The Saddle Quest

Yup… I’m on a quest for new saddle. It’s a terrible, treacherous, and ridic expensive journey- but it must be done. It absolutely involves luck and a sense of humor to find one. Send me lots of good jingles… because not everyone makes it out alive!


my current saddle


Why do I need a new saddle? Well, need is subjective… but I do have several reasons. I currently have a 2010 17.5 Antares 3AA with a 4.5 in tree. I bought it when I was leasing a different horse, and although it fit that horse really well, it’s not the best fit for Rio. I had it checked out by the Antares rep, and he said it was, “an ok fit with a half pad”. IMO, it doesn’t really fit Rio. He is narrower, and a good deal more withery then the type of horse my saddle is meant to fit. I usually use an ecogold half pad, but in 100% honesty it is still less wither clearance then I would prefer. Don’t get me wrong, it is not sitting on his withers or anything like that, but less clearance then I would LIKE and IMO a saddle that fits shouldn’t NEED a half pad.


Although it is a longer, more forward flap, it just barelyyyyy fits my leg. I knew this when I bought it, but it worked for me at the time and was a huge step up from my prior saddle. I have been really happy with it, but now that I have Rio, and plan to have him for a long time, I really want something that is the perfect fit for both of us. My saddle is also getting a bit older at this point. It is still in really good condition (no tears and major scuffs or scrapes) with many years of life left, but knowing it won’t be my forever saddle, I’d prefer to trade it in/sell it while it still has a good bit of value.

So… now is the time for a new one! I’ve been so happy with this Antares that I originally was only looking for another Antares, preferably with a 4AB or 4AAB flap this time around, and something on the newer side so I can have it a long time. I’ve been casually looking for about 2 months now… and nada. I haven’t been able to get my hands on a single one that meets my specs- even with an appropriate budget.

I have realized it’s time to expand to other brands, and even consider going new. I would probably have tried a new Antares by now but… the rep seems extremely uncommunicative and not that interested in selling saddles. I’m sorry, but if I am considering buying a saddle that costs the same as an used car, I kind of feel like I should be wined and dined- is that wrong? Like, I want you to WANT to sell me a saddle- not ignore/not respond to my texts.





Since I have basically crossed a new Anatares off my list due to not wanting to deal with the rep, I have reached out to other brands. I’m excited to say that I will be demoing Voltaire saddles next Monday, and Butets next weekend! Fingers crossed that one of those will be “the one” and that I can scrape my pennies together to make something work.





So who else has thoughts on buying saddles? What brands do you like and dislike and why? I’m totally open to suggestions at this point!!

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Weekend Lesson Recap: Booty booty!

I had a lesson filled weekend- back to back jump lessons on Saturday and Sunday. Although I typically prefer to space them out some, I also acknowledge that at shows Rio will have to jump back to back days so it might be good to prepare him for that.



Unfortunately it rained earlier this week, and the cold(ish) overcast weather prevented the outdoors from drying, so we were in the small indoor all weekend, which means no elaborate jump courses to show off. We DID do plenty of hard exercises though, that will certainly only improve out course work when we get there.

On Saturday MM set up this awesome little bounce line on a large circle. It was TOUGH for Rio, who has always been a bit weak behind. The first 3 ish time through were like a total trainwreck, but then it finally clicked for both of us and we had a lot of really great reps! The bounces do an awesome job of driving home the need for Rio to sit back more in his canter work. A fewtimes we got to the beginning of the bounces really tight, which is usually wear Rio would break down to the trot versus sitting back that extra bit- but not this time! He actually would squeeze in the extra step and sit back on his booty more. I am SUCH a proud mom.


Rio11.11.17 from Kelly on Vimeo.



On Sunday we continued the booty work, but also gave Rio a little bit of an actual jump to look at. He continued to be a total rock star and aced the exercise! The left lead is much stronger, and he is able to consistently carry a quality canter that way. Therefore, we spent a good deal of time on the right lead, with more figuring out how much/when to half halt to maintain the more uphill canter. Thanks to some awesome coaching from MM, things have just really been clicking lately. Rio is SOSMART it’s kinda insane, and he really does get better every ride.


Lots of pats for this #StarBoy
his neck and butt actually have some muscles these days


I know the quality is shit but HOW FREAKING CUTE IS THIS. Just look at it. He’s a doll.



Can y’all believe he’s been back in work for only… um 5ish weeks? Me either. I kind of keep waiting for the other shoe to drop so to say. In the entire time I’ve owned him, we always get to this point where everything is going great… and then something happens to sideline us. I know I shouldn’t think so negatively, but I kind of can’t believe that things are going to well, and it all feels so fragile. Every time I get to the barn and see that he is still kickin’ I breath an internal sigh of relief LOL.  Anyway- onto the video from Sunday! It’s short and sweet (only 33 secs).



Rio11.12.17 from Kelly on Vimeo.

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Product Review: Grand Prix TechLite Revisited

If you’re a long time reader of my blog, you may remember my post from earlier this year about my new Grand Prix show coat. If you haven’t read it, you may want to glance over it real quick before reading this post.


You can kind of tell it’s green when outside in bright sunlight


In summary- I ordered a Grand Prix TechLite Classic Sport from Dover in January. It arrived in March, and from the get-go I wasn’t too sure about it. My post from when it arrivied is all about how indecisive I was was, and how I wasn’t sure if I really liked it.

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Indecisive Issues

I’m happy to report that it was a wonderful, riding-filled weekend. Rio seems to be handling the heavy work load like a champ. Sunday was day 6 in a row of working pretty hard, which is definitely the most I’ve asked from him thus far. Don’t feel too bad for him though- he still spends about 8 hrs outside every day eating to his heart’s content.


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Bounce Torture Time

Now that Rio and I are back in the swing of things, we can now focus on strengthening our weak areas. You guys have already heard ad nauseam about my quest to encourage Rio to raise his head and neck and use his butt more during our flatwork… well I bet you can see where this is going from the title of this post. In an effort to continue this theme, my jump lesson yesterday consisted of some pretty tough bounce work, followed by a 2 stride with a sizeable oxer on the out.


bounces be hard
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Kastel Denmark is Life

Anyone who has read my blog for awhile, and has an eye for Kastel, will have noticed that in 95% of my riding photos I am wearing a Kastel shirt. Besides a few pieces of Asmar and Kingsland, my entire riding wardrobe is comprised of Kastel Denmark attire. So.. why is that? Am I a Kastel brand-whore?


Yup. Everyone of these shirts is Kastel Denmark #ilovekastel


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Jump Lesson Update

First off…. HAPPY HALLOWEEN Y’ALL!!! Hopefully everyone is giving their sweet ponies lots of treats today!




Now, as promised is the lesson recap from Sunday’s jump lesson. We had another first since the surgery- jumping a full course!! Essentially it was was a a single on the diagnol, another single with a rollback to a single, an outside 5 stride line to a single oxer. It was SO FUN.

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More Good Tidings

Well guys, not to jinx myself, but I think we are about 1 week away from not needing to wrap the left hind anymore!!! In fact, I would have stopped wrapping it by now if it wasn’t in an area that is at such a high risk of being hit (by his right hind hoof). I want the skin to be firmly healed over before I stop wrapping it, at which point he will be turned out and ridden in a ThinLine bell boot for added protection, for probably the rest of his life. Anyway- check out the amazing progress he has made!



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Flyin’ High: 1st Jump Lesson

WHOHOOO! Beware, this post is going to be media heavy.


Rio and I had our first real, actual jump jump lesson since his surgery yesterday. We did a baby 5 stride line, and a single oxer at the very end. HE WAS SO GOOD!

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Product Review: Ariat Marquis Show Shirt

First off- I know that my last review was also a show shirt. So sorry. Really I am, I have other things in my queue to be reviewed, but I was really excited to wear this shirt, and happened to have help at the barn to take pics, and it happened to be a beautiful day so…2 show shirt reviews in a row it is!



So I first ‘discovered’ this shirt when I went to watch my friend S show this past spring and she had it, which isn’t surprising because she has great taste. I instantly coveted it, and really wanted one, but my budget was firmly saying no at the time. During Rio’s latest recovery, money was tight for awhile, but I eventually got the check from his insurance (they covered 100% of his surgery, no joke), so I decided to splurge on this shirt. It came from In the Irons- a small but adorable boutique in Boerne, TX. SmartPak also sells them.




“The Ariat™ Marquis Show Top is classically styled to be the ideal shirt to compete in. With its clean lines and crisp look, you’ll feel sharp in the show ring. Made from a Micro Tek knit fabric, the shirt places emphasis on comfort and practicality.” 



  • Sun protection fabric
  • Moisture Movement Technology (for quick drying)
  • Magnetic collar closure
  • Lace pattern vented sleeves
  • Snap closures at wrists
  • Icefil technology to keep you cool




I am a small in most show shirts, 32/34 in Essex signature shirts, S/M in Kastel, and 28 breeches in TS. Street size 4/6. I got a small in this shirt and it fits great. ONLY tiny drawback on the fit for me is the sleeves I am a 6 ft tall giant with crazy long legs and arms and the sleeves could be a touch longer for me, but I am sure they would fit basically everyone else just fine.


The lace detail is my fave part



SO SOFT AND STRETCHY. Seriously, it feels very luxurious. Definitely feels like I could wear it during Texas summers and be just fine. Love the magnetic collar, and the lace underarms are super cute but also appear to be very durable. Cas also green-slimed my sleeve in a few places and it washed out perfectly. The white is super bright and seems like that kind of fabric that will stay really white and not get dingy.





The slightly short sleeves is a small con for me, but I struggle with this issue in basically every brand. Definitely didn’t deter me from purchasing the shirt. The other con is price. MSRP is $99 which IMO is a little pricey for a shirt. I LOVE this shirt though- so it definitely fell into the splurge category and I don’t regret it one iota. If you can find it on sale, I would 100% say go for it. If you want to give a fellow equestrian a lovely gift in the $100 price range, this shirt would definitely fit the bill. You can use this shirt for everyday, clinics, or shows, so it’s super versatile.






Also pictured:

  • Wide noseband Edgewood Bridle from Quail Hollow Tack and owned by MM
  • DeNiro boots
  • Ovation navy belt
  • Tailored Sportsman breeches



***HUGE thank you to MM and Reagan for helping with the impromptu photoshoot, and Reagan for letting me use Cas! (Rio was super dirty and not photoshoot ready)**

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