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. 🙂

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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?)

#dressage in the rain is only ok if it comes with cookies #may #horsesofinstagram

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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.

Even Hannah is excited to finally see spring! #dogsofinstagram

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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?

Random Things I’ve Been Eyeing

May has been settling in really well in the new barn. She has decided the mini pony mare is her baby, but hasn’t been obnoxious about it. Our rides have been pretty mediocre, as I have been having a lot of trouble really getting her into the connection. I will have to get a Dressage lesson on the calendar for next week. So what does a girl do when she really has no events in the near future and riding hasn’t been awe-inspiring? She window shops.

A new XC Top?XC Top

The Aubrion Women’s Performance Cross Country Shirt caught my eye on Riding Warehouse’s site this week ($50). The Navy blue with the silver dots would be really fun for XC, but I am a bit concerned that it might be too hot. The description says it “is made from lightweight, quick drying material to keep you cool and comfortable”, but without the mesh under the arms and perforated fabric, I am not sure it would be as cool as my other shirts. Link

A Real Stock Tie?

Stock Tie

I will admit here that I have never owned a real stock tie. I have owned one stock tie in my life, and it is a SUPER CHEAP pretied stock tie. It doesn’t even need a pin because it has a few silver crystals on it, so I figured that’s good enough. I also probably don’t need a real stock tie, since I have gotten to use all my nice show clothes exactly ONCE since I got them.  However, I am tempted to do some real Dressage shows this winter, so maybe I do need one? Either way, this one from Stock Bubble REALLY caught my eye ($36). Silver and Navy and Classy? Sign me up! (Although, some may argue that I am better suited to the “I’ll Have Another – Red Wine Stock Tie”) Link

A New Helmet?

Now, I have really loved my OneK since I got it, and Facebook reminds me that it is only about 3 years old. However, there are two things that I am really torn about. 1 – the new Trauma Void helmet ($249) and 2 – the Rose Gold OneK ($260). The OneK is pretty, flattering, and I know it will be comfortable and fit great. However, the Trauma Void has new technology that might significantly decrease the severity of a brain injury. The Trauma Void will probably get a trial when I go helmet shopping next, but that can’t stop me from drooling over the OneK. Links: TraumaVoid, OneK

New Boots?

Deniro.JPG

The Super Goop repair on my tall boots has been holding well, and a friend of mine just got a patch done on her boots that looks great. However, my boots really are on their last leg, and I am debating what to do about it. If money were no object? I would LOVE to have these DeNiro Ride & Fly boots ($$$$). Basically a sneaker on the bottom of my boots? Yes Please. However, these are probably WAY outside what I would want to pay for boots, and I am not even close to being a fancy enough person to even know where to buy these things. So I would probably either replace my Ariat Heritage Contour boots ($300) with the updated version that just came out, or I would try the TuffRider Suregrip Field boots ($200). The TuffRiders are about $100 cheaper, so they might get the first try on. Links: Deniro, Ariat, TuffRider

Summer Riding Pants?

Ariat Back

Now, I have tried a couple of pairs of “cooling” riding pants. Most of them show a LOT of LUMPS AND BUMPS, which is not what I am about. I even tried the Ovation AquaX pants, but the fabric just didn’t work for me. Then, I saw that Ariat came out with the new Tri Factor Breech in knee patch and full seat. The pants are made with “Icefil® Xylitol-based cool system reduces skin temperature”. Huh… that sounds… nice lol. I want cooling breeches that offer the same look and support as a more traditional breech. Of course, Ariat only shows breeches on a model that wears a MUCH smaller size than I do (and no shoes apparently). Either way, her butt looks cute, so maybe mine would too? At $150, these aren’t cheap breeches, but they aren’t out there expensive either. With a white and tan option in both the full seat and the knee patch, they might also end up being great summer show breeches. (Am I the only weirdo kind of put off by her bare feet in these pics? Ariat makes some nice boat shoes that would solve this issue.) Link

I think that is mostly it! Obviously, nothing I need now, but I always find it fun to window show for horse stuff. What about you? Anything you have been eyeing?

Enviroequine Shampoo Review

If you follow my instragram, you would have noticed that I made a mostly on-a-whim purchase earlier in the month. Enviroequine Shampoo Plus.

My expectations for this were pretty low. I wanted to try a new shampoo on May, and after enviroequine’s decision to sever ties with Marilyn Little, I figured I should throw a little cash that way.

My first impression? WOW, this stuff smells GOOD. That soft lemongrass scent really comes through with other essential oils. Honestly, it smells more like a Lush bathbomb than a horse shampoo. It lathered up super easily. Now, I usually use a brush with my horse shampoo, rather than a sponge. I find that the cheap, plasticy brushes really help curry out any stains in May’s coat.

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I dunked her (very dirty) tail in it, and I gave her whole body a good scrub. Everything SEEMED to be doing it’s job, so I picked up the hose and rinsed off. I was surprised that it rinsed as well as it did, as I usually find such sudsy shampoos to be harder to rinse. The strong smell from the bottle didn’t cling to the horse, which was kind of a bummer. This shampoo makes them REALLY smell good: E3 Argan Oil Horse Shampoo It is not an exaggeration to say that barn workers have told me my horse smells good from a distance even days after being washed with that shampoo.

However, like I said, the enviroequine shampoo did rinse clean really quickly. Now, one of my BIGGEST pet-peeves with shampoo is when you get done washing the horse, the horse dries, and all the remaining dirt seems to lift to the surface. This shampoo did not do that, despite May still being mid-shed and really dirty. All I was left with was a clean, soft (and maybe even a little shiny) coat.

#showjumping with Ms #may ! Read how it went on the blog. Link in bio 😁#horsesofinstagram

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Would I buy it again? Maybe not. It is on the pricey side at nearly $35 for 32oz, but I think shipping was free. I do love that her coat was clean without being dried out, but she isn’t one that is prone to skin-funk so this shampoo might just be overkill for us. However, I would try some of their other products.

The E3 remains my favorite, and there is a local company similar to enviroequine that I would like to try. This product also didn’t remove all the stains from her tail and socks. If I am going for a BLINDING white, then I use this purple shampoo concentrate from champion tails: Stain Remover Powder Concentrate. Yes, you run the risk of leaving little purple spots all over your pony, and you have to follow up with a serious conditioner in the tail, but this WORKS.

What’s your favorite pony shampoo?

This review is not sponsored, and the items discussed in this review were purchased by me with my own money.

Land Rover Kentucky 3 Day – A Preview

As the best weekend all  year starts up again today, I figured it was a good time to provide some context to all those interested in what has become, in a lot of ways, a pilgrimage for eventers. This will be my second year attending the XC day with the hubs, but I encourage everyone to watch and learn from these athletes who are truly masters of our sport! (all media is from last year)

To Watch Online:

Online coverage is FREE this year through USEF. You can view it through this link, and get a free fan membership by using the code LRK3DE. If you have never watched a horse trial before, try to tune in on Saturday from 10AM – 4PM to watch the XC. Link to View.

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The Schedule:

The full schedule of everything happening at the Kentucky Horse Park can be found here. Below are the competition highlights:

Thursday, April 26

  • 9 a.m. Dressage Test Ride (presented by Hylofit) — Rolex Stadium
  • 9:30 a.m.–Noon Dressage Tests — Rolex Stadium
  • 1:30–3:40 p.m. Dressage Tests Continue — Rolex Stadium

Friday, April 27

  • 9:30 a.m.–Noon Dressage Tests Resume — Rolex Stadium
  • 1:30–4:30 p.m. Dressage Tests Continue  — Rolex Stadium

Saturday, April 28

  • 10 a.m.–4p.m. Cross-Country Test (Horses start every 4 minutes.)

Sunday, April 29

  • 1 p.m. Jumping Test Begins — Rolex Stadium
  • 3 p.m. Presentation of the Awards — Rolex Stadium

If there is anyone in particular you want to see, I would recommend checking out the ride times here.

The Competitors:

The Returning Champ – Michael Jung returns this year with fisherRocana FST to defend their title. With the removal of the Dressage coefficient, there is a lot of talk of him falling out of the top spot this year. Should make for a nail biting competition when SJ comes around on Sunday!

The Newbie – This year only welcomes one new competitor to the Kentucky Bluegrass and that is Sara Gumbiner and Polaris. Her first ride time is Dressage at 1:32PM on Thursday. Make sure to cheer extra hard for her! More information about her journey can be found on Eventing Nation’s piece: Sara Gumbiner Never Gave Up on the Kentucky Dream with Polaris

The Youngster – At 10, Johnny Royle, ridden by Joe Meyer, will be the youngest horse in the field. He’s a young horse, but he has 2 CIC3* under his belt this year (after running his last 2017 CIC 3* in November). This horse has since been withdrawn.

The Oldie But Goodie – Simply Priceless ridden by Eliza Wallace is back this year. The 17 year old thoroughbred might be the oldest horse in the pack, but let’s not forget that Phillip Dutton and Mr. Medicott were the highest scoring team last year, when Mr. Medicott was 18. Also, no one can watch Elisa’s various helmet cam videos aboard Johnny without seeing how much this horse still loves XC. Check out the latest here.

The Proven Warrior – The pair with the most four-star completions is actually NOT Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST… It’s Lynn Symansky and Donner with 8 starts and 8 finishes. Did we mention that he is also an off the track Thoroughbred? Cheer for them EXTRA hard!

The Favorite – No one! With the Dressage coefficent gone, it seems people are more willing to think of other LRK3DE winners this year… Although, I have seen Phillip Dutton’s name thrown around quite a lot aboard Z. He also gets the benefit of a super quiet Dressage test time at just 9:54AM on Thursday.

Information on the horses can be found here. 

The Shopping

If you will be visiting in person, make sure to check out the vendors map before going. I made the mistake of not doing this last year, and I found myself just OVERWHELMED with the choices.

Sponsor Village Map

Trade Fair Map

Making a Wishlist

With my sister’s birthday approaching, I was determined to get her a great gift. She has a very specific style and taste that keeps up with trends enough to be “on trend”, but most of her items are classic enough to stand the test of time. I also can’t just buy her horse stuff… since she hasn’t ridden in more than a decade and has no plans to start again. (boo)

After spending much too much time scanning through the websites of places I rarely visit (department stores, beauty boutiques, anything that shows up in a mall), I finally caved a bit and asked her if there was anything she wanted. She had a list… on a Department stores website. She forwarded it along to me, and while I didn’t have to search out the perfect gift, I did get to pick something out of a (rather long) list of things that I knew she would love. I could get her someone she wouldn’t just have to return, and I could cater my gift to my budget. Awesome! (budgets are important… unless a pony really needs something)

Since most of my family is 90% unfamiliar with my sport (especially if it is eventing specific), I figured this might actually be a helpful tool for them! I checked around on various equestrian sites (riding warehouse, dover, smartpak, horze, greenhawk, bit of britain), and it looked like only Smartpak, bit of britain, and Dover offered these features. While Dover has an amazing return policy, there isn’t a single actual store in Kentucky and the shipping costs can be a bit outrageous (and slow). Bit of Britain is also somewhere I have ordered form multiple times, but never actually returned anything to. So I decided to build a list on Smartpak!

26 Items made the list. Here are the highlights and why:

Schooling Breeches – Romfh Sarafina & Smartpak Hadley

Schooling Breeches

I own both pairs of these breeches in other colors. The Romfh Sarafina breeches are my favorite pair of pants (ANY KIND OF PANTS) I have ever owned. They are flattering, they are comfortable, they stay up on their own. And they should… They’re incredibly expensive. As a result, I only own one pair, in beige for clinics and shows where I don’t want to wear white (and we’ll get to that in a second).

The Hadley’s are much more affordable. They are SLICK though and not as flattering of a shape. However, I appreciate the fairly classic styling and, for schooling pants, they hit the mark for me. The colors aren’t too crazy without being beige, black, and brown. The rise is a bit higher than the Piper’s, which I like, but they also definitely need a belt, as (you can even see this from the pictures) they are not nearly as high rise as the Sarafina’s.

I did throw in one pair of the Kerrits “power sculpt” riding tights. I haven’t ridden in Kerrits in forever… or tights for that matter, but the marketing ploy of “Power sculpt” got me, and they’re a reasonable under $100 option.

Sunshirts – Kastel & Goode Rider

Kastel Sunshirt

I own 1 Kastel sunshirt, 2 of the Dover Cool Blast sunshirts, 1 tailored sportsman sunshirt, and 1 ariat sunshirt. The Kastel (in a light, butter color) is BY FAR MY

FAVORITE. It is the only one that I actually feel is cooler than a plain cotton t-shirt, it looks flattering, and it actually protects my skin from the sun. I got my original one for an incredible deal, and I would love to add more to my collection.

I was shocked to find that the Goode Rider sunshirt was more expensive than the Kastel’s, but I figured it would worth adding as just another option to try.

Various Show Stuff – Romfh, Ice Horse, Competition Pinny, Tredstep

White BreechesRemember when I mentioned white breeches? Yeah – I have one pair, and I absolutely detest them. I think I might still own them out of a sense of obligation for needing white breeches. (There’s no rule that says you have to wear white, any light, neutral color works). However, I am still shamed into owning a pair of pants that I hate and that hate me. Enter the Romfh Sarafina pants in white… full seat… and beautiful.

I also don’t own a single pair of ice boots. (I know, I am terrible). When I needed to ice May last year, I took the liner out of my BOT quick wraps, filled them with ice, and left that on. It worked and was effective, but I probably shouldn’t be seen in public in them. The Ice Horse Evendura Wraps would just be a nice thing to have. Oh – and laugh you hearts out – I don’t own a pinny. I have begged and borrowed (but never stole) one when I needed one, but it’s probably about time I spend the $14 and get one… I really don’t need a custom one… right?

CollarAnother “wish list” item, would be an interchangeable collar for my tredstep solo pro coat. This is a total whim item. Like, why is this thing $50? But I still think it would look nice on my Navy coat with May in a white saddle pad… without being too much. 

Items I Couldn’t Find

This was a strange thing. There are 11 breastplates on SmartPak’s website (Bit of Britain has 20 and Dover has 12) and not a single one was even the style I was looking for. Every single one attaches to the front D’s of the saddle. (not a great setup for a horse like May, where it is more likely to just pull the front of the saddle down, rather than hold the entire saddle forward). I would much prefer one that attaches to the girth. Like this one from Dover, or this one from Bit of Britain.

Also – my favorite saddle pad is the EcoGold Secure XC Saddle Pad. Smartpak apparently only sells it in White, where Dover had both black and blue, and riding wearhouse had the black version. The blue is really the one I have been eyeing.

Finally, XC boots. I put the outdated version of the professional choice XC boots on my list at smartpak, but it is the new ones you can get from riding warehouse that I am really interested in. I current have the majyk equipe boots (the Gen II versions), but I have been using them for a couple of years now, and they aren’t really in “show” condition anymore. In fact, the one boot is missing almost all of the fabric edging near the bottom. I wouldn’t mind something that fits a bit better. I have been eyeing both the Professional’s Choice Performance Elite XC Front Boots and their Performance Hybrid Splint Boots. Let’s be honest, at BN, we probably would be totally fine with just the splint boots, and they may fit May’s corgi-legs better.

Whew! Well that was a lot. Tell me – what’s topping your wish list right now?

The Staples – Products I Love

I think horse people are really picky about their “stuff”. We are typically conscious of how much this sport costs, and when we’re choosing between a new pair of breeches or a couple of lessons, we get pretty critical of our gear. We are also abusive. Change from riding pants to jeans in the middle of summer to haul some hay? NOPE. Those pants better hold up.

I am more abusive than most (I think). My saddle pads get washed every once in a while on the highest setting my washer can give me. My tack rarely gets a deep clean. My schooling clothes, including pants, go in the washer and dryer. My gloves also go in the washing machine… So what has lasted me? (and what hasn’t)

Piper Knit Breeches by SmartPak – Mid Rise Knee Patch & Full Seat

Have no doubt about these, the silicone patches are STICKY. Sometimes, I find the full seat just a bit too much (especially when I am trying to get out of my car). However, the material on them is like yoga pants (in the best way). I do prefer wearing a belt with them (as I do with all the piper pants), but I don’t feel like I get “saggy butt” in these. If you were disappointed with the original pipers, I would give these a try.

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My navy blue pair of the knits

As for the piper line, I have the originals. I find the material too stiff and the cut of the waist a bit odd. I still wear them, but rarely. I, for a while, was IN LOVE with the classics with the side zip. I mean, they looked like the tailored sportsmans and they stayed up on me! Then… every pair I owned started to disintegrate. Stitching that was there when I put them on, magically dissolved by the end of my ride. I had ridden in each pair for about an hour, once a week for a year, and they fell apart.

I can honestly say that I will never buy them again. Smartpak offered me a 50% coupon on my next pair of piper breeches, and they allowed me to apply the coupon to the knit breeches (which had just come out). Otherwise, I am not sure I would have ever tried another pair of pipers. Of course, if I could afford to ride in the Romfh Sarafina’s everyday, I totally would, but at $150+ per pant.. I will ride in my pipers for now.

Piper Holes
Yes, those are holes at my crotch and in the euroseat… And these devloped in one day

Matte One-K Helmet

After I fell off in my Samshield…

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I was reluctant to spend that kind of money on a helmet again. I am a strong safety advocate. I always ride in a helmet. So while I didn’t want to spend $500+ on a helmet, I was willing to do it if that was all that fit me well. Luckily, the husband (then fiance) lived near a Dover store at the time, so I tried on a bunch of helmets. IRH, Ovation, GPA, One-K, Samshield, Charles Owen, etc etc etc. The One-K fit my head like the samshield but was deeper and, somehow, even more comfortable or less than half the price. SOLD!

If you'd show in it, you should train in it. #rain #eventing @onekhelmets

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Since then, it has taken abuse through wind, rain, and dust. And, to me at least, it still looks as good as the day I bought it (with the use of a damp towel). Its comfortable in the winter and nice and cool in the summer. The only problem? I really want on in Navy too. 😉

Heritage Premier Show Gloves

Now, I know most people are HUGE Roeckl glove fans. They swear by them. I was convinced of trying them over a new pair of the Heritage gloves a couple of years ago. Never again.

Gloves

The heritage gloves are soft, comfortable, and breathable. They fit well and the flexibility across the knuckles is a really nice feature. They also last. While the Roeckls fell apart on me after a new months, my current heritage gloves are pushing a year. A year of sweat, heat, rain, washing, etc. etc. They also come in both brown and navy, which I think are fun

What are your staples, and have you tried any hyped products that have left you disappointed?

 

The Unicorn Saddle Search Recap

Let me start this out by saying that I started our whole saddle shopping adventure more than 6 months ago. (May 8th was the official “start date” of this adventure. The goal? Find something that fits my horse REALLY well that I do not hate to ride in.

I tried the following over those 6 months.

  1. Albion K2 Jump (original jump saddle. Sold for around $1,800 used)
  2. Duett Bravo (around $1,500 new)
  3. County Saddle (no idea how much it cost. tried a barn-mates saddle, and it wasn’t even close enough to ride in)
  4. Black Country Solare (around $2,500 used, around $4K new)
  5. Prestige Eventer (about $3K used)
  6. Stubben Roxanne (about $5K new with the modifications I needed)
  7. Black Country Wexford (about $2K)
  8. Stubben Genesis (about $1K used)

 

There was also a wide range of other saddles that I seriously considered:

  1. Amerigo Saddles
    • $5K new?… probably more
    • I never could find a local rep or any used saddles in a wide. That was probably a bad sign.
  2. Patrick Saddles
    • $6K new minimum with nothing to actually try on my horse
    • I was told that they could bring me a medium tree to try… but I would have to ride a different horse. Sorry, but for $$$$, I need May to also agree that she likes it.
  3. Bliss of London Saddles
    • I saw these at Rolex and really liked them. They have a bunch of different tree options and some of them looked promising.
    • Loxley saddles start new at around $2,600, but bad reviews regarding customer kept me on the sidelines
  4. Another Albion
    • I couldn’t find any in the specs I was interested in trying.
    • The local rep was not helpful. She answered my inquiry with an “I can order what you’re looking for if you want to buy it…” Sorry, but I really need to sit in something before buying it.
  5. CWD
    • I took one on trial that claimed to be a wide… and turned out to be a narrow. I at least got my money back (including shipping) on that one.
  6. Fairfax Saddles
    • They literally do not make these saddles larger than a 17.5″
  7. Philippe Fontaine Saddles
    • The reviews on them are mixed, but the price of the one I was looking at was more than comfortable for my budget. I even found one in a wide and in the proper seat size.
    • Unfortunately, (or fortunately) I have gotten very good at looking at pictures of gullets and deciding if they would work. This one was a no. (after waiting 3 weeks for pictures)

Final Verdict!

Does this make my butt look big? 🤣#horsesofinstagram #thelwellpony #fluffypony #may

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Like my wedding dress, I ended up buying the cheapest saddle I sat in over the course of the entire 6 months. I bought the Stubben Genesis Jump Saddle in an 18″ with a 32cm tree. In fact, I now own 2 Stubben Genesis Saddles in a 32cm tree because it is almost the exact same model as my Dressage saddle, which May loves and no saddle fitter has ever been able to find a flaw with. (the Dressage saddle seat is 0.5″ larger)

I have now owned the saddle for a couple of weeks, and I have a couple of early thoughts. (sorry for this “listy” post)

  1. It is NOT a lot of saddle.
    • My Albion had LARGE front blocks. This Stubben has almost none. It has a very close contact feel, but it does not lock you into place in any sense of the word. After riding in my Dressage saddle for so many months, this is taking some getting used to.
    • might end up swapping the blocks out to the velcro versions and getting the larger blocks as an options.
  2. The act of jumping has not gotten easier.
    • I think this has more to do with my comfort level with this “less than” saddle than anything else. With increased strength and balance, I think it will feel totally normal again.
  3. But jumping May has
    • Jumping May around typically “wakes her up” and she gets a bit rushy and opinionated and stiff. She even used to crow hop after fences in my Albion if we took a huge distance or hadn’t jumped in a while.
    • In the Stubben? She has actually seemed to get MORE relaxed the longer that we jump, even if we haven’t jumped in a while. Another thing to continue to keep an eye on.
  4. I forgot how much my Dressage saddle sucked when I first got it.
    • Stubben wear like iron. They last forever, and I would think most people have probably plunked one on the back of a school horse when they were first learning to ride.
    • That also means that they are TOUGH to break in. My dressage saddle was also only slightly used when I bought it, and it took probably a full year to get it fully broken in. With similar leather and treatment, I hope my “new” jumping saddle takes the same amount of time to break in.

Here’s to celebrating the end of a long search, and to hoping to not have to do it again for a LONG TIME.

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