From Endurance to Dressage
When you don't follow your own rules, stuff gets broken. That's why I have rules. I have had too many things broken, trompled, sat upon, and plain old ruined. Do you remember the brand new halter that I just bought for Izzy? The one that I had to spend a bit more on to get sized right? The one I ordered a halter name plate for? Yeah. That one.
I rarely hard tie my horses. It's a rule I almost always follow. Instead, I use a Blocker Tie Ring to attach my horses to fixed objects. I have lots of them so that I can use them whenever and wherever I plan to tie my horses. On Friday, I tied Izzy in the arena while I gave T a lesson on Speedy. I did not use a Blocker Tie Ring. I tied him loosely so that he had ample room to swing his hindquarters around so that he could keep an eye on us, but I did tie him.
I was never more than 20 meters away, and I had just finished a good schooling ride on him. Even so, he managed to get bored. At first, he started pawing. I yelled at him, and he stopped. Then he did it a few more times. I yelled again, and I even walked over to him and gave him a small pep talk. This horse hasn't pulled back in a long, long time. Like years. On Friday, I saw him test the halter by leaning against it just a little bit, and the next thing I knew, the halter lay discarded on the ground, and my big brown jackass was bolting around the arena.
The halter was still useable - albeit ugly, so I popped it back on him to lead him back down to the tack room. I have a rope halter, but I haven't needed it since he's been so rock solid tied up. I hung my beautiful, newly ruined halter on its hook and resigned myself to the fact that it was back to the rope halter.
Over the weekend, we went to a cavaletti clinic - more on that in a day or so, where Izzy stood quietly tied to the trailer with a Blocker Tie Ring all damn day. Of course I rode him in the clinic, but he stood like an absolute gentleman the entire day without a single naughty moment. He was out of my sight for the entire duration, except when I popped down to check on him. Did he even think of pulling back? Nope.
Every once in a while, I must do something that pleases the universe because I drove home from the clinic with a brand new leather halter. Since my CDS chapter had to cancel all of our shows this summer, we've put on clinics instead. As a way to thank our membership, our chapter chairperson rounded up a bunch of donations to give to riders in each lesson group. When I saw the halter, a gift from Melanie Lindbeck, proprietress of Show One More Time, I couldn't believe my luck! This halter is even prettier than the one I had bought.
It has all of the features of the first one - a crown piece that buckles on both sides, padded crown and nosepiece, adjustable chin, and a clip at the throat, but it's Havana brown with brass hardware instead of black with stainless steel. It also has some fancy stitching and an ergonomic crown piece, something the first halter lacked.
Izzy will not be getting hard tied with the leather halter, my reminder of why we have rules has been firmly reestablished. I'll probably switch back and forth between the new halter and the rope halter for a while, but I am sure it will be another half dozen years before he pulls back again. In the meantime, I've ordered another halter plate, this time in brass.
All righty then, let's try this one more time!
A week or two back I wrote about Izzy breaking his halter. Then I wrote about buying him a new one and having it modified to fit. Over the weekend, the halter plate that I ordered finally arrived. I am just as happy with it as I knew I would be.
I've ordered quite a few tags over the years, all from HalterTags.com. Most have been for halters, but I've also used the tags as identifiers for winter blankets. Last fall, I ordered tags as keychains when I bought my truck, Newt. I've ordered from Haltertags.com since 2011, and I have never once been disappointed. They engrave deeply, and it lasts. I still have the first tags I ever ordered.
When I bought Izzy's halter, the first thing I did was order a halter plate. When the halter arrived, I realized the leather was narrower than expected which meant the original halter plate was going to be too wide. I simply emailed the fine folks over at HalterTags.com and asked if they could send me a narrower plate than ordered, which they did with no trouble.
While HalterTags.com does very good work, they're not quick, but most engravers aren't. This order took exactly two weeks, which seemed quite reasonable.
While not a super expensive model, my hole puncher neatly punched through the leather. HalterTags.com always sends Chicago Screws, so with a drop of LocTite, I had this DIY project done in less than five minutes. I have to say that the cost of the halter plate was the most satisfying $9.70 that I've probably ever spent.
Now I sort of wish Speedy would break his halter so I could buy him a new halter plate. I'm kidding, Speedy. Yours is doing just fine.
I mentioned that Izzy broke the snap on his Tekna halter which meant I had to buy a new one. Since the kind of halters I like tend to be expensive - I won't use a nylon web halter and don't even own one, I felt compelled to use the gift card my mom had bought me for my birthday. That meant that I couldn't order any halter that I wanted; it had to be from the Riding Warehouse. I tend to be overwhelmed with too many choices, so having to pick from what was offered was probably a good thing. In the end, I went with the Schockemohle Ulm Round Raised Padded Leather Halter. As soon as I pulled it out of the box, I knew I had made a good choice.
I am not a fan of leather halters. I don't like to clean leather, and I like to drop my halters on the ground. I didn't like any of the synthetic halters offered though, so leather it was. At a smidge under eighty bucks, this halter is too nice to simply drop in a heap on the grass (or dirt). If I want Izzy to have nice things, I need to put on my big girl panties and change some habits. Now that I've felt how nice the leather is, it won't be hard to keep it off the ground.
I actually debated between the Schockemohle and the LeMieux Anatomic Padded Leather Halter. Both were nearly the same price, but the Schockmohle just looked prettier, and I suspected its leather might be better. Sizing on both halters left me a tad bit worried though as the equine models were wearing cob-sized halters. Neither horse looked petite, and in fact, the model wearing the LeMieux weighed in at a hefty 1,250 pounds and was 16.2 which put him a little smaller than Izzy.
Cob can be a weird size. I know because I fight that with Speedy. Cob size tends to be wide at the forehead and short down the face. Izzy has a narrow head, but it's pretty long. I knew if the halter were too small, all I could do was send it back. If it were too large, which it was, I could get more holes punched.
While the size was a tiny bit big, I knew I could work with it. Before I did any hole punching though, I examined the halter closely to see if it was worth eighty bucks. There was nothing I didn't love. I rarely get to buy great quality leather because with Speedy, fit always has to come first, and he is not easy to fit. With him, if I want great leather, It usually means a custom order to fit his finer head. Custom orders are generally even more expensive, especially if the leather is nice. With Izzy, size is not usually the problem, so I was able to order off the shelf, and this halter did not disappoint. The leather is super nice, but with a brand like Schockemohle, I'd expect nothing less. The padding at the crown and on the noseband is really soft and pliable, but not so soft that it feels like it will tear.
One thing to note with this halter though is the width of the leather is slightly narrow at only 6/8". I actually really like the narrower straps on Izzy as he doesn't have a huge head. For his size, his head is actually a bit small. When I ordered Izzy's new halter plate, which comes in a 5/8" width, I had to ask if they could do the skinny version which is for dog collars. It comes in a 1/2" width which should fit fine.
The halter's hardware is also nicely shaped with rounded corners. I like the adjustable chin, especially since the halter turned out to be a bit large, and having the crownpiece adjustable on both sides helps with fit. Once I decided to keep it, I looked at what I would need to do to get a perfect fit.
Since the halter is leather, it will likely stretch a bit as well as relax. Right now, it stands off Izzy's face a little, particularly around the nose. If I tightened the crown piece or the noseband any more, the length of leather hanging out is going to be extra long. Those pieces needed to be trimmed. I hate flapping leather that can't be stored in a keeper.
On Friday afternoon, I dropped by the old Granite Station Saddlery and Feed on Buck Owens Boulevard. The place has a new name now, but I didn't catch it. They still do custom leather and saddle work, both big jobs and small. The saddle guy was still there, so he agreed to trim the ends of each strap as well as add holes to each side of the crownpiece and chin strap - while I waited, no less. For $9, I now have a perfect fit.
I realized that other than girths, saddle pads, and "working" bridles, this is almost the nicest thing that I've bought for Izzy. I did him buy him that beautiful, custom browband which I love and admire each time I bridle him, and I bought a pair of Thinline reins last year, but those are the only two nice things I've ever bought him. In six years! Everything else has been hand-me-downs from other horses. I always figured that we were just schooling and very occasionally showing, so it just didn't seem "worth it." Boy, was I wrong!
My credit card better take cover because it's not going to know what hit it!
I am a big fan of vertical spaces, especially for storage. I do not like things on the floor, and I don't like things to be all on one level. In a tack room, vertical storage is pretty essential as our square footage tends to be limited. My saddle storage situation - not vertical, finally annoyed me to the point where I felt compelled to do something about it.
It's not like it was a horrible situation, but it wasn't ideal either. My old saddle, which I haven't used in probably two years, was sitting on a rack wedged in the corner behind my feed bins. My every day saddle was squeezed into a space that limited how much you could open the door. That worked for the most part, but I finally got tired of squeezing behind the door (which is frequently open to let in some air) and shimmying my saddle down alongside my old saddle without knocking things over. I was also sick of the saddle rack collapsing as I was trying to shimmy the saddle on. The nylon straps that hold the support bars were constantly coming unsnapped. Well, maybe not constantly, but frequently enough.
Last week, the rack collapsed one time too many. In a huff, I ordered the three-tiered saddle rack from Tractor Supply. Yeah, the one that I drove an hour and a half to pick up. Want to feel smart? Read that post.
Since I am working from home, and since it's a billion degrees, I headed out to the garage at 6:15 a.m. yesterday morning to put that thing together. I now start work at 7:45, so I gave myself an hour and a half to get it done. At the barn I boarded at before moving out to the ranch, we had a couple of these so I knew what it was supposed to look like before I even opened the box.
As it turned out, opening the box and getting everything out of the box both took longer and was more difficult than actually assembling it. It was like one of those clowns packed in a Volkswagen scenarios. It was all arms and legs tangled up with heads and butts.
Once all of the pieces were laid out, the whole thing took less than ten minutes to assemble. The only reason it took that long was because I was dripping in sweat and had to stop a few times to wipe the sweat out of my eyes.
While it would have made more sense to take it at least partway apart to get it in the back of my truck, I decided to just power through and heave it up there. Same thing once I made it out to the barn. I stood it up, tipped it sideways, and lugged into the tack room. Why make an extra trip when you can pretend you're Superman? Girl power.
I dragged everything from my half of the tack room to the side and gave the floor a good sweeping. The saddle stand in the corner hadn't been moved since I moved in four years ago. I am not exactly sure what was in that dirt pile, but some of it had legs, and some of it looked suspiciously like teeny tiny poop. Then I cut my pool noodles off the old saddle rack and duct taped them to the new one. A "real" saddle mattress is close to two hundred bucks. The el cheapo pool noodles are working brilliantly.
I can't say the vertical saddle rack has saved any square footage - although the door opens farther now, but it's going to make my life a lot easier. With a third tier, I now have a better place for drying my wet saddle pads. On the flip side, I can now see how gross that saddle pad is. Seriously, Sweaney, throw that thing in the washer!
Work has been a wee bit stressful this week, and it's been hotter than hell by the time I can ride, so I haven't sat in the saddle since Sunday. Having a new saddle stand is somehow a motivator to ride, so even though it's predicted to be 107 ℉ this afternoon, I am going to try and at least hack around the ranch.
If nothing else, I am least going to slide my saddle on and off the rack just to see how it works.
After I rode on Sunday, I hosed Izzy off and left him to graze on the lawn as he dried off. I saw him give a quick shake of his head, but it was nothing that caused me to be alarmed or even worried. He continued to graze as I sat cooling off in the shade.
As usual, I poured his lunch bucket into his feeder and watched as he came strolling into his paddock. It wasn't until he was right in front of me that I noticed that the clip that connects the throat strap to the halter was swinging in the breeze. I tugged the halter over his ears and saw that the snap was broken. He must have hooked it on the wire fence and broke it when he jerked his head free. Shoot. There's no fixing that.
I have really liked this halter, a Tekna breakaway halter. I actually have two of them, a black one for Speedy and this brown one for Izzy. The Tekna line of products are synthetic, but they look and feel very leather-like without the hassle of leather. And yes, my endurance roots are shining through.
I have actually been considering getting a new one though as this halter is starting to show its age. First, the padding at the noseband and crown has begun to crack.
Izzy long ago rubbed his name off the halter plate that someone gave me as a gift which was one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever received.
The hole that I use to buckle the halter is also starting to show its innards.
Other than those few cosmetic issues, everything else is in good working order. Good enough anyway to continue using it. Now, I don't have to feel guilty about buying a new one.
My birthday was in January. My mom had said she was sending me the usual Riding Warehouse gift card. When no card arrived, I assumed my mom had forgotten or something had prevented her from ordering it. It felt rude to call her up and say, "hey, where's my gift?" When she was here a week or so ago, Riding Warehouse came up in the conversation - horses are high on my list of things to talk about as is buying stuff for said horses. My mom asked what I had ended up buying with the gift card.
When I told her that no gift card had arrived, she swore up and down that her credit card had been charged, so I placed a quick call to the fine folks over at Riding Warehouse. Within minutes, the customer service representative verified that yes, a gift card had been ordered, and no, it had not been redeemed. The best we could figure was that the email notifying me of the gift card had been lost in space. So guess what I now have? Yep, $200 to spend at my favorite online retailer.
So, along with a new pair of C4 socks - these run a very close second to my all-time favorite Noble Outfitters Over the Calf Peddies, and a tub of Zephyr's Garden Skin Rescue Emollient Salve - poor Izzy has rubbed out most of the hair from his poll to his tail, I ordered the Schockemohle Ulm Round Raised Padded Leather Halter. I am not a fan of leather halters, but Riding Warehouse no longer carries the Tekna halter, and none of the other synthetic halters appealed to me.
The Shockemohle arrived last night, so I haven't had the chance to see if it fits yet. I hope it does because it is quite pretty and has several features that put it just a step above ho-hum. I like the adjustable noseband, the clip at the throat, and the double adjustable crownpiece will help with fit. Izzy wears a Full/Horse size in both of his bridles and Tekna Halter, so I am hoping I ordered the right size.
Since he's my "new" show horse, I think he deserves to walk around in something a little nicer than his old halter. Don't let me down, buddy!
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