pony stuff for mf’in adults

There are some pony stuff purchases that I feel are much more “adult” than others.  Rainbow neck strap?  Definitely not adult.  Pink plaid polos?  Not very adult.  Lunge line, side reins, and lunge whip?  Somewhat more adult.  Leather hole punch?  Very adult.

Leather hole punches abound, but most of the ones I’ve ever laid my hands on are garbage.  You know the standard, all-metal ones that are typically completely rusted out from being used one time in 1948 and left out in the barn aisle ever since?  Nobody is surprised that those don’t work.

I was spoiled early on by having access to a couple of the black, expensive Miracle Hole Punches (not their actual name or brand).  I’m honestly not even sure what the brand was, but both my trainer and another Adult Human friend who owned them were like “yeah, this was not cheap, but it’s the best leather hole punch known to man”.  And they were right.  Those fancy, heavy duty hole punches went through triple-stitched leather like butter.

And then, like almost all barn tools that multiple people lay their hands on, they disappeared.  Maybe trainer just hid them better, maybe they got lost — hell, maybe aliens will find them totally rusted out in the middle of the barn aisle in 2052.  Who knows.  The point remains that I lost my access to a valuable and quality tool.  Fortunately, I didn’t need them anyway.

Until last week.  My stirrup leathers were too long and I’d run out of holes to put them up. (Yes, I know my leathers are overall too long, I  bought them on sale and picked the wrong size by mistake. No takebacks.)  No rusted out hole punch would do the job.  I looked through my trainer’s trunk twice and couldn’t find the punch.  I wrapped my stirrups for a week, but in the end decided it was time for me to make this acutely Adult purchase, and get my own leather hole punch.  So I went on The Amazon and read a bunch of reviews for hole punches, looking to find the quality hole punch.  I was totally willing to spend $70 or $80 on something that would last forever and punch holes easily.  Lucky me, I found what I needed for a mere $15.

The WoneNice Leather Hole punch (pictured above) is easy to use, and does a fantastic job.  The dial to change the hole size is easy to turn, but clicks firmly in to place when you have it in the right position.  The punch is large and a touch ungainly (I seem to recall the Miracle Punch being a bit smaller than this, and therefore easier for someone with little hands like mine to handle), but certainly not so large that it makes them impossible to use.  On a scale of one to tacking up Murray, I’d score the challenge of using this hole punch around a 2.  Plus, not everyone has hands as tiny as mine.

For all 4 holes punched, this product is 10/10 would absolutely purchase again.  But I hope never to need another, since my passive aggressive note and initials all over my new punch should deter accidental loss.  Plus, they have a two year warranty!  (Interestingly, this exact same punch appears to be available under different names and at different price points on Amazon, with varying reviews.)

So if it’s time for you to make a mf’in adult purchase and pick yourself up a quality leather hole punch, this one comes highly recommended.

 

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Rider Review: Professionals Choice Fly Sheet

When I started leasing Murray I was determined not to be the type of person who keeps her horse rugged up from head to toe in the Summer.  I mean, it’s Summer! It’s beautiful!  I know it’s hot and it’s California but sunshine! Shade! Cool breeze!  I’m not vain, I don’t care about sun bleaching (and my horse is turned out at night anyway and I always curry the sweat off!!)!

Murray, of course, was determined to prove me wrong by promptly getting hives from fly bites and looking cranky about it.  So I went on Tack Trader on Facebook and saw a screaming deal for a fly sheet ($35 shipped) and bought it.  I shoulda known better.

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The one and only time Murray wore his new fly sheet he got all four feet tangled within five minutes.

So I went in search of a new fly sheet.  Given Murray’s clear ability as a destructomaton, I knew I would need something a little more hardy than the soft-and-silky variety, and I wanted a good fit that would help avoid such debacles.  My local tack store (Tack Warehouse) was kind enough to let me take a couple home and try them on.  Enter the Professional’s Choice fly sheet.

Professionals Choice - Professional's Choice Fly Sheet

MSRP: $120 + tax
What I paid: ~$110

I walked into Tack Warehouse with very specific requirements, and made a nuisance of myself touching every sheet they had until I found what I wanted (Brenda and Holly are so understanding!).  After going through several sheets with the staff, I found the Professional’s Choice one which had me intrigued.  The fabric is lightweight but sturdy and breathable.  I ran around the store in it — it wasn’t shabby.  It’s made of a very pale blue-and-black nylon mesh with gusseted shoulders, two belly surcingles, and leg wraps.  The front closures are buckles and snaps, which I greatly appreciate (adjustability and ease of use?! Yes please!) and there is a little fleece patch along the wither.

Not only do I love the construction, I love the color and weight of the fabric.  While I pretend I don’t care about sun bleaching, I kinda do, and Professional’s Choice includes UV protection in the fabric!  This is awesome even when your pony doesn’t have sweat stains.  Plus, dark horses absorb more heat and therefore get hotter — a light sheet is important to me to help Murray regulate his temperature.  Also, I didn’t realise this until I read the product description just now, but the fabric is also designed to be wrinkle and stain resistant, which I can also say is true.  Despite Murray’s penchant for lying in pee at shows, the sheet is pretty clean.

2014-07-12 10.05.32Dressage is tiring, guys!!

Fit-wise, my only concern was the way the sheet sits back on Murray’s wither and shoulder.  It looked like it might better fit a horse with a slightly wider front end, but despite my concerns Murray didn’t get any rubs from the sheet.  So I wouldn’t be concerned if your horse does have a slightly wider front end, as this is bound to fit fairly well.  I did end up sizing down to a 76″ sheet (Murray is between a 76″ and 78″) and I think it fits really well, so that’s an option for narrower horses.

I also know this fly sheet works, because Murray has always gotten some fly or mosquito or whatever bites when we’ve stayed overnight at Camelot Equestrian Park.  I’m not exactly sure what it is, but they don’t seem to bug him toooo much.  Anyway, when he wore his sheet overnight there was a clear delineation where the bites ended — on his neck, but not onto his shoulder, which the sheet was covering.

I did pay a little more than I originally wanted to for this sheet, because it really did seem like the best option available to me, and I like to torture myself by thinking about how many uses anything I buy gets and how much its “cost per use” is.  Though I did only use this sheet about 45 times last Summer (coming in at a little more than $2.40 per use), I don’t regret spending the money on it, and would (and have!) recommended it to others!  The sheet is pristine this year (after Murray wore it in turn out repeatedly and didn’t destroy it like that other one!) and I anticipate getting a good deal of use out of it this year as well.  I’ll tell you how much I amortized it down to after another Summer’s worth of use!

Overall Rating

Price: 3/5                   (I’m a cheap bitch, what can I say)
Fit:
 4/5                       (I may harbor some lingering concerns about the shoulder)
Breathe-ability: 5/5  (better than many sillkier shieets!)
Durability: 4/5          (so far!)
Efficacy: 5/5              (it keeps the flies off his skin, not sure what else I could want)

breeches: the ultimate fit guide

As per the $900 Facebook Pony started and then suggested, I’m contributing to her series of breeches: the ultimate fit guide!  With any luck, we’ll be able to make a useful series for equestrians of all shapes and sizes to be able to find and fit the best breeches for them!

The Ultimate Fit Guide, Elsewhere

The $900 Facebook Pony – Tailored Sportsman, Kerrits Sit Tight Supreme, Annie’s Equestrienne, Aztec Diamond, Animo
Bay With Chrome – GhoDo Pamelas

This was a very interesting experiment. First, I found out I have way more breeches/tights than I thought I do.  But almost none of them are the same brand, excepting two pairs of Kerrits and two different models of Equine Couture, one of which has now been discontinued (sad face).

Now, let me preface this by stating that I have a  strange body for a short girl.  I’m 5’1″ and 3’6″ of that is my legs. Observe (also, my bad posture):

size

Because of this, all breeches are a little higher rise on me than they would be on a more normally-proportioned human being, because there’s just not much space between my pelvis and my bellybutton.  I’m also seriously lacking in the junk trunk department and, evidently, have kindof a weird posture when posing for pictures from the side.  Without further ado, though, BREECHES!

horze

1 pair Ladies Bella Full Seat Breeches, dove, size 28.  This particular model is apparently made of bamboo and is EcoFriendly and no longer exists on their website, but there are Bella knee patch breeches that I imagine fit similarly.

IMG_9238 IMG_9239

43% Nylon, 26% cotton, 24% bamboo, 7% elastic (I think, faded label)

Measurements
waist: 14″ 1/2
hips: 18″
rise: 5″ 1/2
inseam to bottom: 28″

Features
sock bottoms
four pockets: two front (zippered), two back
belt loops size 1 1/2″
front zip, double hook closure

Stain resistant (on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being least resistant and 5 being most resistant): 2 (stain fairly easily but also wash out well)
Do they stretch out with wear? Yes, but they return to their shape after washing.
Are they stiff or soft out of the wash? Stiff-ish, but soften within one wear.
Do they dry quickly? Fairly, they do so overnight.
Are they thick or thin? Medium thickness. I wear them most in Winter.
# of wears, approx: Probably close to 100
Is there any fading? Not noticeably
Is there any pilling? Yes, between the thighs on the full seat suede
How well do they hide thigh cheese? Probably just fine
Any fit issues: These have always been really comfy to me, but they have stretched and sagged a bit over time.

goode rider

1 pair Pro Rider Full Seats, white ribbed breeches, size 28R.

IMG_9240IMG_9241

56% cotton, 38% polyester, 6% spandex

Measurements
waist: 15″
hips: 19″
rise: 7″ 1/2
inseam to bottom: 27″

Features
velcro bottoms
wide belt loops
single front zip pocket
front zip with double hook closure

Stain resistant (on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being least resistant and 5 being most resistant): 1. I wash them after every wear (do wash well)
Do they stretch out with wear? Yes, terribly.
Are they stiff or soft out of the wash? Fairly soft.
Do they dry quickly? Yes, overnight,
Are they thick or thin? Thinner side.
# of wears, approx: 5-10 tops (shows only)
Is there any fading? No
Is there any pilling? No
How well do they hide thigh cheese? I imagine just fine.
Any fit issues: These breeches fit on the large side of a 28.  When I was about 15 lbs heavier they fit me perfectly as my show breeches, but definitely didn’t look good for a second ride.  They wash very well with oxyclean and there is minimal boot staining.  Always need a belt.

(Incidentally, these breeches are for sale for $25 shipped in case anybody wants them. They were a good and faithful pair of show breeches for hot California summers! Just too big now.)

equine couture

One pair of Regatta Knee Patch breeches (size 28, pictured), in beige, one pair of Baker Soft Shell breeches (size 26), in steely gray, which are now sadly discontinued.

IMG_9244IMG_9245

66% cotton, 26% nylon, 8% lycra

Measurements
waist: 14″ 3/4
hips: 16″ 1/2
rise: 7″
inseam to bottom: 27″

Features
sock bottom
front pockets
wide belt loops
Regatta breech features a blue and red belt loop at back, Baker breech features a Baker plaid waistband

Stain resistant (on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being least resistant and 5 being most resistant): 1, but wash really well.
Do they stretch out with wear? Not much.
Are they stiff or soft out of the wash? Fairly soft.
Do they dry quickly? Yes, very.
Are they thick or thin? Thin.
# of wears, approx: 20-25 (mostly shows, some schooling)
Is there any fading? No
Is there any pilling? No
How well do they hide thigh cheese? Probably not the greatest, quite thin.
Any fit issues: These are my favourite breeches, but I almost always wear the Regattas with a belt (the soft shells don’t need one becuase they’re so freaking tight they squeeze themselves onto me — that’s what I get for buying a size too small).  However, if you don’t wear a belt with them (and sometimes even when you do), you will find that you need to pull them up a fair bit.  My friends who have the white fullseat version of these are constantly pulling them up and annoyed about it, but I personally don’t find that to be a problem.

Kerrits

2 pairs Kerrits flow rise tights size small.

IMG_9247 IMG_9246

91% micropoly, 9% spandex

Measurements
waist: 13″
hips: stretchy
rise: 7″
inseam to bottom: 26″

Features
basically none — very basic

Stain resistant (on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being least resistant and 5 being most resistant): 4 — they’re black.
Do they stretch out with wear? Hardly.
Are they stiff or soft out of the wash? Soft.
Do they dry quickly? Yes, very.
Are they thick or thin? Thin.
# of wears, approx: 100+ each.
Is there any fading? No
Is there any pilling? Yes — mild pilling on thighs of both pairs.
How well do they hide thigh cheese? Guessing no.
Any fit issues: I included these schooling tights because they’re my bread and butter in the summer.  I’ve worn each pair probably over a hundred times — 4 days/week riding in 2012, and 5 days/week riding in 2013-14 and they are seriously holding up.  Literally the only downside is that I sometimes leave a sweaty ass print on my dressage saddle.

tack warehouse sale (or: I did a bad thing) & lesson recap

Last week I texted my barn manager “Hey, want to meet at Tack Warehouse on Friday at nine?”

“Maybe. Why?” she responded.

Because they are having a huge sale!!”


If you’re in Northern California, you really should check out this sale!

Tack warehouse is a local tack store that I loove.  It’s located in Woodland, just 15 minutes from my barn, and while they don’t carry absolutely everything, they do an amazing job of helping you get what you need.  Last year, they consulted my trainer to help them increase their selection of eventer-oriented products, and if they don’t have what you want they are more than happy to order it for you!  The owner and staff are all friendly and helpful, and they keep both English and Western tack, with staff who know the products to help you get what you want!  Tack Warehouse is also really supportive of local events, providing goodie-bags and prizes for local venues.  And I LOVE having a place I can just drop in and pick up what I need instead of having to order it online.

So of course, I walked in on Friday looking for a pair of tall boot laces (blew out mine on my right boot and have been riding around with it slowly flopping open) and some new polo wraps.  And I walked out with this.

helmet1

 

Ooops. Critical mistake.  But it’s so pretty!

I have needed wanted a dressage/stadium helmet for a while. My skullcap I love, but it really isn’t the look I want in dressage. And I struggle, somehow, to get my hair into it. And it’s just not really the look I want in dressage.  And it always looks a little bit dirty, because of the pebbly exterior (even with a cover on).  And it’s really just not the look I want in dressage.

When Barn Manager and I got to Tack Warehouse I (stupidly) started stuffing my head into various helmets with my hair up, to see what I look like in them and which ones fit.  I like the One-K helmets a lot, and I seriously like those bling helmets, but I’m not good enough at dressage to pull them off yet, and they don’t quite sit on my head right.  Then I went to the COs, and did a huuuuuge double take at the price of the JR8 vs GR8.  The GR8 is a solid $350, and the JR8 was $170. Umm, what?

helmet2

A quick exploration on my phone showed that they have the exact same safety standards (see here the GR8 and the JR8), and the look, feel, and fit of them were very similar when I put them on.  (I suspect the JR8 is just a juniors version, and because juniors’ heads grow faster than adults, they price them cheaper to get people hooked on the brand, so you’ll buy the nice one later. Much like the Point-Two childrens’ air vest. Well, suckers, I fit kids sizes as an adult so will never pay your full prices!!!)  I did my best to stuff my hair in them, and stared at myself in the mirror and was surprised when I actually really liked the look.  The only thing I worried about was that, with my hair inside, the helmet was slip-n-sliding all around my head because my hair is so slippery. #AsianRiderProblems

One of the staff helped me out by busting out this neat Real Women Ride hairnet, which I found shockingly comfortable and effective.  The hairnet has a headband-like strip of strong elastic at the base, and then comes up like a stocking tube which holds your hair up. No more fighting with my slippery hair just to get it INSIDE the stupid hairnet, with this baby you pull it down over your neck like a headband, then push it back up to trap all your hair inside.  If you do this poorly, you may look like a 1990’s home invader, but no matter!  My hair was trapped inside the hair net and there it stayed, AND it helped stabilize the helmet on my head and stop it from wiggling around.

So there you have it.  I went in for boot laces and walked out with a new helmet (at 20% off!), a hair net, and was pretty happy about it.

(Soon, I’ll figure out how to DIY class up that nylon harness too!)

1-15Jump lesson this week was very good.  We have a pretty technical course set up in the indoor right now, lots of rollbacks, and Murray was very honest through it.  Our step was a little off, as he was just a touch behind my leg, and I ask him to hold instead of pushing him forward.  We ended up getting deep spots to a lot of jumps, but they all worked out fine despite it.  Thank goodness for honest ponies and a solid base of support — a few months ago, I’d have been letting my lower leg slide back and probably have been pitched over a few of those fences.

We started with the navy fence, bending to a big blue/brown X in 5-6 strides (we consistently got 6).  Rollback around to the green-red one stride, then around to the navy again, which was straight.  A nice open turn to the brown skinny, which has an old Christmas tree under it, bending to the green/yellow oxer.  After the oxer, another rollback to the one stride the opposite direction (red to green), then three or four strides to the blue fence.

Murray backed off to the Christmas tree the first time he saw it, but listened to me when I said that we were really doing it, so that was good to feel.  He did get a little on the forehand/pully around the rollbacks, but if I lifted my inside hand to half-halt and re-acquire a quality canter I could get him listening again before the next fence.  I rode all the fences before the rollbacks really straight, as once Murray learns a course he’ll land and happily throw himself around a corner, which really isn’t what I want.

There’s just two weeks until our first show this year!! I’m super excited. And I’ll get to wear my new helmet!