Monday, December 26, 2016

Spotted Gecko Designs



Merry Christmas everyone!!!  I hope everyone had a great holiday and you got some great horsey gifts!

I love horsey gift shopping for my friends because it's so easy to do.  Simply find something that I think is awesome and buy it for someone else.  Not for me.  Ok, maybe also for me.  

Over the last few years I've had a few things that have grown legs and walked at horse shows, things like brushes and whips often look just like your neighbor's brushes and whips and get picked up.  Sometimes they come back, sometimes they don't.  I've been thinking of unique and permanent ways to mark every day items to prevent this from happening, and to make them a little more special.  

I started my hunt for personalized brushes for a friend, I found several sources but some of them were way out of my budget, or the seller didn't have very good communication so I was worried about the transaction. Finally I found what looked like just the right match on Etsy.

Etsy is a great place to find personalized items from small business owners,  I've been looking at browbands and bonnets recently, although I do wish they had an "equestrian" section to make it easier to look at all the options in one spot.  One of my favorite small businesses, Higher Standards Leather Care started out on Etsy as well.  

Spotted Gecko Designs had exactly what I wanted.  They were crazy fast answering my questions, sometimes replying back in less than 2 minutes!  They were super patient with me when I realized I could have ANYTHING EVER engraved on my gift brushes!  I literally spent hours looking at horsey clipart trying to to decide on the perfect one.  THEN I had to pick out the font.  I'm not even getting to what happened when she mentioned that she could do different types of brushes as well.  I finally settled on colored brushes that matched my friend's colors.  


During the entire process Olivia was both patient and helpful, working with me on the entire design process.




She double checked on what I wanted and how I wanted it engraved, and she sent me pictures of how it would look on the brushes before she began the process.


Then she sent me pictures of the finished brush before she shipped them out to make sure she got it totally right.


Due to a delay in shipping that wasn't her fault in any way, she didn't get one of the brushes in time to send it out.  She let me know it was a possibility, updated me during the entire process, and even included an extra gift to make up for the delay, a stock pin done to match the color of the brush.


Isn't that pretty?  I think my friend liked it more than the brush!

The brush and pin arrived just in time for Christmas and the second brush is on its way as we speak.  I can't recommend Spotted Gecko Designs more for their customer service and attention to detail.  I will definitely be back to buy brushes for my friends, brushes for me, and maybe a nice browband for Stella.  

Be sure to check them out and give them your business!


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Winner winner chicken dinner!

I bought a saddle!!!!

I stumbled upon a saddle that was in my price range and looked promising on Ebay.  I did some googling and was excited to find out that tall people hated it!!!  It had a very short and forward flap and anyone over 5' 5" said it didn't fit their leg at all.  Which sounded just about perfect for me!

I had some alarm bells go off talking to the seller and decided to google like mad and see if I could find another one.

Finally I located one at VTO.  It was more expensive than the Ebay find but I could take it on trial and send it back instead of working on reselling it so I decided to email VTO.  I was quite surprised when they told me they wouldn't even consider sending it until I sent them pictures of my horse, and me on my horse.  They didn't want to send me something that didn't look suitable and they were concerned the tree would be too wide.

Pictures sent and they approved enough to send me the saddle.



After a few days on trial they asked for pictures of the saddle on Stella, and me in the saddle.   Looks pretty good!




They analyzed the fit and asked for more specific photos from certain angles




Finally they told me to take a few extra days and make sure I really wanted it.


All of this on a low budget saddle they barely made a commission off of!  The service simply blew me away!   To care on such a level about someone they didn't know was amazing.  I can't recommend them enough.

What do I think about the saddle?  Overall I'm happy to have something that fits Stella well, she seemed to work well in it, going long and low, picking up the bit, and bucking less and less with each ride.

Quality wise I'd say it rates among the newer courbettes which I expected.  It isn't as nice quality as the saddle I'm selling but I think with some oiling and conditioning the leather will improve a bit.  I think it was a good value for my money, and without wasting a great deal of money shipping things back and forth or buying and selling I'm glad it worked out.

Now to get past my busy time of year and work so I'll have some leftover energy to ride in the evenings!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Xmas list

A few days ago I made a Christmas list for the trailer owner, with some ideas of things I thought would be handy to own as a new trailer owner myself.  Today I'm making a list of gifts for gifters on a budget to people who are budget conscious.  In other words, things I'd buy for myself because I'm too cheap to buy the real deal.

These black and white breeches from this Ebay seller.  I've purchased things from them before, and they ship fast and as advertised.  I really like the look of white breeches with black seats, I hate plain white breeches and I think that these break up the vast marshmallow picture and look classy at the same time.


I've been drooling over patent leather dressage bridles for some time now, I think a shiny noseband would look really good on  a horse with a big plain face, I.E. Stella's solid black snozz.  I like this Patent bridle available at Jeffers because it's on sale and still looks quality!


Jeffers carries two other affordable patent bridles, this Uniquely English bridle, and the same bridle with white padding.  I think that the noseband would be overwhelming on Stella's face but it would be great for a bigger headed horse.


Another thing I think is classy but different are rolled nose halters.  A little bit of refined elegance and something a bit different, they look fantastic on small faced horses such as arabs but I've also saw one on a fjord that looked great.  They are available at several retailers, and made by Perris as well as Tory leather.

This one is available at Big D Web

This Ebay seller has a rolled nose option in both 3/4 inch and 1 inch width.  Lancaster Amish goods is an online outlet for Bartville tack, an Amish run tack store in Pennsylvania.  Bartville are the folks who make all the leather for Bit of Britain and is a must visit store but being Amish they can be difficult to get ahold of (service is outstanding).  This Ebay option is a great alternative.


I've talked about the great products and customer service from Higher Standards Leather Care before, they make great smelling soaps that make cleaning your tack less of a chore, and you can get this combo pack with both a soap in your favorite scent and a conditioner for just $31.00


My favorite store Riding Warehouse carries three of their soaps for just $14.95 each and I even have a %15 coupon code for my readers just in case you didn't order quite enough during their %25 sale.


These beta grip reins from Cornerstable Tack, I like rubber reins for their grip but I struggle with how thick the reins are.  These beta grip reins are similar to the Nunn Finer reins in a more affordable price range.


Semi custom half chaps from Millbrook Leather.  I like the look of these semi custom chaps and they look like great quality for the price.  I'm not big on a custom monogram but I like how you can pick your color pinstripe, my only regret being no purple.  Sad face.

In the optimistic view that the next saddle arriving on trial will be THE saddle, I have added a saddle cover to my list.  I've had THREE different cases and busted the zipper on all three, leading me to believe that I'm simply not meant to have a saddle in a case.  I've picked this cover for several reasons.  First, purple.  Duh.  Second, it's padded and waterproof to protect against trailer leaks (grrrr) and cat scratches.  Third, it comes from another tack store I like, Equus Now




That's it for today!  I'll add more gift ideas as I come across them.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Xmas gifts for the trailer owner


Have a horse person in your life who loves practical presents?  Well here's a great guide for the practical gift giver!!  As I'm a cheapskate, I'd like to remind you to shop around for the best price from your favorite store and be sure to report back those prices!

Since I just bought a trailer, these all appear to be trailer themed.

Save room in your trailer by combining your grooming tote with your mounting block, available from most online tack retailers but also Walmart as a "tool box" for much less!





This Trailer Aid is a great tool for the emergency side of the road flat.  Drive your trailer up on this and easily (HAHA) change your flat.


If your loved one likes to keep things organized they even make a special holder to secure it against the wall.


I'm currently using a bucket, as are most of the other thrifty people I know, but if you have someone who likes to store their trailer in style this handy trailer hitch cover can be just the solution


How about this handy tire inflator?  There are several versions of this tool that run off your cigarette socket and let you air up that flat when you're in the middle of the wilderness.

Another emergency device is this battery charger, if you left your lights on and there isn't anyone to give you a jump this can save the day.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Another saddle, another nope

Well, the Smith Worthington saddle my GPS almost got me murdered for has been sent packing.  I can't speak highly enough for the customer service at SW, even though I bought the saddle from a 3rd party. Their saddles are made to last, and they have an excellent fitting service where they can adjust flocking and the tree in the factory.

So many people online suggested them as a hidden gem for people looking at budget saddles and I was really excited to pick one up for a song.  Thankfully, I got it on trial as I had to send it right back.




It appeared to fit Stella well enough, although it did bridge a bit.  SW likes you to ride in their new saddles for a few weeks and then check the fit again before sending it in to be adjusted as new saddles settle a bit as they break in.



I actually felt that the balance was quite good.  My leg swung a bit, but I've been out of a jumping saddle for over a month and it didn't swing nearly as bad as the Stubben (which looked like it fit me).


However, a quick picture of me in the saddle showed that the fit just wasn't right.


It was clearly made for someone with a much longer leg who liked to ride with a shorter stirrup, and even after a break in period would never fit me.  Sniffle.  Back to the drawing board.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

How my GPS tried to get me murdered



You may know that I've been saddle shopping, and the other day I had a saddle scheduled to arrive in the mail and the seller had it marked as sign on receipt so while I tried to be home the entire day Fedex attempted to deliver in the 1 hour window I was gone.  Of course.

I managed to have the package held at their main hub or "Ground" facility after navigating a very frustrating menu  If you've never been to a Fedex facility you should know that it looks like a high security Russian base.  I had to park in a special area, enter a guard shack where the guards were frisking the employees as they left for the day and pick up the special white phone and wait for someone to answer it.  Like the guard literally said "pick up the white phone, wait for someone on the other end to answer, tell them who you want whacked."  I got my package, wasn't arrested for espionage, and was on my merry way.  

Or so I thought.

As I was pulling out I hit "home" on my GPS to allow it to navigate me out of the twisty streets of the manufacturing district.  

"GPS Signal Lost"

What do you mean lost, we're in the middle of the city and not the Hoosier National Forest.  I pull into the straight only lane.

"GPS signal found, turn right here!"

As I was cursing my GPS a couple men in a Corvette with 16 inch rims squealed around me and spit gravel at my truck, apparently the 1/4 second hesitation at the light pissed them off.

"Go straight and turn left on Euclid"

OK GPS, sound fine by me.  Vaguely noticed the Corvette also turned onto Euclid.  Also noticed the first four houses were boarded up.   Hey, the Obama economy hasn't helped everyone.  

Corvette stopped in the middle of the road when it met an older model Caprice with 22inch spinners and a color changing paint job and there was an exchange of items between the drivers.

I continued to follow my GPS instructions and drove through an intersection where two people were filming something with a camera in the middle of the street.

"Turn Left here"

I obediently turned left and bumped into the Corvette again, who had stopped at the street corner and was exchanging something between the driver and a man in a hoodie on the corner.  

I think my GPS is out to get me but decide that's just silly.  GPS don't hold grudges.  They can't hear you loudly swearing as they direct your trailer through 15 traffic circles then abandon you in the middle of nowhere.  Right?  Although I did mentally not that had I been towing the trailer it would have asked me to U turn.  Coincidence.  

"Turn right into this dark one way alley"

I turned right, although quite frankly the directions were a bit suspicious, and there was the Corvette, again stopped at the corner speaking to another pedestrian.  Exchange of something white and something green.  

Having now confirmed my GPS's murderous intent I promptly turned around in someone's driveway.

"GPS signal lost"  

I found my own damn way out of the neighborhood, back to the highway, and to the barn to try the saddle on Stella.  


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Blingy Half Chaps

Back in the spring my half chaps bit the dust, darn zippers never seem to last more than a few years.  I have tall boots but I don't like the hassle of changing out of my paddock boots, and I really want to make them last by only wearing them during shows and lessons.  I know, I'm cheap.

I ordered one pair from Horseloverz that I couldn't even zip up because the size chart was wrong  Half Chap Review.  Since I lost out on the money due to Horseloverz very difficult return policy, I bought a cheap pair off of Ebay from Army Plus who shipped them promptly.   For $27 I can't complain!  They've so far lasted in regular 5 day a week use since June.  I would like them to come an inch taller, sometimes I get pinched right below the knee.  They are a great option for lesson students or someone who wants something serviceable but not expensive.




These totally blinged out fringy half chaps on Ebay are available from Thoroughbred Express Tack Sales LLC.  I think the fringe would get in the way of the zippers, and they don't come in black!  I can't have mismatched paddock boots and half chaps.





I also like this slightly less blingy (HA!) half chaps from Millbrook Leathers for $79.  I like the spanish tops and the alligator print, bling without being BLINGY.  




How do you like your half chaps?  Bling?  No Bling?  Suede or smooth leather?  Spanish tops or easy wear?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Trailer Spiffing

Stella's had an abscess the last several weeks, thus no awesome riding posts from me!  It's given me plenty of time to organize my things for a tack sale (which immediately went to truck tires and a vet visit for Stella) and do more work on spiffing up my dressing room.  It was useable as is, but I wanted it to look, well, nice.

First, I had to finish waterproofing the dressing room.  I had originally used Silicone caulking to seal the gap between the new wood over the rusted out mangers but it started to decay and pull away, letting water in.

After much research I turned to marine caulking.  It was recommended by several people that put living quarters in horse trailers so good enough for me!


Next, I dealt with a roof leak in the horse area and in the dressing room by using Eternabond tape.  It's a great tape like thing that provides a permanent waterproof bond.  It's used on the roofs of RVs all over and works great on horse trailers.  It's very sticky and does not come off once down without difficulty, so use caution and apply straight!


I painted the inside of the dressing room with Rustoleum paint.  It's an oil based paint (you need mineral spirits to remove it), sticks to metal, and prevents rust from coming through the paint as well as stops rust from growing.


I installed a foam puzzle mat over the plywood floor.  It made the trailer look nicer, and provided cushion and some insulation


Here's the dressing room before, you can see the rotted wood in the corner.  I tried to remove this wood but it's bolted onto the outside of the trailer and a panel on the outside actually came loose.   I think I'd have to remove the floor and drop it out the bottom to get it out without damaging the walls so I chose to leave it in and just cover it up.



The other side of the dressing room.  You can see where rust from previous leaks came through.


Here's the puzzle floor going in.  It was simple to instal although I did struggle in the rounded areas cutting it to fit right.



After!!! I used beadboard and just covered up the old wood, and the paint covered up all the rust and made it really bright inside.


Another picture of the paint and floor.  Nice and clean and fresh.


Next, I'd like to cover up the bottom of the mangers and replace the roof vent which leaks.  For now I have a bucket over the vent when the trailer is sitting and that has stopped the water from coming in.

Thoughts?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Horse themed decoration and clothing

Last week I went shopping like a real person, and not to a TSC or tack store!  I know right?   Obviously I spent my time looking at all the horse themed stuff for sale.


Unicorn lamp, picture came out blurry but you can see it in gleaming gold badassery



Every little girl (cough or adult) needs their own toy horse trail to transport their plastic steeds to shows.  This two horse straight load comes with a rear ramp and shipping boots.


Cute horse stall and accessories.



Everyone also needs a unicorn head to mount on the wall of their nursery.   I'm not sure about this one.  Awww adorable stuffed unicorn.  Ewwww, you killed and mounted a unicorn?  Pro hunting and fantasy themes for your baby.



 Finally, something naughty for the adult to slip under their show breeches.  Bonus points for figuring out what to do with the ears.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bell Boots

Today's subject is Bell Boots.

I believe in keeping a shod horse in bell boots at least for turnout, having lost a few shoes before and forked over the extra cash for an emergency farrier trip I would rather spend the money on boots than new shoes.

Stella ripped off her very first shoe less than a week after it got nailed on, and tore off a bell boot under saddle a week later so I think she needs them.  However, she has so far murdered 5 (FIVE!) pairs of bell boots and my pocket boot is feeling it.

The first pair I used on her were the flappy flappy petal kind.  They come in cool colors so you can coordinate, make a ton of cool noises so people can hear you coming, and you can replace the petals easily.


She tore so many petals off in the first couple weeks I gave up on them.

Next up were standard velcro boots.  I like these boots from Roma which cost about $8 from Riding Warehouse  the price is right for replacing them twice a month.  Eeeccckkkk.

What I don't like is how the velcro gets clogged down in mud and eventually stops sticking.  I'm trying to get better about taking them off on a regular basis and hosing them down to clean off the velcro.  However, all the pairs she has ruined have had the stitching torn out before the velcro wears out.  Would this happen with more expensive velcro boots?  I dunno.

I've considered trying the pull on kind, I think they'd last longer with the lack of velcro but I've heard nightmare stories about getting them on and off the horse.  Any thoughts on this?  Do they make more or less sturdy pull on boots that are easier to get on and off?  I see several different kinds of pull ons.

I'm also looking at these Professional's Choice ballistic overreach boots.  Still the problem with velcro but they look like they have a closer fit so she might not step on them as much.



Plus, cool colors!



Those have pretty much been the option for years until Thinline came out with their new Gatorbootz Bell Boots.  They are purported to have a latch that is easy to open by humans, eliminating the struggle with pull on boots, but never by horses, eliminating the velcro issue.  They are a bit pricy at $54.00 a pair but if you aren't replacing velcro boots twice a month the cost quickly adds up.


Has anyone tried the Gatorboots?  Since they don't turn up is the clasp easy enough for my farrier or barn manager to undo when needed?  Thoughts on bell boots in general?

Molly Sue Kinnamon Clinic

Last weekend I participated in a Molly Sue Kinnamon clinic at local dressage/eventing barn  Greystone Equestrian Center .  Although I had s...