From Endurance to Dressage
Late last week I gave Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, a call. He didn't pick up, which wasn't a surprise as he's really busy, but I knew he'd call back as soon as he had a free moment. I could have texted, but I wanted to give him some feedback about the bodywork Izzy had had the day before, and a text would have taken too long. A few minutes later, he returned my call.
Me: Thanks for calling me back, I know you're busy.
Sean: No problem. I can talk; I am at Dressage Extensions. A bunch of LeMieux products are back in stock. Wasn't there something you wanted?
I nearly dropped the phone. All the things, please, I responded. Needless to say, Izzy's sore poll ended up being the last thing we talked about. Sean knew I had been searching for a white LeMieux pad for showing, and as luck would have it, Dressage Extensions finally had several in stock. Good thing because he also wanted one. We both now own a brand new, white Lemieux pad.
Since he was there, I also asked about any fly bonnets in maroon. I had just ordered one from Dover, but it turned out to be way too red to match my AA Motionlite coat and helmet. They look purple in this photo, but they truly are maroon.
The folks at Dressage Extensions are really helpful, so Sean put me on speaker. Between the two of them, they picked out a few bonnets to show me.
Sean: I am texting you a photo.
Me: Got it. The one on the right is definitely too "red."
Dressage Extensions: We agree. The one on the left should work. It has more of a purple tone than red.
Sean: Can she return it if it doesn't match? (I love his thinking.)
Dressage Extensions: She has a year to return it if the color isn't right.
Me: I'll take it!
While Sean and I continued chatting, someone rang up Sean's order. With the white pad and maroon bonnet picked out, it was my turn at the register. With Sean holding his phone, and me on speaker, I read off my credit card number, expiration, and CVC code. I hope some lucky soul isn't about to buy a new saddle and a pair of Petries.
With my pad, bonnet, and receipt in his hands, Sean finally turned off the speaker on his phone so we could discuss Izzy's bodywork and schedule this weekend's lesson. I'll pick up my stuff when I head down there in October. Having a trainer who lives ten minutes from Dressage Extensions could be very hazardous to my credit card.
Trainer, enabler, or both?
White. I both hate it and love it. It looks so pretty on a shiny, show horse, but unfortunately, it doesn't stay that way unless you put in a fair amount of effort. I have a pile of white show pads, but half of them are Speedy's which means they're a bit too small for Izzy's larger frame. At our last show, my white satin pad with crystals started having issues. The metal bits that hold the crystals on are starting to rust which is staining the pad. I needed to replace it.
My favorite pads right now are the LeMieux pads, I have two, a black with fleece on the underside and one in navy. Nearly everything that sports the LeMieux label is on back order until around 2053. Just kidding, but seriously, try finding a pad in white. If you can land one, let me know. With the LeMieux out of the picture, I had to find something that I liked nearly as much. That would be the Union Hill Dressage pads. They're also back ordered until late October. Bummer.
I did some searching though and found this Weatherbeeta pad at the Riding Warehouse that is a close match, at least in style, to the LeMieux pads. The hunter green, white, navy, and yellow (of all colors) are back ordered, but it comes in some other beautiful colors - the purple is luscious. I might have ordered the last white one, but it might still be available at Dover if you really need a new white show pad.
When I laid it on top of one of my LeMieux pads, the silhouettes lined up perfectly. And one of the things I love about the LeMieux pads is the extra high wither relief. The Weatherbeeta has the exact same high wither profile. Win.
Like the LeMieux, the Weatherbeeta has the modern contoured D-ring straps instead of the traditional straps that we all cut off immediately. Win
Also like the LeMieux, the Weatehrbeeta has the covered girth patch which keeps your billets from rubbing the pad. Unlike the LeMieux, the Weatherbeeta doesn't have the girth straps with the optional inner locking loop which helps prevent slipping. I don't use those little loops, but it's a feature Weatherbeeta could have tossed in. Not a win.
Weatherbeeta got the high wither profile right. Win.
Unlike the LeMieux, the Weatherbeeta has a breathable mesh spine that can't be bad. I've noticed this channel on another Weatherbeeta pad that I own. It hasn't affected the durability of the pad, but I don't know if it keeps my horse cooler or not. Either way, I'm counting this as a positive, so ... win.
Unlike my other LeMieux pads, this one did NOT wash well. After using it on Saturday at the show, it had dirt (from where it brushed against something when I took it off) and black marks from my saddle. Izzy did get pretty sweaty, but my Union Hill pad, which I used on Sunday, came out very clean after just one wash; not the Weatherbeeta. It's in the wash again, this time with some stain remover and hot water. Hopefully it looks better.
Other than not washing well (so far), this pad basically meets my expectations, especially for the price. The Weatherbeeta's $49.95 price tag definitely beats the pricier LeMieux which runs about $79.95 for the cheapest version. A $30 savings might be enough to persuade me to buy it in one of those other colors, but not the white one.
Those maroon, purple, and turquoise pads are calling my name.
Over this show season, I've "needed" to buy Izzy quite a few things. I thought I'd give a quick update on how well some of those things have worked out.
#1 LeMieux Half Pad - In April, I bought the Lemieux X-Grip Half pad. It wasn't my first choice, but it has turned out to be a great pick. I've been using this pad daily since April, and it still looks brand new.
I still haven't needed to wash it, but I do wipe down the grippy top layer with a damp cloth every once in a while. My saddle never slipped before so the grip system wasn't a big deal, but if you need something to keep your saddle from slipping, this pad will do it. When I first bought it, I was frustrated by the stickiness. Once your saddle is on that pad, you can't slide the saddle around to adjust its position. I've since learned to put my saddle squarely on top of the half pad, and then to make adjustments, I lift the front of the half pad and my saddle's pommel and move them around until the saddle is sitting where I want it.
Once the half pad is in place, it fits nicely under my dressage saddle, and of course, it works particularly well with the LeMieux saddle pads. I also use it with other pads without any issue. Overall, I have no complaints about this pad and would highly recommend it.
#2 Two Horse Tack Halter - This is one thing I am definitely tired of buying. Izzy has gone through a number of halters this year, but so far, the beta halter from Two Horse Tack is doing its job.
The thing I most love about it, besides it not being broken, is how easy it is to clean. Since it is beta, a synthetic material, I just hose it off or dunk it in a bucket; it still looks brand new. I custom-ordered this halter to include a crown piece that buckles on both sides, clips at the jaw, and a buckle at the chin. I would definitely order those customizations again. This halter comes with roller buckles on the crown piece, and I LOVE that feature. It makes the halter so much easier to buckle on and off.
If I order another one of the Two Horse Halters, I will probably go for a more vibrant color with the color cushion padding. Izzy is not getting any rubs; I just like the look of the two-tone halters. This has been a great halter, and I would definitely order from Two Horse Tack again.
#3 ThinLine Girth - I haven't had the ThinLine girth for very long, but I love it more each time I use it. Besides its functionality - which is flawless, it is super easy to clean. As soon as I pull it off my saddle, I dunk it in a bucket, shake off the excess water, and put it away.
The next day, the girth is clean and dry and ready to use. In fact, if I just wiped it down with a towel it would be ready to use immediately. Since the material isn't really porous, it doesn't get wet or soggy like my fleece and memory foam girths do. Again, I would highly recommend this girth if you're looking for something that is easy to clean.
I'm loving all three purchases, but is it weird that "easy to clean" is such a priority?
Last week, Dover sent me one of those daily emails highlighting some product or other. Most of the time I delete them without checking out the "special" sale, but on that day, I did scroll though, and what to my wondering eyes did appear? Why nothing but a burgundy colored fly veil! Rats!
I have spent a small fortune on fly veils this year, and sadly, I lost one of the pricier LeMieux bonnets at a show in May. I am fed up with spending money on bonnets, but I have been wanting one in burgundy/maroon to match our Sunday turnout.
The black bonnet is okay, but one that matches my coat and helmet would look so very nice. So when I saw that Dover add, and then when I saw the price and reviews, how could I say no?
The thing with color though is that matching it close enough to look good can be tough. In the picture, the veil looks more pinkish red than burgundy or maroon, but so did my helmet. My fingers are crossed that the veil will match, but if not, I can school in it or simply send it back.
I'll let you know once it gets here.
My endurance horses all did best with mohair girths, a natural fiber, but girth shape wasn't much of a factor. When I transitioned to dressage, Speedy did best with a fleece girth. While Speedy does get sweaty, it has never been so copious as to warrant frequent cleaning. Izzy, on the other hand, sweats like a teenage boy which means his girth needs to be cleaned a lot. Izzy started with a fleece girth, but it was constantly "crunchy," so I bought a synthetic girth that served him well for quite some time.
I liked that Ovation girth, and I still have it, but eventually, it started to wear a bit. About two years ago, I replaced it with the Collegiate Memory Foam girth, which I also like. It works great, and I assume that Izzy finds it comfortable. The one thing that I don't like about it is that when I wash it, it takes some time to dry. In the winter, it can take days to dry which is really impractical. The girth is still in fine shape, but it doesn't smell great because I don't rinse it off very often because it takes too long to dry.
My friend Valerie, who owns the Dressage Pony Store (she makes sure to give every product she sells a thorough trial) uses the Thinline girths on her super sensitive pony as well as on Cinco, her big guy that doesn't care so much. While at STC Dressage a few weeks ago for a lesson - she's in training with Sean Cunningham, I saw her girth, a Thinline. After feeling the material and closely examining its construction, I decided to order one for Izzy. It came a week or so ago.
The Thinline is not contoured like the memory foam girth, but Izzy has never needed that feature. Like all of my girths, it has roller buckles which are a must have. The thing it doesn't have is elastic at both ends, but what it does have seems a bit smarter. Both buckles are part of a variable buckle system, distributing pressure evenly with its unique stabilizing d-ring. This is a pretty smart system. If you pull one side, the other side gets shorter. This eliminates any gapping. I call it "self-correcting."
My favorite feature of this girth is how easy it is to clean. When I pull it off, I swish it in a bucket of water, shake the excess water off, and then hang it up. If I need it right away, I can easily wipe off the beaded water with a towel, but since it's not porous like the memory foam girth, it dries almost immediately. Having had two sets of Thinline reins, I do know that the Thinline material doesn't like chemicals, so I imagine that leaving it gross and sweaty might eventually cause the material to fail. Since I love that it dries immediately, I have no problem giving it a quick rinse each day. I keep a bucket of water just for rinsing my bit after each ride, so adding the girth to that regimen is no extra work.
I've ridden Izzy in the girth more than ten times now, including at the show last week, and he seems perfectly comfortable in it. Even though we're having the 4th hottest summer on record, the Thinline material hasn't irritated his skin or left any rubs. If it works in this heat, it'll be fine in the winter.
The only thing this horse hasn't had new in the past year is a saddle. Don't tell him!
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. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. 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 showing at Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read