First, the good news: show clothes still fit! Including the white breeches!
Explain to me: fly bonnets?
We are finally entering serious bug season here in Vermont. (Though, it has been getting into the low 40s and high 30s at night, so maybe that will ease off again.)
Once upon a time, Tristan wore a fly bonnet for every outdoor ride. See, when bugs land on his face, he loses his little mind. He flings his head in every possible direction. He snorts. He prances. He shakes and shakes and shakes.
He is remarkably tolerant of me using a dressage whip to flick them off, so that’s often what I do, along with riding when the bugs are less, or inside, or just sucking it up.
(I just looked and looked and can’t find a photo of Tris in his fly bonnet, so you will have to take my word for this.)
Here’s the problem though: the fly bonnet does not stay on his head. No matter how I snug it under his bridle, no matter how I wrap the string around the straps of the bridle, no matter how much I reach forward and tug it back into place while we’re riding, it does.not.stay.put.
Relatively quickly into every ride with it, he gives a really good long shake, and it flies off, usually falling forward over his eyes. Thankfully, he doesn’t care all that much, but it’s next to impossible to get back into place from the saddle, and then it’s even more dislodged, and stays an even shorter period of time, etc.
It’s a cheap basic fly bonnet that I probably bought at Dover Saddlery at least 10 years ago, before they were all cool. White, with cotton fabric ears and crocheted cotton headpiece. It has tassels that used to be longer before someone trimmed them, something about they were hanging in his eyes and looked terrible. 😛
What am I doing wrong? Is Tristan just not meant to be one of the cool kids who can accessorize with a fly bonnet? Is it a fit problem?
Helmet Shopping: The Results
Spoiler alert! I came home from my trip to Boston last week (and of course a stop by Smartpak), walked in the door, and announced to my fiance that I had found the sexiest piece of riding gear I have ever bought.
(He said, “I don’t even know what it is and that is blatantly false.” Luckily I found a boy who appreciates breeches…)
Thank you all SO much for your thoughtful, eloquent, and incredibly useful feedback on my helmet search. I read every comment multiple times, made notes, scoured websites, and thought a lot. I was ready to tackle the new helmet fitting process.
First: a moment of silence for my old helmet, which did yeoman’s work and came the closest of any helmet I have ever owned to lasting until its expiration date, rather than being put out of commission by a fall.
What helmet should I buy?
So, I fell off my horse. I fell mostly onto my hip and back, but in the rolling followup I smacked the back of my head against the ground, too.
It was a relatively minor fall – helmet didn’t crack, no real headache, anything like that.
The helmet was already nearing the end of its useful life, however – the sticker inside said it was manufactured in November 2011 – and I am a firm subscriber to the rule of replacing your helmet whenever it gets hit.
In the past, I’ve mailed the helmet back to the company, used a backup (usually my show helmet), and then paid the nominal fee to replace it through the company. I’ve done this at least three or four times with IRH, and been very happy with that process. (Did you know you can and should do that? It’s an important part of product research so that we can make helmets better and safer.)
After a marathon day spent trying on every single helmet at Dover Saddlery about 8 years ago, I’ve been loyal to one particular helmet: the IRH Air-Lite Dura Soft Touch.
Help me find a new iPhone case
About six weeks ago, I took Arya for a hike in Groton State Park. We were out for about an hour and a half having a lovely time. I stopped on a bridge and thought wow, that waterfall is lovely, overrun with spring melt. I took a careful step to the middle of the bridge, had Arya sit, took out my iPhone, and took a picture.
I’m not sure what happened next. It just slipped out of my fingers, bounced, and then vanished. I stared at the edge of the bridge for a couple of seconds, and then clambered down the bank. Arya sat patiently by the side of the stream but as I perched on slick, mossy rocks and fished around in the stream with my hand, I thought, this is how those news stories start. The stream was running high, it was rocky, and there was no one for miles.
So we left my phone there, somewhere, and headed to the Verizon store, where I handed over my credit card and got a new phone. Mostly, it’s been fine.
I bought a cheapo wallet case at Walmart for $2, which has been doing its job, but I am going to need something more substantial.
That’s where you all come in!
I’d like this case to have a little more personality than my last iPhone case, which was a verrrry basic black Incipio slide-on case. It basically looked like a slightly thicker iPhone.
Ideally, I’d like a horsey-themed iPhone case. I’ve looked around and found some possible candidates, but nothing is jumping out at me. My first stop was DappleBay, but it looks like they discontinued their iPhone cases. Boooooo. I emailed them in hopes that there was some back stock, but never got a response. Double booooooooo.
Then, I headed to Etsy.
They ranged from the meh.
To the kind-of weird (why is that cowgirl riding an extended trot? anyone?)
But what sticker?
Help me, internets. Do you have a horse-themed phone cover? Do you like it? Is there one you’ve always coveted?
Got Issues? I am your worst nightmare.
Amanda’s post at The $900 Facebook Pony got me thinking and remembering. So many of you have quirks and things that you’re OCD about around the barn.
I get that! I really do! I have a few myself: I triple check stall doors and gates, I really like a nicely swept aisle, etc. You better believe that when I muck out a stall it’s clean to the bones, and as the barn manager recently said when I told her about my endless night check, “So you OCD’d out a little bit, didn’t you?”
Here’s the thing though: there are a whole lot of things that everyone cared very much about that it never occurred to me to even think about, or at least be bothered by.
Tristan’s bridle path hasn’t been trimmed in 4+ months. I honestly can’t remember the last time I figure-8’d my bridle. (Yes, that’s a verb now.) It’s been 3+ months since I cleaned tack, which, to be fair, I haven’t really been using it. Forget trimming fetlocks. I wear breeches and barn clothes into the ground, and then I wear them a few more times, and then I wash them, except in cases of extreme filth or sweat. Usually they’re secondhand anyway, or at the very least off the clearance rack.
I have never, not once, not a single time in almost 10 years, pulled Tristan’s mane. Not a single hair.
Also, it falls naturally to the left. So I leave it there. I’ve never had more than a passing thought of training it over.
Ready for the one that would drive most of you absolutely crazy?
The moral of the story is, I can’t be bothered and would probably drive most of you insane if you boarded with me.
In my defense, my horse is happy, healthy, never wants for anything, and I work my ass off to make sure he has what he needs. I just…don’t have that gene that needs everything around the barn to be Just Right. Neat? Clean? Relatively presentable? In immaculate shape when we’re showing? Hell yes. Any other time? Meh.
Explain to Me: Belts?
Many years ago, I was a Pony Club DC. I loved it. Pony Club to me still represents the highest possible standard of horsemanship. Ever since then, I’ve jumped at chances to stay involved, which mostly means judging at ratings, and since I am nobody’s idea of a dressage or jumping judge, that means a lot of stable management and turnout inspections. I love doing them.
Pony Club requires – at a certain level of turnout – belts.
I have literally never worn a belt in my life. Not on my everyday pants, and not on my breeches.
I understand the background behind Pony Club requirements, and I once saw it with my own eyes. I arrived at the county fairgrounds just about ten years ago and as I walked over to the stabling area I heard “loose horse!” Around the corner came barreling a gelding who belonged to one of my kids. He was D-O-N-E, despite typically being a solid citizen.
He spied me, and my trainer, who was standing next to us, and he went faster, right toward us. We did what you do when presented with a loose horse: make yourself big, hold your hands out wide, and talk in a low, soothing voice. He skidded to a halt in front of us, obviously relieved, and in that moment my trainer took off her belt and in one smooth motion put it around his neck and re-buckled it. She led him like that back to the barn, where he was put back in his stall to think about what he’d done while I interrogated the kid.
I often think “that was really practical and useful” and it’s the reason I’ve kept a halter and lead rope in every car I’ve ever owned, and always keep a lead rope near to me when I’m hauling horses, even if they’re not my own.
But every time I wear a belt all I can think is how awful they are. They cut into my stomach. They make the fabric of my pants all bendy and wrinkled and uncomfortable. Then the pants slip down and the belt is just on my skin and the belt loops are inverted and EVERYTHING IS AWFUL.
I love the look of them, especially the adorably styled ones that are starting to come out. I admit, my heart goes pitter-patter when I see a coordinated polo and belt. It’s such a nice, trim, turnout. I am jealous of all of you who wear them and shop for them and look awesome in them. Every so often I think I should get one and wear one and then I think about the feeling of a belt on the skin of my stomach and how much I want to set them on fire inside of fifteen minutes.
So: why do you wear belts? Am I doing it all wrong? Should I try again?
Do you shop in barn clothes?
Inspired by this recent cartoon from The Idea of Order:
A Visit to the SmartPak Retail Store
I’ve heard more than one person say that they had no idea SmartPak had a retail store, so I’m here to enlighten you: yes, Virginia, SmartPak maintains one retail store. It’s on Route 9 in Wellesley, Massachusetts – ironically, not too far from the original Dover Saddlery store. (At least I’m about 99% sure it was the first, anyway.)
I walked in to the SmartPak retail intending to return, in person, a pair of breeches that had been a gift but did not fit, and maybe try on some new pairs. (I am visiting family nearby.)