I was super excited when I read that “The Riding Horse Repair Manual”, written by four-star US eventer Doug Payne and published by Trafalgar Square, was being released this month. As someone with a horse that has obvious holes in his training (my fault and only mine) this book really spoke to me. After reading the book I can truly say that it isn’t just for riders and trainers with unruly or unsuitable horses, but an important tool that can be added to any rider’s library and frequently referenced. Doug offers his personal experiences and tips in an easy to understand, fun to read format that keeps you reading and discovering new things. To give you an idea of Doug’s philosophies, one of my favorite tips was regarding “unruly outbursts”. Doug states that when training horses you have to allow them to be themselves. Training is an effort to guide them to be better, but not lose their personal flair. This tip, while simple, told me that Doug didn’t want to force every horse into the same box and realized they are animals and not machines.
Doug Payne’s new book
When the book initially arrived, I did a cursory flip through and was drawn in by the large color photo sequences and layout. The book is arranged in three sections; Getting Started, Let the Games Begin, and How It Can Work For You, How It Has Worked For Me with each section including several chapters. There are tips listed in each chapter as a side note and a lot of knowledge can be gleaned by spending a few minutes reading the tips. While you can easily find the solutions to your issues by referencing the Index and jumping directly to the page you need, I highly suggest reading the book cover to cover.
Now Festin, listen up.
By reading the book from start to finish I was able to address all of my known issues as well as a few issues that were hidden just beneath the surface, but equally deserving of my attention. I was very impressed with the full range of topics covered and was eager to continue reading and put some of my new tools to the test. The fact that Doug addressed numerous potential causes and solutions for each problem was very encouraging. I liked the fact that Doug built your confidence by mentioning any potential dangers to horse or rider and a multitude of responses you may get when dealing with a behavior.
Working in the animal medicine field, there is nothing more frustrating than reading a how to book and wondering why they neglected to mention a valid medical reason that should be treated by a veterinarian before moving forward. Thankfully, while reading Doug’s book this thought didn’t cross my mind once because he took the time to discuss the importance of proper veterinary care, dental work, nutrition, saddle fit, and bitting. The last section of the book, when Doug details case studies of some of the horses that he has ridden, was a fun read for me. Finishing the book, I felt like I had just had a one on one conversation about his favorite horses and their athletic abilities, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses.
Overall, I think that this book is a must-buy! Whether you have a seasoned schoolmaster, a greenie who is just learning the ropes, or a problem child like my boy you will appreciate Doug’s honesty and vast knowledge in your pursuit of the perfect horse! I would like to think that after reading “The Riding Horse Repair Manual” I am a more conscientious and prepared rider with a few more tricks up my sleeve.
The KnixWear boyshort in nude. Photo from the Knixwear website.
When we were initially contacted by Knixwear to try their new Sweat Resistant Underwear you can imagine the discussion that ensued in our blogger group. Well, at the time it was hot and humid here in Illinois and I was willing to try anything to improve my comfort while riding.
As riders we would never expect our equine partners to perform with a saddle pad that put pressure on their withers or bunched up when they worked yet we continually ride in undergarments that impair our own abilities, or at the very least our comfort. Is a pair of underwear going to change your riding and turn you into the next top eventer, hunter/jumper, or dressage rider? No, but when you have one less thing to worry about and are more comfortable you may notice some improvement.
After a brief internet search, I found their website and discovered that Knixwear is creating an underwear revolution by designing underwear that are comfortable, stylish, and integrate technology to keep you dry and fresh all day. Lots of the media information out there is geared towards people who experience light bladder leakage or urinary incontinence but also carries over to the active rider who may not suffer from this issue. They offer several different styles and a few color options to fit your needs in and out of the saddle.
After checking out the site I decided that I wanted to try the Knix Boyshort in nude. Less than a week later my sample arrived and I was eager to try them out. Each undergarment comes packed with a mesh lingerie bag to make washing that much easier and prevent damage to the product. While I generally wash my “good” panties and bras in a lingerie bag the rest just get thrown into the mix so I was somewhat skeptical on how they would hold up to routine use and washing since they were being sent with their own bag. The material has a nice feel to it and there is no seam, tag, or discernible waistband. The crotch felt a little thicker than I was expecting, but not bulky or rigid.
After a quick wash and dry following all of the included instructions, I was ready to take them for a test ride. I tried them on with my thinnest light colored pair of breeches to check for VPL (if you watch Fashion Police on E! as often as I do you know that no woman should ever leave the house with a Visible Panty Line). No VPL here!
Ok, so we were ready to go and I was quite pleased with the fit and rise. They didn’t end up halfway up my back but when my low rise breeches got a little low picking feet I didn’t expose myself to everyone else at the barn. I think that the biggest compliment that I can pay to these underwear is that I really didn’t know that they were there. Usually when I ride I have to make some adjustments to combat ride up but with these I was just able to ride. In spite of the weather, grooming, tacking, riding, grooming, hand grazing, and stall mucking I was comfortable and dry the entire time. I have been wearing these underwear exclusively when I ride for just over a month now and in spite of lots of washing (sometimes in the provided bag but most times just tossed in with my breeches and shirts) they show no signs of wear,excess stretch, or loss of effectiveness.
Overall, I can definitely say that I will be purchasing more Knixwear for riding, working out, and maybe even some for daily wear under my scrubs! I have tried lots of different undergarments marketed for riders and I can truly say that these are the most comfortable and provide the most value for your money.
This is entry #2 in our “My Horse Life in 5 Photos” Contest, presented by Charles Owen. Click here for contest details.
Trying to sum up my life with horses in five photos is next to impossible. The last 27 years of my life have been blissfully filled with horses and I don’t think I would have had it any other way.
1) When I was six I took my first riding lesson on a schoolmaster Appaloosa named Carpenter. My first horse show was a year later at our local 4H field on Brassy, a Saddlebred I met a few minutes before my Walk-Trot class. We were surrounded by ponies and I had a great time!
1987-my first horse show! That is me riding western on a Saddlebred in a ring full of ponies!
2) About a year later I was riding in a new barn because my previous instructor moved and I wanted to ride English. This was a snapshot of me after my first English show, proudly showing off my fifth place ribbon!
1988-My first English horse show!
3 & 4) In 1989 I got my very own horse. Total Reflection, or TR as we called him, was truly my heart horse. I grew up with him and he taught me so much more than any instructor ever could. He taught me patience, kindness, the value of hard work, and that if you stick to it all dreams are possible. He packed me around on trails, over fences, western, bareback, and sidesaddle. He was 16 back in 1989 and when he was 22 he took me to our first “big overnight show” and performed like a champion. What I wouldn’t give to have just one more day with him.
This was TR and I schooling back in the day of IOU sweatshirts, Miller’s Heels Down Riding Shoes, and neon colored nylon schooling tack. Those are the original SMB boots on his front legs too! Probably circa 1993 or 1994!
Our first away show in 1995. I was 15, he was 22.
5) The November after I said goodbye to my TR, this big red OTTB came into my life. We’ve had a tumultous relationship, but he is my rock right now. He has really blossomed in the past few years and found his own groove. There’s lots to our story, but this is one of my favorite pics.
I think you can see our bond here. Festin and I last summer at our first away from home show.
What is it they say? The best laid plans of mice and men… Yep, that’s it. Back in April I started planning my horse show schedule. We’re still working our way up the training pyramid and I was hoping to keep this a pretty easy, inexpensive, and successful year. Looking at the local schooling show schedule, I was so excited to see that the equestrian center we had our first “away from home” show at last year is hosting a series of three this year. Just like that, plans were made and Facebook statuses were updated. I immediately decided that we would attend all 3 shows and laid out the goals for each of them.
First show: go, keep focused, and improve upon last year’s score. Second show: improve on last show, add in training level tests. Third show: improve on all tests and add in one test sidesaddle. Since they are doing a series, there is also a cumulative award for best average score at any level. May as well shoot for that one too!
The spoils from our last show. Hoping for a repeat performance!
Unfortunately, my time management skills have, well shall we say, sucked recently. The list of things to do before our show is lengthy and time is fleeting. I have waffled back and forth with my decision and decided to skip the July show and work steadily towards the next two.
Since skipping the July show, I have further revised my plans and spent time working on the things that held us back; namely, loading in the trailer in under an hour with no one getting assaulted by my horse. We are now shooting for a mini event that is also offering combined training and dressage in August, the third show in the series we had hoped to compete in, our barn show in October, and a Will Faudree clinic our barn is hosting in November. If Festin manages to stay level-headed, we may head back to the mini event in October and try our hand at the combined training too. I am hoping to have my new Southern Stars dressage saddle by the September show, until then I will be riding dressage in my jumping saddle and a navy blue Ecogold WitherCare all purpose pad. Good thing they are schooling shows!
The look we will be rocking at our next dressage show…can’t wait for the new saddle to get here!
Ok, so there it is written on the internet…You can’t say things on the internet that aren’t true, right?? Guess it is time to get my butt in gear and be ready for our show season debut on August 25th! On the plus side, my horse now walks on the trailer like it is his one and only job, so there is one less hurdle to overcome!
Comfy working sidesaddle at home…maybe we can do one test this year!
Here’s hoping that my next show post is one talking about new goals because our previous ones have been met!
Well, it has been two months since the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event drew to a close and between being busy, sick, and unmotivated, I have only just this last week found the time to go through my photos and think about a blog. You would think after two months have passed, some of the memories would be less than fresh in my mind but simply looking at a photo can bring back all of the excitement, passion, adrenaline, and harmony of that moment. While I may not be able to tell you exact scores or rankings without looking back in my notes or doing a google search, there are certainly a number of things I can give you a minute by minute play by play on.
Here’s what made Rolex 2013 a memorable one for me (I hope you don’t mind if I let the pictures do most of the talking):
It doesn’t matter where they were or what they were doing, you could tell Meghan O’Donoghue and Buck Davidson were having a great time just by looking at them. Both riders had genuine smiles that you couldn’t help but mirror back at them.
Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate were all smiles – photo by Tracy Porter
Buck Davidson celebrates another clean cross country run. Photo by Tracy Porter
Watching Peter Atkins and Henry Jota Hampton in the dressage and stadium phase:
I remember watching their ride in dressage and thinking the score did not reflect what I saw. Two months later, going through the photos the feeling is the same. Henny and Peter had a beautiful dressage test and were fun to watch (and listen to) in the jumping phase. Their relationship is about true trust and partnership and it is a beautiful thing!
Peter Atkins and Henry Jota Hampton had a lovely dressage test. Photo by Tracy Porter
Peter Atkins talks Henny through the triple. Photo by Tracy Porter
Watching a great partnership come to an end and the start of a happy retirement:
There is nothing quite like the retirement ceremony of a four star horse to bring a tear to your eye. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing quite a few, but the retirement of one of my personal favorites this year was extra special to me. Happy retirement to Joe Meyer’s lovely horse, Snip!
Joe Meyer and Snip take a final lap of the Rolex Arena. Photo by Tracy Porter
The unexpected moments of excitement:
It’s nice to know that top riders appreciate a good ride as much as the rest of us. It was great watching William Fox-Pitt exit the arena and give his groom two thumbs up after a lovely test on Chilli Morning.
William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning after dressage. Photo by Tracy Porter
An added bonus? Chilli Morning gets a mint after dressage, before he even leaves the arena! Photo by Tracy Porter
Overcoming the odds:
Caitlin Silliman and Catch A Star have been through so much together. After injuries that could have been career ending, the two completed their first four star with style.
Caitlin Silliman and Catch a Star in the stadium phase. Photo by Tracy Porter
A true horseman remembering a friend:
It was great to meet Bruce Davidson Sr. at the Eagle Lion statue near the Rolex Arena. As soon as he arrived for our interview, you could see the love Bruce shared for such a special friend as he lovingly stroked his ear and kissed his forehead. True friendships never end.
A true gentleman of the sport, Bruce Davidson Sr. remembers an old friend. Photo by Tracy Porter
The attention to detail:
From the beautiful Five Star Tack bridle, to the impeccable braids and coordinating nails Kristin Schmolze and Ballylaffin Bracken were one of the best turned out pairs at the jog. Will Faudree also set the bar high at the Sunday jog. What you may not have noticed immediately is that each button on the vest is a different butterfly. I just love attention to detail and a man with the confidence to pull off this look.
Ballylaffin Bracken rocks a Five Star bridle. Photo by Tracy Porter
Will Faudree and Pawlow. Go ahead zoom in and check out the detail in this vest. Photo by Tracy Porter
Finding out that Mary King is awesome:
I’ve always known Mary King for her amazing riding abilities. This year I had the pleasure of meeting her and I discovered that not only is she a skilled and tenacious rider, but she is sweet and fun! I’m an even bigger Mary King fan now!
Mary King and Fernhill Urco. Tenacious on the course…Photo by Tracy Porter
Mary King and Walter the Show Poneh. Mary is soooo fun! Photo by Tracy Porter
Seeing what the coach sees and learning from their comments:
Want the best free lesson in the world? Stand anywhere within ear shot of a coach warming up their rider, watching their test, and giving them feedback after a ride. These two men are brilliant coaches and the North American teams are so lucky to have them:
David O’Connor (USA) watches closely. Photo By: Tracy Porter
After what could have been a bad fall, it was so great to see this rider get up, pat her horse on the neck, and tell him: “It’s ok, babe”. She walked away with a smile and an arm resting on her partner. Remember to hug your horse in good times and bad.
Above all, a team. Photo by Tracy Porter
The friends, family, owners, sponsors, and coaches who become the best cheerleaders:
It takes a village to make it to Rolex. Blood, sweat, tears, time, and money spent all become worth it when you see your team succeed on one of the biggest stages.
They were happy with Allie Knowles and Last Call’s Dressage! Photo by Tracy Porter
Congrats on a job well done! Boyd Martin and Trading Aces. Photo by Tracy Porter
Celebrating with friends at the end of a long weekend:
You don’t have to win Rolex to have a great weekend. It was nice to see that even in the upper level prize-giving ceremonies, friends can celebrate together.
Kristi Nunnink and R-Star celebrate with Mar de Amor and his owner, Leigh Mesher, after a great weekend. Photo By: Tracy Porter
Check out the HJU Facebook page for more photos from the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event.
Standlee bagged products ready to head to the barn!
* HJU product reviews are 100% honest, independent and made from an amateur rider’s perspective. If you would like us to review your product, please send us an email.
Product Review – Standlee Hay Products
With the availability of hay and the ever climbing prices, Festin and I were lucky enough to try some great products from the Standlee Hay Company. Maybe you’re familiar with them already or maybe, like me, you were unaware of all the hay products that are commercially available.
Our nearest supplier was located just over the Illinois border at Tractor Supply in Indiana and I found it well worth the short drive. If there isn’t a retailer in your immediate area and you are interested in incorporating one of their products into your feeding regimen they also offer a drop ship option through some of their retail partners.
I found that the bagged products were consistent throughout the bag and from one bag to the next. There was very little waste or powdered product and the pellets seemed to hold up very well to the scoop we used. When I opened the bag (which opened like a traditional grain bag), I immediately noticed that “fresh cut hay smell”, which to be honest I was not expecting.
My thoroughbred, who is a super picky eater, absolutely loved both pellet varieties we tried and did not turn them down once. The pellets were a great way for us to add some additional groceries and supplement our existing hay supply. The only drawback I could identify with the pellets was that the horses eat them at the same pace that they would typically eat a grain product (in other words, if you are trying to keep the horses quiet on one of those rainy indoor only days, the pelleted product is not the way to go). That being said, I would definitely recommend the pelleted product for it’s convenience and palatability. Both products I tried were $14.99 for a 40lb bag.
Standlee’s Premium Alfalfa Compressed Bales
As for the compressed bales, I was impressed by the small package and 40 pound weight. The hay was of excellent quality with no foreign object debris, and no weeds or straw-like pieces seen. Overall, this was some of the nicest quality straight alfalfa hay I have seen and I like the idea that it will be consistent in quality from one shipment to the next. The hay was well packaged and did not come apart in transit. In spite of being transported from the field to the store and then to my barn, there was no mold or other identifiable problems. The 40lb compressed bale was available for $17.99 at my local Tractor Supply.
Festin loves the Alfalfa/Timothy Mini Cubes!
The last product that I sampled was one of my favorites and will absolutely remain a part of our normal routine. The Alfalfa/Timothy Mini Cubes are a great size and have that lovely rich aroma when you open the bag. What I LOVED about them was the fact that they are treat-sized bites and the horses really chewed and savored them.
It is great to be able to give your horse a treat that is nutritious and isn’t immediately devoured. These have become a part of of our pre-workout routine since they don’t have a ton of sugar and are not sticky. A 40lb bag of these awesome “treats” was $14.99, making it one of the most economical treats I have found. I also plan to purchase Whinny Nicker Horse Treats, an actual treat made of the timothy and alfalfa blend with apple juice and cranberries!
My overall impression of the Standlee products was excellent! The website was easy to navigate and included all the nutrition information and feeding recommendations for each product. The products were well packaged, of good consistent quality, and they stood up to the ultimate picky eater test by satisfying my OTTB, Festin!
The only sun we saw on Saturday, sadly it was in the cross country construction area!
The weather god’s smiled on the Kentucky Horse Park Saturday. With a 70% chance of rain, we were blessed with overcast skies, cool conditions, and only an intermittent sprinkle in the afternoon.
Cross country results ended up all over the place and I am still scratching my head trying to figure out what happened to create such different results from the morning session to the afternoon session. 41 horse and rider combinations started the course after Jennie Brannigan, Jessica Phoenix, Sarah Cousins, and Jan Bynny on Inmidair withdrew.
The morning session seemed to flow well with only the retirement of Madeline Blackman and Gordonstown and the elimination of Becky Holder and can’t fire me due to a fall at the goose pond. Of the 21 horses that started in the morning session there were seven double clears, including first time Rolex riders Lynn Symansky and Daniel Clasing. 19 0f the 21 horses that started the morning session completed the cross country phase and move on to the second inspection today, a stark contrast to the 11 of 21 that started the afternoon session.
Afternoon shockers included the retirement of Mary King and Fernhill Urco, Boyd Martin and Trading Aces, William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning, and Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice. The only three double clear rounds in the afternoon belonged to Kendal Lehari and Daily Edition, Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM, and Andrew Nicholson and Quimbo.
Andrew Nicholson and Quimbo bringing it home. Photo By Tracy Porter
Kendal Lehari and Daily Edition through the HSBC water park. Photo By Tracy Porter
Video – Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle’s Cross-Country ride
The one thing that really stood out to me yesterday was the horsemanship demonstrated by several of the riders. Whether they were jubilantly crossing the finish line double clear like Buck Davidson and Reggie (who I had the pleasure to watch in the vet box just after), making the decision to save their horse for another day like so many did, or standing up after a fall, patting their horse and saying “It’s ok, babe” you could tell the horse was the most important thing part of it all.
Good boy!!! Buck Davidson and crew rewarding Ballynoe Castle RM after a great cross country run. Photo By Tracy Porter
Here’s to hoping that the forecasted rains hold off today, healthy happy horses and riders pass the second jog, and the rails stay up in the showjumping!
Andrew Nicholson and Quimbo start the day with a rail in hand over Andrew and his other mount Calico Joe. The top placed American combination is Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM on a 45.2.
Friday dressage brought us a new leader going into the cross country phase. Sadly, Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda withdrew before dressage leaving 45 horse and rider combinations heading to the start box tomorrow. The top ten after dressage are as follows, videos from the USEF Network:
10. William Fox-Pitt and Seacookie TSF (on a 46.2)
William Fox-Pitt and Seacookie TSF Photo By Cynthia Lawler
9. Shandiss McDonald and Rockfield Grant Juan (on a 45.7)
Shandiss McDonald and Rockfield Grant Juan Photo By Tracy Porter
8. Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM (on a 45.2)
Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM Photo By Tracy Porter
7. Becky Holder and Can’t Fire Me (on a 44.2)
Becky Holder and Can’t Fire Me Photo By Tracy Porter
5. (tie) Marilyn Little and RF Demeter (on a 43.7)
Marilyn Little and RF Demeter Photo By Tracy Porter
5. (tie) Mary King and Fernhill Urco (on a 43.7)
Mary King and Fernhill Urco Photo By Tracy Porter
4. Allie Knowles and Last Call (on a 43.3)
Allie Knowles and Last Call Photo By Tracy Porter
3. Andrew Nicholson and Calico Joe (on a 40.8)
Andrew Nicholson and Calico Joe Photo By Tracy Porter
2. Andrew Nicholson and Quimbo (on a 38.0)
Andrew Nicholson and Quimbo Photo By Tracy Porter
1. William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning (on a 33.3)
William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning Photo By Tracy Porter
Today was full of beautiful rides, but watching Last Call and Allie Knowles today gave me goosebumps. Their test was beautiful and the emotion afterwards was beautiful and deserves a little extra love!
Allie Knowles and Last Call Photo By Tracy Porter
Allie Knowles and Last Call Photo By Tracy Porter
Allie Knowles and Last Call Photo By Tracy Porter
Allie Knowles’ well wishers Photo By Tracy Porter
Allie at the press conference with William Fox-Pitt and Andrew Nicholson