How to be a Better Horse-Show-Boyfriend

From my favorite horse-show boyfriend himself, here’s Manfriend’s instructions on how to survive as someone who loves a girl who loves horse shows:

Alright gents.

If you’re reading this, there’s a fairly decent chance that you’ve been to a horse show. If you’re reading this and you haven’t been to a horse show, then: A. Why are you here? and B. You’re a terrible horse-girl significant other and she’s probably mad at you.

Being a horse show boyfriend/husband is unlike watching any other sport because quite frankly, there’s not a lot of spectating going on. It’s a relay race of hauling, holding, schlepping, reacting, and then maybe a little bit of watching. Being around your woman while she’s competing means that for the next several hours, the horse is the center of her universe and you are essentially Pluto. You have to be barely seen, not heard, but if she needs a planet then it’s handy that you’re there.

I was actually there for this show, I just wasn’t allowed close enough to show up in any pictures

Now, before I’m made out to be a hater who dreads going to shows, you must know that watching Olivia compete, win, and win some more is an absolute joy for me. Frankie is an awesome horse and equestrian sports (once you learn how it all works) are a blast to watch. Having said that, I felt compelled to post my “Crack Commandments” as it were so my other dudes in the game can survive and thrive as well.

Here’s a man’s guide to surviving a horse show.

  1. Embrace the smells. I think there is something wrong with Olivia’s olfactory receptors. She seems to think that horse manure, hay, urine and general barn smells are like a Yankee Candle burning softly in a cinnamon factory. This is the same woman who will get in my car and gag at the Febreze air freshener. Barn smells aren’t something I’ve gotten used to and probably won’t for a long time, but it’s something you’re just going to have to suck up- figuratively and literally.
  2. Become “The Invisible Mule.” After your lady has walked her course, she is in the zone. She is Eminem before facing off with Poppa Doc at the end of 8 Mile. She will need things like water handed to her, someone to hold the reins while she takes care of something, or someone she can hand her phone off to when it’s go-time. If you’re one of those guys who rocks flip flops and those Chubbies shorts, you’re gonna have a bad time. You’ll need something with ample pocket space to hold water, gloves, her crop, etc.- a hoodie at the bare minimum. You will have to be silent and unseen until your services are needed. Also, you’re going to be walking alongside her while she’s mounted quite a bit, so flip flops are a bad idea. Actually, no man should ever wear flip flops in public for any reason so write that down.
  3. Learn to be a cell phone camera expert. Unless you’re a step ahead of me and you have a nice camera, learn how to film a round. You need to get good at keeping the horse in frame and zooming in and out as you go (without making it a shaky Cloverfield J.J. Abrams-esque mess). Olivia has this blog in which she posts her video/picture content, but trust me, your horse lady would love to (and should) watch her rounds to review her technique. Not only does it help her progress, but it also equals mad likes on Instagram. And as we all know, if you can’t post it on Instagram then what’s the point? Does it even count?
  4. Bring water. Seriously. Half of you people are dehydrated throughout the entire day. This has a bit to do with horse shows and being outside and everything to do with not being a moron and wondering why you have a headache around 1:30PM. Sure, it may not look that cool to be having to make a bathroom stop more often, but it’s even lamer to be a grown man who passed out because you forgot to drink a beverage that keeps you alive.
  5. Learn the sport. As cool as it is to watch your girlfriend/wife pilot around a 1 ton beast that has a mind of its own; it’s MUCH more fun when you actually know what’s going on. Imagine going to a hockey game for the first time and wondering why all the figure skaters with shoulder pads are hitting each other. That’s what watching the jumpers without knowing the scoring system or rules is like. Once I learned what I was watching, I found myself muttering “sh*t yea” a lot more when I watched Olivia nail the last fence. Also, if you’re like me and curse like a 14-year-old on Call of Duty when mom’s not home, watch your language. There are lots of kids at these things, I’ve probably gotten stared at.

Hopefully by now you’ve learned a few things from a guy who has committed nearly every faux pas in the horse show universe and learned from it. Have fun at these things- they’re seriously a great time if you like competitive spirit and watching your loved one be better than other people.


After all, in the words of Coach Reilly from the first Mighty Ducks: “it’s not worth playing if you can’t win-WIN!”

Guest Post: Horseshowing, Bravo Edition

Many of you likely remember Holly of HeyHeyHolls fame, and I have good news for you. She’s back! I managed to coerce her into a visit to me and Frankie (I bribed her with wine and pony rides, it worked like a charm), and then managed to coerce her into a guest post. Y’all should absolutely go add her new site Marescara to your feed as she forays into eventing with her new lease.

Without further ado, I present: horse shows, as told by toddlers in tiaras and a couple of real housewives.


Stemming from a running conversation Olivia and I have been having, I decided it was more than time to just turn this into a post. Consequently, I present to you…

When I have to put my horse on a diet because he keeps taking his grazing muzzle off

I guess I’ll go braid and clip my fat horse for this show

Getting ready to show and realizing I have no idea what I’m doing

The real reason I horse show

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So I try to ask for nice dressage work during our test and instead I get

After dressage, I go to get my horse out of his stall and instead, he’s laying down

But then my horse realizes it’s time to go run cross-country

I ask for a distance and my horse blatantly ignores me

My trainer and barnmates watching my rounds

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If you cut me off in the warm up and don’t apologize

First jump, check. Second jump is… where?

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My trainer when I pick and pull and fidget to the base, AGAIN

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My horse when I pick and pull and fidget to the base, AGAIN


Come out of the ring and didn’t fall off or go off course!

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And just because I think this is hysterical, here’s Holly making Frankie look like a giant. Or maybe Frankie just makes Holly look like a child. Or maybe it’s a little bit of both. Either way:

Good Francis

Make sure you chime in to Marescara for more fun posts from Holly!

Guest Post: Father of the Crazy Horse Girl

Remember how my dad came to visit last weekend? Well here he is chiming in. A little intro: he is a colonel in the Air National Guard, an exceedingly accomplished surgeon, and a professor at an Ivy League medical school. So yeah, no slouch. He’s smarter than anyone I know, works harder than any two, and loves harder than any three people put together. I could talk for days about how wonderful of a person/father/brother/husband/son/friend/doctor/etc. he is, but I’ll save that for another time. For now, I’ll just let the man speak.


Sweet mother of pearl, you’re going to jump WHAT?!?

I am no ninny.  I’ve climbed vertical cliffs hundreds of feet high, I’ve scuba dived,  I’ve jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, I’ve flown straight up at 1,000 mph and thrown my F-16 through 9G turns (at one point I had missile lock on a tractor trailer, but that’s a story for another time), and I’ve been to war. Honest. In all of this I do not recall a moment’s fear or hesitation.  Truly, I am no ninny.  What I am is the father of one of those crazy horse people, and watching her and that behemoth arc through the air over those oh-so-folksy looking death barriers makes me afraid.

This is the “my dad can beat up your dad” picture

I don’t know that all horse people are crazy horse people because I haven’t met all the horse people, but all the ones I have met are of the crazy variety.  Not the insane kind of crazy or any bad kind of crazy, just completely over the top about horses and anything to do with horses; A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G.!  What proof do I have, you ask?  Example the first:  would it ever occur to a non-horse person to dress up a 17+ hands animal as a Tour de France bicycle – complete with huge cardboard wheels and  handlebars – for Halloween and then actually ride around in this getup? No, of course not!  Example the second:  Go to a tack store (the bigger ones are the best for this because you get a bigger response), go to about the middle of the store and say in a loud, friendly voice “Um, could I please get some advice on which one of these things to buy?”  Immediately you’ll see heads pop up over the top of the shelves all over the store, swiveling in all directions in an attempt to locate the source of the request, looking for the life of me like a bunch of meerkats or scouts from a prairie dog city.  All helpful, all happy, all knowledgeable, all delighted to help out at length, and all completely crazy.

The amateur animal behavioral psychologist in me is puzzled about why a 1500 pound animal will take directions from someone a fraction of his size and weight.  Yes, yes, I’ve heard this crazy horse lady say that all Frankie has between his ears is elevator music, but before you say “well, if all there is in there is elevator music, then of course he listens to her” I’ve also seen this same phenomenon when she rode Addy, a VERY smart Percheron cross boss-mare, and Star, a four-legged warmblood thug she owned and campaigned  in high school that would have just as soon bite me as look at me.  I’m pretty sure I know what ran/runs through the minds of all three horses: “this two-legger is crazy, and I better do what she wants or she might snap!”

I think horses are magnificent animals.  Watching the invisible communication between horse and rider and seeing the elegance of movement is breathtaking.  Watching draft horses, muscles rippling, lean into the collar and pull with immense strength and fortitude  makes my heart want to burst with admiration for the pureness of their effort.  Put crazy horse lady up on one of these magnificent creatures, and HAY ZEUS, you’re going to jump over WHAT?!?  Elegance-schmelegance, fortitude my aching mustache! That horse is trying to kill you , those jumps are too high and I saw that rail over there, the one with the colorful stripes, actually try to grab the leg of the last horse to run this course (that’s right, I’m looking right at you, stripey-pole)!  I can’t watch, you can’t make me watch, I’m sticking my fingers in my ears and closing my eyes so I can’t see or hear this, you can’t make me watch LALALALALA I can’t hear you!!!

But of course I watch, with my heart in my throat, because crazy horse lady is my daughter,  Frankie is the horse version of tall, dark and handsome, and when crazy horse lady and Frankie are on their game, I can’t tell where the one leaves off and the other begins. The economy of motion, the seemingly effortless fluid movement, crazy horse-lady’s laser focus and Frankie’s near-intuitive sensing of what she has in mind, the oneness, is nothing short of marvelous.  That kind of partnership, born of training, affection, caring and mutual respect, is so unusual and so special.

I don’t pretend to have that kind of communication with Frankie, but crazy horse lady let me get up for a short bit and walk around some.   Before I got down, I leaned forward, patted him his oh-so broad and muscular neck, and whispered thanks for being such a good partner with her and for taking such good care of her.   He flicked an ear back towards me as I spoke.  And then I listened ever so carefully just to make sure- definitely no elevator music.

Guest Post: Frankie’s Godmother

Jenn hasn’t blogged for a while, but she has been extremely active in her role as Frankie’s fairy godmother. We finally got her down for a visit so she could hop on and play around with him, and here’s what she had to say!


Greetings blog land! It’s been a minute since you heard from me last, but I need to share my firsthand experience of riding Franklin(/Frankie/Francis/To Be Frank) when I visited Olivia and her roommate last weekend.

I was super excited to re-meet Francis, since I had only briefly seen him go when Olivia tried him for the first time. We both loved him from the first minute, but I (obviously) didn’t get to sit on him that weekend, and the trial ride wasn’t terribly long. So when Olivia told me I could flat Frankie around during my visit, I was really excited! He’s probably one of the nicest horses I’ve sat on, and while I love me some Roger, I was really looking forward to getting a feel for Olivia’s horse-child.

Olivia hopped on him first for approximately 6 minutes, and then we jacked up the stirrups and I climbed aboard. Though he’s 17h, I don’t think he rides quite that large. In other words, I don’t feel like an ineffective munchkin sitting on him, although I’m sure I looked like one!

Frankie is suuuuuuuper wiggly at the walk, which is surprising, given his training level and age, so that took a minute to get used to. The wiggly walk is almost comical, because it’s definitely NOT indicative of his trot or canter. I picked up the trot, and once I got used to the forwardness, it was really fun! Frankie definitely has a metronome trot, and is easily adjustable with a half-halt or a tiny spur. Homeboy can go all day every day at the same speed, and will only stop when you tell him to, but you don’t feel like he’s running away with you either.

While I was figuring him out, I was able to get some nice work out of him in a frame, and I wish we had gotten video of it because it felt amazing! He needs a little help in the corners with keeping that shoulder where it belongs, but other than that, Frankie is really fun to trot around.

The lone screenshot. And it’s blurry. I, Olivia, am a disappointing turnip when it comes to documenting anything

I brought him back down to a walk, and then Olivia advised me about how best to pick up the correct canter lead…basically, just set him up with a little haunches-in and inside bend, and outside leg, and BOOM correct lead. I made sure to ask in the corner just for some added help, but Frankie was totally on point and we got the correct leads both times. Olivia says he’s slightly weaker to the right, but Frankie isn’t green or inexperienced by any stretch of the imagination and once I picked up the canter I couldn’t tell which side was slightly weaker.

Now, I adore Roger’s canter and think it’s really comfortable, but ohhhh man, Frankie might give Roger a run for his money. Frankie’s canter is super easy to sit and covers a lot of ground, but again, you never feel like you’re getting run away with, or like he’s unbalanced or flailing around. I can see what Olivia means by easily seeing distances from his canter; you can set a metronome to it and you’d always know where you were in the ring, and while I didn’t jump him at all, I can see how he’s easy and fun to jump around with that lovely canter.

Francis is a super fun guy; totally willing to do whatever you ask and will stay in cruise control in whatever gait unless he’s told otherwise. He’s definitely NOT spooky or easily distracted, and he loves attention and will stand cross-tied forever if you let him. He has great muscling and is SO SHINY, and he’s totally a love bug…Olivia jokes that he’s the horse version of a golden retriever.

I’m really glad I got the chance to hop on Frankie, and I can’t wait to hear about their show at HITS this weekend!

Get on the Horse? I’ll Leave That to You.

You’ve heard from Manfriend, who gets dragged around to all sorts of questionably-smelling events. But what about the person who has to actually LIVE with the stink? Now presenting my wonderful roommate/best friend/life partner:


Olivia is a Crazy Horse Person. I say that endearingly — she is wildly passionate about perfecting her riding form and refining her craft, and even more passionate about the animals themselves. She tried to put up a horse shower curtain, which I quickly vetoed. Our living room is adorned with ribbons from various shows, and the foyer will always have a dedicated place for her gear, no matter where we live. She is a Crazy Horse Person, and she is wonderful.

Hard pass.

I am not a Crazy Horse Person. I’m not even a horse person, really. They’re majestic creatures, but I have a healthy fear of them (they’re humongous!) and it turns out I’m fairly allergic. And while I knew that riding a horse wasn’t easy by any means, I always wondered, how hard it could really be? Could I do it? Would I have a knack for it the way I had a knack for basketball, soccer, weight lifting?

No. The answer is a resounding, all-consuming no.

I discovered this lack of ability after Olivia and Olivia’s Blog Friend (OBF) suggested stopping by the barn on the way home from an outing so I could hop on Addy (this was before Frankie). (Editor’s note: waivers were signed, helmets were worn, and all reasonable safety precautions were taken! Just covering my butt here.) Addy is a brick house of a lady, but my traitorous brain assured me that there was no way I wouldn’t master this horse thing after a couple of minutes.

Again, no.

Olivia and OBF figured I could go up bareback and be perfectly fine. Note to horse newbies: NEVER DO THIS. To my credit, I held on for dear life with my tree trunk legs, and I probably could have cracked a walnut with the force at which I was doing this. I also was told to hold on to her mane, and I was laugh-crying about how I didn’t want to hurt her and she has to feel this and I’m so sorry and oh my god I’m hurting her. Olivia assured me that it doesn’t and OBF agreed, but instead of holding on properly I decided that both of them are liars. How does hair pulling not hurt? Anyway.

We started walking. Not trotting, but simply walking. Holy god. I’ve ridden mechanical bulls that were easier to stay on than a walking horse. Not to mention that it’s a huge animal that you have to control, otherwise you could literally die. LITERALLY DIE. All aboard the Nope Train, people. My, ahem, “areas” were already feeling bruised (I was trying to post, I swear, but not having a saddle was hard!) when we decided to try out a little trot. It took approximately 7 seconds for me to realize that the amount of skill necessary to stay on a horse, saddle or no saddle, is both immense and terrifying, and also that I should have had a good talk with my lady parts before hopping up on that beast.

I left the barn a different person that day. And possibly one who can no longer have children.

All of this is to say that, I respect you Crazy Horse People. What you do is damn hard, and your passion is necessary to keep you motivated. I’m in awe of your dedication and your ability to harness such an extreme talent (see what I did there?). You should buy horse shower curtains, because this isn’t just something you do. This isn’t a hobby for weekends, or something you get around to. This… this is who you are.

Keep riding, keep sharing, keep getting better, keep getting stronger. Crazy Horse People 4 Eva.

I give you the eternal fist bump, my friends.

The Dream Team back in 2014 when we first moved in together. Babies.


Setting the Record Straight

Manfriend has been dragged along to lessons, shows, XC schoolings, and countless other barn outings over the last few years. It was time to give him a turn to talk.


Greetings to all you equestrian enthusiasts and faithful readers of this awesome blog. I have been asked to post as an outside guest, and the best thing I could think of was to debunk some myths that I have had in my head for years about the world of horses. Here are the 5 top misconceptions I’ve had, and the facts behind them.

Myth #1: Girls love horses because horses are beautiful creatures.


Fact: FALSE. I actually have zero idea why girls love horses because they are disgusting. They poop on their own tails, they fart extraordinarily loud when they jump, and they spew green foamy slobber from their mouths. And that’s just the first 10 minutes of a riding session.

Myth #2: Horse girls are crazy and high maintenance.

Fact: This is a big one. I know a lot of you guys out there have heard that you should avoid horse girls because “they’re crazy and their whole world revolves around horses”. This is absolutely false- I’ve heard my horse girl mention time and time again how much she cares about things that truly matter like friends, food, a good home, blankets, shoes, saddles, water, bits, turnout time…wait.

Myth #3: Horse races are for the cultured and those of high society.

Darling, looking at the camera is for sober poor people

Fact: Oh MAN have you guys been found out. You thought you could fool me with your fancy hats, your pretty dresses, and those long glove things that reach up to your elbows. You people are the biggest bunch of goddamn phonies I’ve ever seen. You see, my only experience with horse races prior to dating Horse Girl was what I saw of the NBC coverage of the Kentucky Derby on TV, where everyone is wearing a watch worth more than what I make in a year turning tricks down at the docks. When Olivia took me to my first steeplechase event, we pulled into the lot and I thought we had gotten the wrong directions and wound up at an outdoor frat convention.

You see, it was at that exact moment that I realized horse races are an excuse to drink liquor at 10AM and maybe, if you feel like it, glance at a horse or two. My eyes are forever open, I’ve been unplugged from the matrix, and I’ll be taking my red pill straight up with a whiskey back. What? No thanks…no I’m good on food, I had some from the taco truck. What? Yea, yea the one right next to where the girl in the sunhat was puking a few minutes ago.

Myth #4: Horse shows are where they trot the horses around with bows and do their manes up like my little pony.

Fact: This is literally what I thought a horse show was before actually going to my first one. The fact is that shows are competitive, sometimes dangerous and downright dirty. I didn’t fully realize this until I saw a rider fall off a horse straight into the muck on her back only to pop right back on like nothing even happened. Just a close call to a spinal injury, no big deal, that only happens to newbies and Superman right? Don’t even get me started on the cross country stuff. Barreling down an open and uneven field at top speed and launching over fences that are usually sufficient enough to keep rioters at bay? Keep on truckin’, ladies, you’re making it look easy and reminding the rest of us uninitiated folk that we would probably scream like Thad Castle (look it up) if we went half that speed.

Myth #5: She probably loves her horse more than you.

Pick a favorite face.

Fact: She lets me sleep inside, the horse has never once been invited over to her apartment (I have, lots of times), and she doesn’t smack me on the rib cage for not holding still. Usually. Besides, has Frankie ever had a slice of her homemade coconut cream pie? I think not. Who’s the clear winner here? Thought so.

Myth #6: Riding is easy because the horse is the one doing all the work.

Fact: This time I’m only talking to the men. Guys, in the 2 years I’ve been involved with the horse world, I’ve learned one simple tip if nothing else. If you have ever thought about even THINKING about maybe entertaining the thought of saying this………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

………………………………………….go for it, you’re absolutely right.


Guest Post: Blogger Weekend!

I’m sure many of you remember Jenn from Stories from the Saddle- she’s taken a hiatus from blogging but we’ve stayed close! I FINALLY managed to get her down to VA for a visit, and then convinced her to guest post about it 🙂 Enjoy!

Hello again blogland!

Apologies for the delay on writing this guest post, work has been (unexpectedly) INSANE for the past two days, and I’m trying to steal away some time this morning to tell you about my weekend with Olivia! Olivia came to NJ to visit me last summer, and we always talked about me going down to Virginia to visit her, and last weekend worked out for both of us, so I made the drive down. I actually ended up driving down Thursday afternoon-ish, which was both a blessing and a curse, because I hit Baltimore/Arlington/DC traffic right around 5pm, so it took me almost 4 hours to get there. But, no matter! Here’s the rundown of how our weekend went!


I met Olivia at her barn around 6pm on Thursday evening, right as the sun was beginning to set (Daylight Savings Time, I love you), and let me just say that Olivia’s barn is GORGEOUS! It kinda sits on top of a hill, and the views from the paddocks and outdoor ring are really beautiful. First order of business (after getting a proper tour) was MEETING THE DRAGON MARE! Addy was slightly taller/bulkier than I expected, but she’s absolutely, 100% a Beast Mare. Olivia pulled her out of her stall, gave her lots of kisses, and we headed to the outdoor ring. Olivia rode her around first, and then I hopped on!

From the word go, you can definitely tell that Addy has some serious power in her gaits, and it took me a few minutes to figure out how to half-halt hard enough, I’m used to Roger’s more sensitive mouth. But, once I figured that out, Addy was really a super fun ride! She’s got all kinds of fun buttons to push, and I really enjoyed riding her.


Then, Olivia asked me if I wanted to jump her, and I was slightly hesitant because it’s SO MUCH POWER. Olivia got back on her and popped her over some barrels, but I was pretty intimidated so I opted not to jump Addy around. We only had the one jump set up in the outdoor, but I watched Olivia jump Addy over it, and decided that I was good to go.

After that, we were able to catch the end of the adult ammy lesson in the indoor, and I’ll freely admit that I’m a lesson nerd: I’m a visual learner, and I really enjoy watching lessons, so it was cool to watch. I was also able to catch D’Arcy on her mare Gracie (of The Clueless But Curious Rider blog), as well as 4 other adult ammys on horses with various levels of training. But the way her trainer worked everyone together was fun to see!

After that, we unloaded Olivia’s new Stanley trunk from her car and into the tack room, and headed out for food, since we were both starving by that time. She took me to this great Mexican restaurant not far from her house (or the barn), and we got drinks and food and chatted about plenty of horse things, as horse people will do. After that, we got back to her apartment, I met her (totally awesome) roommate and her dog, and we got to bed around midnight.


On Friday morning, Olivia had to work for a few hours, so I was perfectly content to chill at Starbucks until she picked me up, and we headed to her barn to grab her trainer and her saddle, and then made the short drive to a nearby trainer’s barn to try two horses. And, I got to meet Olivia’s other trainer/mentor/life coach, who actually reminds me of my own trainer in a lot of ways. Her trainer is definitely no muss, no fuss, but you can absolutely tell that she knows her stuff and always tries to get the best out of her riders. She’s also super knowledgeable, and it was cool to listen to her conversation with Olivia both ways in the car and get a feel for why Olivia and her students love her so much.

After trying the horses, we were – again – starving, so we drove over to this cool American restaurant and sat outside on their patio, since the weather was SO nice. We actually got really lucky with the weather all weekend, it was sunny, slightly breezy and around 70 degrees, which was perfect! Again, we had drinks and yummy food and talked all things horses, and cracked open a bottle of wine when we got home and sat around her apartment to hang out…as adults do.


Before I got down there, Olivia asked me what kinds of things I wanted to do during the visit, and brunch and going to a winery were definitely on my list, so that’s what we did on Saturday! Olivia, myself, and her roommate did brunch at this really nice place a few minutes from her apartment, and we chatted for over an hour about all kinds of things. The conversation was great, and the food was awesome! After brunch, we drove over to Stone Tower Winery, at Olivia’s roommate’s recommendation, and tasted a few wines before buying a few bottles and snagging seats at a table overlooking the rolling hills and a small pond.


The winery was pretty crowded but it didn’t matter, because everyone was enjoying themselves outside and sipping the delicious wine.


It was SUCH a great day, we stayed at the winery for a few hours, and it was the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend. We grabbed pizza on the way home and brought it back to Olivia’s apartment, before relaxing for the rest of the night.


On Sunday morning, we both slept in slightly, and then we got dressed and ready to go. Olivia was headed to some Easter festivities, and I was planning to get on the road back to NJ. I actually made it home in under 3 hours, which was great, and didn’t hit any traffic on the way back.

Overall, it was such a PERFECT weekend full of horsey things and wine, which is always the best combination. Though I’ve only met her once before, Olivia and I didn’t skip a beat, and we had such a great time the whole weekend! Hopefully we can see each other again soon!


Editor’s note: this weekend was SO MUCH FUN!!! We’re already planning our next meetup 🙂