Lies I’ve Been Told While Saddle Shopping

We all know that saddle shopping can very nearly be a fate worse than death. While I am still trying to sell my Dressage saddle (thus now actively buying anything), I thought it might be helpful to share some of the very bad advice I got from professional saddle fitters while shopping (and some good stuff).

The Lies

Your Draft Cross Must Have a Hoop Tree with an XXW Setting

No joke. My first Albion was stretched from a MW to an XXW. At that point, there was no going back with it, so I sold it once I realized that my horse really wasn’t THAT wide. (This was after ignoring May’s crow hopping after big jumping efforts and the saddle nearly sliding under her stomach in a clinic with the non slip girth pulled up as tight as it would go.) For the record, the horse does have withers.

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The Longer Panels Will Just Stabilize The Saddle on Your Horse

May has a short back, and I need a bigger seat size. As a result, we need short panels. Why? Because there is no way that you can twist physics that will make panels stabilize the back of a saddle without exerting any pressure on the weak portion of my horse’s back… but thanks for trying?

Bigger Blocks Will Make You Feel More Secure

You know what actually makes me feel more secure? A saddle that has a good balance and helps me put my leg around the horse. Most of the time, blocks are not in the PERFECT place (yes, even though velcro blocks).

That Swelling Cannot Be Due to this Special Spring Tree

After receiving one saddle sent to me by a rep to try, I felt it was too tight a fit right behind the withers. The rep asked for pictures, and she said that the Spring Tree will make up for that minor issue. Three days later? My horse was visibly swollen behind her withers and that saddle rep no longer seemed interested in helping me.

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Fun Fact: A spring tree cannot correct this level of Nope.

You Can’t Do Dressage Comfortably in a Jump Saddle

Fun fact, a jump saddle that fits you well is actually pretty comfortable for lower level Dressage work. If May and I suddenly decide that second level Dressage is something we want to pursue, I will probably buy a Dressage saddle again. But for now, a well fitting jump saddle will suit us just fine.

Whenever You Want to Sell This Saddle – It Will Go FAST

Wish I had just sold my Dressage saddle when I found a jump saddle to fit. It’s a great saddle but clearly fulfills a pretty specific need. Now that I really need to sell it, it is getting almost no attention.

The speed at which that saddle is selling…

The Good Tidbits

Your Horse Isn’t As Wide As You Think She Is

I spent A LOT of time looking at extreme hoop trees. I mean like this:

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Then, someone pointed out to me that my horse has withers and a decent, but wide, A frame to her back.

Listen To Your Horse

May has some pretty subtle (and a few) not so subtle clues when things don’t fit. They range from sucking back, to crow hopping, to, in one case, seriously considering throwing the brakes on over a 2′ jump… My opinion, and a professionals opinion, on whether a saddle fit means NOTHING to this mare. Her opinion is the only one that matters.

The Fit For the Riders is JUST AS Important As Fit For the Horse

The first time I heard this, I was convinced this woman was just trying to sell me a saddle. If my horse is comfortable, I can adjust my riding to accommodate for whatever the saddle throws at me. I mean… maybe… but the far more likely scenario is that you end up slightly out of balance all the time, which is not comfortable nor fun for your horse. No matter how well the saddle fits.

What about you? Have you learned any lessons through your adventures in saddle shopping?

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A Surprisingly Good Customer Service Experience

There are times in life where… stuff just happens hahaha. When I put my Dressage saddle up for sale, I cleaned it up, took some quick pics, and threw them on facebook. After a few weeks of no bites, I brought it home for a proper deep clean and glam photo shoot.

That was when I noticed this…

UGH. So I looked back through the other pics… and I clearly should’ve looked closer at them at the time.

Remind you, it has now been WEEKS since I took that second pic… But that didn’t stop me from rifling through the grass at the barn trying to find that tiny screw cover. Not surprisingly, I came away empty handed.

I figured that it was probably worth buying the new piece (if the cost was reasonable), so that I was sending off a 100% intact saddle to a new owner. (IF I EVER FIND A NEW OWNER)

So I shot Stubben’s North American team an email. Mind you, I bought this saddle second hand and not from Stubben… So while I am someone that rides in Stubben saddles, I am not exactly a Stubben customer.

They emailed me back within a couple of hours asking for my address and the serial number of my saddle. I sent both off and waited for the cost. The email I got back, “Thank you! I will see if we have an extra one hanging around, and I will drop it in the mail to you.”

It arrived on Monday and screwed right in, like the original piece. It was pretty refreshing to have a quick and painless interaction with a saddle company.

And since I have no shame, here is a link to the ebay listing again: Click Here

Saddle Fitting Appointment – Loxley by Bliss

Can we discuss how unbelievably dumb this company name is? Bliss of London? Then, let’s drop down the rabbit hole of checking out their website… also bad with a TON of broken links… so when I was looking for a saddle a couple of years ago, I skipped right over them with a solid “nope”.

But they kept rattling around in my head. I had seen their saddles my first year at (what was then) Rolex, and I remember being impressed by the quality and variety. They have multiple tree shapes/widths, which is obviously, something I am always interested in.

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This picture explains most of what I talk about… 

I dug a little deeper. As is true with most custom saddle brands, your experience is more about the rep  you work with, then the actual company. As discussed in my last post… my experience with brand reps has been pretty poor. (I actually loved my Stubben rep though. Great woman!)

So when I looked up the Bliss rep in my area (Kate Wooten), I found a ton of positive feedback. I figured it was worth having a discussion with her at least, so I reached out. It took us a couple of weeks (and a bit of a scramble) to get on each other’s calendar, but we did it on Monday night! First off, apologies for the lack of media, but I was really trying to absorb the whole experience vs. getting content. (Scandalous, I know!)

I am not sure if it was the lack of fancy at my barn, the lack of fancy with my pony, or what, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Kate start at the bottom of the cost ladder for Bliss. Right off the bat, I learned a few things about Bliss: the Loxley saddles are ~$2,500, including any customization you need to make. The bliss saddles go up to about $5,500. Let’s say… $2,500 sounded pretty good for me after touring around $5K+ saddles at LRKY3DE.

However, my expectations were REALLY low. I have sat in some less expensive saddles and… have usually found them pretty disappointing. More on that later though.

The first thing Kate did was take a look at my current saddle on May’s back… and I heard her suck through her teeth.

Kate, “The fit of this saddle is pretty good on her.”
Me, “I know.”
Kate, “She’s pretty short backed.”
Me, “Yup.”
Kate, “You like the 18″ seat?”
Me, “Yup”
Kate, “she’s not as wide up top as you’d expect”
Me, “she’s not”
Kate, “And she has withers”
Me, “She does.”
Kate, “This saddle is really minimal… do you like minimal?”
Me, “My old albion had big blocks that I did really like.”
Kate, “Alright then! Let’s get started!”

And that… is kind of Kate is a nutshell. She’s just super positive (and super British). She thought my fat, short pony was great.

She took a quick tracing of May, just behind the shoulders, in order to grab things that would mostly fit from her truck  minivan. The first saddle she plopped on Mays back was a Loxley Eventer. She explained that this saddle had their medium-deep seat. This one was a traditional, double flap saddle, but it had long billets. I asked about the cost of adding the long billets.

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Not the same saddle, but similar.

“Oh no… no extra cost for any of the customization. We’re more concerned about getting you a saddle that works then adding on fees for things that don’t really cost us anything.”

Well, that’s some marketing line, but I’ll take it. So that first saddle would be ~$2,500 new. Mmmmmk. The saddle was a 17.5″, but she thought I would be ok in the flatter seat. (Everyone says this, it has never been true.) The fit on May was surprisingly good too.

“We’ll order it in an adjustable tree though, so you have some flexibility as she changes shape.”

“How much is that option?”

“Same price.”

Ooooooook. The leather was a bit grippier than what’s on my Stubben. It wasn’t great, buttery calfskin, but it wasn’t hard plasticky junk. I hopped up and… wow it felt like A LOT of saddle under my leg and seat. The balance was good, but everything felt “muffled” with May. Does this make sense? Let me try to explain.

One of my favorite “buttons” on May is a great half halt from my leg. Need to rebalance or prepare for a downward transition? I can close my knees, and she comes back to me. With all the cushion under my knee in this saddle, I lost that half halt. Overall, trotted around for maybe five minutes before heading back over to Kate.

My first thought? This is why I don’t bother trying saddles that are in my budget when new. 

The next saddle was a jump saddle with their flattest seat… and I hated it. I mean,  Kate left the ring to grab another saddle before I had even made it halfway around. The saddle CONSTANTLY shoved me towards the back of it… like all the way to the cantle. It was the oddest thing I had ever felt. May wasn’t super happy about my center of balance moving all over the place, so I hopped off before Kate had even made it back.

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It wasn’t a monoflap, but this seat is similar. 

Alright then… I was now CONVINCED that this was a total waste of time. Maybe they could fit May (everything would have easily fit with some flocking adjustments), but it wasn’t going to be any better for me.

So… Then she pulled out an eventing Monoflap in an 18″. She explained that the flap was wrong for me (it was originally made for a 15 yr old boy), and that the panel isn’t quite right for May (it was a touch long and a touch narrow up front. However, the SHAPE of the tree was really good for her). Either way, Kate wanted me to feel if this feel/balance point was something I liked.

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Again, similar… but not the exact same)

The difference was immediate. The biggest difference? I could SIT on my horse. There was no struggle to move from sitting to half seat. There was no struggle to keep my leg under me. I walked, trotted, cantered, and popped over some small jumps. I didn’t want to jump anything of height because I knew the fit on May wasn’t GREAT, and I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable.

However, the saddle was easy enough to get in and out of over the fences. I didn’t feel like I had to fling myself forward or hold myself back to stay in balance with May. Overall, I was super happy. The cost of the monoflap? $3,300 + taxes. Honestly,  not bad at all.

When I hopped off, I had Kate walk me through where the TREE was vs. just the padding. I flexed back the flap on the saddle to see how much flexibility was offered to May’s shoulders. I was really happy with that, especially given the extra long, extra forward flaps on the version I tried.

We went back to the barn, and I prepared myself for the sales pitch. The “just sign on the dotted line and hand over your credit card” speech. The “you desperately need this saddle” speech. Kate started taking detailed tracings of May’s back, and I felt myself stiffen.

Kate then wrote me out a detailed list of what we had tried and why I didn’t like them, including prices. Then, she went through the order form, and checked off what it would look like, if I ordered something similar to what I liked that day. She handed it to me, gave May a pat, and told me to reach out when I was ready.

I stood blinking at her, as she bounced back out of the barn, giving ponies pats along the way. It’s been 4 days, and she hasn’t reached out to “see what I decided”.

Hilariously, I found out later that a girl I am somewhat connected to just got a saddle that she had ordered from Bliss through Kate. She’s super happy with her purple and black monoflap (it’s a lot for me haha) and indicated that it fit her horse well. It’s no guarantee, but it helps. Either way, I am not in any huge rush, but this one is obviously sitting in the front of my mind.

I reached out to our County rep, but she’s not sure when she’ll be back in the area. Either way, To Be Continued!

Down the Saddle Rabbit Hole

It has been about a year and a half before I declared my Unicorn Saddle Search over… You can ready about the recap in that post here. After that level of struggle, I am seriously hating myself for writing this again but… I am casually saddle shopping again.

I guess I should probably start with the why.

As I pointed out when I bought the saddle, my stubben is very minimal. It is not like the monoflaps you see on 5* horses with decent blocks and a deepish seat. My Stubben has a balance point that’s a bit farther back with very small blocks and slick-ish leather. It is a great saddle for a lot of people, and it even fits May relatively well.

The problem? It doesn’t fit me. Now, this is not Stubben’s fault at all. The saddle they had originally proposed building for me was a Roxanne with a genesis tree in it and half panels. Did the demo of this make my butt sing? Nope. Since I already owned a genesis Dressage saddle, though, I was somewhat comforted that the genesis jump saddle would fit.

Except… the saddle Stubben recommended building for me was quoted at $5,600… before taxes. With no biomex seat, since that made the seat too shallow for my comfort level.

Girl… we all know that Stubbens go used for under $2K… fairly regularly. And again… no butt singing. Obviously, I didn’t order it.

I scoured the internet and managed to find a used genesis in the darker brown color for a very reasonable price. I think I actually ended up making money off of selling the Albion and buying the Stubben (although, after you add up all the shipping costs from trying saddles, I probably wasn’t that lucky.)

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Just kind of gripping with my knee like ER MAH GAWD

And the Stubben has been fine. Totally fine. No crow hopping from May, very limited rocking.

But… it’s really not the right fit for me. My leg swings when I try to sit because of the way it affects my balance. As a result, sitting is HARD. That heavy breathing in all my helmet cam vids? Yeah, that’s literally from the effort it takes to sit.

While I have been relatively happy with my position over fences, it feels very artificial. Not sure that makes sense… when we do complicated grids, I come back too fast, but if I try to stay forward a touch longer, I end up in front of the balance point of my saddle. Does that make more sense?

This video doesn’t really do the feeling justice… but I think you will be able to see what I mean regarding both the sitting issues and the coming back too early stuff.

So at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event… I made it my mission to TOUCH THE BUTTS. Not really, but touch the saddles that butts go in. On Saturday, me and the husband made our rounds to all the booths to touch stuff. Most of the “typical suspects” were already a no from me. Basically anything French will never fit my horse (nor can I afford it). Some of the new saddle types were cool, but very limited in terms of sizing.

Honestly, the hardest part of looking that whole weekend was getting a rep to actually speak to me. Do I not look like a rider? Am I asking the wrong questions? Were people just burnt out by the time I got to them? Help me out people! haha

On Sunday, I was back to the Kentucky Horse Park for the day to cover my friend’s booth at the trade fair. Honestly, it was a lot of fun and something I would totally consider doing again in the future. I spent several hours talking to people about their horses, so what’s not to like!

It also gave me some time in the afternoon to chat with some reps of saddles I had identified the day before.

Schleese was first because they were… closest to the booth I was working at (other than Antares, which is a non starter for me). Their jump saddles looked well balanced, and the quality was really good. (as it should be, since I later learned that the price of their jump saddles start just above $5K. OOF.

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Did I learn that fact from the rep? Nope. Both reps were sitting down on their phones, no one else in the booth. The conversation went something like this:

Me “Hi, I am looking for a new jump saddle for my hard to fit horse. I really like the look of your jump saddle.”
Them “Great. Our saddles will fit your horse.” I should have walked out then. 
Me “Can you give me a bit more information? I really know nothing about your brand.”
Them “Our saddles are made for women. Like men can ride in them too, but they’re really developed for a woman’s hip bone structure.”
Me “um. ok. Anything else I should know?”
Them “Here’s our brochure, and you can write down your contact info so a rep in your area can reach out to you.”
Me “Um ok… Thanks… bye”

So odd… I still know basically nothing haha. I moved on.

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One of the women at the booth next to mine really loves her Amerigo saddles, and they have a variety of tree options. She recommended I speak to her rep there. Lovely, lovely woman. She pulled out a few saddles for me to sit in, and we discussed the shape of my horse’s back (from my explanation), and what saddles she think might work.

She walked me through what they feel make the Amerigo saddles different. The saddles were GORGEOUS and expensive… running between about $5,500 to $6,500. Alright then. I liked their variety of trees and the wool flocking, but let’s face it, I don’t have $6K standing around. The Vega line is slightly less expensive, but there are less tree options, which made the rep skeptical that we could find something to fit my horse in that line.

Finally, I headed over to the County booth. I know what you all are thinking, County’s are JUST AS expensive as the above two brands. Totally, but there are often demo and used saddle floating around of this brand, so I figured it was worth a look.

Their saddles are gorgeous. Their staff was friendly, and I really loved the saddle I sat in. Honestly, sitting in saddle on a tree in the middle of a trade show is not the way to make one’s butt sing, but I can definitely see the appeal to them. She’s in my area a lot, so we discussed her coming out to take a look at May and give me her thoughts. If it ended up being something I HAD TO DO, it would have to wait until next year.

There is still a lot more to this story but… I think this post is long enough. I shall update everyone soon~

My Shopping Cart – Show Season Addition

May and I have been a team for nearly 4 years at this point, so a lot of stuff we have managed to acquire over the years.  However, there are a few things I have thrown into my shopping cart (through multiple retailers) that I have realized I need to pick up before show season starts.

The Must Haves

RWR No Knot Hairnet

The RWR Hairnets are my JAM. They work wonders with my shoulder-length hair, and they were just as good when I grew my hair down to my waist for my wedding. I always get mine in black because the dark brown isn’t quite dark enough for my hair.

Definitely shop around for this one because I have seen prices everywhere from <$10 to MORE THAN $20. 

Cowboy Magic Green Spot Remover

Green spot remover. May isn’t gray… but she really likes to poop all over herself. I like the cowboy magic one, but honestly, most of these spot removers do the job I need just fine. As a result, I try to just pickup whatever my local tack shop has.

Either way, it is non negotiable that, as soon as May gets off the trailer, a rag gets sprayed with this stuff and rubbed on her body.

Super Bands – White

May’s mane might be roached, but I keep her forelock. However, I am far too lazy to braid a forelock the legit way… so white rubber bands are a must. Again, pretty brand-agnostic on this one, so whatever my local tack shop has is great.

Shapley’s Show Touch Up – White

Do I feel like a hunter princess when I break out the Shapley’s? Yes. Do I use it anyway? oh yes. Nothing else gets those white socks GLEAMING quite like Shapleys.  Since I only do a 6″ x 6″ spot on one of May’s back legs with this stuff,  it lasts me forever. However, my bottle is finally running dry and needs to replaced.

The Wants

Epona Tiger’s Tongue Horse Groomer™

Everyone keeps talking about this thing and now I want one. Will May like it? I have no idea, but I hope it will last longer (and is chaper) than the plasticy brushes I use to scrub my horse.

And maybe it will be a super boost for green spot remover? One can only dream.

A New Dressage Pad

I love May in white, but the problem is that, after a while, all white pads start to look dingy. A new pad (maybe with some bling?) would be a welcome addition to the lineup.

The “Not Right Now”

There’s only one thing on this list that I am completely restricting myself from buying.. and that is a new jump bridle. Probably due to two reasons:

  1. I really don’t want to spend any more money right now
  2. I can’t find anything I really like (horse size, dark brown, figure 8 noseband)

Maybe I should just get May a regular flash noseband bridle? Idk.

Either way, I plan on making a trip to my local tack shop sometime soon to see how many of these items I can tick off, while supporting my local place. What about you? What items do you need before show season completely takes off again?

First Thoughts – The Rest of the Dover Haul

Remember when I was pretending I was going to be all responsible and save my extra gift cards for new breeches? Well… that plan went out the window REAL FAST once I was in an actual tack shop. (Funny how that happens). I ended up going a bit… wild… for me, and I bought things I just generally wanted instead of things I in any way really need. It’s been a long time since I let myself indulge like this, and it felt pretty good. SO WHAT DID I GET?

Flexi Spur Set

So I haven’t even tried these out yet, so have no real opinion on them. I really love my new boots (and will love them more once it’s not winter and I can wear normal pants under them). Unfortunately, I love them so much that I have hesitated putting spurs on them for fear of scratching them. My favorite spurs are… somewhere… I have no idea where, and the spurs I have been using are just little nubs that I am 90% convinced only have a placebo effect.

flexi spur setSo when I spied the spur rack, I immediately wondered if I could find a pair of rubber coated spurs. The rubber coated Stubben ones were $60…. I hemmed and hawed, and then looked at the basket at the bottom. There sat some unobtrusive black and rubber spurs. I liked the length and smoothness of the actual spur, the rubber coated interior, and the price point ($18… including fabric straps.) SOLD.

Then, I got home and mildly panicked that they weren’t legal because they weren’t metal. Here’s the actual rule (bolding is mine):

Spurs are optional for all three tests. Spurs capable of wounding a horse are forbidden. Spurs must be of smooth metal. If there is a shank it must not be longer than 4 cm (1 9/16 inches, measured from the boot to the end of the spur) and must point only towards the rear. If the shank is curved, the spurs must be worn only with the shank directed downwards. Metal or plastic spurs with round hard plastic or metal knobs “Impulse spurs” and “Dummy spurs” with no shank are allowed.

Since these are smooth and not particularly long, I think we are good. Anyone reading this differently? Worst case scenario, I can always change out my spurs for shows, but I like the idea of having the rubberized material stabilizing the spur against my boot.

LeMieux™ X-Grip EuroJump Square Pad in Navy

Alright, this dude is on sale for $130 right now… so it is still above what I typically pay for saddle pads (my white, smartpak branded pads.)

lemieux

56970721092__40a8415f-09ab-4146-ba4a-ab7280861807I have wanted something grippy and stock absorbing for XC. I have been using a ECP pad (the ecogold knockoff), and I like it…. but it definitely doesn’t fit quite right under the stubben. (also, if I do end up going to any rated shows, it would be nice to have one pad for SJ and another for XC). I also wanted to have a color with my next pad and NAVY! so YAY!

I rode in it on Tuesday. It seemed to have some shock absorption, but I didn’t feel as disconnected from the saddle as I did with my ogilvy. Everything stayed in place for the short ride, and it fit far better under my 18″ stubben. So far so good! And I am excited to have a fancy pad for things… because that’s important? I told you guys, this haul was not totally rational.

Professional´s Choice® VenTECH™ Contoured Jump Girth

Is this not the worst stock photo you have ever seen? And it’s literally the only photo of this product available… cool guys.

prochoice girth

I have been putting off getting a new girth for May for basically… forever. Her old as dirt SmartPak girth is starting to rust… and since the Stubben has really short billets (and May can hold her breath like no horse I have ever met), it’s also too short. I guess a new girth was somewhat sitting in the back of my mind when we went to look at helmets.

Then, after I put the helmet on the counter… this girth was RIGHT THERE.

First thoughts:

  • I love that the liner removes for easy washing (it was a feature of my old girth that I actually used)
  • The carabiner clip is held flat with a sturdy (seeming) piece of leather. I haven’t played around with this yet, but it’s always a handy feature. (But something I would 100% avoid if May was ever in bar shoes. I don’t care how “safe” it looks at the onset.)
  • The elastic is surprisingly long. I guess this is to keep down the bulk under your leg? In my case, it just made it somewhat easier to get on a fat horse who chooses to be fatter when saddles.
  • Speaking of fat horses, non slip is my friend and non-negotiable.
  • May HATES long leather girths, so I was a bit worried that the stiffer exterior on this one (Dover says it’s a TPU shell? but it just feels like plastic) would bother her. But it is flexible enough to be comfortable, and is better shaped for her forward girth groove than a traditional girth.

After using it on Tuesday, I was pretty pleased with how well it distributes pressure, despite the shape. May seemed to like it as well, and it looks quite nice with my saddle.

Overall, I am pretty happy with my “impulse” purchases at first glance, but I will definitely let you all know how these things age!

Have you bought anything “fun but not totally necessary” lately?

The Great Helmet Try On

Now, it might not have been the wisest decision to push forward with my trip to Cincinnati on Sunday. Saturday it rained all day, and then temps dropped into the single digits and it snowed. In fact, a lot of churches around Louisville actually cancelled services. Buuuuuut I had an insanely tough week at work*, and I was dying for some retail therapy.

As we were getting dressed, I asked the husband if he was sure it would be ok. “It’s one major highway. It will be fine.”

And… it was fine. Sort of. We definitely hit some areas of the highway that hadn’t been plowed… some areas where only one lane had been plowed, and some areas where they were trying to plow/spread salt. The whole way up, I was refreshing the store’s facebook page. Begging it not to suddenly pop up that they had decided to close for the day.

At around 11:15AM, we pulled into the partially plowed parking lot. And I emerged from a salt and slush encrusted Jeep into weather that was just peeking into the double digits. (at least the sun was out!)

I walked into a fully staffed Dover… and we were the only people in the store. Then, I proceeded to be THE MOST annoying customer I think that woman had ever helped. It’s not that I wasn’t polite… I just wanted to try on all the things.

“What helmet do you have now?” the saleswoman asked, clearly hoping for a quick sale.

“A OneK, but it’s been a few years. I really want to try some other stuff.”

bothelmetI started with the coveted Back on Track TraumaVoid helmet. Middle of the pack in terms of cost, but with all the bells and whistles I was looking for. The helmet fits right in on the shelf with the Charles Owens’, Samshield’s, OneKs and IRHs. The weight was comparable with the CO and Samshield. Maybe a TOUCH heavier than the OneK, but it wasn’t that noticeable. I doubt you could tell the difference on your head. We measured my head (since my current OneK is just a “M”), and the Dover salesperson scurried into the back to service probably the only customer of the day.

The Back on Track TraumaVoid came out. I pulled my hair neatly into my hair net and… it wasn’t even close. Ok. Let’s go a sive up. Nope. Let me put my hair down. NOPE. Let’s go one more size up… I finally got it on my head. And it was horrifically uncomfortable. It seemed that the only place it put pressure on my head was on my temples. I think I have a wide, oval head… like a rounded rectangle. >.< I shifted it around to try and get it more comfortable. I put my hair down, then up again. It just didn’t fit. I didn’t even try to buckle it up.  It wasn’t going to work.

Ok then… Let’s try the Charles Owen. They were a bit more expensive than the TV, but cogyr8they were 20% off! They had the round version, so I excitedly threw that one onto my head. And it was like it was only making contact with the front and back of my head… So… no. Maybe I am mistaken…  maybe the regular CO will fit my head.

She grabbed one for me, and I put it on. It looked SO CLASSY. It fit pretty good. A bit tight at my temples, but not super uncomfortable like the TV. I shook my head around, and it stayed put. I know the CO are known for compressing down a bit, so I figured it would probably break in. Then I started thinking, what if it doesn’t with the removable liner? Or what if it breaks in too much? Is my head starting to hurt because of the pressure or because I am stuck is some kind of paradox of choice?

I looked to the husband for his thoughts. They’re all black… and they all look the same.

oneksuede“You know…” I started as I looked at the saleswoman… “Maybe I can just try on the Suede Defender OneK.” For a split second, I thought the saleswoman was going to roll her eyes at me, but she’s a pro. She just nodded and found one for me.

“This one comes with an extra removable liner.” (now we were speaking my language.) I stared at the helmet. It’s not flashy, but I don’t tend to like how I look in boring helmets. Anything more flashy just makes me more uncomfortable.

I slid the OneK on my head, and the saleswoman immediately went “oh.”

Why “oh”? Because even from 5 ft away, she could immediately tell that it fit PERFECTLY. The OneK just hugs around my head. There are no gaps. There are no pressure points. It is just even, comfortable pressure all the way around my head. It comes down low enough to not feel like it is just sitting on top of my head, and the chin straps sits comfortably behind my actual chin, but in front of my neck.

So that was that. New Technology is REALLY cool, and I hope it catches into some other helmet brands. Unfortunately, it won’t benefit me until it comes in a helmet that fits my head.

Long and short of the story? Try on as many helmets as you can whenever the opportunity presents itself. When you know, you know. I’ll talk about the rest of my haul after I get to put them on my horse tonight!

*Work got so bad last week that as soon as I could escape on Friday. I went to the barn. I think my bloodshot eyes and not so subtly running nose immediately alerted everyone to how things were going for me. My half leaser had a lesson right after I arrived, but no one would move forward with the lesson until I got on my horse and took her for a walk alone around the field to clear my head.

I stayed that night until my toes froze and I could no longer feel my hands (I had none of my winter barn clothes in my car). But my heart and head were both lighter for it. 

In Need Of Opinions – Helmets

Hello friends! I am on the hunt for a new helmet. The One-K is three years old, and while that is well within the life-span of a helmet, it is starting to look a bit sad. Also, I have no back up helmet laying around for A. Riding in Terrible Weather and B. if I fall off. So, I am looking for some input from all of you! (Keep in mind, my head fits pretty well in a Samshield and about perfectly in a One-K)

1 – Trauma Void™ EQ3™

BOTHelmet.JPG

Who doesn’t love new technology in equestrian sports? Who in eventing doesn’t love new SAFETY technology?

Enter the Trauma Void. Top Safety Results, and Modern Look. Sounds like a home run!

Buuuut I know other One-K wearers who they just didn’t work for. (looking at you Centered In the Saddle)

 

2 – Charles Owen AYR8® Plus Helmet

COGYR8.JPGSo technically, the study linked above references the Charles Owen AYR8® Leather Look helmet as a “Good Choice”. Buuuuuut I don’t think that one has a removable/washable liner, and after having that feature in a Samshield and my One-K… I just cannot live without it.

The CO is classic for any ring/venue/english discipline. And I think they are flattering on most people. HOWEVER, I am not sure this would come event remotely close to fitting my head.

Honestly… I think that might be it. I could always get another One-K, and I REALLY like my One-K. I could even get the Defender with fun colors. Is there anything that I am missing that I should seriously consider? This is a BIG decision people! 🙂

Holiday Recap!

Whew! I’ve been away from the blog for a few days as the holidays have pretty much taken my life by storm. While the activities this year were, in some ways, lighter than years past, I am somehow still sitting at my desk, exhausted, on a Thursday. Let’s recap!

Blogger Gift Exchange!

On Sunday morning, the husband and I were hustling out the door to go to a football game with a couple of friends, and I basically stumbled over a box that had arrived… at some point over night? early morning? Who knows. I didn’t recognize the “From” address, so I immediately figured it was my blogger secret santa! Unfortunately, we were in a terrible rush, so I didn’t get to open it until later that night.

However, it definitely did not disappoint! Sarah at A Soft Spot for Stars was my secret Santa, and she did an awesome job! This is my second year participating, and I am always blown away by what gifts everyone comes up with. I receive 2 new, beautiful brushes, a jumper decal, and May got treats! (which she actually got to eat on Christmas!) Sarah got an immediate message, since I knew I would have no time to write this post for a few days.

Massive Thank You goes to Tracy at The Printable Pony for pulling off this incredible feat!

Christmas Gifts!

I’ll keep this (mostly) horse related to keep you all from being bored by the details. First and foremost? BOOTS!

Ariat Boots

The husband ended up buying me the Ariat Ladies’ Heritage Contour II Field Boots in a 7 foot, medium height, and wide width. I was actually really pleasantly surprised by the updates they made to these boots vs. my original Heritage Contour boots. They added elastic to the top tab and a zipper keeper, a leather piece to protect the back of your ankle from the zipper, and an even better footbed. While I can’t get them COMPLETELY zipped yet in breeches in socks, and they still need to drop, I did get to ride in them on Christmas. Even not zipped up all the way, they felt really good, and I am sure they are going to feel amazing once broken in.

If you have to buy a boot off the rack, and you are a somewhat hard to fit size, I really do like these boots. With all things, I will give you all an update in a few months with my longer term thoughts.

I also got a great gift from NT… A new saddle pad with the barn logo on it. 🙂 Super excited to rep the barn-wear at some 2019 events, clinics, etc.

fitbit

More of this year’s gifts were fitness related than specifically horse related. I got a new fitbit (the Charge 3). I’ve had the Charge 2 for two years now, and I even had fitbit replace the actual middle unit after it died on me last year. Unfortunately, I could tell that the heart-rate monitor and bluetooth connection was starting to go. Messages no longer came through to my wrist and most of my workouts came back with “no data” for heart-rate.

The new one is rose gold with a lavender band and a black band. The screen is slightly bigger, and it gives me a ton more options through the new interface. (Send me a message if you want to be fitbit buddies!) OH and this version is swim-proof, so no more worries about it getting wet at the barn.

I also got new sneakers and an amazing pair of yoga pants. I am usually playing the  “How Cheap Can I Find Workout Gear on Amazon Without It Being See Through”  game (these worked out), so getting a seriously nice pair of yoga pants was a serious treat. I feel like they are seriously on-par with lululemon’s but not nearly that pricey.

My last gift? A gift card to Dover! I have been scanning the website, waffling between the practical (a spare sheet for May), to the somewhat fun (new SJ boots), to the absolutely unnecessary but I want it anyway (a new helmet for showing). I think I should save it. If I lose the weight I want to lose (the holidays DID NOT HELP), then I will need new breeches, and it would feel really good to spend the gift card on that pair.

Dover

Did you all have a great holiday? Did you get any horsey gifts? Should I blow my gift card on something fun now?

A Long Term Bridle Review

I have a confession to make. A lot of reviews don’t “do it” for me. I love seeing how everyone feels about how a product performs, feels, fits, etc., but I often have the nagging sensation in the back of my head saying, “well, how is it going to look after YEARS of abuse?” Because, when it comes to where I am investing my very limited budget of horse stuff, that is where I want to put my dollars. In the things that last. 

SO – here is a review of a couple of bridles that I have now owned for YEARS. 

Dover Figure Eight Bridle

Seriously, I bought a bridle from Dover… at least 5 years ago. I was looking for a sub $200 bridle with a figure eight and a mono crown. I had a nunn-finer bridle that I really liked, but it wasn’t a figure eight, and it really as a reddish-brown color. I wanted CHOCOLATE. 

This bridle fit the bill. My original impressions included the sheepskin on the middle of the figure 8 being WAY TOO FLUFFY. I always had plans to trim it, but to be honest, I was too afraid of making it look worse. When I dabbled in some hunter/eq classes, I ended up buying the matching fancy stitched browband and crank noseband for this bridle. It definitely wasn’t the same price as the bridle when I bought it… Link here

So how is it 5+ years later?

Clearly, I still really like it. It is in everyday rotation at the barn, and it gets polished up and brought along for SJ and XC at horse trials. Is the leather as buttery soft as the Vespucci bridles I remember from 20 years ago? Nope. It has held up really well, but instead of softening, a lot of the leather has kind of wrinkled into position. 

While it hasn’t started cracking or anything like that, I do feel the leather just might be, after all this time, and all the use, coming towards the end of its useful life. 

Harwich Padded Dressage Bridle by SmartPak

I guess they don’t really make the same bridle anymore, so this might just be commentary on quality and all that. This bridle was a pretty serious impulse buy. I had bought a Dressage saddle, and I wanted a bridle that would match. (It was also part of the same order as a girth and leathers… neither of which I use anymore.)

Either way, this bridle has been in and out of rotation since February of 2015, so I think I have used it enough to have some thoughts. 

1 – The reins are HORRIFIC. I mean HORRIFIC. I ended up putting the Micklem rains on this bridle after getting that bridle. 

2 – The leather quality is crap too. Sorry. Not Sorry. They must have rubbed this thing in motor oil in the photo on the website, because it does not clean up like that. 

3 – I still kind of use it. This bridle is… somewhere. It makes it into the rotation when I need a third bridle for some reason. (i.e. I want to put a happy mouth in May’s mouth when the temp dips super low, but I don’t feel like changing out my main bridles). I should probably sell it, but it doesn’t seem worth the effort for the $50 it might be worth. 

Horseware Rambo Micklem Competition Bridle & Reins

This bridle was a gift, and I have had it two years. That also makes it the newest bridle in my rotation. It is also the most expensive. 

The most hilarious part of this bridle is not the amazing, awesomeness that is the anatomical benefits to the horse. Honestly, I am not sure how much May really cares. I might be able to convince myself that she’s a touch more steady in this bridle vs. the figure 8 or traditional bridle with a flash. However, I do not think it is a $200 difference, so to me, that’s mostly irrelevant. 

The reason I really like this bridle? It sits in such a different place on her face that it is perfect when she gets any rubs from her muzzle. There it is. Right there. The best part of this is that it keeps me from worrying about the bridle rubbing in the same place as her muzzle. 

As for quality, it is a nice bridle that looks nice and, I think, flatters May’s face pretty well. As mentioned above, I did upgrade the reins, and I actually use thinline reins on it now. Would I buy it again? Not sure. I am happy with it, but there are places that I wish it fit just a SMIDGE better, and it isn’t that adjustable. There are so many options on the market now for anatomical bridles, and I bet there is something out there that would fit better. 

What about you? Any bridles that you have had a long time and are still in love with?

THeSe REVIEWs are NOT SPONSORED, AND THE ITEMS DISCUSSED IN THIS REVIEW WERE PURCHASED BY ME or a FAMILY member WITH our OWN MONEY.