Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hoarders: Tack Trunk Edition

Most of you saw and/or participated in the "what's in your tack trunk" blog hop that was going around. Y'all had tidy little inventories of useful things and it was cute.

I was over here like "I have no goddamn clue what's in that giant abyss and I don't really want to find out". As Lindsey can tell you, I've been promising to go through it for like... a month. And hadn't. Oh and yes, it was/is my daily driver. I'd just sort of sit on the lid to squish it down and latch it each day.

But due to some unforeseen circumstances the other day,  I finally had time to go through it. Here's what I found:
bridle rack above
jumbled mess below
 I tried to make a bet with friends that there were 8+ sets of polos in there, but no one would take those odds.
This photo shows 7 full sets of polos in various states of cleanliness. There are also 3 pairs of polos and there was another full set ready for put on C-rage. That doesn't include two full sets of bandage liners or two full sets of boots.

I also had:
two sad pairs of bell boots
Two whips and a lunge line
eight bonnets
Plus there was this pile:
So yeah, that's a quarter sheet, saddle cover, ogilvy pad, mattes shims, and you can just see the tboots. All good things, but possibly not things that actually fit in said trunk. This list actually isn't comprehensive. I had my CO sparkle helmet in a bag with a spare hat and gloves, plus my beater Ovation helmet and winter gloves, plus a couple of mismatched gloves and of course my brush box.

In my defense, I cleaned out the brush box a few weeks back to make room for fancy new brushes, so that part actually wasn't terrible.

I took everything out of the trunk, sorted it by whether it needed to be thrown away, given away, washed and put away, or washed and brought back. Then I threw away the trash, anonymously shoved shit to give away in barnmates' stuff, and tossed the other piles in the back of my car.


Obviously, an empty trunk helps no one, so it was time to start over. 
all I need is one cooler HAHAHA no
Here you see the bottom section of the carefully restocked tack trunk.
That's better
We started with a cooler, then added in the fancy CO for clinics and spur-of-the-moment photoshoots, included the tack cleaning kit (oh yeah, that was in there too), stowed the "bad boy" halter, the lunge line, and a dressage whip. My full set of DSBs (the only acceptable princess boot), one set of liners, and one clean-ish set of polos (much preferred to DSBs), and my mattes half pad. 

And look at that. You can still see open space in case I need to add something else. I do plan to keep two sets of polos and liners in there eventually, but laundry needs to happen first. 
 Add in the brush box and life is looking good.
 A couple caveats here--Courage's blankets live in an oversized rubbermaid tub outside his stall. You can barely see my wash bucket in the bottom right corner of the picture above--it also doesn't live in the trunk. I have an extensive horse-shit-organization system at home in my garage (which it looks like I'll be going through and cleaning asap).

Oh and I cleaned ALL the leather tack at the barn and reorganized. Now it looks like this:
three bridles, one martingale, one drop
I will admit that it's rather refreshing to actually know what I have around. Plus maybe now I look less like a hoarder? Just try not to think about how all that shit is now somewhere else. (such as in my car. hush you.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Despite inhabiting a rather-desolate corner of the horse world, I occasionally venture out to places where other bloggers live and have awesome meet ups.
had to selfie the epic ribbon wall
This past weekend, I met Gingham and Windsor of the desperately-needing-a-renaming Pia's Parade. I've met Gingham before and we all know she's awesome, so let's get to the meat of this post:

I know you're all dying to know--is he as dreamy in real life as he appears on the internet?

So. Not only is he the drop-dead-gorgeous-with-a-sexy-accent horse he also has majorly-perfect-dapples, floats above the ground, and omg. Personality. Omg. I love an interactive horse who isn't rude and Windsor is +++ <3 <3 <3 LOVE. He's bright. He's busy. He's gregarious.

You doubt?

I made a fangirl video of him. I venture most of you know how I am about videos--I rarely take them and never watch them. Unless they're of Windsor. Then I learn how to use my editor so I can make multiple clips together and add different music.

If there was any way I could have sneaked him into my carryon and not had Gingham instantly murder me, this fellow would have come home.

That said, it's just as well he's not mine because OMG do not let Gingham undersell her riding. He was a very good boy the whole time and yeaaaaaaah my uncoordinated self would definitely NOT have stayed on. So. Much. Bounce.

If I had to say one bad thing about him, it would be that he really gives no shits about tiny jumps. Because he is so talented. And beautiful. So beautiful.

I don't really know how to wrap this post up. BLOGGING Y'ALL.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Teach Me Tuesday: Products for Perfect Tails

Full disclosure: my shampoo at home cost $4/bottle and I don't use conditioner. And I think my hair care routine is excessive. 

BUT. I am a big proponent of perfect tails, especially since I have a horse with kick ass tail genetics. I mean, let's be real, that's 90% of the tail battle anyways. 
#hairgoals #lifegoals #tarraisbadass

I've been picking Tarra's brain about hair products lately because let's face it: she deals with more hair than possibly anyone else in the blogosphere. I never thought this would happen, but she's actually changed me from my all-vetrolin all the time stance. Now I religiously follow her recommendations--wash tail, use Equifuse CitraCreme deep conditioner, let sit, rinse out, then finish with Equifuse Gleam. THEN put a squeeze of each into a spray bottle, mix with water, and use it as a daily conditioner for tails. 

You guys. 

This is magic. Courage's tail has never felt so amazing. I washed it ONE TIME in March and it's still just perfect. 

So tell me. What are your hair care secrets? 

Monday, March 28, 2016

A DQ Fixes Sportsball

It was brought to my attention the other day that not only (get this!) are there places on the internet that have things other than pony pictures, but also that there are sports (!!) without subjective judging, sparkles, or even ponies at all.


It's time to fix that. I zoomed right over to the top sports photos of 2015 on Sports Illustrated and gleaned some material. All shots are taken by Julian Edelman someone with a camera who is not Julian Edelman, who appears to be not only competent, but a remarkable talent in the various sporting fields.
We're going to talk about the fellow in blue on the top because the other chap appears to be doing airplane impressions. The blue fellow is making a mighty sporting effort at whatever the hell he's doing. We always talk about the balance of the human athlete--if we take the horse out from under them, where will they be? Clearly, we are about to find out. I would suggest he put his chin up, shoulders back, and get his feet beneath his seat because he's currently in a driving position and liable to get dumped on his ass, should he relocate his equid.
These ladies appear to be prepping before a big class. There is a distinct lack of horsemanship being exhibited--while everyone needs a good wipe down, it is preferable to do it with a soft cloth (one for faces, one for docks) once on the horse and ready to show. In addition, sleeveless, collarless shirts are sending a message of "we are athletes who take ourselves seriously", which might cause youth of today to think they are participating in some sort of grungy takes-all-comers activity instead of a pay-to-play DISCIPLINE. We just can't have that. Stretchy pants and collared shirts WITH SLEEVES if you please ladies. You must please the old men leering at you. 

I rarely advocate for gadgets and quick fixes, but it's so important to base one's choices of equipment on the situation at hand and not just theory. Eventually, this fellow will be just fine in a loose cavesson and simple snaffle, but at present, he would really benefit from a flash noseband. 

Where to begin? Not only did this ambitious young buck misplace his horse entirely, he seems to have "leaped past" all the critical basics of jumping. His heels are not metaphorically almost over his head. His toes are points. He's thrown his upper body forward. I can't abide his wanton disregard for the traditions and respect for the sport as shown in his garrishly colored outfit. I make it a rule to always say something nice, so I will say his automatic release is ON POINT even if his base of support leaves a lot to be desired. 

I'm sure these sports will start to clean themselves up once my remarks are taken to heart.

Friday, March 25, 2016


FAIR WARNING: empty your mouth, then proceed at your own risk. I take no responsibility for spewed drinks and/or ruined keyboards and/or bewildered coworkers.

Well first off, thanks y'all for making this contest ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to judge. There would have been much smashing of heads into desks if we hadn't been rolling on the ground laughing so hard.

Before I announce the winner, I'm going to go ahead and list our top finalists here. If you want to see more (and you should, just picking finalists was RIDICULOUS), look on instagram under the #sprinklerbandits. Pro tip: don't put anything in your mouth when you click over there either. 


A photo posted by KayTay (@flyingleadchange) on

submitted via email by The Graduated Equestrian

submitted via email by Dom
Haha. Wow. Yeah. I totally did not anticipate the number or quality of entries submitted. I also completely forgot about "modern technology" and "motion pictures", which, omg.

I laughed. I cried (from laughing). I conferred with my fellow judges. We let it marinate for a few days and decided that if one didn't stand out after that, we'd just draw from a hat.

But there was one entry I couldn't get out of my head:

Congratulations Emily at The Exquisite Equine!! Please contact me to collect your prize. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Royal Sports Bridle Review

I've gotten a couple requests for this review, so here we go. Y'all remember when I got a Royal Sports bridle for $44 last month. I had seen them around on eBay and Amazon for ~$100 and been very curious, but I wasn't willing to gamble $100 on leather from India. That's a no. 

But at $44, I couldn't resist the urge. The entertainment factor was high enough that even if I hated the bridle, I'd still be ok. The bridles came 8 days after I ordered, which is pretty ok for free shipping from India. I had no interaction with the company besides the automated notifications that go along with the purchase and I made no custom requests whatsoever.
The bridle shipped via DHL express, which requires a signature on delivery or I would have gotten the package a day sooner. The packaging was more than adequate--bridle was shipped in a large, plasticized (I don't know the word) envelope and wrapped up in bubble wrap inside. Each individual piece was wrapped and the bridle was disassembled. I noticed no injuries on the leather sustained in transit.
I was pleasantly surprised while assembling the bridle--the leather wasn't French, to be sure, but it wasn't offensive. It didn't have that dye-painted-on look, feel, or smell. As I told my friends, I would have been ok with this product at 2.5-3x the price I paid for it. It's not high end and it's never going to be, but it's perfectly fine for what it is. The reins are nylon-lined rubber, so they're soft and flexible and feel nice in my hand.

There are minor imperfections, but none of them are visible without careful inspection and none are visible when the bridle is actually on the horse or in use. The stitching seemed safe and the leather was sturdy without being unseemly. For a lower end or starter bridle, this piece is more than acceptable. 
in action
My only real complaint about this bridle is the sizing. I really should have read that fancy sizing chart they sent out. Courage is the cobbiest of all the cob size horses ever to cob the earth. He's about halfway up in every cob bridle I've ever put him in, except this one. It just barely goes on. The throatlatch is on the last hole and while it seems to be fine, I'd really like to have a little more room in there. The cavesson buckles around his (narrow) nose, but it's on the last or second to last hole and the cheeks are about the same.

If you order, definitely read the sizing chart and consider sizing up. If I were to order again, I'd get horse size. (The reins are similar--they'll be fine to jump in, but a smidgen short for dressage work.)
It's not god's gift to strap goods mayhaps, but if you want a sharp look on a tight budget, definitely look in to Royal Sports. 

PS as for the vaunted "magical non-itchiness" the product descriptions raved about, I can verify that they are neither more nor less itchy than comparable products of other brands. Maybe you have to pay extra for pixie dust?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I Swear I'm Not Saddle Shopping

CONTEST PEOPLES: I swear I haven't forgotten you. I'm buried at work this week, so I will write you a results post ASAP! Thank you for all the submissions--definitely plenty of amusement to go around.

OK. On to content:

Despite the fact that I can tell you in absolute terms what my dream jump saddle is and have a pretty good idea of what I like vs what I don't, I have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER what I even think about dressage saddles.

Sad fact: I have sat in so few. 

Sadder fact: of the few I have sat in, only 3 actually worked for me.

Less sad fact: I actually own one of those. 
I don't own this one. Do I need to?
I'm not saddle shopping (WE SWEARS PRECIOUS WE SWEARS) (We will not swear on the precious). 


It seems like it would be worth my time to get in as many different dressage saddles as possible because all I know about them is that they're basically impossible. Unless you have a well-supplied local tack store. Which we don't. In lieu of that, I'm making a list of saddles I've sat in/put on my horse and keeping track of my thoughts on them. 

I'll try to keep this interesting, but I want this for my own reference. 

1) Current Own Saddle 18" Ideal brand, Medium tree, unknown model. 
pre-sparkles, reflock, and dye job
This brand is a bit obscure in the US, apparently much more common in the UK. It's a very basic saddle, english leather, kinda slick. Minimal blocks. Not restrictive. Lets me get to the right position, but definitely doesn't put me there or keep me there. I have a wide range of options for sitting incorrectly, but that has come in handy over and over as we attempt various hijinks. 

latest position shot
Because I've had this saddle for about a year, my position has changed a lot in it. It fits my horse well and has served us well. I have no complaints. 

2) 17.5" Devoucoux, Medium tree, Makila model

This is Lindsey's saddle that we borrowed last fall while mine was getting reflocked. The sizing says a 17.5", but HOLY HELL it rides like a 17" or less. As in. My ass kinda got stuck in it. I put me in a really excellent and secure position, but I couldn't get out of it and the leather was SUPER grippy. 
forgot to take a picture on Courage, whoops
I definitely enjoyed it. The standard panels fit Courage quite well and he went nicely in the saddle. I would DEFINITELY need at least an 18, possibly larger. The panels are foam, which means no reflocking, so less flexible fit as Courage continues to add muscle and change sizes. 

3) 17" Prestige, 32 medium fit, Roma model
This is a really beautiful saddle that we borrowed from an enabling friend. It's basically brand new, completely gorgeous, and almost comfier than the couch in my living room. The medium fit went on C great with our standard half pad and he didn't seem to object to it at all. The seat and knee rolls were super grippy. The twist was wider than I'm used to, but not uncomfortable. Despite being the smallest seat size on this list, the seat itself is fairly "open" and actually rides equivalent to an 18" seat. My snooping indicates that this is fairly standard for the brand. 
I liked this saddle, didn't love it. It definitely put me in a more defined position than my Ideal saddle, but it didn't hold me there and I can ride like a monkey in any saddle, so there's that. I didn't feel off balance or restricted, but I didn't feel all that much different than I do in my own saddle, aside from the super comfy seat factor. I'd be curious to try a couple other models. 

4) 17.5" Custom, Medium fit, Advantage model. 
This saddle sports the upgraded buffalo leather and wool flocking. It was custom made for someone who is not the current owner, so some specs may not be standard. This was also borrowed from enabling friend. Oops. Just sitting on C in the stall, this saddle is a hair tight in the front and almost wants to bridge. It does sit pretty level on him. 
This saddle makes me go hmmmmmmm. It definitely sports the bigger blocks that are trendy in dressage right now and while it's not super restrictive, I could feel it put me where it wanted me somewhat. I even dropped my stirrups a hole and felt completely comfortable and confident. The biggest difference I noticed was in the canter--it put my leg RIGHT THERE where it needed to be and I felt really comfortable and confident instead of perched and weird, which is more normal. 

Enabling friend is letting me play with this one for a little while. Courage is pretty inconsistent right now, so it's hard to tell what's saddle and what's normal--I had a really great ride in it the first day, then the next day my position in it was even better but he didn't go as well. Now I need to switch back and forth between my saddle (which is flocked to fit him) and this saddle with my halfpad (which was the set up we used for the really good ride day). 


I have none at this point. 

I liked the Devoucoux and I've been in enough French saddles to be pretty confident buying one sight unseen, but A) poor and B) the foam flocking isn't my bestiest friend. Courage is just now building a dressage body and I do anticipate him getting wider and filling out as we progress. The foam saddle that fits now probably won't fit in a year. 

Also see A) poor again. Frenchies have nice stuff with a matching price tag. 

I'm really, really thinking hard about the Custom at this point in time. I love the wool flocking, love what it does for me. I'd be curious to sit in an 18" and see if it made an appreciable difference and I'm not sure how much I love it for Courage, which is obviously a huge factor. I'd also be interested in trying a MW model on him just because I don't know how long the medium would fit for, but I don't have a friend with an 18" MW Custom Advantage and a generous trial policy. (And I do have a friend with a 17.5" M with those specs and hmmmmmmm.) 

Another question mark here is the flocking--my usual fitter can't work on these (because she isn't with the company or something about warranties or something) so I'd have to wait to talk to the Custom rep. We do actually have one and I do actually know her, but she's not local so that would take longer. The saddle has had excellent maintenance, but it would be a much better fit for C with some minor adjustments. 

Any ideas for us? (Other than "hit the lotto and buy custom Custom" because I've obviously already thought of that.) 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Teach Me Tuesday: Under the Helmet

Kinda like this
As a kid, I don't think I ever did anything particular with my hair and a helmet. I wore a mushroom-head shiny Troxel that I fell off in a bunch and didn't know to replace and for shows, it got a fake velvet cover and I used one of those black hairnet/ponytail clip things.

George Morris would have been appalled, but all I know about him was the column in practical horseman and for some reason, I focused on learning what a "safe jumper" and a "base of support" looked like instead of turnout details. Sue me. 

Then I rode with a much stricter trainer as an adult and learned that we had to buy more expensive helmets (meh), replace them when we fell off (this is good. do this.), and always put our hair up under our helmets. It's a very polished look and I do appreciate it.

otoh this sparkle CO is amazing
But now I'm doing dressage and "the look" if you will, seems to be bouncing pony tail to school and bedazzled black hair net thing to show. 

Which sort of feels full circle to me? 

Regardless. I'm now on the fence about the hair-under-helmet thing because while it's fine if you have short or thin hair, thick-haired people are most definitely compromising their protection and since it's really not fair to them to be the only ones with their hair out, it seems to me that we should choose our safety equipment based on what is actually safest and not what makes Georgie or the O'Connor's or whomever most aesthetically happy. 

Because I'm most happy when I'm not sporting the latest TBI. 

So. What do you do under your helmet? Short hair? Buzz it off? Put it up? Hairnet every time? 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Things Change: Goals and Stuff

My plans evolve as life happens and it's time to talk about that a little bit. I already wrote a show schedule for this year and I actually do try to keep the sidebar more or less current, so you might have noticed this already. On the other hand, possibly you have other things to do than read widgets on my blog.

First off, here are some mini goals I want to work towards for showing this year.

1) Canter in the warm up.

Maybe not at the first show. Maybe not at the second show. Cantering has been a difficult and hot button topic for us in the past. Courage seems to be getting much stronger and more relaxed about it and first level has a lot of cantering, so I want to be to a point where it's blase enough that we can do it whenever without worrying. Show warm ups are not a place to school hard things, so I want canter to not be a hard thing by the end of the year.
bonus points if we do it on the right lead
2) Pile on the show miles.

Showing is a SKILL and until I master it, showing is always going to be hard for us. I want to be 100% (or at least like 91.5%) confident that I can ride my horse at shows. I can ride at home just fine. It's throwing in all those showing variables that makes it a question mark and we're at the point where we just need miles to fix it. By the end of last year, Courage was acting like an old pro. I want to confirm that attitude and keep on going.

Those are goals that I think are achievable for us. I feel comfortable adding them because I've taken some things away, too.

For starters, I am not showing Courage over fences this year. Just thinking about it makes me anxious and anxiety does not make me ride better. I was thinking about doing the derbies again to try and qualify for a year end award (at crossrails!!) but we're just not going to. Nope. Not a fun idea.

HOWEVER that doesn't mean we're giving up all hope of tri-colored satin.
horse needs more satin
We found a new local show series with reportedly cool series-end awards, so we're doing dressage there. First show is in two weeks, which is a great progress check to help us prep for the season. We're going to do training level because it's small arena, early in the year, and if miles are the goal, we can certainly get them at training. Yay!

We're also gunning for the local schooling/opportunity series at first level. But hey. If we're not ready, we can just keep showing at training and getting experience so that it's all go time when we are ready. The sum total of miles is experience and the more we have of that, the better.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Deep Ass Soreness

Riding horses makes non-riders sore. Riding horses in new ways makes even horse-riding-people sore.
But you'd think after this long of being a pretend-DQ and sort of turning into a real-DQ, I'd be over that, right?


My position is nowhere near perfect. I know it's getting better though, because when I get off now I have this super-weird deep ass soreness. Not slightly sore thighs like "o hai haven't done this in a while" or the calf/quad soreness of "GODDAMN i forgot how much strength jump riders have".

It's deeper and subtler than that. It's soreness in places I didn't know muscles existed. Like hip sockets. I thought those were bones or something (yeah yeah i win science), but no. They can get sore. So can other things I don't even have names for. It sneaks up on you too--like everything is fine and then you bend over or do something SLIGHTLY different and BAM it hurts super bad. 

But it does mean things are changing and change is good.

So I guess it hurts so good.

(you see what I did there. not apologizing.) 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Progress and the Mental Game

Do you know what separates me from Charlotte Dujardan (aside from iron self-discipline and a shit ton of talent)?
Courage knows
Hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours


Let's back up. I talked a barnmate into videoing part of my ride yesterday. Then I watched the video and proceeded to berate myself for not riding like a world champion Grand Prix dressuer. Here, I'll even be brave and share the video:

All I could think while I watched the video was how I didn't look like the rider I'm totally not (Charlotte). I look like a jumper learning to dressage on a distracted and sensitive horse, which is exactly what we are.

I can be mad about that. I can tear myself apart and get all up inside my head about how terrible I am. I can rip my mental game to shreds, eliminate any traces of confidence, and hate myself for not being what I can't possibly be.


I can celebrate the fact that after a week stuck in the indoor, I rode my horse outside without lunging him. We had changes of bend and direction at the trot without flailing. We worked through him being distracted by outside influences and we even cantered without theatrics. I had to ride a little defensively, but we got through it, and next time will be better.

Let's be real: there are always going to be things I can do better. That's the essence of being human. I'm not perfect and I'm not going to be. I can be mad about that or I can embrace it.
If you're an adult ammy with a horse, I know you're a highly motivated, goal-oriented individual. I know that because no one pays your bills for you, no one drives you to the barn, and no one is making you do this. What the hell. It might as well be fun, right? There's no advantage to self-loathing and we all need a little more positive brain space.

The person who suffers most from a negative mental attitude is you and the person who benefits most from a positive mental attitude is you. At the end of the day, we get to ride ponies and pet velvety noses and live the dream we all had as little kids, one way or another.

We can celebrate the progress we make without ignoring the progress that we need to make still. I'm definitely still going to hack away at my position and my ride, but I'm not going to be ashamed of how I rode on this day.

I challenge you guys to the same thing I challenged Lindsey and Alyssa: any time you say something negative about your ride, find something positive to pair with it and find someone to keep you accountable to that. Let's give up on useless self-doubt and remember to enjoy the good things about this crazy hobby of ours.
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