High Maintenance

Well it’s official. Jack is absolutely the most high maintenance horse I’ve ever owned. And yet, as we close in on our one-year anniversary of being a team, I don’t regret choosing this big yellow dude at all.

As it turns out, whatever it is that caused the hives last week is apparently still around and still causing us problems. After being officially weaned off of Dex on May 4th, by the morning of May 6th the hives were already returning, and the golden boy looked a little long in the face.


We also had a bit of an accident that resulted in some very high emotions in me and some scrapes on Jack. Luckily with icing and bute that seems to be resolved. Just another thing in the list of all the fucking things that could have not happened last week. But whatever.

Days off make for good photo days

We are meant to go show this weekend, which will be our second go at Novice. Considering the clusterfuck that has been the last several days, luckily it’s just a schooling show. And we get to school the XC the day before. So if the golden boy isn’t feeling up to the whole shebang, we can school xc and just do dressage the next day. Or school, dressage and SJ. Or you know, if he’s feeling good do the whole HT.

Either way it should be a weekend to look forward to- new team mates, old friends, and our first time showing with pretty much all of the people I love. Thank goodness- something to look forward to!

Not Our Week

Guys, I hate to be cryptic. But Jack and I need some jingles. This is not our week.

We will hopefully be back to our usual reporting next week as we get ready for our second Novice. I hope everyone has a safe weekend and fun Derby plans!

Hives Update

So Dex must be some kind of miracle drug, because by 5 yesterday, Jack was looking so much better. And while still a little groggy, he was a little perkier- certainly better than the obviously miserable state he was in that morning.

Yesterday at 5pm L side

Yesterday at 5 pm R side

Y’all, I have never seen hives like that on any creature. Seeing a breakout of that magnitude on my own horse was equal parts amazement, stress, and shock. I’m so lucky that my vet was able to come out and ease my fears and give him the IV injection he needed to make everything better.

This morning, things are looking even more improved.

A LH that actually resembles a leg

No more hives!

The plan is to keep him on decreasing doses of oral Dex for the next couple days, and probably keep him off of his normal pasture since we still don’t know what it was that set off the reaction in the first place. This evening I’ll head out to check on the golden boy, ice his leg and stuff him full of carrots.

These horses, guys, they’re going to be the death of me.


So, because nothing is ever dull with horses, I spent the morning with my vet. Again.

Yesterday, I pulled Jack out of the field and noticed this:

Saturday afternoon

A bath in case it was skin related, icing around the legs where there was a little filling, and a dose of antihistamine and I stuck him in his stall and bade him goodnight.

When I checked in with the barn manager this morning, we found this:

This morning

Halp! My horse is mutating!

pool noodle legs and rather doughy sheath

Based on the distribution, we’re going with the assumption that he ate something he is obviously allergic to. He got an IV shot of dex and I’ve wrapped him all around to try and get the leg swelling down- right now he’s so swollen he doesn’t care to walk around.

I’m lucky to have a team of people keeping on eye on him, but it still makes a horse-mom worry. Has anyone else ever dealt with hives like this? Do you know what caused them, and what did you do to treat them?

Show Recap: Longleaf Horse Trials SJ

Having won the tie for third place in the XC phase, I was fairly nervous that I was going to screw things up in the showjumping. Jack came out and warmed up beautifully, and somehow the gears in my head were still working enough to tell me to stay quiet and keep my shoulders back, despite my inner voice screaming “lean at it! Go go go!”.

Our tie-partner went into the ring before us, and I watched them put in a beautiful double clear round. Alright, so the pressure was really on now.

Then Jack and I got on course. We circled an oxer towards the middle of the arena, and after a few steps of his typical “holy sh*t, where am I?!” nonsense, he actually settled and started listening to me.

Fence 1 felt great, but as I got him straight into the approach to an oxer-to-oxer line he started snowballing into the first fence. A hard half halt to remind him that we don’t do that sort of thing and he came back enough for the third fence on course.

Fence 3

Fences 4 and 5 came up fine, and though we were booking we somehow made the rollback turn back to 6. This is where I went wrong- I let the canter get too strung out, and as a result he took out the top rail with his knees. I can tell you, there were a number of four letter words rolling through my head at that point, and after watching the video I’m glad that I didn’t actually say them out loud.

Fence 7B out of the 2 stride combo

The rest of the course rode beautifully, but our unfortunate rail cost us 2 places. Still, as seemed the trend for the rest of the show up to that point, I was just thrilled that Jack felt more relaxed and rideable than he had before. And Novice didn’t feel so big as it seemed back in February at the schooling day.

Fence 8 and a happy poneh

I’m also starting to learn to think and ride in showjumping, which is a big win for me- normally I’m so focused on the order of the fences there’s little room for anything else. We may have wrapped up the weekend a little lower in the standings that I had hoped (my yellow ribbon collection was coming along so nicely), but all in all it was a super debut at a new level for Jack, and he came back a little wiser and a little more confident as a result. For that I’m incredibly thankful.

Show Recap: Longleaf Horse Trials XC

As far as a move up course, this one couldn’t have been better. In many ways it was simply a larger version of the BN course, but with a couple interesting lines/combos thrown in for good measure. It included a drop at 7, then an interesting terrain combination at 9AB, and a 2 stride combination at 15AB.

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Despite my cross country nerves (which I think will never go away), I felt fairly confident that as long as I rode every fence that this would be a good course for Jack. We did get deep spots in a couple places, and he definitely bobbled going into the 9AB combo (lots to look at, including the training ditch right next to our question). BUT overall this was the most locked-on and confident he has felt on XC. How do I know?? The Golden Boy actually started hunting down a skinny Prelim brush coming out of the first water. As you’ll hear me say on camera, “Are you crazy?”

I also got good practice looking at my watch (something I definitely didn’t do last time), since I was tied going into XC and wanted to be close-ish to the optimum time. I still came in 20 seconds under, but was able to make decisions about trotting in a couple places and collecting him to the last fences to try and let the clock run up a bit. Who knew it was possible to think and ride at the same time?!

Maybe you wouldn’t have to jump like that Jack if you opened your eyes?

Seriously though, it was awesome to come off the course feeling like Jack had grown in confidence and experience over the last 5 minutes. And that’s how he officially became a Novice horse!



Show Recap: Longleaf Horse Trials Dressage

So, the recap of our Novice debut begins!

We arrived at the Carolina Horse Park much later than I originally had hoped for Friday evening after a day of utter chaos, but I was able to eek in our ride, which was 20 minutes free walk-medium walk transitions plus a little trot and canter, before the light ran out.

Saturday morning because of the timing I opted to do Jack’s pre-ride instead of hand walking, because it seems to settle his brain much more to have a job. So we meandered along the track of the warm up ring for a solid 10 minutes, followed by 5 min of free walk – medium walk transitions, then trot-walk transitions and a canter circle in each direction before going back in.

The pre-ride seems key for Jack, and when we went back out to the warmup ring before the actual test he felt much more relaxed. We repeated much of the routine from earlier in the day, with a focus on energy and straightness, and with him feeling ace we headed into the dressage ring.

Overall I’m thrilled with the test. He felt so relaxed that I was finally able to ask for more energy in the trot. This in itself has been a big goal, as we’ve been keeping his trot small and relaxed in the show ring to be a little risk-aversive. If we had pushed for a bigger trot before he was really relaxed, we always had moments of tension, hollowing, or breaking to the canter. This time I could put my leg on and not get an anxious tail swish or hollowing. Eventually I think I can ask for an even more forward trot, but this was a solid milestone for us.

We scored a 31 for our efforts, though I had very much been hoping to break into the 20’s again. But a 31 put us tied for 3rd out of the pack of 14, and so I really shouldn’t complain. Jack was a really good boy and his confidence is just gaining and gaining with every show- and that means so much to me! Besides- we had his first Novice course to consider! Details of that to come tomorrow 🙂

The Move Up

Until I get to walk the course Friday afternoon, my feelings about our move up to Novice are running quite the gambit. Even though I know we have been jumping at that height for some time, occasionally it still happens that I get off Jack and stand next to the fence and go:

Riding both a behemoth of a horse, and never setting the fences myself (since I don’t really jump outside of lessons these days) will do that to you I guess. My trainer believes in me though, and feels like this is totally doable. Hell- we even jumped the ditch (yes, that ditch) in our lesson the other day with minimal drama. That was a major win in and of itself, no matter how this weekend goes.

It was November of 2013 that I last went Novice, and I remember how much fun I was having, right up until I got that TE for missing a fence.

…and there it goes.

So redemption would be pretty awesome. Which is why my only goals for this show are:

  • Jump all the jumps
  • Jump them in the right order
  • Don’t fall off (pleasssse)

Besides that, I just need to remember to breathe.

PS is anyone else stupid excited about the new JP movie? I am.

Red on the Right

Welcome to the new face of House on a Hill- now Red on the Right! I hope you guys are excited as me about this change, which is really less of a change in content and more just bringing the branding of the blog in line with what’s actually written here.

This blog will still be mostly about horses, with a dash of good red wine and a tongue-in-cheek approach to life as much as possible. Hence the new tagline 🙂

The color palette has shifted as well as the graphics, mostly in order to stay tied to my other entity of BGD. My photography has been often discussed on the blog, and I plan to continue since it is an increasing part of my life, not to mention it funds the horse habit itself!

In terms of other exciting things, I’m looking forward to our first Novice next weekend. Our cross country lesson last night was a blast, and Jack was more rideable than he has been over fences in quite some time. His confidence feels like it’s growing, and you will notice there’s a distinct lack of growling from me to encourage him forward. We’ve got another showjumping lesson next Thursday, and then next Friday we head back to the Carolina Horse Park for the show!

So that’s the quick update for now! I would love to hear your thoughts on the new name and look! Otherwise- everyone have a great weekend!

Changes for House on a Hill

I have been blogging now for 5 years. Holy bejeezus guys, for FIVE YEARS I have somehow found things to prattle about to a community of people that I have [mostly] never met in real life. It’s been awesome, and I am still in awe of how amazing the blogging community has been and the incredible horsepeople I have met as a result of this little space on the web.

So don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere.

Instead, I’ve simply outgrown my free little wordpress site. I guess 5 years of content, pictures, and epic animated gifs will eventually fill up 3GB of space.

Quite possibly my favorite

But then this also deserves re-sharing

It’s not always an epic fail though!

Goldenboy has a lot of gif game left in him

Ahem, anyways. Part of the deal of upgrading to an actual plan is that it includes a spiffy new domain. And since really, this blog hasn’t been about a house in a really long time, maybe it’s a good chance to rebrand.

So watch this space, as things are about to get mixed up around here!