Thursday, October 26, 2017

Product Review, Big Dee's padded halter and lead


A few months ago Stella's leather turnout halter finally kicked the bucket during a trailer loading moment.  The leather simply fell apart with one good tug on the leadrope and I was left with a loose horse, luckily at home!  An important reminder to check your tack on a regular basis for signs of wear and tear.  Also, always care a spare halter on your trailer!  I can't say I was super surprised, she has worn it daily for turnout in all sorts of weather for at least two years, and Annie wore it before that (sniff).




While I'm fine with Nylon halters I like the look of a leather halter more, and there are literally hundreds of options such as this stunning twisted leather Premiera Vienna halter from 20X60 tack for a quick $119.95.  A stunning show halter no doubt, but not something I ever want to see rolling around in the mud or the rain or pretty much anywhere near my filthy beast.





I finally settled on the Padded Leather Horse Halter and Lead from Big Dee's.  On sale for just $39.  It looked decent in the videos, and satisfied my need for a padded leather halter that was nice enough it could go to lessons but not so nice I'd feel queasy letting her get turned out in it.  I chose padding because sometimes she gets rubs in the summer when she sheds, and I also wanted a throat snap and double buckle crown for ease of removal and adjustment.


Big Dee's even has a handy little Youtube video demonstrating its qualities.  I looked at a few more halters in the same range that came with name plates, but I've never had good luck with nameplates surviving regular wear.  As a bonus this came with a free matching show shank, something I had vaguely considered buying at some point just in case I felt Stella had a chance at being a halter horse.  Snicker.



Overall I was pleased with the quality of the halter.  It isn't something I'd parade around at an A show in, but it has good quality leather, is highly adjustable, and there were enough measurements to determine size.  The padding is nice and soft and seems to be protecting Stella's face during the break in period.  The leather is sturdy enough you don't feel like it's going to snap when you have to knock some sense into a frisky horse, but soft enough it isn't causing sores.

Here's the halter after a solid week out in the rain and mud.  I think the cob size is average, I'm picky about my halters and I like them to sit on the first or second hole on either side of the crown.  If it's done all the way up it's too big. 



Please excuse the mare face. 




close up of the workmanship and some mud!


The lead shank is OK for local open shows.  It's a nice color, and has a 24 inch long chain, but the leather is covered in a thin plasticy type layer, and where it sat wrapped up in the store you can feel bubbles where the surface has started to separate.   I'll keep it around for when I decide Stella has a career as a halter horse. 


What do you like for a turnout halter and how much do you like to spend?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Product Review, Ovation helmets

I'm an eventer on a budget.  A shoestring budget.  Make that a Velcro closure budget, only the generic hook n loop fastener type and not the actual brand name type because I can't afford brand name.  If you're looking for reviews of the latest $600 helmet, please move on.  Although, if someone wants to send me one to review I'll be more than happy to!

Helmets are an important part of safety, and I believe in wearing a helmet EVERY SINGLE time I'm on a horse.  What I don't believe in is that the more expensive helmets are any safer than the cheaper helmets.  There is no safety rating scale.  Helmets either pass or fail.  So when I helmet shop I want something that fits, something that is affordable, and something that doesn't look out of place with what everyone else is wearing.


For my everyday and XC phase helmet I chose the Ovation Protege helmet which runs about $40 from various tack shops.   This helmet looks very similar in design to the popular with eventers Tipperary Sportage helmet for half the cost.  It has a low profile look, an adjustable dial on the back, and comes in every XC color you could imagine.  With the price I don't have to worry about tossing it calressly in my tack trunk, or running into a tree branch on the trail (shut up).  An excellent value for your money.



Here's the helmet in action.



For my show helmet I purchased the Ovation Z-6 Glitz helmet for $67.00 with their perpetual %25 off coupon from Statelinetack.  I fit in the same size as the Protege.

For under $70 this doesn't look like a cheap helmet.  It looks expensive, with the leather brim and harness, and the white stitching.  It has an adjustable dial in the back to perfect your fit, and has a very low profile look from the front and sides.  I like the multiple vents to keep my noggin cool during hot summer show days.   I really like the blingy stickers and I've had multiple comments, both at horse trials, and at hunter shows where hunters tend to have much more conservative helmets.  It even comes with a nice helmet bag to keep it looking its best in between shows.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hunters, the rebuilding year?




A week after our utter failure of a horse trial I decided on a whim to head to a hunter show.  It was just 45 minutes away, and being a hunter show has the added bonus of accepting on the spot entries, as well as adds and scratches as I changed my mind through the day.  This lead to several hours of frantically googling "current HJ fashion"and seeing if I had anything that wasn't horribly out of date. 

Then we showed up, hit the ring to school over some of the fences (love this about hunter shows). had some issues due to my nerves but didn't have a ton of time to fix those issues before the ring closed so I signed up for some divisions, and waited.  And waited.  And waited. 

I popped over to watch a friend in the 2 foot jumper divisions and was glad I hadn't entered those classes.  They hadn't been able to get some of their filler under 2 feet so the course looked "intimidating" and I suck at memorizing courses on the fly.  This divison was a mixture of normal and terrifying.  When speed wins it's easy to let children tear around at 90mph on their horses since you don't really need to have proper distances to leave such small fences up. 

I also noticed a direct correlation between the turnout and the round.  The students on dirty or thin horses wearing poorly fitting tack and clothing were more likely to be terrifying, to have stops, or to just plain hit the dirt.  I think turnout has a direct relation between the quality of the instruction and I hope that these children don't give up when they've hit the ground one too many times. 

As the morning wore on I felt the need to get out immediately, get over a tiny fence or two, and deal with some issues.  I had initially entered in the (don't laugh) 18 inch division but when warming up over fences produced some serious anxiety I decided to throw in a few X rail rounds (don't laugh).  As morning turned into afternoon and I needed to get back into the ring before dark I decided to add an on the spot ground pole EQ class (ok, you're totally laughing now). 

It was quite humorous as Stella hand galloped down the lines, launched 4 feet into the air over her ground poles but we got 2nd!  I'm not sure that's something to write home about but I'll surly blog about it.  It was eye opening to feel my nerves being back in a ring a week after our fail, especially over such a non event as ground pole EQ. 

During my X rail classes Stella stopped at the first fence.  Was it the flowers or my lack of a backbone?  We will never know.  After that I pulled my head out of my ass and started to think about riding.  One of the things I like about hunter courses are the predictable lines.  I worked on focusing on my strides down the lines and my release and it helped to focus me and calm my nerves. 

We ended up doing one more course, over the X rail course in the other direction (most hunter X rail courses are simply twice around the outside lines, because hunters think at this stage cutting across the diagonal is too much for a novice rider).  This one was fairly nice.  She stayed on the same lead so I didn't have to think about a simple change, and we got the same number of strides in each line. 

I was going to get the heck out of dodge, having promised my recupterating boyfriend that I would be home by noon (we didn't even ride until noon!) but I chatted with a few people I knew then decided to stick around for ribbons.

Imagine my surprise when we took fourth out of 10!  Pretty good for a terrified adult and her unconventional horse.  On the way back to the trailers I bumped into the judge who I thanked for her time at the charity show.  She complimented my horse and said that she was a nice hunter and that if I cleaned up my flatwork (surprise!) I would find myself pinning in decent company!

What a pick me up!

So, still lots to think about.  Are Stella and I a suitable pair for jumping period?  Will I solve the show nerves problem?  How do I fix our XC warm up explosions?  Do we switch to hunters where we can work on nerves over multiple rounds?

Stay tuned for next week! 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

October HT wrap up


My BIG MOVE UP at the October show was a big fat fail. 

This is me, dismounting off of Stella in the middle of a massive XC melt down in which she got eliminated the day before and snorted around part of her derby course like she'd never been in a field before, got eliminated the next day in stadium at fence three, and lost her freaking mind when I was stupid enough to think that all our schooling experience would make a difference and we could just treat XC like a schooling day.

This happened a few weeks ago and I've honestly just not blogged about it because, well, it's sad.  I feel like a failure.  I don't feel like I'm riding terribly.  Not as well as in lessons for sure.  But this?  To get this kind of behavior just because I'm nervous?  Is it all me?  Do my nerves cause this dramatic behavior?  Have we just not warmed up for an XC show enough that it had her this on edge?  

So it's hard for me to find a going forward from here point when I'm not sure where here is.  Keep taking lessons and working on my nerves?  Stop showing until I'm comfortable 6 inches over what I'm showing at?  Continue showing at a much lower height until I'm comfortable and confident at that height.  Sell Stella and buy something more suitable?  Hard to wrap my head around when I feel like we've been improving as a team all summer.  

Bleck.







Friday, October 13, 2017

Stella gets her XC groove

I feel like I've made significant progress this summer going schooling, including a second trip to our local horse park in which I jumped a BN fence!!!

My summer program of trail ride XC school trail ride XC school trail ride XC school seemed to be working fantastic. 

After two slightly squeamish XC schools and one another much more positive XC lesson I finished it out with three solid performances.  Zero stops, bolder and bolder.  Jumping strange fences out of stride. 


My last XC school before the October HT was AMAZING!  Stella was game, forward, and brave.  I took note of how well she has been galloping away from the group, an issue I have not had occur the entire summer.  She also didn't have any issues with how busy the place was, there were people galloping all around her and she kept her mind on her job.

She's still fantastic in the water!  So happy my hard work trail riding paid off.  She does want to stop in the middle and have a drink which is humorous but might land me as the only eventer to get dumped in the MIDDLE of the water when she screeches to a halt!



She's also been great on drop fences, something I also attribute to trail riding.  I'm still a bit of a mess, but hey, what's new?


We did our first sunken road!  Love the game face.



Not so much to love about our leap up the sunken road.  Dramatic much?


Our only stop of the day was at this ditch.  We've done natural ditches before no big deal but nothing like an eventing ditch.  This stop was my fault.  I ambled up to this without direction or purpose and Stella had no idea why she couldn't just go around. 


I represented her and no hesitation whatsoever!



Here we are going both directions like real eventers!


Did I mention all the galloping?  Stella did a lot of taking me to my fences, like a real eventer.  She wasn't running away in the gallop, she had good pace and rhythm and listen to my adjustments. 


Finally, Squeeee!!!!!!  Jumped this like a pro and left plenty of air between her and the fence!  I was super proud of myself, this is a little big to me and even though I've jumped it three weeks in a row I'm always EEEPPP it's real fence sized!  But I have been so good about keeping my leg on and building to the base that it jumped great. 


After this school I thought we were more than ready for our big move up at the October show! 


Mojo

 Hello all,  Life has been busy and I have not felt I've had anything worth blogging about.  Or that my blog is particularly interestin...