Can’t Stop Scrolling

Admittedly, I am an Instagram addict. I find all kinds of worthwhile things via Instagram. Some of what’s caught my eye this week …

 

An all navy Palo Alto long sleeve top? Um. Yes. This post even makes me want to wear white breeches just for fun. Weird.

I avidly follow Scott Brash. He even posts endearingly cute barn videos of his horses playing with muck rakes and such. But I have a conundrum … I like Scott Brash but I dislike clowns and he just used the clown emoji so now I’m conflicted.

I haven’t googled the hashtag and I have no idea why this picture exists but I think my life is markedly better for it. And I know I have said this before, but Leonardo DiCaprio is literally trying to save the world. His foundation’s Instagram is pretty badass, too.

It’s weird to me, how much I enjoy Elon Musk’s Instagram posts. He comes off as a regular guy who is just really into his job. His job being the future.

Holy beaded belt.

And last, if you haven’t ordered from breeches.com yet, you get 15% off your first order with coupon code SAS15P!

I won a thing!

I missed late last year that I won Day 1 of the Horse & Style 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway. Thankfully, someone with Horse & Style messaged me through Facebook to let me know! I feel a little slow on the uptake for not checking the Horse & Style Facebook page earlier, but better late than never.

12days2016
Now I get a set of Mango Bay belts and tee shirts! I love the belts and can’t wait to get these and match them to the right pair of breeches. I just had occasion to feel the material of some of the tee shirts in person and they are super soft. I love all of the designs so I am very excited about winning this!

The Horse & Style 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway is my favorite of the holiday season–it’s a great way to find new equestrian brands and reacquaint with established ones.  They always have good prizes.

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?

george

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?
FRIESIANS!!!!

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.

pinnedears

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.

Zero Tolerance

Unfortunately, I have to remind everyone of what transpired at Fair Hill, and that is, that a horse ran the majority of a cross-country course with a visibly bloody mouth.

Whether or not this was handled within the rules, while important, is not the defining characteristic of this incident. Hiding behind vaguely-worded rules doesn’t exempt you from scrutiny, doesn’t absolve you of a moral obligation to protect a horse’s welfare. A horse’s welfare should be paramount. I understand that yes, sometimes a horse bites its tongue, or sustains a small nick that doesn’t affect performance or bother the horse much. I also understand that a zero tolerance policy would mean elimination or disqualification for some in this category, but it would also mean elimination or disqualification for more questionable instances, more severe injuries. Whether the FEI will act remains to be seen as far as clarifying the eventing blood rule to address bloody-mouthed horses more consistently.

Honestly, I was not surprised that there were both defenders AND detractors of how this situation at Fair Hill was handled (seems like far more detractors, but my social media experience is biased toward me being friends with and following people I like, admire, agree with, etc.). What struck me most was a few commenters on social media had alarmingly casual attitudes toward a horse biting its tongue, even repeatedly. Sure, accidents happen. But seriously, what are you even doing if you have multiple horses “bite their tongues” on multiple occasions during competition in the space of only a year? I have been riding avidly for 30 years, competing across disciplines the majority of that time albeit at the lower levels, and not once have I seen anything like that much blood drain from a horse’s mouth for that long from a bitten tongue at any level, not without a rider being stopped. (I also think saying things like, “no big deal, racehorses do it all the time” does not further your argument for supporting the leniency that has been afforded one event rider in particular over the past year. Racehorses also deserve better.)

Out of a desire to hear honest answers from riders, in hopes of restoring my faith in the idea that most horse people do, in fact, put their horses first, I hastily crafted an admittedly poorly-worded poll for people to share their thoughts. I probably shouldn’t have tried to word answers to fit all disciplines, because I think that means the hypothetical situations fell short of reality. However, I did get some answers, and for the most part people would not want to compete on a horse bleeding from the mouth. Not exactly earth-shattering, but then why can’t the rules reflect this? Why must we put officials in precarious positions of deciding whether a horse and rider continues or doesn’t based solely on their best judgment in a high-pressure moment? That’s a LOT of pressure and responsibility. Why not offer more guidance, and clarity, in the rules? Allow the officials to shoulder the responsibility with a little more help from what’s on paper? Both the FEI dressage and jumper blood rules have more specificity of wording and additional guidance toward application. Eventing could follow suit easily enough, right? Why is the idea that furthering horse welfare at the expense of riders involved in a few minor incidents in order to catch the truly egregious ones so untenable to some people? Is less regulation really better if it means horses compete while injured, bleeding, or unquestionably in pain? There is no bright line now in eventing. I wish there were, for the sake of all competing horses and the integrity of the sport. I am sure zero tolerance is not the right answer for eventing, due to the nature of the sport, running cross-country in particular. But turning a blind eye and hiding behind a rule with a cavernous grey area falls abysmally short of holding horse welfare as the highest priority.

The poll itself does not supply a large enough data set to be useful beyond satisfying my own curiosity, but it does show proof of concept–ask people!–that some riders have their own zero tolerance policies regardless of an organization’s rules, and maybe wouldn’t hesitate to compete under such a rule. The poll, complete results, and complete comments are here. The IP addresses are visible under the individual responses tab, but no other identifying information is available. I hope this poll gave people a chance to voice their opinions in a less volatile environment than Facebook, and gave people an opportunity to voice opinions they might not otherwise have shared.

pollq1This poll has significant failings. I tried to make a one-size-fits-all-poll applicable to a variety of disciplines, and that was stupid, as some of the answer choices of the first question were worded in such as way as to be unlikely to happen for certain disciplines. The choices are most definitely skewed toward hunter/jumper situations, as that is what I have the most experience with and my recollection is not so expansive as to remember otherwise. More than one participant in the poll pointed this out, which I appreciate. I probably should have asked eventers and dressage riders (because that’s who I know) to review the questions first before posting for relevancy. I also could have asked people which discipline they compete, to see if that has any bearing on their answers. Live and learn. Perhaps a better poll could be developed out of this concept.

Regardless, I am gratified to see that many people–the majority in this tiny sample–would most definitely not want to compete on a horse that might be injured, and would determine the horse’s health status first. I think reading the individual responses is well worth the time, as many participants made excellent points about various factors, such as the nature of the injury or a trainer’s influence. I was surprised that no one selected to contest an official decision–perhaps the wording of the question didn’t adequately express the type of situation I was thinking of (I didn’t mean argue with the officials on the spot, if that’s how anyone took it.). Show jumping rider Bertram Allen contested a disqualification, although the FEI stood by the officials’ decision. My personal take on that situation was that that spur mark, although unintentional, warranted a disqualification, and you can bet I was angry at myself for agreeing, because Bertram Allen seems like a good guy and is unquestionably a great rider and he would have won the class otherwise. The FEI developed additional guidance for how to apply the jumper blood rule as a result of this disqualification. It’s a high stakes game at the upper levels, and sometimes putting the horse’s welfare first means losing money. It’s not without precedent. The rules can’t be written to make exceptions for unintentional injuries in the case of blood in the mouth or spur marks; that would not solve the problems we’re looking at here, and my hope is that such injuries are always unintentional anyway. But I don’t think contesting a call is necessarily a bad thing. However, when there is no call, what is there to contest, right? Officials must make these calls for the sake of the horses.

The takeaway from this whole situation–the competition, the reaction on social media, Hillary’s petition, blog posts from Shelby, Amanda, and others, my faulty poll–is that we can do better. We, meaning all of us involved in horses and competing with horses. Should we not all hold ourselves to a slightly higher standard, hold ourselves more accountable for the sake of our horses’ welfare? I think we can, and we should.

 

 

What Would You Do

Perhaps if you don’t follow horse sports, it will be news to you that RF Scandalous ran the majority of the cross-country phase at Fair Hill over the weekend with a bloody mouth. Officials did not stop the horse and rider to investigate the cause. Instead, the horse and rider finished, and officials reportedly found no evidence of blood once they inspected the horse.

In following commentary and photographs on social media related to RF Scandalous at Fair Hill, many people showed outrage, including me, but some people pointed out that perhaps the horse merely bit her tongue. Personally, I would prefer to be pulled up at a competition if my horse were bleeding from the mouth so that the cause could be addressed and my horse could heal. The FEI rules for eventing — available online here — seem to allow for a significant grey area of official interpretation.

I am interested in knowing what other people would do in a situation like this, as competitors. So I made a poll. It’s not terribly scientific of course, and perhaps there is a bias–suggestions for improving future polls are welcome. Answers are anonymous other than IP addresses, and I would like as many equestrians to answer as possible, although it won’t surprise me if only a dozen or so respond. This blog isn’t widely-read, but I truly am curious to know what other people would do, because I think there are a lot of possible ways to handle a situation such as this, and a lot of people have opinions about the right way or wrong way to handle blood on a horse during competition. I am not an eventer, so I don’t have a dog in this fight really, and the FEI Jumper rules are spelled out a little more clearly, and more recent changes have been prompted in relation to a rider being disqualified for a spur mark. Of course, there are other rules and other governing organizations, but I’m not sure how helpful creating an exhaustive list would be in this case.

You can take the survey online here. I think IP addresses will be collected, although I won’t be checking them, but otherwise it’s anonymous. And I’m not interested in who answers what, really, I’m just curious about what people would do. I’ll leave the survey accessible through the weekend, and share the results next Monday.

Rain Break

It does not rain in Texas in August, except maybe for a few days if there is a hurricane making landfall.

pigpen

Eli has done a whole lot of nothing this week. I couldn’t even get to the barn on Tuesday after work because of how bad the weather was. This is truly the most bizarre rain event I have experienced in Texas, because really, it does not rain like this in August ever. May? Yeah. October? Sure. But in August, Texas is typically a parched swath of burnt grass, the oppressive sun frying everything at 102F on a daily basis.

Luckily, last evening, we got a break from the rain for a bout 20 minutes–long enough to stick Eli in the round pen, which was really only muddy on one side … I didn’t work him, I just let him wander around while I did some yoga in the middle. I hope I can ride him tonight in the fields!

In the meanwhile, my mom has been going through some old stuff and found this gem:

horsesandaliens

My interests were clear from a young age: horses and The X-Files. And possibly trucks. Also unearthed are some kids’ books, one of which is an exquisitely illustrated book of nonsense verse.

horsefly

Again, featuring horses. Or donkeys …

ink

The look of utter scandalization on the pig’s face at the donkey not requesting a finger of Scotch is pretty much a look that ends up on my face daily for any number of reasons.

I have also been passing the time by pinning some equestrian fall style ideas. I am super into camel & grey with accents of wine & coral. So much grey. All the grey.

Hopefully next week I can get back to riding! While I invite the cooler temperatures to stay, I would like it if the rain could just hold off until after a September 10 schooling show I want to go to.

Potatoes

The versatility of potatoes cannot be overstated. They come in all shapes and sizes and preparing potatoes can be as simple as a pan fry or as involved and nuanced as potato gnocchi.

Also, we compare ourselves to them all the time on social media. Generally, we see being a potato in the saddle as a bad thing.

hotpotato

Let’s change that. Let’s allow the versatile potato represent all the various ways we show up and ride our ponies.

Raw Potato
This, I am assuming, is what we all mean when we call ourselves potatoes on our instas. Lumpy, cold, unpleasant to bite into … nobody wants a raw potato. If you’re a raw potato, you formlessly yet stiffly flop around in the saddle. This potato level is to be avoided if at all possible. If you have had more than 3 lessons, you need to be out of the raw potato phase.

Baked Potato
Baked potatoes could go one of two ways: top-heavy with excess calories, or light and fluffy and just the right amount of butter and seasoning. This is an acceptable potato, but a bit boring. Either option is not great, but not the worst thing you could be/eat.

Twice-Baked Potato
It took you a long time to get to this point. But you still have a long way to go. It only gets more complicated.

Hash Browns
Rough and ready and also a morning person. You can ride, but you probably don’t wear your hair up in your helmet.

Potato Soup
You’ve leveled up from baked potato, but without an outside influence to hold you in–bowl/trainer–you end up all over the place and licked up from the floor by barn dogs.

Tater Tots
PONEH RIDAHZZZ! Akin to these are the roasted red potatoes: the petite adult riders small enough to still train ponies.

Mashed Potatoes
Ah, that “feel,” that softness, you’ve achieved it. But unfortunately at the expense of your equitation, which means you’re still pretty ineffective. Sit up. Use all your body parts independently. You look like you are about to fall off.

Potato Chips
The bane of hunter riders everywhere. Your trainer has just walked away from the in-gate.

Scalloped Potatoes
You can articulate your aids. You can be covered in a buttery béchamel without getting greasy. You look good in your whites. Let’s all strive for this sophisticated level of potato.

Vichyssoise
Simple, or complex? Not sure. What happens after riding too many horses in one day for your fitness level, or what happens when you ride when it is really, really hot. Or when you have a fever. You are potato purée in breeches, and a bit smelly due to leeks, or Nyquil. Your pony is not motivated at all by your lack of impressiveness.

French Fries
You ride hard on the weekends and not at all during the week. You like a quick and easy ride and I hope your horse is bombproof for the sake of you both.

Potato Pancakes
You have fallen off. You may need a visit to the ER, but not before you get back on and jump the damn liverpool first.