My 5 Favorite Things: the Dog Grooming Edition

Giving my large hairy and only-loves-water-if-it’s-a-natural-body-of-water-or-a-swimming-pool-but-no-bath-tub dogs is the bane of my existence. Between the de-shedding, being covered in water, and their “I hate you” expressions, I just don’t do it as often as I should. In fact, lately I’ve just given up and have been sending them to the groomer. But, when I do venture into this, I have found a few helpful products:

  1. Vetrolin Bath Ultra-Hydrating Conditioning Shampoo0022218This is my favorite shampoo. I use it for the horses and I use it for the dogs. Does a great job cleaning and leaves them smelling great. It also doesn’t agitate Guinness’ skin and he is so so sensitive.
  2. EZ Wash Wand
    This one is something that makes my life easier rather than something the dog really likes but bath time is so much easier with the EZWash Wand! The one shown is the dog size (which I didn’t know they made until doing this post) but I have the larger horse size. Lets me get all over the body with minor wrangling of dog and I barely get wet while using it (unlike a normal hose).I also found while writing this that they have a shampoo container that can be added. I ordered that to give it a try.
  3. HandsOn Gloves
    6y5a5369These are both of my dogs favorite grooming accessory ever. I get them out of the bag and they go crazy! They like the massage that they get. I like that they pull out all the extra hair. But really, what I love about these is how easy they make bath time. I pour the shampoo right on my hand and then attack the wet dog. They help me get right down to the skin  so that I truly get a clean dog. And the dogs don’t mind baths quite as much when they’re getting a massage.
  4. SleekEz

    I originally bought this for Gus. He’s always sweaty and grows a way thicker coat than he should in the summer (to the point that I actually shaved him in the summer) so I thought maybe this would help. It didn’t. So I brought it home to try on the dogs. We have used so many different shedding brushes with Guinness and he hates them all. But this one, he didn’t! He not only tolerated it, he actually seemed to like it. The SleekEz pulled out the undercoat but didn’t seem to pull on his skin. It also left his coat looking shiny and healthy. The brush didn’t do as well with Harley but she also doesn’t have that big undercoat like Guinness does.
  5. Synthetic Chamois

    They technically make these for drying off your car but I was given the tip to use them for the dogs at a Dock Diving competition. It was instant love. They soak up the water, you wring them out, and they’re easy to store and carry around without having to deal with wet towels. I currently am using The Absorber Synthetic Drying Chamois but I expect any high rated brand would do the trick.

The Dogs, the Bible, and Me

Yesterday ended up being a bit of a disappointment since my regular lesson had to be rescheduled to Saturday thanks to a tornado watch and thunderstorms rolling in just as my lesson was supposed to start. What rotten luck. Especially now that I’ve sent in Gus and I’s very first recognized horse show entry and need every day we can get!


But at least there was no major damage and no tornado touch down here (as far as I’m aware). The dogs didn’t think the whole experience was that fun though and I finally gave up and let them all cuddle on the bed with me. Harley never used to be frightened of storms but ever since Ziva arrived, the heightened anxiety of both the shepherds has convinced Harley the world is ending.


There was some upside to the day however. For one thing, the bible came and holy smokes is the new iteration pretty.


I have never done a lot of ordering through Dover (see ridiculous shipping prices) and have always felt like they waste a lot of paper on catalogs but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy looking through them every now and again! And when I pulled this baby out of the mailbox my mouth sort of dropped open. That is one impressive looking catalog.

But the best thing to happen yesterday is that my new belt from Boy-o-Boy Birdleworks came! It is just as pretty as I pictured and can’t wait to wear it at FENCE H.T.



Thoughts on Show Photographers

Despite the fact that I have the best horse show husband who snaps literally hundreds of photos of me at every single show just so I can find ten I like (true story) I really want to support the good show photographers. They’re a dying breed and the good ones are worth every penny, even at the beginning levels.

Because here’s the thing, Eric is a good photographer but he’s an amateur. The actual show photographers have better equipment, better training, and they are allowed to go anywhere which means they often just have better access to a good shot. And you better believe I will pay for that.

The most recent schooling show at Poplar had a show photographer which doesn’t always happen at schooling shows. I was excited to see what she had gotten! Dressage was just your basics and I already had fabulous shots from Eric so I skipped them and unfortunately in stadium, Gus still looks a bit like a flying unicorn so no go there either. However, there was a great picture from XC! Not only did she have a great angle, Gus was actually jumping cute. I immediately bought a small digital copy for personal use for $25.

I thought that was reasonable and made sure I read over her use fee just so I knew what I could or couldn’t do with the photo but I honestly didn’t look too closely at the size of the photo. I don’t understand those things anyway, Eric just gives me photos and I put them on my blog/Facebook/Instagram and they look fabulous or not depending on how hard Gus and I are derping in a particular shot.

Plus, I’ve bought personal use photos from photographers before. In fact, here’s the one I bought of Dandy’s first run around Rebecca Farms.


It’s a wonderful photo. More artsy than I usually purchase but truthfully Dandy wasn’t really respecting the other novice fences that were photographed and this one was fun. I was pretty sure this photo had cost me the same amount until I actually looked it up for this post and found that it actually only cost me $15. Now to be fair, Shannon Brinkman is a very well known photographer around the big events and she probably gets a lot of orders and is able to price her stuff accordingly but gosh, this is a real deal! And the quality for personal media use is wonderful. I will definitely be willing to support Shannon in the future. I’m half tempted to go buy more photos of Dandy’s Rebecca Farms excursions.

The $25 small digital copy I purchased of Gus? Well, I should have listened when she said small. I’m not expecting to be able to blow it up and print 8x10s with it, I didn’t even want to do that. I just wanted to post that photo here and say “Look how amazing my boy is!” But I was shocked. I can’t even put it on Instagram with how blurry it is. Well I could but I don’t want to put low quality photos on my account.


And this is my problem with show photography. I understand you have to pay the bills. I understand that equipment is expensive and that you are shooting all day under a hot sun with no guarantee that you’re going to make any money at all. But when this is what I get for a $25 digital personal use photo? Well, it leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.

With prices like this, it’s no wonder that show photographers are a dying breed. Even people like me who are willing to support the good ones eventually get tired of feeling like we’re being cheated. As much as I want these special moment to be captured and as much as I love having the memories, I have no incentive to purchase. Actually, because of Eric I have less incentive than most people so why are show photographers making it even less enticing for people like me to purchase? I’m the kind of person you want to get on to your website because I’m a blog writing adult amateur who loves showing off. I will purchase all the photos if they’re good! Especially now that I have a good job and the money to do so.

I honestly don’t know what the answer is to the problems with show photography. And I’m not surprised that I see an official photographer at my shows less and less these days. As an adult amateur, even one with a good job and money to spend on show photos, I still need to be careful where I spend my money so I guess I just keep supporting the good photographers and stay away from those I’m not happy with. Money talks. But I do wish there was a way for us all to be satisfied with the experience.

Book Review: Ambition

Ambition by Natalie Keller Reinert



“Jules Thornton didn’t come to Ocala to make friends. She came to make a name for herself. Young, determined, and tough as nails, she’s been swapping stable-work for saddle-time since she was a little kid – and it hasn’t always been a fun ride. Forever the struggling rider in a sport for the wealthy, all Jules has on her side is talent and ambition. She’s certain all she needs to succeed are good horses, but will the eventing world agree?

On her own at last, Jules is positive she’s poised to become eventing’s newest star, but soon finds she’s making more enemies than friends in the close-knit equestrian community. Little mistakes cost big — her students are losing faith in her; her owners are starting to pull their horses. And then there’s the small matter of Peter Morrison, the handsome, on-the-rise event rider who keeps showing up when she least expects him.

Jules is convinced that all she needs is good horses — not friends, not romance, not anyone’s nose in her business. But it’s just the beginning of the long, hot, Ocala summer, and as Jules tumbles through the highs and lows of a life with horses, she might find she’ll need help after all to weather the coming storm.”

– from


In a lot of ways, this book is the eventing version of The Dressage Chronicles. The author has first hand experience with the upper levels if eventing and that shines through the pages. It’s very nice to not be thrown out of the story due to a minor detail that just doesn’t ring true. 

That all being said, it took me a bit to get into the story as the main character, Jules, is definitely prickly. Her ambition is all consuming and sometime makes it look like Jules cares more about winning than the horses. 

This is not the case though and, while Jules doesn’t get any softer, her heart eventually wins the readers over. More than that, she’s scrappy and bold and I know I wish I was like that occasionally! 

Also like The Dressage Chronicles the story brings the readers into a world that a lot of people don’t see and that few authors like to discuss which is just how hard the professional Equestrian life is when you aren’t born with money. While Jules mostly lands on her feet, things are not easy between natural disasters,  typical horse shenanigans, and difficult clients. 

Then there’s the attractive Pete, a fellow trainer and competitor who is doing his best to win Jules’ heart…

Final Thoughts

While it took me a few chapters to get into the story, by the end I was eagerly turning the pages wanting to know what happened next. In fact, I’ve already downloaded and started reading the second book, Pride. It’s really nice reading an book about eventing written by someone who actually events and has worked with upper level riders. Currently, the book is free on Kindle Unlimited or you can buy it on Kindle for $1.99 and for that, it is so worth it.


I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about what I wanted to get out of this blog. It has changed a bunch from my very first post to now and I’ve gained a wonderful sense of community that I wasn’t expecting back then. What I realized was that I want this blog to really be a reflection of my journey. I want to be able to share the highs and lows of working with OTTBs. I want to be able to commiserate with others struggling with their green horse problems. I want to be able to brag about our shows and share all the pretty pictures with you.


But mostly, I want this blog to be true. I like talking and I have a lot of opinions. Sometimes I’m not the most eloquent speaker (or writer in this case) but that doesn’t mean I don’t have something to say.

Some of you might say that I’ve already been doing all of that, and I suppose you’re pretty much correct. I do tend to put whatever I want to say up here and I’m not afraid to share a bad photo or two (or two hundred… Gus is not the prettiest of jumpers all the time and we all know I make the worst riding faces!). But I also want this blog to be more than just my day to day training regimen. I want you to read this blog and really feel that you know me.

To that end, I’ve decided to rebrand this blog. Dandyism is a thing of the past and you are now reading the very first entry of Gray Horse Problems, complete with our own domain name ( so update any links please!).

I am still in the process of getting everything just right so you’ll continue to see small changes throughout the next few months but I hope you won’t feel like I’ve really changed. I hope you’ll feel like I turned the page and started a whole new chapter, and I really hope you’ll follow along on the ride!

So come visit and like our new Facebook page Gray Horse Problems and follow along on Instagram at @Grayhorseproblemsblog.


And thank you for to everyone who has experienced even a little bit of a journey so far. I can only hope that even more good things are coming our way.


Changes are Coming

Big changes are coming to this blog next week. You may get a hint if you look up at your address bar… but in getting the finishing touches ready I will be very very busy this weekend. Which is a good thing really because I just found out I had the chance to be here over the weekend:

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

But somebody didn’t think I’d be interested enough to just say “Yes, Lauren and I will go!” Instead somebody decided they better check with me first and by the time I saw the text someone else had agreed to go.

Not that I’m still bitter or anything.


Kitchen Reno Finished

As of yesterday, I can finally say that the kitchen renovation is finished! Well, actually the kitchen part has been finished for a long time but yesterday the baseboards and the ceilings got painted so we are officially done with contractors for Phase 1 of our demo. This is a big deal!

It has been many many long weekends and a lot of money but I am so so happy with how things turned out. The kitchen looks exactly as I imagined it would.  We went from this (which was basically unusable… especially after the stove exploded):

To this:

I love my new kitchen. I love cooking in it. I love having nice appliances for once in my life. And Eric’s idea of open shelving was totally spot on (though he’s not allowed to put anything on the shelves).

There are still a handful of things to do on the Phase 1 reno list but for the most part, it’s done. Now it’s time for the fun stuff: decorating!

Horse Show Choices

I cannot believe all the choices I have here in Area III for showing and clinics. In Seattle, you had one option every other weekend during the summer for events, a couple of derbies in the spring, and maybe some clinics over the weekend. In some ways that is nice, you know your schedule year in and year out, no wondering where you’re going this year. Most weekends here I have a recognized horse trial within a few hours or a schooling horse trial or any number of dressage and jumper shows.

When my trainer sent out a proposed schedule for this spring and summer, my eyes bulged out. There  is something literally every weekend! There’s no way I can do all of that, I do have to spend some time at home with the dogs and the boy… I guess?


Anyway, I’ve narrowed it down to the following so far:


3.18.17 – 3.19.17 : Ashland Farm Clinic
3.25.17 : Chatt Hills Schooling Show


4.1.17 – 4.2.17 : Lainey Ashker Clinic
4.15.17 – 4.16.17 : FENCE H.T.


5.6.17 : Silverthorn Jumpers
5.20.17 – 5.21.17 : Chatt Hills H.T.
5.26.17 – 5.28.17 : Circle of Friends Agility Trial


6.3.17 – 6.4.17 – Aiken XC Schooling Weekend
6.17.17 – 6.18.17 : Stephen Bradley Clinic
6.24.17 – 6.25.17 : Stableview H.T.


7.8.17 – 7.9.17 : Chatt Hills H.T.


8.12.17 – 8.13.17 : Windridge Farm H.T.


Just looking at that and I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed but very excited! I am going to have to make sure I keep on top of things both at home and at work. We’ll see how things are going in June before I start penciling in the rest of the summer but I’m hoping for good things!

Gray Horse Problems

The problem with gray horses is that it takes a lot of work to keep them gray and not brown. This is especially hard when it starts warming up but it’s still raining on and off and the minute said gray horse is put out in pasture he rolls. Oh, and the wash rack is out of commission for repairs.

#grayhorseproblems … story of my life.

Gus always comes in a mudball. Even when there is not rain and mud readily available. It’s half the reason I keep him clipped and blanketed. If he has a sheet on, at least the sheet gets dirty first and Gus stays semi reasonable.

It’s incredibly frustrating trying to take pictures though because even though you do your best job grooming before hand, there’s always that brown/yellow glow when you look closely or sometimes even not so closely. It doesn’t help when you’re dealing with winter yak hair as well. Everything just looks messy.

Somehow I manage though. In winter that means I just moan about how dirty my horse is all the time and in the summer it means at least a hose down after every ride. I really do hate having a brown gray horse!

But when shows and clinics come around, you better believe I’m not showing up with a brown horse (okay, expect for this time at Poplar but we are not mentioning that). Even for a simple one day or local clinic the blue shampoo comes out. It’s usually a two hour process to get Gus looking gray again but it is so worth it.

Pedigree Post

Editors Note: The wonderful husband originally wrote this back for me in December when everyone was digging into their OTTB’s pedigrees but I have been lax about posting it. Hopefully you will still appreciate reading all about Gus’ family even if I am a little late. Eric is my thoroughbred pedigree guru and I think this is probably the most fun he’s had writing for my blog yet!

So it all starts with a benign little bit of economic manipulation by a powerful politician trying to stack the deck in his favor, hoping to make a seven figure profit at the end of the deal.  It ends up backfiring in reasonably spectacular fashion, which of course prompts the politician to try the same trick a second time, making millions of dollars to line his pockets, and solidifying his status as a local Kentucky hero.

Now … it’s not quite as nefarious as it sounds above (actually – it’s not nefarious at all!), but how Gus came to be DOES have a lot to do with the former Governor of Kentucky, two former favorites for the Kentucky Derby, a Kentucky Oaks, a $900,000 yearling, and … Gus, a hopefully soon-to-be Novice level eventer living in relative anonymity (unless you count the fact that he’s now semi-known in the prestigious equestrian blogging community) in rural northwestern Georgia.

Brereton Jones with Eclipse Award for 3 year-old filly at 2009 Eclipse Awards at Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami FL 1.25.2009 Photo Credit: Horsephotos/NTRA

Gus was bred by Brerton Jones, owner of Airdrie Stud and a major player in the Kentucky breeding industry.  Airdrie has a long history of standing promising stallions that slightly underachieved, didn’t quite fit the pedigree mold to command a huge stud deal with the larger Kentucky farms, or simply tailed off due to injury or performance at the end of their career and dropped out of the public mindset.  In short – they seem to acquire a lot of once promising now odd ducks.  Those horses need a lot of support from a farm owner who has deep pockets, lot of high quality broodmares, and the willingness to breed those mares to his farm’s stallions, instead of to proven, established Kentucky sires.


One of those broodmares is a gray mare named El Fasto by El Prado.  She never made it to the track, but her pedigree has lots to like – El Prado earned a little bit over $200,000, is a son of one of the most successful stallions in history (Sadler’s Wells), and sired such North American standouts as Medaglia d’Oro (sire of Rachel Alexandra and Songbird) and Kitten’s Joy, currently the consensus best sire of turf horses in North America.

El Prado

El Fasto’s dam, Taegu, was a mediocre racehorse and El Fasto was her first foal.  Despite never making the racetrack, Taegu’s second two foals likely prompted Jones’ to hold on to El Fasto – Classic Elegance won multiple stakes as a 2yo and has herself produced a series of useful if not exceptional horses, and her next effort was First Degree who was raced by the same connections of Silver Charm to career earnings of $175,000.  Not bad.

El Fasto with her 2013 foal

El Fasto came home to Airdrie and visited a series of Airdrie stallions – Proud Citizen, Canadian Frontier, Indian Charlie … nothing special from her first three foals … so far, Jones’ strategy seems to be failing in spectacular fashion.  Swing and miss three times in baseball and they send you back to the dugout.  In horse racing, as long as you can fund it you’re allowed as many strikes as you want.  So despite the first three attempts blowing up in their face (or at least not yielding meaningful returns), Airdrie kept at it.  El Fasto went back to Proud Citizen for her 2008 cover, which proved a brilliant move – she produced Believe You Can, who would go on to win more than $1.25 million and take the Kentucky Oaks in what is (obviously) her signature victory.

Caption: l-r, Rosie, Mr. and Mrs. Brereton (Libby) Jones, Larry Jones Believe You Can with Rosie Napravnik wins the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I)Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders on the track at Churchill Downs near Louisville, Ky. on May 3, 2012.Oaks1 image611PHoto by Anne M. Eberhardt

When Believe You Can was just a few weeks old, and nobody knew that she was a superstar in the making, El Fasto visited Stevie Wonderboy – another Airdrie special, who had won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Eclipse Award as champion male in 2005, and was at one point over the winter of ’05-’06 the favorite for the Kentucky Derby.  He was retired after suffering an injury on the 2006 Kentucky Derby trail and was out of sight, out of mind for nearly 11 months before surfacing at Airdrie in 2006.  Stevie Wonderboy was a gorgeous horse, with obvious racetrack talent, by a stallion who at the time was talked about as a potential heir to his grandsire, A.P. Indy.  He received plenty of support from Airdrie.  He was … an epic disappointment as a sire and was sold to Chile in 2013, where he is today.  Welp.  So much for that.

Stevie Wonderboy

Gus’ grandsire, Stephen Got Even, suffered a similar if less extreme fate.  Retired to a little more pomp and circumstance to Lane’s End Farm, Stephen Got Even was a former 2nd choice in the 1999 Kentucky Derby (won by Charismatic, Editor’s Note: Only my favorite racehorse of all time… Love him), and at the time, was the most accomplished son of A.P. Indy to retire to stud having tacked on a win in the  G1 Donn Handicap at age 4.  At the time, Stephen Got Even looked like he was the best chance yet to carry the A.P. Indy sireline forward (this was well before Tapit & Bernardini).  And to be fair, he wasn’t terrible – he sired three millionaires, highlighted by Stevie Wonderboy, but ultimately didn’t fulfill his potential and was pensioned recently at age 19.  He now lives at Old Friends in Kentucky (along with, as of recently, Charismatic – his 1999 Derby nemesis, recently returned back from Japan).

Stephen Got Even

Stephen Got Even is by A.P. Indy – 1992 Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and one of the most prolific influences in American pedigrees since his own sire, Seattle Slew.  A.P. Indy best known these days as the sire of Tapit (who is, along with Unbridled’s Song, responsible for the explosion of talented grey runners over the last decade) and Bernardini (who won the Preakness in 2006 when Barbaro broke down, and would go on to sire such standouts as Stay Thirsty, Alpha, and Cavorting).

A.P. Indy

The family continues to produce, and Believe You Can was sent back to the same A.P. Indy sireline that Gus came from for her first foal, a Tapit colt that Jones wound up selling for $900,000.  I wish we had a portion of that $900,000 to help finance our home renovations, but alas – I have the gelded close relative to a $900,000 colt, not the ungelded yearling who is actually WORTH $900,000!

Tapit x Believe You Can

Meanwhile, we’ll keep bouncing around the foothills of the north Georgia mountains, amused but not really affected by the fact that Gus is one step removed from one of the most prolific characters in horse racing today.  Rather than worry about $900,000 yearlings, we’ll just worry about figuring out a way to get around a Novice course at Chatt Hills next year without Gus deciding that snakes live in ditches.  Maybe we’ll take a trip up to Kentucky and see if we can stop by and meet El Fasto, Believe You Can, and Stephen Got Even – Chile might be a little bit far to go to visit Stevie Wonderboy!