Friday Funny: This Ball, Y’all

Remember on Wednesday how the parting words of my post were “What kind of shenanigans will Presto get up to today? Stay tuned to find out. I’m sure it’ll be something.”? Bless him, he never fails to deliver.

I was secretly a little disappointed because up to that point he hadn’t shown a ton of interest in his ball. He’d played with it a little on Monday, mostly when I made him, but otherwise I hadn’t seen him touch it. And then I got home on Wednesday, rode Henry, and was in the barn cleaning stalls when I heard a commotion. I looked up, and there was Presto out in the field, chasing his ball. He was running after it, stomping on it, laying on it… the whole 9 yards. I WAS SO EXCITED. THIS IS WHAT I HAD DREAMED OF WHEN I BOUGHT THE BALL.

I never knew that this what what my life needed until it happened

And once he started playing with the ball, he didn’t stop. On Wednesday he played with it for a good hour while I cleaned stalls, and when I got home on Thursday somehow it had found it’s way into the pond and was deflated by a good 4″ from what it had been that morning. Presto came with me to the pond to fish it out, I tossed it to him, and he took off with it again. Clearly he’s really gotten into now. I’ve got a good 20 minutes of video on my phone of him playing with it on my phone at this point, because I keep stopping what I’m doing to film it. I might be even more entertained than Presto.

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What does Henry hate more, Presto or the ball?

The baby dressage horse, JB, who is still quite skeptical of it, even played with it a little bit yesterday too. He mostly tries to kick it or stomp it to death, but still. Last night I put some air back in it and tossed it back out in the pasture for them. It’s too cute, I can’t get enough.

So since it’s Friday and it’s been a long week, and a long January, I compiled my favorite few minutes so far of Presto playing with his ball. I think it’s what the world needs right now. I know it’s what I need, at least.

Happy Friday!

Mini Review time!

I have A LOT of stuff that I need to review. Like the Hylofit. And the Majyk Equipe ice boots. Those are all relatively “big” items so I’m still gathering data/pictures/more info before I’m ready to review them. I also had a lot of little acquisitions relatively recently though, so for the sake of ease and expedience I’ve tossed a bunch of things together here for some rapid fire reviews.

Halter Ego Perfection breeches

Halter Ego is getting into the breech game and they are absolutely bringing the fire. Their new Perfection breeches are very appropriately named, with a nice mid-weight fabric that is great for 3-season wear down here in Texas. The fabric is super flattering on a lot of body types (and I LOVE that Halter Ego uses all sizes of models – you can see how the breeches would look on someone of your similar size/body type, AND most colors come in sizes 22 through 40!) plus they have a perfect mid-rise, as well as a really lovely collection of colors. I got the gray with navy piping, because navy, and they’re super gorgeous and look great with everything. These breeches come in both silicone knee patch or silicone full seat, so I think they will appeal to a wide variety of riders. This brand is very size-inclusive and they clearly know how to design a breech that can flatter a woman’s body yet still be comfortable in the saddle. They do run a little bit small, so if you’re in between sizes I would recommend sizing up!

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Unicorn Grooming Spray

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The name alone is pretty brilliant, you have to admit. Why yes I do own a unicorn, and yes he does need grooming spray! In all seriousness, Unicorn Grooming Spray is a nice, all-natural, multi-use grooming spray that I’ve gotten a lot of use out of over the winter. The scent is extremely mild, the spray helps lift dirt out of the coat and add some shine, and it contains a blend of essential oils with antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. I’ve used it to keep dust away, help with static, and to spray on any random winter skin funk that may appear. I really like that there are no crazy chemicals and it’s silicone-free. Really handy “essential item” to have in the grooming kit, for sure. Plus it’s a small, equestrian-owned business – my favorite kind!

Nunn Finer elastic reversible breastcollar

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This is a bit of a newer item for me, and maybe not something I would typically review, as these have been on the market forever. But, Nunn Finer has them on clearance for only $35 (normally $76) so if you’ve ever wanted one, now is the time. It’s a very simple piece of equipment, literally just an elastic piece with leather on each end, so I’m not sure you ever could have convinced me to pay $76, but at $35 I’m totally in. Nunn Finer stuff is SO well made, and so rugged, and so long-lasting, and it’s made in America. This breastcollar is no exception, and I love the fact that it’s reversible (two color options make it feel almost like you have two different pieces of equipment in one) with really good quality elastic – not that flimsy, easily stretched-out stuff that a lot of the cheap brands in this same price bracket have. Presto is in the horse size and it fits him well. I did buy snaps separately, because it doesn’t come with them. PSA: if you’re a USEA member, check your member rewards, you get a discount at Nunn Finer.

Collegiate memory foam girth

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I’ve really been needing a bit smaller girth since I changed my saddle pad situation, and I finally nabbed one using an Amazon gift card. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, but I also didn’t want something super cheap and crappy. The Collegiate memory foam girth, listed at $55, seemed like a good middle ground. I was hoping that the memory foam meant that the padding was soft, and since it’s synthetic I could easily hose it off. For the most part I don’t have many complaints… the memory foam IS soft, although in cold weather it’s noticeably stiffer and firmer until the horse’s body heat warms it a bit. If I lived in an actual cold place that might be more problematic. I like the roller buckles, and it sits nicely on both Henry and Presto. My main complaint? The brown one I got does not look at all like the stock photo of the brown one. Mine is a lighter brown, with black synthetic leather, which is… ugly. Let’s be honest. Not so ugly that I returned it, obviously, but it’s ugly. If I cared more about girth aesthetics I would have sent it back. And mine supposedly came straight from Collegiate, so… that’s disappointing. Overall it’s a decent girth and does the job, but it’s hard to get super excited about something ugly.

Epona Power Shower (with Tiger’s Tongue) sponge

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Now THIS, I am excited about. Y’all know how much I love the Tiger’s Tongues (enough that I own two and have given several as gifts), so when I saw this sponge with a Tiger’s Tongue backing, I had to have it. I used it to scrub the swamp off of Presto and it was really really helpful in that particular situation. The sponge side is super absorbent so you can carry a lot of water from a bucket, and it’s nice to just be able to flip it over and use the Tiger’s Tongue on any particularly grimy spots. I’ve used my regular Tiger’s Tongues before for baths and really liked how they worked, but my only complaint was that they didn’t really hold water when bathing from a bucket. This solves that problem. It’s more gentle than a jelly scrubber, and nice to have it all in one tool. Much love. Big fan.

All the riding tights. All of them.

Since I got my Hylofit I’ve been on a quest for a decent but not expensive pair of riding tights with a pocket on the left side (you have to have your phone on the left side of your body when using the Hylofit). I took advantage of the big 60% off sale at breeches.com during black Friday and picked up a couple pairs of their leggings – the Tuffrider Minerva and the Tuffrider Bootie tights. With the discount they were both under $20, which… is probably all I’d be willing to pay for them. They’re ok, but the fabric def seems a bit cheap and thin, and I have issues with the Minerva’s sagging a bit if I wear them all day. The Bootie ones are better fit-wise, but of course I failed to notice that they only have a pocket on the right, so they’re a bit useless for my purpose. They’re kinda what you’d expect if Walmart sold riding tights. I also picked up a clearance pair of Ovation Aerwick tights from RW (I paid $29 with a code, so a bit more than the TuffRiders but def not anywhere near Expensive) and I like them a lot more. The fabric is a little bit thicker and more sturdy, and while it has a weird shine to it that I don’t particularly love (and the belt loops are kinda lame), they’re super stretchy/comfortable and I’m happy to wear them all day doing barn chores or riding or whatever. And they’ve got a phone pocket on both sides, a feature I’ve become more and more obsessed with as I’ve worn these. It’s just so useful for so many things (ie cookies. all the cookies). I would buy more Ovations, especially at the clearance price. IMO they do run a bit long and small – I sized up from what the chart recommended.

Mountain Horse Opus High Rider

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These were a bit of an impulse purchase from Europe (because NO ONE in the US had them) when I saw they were on clearance for only $180. I bought them a little bit bigger in the foot so I could wear thicker socks under them, and while they had a bit more break in time than my semi-custom Pioneer boots or my Tuccis, I’ve been pretty pleased with them since. They look nice, they seem pretty well-made, and since they were cheap I won’t feel guilty if/when I trash them. They aren’t quite comfortable enough to wear around all day, but they’re solid schooling boots, and I’d honestly have no problem wearing them at shows either. Aesthetically I really like these more than the very popular two-tone Sovereigns which I think break up the leg a little bit, where I’ve spent most of my equestrian life striving to make my leg look longer. For the negatives – I do think they could/should be a bit slimmer in the ankle, there’s a bit too much excess leather there, so if you want something SUPER fitted these might not be the ones. The leather is also a bit soft and not particularly resilient to scratches. So far the scratches I’ve incurred have pretty much all buffed out with conditioner, but I’m not sure they’d withstand a ton of abuse if you want to wear them around the barn and still have them look nice. I don’t know that I would have wanted to pay the full price for them but for $180 they’re a really solid purchase.

What should I review next? Hylofit? Ice boots? Breeches? I need to organize myself…

Presto is the Worst

You have to give Presto credit, he is not boring, or shy, or subtle. His antics are never-ending, and rarely a day goes by when he hasn’t managed to entertain me in some way. Lately he’s been in especially rare form… I don’t know if he’s just a little mentally bored, or the nice weather and green grass has brought out even more mischievousness than usual, but boy he is very PRESTO these days.

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On Sunday I was driving the manure spreader back up to the barn when, as I drove past their pasture, I noticed Presto straight up wallowing in the pond. I don’t mean just rolling, I mean eyeballs-deep like a hippopotamus, and more than once his entire body disappeared under the surface. Despite being turned out in that pasture since November, this is the first time I’ve caught him actually IN the pond. I’ve seen him stand halfway in, and roll on the muddy edges, but I’ve never caught him in all the way in it before. He would wallow around, get up, move a couple feet, lay down, wallow around, get up, move a couple more feet, lay down, etc etc. Naturally my phone was dead so I went inside, plugged it in for a few minutes, and continued to watch the wildlife expo that he was performing in the pond.

To give you an idea of how long it went on, I was able to park the spreader, walk into the house, plug my phone in, let it get to 10%, walk back out to the pasture, and he was still rolling. By that point he had moved from the pond to the little side puddles around it, pawing and rolling in all of those too. I legit lost count of how many times he rolled. He was like a horse possessed. And by the time he was done, he was straight up COATED in slimy pond water and mud. From the tip of his ears to the tip of his tail, like nothing I have ever seen.

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SLIMY

The worst part though? The smell. Omg, he smelled like a walking sewer. I’m not particularly sensitive to foul odors but I was borderline gagging. He touched me with his nose and I fled (that shirt had to immediately go into the washer when I went back in the house). Even the other horses thought he stunk.

JB’s face after he smelled him

Luckily it was a balmy 75 degrees that afternoon, so I immediately just took Presto straight to the wash rack. There was no way I was grooming that off, and if I left him like that the whole barn would probably reek forever. He was super pissed that I bathed him, but he left me no other choice. And even a bath didn’t quite remove all the stench, I’m still catching whiffs of it.

Despite his horrid swamp donkey behavior, on Monday a present came for him in the mail. I noticed last week that Big Dee’s had a deal where if you bought one of the giant play balls, you got the cover half price. I’ve been eyeballing some new toys for him anyway, so I grabbed a 30″ ball and the beach ball cover. Once it came I was excited to get it inflated and toss it out for them. After one false start where I failed to read the instructions and inflated the ball before putting the cover on (don’t be me, it sucks to spend 10 minutes foot-pumping a ball and then have to smoosh all the air out, roll it up and shove it into a cover, and then inflate it again), it was ready to go, and it was glorious.

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The horses immediately came running up to see what it was about. There was a little snorting (mostly from the baby dressage horse) but for the most part they were just curious. Presto being Presto, he delivered a “worth every bit of the price of the ball” moment within the first two minutes, when he kicked it right at Quinnie’s butt. You could almost hear him laughing as it bounced off.

I also laughed. Poor Quinnie. The shit she has to put up with, raising those two baby idiots.

After they all sniffed it as a group I put a halter on Presto and taught him how to walk and kick it along with him. He caught on quickly, but seemed unimpressed. So then I turned him into a soccer goal.

He’s pretty wild and crazy. I fear for my life.

Mostly Presto seemed interested in rubbing his head on it, or scaring the other horses with it. Henry wouldn’t go NEAR it, and ran for the hills any time it rolled towards his fenceline. They haven’t played with it much more than that first half hour though, not that I’ve seen at least. Maybe on the next really cold morning, that seems to be when they get up to most of their mischief.

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HUGS 4 MAH BALL

To round off his Rampage of Chaos so far this week, yesterday he decided he was the farrier’s assistant. Seriously, the guy was just trying to trim JB and Quinnie’s feet, but is it possible to do anything near Presto without him being involved? No.

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Here, I hold dis horse for you, you welcome

First he started by knocking over the hoof stand and pulling tools out of the farrier’s pockets while we tried to shoo him away. We finally reached a compromise when I let him hold Quinnie’s lead rope, which he did… happily standing there, just holding the lead rope, because he’s such a gold-star “helper”.

What kind of shenanigans will Presto get up to today? Stay tuned to find out. I’m sure it’ll be something.

Tiny Home Tuesday: in stasis

People keep asking for updates on the tiny house, but the truth is there isn’t much else to say yet. We’re just waiting, continuing the save up the money for the down payment, and continuing to have way too much time to overthink all the different options and change our minds 300 times.

Following the builder on Instagram may have been our #1 mistake, because now we just see lots of pictures of lots of options. Shortly after the new year they posted new cabinet and tile options for 2020, and I was super excited because BLUE CABINETS.

Naturally the SO hates blue as much as I love blue, so he was not a fan. At least we both agreed that we don’t like the busy tile? That’s something.

I keep going back and forth between white and gray cabinets, depending on what pictures they’ve posted last. Honestly, this is torture. SO likes a very black and white type of look, which I am not on board with so much considering it’s a farm and those are the two hardest colors to keep looking clean, plus I think it looks too formal for the setting. The white cabinets look good, and that’s fine, but that’s about where my desire for anything white/black ends.

pretty close to what we originally picked out – light gray

We’ve also made little to no progress on picking exterior colors. They posted a gray/white/navy one that I LOVE, but he still likes the white exterior with the black roof, which I hate. He does like the gray as a second choice, though, so that’s the most likely option.

my personal favorite color scheme

Roof color? Anyone’s guess. Neither of us likes what the other likes. He likes black, which I do agree looks nice, but I really don’t want a black roof under the Texas sun. I find none of them to be particularly exciting, honestly. Which is maybe my problem with being able to just pick colors in general. I know what I don’t like, but I just don’t get that excited about this stuff in general. Do I really give a shit if my cabinets are gray or white? Will I even notice after day 1? Yeah no. Someone just pick for me.

I’ve had more success with other things, though. I joined a few “tiny living” groups on facebook, so I can see more about other people’s challenges and solutions. I’ve watched just about every documentary or tv show I can find about it too, gathering little nuggets of wisdom or ideas as I go along. I’ve even bookmarked a couple of things online that I want to get/build in to help us maximize our 399 square feet.

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Since I’ve been living at the farm I’ve challenged myself to a bit of quasi-minimalism. I didn’t bring a ton of clothes with me (not even enough to fill a small closet) and I’m using very few dishes/kitchen appliances. Really it’s kind of an experiment to see how much I really need and use on a regular basis. Honestly – waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay less than I even thought. So far I haven’t needed a single thing that I didn’t bring with me, clothing wise, and the dishes in regular rotation aren’t even enough to fill a sink. I’m feeling really good about the idea of donating or throwing away the vast majority of what I have left at home. The thought sounds EXCITING, really. Liberating. Somebody back a dumpster up into my driveway, give me a day, and that house will be empty.

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I do have a lot of horse stuff, and I like having a lot of horse stuff, but I have more room for that in the barn and outside storage spaces. Still though, I’ve already done a first pass through what I have and started to list things for sale, and have another big box of things to donate. This is a really good opportunity to clean house.

The SO, as I predicted, is not having as much luck with this part. So far he hasn’t cleaned out anything, and is basically just planning to move all his stuff (and there is a lot) into storage. I tried to reason him out of some of the kitchen appliances (like the popcorn popper, which I’ve seen him use one time in the 7 years we’ve lived together) but he’s adamant that he uses it all. I can’t force it, so… he’ll have to get there in his own time. Probably after he’s paid a year or two of storage fees for no reason.

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Mostly he’s been spending all his free time working on getting his ’56 Mercury fixed up. He really wanted to have it mostly restored by the time we move, since he will lose garage access, but considering he had to completely rebuild the engine (not planned) and now has several backordered parts impeding progress, it’s definitely not going to happen in time. So he’s currently semi-panicked about finding a garage space he can rent to keep the car and his tools in, and be able to work on it from there. He hasn’t found much so far, especially ones that aren’t stupid expensive.

I do still need to talk to some professionals about our options with the septic. Park Model RV’s are meant to hook into an existing septic system, which we won’t be able to do, so we’re going to have to get a little more creative. If it was just me I’d do a composting toilet and be done with it, but SO would 100% die at that idea so I wouldn’t dare even mention it. He’s very much a “living in 2020” type of guy, with all the creature comforts that that entails. From my research I do know that there are other options, most likely some kind of external tank, it’s just a matter of pricing them and figuring out which ones will work the best. For that I need a professional.

So… that’s kind of where we’re at. Mostly still a lot of stuff up in the air and things to figure out. I think it’s just going to feel this way until we finally order the house and get the process officially started, which is still a few months away. Until then… we wait.

Action Packed

For the first time in way longer than I care to even think about, I had a very riding-centric weekend. That had been my plan all along, but there for a few days it didn’t look like it was going to happen. First, on Tuesday I came home to this.

I was just standing here being a good boy and they POPPED RIGHT OFF

Yes, that butthole pulled two shoes in one day. He was kind enough to leave them where I could easily find them at least (he’d been playing chase with Presto up and down the fence line and spun/ran/bucked right out of them) but COME ON HENRY. He’d only been wearing them for a week and a half and my poor farrier lives like 1.5 hours away. My vet, who used to be a farrier, was out that afternoon for Presto’s tooth appointment, but he didn’t have his tools with him to nail the shoes back on. So I put Henry’s sparkly boot (that thing has already saved the day multiple times now) on the front foot with the missing shoe and told him that if he tore up the hind foot I was going to eat him, starting with said foot.

Then the next day it rained. Like that gross rain where it’s more than a drizzle but it’s not really RAIN, and it lasts for a solid 14+ hours. It soaked EVERYTHING. I was concerned that the little schooling show I’d wanted to go to on Saturday would be rained out. Not that it mattered much at that point, since my horse had 2 out of 4 shoes. But on Friday morning they gave word that the show was a go, and on Friday afternoon my farrier made it out to put the shoes back on, and suddenly our weekend was back on track.

foiled again

The little schooling show was at a facility we’ve been to many times… it’s only about 25mins away from me now, it’s VERY laid back, the classes are cheap, the shows are small, the courses are soft, and they tend to let you do whatever you need to make your day a success. I wasn’t going to actually show, I was going just to jump a couple courses and get off the farm. We’ve jumped at home a couple times now but I’ve only got 4 jumps set up and they’re all single fences, so I wanted to do an actual course or two. We haven’t done that in… 5 months? Maybe more?

So I rolled onto the showgrounds at the very leisurely time of 12:30 (it was really nice to be able to get up, feed horses, clean stalls, go to breakfast, move hay, drag the arena, check my trailer tires, load the trailer, groom my horse, and still have time left over before I needed to leave. That’s literally never happened before.) and signed up for a couple of 3′ classes. Since it was such a close show, the SO opted to come with us. This is only the second show he’s ever been to, and the first one since AEC 2015, where we got in a fight and I banned him from coming to shows. I guess 5 years of time served is long enough to give him another shot? At least at a small, in-town show.

We got there when the 2’3″ was starting, so I unloaded Henry and tied him to the trailer with his hay net, and the SO and I set up our chairs in the back of the trailer out of the wind, facing the arena. Eventually they got to 2’6″, and there had been one person entered in 2’9″ by herself and then the 3′ with me but she scratched, so I got on and did a quick warmup. Henry was snorty and spooky, trotting sideways past a gate and leaping backwards at the sight of the world’s tiniest log in warmup. Yes folks, hello, this is my Prelim horse scrambling backwards away from a 4″ log as if it was set on fire by an army of dragons.

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I told the organizer not to worry about setting the jumps to height just on my account since I was only there to school anyway. So we went in, did our two rounds, and Henry was super rideable. Like… weirdly rideable. Like… we added in a line at one point because I whoaed and he listened a little too well. If not for all the spooking and dolphining in warmup I’d have thought I was on the wrong horse. He did everything I asked in the ring, whether I was right or wrong. Can’t complain about that.

SO had seen just enough rounds to put him to sleep by the time I got on, so I ended up with video from about half of each round and some questionable zooming, but… it’s more video than I would have had otherwise.

By the time all was said and done I was on my horse for 25 minutes and we jumped a grand total of 23 fences between warmup and two classes. I was back home by 3pm. THAT is a show day I can get down with, and I think exactly what we needed to start knocking some more rust off.

he’s cute no matter how blurry he is

Sunday was beautiful – 75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, so I spent forever down in the barn currying more hair off of Henry and giving him a bath. He’s shedding like crazy now. I also opted for a bareback and bitless flatwork ride, something relaxed since the previous day had been more serious. The barn owner has a SoloShot which I played with for a while before losing patience and tossing my phone up on the fence to video instead. Someday I will actually take the time (all of it. all the time.) to use the SoloShot, but yesterday was not that day.

Henry is slowly but surely starting to get some of his strength back. When we first started riding again he wasn’t really able to stay off his forehand for more than a few strides, but it’s steadily improving. He’s incredibly downhill by nature so that’s always been the first thing to go when he loses some strength. It’s a balancing act of asking him for enough to build on, without asking too much or for too long and making him sore.  Slow and steady, slow and steady.

yes, he likes to play with his tongue when he’s bitless

I have no actual plan for the coming weeks or months, we’re just going to keep plugging along and take things as they come. It’s kind of a nice change of pace, living in a world with no pressure or timelines. I don’t hate it.

Review: Montar breeches

One of the best (or worst, depending on whether you’re asking me or my wallet) things about those massive Black Friday sales posts is that I too discover new companies, brands, and products. This year was no exception as I stumbled across several new-to-me stores, one of which was The Dressage Store. If you like pretty things it’s really easy to get sucked into that website. Fans of matchy sets, this is definitely your jam, but they also have other gorgeous stuff, like Juuls jackets and Kingsley boots. I love unique or interesting things, and this shop has plenty of eye candy in that regard.

One of the other brands they carry is Montar, which I have been low-key eyeballing for a long time. They make everything from bridles to breeches, and it’s interesting enough to be a fun line, but not too “out there” or crazy expensive. I’ve heard particularly good things about the breeches, although never seen any in person, so I was always a bit hesitant. I do believe, though, that most brands can be judged pretty accurately by their breeches, a theory that hasn’t let me down yet. Usually if I like the breeches, I’ll like other things they make, too. And since breeches are an absolute staple, seems like a logical place to start.

I opted for the Montar ESS breeches, which are maybe a bit outside of my normal box. I am a big fan of a mid-rise, and got a bit nervous about their description of a “higher rise”, with lingering trauma from the very old TS and Pytchley days when higher rise meant they legit went almost to the bottom of my boobs. These didn’t look particularly high though, and I really loved the shape of the waistband. If I’m going to have a problem with breeches fitting me, it’s usually because they gap in the waist, so I liked that these had a contoured waistband, slightly higher in the back, with the little V notch.

the waistband is PERFECTION

These also feature a silicone full seat, which I am generally very picky about. I feel like much of the time breech-makers put way too much silicone and it’s way too thick, making the breeches mega sticky… tough if you want to actually remove your butt from the saddle to post or gallop or jump.

Luckily Montar really delivered when it comes to these breeches. They fit pretty near perfect, and the seat gives a little bit more grip without being noticeably sticky. I don’t feel stuck to the saddle at all, just slightly more secure. The best way I can think to describe it is that it’s not a GRIPPY silicone so much as an anti-slip silicone. The waist sits just slightly higher than my midrise breeches, no more than 1/2″ if that, which I quite like. The waistband is as beautifully tailored as it looks, so there’s no sag, there’s no gapping, and everything stays in place. I do think they run a tiny bit longer than some of my others, so tall people rejoice, short people you might have to fold.

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The real selling feature of these for me, though, is the fabric. It’s ridiculously comfortable, and kind of feels like just the right mix of other brands I’ve liked. They’re super stretchy like the Horze Grand Prix, but lighter weight like the Aqua X, but smooth and soft like the Serafina. To be honest, I think Montar has perfected the blend. It feels almost like wearing leggings. These things are so comfortable that I’ve worn them for almost every ride since I got them, no joke. I just find myself reaching for them again and again. They wash up great and don’t stretch out. I think I need some green ones now, clearly.

These are a little bit pricier than some of my other schooling breeches, at $179 retail. That puts them in the same price range as Serafina, TS, Pikeur, B Vertigo, and RJ Classics. To be fair, I have/had all of those brands and would definitely declare Montar the winner among them. The fit and fabric is just superior.

This was actually a different day than the other picture but obviously I have a favorite outfit

In the relatively short time that I’ve known about The Dressage Store they’ve posted a coupon code and done a custom boot giveaway, so if you aren’t already following along, here’s their Instagram or facebook. Y’all know how much I love supporting these smaller boutique stores, and from my experience I think this is definitely one to watch! Now they just might have to continue to feed my new Montar addiction…

Belly Bands are… dumb?

A couple weeks ago I was scrolling through my facebook feed when my eyes caught on an article from Heels Down titled “Belly Bands are a Dumb Trend”. Meant to be attention-grabbing, obviously, and I suppose it worked because I stopped scrolling. It was a very confusing title to me because 1. I had no idea they were a “trend” 2. I tend to disagree with the idea that they’re dumb. I own one, after all.

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they LOOK dumb, I’ll give you that

So I opened the article and the gist was that people use belly bands because they’re trying to hide spur marks, and if you’re such a bad rider that you leave spur marks, maybe you should work on your horsemanship. This just compounded how perplexed I was. I agree with the latter part, but strongly disagree with the former.

I mean, first of all… have you seen a belly band? It’s literally this hideous chonk of black elastic that is, quite frankly, a freaking upper body workout to even put on. There’s nothing semi-attractive about it, nor does it make you look cool. It looks like a dang hernia belt. Or a girdle. People DO look at you more closely, to try to judge why you’re using it. You’re not standing out in a good way. If they’re trendy then I guess I’ve totally missed that boat, because I don’t know a single person that uses one without reason or just to look cool. It doesn’t, and it’s a PITA.

My real problem with the article started here:

“Some may even be prone to rubs from riders’ boots or girth-fit alone. But there are options out there for managing a problem like this. Most of them come down to proper education and horsemanship.”

See, I do own a belly band, and have used it with great success. I have a horse who gets extremely sensitive skin in the summer, and just about anything will give him a rub. Like his halter. Or a saddle pad. Or my leg touching him. Or looking at him funny. The horse was getting rubs and I wasn’t even wearing spurs. Let me repeat: not wearing spurs. But I do ride him for long periods, he does sweat a lot, and those two things create the perfect environment for skin irritation.

I tried to use one of those spur pads with the extended sides and he got rubs from the edges of the pad. Congratulations, now he had MORE rubs. I tried wearing two other different pairs of boots to see if that would make any difference, but no dice. I tried slathering the area in Vaseline before rides to reduce friction (yes, I voluntarily made my horse more slippery). I had the vet look at his skin, I treated it with products, and always carefully bathed all the sweat off. None of that fixed it. So I bought him sheepskin pads, picked up a cheap used belly band to put over top, and voila – my problems were totally solved. The existing rubs healed, and he didn’t get any more. Once we got past the sweatiest grossest parts of the summer I was able to stop using the belly band and it’s been hanging in the tack room since. Will I need it again next summer? I’d be thrilled if I don’t, but probably. We’ll see. If I do, I won’t hesitate to reach for it. So, given all that, I am very interested to hear what other options exist (according to this author) for managing a horse like this, particularly those pertaining to my alleged lack of horsemanship.

The article goes on to say that a belly band is a quick fix solution, and maybe you need to learn how to make your horse be more forward and light off your leg.

Girlfriend.

If I get my horse any more forward and light off my leg, he will take up permanent residence somewhere in the stratosphere. That animal is so sensitive I have to be really tactful and deliberate about how I use my leg. I’ve spent years working on getting him to accept the leg and allow me to actually use it appropriately. Trust me, I ain’t squeezing his guts out the whole ride. But you DO have to put your leg on a horse and be able to ride with your leg as an active aid… I can’t just ride around with my leg off his sides as a solution to prevent rubs.

very abused, this one

Are there people out there using belly bands to cover something up? Of that I have no doubt. Truth is, people can misuse even the most innocuous pieces of equipment (like sponges. people have literally abused horses with sponges.). If you’re using a belly band to prevent a particularly severe spur from leaving a mark so you can skate around the blood rule then you’re not that bright in the first place, because a belly band dulls the effect of a spur. If that’s your intended usage you may as well take the dumb-looking elastic girdle off and use a duller spur. I do agree that they should not be legal in competition for any sport (they already aren’t legal for some competitions) – I have never used mine in the show ring and would never want to, because see above comments about how freaking ugly it is. Taking it off for one day or just for your class shouldn’t be a big deal if you’re using it for legitimate purposes.

But I do think it’s incredibly small-minded, and if I’m being honest, a bit ignorant, to lambaste the product and all the people who use it just because there are a few people who also misuse it. Particularly when it’s a product that’s intentionally designed to protect a horse’s skin. By that logic there must be something wrong with all my sheepskin pads, too. Digging deeper into the article, it seems like what the author truly has a problem with is the misuse of spurs, and we can absolutely find common ground there. Shoot, the only spurs I even own are those teeny tiny little roller balls, and given my history on this blog I think it’s pretty clear that I would never defend rider-induced blood on a horse. What I just can’t get behind is the leap from “abuse of spur” to “belly bands are dumb” and roll them up in the same conclusion: people who use belly bands have bad horsemanship. That’s the point at which I admittedly get lost. And yes, I definitely have a real problem with someone questioning my horsemanship because I use a product that has actually worked to make my horse more comfortable.

Anyone else ever used a belly band? Do you think they’re covering up a bad rider or a lack of horsemanship, or is there a legitimate use? Where do you stand?

The Ethiopian Warmblood has been de-wolfed

Somewhere around January 1st I thought “Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if I could go the entire month without spending hundreds of dollars on vet bills…”. And then maybe 2 minutes later I realized that the boys were due for their shots and coggins. And then maybe 2 minutes after that I figured we might as well go ahead and check Presto’s mouth to see about those wolf teeth too, if I’m going to start riding him anytime soon. Oh, and he probably needs a float.

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Okay, so… maybe next month. I think by this point I haven’t gone a single month without paying the vet something since like… May? April? Come on, February, don’t let me down.

Anyway, the vet came out last Monday to do the shots and coggins, which was easy. Except Presto had a meltdown when I left him in the crossties and tried to paw his way to China, thus began 4 subsequent days of Camp Dontbeanasshole where he was put in the crossties and ignored for the entire time I was mucking stalls. Naturally he never threw another fit again, and indeed barely moved a muscle in any of those sessions, because they always save that kind of behavior for when we have company over.

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We checked his teeth on shots/coggins day and they did indeed need a float, and he did indeed have two wittle wolf teeth prime and ready for removal. I was happy to see that his wolf teeth were so little (ie normal sized) because his mother’s were so big that it took almost an hour to get them out, and that vet asked if she could keep them because she’d never seen any so big. Because if anyone is going to have a horse with anything freakish, it’d definitely be me.

Presto’s tooth appointment was yesterday. We started with the power float, and he had a couple decent size points in there, but they didn’t take long to smooth down. When the vet was satisfied with the teeth, he went and got his little wolf teeth extractor tool and essentially just… popped those suckers right out.

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it’s so little and cute

It took less than 5 minutes, and they are totally the cutest wittle baby wolf teeth ever. While the vet was in there he noticed that Presto had a couple premolar caps that were about to fall off, so he literally just tapped them with his tool and out they came. Those were much more impressive looking, at least, and really cool. There are a couple more caps that will be ready soon he said, but not quite yet. He’s shedding these baby teeth like a machine, and right on schedule.

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As we were finishing up, the vet asked me how old he was again (“2yrs 10months 5 days”, it’s totally normal to know that btw) then looked at him and said “he’s huge”. To which I reasoned that technically he’s only like an inch taller than Henry and he’s basically 3 now, so ya know, it’s not that bad. I tell myself that all the time and after a while it totally works. I did say that I’d held off putting a few rides on him because of the timing of his most recent growth spurt and he looked at him again and said “Yeah that’s probably a good idea. He looks like an Ethiopian Warmblood.”.

I died.

That’s probably the most accurate description I’ve heard of Presto yet. He’s definitely very gazelle-like at the moment, maybe mixed with a little ibex and Somali wild ass.

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Presto came out of his sedation well and ate his dinner normally. His mouth is maybe a little sore but it hasn’t seemed to slow down his consumption at all. And with the wolf teeth gone, we’re hopefully finished yanking things out of his body (hey, it’s almost a year to the day since he got his cojones chopped!) and he’s made the right of passage into being a real boy. Or a real Ethiopian Warmblood. Whichever.

Next stop, his 3yo birthday! Which reminds me… which birthday hat does he want?

I can’t quite decide…

Hairy Beast

It’s been probably a solid decade since I’ve had a riding horse who wasn’t getting at least two body clips every winter. This is Texas, it can still be 80+ degrees in the winter (it was last week actually), and it’s difficult to have a horse in full work that isn’t going to die of heat stroke if they grow a lot of hair. As has become usual by now, I clipped Henry for the first time in early October – it was still 90+ degrees so he was DYING – with a plan to clip him again in November. He grows so much coat that only clipping him once, at the beginning of Fall, tends to leave him with a winter coat about the same as that of most other un-clipped horses. If not for the fact that I leave his legs and a saddle patch untouched, by November you would never know that he’d already been clipped. He grows a really thick, long coat.

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And then he hurt himself, so I held off on the second clip. If he wasn’t going to be working, there wasn’t much point in taking the hair off. And then I started riding him again, but not enough to really NEED a clip, and then before I knew it we’d gotten to the end of December and he started shedding. He’s hairy enough to where he really could use less hair when I’m riding on these warmer days, but he’s not struggling, so for now I’ve decided to just leave it.

The main motivation behind that decision? Blanketing. The complication of clipping is of course all the subsequent required blanketing, and blanketing is really really REALLY tricky when you leave the farm at 5:30am and don’t get back until 3:30pm. It could easily be 40 degrees when I leave in the morning, but 70 degrees by the middle of the day. Trying to blanket for that becomes nearly impossible, and obsessing about has already driven me relatively insane.

I have always felt like horses handle being a little chilly much better than being overly hot, especially Henry in particular. I’d much rather he be a little bit cold for the first couple hours of the day than to be standing under a blanket sweating for 6 hours. It’s also been beaten into me from an early age that it’s Very Bad if a horse is sweating under a blanket. They’ll be wet to their core, the blankets will be wet, and if I can’t get them dried off completely, they’ll end up way colder once the sun goes down. It’s not a cycle I want to opt into. Naturally, if they’re shivering then they’re TOO cold (and I will stand there for an obsessively long time staring at them to make sure they aren’t) but generally if they aren’t clipped, then most Texas days it’s better to err on the side of no blanket.

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Presto eating a stick yesterday, as one does

This would all be a lot easier if I could just work for home or be independently wealthy and not have to spend all day at work… then I could just take blankets off or change them throughout the day as needed. Unfortunately that’s not possible, so instead I drive myself absolutely bonkers trying to make the best decision every day.

Presto and the older mare are easy – they’re so freaking hairy I think it would have to be legit arctic for them to even notice, and they’re both pretty hardy. They don’t wear anything unless its really cold, and gonna stay really cold, and/or there’s a possibility that they might get wet while it’s also cold. Which is rare. The yearling got his coat a lot later than the others, but he puffed up quite a bit in December and is now sporting some really impressive 6″ goat hairs on his chin. I’ll put a blanket on that one before I put one on his other two pasturemates, but I also have to be careful because he is by far the most active and runs around so much that he makes himself hot once the day starts to warm up.

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Henry’s butt hairs tho

Henry is the trickiest one. When I was debating clipping him again I thought long and hard about it, imagining what I’d do in all these scenarios if he was clipped. I also considered doing just a partial clip of various styles. But really there’s just no good answer when the temperature swings so much between turnout time and noon most days. Since I already agonize way too much about how to dress the horses, I decided to not add any more stress to that unless I absolutely have to. He’s not going to any important shows, and he seems ok temperature-wise in his work for now. I’ll just keep trying to shed him out a bit, and if, once we get through February, he seems like he’s getting too hot or taking a while to shed out enough to be comfortable, I can always just clip him later.

The ability to do blanket changes might be one of the very few things I miss about the other barn… the worker was always happy to go pull Henry’s blanket off for me mid-morning. What I’ve noticed I’m NOT dealing with though, for the first winter in… 5 years? No little ulcery minor gas colics, and no skinny Henry. I’ve always had issues with him in the winter, keeping his weight on and battling some other ulcer symptoms. I think it had to do with increased stall time and not enough forage, mostly. But the ground at this farm is nice and sandy so it’s extremely rare that they have to spend much time cooped up, they get a longer turnout time every day, this is probably the best quality pasture he’s ever had in the winter, he’s got more turnout space and moves around a lot more, and I’m able to give him more hay at night than he’s had before. He’s never looked this good in January, and – knock on wood – no tummy issues. He’s also eating the least amount of grain ever for this time of year… I’ve been able to cut it in half, which I’m sure also really helps his stomach.

not skinny

Aside from the blanketing turmoil, keeping the horses at home is quite possibly the best thing ever. I probably won’t stop fretting about blanketing decisions on a daily basis though… it’s my newest hobby and I’m real good at it.

Airborne Again

Henry and I last jumped in early November. And then two days later he did… whatever the hell he did, and was mysteriously and disturbingly lame for almost a month. As soon as I paid a million dollars for xrays and two vet visits and those ridiculous glue-on rubber shoes he was totally fine, so now for the past 7 weeks I’ve been slowly and carefully legging him back up. Am I being ridiculously slow about it? Maybe. But I’d rather err on the side of caution and take the time to get him properly fit and conditioned again. A month off doesn’t seem like much, but we’d been in the middle of legging him back up to regular fitness (it was a long hot brutal summer that he really could not participate in very much) when he hurt himself. A half-fit horse that gets a month off ends up losing a lot of strength and fitness by the time all is said and done. It’s not just the cardio, it’s the muscles and tendons and ligaments that have to be ready for the workload too. There is only one Henry and I cannot replace him.

But now we’ve worked our way back up to a 5 rides per week schedule, and I’ve slowly been lengthening his conditioning days and asking for more in his dressage rides. It’s funny, this is the first time in my life I’ve ever had an actually “made” horse (ie not green or seriously remedial in some way) and god is there ever a lot to be said for that. The first day of pushing all the flatwork buttons was a little rusty, but after that everything came right back as if nary a day had gone by. On Thursday we did a bareback dressage ride and tossed in all his fun tricks – half pass, shoulder in, haunches in, 10m circles and figure 8’s, lengthenings at the trot and canter, counter canter zig zag, halt to canter, simple changes, etc. He did it all. I mean he spooked a lot, and it wasn’t always particularly correct, and I couldn’t get him within 10 meters of C because some kind of imaginary creature lives over there now, but hey. Close enough.

And my abs were SCREAMING the next day. Totally confirmed my theory that we should be riding bareback more often, because nothing quite murders my core like bareback dressage.

So after having had no problems throughout all that, I decided he finally seemed ready to jump again. We got a little rain on Friday and Saturday, which softened up the ground to absolute perfection, and I dragged some jumps out into the smaller flatter pasture, set them small for him (nothing over 2’9″) and in we went.

Naturally, Henry snorted his idiot head off at the coop. He’s only seen it 500 times before, just not in that exact spot. I honestly have no idea how he’s such a good cross country horse. But after a few laps of trot and canter he settled down, and after we’d warmed up I pointed him at the barrels. Where he proceeded to take off from at least a stride away and land bucking. I laughed. I can’t help it, he’s ridiculous.

Once he’d jumped a few warmup fences he leveled out, so we walked, I went and set my phone on the fence and pointed it at the coop to try to get some video, and then we did two courses.

first we jump it this way
and then we jump it this way

We didn’t do much, maybe 20 jumps total. We both still remember how, thank goodness, although my eye is a little off. He didn’t seem to mind, he mostly just seemed happy to be jumping again. It’s definitely his favorite thing.

For as silly as the GluShu’s looked they stayed on really well and seemed to do the trick, so I have no complaints. We were able to transition him back into regular steel shoes (with a leather rim pad) over a week ago and all seems fine so far. I spend so much time obsessively watching every step he takes that he probably thinks I’m an even bigger stalker than I already was, and he’s not wrong. I can’t help it.

Henry looked good coming out of his stall this morning so fingers crossed he feels good this afternoon and we can keep marching along back toward his regular workload! It was definitely nice to be airborne again with my favorite. It feels like home.