Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Goggles had his first "jump" school with JT on Monday. It's been really interesting watching the evolution of his understanding of jumps. When I first got him, we did a lot of walking and trotting over ground poles. He was pretty nonchalant about it all. We also did some work over the natural jumps in the GY's field in hand. When we added those in under saddle, he continued to be very nonchalant and trotted in and cantered out in a really lovely, relaxed way. 

Once down at JT's, when the poles turned into slightly raised poles, he felt like the rules had been changed on him a little bit and he suddenly had to think very hard about them. It almost felt like back tracking because his nonchalance was gone. So we spent a few weeks trotting ground poles and cavaletti until he got the relaxation back. 

Last week I took him out in hand and walked over baby cross rails until he was bored, which really was almost immediately. He also jumped over a log somewhat buried in grass. I was just trying to desensitize by standing on it while he ate grass nearby, but he popped over it several times with no prompting from me. Good boy! 

He would be fairly easy to screw up if we pushed him too fast too quickly. He's sensitive and does internalize stress to some degree. He's also very willing and wants to please and wants to be a good boy, so it would be easy to have him rushing blindly and GOING and DOING IT because that's what he's supposed to do. But he wouldn't really understand the questions and would be quick and tense. 

So we kept the questions tiny and easy and JT rode him to get the timing exactly right. Not allowing him to rush into her hand before the jump, but still giving him complete freedom over the jump. 

I missed the last pass where he cantered the furthest way X really nicely and softly. Good boy!!! 

We started with ground poles between standards again, but he was very relaxed with those so then I turned them into the tiny cross rails in the video. The first pass over the cross rail, he then thought he should in fact jump the ground pole he came to next. It's so interesting to me watching him puzzle all this out. 

Semi-related, he took a field trip this weekend to majestic oaks to professionally stand on the trailer and eat hay with JT's 4 yo OTTB. I was at work, but reports were good that he went from pretty wide eyed to relaxed and munching hay. Baby steps! 

He is a LOT taller than her 4 YO 

Monday, September 25, 2023

Anxiety at A Blog Hop: 15 More Random Questions

Fun blog hop from Anna at Anxiety at A

1. If you could create your dream horse, what would it look like?

My dream horse would be a blood bay TB gelding with Ben's movement and Goggle's brain 

2. Least favorite equestrian brand? 

Hrmmm I don't know that any one brand has been super offensive to me. There are certainly some that I have found better substitutions for (ie Equiderma for MTG, hoof mud from Pure Sole Hoof Products for Thrush Buster), but they haven't really topped a list in my head.  

3. Favorite horse show memory?

I have two... one is the last show Zing and I ever did together, just a POP schooling show at the horse park where he COMPLETELY and JOYOUSLY ran off with me on XC, partially because I forgot my gloves and partly because he was so overjoyed to be galloping XC. We won our small division that day. The other would be my first training level with Ben last December. XC felt AMAZING and like we had the same goal in mind and were so in sync out there. 

4. One thing you learned in your youth (or early in your horse experience) that has stayed true in your horse training today?

Always look at yourself first when the horse misbehaves. My instructor from 8-18 was huge on being fair to the horse and always encouraged self examination, especially in a repeated misbehavior. 

5. How many horses do you think you’ve ridden in your entire horse career?

Rough count... 20-25 when I was aged 8-18 in a lesson program and doing things like pony club camp and C camp. Since then... Probably only 4-5 different horses during undergrad, 10-12 during vet school... 10-12 post vet school. Soo 54 high estimate, 44 low estimate? 

6. Favorite “Celebrity” horse?

Teddy O'Connor might always hold the top spot. He inspired my still unrealized dream of having an event pony. 

7. Embarrassing moment in your horse experience?

I took my appaloosa, Blue, to pony club camp as a teenager. I was mediocre at polocrosse at best, while some kids were really, really good. But Blue LOVED it. He loved mounted games, he loved polocrosse, he loved things he saw the point in (aka not jumping - you could just go around - and dressage - wtf circles endlessly). I volunteered him to be the ref/coaches mount since he was so game and engaged. However, once the coach was on him, Blue pulled his patented appy move and REFUSED to move from the sideline. He did this occasionally, mostly with adult ammys when he was used in lessons with my instructor. I did not expect him to pull it with polocrosse. I stood there mortified while the coach tried everything short of beating him with the racquet to get him off the sidelines. Lesson learned, the appy will always make a fool of you! 

8. Favorite stallion in your discipline (or generally favorite stallion if you have one)?

This isn't a question I've thought about a lot prior to this... but both of my guys have Giant's Causeway, so that might be it for TB sporthorses. 

9. How’s your sitting trot?

This question actually prompted me to do a bit on Ben the other day. I would call it fairly mediocre these days, it isn't something I do much of. Like, it wasn't atrocious, but could I influence his back and shape as well as when I post? No. 

In high school it was something I worked really hard on, I had an appaloosa with a terrible, sharp trot that was hard to sit. And you had to sit for first level those days, so I suffered. Once I got Zing who had a lovely, but large, trot, it did improve a lot. 

10. What are your favorite colors on your horse (s)?

GREEN! Ben's dark bay looks great in green! Goggles is probably just gonna go with the same even though he's a bit lighter bay. 

Never miss an opportunity for reindeer Ben! Green bonnet and green smart pak sunshirt. I wish the shirt were a bit darker, but hey, it is the closest I've found so far! 

11. What social media do you spend the most time on?

Instagram, better for scrolling through neat videos without a lot of filler stuff (thanks facebook ads). 

12. Any horsey books you’ve read recently?

I just finished Horse Brain, Human Brain: The Neuroscience of Horsemanship by Janet Jones at the recommendation of The Green Horseman. It was EXCELLENT. I got a library copy and had to rush through the last little bit, so I am looking forward to checking it out again soon. 

13. What is your favorite online store to buy horse products from?

SmartPak, Riding Warehouse, Dover more often now than ever before, they carry a few bits and spurs I haven't been able to find elsewhere. 

14. Is there a supplement you give your horse that you don’t think you could go without?

Hopefully Ben's Relyne GI will be the ticket to keeping him ulcer free. 

15. What is your favorite part about blogging

I love tracking our journey. I love being able to look back on the show recaps, lessons, gear, and my own fitness tracking and remember highlights and changes. I have also really enjoyed connecting with other bloggers and commiserating about horse hoof ailments or learning what techniques have been working for them. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Wednesday Walks

While moseying around the neighborhood with Ben on Monday, I thought about starting a (semi) weekly post to catalog hacks with the boys. Hopefully this will also motivate me to get out and go places so I'm not stuck posting the same loop over and over again. 

This week Ben and I did a 2.3 mile walk loop from the barn. 

We head out the driveway

Many years ago there were no trees lining this driveway. I'm glad there are now, it's pretty magical

Then turn right and head down the lime rock road. I love riding this road, I hate driving it.

This field sometimes contains goats. For a while one was 3/4 shorn. I kept wondering if he just said F you in the middle or if the clippers died. 

Man in yard requires special attention

These folks have a beautifully productive yard with loquats, bananas, Roselle, and so much more

Then there are the olive trees on the other side of the road

We reach the paved road and go left again. I think these are green beans on the fence? The fence doesn't touch the ground, it starts about 12" up, which I found super confusing until they planted these. Clearly very planned.

Ben was sooo good about trash cans, no cares. Sometimes he does care because they come and go, which isn't allowed in his world.

Also very brave about the flag

Another left turn back onto the far part of our loop. Sometimes there are cows to the right. Sometimes they hide in the trees up ahead.

The new rails on the ground were worth a second look. It was many, many trips past those rocks before he stopped spooking at them. 

Something rustling in here prompted a spook in place. Such pretty flowers though.

This is newly cleared. We went past one day while they were actively dropping trees. He was very, very brave. 

This is our trot set field. There are also a ton of wild blackberries here. We could've turned left to make the smaller loop.

But we continued straight. Sometimes there are goats to the left. Or maybe they're always there and I only sometimes see them.

Then we turn right

Through some abandoned property

Past some abandoned single wides

Not the most scenic part

Past the trash into some woods

And we turn left again. Cow pasture to the right here. Every once in a while the owners dump a dead cow in the back near this fence. Then there are lots of vultures.

Out of the woods. Ben was relaxed enough for a snack and hack. 

Past weird trellis things

More snacking 

Working on his black jack


One more left turn and we're on the home road now. More cow pastures to the right. Sand is quite deep right now in the road. We need rain!! 

The other entrance to our trot set hay field

Close to home! 

Home pasture fence to the right

Back up the driveway

Monday, September 18, 2023

Gear Post 2023

Time for an update on last year's post with the addition of Goggles! 

I initially didn't think much had changed with my gear, but then I remembered I finally caved and bought a second helmet to keep at JT's barn. It's another OneK, but since it isn't playing double duty as a show helmet, I got navy and rose gold, shocking myself with the change from plain black. 

I'm still wearing the Xtra Tuffs as well, but they're starting to wear right at the toe bend (there's gotta be a more technical term for that spot) and are no longer waterproof. I think I might join the croc cult next. 

As far as show clothing goes, I have now tried out the AA MotionLite Show Coat and I LOVE it. It is comfy to wear, much cooler than any other coat I've worn, and it is just a really nice coat. I get soooo many compliments on the green on Ben. 

Best boy at Rocking Horse last December

Isn't his dark coat just so lovely with the green? 


Bridle is a Micklem with a Myler Baucher. We played around with him in Ben's HS Sensogan Eggbutt, but he seems to like the stability of the Baucher and leans on it a little bit less. The micklem keeps him from being too busy with his mouth without making him irritated by feeling constrained. The Micklem competition bridle was on sale, but only in cob, so that's what he got. He's very close to outgrowing it, fingers crossed he doesn't. The cob browband was definitely too small for him though and rubbed him the first day I put it on, so it got swapped out to Yoshi's old Equiture Aqua and Sapphire browband. I also CANNOT hold onto reins that don't have leather grips (and lets be real, I can barely hold onto them when they have grips), so I got a pair of Smart Pak web reins. So far so good on that front, I haven't used any of SmartPak leather products so far. 

Saddle wise, he is going in JT's Forestier Boekelo with the B15 (slightly narrow) panels. I am taking full advantage of the ability to use her saddles until November or so when I think I'll look into a Tobias saddle for him. They've come recommended from a few different sources and are wool flocked, so would continue to be adjustable as he fills out. He's currently in one of JT's breastplates, or Ben's PS of Sweden Melbourne

Fluffy thinline, shimmable, but without shims for him 

I have fallen in love with the Lemieux saddle pads. They fit perfectly with the Forestier saddles, stay nicely up into the gullet over the withers, and have the elastic and velcro loops that attach to the D rings of the saddle. I have NO NEED to buy more saddle pads, so I only have two jump pads that I bought when they were on sale. I WILL NOT stalk the sales to see if more go on sale... I have an entire stack of pads in my closet that never even see a horse anymore... 

He wears the synthetic, squishy Collegiate girth that Ben was wearing last year 

That's it for Goggles other than his KL select bell boots. He went through a phase of standing and moving so closely behind that he was kicking himself and he wore the Silver Whinnys that Yoshi wore. However he seems to have outgrown(?) that phase ::knock on wood:: so I don't have to wrestle those on/off his legs anymore. 


We've made a couple of changes in saddles. He is still in the Forestier Boekelo, but those changes they made last year seemed to make it work. He goes in that with the Mattes pad, no shims. I caved and bought him his own since Ms. GY started using hers again. With the thick fluffy thinline pad, the saddle is actually too narrow. But without a half pad at all, it is too close to the withers.

Boekelo, mattes half pad, LeMeiux jump pad

Same bridle as last year, sans noseband because he's cuter that way and I hope that the less I screw with his tongue/mouth and home, the more likely he is to keep the tongue in for 4 minutes at a show. 

Loose ring KK - I put this in while Goggles was using his HS Sensogan. He's pretty lovely in either, so I just haven't bothered to switch it back. Noseband was back on for the POP show we just did. 

Dressage wise, we ended up putting the exact panels that worked for him on the jump saddle into the dressage saddle, a Forestier Aachen. This one always LOOKED nice on him, but it made his back super sore. Which was weird because the jump saddle always looked worse but never made him sore. However, putting the jump panels onto it made it work. He wears it with a THICK pad, but no half pad. Our vet correctly identified the half pad was making it too narrow around his withers and shoulders and when we took it out one day during a riding assessment, he breathed a sigh of relief.

Plain fillis irons... nothing fancy 

His girth is now the LeMieux GelTek Anatomic Girth. He seems to like it just fine, but he also liked the Collegiate Goggles now wears just fine. This was his show girth that got moved into daily use when Goggles got his Collegiate. So far I am really liking it as far as durability. It is the first leather LeMieux product we've had. 

Ben's cross country bit set up has pretty much been settled as well, it's a two ring double jointed gag with a chain. It gives him just enough WOAH that if he starts to barrel down and pull between jumps I can half halt and he LISTENS. 

Best action shot I could find of the bit, but you can barely see the chain 

One fun little touch... I bought my first ever fun spur straps for our slightly longer roller ball spurs for XC.