Product Review: EQyss Premier & MicroTek

For the last several months, Zin has had “cannon crud” on her left hind leg. “Cannon Crud” is as nasty as it sounds -its basically a grease-y dirty layer that forms over the hair on the horses cannon bones. It typically affects white legs, but it can happen to any coat color, really. I’m not sure if it’s a fungus or what, but whatever it is it is annoying and ugly. I got fed up with getting Zin’s white socks sparkling clean only to have this hideous layer of crud on one. Additionally, Zin cut her leg about a year ago and hair never really grew back where it scarred. Lately though it seemed like she was losing a bit more hair on that scared area so I wanted to see what I could do to prevent the hair loss.

I have heard good things about the EQyss grooming products, but never really took the plunge and purchased them because they are kind of pricey. Everything I got was at least $25 or more and that just seems like a bit much to spend on grooming products I’m not sure would actually work. Anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and try them and I am glad that I did! I ended up getting three of their products – the MicroTek Equine Shampoo, the MicroTek Equine Gel and the Premier Marigold coat spray. EQyss makes a MicroTek Equine Gel as well as a spray and I stood and looked and went back and forth on both products before finally settling on the gel. I do think the spray would be easier to apply, but the gel specifically said it “minimizes the appearance of scars” so I decided to give it a try.

I first started with the MicroTek Equine Shampoo and washed all 4 of Zins legs. She only has 3 white legs, and only fungus on the left hind, but since I was down there I figured ….. why not? I used a soft curry to loosen up hair and dirt before wetting the legs and applying the shampoo. I squeezed a small amount in to my hand and applied it directly to the leg. The shampoo didn’t suds up very much, but that was fine with me ….. suds in shampoos and soaps are often caused by sulfates and those can be harsh on the skin. The shampoo also has a lovely, fresh floral scent!

I know some of you must be thinking, well of course there would be a noticeable difference after she washed the leg – she got all the crud off! But let me tell you… doesn’t work like that! I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t (I’m super scientific, huh?!). I have washed her legs with so many shampoos time after time and never have I seen the hair look this clean afterwards. Whatever ingredient was in the shampoo really helped loosen the crud and remove it from the hair shaft.

After shampooing, I used a small amount of the MicroTek Gel and applied it to the affected areas. As you can see, where the “cannon crud” was the skin is a bit raw so I think the gel is designed to soothe those areas. Of course as I was putting the gel on, I noticed a spot of “cannon crud” that I hadn’t seen before and I guess didn’t scrub as well on that portion of the leg. I’m planning on washing the legs again this Monday (so a week after the initial treatment) and will hopefully remember that spot! I also applied the gel to the scar she has on the pastern of her right hind. This picture is from the initial application and it is already looking better (Note: I will take a photo of it again next time I’m out and upload this post).

The third product I got from EQyss is the Premier Marigold Spray. I honestly stood in the aisle and thought about this for a while – did I really need to spend $23 on a coat enhancing spray? Apparently this answer to this question is YES! And I am so glad I did! First of all, this spray smells AMAZING!!!! It smells sweet yet still fresh and relaxing. I am obsessed with the scent, I would seriously bathe in this stuff if I could. And one of the nice things about this product is that it doesn’t have any silicone in it, so you can spray it all over your horses body, including where the saddle goes, and not have to worry about tack slipping. On the flip side of that, I don’t find it works really well for a detangler. I don’t brush Zins tail every day anyway, but on the days I do I will still be using show sheen or Cowboy Magic to get it detangled and easy to brush through. I have still sprayed the Marigold Spray on the tail, just not brushed through it when using this particular product ….. tail hairs are precious and I don’t want to rip any out!

I have been using this spray every day since Monday (so, four days now) and I can see her coat is so shiny and so also so soft! I have been using it after I ride, so I will hose or sponge her off, let her dry a bit then spray this all over her body. It works great and I will definitely be repurchasing!


Zinnie with clean legs and a shiney coat!

Goals, Trail Rides & Spas!

So the other day I had these GRAND plans. Seriously, well above the plans I had initially set (see 2018 Goals). I triumphantly told my trainer – I want to do the Novice 3 Day at Galway at the end of the year! Well, I must have sounded incredibly confident because he said “OK!”. We (well I was, at least!) were SUPER excited and I got to thinking about the rest of my show season, planning conditioning schedules and PROMISING myself I’d get Zin out at least 6 days a week and hopefully start trail riding more. Yay – I love goals and plans and things to look forward to! I was SO looking forward to steeplechase and learning more about how to properly condition a horse. It would be so much fun!

Well fast forward to all of ONE day after my grand plans and, surprise! Galway doesn’t have a novice three day at the end of the year, only a training three day. Needless to say I was a bit disappointed, but quickly recovered. I could still learn how to properly condition my horse, condition myself, and prepare for steeplechase – at the Rebecca Training 3 Day Next year!! Ok, ok, I know that is INCREDIBLY far fetched (like .00000000012% chance we will be going training at the beginning of the year), but you never know. It’s something we are thinking about.

Anyway, despite our short lived goal, it still is important to make sure your horse is fit for it’s job and because of that I’ve decided I want to incorporate trail riding once a week. While the goal is to trail ride once a week, with being a mom and working full time and riding in lessons 4 other days a week …. I’m not sure if we will ALWAYS get to go once a week. But even once every other week would be better than nothing! So Sunday morning I got up bright and early with some fellow barn mates to head to Jack London State Park. Jack London is a beautiful park with gradual hills that are great for building fitness. It is SO good for horses to do slow, long work and trail riding is an excellent way to accomplish that. We rode for about 2 hours and all the horses and pones were fantastic, albeit a bit tired at the end! Zinnie actually led the way most of the time and kept up a brisk, forward and relaxed walk – so now I know it’s possible for in the dressage ring, HA!


Trail riding with my favorite barn buddies!

After a full week of training and a long trail ride Sunday, I decided Monday was going to be a relaxing spa day for Zinnie! After work, I headed out to go spend quality time with Ms. Zinfandel. As much as she loves working, Zin also loves attention and cuddles and sometimes it’s nice to just relax and hang out with your horse!


Zinnie mid spa treatment … she’s wondering where her grain is!

I can be pretty OCD about grooming, and try to curry and brush Zin well before every ride as well as hose (or sponge if it’s cold) her off and remove all the sweat marks from her coat. Of course, she is a horse, and loves to make herself dirty, so we started our spa day with a nice curry with one of those soft, gel like curry combs. Zin can be pretty sensitive and I find she much prefers the softer curry comb. After her coat was nice and clean it was time for her liniment bath! And speaking of sensitive horses, Zin can be VERY sensitive to liniment, even diluted liniment. We had been using the Absorbine liniment, you know the one in the yellow container, and she was NOT a fan. I don’t blame her, it made my skin tingle too every time I used it.


Zinnie says “oooo that liniment smells nice!”

Eventually I need to purchase the SoreNoMore liniment, but for her Monday spa day, I used the brand I had – it’s called “SoreEze” by Durvet. It seems pretty similar to SoreNoMore, it is natural and not harsh. The bottle says you don’t have to dilute it, but since Zin is really sensitive I decided to dilute it a bit anyway. She seemed to really like it and didn’t pin her ears and dance around like she’s done with the stronger liniments before. This particular liniment has arnica, wtich hazel, rosemary and bergamot and smells WONDERFUL. It smells soothing and relaxing and lovely – seriously, I would take a bath in it if it wasn’t so expensive.

Since it was pampering day, I thought it would be a good time to FINALLY get rid of the “cannon crud” on Zin’s left hind. Despite multiple washings, it has been there for longer than I care to admit. For those of you who are fortunate enough to have never experienced it, cannon crud is basically a crusty grease-y layer that forms on the horses hind cannon bones. It never made Zin lame, but it sure was unsightly! I’m hoping the products I used will help clean it up. I purchased a bunch of Eqyss Grooming Products to do a product review and see if they are worth the price tag they carry!


Grooming product haul! 🙂

I think Zin was quite pleased to have a day of pampering and relaxation. She really is such a lovable horse and enjoys attention from people. I’m hoping to get back out on the trails this Sunday, even if it means a solo trip! Then next week we are off to Paso Robles for an event ….. let’s hope I remember all the fences this time 😉

It’s OK to Fall

I’ve been riding Zin for a little over 2 years and have now fallen off of her a total of 3 times. I am a firm believer in just falling when you know you are going to fall – it seems people get the most injured when they try to “save themselves” from falling. That leads to all sorts of problems and injuries. I mean I may be slightly biased since I have a bit of extra padding on my bum and it provides a relativley soft landing! But in all seriousness there comes a time when you know you are going to fall and should just let it go. I fell off (TWICE, actually, at the same event!) at a show on my old TB …. I landed on my feet the first time and got to get back on and keep going. The second time I tried to save myself (so I wouldn’t be eliminated……spoiler alert: we got eliminated) and wound up falling off anyway and hurting my ankle – I still have issues with that ankle to this day, and that was almost 4 years ago!


Blazer and I during one of our better moments.

The first two times I inadvertently departed off Zinnie were both on the flat. The first time I was hacking around on my own and someone was sweeping on the outside of the arena. At this point she had just moved into a new facility, and I think had only been off the track 2 months or so. In hindsight (and hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it?!) I probably should have let her walk and take a look at the horse eating broom, but I just kept on trotting right by. Well, of course almost any 4 year old would probably take a little peek-ski at the broom and that’s exactly what Zin did. She scooted a bit to the right and I plopped off to the left and that was that. It was actually a very soft landing!

The next time we parted ways was during a dressage lesson. I was being asked to bend right over and over and over….in hindsight (again, 20/20!), we probably should have let it go and moved on to something else, but that wasn’t the style of this trainer. Anyway, I finally got fed up and gave Zin a big old *WHAP!!!!* with the dressage whip. Horses and frustration don’t mix well. As you might imagine, Zin was having none of that and gave a buck and over her shoulder I went!

The third time was most recent and just this past weekend. We were having a really good jump lesson and things just felt great. Zin is 99.9% of the time so forward and bold to the fences, so I probably let my guard down a bit. My trainer had this long bending line set up and we had ridden it several times before. He bumped the fences up a bit, but still nothing “huge” and we went off to practice the same course we had just rode. She jumped a little big into the first vertical of the bending line, so maybe it caused me to ride a bit backwards to the second fence – I don’t know. But I can tell you that 1) I didn’t ride forward and 2) I didn’t ride STRAIGHT! Oh, and 3) I didn’t wait for my horse to jump! The second fence in the bending line was a bit narrower anyway (I think 8 ft), so I really needed to be straight. All of a sudden we were drifting further and further away and before I knew it, I had Zin pointed at the standard. Now, Zinnie is normally pretty honest and I think this is the second time she’s stopped at a fence in her life (not including the liverpool incidents). Anyway, she slid to a stop and off I went!

Again, I knew I was going to fall and just kind of went with it and the fall really wasn’t bad at all. Nothing hurt, I wasn’t bleeding, my horse was fine and so it was time to get back on. Now, let me just say I am a very anxious nervous person to begin with and can get rattled very easily. So, while I was physically fine, I was definitley super jittery and radiating energy. BUT!!! I got back on and did the same exact line (plus the rest of the course) at the same height and, I mean not to toot my own horn or anything, but I really feel like the fall helped me ride better. For one, I was NOT about to fall off twice in one lesson and two it really helped me sit UP and WAIT for Zin and also insist that she be straighter to the fences.

We jumped several more courses (and my trainer even continued to put the fences up!) and Zin was AWESOME. I cannot express how huge that is for me …. to fall off and rather than having a melt down and turn into a ball of nerves, I actually ended up riding better. I uploaded a video of our last jump round, which you can see here: Jump Schooling from 06/17/2018 if you’re interested. The photo below is the next time jumping the same fence, and as you can see my position indicates I did NOT want to come off again!


I rode much straighter this time!!

So the moral of the story is:
1) It’s OK to fall! If you ride enough, it’s inevitable you will fall off eventually.
2) If you know you’re going to fall, just fall!
3) Sometimes things don’t always go the way we plan when we ride (or in every day life, really), and that is OK. It’s how we recover from those situations and move on that shows us our strength. (This is in red bold because I feel it’s important to realize!!)

Cross Country Day!

Okay, so it’s literally been almost a MONTH since I ran cross country at Woodside and let me just say I thought I’d write about this a lot sooner! Part of me wanted to wait to write about this until I had show photos, but now I’m at the point where I need to write about it before I forget! I guess the photographer has been incredibly busy…..3+ weeks to get photos is a long time to wait! As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Finishing on a Letter, by the time cross country came around we were already eliminated. But that’s okay, the TD was kind enough to let us run cross country with the understanding that if we had a single stop we needed to call it a day after that – no pressure, right :-P.

The morning of cross country I felt a mix of excitement and dread. I literally feel like this every single time – I’m ALWAYS asking myself “WHY am I doing this” and contemplating just calling it a day and going home. It IS getting better with each show, so I’m hoping just more exposure and showing experience will start to calm my nerves. Zin was super quiet and chill that morning and calmly walked up to warm up. She was even a bit behind the leg in warm up and not really going forward. I was thinking “oh great, can we NOT decide we don’t like jumping anymore right before we head out to XC?” But after a couple more warm up fences Zin started attacking the jumps and life was back to normal.

Once it was finally time to head down to the start box, that’s when my real panic kicked in. I tried to remember to just take deep breaths and that we were doing this for fun!! I always like to walk around and in/out of the startbox while our time is being counted down. Once they say “10, 9, 8…..”, I start to walk back to the startbox. At 5 seconds I hit my watch and just wait for them to say “GO!” or whatever it is the person decides to say. I actually prefer a nice, calm, relaxing “Have a nice ride” over “GO!”, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter too much! Zin launched herself out of the start box and we were finally off. Fences one through four were pretty straight forward and aligned with the beginner novice track. Obviously the jumps were a bit bigger, but Zin took me to every single fence boldly. I felt we started to hit a rhythm and my nerves turned into an adrenaline rush…..oh yeah, this was fun!!!


The fifth jump on course was called a boat house (no idea why!) which led into the water and then a little brush fence about 3 strides after the water. I was a little bit concerned about the boat house, mainly because when I schooled it I couldn’t get Zin straight to save my life. She likes to bulge left and chip in if I’m not riding strongly and assertively, so I really tried to keep her straight and forward. I ended up not getting her as straight as I should have (see photo below), but it was still MUCH straighter than when we schooled. Zin was bold through the water, over the brush and jumped nicely over fence 7, a double log. I’m sure there are more technical terms for these jumps (like lets be real, has anyone seen “double log” on their course map??), but I am not aware of them!


The next set of jumps coming up was our first “a b” combination on cross country (the beginner novice courses I rode never had these). Fences 8a and 8b were a pair of angled cabins that I struggled a bit when schooling – it is supposed to be a 4 stride line and I kept getting 5 strides. My trainer told me it would be much easier for me once I was out on course and had gotten into a flow and he was right. Honestly the striding was almost tight! We got a really good distance to the first cabin and I (amazingly, and for once in my life) rode straight to the second cabin. After the cabins we had a big long slightly downhill approach to fence 9. On a random note, does anybody else notice how Woodside basically manages to have the WHOLE COURSE going down hill?!


Okay, so my BIG concern about this whole course was “the ditch”. Zin has never liked this ditch and has also never gone over it the first time I’ve presented her to it. It’s always been a dancing around left and right type of thing before she sits on her but and launches us both over it. Leading up to “the ditch” we had to jump a ramp downhill, a bending line to a small log then about 4 strides to “the ditch”. The ramp rode fine as did the log, but as soon as we landed from the log I got all flustered and began flapping my arms all around (because that always helps, right?). Zin was probably wondering what in god’s name I was doing on her back, but luckily she put on her big girl pants and hopped over the ditch (after taking a HARD look in it) anyway! Yay!


So after I got through the scariest part on course (which turned out to not be so scary), I had the next scariest part on course. I remember walking the course and seeing two “massive” steeplechase fences and thinking – WHAT THE EFF DID I GET MYSELF INTO. These are huge! Why am I going to jump this?! Spoiler alert – I now LOVE steeplechase fences! Anyway, I only got a picture of one, but trust me there were two :). After the ditch we (finally) went up a hill for a little bit and encountered our first steeplechase fence. I sat up, put my leg on and rode her nice and forward and we sailed over it …… OMG it was SO FUN!! SO fun!!! The funnest part on course! I literally have a huge smile on my face just remembering how fun it was. After the first one I bridged my reins, got off her back and let her gallop a bit to the next one. She jumped it out of a nice forward stride and I couldn’t be happier. We went downhill again to a trakhaner (fence 13) and were now only three numbered obstacles from home!


At this point I was basically on cloud 9 and having a freaking BLAST. The last combination on course was coming up and was a roll top fence 4-ish (I say ish because I don’t remember how many strides it was LOL) strides to a downbank. We had schooled a table (which actually ended up on the training course ooooooo!) to the down bank and it rode great. Zin jumped the roll top and then launched herself off the down bank …. and when I say launched, I mean it in a positive way. She just felt so energetic and fresh and like she was having fun …. it was like a giant “Yippeee!” off the bank.


We were now only two fences away from home and both Zin and I were having the time of our lives. The second to last fence was another roll top, into the water and up a slight hill over the last fence, a cabin! After we landed from the cabin and crossed the finished flags, I was seriously ELATED. THAT feeling of being high on adrenaline and excitement and happiness makes all of the stress worth it. It’s like all that anxiousness and nervousness is transformed into happiness. So when people ask me if it’s worth it knowing how worked up I get, the answer is 100% YES!

Despite the fact that we did get a technical elimination, that weekend at Woodside gave me SO much confidence in both Zin and myself. Zin showed me how brave and bold she is and how much she LOVES cross country. She showed me that she can be relaxed and soft in a dressage test. And I showed myself that I am stronger and braver than I think and I CAN conquer my anxiety. Our next event coming up is July Twin Rivers and I’m hopeful I can remember my dressage test and jump all the jumps this time!

Oh, and if anyone is interested, our RideOnVideo cross country video is online. Woodside May 2018 Novice Cross Country

Zinnie Visits The Beach!

Okay, so wow I really suck at blogging lately. I took Zin to the beach over a WEEK ago and wanted to write about it the next day, yet here I am now over 10 days later. I also wanted to write about our XC round at Woodside (that will be the next blog, I’m waiting on pics!) and a little XC school we did last weekend. I’ve also been putting in 10 hour days at work and between balancing that with riding and my 18 month old daughter it’s hard to get a free moment. Figuring out this adulting thing is hard!! Anyway, I’m sure nobody wants to read about my job, so I’ll hurry up and get to the fun part – Zin’s first beach outing!


It was a beautiful day for a beach trip!

I had been wanting to take Zin to the beach for a while now, and I finally got the chance to go! We had been having BEAUTIFUL weather in my area, and combining the weather with an awesome low tide I decided I couldn’t pass the opportunity up. I had decided I was going to go, even if it meant going alone ….. luckily two girls I ride with decided to join in on the fun! Both of their horses had been to the beach before, so I was greatful they could help give Zin a positive experience.

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Zinnie with an extra spring in her step

Whenever I told anyone I was taking her to the beach, their first question was “Has she been before?” in a concerned tone. Well, no, but I wasn’t worried …. and Zin didn’t disappoint me. She was SO awesome and SO brave in the water. It was a beautiful, sunny day out, but the air was still pretty cold and crisp which resulted in Zin having an extra spring in her step!

When we first got there, we walked all the horses down to the firm sand (yay for low tides!) and let them investigate the water. To be honest, Zin was a bit apprehensive at first, not of the water but of the white foam the waves made and how the water was coming TOWARD her – the horror! She did do a couple moves I like to call the “sit and spin”, where they rock back on their butt and spin one direction or the other. But at least she didn’t bolt after her spin! After thinking about it for a while, she decided the water really wasn’t so bad and ended up walking, trotting and cantering through it.

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Zin demonstrating her sit and spin

After walking a while, trotting and cantering some we decided it was time to gallop. I mean, after all that is why people go to the beach, right?! So the first time we went to gallop, we got going at a pretty fast paced canter and everything was great. Then I felt her open up a bit more and I had about 10 seconds of enjoyment before I started to panic. OMG – what if I couldn’t stop her? What if she darted to one side or the other and I hit the sand. And let me just say, that from the low tide is NOT soft, especially if you hit it going god only knows how fast on a galloping ex-racehorse. I think Zin felt my apprehension and slowed down a bit, and I ended up pulling up a little bit and walking not too long after that. I was kind of disappointed in myself – what in the world was happening, I used to be so brave! People say having kids changes you, and it really does. But I wasn’t about to leave the beach without really galloping, so I told myself to suck it up and put on my big girl pants.

And let me say, I am SO glad I pushed my fears aside and decided to give it another shot. After walking for a bit, we decided to do one more gallop down the beach and I told myself to just let go and trust Zin. And it was SO MUCH FUN. It makes me have this huge stupid smile on my face just writing this and remembering how fun it was. One of the girls I was with was also riding and OTTB, and they were basically galloping neck and neck down the beach. It is such a cool feeling when you feel them extend their stride and open up. I actually still don’t think Zin was going in a dead flat out gallop either – we can save that for next time!

After all the galloping, we walked the horses out for quite a while to cool off. It’s nice having the super cold salt water as a “therapy” treatment after all the hard work. It was like having our very own equine spa! Not only did the ponies get the spa treatment afterwards, but Zin LOVED rolling in the sand after we were done.

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After galloping, this was probably her favorite part of the beach!

Obviously not every outing can be as adrenaline induced as galloping an ex-racehorse on the beach, but I do hope to start trail riding Zin more. We have access to so many awesome state parks within a 30 minute drive from where i live, so there is really no reason NOT to get out there and hit the trails. Trail riding is SO good for the horses mind and body, I think everyone should get out of the arena and a routine as much as possible.
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Finishing on a Letter

So Zin and I made our move up to Novice this past weekend at The Spring Woodside event. I’ve never competed at the novice level and neither has Zinnie, so it was new for both of us! And, spoiler alert, we got eliminated. Getting eliminated this weekend was honestly my biggest fear, I desperately wanted to finish this event. But I guess if you’re going to get eliminated a technical elimination is the “best” one to get. I completely spaced out during our stadium round and missed fence 6, but more on that later. Anyway, even though we finished on a letter, I’m still so proud of Zin and thought she was a rockstar the entire weekend! Zin doesn’t know we got eliminated, and her mind she thinks she kicked ass.

This event was our first full three day of the season. It was kind of nice to only have one phase a day and have time to really focus on the task at hand – that being said, I went off course in dressage AND stadium, so maybe I had too much time to think ha ha ha.

We left bright and early Thursday morning (my alarm was set for 430AM!) and got to the horse park by 830AM. Even though Woodside is fairly close and only a 1.5 hour haul, the parking scene there can get VERY chaotic VERY quickly. As someone who has massive anxiety when it comes to backing up a horse trailer, the early wake up call was very much worth it to avoid parking drama. Zin settled in nicely and we had a beautiful warm up ride. She was relaxed, soft and supple, and my trainer only coached us for about 15 minutes before calling it a day. As I’ve mentioned before, I am learning that with dressage less is definitely more with this horse. We have lots to work on at home, but at events just keeping her soft in her mouth and back, relaxed and enjoying her job is the goal.

We had dressage on Friday a little after 330, and once again Zin surprised me with how soft and supple and relaxed she was in warm up. I was wondering where my fire breathing dragon horse went, but was definitely happy with the way she was going. Despite my horrific braiding job (I really need to learn how to braid with yarn!) Zin gave me a perfect test. She was so relaxed and soft and the judge even said her poll was too low – yay! I know, I know, it sounds crazy to be happy about that – but the main goal for her is to be relaxed. And if that means her she’s a little too low for now, that’s okay. The idea is is that after she is soft and relaxed, we can gradually sit her on her butt and bring her poll up. But cranking her into a frame right now won’t do anybody any favors.

Stadium was the next day and I, to put it lightly, was so freaking nervous. We had been had issues jumping that had only recently been resolved (see: Zin v. LiverPool ) so I didn’t know how she was going to be. The course looked big, but also looked to be an inviting ride (no crazy hard turns). Zin ROCKED it in warm up. We were nailing our distances, she was forward and in front of my leg and just being awesome. My trainer put up this MASSIVE oxer (okay, okay I’m sure it wasn’t that big but it definitely looked Rolex height to me 😉 ) and Zin took me right to it and sailed over it. She didn’t touch a single rail and was jumping like a machine.

woodsidefence2Despite having an awesome warm up, I was still nervous going into the ring. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me – I always feel sickeningly worried before going into the ring. I’m trying to work on different techniques to improve this….if I find something that works I’ll report back, haha. Naturally the first fence was an oxer (not my favorite way to start the course) and Zin sucked back a little bit but then jumped it nicely. We had a nice long bending line to fence 2, a decently sized vertical. I was a bit worried about fence 3 since it had some filler and I told myself if I could get over fence 3 everything would be okay.

woodsidefence 3 We sailed over fence 3 and I definitely started enjoying myself. Zin was such a good girl and jumping everything out of a nice forward stride. We had a 2 stride line, and made a right hand turn to go over fences 7 and 8, about 6 strides apart. Zin nailed fence 7, we were having a nice forward canter to fence 8, things were great with only 2 fences left and then ….. we heard the buzzer. BEEP BEEP BEEP is NOT something you want to hear in the middle of your round. I was incredibly confused at first, but then the announcer told me I had missed fence 6. It was a 5 stride bending line after the 2 stride, and it was just far away enough that I had completely sailed past it. Ugh.

We trotted out of the ring and I gave Zinnie a nice pat – for all she knew, she jumped around great. And she did jump around great! It was a stupid mental error on my part, and unfortunately resulted in an elimination. It’s been 5 days since then and I’m still upset with myself. I’m frustrated I wasn’t more focused on the course and I was too busy worrying about having a rail or a stop and didn’t put enough trust in my horse. So yes, we ended our weekend on a letter …. but you know, it’s OK. It’s not the end of the world. It wasn’t a training error, Zin wasn’t bad – it was 100% on me. I will definitely be walking courses more than once from now on! On the bright side, the TD was kind enough to still let us run cross country the next day! Which means our next blog post will be all about our first novice XC Run ……. dun dun dun ….. 😀

Oh! And here is the link to our stadium video if anybody is interested. You can definitely see my confusion when the buzzer was rung, followed by massive disappointment. But for the first 8 fences, I’m really happy with how Zin and myself jumped around our first novice course. Woodside May 2018: Stadium Round

Zin v. LiverPool

Normally, Zin is a pretty level headed, non-spooky horse and for that I am very grateful. I remember the first time I took her on a trail ride, we went to this local place called Annadel. I didn’t even think about it before we went, but once we got there I remembered how busy it could get on the weekends and there were SO MANY MOUNTAIN BIKERS. Zin couldn’t care less about the bikes, or the large group of horses we went with, or the less than ideal footing or the water crossing. Writing this makes me remember that I love trail riding and need to do it more!

She’s also pretty much jumped everything I’ve put in front of her – including a blow up orca that we placed under a jump


(As a side note, I’m obsessed with killer whales and marine mammals in general… case anyone was wondering why I happened to have an orca pool toy). Where I board at, we have to walk down a hill to get to the arena and then back up to get back to the barn. The days I have to bring my daughter to the barn with me, I able to walk Zin along side the stroller without her losing her mind.

So when my trainer decided to put a liverpool in the jump arena, I didn’t think much of it. But horses are strange and Zin had other ideas. I remember the first lesson I had with “it” in the arena and I didn’t even really pay any attention to it. We had jumped a bit and were walking around on a loose rein when she passed the liver pool. I’m not sure what it was – if she just happened to notice it then ,or happened to kick some sand onto it and made a noise, who knows. But in that moment she decided she was having none of this business with the liver pool and spooked and darted away. Since we were on a loose rein and I was completely relaxed in the saddle when she did this, I’m just glad I stayed on! We carried on with our lesson, stayed mostly away from it and I didn’t think much of it.


If only Zin could have forgotten it so easily. The jump lesson after that did NOT go well. She was so incredibly distracted and would jump the fence in front of her (reluctantly), but not notice it until literally the very last second. She was so busy looking for the liverpool that she wasn’t focusing on the job at hand. We only had two jump lessons with “it” before heading off to Fresno for our second event of the season. Zin was really good at the show and jumped a double clear in both rounds. We did have some issues in stadium (i.e: not turning, haha), and in stadium I didn’t really feel like she was attacking the jumps like she normally di. Cross country was completely different and she was back to hunting the jumps down, which is SUCH a nice feeling!

We went back home and had the same issues jumping. She was still being a good girl, but had just lost a bit of her confidence and I subsequently lost mine. The weekend after Fresno we were off to school cross country at Woodside and she was GREAT. But …. as soon as we got home her confidence took a hit. We had one jump lesson at the beginning of last week where she wouldn’t even go over a pole on the ground. My confidence was so shot and I even contemplated scratching Woodside – where had my once brave horse gone? After that, my trainer said enough was enough and he took “it” out of the arena.

Our next jump lesson was Saturday (5/19) and the first one we had had in about a month without “it” in the arena. And Zin was SO good. She was a little backed off at first, but once she realized the liverpool wasn’t in the ring anymore she was brave, bold, and taking me to the fences again – except for one fence. My trainer had rearranged the jumps, but kept the jump where the liverpool used to be under in the same spot. He added a second fence after it to make it part of a one stride. As we approached it for the first time, I honestly didn’t think anything of it …. she had been jumping around great. And then she slammed on the brakes. At first I was like “WTF!!” and then we both realized – it was where the liverpool had been!! She did slam on the breaks and then leap over it, which resulted in me grabbing my jump strap to not catch her in the mouth …. and then of course the jump strap broke and we can file this under the “WTF/shit that never happens but of course happened to me” category.


Honestly, I had no idea one little object could instill so much chaos in any horse, let alone Zin. It was really a confidence shaker to have her be so backwards to fences, especially when we are preparing to move up a level. Our last jump lesson before leaving to Woodside was last Wednesday and she was PERFECT. She was bold and forward and a s a result I got MY confidence back and finally was able to really ride again. I was able to sit down and wait for the fences and know she was taking me to them. We had this two stride line that she was just PERFECT for – when it was set up with the liver pool in the ring, we were riding so backwards to it and it resulted in horrific jumps. I was so happy to have Zin back to her normal self again. It’s such a good feeling to have a horse take you to the fence and I need to not take it for granted. While I don’t think the liverpool set us back really (aside from my confidence), we definitely didn’t have room to really grow over the last few weeks. But what it DID teach me was to ride every fence and not just count on her jumping whatever I point her at.

In other news, we got to Woodside bright and early this morning (to avoid the parking chaos that happens if you get there past 9AM) and Zinnie settled in great. Zin was literally fantastic for our warm up ride today – we kept it short and simple and my trainer said “Well, that was one of the easiest lessons I ever gave”. Zin was soft and supple and relaxed – she really surprised me! I hope I can give her a good ride tomorrow and replicate the ride we got this evening. The novice test A is a test we haven’t ridden before, so I hope I remember it! I mean, I know I will remember it (as I knock furiously on wood), but you guys know what I mean. I just keep running through it in my head over and over again while visualizing myself riding it. Yes, I am crazy :).

My daughter, who is about 18 months, is tagging along for her second horse show, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of my mom. My mom helps take care of her throughout the day while I can focus on riding and taking care of Zin – it really does take a village and I’m so happy with my support system!


Madison giving Zin a cookie.

Another Weekend, Another Adventure

With Zins splint bone injury, our show season got off to a later than expected start. But now that we’ve started, it feels like we are doing something every weekend – I love it! We had Twin mid-April, Fresno end of April and now the first weekend in May gave us a cross country schooling! So many fun times!

I used to live and go to school in Santa Cruz, and since it’s only a 30-40 minute haul to Woodside my old horse & I schooled there a LOT. It was always the place I felt the most comfortable at, but thankfully since then I have branched out more and gone other places! It is funny, I used to think Woodside was SO BIG, but now schooling at other venues I realize their XC course is actually pretty small! Regardless, I still enjoy schooling there and we definitely had a blast last Saturday!


Since Woodside is only a little over an hour and a half from where we live, the drive there felt like it went by super fast! I also didn’t have to leave the barn until 8AM (!!!!) so I also got the luxury of “sleeping in”. When I got there, the place was PACKED….it was the last weekend to school before the closing date of their May event and there was also an “A” Hunter/Jumper show there that weekend. As a result, one of my biggest fears came true – I had to back up the truck and trailer into a spot. Oh my god I legitimately had a panic attack, BUT I sucked it up and backed up into the spot after several tries. Honestly, this was the worst thing to happen to me all day so I should consider myself pretty fortunate!


I was riding with 3 other people in my group, including my trainer on one of his other client’s horses. Woodside has 2 main water complexes, and the four of us headed down to the lower water complex. There were SO many people schooling that day and it was a bit crowded, but we all respected each others space so it worked out nicely. This was my first time being in a “novice” group and there to school all the novice fences and questions. Since I am basically crazy and super over the top OCD, I had spent the entire week before looking up videos of the novice cross country course so I could see the jumps and knew what to expect. Luckily everything was pretty straight forward and inviting and I wasn’t really “worried” about anything. We did struggle pretty hard with one line(discussed below), but overall Zin was SUCH a good girl! She has such a great work ethic and I’m so fortunate I get to ride and work with her every day.


Zin just being her typical bad a$$ self over this cabin. We approached this downhill and I was kind of nervous, but Zin rocked it!

Zin was overall a really good girl, but we did struggle with two things on course. About half way through the course, there is a 4 stride line with 2 angled cabins. We already struggle a bit with bending lines (it’s a work in progress), so I was curious how it was going to ride. I watched everyone else in my group ride it and it rode GREAT. And then it was my turn – and it did not ride great, ha. I couldn’t keep Zin straight and between my leg and hand, and as a result we kept getting 5 strides with the last stride being very crooked, backwards and chippy. When I get nervous or a bit timid, I tend to just land from the jump and “hang out” for a second. I need to remember there is life after the jump and that we have to land and GO. Once I rode straight and forward, we got the 4 strides no problem – and it left me wondering why I didn’t just ride like that initially!! I’m hoping that by that point on course we will be in a bit more of a flow and rhythm…..and also if I can just sit down and ride forward we will be fine! When in doubt, sit up and add leg!

There were also two jumps where I was REALLY proud of Zin. Jumps with width tend to make me the most nervous and backed off, and there is one really wide table at the end of the course. Well, it’s really wide to me, I’m sure other people think its tiny but to each their own! Anyway Zin jumped it no problem!! I’m pretty sure I landed with a huge smile on my face. On my end, I didn’t really ride it the best and got left a little behind – I wasn’t expecting her to launch over it so easily! The other thing that made me really happy was the down bank. Zin has never had a problem with down banks, but she’s also never been super bold off them either, if that makes sense. She tends to kind of take a peek and then hop off – not really hesitating, but not going super forward either. Anyway, after the red table there is a pretty substantial down bank. I remember thinking wow if I was a horse there’s no way I’d jump off that . Well, good thing Zin is the horse and not me because she just popped right down on problem! It’s funny, the things I get kind of nervous about Zin has no problem with and the things she gets nervous about I really need to do a better job of riding forward to the fence and supporting her with my leg – do show her she CAN do this.

Overall I was so pleased with our schooling and am really looking forward to the event at the end of the month! Oh, I made a video of some clips from our schooling if anyone is interested the link is here: May 2018 Woodside Schooling. I really need to work on my video editing skills, if anyone has a good video editor app, I’d love to hear about it!

Dressage is Done – Time to Jump! (FCHP Edition)

I want to apologize in advance that I basically have zero pictures from our jumping phases at the Fresno event last weekend. I’ll definitely be purchasing show photos from the show photographer (Marcus Greene Outdoor Photography  ) once they are posted! But for now, I hope only a show recap sans photos will be sufficient. As I mentioned in my last blog post, most divisions, aside from the Novice and Training 3 days, were a 2 day affair.

Show Jumping
Our show jumping round was scheduled for about 3 hours after our dressage test, which was a pleasant surprise – at Twin we had nearly EIGHT HOURS in between rounds! After dressage, I fed Zin lunch and let her hang out in her stall for a bit. I also took about half an hour to just decompress and relax for a minute – it is truly amazing how much work goes into trotting down the centerline. All the prepping, packing and driving … the more I show the more I am getting “used” to this routine, but damn it is a lot of work! Although, so worth it…..seriously, what else would I do with all my free time and money if I didn’t show or even ride horses?!

After taking the time to “chill out”, it was time to go up and walk the show jumping course with my trainer. The course was a lot different than the course I had a Twin 2 weeks ago. While the course at Twin had some turns with lots of straight lines and “related distances” that were 5-8 strides apart, the course at Fresno was full of twists and turns. Fences 1 to 2(oxer) were a bending line left, another long bending line to fence 3(oxer), right long turn to fence 4, bending line to 5(oxer), another right turn to fence 6(oxer) which was an oxer. Then we had one last change of direction to go to our two stride line, left hand turn to go over the last vertical. Honestly the course seemed simple enough to me at the time, but it did prove a bit challenging to ride.

After walking the course, I went back down to the barn to tack Zin up and get ready. We headed up to warm up feeling positive and good – there were quite a few horses in the warm up rings, but Zin handled it like a champ. I’m really, REALLY liking my trainers approach to show warm up. If things are going good, then why push it? We did struggle a bit with staying straight (our constant struggle) in this warm up, but overall Zin was really good. We jumped a slightly larger oxer in warm up and I got Zin in a bit too deep of a distance (i.e: I didn’t ride forward and I picked the whole time!), and she pulled a rail. My trainer had me jump the same oxer in a more forward stride and she cleared it just fine – he said that would be our last warm up jump and we waited for 2 horses to go before our turn. Unfortunately, the horse that was going right before me crashed into fence 3 – never a fun thing to see right before your ride! Luckily horse and rider appeared to be OK; they exited the arena and it was time for Zinnie to go in!

Overall, I felt we had a really positive ride. Fences 1 and 2 rode great, however we did have a bit of a miscommunication on the approach to fence 3. Normally, Zin will drift with her left shoulder, so when I started to lose her right shoulder as we made the left hand turn it was a surprise to me! In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been too surprised as she was drifting her right should back to the in gate. Luckily we had enough room inbetween fences 2 and 3 to get things straightened out, and

once she actually paid attention and saw fence 3 I felt her go ”


Happy pony & rider after going double clear in stadium

ohhh” and canter boldly towards it. Zin also lost a bit of confidence to fence 6 – I’m honestly still not 100% sure why. I don’t know if she just didn’t lock onto it or if I was spacing out (very likely), but we had a little bobble and chipped in a bit.

Other than our 2 little mistakes, Zin jumped out of her skin and was definitely NOT going to touch any of those rails. We jumped clean with no rails and no time and I was so proud of her! Additionally, we moved up from 12th to 10th after a double clear round. Yay, Zinnie!

Cross Country

Cross country was scheduled for Sunday early afternoon and after walking the course 3 times  I was feeling pretty good about it. We came to Fresno back in November for the last event of the 2017 season and (XC video here) and this course was pretty similar to that one. They removed one jump at the bottom of a hill, and changed the positioning of one jump to create quite a terrain question, but other than that it was very similar. I was so happy that all the fences looked small and it’s so nice to go to a show and not be worried about fence height!

Zin got a nice hand walk and graze around 8AM, and happily munched on her hay for the remainder of the morning. I started grooming, getting dressed and tacking up about an hour before my ride time. I like to have about a half hour in warm up – I find that gives me enough time without over doing it. I remember Zin did feel a bit tired when we were walking up to warm up, but once we got going she perked up and jumped everything nicely. Before I knew it, it was the “2 minute countdown” and time to cross the road to go over to the start box. For me, this is the part where I start to stupidly panic. My brain goes into overdrive and just wont shut up and it’s THE MOST ANNOYING THING EVER. What helps me is just continuously walking in/out and around the startbox taking deep breaths and reminding myself this is supposed to be fun!

Before I knew it we were being told to “GO!” and Zin left the startbox with a nice forward and bold canter stride. She started gaining speed between fences 2 and 3, so I had to give her a couple of sharp half halts to say “uhm hello, we are not going to be a freight train today”, but other than that she was nearly perfect! We had one pretty long gallop stretch between two coupes (fences 6 and 7) and I was able to bridge my reins and let her just cruise along at a nice pace. This was my plan at Twin two weekends before, but since she took off like a bat outta hell for the first half of the course I had to crawl around the second half – this time we established a nice cadence the entire way around the course.

We did have two little “oopsie” moments, one was at fence 9 which was a ditch. You went over this little log and then had about 7 (? I think, I cant remember now!) strides to a ditch. It’s a little weird since she was so brave when we schooled it, but she definitely took a hard look in it before popping herself over. Fences 15 and 16 were  bit tricky due to the terrain – 15 was a cabin downhill to 16, a sharktooth. There was about 2 or 3 strides of flat ground  before fence 16, but I didn’t organize myself in time and we had a pretty big chip into the sharktooth. Luckily the fences are small and Zin is very forgiving and she jumped the last 2 fences beautifully.

I get such a high after cross country……it’s really hard to explain, but I know everyone knows what I mean. I think part of the reason it feels SO “high” is because of all the anxiety I put myself through leading up to that moment. That being said I’m working on ways to reduce anxiety because it would be AWESOME to just go to a horse show and you know… …..have FUN the whole time instead of being anxious for 50% of it. I will say though that I used to be a nervous wreck almost 100% of the time, so things are going in the right direction 🙂

Zin went double clear on cross country and we moved up to SIXTH PLACE!!! I mean green isn’t my favorite color, but I was so happy and so proud of her.  All three phases have improved so much with our new trainer and I’m really hopeful for what the future holds for us. Next stop -The Spring Event at Woodside on May 24- 27th. I’m really hopeful I will be able to get more photos and video this time around!


Fence 5 on cross country at Fresno – don’t you just love the construction in the background?!


Dressage Days at Fresno County Horse Park

So another weekend has passed and Zin & I have our second horse show of the season finished. I actually don’t feel as tired as I did last time and I’m wondering if I’m going to be paying for it tomorrow or in the next few days! This time we visited Fresno County Horse Park to compete once again in Sr. Beginner Novice Rider. Our division was a two day again, so we did dressage and stadium on Saturday, followed by cross country Sunday. Fresno is about a 4.5 hour haul from our home, so I got up bright and early to be on the road by 5AM on Friday. We easily could have left later, but traffic in this area is awful and I decided getting up early was better than sitting in traffic and turning our 4.5 hour haul into a 6+ hour haul


Crazy early wake up call to leave for Fresno…….#eventerproblems

The drive there was relatively uneventful, but damn those last 30 or so miles feel like they are NEVER GOING TO END!!! You just feel like you are going to be driving forever. I used to be really afraid of hauling alone, but I put on my big girl pants this year and just did it. I bring my dog with me and listen to a book on tape and it really isn’t that bad. By the way, if anyone has any good book recommendations feel free to leave it in the comments below – I am always on the look out for a good book to listen to during these longer hauls.

We got to Fresno around 930AM on Friday and Zin hauled great. I remember when I took her home from the track I asked the trainer how she hauled. He didn’t really give me a straight answer so I thought, “GREAT she’s probably going to try to kick her way out of the trailer”. But in the past 2 years we have only had one incident (when she was standing in an un-moving trailer) so I’m really happy with the way she travels – she eats and drinks right after getting out, too – which is awesome! After getting there we got everything set up and Whiskey (my dog) and Zin were all settled in. We decided to get a tack stall this time around, since things got kind of messy at Twin. And with 3 horses it wasn’t too expensive to split the tack stall fee. Let me just say – my trainer has QUITE the set up for tack stalls! They have hanging shelves, hanging saddle racks, shelves that go up against the wall – I should have taken a picture, but of course didn’t think about it at the time. I was actually really bad about taking pictures this weekend, and now I’m regretting it!

I gave Zin a light lunge, just so she could stretch her legs and get any excess energy out.


Zin thinks she earned herself a beer after how good she was …. little does she know, she is supposed to like wine!

This is something I didn’t do at Twin and I think it would have helped her relax a lot. She had about a 30 minute break after her lunge before it was time to tack up and walk up to the arenas. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the stabling area at Fresno is about a 10-ish minute walk to warm up. It’s kind of nice for a nice little warm up hack, but the path is deceptively long and I always feel like it takes longer than I plan for. Speaking of planning, after Twin I had a few items to add to my “horse show spreadsheet” and I am happy to say that this weekend I brought chapstick and a visor….and as a result I don’t have horribly chapped, flaky and sunburnt lips AND I didn’t get burned on my face! Yay! Anyway, back to our ride on Friday, Zin was seriously amazing. So light and soft in the bridle and relaxed over her topline. Both my trainer and myself were very happy with her, so we only rode for about 20 minutes before putting her away. My new trainer and I seem to both be of the mindset that “less is more” and I LOVE it. With dressage and Zin, she is really good up to the point she isn’t. At shows, we need to time it in such a way that we quit before she gets really naughty. This warm up day was 100% better than Twin, and I walked back to the stabling area on a loose rein with a happy and relaxed horse.

We also walked the course on Friday evening, and I am happy to report that once again everything looked small to me! I used to go to shows and everything looked WAY bigger than what I felt like we jumped at home. My trainer is really good about pushing us at home and jumping bigger things, and that way when we are at an event our level looks small (what a concept, right?!). The theme of the course was sticking to the basics – riding forward, in a rhythm while staying straight and looking up. I think the “hardest” part of the course were fences 15 and 16. Fence 15 was a black and orange cabin thing downhill to 16 which was a shark tooth fence. The downhill was a decent incline, but you had about 2-3 strides of flat ground before you jumped 16. I felt it was challenging, but fair and was overall really happy with the course. I’m still debating whether or not I’m going to get my Ride On Video’s , but if I do I’ll edit this blog with the link to the videos so you guys can see what the XC course looked like.

Inevitably, Saturday morning rolled around and it was time to get ready for dressage. I had braided and cleaned all of my tack Friday afternoon/evening, so I had a pretty stress free morning. I lunged Zin a bit just to get her moving (again, new strategy after learning what I did at Twin did NOT work). When I say I lunged Zin, I didn’t whip her and run her into the ground to get all of her energy out (not that you could run her out of energy), but instead I just let her trot and canter around and basically take the edge off. After tacking up, we headed up to dressage warm up at 11AM (our test was at 11:37). We walked around on bunch on a loose rein, did some stretchy trot work and cantered a bit, all on a connected but “stretchy” type rein. After walking a bit more, my trainer came up and we were ready to warm up. We worked a LOT on keeping her topline relaxed and managed to accomplish this by asking her to stretch down and seek the contact. Then, while keeping her back relaxed, slowly shorten the contact and ask her to come up. She did protest a bit to this, but overall was literally five hundred thousand percent better than she was in warm up for me two weeks ago. My trainer and I both agreed that next time, we should cut the dressage warm up even shorter. I know, I know, it sounds CRAZY but I’m learning that for dressage the less I do the better.

At 11:37 on the dot (I love when shows run on time!) Zin and I were trotting around the dressage court. We did a couple transitions to the walk, and I tried to keep her relaxed yet on the aids – which, by the way, is not an easy task! A cow bell rang, which signaled to me that it was time for us to begin our test. I took a deep breath, gave Zin a little scratch on neck and told myself to just relax and ride my best. We entered at A, already much more relaxed than our test 2 weekends ago. I rode the best I could and overall was really happy with my test. We struggled in places we have historically struggled – canter transitions, going from free walk to medium walk and then also keeping the medium walk (with no jigging!) before the trot transition. However, even though we did still struggle with these movements, I feel she was more rideable than she has been in the past. Also, another thing we need to work on is finishing our movements. For example, Zin had some of the best canter work she has given me in a test – soft, supple and relaxed …. until she wasn’t. So instead of getting a 7, we got a 6 and 6.5 with a comment of “above bit at end”……if I can just ride the entire movement, I know our scores will go up.

Overall, though, I was so pleased with her. As a whole, it was the most relaxed and ride-able I have felt her in the dressage court. I definitely need to go to some more local dressage schooling shows, just to get more comfortable riding in front of a judge. It felt like it took forever, but our scores were finally posted and we got a 41.9 to sit in 12th place out of 15 competitors. We didn’t break into the 30s this time around, but there was so much improvement and I definitely had a lot to be happy with! With the help of my new trainer, I know we will break into the 30s eventually, but until then I am happy with the path we are on! I need to keep remember that if it were easy, everyone would do it :).


Zinnie and I are all smiles after dressage! And I LOVE my custom made wine stock tie from StockBubble

Come back and visit tomorrow to find out how our stadium and cross country went! 😀