Odds & Ends I Could Live Without … But Why Would I?

If you live under a rock, you may not realize Amazon’s Prime Day is happening across two days and this is day one. I am not sure how many deals are going to appeal me, but I guess I’m going to find out while window shopping online. In the meantime, I have found a handful of things via Amazon that I didn’t realize I needed until I had them and now I’m like, whoa. Glad I bought that. Maybe some will be Prime Day deals?

Who needs easy-care, comfortable work pants? Since my breeches are not work pants (well, okay, maybe sometimes they are) I have been digging through the internet for affordable, work-appropriate pants with a tailored look and reasonable price tag. I searched “betabrand” on Amazon. Amazon showed me Rekucci instead. (I am not going to pay $80 for work pants that fit like yoga pants, betabrand.)

Rekucci offers a lot of styles of pants that are all pull-on type pants that sort of feel like yoga pants but look much, much more tailored. My favorites have been the boot cut pants. They work for work. Pay attention to the size chart, for sure! And the length. In the regular length pants, I have to wear heels or the pants drag on the ground. (I’m 5’6″.) The short ones are good for me for wearing flats or kitten heel shoes. And they actually look like work pants.

This is the Indigo color. And I cannot live without Worishofers.

If you are super curvy, I am not sure how these would work — they are pull on and while they do have some stretch, they are not super stretchy in the waist. I can get them over my hips easily, but I am not sure how they would work on someone with wider hips and a trimmer waist. I also wash them inside out in cold water and hang to dry. Some reviewers have noticed fabric wear after only a few washes, but I have not run into that problem yet.

Since the Amazon oracle (or search bar, whatever) showed me reasonably-priced work pants, I wondered what it would show me for boot trees. That are not actually boot trees. And also not inflatable boot trees. Would such a thing even exist? I have mentioned them once before, and yes they do indeed exist: boot shapers.

Not gonna lie … these things are genius

They are basically flat plastic inserts that conform to your boots’ shape. I liked the first set I bought so much that I bought more for all my tall riding boots. I am kind of thinking I should get some for my wear-to-work boots, too.

If you have not figured out by now that I am susceptible to online advertising, you must be a new reader. Scrolling through Instagram can be dangerous when it’s not actually kind of boring. I see all kinds of ads, one of which was for amazing hair towels that speed drying and minimize frizz! How can this beeeee! Okay, well, let me just see what Amazon has … and yep, they have the advertised towels. You don’t have to get them via Amazon, but I have found the Amazon price to be slightly lower than other vendors. The product is Aquis towels, and they do indeed speed drying and minimize frizz. Do I end up with completely dry hair and zero frizz? No, don’t be daft. My hair is fried from years of dyeing it. But I am in the midst of a hair renaissance and have stopped dyeing it. The 4-5 inches of growth that has not been traditionally dyed is actually pretty healthy looking, thanks to Olaplex, oVertone, and these towels.

The dyed hair is a lost cause, but the Aquis towels do seem to keep my frizz from getting out of control. They have towels for fine hair, towels for curly hair, towels for long hair, turbans … They are also WAY easier on my neck than big heavy bath towels. 10/10 recommend. (Also got hooked by Sand & Sky from Instagram ads …)

Don’t think my animals don’t benefit from my window shopping. First, Conrad: he is REALLY sensitive to fat content. For a while there, he was doing okay with treats under 10% crude fat and I was giving him the single ingredient duck liver treats, which he loved. And they are like 9% fat. His digestive system eventually rebelled, so I sought out lower-fat options. I found single ingredient chicken breast treats from the same brand.

They are freeze-dried, made in the USA, and are 3% crude fat. And luckily, Conrad loves these, too. I am now sticking with treats for him that are under 5% crude fat. You know what other treat — that Conrad loves — has just 5% crude fat and is made in the USA? Milkbones. Classic! He gets one after each of his meals to chomp on.

So Eli is no stranger to me stuffing his face with all kinds of treats. But I needed something that wouldn’t crumble in my pocket or get all sticky or melty when it’s hot because it is really hot here right now. Like … so, so hot. I found these Ginger Ridge Meadow Mints, and the brand also offers a Vanilla Flax flavor if you are looking to add a little more flax to your horse’s diet.

These stay in tact in my breeches’ pocket, they aren’t gooey, and they aren’t in a plastic wrapper. Eli may not go nuts over them quite like he does for Stud Muffins or German Horse Muffins or Gala apples, but he likes these and these keep his mouth occupied while I am doing up his girth.

He also might get one to chomp on during a ride as a reward for not killing me. What? Our bar is low right now.

I discovered a few other interesting things offered via Amazon that deserve a mention. The first is a newer version of the Polaroid Cube. I have a Polaroid Cube+ and it has been a handy little camera for filming rides. I ran across a Polaroid Cube Act II for an interesting price — much less than what I paid for the Cube+. Does anyone have experience with this one? Do I need it?

I was surprised to find that you can get a 23andMe DNA test kit through Amazon, too. Honestly, I was looking for a doggy DNA test kit and saw that 23andMe could be purchased via Amazon. This is something I have experience with — and the genetic reports keep coming. When you test with 23andMe, you get initial results, but the company keeps your DNA and keeps studying it. On one hand … creepy. But on the other, it’s a wealth of health knowledge. No, you can’t be diagnosed with anything through your DNA, but the company notes what genetic predispositions you might have. That information you can use over a lifetime. If you don’t mind strangers mapping your DNA. If you can’t get past the potential privacy issues, this probably isn’t for you. Because 23andMe will know if you are more or less likely to have wet or dry ear wax. Nope, I am serious. The latest Trait report I got was about Ice Cream Flavor Preference …

Ultimately, I think the best deals are going to be on Amazon devices. I am not in the market for any today, but that Ring doorbell/home security stuff is super tempting!

Summer-Ready Tack

We left the arena. There was much rejoicing.

It’s about time to get back to truly horsey things up in here. Eli may not be in full work, but I wanted to get him an open front boot with more ventilation compared to his Veredus, which have none. I also wanted to pick up another nylon girth for him, as his oldest one is getting a bit too stretched out in the elastic area. I was able to find both at breeches.com which I had a 30% code for, so I got a really good deal on both the boots and the girth.

Starting with the boots … did you know breeches.com carries Majyk Equipe boots? That was certainly a nice surprise. And they have the Boyd Martin show jumping series, which have both ventilation and a non-neoprene lining. Plus they have my favorite hook/stud closures for easy on and off.

They are on sale for $60 right now, and I got the 30% off on top of that! I don’t know if anywhere else can beat that price. Of course, at the time of this writing, they only had 1 pair left in full … and 3 pairs left of the matching hind boots.

Breeches.com also has a good selection of girths. They have my favorite, the Lettia Clik Coolmax nylon/fleece girth. I wasn’t ready to commit to that price again when Eli has one already that is in good shape, but breeches.com also have a Henri de Rivel Equicool fleece girth that met my expectations in price and features.

I ordered the 52. Eli typically wears a 50 or 52 in the Lettia girths, so knowing he’s a bit fat (for once in his life) I thought a 52 would be the way to go.

I actually probably could have got a 54 — the Henri de Rivel Equicool girth seems to run a bit small, so I would recommend sizing up. But of course, a lot depends on the billets of your saddle, too. I would say this 52 fits like a Lettia 50. I also LOVE the dark navy elastic.

And right now you can get 20% off Henri de Rivel products at breeches.com with the code HENRIDERIVEL20S or even 20% off the entire site with SASBR20! I wonder if the 20% off Equine Couture coupon code means I should buy the Beatta breeches in berry?

I got myself ready for summer, too, of course. I started wearing my Trauma Void helmet again because it’s lightweight and fairly well ventilated, plus the Equivisor.

The black actually cuts down on glare quite a bit. And I need all the help I can get with that!

The Sunscreen You’ve Been Looking For (If You’re Me)

I have been on a search for mineral sunscreen for my face that doesn’t have zinc oxide in it. I am divorcing from the chemical sunscreens, primarily from the press they’ve been getting lately – they destroy coral. Not okay. They also may leach into your bloodstream, but I am less concerned about that because we don’t know whether that’s bad or not yet. On a more personal note, my skin doesn’t react well to the chemical sunscreens, either.

But I also seem to be allergic, or at least hypersensitive, to zinc oxide. I discovered this allergy over time, partly from getting rashes around my waist after wearing cheap belts (although that could also be from nickel), and partly from trying a variety of brands of baby sunscreen, all of which have zinc oxide – sometimes a lot of it. The common denominator among the mineral baby sunscreens I tried was zinc oxide in concentrations of 20% or higher. And EVERY TIME my skin would shortly looks like a tomato with small pox.

So I started looking for something with only titanium dioxide as the active ingredient in it. A long time ago, I used the Elta MD face sunscreen. This wasn’t too successful, because that also irritated my skin. Plus it had the irritating aspect of only being available from doctors at the time I was using it. After that, I found the Garnier BB cream, which uses titanium dioxide but also a chemical sunscreen. I used it for a few years, not finding much else on the market, but I felt like my skin was still a bit irritated by it.

I started searching … googling “mineral sunscreens without zinc oxide” or variants of that phrase mostly turned up sunscreens with zinc oxide, but it also turned up a brand I had heard of but had no experience with: Coola.

I started browsing the different Coola sunscreens, still finding quite a few with zinc oxide and some with chemical sunscreens. And then FINALLY I clicked on the Coola Rosilliance BB cream. The ONLY sunscreen in it is titanium dioxide.

maybe it’s the stem cells

So, of course my skin wants $52 BB cream … but after years of searching, I wasn’t going to not try it.

“farm to face” …

It has a tint and smells kind of like roses. It goes on smoothly with sheer, somewhat “dewy” coverage (i.e., not matte). But the best part? My skin is finally calming the f down. The Coola seems to be healing the dry, raw skin I get on my chin and jawline. Rosacea symptoms have diminished.  My skin still needs a lot of help and this sunscreen is too sheer to cover sun damage, but it doesn’t make my skin angry! Not a lot of stuff out there fits that bill! I’ll be using this stuff all summer, and I hope it lasts a while for the price. Titanium dioxide AND healing powers? I think I might buy a second bottle to keep in my purse or barn backpack. This stuff is too good.

I have no idea if any of y’all are sensitive to zinc oxide, or how many of y’all want to ditch chemical sunscreens, or whether any of y’all are struggling with rosacea, but this is a great option if so. Coola is expensive for what I have spent on sunscreens in the past, but so far it seems to be well worth the price.

Customer Service

Last week, I experienced two drastically different consumer transactions. The tone of customer service played a large role in both. In one instance, I had been left cautiously … we’ll just say not pessimistic. The second instance won me over yet again as a customer for life.

The key thing here is that customer service isn’t just about being polite and friendly. Sometimes something goes wrong, and sometimes it’s up to a company to make it right. I don’t just want a friendly, “that’s just the way it is.” I am not going to throw a tantrum in public about it, but I might make you think I am about to after something like that.

I am naming companies in both cases. I might leave some details out due to privacy, but you will be left with a mostly clear picture of each experience.

The vehicle in question. And Eli.

The first is a decidedly non-equestrian situation. (If you came here for horses, too bad, suck it up.) I took my Toyota in for service at the Toyota dealership, where I have been a customer since like 2006. I went in for a regular maintenance package, as I have done every few months for years. I diligently keep up with vehicle maintenance because I expect my vehicles to last a long time. I left my car in the service drive after discussing what services were recommended. I thought it was a bit weird that there were two services we were 20k miles overdue for …. I really wish someone had mentioned them then …. but no matter, the car was running great and I’m not going to not do something my car needs, so I agreed.

After a few minutes in the waiting area, free cappuccino in hand, the service rep — who was extremely polite, forthright, and helpful and remained so the entire time — came back with a few additional things the car needed.

One was front brakes. Fair enough. And, Toyota had indeed mentioned this to me during the previous service visit, so I wasn’t too surprised and expected to replace them soon.

The next thing …. my exact reaction was “HAHAHA that shit ain’t happening.” Let me point out here the car is a 2017, just outside the mileage to be covered under warranty. Here’s an approximation of our conversation:

Rep: Do you know if you have an extended warranty?

Me: No, I don’t think so. I just bought out the lease.

Rep: Are you sure about the warranty? Did your husband buy the car?

Me: <glaring through narrowed eyes> I don’t have a husband. I bought the car.

Rep: Okay, sorry. Yes, of course. Forget I said that.

Me: So explain the problem … ?

The rep, polite as she ever was, did explain what was going on with the car, but I did note that the paperwork said that I had complained of a squeak or rattle, which was NOT the case. (I did ask why my car no longer beeped when I set the alarm and asked if it could be fixed. Misinterpretation?)

Anyway, I made it pretty clear that, that day, I would not be doing the brakes or the other service related to the squeak and rattle I hadn’t mentioned. The problem, as explained, meant taking the engine out of the car to fix it, and the estimate for labor was comparable to what, let’s say, a neurosurgeon or orthopaedic surgeon might charge for surgery:

The rep started walking back pretty quickly. Then the rep said since I was a valued, loyal Toyota customer, she would pull all of my service records, contact the appropriate people, and see if there would be any leeway on the warranty, considering the circumstances.

It was here I began to question whether this thing was even wrong with my car.

I also remembered the labor from a previous instance on a similar issue with my previous Toyota. This current labor quote was 4x the previous one, and the previous one wasn’t exactly pocket change. In both instances, the engine had to be taken out of the car to fix it. With my older Toyota, it was a 200kmiles+ 4runner from 2004. Why does the engine of a 2017 even need to come out? And maybe it does. And I get that it’s a big job. But it is not neurosurgery.

Ultimately, Toyota agreed to cover the entire cost, and offered a loaner car for the day at no charge. On its face, this is pretty much excellent customer service. The rep solved the problem at no cost to me. Toyota preserved our relationship.

Maybe. … I, uh, take issue with the labor quote. I am perplexed by the assumptions the rep made about me, polite and helpful and accommodating as she was — truly, she gave me excellent service… but … I am still not sure where someone got the idea I complained of a squeaky rattle (or that I was married lol). Yes, my car got taken care of. I got taken care of. But something about the whole situation was almost satirically off kilter. I am proceeding with caution in any future transactions with Toyota for now. 10/10 service but with an asterisk.

The second instance, thankfully, left me with a feeling that awesome people still exist in this world and shopping with a small business that cares about its customers is 100% the way to go. And this is an equestrian apparel business! So here’s your horsey moment!

You will not be surprised about how much I love my Botori riding pants. I have multiple pairs. I wear them a lot. I may or may not have slept in them. Or sneakily worn them to work. But, unfortunately, a specific production run of some styles didn’t meet the company’s standards, but that wasn’t apparent until after people had already been wearing them.

Still obsessed after many wears.

Botori’s response was swift and transparent — we sold you some pants we need to replace for you. Here’s how you do that.

I actually did have one of these pairs, but had not experienced the defect until last week. Botori honored the exchange, of course. But even better? Some new styles were released over Memorial Day weekend and a few days later I ordered one of the new styles. The genius behind Botori, PJ, refunded my shipping for the new pair and would send the new pair and replacement pair together. Yes! This! Honestly, my hope was that they would be sent together, because small though it may be, one shipment has a smaller carbon footprint and less packaging than two shipments. I did not expect to be refunded shipping, as I had ordered something new I fully expected to pay shipping on. So thank you, PJ! You have a customer for life! Which … I probably was already, but this is exactly the kind of transparent and generous customer service I greatly and genuinely appreciate.

White breeches + brown tall boots = ugh. love.

So customer service, to me, is not just about being courteous and trying to solve problems. It’s about honesty and transparency and preventing problems in the first place. I KNOW I get all this from Botori. I think I might get it from Toyota (?), but now I want to know what y’all think!

Also, work craziness is mostly over so I hope to get back to regular typing and dumping of pictures and video. Thanks for being patient with me, those of you who stuck around.

As an aside, I am slightly wondering about Toyota design and why the engine has to come out of the car for some maintenance and repairs. I drove Chevys prior to this and don’t remember that being a thing.

Equine Couture Calabasas Denim Breeches Review

Eli might not touch a saddle for weeks or months, but that doesn’t mean I can’t ride. It’s a little bit of a disappointment to get a new pair of breeches only to find your horse will be taking a summer vacation. But, I have still managed to wear the Calabasas denim breeches a few times in horsey environments, and even rode in them! Just, I didn’t ride Eli. Perhaps more about that later.

Grey denim goes with everything.

For now let’s focus on how much I love grey denim and how much I love breeches so when you put the two together, obviously I want that. And the Calabasas breeches look like denim but feel like breeches — they are surprisingly lightweight. Realistically, I don’t see myself wearing these in the heat of summer, but we’ve had a fairly mild spring with plenty of chilly mornings and these breeches have been perfect for that.

I wore them ALL DAY on Saturday and the thing about grey is you can get it dirty and no one will know.

NONE of my breeches have Velcro. Love that.

I also like that these breeches have a Euro seat instead of back pockets. It feels a little more streamlined. After wearing them all day, they still fit pretty well. I worried at first the material would stretch too much and thought I might have needed to order a size down, but they stretched only a little — about as much as any pair of breeches might if you’re in them all day.

These breeches also have silicone knee patches, which gives you a little extra security in the saddle. Which I may need once Eli can go back to light work …

The Calabasas breeches are available at breeches.com and come in regular blue denim, too, if that’s more your style.

My Eye Care Tools

It’s been a little over a year since I last talked extensively here about my vision situation. I think for the most part this update is good. While my left eye is not entirely stable, the medication is slowing the progression of bad things. Which is what it’s supposed to do. I recently had an appointment confirming all of this, thankfully!

If you have ever been to an ophthalmologist, you’ll be familiar with all of the testing that can go on at an ophthalmologist’s office. The visual filed test (not my favorite), the retina scans, the eye pressure test that involves those weird yellow eye drops to numb the surface of your eye so the doctor or assistant can put the blue glowy thing on the surface of your eye (super technical jargon there haha), the vision testing … my eye doctor appointments are not short, and I go twice a year. I have some eye conditions that mean I’ll be on prescription eye drops (at the very least) for my whole life, and I use OTC eye drops, too. I have very mild astigmatism, and do have prescription eyeglasses. And on top of this, I have what have been hands down the best pair of (non-prescription) sunglasses I have ever owned. (Although prescription ones are an option.)

The prescription eye drops are affordable, and the OTC eye drops are actually more expensive but effective — I use the Refresh Optive Lubricant Eye Drops. They keep my ocular rosacea from getting too crazy. I can’t really use steroid eye drops because of a different eye condition (that I am noticeably not mentioning in this post because denial).

I used to blanch of the sticker shock from getting prescription eyeglasses. Even with insurance covering some of it, those visionwear places in the malls always felt like a rip off, mostly because I think they were. And maybe still are. I don’t know, because I found a better way to get eyeglasses.

I don’t remember how I even found Warby Parker, but they had a cute little school bus converted into a eyeglass shop here in Austin for a little while. I read about the company online and I was impressed both at the price of prescription eyeglasses they offered, and because the company gives back in a big way — for every pair sold, Warby Parker gives back a pair of glasses to someone in need, all over the world.

Ordering is easy — I just sent in my prescription from the ophthalmologist and picked out frames. When I say “sent” I mean I took a picture of it and uploaded it directly which was beyond easy. You can try up to 5 frames at home with free shipping both ways, but I didn’t even bother because I am decisive like that (plus I was trying them on in the little school bus the first time I got a pair!). I had my glasses within a week, for $95. That is MUCH LOWER than what I paid for prescription eye glasses through another route by a few hundred dollars. I didn’t even need to update my prescription after my last appointment, but when I do I’ll be using Warby Parker again. And now I just realized maybe they still have my prescription and I could pick out a new style of frames …

And then the sunglasses … Oakleys. It’s funny, because for 15 years I rode with a trainer who INSISTED on Oakleys for himself. I never understood it, and it always seemed like a bit of an unnecessary splurge, paying that for sunglasses. And considering I have a tendency to break or lose them, I never really understood what he meant. But then a few years ago I was at the end of my rope with how sun-sensitive my eyes have gotten, and how sunlight was definitely worming its way in to my list of migraine triggers. I don’t want a vampire lifestyle, so I started googling madly, as you can imagine. What came up the most frequently for best sunglasses for migraineurs? Oakleys. And not just generally. The Oakley Black Iridium lenses came up, url after url leading to something recommending these lenses, claiming they were the gold standard for blocking painfully bright sunlight. Now, I don’t wear polarized lenses ever, because something about them makes me sick to my stomach and I start to feel intense sharp pain behind my eyes. (The same thing happens with the newer 3D glasses.) Luckily, you can custom order just about any pair of Oakleys, so I got the Holbrooks with Black Iridium lenses, not polarized.

Toss your $15 Target frames, y’all. You need these. They don’t move around on my face when I ride. Even better, they don’t distort my vision, and they don’t turn the world weird colors. Everything looks the same, only I don’t have to squint. No oppressive light! No glare! Yay! I might need a second pair, like a car pair and a barn pair, right?

I know this isn’t exactly a post about Eli, or about Conrad. But my eyes are pretty important. Without them, the way I enjoy time with Eli and Conrad would change drastically, so getting my strategies documented is important to me. And maybe it’ll help someone else?

The Grooming Implements and Goops for Spring 2019

As a follow-up to my last “do I want this product?” post, I’m updating here what I’ve been using lately on Eli to keep him looking fresh and dapple-y.

Back on Track Limber Up LiniMint Foam
This stuff is by far my favorite new product. Liniment foam is way better than liniment gel or liquid liniment for applying to the legs. This Back on Track stuff is also very gentle — no burning or tingling on my hands, yet it still seems to relieve my mild achy-ness in my knuckle joints (let us not call this arthritis yet). I assume this helps Eli and it definitely doesn’t hurt. The best part is that I recognize all the ingredients. Okay, well, most of them. I don’t know what “plant-based foaming agent” refers to, but apparently there are no banned substances in it. I know Back on Track isn’t the first liniment foam on the market, but I love it so far and have no intention of trying others right now.

Whole Horse Equine Fly Repellent Wipes
I specifically asked about these in the previous post I mentioned, and I am glad I did! They smell good, for one thing. And while I think it may be too early in the season to tell just how repellent these repellent wipes are, this is repellent I can get on Eli with minimal drama. I like the price point, and I won’t hesitate to order these again when I need more.

Knotty Horse Apricot Oil Treatment & Detangler
This was another product I asked about specifically. I decided to toss the sample size into my online cart while ordering other things. I have to say, I am impressed. It’s similar to the Cowboy Magic detangler, but I think it’s better. The texture is similar, but slightly less viscous and therefore slightly less slimy-feeling. It smells good. And it detangles very, very well. I especially like using it toward the top of Eli’s tail, and getting it down to his roots. I haven’t been using it long enough to know if it improves the texture and thickness of his tail over time, but I’ll be buying the full-size product next.

Carr, Day, & Martin Canter Mane & Tail Conditioner
I did not ask about this product, but a number of people recommended this product. So I tried it. These people, they are right. Eli’s tail was getting into super nasty territory with all the cold, wet weather and rolling in damp sand. It clumped easily and was covered in residue from lort knows what. But after a few days of using this stuff, his tail feels normal and stays free of tangles. Even more interesting, the bottle this conditioner comes in provides a brief but continuous fine mist instead of a true spray. I can accidentally-on-purpose mist Eli’s hind legs with it while misting his tail and he doesn’t seem to notice. That is magical.

Epona Tiger’s Tongue Scrubber
Soooooooo. Eli hates this thing. He’s okay with me using it on his lower legs. Anywhere else? Much teeth-grinding, tail-swishing, and angry-dance-stomping in the cross ties. But for removing shedding leg hair and mild cannon gunk, it works pretty well. I probably wouldn’t buy another one.

Soft Touch Grooma
This appears to be a popular little curry with thoroughbreds. I have had the same one for, um, a while. Like I am pretty sure I picked up this thing somewhere in the late 90s. And I still have it, so it’s pretty freaking durable. At least, the ones from that era are. It’s the only curry Eli tolerates well. 100% Grouchy TB approved! I wonder if I should get a new one from Dover, but then why when it still works so well?

Amazon Elements Sensitive Baby Wipes
Now that I use baby wipes at the barn, I can’t get enough! For reals. How did I go so long without using these? Eli LOVES having his nose wiped with these sensitive-flavor ones from Amazon, and they are cheap, right? I don’t actually know; I haven’t ever bought baby wipes for their intended purpose. Anyway, they are also great for wiping off all the extra fine dust that curries and brushes can’t remove from Eli’s coat when the air is really dry. And during this shedding season, they seem to work well for wiping all of Eli’s shed-out hair from my face.

What grooming products can you not live without for the upcoming warm weather?

Bit Thoughts

Strap yourself into the ramble seat.

Let me just say at the outset that this post is not advice or counsel or applicable to horses in general. This is my experience with one bit for my slightly quirky horse. Anything I write here applies to me and to him. Only.

Myler bits have been a curiosity to me for a little while now. I know some equestrians lament the sale of the Myler imprint to Toklat, and I have no experience with the Myler bits of ye good olde days. I also recognize that Myler is an aggressively marketed brand and any claims surrounding the action of the bit should probably be questioned. I am not saying the claims are wrong, but no bit will fix training issues.

And I didn’t think a Myler bit would “fix” anything Eli is doing or not doing. He goes quite well in the Dynamic RS (yes, Herm Sprenger is also an aggressively marketed brand but I have years of experience with the bits and I am not shy about being a devotee). Our biggest struggle right now is Eli getting flat and on the forehand through the corners while jumping a course. We do lots of flat work and exercises over fences to address this, and a lot of the issue is more my upper body position than anything else (LEEEEEAAAANN what why not).

But would a different bit get Eli’s attention in the corners? A bit with a different type of action and a smidge of leverage? Faster than my leg, seat, and atrocious posture could?

I do remember when I first started riding Eli, the leg confused and startled him. The seat was a bad idea. But he wasn’t my horse and I rode him in what I was told to ride him in — usually my Sprenger snaffles were readily approved. A few times I was told to ride him in draw reins.

But then I bought him, and I could experiment wholeheartedly with my little psycho shark project that jumps so willingly and relatively well. I ditched the draw reins and the short version is after years of work and care, Eli gets the leg. He even understands the leg WELL. He accepts a deeper seat (or, erm, not when his back is tight and it’s 40 degrees but whatever). He is very light in the bridle at the trot. Can be a bit heavier at the canter but seems well-balanced enough for our purposes. The journey to adequate gaits has no end.

What I am getting to is that the Myler with hooks is not a bit I would have used on Eli early on in our relationship. He didn’t understand the leg, and a bit with a little leverage and independent action on each side would have been counter-productive; at least that is what I believe. I wanted to keep it simple and comfortable, so that when he did take up the bit and respond to leg, there was not a question in his mind about what I was telling him. He needed a bit with basic, straightforward snaffle action that wouldn’t pinch his tongue or nail him in the palette.

But he’s a different horse now, and at least a little more sophisticated in his understanding and acceptance of the seat and leg. I can play with a different bit now as a tool of communication without causing confusion in Eli. We pretty much trust each other. He knows I am not heavy-handed, and that I am not going to put anything drastic in his mouth. (Can we melt down all the double twisted wire bits yet?)

I picked up a Myler dee “comfort” snaffle with hooks, the exact variety of which I am not sure. It doesn’t seem to have a port and I don’t know what “level” it is or whether it’s what Myler calls a wide barrel. I bought it used knowing I could easily sell it if I hated it. (Doesn’t all that “level” stuff seem a little gimmicky?)

Ultimately the hooks offer a little bit of leverage and tongue relief at the same time. Slight poll pressure, but nothing extreme. (I cringe at the thought of using a Cheltenham gag with rope cheeks on Eli, although I did use one with leather cheeks on a different horse with excellent results. It’s interesting to me how individuals respond to leverage.)

But the hooks do something else, and this is my primary reservation about the Myler with hooks: provided the horse is at or behind the vertical, the top hooks hold the mouthpiece off the tongue. So yes, the horse gets relief from tongue pressure. But maybe not if he’s poking his nose out a bit, which we like to see in a hunter flat class (for example). Like. Whoa. What if someone puts one of these on a young horse, a green horse, a horse that is not well educated to the aids? That hasn’t accepted tongue pressure well yet? This in my mind is an invitation to evasion and could potentially encourage a false head set and hollow back. All to avoid tongue pressure, rather than encourage it, which in some instances is necessary. That’s how a lot of bits work! It’s not a wonder the hooks aren’t dressage legal. This is not a bit for the inexperienced, in my mind — horse or rider. I could not have used this bit on Eli with any success 4 or 5 years ago. My preference is for a bit that relieves some tongue pressure but doesn’t remove it entirely regardless of how the horse carries his head. I think a horse has to learn that a little tongue pressure is okay and part of a concert of aids from the rider.

But Eli’s 15 and he is what he is, so knowing what I know, I tried the bit on him. I have ridden him in it 4 or 5 times now, to really get a feel of the action in my hand, on my horse, before passing further judgment. And this is a truly interesting bit. Eli did not and does not seem bothered by the changes in tongue relief and pressure, and half the time I’m riding him on a loopy rein anyway. I took him over a few jumps the first time we rode with the bit, just to get a sense of how Eli might respond. While the bit seems to add a boost to our power steering, and a bit more of a check to our half halts, it also exacerbates our problems in downward transitions. While Eli doesn’t seem to mind a little poll pressure during work in a gait, changing that gait is perhaps too big a move, too inelegant in terms of my own faulty aids and he tosses his head — a thing he does not do anymore while working on downward transitions in the Dynamic RS. He does lean and poke his nose out in downward transitions (working on it for all eternity) and I think when he tried to do that in the Myler, he was like wait wtf was that, lady?

So will I keep it? I think so, at least for now. I have no plans to jump in it, and I don’t think I will use it regularly for flat work, but just periodically. Because, somehow through the dynamic of the extra check in our half halt, the bit helps through those corners, and Eli takes fewer steps downhill with the Myler, in transitions within the gait. He seems quite comfortable with the action of it, and doesn’t even mind leaning on it a little (but don’t fear, he’s never heavy in my hand, never has been). It’s almost like that minute poll pressure is some kind of comfort to him.

I will say I do use this bit in a bridle that has a heavily-padded monocrown piece. That is probably a part of why the poll pressure is mostly acceptable to Eli. I am definitely interested in trying the same bit without hooks — although the independent side action intrigues me; Eli seems responsive to it. The mouthpiece itself is unquestionably forgiving.

But of course if I stayed tall, kept my inside leg on, and lifted and squared my shoulders through the corners, that might, you know, help some, too. None of that needs any kind of bit.

Best In Blue Equestrian Hickstead Belt Review

When given the opportunity to try the Best In Blue Equestrian Hickstead belt, I jumped on it because here was a very popular style of belt at a very affordable price point. I was especially curious about the quality.

Once I got the belt in hand, I wore it almost immediately — at least, as soon as I was able to get out to the barn. The holidays and weather are still working against me a little, but I have worn the belt a handful of times now. One odd benefit of this belt that I didn’t even think about: it’s just stretchy enough to accommodate a few extra holiday cookies. Or maybe a lot of extra holiday carbs. Either way.

Can’t get more classic that a navy belt with tan breeches

Seriously, this belt has a lot of features, the primary one being great adjustability. This belt is really going to fit most riders. It adjusts just like a belly surcingle on a horse blanket, and clasps the same way. The clasp immediately identifies this belt as uniquely equestrian, plus it’s so easy to hook and unhook.

Clasp detail

And there is no extra length of belt, so the look is extremely trim and minimalist. The belt is also wide enough to look great on breeches with the wider belt loops. Because it’s stretchy, the belt moves with you — it doesn’t give me that binding feeling that some leather belts and their buckles can.

Tone on tone & stretch to fit in action!

For the price, this belt is an excellent value, and it is a very popular style for right now, with the equestrian hardware. Similarly-styled belts can be 3 times as much or more! But why pay that? The Hickstead belt is offered in a variety of colors and patterns, too.

Navy on navy

I chose navy because I knew it would look good with a lot of riding outfits, but I really like the tribal pattern one, too. Y’all know how I am about color in my life.

Basically, I can’t see why you wouldn’t want one of these belts right away!

Wahl KM10 Clippers Review

Regardless of why, Eli sprouted an extra fluffy (for him) winter coat this year. Very inconvenient, especially in Texas. I had not ever body clipped him and the entire time I have known the horse, he has not been body clipped. While Eli’s ground manners have improved over the years by leaps and bounds, he is still bitchy about me grooming around his flanks and haunches. This consideration was the source of my apprehension related to body clipping this horse. And it influenced my purchase, ultimately.

I have body clipped a lot. I used to do it for money, for about 3 or 4 years, and clipped a lot of show horses. I used the Oster Clipmasters because they can cut through anything and seem damn near indestructible. But they are loud. If you have them on for any length of time, when you turn them off you might wonder whether you have hearing damage. They vibrate so much that my arm goes numb within 20 minutes of clipping with them. They have a fan that blows horse hair right up into your face. They are heavy, too. If you have to clip a lot of animals, though, these might be an okay option because they can most assuredly stand up to clipping a lot of animals.

But I don’t clip for money any more. I just needed to clip Eli. Considering the cost of a body clip these days, I wanted to keep the clippers around that price range, so that with merely one clip they have paid for themselves.

Based on a gazillion googles and reading many, many reviews, I finally settled on the Wahl KM10 clippers, and found them for a good price on Amazon. I didn’t know anyone personally who had experience with them, but a handful of reviewers noted that they clipped their baby racehorses with them and the baby racehorses were totally okay with that because of how quiet they are. I was skeptical about whether a smaller clipper would be powerful enough for a full body clip, but Wahl advertises them as equine body clippers among other things and Eli doesn’t have thick hair. I took a chance.

The KM10s come with a Wahl #10 blade and I bought an additional #10 Ultimate blade. I knew for body clipping with a smaller set of clippers that I would need to swap out the blades periodically as they overheat from the friction of oscillating and clipping hair. I got the clippers on Friday, and I was set to clip Eli on Saturday after our lesson. It was too chilly for an additional bath, but he wasn’t too dirty, having had a bath the previous Saturday.

Eli handles me trimming his whiskers and bridle path with the Oster A5s just fine, and the Wahl KM10s are a bit smaller, but shaped somewhat ergonomically. Thankfully, they are extremely lightweight, and my arm never got tired.

The Wahl Ultimate blades can cut a lot of hair very quickly. The blades did heat up, but having an extra set paid off, as I was able to just swap them out occasionally. I kept everything oiled and free of hair as possible, and didn’t skimp on the Kool Lube. The clippers themselves — the housing of the motor — never got hot.

Chill from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Best of all, these clippers are really freaking quiet. Like, the quietest ever. I could get right up to the base of Eli’s ears without him protesting too much. He was by turns lulled into a nap or licking and yawning when I clipped over itchy spots. He did get a little fussy about the inside of his hind legs above the hocks, and twitched enough while I was clipping his flanks that they look a bit ratty, so I’ll spend a little more time doing touch-ups. But back to how quiet they are — Saturday was body-clipping bonanza day, and the working students clipped two lesson horses with Listers while I was clipping Eli in an adjacent cross tie. I couldn’t even hear the Wahls over the sound of the Listers. I finished up Eli’s legs and some of his head on Sunday and never once did my arm tire or my ears ring. And especially for just a simple show clip or touch-up clipping, these Wahls can more than handle the job. Indeed, they are quite handy for body clipping, too. I can’t speak to their durability yet, so I am not going to tell professional body clippers to switch it up, but for a couple of body clips a season, these clippers seem to be an excellent choice. I was surprised by how well they clipped, considering their size, weight, and hardly-audible whir. I am also impressed with the how well the Wahl Ultimate blades retained their sharpness throughout the task. The blades are made in America, and the quality shows. Certain Oster and Andis blades are also compatible with the Wahl KM10s according to the packaging literature, so that’s handy if you prefer a certain brand and type of blade.

Still gotta clip those ears

These clippers are definitely the right ones for me and Eli. I think my Oster A5s may need a new home for a low price …

There is one drawback about the Wahl KM10s. They don’t come with a case. Over the years, I have purchased 2 Oster Clipmasters, one Oster A5 2-speed, and one Oster A5 1-speed, and they have all come with protective carrying cases. I’d like the same for the Wahls and was surprised that they didn’t come with one, so for right now they are living in their retail packaging.

Otherwise, 10/10 recommend. Really, really impressed, Wahl!