Casual Friday Ramble

Walking with purpose is actually a pretty good workout. That’s not what Eli & I did yesterday, and probably won’t be today, either.

 

It’s more like we wandered aimlessly, but in an arena. I had been hand walking him the last few days, waiting for him to get a new set of shoes. The shoes weren’t sprung, but they were a bit loose and his toes were ridiculously long, so riding didn’t seem appropriate considering we are in recovery mode.

I do use boots on Eli, even though we are only walking. They are basically extra insurance in case anything dramatic happens and I fall off and he takes off. Not that they would help much, but he likes to bang his legs up so a little extra protection makes me feel better. And of course he wears boots or wraps in regular work because he is crooked and interferes. And he lives in his bell boots.

I have a few new shirts, and one I wore last night. It is an It’s a Haggerty’s, a brand I had not yet tried. Based on other reviews, I sized up, and I love it. The material is very comfortable. The sleeves are long enough. The shirt is long enough. And It’s a Haggerty’s sun shirts don’t just stop at solids and color blocking. The sleeves of this shirt are like a blue rose & leopard/cheetah print. I am kind of obsessed. Even better, the shirt pairs amazingly well with the Kate Botoris. I could sleep in this outfit, it’s so comfortable!

Eli also has a “new” bit, and I can’t remember if I mentioned it before? I got it shortly before he got injured, so it has mostly seen a lot of walking. But Eli does seem very, very comfortable in it. It’s a custom Myler that I picked up used. If I were to order him a new custom Myler, it would basically be this one. Except way more expensive. Yay for the resale market!

 

It’s a 5″ dee, double-jointed with a copper roller and a contoured sweet iron mouthpiece with copper inlays. It may be a tad on the thin side, but I am a firm believer in fitting a horse’s mouth based on the horse’s actual mouth. It means the finer-boned, smaller-mouthed TBs with narrow palettes might find fat bits – that people think of as soft – as totally annoying and uncomfortable. So don’t let preconceived notions about bitting fool you into thinking certain bits are “soft” while others are “harsh.” Try different bits, and whichever one your horse takes up well and doesn’t fuss in, is the right bit. I had a fat KK Ultra loose ring that Eli HATED. You’d of thought it was bike chain for how he acted. A thinner mouthpiece made all the difference. The double-jointed bits seem to work well for sensitive horses that have narrow palettes or might be offended by the nutcracker action of a single-jointed bit. Add in a contoured mouthpiece that rests in a neutral position on the horse’s mouth bars and you’re set. Bitting is easy!! Haha just kidding. I spend a ton of brain power just thinking about bits and how they might or might not work on a particular horse. It’s one of my favorite training topics.

I am so glad it’s Friday! Work has not slowed down AT ALL and I am hanging on by a thread here. I can’t wait to get out to the barn tonight and play with Eli and then enjoy a glass of champagne while sitting with Conrad in a comfortable chair.

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!

For Sale

I have just a few things I’m selling, and I thought I’d list them here before posting them where ever else.

Ogilvy cover $75

Green base, brown binding, lilac piping. Standard size (for 16.5 – 18). Some fading at the back of the cover.

 

Goode Rider denim breeches $25

The tag may say 30, but these fit like a 26. Worn once.

 

Lettia Clik girth SOLD.

Size 48 synthetic girth, textured neoprene with gel insert for comfort. Used once.

Free shipping on all of it.

AND if you haven’t looked at the Asmar sale section lately, check it out — lots of great stuff at 50% off, including that belt purse I can’t live without!

 

 

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.

Current Tack Set Up

I have switched up what Eli goes in lately, partly in effort to help build up his back strength and partly because it’s freaking cold.

Eli wears many different things, and this is merely a fraction of Eli’s complete wardrobe. (I am going to talk about the CWD bridle and Myler snaffle in another post.)

The biggest change has been the saddle pads he’s wearing. I now use a Back on Track AP pad regularly, and switched to my Thinline half pad from the Ogilvy because the Ogilvy does not sit well on the Back on Track pad. I wish Ogilvy and Back on Track would team up to line the Oglivy baby pads with Welltex.

The sun may have been out on Monday, but I was chilled to the bone and Eli pretty much hates the cold. While I am sure some of you readers further to the north are wondering why the hell I’d use a quarter sheet when it’s 50F, just accept that I am a native Texan and total wuss when it comes to winter, and Eli is, too. He seems more comfortable wearing the quarter sheet than not when it’s chilly. I got this Amigo one last year on sale in a steel grey color with lime green piping. The outside is water resistant and the inside is a fleecy material that doesn’t seem very static-y. I’d buy the exact same one again in a heartbeat.

So it’s winter and the Thinline isn’t the only thing with sheepskin. I have multiple pairs of the Eskadron fetlock boots with sheepskin. Eli doesn’t walk like a rooster in them. So there’s that. I have also been using the Professional’s Choice girth that is washable and you can remove the sheepskin portion to hand wash that separately. Another concession to Eli’s comfort. Sheepskin is basically nature’s memory foam and it’s breathable.

What’s on his face? The Cashel fly mask, and he is also wearing a bonnet a lot with it. Warm ears protected from wind, and eyes protected from wind and glare. Perhaps I should call all of this my sensory deprivation set up …

I am sticking with jumping Eli in the Herm Sprenger Dynamic RS for now, and that one is on his Pessoa hunter bridle. I also now ride Eli regularly in his Edgewood standing (that I found used for $50 and it’s OS because Eli’s neck is that long).

Does your tack change from season to season? Or do you stick with the same thing year round?

Bits Are Like Jewelry

Is it possible for one horse to have too many bits? Too many bridles? No. This is most definitely not within the realm of possibility.

My Dad and I had a conversation about bits the other day, and how they are like jewelry to equestrians. And I sent my Dad pictures of Eli’s bits. Of which he has 7.

this one doesn’t get out much

We stick with the Herm Sprenger Dynamic RS Dee most of the time, but every once in a while, Eli gets reminded about something else with a different bit. This else is usually a little heaviness in the corners whilst jumping. I have tried a handful of different bits to see what gets the message across.

I just picked up a Myler, used for a decent price (the ones with hooks are weirdly expensive, even used) and might try that out soon.

As a result of this conversation, I now have a fourth bridle for Eli. Thanks a million, Dad!! Your grandhorse thanks you, too! I got the bridle from Redwood Tack. If you haven’t stalked that place, you need to get on that asap.

I am trying it on him today. If it fits (which I think it will) I am going to oil & condition the crap out of it before riding in it. The padded crown is SO padded. I think Eli will love that part of it.

So I hadn’t ridden Eli for a week, but did ride last night. It wasn’t too cold, and Eli was really, really good! Just in his Dynamic RS — it’s our go-to bit.

enjoying a cookie

How many bits do you have for your horse(s)?

Le Mieux Teknique Fetlock Stud Boots Review

I mentioned last week that I have been looking for solutions for Eli’s hind interference. Other than the pastern wraps that are on the way, I think I may have found a good one! I looked at Country and Stable’s selection of tendon and fetlock boots — they have an excellent selection of well-known, popular brands — and started really getting curious about the open front hind fetlock boots. I decided to try the Le Mieux Teknique boots because they met a lot of my criteria for the kind of fetlock boots I am looking for.

 

 

First of all, I wanted something with stud closures. No more Velcro, I am so irritated with trying to keep that clean and also sticky/grabby enough to keep working properly.

The Le Mieux boots meet that criteria right away, obviously. Honestly, beyond that, I have to say I was not familiar enough with the Le Mieux brand and I thought they basically did saddle pads and polos. I had no idea they made horse boots so I was curious about the boots’ features. The boots have a soft, squishy gel liner, but also a mesh layer to release heat through vents built into the boots.

 

Le Mieux also incorporates reinforced strike plates on the sides and back of the boot for extra protection, perfect for a horse that interferes.

 

Of course, the most important aspect of these boots is whether they fit my horse. I had reservations at first, because Eli fell on the line between size medium and size large — I went with large because I was concerned he would find the mediums too tight and uncomfortable. He does still rooster walk in these for a few steps after I put them on, but under saddle I can tell the boots don’t change anything about his way of going. The elastic straps have a good bit of stretch in them, so I think the larges would fit a range of larger horses, including big-boned warmbloods. One last thing I had to make sure of is whether the boots collect the arena footing inside while riding. I hate that, and it’s been the main reason I’ve been looking for different boots for Eli. While his sheepskin Eskadrons may be comfortable to him and offer good protection, they collect footing like they’re trying to build a sandcastle.

brass studs from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Some dust collecting inside the boots is going to be inevitable, but I am very pleased that there are no chunks of arena footing piling up in his boots, which also tells me they are a good, snug fit.

Overall, I am impressed by the quality and function of these Le Mieux fetlock boots. I think they are a good option for any jumping horses, offering protection while leaving the fronts open to remind the horse he doesn’t want to catch any rails. I can recommend these boots for sure! And now I am interested in other Le Mieux stuff, too, based on such quality and thoughtfulness behind the design.

Country and Stable carries a large selection of Le Mieux products, and based the the quality of these fetlock boots, I would definitely consider picking up other Le Mieux products from Country and Stable.

Roeckl Madrid Gloves Review

I am pretty sure that if you have found your way to this blog, you most likely are at least vaguely familiar with the Roeckl brand of riding gloves. I have a few pairs (gotta keep one pair nice for shows!) of the Roeck-Grip model and I love them. I welcomed the opportunity to try a different model of the Roeckl equestrian line. I have been wearing the Roeckl Madrid glovesย while riding all last week and over the weekend, and like my other pairs, they brilliantly exceed my expectations.

Quality
We all know how hard riding is on our riding gloves. Gloves are a daily staple of my riding wardrobe, so they see a lot of use. I have been riding for over a year now with laced reins, which I think can sometimes be a little tougher on gloves than rubber reins (unless they have stops). Years before I switched to Roeckls, I went through gloves fairly quickly, seeing how many brands and materials just didn’t stand up to daily wear. The seams would pop, or the gloves would wear through between the ring and pinkie fingers, or — and this was the worst pair — they would develop a gross smell that couldn’t be washed out (TMI, but I don’t recommend the Heritage Premier Show gloves). Yes, this is Texas, I sweat when I ride sometimes. The gloves have to hold up to that, too!

And then I switched to Roeckl gloves. I am never going back to another brand. They are exceptionally well-made, and I haven’t ever popped a seam on them, and it takes a few years of wear before mine get shredded, rather than just a few months of wear other gloves got before falling apart. The Madrid gloves are no exception. You can scrutinize the seams and stitching and find no faults. The Madrid gloves have a few different types of material incorporated, and they all come together very well, without any wonky, uneven, or loose stitching. Parts of the gloves that typically see the most wear are strategically reinforced, too.

Gold piping on patent? Don’t mind if I do.

Style
But are they pretty? Um … see for yourself. These may not be to everyone’s tastes, but personally I love how these look. Black and gold is never not appropriate. (Okay, okay, I really need the all-black ones for the hunter ring.) This is a subjective category — I picked a style I knew I would like. Once I got them in my hands, I could see I made the right choice. I especially like the tone on tone details of these gloves, the use of mixed materials and subtle patterns, and with that pop of gold at the closure. They come in a lot of different color options, so if black and gold isn’t your thing, maybe you’d wear navy and silver.

Fit
The Roeckl fit seems very consistent across different models. I wear a ladies 7.5 and these Madrid gloves offer a very close fit without being uncomfortably tight. The fit is pretty much the same as the Roeck-grip gloves, and I know at least a few of you readers have a pair or two of those, so you wouldn’t have to wonder about size when ordering these.

Function
This is the really important part of the review–do these gloves live up to the Roeckl brand reputation? So far, yes. The impeccable fit goes a long way to ensure a very close contact feel on the reins. While it is not quite like not wearing gloves because your hands are somewhat protected, the feel is almost there. I am not compromising my feel on those lines of communication to the horse’s mouth when I wear these gloves. Bonus feature: touchscreen compatible. I tested that out and could easily take pictures without taking my gloves off. I didn’t try to type anything on my phone’s soft keys, but I am a lousy typist without gloves as it is.

There is a second functional aspect of the Madrid gloves that is almost a necessity in Texas, or any warm climate–breathability. The glove backs are mesh — not gapy or see-through, really, but a very close-knit, lightweight mesh. It was 80-something during my lesson on Saturday, and my hands didn’t get hot or even sweat very much. If you are looking for a well-made and stylish summer glove, this would be it. They are even machine-washable. I haven’t tested that out on this pair, but my other pairs wash up fine and dry pretty quickly when I set them out to air dry.

These Madrid gloves are so sporty, both in how they look and how they feel with the reins in my hands. I am glad I have this pair to use throughout this summer. I can recommend these to anyone wanting a lightweight or mesh summer glove.

Rides This Week

All of 2 so far … After Eli jumped pretty well on Sunday, he got a bit of a break on Monday and I rode him pretty much just to let him stretch out and get some exercise. And he got a day off on Tuesday.

Wednesday would be the most notable ride of the week thus far, ha. I was able to get the ride in before sunset, which was a nice change from the regular weekday routine. Eli is a little easier to deal with in daylight. He is plenty fine to ride at night, but it does take longer to get his attention at the outset. On Wednesday, we worked on transitions within the canter for a little bit but mostly focused on developing a strong forward trot. I always start Eli on a loose rein and just ask him to move out first. This makes it easier to keep him coming from his hind end when I do ask for contact on the bit. I am using my seat more and more with him and he seems to get it. Posting deep and sitting longer while posting helps to moderate his trot and still allows him to go forward, but not faster. And that’s pretty much what he does — bigger steps in the same rhythm. I think I am much better with my shoulders in the trot than in the canter, so Eli’s trot comes along much faster as far as developing it goes, than his canter does. I am trying to work more in the canter, but not much more. Just enough more to get done what I am asking. Eli seems to understand the seat at the canter now, too. Not that any of this is automatic — as if.

a bridle fairy came to my house

After riding on Wednesday, I just happened to have a brand new figure 8 and a bit I have meaning to try on Eli (for a very specific reason, not an everyday bit) so I thought I had better try on the bit and the figure 8 at the same time. Both fit. I am very reluctant to use the figure 8 on Eli, even though it’s padded. Even adjusting it slightly lower than I normally would, it hits just across the dent in his face from the sinus surgeries. That seems like a bad idea to me. But I have some work-arounds that might keep him comfortable. I am not in a hurry to use either the bit or the new bridle, but I’m glad to see they both fit Eli. And ideally the bit would be used in conjunction with either a flash or a figure 8. You couldn’t pay me to put a flash on my horse (I’m not a fan) so figure 8 it is.

I didn’t ride Thursday because of high winds. It was cold and I don’t even want to know what the wind chills were, but jumps were blowing over.

I am determined to ride this evening. We’ll see if that determination endures beyond sunset.

Whimsical Wish List

Oh, the shopping you’ll do after Thanksgiving, right? Mostly I avoid Black Friday, because stuff goes on sale even more steeply discounted closer to Christmas, or what I intend to gift never goes on sale ever, or I gift gift cards. Also the crowds are an emphatic no for me. I actually went inside a grocery store Sunday night and I wanted to run over everyone with the little two-tiered shopping cart.

I am pretty much 3/4th of the way to full blown Scroogedom, but I do like all the Christmas lights. In deference to the pretty twinkly icicle lights, I have put together an outlandish list, primarily of things I would not really ever buy for myself but wouldn’t mind if they magically showed up on my doorstep. Although I would not actually expect anybody to buy such things for me, as they are all a bit extravagant. Trying to stay festive here, people.

Have you seen the Equestrian Stockholm breeches? Well, now you have.ย  I have no idea what size I would wear, and they are outside of my breeches budget. But they are pretty.

 

Okay, so this next one … you know how buying in bulk often means a better value? But you know how you feel like spending $120 on poultice seems a bit ridiculous if you only have one horse and you use poultice just every once in a while? And you know how no one wants to leave me a 23lbs bucket of Sore No More on the top of my tack trunk? (Seriously, I wouldn’t want to lift this anyway but it IS a better value than the 5lbs tub.)

I can’t get through a wish list without something Asmar, apparently.ย  They are killing it with their color palette this season. I must be entering a blue period …

This next one is for Conrad– a Friday Fox coat. Honestly, the price isn’t what’s giving me paws pause here. It’s the international shipping, plus how am I supposed to return it for a reasonable shipping cost if it doesn’t fit? But oh my gahd Conrad would look so cute in it!

And last, these things … WHY DO THEY EXIST? Purely to torment me, I think … why do I even want them? Eli told me he needed them, that’s what it must be.