Filler Fun

Things have been pretty busy and I keep forgetting to upload photos that go with what I’ve written, so here is a filler post (stolen from L at Viva Carlos).

  1. Do you actually always pick the horse’s feet? Always? Really?
    • Yes! Do people really not? I can admit to forgetting a time or two but I’ve never intentionally just not picked them. The one time I wouldn’t do it would be the one time there is a boulder in one of his hooves.
  2. What is the biggest obstacle/reason preventing you from becoming a professional or competing full time with ease?
    • I like being an ammy. Plus, being a pro requires you to actually know how to ride…
  3. Do you think it will ever not be about the money?
    • That depends on what “it” is. Riding? For me, I think it will always be about my resources (i.e. money), but I do wish it wasn’t. In general, I think enough hard work and dedication combined with talent can get you anywhere you want to be.
  4. What is one weakness in your riding that even your trainer doesn’t pick up on, only you?
    • Well, considering I don’t exactly have a trainer right now, everything.
  5. What is the biggest doubt/insecurity you ask or tell yourself in your head?
    • I mostly just second guess my distance and whether or not we will make it over the jump. We almost always do and its in my head.
  6. There is a barn fire. You are the first person to discover it and see that the roof is collapsing in slowly, and you can tell that it’s going to come down any time. Do you call people first, or head in straight to save the horses?
    • How morbid. I would go for the ponies, obviously, but why can’t I call someone at the same time?
  7. What is one event in your riding career/horse/anything that you’re still not over, even though you might tell others you are?
    • More than anything, I wish I had gotten into the hunter/jumper world a little earlier and had “pony days.” That being said, I wouldn’t change my showing and time with Angel for a second.
  8. Have you ever seen questionable riding or training practices, but let it go/ignored it? How do you feel about it in hindsight?
    • I’ve seen more things that I don’t agree with as opposed to “questionable practices.” I normally just keep my mouth shut because it isn’t my business, not my horse, and not my place to butt in.
  9. What is your biggest source of caffeine that gets you through the day? (drink, not just brand).
    • Coffee, hands down. Though my co-worker has recently introduced me to the magical goodness that is black tea.
  10. One token of advice a fellow rider/trainer/horse person told you that you still remember to this day. 
  11. How do you tell when a horse likes someone/has bonded with you or someone else?
    • I think it is an individual thing, but you just know. It took a while before Ax stopped staring at me with his eyes glazed over and actually realized he was stuck with me.
  12. Are horses capable of loving, in your opinion?
    • Are they capable of eating?
  13. If you could have one horse from your past come back for 5 minutes, who would it be, why, and what would you do with them in those 5 minutes?

    • Ziggy. I owe the giant chestnut that helped me get back into riding after a nasty fall a huge hug and a thank you.


Tack Talk

A question was circulating for a while asking people to describe what they use for tack on their horse and the reasoning behind each piece. If you couldn’t give a reason as to why a certain piece of tack was used, it was suggested that maybe you shouldn’t be using it or you should to expand your knowledge to understand how it works.

A lot has changed since the last time I wrote about what tack I use on a daily basis—not only what I use, but also why. Hellomylivia did a breakdown of her tack and why she uses it, so I am jumping on the bandwagon.

Along with being a chronic interferer (his nickname is Clicker), Ax brushes his hind fetlocks together on occasion so I like to use some protection on his legs. I prefer open fronts on the front legs for the intended purpose of tendon protection with space for a little feeling if they hit a rail. For hinds, I don’t have a preference over open front or ankle boots—I don’t notice a difference either way.

Eskadron AiR FlexiSoft Open Front Boots
For a full set of schooling boots, these are my favorite. I love the tab closure on them because its super easy to use as opposed to the velcro on my Equifits. The hard outer-shell is nice for when he whacks himself and the vents keep his legs cool.

Equifit T-Boot XP2 Boots (discontinued)
I save these more for showing because they look pretty and the liners clean nicely. My one dislike is that the hinds collect arena sand like no other and I worry about them irritating his legs, especially with consistent use.

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Saddle Pads
I use a range of saddle pads for non-slip, padding, and sweat absorption.

Thinline Non-Slip Pad
Lately, (as Ax’s topline has changed) my saddle has begun slipping back about an inch and a half throughout my rides which can’t be good for his back. I use this pad directly under my saddle pads to help prevent the slippage until I get the flocking on my saddle adjusted.

Ogilvy Baby Pad or Lettia Coolmax Baby Pad
The Ogilvy is hands down my favorite baby pad aside from the lack of girth loop. The super v-shaped withers are the best thing since sliced bread and they dry super quickly after a sweaty ride. The Lettia one has girth loops (yay) and does a nice job wicking away his sweat on hot days.

Ogilvy Half Pad or ECOGOLD Flip Half Pad
I use a half pad every ride, without fail. Ax’s back is super sensitive so I like to give him a little extra protection and shock absorption. I could go into depth about them, but I have reviews here and here.

The reason for a girth is obvious, to keep your saddle on your horse—duh.

Professional’s Choice SMx VenTech Girth
I hate fuzzy girths and am too lazy to clean a leather girth, so I picked this one up on sale. It does the job, though it isn’t really as breathable as it should be.


Saddle and Fittings
A few more obvious reasons—a saddle is to ride in, leathers are for your stirrups, and stirrups are for your feet.

2003 Amerigo Close Contact (CC) saddle
This beauty is new to me and so far so good. The seat is a bit large for me and goes farther back on Ax’s back than I would prefer, but it puts me in a nice position on him and it has great wither and shoulder clearance. Like I said, the panels could use some reflocking to fix the slippage problem caused by his shoulder/wither area, but it is the best fitting saddle I’ve found for him that isn’t a custom.

Bates Stirrup Leathers
I am not a fan of Bates products, but these came with my old saddle and are pretty good quality. They’ve lasted quite a bit of time and feel nice and supple.

MDC Hunter Classic Stirrup
As we know, I tried jointed stirrups and hated them, so I got these on sale. I love them. The wide footbed gives a ton of support for my weak ankles and they look nice too.

I use a few different bridles depending on how my rides have been going and what I am doing.

Rodrigo Fancy Stitched Padded Bridle
This is my go to bridle for every day. It looks nice, has held up really well since I got it, and does the job. I have a second one that is reserved for showing.

Rodrigo Figure-8 Bridle
Fun fact: I actually find that Ax goes better in this than a hunter bridle. The figure-8 gives the bit more stability in his mouth which I think he likes. I’ll throw this on if he has been getting fussy or if I am using my elevator. Again, it is good quality and whoever owned it before me oiled the crud out of it so it is buttery soft.

Micklem Competition Bridle
I love this thing. I use it as a mild bitless bridle and Ax loves it—I’m sure he would prefer to go bitless all the time. It is great for days when we are just having a light hack or trail ride and when I find him being a fussy mess.

Ax is super iffy about his mouth and anything you put in it—he is sensitive, and can’t have too much play or he won’t reach into the contact, but still needs a bit of play to keep him there. I am bit swapper and don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing, especially when you have a horse that is finicky. I still don’t believe that I have found the bit for Ax, but I am also not sure if there is one single bit that will work for him all the time. The ultimate goal would be to get him into the same bit for fences and flat.

Happy Mouth Double Jointed Dee
This is my go to bit for everyday. For flat, this is perfect and the best as far as him reaching into it nicely. I like to think that the rubbery part and the french-link aspect are softer on his sensitive mouth than a normal metal bit. Unfortunately, he can get a bit strong over fences in this at the moment, which it isn’t ideal.

Waterford Dee
This would be my second in command to the Happy Mouth. The flexibility and softness makes this bit great for jumping (when Ax gets a bit excited and forgets I’m up there), but makes getting him to stretch into the contact quite difficult. It requires a bit more work on my end to get nice contact from him, but it is my favorite for over fences.

Happy Mouth Pessoa Double Jointed 2-Ring Elevator
This sucker is the newest to my bit collection. It is saved for the days when Ax is being a big strong jerk, when I’ve had a few iffy over fences rides and need to remind him who is in charge, and when we school in the field. I typically ride with the rein on the large ring to keep the leverage action a little milder.


Show Prep Routines

While I have been horrifically failing to do the #heelsdownchallenge each month, I couldn’t ignore this month’s topic—what is your competition ritual?

As I am packing and prepping for our first multi-day show in over a year, I found myself needing to brush up on how the heck to get ready and what the heck to pack.

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Month Before
I start my preparations by calling my parents and begging convincing them to take the time out of their busy Friday to drive across the state to come pick Ax up and bring him to the show. Sure I am an adult, but that doesn’t mean I can or should be driving a horse trailer, so that I have to rely on them to drive us around like children.

This is when I body clip if I need to. Ax is a Sweaty Betty, especially at long shows where we are standing in the sun, so I like to keep his coat nice and short.

Two Weeks Before
Around this time, I panic about packing and make myself a list of everything that needs to be packed and everything that I need to do before Show Day. This usually includes making a million versions of the list since I always think of more things that I need to bring and do.

This is also when I try on my show clothes and realize that my shirt is missing a button, breeches are stained, or gloves are missing so I have to make a mad dash for the tack shop (or my computer) to purchase whatever is damaged.

Week Of
Time to actually start packing things and crossing things off of my list.

Probably develop temporary insomnia due to fretting about things that could go wrong.

Two Days Before
Quadruple check that everything is packed and that I haven’t forgotten the essentials. I’ll do this a bajillion times before I feel like I have truly brought everything I need.

Do any last minute trimming of whiskers, fetlocks, and such.

Look at my tack and decide to do it tomorrow when I’ll be super stressed and have no time to do it.

Day Before
Clean my tack that probably should have been pre-cleaned the week before.

Bathe my dirty horse and fight with him over cleaning his face until he inevitably gives in.

Braid my now-clean horse because I am too cheap to pay a professional to do it even though mine look like they were done on the dark (because they probably were).

Bubble wrap and cover every speck of my horse in an effort keep him clean for the night.

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PC: OTM Photography