Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Two Horse Tack Product Review x3

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Two Horse Tack and I was compensated for my time, however all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Two Horse Tack Nose Buckle Halter

Many bloggers have already reviewed this product, but I'd like to add another to the mix!

Griffin is modeling the Arab-size 3/4" nose buckle safety halter and lead in turquoise.

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I love this color on him.

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While his head isn't quite as refined as other horses, this halter helps bring out some of his finer features.

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As with the halter-bridle, the workmanship and hardware on this product is very solid.

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I had my doubts about the beta biothane lead, but it ties well. And while the snap isn't as heavy duty as most lead ropes, it certainly does the job. However, I wouldn't trust it with a horse who likes to test things on a regular basis as I believe it would "give" quickly and easily.

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My absolutely favorite thing about the halter though?

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It's practical nature for bridling a horse that may not be easy. (Not Griffin, for the record, he's such a total doll about bridling.)

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This halter slips off easily once a horse is bridled.

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An effortless and simple process. This halter is an amazing tool to have in your tack locker for green horses or those who need a simple reminder lesson. I'm excited to have it along for future training ventures.

Two Horse Tack English Convert-a-Bridle Bridle

And with those images, we've segued beautifully into the English Convert-a-Bridle!

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Once again, I love the "dark blue", which looks much more like royal blue, on Griffin. This is the 3/4" width, once again in Arab size.

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This bridle is a neat concept. It's both an English and a western headstall in one.

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The noseband slips easily through the bridle, right below the cheek and above the bit.

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It buckles under the chin as most English cavessons do.

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But if you so desire, it can be easily unbuckled and slipped free of the bridle.

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And presto, in no time at all, a western headstall!

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Once again, as with other products from Two Horse Tack, this bridle is very well made. The hardware is solid, the stitching is well done, and the colors are beautiful. If you're somewhere between wanting an English bridle but also utilizing a western headstall often, this is a great option for you to consider. It's perfect for trail riders who like to dress the part of whatever saddle they may be using that weekend. Bonus? The removable noseband could be used as a dog collar in a pinch or for attaching a bundle or something to your saddle - perhaps that raincoat you suddenly don't need because the skies cleared for the day.

Two Horse Tack English Breast Collar

And finally, as you've noted in numerous photos above, Griffin is also sporting the Two Horse Tack English breast collar.

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It's construction is pretty standard for an English breast collar.

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And, recognizing that I sound like a broken record, it is a well-constructed product with solid stitching and hardware.

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As I noted in my review of Two Horse Tack's halter-bridle, this product compares very closely to competitors like the Distance Depot in construction and hardware. Differences include that the standard THT breast collar attaches directly to the saddle while DD's uses clips. However, for an additional $3, you can select the option for THT to include clips to their breast collar. Even with this addition($43 instead of $40 without clips), this breast collar is still considerably cheaper than the DD product ($67). So, if you're on a budget or would simply like to save some money, I'd recommend the THT breast collar.

THT makes a wide variety of quality tack for those with a need for beta biothane or perhaps a desire to add some color into their lives. From western to English to endurance to just around the barn, THT has a wide variety of beautiful, well-made, affordable options for you to choose from. I think you'll find the hardest decision to getting a THT product is picking a color. 😉

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Deadly Appalachia Fly Spray Recipe

Well, after several of you called me out on the bragging I did about my fly spray yesterday without *gasp* sharing the recipe with you, I've decided to share the recipe with the world. It probably isn't monumentally different from other homemade sprays out there.

Credit where credit is due, this is not my recipe, but one my BO tweaked over the years until she was happy with it. She uses her name in the title, but in the advent of privacy, I've modified the title. This recipe battles the bugs in our temperate Appalachian rainforest environment beautifully! I've been using it for 6 years now with wonderful results - it's definitely better than any store-bought I've tried.

While the recipe can be made without the permethrin, I will tell you from experience that it won't be as effective. My BO is a medical professional and did some research into the toxicity of it in this recipe because so many people cry foul at chemicals these days. She noted that while yes, it can be toxic, in the amount we use it on the horses for the number of months we use it, adverse effects wouldn't start occurring until >40 years of use. Considering the average horse lifespan, we're in the clear! IMHO, I'd rather give my horses some relief from the present-day pain of biting insects than worry about adverse effects that are 40 years down the road.

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Deadly Appalachia Fly Spray Recipe

Makes 1 quart.

  • Empty, clean fly spray bottle
  • 3 tea bags (Earle Grey is best) – omit if horse is white (I have never omitted and have never had an issue with it staining)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper or peppercorns
  • 3 large cloves garlic - mashed
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tb. lemon juice
  • 6 oz. Pine Sol cleaner (off name brand okay as long as it has pine oil in it)
  • 4 oz. Avon Skin So Soft (if none, get off name brand baby oil with lavender)
  • 10 drops lavender oil
  • 6 oz. Listerine (off name brand okay as long as it has the eucalyptus in it)
  • 2 tsp. Citronella oil
  • 4 oz. concentrated Repel X or 2 oz. 10% permethrin (available at Southern States)(can leave this out if you're anti-chemical)
  • Funnel (optional, but helps greatly)

Boil the tea bags, bay leaves, pepper/peppercorns, and garlic in 2 cups of water until it boils down to about ½ cup of liquid. Cool to room temperature and strain well to remove any solids. Cool completely! (If you don't strain it well it will likely clog the spray bottle head. I usually strain 3x to make certain I've removed even the tiniest of sediments. Additionally, my tip is to make a double or triple batch of this step so that you can keep it in a closed container in the fridge for more batches later. It is definitely the most timely step in the whole process, so having some on hand later when you need it saves a lot of time!)

Once the above mixture is at room temperature, add the remaining ingredients to the bottle. (I have not found that the order they are added makes any difference at all, so long as everything is room temperature.)

The active ingredients in the permethrin are destroyed by heat, so make sure everything is at room temperature before you mix it all together. This mix works well without the permethrin, but doesn’t have the “staying” power as with it. The cost is about $3/quart without the permethrin and about $4.50 with it.

Contents will settle, so shake well before using.

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Comment and let me know how it works for you! Or, if you have your own recipe, how does it compare to this one? 😉

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May 10 Questions

Thanks, Rhiannon, for these questions!

  1.  What are your summer goals?

    4 years and 1 day difference between these photos. Chunky monkey!

    Griffin: The May HT isn't going to work due to multiple bigger things in life not falling into place + other unexpected things that take more precedent. I didn't even send in my entry because I had a feeling it was going to be more stressful than fun to try to make it all work. I was right. So now, I've got approved leave from work and we'll be tackling two twilight HTs (much smaller crowd) - one in July and one in August. From there, the goal will be to transition right into the fall series at Loch Moy! I also have a dressage schooling show on my radar for early July.

    Stan: Ohmygoodnessgracious the moving saga CONTINUES. Moreseo, the waiting queue never ends. Patience is a virtue, right? I'm trying to be as patient as possible and I constantly tell myself good things take time but oi vey! I'm putting in conditioning rides on Stan, but until I can get him to Canaan, the quality of those rides is subpar due to my complete loss of trail access. The goal is still to pursue the RBTR LD with him. Hopefully we'll get moved by June! If we can't get moved soon, that LD won't happen. He's doing great right now, but I really want miles and miles of rough terrain (hi, Canaan and Dolly Sods!) to work on before I'll be confident he's ready for an LD.

    Q: Weekly walk rides have commenced. I said I would initiate these with gusto once her winter coat shed completely and I finally got to enjoy that day last week! We did a 15-20 minute meandering bareback walking jaunt around the farm. Friday marks 9 months since her suspensory injury symptoms presented and 8 months since diagnosis. She's portly and round and has been [visibly] sound for months and her ultrasounds showed remarkable improvement after 120 days. I still didn't want to push her too soon, knowing rest was paramount to her healing. But it is now time to start putting some purpose back into her life beginning with walking rides that will be full of dressage concepts. I plan to increase the length of walk rides slowly and will add in incremental trot work after a time. Slow and steady.

  2. Do you have any tips or tricks for fly control?

    I've got a homemade recipe that is The Shit. Not only does it smell amazing, it works better than anything I've ever bought commercially.

  3. How often do you bathe your horse?

    If it's a HOT day, they get a good hose down, but so far as proper bathing with products? Only before a show or parade.

  4. Do you have any upcoming travel plans? Equine related or otherwise?

    I've got work travel and travel for a funeral/memorial in my near future that are non-horse. Out-of-state horse travel will begin in July!

  5. What is your favorite way to beat the heat?

    Give me a mountain river, good company, and a cooler of cold beer.

  6. Do you do anything to prevent your horse from sunbleaching?

    I don't do a damn thing.

  7. How hot is too hot for you to ride?


    90°F+ - though I did complete my first 100 mile ride in ~95°F+ heat last summer.

  8. How important is sun protection for you riding or just in general?

    I'm a ginger. Melanoma is a real threat. So, I take my sun protection pretty seriously. White is the new tan! Okay, it isn't, but it is cancer-free. I utilize organic sunscreens most of the time these days coupled with physical sun protection in the form of shirts from SmartPak, Kastel, Mountain Khakis, Outdoor Research, Arc'Teryx, and Columbia.

  9. Have you ever gone swimming with your horse?

    Not fully submerged, but we've done our fair share of creek wading. Hoping to find a good spot to swim them this summer!

  10. And because shopping is always on my mind, what’s on your summer wish list?

    I need a girth and stirrup leathers for my new jumping saddle and I'd like to get a figure-8 bridle to match. I desperately need new half chaps, my 6 year old ones are TRASHED. I'd really like to get Back On Track hock boots for Q, too. And another riding-specific sunshirt wouldn't hurt. 😉

Monday, May 8, 2017

Ten Years

Ten years ago on this week in May, I had my high school senior portraits taken by a local photographer. We did a few in his studio, none of which we kept, and then did two more shoots (photos that we did select to print/keep): one at my home with our huge blooming rhododendrons and the mountains behind me and one at the barn with Stan.

When Stan came back into my life for good last July, I knew I had to recreate a few of the images 10 years later. The poses and POV of the photographer are not exactly identical, but I am happier they aren't. I love how they turned out.


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It's something special to be able to recreate some of our original photos together nearly 10 years later to the day. If we're lucky, we'll get to repeat these photos once more in 2027.

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A short update on all things Stan: While I'm not riding him as many days per week as I'd like just yet, we are riding in a "regular work" kind of way for the past month-ish. I don't know for certain if his intermittent lameness in May was just sore feet or abscesses (the lameness was mild and there was never any swelling or heat on any of his legs and he was just as big of a dick to his herdmates as usual so I was confident nothing was amiss), but I can say with certainty that it hasn't reoccurred since Dan shod him earlier in April. In fact, once shod, Stan rocketed into his workouts with me like nothing was ever wrong (more support for my sore feet/abscess hypothesis).

Last Monday, I put the big guy through his toughest workout yet with 6 trot laps around our big field (3 laps ≅ 1 mile), 4 canter/hand gallop laps, 4 sprints up the STEEP part of the hill (so steep I basically have to stand up/lay on his neck), and 2 sprints up the not-as-steep part of the hill. All in all, the workout totaled 5 miles and averaged 8.9 mph over 37 minutes. Pretty intense HIIT workout after a nice, steady warm up! Stan was blowing pretty hard at the end, but he still had pep in his step and a glimmer in his eye.

I was a bit surprised that when I went to the barn the next day to ride Griffin that Stan not only nickered at me in the field but trotted up to me to say "hi" and receive his peppermint. (I give all 3 horses a peppermint when I am in the field even though I usually only take one out to mess with. Q and Stan will nicker and watch me, infrequently walking to meet me; Grif always finds me to say hi and then follows me to the barn even if he isn't haltered.) Stan's behavior reflects a horse that really seems to enjoy having a regular job again. I love that he is seeking me out more and has become more affectionate in the time I spend with him both in and out of the saddle. I'm really excited to ride him more often each week as we prepare for a 30 miler this summer.

20170503 Stanley 10 year-9

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Rolex Recap (photo-heavy)

After years of looking at friends' photos from Rolex, I finally got to take some of my own and experience the fun that went along with them.

In February? March?, Austen asked/volun-told me to go to Rolex. She already had the campsite and logistics figured and would pick me up on her way to Kentucky, I only had to finance myself as needed. I checked with Dave that we didn't have anything else planned, checked my finances, decided I could probably make it work, and that was that!

Shameless photo with the statue

This was my first time attending an event with high caliber horses and riders at an advanced level. It was incredible to witness the athleticism of the horses. I didn't grow up in an area that had a big horse scene or show scene - what did/does exist is largely western-based. With last month's visit to Loch Moy and now Rolex, I'm continually learning and building my understanding of show format and etiquette. It's been a lot to take in, but I'm really glad I'm finally getting the opportunity to do so.

As I was attending the event with a dressage rider, we obviously watched a fair number of dressage rides on Thursday and Friday. I loved sitting with Austen for these as her commentary far exceeds any that I could get elsewhere. She has an impeccable eye for biomechanics and she can explain it in layman's terms when necessary, too. As someone who works in a field with a lot of jargon, I really appreciate when someone can break things down into layman's terms to help explain them. I built up my current knowledge-base as we watched each test and was surprised when I could nod along with the large majority of Austen's commentary, seeing exactly what she was seeing as she verbalized what I could not.

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Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude (Retired on XC)
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Caroline Martin and Spring Easy (28th)
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Jennifer McFall and a very expressive High Times (24th)
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Vermiculus and Lauren Keiffer (Withdrawn before 2nd Inspection)
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Vermiculus looking adorable (Withdrawn before 2nd Inspection)
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Good boy! He took the lead for a short time after this
(Withdrawn before 2nd Inspection)
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Loughan Glen and Clark Montgomery had a beautiful test
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Loughan Glen
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Cooley on Show (Retired on XC)
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Sharon White and Cooley on Show with a lead change (Retired on XC)
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fischerRocana and Michael Jung (1st)
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fischerRocana and Michael Jung (1st)
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fischerRocana and Michael Jung (1st)
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They had a great test (1st)
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Allison Springer riding Arthur one final time </3
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Floating Arthur
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He knows he's a good boy

Unlike other bloggers, Austen and I didn't have a very strong burning desire to shop. I had a list of things I need for showing, and I wrote down which websites I could find the best deal at for them and what they cost so that if I did find them at Rolex, I would know what was actually a good deal.

Regardless, we still browsed the Trade Fair on Thursday and Friday. I crossed 4 items off my list (white breeches, a sunshirt, C4 belt, and black spur straps) and picked up two other items - one that was very "me" and I had to have (the tank that says "Wanderer with Horses") and a sweatshirt that Betsy at the Plaid Horse Magazine hooked me up with.

So much blue, totally not intentional

While I'm really excited to have some show essentials and another sunshirt, I can honestly say my favorite thing is actually the sweatshirt from the Plaid Horse Magazine! It is hands down the SOFTEST and stretchiest fabric I've ever worn. Austen and I both were over the moon when we put them on for the first time. SO soft, SO comfortable. I plan to buy another one or two just to have more excessively comfortable clothing.

On Saturday, we woke, started the day with mimosas and some breakfast, and headed the 100 feet from our campsite to the XC course. We started our day at the Hollow, worked slowly over to the Head of the Lake, spent a good while at the Frog Pond, then meandered to the area between the 4th and 25th obstacles, and finally to the Park Question where we stayed until the final rider passed by.

I took so many photos of XC - it was hard to pare them down! (Though I was able to cut images for final consideration down to ~35% fortunately!)   I watched 90% of the jumping through my camera lens. #noregrets

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I'm Sew Ready and Phillip Dutton were the second pair to make it to the Hollow (4th)
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No surprise, but they got it done efficiently (4th)
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I'm Sew Ready sucked back a bit before the final element though, so Mr. Dutton gave him some encouragement with the whip (4th)
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And over they went! (4th)
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Cracker Jack cornering like a boss as Boyd Martin guides him along (7th)
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Hard to say who this pair is, but look at that table! First element at the Head of the Lake
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Another shot of the table with Tsunami and Sarah Cousins (30th)
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Madeline Backus and PS Arianna dropping into the water (20th)
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Locked and loaded on the rainbow trout (20th)
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Bunnie Sexton aboard Rise Against who is locked and loaded onto the next jump (Eliminated on XC)
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Selena O'Hanlon and Foxwood High (11th)
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Selena O'Hanlon and Foxwood High (11th)
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Mettraise and Erin Sylvester (14th)
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Sparrow's Nio and Allie Sacksen looked good in the beginning (Eliminated on XC)
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But things quickly turned south when Sparrow took a stumble entering the water
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Allie couldn't hold her position and things snowballed from there
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Sparrow did his damndest to stay upright though
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Nonetheless, Allie's momentum carried her into the water
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"I'm OUTTA here!" - Sparrow, probably
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Wet pony not looking too worse for the wear; Allie on her feet beside him
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Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo up the bank at 20 (12th)
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Vermiculus and Lauren Kieffer; I adore his face (Withdrawn before 2nd inspection)
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Vermiculus over the second element of the Frog Pond (Withdrawn before 2nd inspection)
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Pavarotti and Jessica Phoenix (17th)
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Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill by Night over the first element at the Frog Pond (Eliminated on XC)
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Good horse! Onto the next jump. (Eliminated on XC)
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Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive getting it done (8th)
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And off they go to the next challenge (8th)
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Jolie Wentworth holding a bit too tight to Good Knight over the first jump at the Frog Pond (Withdrawn before 2nd inspection)
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Their landing was about as you'd expect it to be from the above photo (Withdrawn before 2nd inspection)
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Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 over the first jump at the Frog Pond (31st)
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Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me over the table that preceded the Frog Pond (18th)
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Honor Me does it with ease ()18th)
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Loughan Glen and Clark Montgomery, who led after dressage,
had a very conservative XC round (27th)
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Loughan Glen's eye is what grabs me in this photo (27th)
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This photo demonstrates the controlled chaos that was XC day at Rolex as
Sharon White and Cooley on Show gallop through (Retired on XC)
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Zara Tindall and High Kingdom over the first element at Mighty Moguls (3rd)
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High Kingdom demonstrating athleticism over the final element at Mighty Moguls (3rd)
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And everyone's favorite girl, fischerRocana (1st)
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fischerRocana and Michael Jung getting it done (1st)
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Over the boat and off they go (1st)
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Doug Payne and Vandiver showing us how it's done at the Park Question BCD (Eliminated in 2nd inspection)
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One stride... (Eliminated in 2nd inspection)
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And over again! (Eliminated in 2nd inspection)
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Tight Lines and William Coleman III (34th)
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Tight Lines and William Coleman III (34th)
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Jessica Phoenix and Bentley's Best galloping on XC (Retired on XC)
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Phillip Dutton and Mr. Medicott at the Park Question BCD (4th)
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One stride and... (4th)
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Boom, nailed it. (4th)

While part of me wished we could have watched one of the huge ditch/brush jumps in person to witness the sheer athleticism and air time those horse and rider pairs were getting, I was really happy we meandered our way around course to watch as much as we did. Seeing how riders handled the complex questions of combination jumps was really cool - especially when things didn't go as planned and quick thinking and reroute to another option saved them. Hot damn are those some game horses!

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. I had a blast watching Rolex, meeting/visitng with bloggers, and hanging out with Austen. 10/10 would do it all again - though as the camping is already sold out for next year, we'll probably wait a couple years before returning.