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.  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.  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.

Lund Saddlery Calfskin Stirrup Leathers Review

Stirrup leathers are arguably one of the most important pieces of tack — if you are going to use them, they better be durable, right? When I had an opportunity to try the new Lund Saddlery stirrup leathers I jumped at it. I have been so impressed by the bridle that Eli now wears it every ride. The breastplates and girth are equally well-designed and high quality. Why should the stirrup leathers be any different? I had been using a pair of 54″ Toulouse nylon core leathers that served quite well for a number of years — not exactly sure when I bought them, but it’s been years. But they were in pretty bad shape at this point — no major fraying or breakage, but definitely on the cusp of failure.

And once I had the Lund leathers in hand, I knew immediately I liked them better than the Toulouse. While the Toulouse are nice, the Lund stirrup leathers are absolutely high-end, buttery, fine-grained calf, with a nylon core. They were not stiff at all and honestly I think I could have gotten away with using them without any oiling or conditioning, but I don’t like to do that to nice leather. At $88USD, $115CAD these are a steal. I have also used the Beval nylon core leathers that run for $120 and these are completely comparable, if not a little nicer. I find they have a feel more like CWD or Devoucoux leathers, although I have only picked those up in passing and never purchased because my money tree died in the drought.

Length: Lund stirrup leathers come in a handful of lengths, so if you aren’t interested in trimming excess stirrup leather (as George Morris likes to advise) you can probably get the right length for your leg and discipline. I chose the 52″ ones. The holes are also numbered for convenience, although if you’re like me your legs aren’t all that even so you might not have your stirrup leathers on the same number on both sides …

Thickness: Thickness is actually a really important factor to me in stirrup leathers. I want thick enough that I know they’ll hold weight and won’t wear too thin at pressure points like at the top of the stirrup iron or at the stirrup bars on the saddle, or the holes themselves. Most stirrup leathers fit this profile. At the same time I don’t want them too thick. The Toulouse were so thick I could not adjust them while sitting in the saddle at all. I tested that the first time I rode using the Lund stirrup leathers. I tried to approximate how long they would need to be before mounting, but of course I like my stirrups hiked up so I had to shorten them a few holes from in the saddle. I had no problem at all doing this. Huge advantage right there of the Lund leathers!

Color: The leathers come in what I would call a chestnut color, and I think the actual color name might be Australian Nut. If you like the color, I think just a coat of conditioning and you’d be good to go. I wanted to match the leathers to my saddle, which is a warm brown with reddish undertones.

Darkening process: I have a couple different ways to darken tack, depending on what that tack is. I typically do not soak leathers in a vat of oil, like you could do with the Sedgwick leather of Lund bridles (although I don’t do that to bridle leather either). So to make the color richer, I started with 3 or 4 coats of Hydrophane darkening oil. The leathers took the oil beautifully, and I finished up with conditioning with Belvoir. I still condition them regularly, and occasionally put on another coat of Hydrophane. They’re a nice, deeper chestnut color now, although I think I could get them even a little darker to match my saddle better, but I don’t want to go too dark, so I am doing this gradually.

Durability:  Obviously until you use a pair of leathers for years, you can’t speak to the durability. But there are some features that can indicate durability and quality in a pair of leathers, such as the feel of the leather and the stitching. Both leather quality — hello, calfskin — and the stitching of the Lund stirrup leathers stand up to scrutiny. The edges are also finished, and have not shown any signs of wear or fraying yet.

If you are looking for new leathers or know of an equestrian in the market for new leathers, I can’t recommend these enough AND they are under $100USD! I haven’t paid under $100 for leathers since I was like 12. And these could definitely be priced much higher for the quality.

If the Shoe Fits

I think I mentioned earlier that I had been stalking some things on eBay for some time. When I finally messaged the seller, she offered a great deal if I purchased both things. I felt morally obligated to purchase both things at the price she quoted to me (practically a 2-for-1 deal!).

I only had one operative pair of tall boots and needed a schooling pair to keep the black EGO7s in shape for shows. For day-to-day riding, I needed something else. So now I have two pair of DeNiros that were exactly my size, new in box, and the chocolate brown is gorgeous.

Three pairs of tall boots, two pairs of which I hope to keep in good shape for at least a few years — what a luxury! I got the chocolate brown DeNiros broken in, which took all of two rides, and now have moved on to using the “Cotto brown” pair for schooling.

“Cotto brown” is apparently Italian for “orange.”

I applied many coats of Hydrophane to the orange boots, and that did mellow the color somewhat. Now time will tell how well they wear and how the color will change with sweat, water, dust, glycerin soap, Belvoir, and frequent — almost daily — use. I will probably periodically wipe more Hydrophane on them, too. If that stuff can make Edgewood orange go away, I have a feeling these boots will get a few shades darker eventually. The fit is perfect and they are solely for schooling, so I am not too concerned with the color, although they will probably look pretty gross against the coat of a blood bay. Eli gets more mahogany during winter, so maybe that will look better?

More Bit Geek Stuff

Many thanks, everyone who commented on the French Link post — I am generally and genuinely interested in equestrian terminology and always find answers to a question about term usage illuminating.

Along these same lines, I could again ask questions about what you call certain types of bits, so I will. I will leave these questions very open-ended. (Keep in mind I am not asking what each bit is for, just what you’d call it. I am not trying to open the leverage can of worms.)

Fulmer or full cheek?

Elevator or gag?

See how open-ended that is?

I have pretty specific pictures in my mind of the difference between a fulmer and a full cheek, but I have seen either called both.

Elevator or gag … that’s more complicated! The bit that first comes to mind when I hear “gag” is a Cheltenham gag, but that is not the only type of gag bit out there–many bits have a gag action and aren’t what I or anyone else would call a Cheltenham gag.

When I hear “elevator” I picture those 3- or 4-ring bits that people call elevator, Dutch gag, bubble bit, or Pessoa bit. I know y’all know what I’m talking about–what do you call them? (Let’s skip talking about how and how many reins you use with these bits.)

I think this is what some people might refer to as a “true” elevator?

One final question– is it possible to use fulmer/bit loops on a Nelson gag? Like, how would that work? I can’t picture it because of how gag cheeks work, so I am thinking emphatically no.

See what I’m saying?

This post is pretty slanted toward the English disciplines (especially the over fences ones) as I am not at all familiar with bit names for Western, Gaited/Park, or Driving. I welcome any answers along those lines, too!

 

EGO 7 Orion Field Boot Review Update

Back in October/November-ish, I ordered EGO 7 Orion Field Boots from Germany. This means I spent $340 USD for boots that retail at $499 here (many tack shops have them in stock now).

And you know what? I’d buy these boots again at $499 in a heartbeat. 10 months in to wearing these boots fairly frequently, they have worn beautifully.

So I’ll break this down for you piece by piece based on my tall boot comparison chart.

FIT

The EGO 7 fit is S L I M. If your measurements are toward the larger end of a range in the size chart, I suggest sizing up. I fell about in the middle of the range for my calf size and the fit is very, very snug. I am thinking I might need a second pair for winter riding with a larger calf size if I want boots that will fit over thicker breeches and socks. They fit me well over thinner breeches and socks. The tall height worked out perfectly for me, as did the foot size 39. The break in time was about a week, and not once did I get a blister anywhere.

FUNCTION

The Orions have so many useful, purposeful features. Most importantly, they work well for riding. But no detail was left unattended in the design of these boots. There is a lot to cover here!

The hardware is high quality and durable–EGO 7s have the same zippers as Tucci boots so you know you can count on them to last a while.

The inner calf panel interested me, although I wasn’t quite sure what to think about it initially. Turns out, it’s about as grippy as regular (good) leather but it doesn’t abrade my saddle’s flaps. And considering I just got a new-to-me Devoucoux, I am glad the panels are there.

The stretch panel has a slight sheen to it, but it is so subtle that I don’t find it noticeably distracting. The stretch panel also seems extremely durable and not super stretchy. Like you know how the elastic gussets in paddock boots get all wavy and useless after a lot of wear? This will not be happening to the EGO 7 stretch panel–it’s a different type of material that has some stretch, just enough for a little bit more of a custom-looking fit.

The spur rests look like none I have ever seen and give the option of three or four different places to wear your spur. Eli appreciates I can wear my spur quite low with these boots without it slipping down too far.

As far as features that ensure a good fit, the elastic zipper guards, padded heel guards, and thin insoles all add to the comfort of these boots. Honestly, I am surprised more boot makers don’t have the elastic zipper guards–it makes them so much easier to snap over the zipper pull keepers at the top of tall boots.

Last, these boots have the right type of grippy outsoles for staying put on the stirrup iron treads. The soles in general are on the harder side, which I now know is a necessity for me after my experience with Parlanti soles. I don’t really want a sneaker feel for my tall boots.

STYLE

I think in my previous look at these boots back in November, I may have said I probably wouldn’t show in them … well, I did show in them. Polished up, these are perfect for all 3 rings. There is also a dress boot version for all y’all DQs. The toe cap, slim ankles, slightly tapered, rounded toe, softly-contoured Spanish top, and unique spur rests give these boots a stylish but contemporary look that works for showing or schooling.

COST

These boots are without a doubt worth the $499 that most people in America would be paying for them — I know most people prefer to try on boots before buying them rather than ordering from overseas and hoping for the best. But if you are willing to risk it, the Euro hasn’t bounced back all the way yet, so you may save a bit if you choose to order from Germany like I did. Even at $499, I think they are a budget-friendly tall boot and a well-fitted option when stacked up against more expensive custom brands.

Without reservations, I highly recommend these boots. They are already holding up much, much better than many other tall boots that I have tried. Added bonus–they should be out in brown soon!

 

French Link

I have a semantic question for you: what kind of bit do you call a French link?

A French link, to me, denotes a very specific type of double-joint of a bit, like the above one. But I frequently see people describing almost any double-jointed bit as a French link, especially the double-jointed Herm Sprenger bits.

I don’t call this a French link. Anyway, it’s German.

So, to you, what’s a French link?