5 things I don’t get about equestrian blogland

So, confession: I started this blog when I was feeling kind of stuck with my old blog and disenchanted with the equestrian blogosphere in general. I was tired of the contests and blog hops and the endless pontificating about saddles fitting or not fitting (I get it; it’s frustrating, but also terribly uninteresting to anyone but you and your horse). I decided I was going to leave all the nonsense parts of blogging behind and just blog FOR ME. No blog hops, no “X Things That ____” type articles, no validation needed from anyone. I am a blogger, hear me roar kind of thing.

But I miss the pageviews, okay??

 I know that in the grand scheme of things, my old blog’s pageviews and comment count were pretty insignificant. But once you’ve experienced the “They like me, they really like me!” high of comments, or randomly woken up to one of your articles on the front page of Reddit, all you want is another hit (or 1000) to make you feel like all the hours of trivia and navel-gazing are worthwhile.

Click to enbiggen

So today I’m going to revert back to my comfortable old “X Things That ____” style. And in the spirit of cantankerousness, my theme is various things that drive me nuts about the equestrian blogosphere.

And before you jump down my throat (all one of you out there) I completely recognize I am part of the problem. But it’s my blog so I’m allowed to complain. So there!

Trends du jour

Have you ever noticed how one person buys XYZ…and then suddenly EVERYONE is buying XYZ? (coughOGILVYcough) Oh the commercialism! Stop! You do not need one more saddle pad!

Following trends does not a rider make
Flickr: carterse/ CC

Mango Bay belts

And while I’m on the subject of trends, there is one that I find infuriating enough to merit its own section.

Mango Bay Design

They’re just belts, for crying out loud. Sure, they have horsey patterns, but otherwise they look like what came free with the khakis from Kohl’s my mother bought me in middle school.  Why is seemingly every equestrian blogger obsessed with them? I have no idea.

How in the world can you afford ____?!

Custom saddles, custom boots, training rides, show after show after show–first of all, why? And second of all, how? I know that there are reasonable answers to these questions but my initial reaction when I hear of extravagant expenses like these is always WTF?!

That’s not to say I am immune from boot envy.
NY Social Diary

The pressure to comment just to comment all the freaking time.

A few times I have seen bloggers mention something like, “Oh, so sorry I haven’t been keeping up with commenting but I have been reading everyone’s blogs.” Seriously? Do people have a list of blogs they read and feel like they must comment on every single post? I guess it’s fair if you want people to comment in return, but doesn’t it make life so boring if all the comments are nonsense placeholders like, “Your horse is so cute” or “Loved this”?

It also peeves me (a lot of things peeve me, you’ve probably intuited) when I see bloggers who respond individually to every single comment. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Stop making the rest of us (me) look bad.

Trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result

I’m totally guilty of this (though I didn’t really write about my struggles because I’m a big old weenie), but it’s so obvious when you’re looking in from the outside, and you read about a rider being unbearably nervous every single ride, or a horse being consistently mediocre (or sometimes, spectacularly terrible) at shows or other outings.  

Why are you torturing yourself with this horse/this discipline/etc.? I just want to comment. But I don’t. Instead I just grab the popcorn and await the trainwreck. And I bet most blog readers/writers would be lying if they said they haven’t ever enjoyed a little schadenfreude themselves!

Well, now that I’ve insulted and alienated anyone who is reading…what bugs you the most about the equestrian blogosphere?

EDIT: One more pet peeve, after a friend reminded me of it. Moving up from 2’6″ to 2’9″, or 3’3″ from 3′ is not as big a deal as people think it is!! If your horse can stand over the jump, he can probably jump it from a trot. It’s generally the person who makes a big deal about moving up in height, not the horse.

Ahhh. It feels so good to let it all out there. Especially when I have so few readers to blow up at me.

Hunt Report

Opening Hunt

From my last bout of posting you may be wondering about how Opening Hunt actually went!

Well here is my writeup for Horse Nation. And here it is republished in Foxhunting Life.  (that was an honor!)

I didn’t mention it in the story, but it’s a miracle I actually made it to Opening Hunt at all. It was an insane couple of days because on that Thursday, I got a piece of sawdust stuck in my eye at the barn and couldn’t get it out. Being an eager young journalist incredibly stupid, I decided to go to Washington International Horse Show in DC that night to interview the pony steeplechasers anyway. My eye was so swollen I looked like Quasimodo and when I was getting my press pass, immediately the security people asked me if I was ok and if I wanted to go to the first aid station. So I did that; it didn’t help. I interviewed the kids and their parents anyway and they were polite enough not to run away screaming. It was all I could do to stay long enough to watch them actually race–my eye hurt so badly that my head was pounding and my stomach was starting to turn. Somehow I managed to get the photos I wanted despite not being able to really see what I was photographing.

Unloading showjumpers on the streets of DC

Totally normal…

My favorite shot of the night…the next generation!

Go ponies go!

I was in such pain I didn’t sleep and I went straight to the opthamologist in the morning. He flipped my eyelid inside out, and removed the tiniest speck of sawdust–the size of the point on a pin. I couldn’t believe something that tiny was making me so miserable. But hey–I could see again, so I got some rest and then went to the barn that night to get Seven Up bathed and braided. It took way longer than I thought because he wouldn’t stand still for me, and I was at the barn till 9:30 pm. I was so frustrated with Seven and so focused on getting the job done that I completely forgot to call Byron and let him know I was coming home late. When I did get home, he was so worried and on the verge of calling the police…he thought I had been in an accident, or maybe that something bad happened at the barn, but he had no idea how to find me since my phone was dead and I was at a barn he hadn’t been to before.

Note the blurry cross ties. HE WOULD NOT STOP FIDGETING.

Did I mention that the next day (Opening Hunt) fell on my 4th anniversary with Byron? Oh man. What with the medical emergencies, foolhardy journalism and missing person case, I put that poor man through the wringer that week. He was going to come take photos as an anniversary gift but I excused him given the circumstances.

And that’s the FULL story of my first Opening Hunt.

P.S. — The braids were acceptable, but not as nice as I was hoping. Apparently this is because I pulled his mane with one of those blade things as opposed to a thinning comb. Oh how I hate pulling mane on a horse who won’t stand still!!! It took me three or four hours just to get the braids in since he was weaving so much. On the bright side…someone did say I had a “nice tail.” (I think he meant my horse.)

Kinda crooked but good enough for my first time ever braiding.

Miscellaneous Shenanigans

Guess who won horsey Christmas?

I hit the Christmas jackpot thanks to my fiance, a riding buddy who dropped a hint as to what would be the perfect gift, Horse Nation, and my family, who never fail to disappoint with weird horse doodads they find in New Hampshire.

Absolutely beautiful vintage sandwich case.

Byron gave me an absolutely wonderful sandwich case with a thick glass flask and sterling silver box inside. I love it!!!  (Even if he does call it a “foxhunting lunch box.”) He also gave me a “foxy” stock pin with tiny ruby eyes. He wins Christmas this year.

I got to test out both on my last hunt of the season. Probably for the best that I have to wait to use it again, because I need to have the dry, cracked leather straps on the sandwich case replaced.

And what Christmas would be complete without a completely weird gift from my non-horsey mom and stepdad? Look closely, because the Christmas mare and foal appear to be swaybacked and wormy.

Also got some cool horsey gifts from my Horse Nation Secret Santa:

This year was also the first that I succumbed to horsey decorations on the tree. Why fight it and try to seem like a normal person? The bits hanging on the wall right when you enter my house kind of reveal the fact that an insane horse person lives here. I gave my fiance an ornament that looks like him riding his favorite lesson horse, and I just put a bunch of bits and things on there just because it’s better than letting them sit in boxes.  The shoe in the middle belonged to my horse in high school.

Merry belated Christmas everyone! What did Santa bring you?

Riding Adventures

I have been hunting, I swear!

So…total fail on blogging after every hunt. I’m going to cut myself a little slack though, because at points this fall I was working two jobs and studying for my Series 7 broker exam…so riding in my free time took precedence over writing in my free time.

Now I have used up all six caps I purchased in addition to five or so free cubbing days, and I am most likely done hunting for the season unless I get special permission to ride as a guest. (A possibility, but not guaranteed.) Last January I would have been absolutely thrilled at the prospect of hunting once, twice, or MAYBE three times in 2014, so I am really pleased with how the year turned out.

I learned many new and important things. For example: safe galloping position, the beginnings of an auto jumping release, and the fact that tying a stock is actually not that difficult. Other, less conventional lessons learned: the necessity of making sure your girth is REALLY tight before moving off, mounting an ADD horse from the ground (learned that one in tandem with the girth thing), and how to WALK through ditches as opposed to leaping through them (OK, I only succeed about 50% of the time on that one).

Proof that foxhunting=sunshine and rainbows

Now that it is cold and I’m focusing more on lessons in the arena, I have also learned that foxhunting is TERRIBLE for your overall riding! I find myself leaning forward and tightening my hips, resulting in lots of unintentionally fast trips around the arena on horses who think I am telling them to run like Smarty Jones. Oh, and did I mention my neuroses about riding unfamiliar horses, my fear of being run away with, or my “first-jump-phobia” which has led to countless refusals, runouts, and bunny jumps? Good thing I am working with a saintly and tough instructor who will help me channel my inner Lillie Keenan.

Opening Hunt: Possibly the worst jumping I have ever seen myself do (Photo: Robert Keller)

In addition to hunting adventures, 2014 was extra special because my fiance caught the riding bug. Over the summer he took weekly lessons and got really good at walking, posting the trot, steering, and even went on a few walking trail rides,  but once he was starting to canter he had a bunch of work things that made it hard to schedule regular lessons. Now I think we are back on track and we just had our first group lesson together. I love seeing how happy he is in his lessons, though it’s slightly infuriating how naturally riding comes to him!  I think part of it, though, is that unlike when I was learning to ride, I now know what kind of instructor to send him to so he will learn correctly the first time around, and not let bad habits become ingrained (like me!).

2015 promises to be another fun year with riding. Since I’ve found it is totally doable to hunt without your own horse, I am saving up to join the hunt as a full member. I’m also planning on joining my local Horsemasters chapter (Pony Club for adults). I never got to do Pony Club as a kid, and as I’ve alluded, there are many strange gaps in my riding education that I would like to fill in. (For example, I have no fear jumping a coop out hunting yet I have only the faintest idea of how to get a horse to come round on the bit.) I have also resolved (officially!) to volunteer more, and I’ve already made concrete plans to do so.

Hooray for another year of riding…may this one bring bigger jumps, longer gallops, and fewer concussions than the last!