Year in review isn’t quite accurate since I just started blogging in mid-May, so I guess more like a half year review. I didn’t start this blog with the intention of being a big time blogger or with a focus on pulling in big numbers or lots of readers. I still don’t have any desire to go “big time” but it’s interesting to see how the numbers break down. To be quite honest, it boggles my mind. It’s a good reminder of just how many people some random little slice of the internet can reach, and how many eyes really do see what we have to say. And of course if nothing else, it tells me a lot about you guys – who you are, what you like, and what you want to read about. So here goes:
The PS of Sweden bridle post got just over 2,300 views and continues to get more daily. Otherwise y’all really like reviews and sales, with a little bit of me and Henry thrown in. Duly noted and I concur.
It was pretty close between all the Small Business Spotlights, but One Horse prevailed.
71 countries?!?!? I want to know who all of you are!
Mostly due to PS of Sweden sharing my bridle review post on their facebook page. Begin influx of Swedes.
Never underestimate the power of the Google search. Or a facebook share. Or the omnipotent SprinklerBandit.
Bridles, bonnets, belts, and breeches. The four B’s.
To be honest I’m kind of amazed I actually stuck with the blogging thing. A lot of the credit goes to y’all… I have no idea why some of you come here on regular basis to read my verbal diarrhea, but thanks for the support. It’s nice to have a place to vent, chronicle my adventures with Henry, explore new brands/products, and bounce ideas off a wide group of people. Some of which have even turned into good friends… who’d have thought? Here’s to an equally fun 2015!
This situation happened before I started blogging, but I thought it was a story worth retelling to the world.
Last winter when I was riding Henry in a mechanical hackamore, I had a bit of a bridle dilemma. None of my bridles went short enough in the cheekpieces to allow the hackamore to sit in the correct spot, and to be honest, after showing in my pretty contoured Mark Todd bridle for years, I was bored with a regular bridle. Unfortunately the Mark Todd is a monocrown, so it wouldn’t work with a hackamore. Off I went scouring the internet looking for a pretty bridle that I could buy with cob or pony size cheekpieces (sadly, I had not yet discovered PS of Sweden or their hackamore bridle would have solved all my problems).
I gave it a valiant effort but I had no luck. I finally did stumble across a thread on a horse forum about a custom maker from India (I know I know) named Royal Sports who would make items from Sedgwick leather for a price upgrade. Several people had ordered from there and their items looked decent. I thought maybe that could work, so I contacted Sudhir, the owner of Royal Sports. He assured me that yes he could easily make just a headstall for me, with the contoured browband and cob cheekpieces, in Sedgwick leather with stainless steel hardware for $60. I thought “awesome, this is the cheap way out!”. Great, right? I placed my order on 2/12.
It finally shipped on 4/5. Both of my emails asking for status updates were ignored until I started getting pushy – then voila tracking number.
On the plus side, it arrived in just a few days. Otherwise, it was a sad sad sack of crap. I know what Sedgwick leather looks/feels like and that was NOT it. It looked like cardboard with the color painted on and it had already started to flake off the edges. Not to mention the padding was ORANGE. Didn’t match the leather color at all, which is what I’d asked for. Also the entire thing was cob sized, not just the cheeks. The throatlatch was so short I couldn’t buckle it, and the ear cut-outs didn’t actually line up with his ears. Details.
I sent him an email on 4/9 saying the following:
I received the bridle. I wanted to let you know about a couple of quality issues.
First, the leather is not Sedgwick. As soon as I removed the bridle from the bag and assembled it, the top coat of the leather started flaking off on the straps. I have other bridles that are Sedgwick leather and when compared to each other you can see a very clear difference in leather quality.
Second, the sizing seemed a bit off. I ordered cob cheekpieces, and those seem correct, but the rest of the bridle was supposed to be horse sized and it seems very small. The browband is tight and the throatlatch is so short I can’t buckle it. This horse wears a horse size bridle in every other brand I’ve had, so I am guessing that the whole bridle was made cob size.
I have attached a couple photos of the flaking so you can see the leather. On the positive side it was packed well and arrived quickly with no issues, and the stitching is well done.
It took until 4/17 before I heard back from him. This was the response:
We just checked with our production team and found that new edge chemical was introduced as trial and applied on your product. It seems that this new edge covering chemical has reacted with leather in bad way and created a problem.
Rest assure the leather is Sedgwick and no issue with leather quality or making of product.
Now they are two ways to resolve this problem.
First option, we can send you the chemical that was approved and we were regularly using it since long time. You can apply the new coat of paint on it, but before applying the new paint you have to manually pile of the layer of old paint with the help of very thin rubbing paper (we will send ) only on edges and then apply new chemical with help of brush.
Second option, we request you to sell that bridle in half of the cost to anyone know to you (if possible) and we will send new products in half of the cost.
Please confirm if any the option can be worked out to resolve the issue.
Best of Regards,
Stay with me now, here’s where I got pissed and it got fun.
Thank you for response. I am glad that you have discovered the source of your quality issue with the edging.
I appreciate your attempt to resolve the situation but unfortunately I am displeased with the two options offered to me. The idea of having to pay you again for a product that I have already paid for and did not receive is extremely unfair business practice and unacceptable. The bridle I received is useless and I cannot sell it, nor should I have to. Besides the flaking of the edging I also had issues with the very strange fit (I cannot even put it on my horse, and I have never had a problem with bridles fitting him before) and the very unattractive orange padding color. If the certain chemical used for the edging was a trial for your manufacturing process, it should not have been applied to customer products before it had been fully tested by you. The issue was fully evident to me immediately upon receipt of the bridle, so had it been checked before it left your shop, it should have been immediately evident to you as well. So either it was not checked, which is negligence on your part, or it was checked and sent anyway in the hope that I would not notice, which is even worse. This error is yours, not mine. I should not have to attempt to fix the product that I paid for but was delivered to me in unusable condition, nor should I have to pay you any additional money to get the product that I should have gotten in the first place.
If you would like to have the original bridle back so you can attempt to sell it yourself, I will gladly send it back to you via COD and you can pay the shipping cost. I will not pay my own money to have it shipped back to you and the burden of having to sell it should not be on my shoulders. Nor will I pay you any additional money when I have already paid you for the product and did not receive what I paid for. In my opinion that is unacceptable.
I heard nothing back (shocking!) so on 4/22 I sent this email:
I still have not heard back from you after my last reply. Please let me know what you would like to do, otherwise I plan on protesting the charges to my credit card.
On 5/18… yes… now it’s MAY… I finally got this response (I give up trying to fix the font so whatever):
Please note that we have resolved your problem of side edging coming out by giving the new product free of cost through DHL and we see the same has been deliver at your address.
Please confirm the receipt of the same and we look ahead for your next order soon.
Best of Regards,
Yes they sent me a new one. It only took 3 months, lots of foot stomping, and some threats to get a useable bridle. Sadly, it’s only slightly better and “useable” is probably the best compliment I can give it. The padding is still orange, the leather is still crappy although not quite as bad, and the sizing is still off. At least this time the throatlatch fit (albeit baaaarely). But at this point I figured I had learned my lesson quite well enough and I should leave it at that. Now it serves as my “junker” bridle for my sidepull. As long as you don’t really look at it and don’t mind the top layer flaking off everywhere it’s tolerable.
What’s the moral of the story?
This is why you buy nice things even when they cost more money. If you want to be frugal, buy it used or on sale. But never ever be cheap. Life is too short for crappy bridles and headaches.
It wasn’t a planned blogger weekend, but it turned out that way.
Friday after riding and swimming (ow, arms) I met up with Karen of Bay with Chrome and another long time horsey friend for happy hour. They’re always fun chicks, and I had this beautiful pink drink that unfortunately tasted like how Windex smells. At least the company was good.
Saturday was rainy and gross so I skipped the barn and instead tried going clothes shopping. After 2 stores and 2 hours, trying to find black leggings for a downtown outing that evening, I realized that the only ones I sort of liked really just looked like a cheap version of my Aztec Diamond houndstooth breeches. So instead I wore the breeches, which looked a thousand times better anyway. I got several “I love your pants!” comments. Breeches as evening wear? YES!
Sunday was also rainy and gross, and really cold, but I dragged myself out to the barn anyway and hopped on my pony bareback for a hack around the property. Brandy from Auf der Autobahn met me there, and it just so happened that Jen of Wyvern Oaks was out there with Paddy, so we had an impromptu blogger hack!
Then Brandy and I turned “da boys” out together and let them play. They’re such bros, with basically the same personality.
Today the farrier is coming, and later this week we’re supposed to get some pretty crappy weather. Goody. I guess I should start getting serious about riding again, since we’re now less than 2 weeks away from Derby time. Meh… being prepared is overrated.
First of all – my SS loot arrived this morning! At 6:58am… which I know because the mailman rang the doorbell. This time I’ll forgive him because a pretty little box was waiting for me from Beka at The Owls Approve. She definitely wins for artistic box decorating skills.
And it contained some awesome loot! Treats for the dogs, treats for me, and SOCKS! I love socks. And these are my favorite brand – Sock it to Me. Thanks Beka, you did great! I love everything.
I already gave Stewie his treat. Sadly, it is no longer with us because he devoured it in 30 seconds. RIP pretty Savannah dog treat. Delia isn’t out of bed yet so she doesn’t know what she’s missing.
I also might have had some of the pecan praline and am now riding a very impressive sugar high for not even 8am. Thanks again, Beka!
On to the Christmas summary… this year we had our family Christmases before actual Christmas, so SO and I decided to make this a “Just the two of us” X-mas extravaganza. First we rolled out of bed at a lazy 7:30 (late for me), I popped a hash brown casserole in the oven, and we opened presents. I think, as usual, the dogs made out like bandits.
Then we loaded up the car and headed down to the local mountain bike trails. The weather was absolutely perfect for it, and I didn’t die (a couple near-misses don’t count), so that’s a bonus. My legs still felt a little tired from all the spin classes though.
Then it was home to shower and change before heading to the barn. SO very rarely sees Henry so he was quite entertained with taking pictures of Henry’s funny faces while I picked his feet.
Then he got a big warm carrot bran mash and I tried on his new blankets. Perfect fit! Hopefully those stupid rubs will start going away now. Anyone want a lycra shoulder guard that doesn’t seem to do jack?
The dogs got to come to the barn and play too, wearing their new outside coats.
Then we walked over to the other barn to say hi to the basically famous Autobahn and give him some treats since his mom is out of town. Any guesses as to why he and Henry are great buds?
After a quick pit stop at home to drop off the dogs it was off to – what else – a Chinese restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner. The food was nothing to write home about, but it was definitely an experience.
And then we stopped at the gross local neighborhood bar for a beer (him) and cider (me). This was a great reminder of why we never go to said gross local neighborhood bar, but there weren’t many options on Christmas.
And then finally, we headed home to veg on the couch and watch the Doctor Who Christmas special. All in all – a pretty awesome day.
I hope everyone else had a great Christmas too. It’s back to reality for me today – starting with a trip to go get my passport. Joy.
Wednesday words of wisdom: 3 spin classes and 3 rides in 4 days make for a tired body.
I’m not saying PS of Sweden has a few awesome sales going on, buuuuut I’m just gonna drop this here… http://www.psofsweden.com/en/offers/. I know a few of you were talking about buying one, so get yourself a nice Christmas present. I mean really, look it in the eyes and tell it you don’t love it.
Also, this is your last reminder to get those entries in for the logo contest! You have until December 31. In addition to the awesome prize pack offered to the winner, I’m offering a gift certificate for a custom Firefly bonnet to the runner-up (an $80 value) and an Ogilvy baby pad (a $40 value) to the second runner-up. Don’t forget to title your submissions CONTEST ENTRY and email them to charliebrowntb (at) hotmail (dot) com. Note that if you have several files, it’s probably best to only send 2-3 at a time so hotmail doesn’t reject them.
Everyone enjoy your holiday! From the $900 Facebook Pony – Happy Holidays!!!
Henry is wild so very rarely that it’s nothing but hilarious to me when he gets to feeling frisky. Mostly because his frisky is a lot of head twisting, and maybe the tiniest most pathetic crow hop you’ve ever seen. But he’s trying really hard and he’s REALLY impressed with his naughtiness, which only makes it even more hilarious.
My standard “I think he might be wild” approach to a ride is to put my sidepull hackamore on him and let him canter around the field. He gets to hop and play and toss his head for a few minutes and think he’s fantastic, and I get to just sit there and giggle and let him get it out of his system. Alas the field was still a bit wet so I headed into the ring instead.
We trotted around a bit, with Henry at what is his Mach 10 (so a normal horse being forward) and wanting to canter canter canter! Trainer asked if I wanted to join in the lesson and first I said no but then I figured what the hell, this should be entertaining if nothing else. There was a gymnastic set up – two crossrails that were a canter in one stride, and then 3 options for jumps afterward. A bending two strides left to a vertical, a bending two strides right to a vertical, or just go straight and jump out over a vertical in 4 strides.
After a bit of warm-up the first course went like this:
It was actually a really good exercise to do with his hackamore on. The first couple times through he wanted to drag me and mini crow hop through the corners, and of course I had pretty much no control over that. But his lack of focus resulted in him burying himself, which in turn ended up being a good self correction. After that he came back pretty well from my seat and decided that plowing through and yeehawing around the corners was perhaps not a great idea (commence Henry pouting because once again I took all the fun out of everything).
The second course got a lot more complicated/tight/twisty, but again – great to do with the hackamore. Precision was key, so I was forced to use mostly leg and seat to steer instead of relying more on my reins.
He was being good by this point, he figured out that everything came up really quickly so he settled and listened and looked for the jumps. Nothing earth shattering happened, but I love a good gymnastics lesson with low jumps that really drill on basic concepts. I really had to sit up and ride accurately, and he really had to pay attention.
Today the vet comes for his coggins and shots, but hopefully I can squeeze in a quick jump school first.
The serious part came on Saturday morning, but let’s start with something a little more exciting.
As I mentioned last week, Henry’s new PS of Sweden Flying Change bridle came on Thursday (it shipped on Monday from Sweden -beat that) so I spent Friday night getting to know it a little better and conditioning it. I also used that as an opportunity to try out my new Higher Standards leather balm, one of my awesome Xmas gifts from my barn buddy Brandy (aka Auf der Autobahn). It worked pretty well, I just rubbed in one liberal coat with my hands and it softened right up. God I love this bridle. It’s freakin gorgeous, and that’s saying something because I generally hate black tack. And as has proven typical – really impressed with the design/functionality from the PS of Sweden guys. We’ll explore that more in a later post, but here’s another gorgeous picture of it.
On Saturday morning Brandy and I met up at Gold’s Gym for a spin class. We’ve been talking about getting a membership and hitting the gym together but we wanted to check it out first. I used to do spin all the time when I did triathlon, and honestly I LOVE it. You could not pay me enough to do any other type of group class, especially Zumba, but spin = awesome. Toward the end of the last set of high resistance jumps I was pretty sure my heart was going to explode out of my ear. Sounds awesome right? They were running a special for membership, so after class we joined the gym. Now we’re committed! When they were taking our information they asked who to notify in case we dropped dead, and we informed them that we always wear bracelets with our medical information because we ride horses. They seemed a little perplexed by that for some reason. Then Brandy and I texted back and forth all afternoon about which body parts hurt the most (basically my entire skeleton and all of my muscles, so no big deal)… this is the beginning of something great. Horribly painful, but great. It’s far past time to get serious about getting back into better shape – all this dressage nonsense is going to kill me otherwise. Plus I really owe it to my pony to not flop around like a big fat sack of potatoes, my riding is questionable enough as it is. We’re spinning again tonight and tomorrow.
Then it was a quick trip to the barn to graze the boys (still a little too muddy to ride), who are ridiculous
then more Xmas shopping and present wrapping, with a helper.
Saturday night we did Christmas with my family, since my brother was in town with his wife and son. We ate, we opened presents, we took pictures, and then we headed off downtown for an x-mas themed Master Pancake comedy show. Everything they do is hilariously inappropriate, and that show was no exception.
Sunday I crawled out of bed with fairly tolerable aches and pains. I hauled my butt out to the barn in the afternoon, hopped into an unplanned lesson, and rode my pony for the first time since Tuesday. The light week was partly intentional and partly because of the weather, and then I realized it’s only 3 weeks until our next show. Oops, better get ourselves together. We’ll talk about the lesson tomorrow.
One and half more days of work and then I’m off til the 29th! Can’t wait, I need a break.
Just a little update/announcement about the logo contest. Thanks to everyone who has submitted something so far… I’ve gotten almost forty logos already! Really excited about the level of participation and the quality of the submissions I’ve gotten so far. Making a final decision is going to be really tough. Because of that I’ve decided to add a second and third place prize both to sweeten the pot and to extend as many thanks as possible. I wish I could give something to everyone!
The runner up will be getting a gift certificate for a custom Firefly bonnet.
The second runner up will be getting an Ogilvy baby pad from Luxe EQ.
If you haven’t gotten those logos in yet – you’ve got until December 31st!
1. What size horse do you prefer to ride? Whatever takes up my leg nicely. I prefer something that isn’t too slab sided but isn’t super wide either… height-wise I don’t really care. I’ve owned everything from a medium pony to 17.2h, but my favorite height in general is 15.3 to 16.2 – IME that’s the best height for max athleticism but less soundness issues.
2. Do you school in tall boots or half chaps and paddock boots? Tall boots.
3. What do you do with your ribbons after shows? usually I chunk them in my car or the closet or a tack trunk and they’re not seen again for many months. Eventually they meet the trash can. Henry’s latest one is actually hanging on his stall though (collecting dust).
4. Do you ride/board at a large show barn or a small private barn? It’s a pretty decent sized barn, with 3 different trainers – two h/j and one eventing.
5. Have you ever seen a horse give birth? Many. Side effect of working at a breeding farm. 😉 You haven’t lived until you’ve been elbows deep in horse placenta.
6. What is your favorite breed? TBs and warmbloods – mostly the Holsteiner lines, more specifically the C lines (both, but anything Cassini in particular – which should be no surprise since he’s one C line crossed with the other).
7. Favorite tack brand? PS of Sweden and CWD
8. Would you ever buy used tack? I love buying used, you get great deals that way. I would be hard pressed to ever buy a new saddle unless I needed something super custom.
9. Ever been on a carriage ride? Once or twice.
10. How often do you go to the tack store? Probably a couple times a month, usually just for things like treats and salt blocks, plus mobiles at shows. I can’t resist a mobile.