Product Review: Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Cinch

Recently while cinching Jim up in his western saddle, I looked at him and wondered if there was a better cinch for him than just the straight cinch. After speaking with my trainer, we came across the Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief cinch. Available in synthetic or leather and then a felt, neoprene or fleece liner, I chose a black leather cinch with white fleece for Jim. Then I eagerly awaited the mail.

 

The cinch arrived in good time and unboxing it, I was surprised with a hat that had come along with it! Pretty cool plus! The fleece is very soft and the leather is supply and smells great. It has a roller buckle on one end and comes with a good diagram of how to use it.

 

I rode Jim in it the next day and he loved it! After walking him around a bit, it fell right in place. He definitely enjoys having the fleece on his skin instead of neoprene rubbing. It also looks sharp. I absolutely love the shape of this cinch and Jim enjoys it too! He rode very nicely in it and it frees up his elbows and shoulder very well.

The only downside is a small negative to the fleece. I rode in an 85 degree + day in the northeast. It was very humid and Jim had sweat a lot. After riding, I made sure to rest the cinch upside down off from the saddle to dry out the fleece since it did get quite wet. However, Total Saddle Fit does sell replacement liners so if I ever want to switch out the fleece, I can without losing the cinch! That is a nice feature I’m sure I’ll use sometime in the future.

Total Saddle Fit has these cinches for western, dressage and English saddles. The two English versions are even sold at Dover Saddlery. It was a bit expensive ($130 without the fleece, $169 with the fleece), but the quality is there and I’ve already recommended it to a number of friends! I can’t wait to log some more miles in this cinch.

(Disclaimer: I purchased this cinch with my own funds.)

Not all supplements are created equal

Jim eats better than I do. He has a personal nutritionist. He has all of his meals carefully planned. He gets an ideal amount of everything he needs to be the successful athlete he is. While I sit and just try to make a healthy recipe out of a book, he is getting the most perfect feed for his type, weight and exercise. What we feed our horses matters. They are athletes and they need the dietary support to perform how we want them to.

It’s sometimes easy as a horse owner to sit back and let others make decisions for you. Your horse may be fairly easy to feed. He or she may get fat on air. But when it comes to becoming an educated owner who likes to learn and be involved, it’s important to dive right in and understand WHY your horse is fed what he is.

I’m very fortunate to have a trainer who doubles as a nutritionist for the farm. She has spent a lot of time with me sitting down and discussing supplements and how best to tailor Jim’s diet to his workload and condition.

My favorite example is when it came to picking a new hoof supplement. Before I had Jim on the DAC Bloom and Oil for his coat and hooves. The products are fabulous together. However Jim started gaining fat pockets. He had tipped the side of the scale from muscle and healthy weight to getting fat and we wanted to nip it in the bud.

But not all hoof supplements are created equal and this is where equine nutrition and a knowledge in it become important.

For example, every supplement varies in the vitamins and amount of vitamins. They have to, otherwise they would all be the same product. Some have different fillers. Some are one ingredient. Some deliver vitamins by way of fat.

Hoof supplements are a perfect example of variation. They vary anywhere from 10mg of biotin in a 1oz scoop to 50mg or more. Some include copper, zinc and methionine while others are strictly biotin. It’s important as you begin to travel through the pages upon pages of supplements to have a trusted guide at your side. What sounds like Greek to you will be easily understood by someone with more experience.

But learn. Pay attention to why a supplement is better than another supplement for your horse. For Jim, he couldn’t have anything with a high fat content or something that delivered the biotin via fat. That was the reason he could not be on the Bloom anymore. But the methionine helps a horse’s body process biotin so it’s a good thing to have in a supplement.

We went through dozens. It took over an hour going through supplements to decide on one to try. And yes, I said try because at the end of the day, we may not be happy with it. Your horse’s diet – yours as well – is fluid. It always has to be assessed and tailored.

At some point, sit down with your trainer or someone – not a feed store rep – to analyze what you feed. Determine what holes exist in the feeding program and ask questions. Be more involved. At the end of the day, your horse will thank you.

Review: @equine.rampaige on Instagram

Recently @equine.rampaige on Instagram drew Jim and I. It was after our last Western Dressage show and I really wanted a drawing that showcased his beauty. She surpassed any expectation I had! Along with shedding a few pounds from me (Thank you!!), she captured Jim perfectly. I didn’t have to give her much direction either, she just knew. All of the comments on her Instagram were about being so happy a western dressage rider had been drawn! I’ll be finding a special spot for this on the blog soon!

 

With spring comes flies, prepare now

Spring has come to New England and with it, we prepare for the biggest battle we equestrians face: flies.

Just last week, I spotted my first bee of 2019. Gnats are beginning to beat their wings. My husband is finding baby spiders in his car. We must be ready.

Last week, I purchased my first few bottles of fly spray for Jim. Tucking one in my tack trunk, I hung the other on his stall for easy use and for turnout. (I have a great bottle holder that hangs on my blanket bar that comes in handy!) My barn owner looked at me as if I was crazy; being so prepared. But the fact of the matter is, it’s not a bad thing to be prepared for.

Some horses are very sensitive to bug bites. Although not overly reactive, Jim can be prone to hives from some bites and he is not a fan of bugs in his face or ears while riding. My secret weapon when it comes to fly spray is the Pyranha products. I especially like their aerosol for good coverage that lasts and really works. It goes for anywhere from $16-22 a bottle and does not make your horse’s coat too slick before a ride.

When it comes to riding, Jim often sports a fly mask or a fly bonnet. This year, my husband and I got new LeMieux sets in plum and midnight. I can’t wait to try them out! I am shopping for a new fly mask this year. I’ve had my current one for almost 2 years and it’s time to change it up. I did like my old one though which was the Absorbine Ultrashield.

For fly sheets, you can’t beat the quality of Schneider’s. I own both their Mosquito Mesh sheet with a neck and their Interlock Mesh sheet. The interlock is slightly heavier of a material, but has great UV protection which is wonderful when you have a black horse and don’t want him to bleach! The mosquito mesh is lighter and really good for those especially hot summer days.

The next thing on my checklist? Start throwing winter blankets into the wash and take my fly sheets out of storage. I was smart and put them away clean so they’ll be all set to break out and use this year. I like to slowly rotate my winter blankets out of use as the weather warms up. The heavyweights are already in the wash and the mediumweights will be going soon. Eventually his turnout sheets will hit the wash too, but with the amount of mud he enjoys kicking up while playing – it won’t be for awhile.

It’s the end of March and before you know it, those flies will be buzzing around our heads and in our hair once again. Don’t let them catch you off guard!

Product Review: Haas brushes

Months back when my husband and I were on a trip, we stayed at a little B&B that had a barn attached to it. In the mornings, the B&B let us saunter down to the barn to greet the Tennessee Walkers they had. We got to know two of the boarders and one morning, one of them was opening a box from SmartPak.

Along with multiple things inside, she was most excited about her Haas brushes. I had maybe seen them once or twice, but never thought much of them. They’re not cheap and I didn’t understand what the fuss was about.

Fast forward back to January. I wanted them. I had found the black horse set they sell on their German website. But in foreign currency and shipping them to the U.S., they would be expensive. Also I didn’t understand why I needed 5 brushes for one grooming! Instead, I found 3 critical brushes on the SmartPak site that were included in the black horse set- the Curry Comb, the Lipizzaner and the Diva Exclusive.

(Photos courtesy of Smartpakequine.com)

Now these brushes aren’t cheap. The curry is $6, the Lipizzaner is $40 and the Diva Exclusive is $32. You may ask, why is it worth buying that expensive of brushes? After using them twice so far, I understand.

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Now granted, Jim is a show horse. He’s kept inside and blanketed. He’s worked throughout the entire winter with a strict routine. He has a very balanced nutrition program including DAC Oil and I also spray him down with Equifuse’s Shine Spray about once every week to two weeks. And I seriously need to be able to bathe him when it’s warm again and get those stockings clean! But when I picked up those brushes, even that thin layer of dirt and dead hair brushed away.

The curry comb is part curry and part shedder. Since it’s almost spring, Jim has already been losing small fine hairs. The curry took things out of his coat that I had no idea they were there! It is a firm curry, but Jim seemed to like it.

The Lipizzaner is a good medium brush. It picked up all of the hair the curry left behind. It’s comfortable to use in your hand and you get a very nice grooming stroke from it. But my favorite of the 3 brushes is the Diva Exclusive.

The Diva sports lambs wool in the center of it. It’s almost softer than my cat! It’s lined with black horse hairs on the outside to give it lift and structure and damn does it work! It’s my favorite polishing/finishing brush ever. It’s going to be perfect come show season for getting that extra little bit of shine to come through. (And that can be difficult on a black horse!)

Another cool part about Haas is they have a chestnut, a gray, and a universal set as well as the black horse set. It’s not just a marketing ploy – they do cater the brushes to the coat types. Grays you need that extra pull from urine stains, chestnuts usually have a very sensitive/thin skin, and black horses love their deep clean grooming! If you’re like me and cannot afford the full set, find some reviews and see which brushes come in the set and choose the ones for you.

I know my husband will kill me for it, but I’m addicted to these brushes. They were a birthday gift and I’m so glad they were! Now I need a nice handy bag to keep them safe in.

(Note: I received these brushes from a non-horse family member for my birthday!)

Product Review: Dreamer & Schemers Socks

It’s not hard to find the matches to your riding socks in your drawer with the Dreamer & Schemers riding socks. I have fallen head over tail in love with these socks!

(Screecher decided he wanted to be in the photo.)

I bought my first pair of Dreamer & Schemers a few months ago after I had followed their Instagram for a contest. Their vibrant colors and trendy designs caught me immediately. The designs were totally me and they had something for everyone – whether you like unicorns, jumper designs, avocados, sushi, etc. The list went on and on. I have even gotten my friends hooked on them!

Along with being very fun designs with a personality of their own, the D&S socks feel great. They have a nice black sock bottom that’s smooth and comfortable in your boots. At the top is a stretchy black band that helps keep your socks up. They’re quality.

(Doesn’t the black horse look like Jim?)

The socks fit up to a 16″ calf. I run about a 16″ and although they do get a bit snug over breeches, they do fit. I tend to be that weird short person who hates ankle bunching with the bottom of my breeches so I tend to wear my socks under my breeches with my half chaps. (P.S.- If anyone has a solution to this, PLEASE hit me up on my contact info on the blog or comment below!)

The socks usually run about $17 although she runs sales pretty consistently. Right now they’re $15 with a buy 3, get 1 free deal. She also works with companies to do custom socks so if you go by the View Halloo site or some of your friendly tack shops or bloggers, you might find some limited editions!

The socks are stylish, comfortable and a good buy for the price. I’ve already gotten a few friends hooked on them! (And some of them don’t even ride English!)

(Disclaimer: I bought these socks myself!)

Product Review: View Halloo’s Equestrian Competition Journal

I stumbled upon the View Halloo Equestrian Competition Journal by chance. View Halloo was a featured Instagram account in a giveaway I had entered. It was one of those like a bunch of accounts and be entered contests. At first I thought nothing of it until View Halloo’s journal came by my feed.

Anyone that knows me knows there’s two things I love; paper products and planning. I love being organized. I love gathering information and putting it all together with one little bow. I had to get my hands on this journal.

Fast forward a few weeks and my journal came yesterday in the mail. I rushed home as fast as I could to dive into the journal. Unboxing it was the most fun I had had all week.

It came very well packaged and safe. I must say founder Rebecca thinks of everything when she was putting together this journal and she doesn’t ship it cheaply. It comes in a heavy wrapped paper envelope that’s lined and then the journal is wrapped up in a nice, orange tissue paper and sealed and taped.

Opening it up, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful cover. I got the black with silver with my name on it and it came absolutely perfect. When you pick up this journal, it screams quality. Opening up the pages, you can tell Rebecca knew what she was doing. The pages are heavy and smooth and great to write on. It’s some of the most quality paper I’ve felt in a while.

The journal is peppered with beautiful watercolor pictures and includes references to View Halloo which is a foxhunting call meaning something is worth chasing. I love this motto for goal setting!

Leafing through the journal, she thought of everything. The journal has spaces for your registration information, insurance, blanket inventory, horse care, training, goals, shows, travel schedules, etc. It’s truly built for a competing equestrian to keep everything organized.

The journal is very beefy. It’s not a small journal! You get a lot of value for your money ($75 without your name on front or $90 with.) I’ve already started going through it and filling out all of Jim’s information, some of which I had to go into my filing box for! It’s nice to have all of the information all together. I hope I don’t fill out the training pages too quickly though. I might do weekly summaries instead of daily rides since I ride Jim about 4-5x a week. That might save me some real estate!

Overall, I absolutely adore the journal and recommend it for anyone that’s like me and has a busy equestrian life. It’s great for keeping track of all of your horse’s information, show schedules, training, equipment and other important information.

Also, for my wonderful blog followers, use the code EQWIFE10 for 10% off!