Thursday, March 31, 2011

Too Cool - Tack Cabinet

How cool is this?

I makes me wish that I needed one because this would make everything so much more organized and almost looks like it could hold all my stuff... I'm not sure it would hold two english saddles though, but they could probably tweak the design to make it work. These are made by a local woman that I know - she owns Smooth Moves Equine where she does equine sports massage and retirement boarding. I didn't know she did this until I was perusing her website. These start at $699 and can be customized with wood choice, harware and trim customization. I thought they were pretty neat!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Katy's Favorite Activity

Katy loves to roll. Luckily for you, my brand new phone is awesome at both videos and pictures so I took this quick video of Katy rolling. She's so funny. I love the moment of suspension when she's on her back with all four hooves in the air. Too cute. She has to roll every single time she's in the arena and it only takes her a couple seconds to find her "spot" to roll. She likes to play in the dirt :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Conformation Markup

So I had ML take a conformation shot of Jetta, though I've really been wanting to get Jetta all braided then take her outside with a bridle and get some better pictures, but you can see what she looks like.

Here's the original before I marked it all up. I know she's too stretched out, but this is the only picture I got until she moved! She was convinced I had treats...

Then here's the markup. I'll try to explain what all the lines mean to the best of my ability. I am by no means a conformation judge of any caliber, but I did learn some from showing on the Hippology Team in 4-H and through reading various articles on conformation.

Ok, If you want to see a larger version, just click on it. 

So the red lines are her shoulder angle. She's a little straight in this picture, but largely because of how much she's leaning forward. The humerus is nice and upright and would fold nicely over a jump, it is about half the length of her femur.

The light blue line is connecting her withers to the top up her croup, so you can see that she is very level.

Dark blue is showing her pelvic angle, the smaller the angle the more "uphill" the horse is built, so I am pleased to see that she is pretty uphill compared to other horses. Though please note that I didn't draw the line correctly - it's supposed to end at the chest, approximately where the pink line of the box hits it.

Purple is a line from the point of her buttocks to the hock on down. She is slightly sickle hocked, which I knew, but it is also cause by her awkward stance. She does sometimes stand so that the cannon bone lines up with the purple line, the problem is just catching it in a picture.

The pink box shows that she has a square body type.

Orange lines compare the length of her back to her underline. In mares, the "rule of thumb" that I learned is that the underline should be twice the length of the back, for optimal broodmare capacity :) Jetta's just about there, but not quite.

Yellow shows the angles and length of her pasterns. Her front are slightly too long in my opinion, but not terrible.

The white dot is her stifle, it's pretty low, which is good, but could be a tad bit lower to be even better.

Black dots are her LS joint and point of hip, though the LS joint is in reality a little farther ahead of where I marked it. Optimally her LS joint should be directly over the point of hip, but hers is only about an inch or two apart so not too bad.

Grey line is the length of her head - it is really long but comparing it to the red line of her shoulder it is proportionate. It could be more feminine and triangle shaped, but she has a good sized muzzle but I wish she had larger nostrils.

I can't really evaluate how long her neck to shoulder to midsection to hip length because of how stretched she is, but her neck is a good length without her stretching that far with a nice, clean throatlatch and a very good tie into the shoulder. Not too low, just perfect so she theoretically should be able to carry herself without being heavy on the forehand.

Of course she does need some more weight, still a little ribby and can use the muscle over her topline but she has a very shiny coat, even while shedding out her winter coat. So there you go, that's my amateur evaluation of her conformation, but of course conformation is so subjective, everyone will have a different opinion.

The markup isn't very good because I had to use Paint to do the lines and if I messed up too much I couldn't undo it and would have to start all over again to please excuse the mistakes. I'm still learning too!

Monday, March 28, 2011


I just lunged Jetta today over ground poles. She was very good, though of course she had to spook at least once because the horses coming in from outside were sooo scary. And then she had to show off for them. Silly. Once we got over that little bit she was great. Looking at her back again, it does seem "normal", like something that will disappear once she gains topline muscle, the topline that I'm still waiting for to appear... But she did lose weight this winter, so that may be our culprit - once she's back on pasture, maybe she'll gain some weight and there won't be any lumps!
Yesterday I had so much to write about so the following info is slightly outdated. Not many comments, so go read the last two posts!! But that's ok if you'd rather not :)

I went to a tack sale yesterday, I had some stuff consigned to it and also wanted a few new things. I thought it went really well. I sold a couple things and I spent less than I made! Brownie points for me. I ended up buying a set of four Dressage Sport Boots (DSB) which sell for about $40 a pair new, for $10 used! Great deal. I also got two bits that will fit Jetta and a In-Hand Sport Horse training video and a George Morris Hunter Seat Equitation book. $30 for everything! I was happy.

I consigned my saddle to the sale, and while it didn't sell, I met someone who was interested in taking it on trial. She said she would come to my parent's store today and leave a deposit and then come try it. Earlier, I guess a woman came in and talked to my mom, saying she had seen the saddle at the 4-H Tack Sale that was a looong time ago and was still interested. She hadn't contacted me since the sale so I had written her off as uninterested. My mom explained that someone else was already coming to take the saddle this afternoon, but if it didn't work out she would call her. The woman I had talked to at the recent tack sale let me know that she was on her way to the store, so I forwarded the message to my dad. My mom had headed out to do errands so she wasn't there. I then get a call from a very unhappy woman saying that she had driven all the way out to get my saddle and it had been given to someone else. I called my dad and he explained that he accidently gave it to the wrong person. It turns out that the woman that had come into the store earlier came back for the saddle and took it with her. My dad had thought that she was the one that I had talked to, and only realized his mistake when the second woman came to get the saddle. Confusing, I know. Jeez. That stupid saddle has been for sale forever and no one has been interested until now, three people all really want it. Yes, there is a third person in Washington who is really interested and wants me to ship the saddle to her. I told her if it doesn't work out with this one person (well, now two) I would send it to her. Now I just feel really bad for the woman who was supposed to get the saddle, but didn't, and I'm kind of upset that the other woman took it because my mom told her that someone else already had dibs on it. Whatever, at least they paid so if they don't come back with it, it's not my problem.

Back to my original topic. I rode Jetta in the boots yesterday and lunged her with them today - they look and fit perfectly. I've started reading the George Morris book and I really like all the pictures and it seems very thorough. Kind of funny to see all the outdated clothes :)

I also noticed at the barn that someone else has my cooler :( My brand new turquoise and black one to be exact. But I am planning on getting mine embroidered so at least I'll be a little different. What do you think, the barrel area or hip area? I'm leaning towards the hip, but I'm not sure. I think the barrel area is more for things like if you win a championship or high-point, but I don't know. I haven't really seen that many embroidered sheets. If you had a sheet you wanted to embroider with you barn name where would you put it?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jetta's Turn...

**Edit** I'm back! I just figured out that you can click the tiny dots where the pictures are supposed to be and they'll open up so you can actually see what I'm talking about! That is, if your browser is being as stupid as mine and not showing the pictures in the first place.

Ok, so Jetta was after Tanq. Of course I first notice that she is filthy after getting her bath on Tuesday. Oh mare. I groomed her really well (bonus for being highly caffeinated = I am very motivated to get things done, even grooming for 15 minutes when I would normally spend two). You can tell she's been bathed because she's really soft (softer than usually) and she just feels cleaner, but still. Why does she have to always be so dirty?!

She got tacked up and I got on, warmed up on a loose rein at the walk. She is doing a lot better at walking on contact. She has been bobbing her head too much so I've been working on that and am pleased to say that it is much better. Then came our trot. She was super forward so I just let her go on a relaxed rein and we trotted around the arena at least five times before I sat back and made asked her to slow down. Quite a few half halts later she was much better, except now she was being really pissy about me putting my inside leg on her. Sigh. She was being really bad about my leg, to the point of kicking up and trying to bite me at the same time. What is wrong with this horse? I put my inside leg on and left it there, making her do a shoulder-in all the way down the long wall. Bonus of being highly reactive to my leg was that we had an awesome shoulder-in. Then I took my leg off and straightened her out for a few strides, then bent her around my inside leg for the corner. No reaction. No ears, no nothing. Weird horse. More trot work and then we cantered. Usually if she's having issues they'll be in the canter, not the trot, but the canter was great today. Perfect speed, light on the forehand, balanced in the corners, no reaction to inside leg.

We switched directions and went through the whole pissy about the inside leg thing again but she worked through it more quickly and had a great ride. I got off feeling very puzzled. Is she sore? Maybe ML rode her with spurs or got after her with her heels and she was sore from that. There was no sensitivity when I girthed her up and she didn't mind my poking and prodding and it worked out after a minute. She was fine on Tuesday when I rode. She isn't in heat any more, that passed just recently so it couldn't be that. I palpated her back, no soreness anywhere, except maybe a touch above her withers. I poked and prodded all over her back and sides with no reaction. Hmph.

Thinking back to when I first started riding, her favorite tactic for trying to get me off was reaching around (while in motion, mind you, cantering even) and trying to bite my feet. So maybe this is just behavioral, after all she's been stalled the past couple days, though I could tell by her tail (she had a giant blackberry branch stuck in it) that she'd been outside. Knowing that TB's have notoriously sensitive digestive tracts I'm also thinking of ulcers, but there's no way that I can pay for a scope and I'm sure my parents would have a fit and fall in it if I asked them to pay. I'm saving up for a chiropractic visit in a couple weeks, so maybe that can shed some light. Any other thoughts? It's not a consistent behavior - sometimes she has the sensitivity, sometimes she doesn't. Sometimes it's really bad, and sometimes its just a slight pinning of the ears. Sometimes she is sensitive through the whole ride and sometimes just for a minute or two. I'm thinking of treating her for ulcers, any recommendations? I know there's GastroGuard, U-Gard and UlcerGuard (I think) that work for ulcers, though one of them is prescription only, but another one has the same active ingredient. Does anyone have something that worked for them? I've heard that there's something else that also helps, I think it's Aloe Juice or something similar? Any advice?

While examing her back I notice with growing dismay her spine configuration. It's something that's developed over the past few months and it's really worrying me. I thought it might disappear as she gained muscle over her topline but it is still there. Red is lump one that worries me, followed by green hollow, and blue lump which is a pretty average lump as far as lumps go that I've seen in a horse's back.

Can you see it? It's barely noticeable in this picture, but there's a lump, hollow, lump. I was reading about it in the most recent edition of Equus and now it really, really worries me. Not good...

Above you can see a really obvious divet, but I think that's just the light being weird. It doesn't look that bad. And does she look a little pot bellied to you or is it just me? Compare that to this picture below that was taken last summer, where there is almost no lump hollow lump.

Then there's this next picture taken two summers ago where there's absolutely no hint of a lump hollow lump. If it's a conformational thing, shouldn't it be obvious from birth, not just as a five year old horse?

Am I being too worried or not worried enough? This horse is going to give me ulcers. Any advice would be appreciated. She is otherwise in very good condition, AC, my trimmer, said her feet are looking a 100% better and that obviously her supplement is working. Her coat is super shiny and soft even before the bath and when turned out in the arena she loves to gallop around and play with Katy. Sigh... What am I going to do with you mare?

Tomorrow we're just going to do a lunge session in side reins over some trot poles (which will now be a regular once weekly thing) to try to improve those topline muscles and hopefully miraculously make that terrible lump go away.

If you can't see the pictures above I am going to be very frustrated. Why can't I see them when they're published?!


Gah! Sometimes I really do hate Blogger. I tried to write a post earlier but it wouldn’t let me! The text box wouldn’t load, I just kept watching the spinning wheel of death go around, and around, and around… So I am typing this in Word and hopefully I can just copy and paste this in Blogger, but we’ll see.
So today. I rode Tanq and Jetta but I have sooo much to talk about so I’m breaking it up into two posts, one about Jetta and one about Tanq. Obviously from the title we’re talking about Tanq first.
We’ll start at the beginning. I headed back up to school today from home and stopped on my way up at Dutch Bros (I LOVE them!) and got a flavored Red Bull. I finally decided to try one since my roomie loves them. They weren’t too bad, but a little weird tasting and a little expensive for me, but wow. I was WIRED!!! I still am a bit :) Major trouble sitting still and not doing anything which was actually good because now I was motivated to do stuff!
I made it to the barn before the major caffeine or whatever is in those things kicked in. Brought Tanq out and went into the tack room where I discovered my tack box had moved. Sigh. I hate it when people touch/move my stuff without asking, though I’m sure the BO did it and it is her barn. Still. And now it is in a really bad position squeezed between the shelving where the grooming tools go and underneath a low saddle rack so it is really difficult to get things out/find them. I liked the old spot better so I think next time I’ll move it and see if the BO moves it back ;)
After finding my now repositioned tack box, I open it and what do I find?! This:

Yes, a mouse. A dead mouse sitting on top of my brand new fleece cooler. Ick! I thought it was alive but tapping the tack box and making noise got no reaction so I lifted the blanket and flipped it off onto the floor. I can tell you that there is no way I am touching that thing! Now I am really paranoid that there will be more waiting for me next time…
After that little ordeal I tacked up Tanq and went through his warmup. Last time whie riding I noticed that he was really short-strided with his right front leg/shoulder so I made sure to look for it on the ground and it was definitely noticeable. He was like that the last two times I rode him. I got on and he was still really short-strided so I got off and cleaned his hoof out. There were a couple little pebbles, but nothing that should’ve been causing his movement. I cleaned both left and right and wow what a difference! He goes barefoot in the winter and gets shod in the summer (I don’t think he needs shoes at all though!) but she still uses the regular farrier for barefoot. His feet aren’t as bad as I have seen some farriers make them, but his right food has a very small frog and contracted heels that are a tad underslung, while his left foot has a lovely big frog and better bars with no contracted heel. Weird. I wonder which came first, the movement or the foot? Getting back on I could see a very apparent difference in the development of his left shoulder and right shoulder so it’s obviously not something I’m just imagining. Hmm… I wonder what has caused it and if CL even notices it or if it’s something she’s just gotten used to. I don’t want to be rude and say your horse is really crooked, implying that she’s not riding/training him correctly. I also know that he has EPSM and Kissing Spine Disease so that may have something to do with it.
Aside from that our ride was fantastic! I love it when you have an aha moment and the light bulb just goes on. That was how it felt today. Last ride he wasn’t very sure of me and a couple time he popped his head in the air when I asked for a transition or resisted coming onto the bit. I was sure it was just because he was used to being asked differently but I wasn’t sure how to ask. Today though I asked him to bend around my inside leg and bingo! Much, much better! He softened up completely and was sooo much better. I just had to know how to ask for it :) His trot was much better and the canter was like riding a whole different horse. We still had a few moments but I just kept a steady feel on the outside rein, a little give and take with the inside rein, inside leg and voila. I used our corners to keep him balanced and we cantered and cantered and cantered just beautifully. He got quite a work out today! I worked more on my sitting trot too. This time I gave him a loose rein so I wouldn’t bump him in the mouth and found he is very well-trained. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could go bridleless on him because he listened so well to my legs and even neck reined slightly. I had fun with him. We did some lengthenings and collected trots and some shoulder-ins and basically just had fun. Too bad my last ride on him (for now) was when it finally clicked! I’m sure I’ll be back on him eventually.
I cooled him out and put him away and next was Jetta…

I love his pink nose!
Ok, well apparently Blogger has decided that I can insert my pictures but no one else is allowed to see them! They're there I promise! The first one is of the mouse and the second one is Tanq with his head over the stall. Is it just me or can others see them? I still hate Blogger (grumble, whine...)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Awesome Video!

You know I've often wondered if there were horses, especially grand prix dressage show horses, that would ever offer up a piaffe or passage if they didn't have a bit in their mouth. This video was an awesome example of a horse who does! I was very impressed with the under saddle portion, the stuff on the ground wasn't anything new to me, but bridleless tempi changes?! I think the only word to describe this horse is exuberant. They obviously have a great bond and it is so fun to watch!

I couldn't get the video to embed as its a facebook vid, so see if this link works to watch it...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Random Thoughts

I had so much fun riding all of the horses the other day, I can't explain how much I wish it was my job to ride horses all day! I miss riding more than one horse, it keeps me on my toes to ride different horses.

Every so often, I'll go live with JF for a couple weeks and just ride horses - she lets me ride her training horses, maybe five or six a day. I want to do that for a living! Talking about it with JF though, she said that my decision to become a vet was a lot better because I'll actually make money and I can still train on the side if I have the time.

I read an article in Practical Horseman the other day and it was just so depressing. It was an excerpt from the book, How Good Riders Get Good. It was talking about how your decisions can lead up to you becoming a "good" rider or not and used two imaginary people as examples of how their decisions dictated their life. One girl, even though she was the more talented, more driven rider wasn't the better of the two because she decided not to take a working student position but instead got married and had kids.

Basically it said you peak as a rider in your 20s and 30s (at least as a competitive rider I think) and that if you want to be a good rider you have to sacrifice certain things, for instance getting married and having kids.

I just wish I could do it all! I've never really thought about it that much, but I always just assumed I would make it into grad school, pass my board examination to become a vet, practice for a few years to pay off loans and make some money and then eventually transition into only training horses.

But even if I get into vet school on my first try, I'll graduate at 24 years old, then have to work several years and who knows if I'll actually make enough money to do what I want? And I'm thinking that somewhere in there I will hopefully meet someone and might want to get married, but what if he doesn't support my riding? I would hope that whoever I marry shares my love of animals, including horses.

Anyways, enough of the depressing thoughts. No new updates with Jetta, I haven't been up since Tuesday but ML rode the horses today and I'll ride Sunday.

I love my ponies!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Combined Driving

Over at The Literary Horse, Jane has been posting some great questions. One of which was if you had unlimited funds what horse sport would you like to try? For me I think that it would be combined driving. I had heard of it before but the first time I had seen it up close was at the World Equestrian Games and I have to say that it's awesome! It was so amazing to see close up.

So what is combined driving? Well, with my limited knowledge, in the marathon portion, you have four horses hooked to a cart, there are three people in the cart, one person who hangs off the back and controls the back brakes and if the horses get tangled or stuck they hop off to help them out.

There are several phases to a course, there are obstacles and then there are open stretches for the horses to take a breather. The obstacles are timed and can include water and must be navigated as fast as possible. Some parts of the obstacle course may have objects, that when bumped, can fall which results in a time penalty. Besides these obstacle courses (marathon), which I would equate to cross country, there is a cones course and a driven dressage. Very similar to eventing in my opinion except with carts instead of riders.

One thing that I love about combined driving are the horses. There's such a wide range of breeds that participate because you want something that has good stamina and can be fast, yet also perform in dressage. I saw Quarter Horse/Friesian crosses, Perchron/TB crosses, Swedish warmbloods and more.

Here's a couple picture from WEG that I took. So breathtaking to be up close in a crowd of people all cheering for the different teams regardless of country!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Beautiful Day

I had fun riding all the horses today! It was a very pretty day today. I think I was at the barn for like four hours, but it was nice because I didn't have anywhere to go so I could spend as much time there as I wanted. One person rode, but not for very long so it was nice to have the arena all to myself.

I rode Katy first and she was pretty stiff so we did some bending exercises and worked on transitions. She loosened up by the end which was good, but she needs work. I think ML should do some conditioning stuff with her and more bending exercises - they would really benefit her. She's so slow and starts huffing and puffing after only one canter lap around the ring. I wonder if we should up her grain, give her some more carbs for energy. Right now she only gets grass hay (and occasionally timothy) with about a cup of grain with her supplements. I swear she gets fat off air!

Jetta was next and she was ok. I bought a full cheek french link snaffle over the weekend in an attempt to end the never-ending search for the perfect bit. So far so good. She didn't act up any more than usual and I think I like the lateral stability that it gives us. She was a little all over the place. She wanted to trot really fast and when I asked her to slow it down a bit she'd try to walk or give me a baby jog so I'd give the slightest squeeze with my calves and off we would go trotting like mad. Sigh. She was doing so good - I've been working on her slowing down slightly but still taking long, sweeping steps. I guess that's what I get for her not getting ridden for two days.

After that Jetta got a bath. That was frustrating. The so-called wash rack is a two sided area with a drain in the middle and a hose. Not exactly what I'd call anything close to a wash rack. There was no where to tie to - no cross ties, no tie ring, so I held onto her. The hose was super long and was looped and tangled all over the place. Even though the BO said there was hot water, no matter how I twiddled the knobs the temperature was still freezing. Jetta refused to stand still so we had a little talk about that which resulted in if she stood still for a few seconds I would give her a break from being sprayed. I know it wasn't 100% her fault cause the water was cold and she wasn't tied, but she was being really naughty, at one point I was worried that she'd fall on the slippery concrete floor (because of course there were no mats at all). So that was slightly frustrating. She's mostly clean though now. I didn't get her tail or her mane, so I'll do that another time, but she's clean for the time being!

Jetta all squeaky clean in her new cooler.

Because she was so bad she got to stand in the cross ties while I rode Tanq. He was so fun! He's definitely a horse that you have to ride a certain way. Do something wrong and he's like Um, no. You didn't ask right. There were a few moments like that. He is so humongous! It's good that he's so well mannered because if he was a brat it'd be unmanageable. We just did a light work out. I went through exactly what CL always does - lunge in side reins then warm up in the saddle, walk trot canter on a loose rein. I think he likes routine a lot so he settled down when he realized that I wasn't some weird crazy person that wanted to change things up! He was really good, usually he's pretty lazy and CL always has to use a lot of leg to keep him moving in a semi-forward fashion, but he was really forward today. His canter though is very up and down, not a whole lot of forward. Very interesting ride. I practiced my sitting trot on him because he is boun-cy. Not really hard to sit, just requires quite a bit of muscle to sustain. I'm not sure I could hold it for a whole dressage test!

Tanq in his very masculine pink boots. I think he looks handsome :) 

It was a great day overall but I'm still a little frustrated with the barn. It is a lot better than all the other places we looked at by a long shot, but first the "wash rack" then every time I come to the barn Jetta's stall looks disgusting. I ended up semi-stripping her stall and adding a bag of pellets. There's a list on the wall where the pellets are so that the stall cleaners and people that do their own stalls can record how many bags they use. It says Jetta got one on Sunday and I marked another one down for today. It just kind of irritates me that I'm paying the extra money for full care but still am not satisfied with the care. The sign by the pellets says that you can only use 11 bags a month, which is actually a lot more than the last barn I boarded at, but still, I think that the horses should get the amount of bedding that they need. Some horses are just messy and you can't make them live in a messy stall, it's not going to make them learn to be cleaner and its not healthy for their feet or for their lungs breathing in the fumes. Grr. We'll see what happens this summer, ML and I may be looking into moving to another barn, but we'll see. This is still the nicest barn around that I've seen at least. I think I'll also talk to the BO about adding hay for lunch for Jetta. I'm pretty sure a couple other horses get lunch and I hate to see Jetta standing in her stall with no hay and reduced to hoovering up stray pieces. Well, that's my rant for the day!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Nothing to update so far. I'm at home and Jetta's still up at the barn at school. Tomorrow I'll go up and ride her, Katy and Tanq. I'm really excited to ride Tanq. He's huge - 17.2hh and just big all around. It'll be interesting to ride him. I'll try to post a pic tomorrow so you can see his ginormous cuteness :)

I think I'll give Jetta a bath as long as the hot water is working. Fingers crossed! I have her new cooler and everything.

I went up to the expo Friday and that was fun. Still a little disappointed that there wasn't as many vendors as I would like, every year it seems I say that. ML and I watched a clinic for a little while by this Cowboy Dressage guy. He was different but I liked him. I didn't stay the whole time so I didn't really 'learn' anything persay, but it was neat to see him in person (I don't remember his name right now... I'll figure it out). So, yeah. That's about it! Hope everyone is having a great spring so far.

Sorry, slightly random photos, but I love tulips and daffodils.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Parelli - Natural Horsemanship

So I didn't really want to write this post, but everywhere I go I hear something negative about Parelli and/or Natural Horsemanship, so I decided to write a response, something that I've never been able to voice in person when confronted with the issue.

Let me start off with some history. I got my first horse when I was 9 and the woman who I bought him from/helped me find him (she was a half owner) was my trainer. I've talked about her a bit before this, we'll call her DVO. Well, DVO is a very good trainer, I have a lot of respect for her and she uses various techniques all combined into one training system that is all her own. She uses Parelli as one of these systems so that was what I was started on.

I enjoyed Parelli, I mean what kid doesn't want to grow up to be able to ride your horse bridleless? I bought a rope halter, lunge line and carrot stick. Some of this was from Parelli, some of it wasn't. It didn't really matter what maker the tools had as long as I had them. Grady was a horse that responded very well to Parelli training. He was bratty but really wanted to please. He learned to lunge nicely without taking off without me, he learned to bend and not bolt, to stop and stand still for mounting, to be caught in the pasture.

I learned even more than he did. I learned to read horses' body language and to use my body to influence theirs. I learned to have an independent seat and to use the most subtle aids possible, I learned to make boundaries and I think most importantly I learned to establish a great partnership with a horse.

As I grew older, I heard less and less positive things about Parelli. I've been to a couple of his tours and thoroughly enjoyed them. At that point, to me, it was obvious that he was a very good horseman. He was fair to the horse but still got results. He didn't let them get away with bad behavior, but he didn't push them too hard. I switched trainers and passed my Parelli Level 1 assessment on Grady. My new trainer, JF, also used some Parelli methods, though like most natural horsemanship trainers I know she didn't follow only one train of thought, but instead a blend of several. She helped my with Jazz and eventually we passed our Level 2 assessment.

That's something I really enjoyed with Parelli was the assessments. I'm a very competitive person, I like to have set goals and succeed at those goals so these assessments were perfect for me. Through JF and others I heard more negative things about Parelli. One was that he was very jealous with his students, oftentimes if a student looked like they were getting as good/successful as he was or better, he would go out of his way to make things difficult for them, oftentimes ultimately resulting in the student's quitting. This wasn't that big of a deal to me. I was happy with the training system, the man behind it didn't really matter to me.

I have the first edition of this book,
and while not amazing, I enjoyed it.

Over the years one of the main complaints that I have heard about the Parelli system is the marketing - how oriented it is on using only Parelli's magical tools. But really I don't see it that way. You can buy a carrot stick from multiple places, they now make a generic brand that sells for about $10, of which I have several. Personally I prefer a carrot stick as opposed to a lunge whip, partially because it's what I grew up using. Rope halters also aren't hard to find. I think I only own one Parelli halter and all others are from multiple other places. I will say though that just any rope halter won't do. Those terriby stiff and thick rope halters really aren't doing much for you like a soft flexible one would. You can buy a 30 foot lunge rope too without having to rely on Parelli. You don't need the bits or the bridles, the pad or the saddles either. Just work with what you have. I don't really remember Pat ever saying, you just need my awesome tools and your horse will be amazing in no time, though that's how people seem to interpret it. Sure, he markets his tools, what horse person that has their own line of tack doesn't? I mean can you name someone that says "Yeah, I created this line of tack, but don't buy it, I mean it's really not different from anything else out on the market."?

Alysha & MoonPie - Green Ball Friendly gameClinicians are for the sole purpose of trying to market their form of training to as many people as possible. That's another argument that people have, that they are trying to make it a one-size fits all kind of thing. I don't really agree with that either. The point is that you are supposed to learn to read your horse. Is he refusing to do something because he's scared or is he being defiant, does he not trust you or is he doing it because he doesn't understand what you're asking or does he hurt? How you ask your horse to do something depends on why they're doing or not doing something.

I must admit that I am a self proclaimed follower of the "old" Parelli. After he started coming out with the new programs - the HorseNalities and the patterns, the cradle bit, etc. I just kind of ignored it and kept with what I had always been doing. Personally the patterns don't seem like anything special to me, I already had my own idea of the horsenalities and the cradle bit is just another tool that I haven't found a use for. There are many people I'm sure that have benefitted from these new things, but I'm sure there are just as many people that haven't.

Along with this, I must say that Pat & Linda have not impressed me in recent events. There have been several incidents that I just don't understand what they were thinking when they did it. It's not what they teach, it's not something that they would promote. These incidents include working with the show jumping stallion Catwalk, the recent Road to the Horse and others. (Very good response to the Catwalk incident here.) What were they thinking? I don't know, but that's not the Parelli that I support, and not one I want others to follow. I was disappointed when Pat got bucked off at the Road to the Horse competition. I mean he used to be a professional bronc rider, what happened? But people change. He's getting older, he's not the person he used to be, but I would argue that neither is anyone else. We all change.

So I have to say I'm not a Parelli "follower." I'm not in that cult of people that believe he's all that and more. I liked the old system of Parelli and I'm sticking to it. Parelli is just one technique in my box of training tools. It has really helped me with a variety of horses. It's helped me to gain not only their respect and trust, but learn and grow as a trainer myself.

I advise you to watch this video. I loved it.
It shows what you can do when you have a
true partnership with your horse. You can
accomplish a lot as long as you listen to your
horse and they listen to you. You don't have to
do Parelli to acheive closeness with your horse,
it's simply one of many paths to get there.

One issue that I think there is with the Parelli system is that it is often marketed as a self-taught system. Buy the Level 1 pack and you can train your horse yourself! But this isn't for some people. Some people need that in-person guidance. They need someone to show them how to do things in person and correct them when they're wrong. That's where so many problems come from is that people teach themselves to do Parelli, but instead they are just making things worse. And the worst part is that they're convinced that they are doing it right. Reading a horse comes with experience, it's not something that can be taught just through watching a video. I think people wanting to do Parelli should simply find a trainer in their area. I know of many awesome Parelli trainers, but Parelli is not only what they do. It's also a lot of common sense, which I support whole-heartedly.

Sorry this has been so long, but there's just so much more that I can write. I will end this post by saying that while I don't like the new system of Parelli or the man himself, I support the basic concepts. They've worked for me. I can tell you that the best feeling in the world is to have your horses choose to be with you when they have the choice of running away and hopping on a horse bareback and bridleless in the pasture to go for a short canter around the field is awesome! Just choose what works for you and ignore what doesn't. Most importantly be fair to the horse. But realize that just because there are many people out there that despise natural horsemanship and its followers, there is always a flip side to everything. As a horse person, I think our greatest responsibility is to educate ourselves.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Breed Spotlight: Appendix QH

HorseID: 1660564 Dash To Destiny - PhotoID: 557122 -  2011-06-07 Days Left: 83
A lovely example of my favorite type
of Appendix QH. Find the first three
horses pictured on!

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but I love Quarter Horses, especially Appendix QH. I first fell in love with them because I begged my neighbors to let me ride their old horse, Ruby. I had absolutely no riding experience, but I loved her. She was an older horse and her spunky attitude just stayed with me.

My first horse, Grady is a QH. Jazz, my second horse is also a QH, though she is registered as an Appendix. Jazz and Grady both have the same amount of thoroughbred blood though. Anyways, what I love most about Quarter Horses is that they are so versatile, they'll try their hardest for you, and in my experience they're right in the middle of the temperament scale, usually not too hot but not too lazy. These are just generalizations as I'm sure there are QH's out there that are crazy hot or super lazy.

HorseID: 1661388 Zans Bay Gator - PhotoID: 558015 -  2011-06-12 Days Left: 88
Love the body type - athletic, not too
chunky but not super slender

Jazz has done almost every discipline with me and has done it very well. Sure, you can't make it to the national or international level in every discipline, but we did very well for the level we were working at. I think the only thing we haven't done is saddleseat and vaulting. I did teach her to ground drive and pull a makeshift thingy cause I never got around to saving up for a cart, so we kind of did driving. But we also did reining, dressage, jumping, eventing, english and western pleasure, showmanship, sorting and penning, trail and even some gaming. She tried her hardest at everything we did, learned quickly & was able to transition between disciplines almost seamlessly.

HorseID: 1649398 Jay-Walker - PhotoID: 556991 -  2011-06-06 Days Left: 82
They can jump!!

I kind of want another Appendix QH. Probably because I just want another Jazz! I was always disappointed that I delayed on breeding her and at 20 years old now, I'm not willing to take the chance on breeding her. I suppose I could do an embryo transfer, but at that expense I could buy a weanling that was exactly what I want!

A new horse moved to the barn and is a very cute Appendix QH. I just love the look of most of these horses. They're not ribby and slender like TB's, but they're not stocky and overmuscled like some QH. A nice in-between. They are really athletic and I think they excel in hunter/jumper and eventing. I would like to own another eventing Appendix QH someday possibly. They're just fun horses.

Invitation Only

It would be interesting to see what the differences there are between Appendix QH that have a TB sire and QH dam versus those that have a QH sire and TB dam. Personally if I was to breed Jetta for an Appendix baby, I love Invitation Only. He is a very successful sire and all his babies that I have seen are gorgeous. He passes on a lovely neck, balanced body type with a medium length, strong back. For a QH stallion he also has pretty nice conformation (for my tastes). I don't like the halter type that many horses are being bred for today - giant butts that are several inches taller than the withers with weak loins, huge muscled bodies on dainty feet and legs.

Love this guy. He's huge: 17.2 hh and does english pleasure
(obviously) and also jumps. Very cute jumper I might add
and look at his floaty movement. Good conformation too.
His name is Indian Artbeat.

There are also several QH stallions that are approved through the American Warmblood Society. While this may not sound like much to some (the AWS is a pretty broad group) I think they're actually some pretty nice horses. This guy pictured here is AWS approved.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sad Day

ML, CL and I all went out to the barn together today. We got there and Dudley wasn't in his stall. Hm. We all got on and were warming up when ML motioned us to the middle of the arena.

"Dudley had to be put down this morning. He colicked really badly." I was so stunned. Dudley? Not our big cuddly goofball. Our barn mascot. The BO was really upset. Dudley and her were buddies, she was helping him get reconditioned after he was on stall rest for an injury.

I'm so sad. I can't believe he's gone. Even the horses seemed to notice he wasn't there. They kept peeking into his stall. Wow. It's amazing how quickly you can lose someone. I gave Jetta an extra cuddle tonight.

I'm sure his owner must be feeling awful right now. She bought Dudley as a foal and has had him for almost 15 years, I think. I wish I had taken more pictures of him so I could give her a card :'( I would love to get a picture of him from someone and make her a poster or something that she can keep of him. Oh Dudders, we'll miss you!

My unfortunately only picture involving Dudley, and of course it's a terrible cell phone pic and you can barely even see Duds. Poor guy.

Drool Worthy

So I ran across this company when I was reading the blog, On Track for a CCI*. I guess they were at an event and Suzie bought a breastplate from them. It sounded pretty neat, I mean it goes from a 3-point breastplate to a 5-point breastplate, and I always love innovative stuff :)

I went to their website and oh my gosh. LOVE. I was drooling all over their stuff. The company is called Voltaire Design and their products really are lovely.

Not only is all their tack made out of very delicious* looking leather, but guess what.... It has my favorite color in it! Their company colors are a stripey bright blue color, which coincidentally is my fav color. It makes me happy.

Evidence of my love of the color turquoise.
 I'm not sure their saddles have displaced my love of the Black Country Wexford which I someday hope to own, but they're super nice. I really like the dressage saddle. I think what I love most are their boots and that breastplate. I hope they make a line of bridles eventually. Maybe by the time I've saved up enough to actually buy something from them they'll have even more awesome products.

The boots come in all sorts of cool designs, from grippy inside area to a cool side zip (which I'm sure you know I'm a fan of) and guess what... yes, they are lined with my favorite color blue. Personally, I'm leaning towards the boots with a snakeskin trim along the top. So pretty... (insert image of me drooling right now!)

I'm thinking as a future product line they should offer bridles and breastplates padded with bright blue leather. I would buy it! I'm not sure who else out there would, but they have some really nice tack.

*On an aside, it's always interesting trying to describe leather quality to non-horse people.
Non-Horse Person: Why is that saddle so much more expensive?
Me: Well it's higher quality. Can you feel the difference between the leather?
NHP: Well, yeah so? Why does that matter?
Me: Well it's something you have to use every day and if it's soft its more comfortable and easy to use. Plus it's just delicious.
NHP: Delicious? You eat this stuff??

Monday, March 14, 2011

2011 Show Schedule

So here are all of the shows that I'm thinking of going to. Of course I'll probably only make it to about half of these, but it doesn't hurt to plan.

2011 Horse Show Schedule
May 1st - OSU Beaver Piaffe Dressage Show @ Inavale
May 14th-15th – Woodinville, WA Hunter Pace/Eventing Clinic                    
May 15th – OSU H/J Show @ Inavale
May 20th-22nd – Spring Trail Adventure, Oregon Horse Center
May 28-30th - Eventing Camp @ Inavale
June 4th & 5th -One Day Horse Trials @ Inavale
June 18th & 19th – Make Your Mark Eventing/Steeplechase Clinic/Show
June 17th-19th – Beaujolais Series Dressage Show with Sport Horse Breeding Classes
June 24-26th USEA recognized Inavale Farm Horse Trial
July 31st – Midsummer Night’s Dream, McKenzie View Acres
October 15th & 16th – Make Your Mark Eventing Clinic/Show
October 29-30th – Gerd Heuschmann Clinic in Woodinville, WA

One that I'm super excited about is the Gerd Heuschmann Clinic. I wish is wasn't so far away, but I'm sure it will be worth the drive.

Also really looking forward to the Inavale Farm Horse Trial - I'll be showing in a half star event! Hopefully the first in an upward climb to a one star and maybe beyond... I just have to find a CIC* that isn't out of state!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Picks: Vienna Reins

Not much new to update. I got a new purchase in the mail though! I love getting mail. I found some used Vienna Side Reins on craigslist and bought them. I paid $16.95 for them and they usually sell at Dover for about $45 plus $10 shipping so I thought they were a good deal. I just found that more companies are making them so now you can pay $100 to $130 for these reins, which is just a bit overkill. I was very happy with them, I'm glad I found used leather ones instead of buying a nylon set because nylon is less expensive new. I don't like nylon a whole lot, leather is definitely better in most cases :)

I usually don't use side reins or any "gadget" for that matter. I have some elastic side reins but I feel like they 1) teach Jetta to hang on them because they have too much give, 2) don't really allow stretching down and out, there's a little bit of downward, but not a lot of outwards stretch and 3) there are usually better alternatives to using gadgets, which in this situation would be long reining, but I'm still learning how to do it and using side reins is easier on both myself and Jetta. I don't use the side reins with donuts because I feel like they bounce around too much which puts pressure on the mouth and somewhat desensitizes it.

I used my new vienna reins today in my lunge session and Jetta was great. I think they're going to be a good tool. I warmed her up then set them at the longest setting which was pretty much perfect. Jetta was working really great in them - lifting the base of her neck and flexing softly through her poll while maintaining impulsion. Good pony! No pictures because the power was out at the barn so it was too dark for pictures (it's been super windy) and I am not talented enough to lunge and take photos, so... You can go to We Are Flying Solo though and check them out. She's got a very thorough explanation.

They're pretty ideal for Jetta because she really lifts the base of her neck, she doesn't fall on her forehand. Like with all gadgets they just don't have the desired effect on some horses, so these probably wouldn't work on some horses and would just create problems. Also, it is the lunger's responsibility to make sure that they're set at the right length and the horse is still maintaining some impulsion. They serve no purpose if the horse is strung out with trailing hind legs and a dropped back.

The picture on the left is the ideal. They need to be tracking up and reaching down. I would personally attach it to the surcingle a little lower so they can stretch down more. The picture on the right is, in my opinion, too tight. The horse is behind the vertical slightly and while the horse is tracking up, part of the reason for using these reins are to stretch the topline so the horse must reach downwards, not get all sucked in like this.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Wow, I actually got up early this morning! Now, for some perspective, I never get up early unless I absolutely have to. I am the typical teenager who likes to sleep a lot. This morning, however, I was convinced by my barn buddy, CL, to get up and go out to the barn at 7:30am.

I actually got myself up, though I must say it was very difficult and I was sooo tired. CL bought me coffee which was a bonus :) I have to admit that I really liked getting up early. No one was at the barn, Jetta was fantastic so it was a nice way to start the day and now I'm AWAKE!

Today we did canter poles and some jumping. I set out three poles to canter over and Jetta did super well. I have been working a lot on my position and I have to say that I feel like I'm really improving. Lots of two point and working on getting those heels down and a nice crest release over the jump with eyes up and shoulders back.

Then I raised the last pole to a large X and trotted her through a couple times then cantered in each direction. She's still a little quick in one direction, but it's improving. I then set up the last two jumps in our quick direction and just trotted her up and cantered her through the one bounce stride. The last fence was a vertical at 2' but she didn't get her feet up fast enough after the bounce so I ended up lowering it to about 18" and she did much better. I only did it once without knocking it down because I think she was getting a little tired and I wanted to end on a good note.

I think next time we jump I'll set up a couple fences on a circle so we can work on our quick direction. It's not like it's worse going to the right or left, just heading towards one end of the barn. Weird. It was a very nice workout though. Perfect way to start the day!

I forgot to talk about my bareback session earlier in the week. Never. Again. I rode bareback just cause I was too lazy to actually put a saddle on and work so I just hopped on sans tack. I worked on using very light aids and then we did a lot of trot work, asking Jetta to slow down so I didn't bounce around like a jackhammer. We did some shoulders-in and circles. It was a very nice ride. But then came the next day. I was so sore. Jetta's shark fin withers and bony back did not make it a comfortable ride. I could barely walk let alone sit. It was torture. It took about three or four days for the pain to subside. Remind me to never, ever ride without a bareback pad. Gosh that was terrible. I'm sure Jetta didn't appreciate my bony butt any more that I appreciated her bony back but I will never ever do that again.

I do plan on riding at least once or twice a month bareback (with a pad) because then I can really fine tune my aids and exercise my core muscles.

Here's some cute pictures from last week:

Treat? Pretty please? Notice the funny braided forelock.
Got tired of it getting all tangled up when I bridle her.

Kind of a conformation shot. I want to work on my braiding
skills and then take a good picture of her "naked" as a conformation shot.
Katy: "Gimme the tweat NOW, nom, nom, nom"
In other news I finally sold my dressage saddle. Win! I don't know how long I've had that thing for sale but it's been forever. Yay! I now only have 4 saddles (wince, well one is for sale so don't judge me :). Once I get that sold I'll have a dressage saddle, a jumping saddle and a training saddle (aka if the horse rolls with it on I don't really care). There's a local tack sale in a couple weeks put on by the dressage chapter so I'm consigning my tack to that, hopefully it will get sold or at least get some more people interested in trying stuff out.

I've been getting my eventing fix over at eventing nation. I really enjoyed watching Phillip Dutton's winning dressage test, I felt it was very nice and smooth. I watched a couple others and it just wasn't as smooth or soft and a several people I watched had very downhill rides with heavy hands. Not very pretty. There was also this article that I read that was very nice. I like how William Fox-Pitt talks about his training style and how he rides. Seems like a great guy, very common sense like.

Friday, March 11, 2011


While the weather is definitely improving here (it's sunny and warm-ish!) I still can't wait for it to get even better, or more specifically, I can't wait for it to dry out more so I can do this:

I want to be doing this right now! This place looks amazing, all of that wide open space. Love! I'm jealous of everyone out there that gets to do this right now, while we still have a foot of mud outside :( But I know it could be worse. I'll just be counting down the days until cross country schooling...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hind Gut Acidosis?

So I was grooming Jetta the other day and looking at her hooves trying to decide if it's time to have the trimmer out. Her hooves are still working on getting better, even though it's been almost two years since I got her and she started getting trims. Looking at her hind feet I noticed that one had a bull nose to it and just the other day I read a post at the Barefoot Horse Blog about bull nosed hooves. Interested I pulled up the blog post again and read it thoroughly. Lucy Priory, the blogger, linked bull nosed hooves to poor trimming and poor diet. I'm pretty sure that my wonderful trimmer is not causing the problem (I hope) and we've been having issues with the diet. Lucy at the Barefoot Blog referenced a previous post about hind gut acidosis and the symptoms fit Jetta almost perfectly. Mild colic symptoms, rancid smelling droppings, and low energy plus the hoof thing. Her dropping aren't really loose, but they do smell pretty bad. I've never stabled a horse before that got a lot of grain and almost no pasture access - Jazz was the only horse I've boarded before and she just got a handful of oats plus vitamins and hay with a couple hours of turnout a day - so with Jetta I assumed that it was pretty normal, no one mentioned anything. She's also been pretty grumpy, which I'm pretty sure is mostly an attitude thing (she's in raging heat right now), but maybe this might have something to do with it. I was thinking about ulcers and just treating her for them and seeing if it helped, but I think for now we'll try treating the hind gut acidosis.

Subtle bull nose hoof, which looks amazingly similar
to Jetta's right hind hoof.
Photo from the Barefoot Horse Blog.

We'll see if changing to a low starch/sugar feed helps. I hope it does! This past week or so I've just noticed that Jetta seems kind of low energy. She's still being obnoxious and goofy and still has her sassy attitude so I wasn't really sure what was going on, but hind gut acidosis would make sense. My poor baby. Her vitamins already have probiotics in them so that should be helping. Maybe I'll get a tube of probios and give her that as well, especially cause it's time for worming again.

To read more about this, go here and here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I have the spring cleaning bug. I know it's not quite spring yet, but I just want to start cleaning everything! All my stuff is so grungy, including my horse. Ick.

Yesterday was gorgeous sunny, warm-ish weather, though today it's back to gloomy rain :( Today I cleaned my saddles and washed my horse's muddy boots, though after they dried I put them on Jetta and lunged her in the newly watered arena so they are again muddy. But at least not as bad as last time. That's the problem with horses - I always end up looking so dirty after going to the barn. I don't understand how people can ride and still look good. Me, I've got horse snot down my shirt, mud on my legs, dirty brown hands, hair sticking up every direction and sweaty bangs stuck to my forehead.

Next on my list is washing the stall blankets and saddle pads, then eventually washing the horse. I must have the most disgusting horse ever. When I look at her stall I see that she pees around the edges so she has all this area in the middle with lots of bedding to lay in at night, right? But when I take her out of the stall she'll have a giant wet spot all across her middle. Gross, mare!

Can't wait to clean her blankies, though I know as soon as I put them back on her they'll get dirty again. It's a losing battle but oh well. At least I can say I tried! I'm also looking forward to giving her a bath because brushing can only go so far. She's just kind of sticky. I ordered a new cooler (my only other cooler is one that I won in highschool equestrian team and although it is a size large, it is tiny) and it comes in my colors! Turquoise and black, which as you may have noticed are the same colors as my blog. I'm excited. It's being discontinued so it was about 60% off, maybe more. Good deal!

I'm thinking about getting it embroidered with my logo so I can take it to shows and match with everyone else who have embroidered coolers showing off their barn. I may not have a barn, but I already have my barn name and logo all picked out :) I'm not obsessive or anything. Well, maybe just a little.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cute Pony

Ok, I have a question for you. I need something I can do to convince my parents that I need a pony. I really, really want this girl.

Not only is she adorable, but she's been on craigslist for a while so the owner is now offering her for care lease instead of the $700 she was asking so it may be that I can make payments on her or at least take her home and see if she works out.

image 2253473559-0
Tell me that is not the cutest face you've ever seen?!

While there's not a whole lot I can do with a pony, I can tell you I would have a blast. I can show her in hand and pony her on the trails. I can use her for lessons - her owner says she's not great for young beginner children so I can just use her to teach kids to groom cause they can't reach Jazz's back and possibly with some work I can use her as a leadline.

She is 12 years old and 11.2hh. She is on the chunky side, but nothing some work and a grazing muzzle probably couldn't help. So, what do you think? What are the best, I need a pony arguments that you can think of?

Monday, March 7, 2011

My Picks: Fleece Pads

Based on previous posts, you may have noticed that I am a tack collecter. Others, specifically SprinklerBandit and Checkmark115 have labeled it as being a "tack whore" but I prefer the label, "tack connoisseur". But whatever you call it, I have an affinity for tack.

While I haven't gotten to the point of some horsey people that I know (whose tack rooms, trucks and houses are filled with tack) and I at least use every piece of tack that I have, I will admit that I have about twice as much tack as other horsey people I know. My only consolation is that a large percentage of my tack inventory is from tack sales, presents or items that were given to me so at least I'm not dishing out major bucks for my collection.

Because of this expansive collection I have decided to make a few reviews of different items that I own or have owned on the off chance that there are others out there like me who also love to collect tack or are shopping for a certain item and my reviews may be able to give some help. As a key $ = relatively inexpensive retail price while $$$$ = very, very spendy. So without further ado...

Fleece pads. They've become very popular in the past couple of years. I decided to get one because it would help provide some comfort to my horse's back because of my slightly rock hard english saddle until I could find a new one or get it reflocked.

My first purchase was a Roma Merino Sheepskin Half Pad ($). It probably would have sufficed had I not made a trip to my local tack store and curiously felt a Mattes half pad. There is no way that my half pad could every compare to the luxury that it Mattes. Compared to that, my pad was a pathetic excuse for a half pad. The wool was not thick enough to conform to the horse's back nor did it make a cushion that would allow the air to circulate. So my Roma half pad found a new home and I bought a Mattes Half Pad.

This is my Mattes pad ($$$). I LOVE it! It is super cushiony and it is now being used with my dressage saddle to fill in a little until Jetta fills back out in summer time and her back muscles continue to develop. I opted for the pad without the full rolled edge along the back because it was cheaper (because these pads are spendy) so I think if I had the money I would have bought one with the rolled edge, but it really hasn't made much of a difference.

Another pad that I have is the Equine Comfort Pad (ECP) ($$) that I with my jump saddle. It is also very nice, not quite as spectacular as my Mattes pad but it fits great with the saddle and gives plenty of cushion. I like the wither cutout as it provides some extra ventilation and pressure relief. This is why I like ebay :)

And the last brand is Fleeceworks ($$). I use this one as a show pad. This is also a great brand - thick fleece that is high quality and cushioning.

Overall my favorite is the Mattes pad, but I definitely wouldn't hesitate to buy a ECP or Fleeceworks pad. Because sheepskin is best used next to the horse's back, instead of on top of a pad, I would recommend getting a square or shaped pad with fleece on the bottom instead of a half pad, but for the most part, my half pad on top of the saddle pad works just fine. I haven't had a chance to get my hands on a Circuit pad, but from what I can tell they are still a high quality, yet much less expensive version of the Mattes pads. I do have a Circuit fleece girth, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of it. I would probably avoid the Roma half pads unless you are on a tight budget and only need a little bit of padding, but that's just my input.