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?

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Cheap, DIY Boot Hole Repair

Now, I always have the best of intentions for all my tall boots. I plan to wipe them down every ride, polish them as necessary, and avoid water/mud/etc at all costs. However, life doesn’t always work that way. I forget my spare boots at home, and have to trudge through the mud in my tall boots; I get talking with a friend and end up in the wash stall without changing; or I am so exhausted after a show or XC school that my boots end up in the back of my car, covered in sweat, for at least a couple of days.

As a result, my poor, everyday Ariat tall boots developed a pretty sizeable hole. Now, I have a gorgeous pair of tall boots that I got for showing, but they are stiff and tight and just… not what I want to wear to the barn everyday. I want to wear my broken in boots. The one whose toe is so worn, I can’t even polish them properly anymore. The pair I could walk a mile in, and not have my back hurt. The pair that is so broken in that they have that little extra grip on XC. However, this was definitely an issue:

I debated just getting a new pair of boots. The current pair are being discontinued (Ariat Heritage Contours), so they are on a steep discount. However, they are still more than $150, and I hadn’t been able to find the exact size I was looking for. The new version, while I am sure it is lovely, is about $300. At this point, I figured I would take matters into my own hands. I would fix my boots myself. Enter, Shoe Goo.

Shoe Goo

This stuff was black and at my door for less than $7 with Amazon Prime. It promised a waterproof seal on leather. Why. Not. The instructions were pretty straight forward: apply to clean dry surface, let dry for 24 hours, and do not let it touch anything you don’t want it to get on or you can’t throw away. So I decided to fix my boot in the middle of our kitchen island, while drinking a strawberry daiquiri. The result?

No. It is not beautiful, but it is fully sealed. It is also nearly impossible to see when I am in the saddle, and I figure with a bit more abuse and dirt (and maybe even some polish for the rest of the boot), it will be even less noticeable. The finish is more rubbery than plasticy, so the boot maintained its flexibility. Could I have done a cleaner job with some disposable sponges or something? Sure… but I really just wanted a functional boot back and to seal off the damage so it didn’t spread. I think that was achieved.

I ended up riding in the boots on Sunday and doing a total of 25 minutes of trot sets. The seal held, and I didn’t notice any uncomfortable stiffness or rubbing near the ball of my foot, where I had made the repair. So was the $7 worth it? Totally. I am calling it a (small) step up from duct tape!

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.

through-the-hole

Saddle Trial 2 – Black Country Solare

A combined series of events put my saddle hunt on hold for a couple of week, but on Friday a Black Country Solare showed up at my door. I knew literally nothing about this saddle other than it might fit my horse and work for me.

It showed up absolutely beautiful. Black with blue piping and blue stitching? Count me in! 

The leather was great quality, and it was well equipped with two pairs of D rings and blocks.

The box was even an improvement!

My only concern was it looked a touch narrow, but I figured it was close enough for a test ride.


Overall, it looked a bit high in front but sat level, and it didn’t seem especially tight around the shoulders. I took it for a few test rides, and they all ended with some variation of the below sweat marks. However, May seemed to like the saddle. She even stood completely still at the mounting block, something we have always struggled with.


For me, the saddle fit my legs great. I felt it helped me keep my ankle in line with my hip, and it helped my leg stay steady over fences. See below for one of the first jumps we have jumped in about 4 months. To me, the greatest compliment I can give a jump saddle is that I don’t think about it when I am jumping, and I didn’t have to with this one. A saddle that holds me in or pushes me out of balance is a big no no. One that makes me feel like I can do what I need to, while supporting me is awesome. ​


However, then I watched this video is slow motion, and I saw the below:


My leg is in a great position, but the saddle is clearly grabbing at May’s shoulders. Damn… If you watch it in even slower motion, you will see the saddle snap back down onto May’s back as she extends her front end forward. Definitely not ideal, and not something I would want to have happening on a regular basis. Our distance to this jump was good, if not a touch long, and I would hate to see what this saddle would do at a tight spot or over uneven ground on cross country. Unfortunately, that means I had to pass on this one too…

Then, I noticed some swelling/irritation around those dry spots, and I decided it really wasn’t wide enough for poor May. (good sport about it though!)

I give this saddle a solid 8/10. Leather and balance was great for me, but I am still not 100% sure a wider tree would be right for May. I’m still debating buying a new one, in the wider tree, but I have a few other things to try first. Next up – a 34cm 18″ Prestige saddle.

As for why May is wearing a fly mask? Well I showed up to the barn a couple of weeks ago to find this:


A nice swollen, dripping eye. She ended up having a small scratch, and I am riding her in the fly mask as a precaution. The vet has seen it twice, and it appears to be fully resolved at this point. Small speed bumps really can slow you down!

Saddle Trial 0 – CWD

Technically, this should have been the 2nd saddle trial, but I will get to why it doesn’t qualify at all in a minute.

I saw a great deal on ebay for a CWD saddle, 18″ on a 5″ tree (aka a wide). Every saddle fitter I have spoken to says that while May has big shoulders, she is not an incredible wide, backed horse. To be honest, I believe them because the wither tracings I have do not show a table-backed horse. The CWD was worn with some cosmetic issues, but I was assured it was in sound, use-able condition, and for the price, I could afford to fix the issues it had. It even came with a 14 day trial! Cool.

First Red Flag – The box showed up and was basically random strips of cardboard taped together with packing tape. No Joke. Check This Out.

I ended up taking pictures of every angle of the box before I opened it too… just in case there was damage to the saddle. 

Second Red Flag – The return address on the UPS label had been completely torn off.

I kept telling myself that I bought from a seller through eBay with PayPal protection and that the ability to return the saddle was clearly written into the terms, but I am not going to say that didn’t make my stomach tie up in knots. I opened up the box, stuck my hand under the pommel to pull the saddle out… and I immediately knew it was too narrow. I didn’t even have to look at it because my hand barely fit between the panels.

How narrow? 4″ dot to dot instead of 5″ dot to dot.

Ha…. ha…. ha….

The difference? Basically my wide saddle just became a narrow… Damn. Other than that, leather was beautiful (despite being miscolored, as expected), and everything seemed sound about it. Unfortunately, that tree was never going to fit on my horse. I let the seller know, and she told me it did measure as a 5″ tree and that I should try it anyway… I emailed her back a few hours later to tell her it didn’t work and that I would like to return it.

White marks are just adhesive from where the tape touched the saddle during shipping. It would’ve come off easily, but you can see the other discoloration here. 


I got a return label quickly and was able to ship the saddle back.

Third Red Flag – The return label was to a different city/state than where the saddle came from.

Oh well. It was provided by eBay from the seller, so that was where the saddle was going. It shipped back quickly, and I received a refund for everything I spent almost as soon as the saddle was returned.

I am not sure how to rate this one. It was a total fail that locked up almost my entire budget for more than a week for a product I couldn’t even sit in. However, the whole return process was easy enough. I am going to give it a 5/10. Disappointing, but luckily not disastrous.

Saddle Trial 1 – Duett Bravo

For me, one of the most important aspects of shopping for any high-priced horse stuff  is customer service. With a restrictive budget for saddle shopping, I know that I can’t go out and buy a $6K saddle. However, when I am spending what is, to me, a lot of money, it is so important that I feel like I am treated fairly, if not well.

In that category, Duett saddle gets a 10/10. Sheri is responsive and accommodating. The whole team works to provide you with the best option possible, and they are still positive and responsive. Even if you choose not to buy, but more on that in a minute. 

The saddle arrived in a timely fashion and in great condition (new but has been used for other demo rides)


The Leather wasn’t buttery calfskin (which of course I wasn’t expecting) but it reminded me a lot of the leather from my old Crosby, made by Miller. The kind of leather that breaks in beautifully and will last you a while. 

The fit on May was even good, even if the saddle sat up above her a bit more than I am used to. Either way, the panels sat flush from front to back. 

 

However, the pommel of the saddle sat a bit low. Hmmm… ok. Well I have often hated saddles for making me feel blocked in front because May had such big shoulders and hoop trees tend to be flat in front unless you get the pommel artificially built up. Not a big deal to me. 

So I put a pad under it, put stirrups on (under the top flap and wrapped to prevent wear) and I swung up. At the walk? No problems. I had heard some people complain about the width of the twists of these saddles, but I often ride May bareback, and it doesn’t get much wider than that. 

We walked for a while then trotted… and I felt like I was going to fall over her shoulder. I played around with the stirrups and couldn’t get a great feel. I really really wanted it to work, but I felt my back and core working overtime to try and keep my shoulders, hips, ankles in line. 


I then tried pulling the stirrups. Maybe the whole saddle is just tipped forward. First of all, my horse is a saint because new saddles and no stirrups and my least sticky breeches meant there was LOTS of slipping and sliding going on. However, I no longer felt out of balance. Hmmmmm 


I had some pictures taken from the side with stirrups and without. And the issue turns out the stirrup bar was just in the wrong place for me. Damn -.-

Ultimate decision – nice saddle especially for the price range if it works for you and your horse. Sheri and the team are wonderful, so I would recommend at least trying them if you have a wide horse and are in the market. In the future, I may try one of their Dressage saddles. 

We did get to take one jump in May! 😂😂😂 as for next steps, the Bravo is heading back to its home. I spoke to a Black Country rep who has something that will probabky work… but it’s out on trial this week. 

In the meantime, I might take something out of the box on trial… like a wide French saddle, since everyone keeps telling me she just has big shoulders and isn’t as wide down her back as I think.