“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?

Top Notch: If the Bonnet Fits Bonnets

Fly bonnet, ear bonnet, fly veil, ear net … whatever you call them, they aren’t optional in Texas in the spring and summer. I wanted a few with mesh ears, so that Eli’s brain might stay a little cooler even in warm weather but his ears would still be protected from bugs. If the Bonnet Fits offers the mesh ears, so I ordered two … and then wound up getting a third with regular ears & ear embroidery. I have reviewed these bonnets before, and the new ones meet if not surpass the quality of my other If the Bonnet Fits bonnets. And as an added bonus, when I tried the mesh ear bonnets on Eli, he didn’t even shake his head! He always gives a bit of a shake when I put bonnets on him so for him not to do that makes me think he prefers the mesh ears.

I know many of you readers and fellow bloggers may already have a bonnet or a few from If the Bonnet Fits, so I will save you the trouble of reading any more about them and just give you the good stuff. I bucked the subtle trend …

meshears peridotandmerlot

greencrystals profiled

posed earembroidery

colorstory modelish

Strawberry Update

healingEli’s stifle scrape looks much better already. I’ve given him Sunday and Monday off, so I’ll see how he’s feeling under saddle tonight. He might get a bonus liniment bath depending on how he feels. If he’s off behind at all I’ll be consulting with his vets, but he looked spry enough in turnout.

I also got some more professional pictures from the show! Love it when the photographers have everything available for purchase the next day.

prophotoThanks for all the positive comments yesterday–I’m feeling the ammy love. In that spirit, here’s a brief clip of one of the lines that rode well for us:

Yellow line.mp4 from rennikka on Vimeo.

Nothing wrong with that! Although I noticed that Eli seems to have filled out in his shoulders and chest a bit. The three point looks somewhat constrictive in the pictures. I have a few more holes I can let it out to, but if he gets any beefier, I’ll have to size up to the full. I’ll be sticking with the PS of Sweden three point if that becomes the case. The black has even grown on me!

One last thing for fellow ottb owners whose horses are campaigning for jobs in the Ministry of Silly Walks every time any kind of wrap or boot is on their hinds: Sheepskin Eskadron fetlock boots. Eli doesn’t walk like a drunk rooster after I put them on. The down side is they fill up with arena dirt, but every fetlock boot I’ve tried has done the same.

Look for another Rider Adapts post later this week!

USG Bonnet Review

mintyeliEli makes a pretty good bonnet model. I’m just a bad photographer.

It’s no secret that I’m into bonnets for my horse. Bonnets keep the flies from bugging my horse’s ears and muffle sounds just enough to make it easier for me to keep Eli’s focus (kind of?). George Morris isn’t into bonnets for that same reason. Well, we can’t all be perfect. My horse will wear a bonnet, God of Hunt Seat Equitation! Heresy is not new to me.

So of course, when I say I “needed” a bonnet for schooling, just smile and nod. I want to keep my nice custom bonnets nice, but I still want to use a bonnet at home. As far as price and fit go, the USG bonnet fit the bill for a good schooling bonnet. And once I got my hands on it in person, I realized this bonnet would be nice enough for the show ring, as well.

bonnetwithstrapgoodsDouble cording, scalloped edge, nice material, a nice, open stitch (probably machine-stitched), subtle branding on the ear … I am very impressed with the quality of this bonnet for the price, ~$30. SmartPak has some colors, but KLSelect.com has MANY colors. I picked up this mint & anthracite bonnet from KLSelect.com.

bonnetearsPeople indulge me by complimenting the color, but it kind of does look good on a bay. The bonnet is also available in more show-ring appropriate colors such as black or white, and I like this bonnet enough to be seriously considering a white one.

Eli had no problems wearing it. In fact, the bonnet has a feature that makes me think its designers KNEW how popular anatomical bridles would be.

topbonnetThere is plenty of material behind the ears–enough to keep this bonnet in place even with the wider, shaped crownpiece of my PS of Sweden bridle. This is probably my second favorite feature or the bonnet, the first being its cotton construction. I will definitely be using this bonnet all summer long.

The bonnet does lose some of appeal in my eyes for one reason.

dyebleedThe color bleeds. A lot. I hand washed this thing three times and color was still bleeding out into the water. I set it out on a towel to air dry, and the color bled into the towel. If you get this bonnet, hand wash really well it before using it. I think I’ve got the excess color out of the bonnet to where I feel comfortable to put it on my horse’s head without having to worry about the dye/color irritating him or staining him.

Overall, however, the USG bonnet is an excellent value. I recommend it, with the one reservation being that the dye washes out of the bonnet.

A Bridle for All Seasons

If you are looking for detailed, well-written, helpful reviews of the PS of Sweden High Jump Bridle, you can find them on $900 Facebook Pony and SprinklerBandits.

What you will find here is an illuminated ode in free verse to my new favorite Bridle.

Photo courtesy of She Moved to Texas
Photo courtesy of She Moved to Texas

New favorite Bridle, you don’t look like anything I’ve known, but eventually I came to realize you were next on my list of bridles I’d like to own.

You see, my gallant steed can get testy, irascible even, about anything he doesn’t like.

The list of things he doesn’t like is long, but you, Bridle,

You are not on it!

psofyes
like wearing pyjamas

He finds you comfortable, and he harbors sensitivity more exuberantly than the Princess of the Princess and the Pea. You, Bridle, are comfortable indeed!

uniquecrownpiecePoll and jaw pressure relieved!

bridleprofileYour unique form, it grows more favorably in my eyes by the day.

O, the endless number of easily-adorned sparkly browbands piques my desire.

And so, Bridle, I leave here for you a testament to the athleticism you inspire:

oxer
Photo courtesy of Diane Segura

My horse will don, ever constantly as we ride, your elegant and uncommon contours!

 

 

The 27 Stages of Mortification

stallwindowsThis is important, y’all. I want to clarify something I wrote in my show recap that, understandably so, y’all might have thought was just hyperbole on my part. But there actually ARE 27 stages of mortification.

It is possible to go through the entire process in about 6 seconds.

  1. Confusion as to why my body just did something my brain did not tell it to do
  2. Curiosity about whether I may be under the spell of a witch
  3. Or a body snatcher
  4. Or whether I am experiencing amnesia
  5. Decide amnesia is least likely
  6. Get control of rebellious/possessed/enthralled body
  7. Realize that what rebellious/etc. body just did is actually pretty bad
  8. Feel shame
  9. Feel remorse
  10. Crave doughnuts
  11. And beer
  12. Feel thirsty
  13. Get brain back on track, and tell body to get its shit together
  14. Sit tall
  15. Piercingly gaze forward
  16. Accept that body has made a mistake and that brain is a slacker
  17. Focus on the beer waiting for me at the end of all this
  18. No wait, brain, focus on the task at hand
  19. Attempt to accomplish task at hand
  20. Wonder what body looks like accomplishing the task at hand
  21. Wonder if people are watching me
  22. Confirm that people are indeed watching me
  23. Piercingly gaze forward again
  24. Suppress urge to scream and whimper
  25. Accept the difficulty of the situation and pursue it to its natural conclusion anyway
  26. Sigh
  27. Shrug shoulders and smile awkwardly

I imagine each stage is highly gif-able, too, possibly even exclusively with cat gifs, but I’m not that fancy.

EliIsSparklyPS of Sweden High Jump bridle reviewed tomorrow!

Long Weekend: TWO Lessons

Looking for pictures? Skip to the second half of the post.

Last minute decision from the people in charge of people at work resulted in the library being closed for Good Friday. Hooray! I asked my trainer on Thursday night if we could school Eli on Friday and she said “sure!”

Eli has been doing great flat work, so I was looking forward to a productive lesson, and I think I got one. One thing that I’ve been working on–and it still needs work in the form of finessing so it will never not need work–is how I ride to the base of the jump. Last summer, I got into a rut of picking up the reins, taking my leg off, and thereby chipping in. So how does one work on not doing this, and instead stay on pace, keep hands steady and relatively low, and close leg (just a little, not a lot)? Mental game. I am trying to develop it. Basically, I am trying to program my muscle memory in to just knowing that if I don’t know where I am in front of a jump distance-wise, my reaction needs to be close leg, not pick up rein. I think I kinda am finally getting that down, as quite a few times during my lesson Friday, as soon as I felt my self hesitating, I closed my leg. Consequently, Eli was all “RAWR” and trainer was all, “um, could you maybe, um, you know, LESS.” However, I ride in a program where trainer would rather ask me to chill out and drive a little less than tell me to step up my game and get going already. It’s a good feeling, knowing my horse and I have the energy and the desire to attack the jumps now.

However, the bad thing in the lesson was our turns. And not just the turns themselves, but the ride to the jumps we’d roll back to. The turns were messy, and therefore, twice, I reverted to the pick up the reins habit instead of the new close the leg habit I’m trying to hone. Each time, trainer asked me to come back through and correct the ride. The turns were still messy, but I kept Eli going forward through them, instead of trying to hold him in the turn, and we got to much better, easy, non-chippy distances. (We jumped a 3’6″ Swedish on an angle, for crying out loud–of course I’m going to miss at that the first time! Ha! Trainer still insisted I plan for success and nail that s.)

So my flat work project for this week is circles. I’d been working on transitions and some lateral stuff, and that has done wonders for Eli over fences, and even helped him get leads while we’re cruising around the jumps. But rollbacks? We just haven’t done anything lately that translates to easy turning and steerability on course. Adjustability, yes, but if you get stuck at the apex of a rollback turn you can’t get out of, you immediately lose the ability to adjust. You can’t turn anywhere if you can’t go forward, and you can’t go forward if you’re trying to turn with your reins instead of your leg and seat. My oversight. Flat work circle camp starts today.

So after this lesson, which over all was great, not because we were great, but because I made mistakes that I then successfully corrected, trainer and I discussed doing a grid the following day. Something easy, to take Eli down a notch, as he was pretty amped Friday around the jumps.

I consulted my Linda Allen book, and decided a good exercise for Eli to keep him relaxed but also not lackadaisical would be:

easygridEli was pretty easy through it. Trainer and I were both happy that he was relaxed enough without being dull. He certainly tried to tell me that we should be cantering a few times, but I just relaxed my hand and pet his neck and he decided that he could then trot to the exercise. He’s getting that jumper go button. I love it. One last MAJOR take away from the grid was that I am chasing the jump a little with my shoulders, so I need to really concentrate on not doing that, and let Eli jump up to me instead of ducking at him. The rest of this post is media.

bigtrot
Okay, so when I said easy and relaxed, I meant specific to Eli.

 

jump

air

trotpole

oxer

leapafterleap

odetokneesAnd since it’s obvious the above photos are screen shots from videos, it’s only fair I post the videos. We didn’t film every time through, just a few times.

20150404_113914.mp4 from rennikka on Vimeo.

20150404_114232.mp4 from rennikka on Vimeo.