How to Achieve Nirvana (the equestrian version)
- Go to the Ocean Point facebook page
- Message Dee Dee (the owner)
- Set up an appointment to explore the Cave of Wonders aka the Kingsland showroom and warehouse
- Nirvana will be achieved upon arrival
How to Achieve Nirvana (the equestrian version)
A HUGE milestone occurred this weekend- Rio’s first ever horse show! My barn and I attended the NTJHC Benefit Show this weekend at Texas Rose Horse Park, near Tyler. Originally, Trainer and I did not think that Rio was ready to attend- he’s barely been back in jump training for a couple weeks, and he is still receiving shockwave treatment and steroid injections for a small medial LH wound that is slow to heal. We did not want to risk anything happening to it that could interfere with the healing- such as riding without a boot protecting it. I ride in the hunters, aka boots=bad, so that was a bit of a road block. Since I am actively riding him and jumping him at home, I REALLY wanted to go to the show to at least school, introduce Rio to to horse show life, and school him over the show jumps. Trainer agreed this would be very beneficial, so we decided semi last minute to bring him.
Due to lack of material (I took a break from my horsey life to spend an awesome long weekend in Aspen skiing with a group of amazing friends) I have decided to jump on the blog hop bandwagon and discuss who can ride my horse. Lots of equestrian bloggers have been doing this as well, a few that come to mind are Amanda, Lisa, and the originator of the trend- Olivia. Anyone else I missed, please comment with a link to yours as well!
But really, who can ride Rio?
Since Rio is turning 6 this year, I can’t really use his age as a blanket excuse anymore. Most 6 year old horses are pretty dang broke… but not mine! Rio is behind for his age- predominately due to being started late due to his massive size (17.3!) and only worked lightly with lots of time off to accommodate growth spurts. When I tried him prior to buying him late June of last year- I couldn’t get him to pick up his right lead, circling was a strug (and by circling I mean like a large circle), and the canter basically felt like an unbalanced hand gallop. He was pretty dang green- to no fault of his own or the trainer I got him from; he just had not had enough rides at that point in his life. I have currently owned him 8 1/2 months- almost 4 ish of which he has been off/on stall rest at times. All in all, from the history I got from the seller and with what I have actually ridden him- I think if you added up all his training to this point, it would maybe be equivalent to a year’s worth.
So… I spent the last hour or so writing a long and very detailed post- and then it felt like one of those things you just don’t share on-line, kind of like airing your dirty laundry in public, ya know? Being new at this whole blogging thing, I’m still not sure where to draw the line. Even if I don’t use names or identifiers- anyone who knows me will be able to figure it out, and I assume that some people probably don’t want to be on an internet blog. That being said, here is a change of topic.
I LOVE that there are so many products for equestrians now a days. I remember being in elementary school and using Dover and State Line Tack catalogs to make wish lists for every birthday and Christmas. I would get SO excited when a new catalog would arrive featuring some piece of clothing or tack that was now available in a new”interesting” color, aka anything neon or glitter. Remember those Davies silver glitter splint boots?!? I had those when they FIRST came out and I was so freaking excited and thought they were absolutely the best thing ever. Thank goodness I grew out of that stage before those colors became readily available. My hunter diva heart would stop in it’s tracks.
Now that I am late 20 something and living in hunter land, my taste in tack and apparel is a bit more subtle, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love a touch of individual style. I may not rock USA flag and TieDye polo wraps anymore, but I can still appreciate the many options that are now available. Here is a small sample of the products that I love!
I am obsessed with DeNiro boots. A few years ago I went on the hunt for custom or semi custom boot. I have a normal foot size (9.5) but I needed custom calf and height measurements due to my ridiculously long legs. I found a store in the UK that sold DeNiros and offered custom calf and height measurements, so I put in my measurements and ordered a pair. A week or so later the store contacted me that my height measurement was like too tall and EXTRA custom and charged me 80 euros more. Yup. That’s because my legs are a special kind of freak. All in all though, the transaction was seamless and the boots arrived about 8 weeks later. SO PRETTY. Only draw back is that I was a bit confused on the european foot sizing and I think I ended up with a 10 and they are a little big in the footbed, but nothing too terrible. They are so tall, and fit my calf beautifully- for about $800 all in, including shipping.
After my practice boots wore a hole I started wearing my DeNiros every day for about 6 months before I bit the bullet and decided to buy another pair. My logic was that these black ones needed to remain nice for showing, so I needed a fun practice pair, aka brown ones. Because, brown=life.
I went back to the same store… and had a TERRIBLE experience. Store had changed ownership and new owner was a total whack job. Do not, under ANY circumstances, order anything from Equiporium in the UK. Like really, don’t do it. Thank goodness I contacted DeNiro directly and they like forced the new owner to cooperate and get me the boots I had paid for. DeNiro was incredibly accommodating and helpful in my situation. They make beautiful boots, they just don’t sell them direct, hence the 2nd part vendor. I will definitely buy DeNiro again, just through a different vendor. I ordered a size down this time, but the same calf and height measurements (which or 35.5 cm in the calf and 54.5 cms in height if you’re curious). I was sooo nervous the foot would be too small, but they fit PERFECT. I am obsessed with the gorgeous color too. I love that the leather is supple but not paper thin, so I expect these babies to last about 5 years or so. I have worn the brown ones every ride since I got them in May, and they still look new. I have never even needed to polish them.
I am also mildly obsessed with Kinsgland Apparel. The US dealer for Kingsland is the NICEST lady EVER and her warehouse is only 20 minutes from my house. If you make an appointment with her you can come in and have free run of the warehouse to browse and try one clothes. It’s like the best and worst thing ever, worst for my wallet that is. Their breeches are super hardy and the wide waistband style fits me like a glove. I have 2 pairs, but am always tempted to go buy more. Their shirt and jacket game is also on point, and I have more then I would like to admit.
My Sammy is must as well. I have never had such a nice fitting helmet. Black for showing, brown for schooling (to match my boots ?)
Last thing I’m going to mention today is Gersemi breeches. They have been around for awhile on the dressage scene, but I think they only recently started doing the knee patch style (someone correct me if I’m wrong). They are semi hard to find, but I have managed to snag some on tack of the day. They fit me super well, and both my pairs from TOTD were about $60, so like insanely amazing breeches for the price.
Gersemi runs true to size in my opinion. I wear 28L in Tailoreds and 28L in Gersemi.
What are some of your favorite equestrian products and why?
For the last 2 show seasons I have been jonesing for a hunter green show coat. They are just SO PRETTY. But alas, how does one justify the cost of a new coat when you have 2 perfectly good ones? Well let me tell you… gift cards! I was very lucky and thankful to recieve Dover gift cards for Christmas from loving in-laws. Since I couldn’t really think of much that I “needed”, I decided to splurge on a “want” instead.
A little back story first- I currently have 3 show coats and a shadbelly. One of the coats is plain black and is from my eventer days and doesn’t quite fit right and isn’t the nicest quality- so I don’t wear it. The other 2 are both Grand Prix coats in navy. One is plain navy and the other is pinstripe. Both have recieved alterations to help fit me better. The plain navy one is a bit worse for the wear, but it still manages. The inner silk lining in one of the arm pits was badly ripped when I got it, but nothing a tailor couldn’t fix. The pinstripe one was new 2 years ago, and on crazy close-out because wool coats and pinstripe aren’t exactly all the rage right now, but I actually really like it. I had the sleeves let out as much as they could go (which isn’t much).
My main problem with finding show coats is fit. Being 5’11 and 140 lbs, I don’t exactly fit the coat mold. The ‘longs’ are never long enough, especially in the smaller sizes. I spent almost $200 altering my Grand Prix shadbelly, at a place that specializes in suit and suit type alterations, and it still doesn’t fit quite right- so please don’t just say I can buy a coat and get it altered.
Having something tailored is never as easy as it sounds, especially with the more high tech fabric they use these days with show clothing. I have had every coat I’ve ever owned altered to some extent and still haven’t achieved what I consider a perfect fit, but at some point you have to draw the line. Not everyone can fork over $1000 for a custom jacket. It’s just unrealistic, so I keep searching for the best fit possible in an off the rack coat with minimal alterations.
Gift cards and credit card in hand, I headed to my local Dover store. Since I usually buy used, or second hand, I felt certain that with a ‘high’ budget and buying new that I would be able to get the look and fit I wanted. Unclear why I was so delusional (LOL). The store carries like zero size selection, and not a single long coat. Not. A. One. Like, really? What is the point of having a brick and mortar store if you can’t try things on? Anyway- moving on. I tried on the ‘Quinn’ Grand Prix coat in a 10 and it was SMALL. Ok noted, I may wear a 10 in the wool Grand Prix coats, but not the techlites. The 12 fit nice (other then being crazy short). I talked to the sales associate and she said they only carried one Grand Prix style in Long- the Grand Prix Techlite Classic Sport. So… that’s what I ordered!
A week later the store called and said it would arrive sometime in the beginning of March. I literally asked her if she was joking. It was January 13th. She said she was not and did I want to cancel the order. Ummm… no?! I patiently waited, and they finally called this weekend to say it had arrived. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I showed up the the store. I put it on, sales associate said it looked good, and moved on. I didn’t really get a chance to check it out in the mirror or get a feel for it, but I wasn’t worried because I knew I could do that at home. I shopped around some more, then paid for the other stuff and headed home. I got home and put on a show shirt and the jacket. I looked in the mirror. I was not really impressed. My Dear Husband said it looked good but… what does he know?!
It wasn’t as fitted in the arms as I was hoping for, and a bit loose in the torso. Short in the sleeves (obvi). I could probably have it taken in a bit, and maybe have the sleeves let out like.. a centimeter. But my stubborn side says I should have to pay to alter a brand new coat that I paid full price for. My logical side says, “but what other option do we have? It is this coat, or no coat”. My thrifty side says, “you are not in love with this coat, and your other coat is perfectly fine. You should return it”. My inner whiney side says, “but I want a new coat! And I like green! Green will look pretty on Rio. If I don’t keep this coat it will be a long time before I have money for another new coat. ::pouts::”. I brought it to the barn and showed Trainer. She said it looked good but maybe wasn’t perfect, but unless I upgraded to one of the uber expensive coats, it was porbably the best I would get for the price point ($400 ish). So logical. So… I have like pretty much decided to keep it. I think. I REALLY want people’s opinions though- so I took fifty million pics. Please comment what you would do in this situation! Any feedback is highly appreciated.
For comparison I have pics of my “old” coat. It was brand new 2 years ago. A Grand Prix 10T with a navy pinstripe, normal wool fabric, but not too heavy. On the right is my new one in hunter green, 12T techlite fabric. It was like IMPOSSIBLE to get it to photograph green for some reason, but trust- it is green.
So… thoughts? Keep? Return? If I return, suggestions on what to get? Since I used giftcards mainly it needs to be from Dover, unless it’s like $250 or under.
You know how sometimes you are so close to something, that it is hard to notice change? I’m sure you can guess where I am going with this.
Being a first time horse owner (as an adult ?) I am kind of obsessed with my horse. Like, really obsessed. I see him as often as possible, and talk about him more then most first time moms talk about their newborns.
That being said, although I basically know every hair on his body- I still have a hard time grasping the big picture. I often have NO IDEA how other people view my horse. I am not saying it matters what other people think,I love him endlessly no matter what, but sometimes I want an honest perspective on how he is doing. My goal is for him to someday be an A circuit hunter, (I’d be happy to do the AO’s and some national derbies), but I sometimes wonder if I am blinded by how much I love him. Like, am I being realistic or blindly hopeful? And does it matter really? I love every minute I spend with him, isn’t that the point?
Whoa. Did not realize this post was going to be so introspective. Back to the point.
My BFF also rides and she came to the barn with me today. She hasn’t seen me ride Rio in almost 2 months, due to his time off and her visiting horseshow land in another state. I was so very pleasantly surprised to hear that she thinks he has improved leaps and bounds from last time she saw him. Like the words “he looks like an entirely different horse” came out of her mouth. That means a lot, because like I mentioned, I am always wondering what he looks like to people that are not his mom. I also know she wouldn’t lie to me if he DIDN’T look better- I mean best friends just don’t do that.
Of course Trainer has been telling me he looks better, but that’s kind of like your boyfriend saying you look pretty. I kid, I kid! ?
But my point is, sometimes it’s really hard to appreciate you and your horse’s progress. I am hoping that this blog will actually help me see the bigger picture, and be able to appreciate the progress Rio and I make during our journey! I also acknowledge that I should trust Trainer more when she says he has really improved.
And for all of you that made it to the end of this rambling, grammatically incorrect post- here is a short flat video!
[vimeo 205989315 w=640 h=360]
Something magical happened yesterday. Something that hasn’t happened in 48 days. Yes I have been counting. But before I get to that, let me catch you up on how Rio has been doing lately.
Last Saturday we had a flat lesson. Let me preface this with a little bit about myself: I may come across as an extrovert when you meet me, in fact, I play the part pretty convincingly some days. But, I am in fact an introvert at heart. When I am sick/tired etc, I no longer have the energy level to support being an extrovert. My ability to have patience also steeply declines. Patience doesn’t exactly come easy for me, it is a learned skill, so it is one of the first things to go when I am not 100%. Knowing all this about myself, you would think I would not try to ride when I am sick, much less be around other people and take a lesson.
Ya right. #Diehard equestrian right here. I obviously rode anyway.
Long story short, I was HYPER critical of my horse and my riding, and harder then necessary on Rio when things weren’t instantly perfect. The whole “take baby steps and be happy with small amount of progress” mantra that I usually try to subscribe to went right out the window. Why was his canter not perfectly balanced with a perfectly soft mouth? Why couldn’t we canter basic canter poles perfectly every time?
I’m pretty sure Trainer thought I was taking crazy pills and insisted that Rio looked good and was definitely improving. It took me a day and a 1/2 ish to percolate and review what had “gone wrong” in the lesson. Next time I’m in a sick/tired/cranky funk I am going to save poor Rio to headache and ask Trainer to ride instead of me taking a lesson. It will be better for everyone. #lessonlearned.
Still wondering what that majikal thing was that happened? Well now I will tell you! I had another lesson last night and things were going MUCH better. Although learning to trot and canter in a balanced fashion is still hard for Rio, I was much more understanding of the effort he was putting forward and appreciative of the baby steps we are making (as I should be). We actually had some moment of brilliance where he could maintain a lovely, self-carrying canter for an entire circle! Trainer reminded me to keep him sharp on my aids (like in upward transitions to the canter) and not allow him to drag-downward into the transition. We did a bit of halting and backing which really helped. When I thought we were wrapping it up, Trainer surprised me by saying she had texted Amazing Vet and she cleared us for some light jumping!!!
Rio seemed a bit confused as I pointed him to a low X rail. I am pretty sure he thought his jumping career was over, but he jumped it like a seasoned show horse. A few times over the X and a few times over the log and we finished on a very positive note.
Trainer even sneakily videoed it!
Getting to jump something again also really helped all the flatwork we have been working on “click” for me. Like, adjustability in the canter is REALLY important. Self-carriage is REALLY important. All of our flatwork struggles are really going to pay-off when we get back to jumping more. Rio used to just lumber up to X rails and kind of throw himself over. Like, it wasn’t cute. And now, I have the ability to ask for a shorter, more carrying, canter step and he is more able to sit back and lift with his front end, versus taking whatever gap we happened to get to.
I have been struggling with my “idea” of how hunters go, versus the reality of training one. It isn’t always a soft pretty 2-point flowing canter with no feel on the mouth. We will get back to that soft floaty ride, but right now Rio needs to learn to accept my hand, be more adjustable, and balance what is naturally a 14 ft legs-going-every-direction canter stride. Training a hunter is not always pretty as it turns out. They do not all go like Catch Me from the get go!
What are some of the “ah hah” training realities you have gone through with your horse?
Who doesn’t love an affordable, high quality leather halter? One can never have enough IMO. My leather halter count is currently at 3. I wanted to do a quick review on my newest addition, and the halter plate I got to go with it.
About a month ago I purchased a SmartPak Wellfleet fancy stitched padded halter for like nothing- it was crazy on sale for I think 50 bucks (originally $120ish). I have always heard really great things about Wellfleet leather, but this is the first thing I’ve actually gotten my hands on.
It came in this fancy bag, and the leather was gorgeous straight out of the bag. I’ve oiled it twice and it’s already gotten really soft and pliable. I like the way it accepts the oil.But it also feels sturdy, like it’s going to last forever. The stitching is super tight and straight, and seriously luxurious looking. All the hardware looks super high quality, I can’t wait to see how it holds up. The crown piece and noseband have this lovely padding that I imagine is super comfy for the horse.
Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased. This halter is seriously gorgeous and I can’t wait to show it off at my next show.
I like monograms (as I have previously written about) and so I went on the hunt for a halter plate that does monograms. I saw an instagram post for Saucy Piaffe that showed some lovely halter plates, so I perused the website and saw that they offer a ton of customization options. They offer breed logos, as well as monograms. I have to say though- this didn’t quite turn out how I anticipated. I pictured the monogram being smaller (more like a breed logo) and the name ‘Sandrigo’ being much larger. The plate is gorgeous, but I honestly think it looks a tiny bit confused.
Rio has been coming back very nicely from his month off. Other then sporting a lovely #hunterchunk and being way more out of shape then he should be, he’s being a total gem. I thank my lucky stars all the time that he has such a good brain. Amazing Vet has restricted him to flat work for awhile which is forcing us to take a hard look at his flat skillz.
As most hunter/jumper riders will probably agree- I do not love the flat work. I do not “hate” dressage or anything, I just appreciate how hard it is do right, and really think jumping is way more fun. I absolutely will do it to improve my horse, but my idea of fun is not concentrating on tedious flatting.
Unfortunately, I’m being forced to do it, and not even incorperating small jumps.
Thankfully, Trainer has given us plenty to work on. We had a lesson on Thursday where we really focused on Rio’s weak areas (which is everything. JK but only sorta). He just really struggles with how to carry his big body and where to put his legs. Totally normal baby stuff- but he’s a bit behind for his age and I can’t help but wishing he’d catch up already.
We focused on building strength and balance by placing 3 trot poles on a slight turn and doing about a medium sized circuit (probably 30-ish meters) where we would trot the poles, canter for 10 strides, then trot the poles again, ad nauseum. Have I mentioned the arena is not perfectly flat? It is amazing for building balance and strength, but is currently not doing us any favors. I mean it is, in the long run, but right now it just emphasizes our lack of balance and strength.
Rio also tends to “bow out” and lose any semblance of straightness and self-carriage. To help fix this Trainer has us counter-bending slightly and basically leg yielding into the circle for a step or 2, about every 10-15 steps. Rio dislikes this. I like this. It makes him feel incredibly light and balanced for a few strides before we lose it. He is trying very hard though, and we are certainly learning a lot. For example, I am learning that what I felt like is an acceptable amount of leg is not. #storyofmylife
Since he was schooled pretty hard on the flatwork for the past 3 days, I was more then happy to give him a little break today. He still needed a good work-out, but I wanted to do something slightly less taxing on the brain. When my fellow barn mate said she was taking her boy in the back pasture to hack, it seemed serendipitous that I should go too.
Note- I have yet to ride Rio in such a large, open space. Trainer suggested we go the other day, and I sheepishly declined. I still have the weeny AA virus and occasionally wuss out.
But, it felt right today. It was hotter then heck (85, no joke) and this was day 4 of Rio boot camp- I figured he’d be exhausted. Wrong. He was not exhausted, but he was a sweet boy and only bucked once and aged in reverse about 6 months training-wise, but that’s ok. Important part was that we tried something new and no one died. He basically forgot what a canter depart is, but he was at least game to try!
Here’s a few short videos! Huge thanks to my amazing videographer- Berto!!!
Monogramming is a lifestyle.
Monogramming is a lifestyle choice.
Monogramming is a choice.
Monogramming is a choice I make.
Monogramming is a choice I make all the time.
Wait. Am I obsessed with monogramming? Is it a ‘problem’?
I really kicked off the monogramming a few years ago when I was in a large barn where everyone’s stuff looked the same, and things tended to go missing, just because-big barn, lots of boarders. It started with the normal stuff- trunk covers, towels to cover your trunk covers, saddle pads etc.
Then one saddle pad turn into 2, which turned into basically every pad I own. This is due to the introduction of Monogram Lady into my life. She lives very near me and will monogram anything I bring to her. This has resulted in the quick depletion of my bank account.
Embroidered monograms started to not be enough for me. I needed more. This led to an on-line search for niche equine sites that offer engraved monograms. When I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, I settled for my basic initials.
I mean… monograms look good on everything equestrian. It’s really a shame that I reside in hunter land. It’s way harder to adorn everything in monograms. I have to keep them small, like on wrap collar show shirts. Whether they are in style or not, I will ALWAYS monogram my show shirts, regardless.
My monogramming story didn’t end with things that are easy to monogram.
Oh no, that would be too easy. I took it further.
Monogram decals on Etsy are my LIFE. Like, whatever genius came up with them deserves an award. Until then, I’ll continue to throw my money at them.
I mentioned that I used to board at a big barn right? What grows legs and walk off CONSTANTLY at large barns?
That’s right- crops! You’d think that writing on them in sharpie would be good enough, right? Wrong. People can cover up sharpie. And sharpie fades over time. You know what is hard to cover up? Vinyl monograms! The trick to keeping them on for all of eternity is to cover them with a few coats of clear nail polish, you are welcome.
obsession love has grown so intense that it has started to carry over to other areas of my life.
Like, my non-horsey life. See examples below:
I continuously find places to put monograms. Hats, belts, shirts, jackets, etc. If you can put a monogram on it, I almost always do.
I mean, that’s not THAT many monograms. This is like… 1/3 of my monogrammed stuff. Totally not that much. And not weird. I embrace this lifestyle. It’s not like I have monogrammed underwear… do they make monogrammed underwear? Because that would actually be really cute…
Monogramming is a lifestyle and I’m sticking with it. I do NOT have a problem!!!