Rocking E Cowgirl 10 Questions Blog Hop

Rocking E Cowgirl is keeping it interesting with these 10 questions!

What is your earliest, clearest horse memory?
Visiting the Budweiser Clydesdales when I was 4. I tried to run up to one. My mom had to grab me and pick me up so I could pet them, while pushing my brother around in a stroller. I have never not been obsessed with horses, and I think those Clydesdales cemented my coat color preference in horses right away–blood bay with some chrome.

Describe the perfect summer day.
One with access to cold beer and air conditioning.

Are you reading anything right now? Tell me about it!
The Castle of Wolfenbach by Eliza Parsons — one of the seven “horrid novels” listed in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. I love Gothic fiction. I am also trying to read a bunch of other stuff, but this book is short and holding my attention the most right now.

Do you follow a celebrity (horsey or non) that you’re embarrassed to say fascinates you? Tell me. NOW.
Dear James Comey,
Please write a book.

What is your single most biggest horsey dream or goal?
Really just to keep doing what I’m doing for as long as possible.

If you were at Starbucks right now, what would you order?
An almond croissant.

What is your biggest equine pet peeve?
Pet peeve that horses do: cribbing
Pet peeve that people do around horses: leaving halters hooked up to the cross ties–especially annoying if it’s a rope halter, which why are you crosstie-ing a horse in a rope halter?!?!?!

With everything going on politically and in the media, tell me, do you follow it religiously? Tune it out? Or something in between?
Obsessively following. Make no mistake … That awkwardly-scripted “cabinet meeting” yesterday? That is what fascism and despotism look like. This is worse than Watergate because a hostile foreign power is implicated. The First Amendment could not be more important than it is right now.  I recommend EVERYONE watch the film All the President’s Men. Or read the book.

If you had to show your horse to a song, what would you choose?
I’m just really into Duran Duran’s “Rio” right now so probably that, although I am not sure how much that would go with a hunter round?

What are you most looking forward to this summer?
Cold beer and air conditioning.


Favorite Exercises

Amanda posted yesterday about her favorite exercises both on the flat and over fences, and asked us the question: what are our favorites?


Hands down, I love working on the counter canter. Performing a correct counter canter does so much for the horse and rider — improves balance, strengthens the hind-end, heightens body awareness, and incorporates all the “natural” aids and being able to use them independently (meaning hand, seat, and leg, not necessarily a crop or spur).

I periodically work at counter canter on both leads, although not daily. When I do work on it, it’s not for very long–just long enough to make sure Eli’s hind end is working right and he’s listening AND I am telling him the right thing. Sometimes I forget to use my seat and he falls into a trot. I don’t have a problem with him swapping out during the counter canter, at least!

Over Fences

I have written about his one before: I love the tight oxer-to-oxer two-stride exercise, described in great detail in an article by Peter Pletcher, a Houston-area hunter/jumper trainer.

3’6″ peter grid 1 from patentlybay on Vimeo.

First off, it’s fun. Second, it’s simple. Third, it works.

Two oxers, 33′-34′ apart. Canter in and let the horse back himself off. I add a cross-rail in front sometimes, same distance–this makes it a little easier to get to the deeper distance you want coming into the first oxer. It is more of a challenge for me without the cross-rail, so I think doing it both with and without is a good way to help establish that elusive “feel” for it that we all chase after.

Can’t wait to read about everyone else’s favorites!


December’s 10 Questions

Thank you for providing a content-generation machine on a monthly basis, L.

Does your horse need shoes?


What do you think of the barefoot vs shoes debate?
Debate away, debaters. My jumping horses will never not be shod.

Favorite season for riding?
Not winter.

How many shows do you think you’ve gone to?
I showed multiple times a year between the ages of 10 and 29, and have started showing again these past couple years. Enjoy that math because I’m not doing it.

Do you consider yourself a good rider?
I am competent on most days, and usually ride much better on horses I don’t own.

How experienced do you think someone needs to be to own a horse?
I don’t think experience is as important as being willing to learn and willing to allow a professional to help throughout ownership, including the buying process. How else do you get experience?

Have you ever gotten into a fight with your trainer?
Sure, with many of the trainers I have ridden with, although not often. You work closely with someone long enough in a difficult sport you might run into a snag here and there about something.

Describe your dream horse.
A healthy, sound one with a go button and good form over fences, Thoroughbred athleticism, and and a bomb-proof brain. Let me just go find $675,000 right quick …


Does anyone in your family ride?
Currently just me, although my mom is also horse crazy. My aunt rode as a child, too. My Dad worked around horses as a teen but I am not sure how much he rode. My younger brother took lessons for a while, but it wasn’t for him.

If you could ride any horse in the world, which one would it be? why?
I may have a slight obsession with Kent Farrington’s Creedence right now. This answer changes almost monthly.


Last week, Emma posted about notorious stallions and how a few of them show up in her horse’s pedigree. I have grown more and more curious with Thoroughbred pedigrees over the years … considering I have owned a few off-track characters this shouldn’t be surprising.

But then, I am not really looking at racing pedigrees for racing talent. I am more curious to find what results in jumping talent! No doubt any Thoroughbred can clear a 3′ fence and all have the athleticism to perform in a variety of horse sports, but what do Thoroughbred pedigrees show as far as athleticism to excel at jumping, in scope, form, carefulness, and willingness?


There’s not really an answer, other than possibly to notice patterns in the pedigrees of ex-racehorses you have had your own experiences with. Based on my personal experience, I tend to lean toward both Danzig and Alydar progeny as showing jumping talent. Even so, it’s a guessing game, as both stallions were prolific, especially Alydar. These are pedigrees cultivated out of a desire to breed top talent on the racetrack. These are not the pedigrees of top showjumping mounts, curated for scope, although Thoroughbred blood heavily influences many of those pedigrees. (You’ll want to click on the pedigree to make it bigger.)



I knew Eli had jumping talent before I set eyes on his pedigree, and only after the fact did his pedigree confirm any inklings I might still have toward a preference for Danzig and Alydar progeny. But I can also see that’s all on his sire’s side. I am less familiar with his dam’s lines, although his dam earned about what Eli did racing in fewer starts.

For former racehorses in new careers, we can really only work backwards, take educated guesses and possibly start to recognize patterns over time if we are looking for clues in the pedigrees about jumping talent.

I know Emma’s post related more to temperament than talent, but we all know I have a little, let’s say, flexibility when it comes to temperament as long as the talent is there. When I look back at the pictures of the sires in Eli’s pedigree I am most struck by, of course, Danzig and the look not only of arrogance, but utter contempt for everything coloring the horse’s countenance. Secondly, however, I am completely captivated by the conformation, fine head, and air of magnanimity and composure of his dam’s sire, Irish Tower.  No idea how I got all that out of one picture, but after taking another long look at Eli’s pedigree thanks to Emma, I might be curious to follow Irish Tower progeny in the future, too.


Excuse me, could you just pop over this 4′ square oxer right quick? I wanna see something …

If Thoroughbred pedigrees have you overwhelmed, stoke that confusion fire by reading this gem on Danzig and his far-reaching influence! You can also click through all the way back to foundation stallions on your horse’s pedigree on the Thoroughbred Database. You will probably get to the Darley Arabian and recognize a few names on your way back. I know most of y’all probably already know all this, but for first-time TB owners or people who have never searched for their Thoroughbred online, I hope this helps!

And if you’re interested in finding video or photos of your own Thoroughbred ex-racehorse but don’t know how, look up your horse’s Jockey Club name on Equibase. If your fur kid raced like mine did, check the Results tab for racetracks. From there, you can watch replay video from the tracks’ websites if your fur kid is young enough (Eli is, just barely)! To watch the video directly from Equibase, you’d need a membership. After watching a few races with Eli in them, I have a little idea about where his fear of/angst about crops may have originated. Coady Photography also allows you to search by Jockey Club names, which reminds me–I need to go buy that one winner’s circle picture of Eli that I found!



November’s 10 Questions

A great list of questions from L of Viva Carlos, as always!

How old is the youngest/greenest horse you’ve ridden?
2. In a round pen.

How old is the oldest horse you’ve ridden?
Erm, who knows how old the lesson horses I first rode were … maybe 26-27-ish?


Were you scared of horses when you first started riding?
Not that I remember.

Would you say you’re a more nervous rider or a confident rider?
Not nervous. More just comfortable on a horse than truly confident.

Biggest pet peeve about non-horse people around horses?
“Can I ride your horse?”

A time you’ve been scared for your life? (horse related)
Any of the times a horse stood up with me.

Have you ever fallen off at show? What happened?
Yep, more than once. The time I remember most was when my green-ish jumper kind of peeked at something outside the ring as we were approaching the first fence, and I didn’t get his attention back in time. He half-jumped/half-stopped and I fell into the jump. Got up holding the bridle. Another trainer caught the horse and brought him over to me with his belt as a lead while my trainer yelled at me for jumping up the neck, which I had not done and I insisted we watch the tape together. My trainer realized I did not jump up the neck. I told him to yell at me for not using my leg because that’s what actually happened.

What’s a breed of horse you’ve never ridden but would like to ride?

Describe the worst behaved horse you’ve ridden?
Probably a supposedly but completely not broke small pony. I could not stay on the damn thing.


The most frustrating ride you’ve ever had?
It was cross-country schooling with a trainer who wanted me to jump my horse over a jump I didn’t want to jump. I had zero frustration as a result of my horse, 100% frustration related to the trainer. I never did jump that jump. I left that barn and switched disciplines shortly after. Haven’t really had a truly frustrating ride since, just a few challenging ones but I don’t mind that.

October Ten Questions

Thank you, L, for asking the fun questions, as always!

What do you consider “jumping high” for yourself? 1.15m & up. I honestly don’t jump higher than 1.15m anymore and compete much lower right now.

What are your short term goals for riding? Do you think you’ll reach them? I primarily ride for fun now, so I don’t actively make goals very much, other than have fun at a show, try not to die, don’t look like an idiot too much, etc.


Long term goals for riding? Do you think you’ll reach them? More dressage. Maybe even compete at dressage again? Eli is not likely the right horse for that, so it’s not on the immediate horizon.

How many barns have you been at in your riding career? 4 or 5.

How many different trainers have you been with in your riding career? Same as above, I guess?

Ever worked at a barn? What did you do? Yes. Teach. & odds & ends. Also fed on the weekends as a teenager and was a working student around the same time.

Scariest thing that has happened at your barn? The threat of fire in dry conditions terrifies me. I am also always scared/afraid/worried/stressed when a horse either colicks or gets cast. And one time a random stranger jogged onto the barn property and tried to ride a boarder’s horse while she was grazing the mare … just hearing that freaked me out. The boarder stayed super calm and the barn owner intervened; nothing terrible came of it or anything, it was just one of those weird, random things.  The guy was maybe a little not right in the head, apparently had no clue what he was doing was wrong/threatening/unsafe.

Have you ever given a lesson? What level was the rider? Yes. Mostly beginners, some intermediate … then, I don’t know, what’s the line of demarcation for going from intermediate to advanced?


What is your opinion on the accuracy of critiquing riders online? There are people who offer constructive criticism and then there are assholes. And everyone is one of those things to someone.

What is the ideal height of a horse for you? 16hh-16.3hh.

August’s 10 Questions

1. What is your biggest source of caffeine that gets you through the day? (drink, not just brand)

COFFEE. Many coffees.


2. Do you honestly think your trainer is the best trainer for you?

Right now for me and my current horse, absolutely. For all time, I had that trainer for 15 years, and my current trainer is his sister. I would still be riding with him, I’d imagine, if he were here today.

3. One token of advice a fellow rider/trainer/horse person told you that you still remember to this day.

WHO JUMPS FIRST. (Hear that enough, and it kind of stands out over everything else.)

4. If riding meant costing your family so much money that they’d be basically on poverty line, or making your family terribly unhappy (if they were not supportive or understanding, etc.) would you still do it?

Fuck yeah I would.

5. (Girls) would you ride while pregnant?

Never going to be pregnant, but if I were I would still ride until I was too big to haul myself into the tack.


6. How do you tell when a horse likes someone/has bonded with you or someone else?

I kind of just go by what people tell me. About Eli, some people say, “oh, that horse loves you,” and I’m like, okay, but not enough to stop trying to bite me, so …

7. Are horses capable of loving, in your opinion?

I believe they are.

8. If you could have one horse from your past come back for 5 minutes, who would it be, why, and what would you do with them in those 5 minutes?

Gah. This is an agonizingly difficult question to answer, because I am a forward-looking individual. There is more than one horse I would like 5 more minutes with, but at what cost to my psyche at the prospect of saying goodbye twice? Apparently, even 21 years was not enough with Anchor. I’d take 5 more minutes of his snuggles/maulings for treats in a heartbeat. And maybe some blood for DNA so I can clone him. I thought I wouldn’t want to clone him, but now I’m like, eh, that might be pretty sweet. And then I wonder, well could I handle him as a stallion? Populate my world with pink Anchor babies? And then I stop myself, because there is no way on earth to recreate my experiences with Anchor. Not everything is a result of DNA. Back to the no cloning policy.


9. Should a trainer also be a friend, or should it be a student/teacher relationship?

I have been friends with most of my trainers. I really think it depends on the individuals involved and how mature they are, and how good they are at keeping a business relationship separate from a friendship. Honestly, I would be very suspicious of a trainer who tried to befriend me right away and started acting all chummy, but I am suspicious of anyone who does that generally (like beyond just being cordial). But developing a friendship over time outside of a working relationship seems pretty normal to me.

10. One piece of advice/training you were given by a trainer or mentor that you look back on now and view it as incorrect?

Hmmmm, there is more than one thing … some of them are just old wives’ tales that have since been demonstrated to be absolutely wrong, some of them are training methods or pieces of equipment that I want no part of now but may not be all that bad. Some of them are treatments that were accepted or even recommended by veterinarians that I just wouldn’t do now. So I am trying to think of a piece of advice that is basically an opinion that I agreed with a while ago but don’t now. The best I can come up with is that years ago, I accepted the approach to horse training as a way of dominating a horse into subservience and that horses were not allowed opinions and would be reprimanded for anything out of line regardless of why. I completely disagree with this now, and I am more interested in forming a partnership with a horse, allowing a horse to think for himself, building trust, and staying calm, persistent, empathetic, and emotionless when a horse is being “difficult.” I want to know why now, instead of just assuming it doesn’t matter. It does matter.