Global Backyard-Horse Day

Take part in celebrating Global Backyard-Horse Day!

Maybe it’s not all that official.  No balloons or flags.  Yet.

But it is a thing now!

global backyard horse day

Taking my butt-high, behind-the-leg Butter Melt Mare to be all that she can be – so can you!

Go forth without fear.

Observe the day any way you like! Show us your backyard horse!  Links in comments are fair game. 🙂

Report from the weekend show coming right up!

The 5 Stages Of Dressage Show Panic

The Dressage Show – months of lessons and hours of practice at home all lead up to this.

The perfectly groomed horse, the spotless rider (Oh please!) and the effortless warmup.  For some, it’s actually more of a really sweaty, overexciting, super-draining day, with more feelings of feverish distress than “elegance.”

If you’re getting ready to trot down the Centerline, the following list of Stages of Panic is a great preparatory cheat sheet.

did such a fun job earlier this spring with her article The 7 Stages of Panic When Your Trainer Raises the Fences on Eventing Nation.  Here’s a brazen knockoff of her idea from a dressage perspective.

1*. The “No Biggie” Stage.

At first arrival, things seem just peachy.  The energy at the showground is a little higher than for a normal schooling day, but it’s fairly quiet and seems like a smallish, easy show.

Rider’s attitude at this point:  Whatever. No biggie, you’ve got this.

dressage show panic

2*. The “Ehh, Ummm” Stage.  
Somehow all the horses look much more polished, together, supple and powerful as soon as you get in the warmup arena.  
Rider’s attitude at this point:  Well, this is interesting. Are you sure all these pairs are showing at our lower level?  Hmm, we’ve still got this.  Totally.  Just warm up as usual, never mind the passage over there.
horse show nerves
3*. The “I’m Out Of My League” Stage
Slooowly, a bit of panic starts creeping in.  Issues from earlier schooling rides are popping up.  And they’re bigger now.  Maybe it’s time to reconsider showing at this level..?  There’s just no way you’re ready for this, you can’t even go straight.
Rider’s attitude at this point:  Is my horse going be a complete tense ball like this the whole test?  Man, yes, she’s going to be all tense!  We’re 45 seconds out from the bell ringing and I know for sure she’s going to be tense.  Just half halt…  soften…  half halt…   
Wait, what’s a half halt?
4*. The “Why Did I Sign Up For This?” Stage.
Your horse seems to completely forget everything you’ve practiced for the past several months.  (Or make that a year.)  Staggering on to the centerline just strides out from halting at X, you’re so busy trying to go straight while also questioning the sanity of showing a completely untrained horse, everything else is blurry and there’s NO breathing going on.  
Rider’s attitude at this point:  I’ve obviously overestimated my skills.  10 years, and there are no skills.surviving dressage shows
5*. The “Just Do It” Stage.  
Making the turn at C, there’s no turning back.  Half shocked you’re still on the horse and actually know the next movement, fake confidence or not, you’re all business.  And it’s happening!  
Rider’s attitude at this point:  Make the best of this situation!  You’re doing it!  Ride like no one’s watching, but better. 🙂  Forward!

Go out of your comfort zone!

Thistle Thursday Heat

The kinds of heat.

Of all the hundred different kinds of snow, there are only about five different kinds of heat.

First, the kind of heat that’s welcoming.

Balmy, wavering, not entirely convincing.  Beneath it all, there’s a promise of 10 degrees cooler at any time.  As soon as it’s past 6 pm, a small shrill around your shoulders in a thin tank top.

thistle dressage

Next, there’s beginner heat.

Fooling any winter hardy to think it’s actually hot.  Sweaty, over-warm, super-hot, how-can-we-go-on?!-kind of heat.

It’s the heat you think you’re in when just visiting someplace warm from up north, realizing it’s only May…

riding outdoors

The third type of heat is where fingers sort of puff up, legs feel heavy, wet hair dries in 10 minutes, and anyone who has a choice plunges into a pool.

riding in thistles

Quick break in the heat study – how awesome is Valiosa here?! For every crazy difficult ride, this makes up for it all.


more forward horse outside

The fourth kind of heat is the humid type.

Drenched, dripping, breathing heavy, after just picking out four hooves and grooming.  Clothes clammy while tacking up, strange green growth pops up on the barn wood and on any tack almost overnight.

Georgia, Missouri, Florida – any place else you live inside a sponge?  Walking feels like moving in molasses.

horse in thistles
Marquise Muffin Top and prickly thistles.

The fifth kind of heat – The dry, lizard-like hotness with birds gaping, panting, with open beaks.

Exterior walls radiate heat, steel shelters are like little ovens, even in the shade inside, and metal burns to the touch.  No cooling even if the air moves.

Wind is a hairdryer down the throat, eyes crackly from no humidity at all.

We’re not quite there yet – this year has been the easiest spring/summer.

Gray mare, being a little gem!

riding on uneven ground

Gray Horse Overdose

There was this handsome visitor.

Such a gorgeous PRE.

gray pre stallion

Gray horses nestle their way in once you own one.  It’s what they do.  At first, no early sign of addiction.

Then, you find yourself taking pictures of other gray horses…

gray andalusian stallion

Maybe there is a problem…


Tomorrow – Thistle Thursday!

Come back to see what that’s all about 🙂 gray horse in thistles

riding in thistles

Trending Mare Things That Need To End Now

Mare Habits

  • Snubbing almost every supplement.
  • Sniffing the manure shovel and then spooking at it.
  • Sharting when you pick the hinds.
  • Slobber-muzzle rubbing across clean shirts.
  • Standing heat.
  • Scrubbed tails, where the top ends up looking like a pine cone.



Spanking new supple stirrup leathers make up for it all!  Soft and awesome!  Pinecone tail in the background…

supple stirrup leathers