2. We think our horses' shit doesn't stink. Literally.
None of us mind the smell of horse poo, much to the amazement and sometimes disgust of the non-horsey fraternity. No one knows why we become immune to the smell, and may even in fact kinda like it. But it's something those outside the horse world will never understand. We will have all used the explanation "but it's just grass" to explain to horrified non-horsey friends why we don't even bother trying to walk around a pile of horse dung and expect them to do the same. Nope. They're not convinced. They're pretty sure it is actually poop.
6. We have to leave social gatherings and events to go feed our horses.
But dude, don't they just eat grass? (*Eye roll*).
Last week, Arch & Alex posted a link on their FaceBook page to a hilarious article written by a guy warning his fellow bros against dating “horse chicks”. It was a hit with girls and guys alike and it got me thinking, has my obsession with horses impacted on my love-life? Or more to the point, the lack thereof. Is this why I am still single? So when Arch & Alex asked me to write a blog, Carrie-Bradshaw-style, from the perspective of a single, horse-mad girl in her thirties (ok, make that late thirties… actually, make that 40. Oh, alright then! Early 40s!!!), I jumped at the chance.
When I sat down and thought about it, it dawned on me that the majority of my horsey girlfriends are single. And many of them are also childfree and single. Compared with my non-horsey circle of girlfriends of whom most are, in keeping with the social norm, shacked up and procreating. Amongst my horse friends, the social norm is inverted and most of them are long-term career singletons. Sure, I do have a few horsey friends with partners. Some of them have even managed to snare and tag themselves every horse woman’s Holy Grail, the Horsey Male (kudos, ladies, kudos). But with the majority of my female friends being sans-partner, it begs the question: Do we have really have to choose between the horse and the man, or is it possible for us to have them both?
In my experience, horse ownership certainly throws up some challenges in the relationship department. First of all, they make it harder for us to meet members of the opposite sex in the first place! There’s no disputing that horse riding is a very female dominated sport. If, like me, your chosen discipline is dressage, then the problem is even more acute. Straight men in dressage are almost as rare as unicorns. And if you find one, you are almost guaranteed that he will be surrounded by a swarm of more devoted female groupies than Justin Beiber (and that’s just at Adult Riding Club level!!!). I have at various times in my life thought about switching to showjumping or polo, just to increase my chances of actually meeting a Horsey Male. But alas, I can’t judge distances and have shocking hand-eye coordination skills. So, dressage it was always going to be.
The other considerable hurdle that horses throw in the way of relationships is that they take up a lot of time. I mean, A LOT OF TIME. Looking back, the majority of my more noteworthy relationships have occurred during times in my life when I have been either horseless or agisting. Agisting takes a bit of pressure off, so that all you need to do is find time to ride, train and compete, without all the daily grind of feeding, mucking out, rugging, harrowing paddocks, fixing watertroughs, etc, etc ……. When you agist your horse, you have more freedom. You can go out for impromptu drinks after work without having to rush home to feed up. A dinner date doesn’t have to start at 8pm to give you time to ride and put your horse to bed (knowing full well that you will be asleep in your soup by 9pm, having been up since 5am). And an “impromptu” weekend away with your current squeeze doesn’t take more organisation and planning than a major military offensive just to organise horse sitters.
Unfortunately for me, the 17hh love of my life (whom, in keeping with the Carrie Bradshaw theme of this blog I shall call Mr Big Horse) has never been particularly keen on agistment. He can fret a bit if he doesn’t see his favourite human every day, eats enough pasture and hard feed for 6 horses (making him very popular indeed with agistment owners), sweats under a light rug at the first hint of sunshine (requiring multiple rug changes a day) and gets bored and destructive when paddocked alone (while being a social delinquent when paddocked with other peoples’ horses). So agistment for Big Horse is never really an option. This basically means needing to find 2-3 extra hours in every day to do horse and property management related chores (and sometimes that doesn’t even include riding!). On top of a busy 10-11 hour a day job in the corporate world, for me this always meant that boyfriends got put on the back burner. Relegated to a few spare hours on the weekend (but only if I wasn’t competing).
If you haven’t already guessed, I have a very close relationship with Big Horse. I’ve had him since he was a weanling and I love him and all his strange quirks. This kind of relationship is common between women and their horses and, I think, can be a foreign and even threatening concept for a non-horsey male. (Big Horse’s habit of hanging out his considerable male appendage when I introduce him to my potential suitors, in a blatant display of showing off, does nothing to soothe the delicate male ego either, I might add!) I love my dogs to bits too, but in many respects dogs fit in with and around life and relationships. Horses, on the other hand, take us away from non-horsey partners for hours/days on end and envelope us in world that must seem almost cult-like to the uninitiated non-horsey observer.
In a busy world of having to juggle priorities, partners of horsey women will soon learn that the horse will always come before them. With a bit of luck, they will be cool with that. Some will welcome the opportunity to go spend hours on the golf course with their mates or in some other time-consuming activity. Others may cross over to the dark side and learn to love their partner’s horse and appreciate their strange sport. They may even, after a bit of training, make useful grooms at shows! Many, however, will feel put-out and will relegate the “horse-chick” to the “Too Hard Basket”.
The only thing that horses consume faster than time, is money. This too can be a massive relationship deterrent. We’ve all seen that popular equestrian tee shirt with the slogan “Easy to Love, Hard to Afford” on it. Sure, in this day and age most of us gals work to support our own horse addiction. But there’s no disputing that our expensive obsession is going to eat into funding that might otherwise go towards that dream house or holiday you both have your hearts set on. The importance of almost all expenditure is going to be weighed up in the horse-girls’ mind against what she could buy for her horse with that money. The coin we shell out on horse floats, saddles, rugs, riding boots and all the other gear that comes with horse ownership would make a girl with a Tiffany’s or Manolo Blahnik obsession look like a very cheap date, comparatively. And that’s before we even get a vet bill….
As I look down at my fingers typing on the keyboard, I notice another handicap that horse ownership has given to my chance of ever finding myself a good bloke. My nails are short and dirty (who knew putting hoof grease on with bare hands would make it impossible to get the dirt out??). My hands are cracked from scrubbing out freezing water troughs on a 1 degree morning. My hair is in a very functional pony tail with bits of Big Horse’s breakfast stuck in there. My breeches are splattered with mud and I smell faintly of sweat (some guys might find the pheromones in female sweat attractive but, alas, the sweat I smell of is Big Horse’s). There’s horse hair and hay stuck all over my jumper (I once had a very unsuccessful relationship with a guy who was allergic to horse hair, what are the chances?!?!?… but that’s another story...). It’s not that I have given up and completely let myself go, as my mum might think. It’s just that I have to go out in the rain and do it all again in a few hours, so there’s really not much point in scrubbing up. Besides, I’m short on time and no straight men are going to see me in this sport anyway, right?
DESPITE all these obstacles and the discouraging precedent set by my circle of horsey gal-pals, however, I remain eternally optimistic that it is possible for a girl to have both horses and a man in her life. Perhaps one day I’ll bump into a nice country bloke that likes horses (oh, please God, a vet or farrier would be nice but I’ll settle for someone that can lift hay bales with ease). He’ll find the horse feed in my hair cute and will look into Big Horse’s eyes (ignoring his willy display) and instantly love him as much as I do… And we’ll ride off into the sunset together (but again, if he can’t ride I’m more than happy if I ride off into the sunset leaving him happily scooping the poop out of the horse float).
But I think the most important thing I’ve realised is that, if Mr Good-With-Horses doesn’t come along, it does not matter to me one bit. Horses are the ultimate soul mate. They not only give us unconditional love, they mirror our own souls, making us more mindful, grateful and authentic every time we are in their presence. They let us use their bodies to feel the thrill of a speed, grace and strength that we could never experience ourselves. And they introduce us to like-minded people who share the same passion. People that will become our closest friends and support network. Perhaps this is the true reason why most my horsey girlfriends are single. The horse gives us a sense of purpose and fulfilment. And although it would be nice to share that with someone, horses are all we really need.
Don't forget - Sunday 14 May is Mothers' Day!!! But there's no need to panic. If you've got a Horsey Mum, we are sure we'll have something in our store that she'll absolutely love! And don't forget, ladies, that you are all "mums" to your horses (and other fur-kids) yourselves! So shouldn't you treat yourselves to a little present on their behalf? Go on, you know your fur-babies would want you too... ;-)
If you're looking for Mothers' Day gift inspiration for the beautiful Horse Mum in your life, here are our tips:
for the sporty mum
Sporty Mums are always on the go. They love to keep fit and active and are more likely to be seen in their gym pants and sneakers than anything else. Technical performance wear, on and off the horse, is a must for this type of mum. Consider our Tottie Maven Zip Polo in stunning berry. We are predicting that this colour is going to be huge this season. Just $70.00.
for the mum-about-town
If your Horse Mum is more the pearls, silk scarf and elegant country-chic sort, she will love our Caldene Country Collection. Check out our Caldene Melford Jacket - a very smart trench-coat style waterproof mac perfect for those trips into town to do lunch with the ladies. This waxed jacket has a distressed finish and is fully lined using Caldene's exclusive vintage horse print (so gorgeous it's enough to make you want to wear the jacket inside out!). You'd expect to pay more for a jacket this stylish but it is just $180.00. Be quick though, it is selling out fast! (You might also want to check out Caldene's gorgeous Bradenham Silk Scarf which also features the Caldene vintage horse print, making it the perfect accessory to go with this fabulous jacket ($95.00))
for the mum who likes bling
What mum, or any woman for that matter, doesn't like a bit of bling?!? A Horsey Mum is guaranteed to love any of our equestrian jewellery. New to our range just in time for Mothers' Day is this larger version of our every popular "Lucky Charm" horse shoe necklace. Perfect for the woman that likes her jewellery a little more noticeable. Both the large ($110.00) and the small ($80.00) versions of this neck;ace are 925 sterling silver and team nicely with our "Tiny Hooves" earrings ($55.00).
for the competitive mum
If the Horse Mum in your life spends her life in white competition breeches, why not get her the perfect, stylish accompaniment to those breeches - a Caldene belt? Our Caldene belts are extremely popular. They are all made from the softest, vegetable tanned leather (which is much better for the environment than the chemical tanning process - extra brownie-points from green mums!). Our favourite at the moment is the Patriot Leather Belt which features a gorgeous inlay of blue, red and silver diamantes in dark brown leather. These diamante colours seriously compliment any navy and/or red in competition outfits and will delight any mum with this colour scheme in her competition wardrobe.
for the matchy-matchy mum
Matchy-Matchy Horse Mums are the epitome of style. They love to deck their horse (and themselves) out in matching saddle-pads, ear bonnets and leg protection. If this is your Mum, then our Caldene matching croc range is really going to make her Mothers' Day. Check out our matching black croc range - saddlepad (dressage and GP), ear bonnet, tendon boots, overreach boots and belt! Matchy-matchy heaven!!!
FOR the pet-mad mum
Even if your Mum isn't into horses, if she's crazy about cats and/or dogs, we still have something for her. Our "Pet Hair" tee, which features the slogan "All my other shirts are covered in pet hair" is guaranteed to give the cat/dog/horse mad mum a laugh. All our tees are printed here in Melbourne on soft 150gsm cotton tees that will wear well wash after wash. Very affordable at $45.00
FOR the difficult-to-buy-for mum
If you're still not sure what your Mum might like, we have two words for you: Gift Card. We have gift cards available on our website in values of $50.00, $75.00, $100.00, $150.00 and $200.00 so that your mum can buy whatever she likes from our exclusive range of products, whether online or at one of our pop-up shops.
We hope this helps your Mothers' Day shopping! To all the Horse-Mums and Mums-to-Horses out there, HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY!!!!
This month's edition of Stable Talk features a gorgeous bay mare who caught our attention on social media. We had been admiring her apparent flair and talent over the cross country course and her elegance in the dressage arena. When we saw a photo of her modelling a Caldene dressage saddle pad we knew this mare and her human, Suntosha Barker from NSW, must have style! So we wanted to find out all about them...
Offical name: Sphinx
Stable name: Sphinx
Nick name/s: Sphinxy
Human: Suntosha Barker
Age: 7 years
Colour: Bay / dark brown
How long have you been with your human Suntosha and what were you doing before you found each other?
I have been with Suntosha for 12 awesome months. I am having so much fun with her and am loving all the experience and opportunities I am getting to have with her. My journey with Suntosha so far has been a smooth and exciting ride! Before I met Suntosha I was living in QLD with an amazing eventer named Charlotte Price. Charlotte had been doing eventing with me and training me, so I could go on to someone who would love to do eventing with me, someone that could train me and together as a team go up the levels and have a great time doing so.
What have you done so far with your human, and what would you like to help her achieve this year?
So far we have been doing lots of dressage training with our coaches Ann Behringer and Di Jenkyn. Suntosha and I both love dressage training as every time we train together we are starting to figure out more and more about each other and develop a fabulous bond. We have also been doing a bit of showjump training with our show jump coaches Clint Beresford and Grant Hughes and love every opportunity we get to have a lesson with them.
Suntosha and I have formed a wonderful bond which I love and cherish lots!! This year Suntosha and I have been to Canberra eventing in March, which was such a lovely event. We did very well and I am happy with my human and how she performed. I would love to help her achieve lots of great goals and to help her out by being the best horse I can be. I believe if we both put our minds together and believe in each other we can be the best team possible!
What is your favourite phase of eventing and why? Is this also your human's favourite phase?
X-COUNTRY!!!. I love X country as it is something I am strong and brave at. I love the thrill and adrenaline rush I get when I am galloping out on the open field with the wind flowing through my hair and jumping many different fences and working on my pace and control, I feel brave and fierce out on course as my human is always encouraging me and at the end she always gives me big pats, kisses, cuddles and my favourite Carrots!! Suntosha's favourite would also be X country. She always tells me she loves it because she feels safe on me loves it when we work as a team galloping up to jumps and dropping down banks. We both agree we love the feeling of working as a team and pushing each other to our safe limits!
What other things do you like to do with your human?
We are always traveling together, so when we are at home Suntosha likes to gives me brushes and pats while she plays music and we always have fun doing that. I also love taking pictures with my human and going and playing in the water.
You seem to have a natural talent for modelling. Do you have any other special talents?
I do love the limelight, cameras flashing and humans calling me saying "Sphinx over here", "click click" . When I am away from all that I have a talent for taking selfies, my human Suntosha is either taking boomerangs of me for Instagram or we are taking a selfie with funny filters on it. I also have a special talent for being a good girl while my human is plaiting me up and getting me looking beautiful ready for me to trot down that centre line looking flawless.
Do you have any paddock companions? Do you get along well with them?
Yes! His name is Nugget. Well, his real name is Brenwon Saturn or his human calls him Captain Nugget or Mr Nugget. He is a light bay horse and quite stocky and manly. Yes we get along very well, he looks out for me when I am sleeping and we also have a great chat at the end of the day about how each other's day was and life in general. Sometimes we plot things together about our humans just to be funny.
What are your favourite things in the world?
Carrots! Carrots! And more carrots!
If you were a human celebrity, who would you be and why?
My human believes that if I was a human celebrity I would be a younger Sally Pearson as I have got the spring in my jump and I can run fast like a sprinter. Sally and I also share in common jumping and both love to do it! I think I could also be Gigi Hadid as I love modelling. Gigi has the whole "goals" look going on and I believe I could pull off going down the runway of a fashion show and modelling brands.
Many thanks to Sphinx's mum Suntosha Barker for helping her with this interview.
Last weekend was the 6th competition in a row for BK and I. Ssshh, don’t tell my husband - I tend to spring them on him late in the week hoping he has forgotten the week before. Of the 6 we competed in we won 2, came second in one, came fifth in another, and of the two in which we had to jump in we hung out in the double figures experimenting with all sorts of crowd pleasers like dropped rails and refusals at the last jump. BK did however try extremely hard in the jumping comps and I believe is getting marginally better. I have high hopes of blending into the majority of SJ competitors who know what they are doing in the short to medium term future.
Our first win was at the Wandin Adult Riding Dressage Day. BK performed a lovely couple of tests and we were surprised to find ourselves being called over the loud speaker. Upon presenting to the secretary we found that they had no record of one of our tests! Despite our inner beauty BK’s general brown-ness can see us blend into the crowd and we seem to have been slightly unmemorable. Mental note to investigate fluoro coloured saddle blankets and experiment with original ways of presenting to the judge (high 5’s perhaps??). Anyway, luckily we had a video of the test which helped to sort out any confusion.
At our next competition the sky was ominously dark and we had driven through some serious rain before arriving, so we opted for a small warm up to do a test in the dry rather than waiting until our scheduled start. We gave our final salute and the judge and I congratulated each other on scraping through before the skies parted and we were awarded with second place.
The next week I had optimistically entered us into a combined training. It was my birthday, so why not do what I love best, go for a ride! Unfortunately, the night before I was also doing what I love second best, drinking wine. By the time my sore head and I had eaten cake for breakfast and packed the horse we arrived at the event unplaited with about 7 minutes to go before our start time and no knowledge of the test. Luckily my time at university, studying amongst other things Mandarin, has taught me to cram all sorts of information into my head at short notice and we remembered most of the test and were winning after the dressage. We then headed over to the showjumping arena and were impressed with the ease we were tackling the course until we arrived at the last jump which BK took great exception too. Perhaps he didn’t want the good times to end or he was embarrassed to be out without his hair done. We came up to the jump again and I felt him slow down and I executed a perfectly timed well practiced pony club kick and he decided we might as well not be complete gooses and ended up on the other side, I think we might have been ended up about 10th.
The next weekend we had our Top Teams combined training. One member down increased the pressure on our ability to get around the show jumping as our score would have to be counted for the team. A good dressage test had us near the top of the leaderboard and clear SJ rounds from our other team members before me meant that as a team we were doing ok. There were a few scary jumps and we were jumping indoor too. BK bravely tackled all sorts of unfamiliar objects after some careful training at home with our own brick wall. Though unfortunately he knocked a white plank, relegating us to double figures and the team to 15th overall.
I like swimming and I like riding, so our last event last Sunday gave me an opportunity to do both at once! I also do some running (at least as far as running late), so I am pretty much a triathlete. We battled some soggy weather in Melbourne to nab our first EA win! A number of combinations less equipped to deal with the cold than my hardy ACT bred horse stayed at home in bed or in front of the fire, lessening the field size which may have been a contributing factor to our success. BK already thinks I am deranged for the strange things I do to his hair, so he only gave a small sigh when I pulled him out of his paddock between thunder rolls to head to the competition. Someone (a fiendish competitor perhaps?) had attempted a bit of a Tonya Harding and had erected a tyre near the arena. BK was petrified that I had left my senses and had not only decided to ride him in a storm but attempt to event him in said storm. When we passed the tyre without attempting to jump it he was so thankful he repaid me with a good dressage test. His warm up for our second test involved standing in a stable away from torrential rain aghast with fear at the parked tractor in front of us.
Since our EA competition, I have worked on developing nerves of steel in my weekly lesson (helpful for career as an Navy SEAL if this dressage gig does not work out). The lesson was conducted despite the escape of Chad the wonder pony to a tasty nature strip, B buggering off as I attempted for the 3rd time to carry children to the house, Henry the fall-back horse eating the arena fence throughout the lesson and 4-time-escapee child standing at the gate and crying incessantly. Do Navy SEAL’s get to drink wine I wonder…
This month's Stable Talk features a stunning pony we "spotted" at the HRCAV Combined Training Day hosted by the Monash Adult Riding Club last month. We were thrilled when his lovely human mum, Maddy agreed to let us interview Casper for this month's Stable Talk.
Welcome to A&A's Stable Talk where horses get the limelight. How long have you been with Maddy Theobald and how did you come to find her?
I have been with Maddy for nearly 2 years now and I am having SOOOO much fun with her. She found me when she was selling her horse to my former owner and my former owner recommended me. It was essentially a switcheroo.
Tell us a bit about your human. What things do you like doing best with Maddy?
I love jumping and playing Cowboys and Indians with Maddy! I love zigzagging around any jumps that are in the way when we are playing Cowboys and Indians.
You really stand out with your spots against all solid colour horses. Do you think this is an advantage or a disadvantage in the competition ring? Do you think other horses are jealous of your spots?
I definitely think this is an advantage in the ring because the judge pays very close attention to pretty ponies like me! And yes I do think the other horses would be VERY jealous of my amazing spots!
How do you feel when people call you a Dalmatian pony?
I think it is kind of funny because I am too big to be a Dalmatian but I guess I do look like a giant Dalmatian. Maybe like a giant version of Alex!
What would your human and you like to achieve this year?
We would really like to be successful at Intro! Mum keeps saying how she knows I can do it but she is not sure about herself.
Do you have any special talents?
Of course I do! I can stand really still when Mum is doing silly things on me while I try to keep in my frustration because she is doing it wrong.
Do you have any paddock/stable companions? What would they say about you?
Yes I do. His name is Freddie. I reckon he would say I am really fast in our races and always win and that I am a bit of a grumpy old man.
What are your favourite things in the world?
Liquorice, carrots, apple, Mum, my hard feed and jumping.
What do you love most about your human?
Maddy gives me very yummy things to eat and does fun things with me. BUT she tries to kiss and cuddle me which I hate!
If you were a human celebrity, who would you most likely be and why?
Mum says I would be the new and improved Steve Price because I am grumpy and old.
What is your favourite song and why?
Drinkee because Mum likes it and I am now over 18 and can drink!
Many thanks to Casper's mum Maddy Theobald for helping him with this interview.
he (mis)adventures of our Brand Ambassador, Katie Gray and her trusty steed BK continue. Here is the latest witty blog from their most recent outing at the HRCAV Combined Training Day hosted by the Monash Adult Riding Club.
So last weekend, full of hot air from our recent jumping success (see BK, Showjumping Champion of the World blog for details), we headed to another combined training day. Our arms were twisted by the fact that our sponsors would be there, meaning free grooms and endless champagne to toast our victory.
In retrospect, I can see a few signs the day may have been doomed. My iphone is clearly in cahoots with my etag and we zigzagged our way to the Monash ARC grounds via the least direct route possible utilizing maximum etag credit. Once arrived we nearly had a punch up with someone who was possibly having their first social outing ever and was under the impression that the prize of the day was actually a sheep station.
Anyway, they managed to get the ring and markers back up with a handy placed piece of wood or 2 and some quick helpers. We punched out a decent test despite an error of course (our second for the year and, yes, we are only in February. I mean, who needs to see a halt?? Of course he can halt. I got there in the float, didn’t I?? He must have been standing on that!?!) Nevertheless we were handily placed in second. Now only a few jumps between us and an extension to our satin collection...
Then I saw the course. It was as though it was built to commemorate all of our Australian big things. Perhaps they had even borrowed them from country towns around Australia. I imagined the front page news, "North Mackay lend Big Banana to Victorian Adult Riding Club". Anyway, needless to say all of these big things had a red flag on one side and a white on the other, implying that they were intended to be jumped. Being the eternally optimistic type, I saddled up BK and entered the course. BK clearly thought we were lost in a mountain range. Rather than flog my dear friend for my obvious oversight in not training him over giant obstacles that could be used as Australian tourist attractions (plus I had insider knowledge that no sheep farms were in fact on offer), when he hesitated to launch us into space over a passable replica of the giant Murray cod, we were eliminated. Our second place became a giant E!
We were wracking our brains at A&A HQ trying to come up with a piece for our next blog. We wanted something fun, interesting, unique and creative. A tall order perhaps but we were determined (and caffeinated). We knew what we wanted but had no idea what it was! We will know it when we see it. We looked for inspiration in a bag of potato crisps. Nada. A block of chocolate later and still no rush of ideas. We just about given up for the day (plus there was nothing else left in the pantry to eat) when we had our light bulb moment. Remember Mister Ed - the misadventures of a wisecracking talking horse and his human owner?
Have you ever pondered what your horse would say if it could talk?
A blog written by a horse! It is no secret we love our four-legged friends at A&A. We are a bit animal mad at A&A HQ but that is just the way we roll. So welcome to our first "Stable Talk" where our resident horse Archer channels his inner "Ron Burgundy" (disturbingly not hard for him to do - he's "kind of a big deal around here") and interviews horses we see out on the competition circuit (particularly ones that look good in A&A gear, nothing wrong with shameless self-promotion). While at the Boneo Classic we developed a bit of a pony-crush on dancing Wonder-Welshie Kamber Pryderi, winner of the CDI U25 Championship with his lovely owner Fern Wright. We knew straight away this spunky little pony had to be our first interviewee.
Stage Name: Kamber Pryderi
Stable Name: BB
Human Mum: Fern Wright
Welcome BB to our very first "Stable Talk" where we get to talk about you. How long have you been with Fern Wright and how did you come to find her?
I have been with my family for 13 years. I don't remember all the details when I first met them but something along the lines of them watching me run around for a while, then stuffing me in a float a week later.
Has the win at the Boneo Classic 2017 gone to your head?
Of course not! I never doubted that I, with my brilliance, would win (unless Mother messed up, like she usually does!)
Do you have any other claims to fame?
Yes, I was already famous. I stormed into the public limelight with our win in the CDI-Y at the 2012 Australian Dressage Championships. We have had many other impressive wins and placings, including Runner-up CDN big tour at the 2015 Australian Dressage Championships (which earned us a nice interview), before backing it up with another Runner-up at the 2015 Victorian Dressage Festival. Last year was very constant with us placing overall Runner-up CDI-U25 Grand Prix at the Sydney CDI & Australian Dressage Championships, Naturally after all of that brilliance, another interview about how great I am was asked of us - it’s a busy life being a superstar. I also was featured very heavily in an article after we scored 71.2% in the Grand Prix Freestyle at the Victorian Youth Dressage Championships a couple of weeks ago.
What is next for you both?
Mother is considering Dressage with the Stars, but thinks we will more likely wait until the Sydney CDI at the end of April, where we will do the CDI-U25. I am a special horse, so she doesn't want me to overexert myself.
Do you have any strange quirks?
Not at all. Although I have my unique and highly effective method of summoning my Mother, I simply double barrel the stable wall and scream as loud as I can. Usually it only takes a minute or two for someone to come and give me a snack or whatever else I want. However if trying this at home, remember to be careful in the early hours of the morning, because for some reason humans are more grumpy at that time of day and sometimes spray you with the hose.
What are your most endearing qualities?
How long have you got? Obviously I am smart, talented, handsome and hardworking, I do everything asked of me, am patient (mostly) and as you can tell – very modest! I am not nearly appreciated enough though and often have to put other horses and humans in their place.
Do you have any paddock / stable companions? What would they say about you?
My usual companion is Thorn. He is okay I suppose but it is very irritating that he never takes life seriously, yet is terrified of silly things like thunderstorms, torch light, and sometimes float trips. Obviously he looks up to me though.
What are your favourite things in the world?
Muesli bars definitely! Along with persimmons, carrots, lucerne hay, bread, Mother, breakfast, apples, dinner, my favourite scratching tree, sugar cubes, my family, peppermints, shapes, competitions and biting other horses - especially Thorn.
If you were a human celebrity, who would you most likely by and why?
Rudolph Nureyev - with my beauty and grace, who else could I be?
Many thanks to BB's mum Fern Wright for helping him with this interview.
This week, our much loved Brand Ambassador Katie Gray and her trusty steed BK took on the Australia Day Official HRCAV Combined Training Day hosted by Phoenix Riding Club. As usual, BK came home with a ribbon and Katie came home with some witty blog material....
Oh BK, you make my heart smile. While we can punch out a dressage test like nobody’s business some other equestrian sports have challenged us over the years.
There was the time we tried hunting, which we will not do again sober or before either of us turn 50, that is for sure! Showing... well I hope they all enjoyed the array of fungal infections we whipped up for our debut a few weeks ago...
Western is an option. We would no doubt make a ripper cutting pair. That horse can turn on a dime if faced with a wombat or almost anything else. But this is assuming we could provide our own cow (which would ideally remain still and very quiet). BK does take a while to get to know other animals and I can't see him happy to rope a cow we weren't well acquainted with. I am unsure that you can provide your own cutting cow... and we don't have any cows, nor am I handy with a rope so let's leave that one on ice for the time being.
Then there is show jumping. Plenty of advantages to showjumping: soft landings for the both of us, cool gear, impressive photos... so we occasionally moonlight. Today at a combined training day we jumped our first course in almost a year. BK handled it in his trademark style, staring incredulously at each of the 10 jumps before low and behold we would find ourselves on the other side to totter off in disbelief to the next! My long time SJ coach from my eventing days who was judging was no doubt weeping into his clip board, but hey. As my dad says, there are 100 ways to skin a rabbit.
A good dressage test had us in front by a few points though we copped 5 penalties as we jump below our dressage level. The winner got the cash but in second place with NO jump penalties we won our very own hoof black! I am hopeful that our next showjumping round will look marginally more professional, especially as my sponsors will be watching and if things go according to plan I may soon be jumping at about half of the height of their other Brand Ambassador... Thankfully I have some dressage days coming up to look vaguely proficient at soon.
This weekend, in the scorching 40 degree heat, our much loved Brand Ambassador and HRCAV stalwart Katie Gray competed at the HRCAV Top Team Trophy Show at Boneo Park. Katie's chosen disciplines are eventing and dressage, and her horse BK has a clear preference for dressage. So dressage has until recently been Katie's main focus. But in the spirit of many an intrepid HRCAV member, Katie is open to giving other disciplines a go.
So when her HRCAV Club Donvale asked if she would join their team at the TTT Showing, Katie wasn't about to let a complete lack of knowledge about what is involved in showing get in the way of supporting her Club! We were so excited for her we volunteered one of our own to be Katie's groom (probably because we felt guilty we didn't have any show gear in stock to offer her, other than some stunning white breeches.... but it turns out that beige or banana is actually the breech colour du jour in showing at the moment... oh well...). What ensued was a day that only needed the Benny Hill Show theme music to make it complete! Here is Katie's blog summing up the event....
The night before I had googled how to do a horse show, as I was unsure my gymkhana experience 25 years earlier would be enough to ensure success. I ended up on the EFA website and read that the horse must be well conformed, a good type and move well. I thought "we’ll be a shoe in". I can pin point a few factors which may have played a part in us not having a clean sweep of the board. One was when poor ol' BK came down with some kind of strange fungal infection a week or two before the show, leaving him with a smorgasboard of lumps and huge open sores on one side of his face. Not ideal for his first ever beauty contest. Still, a life time of winging it and an eternally positive attitude kept our spirits high.
When I went to plait BK up the night before the event, my husband refused to hand over his hair wax to aid the cause! And the soaring heat and incredible scabbiness meant I didn’t want to put a hood on the poor old boy. So by morning BK looked like a very sweet Rastafarian with bedraggled plaits. A complete absence of any showing gear was also not going to stand in my way (note to self, must find decent sponsors with show wear and not just super trendy casual riding gear) and I even managed to borrow a vest for a class! The total amount of bling we wore was in my pink hair tie I borrowed from my 4 year old daughter, hoof black we borrowed from a neighbor and some horse makeup that a friend had bought in 1993. My total lack of any showing apparel amongst a sea of sequins gave me flash backs to when I thought I would wear a coloured dress to Derby Day.
How was the show? As a dressage rider, accustomed to punching out a couple of well learned and rehearsed dressage tests and then chilling until the end of the day before moseying up to the scoreboard, all I can say is that it was relentless, flat chat and brutal! First up we joined 12 million other people in cantering around our arena, and were not awarded a ribbon despite my valiant success in preventing a bucking fit. I left the arena racking my brains trying to remember if I had in fact slept with the judge’s husband. Could there be any other explanation that my scabby un-blingy equine partner was not wearing blue satin?
Then before you could say "get the Aeroguard" there was another event, and another, and we only made it into about half of our classes. We totally missed ‘best educated’ (throwing a good few million dollars of dressage lessons down the drain) as my groom (and sponsor) and I were in the bar, trying to bring our facial colour down from puce to a steady maroon. We were fortunate that in the Level 2 rider class we worked on one rein and it was the rein which best hid BK's facial scabs that were sweating their way through the 1993 make up. As a result, we achieved our event highlight of 5th in a large class. After that we managed to miss 'pleasure mount', which is fortunate as anyone who had ever seen us on a trail ride would dispute that it was at all pleasureable. And had they had incorporated a tree stump or a runaway plastic bag in the routine we would have been in strife. We missed 'smartest-whatever-it-is-called' as I was trying to tame BK's Rastafarian locks.
Despite the fact that I could have cooked a BBQ on my head, my groom acquiring 3rd degree sunburn, my guzzling a lot of what I later found out to be bore water, and our complete lack of championship rug, I was pleased that BK worked well all day. Despite some early excitement, he settled well in what was a very challenging environment for him . And, as far as I can tell, no brain eating micro-orgaisms have invaded my head from the bore water.
Sh*ts and giggles they said it would be. More like speed dating meets the 3 legged race. Never again, I say, but I have said that before and if I come up with another cool team name, who knows? If I do go again I am going to pimp ol' BK up like there is no tomorrow, quatermarks, a coloured saddle blanket, a number breastplate thingy, the works (take note, sponsors)…. Meanwhile I yearn for AFBMCHEK and some written feedback on our performance, and I will make sure I get some hair gel of my own before our next outing, a Combined Training on Australia day.