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.

DIY Dye Success!

AKA The Great Dye Job. Back in December, I decided that enough was enough. I had bought a second hand Jaguar dressage saddle, and it was in rough shape. After months of heming and hawing over having someone else dye the saddle, I said f#$% it, and bought the supplies myself, and took the saddle home to redye.

Now the before pictures are rough. Like super rough, “I had no idea how ugly my saddle was”, rough. There was a lot more dye loss on the seat then I originally saw, the skirt was pretty bad, the flaps were miserable, and the only okay spots were really the knee rolls. I mean, it was a used saddle. Shit happens.

the horror show

I ended up following the900facebookpony’s DIY tutorial pretty much to a T. Douse the afflicted leather in acetone, take a swig of your drink of choice, swipe on two to three coats of dye, and then two to three coats of Tan Kote. The only thing I didn’t do was apply Resolene. The Resolene is an acrylic sealant, and once you seal the leather pores, no more conditioning the leather for you.

I honestly am in love with the results. The saddle has gone from looking very second hand to looking directly off a website. The photos I took are right after I conditioned it, so it looks super shiny. However once the layer of conditioner soaked in, it became matte and sooo pretty.

look at that sexy beast

Surprisingly, there hasn’t been tons of dye transfer. The first time I rode in it, I stupidly wore grey full seats, so those got some dye transfer in the crotch and in the knees. I also had a line across the top of my thigh, not sure where that came from. The second ride was a lot better, I wore jeans and saw no dye transfer anywhere. Any dressage saddle gives some dye transfer at some point in its life, so I don’t see a big deal in a bit of transfer here and there. This saved me some major money in doing it myself, and it looks as good as if I had paid someone.

That being said, Trainer S has already told me she wants me to do her treeless over the summer so that will be another redye project to do this year.

2019 Resolutions and Goals

As much as I hate change, I am welcoming 2019 with open arms. There is a lot to do this year and there was way too much drama and stress from last year. Every now and then someone suggests something new for me to do. Like “oh, maybe you should pick up this new book, or what about taking summer classes?” or, “Maybe you should sew this super cool bolero that has dragon scales Anna!” Thanks for that by the way Amber.

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Even though I’m a little late to making this post, (10 days to be exact), they say you are 70% more likely to do something if it’s in writing, so here we go!

1: Receiving my Equine Massage Certificate
It’s been on my goal list since 2016, maybe even 2015. The process began back in October, but in typical Anna fashion, I’m a bit behind on it. (Still can’t get over the fact that there are two different directional terms from the back of the legs from the hocks and knees down.) The goal with this is to run my own small equine business, operating out of my little corner of Massachusetts. The fact that I found a school that offers equine massage therapy in my state was pure luck, and horse people haven’t scared me yet!

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2: Place at a rated horse show
This is another long term goal I’ve had. I’ve been showing and competing since 2010, but they’ve all been local non rated or schooling dressage shows. Those gave me the experience of being at a show, but not like a rated one. I got the chance to groom for Trainer S, this past summer while she made her attempt at her bronze, and being at a rated show vs non rated was very different. I already have 3-4, the fourth being very dependent on how I do in the other three, rated shows lined up with the barn manager, Trainer C. She trains and shows Arabians so this little country mouse will have some fun on the Arab circuit this year. I’m still figuring out my options of who I will be showing but I can’t wait for the first show in May.


3: Get Good Grades and Keep Ahead
This feels kinda cheap to say it, but because I have overloaded myself with classes, and I’m moving into the tougher more major-specific classes in the Spring and Fall, my grades have suffered greatly. I had a 3.5 going into my summer 2018 semester, but it dropped to a 2.9, resulting in losing my scholarship. I’m lucky enough that I can afford college, with or without that scholarship, but it did help. I’d like to keep those grades a little higher and hopefully above the 3.0 level. The second half of this resolution is more towards the goal of graduating a semester early. My older sister managed it in 3 years, which is super hard, but I just want to get out earlier if physically possible. It might not be, we’ll see.

Pinpoint the stress to de-stress

4: Work towards First Level
This one might be another 2020 goal, but I would love to be able to get up to first level. I love dressage in the sense of everything is very well planned for my little anxious brain, and the only things unplanned are what the horse’s reactions are to unplanned things. I feel better knowing that there is a permanent, well semi-permanent, pattern that I will always follow that is a standard, so there are no suprises on the test end.

5: Find a new lease
I’m currently in horse limbo, and I need a project. I’ve been trying various horses at my current barn, and one may have potential. Trainer C brought her younger son’s horse for me to try, but because of the Big Sick that went around during the holidays, he still hasn’t been brought back into work, and she’s considering bringing him home. Trainer C and S both are trying to help me find my way with a new lease. I am definitely leasing one of Trainer C’s horses as I know she won’t screw me over with a lease, which has been an issue in past leases.

6: Blog more!
This one I really want to make work. I made this blog in October, and have made about like 2 posts since then. I would love to use this blog to follow any kind of equestrian activities I do, and I’ve worked towards making it work. So this will be an interesting goal to see if I follow.

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7: Enjoy myself
I got into this sport for the fun of it, so I’m hoping to keep it fun and as drama free as possible. The barn is becoming a little less stressful as we are getting moving, but Trainer C keeps a good handle on everything.