Thursday, September 28, 2017

Bathtime Tips and Tricks: Zoebird Edition

Do you want your horse to have luscious locks like Zoebird?
Then you should have gotten a horse with better genetics. JOKE'S ON YOU.

Giggle. I'm hilarious.

In all seriousness though, I live in a very challenging climate for hair--very dry, very, VERY dusty, sun that relentlessly sucks moisture out of skin and hair, and lots of fun static electricity. If you're like "wow that sounds like hair hell", well yes. It is.

Things that people with things like "humidity" and "clouds" can get away with don't fly here. Silicone-based products dry out hair, attract dust, and increase hair breakage. Goopy shampoos (I'm looking at you, Mane and Tail) and other similar options leave hair worse than you found it. (Also full disclosure: I am an unapologetic horse-hair-product snob who uses $2 shampoo on myself.)
can't argue with results tho

I think I've talked about Equifuse products before, but they are 100% the gold standard for primo equine hair care. You can order some of their line through Riding Warehouse (but not the things I like the best, which annoys me) or if you're local to me, you can contact the fabulous ladies at The Debonaire Mare for the full line up of products.

Anyways. Your next question is obviously "But SB! What products do I need??"

Here's what I do.


Step One: put a glob of the CFS coat shampoo in a bucket and dilute it with water. After wetting down horse, thoroughly sponge this in all over the horse's body, but ignore the mane and tail. We'll do those later.
photo by Equifuse

Noted: I treat the mane like the tail with the full conditioning treatment. If you are planning on braiding your horse's mane within a week of the bath, JUST USE CFS shampoo on it and NO CONDITIONER AT ALL.

Step Two: Rinse horse, bucket, and sponge.

Step Three: Take your Citrafoam Sulfate-Free shampoo and work up a lather in the mane and tail. I love this shampoo. It deep cleans without totally stripping the natural oils out and it rinses out so easily. None of that "spray the tail for 10 minutes straight and HOPE you got all the GODDAMN SOAP OUT to keep them from rubbing their tail". Nope. Lather in. Rinse out. Easy peasy.
photo by Equifuse
Step Four: rinse mane and tail

Step Five: Thoroughly work your CitraCreme conditioner into the mane and tail. This stuff is brilliant--it's lightweight and creamy and smells AMAZING and best part(!) moisturizes while leaving no residue. I try to use it about once a week in the heat of summer and it's freaking magical at preventing breakage from hair drying out. 
photo by Equifuse
Now the conditioner needs to soak in for a bit to get the full effect. I like to take this opportunity to do the next step.

Noted: if you're doing a bluing shampoo on white leg markings, this is also when I put it on so it can set up at the same time as the conditioner. 

Step Six: dilute Rehydrinse in 1-2 gallons of water in that bucket you already rinsed out. Apply to the horse's whole body (less the mane and tail) with the sponge you also rinsed out. 
photo by Equifuse
I'll be the first to admit that I looked sideways at "rinse" products. Like WTF rinsing is water taking the product off, not putting more products on? 

So don't think of it as a rinse if that's off-putting to you. It's like a super lightweight leave-in conditioner for the whole body that leaves the hair teddy-bear-soft without the gross slickness you get from things like Show Sheen. 

In the summer, I just put it on and let the horse drip dry while I do other things. Now that I'm contending with more hair, I scrape it off and still get that nice softening effect in the hair. 

Step Seven: rinse out the conditioner in the mane and tail (and any whitening products you left in). 

Hang in there. You're almost done. 

Step Eighth and Last: Put Gleam on your fingers pretty generously and run it through the mane (if you're conditioning the mane) and tail (no excuses). 
photo by Equifuse
Think of it this way--the CitraCreme conditioner does the deep conditioning. Gleam just kinda seals up the moisture and protects the hair. 

It's pretty fabulous. 

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I go from grabbing my wash bucket in the tack room to putting it back in under 30 minutes and the difference in Zoe's mane, tail, and coat is AMAZING. In the dry, hot summer I try to make time for a quick bath every weekend. September-May, it's just kinda on an as-needed, as-weather-allows basis.  
fall baths are a lot wetter

However. We're working ammies here so here are some short cuts for the days you can't just go full-on spa treatment. 

1) I can stretch time between baths if I spray the mane and tail with conditioner as part of my grooming routine. I use Tarra's recipe: put a glob of Gleam and a glob of CitraCreme conditioner in a spray bottle and mix with water. Shake well. Spritz daily. 

If you're a person who likes spraying shit on things, you can also buy the Shine Spray. I'm told it's more of a body-spray like Show Sheen or what have you. I call it $20 I don't need to spend. 

2) If you're on a REALLY TIGHT time frame and need to just get in and get out, you can totally get away with just spraying your horse down and throwing a little gleam in her tail. 
unrelated riding pic

NOTED: I am neurotic about not leaving sweat on a horse. It bleaches the coat, dries out the hair, and creates that nasty "brown panda" summer look that makes me gag. Wear helmet and rinse sweat: every time, every ride. 

Who else has a bathtime routine? (And if you now think I'm crazy, blame T who apparently thought I hadn't written enough bathing posts.) 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Bodies in Space

Ms. Zoebird is a baby mare and her middle name is not grace.

middle name might be "Effort" tho
And yeah, I want her to be my all-around horse, which means I want to jump her eventually.

At four (and a young four at that), I do not want her to jump high or often. It's too much stress for developing joints. Plus, she's butt high right now and as anyone who went through a growth spurt ever can attest (that's all of you except Leah?), changing bodies are murder on balance and body awareness.
that wither lift tho

I talk about this ad nauseum in person too--essentially, I'm completely changing up the little mare's routine and asking her to using her "carrying and pushing" muscles. If you've ever been a fatass (me) and then tried to get in shape (also me), you'll know that  building muscle is f@&%*** painful and takes a long ass time.

So not only is she in an awkward growth spurt, but the potential to make her sore with repetitive exercises she's not fit for (riding) is very high.

That's why we mix it up. This week, I had a fantastic ride with our BEST TROT WORK EVER.
baby mare very tired now
But see, after a hard riding day with lots of new material, it's time to do something else and let her "carrying" muscles have a break.

Here are some facts about Zoe:
1) she thinks jumping is FUN
1) she needs a little help with understanding where her body is in space sometimes
1) she needs a groundwork tune up maybe once a week to make sure she's tuned up

Did anyone else just hear "CAVALETTI DAY"? Cuz I did. 

If you're keeping track, yes I did just totally justify spending a day goofing off with my baby mare as a training day.

I know I say this every day and most of you probably want to punch me in my stupidly happy face, but this little lady is just so much fun. She shows up every day, she tries her hardest, and I can literally watch her learn. I'm definitely laughing at past-SB for thinking she needed a horse with more talent or whatever. Current-SB enjoys going to the barn every single day and P.S. is making a ton more progress than ever before.

PS saying PS reminded me that PS is making custom sized bridles now. Anyone with a money tree want to cough up $ so Zoe can have one? Possibly Zoe's mother has to quit buying shit for a while. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Goals, Updated

I keep getting asked what my goals with Zoe are.

I don't really know how to answer that.

The whole point of Zoe was to do something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT and have a horse that I could just have fun on, every single day.
trail ride!
And like.
first ride!
I do that already.
Sure, I have my long-term bucket-list type goals (event above BN, get my bronze medal on a horse I trained), but it has never mattered less to me whether those happen or not.

She nickers at me every day. She meets me at the gate. She trots up to me in the field. She's always game for an adventure.
So yeah, I mean. I guess we have goals. It's just that we're already achieving them.

Friday, September 22, 2017


Y'all know Topline Leather as the supplier of some of my most luxe equine tiaras. I have (of course) ordered Zoe her own custom piece, but in the interim, something fun happened.

Ok, full confession, these came on the radar back when I still had C and I was SUPPOSED to get a cool one to review and then do a sweet-ass giveaway. Buuuuuut in the intervening time, I got a Zoecorn who of course can't wear normal horse sizes.

Which means no unicorn bit for me.

But y'all still get a chance to win a 135mm (basically 5") loose ring or eggbutt snaffle unicorn bit!

action shot!
photo by  JJ Sillman
The rules are simple.

Go on instagram. 

Post a fail photo (or video) with hashtag #plzshareunicornmagic and tag @toplineleather and @sprinklerbandits. 

Contest opens when this post is published and closes 7 days later, at 7am MST on SEPTEMBER 29, 2017. Best entries will be posted here with link backs to their social media account and the winner will receive a unicorn bit from Topline Leather. 
i want it



Thursday, September 21, 2017

Training the Not-Hot Horse: Part the Second

As a person who's spent all of my time around horses with animals that were 50% or more thoroughbred, I had a lot of illusions about draft crosses. I think the biggest one for me was that because they weren't super reactive, they also weren't very intelligent.

And as a reasonably intelligent person, I didn't want to deal with a "dumb" animal.

Enter Zoe.
Training her is fascinating for me. Remember when she started putting on the (literal) brakes out of the blue?

Well except it wasn't out of the blue. What preempted that was me realizing that my goofy brain was going U GONE GIT RUNNED OFF WIT BECAUSE U GOT NO BRAKES, which is clearly ridiculous on a horse that stops when you stop kicking. But brains will do what brains will do, so I taught Zoe a one-rein stop to appease my brain. We literally did it three times one day.

Annnnnnd the next time she was ridden, she started doing the STOP AND FREEZE response.


So she not only learned it, but was also willing to show it off to me to prove that she understood.

That's actually pretty smart.

Another thing we've been working diligently on are our turn on the forehand/haunches. We do them on the ground, pre-ride, and then at the end of each ride. Except the other day I mixed it up and did them in the saddle at the beginning on the ride. Zoe was a champ, like usual, but then every time I asked her to halt (normally, not one rein haha), then put my legs on to ask her to go again...

...she started going sideways.

Like I'd asked her to earlier.
smartie. pants.
When I finally started to put it all together, I laughed. Here I was concerned that somehow the little lady wouldn't be "smart enough" for me and instead she's the smartest horse with the most try that I've probably ever worked with.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I Did A Thing & Had Some Thoughts

When I made a list of goals for this year, I tried to choose things that would challenge me, but still be achievable. I set as many personal goals as horse goals, because I have a long history of getting nowhere with horses.
you have no idea how hard i had to twist her arm to get this photo
her: it's bad luck to wear the shirt before the race!
me: but we're not gross and sweaty yet JUST PUT IT ON

Then I made the mistake of mentioning to Roxie’s mom that one of my goals was to run a half marathon.


So I signed up. Months ago. I told myself I would train, but my running shoes were dead and the one time I tried to run, I ended up limping for a week afterwards, courtesy of said shoes.

Maybe that should have been a sign. Maybe not.
even Zoe thinks it's not a great plan

Regardless, three days before the race, I finally made it to the running store and bought shoes (on sale). The sales’ lady’s face made a pretty priceless expression when I told her I was “getting started” and that my goal race was a half marathon that weekend. But I digress.

So I went. And I did it. And I’m trying to un-jumble my thoughts about it, because apparently the post-race stupids are a real thing.
i also wore a donut like a tutu

1) Emotional awareness. Pre-race, I had about an hour and a half to kill by myself before my distance started. Now remember. This is a fun run. I did not train for it. I had no expectations of “doing well” and was simply out there to meet a goal I’d set for myself. No matter what I did, it was going to be a Personal Best, because I have simply never done this distance before in any capacity.

I spent the entire hour and a half kind of agitated and nervous. “Washing out”, we’d call it in a racehorse. I’d like to think that because I was aware of it, I was more able to make good choices and control it, but the truth was that I was really nervous.

And if I’m that nervous to do something like that on my own, how exactly am I translating that to my horse under saddle?
one of them trained. one of them is a blerch.

2) Conditioning matters. Obviously, I did not train by any understanding of the word. Conditioning and strength building are something I talk about in terms of horse development all the time, but actually feeling the effects myself put it in perspective I think.

I’ve been coasting along this year and not addressing rider fitness. That’s not ok.

this man was having a fabulous time

3) Individual goals are diverse and important--I get annoyed by all the online bashing of “she’s not a real horseperson because we have different end goals with our horses” stuff that goes around. It was real funny to watch that play out over 13.1 miles. Some people walked. Some people sprinted. Some people brought friends. Some people were alone.



all sweaty and grossified

4) Finishing together is awesome. In an event I could not possibly have planned, Roxie’s mom (who ran the full marathon, which started before the half) caught me about a half mile before the finish and then we crossed the finish line together.

We were going stupidly fast because she is a crazy person and I nearly threw up on her and/or the nice man handing out medals, but it was so much more fun to finish with a friend. And know that no matter what, I gave it my best on that day. It wasn't about who went farther or who was better--it was about accomplishing something together.

next let's accomplish buying custom boots together

As an equestrian, I find it very easy and even therapeutic to throw myself into the “horse” side of the equation every day, be that tack, training, planning, or what have you. All that is important, but it doesn’t address the human side, which is a very real problem.

For me, this means that I want to change the way I address sport in my own life--I want to be stronger and fitter and I want to figure out the whole race day mental game aspect. When it’s Zoe and I stepping into the show ring, I want to be a solid partner for her, not just blindly hoping she can carry my lazy ass through.
champion of finishing real slow

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I Went Shopping (again)

I've been promising a tack write-up, so here goes an explanation of Zoe's latest outfit acquisition. 
she is cartoon pony
Labor Day weekend was... stressful... so I voted to allow myself one good, solid splurge on related tack sales. I'd just started riding Zoe bareback, so I was leaning towards that Thinline Bareback Pad that I have wanted since the Izzy days. It was 20% off with free shipping, which is tempting. 


There was a local tack trailer (that I love) at a local show (that I was going to). I waited to pull the trigger on the pad until I got to the trailer to peruse their selection. I was the first customer up the ramp like WHAT HAVE WE HERE when the owner took the one bridle I've been drooling on for well over a year now and stuck it on the sale rack. 

It was still substantially more than the bareback pad. And I have a Zoe bridle. 

teeny supports local shows. unrelated man supports teeny.
Plus I explained how Zoe is a custom fit girl and the shop owner was 100% on board with letting me try it on her and then swapping out parts to get the fit right.

Plus notorious spend-thrifts Alyssa and Nadia were both on site. They always tell me no to everything (and are like "spend your money on lessons/shows" because they are haters) but they both saw the bridle and the sale price and went "yeah the bareback pad will always be there GET THE BRIDLE".

When hell freezes over, you don't question it. You just get your skates and go for it. 

 (Leah and T were obv on board as well. I believe they voted for "both".) 
my trunk is busy, ok?
Unfortunately, the downside to having a SMOOSHY FACE to shop for is that I don't have smooshy measurements memorized (yet) and I'm not solid at just eyeballing her size either. 

I pranced out to the barn the next day. Put the bridle on the Zoe. 
Zoebird is not impressed
...and found out that apparently it was dinosaur sized. Whoops. Fortunately, my mobile tack shop lady makes barn visits and when I sent her the photo, she brought me the next size down. Ladies and (maybe) gents, I give you Zoe in a horse sized bridle:
Dear bridle makers: if your horse size fits my 100% custom mare face, you are doing it wrong. 

So that happened. And that was certainly enough. I pretty well blew the stress shopping budget out of the water there. 

But I was wandering around the internet, as one does, and I ran across a saddle that Roxie's mom and I had discussed as a potentially good fit for Zoe. It looked like it would work for me. It looked like it would work for Zoe. It was priced at like 40% of what I'd expect given the brand and condition. And yeah, there were like 7 people in front of me in line for it. 

So I kinda forgot about it for a few days, then followed up. 

And got an invoice. 

And then a box. 
quite a box
A real big box. 
i should have made a better selfie face. oh well.
With a fancy dressage saddle inside. 

Again, I pranced out to the barn to dress up Ms. Zoebird.
baby mare!
And uh. Does she look like a fantastic little future dressage mare or what? 

I regret nothing. 

And if you're looking for my checking account, it's definitely not in the shallow grave in my back yard. HUSH YOU.

Monday, September 11, 2017

On Sharing and Oversharing

Blogging is such a funny part of my life. It's ostensibly a way for me to track my progress with my horse, but obviously I could do that just as easily with a calendar and a sharpie.

And I chose to do it here.

So there's more to it than just the static "this, then that" dry routine wrap-ups. I like people (usually), I like interaction, and I value the many friends I've made through the blogging world. For me, blogging is so much more than a training log.

There's a tension to it though--part of being public about this aspect of my life invites the internet to comment on it. For the most part, I'm pretty easy-come, easy-go about the unsolicited advice which is very definitely a part of blogging. I get lots of it. Most of it is well-intentioned. Some is humorously bad. Some is spot on. Some is malicious and/or crazy.
lil side eye for that
At the end of the day, that's just the cost of doing business (as it were) in a public forum. People say things. If I can't handle people saying things, then I need to not be quite as open and public about what I share.

Plus, I'll be the first to tell you that I love blog comments. It still amazes me that so many friends, strangers, and future-friends take the time out of their day to read what I have to say, and share their insights. Even rather-misguided comments usually give me a good laugh.
always find the fun
What's more, I am occasionally contacted by people (some I know, some I don't) who tell me how my silly horse blog helped them through a rough patch in their own life, horsey or otherwise. That's not something I take lightly. I aspire to be honest about the reality of horses and life as an adult amateur and the knowledge that it resonates with another human being across the world is one of those moments where I realize just how not-alone I am.

I am making some different choices in my life right now, and that has me questioning the hows and whys of my usage of social media. There are certain things I'm tired of sharing, that I want to hold on to as "mine and no one else's".

I go back and forth on blogging--it definitely takes time and energy to do well. Both of those are at a premium in my life right now. It also involves a level of vulnerability and honesty that I'm okay with some days and not others.
always ok with this tail tho
Ultimately though, the reason I'm still here is the same reason I started blogging in the first place--the people. Life is too hard to live in a vacuum, so having people come alongside and say "hey, I've been there too" is what keeps me going.

So thank you, Blogosphere.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Life in the Death Haze

I'm lucky I don't live in the parts of the US that are being wrecked by hurricanes, however, I do live in the part that's drowning in smoke from burning something in excess of a million acres this fire season alone. It's basically like living inside a chain smoker's lungs.
don't you seen the downtown skyline? the mountains? i swear they're over there


The sun doesn't rise.

The smoke just gets a lil brighter.

And since neither I nor Zoe wants to die of emphysema, we've been exploring things to do that don't involve increased respiration.
so round!!

Toodling is always on the agenda. Bareback toodling, even. I can say we're being productive and working on my balance and staying in the middle while building trust and developing Zoe's walk/halt/walk transitions.

Or I can be real and say while those things may apply, I'm loving every minute of having a cool baby mare that I can just pop on bareback with no prep and toodle with.
she's getting a bridle a month at this rate. 

And this is me we're talking about, so naturally there was some very-appropriate tack shopping.

(Me: I need to spend less money.
Me: I will not buy a specialty saddle for a baby horse.

I'll do a better write-up when things arrive. Promise. The stress shopping has been a bit... intense?



My smoke will go on, or what have you.

Which is why we took another day to keep it low key and play in the previously spooky indoor arena.

Question: what do smooshy noses not go on?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Story About Baby Horses

Last Friday, Alyssa came over to play with Zoë and I. She's a super riding badass (who is going to championships at TRAINING LEVEL EVENTING this week omg) and she totally talked me in to riding my baby mare bareback for the first time.
also annual gameday photos
I toodled around like wheeeeeee omg imma die THERE ARE NO WITHERS HALP and ZB was perfectly fabulous. 

Then because I'm the best friend ever I was like ALYSSA NEEDS A TURN. 
yeah she just gets on my baby bareback in shorts and does this
After said fabulousity, Zoë stopped. And Alyssa was like "she's stuck" and I was like "pssh kick her you tiny penguin". 
oh yeah she's four and it's her first time bareback
Instead Alyssa messed around on her and I thought nothing of it and we all went on our merry way. 



So the next time I came out to ride, I hopped on and we were marching around at a going walk. 
no under saddle pics so admire her Zoë cuteness
And all of a sudden.

She stopped. 

Not just lost her balance.

Full-on planted her feet and grew roots like a hundred year old oak tree. 

There was no kicking or scooting or breaking her loose or changing her balance to move her. 

I finally had a barnmate ride over and loan me her dressage whip. 

We repeated that lesson many times that day.
the Zozo Brain
And the next time I rode her, I carried a whip from the get go and she never offered to stall out once. 

Babies are magical!

PS also don't assume your friend is just weak and can't kick because clearly that is not the case.
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