Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Struggle of the Tall Boots

Tall boots.

They are the English riding discipline's staple item. Some riders live in them. Some break them in and save them for shows, preferring to school in paddock boots and half chaps. Some ride wearing dress boots such as dressage riders or field hunters and the rest of us wear field boots with the lacings over the ankle.

Whichever way you wear your tall boots, there's one thing they often have in common. They aren't cheap and they usually only fit well when custom-made.

And if you have uncommon leg measurements, you are pretty much stuck with expensive custom boots to get the proper show look.

That's my struggle. Fat calves and long legs. Nobody makes a stock boot that fits my leg measurements. My calves are 16-3/4" and I need a 19-1/2 - 20" tall boot. Ladies size 10 foot. Good luck with that one. Even with zippers and elastic up the back, nobody makes a boot tall enough. I always needed custom boots, and as a junior and a young adult amateur, I had both Der-Dau and Dehner custom boots and they were perfect! However, age and having kids and working full time have insured that my perfect boots will NOT ever fit me again.

With more responsibilities and less money, chucking $1000+ on a pair of custom boots is pretty frivolous, especially since horse shows are a rare (but wonderful) treat.

Besides. I have to buy a horse trailer first. So whatever money I've been squirreling away is for that expense. I can't and won't spend more than $350.00 on leather field boots right now. And if I can get them for less it would be even better.

I own a pair of Mountain Horse field boots that fit my calves but now that they have broken-in they drop 2" lower and look rather sloppy so far below the back of my knee. My dress boots were the old style, nicely priced, Devon Aire Camden back zips. They fit and at 19" tall are not too bad. I went back to buy them in field boots -

and they have been discontinued.


I scoured the internet. Stalked Ebay. Nothing. I can't find any of the old stock of the field boots around in my size.

They have come out with a new model of the Devon-Aire Camden boots, but now they are more money and all the sizes are - SHORTER!! Like a good inch shorter. Why would they do that?!?

It's depressing. And I'm only 5'9" tall! I know there are ladies taller than me who need TALL tall boots.  And many equestrians have wide calves because - nature of the sport.

Recently I bought a pair of the Tredstep Da Vinci field boots when was selling them for a nice price. I studied that size chart like it was finals in high school. I measured and remeasured my legs. I went back and forth and back and forth and then took a chance and bought them (They do not take returns).

Long story short - the size chart lied and they don't fit. They are beautiful boots, brand new, packaged perfectly with all the extras. And I can't wear them or return them. So now I will probably lose money just trying to get rid of them on Ebay. If anyone reading this is interested in a brand new pair of black field boots with back zips, ladies size 10 shoe, $225.00 shipped in the USA - message me.

So, if you see me post pictures riding with my stupid, short tall boots. Trust me, I KNOW they are too short. I know the proper show ring look. It's just that the companies who make decently priced tall riding boots don't make anything that fits a person like me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

So Where is This Going?

Lately I've been thinking about my blog a lot and have a faint desire to post something, anything but I don't know what to post.

Has anyone missed this blog? I know I had a little following for awhile but I'm not surprised if people have moved on to more current blogs.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

EquiRoyal Stirrup Covers are a great idea!

This is both a product review and a great idea for a Christmas gift for the English equestrian who has everything!!

The picture above is of the EquiRoyal Quilted Fabric Stirrup Cover. This nifty item has become one of my favorite pieces of tack. I had something similar to it that I bought years ago at a swap meet but it was hand made and I never saw one like it again. I came across this one on Ebay and bought it immediately!

It's very simple to use. When your stirrups are in the run-up position, you slip it onto the stirrup on one side of the saddle and then bring it across and pick up the stirrup on the other side. So when in use it looks like this:

It is perfect for the following reasons:

1) Saddles are an investment. The more expensive the saddle, the more every scratch is enough to make you want to cry! These wonderful, soft quilted covers prevent your stirrups from scratching the leather panels.

2) Your stirrups are going to get dirty, muddy and poopy. It's what we step in in this sport, it's how we roll. But it doesn't mean our gorgeous saddles need to come in contact with that stuff, too. After a muddy ride, just quickly brush off your stirrups and put the covers on when you run them up. These keep your leather free from wet and filth!

3) Do you lunge your horse with his tack on? These eliminate the need to knot up your stirrup leathers to keep your irons from slipping down and banging into the horses' sides. 

I know there is a strap with a clip at each end designed to do the same thing while lunging 
but I have one of those and it will scratch the seat of the saddle where this absolutely will not!

4) The price is right!! For just under $11.00 you can easily protect a few hundred to a few thousand dollars of leather saddle! Check it out here if you're already asking " Where can I get one of these?"

5) They will fit many sizes and kinds of English stirrup irons! I use the MDC Ultimate Adjust irons which are pretty chunky and these fit snug but don't have to be forced into place. That's what is on my picture shown using the covers above and in close up here:

Now for the only possible downsides;

- they are only available in black at the moment.

- I haven't washed them yet, so I don't know how they handle the washer and dryer. Since they are a snug fit over my stirrups, I plan to wash them in cold water with mild detergent and line dry them. I feel that will be just fine!

If you or an equestrian you know is as precious as I am with their saddle, give these a try or share your experience with them here!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nice horses don't always just come that way.

This is a rant, mixed with a message. Just venting my feelings here.

So many people compliment my horse. They admire his calm demeanor under saddle and his gentlemanly manners.

And I say "thank you". (This is the reason I bought him, because I saw these things, too.)

But I have this feeling that what others perceive is taken for granted. As if I just bought a horse that is like this and I don't actually do anything to make this horse this way.

I bought him because he has the potential to be a very nice horse. But that doesn't mean he'd be a nice horse for just ANYBODY. (As those of you who have read his back story would know.)

I work very hard in my training of Joey to ensure that he always is successful in his desire to please, even if he doesn't get it right. When I first got him, he couldn't stay at the canter without breaking stride. He had a hard time picking up the correct lead and was very unbalanced at the trot. Forget about asking for a flying change. He also was extremely uncomfortable with any use of a crop or dressage whip. And he loves to jump over things.

In short, he was a green, saddle broke horse with a good start who wanted to be a good boy but also went through a rough patch. That's it.

Two years later and in no rush on my part, Joey is balanced on a circle at the trot and canter. He will keep his canter for as many laps around the ring as I want (but it requires a strong seat and leg to ask him to do so as he is a pretty laid back kind of guy). We are getting very good at flying changes, especially from his right lead to his left but it's still a work in progress. He'll simple change with one trot step in between from his left to his right - I need to ask a little more directly now since he's got the idea, just gets a little lazy with the back end. He will back easily, leg yield, turn on the haunches or forehand in either direction and he's good about picking up the correct lead every time he's asked. He also is still brave to any jump and will always do his best to get you to the other side, sometimes he's not pretty about it but he's actually quite effective and never gets strong before or after the jump.

I didn't pick him out because he could do all this. I helped him learn all this. I didn't just figure out a horse that already had the knowledge from someone else. I helped him learn what I already knew, and in the process he has taught me how to ask him to do these things.

This is horse training.

I don't always see a lot of horse training. I see a lot of people buying a well broke horse through someone else's work and adopting it as their own skill. If you know less than the horse, the horse is training you not the other way around.

I guess my horse looks like a horse anyone could ride. I'd certainly like it if he was a good boy and secure enough in his training at this point that another rider, even with less skill than me, could safely ride him.
But I don't ever want anyone to underestimate him or scare him ever again.

I guess my point is, never assume based on what you see.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Circle is Complete.

Four years ago, I lost my equine partner and friend, Monty. The search for another Good Horse to love and have a partnership with has taken me into some places I never thought I'd go. But I don't regret any of the lessons brought to me on this journey, even the hard ones.

Yesterday I rode on a hunter pace with Joey. The first time in the two years I have owned him that we were able to do this. He was without a doubt the best horse I've ever ridden at an event like this. He was my Good Horse and so much more. In a simple snaffle bit I rode him over the 12 mile course and he was flawless. He's a great team horse. He will lead, but prefers to follow. He canters across open fields on a loose rein and will slow and stop with a soft touch and a gentle "whoa". We didn't jump the big jumps, but that will come and if it doesn't, I am still happy.

I owe so many good people my gratitude. I have been blessed with many folks who have helped me return to what I love doing.

Whoever let this horse get away from them was a fool. But I'm glad they didn't see the kind, sweet and loyal horse inside him or I never would have had the chance to have him as a partner.

He saved me. I saved him.

Never give up on your journey. Learn from every experience - even the bad ones and don't let it dim your passion. The payoff is there, but sometimes you have to wait for the clarity to realize when it's right in front of you.

I love you, Joey.

The team of the painted ponies, lucky team #7!

Ready for the start!

Last jump!

Cantering away!

To the finish line!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Horse Personalities

Doing a quick catch up today on some of my favorite blogs and loved this post by my friend at A Horse and a Half. It's a quiz about horse personalities. I laughed at the results for the two horses in her life and decided to take the quiz myself for Joey.

Darned if the quiz didn't get it 100% right! Joey is a "Steady Eddie" - If you are a novice or amateur, this is the horse for you. They are quiet and predictable, loving and engaging, willing to learn new things, willing to hang out with you and do nothing. This is not your big ego, career-oriented horse. They are happy to just be. Consistent and loyal, all you need to do is enjoy.

That is just SOOO him! Granted, he's a young steady eddie and still open to some foolishness now and then but it's never anything that can't be gently managed. As he ages, he will be the horse in the description 100%.

Try the quiz for yourself if you haven't already done so over at A Horse and a Half and share your horses results in the comments. How accurate is it for your equine friend?