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New Items, Part 2

While I don’t mind covering my horse’s flesh in chemicals to keep them from spending hours on end stomping and shaking and being irritated, I do like a good natural alternative when possible.

My go to since my days in WI, circa 2010, has been Belly Balm. I love that stuff. Aloe based and greasy as all get out, it was perfect to rub on ears, noses, chins and legs. It stayed through rain and sweat like nothing I’ve seen before and smelled amazing. If you like citronella. I stumbled on it when Pete reacted to the bugs in WI with massive welts all over his stomach and it not only kept the bugs off, but healed those welts and sores over night. I loved that stuff. Can I repeat that again?

Belly Balm has been my go to natural fly protection for 9 years

So you can imagine my immense disappointment when I went to the local tack shop to pick up a new jar to find the shelf void of Belly Balm. The owner told me that Professional Choice bought the mom and pop company that made it and discontinued the product. Thank you Professional Choice. I hate you now.

I wandered the shop hoping to find an equivalent. She is into natural products so I figured she’d have something. I’ve tried the non chemical sprays but they don’t touch the SC bugs at all. Might as well spray water on the horses.

Tack shop lady pointed me to Clac which she ordered to try in its place. It’s an all natural cream meant to rub on in place of sprays and the jar is a bit silly stating that it is helpful to avoid the spooky spray noise. Sorry company but I’m not sponging fly deterrent all over my horse. I don’t have 10 hours. Still, if it could be used on sensitive areas that I don’t want to spray it, it was worth a shot.

A bright orange jar that comes with an applicator sponge under the lid. At first I thought it was going to be a big PITA but it actually made it a bit easier to apply and the horses didn’t seem to mind it

I’ve used it  in place of my beloved Belly Balm and it seems to work about the same at keeping the flies off. I actually really like the sponge application as it keeps my hands from getting gross and it also spreads a lot nicer, covering more surface area with less product.

All three horses got it rubbed around ears, under eyes, along the chin and I put a stripe down the center of their back from wither to tail and barely made a dent in the jar. It should last a good long while.

The cream base caught me a bit off guard. It went on really nicely though

It smells great, is easy to apply and kept the bugs away just as well as my old faithful. I applied it Sunday late afternoon and it then decided to pour in the evening. By Monday night, through two rains and a long sweaty day outside, I could still see and smell it around their ears and along their back where I put it on the heaviest.

A little went a long way. This went all the way from wither to tail.

I’m not completely appeased from the loss of my trusty green goo, but early results are promising. For now I’m happy to have any alternative available and the horses are happy to not be bothered with flies where I can’t safely spray harmful chemicals. The Big Orange Butthead still needs a leg protection solution though since I don’t really want to rub this all over his legs. The other two are in Shoo Fly Leggings which I’m a big fan of, but he wears bell boots up front and eh…I’m not sure I like the idea of using both together. I’ll figure something out soon as the bugs are back in town and he ditches shoes too easily without the added stomping.

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New Items, Part 1: Tights

New tights shouldn’t be hard to find but ugh. They were.

The Irideon Issential tight has been my go to since I bought them at Rolex in 2012. They have stood the test of 7 years hard riding and still look brand new. Even after all that wear and all the washing they still fit perfectly. They don’t make them any longer which is a real shame.

While they are my go to favorite riding pants, they do lack a couple key features I’ve found myself needing of late: pockets and belt loops. I’ve also been curious to try a silicone full seat, so I started a journey to find a new pair of tights that had all the features I need.

My heart was set on the new Horsewear Tech Tight. They look really cool and have some neat features plus they come in red and orange horse be damned, I’ll be an eye sore for red pants. Farmhouse Tack has them in stock so I wandered up there to try them out last weekend.

Comfortable yet durable  and the sizing fit me perfectly. Too bad they lacked some key features I really wanted in a new tight. Pic stolen from their website.

It was a bust.

They fit pretty great and I loved the mesh waist band but they lacked belt loops and only came in silicone knee patches. Also, while they had a big pocket it was placed on the front of the thigh which just felt awkward walking around. 

I tried on a ton of other brands including the Kerrits Ice Fill but none were hitting the mark.

Then I found FITS.

Wow. They were perfect.

Light and comfortable I barely felt like I had clothes on while riding

Belt loops: check! Pocket: check! Silicone full seat: check! Light weight yet felt durable: check!

Really the only two issues I had were that they only had a single pocket and I was between sizes. I’ve lost enough weight that medium is now a bit big but I’m still too large for a small. I hate feeling stuffed in my clothes so I went with a medium in hopes they don’t stretch out with time.

Hey! Quit staring at my ass!

I then also grabbed a new Kerrits Ice Fill tank and let me tell you this. If you want to feel like you are riding naked get one of these. It feels like there is nothing on. A glorious feeling as the weather really begins to heat up down here. Love love love this tank and want to go buy a bunch more.

The color is called ink. It’s a muted blue that looks super sharp in real life though pictures  make it look more grey.

Not sure any of you like tights. After riding endurance for so long I can’t stand most materials that breeches are made out of. That plastic feeling crap makes my skin crawl and so many are stiff. I’m slowly converting to wearing a belt though so who knows. Maybe I’ll convert all the way some day. Doubtful though when tights are so darn comfortable. If you are in the market for a summer tight to get you through the hot months, I’d take a look at these and give them a try. I rode last night instead of studying (oops!) and never wanted to take them off. 

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Tackling Issues Head On

Nothing earth shattering happening over here. I have ridden several times since last posting all focusing on the one lingering fear that haunts my riding: running off.

Now, H’Appy is not going to really ever run off. Maybe to the next patch of clover or to the in gate but let’s be real here. Fat Boy ain’t going nowhere. But…I really dislike the feeling that I’m not actually in charge. It makes me very defensive and defensive riding is not the best.

Starting to form a shape other than “round”

So my rides of late have been all about making sure Mister knows who says what. To that effect I set up a very simple line of two verticals set at 60′. While I had the tape measure in my hand I went ahead and measured the height and then scolded myself for jumping so low and moved them up a hole. To a whopping 20″. I told you nothing earth shattering happening.

Anyway. The first night I started off trotting in and letting him canter out, then moved to cantering in and out but Homeboy decided he was going to decide how fast and where his feet went, so he got to canter in and then immediately return to the trot after the in jump and trot over the out. Then he got to jump the in, perform a 20 m circle and go over the out. I liked that it made him have to pay attention to me, but I worried that I was teaching him not to go through the line so I only did that a couple of times before returning to going straight through.

Overall that ride was pretty darn fantastic.

Wyatt finally got his white whale. He has been trying to catch a cat fish out of our pond for over a year. When he final did, he brought it up to show me. H’Appy got to meet him to but wasn’t impressed

The next ride I added a third jump on the diagonal to give me something to focus on after the line instead of letting him sneak in a celebratory gallop lap before coming back to me.  I started off wanting to really work on the bend on the flat before getting to the jumps hoping it wouldn’t take very long. I’ve been a little slack on that lately, letting him go around too straight.

Well, let me tell you Doofus was highly offended that I actually wanted real work and not just fun jumpies. He let me know it too. Lots of tantrums and lots of OPINIONS being thrown around.

My mini course. A 60’ outside line and a random diagonal vertical that could be ridden both directions 

You know what though? This was the worst he has been in months and it was still way better than his good behavior last fall. I remained calm, ignored him and carried on as if he was being the good boy I know he can be.

It took a while. Longer than I’d like, but he eventually got the memo that moving our rib cage is a thing we can do nicely and without giving me the bird in the process. It was hot that night, pushing 90F already, and humid with incoming storms so after he finally chilled out and gave me the flat ride I wanted, I popped him over the new three jump course once each direction and called it a night.

Phew boy but that ride was a lot of hard work.

I’m into the final push before my test so I’m not sure he will get ridden at all the next 10 days unless any local blogger wants to come down and hop on him. Free fun for everyone!!! I joke, but I’m also serious.

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Media!!!

Last night I had a pounding head, the humidity was at 8,000%, and I was exhausted after seeing a double booked day of patients.

But Fat Boy needs exercise and I know that if I don’t ride regularly it will bite me in the butt in the form of a tantrum on his end, so despite all of that I changed and tacked up. Some days you just have to put the work in.

He felt the same way I did

Dusty was hanging around so I asked if he would grab some new media for me. I wasn’t feeling jumping so I left the ground poles down and worked on the flat adding in canter work as well.

It’s always amazing to me how I can feel like I’m doing something but then I see a picture or video and it is quite obvious that I am most definitely doing the exact opposite. Sigh. I guess that’s what video is for?

The biggest thing I am going to fix is my gosh darn arms. If you were to ask me, I’d tell you that my elbows were super relaxed and bent.

Yeah. If by relaxed I mean rigid as a steel beam and by bent I mean straight out, then ok. I’m going to really have to work on over exaggerating it for a while to get the feel of when they are actually bent and relaxed.

But anyway. Other than seeing all my flaws I’m actually very happy with where we are. Outside of that one single lesson, we have gotten to this point all on our own and that’s not too shabby for my level of education and time in the arena. Especially from where we started back to work in December.

He is relaxed, probably a bit too pokey and slow but rhythmic and even so I’ll take a bit slow for now. His steering is on point too these days.

What really blows me away is his canter transition. It’s nice, we don’t go charging off into outer space and he remains with power steering engaged. All things that were not possible a few months ago. This is a canter I enjoy riding and can feel safe and in control with.

All in all a good ride even with neither of us feeling up for it. Once boards are over and done with mid May it will be on to some heavy lessons with an eye towards course work and a late summer HT!!

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Back Under Saddle

Thankfully I have the Best Farrier Ever* and he was able to come out last Friday to fix H’Appy back up. Since it was only a week before they were all due anyway, I told him to go ahead and do all three. This time of year they grow insane amounts of hoof so I knew there would be plenty of work.

This four week schedule is killing my bank account, but it keeps them happy and sound.

Proof his ears are up and happy the majority of the time

*He is the BFE because a) he comes when I am at work and doesn’t mind me not being there and then also always offers to put them back in whatever field I want when he is done, b) he texts me info and doesn’t mind my million questions and c) he takes pay pal so I can just send him the money once he texts that he is done. I love him. He is never allows to retire, get hurt or move.

It took until last night to ride though. Friday it poured. Like can’t see anything, flash flooding levels of pouring. Saturday was freezing cold and rainy and the Hubby was off running a 100k for funsies, then Sunday was Easter and we had family stuff to do and Monday Hubby didn’t even get home from work until after 7pm due to an onslaught of emergencies and we had stuff to do.

Last night though was the night. Finally.

Really starting to like the orange ear view

There is a nice open show going on at a nearby facility and I had it on my calendar to attend and do the cross rails and 2′ divisions except I can’t now due to something else that we need to do on Saturday instead. I’m pretty bummed about not going as it is a facility I know really well. They did however post their courses on FB and I took that as an opportunity to set it up at home.

The 2’ course. A simple hunter outside line, diagonal, outside, diagonal course. I’ve not seen one with the distances written out before and was happy to have a full map to build from.

Or at least half of it anyway. I only have enough supplies to make 4 jumps. Having not ridden in a week, I decided to lay out the exercise as ground poles for the night and start back slowly with my plan being to turn them into verticals tonight or tomorrow. I hemmed and hawed as to which four I wanted to do and eventually settled on the left half with the two on the long side and a diagonal line from upper left to lower right.

H’Appy really tried to hold it together. Really he did. Not only had he had a week off, but Dusty was by the gate raking up grass from me dragging it before I rode and Wyatt was taking up the near end making a hot wheel race track that I was not allowed to ride over. It was a lot to drag his nosy little attention away and I was so very proud of him for holding it together as much as he did.

The half I was able to set up which allowed a nice variety of patterns: straight over, circle over any number of components, cutting between. It was nice though I did wish I could set up the entire course

There was some flailing. There was some head tossing. There was some cantering. There was some flying leaps over the poles. There was a whole lot of drift to their end of the arena. Going over the poles heading towards them was an exercise in slowing my posting and using my core to contain him. Going over the poles away from them was an exercise in leg on.

But honestly? There was also a whole lot of listening to my half halts. And a whole lot of trotting nicely away from the boys. And a whole lot of reasons to tell him he was being a good boy and give him all the pats.

He had every reason to fall apart and he didn’t.

Shoofly Leggings are back on for season three. I may have to replace next year but we will see.

Once they left he settled right down to the task at hand and got over himself. I asked him to trot nicely going over the long side poles set at 60′, turn right and keep the same tempo all the way back to the gate and over the diagonal poles set at 72′ going away then we circled back and went over the long side poles towards the gate, left turn and out the diagonal line.

Once he did that entire exercise calmly and with an even pace (with properly timed half halts and leg from me where I knew he’d either speed up, heading to the gate, or slow down, heading away, which I got better at as we went along) I walked him out of the arena to cool down in the pasture. It’s a new habit I’m trying to do at the end of every ride to get him used to riding out there.

It wasn’t perfect and there were a lot of self reminders to lower my hands, quit rushing to my hands and use my leg more, tighten that core and for the love of all things shiny have a damn plan woman, but it also had a lot of moments of relaxation, thoughtful paths and nice pace.

For the first ride back after a week off due to the lost shoe and weather, it wasn’t half bad.

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H’Appy Must Read KC’s Blog

A month ago KC had posted about Pilgrim’s epic hoof hole. It was gross. A few days later my farrier came out to trim and shoe the herd and I was left with my own hoof hole to deal with.

Yucky hoof hole

I texted KC jokingly saying that Eeyore wants to be like Pilgrim. Ha ha ha.

Life moved on, I got into the routine of treating the hoof nightly with Wunderhoof and every other day with No Thrush, and he stayed sound and happy allowing me to continue to ride him.

Then KC went and posted her latest post about Pilgrim pulling his shoe and going into the hoof boot.

Wouldn’t you know that yesterday afternoon after I left work early to get home and ride I pull the Orange Butthead out of the pasture and….

No freaking shoe

He hasn’t lost a shoe in 3 cycles now (15 weeks!) and the very day I read her post he throws his shoe?

Coincidence?

Hoof boots are the latest fashion trend

I think not.

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The Status of Things

Wet. Seemingly always and forever wet.

I snuck in rides last Wednesday and Thursday knowing the forecast looked pretty bleak through the weekend. Saturday was actually nearly perfect weather-wise, but the husband worked in the morning and we had family plans all afternoon and into the evening. It was a great time.

Caught the herd napping under the trees. Gem was not happy I was being a creeper. Ignore the crappy through the windshield picture quality.

Sunday was weird. This being SC, everyone freaks out at even the mention of a possible storm. I swear every locally grown S. Carolinian is Chicken Little personified. Which is why I ignored everything and then found myself outside in a lightning storm at 930pm without any pants on bringing the horses in. And then all we got was some rain and high winds. There was an EF1 tornado in the town next door though right by my work. Too bad it didn’t take my building out.

The only thing I really take a lot of pride in with the horses is a good shiny coat. It took me nearly a year with H’Appy and I almost gave up hope his Appy coat would respond, but here we are with his brand new summer coat shining like someone coated him in a mirror glaze.

Anyway, the day was just odd with randomly darkening skies, a bit of a dump of rain and then back to sunny and clear. Every time I thought about riding it would get eerie looking outside and by the time I settled on not riding, it would clear again. Frustrating. It did manage to dump enough rain to put my arena under water by Monday morning so even with a gorgeous sunny, blue skied 74 degree Monday, I couldn’t do a whole lot but stare forlornly and take pictures.

So pleased with his condition this spring versus when I brought him home. Next month marks 1 year already!

It should be dry enough by this afternoon to get a flat work ride in. I’ve left my new favorite exercise up with the goal to eventually raise all 5 poles to verticals and work on the true jumping form of the exercise. Currently, I am at two jumps and three poles, but if the footing isn’t nice enough to jump in I will return the jumps back to poles and work on figures over them again. I really want to incorporate more canter work with figures. Right now my cantering is mostly in very large circles with a lot of drift and “good enoughs” thrown in the mix. As I’m getting more and more comfortable with my seat in the canter, I’d like to start dialing it in as a gait that I am actively a participant in and not just a passenger hoping to not run through the arena fence.

Life sure is gorgeous on the farm. I live for the spring.

I have a half day at work today due to it being spring break and was planning on working on office stuff all afternoon but then taking a half day Friday. Looks like 100% chance of over 1″ of rain all day Friday which makes for perfect working weather. With that in mind, I’m heading home at lunch today to do spring bath day. It is one of my most favorite horse days of the year – removing all the grime from the winter. The weather so far hasn’t been quite warm enough for long enough to allow proper dry time before the night comes and it dips back into the 40s. I think today may finally be the day!