new found glory

The first time I laid eyes on Fergus I was a little taken aback by the funny little face on this funny little horse coming up to me in the wash rack. This little bay thing had the flattest face I’d ever seen on a horse, but without the refinement that lends elegance to other horses. With his eyes slightly bugged out sideways and a little whale-eye showing, he had a vaguely Anuran look to him. Which is absolutely not to say I didn’t think he was cute — I thought he was adorable! But not, perhaps, handsome.

Fergus is a 13-year-old 15.2 (or 3? or 1?)-ish appendix (TB x paint technically, but all of those paint horses have QH parents). He was picked up by TrJ in Kentucky some years ago when she was there for Rolex. She has a knack for picking up very neat horses — though in reality I think that knack is knowing a lot of people and knowing exactly what she will and won’t compromise on in a horse. When he came home he was slated for one rider, but that didn’t quite work out, and then got passed around like the town barn bicycle for a while: teaching a lesson here, pitching in at a show there, generally being a good guy.

both my boys together – Samwell and Fergus

In late 2018, Fergus sold to someone within the barn who was looking to transition from fun, non-serious riding to still fun, slightly more serious competing in lower level eventing. And that’s when I started to get really familiar with Fergus, because he showed up in the BN jump group with his owner, A, from week to week to week. He was always a good boy; I don’t think I saw him quit on a fence once. But he was prone to getting a little bunchy and zippy, and ducking behind the contact instead of pushing into it.

um that’s an interesting view….

When TrJ first suggested I give Fergus a try I was intrigued, but cautious. I wasn’t sure I wanted to take on such a “project” in the contact, and I was still butthurt that I wouldn’t be getting in some 3′ miles with Harry. I’m so glad I was wrong.

I had a little tester lesson on Ferg before we made the lease official, and in that one ride I was totally smitten. He is a bit of a project in the contact, but TrJ was totally up front about it. We focused on getting Fergus to stretch down and lean into the bridle for much of our lesson. It’s not that he won’t go there, it’s just not his first choice.

I just really love this pole it tastes soooo gooooood

And his canter? It got me like woah. He stepped into it and I was all :heart_eyes_emoji: It’s such a smooth, easy stride. It feels so niiiiiiiice.

Ferg’s been happily cruising around BN for the last few years, stepping in when people needed a catch ride, but I don’t think there’s anything stopping him from running around a novice or two. In the last year A has become a good barn friend (another vet, surprise surprise — I have a type!), and she’s been so kind and accommodating about my desire to show. We’re working on a show schedule together so that she and I both get to go to the shows we want and Fergwyn doesn’t get tired out. (I mean there’s really not much of a risk of that since we’re both so busy.)

he’s the perfect size for me – and also, look! we can do trot poles!

Also, he’s so easy going. Sure, he has opinions. When we go into the arena he immediately knocks over TrJ’s “secret” cookie jar and insists on being rewarded for his cleverness. And yes, one day he riled up every single horse in his pasture in an attempt to avoid being caught. Okay, he also gets a bit tense under saddle — that’s something we can work on. But for the most part he takes a joke well, ground ties, and is a quiet, sensible creature. It’s lovely.

also, we canter! and i, apparently, look at the ground?

So that’s the Fergus. And yes, I’m already low-key planning to steal him and if A suddenly goes mysteriously missing you know it wasn’t me, even though I’d totally take home her two incredibly adorable little dogs as well as her horse. Oh and did I mention that he’s the PERFECT size for me? Oh and that he has a GREAT registered name? New Found Glory. It’s cute AF.

Yeah so for my future horse I need Fergus a small, well-schooled, fun, gelding who will take me on All The Adventures.

also I was wrong, he’s not a butterface at all he’s so fucking cute and he loves food

local blogger & reader conscription

wpid-wp-1447825079562.jpgLocal and not-so local bloggers, readers, and fans!  WE NEED YOU!!

The Woodland Stallion Station Horse Trials wants YOU to come out and help us run our event!  We are putting on Northern California’s only one-day event and it is going to be INCREDIBLE!

But to make it incredible, we need volunteers, and since bloggers and blog readers are among the most competent, capable people I know, I really really really really really want you to help.  Please.


Things I can offer you: food, a volunteer shirt, and tons of fun at the event.  Plus: a place to stay (with me), and time with these incredible creatures:


IMG_20151230_113424Also puppies.  Yah we got more puppies. You can play with those too.

Comment or email me for details!  WE NEED YOU!

(email is confetti [dot] airplane [at] gmail [dot] com)









Remember a few months ago when I alluded to a nonprofit website I was working on?  Well, it’s finally done.  Finally.  Welcome to the world, NorCal OTTB!


Of course, we also have a blog!


I’ve been working on this in absolutely every moment of my spare time in the last few weeks (plus bits and pieces for months before that).  My brain is melting — and I didn’t even have to code it!  Thanks WebDesigner Mike.  You are my hero.

I’d love it if you’d head on over and check it out!

drinks, sunshine, house sitting

I’m house sitting at my trainers right now with no internet (hello, thesis!), but Murray’s there too so all is well.


I had a prickly pear gin drink for valentines, it was delicious, along with pork belly, arancini, and scallops. Shared with my boyfriend, of course.

And Murray and I did hills. He was lazy, I had lobster hands. A good time was had by all.


Have a lovely long weekend, friends!

Hawley Bennett Clinic: Day 1

As you may have seen from the preview on Sunday, this weekend I was lucky enough to attend a Hawley Bennett clinic hosted at my barn.  I was also dying of jealousy, as I decided quite a while ago not to ride in the clinic (because cash and credit cards are different things and car registration and insurance and thanks a lot adulthood), and as soon as I saw the course and saw the first group to go I knew that I wanted to ride with Hawley.  Luckily for us, I will get to ride with Hawley, as she comes back up to this area every month or so.


Saturday dawned a bit drizzly and cloudy, but not too bad, unfortunately it was California’s first rainy weekend since Christmas.  Hawley started out all the groups with one of her favourite exercises: 4 jumps equidistant on a circle.  The course we had been sent the night before consisted of this circle (with a 20-stride circumference) at one end of the arena, a 6-stride to 2-stride combo down one long side and a 4-stride to 2-stride down the other, and a criss-crossing 4-stride and one-stride in the middle.  I’ve never seen so many standards in the arena.  I knew some of my friends would be pooping their pants, but I wanted to jump it sooooooooooo bad.


The key to the first exercise was to ride a consistent canter.  Consistently, when horses made six strides in one quarter of the circle, the rider pushed and only made four in the next quadrant.  Instead, Hawley said, if you continue to hold and manage the quality of the canter, you can get five all around.  The striding on the circle wasn’t perfect, but Hawley just made one small adjustment and demanded that the riders “make it happen” for the rest of the imperfections.

Hawley always discussed with riders how they would ride into a line, what type of canter they would be trying to achieve, or how they would half-halt their horses.  Even though some people struggled to put into words something they more intuitively understood, I thought this was a fantastic strategy.  As you have probably guessed, words are important to me, and I think that being able to verbalize what you can just do with your body gives you a better understanding of it.  Maybe I’m wrong, who knows.


As riders moved out to the other lines, Hawley always had them start and end their course on the circle exercise.  She put the jumps up from 6” verticals to 12” or 18” depending on the group’s experience level, to keep things easy but the horses thinking.  The really cool thing about this exercise was that it really forced riders to think about their pace before and after the course, and make adjustments immediately.  Hawley demanded precision from every rider, no matter what their group.  You couldn’t just ride the lines any old way, you had to do it Hawley’s way: straight, in the right number of strides, with good transitions and good turns.  If your horse came out of the circle a little collected and you were going to make seven in the six stride line, Hawley wanted you to feel that immediately and adjust accordingly.


One thing I noticed is that Hawley didn’t pick on anybody’s equitation unless it was really impeding their riding, and her main comments remained the same from rider to rider: sit tall, shoulders back, follow your horse.  She didn’t want people going to their hands to half halt, she wanted everybody to be able to half halt with just their seat and legs, and she insisted that people keep leg on during the half halts, so as not to lose impulsion.  On both the circle exercise and the lines, it became clear that when riders dropped their legs off their horse’s sides, they were more likely to get some kind of weird spot or striding, which was kindof duh but caught a lot of riders out.  So when you need to add, keep your leg on so you’re committed, and if you need a bigger stride, also keep that leg on.


One group was populated with riders who were struggling in some way with their horses, either through lack of confidence on behalf of the horse or rider, or simply inexperience.  The way Hawley handled them really proved her value and skill as an instructor.  She didn’t let them get away with anything, but upped the support and encouragement, and insisted that these riders get the technical aspects of the course (albeit lowered) done as well.  Hawley also spent time troubleshooting specifics of these riders problems, be it stopping, running out, rushing, or refusing to move forward, but all of these solutions came back to riding correct basics.  Instead of barreling down to a problem fence, Hawley had riders take a calm, collected canter or collected trot to the obstacle.  The horses could even stop if they wanted, what they couldn’t do was turn away, and in turn every horse jumped over any jump that was a problem.  If they chose to trot, it had to be a collected trot, not a disorganized, leg-flinging, rider-disobeying trot.  To help their horses out, Hawley made sure that the riders were following with soft, quiet hands, keeping their upper body in a position that didn’t block the shoulders or the back, and stayed with their horses.

IMG_1849Go baby, go!

Hawley also helped a rider whose horse was far, far too excited about getting to jump and insisted on doing things his way.  She had the rider flex and counter-flex her mount at the trot and canter until he relaxed, and only then could he head to the jumps.  The circle exercise was especially useful for this feisty guy, because he really couldn’t just bolt with those poles in the way, and was forced to regulate himself a bit more.

Nobody was exempt from Hawley’s precision and cutting commentary — even my trainer was challenged to ride better.  And the second day just got more exciting!  Look for day two in another post, as this one’s quite long already, but here are all my Hawley snippets from day one.

IMG_2042Hawley was convinced this horse was a 4* horse in his former life

Would that transition be good enough in dressage?

Keep your legs on and your reins short

Don’t barrel down to the last fences, you are so excited and think you’re doing well, but don’t forget the last fence

If she can buck she’s behind your leg

Bring your hip in over the jumps to help him get his lead

To collect sit up don’t go to your hands

Close the legs to get the deep spot

Land, put your legs on, rock them back

Don’t let your reins get long and your elbows behind you

The worse the footing is the more leg and connection you need

It’s good practice riding a tired horse

If your horse drifts left, put more left leg on, not just your lower leg but also you though. Drop your left hip bone and push him over

Don’t run your horse of his feet

Keep looking to the next

Take your time, you can’t fix it by running at it. Create the canter that’s forward but blazoned. If you run him to a dead distance he will slam on the brakes.

Bringing your hips in is especially important on these racehorses. If you swing your butt out your not going to get your lead.

Think of this as warm up, make him soft and round

Counter bend for softness


all about that bert

Remember how I mildly derided OTTB Connect last week for being so repetitive?  They still are, but every once in a while an absolute gem pops up.

This video is well worth the three minutes!!

Bert is for lease to an intermediate or advanced rider outside of Pennington, NJ.  I found his ad through OTTB connect, and if you can’t access that page, you can probably find information from the original poster.

TOABH: Worth 1k Words

Worth 1k Words
Let’s share our favorite photos of our stud muffins.  No limit.

I share pictures of my ponykins here a lot, but Beka has given me free rein to share more! MWAHAHAHAHA.

2012-6-1 2012-6Before he was mine

1463746_681994785174666_1547265509_nFirst XC together last November

Camelot Horse Trials -- but mostly tribulations!Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and I’m never letting you put your head down again.

2014-07-10 12.17.26Miserable in his practice braids

Mad hops

2014-11-13 09.38.59 2014-09-25 13.03.23
We got 1/16th of an inch of rain and I had too much fun…

IMG_8458Galloping fool

14627101506_4b0c8518f2_oNot happy, Jan

2014-07-12 10.05.32Sleepy after dressage

IMG_3924Bieber hair

IMG_20141115_134950 SAMSUNGBooty call

IMG_7843Trying to be fancy

IMG_9338One of those 10+ jumper moments….

2014-09-25 13.04.12Ummmm did you take a selfie on my phone?

2015-01-21 21.23.00Babushka


I’m away from my pony and computer and good internet for a few days, so let me leave you with two insanely good drinks I’ve had this week.


“Big Shoulders” – whiskey, orange-rhubarb-vanilla shrub, Syrah float


“Existentialist” – gin, berry-cinnamon shrub, Saison float.

If you’re in Southern Oregon, these delicious babies and many more can be found at The Haul in Grant’s Pass.

Wordless Wednesday

California got a speck of sunshine this week, so we got to turn our ponies out in the outdoor instead of the indoor!  Pastures are, sadly, still off-limits.  This wordless Wednesday brought to you by Murray and his BFF Connor, and male model Porter.

IMG_8456IMG_8458 IMG_8471 IMG_8482 IMG_8489 IMG_8515 IMG_8543 IMG_8554 IMG_8555 IMG_8578

Inside the barn, things were a bit quieter…IMG_8639-2


And a video, because the sounds Murray makes throughout and especially at the end of this video are too good for words…