Friday Favorite: “Training The Three Day Event Horse & Rider”

Other than the USPC manuals, Jim Wofford’s Training the Three-Day Event Horse and Rider is my favorite equestrian book. I’ve read it cover to cover multiple times, and I learn something new with every read.

Why is it so good? For starters, it’s very thorough. Jim Wofford covers everything from acquiring a horse, training for each of the three phases, addressing specific problems, and exercises for improving your riding and your horse.

It’s written concisely, and in many sections, pictures are used to illustrate a concept more often than text. The pictures are perhaps my favorite part: they’re nearly all of Jim Wofford and he isn’t afraid to criticize himself. (However, he never reaches George Morris-levels of disapproval.) There’s a detailed appendix full of diagrams for gymnastic jumping exercises, sample conditioning schedules, and how best to log and record your rides.

All of that makes for an excellent read and reference, but my very favorite part of the book is the sense of humor with which it’s written. Some of my favorite quotes:

“To start at the beginning, the first thing you need to go eventing is some kind of horse.” (p. 17)

“If three-day event riders have a tendency to over-bit their horses in dressage, they have an absolute compulsion to over-bit their horses for the cross-country test.” (p. 27)

“Probably the least common form of resistance is that of a horse that from birth willingly sets himself, mentally and physically, against the rider. My best advice to you is to sell this horse. Now.” (p. 86)

“The first rule of cross-country is that you don’t win if you fall off.” (p. 88)

“It is amusing but true that if you do not lose your knee grip, you will never fall off.” (p. 140)

“There is no sense in galloping down to a telephone pole cemented in the ground with a horse that is waiting to be told what to do with his feet.” (p. 168)

“The second tool is to maintain a diary. By diary I do not mean a ‘Dear Diary, my horse was terrible today’ sort of operation.” (p. 182)

Training the Three Day Event Horse and Rider is a marvelous read for any level eventer (or anyone who likes to see pictures of horses jumping ridiculous fences). It can be found at Bit of Britain for about $28.

What are your favorite equestrian books? Should we get a horse book club going? How about a book swap?

Throwback Thursday

2001 MidSouth Regional Pony Club Rally, Kentucky Horse Park. I’m riding an absolutely lovely five year old Quarter Horse gelding named Bailey. He was a big, stout creature who happily jumped most things and didn’t complain much about dressage.
I was borrowing him from another girl in my pony club; my horse Spike was still recovering from having bone spurs removed from his hocks. Bailey was a homebred, and his two full siblings were Prelim-level eventers.
He was for sale and came with a hefty (but justifiable) price tag. I pleaded with my parents to buy him for me to no avail. (And I ended up with Moe just two years later.)
I don’t know where Bailey ended up, but I always think of him fondly for helping my confidence and giving me one of the most pleasant, stress-free Rallies I ever competed in.

Viva Carlos Blog Hop: What’s In Your Name?

Thanks to L. Williams at Viva Carlos for another fun blog hop! They’re such a fun way to get to know other bloggers. Plus, any excuse to put that unicorn on the blog is enough for me.

Onto today’s topic: What is the story behind your blog name/URL?

Hand gallop:[noun] a fast past in horseback riding between a canter and gallop : a very fast easy canter : a moderate gallop; so called for the fact that the horse is kept well in hand to control his speed.

I’ve always liked the term “hand gallop”. As an eventer, the gait is where my horses make their living- jumping out of a hand gallop in cross-country and show jumping. (Well, ideally, at least.) When I started this blog, I thought the term nicely encapsulated both my riding style and my lifestyle. These days, my life has slowed down a little bit, but “Hand Gallop” sounds cool and I don’t plan to change it. And duh, I still like to ride fast!


Organizing a Tack Room

I’ve finally moved most of my tack from my horse trailer to the new barn. I’ve spent a lot of time organizing my corner of the tack room to make room for more stuff, so I thought I’d share some tips and tricks on how I do it.

  • Wall-mount saddle rack: Years ago, my dad picked up several of these racks at a horse auction, and I’m happy to finally put one to use. (Horse auctions were a weekly Friday night outing for my family for several years.) They run anywhere from $11 (at Jeffers) to $25 (at Dover), but Beka at The Owls Approve posted a great DIY tutorial for a collapsible racks last month. Wall-mount racks are great because you can mount several in a vertical line without taking up valuable floor space. Be sure to mount them in a stud, though, or you’ll rip a hole in the drywall.
  • Tuna cans: For hanging bridles and halters up, you can’t beat clean tuna cans. Dover sells bridle brackets for $4, but why buy that when you can get a can of tuna for $2, eat it, and use it to hang your stuff up? If you want to get fancy, you could spray paint the cans, but I just tacked mine up with a hammer and framing nails. (And obviously no level.) 
  • Tack trunk: This small green trunk was originally purchased for me when I started attending two-week summer camp programs. It was converted to tack trunk duty in high school (so at least 10 years ago).  The trunk is about 30″ long, 18″ wide, and 15″ tall. It’s perfect for corralling all kinds of stuff: lunge line, polo wraps, helmet, extra lead ropes, equine first aid kit, human first aid kit. You can put a lock on it, too, if you’re concerned about fellow boarders “borrowing” from your trunk! You can buy these at Wal-Mart or off Amazon for about $40. (Stickers optional.)
  • Wash bucket: Even in the dead of winter, I keep my wash bucket at the barn. It’s a plastic 5-gallon bucket used exclusively for bathing ponies. I keep all of my bathing supplies in it: pimply rubber mitt, sheath cleaner, shampoo, conditioner, sweat scraper, body sponge, face sponges, towel, etc. I never have to wonder where anything is, and keeping liquids in the tack room versus the trailer helps prevent freezing. (In the picture, it’s also holding a bucket of Uncle Jimmy’s Squeezy Buns treats and a stud finder.)
  • Grooming tote: You know the grooming tote. You probably have one just like it. This holds the basics for me: curry comb, dandy brush, body brush, hoof pick, hairbrush, pulling comb, scissors, fly spray, hoof ointment, and hair detangler. 
I’ve been allotted some more space in the tack room since someone moved out, so I’m planning to bring in a plastic shelf unit. It’ll hold the horse and human first aid kits to make them more easily accessible, as well as my dressage letter cones, jump cups, and any other loose ends. 
What kind of tack set up do y’all have? Have any neat DIYs?

Cross Country Improv

I’ve been at the new barn for a little over a month now, and I’m convinced I’m the only person who rides with any regularity. It could be the time of day I’m out there during the week, but even on weekends with nice weather I rarely see other boarders. I am totally fine with this, as I get to hog the barn aisle and ride wherever I please.

With all the shows on my theoretical calendar, I’ve been looking for a place to school cross country. While Moe has seen most types of jumps and will happily go over them, both of us are pretty rusty. 
“Whatever, lady, I am not rusty. I am perfect.”
I cornered the barn manager over the weekend and asked his permission to use things around the property to set up an XC course. Things I am now approved to move and use as I see fit include a picnic table, a wooden bench, and any downed logs. He also agreed to trim up the fallen tree so I can jump the sections of it that aren’t 4’6.
Moe put in good work over the weekend. His walk and trot are forward and supple, and his canter improves with every ride. I couldn’t resist a little bit of jumping at the end of our rides. 
That’s part of the pasture fence. The bowed rail is about waist height on me, so it’s around 2’9-2’11, I’d guess. The footing is excellent on both sides, and this section of the pasture is secluded enough that the other horses won’t see what we’re doing and rush over.
Moe jumped it with ease, although our distances are inconsistent. We’ve always had a bad habit of just taking long distances; it’s a direct result of rushing fences. We hit a perfect distance about a quarter of the time. We had a lot of long spots as well as a couple of nasty short ones. More cross-country jumping will have to take a backseat to gymnastic work, at least for a while. Sigh.