Friday, April 25, 2014

Hello 2 feet

That's right, yesterday we jumped over 2' bareback! 25" to be exact. 
2014 goal #4 ACHIEVED!

Somehow it always looks bigger on horseback. Now it looks puny.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Raising the bar

Part of the reason 2' jumps bareback were so easy this week is because I've been consistently jumping 2'3" courses. And jumping them well. Sam's been fantastic, if a bit lazy - but we're communicating really well. It's totally boosted my confidence and I've been daring enough to up the ante.

Here's what we jumped this week. All the verticals are 2'3" (except the entry to the in-and-out) and the blue jump is actually 2'4".

Today though, jumpers were kicked out of this arena to add more rubber to the footing and I imagine we won't be back in until the winter as the dressage folk will want to take over and practice on a full court (our indoor is slightly smaller then 1/2 court) for show season and dressage schooling shows we host.

So our jumps were to be moved today to the cedar chip arena, lovingly named, Jump Arena, which underwent a minor overhaul this winter to help with sogginess. The north 1/2 is pretty good, so we'll be using that side (where the bareback jumps are) until the south side packs down from the aeration it got.

It's an adjustment to the softer footing, but we knew this was coming and we've been doing last 10mins of riding in the softer footing for the last 2 weeks. We'll have to ride with a little more power in the softer footing and I hope it doesn't ramp up Sam in a negative way.

After some travel for me during the next few weeks, I want to start adding in 2'6" jumps so I can prep for my goal of schooling full 2'6" courses in prep for shows at that height.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bareback day

Recently, I've tried to incorporate one bareback riding day a week. It's usually my shortest ride of the week, probably around 20-30mins. It's a lot of walking, some trotting - posting and sitting - and a goodly amount of canter. Then my groin hurts - I need more flexibility!

I like to do the bareback days when my riding buddy can't make it to the barn, and/or days I'm sleepier then others. Yesterday was both as well as rainy, so it was a good inside exercise.

Photo op at B
We finished inside and it stopped raining AND the sun was out. So we ventured to the jump arena outdoors. Two jumps were already set and I don't think we've jumped bareback since October when we met my jump bareback goal (19").

Sam is the ultimate poser. I line him up, tell him to wait and then he looks at me on his own.
Smart, dark and handsome. Pony Love!

Both jumps were 22" and EASY. Off a left turn, we chipped into the red jump, no biggie, and then he gave me the hard side, right flying change. WIN!

24" is on my goal list for 2014. I think we'll tackle that easily, soon. Because I really want to hit my optional goal of bareback and bridle less. :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

TBT: First Dressage Show

On October 7, 2011, five months after getting Sam, I entered us in a recognized local dressage schooling show. We were randomly assigned #45 for the day, a very near and dear to my heart number.

After our fabulous ride
It was my first overnight show (overnight for Sam, I live 4 miles away). We did one test each day.
My first button braids. I braided new ones for day 2.
So handsome!
Day one, we scored 67.50% for Training Level, test 1. And our very first ribbon together was blue.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gummi Ponies

14.2 Studios by Custom Stall Signs on Etsy (also on FB & Instagram)
Named Gummi Ponies, but actually hand cast made of hard plastic resin, these $15-$23 ponies sell in under 5 mins every time the artist posts them on her Etsy page, no matter if she posts 10 or 60 of them. The far right was a gift from the artist, but the rest I was lucky to score in a few of her flash sales. This odd lighting pic doesn't do justice to the detail - like the amazing running braids some of these guys have.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Piper Knee Patch Breeches by SmartPak Review


My natural waist is 35", my hips are 42" and my thighs are 27" at the widest point. I am curvy with serious junk in my trunk and I wear stretchy size 14 jeans that are just a little loose on me (enough that I have to wear a belt if I don't want to pull them up all day). But 12s are uncomfortably tight.

I have never tried on TS breeches so I can't comment on them. I have only touched them. To me they are between FITS and Piper in softness.

I started out in Tough Rider pull-ons, switched to Kerrits tights in all varieties of knee patch (classic, flow-rise, micro cord, channel cord) and landed for a few years on FITS. Started in pull-on deerskin full seats and switched to FITS Bekas and Kates knee patch when I stopped riding dressage.

I'm currently between sizes in FITS and wanted to branch out. And who can resist the stylish cuteness of SmartPak's Pipers? Not this fashionista!
Charcoal/Lt Grey Pipers,
Ariat shirt and vest


My first pair was a size 34 in the Merlot. They are super soft to the touch. I had no idea my FITS were scratchy (people's reviews used that word) because they were all I knew.

I pulled them on, and I do mean pull because they are very stretchy, and very fitted. They fit my big butt and taper to my waist in the back quite well - yay for not gaping. At first they were tight on my thighs but after 5 mins they fit very comfortably and after washing, non-issue. I do have to do the wiggle dance to pull the crotch into place - and that is every time I pull them up (including potty breaks).

Like most Piper wearers, I do have to wear a belt or they will shimmy down after a dozen steps. I don't mind too much because it gives me a reason to add to my belt collection, haha. I found for me, that 2" belts work best (TS makes 2" and the curved ones are my fav) but 1.5" will get the job done.

They did pill at the inner thighs and calves after wearing - but a lot of my pants do so I didn't think that was an anomaly. And not surprising given the softness of the fabric. I just used a fabric shaver and I only had to do it once - so totally not a big deal to me.

Charcoal/Lt Grey Pipers,
Ariat shirt, Dimacci Belt
I find them to very repellent and even when I get dust on them from grooming/blankets, it brushes right off. With my FITS, the dirt would kinda brush off, but over time, you could see the dirt was living between the threads and eventually the dark colors were fading. So far, the Pipers are going strong and wash like iron. I wash with my regular clothes with regular detergent (no scent/dye) and hang dry.

The zipper does like to inch down so I'd like to see them have a 'locking' zipper like jeans have. They do have a lot of stretch which I like in a breech. I like breeches fitted, probably comes from starting in tights.

The first pair in 34s and fit just fine but I felt there was a little bagginess in the knees and could probably go down a size. So then I got some other colors in 32s. These were a little sausage-y to start on the backs of my thighs, but after 5mins, look like a million bucks - and after a few wears, a non-issue. So I'm happy with the 32s. I would feel better losing a few muffin top inches in the 32s, especially because it's accented by a belt which also made me start tucking in shirts. But either way, SO flattering on my butt. :)

I used to carry my iPhone4 sideways in front pocket of my Bekas and could ride like that, but the front pockets of the Pipers go lengthwise and while long enough, but not something you can bend nicely wearing. Eventually, I discovered my iPhone fits in the back pocket fabulously AND I can ride with it there too - but probably only cuz my butt is so wide the phone part totally clears the saddle, haha.

Charcoal/Lt Grey Pipers-side view
I like the Pipers so much that I sold all but one of my XL FITS (I had them all in both XL and L sizes) and replaced them with Pipers. I may sell my Large FITS eventually, but will wait until I fit them to make that call.

We'll see how the Pipers do in the summer heat. I could ride my FITS all year and stay cool. I do still wear Kerrits Sit Tight & Warms in the coldest of winter. It's been almost 70 this past week and I can feel the Pipers sticking to the backs of my legs when I dismount. I'll have to throw on my FITS this week and see if it's the same. If not, I'll reserve some FITS for the hottest days.

I can totally see how Pipers would not fit every body type well because they do work for my curves - so I believe it when people review them and have weird fit issues. And if I actually lose weight this year and lose some junk in my trunk, I might end having to look something else. But they definitely have their place in the market.

I got nearly all my Pipers for around $60 due to sales. So I feel good about the pricing.

The seven pairs I own are below with color terminology that makes sense to me. The last pair on the right are my FITS Kates. I put this lineup together so I could have a handy reference to make sure I had or acquire coordinating tops :)

My Pipers

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hello Trails

It's been a LONG time since we've been trail riding - not counting the 'trail' around the woods of the seven acres at the back of my barn's property. We're talking legit horse trails around the local state park/lake.

There was no stopping for photo ops, so you get blurry.
My riding buddy, Amy, has an eventer friend who picked us up in her three horse trailer this weekend. We drove the 10 miles or so to the site and off we went. It was great! Other then the crick in my upper back that didn't want to work itself out and my right knee was feeling some ouch by then end of the 40min or so ride, it was super fun. The nice part was that there wasn't grass on the sides of the trail but rather just underbrush so Sam didn't try to eat the whole time. :D

He was very forward and we got to trot up some serious elevation in a few places. I don't think he hates being last, but when we get going I can tell he'd rather pass. But he did a great job of listening even if I had to use a lot of poundage to make my point.

There was talk of a weekly date, but I'm not sure if my body can do this every week - haha. And there was some major dragon snorting from Sam as we were going up the hills, haha. Maybe a switch to my dressage saddle will help with my knee - or lengthen my stirrups more then I did on my jump saddle. And get a massage!

Posing after our adventure

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Junk is in your Trunk Blog Hop

I'm only about two weeks behind on the current blog hop from Viva Carlos, but I finally took some updated pictures of my tack locker at the barn. Keep in mind that I also have 4 'trunks' at home that I should talk about another day.

Tack lockers for about 1/2 the barn
At my barn, our personal tack lockers are approximately 6' tall, 3' wide x 3' deep, complete with lock. They are not air/rodent tight and anyone with a hammer can whack off my lock, but it's a less dusty place and nothing accidentally walks away.

Because we have a hallway of the lockers for the front half of the barn (more lockers in the back) it's impossible to stand back and take decent pictures.

Here's a compilation of the front view, top to bottom. Feel free to just zip through the pics, but you're welcome to read exactly what's inside.

  • Smelly MTG and gloves on top, with tape measure for jump folks to use.
  • Stable blanket, sheet and current other blanket (rain proof 1/4 sheet right now) on shelf, left side. All in bags to deter mice from nesting.
  • Clean saddle pads on top. All in photo are AP pads except bottom purple pad is dressage. I probably have about 8 more pads at home.
  • Leopard covered saddle is my jump (brown for brown saddle), zebra is my dressage (black for black saddle). Both live on tube racks covered with old shaped hunter pads wrapped around using the velcro billet straps to secure. :)
  • Left of saddles is a 3 rack swinging blanket bar. Houses my bareback pad/cinch on the bottom and top two are for in use pad and/or drying of 1/4 sheet, etc.
  • Right of saddles are my 2 every day bridles, one for dressage (Stubben) one for jump (Harwich). Spare rubber 'rain' reins hang under jump bridle.

  • Under the saddles is my bath/anything bucket which houses my lunge line. Drawers below that are:
    1. sunglasses, bit warmer, current gloves, saddle rain cover
    2. browbands, grab straps, other small strap goods
    3. no bow wraps and standing wraps
    4. spare leathers, socks, spurs
  • In the blue basket is leather cleaner/conditioner, medical supplies
  • Drawers beneath that contain polo wraps, small clippers, weight tape, odds and ends
  • Bottles of shampoo, hair moisturizer, fly spray, vetrolin are nested between drawers.
  • Groom tote and paddock boots at the front. Rain boots also live there from time to time. Open front boots and bell boots for jumping days live in groom tote.
  • Behind the saddle pad bars are hangers for rope halter/lead, show bridle/lead and stud chain and 2 light jackets that live at the barn. 
  • Tucked between the wall and the drawers you see is a surcingle and lunge whip.
  • Fore-front is spare bridle/lead used for rolling. I don't like to have him roll in his leather halter (lives by stall) cuz I want to keep it nicer. Also there's a blue zilco cavesson with happy mouth bit for lunging (or specifically when I was using my trainer's Pesssoa Rig). 


  • One the right door are my dressage and jump girths as well as sweat scraper.
  • Spare and also 'show' helmet lives below that. I only use this helmet for shows and when my other one isn't dry from the day before, haha.
  • Left door houses all my whips, everyday helmet (left unzipped to air out) and 1/2 chaps.
There's a picture of Sam taped in my locker from last summer when I went on vacation for 20 days and had ppl riding Sam - so they would know what his tack is supposed to look like with the 1/2 pad and such. Crazy mom! It didn't occur to me before to put anything there, so it ended up just being a nice photo to have :)

If you look at the bottom of the last photo, you can see a yellow-y color at the base of the locker. It's wood putty and it also lines the corners and top crevices to stop the mice who were running through the backs of the lockers having parties everywhere. Now they can only get in my locker through the spaces my front doors leave. I had goodly bit of mice poop before I did it and since then, not a single one. :D

Anyway, that's all my goodies. I have NO IDEA how most of you fit all your daily stuff into a regular trunk. I like to be organized as you can see, but not that compartmentalized. I'm very glad and realize now, very lucky to have a giant personal locker - that I totally designed and installed all the fixtures myself.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Love my Harwich Bridle by SmartPak

For something was going to be my 'rain' bridle, it's sure turned out to be badass awesome.

I bought this bridle new off ebay about 2.5 years ago for around $127. I think the going rate at SP at the time was $145. They are more now, but exactly the same. A barn mate just ordered one in. 

Specifically, mine is the Harwich Padded Fancy Stitch Bridle by SmartPak. I did try the plain raised version at one point, wanting a thinner nose back, but it was to the point of oddly flimsy and the fit was weird - so the plain one it went back.

Harwich, pictured at 4 months old, not used consistently yet

From this photo I decided my horse looked ridiculous with that donut on his nose (Harwich) and started shopping for unpadded thin nosebands. I've found a few but I only use them for shows.
It really does come this color, but ends up a lovely
chocolate with a hint of havana in the sunlight

I never used to like laced reins, they would tear up my hands. Apparently soft ones make a difference.
But now I won't ride with anything else. I don't like Edgewood laced reins though, because the lacing is too thin and it has that cutting in my hands kind of feel. 

I do own high-end brands like an ADT Imperial bridle, so when I say my Harwich is of comparable quality, and it very nearly is, I'm not making an uneducated comparison. The sizing is right on too, as both his ADT & Harwich are cob and fit beautifully. (Stubben and Courbette also cob)

Here it is now, after 2.5 yrs, at least 2 of which is full time schooling use, which means 3-6 days a week. And it's the piece of tack I take the least care of so it doesn't get cleaned monthly either.

After a clean & condition this weekend.
It was soft and supple from the very first day. It was very thirsty to begin with and always seems to be, but no worse for the wear because of it. And the most important feature I require on bridles is no plastic-y coating (Vespucci seems to the worst offender). It should feel and *smell* like leather from the first day. And the Harwich does.

Sammy's so cute in his darkened Harwich :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Great Rides

I've been having really great rides between the rain showers. Sam's been perfect even on the lazy side which just helps to build trust in him again. As opposed to him pulling and running around and landing low.

We've been consistently jumping 2'3" - another confidence builder. Jumped a 2'6" wide oxer the other day as well. :)