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?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happy 75th birthday to George Morris

He was the "word" when I was growing up as a hunt seat equitation rider. His emphasis on horsemanship is to be commended and his record does speak for itself. Not always the most congenial in conveyance of his message but still a worthy master of his craft to learn from. Ride on, Mr. Morris.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Are Registration Papers Important When He's a Gelding?

Maybe, maybe not, right? I can't breed him. I am sure enough he doesn't come from any famous bloodline that I'd wager on it. He will never be sold so I don't need the papers to make him look fancy.

Yet I have been emailing the American Warmblood Society and trying to get his AWS papers since I first posted about my figuring out his early origins here: OMG I Found Him!

I know many of you thought it best I don't stir the pot so to speak but I want his papers. It's like I want his identity to belong to him again and be safe with me. As of today I am the closest I have ever been to getting them. It may take another month or two after I submit paperwork to them and my finger's crossed but it's happening! And I have to add, the AWS Team has been really great in trying to do this for me considering the missing pieces of Joey's past.

I love this horse so much. He's had two months of just chillin' (literally) in this cold snowy winter yet on the days when it's been thawed out and nice enough for me to ride, all he needs is a 10 minute twirl on the lunge line to assess his mood (which is usually quiet or needing one lap around with a snort and his tail up) and we're good to go for an obedient light walk/trot ride.

And he gives horsey kisses now, too. If I blow gently in his nostril, he wiggles his lips and then proceeds to horsey smooch my face until I laugh. No teeth, all gentle. He'll even do it if I make kissy noises at the opening in his stall where the feed is poured into his bucket, he'll walk over and smooch my cheek through the opening.

Still a match made in heaven.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Horse Dictionary

It's been forever since I posted anything on my blog. I'm good, Joey is good and we're both stuck in this godawful winter! No consistent riding all through January and now this big snowstorm has frozen us in our tracks! But I just came across this and thought it would be a day brightener so enjoy!

(I especially like the Owner, Rider and Trainer descriptions!)