Monday, March 2, 2015

March, Mondays, motivation and more.

Monday Motivation... When brothers snapchat dogs...

I truly cannot believe we're already a full two months into 2015. Seven months into grad school. When did that happen? It seems too long since I've just journal-brain-dumped my life, too.
Here's my prayer that March brings with it some sunshine and warmth to melt the rest of this snow that has decided to grace North Carolina. Snowver it, y'all. I've barely been able to leave the house this week, thanks to the seven inches that dumped on us Wednesday night. The cherry on top? Our power was out for 13 hours and they decided the floors that flooded (you know, the last time it snowed), needed to be torn out. Alas, the fans still live with us and we semi-feel like we're living in a construction site. Trying to convince myself concrete floors are trendy and modern, but failing...

This is my last week of classes before two weeks off - the first for spring break, the second for ACHE Congress in Chicago. In March. But it's okay, because it's Chicago for St. Patrick's Day and that makes all right. (Also, just typing that caused me to examine the contents of my closet and conclude I need green.) Unfortunately, that also means I have multiple quizzes and a midterm I have yet to buckle down and really work on yet. You know, the school part of grad school? Whoops.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

What I Bought: February

I spent the entire first half of the month sitting on my hands and not spending a dime. And then the Mary's Tack & Feed sale rolled around. Cue Jaws theme song. The catch with this month's purchases? I haven't actually gotten a single one of these items yet. Alas, the money was spent in February, so here it goes.

1. Kastel Denmark Charlotte Sun Shirt: originally $74.99, paid $56.24 (Still on sale!)
I've been wanting to try out a sun shirt for riding this spring/summer and the best reviews I've seen have been for the Kastel shirts. I originally chickened out of adding one to my cart during the Mary's sale, but when I saw this one included in the after-sale, I couldn't help myself. I'm curious to see how I like the fit and how they ride (although with this weather, who knows when I'll be able to tell that). 

2. Ogilvy Baby Pad: originally $37, paid $29.88
Again, with the reviews convincing me to spend all the money. But, how often do you find Ogilvy on sale? Now to pick a monogram style...

3. Ogilvy Jumper Half Pad: originally $199, paid $160
Um, see above? Of course, I'm trendy, but also really curious to see how this works for the horse. I originally ordered a regular black, but it was sold out, so Mary's called and asked if I would take a chocolate one. After looking at some of the pictures of the chocolate online, I decided I might even like that more. I have a thing for navy and black (yes, together), and chocolate is a good neutral to tie things together. And if I don't like it? Well, good thing I already have my eye on covers.

4. ASOS Maxi Skirt with Soft Split: originally $83, paid $50
I mentioned this in my wishlist last week, so the reasoning is still the same. I'm sure I could have waited (I'm not exactly planning on wearing any maxi skirts in 35 degrees), sizes were selling out, so I bit the bullet. We'll see how I feel about it when it gets here - I have such a specific idea of what I want and I'm not sure this is exactly it, but it's the closest I've found yet.

5. Factory Long-Sleeve Stripe Boatneck Tee: originally $44.50, paid $31.15
Another item from last week's wishlist, I knew this was on the to-buy list as soon as it went on sale again. I've missed having a good striped shirt in my closet too much. Lo and behold, it went on sale at the end of this week, so it's now (slowly) making its way to me.

6. L.L. Bean Boot, 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate: paid $189
I've been so indecisive about a pair of Bean Boots for so long, mainly because I was always coming back to the fact that I live in warm climates and don't really have the need. Then it snowed fourteen inches in the month of February. In North Carolina. And everyone goes, "So not normal! Totally never happened before!" And I go, "Uh-huh, just like you said last year when it snowed during my interview." I'm done. I figured I've got at least one more winter, plus even if it doesn't snow, it sure as heck rains all winter. So I came inside, sick of my feet freezing inside my Hunters and wiping out in my Fryes, called a friend in Denver and begged her to go to the store and find a pair in my size (hi, I don't do months-long backorders). Sure enough, one pair, my size. In the most expensive style possible, built for people with real winters that last like 8 months. But whatever. I will now be prepared. And will wear them on ski trips. Totally justified. Right?

Retail Value: $627.46
Paid: $516.27
Saved: $111.19
Minus: ($10 off at Mary's Tack)
Spent: $416.19

Note: This is pretty much (read: absolutely) all of my 'fun money' for the semester, but I'm really happy with the deals I got. The boots came out of some of my saved money for bigger purchases, because I don't consider them to be so much of my spring shopping as more of an investment-type purchase. Normally I also wouldn't consider the saddle pads as part of my monthly shopping (typically limited to clothes and hair/beauty products), but because they came out of the same allocated money this month and not 'horse money', it felt more open and transparent to include them.

Linking up with Fran for Budgeting Bloggers!

Everything should be here beginning of next week, so look for lots of reviews on things coming soon!

I also have to pitch in for Mary's customer service - they've been nothing but great, including making a personal phone call when the black Ogilvys sold out last week, and staying on the phone while I hemmed and hawed over my decision to swap colors. I so appreciate when a store has great customer service and they've been nothing but highly professional and helpful! I love being able to support a small business, even all the way across the country.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Most Expensive Wishlist

Last weekend, I mentioned a few of the clothing items on my spring wishlist. I ended up buying the striped top and the maxi skirt, so I'm excited to see them when they get here. It got me musing on my aspirational wishlist - not my 'Won the Lottery Wishlist' (that's way crazier) or even my 'CEO Wishlist' (less crazy, more practical). This one's semi-achievable, but still chock full of luxury items. Let's go shopping...

Hunt Seat Horse

That front leg though... Drool.
C'mon, did you have any doubts that #1 would be a horse? The dream is a double registered AQHA/APHA hunt seat horse. Dark, chromey with a great mind who's a 10 mover. Basically Awesome All Night, in mare form, with Quarter Horse papers.

Awesome All Night in the HUS in Scottsdale
I saw this stud show in January in Scottsdale and my jaw hit the floor. The class wasn't 15 steps into the ring before I looked at mom and went, "That one. There's your winner." (I was totally right, by the way) He. Is. Awesome. I'd love an All Time Fancy baby in my barn (and would have loved one out of Luce!)

French Bulldog

I'm obsessed with Frenchies. I may or may not follow something like 25 of them on Instagram. I have a French Bulldog notepad. I have a list of names for future ones. People, I have a problem.

I need that face.

Hermes Clic Clac

While I'm obviously animal-obsessed, I'm also a totally material person because yes, my puppy will keep me warm at night, but an Hermes bracelet will make my wrist happy. Plus, I also totally think I need all the Hermes things because my name starts with H. It's like the classiest of all the monograms. I'd love a silver one (because I wear a silver watch) in one of the neutral colors, like this pink.

Hermes Belt

Staying on trend, if you give a girl an Hermes bracelet, she's gonna want a belt. Isn't that how the book went? No? Oh, just my version then.

Devoucoux Saddle

Last fall, I rode a friend's Devoucoux and it was the most glorious thing ever. Betty the Butet is great, don't get me wrong... but that Devoucoux just set me in the perfect position and made me feel perfectly secure, all while being incredibly comfortable. Give me all the things. Please?

Barbour Beadnell

I received a quilted Barbour for Christmas this year and adore it. Of course, now I need a Beadnell for more casual wear, to the barn, around town... right? So glad we agree.

Goyard Tote

I don't care if they're trendy right now, I think they're a classic and traditional well-made bag and I'd love to have one in navy or hunter green. I'm not a huge fan of the stripes, but I love the hand painted monograms.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Breed Showing Encyclopedia: Part One

From AQHA Journal
Inspired by Lauren's post of the different types of hunters and some of the confusion that can arise when talking about what you assume is the same thing... only for it not to be, I thought, perfect timing to address some of the questions around showing on the breed show circuit. I love reading about other disciplines and learning more, so why not expand and talk about my area. This started out as a way to talk about different classes, but the more I wrote, the more complicated it grew, so it's been split into a multi-part series.

I grew up showing all-around on the Paint and Quarter Horse circuits. Typically, this means you have a one horse/one rider team who shows in a variety of classes in the Youth division or the Amateur division. Open classes certainly exist, but typically a trainer shows a horse in just one area of specialty (e.g., hunter under saddle, western pleasure, western riding, etc.) For clarification's sake, there are three main divisions within breed shows; open, amateur and youth. All follow the same rules of eligibility as most other organizations.

AQHA World hunter under saddle
Image from AQHA Journal

Within the Open category, many classes are split into Junior horse (five years and under) and Senior horse (six years and older). AQHA and APHA use January 1st as their age for the year (so you 'age out' on December 31st). Whatever age you (or your horse) is on January 1st, is the age you show as all year, even if your birthday is January 2nd! Within Youth and Amateur divisions, many age groups exist. They differ slightly between organizations, but most commonly you have AQHA and APHA's definitions. AQHA does not offer multiple age groups at their World Show, but does throughout the year at other shows. APHA splits the majority of classes at their World Show, as well as throughout the year. The most common age group split is 13 & Under and 14-18. APHA also offers a walk/trot divisions for exhibitors ages 5-9. Amateur age groups also differ slightly. AQHA splits amateurs into two areas - regular amateur classes for those over 18 and Select Amateur classes for those 50 and older. APHA offers two as well; Classic Amateurs are aged 19-44 and Masters are ages 45 & older. PtHA, ApHC and NSBA also have assorted age groupings. Additionally, most associations offer some type of 'Novice' or Limited division for Youth and Amateurs.

Are you lost yet? Hopefully not!

So what do all these classes mean?
Because there are so many classes offered, I broke this down into multiple posts. Today's all about the Hunt Seat classes. For the sake of continuity, I used AQHA as the standard. Typically, NSBA, APHA, PtHA, ApHC and ABRA follow the lead of AQHA in judging, trends and high level decisions.

At the highest levels of competition, many horses are bred specifically for one specific discipline. You're not likely to find a western pleasure horse showing in the hunter under saddle, at least not above a local or regional level. Many all-around horses do show in most or all of the pattern classes, but typically won't show in the rail classes in that case. The breeding today is highly specific - your hunt seat horses are much more Thoroughbred-y (many are half or more!) than what you'll find in a western pleasure pen. They're tall (most in the 16-17 hand range), and move out much more than the western horses. A few of the top bloodlines today include Hot Ones Only, The Big Sensation, Skys Blue Boy, Allocate Your Assets, and Coats N Tails.

Hopefully this all makes sense (and maybe you'll even totally understand my long term goals of being Top Five in the Equitation and Working Hunter at the World now), but feel free to ask questions!

Hunter Under Saddle
AQHA Hunter Under Saddle

Image from AQHA

HUS is a rail class, where horses are asked to walk, trot, and canter both directions. All horses may be asked to exhibit at a hand gallop as well. It's common to have horses two or three deep on the rail, so knowing how to ride for position via the quarter line or using your corners is important, because circling is Simply Not Done. You will typically see a lot of 'long and low' and very floaty movers here. Horses move much more freely than those under western tack and heads are carried a little higher, with a very light contact on the reins. At the big shows, you'll usually enter one at a time down the center of the arena. This is mainly used as a lameness check for all of the judges (World shows can have up to 5 judges in the ring!) One judge is a designated 'call judge' who signals gate changes. Big shows will have preliminary cuts, semi-finals and a finals.

Tack and apparel-wise, look for double sided number pads (judges prefer and big shows actually require them!), no martingales allowed, D-ring bits, dark hunt coats and your classic light breeches. The more recently trends have included ribbon collars or dark show shirts. Riders ride much more upright than you might see in an over fences setting. With the new AQHA Helmet rule going into effect this year, all youth, many amateurs and some professionals have moved from hunt caps to helmets.

Hunt Seat Equitation
AQHA Hunt Seat Equitation
Image from AQHA/KC Montgomery

A pattern class, better know as just 'Equitation', it is judged entirely on the flat. Patterns range from simple for your weekend show, to highly interpretive and complex at the highest levels. At the larger shows, a preliminary pattern, a finals pattern and finalist rail work may all be asked for. Patterns must include a trot and canter, and many include maneuvers such as sitting trot, back, sidepass, turn on the haunches or forehand, leg yield, flying changes, and hand gallops. Horses are ridden on a shorter rein, with maintained contact, and typically above the withers.

Equitation Pattern from the 2014 AQHA World Show

Again, number pads, D-Ring bits and dark hunt coats prevail, typically navy. (Although in the video, the back to back AQHA World Champion rides in a pelham!) White shirts are the norm here, with very simple or understated collars. Due to this class only being offered for youth and amateurs, look for most riders to be wearing approved helmets with a classic look, like a Charles Owen GR8 or Samshield. Black stirrups are still legal in breed show classes, and are very popular in the equitation classes.

Hunter Hack

AQHA Hunter Hack
Image from Shane Rux, of BMQ Ride the Stride

A semi-pattern class with two fences, hunter hack is an 'introductory' O/F class. Two fences on a line are between 2'3" and 3' (depending on show and division). 70% of the score comes from the fences and pattern portion, with the remaining 30% coming from railwork. Horses worked on the rail will exhibit at a walk, trot and canter both directions. Horses here are definitely going to move much more like a classic hunter you might be used to seeing in USEF competition.

The same trends are carried across here. Number pads are most common, due to the railwork, and all competitors are required to show in approved helmets. Since this class is judged on the horse, exhibitors will wear louder shirts than in the equitation.

Working Hunter Over Fences
AQHA Rulebook

AQHA Working Hunter
Image from AQHA Journal
The class most similar to what you're probably used to if you're familiar with USEF hunters, Working Hunters is a classic hunter class. A minimum of eight jumps, with at least one change of direction is required. Heights are set depending on the division and show level, but are required to be between 2'9" and 3' in junior horse, amateur and youth classes, between 3' and 3'3" in senior horse, and between 2'6" and 2'6" in novice and select amateur classes.

As a more traditional hunter class, attire follows suit. Shaped pads, light colored shirts, numbers on coats and standing martingales are all typically seen. At big shows, such as the AQHA or APHA World finals, or the Huntfield AQHA Derby Series, riders will wear shadbellies. 

Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences
AQHA Rulebook

AQHA Equitation Over Fences

Again, much more of a classic class if you're coming from the USEF circuits, equitation over fences is judged on the rider over a course of at least six jumps, requiring at least one change of direction. Jumps should be set between 2'6" and 3', depending on show and division, with novice and select courses set between 2'6" and 2'9". As this is an equitation class, it is only offered in the youth and amateur divisions.

Attire in this class is very similar to that seen in the Working Hunters, although most riders stay traditional and still show in navy coats and white jackets here.


AQHA Jumpers

The equivalent to any 'jumpers' class you're probably already familiar with, jumping requires a minimum of eight jumps consisting of jumps between 3'6" ad 4' in the open class and 3'3" and 3'6" in the amateur and youth classes. A Green Jumping class is available, however is not offered at the AQHA World Show. It is set between 3' and 3'3" and is open to horses with less than 10 points in over fences events. Jump-off heights require at least half the jumps to be raised between 3" and 6".

Standard or running martingales are permitted, as are colored saddle pads and boots. Jackets and show shirts are required, unlike in some of their equivalent USEF classes.

Pleasure Driving

APHA Pleasure Driving
Photo from Paint Horse Journal

Classified in with the hunter classes is pleasure driving. Typically the horses who cross over into driving are your taller, hunter-type horses and at shows, it counts towards the English High Point, hence my inclusion here. Pleasure Driving is only offered in the Open and Amateur divisions.

Horses are shown on the rail at a walk, park gait and road gait in both directions. Men show in suits and hats, while women wear decorative hats and elegant jackets or dresses, often 'blinged' similarly to western showmanship jackets.

Coming next... all those western classes! Alternate titles include: Wearing Eight Pound Jackets with 8000 Crystals, Why Cowboy Hat Creases Matter and Pivot On the Correct Foot or Face Death.

Monday, February 23, 2015

It was the weekend

(Is anyone else obsessed with this song? Grey's does it again. TV music was great this week.)

Remember that time I thought it was cold outside?

Oh yeah, then it did a combination of snow + freezing + rain + ice + pure miserable last week.
All. Week. Long.
After an early dismissal Monday, no classes Tuesday (aka didn't leave the house because the ground was covered in snow + an inch of ice), and a late start on Wednesday (plus the coldest day in 20 years here on Thursday!), I finally felt comfortable enough to leave the house. With 72 layers on.

Got my almost clear from the doctors on Thursday re: concussion brain. I'm still having some headaches off and on, so I'm cleared to do most anything... until it gives me a headache.

I went to the barn Friday, but since the ground was still frozen, nobody was doing much of anything. I pulled out the pony, took off his blankets, brushed him off and checked for bodily harm, stuffed him full of cookies, clothes back on and sent him off. Uneventful, minus the part where he tried to eat my coffee cup. Cool, thanks dude. (Our ground manners need a little help...)

This is not yours and you can't have it.

Of course, then I got home and my apartment had half-flooded thanks to some combination of bursting pipes + frozen water meter. Cue two hours mopping up water and the latest chic furniture additions...

Our cute little apartment is now a maze of pulled up carpet, pushed aside furniture and fans/dehumidifiers. Luckily our property managers were great about taking care of it right away and we should be back in business early this week. It definitely could have been worse - the apartment next door had water coming through the ceiling! It was also payday and I put that to good use on Sunday with two fun new purchases on their way to me...

Sunny... but cold

Saturday, I went by the barn and actually got to ride (it was still cold). Not having been ridden in over a week, to say we were spooky would be a little bit of an understatement. Our ride was more like walk, spook, trot, spook, halt, spook, trot, spook, canter, spook (even after 15+ minutes on the lungeline). I put in my two-point time (yay for leg strength or lack thereof), got two good canters in and called it a day. I don't need to come off again anytime soon thanks to #concussionbrain, and it seemed counter-productive to try and do anymore.

Feed me all cookies while I spook at bird, shadow, person, golf cart, horse, and air.
I swung by Anthropologie after the barn to look at a dress I'd seen online and got some great looks. I have apparently forgotten that riding apparel is not socially acceptable. Whatevs.

Then again, I'm also in the habit of wearing my Tailoreds as leggings. In public. To school. As pants.
If I'm going to pay $180 for a pair of pants, I'm gonna wear them, especially when they're this comfortable.


Wrapped up the weekend working all morning (Excel graphs and directional strategy for health systems), doing a little bit of volunteer work with MedWorld, working more (bundled pricing analysis for cardio DRGs this time) and watched the Oscars! Favorites? Jennifer Aniston or Emma Stone. Kiera Knightly and Nicole Kidman - what were you thinking?

And I'll leave you with this.

A photo posted by holly (@heyheyholls) on
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