Monday, February 29, 2016

Lose 20 pounds overnight with this one simple trick!

Brego got body clipped yesterday. Poor guy was overdue, and with temps in the low 80s he was just standing around sweating.

Significantly more svelte... at least, for a Brego. However, I don't think his mouse-brown winter coat is nearly as attractive as his glossy black summer coat. And most of his dapples have disappeared with the clip. :(

I did a full body clip for the first time ever (usually we do a hunt clip). I had no idea that he actually had LEGS under all that hair!

Paddy stood by the gate the entire time and commiserated.

The hair was so deep in places it was up over his feet.

So, if your Brego needs to lose 20 pounds ASAP, clip him. And uh, anybody got any suggestions on what to do with 20 pounds of Brego hair?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Haffie Snax from The Haffie Homeland

One of the things I brought back from my Austrian tack shopping spree was some treats for Paddy.

Green apple flavor.

Paddy's not particularly picky about food objects, so I figured he'd love them.




Pffffbbbt. Yuck. Ptooey.

We tried again. 

Left nostril schniff.

Right nostril schniff.

How about I eat the phone instead?

So apparently my horse, whose daddy was imported from Austria, is completely Americanized and doesn't like Austrian horse cookies. Boo.

We tried to see if The Brego would eat them instead.

Schniffing not necessary.


You got any more of those?

While I was taking pictures of hubby and Brego, SOMEBODY wanted some attention too...

Haffie selfie.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What a European dressage show is like

I mentioned in my post yesterday that after buying far too much at two amazing tack shops, Tanja took us to a show to watch the PSG rides. But this particular venue was quite special - not only was it just outside of Vienna, but there's a huge Rider's Lounge where you can order REAL food (nothing like American horse show food, yuck) while watching everyone ride.

But first, a tour of the grounds:

One of the permanent barns

Outdoor dressage arena

Inside one of the temporary barns

And you think the rigs with LQs are nice in the US... !!!!

So much matching (no, I didn't buy it, sheesh!) 

Indoor show arena


After a tour of the grounds, we headed in to the Rider's Lounge for lunch and found a spot to watch the warmup.

I need this at EVERY show. Schnitzel for lunch with a view of the ponies. WHY can't American horse shows be like this?!?!? WE ARE MISSING OUT, GUYS!!!

Warmup was... interesting. I don't often have a chance to watch upper-level horses go at the shows I attend, but I was surprised be a few things here. First, tophats! Most venues in the US require a helmet when mounted. Here, they don't care, and most riders were wearing the classic tophats. Second, not as much bling. Seriously, I see more bling on the AAs at First Level than I did here. I guess they spend all their money on the horses?

And of course, the frame that the horses were working in caught my attention.

This is a PSG horse warming up

Two more PSG horses in warmup

I'm not singling out these horses - I have no idea who they are, or who their riders are, and I've tried to remove identifying information. I just found it very, very interesting that while I've never seen horses warmed up this long/deep/round/rollkur/whatever you want to call it while the US, it's common here. They do ride the horses "up" for tests, however.

And speaking of the tests, watching these folks ride gave me some confidence. I have this image in my head of all upper-level riders being like Charlotte on Valegro, but the PSG riders have some of the same problems that I do, albeit on a grander scale. Most of them completely biffed the 10 meter circles. Halts were not square. Half passes were sometimes more like diagonal lines. One poor rider had a desperate time getting her horse back from extended canter. One horse had a pacey walk, and others were tense and jiggy and screamed for their buddies. My circles may be 20 meters and maybe I'm doing leg yield instead of half pass, but everybody seems to have issues, even when you're at PSG on a fancy warmblood. 

Watching rides while eating an Apfelstrudel for dessert is a whole new level of epic.

Awards ceremony

All in all, a most excellent day. Thank you again, Tanja! I can't wait until my next visit (although my bank account needs some time to recover from the tack shopping).

Enter at A! (Photo courtesy of DressageHafl)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Austrian tack stores: SO DANGEROUS (even to a confirmed non-tack ho)

This week, I'm in the Czech Republic for work, but I managed to sneak down to Vienna for the day on Saturday to meet up with Tanja, who has the Dressage Hafl blog. We've met twice before, and it was so great to see her again!

She had a full day for us planned: First, shopping at two very large tack stores just outside of Vienna, and then attending an FEI show in the afternoon. I've been to a few European tack stores before, and they're fun because the brands are so different from what we have in the US. However, I usually manage to walk out with my credit card relatively unscathed since I already have so much stuff and rarely feel the need to buy more.

Uhm, yeah. So that didn't work out for me this weekend. I walked into the first store and the first thing I saw was this:


And you know how much those pads are? ~$150 US, as compared to about $270 for a Euro-cut Mattes dressage pad. Luckily for me, they didn't have any color combos I really wanted in the right size, or I would have come home with them.

This one was super tempting, but it was an AP. 

Did you know that Mattes makes a "baroque" style pad? This would have looked fantastic on the Brego for jousting, but not for $350.

There were lots of other pads to choose from. This is about half of them. I managed to restrain myself.

And browbands. So many browbands.

I didn't get any pictures, but the entire second floor of the first store was clothing, and it was all matchy-matchy stuff. Breeches, polo shirts (short and long sleeved), vests, jackets... everything you could want to match the saddle pads downstairs. Even a color-challenged person like me could look super coordinated without much effort. I tried a few things on but didn't really find anything I loved, so you won't be seeing me in anything super matchy anytime soon. Sorry.

I managed to leave the first store with a few really nice brushes and a saddle pad for Taran, thinking I was doing pretty well. And then we got to the second store and my credit card basically leapt out of my wallet and went on a shopping spree.

I had tentatively been looking at some brown tall boots, because they're gorgeous. But then I saw they had real DRESS boots (the stiff kind, not like my floppy Ariat Volants that are really designed for hunter derby riders) and I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying them on.

This is actually my size in Euro sizing. Confusing as hell, since I'm a US 7.5 or EU 39. 

But, I hadn't really planned on a new pair of dress boots, so I went to look at breeches instead. I probably tried on 30 different pairs, because they actually had that many different brands/styles in my size.  Well, OK, they had more than that, those were just the ones I liked.

And this was the row of Pikeurs... in my size. This is maybe 1/10th of all the breeches in the store.

After trying on so many, I've discovered that I'm a Euro size 80, which is more or less a 28 long. Getting the "long" size meant that I didn't have the problem with tight knees that I usually do, so that was pretty amazing. I also discovered that I really prefer the tech fabrics, especially the Scholler. It just molds better and has a better feel than anything else. Besides, the Pikeurs I liked were exactly 1/2 as much as I'd pay for them in the US - thank you, strong dollar. I restrained myself to only one pair, despite the little voice in my head suggesting that I get two because they're half off, right?

And then I went back to the boots and tried them on some more. Checked prices ($300 less than in the US). Walked around more. Considered. Looked in the mirror. Asked Tanja's opinion. And somehow I found myself at the checkout with a new pair of dress boots.

So tall. So pretty. So uncomfortable.

I know it looks bad, but it's not ALL mine. 

Only this part. Good thing I brought a large suitcase that was half empty.

There were a few more items, but those are gifts and I'll have to wait to post about them. In the meantime, anybody got any suggestions for breaking in really really stiff boots?

Friday, February 19, 2016

I like small horses and I cannot lie

Years ago, when I was eventing competitively, I remember galloping up to a Prelim fence and thinking "Holy sh!t, that's big!" before Cash launched us both cleanly over it. At 15.2, Cash was one of the smaller horses at most of the events we attended, and I envied riders on their big 17 hh horses. After all, a bigger horse would make the fences look smaller, right?

Then I got Saga, who was 16.2, and I discovered that with size sometimes comes a loss of maneuverability. Riding Cash was like driving a highly responsive sports car, whereas riding Saga was more like driving my F-350. Apparently, I'm more of a sports car girl.

So when I saw in Paddy's ad that he was only 15.1, I was ok with that. I mean, sure, I'm 5'8, but he's wide and takes up my leg. He's also super maneuverable, I can get on him without an extension ladder, and I never have to duck for those low-hanging tree branches.

He's also adorable, but I'm sure that had nothing to do with the "love at first sight" thing.

But then I started riding Taran, and SOME PEOPLE (ahemmeganahem) kept referring to him as a "cute little pony". Literally, a pony. I pointed out that he's actually taller than Paddy, but nope, SOME PEOPLE kept saying that he was probably 14.0 hh and adorable. Because I'm a mathematical fact-driven kind of girl, I did what any rational person would do - I sticked him.

15.1 and a smidge. TECHNICALLY NOT A PONY. 

For funsies, I also sticked his butt, since we're constantly making fun of him for being downhill. He's maaaaybe a smidge downhill, but certainly not the inch we suspected. No more excuses there!

And just in case anyone claims that I might have somehow rigged this, here's proof that I didn't.

Oh, and you know who's not anywhere close to being 15.1? A certain Haffie.

Uhm. Almost actually a pony?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Big Texas Hair

Many years ago, when I first lived in Texas, I saw this cover of Texas Monthly magazine. I was more than slightly horrified.

Yes really. HER HAIR is styled like a hat.

The really funny thing is, the owner of the barn I was riding at during that time was one of the women featured in the article. She had impressively big bleach-blonde Texas hair, and she'd bought a Palomino quarter horse mare specifically to match her hair. It was fascinating, in that you-can't-look-away sense.

Anyway. Things have come a long way in the past 25 years, and most of us are a little more sensible about our hair these days. However, Paddy seems to want this big hair style to make a comeback.

So big. So fluffy. So Texas.

A little hairspray, a little teasing... we could go places with this...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Feb 13 Schooling show with Taran

Well, the first show with Taran is in the books. He's a great competitor - doesn't look at other horses, doesn't care that he doesn't have friends there, and he stays pretty focused. Unfortunately, I got tense and had my reins too long, so our tests lacked the connection, bend, and precision that we've had at home for the last few weeks. It was a decidedly "meh" set of performances.

Taran takes a pre-ride snooze

Sporting yet another classy set of pants. I think they go GREAT with the jacket, don't you?

Bonus of showing your friend's horse: Friend takes care of all grooming and tacking. I could get used to this!

Taran's attempt at Haffie Hair. Not bad. (Pls ignore my right hand - I'm sure it wasn't under my direct control when this picture was taken.)

Major takeaways:

  • Could my reins be any longer?
  • Relax and stop trying so hard.
  • Slow. The. Eff. Down.
Not the connection I was looking for.


Not awesome.

Lots of right leg = straight horse. 

It would have been nice if this had been the free walk during the test. Alas, it was not.

Could my reins BE any longer?

Here are the actual tests, if you're bored:

Training 2

Training 3

Score-wise, I was riding HC (my trainer was the judge) so I didn't get my scores added up. We were about 65% on both tests, which is generous. I was really hoping for a better ride, but that's all on me - Taran certainly didn't do anything wrong, and there were no major mistakes. I just need to put what we've been doing in lessons into the sandbox.

Our next show is a USDF rated show March 5-6. Between now and then, Taran is at my trainer's for a week while I'm traveling for work, but when I get back I'm really going to focus on better connection, better free walk, better stretchy trot, and better canter transitions. Hopefully we can be a little more connected at the next show - I feel like we're capable, I just need to make it happen. Fortunately, my trainer will be at the show, so hopefully she can apply her magic trainer dust and I'll be able to make a better show of it.

Oh, and for the record, I REMEMBERED MY TESTS!!!! :D

(All pics and video courtesy of MC. Thanks!)