vacation + house sitting

If you’re wondering, a fantastic way to get comfortable hauling your horse is to haul him approximately 250 miles over the course of 4 days. This is not necessarily a way to make your horse happy with you. But damn, I feel much better about trailering now!

Murray had just one night to languish at home in his pasture after Camelot, and then we got right back in the trailer and headed to my in laws’ house for ten days of house sitting and dressage schools and vacation and trail rides. He wasn’t happy about getting back on the trailer, and he was even less happy when he unloaded (may have sat down a wee bit). But he’s settled in and is doing all right.

The property is dreamy, with miles of trails nearby (mostly ag roads, but with some gentle terrain), and a full dressage court with mirrors (we had a dressage camp here a few years ago!). I’m getting some work done, and I’ve only messed up the irrigation every day so far. So that’s good work.

Unfortunately, being away from all my trainers has me feeling rather panicky. Murray is learning so quickly lately — he’s in a massive upswing of understanding. At the same time, I’m changing a lot about how I ride and how I communicate with him. Which leaves me in this terrible position of feeling like I shouldn’t ride unsupervised at all right now! What if I do something wrong? What do I do when he gets confused? How am I supposed to fix it when he throws new weird shit at me? Am I posting slowly enough?!

We will survive, obviously. And it’s all right — if there’s anything this horse has taught me, it’s that almost anything I mess up now I can probably fix later! (With the right help, of course.)

night check / bedtime snax

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first thoughts on convention

I had a ton of fun last week at the USEA Convention.  I’m a learning sponge and love the chance to meet and joke around with famous strangers, so conventions and conferences are always my jam.  Plus I got to have lunch with Jimmy Wofford and dinner with Lynn Symansky, Hannah Sue Burnett, Katherine Coleman, and Jon Holling ALL BY ACCIDENT which was so awesome.

Plus there was a giant Pacific octopus there, and what’s not to love about that?!

Giant Pacific Octopus at the Aquarium of the Pacific! #useaconvention

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I could tell that the USEA worked hard to make the conference something that both professionals and amateurs were interested in attending.  There were some great educational and information sessions targeted at amateurs, and plenty of pros popped into those.  I’ve enjoyed Daniel Stewart’s work before, and got accidentally roped into working out with him first thing in the morning (and woah, did that hurt for days afterwards because all I did post workout was sit around and listen to talks).  I attended a couple more of his pressure-proof type talks, and they were as great as before.

I also loved the course builders session.  It was a really interesting combination of updates on rules (new frangible pin rules and max spread rules and such), but also a great discussion of the mysterious “level creep” and why it both is and isn’t a problem.  I’ll probably write a whole post on that tonight, because it’s an idea that really fascinates me.  We also talked a fair bit about Prelim  Modified, the new division, and how the fork we were going to get PM into events.  One problem is that it costs about 15k (and then some) to put together the new fences for a PM division, but no new riders will be attracted by PM… it will only be riders who would be riding Training or Prelim anyway.  So… what’s the incentive to offer PM to organizers?  (Right now it seems like the answer is: none.)

Boyd also gave a pretty killer keynote.  But he also said some really interesting things in the adult amateur session about how getting to be stressed out is a privilege, and his thoughts on training and fear.  It also became pretty clear that he’s a total nutjob in the way only professional athletes can be, so I guess that probably helps you get back on after a rotational fall.

what boyd’s childhood was like, i think

To top it all off, I got to drive there and back with a couple of trainers/elders from my area and learned a TON from them, along with talking about some fun ideas for data analysis and future show plans.  SO COOL.

Really, a great trip all in all. Now to organize my notes a bit and tell you what I really learned!

2017 USEA Convention

I’m at one of Area VI’s last HTs of the year today, Fresno Park, helping boot mom a bunch of my friends (many at their first rated show!).  Hopefully my boot shining, mint providing, water-bottle holding, picture-taking, and cheerleading services will be up to snuff for all the favors they have done me.


❤ friends!

But what I really want to ask about is the 2017 USEA Convention!  This year it’s being held in beautiful Long Beach (I will for sure be sneaking away to the aquarium for a little while!) and features a ton of awesome speakers including Boyd Martin as keynote, Equiratings (be still my beating heart!), and tons of interesting sessions for riders and organizers.

 

If you’re going, I’d love to meet up and take a crappy selfie and laugh about our ponies together!

lemonade

When Murray’s leg hole turned into a more significant situation than originally thought, I was like “dammit, I’m not going to become one of those people who can only talk about her horse’s injury.”  And here I am.  Talking about his injury again.

But this week, we made some lemonade of this whole stall-bound situation. I pulled all of Murray’s shoes!!

back in the day of pony playtimes

You might not think that shoe-pulling is something to get excited about, but for me it really is. I have been obsessed with the idea of functionally barefoot horses ever since I started care-leasing Murray.  It coincided with finding the Rockley Rehab Blog, the proprietor of which firmly asserts that all horses can become comfortably barefoot with the right care.  And I really liked that idea.  I lived in Kenya and saw zebra on the daily, and never did I see a lame zebra.  I saw zebra running away from things (cars, lions, cheetahs) pretty damn quickly, over some pretty interesting (rocky, shale, slick, muddy, rainy, watery) surfaces, and very few of them ever slipped.  This was pretty good evidence in my mind.

Over time, I came to realize that without being willing to undertake certain lifestyle changes for the horse, it may very well not be possible for Murray to have a competitive career barefoot.  That is clearly not for everyone.

However, I can’t shake the inclination to believe those farriers and veterinarians and yahoos that say that barefoot really is good for the foot overall.  Human podiatrists acknowledge that the types of shoes that many people prefer are not actually all that good for our overall foot health and strength.

okay so this guy probably slipped at least a little

So knowing that Murray only has to be sound in his stall, in arena footing, or hand walking around in the gravel, I really, really, really wanted to give his feet a break from shoes and see if we couldn’t strengthen up his heels and re-angle his upright RF.  Farrier approves of this plan and hopes that it will help his particularly contracted RF heel spread out a bit.

Right now, we hand walk for 20-40 minutes 3-6 times a week.  I’ll try to start doing that on a whole variety of different surfaces so Murray isn’t just standing in the cushy padding of his stall an paddock.  I forsee another six weeks of this routine, which should give both of us plenty of time to harden up our feet and get into a rhythm!  It’s certainly not the same as the Rockley horses being out 12 hours a day on tons of different surfaces, but perhaps we’ll be able to get there a few weeks after that with night turnout.  Once we get back into real non-walk-work, the shoes will probably go back on.  Fronts first, and we’ll see if we can make it through the winter without hinds.

camelot bonus reel: blogger meetup

One of the funnest things about Camelot has always been showing there with my friends.  We’ve been going to Camelot for years and years and years — seriously, I think my trainer first took students to a one day schooling HT there back in 2011.  My first show there was 2013 — from which I was summarily eliminated, but I had a ton of fun riding Quincy around bareback at night with my friends despite that.

This year, I knew pretty early on that Kate was bringing students, and Olivia would be coming, so it was for sure going to be a mini blogger meetup.  I tried to rustle up a few other locals, but alas none more were to be had.  No fear, both Kate and Olivia brought many incredibly adorable horses, which more than made up for it.

Sorry, Olivia. I suck at selfies.

But the highlight of meeting other bloggers was meeting Keith W. Matapouri of Post the Trot.  (Also sorry Olivia and Kate that meeting up with you guys wasn’t the best part of the weekend. I mean blogger meetup.)  In the time-honored tradition of the close blogging community, though, I’m going to refer to Keith by a made-up blogger name.  Let’s go with Kathy.  Kathy seems like a good, strong, blogger name.

I actually knew I was in the presence of Kathy even before we had been properly introduced.  It was just one of those things.  I don’t want to imply that I’m a stalker or anything.  But you know when you see something you’ve never actually seen before in person, you’ve only heard/read about it, but the second you lay eyes on it you know that this is that thing you’ve read about? It was like the first time I ever saw a gerenuk.  I’d never seen a picture of a gerenuk, I’d just heard of them, and then there was a gerenuk standing there in the scrub and I shouted KATHY GERENUK!!

Image result for gerenukthis is what it was like to spy Kathy

Alternately, you know when your dog jumps off the couch and makes that kinda subtle smile at you, and you know that you need to rush her outside right away because she’s about to start puking on the carpet (even though she hasn’t started heaving or gurgling yet)?

It was kinda like that.

Anyway, Kathyand I spent a little bit of time chatting after I introduced myself.  We had a fascinating and in-depth conversation about the appearance, function, role, and genetics of dapples.  Interestingly, did you know that nobody really understands dapples?  I mean the dapples that show up seasonally, not dapples that stick year-round on gray horses.  We think it’s genetic, it seems to be associated with nutrition in some cases, and some horses get to have dapples even when their nutrition is total shit.  So what regulates whether a horse gets the ability to get dapples (like, what gene even controls dapples REALLY?), if a horse gets dapples within its lifetime, and how big/bright/patterned/obvious those dapples are?

NOBODY KNOWS. It’s interminably frustrating.  Kathy understood.

Kathy also promised to take me horse boating sometime, so that’s pretty cool.

Image result for gerenuk(I did, actually, see gerenuk a few times living in Kenya. This picture is from MF Kinnard at Mpala, which was essentially right nextdoor to where I lived in Kenya. Like, as nextdoor as you get when you live on a 200 square kilometer conservancy.)

 

teamwork makes the dream work

Camelot’s August event was everything I hoped it would be, and then some.  I don’t quite have the energy for a full recap (I’m still catching up thanks to a sleepless Friday night and minor flesh wounds to both knees), but there are too many good pictures not to share some of them.  The short story is that we were successful.  But in reality, I’d categorize this as more of a wildly successful outing for us.

c/o Kate’s friend, Kathy. Thanks Kathy!

Thanks to my own stupidity and inability to ride down banks, I tweaked both of my knees on Friday afternoon while schooling the utterly enormous and incredibly inappropriate for the level 3′-ish bank that was flagged for the Novice course.  I suck at banks and we haven’t practiced them in a year, so we worked our way up to the big one.  Murray was fine going down the littler ones, but could clearly sense my hesitation and lack of desire to go down the biggest bank, so he stopped a few times.  I finally approached it with some commitment, then promptly lost my left stirrup. Murray turned a hard right upon landing, and physics was not in my favor.  I kept going straight.  As I slid over the saddle my right foot must have become caught up somehow, because my knee twisted on the way over.  I initially landed on my left foot, but promptly fell to my knee.

I lay there in the dirt, both of my knees stinging, while Murray stood next to me and judged me for my silly actions.  Eventually I gathered up the gumption to stand (stung knees hurt, yo!), got back on, and we schooled the bank and a few other fences with great success.


I love the Camelot standards. Thanks Kathy!

The whole weekend was really an exercise in teamwork, though!  First, Kate kindly hauled Murray to the show as we were short one trailer spot from my barn.  To my great pleasure, Murray happily walked right into Kate’s trailer, and then unloaded quietly once at Camelot.  Kate even had a pin of just the right dimensions to fix our own trailer woes, when the 3-horse we were borrowing was short a pin to keep the back divider closed.  I mean, if that isn’t a beautiful coincidence, I just don’t know what is.


a couple of fences at Camelot have glow in the dark paint!

After spraining said knees, one friend loaned me her horse’s Back on Track wraps, another drove to get me ibuprofen at a nearby gas station, and everyone pitched in to help fetch, carry, and lift while I limped around the facility like a pirate.  The good news that is NSAIDs and BOT helped my knee to feel pretty much normal by cross country time.  I don’t really know how I feel about Back on Track gear… part of me thinks it’s juju voodoo horsey pseudoscience.  The other part of my knows that the BOT treated knee was way warmer than the untreated knee, and it felt WAY WAY BETTER after putting the wraps on.  So… we’ll need to play with evidence based medicine for that one.

Kate’s Kathy and Olivia’s husband kindly got pictures of me during my stadium ride, which were so appreciated when I realized after stadium that in the course of bumping my camera around on my hip I had deleted every single picture from the entire weekend.  I felt sick when I realized that I had done that through carelessness and bad habits (of not turning off my camera or protecting my images).

picture credit to David on this one!

There was even some pretty solid team work getting my outfit together.  I’ve been admiring the Winston coats for a while, but they are solidly outside of my budget in even an off-the-rack scenario.  A couple of months ago L alerted me to a tack sale for an Oregon tack store that was going out of business, and they had a Winston in just my size for an amount that I could, somewhat drunkenly (and only if I don’t look up the email to see what the actual price is) justify paying for.  I hemmed and hawed over it, and Peony told me to do it (and buy a Samshield alongside to boot, but they had none in my size).  And Megan concurred. So I bought it.  It didn’t quite have the shiny buttons I wanted, so I headed to Etsy and found the brushed stainless buttons I needed, easily replaced the old ones on the front of the coat and voila!

 I adore everything about the damn thing, and having a really, really well-fitting coat is just so nice for me.

It was such a wonderful weekend to spend with friends from all different avenues of my life.  I can’t wait to do it again — maybe in April, guys?!

the best weekend

I had the best freaking weekend at Camelot.

I got to meet some super cool animals and their even cooler humans. (Stupidly forgot to take a pic with Skully or Meaty!  I am a fool.)

My horse was as brave as he knew how, never stopped being himself, and was  handsome AF to boot.

I rode my little heart out and made all new mistakes!  And I learned from them!

We went really, really, really fast.  Like, speed faults if we hadn’t circled for the refusal fast.

The jumps all looked tiny!!

Losing never felt so good!!!