aka the best day of the year to buy a new helmet! Tomorrow is International Helmet Awareness Day, and tons of brands and retailers (ahem Riding Warehouse – with coupon code HAD20 on 9/17 only) are offering great discounts on a new helmet.
Even if your helmet appears to be in good shape, don’t forget that the protective materials break down after 4-5 years (check the tag inside for the manufacture date) and are no longer as effective at taking an impact. It’s also recommended that helmets be replaced after a fall, as a helmet can appear to be undamaged on the outside while actually sustaining significant damage to the internal protective layers.
The list of participating brands:
Those of you who have been looking for Kask – Luxe EQ has them (and Samshield) and is a participating retailer! Use code 4helmets to apply the discount, and get free shipping too with code 4ship.
As you all know, the pinnacle planned event of the summer was Coconino Horse Trials in Flagstaff, AZ.
In preparation for Coconino we had to have the horses extra fit for the altitude, which meant an amped up conditioning schedule. Of course, it seems like when you really need to ride in Texas, it rains and rains and rains so that everything is flooded. I still had to keep Halo fit so I started trotting on the side of the road – the same road we’ve trotted on the side of for years. Apparently all the rain washed away the topsoil, and guess who stepped on a very very old Coke bottle and punctured his frog by about ½ an inch? Yes, my poor sweet Halo. I lept off of him and had to pull the glass out. We were still a ways from home and if he’d walked on it, it would have shoved in deeper. You know how paper cuts never stop bleeding? You get the picture. Blood bath. I immediately took him to the vet, where they flushed it, found no major damage, and said it just had to grow out.
For weeks I couldn’t ride Halo on anything except asphalt, otherwise he’d limp. This is a little concerning when you’re leaving in a month to haul halfway across the country to horse show. So I did what I could to keep him fit and went all Ireland-style, with lots of road trotting and long forward walks (a forward working walk in a frame works the same muscles the horse uses when galloping!). If I never trot on the road again, it will be too soon. It worked though, Halo was the most fit he’s ever been. The weekend before we were set to leave I went and XC schooled with Trainer to get the green light or red light… we got the green light!
As for Coconino itself… Chance already blogged about it so I’ll spare you the details and post cute pictures of Herrlerr and I instead. Can anyone guess the most shocking thing about the whole trip? I spent 13 days pretty much 24/7 with Chance and she’s still alive! I know, I am shocked too. You never know your own personal strength until you’re put in that kind of extreme circumstance. Plus the ride home would have been BORING alone, so I resisted the urge and didn’t push her into the Grand Canyon. It would have been SO easy to scoop her up and flip her over. There’s always next year… 😉 (Editor’s Note: I think Bobby is just mad because I like to refer to him as “my sidekick”)
Here are the boys at our overnight layover location in Clovis – Halo didn’t stop staring at the Air Force base the entire time. “Herrlerr nerrr lerrrrk plerrrrrns”
DUSTIN! He rode with us to his parent’s place in New Mexico (in the truck… not on that horse…).
“Herrlerr good boy, Herrlerr cart daddy’s ass around show jumping.”
I am just a passenger at this point…
My rule of the thumb: NEVER EVER under any circumstance walk up to a BAT (Big Ass Table), just shield your eyes as you walk past! Look how huge is that F***ING thing is!!!
Two weeks and I didn’t walk up to that thing until the last day, and guess what? It jumped like a dream!
This was the Training corner (see rule above about BATs).
Halo has so much heart and so much talent, I’ve never ridden a horse who loves his job so much. #BestHorseEver P.S. Can you see Chancercise’s further influence on me in this picture? Halo is actually poulticed and wrapped (in red – color coordination, duh!) and he has hoof pack in his feet. (Editor’s Note: The poultice and hoof pack in question are mine. See my good deeds? Bobby basically counts as a charity case.)
Halo and I were 1st in Training the first weekend and 4th the second weekend. This picture was probably Chance’s 20th attempt at the ribbon photo – Halo doesn’t like to pose with ribbons and isn’t shy about making his opinion known.
Da boyz… Herrlerr love Henny!!! Total besties… but only AT the show. When they get home they’re all pinned ears and threatening to bite each other.
I cannot wait to go back to Arizona again next year – it was the most fun ever!
Three weeks after we got back from Coconino, Dustin and I departed for vacation in Iceland and Greenland. I really hate writing so here’s more pictures with captions…
Upon arrival we went straight to the Blue Lagoon where someone (ME) got a surprise marriage proposal!
And of course I said yes!! Remember the saddle? He supports my horse addiction – KEEPER! Chance is still in tears about the fact that I’m officially off the market.
After our Icelandic wedding, the second week was our honeymoon – so naturally we had to experience the ‘Tölt ’ on Icelandic Horses. Dustin is such a sport.
And, well… that was my summer in a whirlwind, so….
I’m glad Hillary posted this the other day, because way back when Karen first broached this subject I drafted this post, then promptly forgot about it. Oops. My Drafts folder is a scary, crowded, very random place.
It’s always interesting to me to see how other people manage to fit horses and riding into their regular lives. Some of us have other big responsibilities to work around (like kids), or long commutes, or considerably more active social lives. I have no kids, a relatively short commute, and basically zero social life, so my only real challenge is making sure I actually get to see the SO for a couple hours a night, lest he become grumpy.
Luckily he has his own hobbies and much more of a social life, so he’s pretty good at keeping himself entertained. I do pretty much all the cooking though, and neither of us would like to eat dinner at 9pm, so I try to tailor my life to where I’m home at a decent hour. Basically this just means that I wake up and go to work a lot earlier than most.
I’m up between 5:15 (if I go running, like today) and 5:45 every day, and at work by 6:30-6:45. I’m a really light sleeper and cannot sleep if there’s any kind of noise or light outside, so the schedule works well for me. As soon as there’s even a hint of dawn or I hear cars starting/people driving by, I’m awake anyway. To answer some common questions in advance: No, I do not drink coffee, it’s disgusting. No, I’m not a perky morning person, I just wake up wanting to get shit done and out of the way. I’m never perky. If I seem perky, just assume I’ve been body snatched. Do not talk to me until after 8am. Or never. Never works too.
I don’t take a lunch break, I just eat at my desk and work through until 3:30ish. My commute to the barn is 30 minutes, so I’m there around 4. Of course, that’s usually right around feeding time, so I usually toss Henry a handful or two of his grain to avoid Drama Queen theatrics when the other horses get fed, then get him out of his stall.
Unless I’m in some kind of major hurry, I curry and brush him thoroughly every day. This is finally possible now that I have the Leistner brushes that he likes… I used to just wipe him down with a towel and be on my way so I didn’t suffer the Wrath of Henny. He seems to enjoy grooming now though, and his coat looks better, so I take the time to be thorough and just enjoy being with my horse. I also use that time to check him over for lumps, bumps, scrapes, fungus, or whatever other fun new thing he’s decided to do to himself.
Then it’s picking his feet, putting his boots on (which, every single day its like he’s never worn boots before in his life), then tacking him up. I usually have a rough schedule planned out in advance that dictates whether we’re doing a dressage ride, conditioning ride, jump school, etc. I’m usually on by 4:30, maybe 4:45 at the latest.
After I ride he gets hosed off then fly sprayed, and I either spray him with fungus spray if needed, or rub some Healthy Hair in the base of his tail, or slather him with Swat, or whatever else. Usually by then I’m running a little later than I want to be, so I just wipe off my bit and then toss my stuff back in the tack room. Cleaning/conditioning tack is usually a weekend thing for me, just like really long rides or shampoo baths or anything that I’d like to be leisurely about.
I try to be out of the barn by 6:30 so that I’m home by 7, then start dinner, take a shower, and have a little bit of time to hang out with SO and the dogs. I go to bed at 9 and read until I fall asleep (usually around 10) so I’m kind of a grandma like that. I need quiet time and I need sleep, sorry not sorry.
I was cruising through Instagram hashtags recently and stumbled across this:
This is not the first tack/equipment item that has confused me recently (there was also the KEP helmet that looked like a unicorn shat on it and the ear bonnet made out of lace that just ended up looking like you put your underwear on your horse’s head) but this one probably has me the most stumped. Someone explain.
You know what’s great about spending the weekend hanging out in the Luxe EQ mobile trailer? Everything. Literally everything.
Ok so technically I was working, not hanging out (I’m used to work not being horse related, so in my world this does not register on the scale of what equals “work” even though it was actually work and I was dead tired by the end of the weekend). I love horse stuff… setting it up, telling people about it, helping them find something they love, selling it, playing with it… horse stuff is the best. Especially when it’s all the pretty things.
I drove down to Houston on Friday after Normal Work to help get the racks and stuff set up, then was on my own for Saturday and Sunday. Quinn got to come along too, and I gotta say – he is a PRO tack shop dog. He really missed his true calling. It was impossible for people to not stop and pet him.
Saturday was pretty busy, between a fairly constant flow of customers, getting everything set up the way I wanted, sorting all the stuff on racks and shelves by size, etc.
On Sunday I had a little bit more free time in between customers, so I made it my mission to pull out and take pictures of all my favorite things, and try on some helmets. I cannot resist. I was really impressed with the Kasks, they have some awesome features including a magnetized chin strap closure and a “cradle” on the back for a more customized fit.
And of course the badass Samshield XJ, which fit me pretty perfectly. Too bad I only have one head and therefore cannot justify buying All The Helmets, because I feel like the navy Samshield XC would be awesome. Just sayin. Worth noting: Luxe EQ will be a participating retailer for the upcoming Helmet Awareness Day sale (both Kask and Samshield will be on sale!).
I also decided that I need this fancy Eric Javits hat, even though I have no idea where I’d wear it. I love it, even if my life in general is just not this fancy.
Overall it was a busy weekend and lots of work, but I had tons of fun. Back to the Normal Work grindstone today (where, sadly, I am not surrounded by a ton of really nice horse stuff, and that’s kind of a huge letdown).
It’s no secret that I’m a die-hard Riding Warehouse devotee. If it’s possible to buy something from them, I do. They ship things super quickly (usually same day), shipping is free on orders over $50, and I generally have the items in my hands 3 days later. There’s always a coupon code floating around to use, and their customer service has always been great for me. Teddy’s Tack Trunk is another one like this… I always have stuff on my doorstep within 2 days and the shipping charges are super reasonable. These guys are my gold standard, and they’ve proven hard to beat. That’s why I’m always quick to recommend them.
I’ve gotten so used to them, in fact, that when I experience anything less than that level of performance from other companies, I get annoyed. What do you mean it took 5 business days just to get my order boxed up and on the truck? What do you mean I paid $10 to ship a few tiny items and y’all shipped it the SLOWEST WAY POSSIBLE, taking 8 days to get to me? What do you mean I called all 3 phone numbers listed on your website for days during business hours and never got ahold of anyone?
All recent experiences from companies that shall remain nameless, btw.
But, are my expectations reasonable?
I kinda feel like, if you’re a company that relies heavily on online sales, you should be (or aspire to be) at RW/TTT’s level of performance. If you just have a basic website but mostly sell out of a brick and mortar or mobile, I’m more forgiving. And of course, if I buy something secondhand from another horse person, I’m way more forgiving. I know what a PITA it can be to get things boxed up, ready to ship, and to the post office while still working around your normal life commitments. That’s not your profession, after all.
So what are your expectations when purchasing things online? How long do you expect it to take for your order to ship? How long do you expect it to take for the items to get to you? And, maybe more importantly, what level of customer service do you expect?
It’s been a little dull around here lately on the Cool New Stuff front, since I’ve been on a spending freeze after the Devoucoux purchase (still love her to bits, no regrets, sorry money). But I’ve gotten a few cool things to play with, and play with them I have. Sometimes much to Henry’s chagrin, but honestly, he’s gotta be used to it by now.
My latest Teddy’s Tack Trunk acquisition has lived up to the typical Leistner standard that I’ve come to expect. I wasn’t too sure about the tail brush in particular (I’ve been using the same cheapo plastic paddle brush for a million years) but that thing really did a great job and with very few hairs left in the brush when I was done (2, to be exact, and I was not particularly gentle). The metal bristle side was great for quick detangling, and the horse hair bristle side served to help separate the hairs and “fluff” them a bit, giving his tail a fuller look. The mane brush is kinda like the design of a curry comb meets the functionality of a hair brush, which made it super easy to use. I’m in the middle of trying to fix Henry’s mess of a mane (oops, my bad) so I’ve been brushing it over after every bath, and this thing makes it really quick and easy.
Lund Saddlery tack
If you guys aren’t following this new tack company (officially debuting soon!) on facebook, you should be. They have monthly giveaways, will be posting reviews (some by yours truly), info about their products, new items in development, etc. They’ve spent 3 years developing the line, testing it, tweaking it, and trying to get everything just right… pretty cool! I’ve had fun playing with some Lund pieces and am really looking forward to seeing what else they come out with. This is a solid brand, and in a price range that will put it within just about anyone’s budget. Stay tuned, you’ll be hearing a lot more about them.
Gray & Co hand-dyed lead rope
Ok here’s what happened with this one: I’d had a headache for two days straight, did not get enough sleep the night before, was having a particularly annoying day at work, feeling super hangry, and when I popped open Instagram I saw a delightfully rainbow lead rope yelling “BUY ME YOU’LL FEEL BETTER”. So I did. And I do. I really can’t explain why I find this thing so damn entertaining, but I smile every time I see it. Unicorn level: Pro. They have other colors too, including some really pretty ombre, if you’re more normal than I am. Maybe a rainbow lead rope is a silly little mini-splurge, but it made me happy so whatever. Judge me.
Majyk Equipe Color Elite boots
Bobby’s got some badass red Majyk Equipe Color Elite XC boots that he’ll be reviewing here soon, but I also got some in Sapphire Blue. I’ve been using my old black Gen 1 XC boots pretty much every day, plus I have the white XC boots that are reserved for showing, and our fancy leather stadium boots, but now we’ve got some badass blue ones for schooling and gallops. Honestly they’re so pretty I’m almost questioning my devout loyalty to the white. Too bad they can’t wear two sets of boots at once. These things are ridiculously freaking gorgeous… the colored part has kind of a metallic-looking sheen to it. I’m a little obsessed. Again: judge me.
It’s finally time… Henry got his first set of drilled and tapped shoes this week. We got away with running him Training in Arizona without studs since it was essentially just a sand course, but headed into the fall season in Area V, I was feeling like we might need studs at some point. Especially if it’s at all rainy (which it has been a lot this year), and considering Henry is not exactly the most sure-footed creature I’ve ever met. And of course I sold my old stud kit like… 14 years ago… so I had to start over. Luckily I took advantage of BoB’s Labor Day sale to stock up on studs and stud accessories. It’s been so long since I’ve used these, we’ll definitely be playing with them a bit over the next month or so until I get re-acquainted.
When Bobby and I drove past Equicare on our way home from Arizona and I realized exactly what kind of facility it was, I tucked that tidbit of information in the back of my mind. I figured that maybe someday I’d call and ask about pricing… I guess I just assumed it would be expensive, since it seemed fancy.
Then a couple weeks ago a friend of mine posted on facebook about taking her horse there, so I messaged her and asked her what she thought about it and what the prices were like. I was blown away by how cheap it was – only $35 for the aquatred and $45 for the saltwater spa. I did a bunch of research online about both, called and talked to the owner of the facility, and booked Henry an appointment.
I was especially interested in the aquatred because Henry is conformationally weak and perpetually a bit stiff in his lower lumbar area. Engaging that part of him is really difficult for both of us, and while we’ve had some success using certain exercises under saddle, it’s obviously been really slow going and not particularly consistent. The aquatred is supposed to be great at targeting those muscles.
I also wanted to put him in the saltwater spa, just to see what we thought about that treatment. Henry’s got the typical wear and tear on his ankles that you see in horses that raced, and now he has another fairly demanding career full of galloping and jumping. Anything that could help reduce inflammation and increase blood flow to his precious lower limbs is a-ok by me. Plus he banged his hind ankle pretty hard while playing out in the field a couple weeks ago, and while superficial, it’s been slow to heal. You claim the saltwater spa can help both things? Sign us up.
We started out with the aquatred. They led another horse through in front of Henry to let him see that he wasn’t gonna die, and then started leading him slowly down the ramp. He planted his feet for a couple minutes and took a good look with several snorts, but eventually acquiesced and very gracefully (heavy sarcasm) walked down the ramp into the water. You have to play this video, if only to see his face at the end.
Once he walked forward onto the actual treadmill part they let him stand for a minute to settle, then slowly started adding a little speed until he figured out how to walk in the water. As soon as he started moving he was golden, and plodded right along.
It was REALLY cool to watch him in there and see exactly what muscles were getting the most workout. Pretty much all of their “sit” muscles, basically, and a wider range of motion than they normally use. I had to video it because it was so cool to see all those muscles working from above.
Since it was his first time they left the jets off (the jets add extra resistance to the water to increase the intensity of the workout) and only had him stay in for about 7 minutes. They prefer to start them slow and gradually build up, so the horses don’t get too anxious or tired or sore. Even though he’s a really fit horse, he was still a little bit veiny from exertion when he came out of the water.
From there they stuck him on the equiciser, to let him walk and settle and chill out for a bit before he got into the saltwater spa. The spa is a little bit of an intimidating looking machine, and it fills with very cold water, so they want to start with a calm horse.
After a few minutes on the Henny-Go-Round (which I found endlessly entertaining, although he spent most of the time tormenting poor Wyatt, the very sedate QH they put in with him as a buddy) they brought him in, hosed his legs off, picked his feet, and put a diaper on him. Yep, you read that right. No pooping in the saltwater spa.
I thought he might be a little dumb about this one, because its a small narrow space that they have to step up into, but he walked right in, they closed the doors, and then it slowly started filling (up to his knees) with water. His eyes bugged out a little at first, then he started wanting to paw and play with the water, but for the most part he was totally chill about it. After a few minutes he started making his normal goofy Henry faces, which usually means he’s bored.
Once that was done the machine drained the water, he walked out, and then they stuck him back on the equiciser while the owner showed me around and told me about all the cool new stuff they’re adding. It’s already an awesome facility, but it’ll be pretty incredible when they’re done. I’m pretty excited to know that this place is only about an hour’s haul away… I see lots more aquatred in Henry’s future!
When Bobby and I were on our way back from Arizona, with only about an hour left to go in our drive we passed a place called Equicare. I was so bored by that point that I was googling everything of interest that we passed, so I plugged Equicare into my phone and pulled up the website. I was pleased to find out that it was a rehab center that offered everything from an underwater treadmill to a saltwater spa and everything in between. I didn’t realize we were so close to a facility like that.
It seems like some forms of therapy are super common- massage and chiropractic for example. Henry has had both, although for him massage is by far the best. He loves it and the difference after a session is obvious, so he gets to see his most favorite massage lady on a regular basis.
But those aren’t the only forms of therapy…I’ve seen a lot of eventers, showjumpers, and dressage riders utilizing many different things to help keep their horses fit and feeling good. The aquatred (aka underwater treadmill aka aquaciser) in particular is supposed to be absolutely fantastic for strength and conditioning. I feel like those of us with sporthorses are always looking for ways to increase our horses’ fitness while keeping the physical pounding to a minimum. I mean… if it’s good enough for Valegro…
About the aquatred at Equicare:
The HydroHorse is an in-ground, submerged treadmill, with 1,400 gallons of heated water and whirlpool jets. It provides a controlled, buoyant environment for low-impact exercise, and speeds the return to fitness and performance.
It is effective in treating bowed tendons, pulled suspensory ligaments, splints, bucked shins, saucer fractures, joint injuries, post surgical recovery and many other conditions. In addition, use of the HydroHorse adds significant tone and conditioning to the back and stifle muscles and forms the cornerstone of a low-stress fitness program for horses that need to attain or maintain competitive condition.
TheHydroHorse underwater treadmill builds muscles and cardiovascular strength in a partially buoyant environment that reduces stress and concussion by up to 60 percent. The horse exercises in a controlled environment, in a straight line on a flat surface, using its normal gait, with full range of motion and the same muscles that it uses on traditional surfaces.
Unlike swimming, which uses a different set of muscles and does not replicate the workout that the horse receives on land, the HydroHorse builds topline and leg muscles with the added benefits of the therapeutic effects of the warm water and the Jacuzzi jets.
While Equicare offers a lot of different services, the other one that I found super interesting for Henry was the saltwater spa. I’ve seen this pop up more and more these days and have become increasingly curious. Some blurbs about the saltwater spa:
The saltwater in the spa is aerated and chilled to a constant 35° F. The hyper-cooled saltwater reduces limb temperature (and hence inflammation) far beyond traditional icing techniques, thereby inhibiting enzyme degeneration of tendons and ligaments post-injury.
Saltwater at this temperature allows a far greater concentration of oxygen, which, combined with the aeration, greatly increases the overall oxygen content of the spa solution, which is believed to promote healing in the same way a hyperbaric chamber does.
Exposure to this low temperature results in a significant, drug-free reduction of pain.
As the legs re-warm after treatment, blood flow is greatly increased to the injury site.
The aeration massages the horse’s legs, increases oxygen content, stimulates blood flow and cleanses open wounds.
The Epsom and sea salt solution acts as a hypertonic poultice, which means that it draws inflammation out of the horse’s limbs far more effectively than fresh water. The salt also aids in wound cleansing.
Equicare also has a Theraplate, regenerative laser therapy, Game Ready, and a solarium (we saw several solariums at barns in Europe, so fancy).
Have any of you used therapies like this on your horses, or been interested in them? What’s worked for you and what hasn’t? And if you don’t like them or haven’t used them – why not?
And yes, of course I booked Henry an appointment for the aquatred and the saltwater spa, because how could I not? More about that tomorrow!