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.

 

Amateuritis

I had a bad case of the amateurs on Saturday. Everything rubbed me the wrong way — the wind, the bright sunlight, plenty of things all beyond my control. Things that I usually just accept and move on, because getting upset about things I can’t control is a waste of energy. But I simply did not have the capacity of acceptance on Saturday.

swedish from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Eli, for his part, although clearly tense about the wind (it was really, really windy), remained professional and took the few fences we jumped quite well. But I really just wanted some shade, some champagne, and to let Eli graze for a while. My endlessly patient and understanding trainer let me off the hook and I spent a little extra time cleaning tack while Eli dried in front of the fans. Cue world’s tiniest violin.

box jump from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Sunday was a whole different story. The weather did me a few favors, too. Eli felt great under saddle and fully accepted a different bit I had wanted to try on him that we might show in (just a bit with a hint of extra breaking power). I am still not sure about being able to show in May, but am counting on showing in June. What a difference a day (and some clouds) makes!

Riding with Uncertainty

A more accurate title of this post would be “riding whilst uncertain about something outside of riding that could affect my riding.” But that’s too long. I’m going for a little practicality here.

Anyone getting on a horse is probably comfortable with a moderate amount of uncertainty (or just stupid, either way) because of the nature of horses. Is he going to spook at that pile of poles the ninth time we trot past, after trotting past eight other times without incident? Is he going to step on a rock and come up lame from a stone bruise that later abscesses? Am I going to see a stupid distance and fail to make a decision so that my horse stops and I end up picking splinters out of my teeth?

We of course also ride with uncertainty about our own skills and abilities. Is my horse not getting his leads because I suck at it? Or is it because he hurts? Or maybe he doesn’t care even if I am asking correctly? Or maybe it’s Tuesday?

We even all experience a little bit of daily uncertainty about whether we will be able to afford this sport for much longer or at all. We sometimes question whether the time we put in is worth the stress these animals can cause us. We spend too much on vet bills, we try to fit square pegs into round holes, we try to get better every day even in the face of setbacks in communication, health, finances, the wrong tack, daylight savings, or footing.

The view may change but the perspective will not

Personally, I have already worked through a lot of this uncertainty — I am comfortable with my shortcomings as a rider, knowing that I try to improve every time I get on my horse (plus he keeps improving, too, so that helps). I am comfortable with horses being unpredictable. I accept that my wallet is not a good match for equine pursuits but I will pursue regardless. The uncertainty I am not comfortable with, that I am facing now, has to do with my health. Specifically, my vision. I’m losing it, apparently. And not in an “I just need a stronger prescription for eyeglasses” way. Totally annoying.

The first thing that comes to mind is always the worst case scenario and I don’t think that’s me. Not yet. I can still see, I just have a blind spot that will probably never go away. I don’t know how much or if this will change over time. The vision loss I have experienced thus far was not even obvious to me until I went in for my regular annual eye exam and once the eye patch was over my right eye during the visual field exam I noticed that there was something very, very wrong with my left eye. “Like, whoa, that is fucked up” was my first thought. I didn’t think much about it after that and just let my eye doctor tell me about the possibilities and request more diagnostic exams for me and prescribe me some eye drops.

And then I got to the barn. It kind of hit me then. What will the barn be like if I can’t see? What will riding be like? No, I will not give up riding no matter how much my vision dwindles over time. It may not even get all that much worse with treatment. But if I ever lose so much vision that I have to change how I ride or which horses I ride–what will that be like? How much vision loss is enough to say “no more jumping”? I even think that if I could, I’d trade my hearing to get my vision back. Which is a selfish and childish thing to think, but really, I don’t need to hear anything else ever again. However, I need to see.

perspective from patentlybay on Vimeo.

This isn’t even that much of an issue yet, but the uncertainty about how long my vision will last makes me consider the future in a much different light. There are plenty of people with far worse conditions who ride in the face of disabilities and adversity no matter what. Seeing them do it — I know I can, too. Not riding is not on the table.

What uncertainties related to riding have you grappled with?

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 …

 

Wildflowers, a Lesson, and Storms

I had a relatively quiet weekend–honestly, I had only ridden Eli on Tuesday and Friday of last week, so I thought he might be a handful for Saturday’s lesson.

wildflowers from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Nope! Not at all. He offered no shenanigans and saved our asses twice. I am thinking this horse is officially well-schooled at this point. Still a sass monster, but also forgiving when it comes to my (often grave) mistakes over fences. Most of the lesson went really well from my end of things. But for one of the trips around a few fences, I trotted in and cantered out of a line that would normally be six strides if you are trotting in. I had already cantered through it in the five strides. Around stride two after trotting in, my brain suddenly forgot we trotted in and I was like, wow why is this five such a struggle, we won’t get there?!?! Hate you sometimes, brain. So I jammed Eli into a 5 1/2 distance and promptly remembered once it was too late that, oh yeah, we had trotted in. EVEN BETTER, for the next fence on course, I decided to chase the gap, jumped ahead, and Eli was all, NO, cookie lady and he chipped in rather than take what would have been a dangerous distance had the fence been any higher. Thank you for telling me to shut up, Eli.

Lesson learned. Next time through, I rode a patient six and WAITED for the distance at the skinny where I tried to kill us before, and Eli nailed a lovely jump at every effort. It would have been a good lesson on film, although I have no media. Sad face. After that time through, though, my trainer had us stop because, her words, she likes to end early if the horse performs perfectly, as a reward. Plus Eli landed every single lead, too! He is loving his new hunter lifestyle, I think. My trainer and I talked about how he seemed to really enjoy the methodical process of putting together a hunter course–more straight lines, big turns, even pace. It’s tough for me to wrap my brain around still, but ultimately will be good for me as a rider to get us sorted for the hunter ring.

We had crazy storms Sunday morning, although not as crazy as last time. I was actually at the bran as they rolled through, and by lunchtime the sun was out again. Too wet to ride yesterday, but perhaps today with more sun the fields will be dry enough for me to catch a quick ride before sunset.

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?