Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Sad Story of Mullet Skunk Tail

I've read several blog posts, along with educational articles regarding how to manage, coax, and groom a bedraggled horse tail into a thing of beauty.  And I've done that, for one simple reason - my horse's tail looks like a skunks mullet.  I'm not proud to admit it, but it's ugly.  This is especially sad because naturally he has a very thick welsh cob tail with multi-dimensional color (I've seen too many hair color ads). 

Gavin says "please don't judge me by my tail"

It all started when Gavin was moved out to Colorado from Indiana.  After one blissful year with no skin problems, Gavin developed the most awful case of summer allergies (sweet itch possibly) that I've ever seen.  And because of these terrible allergies - he rubbed pretty much his entire tail out in about a week.  I roached his mane (which was also disgusting looking - imagine a bald rat tail, that's what that skin looked like), and delicately picked his remaining 5 strands of tail hair. 

Desperately I searched for a solution to calm my horses itchy skin and thus save his battered mane and tail.  I tried allergy shots (very expensive and didn't work AT ALL), steroids (turned him into a giant freaky douchebag that I wanted nothing to do with - yeh, I didn't buy a stallion for a reason), benadryl in mass quantities (Zzzz...Zzzz).  Nothing worked very well (well, the steroids worked, but we didn't work then, so it didn't work).  Last summer I moved him to Denver and bought an industrial strength full-body fly sheet and slathered him nightly in SWAT.  Low and behold - it sorta worked!  It at least managed to salvage his mane and tail from the brutal beating they got the previous summer. 

Now his tail is growing out (his mane is all grown out and bushy as hell, note above pic), but it looks awful!  I'm terrified to brush it or put any form of detangler in it, as I've heard it drys it out.  So here is what I'm working with:
nice shag top, followed by a thinned out mess

Check out his beautiful dappled butt ;)

 I will continue doing the only things that have been working for his tail growth, which are:
  1. Don't touch it very much
  2. Always keep him in some type of blanket/sheet/flysheet
    1. this keeps him from rubbing it too badly, and
    2. keeps his skin away from the itchy elements
I hope to have this tail more grown out by this summer, when I get to hopefully show him training level.  :)  I'll take some pics in awhile to note any more regrowth.  But until then, if anyone has any advice - I'm all ears!

Bye ya'lllll

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Death Spook

Gavin has champion feet - big, strong, and sturdy.  I've never met a farrier who didn't like Gavin's feet, or for that matter didn't like Gavin.  So it came as a shock to me when this last Thursday Gavin's farrier called me to say that Gavin misbehaved so much that he wound up not working on him and was hoping we could meet up a different day when I could be there to supervise.  What did he mean when he said misbehave?  He explained that Gavin had "run through him twice" and had broken the twine that was attached to the fence where Gavin was being worked on (his own pen).  

I was shocked!  Gavin has never pulled back so much that he's broken any sort of rope, or twine.  I was also shocked (though less so) to hear that he had pushed on the farrier that much.  Gavin can get a little bit pushy, but I've never thought it was malicious, or something that couldn't be fixed quickly with a growl or some maneuvering.  I agreed to meet-up with the farrier this Saturday (and agreed silently to myself that I'd get out there early to school my horse, and teach him some proper manners before the farrier arrived).

When Saturday came it seemed so silly though because Gavin was a sweetheart.  I went out there to slay some fire-breathing Gavin (haha - get it?! dragon and gavin sorta rhyme), and finished with him like "well that was uneventful!"  The farrier worked on him with no problem (besides Gavin seeming a little bored).  I did notice that he looked sort of scared.  Just in his face.  His eyes looked worried, and his ears moved worriedly.  I didn't know what to make of it, but then the farrier told me that the other day a horse was put down just a few yards from Gavin right before he went to work on him.  I know where the horse lives that was put down, and Gavin can definitely smell, if not see her from his pen (where he was to be trimmed).  

And it made me wonder - was Gavin misbehaving in such an odd way because he was afraid?  If he had just watched another horse be surrounded by humans and then collapse dead, maybe he had (has) the ability to fear that the same was about to happen to him?  It's just a thought... and I'm not sure if it holds any water, or if he was truly just being a little pisser.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Long Awaited Package

My beautiful boots showed up yesterday.  Yes, mom, my "nazi" boots arrived (that's what she called them yesterday when asking if I'd gotten them yet), very PC, I know.  They were sitting next to my front porch, hidden behind a flower planter.  I was glad to see that the UPS guy had hidden them from view from the street.  The neighborhood I live in isn't the best, and the idea of some little rapscallion stealing my dressage boots (something I doubt they'd appreciate) was freaking me out the whole drive home.
So, the question is - do they fit?  The short answer is - sort of.  They fit around my calf like a glove, the actual shoe portion fits my foot fine, they fit my ankle alright (I saw complaints that the ankle was too narrow, and so I was worried because I've always thought my ankles were borderline cankley), but they are talllllll.
I wore them around for about 2 hours yesterday (no riding, just walking and squatting).  They softened up a lot in those 2 hours, which gives me hope that they will at some point in the future fit me height wise.

As you can see, the ankle is pretty narrow.  Because of the tapered ankle I was told that they would likely not drop very much.  The SmartPak lady told me to expect 1/2 an inch of drop.  The Tredstep lady who wrote me back told me to expect anywhere from 1 - 1.5 inches.  I'm hoping for an inch or so of drop.  *fingers crossed*

Overall, I'm thrilled to pieces!  They're beautiful and soft, though not wonderful smelling (I'll like them better when they smell like the sides of my pony); plus Shawn thinks I look sexy in them which is always a plus.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Erika and the Dream of Horses

It's likely that no one who reads this (I like to pretend that someone is reading it) will know the Belle and Sebastien song "Judy and the Dream of Horses", but it's great, and poppy, and about a girl dreaming about horses.  And that's what I feel like tonight.  It's been a really long work week for me (and it isn't even quite over), and though I desperately wanted to go see my boy tonight, I also was falling asleep while driving home at 4.  I think rest is what I really need.  But even though I'm not out seeing my boy, I'm still dreaming of him.  So I've decided to do some of those nifty horsey questionnaires.

1. What is your favorite breed/s of horse, and if you could purchase a new horse what breed would it be?

Well this is a total no-brainer.  I loooooove Welsh Cobs, and if I had to purchase another horse - it would be another Welsh Cob.  Smart.  Sweet.  Eager.  Charming.  Athletic.  I could go on, but I don't want to brag... ;)

2. What is your favorite personal tack item?

My Wintec dressage saddle.  Rides great.  Fits my roly-poly pony great - he has never once seemed sore from it.  Great price point.  The only issue I have is that it isn't quite as sharp looking as a leather saddle. 

3. Horse products you swear by?

There are a couple that I can think of.  Probably the most toxic, but useful product I've ever used is SWAT.  My pony gets terrible sweet itch in the summer (think bald pony), and loses all of his hair in his ears, and on his face if I don't keep them protected.  Swat keeps a lot of the pests away so long as I apply it daily.

Another horsey product I love is my boy's Rambo Medium weight Wug turnout.  He stays warm on the cold nights, and it isn't so heavy that he's drenched in sweat when it gets a little bit warmer during the days.  Also, he is renowned for being extremely hard on his blankets - and I'm going to jinx myself here - but he not caused a single tear in that blanket, and has been wearing it for 3 months now.

4. Rider products or items you swear by?

I love Kerritts tights for riding.  Full seat breeches look great, but I find the tights to be really comfortable and light.  They're also very durable, and come in some pretty spunky colors.

5. Favorite tack catalogs to shop from?

SmartPak alllll the way.  Dover innundates you with catalogs, and I now throw them all away because SmartPak offers most of the same equipment, at the same price, but with great customer service and NO shipping if you order anything over $45 (I believe), but lets face it - if you're buying horse gear, you've got to be spending more than $50. ;)

6. Is your home decorated "horsey", as in western or equestrian-themed?

No, I have very few horsey-decorations.  Just isn't my style at home.  I like my home more on the modern side.  But I'll take my barn as horsey as they come!

7. Do you wear horse, Western, or equestrian-themed jewelry?

Again - no.  I don't really wear any jewelry.  I wouldn't be totally opposed to something little and horsey, but it wouldn't be something I'd go out looking for.

8. A style of riding you'd like to try sometime?

I would love to go fox hunting (with no real fox of course).  I would love the camraderie, the classic style, the history behind it, the nature.  I think my pony would be game for it as well.  It's actually on my bucket list to participate in a fox hunt, and I can't wait to cross that one off.  :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Irish Penpal

You won't believe it.  Tredstep wrote me back.  I woke up this morning like it was Christmas (which may say something sad about my life) because I thought there may be something from them and ta-da!! There was!  Here is their response:

"Hi Erika,

Thank you for your query.

We’re disappointed that you didn’t seem to find something that fits you. We offer five calf sizes for each foot size which is why we are usually able to fit such a wide variety of riders, I’ve attached the size chart for the Raphael boothttp://www.tredstep.com/prod_boots_raph.html did the store measure you and perhaps the best fitting size just wasn’t in stock? The boots are supposed to be fitted very snugly against your leg.

I’m not sure that this will help you but we are launching a Donatello Dress Boot which will be out in March and this may offer more stretch across the back than the Raphael boot would? May I also suggest that if the height is an issue which you seemed to mention in your mail, that each boot is supplied with a set of heel risers which you can insert under the insole until the boot drops, it usually drops approximately 1.5inches.

On another note, you sound very normal height and weight wise, very similar to myself.

Kind regards,


This made me feel such a sense of customer loyalty that I spoke to a SmarkPak (a seller of Tredstep) sales representative today to discuss whether or not the tredstep would work for me.  They suggested I give it a try even though it seems that the calf size that fits me is pretty tall for my leg.  Its possible the boot could drop enough. 

I feel a bit like a drama queen for my initial post, but I really did cry, and I really was upset.  I'm worried that the boots won't fit, but after that well thought-out response I got I figured I ought to give it them a go.

On a different note, the SmarkPak sales rep, Jennifer, was so incredibly helpful and patient.  She spoke with me, and showed me different options for close to 45 minutes (all through chat - mind you).  SmarkPak is sooooo the way to go (over Dover).  No, this isn't a paid advertisement.  But seriously,  they have the same prices as Dover, but great customer service and NO SHIPPING charges!  Booya.  I'll be getting these boots in a week and will be wearing them around the house constantly to hopefully break them in (this is your warning Shawn).  :)  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Happy Rider Cries Over Boots - The Goldilocks Syndrome

The title says it all.  I cried over tall boots this weekend.  I could have cried over the price; I could have cried over their beauty; I could have cried over the pain they cause when being broken in, but I didn't.  I cried because I couldn't find a pair that fit me, and it was humiliating, disappointing, and frustrating.  I have been shopping around for a nice pair of boots for a couple months, because I figured it would take me both Chrismas and my birthday to be able to gather enough gift certificates to be able to afford even half of a pair (and I was right).  I found a pair that were not only beautiful, but got wonderful reviews. 

When I went to order I dutifully got out my measuring tape and had my ever-so-sweet boyfriend help me measure the height between the base of my foot and my knee-pit (ewwww), and also measure around the fattest part of my calf.  I then went to their size chart and realized that there was no way in horsey-tall-boot-hell that I was going to be buying these boots.  My legs were not only too short for these boots, but they were too wide *cough* fat *cough* to squeeze into these boots. 

I then went to my next choice, and then my next choice.  All to no avail.  And then I burst into tears.  How exactly was I supposed to show my adorable creature this summer without boots?  Boots that I could now buy, but couldn't fit into.  I queried on google, and was told to seek out a brand called "Fuller Fillies" (YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME?!?! Who would name their brand that?).  Fuller fillies came back TOO big.  I was told to look at Mountain Horse - and sure, they have big calf sizes, but they are made for women much taller than me.  I know... I'm starting to sound like Goldilocks here (one was too big, one was too small, one was too tall).

I finally found a pair that was $150.00 more than I wanted to spend, and I won't even be getting them until late Spring.  Because guess what?  They're backordered on them.  HA!  At least one company is making money off of all of us average sized people.

Today I wrote an email to the company that I've been coveting for the last two months, and so it reads:

"Hi Tredstep Sales Department,
This is sort of an odd thing to write, but I wanted to let you know that for the last 2 months I have been ogling your Raphael tall boots.  As a dressage rider on a budget I waited patiently for gift cards to Dover Saddlery (one of your sellers) so that I could purchase these beautiful boots!  Once I went to purchase I realized that not a single pair of your boots would fit me.  I am by no means overweight, and would also consider myself of average height at 128 lbs and 5'4". 
I realize that you can only create a certain number of sizes, and that all riders are of different proportion, but I don't think most girls who wear a size 6.5 shoe are also much taller than me, much skinnier than me, and with much, much longer legs. 
I wound up ordering a pair of Petrie Olympic Dressage Boots which are $150 more than your boots, and also got lower ratings; so obviously, this wasn't my first choice.
And now, you're probably like "shut up fattie, our boots are made for girls who are taller and skinnier than you" and that's fine, but I was just thinking you guys may want to consider offering a boot that is both shorter in length and wider around the calf for us girls who would love to buy your boots if given the opportunity (meaning if they were available to us).


I don't know what I hope to get from sending out this email, except hopefully to let this company know that they missed out on a sale simply because they cater to what seems to me only very long-legged, very slender-legged females. 

Boot rant over.