Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Okay, so. I'll post the FB links here& hopefully they work because I can't get them to embed anywhere else :(

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New Wordpress site!

Because I've been TERRIBLE at keeping Sarah's blog updated, she started her own! I got too busy but her stories are just as fabulous at her new blog as they were here! Go check her out :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

SSG 10 Below Glove Review

As part of my Christmas gift from my lovely trainer and boss, I got a pair of SSG’s 10 Below gloves. After two months of use, I feel that I can now write a review on them. I did not realize until yesterday that they are marketed as riding gloves and not work AND riding gloves. Which greatly changes my perspective on them.

Here is the information given on them from SSG’s website (
“Due to the success of our summer weight SSG® Digital glove with the best grip and durability of any riding glove, we engineered this 10 Below™ Equestrian glove with the digital palm. In addition the glove features a spandura back, a waterproof membrane, thinsulate lining and inside that our exclusive polar fleece. As good as it gets in a winter riding glove. 4 Layers of warmth!”

The design of the gloves is absolutely ideal. First off, they fit me! I had been searching high and low for small, insulated work gloves and could not find ones in my size. There’s nothing worse than a glove that fall off of your hand or that had extra long fingertips that get caught in everything. They are slightly grippy. They have a knit wrist meaning that bits of hay and straw do not get into the glove, which I love! They are insulated nicely, not too thinly, but not too thick as to make them awkwardly bulky. Another thing that I love is that they are waterproof! No more wet and cold hands after breaking ice off from water troughs or draining hoses. While riding, my hands stayed warm for a majority of the time. I still had frozen fingers on those really cold days and haven’t found a glove that keeps my fingers warm 100% of the time. Just stick a hand warmer in each on and they’re good for putting out round hay bale on the tractor and doing chores in frigid temps or a blizzard.

I used these gloves not only for riding. I had them on my hands ten hours a day, six days a week. I opened gates, carried buckets, lunged horses, tacked up, carried straw and hay bales, ice chipped, mucked stalls, fought with hoses, fixed fence, did snaps and adjusted buckles. If I had used them solely for riding, I doubt they would have fallen apart at the one and a half month mark.

It started off with some wear spots on the fingers. Then the stitching on the extra patch of layer on the index fingers came loose. That started catching in everything from girth buckles to gate snaps. I finally just ripped it off. Then the thumbs area started developing a hole. At first it was just the top layer, then the waterproof membrane ripped as well and pretty soon all four layers were shot.

As warm winter riding gloves, these are great! I highly recommend them for riding in weather below thirty degrees. I still think your hands would be cold in ten below weather, but I did not get the chance to test that out, thankfully.

I hope that SSG will make a more durable pair of gloves just like these, waterproof and with the knit wrists for working around the barn. They would be worth the money and I would purchase them in a heartbeat. If you’re looking for a pair of gloves to double for both work and riding, I would pass on these as they will not last you even one season. They are sold as riding gloves for a reason. Even so, they have the best pair of winter gloves I have owned.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


When showing dressage, you start off with a pretty simple set up, bridle-wise. It’s a headstall, a noseband, and a snaffle bit. Once you are ready to perform at 3rd Level, you are suddenly presented with a choice. If you so wish, you are permitted to use a double bridle. Although it is not mandatory under USDF rules, it is widely accepted that once you hit the “upper levels” (A vague term that in this day and age ranges from 3rd Level through Grand Prix, but for future reference when I say “upper level” I literally mean the FEI levels of Prix St. George through Grand Prix.) you will ride with a double bridle. However, if you plan on showing internationally, at CDI events, a double bridle and spurs are compulsory.

Of course, with me having a tiny rebellious streak, I would LOVE to show at the Grand Prix Level in just a snaffle, win the class, and have an appreciative audience. Just to be different. (That same part of me wants to show in a bareback dressage class. Wouldn’t that be fun?!) To my knowledge, I’ve never seen that. I’ve seen people ride all the movements in just a snaffle and even bitless, but it’s another thing to do that in competition and score well. A student of my current trainer showed Prix St. George very successfully last year with her horse wearing a snaffle bridle. Their cool meter is pretty high. 

Back to my explanation of “the double” as we fondly refer to it. Although I wouldn’t use the word “fond” in my case, but we’ll touch on that in a paragraph or so. The double bridle has a snaffle with smaller rings, called a bridoon, and a curb bit. Because it has two bits, you then have two reins. We could go on about the whys and hows, but that’s the point I need to make here. The point is, the double bridle works differently from your normal bridle. You do not have as much side to side suppling because you now have a curb which works with leverage. You can be much more subtle with your aids.

With that difference in mind, here’s what happens to me when I ride a horse with a double bridle. I sit there on their back and feel like my arms are not my own. I do what I normally would do with a normal snaffle bridle, but without the same effect. I try to do more in an effort to get any sort of positive response from the horse, or I stop doing anything at all. My arms become like dead limbs, simply grasping the reins with my failing hope. The double bridle paralyzes me. It makes me feel like I cannot ride. Because of who I am, when I feel like I cannot ride, I then feel entirely useless to the world. It is an unpleasant cycle.

Rocket& his snaffle, Sarah& Renee rocking the double bridle!

What do I do to make myself more comfortable with the double? I posed this question to myself and the answer I came up with is: Use the double bridle more! Ride in it every chance you get to with instruction. Learn to use it properly. I’ve only been testing this answer out for a week or so. I can’t say that I’ve had any real breakthrough yet, but I won’t give up hope just yet. I want to become proficient and at ease when using the double bridle. I want this, so I’m going to work at it. I will not remain paralyzed.

Is there something in riding that paralyzes you now or used to paralyze you? Also, I’m curious to know if that word is looking weirder to you now.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Heart to heart!

When I was sixteen, I was working at the barn a few afternoons each week in exchange for riding privileges and a weekly riding lesson. I rode a good variety of horses and one day I was told that I could ride one that I hadn’t ridden before. She was a cute little chestnut mare called Miss Take (Tah-Kay). She had been at the barn for a few years already, but not everyone could ride her. I was excited that my BO/trainer thought I was good enough to sit on her. I tacked Miss Take up and we went out to the infield of the racetrack. I found a fairly flat area without many rocks and rode her around. The next time I had a lesson, I rode Miss Take. I remember that I couldn’t steer her in a straight line or turn her when I wanted to. I had gotten used to riding the other horses. But she wasn’t like them. We could only canter on a large circle about forty meters in diameter. If I tried to go straight, she fell out of the canter. We never got the right lead canter on the first try. I was pleased if we got it on the third try. And she spooked at everything!

By this time in my life, I had loved and lost my favorite horses. I had surrendered myself to the fact that I would not be a horse owner until I was “grown-up” financially stable on my own. I knew that would take a number of years. I figured I’d be in my mid-twenties by the time I would finally be able to purchase my own horse. I didn’t like that idea, but I lived with it. Miss Take quickly became my favorite horse to ride and was the horse that I rode most often. I told myself time and time again to not let myself bond with her. I didn’t want the heartbreak I knew I’d feel once she left, too. So I kept my distance the best I could. Which would have been fine and dandy had that worked. It didn’t. I was falling head over heels for that mare.

A year later, when I was seventeen, my BO pulled me aside after a rewarding lesson on Miss Take. She regretfully informed me that she was going to be putting Miss Take up for sale. The economy was down and feed was up. Miss Take was only being ridden by me and one other woman. Both of us worked at the barn in exchange for lessons. Miss Take was not earning her keep. “But…” my BO said. She wanted me to buy Miss Take and she would offer her to me for much less than her market value. The other woman had already said that she couldn’t afford Miss Take at this time. I was Miss Take’s last chance at staying at the barn. I went home that afternoon and spoke to my parents. I sat on their bed and explained the situation to them and I did something that I never ever do. I cried. I didn’t have enough money to buy her. I had half. My parents said that they would match my half. I said that I would work off most of the board and pay for vet bills with my own money.

I thought about all that Miss Take had experienced in her life. I thought about the many hands and barns she had passed through, always being a mistake for them. I didn’t want that to happen to her anymore. She had done so much for me and my riding confidence that I felt she didn’t deserve that. I wanted to tell her that it would all be okay and that she would be able to life out the rest of her life in security. I couldn’t stand being there when my mom went to the barn with me a couple days later and sat down for a talk with my BO. I scurried around the barn, holding back tears as I busied myself with chores. I caught a few words and partial sentences here and there. They called me over to the dusty picnic table and told me that they had reached an agreement. The next day I was signing a paper that stated that I was a horse owner. At age seventeen I had my first horse! I felt like I was dreaming the best dream of my life. The funny thing was that she was almost the exact opposite of the horse I had prayed for every single night when I was younger. I wanted a dark bay gelding, some sort of Morgan/QH/TB/Arabian/best of all breeds about eight years old. Instead I got a chestnut mare that was in her late teens and to top it all off, she had a pink nose! That was something I generally didn’t like.

It took a while for us to bond. I think we were both so used to going from human to human and horse to horse that we had a hard time opening up again. After six months, people at the barn began to comment on how Miss Take seemed to have “blossomed” now that she was a one-person horse. My horse. I entered her in the next dressage show and wrote down her new show name without hesitation. Accidentally In Love. It described out relationship perfectly. Oh and there’s also this:

I had been riding Miss Take for a few months when a girl around eight or nine years old pointed to the spot on her belly and said that it was in the shape of an upside down heart. Until that moment, I hadn’t noticed the shape of her spot at all. What with the heart, the meaning behind her barn name, and our accidental road to becoming horse and owner, I thought the show name was fitting.

As I turned Miss Take out into the pasture she lived in with the herd, I watched her walk over to the water trough and drink her fill. I swung her halter and lead rope over my shoulder. She let a few droplets of water dribble down her chin and pointed an ear towards me. “You’re going to be my forever horse,” I told her. “You won’t ever have to bounce from home to home again. You deserve it because of what you have been for me. I’m going to take care of you until the very end. I promise. And I always keep my promises.”

Since I celebrate February 14th as Miss Take’s birthday, I thought a post about how we ended up together would be perfect. Miss T will be either eighteen or nineteen this time around, according to our guesstimation, As another fun fact, the woman who used to ride Miss Take, but couldn’t afford to buy her is now one of the lovely ladies who is leasing Miss Take while I am away doing this internship! I love seeing how things like that fall into place. Speaking of which, Miss Take is the first horse that her two leasees have shown. Last Saturday they had much success and brought home many blue ribbons and great scores. Oh and remember how I said that I didn’t used to be able to steer Miss Take? By the time that I had to leave for this internship, Miss Take and I were schooling 2nd Level movements and had debuted at that level at a horse show! I could gush on and on and brag all night long, but I won’t because I know I am extremely biased. I don’t claim that Miss Take is the best horse in the world, but she is the best horse in the world for me.

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