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.

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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?

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.

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.

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.

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?

Some (Free) Tech Upgrades

In a lot of ways, riding has stayed relatively low tech. There are really no substitutes for sitting on a real live horse, in a field, doing basically the same thing thousands (millions?) of people did hundreds of years ago. However, we are in an age where nearly everyone rides with a cell phone in their pocket, or at least nearby. (just check out those new USEF rules about headphones in the warmup ring!)

There are a lot of REALLY EXPENSIVE upgrade options that I would love to own, but cannot justify the price. A clinic or a Solo Shot? A show or a Equisense? Fun fact – the training will always win out. BUT I have found some free options that I am finding are really making a difference in my rides. Of course, neither of these things are horse-specific (or I am sure they would come with high price tags!).

Google Sheets

Remember that nifty calendar from the beginning of the month?

February Schedule
This one!

Well, it came from Google Sheets. Completely free, completely editable, and, best of all, easily accessible to me on my phone. Why is that important? Because I am often in the saddle and completely at a loss for what was supposed to be on the calendar that day. I can pull up the calendar, check my schedule, adjust if needed, and get on with my ride… and all before my 10 minute walk warmup is over.

IntervalTimer

Now this one took a bit more research. For Christmas, I got a very inexpensive stopwatch. While the big, eventing watches are cool, they are also far too big for my wrist and tend to just roll around throughout a cross country course. A smaller, and cheaper, runners watch should do the same job, and just as easily.

So when I wanted to start timing the intervals of my rides, I pulled it out and set to work. And then I realized how much trouble it is to set up more than 10 intervals on a watch… Back to the drawing board. Then I figured, there should be an app for that!

(Pic of my absolute favorite eventing app, courtesy of my previous trainer’s instagram)

Eventually, I found “IntervalTracker” on the Apple App Store. It allows me to quickly and easily set up training intervals, and I can even set them to different noises so that I know when I am supposed to walk, trot, and canter, without interrupting my ride at all.

To decode this for everyone… a 10 minute warmup. Then it does an interval of low followed by an interval of high and repeats for how many sets you have. In this instance, you have 3 sets of trot with 3 minutes trotting and 1 minute walking. (Low is Trot and High is Walk). Then 2 sets of canter (Low is Canter and High is Walk). Then, I added one more set of trot (3 min trot and 1 minute of walk) before a 10 minute and 25 second cool down. Walk is a “Ding, Ding” noise, Trot is a single “Ding”, and Canter is a “Whistle”. All in all, this is working really well!

This is what the app looks like when you start. Obviously, you can choose to play music if you want too. (Thomas Rhett is a serious favorite right now)

What about you? Are there any cheap (or free) technology upgrades that you use to make your rides and horse life better?

On a totally unrelated note, has anyone ever worked with a nutritionist? I have cleaned up my diet (more vegetables, no red meat, no added sugar etc.) and have been really, really struggling with feeling normal (lots of nausea, headaches, etc).