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.
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.
Obviously, I’m going to need another set of straps! Now I just have to decide which ones … this could take a while …
Eli’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.
Thanks 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:
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!
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:
Eli 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.
And 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.
To suggest Eli is “girthy” would be an understatement. I have been using the Lettia Coolmax nylon girth with elastic on both sides on him since, like, the second time I rode him because his girth area is sensitive. I actually hated these girths (I tried one on a different jumper I owned and felt completely unstable), right up until I had to tack up Eli regularly. He just minded this type of girth a lot less than a leather girth.
I noticed that Lettia also made a memory foam nylon double elastic girth. $79.99 later, and I had one in Eli’s typical Lettia girth size, 50″.
There are a lot of things to like about this girth. One is that Eli seems to be comfortable in it, and isn’t any more girthier that he is with the Lettia Coolmax girth. Two, it’s memory foam. So squish. Want for pillow. Want for car seat. Want for desk chair. Want for feet. Pretty cool that it comes in girths, though!
The third and overwhelmingly important feature for me is that the girth is machine washable. I have already washed it once, hung it to dry, and it came out basically looking like new.
The memory foam is along the entire length of the girth and is thick and squishy without being bulky. It is not as thick as, say, an Ogilvy jumper half pad.
Two more features of the girth that make it appealing to me and very useful are the buckles and the center dee ring. The buckles are Lettia’s Clik design, that have springs that make tightening the girth while you’re in the saddle a snap because they hold the prongs of the buckles in position. While I do try to tighten the girth from the ground before I get on, I may need to bring it up another hole after trotting around. Without these springs on the buckles, it would be a struggle, partly because getting Eli to stand still for longer than 7 seconds under saddle is not currently possible, so I am usually trying to tighten the girth while he’s walking.
The girth also has a center dee, handy for training aids and other equipment, like breastplates with clips, draw reins, or martingales with clips. Or neck-stretchers, but I don’t use those, although I think they do have clips for attaching to a girth dee.
There are a couple downsides to this girth. The memory foam side that rests against the horse is not especially grippy the way sheepskin or synthetic fleece is, so I have experienced a great potential for the saddle to slip out of place a bit. I know if I get the girth tight enough, this isn’t an issue. However, the mounting block I use is at the base of a hill and the arena is at the top of the hill. It’s a short hill, but if I haven’t tightened my girth up to that last hole that I like it on, my saddle can shift while I’m walking up the hill, and I do not experience that with the Lettia Coolmax girth that has synthetic fleece.
The other downside is a small one now, but may be a bigger deal over time, and that is that the elastic is stretchier than the elastic on other girths I’ve used. By kind of a lot. Enough that I could go down a girth size, maybe even two sizes, and probably still get the girth on without a lot of difficulty. This makes me wonder if the elastic might wear out more quickly than on other girths.
Overall, I am pleased with the girth and would be willing to buy a second to keep nice for shows, although I would probably go down a size. I am reaching for it about as often as I am still reaching for the Lettia Coolmax girth. While the Coolmax girth is still my “favorite” (as favorite as a not-leather girth can be for me), this memory foam girth is a close second and Eli doesn’t protest when I tighten it from the saddle. This is a well made girth and for under $100 I think it is a good value.