I've owned this horse for seven years and I still get completely caught off-guard by his ability to sprout a significant winter coat overnight.  One night in the 50's this week and POOF he explodes.

Of course 'significant' is relative.  Connor's full winter coat looks like this (if I let it grow out, which I do NOT do anymore!):
Yakity Yak!  Too bad we didn't get anything for scale in this photo, each one of these belly hairs was 3-ish inches long.

For comparison, the below photo was taken two weeks ago today.  He is just racing right into winter.

All the reminders that I'm about a month away from clipping 😭


My Saddle Pad Obsession, and an Ask of My Readers

A few years ago, I was at JenJ's house and she was so generously giving me a saddle and loading me up with saddle pads for it.

Remember that time my checked luggage was a cardboard box containing a saddle, and it rained?  Good thing it was a Wintec.

One of the pads in that box was quite old and clearly well-loved, but JenJ said it was too small to fit any of her current horses.

Turns out it's actually hard to find photos of my schooling saddle pads that aren't blurry Pixio stills.  This was during our saddle fitting festival.
PC: my mom

It was a black Classic Equine Dressage pad, Cob sized.  I absolutely fell in love with this pad.  First of all, it was the first pad I'd ever seen that actually fit Connor.  Most Dressage pads designed for Warmbloods, well...

Big fat nope

But the Classic Equine pad also had features I liked in addition to being the perfect size.  It fit the contours of Connor's back perfectly.  It has a square back corner - not a round corner, not a swallowtail, just square.

And it had a velcro girth strap, so I could just open it to put the billets through it rather than wrestling them through the strap under the flap.  Minor, I know, but I like to drive little annoyances out of my life any way I can.

But the problem?  THEY DON'T MAKE THEM ANYMORE.  In fact, they haven't made them for a while now from what I can tell.  That's started a lifelong obsession with finding them, used, anywhere I can, and paying whatever necessary to get them.  Especially since the black one has slowly started to wear in irreparable ways after I used it constantly for years.

I nabbed this beige one new with tags off of a Facebook group.  It's horse-sized so slightly bigger than the black one, but still fits him so much better than the horse-sized pads of today.

Then last week I found a used white one for sale on eBay as part of a 2 pad lot with a Baker baby pad I will never use.

The binding is coming off in places and someone wrote a bunch of stuff in sharpie on the spine, and they were asking a ridiculously high price for two used pads, but again, this is my life's quest at this point, so none of those details mattered to me, haha.

I probably wouldn't be nearly as obsessed with this if it wasn't nearly impossible to find pads that truly look good on him.  The modern warmblood pad is too big, and pony pads are too small, and no one makes hony-sized pads.  The way I see it, I found something that works, they don't make it anymore, and I am on a mission to buy as many as I can.

So that brings us to my ask:  If any of you come across a Classic Equine Dressage pad for sale, please either let me know or buy it for me and I'll pay you back.  I will pay you a finder's fee!  Any color, any size, any condition, any price.  Thanks in advance!


Sunday House Post: Getting Started

I'm going to join Amanda in doing a bonus post on Sundays about the house every so often, since I find myself looking forward to her posts.  If you guys aren't following the renovation of her very old New England home, you should be!  She's knee deep in it, that's for sure.

Amanda's dining room.  Our renovation experiences have been so similar in some ways and different in others!

We'll start with some background for those of you who may be new. We bought a 3,700 sqft 1890 fixer upper in the summer of 2015.  It was structurally in great condition (they REALLY don't build em like they used to) but everything else needed work - and I do mean everything.  We got it for next to nothing.

You could be forgiven for thinking we were crazy.

The first six months we owned it we had a purchase + renovation loan, which meant a lot of things had to happen quickly - total rewire, partial replumb, new garage, brand new HVAC and ducting upstairs and downstairs, regrading and new concrete, removal of the lead paint on the exterior and repainting, paint in every room, new flooring, refinishing 3000 square feet of historic hardwood floors, 37 new windows (and that wasn't even all of them!), a brand new kitchen, you get the idea. 

A lot of this was complicated by the fact that we didn't take it down to the studs in order to preserve the amazing original trim and crown below (and because many of our walls are solid brick + plaster with no airgap, so there are no studs!)

The day we first saw it, so much potential.  Also I still giggle about the fact that we saw it for the first time on April Fool's Day.  A LOT of people told us we were fools!

After that initial push and once the purchase + renovation loan was closed out into one mortgage (and we made a legit profit on equity, miracle of miracles), things slowed down a bit.  Both because we were exhausted and because until I have a vision for a room, I leave it blank and empty, no matter how long it takes me.  I don't stress about it.

The seller handed over the Abstract of Title at our closing, which begins when the US deeded the 200 acres that would become my town to John Tipton 70 years before this house was built.  The next 70 years of the Abstract detail that parcel being slowly sold off until the remaining acreage is my lot.
So where does that leave us now?  This summer I've gotten some visions, finally!  I've been:

Painting a lot of trim:

It's all primed, and it's easy to ignore until it isn't.  I'm only painting trim that was already painted when we bought it, which is most of the house except the three rooms with the gorgeous wood trim downstairs.

Decorating our new roommate's room (he lives in the old servants' quarters, I told you this house was old!)

Creating a study for the new roommate, who is a masters of architecture student:

Uncovering six transom windows, which were all covered with wood on both sides at some point after 1958, judging by the stamps on the wood:

Delightful, delightful, beige colored plywood.  This is the master bedroom.

Seeing the light of day for the first time in decades in the bedroom I have zero vision for right now, haha.
They're still painted over for now, but it's still so cool seeing light where there was darkness before.  Also don't judge my Goodwill room!
This window in the guest bedroom is painted this horrific color that is somewhere between This Surface is Probably Dirty Beige and Millennial Pink.

Painting and wallpapering this built-in at the top of the servants quarters staircase.  So much work but SO worth it, my least favorite room in the house is beginning to be my favorite.  Annoyingly I don't have any before pictures, but imagine This Surface is Probably Dirty Beige on every surface.

This is the first transom I got totally done, I could stare at that wallpaper through the leaded glass all day.

The walls on either side of this thing should tell you what the "before" was like.  Cat scratches on the walls, gross beige paint, and carpet that will have to go sometime.  One thing at a time.

And I didn't tackle this one myself, but we had work done on the porch gutters recently.  They're integrated gutters, so that white wood box at the top of this photo is actually part of the gutter.  It was covered in asphalt material at the top, which was leaking water into the wood box and rotting it. 

It's sometimes tough to balance all this with riding, because I'll get rolling on a project in a way that's hard to take a break from (wet paint out, etc) and lose a whole day.  But, that's sort of the way it goes when you take on a house like this.



Sometimes, after six straight hours of conference calls, you just have to get on your horse and wander.

We really should've done stuff in the ring tonight, but with 4-6" of rain courtesy of former Hurricane Gordon on its way, I knew it was our last chance to get outside for likely over a week.  So we wandered, on the buckle and with feet out of stirrups.

The footing ended up being so perfect that we cantered around the big open field and up and down some hills too.  I think we both enjoyed going somewhere for once.  

It's kinda amazing how trustworthy this horse has become just in the past year.  He makes me so happy.


Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

Megan wrote a post last week about intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.  I started thinking through it especially in terms of the context of showing a ton last summer and not at all this summer, and I thought it deserved more than a comment.

I am in no way motivated by showing, but I love to show.  I know that doesn't make a ton of sense, but hear me out:

PC: Connor's breeder (2017)

One reason I love to show is to get confirmation (or not) that I'm on the right track (or not).  For example, as of these past two weeks, I'm pretty sure I finally have a medium trot.  But I haven't been up the levels before, and I don't know if what I'm feeling is what a USDF judge is looking for.  I can't wait to find out, honestly, even if I'm wrong.

And I am wrong a lot.  This is not a lengthened trot. (2017)
PC: Connor's breeder

Showing also gives me a guideline for what comes next.  I'm further with Connor than I've ever been with any horse, and without a guide for "once we have this, next comes that", I wouldn't have any sense of a roadmap.

Progress is hard to quantify on the day-to-day scale, but you can definitely see it over time.  (2012)
PC: Austen

I also love that showing is an event with my friends.  Every so often someone on the CoTH forums gets on their high horse about AAs who ride at one level their whole lives with seemingly no motivation to move up.  That's definitely not me, but I say more power to those AAs for paying their entry fees and helping keep shows alive for the rest of us.

If all you get out of showing is that you enjoy dropping $500 for a weekend of drinking booze water in the barns with your friends and not getting pushed out of your comfort zone, you do you, and thank you for your generous contribution to the sport of Dressage.

(I mean, I enjoy drinking booze water with friends just as much as the next guy, BUT I get more out of showing than just that!)
My favorite part of showing.  Probably Connor's too.  (2017)

I grew up running (people) cross-country, a sport in which your placement in the pack and the ribbon you end up with don't matter nearly as much as setting a Personal Record (PR) time.  I would look down at my watch mid-race, realize I was short of being on track to set a PR, and push myself to go faster, put myself in more pain, and the only motivation was an intrinsic desire to set a record no one would know about except me and my coach - but that didn't make it matter any less.

I was intrinsically motivated to fix this lower leg! (2015)
PC: Connor's breeder

I feel the same way about Dressage.  My motivation is all of the above, plus the desire to set a PR score, and also the desire to feel those cool feelings.  My motivation is wanting to ride a flying change someday, to do a canter half pass, to someday be ready for a double bridle.  And of course there's the ever-present desire to share Welsh Cobs and Connor's breeder's program with the world.

Best friend first, path to Dressage success second (2017)
PC: My mom
This is why I didn't mind moving to the Open division to take the ME sponsorship a couple years ago: I'm more motivated by the scores than how I place.  I'm not declaring for Regionals, or submitting for horse/rider performance awards (even though Connor would have his at First if I'd been a PM at the time).  I chased year end awards in 2016 and that was kinda fun, but I feel very "been there done that" about ever doing that for the sake of it again.

The ribbons are sweet, but I'd rather earn them by accident than focusing on them.

So, I would definitely say my motivation is intrinsic.  Probably to my detriment, because I don't have any concrete goals of "must ride GP by the time I'm 50" or anything, but at least for my first time up the levels, I'm just taking it all in and seeing how far we can go.

Having fun! (2017)
PC: My mom


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