You've been warned!
We all know that I am not much into grooming and hair products, but I do enjoy seeing my horses look good. I must be doing something at least partially right because both of my horses have lovely coats, beautiful, barefoot hooves, and healthy manes and tails.
It's more likely that I've just been blessed with horses who posses good hair and hoof genes.
Manes, and to a lesser extent, tails are my least favorite parts of the body to address. I enjoy a thick mane and tail which means I use a fair amount of detangler, but I only comb them out once or twice a month. Frequent combing thins the tail and shortens long mane hairs. This has been a great strategy for Speedy because Arabians are "permitted" to have a running braid while showing. Other breeds can as well, but it's not as traditional.
Izzy's mane is a hot mess. Number one, it wants to hang on the "wrong" side, and even worse, it splits down the middle where it can't decide what it wants to do. Enter the amazing Smart Tails Professional Mane & Tail Thinning Comb By Smart Grooming. I ordered mine via Amazon for $32.89 plus $6.82 for shipping and handling. It came all the way from Germany and was supposed to take a month to arrive, but it was at my door within about a week and a half.
A friend of mine shared this mane and tail thinner on Facebook, and I was immediately intrigued. She shows regularly, so I knew that I could trust her recommendation. The tool is beyond simple to use. You simply start at the base of the mane or tail and gently drag it through the hair. Within just a stroke or two, an entire section of mane can be thinned.
The comb is quite sturdy, and the blades are sharp. It comes in three blade types; coarse, medium (which I ordered), and Fine & Superfine.
I still need to do some more work on Izzy's mane, but already, it is starting to lay on the correct side, and it's half as thick as it was.
When I saw how easily it worked on his mane, I decided to clean up the bushy hairs from around his tail head. If I don't want to pull his mane, you can bet that there is no way I am pulling tail hairs. With this trimmer, I had his tail looking quite tidy in less than a minute. I even did Speedy's!
As I continue to shape and thin his mane, I am certain that braiding will get easier and easier. The only trouble with this thinner is how easy it is to get carried away. It combs the thickness out so easily that before you know it, you'll have no mane to thin!
You've been warned!
A few weeks ago, Poor Woman Showing wrote about Braideez braiding wires and then offered to give away a set. I never ever ever win anything, but I entered my name anyway because I really like Carly's blog, and I wanted her to know I had read her post.
Immediately after entering her giveaway, I turned around and ordered myself a set of braiding wires - she made them sound that good. I've shared many times that I am not a lover of grooming and such. I happen to have the two cleanest, shiniest horses on the planet despite my ineptitude and lack of hair care products.
But you know what a sense of humor Fate has - try sending in a show entry early ... HAHAHAH - you're screwed! Pay a late fee and you'll probably win the class. Fate had a good laugh at my literal expense: less than twelve hours after ordering my very own set of Braideez braiding wires, Carly sent me this message:
So first, many thanks to Carly for the braiding wires. At first, I almost told her to pass them on to another reader, but I am greedy, and I know how hard on stuff Izzy is, so I sent her my address. Before I share my experience with the braiding wires, I have to show the amazing artwork that seems to accompany each shipment. I am keeping these envelopes and getting them framed. It might be worth the order just for the sketches! The one on the right even looks like Izzy.
The packaging is really awesome. Not many companies go to so much trouble to encourage you to like their product before you even see it.
While the braiding wires are easy to use, especially if you already know how to do button braids, I would still recommend looking at the directions that come in the package (they're made up of a pictorial on the back of the horse) and watching their video.
I followed the directions exactly, and the whole thing took me 40 minutes, including stopping and starting to go get something and cutting the wires to length. I did twelve braids. With practice, I could probably shave off 10 minutes.
I started off by braiding each of the sections and tying them off with a half hitch knot. The wire is coated with a thin plastic and tied without any trouble. To braid the wire in, I folded it in half and put one end in each hand as I grabbed the three strands of hair. The wire stayed put as I braided. After each braid was finished, I gave the wire a tug and straightened out the braids so that they hung straight down.
Then I went back and pulled each strand of wire through the base of teh braid as shown in the directions. I think that pulling the wires through really straight will give a smoother button. I kind of struggled with this part, but again, with practice, I think it will get easier. Once I pulled the wires through and brought them underneath and twisted them, I gave the braid a good "squish" and shaped it into a button.
After I had them in a shape that I more or less liked, I cut off the extra wire, but since I have a completely brand new EXTRA set waiting in the wings, I am not too worried if I cut them too short. Here's what the finished braids look like - from a distance ...
The true dressage queens out there are probably wrinkling their noses at the idea of using wires, but I simply don't care. I am not good at braiding. With the wires, it almost looks like I know what I am doing. I am sold!
Oh ... one last thing, I did leave them in over-night to see if that was an option for showing. You can see the results for yourself.
Clearly this is not going to work. Some of the wires were just gone - good thing I have more, and in other places, his mane was gone. Literally. It looked like someone had cut the braid off with scissors. Even with them looking like this, the wires were still super easy to take out. I just untwisted and pulled.
Overall? These are a no brainer, especially for the price and the artwork!
We all know it's really just called a "selfie," and according to Wikipedia, the term first came into use as early as 2005. Selfies themselves have been around since before a camera could be held in one hand. Again, according to Wikipedia, the first known selfie was taken in 1839.
I've mentioned a time or two that my husband and I enjoy traveling. While in Portugal this past summer, we saw something that I immediately dubbed a selfie stick. I truly thought I was being extraordinarily clever in coming up with such a creative moniker for the pole holding the cell phones. I was a bit disappointed when I realized that someone else had already coined the phrase.
For Valentine's Day, my husband bought us a selfie stick (along with the liners for my Juke and a dozen roses - he's really sweet when it comes to gift giving!). I haven't looked into selfie sticks myself, but this one kicks some serious butt. He bought us the Fugetek FT-568 which telescopes, is bluetooth enabled, and works with multiple devices.
After goofing around with it on the couch, I suddenly realized that a selfie stick could have more more than one application. Sure, it's going to be great when we're in Italy this summer, but then I realized that I COULD USE IT AT THE BARN! When I excitedly voiced my realization out loud, my husband rolled his eyes and said he had already figured that's where it would get most of its use. Oh.
For it's first foray out to the barn, I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that it wasn't until I had the selfie stick fully extended and ready to go that I realized I had left the re-chargeable remote button plugged in at home. Talk about a selfie fail. I was slightly more successful on day two. The photos are only somewhat unflattering, but it was fun to finally get most of my horse's head in the frame.
Who would have thought that a selfie stick would be my next favorite barn gizmo? Let me know if you use one at the barn.
You know that adage, when it rains it pours? The holidays are like that for me when it comes to receiving gifts. You see, my birthday is just one week after Christmas which means that my yearly haul comes all once. I have all kinds of new stuff to share with you - like this ...
This item was on the wish list I gave my husband because of all the things that I could have received from my family, this was the one I most wanted. When I didn't get it for Christmas, I got a little worried that I was going to have to buy it myself, but I waited patiently for my birthday to roll around.
When I got up on Sunday, my birthday, I waited for my husband to pull out a giant box, instead, he handed me a card and said I'd get a gift later. I was a bit disappointed, but I figured the cart might have been back ordered.
Like we always do, I headed out to the barn to ride while my husband took the dog for a hike. It's not totally unusual for him to stop by the barn with the dog, so when I saw his truck pull in, I didn't think much of it. I was actually riding Speedy at the time, so I just shouted out a hello when he said the dog wanted to come and run around. When he dropped his tailgate however, I asked what was up. I am not very clever, obviously.
The sly dog had waited for me to go to the barn so that he could put the cart together and deliver it! It is totally awesome - far sturdier than I thought it would be. Once Speedy was back in his stall, I dropped a muck bucket in and wheeled it around the barn, giving it a test drive.
Many other bloggers have written about this cart claiming it is a must have for shows. I'm sold. No longer will I have to schlepp around my 100 pounds of ricketiness that I currently use at shows. While old cart is great for the barn, it can now stay at the barn while a newer, hipper generation takes over.
Interested in having one of your very own? Check it out at the Riding Warehouse.
I think the phrase is actually Suit Up!, but in our case, boots are more appropriate than suits.
Speedy has been back to work for about a week now, and other than the loss of training (PAY ATTENTION - I am saying that at every stride), he's doing well. He's very sound and happy to be working although if you ask him, he would probably be happier hitting the trail (more on that tomorrow).
While I am not over-cautious or over-reactive, I am pro-active which means that if I genuinely think a change in my routine will help my horses, I am willing. Speedy has been in bell boots at times, mostly when he was wanting to pull shoes, but he's never really needed leg boots.
When I say he hasn't needed boots, it's because he doesn't interfere. Lately though, I have been using leg boots since I am asking him to do more lateral work and a more collected canter. And since we had that recent bout with forging and sore heels that caused him to be lame, I decided that he need some protection, so we now have a new "normal."
All velcro all the time except when I forget ... sheesh! You all probably boot up regularly. Am I the last one to the party?
I love gizmos ... those things that just make life easier. I have this avocado slicer in my kitchen drawer that I simply couldn't live without. Same thing for my apple slicer, mandolin slicer, and that thing that slices hard boiled eggs.
Gizmos for the barn are even cooler. I have lots of interesting little helpers from lid-lockers to the Blocker Tie Ring, but I am always searching for other tools to make barn life simpler.
For my birthday, I gave my husband a very short suggestion list, and fortunately for me, he liked the list. First up is a blanket bag from Riding Warehouse.
This bag is much nicer than I expected it to be, especially given the price. They're regularly $29.99, but it's on sale for $21.49. I really want another one! It measures 26" by 20" by 16" which was plenty large enough for two large winter blankets.
It has dual zippers for the lid, which I love. It also has side handles for carrying, and the back panel has mesh to allow some air circulation. The interior of the bag is lined with nylon which protects the blankets from dust. The bag also comes with two ID tags. My husband pointed out that someone must lose a lot of bags. I told him it's because unmarked blankets have a tendency to walk off.
My husband tossed a second gizmo into the gift bag, something that I didn't know I needed.
This little knife is also available at the riding Warehouse for a modest $10.95. It includes a frog knife, bot fly knife (never had bot flies here in Bakersfield, but I did have them up north), a hole enlarger, a regular blade, and a hoof pick. This little baby is going into my barn tool box.
Tool box might be a strong word. It's actually a plastic bin with a snap on lid that holds a hammer and a variety of screws, hooks, rings, and other connecting snaps. I actually needed a frog knife not long ago and tried to improvise with a pair of scissors. Again, the beauty of surprise gifts is that sometimes you get something you didn't know you needed. This gift is definitely a keeper!
Slightly off topic, but my new teal lead rope finally arrived, and it is lovely! If you'll remember, I am a bit of a lead rope snob and only use the yacht rope leads. The teal turned out to be very pretty and goes nicely with Izzy's brown halter. It'll be even better when I have a horse that gets to actually use the new lead rope and fancy nameplate halter!
Dear Amanda and Tristan,
How is it that the simplest thing can be infused with so much meaning? When I opened your Secret Santa gift, I both squealed in delight and nearly burst into tears. How could you have known that I have coveted a halter nameplate since my early teens? It's mortifying to admit, but I never felt as though I had earned the right to sport such fanciness.
It's a simple thing: a halter nameplate. How can it mean so much? As a teenager, I swooned over fancy horses in magazines and always admired those regal names engraved on lovely halters. I've owned many horses myself, some who were quite fancy, but I always felt like a nameplate was something that had to be earned.
Somehow, you managed to find the most perfect gift for me: one that I've always wanted but would never buy for myself. From the bottom of my heart, I say thank you, thank you, thank you.
The day Amanda's gift arrived, I was headed out for a trail ride where my husband was going to meet me with the dog. After he parked, he handed me a package while I was saddling. Somehow, he knew that I'd want to see it right away.
I stashed the package in my trailer's tack compartment and went riding. As soon as I came back, I took care of Speedy and then ripped open the envelope right there in the parking area. I was overwhelmed by what was inside. There is no way that Amanda could have known that her gift would be so meaningful to me.
As soon as I walked into the house, I begged my husband to get out his tools so that he could help me attach the nameplate. He insisted that he be allowed to finish his lunch first, but as soon as he was done, he helped me punch some holes. When he had finished, he told me he was on his way to Home Depot so that he could get some Loctight for me so that the screws wouldn't fall out. I know my husband has no idea what a halter nameplate means to me, but he sensed how important it was to me nonetheless.
Amanda also sent an engraved bridle tag with Izzy's barn name. This touched me just as deeply. She had given me a nameplate with his regal name, just like I had always dreamed of, and a bridle tag with his barn name.
I'v been meaning to share this for a while, but there's been so much else happening that I kind of let it go until now. Have you ever used these jelly scrubbers?
Seriously. You could take every brush out of my grooming bag and leave me with just this one. Over the summer, this thing has become my go-to grooming tool. Speedy absolutely loves the thing and has gotten to the point where he BEGS for it each morning. Really. He does.
As soon as I pull in, he walks away from his food and starts talking to me. If I clean his stall first thing, he gets as close to me as he possibly can and starts shimmying along my side until I get the jelly scrubber. Once I start, he simply melts.
Not only does he love how it feels, but that thing gets out serious amounts of dirt and loose hair.
It also makes scrubbing legs a lot easier. And you know that gunk that geldings get on their hind legs? This thing loosens that stuff too without being painful.
And anything that makes Speedy feel like this, is totally worth the money, especially since it costs less than a coffee at Starbucks!
I don't know what has happened to me. Just a few short years ago I was happy to be wearing my ratty old endurance tights, race t-shirts, and Troxel helmet (the white one).
Now, I am monogramming saddle pads ...
Adding bling, although subtle, to my bridle ...
And now, I have a monogrammed helmet, which actually makes my helmet look really old and funky. Good thing I bought extra monogrammed adhesives because now I want a new helmet!
Personally Preppy has been written about all over the blogosphere; you can read about them here and here. You can find Personally Preppy on Etsy or use this link. They have a lot of different monogramming styles and options, but since I am so conservative, I went with a very simple, white monogram for my helmet.
It should be noted however, that I ordered three of the stickers which means that I plan to monogram something else; I just don't know what. I am hoping that having a brand new monogram waiting to be stuck on something will encourage me to replace my rather worn-out helmet. And if the truth be told, I have had it for close to its recommended life (4 years or so).
The monograms arrived within a week of ordering. (I like fast service.) I am pretty certain that I ordered the 2 inch monograms, but I am not 100% sure. In hindsight, the 2.5 inch size would also have worked. Had I ordered the 3 inch size, I could have maybe covered up the Ovation brand mark.
The package arrived with directions, alcohol wipes for cleaning the surface of my helmet, and a small thank you note from the owners. As a bit of a warning, the alcohol removed some of my helmet's finish and left it feeling tacky. If your helmet is new, go easy with the alcohol wipes.
I have a feeling that this little company is going to do a lot more business than they expected. Their prices are very reasonable and their selection of styles and colors is huge. My total bill for three monograms plus shipping was around $17.00. We may need to form a support group!
I got some really cool horsey gifts this year. Two I asked for, but the rest were just what I needed without knowing that I needed them!
You already know about the stock tie from Appy Does Dressage. You'll see it on someday when I get better at tying it. I've done some practice and it's getting better, but I hate taking selfies so you'll have to wait for a real photo op!
A new reader, B.C., offered me a nice gift, too. She lives very near to where I grew up, so I think she felt a bit of a kinship with me; it's a lightly populated area. Anyway, she had recently purchased a new helmet from Stateline Tack and received a $10.00 e-card with her purchase. She knew she wasn't going to spend it so she sent it my way.
I had that puppy spent within about 2 minutes. Stateline Tack has excellent prices and while they aren't known for their dressage tack, they do have a fairly decent selection. I ordered Speedy a new dressage pad. With B.C.'s $10.00 e-card and Stateline's 15% discount, the pad only cost me an additional $16.00. Thanks a ton, B.C.
I gave Hubby a wish list this year like always, but I never know for sure if he's going with my suggestions or if he's going to wing it. He did a little of both this year. We have a door at the cabin that swings shut, so for the past 8 or 9 years we've propped it open with a small waste paper basket. Hubby surprised me with a horsey themed door stopper. Cool!
Hubby stuck to the list for the next two gifts; an Embrazio Curva belt (I wrote about it here) and a pair of Roeckle show gloves - ooh la la! These are the nicest gloves; I school in a black pair but couldn't justify paying that much for a pair that I'll wear only periodically. Since I've ridden the heck out of my black pair, I know the show pair will last me forever.
And finally, my barn owners surprised me with a gift that I had no idea I needed or wanted! For the last two years they've given me a Dover gift card which is a totally awesome gift in and of itself, but this year, they added these blue things...
The cones and meter tape were mine already. The T-Square things and rope are new. I am sure you're wondering for what on Earth I could need those things. Simple: making a dressage court that isn't a (non-right angled) parallelogram!
Well, maybe not that bad, but it is a PAIN to rebuild the court once it's been dismantled for the tractor. My "court" is just a series of poles laid out in a rough rectangle, but I do try and get it as accurately sized as possible. I use my meter tape to get it an official 20-meters wide, if not the required 60-meters long. The entire arena is maybe 60-meters long so I only have about 50 meters for the length.
With the new tools, I got my court VERY square, and it will now take me a fraction of the time to do it. What a clever gift!
Thanks again, Santa! Now for my upcoming birthday ...