Monday, February 22, 2021

how to butcher your horse's mane in 5 easy steps!

I once read on a blog (maybe Jen at Cob Jockey?) that the "difference between a good clip and a bad clip was about two weeks."

For whatever reason, that oh-too-true quip really stuck with me. And, I've adopted / adapted it into my own approach to mane care: The difference between a good clip cut and a bad one is about two weeks one month.

you too can achieve this polished refined hairstyle on your own horse --- follow me for tips!
Because, you see. I cut Charlie's mane with scissors. Roughly twice a year, I Go To Town on this poor sweet gelding's mane -- in exactly the way any professional groom will explicitly say not to do

And. Ya know. It works for us haha. So here's how I do it. 

for best results, make sure your horse is basically feral
1) Obviously you start by collecting your materials, including the horse. Timing is clearly important when you set out to absolutely destroy your horse's mane, so it's best to do it a couple months out from whenever you might actually wish to be presentable! 

Thus, it's recommended for mid-winter. Bonus if it's too cold for your fingers to operate properly.

and also filthy <3
Definitely don't clean the horse either. Like, ok, brush the mud out of the mane if you must.... but seriously, no amount of prep work is gonna make this method any smoother so just... have at it! 

try not to die leading said feral beastie around on the ice!
Other materials include..... a mane comb and some scissors. Ideally the scissors should be very sharp and not too too large. Tho, if a barn rat lost your good scissors off the back of a kubota a couple months ago, that rusty pair of pruning shears is probably fine too. 

always a good idea to have the barn manager on hand shoulder
A metal pulling comb is my preferred tool for this method. But, again, if that comb requires literally any effort whatsoever to dig out of your grooming tote, the Tail Tamer paddle brush that's right on top is 100% fine instead. 

much better angle to view all the gnarly cowlicks in your horse's mane
2. Prepare your workspace. Or... Don't? Like, sure, tying your horse in a way to prevent him from moving up and down and all around might help. Or like, having a step stool or ladder or even literally an overturned bucket might conceivably be helpful when you're trying to trim the mane on an actual literal brontosaurus. 

definitely don't bother to tie your horse.... it'll be fiiiiiiine
But, eh. Loose in a stall noshing off various haynets or even hay on the floor is fine too. Probably. Lol....

repeat after me: this is basically even
3. Decide on a length, and stick with it. In this instance, the paddle brush was actually pretty nice bc I just cut to the width of the paddle. Brush and snip, brush and snip, forever and ever and ever down the full friggin five feet of your horse's neck. 

For real tho, my goal with this method is short. Like, mohawk short. And I start from the ears and work my way down. Theoretically this means I get the fussiest section done before my horse loses patience.

yep, just cut straight across. blunt cuts are best cuts!
4. Cut straight across - not vertically or up-and-down. For real, I mean this. A lot of folks like to cut up and down as a way to soften the edges and make it a little less obvious that we used scissors instead of pulling.... But, F that. For real. 

At some point probably in around 3+ months, I'll want to be able to braid this mane. And when I braid, I *do not* want lots of varying length hairs poking out of the bottom half of each braid. I want the whole mane the same length, more or less. So. We blunt cut this bitch, and we like it. 

then flip the whole thing over onto the other side and repeat! or, don't!
5. Flip the mane over to the other side, and repeat the process. Sorta-ish. Having not pulled the mane at all during this iteration, or literally ever at all in like the ~4+ years I've owned this horse, we've got a pretttty thick mane on our hands here haha. 

If you only snip from one side of the mane, you end up with hairs that will be wildly different lengths depending on which side of the neck they originate. Flipping the whole thing over and trimming to the same length helps to address that. But like, eh, don't kill yourself doing it. Maybe dedicate like 1/5th the time you spent on the other side. It'll be fiiine

admire your craft <3
You'll also note --- Charlie's mane falls on the "wrong" side. And, ya know, I braid on the "wrong" side too. Bc dear lord, does literally anybody actually give a fuck??? Real questions, here, folks, LOL!

And ya know, that's basically it haha! The mane does, indeed, look janky AF. And 100% looks like it was done bluntly with scissors in about 20min. Which, ahem, it clearly was. 

lol, yes, everybody can tell you used scissors
It's always a good idea to brush it forward and backward and straight down (again the metal pulling comb is best, but also again --- sometimes we too lazy for that) just to catch any hairs that got out of alignment. 

but ya know. the fluffy mohawk look is prettty cool
And obvi you can always go back and clean it up after your first major pass down the neck. Or not. You do you, ya know?

definitely make sure you choose the absolute busiest time to ride so ALL your friends can see your handiwork!
I usually end up doing this twice a year --- once in mid winter, and then again maybe in July when it's crazy gross out. Basically, I try to time the butchery to coincide with months when we're not really out and about. 

Charlie has pretty epic hair that grows fast, tho, so you might need different lead times to ensure your monstrosity has time to grow out a little bit lol. 

watch out, Mikey cat --- you're next!
Or ya know. Perhaps you're one of those who actually takes a bit of pride in your mane grooming skillz. In which case, more power to ya -- really, I mean that! 

I just never really learned how to pull a mane in a way that got it to my desired length without taking me literally hours on end. And, I swear, I've tried. So instead, I've been doing this blunt-cut method for a couple years now and, ya know, it works for us haha. 

Curious what everybody else does. Do you pull? Use scissors? Some combination thereof? Do you cut vertically or horizontally? Or maybe you use thinning shears?? I've had bad luck with those bc of the bristly-braid situation, but maybe there's a better way? I'm all ears! 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

still trying to learn from the past

A few weeks ago I wrote about returning to weekly jump lessons at OF with Trainer P, after spending the past year in more of a private individualized program with upper level rider K.  

It's honestly a fairly complicated subject for mainly uninteresting personal reasons, but... The gist is: I want / need more mentorship and individualized attention to take the next step in my riding ability.

2015 lesson with isabel coached by dan. i miss the mental and physical intensity of these rides lol
I often think of the halcyon days of 2014-15 as the absolute epitome of my riding education, when I took two jumping lessons a week. One with current trainer P at OF, and a second with 5* eventer Dan C. These two distinct coaches combined into what felt like perfect complements in the whole of my learning process. 

This 2015 post summarizes exactly why it felt that way -- and honestly that reasoning still holds today. Tho... by the time Charlie entered the picture and was ready for that degree of training, Dan had relocated farther north and weekly lessons were no longer logistically feasible. And actually, they've since moved the business down to VA. 
another 2015 lesson
We've managed the occasional "clinic" style lesson with Dan over the years... But it's really not the same. And I've been wracking my brain to try to fill that gap ever since. It seemed for a while that maybe trainer K was the solution. But, alas. No. 

I've also continued doing clinics and occasional lessons with other upper level riders, including Sally Cousins, Martin Douzant, Phillip Dutton, etc.... But again, that's always going to be a very different dynamic from a trainer you see weekly, ya know? 

One of my 2020 "themes" was prioritizing mentorship, and... Well. It remains an unresolved issue. Sigh. I'm still grappling with how to recreate that old magic, haha....

last lesson with Dan in Jan 2019, an XC clinic at Loch Moy
In the meantime, tho, I've been trying to learn "remotely" lol. There's so much great content online by all these amazing professional riders -- Piggy March's youtube channel is a new favorite. Obvi you've seen me post about Doug Payne and Martin Douzant's channels before, too. And Boyd Martin's been posting a TON of his own riding lessons lately as well. Which.... lol, listening to Peter Wylde give Boyd the same instructions I myself hear in lessons is.... idk, humanizing?? 

Dan, too, often posts training updates on his 4* horse Frank for the ownership group. And man.... Listening to the way Dan describes Frank reeeeeally makes me wish I could get Charlie in front of him for lessons too lol. They are obviously very different horses but.... There are also some key similarities, summed up fairly nicely in the particular video below. 

Specifically, one key theme really hit home: That tricky balance between riding a horse forward, and riding a horse in an uphill balance

Dan and Frank in the intermediate at Morven in spring 2019
Who remembers my last lesson with Sally before the covid shutdown? When, after what was a reasonably pleasant and productive session, she kinda bluntly and abruptly warned that I'm "not going to be able to do what I want to do" with this horse if I don't get him more uphill. 

And, who also remembers (not that you could forget bc I say it all the fricken time) me talking about "kinda giving up on dressage"?

These are related issues. And Dan describes it in this video in a way that maybe helps me understand not only how this dynamic is playing out for Charlie, but how to do better in our training. 

Basically, Dan notes that for some horses, like Frank (and also Charlie), if you focus too much on getting him uphill, he gets behind the leg. Simultaneously, focusing too much on forward puts the horse on his forehand. 

It becomes this 'back and forth' dynamic between trying to get the horse's shoulder up higher, and riding the horse more forward. How much time are you going to spend getting the horse back on his hocks? Versus how much time will you spend getting him to go forward? 

Going forward tends to push the horse onto his forehand, but Frank is not a super forward horse so you have to work on it. Charlie, you will all recall, while occasionally an absolute madman at competitions -- is likewise not particularly forward in lessons or on the flat. 

So. We also spend a lot of time working on going forward. Which, similar to Frank, can result in more of a horizontal (vs uphill) balance, with Charlie's shoulder dropped. But then when I try to put Charlie back on his hocks, it's really really easy to get into a backward, behind the leg canter. Which... is also not at all productive for jumping. 

and then there was Charlie!! Dan's only coached this horse over fences twice, first this lesson pictured here in fall 2018 (and video below), and the xc clinic in winter 2018-19
In the video, Dan talks about how he has to spend time in both places for Frank -- and that he also sets up his exercises to address the same issues. Like lots of bending "S" turns that naturally help a horse pick his shoulders up. Or, long straight lines to angled fences or skinnies that require more lateral accuracy on a committed line (vs wandering side to side when the horse adjusts his longitudinal balance). 

I hadn't really thought of turning vs straight line exercises through this same exact lens.... but seems relatively easy enough to try out on my own with cavaletti and ground poles. 

He also talks about the value of conditioning the not-so-forward horse in company vs alone. This is.... less applicable for Charlie bc we don't really need extensive speed work in our conditioning for the low levels haha, let's be real. Plus, Charlie *does* get plenty forward in his gallops lol. 

But still, it's interesting food for thought to use riding in pairs to get the horse more in gear -- possibly as a way to counteract the endless plodding arena trot loops? Idk. 

13sec video coulda been a gif - but then you wouldn't hear charlie's turbo blasters lol 

So..... Watching a video of my former coach describe how he addresses with his horse something I perceive to be a major issue with my own horse is baaaasically the same thing as a lesson, right?? Lol..

At this point, I'll take what I can get haha. At least it gives me some ideas for exercises to set up. Most of my lessons with Dan were privates, which had the sad effect of very limited media. Tho it meant I spent more time diagramming what we worked on (all captured under the tags "danc" and "course diagrams"). 
grid is much harder than it appears
So I actually have both media AND a diagram from the one lesson where we specifically worked on (and kinda failed at) a short "S" bend exercise. Methinks Charlie might like to try something like this out haha. 

It's also super helpful to hear straight from a pro that these two major issues ("uphill balance" and "forward horse in front of the leg") CAN actually be conflicting functions for some horses. So rather than trying to always address both at the same time, it might be more effective to focus on each individual component separately. Kinda the Keep-It-Simple-Stupid method lol.

It's always motivating to get new ideas on how to keep chippin away at this stuff.... But what I'd really love is to find some sort of new regular coaching routine that gets me back to that educational balance I felt back in 2015. We'll see what happens, I guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

just wintery things ;)

Maryland was originally forecast to feel the polar vortex effects this past weekend, but somehow escaped the bitterly cold temperatures. Not so lucky on the precipitation front, however. 

the trees stayed beautifully frosted with snow like this for almost two days!
We've had a couple snow storms, plus a few scattered days here and there of freezing rain and sleet. Which, obvi, is kinda gross haha. Tho frankly with temperatures staying at or above freezing by and large, I'm not gonna complain too bad!

the juxtaposition with baltimore's big old gorgeous turn of the century high rises was really stunning
The weather did mean, however, that the little schooling dressage show I signed up for this past weekend was postponed. I know, I know, I can barely go a day without droning on about 'giving up on dressage', so why would I sign up for a show??

Eh... Mostly bc it's at home, it's $15, and it's something to do (and supportive of the barn), so why not? We just signed up to do a Novice test so it's basically identical to a typical ride anyway. Might as well get scored for it, right? Bc why just trot around minding your own business when you could trot around and have a judge note that you kinda suck at it???? 

LOL.... Kidding, sorta ;) We'll see how it goes if / when the show actually happens!

lol obvi there's a less glamorous aspect too --- like low tire pressures...
this EP Auto portable air compressor continues to be basically the best thing ever
In the meantime, the nasty weather motivated me to get in front of any potential truck issues. I'm supposed to take two friends and their horses to a dressage clinic next weekend and don't really want any surprises when I turn the key in the ignition. (Bc, dear lord, once is enough!)** So a little proactive TLC felt appropriate haha.

(**And if you've never read that brief-but-brutal saga from a mid-winter truck trip gone wrong, you should 100% click that link LOL)

horses pretty zen about the conditions
Obvi filling up all the tires was a no-brainer (esp that one tire that probably needs to be repaired or replaced...). Tho.... I gotta admit the truck didn't exactly *roar* to life when I turned the key. It was more of a sputtering guttural grunt. So... Yea that battery was probably well on its way to completely losing its charge, whoops. 

just look at all those sweet fuzzy ears! <3
So I ran the compressor off my Mazda's battery while the truck idled and I chatted with friends for like.... 30min lol. Then took the whole rig for a little joyride around the neighborhood for another 30min. Hopefully that'll be enough to keep the battery charged up through the week....

obvi we need obligatory photo spam of snowy trail rides!
Bc let's be real, everything else around here is kinda just in a holding pattern. We were lucky enough to get out for a short trail ride during some balmy daylight hours this week (in between freezing rain showers...).

the bright background makes bird spotting even easier
Bc other than that, it's been all indoors, all the time. That is --- if I even bother to ride. 

Really, my most important function lately has been trying to stay on top of Charlie's outfit changes. The poor horse has a very mismatched assortment of layers and liners that all get mixed together esp during very wet conditions. 

also fun to muse about all the various critter tracks left in the snow
Like his neck hood, for instance. He only really wears the hood when it's going to be icy wet -- but the hood only connects to one of his hand-me-down sheets, not his medium blanket. 

So then it becomes this ridiculous song and dance between liners, the sheet that connects to the hood, and then a final waterproof layer on top of that since literally only one single sheet in Charlie's wardrobe is properly waterproof. 

just so freakin pretty <3
Plus, considering the sheer distance between my home and the barn, in acute period of actual icy weather events --- I don't even make it to the barn. So it's actually happened twice already this year that Charlie ends up wearing the same outfit for three days straight before I can get out there. Bc - again - blanket services are simply not offered at this boarding facility. 

Other boarders and I will often help each other out with staying on top of blanket changes etc, but when it's really gross out we're kinda all stuck in the same boat. 

was best to stick to the graveled areas rather than the slippery icy mud tho
I swear, I get myself so twisted out of shape obsessing over what Charlie should wear, and how long he's going to be wearing it. Painstakingly checking every single weather app, counting the hours at the relative daily lows and highs, calculating how much precipitation is likely to happen when he's inside or out....

God forbid poor ponykins suffers for literally one nanosecond because he's too cold. And may the devil take your soul if you dare miss an opportunity to let him out in lighter attire when conditions are nicer! 

crossing the bridge back home again
Meanwhile, lol, as far I ask can tell based on what this horse looks like when I see him (or, ya know, what he actually does right in front of my friggin eyes when I turn him out after all this mental anguish), the horse actually literally seeks out nice big sloppy wet mud and snow puddles for his rolls. 

Ugh, gross Charlie. You're a pig! 

my poor sweet beautiful boy in his janky mismatched multi-layered freezing rain outfit
So ya know. Maybe all his layers don't really matter as much as I think they do. So long as he's happy and comfortable, I guess! Considering most of his stuff is a few years old at this point, I might be looking into replacing the entire wardrobe next year anyway. We'll see.... 

I'd especially like something that's a little more universally adaptable while also sturdy enough to not need replaced every year or two. Not sure if that's realistic tho haha, but we'll see. 

"i'm calling peta, this outfit is horse abuze" - charlie, probably
In the meantime, I've continued to use the Coat Defense powder liberally in grooming sessions -- especially during the periods where he's wearing the same blanket for a few days straight. 

My hope is it'll prevent any funky mustiness from happening.... And so far so good. 

sweet fluffy Mikey still obviously the best barn cat ever <3
Because there's still plenty more precipitation coming this week too, bleh. Don't get me wrong --- I'm super grateful that we have the indoor space for riding right now. And also kinda secretly grateful that the blanket changes are a useful cattle prod to get me out to the barn on otherwise-gloomy days. 

Plus, let's be real, it's nice to have dinky little adventures on the calendar like an at-home schooling dressage show too. Bc.... otherwise lol the motivation to do much in these conditions is pretty low lol. 

But, eh, that's what February is for! I'm officially deeming this "re-charge" month (specifically, uh, for the truck --- but also for me too!) before looking into March when we might reasonably get excited for spring. And until then, I may or may not be browsing various outlets to see what sort of fancy new blanketing systems have been developed in the last couple years haha. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

doing more with.... more

Absolutely nobody needs me to explain why winter is a challenging season for the typical adult amateur rider. Days are short, nights are dark, and good ground can be hard to find. 

indoor footing update in progress! sand reduced so fiber can be added!
Not to mention, conditions can be gross --- wet, cold, windy, or sometimes all three. And obviously the horses deal with it too. 
ahh round bale season... aka stationary gorging
Charlie's herd was uncommonly lucky to have access to grass that was completely untouched for a year, and therefore lasted well into winter. But... All good things end eventually. The grass died back in early January, so now they're on round bales.

it's cool chuck --- now we basically lead identical lifestyles!
Which means that all the horses stand in a tidy little circle (excepting those moments when they savagely harass each other, ugh) unmoving for hours, just noshing away. 

charlie's transfixed by the ponies <3
Obvi, horses are designed to move constantly, so this is less than ideal. Charlie in particular has fairly high-mileage legs that don't need much encouragement to get a little fluffy puffy in places. 

Which... Well, I don't exactly panic any more bc #FatLegSyndrome is, always has been, and always will be part of life with Charlie. But I also don't really like it. 

srsly tho, how friggin adorable????
The best and most effective solution is movement, tho. At exactly the moment when the circumstances and environment make activity the least attractive -- and space at the ultimate premium? That activity becomes most important. Ain't that always the way! 

indoor footing complete! also, i just love this handsome horse <3
Luckily tho, they finally fixed our indoor arena's footing. Sometime just over a year ago they replaced the sand with something more high quality (which was nice!), but made it wayyyyyy too deep. Like running on the beach, boo. And basically everybody shunned it at all costs. 

Finally, tho, they pulled out nearly half that sand and added in a few bales of fibrous material that creates more stability for the sand. Everything is kinda held in place better so that horses (and people!) feel like they're stepping securely, even as it's supportive and shock-absorbing. 

aaaaaaand.... more snow, womp. anyone who deals with an unpaved driveway knows this pain 
The timing couldn't be better, too, bc.... Well. It looks like we're going to actually continue having winter around here. Boo, lol. We had a big snowstorm a few weeks ago but maybe hoped that would be it. Alas.... Nope, more snow. And actually, as of this writing, more more snow lol.

my most majestic creature, in his most majestic landscape <3
So ya know.... For all that impressive space we have to wander and roam and gad about, options kinda dwindle to just about nothing when the ground is icy slick. Sigh. Oh, and did I mention, our indoor arena is 20x40m? The size of a small dressage ring?

some nights we get lucky with low traffic
It's been fine, tho. All our horses are well conditioned to sharing space, crossing paths, having horses approach them from the front and from behind, and occasionally pass in close quarters. Obviously everybody does their absolute best to be communicative, polite, safe, considerate, etc etc etc... But ya know. It is what it is, right?

oooh we've had weekend lessons in there too! 
We've even had lessons indoors lately, too.... Luckily just four of us, so not too high in the traffic department. And I totally meant to try a helmet camera video in the indoor, except I also totally forgot... Next time? 

So... Eh, without interesting footage or context, figure-8-ing around the indoor over tiny jumps doesn't seem like much to write about. 

small jumps are complicated jumps when you're in a 20x40m space
It was good tho. More of that same feeling I wrote about in my last post --- needing to find the balance between riding a very precise track through my corners and turns, etc, while also not sacrificing the quality of my canter. 

There were 4 jumps across the E-B line -- two on the rail, and two on the diagonals -- And we just cruised a figure 8-ish pattern around. Trainer P wanted us doing very purposeful, planned circles in each end of the arena as we went, to ensure good turns, corners, and approaches. Iit was interesting bc I'd ride what felt like a nice canter circle, but then.. kinda "Splat!" at the fence lol.

some weeknights..... not so lucky about traffic. congratulations, you all have covid now! j/k, obvi (masks are worn!), but.... also, yea this aint good haha. tho these horses are all CLEARLY saints
Again, bc, my idea of a "pleasant" canter circle with Charlie does not necessarily equal the kind of canter he actually needs. Which, hint, is an engaged canter with more impulsion and activity. 

It was a good lesson, tho. Honestly. I didn't hold too much against Charlie for the Splat! moments (esp when it was landing into a short sharp left hand turn when we all know Charlie lands right and can only auto-change when he's fully engaged... But I was proud of myself for holding us both reasonably accountable.

nighttime strollin
Plus, ya know, it's nice just to hop over things anyway. Keepin sorta pretend sharp, keepin most of the rust off --- but otherwise not taking anything too seriously. That's what February is for, amirite? 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

clinic pictures

Y'all know I'm an absolute junkie for all things riding media haha -- and so I was just about giddy after tracking down photos from the gymnastics clinic we rode in a couple weeks ago. 

all photos here credited to Gabby at Bay Life Events ---- find her on facebook!!
I wasn't sure what to expect bc honestly while this indoor is straight up gorgeous, it's shockingly difficult to photograph in bc of the interior vs natural lighting situation. The photographer Gabby nailed it tho, and the pics turned out pretty great!! <3

Tho, uh, lol no amount of photographic artistry can truly change the subject matter. In case y'all thought I exaggerated about "kinda giving up on dressage"..... Well, uh, behold! Lol...

This is my giant long-legged brontosaurus cantering around on a dime LOL. 

For real, tho, I'm not going to go into all the detail of the clinic again, since it's all written out in that previous post. But Charlie was a very very good boy --- even tho the epically long lines of bounces kinda took him a bit by surprise!

You can see in this above shot how they all started as half-crossrails and progressed from there.

Apparently Gabby is working on building her Bay Life Events photography services so she spent a lot of time experimenting with different shots and filters etc. Looking forward to hopefully seeing more of her out and about at local shows and clinics!

Bc obviously I never get tired of seeing pics of the big guy <3 Who, again, was really super good. Indoors are kinda hard bc they naturally back a horse into a smaller stride. Plus we had all sorts of stuff on the ground (like those cones) to force us into using our corners etc. 

lol our matching faces
Which, for me and Charlie, we sorta need to find that holy grail of being able to stay on a very precise track --- without sacrificing the quality of our canter. 

In a way, having little jumps around every turn is great for that bc the jumps keep us honest about our canter. We can circle around all day long looking reasonably ok-ish, but then get to the jump and it's like, "oof, splat" lol. What I need -- esp for dressage -- is to keep cantering like there's always going to be a jump around the turn, even when there isn't.

Anyway, tho, Charlie really was aces --- esp at the other grid, a combination of bounces and one-stride distances. 

I really like this gif too, bc it really demonstrates why grids are so valuable in horse training. Charlie and Punky have very different ways of going -- Punky is extravagant where Charlie is constrained. But, the well-constructed grid sorta naturally guides horses into the same spots and positions to help them achieve an optimal form and technique. 

Tho, as has been the case lately, Punky 100% won the day's blue ribbon LOL. He was LOVING these big long lines of jumps!

Charlie, on the other hand, while he did very well -- he often needs a little more help to be tidy up front (like with V-poles, for instance) when he doesn't otherwise have his blood up. 

And let's be real.... aside from horse shows, Charlie rarely has his blood up lol. Just compare his jumping form in all the pictures from this post to.... his more subdued form in a recent lesson recap LOL. 

 this shot from earlier in the ride is my favorite tho -- i just love charlie's face and the light <3
And y'all wonder why I sometimes struggle to ride the horse who shows up at competitions despite all the lessons we take haha.....

Anyway, tho, super grateful to have all these shots and get to see Charlie's sweet concentration face lol. I'm honestly pretty happy with how this 12yo OTTB is looking right now in terms of his condition, weight, muscling etc. The hope is to just keep a solid base on him through the winter and then go from there. So far, so good! 


(*Also, brief unrelated side note: If you have contributed or plan to contribute to the fundraising effort to allow the Kentucky 5* (the pinnacle of elite competition that typically fields 35-50 entries annually, total) to run in 2021, please also consider either matching or diverting your gift to your local or area eventing association instead. Obviously your philanthropic interests are your own business and I support that -- but it just feels a little disingenuous of the eventing community to try to rally so hard around this single event (esp when it's absolutely expected the Fair Hill Maryland 5* will run this fall) that impacts exclusively the most privileged within the sport (and don't tell me people need Kentucky bc it 'makes little girls dream' --- running a 5* is a dream for most people the way winning the lottery is. Also, see previous note about there being another 5* later in the year already), after we spent an entire summer (not even mentioning the fall Plantation controversy) reckoning with the realities of a sport that already skews so heavily toward the privileged within society. Donating $100K, $400K, or $750K to Kentucky does absolutely nothing for improving accessibility to this sport, and those dollars could go so much farther within individual eventing communities. And I say this as an absolute LOVER of major competitions ---- idk about you guys, but I go to more big international shows a year than literally anybody else I know. They're great events and they're important for the sport --- but idk, in a time when we've all sacrificed so much and given so much, this really truly feels like a misplaced use of good will and cold hard cash. That's just my $0.02 tho (and tbh maybe I'm missing the point here -- lmk if you disagree)!!! /rant