Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Four

Life is really busy, and unfortunately I haven't been able to photograph or write reviews on anything I owe you guys - or even begin to fix some of the old posts. We'll get there, I promise.

Cute puppy is the reason I have no time to blog

In the mean time, I figured I'd try to share a few things, both horsey and non, which are of (my) interest this week:

1. Horse Nation's Leslie Wylie got to hunt with British royalty and the whole saga makes my heart happy. Definitely worth a read!

2. I finally discovered the facebook group "English Tack Trader" and it's a problem. I did get a nice pair of Kerrits Sit Tight breeches for 50-some bucks, though, so...

3. I made this amazing bread last weekend and while I have an ugly, annoying burn on the back of my hand from the oven, it was totally worth it. It didn't rise as well as it could have, but still made delicious toast as promised.

4.  This song has been my jam for the past few weeks, riding wise, relationship wise and life wise. We've had an exciting few weeks with Atlas home (he is cute, though, right?!) and we have a few more busy weeks... and then it's show season... so I'm going to be busy forever. Enjoy the song.

Have a great weekend, folks!

Sleeping puppy picture for you!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Warning: Construction Zone


It's been a while. I've been staring at this blog, that I've been pouring my experience and my preferences and my favorite things into for the past few years, and... I've been missing this blog.

This blog began as a way to help new horse owners - like my close barn friend, Jen, who was coming back into horses after years away from the hobby/sport/addiction and had a billion, zillion questions. And I wanted to help, so I offered my advice. And in writing that advice down, I realized that I could help other people, too.

And I do like helping other people.

You'll notice a new tag on all of the previous posts - ALL of those posts need updates. Be it photos, or editing, or general review, I will be combing through the past posts over the next few months to get them updated and reader friendly. In the mean time, I'm going to do my best to generate some new, useful content and try to share the love on products, retailers and horse care topics. What I won't be doing, still, is writing about my riding and my horses. There is another blog, and another time for those posts - and honestly, they're probably kind of boring these days. I just can't help but want to share what I love and what works for me with my readers, and hopefully I can help the people out there who don't have an Overly Helpful Barn Friend or have a child in lessons and are discovering a sport where there isn't a handy Sports Authority nearby to outfit said child.

TL:DR - don't mind the mess, I've got some major cleaning up to do. However, it is with great joy that I look forward to more posts and more fun!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: Ovation Kenna Country Boots

The Kennas have arrived!

I will put up a more detailed review as I wear them more, but here are some initial photos and thoughts from my first weekend rocking them.

Both photos show left, without Lederbalsam, right, with. 

1. I LOVE the color. The chestnut leather with the back suede is very stylish, and while they are still a country boot and have a tough sole and functional foot, I will not hesitate to wear them to work or around town. Some buyers have complained about the lack of finesse in the foot, but if you're into country boots, they look like, well, country boots.

Again, Before and after Passier Lederbalasm. 
2. The chestnut leather on my boots came a bit distressed, but is soft and good quality. The foot is stiffer and took about 2 hours of walking and wearing to get a crease on the top of the foot. Once the crease happened, however, they were much more comfortable. I expect that they will continue to break in, and will do so beautifully.

The boots have a small brass detail on the outside and the OV insignia on the outside of both heels. There is a leather stripe down the back, as well, which should help the boots stay rigid and not collapse too much at the ankle. The chestnut leather, as you can see, has a definite patina but the whole look is very classy. 

3. So far, these boots are super easy to wear. They do move a bit on my heels but the foot bed is narrower feeling than my Dublins. However, my mom, who struggles to get into her mid-height Dublin River Boots, found these boots easy to get into (she has an ankle that was broken in the past, and getting into her Dubs appears to take effort similar to child birth sometimes...) and promptly attempted to steal them from me. For myself, I might consider a heel lift or orthotic of some kind to cup my heel better, but that thought only formed after several hours of Christmas shopping at the mall. The boots also fit my calves easily and have an awesome plaid interior that is super cute.

More review-ness will come as I've worn them more!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Winter Riding Gloves: A Comparative Review

It's that time of year again: the time to freeze your fingers taking off your gloves every three seconds because you can't function with them on.

I own a depressing collection of winter riding gloves, but my collection is your gain! Here's what I think of them:

Dublin Thinsulate Everyday Fleece Riding gloves: 

Fleece exterior, thinsulate lining, synthetic "sure grip" palm and finger protection. Cinch velcro closures at wrist.

These gloves are great for above freezing riding, but the fleece exterior is less than waterproof and windproof, and is a major downside during shedding season. They are warm and don't seem to have extraordinarily long fingers as some gloves do.

Finger Use Rating: 3/5, relatively dexterous but not waterproof, windproof or shedding proof.

SSG 10 Below Waterproof Glove:

Ribbed exterior and cuff, grippy palm with riding reinforcements and a thinsulate/fleece lining. Listed as Waterproof, I was unable to test that as one glove arrived with a hole in it (missed stitching). My gloves also have wrist hangers so you can feel like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" with your gloves on strings.

These gloves were too bulky for me to do much in - they were okay for activities like throwing hay or other manual labor, but were too thick for me to easily use snaps, buckles or other finer tasks.

Finger Use Rating: 1.5/5, one step above mittens.

Heritage Extreme Winter Gloves:

These gloves are similar to the SSG 10 Below with their ribbed exterior and knitted cuff to hold out drafts. They also feature a cell phone friendly index and thumb in addition to the thinsulate and fleece lining and waterproof protection. I like these a little better than the SSGs, though I can't put my finger (nuk nuk nuk) on why that is. These gloves also have a super cool pocket on the back to hold a hand warmer - which is great, as those buggers can burn you if put directly on skin!

Like the 10 Below's, I found these gloves to be too bulky for riding - I really hate feeling like my reins are floating in my hands between layers of fabric, and dislike feeling like I have to keep a death grip on them to have any sort of feel. These are probably perfect for western riders who neck rein or for trail riding, but aren't good for arena, dressage or jumping work.

Finger Use Rating: 1.5/5, one step above mittens.

Mountain Horse Trail Winter Glove:

I think these are the ones I have, at least. I know they're Mountain Horse, and are very similar to ski gloves you'd find in a sports store. Mine have the Ralphie-style wrist strings like the SSG 10 Below gloves, and a similar knitted cuff. Microfiber-esque exterior, and a fleece/possibly loft lining means that they aren't particularly waterproof.

These gloves were heavy - I wouldn't consider doing anything but the most basic, no dexterity needed chores in them, and riding was completely out of the question for me in these. With waterproof options on the market, I'd skip these.

Finger Use Rating: 1/5, one step above mittens AND not waterproof.

SSG Fleece Lined Winter Gripper Gloves:

These were a super cheap whim purchase, and would be great for people riding in a heated or well insulated indoor - just a bit warmer than one's standard riding gloves, these are basic and have a cozy fleece lining. My pair were SUBSTANTIALLY too large and grew annoying because of it, and have since moved on to use by my mom who has bigger hands and longer fingers. Not waterproof or windproof, these are not appropriate for chores - and wouldn't hold up, anyways.

Finger Use Rating: 5/5, in the correct size, these gloves would be no different than a summer riding glove in my opinion.

SSG Pro Show Winter Glove:

These gloves are leather with a pinched back and feature stretchy lycra material between the fingers, giving them a good close fit. They have a knit cuff to prevent wrist drafts and are thinsulate lined. These gloves are a great balance between warmth and dexterity but do fail out on the colder days, especially if it's windy. They are not bulky and I can do bridle buckles up with no issue.  With the addition of the Ovations below, these gloves will be my gloves for temps around freezing and a little below.

Finger Use Rating: 4/5 - these are not summer gloves, but they have very low bulk and do keep your fingers quite warm.

Ovation Syntac Thinsulate Winter Glove

These gloves are my newest purchase, and I'm pretty excited about them. They are a bit heavier than the Pro Shows, but are still nice and grippy and pretty darn low bulk. The exterior is grippy and stays pretty clean. The thinsulate lining appears to be augmented with a soft fleecy lining. As of right now, I'm pretty thrilled with this find, and intend them to be my gloves for the colder temps. I rode in them on a 35 degree day in our unheated, uninsulated indoor and found them to be almost too warm which was a lovely surprise!

Finger Use Rating: 3.5/5 - these are not summer gloves, but they have relatively low bulk and do keep your fingers quite warm.

Hopefully these reviews are useful and I'll keep you updated on the new Ovations!

My Boot Addiction

Riding horses has, among other weird things, taught me to appreciate good quality leather and construction. The leather on my Philippe Fontaine Royan is positively delicious and don't even get me started on my show boots, or my Courbette Vision, which will, I am convinced, be in use long after I am too old to post the trot. A love for good quality tack is one thing... but my addiction to nice leather has leaked over into my "civilian" life.

My first pair of "Country boots" as they're termed was a pair of Dublin River boots, and my experience has been relatively positive with them. They have a nice, wide foot bed and I've never had a problem getting my feet in and out of them. I wear them with wool socks and skinny jeans, and get endless complements while my feet stay warm and dry. 

I used my "Dubs" for: slogging through snow to college classes, as "every day" boots to wear around campus, to do quick runs to the barn, as my "grooming boots" before I changed into my riding boots, as rain boots and, of course, as fashion wear pretty much any time I'm not in the tack at horse shows.

These boots even made the journey with me to London, England to study abroad:

My first pair of Dublin River boots bit the dust (the heel cup broke in to pieces) after the London trip, and while I had them sewn to repair and cover the worn through and now broken heel, I replaced them with another pair. The second pair has been telling me lately that they're about to go, as well; they have lasted me about 2 years a pair when in regular wear. 

My overall opinion on the Dublins is that they would probably work better for someone with wider heels - my heels are quite narrow, and I have long, narrow, flat feet. The heels seem to consistently develop holes even when the boots themselves feel snug and I don't notice them sliding on my feet or heels. These boots are also susceptible to damp feet, which I think is what helps the lining come loose to begin with, and then the internal wearing begins. They are, all in all, a good investment for consistent, casual wear, but both wore through and began to look dry and began cracking (even with consistent use of Lederbalsam and cleaning) around the 2 year mark. 

This, of course, left me with a pickle: my boots are in the beginnings of death throes and I'm not sure I want to invest in another pair and watch then do the same thing.

I immediately began daydreaming about the Black and Chestnut Dubarry Galways; and then immediately almost vomited from the price. Currently, I use my country boots in the summers for horse shows (4 max a year) and for casual Friday wear in the fall, winter, and chilly spring at the office. Paying 500$ for a pair of boots that isn't used every day isn't something I can imagine myself affording any time soon. 

So I began looking at my options and I'm excited to say that I made a decision: the Ovation Kenna boots!

These boots were my Christmas gift to myself this year, and I look forward to reviewing them for you guys soon. I tried on the Caelin boots (black with plaid wool legs) and the Maree boots and found them both to run about where I expected:

My Dublins are 8.5s, or 40's. The 40's in both Ovation boots fit me the best, even though they say that a 40 is a size 9. The footbed seemed narrower than the Dublins, and the foot itself was thicker and more rigid. 

I'll put them to the pavement doing my Christmas shopping and throughout this winter and will get a review going soon - hopefully if you are considering a pair, my review and updates will help you decide.