Shenanigans

Well, the vet was originally supposed to come out and do acupuncture and laser therapy Friday evening, but she accidentally forgot. Wonderfully, though, she still popped over and gave Amber a few more adjustments – which she needed. Her twisted hip needed to be tweaked some more. Amber was less sure of the appointment this time, but I could tell she was still feeling better.

I also got some breeches in the mail finally. I’d ordered a super cute pair from Horze and wanted to try some full seat breeches. These came really well packaged, and of course, Choco had to check them to make sure there was nothing wrong with them.

Dis food?!

They fit well through my hips and waist, but still feel a little odd in the legs so I’m going to wear them around the house some more before I decide what to do with them.

Saturday morning Amber was definitely feeling better. She did something she hadn’t done (and I hadn’t realized she hadn’t done until that moment) in a very long time – her right shoulder was falling to the inside. That side has always been her tougher side, so usually I’ve tried to keep her straight. But I basically dropped the reins and let her body do whatever it wanted. I was just happy she was feeling good enough and straight enough and not hurting to where one of her old problems came back. She felt pretty fluid. Her canter was much tougher, but I think it was because she’s been unable to feel comfortable in it for a long time. I actually got a few really good strides both directions with her lifting her back so we cut there.

Older pic but no less accurate

Her icky fungus spots look so much better even after just one Teddy’s Tack Trunk Treatment. Or the 4 t’s. She’s also a lot less itchy since I’ve used TTT’s Leave it be shampoo, but it could also be because I’ve given her two baths and have gotten tons of shedding hair off of her. However, the flaky spots have gone away with one wash, so I’m betting it’s working.

Sunday was an awesome day. I gave her a quick bareback hack – just a lot of walking since I was a little worried I’d maybe pushed her too hard Saturday. But she seemed to walk very freely, and I had my mom video her at a jog. Many times if she’s looking a little off you can tell when she’s slow jogging. Maybe two or so steps she was short, and the rest she looked super. Both of her legs looked even and hitting the ground at the same time. So while we won’t be really getting into things this week, I think it’ll be good to just get her out every day, and saddle or no saddle we hack around and get her muscles moving and retraining them. I’m so relieved we’re finally get a handle on why she isn’t feeling so good.

Sunday was also awesome because a good friend of mine came over for a Harry Potter marathon. It was quite a lot of this between us

and also just a lot of chilling out and enjoying the movies. We only managed to get through 5 because we got a late start, but we’d also watch A Very Potter Musical so….that absolutely counts too.

All in all, a super chill weekend.

Stuff for sale!

So I haven’t gotten all my shit together that I want to sell yet, because I have to organize all my non-horse things first, but there are a few things that I absolutely know for certain that I want to sell (and are within reach). I’m not the best with “what is a good deal for used items” so I’ll stick a price out there, and if you want to negotiate, please feel free to email me! Buyer would also pay shipping, and preferably Paypal. Without further ado, here they are!

Ovation Aqua-X knee patch silicone breeches – Blue/Aegean blue size 30

They’ve been worn probably 15-20 times, haven’t stretched with wash or wear, and just have two very-difficult-to-see spots where I accidentally splattered hooflex on them. Don’t ask me how I managed to do it. I’ll send you pictures of the spots if you’d like. I want to keep them, but I’m more of a 31 than a 30, so they’re up for sale. $75

Kerrits Flow Rise knee patch tights – Dune/ Medium

I really like these, but again, I’m in between sizes. Worn about 15-20 times, a little bit of pilling around the ankles. $45

Thinline jumper boots set of 4 – black/medium

I bought these used, and have hardly used them. The fronts are too big on Amber. $70

SmartPak Harwich fancy stitched hunt bridle with long (~62″) reins – SOLD!

Ovation QH plain raised padded bridle (no reins) – Full

The bridle is breed specific, but it just didn’t fit Amber’s cow horse head very well. It’s a nice bridle in a lovely rich chocolate and been used about 20-25 times. It’s been conditioned and oiled; the only flaw is that I snipped off one of the keepers for the noseband because I was thinking of having a leather maker look at it. $65

Browbands with Bling padded browband – Full/royal with gold crystals

I love this browband but I just don’t use it anymore. It’s super fun though, custom made and very good quality. (It also goes well with the bridle above) $50

Total Saddle Fit dressage girth – brown/ 30″

Don’t need this one anymore, though it’s still in like-new condition. $85

Western “starter package” – 1 saddle, 3 bridles, and 1 bit

This is really just in case any of you know someone looking for a western saddle. It’s my mom’s but I figured it was worth a shot to put it up here. Saddle is California poppy tooling, semi-quarter horse bars (which is basically the Western equivalent of a medium to medium wide tree in English). It has a 15 1/2″ seat and is luxuriously padded – stirrups are padded as well to aid in foot comfort. Was used very lightly for a year. 3 bridles are added – all plain but good for showing. Bit is a twisted wire western D snaffle. Padded saddle cover included. $1000

That’s it for now. I’ll need to go through all my other things but this is what I have in front of me at the moment. Again, let me know in the comments or via email if you want anything! I’ve also never really done this before, so forgive me if I’m verifying things 5 times or whatnot lol. I’ll try to do it as fast as possible as well as cheap as possible.

The 4th and things

July 4th was not as bad as I was anticipating. Since Amber was weird Monday I just hopped on her bareback for a nice hack with my mom. Her walk felt okay but I could hear and feel that her hind feet were short or a little off. I did jog a little, and she felt relatively okay to the right, but still not quite to the left. Thankfully, the vet had gotten back to me by that time, so we settled on an acupuncture/laser therapy session Friday evening. I’m really crossing my fingers that she’ll feel better. She’s hypersensitive in her hip area, but if her hip is finally not twisted I’m not surprised. I think acupuncture will absolutely help her muscles relax and reset.

We so wild

Since I had the day off we puttered around the place doing cleaning and fix-up. Fireworks started in earnest around 8. Our neighborhood is pretty quiet, and since we have a police officer that lives right across the street, only the little fireworks were allowed which I must admit is nice. Warehouses across the tracks invite people to come set off the large fireworks. My mom and I gave our horses some Quietex, but for the most part, I think Amber would’ve been okay without it.

The yawn is strong with this one

The giant fireworks going over her head with giant booms? No problem. She just flicked an ear and watched. The ones across the street though – those were going to eat her. She never got bad, and the families did fireworks for about 30 minutes, and if I stayed and provided scratches, the fireworks didn’t even make a blip on her radar.

OMG SCRATCHES YESSSSS

Overall it was one of the best 4ths I’ve had – except when it wasn’t. Somebody come over on to the empty lots to shoot fireworks, and it’s all brush, dry and prime for fires. Our barn is metal, but the hay and the horses are flammable. Thankfully, they only had about 3 and were done very quickly. Then someone also somehow got one of my credit card numbers and decided to purchase nearly $200 worth of things with my money. And the company wasn’t open on federal holidays. Sweet. It is all sorted though, so that’s good.

I did receive my Teddy’s Tack Trunk box yesterday so immediately after work I suited up and gave Amber a bath. She was not enthused, but I am really really hoping that this will help with her obsessive itching. It’s gotten worse this summer since we put sand in the back of her stall, but I’m hoping this shampoo will help with that until I can get more shavings and dirt back there.

Hardcore mare glare LOL

Now it’s a waiting game. Hopefully Friday evening’s appointment will render better results! Also, stay tuned for tomorrow’s post – I’ve got some good stuff for you guys!

Review: KO Trading Company Elite Cowhorse Saddle

So I think I will be renaming these Review Wednesdays. I’ve done a few reviews on English tack so far, so I figure it’s high time I review a Western product. And the first product on the docket? My saddle.

At the time I bought this saddle in 2015, it was called the Elite Cowhorse saddle. Now, it’s technically the KO Elite Reiner Saddle- KOE-1706 on their website. I stumbled across the company when a friend was looking for a saddle and she took me to their booth at the futurity. It has no “padded” seat, and I was expecting it to be hard as a rock. And surprisingly, it was extremely comfortable. It helped her sit well so she bought one and then left it with the trainer and I to use. And use it I did.

That saddle became my staple for every horse I rode. Since it is a cowhorse saddle, it’s meant to sit you back and be uphill over the withers so that it’s easier to keep your seat when your horse is cutting a cow. It was especially helpful on those downhill 2 yr olds that were still growing, and it really just sat you nice and straight in the saddle. Because it sits you back and was a smooth seat (no suede), it also made it very easy to sit those hard stoppers.

But the biggest reason I chose the saddle was the fit. I’d been using some saddles that appeared to fit her in the withers, but what I wasn’t paying attention to how wide the channel was through the back of the saddle. It’s what first alerted me to the fact that while Amber is wide in her shoulders, she gets even wider towards her hips. And although this saddle is a square cut, it did exactly that – it was broad for the shoulders, and even wider in the back.

The shoulder fit for Amber is phenomenal. You can see how seamlessly it fits on on her shoulders, and I could immediately tell the difference in her comfort when I rode her in this saddle versus others. The channel in the back was wide, but I’d also seen saddle skirts that cut in even when it was broad in back. Amber also didn’t like these as both of her last ribs are nearly as far out as her hip bones. But this skirt cleared it with room to spare.

The saddle used to be a very dark chocolate, but it has lightened to a reddish brown now. My friend’s saddle was lacquered and stayed chocolate, but I’d had a not-so-good experience with lacquer before that so I’d opted for without.

This saddle was custom (but not fit-wise), and it really didn’t change the price tag any. I simply asked for a suede seat in chocolate to match, and that was what KO provided. When I visited their store in the Fort Worth Stockyards, I picked my own conchos, the tooling pattern and specified the suede seat. It came with both side latigos and a back cinch (which I have somewhere but alas, have not looked through all my bins). The saddle also came very very oiled – I’ve had it for two years now, used it about 4-5 times a week and have yet to need to add anything to it. I do keep it in a cover and dust it off after I ride, but I always check it to see if it needs a coat of oil.

So if you have a very wide, stocky, hard-fit-QH I highly recommend this saddle. It has been the only saddle (and I’ve tried a few other brands since) that has perfectly fit my horse. I have never ridden a wide QH that didn’t like the saddle – even the 2 yr olds rode in it well. It sits you perfectly balanced on the horse, and is one of the most comfortable western saddles I’ve ever ridden in. Their customer service was also very good. The lady who had taken my order and I had a misunderstanding about the suede seat, and they built me a whole new saddle with the right seat free of charge. Personally, it’s a 5 out of 5 stars for me.

And 2 steps back

Not much happened yesterday. I took Amber out for her walk/trot lunge and she was….very strange to say the least. Especially after she looked so promising Sunday. Her walk looked okay, but when she got to the jog she just looked really discombobulated. Very off on rhythm. She extended to a good trot for a bit, looked okay and then went back to looking weird. She was excited and cantered a bit, still seeming to have an outward bend. So I massaged her out a little, aaaaaaaaannnnnd it looked worse. So I stretched her legs under her, and she held her right hind really funky for a bit before she properly stretched. She looked a teensy bit better afterwards, but still moving weird and not wanting to put that right hind under her at all.

I contacted the vet/chiro that looked at her, asking some questions and seeing whether she needs to come back. I’m wondering if her muscles are just so so so so tight and stuck if she’s had this problem for a while and I haven’t caught it. Her muscles do look blobby instead of sleek in her butt, and since my shoulder issues I just don’t have the arm/body strength anymore to really try dig deep into her muscles. Maybe I should work on that today….

Even her healing from her knee surgery and suspensory didn’t feel this unknown and stressful, because dammit I want the bloody horse happy and body sound. Maybe I’m being way too overprotective mom. But I definitely think there’s something (probably a lot) going on back there that could very well be translating to why she’s still occasionally tripping on her right front. Definitely freaking out on the inside.

Maybe I just need to stretch her every day and massage her every other day for a month now. I dunno. I just wish she could speak and tell me what’s going on. But alas. Well, Amber’s been really good and sound for a while, so perhaps this is my year for horse trouble.

Sales make for great weekends

Many places had great sales this weekend for 4th of July. I was hoping RW was having a sale, but alas, not so. Either way, I still feel like I made out like a bandit.

So although Amber and I haven’t gone anywhere near dressaging yet (or jumping really, for that matter), I still found a few perfect things. Our local tack shop was having a 4th sale, and I’d been eyeing a few things in the store. Their sale was 15% regardless, 25% over $100 and 30% over $250. So of course I took advantage of that deal and bought a sparkle dressage pad (the plain patch I intend to DIY with our barn colors), a white Ogilvy with navy piping, and a dressage show shirt. The cool thing? The white, RJ Classics gulf breeches I wanted had been in the store only days before, so while I don’t have the breeches now, they’re on the truck back to Vegas AND since I got the 30% discount, the breeches were technically free. Can’t beat that!

Dachshund bonus!

Friday night we visited with a family that still are good friends of ours from our time in Hawaii. It was really great to be able to catch up with them. And of course, the food was awesome.

Brisket, mac n cheese and sweet potato fries. Yay for carbs!
Can’t forget the carrot cake!

Come Saturday my mom and I had our first official ride at home. It was great to have such space for the both of us to ride, and I know the horses really enjoyed it as well. My favorite part was us going out through the empty lots around us. We used to do it all the time, and just hadn’t been able to at the other place. There was an area where a heavy truck had made some pretty big divots and Amber looked down into it, paused to sniff it then took me excitedly over. Once out, it felt like she was looking for something else to tackle, and I have to admit it made me feel a bit giddy. Perhaps she really will like cross country.

Queen of the yawn face

And then she poses

But the ride was very beneficial in that with a nice, flat surface and plenty of room to ride I felt that she was still not-right. Her hip felt really turned in to the right, and she would stick it out to the left. I played around and did some lateral steps, and it was a total failure to the left. So, it gave me some really good info to take to the chiropractor/acupuncturist Sunday.

Turns out, Amber’s hip was twisted. It makes total sense, and I think it happened about 3-4 months ago when she popped up off one day. I’d massage her and she’d seem to feel better, but if it were her pelvis, then that explains why it’s persisted. The lady did more manipulation than the typical abrupt creek-crack-snap I think of when I hear the word chiropractor, which was fine with me. I’d rather it be a manipulation anyway. She also got out some large knots on the right side of Amber’s neck and manipulated her bones near her poll. I couldn’t capture the look on Amber’s face in time but the look in her eye was so funny as she was wondering whether or not she liked it. Ultimately, she definitely liked it:

It was a quick, short session, and she might need one next week, but I am completely fine with that. I could already see a difference in her after those quick, minor adjustments. No riding until Tuesday, just some hand walking and a little jogging, but anything to make sure she feels 100% percent again. It was cute though because after a quick “Oh!” from the lady, I asked if everything was okay and she just laughed and asked if Amber had had work done before. I explained I massaged her, and she laughed again and said “She knew just what to do; threw all her weight into me and surprised me!” It was a very nice appointment, and Amber looked so much better after. Per the chiropractor’s instructions I hand walked Amber later, and although she was still a little short on that hind leg, she was showing a string of really good steps where she’d reach like she used to.

Most of the afternoon was spent making Amber’s stall larger. We had 2 extra panels so why not? Amber now has a 24×24 run outside of her stall, and I think she really likes it. She already rolled twice, so I think it gets her approval.

I was really glad I could snatch that Ogilvy half pad with a sale. I’ve wanted to try it ever since Amber was noticeably more comfortable when I first tried the foam ECP pad. I couldn’t feel much of a difference when I used the Ogilvy Saturday, but I think that was due to the twisted hip. I’ll play around with both the Ogilvy and the Thinline.

I also was able to grab the anti-fungal line and a no-itch shampoo from Teddy’s Tack Trunk with their 4th of July sales code. I’m liking all this sale hunting….

What about you guys? What sales did you nab? What did you do with your horses this weekend?

Goals for the rest of the year

So almost a week ago (was it really only Saturday that the ponies moved?!) I was perfectly content. Content with what my plans were for the next six months, content that perhaps I won’t have a dressage lesson until very late in the fall (probably winter), content that I probably wouldn’t get to jump until late August or maybe September.

After Sunday’s cavaletti work, a few things became clear to me: I want to start educating her to a little more jumping now that we have a new arena, and that it is going to be very difficult to dressage in a not-dressage saddle.

For the first one, while my position needs a lot of work, and Amber and I need to work on more lean muscle for her than sprint muscle, she just might be ready to begin introductions to slightly higher crossrails. She judged the majority of the grids very well. But I think the height for them at the trot and that she needed to stay trotting coupled with that fact that she’s also just not that tall was tough for her. But considering how willing and focused and content she felt at the cavaletti clinic, I think we’re both ready for the next steps in learning and developing and growing, and that something she can jump over will be easier.

I don’t think we look half bad; it’s more jump position but we’ll work on it

I also realized that since I’ve really never dressaged in my life (though I’m used to longer stirrups and deeper seats from western) I am going to have to fight myself a lot if I try to dressage in a jump saddle. Not that it couldn’t be done, but since I’ve never learned to ride dressage, I think I’ll get very muddled if I try it in my jump saddle. It’s really what kick-started my search for a dressage saddle as well as reworking some goals I’d made.

About a month ago, I had a big working cow horse goal. There’s a new show – only 2 or 3 years old now – that is specifically for the colts that were trained and sold through CSU’s Legend of Ranching program. The goal was I’d enter Amber in the maturity class in reining and working cow for perhaps a little money, and to get in touch with the people who sold her back to me as well as have a good look at colts going through the sale that year.

But CSU is 12 hours away. And the show wouldn’t be until the end of April 2018. And I’m really excited about eventing right now. I originally thought to do all the western now because then we could focus on eventing with those goals out of the way, but what if we only do eventing for 3 years? I can absolutely go back to western and start more cow work and plan to go to the maturity show when she’s 10. And I actually like that idea better. If she can’t do it for more than a few years, now we’ll have a different plan and set of shows to go to so I’m not sitting there after eventing thinking “now what?”

Oh haaaaay

So, now I’ve been reworking my goals. Which is actually really really strange for me. I absolutely hate writing goals down because it makes them feel so….permanent. Like if you don’t do them you’re a failure. But I’ve been really trying to change the way I think about them, like they’re more reminders of what you’re working towards. Which is how most people probably view them but I look at them and sometimes it feels like MUST DO THEM OR YOU FAIL AT LIFE.

Goals are why I hate those work questions of “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” And I try to Adult and be diplomatic and not say, “Who the hell knows, because I sure don’t. I could tell you what I’ll do with my horse in 5 years, but for myself? No idea. I just want to make enough to support my addiction.” Which, you know, that’ll never fly. Soooo….

True story

I’ve made attainable goals for myself to help the “look where you’re going” instead of “this is mandatory” to hopefully complete by the end of the year:

  • Fix my FEAS. This is Fixed Elbow and Arm Syndrome (it’s not an official thing, but just go with it). And boy do I have that bad. Part of it is because of western – hand low in front of the pommel to neck rein, other arm up in horsemanship position. But the really bad aspect of this is that when I get to English, I hold my hands at the base of her withers (ick) and flap my elbows out to (somehow) help me balance as we canter (double ick). So I desperately need to fix that. Can I raise my arms and have them independent of me for western? Sure! But the two arms together for English are horribly uncoordinated. Work on that will start PRONTO.
  • Head over to a friend’s barn and have some super fun on their mini jump course there by late August perhaps September. Not as many times as we can, because let’s face it I have no time, but at least once.
  • Get my position to where I can independently go into correct 2 point without leaning on her neck with my hands. I’ve noticed my old hunter habits coming back and I don’t think I was always challenged to keep my hands independent when I was younger so lots of work on that.
  • Get a dressage saddle.
  • Potentially enter a local club’s h/j show. The very low divisions and potentially start schooling those classes to get her familiarized with it.
  • Really work on both of our fitness.
  • School a dressage or western dressage show. Or both. I know, whaaaaat? Well, you know. Show miles and all. But since we’ve done a lot of reining, I feel that although her head is low we’ve got some of the basics down, so why not?
  • Get a dressage/jumping lesson and sign up for the Master Dressage webinar series. Mary Wanless is absolutely amazing, and I love their way of teaching/riding/training dressage.

This is quite a tall order for me, but I’m going to take it one day at a time. These all seem pretty attainable to me, and even if life gets in the way and one or two of these don’t happen, that’s fine. I’m thinking the things that might not happen are the shows because of life and money, but I’m actually kind of excited about this. We’ll see how it all goes.

 

The GSH

I know I posted about my show clothes just recently, but we all know how that can change. And mine has. Not for my jump or western saddle though – keeping those without a doubt. But I had originally mentioned that I wanted to get a Bates Isabell saddle used.

Not a bad looking saddle right? And I loved the fact it had an adjustable gullet – it was my main reason for looking at it. You know, in case Amber ends up loathing eventing or we can only do it a few years so I buy another horse….. That way it’ll fit both. The CAIR concept was interesting, and I really liked the aspects that the stirrup bar rolled back so you can more easily get your leathers on the saddle, and the thigh blocks were velcroed – so if you have hip issues like I do and dressage is difficult, you could move the blocks to better accommodate your leg.

Also, the second main reason – it came in brown.

It’s a wee bit lighter than I’d prefer in brown, but with a bit of oil or conditioning, I’m sure it’d darken nicely. The Isabell is the more expensive model (go figure) but as I was browsing the used ones I liked, they were still a bit higher than I was expecting. So I puttered around, found some absolutely GORGEOUS Devoucoux saddles like this one

and this one (my personal fav)

and it got me thinking. Even used these Devoucoux saddles were not doable, but I was surprised that there were more than a few brown ones. So just as a curiosity I looked up some Prestige saddles. Because I love my jump saddle, it fits Amber so well and I actually know her size – no need to get saddle fitters and tons of demo saddles, and we both love the latex panels. There were a few in brown, but the majority were black. The strange thing? Most were cheaper than the Bates! About half of them were in my price point, and at least 3/4 of those I really liked.

Then, I stumbled upon this beauty: it was used and had absolutely everything I was looking for. Except it was black.

Just the right width!

And it tickled a memory in the back of my mind – both Bates dressage and a Prestige dressage saddle had been at Rolex. And I sat in both. I remember sitting in the Bates, feeling not too impressed and my hips feeling strained. Then I saw the Prestige – maybe even this model – and I knew I shouldn’t sit in it, but I did. It was bliss. My ass had spoken. Plus, it didn’t seem to hurt my hips. And the super less stressful part – I already know all the specs I need to make a used Prestige saddle work for Amber. As much as I love love love that chocolate Devoucoux, thinking about figuring out just how wide I’d need it, and if their wide was similar to Prestige’s wide, or what seat size I am, and needing a trial for it since I’ve never even sat in a Devoucoux just made my head hurt. I’ve resigned myself that when it comes to saddles I’ll probably have to order new – for the brown factor as well as that Amber doesn’t have a difficult back in terms of odd fit – she’s just wide as hell.

Exhibit A – because is it just me or does her butt look like a hippopotamus’ here?!

Yeah, she wears a 36 cm tree in Prestige. If I am correct the widest they make saddles is 37. That is one wide horse. But that used saddle gave me hope since everything was perfect on it except that it was black. Maybe I could find a used one even though I have such a tall order.

So, I reached out to a good friend of mine who not only works at a tack shop that carries Prestige but has a Prestige jump and dressage saddle for her OTTB. She was super generous to offer to reach out to her contacts to see if they had anything in my specs. I’ll still be obsessively perusing sale sites, but I’m kind of excited. I’ll probably have to settle for black, but at this point, I’m finding myself not really minding. I mean, it means more tack and other matchy-matchy things, right? And honestly, that Prestige is a hell of a lot prettier than the Bates. Just sayin.

So, the Great Saddle Hunt has officially begun.

Review: Basic Brushing Boots

Maybe I should start calling these Review Wednesdays or something because for some reason I seem to have posted a lot of reviews on Wednesdays. All except two of my reviews were posted on a Wednesday. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a life on Tuesdays? Yeah, that’s probably it. Although I don’t have a social life pretty much all the other days either…. but on to the review.

I bought these basic brushing boots sometime in 2016. Probably around October or November. I’ve used them and used them hard, and so far, I really like them.

My favorite thing about these is the gel insert in the middle panel on the inside of the boot. This way if a horse knocks his leg with his foot, the gel absorbs the majority of the impact. This way, your horse’s ligaments and tendons and cannon bones stay safe. So far these have remained very breathable and they clean up well.

I also really enjoy their price point. At only $20 for a pair – and I got mine for $16 a pair on sale – they really feel like a steal. The picture above was taken after a ride, and since I do not close my boots tightly, they did slip down a little. Both pairs are size medium. The medium is a little big on her front legs, but I think the medium fits her hind legs very well. Unfortunately, I don’t think the boots come in small – just medium and large.

The four Velcro straps are a little tedious, but it doesn’t really bother me. I find that these are my go-to boots when I’m having a taxing ride or lunging the horses when they haven’t been out for a few days. Whisper is prone to knocking herself when she gets excited while lunging, so these are a staple for all 4 legs when I lunge her. Amber is pretty smart about her legs but when she’s in a playful mood when we lunge it’s either all four feet or the back ones.

Yep. Very playful

For most everyday things, I really like using these boots. You do need to be careful with how tight you fasten them because there isn’t any elastic in the Velcro straps. They’ve held up well to my abuse and the Vegas red dirt, and while the white will never stay truly white unless you probably wash them with bleach, I think they’re a great boot for the price.

There’s no real “magic” to them, but I like these better than the Pro Choice SMB boots as well as many other splint boots. I think that gel insert provides a lot better protection against cold splints and potential soft tissue injuries. For me, it’s a great deal!

The finer things in life

Yesterday was a long work day, but the best part about it was that I knew I could hop on Amber shortly after I got home. It’s what kept me going the whole day. It ended up being so gusty by the time I got home that we had to close the south and west doors, but I decided to saddle her up anyway.

I just wanted a short hack, something to get her muscles moving but nice and simple after such a good work the previous day. Plus at the other place she wouldn’t have been rideable at all, so I also wanted to give her a quick but confidence building ride. Before we used to ride in wind like this all the time, but those trees and being unable to see has really made her wary so it was a good way to see how she’d do (which she’s always fine in an open space so I dunno why I’m so determined to think she’ll lose her marbles). And riding gives me the happy feels so we rode.

When she decides to pose she really pulls it off….

It was a short, slow walk, trot and canter a little bit session. She was just a teensy bit jumpy in the beginning, and though she kept looking outside of the arena, she felt much more relaxed even when the big gusts came. We practiced a teensy bit of canter, some jogging and some loose rein trotting. We worked on a couple lateral steps, though those really weren’t very good it gave her something to think about. Plus I realized I didn’t have spurs. Those would have helped enormously for the few lateral steps but whatever. Good chill ride.

Then of course it was time to be photogenic.

That sweet sweet eye

So far she’s settling really well. She doesn’t care about the huge trains that come close by – it helps that there’s no cross streets so the trains never really blow their whistle. Plus we’re pretty sure we’re close to a depot, because trains coming in are pretty slow as are the trains going out. All in all you hardly notice them.

It is wonderful to be able to monitor her hay, to do her water myself and to fluff up her stall whenever I damn well please. I really missed being able to do that with her. Now that she sees me a lot she’s less inclined to maul me for scratches, but now she mauls me for treats. It’s really my fault. I just see her and she looks so cute and I just say “Oh here have a cookie” and give her a treat. Plus, while she loved the butterscotch treats I gave her, I bought the Purina apple flavored, bean shaped treats and I think she’s in love. And that weirdo bites them in half. Yep.

You’re the weird one mom; it’s all lies. I is sweet

But even with the small ride yesterday, it is awesome to just take her out, the arena is maybe 15-20 steps away from the barn, we ride, untack, and in the house I go. It is so nice to have her right there again. It really works for us because we don’t ever go anywhere, but we do have a few good friends who would be more than willing to help out if we needed.

Amber loves being able to see. Most of the time she is either inside in the shade and looking outside or outside and gazing at the warehouses across the tracks or whatever is to the south of her. Whisper took a long time to settle. We were quite worried about her for the weekend, but thankfully it looked like by yesterday evening she was finally starting to really settle. We think she got a little herdy so it’s just going to take time with her having her own side to accept being alone again.

Otherwise, I’m loving having them in the back. I go out there just to stare at her sometimes or stalk her through the windows. Poor Amber probably thinks I’m super weird.

I is tired; dis ride be bullshit ma

I actually found an acupuncture, chiropractic vet in town! I know her from our club, and I really trust her opinion so I’m very excited and pleased to find someone that I know is very knowledgeable and that I trust. She’s going to come Sunday to take a look at Amber and hopefully get in an acupuncture session. Amber’s not really off per say, but now that we’re on flatter surfaces again I wonder if her SI may just be really tight because I can’t seem to massage it out. Her right hind is still short sometimes, but especially now that her right knee feels better her shoulder muscles are developing better on that side as well. And relaxing those developing muscles never hurts. It’s more preventative and to help her feel better, but that’s always the best way, yeah?

Whoever said “how do you make a small fortune in horses? Start out with a large fortune” had it right. But I certainly didn’t start out with a large fund, so….yay for broke horse owners.

Seriously, I needed all of these yesterday. And Friday. And probably today.

Whirlwind weekend

They’re here!

Okay, had to get that out for you guys. They’ve been at home since Saturday morning. But more on that later. Also, be prepared for a photo dump because I was able to get tons of media this weekend.

As a weekend recap we’ll start by saying Thursday was a late night and it did not set me up for success on Friday. I even dreamed that I was crying trying to shut off my alarm, before waking up and realizing that was why I was dreaming about alarms. Unfortunately, I also work the front desk. I need to be polite and personable and people for some reason lose their shit when I have a day when I want to go be alone and not talk to or see anyone for the whole day. Which honestly is most days, but I am always pleasant on an early day because I can see and ride my pony after work. But whatever, I digress. I’m not a morning person, I’m not a “let’s hang with people all day” person and I’m not a “let’s always do stuff together in the evenings” type of person, but I’m a generally happy person. Which could be why they freak out, but seriously guys, it’s not the end of the world. It’s not that I don’t get angry and grumpy and upset and pissy about things, I just usually do that around good friends and I try not to bring that to work. However, I got pretty pissed Friday because freaking adults can’t act like responsible adults.

So enter retail therapy FTW.

Those of us bloggers and readers who follow Amanda Chance know she has told us about her sock collection numerous times, and as I reading an older post of hers, there they were popping up again. So “FINE I’LL GO LOOK AT THEM” and it promptly turned into one of the best parts of my day. I mean seriously, who doesn’t want socks like these?

Or these awesome ones?

 

Or what about this one that totally pertains to me?

You can buy them here for $10; a little pricey for socks probably but hell I love them already and I don’t even have them yet. Pretty sure I just spent about $100 on socks. I mean, I do actually need new socks, so this was totally justified. Because these had me in stitches. Absolutely made my day so much better. So really, I needed these.

The other best part was my mom texting me that she called our final inspector, and he answered that it was okay if we bring the horses early! Because of paperwork needing to go to 3 different departments, and the county is never fast with these things, I was completely resigned to have to wait until the 28th, maybe even the 1st of July before we could move them. It was so nice to be surprised! So it worked out that we’d already put mats down, smoothed out the sand, and I had a desire to grab some hay from our local shop Thursday evening. I mean, why not be prepared? Good thing I was, because usually I’m a procrastinate-till-the-last-second type of person.

So after work I met my mom at another local shop and grabbed shavings and a few other odds and ends we needed. Saturday we gave them a quick bath since we’ve got a bit of work to do before our wash area will be usable, said goodbye to our good friends and headed home.

We lunged them in the new arena and they absolutely loved it. It took a bit for Amber to settle in, and she was especially temperamental when we took Whisper away to lunge her. Even though she can see her it was horrible if they weren’t across from each other. Horse logic I suppose? Whisper was fine at first, then something kind of startled her and she didn’t settle for the rest of the day.

My mom agreed to go with me to photograph the clinic. I got the videos from my lesson, but the resolution is all messed up so it’s this blob of blur happening and you really can’t see anything. My phone takes awesome res photos, so I was happy to have her there to take plenty of pics so I could see all that needs work.

Like this one

It was a really good clinic. There was only one other person there since the others had to reschedule for various reasons, but 3 of Instructor’s students were there as well, so it was a really good time of feedback, encouragement and horsemanship. The grids were a lot more challenging this time, and it really had us working. Instructor also incorporated many different body positions to help improve balance and to give us even more of a challenge.

Sometimes we get it right. My hand tho….

Amber was a charm. Considering the move just a day prior, I was a little nervous that she’d be distracted since I hadn’t ridden her since Monday, but from the moment I hopped on she was extremely rideable and ready to work. She definitely remembered from last time, but still had to knock the poles a few times before she realized they had height difference and she had to be a little more focused and judge them better. Overall though she was fantastic. Although I haven’t gotten to ride her this past week, we felt more in sync than we did at the last clinic. It’s weird because while there weren’t as many ah-ha moments like the last time and though we felt more connected, we were a little more wobbly on some things but it felt good. You know what I mean?

She misjudged a few of the cavaletti a few times, especially the fan one. When she got a little tripped up she did this tiny canter and got herself out of it. While she wasn’t supposed to canter, she was smart with her footwork so I’m actually quite proud of her for it. After those two times she had a split second to canter and totally switched up her feet mid-poles and completely worked it out. I was super proud of her for that too. At the moment, it’s little things, and I’m honestly happy that she’s being smart with her footwork and really trying and committing to going for it instead of backing off and giving up. And she so wants to please and do it right.

Whee let’s canter
Another “whoops canter” moment
Started a half canter step in….
Fixed her footwork….
And came out nicely

I’m crouched a little low – all my old hunter habits coming back as well as I’m just not body strong yet at all – and my hands and elbows and feet and everything isn’t perfect, but it’ll all come with time, work and shorter stirrups. I’m slowly putting them up since I’m currently used to western stirrup length, so it’s all a work in progress. But it still felt really good today.

I think she’s secretly part Hackney pony….

It was really nice to see just how much this little girl wants to leave those poles alone. She was absolutely fantastic and I couldn’t be prouder of her with this outing. It also really showed that even with those strange days last week, we actually look a little better than last time, and for sure I feel like we did better. We had more misses, but it really drove home the good feelings when we got it right.

What also really impressed me was how honest she was even after she felt like she was nearing her limit. Twice she really tripped from not judging the height of the pole correctly, and due to my light hold on the reins she took them out of my hands, but there was no doubt she was finishing the grid. I just sat back and she got herself up then finished the grid with her ears pricked. It was a kind of “crap” moment for me, so I just sat back and didn’t do anything, but I was so proud of her for catching herself and still going. It was just really nice to know that she was so honest through it. It was a proud mom moment. Plus, she really felt like she was driving with her butt the whole ride. Most of the “pushing off of hind end and going through the back” things I’ve read have had the lower hind leg angle match the opposing forearm angle.

I mean, that hind leg reach….

We weren’t in frame most of the time, but I feel that that will come in time as long as I am diligent to keep her forward and working off her butt. Although her butt really doesn’t need any more muscle….

I know, I’m probably gushing way too much and making you guys roll your eyes but I was so damn pleased with her Sunday. We even absolutely nailed two canter to trot transitions to go directly into a grid and stop. I was so proud of my baby girl.

I really had plans for the rest of the day, but I really got nothing done. There was a Get Smart marathon on, so I just sat on the couch and watched that and went to bed at 9. I know, I’m old, but I think all of us get there at one point. Today is going to be another long work day and hopefully I can hack around tonight in the new arena.

Randomness and ramblings

Well, yeah cause there’s really nothing going on here. Since the barn is done, we’ve just been doing odds and ends around it. The grader finished the arena. It is gorgeous and I can’t wait to ride in it.

Our QAA inspector came by and checked us off as good to go. We put mats down and I think it looks pretty darn good, but we still need to wait for the county inspector.

We also had the grader put some of the arena sand in the runs since our ponies love sleeping outside and the pad was hard packed. So we worked on smoothing it out. Hello softness!

The garage door company worker popped by and installed a garage door for our feed room. It’s going to make unloading bales much easier for everyone and looks good.

Sunday is our third cavaletti clinic, and I’m pretty pumped for that. We haven’t been able to really do much prep work for it in the past two weeks, but I think it will be okay. If nothing else, maybe I can snag a ride at our new arena to prep for Sunday. We’ll see how that turns out.

Otherwise it’s all the legwork now that the barn is done – installing something like chicken wire to keep the bunnies out of the hay room, figuring out what hay supplier to use, putting in bridle and saddle stands/racks, putting up wood around the base of the stalls, figuring out dumpster sizes, figuring out fly control, that sort of stuff. We’ll see what we can get done this weekend.

Thanks for being my headrest….

And, since we’ll be organizing the tack room, I’ll be going through my things and you know what that means….. Tack Sale! So hopefully sometime soon I’ll have a tack sale post to get rid of everything I don’t need/want anymore so I can make room for new stuff. But I’m starting to do that for all of my riding clothes as well. Not only trying to get more matchy things, but also to slowly replace my summer wardrobe with really good sun shirts. I’m super excited to get my Presto It’s a Haggerty’s sun shirt. They have so many custom options that I just may need to fill my soon-to-be-depleted wardrobe with them….

So yeah, nothing very exciting. Although I have to admit that my inner OCD is squealing with glee over the fact that I get to pick my own bridle rack, choose its height, put my bridles up exactly how I want them, not have a hard time keeping my saddles covered, organize EVERYTHING. Yeah, it’s a curse. But all of us riders have some of that, am I right? Right now though, it’s cheers to the freakin weekend.

2017 Show Outfits

Amanda and Emma have done these posts and I love reading them because I love seeing what everyone uses and loves and it gives me reasons to spend money great ideas on stuff to use. Also, all of my posts so far have really featured english, which is where I’m going but I thought it would be a lot of fun to show you guys my western show clothes as well.

For all of you traditional hunter (maybe jumper) people, you might want to shield your eyes.

For the most part, I’m a traditionalist, too. I love the classic hunter look and the sometimes outside-the-box look for jumpers. But western introduced me to colors and fun and BLING. And I have to admit that I really love bling. Not over the top stuff (have you SEEN some of those show shirts that cost like $2,000?! Yes, that’s 3 zeros), but occasionally there will be this thing of crazy bling or color that I love. Western really let me have fun with the sparkles.

SPARKLE

I have a custom show hat by Shorty’s Custom Hattery in camel color. It really only “goes” with my brown outfit, but I think it works fine for the others. I usually wear Ariat boots either brown or black and some small roweled spurs and fun spur straps. No clue what the brand is for the spurs/spur straps.

My chaps are from Hobby Horse, and they’re the microsuede, super lightweight ones. I got my brown and black pairs on a super good Halloween sale, and I wear a brown/black pair of Irideon tights underneath them. Those pairs have belt loops so there’s no issue with me adding a belt.

I have 2 Hobby Horse show shirts (tigris and French blue) and one that I found on eBay for a steal (royal/black). I got the French blue shirt for a steal as well, and forked over some money for the tigris since it was my first love and remains my all time favorite show shirt.

To go with those show shirts I have 3 Mayatex show pads. All of them are the thin wool pads and I use an Impact gel contoured felt pad underneath all of them.

My saddle is a KO Trading Company elite cowhorse saddle, and while it doesn’t have any silver on it, I like it just fine with the nice tooling. I didn’t want silver on my saddle for daily use (ugh, all that polishing), so it’s plain. Her show headstall is from Rodeo Drive, along with the royal blue/champagne Swarovski crystal buckles and silver accents. Her bit is simple: a Tom Balding or Billy Allen bit (it goes under both names). It has a short shank and a “Myler” mouthpiece and she loves it, so she shows and schools in it. As for reins they’re just thin, generic split reins. I have no idea what brand they are.

We’ll be showing in these in the Sept-Nov shows because I still have a few reining goals I want to fulfill before we really jump into eventing, but yay for sparkles! (I know, I’m sorry, it’s a lot of bling).

Right now for English we’ll just be doing HUS in the Sept-Nov shows. I’d love to do some jumper classes but I don’t think we’ll be ready for those before September. I have my new Equine Athletics show coat and Roeckl navy gloves to wear that I am very excited about. I have 2 pairs of tan Devon-Aire breeches that I show in (although I’m hoping to replace those soon), and I actually show in paddock boots and half chaps. During the summer I have a white Ariat show sunstopper shirt. My current paddocks are old (like 5-10 years) so I’m planning to replace them with Ariat Heritage III or Ariat V sport zip paddock boots. I believe my half chaps are Ariat Concord half chaps with leather on the outside, a back zipper and suede on the inside. I use these only for showing. My helmet is an Ovation schooler with a black helmet cover over it. Yep. Classy. I’d love to get more of those jox socks but I use absolutely nothing special.

Most of the stuffs

With our new tack I will show her in our Prestige Sinead shoulder-free saddle with my mom’s generic silver stirrups. The all black stirrups will probably not fly in the hunter ring, and a monoflap is probably questionable, but it’s the last 3 local shows of the season and it’s the saddle that fits her so that’s what we’re doing. I’ll show her in the Flying Change bridle even though the hunter gods will probably not like that either. At least I’m not adding my bling browband…. I’ll change out my Thinline reins for my 64″ Ovation laced reins. When Amber has her head in QH HUS position I can barely get a loop in the reins even with Warmblood sized. I currently don’t have a leather girth that works for her. I’m looking at the Nunn Finer Passage but who the hell knows. She used to ride in a loose ring sweet iron jointed snaffle, and now she rides in a loose ring sweet iron snaffle with the Myler mouthpiece. Not too much change there.

I’m slowly acquiring things for future eventing, but I am actually looking towards brown tack for dressage. I have my eyes on the Bates saddles (for many reasons). For xc and show jumping I have a few things now, but ultimately our colors will be navy and light blue because it’s our barn colors, and Amber just looks fantastic in blue. Opposite ends of the color wheel and all, you know?

Anyway, that’s about it! Ah, sorry for the bombardment of sparkles…. JK. Totally not sorry.

Review: Roma Ecole circle/star quilt A/P pad

You’ve seen these pads in a few of my posts, and I’ve had them for around 9 months now, so I figure it’s a good time frame to give them a review.

Photo from Amazon

So far, I’ve really enjoyed these pads. What caught my eye first was the wick-easy feature. Amber sweats buckets all the time, so I was hunting for saddle pads that would help wick away moisture to keep her cool and bumped into these. You can see the brownish-gold tint on the underside that marks the moisture-wicking fabric. I like that that fabric is light, and is also not white on the underside of their white pad.

I currently have 3 colors: hunter green/navy and gold and white with light blue/royal piping. I of course love matching and love fun colors, so their huge variety of colors works for many people. Although I just got white, hunter and navy so not really crazy colors here… I really like the way the pads wear; they wash up well. Just look at this white one:

Absolutely disgusting
All clean!

The white one washed up well after Amber sweat like crazy in the previous pic. This was done in an HE washer tho with color-safe detergent, so I think in a regular washer it would’ve gotten a little cleaner. The black is from my half chaps, but over all the pads are doing very well.

I also really like the contour of the spine. Another A/P pad I have doesn’t have this contour, and it does not fit Amber well. Her back is too wide, but with the contour on these pads being front AND back, it allows the pad to sit much better under Amber’s saddle.

The only strange thing is that if you look up the navy and hunter green pads, the pictures (as seen above) show gold threads all throughout the pad. I bought the green one and the white one together, and my sister got me the navy one for Christmas. But the navy pad doesn’t have the stitching in gold all over the pad like the green one. Strange. I do wish the navy had the gold, but I never returned it because I didn’t want my sis to go through the hassle. Plus I didn’t have to pay for it it was a gift, and regardless I still like the pad. (Still love that top photo tho)

So far, I’ve noticed their wicking feature to work. It doesn’t leave them cool to the touch and no sweat, but I noticed on the edges of the pad where the air could get in it left her less sweaty and looking more comfortable than a few other pads. Plus, they dry in a snap. I can leave it out for 5 minutes after a pretty sweaty ride and it’s already almost dry. I do very much enjoy that because, you know, whatever’s easiest. They’re not very thick; perhaps a little lighter than many quilted pads, but definitely not as thin as a baby pad. By the way, in case you’re wondering, I took a seam ripper and removed the billet straps from mine. The pads do come with them, but since my saddle is a monoflap there is not reason for me to keep them. They just get in the way.

These pads are very easily obtained via Amazon for around $35. Most of the colors have Prime, so you can save on shipping and grab a few from there. They’re super fun to match, and I’m still loving using them. I give them 4 out of 5 stars.

Heat management….

Not so much. Especially with temps like this.

 

And yes, that is an excessive heat warning issued Monday morning until Friday. Granted, we don’t usually have humidity over 20%, so it’s not as muggy as Texas or the east coast, but it’s still an oven. So we were up and at the barn by 730 and ready to go. My mom kindly took a video for me – although it’s probably because she got to sit in the shade while doing so.

Stahhhhhp; this saddle already makes my butt look big!

I know we have the typical QH headset and we don’t have the most forward trot, but considering the past few days I’m happy with how responsive she was. I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to grab some lessons to kickstart us further towards eventing. The dressage trainer I want to lesson with has also evented up to Prelim, so I’m hoping I can do some jumping with her as well. I might have found a place with a little cross country course. Otherwise, I’ll just try to place natural objects on the empty lots around us and see how that goes.

We actually had to go back to the barn around 3 to hose the horses off again because we didn’t have a lot of air flow yesterday to combat the heat:

Amber’s stall is enclosed with trees and belting so it keeps the light breezes out and poor girl was sweating badly Sunday evening even at 730 at night. The owner recently put in misters, but the misters don’t help if there’s no airflow. I have to say neither of them were amused to be wet again.

Amber has one hell of a side glare

She doesn’t like getting wet unless a bath with her magical-scratchy-mit is included. Then she is more than happy to be pampered if there’s scratches involved. But it helped cool them off. And now for 115 today…..

Completed….ish

Well, not much went on this weekend but it was a good one nonetheless. Friday afternoon I did a very bad thing: I tried on breeches. I know, I know, it shouldn’t be bad, right? But I’ve been eyeing this pair for a while at our local tack shop, and finally just tried them on. And now I want them.

They don’t look like much, but they sparkle. I’ve had this plan that whenever I buy a pair of full seat breeches for dressage schooling they’ll be something loud and different. These are Pikeur Elina silicone full seat breeches, and I think they look great. Plus, the sparkles are FUN.

No, I didn’t buy them. But I found them cheaper online. Aaaaaaand still haven’t bought them. I dunno, as much as I love these I really want something loud. Although I would totally consider these in white for shows because everyone knows that sparkles make your dressage look better and more fun. Well, verdict is still out on the last one but if Pikeur made these in a dark teal or a pretty rust or a bright coral….. I’d have 3 pairs at the moment.

That night I rode and I was really pleased. It could totally be because I bribed her with the promise of cookies, but I’ll take it. We rode for probably a grand total of five minutes, but she was really trying, really wanting to listen and it was heads and shoulders above Wednesday and Thursday. So I loosened her girth, took her back up and gave her an apple core with a huge handful of treats.

Saturday I just lunged and hosed the horses since High Desert officially finished the barn! Everything was completed and I have to say it looks gorgeous. We just keep going outside and remarking on how good it looks.

Whisper’s side
Amber’s side
Back sliding door looking to the house
Nice and airy inside
Tie rails also installed in front on both sides

As much as we want to move in right away, our grader still needs to come and spread the arena sand, which should be completed Tuesday. Our QAA inspector is coming today to make sure that everything matches the plans and permits – from the size and depth of the holes (which he did before concrete was poured) to making sure every weld and measurement is up to code. He’s stricter than the county inspector, who hopefully can make it out here sometime during the week. I’m hoping by Friday but with paperwork and how slow that can be, I’m not holding my breath.

Sunday I rode and made up a grid, and it finally felt like we could work on what we learned last Saturday. She was really super and I was really pleased. I worked on my position, then worked on getting her rhythmic through the grid and soft. She did so well and I gave her another huge handful of well deserved treats.

Tiny, but what we got for now

Then we worked on the “ramp” to the barn pad for the majority of the afternoon, starting up the loader and packing the dirt, then settled down to watch Batman for Father’s Day. And not any Batman movie – the 1966 vintage with Adam West and Burt Ward. And in my opinion, the best Batman and Robin actors. Yup, we’re nerds. But those puns totally made the evening.

Holy heart failure, Batman!

Final parts and pieces

The barn went up really fast yesterday morning. Within a few hours all of the panels were assembled. Those guys work FAST.

They of course had to measure and make sure everything was square and to the right measurements. So far, we’re really happy with these guys. They’ve been very thorough and precise. Unfortunately one of them got sick very early on and the weather took an extensive toll on another worker. The remaining three guys worked through the afternoon, even though the temps were 104+. Because they’ve been down two guys, the boss is coming down to help and they may have to finish everything next week. Most of the grunt work is done; it’s the cutting of the arena posts and capping them; it’s the welding and the roof and the sliding doors; it’s the final checks that need to be done. Then it’s a few days for the inspectors to send in paperwork. Which sets back bringing the horses over, but it is what it is. It’s happening, and that’s all that matters.

It’s a 36×36 barn – 4 stalls and a tack and hay room. Each horse will have their own side and as a result a 12×36 run as well as the run of both stalls. The middle area between tack and feed room will be the wash rack, but we can’t concrete anything yet so that may not happen for a few months. But I’m super excited to get the horses here (if you couldn’t tell).

Amber was….horrible. She started off good, really trying. So I did some lateral steps at the walk and jog, something she knows and I knew she could excel at, and it felt like the start of good things. She felt a little distracted but a lot more “with me.” Then a few people walked their horses on the other side of the trees, they were calling, she couldn’t see them passing, and she never came back to me. It’s so so so unusual for that horse to do that. Even the days she’s been a little looky and spooky, she’s always come back to me. Not today.

She wasn’t wild. She’s never wild. She was just completely out of it. She wasn’t even focusing on the poles I’d set out. She was tense and uptight and it felt terrible. Then she kept hearing one of the horses neighing, so she decided she had to add her vocals to the mix. Then she was okay-ish, and I should’ve stopped it there but I didn’t. I thought I’d let her canter a bit, something she’d excel in to end well, and there was no excelling in that yesterday either. I finally got her pretty rhythmic at the trot once both directions, sort of listening to my aids and called it quits. It was just horrible guys. I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night because my ride was bad and I didn’t sleep well last night either. Hopefully it’ll be okay today, but I’m not excited to ride. Hopefully, the barn is all approved by Wednesday next week at the latest. This was definitely our worst ride in a very long time.

Almost up!

Yesterday felt like we were finally making more progress with everything. It’s been a “hurry up and wait hurry up and wait” for the past couple days with nothing much seeming to get done, and it wasn’t too different yesterday, but still felt like more progress. They finished digging the holes and putting up the arena fence, which looks fantastically huge.

It’s measured at 125×187 at the moment. We have a few extra panels because the length was supposed to be approximately 200ft but if we’d kept the length then we would’ve ended up being on the pipes we’d recently put in so we could run sprinklers. So, it was shortened, but it’s still a great size!

The cement truck finally arrived shortly before I got home, so I got to see them pack the holes and smooth them. My mom and I had originally thought that they’d cement the poles in the concrete but they are actually using anchor plates so they can make sure the barn is completely level. So, it was hurry up and get the cement in, then wait the rest of the day/night for it to cure.

The guys left shortly after 1 when all the holes were filled. I had planned to ride after but that had to take a backseat to the heat. It was only supposed to be 95 but it had climbed up to 101 by 2 and it was still 97 with 6% humidity at 5. We had an excessive heat warning from 11 am to 11 pm. Yay. And I live in the desert why again…? But the guys came back around 6 to cement the arena posts and then set out the panels into the shape of the barn to make it easier to assemble this morning. Looks amazing to me!

Amber is usually never stupid after she’s had time off. She’ll be excited and want to runrunrun! for a little while and then she’s ready to settle into work. But, as I witnessed Saturday, even with peacocks, an animal she’d never seen before, she was calmer and more focused than when I hopped on yesterday. I realized just how uptight she was. She was fluid on Saturday as we warmed up to the work, putting her brain into the work and really feeling like we were going somewhere. But last night she was so tense she felt like she was going to explode. Back were the horse eating monsters in the trees.

She was not amused with my shenanigans

I had set out just 4 poles. They weren’t elevated but they were spaced to make her reach. I wasn’t planning to ride for long, just something easy, but guys this ride made me really depressed. I worked with her more on just settling, using the tools that Instructor had suggested on Saturday, and very slowly she began to focus more. She was backed off and looky trotting the poles to the wall of trees, and then nearly zooming the other way going to the gate and away from the trees.

Perhaps some of the “calming” work we’ve begun would’ve helped me the other Sunday, but now I’m not so sure. She was tense and tight and she never settled. She wanted to look for the grid and I know she wanted to be good. She never wants to displease you. I know that horses have to work even when they’re unhappy, and they have to develop work ethic and I felt her throw a bit of attitude Saturday, but this was a totally different feeling. She’s been nervous, and she anticipates, but guys she felt horrible last night. She felt so unhappy. And it’s so depressing in lieu of how good Saturday was. Before, I would’ve told you that I have never felt her this about-to-jump-out-of-her-skin as she was yesterday, but I’m realizing that I’ve felt her this way for a good few months now. And I feel doubly guilty because I’ve kept her here in a place where I’m just realizing now how unhappy she is.

Photos do not amuse her

She felt all wrong last night. She did the work, and she tried, but she felt afraid. I did not like it at all. And I am remembering what I said on Monday – that she felt a lot more like the Amber I’d had a year ago. It was a big open arena that we rode in on Saturday, with one short side having trees, but she could see through them. Here, the arena is small, a disheveled oval space, and maybe only a fourth of it isn’t blocked by something. Slowly but surely, she developed a fear of this arena.

I don’t like pushing “human emotions/conditions” on horses, but I wonder if she’s getting claustrophobic. She was never wild last night, but her “forward” was “omgomgomgomgwhatisthiswhatisTHISohgodit’sbehindmeandohokayIcanseeoutofhereohCRAPIcan’tseeanymoreWHYARETHETREESMOVINGANDTHATOBJECTISMAKINGNOISE”. Saturday she was truly forward. Part of me knows she’s not spooky and that I should really work with her to just get over it (because she’ll have to if I want to do xc), but the other part of me hesitates. The water tank is right by the arena, and the owner will check on it frequently and pop up every now and then and then the bunnies and snakes rustle in the underbrush, and the bottom of the arena has belting on it so she can’t really see anywhere.

OMG do you have PINE NEEDLES to feed me?! I am SO STARVED

I don’t know. Do you think I am making excuses, guys? What’s your opinion? I take caring for her physical and mental health so seriously. I want her happy and healthy and enjoying her job. And she hasn’t felt like she’s been enjoying much of anything recently. I did feel her begin to shift focus and listen to me last night, and while that was better than we started, I still feel really discouraged. But, our barn will be done soon. She’ll probably be in our backyard Wednesday of next week at the latest. So I want to continue working and calmly using those new exercises to shift her focus, but I’m not sure if it’s “worth it” to push it since we’ll be moving soon. What to do? Based on how she’s been with more open arenas, I think she’s become petrified of this one.

What do you all suggest? What would you do in this situation?

Review: Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Dressage Girth

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 swear the girth is there….

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.

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!