“Immersed in a Cocoon of Serenity”

Hello! I am still here and kind of did not notice that I have neglected to blog for two months – for many reasons. I have various updates on Eli, Eli’s fly boots, Eli’s preternatural ability to get randomly injured, Eli’s tack, and Eli’s mommy’s (yes, me) recent realization that is it VERY IMPORTANT to leave work at work and forget about work while interacting with Eli. So that’s where the title of this post comes from – me recognizing I need to be peaceful while approaching Eli if I expect Eli to be peaceful while approaching me. This makes it sound like something dramatic happened but I really just had one exhausting day at work and failed to check my stress at the barn door. Fortunately, I realized this and dismounted and came back the next day with renewed calm and Eli was – magically? no. Responsively. – calm. So I’ll get to that more later in this post.

Moving on to the meats of this update! Eli is doing well. Eating well. Playing in turnout as the weather allows (which omg I think it rained every day in May

and now all week we are getting rain which is super weird for July in Texas but climate change and such, so … ). Going well under saddle if I have my head screwed on straight … and when is THAT never the case for any horse & rider?

Okay, so, Eli’s fly boots: I sucked it up and bought a pricey set of the Shoofly fly boots. Although are they really that pricey if you get 4 to a set? I have never bought fly boots before so I genuinely don’t know and did not research other options since basically everyone recommends these.

At the time of purchase, I was having a difficult time tracking down a blue set in size medium for Eli. So he got orange. I do like orange but wow, these would not be difficult to find if he took them off in turnout somehow. More importantly, they work. Which I am surprised about, because what stops flies from landing above the boots and crawling down the legs? Sorcery? I don’t get it. But they work! Eli’s farrier agreed that they are helping a ton with the condition of his front feet. No stomping = no cracking. He wears them almost all the time, just not when I ride him.

Oh! Before we get to Eli’s random injury of the day/week/month, I did have to get new tall boots. Okay, maybe did not have to, but. I broke the zipper on my Salentos. I mean. I really did a number on it. I zipped a boot sock into it and it took me a really long time to get the sock all the way out of the zipper, all while Eli started at me, tacked up, wondering why no cookie, no bridle, no mommy attention. I gave up and rode in the Dublin river boots and I don’t know how people do that on a regular basis. The sock and zipper suffered complete shredding annihilation. I can get into my black Ego7s as long as I am wearing thin thin thin riding tights. But even so they are snuuuuuuuug.

My orange Deniros need new zippers. Now the Salentos need new zippers. My brown Deniros are too precious for daily use. I need another option. So I ordered brown Ego7s from Equizone (highly recommend Equizone if you are not averse to ordering stuff from Europe) and can now wear breeches again. Yay.

On to Eli’s injuries. A number of weeks ago now, I came out to the barn and Eli’s back legs were a bit chewed up and swollen. He had tiny scrapes all over below the hock on both hinds, and random areas of localized swelling. I have no idea what he did and it doesn’t really matter because horses do random shit to themselves so I may as well treat and move on. I “iced” a lot with the Incrediwear circulation wraps and didn’t ride for a few days, mostly from the rain. Kept icing, rode at just a walk for a few days until all the swelling was mostly gone. He seems fine now. I did try to put the Incrediwear standing wraps on him one night, but he managed to take one off and generally doesn’t like things on his hind legs so I stuck with just the icing after that. And liberal amounts of Sore No More Gelotion.

Now for Eli’s tack: I have switched things up a little bit.

Another thing I ordered from Equizone a long while back is a Trust elliptical sweet iron dee. I like it. I think Eli likes it. Mostly I’ll still ride him in the Dynamic RS but I know he enjoys sweet iron so I wanted that option.

I noticed a few months ago that my saddle developed a squeak (ugh, probably a loose rivet, yuck). Could it be the humidity? Maybe. I also noticed Eli seemed a bit irritated near the top of his shoulder (only under saddle, not really all the time or anything). I started suspecting that his alfalfa bod, my saddle, and the Ogilvy half pad were a less than optimum combination. I swapped the Oglivy for the Thinline, got some Back on Track Mathilde pads, the weather dried out and my saddle stopped squeaking and Eli seemed more comfortable under saddle. It’s weird – it’s like the Ogilvy is just too thick and also slightly unstable. I don’t know why I suddenly experienced all this at once, but luckily I already had the Thinline and everything is working for now. I do wonder if Eli would be better in a different saddle, but due to a particular situation at work which, yes, I will get into in a minute, I am reluctant to spend much money on anything right now if what we have is serviceable already. Which it seems to be.

The little Polaroid Cube tries but damn I am having Pivo envy. Also I need to sit up.

So yeah, Eli’s tack set up is sufficient for now. My stirrups and stirrup leathers needed a bit of an update, though. I picked up some TSF stability leathers in the Riding Warehouse Memorial Day sale and I don’t know if I like them or not. I have yet to pull the trigger on any new irons. Again, trying not to spend money. To which you may respond, but you got a Trust bit and new boots … ??? Yes, well, those things happened before a particular work thing happened and I had not been concerned about that particular work thing happening for real because of reasons one might characterize as “separation of powers.”

On to the job stuff … I am, along with a couple thousand other people, in a situation that is very fluid but could still possibly end in not getting paid after September 1. Otherwise I would be saddle shopping. This is an interesting situation that has changed my attitude about my current job. I mean. I am a librarian, a public employee. I expect any job to come with some stress but I am now faced with A LOT of stress, much more than I would expect as a librarian. Books do not cause me stress so wtf. On one hand I am completely fascinated by the entire situation because I am a law nerd and a political junkie. On the other hand, I have to eat and put gas in my car and take care of my animals, so it’s a bit of a mess. If you are a law nerd like me you can follow the case.

As a result of this political Gordian knot at work, I had a stupid exhausting day earlier this week and came out to the barn with nothing but anger in me. Eli picked up on it immediately. I did tack up, and did get on, and walked around for a minute, but realized I was not in a mental state that was fair to Eli. I dismounted and felt defeated at not being able to control my emotions over stuff that I normally never even think about while I’m at the barn. But later at home I ran across a couple of posts – one from Warwick Schiller and one from Denny Emerson, both making very strong cases for staying calm around the horse if you want a calm horse to ride. I felt less lousy about dismounting so quickly.

The following day, I got to work from home (we are still hybrid right now at work) and took a lot of breaks, drank a lot of water. Bill filing started up at work and I do truly enjoy indexing legislation so that helped to have my favorite work task. I put on some labradorite bead bracelets (placebo effect is still an effect) before heading out to go ride. Eli nickered at me as always when I walked into the barn and I was much better able to leave stupid work at work and brought peace and happiness up to Eli as I got him out of his stall. And what a difference attitude can make. He was a perfect gentleman under saddle. He was cuddly on the ground. Cuddly! Him! So yeah, if you want a calm, happy horse, you gotta be calm and happy, even if it’s a difficult thing to do under whatever circumstances you might be in. You CAN control whether or not you are calm and happy around your horse. And it makes a huge difference! “Immersed in a cocoon of serenity” comes from the Denny Emerson post and it struck me as a slightly dramatic but very wise way of describing how a calm, centered, serene rider produces a calm, centered, serene horse.

Conrad will be back on the blog soon, too, and he has just as many updates! Blogging helps me track events for both Eli and Conrad, so I hope to get back to it more regularly. There are few affiliate links in this post, too, so if you feel like doing a little shopping through them I’d be very appreciative – I prefer to be proactive about my current income quandary 🙂

My Spring 2018 Equestrian Style

If y’all don’t realize by now that I LOVE CLOTHES, I might consider you illiterate. And as the seasons change, so do the styles. While I am obsessed with the Gucci FW 2018 collection, it’s not practical for riding (I am not being totally ironic here — I really am obsessed with it and I think the collection and its inspiration are pure, badass art).

But there are some ready-to-wear picks for this spring that I’ve had my eyes on — not all are necessarily “new” for spring but I wouldn’t mind if any of these wound up in my riding wardrobe between now and June.

I do not wear riding tights. I haven’t seen very many that I would be willing to wear, either, until I picked up on Botori via Instagram and the look left me wanting a pair. Tights with actual knee patches and a phone pocket? Yes! I can definitely see myself wearing these.

Okay, but back to breeches … I have, over the years, struggled with how the calves of breeches fit me. Either they are too short or too baggy. I have been on the hunt for a pair of tan breeches that fit my waist, AND my calf, aren’t too thick, and don’t raid my wallet. I may take a chance on these Equine Couture Beatta breeches. Review forthcoming? Perhaps …

But we can’t go topless on a horse. At least, I can’t. More like I won’t, really. I have been impressed lately with how RJ Classics has really stepped up their style game. Couple that with my love of pattern, and I am lusting after the Lane shirt. This pattern is definitely my favorite and so tasteful.

So this next one … if you are even remotely active on social media and you have an ex-racehorse, you are probably obsessed with this shirt that Mango Bay Design posted yesterday. If you want my world view on a t-shirt, this would be it.

Now that we are almost completely dressed, on to the accessories! Belt purses are a thing, have you noticed? This is one of those items that I have been on the fence about for a long time because I am not sure I really need one, but it would be nice to have my phone with me even while riding yet not shoved into a breeches pocket where it can (and does) bounce out and fly into the arena footing. I haven’t ever really seen one that calls to me until I saw this one from Asmar. I might be a convert.

We can’t ride without helmets. I love my GPA First Lady. I love sparkly things. What do you think comes next?


Last … is it possible to get excited about socks? For me, yes. Usually about socks with a cute pattern or print on them. Those are not the socks I am talking about today. Again, I ran across these on Instagram and these seem like the most well-thought-out socks ever designed for riders. The Achilles pad is especially appealing to me. Sometimes I am in tall boots for hours at a stretch, and my Achilles is the first thing to get ouchy from that. I think these socks could fix that issue.

What do y’all have your eyes on for adding to your riding attire collection?

Summer Riding Attire: 2017 Edition

Riding in the summer in Texas … not gonna lie, I sometimes skip riding in August altogether. Otherwise, Texans are the experts in hot-weather riding. Most often during the summer, I ride in the Kastel Denmark or EIS sun shirts and have found the Romfh Sarafina breeches to be THE BEST for summer riding in Texas. However, options abound and there are a few things I’ve got my eye on for withstanding the more mellow heat of the evenings (because everything melts in the middle of the day here).

Fior da Liso makes some of the nicest shirts available, anywhere. The ones I have (that I bought on super duper ebay overseas sale–these shirts are too expensive to pay retail), I wear to work. And some of the prints on the S/S 2017 collection are too cute for words, like the Paula shirt.

But what to wear to show for the summer? I won’t be showing this summer because I would die of heat exhaustion, but the Horseware Sara long-sleeve show shirt has a nice lace detail in the back that might provide a little extra air circulation.

Admittedly, I have no idea what kind of sports bra to wear with it! A nude one, I guess? Does anybody have this shirt?

Now, you can never have too many tee-shirts that say stuff on them. I found a few from EQUO that sum up my feelings exactly. Both are cover-ups that you can wear over a show shirt, and they can be taken off while wearing a helmet because of the extra-wide neck line. I love targeted design considerations like that.

There is nothing more accurate.

And while we are browsing the EQUO website, may I point out their schooling breeches? These look like yoga pants, but with sticky knees … unfortunately the price tag puts them well out of my comfort zone for buying just for schooling. I will merely admire them from afar.

But we all know by now how much I love the Romfh Sarafina breeches — thanks again to Carey! So when the Gabriella breeches came out, I knew I’d need them. Yes, need.

I got them in White Sand, so I can show in them, too, just in case, ya know?

They are low-rise, and have sticky knees, both pluses in my book. Can’t wait to see these in more colors!

So, as you can see in the above picture, I like cute socks. While browsing “funky socks” online, and narrowing it a bit to equestrian vendors, I ran across Inkstable socks. Corgi Inkstable socks, to be clear.

Um. I know some people that might need these. Any chance there will be a dachshund version?

Just one more accessory to go, people, and a bonus item that I really normally would never write about …

The accessory? A belt.

Ruespari belts look like the summer must-have equestrian belt from where I’m standing. They seem a bit pricey for being elastic, but that’s not unheard of in the equestrian world. The equestrian-style closures are really cute, though, so I couldn’t overlook these. I would happily accept one as a gift. *hint* (Actually, no, don’t spend like that. Very irresponsible. Said the horse owner.)

Okay. If you have made it this far, I have one last item to recommend for summer riding, and that item is underwear. Not something I feel very strongly about, except for this particular pair …

These Ex-Officio Sport Mesh briefs are pretty much my go-to for riding when it’s hot and humid out. Zero chafing. Quick-drying. Lightweight, and comfortable. More than I would normally pay for one pair of underwear, but I don’t regret having a couple pairs tucked away in a drawer for when I need them. These are worth the investment.

I shamelessly took pictures from vendors for this post. Happy shopping, right?!

 

 

Spring 2017 Equestrian Style Wish List

I’m trying to stay on a stricter budget this year but clothes don’t last forever. Inevitably, a new pair of breeches or a new shirt become a necessity as older clothes start to fall apart. I try to buy quality stuff that lasts, but every once in a while I try a new-to-me brand that doesn’t live up to expectations, or simply falters under the daily wear-and-tear of riding. With all this in mind, a handful of brands have proved their worth to me and always come out with new and cute stuff seasonally. So here are my Spring 2017 picks!

Romfh Sarafina Breeches in Lake Blue

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I recently sold a few pairs of breeches that fit me weirdly. Sell 2, buy 1, kind of like that whole promulgate one rule, repeal two … or something. I love both the Lake Blue and Periwinkle color for Romfh’s Spring 2017 collection, but ultimately decided my closet jives with Lake Blue the best. (Super curious about the new Gabriella style, too — anybody tried them?)

Asmar Equestrian Devon Technical Show Shirt

ae1708_whiteblack_back
I don’t need another show shirt, but if I were in the market, this would be my first pick. The few Asmar things I have are outstandingly crafted and have worn very well. Plus look at the back design! C’est chic.

EGO7 Orion Boots in Chocolate Brown

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What color looks great with lake blue? Yep, these exist now. I have been nothing but impressed with my current pair and my brown Ariats are basically dead (after merely a year!). These are an economical choice, too, when compared to custom.

Build-Your-Own GPA First Lady

gpa
You can do this now. Go do it. (Admittedly, I only just now found this option but maybe it’s already been around a while?) Seriously, no, I do not need another helmet. My hope is that when I do in a few years, the First Lady designs are still around because the shape fits my head the best.

Summer Riding Attire: 2016 Edition

My first recommendation for riding during the summer is protect your skin from the sun, duh! Start with a wide-brim helmet or visor to keep the sun off your face. I ride in a GPA First Lady (I do not have the 2X) that has a wide brim. This helmet shades my eyes very well, although the brim is not so wide as to offer complete protection from the sun. I am looking at adding a visor to the mix for extra sun protection–I am leaning toward a Soless visor, but also considering a jute Equivisor.

I’ve thrown together a few outfits that are typical of my summer riding attire, all intended to help me stay cool. Or, at least, less hot.

Outfit #1

red

Romfh Sarafina Euro Seat Breeches & EIS COOL Shirt

Finding the right balance of staying cool, or really just not too hot at this point, and sun protection is the key to summer riding attire. Lightweight, synthetic-blend Icefil fabric tops absolutely rule the roost of equestrian summer shirts. I have two favorites, Equi In Style and Kastel Denmark, and I have almost an embarrassing number of tops in each brand. EIS features bright colors and stiff collars that stay upright, and a straight fit that works for my body. While retail can seem steep, I have frequently found these shirts on sale, or at a store that accepts coupon codes on EIS shirts. I’ve never actually paid $96 for one. The Tack Room Online periodically sends out generous coupon codes, and a few of my EIS shirts have come from them. I definitely suggest subscribing to their email list.

Romfh Sarafina breeches are new-to-me and I just picked up a pair in Sea Glass. I LOVE this perfectly peacock shade and they look great with my brown Ariats. I have been hunting for a reasonably-priced alternative to Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunters–haven’t we all–and these are superior to Trophy Hunters in a few ways. The first is the price–retail around $150 and well under the Trophy Hunter price tag of $190. The second is the fabric. Stretchy, soft, sporty, wicks sweat to an extent, conforms to my shape without clinging, conforms to my waist without gapping, and smooth sock bottoms instead of Velcro … so many features about this fabric make me prefer it to the Trophy Hunter fabric. The cut of these breeches suits the hunter/jumper aesthetic, and the color offerings will satisfy both those who prefer traditional palettes and riders who like brighter colors that pop. The fit is even a bit generous, so if you are in between sizes, size down instead of up. The white and tan are show-worthy, and this will not be my only pair of Sarafinas for very long.

Outfit #2

purple

Goode Rider Legacy Knee Patch Breeches & Kastel Denmark Short Sleeve Polo

I have already reviewed the Goode Rider Legacy breeches, and my feelings for them run deep. The styling, fabric, and fit suit me, and they transition from schooling to showing easily. Please make them in white, Goode Rider! They are a great summer-weight breech and I highly recommend them. I purchased two pair from Adams Horse and Pet Supply, a fantastic tack shop in Maine with excellent customer service and a great selection. I want to visit Maine solely for the purpose of visiting this place in person.

For my birthday, I got a couple of the Kastel Denmark short sleeve polos. While they do not offer the same sun protection as their long sleeve shirts, the fabric is the same–that wonderful Icefil. The fabric is silkier than the EIS fabric (not all Icefils are equal) and the collars are less stiff. The fit of Kastel shirts is contoured and extremely figure-flattering, so if you are shapelier than I am these might be the way to go for you. Their color palette is extensive and sophisticated. The vibrant purple they came out with recently looks great with grey, taupe, or blue breeches. And it makes me happy. The power of color is real, y’all.

Outfit #3

tank

One Horse Threads Tank & Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunter Breeches

Ugh. Y’all. I have a very Brokeback relationship with Trophy Hunters. We are all familiar with them, so I’ll just leave it at that.

What I CAN get excited about are the tank tops from One Horse Threads. For those of you sun worshippers who fear no tans, One Horse Threads tanks tops need to get in your closet. If I know I will be riding when the sun is low enough on the horizon to be less oppressive, I forgo the Icefil and throw on a tank top like the one above.

One last piece that has quickly become a staple for my summer riding is the Asmar Equestrian Logo Long Sleeve Tee.

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I have a kelly green one, and I just saw a plum color that is not on the website yet, but I WANT IT. You want one of these shirts, too, if you live in a hot climate. This thing wicks sweat like you wouldn’t believe. The humidity here was Houston% recently, and this shirt kept me dry dry dry. Not kidding. My only regret is that I didn’t believe Amanda–I should have got one of these a long time ago.

Other great products appearing in this post are:

Spur Belt, purchased from Equestri Lifestyle, Baseball hat from Luxe Eq, & Ariat Heritage Contour Field Boots

What do you wear while riding in the summer? Does anyone have any good over-the-counter face sunscreen recommendations for people with sensitive and temperamental skin?

 

 

Mane Jane Spur Straps Review

I’ve been wearing spurs regularly for years on just about any horse, and more recently have been riding Eli in the roller ball spurs every ride. Basic black leather spur straps, while ever so utilitarian, just weren’t cutting it for me any more.

I follow the Styled Equestrian on Instagram and discovered Mane Jane through her account. While I had seen spur straps with fancy silver buckles or rhinestones here and there, these colored spur straps with cute little creatures and motifs on the keepers absolutely blew my mind. Where have these been all my life??? I bought a pair for myself, and also a pair for a friend as a Christmas present, so I have been sitting on these a while, not posting about them until after Christmas to keep the surprise for my friend.

foxdetail First of all, trying to decide which ones I wanted was quite a chore, because they were all so cute, and the possibilities endless with customization available. I decided for my first pair to go a little conservative and get brown straps with a little fox face on the keepers.

I received the straps within days of my order in some really cute packaging, with peppermints and a branded seamless hot pink hair tie thrown in–Mane Jane knows what horse chicks like for sure! We never have enough hair ties or peppermints. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what the leather quality would be like. It’s hard to tell from a picture, and sometimes brightly colored leather can come off looking a bit plastic-y. This is absolutely not the case with Mane Jane spur straps. The straps I ordered were soft, supple, and even had a subtle gold glitter throughout the brown. I have now been wearing them for weeks, and they have held up beautifully, without cracking, and they clean as easily as any other equestrian strap goods.

twotoneObviously, I’m going to need another set of straps! Now I just have to decide which ones … this could take a while …