Fleeceworks Therawool™ Show Hunter Saddle Pad Review

Let’s just say that I have not owned a suitable saddle pad for the hunter ring since, like, 1999. The 2017 options are staggering and widely range in price and quality. But I had to start somewhere …

I looked at the Ogilvy show hunter pads with memory foam, but for ~$280 they were a bit more than I wanted to spend on experimenting in the hunter ring. So I started looking at other options.

I knew I wanted some kind of sheepskin or wool for the properties–it’s kind of like nature’s memory foam and sheepskin is anti-bacterial because of the lanolin. I started looking at Fleeceworks products and found a good price at Riding Warehouse for the Therawool™ Show Hunter.

In our first try in the hunter ring, I used the saddle pad with no inserts or shims and I was very satisfied with its performance. Eli seemed quite comfortable and didn’t develop any back soreness. But, I did notice the saddle sat a bit low in front, more than I am really comfortable with, so I got the Ecofelt inserts .

Once I had the inserts, they looked a bit big and I thought I might have to cut them down a bit. I decided to try shoving them into the shim pockets before trimming to estimate how much I’d have to alter them, and as it turns out, they fit in very snugly and perfectly–no room for shifting around but not too big, either.

For our next attempt at hunters, I used the saddle pad with shims in place, and I was even more pleased with the performance of the pad than before, and Eli had no objections. I felt like with the Ecofelt, the saddle was more balanced on Eli, with pressure more evenly distributed along the panels.

Size Large fits my 17″ Bruno Delgrange PJ.

One of the nice features about the Therawool™ is that it is machine washable. After the first show, I did wash it in the machine and hung it up to dry, and brushed out the Therawool™ with the wire brush that came with the saddle pad. It definitely shed a bit that first wash, but that’s what lint rollers are for. After the second show, the saddle pad was hardly even dirty, so instead of washing it I just hung it up to air out a bit and after it had dried completely I brushed the Therawool™ again with the wire brush, and the loft recovers quite well.

This is an extremely nice, well-made saddle pad and for less that $150 I think it’s a great deal.

Cashel Quiet Ride Fly Mask Review

While it seems so far away now, Eli did have some sinus procedures that left a hole in his face the size of a half dollar. He could go back to work before the hole healed completely. I had a high level of apprehension about this and wanted some degree of protection for his face while he worked under saddle. He wore a regular fly mask 24/7 for a while, but I wanted something less obtrusive for riding. I found the Cashel Quiet Ride Fly Mask and Eli wears it now for many of our rides, just as he did when he went back to work after the sinus procedures.

Although the intended purpose of this fly mask is obviously to deter pesky flying insects, I have found Eli seems especially to prefer wearing it on super sunny, super windy, or drizzly days (or nights), too. I jokingly call it his sensory deprivation fly mask, but really this is just one more essential piece of equipment for Eli to help him stay focused. We also tried the Cashel Nose Net, but he strongly objected to that. He occasionally may have head-shaking tendencies, but I don’t think he’s truly a head-shaker to where the behavior interferes with daily activities — he just objects to extremely bright light and I can relate. If I can do something to ease the discomfort sunlight, wind, or drizzle can cause Eli when I need him paying attention to me, I will do that thing. That thing is this fly mask.

I can most definitely recommend this fly mask for riding — it helps deter pests and for Eli it has some added benefits. He has two because I always want a clean one ready to use. Conveniently enough, Riding Warehouse carries them for a great price.

 

Weenie Wednesday: Two Horse Tack Bling Collar and Leash Review

Lest you think I have been depriving Conrad of proper attention, toys, and adornments, I would like to tell you about his latest look. He rocks orange like no other.

Two Horse Tack sent Conrad a dog collar and leash made from Beta Biothane and some extra shiny adornments added, i.e., bling. I picked orange for Conrad because it seems to be his favorite color. Before the collar and leash arrived, I admit I was somewhat skeptical about what the material would be like. I have zero experience with synthetic tack; Conrad’s other collars have been nylon or leather.

As soon as I unwrapped the collar and leash, I thought there had been a mistake. They were soft, flexible, and felt like leather in my hands. I was completely surprised by how much the Beta Biothane seemed like leather! I tried the collar on Conrad immediately and he got a few extra cookies for modeling.

Okay, so I know we all describe fancy French bridle leather as buttery soft, so is it a little weird that that’s what I thought of when I picked up the leash? Conrad and I test-drove the collar and leash on our Saturday walk, and I am really pleased with not only the quality of the material and sparkliness of the stones, but the hardware also seems very durable.

And all you have to do to clean it is a little soap and water! There’s no way for it to get grimey like nylon does. Not that Conrad is into getting dirty, but maybe your dogs are a little more adventurous or mud-loving.

Two Horse Tack is also, don’t forget, a tack shop, and offers all kinds of custom things in Beta Biothane, beyond their selection of dog collars and leashes. And for any of you wishing to check out Two Horse Tack, I have a 10% off coupon code for you all.

You can also sign up for the Two Horse Tack newsletter if you haven’t already for more special offers and updates.

Maybe Eli needs a green side-pull …

 

Horseware Competition Jacket Review

Now that we’ve established Eli and I have joined the Dark Side will try the hunters for this year, I can review the Horseware Competition Jacket that I wore for the show last Saturday. I got the green one from Riding Warehouse.

SGL Photography

This is going to be a very short review: I love this show coat and it is a steal. Get one.

Honestly, I tried on one of these a few years ago, and I think that the fit must have changed since then–in a good way. On the current version, the sleeves are long enough for my orangutan arms and the jacket nips in ever so flatteringly at the waist. The jacket is a bit shorter than most hunt coats and doesn’t have the formal look of a double vented jacket. But for my purposes, the fit works.

I showed in the morning last Saturday, and I never took the jacket off the entire time I was at the show. It was that lightweight and comfortable, stretchy and water-repellent (perhaps also wine-repellent a little bit). I got a ton of compliments on it, and people didn’t believe what I paid for it. Sadly, the jacket isn’t dust-repellent, and I am going to have to figure out how to stay cleaner at shows. But the jacket is machine washable and I have already washed it–it looks new again.

SGL Photography

For the price, I don’t think there is a better-looking or more practical, versatile jacket out there. I even may have convinced a barn mate to get the berry color because she does jumpers and she has a big dark brown bay, so it would be so complementary.

I am sure that many of you have already tried on one of these jackets, and might even own one. What do you think of it?

My Favorite $20 Shirt

You might have guessed by now that I love clothes. Riding clothes especially. My wallet is less enthusiastic about them. So obviously not everything I wear involves $200 breeches or $150 sweaters, because I am a public employee among other reasons. I find quality, inexpensive things to wear as much as I can, and there has been one shirt that I have more than one of and it’s worth mentioning to anyone who loves color, and plaid, as much as I do.

The Dickies Women’s Long-Sleeve Plaid Flannel Shirt

I get them on Amazon. I have three. And for around $20, I don’t feel all that bad about it, considering how often I wear a plaid shirt (almost daily, to work and/or to ride in). They are soft. They wash well. The arms are just barely long enough for my longish appendages. They are lightweight and thin enough even to wear in early summer in Texas. I typically wear a women’s dress size 4, and get this shirt in a size medium.

If you like a nice plaid shirt, but don’t want to drop $148 on one from Rails, Dickies provides you with an admirably economical option. Perhaps a green-themed plaid for St. Patrick’s Day? (I took these screenshots directly from Amazon. Apologies if this offends anyone’s intellectual property sensibilities or rights. But they are closely representative of the plaids in my closet.)

 

Lund Saddlery Running Martingale Review

2016-12-12_02-46-19.jpgThe running martingale is a fairly common piece of tack for the jumper ring. But just because it’s the jumper ring doesn’t mean it can’t be raised and fancy-stitched. The Lund running martingale shares added features and classic touches as the rest of the Lund line of strap goods. It means taking a little extra time to break in because of the Sedgwick leather, but ultimately it is another piece of tack that can last you a decade or longer.

stitchingAs you can see, the fancy stitching on the yoke of the running looks lovely. Obviously appearance is not a consideration in the judging of jumper rounds, but to say that jumper riders don’t want to look good would be a blatant lie. The Lund running also comes with a clip for the girth dee and the rubber stopper to hold the neck strap in place and prevent the yoke from slipping.

oxer

Shown here are the Lund running martingale and Lund 4-point.

I don’t always even use a running when schooling my horse at home, but it’s an essential for shows. Just that little extra bit of control that only kicks in when necessary helps and the Lund running martingale does the job perfectly.

I have noticed over the years that there is a wide variety of how people fit running martingales. I learned that a running fitted too tightly can exert a great deal of downward force leverage against the mouth bars of a horse and possibly cause issues related to that. When jumping, a horse must be able to use his head freely, and I learned as a guide that when fitting a running, the yoke must reach the horse’s chin while the horse is standing relaxed. Obviously every horse is different–this is just the way that works for Eli the best.

fitweightless You can see the fit in the above pictures–no broken line in the reins from bit to elbow caused by the running. (Just kind of a loopy rein, though, oops.)

As far as running martingales go, the Lund running martingale is a fantastic piece of tack, especially for the jumper ring, and comes in cob and full to fit a variety of horses. It retails for 135 CD or around $102 US. I can recommend it to anyone looking to show in the jumpers without reservations.

Weenie Wednesday: Bocce’s Bakery

meat_grandeConrad got lots of presents over Christmas (and New Year’s!) and one of the gifts was some treats he really loves from Bocce’s Bakery, a New York City small business that makes dog treats from a few simple ingredients. Conrad has tried the Truffle Mac & Cheese and now has the Beef Bourguignon treats to munch on. I like them especially because they are low fat–one of Conrad’s dietary requirements.

If your dogs are asking for special treats, you can try the Meat Lover’s Box with the two flavors Conrad has tried–looks like he needs to try two more, too!