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Horsey Halloween

Between the ages of 5 and 12, Halloween was my favorite holiday. I loved to get dressed up in costumes (my all-time favorite was Princess Jasmine from Aladdin) and get buckets full of candy, followed by stuffing my face so full of chocolate I couldn’t move the next day. After age 12, the whole concept lost its luster until I went to college. Replace candy with beer and you get the idea – I still couldn’t move the next day.
Now that I’m a responsible grown-up (term used loosely), I’ve again become less enamored with dressing up and drinking (or eating) myself into a stupor. Although I do enjoy pictures of all my friend’s kids in their adorable costumes (how can you not squeal a little bit over a 6 month old in a lady bug costume?!), I don’t have any little ones of my own, so yeah – no excitement there.
But what I do have are a dog and a horse. Rocky is not very compliant with clothes, but he does suffer through one night of handing out candy at his grandparent’s house as a One-Eyed Lobster:
Unfortunately, I missed the barn’s Halloween party (damn that bridal expo), so I didn’t get to see how Miles would react to a costume, but I’m pretty confident he wouldn’t give a shit… especially if cookies were involved! And there’s no time like the present to begin planning for next year…
This is pretty adorable… but I don’t think it’s quite right for Miles and I.
Love this one, and I think Miles would make an excellent Dragon. But I’m not sure I’d be the best knight…
Tigger and Pooh! How can you go wrong?
This one would be pretty easy, which is always a bonus… and I could get myself a little safari costume to go with it!
This one is AWESOME. A pinata! And I could wear a sombrero, which is always an excellent choice! 
Which one is your favorite?
side saddle

6’8″ Side Saddle… Seriously?!

I saw this video on Horse Nation, and it is unreal. I mean, watching the WIHS Jumper Puissance always gives me the chills. As horse and rider come towards that ominous brick wall and they can barely see above it, I always wonder “is that horse really going to go over?”

But this video takes the cake. This girl has serious balls — she jumped a 6’8″ puissance wall SIDE SADDLE.

There is literally a point where they come to that jump and you CANNOT SEE THE HORSE. At all. So badass.

In other news, a big THANK YOU to Amanda at Keepin’ It Loki for nominating me for the Sunshine Award! I already did the post, you can read all about it here.

Also, make sure to check out SprinklerBandit’s Dream Horse Studio Contest to win a pair of fancy patent leather Carnivale Open Front Boots!

epic wedding dress

Wedding Cardinal Sin

Disclaimer: While this blog is really dedicated to my equestrian pursuits, I thought it would be a fun change of pace to talk about some of the wedding planning I’m doing, since it’s such a big event in my life. If you’re not interested, feel free to skip over these installments — no hard feelings!

After Sam and I got engaged, we immediately started getting “so, have you set a date yet?” from everyone we talked to. Seriously — I’d been engaged for less than 24 hours before I got asked that question and it never stopped!
So after basking in the post-engagement glow for about a week, I got down to business. I knew I wanted an outdoor ceremony, and preferably both the wedding and reception would be at the same location, with no travelling needed (all the better to drink to, my dear!). I used TheKnot.comand to quickly view my options online, and my mom did her usual Google-Sleuth maneuver to come up with some ideas too.
We also discussed dates with both families and it turned out we had a narrower window than I thought: we needed sometime in May (but not the first weekend) or June (either the first weekend or the last). Which might sound like a decent number of Saturdays to choose from… except in the world of weddings.
As I attempted to make appointments to visit some of my favorite venues, it became clear that I was committing a wedding cardinal sin: planning a wedding in less than one full year. Seriously, let me paint you a picture:
I Do Wedding Heels
Me: “Hi, I’m calling to make an appointment to visit your venue for a wedding.”
Venue: “Okay great! When is your wedding?”
Me: “I’m thinking sometime in May or June.”
Venue: “May or June 2015, that’s perfect! We still have some availability left, let me just tell you your options…”
Me: “Oh no, I’m sorry; May or June of next year, 2014.”
Venue: “Did you say next year? As in, less than 12 months from now?! I’m sorry, we can’t help you. Unless you’d consider a Monday morning?”
Absolute insanity, I tell you; the wedding industry is totally out of control! So after a few of those types of calls, I girded my loins and narrowed my list. Sam and I visited three places: a botanical garden, a banquet hall and an old estate (in that order).
The botanical gardens were very pretty, but the layout options weren’t ideal; the spaces seemed kind of small (and we’re planning a fairly small wedding!) and had a decent number of stairs, which wasn’t great for our elderly grandparents.
botanical gardens
One option for ceremony space at the botanical garden [photo from interwebz]
The banquet hall was actually built specifically for weddings, so I thought it was nicer than just a typical hall. Plus it was a more “all-inclusive” type of deal, which I was very intrigued by. For the venue itself, I loved the entryway and the reception space was really nice. But the ceremony space was underwhelming. It looked pretty in the pictures, but I just couldn’t quite picture it for myself.
reception space option 2
Option #2: cool reception space [interwebz photo]
The old estate is kind of in the middle of nowhere, and not the easiest place to find. But I was sold the minute we pulled up: it has a wrought iron gate, with a long drive lined with trees. The building itself was an estate built by a very wealthly man, and features two main rooms with floor to ceiling windows that look out over a stone terrace and a beautiful river, which is where the ceremony would be held.
Darby House Driveway
Driveway of Option #3 [from their website]
The original owner was a man who made his fortune in property development building skyscrapers, and I’m sure it didn’t hurt when he married into the Firestone family (you know, Firestone Tire and Rubber). In his spare time he enjoyed sports: racing Thoroughbreds, as well as owning the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team.  Now, his old estate has display cases of old memorabilia: Kentucky Derby Trophies, Baseball World Series Trophies, etc. Sam, who is a big baseball fan, and I spent probably the first 20 minutes of our tour in awe of the history there – we literally could not have designed a better venue ourselves!
Of course, they didn’t have much availability, but we ended up making it work and our venue is booked, and our date set! But you’ll just have to wait until our Save the Dates go out to find out THAT information.

20 Questions

I have a few posts in the works, but nothing finished enough to post, so I thought I’d entertain you with a list of questions I stole from L Williams at Viva Carlos — enjoy!

1. Whats your horses name and how did they come by it?
I bought Milestone, “Miles,” with that name. I liked it, so I kept it.

2. What are your favorite breeches?
I wear Ariat Heritages, but I’m really coveting a pair of Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunters Mid-Rise Side Zip. If anyone has a pair in 32 or 34 they want to sell me, I’d love you forever.

3. Tall boots or paddock boots and half chaps? 
I used to ride in half chaps to “save” my tall boots for horse shows, but I’m funny about making changes right before a show. So when I started showing again, I rode in my tall boots all the time and haven’t gone back since.

4. What brand of tall boots do you have (if you wear them)? If you had an unlimited budget what would you get? 
I currently have a pair of Ariat Heritage tall boots, which I like pretty well, although I wish they had the higher Spanish tops. If I could buy any brand, I’d probably took at Parlanti’s or Tucci’s… maybe even La Mundial.

5. Favorite Helmet
I’ve always had IRH’s, but I really want a GPA. Unfortunately I look stupid in Charles Owen helmets.

chestnut jumper closeup

6. Shows or no shows?
Definitely shows. Ever since I rode in my first one, I’ve been hooked!

7. Jumping or flat work?
I would jump every day of the week if I had enough money to buy a fleet of horses to handle the workload! That said, you can’t jump without a solid foundation of flat work, and I think hacking really helps develop the partnership between horse and rider, so I wouldn’t want to give it up completely.

8. Hunters, Jumpers, Cross Country or Derby’s?
Hunters for sure — jumper courses are too hard to learn, cross country is way too scary and I’ve never done a Derby, although it’s on my bucket list!

9. What other disciplines have you ridden? 
Mainly Western (pleasure and horsemanship), but also Saddleseat. I’ve ridden a finished reiner as well, but that was only once.

10. Dressed to the nines or whatever you can find when riding?
I try to not look like a total slob when I ride, especially for lessons. That said, I’m definitely not a very formal person either, so typically I ride in a polo or t-shirt, tucked into my breeches with a belt. For winter, I usually end up in a sweatshirt or jacket with my breeches.

equitation black and white

11. Where do you shop the most for you? Your horse? 
Hmm, probably mostly SmartPak for both, although I do make frequent trips to the local tack store as well.

12. When was the last time you rode and what did you do?
I rode in a lesson last night, and we jumped, focusing on rhythm, balance and stretching up!

13. What tack do you use every ride/day? 
Oh man, here’s the list:
Monocrown Bridle with D-Ring Snaffle
All-Purpose Saddle Pad
Lami-Cell Half Pad
ECP Wither Relief Pad
Albion Saddle
Professional’s Choice Girth

When I jump I add:
Camelot Martingale
Roma Open Front Boots
Roma Ankle Boots
Velcro Bell Boots

14. What are your horses color(s)? 
Miles doesn’t really have a color, per say, but most of my blankets/coolers are Navy, with a few black and hunter green ones sprinkled in. I like mostly traditional colors, color me a boring hunter rider, haha.

15. How often do you clean your tack? 
I clean my bridle, bit and martingale after every ride. I can’t stand to ride in a dirty bridle! I also try to wipe down my saddle several times a week, as well as my girth. Oiling doesn’t get done as often as it should, and my saddle could probably use some more TLC… but it’s not #1 on my list.

leather tack closeup

16. What kind of bit do you use? 
Plain old D-Ring Snaffle. I’d like to try a happy mouth on Miles though, just for kicks.

17. Mares or Geldings? 
Geldings! I’ve got enough estrogen to go around!

18. What is something you want to improve on in your riding? 
I really want to improve my form over fences, bending more at the hips.

19. Favorite horse-themed quote?
Hmm, I guess these aren’t really quotes, but I think the saying “healthy as a horse” is kind of funny: non-horsey people oftentimes don’t realize how ironic it is. I also really like “some horses come in and out of our lives, while others leave hoofprints on our hearts.”

20.What was your most recent equestrian purchase? 

sunshine award

Sunshine Award

Thanks to Karley at All In for nominating me for the Sunshine Award!

The Sunshine Award is for people who “positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” The nominee must do the following: thank the person who nominated her, nominate ten bloggers of her own, answer the ten questions given to her, and post them and the Sunshine Award button to her blog.


Mares or Geldings? Definitely geldings; I’ve only successfully ridden one mare in my life, and I have it on good authority that she is the least mareish mare to ever walk the Earth.

English or Western? English, although I really enjoyed my 30 minute ride on a reining horse!

Do you prefer “younger” or “older” horses? I think each has their place, but when I was horse shopping I was really hoping for a younger horse.

Have you trained a horse from ground zero? No. I’ve never ridden a horse that didn’t have a decent amount of training already on it. That said, I did train Visa to jump.

Do you prefer riding or groundwork? Riding, mostly because I’ve never done “groundwork” in the traditional sense. Unless Showmanship counts?

Do you board your horse or keep it at home? I’ve always boarded and really have a tough time seeing ever having horses at home.

Do you do all natural things or just commercial stuff? I’m cognizant of what products have in them, but I don’t use many home remedies for various cuts, scrapes, etc. I tend to stick to tried and true brands people I know use.

All tacked up or bareback? I honestly could not tell you the last time I was on a horse bareback! Maybe I should make that a goal for next year…

Equestrian model? Hmm, this is a tough one. I’d have to say Reed Kessler is the most famous rider I look up to, but honestly the people around me are often those I look up to the most: my trainer and many of my close friends I met through horses.

What’s your one, main goal, while being in the horses world? Right now I really want to focus on improving my riding, especially over fences, so that I can move up to 2’6″. Plus I’m always striving to be the best horsewoman I can and learning anything and everything related to that!

horse show lineup