Viva Carlos November 10 Questions

Only a month behind!

1. How old is the youngest/greenest horse you've ever ridden?
I was the first person on Castleberrys Protege's (Shae's) back, and it was my first time riding a Welsh Cob. He was not quite three, but Dr. Marks assured me I weighed so little she was fine with it.  That deserves a post of its own sometime.

April of 2010
2. How old is the oldest horse that you have ridden?
Dillon, who saved my confidence, was 24 and semi-retired when I rode him when I first came to my trainer and barn nearly six years ago  He's now 29 and totally retired.

3. Were you scared of horses when you first started riding?
No, that came later!

4. Would you say you are more of a nervous or confident rider?
On ponies, I feel like I could conquer the world and giggle through bucking and bolting.  On horses, I am the biggest chicken that ever lived.  Not that I won't ride horses, but misbehaving horses feel completely different to me than misbehaving ponies.
Castleberrys Aviator smiling for the camera

5. Biggest pet peeve about non-horse people around horses?
One time during a break in the CrossFit Regionals Nicole and I wandered the Ohio State Fairgrounds and found people moving into a national Morgan show, complete with mostly Hispanic men setting up elaborate stall setups and owners in fancy cars.  Non horse people see that and think all horse owners are wealthy enough to put fountains and streetlights outside their show stalls for no reason at all.  It's so different from that for the average person.

From Morgan shows to media hours

6. A time that you've been scared for your life (horse-related)
That time we got caught in a freak snowstorm with horses, and the truck and trailer did a 180 across three lanes of I-275 in Cincy and stopped facing the wrong way on the interstate, one inch away from sliding (probably would have rolled sideways, actually) down a 30 ft embankment with no guard rail, and mature trees at the bottom.  Except I was WAY more scared for Connor's life than I was for mine.  There's no feeling like being certain you're going to watch your horse die at any moment as a result of a situation you've put him in.  Thankfully rig, people and horses were all totally fine, not even a scratch on any of us.  I actually cried when, an hour after that happened, I was finally able to throw open the trailer door and Connor greeted me with pricked ears and his usual nicker.

At our temporary housing that night, thanks to a kind network of Indiana eventers.

7. Have you ever fallen off at a show?  What happened?
Not that I can think of.

Taylor at an IHSA home show, 2009.  The pony that got me into ponies.  RIP little mare.

8. What's a breed of horse you've never ridden but would love to ride someday?
I'd love to ride a true draft, if only for the pictures of my legs sticking out the side like this:
From my 2011 post about riding Adagio in a lesson.

9. Describe the worst behaved horse you've ridden. 
Gosh, it's gotta be Bella the Wonder Pony.  Thanks, Austen.

The scale is hard to see here, but remember: I am not quite 5'1 and 105lbs. If I make something look small, IT'S REALLY SMALL.
This 12ish hand menace responded to everything I asked by first bucking, then obeying. And I had so much fun I came back a month later and rode her again.  Those posts from 2011 are pretty funny: Bella the Wonder Pony, Rematch with Bella the Wonder Pony

10. The most frustrating ride you've ever had
My parents' donkey Festus takes this one.  Growing up, I wasn't allowed to ride the horse, but could hop on Festus whenever I wanted as long as I had a helmet on.  I spent so much time bareback with a halter kicking valiantly as he ignored my little legs and grazed. Except that one time we were in the back pasture and he heard my mom come out to feed and cantered a couple hundred yards to the barn.  If you've never cantered a donkey bareback, it is a WEIRD feeling!



I feel like it's taboo to discuss being burned out on riding.  You've got Denny Emerson telling you you're not a real horsewoman unless you drag yourself out of your house and ride every day come hell or high water.  You've got your own brain saying, "We spend way too much on this every month to not participate."  And opposing all that you've got the reality of your real adult life.

Things I did while not riding: decorate my house for Christmas.
I didn't realize I was burned out until a couple of weeks into Connor's training month.  I was really enjoying not having to go the barn, between my trainer riding him and amazing barn worker Liz reading my mind on blanket changes.  At first I felt guilty, then I accepted that I must have been burned out, and then I let myself enjoy my reprieve.  My horse was happy, being ridden five days a week, and well-cared for, and for the first time in five years, I spent an entire weekend not leaving my house.

It was glorious.

Things I did while not riding: Watch YouTube videos of African Grey Parrots with my African Grey Parrot.

I feel like we overlook it while we're in the middle of it, how much we give of ourselves to this hobby and how demanding it is.  I've spent five years doing the hour and a half round trip to the barn four to five times a week, and I wouldn't do it if I didn't love it - but it is a lot.  A lot of money, and a lot of time out of a busy adult schedule.  It's completely unthinkable for a lot of people.

Things I did while not riding: spend a lot of time with my husband, little dog, and not pictured, big dog.

So I didn't let myself feel guilty, and I wondered when - or if - the day would come that I unbearably missed it.  Of course I missed Connor, and I made a few trips out during the month just to feed him cookies and groom him which was great for both of us.  But I wondered whether I would feel the need to be there again, and to push myself to become a better rider day in and day out.

Things I did while not riding: Finally broke down and put a TV in the formal living room.  And I like it.

That day came two nights ago.  I was out there to stuff a cookie in Connor and drop off a video camera with my trainer, and I looked out over the white rail fences and the outdoor I probably won't ride in again until spring and the cute little red and white barn and I missed it.  All of it.  That was the moment.  I left knowing my lesson the next night would be the nail in the coffin, and I would be back.

"I'm back, bitches"
Don't ever let anyone make you feel guilty for checking out (responsibly) for a while.  We're in this hobby for the long haul, you do what you need to do to make it sustainable.


Product Review: Underarmour 4.0 Shirt and Pants

Note: This is a repost from two years ago, with some notes added throughout. I wanted to share it again, because I still have this same set of UA 4.0, it still looks brand new after two whole winters of wearing and washing for both CrossFit and riding, I can't live without it, and I hope some of you add it to your Christmas list!  I literally have not worn my winter coat a single time since I got this stuff, and that's not something most equestrians can say in Indiana.  Prices appear to have fallen too - I've seen the shirt as low as $45 on Amazon.  Enjoy!

Mother Nature has decreed that it's time to review my new Underamour 4.0.

Californians are not invited to this party.  Not that they want to be.

For Christmas, my Grandma got me a set of Underarmour 4.0, which is for "brutally cold" temperatures, according to the box.  (Note: They do also make 2.0 and 3.0.  Don't bother with those unless you live in California.  4.0 is where it's at.)

Summary: It is so much warmer and more comfortable than traditional UA, I can't bring myself to ever wear my traditional Underarmour again, after wearing it for two years. (Note: I got rid of all my regular UA after writing this review and never looked back.)

The inside is a waffle pattern, which the manufacturer says traps pockets of warm air underneath.  They're incredibly soft and comfortable against the skin.  On the shirt, the big waffles extend throughout the entire shirt.  I'm showing you it inside out:

On the pants, the big waffles turn into tiny waffles just below the knees, which is great for equestrians:

Also shown inside out, and shown with optional dog hair.

Unfortunately this is where my one equestrian problem is with them: they don't have rubber cuffs on the inside of the pants, so if you are putting breeches or tights over them, they roll up your calf and have to be pulled back down.  It's a minor annoyance given how awesome these things are, but it does bug me. (Note: really doesn't bother me anymore.)

Also, thumbholes.

Now for the performance.  And keep in mind I have Reynauds and don't handle cold well at all.

To really test it, I rode in this stuff with just a thin vest and summer tights over it in 35 degree weather and my core stayed so hot, my hands didn't get cold even though I wore summer gloves too.  It was in the indoor - UA4.0 is definitely not meant to be windproof, so I wouldn't do that outside.

I also wore it with one polar fleece shirt and a puffy vest over it for my lesson at PHS, when it was 28 and snowing, and I was so hot I got sweaty - but I stayed dry because those waffles wick moisture like crazy.  It's truly remarkable how much warmer it keeps me than traditional UA.

This is what the outside back of the pants look like.  The waffle pattern does show through summer weight riding tights, but not through winter tights and breeches.

But even better, it's so much more comfortable than traditional UA, which always left me itching with red horizontal lines on my arms when I took it off.  I felt strangled by it, and always raced to the bedroom to take it off as soon as I got home.  The 4.0 stuff feels like pajamas, I could happily wear it all day.  I am so much more lazy about taking my barn clothes off when I get home now (much to my husband's dismay).
She bought the shirt one size too big because XS was sold out.  I wish it was the right size, but it doesn't bother me like this.

All that said, if you go to buy it, you're going to find it's expensive - about $170 for the set.  (Shirt) (Pants).  You guys know how frugal I am, and I am telling you: this is worth every penny if you live in an area where it is regularly below 40F.  I probably wouldn't have worn my super heavy insulated Carhartts and equestrian team coat through college if this stuff existed back then.  I plan on taking good care of it, because I can't afford to replace it and I can't live without it now! (And edit, it has held up incredibly well for two years.  I'll get years more out of this set, making the cost per wear low).

That's a solid 20lbs of clothing right there.  Freshman year, 2007.

Equine college was fun!


Clip #2.5: Full Clip

I knew what I was signing myself up for when I gave Connor the fastest Irish clip in history before my lesson a week ago Thursday.  I knew I'd have to reclip the whole horse in order to give him his second and (hopefully...) final full clip of the year.

I'm getting pretty fast at clipping in general.  I'm not good at it - that's the point of a full clip (read: don't have to do straight lines) on a horse that grows hair faster than anything else in the barn.  But I'm fast, and reasonably good at minimizing lines these days.

I mean, that doesn't look like a lot of hair, but it's just his butt and his back, and it's just five weeks of growth since his last full clip.  Plus he's tiny.  So it's a ton:

Anyone else on their 2nd or 3rd clip of the winter?


TRM Blog Hop: Before and After

This is a great blog hop for me to do, particularly because I've had Connor for five years this week.   I continue to be so incredibly grateful to his breeder and my trainer for making it possible for me to get him years before I thought I'd own my own horse.  He may not be the next Grand Prix superstar, but he's my partner in crime, my soul mate, and he's always down for our next adventure with pricked ears.

Conformation, November 2011:

Not-Really-Conformation-But-He's-So-Shiny September 2016:

Showing, August 2011:
PC: Connor's breeder

Showing, August 2016:

PC: Kelly's husband Paul.  This is my favorite photo from 2016!

Model pose, May 2006:

Model pose, mid-2016:


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