“A tale of two Sammys”

I headed up to Coilog this morning and left the horses at home in the field (rather nice of me I thought instead of them standing in the box 🤷‍♀️) while I helped out with the running of the show. Id planned to pop back and pick the horses up.

I got a text from the yard team to say that Sammy had done his party piece and removed his head collar and was refusing to be caught bucking and squealing around the field. 🙈 so off home I went, wellies on and caught the little delinquent – he knows the game is up when he sees me. 🙄

On to Coilog and I knew he was debating his life choices. Two horses being led past the arena resulted in a squeal and a bronc up the warm up 😅😳

Our first test was interesting, turn right at C, delude yourself into loading horses hind legs to medium trot and explosion 💥 instead. The rest of the test was ok but he was on a hair trigger. Swear to god lads I’ve the strongest ass cheek muscles in Kildare because when he’s doing a Sammy if I move one – he’s off 🤣😱

Second test time. The heavens opened. The rain poured down my back and fook me I hate rain. I honestly had some sort of mental rocky balboa moment. See on a Wednesday after I do my coaching with Oisin, I go home and practice on Sammy and it’s become “no win Wednesday” because he never gets away with anything. So I know he can do it.

In a moment of soaking wet determination I wrapped my legs around him like I was clinging on a barrel and got stuck in and told myself to sit down in the saddle and bloody ride him 💪

The result was something I’m still processing – an overall class win on a personal best score (almost 69%!) from a UK list one judge 😳😳😳

So cheers 🥂 to my Sammy the failed former riding school horse who makes me laugh daily and who finally today became the dressage horse I always knew he could be 😍🥰❤️

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Photoshoot with Equieire

Well, Saturday was a little bit different!!

My friends and I took part in an amazing photoshoot with local Irish Equestrian business Equieire I cannot WAIT to see the photos by the fabulous Caroline from Ascent Media.

Sammy was in his element posing with everyone where as Oisin and I changed dressage for showjumping for the action part of the shoot.

So lovely to enjoy time with horses with friends 😊🐴

Equieire are an Irish business and I’ve been involved for quite some time with product testing. Its been amazing to see the brand come to life! This photoshoot used real women who are real riders – showing how Equieire is a brand for all shapes and sizes. Equieire’s owner Emma Keogh prides herself in using sustainable fabrics.

If you like the look of the products in this sneak peek head over to the website where there’s a Black Friday offer of 25% off 🇮🇪🐴 http://www.equieire.com

Getting There

Oisin on Sunday 😍🐴

I love that Louise O’Brien Equestrian Photography takes so many shots as it’s a learning experience for riders and there’s always one you love.

There’s so many photos where I could pick myself apart as I’ve so much to work on and practice (honestly sometimes I wish I could wear L plates!) but then I saw this one where it’s heading in the right track and we look like teammates 😍I’m even sitting up 🤣

🦄

The Rise of the Equestriennes

Today, my #mondaymotivation with Equitas Equitas is dedicated to what I’m going to call “The Rise of the Equestriennes” or as one of my friends calls us “the galloping housewives” after the wonderful blog of the same name – you can follow it here The galloping housewife

Yesterday, at Marlton, a woman offered me her boots because I forgot my own. Well, I didn’t forget, worse – I grabbed two boots only to find upon arrival they didn’t match and were for the same leg!! So she offered me her boots and when I protested that she was about to go home she told me I could bring them to the next show. By boots, I mean her custom made mock crock patent Petries that I drool over in the warmup. As luck had it (because I would have been shaking in fear of damaging these divine boots) my pupil Georgia has the same size feet as me and was shoving me into hers so that I wouldn’t be late .

Lynn and Georgia had waited for me after her tests to help me up (literally).

In the warmup we met Sarah. Sarah Elebert Eventing – Equicoach Online Sarah my Equitas pal, Sarah who always has a smile for everyone, Sarah who catches your eye when your nervous and says “hey, that looked great”. I asked her when I realised I’d thought the wrong test was the first test. She helped me learn it. I helped her learn the second one. She offered to call my second for me. She checked my horse was active enough. I collected her sheets. To anyone looking up the entries we were competing in the same classes against each other but in reality it felt like we were on the same team.

Louise made Oisins day by stroking his face between taking photos as we watched Helen ride her test buoyed on by her daughters. Louise O’Brien Equestrian Photography doesn’t just take photos. She takes memories, she catches smiles. She captures the essence of rider and horse and gives it back to us so that we can remember how it feels to achieve, to elevate, to be at one with an animal and block out the rest of the world.

The competition ring often brings us together rather than dividing us. When we arrive we shed the labels that we have worn all week – mother / wife / daughter / girlfriend / carer/ career woman / stay at home mom / housewife and we embrace the equality of being competitor number 52 in class 7 on our halo horse.

We are the equestriennes.
We live for the weekends.
We voice note each other on the way to and from the show cheering each other on from different locations
We celebrate
We commiserate
We share victories and sympathies.
We understand the joy of a horse who stands and loads quietly as we are often our own groom and our own support team.
We catch each other’s eye in the warmup and we raise a smile or an eyebrow in a mutual respect.
We throw our hearts over fences and hope our horses follow.
We leave all our non horse worries at A as we head up the centreline.
We know we are not going to the Olympics but we aim for and smash our own goals.
We go to sleep after a Sunday adventure and re jump fences and re ride movements in our dreams.
We are the equestriennes
We don’t know how to be anything else 😊❤️🐴

#iamnotdone

A wrote a post for the Grassroots gazette this week. It centered around the fact that in my opinion we have way too many melancholic posts doing the rounds on social media about being “done” and about being tired of pretending to enjoy competing.

My issue was the insinuation that professional riders resent these amateurs (they dont?!) and that most of us on social media are pretending to be happy. If your done, be done and go and find what makes you happy instead. leave the rest of us alone to enjoy our sport.

  • Im never done
  • I compete against myself, any win is a bonus
  • Everyone is responsible for their own happines, figure out and do what sets your soul on fire.
  • Those of us over 25 and not at the olympics wont be sitting quietly to die in a corner – many of us are just getting started
  • I never pretend to be happy – the whole ethos of my website has always been finding humour in the often harsh reality of equestrianism

You can read the full article here – https://thegrassrootsgazette.ie/i-am-not-done/?fbclid=IwAR02Qh0BNHr2H3mxF3PRMQYSrxtTGK3MDyf1Fkb0Whc3NyY9-tO9VrAbpZY

“A tale of two Sammys”🐴🐴

I headed up to Coilog this morning and left the horses at home in the field (rather nice of me I thought instead of them standing in the box 🤷‍♀️) while I helped out with the running of the show. Id planned to pop back and pick the horses up.
I got a text from the yard team to say that Sammy had done his party piece and removed his head collar and was refusing to be caught bucking and squealing around the field. 🙈 so off home I went, wellies on and caught the little delinquent – he knows the game is up when he sees me. 🙄

On to Coilog and I knew he was debating his life choices. Two horses being led past the arena resulted in a squeal and a bronc up the warm up 😅😳
Our first test was interesting, turn right at C, delude yourself into loading horses hind legs to medium trot and explosion 💥 instead. The rest of the test was ok but he was on a hair trigger. Swear to god lads I’ve the strongest ass cheek muscles in Kildare because when he’s doing a Sammy if I move one – he’s off 🤣😱

Second test time. The heavens opened. The rain poured down my back and fook me I hate rain. I honestly had some sort of mental rocky balboa moment. See on a Wednesday after I do my coaching with Oisin, I go home and practice on Sammy and it’s become “no win Wednesday” because he never gets away with anything. So I know he can do it.


In a moment of soaking wet determination I wrapped my legs around him like I was clinging on a barrel and got stuck in and told myself to sit down in the saddle and bloody ride him 💪


The result was something I’m still processing – an overall class win on a personal best score (almost 69%!) from a UK list one judge 😳😳😳


So cheers 🥂 to my Sammy the failed former riding school horse who makes me laugh daily and who finally today became the dressage horse I always knew he could be 😍🥰❤️

#myhorse #besthorse #cobscan #dreamscancometrue #achievinggoals #wegotthis #teammate

Cleaning out an equestrian jeep.

I cleaned out my jeep last weekend. 😱

Yes you heard that correctly and no I haven’t gone insane. I had to fit two humans, a dog and enough stuff for 3 days into it so it was inevitable. 👱‍♂️👱‍♀️🐶

If you haven’t cleaned your horsey vehicle out for a while I’d highly recommend it – it’s like an episode of hoarders.

I had enough whips in the back of black beauty the jeep to host an S & M party. 😅
In my defence there are several categories of whip:

1) Fancy dressage whip only used at competitions
2) Less fancy schooling whip used when you are riding something spicy and may have to drop it like its hot and don’t want to risk the fancy one being lost / stepped on
3) Second less fancy one as you forgot the first one was in the jeep.
4) Ancient long forgotten schooling whip with the tassel long gone
5) Fancy jumping whip only used at shows
6) Other jumping whip not used because the handle is annoyingly heavy
7) About 16 older jumping whips because every time I go to drive out the yard I think oh yeah I must bring one just in case as I’ve forgotten I have several others already.

The irony of this is I have two horses and I only actually ever carry a whip on one of them. Our riding school manager watching me finding all of this and quietly took and rehomed all of category 7 as he now understood why he couldn’t find any!

I also have apparently been preparing for a zombie apocalypse 👽where I will have to live in my car as I have in the boot a ground sheet, a fold up bed, a sleeping bag, several bottles of water, a change of clothes and a torch. The one thing that of course I don’t have is a f00king tent because that would actually make sense. 🤦‍♀️

Other delights thrown up by Black Beauty the jeep that I suspect exist in most equestrian vehicles were:

– Mane combs with various number of teeth missing. Explains why I can never find the little f**kers in the yard

– Hoof pick.

– First aid kit for horses. Obviously none for a human but to be fair if Botanica cream Botanica International Ltdand vet wrap can’t fix it you might as well drive to A & E

– Bandages and bandage wraps

– Baler twine aka McGuyver string

– High viz stuff

– Horse treats

– Hoods off various jackets as I have a hatred of hood flapping behind me when I ride

– Insulation tape and vet wrap

– Headcollar and lead rope as we have all had a horse break a rope at a show and we all know someone who had to rescue a random roaming horse on the road

– Jump leads and all the breakdown stuff that will work on a jeep but not a horsebox tyre

– Plastic bags with a handful of plaiting bands in them

– Protein bars and jellies the staple diet of an on the road equestrian

– Sunglasses. I have at any time 100 pairs or 0 pairs of sunglasses. I buy all of mine at penneys / primark because I lose them about six times a day. The only odd one out of a pair of who knows if they are fake rayban type things that a randomer gave to me when I was very drunk in a pub one night as they apparently suited me better than them (cheers mate!).

– Packet of dried out window wipe things.

– Random spare metal fixings / clips from horse box
– Lip gloss for when you look like sweaty road kill but need to go somewhere sociable on the way home (lipgloss and sunglasses FTW).

– Shoes that you forgot you put in there

– One glove. The missing pair from the one glove at home you threw out because it had no pair

– Old dressage tests because who knows when you will need to review the fact that your horse needed to be more supple on 2nd April 2 years ago

– Changing cables usually for every phone on the planet bar the phone you actually have

– Baby wipes because you intended to clean your tack and boots and you didnt

– Toilet roll. Only a fool goes to a show without toilet roll

Equestrian Clothing Manufacturers – We need to talk!

Equestrian clothing manufacturers – we need to talk! I have questions…

I’m all for innovation in product but there’s also a need to know your market. Lately I’ve seen a wealth of new items in stores that I can only describe as a climate mismatch. ☀️☔️❄️

My current favourite is the riding leggings with knee ventilation which I actually observed with interest on an Irish child last week as this clothing function basically operated as a colander for rain. 🧐

There are many functional features that I look for in breeches and riding tights from waterproof fabric (pretty much #1) to phone pockets (what the fook is with creating clothing without pockets?) to making my @rse look decent. 💃

Nowhere on my list does “knee ventilation” appear.

In fact in terms of problems I encounter on a daily basis when riding and working with horses – sweaty knees are unlikely to ever make it into the top ten.

To do so they would have to bypass issues such as “why am I sweating in this”, “why are my elbows wet”, “Jesus wept why would you put a seam THERE”, “this is less breathable than me going snorkelling”, “why wont they stay UP” and “waterproof my hole”. Do you suffer with sweaty knees?

Is knee ventilation a serious necessity in the Irish Climate that I’m just blissfully unaware of? 🤷‍♀️

I’m sure some of you will say “ oh but for Summer” – Summer, those 3 or 4 days where the weather peaks 15 degrees. All I will say in answer to that is why would you want to give flies an entrance hole to your tasty leg?! 😱

Secondly, the helmets with the massive brims that are likely to help you develop neck problems as your head is leaned forwards due to the gravitational pull of the size of the damn things.

Look Mary, I am sure this looks great when you’re in Florida and need to keep the baking sun off your face as you ride around in your knee ventilated riding tights but over here it will at best keep the hailstones out of your eyes.

Things Instructors and Coaches Say

There was a post the other week on the “sh*teventersunite” page about phrases commonly used by instructors / coaches. Now while I have a few phrases of my own (mainly about elbows and clicking), it got me thinking of some of my favourite phrases I have heard screamed at me while on a horse.


🦄“You stupid child, why did you fall off?!”🦄
This sums up why I am so grateful to have grown up in the 80’s and 90’s before people became sneauxflakes and got offended by everything.Back then, you wanted it or you didn’t and you learned to stay on or you didn’t and if you did it wrong you were told you did it wrong and if you wanted to learn you tried harder and did it right. I’d been riding a pony around a field and went @rse over head off after a fence. I didn’t quite have an answer as to why this had occurred but I learned to try harder to keep the pony between my bum and the ground. This was one of many classic phrases my the late and legendary Betty Fahy who taught me how to ride at Greenhills a few decades back. My other favourite was “don’t go three quarters of a mile away” when representing a horse to a fence after a refusal.

🦄“You look like a doll tied to a sheep”🦄
Of all the insults ever levelled at me this is my favourite for both inventiveness and accuracy. I used to have a very fast mare that I had little to no control over and to be honest most of the time I was in the passenger role and she just did everything for me. My instructor had likened this to a country fair when dolls are tied to a sheep who then race to give the appearance that the sheep has a jockey.

🦄“It’s all fine but then he does the tourettes bit”🦄
The most accurate description to date of me attempting half pass or collected canter on Sammy

🦄“Don’t you dare try to tell me the horse did that himself”🦄
If you know Sammy you will know that one of his quirks is surprise things touching his legs especially white things. During a show jumping clinic we were to jump a dogs leg with white poles as tram lines between the fences for guidance. Sammy jumped the first, dived around the tramlines, re routed himself and jumped the second fence. I got a b0llocking for atrocious riding and for blaming the horse. Sammy was delighted with himself and yes he bloody well did do that himself!

🦄“It’s not that we don’t love Sammy, we do. Its just sometimes even if you asked with perfect aids he might do it or he just might not because he doesn’t want to”🦄
This is Sammy. This is one of the many reasons why I love him. If he doesn’t want to do it, he just isn’t going to do it. If he wants to do it, you can ride like a potato and he will sort himself out. It’s a lottery.

🦄“You must ride the fourth pizza slice”🦄
One of my dressage instructors thought outside the box and used food to explain why I am so sh*t at riding the crucial fourth quarter of a circle.

🦄“I have no idea what that was so I just wrote spooking”🦄
This was an in person comment from a dressage judge who also coached upon witnessing Sammy “doing a Sammy” for the first time. We rode half a circle, he fecked off at high speed squealing, he then put himself back in his own box and finished the circle.

🦄“Of course you must ride sitting trot. Its dressage – dressage is sitting trot”🦄
I had gone for a lesson with a trainer who made me sit for the entire lesson. My half chap had a gammy zip and as I rode it got looser and looser and ended up hanging around my foot like a flapping dying crow as the horse dove away from it. I made one vague attempt at clawing it back up my leg which was met with a short sharp “sitting trot!!”. So we spent the rest of the lesson ignoring the flapping elephant in the room as I slowly developed muscle damage and breathing difficulties

🦄“why would you drop your reins”🦄
Why indeed? Anyone ever watch ‘arrested development’ where the guy panics when under pressure and curls into a ball on the ground? I have my own version of his – reins down, excess speed, questionable leg , face squinched up and general ‘Jesus take the wheel’ approach to things going wrong. Would I recommend? No, no I would not. #doasisaynotasido

🦄“More leg”🦄
This one of all the things that coaches say, usually men, that perplexes me. I’m five foot nothing. I have a limited amount of leg. If its on, its fooking on. Its genuinely not like I’m sat there casually applying 40% leg and holding the rest back for a rainy day because I can’t be bothered to apply a little more. Now, it may not be on in in the most effective manner (read may not as probably isn’t) but that’s a whole other chapter in the book of how to learn to ride.

🦄“You look terrified”🦄
Well, lets recap. In horse riding we have decided to climb on board an independent minded, 600kg+ animal with genetically pre-installed ‘fight mode’ and ‘flight mode’ buttons and a questionable physical make up involving a huge trunk on spindly legs. As if that wasn’t enough, in jumping we have then decided to use our own badly co ordinated body to see what happens when you throw this animal into the air. Yeah, seems legit. Thank god for gin.

Things I am not emotionally equipped to deal with in the equestrian world – competition edition

If you know me, you will know that there are certain things my brain just cant process. Its me not you – I know this 😃🤯 This is tongue in cheek and not intended to cause offense but sure it probably will anyway #sorryKaren

🐴White fly veils 🐴

*side note, people who call them bonnets, please stop it hurts me!

This one will be hard to understand if you didn’t grow up as a child in a small village in Ireland. Part of the ritual of growing up and of having any form of a social life was taking Irish dancing classes. It’s a weird style of dance where it’s a party from the waist down and a coma from the waist up. 💃Competitions are called a “feis” and for these the tradition is a mass of curls in your hair. Now the pros wear wigs but the rest of us would have our limp hair tied up in rags, sprayed with hair spray and left in over night. To keep them while you slept in your mam would pop a pair of (clean!) knickers on top. Unfortunately now I can’t see a horse in a white fly veil without thinking of this childhood trauma 👙Oh also, cheap thick knobbly crocheted fly veils worn under expensive ergonomically shaped custom fitted shaped bridles all of the benefits of which are probably derailed by the lumps sticking into the horses poll

🐴An even number of plaits 🐴

It was beaten into me for years under an instructor of traditional values that you must have an uneven number of plaits. So I apologise but if you haven’t followed this rule I’m just itching to take one out!

🐴Pre tied stocks🐴.

One of my limitations in life is my lack of a graceful swan like neck – to be fair it would look rather out of place on my hobbit sized body. Pre tied stocks are perfectly lovely but usually fasten with Velcro. For the short necked among us this Velcro then tangles in the little hairs at the back of your neck which is a sensation that sets my teeth on edge. I wore one once and spent the entire dressage test wanting to remove and burn it

🐴The post Eventing jeep🐴

One of the many things I wasn’t equipped to deal with Eventing (the main one being not falling off on my hole cross country) is the carnage of the post Eventing jeep. I used to travel with a friend and on the way there everything was organised like a little equestrian filing cabinet. That “summer” it rained and it rained. It peaked at one event where I couldn’t get changed as my legs were so wet after removing my sodden clothes that I had to dry myself with a cooler rug and all the hair from the rug stuck to my legs. (I now bring a towel to all shows!). The jeep on the way home was a vehicular Glastonbury – mud, hair, more mud, strands of grass. I’ve since decided that Eventing is a lorry owners sport.

🐴Unplaited forelocks in Dressage🐴

I just can’t. Either plait it or wear a fly veil. The option to just leave it wafting around in the wind in contrast to a perfectly plaited mane just isn’t a thing.

🐴Giant five point breast plates on tiny horses and ponies🐴

These are usually so big that the horse looks stuck in a spider web of leather with giant clumps of sheepskin

🐴Wet Sandy sheepskin 🐴

The thoughts of wet sheepskin with sand and sweat stuck to it makes my skin crawl. It’s a sensory thing I just (literally) cannot handle it. The irony is I actually like sheep skin but restrict it to half pads for the afore mentioned reasons

🐴Show jumping boots with plastic straps and metal stud fasteners. 🐴

It’s always too tight or too loose. It never fastens in the same hole on each strap. It wrecks my head

🐴The wearing of eleven million white boots bandages and over reach boots in the dressage warm up arena.🐴

Note – I totally understand this on something that’s at high level or young or highly strung or likely to kick itself in the face but on a very calm middle aged horse about to do a prelim that wouldn’t over reach if the hounds of hell were chasing it – it just feels a little unnecessary. I say this as the owner of a horse with no breeding that’s so wide that knocking itself would be equestrian pilates

🐴Saddle pads leaning on the withers🐴

Usually this atrocity occurs underneath a vert expensive saddle with plenty of wither clearance – ?!?

🐴velcro saddle pad tabs living their best life🐴

These are the straps designed to go around the girth straps on a non monflap saddle to keep the saddle from slipping back. On a monoflap saddle they are often either wedged underneath the saddle to hide them or just left to their own devices partying away. I am not going to lie – I cut them off. A friends teenager is still in shock after witnessing the sacriledge of me defacing an eskadon pad with a scissors in this manner but i’d argue the world is in a better place after.