Friday, 22 April 2016


So, yeah, its been muddy and the hippo is back on 24/7 turnout and been loving it.
We're ramping up for competition season. like everyone else in the eventing world.  For us, this means adding lots of marching up/down hills and into the nearby lake.

I love the lake. Water practice + clean legs + not getting frostbitten fingers from leg washing is fantastic.  I haven't seen clean legs on my horse in ... a while.

Just ... too close to reality

Post lake, clean legs, great time to examine legs and feet extra closely.

Me: "Come on big girl, pick up a back foot"
Horse *start to lift* "NOPE!" *stomp* *mare glare*

Repeat a half dozen times.  Huh, weird. Try other side, same thing.
Start running down the checklist.  Was she sound walk, trot and canter while riding? Check. Reluctant to move forward? Nope.

Poke around the hind end.  No sore spots.  Stifles?  Nope, just the usual ticklish. Etc.etc. down the legs until I get under the back of the ankles.  Warm.  Hmm

Me: Poke back of  pastern
Horse: *STOMP*  *offended mare glare*
Like this, only MORE offended
Mud fever flare up, gotcha, message received.  Diaper rash cream to the rescue, saving us all from the hippo's chapped ankles and chapped ass attitude!  Now for the exciting part, getting the cream on her ankles.

Having had multiple cases of the dreaded 'chub rub', I try to apply the cream with the gentlest of touches.  How does the mare react?

twitch, Yank foot away and LEAP sideways "OH MY GOD YOUR KILLING ME!!!"

My horse, aren't I lucky?

*sigh* repeat until the first layer is on each foot.   This takes a while, resulting in scattered paper coffee cups, spilled coffee, dogs fleeing to the four points of the compass and severe eye-rolling on my part.

Go back for the 2nd layer and she stands quietly, "No big deal mom, why you sound grumpy?" What a friggin' weenie, good thing I love her.

Enough diaper cream for a daycare's worth of chapped asses

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

April Showers, Where are the Flowers?

Ah, spring on the East Coast.  Land of mud, rain, mud, snow, more mud, rain, snow, and did I mention mud? In case I was too subtle, there's a lot of mud.

Until a few days ago, I only owned a pair of half calf rain boots which has made it exciting to retrieve the hippo from her wallow.
A daily occurrence, both sides

I gave up on the short rain boots once I realized mud was consistently getting within an inch of the top, and that was staying on the high ground! The hippo?  Well, she seemed to have figured out my predicament.  In typical mare fashion, she's using the advantage with brutal efficiency.

Arrive at the barn, horse is by the gate.  Arrive at the field with a halter and ...

Were you talkin' to me?  Come closer, I can't quite hear you.

I swear I can hear her giggling when this happens. Sometimes, she waits until she sees me headed for the gate and then calmly strolls off.  When she's really trying to screw with me?  She'll move off so all I can see are cheerfully pricked ears as she hangs out at the bottom of the pit. The ears that say "Are there snacks? Do I hear a magic bucket? No? Then come back later."

But!!! Victory is mine!  I've given in and bought a pair of knee high neoprene boots that will take me across the sea of mud to the mischievous mare.  No more waving buckets, peppermints and peanut butter Clif bars in the hopes of luring her closer to an island, near the gate.

... or did I?  My wallet is lighter, that's not usually a win ...

Of course, now that I've bought the boots, the sun is going to emerge to shine continuously and the mud will vanish.  But we all knew that right?

Friday, 15 April 2016

What a Difference a Day Makes (and a Saddle...)

The night before the saddle arrives I notice something as I'm taking off the Hippo's saddle.

She's displeased, that's unusual. Not the displeased part, just the timing.  She's not usually displeased after a ride, normal is calmly pleased to be done.  I start poking/prodding to discover she's sore behind her shoulders, the current jumping saddle is causing sore spots.  Hmmm, how long have those been an issue?
Apologies to a big mare
Granted, this mare is weird about saddle fit and a bit of a stoic.  Very subtle about admitting something is sore. Even with this, all I got was a wrinkle between nostril/lip and slight glare.

Fast forward to the new saddle.  Longe, seems to be reaching more in front but that could be freshness.  Ride and careful back inspection, shoulders don't seem sensitive.  Yay!

Next ride.  Longe, barnmate comments on how nice she's moving. Ride, feels good even on the flat and over fences.  Yay x2

Several rides later, I don't know my horse anymore.  She is SO much rounder/forward that I'm having trouble telling whether she's 'just' round and forward or whether she's getting ready to blow her top. I mean, it IS spring after all and anything could happen.

All in all, its a win.  The horse seems thrilled with the new saddle, the blocks are helping me deal with occasional spring idiocy and overall I'm holding my position better.  Despite the fact I can't read a jump distance to save my life in the new saddle yet aka I'm trying to 'help' again, (For more hilarity, go back to my tale on helping)

I think its going to be awesome.

Ready? Game face on!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016


Guess who picked up a new saddle?  Well, new to me but damned if I care.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  You all saw it coming a mile away after sitting in that Voltaire at HITS Ocala. I came back with saddle fever.  After trolling through almost every 2nd hand Voltaire monoflap with similar measurement listed online in North America, I had pretty much made my peace with waiting a looong time to get a saddle that would help me more over fences.

And then a friend shared this ad on my Facebook feed ...

Helloooooo Sexy!!!

If you aren't familiar, that's an out of production Passier Military XC saddle, the OG of popular XC monoflaps, and in the same lighter leather as the rest of my tack. Open 18" seat, light, external knee/calf blocks and a large suede section for extra grip under the knee block.  I've coveted this saddle for years.

Despite the long history of Passier jumping saddle flaps being cartoonishly long for my legs, I sent the question "What's the stirrup bar to flap bottom measurement?"  Desperation and a digestible price make strange bedfellows since history on other models has been 14, 15 and even 16 inch flaps.
Back comes the answer ...13".  Wait, WHAT?!?!?!    That's ... workable.  A 12.5" extra forward flap is my sweet spot.

I was practically vibrating in excitement and enlisted a local to let me try her saddle, which was the same model and tree width.

Throw on the saddle and fasten.  Hmm that's not bad looking.
Longe for a few minutes.  Hippo seems fine with it, no obvious discomfort.
Climb on and warm up a bit.  Hippo feels like herself, moving nicely from the ground and nothing seems to be in my way walk, trot, canter or jump.  Even better, my legs appear to have stopped Spoonering. (Even though riding in yoga pants, to test for worst case)

Above: GP rider Richard Spooner
Spoonering: (verb) to successfully ride a jump while one's lower legs fly around at seemingly impossible angles 

The message went out that night, "Send that sucker my way" YEEHAW!!!