Review: IRH IR4G Helmet

Review: IRH IR4G Helmet

Today I’m going to write something I never thought I’d write in 2018: I love my IRH helmet.

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When I first started riding, I rode in the old clunky model IRH, which was probably a little too small for me and definitely not my favorite aesthetically. But it was safe and relatively comfortable and protected my head from the umpteen amount of falls I took while learning to ride.

I moved from that IRH into an Ovation that I loved, then into my first Charles Owen. I’ve ridden in a CO for about 4 years, so I was surprised when the tack store representative suggested the new IRH – and that it fit perfectly.

My CO always pinched at my temples, but I figured that was just a downside to riding in helmets. My IRH – no pinching! This is because IRH helmets are Oval-shaped while CO helmets are round. (Do you want an article on the difference? Let me know in the comments!)

I’ve now had this helmet for four months, so I have a pretty good idea of what this helmet is like.

In action (I really need some new pictures of me riding, this is the best I have!):

So, on to the actual helmet review of the IRH IR4G Helmet.

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The helmet is a soft black matte color with a hard shell (aka it’s not a suede helmet). It has a large vent in the front. The comfortable linings are replaceable to make the helmet slightly tighter or looser. It is also ASTM F1163-15/SEI Certified, so it’s ready to show in.

The snap is plastic, with a velcro “quick-release” adjustment system. This harness system is one of my least favorite parts of the helmet. It’s angled awkwardly so that it feels tight no matter what – but you do stop noticing once you start riding. The velcro adjustment system can be itchy as well.

I usually stop noticing this helmet once I start riding. It doesn’t bounce, shift, or sit tilted on my head. It has a good brim to keep the sun out of my eyes, but isn’t a wide brim – those are a bit too “space age” for my tastes anyways.

I ride with my hair down in a ponytail but you could easily fit a bun under the harness as well. I don’t recommend riding with your hair up due to safety concerns from recent studies – however, if you show with your hair up, make sure your helmet is fitted with your hair up too!

Overall, this helmet is comfortable on my head, vented and cool, and stylish. It functions well and keeps my head safe, which is my #1 priority.

Price: Dover currently has this helmet listed at $179.95.

Worth it? I definitely think so. I’m glad IRH has decided to step up their game to create a modern helmet that I can actually enjoy showing off to the equestrian community.

What helmet do you ride in?

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One Wishlist Item Down!

One Wishlist Item Down!

Everyone, meet Brea. Yes, I did name our trailer. Yes, I picked Brea because it’s one letter different from Beau. Yes, I love it.

Trailer specs:

2018 River Valley

  • Custom built
  • Ohio made
  • 7’6″ height
  • 2600 empty weight
  • 12′ long
  • Step up
  • Straight load
  • Silver and gray two-tone

Extras:

  • Two saddle racks
  • Six-hook bridle rack
  • Blanket bars
  • Rubber mats
  • Spare tire

My parents and I made an impromptu trip to Equine Affaire in Columbus, OH this past weekend. It was our first time going, and, although we were all overwhelmed, we all loved it too. We had a blast walking around the trade stalls and picked up some small things Beau needed, then headed over to the trailer arena.

I was just getting discouraged when I popped my head in this guy (the 10′ long model of our custom version) and was pleasantly surprised at the quality and price. We had the chance to meet the owner of River Valley Trailers (previously Eclipse Trailers) and the owner of the dealership. Both men were extremely nice businessmen who spent about an hour total speaking with my dad. They listened and related to our equine experience and gave us the best options for our situation. I would highly recommend River Valley to anyone looking for a new trailer!

We also got a chance to watch Fantasia, the musical equine experience. It was super fun! Lots of different disciplines and riders coming together for the love of horses. That’s the way it should be!

Do you have a trailer/horse box/float? What brand?

 

Moving Forward

Moving Forward

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I know my posts have been a little melancholy lately, but I have good news. I have had two awesome lessons in the past two weeks.

They’ve both been focusing on the same thing: flexion.

Now, the first ride back, I wrote about how much we had lost that bend and how much I had to work for it and how he didn’t have the strength to hold himself in the proper position for long.

Each ride has gotten better. That first ride, it was a step or two. The second, it was a couple strides, but faster and easier. This third ride, it was a couple strides but even easier, more, and faster. It’s coming together.

I know part of it is because my dad’s been working very hard on it, but part of it is because I’m remembering how to ride him: what cues to use, how much to use, what he likes and dislikes.

We continued working on our walk and trot flexion in a circle. Forward and upward impulsion is the key. Keep the movement forward while the head and neck stretch down over the back. We were also working on our walk to canter transitions, which came out very nicely. He picked up his leads well and tucked himself under to actually use and carry himself.

This is the week for us to finally start working on a schedule again. My plans are to ride Tuesday (check), Thursday, and Sunday.

It’s finally starting to warm up here too, although 17th winter could be coming, who knows? My next mission is to transform Beau from winter yak to show-ready handsome guy. His mane is atrocious and he needs a bath, so as soon as I can his mane is getting pulled and he’ll get a bath once it warms up.

How have your rides been lately? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

The Difference is Noticeable

The Difference is Noticeable

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Tuesday, I had my first lesson since I broke my finger. It went as expected: Beau and I are totally out of shape. And Beau doesn’t even have an excuse since he’s been ridden 4-6 days a week by my dad and my leaser!

For our lesson (which I was SOO late to), Cori really wanted us to focus on bending and flexion at the poll. We started at the walk and moved to the trot. That’s all we did the entire lesson, and Beau and I were both feeling it by the end.

A glimpse into how I get Beau to flex:

Get him forward. No, more forward. Add some more inside leg. There. Now tell him what I want with my hand. Inside hand goes back to the outside of my thigh, keeping consistent pressure until he releases, bends, and stretches down. Then wiggle the fingers, while keeping them closed, to get his jaw to unlock and his poll to drop and relax. More inside leg. Keep the contact. Straighten with the outside hip and leg. Keep it, keep it.

Frustrations:

It was definitely frustrating to see how much we’ve lost in these 3 months. We had really been clicking before my break, with my dropping his head and keeping the contact. Now, I feel like I’m back to dealing with a giraffe again. A very cute giraffe, but still.

It’s awesome that I have my dad and leaser to ride Beau. They’re great. They keep him worked and sane, and they push him to new heights with the jumping. But my dad (love you!) doesn’t like dressage and hasn’t taken a flat lesson in months, and my leaser is much happier going fast and jumping (both of which are fun, and I definitely don’t blame her for!).

Beau is a¬†hard horse to get to “dressage.” He fights¬†everything and because he’s gotten away with using himself the wrong way for so long, he doesn’t have the strength or knowledge to use himself properly. Since I’m the only one who really works on it on a weekly basis with the help of a trainer, our progress has definitely suffered.

My wake up call:

Not only did my trainer point out that he’s looking skinnier and more undermuscled than normal (hello, heart attack, I like my horse fat, thankyouverymuch), she also said pointed out his “U” neck again, which just two months ago I was noticing how much better it had gotten. Getting him to stretch forward and down is definitely a priority to build that muscle, as well as keeping an eye on his weight.

Time frustrations:

Right now, my days to ride are Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Wednesdays and Sundays being open to whoever has time to ride. Tuesdays are now lesson days, with me literally running out of class to make it as on time as possible. Thursdays and Sundays are taken up by my service at the moment, and my dad has been riding on Wednesdays. Which means I’ve had one day a week to ride. Which¬†sucks.

Especially now that I’ve had my lesson and have things I need to and want to work on, I want to be at the barn. But I can’t because my schedule and Beau’s other riders make it difficult.

Positivity:

But, I’m staying positive. I’ve only got this week and next left of service then I can go back to riding at least twice a week. We’ve started looking for the perfect trailer. The spring show season was posted, and I’ve got a dressage show, work day, and combined test to hopefully prepare for.

Beau and I, although out of shape and dealing with a hard lesson, had a good ride in that he was listening and willing to try and do what I wanted. By the end, we had a couple of good moments, and I’m confident we can work back up to where we were.

Keep an eye out for more posts as we gain back our skills and fitness and move into show season!

 

First Ride Back!!

First Ride Back!!

 

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Yesterday, I had my first ride back on Beau after re-breaking my left pinky finger. Overall, I’d consider it a good-but-not-great ride! I was extremely happy to have a “boring” ride, as I was pretty nervous.

We did walk, trot, and canter both ways, and Erika even convinced me to pop over a teeny-tiny crossrail. I guess I am that crazy rider who jumps her first ride back!

Now, just because my ride was boring (read: SAFE) does not mean it was boring. Beau tested me on¬†everything. Now, one of the things I tell every rider who gets on Beau is that he will test you. I’ve worked hard for almost three years (whoa!!) to get his respect and obedience under saddle. He seems to have forgotten who’s in charge, but he’ll remember soon enough!

When I say he tested me, I mean he fought me on everything. Beau: Can I get away with this? What about this? This? This? These things included everything from stopping in the middle of the arena, giving me the slowest trot of all time, and my least favorite, falling in.

But it was still a very productive ride because it gave me confidence. It let me remember where my body parts need to go, how my muscles need to move, and what I need to think about.

 

Being back to riding has rejuvenated me. I’ve been bingeing horse YouTube videos, coming up with blog posts non-stop, and thinking up exercises to try with Beau to get ready for the show season!

Stay tuned for more updates from me and Beau!

Let’s Talk About Nerves

Let’s Talk About Nerves

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Tonight, I’m riding Beau for the first time in almost two months. And I’ll admit it, I’m nervous.

I have a very large, sometimes spooky horse. I feel like that’s all I repeat on here, how Beau can be a lot to handle, and how I handle him. But, eh, here we go again.

It’s over 50 degrees today! It’s sunny and balmy, but with sun and heat comes spring fever.

I plan to keep my ride simple today. Walk, trot, maybe a lap of canter if he’s being good. So, there’s really nothing to worry about, I can do that in my sleep. But I still am. So, let’s talk about what I’m doing about it.

How I handle nerves:

  1. Bring a friend.
    Today, I’m bringing E with me. He’s never seen me ride so it should be a fun way to keep myself from overthinking. He likes asking questions, so I’ll be distracted by answering those instead of worrying about Beau. Plus he can photo/video for me!
  2. Visualize.
    Horses are unpredictable¬†creatures. I think of the many ways my ride can go. If it goes well, I think of how happy I’ll be. If he bucks or spooks, I think how I’ll handle it. Even if he gets me off, I’ll think about how I’ll handle it. But always try to be positive.
  3. Listen to your pump-up music.
    In the car driving there, put on your favorite playlist. This is a tried and true way to calm your nervousness. It lets you relax because the sounds are familiar. Plus dancing is good for the soul!
  4. Take care of yourself.
    People (okay, me.) tend to skip out on eating if they’re nervous. DO NOT DO THIS. It will not end well. But if you eat and drink enough, you will be strong enough to do what you want to do and to do it well.
  5. Enjoy your horse beforehand.
    There is no rush to ride. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready. Take time to brush, pet, and just be with your horse.

I’ll update with another post after my ride. Wish me luck!

 

 

Going Alone

Going Alone

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Yesterday, I went to the barn for the first time alone since The Finger Incident.

It was 18 degrees, and I was not feeling it. But apparently I didn’t need that much motivation to go since it took one, “[Beau]’s probably missing you,” text from le garcon to get me to go.

It took a solid half hour for the shuttle to pick me up to get to my car, then another solid 15 minutes to dig out my car from the foot of snow Ohio decided to dump on us the night before.

But I was excited to get there.

I groomed him in his stall since he was munching away at his hay. It’s funny how much better he is with us being in his stall when he’s eating. He used to be so cranky when we first got him.

Then I put on his fancy halter (shout out to our awesome barn family!) and walked him down to the big indoor.

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Of course on the way down, he had to walk into the giant snowbank, but he was posing like he knew I was taking pictures (he probably did).

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Once in the ring, I took him off lead and let him roll around, and then we worked on walking and stopping off lead with me, which he was perfect for. The only thing he didn’t do was go over the cross rail, but he did go around to come stand by me. Good try, bubba.

Then another horse came into the ring (Otto, I think). It’s funny how much he changes with other horses. He was FOCUSED on this guy. I had put his lead back on but just draped it over his neck and worked to get his attention back.

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We did a bit more “off” lead work then moved to the hula hoop. He was looking at it for a second, but then decided it wasn’t worth caring about.

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So, he was a really good, relaxed boy, and it always makes me happy when he wants to follow me because he can.

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My one downfall was trying to get his blanket back on with one hand, but I made it work.

Then I got snuggles and he got a candy cane and a couple of his favorite dry cookies (aka not Stud Muffins), which are butterscotch.

It was a good day.

1 Month In: Learning to Love Again

1 Month In: Learning to Love Again

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As you might imagine, breaking my finger for the second time in six months because Beau can’t behave himself (just this time, first time was totally my fault) has given me some trust issues.

I’ve been to the barn about twice since I broke my pinky the first week of January. Never alone. Hopefully, that will change soon, as my leaser has agreed to switch days with me, which works better with my new semester schedule.

Beau is a good boy. He’s saved my butt multiple times over the course of our almost-three-year relationship. I really do love his cutie-pie face.

I remember hearing once that a good performance horse will always come with quirks, problems, or maintenance.

I suppose I lucked out with a horse that *knock on wood* has been lame all of 2 days, both because his feet were sore (shoeing/hard ground).

His quirk could be any number of things: his obsession with licking, his need to eat salt blocks in four days, his baby tendency to eat the cross ties when he’s nervous or worried.

Now while I’m not a huge fan of the word, “problem,” Beau definitely has his own set of issues. He would rather go sideways than straight, is¬† ¬† ¬† s¬† l¬† ¬†o¬† w l¬† y¬† ¬† learning that the bit won’t eat him if he accepts it, is protective of his food, and throws tantrums when he’s being turned out.

And yet, he has so much going for him.

He would jump 5′ everytime we rode if I let him. I’ve never ridden a horse that loves to jump so much.

He’s blissfully happy outside. As long as he gets turnout, he’s a happy camper.

He¬†can do the dressage movements. He’s got an awesome floaty, extended trot, a good collected trot, and a great leg-yield.

What he can’t do, he tries to learn. Sure, he has bad days where he doesn’t want to move or throws tantrums. But the majority of days, he’s trying to figure out my awkward cues and¬†more importantly,¬†he’s already come so far.

Lastly, this horse has a heart of gold, the heart of a champion. He’s loyal, affectionate (read: will try to lick you to death), and knows his rider. For example, two weeks ago he carted around my muggle (non-equestrian) friend through a beginner ride with a slow walk and an even slower jog (perfect for learning!). Then last week he gave another friend who has a Thoroughbred of her own a much more forward ride and challenged her to figure him out. Because of this, I trust him.

Sure, I might catch a few broken bones in the process, but he has so much to teach me. He’ll push me, then he’ll love on me (so that I can’t even be upset!).

Mission accomplished: I’m ready to love riding again for sure. I see a trip to the barn in the near future!

I Did This to Myself…Again.

I Did This to Myself…Again.

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When will I learn to keep my hands closed?!

On Wednesday, January 3rd, I saddled up for a lesson as my first ride in about a week. It was a 20-degree day, a right heat wave compared to the single digits in the days before and after.

He was very alert and slightly mouthy in the cross ties, which was an indication of a hyper pony. I was pleasantly surprised to have a very calm if forward horse on the lunge. I popped on, and immediately felt him tense. If you’ve ever ridden a hyper, tense, you’d know that they usually have a feel. Beau feels like a very tightly wound coil, ready to spring up or out at any time.

Bending work usually helps him with that, so I started on that as well as attempting to fight everything in me saying “hold him, hold him” and push him forward instead. We worked on the walk and trot for a bit. On the long side going away from home, we went over the poles. On the long side going towards home, I sat his first explosion.

We went back to trotting on the close side of the arena in a circle, working on leg yielding circles in and out and actually getting a pretty nice trot. Then, back down the poles. Same spot, same explosion. Except this time he got me a bit forward, and me being me, I was determined to NOT fall off (mission accomplished). I put my hands down to support myself, and he basically pushed his shoulder out into my open hand, specifically my pinky (my poor abused pinky).

I got Beau back in control with two 10m (ish) circles and got to the other long side before I halted him in pain. After consulting with my trainer to make sure I wasn’t overreacting, I got off. I don’t do well with pain. Both my dad and I have a long history of laying down in the arena after any injury, basically in shock. I did that this time too.

By the time the feeling had passed, my trainer, being the awesome person she is, had Beau almost put away. I helped with one hand and then booked it home. The one good thing about the cold weather is that I could stick my hand out my window on the drive home as an “ice pack.”

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The doctor’s visit the next day resulted in xrays, my doctor attempting to fix my dislocated top phalanx (the tip of my finger), and getting a referral to a hand surgeon (or orthopedic doctor). The official diagnosis was that my break from September had never healed (this is called a nonunion break), and I had only widened the fracture this time, as well as re-dislocating¬†it.

 

Today, I had an appointment with the hand surgeon who told me two things:

  1. I’m getting surgery.

Plan A is to pin it through the skin and possibly a small incision to scrape out old scar tissue. Plan B is to plate and screw the bone itself, which is not optimal, since my fingers are so small.

  1. I should have had surgery the first time I broke it, in September.

My surgeon was actually a bit annoyed I wasn’t sent to see him in September. Luckily, I’ve got a good doctor who can fix it, but the scar tissue that may have formed and the wear from using it for so long will make it complicated (hence, Plan B).

My surgery is scheduled for Thursday morning. I’m getting a custom splint Monday morning, then my post-op appointment is the next Monday. If all goes well, I should be out of my splint in 4-6 weeks. Then it’s physical therapy to keep use of that finger!

All in all, I’m glad it’s getting fixed, but I’m definitely going to struggle to stay off my horse for a month!

 

Friday Feature: Bridle and Bone Wellness

Friday Feature: Bridle and Bone Wellness

2018 is bringing a new segment to OTTBs and Oxers called Feature Fridays. These pieces are written on small businesses, artists, etc., who I believe merit the attention. These pieces are not paid Рthey are built on the trust of mutual sharing. Enjoy!

Bridle & Bone Wellness Logo
© Bridle and Bone Wellness

Bridle and Bone is a holistic wellness business run by co-founders Heather Wallace and Danelle Stukas in New Jersey.

Meet Bridle & Bone Wellness: Holistic Wellness for Horses & Dogs
© Bridle and Bone Wellness

Heather is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist, Certified Canine Massage Therapist, and an Aromatherapist.

Meet Bridle & Bone Wellness: Holistic Wellness for Horses & Dogs
© Bridle and Bone Wellness

Danelle is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist, Certified Canine Massage Therapist, and Reiki practitioner.

Together, they provide wellness services to the animals in New Jersey. Although I have not personally used Heather or Danelle as they are states away, Beau has had a massage therapy session that he loved, so I can definitely recommend the service itself.

© Bridle and Bone Wellness

You can check out Bridle and Bone’s Shop, where their services and products are listed in one easy place. This includes everything from healing salve to fly and tick spray to equine and canine massage. Everything is very reasonably priced as well, even compared to national brands.


In addition to providing services to her clients, Heather is also the founder of her blog, aptly named Bridle and Bone. The purpose of the blog is to provide insight on holistic wellness to her clients and others interested in the services. Her blog is also known for the Confessions of a Timid Rider series, which follows Heather’s personal riding experiences as an adult re-rider. (I personally loved this series!)

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© Heather Wallace 

Heather is responsible for the Equestrian Blog Hops that I try to write each month. Check out my last entry, Blog Hop: Year in Review! The idea is to create a topic each month, which is written about by bloggers all over the world who link their blogs to each other to support and send readers to each other. I really like how it worked in 2017!


Heather is also the author of the Equestrian Handbook of Excuses, a 2017 Literary Selection for the Equus Film Festival!

Equestrian Handbook of Excuses
© Bridle and Bone Wellness

As equestrians we are united by our love of horses. Let’s face it. Whether you own, lease, or borrow sometimes you don’t feel like riding. My handy book provides the perfect collection of excuses for you to tell yourself or your trainer.

Buy it here!


Heather has been a real asset to me in starting and growing this blog. She is a social media mastermind, willing to aid in blog set-up questions, and started the Blog Hops that keep me motivated to write at least once a month (although I’m planning on writing more in 2018!). I’m grateful to have stumbled upon her, her business, and her blog, and I recommend you check out all three!

Bridle and Bone Wellness’s Contact Us Page
Email: info@bridleandbone.com
Phone: (732) 784-7195

Bridle and Bone Blog’s Partnership Page
Email:  bridleandbone@gmail.com
Phone: 732-784-7195

Heather Wallace’s Personal Website

Interested in being a part of Feature Fridays? Email me at eventerat14@gmail.com!