Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Event That Never Happened

So, as a newbie eventer, there was some hope that this year I would actually make it to an event.  There were plans.  GOOD plans.  And what is it they say about the best laid plans?  Yeah, throw a horse into that mix and you are guaranteed to wind up working on Plan Z version 2.7. 

My maiden voyage was to be the MD starter trials in Oct.  Home base (MDHT is across the street) is always a good place to start.  A starter trial is ideal because I own no show boots, jacket, britches…..well, anything.  And as I’ve mentioned, I don’t know how to braid yet, so an unrecognized starter trial is the perfect venue to not worry about attire + appearance and just focus on the basics, like, you know, SURVIVING.  Kerry and I worked out a masterful plan.  She was hosting a training day on Saturday as part of MDHT’s “week with the pros” so I would actually get to ride the entire course before the actual starter trial on Sunday.  Perfection.  Riding the course the day before would guarantee at least a smidgeon of confidence.  At the very least I would know exactly what to expect.  We added to Kerry and Julie’s Perfect Event Plan by entering Rocky to go novice the week before at the recognized MDHT.  Rocky hadn’t been to an event in a while, so Kerry was going to run him novice to knock off any rust, ensuring he’d be all “ho hum honey badger” going beginner novice (with me) the weekend after.  Planning Perfection at its finest. 

I learn a dressage test.  My first dressage test EVER.  Some walking, some trotting, some cantering.  We got this.  Well, all but the cantering, but that’s only two circles so so what if we canter around with our nose in the air?  The goal here is to do it, not necessarily do it well :)   I have a two hour lesson with Tom to work on our round canter, its non-existent.  Emphasis on OUR, as in me + Rocky.  Rocky apparently has a very nice round canter, which I have failed to elicit.  At this point I’m just concerned with keeping him cantering for a whole 20m circle, round and supple is the least of my worries. 

Novice run commences.  I am late, and show up in time to see Kerry in dressage warm up.  Rocky looks a little nervous, which is to say he looks awake, Kerry looks exhausted having run the Baltimore marathon the day before.  All business in the dressage ring though.  Rocky is definitely one of those horses who has a game face.  After dressage, Rocky is much more relaxed, honey badger just don’t give a f*ck attitude in full force.  We’ve got some downtime before show jumping, so Rock star gets some grazing and relaxation on the trailer. Finally we tack up for SJ.  Kerry hops on and starts the trot down to warm-up.  And Rocky is dead LAME.  Huh?  How does a horse come up lame after a novice dressage test?   Best laid plans.  Pack it up, that’s a wrap.  We get Rocky home and he toes his left hind all the way from the trailer to his stall. 

We hope, we pray, we pack the hoof trying to draw out the suspected abscess and ascertain some realm of soundness before the weekend and my FirstEverAmazingBeginnerNoviceAwesomeEventingSurvivalExperience.  We try him on Wednesday.  I believe “wonky behind” were the exact words Kerry used.  By Friday the “wonkiness” had not subsided, no abscess to be seen and I finally re-route my starter trial event hopes to the November MDHT starter trial.  All hope is not lost!  I tentatively start my daily, silent dressage prayers….until it takes three weeks, a month (?) for Rocky to finally blow out that abscess.  At this point, I have actually forgotten about the November edition starter trial....until the rest of the barn starts prepping for it a few days before the event.  Oh yeah, I was supposed to be running BN….two days from now.  Sometimes I entertain the notion that I am in fact a bad-ass.  A bad-ass wouldn’t care that their horse had only been ridden four days out of the past month, hadn’t seen a cross country jump in even longer or that they didn’t even know which dressage test was scheduled.  A bad-ass would throw caution to the wind, jump in head first and ride bareback around their first ever cross country course.  And then I wake up from my daydream and realize I am not a bad-ass.  I am more in the realm of pansy-ass, definitely smart-ass and on some occasions even dumb-ass, but bad-ass, no.  So there is no way I am running BN in two days.  I feel utterly unprepared.  And feeling unprepared leads to a lack of confidence.  And a lack of confidence leads to nerves.  And nerves lead to soiling your pretty white britches (I don’t actually have pretty white britches yet).  Our event hopes are gone for 2012, so newbie eventer I will remain until next year.   

I’ve given a lot of thought to my petrified state at the thought of going Beginner Novice unprepared.  For a while I just chalked it up to being a complete pansy-ass, which may be entirely true, I mean, Rocky is pretty much a training level packer, so beginner novice is not going to phase him.  But to save my ego, I’ve decided I’m (mostly) not a pansy-ass, it is just in my nature, a personality trait, to want to be prepared. Especially for new scary/exciting things and even some things I’ve done lots of times.  Case in point, triathlons.  I’ve done a lot of triathlons the past couple of years, but this year (2012) I did not do any.  Why?  Lack of preparation.  I was never able to stay consistent enough in my training to feel comfortable doing a race.  I like to be at a certain point, physically, before a race, and I never made it there this year.  Mainly due to falling-off-Bernie related injuries, but I also had some problems with my right knee (un-Bernie related) which side-lined me from my normal triathlon-training regiment.  When I was finally injury-free, it was towards the end of the triathlon season and I thought about just doing one for the hell of it, I know I can finish the race, but decided not to.   It would be stressful and just not  as much fun.  And really, that’s what races and events are all about.  HAVING FUN.  Feeling prepared* provides me the best opportunity to have a good time out there while trying not to die (hmmm, a bit over-dramatic).

*Do not confuse this training/physical/ability preparation with remembering-things-you-might-need-in advance-forethought preparation.  While I will always strive to be prepared physically and mentally in my ability to accomplish something, I have very little hope of achieving forethought preparation, like remembering my helmet and gloves so I don’t have to drive to the barn in the morning to fetch them (see blog post I Swear I am Smarter than I Seem). 

Fast forward a month, and while my hopes for an actual event start are postponed until spring, I do have my first ever jumper show on Jan. 5th.   Its actually not just my first jumper show, its my first show, period.  And while the weather has not permitted a lot of practice for Rocky and me lately, I have complete confidence in his ability to go there with his game face and get shit done, and I have moderate confidence in myself to go along for the ride.  Plus, Kerry said there will be adult beverages. And NOTHING goes better with your first jumper show than adult beverages. Triathlon training for the 2013 season starts in January too.  Its going to be a great month.  Kerry Blackmer, OPEN WATER HERE WE COME!

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Second Trip to Dodon Farm aka I Swear I'm Smarter than I Seem

We’ve all done it.  We’ve all made fools of ourselves.  Some of us just do it more often than others.  And some of us do it on a regular basis.  I’ve been told there are two types of smarts.  There is book-smart and then there is common-sense or “street” smart.  Well, apparently these two attributes rarely go together.  And apparently I am of the “book-smart” variety, (yes, I did well in school) which is to say, I lack common sense.   And this is another one: “Some people are just really good at taking tests.”  Yes, that’s me.  Will there be a test on this, please?  I’m hoping my ultra-honed test-taking abilities will carry over to dressage tests (somehow I’m thinking not).  I’ve had the bookish, smart-person label all my life, and I’m okay with that, but for f*ck’s sake, I can be a massive idiot sometimes.  A lot of the time.  I refuse to believe I completely lack all vestiges of common sense, so I’ve given some thought to the causes of my frequent air-headedness, and here’s what I’ve come up with.    
      1.     I am normally in a hurry 
      2.   I don’t always take the time to think things through (see #1) 
      3.     I tend to be a bit absentminded and A.D.D. 
      4.   I spend a lot of time thinking about the immediate immediate and not a lot of time thinking about the immediate future, which means my “planning ahead” skills are a bit suspect (see #1 and #3)

I don’t really agree with the term “absent” minded.  While the dictionary definition of absentminded, “preoccupied” could be my life’s motto, I take issue with the word “absent.”  Implying the mind is nowhere to be found.  I‘m actually too much “present” minded.  I am in my head all the time, often preoccupied thinking about one thing while doing another.  Which means I am too busy over-analyzing the tightness present in my  left hip which is causing my left leg to slip back over fences, and lose the occasional stirrup and what stretches, warm-up and foam rolling exercises would be beneficial to correct this, than to think about the most logical way to load the dishwasher. 

Now, remembering my list of excuses above for my frequent forays into idiocy, I will move on to a section of my blog post which I am calling I SWEAR I AM SMARTER THAN I SEEM.

I head to the barn Saturday evening to clean Kerry’s tack in preparation for Sunday’s event (she is taking Rock star novice for me).  While there I get a very helpful lesson on tack cleaning (thank you Elizabeth Darr).  Laugh all you want about my rudimentry tack cleaning knowledge, but I’ve NEVER been to a show before, which also means I’ve NEVER cleaned tack in preparation for a show before (newbie eventer, remember?).  I don’t know if there is some special show ritual for cleaning tack.  Do you use special saddle soap, is there a special order, some unwritten but well-known process of cleaning tack for a show?  These are all things I don’t know.  And this isn’t tack cleaning for me, its tack cleaning for Kerry, so, you know, it needs to be done right.  The good news is cleaning tack for a show is the same as cleaning tack normally, but more thorough, so I feel I was successful with the cleaning aspect.  The bad news is I unfortunately wasn’t there the next morning when Kerry was prepping for the event, so hopefully I managed to put everything back together correctly. 

While at the barn cleaning tack, it does not occur to me to go ahead and grab my helmet, gloves, boots and half chaps, which I will need for tomorrow morning’s trek to Dodon Farm.  I blame it on the wine I had with me for tack cleaning endevours, but we know the truth (#4 above).  My lack of preparation and forthought lead to an additional 20 minutes added to my early morning trip, as I retrieve these items from the barn which I could have easily grabbed the night before when I WAS RIGHT THERE. 

Necessary riding equipment acquired and I’m on my way to Dodon Farm.  I am CONVINCED I need to take I-70 to get there, and as such I do not plug in my GPS until I reach the highway.  Which I then promptly ignore as I drive past my exit.  An hour and 20 minutes later, I arrive. On my trip home, I immediately plug in the GPS and it proceeds to take me a completely different route  (no I-70 necessary) and I make it home in an hour. I swear I’m smarter than I seem.  

I am doing some work for Steuart Pittman for Retire Racehorse Training Project (RRTP) and in exchange he is giving me some much welcomed riding lessons whenever our schedules coincide and I can make the trip to Dodon Farm.  (  CHECK IT OUT).  Last time I was here I made a bit of an ass of myself by crashing through an oxer and subsequently leaving my helmet and gloves (see blog post My Visit to Dodon Farm).  So, I’m figuring it can only go up from there.  I’m not nearly as nervous as I was last time, which I’m hoping will translate into some more relaxed riding.  A lot has changed at Dodon since my previous visit and I give myself the self-guided tour of the new barn, which is amazing.  There is something peaceful about being in a horse barn.  I could probably spend hours sitting in a barn, I enjoy the sounds, even the smells and the simplistic atmosphere.  I also appreciate being in a place that while neat and kept, is never really truly CLEAN.  Because its not supposed to be.  It’s a place where horses are loved and cared for, which also means it’s a place where horses poop.  I think its hard to take yourself too seriously around horse poop and I appreciate that.  It seems like a lot of aspects of my life have been very, stressfully “serious” lately and I will find and take comfort wherever I can get it, and if its horse poop, then its horse poop.  If I can just get to the barn, I’m immediately more relaxed and all of my big, looming problems, don’t seem so big and looming anymore.  I can take time to turn my focus to my horse, my riding and our partnership and everything else just seems to fade away, if only for an hour.  Sorry if I went too deep for some of you about horse poop, but maybe you should spend more time around horses and horse poop and see if you feel similarly. 

Horse poop ruminating aside, Steuart appears in all his glorious tallness and infectious enthusiasm and we select my mount, Laney (aka Lois Lane on Dodon Farm’s horses for sale page).  Steuart hands me a boot as we boot her up.  (We actually had to trade boots because Steuart handed me the wrong boot for the right front, which I actually noticed, kudos to me.  Don’t worry I’m about to blow all my horse-tack-knowledge points on what happens next).  Then he hands me what I think is some new-fangled fancy saddle pad as he retrieves his saddle.  He goes to put the saddle on Laney and realizes I’ve put the saddle pad on upside down.  NO!  I’m really impressed with my new low of stupidity embarrassed.  I mean, Steuart is well aware of my mediocre riding abilities, but not being able to figure out a saddle pad?!?!  I glance around for a large hole to crawl in, but there isn’t one.  For f*ck’s sake, really Julie?  Is this your first time tacking up a horse?  If my work for RRTP thus far hadn’t been spot on, I’m quite sure Steuart would think I’m a nincompoop.   I swear I’m smarter than I seem!

To top it off we are bridling Laney with some contraption I’ve never seen before, and I’m shooting Steuart loads of quizzical looks as we adjust it. 

“You’ve never seen one of these before?  They’re all the rage.”  He tells me. 

No Steuart, I’m still coming to terms with figure 8 bridles and apparently saddle pads, which seem at the cusp of my IQ level, this thing is way past.  The contraption in question:

Alright, boots on, saddle pad right side up, fancy Micklem bridle conquered and we are ready. 

We do a little bit of flat work and transitions so Laney and I can get the feel of each other and to warm up.  I never really get her round at the canter which seems to be the story of my life lately. 

**Side story**:  I had a two hour lesson with Tom (Waters) recently prepping for a dressage test (that never happened) and I could not get Rocky round at the canter.  Just couldn’t get it done.  Tom hops on (in jeans and sneakers mind you and NO spurs which are a requirement for riding Rocky) and he has Rocky lovely and round at the canter in 30 seconds.  “Julie, this horse should be making you look good!  He already knows everything and does everything for you, a monkey could ride this horse and do well in dressage.”  Says Tom.  Okay, maybe he didn’t say the monkey part, but its something he would say.  He hands Rocky back over to me and I STILL can’t get a round canter.  Mcuk Me. **Side Story End** 

And as much as I love my forgiving, willing Rock star, Laney is a bit more forward and easier to keep cantering, which is nice.  But Laney is a rock star in her own right over fences.  Very easy and comfortable to jump.  It's easy to see she enjoys it and really hones in on the fence once you point her at it.  She is faster and more forward to fences than I’m used to, and it’s fun.  I miss a couple of spots to the fence, mostly the long ones, but for the most part I’m staying with her and even asking for the extra step here and there.  Steuart puts me on some courses, which is good because I don’t practice a lot of courses (clearly I should).  He also incorporates some tight steering and correct aim, which I miss the first time around and we have an awkward S-curve approach, but work it out any ways.  And we do OXERS!  And I don’t fall off.  I’m feeling pretty good and confident and Steuart and I discuss my jumping before we do some cross country.  He tells me even when I have a good spot to the fence, I’m still just a little forward a tick too soon with my position.  I know.  I can feel it.  I need to sit and wait a half second longer.  I’ve suspected this.  Even when I’ve felt good about my jumping with Rocky I’ve suspected my bad habits haven’t gotten better, only my timing of my bad habits.  Steuart has just confirmed my nagging suspicions.  Still something to work on.  Wait and then wait some more.  I don’t know what my mental block is when it comes to waiting.  Am I afraid of being left behind?  Am I still trying to “help” the horse forward by leaning forward?  I can hear Tom yelling now “there is no reason in any riding discipline to ever throw your shoulders forward in front of a fence!  Ever!”  Ugh, he’s right.  Quiet the mind and still the body in front of fences! Only been working on it for a year now.  Maybe another year and I will have this habit conquered.  Steuart makes an interesting suggestion based on some advice from Jim Wofford: draw my head back (like you’re trying to create a double chin) right in front of the fence.  If my head stays back, so will the rest of my upper body.  According to Jim Wofford (according to Steuart) there are two sports where you never want to stick your chin out, riding a horse over fences and boxing. 

As we move to some cross country schooling, I give this a shot.  While a bit awkward and yet another addition to the ever-increasing list of things I need to think about in front of fences, it does work if executed properly and timely.  If you over do it (which apparently I was) then it can make you stiffen the upper body, which you don’t want.  So, just a small motion and don’t make yourself rigid over it.  If you’re interested, here’s my list of things to think about in front of a fence:
     1.      SIT DOWN 
     2.      LEG ON 
     3.      Don’t throw your shoulders forward (EVER!) 
     4.      Left leg at girth (it tends to slip if I don’t think about it) 
     5.      Hands down and quiet 
     6.      Count your strides 
     7.      Look at the top of the top rail of the jump 
     8.      And now: Draw head back and make a double chin 
     9.      Oh yeah, and don’t fall off

So, that’s a lot to remember and execute well in the seconds before a fence.  Perfect practice makes perfect.  I need to master a few of these until they are automatic (good habits!) and then move on to the next few. 

Alright, more about my cross country schooling.  Laney is a forward horse, so I secretly have concerns about her running away with me.  But she doesn’t!  She is obviously a very well-trained horse, because you get the impression she WANTS to take off like a bullet, but she knows better and waits for her rider’s cues.  We go over logs and roll tops and take an awkward one over a coop.  And we do my first chevron!  Made easier by the fact it was flanked by two large blue barrels, but still, it was my first!  Now we are adding a ditch and a down bank.  Apparently I like to tell Steuart when he is asking me to do something I’ve never done before (aka a down bank and an up bank).  Steuart then likes to make me do these things.  He’s incredulous over my lack of experience with banks.  The up bank is easy, but down banks TERRIFY me.  (See blog post Things I Learned from the Olympics).  Which is impressive in its own right, seeing as how I’ve NEVER done one before and have no real negative experience with them.  Nonetheless I’ve done a pretty solid job of mentally freaking myself out over drops.  So we trot to the down bank and it’s a bit ridiculous.  Right before the large drop (small step down, whatever) I take my leg off and completely stop riding Laney and in turn she completely stops.  Steuart yells “LEG!” sounding suspiciously like Tom, and we quietly step down off the bank.  Sheepish smile.  Does that count?  Of course not, now we are just going to add it into our short cross country course at a canter.  Yikes.  Laney is doing her thing, I’m trying to do my chin thing (rather unsuccessfully because I kinda forget, see list above) and we do the ditch rather nicely and canter the approach to our drop.  I get confused, probably on purpose, miss the “drop” and we canter down a sloped hill to the left of the drop instead.  I miss the interesting tire jump altogether but turn it around and finish the last two jumps.  So much for confidence, steering and staying on course.  Steuart’s expression is a bit unreadable after I finish my mini-course, I think he knows I sub-consciously, possibly consciously, missed the down bank because I was, uh, scared, but he lets it slide.  It’s the end of my lesson and maybe he’s just happy we’ve finished with me still in the saddle, so he doesn’t push the bank issue.  I have a feeling this drop will resurface in my next lesson.   I do two more jumps specifically to practice my double chin and I nail it on the second one.  It felt RIGHT, I was with Laney, not a split second ahead of her.  Her motion moved me into my motion.  Now if I can just memorize and replicate. 

We head to the barn and I get Laney untacked and ready for turn out and I’m searching everywhere for her halter.  Finally I ask Steuart and he says, “you’re holding it aren’t you?”  Why, yes, yes I am.  And now I’m looking for that hole to crawl into again right after I get back from turning Laney out in the wrong pasture.  I swear I’m smarter than I seem.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The coop coup d'├ętat

So I'm all bright eyed and bushy tailed at the barn at 6:30am getting ready for my morning ride on rockstar mount Rocky, and upon cleaning his feet, I notice a loose shoe.  Damn, no dewy, crisp morning hack for us today.  I retire Rocky to his stall and I consider going back home and subsequently back to bed or at least the couch.  

OR........since I'm all booted, half-chapped and spurred up, I could ride.....


Mcuk me.  I glance at him in his stall trying to determine his good Bernie/evil Bernie propensity today......

 ......and I swear to God he looks at me like this:

And then he throws one of these at me:

You can just see the halo, can't you?

Okay, alright, I'll give it a go.  But so help me God, Bernie if you kick me, bite me, buck me, rear me, throw me or in some other way cause me bodily harm....!  

I will cry. 

And then I will catch you and return you to your stall and cry some more over my latest defeat and your latest victory. 

The score thus far is Bernie 4  vs  Julie 0

So, the odds aren't in my favor. 

We get tacked up and the bridle is still fitted for Rocky's big noggin, who I rode yesterday morning.  This means (deductive reasoning alert!) Bernie was not ridden yesterday (I often rely on others to ride Bernie).  Which probably means Bernie hasn't done any work since......Saturday.  Two days.  In Bernie world, this is an eternity.  By now he's probably forgotten he's actually broke and will revert to a bull named Fu Man Chu, bucking wildly upon mounting.  Combine this with the fact that he wasn't actually RIDDEN on Saturday, (I only walked him, via lead rope across the street to the terrifying cross country course) and this isn't boding well.  But..... he only tried to kill me once on Saturday by trying to run me over and then bucking and farting in my general direction, sooooo, maybe we've turned a corner. 

Before riding Bernie, I like to lead him around the ring and let him stare at things and possibly react.  This is more for me than for him.  I like to know, before mounting, what things/areas he's going to pretend to be afraid of.  If I was a betting woman (which I am) I would bet on the two large blue barrels.  And I would be......


While Bernie is completely unoffended and unimpressed by these barrels (even when I smack them with my whip!) before I am rider up, once mounted, these barrels become inherently suspicious.  

The only thing suspicious here, is you, Bernie.  You scammer spooker.  I just proved to BOTH of us that the blue barrels are NOT scary.  Yet you still proceed with your wide-eyed looks and sideways dance.  But I know the truth. 


And the punishment for faking, is whipping.  So just go ahead and trot on past with your head down and slightly bent to the inside.  And we do. 

And we trot pretty circles and then we canter, lots, because I need to practice relaxing and sitting down at the canter AND a tired Bernie eases my mind a bit.  And then we canter some pretty circles, at least I think they are pretty and since there was no one there to observe and refute my statement, they were pretty.  And I'm feeling damn good about this ride.  Almost good enough to.....jump?  But the jumps are all set higher than my Bernie-riding confidence level (I would like to note, I rocked through all these fences yesterday on rock star Rocky!  Go me!  And, well, Rocky, who did most  of the work).  The only thing I would consider jumping (height-wise) with Bernie is the coop.  I WANT that coop.  I NEED that coop. 

BUT...., Bernie, and this coop....we kinda have this thing.....

This little bit of bad history, the three of us. 

The offending coop in question

And it ended with me, and the left hand standard, on the ground, the two halves of the coop aggressively parted from each other and Bernie back in the barn. 

There were tears. 

There was swearing. 

There has not been a Julie + Bernie coop attempt since. 

Now, Rocky and I eat this coop for breakfast.  But Bernie and I......should maybe wait until someone else is around to help pick up the pieces of potential epic coop fail before we try again. coop.  What we need is a cross rail.  A small, unassuming, could possibly be called a cavaletti, cross rail.  I would KILL for a cross rail.  I would do ANYTHING for a cross rail!  Except....dismount, set up the cross rail and then re-mount.  There are several reasons for this: one being if I dismount, it is questionable whether or not I will have the confidence to actually re-mount.  If I do re-mount, I will have used all of my confidence to re-mount, and will have none left to actually attempt the cross rail.  The second being if I take too long to set up the cross rail and re-mount, Bernie may forget that we were having a very successful, obedient ride, or that he has been ridden at all, ever, and could quickly revert into what-the-f*ck-are-you-doing-on-my-back-get-the-f*ck-off-RIGHT-now Bernie. 

So, no cross rail.  We do trot over a ground pole (without incident!) and move in the general direction of the liverpool, so all-in-all it was a pretty successful ride.  And by successful I mean I didn't fall off.  And maybe someday, after another rider has already jumped the coop, on Bernie, ten times, from both directions, with me watching, I will be able to mount up with coop confidence coursing through my veins and have my Bernie coop redemption.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Things I learned from the Olympics

Finishing on your dressage score does not mean you rode the dressage phase last.  I know this because all the dressage was on day one. 

Michael Jung is clearly a centaur masquerading as a man on a horse

Michael Jung + Sam = Mythical man horse being

Even Olympians will have a bad fence, take a long one, have a bad line, a bad seat, get left behind, lose their lower leg position and have a spectacular fall (like me!)

Okay, so I haven't had an at speed fall on a cross country course.  Yet.
I would like to note, this Olympic fall occurred while coming down from the

They care more about the well-being of their horse than making time or winning a medal

William Fox-Pitt eases home a tired Lionheart instead of pushing him to make time

Expecting my husband to sit through more than three dressage tests is unreasonable.  Once he realizes no one is going to fall off, he can't feign interest any longer.

Horses, even the top horses in the world, are still, well, horses and therefore completely unpredictable.

Not sure what is going on here, but I don't think that's in the dressage test

Don't be deceived by a horse named Mister Pooh

Are Olympic horses fed steaks for breakfast in an effort to convince them they have moved up the food chain?  Because this looks like it could swallow horse and rider whole:

And possibly this one too:

Yet these large, Olympic prey animals seem suspiciously unconcerned about being snacked on by these intimidating, predator-esque obstacles.  I mean, my horse is CONVINCED a plastic bag is going to eat him, yet these Olympic horses aren't bothered by this:
I mean really?

Move over Robert Redford, Mark Todd is the OHW (Original Horse Whisperer):

I see glory in your future!  But first you must lick this magical silver ball fountain thingy.

Don't question the Toddy, his horses don't either

The Kiwis can ride their asses off and then party their asses off:

This reporter is crazy.  Mark Todd can hold me FOREVER

School is in session when the Germans are in the ring and on course




My sentiments exactly

Since this blog post is about the Olympics, which were held in London, I am required to mention Kate Middleton's wardrobe.  So here's a picture of her shoes:

 A lovely navy wedge pairs wonderfully with her skinny jeans to complete Princess Casual Perfection

I am quite sure this horse could jump the actual London Bridge and Big Ben or Elizabeth Tower or whatever:

I NEED this bonnet!

"Happy 30th Birthday Michael Jung!  I turned 30 this year too!  But while you are at the pinnacle of eventing at the tender age of 30 with your shiny gold medals, I have only just started my eventing career weekend hobby at the ripe age of 30 and am lucky to stay on a horse.  And I'm not bitter."  Said me, never.

William Fox-Pitt and Mark Todd on course at the same time = EventingGreatsHorseWhisperingMaster'sClassCrossCountryOMGMindEXPLOSION

William Fox-Pitt is 6'5", making him REALLY tall; very similar to another rider whom I admire, and who is also REALLY tall :)

Mckayla Maroney is not impressed by this blog post: