mental break.  But as far as a job goes, he wants the sand box.  Especially since he's figured out that being big and powerful is rewarded, he gets what he needs in the structure and geometry and power requests.

My safety vest is staying in my car because we still play with it.  I would like to take him out cross country schooling as a confidence exercise.  But I think we'll both be happier if we leave that game to the horses that truly love it.  I just need to make it official so I stop looking at things and being tempted.

Theo is dressage and stadium jumping ONLY because that's where he wants to be and it would be selfish of me to make him do something he fears just because I think I'd get ribbons in it.

Armchair experts can now exit stage left.

Saturday, May 7, 2016


After a quick camping trip for my birthday and a week of work that made me want to scream incoherently, I've suddenly realized I have less than a week before I have to go play with the big kids. 

On the positive side, I got my new throat latch so I can use my own bridle at the show.  I also got a browband, since the shipping was the same either way.  Got bling?  Because I sure do.

For anyone that was curious, this browband doesn't slip at all and the loops are the right size.  It must have been just the one browband with the slipping problem.  It got me a lot of double takes in my lesson today since it's a LOT of browband, but I love it.  The colors are amazing on Theo.  Just not sure if I will have the guts to wear quite that much bling in the ring.

Packing is in full swing as I pull out all of my away show gear from the loft in my garage.  We've got our ride times and they're wonderful.  11am and 2pm?  Yes, please!  We're heading out early on Friday to avoid crazy traffic around Boston and to give us time to settle in and hack the kids.  It's a half day for the teens so that won't be a problem for them. 

Tomorrow I get to pull Theo's mane yet again.  So much hair, it's ridiculous.  I'm also supposed to be practicing doing different dressage tests so I can remember to do things like reset my position and breathe at certain letters.  My anxiety can't be trained out, but we can train me to reset at certain letters.  We tried that today and it did make a difference in my hands when I reset them at four points around the ring.  It's worth a try, anyway.  I really have to conquer the alien that takes over at shows.

Maybe I will use the new browband.  It really is fantastic . . .