review, Uncategorized

Review: Mondoni Aspen boots

I am looking forward to doing more reviews on my blog this season, as I’m the type of person who loves to read reviews of products before purchasing. I’m also a super budget buyer so if you’re looking for deals, I’m your girl; I never shell out for the expensive stuff.

Let’s dive right into this one! These are the Mondoni Aspen boots from Divoza Horseworld, an online tack store in The Netherlands.

Hello, gorgeous

I had been hunting for decades months for a brown tall boot that I could wear as a daily “lifestyle” boot after I discovered the exquisite (and wrenchingly expensive) Regina boots by Fairfax & Favor, over which I thirsted for many weeks before accepting that my wallet could not justify that kind of price. Especially because the conversion from GBP to CAD is absolutely brutal. My size is also never in stock apparently, which is probably for the best because then I had no other option but to accept my fate as a non-owner of Fairfax boots.

My tall boot search was greatly hindered by my height of 5’9 and my acclimatization to riding boots which fit nice and tall; most fashion boots fit a lot shorter (like 14-16″) and those just make my muscular calves look enormous. I wanted something at least 17″ tall, brown, no heel, simple design and doesn’t cost the equivalent of my left kidney. Major points if it had tassels. I literally spent months hunting on every site I could find, checking all the local shops, to no avail – everything was less than 16″ tall and/or had a heel. It was a dark time in my life.

I first discovered the Mondoni brand when I bought a pair of used tall boots off a Facebook horsey buy/sell page, because I’d given up finding something online and figured these would be as close as I could get to my Unicorn Boot. They were too big in the foot, and slightly different colours (from sun exposure maybe? Who knows) but I was exhausted from hunting. I went online to see what I could find out about the brand as far as retail value, reviews, etc. and as I was scrolling through their online selection, the Aspen boots revealed themselves in all of their glory.

I’ll skip the part of the story about my elation and trepidation, but including shipping to Canada they cost me a total of $285 CAD. I was willing to extend my fragile budget up to $250 in order to get a pair that I loved, which was a success except for the $30 duty fee which I forgot about and was dinged with when it arrived.

Shipping was quite quick for what I expected from Europe, I think they arrived in about a week. I literally gasped when I opened the box and saw them for the first time. They were basically everything that I had been hunting for.

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Milk chocolatey goodness

The full grain leather wasn’t as orangey as the online photo suggests; it is the colour of milk chocolate and I’m pretty sure I had literal heart-eyes when I peeled back the packaging. The leather definitely looked on the fragile side, like it would scuff really easily. I pulled them out and they felt super soft and more durable than I originally thought, and as beautiful as they looked. To my surprise, I discovered that the entire boot is lined with sherpa, which I obviously did not notice when ordering online. I had mixed feelings about this, since I was hoping to wear them through spring and fall and had concerns that they might be too warm. There is a stretch panel with elastic in the back which is always a yay for my calves, and a really adorable button closure at the top of the zipper. The sole is rubber and very sturdy.

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I was anxious about the size, since I can wear anything from a US 8 – 9.5 depending on the brand. I ordered a 39R which comes with a height of 18.5″ and a calf width of 14.2″ (my calf generally measures in at 14.5″ so I was biting my nails). The foot bed is actually about half a size too big, but the calf fits nice and snug with the elastic panel; as much as I’d prefer a more snug-fitting foot, I could never squish into the calf of the next size down. I have a pair of Ovation paddock boots in a size 39 which fit me like a glove, so clearly Europeans have the same problem as North Americans where sizes are totally different across brands.

I immediately applied leather conditioner and waterproofing from Nikwax because these were going to be my “dailies” through the rain of winter and spring in Vancouver, BC. It turns out that they are already super waterproof without it, but I felt better being extra careful. I also had my heart set on having a pair of boots with tassels, because Fairfax ruined me, so I marched off to the nearest Michael’s craft store to make my dream come true. High five, crafty self!

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Look at the adorableness of this

So I’ve had the boots for 4 months now and can speak more to their longevity. As far as the leather goes, yes it does scuff very easily but it rubs out just as easily with some leather oil or conditioner, which leaves them a beautiful rich, chocolatey brown. Here they are after a few weeks of no conditioner:

As far as fit goes, they are quite loose through the ankle on me (did I mention my calves) and have “fallen” a bit, and they give me very minor rubs around my upper heels but only if I walk for extended periods in them. The leather is soft but the structure of the boot is still to be fully broken in; they feel firm without being uncomfortably stiff, which leaves me hopeful that they won’t drop or sag much. The sherpa lining is wonderful for cold winter days, but can be warm when our weather fluctuates into spring; wearing a thinner sock helps but the foot bed is still too large for me. I’ve been meaning to try a liner to fill space but keep forgetting! The height of the shaft is perfect for me and the sole is extremely sturdy with great grip during the winter months.

The leather strips over the elastic panel have some fraying and cracking but that appears to be inevitable based on the way they’re attached. It’s negligible to me TBH.

Overall I love these boots. They’re beautiful and almost exactly what I was looking for at something like less than half the price of the Fairfaxes. I would call them very comparable to the Fairfax Imperial Explorer which appear more sturdy than the Reginas. Considering that you can pay $250 for a pair of fashion boots at a department store that are way less durable, I’m pretty chuffed with this purchase. I do wish they didn’t have sherpa, but whatever. They’re tall, sturdy, waterproof and gorgeous. And I can interchange my tassel colours so basically I’ve won at life.

**I’m editing this to add that I went onto Divoza’s website again today and discovered that their shipping prices to Canada and the US has gone up to 75 euros standard rate, which is the equivalent of $113 CAD! Unfortunately nothing could justify me ever spending that much on shipping, so I’ll have to quit drooling over their bridles. Those of you shopping from Europe or the UK won’t have that same price to worry about, you lucky dogs.

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Digging in

So we all know that I had to take 3 months off from riding this winter due to a major knee surgery (I’m still bitter that the snow didn’t start in December and get itself over with like I expected, but instead held off starting until I was back riding in February. You suck, winter), and due to other extra curriculars happening in my life, I didn’t start riding consistently again until late March. That’s almost 5 months of down time, and rebuilding my stamina has been a work in progress. We aren’t going to discuss relearning how to post the trot. Or irrelevant details like how to ride in general.

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We have this totally under control

Last week I decided that we were fit enough that we could handle a dressage lesson, since a full length jumping lesson would still probably be too much for my knee. I did warn my coach that we had been off all winter and she would need to go a bit easy on us, but otherwise I was feeling very optimistic. Call me psychotic, but I actually really enjoy dressage lessons… Almost more than jumping lessons? I love the feel of unlocking things in my communication with Vesper and the sensation of what I fondly think of as “leveling up” in the simplest things; plus we know that I get anxiety when jumping, so there’s that too.

I jumped this for fun, because I am 784% mentally stable obviously. I’m 5’9.

Most of the details aside, during my lesson I ended up blowing through all my reserves of energy and strength that I had in the tank and went way beyond physical perseverance into the realm of mental perseverance. I felt like I had been beaten with a hammer on almost every part of my body, and I could barely walk that evening! In retrospect, I clearly just needed to request more rest breaks to prevent that kind of physical exhaustion – but in the moment all I could focus on was putting my best effort in to achieve what my coach was asking of me. Much of it was super simple things, like just getting my really long, front-heavy mare to work correctly over her back, but I’m a lazy rider if I’m not in a lesson and I’m not very disciplined at developing those muscles. I swear Vesper activates her draft blood the moment I put the dressage saddle on.

It made me consider the psychology of sports and about the fortitude of our mental “grit”. Equestrians are some of the “grittiest” folks I know, but most people who have played competitive sports know the feeling that I’m talking about: when you physically do not have anything left to give, but somehow you bear down and will yourself to keep going. Part of me is embarrassed to admit that I practically had an out-of-body-exhaustion experience from a dressage lesson of all things, but to ride Correctlyrequires a lot more effort from me than just bopping around a stadium or XC course .

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It’s really hard to get even this much collected from either of us

I read this great quote from Henry Ward Beecher:

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.

I love the difference here between a positive, “will” and a negative, “won’t“. There’s a sense of pride that comes afterwards, knowing that I could overcome what was physically hard and reap the rewards of success. I find that a mindset of “won’t” tends to block progress, especially with horses! It’s something I have to be mindful of daily when working with an independent and strong-willed mare.

There’s something about horses that inspires me to dig deeper into my resources (be that physical capacity, mental capacity, determination, etc) than other areas of my life. Perhaps it is the partnership and knowing that my horse is giving to me unreservedly; so why shouldn’t I be doing the same? I find the feeling of us working together 100% to be totally addictive – when we’re both super focused and determined and pushing ourselves physically.

What about you? Are there areas in your riding where you find yourself tapping into that deep perseverance?

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Welcome back

Well folks, it’s been a while! I took a long break from blogging for a few reasons; the primary one is that I had major knee surgery in November 2018 and had literally nothing to post about since I didn’t ride for 2 (tragic) months. I also didn’t specifically know what I wanted this blog to really be about beyond chronicling my riding achievements and adventures.

Now that my knee has healed enough to allow me to get back into riding, I decided to revamp my blog a bit and get back into posting, with the intention of recording my training and showing progress this year, offering product reviews and perhaps discussion topics. At the very least, it’s a handy space for me to keep a riding “journal” for my own future reference.

A brief recap:

• October 2018 we competed against almost 20 other riders at a horse trial in the Pretraining level and came away with a 3rd place. I was over the freaking moon! I didn’t end up recapping that one for some dumb reason.

• I finished up the show season with a jumper schooling show doing PT level just to lock it in – after that, I felt like it’s time to move up to Training (which I actually cannot wrap my head around; not long ago I couldn’t jump more than 2′).

• We had a fun little photoshoot because!

• November was major knee surgery: a microfracture to fix my chronic arthritis issues. They chipped into the bone of my femur to stimulate new bone growth; it was 2 weeks of total non weight-bearing and then weeks of painful rehab. 2 months of no riding was really hard, but so far I’m seeing success. I’m ahead of the predicted recovery and my specialists are very hopeful for a full recovery. It will likely be a year before we know for certain.

• Husband decided to take some riding lessons to help keep Vesper ridden while I was recovering. He took a few western lessons but ended up preferring to ride Vesper english and have me teach him. He hasn’t kept up with it since I’ve gotten back in the saddle, but he picks it up really quickly and even has goals of learning to jump!

He even bought himself a helmet, boots and gloves! Who is this guy

• I kept busy through the winter with another theatre performance which meant almost no riding anyway. We also got tons of late and unexpected snow? Yuck.

• I just got back from a Caribbean cruise and am finally ready to get back into full time training for this season! *twitch*

Pretty, but seriously lacking in horses

• Vesper just turned 19 while I was away! She’s a real senior citizen. I could tell she was bored of the winter break so I’m sure she’s just as happy as I am to get back into a schedule.


That’s about it for now. I’ve got a few products on the go that will receive reviews here (one of them being the coveted Millbrook stirrup leathers!) once I’ve had some more consistent time to trial them. I’ll be posting my show season plan shortly, too!

Thanks for checking in 🙂

Hunting, Show recap, Uncategorized

Most expensive week EVER.

Last week was a ton of fun and absolutely filled to the brim with horse things – which we all know is equestrian-speak for “my wallet weeps.” But we also all know that it is 107% worth it every time.

It started out with an invitation from my co-worker to audit the local Ingrid Klimke clinic that was happening last Saturday and Sunday about 10 minutes from my house. Co-worker’s barn manager’s daughter won a ringside table of 5 for the clinic at a dressage competition, and they gave him 2 of the seats to join them – he offered me one of the tickets and I just about expired from jubilation. My first ever clinic, and it’s with Kween Klimke?! Somebody grab the defibrillator.

I don’t attend clinics because, as you may have noted while reading through my blog, I am hella cheap and when I basically get to choose between boarding my horse or auditing a clinic, I can’t justify the money towards a clinic. Love the idea of them, but just not my financial gig. So when offered the opportunity to audit one of the greatest riders of all time FOR FREE at the RING-SIDE with a CATERED LUNCH (and excellent company, thank you co-worker), I immediately cleared my schedule and basically bounced up and down like I was headed to my first ever riding lesson. Kween. Klimke. *Heart eyes*

She was 2 tables down at lunch and I wanted to touch her coat as I walked by in hopes of being blessed…

The short of it is, she’s just as amazing as you think. The Saturday was dressage focused and the Sunday started with dressage and cavaletti and finished with jumping. I thought that I would benefit more from the jumping day, but I actually took the most notes from the dressage and cavaletti lessons. Now I need to spend even MORE money on cavalletti, blast.

Now, although I did not have to pay for the clinic itself, of course I bought one of her books. (Cha ching). I was very good and did not purchase anything from the tack booths… However Greenhawk chose to have a big anniversary sale that weekend and I really wanted some Woofwear XC boots, so naturally I popped to Greenhawk during the lunch break and dropped some cash on their very pretty Smart Event boots because my mare is the Queen and also practically a senior citizen at 18 and packs me around like the empress she is, so she deserves quality leg protection. Yes. (Cha ching).

Pretties

Now, all of these beautiful horses riding in the clinic were clipped so wonderfully – shiny, with no visible lines, clean limbs… nothing that I am familiar with because at most I can pull together a very poor trace clip that isn’t even and shows every line I make with the clippers. My vanity was stirred. I had the last hunt of the season coming up the next Saturday, and conveniently my friend/dressage coach clips professionally… You can see where this ended up. Gorgeous full nekkid body clip for Vesper to look like a magnificent show horse instead of her usual “I just came off the plough” vibe. (Cha ching).

It looked like a massacre
But lookit how gorgeous! 😍

Oh, and she’s due for her hoof trim, and since we’re hunting and the weather should be drying up any time now, we should put front shoes on for the spring/summer season! (Cha ching).

I also took this week to sign up for a session with my bestie who is a newly-minted personal trainer at her special discount rate – she kicked my butt in the best way (I paid her back for it when she came with me to the hunt!). (Not horse related, but still: Cha ching).

This all led up to the final drag hunt of the season, which is more Cha Ching but seriously I would spend more than that – it is the most fun you can have on horseback if you like eventing in any way. My personal training bestie also got to come along as they had a couple of horses for rent, which was her first time hunting and her first time jumping in over a year. She was so badass – I mean who meets a horse for the first time and then moments later takes it galloping and jumping in a herd of horses following hounds?! She might kill me for mentioning that she fell off at a fence, BUT she got right back on, and we’re both so sore 2 days later that she couldn’t fight me if she tried. Love you Rachel!

We rode together for basically the first time ever, in a group of like 15, and managed to not get any photos together except a selfie. Knobs.
She fit right in

We got super lucky with the weather, as the rain held off right until we got back to the trailers. I must say that Vesper and I probably looked the best turned out thanks to her BOMB body clip – we received so many compliments from the other riders and I think I could have upped my bra sized based on how puffed my chest was from being proud mamma. I could barely walk the next day (not exaggerating), but it was 1000% worth it. Seriously, hunting is the most fun I can imagine with horses.

Now, because apparently I just can’t seem to cap this, I have booked a vet appointment for the beginning of April for teeth float and vaccines. (Cha Cha Ching). I mean, it had to happen anyway, but seriously this is getting out of hand… Horses, expensive?!

I also need a haircut but maybe I’ll just call my friend and see if she’ll clip me too for super cheap. 😂 It’s that or the husband’s beard trimmer I think.

It’s a good thing that my entire May and June will be consumed with theatre – my bank account can finally take a breather.

Quality #mareglare
Uncategorized

Happy birthday Vesper!

If you’re following me on social media, you may have noticed that today is Vesper’s birthday!

She certainly doesn’t look…

Or act!

Like she’s 18 today.

Being a unicorn can be tough sometimes.

She’s the Queen of my heart, and taken me to places I never imagined possible.

Love you forever, V. ❤️

Show recap, Uncategorized

Riding to Hounds

Things have been quiet on here due to the lack of riding that occured over this winter – between gross weather and a theatre play I’ve been in, I wasn’t in the saddle a whole lot since about November.

Bless you microscopic arena for allowing even a modicum of riding

There was some ground freezing, and a crazy ice storm that lasted for about a week, but otherwise we didn’t have the snow dump that we had last year, for which I am very grateful. The times that I could go out to the barn, at least I could get in a decent hack.

The entire city looked like this. Beautiful, but a death trap

I recently found a leasor to ride Vesper once a week, which has definitely relieved a bit of the strain of trying to keep her fit while juggling a full time day job, a theatre production, a different theatre company, a husband, family, friends… Overloaded? Me? Never. Thankfully I’ve managed to be more regular with our rides, so she gets more like 2-3 days off a week instead of 5.

This was a massive blessing when our local drag hunt (no foxes) posted on their FB page that the next hunt would be on a Saturday instead of the usual Sunday (which I can’t attend right now due to theatre) – I had a week’s notice and scrambled to cancel all of my plans (sorry wonderful dressage coach/friend) and get insurance on the trailer to be able to join the hunt. I knew it could very possibly be the only one I attend this year.

Forecast called for snow and very chilly temperatures, but the morning of dawned as clear as you can imagine and about as warm as my freezer. I poured myself ungracefully into as many layers as I could safely ride in, packed the show coat and tall boots and buzzed off to the barn early, knowing that my trailer tires badly needed a fill up.

I may have never felt so adult in my life

Thankfully Vesper wasn’t much of an idiot getting on the trailer, so we left the barn right on schedule. 95% of the drive was on our big (interstate) highway, which made the trip easy once I became accustomed to towing at 110km/h. I inevitably couldn’t figure out where the property entrance was once I arrived, but made a friend in a gal who was also looking for the right spot. She and I eventually found the group.

Perfect weather is perfect

Vesper of course needed to look AT EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE but after 3 years of this, I am quite accustomed to tacking up a moving target. It was a small group, only about 9 of us this time, and only 2 hounds left. They recently went through a restructure and rehomed the pack – Leopard and Oliver are the only 2 left for now.

I was secretly thrilled that Leopard begged for pets – he seemed happy to just stay for scratches and forget the hunt!

Once I mounted up, Vesper didn’t take long to settle down, bless her. She’s a unicorn in disguise, I’m convinced. Milling horses, monstrously loud farm equipment, a train blowing by us: none of it fazed her. She may not enjoy standing still just about ever, which is super annoying, but I would not trade her for anything.

We had to wait for about 20 minutes for the scent to be laid and for a couple more riders to arrive and join us, and some of the horses weren’t comfortable going near the passing train, but eventually we kicked off onto the massive property.

Helmet cam footage:

We crossed a running river 3 or so times to begin with, which Vesper wanted to stop and play in very inconveniently, and we took it very easy to start as I didn’t want to burn her out. We partnered up with the gal I met at the beginning, who was attending her first hunt, and our mares got along great in tandem.

Galloping over fields, through water, through woods and across roads is my absolute favourite way to ride. It can be super technical and also utterly freeing. The conditions were sublime: firm ground without being too hard, sunshine to reduce the chill of the day but not too cold or too hot for a 2 hour hunt.

Unfortunately I only got the first half on my helmet cam. We took part in 6 “runs” total, with about 10-15 minute breaks after each one. Vesper wasn’t nearly as unfit as I worried she might be, and even going unshod she didn’t come up sore at all this time (last time we left with a stone bruise). I loved dressing up in show attire and taking part in such a traditional event. Vesper is utterly in her element while hunting – the only thing that needs work is her brakes.

We didn’t jump much, as I barely did any jumping this winter and I wasn’t feeling confident to hit some of the prepared fences. In the second half, I did take all the fences offered once we’d had a chance to warm up. Vesper sort of deked out at the first one as I didn’t set her up correctly and basically didn’t ride her to it at all, but after that it was smooth sailing.

In tandem with Kaitlin and Sun

At one point, I had to close my eyes and drop my head into her neck and pray that she wouldn’t crash into the horses ahead of us as we barrelled through some very grasping branches; I would probably have lost an eye. One of them even cracked the screen protector on my phone that was tucked into my arm holster! I won’t make that mistake next time.

Another adventure resulted in me losing a stirrup as we bounded up a very sketchy, loose-footing hill into the trees. It’s moments like that that I want to feed my horse all of the carrots in the world and make sure she knows how absolutely epic she is. I couldn’t tell what was coming up, only that we had to follow the leaders, so I had to just add leg, hang on and trust my steed. One of the things I absolutely love about the hunt is that there isn’t really time for worry or hesitation; you often have to just trust your horse and “kick on” to get through a messy patch. I have long been an anxious rider, so this has been an excellent exercise to boost my confidence and build the trust between Vesper and I. Hunting is the reason I felt eventually confident enough to try eventing.

The spectacular location along the Fraser River
I pansied out and took the smaller fences this time. I’m calling it wisdom and sticking to that story

We were in the saddle for 2 hours, and unfortunately I had to skip the brunch afterwards as it was a 45 min drive back home, plus the inevitable cleaning up and replacing the trailer which feels like it takes decades. I had a theatre performance to get to that evening so time was not on my side.

All in all, it was a thrill and a challenge, and it is my solemn goal to attend the final hunt of the season at the end of March – since that’s the next time I’ll be available!

Show recap, Uncategorized

Day 2: XC recap

Let’s get to the really fun part!

Saturday afternoon post-stadium was the course walk, which was quite enjoyable as I had the run of the field almost to myself. I took a brief detour on my route to have my photo taken with the jump I played over a couple of weeks ago (see below video) – turns out it’s a prelim one! I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time.

It did not look this big from horseback. Someone lock me away for my own safety

My own (much more reasonably-sized) course consisted of lovely ramps, barns and logs that were inviting with just a hint of a challenge.

#6 was one of the more intimidating ones as it was wider to the left than on the right side, and we both drift left

Now, I had a bit of a brain fart when I came to jump #16:

What I didn’t notice was that it was labeled on the other side as Training’s #14 (I discovered this 2 days later, derp) – all I saw at the time was this absurd reverse-angled ramp that made no sense, with the world’s biggest ditch on what would have been the landing side for me. Thanks to this jump, I spent the rest of the evening rather stressed, worrying that we wouldn’t have enough stamina to navigate this one so deep into our course, not to mention the expected rain all evening and on Sunday. I went to bed with the decision that, as we were sitting at 12th place, I would have a nice safe XC ride and just enjoy it at a bit of a slower pace. I figured that, even if we nailed our optimum time (4:33), we’d never come anywhere near a ribbon, so I made my peace with that.

Sunday dawned without the dreaded rain. In fact, the sun slid in and out of the clouds as I loaded Vesper up after a nice sleep in, and I felt a little more hopeful for our day. Unfortunately, I slept in a little too long, and arrived with only 40 minutes until my ride; and, inevitably, they were running ahead of schedule. Nothing stresses me out quite like being strapped for time.

My mom showed up to cheer me on, and I feel awful because I was in such a rush to tack up and get warmed up that she definitely didn’t receive a lot of welcome from me (I’m really sorry Mom, you’re the best <3). I literally stepped into the warm up ring, got called over for tack check, they recommended I head to the starting gate ASAP and I got 1 lap of canter and 1 jump each direction. 0/10 recommend doing it this way. Did I mention unicorn? She knows her job; she knows how to XC better than the pros; I just steer.

I had exactly zero seconds of prep before they counted down from 15 and we were off!

The first thing I noticed was that Vesper was really responsive – I wouldn’t quite use the word “quiet”, but she’s never been so easy to rate on the XC field before. I expected her to launch out and grab the bit which is sort of her usual state of affairs, but this time I actually had to ask her to step out in her stride a bit, as I wanted to attack the first log. After that, I tested my brakes a bit and she came back to me immediately. She was shockingly easy to rate, and so from that point on we settled into a nice, light gallop that was easy to adjust as needed. None of this “dang where did I put that e-brake” like we usually have. Either she has way more confidence in my abilities these days, or she was tired from day 1.

It was a delight to go forward to our jumps and I felt like we were really meshed as a team. Each fence was confident and almost (dare I say it) easy. The mildly-worrisome #6 came nicely in stride, resulting in another boost of confidence. The grass was not as slick as I was concerned about, and around jump #5 the sun came out completely! I’m pretty sure I really started grinning then.

#7 lead us over the dyke (and past a very large, very random, very dead fish – you’ll hear me exclaim about it in the video if your sound is up!) and down a sandy track which I planned to trot through; it would give Vesper a breather and reduce our slipping hazard on such a sharp turn and descent. We probably eased back a bit too much at this point, but the ground was mucky and I don’t regret playing it safe.

A couple more jumps to a fun little up/down combo, a long angled line to a big log which lead us almost straight into the water splash. Vesper loves the water and plows right in. Except this time, apparently! They chemically treat the water to make it a striking blue/green colour, and I think it threw her a bit, because she hit the brakes pretty hard and almost unseated me before she took her sweet time at jogging through the giant puddle. I was embarrassed on her behalf.

Up over the dyke we had to go again, and the dreaded jump #16 was on the other side. I was gritting my teeth, gathering all my bravery as we crested the dyke, ready to kick forward to that monster fence that didn’t belong in my division… I glanced over to check my line, and lo and behold! They had removed the ramp. Jump #16 was now: simply a ditch. Talk about deflated balloon. I wanted to laugh but I was too busy trying to keep breathing. Guess who hit the pause button again at the ditch. Guess who never pauses at ditches. Guess who almost fell off because she was in jumper seat, not eventer seat. That would have been embarrassing on my behalf.

After overcoming such a letdown of a fence, the rest of the course was peanuts. #17 was a basic drop bank, bending line to the last 2 fences. We hit our OT (4:33) between the last 2 jumps, so I knew we would get time penalties, but I was so happy with our safe and successful ride that I didn’t even mind. Even playing it super safe with way more trotting than I ever planned, we clocked in at about 5 seconds over OT. Vesper was barely puffed, which was awesome and means that all our recent conditioning paid off.

2 of my best friends had shown up right as I was starting the course, so I had another little cheering squad for the day. Vesper got all the pats, treats and hay and I tried not to collapse while wrapping her legs. I did lie down on the grass for a minute when I was finished, my legs felt like jello. 5 minute wall squat on a running, jumping animal, yo.


I wanted to grab my dressage breakdown from the office and see if any final results were available, so we wandered over to take a look. Based on the results sheet, they had listed my time at 5:38. Hold up. That’s an entire minute slower than what I clocked myself at. It had me at 26 time penalties and second-from-last place. Nuh-uh. I mentioned it to the girls at the desk, who agreed that for a clear round it was way off, unless I had been trotting the entire thing. They told me to check back once they had a chance to confer with the time marshals on the field.

We hung out for a bit, and came back in time to see the office manager posting new results for my division: my updated time was 4:38, a much more appropriate 2 time penalties and 8th place! That was quite a jump from 12th. I was fairly certain that ribbons only went up to 6th, but when I checked, the office manager corrected me that ribbons were given up to 8th place! Insert many exclamation marks. I was floored. I may have almost cried. Almost.

Look at this massive beautiful rosette
What a poser

Placing at my very first full event was really the cherry on the top for the weekend. Part of me wished I had pushed our XC time a bit more, but overall I’m really glad I chose the safe route. I know now for the future about how V handles that type of footing, and I’ll be better prepared for our next one.

Queen of my heart

Just like last year, I came out of this event ready for more. In fact, I gave the Training level jumps a solid side-eye, and I am fairly certain that we could have a go at those next season… 😉

“COOKIES. NOW.”