From Endurance to Dressage
Last month, I wrote about the need to find a new half pad. The fleece half pad I use for schooling, a Fleeceworks pad, never washes up well, and I didn't like that it fit so tight to the saddle, meaning the front and back fleece parts were right at the saddle's pommel and cantle. I suspect it has either shrunk or was never long enough to begin with. Nothing is "wrong" with mine other than the fact that it is a pain to keep clean. I have to "comb" it out after every wash, and it takes forever to get it to fluff back up. You can see it the photo below.
As I've already mentioned, my first choice was the Kavallerie 3D Air-Mesh Half Pad, but as luck would have it, it sold out in black. When I messaged Kavallerie to see how soon it would be back in stock, I was told the wait time would be about three months, so I ordered the LeMieux version from Dover.
First of all, this pad is much nicer than the retailers' photos show. No matter which site I checked, they all used the same photo of the pad which made the grip portion look like gray cloth. Now I can tell that it's silicone, much like you would see on a pair of breeches.
I've never not liked a LeMieux product that I've purchased - I have a pair of breeches, two different pads, a saddle cover, and a bridle bag, so I wasn't surprised to like this pad, too.
Price: From Dover, the pad costs $111.95 with free shipping. If you're also a USEF member and remember to use the discount code, CMXUSEF, you can save an additional 10%. Most "nicer" half pad are selling for upwards of $200, so this pad earns all the stars for value.
Fit: I didn't like how my Fleeceworks pad fit underneath my saddle, so I was extra careful when ordering the LeMieux. I wanted to make sure it was long enough for my saddle so that its edges didn't create a ridge of pressure underneath my saddle's panels. My Fleeceworks pad is 21", so I needed something longer. The LeMieux is 22" which gives me several inches for adjustability, and without the ridge created by the fleece at the front and back of the pad, I can shift the pad forward or backward as needed. I also love the high contour of the pad, something that LeMieux uses in all of its saddle pads. Again, this pad gets all the stars for fit.
Function: I've only ridden in the pad once, so this review is only very preliminary. Once my butt was in the saddle, I never even gave it another thought. For me, that's a good thing. I didn't need the grip of the X-Grip System, as my saddle doesn't move around, but I will say that for now, the pad is GRIPPY. After placing my saddle on Izzy's back, I usually slide it around until I get it in the position I like. When I tried to do that with the new half pad, I realized it was "glued" to the bottom of my saddle. If you're looking for a half pad that wont's slide around, this is the one. Again, the pad gets all the stars for function.
Durability: How well will it wash up? That, I don't know yet, but it seems pretty sturdy and durable. I am not sure how sticky the Grip System will stay, but since I didn't order the pad for that particular feature, I won't be concerned if it wears off. I suspect it should last well though as it is similar in feel to the silicone on all of my breeches, and all of those get washed far more frequently than this half pad will. All of the stitching is super tight, and the material is soft but heavy duty. Over all, it feels like it will be able to take some use and abuse. I want to give it all of the stars for durability, but that will remain to be seen.
For now, I am quite pleased with the Lemieux X-Grip Half Pad and feel that it was money well spent. The price was within my budget, it fits perfectly, does what it's supposed to, and seems like it will be easy to maintain. Once I use it for a month or two and wash it once or twice, I'll do a follow up review.
For now, I am super happy!
Today marks the first day of my annual Spring Break, and I have never needed it more than I do this year. I know I say that every year, but this time I really mean it which freaks me out just a little bit because that must mean that each year gets worse. What will schools look like in five years? Don't tell me, I can't handle it.
It's only one week, but I've got plans. Not big plans, but I don't think I could handle big plans anyway. Today, Izzy and I are headed to Moorpark for a lesson with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage. I've ridden with Sean twice before and really liked both his teaching style and philosophy. Sean believes that "ANY horse can successfully advance and compete up the levels with correct training." Good thing because that's us.
I've committed to at least two lessons a month with Sean along with an additional lesson and coaching at a monthly show. We have a lesson today, another one next Monday, and a third lesson on Friday afternoon before the April show at SCEC. I'm a little nervous about showing someone "new" all of my bad habits, short comings, and inadequacies, but if I am not honest with him, I won't get any better. You wouldn't lie to the doctor, so why lie to the trainer? I am hoping Sean can get us actually performing at shows. I am a little tired of just surviving.
In between my lessons with Sean, Speedy will finally get back to work with his ladies. He's still a tiny bit sore from the abscess though. He jogged out beautifully on Saturday with a wrap, but on Sunday there was still something there. I jogged him out barefoot on the hard packed driveway though, so I am not surprised that he was still favoring it slightly. I wrapped his hoof with more Betadine soaked gauze, so hopefully that helps the sole to harden back up. As long as he's willing and not overly sore, he'll do lessons on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Thursday, we're having a Girls Day at the ranch with lunch in our equestrian lounge. The horses at the ranch are getting their vaccinations (my two boys have already had theirs). While he's in the neighborhood, the vet will do several neighbors' horses too. Before the vet arrives, the ranch owner and DG will have a morning lesson, so we decided to fit lunch in between that and the vet visit. Once everyone has gone, I'll take Izzy out for an afternoon ride.
Even though I am watching my pennies closely, or maybe as a result of watching said pennies, I was able to spring for a new half pad this weekend. My first choice was the Kavallerie 3D Air-Mesh Half Pad, but as luck would have it, it just sold out in black. When I messaged Kavallerie to see how soon it would be back in stock, I was told the wait time would be about three months. Well, that wasn't going to work, so I ordered the LeMieux version from Dover. With my USEF membership discount, I was able to get it for the same price as the Kavallerie pad, so that made me feel better.
I have never purchased a LeMieux product that I haven't liked, so I feel pretty confident that I'll be happy with it. And if not, shipping is free both ways. If I hate it, I'll return it and wait for the Kavallerie pad to be restocked. I figure it will work out the way that it is intended to work out. Dover doesn't have the fastest shipping, so it probably won't arrive for at least a week.
I have a few other things I want to get done this week like hosing out my trailer and playing around with Pivo Meet. My husband's birthday is also in a week, so we're looking for a way to celebrate. The problem with having a week jam-packed with non-work related fun is that it makes the days fly by. Since I don't have to be back to work until April 6, I am not giving school another thought.
Here's to a week filled with horses and friends.
I'm watching my pennies really closely right now. I've been able to work out my budget so that I should be able to do two lessons a month as well a USDF show each month from April through the fall as long as I stick to my budget. Sticking to my budget means no more retail therapy. In fact, I've even cut out a few things that I've decided aren't working out well enough to continue buying each month. To say I am highly motivated right now is an understatement.
And yet ...
I am not so happy with my half pad. I actually have three, but the third one is a correction foam pad that was for a different horse. The two that I use regularly are both white. My every day half pad is a Fleeceworks wool half pad. I can't remember where I bought it, but they're a lot more expensive now than what I remember paying. I also have an ECP shimmable correction half pad that I use for shows.
The Fleeceworks half pad is starting to compress a little bit, and it is a pain in the butt to keep clean and fluffy. The ECP correction pad is equally difficult to keep clean, and I inadvertently cut off the velcro straps that help keep it secured to the saddle. Don't ask.
I've been combing through all of the websites that I usually frequent, but I just can't find anything that I like better than the Kavallerie half pad pictured at the top. I'm looking for a pad that comes in at or below $100. I also want something hose-friendly meaning all I need to do is give it a quick rinse in a bucket without the need to fluff it back up or wait several days for it to dry.
The Kavallerie checks all of my boxes: the pad is $99.98 with free shipping. I think I can also get a discount code as a first time shopper. The pad can be hand washed or thrown in the machine, and to dry, it needs only to be laid flat. My only reservation is that I've never ordered from Kavallerie, so I don't know how good their products are nor how reliable the company is.
LeMieux makes a nearly identical pad, but at $111.95 from Dover (the cheapest I could find it), it's a bit more expensive, but the shipping is also free. I have had nothing but good luck with LeMieux - I have a pair of breeches, a saddle cover, a bridle bag, and two pads, all of which I love. I doubt I would be disappointed by this half pad.
Has anyone ordered from Kavallerie? Does anyone have either of these two half pads? Anyone know of something similar that I might have missed? I would love to hear from you if you have some advice.
As predicted, the bonnets that I ordered on Thursday from the Riding Warehouse showed up on Saturday. If I actually lived in SLO, Riding Warehouse's hometown, I'd be in big, big trouble. As it is, we try and stop in when we're in their area. With free shipping though, it's actually cheaper to order and have it delivered than it is to go and pick up something.
Between my recent acquisition of two new helmets and the bonnets, I could now outfit a team of horses and riders. The maroon helmet still hasn't shipped though, so team Head to Head will have to wait.
I already wrote about the LeMieux Noice Reduction Ear Bonnet when I received the first one, so I wasn't surprised about how nice it was. Just like the navy version, the ears are padded with micro foam, and the yarn is tightly woven. It's not fancy or decorative, but it fits wells and will hopefully help Izzy focus while at shows.
Other than the blinged-out bonnet I bought a few weeks ago, I had never bought anything with the Equine Couture label. These new bonnets with studs have sold me on the brand. If the rest of their product line is as well made as these, I'm hooked. Just like the first bonnet, these have very stretchy ears made of spandex. Again, the yarn is heavy duty and woven tightly. The studs are little beebees that are individually sewn on. Each beebee has a tiny hole through its center. I don't know how long they'll last, but at $17.95 a bonnet, who cares? If you're looking for an inexpensive fly bonnet, these are much nicer than the price would suggest.
I am a Roeckl girl, price be damned. I haven't worn anything but Roeckl gloves in at least seven or eight years. They generally last me one to two years, but I am not at all careful with them and I only wash them once or twice a year. Mine get grubby, grimy, and well-abused. I also ride with Thinline or rubber reins, both of which are heavily textured. This is also hard on gloves.
I've had nearly every color - white, black, black and brown, black and red, navy and white (more than once), brown and rose gold; I went with straight navy this time. While the Roeckl gloves are a bit on the pricey side and don't last forever, the way they feel like a second skin makes them an easy purchase in my book.
For someone who doesn't think she's into dressing up her horses, I've sure been spending a lot of time doing just that. I wonder if it's because I've never really bought Izzy anything new. Now that he's my main ride, his wardrobe has suddenly increased.
If nothing else, he'll at least look good!
If I got cash for every birthday, I think I'd be willing to have two birthdays a year even if that pushed me to 60 a lot sooner than I would like. My dad would like that because I'd pass him by in no time. He's facing 70 right now which he finds as shocking as I found 50. As it turns out, turning 50 wasn't such a big deal after all.
My mom is always so generous when it comes to my birthday. She loves horses, too, and she loves that I love horses. So while she can't go with me to shows and clinics, she likes to support me by at least buying me the stuff that I won't usually buy on my own. Multiple helmets comes to mind. She paid for the first one.
This has been a long, hard week, so during my lunch "break" yesterday, I might have indulged in some retail therapy. Does it still count as RT when you're spending someone else's money? The gift card my mom sent me still had a hefty amount on it, but I did need to chip in an extra $30. For the way it lightened my mood - throwing this and that in one's cart is very liberating, the thirty bucks was money well spent.
So what did I get? Well it should be a bit obvious. I started with the black LeMieux Acoustic Noise Reduction Ear Bonnet Fly Hood which has been on back order until yesterday. I know because I've been checking daily for the past two weeks. I already have the navy version; both are for showing. Then I moved on to a navy pair of Roeckl gloves. I am currently using a previously discarded pair since they're in better shape than my current working pair. I need to learn to throw stuff out.
Then I moved on to the Equine Couture Fly Bonnets. I really like the one I bought a couple of weeks back, but it turned out to be much fancier than I thought. I am going to save it for when I want to dress Izzy up a little for lessons or clinics.
Originally, I wanted a black fly bonnet for schooling rides, but I liked the look of the Equine Couture Fly Bonnet with Studs so much that I bought it in both black and navy. It's only money, and it wasn't really even my money, so I splurged. Thanks, mom! Everything should get here by Monday, if not sooner.
You gotta love it when Riding Warehouse is only two hours away!
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 …
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
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