coats and bridles and big butts, oh my!

Today is a very random smattering of thoughts, so hold on to your seats and try to stay with my very ADD mind.

First, BellEqui (which you may remember from this Small Business Spotlight) revealed a sneak peek of their new coat colors on facebook. I thought this was too cool not to share. Loving the royal blue and the purple.



Second, I’m still on the strugglebus as far as how I feel about the Micklem. While he’s not going behind the bit in it, he also feels much less supple in it/borderline resistant, so I’m trying to figure out how I feel about all that. In essence I feel like I’ve kind of traded one problem for another, but maybe with more time he’d settle in? He does seem to prefer it with the french link eggbutt (of course he does, because I think eggbutts are ugly, so combine ugly bit with ugly bridle and YAY thanks Henry) and he did jump pretty well in it on Sunday… it’s the flatwork I’m kind of meh about. I also went by our local Dover to see/feel the brown version and was not very impressed with the quality. Looks and quality-wise I like the Perfect Sit a lot more, but I haven’t had much luck getting info from them on purchasing in the US. So, uh… that makes things difficult. I still want to try him in a figure 8 too and see if it’s that simple. I’m currently in the middle of a hunt for a monocrown figure 8 noseband.



I gave Henry Monday off and did a quick hack yesterday, after which I took him for a short gallop in the field and he gleefully crowhopped his way around. In his mind he’s bucking, but really it’s just enough of a hop to make you giggle. Then he stood there in the barn looking sweaty and pathetic from his 2 minute feat of extreme athleticism and struck his best Quarter Horse pose. I swear his hind end doesn’t really look like that, but I found the picture hilarious. Halter class, anyone?


Today is kind of rainy so we’ll see if I actually get to ride or not!

Blog Hop: Stalker

It’s been a while since I participated in one of Viva Carlos’ blog hops, but I can’t resist this one. Stalkers unite.


What Equestrian Blogger out there do you really want to meet?

It’s hard to narrow it down because there are so many out there that seem awesome and I hate to feel like I’m playing favorites. In reality my list would include a lot of folks. See all those fine people on my sidebar under “Other Fun Horsey Blogs”? Every single one of those weirdos would qualify. I haven’t been blogging for very long but the amount of support and camaraderie I’ve received in the equestrian blogging community has been a really unexpected treat. In a way it already feels like a lot of us are friends, so meeting them all would be pretty cool.

I do already know Lauren of She Moved to Texas in “real life” (in fact, she’s the reason I started blogging so everyone feel free to send her hate mail) therefore she’s an automatic toss. Although we’re no longer at the same barn and that gives me a bit of the sads.


Over the course of the past few months I’ve discovered that Hillary of Equestrian at Hart and I seem to have much in common. Honestly, we’re a little creepy (I’m just being nice, we all know she’s the creepy one). We have scary similar taste and seem to be really good at enabling harassing encouraging each other to buy cool stuff. Not that I really need any help with that. I’m not really sure if meeting her would be the best thing ever or the worst thing ever. My pocketbook is crying just thinking about the possibilities, but I have to say that anyone who has an intense love for all things navy and rocks brown tall boots has to be pretty damn fantastic. Not too many people will indulge me in deep conversations about Mango Bay belts and weird Swedish bridles. For that reason I suppose I would have to pick her, purely because I’m nothing if not a masochist.


^ That goes for all of you.


Weekend recap: new beginnings

I’m on a roll lately with good weekends. As much as I love showing, it’s nice to have a summer break where I’m not out of town or totally tied up at a show for days at a time. It’s actually possible to do other things besides horses. Not that I actually do lots of other things, but in theory…

On Friday my haul of stuff from the fourth of July sales arrived – new anatomic girth and a big jar of cookies. I rode Henry after work (in his regular bridle instead of the Micklem and he was kind of awful – more about that on another day) then I went to happy hour with some old horsey friends of mine. It’s funny how none of the friendships I had from school actually lasted beyond that time, but I still keep in touch with a lot of the people I grew up riding with. Horses are the great unifier. That or we’re all just so weird that we only really get along with our own kind.


Saturday I went out and rode early, then stopped at the park on the way home to ride my cyclocross bike. I spent half an hour working on things that I actually DID need to practice, then I just got distracted going up and down this little “fish bowl” area because, well… it’s way more fun and obviously I’m 10 years old.


Then I dragged myself home to walk the dogs and do laundry and dishes, then parked in front of Netflix watching weird documentaries. I’ve been on a real kick with those lately. If you’re looking for something super depressing and awful, watch It’s a Girl. Also sad and depressing – Stuck. If you’re looking for something that will leave you saying “WTF what a bunch of idiots” watch The Imposter.


After SO got home from work we loaded up the beer and cider and headed back to the barn for a party. I’ve only been there a couple weeks so I still haven’t met a lot of people, or only met them in passing, so it was great to be able to actually get to know everyone a bit better. We had a lot of fun hanging out and swapping stories. Even SO had fun, and he usually just looks like a lost/sad/bored puppy at anything horse related.

Sunday morning I was back out at 7:30 for my first lesson with the new trainer. I will say, I had several lightbulb moments. He was on several of my old will-not-die habits right away, and helped me think about them a little differently. For instance, I love to lean. I’m a hunchback, my upper body has a mind of it’s own, always has. He suggested that I instead think about posting with my hips going UP instead of forward, and slow the rhythm of the post. That helped keep my shoulders up and open, which helped lengthen Henry’s stride without it getting quick.

After some flatwork we started jumping, first trotting and then cantering a little skinny vertical. After a few times over he asked me where I’m looking as I approach the jump. I know where I should be looking, but honestly I couldn’t answer about where I actually WAS looking. He said that sometimes I was looking at the ground pole, sometimes I was looking at the corner, but rarely was I actually looking at the middle of the top rail of the jump. He said it would make my ride and my distance more consistent and my horse more confident and he was right – it did.

We moved on to a few jumps in succession on kind of a circle. After the first time around he suggested that with this horse I try coming out of the corner with a bolder canter – a very slight move-up and more forward ride. This made a really big difference, especially if the spot came up a bit deep. Instead of landing and stalling out a bit, Henry landed still moving forward and everything just rode a lot better in general when we carried more pace to the fence.  Not a heavy in my hand pace, but pushing him UP into my hand pace. My takeaway was that if I’m creating power TO the jump, the jump will have power no matter the distance. If I’m decreasing power or just maintaining, a bad distance will be much more likely to result in a rail. This horse is one that needs a little help in creating and keeping the power in his canter, and jumps better from a bolder canter.

He also latched right on to my worst habit that I have never really been able to get rid of, much to the chagrin of a previous trainer – I always turn my head in the air. It’s like the damn thing is on a swivel, I can’t keep it straight for the life of me. Ugh. But at least now someone is yelling at me about it again so maybe I can get it back under control.


I spent Sunday afternoon watching copious amounts of Harry Potter (#PotterheadWeekend, woot!) while wearing my Lion King shirt. Because Hakuna Matata. And like I said, I’m 10.

I also used Henry’s new girth this weekend and have been pretty pleased with it. Will do a review after a few weeks but so far it’s working great.



Hope everyone else had a great weekend as well!

Small Business Spotlight: FireFly Custom Bonnets

I’ll be the first to admit I have a major custom bonnet obsession. There’s something about a pretty horse hat that just makes my soul smile. The problem for me has always been price: $100+ is a pretty tough pill to swallow. On the other hand, I’m really particular about the right materials and fit and colors, so just any ol’ off the rack bonnet won’t do. Then last year I discovered FireFly Bonnets and suddenly the possibilities were endless.


I started off buying one bonnet as a present for a friend, to match a custom baby pad that I’d had made for her. I fell so in love with the workmanship and attention to detail that before I knew it I had 4 of my own with plans for more. Because bonnets are like potato chips (or ponies): you can’t have just one. I’ve had bonnets from the well known “big name” brands before, and I have to say that the quality of the FireFly bonnets is, IMO, better. Plus you have all the same options for custom sizing, ear embroidery, embellishments, etc at a substantially lower cost.


Prices start at $55 for a basic bonnet, and increase with added options. Cording is $10 per row, rhinestones are $15 per row, custom beading is $20 per row, plain scallops are $5, scallops with crystals in center are $10, ear embroidery is $10. She can even embroider a logo on the bonnet for $10-20. Custom size ears are no additional charge, which is great for people like me who have both a little-eared creature and a donkey-eared creature… they each can have something made to fit perfectly without that excess ear fabric that makes me so batty.


New bonnet styles are still being added to the store, so if you don’t see what you’re looking for shoot them a message and they can definitely help you out. Nicole is fantastic (and so patient!) about working with you to design exactly what you want. She can even make mock-ups if you’re stuck trying to choose between a few different colors/designs. In my experience she really is dedicated to designing and producing an item that is perfect for you and that you will be happy with for many years to come. Keep in mind that as with all custom items, beautiful things take time, so allow up to 6 weeks until delivery. The good news is that if you DO need something in a hurry, they can make it happen for a small rush fee.


Nicole at FireFly was kind enough to give us a little more insight into her business:

1) When did you start this business?
I have been making bonnets for friends for years, but I started FireFly as it is today in November of 2013. FireFly is quickly gaining popularity throughout the US and Canada, and customers range from pleasure riders to grand prix showjumpers.

2) How many employees are there in your company?
I am the sole designer and creator here at FireFly. Unless you want to count the plastic horse head that models finished bonnets for customers.

3) Where did the idea for the business come from?
I’ve been crocheting since I was young, and I’ve always loved the look of fly bonnets on horses. However, it seemed like you could either have a cheaply made, $10 bonnet from the local tack shop, or you could spend half your paycheck on a bonnet from a custom maker. I decided to learn how to make bonnets so I could offer a show quality bonnet at a more reasonable price.

4) What is your background in horses and design?
I have been riding and working at barns since I was 15, but have never owned my own horse. I have a degree in Graphic Design, which definitely helps with the process of designing bonnets and helping customers visualize how the bonnet they envision will look in real life.

5) Any interesting notes about yourself, your business or your products that you would like for people to know?
FireFly bonnets are made by hand with a stitch that is different from that of other bonnet makers. The result is a more solid looking fabric that is very elegant. It does take slightly longer to produce a bonnet in this fashion, but I think the end result is worth it. Firefly also offers nearly unlimited customization options. Trim colors, beads, rhinestones, cording… All come in a rainbow of colors and can be completely customized to your liking. Want a bright yellow bonnet with purple trim, hot pink cord and orange rhinestones? Strange for sure, but no problem! If I can’t find the materials to create exactly what you have in mind, I will do my best to find something that is as close as possible.


I have to admit, I was particularly excited to do this edition of Small Business Spotlight because FireFly is a company that I really believe in and can stand behind 100% as a loyal customer. I really feel strongly that for custom bonnets, there is no one better than Nicole. Attention to detail is what separates The Best from The Rest, and her detail work is impeccable. They are without a doubt the best value custom bonnets on the market. Next time you find yourself fancying a new bonnet, or needing a fantastic gift for a friend, definitely consider FireFly.

bonnet5 FWbonnet2

Review: Kastel Denmark sunshirts

I should preface this by saying that I’m one of those riders who has always lived in tank tops during the summer. This is Texas, it’s HOT here. Less clothes seems like the obvious best solution. Or so I thought until I found Kastel.


I’ve been eyeballing all these different sunshirts since they first really hit the equine market. My interest was piqued but I was a solid skeptic. Sure I get how they protect you from the sun, and that’s fantastic, but how do they really keep you cool? In my mind there was just no way long sleeves could be as comfortable in 100 degree heat, but I was curious enough to investigate. I tried on/felt as many different brands as I could find… Riding Sport, Tailored Sportsman, EIS, Kerrits, RJ Classics, Ariat. I had a complaint with all of them – usually the fabric or the lack of SPF protection. Of those the TS was my favorite but it ran pretty short and I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that. And really – were these things worth the price anyway?

I had read a lot of positive things about Kastel’s fabric and it just so happened that the local tack shop (yet another shout out to The Tack Shop of Austin) carried them, so I went in to check them out. The plan was – if I liked it – to buy one. I came out of there with 3. THREE, not one. Oops. The fabric felt amazing, the fit was excellent, and the colors were great. At $75 they’re pretty averagely priced for a sunshirt, although I am a huge cheapskate on a perpetual tight budget and will admit that it hurt a little to drop that kind of money on shirts. But I liked them and I was curious, and as SO put it “your skin is worth it”…  all that was left was to determine if they really lived up to the hype.


The first few rides were a great test – one was in the evening around 7:30pm in 95 degrees with average humidity, another was in the early afternoon around 1:30pm in 99 degrees with low humidity, and the last was early in the morning around 8am in 80 degrees with very high humidity. I felt like that gave me a pretty darn good idea of how well they worked in a variety of conditions, and I have to say: I was sold on the first ride. They’re so comfortable, so light, but when you start sweating and any kind of air hits them (even the tiniest breeze), it feels divine. At first it was a little weird to have fabric covering my arms… when you get hot your first instinct is to expose more skin. I had to resist the urge and just let the fabric do it’s job.


Since then I’ve worn them several more times and I like them more and more. They wash really well – I just toss them in with my breeches and cycling clothes then hang them out on the line. In 15 minutes they are bone dry and look as good as new.

The thing to remember is that these shirts don’t stop you from sweating. It’s summer, you’re outside, you’re going to sweat buckets. What they DO do however is a) protect you from the sun b) help keep you cooler while you’re working and cool you down faster. Since I’ve been riding in these, when I get in my car after the barn I turn the AC off and ride home with the windows down – when it’s still 90+ degrees out! Pretty sure that’s never happened before. Any kind of air hitting that fabric feels like you’re wearing your own personal AC unit, so the actual AC feels COLD. I’ve had Icefil cycling stuff before, but this is seriously next level magic here. I will definitely be buying more of them.



– Sun Protection
– Cooling fabric
– Lots of fun colors
– Great fit


– at SPF 30 the level of sun protection is right on par with most of the other brands on the market, but a couple are as high as SPF 50 so it’s not the highest available.
– as with all things, I wish they were a little cheaper. I think the price is fair in comparison to other brands, but of course cheaper would be better.

The Micklem Experiment – Day 1

Last week I was wondering aloud on my blog about whether something like a Micklem or Perfect Sit bridle would make Henry (aka Fussypants) happier. Fellow blogger Forging Fiction was kind enough to let me borrow her Micklem to try it out.

I put it on Henry last night and my first thought was that it was kinda cool how it was all one piece. It’s easy to put on and lays well right away. I played with it for a while trying to get it adjusted correctly… I watched a couple different videos yesterday to get an idea of what it’s supposed to look like. It seemed to me after all of my playing that there was really only one particular setting that made it sit well on his face, so I went with that.

micklem1 micklem2

He was still pretty chompy when I put it on, but as soon as I fastened all the straps he stopped. I got on and started my regular warm-up, and he admittedly seemed a little confused. He didn’t chomp on it, but he kept trying to poke his nose up and out. Then he settled and we actually had several really lovely laps both directions. I started to get my hopes up about a magical cure for the fussiness.

micklemtrot1 micklemtrot2

After our walk break I started again and there he went with the chomping, as usual. Womp womp. It was gone during the warm-up but now it was back. I will say that he always gets more tense after we trot, anticipating the canter, so I’m betting that’s why it started. He internalizes everything. I made him trot for a while, then walk again, then trot again before we cantered.

No one was around so the best I could do for video was setting my camera on a standard. It’s far enough away to where you can’t really see the chomping, unfortunately.

HenryJulyMicklem from amanda chance on Vimeo.



– I think he was a little steadier in the contact?
– Down transitions were definitely better. He didn’t root against me. Guessing that’s probably because of the “flash” strap.
– He really never curled up behind the bit.


– Still chompy, still fussy.

I’m going to try it today with the eggbutt instead of the loose ring and see if that makes any difference. Micklem experts – should I make any changes to how it’s adjusted?

Why I’m scarred for life

This isn’t horse related, and I apologize, but I just have to get this out there so people can fully understand my level of emotional distress at the moment.

At 5am on the morning of July 4th I was awakened by something tickling my arm. At first I thought it was my hair so I moved my head around a little, but it didn’t go away. I finally managed to haul my other arm up and brush it off – and felt SOMETHING. Something solid, something large, something that went thunk when I brushed it off and it landed on the floor. This is the point where my eyes flew open and I leaped out of bed like my ass was on fire. I’m assuming I looked something like this:


The SO, true to his ever calm nature, said “What’s the matter?”. I said “THERE WAS SOMETHING CRAWLING ON ME OH MY GOD OH MY GOD I THINK IT WAS A ROACH.” He said “Well, it was probably a water bug. Which way did you fling it?”. Me – “At the wall.” Him – “Okay good” and rolls back over to go back to sleep. Me – “SERIOUSLY RIGHT NOW OH MY GOD OH MY GOD.” and I go running out of the room like a lunatic to take refuge on the opposite side of the house. A minute later I heard a thud, then SO came padding over to where I was hiding in the guest room and informed me that he had killed it, and I could come back to bed.

I blubbered something incoherent about burning the house down and never going back to that bed ever again, so he just sighed and walked away.

Then I had to pee, so I tiptoed slowly out of the guest bedroom to the bathroom, and was on my way back to the guest bedroom when ANOTHER ONE went running down the hallway. I screamed like a little girl, at which point still ever calm but now exasperated SO came padding back out. He spent some time trying to locate it but it had run behind the couch in the living room and disappeared. Again he tried to convince me to go back to bed but now I was borderline maniacal. I had nowhere to hide.


After again considering burning the house down, I instead did what any (borderline) sane person would do… I turned on every single light, climbed up in one of our counter-height table chairs, crossed my legs Indian style, and stared at the ground around me for the next 3 hours until the sun was fully up and I felt safe again.

Needless to say, the exterminator is coming today. I know I’m crazy but I can’t even walk around in there without being suspicious of every shadow or anything that moves. There’s something about a giant bug being ON ME, in MY BED that violates every code of bug/human coexistence.  I’ve been sleeping with the sheet tucked around me as if it’s an impenetrable barrier, and I flat out refuse to open any cabinets.

Dear sweet ever calm SO suggested that we just need to find where they’re getting in and seal it back up. But I said no- oh hell no. This is personal now. I’m sending out a message to the bug community: come in my house, you will die. Come in my bed and you will die, your family will die, and everyone you’ve ever known will die. This is Scarface style shit up in here, and I ain’t messin’ around.


Weekend recap: I need a nap

Why is it that long weekends always seem way more tiring? In my mind I’m always like “Yay, extra day off to relax and recharge!” but it never actually turns out that way.

On Thursday they let us out of work early so I ran to the barn to ride before it got too hot (hahahaha). I stopped at the tack shop first to buy a Kastel shirt and instead came out with three. Oops. Love them though, will definitely be doing a full review soon. Henry hacked well, although I kept it short because of the heat. When I got there at 1pm my car said it was 93 but when I got back in to leave at 3pm it said 100. Summer has officially arrived. Oh, and I tried to take a confo pic of Henry in the crossties but first he made this face…


which made me giggle but I said “No Henry, for real, stand still and look normal.” So he did this.


Then Thursday night was the first pre-season cyclocross practice of the year. I’m so excited! I will have to explain CX on here at some point, but basically picture something in between mountain biking and road cycling, with a whole lot of ridiculousness and some Twizzlers thrown in for good measure.


Friday night we headed to a block party, armed with the watermelon Jell-O shot recipe from Buzzfeed. Important to note – thank god we read the comments first because the recipe they listed was way off. We modified it and it actually turned out really good… I was picturing all kinds of terrible Pinterest fail results. They packed a serious punch though. Between the two halves we had enough to cover both the block party on Friday night and the birthday party on Saturday night.


Saturday and Sunday were both pretty tame, horse-wise. It was still super hot but I got to the barn early and managed to avoid the worst of the heat. I jumped him a little on Saturday and he went around ok… dragging me a bit, which is a little out of character for him. But the ring is a lot bigger than we’re used to and he’s still not totally settled in yet, so not a huge surprise. Kinda funny – they were having a Greg Best clinic at the barn next door, and the wind carried his voice so perfectly I might as well have been sitting IN the ring with them. I could hear every word. Woo, free audit! 😉


I also tried again to get a confo pic, but he just gave me this look. Whatever. I’m done trying.



Did anyone take advantage of the 4th of July sales? I scored a Tekna Pressure Eze girth from Victory Canter for $40! Pretty happy with that considering the cheapest I could find elsewhere was $72. Sir FattyArmpits has been getting rubbed a bit by his Pro Choice girth since it’s gotten so hot, so I’m hoping that this one’s shape will suit him better. It doesn’t seem to be bothering him at all but it’s bothering the heck out of me.

Hope everyone had a good long weekend. And happy Monogram Monday!



4th of July SALES and coupon codes

What better way to celebrate our country’s independence than with a few horse-related purchases? It seems like the emails have been streaming into my inbox and across my Instagram/facebook at a pretty awesome rate, so I figured I’d throw some of the best ones together for everyone in case y’all are interested.

One Horse Threads – 25% off select items


Higher Standards Leather Care – 15% off with promo code BOOM!


Margaret Vera Accessories – 30% off with coupon code july4


Saratoga Horseworks – 20% off with coupon code AmericanMade



GoVelope – 20% off of the Navy GoVelope with Promo Code: GoFourth


Lo-Ride Equestrian – 15% off plus free shipping with coupon code HAPPY4TH


Padded Ponies – 15% off with coupon code INDEPENDENCE


myID band – if you often ride alone and would like to always have your medical info on you in case of emergency, or you’re an eventer, these are great bracelets. 20% off with coupon code vivausa

A Bit Tacky Custom Decals – 30% off any order of $10 or more with coupon code FREEDOM30


Divoza – 25% off their summer collection, or 20% off ANY item with promo code VK14ZZ37

C4 Belts – this weekend get the Americana belt for 50% off with free shipping


Smartpak – 15% off with promo code July14


Bit of Britain – general sale, up to 60% off


Adams Horse Supply – $10 off $75 with coupon code Freedom10, $25 off $$150 with coupon code Freedom25, $75 off $500 with coupon code Freedom 75


FarmVet – 10% off with coupon code Freedom


Equestrian Collections – 60% off the Outlet, plus $5 off purchase of $75 with coupon code Parade5, or $15 off $200 with coupon code Parade15


Horze – 60% off select items


ISellTack – Earn $15 in store credit for every $100 you spend



Feel free to add more! Happy Independence Day, everyone. 🙂

New Barn: Day 1

First of all, the commute is fantastic. I left my house at 6:30 (still lots of rush hour traffic around here) and it took me a grand total of 19 minutes with nary a dime spent in tolls. Fantastic.

I got there and started unpacking all my stuff into my new locker. Then I rearranged it. Then I rearranged it again. Times like these are when it sucks to be so OCD about things. But I finally got it all in an arrangement I’m happy with, although I’m gonna go buy a big Rubbermaid drawer for the bottom and another smaller one for the top, so it will change yet again.



Then I got pony out to tack him up. I think he was really digging the giant industrial powered fan in the crosstie, considering it was still 93 degrees. Also interesting to note: he’s had a runny eye for about a month now that has not gone away despite all my efforts, and all of the sudden within 24 hours it’s gone. Coincidence?



I rode him in both rings and around all the fields. He was a little nervous and snorty about things, especially the big ring with all the jumps and standards. That’s pretty normal for him on a first ride at a new place though, he thinks everything is gonna eat him. He was really good for hacking out in the fields though.


After the ride I hosed him off then took him out to graze while the sun set. I’d call the first day a success. Pony seems happy, I’m happy… hopefully this is the beginning of a great new chapter.

graze1 graze2