Back on Track!

You know how they say when it rains it pours? The last three weeks have been bad weather city here in New England, so it’s been pretty low key on the horse part of my life.

With mixes of snow, rain, sleet, slight flooding and ridiculous amounts of wind, I’m surprised I’ve kept a semi-steady riding schedule. Monday, the wind was so bad, we decided it would be easier and safer to cancel lessons and throw in the towel about riding. By Tuesday we all thought the wind wouldn’t be as bad, but we were wrong. I took my lesson on a different horse to switch it up on Tuesday, and the horse was so freaked out by the coverall barely moving, she spooked dumped me hard on my ass. So Bently got three days off.

“Wait you mean I actually have to work today???”

In other news, I signed the lease for Bently! I’m more excited about that because its a really good deal for what I’m getting. 6 rides a week as well as no farrier or vet payments. Which I got saddled with on my other lease with fewer rides then this one. Either way, I’m very excited for that to start.

If anyone was curious, Bently is doing a lot better! After two lessons in a row, we got our butts kicked and he is traveling a lot better. He’s starting to understand the idea of not sticking his head up in the sky and being a saddle seat horse, but he still has some moments. We even get some tracking up and a very relaxed walk towards the end. He’s been going so well, and I’ve sat two big spooks already this past week, because of snow sliding. The first one I thought I was gonna fall but managed to save it last second. The second, I didn’t have my feet in the stirrups like an idiot but still managed to save it and not fall off. To be fair, almost all the snow had fallen before that point and none had fallen all day.

Also, I invested in pair of new stirrup irons and polo wraps! Or at least new to me in the case of the stirrup irons. Trainer C keeps Herm Sprengers on all her saddles, and I had honestly fallen in love with them. My knees don’t ache in them and I just love the feel of them. My only issue was they cost $250 brand new, around $230 at their current sale price. So off on the internet, I went scouring to find a used pair at a reasonable price. I ended finding a pair on eBay for around $88 USD, that was in really good condition, aside from a decent amount of scratching here and there. So for 16$ shipping, my own set of Herm Sprengers arrived Monday from Poland. Only took two weeks but they are here. Despite their long trip here, they are so worth it.

I also finally bit the bullet and bought a four-set of Back on Track polos. I had been toying with the idea and had been a little nervous with the reviews I had seen online with how long they were and how thick they could be, as well as the fact that they run for about $65. Trainer C did point out that any kind of Back on Track product would help with circulation and be benefical to Bently, so I said “what the heck why not?”. They shipped rather fast, and I will definitely agree with the reviews, they are a little bulky and thick. It’s from one side being fleece, and the other a more stretchy soft fabric with the ceramic fibers woven in. They are a little hard to wrap because you have to go a little tighter then I would like to wrap to make sure they don’t slip. If I went any looser they would fall right off, but I can still get a finger or two between the wraps and his leg.

April is creeping up on me very quickly. I am still kinda behind on my massage classes but I finally decided to skip the one giving me trouble and just move on to the next one. Maybe I’ll go faster now, but I still have some time in March to work on it all. Show season is coming faster as well, so I’ve decided March is the time to get all my show clothes together so I don’t have to worry about it in April.

April will be a shit storm of events. We’re running a schooling show on April 7th, which I think I’m doing a few classes instead of helping run it, I spend the week after in Missouri to visit my sister, one weekend in Worcester, and that’s pretty much all of April. And then May 10th is my first show so I need all my clothes and possible tack by March.

I’ve already kinda planned not to get my hopes up on winning much just with Bently’s current progress and we really only have a month and a half. Any kind of experience will be amazing in my opinion, but again, I don’t want to get my hopes up too high, we’re pretty much starting back at square one with him and trying to retrain everything. I’m still incredibly excited to get out and do more rated shows.

Model status achieved

In other news, I’ve decided to give this blog a different name. After some accidental Instagram stalking, I discovered someone else had the same name as Saddles and Studies. Reining it Back means a little more to me then Saddles and Studies, partially because a rein back is a dressage movement, and I’m trying to slow my life down and manage multiple things at once, like college, becoming a certified massage therapist, anxieties, and work on my dressage skills.

A Tack Cleaning Obsession

Besides being a major saddle pad collector, I’m also a tack cleaner product collector and subsequently, a sponge collector (I have 40 somehow). Cleaning tack is the most relaxing thing in the world to me. Nothing but me, some dirty tack and a binge session on Netflix. Its a ritual for me, and something I desperately want to implement in my daily riding routine, but it’s also on average 20-15 degrees now when I’m done with riding and my barn stock of tack cleaning supplies are nice and slushy currently.

When it comes to tack cleaning supplies, I’m willing to try out any product and see if it makes a difference with my leather items. I tend to test all and every product on my schooling tall boots because I know those will never see a show ring again, or my Dublins. I’m not very nice to my shoes, so both will most likely be destroyed from so much use in a few years.

For a few years, when I discovered my love of tack cleaning, I was an all glycerin girl. Just squirt some saddle soap on my rag and or sponge and go. And it worked for a while until I had an issue with it and my hands started breaking out getting it all over my hands. So I started looking for alternatives. My dressage saddle, which is buffalo leather, until recently, had the same treatment as my boots as it was so damaged, I didn’t care about more leather damage as it already looked like trash. And it was black so how much more damage could I do to a black saddle vs my brown Ovation jump saddle?

Since the Great Dye Job, I’ve been using Effax products on my saddle. I love the conditioner, but it bothers me that the cleaner is alcohol based, and I have to condition every time I wipe my saddle down. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but we have the dustiest arena known to mankind, and I’m the kind of gal who would prefer to wipe her saddle down every time I ride. Which realistically doesn’t happen very often, despite my best efforts.

My mom bought me some saddle soap wipes for Christmas, which solve the problem for quick and easy but defeat the purpose of avoiding glycerin products. I’ve used to use them before, but they left weird residues on my jump saddle so I stopped. Now I use them mainly on Caroline’s Pessoa because again, the dustiest ring known to mankind. And she’s super anal about what touches her saddle, so they don’t go to waste.

I also own a product called TLC, which stands for Tender Leather Care. It was a 2 in 1 product which made the leather a little tacky. Not enough to be annoying but enough to help with a little stick. Dover sells it, and it comes in some amazing scents, which was a good incentive to clean tack because it smelled so good. I only stopped using it because of the 2 in 1 idea, where maybe the saddle soap and conditioner should be separate. Like a 2 in 1 shampoo.

I also own a lanolin based saddle soap and conditioner from England. The first time we went, we stopped in Harrods, and they had a small section for horse items, mainly just polo outfits for men. I did manage to find the saddle soap and picked up a jar for a souvenir. I used it for a while and liked it, but again, it was a 2 in 1 offender, so I left it in my tack trunk to be a backup cleaner. Due to its makeup being about 50% lanolin, it melts in the summer so another drawback of that product.

Literally smells like heaven

And after all of that experimenting and having a box full of cleaning supplies, I’m still not sure what is best for my tack. I would contact the company, but I highly doubt Jaguar knows how to care for saddle leather, let alone buffalo leather. I might contact Harry Dabbs but it all depends. I just want to make sure everything is going well so this saddle and my jump saddle can last me as long as they can. My jump saddle is over 10 years old, and still looks relatively new minus a scratch or two. And the dressage saddle, I have no idea how old it is, but I’m more paranoid about that one then the jump saddle. Especially after how much work I put into restoring it.

If you have suggestions for a daily tack cleaner that my buffalo saddle would be okay with or have a favorite brand of cleaner, please let me know. Like I said, I’m willing to try anything.

Operation Fatman Continues

Today is Day 16 in Operation Fatman! He himself is not pleased with this operation, but he’s currently lost all say in the matter.

The Fatman in question

Mikhai is doing really well, to say the least. 16 days in constant work, with only two days off because it was too freakin cold. Thanks Massa-twoshits. Not many updates on his end, besides the usual work work work work. We did swap him to an unbroken kimberwick, which is his usual show bit, but Trainer C is considering changing it again, so this is not a permanent change by the sounds of it. He got seen by the chiropractor too on Tuesday, with good results.

Mikhai is surprising me in the sense of he is a horse who got used to get his hocks injected every year since he was 5, and we are 16 days into without them injected. The breeders decided it was just what they should do, and Trainer C kept up with it, for fear he would go lame without it. Having 11 years of injections to your hocks must do something negative to a horse. But because they took last season off, he never got them done, so the last time he got done was 2017. Hopefully, we can make it through 2019 without them and see what happens.

Bently got seen by the chiro and the vet in the same day. My hope is that being seen by the chiro will help most of the problems and we can avoid the hock injections, but I highly doubt it. There is still a high chance his hocks will have to be done as well.

The chiro said he got really good releases out of Bently’s shoulders, something I had noticed before. The scary thing was, I watched him lift Bently’s back almost 3 full inches, right to where it should sit. He had a tabletop flat back like he should. We also checked saddle fit, thankfully my saddle still fits the best, but he did warn me it might not be forever as the muscles change and he starts to use his back more.

Trainer C is already planning his retraining regiment. Bently’s back is a lot better then one of her horses was when he was at his worst, so she has high hopes it is fully fixable. He’s on a break until Saturday, and then Trainer C is going to spend a few days working with him to get his back up. She has long ass legs and wears big spur to help him pick his barrel up. Once he’s at a place she’s comfortable with, I’ll get on and work with him but I think it will be mostly me and her for the time being. Once we get him to the right place maybe other lessons can ride, but they have to be good.

And I don’t mean that in a bad way, saying some of the lesson kids suck at riding, but it won’t take much to get him to revert back to sinking his back and such so it’s one of those pick and choose kind of lesson kids. One girl who rode him before his injections won’t be allowed to anymore, she keeps her hands so stiff and out, that it would make him revert in a split second. Trainer C isn’t even a fan of how she rides Hamlet, even with a german martingale she can’t get his head down.

On that note, I can’t wait till Bently starts to figure himself out. My goal is to work with him this year, I honestly am so in love with him, and he’s such a good boy who does try so hard. He would make the cutest sport horse/dressage horse ever so I’m hoping we can get him to start using himself.

The Week of 30 and Below

As I am writing this, it is currently 23 degrees, with a low of 11 degrees tonight. Holy crap it was cold this week. This has been the coldest day by far, when I got to the barn, it was about 16 degrees according to my little corolla. Trainer C’s truck told her 14 when she got there. So in short, its freakin cold here in Massachusetts. Then again, what did I expect living in a state very far from the equator. At least it isn’t Maine.

It has been cold here since about Wednesday, and will stay cold till next Tuesday, when the high is 40. Yipee. But I got to spend some quality time with some quality ponies this week so points there.

Lets start with Mr. Bently. The current school horse enigma. Bently is half arab, half saddlebred show horse we are leasing off his owner. She had another horse she was working on and he wasn’t getting worked a lot, and we needed a spare school horse that could double as a show horse. He has been at our facility for about three months now, and basically got the month of December off.

Thursday night, I was at the barn and decided to hop on him. I’d ridden him the day before and on Tuesday so I thought it would be a good idea to continue the streak. We had been riding for about a half hour, and Trainer C was teaching lessons to her cow ranching students. I was trotting down the long side, and all of a sudden, I had no right hip. Like at all. It felt like he had literally lost the whole leg for about 5 strides before it came back. Trainer C and I are theorizing there is something going on, but most likely he did something in the paddock. Hopefully the chiropractor and the farrier might have something to say too. Bently got the day off Friday, and because he can be cold backed, and it was literally 15 this morning, he got today off too. Even though he got two days off from work, its impossible to not go give him attention and cuddles. He will love on you all freakin day long.

how can you not love this face

Friday was a lesson with Trainer C on Hamlet. I got to play with all his buttons essentially. Arab classes apparently ask for gait extensions and collections so we played around with those, while fighting Hamlet’s grumpiness. He isn’t a fan of working in the cold, and will fight everything. We got fantastic collected gaits, and holy smokes my abs were burning after the collected trot. I also got to hand gallop him which was a big whee moment, and I had an absolute blast. I think Trainer C got a photo but I haven’t hounded her about it yet.

Saturday consisted of cold horses and cold humans. I warmed up a few lesson horses, working their cold kinks out before the little kids got on. Shaarin gave me a run for my money, trying to unseat me a few times in pure spite. I swear that mare hates my guts. Mikhai got a lunge session in a cooler, as I felt bad for his fat shaved self. He was an absolute turd on the lunge line. We lunged the scary half of the ring, partially because he needed to get over himself, and partially cause it was the only space. He was running all over the place, spooked at the most random stuff, and was just a fruitcake. Again, very thankful for such steady school horses at the barn as some of the boarder horses might have gone running for the hills with him in there. Maybe I worked some fat off of him for once. And of course Bently cuddles after lunch

He was licking my ears at this point

Again, as it was too freakin cold to much else, Trainer S and I ended up doing chores to keep ourselves warm after lessons were finished. We first managed to reorganize the hay barn and make more space for boarder storage. The hay barn is still full of crap from the last owner, so we found ourselves moving old lockers, cat boxes, trash, insulation and more. I was very satisfied with the removal of the old lockers as I had been glaring at them since we moved into the property and wanted to throw them out.

Surprisingly so much better then before

Of course after that was picking paddocks till Trainer C came back, and bringing in and feeding, but it was an interesting few days, as well as a few cold ones. I am holding out for Tuesday for the 40 degree weather now.