Having a week off between Winter's cold and Summer's heat is a true blessing. Not only did I ride both boys nearly every day, but I was also able to catch up on some barn chores. You already know that I cleaned the tack room
; here are two other chores that needed doing.
First, I had to rearrange what was under the left hand tarp.
This is what needed to go there: my summer supply of pine pellets for bedding my stalls. It's not quite enough to get through the summer as Home Depot didn't have a full pallet of 50 bags; they only had 32.
Pine pellets - stacked and ready ...
Funny how the tarp looks almost identical to how it looked before I stacked the pellets!
Buying and stacking my pine pellets for the summer was one chore that I had saved for Spring Break. The next job I tackled was cleaning my endurance saddle. I find it sad that I truly can't remember the last time I rode in it. It has surely been more than a year.
I didn't think to take a before picture as the saddle was simply dusty. After cleaning and conditioning it though, I remembered what a pretty saddle it actually is and wished that I had a before picture to show you.
right side ...
This saddle is designed for the rider that desires a balanced equitation seat. It is built on their famous endurance tree with their unique suspended ground seat. Padded with Tucker's Gel-Cush™ Padding, it comes with English Stirrup leathers, Trail Glide™ stirrups and English billet rigging. Also features the Equi-Balanced Tree, 1/2" Wool Felt lined skirts & beautiful master craftsmanship. It features English-styled strategically positioned knee rolls with padded flaps.
... left side
I have enjoyed this saddle immensely and don't feel ready to part with it. If you are interested in the Tucker Equitation, they're having a great sale on this saddle. It normally retails for around $2100, but it's on sale for $1445 at Tucker Saddle Sales
with $7.99 shipping. Quite a deal if you're in the market. Horse Saddle Shop put together this helpful video.
While our tack room is quite nice, it is not dust free nor climate controlled. I decided to bring the saddle home along with the leathers, stirrups, girth, pad, seat cover, and cantle bag. We have a windowless utility room at home that stays a pretty dust free. The saddle will certainly weather better there than in the tack room. If I think I want to use it, I can always schlepp it back out to the barn, but I don't think that is going to happen anytime soon ...
I know it's a shame to let such a nice quality saddle sit unused, especially when I know several people who would very much like to have it. It took me a lot of soul searching before I was willing to part with my other Tucker saddle. I liked that saddle a lot, but I couldn't see two saddles sitting around gathering dust. I am not interested in doing any long trail rides right now, but who know what I'll be doing in the next few years? Good pieces of tack are worth holding onto.
For those of you with extra saddles sitting around, how long do you let them sit before passing them on to a new owner?
Sometimes I get tired of writing about riding. Maybe if I experienced more moments of perfection, the task of recording my journey would feel less like a task and more like a celebration. The trouble with being a perfectionist is that you're never quite happy; there's always that little more than can be done. When I get to a place where progress is slow and perfection seems unattainable, it's best if I take a moment to look up and watch where I am going. Invariably, the change in focus brings about a fresh perspective, and I can move on.
To clear my mind of canter departs and rein length, I started to do some chores that I've been doing only inadequately at best, or not at all, at worst. When my new bridle arrived, it prompted me to give my old bridles a thorough scrubbing. Speedy's schooling bridle is a synthetic so I dropped it into the sink with some Palmolive dish soap and took a sponge to it. I also gave his bit a thorough scrubbing as well. When the whole thing was dry and reassembled, I was quite pleased with the result.
Sydney's bridle is leather which meant that I had to do things the old fashioned way. I didn't clean it perfectly, but it did look much better afterwards. His bit, too, got a thorough scrubbing.
I actually keep leather wipes handy so my tack never gets too
dirty, but since it's never horribly filthy, I am never very motivated to really
condition it either. During show season, I do condition and clean at least once a month, and often times more if we've been really busy.
My saddle, a Custom Revolution
, is made from a nice quality leather so I work hard to keep it relatively clean. One nice thing about winter is that we have very little dust which means I don't have to clean and wipe it down as frequently as I do during the dusty, summer months. I also keep it covered when not in use.
I am going to a clinic this weekend so I decided my saddle needed some attention. Since I couldn't ride on Friday or Saturday, Thursday afternoon was the perfect time to do a thorough conditioning and cleaning. The conditioner would have several days to penetrate and absorb without funking up my breeches.
For the last year or so, I've been using Effax's Leder Combi cleaner/conditioner. It seems to work, but it's really "liquidy" and doesn't lather up at all. I've also used Leather New
by Farnam, but it never feels as though it wipes away cleanly. It also leaves my tack feeling sticky. I bought Lexol's Leather Cleaner a few weeks ago in hopes that it might work a little better.
I was delighted with how well it worked. I followed the directions: spray Lexol Leather Cleaner onto a damp sponge and gently scrub leather. I liked how thick the Lexol was. It sprays out almost like liquid hand soap, and it lathers quickly. I used a clean, damp sponge to wipe the cleaner off. It dried quickly and didn't feel sticky afterward.
I think I really like the Lexol Leather Cleaner. The Passier Leder Balsam is also a nice product. The Effax, eh, not sold on it.
After the saddle was dry, or as dry as it was going to get on a cold winter afternoon, I smoothed on a layer of Passier's Lederbalsam, a product I really like.
Just scrubbed clean, no conditioner yet.
I'll ride during the week of course, but with a quick swipe with a leather wipe, my saddle should look nice enough for the clinic. And with my new bridle, Speedy should look quite handsome!
click picture for a close up
I am still in love with my new, and as yet, unused Stübben bridle. To try it on Speedy, I had to take his current bit off his schooling bridle and attach it to the new bridle. Right away I could see that I did not want to do that for every show. That's how I managed it last year, and it was a pain in the patootie. However, I also ditched that bit at the end of the season so it was probably a good thing that I didn't buy a show version, which is what I already did for this year. I just couldn't help it. What was that about moderation in spending?
The bit you see is a brand new version of what I school in; a JP Korsteel Copper Oval Link Eggbutt bit
. At $39.99, it was cheap enough that I don't really mind owning two of them, especially if it works for a while. If we need to move on to something else at the end of this season, I'll probably stick with just one bit and swap it out for every show. Maybe.
I really do hate swapping out bits. I have a nice collection of bits, but I don't generally switch them around. The ones in my storage tub, a low port comfort snaffle, a correction bit, and last year's french link snaffle, are all bits that I liked at one time for a specific purpose, but they aren't for Speedy at this point. I save them because they are like fine jewelry; they'll last forever.
Sydney seems happy in his current bit (Mikmar's Eggbutt Ergöm Lozenge Snaffle
) so I see no need to switch him into any of the other bits that I have, and I keep Speedy's Mikmar Flexion Combination Bit
on his trail bridle. I like to have a separate bridle for trail or dressage especially since the reins and bit for each bridle are completely different. Since those are the only things that Speedy does, I see no need to have multiple bridles hanging around.
Oh, wait. I do have multiple bridles hanging around
; five of them to be exact. Five bridles that I would desperately love to be rid of. Five bridles that I would sell for quite
Please make me an offer, even if it's just to pay the shipping! Click to zoom.
I really want to get rid of these and will entertain ANY offer. They are all super clean and are being stored indoors away from heat and dust. Here's a brief description of each from left to right.
- Zilco Padded Snaffle Bridle, no flash. Cob-sized. Used only once or twice and has zero wear marks. I paid close to $70 for it. You can see a blue version of it here. I think this was originally marketed for eventers, but I am not sure if that is right. (Zilco is a brand-name synthetic)
- No brand name Padded Snaffle Bridle with flash. Cob-sized. Lightly used, but there are no wear marks. The brow band has some very subtle bling. It's super clean and well conditioned. I paid around $40 for it. (leather)
- No brand name Padded Crank Dressage Bridle with Flash. Cob-sized (but it fit like a horse-size, way too big for Speedy G). Lightly used, but there are no wear marks. The brow band and caveson have crystal bling across the front. It's clean, but not as soft as bridle number 2. I have no memory of what I paid for it, but it wasn't much, maybe $40. (leather)
- Wintec Snaffle Bridle, no flash. It's not marked, but I am pretty sure it's Cob-sized. Gently used, but there really aren't any wear marks. You can see a new version here. I probably paid around $40.00 for it. (synthetic)
- Zilco Deluxe Trail Bridle. Arabian-sized. Used, but with very few wear marks, which is the great thing about synthetics. If you're not familiar with this type of bridle, it's made to be worn over a halter, especially a rope halter. It snaps onto the halter to create a very stable bridle that uses the halter's frame as a throat latch. Perfect for endurance or trail riding. You can see a new version of the bridle here. While this particular one isn't Speedy's, he uses one of these for trail riding. I paid around $35 for it.
, want to be rid of these bridles. I don't need to get a fair price, but I don't want to pay to get rid of them either. Seriously, drop by my house, send me some money for shipping, or plead your case in the comments section and one of these (or maybe all five?) could be yours.
Oh, good one endurance community. Good one!
AareneX of Haiku Farm
and Lytha from A Horse Crazy American In Germany
both commented on yesterday's post about my new Stübben bridle. Not to fear, ladies, I love my Beta, Biothane, Tekna, Zilco, and other synthetics just as much as I ever have! If Stübben only made synthetic tack ... in neon blue. I could really wow the judge! Or blind her. Or just confuse the heck out of her. But alas, the best I might be able to do is add a blingy browband.
Endurance folks don't have a lot of use for leather, and I've written about that quite a few different times. Endurance riders ride in the rain far more frequently than does the dressage crowd. And often times, they're doing it for 12 hours in the dark. Their horses also sweat more than the average dressage horse and for far more hours. Endurance horses are also frequently asked to cross bodies of water, and usually, if there is a water crossing, it will need to be recrossed numerous times. As we all know, rain, sweat, and water are mortal enemies of our frenemy leather.
Endurance riders are arguably the most creative (equine loving) folks on the planet. You should see the many gadgets that endurance riders have come up with. One of the best innovations, however, is the use of synthetic fabrics as tack. Most synthetics (Biothane, Zilco, Beta, Tekna, etc.) can even be tossed in the dishwasher to be cleaned. And so, from endurance to dressage I have traveled.
I have become one of those
people: a leather user. If you would have suggested three years ago that I would spend good money (or allow my mom to do so) on leather
tack, I would have scoffed in derision. And yet, I have. I find this pretty funny.
As I said before though, have no fear! Synthetics still hold a place of high regard in my barn. Speedy's schooling bridle is a very nice Tekna snaffle bridle. It looks and feels very much like leather, but can be washed in the sink like a dirty fry pan, which is just what I did over the weekend. With Palmolive Green Apple soap.
So yes, I am approaching the castle walls of DQ land, but I have yet to vault over and join their ranks. We might look the part for showing, but in reality, Speedy and I are quite happy to ride in plastic!
A bit blurry, but it says TEKNA
Speedy's schooling bridle. Again, no flash. It's actually quite attractive and fits him well.
Aw, Santa, you are my hero!
You remember my letter to Santa
? Well, he came through. I got every single thing
on my list, and then some! It took the combination of Christmas and my birthday to get it done, and I think the big guy passed some of the work around, but all in all, I am one lucky girl.
The first thing I asked for was a Dover gift card; I got TWO of them from RM, my barn owner. One was for Speedy G and the other for Sydney. I know
both boys really needed
a rider who looked her best so I used them to buy two new Kerrits Ventilator shirts, which was the second item on my list. So score and double score.
Hubby took care of items number three and four: a pair of Tough Rider Breeches and the Andis Freedom Cord clippers. Love them both!
The final item on my list was a Stübben bridle, but really, who was going to spring for that? Santa got some serious help. As you already know, my mom stepped up to the plate and sent it for my birthday. How cool is that?
I called Margaret Young, the Stübben distributor in this area and asked her advice on softening and conditioning the leather. Surprisingly, she said the best way to soften the leather was to get it warm by leaving it in a vehicle on a sunny day. I started the warming process that way, but once it got dark, I brought it back into the house and placed it under a heating pad. Every so often I reapplied Passier's Lederbalsam, but I did turn it off before bed. By the next morning, the leather was soft and warm (I reheated briefly) and ready to try on Speedy.Click on photos for captions and to enlarge.
I was really pleased with how nicely this particular model fit Speedy. I have purchased at least five other bridles trying to find one that fit correctly. Most dressage horses have much thicker and longer heads than does the refined Speedy pony. The Stübben 1700 has very thin cheek straps as well as a slimmer browband and caveson. You'll also see that I chose no flash. After looking at the photo, I see that I need to drop the left cheek piece down a hole. But other than that, this bridle finally fits and looks quite lovely. Thank you, Mom!
I love Instagram!
I like bits a lot. Good bits are like fine jewelry - every girl needs a few nice pieces. I've got a nice collection of bits in my tack room, but it's time for a change, and I don't have quite what I need.
At the RAAC, one of the judges commented that I needed to be more careful with my hands, especially since I was using a fairly severe bit. I was actually quite shocked at the comment. No one has ever suggested that one of my bits was severe (I pride myself on using quality bits that are designed with the horse's comfort in mind), and I tend to be too quick to release the reins.
While I was baffled and a little irritated, I decided to think about the judge's comment and look more closely at the bit I was using on Speedy. I also ran the comment by my trainer to see what she thought.
I first started Speedy's dressage training in a Myler French Link Snaffle. When he seemed too fussy in it, I switched to the Mikmar Eggbutt. Speedy did okay in the eggbutt, but the bit always looked too thick for his mouth. I returned to the French Link and have been using it for at least a year and half. Both bits are pictured below.
The Myler French Link Snaffle
The Mikmar Eggbutt (I use it on Sydney)
A semi side-by-side comparison of the two bits.
JL and I talked about the judge's comment. Her thinking was that now that we have Speedy driving more from behind up to the bit, maybe he doesn't like it now that he has to actually be on a steadier contact.
I gave his mouth a thorough exam and found something that I haven't seen before: rub marks. These are new. At the corner of his lips and on the outside of his mouth there are definitely some rubs. They're small, but a rub is a rub. Here's a photo of the French Link while at the RAAC. Click the photo for a close up.
Is the French Link pinching?
I am wondering if the problem is with the loose rings. Do they move around too much? Do they pinch where they connect to the mouth piece?Since I like bits and don't mind purchasing nice ones, I went ahead and ordered a Korsteel Eggbutt with a copper mouth piece. It's very similar to the Mikmar Eggbutt, but I am hoping that the mouth piece is a little thinner. I am also hoping that the eggbutt will be quieter in his mouth and that there will be no pinching on the sides.
The Korsteel Eggbutt
The bit arrived the other day. I switched out the loose ring and hopped up on Speedy bareback on Thursday afternoon to give it a try. I immediately felt a difference. Even on a loose rein, my connection to Speedy was much more solid and steady. He didn't feel so much like a wiggling fish on the line.
I only rode for a few minutes, but he seemed to like it. We did a little bit of trot work, and it seemed as though he was more willing to stretch forward. I could also hear him mouthing the bit, and his mouth was much foamier than it normally is.
I'll give him a much better ride this weekend, and he'll probably go to my weekly lesson (which is now on Mondays) so JL can give me her opinion on it, too. I hope he likes this bit better. I felt really bad about the rub marks. Here are some photos of the new bit.
As I hoped, the mouthpiece is narrower than my other eggbutt, especially at the corner of his mouth.
We got the first dog that I remember when I was five or six years old. We named her Boo-boo. She was a rather ugly little mutt, think Toto from the Wizard of Oz
, but she was very loyal and never wandered off. She even rode in front of my dad on the motorcycle, sometimes with me perched on the back! I don't think we even had a leash. We had Boo-boo until I was in college.
After graduating, hubby and I bought our own little puppy. I was delighted with Kirby and loved taking her for walks on the leash. Hubby also took her for walks, but early on he complained that she behaved terribly on the leash. I was puzzled because she heeled smartly beside me whenever I took her out. After a short Q & A, it was revealed that I was walking Kirby like a horse, on my right side. Oops!Apparently
, dogs are taught to heel on the person's LEFT side.
Little Tobias, not so little anymore, is also learning to heel and walk on the leash. Thanks to a tip from Hubby's parents, we are teaching him with the Gentle Leader
instead of the old choke chain that we used on our other dogs. It might look a little mean, but Dr. Thurman assured me that it does no harm to their face and is actually safer and more humane than a traditional choke chain.
He would NOT sit still for a cute picture!!!!
How is this in any way horse related? While teaching Tobias to heel, it occurred to me that it's a like like teaching our horses to walk quietly beside us. Like you, I have numerous halters for different purposes.
While endurance riding, I used rope halters exclusively. We were frequently camped in places where a runaway horse could mean death. On occasion, horses at endurance rides get loose and run away from camp. They occasionally run toward traffic. I would rather my horse bang a leg on the trailer than get loose. That's why I used rope halters; they don't break.
Now that I am just in the barn or on show grounds, Speedy goes in a nearly regular halter. It's configured like a regular halter, but it's made out of Biothane, a synthetic material. Biothane washes very easily and dries almost instantly.
Thanks to Now THAT'S a Trot! for the halter tags.
Sydney's old halter.
Sydney, on the hand, doesn't get a regular halter anymore. He has one, but I had to quit using it when he started to try and push me around. Flat, web halters, like the one to the left, don't give you much control. Horses can easily pull or push against the flat webbing with no consequences.
Sydney now gets the rope halter. His behavior improved immediately with its use. Now when he drops his head to graze when I am leading to the arena, a quick tug gets his immediate attention. The thinner strands of the rope halter can be sharp on a thinned-skinned face. Even though there are no side rings, I clip the cross-ties to the single strand of rope that sits behind the cheek knot. It works like a charm.
I know there are many other kinds of halters, but these are the two that work for me. And just like for dogs (harnesses, choke chains, Gentle Leaders), you have to find what works best for your own horse.
Much better behaved with a rope halter.
I just realized I forgot to mention that the Louise Caccese clinic for this past Saturday was cancelled. There weren't details as to the cancellation, but I suspect it had to do with an insufficient number of riders. The whole thing was kind of a bummer because the timing of the clinic worked as a great schooling opportunity for the LAEC show coming up in two weeks. And since I'm taking a couple of weeks off with my trainer, Speedy G and I may not fare as well as I had hoped we would.
But then again, we might! I have been having some really good rides on him. My next lesson is on March 21st and I'll have a another one the 28th, just a few days before the show. I haven't decided whether to focus on Speedy G at the lesson, or resume with Sydney.
And on that note, I have also been having some very good rides on him. Yesterday's ride was one of the best we've had in terms of relaxation. We're still not cantering, but it's okay since he is getting more relaxed and he's really listening to me. There hasn't been any bolting or rearing since my last lesson.
I also forgot to mention that I purchased my very first ear bonnet. If you would have told me two years ago that I would be using one of those things, I would have burst out laughing. Seriously. Here's my explanation: last summer, the gnats drove Sydney bonkers while we rode. He could barely concentrate and no amount of fly spray would dissuade the gnats from their attack. At the time, I had no idea what else to do. Over the winter, I did a bit of searching and realized those bonnets are pretty cheap and easy to use. The gnats have already started to appear so Sydney got to use his fly bonnet. I think he's kind of cute!
I've had a slight saddle repair job that I knew needed to be done, but I just couldn't face giving up my saddle for a week, or worse, even two. I don't write about every ride I do because I would bore you straight to Youtube or Facebook where you could see stuff like this
. I swear if you click on the link you will laugh hysterically. Well ... maybe not as it is an ongoing story and this is just one event in the story.
Anywhoo ... I ride every. Single. Day. Unless it's pouring rain, which has only happened in California like three times this year, and it happened at night or while I was at work so even then it didn't prevent me from riding. We also go to our cabin monthly, but even then I try to ride right before we leave and I always hop on as soon as we come back. Except this weekend we might actually leave and be gone for two nights which means I definitely won't ride on Saturday. Which also means there probably won't be a Saturday blog post. My apologies as there likely won't be an internet connection.
So, giving up my saddle for any length of time was just something that I couldn't stand to do. But ulitmately, I admitted that I needed it fixed. I called Jack over at Granite Station Saddlery and explained how absolutely important it was that I pick up my saddle the very next day
(if at all possible, sir). I am sure he stood there with the phone hanging loosely as he rolled his eyes thinking, this gal is slightly nuts. Who does she think she is? A dressage rider?
Even with my unreasonable request, he assured me that it could be done and that I could pick it up by four. Whew! As promised, the saddle repair was done as I arrived before 4:00 the next afternoon.
I of course forgot to take a photo of the "broken" part, but here's a photo of the left side. The stitching that holds the knee roll in place is done with a very loopy stitch. I don't like it. On the right side, the thread snapped and unraveled. I am sure the same thing will eventually happen on this side, too. I did ask that this side be repaired as well, but the worker who actually did the sewing didn't understand my request. No biggie. When the threads on this side break, I'll just take it in again.
This is what both sides looked like. The right side stitching finally broke.
Here's the right side after the repair work. This seems like better stitch work to me. The whole job cost $45.
Oh ... they got me. Now that I am giving Smartpak's SmartCalm Ultra Pellets to Sydney , it's oh-so-easy to just add a few things to the order. I do need all of these things, but boy do they make it easy!
About the gloves ... I go through a pair of these every couple of months or so. I've found it easier to just keep several pair waiting in the wings so that as soon as a finger pokes through the end, I have a new pair ready to go. If I run out of the gloves, I have a tendency to wear them until all ten fingers are poking out. Not very classy, eh?!
The fly sheet is to replace Sydney's last year's worn out model, and the ear net is an experiment. The gnats drove Sydney bonkers last summer as we rode. I am hoping $8.95 will fix that problem.
So why am I buying summer fly gear now ... in February? Well it's a simple answer. Winter has skipped central California so I have no reason to believe that spring will make much of an appearance either. I have a sneaking suspicion that summer is literally around the corner. It was 77 degrees on Friday. I already bought fly spray and fly masks, so the fly sheet and ear net seemed to make sense.
Let's hope I am wrong about the early summer!