Tis the season… for A/W collections

There aren’t many things I love more than looking through new collections of riding clothes and tack. Some of it I love, some of it I hate, but still… it’s really fun to look. I’ve been throwing things into a drafted post as I’ve come across them and now that we’re solidly into A/W I figured it was time to post. For the most part a lot of what I saw for A/W didn’t really grab me. It seemed like last year there was a little more color, whereas this year there are more prints. I’m not as into prints. Just can’t jump onboard the leopard print/camo/sailboat/crown/flower train…

that’s a lot of flowers
and crowns

Of course, Animo rarely disappoints me and this collection was no exception. The Lakita coat might be my favorite “sparkly” coat I’ve seen so far. I like the seam and crystals on the shoulder area.

and pockets.

The other interesting thing that stood out in Animo’s coat collection was the use of a textured fabric. I still haven’t decided if I like it or not, but it’s interesting none the less.

The only kinda cool thing I saw at Equiline was these breeches with some tone on tone blocking down the leg. I can’t decide if these would be subtly flattering or just kind of distracting. In my mind’s eye they work.

One Horse always has awesome new designs every season, this time with lots of sweatshirts.


GhoDho’s soon to be released Victoria breech in Rouge is enough to make me wish my chunky thighs could fit into this brand without being grotesque. That color is perfect. I want ADE to make a breech this color!


ADE did come out with a nice purple called Aubergine, though. Sadly I’m not really into purple unless it’s really dark, so my money is safe on this one.

They have a tone on tone snakeskin too, similar to the black tone on tone houndstooth (Probably my favorite breeches that I own… which I guess are technically a print. Which I guess makes my earlier statement hypocritical. Does tone on tone really count as a print?). Not into snakeskin in general, but if you’re going to do a print, these are a pretty classy way of doing it.

Asmar is one of my favorites, and they didn’t disappoint with their fall collection. They love an elbow patch just as much as I do, and have them on just about everything. Elbow patches are always the answer.

Aspen Jacket

I’ve had my eye out for this Horseware Marietta sweater ever since I saw it in the AW catalog early this year at AETA. Because if there’s anyone in the world who needs a big ol’ H-is-for-Henry sweater, it’s me.

Welsh Wear is a corgi-centric brand, which is all I really have to say, right? They just came out with sweaters that have a corgi embroidered on the chest. A corgi. In a bow tie. On the chest. Put that on my Christmas list.

I’ve already talked about Kastel’s merino 1/4 zips (review coming next week!) but they also released some new sunshirt colors, including that awesome forest green, a purple, and deeper shade of blue.

On the tack side of things, PS of Sweden released all of it’s “nose plates” for the Get Set bridle that they released in the summer. Now you can swap the noseband out between padded croc with flash, plain croc with no flash, fancy stitched, and a patent one with two colors of interchangeable padding. I do not need another bridle… I do not need another bridle…

Blog Hop: Top 5 Horse Show Essentials

As I was standing in my trailer the other day, caulk in hand, examining the roof for leaks, I glanced down at my trusty little manure bucket cart and thought “You might be the single best purchase I’ve ever made”. Yes, I’m in love with a poop bucket cart. But since I’m ADD I continued to stand there holding my caulk, thinking about all of those essential horse show items that I can’t live without, and wondered what other little gems everyone else might have. Thus why we now find ourselves with a blog hop. So – what are your 5 essential horse show items?


1) The muck bucket cart is obviously a huge essential for me. When I was in h/j land and traveled with a trainer there was always a communal wheelbarrow and muck fork. You don’t really appreciate that until you travel solo or in very small trainer-less groups. There’s no room in a 2h BP for a wheelbarrow, so for the first couple shows of the season I just had my muck bucket and fork. I decided to “splurge” and invest in the cart that I’d seen a few people pulling around and man, it’s a life changer. I can plop bales of hay on it and cart them around, too. No more carrying heavy muck buckets all the way to the manure pile, or carrying bales of hay from the truck, and much easier to fit in the truck or trailer than a wheelbarrow. The cart is worth every penny.

2) Granted, I seem extraordinarily incapable of turning the damn thing on correctly at least half the time, yet I still love my helmet cam. It looks kinda goofy strapped to the front of my helmet, for sure, but I love being able to “re-live” cross country whenever I want. My helmet cam videos are my absolute favorite so I really don’t care how stupid it looks.

3) This one was hard for me as a h/j convert because there are few things I love more in the world than a beautiful show trunk, but good ol’ Stanley with his wheels and retractable handle has proven himself indispensable. He’s the perfect size, he’s rugged, he’s light, he’s easy for one person to move around, and he has all the features I need. I no longer own any of my old beloved wooden trunks (that took two people and a lot of cussing to move). Stanley isn’t beautiful by any means, but he is practical beyond measure.

Stanley 37 in. Mobile Job Box

4) When Uncle Jimmy’s graciously offered to sponsor Team Always be a Unicorn for the Adult Team Championship, one of the things they sent us was a Licky Thing value pack. I’ve never offered any kind of hanging stall treat/toy to any of my horses, and when I put it up in Henry’s stall at AEC I really didn’t expect him to care much about it. I was wrong. He went to town on that thing and really seemed to love it. Now I hang one in his stall at every show (and at home when they’re stuck inside) to help alleviate the boredom, and he goes through about one Licky Thing insert per show. A $7 Licky Thing is a small price to pay for a weekend full of Henry entertainment.

5) You might say lucky socks aren’t an essential item, but I beg to differ. I’ve worn these socks on cross country day at every event this year and have yet to have any jumping penalties. Coincidence? I think not. How could you NOT feel motivated wearing these bad boys? They’re always the very first thing I put into my suitcase when I’m packing.


Hey there, Childeric

My latest trial saddle arrived last Tuesday night, just late enough for me to not be able to immediately run to the barn and sit in it. Those among us with serious lack of patience issues will understand how deflating this is, and just how long it makes the subsequent 7 hour sleep and 9 hour work day seem.


When I opened the box I wasn’t quite as optimistic about the saddle as I’d been from photos. She was stiff and squeaky and had dirt caked into all of her crevices (poor Childeric, that’s exactly how I feel at the end of a horse show weekend so I can empathize). The nail heads were covered in enough green varnish to where you could barely read the brand name. She looked like she had obviously been a little neglected. The leather also looked a bit slick, which has been my complaint with almost every dressage saddle I’ve sat in except the Devoucouxs and CWD, so I was a bit worried right off the bat. Beyond the superficial things though, it’s in good shape. The tree is solid, there are no tears or significant rubs, the stitching is all intact, and the panels and billets are good.

shiny and scratched and dirty and kinda green

I got to the barn on Wednesday and plopped the Childeric on Henry.  He did not immediately try to kick my knee caps off or pin his fuzzy little drama queen ears, so we were off to a good start. I slid it back until it settled behind his shoulder, stepped back and looked at the balance, made sure it wasn’t rocking or bridging, checked the evenness from the back and shoulder clearance from the front. It’s not 100% perfect like custom, but it’s pretty darn good. Certainly significantly better than my Makila was.


Since I was concerned about it feeling slick and no longer own any full seat breeches I sprayed it with a little bit of stick tight before I got on. I shouldn’t have done that. I spent the first 5 minutes trying to unstick myself enough to post properly. Lesson learned. Don’t spray the Childeric – she only looks slick.


As soon as I got on I was encouraged right off the bat. It fit well in the seat and I immediately felt comfortable in it. A lot of dressage saddles I’ve sat in have made it feel like my hips are being wrenched from their sockets, but not this one. How come the French seem to be the only ones capable of making saddles that don’t hurt me (well, not physically at least, the financial pain is another story)? My only minor criticism was that i could feel the buckles on the stirrup leathers a bit under my thigh (but this gave me the perfect excuse to buy Trainer’s old leather webber style leathers off of her and sell the stupid TSF leathers that I hate). We picked up the trot and immediately Henry felt like he was moving pretty well through his shoulder – his other telltale sign of whether he likes a saddle or not. Trotting like a foundered shetland pony = bad. Trotting like a normal “6.5 mover” Henry = good.

1/4 of a container of conditioner and an hours worth of elbow grease later, she was much prettier

The real test for me with dressage saddles has been the canter. It either really works or it really doesn’t. We picked up the canter (a decent trot-canter transition for once, I might add) and I immediately knew it would work for me. My leg hung well, I didn’t have to fight the saddle to sit correctly, and I felt like the balance was very good. It wasn’t as sunshine-and-rainbows as my trainer’s Devoucoux Loreak, but it’s also not anywhere near the same price range. No dramatics from Henry either, just a normal canter. When I asked him to collect a little more he easily did it without complaint. I think we have a winner all around, ladies and gentleman.


While I’m not over the moon thrilled about the price, it was still a fair deal and one of the cheapest of this model that I’ve been able to find. I’ve already scrubbed her clean (it took a toothbrush and two differently shaped sponges) and conditioned her a few thousand times and she feels and looks tremendously better. She was so thirsty I used 1/4 of a container of conditioner… I kept globbing it on and she kept soaking it up. I think my winter project will be a re-dye so that the seat looks less faded and green. Dying the saddle black, painting the trailer white…

Weekend recap: so much duct tape 

Oh, Henry.

The farrier came out on Wednesday to re-shoe Henry. Coincidentally, Wednesday was also Day 1 of my 5 day trial period on the Childeric dressage saddle. It then makes sense, of course, that when I showed up after work on Wednesday, mere hours after the farrier had left, Henry had already removed a front shoe. How he does these things, I don’t even know, but it’s a real talent.

My tools of the trade for the past few days. Sadly the pop-tarts themselves were not involved, only the box.

I was able to do a short w/t/c ride on Wednesday, since he hadn’t had time to make himself sore on that foot yet. Then it rained (yes, again) and the turnouts were too muddy for them to go out anyway, so it kind of worked out for the sake of his foot. By Saturday Henry was sore on that foot despite being inside, but he was also looking stocked up and stir-crazy, so I wrapped it, threw an Easy Boot on, and did a very short walk down the road. Even just walking on a smooth surface he managed to pull the Easy Boot off twice, so I gave up on riding at that point. At least the stocking up went away, even if the half-crazed look remained.

The farrier is supposed to be out today to replace the shoe. If it’s not on when I go out after work then this might be my last blog post, because I’ll be in prison for strangling the farrier with princess, tie-dye, flying pig, bacon and egg, or mac & cheese duct tape. Maybe all of them.

luckily I have a lot of fun duct tape to choose from

The rest of the weekend was decidedly non-horsey. On Saturday night we met my dad for Indian food to celebrate the SO’s new promotion/raise. Then we went back to my dad’s house and went through some stuff he’s uncovered as he’s been going through my mom’s stuff, including one of my old Girl Scout uniforms. New mission: figure out what all of these patches were for! The only one I remember is the second one from the left on the bottom row. Guess why? That badge marks the beginning of my entire riding career, believe it or not. Who new what an innocent trail ride with my Girl Scout troop would end up leading to.

On Sunday SO and I went for brunch for the first time in forever, to a place we hadn’t tried before. They had a “Build your own Mimosa” thing where you got a bottle of champagne and then your choice of 3 juices. It was just as delicious as you would imagine.

blueberry lemonade, watermelon honey, strawberry basil

Oh and I had creme brulee french toast that looked like a piece of cake as big as my head. So much win.
Things are starting to dry out, so hopefully if Henry gets his shoe put back on today we can at least get a few rides in before the Hawley Bennett clinic this weekend. It’d be nice to not show up with a wild mustang…

Small Business Spotlight: Art by Candice

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Small Business Spotlight post, but since I’ve been on a bit of a “holiday gift ideas” roll this week, now seems like a great time to post about Art by Candice. Some of you have probably seen this picture here on the blog, on my Instagram, or on my facebook page.


That painting should look familiar to you for other reasons as well, because it’s from one of my favorite photos ever – me and the Belgian Warmblood stallion Valentino Z. My friend Michelle had the painting made for me by Candice Smith as a Christmas present last year, and I absolutely adore it.


Candice Smith is the artist behind “Art by Candice” and is based out of Midland, TX. She offers a few different types of work and can create something to suit any style, from Realistic

to her very popular Posterized

to the more “funky” Geometric.

She also isn’t limited to just horses; Candice does dogs and people as well.

The best part? Prices start at a very reasonable $55. Options, pricing details, more examples, and an explanation of her 3 different styles of work can be found on her website. Art by Candice also has a facebook page with lots of photos of her work, and an Etsy page with original pieces and prints. She was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about herself and her business, so we can get to know more about the woman behind the art.

How did you get into art and painting?

Well I started out like most artists, just drawing, and I moved up through all the mediums til I found the one I like. I stopped at acrylic and it’s pretty much all I use, I will occasionally use oil but it’s rare. Acrylic is my go to method. I have always been an artist and not until about 4 years ago did I start commissioning work. I have also painted a couple murals in orphanages in Kenya. I paint pretty much anything but I’m primarily an equestrian artist.

What is your background in horses?

Like painting I have always had horses and shown. My dad trained race horses and bred quarter horses and paints, so I grew up with them. He got out of the horse business when I was about 14 but I never did. I rode western til college then went to English and have been showing in that ever since. I have a sweet spot for ottbs and that’s been my last couple of horses. I have a 4 year old that is just coming up on a year off the track. We are trying to take a whack at eventing. I think he has huge potential for it.

What is your favorite type of piece to create?

I completely prefer horses, and the bigger the canvas the better. I also like pieces of the horse instead of the whole body. Like extreme close up of a horse going over a jump or body parts. Those are my fav.

120 x 35 acrylic

Tell us more about yourself and your future plans

I’m a working single mom trying to juggle my horses, my sweet boy and art. I am the Art Director at an art studio in Midland where we have an art school for kids and painting classes for adults. My plans for my art is keep painting. I plan to do a big exhibition in Dallas in November 2016. I hope for just more and more people see my work.

If you’re interested in having a piece commissioned by Art by Candice for Christmas, the cutoff date for orders is November 15th! I can speak from personal experience that her paintings make great presents.

I don’t know where to start

It occurs to me that I haven’t done any review posts in quite a while. This is because review posts are work, and I am lazy. But since we’re ankle deep in mud and it’s raining again as we speak, I figured maybe now is the time, especially since we’re going into the gift-giving and list-making season. However, while I know that I promised review posts to a lot of people on a lot of things, I don’t remember what or to whom. So here’s a list of all the stuff I can think of that I have that might be of interest. If there are things on here that you want reviews of, let me know and I’ll bump them to the top of the list. And let’s be honest, I’ll probably never get to the rest of it… so speak now or forever hold your peace.

Samshield, Kastel merino sweater, Noble Outfitters vest

Noble Outfitters Ringside Backpack

Equiline Alice show coat

La Valencio breeches

Devon-AIre Signature breeches

PS of Sweden 3 point breastplate

Book: Modern Gymnastics by Jimmy Wofford

Book: World Class Grooming

Harcour crystal gloves

Jeffers tendon boots

Dressage Sport Boots

PRI Eventer pad

Airowear Outlyne body protector

Dublin River boots

Lister Star clippers

Total Saddle Fit calfskin leathers

Kastel merino wool 1/4 zip sweater

Lorenzini/Schockemohle Titanio stirrups

And anything else that I’m forgetting, of which I’m sure there’s a lot. Once I get to play with my Samshield more I was thinking of doing a GPA Speed Air vs Samshield comparison – any interest in that as well?

Off season becomes clinic season

I’ve got a bad case of the want-to’s. I pretty much always have a bad case of the want-to’s, but now that my show season is over my schedule just seems so… open. After a year like this one, where it’s felt like I’ve been gone more often than I’ve been home, it’s strange and oddly deflating to have nothing to do. I feel a little aimless, especially with the rain wreaking havoc on my ability to actually ride my horse on a regular basis. It was nice to have a break for a couple weeks, but then I got that old familiar itch. I’m not the only one that gets the itch, right?

I keep seeing things pop up here and there for a jumper show, a dressage show, a combined test, a schooling HT, a clinic, open schooling days, etc. Every single thing that pops up elicits a “Ooooh I wanna do that!” response from me. Doesn’t really matter what it is, I just want to do it.  Henry is probably really glad I don’t have a truck yet or who knows where he’d be right now.


I pretty much resisted everything (or just plain couldn’t make it work) until the Hawley Bennett clinic popped up. I’m already signed up for a Buck Davidson clinic in December, which I’m super ridiculously excited about. I usually don’t do clinics though… hard to justify the money when you’re perpetually on a tight budget.


However, I think that some of my “show” budget should really be allocated towards the “education” budget if I have any semi-realistic notions of moving up in the near future, so I’m gonna skip the little schooling shows I had planned for the next two months and opt for this instead. And in my defense, the Hawley clinic is super reasonably priced – too reasonable to pass up, really.


And with that, it appears that the off season has now become clinic season. Somebody bring Jimmy Wofford somewhere close-by and let’s make it a trifecta.

Hamer & Clay’s annual custom ornament sale (and coupon code)

Some of you might remember the Hamer & Clay ornaments I bought as Christmas presents last year. Beka got one as part of her blogger Secret Santa, which pretty much sealed the deal on her being my internet wife.

They were a HUGE hit, really cute, and super affordable. They are my new go-to favorite present for barn friends (so um… all my barn friends… forget what you just read and act surprised when you get an ornament) and my friends with dogs. Because who doesn’t love having their favorite furry friend turned into an awesome keepsake? This year I’m buying one for myself too, because somehow last year in my ornament frenzy I forgot to do that.



Kelsey, the owner of Hamer & Clay, can do just about anything you can dream up. Any colors, any kind of special features, markings, tack, glitter, rhinestones, horses, dogs, even fish… you name it, she can do it. And they’re all STUNNING. All I did was send her photos, specify details, colors, etc, and she absolutely nailed every single one.


I’m very excited to hear from Kelsey that Hamer & Clay is officially open for the season. Not only is she open, she’s offering my readers 15% off orders over $25 with coupon code alwaysbeaunicorn when you order through her Etsy shop. Interested in ordering? Here’s what you need to know:


Equines with riders: $22.00 ea
any pose any discipline, one horse, one rider

Equines with wreaths: $22.00 ea
any pose, any style of wreath, or stall door.

Equines with bows: $20.00 ea.
one horse, one bow, or simple adornment.

Other Quadrupeds
Cattle, swine, deer, moose etc.
Quadrupeds with wreaths: $20.00 ea
Quadrupeds with bows: $18.00 ea

Household Pets
Pets in a wreath: $18.00 ea
Pets with a bow or simple adornment: $16.00 ea
Pets au naturel $15.00 ea

Everything Else:
Above is the standard list of items offered. The shop is run on a fully
custom basis, and I would be happy to work with you on anything else
you don’t see listed above.


Hamer & Clay is a small home based business with one sculptor. Ornaments are made one at a time for the consignor per their specifications

All orders placed and paid for before December 10, 2015 are guaranteed to arrive before Christmas.

Orders are a first come first serve basis. New orders may be waitlisted depending on order volume.

All orders can be monitored via a link provided with your invoice number.

Hamer & Clay prides itself on customer satisfaction, and will do everything within it’s abilities to ensure you get exactly what you envisioned. (or as close to our abilities as possible)

Standard shipping rates apply to all orders:
-All ornaments are shipped via Canada Post/USPS unless otherwise specified. Ornaments are wrapped in tissue, gift boxes and bubble wrap, they are packed securely and carefully.
-All ornaments damaged during shipping are eligible for a full refund or resculpt or both. ** Photos must be provided for insurance purposes
-Ornaments can be shipped as gifts directly to their intended recipients, wrapped free of charge. Discounts will still apply.

Shipping rates:
Canadian Customers: add $15.00 flat rate shipping for all shipments within Canada
USA Customers: $13.50 ground (4-10 days) with tracking. PM for express rates.


So go forth, readers, support a great small business, and buy all the ornaments! Don’t forget to follow Hamer & Clay on facebook to see all of her ornaments and get business updates.

Weekend recap: this is just getting ridiculous 

I’m sure some of you heard about the crazy flooding in Austin. Yes again. Yes we just did this in May, too. The rain on Friday was absolutely insane… almost 8 hours of straight solid downpour. Austin looked like this:  Rainfall totals looked like this, which… keep in mind, we got a good 8-10″ last weekend too: Luckily the barn was on the lower end of the rainfall spectrum at around 8-9″, but still. EIGHT to NINE inches, on top of what we already had last week. We’re at almost 2′ of rain in the last month. 2015 is within a half inch of being the wettest year ever on record, and that’s with two rainy months left to go.  I should have bought a boat instead of a trailer.

Very little riding has happened since Greenwood. Very little riding might be happening all winter. We officially live in a swamp.

at least someone is enjoying his little vacation

In less depressing news, my Lorenzini’s arrived and I was able to squeeze in a quick ride on Thursday night. These things are super gorgeous, there’s no doubt about that. Those Italians, man… they’re artists.

Maybe some day I’ll get to ride in them enough to form an opinion as to their performance.

The only actual fun part of the weekend was Halloween. As the unofficial weirdest couple amongst our friends, the SO and I are the natural choice to host a Halloween party every year. It’s really just a bunch of adults sitting in our driveway, eating and drinking, whilst wearing costumes and handing out candy to kids.

I usually do some kind of theme costume with my dog, and since Quinn is with us now I decided to rope all three dogs into my ensemble.  Poor dogs. Quinn was a good sport about the helmet though.

The Childeric arrives tomorrow… hopefully it dries out enough to where I can actually ride in it before the five day trial period is up!