Our 2019 Season

You know what they say about best laid plans?

Literally the day after I told y’all that I was planning to do the jumpers at Upperville, and about a week after I told you that Upperville is my favorite event of the year, they released the prize list.

And they’ve opted to not include the Low Ch/AA Jumper division this year.

Welp.

Basically what this means is that if I want to compete at Upperville, my options are to (A) compete Monday-Wednesday in the schooling open classes at 1.0m or (B) leg back up to the 1.10-1.15m to do the Highs.

As much as I’d love to say that we can leg back up, I’m not sure that’s realistic for us right now. Classes are starting next week and I’m sure that will impact my ability to ride super often, and that height is challenging enough for us that we need to be at our peak to be successful. Frankie is wonderful at picking up the slack for me when I need it, but I don’t think it’s fair to ask him to pick up quite so much slack.

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The reason he made the height look so easy is because of the BOATLOADS OF TIME we spent training and conditioning. He’s pretty scopey on his own but definitely needs a partnership at that height (which I swear I can give him despite my sometimes-questionable equitation). PC- K. Borden

And competing earlier in the week is much harder for my working schedule than it is to take a long weekend. I can usually rearrange my schedule to minimize PTO hours when I take a Friday off, but there’s no such flexibility on other days. I’m intentionally hoarding vacation days for our honeymoon in August(!!), so this is a tough option.

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We’re going to St. Lucia and to say I’m excited would be an understatement. PC – Sandals

So for all my love of Upperville, it’s looking like it’s not in the cards for us this year. I know they were looking for ways to streamline the schedule, but I am bummed they chose to do it by eliminating the division I was hoping to compete in.

What this means for our show schedule is that we’ll do Blue Rock at Swan Lake in May, then do Loudoun Benefit in June. Not sure if we’ll stick with the jumpers, or maybe throw a derby or some eq classes in there for funsies.

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In case you all forgot how cute Frankie looks as an eq horse. PC – K. Borden

 

After that? It’s gonna be reeeeal quiet on the show front for us. July is hot enough that I don’t particularly like showing in VA then (and summer term means I can’t jet off to Lake Placid again sadly), I’ll be gone on our honeymoon during the bigger shows in August, and then we’re already into the fall.

Ah well. Such is life.

I’m excited for classes to start and figure out what that means for my riding schedule, my social schedule, my sleep schedule. It may mean fewer shows than I’d prefer, but I knew there would be tradeoffs when I decided to go back to school. I’ll still get to enjoy my favorite horse and I know he’ll be happy and ready for whatever adventures present when the time is right!

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My Expensive Reality

When I got Frankie, I started tracking my monthly expenses for him in a spreadsheet I made (which should surprise none of you that know me at all). It’s broken out pretty broadly and probably has room for improvement, but at a glance it’s good for me to see what I’m spending in different categories at different points throughout the year.

The way I have it set up currently has the following categories:

  • Board
  • Lessons
  • Training rides
  • Show fees paid to my trainer (which covers all the various pieces therein)
  • Other fees paid to my trainer (minor meds, blanket cleaning, random stuff like that)
  • Vet
  • Farrier
  • Insurance
  • Shows
  • Other

I don’t include tack/equipment (though I probably should), and I don’t include clothing for myself. So my tracker runs a little lower than what I truly spend on the sport, but it’s decently comprehensive for the expenses that are specific to the Frankenbean.

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Vet care costs have crept up over the years as we figure out how to make him feel extra special best. And don’t worry, chiro/massage goes right in that “other” bucket.

The reason that I bring this up is because I read Emma’s post about budgeting and how that has changed over time to account for reaching for certain goals. It’s a cool post with some cool comments on it, def check it out if you haven’t! But it also got me thinking about my own budget and my own goals, and what the investment looks like for those goals and for goals that may be a bit out of reach. Starting with WIHS.

Last year I peaked at 89th in the rankings for WIHS before dropping right off the radar altogether. While I was very pleased with our performance over the season, I simply didn’t have enough outings to get the points needed. Granted- WIHS wasn’t one of my big goals in 2018 and if it was I could’ve been MUCH more strategic about it by getting points at some of the smaller shows around here. But if I was aiming for that I still would’ve had to go to a lot more shows in total, so I don’t think the cost of showing would have been drastically different for the year. And certainly the money spent on training and equipment would not have gone down in the least- if anything, they would have gone up.

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My big goal for the year was Lake Placid and all monies went right to that.

Between all those categories shown above, the investment money-wise was not trivial. Far from it. If I was one of those people that needed to recoup my investment on Frankie (HAHAHAHA RIGHT THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS), I would need to get an absolutely absurdly out of reach price for him. It ain’t ever gonna happen, despite his theoretical increase in value due to training and show record (I say theoretically because homeboy obvi isn’t for sale so we’ll never know what he’d go for).

I’m comfortable with my show results. I’ve never done this because I need blue ribbons, I compete because I love the atmosphere and trying new adventures with my horse. Ribbons and points and qualifying are the nice but unnecessary icing on the cake for me.

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I mean clearly I’m never MAD about the ribbons

But I can absolutely understand the frustration of someone who DOES want to qualify and be a stronger competitor. Knowing that the the time and money and soul I’ve poured into training and showing has gotten me to be a solidly middle-of-the-pack competitor could be disheartening. If that’s the investment it takes to be mid-range, I don’t even know what it would take to be consistently in the ribbons.

If qualifying and ribbons were my goal, I would step down a level. Do the local rated shows instead of the biggest AA ones I can find. Maybe step back down in height and get really really perfect at that. There are definitely plenty of things I could do differently if that was my aim.

I’m not gonna do any of those things though. I’m going to keep reveling in the atmosphere and presence of great riders at the big shows, even if I’m out of the ribbons in a class of 60. I’m going to keep feeling like I’m flying over the big jumps with Frankie, even if we have a rail here and there. And I’ll keep signing those checks, even if that monthly investment has hit embarrassment levels.

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All I want to do is All the things in All the places with this creature.

The first step to fixing the problem is admitting that you have a problem, and I’ll be cold in my grave before you get me to admit this one.

The Fun Decisions

I don’t know if any of you caught it (why would you?), but for a hot second my sidebar for upcoming shows said:

“Lake Placid June/July 2018 OR Tryon June/July 2018”

I’ll explain.

In the email I received about the Gold Star clinic, they said that they hoped to see me next year at Team Finals, which would be held for my area from July 4-8 at Tryon.

See, my barn has already started making plans to be in Lake Placid at that time. So of course I immediately emailed my trainer to ask what I should do because she runs my life, and she gave me the most ANNOYING ANSWER EVER: “What are your goals for the year? We can make either work depending on what you’d like to do.”

UGH STOP BEING REASONABLE AND ACCOMMODATING AND TRUSTING ME TO MAKE MY OWN DECISIONS WE ALL KNOW THIS IS A BAD IDEA.

So suddenly, I had to make the choice between two incredibly amazing opportunities. A no-lose scenario. Either way, I’d be competing at a gorgeous venue and having a fantastic time. These are the fun decisions!

Considerations about Tryon: I would still be on the radar for USHJA programs and get the chance to try again to make it into a Gold Star clinic. Since Trainer and AT wouldn’t be able to join, they’d send me down with another trainer from the area that I HIGHLY respect, and there’s definite benefit to getting fresh eyes. I’ve heard Tryon is a gorgeous venue.

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THINK OF THE PHOTO OPS

Considerations about Lake Placid: it’s high profile enough that I won’t be fading into obscurity there, especially if we manage to place well. I would have my own trainers to work with and my show family to have fun with. It’s been described as a total paradise, the barn doesn’t go every year, and my family is tentatively willing to come up for a week’s vacation since there’s so much to do in the area besides just show.

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HOLY CRAP STILL THINK OF THE PHOTO OPS

While a tough decision (because both sound so fun and I like to do All The Fun Things), I’ve decided to commit to Lake Placid! At the end of the day I compete because I have a blast doing it, and the idea of doing two weeks of vacation/showing with my barn family sounds like the most fun I could possibly have. Trainer has offered to take us down to Tryon another time since that’s more easily accessible, but I may not get another chance to go north for several years.

Another consideration is that I may simply not get enough points to qualify for Team Finals. Trainer and I have decided that while I’ll spend part of my time in the division where I’ll likely get some points, I’m also going to be dabbling in the 1.20m. I’ll be moving between two divisions enough that it would be difficult to get a lot of points in either. I’m a member of WIHS and NAL so if I get points for that I wouldn’t be mad, but I’m not going to chase those. This will be a very busy competition year of challenging ourselves and progressing- not necessarily qualifying for any big finals. I’m hopeful that this year of some big shows and big tracks will be the set up I need for 2019 to be absolutely killer.

I’m officially no longer sick and SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED about our upcoming show season!!! I’m pinching myself a little that I get to do so many cool things with the best horse on the planet. Can’t wait to take y’all along for the ride!

Lemme know if you’ll be at any of the shows in my sidebar! Frankie and I would LOVE to meet you in person!

Leaving the Ring

At every horse show, I call my parents after every class to let them know how it went. They’re both fantastic sports about this- they’re not quite sure where they failed as parents, but they’ve learned to roll with the crazy. They’re also contractually obligated to love me and have to put up with me saying “Francis was a very good boy” 2087 different ways over and over and over again.

So after Zones, I called my mom on my way home. I told her how we had a great warmup, then got buzzed out of the ring in our first class because I didn’t help my horse out through the combo. She patiently listened to me describe what happened, then asked:

“How did you feel when you left the ring?”

Which really made me think hard- I’m so focused on the physical fitness aspect of this sport, the mental toughness of lasting a whole long weekend, the planning and strategy of how to best ride the course. I’ve often thought about how I feel when I walk into the ring- am I nervous? Do I remember my course? Crap, what’s my jumpoff?!

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Sometimes I enter the ring giggling because I love riding my horse so dang much

I don’t often consider how I feel when walking out of the ring.

The short answer: I felt fine. I always feel fine.

Do I feel freakin’ fantastic and leave the ring with a giant smile when things go well? Obviously. I love when the pieces come together and I’m always thrilled when Frankie goes out there and struts his stuff like a total pro.

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Leaving the ring, spazzing out with happiness

But my options aren’t happy vs. sad/mad/frustrated. My two options are happy vs. focused. I can’t remember the last time I walked out of the ring without patting Frankie and telling him what a good boy he is and taking a deep breath for myself. And that’s for a couple reasons.

Nine times out of ten, any trouble we run into on course is my fault. On the odd occasion that he pulls a rail and it isn’t due to rider interference, it’s because he’s tired- and his fitness is my responsibility. So scratch that: legit 100% of the time that something goes wrong, it’s my own fault and not his. He’s a very hard worker and wants to do a good job, and will perform as well as I enable him to. So that’s why I never get frustrated with Frankie- I am beyond lucky to have a literal unicorn as my trusty steed.

But I don’t really get frustrated or flustered with myself, either. Do I wish I could do better? Yes. Absolutely 100% yes, it’s why I pour every piece of my soul into this sport. But I can’t go back and change that round by regretting the fact that I tried to add a stride when I should have left it out. All I can do is go back and practice and try again later. All of my energy is focused on making my next round better- I have the energy to understand what I did wrong in my last round so I can fix it, but I don’t have the energy to harp on it.

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Sometimes I collapse on my horse when I leave the ring

When I left the ring after getting buzzed out in disgrace, I was already thinking about how I could fix that combo next time. I was already talking to my trainer about what I wanted to try differently, what we could do in our warmup to set us up for success, all that jazz.

How did I feel? I didn’t feel. I wasn’t happy or sad or embarrassed or any of that- I was focused on making the next round better.

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Sometimes I look miserable when we leave the ring, but really I’m just sweaty as I pat my pony

So when we left the ring after our next round, with some sticky spots and rails, I smiled and said to my trainer, “we fixed the combo!”  My horse continued to work hard to do his job, and I was able to help him out a bit more than I did before. That met my criteria for being happy about a successful round- I don’t need perfection to be satisfied, but I do need progress.

After all, every time I exit the ring still on my horse’s back means I can check at least one thing off the to-do list. It’s all about having reasonable expectations, right?

How do you feel when leaving the ring after a good round? A bad one? 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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:

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Good Francis

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

Show Outfitting

Frankie and I are pretty un-fussy when it comes to our show outfits. We’ve built them up over time to become a setup that works for us and our job, but none of it is that different from when we started. Here’s a breakdown of what both of us wear to shows:

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PC: A. Frye

The Human

Breeches: my go to are TS Trophy Hunters in white for classics and tan for everything else. I’ll sub in my old-model RJs or my Ghodos if I need to, but the TS are by far my favorite breech to ride and spend a long show day in.

Shirt: since I mainly show in the summer, my fave is my Ariat short sleeve show shirt. Super breathable and light under a jacket (and yes, I almost always wear a jacket, even in the jumpers). I have an Essex Coolmax that’s not bad for a long-sleeve, and a thicker RJ for winter shows.

Jacket: I now have two that I love! My AA Motionlite coat in Aviation Blue is an absolute dream for hot days- it’s literally mesh. And I think the color looks so pretty on Francis. For formal days or when it’s cooler out, I have my Grand Prix softshell in hunter green. It’s definitely cut more conservatively- I would be comfortable taking this in the hunter or equitation ring. I also love how this looks next to Frankie’s dark coat. I just think everything looks pretty on him #handsome.

Boots: For now, my Mountain Horse Sovereigns. I love love love these boots. My brown versions that I school in are pretty but not as high quality, but the black ones have held up wonderfully and fit like they’re custom. Fairly soon though, I’ll likely retire these to schooling status and splurge on a new pair of show boots. Any recommendations? (I know you all have recommendations on this haha)

Miscellaneous: Samshield gloves. I got a monogrammed pair as a gift several birthdays ago and they’ve held up remarkably well to frequent schooling and shows! CO GR8 helmet. It’ll likely need replacing next year but I’m not in a hurry. One-knot hairnets, because I’m old school and haven’t figured out the shmancy hairnets yet. Hunt Club belt because I like the colors and just-right stretchiness. Snarky socks. No-name rolly spurs with plain black spur straps (yawn). No-name crop a Barn Mom gifted to me when I lost my beloved black and navy crop at a show #RIP.

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PC: K. Borden

The Horse

Saddle: ….the same one as always. Antares Unicorn saddle that fits my giraffe legs and tiny butt, and was re-panelled to fit Francis.

Saddle pad: teeny non-slip pad underneath, then a navy AP pad with my barn’s name and logo on it. No half-pad- see note about saddle being fitted to Francis.

Girth: Showmark plain girth, size 52″. After more than a year of constant hard use, the elastic is just starting to fray. This will become my schooling girth, and I’ll probably get exactly the same kind as a new show girth. Why mess with what works?

Breastplate: Nunn Finer 3-point with elastic. I like having the security of this helping everything stay in place as the jumps go up. No martingale attachment, because Francis.

Bridle: Vespucci fancy stitch. This was my birthday present last year and I love it! It only gets used for shows so it will remain gorgeous for a very long time. It’s technically a hunter style bridle, but I like that it’s versatile and I think it looks nice on Frankie’s sweet face. Maybe eventually I’ll get a figure-8 to fit in with the jumper crowd, but again- why mess with what works?

Bit: Full cheek slow twist single-jointed snaffle. We school in a plain full cheek at home and I like having a little more bit at shows- and Frankie doesn’t seem to care one way or another. I didn’t actually love this bit at our last show, so I may want to experiment a little with him.

Boots: Equifit tab-close open fronts. These are also only for show use and so are holding up well.

Bonnet: I use my trainer’s bonnet with the farm logo on it. Sometimes she probably regrets that I’m representing her due to my potato-riding, but TOO LATE IT’S ON.

Your turn! What’s your show get-up? (Not gonna lie, hoping some eventers pick up on this because y’all have waaay more fun outfits)

Mr. Versatile

We have such a super fun fall coming up!

As you all know, we just came off of Jumper Championships where Francis was the most adorably wonderful amazing packer pony in the whole universe. He was Jumper Man Extraordinaire.

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FrancisGoZoomies(TM)

So now that we’ve gotten him fully legged up into Jumper Mode, we’re switching the game on him!

We have one last show of the season coming up at the end of September. Our options were to do the High division (though points wouldn’t count towards anything since finals are over), try some higher classes (eh the courses get harder throughout the season, so now is a tough time to try that), or do something totally different. We went with the last option.

Francis will play Eq Pony for me! We’ll even do several flat classes *GASP*. I’m so excited to see what he looks like braided and all eq-y. I haven’t done anything besides jumpers in a couple years now, and Frankie has only done the jumpers with me- it’ll be interesting to see if we can transition a bit.

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FrancisNoZoomies(TM)

We just want to go out there and have fun trying something a little different. We always have a blast going to compete together, I have no doubt Frankie will be a superstar eq horse for me too. The tough part will be for me to actually ride well instead of clinging to my horse like a barnacle #noaddedvalue.

But wait, there’s more!

We’re FINALLY going XC schooling in October! I’ve been looking forward to this since I brought Frankie home. I’m not planning on doing anything intimidating because we all know I’m a ring princess, but I know Francis is going to have a total blast out there. If it’s half as much fun as when I took Addy out, it’ll be one to remember.

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Big Man can show me the ropes of XC (this is Frankie with his previous trainer!)

I think we’ll then wrap up our season with one of the local shows, where we’ll do the pleasure classes. You thought I was joking. I am not. I would really like to go toodle around with my pony and enjoy a low-pressure outing.

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Honestly I think toodling around on a loose rein will be his favorite show yet

There you have in. In the space of just a few months, I will be taking my 1.15m High Adult JumperPony into the equitation ring, out on the cross country field, and bopping around the pleasure division.

Biggest pats for Best Pony who so happily carts my butt around everywhere I point him. I can’t wait to share our adventures with you all ❤

Next Season

“Olivia, it’s only August!” “Olivia, live in the moment!”

NO.

I am seriously so freakin’ excited for next season already, I just have to share some of the plans.

First of all, we will be kicking off next season with a bang in Ohio. I snuck this into my sidebar, but Frankie and I will be heading over to WEC in February! We had a barn powwow about whether or not we wanted to do Ocala this year vs WEC, and the unanimous consensus was to head west instead of south. It’s closer to home- less stress on the horses, easier to get there, CHEAPER to get there. It’s overall cheaper- in like, every way. There’s a great variety of classes. Because it’s so much more accessible in terms of location and price, we should have a bigger group able to go. We’ve all heard only stellar reviews from people who have competed there. AND IT’S CHEAPER. Did I say that yet? All y’all that live within driving distance of Ohio will have to come visit us!

Our other big exciting plan for the year is two weeks up in Lake Placid next June/July! We’ll be doing the I Love New York/Lake Placid shows. Our barn went a few years ago for one week and loved it, so this year we’re heading back for both weeks. It’ll be a nice escape from the Virginia heat and we’ll get to see some really world class riders go. I’m hoping some of my family will take the excuse for a vacation and get a lake house up there- it would be the perfect mix of competing and vacation! I’ve never been but I’m already so excited.

This will definitely require some creative scheduling- I do not, in fact, have unlimited vacation time. My boss has given the thumbs up for me to work remotely when I’m in Ohio at least part time, and as long as that works decently she’s OK with me doing that next summer as well. It’ll also require careful budgeting, so I’m already in savings mode to prepare. Sometimes I think about all the vacations I could take and shoes I could buy if I didn’t like horse shows so darn much…

We’ll fit in some closer-to-home shows next summer as well- I’m hoping we can do either Upperville or Loudoun Benefit again, do some Lexington shows, head to Prince George’s, etc. We haven’t decided whether we’re going to try for Regional Finals again, since we’re going to play next year by ear as to which division we’re competing in. This year was a very definite “move up” year and I expect 2018 to be more of a transition. We may move up and down depending on how we feel. Heck, I may even finally make it into an equitation class like I’ve been talking about for years. Trainer tactfully changes the subject every time I bring up doing a hunter derby so that might be a hard pass (Why doesn’t she doesn’t think my paddle-moving-llama-pony can win in the hunters???! I don’t get it?1?!). I still plan on us working hard to get after it, but I’m less married to my division for next year.

Frankie and I can’t wait! Well. I can’t wait. Frankie is just happy to be here.

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

I’ve seen a series of articles on various sites lately (and even joined in the conversation) about all the judgement going on in our sport, from all sides. And it got me thinking about how much energy goes into these comparisons and observations. Because really, it seems that you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

 

If you don’t use grooming services at shows, you’re poor and don’t belong there. If you do, you’re elitist and don’t care about true horsemanship.

If you don’t wear an ear bonnet in the jumper ring, you’re hopelessly out of date. If you do, you probably haven’t earned the right.

If you listen to a trainer on structuring a program for your horse, you’re a pushover who doesn’t have any knowledge of your own. If you don’t, you’re some self-righteous rider who thinks they know better than a professional.

If you jump more than once a week, you’re running your horse into the ground. If you don’t jump at least once a week, you’re not actively training.

If you have your horse on supplements, you’re wasting money on crap they’ll pee out. If you don’t, you’re not giving your horse the tools he needs to succeed.

If you don’t have name brand breeches, you’re not really part of the sport. If you do, you’re trying too hard.

 

If you don’t show, you’re a podunk backyard rider. If you do, you’re putting your own ambition above a true connection with your horse.

If you don’t coordinate your tack, you’re a hot mess. If you do, you care more about looks than about riding correctly.

If you spend more than $5k on a horse, you’re foolish for not finding a talented project to bring along. If you don’t spend at least $25k, you must not be realistic about what it takes to get to the upper levels.

If you’re not jumping at least 3’6″, you’re not a competent rider. If you’re jumping over 3’6″, it’s probably because your horse is doing it for you, and anyone could do it too if they had a horse like that.

If you don’t show in Florida during the winter, you’re truly not part of the circuit. If you do, you’re one of “those people” with gobs of money and no real responsibilities to worry about.

 

If you call the vet too often, you’re overly paranoid and trying to treat holes in your training. Not often enough, and you’re a negligent owner.

I could keep going (and going and going). I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of many of these, often in the form of well-intentioned advice. I’m pretty positive that many of you have run into these and other judgments in your time in the horse world.

At the end of the day, there will always be people throwing shade because you’re not doing things their way. And at the end of the day, I plan to continue surrounding myself with a knowledgeable, supportive community to help me do the best I can for my horse- learning and trying to make tomorrow better than yesterday for him. Anything else just isn’t worth the energy.