Monday, June 30, 2014

Catch Up Post #1 - Busy Weekend

Blogger is not being very nice to me right now. I typed up a very long and detailed post on my lesson from the other day and it got deleted. Grr.

So in the meantime, a small update.

Tons of horse-y things happened this weekend, but unfortunately I wasn't able to go to any of them which was sad. The Inavale HT was this weekend and originally I planned on at least going to watch since I couldn't ride this year, but wasn't able to make it happen unfortunately. There was also a big dressage show in California three friends drove down to show at. They were the group I went to the first show of the year with and I really wanted to go since they're a fun group and it sounds like it was a really fun show!

Then JF had the first show in the series of trail competitions which I really wanted to go to! You have to go to two of the three shows to qualify for final awards, but I will hopefully have sold Misty by then... Which leads me to my biggest piece of news: Misty is officially for sale. I know most bloggers aren't located in Oregon but if you happen to be, pass the word on and contact me with questions/link to the ad!

Today I had a quick ride on Misty. I was dying from the heat. I can't handle 88 degrees. I melt. So it was short and sweet before I rinsed her off and put her away. I wasn't feeling up for another hot ride so I just lunged Jetta, hosed her off and put her away too. It's supposed to continue to be really hot this week and of course I work all week in the morning so I won't have time to ride beforehand so I'll just have to suck it up and melt.

Oops. Overfilled Jetta's water today so she had a nice little lake in her paddock!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review: Full Seat Breeches

Well, I think I've finally had all of these breeches for long enough that I can do a review on them! I was just going to do each pair of breeches individually, but then decided I'm too lazy to do multiple posts so I'll just lump them all into one!

Smartpak Piper Breeches: You've probably seen plenty of reviews on these breeches around the blogosphere, but for what it's worth, I'll add my two cents.

I ended up getting the full seats in Merlot. I am currently obsessed with this color and I love the shade it came in. I was pleasantly surprised at the fabric. I'd heard that it wasn't very nice ("you get what you pay for" and all that) but it was a nice fabric compared to breeches of similar price that I'd gotten in the past. The only thing I don't like about the fabric is that it is heavier than my TS/Ariat breeches or my Irideon tights, so it's not suitable (for me) for riding in the summertime when it's 80+ degrees. But then again, I'm a wimp.

I wasn't too sure about getting full seats since I'm a recent convert to them. I've hated them my whole riding career and just recently decided that I actually like full seats. But they are great. The fabric has just the right amount of stick to them without completely gluing you to the saddle. I actually miss riding in them when I wear other knee patch breeches.

The fit on me is fantastic. I am between sizes, either a 26 or 28 but I ended up getting a 26 for these. I love how they fit. The waist is perfect, not too high or too low (I wear a belt with all breeches) and the overall fit too tight even after washing. And they've been washed a ton since I always get filthy at the barn. I love the stretch legs instead of velcro. I really, really don't like velcro. They fit perfectly in my tall boots and aren't too bulky.

I've even gotten compliments on these breeches when I wear them in public from non-horsey people! Which I think is hilarious and awesome.

The only downside: the stitching. I'd read reviews that said the stitching often comes loose with Smartpak breeches. I am experiencing that a little bit right below the zipper, however, it has been "loose" since probably the second ride and I haven't gotten around to fixing it and it hasn't gotten any worse. Plus, it will be a very easy fix to just add a little loop and knot of thread.

Overall, for the price, I don't think you can go wrong with these breeches. I'm definitely going to get a second pair (probably as a birthday gift) which I cannot wait for because these are currently my favorite schooling pair of breeches! My only issue is deciding what color to get them in!

Really less than optimal dirty mirror picture
Another awful picture. But hey, you can see they get used hard!

FITS All Season Front Zip Breeches: (side note: I actually had a somewhat hard time finding these breeches in front zip and dove gray, but just now googling it I found exactly that! And plus they're 10% off. Nifty. If you were admiring them in the pictures from the horse trial I just did with Misty, here's your chance!)

In action

I saw these on ebay a while ago in a lovely dove gray color and ever since then I was obsessed with that color. The problem I'd seen with white FITS is that they were too see through (I believe they've since fixed this problem?). I eventually found them in my size on ebay for much cheaper than retail and decided to splurge. I'd tried them on in a tack store before and originally thought the fabric was too thin for my liking, but now that I actually own these breeches, I think the fabric is fantastic. It actually has a fairly good weight to it while still being really breathable. They have a slightly higher waist than my other breeches (I tend to go with mid-rise or low-rise though not super low-rise breeches) but the fit is very flattering with a nice wide waistband.

One issue. The stitching COMPLETELY came undone in the crotch region. I think this is a complete fluke as I haven't seen reviews or heard of anyone else having this issue, but I was kind of aghast that such high-end breeches would do such a thing. After all, my cheap-y $30 breeches have not had so much as a loose thread in 8+ years.

They are getting sent off to the tailor's to get fixed up.

I have ridden in them all day twice. The first time they chafed and the second time they did not. I have heard complaints of them chafing, but honestly I think it was because the first time I had really dry skin because the second time I wore them all day was at the horse trial and I rode in them a lot with no problems.

However, I do like these breeches overall and would recommend them. I like the segmented patches. I think they provide a fair amount of stick. Not glue, but definitely noticeable. While butt patches aren't all that flattering, I think on the whole, these breeches are very flattering and I always get compliments on them. They also have the sock bottoms with no velcro. Obviously I am very partial to that!

Tropical Rider Deerskin Full Seat Breeches:

Yet another ebay find. I am queen of all that is cheap! I had no idea what to expect with these breeches because I've never seen them in person. I believe that they're the TR Extreme model with deerskin seat. I got them for 40 bucks just because I wanted a second pair of white show breeches that were full seat. I was so over my little cotton knee patches I'd had for about 7 years.

I actually like them a lot despite a couple problems. First problem was that the seller didn't tell me the zipper was completely busted. Not a big deal, because like I said I got them really cheap and it only took $15 to get them fixed. The deerskin is oh-so-lovely feeling. The fabric... is just meh. It's a little stiff and a little thick in my opinion. It is a "technical" schoeller fabric that is supposed to be wicking and stretchy. I didn't notice it being stiff or uncomfortable while wearing them at all.

Second problem is that the legs are bulky with the deerskin plus the velcro (hate velcro legs!) and my boots which have extra slender ankles... then add in the fact that my previously sprained ankle is still swollen... I had a tough time fitting them into my boots. I'm not sure what to do to alleviate this.

Once I got my boots on however, I loved riding in them. They are STICKY. In a good way. And comfortable. They have a much higher waist than I like, plus narrow belt loops, but when you're riding with a dressage coat on, that's a pretty minor issue.

I have washed them several times with no problems (same with the FITS breeches, using Leather Therapy wash) but the last time I washed them they came out with what looks like rust stains. I've never had a problem with this washing machine and they were washed with the FITS breeches which did not get any stains. Luckily they're in areas that will be covered by boots, but still. Interesting.

Overall, they don't quite score an A like the previous two breeches because I probably wouldn't pay full price for them. Though maybe someday, I'm intrigued by the extended patch breeches. They have too many of my personal dislikes (narrow waistband, velcro ankles, high waist) but I would say that if they're your style then you should go for it. They are very nice breeches.

Plus, I think they made my butt look good. Most breeches have a saggy butt on me (TMI I'm sure). I almost bought this picture, lol.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Two Down

Ugh, summertime colds are the worst. The cold plus allergies plus the heat is just a terrible combination.

So, where we left off.

I had a fun short little trail ride with some friends on Wednesday. It was a good workout for all horses involved, surprisingly Misty was the most fit of the three (scratch that, my friend's wiener dog was the most fit even with those short little legs!), though that didn't mean she wasn't huffing and puffing by the top of the hill. It was the first sunny day we've had since I finished my classes so it was the perfect day for a trail ride.

Two big bays and a little paint horse

Thursday I showed up to the barn and found Jetta with a big old puffy eye. Looks like she gave it a good scrape/whack on something. Poor baby. She looked so miserable with it all swollen. I still lunged her, but decided not to ride and just rode Misty. Luckily that worked out because the whole allergies/cold thing wasn't working out all that great for me in terms of breathing.

Poor baby. The swelling is all down by now, but it sure looked awful the first two days.

I didn't have as good a ride on Misty as I did on Monday. Once she warmed up and started taking contact things were good, but she was super sticky about her right lead canter transition, plus I was just asking for harder things in general, so it wasn't an amazing ride.

Trying to get her ready for first level. I thought we'd be ready for Misty to show at First level and Jetta to show at Second level by the time this July dressage show rolled around, but... It's in 23 days and that just feels awfully close to me. I don't want to have a bad ride at a show, so we may stick with Training, but I think she could be ready for it in time... Jetta on the other hand... We could do Second 1 with the counter canter serpentine which is rough or we could do Second 2 with travers which is also not 100%. Not sure if we're quite ready for that either.

Anyways, with Misty we did some 10 meter half circles. Interestingly while the left is her better direction in general, she has a harder time doing a 10 meter circle to the left, but no problem to the right. Hmmm... Lengthenings are still about 50/50 but I think they're fairly acceptable at this point. Leg yields... She does them well, but depending on the day, she wants you to think either that they're no big deal or that they're a huge deal and SO HARD. Poor, poor pony. Dressage is the worst. Everything else is looking pretty good though. I've definitely gotten harder on her about being in front of my leg. I don't ride with spurs at home only at shows, because I don't want her to get dull to them and usually she's fine, but even though she responds perfectly on cue when I ask for upward transitions, I've noticed that she's just the tiniest bit behind my leg and that gets amplified when we go to shows, so I've definitely cracked down on that.

Overall, it was a productive ride, just not the prettiest.

Misty appreciates the newly cleaned mirrors in the arena.
Today was going to be trail ride day, but my cold's gotten the better of me so it was just stall cleaning and letting the ponies romp around in the round pen (their favorite activity). Hopefully the fields at the barn will be hayed soon and they can get some actual turnout!

Monday, June 16, 2014

I love no classes. Ahhh, relaxation (kind of). I apologize for the sort of boring posts recently, but there's just nothing too interesting going on!

Today was a great day at the barn. Both monsters got worked, first Jetta on the lunge in side reins, then Misty under saddle. Jetta was a bit of a fireball but eventually settled down. At first all she wanted to do was run... and run... and run. Can't wait for a trail ride! I'm sure it will be a little bit trying at first but it will settle her down a lot for when we ride in the arena. Definitely planning on taking her out Thursday or Friday and hopefully hauling off to our favorite trails (which are much farther than the ones we've been going on) as a beginning-of-summer treat.

Besides being super fat, she looks so nice right now:

Sexy mare

I just have to say... that tail. It looks 100x better after being trimmed!

The fatness. I can't get over that belly. She looks prego.

Misty was AWESOME under saddle. I've always thought she wouldn't be ever able to truly accept contact just because of how she was started under saddle. We can maintain a featherlight connection, but not really achieve the true connection that you want to see in dressage. It was just a fact. But today... I actually had weight in my reins! It was a miracle. Misty will sometimes lay on your hands to test and see if she can get out of maintaining contact, but this was different. She actually felt like she was nicely reaching for the bit and it occurred throughout the majority of our ride. I hope this isn't a one-time-only sort of deal!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Summer Cleaning

I had a lovely, long afternoon at the barn just getting random things done, my own version of spring summer cleaning. I was planning on a trail ride, hauling to my favorite trails, but at the last minute decided that I was in a cleaning mood (very rare for me!) and after cleaning my room, car and truck I headed out to the barn to tackle the horses, my tack and the tack room.

I ended up getting the horse's bridle paths and whiskers trimmed, tails freshly banged and washed, back legs scrubbed, half of my tack cleaned and my tack box and drawers organized. Next up is the other half of my tack and getting the trailer cleaned and organized. Feels good to get everything looking nice and in order!

Misty all braided and trimmed
I also lunged both ponies and plan to ride next time. They've been getting lunged about every other day while I was cramming for finals the past two weeks so it's almost been that long since I've ridden. But I wanted to make sure that there are no rodeo moves for when I ride so it was one more lunge.

Misty was her adorable, playful self as usual. She just loves getting out on the lunge and is too cute to watch.

Jetta was less adorable. I don't happen to think her rears and spins are cute like Misty's. But she settled down and was good. She is looking SO FAT though right now. Like she could be pregnant fat, lol. She's not quite morbidly obese, but she's fairly close. She needs to back to consistent work so badly right now. I have her feed as low as I want it to go right now, so the next thing is probably as soon as she runs out of orchard grass hay she's going to get the barn's grass hay. Which is nasty straw looking stuff, but at least it won't contribute to her weight.

Her mohawk is coming along nicely!

Awful picture... but that hay belly. Geez.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WW: Done with Finals!

Finally got a grave marker boulder for Grady's grave. Emotional day.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The End is in Sight?

Well, it is yet again dead week here at school and finals week begins in a few short days so I haven't been able to ride much, so I thought I'd just talk about life stuff. Especially since I had to complete my conditioning assignment with Jetta, that definitely took away from riding time. I didn't quite get to the "fetch" part, but at least she was fairly consistent with picking up the cone and giving it to me. Kind of.

Misty is fine from her little fumble on the cross country course. Her scrapes are very shallow so they'll have no problem healing. Her left hind above the fetlock was a little puffy so I hosed and re-wrapped her back legs and they look pretty much back to normal now. She was never off at all on the lunge line. She she's just gotten a very long (and well-deserved!) break after our show last weekend.

In the meantime... I'm kind of graduating. I mentioned a while ago that I had applied for vet school and had two interviews. I didn't mention how they went. The first interview was at Washington State University. This ended up being my favorite. Everyone there was super nice and I loved how their program was run. I had a good interview (not quite great because I'm not the best at interviewing being rather shy and concise, but I thought it went quite well). The second interview was at Oregon State University.  I didn't have as great an experience with this interview. They did the MMI (multiple mini-interview) format which I just did not like. It just didn't mesh with me how the more general format does.  But honestly, I don't care where I go to school I just would love to get in somewhere.

Well, I didn't. I am actually on the wait list for Washington State, so there's still the tiniest chance I will still get in, but I'm not holding my breath. I won't even know for sure until August if I do by some miracle get in. So here I am, planning on taking a 5th year (well, additional term or two) at school which was not even close to being in "the plan". I'm still walking at commencement since I'm not going to stick around for next year's one. This isn't the end of the world. After all, it take on average three tries to get into vet school. But I can't help feeling like I failed and watching as other peers in my age group prepare to transition from undergrad to vet school.

I will finish out my Honors degree by completing my thesis, beginning this summer. I've started preparing my project (my experimental design has a rough draft and my proposal is waiting to be signed and submitted) which I am REALLY excited about. I'm doing a project on dog reproduction and while it sounds like it's going to be really intense and a lot of work I am just so completely excited about it I can't wait to get started.

This time next Thursday I'll finally be done for the term and I plan on rewarding myself with a nice long trail ride on Jetta. We both definitely need one! Sorry for the non-horse related post, but I just wanted to share!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Inavale One-Day Horse Trial

I had SO MUCH FUN today. I'm still so in love with this horse and I really wish I didn't have to sell her :/

In true worst-prepared-horse-show-person ever I didn't get to ride or bathe or load or clean any of my tack the day before the show. I had the best intentions, but ended up in urgent care to get an inhaler to deal with my asthma that has returned after almost 10 years of being gone... Needing to breathe is definitely high on my list of priorities though.

Got to the barn at 9am and quickly hooked up the trailer, lunged Misty and gave her a quick bath. Shoved everything I needed in the trailer and loaded up. Got to the show at 10:20 and my ride was at 11:10. I was completely calm and collected while checking in until a friend commented "You sure are calm for having only 30 minutes to tack up and warm up. You're not even dressed!" Thank you for that, cue panic attack. Misty got braided, tacked and I got dressed and memorized my test in time for a 15 minute warm up. Not ideal, but we could work with it. Only to find that they were running 20 minutes behind. Perfect! We really needed that extra warm up time. Misty was great in dealing with the craziness, but she was really not wanting to bend right or take consistent contact.

The test went ok, not great. I don't think Misty was too sure about the grass footing and it was rather uneven so we didn't maintain that great of a tempo and she was really behind my leg the whole time. I felt the judging was accurate but wish the judge gave a little more comments, though I can't blame them for not because that takes too much time when you're running behind! Mostly 7's, a few 8's and 6's. Comments mostly consisted of "inconsistent tempo" or "inconsistent contact". It landed us a fairly respectable 31.5 and 4th place.

Of course, it wouldn't be a horse show without something unexpected. The seam in my breeches, right at the crotch, split open just before I went in to ride my test. Lovely. I would love to share my brightly colored underwear with the world. Luckily there were lots of pony club moms around so I asked one if she had a needle and thread. She did! PM (who also took all the amazing photos of us) stitched it right up for me, since of course I did not have a spare pair of breeches to wear.

Additionally, I was "that person" again. Misty decided to untie herself and go for a little stroll when I went up to see the cross country course. Sigh. I really need to hurry up and buy a single cross tie so that I can snap her in and she can't untie herself. 

Stadium was what I was most worried about since we've never jumped these bright decorative jumps. Make that, "we've only ever jumped a grand total of 6 times before this show". I needn't have worried though. It wasn't pretty (my stadium round at a horse trial never is... I can do a respectable and well put together hunter or jumper round, but for some reason the stadium round at a horse trial just gets me all frazzled) but Misty didn't refuse anything or pull any rails. She definitely sucked back and asked a few times, "Are you absolutely sure we need to jump this?" But she was great and I couldn't have been happier. Need to work on straightness for sure (well, plus I need to actually ride well), but all she really needs is just some more miles over fences!

After stadium I was super excited for cross country. We'd jumped everything that was on the course before and it was a nice, easy-to-remember course, nothing too scary. The only jump I was nervous for was the very last blue barn. Anyways, she was fantastic and I was smiling the whole time. She never even tried to refuse anything and the only issue we had was sucking back at the combination and the baby trakehner (they added some brush underneath it so that was "new") and the blue barn was a little scary, but you can see that in the pictures.

It was great, there was a single turkey on course just before we left the box. It popped out of the trees as we went along the back fence and Misty stared intensely at it when it ran right in front of us then flew away. She was a rock star though! I know Jetta probably would have done a spook/blot/spin at that moment, but Misty just kept trucking on to jump the roll top!

Trolls live under this jump!

Oww. Poor pony

The blue barn jump... My fault on that one. I was nervous about it so of course I didn't ride it very well. A) I stared at it. Always helpful when convincing your horse that trolls do not in fact live beneath it. B) I crunched up instead of sitting up tall. Also not helpful. C) Kind of combined with B, but she was just too strung out, I was just intent on setting a nice forward pace to the jump, but I should have sat up and collected her a tad and got her more uphill and bouncy. She got way too close to the jump and didn't have enough room to bring her back feet up over the jump so she just kind of dragged them over. Poor pony. She had three little shallow scrapes along her hind legs and I'm sure she's going to be sore. She trotted sound, but she's going to get at least a couple days off.

The result? Second place out of 12! How fantastic is that? I am so proud of my little roany paint pony :)