The barn is here!

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!

SO MUCH STUFF

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!

Cavaletti lesson

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.

Like this one

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.

She looks oddly small in this photo….

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.

Oscar; it’s tough being this cute

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.

Because dessert

Review: PS of Sweden 3-point breastplate

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!

Photo from PS website

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.

From PS website

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.

Yup, this wild thang needs the running attachment…..
Sorry the quality isn’t good; this one is from a video

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.

The heat is on

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).

She was not into photos last night LOL

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.

Me and my mom’s conversation LOL

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:

But I wants to play!

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.

Definitely not into pictures last night lol

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!

Review: Smartpak Piper breeches

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.

All 4 of my pairs

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.

Silicone knee patch and sock bottom

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.

Charcoal and sapphire
Navy and emerald
Navy and dove

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.

And the verdict is….

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?

Scrub-a-dub

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?

Worse….yet not?

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.

We keep our hacks classy

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.

Review: PS of Sweden Flying Change Bridle

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.

So nicely packaged!

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.

Noseband width in cob size

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.

Roller hardware on both sides of the noseband

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.

This was taken the day it came in. You can see how well it fits her and how sleek it looks even though it’s new

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?

So fancy

Release the puppies

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.

Her version of yoga

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.

Daddy Max with baby Chyna White

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.

PUDGY

Chyna

The puppies wanted to see the Doxie but Choco did not want to see them lol

When 5 week old pitbull puppies are as big as a Dachshund….

Such beautiful blue eyes! Pudgy was my favorite
More blue eyes and cuteness overload

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?

Restart

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…?”

work is too hard…too hot….

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.

Such sweetness in her eye

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.

This is definitely her “oh dear god, not more photoshoots” face. Really, I don’t get her. She’ll look like I’m embarrassing her like crazy, and then she’ll sit there and pose. Oh, wait. That’s why – it’s the bonnet

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!

SAND

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.

Scratches…So…Good…..

On helping Amber feel better, what do you guys suggest? What has worked for you in the past?

Overhaulin’

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.

Before…
After. So flat….

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.

Yay for undisturbed desert.
Pad for the barn

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.

Front look at the pad

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!

 

Tack Haul

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.