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?

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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. 

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?

So What’s the Plan?

I think I mentioned that, during my first ride on May at the new barn, NT asked me what the plan was with May this year. My original response was that I needed lessons, which is 100% true, and I have been able to take both a Dressage and a Jumping lesson within the first couple weeks since moving in. As a result, I find myself looking at the calendar and seriously considering what it is I want to do.

There are a ton of options, including just jumper shows every Wednesday night during July and August, schooling horse trials at least once a month, and maybe even some opportunities to do something fun with the local hunt club, like a hunter pace or open cubbing. The dream schedule?

  • Register as a member of the local mini-trail series and seriously campaign in the rest of them at BN.
  • See if the local fox hunt is something I want to actively get involved in.
  • Put May in full training with NT for the week I am gone for a week in July.
  • Do the 1 recognized event that is near us in September.
  • Participate in the winter Snowbird Dressage series (that starts in November). I am not a DQ, but I could totally play one on TV.

However, the truth of the matter is that, while May and I may be ready and able to do ALL the things, each of these things costs money. (off topic – got the cambox working for my Dressage lesson. Quality is better on my computer than it showed up on instagram, and I need to work on some of it, but it is still SO COOL)

Some unexpected life expenses means that pretty much everything outside of lessons is on hold for the near future. In the meantime, I am working on a cost analysis for each event and looking at my stack of horse goods to evaluate if there is anything worth selling. (honestly, I really don’t think there is, as I am pretty frugal about only investing in pieces that I will use and keep for a long time.) I am even debating doing lessons every other week and putting aside the extra cash for an event or two in the fall; however, this might just put us farther behind than we already are.

I just keep reminding myself that May is 12 (or 9 or 15… somewhere in there) and in good health. There is no real reason why she couldn’t keep doing BN for the next several years with proper maintenance, so I am hoarding my pennies, thinking up ideas for a side hustle, and debating just selling a kidney. This will be our second year mostly sitting it out, so it’s tough to be patient. What about you? How do you juggle the various horse-related expenses with real life expenses?

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