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.
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Breaking Out the Cold Weather Gear

I FINALLY had another lesson yesterday. I had taken the day off of work, and I was determined to take full advantage of it. On Sunday, the weather was warm and bright. The temperatures were in the mid-sixties, and there was just the lightest breeze. PERFECT fall weather… and it was my half-leaser’s day to ride hahahaha. 

So Monday, I had my lesson scheduled in the afternoon… and I woke up to 30 degree weather and snow flurries. That’s right. There was a 30+ degree drop overnight. Fun. Times. Also – what is this nonsense with the weather?

I bundled up, and I figured I would give you a rundown of my typical cold weather riding outfit:

32 Degree Jacket – LOOK HOW LONG!
  1. Smartpak Piper Winter Breeches – Do Not Recommend. Not even going to give you a link. Decently warm but too low cut, slippery, and stretch out oddly. 
  2. Under Armour in Baby Blue – Highly recommend. The link is to a more updated version, but I will never give up my UA base layers. 
  3. Ugly Christmas Sweater – Highly Recommend… but I couldn’t find a link to it. This sweater is at LEAST 4 years old, and I am pretty sure it is 100% acrylic. It is not floofy or soft, but it is WARM. AND it has held up to barn wear. Close enough to perfect for me. 
  4. Arctic Neck Warmer – Highly Recommend. These are 100% a staple in my winter, barn wardrobe. Keeping my neck warm is a nonnegotiable. 
  5. 32 Degree Heat Womens Sherpa line Fleece Jacket – GO BUY THIS. A lot of the comments complain about the cut (sleeves too long and a bit loose around the hips), but that makes it REALLY NICE to ride in. It does not bunch up around my hips, so keeps that lower back area warm in and out of the saddle. Horse hair loves to stick to this, but it lets me not wear my heavy jacket even when it’s 30 degrees and windy out, so I will deal with that inconvenience. 
  6. North Face Jacket – Highly Recommend, although, the link is to a newer style of the jacket I wear to the barn. The jacket I currently wear is probably older than 6 years old at this point. It was a hand-me-down from my sister. It is definitely a ski jacket, but I find these are long enough and more than warm enough for riding, and much prefer them to riding-specific jackets. The North Face is expensive, but several of the jackets I own from them are closer to the 10 year mark than brand new.  
  7. Heritage Winter Gloves – Meh. The gloves I used yesterday are so old that I am not even sure what the brand ever was. I also have these. The only point I will make is that I HIGHLY prefer winter gloves that are lined vs. bigger, bulkier winter gloves with synthetic material on the outside. Leather gives me grip, and I like that. They’re not waterproof, and I don’t think they are as warm as some other options, so if you are working all day at the barn, maybe avoid these. 

Would love to know if anyone has recommendations for super warm socks that aren’t too bulky? I typically layer thin cotton socks under warmer sock to make sure that moisture is wicked away from my feet without them getting chilled. 

Let’s Talk – Tall Boots

Now, I will readily admit that I am not a boot aficionado. My show boots? $600 Ariat Crowne Pro boots that I am just starting to fit back into. Let me start with this, to me, $600 is A LOT of money to spend on riding boots. I know, clutch your pearls.

My schooling boots for the past few years have been the Ariat Heritage Contour boots. In fact, these are actually the first boots in a long time that I held onto until they fell apart. Why did I hold onto these?

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  • They were still $200+… way more than I want to spend more than once every several years.
  • The black, traditional field boot design allowed them to transition from schooling boot to show boot with only a bit of polish.
  • The XW calf width, right off the shelf, meant they were always comfortable, even when I threw on leggings, winter breeches, and thick socks in the winter.
  • The foot-bed is super comfortable. I mean, I could literally wear these all day without my back bothering me, which is more than I can say for almost any shoe except my sneakers.
  • They’ve actually lasted me a decent amount of time.

I am abusive to boots. I really don’t want to be. I really do want to be the kind of person that puts my boots on right before I ride and then take them off as soon as I get off. The kind of person that keeps my boots in my temperature controlled garage, in boot trees, and wiped down after ever ride.

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Proof of abuse. This is now a massive hole (6 months later)

What kind of person am I? The kind of person that accidentally wears my tall boots out into the field, in the mud, to turn out my horse. (her needs first…. right?) The kind of person who tried wiping down her boots, about a month ago. And the kind of person that throws her boots in her tack trunk until next time. So when I buy a new pair of boots, they probably shouldn’t be my DREAM boots.

Dream Boots.JPG
Dream Boots. LM Easy Boot

 

Instead, I will probably follow one of two avenues.

  1. Another pair of Ariat Heritage Contour Field Boots. They’ve been slightly updated, but still the classic design and fit options. Not many reviews on the newer version, but my old version got a lot of great reviews for comfort and durability.
  2. The Mountain Horse Sovereign boots in black. They’re about $100 more than the Ariat boots, but they have a more interesting (but still classic) design.
  3. Tuff Rider Sure Grip Boots. These are by far the least expensive option, but I have never tried or seen them in person. Obviously, buying through RW would make things easy to try and send back, if necessary, but durability is hard to know without firsthand experience.

What boots do you ride in? What boots would you 100% stay away from?

Cambox Isi3 Review

I’ve had my Cambox Isi3 for almost 4 months now, and while I haven’t had a whole lot of interesting things to video, I do have a lot of opinions about this purchase.

Pros:

1. Picture Quality

I am really impressed with the picture quality of this small camera. The Isi3 is definitely worth it over the Isi2 just for the 1080p camera, in my opinion. I love that I can take still shots from the video and them be worth having. (as opposed to 90% blurry messes)

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Like look at the detail on those EARS ❤

2. Ease of Use

Hold a button. Thing vibrates. Off we go. (apparently the Isi2 doesn’t vibrate.) Downloading to my computer is as easy as plugging it in and moving the file over. I can adjust how long I want it to make each file, so that gives me control over the size of the files. I needed more help learning to use my Mac for videos. (Thanks Olivia!)

3.  Stays Put but Easy to Remove

I had to trim down the velcro sticker to attach it to the underside of the brim of my OneK. However, the actual camera does not stick out over the edge of the brim. I was a little worried about attaching this $$$ camera to the occasionally rapid movements of my head, but I have yet to finish a ride and feel like it is at all loose.

In fact, I really do have to grab the little tabs to peel it off the velcro after I use it. Great design choice to add those tabs!

Cons:

1. I can’t check if it’s on.

The lights are completely not visible when it’s attached to my helmet unless I remove my helmet and check it. Since I typically turn it on after I get on, I never REALLY know when it’s on unless I turn it on and off. Even then, is it one long vibration or 3 short vibrations when it turns on? I could check with my phone, but I’ll get into that in a moment.

2. The wifi connection between it and my phone is clunky.

I can get it to work, but it is not something I can really do once I am on the horse and in the saddle. Therefore, it’s pretty tough to check the angle, brightness, etc.

3. Water

I am super terrified that I am going to fall off in a water complex with this thing on. I really don’t think it is waterproof. So fully expect me to hand this thing off to someone the first time we try dropping into a water complex.

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I don’t know if anything would survive this water complex hahaha.

Overall Thoughts:

I would buy this again in a heartbeat, so big thanks to the Husband for buying it for me! I have really enjoyed having my rides at my finger tips. I was pretty concerned about attaching something to my helmet that might get in the way in a fall, but the Cambox tucks discretely away under my brim. I also think it gives the viewer the most realistic “real world” view of my ride.

While I hate listening to myself huff and puff, I really do like the audio quality. Getting to relive my ride and re-listen to my lessons is a big help. I can often miss instruction/feedback while I am riding, but I can pick it up easily in the video.

It’s just been a really fun and beneficial addition to my media! What about you? What tech gadgets do you love?

5 Things That Didn’t Work For Me

First things first, May and I had our best ride in a LONG TIME last night. I am not quite sure why. I am not even sure if she was that good. But it was the first time in a long time that I felt really secure and comfortable in the saddle and May felt super relaxed and like energy was just flowing forward without tension. Hard to explain, and possibly all in my head. But I’ll take it!

On top the topic of this post – 5 items that I bought that, looking back on it, I probably should’ve passed on. If some of these are your favorite items, let me know! The tricky part of finding riding gear is how much of it is about the preferences of you and your horse.

1. Ogilvy Half Pad

Yes – I have one of these. You can see it picking out in the picture below. (gosh my eq here…)

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Anyway, this pad makes the following claims on its website:

The MemoryFoam acts as a buffer that fills any voids between the saddle and the horse, stabilizes the saddle, and provides shock-absorption for the backs of both horse and rider. This half pad will have your saddle fitting perfectly on every horse, even with custom made saddles….

A SECRET NO LONGER: as good for the rider’s back as for the horse’s back!

 

  • Anti-slip
  • V-Shape: special protection for the withers and the back.
  • Maximum breathability, moisture wicking
  • Superior Shock absorption
  • No rubbing, no friction
  • Distributes pressure
  • Anti-microbial and anti-fungal
  • Stain resistant
  • Improved saddle fit
  • Quick dry.

– See more at: https://www.ogilvyequestrian.com/en/store/product/jump-memoryfoam-halfpad#sthash.xsyO4PTb.dpuf

 

 

That’s… a lot. BUT I originally bought this pad for my old horse because he was just a lot more sensitive. He also made my back hurt like no other horse I have ever ridden. Now that I am a bit more educated, I really think his conformation didn’t work for my conformation and that it had nothing to do with saddles and half pads (I owned a devoucoux monoflap with him with short, forward flaps. Dream saddle for me. Would never work for May.)

winston-jump

Final thoughts, no, this pad will not made any saddle magically fit your horse. What a terrible claim to make. It worked great for my sensitive fellow, but just makes my saddle less stable on May’s back. (please do not smooth out what little withers she had, I need those). I should probably sell it, but it has some sentimental value. As a result, it sits at home, in a climate controlled room. Just in case I end up with another sensitive horse with withers.

2. Tailored Sportsman Icefill Shirt

This was not a cheap sunshirt. It retails for $65, and I think it was the first ice fill shirt I ever bought. It is also, by far, the warmest one. Seriously, I wear this as a layer over my underarmour in the winter because it helps wick moisture away to avoid the chills. The material also clings in a weird way. (that’s probably why I really only have pics of me wearing vests over this shirt. Warm and not super flattering).

The thing is though? Other people LOVE these shirts. 97% of Smartpak reviewers recommend this product. (Granted 100% would recommend the Kastel shirt, but that only has 5 reviews). Maybe try it… but you’re better off with the Kastel one. 😉

3. Majyk Equipe XC Boots

This is probably the most controversial thing I have ever said on my blog hahaha. These just didn’t work for May. They spin, they gather dirt, mud, etc, and I really just prefer my Prof Choice ones.  Maybe it’s just the conformation of her legs, short and wide with big “joints”. I have no idea, but I was never able to get them to work. (Below you can see how the front right one spun)

Now, I just use them for Dressage schools and conditioning rides. Looking back at photos, these actually never even made it to a XC school. Go figure.

4. “Premium” Helmets

I have two premium helmets that I retired before they technically needed to be replaced. First, the Samshield.

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❤️ #may #palomino #draftcross #ponylove

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This was not a bad helmet, and I really loved it when I first got it. It breathed a lot better than my old GPA, and it fit my head better. However, after the below fall, I don’t think I hit my head. I went helmet shopping anyway, and realized that the OneK fit me MUCH better and felt more solid on my head.

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Did I hit my head? No idea. My brain has blocked this memory.

Before the Samshield though, was the worst helmet purchase I ever made.

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Winston ❤ #nofilter #justlove

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The GPA Speedair helmet. Everyone remember this helmet flying off the heads of Eq riders in the early 2010s? I do. And it would’ve come flying off my head too if I ever fell in it. I still love the look of it (sorry, not sorry), but there is no way I would event in it.

5. Herm Sprenger Spring Stirrups

See them in that above picture? I don’t know what I was thinking. I had ridden in them before buying them and HATED them. My friend swore by them and told me I just needed to get used to them. SO I bought a pair. I never liked them, and apparently, neither did my eq. It looks like I only used them for a few months before getting rid of them again. And that is why I buy things used!

I replaced them in October of 2014 with the MDC stirrups (couldn’t find them used), and I recommend these to everyone I meet. They are stable, comfortable, and don’t bother my bum ankle.

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Oh hey beautiful

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I know I talk a lot about the things I ADORE, but I hadn’t really done reviews on these other items. How about you? What products did you drop $$ on that ended up not working for you?

Blog Hop – Millionaire Me

Hellomylivia did an awesome blog on what she would do if she was suddenly and unimaginably RICH. Go check it out first, then come back. It’s pure gold. Of course, that means it now needs to be a blog hop.

So what would I do if I was suddenly gifted with an UNIMAGINABLE amount of money?… First of all, I work in finance, I have a degree in finance, I would have to build some kind of reasonable plan for most of the money. Ideally, something safe that generates at least 3% a year to pay for our expenses and gift to charities.

However, this blog hop isn’t about the rational things you would do. It would be about the other things. Let’s start with real estate first.

I would buy this farm. Dream Farm and convince my trainer to move her operation there… Hey Girl – If I win the lottery 😉

Dream Farm

  • 41 Acres
  • 9 European Style Stalls (it would need more)
  • Large Indoor Arena with viewing room and sound system
  • Massive outdoor
  • round pen
  • Trails
  • Barn that features
    • living room
    • dining room
    • bunks
    • laundry
    • kitchennette
    • full bath
    • etc etc etc
  • The house is also nice…
  • Fields would need to be segmented a bit more, and I would like to add run-ins to a couple, but nbd if budget is no issue.

A trailer and a new truck for the hubs would definitely be in the cards too. He can literally pick out whatever truck he wants. I know he has a wish list for that somewhere… as long as it can tow my trailer… and is white because it has to match the Jeep.

AND MY TRAILER: A brand new, 4 star, 2 horse with front walkout and a full dressing room. Gooseneck and quiet ride equipped. Don’t ask me why this is what I want. It just is, okay? (It will also need cameras like Amanda has because those are pretty awesome.) Husband will be responsible for all towing. Thanks in advance.

4Star

I would also need a second horse. A total packer. How about this lady? Probably a mare. Something over the age of 10, not larger than 16.2, with a strong record at Training level. (time faults are totally cool. I like going too slow).

Mare for sale.JPG

As for competing my packer, I would love to do a Novice 3-day, go to Aiken, and qualify and attend AEC’s. I think… although, sometimes I just get burned out competing. Maybe I wouldn’t if I hired a super-groom. Either way, I want showing to be super low stress and fun.

I also have a weird dream of wanting to be an owner at KY3DE so… NT – You also get a horse. Something that is going at least Prelim, so we have some sense as to its real ability to be a 4* horse. Shopping as an owner with practically no budget would also be a ton of fun. Like who cares how much I lose vetting each horse… or how much we spend traveling. It will be just for fun.

May’s life wouldn’t change overly much. She would probably get more of the finer things in life, as in weekly message and such. I might transition her into a fox hunt horse, as she really thinks the other stuff is stupid, and I think she would be awesome in the field.

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I wouldn’t buy the young prospect. I would just keep buying wonderful, older packers and then retire them on my farm until the end of my days. Has the husband turned pale and sweaty reading this yet? How about this – total cost for all these things that I want to buy?

  1. Dream Farm: $2M
  2. New Horse: $30K+
  3. Upper Level Horse: $80K+
  4. Trailer: ~$30K
  5. Updates to Dream Farm: $200K?
  6. Truck: $80K

Total (without competing/fox hunting/horse shopping costs): nearly $3M

Ha…. hahaha. No way. How it would actually happen?

  1. build a house on some acreage. Continue boarding May
  2. MAYBE buy a second horse
  3. Husband still gets the truck
  4. Used trailer without the +1 and quiet ride
  5. No sponsoring Upper Level Horse

What about you? What is on your “only in my wildest dreams” list?

Past Horse Shopping – Part 1

Quick Update – May As Well Event officially has a Facebook page!

I am not in the market for another horse. I don’t WANT to be in the market for another horse. In fact, when I bought May, she was the only horse I looked at, and I traded away my old horse for her. Why do I dislike horse shopping so much? Probably because the experience is always pretty miserable. However, now looking back on my horse shopping experience 6 years ago, it’s something I can laugh about, and I hope you can to.

When I bought my first horse, it was before I got into eventing, so I wasn’t looking for an eventer. I was looking for a jumper horse that could cross into the adult equitation divisions. 3′ and under. Didn’t have to be fancy. I think my specs were:

  • 15.2 or taller
  • Over age of 4 (I wasn’t in a rush, but didn’t have the time for a 3yo)
  • Under age of 13
  • Capable of jumping 3′
  • Wouldn’t kill me
  • Under $5K

I have seen this happen. In fact, I ended up buying it in May.

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However, I saw a lot of interesting horses with that spec list. Let’s start with horse 1!

Oldenburg Mare – 16H – Bay – 10YO

This one even had some show experience at the level I wanted to compete. Seller mentioned that she really wouldn’t be competitive as a Low Child/Adult Jumper (3’3″ – 3’5″) as she was a brave jumper but not always the most careful. That’s fine. Safe and fun was more important to me then ribbons, and it explained the lower price. All good, reasonable things. Right? She was even less than an hour away from my barn. Great!

We went to go look at her. I don’t even remember if the trainer got on first, or if I hopped on. Either way, we passed through the indoor and into the outdoor because “The outdoor has better footing.”

The mare was in a pelham, which I only remember because it had been quite a while since I had ridden in two reins. I was also handed a pair of spurs. Again, not something I had ridden in often. Not a huge deal. You can do the eqs in a pelham and spurs, and it isn’t outrageous gear for a jumper. I got myself sorted out, and asked the mare to move on.

Her whole body weight was immediately in my hands. I tried to give her a bit of rein, and the seller starts shouting at me, “Keep contact with her face.”

Really? I thought. This much contact? I tried just sliding my hands forward and got the same response. Fine. This is your horse, and I will do it  your way. 

At the trot, I picked up on another issue. The mare had 0 flexibility in her body. It was like the muscle that run along either side of her spine were tensed into solid rock and there was nothing I could do about it. Now? I probably have a few tools in my toolbox for her, but not back then.

Then, I asked for the canter. To the left, no issues. To the right, she swung her haunches in, levitated, and picked up the left lead. It wasn’t so much a naughty response, but it was like she just COULDN’T rock back on that left hind leg like she needed to. The seller’s advice? “Keep more contact with her face.” I wish I was kidding.

I finally figured out that it was easier for her if I really rocked my weight back with her when I asked. (mind you, I was all of 140 lbs then, and she was a stocky mare.) After cantering a bit, I was told to jump her through the triple combination set up on the outside at around 2’6″. I think it was a vertical, 2 strides to a vertical, 3 strides to an oxer.

Fine. I pick up a good canter pace. Turn the corner. She TAKES OFF. Jumps the first jump from a stride away, does ONE stride, and jumps the second vertical. I circle before the oxer. Nope. Not dying on this horse. Seller AGAIN tells me that I need to hold her face tighter and keep her more collected at the very beginning. Basically, I end up cantering towards the combination in a skiing position.

I managed to get two strides in-between the first two jumps and then halt half HARD to get the 3 to the oxer. Mare cracks her back and then tries to take off on the other side. We do a couple more jumps to prove how brave she was, and then I handed her back to the seller with a quick thank you.

I was crippled with muscle soreness for 4 days after that, and that was when I rode 4 horses 6 days a week. I also was later told some shady things about the trainer selling the horse… I won’t go into details, but passing was probably the right move.

SmartPak Update

After my review went live, another smartpak rep did reach out to me and recommend another fly mask. This one. Her comment was that it didn’t rub her thin-skinned thoroughbred. However, if it fits her thoroughbred, it probably doesn’t fit my draft cross, and it only comes in a standard horse size.

Honestly, I just might go try and support my local tack shop after work tomorrow. 🙂

Product Review – SmartPak Deluxe Fly Mask

I have been a pretty devoted Cashel Crusader fly mask user for a while. They seemed to fit most horses, lasted a while, and looked fine. However, I have had issues with the long piece that covers the nose. In certain muzzles, May benefits from this extra piece, while in others, it just gets in the way. Also, the sizing has also been slightly off for May. A “horse” sized mask wasn’t quite large enough in the right places, and a “warmblood” sized mask was massive. See below for happy horse in the Crusader mask. (Old video that makes me wonder WHY I LET HER GET SO FAT? Definitely at a better weight now)

 

So when I was looking for a new mask, I decided to try another brand. The most economical choise? The SmarkPak Fly Mask.

The SmartPak Deluxe Fly Mask is just what your horse needs to keep summer’s pests at bay at a price you’ll love! The Deluxe mask features a fleece bumper in the crown to help lift the mask away from your horse’s eye as well as a removable zipper nose piece depending on you and your horse’s preference.

Durable PVC mesh that holds its shape and keeps flys off your horse’s sensitive face

  • Soft mesh ears provides extra protection from pests in sensitive areas
  • Fleece edging ensures a comfortable fit on the horse’s face
  • Wide VELCRO® brand closure keeps the mask securely in place

Sounds pretty good. Right? Nice fleece bumpers for comfort, a removable nose piece, and a wide closure. It all sounded great.

It showed up, and the material was soft but sturdy and the fleece was a nice touch. It fit May’s ears, but it didn’t quite stretch all the way around her jaw. Not a big deal. It still closed with plenty of velcro making contact. Even in the picture on the website, the velcro was left a bit short. Worst case scenario, it would just fall off. Right?

Here’s the issue, there is no elastic in the closure. It is just a WIDE piece of velcro. At this point, I think it might even be that wide just so smartpak could slap a GIANT logo on it.

Now we get into the issue. I threw this fly mask on and then wasn’t at the barn for a couple of days. When I showed up a couple of days after introducing it, my trainer told me that something was rubbing May’s face. Given that she was wearing a muzzle and a mask, I didn’t jump to any conclusions.

Then I saw this. Ouch! You can see the rubs under the jaw in 2 places on both sides. Those places lined up with the front edge of the velcro and where the velcro sat on the widest part of her head. Mind you, the part facing the horse was not the rough “velcro” part of the velcro strip, but it was the hard, less flexible material. In 2 days of only night use, it had rubbed May’s jaw raw.

I removed the fly mask (obviously) and switched May to a fully fleece-lined muzzle, since it wouldn’t be raining for a few days. Then, I emailed SmartPak. Here’s the response:

Thank you for your email!
I am so sorry to hear that the fly mask wasn’t perfect for May!
Since that has been used, please feel free to give it to a friend, or donate it to a local rescue. I am absolutely going to issue a Smartpakcredit to your account for the purchase price of that. That credit of $27.19 will automatically apply to either your next purchase from us, or your next SmartPak for May, whichever comes first.
Please do not hesitate to let me know if there is anything else that I may help with, and have a wonderful rest of your day!
Happy Trails,

First of all, do you really need to call it a “Smartpakcredit”? Either way, the resolution was fine. Not great (especially since I was within the 60 day return window), but fine. I feel like the old SmartPak would’ve tried to figure out what the issue with fit actually was and try to recommend another one to try? Maybe I am using rose colored glasses there.

Either way, I left a review about the velcro issue, and I will check to make sure it shows up. Smartpak branded items seems to have a LOT of REALLY positive reviews. Anyone else notice that?

I will probably try a different fly mask from Riding Warehouse. Maybe a lycra based one so that it is less bulk under her muzzle. Thoughts?

THIS REVIEW IS NOT SPONSORED, AND THE ITEMS DISCUSSED IN THIS REVIEW WERE PURCHASED BY ME WITH MY OWN MONEY.

Product Review – Whole Horse Equine Fly Repellent Wipes

I have a confession to make. There is one thing I have never successfully desensitized May to, and it is fly spray. No matter how often we repeat the exercise, the simple act of spraying STUFF on her body causes her to snort, back up, and stare at me with wide eyed fear. That’s right. Fear. From May. Because of fly spray.

Eventually, I do get her to stand still, but the whites of her eyes will continue to show, and she will still shake with fear. It’s been 3 years, and I still feel like I am torturing her. I have tried natural fly spray, strong fly spray I only need to use a little of, and even home made fly spray. It didn’t matter. She thought it was all going to kill her.

Absorbine.JPGI, however, have been a die hard Absorbine Ultrashield Ex (the black bottle) user for YEARS. Seriously, I once sent the husband into a Dover to just buy that. When they didn’t have the black version in the 32 ounce bottles, he guilted them into giving him a discount on the full gallon… because “that’s really the one she likes.” Unfortunately, that stuff is miserable to use. It smells awful, and too much of it can cause irritations for both me and May.

SO when I realized that this woman in my barn had a line of plant derived horse care goods. I was kind of intrigued. When she mentioned that she also sold fly repellent WIPES, I was all over it. Serious grabby hands.

Now the product description reads as such:

Our unique blend of lemongrass, essential oils and natural surfactants repel Flies, Gnats, Mosquitoes and other Annoying Flying Insects for up to 8 Hours.

What does this mean in real life? It means it smells great, doesn’t irritate my skin or May’s skin, and lasts several hours. It even means that I can wipe them easily on her ears, an area that I could never get near with traditional fly spray.

I bought this product in the beginning of June, so have been using it for about a month. I have found that 2 wipes work best for May’s whole body. At $25 per container of 90 wipes, this works out to about $0.55 per use, so it probably is more expensive than a traditional fly spray.

So would I use this if May wasn’t so opposed to regular fly spray? Yes, but only for ears and such. I would probably also buy their regular fly spray at $25 for 32 ounces.

Other items I am coveting from them? They are coming out with a purple shampoo AND they have a fungicide that I seriously think might come in handy if we have another wet fall. Check out their full line for yourself here: https://www.wholehorseequine.com/ 

What about you? Make any switches in your core group of products this summer?

THIS REVIEW IS NOT SPONSORED, AND THE ITEMS DISCUSSED IN THIS REVIEW WERE PURCHASED BY ME WITH MY OWN MONEY.

We Go Bitless Baby!

Let me start by saying: This was not a voluntary experiment. After our great Dressage lesson last week, I got on her the next time, and she was just spicy. There was lots of head throwing and dramatics and our ride just got worse and worse. I finally let the reins out, and we just went for a walk. When I hopped off, I realized that she had somehow got pinched by her bit that she was worn for nearly every ride for the last 2 years. (back to the baucher? Thoughts?)

I will say, that I had adjusted the Micklem bridle a couple of weeks ago because it was rubbing against a bug bite on her cheek. I guess it is time to readjust it back. I hemmed and hawed about what to do… I had ridden May a couple of times when I first got her in a hackamore, but the idea of shelling out cash for something I will probably use 3 or 4 times seemed super unappealing. I originally thought about attaching my reins to a crank noseband I have somewhere. I figured it would work kind of like a side pull. However, I COULD NOT find the thing, since I only use the figure 8 on that bridle.

I was convinced that I couldn’t fit my reins on the right attachment on the Micklem to use it, so I brought along some options to rig SOMETHING together and hope I didn’t die. It turns out, I could just attached my reins to the Micklem. I checked to make sure the nose pieces was high enough on her face not to cause any discomfort, and I figured I would give it a try.

Yes… she was THIS ENTHUSED about the whole thing. 

Conclusion? I had really no breaks or real steering, so we stuck to the outdoor and just did trot sets. I figured a nice, no pressure ride would help both of us get used to this new way to communicating. Plus, this was only a temporary situation.

Then yesterday, I saw that it looked like the pinched spot had completely cleared up. Since I am going away next week, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to just ride the rest of this week bitless. I threw on the bitless micklem, ignored some odd stares by someone who I am pretty sure was CONVINCED I was missing SOMETHING, and I headed to the indoor. I figured the 2 beginner type riders having a lesson in the outdoor wouldn’t appreciate the addition of a large yellow wrecking ball with both questionable steering and breaks.

Instead, a teenager and her thoroughbred had to deal with me in the indoor. I figured that today, being in the indoor, I would push May a bit more forward and try to drive her into my hands. No luck. 0 luck. Possibly even negative luck. I could steer a bit better, but the Micklem did nothing to help me stop any kind of forward motion. To do a downward transition was an act of full body control and divine intervention.

I even had the crazy notion that maybe if we cantered, it would get her moving better over her back! It didn’t work. I did a 30 meter oval to the left with a terrible upward transition and a nearly nonexistent downward transition. But you can’t just do it one way! So we turned around and tried the right lead! It was equally bad. I ended up seriously wishing I had though to at least put my spurs on or grabbed my whip so I had SOME WAY to INSIST on at least one of my aids being listened to.

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At the end of the ride, I just had to laugh. No harm was done. I doubt I undid any of May’s training, and if I did,  it would be a quick fix anyway. The horse enjoyed the ride thoroughly, and I got to use some muscles that I didn’t even know I had. How about you? Ever gone bitless?