Blog Hop: Wishy-Washy Ambitions

Blog Hop: Wishy-Washy Ambitions

November Equestrian Blog Hop

First of all, I’m posting this late (oops), which is why you won’t find it in the blog hop collection added at the bottom of this post. Oh well, still fun to post about.

I’m writing this late because I couldn’t really decide what to say. I have big ambitions, but I’m overly logical, so sometimes it’s easier to make smaller goals instead.

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Of course, I have the dreams of riding around the bluegrass fields at Rolex (er, Land Rover?). I watch the many motivational YouTube videos showing the high jumpers and perfect dancers in the sandbox and dream.

I compare myself to the big names and think, “Yeah, I could do that. I want to do that.”

Ironically, I have a horse that could do it, too. Out of the two of us, he’s not the one holding back.

I’ve been riding for about 7 years. I’ve never jumped 2’9. I’ve never jumped a 2’6″ oxer. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I’ve never given myself the opportunity. There’s always an excuse. He’s too runny. I’m not stable enough. We need to work on our flat more. (Okay, that’s true). Work on your fundamentals and the height will come later. 

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So, I work on smaller goals. Compete at Starter successfully. Ride my bronco without falling off (always a good plan). Get a little more bend, or suspension, or impulsion. Learn more about what makes him tick. Learn more about equine care. Every time I check something off this invisible list of goals, I’m just that much closer to my ambitions. I’ll get there.

I suppose my ambitions are two-fold. I’d love to get to an FEI level of eventing, even if it’s when I’m old and grey. That’s something I’ll always want. But for now, I’ll focus on my goals that I can accomplish!

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Click the button below to see the other blogs in November’s hop:

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Safety Initiatives in U.S. Eventing

Safety Initiatives in U.S. Eventing

With all of the back and forth on safety in eventing after the euthanization of Boyd Martin’s Crackerjack at Les Etoiles de Pau, Doug Payne’s Facebook post (a copy of the post by Denis Glaccum) has raised over $1500 in donations to safety research after laying out the scope of safety efforts in relation to the fatality itself.

But what is the USEA already doing to research safety in eventing before a fall occurs?

In the comments of the post, one USEA member brought up the idea of transparency – how can the association members see what the board and committees see? I brought up the idea of an annual report – which already exists – but the fact that I didn’t even know about it shows that it is not enough in of itself.

Next, Rob Burk, the CEO of the USEA, was brought into the conversation. He linked a series of useful pages – which, again, I didn’t know existed. However, the information on the pages, while explained well, was wordy even to me, a nerdy college student with way too much time on her hands. Of course, I had to be extra and make the infographic I suggested myself.

So, I’ve done the work for you! Below is a series of graphics that pull out the main points from each report in an easy-to-understand way. Obviously, by doing it this way, you lose context and other factors, so I’ve also included the links to the pages themselves in case something strikes your attention.

I believe the USEA is doing a phenomenal job increasing safety in conjunction with the other national and international associations and governing bodies. Do we have a long way to go? Yes. But it’s important to see how far we’ve come and how much we are doing. Many people believe eventers live on the edge all the time (okay, maybe we do), but we also care. We give 110% to make this sport better every, single day.

I hope you find this useful and learn something new!

If you feel inclined to donate to the USEA, there is a donate button at the bottom of Doug’s post.

If you would like to download a PDF version of this infographic, click HERE.

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(The links won’t work in the picture, so I’ve copied them below.)

Sources:

Other Good Links:

If you spot a mistake or would like to speak with me about this topic, email me at eventerat14@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!

Blog Hop: Halloween Past, Present, & Future

Blog Hop: Halloween Past, Present, & Future

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October’s Bridle and Bone Blog Hop is appropriately Halloween-themed.

Equestrian Blog Hop

To be perfectly honest, Halloween is one of my least favorite holidays. I have zero self-control, so put me in front of candy, and I’ll eat it. Not fantastic for a girl who really wants to watch her sugar intake. So, I’ll keep this short and sweet!

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One of my best friends may be the queen of Halloween FX makeup, but I am not, and costumes are not my strong suit.

So, limitation of candy + bad costumes = boring Halloween.

I haven’t had a barn Halloween tradition in years. At my first barn, PLF, we had a Halloween costume party, but after that it never seemed important, especially as I drifted between farms. But I distinctly remember my brother dressing up with the horse he used to ride as Toy Story characters at that first barn and letting the old schoolies bob for apples!

I would love to have a Halloween tradition. My current barn family is amazing, and I plan to stay here as long as I can. We didn’t do anything this year, but I’d love to have a costume contest or something fun like that – a way to party together.

However, we’re also lucky to have plenty of Halloween-themed shows (especially one well-known Hunter Pace) near us, and I’d absolutely love to be able to do one or more of those. So, once Beau and I have conquered some more shows and we’ve found the elusive horse trailer we need, maybe this can be a Halloween tradition for years to come.

Whatever spooky tradition we come up with, I can’t wait to share it with Beau!

Cavaletti, the Canter, and a Grid

Cavaletti, the Canter, and a Grid

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Two weeks ago, I had a dressage lesson with my trainer. I pulled two main objectives from it:

  • Keep the contact in the transitions
  • Achieve a collected, bouncy-ball canter

When we first got Beau, he rooted his mouth all the time. Not to find the connection but to avoid it. This meant that I started riding with a really, really light contact and even losing more contact in the transitions. Eventually, I started riding with more of a contact in the gaits, but I never started keeping the connection in the transitions again. I think it also helped that we moved from the slow twist bit he came in to a baucher to the smooth d-ring snaffle he’s in now. He needed the slow twist when we got him, but he’s learned to respond to light touches on the bit as well as leg and voice cues.

It was insane how as soon as I figured out how to keep the contact in the transitions, his head went down and his hind end came up under him. Magic. We only got it a few more times in the lesson, but I’ve been working at it in my rides and man does it make a difference.

The next objective was to achieve a collected, bouncy ball canter. We achieved this through transitions and cavaletti (well, a single one). We used a 20 meter circle to work on this. 6 canter strides and 6 trot strides made Beau rock back on his haunches and stay light on his shoulder. Next, we moved to the ground pole. Whenever we work on a pole or a jump, my trainer wants me to really push him to it. By doing that, he sits back on his hind end and actually uses himself.

We know Beau can extend his stride, easily. He has a 10 to 12′ stride in a working canter, can extend to about 14′, and can collect to about 7′, though that’s really pushing it. He has a harder time collecting, and we really want him to be able to do it, not just for dressage work but also so that he can make tight turns and spots in the jump arena.

This week, our lesson was more about jumping. Our objectives were:

  • For me to stop pitching my shoulders forward and down
  • For Beau to push up to the jump

My trainer set up a no-stride bounce to a four stride (I think) single. We worked at it for a while, really keeping a steady trot and an up-and-down canter. The canter helped me to be able to push him to the base of the jump. We also worked on my position, keeping my hips back and my shoulders up.

Lessons are an important part of my riding. I’m really starting to see progress, although winter is coming and Beau will start getting his cold weather crazies soon!

 

 

 

 

Equestrian Blog Hop: What Started It All

Equestrian Blog Hop: What Started It All

When Heather of Bridle and Bone (psst: all my links open in a new tab – so click away!) posted about this blog hop, I instantly knew that I wanted to be a part of it. Not only is it a great way to network and meet other bloggers, I knew it would be a great chance to get OTTBs and Oxers’s name out there. I can’t wait to read and comment on the other blogs and read other blogger’s opinions of mine.

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I am probably one of the newest blogs participating in this blog hop.

I started posting on OTTBs and Oxers on March 18th of this year with 18 Motivational Quotes. That was just over 6 months ago!

Before that, I had an even smaller Blogger site called U:Equestrian. I decided to switch to OTTBs and Oxers for a couple of reasons:

  1. The name came to me out of the blue and how could I not use it??
  2. I’m more comfortable with WordPress, as I’ve been using it for years to create websites for other people.
  3. Part of U:Equestrian was based around University. As I’m already a sophomore in college, I wanted my blog to be able to grow with me after I graduate.

Sept Blog Hop

Why did I decide to start blogging in the first place?

I think it all stems from my love of writing. Since I was a little girl in grade school, I’ve always had my nose tucked in a book. I could only read so much before the need to write my own stories won me over.

In sixth grade, I started writing my very first book, a shapeshifter romance centered on an adventure. I finished it in eighth grade, and for those two years, I constantly had my flower print composition notebook and a pen in my hands.

In high school, I started writing a spin-off of that same novel – this time more a historical romance. It was also during this time that I learned how to write technically. I was blessed to be able to take Honors and AP classes that taught me proper writing techniques. Now, I’m working on my third novella, a fictional story based on the Manchester bombing.

It made sense to me to combine my love of writing with my love of my horse. A blog was the logical answer – plus, I knew it could be fun!

Blogging allows me to keep a journal of how far Beau and I have come – which is important to me as an amateur with a difficult horse. It also lets me get my opinions to other equestrians on products (Review: Annie’s Equestrienne Breeches) and current events (The Rolex Red Carpet!). I can even reflect on the important events in my life and how they affect my life as an equestrian, even if they are not equestrian in nature (Coming Home).

A big part of my blog experience is my presence on Twitter’s equestrian hub, fondly dubbed “The Island.” Through it, I received the inspiration for my last post and huge project, Rider Drug Use: Is It a Problem?. I also find it is a great platform to connect with your audience. I’ve even found a great support group for my non-blog writing in The Island Writers (Shout-out to you, girls!). My Twitter is @OTTBsandOxers.

What have I learned?

So far, I’ve learned that the equestrian blogging community is comprised of many incredible people who love to support each other. I have never felt alone in my quest to discover what blogging holds for my future. There is always someone to go to with questions or somewhere to look for inspiration.

Something I still struggle with is how to make my blog stand out in a sea of fantastic equestrian bloggers. I have an awesome, amazing horse, and I love chronicling our adventures, but so do plenty of other people. I am currently trying to start an IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) team at my school, which I planned to write about, but I am running into speed bump after speed bump. I’m a competitive person, but I don’t have a trailer, so we don’t show many times a year.

So, what do I have that’s unique?

  1. This silly, adorable, tries-his-heart-out horse.

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  2. A university perspective: I’m a sophomore dealing with horses, a job, school, and volunteering all at the same time.

  3. A competitive mindset – even if I’m not competing all the time, I still have goals for my rides that are fun to read.

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  4. Dedication to this blog – I’m currently posting between one and two times a week.

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Be sure to check out my other posts if you enjoyed this one – thanks for reading!

Click the button below to see the other blog hop posts:

Rider Drug Use: Is It a Problem?

Rider Drug Use: Is It a Problem?

The answer is a resounding NO.

Out of a survey of 691 equestrians, only 80 people, or <12% of people reported that they had ever used around horses.

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That number goes down significantly when asked about drug use at horse shows: a mere 27 people reported use. That’s less than 4%!

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Only <8% of riders have ever ridden drunk. That’s 53 people out of 691 respondents.

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Interestingly, 22% of people (157 respondents) believe it is socially acceptable to use (nearly double the amount of users).

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Professional drug use is where it gets interesting:

<19% of people believe only English professionals use regularly.
<3% of people believe only Western professionals use regularly.
<27% of people believe both types use regularly.

That leaves only <53% of people who believe professionals don’t use regularly.

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235 people responded when asked what discipline uses drugs the most:

48 English
45 Hunters
41 Western
29 Jumpers
22 Don’t Know
10 Eventing
10 Racing
8 All
6 Barrel Racers
6 Rodeo
2 Both
2 Dressage
2 Trail
1 Endurance
1 Foxhunting
1 Polo
1 Reining

Another shocker occurred when asked if horse shows should regulate rider drug use. A whopping <74% of people said yes.

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Demographics of Respondents:

<14% were Professionals.
<65% were Adult Amateurs.
<21% were Juniors.

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<45% were Hunter/Equitation riders.
<31% were Eventers.
<35% were Jumpers.
<26% were Dressage riders.
<10% were Western Pleasure riders.
<9% were Other (including jockeys, trail riders, etc.)
<8% were Rodeo Sport riders.
<6% were Foxhunters.

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Out of curiosity, I filtered the responses to the Hunter/Eq and Jumper riders ONLY.

Of those 415 riders, <12% (47 people) responded that they had used around horses.

<5% (19 people) responded that they had used at horse shows.

<25% (100 people) said it was socially acceptable to use in the horse world.

Regular professional use:

<24% said English professionals only
<2% said Western professionals only
<28% said both types

That leaves <48% who don’t believe any professionals use regularly.

<77% said rider drug use should be regulated at shows

Professionals: 60 responses (<15%)
Adult Amateurs: 262 responses (<64%)
Juniors: 93 responses (<23%)

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Filtered to the Eventer only results:

Out of 213 people, <10% reported drug use around horses.

<4% reported drug use at shows.

<20% thought drug use is socially acceptable in the horse world.

Regular Professional Use:

<17% English only
<2% Western only
<23% both types

That leaves <60% that don’t believe there is regular professional use.

<72% believe rider drug use should be regulated at shows.

Professionals: 39 responses (<19%)
Adult Amateurs: 136 responses (<64%)
Juniors: 38 responses (<18%)


I filtered the responses by Professional riders only.

<11% reported drug use around horses.

<3% reported drug use at horse shows.

Regular Professional use:

<20% English only
<2% Western only
<36% both types
Only <44% of them reported that they did not believe professional riders used.


The last filter was for Junior riders only.

<14% said they used around horses.

<3% said they used at horse shows.

<14% believed drug use is socially acceptable in the horse world.

Regular Professional use:

<17% English only
<6% Western only
20% both types


<% means that the number has been rounded UP from a decimal.

Review: Formal Glory Browband

Review: Formal Glory Browband

I’m going to tell you right off the bat: this is my favorite thing on my horse, everyday.

About the brand: Formal Glory is a small, one-woman leather beading business focused in Northeastern Ohio. It’s run by an awesome lady named Christine. She hand designs and hand crafts each browband, lead, and dog collar. I was introduced to Formal Glory through one of my good riding friends, Kalynn.

Creating the browband was relatively easy. I sent her an email and the process was started! She came up with a few designs that I liked before I settled on the design that graces Beau’s bridle now.

There is a special secret to my browband that not a lot of people know about. In the stones, there is one large, red bead in memory of Norman (who’s color was always red in my mind), one large, light blue stone for Hank, and one large, blue stone for Magic. I have the luck of all my boys with me when I ride!

I believe my browband was around $70 – and you’re getting a high quality product that will last. Formal Glory browbands are tough – I’m not easy on my tack, and mine still looks brand new since last Christmas! They also have a lifetime guarantee – if it breaks – Christine will fix it. They come in a variety of high quality leathers and the design choices are vast.

So, do yourself a favor – check out Formal Glory!

Bridle Care

Bridle Care

First off, I had a very nice quick ride on Beau today – my first ride with a broken finger! Honestly, it wasn’t as awkward as I thought it’d be – my hands kinda adjusted on their own.

As I was tacking him up, I noticed that his bridle was disgusting, so I decided to clean it thoroughly after my ride.

Steps to clean an (overly gross) bridle:

 

  1. Start with said gross bridle. Take some pics so readers know it is, in fact, dirty.
      
  2. Take it apart.
  3. Clean with a bucket of water, sponge, and Lexol’s 3-in-1 Cleaner, Conditioner, and Protectant. Yes, I like the 3-in-1. Dunk the browband in the bucket after unsuccessfully trying to sponge it clean.
  4. Soak bit in bucket of hot water to loosen all the crud. Scrub with rag. Admire shiny metal.
  5. Some assembly required. Mark the holes everything is supposed to be on (in your head) so it actually fits when you put in on next. Put all the flyaway bits in the keepers. Figure 8 in honor of my previous hunter jumpers trainers!

I Did This to Myself

I Did This to Myself

Sunday, Beau and I had a great ride.

I was especially excited about this ride because my dad was able to come watch and direct me. Every time he does this, it’s like a mini lesson, whether he means to or not! I’m happy to have his insight.

I started warming him up walk/trot. Next, we moved to leg yields, where we discovered that they were about three times as good going away from home as they were going towards home.

We worked on our canter. I was wimpy and let him break on me one too many times. Of course, this made me frustrated. I took Beau for a lap at a hand gallop to tell him, “Yes, it’s okay to go forward,” and to let me relax. Dad was a little baffled because we were working on our collected canter when I decided to open him up, but we were much better as a team afterwards. We then worked at bending and counterbending at the trot.

We finished up on our counterbending work and it was time to jump! We started with a simple trot X jump both ways. Next, we trotted in, cantered out a small 2′ line. Then, we bumped up to a nice, short canter and popped over it again, both ways. We also cantered the X and the line together, adding on a white gate leaned to be about 2′ high.

Then, the dreaded centerline vertical. I jumped it straight down the center, at a nice collected canter. Beau chipped in, and I left a little early. We went to do it again, and I tried to angle my line, but I ended up doing it exactly the same. We chipped again, and this time a caught my pinky finger on his neck.

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Two days later

I finished the jump and brought him to a halt before yelling for my dad to come over, quickly. I had felt my finger move, and I needed him to pop it back in place. He popped it, and I got so nauseous. I ended up having to get off and lay down in the arena for about 20 minutes before my head stopped spinning.

Beau got put away (I helped, eventually), and Dad and I headed home.

Now, two days later, my finger is buddy wrapped, but still black and blue. We will most likely get an x-ray on Wednesday unless it gets better in the next day.

I did it to myself. *sigh*

Simple Equestrian Dorm Room

Simple Equestrian Dorm Room

Today is my first day of classes in my sophomore year of college. I’m lucky enough to be in a single room, so I was able to use all of the space how I wanted. Of course, that means that I needed some equestrian pieces. See how I made my room horsey – but not too horsey – below!

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1 – Calendar
A calendar is an important piece for any room, whether you’re an equestrian or not. I got this cute stick-on dry erase calendar from Michaels. While you might look at this at first and just see a regular calendar, it really hosts all of the shows I’m interested in or want to keep track of, even if I’m not going. Be sure to create your own system of short cuts, like “HT” instead of Horse Trials.

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2 – Belts
Inside my closet, I’ve brought five belts: one black (from Target), one brown (Equine Couture), and three C4 belts. C4 belts are my favorite to ride in, and they’re also a fun way to add color to any outfit. Use my code: C4KA6QQ for 10% off.

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3 – Ribbons
I brought with me all of the ribbons Beau and I have won so far. It’s still a pretty small amount (we’ve only gone to 2 shows), so it’s manageable. It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we can go.

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4 – On My Desk
Here on my desk, I have a wooden puzzle of a jumper that I hot glued together, a picture frame of Beau and I, and my favorite mug that says, “Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn, then always be a unicorn.” Yes, the unicorn fad is fading, but I still love it.

Final Overview:

Not horse-crazy, but a few simple touches to make me smile! Here’s a video overview: