Redheads and Remembrance

Redheads and Remembrance

Today I got to ride a new friend’s horse, Quinn.

Quinn is a 16.3-17hh OTTB gelding. Quinn is also a beautiful, bright red chestnut.

My friend and I walked out to the pasture to bring him in.

My first thought was “Wow, he’s pretty.”

My second thought was “Holy $hit, he looks like Magic.”

Magic was a 16.2hh (ish) OTTB gelding my dad and I used to ride around 2014. We parted quickly, and I wasn’t exactly happy about losing my best friend. You have to understand, losing a horse to death is a terrible, terrible thing. But there’s a sense of peace and security that comes with it. When you lose a horse to a sale, there’s no peace or security. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. They’re no longer yours (I’m looking at you, people who freak out if the horse is resold, or changes disiplines, or whatever. They’re not yours anymore, you can’t control any of it).

There were random nights that I would just sit and think about how he would be doing. Was he still a jumper? Still crazy? Still the most lovable, puppy-dog horse you’ve ever seen?

One day a few months ago, I searched his name on Facebook (I had done this multiple times over the years). I had never expected to actually find anything!

But, what do you know? I found him, just a few hours away from me, happy as a clam. He was still a jumper, but a solid citizen that the up-down kids could also learn on.

There is no greater joy that recovering that which you have loved and lost.

Anyways, after I had gotten over my heart skipping a beat, we went on to have a very nice ride. Don’t get me wrong, he was a difficult nut to crack, but he was super fun. He took a very different ride that what I’m used to, but it was fun to stretch myself!

I have no doubt that Quinn is L’s one-in-a-million horse. But he reminded me how much Beau is my own heart horse.

Here are some videos from the second half of my ride:

 

Super huge thank you to my friend for the opportunity!

Review: Noble Outfitters Amy Quarter Zip Shirt

Review: Noble Outfitters Amy Quarter Zip Shirt

This Noble Outfitters Amy Shirt has sat in my closet with the tags on for about six months. Boy, was I missing out!

The reason for that is this shirt is a lightweight, white shirt. And I didn’t have a white bra until about a month ago!

I was nervous to wear this shirt for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s WHITE.
  2. It has 3/4 sleeves.
  3. It’s almost see-through.

Turns out, all of those worries were unfounded.

Even though it’s white and my horse is a rubber, licker, and slobberer, this shirt stayed miraculously clean. The picture above was actually taken after our ride, and it’s still clean!

The sleeves were snug but not tight on my arms. The material of this shirt is magic and actually cooled me down more than if I had worn my regular sleeveless tanks. Now, I did ride in this on a relatively cool day, around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so I’ll be curious to see how it does in the hotter weather (it’s been 85+ the past few weeks).

At home in my room, I could see the outline of my bra, especially if I was looking for it. However, once the material had settled and I got out in the sunlight, the lines were much less noticeable. I was wearing a white Nike sports bra.

I was also worried about how it would handle sweat, but it turns out that the material kept me pretty cool and what I did sweat wasn’t noticeable through the shirt.

This shirt was incredibly cooling, lightweight, and made me feel more professional than my normal tanks or t-shirts.

The pros: 

Lightweight and cooling

The cons:

White and slightly see-through

Overall?

This shirt is both cute and efficient, and I would definitely recommend it!

3 Easy DIY Ribbon Displays

3 Easy DIY Ribbon Displays

My ribbons are one of my favorite parts of my room!

Circle Belt Holder Display:

20472620_1476050025809287_599311373_o

This display is so simple and cute. Simply take a circle belt holder like this one and put your ribbons through the loops, pushing the tails of the ribbons behind the rosettes. Mine are organized by color. Then, just hang the hanger.

Hook and String Display:

20447273_1476050082475948_780074782_o

The easiest and most common display. Simply take two Command hooks and stick them to your wall. Hang the string from hook to hook. Each rosette can then be hung on the string. I’ve hung mine in color order, one string for me, one for my dad.

Lantern Display:

20424750_1476049962475960_504958701_o

This is the most time-consuming display, but it’s still easy. I took the time to fold each ribbon’s tail into the hanger on the back, but you could easily cut the tails off if you wanted. Next, just arrange the rosettes so that they are visible through the glass. I had a lantern with a loop on the top, so, I also strung some single ribbons through it. Lastly, I added the giant ribbon to the outside because it simply wouldn’t fit anywhere else, but I think it added a nice touch.

How do you display your ribbons?

 

 

Review: Charles Owen Helmets

Review: Charles Owen Helmets

Charles Owen has been my go-to helmet brand for 4 or 5 years.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, horse, hat and outdoor

Between my dad and I, we’ve used the:

The best part about these helmets is that they have about every safety certification known to man (or close to it!).

emma2

They are certified:

  • SEI/ASTM F1163
  • CE VG 01.040 2014-12
  • BSI Kitemark PAS015:2011
  • SNELL E2001

They’re super comfortable. Before switching to Charles Owen, I’d ridden in Ovations, Troxels, IRHs, and even a GPA. None of them are bad helmets, but none of them hold a candle to my Charles Owens. They are the most comfortable helmets I’ve ever put my head in.

The downfall of these Charles Owen helmets is that they have zero ventilation (the ARY8 is the cheapest one with any).

 

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, horse and outdoor

The helmets are covered with microfiber suede that is weather resistant. My JR8 Sparkle has a black sparkly center. It’s not a glossy sparkle, it’s a little rougher. However, it’s not a bad thing, it helps the sun reflect the sparkle even more.

The JR8s have nylon harnesses and plastic clasps, and the GR8 has a suede covered nylon-fortified harness with a metal clasp and button.

I have a hyper, huge horse. I fall off…more than the average person, and when I fall, it’s a long fall. I’m lucky in that I’ve yet to have to go the hospital for a fall (KNOCK ON WOOD), and I give plenty of the credit for that to my helmets and XC vests.

 

xc may.png

Helmet companies recommend your helmet should be replaced after every fall or after 5 years with light use (consistent riders should replace more often). My helmets tend to last about two years, about 2-4 falls per helmet. It’s not the best situation, but replacing my helmet everytime would be extremely expensive. I’ve gotten to the point where I am very good at landing on my feet or butt, not my head. That said, if it’s possible for you to replace your helmet after every fall, I encourage you to do so.

The pros:

The classic look (or fun sparkles) and A+ safety standards.

The cons:

No ventilation!

emma

Overall?

I trust my helmets to save my life every time I ride. There’s nothing I would trust more than Charles Owen!

Summer Must Haves for Horse and Rider

Summer Must Haves for Horse and Rider

Summer is a time of long, sunny, and hot days. These are my five go-to items for horse and rider in the warmest season.

  1. Absorbine Hooflex Natural
    Long, hot nights out in the pasture mean Beau’s feet get torn up quickly. Right now he’s getting his feet done nearly every 4 weeks. Hooflex is my lifesaver, and I like the natural version because it’s clear and it doesn’t smell.
  2. Endure Fly Spray
    Endure is life. This stuff works incredibly well. Plus, the spray bottle is extremely nice quality and will last longer than the product if you like to make homemade or concentrate fly spray.
  3. Peppermint Essential Oil
    This is a new discovery for me. Last week, Beau had a massage by someone who invests in essential oils. It was 90+ degrees, and he was sweating pretty badly. After his massage, she put a few drops of this into a bucket of water for me to sponge him off with because it aids in cooling. He was dry in minutes! I will definitely be investing in more of this soon!
    NOW Foods - 100% Pure & Natural Aromatherapeutic Peppermint Oil - 2 oz. Image 1 of 2
  4. SmartPak SunShield Short Sleeve Shirt
    This is actually a replacement for my Noble Outfitters Amy shirt, which was discontinued. I specifically chose one with short sleeves, because I think riding in long sleeves in the heat is practically suicide. This shirt has mesh underarm sleeves and a quarter zip which I like, and I love this pink color!
  5. Secret Aerosol Deodorant
    This stuff is magic. I don’t know how I lived before spray deodorant. I sweat a lot. I get it from my dad (thanks a lot!). Even though it’d be impossible to find a deodorant that keeps me completely dry in this heat, this comes pretty close.
    Secret® Powder Fresh Aerosol Antiperspirant/Deodorant Spray 6 oz. Aerosol Can Image 1 of 7

These are my 2017 Summer go-to’s. They keep me and my horse in top condition.

What do you reach for in the summer?

Review: Annie’s Equestrienne Breeches

Review: Annie’s Equestrienne Breeches

I love reviews. I love these breeches even more.

 

 

Annie’s Equestrienne is a small but growing, family-owned business. The daughter (Annie) dreamed up some colorful breeches, and her mom made it happen! These breeches are not only fun for adults, they are perfect for children, too. The company’s collection ranges from breeches to shadbellies and competition jackets to schooling shirts to jewelry.

Let’s start with the visual: I have the Original Blue color, which is a beautiful mint, light blue. The pockets (which are nice and roomy) have cream piping and are lined with blingy crystals. I actually received a compliment on these from a non-horsey person yesterday – they’re that pretty!

Bonus: They match my Dover light blue pad perfectly!

They have cream knee patches and cream sock bottoms. The breeches are mid-rise with a zip and button. They also have 1″ belt loops. In the pictures you see here, I actually borrowed one of my mom’s belts because all of my belts are 2″ wide – precisely because I hate 1″ belt loops. But I’ll survive, these are too cute not to wear!

Next, the feel of the breeches: these are 100% summer breeches. They’re lightweight and comfortable. I rarely wear these in the winter because I live in Ohio, where temperatures get pretty low, but they’re great for the other three seasons.

The sock bottoms are soft. To remind you, I’m 5’1. These breeches would be perfect for someone 5’4″ to 5’8″ – which means I actually roll the sock bottoms up. They’re nice and flexible, so they don’t crease and pinch my ankles after they’re rolled.

I’ve had these for over a year, probably closer to two, and they still look brand new! The crystals are solidly attached, none of the stitching has come undone, and there aren’t any noticeable stains. These test well for durability for me!

Note the rolled bottoms!

The pros:

Lightweight, colorful, and comfortable, these are my go to summer breeches.

The cons:

Too tall for me, and I hate the 1″ belt loops. 2″ belt loops are the way to go!

Overall?

These are a total win. They’re comfortable, fit well, and pretty. I’ve received so many compliments on them, and I love standing out with the color! Give them a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Reorganizing My Tack

Reorganizing My Tack

A few days ago, I found some gems that inspired a redo of my entire tack’s organization. These storage bins were perfect for my stuff, so I grabbed them right away to upcycle.

20394838_1475466422534314_797443539_o

They were nasty when I got them, so to clean them I used:

  1. A dustpan and small broom (to sweep off big clumps of dust)
  2. Sanitizing Wipes (to clean and sanitize everything)
  3. A cloth (to dry and clean any stubborn pieces of dust)
  4. Bathroom cleaner (to clean stubborn stains on the top of one bin)
20394779_1475466632534293_1550088976_o
Before
20426993_1475466579200965_1650278707_o
After

So, for reorganizing:

First, I took the big and bulky bins out of the kneehole in my wall where my horse stuff stays. After looking through my things, I decided where to put everything in the new bins.

20354023_1475466195867670_1144426430_o

Small green bin:

  • Top drawer: leather pieces for the bridle and extra reins
  • Middle drawer: cross ties, gloves, misc.
  • Bottom drawer: other leather pieces (martingales and girths)

Large green bin:

  • Top drawer: what I reach for the most (duct tape, medical armbands, stirrups)
  • Middle drawer: hay net, extra groom tote, extra treats
  • Bottom drawer: what I rarely use (boot bag, saddle and bridle racks, half chaps)

20394514_1475466189201004_219563179_o

On top of that, I have my saddle pads in a ziploc storage bag because they don’t fit in any bins.

To the left, I have a bin with winter blankets and an extra blanket on top of that bin. Next to that is my extra saddle rack for shows.

The Final Product in my room:

20353757_1475466129201010_1232193961_o (2)

I love how this turned out! It’s so much easier to just open a drawer rather than pulling out all the bins to search for whatever you need. The clear drawers are perfect for easy finding, especially since my dad has a hard time finding things in here.

The medium sized black bin went to the barn to hold my wraps and bandages, and I’m planning to move my first kit in there as well!

How is your extra horse tack stored? 

The Reality of Schooling

The Reality of Schooling

Schooling is a complicated beast.

On one hand, you need to have a schedule, a plan.

On the other, you need to be flexible and adapt to your horse.

snapshot 7 13 17.png

Today was a complicated day in of itself. I knew I wanted to have a pretty hard work day as I felt like I’d been slacking lately. We’ve been doing a lot of hacks and bareback rides the past few weeks. Luckily, Beau has two other riders that work him hard as well, but I have to keep up too!

My plan was to work on bending and rating, as in extending and collecting the gaits. This way I had a loose idea of what I wanted to do, but I could choose my specific exercises depending on how he felt.

We got sidetracked. Of course.

When we got in the arena, two of my friends were just finishing up riding and left right after I picked up the trot. This is, of course, Beau and my’s weakness.

He gets spooky and hyper (no, don’t leave me friends!!) and I get nervous because I overthink what would happen if I fell off without anyone with me. We play off each other and get nervous and tight. Then it’s very hard to get a good ride, or any working ride at all, really.

So, our plan changed from bending and rating to using bending and rating to keep both of us focused and forward.

Step 1: Work on the far side of the arena.
Specifically, away from the spooky arena door where the horses leave.

  • Walk: work on bending, using leg yields and playing with the reins to keep him focused (literally jiggling them). I don’t use that a lot, but it helps him focus and me relax.
  • Trot: work on transitions for rushing using 5 steps walk and 7-14 steps trot, increasing more trot steps as he relaxed. Work on consistency by pushing him forward when he sucked back and half halting when he rushed.
  • Canter: push him forward and actually get him to go one way, try to hold him back the other. Because logic.

Step 2: Switch to the near side of the arena.

  • Walk: get him to go forward. Because he’s a big-A horse who is a jerk when he decides to just stop. Also, I have little legs!
  • Trot: Hey, hey, we’re going forward now! Work on bending and pushing him forward. Half halts and MORE LEG!
  • Canter: Bend and go forward. Bend and go forward. We did it – yay!

So, did we accomplish what I wanted? Yeah, we did.

Did we accomplish it the way I had in my mind? No.

Schooling will leave you glowing with happiness (ex: jumping like a boss, nailing lead changes, etc.), crying with frustration (the bucking bronco, the gross eq, or the FALL), or just feeling average (most days, let’s be honest).

The reality of it is – it’s going to be different everyday. Sometimes it’s going to be awesome, sometimes it’s not.

Expecting perfection every ride will lead to heartbreaks and headaches, but staying flexible and adaptive will allow you to get the most from your horse AND your ride. Remember schooling is for making mistakes. There’s no judgment for a bad ride. Everybody has them!

Review: SmartPak Piper Breeches

Review: SmartPak Piper Breeches

For Christmas this year, I put two pairs of breeches on my wish list: the SmartPak Original Knee Patch Pipers and the Dover Riding Sport Knee Patch Event Breeches. Both breeches I got, and both breeches I had to exchange. The returns and exchanges were easy for both pairs.

The exchange for both pairs went like this:
1. Filled out the exchange forms and sent them back.
2. Received a call that since it was the busy season, the exchange might take a while. I told them it was okay.
3. My breeches came in the mail!

The first thing you will notice about these breeches is that they are freaking adorable.

I got them in the navy/turquoise, so they are a beautiful, dark, rich navy blue with bright turquoise stitching on the knee patches, piping on the pockets, and the signature SmartPak logo.
They also have the best thing ever invented aka SOCK BOTTOMS. These soft, stretchy bottoms start right below the knee patches. I’m 5’1″ so breeches are usually a little long on me, so the stretchy material scrunches up around my ankles, which is way better that the velcro that cuts into my ankle bone.
Not the best picture, but you get the idea.
Let’s talk about fit for a second: To start with, I have a pretty hourglass figure, but I have thick thighs and a bit of a muffin top. But hey, we can’t all be perfect! I like mid-rise or “natural fit” breeches, because they sit comfortably over my stomach. The original Pipers fit perfectly, flattering my stomach and keeping everything contained while being stretchy enough to be comfortable. As for my thighs, the Pipers are stretchy enough to be comfortable, but they’re tight enough to still be flattering. They also have the Euro-seat, which is a nice touch.
These Pipers also have a 2″ wide belt loops, which are my favorite. They’re the perfect width for my C4 Belts, which are, as we all know, the best equestrian belts. I think they’re also more comfortable than the 1″ belts, which tend to be pinchy and unflattering.
The last part of these breeches I want to mention is the material of the Pipers. They are stretchy, but tight enough to be flattering (repetitive, I know). A loose breech is a fashion faux-pas for sure, and nobody likes that (the exception being male riders). I really like this material: it’s cool enough for the summer but warm enough for the winter.
It’s also pretty stain resistant. You know how I found this out? Because my horse is an idiot, and I’m cursed. Every single time I ride in a new product (breeches, boots, helmet, etc.), I fall off, either the first ride or one of the next rides. Well, these guys were no different.
Beau spooked at a tarp and bucked me off. These breeches, while covered in dirt from landing on my hip, cleaned up fairly well just brushing off the dirt, and still look brand new! I rode in them again last week and they were just as comfortable and nice as I remembered.
I definitely plan on getting another pair of these – they’re too nice to have just one, and I love all the colors.
Coming Home

Coming Home

Tomorrow, I’ll be leaving the campus of my current college, let’s call it College A for now, for the last time. I’ll make the six hour long drive home with my mom and grandma, who are the absolute best for coming to get me. In case you didn’t know, this was my freshman year of college. So, the question begs, why am I not coming back to College A?

I chose to go to College A for a few reasons.

One, I love to travel, and I wanted to go out of state for a while, kind of learn who I am when I’m not with my family (Now: I hate not being with my family and friends).

Two, it was a good choice for my intended major, global studies and/or political science (Now: I’m studying marketing).

Three, I loved the campus (Now: Don’t visit college campuses when school is not in session. The people make the campus).

So, as you can see, my reasons for choosing College A in spring 2016 are no longer valid in spring 2017. There were also a couple of other reasons as to why I wanted to leave, but those aren’t things I want to talk about on here.

This brings me to College B. Ironically, in spring 2016, I was adamant I didn’t want to attend College B. All – well, most – of my family had gone there; it was too close to home; I wanted to be different. Blah, blah, blah, basically I was stubbornly against what my family wanted, even though they had the best of intentions.

So why did I choose to transfer to College B? Well, for one, it is very close to my family. One of the original reasons why I shied away from it, this is now one of the most important aspects of College B. Then, there’s also the fact that it is one of the best colleges in my state, and I can get a great education there. And lastly, what you’ve all been waiting for, it brings me closer to my horse.

So, how does all of this relate to this blog, which is pretty obviously an equestrian one? Well, College A had a lot of things. It also lacked a lot of things, one of which was my horse. I honestly believe that if I had had my horse with me, I would have stuck it out at College A. No matter how stressed you are, no matter how much crap you go through, if you have your best friend with you, you can survive anything.

Today, someone on social media asked the question, “If you had to describe the feeling you have when you’re with your horse, what one word would you use?” Now, obviously, there’s a lot of answers you could use. Some of the ones in the comments included: free, happy, euphoric, confident, and more.

But there was one word that stuck out in my mind: home.

What is it about a horse that makes you feel like you are home? What makes you feel as if you never left? Is it the bond between horse and rider? The gentle nudge of a muzzle on your shoulder that seems to say, “It’s okay, I still love you,” no matter what happens? Is it the wonder that such a wild and huge creature could come to completely trust you, a human, who makes mistakes, who screws up, who asks why they’re different from everybody else?

Perhaps it’s because when you are with a horse, you are stripped down to your most basic form. There is no College A or College B, or stress at school, or work, or home. There’s no hating on yourself (at least there shouldn’t be!), no wondering why you’re different, no time to think the deep thoughts.

There’s only you. The horse. The communication and bond. The original survival instincts to run faster, work harder, push yourself more but to know when to slow, steady, and rest.

So, what does College B have that College A doesn’t? I think it’s a home. Whether that’s my family, my friends, or my horse, I know that I’ll be better off having found my home, even if it took me a year to realize that my home was really my home all along!