Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Saddle dreams at better price? Hell yeah!!

2017 was not a good year for riding..... as a matter of fact it feels like 2017 was a complete wash, and early 2018 was starting out to be the same. Pippi was just "not right." She was not "feeling herself." I know that is vague, but I'm not sure how else to explain it. Her back hurt, she developed a windpuff on her right hock and she just didn't move right. Her cycles seemed to cause her pain and she skipped some. It was like she had ongoing PMS, and she was not happy.

Now I am not going to list all the things that were done to help, let's just say we spent a lot a time down the rabbit hole looking for solutions. Ended the year with a course of Regumate, which helped. (expensive and difficult to administer, but it worked) So in 2018 I made the executive decisions that my instincts were going to rule the day, and after installing a new lightbulb (read about it HERE) ), which helped a lot, we started Depo shots and Pippi is cycling on time with minimal discomfort. Fingers crossed!

So we are back to training YAY!!

I asked Amanda Berges from https://thesaddletree.com/ to come check my saddle.  Amanda is a trainer, rider and highly trained saddle fitter, and was super helpful. Go check out her website for great info.
Amanda had good news, the old Niedersuss wasn't a bad fit, it needed reflocking and new billets, but it was serviceable. The flocking is very hard, and Amanda thought that if nothing else it was aggravating Pippis back pain. While she was there I was able to try a few really great saddles. The first one was not a good fit, and Pippi made it clear that she didn't like it. Amanda watched me walk and trot in it and was decisive in her comment "nope, not a good one."

Then we tried a Black Country Eloquence X.



via GIPHY

The Eloquence X is built on the Freedom Tree, which is a hoop tree. Those are especially built for tanks.(Sorry Pip) Those are especially built for ..... broads.... wide backed, barrel shaped horses, with smaller withers. ie Pippi. I made this collage to show the difference in an Eloquence with a regular tree and one with a Freedrom tree (The Eloquence X) . Above you see pics of Pippis shape.


I think it is quite clear which tree was more suitable for Pippi. Pippi agreed and moved in ways  previously not experienced. She was soft, able to engage hinds better, and was forward and easy. Amanda knew I was not in the market for a new saddle, and assured me that with new flocking the Niedersuss would allow us to have some of the same feelings.
So we said goodbye and that was that....

Only it wasn't! I couldn't stop thinking about that saddle. The way Pippi felt, the way she moved, the way she breathed under me. The way her spine bent, and the short seat which fit her short back. The feeling of having two balanced seatbones, the way the saddle had supported my position without locking me in. The perfect knee blocks, large enough and soft, but still allowing me to draw up my long legs to find my short barreled horse.


via GIPHY

So I googled and googled, and googled some more.... I googled until my googler was sore. I knew what this saddle cost, and it was worth it, but since I really wasn't buying a new saddle my budget for crazy was very low. I mean I didn't need a new saddle, but I totally needed this saddle....I found a few, very few, and pricey.....

Then in the 26th hour of crazy I decided to expand my search. I mean why was I only searching in America? This saddle was English. Take me to England Google! And Google did!

And I found one! ONE!!! The Eloquence X was in York, England. And at a price that made the shipping cost well worth it. Enter Saddles Select of York! Like seriously!!! (I wouldn't blame you if you left this blog right now, and spent the rest of your time looking at their inventory!!

I emailed them, and Charlotte assured me the saddle was great. The pics were amazing, it looked like a brand spanking new saddle. I emailed Charlotte a few times, to be honest, and she was very kind and helpful. Then I Googled a lot more as I needed to find the dirt on Saddles Select of York. It was a lot of money to send sight unseen, but I found no issues, and days later (it was a lot of money, lots of stress, talking about it incessantly, fretting, worrying, hoping, deciding, changing my mind, until hubby said "sigh sigh, sick of this, get the saddle") I paid and then passed out.
Charlotte emailed me and said congrats and that she would ship it first thing Monday morning. She also assured me again that the saddle was perfect!

On Monday it left York, took a 2 hour 45 minute trip to Coventry, where "the parcel was exported from the UK." Then it was in New York customs, for two days, before it finally made it to Ohio, and my house the next day. Yes, I tracked it like a bloodhound! I stared at the box for quite a while, then gingerly opened it and marveled. It was well packaged in a re-inforced box with bubble wrap around the saddle. I lifted it out and realized that the pics had not done it justice.


This saddle was "used?"  The billets didn't even have creases in them! Not a mark on it. No horse smell either. Just clean, soft, luxurious leather!
If Charlotte had been handy I would have kissed her! High fived and kissed her again! I am thrilled, and after a few rides now, it is clear that Pippi is too. Lateral work? can do! Canter - how long lady? She is loving this new freedom feeling. I'm Horse Poor - but thrilled!

To read more about the Black Country Eloquence X, go here! 

To check out Saddles Select of York (tell them Malin sent you) click HERE!! GO NOW!! 

If you live in the midwest and need a saddle fitter - contact Amanda



Wednesday, May 9, 2018

WANTS VS NEEDS

I think we all have dreams of what we would like to do and have. All kinds of  wants and wishes and day dreams. My list is long, and I am day dreamer of epic proportions.
I dream of (in no particular order):

New windows
Paying off my sons student loans
Throwing an epic destination wedding for my daughter
Hauling my horse in my very own trailer behind my very own truck
New gutters
etc etc

but you know what? All of those are "wants," and not "needs" and for that I count myself very lucky. After almost 20 years providing housing and rental assistance for low income tenants, I know very well what the difference between the two are. And so I wrote a little mantra to remind myself when I need to buck up and get a grip.


I DO NOT HAVE ALL THAT I WANT,
BUT I HAVE SO MUCH MORE THAN I NEED.
THAT DOES NOT MAKE ME STOP THE WANT,
BUT IT DOES REMIND ME OF MY GREED.


And when that is not enough I enjoy watching Ellen give away money and cars etc, to some very cool people. Here is an example:






The looks on their faces, and the knowledge that their lives had a real lift, makes me so happy. Often these are people with a real need, whose lives will be substantially better for that car or that money. So if you are feeling a little down over wants not coming true, do what I do, and watch Ellen give something away. Just google "Ellen gives" and you will see loads of examles.



And you know what else?  "Be kind to one another!" 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A $3 Fix?

I have not posted in a while, but wanted to tell everyone about something that made a huge difference in my mare. Pippi has been dealing with cycle pain (back pain, moodyness, spooky, not cycling right) for the last year or so. Had her on Regumate for a few weeks last fall, and may have to go that route again. Tried lots of things....


But in my quest to find anything that could help her, I read about the Equilume lights and the extensive research they did. Mares stop cycling due to lack of sunlight in winter months, and breeders are using these lights to kick start their cycles and control when it happens. So that got me thinking about Pippi...... So I went to my local hardare store, and purchased a $3 full spectrum LED light bulb. My BO installed a timer and my mare is now bathed in white light 12 hours per day if in her stall. (She is obvi turned out too, but with an old tendon injury and a super wet winter/spring that is not as much as we would like some days). So we flipped on the light and crossed fingers. I knew that one sign, beyond a mood change, that it was working, was if she started shedding. All the other horses were, but not her, and the chemical changes in her brain due to more light should trigger that response (if she was high melatonin due to low light that is). In esssence the light should trigger seratonin, which would burn off the sleepy chemical melatonin, which would be causing a foggy brain and moodiness, ie spooky bitchy mare. I am simplifying a bit here. 

Two days later, I walked down the aisle and Pippi rumbled and attempted to go past BO who was cleaning her stall to get to me. Her eyes were soft, and she was just a new active and energized horse. I took her blanket off and she was starting to shed out! I lunged her without any issues. Walked by the flapping tarp and she was fine, where for weeks she has been a loonytoon.
I did not discuss this with a vet before trying, because its a light bulb. Being from the north myself, I know that some people are really bothered by the lack of sun. Turns out my mare is one of them. I am not saying this was her only issue with her cycle, but it helped and I just wanted to share in case anyone else has similar issues going on and access to $3 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Fave Christmas Gift

I got this shirt as a gift this past Christmas, and I love it. Perfect for riding or skiing/hiking. Great fit. Long sleeves and is keeping its shate and color great afte washings.

So here is a link:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Oats and Vitamins at a better price.


As you may know I changed Pippis diet to all oats about a year ago, which I am very happy with. She eats two scoops per day of oats, which naturally has around 12% protein. Just ask those Quaker Oats people how great oats are! Pippi is doing great on this, and keeping her weight just fine. And it's kinder on the wallet!


My personal feelings are that if we know that eating unprocessed clean foods is best for us, then why are we feeding processed feeds to our horses? I was feeding the local feed store oats, but they were starting to be rather dusty, so I switched to Tractor Supply Oats.TSC price matches, so I am getting my 50lbs bags for the feed store price of $9.70. With this unprocessed feed I can see what I am feeding, if it looks clean (not dusty). Unlike pelleted feeds, where they can change the ingredients or amounts without you have any idea. Better read those labels.

With the oats, I feed a multi-vitamin supplement and she has lose minerals/salt. I used to buy it at TSC for $19.99 (Farnam) per month. But in my constant goal to save money I found a great alternative in Vitaflex. I now get a 160 day supply for $57.14 shipped to my house in two days for free since I have Prime Shipping.



It has the antioxidants I used to pay $30+ a month for, Magnesium, Lysine and so much more. Click link to see ingredients. I used to feed Magnesium alone and now I don't have to.

I am very happy to save money and time, and in essence getting more. So I thought I'd share...

Also I have stopped giving Pippi any joint supplement as I saw no difference in her at all. Still searching for a solution to her back issues and cycle pain. Seeing a new Vet on Friday - fingers crossed!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Is your horse "happy" to work? is it?

I just want to say right up front, I DON'T HAVE THE ANSWER to this question that I have been pondering since about April 2013. I guess the closest I have come to an answer is: It depends.....

 Let me give you some background:

I was riding in a clinic, the 2nd clinic of my, at that time, short riding life. The trainer was someone I respected, and even admired, and I was excited to be a "real" rider. I was new to riding, and was new to Pippi, but Pippi was not new to being ridden. And being a mare, she held all the cards. As we walked and eventually trotted around the indoor arena, Pippi kept stopping at the gate to the aisle. I urged her on, and after a circle, she stopped at the gate again. Tried walking me out the arena, clearly saying "we are done here." The trainer urged me on saying "Don't let her get away with that. You work 8 hours per day, she can give you 45 minutes."

Now in essence that makes sense right? Pippi is a working animal, I am a working animal, we have jobs to do. In some ways I am her employer. I have work for her to do, and in return I pay her in housing, feed, excellent health care and treat her well. Among other perks such as massage.... I don't ever get massages at my job!! EVER!! You know what, let's not go down this road of how she is treated better than I am..... (I have had one manicure this year! ahem.....)



We all want our horses to be "happy" in their work, right? But are they always going to be "happy?" I mean doesn't work just kind of suck, even on a good day? Wouldn't most horses, on most days, chose a breezy field with fresh green grass over being ridden? Okay, please spare me the "my horse loves to work" comments ok?  Not minding it, and loving it are two very different things! I'm sure you have all heard the comments "I don't even have to tie up my horse to tack him up, he just stands still and loves to work." Seriously? Is he loving it, or has he been trained to do so? That's like saying "my dog loves to "SIT!" when I tell him to." Or "my child just loves to clean her room." All I am saying is that the shear fact that they comply, without a fuss, is not proof of "loving to work." Using that logic I must love doing the dishes, or scrubbing toilets! But I digress (I always wanted to use that line! yay)

We all want our horses to be "happy" in their work right? But are they always going to be "happy?" To progress, get better, learn new skills, get fit, improve communication, well, that stuff is physically and mentally tiring, so how do you do that and make sure your horse is "happy?" Yep, you can change the way you train and not be too repetitive. You can go for a trail ride, you can cross train, etc...... but in the end you are taking up your horses time, expending energies both mental and physical, with pursuits the horse didn't really pick to do.

Let me insert here that I am not talking about a horse that is in pain and is therefore showing signs of being "unhappy" (ie tail swishing, balking, general non compliance, rushing, refusing leads, bucking, etc.) I am talking about a horse that is being ridden and is not enjoying it because they are being encouraged to work harder, and encouraged to learn new skills. There is a balance here that we must all strive for, and I think anyone who has ridden for awhile has failed at this. Failed at reading the signs; pain versus general resentful grumpiness. Is your mare swishing her tail because she is getting physically tired, or is she in pain? To get fit, we must push to the point of tired, and the signs of that sure look a lot like "unhappiness." Is your gelding resentfully throwing in a buck after a lead change, because he is sick of it, or actually sick?

I have been using quotation signs around the word "happy" (see I did it again) to illustrate the uselessness of that word when talking about a horse at work. We have all heard the statement "if you love your job, you will not a work a day in your life." Yeah right!!?!! (sarcasm - gotta love it) My job is quite fulfilling, but sometimes I don't like it at all. It pays my bills, and gives me security but if staying at home with the pay was an option, well, I'd take it! In a heartbeat. So I do the job, and I guess if I was a horse, that would mean I'm "happy" right? Cause I'm doing it with minimal fuss.

Clearly I am talking in circles here> The bottom line is as equestrians we have a responsibility to make sure our equines are as "happy" as they can be in their jobs. We need to be soft and giving riders who perfect our skills to be clear and precise and take care of our horses needs, both mentally and physically. We need to keep our egos in check, and realize that our goals may or may not happen, and we need to be good partners to our horses to ensure everyone has a good time working. But it is work. And work is hard, and can get challenging, especially for someone who sees no real value in it.....

Like I said, I don't have the answers, I just keep pondering and mulling and looking at my mare and trying to find a balance. It's really just a "need" versus "want" issue at its core. I have learned that I shouldn't be surprised that a horse seems "happier" when not being asked to expend much energy or effort. I mean I am happier on vacation too. Doesn't mean work is bad for me though.... I am "happier" eating chocolate than I am walking up the hill for exercise in my neighborhood. Imagine how "Unhappy" I would be if walking that hill wasn't my idea in the first place, and all my friends were at my house watching Netflix and eating junk food. I have also learned not to judge a rider with an "unhappy" horse, any more than a judge a mom with a kid crying when they leave the pool. Maybe that kid just fell and hurt itself, or maybe it just really wants to swim more, or maybe that mom is truly abusive and is pinching that kid under that towel. Or maybe the kid has a fever!

Not sure I expressed any of what I meant to say here. Just know your horse, and know that sometimes they are in pain, and sometimes they are just not "not feeling it today." You will know the difference, or not..... I just think the idea that only horses in pain, or being used/trained/ridden wrong, would be a grouch to ride. That's too simplistic to me, as though horses do not have preferences, and days where they are more willing than other days. I mean...... you have met a mare right?






Sunday, February 12, 2017

DIY - Horse Show Ribbon Belt



I decided to use some of my Horse Ribbons that were just gathering dust to make myself a "good luck belt" for riding. I think it turned out well. I actually made it last year, and it has held up better than I dreamed. Here are some info about the steps:

1. Select ribbons and segments of the ribbon you like.

2. Measure the width of the belt, or is that the breadth? What a mean is, not the length around the waist of the belt, but how wide is it? Double that and make yourself a template (make a tiny bit smaller than double the width) to use when cutting segment of the ribbons.

3. Lay your template on the ribbon, making sure you place the part of the ribbon in the middle of the template. Cut and put aside. Keep doing that until you have enough ribbons cut to cover the belt as much as you want.

4. Go to your iron, and turn it on to satin. Make another template the exact width of your belt, or use the belt, and press the sides of the ribbons to make little rectangles.
Make sure you iron it so the side you wants out is out. :)


5. After ironing them all into desired shape, place them onto belt with pins, pick a cute stitch on your machine and stitch them all on.
My daughter modeling the belt on regular jeans

6. I decided it would be smart to secure the gaps between each ribbon, and decided to hand stitch that with a bead to add some subtle bling. You could just stitch that on your machine too....



Here is a video showing what the belt looks like, and with some short hints on how to make it.

Please comment with any questions.