From Endurance to Dressage
It was bound to happen, and fortunately, I was prepared for it with a spare, ready to go. And no, it wasn't a tire. It was my every day schooling boots. Last November, I took advantage of a black Friday deal at the Riding Warehouse and bought a pair of back up boots for the inevitable day when my current boots suffered a fatal injury. That day was Thursday.
I've owned two pair of the TuffRider Belmont Dress Boots, (plus a pair of the TuffRider Baroques) and I love everything about them. What I've loved most about these boots is the comfort level. They are soft and broken in from the first moment you zip them up. There truly is no break in period. Secondly, I love how they look. I love the high Spanish top, the punched toe cap, the zipper guard at the heel, and the textured look of the leather. Of course, from the photo above they look about as ugly as can be, but these have had some serious miles put on them. Here's what they looked like out of the box.
The third thing that keeps me coming back is the price. For well under $200, I get a super comfortable pair of boots that I don't feel bad abusing. When I ordered them last November, I paid a paltry $131.16. A black Friday deal helped with the price. They normally go for $163.95. I've been wearing my current pair since April of 2018. That's twenty-seven months of hard wear which works out to $4.80 per month. I spend at least twice that on my monthly boxes of tea.
I've been fighting the zippers for a couple of months. I've been running a hunk of wax up and down the zipper teeth in an effort to lubricate them. But zippers, they just don't last forever. On Thursday morning the left zipper blew out after I snapped the top snap. I looked down, shrugged my shoulders, and rode with some air conditioning over my calf. After my ride, I sat down to take my boots off, and the right zipper blew out. All I could think was finally. I had expected a wardrobe malfunction long before July.
It wasn't just the zippers. I was already walking around with two good-sized holes and a developing third. Since none of the holes affected the boots' functionality, I've been living fairly patiently with the oddly placed vents. For the past few weeks I've been tempted to chuck the boots in favor of the new pair gathering dust in my closet, but common sense told me to hold out a wee bit longer; that old pair was bound to kick the bucket sooner rather than later. My common sense was right.
After snapping the photo above, I rather unceremoniously dumped the boots in the trash. Even with new zippers, those boots weren't worth rehabbing. I've worn the new ones a time or two - once or twice to work (they're really cute with a long skirt), and I think I wore them to a schooling show or clinic. I wore them over the weekend, and just like all my other TuffRider tall boots, they've been so comfortable that I forgot they were new.
If you're looking for a comfortable and inexpensive schooling boot or even a show boot, give the TuffRider Belmonts a try. I am now on pair number three and looking for another sale to keep a pair in reserve. I dread the day TuffRider quits making them.
I am no Imelda Marcos or anything - boy, is that showing my age. Some of you may remember that in the late 1980s Imelda Marcos "and her family gained notoriety for living a lavish lifestyle during a period of economic crisis and civil unrest in the country." She was also famous for her more than 1,000 pair of shoes. I like shoes, but not that much. I should clarify. I really like having the appropriate foot wear for the task at hand.
I like slippers on cold days, waterproof boots for rainy days, sandals when it's hot, tennis shoes for running, my Converse sneakers for hanging out, and heels when they're called for. I also take very good care of my shoes. I have a pair of Laredo ropers that are at least 25 years old.
And of course, I have a variety of boots for different horse related tasks. I have my show boots; they live in my horse trailer. I have a pair of schooling boots which live in the tack room. I also have a brand new pair of schooling boots that are still in my office waiting to be called up. My schooling boots still have a few more miles left in them, so until I have a zipper blow out or a sole falls off, I'll keep the new ones in storage until the old ones die.
I also own a few pair of really old Ariat Terrains left over from my endurance days. I only keep them for emergencies. One pair lives in my horse trailer, and another pair lives in a trunk in the tack room. I've actually needed them once or twice over the years. Although as funky as they are, I should just get a new pair to keep on hand.
Besides my schooling boots, the pair of shoes that I wear most often are my muck boots, or as I call them, my barn boots. Even my husband knows which pair I mean when I mention barn boots. I replace these every one to two years. They take an absolute beating, but they save my schooling boots from at least some of the daily wear and tear.
For a long time, like close to ten years, I wore the mid-calf Mudruckers. I liked them a lot until I found the Noble Outfitters version, Muds. For the first year or two, I wore the mid-calf version which I really liked. This fall, I bought the tall boots which I REALLY liked in the winter. When it got sloppy muddy, I didn't have to worry about splash over.
You know what I mean. You're squishing through the mud and suddenly you hear a squelch and poopy water suddenly squirts over the opening into your boot top and drips down onto your socks. Or when filling the water trough, the hose goes a bit wild and you feel icy cold water trickle down the front of your shin bone. That doesn't happen with the tall boots.
A few weeks ago, we had some days in the 80s. I quickly realized that the tall boot version of my Muds wasn't going to work when it hit 110℉. At 80℉, my socks were soaking wet, and I had to scrape my boots off over my sweaty calves. I never had that problem with the mid-calf boots as the opening was pretty generous which allowed more air to circulate.
I did a quick search on Amazon and found the answer to my problem. Noble Outfitters makes a super short version of their Muds which comes to just a couple of inches above my ankles. they're going to be so much more comfortable when it gets hot.
As a bonus, when they arrived, I noticed that there was a special offer on the hangtag for a free pair of Noble Outfitters' "Best Dang Boot Sock™- Over The Calf" - my all time favorite socks. I immediately sent in my proof of purchase.
I love the boots, but the day after they arrived, the temperature dropped twenty degrees, and it rained for several days in a row. I had to drag my tall boots back out. Very funny, Universe, very funny!
On Tuesday, Dover sent me a BOGO email. You probably got it too. I almost always just hit delete, but before I did, I thought I should at least see what the deal was about. Oh, man, I am so (not) glad that I did. It was a BOGO for the breeches that I just bought last month. The breeches that I really, really, really love.
Here's the thing. Yes, I know I have enough pairs of breeches, but some of them are on the way out. They're getting a bit threadbare. That's especially true of my really hot weather summer tights. I love those tights, but they don't have a pocket. I've decided that henceforth I will not be buying tights without a good cell phone pocket.
The Stride by Dover Saddlery® Ladies' Full-Seat Tech Tight has an AMAZING pocket. It's the best pocket I've ever had in a pair of tights, in any pair of breeches actually. I would buy these breeches just for the pocket; it's that good. Not only is the pocket great - because really, you can't ride in a pocket, the breeches themselves are freakishly comfortable. They're so comfortable that I went for a run in them the other day. I also shoved my iPhone in the pocket so I could map my speed and distance. The phone never budged, and the breeches performed better than my running pants!
I also really like my new Dover Saddlery® Wellesley Silicone Full-Seat Breech. Even at full price, $99.95, they're worth it. They're comfortable enough to wear all day, and they don't sag like SmartPak's Pipers. My only complaint is that once summer hits, they'll be a bit too warm, but that's true of every pair of breeches I own. That's why I wear tights in the summer. The only negative thing I can say about them is that while there is a rear pocket, it's not big enough for anything other than a horse treat. My cell phone fits in the front pocket, but not if I bend over or sit down.
If you're in need of a pair of breeches, Dover's BOGO sale is good on these items. The promo code is good through April 19th. Use promo code CMXBCOOL at checkout. Oh, and if you get a USEF discount - mine is always applied automatically, you'll need to delete that code as Dover will only let you use one code at a time.
Was this a case of retail therapy to alleviate boredom, depression, frustration, or a desire to boost the economy? I don't know, maybe? I liked them/needed them and had a bit of extra money to spend, so I did. Like I said. It was a BOGO I couldn't resist.
It actually should be called therapy for boredom. Or maybe just convenience. When you spend a lot of hours in front of the computer, which is what I've been doing lately, it's easy to check out that sale ad that just popped into your inbox. I am usually too busy to click on a BOGO sale which works out just fine for my budget.
So when I saw a BOGO sale from Dover last week, I actually paused before hitting delete. I had a few minutes so I thought why not check it out. In my defense, I had already been thinking of freshening up my supply of breeches. Right now, I am rotating between three pairs of these (which I love), two pair of these (I also like these a lot), this pair (very cute but not great in the summer), and these (which show EVERYTHING which makes me feel naked). It sounds like a lot of choices, but they all serve their own purpose: when it's hot as holy hell, when it's cold, when I am taking a lesson where people might see me, when I need to get dirty, etc.
I don't order from Dover very often. But lately, they've made ordering a bit sweeter. Shipping is getting cheaper (it's free right now on everything), and sized items come with free return shipping. So when I saw that the breeches I had already been eyeballing in the Spring 2020 catalogue had a BOGO deal, I threw some things in my cart.
I always liked SmartPak's Pipers - I had at least four pair, but I HATED, HATED, HATED how they fit. No matter what size I bought - my size, a size up, a size down, the boogers always sagged. I finally gave up. There are two pair in that photo above. When I saw the Wellesley Breeches, made by Dover, I was intrigued. They're similarly styled, although not quite as colorful. I thought they were worth a try.
I have to say, these are now at the top of my rotation. The fit is spot on. There is no sag, and they're surprisingly long enough. They sort of feel like pajama bottoms. Breeches will never be as comfortable as tights, but these are pretty close. There are pockets, but they're not great. The rear pockets are cute but ineffective for my purposes, and my cell phone barely fits in a front pocket, and only while I am standing. That's really the only negative I would give these breeches. In fact, I like them so much that I have a second pair sitting in my cart. I just need to hit buy.
The other pair I bought, the Stride Full Seat Tech Tights, are hands down the most comfortable athletic feeling tights I've ever owned. Don't get me wrong, I love my Horze HyPer Flex Full Seat Tights, but these are even better. I worried that all that contrast stitching might rub, but it doesn't. What it does do is hide some of my curvier parts. And those pockets? HUGE and deep enough to hold my phone with no fear of it being lost or dropped.
I also have a pair of these sitting in my cart. I am trying so hard to hit buy. But if I do that, I really might start to feel like I am hoarding. I don't need two more pair, but once I find something I like, I try to buy it in twos. For the sake of my checking account, I am going to let them sit there for a day or two.
And Dover, if you're listening, please quit reminding me that they're there!
Last week was rough, and frankly, so was yesterday, for a different reason. I think I ran through every emotion in my repertoire - anger, sadness, grief, rage, happiness, contentment, disappointment ... I don't think such wild swings are good for a person's health, so even though I was expecting it, the arrival of my package from Spirithorse Designs was a balm to my very troubled spirit.
Last month I wrote about ordering a piece of horse hair jewelry. While I was initially freaked out by the thought of making jewelry from my horses' tail hairs, I was able to reframe the idea such that I was actually looking forward to receiving a bracelet.
I sent long bundles of each horse's tail, and then waited patiently. The jeweler said that each order could take several weeks, and she was right. The order took at least three weeks to arrive.
Even though the wait was longer than I am used to, Amazon prime has ruined ordering forever, Angela, the owner of Spirithorse Designs kept me updated with personal emails to reassure me that my order had been received and that she was working on it.
As soon as I opened the shipping box I was pleased to discover that Angela had packed the box full of little niceties that made the order feel extra special. She even returned the unused hair.
Everything was so prettily and lovingly wrapped that just getting to my bracelet filled me with happiness.
The bracelet is prettier than I had hoped. With the blend of Izzy's black hairs and Speedy's white ones, the bracelet has a pretty silver glow.
At first, I was worried about what to do with the extra hair. It felt so irreverent to just throw it in the trash, but then I decided to keep it and order something else. Not today, but soon.
I love the bracelet, and not just because it's so nicely made. It arrived at a less-than-joyful moment in time which makes me even more grateful to have ordered it while my boys are still with me. It would have been be very difficult for me to appreciate it under sadder circumstances.
If you're thinking of ordering a piece of jewelry made from your horse's tail or mane hairs, visit Angela's website. I could not be more pleased with the bracelet that she made for me.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. We're currently showing Third Level for the 2020 show season. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are schooling and showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2020 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2020 Pending …
10/11 A. Newcomb (c)
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
2020 Completed …
10/26-27/19 SCEC (***)
6/20-21/20 SCEC (***)
6/29 Ulf Wadeborn (c)
7/11-12 SLO-CDS (***)
7/27 Breen-Gurley (c)
8/30 Breen-Gurley (c)
9/20 Caveletti Clinic (c)
2020 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
2 Scores/1 Judge:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
3 Scores/2 Judges:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
Score 3: 61.750% Johnson
Stuff I Read