Sunday, March 10, 2019

Beyond the Walls

Lately, (UNTIL TODAY!!) with the light in the evenings still not lasting very long I have continued to use the weekends to get the girls out, away from the ring.  I did consider riding in the morning before work but after paying close attention to the light while I am at the gym in the early morning, that's not really going to get me any extra daylight right now.

Now, I am NOT complaining.  It has been 55 in the evenings and I have been riding around in a t-shirt or hoodie.  Our ring is obviously has lights and I can work on the flat, or I can set fences and/or ground rails up.  So there is NO complaining going on at all here!  I absolutely love living here and I couldn't be happier about the move.  Just ask any of my friends I Marco Polo regularly.  "*SIGH* I just love this place" is a regular phrase.

But, I am a person that does NOT like staying in the ring for a week at a time either.  Horses have to get out.  So the weekends have been dedicated to adventuring in some form.  If we're not just hacking out around the neighborhood we are hauling locally.  I have taken both the girls to Lone Mountain Park, they have both went to the state park down the road, and hacked through the neighborhood.

Lone Mountain with Super B.

Getting a bath after we got home and letting everyone know they can bend the knee, and kiss the hoof. 

 Heading down the road to the state park.

Hill work at the state park.

Heading back from the state park.

Enjoying a perfect evening after a bath and an adventure.

Klein mare at Lone Mountain. 

We've been having a blast exploring all the new places around here.  These are just a few and there are so many more!

First Dressage Schooling Show of 2019

Last weekend I put Super B in a dressage schooling show that was right down the road.  I was going to take Klein but then realized there isn't much of a point for Klein right now because she has so many miles and she's so reliable at shows.  I always know what I'm going to get with her.  9.8 times out of 10, if she puts a hoof wrong, it's some error I made.  This made me take Super B instead.

Super B has been to that barn before, though we didn't ride for long there.  We went down there for a saddle fitting with a Custom Saddlery rep to try some saddles.  She was a little wild that night which led the rep to make a comment about how she would get on a horse like Klein (I took Klein too, but I'll be keeping her Trilogy on her), but she wouldn't be inclined to get on a horse like Super B.  But, she did settle down and worked nicely.

I was hoping that time spent there would work to our advantage.  Also, since it was a schooling show it would be a low key atmosphere for her, or so I thought.  I just put her in Intro B & C to keep things easy for her.  She's ready for Training Level though, and First is not far behind. 

There were thunderstorms that day that were coming from the west over the mountains.  We were on the edges of them.  While I never find it acceptable for horses to act stupid because it's windy (um, hello, they live outside...IN WIND), I will give Super B a bit of a pass because there were some horses getting pretty upset and I think that got her wound up.  I was hand walking her around when I unloaded her to just check the place out and some horses in the warm up lost their minds.  B was like "Oh we get crazy here?  I can get crazy too!"  She proceeded to prance around with her tail in the air, snorting.  Silly, but she looked gorgeous. 

The horses at the barn next to where we were ended up tearing around the pasture full blast and one decided he had enough and just jumped the fence and took off.  So that added to the chaos.  Klein would watch all of this and just be amused.  She looks at stuff like that like it's all below her and she would never even consider being so goofy.

Damn girl...  She looks AMAZING right now.  I can't wait to see her in her summer coat.  

After the horse was caught, Super B went back to falling asleep at the trailer before I tacked her up.  I tacked up and headed to the warm up where she was great for the most part.  I still have to figure out a strategy for warming her up.  I figured I would give her more time than I thought she needed...that wasn't the right answer. 

Being a good girl in the warm up.

We went in for our first test and she couldn't halt straight to save her life.  I think it was the glass on the judges booth.  It had a big glass sliding windows and a glare.  Which is again, not really an excuse, but I think it as distracting to her and she wasn't sure what it was.  She has mirrors at home now so she's used to those but the mirrors there are full length so that may have been eye opening as well.

Ok, so here you can see exactly what I was talking about with the glare on the judge's booth.

Square, but not straight.

Butt dapples!

Aside from not wanting to halt straight (she is 100% capable of beautiful square halts when she isn't concerned about things) she was just a little fussy.  After that test we went back to the warm up to work on our canter a little more.  She was being pretty opinionated about it and had also figured out she didn't have her running martingale on.  I have been putting it on her for dressage schools in hopes of helping her kind of forget her bad habit of throwing her head straight in the air. 

I can't really complain though because her head throwing habit was easily 90% worse a year ago.  It has all but went away now.  Most of our rides now she never does it.  I still had the running martingale on her just in case.  It is rare she actually tests the waters with it.  I was torn between using it for dressage schools or not since it's not allowed to be used at dressage shows.  I decided to use it for a little while just to see if it would help get rid of that last bit of her bad habit.  Plus, it only engages when it needs to so it doesn't do anything if she's going nicely.

She started throwing a pretty big fit in the warm up but I did manage to get some nice canters.  The guy running the warm up even offered to let us go last if we wanted so I could have more time.  Initially I thought that was a good idea, then I decided to just go because I could tell part of the issue was B was just kind of over it.  She was wound up and getting frustrated so there was no point to prolong that.  We would just go in and do what we could with what we had.

Not hard to see why she gets comments about her looks on every single dressage test we've ever ridden.

The second test went better than I thought.  She got both her canters fairly quick and held it together until the last trot down the long side before turning back up the center line.  There we were, just trotting down the long side and out of nowhere she did threw her head straight in the air so I quickly turned her in a circle and continued like it never happened.  That's how I always handle it.  She was crooked up the center line and again didn't want to halt straight but we survived. 

*SIGH*  There it is.  We were just trotting down the long side, nicely when this came out of absolutely nowhere.  At least she goes right back to work like it never happened.  

Even with her silliness, she scored in the 60's.  I was surprised.  The judge must have been feeling generous.  I did get comments saying "quiet, tactful rider" and she got comments saying "elegant horse, lots of potential, just fussy today."  So, the judge sees what is there even though she wasn't on her best behavior.  I don't blame her though, she was great at her last dressage show in NJ because she had been to that barn several times.  That's where she scored in the 70's.  THAT is the kind of stuff she is capable of.  I feel like she is still getting her bearings here.  She is 80% settled I would say, but she is still anxious when we go new places here.  She had just gotten comfortable with her new life with me in NJ when I moved her 3,000+ miles away to a place completely foreign to her.  Me, and Klein are her only constants so I can completely appreciate why she is slightly concerned.

I had hoped the whole head throwing thing wasn't something where she was like "oh now that I KNOW the running martingale isn't on I'll just go back to doing this."  So, there will be no more schooling with that for dressage schools.  The next time I rode her at home after that show I didn't have it on, and she was GREAT.  So, it's not the martingale.  It was a combination of being somewhere unfamiliar and craziness going on around her.  She's pretty level headed about A LOT of things and I think she just needs a little more time here and for me to continue taking her out to different places and she won't get so wound up.  Stuff like this is EXACTLY why I took her and not Klein. She obviously NEEDS the miles. 

Afterward, her normal calm while her staff...aka The Other Half, tends to her majesty.

We'll continue to go different places regularly, to include that barn since it's right down the road.  The first couple weeks she was here, even at home (our new home barn) she felt kind of anxious, that has completely left the building, so now I expect the next step is going to be that calm no matter where I take her.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Total Saddle Fit Stability Stirrup Leathers

 Trilogy Verago Elite (Klein's dresage saddle).

Total Saddle Fit has started making Stability Stirrup Leathers.  I have this type of leathers on my jump saddles and I LOVE them.  They made an instant, noticeable difference and I have been a fan ever since, which is the reason my jump saddles all have them on them.  Their "wide-body design brings an unprecedented level of stability to a rider's leg.  The unique design creates a broad contact area on the flap, offering incredible stability unmatched by traditional leathers."

The companies that are making them aren't making them in a dressage length though, until now.  Total Saddle Fit has come out with them in both lengths.  I love them for jumping so much of course I wanted to see how they felt in a dressage saddle.

Custom Saddlery Icon Star (Super B's dressage saddle).

True to form, the leather quality is impressive.  I took them for a ride on two different dressage saddles and they were equally as awesome on both.  They definitely provide a very comfortable, solid base for your lower leg.  Super B can get a, animated sometimes and these leathers even provide some extra stability in those little episodes.  Super B actually had one of those little outbursts in a dressage show yesterday that prompted some "tactful, quiet rider" written comments and she still managed to get in the 60's.  Was that all the leathers?  Well, no, of course not, but that extra stability does help you stay quiet.

I have ridden with them for two weeks now and they are absolutely staying.  They are incredibly comfortable.  Total Saddle Fit has the motto "Ridiculously Effective Creations."  They stay true to that with every product I have from them.  Every product they make is effective and is created out of an actual need for improvement in equipment for both horse and rider.  All of their products are designed for the improvement and effectiveness for both horse and rider.

If you're not looking for these type of leathers in particular, they do sell traditional leathers too in black or brown, jumping or dressage length.  I also have a couple pairs of these and I have had them for a couple years now, they are holding up exceptionally well and have yet to stretch at all.  They also make slim leathers in black or brown, in various sizes, if that is what you're looking for.

Or, if you're not in the market for leathers, at least take a stroll around their website and check out the rest of their quality, comfortable, effective products.  Remember, they do have a 30 day 100% money back guarantee as well, and they stand behind that.  One last thing, so last month they offered free shipping, if you missed out on that, they're now offering free shipping on EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

First Dressage Lesson in Vegas = Amazing

Ready for our lesson.

This past Saturday Klein and I had our first dressage lesson here and it was probably one of the best and most intuitive lessons we have had.  We are fortunate enough to be incredibly close to the barn up an FEI trainer.  Her facility is absolutely gorgeous and in addition to lessons they also hold clinics, schooling shows, and rated shows regularly.  We are walking distance from this place.

I had heard nothing but great things about this trainer and was really excited to ride with her.  I stopped by their rated show the weekend prior to say hi.  She is a VERY nice lady and her entire facility is immaculate.  I had a fitting with a Custom Saddlery rep lined up for the next day and there was a storm coming in that evening.  She is friends with the Custom Rep and told her it was no problem if I wanted to just bring the girls down to her place and use her ring for the fitting since hers is covered.  She invited us in like we were boarders there for years. 

I told her that for the first lesson if she just wanted to get a feel for us that was fine.  I told her I'm also not a person that would be offended if she told me I'm not where I think I'm at in terms of our preparedness for Second Level.  I never want a trainer to just tell me everything is fine because that will just never be true.  You can always improve and anyone who isn't prepared to accept a critique from an upper level professional is on the wrong path if improvement is what you're looking for.

What I really liked immediately is that I could tell that she is a very quiet and soft with the horses.  Just the way she speaks to them, it's obvious she is very kind.  I could tell that from the ground when she met the girls the weekend before when I brought them over to work with the Custom Rep (Klein is staying in her Trilogy, Super B ended up with an amazing Custom Icon Star).

I told her that one thing I felt like we were a little inconsistent with is our connection, especially to the left.  We're not a mess by any means but the connection definitely needed some fine tuning and she fine tuned us in that one lesson alone!  I basically was giving the connection away intermittently and we fixed that with a more consistent outside rein.  We improved our upward transitions from the trot to the canter as well, just smoother departs immediately from three small changes.

We got Klein engaging just a little more and brought some more energy into our medium trot.  She definitely gave us some good homework.  She also reminded us "you can never do too many transitions."  I know this, but I needed the reminder. 

We worked on that homework yesterday and had the best connection we've had yet to the left and the most consistent overall.  This is also still in a loose ring french link snaffle.  Klein is still in that for dressage. She had some of the best transitions she has ever had as well, just more fluid both upward and downward.  As far as the canter, me giving away that outside connection ever so slightly was creating a small issue for us, and we fixed that.  Even just lowering my outside hand helped. 

I was planning to put Klein in the rated show here next month for 2-1 & 2-2 but I think we can come out better at second if we wait until the April show and get a couple more lessons in and keep working on our homework.  She told me we are where I think we are, second level is totally in our grasp right now, but we can definitely make some easy improvements before we hit the rated ring this year.  So that is the plan. There actually a schooling show at her place coming up in a couple weeks and I thought about taking Klein but Klein has all the show miles she needs and can go to any new place and own it.  Super B has been doing exceedingly well lately and I think I will end up taking her because she DOES need the show miles.  I could take them both of course, but I would like to just have all my concentration on Super B and not be dividing my attention between two horses, one of which doesn't have extensive show experience aside from various racetracks.  I think all of my energy focused on Super B would be better for her at this point, especially for a show that is just a schooling show.

Friday, February 15, 2019

For Sale: Dressage Saddle & Equisense Motion

Pinnacle Pirouette:
Anyone looking for a dressage saddle that will hold up to a lot of use and can be used on just about any horse? I’m selling my Pirouette:

17.5” Pinnacle Pirouette Dressage Saddle. It uses the Wintec gullet system and will come with multiple gullets. It has a MW in it right now. Great entry level dressage saddle, also great if you are riding a variety of horses. It had some flock (synthetic flocked) added to it last summer by Skylands Saddlery. A couple minor cosmetic flaws (small scuffs) but otherwise structurally sound and stands up to a lot of regular use (riding multiple horses a day in it). The billets are also backed with nylon. $775 INCLUDES shipping to the lower 48. PayPal or Venmo accepted, or cash with local pick up in the Las Vegas area, I am not interested in trades and not accepting payments. No trials (unless in Las Vegas), sorry I just do not want to deal with shipping it back and forth across the country.

I have ridden Klein, Mochs, and Super B in this saddle.  That should give you an idea of just how versatile it is.

I have found this saddle to be very comfortable.  The only reason I am selling it is that Super B needs something that is more fitted specifically to her, and Klein has her Trilogy (that in no way shape or form will come close to fitting Super B). 

Equisense Motion:

Very cool system that tracks your horse's or horses' workouts and syncs the info into an app on your phone. It records things like the number of transitions, time spent in each direction, stride length and symmetry, height in each gait or jump, number of jumps, etc... It can be used on any horse, and you can save those workouts as well.

Like new condition, $165 SHIPPED in U.S. PayPal or Venmo only (cash if local pick up in Las Vegas), no trades, no payments.

If you are interested in either item please email me at

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Total Saddle Fit Synthetic Jumping Girth

I have used Total Saddle Fit girths for over four years now and over those four years they have continued to expand their product range.  I have various models of their girths for both jumping and dressage as well as both types of their dressage leathers.  If you are unfamiliar with this girth you can learn about it here.

 It has thick, durable, elastic ends on both ends.

She is standing a bit under herself in this photo.  She does have more room behind the girth while standing normally.

Recently, they came out with a synthetic version of their jumping girth.  Klein and I decided to take it for a spin.  Right now, the only option is brown, though I'm sure black is not far behind as they have black and brown in their leather version of both their dressage and jumping girths.  There are a few reasons the synthetic girth would be a great option:  it's incredibly easy to clean and maintain (who doesn't love something you can clean in under a minute with soap and water?), it's less expensive than the leather version, and for those that choose not to use leather tack they now have an option as far as a high quality jumping girth.

As always, the quality is high with this girth.  It's constructed to last and that is evident as soon as you pick it up.  For comparison, I have a synthetic jumping girth from a popular brand.

Notice how thin and flimsy the other girth is compared to the TSF.  Also, the elastic is MUCH better on the TSF girth. The other one had thin elastic that was prone to fraying.  NONE of my TSF girths that have elastic have frayed AT ALL.

Here you can see cracks in the binding of the other girth.  That will not be happening with the TSF, the construction is much more durable in the binding on the TSF.

More cracks.  These also create sharp edges that can pinch and even cut a horse.

This picture doesn't do it justice.  Hopefully it does convey the incredible difference in the quality of the material used.

The other girth is so thin it drapes over the bar.  The TSF is not and does not drape.  Even when broken in, it is obvious the TSF still won't even have the ability to be so thin and floppy.

Klein went great in it.  I actually took it for a spin for her first small jump school since she's been back to work after her mini vacay while we moved across the country.  She has always been comfortable in TSF girths and like the rest of them there was no rubbing, pinching, or gapping anywhere.

Shoulder relief in action!  Clearly, Klein feels free!

Here are some short videos from the ride:

Overall, yet another high quality product that I would highly recommend to anyone.  FYI, they also make western girths as well now, in a few different materials.  This company is also backed by reputable professionals in various disciplines.  In addition to that, while I haven't had to return anything I have received from them, I do know people that have and they absolutely stand behind their 30 day money back guarantee.  Their customer service is awesome and extremely responsive.  It's also free shipping on orders placed this month, just in case anyone was on the fence about ordering.  You have free shipping this month and their 30 day 100% money back guarantee shouldn't be on the fence anymore about ordering!