2020 is the actual worst ever

The last week or so, Iggy was looking stiff but seemed better throughout the day so we just kept an eye on it – a stiff 19 year old horse isn’t exactly groundbreaking news. Then last Friday (a week ago), I took him out and he was like, 4/5 lame. Majorly. Only minimal swelling, no heat, but tender to palpation. Of course it was 7pm by now, so I got my vet’s first available non-after hours emergency appointment – Tuesday afternoon. And then both iced and cold hosed 30 minutes a day, 2x a day, bute, stall rest, wraps, hand walking… the whole shebang. All while anxiously google searching and eyeing the calendar for that August 8th show date.

Snoot for booping

Tuesday came and we busted out every tool in my vet’s truck. We started with the Equinosis machine which is this crazy cool sensor that is able to quantify lameness, where it is, what part of the stride, etc. and spit out a full report. Iggy kept swapping which front leg he was lame on which was really fun.

We ended up pulling shoes, shooting rads (which all came back perfect and beautiful and apparently looking like they belonged to a horse half his age) and then moved onto blocking. We finally got to where we blocked it (mostly) out and moved onto ultrasound.

Which is where things get really shitty.

The short version of the long story is we found significant soft tissue damage to both the suspensory and superficial tendon on LF, thickening of soft tissue and general disruption of the fibers on the RF (the different tendons and ligaments looked like a giant tangled ball of yarn), plus possibly a bone bruise or cartilage damage. Probably not a single one injury, more cumulative over time.

Annndd that’s what makes the prognosis bad – there’s nothing to go treat per say, like a tear or lesion. He said with rest and careful rehab, he thought he’d probably be sound for flatwork, but the damage is pretty bad.

In other words, on Tuesday I found out my brand new event horse’s jumping career is over, Wednesday I got a four digit vet bill to just add some insult to injury, scratched my fourth recognized event in a row and today I get to write a super shitty post, almost 11 months to the day I wrote the same one about Doc. In between I’ve done a lot of outright sobbing, yelling, listening to Taylor Swift’s Folklore album and wishing I’d picked a hobby like tennis or knitting or God, just ANYTHING else.

I sat in his stall and cried and he licked me and I cried harder

It’s not really a pity party (okay, so a little bit), but more ‘this is why my perfect chestnut pony is going back to Kentucky to be retired in three weeks, doesn’t my life fucking suck’.

My trainer is already on the hunt for another lease (that horse shopping budget just had a large chunk taken thanks to spending more money at the vet this month than my entire mortgage payment plus some), which I appreciate and know is the right move seeing as it will take time, but damn my heart is just freaking broken right now. I don’t want another horse. Again. I want MINE. My fun as hell, rocket booster pony who I can also hack on the freaking road solo, who I can ride bareback in a halter, who was laying down sub-30 dressage tests. Who I got six months with, a full one of which I was under quarantine and couldn’t see him. Who I fell hard and fast in love with.

I’m just really fucking over 2020.

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Viva Carlos Bloghop: Home Office edition

I’m nothing if not nosy so seeing everyone’s home office/WFH spaces has given me great voyeuristic joy the last few days. I figured I’d return the favor in case anyone cared what was happening here.

My office is the 3rd bedroom upstairs and has been setup as my office since I moved it, but only halfheartedly until March when SIP started. Once that hit, it became apparent I needed a few upgrades (second monitor, rearranging and new chair mainly).

With the addition of those things, it’s become a pretty pleasant place to be. I actually built this desk (well, Ikea-hacked it) two years ago from two Ikea Rast dressers and a 102″ long countertop. I love it so much – it has room for me to absolutely cover it in papers and random stuff, which is what happens essentially every day. Ironic, considering I work 100% online and theoretically should be paperless…

I have two different backgrounds because I technically run on two separate systems (hospital side VDI and the university network) and it’s the only way I keep them straight

The three drawers on each side have office supplies, file folders, extra notepads, chargers (literally the middle right drawer is nothing but cords) and a few other random things I don’t have a better home for. The board above the desk I made for my bedroom back in college, but is mostly full of photos and other fun things these days. (Yes, there is a spot where I filled a hole and have not painted over in the middle of the wall…)

I have various degrees, awards and prints from college on the walls, although the room’s decor is admittedly sparse. The tiny bookcase has been around since college and is on its absolute last legs of life, but hanging in there. I listen to music most of the day in the background, so I love my speaker, and the fake flowers are there 95% so my Zoom background looks a little nicer.

Fake flowers and trim that still isn’t painted WHOOPS

There’s a full walk in closet in this room, but we use it for storing off season clothes and other random house things (air mattresses, pillows, etc).

Finn sleeps back behind the desk in the lower right corner

Finn the JRT spends most of the day in front of the window in the sun or back behind the dresser on the left (the countertop is deeper than the drawers, so there’s a little nook he loves). He actually has a little bed back there because he loves to hang back there so much.

Also my computer is plugged into an outlet with a switch hence, very classy electrical tape solution

It’s become a pretty ideal setup over the last few months which is great considering we’re hearing return to office dates of February or even later. Honestly, I’d be 100% content to WFH permanently, but we’ll see…

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Mythbusters: Summit Joint (and why you won’t ever see it in my barn)

About twice a month, someone on Facebook posts asking, “What does everyone think about Summit Joint Performance?!”

And every single time, my blood pressure rises as I see the MLM-ers flock towards it to promote and sell this product.

And I’ve had enough (and I know I’m not the only one).

So, here goes, debunking some of my favorite SJP arguments.

For starters, Summit = Chondroitin 4 Sulfate = Condranol

“They don’t need FDA approval because it already had it when it was used in humans!”

Oh. When it was used in ophthalmologic surgery (specifically cataract surgery and corneal transplants) as a coating to reduce rejection? Not exactly the same thing.

Per the FDA, it is not approved as an injection for horses. Or any animal. You cannot take a drug and use it for not only an entirely different use, but an entirely new patient population without at least talking to the FDA about it. (Yes, I am well aware this happens – see: sildenafil, spironolactone, previcox – BUT they all had recent drug FDA approvals to begin with, and then were secondarily approved for off label use)

“They’ve done studies in humans showing it works for osteoarthritis!”

Yes, they have done studies in humans! For osteoarthritis! That showed… “the symptomatic benefit of chondroitin is minimal or nonexistent. Use of chondroitin in routine clinical practice should therefore be discouraged.” Whoops. (Reichenbach et al. 2007)

“Oh, I/my trainer/my best friend/my cousin’s boyfriend/this girl I know who wins in the AA hunters uses it and our/their horses look amazing! or “It brought my arthritic horse back from the brink of death in one week!” or “It turned my three-legged lame retiree into a prelim horse!”

We’ll start with the obvious. Anecdotes are not scientific evidence, stories are not science, someone’s post on Facebook is not science. When you purchase something or want to believe something works – ever heard of the placebo effect?

Just a few others, for fun too. We’ve got a solid amount of bandwagon effect – “OMG everyone is using it, guess I should too!” How about confirmation bias? You just spent money on something, want to believe it works, so you’re looking for information to support what you want. It’s subconscious, no matter how objective you tell yourself you are being.

This doesn’t even touch the fact that if, and just IF, it happened to bring Mr. Sparkles back to being sound after you’ve exhausted all the other treatments… what the actual hell is in this drug? Yeah, meth can make me skinny, but at what cost? Or is it masking pain, while making underlying conditions worse? That’s just it: we don’t know.

“The company is totally going to do studies! They’re coming!”

Cool. Let me see them when they’re double-blinded, randomized, done by a reputable academic source and peer reviewed. We’ll talk then. Until that… pass.

“It was developed by a veterinarian though!”

One vet (with a vested financial interest, I might add) deciding to inject something with questionable (and scarce) evidence does not make a drug company. I know many veterinarians who are incredible, smart, great people – I have lots of respect for them (see: my family’s business who is in the veterinary industry). Having a doctorate of veterinary medicine (or any medicine or hell, any doctorate) does not automatically make you a good person, grant you wisdom or instill in you ethics. Go do a google search for veterinarians who have lost their licenses. Go ask your friends about the worst vet they’ve seen or used. Hell, ask your vet (the ones with professionalism will probably decline to say much more, but believe me they have the stories).

That doesn’t make every single one an expert in pharmaceutical research & development, much less production, quality control and manufacturing. Any who try to tell you differently don’t know their personal limitations and I’d stay FAR, far away.

“Oh, it’s a supplement, not a drug.”

Wow a truthful statement! Chondroitin is in fact regulated as a dietary supplement in the United States. But wait. That pesky word, dietary. Per the FDA, “the law defines dietary supplements in part as products taken by mouth that contain a “dietary ingredient.” So, SJP labeling itself as a supplement? Not truthful, nor legal. IF YOU INJECT IT, IT IS A DRUG.

And if we want to be real picky, per the FDA, anything for animal use promoting disease prevention or therapy is technically regulated as… a drug.

“It’s all natural, so it’s safe!”

So is cyanide.

“It’s manufactured in a clean facility though, it’s totally fine.”

This is coming from…? A Facebook comment from someone loosely affiliated with the company. With no verifiable evidence. And when you dig a little deeper – they claim it’s an ISO level 5 clean room, but this requires two to three airlocks, ante-room and single direction airflow. I’ll believe it when I see it. If anyone has an actual certification of their clean room, I’d love to see.

CS4, as a dietary supplement, has many known and reported inconsistencies in purity and chemical composition. The answers SJP gives when questioned? That their CS-4 is from bovine trachea from Argentina and Spain. Which doesn’t even begin to answer how they are ensuring purity, composition and quality control.

“I know we don’t have FDA approval; it’s not because they were turned down, it’s because they haven’t applied. It’s a personal choice to do so.”

I can’t wait to tell my friends in pharmaceutical manufacturing that FDA approval is a personal choice! Going to save them so much money!

The FDA has sent this company multiple letters informing them they were not to be selling injectable drugs without proper approval. Ignorance is no excuse here.

“Just because it’s not FDA approved doesn’t make it any less valuable to us!”

Actually, that’s exactly what it means.

“I’m not sharing testimonials, just my personal experiences with the product.”

Ooops! That Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means - Sabeza HR : Sabeza HR

“B12 is an injectable that isn’t a drug.”

It requires a prescription from a licensed medical professional with a DEA number and has years of sound scientific evidence behind it, not to mention is manufactured and distributed by qualified and credentialed medical sources.

I’m sure we’ll get more in the comments, and I’m downright looking forward to continue to debunk myths and red herring arguments. We haven’t even touched on the sketchy legal records of the founders of SJP or their MLM/Pyramid distribution scheme, because I wanted to specifically debunk the lack of science before more people go sticking needles full of God knows what into their horses, but we can totally do a round 2.

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DIY Dyeing a Sun Shirt Ombre

After seeing Kelly and Amanda take their stab at dyeing sun shirts, I too, wanted to be fun and trendy. I used a cheap SmartPak sunshirt, which I’ve also discovered I really like, so added bonus there.

My first shot was tie dye. I REALLY wanted a tie dye sun shirt (yes, according to Emily I am on a one-woman mission to get kicked out of the barn for wearing ridiculous outfits). I bought the RIT Synthetic Dye, got set up and… dove in. Knowing you have to keep the shirt in the dye, submerged, I didn’t think I’d be able to do multi color tie dye, but I figured maybe a single color starburst? Rubber banded it up like old-school tie dye, pushed away my summer camp 2001 memories and went for it. Unfortunately, because of the way the dye sinks in and spreads around, it all just turned… pink.

What I wanted
What I got

Dismayed, I washed it, tossed it into a pile and stopped thinking about it. Then Amanda’s posts popped up and we started chatting and she threw it out – ombre.

Game on.

So I used the last of my dye, took the shirt and put it into the pot bottom first, keeping it sort of.. upright? Just so it didn’t go in like a wad of fabric. I set timers on my phone for 10 minutes and every 10 minutes, I pulled a little bit out (so the collar stayed out, then gradually I’d pull a little more out of the pot). I draped it on the handle of the pot I was using, although it was a little ghetto and I definitely got dye water all over the place. This wouldn’t work if you have a gas stove, you might have to hold it or find a way to like, string it up?

I’d keep stirring the pot to keep it swirling around the entire shirt while I was waiting (great time to catch up on EquiRatings podcasts). After about an hour, I pulled the entire thing out, followed the rinsing directions and tossed it into the wash.

This morning, I had this!

Overall, I’m calling it a success because I think it’s pretty cool looking, albeit not perfect.

If I did it again I’d change a few things:

  • Bigger pot – allow it to lie flatter and I think would help not cause any splotchy spots
  • Timer at 5-8 minutes and move it reaaallllyy incrementally. Mine goes to dark a little higher up than I’d like it to
  • Find a way to suspend it above the pot and gradually raise it? This might be more of a feat of engineering than I’m willing to go for, BUT I think it would make the dye really even across
  • Zip the collar

That’s all there is to it! It wasn’t hard, just a bit messy, but it all cleaned up pretty easily (minus my hands which are tinted pink because I basically never wear gloves for anything). Let me know if you try it and what your results are like – and if anyone figures out tie dye OMG TELL ME HOW.

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Tom “Iggy” Haverford

The ‘which TV character is your horse’ is always a fun, popular question to answer, but it’s left me stuck with Iggy. I’ve been trying to come up with who it could be for months, when it hit.

Duh.

Iggy is Tom Haverford from Parks & Rec.

Don’t believe me? Hear me out.

How he feels about dressage before XC

Iggy thinks every single ride is the OMG hardest thing he has ever done. We went on a 30 minute walk trail ride the other day and he acted like he’d just run Kentucky when we got home. That said, he does always think his effort was the best and he works harder than anyone else.

Case in point. He struts out of every arena relishing in his praise for being a good boy. However, this praise also leads to… his self-esteem. And the fact that there is absolutely no lack of it. He may be little, but in his mind he is a 17.1 Thoroughbred running 5 stars.

My trainer’s best quote to describe Iggy is, “he is a horse who thinks very highly of his own opinions.”

This should be making sense by now
His reaction to being asked to do literally.. uh, anything he doesn’t want to

A flair for the dramatic? Check. Ife he could talk, would his responses be full of sarcasm? Absolutely. Thinks everyone should and does love him? YUP

Does he always think he looks good? 100%. Iggs loves to put on a show and he’s all about anything bright, shiny and new. And of course… if there’s something he wants? He takes it. (Ahem, how do you think we found out about his love to Hot Tamales…)

He’s constantly on the hunt for cookies. Because duh, you just walked in from turnout, so TREAT YO SELF.

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Unicorn saddles, episode 5?

After the Sharon White clinic and my lesson with Tim it became apparent my saddle was not going to quite cut it. It was fine, but my stirrups really needed to be another hole or two shorter (be quiet, knees) which meant my flap was going to be too straight and too long. It had already become evident my quarantine-butt needed an 18″ vs the 17.5″ I was riding in and so the hunt was on for an ever-elusive 18″ 1AA Devoucoux Chiberta. In my price range.

Fun fact: there are lots of 18″ ones out there. With 2A, 3A, and the sort flaps. There are a solid number of 1AAs out there. With 16.5″ seats. Combine shrimp legs with jumbo shrimp butt and suddenly things are more… difficult.

I was browsing eBay a few weeks ago when I opened a listing – it just said 2010 Chiberta monoflap. No details, so I assumed it’d be an 18 3AA or something, but… it wasn’t. An 18″. With a 1AA flap. And the panels to fit Iggy.

IN MY PRICE RANGE.

UNICORN

I immediately freaked the hell out and messaged Emily who found the same listing on eBay.

The problem was my saddle was not sold. Or really, had any interest at all. I fretted for days, checking if it was still available. Then, right before our HT last weekend, someone asked to take it on trial. I said okay, because I just wanted the thing SOLD okay? And then hoped and prayed and crossed all the crossables that it would, in fact, sell.

Evidence my ass needed some room

Well, it did. And within minutes of that, I’d paid for that unicorn of a saddle in my size.

For some amusement, I was showing photos to a friend and she noticed it was coming in the original Devoucoux barrel. I explained a lot of the French saddles ship in barrels like those. Later that day, we were at the barn watching some other rides and I was showing her a really fancy gelding at our barn who is a Selle Francais imported from France. Without missing a beat, she glances at me and casually asks, “Oh, did he come in a barrel too?”

Anyways, the seller very graciously shipped this thing next day air INTERNATIONAL, without being asked which is… insane. And I don’t want to think about what it cost her. Only for it to get pulled for a customs inspection and sit in Memphis for three days.

Welcome to ‘this is where I finally crack from 2020’! I fretted and paced and called FedEx about 37 times who were USELESS. I texted Emily and brainstormed ways to jailbreak it with Michele (I’m sure stealing from US CBP isn’t like a SERIOUS federal crime) and just generally drove EVERYONE insane. Finally, Friday morning I straight up called Memphis CBP and prayed I’d get someone who was in a good mood cause it was Friday.

My prayers were answered when one of those thick southern accents answered the phone. “Oh, I’ve got this.” Cue up that former southern sorority girl and before you knew it, I had this sweet agent making calls and sending emails until we discovered it had, in fact, been selected – but FedEx just… hadn’t bothered to deliver/transfer it to customs. COOL THATS YOUR JOB FEDEX. He told me he’d figure it out and even walk over after lunch and see if he couldn’t get it through that night. We hung up with him giving me his direct line and name, just in case I still had issues on Monday. (No, this is not the start of a rom com, although perhaps it should be… Officer K, you single?)

Well he worked his magic and it cleared customs at 3am Saturday morning and was back on track for delivery. I borrowed a friend’s Amerigo so I could finally have a jump lesson Sunday and then first thing Monday morning…

The barrel has landed
MY PRETTY

It’s gorgeous and perfect and buttery soft and grippy. And it was beautiful all day… and just as I finished work, it poured rain for the rest of the night. Which I think was Iggy’s way of reminding me, “hey lady today is my day off!”

Luckily, the next night was clear and I just can’t get over how perfect it is. Actually having a short enough, but forward flap?! Room in the seat?! Miracles, I tell you.

Unexpectedly, because it has the same panel configuration as my old one, this one even seems to fit Iggy better. The only difference is a couple years newer and it has “B” density foam, which absolutely nobody seems to know what means (or they work for Devoucoux and refuse to tell me…) Nonetheless, I’m not complaining about it fitting him better.

I think he likes it

So here’s to hoping that concludes 2020’s episode of “Saddle Shopping Hell: Customs Edition”

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Ditches don’t have hot tamales (June Schooling HT XC)

After my genius moves out on the stadium course, I was bound and freaking determined I was NOT GOING TO GET LOST on XC. Like, that was my goal. What’s that saying, “aim for the moon, even if you miss you’ll be in the stars” – this is something like “aim for making it to your gd space shuttle, even if you miss, you might make it to Target.”

Spoiler alert: I didn’t get lost! WOOHOO!

I did, however, do the following:

  • Talk through my entire course (I really need to get a Cambox if only for the audio recording)
  • Sit up and ride at the first (big) ditch, getting over it beautifully, only to completely not ride to the second (not even real) ditch and have a stop
  • Convince Iggy that, yes, there was a rollback in this XC course and yes, he was going to do it
  • Gallop the last two jumps completely out of stride because I am a minor adrenaline junkie, I love my pony and it was SO MUCH FUN
So much fun
Image by Grace Waggoner

Essentially, that sums it up. The stop was dumb-dumb-dumb, but entirely my not riding. It was a half coffin, ditch to coop and others had issues there, mostly with the coop, but Iggy could have cared less about that. I honestly think he likes to look in ditches to check for hidden treasure. Like, “Oh, a ditch, I wonder if someone hid some hot tamales in here for me!”

Needless to say, I will be riding every single stride to every single ditch forever now. He can have hot tamales after the finish flags.

Even with my dumb 20, we easily finished inside the time (honestly, without the penalties, we would have been cutting it a little close on speed faults, OOPS) and it was a fantastic experience. Overall, my goal for the weekend was to finish on a number, and that we did! We ended up 11th out of 15, but honestly I could seriously care less about it. It was about getting our first completion together under our belt and that we did!

Next up is camp (!!!) the 6th-10th of July and then off to IEA, assuming we get in. I sent entries in on opening day, so fingers crossed.

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Lost human: between jump 4 and 5, reward offered

Our barn holds a schooling HT every June and with all of COVID going on, it was unsure if it would be a go for a while, but it ended up happening two weekends ago.

It’s a one day HT on Sunday, so we run some little mini derbies on Saturday evening which is a fun way to stretch legs and get some saddle time before Sunday. We went out and just did the BN derby and had a blast.

Our course had three stadium jumps to start, five XC jumps and back to the arena over two SJ jumps. Iggs felt awesome going in and while there were some jumps we hadn’t jumped out there, I wasn’t over concerned about anything; mostly just so excited to finally get out there with him! We had a great, albeit slowwwww, round. He thought realllllly hard about stopping at the same ditch he had in our lesson with Tim just a few days earlier, but I had predicted that and with a tap and a cluck he realized it was just easier to do as I asked. Good pon. We took some really long routes because I wasn’t concerned with ribbons (it was closest to OT), mostly just wanted a good, confident run before the next day. Mission accomplished, he was lovely and it was the perfect setup.

Dis my pony he cute

Sunday morning was literally… chilly. Like, we had jackets on. It was so bizarre, but then again it’s 2020 so I honestly shouldn’t have been surprised if it had snowed or something. We had great ride times so we had a nice, relaxing morning before our dressage test.

LOOK WHERE MY LEG IS! NOT SOCIALLY DISTANCING ITSELF FROM MY BODY!

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from our test – I had no real baseline with Iggy. We’ve taken some lessons, but we hadn’t actually run through the entirety of BN B except for the Wednesday before (which was an actual rodeo when two horses got loose and Iggy immediately said “F DRESSAGE, THEY ARE RUNNING WHY ARE THEY RUNNING SHOULD I BE RUNNING I THINK I SHOULD BE RUNNING TOO IS IT GOING TO EAT ME I JUST KNOW I’D BE AN APPETIZER OMG”). Fun times. Luckily, Sunday we had our brains between our ears (mostly) and were feeling good. Our test was certainly not my best, but also wasn’t my worst. We ended up with a 35.3 with a test that scored consistently at 6.5. Essentially, it came down to an unsteady connection which was no real surprise because I haven’t entirely figured out how to maintain it. I can get it, sure, but then I lose it, get it back, lose it… Rinse, repeat. All in all, I was happy to get through without any major mistakes and with something that had good feedback to build off the rest of the season.

Video still, better than nothing

Our stadium round was absolutely lovely and beautiful and smooth until it, uh, wasn’t.

“Iggy, please come to the front of the store to retrieve your lost mom.”

But hey, I finally got a decent stadium pic?

We came off four and were supposed to come around and jump five which was across the short end of the arena and I just… cantered very nicely right on by it. Until I spotted the jump I was going to was six and thought, “Waaaait. I know I can count to 5 and that’s six and I’ve only jumped five jumps so….” Cue loud exclamation of, “Oh SHIT.” (Apologies to underage ears in warmup) We proceeded to do a lovely 30m circle and jump five and the rest of our course beautifully. And so, my should-have-been clear round had 6.4 time penalties because I CAN’T STAY ON COURSE THIS IS A PROBLEM.

Can someone install GPS on my horse?

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Pants are a problem

It started with my old Airowear XC vest – it used to give me bruises on the inside of my upper arms. I figured it was the downside to boobs + XC vest and lived with it until I upgraded to my Champion. Magically, that problem was solved overnight. Life was good.

Spoiler alert: life never stays that good, not in 2020.

Then it was the breeches. First, the beautiful Carma Italia’s that are my absolute, favorite summer breeches. The fabric. The fit. The color. The grip. The… seam across the shin that has never bothered me before? Yuuup. Then the brand new Ariat Pro Tri Factors – OMG finally a breech with a tech-y European fabric I can afford! But wait. Seams.

Despite this never being an issue before in 27 years of my life, apparently if there is a seam on my shin under my boots now, I will get a nasty, awful, painful (bloody, ew) rub. No matter where my socks go or what boots I use.

This is painful

What. The. Hell.

Thank GOD most of my fancy ass Animos are just fine to keep riding in, but it means I’m down to five pairs of breeches and one pair of whites. This should be enough, but I also despise doing laundry. It also means I’ve sold a really large number of beloved breeches recently and just resigned myself to riding in my workout leggings all summer.

I’ll spare you more photos of my legs for cute pics of Iggy

The realization is I am the human equivalent of the Thoroughbred you know who gets rubs, scratches, scrapes and hair falling out if you so much as look at them wrong. Is there some kind of incentive program for me?

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Move the feet: Tim Bourke Lesson

Quarantine meant nothing happened and then suddenly… everything happened at once and now I have 32235 things to write about and catch up on? Two weeks after our Sharon White clinic, Tim Bourke was at our barn for a clinic. It filled basically the day it opened and I didn’t get my act together fast enough, but luckily he had a few spots for lessons on Monday morning before he left. I snagged one of those up real quick and took the morning off work for a XC lesson (best use of PTO).

A recent hack with a barnmate

I audited all weekend as well, so my notes from the clinic are in somewhat haphazard bullet points that are a mix of my own lesson and others, but the points are consistent.

I didn’t have a stadium lesson, so I’ll just throw all those notes in at once, because writing them down = helpful.

One of the barn mom’s took this of me while I was auditing and I love it
  • Don’t jump your last fence like it’s your last fence: keep riding like you have to go jump something else
  • If you don’t get the change, half halt/block the outside, teach them to do the one stride/skip change. If it takes you 3-4 strides to change every time, you’re costing yourself time and rhythm (hiiii it me!)
  • Check all your gears and change them up before you get to the first fence – make sure you have forward, collected and can move between them. Obviously applies to XC too!
  • He doesn’t mind a miss on the way into a line because that’s information you can use to adjust, but a miss on the way out means you didn’t listen or use the information you got on the way in

Tim is big on making sure you have your transitions within the gaits before you ever jump so much as a ground pole. Lengthen, shorten, lengthen, shorten. They all have to be available at the touch of a button (leg?) and that’s where you want to start. Iggy is decent, but we definitely have to remember to do this in warm-up every time because it’s not a given that he’s going to remember this is something he has to do every time. Like reminding men that dirty socks go in the hamper. They’ll do it, but they’re not going to remember…

Video screenshots are all I have sadly

I know he’s made the example before, but I always love coming back to his basketball example – if you bounce it softly and take your hand away, it just fizzles out. But if you bounce it hard, it bounces more frequently and if you remove you hand, it keeps bouncing (aka horse’s legs keep hitting the ground and you don’t miss).

This one was a miss

He also talks a lot about making it subconscious – because if you have to remember to do it, when you get to a show, you’ll probably forget. What was fun to see, because we’ve talked about this concept for two years now, were the things I used to have to think about consciously that have evolved into subconscious. While my actual visual riding skill may not look a whole lot different now vs two years ago, my mental skills are totally different. Tim is also big on making a decision. Do something. Even if it’s wrong, you’ve learned something (like… don’t do that). If you don’t do anything, you can’t learn from it. Two years ago, I was the QUEEN of doing nothing. These days, I actually have the ability to think and make decisions on course (more on that soon!) now as opposed to just using all my mental capacity to make it around and not make any decisions at all.

But I made decisions to this one!

We jumped a whole assortment of things, including the trio of banks/ditches/water. Iggs didn’t care about banks or water, per usual, but definitely wanted to stop and eyeball the ditch before jumping it. Funny enough, one of my prouder moments was when he stopped and I actually reacted the way I’m supposed to – make him move his feet, think about it, don’t just turn away. After that, he didn’t care and popped right over it like no thing. However, this ‘I want to look at ditches I have already jumped many times before’ should have been a lesson that stuck with me…

Water however… “IGGYGOSPLASH”

The other big theme of the day was timing. Knowing where to collect before a fence as to not slow the feet down too much and understanding where that sweet spot is on your horse. On a hot one with a big ass stride? A little earlier. On Iggy? A little later. We played with it and sure enough, the timing got better each time (no pun intended).

Down into the sunken road – he rides through this so well every time

It was a fantastic lesson and I was so glad to ride with Tim on Iggy before camp starts in a few weeks. We left with some homework and some things we put into practice right off the bat.

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