Bro Do You Even Gymnastic?

I love gymnastics. I seriously could not love them more. I want to do gymnastics all the time.

No seriously, think about it for a minute. If the striding is set up correctly, you only have to find one distance: to the first jump. After that, as long as you stay straight and keep your leg on (or in my case, leg on and half halt every 0.3 seconds), you’re set up for the rest of the exercise. And that lets you forget about steering, remembering courses, counting down to a distance, any of it.

You can just straight up work on your position. And get into all the oogly details. And I love that.

Let me take a step back to the start of our lesson. After finding a tick on Addy, removing a tick from Addy (aka someone else removing a tick from Addy because EW), and tacking up with lots of nose smooshes, we hopped on under a beautiful rainbow. We warmed up with some no-stirrup work, half-seat, transitions, etc. with lots of walk breaks to catch our breath in the heat. I think my no-stirrup work lately is starting to pay off- I still feel the burn, but I can manage a lot more than I used to.

We moved on to extended-collected canter transitions with a few canter-trot transitions thrown in there. Hello lovely giraffe, so nice to see you. Yes we are trotting, no we are not cantering, and yes I promise to let you know when that changes.

We also schooled walking a little bit. I know, sounds silly. But if I’m walking on a loose rein and start to gather them up, Addy will move off into a nice canter. For those of you who ride horses that require a lot of leg, this may sound awesome. And to an extent it is. But Addy reeeeally needs to learn how to walk on a contact instead of assuming she knows what’s going on. She got very wiggly and jiggy when I asked her to just walk, so that’s something I’m going to work on with her. Contact does not necessarily equal moving out. It equals listening to me.

And then it was jumping time! We had the choice of trying out a new course that Trainer set up or doing a gymnastic and I immediately called out “GYMNASTIC DEFINITELY” with an apologetic look back at my lesson buddy. She assured me that was totally cool with her.

So we trotted over a crossrail a couple times. Addy got a little crooked coming in- for some reason she was very look-y about everything yesterday. But we popped over it and then built it to a one-stride. It was a nice short one stride, so we had to package up and balance coming in. Addy ran through flat a couple times, so my focus was on getting her to the base so that she would jump up and around instead of just across.

Trainer then added a third jump that made it a one stride to a bounce. This was only the second time I’ve ever done bounces, but Beastly Unicorn said NBD. I practiced my auto release through there, which was weirdly hard. I seem to get more off balance over the smaller jumps even though I don’t have a problem with it over bigger jumps. I’m thinking that’s a sign that I need to work on my stability and rely less on Pretty Pony to keep my balance.

Then the last jump went up so that it was crossrail, one stride, vertical, bounce, crossrail, one stride, vertical. Woohoo! No joke, I literally “woohoo”-ed after going through that because GYMNASTICS ARE THE BEST EVARRRR.

Turns out you should never “woohoo” in front of your trainer during a lesson, because then she thinks you’re having too much fun and tells you to do it without stirrups. I asked her if she was joking because it sounded kinda like a joke, but she responded with, “If the exercise is too easy for you, then we have to make it harder. You’re not learning anything if it’s too easy.” Touche.

It wasn’t as much of a hot mess as I anticipated! The combination of no stirrups and auto release proved to be a bit too much for me- no feet AND no mane to grab?!- so I moved back to a crest release for this. That’s another homework point: work on half-seat with no stirrups to develop that leg and core strength so I can have truly independent hands.

After doing that a couple times, I made another mistake of telling Trainer that she has ruined my ability to judge fence heights by (1) lying like a dog about what height a jump is and (2) making me less scared so 3′ doesn’t look that big anymore. Seriously, she’ll tell me something is 2’9″ when it’s actually closer to 3’3″ (and she darn well knows it!). She took that to mean that the last jump was too low at 2’6″, so she bumped it up a couple holes and had me jump it sans-stirrups one more time.

I am the Queen of Crappy Screenshots. This is before we bumped that vertical up a couple holes.

You’re waiting for a disaster here but there wasn’t one. It felt pretty much the same, just a hair more hang time. Sorry to disappoint. It was pretty cool to know that I can hang on decently over a fairly substantial height though!

While I was working on no-stirrups and auto-releasing, my lesson buddy had a very interesting exercise. Trainer actually duct-taped her stirrups to her girth to force her leg into position. She told me she felt like a floppy fish out of water, but it actually looked great! My old trainer used to do that exercise with me to re-train my leg into place. If it doesn’t feel weird then it’s not making a change, right?

It’s often just the two of us in our lesson “group” and I absolutely love that. The two of us are pretty closely matched in terms of riding ability and what we’re brave enough to do (so far, everything they’ve asked), and our mounts are pretty similar in athletic ability. We get to do lots of fun and challenging exercises instead of waiting for another person to play catch-up, and we both get tons of personal attention to fix our individual problem-zones. It’s fantastic. 7pm-Wednesday-Lesson-Besties 4ever.

Even though Pretty Girl was blowing pretty hard and sweating a TON by the end, she had so much pep in her step and just wanted to keep going. Seriously, the work ethic in this mare is incredible! We walked around outside for a while to cool them off before a nice cold hosing and throwing them outside.

I’m SUPER super wicked excited for June, because my lesson buddy/show buddy/bestie is starting a partial-lease on the horse she rides in our lessons! Which just so happens to be Addy’s best friend- aka the only horse she doesn’t make ugly mare faces at. Addy loooves Gracie. I’m so ridiculously pumped to get to hack around and have fun with our ponies together! We’re totally starting the amateur-adult-half-leasing-please-can-we-do-the-jumpers club. It’s just us at the moment, but give it time.

I was about to say that I’m surprisingly not that sore, but I don’t want to eat my words when the muscle aches start later today. I will instead end this here: I am so extremely grateful for a trainer that cares about the little details and pushes us to get better, and I am so extremely grateful for a horse that gets just as excited to play around as I do.

PS- I posted a video of us going through the grid without stirrups on my Instagram page, so check it out if you haven’t seen it yet!

How do you feel about gymnastics? Any tips on improving stability without stirrups?

HBTRE (Horse Bloggers Trail Ride Extravaganza)

I hope all youz guyz had an absolutely fantastic long weekend! Or if you’re like manfriend and had to work yesterday, I hope you had an absolutely fantastic regular-length weekend! I was lucky enough to ride for three days in a row and it was AWESOME. And I will tell you why.

It is because two of those rides were on Addy, and she’s so awesome blah blah blah I love her so much etc. But the other was on another horse.

To be exact, on Courtney’s (from Vintage Virginia) horse. I’ll give you a minute to go check out her blog right now- she’s got really cute horses, does cool projects, and has a kickin’ sense of style. In short, she’s awesome.

You may remember that a couple weeks ago I mentioned that trail rides totally freak me out and I very much like to be contained by a fence. Courtney, being totally baller, invited me out to ride one of her ponies at a park nearby! We both brought our menfolk just in case one of us was the Craigslist killer, but luckily there were no murder shenanigans.

Let me just say that this girl has some fantastic horses. We went and played around in the ring for a while, with me riding her wonderful Appy Vintage and Courtney on her 6yo baby Berry. So cute! Vintage was such an old pro and handled me flopping around without flicking an ear. We popped over a crossrail a couple times, and even hopped over a vertical!

Look at pony fly!

It was sooo weird to be on a horse that wasn’t Addy- I haven’t ridden any other horses since last September. Vinny doesn’t idle at a hand gallop and actually required me to use my leg for speed. But little pony had the smoothest canter! Seriously, it was like gliding around the ring. I fell in love with her almost immediately.

Then it was time for actual trail riding! Turns out that James Long Park has pretty extensive trails, and we took full advantage of them. (If you’re in the northern VA area I would definitely recommend heading out here, it was awesome!). This was one of Berry’s first outings this year and she handled it all so well. Vintage, being an amazing horse that I love, was an angel and took me through the woods and up and down hills without any problems.

It was super fun to get to chat with Courtney and bond over horses with a new friend! Since the horses were so well behaved, we were able to just relax and enjoy a beautiful day.

Once we emerged from the woods, we were on the opposite side of the park from where the trailer was parked. So we decided to give the horses a little canter stretch across the beautifully manicured flat grass. Turns out that the reason it was so flat and nicely manicured is because it was a soccer field and I think we weren’t really supposed to ride on it, buuuuuut come on people. Perfectly smooth ground. Tell me you wouldn’t have done the same thing.

The trailer was parked in a field so we decided to do a couple more laps running around before cooling out. Yeehaw! Little Appy had mad ups, she really kicked it into a higher gear! This coming from a trail-riding-weenie: this pony took such good care of me that I didn’t even get nervous running around in a field. It was awesome! It actually made me realize why people get so exhilarated on cross country. Berry seemed to have a blast running around too, and both horses wanted to keep going when we walked to cool them out.

Vinny leading the way and Berry saying hi.
Vinny looking like a little lady and Berry saying HAYYYY
Both of us saying, “One more lap? Don’t mind if we do.”
Vinny saying “WTF is this stupid chair seat you’re doing, get off my face and let me go run around a little more”
Having a stupid amount of fun

Never fear, we did not forget about the menfolk. Turns out they’re both huge movie buffs that greatly enjoy guns, so I don’t even think they noticed when we left or came back. We both had to holler a couple times to get their attention.

Short version: I got to meet another horse blogger who I really admire, had an awesome time getting to know her and her girls, manfriend is pumped about a new friend, and it was an amazing time. Can’t wait to go play again soon 🙂

Things that Don’t Scare Me

I very sadly missed my lesson last night due to stupid sniffles/sore throat/general ickiness, so no lesson review today. Instead, I’d like to focus on some positives in my riding by talking about stuff that doesn’t scare me anymore!

I’m a bit of a weenie ammy- when things get hard I get nervous. Luckily I’ve got the DragonMare watching my back and she takes this job very seriously, so I’ve been brave lately. Even when she stopped at those fences at our show, she popped her head up so I wouldn’t go flying off the front. At least, that’s the reasoning I’m ascribing to her (it couldn’t just be that it made stopping easier, could it?).

There are plenty of things that make me nervous, and I think they might be a little different than some people’s “scare list.” But there are plenty of things that seem to make a lot of scare-lists that don’t bother me, and I’m going to keep my focus on being brave!

Without further ado, here’s a list of stuff that doesn’t give me a sinking feeling of dread in my stomach:

  1. Oxers. I dunno, I just don’t ride these differently. Sure, the horse is going to jump a little harder to clear the spread, but whateva. DragonMare usually overjumps by a foot anyways, so these don’t feel that different. Maybe once the spreads start getting wider and wider I’ll start to get a little leery, but for now they don’t even register other than as a mental note on my course.
Wuteva oxer we don’t care
  1. Combos. Why do people hate combos?? They automatically set you up for the out! Even if you come in messy, sitting up and adding leg will almost always get you out decently. And if you come in nicely, it’s the best feeling in the world to flow out. One-stride, two-stride, three, whatever. Moar combos pls. Then again, I’m lucky enough to have a horse with the power to recover in the middle, so that absolutely helps.
  2. Higher fences. Now, I’m not talking about 4′ brick walls. I’m talking within reason here. I know that Addy easily has the scope for 4′, so 3′ doesn’t feel like a big deal any more. Sometimes I’ll look at a jump and think that it looks big, but I just point Addy at it and suddenly it doesn’t feel that bad. This ties into the Dragon overjumping everything- my trainer and I joked that moving up to 3’6″ wouldn’t feel any different since she usually clears that height anyways. Why be scared of a height we’re already unofficially jumping?
Yeah, Addy, the jump isn’t that high.
  1. Pace. This is a new addition to the list. Forward used to freak me out, HARD. I was the Queen of Collection and adding strides. But I can’t be scared of pace and ride a horse like Addy, because I would spend the whole time grabbing mane and screaming to slow down. It was SUPER weird in the jumpers to just roll with the galloping step, but it was so so so much fun! Addy has so much power and to feel her beasting around that course was incredible.
  2. Stopping at jumps. Don’t get me wrong, I HATE this. Hate with a capital H. I want that pony to get to the other side of the jump- over, under, or through. But it doesn’t freak me out to get a stop. It used to make me very nervous, but I’m apparently sticky enough to keep my seat (another new development), so I’m less likely to fall off the front or side. Now it just makes me mad. Especially when it’s a simple vertical. How is that scary to DragonMare?!
  3. Random distractions around the farm/showgrounds. Pretty Girl only gets bothered by this stuff if I do. Our last show was the first time I warmed her up myself and we went all over the place, and she didn’t blink. Sane pony means I can stop spooking at the water truck.
DragonMare don’t care.

There you have it! I’m really happy to have such a trustworthy partner as the DragonMare that lets me focus on the joy of riding instead of my nerves.

PS- Please forgive my re-use of photos. I just love them. She’s so cute!

Wordless Wednesday- Leadline Kiddo

This tiny human is one of the cutest little girls and was totally the best dressed one out of all of us. She loved her cupcake bows, and loved the leadline ponies we brought: Dexter and… you guessed it. Cupcake.

Further Thoughts on Our First Jumper Show

A few more thoughts on this weekend:

  • I MANAGED TO TRAIL RIDE. After doing a homework ride on Friday, two of us meandered out onto the trails nearby which took us onto a golf course. I even cantered without a fence around me! Owner Lady hasn’t taken Addy out, so this *may* have been Pretty Girl’s first trail ride. In usual DragonMare fashion, absolutely nothing fazed her and she very happily trotted up and down hills! We were only out there for maybe 15 minutes, but nothing bad happened! Next time we’ll stay out and play longer. It really was a fun mental break before heading to the show.
  • I submitted a picture from this show to JudgeMyRide (I know, I’m a little obsessive about sending them in…) and Rob Gage already got back to me!! Check out his feedback here. I was pretty thrilled!
  • I lost a pound of sweat on Saturday. You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. I literally lost a full pound in sweat. I sweat through my shirt before I even started my warmup. Sweat everywhere.
  • I saw a whole bunch of people in the jumper ring wearing white breeches. There were no jumper classics at this show. People were wearing white in the 2’3″ jumpers. I feel like a jerk for getting so offended by a pair of pants, but come on people! You have to earn those white pants! Either that or I’m going to ignore my trainer and wear my own white pants next time. JK LOL it’s not in my DNA to ignore my trainer, tan pants 4ever. We are making huge strides towards our jumper classic though… (Get it? Huge strides? HAH)
  • Next time, I will be wearing a light-colored long sleeve shirt. The navy looked great, and was roughly 473 F. I’m also sporting a rockin’ farmer’s tan. Any suggestions for a good sunshirt?
  • Speaking of shirts, I saw a bunch of people in the jumpers wearing non-collared shirts. Now this was a local show, true, but I thought collared shirts were kinda the deal? There were lots of non-collared sunshirt types, which certainly looked more comfortable than what I had on. But I come from Eqworld/Hunterland where you wear a dark wool jacket in July because that’s just how it’s done. Someone please tell me what I can get away with in here!
  • It was the weirdest feeling to not try and slow Addy down. I still tried to package her to the base and around the turns (with varying degrees of success), but I was able to let her open up and find her own pace. As you may have seen in the video I posted yesterday, “her own pace” means a bright and cheerful hand-gallop. I’m not used to going this fast. I like this.
  • This weekend we didn’t worry about being efficient with our courses. I saw other people slicing turns and being really smart about their tracks, but I had too much going through my brain to think about that. Next time I’ll worry about that.
  • I love Jumperland! With a few tweaks I think we’re gonna really like it here 🙂

Chapter 4: In Which We Learn A LOT

Our first jumper show is officially under our belts! While I had dreams of bringing home straight blues, that did not happen. But by our last class we did make it around every jump on our first try, so I’ll take that as a win.

Let me explain.

By dawn on Saturday we were already on the trailer and on the road to Loch Moy. No joke, I was at the barn before 5am. We got there before 7am and I tacked up real quick to take advantage of the open schooling. Addy was an absolute dream- relaxed, focused, and moving around comfortably in the three different rings I dragged her to.

Fun fact- apparently you’re not supposed to school over jumps in the jumper ring. Everyone looked at me like I was an idiot when I said I didn’t know that. Now I know. Oops! We only got 3 in before the lady came running and yelled NO JUMPING IN THE JUMPER RING anyways, so not that much. #irony.

Addy went back on the trailer since our classes weren’t scheduled to start until 10:30 at the earliest. Naptime by the the hunter ring, helping the leadline kids get ready (CUTEST LITTLE PONIES), and watching the lower level jumpers go. We started to tack up around 11:15 as the 2’6″ jumpers started, thinking that would be perfect to get ready, head over to the warmup ring, and stretch out a bit before the 2’9″ opened up.

So we warmed up, which looked a bit like this:

Feeling very sassy/sun in my eyes/sassy about the sun
Addy and I both giving the WTF face/squinting at the sun/saying WTF to the sun
DragonMare popping over a little vertical like it’s no big deal, and both trainers in the patented Trainer Pose.

….And then we waited. In the sun. Hot. And waited some more. Then it was finally time to go in for our 2’9″ classes! And I wish I could tell you it all looked like this:

All purposeful and whatnot
Trotting into the ring because WE’RE AWESOME
Sleeping over this vertical BECAUSE WE’RE SO RELAXED

Yeah. LOL. Nope. We got excused from our first round after two refusals. They weren’t dirty stops, just new jumps and I wasn’t backing Addy up enough with my leg. As my trainer put it, I was waiting for something bad to happen…so Addy delivered.

Our second course did go much better, though we still had a refusal going into the 2-stride combo. Again, this was entirely my fault- she had stopped at this before and I didn’t have a chance to correct it since we were excused from the ring, so she thought stopping there was OK. I whooped her butt over it and we managed to finish the course.

Then we waited for them to drag and water the ring before the 3′. I honestly considered scratching- I thought I was going to pass out from heat and hunger, and Addy and I were clearly having an off day. It looked a bit like this:

Patting pony because she really was trying to give me what I asked for and I love her.
Finding the one patch of shade in a 2 mile radius and trying not to melt off the side of my saddle.

Finally it was time to go back in for our 3′ rounds. The first was decent- we had seen all the jumps except for one, so of course Addy ducked out at that one. Honestly I think in a usual situation I would’ve been able to hold my leg and boot her over it, but the combo of heat and exhaustion made me feel pretty weak. But at least we managed to finish that course. I was really happy to get to complete that course, since it had some awesome turns and was very technical- it even had a quarter-line rollback to the rail (AKA the turn of doom). You can bet we rocked that turn like professionals. We even got through the 2-stride combo on our first try this time.

Our last course was the best one yet. Every jump, first try. We unfortunately didn’t make the jump-off due to a knocked rail, but I’ll take it! DragonMare took me over everything like it was old news. At this point I had been on her back for several hours in the hot sun and she had every right to complain, but her ears were pricked and she galloped around that course like she had come fresh off the trailer. Love this good-natured pony.

After this we skeedaddled back home to give the ponies a nice cool bath and some TLC. Addy managed to rip off a shoe in the trailer (how??), so she got fancy foot medicine and special turnout til the farrier can come. Once Addy and all my tack and the trailer were all taken care of, I made it home, ate some eggs, took a shower, and passed out at 6:30. What a long, hot, sweaty, dusty, crazy day.

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve taken some screenshots of the videos of our courses. They are potato quality, but oh well! The nice pics you see above are all courtesy of that same awesome junior who took pics of our lesson last week, and you should absolutely check out her Insta for awesome horse pics (@hgielloh). But anyways, back to my own potato pics:

First jump of each course, blue vertical set on a long approach diagonal
Potato-est of the potatoes, but these was the out of a pretty cool 4-stride. Oxer in, vertical out, so it was a technical ride.
Rollback over this American flag jump went smoothly every time
Continued to go smoothly, and Addy stopped thinking it was going to eat her and relaxed her knees.
Probably my favorite pic of the day. There’s definitely things I want to work on with my eq, but this just looks like such a “jumper-y” photo to me!

Here’s the video below, if you feel like watching a depressing mish-mash of refusals and run-outs. I considered not sharing it this time, but this blog isn’t just to talk about our successes. It’s to share our journey, even the sticky parts.

0:00 First 2’9″ round
1:14 Second 2’9″ round3:23 First 3′ round
5:43 Second 3′ round

Overall, I was pretty disappointed until I came out of the ring and saw my trainer grinning at me. She told me how happy she was that I managed to improve every round, fix what she told me to fix, and kept going back in. She said that she recognized a lot of my mistakes as ones that people make when they first enter the jumper ring and forget to support their horse, but that I wasn’t as much of a floppy fish as I thought. It seriously changed my perspective on the whole day to hear her say that. I’m still not thrilled about how I rode, but now at least I’m feeling encouraged and determined to use what we learned!

The short version: It was a hot, sweaty, long day and we didn’t ride how I wanted to, but Addy took amazing care of me and we learned a ton about how to work together in a new ring.

Onwards and upwards!

Maybe We Can Be Jumpers?

This week I’ve been very determined to work hard on getting Addy more sensitive to my leg. I am going to figure out how to poke pony with my leg, and then pony will move over when I poke her. This is the goal.

I hopped on to school Monday and walked more than I’ve ever walked to warm up- we did our lateral work homework. Lots of leg yielding (and trying to keep her shoulder from bulging through) and turns on the forehand. She was sweaty and responding really well to my leg by the end of our ride! Even though we spent most of our time walking, she was super engaged and working her whole body instead of the mosey-ing WTC we usually do. It felt good to use this as a training opportunity for both of us instead of a practice session just for me. She already has the training and know-how and willingness, she just needs a little tune-up on what I’m asking.

I was super excited for my lesson on Wednesday after having that great ride under my belt. The saddle I usually use (Owner Lady’s Toulouse) is out for repairs so I was able to borrow Trainer’s Amerigo- a very different feel but I loved it! It was a little more slippery when we were doing no-stirrup work since it’s not as cushy as the Toulouse, but I felt very secure at the canter and around the turns. We started a little strung out at the canter and it was pretty tough to package her up- I was huffing and puffing by the time we took a break. If you don’t think riding counts as cardio, you’re doing it wrong.

Here’s the course setup from last night:


We warmed up coming over 2 towards home (hence the 2h) riding that on a circle around half the ring. We moved on to 2a-6 in a quiet four once we were nice and straight and waiting to the base of the trot jump. I expected Addy to peek more at 6- it was a rolltop with pretty purple flowers standing straight up- but she sailed over it like a pro.

Then, Trainer terrified me. She told us to do 2a and roll back right to the wall in front of the standards. AKA the turn of doom.

We did it, first try!!! Granted, it was a crossrail and we trotted in, but we got it! This was such a needed confidence booster. Addy was little quieter than when we tried it last week, the jump was lower, I was more confident in our track, and it rode beautifully. We even managed to maintain a nice canter coming out of the turn.

With that rosy glow of success fueling us, our first course was 2a, rollback to the wall, 3a-4a in a direct bending 3, come over 5 and roll back left, then come back down 4h-3h in the bending 3.

Hooray for jumper turns! The first jump went smoothly again, and we had a nice powerful canter going into the swedish oxer (jump 3). The three strides out was a bit gappy for the other horses, which of course meant that it was a slight woah for us. But only slightly. We counter-bent and collected around the turn to the brick wall, and used an opening left rein to get back to the wall. Then coming into the yellow planks I didn’t hold enough left leg and Addy got confused, so while we still made the three strides to the oxer, “we made it over the jump” was about as complimentary as you could get. We went back and tried that line again, and when I held my leg the track was much straighter and more civilized.

Side note- the brick wall had a zebra gate on one side, bright orange flowers strewn across the top, and no standards. I was sure Addy would try to get wiggly to it so I was holding my leg strongly, but she popped right over without blinking. Very pleasant surprise.

The next course was extremely similar: 1-2h-3a-4a-5-4h-3h. So this time instead of rolling back to the wall, we were starting on the wall and rolling back to the quarter line. This was a little bit easier- we jumped the outside side of 1, then outside leg HARD through the turn, and sliced 2h towards the corner a bit. This deeper corner made it easier to maneuver around to the swedish, where we got an absolute flier in. We were able to recover on the out, but it wasn’t pretty. Then the brick-rollback-broken line home all rode very nicely. I went back and tried the broken line going away one more time, and this time we sat to the base and flowed out. Trainer mentioned that it’s always great to be able to recover from an “oops” in a line, but even better to get a good spot in so you can flow out.

I was absolutely ecstatic with this lesson- I’m still bubbling! We kept the jumps fairly low and just focused on how to keep the power going when you’re turning so tightly. It felt amazing. We can actually do jumper turns! I’m convinced Addy loved it- the more difficult turns we tried, the better she was about them. I loved it too- Hunterland has been very good for us, but I’m an Eq girl at heart and love to throw in some more complicated courses. I think Jumperworld will be a great place for us both to have fun doing what we love.

With that in mind, we’re going to a show on Saturday and we’ll be trying out the jumpers for the first time!! My plan is to do the 2’9″ and 3′ and see how it goes. I originally planned on doing the VHSA Adult Medal as a warmup, but I want to keep things low key and relaxed instead of worrying about switching rings. I even ordered myself a pretty navy blue Ariat polo to wear so we can look like real jumpers.

I’m a bit relieved since I’ll be able to keep all my usual gear instead of “hunterfying” it. We’re keeping the flash on her noseband, using the square pad with the fleece half-pad, and she’ll keep her boots on. Keeping everything consistent like that will definitely help me relax (I’m a creature of habit), and me being relaxed definitely helps Addy relax.

My lesson/show/real life bestie is coming to do the same classes, so we’re obviously planning on switching off 1st and 2nd. Obviously. We’re bringing wine to either toast to our successes or drown our failures. And our class won’t start until at least 10:30am, so we’ll get to relax and watch all the juniors from our barn win their classes! But actually, they’re all ridiculously good. We’ve got 10 horses going to this show, so we’ll just take over some space and cheer each other on. I’ve never shown with such a big group or had a show buddy before, and I’m loving it so much.

I’ll head over Friday to tire Pretty Girl out a little and get our gear ready, and then we’ll be off to the show! I’ll do my best to get video of our first ever jumper rounds; manfriend will be at drill this weekend and sadly can’t be on camera duty. Don’t worry, I’ll figure something out. Half the fun of showing is rewatching the video and dissecting every stride, right?

We will have another show recap for you shortly!

What do you wish you knew when you first entered the jumper ring? Any advice for this hunter/eq girl to make the switch?

PS- I submitted another post to Judge My Ride and got some good feedback! Definitely some good ideas to keep in mind. I highly recommend sending in photos if you have them, or even just browsing through the photos other people submit. I keep learning new things!

Wordless Wednesday- Momma

Momma came to town for Mother’s Day! We had an amazing weekend of eating, shopping, and getting to spend time together for the first time since Christmas.

Breeches Review

I’ve been slowly building up my collection of riding pants over the last few months, and I wanted to share my findings with you. Here’s a list of what’s currently in my closet and what I think about them:

Image: Smartpak. Looks accurate.

TS Trophy Hunters (mid-rise, side-zip $189): Obsessed. They are definitely the most expensive breeches in my closet, but I think they’re worth every penny. I have them in tan and white and can’t wait to collect more colors. The material stretches where it should, holds me in where it should, and the euro-seat is super flattering. They do get a little baggy in the crotch if I’m not wearing a belt/don’t pull them up enough, but I feel naked without a belt anyways so that’s not a big deal. I may try out the front-zip or low-rise for schooling some time.

I can’t find a picture that look like mine.

TS (low-rise, side-zip, on sale for $99): Just the classic breeches, though I think the reason they were on sale is because they’re from a defective product run- the knee patches aren’t the classic suede. These do run a little small, but they stay up nicely with or without a belt. If I could have a do-over I would either size up or get the mid-rise since they’re pretty tight on my hips, but it’s not too constricting so I’ll just deal with it- bonus that there’s no sagging anywhere because they stay in place on their own. A little lighter fabric than the Trophy Hunters, but still has good stretch. Got these for a steal on sale and super happy with them. Only negative: the velcro on the bottom hits at a really weird place at the inside of my leg, so I can really only use these with tall boots unless I want weird rubs on my shins.

Still can’t find a picture. Do I only own bootleg breeches?

RJ Classics (low-rise, side-zip, $140ish): These are my go-to schooling breeches. They’re a little stiff after I wash them, but once I do some knee-bends they soften up just fine. The velcro bottom hits just right on my leg, and the knee doesn’t bunch up under my tall boots. Showing in these hasn’t been quite right though: my shirt doesn’t stay tucked in because it’s too low-rise. My long-torso self needs to stick with the mid-rise for shows.

RS_brownImage: Dover. Imagine these in blue.

Riding Sport (low-rise, side-zip, $70): In case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a side-zip kinda girl. These are another favorite; I’ve washed them a thousand times with no sign of wear, I ride in them at least once a week, and the slate blue color makes me super happy. They’re stretchy, comfy, and good looking to boot. All that for $70. I would totally show in the tan version of these, that’s how much I love them.

Seriously can’t find a picture. These are pretty bootleg though.

Fouganza tights (mid-rise, pull-on, $15 on sale): So yeah, these breeches were on sale for $15 and there’s a reason for that. They’re a nice stretchy knit, pretty thick so good for winter. The knee patch is just more fabric so there’s not a ton of grip there. I only ever wear these for riding on my own, never in lessons, and they get the job done. These are what I wear on bath days since I don’t mind getting them wet and dirty and messy. They’re showing a little wear after being washed a bunch, but for $15 I won’t complain.

These do not deserve the honor of a photograph.

Corduroy full seat (mid-rise, pull-on, depths of a consignment shop): I won’t even dignify these with a brand name because it’s not worth digging them out of the depths of my closet. The suede full seat makes me feel like I’m wearing a diaper and these only make an appearance when I don’t do laundry for 3 weeks and have literally no other choice. Even then I’ll probably end up wearing jeans with my half chaps. Anyone want to buy some terrible full seat breeches? (I don’t think I have a promising future in sales).

My question for you, Dear Readers: what’s your favorite breech for schooling? For shows? Anything you would super duper recommend to someone who is 5’9″ and slender? I’m always looking to grow my collection!