Well, not as much happened with the barn as we were hoping yesterday; but they’re up and at it early this morning with a projected finish date of Friday. So, I’ve decided a review is in order.
There were two main reasons I bought this girth: it came in brown and it was leather. There was a close third: it also did not break the bank. Then there was a close fourth: it had a ring in the middle. And rounding out the top five was that it had keepers above the buckles as well as below. It was one of the few that had all five of those criteria for me. I had not even realized once I started looking that there are hardly any brown monoflap girths with all five of my specifications. At least, not if you don’t want to spend $170+ for a new one.
So, because my horse is a special snowflake and hates grippy neoprene (literally HATES it; she crowhops the whole ride), I needed either leather or fleece or something in the smooth category. I figured to just get one girth, leather, use it all the time, we’re good. So, I bought this one.
This is really an innovative girth. It’s very sturdy on the outside, made of English bridle leather. Many other reviews I read complained the outside is not soft enough, but personally, I think it’s fine. After use, it’s still very sturdy, but it gets more pliable. The underside is not as soft as I was expecting for calfskin, but it’s smooth and seems fine. The stitching was all well-done, and every time I’ve cleaned it, it’s shined right up very quickly.
What this girth is supposed to do is help horses with forward girth grooves that don’t “line up” with the billets where a saddle wants to sit – behind the shoulder blades. The result you get from a straight girth is that the saddle will inevitably either be placed too far forward onto the withers/shoulders or the forward girth groove will “pull” a saddle forward. Both result in pinching the horse’s shoulder blades and impinging movement. This girth allows the middle part to sit in the forward girth groove, while the buckles are set a few inches back to allow the saddle to fit comfortably behind the shoulder and allow for greater freedom of movement of the shoulder. This girth really proved to be beneficial when I tried out a demo saddle that was just a size too small for Amber. It sat right in her girth groove and kept the saddle from inching forward onto her shoulders.
I love the two sets of keepers on each side. I just had this vision of the billets somehow moving and they’d end up pinching her skin badly. So, that’s why I wanted the keepers there. Plus it’s a cinch to tighten the girth while mounted (pun intended). The elastic feels sturdy but with plenty of snap, and I really like the clean look of it. The buckles are also roller buckles, which is a must in my opinion.
Amber did like this girth. She went well in it and it worked great for the too-small saddle. She was definitely more relaxed when I used it, but I think it’s because the saddle, although still too small, fit better than my mom’s saddle which is a medium-wide tree. But her back is not that long. It’s short so there’s very limited space on how far back her saddle can go. Once we got our new fitted saddle, I felt like the girth and the saddle ended up fighting each other.
The saddle wants to fit in that nice little pocket behind her shoulder, the pocket she was fitted for, and the girth wanted to push the saddle back. In the end, the girth sat too far forward, and while she didn’t develop any rubs, she might have if I’d used it longer than about 5 rides. So, while I like the girth, now that I have a saddle that fits her perfectly, the girth is no longer needed.
I would still rate it 3.5 stars. It’s innovative, well-made, and has relatively quality leather for the retail price of $129.95. And, if you have Prime, you can find the girth on Amazon and get free shipping. You can also get it with free shipping from Riding Warehouse. It has held up beautifully as I’ve used it, Amber has sweat buckets on it, and every time it cleans up well and looks new. All close up photos of the girth were just the other day, after approximately 3 months of continuous use and a good cleaning. So even though it didn’t work out for Amber, I think it will for many other horses – specifically with a very long shoulder and a forward girth groove.
If you would like to read another person’s perspective on the girth, AJ Dyer wrote a review that was published on Eventing Nation, and she had more horses to try it on than I did so she could really see how it worked. She writes a very thorough review about the TSF girths and how they worked for her horses.
Nothing much happened yesterday since it was a long day at work, so I’ll keep it short and sweet.
The guys with High Desert Barns finally arrived! Last night they pulled in two large trucks full of panels for our new barn. We went over the “plan” with them on the pad for a few minutes before they headed out. They’ve already started measuring this morning – bright and early at 6 am!
We are of course jumping up and down now that they’re here. Choco enjoyed surveying the action from her “perch” last night.
Afterwards I went to see Amber to give her a small lunge. She continues to improve I think – still a wee bit short when she lengthened to a huge trot but it was very apparent that she was feeling much more comfortable when she cantered. Her left lead was just a little more fluid, and she was a lot more willing to relax and lengthen herself to the right which was her problem direction before.
You’ll be with us soon, girls! Very soon!
And what a lesson it was! Part of me wished I had another one Sunday because I feel like Amber and I made so much progress Saturday morning. Instructor took videos of us, and while I didn’t take any pictures (and there was no one else out who could’ve), she hasn’t sent me the videos yet, so I’ll try to post them as soon as I have them. So, in the meantime, enjoy some older photos of Amber.
Saturday morning Amber was not excited to get into the trailer, but thankfully it was an uneventful drive out to Pahrump. She didn’t know what to do with the peacocks that would walk by and spread out their beautiful tail feathers, but she mostly just stood there and stared at them. And snorted. But thankfully not stupid.
I haven’t taken her anywhere in a while, and while she’s never been stupid, I’d been prepared for shenanigans because she’d had a week off without really getting out due to my schedule. But she warmed up okay – a little looky but definitely not fired up like she has been a few times. Once we started, Instructor actually had to shorten the walk poles for her because she kept chipping in strides. Part of that may have been because she’s not as comfortable moving that right front over, but I agreed with the instructor – she wasn’t thinking forward and rhythm. At one point Amber had a huge fumble over the offset walk grid, and that really seemed to be a wake up call for her.
Meanwhile, I was getting a few wake-up calls as well. She was challenging me to challenge my pony, to push her out, to keep my thumbs up, to not look down at my diagonal, to really focus on where I’m going and to hit my markers. Because she really highlighted some habits I’d gotten into. Not bad habits per say, but just habits from when I was reining that do not help me with with english at all. I was so lax on hitting my markers it was ridiculous. Half of the time I wasn’t even aiming anywhere even though I was “aiming”. At one point she said, “Did you actually focus on a point or were your eyes all over?” And I had to answer that yes my eyes were all over. Poor Amber. But she went and tried anyway.
I also found out some habits that were making a comeback from years prior. My hands may be light, but boy are my fingers fidgety when I’m in 2 point. I had a huge urge to grab mane and cozy my fingers up the reins to keep contact, but her goal for me was to put Amber in front of the grid, then let her figure out the footwork and that when I did my part, her part was to stay straight and rhythmic. It was a really good challenge for me. We can work on getting the right contact later, but for now, for this exercise, this is where we are. Also, my 2 point at an energetic trot is crap. I really need to get back in shape.
There’s a few things I’ve become complacent about that she really challenged me to stop. Like looking at my diagonal. When you don’t have someone challenging you and watching you, you forget you learned how or that you know how and that you’re really just being lazy. So I made it my goal that once Amber jumped into a trot to feel that shoulder moving. Sometimes I got it. Most of the time I didn’t. But it’s a rusty skill I need to polish.
It was really awesome after Amber had a flub in the walk grid to feel her really focusing and really using her shoulders and butt. I can’t wait to see the videos. It also really helped her trot to lengthen and for her to learn she could really use her body to push off the ground. It was an awesome feeling. She had a bit of a trip in the beginning, mostly felt like her knee almost gave out, but when she really started to use her body, she felt 100%. Not a lame step!
Instructor also challenged me to expect more from Amber. Before this new place she’d been fine, but we’d also had a purpose with many of our rides. I realized after Saturday’s lesson that we’d lost much of our purpose, and along with that we’d lost our work ethic. She had lost hers, and I had lost mine. I also realized after a few times she threw attitude that Instructor had me correct that I’d been complacent on that, too. And it was a nice kick in the pants to realize that if I hadn’t lost our purpose, if I hadn’t let us both become complacent, my spill on Sunday wouldn’t have happened.
By the end, I was extremely happy. And though Amber had some attitude, I think she was happy, too. We both had a purpose for that day. It wasn’t just let’s do whatever today. We had a mission, and we had to complete it as best as we could. At the end of the ride, I also realized she felt a lot more like the Amber I’d had a year ago. She was focused, she was really listening, and the coolest thing? She was actually beginning to hunt out the grids. It only happened maybe once or twice, but her ears locked onto a grid, and I felt her assessing it before I had to steer her to the next one. It was a really cool feeling, and one that I realized I severely missed.
This is the reason I ride horses – the learning, the bond, the partnership. And we haven’t been learning for a while. That’s what made these past five years with her so special, I think – we were doing tons of new things and learning together. We just…stopped that. This just really gave us such a great focus as well as a humbling adventure. I did make excuses for us sometimes, but Instructor kindly refuted me, and told me I had to expect more of the both of us. And she was completely right, but she did it with firm kindness, which is what I respond best to. So now, after a slight hiccup, we’ll be going back to learning together, and strengthening our partnership.
I’ll have two more long days including today, then I’ll have short days with plenty of time to think up exercises and a purpose for Amber and I while our barn is being built this week. But it really felt like we broke through a wall with this lesson. I can’t wait to practice and attend session 3.
Compared to the high of Saturday morning, the rest of the weekend was very uneventful. Saturday evening we watched some old shows and drank wine. Sunday we took some extra dirt the graders had pulled up to make a ramp up to the pad for the barn. The wind was gusting to around 40 mph, maybe even 50, and Vegas is really such a dustbowl that you even inhale and your nose and mouth are full of sand. Not very conducive to riding. But we got one part of the ramp done before the extra dirt was done and the winds got worse.
Amber didn’t seem to poop or eat as much yesterday. I’m not sure why. She’s always been an excellent drinker and hasn’t shown any previous signs of heat stress, even when many others were colicking. But I’m still worried, and it only seemed to start after her injection, so I’ll call the vet today and see what he says. It could be that she’s had two trailer rides in a week and it really stressed her out because I don’t usually haul her anywhere, but I’m not sure. So, a call it is.
Sunday evening my sister came over with her dachshund and we shopped for a bit then chatted while she finished homework.
More wine was involved as well as homemade pound cake, and overall it was definitely one of the best weekends I’ve had in a while.
I found this breastplate way back in perhaps September/October of 2016. Amber doesn’t have an issue with saddles slipping, but I wanted something that would help keep the saddle in place just in case we had those few long-shot fences. Plus, I just loved the way the whole “eventer set-up” looked, so yup that means I need a breastplate. Le sigh. Yeah, look at me – planning waaaaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of time.
As I was looking for breastplates I kept seeing the 5-points. They just seemed like a lot going on, especially since I didn’t really need much. But I really liked how they had an attachment long enough that could connect to the billets of the saddle. This was the reason I wasn’t overly fond of the traditional 3-point breastplate: those attached to the Ds of the saddle but with the potential to pull the saddle onto the withers. Plus, I’m not a fan of the whole sides being elastic and navy/white elastic at that. Which is odd considering I like to match so much, but I think that was probably a little too much matching for me… Weird, I know. So I tried to look for a mix of the two, and I really liked the look of bridge breastplates. After searching for a few days, I somehow just stumbled upon this one. It was the only one in a price point that I liked (and let’s be real, could justify buying since I didn’t need it), and it came in brown!
I bought mine for around $145 plus shipping. I was so nervous because at this time, I had never bought anything outside of the US. I had never even heard of this brand, so I scoured the internet for reviews about them and how everyone liked them. There were only a few reviews out there (and dopey me didn’t see if they were on FB) but all of the reviews painted them in a very good light. So I closed my eyes and pressed purchase.
On a side note, PS of Sweden accepts payment via Paypal. At the time I didn’t have a Paypal either, so I had to create an account just to grab this breastplate. And I’m so glad I did. While it was nerve-wracking at first, PS shipped the breastplate and I got it in two days. I was on air when I opened it. I don’t have any pictures of it when I first got it, but it still looks brand new after having it nearly a year.
So far it’s held up really well, even though I haven’t taken it to shows or anything. IMO how well it’s handling the ever-present dust over here is the real test; Vegas is just so dry and it sucks the life out of your leather. This breastplate though, is doing phenomenal. There is a spot on the bridge attachment of the breastplate that started to lose its stitching after around 3 months with maybe 12 uses, but I think that was my fault. I did clean it with glycerin soap and conditioned with a bit of neatsfoot which, from what I hear and have read, is what you’re not supposed to do to vegetable tanned leather. I didn’t quite read the directions…. Most of the time I read the directions but this time? Yeah…. But I’ve now been cleaning it with PS’s soap and conditioning it with Passier lederbalsam if I have to and it seems to be doing just fine. No other stitching has come loose and it still looks new, so again I think it was my fault.
I also love that the billet strap is nylon. It is very slim so it won’t interfere with your leg at all.
As you saw above, it does come with the running attachment. I currently do not know where mine is, so I borrowed this photo from PS’s website. But, if for whatever strange reason I’ll need to one day use the running attachment, this is my kind of attachment. The rings CLIP. That’s right. It’s a CLIP. This means no taking apart your reins to thread them through the running attachment. You just clip and unclip. I literally timed it. It takes about 6 seconds. You will need to use their rein stops since the clips are a bit big, but even those are snap on! So much easy on/off with this company; I love it.
They threw in an extra, a clip for me to attach to the girth strap, which was great. Again, easy on/off. Even the bridge attachment has a buckle so you don’t have to take off the cross ties and put it over your horse’s head. It fits Amber well, and I really just use it at this time to look pretty. I mean, why not? It makes me happy.
For me, this breastplate is perfect. It’s well made, slim, and as a bonus – it matches all my other chocolate things! No seriously. The hunter in me cringes if all the leather isn’t exactly the same shade or within 2-3 shades of each other. I don’t know why but it’s like nails on a chalkboard to my eyes. I know, another thing to add to the weird folder. But, regardless of that, this breastplate gets 5 stars from me.
Well, it’s officially summer here in Vegas. Not that it hasn’t been for the past two or three weeks, but now it’s consistently staying really really hot. And I mean you-don’t-know-you’re-sweating-because-it-evaporates-immediately hot. It’s seriously like sticking your whole body in an oven. Hopefully Vegas doesn’t do what happened last year: hit June and have 2 weeks of consistent 110+ degree weather. At night it still stayed over 100. Maaaaaaybe 99. So many horses colicked last year, including my mom’s. Cue 5 vet visits later and thankfully she was okay.
So when Amber didn’t have a single poop pile after her injection by 8 pm Monday evening, my mom and I officially began to worry. I went full on paranoid worried she might have an infection, is she colicking, does she have sand in her belly and I just don’t know about it even though she’s been on sand clear for practically her whole life?! You know, typical horse mom. So we gave her electrolytes and waited (torture).
My mom checked on her for me the next morning since I couldn’t take any time away from work, and I was relieved to see she had about 3 piles. Not much compared to the amount she usually poops, but I’ll take it. I gave her some sand clear with her bute Tuesday evening, and thankfully Wednesday morning there were definitely more piles. We surmise it has more to do with the heat than with her injection. Her leg remains cool and I can’t see any swelling as of yet, and she’s shown no signs of tripping which is great.
She’s never really had any gastro problems, thank goodness (and knock on wood), but since we have a lesson on Saturday I want to make sure she’s drinking and feeling okay since we’ll be gone a few hours with drive time. So after a super long work day yesterday, I stopped by one of our local tack shops (I always feel better once I step in those) and bought some more electrolytes.
I hand walked her last night to let her stretch her legs and see how she looks. Personally, I think she looks really good! She looked much more relaxed with a lot more swing in her step. She was still a bit short going to the right, but I blame that on the fact that she got really tense because the quail were fluttering in the bushes. For some reason, the fluttering of wings of birds that she can’t see is her nemesis. She hates that. I mean, did she get swooped by a falcon or crow or something when she was little…? But, once she relaxed enough I could see a few good strides; I don’t think she relaxed enough to really get the swing she had in the beginning. But she did look much more comfortable! She was playful and wanted to buck a bit, and this was her face when I told her she was supposed to be resting and just walking:
Other than that it’s been super quiet here – just really nothing going on. My mom and I are both desperately wishing the days to go by faster so we can get our barn up, and of course that makes the days longer. But today is Thursday which means Friday may be slow but the weekend will pass by before we know it and they’ll be here! Seriously can’t wait.
This week is really killing me in terms of no horse time. My work is phenomenal about really trying to give me good hours so I can have pony time as much as possible (which I so appreciate), but this week people had a few family things so I’m the only one and have to hold down the fort. Unfortunately, it’s actually good because it forces me to walk a little, ice a lot and my hip’s been feeling much better so I should be pretty good to go for Saturday.
And I’m actually excited for our “lesson” on Saturday. I’ve done similar stuff before, but way long ago – like 12 years, and Amber hasn’t ever done this type of thing so it’s going to be new for both of us. I need to get back into the swing of English things, and she needs to learn some new stuff so I’m excited for it. Plus, I need to get my butt in gear because poor girl shouldn’t have to deal with me flopping around up there when we start doing harder things like jumping. I’ll also try to take lots of pictures of Saturday!
Ah, the Smartpak Piper breeches. I have heard that people either love them or hate them. I’m going to be one of those rare sort-of-in-between people. They’re not my absolute love, but they’re pretty damn close. In all actuality, I don’t have a pair of breeches that I absolutely love-and-must-have, but these are up there.
The biggest thing I love about these breeches are the colors. I absolutely love that they come in a huge variety of super fun colors. My second favorite thing about Pipers are the pockets.
They have 4 pockets: two in front and two in the back. What I also like best about these pockets is that they’re contoured to the Euro seat stitching so you don’t have to worry about your phone hitting the saddle and falling out of your pockets. And since the pockets are contoured, the stitching won’t rub on your saddle, either.
I also love that these breeches have sock bottoms. No Velcro for the win. I have some breeches that have the Velcro, and let’s just say I’ve been enlightened to the loveliness that is a contoured sock bottom. It fits so much better underneath my half chaps than breeches with a Velcro bottom.
I bought my first pair, the charcoal and bright blue, in November 2016. So far they’ve held up well, though I haven’t worn that pair as much as I thought I would. I’m not much of a grey person. Plus, they’re a size 30, and the Pipers are a little more comfortable in a size 32 for me.
The dark breeches are all classic knee-patch, but the taupe and turquoise pair has the silicone knee patch. I’ve ridden in them once so far, and I like them. I got them in a 32, but I think for the silicone I could’ve sized down to a 30. They’re just a bit big.
They’re just the right length as well. They fit my calves well. I really like the fabric – more than I thought I would. It’s a mid-weight breech, great for fall and spring and winter – at least winter here in Vegas since it rarely gets below 40. Since the fabric is a mid-weight and the breeches fit a little tight around the thighs, it also hides that unpleasant thigh cheese. Or cellulite. Or flaws. Whichever you want to call it. For me, these hide the dent in my leg from when I got cow-kicked by a coming two-year-old. Unfortunately, I’ve found the navy doesn’t work for summers here in Vegas. It just gets so hot that the dark sock bottoms absorb all that heat and create friction on my lower legs – even if I take off my half chaps. Stings a bit. So I won’t be wearing the darker colors in the heat of the summer, but I don’t usually wear dark breeches in the summer anyway, so nbd.
The only thing that doesn’t make these a must-have-all-the-time for me is the fit. They fit well if not a little tight in the thigh, and though they give ample room if you have a big butt too, the back of the breeches stick out. While I don’t like that they do this, it’s nothing new for me. Because I’m hourglass shaped with a butt and thighs and then a small waist, I have a really hard time with pants in general. The only brand of jeans that fit me like a glove are Wranglers and even then it’s a very specific cut of pant. So I’m really used to things not fitting well. But because Pipers don’t sit flush with your skin around the waist, you do need to wear a belt and they will slip a bit if you’re curvy like me.
Despite the not-perfect fit of these breeches, I still think they’re a very flattering look.
As you can see, I’m not a skinny-mini (and it makes me laugh because Amber and I look the same in the pic above; we’ve got some toning to do!) but I still like the way they look on me. I do think these breeches would fit better on someone who is built a little less curvy and a little more straight. But I like them. I like that they’re not $100, and I really love those back pockets. I mean a lot.
I bought the navy and dove pair the beginning of March, and they’ve pretty much been my staple pair for the majority of the past 3 months. A bit of stitching is coming out of the kneepatch; it’s really disappointing because I was hoping they wouldn’t do that until much later. Reviews have said some of the stitching comes out after only a little while, so while I’m disappointed, I’m not too surprised. I was aptly warned. Perhaps this would be a bit different if it were a pair with silicone knee patches? I’m not sure, but I really just knot up the extra stitching and go about my way.
Honestly, I think it’s what you like and are willing to put up with. For a lower price point, super fun colors, back pockets, wide belt loops, sock bottoms and euro seat – I can totally deal with a few stitches coming out and a bit of pilling (though none of mine have started pilling yet). They also have a little more “grip” than some of the more expensive breeches – at least for me. So while they may not be the best breech on the market, and perhaps I shouldn’t have to “settle” for a breech that doesn’t hold it’s stitching, they make me happy when I put them on. So, 4 stars for me.
She was a champ for the trailer haul and walked around calmly until the vet saw us. He did various flex testing and a bit of lunging, and he confirmed that there really wasn’t anything obvious that he could see externally. We all laughed when I mentioned I might be that overprotective horse mother and nothing really is wrong. She had maybe one teensy ouchie step when he flexed her right hind, but took her in for some x-rays. She didn’t even need any happy juice to take the x-rays. Doc and I agreed on x-raying her knee – just in case. And it proved to be the problem child.
There was a bit of degeneration it seemed in her knee; a small area that was potentially losing cartilage. It would explain her tripping as well as her periodic, partial ouchie-ness the past few months. And it’s funky to look at the x-ray and know she didn’t even flex badly when he tested her knee. Again, maybe a slight strange step, but nothing that was screaming at us, you know?
I agreed that an injection would probably be the best thing at the moment. I had come fully prepared that a hock or knee might need an injection. She did smash that knee pretty good, and she hasn’t gotten anything except Adequan (and for the past 2 years it’s been every few months). So, I was fully prepared for her to potentially need something. It just makes a little more sense that it’s her knee. Thankfully, her hock looked just fine.
She trailered back just fine – even stuck her nose through the window bars like she usually does. Despite just getting the injection she looked happy and very willing to put that leg first. Sometimes I’ve noticed she’d rather step over a pole or something with her left front first. So fingers crossed that it helps!
Doc also gave us the green light for Saturday. Said the cavaletti would be a really good test to see if it’s starting to help her. And I completely agree. I know it may not fully kick in for another week or so, but I’m perfectly okay with that. I’ve got some hefty work days so that’ll give it a great chance to really work into her leg and do its thang.
I’m relieved, too – many of the horses that I’ve seen injected were much happier and more relaxed after they’d been injected. I’m hoping it’ll last her a long while; I’ll probably put her on Adequan again or try Legend. I have to do a bit of research first.
What about you guys? Have any of you tried both Adequan and Legend? Which one do you like better? And why?
Well, over the weekend we got some bad news: the barn builders won’t be down until the 13th. Boo. Both me and my mom have grumped to the fullest. It was so much easier to wait when I knew they’d be there in just a few days, but sadly not so. Honestly, it was going to be the only thing that got me through the work week because I’ve got the long shift this week. At least I have today off….? Either way, I won’t have much horse time in the coming days so I’ll probably be catching up on reviews.
On Friday I called the vet and made an appointment for this morning. Something just still didn’t seem quite right about her. And if it turns out I was an overprotective mother and they can’t find anything wrong with her, then that’s fine. At least I’ll know what it isn’t. Sometimes that’s as much peace of mind as knowing what it is.
After another massage really working on the knots in her back and two days off with just walking, I wanted to give her at least a good 15-20 minute walk ride on Saturday to see if she was still off. Well, I pull her out, and promptly freeze because of THIS:
Just two random pockets of swelling. Oh, yippee. They felt hard, but thankfully not tender. I scratched her a bit and she curled her lip like any other time, so I wasn’t sure if they were itchy or what. One of my other friends thought it may be a spider bite, poor girl. Yay for already making the vet appointment I suppose, but still. Just give me a heart attack, Amber. But regardless, I thought our walk/jog ride would still probably help take the swelling down a bit (it did), so I tried out the ECP pad and composite stirrups I’d received from RW.
As much as I love my blue composite stirrups, I actually like the look of the all black. And I thought the pad looked really sleek and nice under the saddle. I removed the top straps as I have with all my other saddle pads since the saddle is a monoflap, but I think it looks great. It’s a little different to get used to, but I still really like it. Plus, Amber really seemed to like all three foam inserts and felt a lot more comfortable even though she was still a little short.
As for the stirrups, once I rode in them I could feel how secure my feet were. I suppose it shouldn’t have been a surprise because I also ride western and the stirrups are wider, but alas the lightbulb did not even flicker until I’d walked and jogged a bit with these stirrups. My feet still hurt by the end but I also need new paddock boots. The ones I have are probably 5 years old now? Maybe even older. But I felt so much more secure in those. I always like it when impulse purchases really work out. I’ll officially review both products once I’ve had them for longer.
Sunday I popped out to hand walk her and give her another massage. I should’ve stuck to hand walking. But I didn’t. I decided a bareback hack would be great. The rabbits rustling in the brush and leaves around the arena were especially monstrous today, so when another horse came near her, Amber noped the hell out of there. She hopped sideways quickly and I went the other way. At least she didn’t run away. She walked up to me after as if to say “I’m sooooo sorry, mom.” I hopped back on (after the appropriate amount of time on the ground) and asked the person to walk up behind her again. They did, major rustling occurred again, and she got super tense but her feet just about grew roots and she stopped. I hugged her and hopped off then. Not sure what happened that she was nice and relaxed in the beginning and then suddenly did weird stuff. Amber logic, maybe? She was good afterwards; kept putting her nose into my stomach as if to tell me she was sorry. She even willingly walked slowly as I gimped her back to her stall.
Afterwards, the fam and I watched Rogue One since we haven’t actually seen it yet, and it was a perfect opportunity to ice away. Pretty much that was the rest of my Sunday: limp, ice, limp, ice.
So today I’ll limp my way over to the vet. Well, at least the long shift at work will give me ample rest for the remainder of the week. The only issue with that is hopefully my hip is feeling okay enough to go to my private lesson Saturday. And even if it isn’t, I’ll still go and just be careful. I really hope this isn’t going to be a recurring theme when we start eventing….
Also everyone, if you haven’t liked Lund Saddlery on FB, you need to. Every month they have a giveaway. They have 3-point, 4-point and 5-point breastplates, snaffle, flash and figure 8 bridles, and laced, rubber and web grip reins. Every month, one of these items is given away. You just have to enter the draw list here and input your information. This month they’re giving away their 3 point breastplate AND the winner’s choice of Lund’s monocrown H/J bridles. I’d say that’s a pretty fantastic deal. Now, I usually never win anything. That’s just how it is for me. But I can try, right? Either way, don’t pass up a chance for more STUFF.
I’ve had the bridle approximately three weeks now, and thought it was time for a review. Even though it hasn’t been long enough yet to be confident in it’s durability, I have high expectations since I’ve had their breastplate for 8 months and it still looks new.
PS of Sweden has honestly become my new favorite company. Not only are their leather products exquisitely made, but their customer service is absolutely top notch. Plus, they ship to the US in two days. TWO DAYS. Always. That’s faster than many American companies that ship just within the nation.
After many back and forth emails with Liza, one of their customer service reps that had endless patience with my questions and apprehension for the bridle to fit just right, I bought the bridle with a fun weekend offer – 2 pairs of polos with the purchase of a bridle or browband. I also added to the purchase their Golden Delight browband, a throatlatch and their organic leather soap.
They were very kind and threw in two extras that you see there – a noseband shining sponge and an embroidered towel. This was even AFTER I had messed up my order and forgotten to add the throatlatch! 110% customer service right there.
This is definitely the nicest packaged bridle I’ve ever received. You can see that they bubble wrapped the crown piece as well as the noseband even though it was already in a lovely bridle bag. I had a special order – there’s also an added pullback strap near the throatlatch. You know, because my horse has to be special. After Liza had emailed me their measurement system, it turned out that Amber is full-size for the head – crown piece and browband. However, she’s got the cob head in terms of length. And while her nose measured full, I was apprehensive about the width of the full-size noseband on her. Liza agreed after I’d sent her a picture of Amber’s face, and suggested the cob noseband but with an extra pullback strap in full to see which one I liked. Liza was super helpful.
Out of bag, the bridle was a dream. You can see the quality of the leather even from the pictures, and it is definitely the best leather I’ve felt in a long time. The padding on the crown and noseband is nice and squishy for those princess horses. I am officially hooked. The noseband has a nice, contoured design, which I think helps it to look good on nearly any face type. Even though I won’t use the flash, I LOVE how the piece goes in between the noseband leather and the padding so it can be used with or without the flash. No annoying tab ftw. The flash has a very smooth metal stud that doesn’t stick up at all once the flash tab hooks back on itself, so it remains a very clean, polished look.
You can see here the difference in the pullback straps. At the time this picture was taken, I’d switched things around. The large pad belongs to the full pullback strap and small one to the cob. But in trying the bridle on Amber, the cob pad fit her better and left a sleeker profile, so I stuck the full strap on the cob pad. But you can see both straps have roller buckles and are beautiful quality with nary a stitch out of place.
The elastic “cradle” in the photo above is one of the features I was really eager to try. It helps to suspend the bit in the mouth so the weight of the bit isn’t pulling on the poll. I don’t think the cradle is dressage legal, but it’s a super cool feature. So far as I can tell, Amber has been even softer with the bit on this cradle. But, I’ll probably take it out when I show just in case someone objects.
I’ve cleaned the bridle about 3 or 4 times (I think I’m a little overprotective with keeping it clean) and applied Passier lederbalsam once. It has since gotten even softer, and I actually don’t leave it in the tack room. I take it home with me to keep in the climate control. I know. Overprotective.
The Golden Delight browband I bought as well is gorgeous. I can’t wait to use it. But since I am also overprotective about that, I haven’t used it but once, so I will be reviewing it when I’ve had an excuse to use it and show in it.
Honestly, I’ve tried to think of something that I don’t like, and I can’t. It is a beautifully crafted, innovative bridle, even down to the u-shape of the browband. It required virtually no break-in time, and it feels like sturdy, well-tanned leather. I’m already wondering if somewhere in the future I can need a new one. I just might have an addiction…..
But who wouldn’t?
Thankfully, yesterday was a normal work day, so after I got off I headed straight to the barn. My plan was to go a little easy. I think in my enthusiasm the past few days I got a little…intense. I ride pretty quietly most of the time, but when I start planning and prepping for things I can be quite competitive, so many times I need to remind myself to chill.
Plus, since she seemed to be feeling better after the massage the previous night, I wanted to let her sore muscles stretch and regroup. So just trot pole work so we’re both not bored as hell trotting in circles.
And that did not end up happening. The wind suddenly picked up from out of nowhere, and if there’s one thing I hate more than the cold, it’s wind. Plus where we are the arena and round pen are pretty much completely surrounded by thick, overgrown pine trees. The horses hate not being able to see what’s going on, and I don’t blame them. So, all we did was lunge. Yay.
But I also realized that something is still bothering her. If you guys look closely you can spot that her right hind is short compared to the reach of her left hind. It’s not much, and she’s not lame or off just…short. So, I’m going to try to get a vet appointment for her soon. I don’t know if the vets here have areas to test lameness (because thankfully I haven’t needed a vet besides teeth floating in the 2 years I’ve been back) – perhaps I was just super spoiled by the vets and their pristine clinics in Texas. If not, I’ll probably wait until our property is done so they can get a really good look at her movement on a flat arena. I’d rather not wait that long, especially if she needs an injection, but what can you do sometimes? I’m hoping it’s just some super sore muscles, or perhaps a pulled hamstring, but it could very well be her hock. Thinking back on our rides, when asked to stop she does kick her hip to the left to avoid loading that right hind.
I can’t wait to get her to our place so she can have softer arena footing and a much softer stall. She loves to lay down but somehow all the shavings I put in her stall disappear within days. Now that we’re so close to moving, I really don’t want to put more in there.
I’m still marveling over the impromptu lead change we had on Monday. Thankfully I had witnesses (of both her miraculous lead change and the fact that she managed to shake her new bridle off TWICE). I mean, that was seriously one of the most butter smooth changes I’ve ever felt. Lead changes have never been a strong suit of mine. I have a small twist to my pelvis that makes cantering naturally easier on one side but much harder on the other. So try moving your hips the other way when it’s already twisted. I probably just end up straight. I digress.
I always knew she had those changes in her, I just have serious doubts about whether or not I can ever teach her to do it on cue because I haven’t ever taught one to lead change. They all knew how by the time I was tasked to work on them. It was a total fluke the other day because I wasn’t asking for it and it just…happened. And I KNOW if I try to start trying to play with it she will have no clue. And I really don’t blame her. So once we get to a flat arena I have some exercises I’ve mixed from various trainers to see how they go with her.
After that I rushed home to see my sister who brought over the most adorable pitbull puppies. My sister’s boyfriend’s pit is gorgeous and sweet as could be, and his first litter is now 5 weeks old! All of the pups are blue and adorable.
Be prepared for an overload of puppy pictures, because who doesn’t love puppies?! The people buying Chyna White (pictured above) are planning on showing her! I can definitely see that. Her sis doesn’t have a name yet, so she was called Stripey and Pudgy. Guess which name won out? Yup. We called her Pudgy the whole time.
When 5 week old pitbull puppies are as big as a Dachshund….
Now, of course, the best for last. After they had a blast exploring and playing, they promptly passed out. Pudgy was out like a light.
Aren’t they adorable?! Total cuteness overload. Two litter mates – a male and a female – are still for sale! The puppies are papered UKC Purple Ribbon Pits. Apparently that’s about the best of the best for the kennel club. I am sadly unfamiliar with all that….stuff. But look at that sweetness!
Well, while my Memorial Day sale purchase from RW should be arriving today and I can’t wait, that’s not nearly as entertaining as puppies. What did you guys buy with Memorial Day sales?
The long weekend was 2 steps forward and one back. I shouldn’t be surprised that this horse can get hot – I’ve often told people that when riled she can be hot. And not riled in a bad way. She wants to please so badly and she gets into this mindset of “we doing work and work is lots of cantering so let’s just GO” from when we were training reining a bit ago, that she jogs her super cute jog and is just WAITING for me to ask for the canter – canter now? how about now? okay, now?!
It’s really not a bad thing. I keep trying to tell myself that. The reining me is like NO and the trying-to-rearrange-my-brain-to-beginner-eventer me keeps trying to say “at least she’s really forward for xc and stadium…?”
And of course our one step back was my fault. I wasn’t really paying attention and poor girl was sore backed and really wanted to reining slow lope to stretch her back and I wanted her to collect up for bursts of let’s-try-to-get-used-to-contact. I try really hard to pay attention to her but it’s difficult to tell if she’s uncomfortable or if she’s in “hot” mode because I’m starting to go back to a “training” regimen. She does the same thing for both – she goes faster. I just need to listen better.
But, over the weekend I’ve also been wondering if I need to get anything injected. She’s never had an injection her whole life – not for her knee or her hocks or anything. She’s also been tripping these past few months, mainly on that right front, and she’s just been pretty body sore on a relatively consistent basis even with massages. I’ll get all her aches out for a day or two and then she’s back to being sore.
Especially if I’m getting into a demanding sport like eventing, even if it’s just at the intro level, I want her to be happy and sound. She could be body sore because of her hocks and her knees and potentially sore SI ligaments. Plus, considering her injury history and the fact that most rides are “work”, she’s relatively fit (albeit fat and heavily muscled). Enough to walk herself out after a good 45 minute ride in 5 minutes. So the strain of that could be getting to her joints.
Since the arena is slanted, we’re technically doing marginal hill-work every day. I think that’s really put on the pounds of muscle that I hope she loses after a few months. Plus, some of her hay isn’t the best looking or most nutritious – I think it’s similar to us eating popcorn. So we’ll try to lower her weight first to see if that helps (I will get plenty of stink eyes from her when she goes on her diet). I kind of want to try one thing at a time so I know what actually works instead of changing five things and not knowing which one helped.
Yesterday, the dirt for our arena came in, and now we’re just waiting for our grader to be available so he can spread the dirt and we can do a test ride. Can’t wait!
So after the last load of dirt was dropped off I went out to see the mare and give her a good full body massage. Of course, belly scratches were a MUST. I’ve seriously never met another horse that loves belly scratches as much as Amber does. Such a weirdo. Walked her a bit and it looked like she was feeling much better.
On helping Amber feel better, what do you guys suggest? What has worked for you in the past?
So, I mentioned that I’m living with my folks and we’re currently building a barn and an arena. And it’s finally happening! It’s been about 7 months in the works, getting all the right permits since we’re in Clark County and they require certain things if a building is going to be X big and whatnot. I won’t go through all the gory details, because honestly, it’s really boring.
After much research, we went with High Desert Barns out of Reno. We don’t need anything super fancy, and because it gets so God-awful hot in the summer we needed an airy barn but with the ability to mostly close them in when we get hurricane-equivalent gusts. So High Desert was a perfect solution. They’ll hopefully be erecting the barn June 6th, so it’s coming very, very soon. One week to be exact.
Of course before that, we had to get the grader out to make the pad for the barn, the base for the arena, and then get it all inspected and approved by our grade planner. The grader finished just before the long weekend.
So now, the place looks completely different.
This is where the arena will be. It looks huge with all the brush cleared away. No more homes for the bunnies and chipmunks, unfortunately, but they haven’t lived in that area for a while so it’s okay. No home wrecking happening. The property goes to that blue conex box, but the arena will not be that far back. I wish, but no. Which is perfectly okay. It’s pretty bare out there so lots of areas to do trot sets and dressage (somehow) around all the sagebrush. That will be…interesting to say the least.
The barn will be in back of the house so we can stare obsessively and stalk the horses from the air conditioning because my mom’s horse has a bit of trouble in the heat and mine likes to destroy things. Yay.
It’s definitely been different to get used to. There’s just….nothing now. It’s so….flat. However, I’m glad the majority of the rocks are gone. Just no. I’m so done with rocks after slipping and sliding on them at the place we currently board.
Due to the original slope of the land the front of the pad had to be built up. If it floods the horses will be drier than the house. Not like it’ll flood. At least not in this area. Flooding is usually relegated to north and east Vegas. But hey, the horses are obviously more important, right?
Only one more week until the barn is up!
Okay, so finally, my tack haul from Rolex. Perhaps it may not seem like much, but it turns out to be a a fair amount since I’m omitting what I bought at the Rolex booth. Not for any reason. I just got a few shirts, two hats, a bag and a pair of socks, so it’s really not that exciting.
Most of the items I bought on Friday. Since I hadn’t made it very far in going to the shops on Thursday, I had to battle with the crowds Friday and make sure I checked everything. I hit some gold at the Smartpak booth – because you know, I don’t buy enough from Smartpak. I got a pair of breeches I’d been eyeing, a leather halter I had looked up many times, and a fleece dressage girth.
The kneepatch Pipers I really like only had grey and turquoise. Since I’m not really a grey person – warm, earth tones are more to my liking – I had my eye on the silicone kneepatch Piper breeches that came in taupe and turquoise.
I had quite a few turquoise Piper shirts, so of course, me being matchy matchy obsessed, I had to get a pair of Pipers that matched. I’ve only worn them once, but so far so good! Like all the Pipers they’ve worn well and come out of the wash just fine. However, I could have sized down in these. Usually the others aren’t so big in the waist, and these are, so at least for the silicone knee patch I could’ve sized down.
The leather halter I’d constantly clicked on on the website caught my eye, because this time I could actually FEEL the leather. Certain brands I don’t need to feel the leather to know it’s going to be top notch quality (ahem, PS of Sweden). But, it was a very affordable leather, padded halter, so I wanted to be sure I knew the feel of the leather before I bought it.
Sunday I made my way over to the Clever with Leather booth to get those plates on the halter – they had some brown leather halters with blue padding, and were better quality, but I liked the blue on this halter a little better, along with the price. But you do get what you pay for, so we’ll see how this halter holds up. I’m waiting for our place to be done before I use it.
The fleece girth so far has worked great. Amber has sweat in it a lot, but I threw it in the washer, line dry and it was good to go again. I’ll need to get another one, a 28 this time since what I bought was a 30. It hasn’t stretched; she’s just going to lose weight and she’s already losing a bit so I’ll need a smaller girth.
Amber seems to like it a lot, and it’s super easy upkeep for me. Yay on both ends. I just wish it came in brown…..
Sunday I popped into a few more stores, found a jacket I sort of liked, but I just couldn’t get sold on it. I’ve had a lot of show coat issues because I’m usually in between sizes and all of them feel extremely restrictive in the upper arm. Plus, I love the classic, navy windowpane look – my old hunter coming out – and I was passing one booth when this coat just snagged my eye.
I loved absolutely everything about it; especially that the windowpane/plaid was such a contrasting light blue. Amber’s colors/barn colors right there – navy and light blue. This was probably the first windowpane that I really really liked. Though my mom wanted to buy me a jacket as a birthday present, we hadn’t found any we could agree on. She knows tons about fabrics, and I know what I want it to look like.
It’s by a brand called Equine Athletics, and I was ecstatic to find that upon trying it on, it was STRETCHY. I have not been familiar with English apparel and tack since I was about 13, so while many things have improved, I am completely unaware of them right now. I figured they had to have coats with stretch, and ta-da! Here was this one. I kept looking at the price tag and hoping that the sale price wasn’t indicative that the fabric was of a much lower quality. But since it was the last day of Rolex, it was on a “must-go” sale of $89.95. It retails for $185 from this site. I’ve looked at other sites and while they say they’re cheaper I’m pretty sure those are the kids’ show coats. Either way, I think it was a steal. It may not be the solid black or navy of a dressage/jumper coat, but I really love it. Maybe in the future I’ll nab a “real” jumper coat.
Next, I of course had to get gloves to match. I happened upon these navy Roeckl gloves at the Bit of Britain booth. I wanted to buy so many other things from there, too, but settled for the gloves.
I’m really not a gloves fan. I wear them in the summer because otherwise my hands get way too tan, but those gloves are fingerless. I feel like gloves inhibit my “feel” in my fingers. It could absolutely be my imagination.
One of the things I bought at the RK3DE booth that I will highlight are these socks from Jox Sox.
I really really like these. I usually buy the thick socks to help absorb sweat, but these are just like my Ovation Aqua X breeches. They really let your feet breathe, and I can get really dry, cracked feet in the summer, so these allow my feet to breathe and wick away sweat so they don’t dry out as much. Also, as you can tell, they are very slim fitting. They came about a half inch over the bottom of the Ovations, and are not bulky at all. They fit very nicely under my half chaps. These are the closest I can find that are the same brand and the most similar to the ones with the RK3DE logo on them.
That’s it! Not too much stuff for the pony, but it was a good tack haul nonetheless.
Well, not much has been going on here in Vegas land. But, now that the week is almost up, I’ve got a few things to post about. On Sunday, I drove to Pahrump to audit a cavaletti clinic. I had signed up to take Amber to the third one, but it’s a three part clinic so going to the first two was mandatory if you wanted to be in the third. So, I audited the first session, and will be hauling Amber for a private lesson of sessions 1 and 2 before we join a group for 3.
There were a lot of grids up, and it got me excited and happy because I don’t have anything like this right now. I plan on investing in poles in the coming months so we can really get familiar with footwork before we start hopping over fences. So this had me excited.
Most of them were walk grids with a few trot ones. The lesson was pretty basic – let go of the reins, let your horse look down, let your horse find his own footwork and be responsible for it. In and amongst that were a few other things like arm position, halting and preparation for turns. Again, a pretty basic clinic, but the people there really benefited from it. It was great to see them all improving, and by the end, they were all excited to call out their own grid pattern.
Either way, it was a good day of riding, and I am really looking forward to my private lesson as well as the third clinic. And sorry for the inadequate media. Many times I like to pay attention and be off my phone, so I don’t take pictures. I promise, though to take a lot more pictures the next two times.
But if anyone is interested, you can find them on FB here. Session 2 is June 4 and session 3 is June 25.
I’ve been unable to ride for about a week because Amber was sore. Her right front shoe seemed to be a bit off, so as her foot was growing she couldn’t break over well and was tripping pretty badly. The farrier was out, trimmed her up nicely and set that shoe a teensy bit further back, and the change was immediate. She was her old self – bucking and playing and feeling much better than she had. Then between wind and work I got about a day of riding, so hopefully we’ll get tons of riding done this 3 day weekend.
On a fun note, it’s Memorial Day Weekend! That means sales! And Riding Warehouse is having a big one – 20% off site wide. That’s right! English, Western, Endurance, apparel, boots – you name it, RW has it. Like these gorgeous Ovation Aqua X breeches that are just the perfect wicking material for the hot summers we get.
The sale also includes great things such as Ariat Sunstopper shirts and $40 Amigo Fly boots that will be great for any budget with that 20% off sale. They also have an assortment of very colorful helmets if anyone is in the market: like these fun $45 Troxel helmets.
Unfortunately, I myself couldn’t resist…. Got one thing I’m eager to try. So far I have loved my colorful, super light composite stirrups, but the balls of my feet have been aching again recently so I’m going to try these composite wider based ones. Super affordable with that 20% off.
And this other piece, an ECP XC pad with insertable foam panels I did not need whatsoever yet. For like, a year. Le sigh. I should really put this money towards…oh, I dunno…the protective vest I don’t even have yet?!
Either way, make use of a great sale! RW also allows returns up to a year! Happy shopping!
I got there about halfway through the jog up, and paused to watch Clark Montgomery lunging Loughen Glen in one of the arenas. It was really cool to watch them. Since I had never seen a jog up before, it was great to see all the outfits and how beautiful the horses looked. Everyone laughed at Maxime’s horse. He was trotting away and nearly pulling Maxime along like “Let’s get on with it!” Then Boyd Martin appeared very close to where I was standing and was playing with what I believe was his son. A girl came over and met him, and once she left I heard one of the ladies talking to him say that he’d probably made her whole trip. And he probably had. And I just kept my head down, not looking at him and trying to be invisible.
After that was done, I headed down to a booth that I’d seen that did engraved plates. I had asked them before and they did plates for halters other than their own – which was really convenient. While you could tell their halters had better quality leather than the one I bought (more on my haul later), they were of course more expensive. At the moment I couldn’t pay that much for a halter after all the other things I’d bought, so I stuck with getting plates.
The girls and I went to do the horseback tour of the park, but because of all the cars coming in for stadium and just how busy it was, they were cancelling the rides. So we walked around and chatted for a bit, went in to the official RK3DE booth and bought (more) stuff.
We proceeded to the stadium, got lunch and mimosas (of course) and got hit by a very sudden but quick rain shower. It cooled things off, thankfully, and we headed to our seats to watch stadium start. I really liked the opening ceremonies, and I’m really not one for ceremonies. I loved that they’d gotten pony club girls as the flag bearers. It was so fun to see them and I’m sure they were thrilled and proud to be there.
The first one out was from Australia. None of the riders accompanied her, but I think perhaps it was because they were going at the start? I can’t quite remember.
The next one was for Canada, and the Canadian riders followed her. I was really glad to see 3 riders from Canada here this year.
Next came the French flag and Maxime Livio. I’m pretty sure he got some of the largest applause out of everyone that walked out.
Next out was Zara Tindall for Great Britian. She got some loud applause as well, and it was really great to be able to see her (and other riders, of course) up close.
After that was none other than Michael Jung from Germany. I’m pretty sure he got the loudest applause out of everyone, and why not? He was the overnight leader for cross country, and wouldn’t it be great if he could win Rolex a third time on the SAME horse?
Ireland came after that, and the guys were a little far away to take a great picture, but it was funny since they both started goofing around passing the stands.
Next was the Mexican flag for Daniela Moguel. She didn’t accompany the rider either, but it was really good to see so many other countries competing here.
The New Zealanders came after that, waving and smiling and looking like they were having a great time.
And last but certainly not least, came the American contingent. So many people were cheering and waving; it was awesome to see so much excitement for everyone.
Once that was done, Dan from Double Dan Horsemanship came out and did a routine – all bridleless and bareback with even a mini thrown in there! Unfortunately, no pictures of that, but I wanted to watch it more than take snapshots. One of the horses brought out really enjoyed seeing the sights and crowds and jumps and galloped around until they finally decided to join the action. I noticed it was the only mare in the lineup, and I snorted and laughed. She was like OMG LOOK AT EVERYTHING I MUST GO AND SEE and then when they went to subtly catch her, she looked like Fine, fine, I’m ready; I’ll join. And that’s one of the reasons why mares are my favorites. I just love their personalities. Most of them, any way.
Next came the retirement ceremony for Ballynoe Castle. He looked great, full of himself, and eager to go out there and jump. It was great to see so many people surrounding him. Plus, I think he had a great time looking at his reflection in that beautiful silver plate.
After that, stadium was underway! There were no clears for a while, but most of the horses looked eager and ready to go tackle the course.
Then things really started heating up when we got to the top of the leaderboard. Zara Tindell 3rd, Maxime Livio 2nd, and Michael Jung 1st. Michael could afford 1 but not 2 poles. Maxime couldn’t afford a pole to stay ahead of Zara. Clear round for Zara and High Kingdom and everyone cheered.
She put the pressure on for Maxime, but he and Qalao de Mers answered it with a clear round of their own.
Rocana can have the occasional pole, so the tension in the ring was palpable. We were all (I’m sure) hoping Michi would be able to win it again and make history. And he proved he could! One pole down but it was enough to clinch the win!
A standing ovation greeted him after his lap around the arena, and I packed up my stuff and headed out to grab my newly plated halter. Like I said, I’m not one for ceremonies. It’s on my list of things I can live without. But my halter looked gorgeous, and while we hoped a tour may still be on for the park, it was a no go. So the girls and I made plans to meet up for dinner.
We picked a local restaurant, and it was definitely good good food. And the coconut cream pie afterwards hit the spot. Come Monday it was time to leave, and I suddenly realized it had all passed much too quickly. Oh well. It left me pumped to start doing things with Amber, that’s for sure.
My legs were on fire when I stepped out of bed. Not only had I walked far more than I did at home, but walking on all the asphalt and concrete in only sneakers was apparently not a good mix. I was so slow, but the two girls I’d met the previous day were absolute champs in slowing down for me so I could keep up with them walking the course before it all started. I met up with them at the head of the lake, then walked all the way to the finish with them.
We ended up somewhere near the back of the stables since that’s where the start/end point was, and it was aaaaaaaaall uphill to try to make it back to the course much less the Hollow.
Thankfully, one of the golf cart drivers took pity on the three of us. He drove the two girls to the paddocks to watch the TB presentation and he took me a ways further before I started my trek to the Hollow. I got there just in time to place my towel and sit my ass down for some much needed leg rest. Got my camera out, my food, and then we all proceeded to be quite confused when it was 9:35/9:40 and no horses had shown up yet. A few of us, myself included, grabbed the live stream and loaded it on our phones so we could watch the combinations as they came to the Hollow and then proceed to take pictures.
It was absolutely amazing watching them go. Most were huge horses and powerful, and it was just awe-inspiring. I got to see Maxime run by; his horse is a huge, giant-strided monster. I mean wow.
Soon after the girls met up with me, and we watched a few more combinations go for about a half hour to an hour, and then we made our way down to see some other jumps.
I thought the day before that I’d park it at one fence to secure a good view, and stay there the entire day. I was actually quite happy that I’d decided to go along with the girls’ plan to mostly walk the course (AGAIN) and watch at various jumps. I got to see more horses and riders, more jumps, and it was all around a great idea for a first time at Rolex.
It was, in my opinion, perfect for my first-ever attendance at a 3 day. The course was tough and it was a bit worrying because the weather had been so hot the day before and was shaping up to be the same, but all the horses seemed in good health after they pulled up. We made our way to the lake where we saw Michi and Zara and a few others around that time frame pop into the water, and it was by far the most populated jump. People were clamoring for spots everywhere.
I was able to squeeze into a pretty good spot to grab some media, but after a few horses, the girls and I were done with crowds and headed over to the Whiskey Barrel table. That thing was giant. A horse in full jump from a run spanned the breadth of the table as you can see with the picture of Tim Price below. It was wider than I am tall – which is 5’5″. Something else that I will never jump over in my life.
There were a few things going on after cross country, but I
was done with people for the day was pretty tired by the time the last horse flew by the table that I called it quits. Plus, the table was also the closest jump to my car, and short walk for sore legs was really the only thing on my mind at that time. I really need to get in better shape.
Friday evening I’d been ready to admit that I missed home and would love to go back, but after watching the cross country, I knew that Sunday and consequently leaving on Monday was going to come way too fast. I didn’t want to be home anymore. I wanted to keep watching cross country. I wanted to stay there in Lexington and soak up how green it was, how politely people drove, go visit the TB farms and get more than a passing glance of the babies.
Of course, all events have a last day, and I was determined that while I hadn’t initially found a lot Thursday and Friday, I’d shop one last time and see if there was anything else I could grab.
What better way to start off a blog than with my trip to Rolex? Granted, it’s…3 weeks late, but better late than never, right?
Last year, after watching the live feed of Rolex and getting through most of the summer watching the ERM series and Olympics, I decided to cross off one of my bucket list items: going to a top horse event. It’s a bit non-specific for a reason. Tastes change, and I’ve already seen some good, big events – Silver Dollar show and High Roller Reining classic here in Vegas, and the NRHA Futurity in OKC. But Rolex is something completely different. It’s different than just the plain jumper shows, and to be quite honest, the hunter/western pleasure shows are just kind of….boring and quiet after you watch a screaming, yelling round of reining. But Rolex is something else entirely. So, I put away money, I planned, and one dream on my bucket list is now crossed off.
I’m lumping the two dressage days together because it was basically the same thing both days, but they were still exciting. My friend who I really wanted to come with me (she events) couldn’t get the time off of work, so it was just me and myself, which was totally okay.
I flew in Wednesday, got my lodgings at a B & B (worth the ridiculous amount of money btw), and was ready to have a go Thursday morning. It was a relative ghost town on Thursday – me in my naiveté thought “No way! There’s got to be more people that attend this thing!” Let’s just say I was in for a rude awakening on Friday. But more on that later.
When I arrived, I was pretty sure that I would get bored of dressage and not want to stay for the whole thing and go shopping instead. Well, I stayed for the whole thing. And only did a teensy amount of shopping. Mostly as I was walking out and caught the secondary Rolex booth. But Thursday was a really quiet day, and it was nice to sit and watch all the combinations ride. I was really interested in how each of them rode the pattern and their cues and just watching what they were doing. I’m a huge watcher. Tell it to me once, then let me watch it and I will pick it apart for hours to see everything that’s going on.
I didn’t get to see many shops Thursday, so I was excited to return and shop Friday.
Friday was hell. I’m not a crowds person. And there were crowds and crowds and crowds. On top of that I totally embarrassed myself because I didn’t hear the loudspeaker about people not entering when the horses were performing cause the crowds… Yeah, let’s just say I don’t want to relive that. I shopped a lot on Friday and watched only the second sessions of each block. I mean, what if all the stuff was gone?! There’s so many people to buy it all up!
Not to mention, when I did watch dressage, I was smooshed between people. Personal space bubble officially invaded. This happened in stadium, too, but it wasn’t as bad. Probably because the people sitting next to me were nicer. I digress.
The people I was sitting near were talking to me, and I said that my horse and I were just starting to event, haven’t quite gotten there yet (yeah, not even jumping). No kidding the lady just gave me this look like “Well, then why are you even here?” And I really just wanted to shout “Well, you’re like…70! Based on what you told me, you don’t event either, so why are you here?!”
About half of the people I talked to said “You go girl for coming here; go get ‘em when you start eventing” and the other half said “Why are you even here if you don’t event yet; and you ride western, ew”. By the end I was just laughing. It reminded me why I’d stopped riding English so long ago – too much snobbery. It was funny though – the teens were snobby and harsh, the people about 55 and up gave me snobby faces but kept their mouths shut. The ages in between were sweet and kind and encouraging. Interesting.
Okay, sorry. Inconsequential stuff over. On to dressage.
I got to watch the top 3 scores: Kim Severson, Michael Jung and Clark Montgomery. After watching dressage all day Thursday and seeing how the judges had been judging those scores, it was really something to see those top rides. All the top 10 horses were just brilliant. It was really lovely to see.
I suppose there’s really not too much to say – except for the fact that they debuted a new test. Personally, after watching all those counter canter serpentine loops in the ERM series, the stretchy circle, the eradication of those dreaded serpentines and the flow of the pattern was a breath of fresh air. I felt that all of those horses benefited from that pattern. There were quite a few that were still tense from beginning to end, but I think it really helped a lot of them relax.
I was mostly rooting for two people specifically, and one group: Lillian Heard and Share Option and Madeline Backus and PS Ariana as well as the whole group of rider/horse combinations that were competing in their very first Rolex. I wanted them all to do well. I didn’t expect them to win, but to be competitive enough – top 20 I’d say.
Lillian had really impressed me last year with her stadium round, really trusting Share Option through the last combination that many riders had down. They’d had a clear round and moved up the board, so I was hoping she’d do well this year.
Eventing Nation had done a “Who Jumped it Best” picture contest, and that was the first I’d seen of Madeline. Just the expression on Ariana’s face as she flew over that B element in the water endeared that little powerhouse to me, so I was super excited to see them and root for them at such a big event.
Both ladies did a respectable test, so I was happy. Plus, they had true jumping horses, because it wasn’t a dressage test.
However, it WAS the last dressage test for Arthur. The test was beautiful, and everyone stood up and cheered at the end.
I stayed just as long as it took me to pack up my camera things, and booked it over to the head of the lake for the Smartpak walkthrough with Boyd Martin and Ryan Wood. It was very informative. While I will not be cross country jumping obstacles this large, it was really great to hear how they would ride the lines. For some jumps, it was the same for both horses. For other combinations, there was a plan for two strides, or it’d be different how angled they’d approach it, and all that.
At some point, I found myself pretty close to Boyd before the rest of the giant mass of people caught up. I had missed some signings by that point – didn’t have anything for them to sign, mostly. I’d packed it all in my rental. So, some younger girls were holding out their hats to Boyd to sign, and right at that moment, I thought “What the hell; I’m doing it.” Because if I let myself deliberate or think about it or wait I wouldn’t do it. Because I get chicken when it comes to things like autographs or talking to “cool” people. So, with no other autographs, I took off my hat, and gave it to Boyd to sign.
I still feel bad for the guy. It was like 80 with ungodly levels of humidity for the dry-climate person, so I was completely out of breath and sweating buckets. My poor hat was absolutely gross. And it was white. So stains really showed. But, credit to the guy because despite the look on his face, he signed it anyway. Which means I will never ever talk to him or show my face to him in my lifetime because remember – chicken. I’m less embarrassed about it now, so I laugh more, but still, poor guy.
After that I puttered around the course for a bit, looking at jumps and came to one where two girls were standing. We ended up talking for quite a bit, and it was nice because they hadn’t ever evented either. It was refreshing talking to them, and we seemed to hit it off pretty well. So, we agreed to meet up for cross country the next day.
I was absolutely beat by the time I got back to the B&B. I’d done so much walking that my hips were beginning to cramp up and any weight I put on them stung like a mf. But, soon I was out like a light because tomorrow – cross country!
For now, though, here are my favorite “just at the right moment” photos.
Hi everyone! This blog originated out of my desire to review horse products. I don’t have tons of money, so I’ve always tried to find reviews on products and do good research on what’s the best. Some things have reviews, but many many others don’t. So I wanted to write a blog with as many reviews as possible for people who don’t have a lot of money, but would like quality products – English or Western, for a good price. It has since morphed into a desire to document my (struggles, goofiness and bumpy) entrance into the world of eventing.
As of this post I am 26, and am lucky enough that my mom and I have our two horses on our own property. It’s absolutely wonderful to have them so close, and we love being able to be in charge of all of their meals and care. As for my experiences, I’ve ridden everything from hunters to pleasure horses to reiners and jumpers and ranch horses helping to brand calves, but have been riding western for the past 10+ years. That included a 2 year job as an assistant reining trainer before making my way back to Vegas to continue being an adult amateur. I love learning about many different disciplines, and at some point I’d like to dabble in a bit of cutting, some more dressage (a must in eventing but I find it fascinating lol), reined cowhorse, and really anything horsey. I never want to stop learning and believe that every discipline has good aspects of horse training that can help you get a really well-rounded horse.
My little red QH girl is currently 7, and has been with me since she was a long yearling. She is absolutely my once in a lifetime heart horse. I seriously have never been able to interact with horses the way I have with her. I swear she speaks – with her eyes and ears and expressions, of course – but she has such life and personality and love that many times I can’t imagine having the room in my heart to fit another horse in there. She is my whole life and makes my life absolutely whole.
The other horse you’ll sometimes see in pictures is my mom’s QH mare Whisper. She is half mine on paper in case something happens to my mom, but she’s really all my mom’s. She’s bonded with her, and I am so thankful because that mare really takes care of my mom. You’ll also see a sweet, old mini dachshund named Choco floating around here and there.
Amber and I have started out doing reining and pleasure, but have since decided to try out lower level eventing. It’s going to be something completely new for the both of us since neither of us have ever done dressage, she hasn’t jumped and I haven’t in years, and we’ve never been cross country. But, it’s going to be an awesome journey with my best girl.
For some fun memories of the lesson horses in my life:
This post (and this whole blog) is dedicated to my fat-n-happy, chunker, tank, trouble-maker, cuts-herself-up-all-the-time, can’t-get-along-too-well-with-others, orange sorrel mare Amber – a.k.a. Jellybean. She is 88.85% Foundation Quarter Horse with lineage to Paddys Irish Whiskey and Peptoboonsmal (yes I was a weirdo and calculated it lol).
Registered name: Beans Paddy Lena
Nicknames: Amber and Jellybean for every day; Stupid, Mare and Missy when she’s being stubborn; Baby girl, Honey, Sweet Pea when I’m feeling particularly happy; Hankie’s Tankie (dam’s name is Mylanta’s Hankie) and Hippopotamus and Hippopotamoose’s Caboose when she’s very muscled (ie fat lol)
Breed: Quarter Horse
Born: April 2010
Favorite things: Scratches (with legit anything), apples/apple treats, alfalfa, trails, being with people, being out riding (she really does love work), going on long hacks, bagpipes, mangoes and mango popsicles and attention
Dislikes: Dusk (not joking), applause (no seriously, she hates it), grippy neoprene (will crow hop if saddle pad or girth is made of such material), and me riding other horses (seriously, she pins her ears at them)
As for our story, this may be a little long of an explanation for a lot of people, but it’s such a crazy and amazing story of how I got her that I feel I have to tell it in its entirety.
Just a teensy bit of back-story – as part of the Equine Science degree at Colorado State, there is a colt training class you can take. It involves many ranches – including ones such as Singleton Ranch, Burnett Ranches, Purina and others – consigning a horse(s), be they two or three-year-olds, to CSU for a student to train. That student halter breaks, rides for the first time, and trains this horse over the course of two semesters until the horse is sold in the Legends of Ranching Sale in late April.
So in my junior year I was finally able to take the class. The teacher assigned us our horses, and I get Beans Paddy Lena. When I first saw her I remember thinking – she’s a pony! And immediately, I noticed she was scabby and honestly looked a bit homeless lol. And she was so tiny! I was sure I would be way too big on her. But she was quite sweet and chill for a baby.
In first working with her I noticed she wanted nothing to do with me and everything to do with her friend that came from the same ranch. That first semester was definitely a lot of work for the both of us, learning each other since I knew nothing about breaking a horse and she knew nothing beyond haltering. But, it’s safe to say that I did not like her, and she wasn’t very fond of me.
When I came back from Christmas break and drove out to see her I was shocked. She’d lost her gangly self and had filled out. Granted, she wasn’t quite two yet, so she had a lot of growing to do, but still. And oddly enough she actually seemed happy to see me after break. It had done her good, and she felt a little more mature. I’d only ridden her 3-4 times before break, but she was really great for the whole of the spring semester. We had our arguments, but they were very few, and she was an absolute champ about it all. Then it was time for the student competition before the sale a week later.
We entered the riding phase, and that was when I seriously fell in love with her. I was extremely proud of her – she had tried her little heart out and listened to everything I asked of her. Turns out, that day was also her two-year-old birthday. Despite that, we won third against 30+ other horses, most of which were three-year-olds. She was the only two-year-old in the top ten. We ended up seventh overall, which was just fantastic.
After that, I couldn’t really imagine letting her go. She was super chill, relaxed, but she was always ready to go when you asked and would try her heart out. I loved that about her, and she started looking for me when I walked in. I knew after that competition that if I didn’t try to buy her, I would regret it for the rest of my life. My parents were coming for the sale, so in the remaining week, I contacted people, got pricing, and realized I could feasibly keep her. Since I was the one taking her through the sale ring, I couldn’t bid. But my dad could.
Amber was amazing in the preview before the sale, and I knew I had to do everything I could for this horse. I told my dad what my price point for her was, so if the bidding went over that, I knew I wasn’t getting her, and I knew that someone really wanted her and would take care of her.
I was a blithering bundle of nerves and she kept looking at me like “what’s your problem, ma?”. It didn’t help that sale day she kept nickering for me whenever I’d walk by. She’d never done that before; she’s not a talker unless grain is involved, and even then it’s only occasionally. I tried to showcase her as best as I could, because maybe this little girl had a great owner in the future, better than me, and I didn’t want to short her on that. She meant too much to me for me to show at anything less than her potential. So I walked in there and the price climbed, and then it went over my threshold. I desperately hoped whoever had gotten her was going to love her and do her justice.
I managed to keep it together for the rest of the day, and the new owners came by to see her. She was put off by all the attention, but we ended up talking for a bit and they found out my dad had been trying to bid on her for me. They seemed apologetic, but they had bought her fair and square, and it was nice to know that they had a full sister of hers and wanted another one.
She shipped out the next day, and someone managed to get to me that the people who had taken her had left me a message at the office. I rushed over, hoping she hadn’t torn herself to bits or broken a leg or something like that and found a sticky with a few numbers. After calling all of the numbers, only one worked, and when I asked if everything had gone okay with her pick up and if she was fine, they told me it had gone golden and they were going back to their ranch. So, we hung up, and I thought it was odd, but maybe random that they had left the numbers. Either way, I put it from my mind, and went back home to study for my next tests and finals.
It really hit me about a week and half later that I didn’t have her, and I wouldn’t ever. I had never been this attached to a horse before, but accepted that she wouldn’t be mine and kept going through finals.
A few days later, on a Saturday morning when I had nothing to do, I answered the phone thinking it was my mom. It was my dad. We chatted about how I was doing, then he said, “So, I made a call.” And I immediately broke into tears. I knew exactly who he had called and what he had called about when he told me that. I really don’t remember the rest of the conversation, just that there had been a lot of confusion. When I had called those numbers left for me, they were going to ask me if I still wanted her and sell her back to me. But either the guy that picked up hadn’t known about it or whatnot, and I lost the sticky with the numbers. They had tried to get in touch with me in the following two weeks, to no avail. So my dad, knowing how much I had loved that little mare, called them up asking if they would possibly reconsider and sell her to us. They immediately told him they’d been trying to get a hold of me to sell her back. How crazy is that?
I had to call them and make sure they weren’t just feeling bad for buying a horse from a girl who had wanted to bid on her. But the more I talked to them, the more they stressed they really just felt it was the right thing to do to sell her back to me. So of course I’m balling saying “of course I still want her!!” and off my parents and I go to grab her. When I got there and she saw me walking towards her, she moved around in her stall a lot, looking at me like “Where have you been the past two weeks?!!” I was so teary eyed, and every time I moved she tried to follow me in that stall.
We got her all loaded after a tour of the ranch and headed home. I stayed in CO and had her in one of the pastures in back of the house, and that was wonderful. I also learned she was a wonderfully injury-prone horse. She’d just walk under trees, and even if a sharp branch split the skin, she didn’t care. She’s still got scars in random places that I have no idea how she got them. But she was only two, and I would probably never do this with any other two-year-old, but I just hopped on her bareback and we went swimming. I’d never been on her bareback before that. Yes, I know stupid. Not to mention I only had on shorts and flip flops. Again, double stupid. So probably don’t do that on a 2 yr old haha. But there were irrigation ponds near the house, so one of my roommates and I took our horses down there to swim. It was so funny because the five-year-old Thoroughbred who’d been on those trails a lot was jigging more than the two-year-old Quarter Horse who’d never been on a trail ride in her life. But that’s Amber, really. She takes everything in stride.
Then in August, she got out of her pen around 10:30 pm. I still cannot figure out how she did it. But she got onto not a main road but still a popular one, and almost got run over by two cars. A guy had blocked our driveway with his car and come to grab someone who was awake in the house to let them know the horse got out. I ran out to see, and sure enough it was Amber. And she was three-legged-lame.
It took about a week before vets actually figured out what was wrong with her because the swelling in her right knee was so bad. It turned out that she’d gotten near a dozen bone chips in the back of her knee. I also hadn’t realized that she’d damaged a good chunk of her suspensory ligament as well, but it’d shown signs of healing already. The CSU vet clinic took amazing care of her during her surgery, and I am forever grateful to them. Unfortunately, their prognosis wasn’t good. They told me she would only be a pasture pet and wouldn’t be truly sound again.
I was very afraid to accept that answer. I had just gotten this little mare, she was in my care, and I desperately wanted her to be okay and happy. My dad and mom helped me build her a stall for her stall rest, and I had four months before the vets checked her to make it happen. About three months in, I had her walking around me on a long lead rope when she just exploded. She took off running and was galloping around and around and around me and I was desperately trying to get her to stop. Poor thing hadn’t done more than walk for three months so I understood but she was pretty much giving me a heart attack at that point. But miracle of miracles, when she finally came back to a trot, I checked her and watched her and there was no heat and no lameness on that leg. I checked obsessively the next day – no heat and no lameness. So, I stuck her on a regimen of mostly walking and timed trotting. By the time we got to our four month check up, the vets were smiling and laughing and telling me they hadn’t ever seen a horse recover from this type of injury like Amber had.
Graduation came, and I got a job, and she went home for a year with my mom while I worked in Texas. When I was able to bring her to Texas with me, she and I learned a lot there, especially when I took her to a good lameness vet just to check out her hocks because something just felt a little…off about her when we’d practice our sliding stops. After x-rays, he surmised that she’d injured her hocks at the same time she’d injured her right knee, but because the knee was the prominent issue, that got fixed and we never looked at her hocks. Which is completely true. So that pushed out my reining dreams with her, but that was alright. It was nice to know why she felt not-quite-right when I’d ask her to slide. And despite the reining dreams being gone, there were some wonderful people that really helped us get better as a pair before we left for home.
Since then we’ve been in Vegas, showing in local shows as all around and now beginning to focus a lot more on eventing – transferring her reining knowledge to dressage and introducing jumps. She’s my little miracle pony. She was not supposed to be sound enough for even flat riding, yet she and I have been able to do all sorts of things in the 6 years since her injury. I’m grateful she was able to overcome that and that we have been able to do more things than I’d ever thought possible. Unfortunately, in November of 2017 she wrenched her stifle. There were a lot of setbacks before getting arthroscopic surgery, such as tooth pulling and abscesses, and due to everything being prolonged she sadly developed laminitis. We only caught it at the end of July 2018 when she wasn’t healing as well from her stifle surgery as we’d been expecting. Poor girl had hid her pain for a long time, and it was unfortunately very progressed. This little mare is my heart and soul, so now she gets to have an early retirement, a lot of rest, sadly NOT all the food she can eat haha, but certainly all the love and attention she could want for as long as I get to have her.