photo by
Tales of Taco the Wonder Horse and his ammy rider on their way to a Training Three Day

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ask Taco: Christmas and Living with Fame

Q. Dear Taco,
What was in your stocking?  

A. Dear G.H.,
I was lucky enough to receive organic carrots and four beautiful Macintosh apples in my stocking.  But I also received other gifts.  I got a brand new, big chunk of Himalayan salt to lick, a Newmarket fleece, some new bell boots, and a jelly scrubber.  Carol got me some Premier hind boots.  The Curwood side of the family (Jeni and Steve) sent me a whole bunch of peppermints.  Also, because of the VTO Saddlery sale, I am getting a belated Christmas gift of a new Rambo blanket with a neck cover.  Finally, though this is not really a Christmas gift for me, Stacy is going to order me a new saddle.  The thing about the saddle is that I am very happy with the one I have now, but it is a little too small for Stacy.  So this is perhaps more a gift she is giving to herself.

The bottom line is that I am very happy with my gifts, and I humbly offer my own gifts of generosity, spirit, and honesty to my family during this holiday season and beyond.

Best wishes,

Q. Dear Taco,
Given how famous you’re becoming of late, how do you keep a level head on your shoulders?  Are you getting a big head, or are you still the same down-to-earth guy you’ve always been? How do you deal with success and fame?

A. Dear Elizabeth,
I do love admiration and attention-- it is part of my nature!  But my first priority is to live a life that I can be proud of, whether it brings fame or not.  On the first level, this means participating in the world fully and appreciating the basic things like a long drink of water, some tasty oats, tender grass shoots, or a good roll followed by some fun bucking in the field.  That is how I stay connected to my place in the universe.

On another level, I also conduct myself as best as I can with my humans.  I genuinely like human contact and the day-to-day interactions with them please me.  I could just stand for hours while Stacy curries and brushes me and feeds me treats and talks to me.  And I feel it is my duty to give all of my effort to what she is asking me to do under saddle.  If there is a jump in front of me, I do my absolute best to get to the other side.  If she asks me to lengthen my stride, I make my steps as big as I possibly can in that moment.  If she wants me to run fast, I go fast until she asks me to slow down.  I am very proud of my abilities and my responsiveness.

On yet another level, I think it is important for me to express my personality.  I am confident in my abilities and very aware of my environment.  I hold myself with dignity, but I have a sense of humor too.  That is why I can give "the look of eagles" one moment and then let someone play with my tongue the next.  I have been through a lot in my life, including a close brush with death, and I have come to appreciate both the mundane and the extraordinary.

When I am relaxing in my pasture, soaring over a big jump with Stacy, or majestically trotting down the jog lane at a three day event, it does not matter how many people read about me on the internet.  I revel in what is before me.  So to give a short answer to your question, I like to think that fame has not changed me at all.

Best wishes,

Fame or no, I just enjoy being myself.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ask Taco: Come Again Eventing Camp 2011 and Straightness

Q. Dear Taco,
Mom says that she might take me to eventing camp this year instead of Flo. Whatever. I was wondering if you were going. That would be cool, I guess.

A. Hey Mia,
I hate to tell you this, but eventing camp at Come Again Farm is a lot of hard work.  I was ridden twice per day for three of the days, then once the day after that, and then Stacy rode me twice at the combined test at the end of the week.  In order to do all of this riding she was doing trot sets and fitness work beforehand.  Not that it wasn't cool and fun (my personal favorite was the pace lesson around the galloping track), but you will get tired.  I think you are the kind of horse who doesn't mind that, however, so you will have fun.

As for me, I am not sure because Stacy is not sure.  I will have done another Training Three Day Event the month before, so it could be a bit much for me.  But we had such a good time last year and we heard that Becky Holder has already been confirmed as a clinician.  Stacy will have to decide soon since registration opens soon.

Best wishes,

Peter Atkins teaching us at the clinic last year.  I am the one all the way to the left.

Q. Dear Taco, 
Mom has been doing some work to develop what she calls my topline- really, i think she just has a fancy word for my butt and back- we have been walking hills 3x per week and spend at least 30 minutes walking during our working days. I'm on a 14% feed and in good weight. Do you have any additional suggestions? She said my topline looked really good when we were doing a lot of cantering (I LOVE cantering and galloping!) but it also caused me to get REALLY hot and stubborn since my breed also contributes to that (I'm half spirited arabian and half firey thoroughbred).

I also can tend to have some issues with straightness. I tend to want to either over-bend and lean and twist my neck (especially while cantering) which isn't really bending at all, or over-compensate when she asks me to straighten out by popping my shoulder out the opposite direction. I'm not sure she's communicating correctly with me, or maybe she can do something to help me stay straight and not be a wiggle-worm. We don't have an arena with a rail to work on or really any flat ground next to a fence. What ideas do you have?


A. Dear Boston,
In my experience, the trick to both a good topline and straightness is quality of practice, not quantity of work.  I get fit very easily, kind of like you.  But it has taken longer for Stacy to figure out how to ride so that I develop all of my muscles correctly and how to make sure my body is aligned properly on turns and straight lines.  I always do my best, of course, but I must admit that I will not reach my potential without Stacy's insistence and correct riding.

Stacy has figured out that she cannot learn all of this herself so she has enlisted help from Amy.  I like Amy but she tells Stacy things to do that make me work harder in dressage.  She rode me a few times last week and I had to work fairly hard, and then she worked with Stacy in a lesson this week to help her create the same quality in my gaits.  All of this exertion was worth it, I must say.  I look extremely fancy when I power up my hindquarters and float over the ground, and I feel like a million bucks!

You might be having trouble with straightness because your mom is doing some things inadvertently that might keep you from going straight, or she might not be doing some things that would help you align and push from your hindquarters.  Either way, some eyes on the ground will help her identify what she needs to do.  Yes, coaches and trainers do spell more hard work for us, but they also help us perform to our best abilities!

Best wishes,

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ask Taco: Hair Care and 2011 Plans

Q.  Dear Taco,
How do you keep your mane and tail so glossy?  What horsehair products do you use? 
And my friend wonders what Lifetime Movies you watch.
Does Stacy treat you well?  Do you like soft shoes or hard shoes?

Please answer any or all of the above!


A. Dear Gina,
Thank you for noticing my lovely mane and tail.  I am very proud of them.  I especially like my mane when it has grown a little bit too long and wild, like it is now.  I know that Stacy will thin and shorten it in a month or two to get ready for the event season, but in the meantime I like my rakish appearance.

 My hair care regime is very simple.  I do not over-wash it, first of all.  In the winter it does not get washed at all, unless my tail gets too muddy while I am running in my pasture.  That way the natural oils are allowed to condition it.  In the summer I often get both my mane and my tail rinsed out when I have showers after my workouts.  Year round, Stacy brushes my mane frequently but almost never brushes my tail.  Instead, she sprays Show Sheen into it to keep it detangled.  Some people say that Show Sheen is drying but the benefits of keeping my tail tangle-free outweigh that problem.  No tangles and little brushing add up to a nice, full tail that I am very proud of.

For competitions, Stacy washes both my mane and my tail.  She uses a shampoo called "Quic-Black" on my tail to enhance the color.  Then she works Mane n' Tail conditioner into my tail and lets it sit while she washes another part of me.  Finally, she rinses it with cool water (this helps the hair shaft slick down and look shiny) and then sprays Show Sheen into the wet tail.  Finally, once it is completely dry, she does the only brushing that she ever does on my tail.  She then makes a straight cut across the bottom, braids my mane, and we are ready!

A nice tails shows off a nice hind end. (

As for my Lifetime movie preferences, I don't want to hurt your friend's feelings but I don't really like Lifetime.  It is marketed toward female people and I'm male and a horse.  One time when I had insomnia in the winter, I was in my stall and turned on my TV and got sucked into a series of Lifetime movies.  I could not tell you the titles, though.  I was in a fog all the next day.

Stacy treats me very well, thank you.  I like the carrots that Stacy brings and how much fussing she does.  She scratches my itches and I don't mind the kisses too much.  She understands my needs very well, for the most part.   I get a little bit frustrated when she goes away on trips, either for work or to visit her family up in New England, which seem to happen every few months.  I really prefer to have regular work and consistent attention.  But she leaves me with Amy, who runs a pretty tight ship.  Sometimes Amy even rides me, like today. Also, I keep telling Stacy that I do not like static electricity in the winter and she has not addressed that problem, but it is minor.  The shoes she has on me are OK, I guess-- they feel fine and I have never had a different kind except I remember that when I was very young I did not have any shoes at all.  I like the new food that we are eating, and my hock joints in my hind legs feel pretty good right now.  All in all I have everything I need. 

All my best,

Q. Dear Taco,
My mom says that she has a vicarious eventing life thanks to you and your mom.  I don’t know what “vicarious” means and I’m not really sure what “eventing” is, but since Destiny says eventing is really hard work, we’re both against it on principle.

So we think that maybe if my mom hears a lot about your eventing career she’ll not even THINK about making us do it.  I think my mom would like to know what your plans are for next season.  What events will you be going to?  Plans for clinics?  Another 3-day? Please tell her in great detail b/c Destiny and I want to keep her happy for obvious reasons.

I think you’re pretty hot, BTW. For a gelding, that is. ;-)

Your fan,


A. Thanks for your kind compliments, Maggie.  I do my best to keep my appearance attractive, and it's nice to know that folks notice.
Vicarious simply means that she isn't doing the eventing herself but is instead experiencing the eventing through my participation.  It is nice to have her cheering Stacy and me on, I must say.  I do enjoy having fans.  But I will also say that I don't mind hard work at all.  If it involves running and jumping I just love it.  I guess you ladies will just have to be vicarious along with your mom.  As long as you are my fans, I think that's great.

As for our season, Stacy recently talked to Amy and the rest of the Panther Springs Farm riders and they made a schedule for 2011.  As I understand it, the first half of the year is to be a preparation for another Training Three Day.  As it stands this involves:
February  Combined test, dressage show, or clinic if possible
March 5-13 Aiken (March 12-13 Full Gallop Farm Horse Trials)
April 9-10 Chattahoochee Hills Horse Trials
May 6-8 Poplar Place Farm/ Area III Championships
June 2-5 Indiana Training Three Day Event

After the T3D we will probably enjoy ourselves at some more events later in the summer:
September 2-4 Kentucky Classic
September 23-25  Poplar Place
Oct 21-23 MidSouth Team Challenge  (this is where we did the T3D this year but next season we want to be on a team!)

We will also add some clinics and dressage shows here and there.  You can be sure that Stacy or I will post them on the blog.  It will be fun!  I love eventing!

All my best,

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ask Taco: Preparing for the New Season and Half Halts

Dear Taco,
Well, I've been on a break for at least the past year, but I've learned a lot and I've been working on new ways to use my many talents in different ways (for instance, I never knew that if I reached forward through the bridle and stepped up under through my hind-end that I had MORE power than if I just pull forward and bulldoze on my forehand!). Now that my mommy and I have worked on better tools for using my body to improve our riding, she is ready to put us back to work and hopefully get out to some competitions this spring. As we start to leg back up in January and February, what types of jumping exercises do you work on to get yourself ready for the upcoming competition season? My mom is really keen on something she calls "gymnastics," but I just think they're a bunch of poles all crammed together, so I get through them as best I can. As long as mommy doesn't fall off, though, I figure I'm ok. But, in order to make mom happy in the long run, what type of jumping work do you all start off with at the beginning of the year? I will try to take your advice and be good, but sometimes I just can't contain myself. I know that will make me sorry when I get in big trouble for launching my mommy, so I probably need some guidance from an eventing professional. Help me, please!!!!
Your buddy,

A. Dear Eddie,
That is great that you are going out to some competitions this coming year.  You will have fun.  I love competitions because I get a lot of attention and fussing over me, and I get to see places that I like and, best of all, jump over things.

It is understandable that you are excited about jumping again.  I have been known to get exuberant myself.  I can jump over much bigger things than what Stacy attempts, but that is OK with me.  I can just jump as high as I want to no matter what the size of the fence is.  She does not mind too much if I only do it a few times here and there.

I have found that I can jump the best when I have been able to build up my stifle muscles, especially if I have not been working so hard for a while.  Walking up hills and trotting in straight lines help my quads grow very strong.  I have had to do the gymnastics and I have to say, I like them because they are like doing puzzles.  Do you like doing puzzles?  If you think of it like a game you might discover that you enjoy gymnastics!

Another thing that helps me with my jumping is... jumping!  If I get to do a little bit fairly frequently, I can concentrate a little better and I am not so tempted to jump very high or do some little bucks.  I am very happy when Stacy just canters over a few smaller jumps here and there between jumping lessons.  If you can convince your mom to do the same, and she lets you jump low things on many of your rides, both of you will get more out of your lessons for sure.

See you at the shows!
Best wishes,

Could you in VERY elementary terms explain the half-halt. Second, how we can tell if our half-halt has been effective?
Thanks, K.B.

A. Dear K.B.,
I know who you are.  You bring apples to Rugie's mom, who does not like me very much.  I like you, however, because you often give me an apple, too.

A half halt is when I shift my balance toward my back legs.  If I want to do that I have to step farther forward with my hind legs, which means that I have to round my back a little and bend the joints in my hind legs a little more.  I have to say that I am very good at this, except when my left hock is bugging me.  Even then, I can still do a pretty good job.  And I look pretty handsome doing it.

I had to learn how to do the half-halt, though.  Actually, to be more precise, I had to learn what the signal was for the half halt.  Now I know that when my rider asks me to go forward, but then keeps me from going faster, I am to do the half-halt.  The way Stacy usually asks me to go forward is with a squeeze or bump from her legs.  The way that she keeps me from going faster is by holding with her core muscles and the outside rein.  If I get stiff or turn my head to the outside, which sometimes happens, she supples me a little with her inside rein.  Then she relaxes all of these pressures.

I can tell if the half halt worked because I will be working harder!  I think the way that Stacy can tell is that it feels like my energy is cycling from her legs through my hind legs and back through the bit and the reins to her.   Also, both of us feel like we could do anything together!  I have to admit, even though it is harder work it feels nice.

Best wishes,

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ask Taco: Cross Country and Conditioning Success

 Q. Dearest Taco,
I have long admired you and your sexy legs...I mean athletic physique and bold attitude. I can get kind of scared going XC, especially when my rider, Megan, tells me to take off too long at a jump. Can you give me some tips in how to be an excellent XC horse like you?

Your admirer,

A. Dear Flo,

Thank you for your kind comment about my legs.  I honestly thought that you had lost interest since you did not pay much attention to me this summer when we were in Indiana together.  But I am happy to help you out.

It is easy to be an excellent cross country horse if you follow three rules.
1) First, pay attention to absolutely everything that is in your path, so that you are prepared to handle it.  Study the terrain in front of you, the obstacle itself, and where the flags are (the darker one goes on the right).  Know where every bump on the ground is and whether there is just one jump or another one after it.  You will not have much time to do this so you always need to be paying attention, and this will make time seem to slow down.  This will help you with rule number two, which is:
2) Always jump if it is is safe to do so.  Notice that I do not say that you should jump no matter what.  You should only jump if it is safe.  This is the vast majority of the time.  Sometimes your jump might not be pretty, but that is not a good excuse not to jump.  For example, you might be coming to a jump and you are pretty sure that your rider is going to ask for a long spot.  At that point, you should slow things down in your mind like in #1, above, and check to see whether you can add another stride.  It might not look pretty, but you will be safe and your rider will be happy that you jumped over the fence.  The only good excuse not to jump is if you just can't make it over the obstacle and land on your feet on the other side.  Always try your very best to make it work.
3)  Pay close attention to where your rider is looking.  If you think about it, you can usually tell where she is looking, right?  That is very important information, because that tells you where to go.  If your rider makes some other mistakes on the way to the jump, you can stay on the line that she was riding and ignore the rest of her flailing around.  Again, your rider will be very happy that you jumped even though her riding was not perfect.

I hope that these tips help you out, and I hope that I see you again soon.  Would you like to jump with me sometime?


Q. Dear Taco,
I don’t want to be an eventer and neither does my mom, but she says I need to work on “conditioning” b/c it will help my dressage.  That sounds like a lot of work to me.   Anyway, she begged me to ask you for advice about this, so even though I have no real interest in it myself, I’m asking. I love my mom even if she’s sometimes nuts.

We used to have access to more trails, but some crazy people cut down the trees up there, and since the trees make horses’ feet sick, we can’t use the best trail anymore.  My mom thinks we should go over to your place and do this “conditioning” over there.  So what would you recommend, exactly?

Thanks (sort of), 


A. Dear Destiny,
Yes, conditioning can be a lot of work, but it helps get you fit, which feels really good.  It allows you to do anything you want to do without getting tired.  You will have more energy and vitality, and you will look great.  So those are all very good reasons to do conditioning.

As for where to do the conditioning, it is nice to have a large field or a trail.  It is possible to condition in a small arena, but that gets boring very quickly, and you will be tempted to throw in some spooks and bucks to make things interesting.  This will likely have the effect of angering or otherwise upsetting your mom.  Therefore, encourage her to find a nice area in which to condition.  Panther Springs Farm, where I live, does indeed have a nice track for conditioning.  Usually Stacy has me walk up and down the hill in one of the pastures, and then she does some trotting and cantering around the track.  When we are getting ready for a three day event we will do sets of trotting or cantering in between walking breaks.  This is called interval training.  Now that it is winter and I am not in regular work, we just do a few minutes at each gait but mostly walk around the farm.  The hill work is good for my hindquarters, the intervals are good for my cardiovascular system, and the walking is good for my bones, tendons, and ligaments.

I invite you to come over and do some conditioning with me.  Try it-- you might like it!

Best wishes,

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ask Taco: Saddles and Movie Viewing Preferences

These just in!  See Taco's responses, below.

Q:  Dear Taco,
I've noticed that your mom is trying out new saddles. How are you weighing in on her decision? Which brands and saddles have you liked most and which least...and WHY? I value your opinion, Taco.
L. C.-B.

Ah, yes, the saddle search.  I hope that Stacy gets it settled quickly, because I don't like to have a bunch of different saddles on me.  I like to have a couple that fit well that I wear all of the time.  The three saddle brands that I have liked the best are Albion (Annika had one of those), Passier (my dressage saddle is a GG model), and Black Country (the jumping saddle that Stacy has is their Tex Eventer model).  All of those saddles are well-made and good quality, but the most important part is that they match up to my back very well so that I am comfortable.  This does not mean that I could not like another kind as long as it fits me.  I have heard that Stackhouse saddles feel really good when the maker comes to measure the horse and rider, for example.  Stacy says that they are very expensive but I do wish that she would get one of those.

An extra-forward BC Tex Eventer-- my current saddle
I have a typical Thoroughbred back in that I have a reasonably high wither and a slight curve to it, but I don't have shark-fin type withers like some other Thoroughbreds.  I also have a medium wide angle to my back, although I got a little bit narrower when I was really fit for my T3D.  Our main fitting problem is my rider, Stacy.  She is not too tall but the top part of her leg (from hip to knee) is very long compared to the rest of her.  So when she is sitting in the jumping saddle with short stirrups, her knee goes over the front of the saddle if the flap is not forward enough!  Then when she rides me over the jumps I can feel her leg slipping back in the air.  I am very patient so I let it be unless she happens to bump me with her spur.  Then I let her know that she is poking me!

We tried a Frank Baines Extreme last week and right away I could tell it was not wide enough for me.  Stacy did not seem to pick up on this fact at first.  She can be a little bit slow sometimes.  She rode me in it and it wasn't terrible, but I did express my reluctance to leave the barn for the trial ride.  Luckily she figured out something was not quite right and sent some pictures to the saddle fitters, who told her that it was too narrow for me and too small for her.  Now it sounds like she is going to try another, bigger Black Country and then get a flap that is customized to be more forward.

By the way, she is working with Trumbull Mountain Saddlery and Kate Wooten and they are very helpful, so I am reasonably hopeful that she will get it right.  Otherwise I might wind up with one of those Western saddles like the one Tidbit had to try on last week!

Poor Tidbit.

Q. Dear Taco,
I am curious about your movie viewing preferences. Do you have netflicks and do you watch on TV in the barn or do you go to the movie theater? Do you bring your own carrots and do you ride there in your car if the movie theater is your preference?
Love, Grandma

A. Hi, Grandma.
Yes, I do have Netflix.  I just have the two-DVDs per month plan.  I have a home theater in my stall, because most theaters discriminate against horses.  This is actually a pet peeve of mine, because all kinds of destructive humans are allowed into the theaters, but not respectful horses like me.

I prefer hay to carrots for movie food because I just like to munch on something without ingesting a lot of carbs in one sitting.

I watch a lot of drama, suspense, art films, and even some mainstream comedy.  I also like horse-themed films although the horse parts have to be reasonably realistic.  We don't all neigh compulsively for no reason, you know.

Ask Taco: The Color Pink and Taco's Favorite Film

Taco has already had some questions submitted for the "Ask Taco" column.  He has cheerfully answered them.  Enjoy!

Dear Taco,
My mommy dresses me in something everyone calls "pee-ink." I don't really understand what it is and why everyone makes a big deal over it. I can't see what this "pee-ink" looks like, but I think it is probably very bright. Since I look smashing in everything (much like you), I can't imagine it looks bad. Could you tell me about this "pee-ink" and if I should be worried about wearing it? Maybe I have to wear "pee-ink" because I have only one eye? I don't think people should discriminate against me for having only one eye, in fact, I think I should get bonus points for doing everything two-eyed horses can do with only one eye. So anyway, my mom always says her "pee-ink" is very tasteful and "real men wear 'pee-ink.'" What do you think?


A.  Thanks for writing, Arizona.  This is an excellent question.

What you are referring to is the color pink.  A color is the hue that we perceive when we look at an object.  It is caused by how an object absorbs and reflects light.  Some colors you might be familiar with are green (grass when it is alive) and blue (the sky and the ribbon for first place here in the US).  There are three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow.  Pink is a less saturated form of the color red.

Pink has an illustrious history as a color.  It is often seen as the color of love, so if your mom is having you wear it, it means that she loves you.  Sometimes it is also seen as feminine, but this is entirely culturally constructed.  In Japan it is seen as a manly color, for instance.  In India, a whole city, Jaipur, was painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1853.  Many pink buildings remain there today.

So yes, your mom is right, real men do wear pink and in fact whole cities wear pink.  I have seen plenty of handsome geldings with two eyes wearing pink.  I have seen you in your pink outfits and you look handsome too.

Best wishes,

A beautiful pink flower

Q.  Taco, what is your favorite movie?
Carol S.

A.  Thank you for this question.  I love films.  Recently, I very much enjoyed Julie and Julia (Columbia, 2009).  I am a gourmet and a blogger, and this film combined two of my interests in a virtuosic recipe that was beautifully-shot and well-acted.  I highly recommend it.

Perhaps my favorite classic film is All About Eve (Twentieth Century Fox, 1950).  I enjoy anything with Bette Davis, and the amazing repartee throughout the film will always be unparalleled.  Being a very talented horse, I am happy to mentor others (like Rugie), but I must keep a lookout for those who would like to steal my fame.   This film reminds me to do so.

Best wishes,

Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Taco on Life These Days and New "Ask Taco" Feature

Stacy has been very busy lately.  Two weeks ago she did not come ride me at all!  She said that she went somewhere called Texas for a conference.  Just as I have a job, she apparently has a job too.  It is a very lazy job, however, because it does not involve any running or jumping.  She just sits there at a screen and sometimes talks to people who are sitting in a room with her.

Anyway, I didn't mind less riding at first, because I was pretty tired after my T3D.  But now that the weather has gotten cooler, I am ready to go again!  I really liked the T3D.  Stacy let me go as fast as I wanted to on the steeplechase and she did not interfere with me too much when we had a jump.  After that I had a nice break but I wasn't really tired, so I was thrilled when I got to go again and jump a regular cross country course.  When I got back to my stall and rested, I had plenty of energy but my hind legs felt really sore.  I would have done the showjumping the next day anyway but Stacy talked to some vets and she decided to just take me home instead and let me rest.  She said we can do another T3D next year, and I am really looking forward to it.

At least I have been able to jump a few times recently.  I have been very excited to jump and I am very good at it.  On other days I have had to do a little bit of dressage or trot and canter around the track a few times.  It is not hard work but that little bit of exercise makes me feel good.  Some horses really like to have 100% time off-- no riding at all.  However, that would make me very bored and if I don't get work I exercise myself in my pasture and sometimes get a little bit agitated when I am being led in or out of the barn.  I don't mean to but I can't help it sometimes.  It is just better for everyone when Stacy rides me.

We are also trying out new saddles.  Stacy needs a new saddle because she found out that hers is too small.

I would like to help out all of my fans so I am starting an "Ask Taco" column on this blog.  You can send in questions about anything and I will give you the answers.  I am extremely intelligent and I can answer anything you ask me.  You can ask horse questions or also fashion or history or etiquette or home decor questions or questions on any other topic.  Send them to Stacy at cookiepony at gmail dot com, or post them in the Comments section on this blog post.

Best wishes,

Saturday, November 6, 2010

T3D! Part 2

Thanks for your patience, Team Taco fans.  Here is the promised entry on what happened at the actual competition!

As you might recall, I left you in a little bit of suspense about whether or not I would stay on for hacking R&T and getting over to the steeplechase school.  I must admit that it was this question that worried me the most going in.  I imagined that Taco might get so excited about the other horses running around that he would jump in the air and chuck me on the ground.  Hey, I had to put my anxiety somewhere, right?  But on the other hand, I had to have some way of getting over to the very far end of the Kentucky Horse Park to meet Dorothy Crowell.

At first I had decided to hack over by myself, but then Kerry and Chase, some P3D competitors from Georgia, were heading out at about the same time we were.  So we decided to hack together.  And it turned out to be great!  After we had been out a few minutes Kerry thought that we should trot, and we did.  Chase is a little horse with a big stride, and Taco stayed pretty busy keeping up!  He was fresh but it was nothing I couldn't handle, and I arrived at the steeplechase school with a sense of triumph.

Taco scoping out the steeplechase field upon our arrival

The school itself had been a source of anxiety too.  To add to my trepidation, one of the riders in the previous group fell off just when I got there.  But I knew that if I just held on, I could ride as fast as Taco could run.  I asked Dorothy to encourage me to go faster should I need to, since I thought I might probably err on the side of going too slow.  And I was off!  First we did a 260-meter marked stretch, which we were supposed to do in 30 seconds.  We then proceeded immediately to a triple bar showjumping fence.  Taco and I did both quite respectably.  Yeah!!  Next, we got to practice accelerating from a standstill and jumping the first steeplechase fence on the actual course.  Here is what happened:

To quote Dorothy, woo hoo!

Then I did hack back to the barn, back along Phase A, all by myself.  As I was trotting along under the blue sky, amidst the fall foliage, through the park that only recently had held 700 of the top horses in the world, and on the back of the horse that I feel is the best one in the world, I thought about how unbelievably lucky I was.

The next morning was our dressage test.  Hoo boy, was it cold!  My numb fingers re-braided Taco (a slightly better job this time) and we tacked up and hacked over to the dressage complex.  Amy helped me warm up, making sure that I got the engine going at a hot enough temperature.  My dad and my stepmom Jennifer arrived while I warmed up, and then I headed down center line!  It was a respectable test.  My connecting half-halts were not as effective as they needed to be during the canter lengthenings and he tossed his head at the end of each one.  He broke from the canter in the corner after the right-lead lengthening.  My trot lengthenings were adequate but suffered from a similar inconsistency in the connection.  But he was forward and very obedient, and I was very pleased with him.  We scored a 36.4, which was good enough for 7th out of 34 starters.

Photo by

That afternoon, I went over Phases A-D thoroughly.  Amy walked me around Phase D (the regular cross-country phase) and we made a good plan.  Out of concern for the hardness of the ground, I decided to "ride" Roads and Tracks on the bike.  It took me a minute to figure out the route, but I eventually got my gates and kilometer markers figured out.  On the advice of my friend Jennifer Joyce, who is an old hand at this classic-format stuff, I got a second armband and put my little Phase A-C time chart into it.  I wrote my Phase D  markers underneath it on my arm with a sharpie, and then took off the extra armband in the ten-minute box.  It worked a charm!

The next morning I woke up with a mixture of excitement and nervousness.  This was it!  The day I have been preparing for for three years!  I was worried that I would screw up, but also excited and feeling like I was about to embark on a fun adventure.  And that is exactly what it was.

My whole Team Taco crew had met the night before and come up with a game plan for the day.  It consisted of Amy, Carol, Lauren, Dad, and Jennifer.  Although I only needed one person to send me off onto Phase A, and one person to be in the assistance area after Phase B, the whole crew was at each place, cheering me on and excited for me.  Lauren walked me out to the Phase A start, where the others met us.  And then I was off, making Taco trot as fast as he could!  He is not the world's fastest trotter, and he was spooking at all of the gate judge's cars, so we were slow meeting our first kilometer marker.  No matter, we put in a little canter along the way and it was easy to make the time.  He also perked up a good bit as we trotted alongside the steeplechase course and a horse raced by!

Phase A.  Photo by

Then it was steeplechase/ Phase B.  Oh, my.  I have never gone that fast on the back of a horse in my life.  But I was determined to make the time, and I did, with some to spare, even.  Once we got up to speed, I felt like everything went very still up on Taco's back, and we sort of skimmed along the ground.  He was very careful at each fence, setting himself up just as everyone said he would.  Wheeee!  What an exhilarating experience!  Lauren handed me a water bottle for a quick drink and then we were off on Phase C.

Steeplechase! Photo by

Phase C was supposed to contain some walking but Taco was really not too into that.  Dorothy had said that it was OK to trot if this happened, as long as the horses were not rudely running away with us.  Taco trotted along very happily and politely, so I let him.

In the ten-minute box.

My team was fabulous in the box!  Beth joined us, so that we had plenty of calm people to put cold water on and scrape it off.  Taco's vitals came right down and he jogged well.  Amy and I went over the course one last time.  before I knew it, we were off on Phase D again!  It was a great round.  Taco was forward and confident, and so was I.  He was also very, very rideable.  We made time easily and I went through the finish with a big smile on my face!  It really is true that doing Phases A, B and C before D make the last phase even more fun.

Photos by

With the help of my expert sponging-and-scraping team, Taco's temperature, pulse and respiration came down so fast that Dr. Duncan Peters asked me whether Taco had even worked that day.  We were released to the barns very quickly and I set about taking care of his legs. We had moved up one spot and ended the day in sixth place!

Later that afternoon, Dr. Peters had generously agreed to do an optional jog for T3D and P3D competitors.  I pulled Taco out and jogged him along our shedrow.  Uh oh.  He was a little uneven. But he jogged better the second time, so I thought he might be stiff from standing in his stall for a while.  I went over to Dr. Peters to get his expert opinion.

Waiting for our turn to see the vet

Dr. Peters suggested icing his hocks and light, gentle exercise.  Because it was a national competition, Taco was also allowed to have a gram of bute that evening and then 12 hours later.  The next morning, I iced again, and then showed him to Dr. Peters again, who was cautiously optimistic that continued gentle movement would loosen Taco up.  Since my efforts seemed to be helping, and Taco felt fine during a light ride, I decided to present him at the jog.  However, the ground jury sent us to the holding area, where the treating veterinarian palpated his hind end and found it to be quite sore.  The hard ground of the day before had, it appeared, taken a considerable toll on his hock joints and he was also quite muscle sore as a result.  At that point, I made the difficult decision to withdraw him from the competition.  Even if more exercise has been able to loosen him up enough to satisfy the ground jury, I hated to jump him when his hock joints and hindquarter muscles were making him uncomfortable.

So we drove home.  I cannot say how very proud I am of my horse and my team, and so very grateful that I had this opportunity to participate in this wonderful event!  I got much more confident riding Taco in the open, more confident at speed, and more confident on cross country.  I learned how to prepare for a jog, and how to take care of Taco better afterward.  And I learned more about how to keep him sound and comfortable for our next T3D.  We have an improved game plan for keeping his joints and muscles happier through the training and competition season next year.  Indiana Eventing Association T3D is in June 2011, and I plan to be there!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hagyard MidSouth Training Three Day! Part I

Well, we did it!  Or, sort of.  We made it to the T3D at Hagyard Midsouth Team Challenge and Three Day Event, and through the all-important Endurance Day, but I withdrew Taco at the final jog.  It was a letdown not to finish, but there will be other three day events. I am thrilled with my horse and I had a truly fantastic team of folks helping me all weekend.

In the lead-up to the event, I had some great help from Amy.  She got me confident over showjumps again (forward, forward, forward!) and gave me some really great comments on my dressage test.  She also rode Taco when I had to go to California for a couple of days for work.  Talk about trying to pack it all into my schedule—what was I thinking?

Anyway, when we pulled out Wednesday morning I felt that I was as ready as I would ever be. Taco, of course, was born ready, so I had not worries on that score.  His recovery times on his last gallop had been ridiculously short.  He had also been checked out by Dr. Tony, who found that Taco was dragging one toe a little after a flexion test.  We decided to treat that hock with Surpass and to try Equithrive, which contains resveratrol and hyaluronic acid.  By the time we left, he was feeling and looking good.

We had a smooth drive to Lexington and went through the first in-barn exam smoothly.  I had to hurry to get Taco settled and bathed before a lecture by Dorothy Crowell, the main clinician for the T3D, and Dr. Duncan Peters, who was the veterinary delegate.  They spoke on care before and after Endurance Day.  Much of what I heard was familiar, but I took careful notes and heard several helpful things.  After the lecture, I let Taco graze on the lovely green WEG track for a while, and then tucked him in for the night. As I moved around the Kentucky Horse Park, I kept thinking that the competition I had been working toward for the last three years had actually arrived.  My task at this point was, I thought, to put all of my preparation to the best use possible.

The next day was completely packed with activity.  It started with the mandatory briefing for the T3D, P3D, and CCI* riders, continued with Dorothy's lecture on timing A, B, and C and a steeplechase walk, then the jog, and finally a steeplechase school.  I woke up pretty nervous, thinking about doing all of these things and managing to braid and clean up Taco, too.  But my strategy was to make a good plan and then just to concentrate on whatever task was before me.  This turned out to be a helpful strategy all weekend.  Whenever I found myself getting jitters, I asked myself, "what do I need to concentrate on now, at this very moment?"

The briefing and lecture left little time for braiding and primping for the jog, but just before the jog my number one groom and sports psychologist, Carol, showed up.  She had brought the shoes and jewelry that I planned to wear for the jog, and she also did her magic on the buckles and clincher browband of Taco's bridle.  She has become an expert metal polisher, poor thing!  There was a scary moment when I realized that the hoof polish I planned to use had comfrey in it, which is not USEF-legal (although external use is probably fine).  So off I went to find some hoof dressing.  I arrived back at the stall some minutes later (the vendor had been very talkative) with pine tar.  Big mistake!  It was cold and went on like molasses, and then proceeded to pick up every speck of dust his hooves encountered.

So it was a hurried pair that made our way to the jog lane—but once there, it was wonderful!  I stood Taco up for Dr. Peters and the ground jury, and then we jogged down the lane (the same one used by world-class horses at Rolex and the World Equestrian Games!).  Taco floated along beside me and I felt like a million bucks.  We were accepted easily and went back to the stall.  On the way back, we met poor Carol, whom I had delegated to find a dressage whip for the jog.  She had rummaged through the trailer and come up with both a long jumping bat and my Wonder Whip, but by the time she found me again I had already jogged!  Note to self: jogs always go faster than you think they will!

Handsome Face


Will Stacy stay on during the hack to the steeplechase school?  Stay tuned for the next episode! 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wake-Up Call

This weekend was the annual Middle Tennessee Pony Club Horse Trials.  The short version of our weekend is that we won the dressage and then I fell off in stadium.  I am unhurt except for my pride.

The longer version:  I had an amazing weekend at the World Equestrian Games eventing competition a week ago, got totally behind on sleep and grading, put in a long week of teaching, writing, and meetings while I tried to get caught up on the sleep and grading, squeezed in some rides, and peeled myself out of bed yesterday morning to go braid.

Despite my preoccupations, Taco went quite well last week.  Amy had ridden him while I was at the WEG, and I came back to a newly tuned-up Taco.  When I had a lesson on Thursday, she showed me how to do the suppling work that she had done and then we had a productive jump school.  So I felt well-prepared coming into the show.

I should have known I was in trouble when I woke up and was not excited about the day.  This is very unusual for me on the morning of a competition.  I am usually nervous on show mornings, but I have a spring in my step and a sense of purpose.  Not so yesterday.  I kept catching myself thinking negative thoughts.

I got to Brownland Farm, which is where the dressage and stadium are held, in plenty of time and made my way over to the warmup area.  Taco felt a little "stuck."  I felt overheated and ineffectual.  But Amy talked me through it and by the end of my warmup we were looking credible.  I made a few mistakes in the test (breaking in a lengthening, walking at C instead of H, doing my signature flub of a canter transition), but we scored a respectable 31.8, which put us in first place.

Taco looking handsome during the canter lengthening (Palmer Photo)

I walked the showjumping course one more time and then tacked up, all the while lacking concentration and focus.  Longtime Team Taco member Elizabeth expressed concern over my mental state, and started pushing the Powerade and encouraging me to think more positively.  I drank the Powerade and tried to get my head in the game.  In warmup, I was on my own because Amy's dressage time was at the same time as my showjumping, but she had given me instructions.  I tried to work on Taco's adjustability, get him in front of my leg, and ride in a powerful rhythm to the jumps.  However, I did not get the job done.  I let myself get distracted by a dispute between two trainers and never established that forward ride that I would need for the showjumping course.

The result was an underpowered ride all the way around until the third to last, which was the final element of the triple combination.  As I jumped in I thought that I would be OK-- I knew that it was a one-stride to a two-stride, and I started to count my way through.  Unfortunately, because Taco was underpowered coming in, he landed close to the second element, took two strides, and was still too far away from the final element to jump safely.  Rather than take off from that distance, he wisely chose to stop.  The thing about Taco is that he (almost) never stops, and the very few times that he has stopped have been when he has felt that he absolutely cannot jump safely.  Anyway, I fell off the side of his neck and landed on my feet, holding the reins.  I left the arena in a cloud of embarrassment.  What is that saying that Jimmy Wofford likes?  Experience is what you get a moment after you need it.  I immediately realized that I had not given Taco the ride that he needed that day.

After some soul-searching, I decided not to ask the Ground Jury for permission to ride XC the next day.  I was obviously not 100 percent, and I did not want to risk my horse's and my safety over solid obstacles.  So I loaded Taco on the trailer and took him back to the farm, where he gratefully ate his dinner and went out to his field. I went home and got into bed until nine this morning.

I just hate that I let my horse down in this way, and we have now missed our final gallop, but there are some positive lessons to take from this:
1.  I can't do everything that I want to all at once.  I need to have appropriate amounts of sleep and rest in order to be at my best in competition.
2.  It is imperative that I ride forward in showjumping (and in all phases).  If this requires recruiting a ground person for my warmup who is willing to yell at me until I move my @$$, so be it.
3.  We missed a gallop, but Taco is incredibly fit already and the ground was hard this weekend.  Not running XC reduces wear and tear on him in advance of the T3D.
4.  If I'm going to screw up, I might as well do so at a local horse trials than the T3D.  Now I have gotten *that* out of the way.  I will be on my toes more at the T3D.
5.  Taco is an extremely safe horse.  Not only is he a lovely jumper, and extremely honest, but he will also decline to jump should I get us into a problem spot.  I am so lucky.

I went out to the barn and clipped him today, then hacked him around the fields.  Carol came with me and did some bike riding with the dogs.  It was a lovely, restful afternoon.  I was happy to be with my wonderful horse and my wonderful family.

Losing some fur

Showing off the new haircut

After adding some dust

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quiet Weekend at Home

It is the calm before the storm of my trip to the WEG, MTPC, and the T3D, all of which are happening in the space of the next four weeks.  Oh, and I will be making a quick work-related trip to CA in there, too.

In the meantime we are continuing our horse and human workouts.  And we got some wonderful news today:  Dorothy Crowell is going to be the main clinician at the T3D!  The event secretary sent out an email today to tell us the rough schedule for the briefings and inspections.

We also got a pleasant surprise in the mail: Taco's and my Training level USEA Silver Medal.  I am going to wear it on my jacket lapel.

In very sad news, Team Taco friend Hilda Donahue lost her wonderful partner Extravagance at the Poplar Place CIC*** today.  They were a lovely pair and I am heartbroken to hear this.  Rest in Peace, Extravagance.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

More training...

Since the AECs, we've continued to prepare for the T3D.  Taco's fitness is great, but mine needs work, so I have been doing some additional workouts at the gym.  I've also started a Rider Fitness Accountability Thread on the COTH BB to keep me motivated.

It's been summer-like for the past couple of weeks but we've gotten in some trot sets and a little gallop (more for me than for Taco).  We had a jump lesson last weekend that reminded me of the importance of committing to a rhythm (not a distance) on the approach to each fence.  Here are some video clips, taken by our friend Elizabeth:

There are 34 entries in the T3D at Midsouth!  Wow!  I am so happy for the T3D program and it will be a great group of people there, I am sure.

I also got some AEC pictures from the professional photographer Mark Walter Lehner of  They are gorgeous-- his team does a great job!  Here are a few of my favorites.  And you might have noticed that I have posted a new picture under the title of the blog, too.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


This weekend was the American Eventing Championships, or AECs.  Or, as it might be appropriately called, the American Eventing Clinic-- for it was an extremely positive educational experience for me!  We finished in the middle of the pack (22nd out of 50+ horses), but on top of the world in terms of developing our partnership and confidence together.

We had expert, encouraging help from the peerless Hilda Donahue.  When I initially realized that Amy could not come to coach me, I did despair somewhat, but then I was lucky enough to arrange coaching with Hilda.  I had met her while she was volunteering at Pine Top Advanced HT during the infamous rainy 2009 event-- yes, she was volunteering at an event where she was riding!  In the rain!  Then I had heard great things about her from my friend Seema, and when I asked Seema whether Hilda might be a good coach for the AECs, I got an enthusiastically affirmative response.  Hilda fortunately agreed to coach me, and we had a wonderful phone conversation the week before the event in which I told her all about Taco and me.

The week before we left, Amy worked with me on both our jumping and dressage.  In both disciplines, we concentrated on me riding every moment, and responding to what was going on underneath me instead of relying on a formula of what I thought I "should" be doing.  I decided to set riding in the moment throughout all three phases as a goal for this event.  We also worked on angling a three-stride line, a practice session that I was very glad to have done come cross-country day!  All in all, Amy did a fabulous job of preparing us, both last week and throughout our partnership.  Hilda was very complimentary of my preparation.

When we arrived at Chattahoochee Hills I was instantly blown away by the magnitude of the event.  I believe almost 700 horses started!  The trailer parking alone was a ginormous area.

The trailer parking was surrounded by the circle of road dubbed "I-285" by some participants.

We were fortunate enough to be stabled in the rear of the property, in one of the lovely permanent barns.  This is the nicest show stabling I have ever seen.  Each stall had rubber mats, and was slightly deeper than it was wide so that the horses could retreat to the back of the stall to get some peace and quiet.

The beautiful barns in our section (ours was the one to the left).

Taco just after arrival.

Dressage went very well.  Hilda had me practice each movement of the test in turn, and emphasized correct bend and energy.  We practiced lengthenings with well-timed half-halts, and the turn in the center of the 15 meter figure-8.  Then it was was showtime!  Taco pumped up a little bit when we entered the arena, and he put in a lovely, fluid test.  I could have changed the bend in the figure-8 better, and done a better job preparing for my left canter depart, and kept the energy in the transition from free to working walk better, but all in all it was nice.  The judges agreed, and my two scores came to a 28.2, putting us in 2nd place out of those 50+ horses.

Hilda discussing our performance after the test.

Cross Country (click here for photos of the jumps and a course map) was more technical than anything I have seen to date.  But when I walked it I thought that Taco and I were ready for it!

The ski jump bank down to the angled cabins.  Lots of people decided to circle here, but I correctly thought that we could handle the straight route!

Hilda had really emphasized correct line and balance when we walked the course together.  She always looks back from each fence to the one before it to check the line that she plans to ride.  This helped me tremendously.  In the warmup, she had us do a variety of rides to the fences-- off of turns and angles, and also working on getting him out in front of  my leg.  I was nervous leaving the start box, but I knew that we had done everything possible to set ourselves up for success.  Taco came out ready to do his job, as usual.  He jumped clear around over everything, including the combinations at the water (a rolltop on a mound, down a bank that looked huge to me, and out over a very tall skinny brush), the ski jump to angled cabins (thanks for the angle practice, Amy!), and the coffin.  He was very careful and patted the ground a few times in front of the drops, so I just tried to support him with my leg and let him do what he needed to do.

I rode at a pace that felt comfortable to me, which turned out to be over 20 seconds slow.  I wanted to make sure I jumped around safely, the ground was hard (remember we have a little thing called a three day event coming up!), and my riding at speed is definitely still a work in progress.  I thought we were going pretty fast, but on the video it looks like we are just loping around!

Our time penalties dropped us down to 20th place, so we had little pressure going into showjumping.  Still, I wanted to ride a good round here.  Taco was definitely a little stiff after XC and standing up in a stall for several nights, so with Carol's help I got him out and walking as much as possible and our Aunt Lynda brought us plenty of ice to soothe his feet and ankles.  He felt good in the warmup and Hilda once again gave us exactly what we needed to get ready for our round: some jumps off of a shorter turn to give me the feeling of revving T's hocks up underneath him.  The course was maxed out (the concession to making the first fence a little softer was to not max out the oxer's width!) and very gallopy, with several long approaches.  Then we went in, and Taco just jumped out of his skin.  I felt like we could have jumped anything-- he was so elastic and responsive.  We had one rail after I rode a less than stellar turn, but I really felt that I pushed through to a new level of eliciting Taco's best jumping.  Big pats for him!  I told Hilda when I came out of the ring that I felt like the event had been a very productive clinic for me.

We drove home in the heat, as I relived my favorite moments of the weekend.  While each phase had room for improvement (watch out for us next year, folks!) I was tickled that we had put in three very solid phases that built confidence in each one.  I loved spending time with Taco in this way, and seeing friends, and getting to know Hilda and her lovely fiance (thank you so much for the taco dinner!!), and having the devoted help of Carol (she is getting really good at picking stalls, poor thing).  Thank you to the USEA and the AECs organizers and volunteers, and to Carol, and Hilda, and Seema for the lovely, unexpected gift, and Lynda for the golf cart rides and ice and water, and Dad for my fancy new helmet, and Mom for the camera with which the above pictures were taken! Thank you Team Taco!!  We could not have done it without you!

This is what it's all about.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quick Notes on the Dressage Show

Taco and I went to a recognized dressage show last weekend. We entered the Opportunity classes, which do not require USEF and USDF membership or nonmember fees! They are a great deal for eventers. However, they were not heavily subscribed because, I am guessing, people do not yet know about them. We were the only entry in one class and one of two in another. We won both tests. ;)

Blue ribbon for first AND last place in First Level, Test Three!

I rode First 3 first, in the Miller Coliseum at Middle TN State University.  The atmosphere was a bit electric in there and our test was a bit tense.  People applauding for the rider in the other arena did not help.  It scored a 60.5, which was generous.

Our next test was First 1, in the covered arena, and was much better.  Taco felt lovely and fluffy and forward.  However, the judge said that she thought Taco looked uneven on his left hind.  So our score was not great- 61.3.

I had Dr. Tony check Taco out early this week and he found nothing except for a mild reaction to flexing Taco's hock joints, which was not new.  I am already giving Legend before competitions (except for dressage shows!), and we are also trying Cosequin ASU.  So I am hopeful we can keep the guy comfortable.

Lastly, we had a long time to wait between tests at the show, so we had to entertain ourselves somehow.  This is what Taco had a good time doing:

Thanks Elizabeth for coming and cheering for us!  And thank you Carol for videoing everything.  It is good for me to be able to see the tests.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

My friend Megan has a photo of her dogs lying flat-out in front of a fan at the barn.  That's about how I feel.  I went to Rhode Island on vacation and I had thought that getting a week away from the Tennessee heat would make it easier to come back, but it's worse!  It's very difficult to motivate.  There has been little rain and things are starting to get brown.

Fortunately, having goals supplies motivation in these kinds of situations.  I have worked out my conditioning schedule for the T3D in October, since it is about 11 weeks out, and now I need to execute it.  Nobody pointed out to me that doing a fall three-day means conditioning in August!

Taco is fairly easy to get fit to begin with, and he has a nice baseline.  He recovered in the blink of an eye, it seemed, after our XC run at Penny Oaks.  Admittedly, we were treated to mid-80s and low humidity that weekend.   His resting temperature is barely 99 degrees (normal for a horse is 99-101), his normal heart rate is 36-40, and he recovers quickly after exercise.

Today was yet another hot day, and I decided to try a conditioning ride with the idea that I would pay close attention to how he was doing.  It was the first week on the schedule and it was a pretty light workout: 3 sets of five-minute trots and a couple of two-minute canters at 350 meters per minute.  He does more than that in many of our dressage schools.  To make a long story short, he seemed to find this quite easy, although I myself really felt the heat!  Ten minutes after pulling up from the second of our two short canters, his temperature and heart rate were only slightly elevated, and after his shower they were normal again.

As the workouts get longer, the weather will get cooler, or at least I hope so.  Here is our plan.  If you, dear readers, have some feedback about it, please tell me!  It contains elements of several conditioning schedules, two of which have appeared in EVENTING USA magazine (by Nancy Koch and Gina Miles).

T3D Conditioning Schedule- Taco

1. Week of 8/8            3x5@220; 2x2@350

2. Week of 8/15            3x5@220; 2x2@400

3. Week of 8/22            3x5@220; 2x3@400

4. Week of 8/29            3x5@220; 3x3@400

5. Week of 9/5            AECs; 1x5:30@470

6. Week of 9/12            3x5@220; 3x4@400

7. Week of 9/19            3x5@220; 1x6@400; 2x1@500

8. Week of 9/26            3x5@220; 1x6@420; 2x2@500

9. Week of 10/3            1x10@220; 1x2@520; 1x20@160; 10 min rest; 1x6@450

10 Week of  10/10            Taper—hack and normal dressage/jump schools

Week of 10/17 Midsouth T3D

Each week:
Day 1            Dressage plus walk
            Day 2            Jump plus walk
            Day 3            Hacking out/Hill work OR rest and add hills to 2nd dressage school
            Day 4            Dressage plus walk
            Day 5            Jump plus walk
            Day 6            Conditioning/Canter
            Day 7            Rest