An Amateurs Attempt at Body Clipping

Somewhere between spending an extra hour after my weeknight lessons for Leo’s sweat to dry and being implored by my husband to cut back on the horse accouterments, I decided to do the exact opposite and get a set of clippers. A Christmas gift to myself. After a single [horse] body clip and one [dog] puppy clip, the clippers would more than pay for themselves and hubby gave his okay.

I was warned that this was an activity that would probably take me 4 - 5 hours. I did my best to respect that warning, but I’m also naturally unrealistically optimistic. I showed up around 11 and expected to be done in time for a nice hack before the barn Christmas party. Surprise, surprise, that didn’t happen.

A Collection of Thoughts as I worked through the body clip:

  • [starting] Wow, I’m so well prepared. I got ALL the accessories, watched all the youtube videos, this’ll be so easy!

  • [doing the legs] Oh my God, I’m so good at this. I could go pro. I’m gonna make so much extra money. I could pay for an entire show season.

  • Oh, Leo’s a little ticklish on his back legs but what a good boy! [gives multiple treats]

  • I can’t imagine clipping a horse that’s trying to kick me, thank gawd Leo’s soooo good. [more treats]

  • HOLD STILL DAMN IT.

  • My phone is dying… so no more music and I won’t even be able to Instagram this. 🙄 #whatseventhepointanymore

  • Wow this venti cold brew is getting to me. Why didn’t I bring snacks?

  • Blade is getting hot… better use that coolant stuff.

    • Coolant stuff is not that effective because I didn’t read the directions and was wiping it off immediately…

  • Horse’s lunch time - I’ll give him a quick break in his stall! Need to find human food…

  • Should I switch to the wider blade? But I’ve already done some of the body with the narrow blade… and I think they’re different hair lengths, but I’m not sure? WHY DON’T I KNOW ANYTHING?

  • Oh good, the fifth person has walked by and asked me if I’m almost done. Uhhh, no? It’s only been 3 hours!

  • I’m soo hungry

  • ahhh someone’s having a pizza delivered!! I’ll just casually hang around and see whose it is… [it was for someone who lived in the back of the property, so like, not shareable]

  • How are horse bellies so dirty? Probably because I never actually wash it…

  • Is it normal to feel like crying? Barnmate walked by and said yes.

  • I just have to make it somewhat presentable for the night. I’ll finish tomorrow!

  • Homemade horse treats are a perfectly reasonable snack in a pinch…

  • OH good, the left side took me about half the time as the right side… and shows it. I’ll fix it later!

  • just. need. to. get. the. armpits. done.

  • AHHH IT’S SOMEWHAT DONE. Like 91%. Minus the face.

  • If someone sees him from far away it won’t be that embarrassing for me, I can stop here for the day, right?

  • Alright, turning this bad boy out! Why did I think I would have time to ride…?

It looks like Leo felt about as relieved as I did when he got turned out *queue bucking party*. I was also informed that night at the Christmas party that the head groom had finished my ridiculous clip job by doing Leo’s face. I think this was either out of pity or embarrassment on his part - he couldn’t have Leo seen at the barn with the possibility that people might think he’s responsible. Either way, I brought donuts as a thank you, and we’re all better off for it. I’m still going to touch up Leo’s armpits and entire left side next Saturday. Pray for me.

My MASTERPIECE. The right side looks slightly better. Maybe.

My MASTERPIECE. The right side looks slightly better. Maybe.

No one would ever pay me to do this.

Handsome AF from far away though!!

Handsome AF from far away though!!

NorCal Hunter/Jumper Association Clinic Auditing

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This past weekend I was lucky enough to audit the NorCal Clinic, taught this year by Mandy Porter. Mandy is one of my riding heroes, who I first noticed when I attended the SIHS Grand Prix and again when I found out that she competes many of Wild Turkey Farms' young horses (seriously, #horsegoals). As an instructor, I found her to be sympathetic, engaged, knowledgeable and super kind. I actually applied to ride in the clinic but count myself lucky that I didn’t get in since it’s been a rough few riding weeks (smoke, falls, rain, etc.). Had the clinic been in August or September, I would be crushed that I didn’t get in, but was happy to audit this time around!

There were two two-day session of the clinic. I missed the first day, gymnastics, but saw all of Day 2, coursework, and then some of Days 3 and 4.


A lot of the concepts covered were ideas I’d previously been introduced to in lessons. A lot of supple-ing exercises, figure eights, serpentines were used at the beginning of the sessions. The hardest exercise, in my opinion, was the canter to trot to canter transitions on a circle, so I think this will be the first one I attempt when I ride next. I also noted that when doing circles, serpentines or figure eights, don’t pull your inside rein down (many rider’s hands were too low) and your outside rein and outside leg should create a ‘wall’ so that your horse’s hind end doesn’t swing or fishtail out.

Main Emphasized Concepts

  • a good balanced, quality canter matters much more than distances, rhythm is more important than your distance

  • if you have an iffy distance, don’t let your horse know that it wasn’t exactly what you wanted - no last minute rein grabbing or pony kicking (bumping is fine)

  • when you start your course, get your horse in front of your leg (wish I could inset a clapping emoji here). get them moving off your leg and then collect! check that you have all your buttons that you’ll utilize during your course

  • track is also super important, don’t motorcycle turn, don’t cut corners!

What I liked most about her teaching was that she was really empathetic to everyone’s struggles. At one point, a rider was approaching the first fence and found it on the half stride, got a refusal. Found the same distance a second time, refusal. They lowered the fence slightly and she got over it and then got a refusal on the second fence, not because the distance but because the rider and the horse were both now questioning each other. Mandy wasn’t frustrated or angry, but was firm that they now absolutely had to get through the course. Both for the rider’s and the horse’s confidence. Through every portion of the course, Mandy could identify where one of the two felt like hesitating, told the rider “bump him with your leg, bump here" and they got successfully got through the course. She explained that the rider was stronger for having had a few refusals and then being brave enough to overcome. “You have to want to get to the other side of the jump."

Mandy never acted like these were struggles she doesn’t worry about or that she’s never had. I know I’ve had lessons like that where I think so myself, okay, if I can’t correct this I’m both ruining my own confidence and my horse’s, there’s no choice - I have to get over this fence.

The majority of the clinic progressed just like, very encouraging, and I think all the riders left feeling accomplished and got to do some complicated and challenging courses successfully. I definitely walked away feeling more excited to get back to jumping!

Motivation Monday: Why Not You?

Comparison may be the thief of joy, but have you ever sat with someone who you truly admire, who has accomplished what you want to? Having a mentor or someone to look up to has been more inspiring than anything else in my life. In my personal, professional, equestrian life, the people who inspire me to do better not just through their encouragement, but because they’ve raised questions in my mind.

Why not me? Not to say the people I look up to aren’t impressive, the most encouraging part is that They. Are. Normal. People. They have good and bad days just like you, they go through life just like you.

The only difference between “the mentors” and the people who haven’t accomplished the same thing is, that at one point, the people who everyone admires decided they were going to take the steps to reach their goals. Unless you want to be Elon Musk, goals don’t require you to be a genius, or ridiculously athletic, or rich or whatever – it requires planning, discipline, bravery and tenacity. Effort.

Next time you’re thinking about someone whose reached the goals you also have, think to yourself: What have they got that I haven’t? Nothing. Go get it.

Equestrian Gift Guide 2018

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The Best Time of Year always comes with one of my favorite activities – gift giving! Why? I like the challenge. How? I’m not sure – most of the time I just give people things that I would probably want to receive myself, things that are useful but not so necessary that someone would purchase it themselves. Basic criteria. Obviously I can’t share my gift list for all my loved ones, that would spoil the surprise, but I can provide some ideas for the equestrian in your life.

So, let’s get to it! This guide is perfect for “naive” (meaning they haven’t already received your own Wish List) horse husbands or SOs, parents of horse crazy girls, adult amateurs looking for gifts for their fellow riders or trainer or for your very own steed.

  1. Tucker Tweed James River Carryall

    When girls become horse girls, suddenly their entire shopping fund is refocused towards horses. Treat her to something that she can use to pull together an everyday outfit that still has a subtle nod to their equine obsession. TT bags are high quality and timeless, which is great because she won’t have any funds to allocate to a purse budget for at least another year.

  2. ColorTack Black Roller Ball Spurs

    Another super useful gift that may be slightly more expensive than one would prefer to purchase for themselves. Got a hunter gift recipient? Grab those in black or a neutral bronze or slate color. Jumper or eventer? Snatch up a pair in their matching competition color!

  3. The Skydio R1

    Obviously this is not in everyone’s price range, but how cool is this thing!? How much do you think your barnmates would love to share a selfie drone?? Forget asking anyone to video your lesson ever again! Alternatives: the Soloshot for the ground view or a GoPro for a first person point of view. If you’re still hopeful for the drone, just remember that six years ago a 4K TV was $20,000, and now you can pick one up for around $650. There’s hope! #mooreslaworsomething

  4. Quarter Sheet

    Back on Track has a whole range of therapeutic warming products for you and your horse. The quarter sheet would make an awesome gift for your horse because it’s just a little extra, and probably wouldn’t be a normal purchase. And if your climate is anything like Northern California’s, Real Winter has only just begun, so you’ve got a few more even colder months to get through and why not help your horse get through them in comfort?

  5. Roeckl Madrid Glove

    These gloves are so gorgeous! Roeckl, always with a quality product, offers this sportier design with a bunch of super cool color combinations. My personal favorite is the black and gold, but there are plenty of options for everyone’s style and riding wardrobe color palette (that’s a thing, right?).

  6. Hunt Club Show Shirt

    Hunt Club is one of my favorite equestrian brands and their entrance to the show apparel is very exciting! These shirts are beautifully designed, and, if they’re the same quality as their other riding clothing, will a great addition to anyone’s show wardrobe. Plus, show clothes, while not utilized right away, are always greatly appreciated as they prevent the recipient from scrambling to order a few show shirts days before a summer show!

  7. Tiger Tongue

    The tiger tongue is a grooming tool/sponge that’s taking the equestrian world by storm, or something. Use wet or dry, on sensitive areas or to remove dust and dirt from a thick coat. Seems like a cool idea, has mostly rave reviews and a great price point as a stocking stuffer.

  8. Uniqlo Down Jacket, Vest or Parka

    My current favorite brand for cold weather barn wear isn’t Asmar, it isn’t Patagonia, not even Ariat or Joulles. It’s all about Uniqlo. Their down jackets are warm, but also cheap enough that I don’t freak over horse snot and slobber or treat crumbs. They wash up easily and retain their warmth and down, and also come in so many more neutral colors than any other down-wear I can think of!

  9. Sport Horse Essentials Gift Pack

    SHE is an awesome up and coming all natural brand that manufactures grooming sprays and salves, and gifts often end up being a great way to try out a new brand. It’s both useful and something you wouldn’t normally purchase yourself since you’re stuck in a brand-loyalty rut.

  10. Custom Horse Ornament

    While brainstorming ideas for my 2018 Gift Guide, I knew I wanted something strictly for Christmas-use and ornaments are always a great gift to give, at least in my opinion. I went searching for a custom horse ornament and stumbled upon Hamer & Clay and Kelsey’s adorable designs! Her Etsy shop has since been shut down, so you can’t order from her but they were too cute to not include in my list. I even tried to message her on Instagram to no avail.

  11. Wine Down Hoof Pick

    This is actually an item I already own, but I could totally see working out as a prize at a barn party, white elephant or secret Santa. Pair it with a cute nameplate and you’ve got a super cute and thoughtful gift that will last for years.

  12. Saratoga Bandages

    Okay, so I definitely already have a set of these polos, but I’m SO obsessed!! They are super easy to wrap, never slip, look super classy in every color and with SmartPak’s embroidery options, you can customize them with your loved one’s name or monogram. Just be sure to order early if you do get them embroidered!

Recent Purchases Reviewed

Sterling Essentials Leather Conditioner

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I first saw this brand in an Instagram advertisement. So, advertising works... though I hate to admit it. After looking them up and seeing a few independent reviews, I thought I'd give them a try. After all, I do have somewhat of an obsession with cleaning and shining my boots.

I ended up ordering the Floral Citrus scent and it smells incredible! Not as good as the Effax Lederbalsam which smells like wax and honey, sooo good, but I still appreciate being able to make my boots smell like something other than dirt and shavings.

I start by letting my boots dry completely, especially if they are sweaty from riding in the heat. Our apartment gets so humid that we actually have a dehumidifier so I'll sometimes plop the boots in front of that. Once they're dry, I'll take a damp microfiber cloth to them, and a shoe shining brush to the cracks and crevices where dirt tends to hide. Let dry again. Add generous amounts of the leather conditioner with separate microfiber cloth. Let stand for a few minutes. Use the same cloth to rub in, and/or take excess conditioner off, and then polish with my favorite Effax speedy shine sponge. Works well!

I would absolutely buy Sterling Essentials again, it definitely works better than any black boot polish I've used and I don't feel like I'm making a mess or ruining all my microfiber cloths using it either. 10/10. Might need to get the lavender leather cleaner next.

 
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After

 
 

Wine Down Hoof Pick

As my favorite @adultammystrong saying goes, Whinnies and Wine make me feel fine! I've been attempting to incorporate more equine-themed décor in our home lately, and this bottle opener seemed like the perfect fit while also being useful. I had just lost our best wine opener ever, a hand-me-down from my grandparents I’m sure they picked up in Maui sometime about 2000. My replacement hoof pick/corkscrew combo is a great value for the price and looks quite nice hung in our kitchen. Plus, the hoof pick end is great for getting bottle caps off as well. I have Big Plans for future wine picnics at the barn and/or shows.

8/10 because I could live without it, but it's damn cute. I feel like these would be amazing gifts with a little nameplate or engraving??

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Lorenzini Stirrups

*Note: does not stop the rider from looking at horse’s lovely ears.

*Note: does not stop the rider from looking at horse’s lovely ears.

Honestly? These stirrups were life-changing. If I had to nail down a single thing that most improved my riding in the last six months, it would be these. Not to hate on MDC, but I just can't do the flexible foot bed, IMHO, I think it makes it easier for your heel to be down, but even easier for it to come back up. There's no putting your heels down and having your leg 'lock' in the correct position.

The combination of the wide foot bed, cheese grater pads, and the slight incline really just make them so supportive and my feet are never sore! The Lorenzini have helped my heel come down so much that it stays down (more the most part) over the jump *gasp* and my boots even started rubbing in new places because of the changed position.

9/10. Might need a pink pair.

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Professional Choice Girth

I didn't really need to buy a girth. But I don't really ever need to buy anything.
My barn provides girths. There are multiple sizes, types, etc. and there was a favorite super nice shaped leather Antares that Leo and I both loved for a while… buuuut it would go missing when everyone traveled to shows, and eventually I couldn't find it altogether and just decided to treat myself and grab a synthetic girth.
Everyone has a PC girth. There is a reason. They are awesome, and the price is right. It's easy to get on, plenty stretchy. It's easy to tighten on the ground and in the saddle. The color works. It’s very easy to clean. I think it helps with saddle slippage too.

10/10 would absolutely buy again!

Life Update

My husband graduated law school AND took the bar - thank God that’s over. We are now both working full time and we have only one month left to wait for bar results. #dinklife

I also accepted a promotion within my office, annnd my office moved buildings.

We took our first [weekend] vacation without the dogs since like 2016, attending a wedding and the Sac International Grand Prix.

We’re also pretty sure we’ve secured our next living arrangement, and just in time, too! More to come on that in a blog post later, but our basic plan is to settle into the condo for a while and put off buying for a few more years to fully pay down all debt - basically do it the Dave Ramsey way!

Lesson Update - October 2018

So I was all excited to show off my mad skills, jumping full 3’ courses, kickin’ ass and taking names for this lesson update. But then I got sick and went on vacation, lost absolutely all of my bravery and conditioning and so here’s just another normal video update! (not to say it’s all about height AT ALL, it’s just another measure of our exciting progress)

We struggled especially hard with left to right transitions that day, a bit of a regression because I thought we were past that part of our lives. If I’m making excuses for him it’s because we had a very taxing flat lesson the night before and he might’ve been just a little sore. Plus, we had an actual flat warm-up before we started jumping in this lesson, which is not usually the case.

We started out jumping a little vertical left to right, not my favorite exercise, but usually not that much of a problem. Usually, the trick to Leo’s lead changes are asking with the inside leg, and since his lead preference is the left, that is my also weak side since I never have to ask hard for that lead. So when I go to ask for the right lead change my trainer had try something different than the usual ask-with-the-new-inside-leg, it ended up being more difficult than it should’ve been. Something to work on for sure!

Course 1

Same direction over the vertical we had just practiced over, so I had to tell him we weren’t circling again. Simple change, my God, but had a great jump 2, still didn’t get the left to right change in time for the bending line. For some amateur reason I circle… after fence 3 my trainer tells me to just walk which is always a great sign. She explained to me that my distances and jumps weren’t terrible and there’s no reason for him to not be getting the change. Further explained, his hind end was drifting way left making it hard for him to get the change in the back - make him curl around my right leg by moving my left back to get the change. She also had me switch my crop to my left hand so if I use it behind my leg he feels it on his left hind to start the canter stride.

Honestly, I was surprised but it worked! For Take II, I had a little more horse under me but we got around the course getting all our lead changes in a somewhat reasonable amount of time, still circled, but no one’s perfect. Except us over that last jump, right??

Course 2

Started with the fence 2 to 3 then to fence 1 of the first course, and then back around to the series of bendy yellow fences, the opposite way. He was so good and forgave me for pulling to the red fence when I wasn’t paying attention At All, but the last three fences were perfection. And he’s really just such a good boy, always forgives, always looks to the next fence and is just so willing and once he realized I was switching it up and applying pressure on his left side he was so good about the lead changes. If you can see, watch his ears swivel around listening for further instruction after every jump, probably hoping for a “good booyyyyyy” which means his course is over, but then you point him to a fence and his ears perk and lock on… he’s just too cute!

Positive Notes:

  • I’ve gotten better at following with my hand/staying over. (at least if I find a good distance)

  • My half seat looks and feels pretty solid.

  • A good 8/10 distances were spot on!

  • I used to have an issue with curling into a ball on the approach to a jump and I’ve finally got into the habit of supporting to the base. #posturematters

  • I didn’t get mad or frustrated about the lead change issue - I know it’s just a temporary problem, we all have off days, even horses!

  • Looking at the progress I’ve made from last October is also somewhat gratifying. In the video below it looks like Leo is struggling to put up with my riding, and I’m struggling to do anything at all.