Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Boot Saga Continues (and Soonie is amazing)

Okay, so I'm still in Boot Hell and I don't know why.  I ordered the Ariat boots in cognac (yay brown boots!), and according to the sizing on the website, ordered a full calf.  Yes, my ego took a hit on that one, but I was squarely within the full calf sizing based on foot size.  But they showed up yesterday and were baggy in the calf.  Ego restored!  I ordered the regular calf, and will send the pair of boots back that doesn't fit as well.  The previous zippered Ariats I had were regular calf so I'm not exactly sure why the sizing had me in full in this pair, but I'm hoping regular calf in the next pair will be the winner.  Whatever.  On a positive note, the boots were soft, they were super comfortable and rideable straight out of the box.  I'm in love.  Can't wait for the regular calf boots to arrive.  At $399, I don't expect these boots to last more than a few years, but I'll take what I can get right about now.

Poofy at the calf...


The Dehners...I'm having an issue making a decision on these things.  On one hand, they fit well in the foot and are comfortable to wear (foot wise).  On the other hand, they have never been even remotely snug on my leg.  While it's been 15-ish years since I last broke in a pair of pull-on boots, I do remember all of my boots ranging from snug to downright agonizing to wear at first.  They then stretched a bit with wear and worked in well, but I've never had a pair be so loose to begin with to the point I don't even feel anything on the calf at all.  So...I believe that to be a problem.

They also appear to be too short.  They've had minimal contact with the back of my knee from the beginning; there's only a slight crease now after several rides, and they're at least a 1/2" below the back of my knee and they haven't even dropped yet.  When they do, I expect they'll be at least 1" below the back of the knee, which is going to make them comically short despite the Italian top.  I know I said earlier that I didn't care about them being short, but between that and the gappiness in the calf, I'm beginning to wonder what I'm even doing.  Also look at how much the top sticks out from the side of my leg.  Yep.

Preeeeety sure they're not supposed to look like this after 4 rides
I sent an email back to the folks at Dehner (who have been amazing) discussing all of the above.  I don't know what to do; do I send them back and have Dehner add them to their "orphan room" and hopefully some lucky soul buys them for a reduced price?  Or do I continue to break them in and hope they shape some, and alterations can be made once they're broken in?  But I don't see how they can be altered to fix the height issue.  The boots have to go back to Omaha at some point because the swagger tabs were left off.  So the real question is, do I want them back?  Do I want a whole new pair of boots?  I suppose I'll get that question answered when I talk to Dehner later.  I'm not happy with the fit and I don't know if alterations will take care of the issues, or if a whole new pair will have to be constructed.  And if that's going to cost me more this point, I'm not sure I want it.  I've wanted Dehners for years, and after some time in the hunt field I grew especially fond of them.  I bought these with the intention of them lasting me 15, maybe 20 years.  But my first custom boot experience hasn't resulted in a great fit, and I'm kind of lost on these things right now.

I also think maybe my taste in boots is changing, and I'm stuck in-between opinions.  I used to HATE the slim cut/"painted on" look of today's modern zippered boots.  Traditionally, I've preferred the more traditional look of pull-on boots, which look less tailored down the line of the leg.  They look more like BOOTS.  And these Dehners are beautiful BOOTS.  But I'm having a hard time for some reason getting used to their roomier appearance below the calf and I keep looking at the zippered boots and thinking maybe I like those lines better.  But I hate zippers.  I've not had positive experiences with zippers and like the idea of pull-ons.  But I spent a solid 10 minutes wrestling my pull-on Dehners off my sweaty legs today, pretty sure I pulled some muscles doing it, and I remembered why breaking in pull-on boots SUCKS.

Somebody tell me what to do because I am useless!!!

Changing subjects...
Soon has been great, so that's good to know.  He got an A+ on his dental visit on Tuesday, where he got his annual power float.  I got his vaccination record and Coggins ready to go; the new barn is ready for our arrival next week and we have shipping arranged!  Still super sad to leave the current barn, but they're throwing us a cookout going-away party (love these people!) and we're close enough that I hope to visit for clinics in the future.  Or maybe I'll get another TDY up here again and will be happy to rejoin the family for another stint. :)

Hi Handsome! :)

It's been hot, and seeing that Soonie lost weight last year with early heatwaves, I've been taking it easy.  He got three days off, and yesterday and today we did some light flat schools.  Yesterday we just did an easy walk/trot stretchy school, and today we did walk/trot/canter out in the hay field with two changes and he was phenomenal.  Up and out, felt great, and since he was on point (as he usually is), we kept it around 25 minutes in the 85-ish weather.  That's definitely hot for us, especially this time of year, so I'm hoping not to push anything until we've both had a chance to adjust.  He is adorable as ever and I love my quiet afternoons at the barn.  :)

His post-itch stance

Enjoying his evenings with Maresy

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Retail Therapy

So I just spent more money at SmartPak, because SmartPak. 

But first let me tell you the story of my cheapo Ariat zip ups that I bought in Middleburg last summer.  You know those ones I got for like $190, so I picked them up as schooling boots.  Yeah, the zipper on the left boot began to fail above the ankle in February.  Not at the calf where the boot is widest (and presumably under the most stress from the zipper's standpoint, I don't know), but just above the ankle.  I cleaned the zipper best I could, which helped, but it kept splitting.  So I took it to the local cobbler to have him install new zippers.  Never again.

I walked in and requested a full-length elastic to be installed with the zipper.  But this guy refused, and assured me that his zippers are heavy duty and don't need that elastic crap.  They wouldn't split.  Elastic would make the boots look bad.  He guaranteed his work.  Okay.  So instead of turning around and walking out because the guy adamantly refused to do what I asked, I (like an idiot) agreed and handed over the boots to have him install new zippers with no elastic.  Two weeks later I came back when I was told, and the boots weren't done.  Zippers hadn't arrived.  I came back a week later as agreed upon, and zippers were not installed, we checked the fit and he told me one more week.  I was annoyed, but I preferred double checking the fit (I requested an additional 1/4" in the calf). 

I came back a week later and it took exactly 30 seconds for BOTH zippers to fail in the calf and split.  I went from having one boot with an issue at the ankle, to two boots that failed at the calf.  To add insult to injury, we couldn't get the right zipper back down, so he had to cut that one off.  I tried to explain that the boots didn't feel any tighter or different in the calf from before, but now they were splitting where that wasn't the problem before, that the zippers aren't solid, but he insisted that my leg got fat.  He stood there and in the company of other customers insisted to me that the only explanation was that my legs were fatter than I originally thought.

I gave up.  Told him to replace the zipper on the right boot again, and gave them to a barn friend seeing that the work was already paid for.  The guy refused to do what I originally asked, insisted on another course of action that failed miserably, and I wasn't going to sink any more money into some not-great-quality boots.  I was pissed and just left without really letting on how upset I was.  The boots didn't feel any tighter.  And I suppose if the fit in my OTHER TWO PAIRS OF TALL BOOTS had changed, then I would agree with the guy.  But they haven't.  So I'm not sure what happened, but those zip-up Ariats are gone, and I'm sitting here soaking my Dehners again so I can take them to the barn this afternoon and ride in them for the first time. 

So where does retail therapy come in?  I just bought a pair of brown Ariats that I've been lusting over for awhile.  They will be my new schoolers while I save the black Dehners for more formal things like clinics and shows.  My ancient Frankenstein Ariats will finally retire for good (I may have to throw them away to prevent myself from digging them up again), and I'll have two pairs of boots to rotate through.  I also picked up brown spur straps, a new brown and navy blue halter for Soonie, some boot covers, and gel bands.  And another pair of breeches because I love blue Tailoreds. 

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Truck Time!

I made the decision a couple of months ago to go ahead and buy a truck when my current lease on my sedan expired.  I'm a Chevy girl.  I've driven Ford F-250 diesels in the past and liked them, but this is MY truck and I like a Chevy.  I settled on the Silverado 2500HD with Duramax diesel (with Allison transmission).  It'll be big, it'll be black, and it'll be a hauling machine.

Helloooo gorgeous!

At 3/4 tons with the diesel, it's probably "more truck" than I'd actually require, but it's always better to have more truck than you need when pulling is concerned, so I'm happy I settled on the bigger truck.  A 1500 would be adequate, but I don't want that.  I hope to get a 2-horse gooseneck trailer sometime in the next year; if I have to settle for bumperpull so be it, but I'd like to snatch a decent GN since that's what I really want and like.  They haul better and everyone is happier that way.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a shortage of available black 2500HD diesels with a double cab (plenty of crew cabs, but screw crew cabs), so this beast has to be ordered.  So 8-10 weeks from now I'll be the excited new owner of the first piece of my horsey independence puzzle. 

Saturday Stick Jumping Day

I've been partaking in the Angry Orchard, so I apologize ahead of time if this sounds buzzed.  Because I totally am right now.  Also I'm jazzed to watch the Devon live feed so YES LET'S TALK ABOUT HORSES JUMPING OVER STICKS.

Last weekend the barn family all pitched in to get the jumps painted and finished, and they look great!  I had my quality time with the primer and also the work on the breast cancer awareness jump, so having managed to NOT wreck any of that, I feel like I contributed my share.  Soon and I got to jump for the first time in several weeks back on Wednesday?  Or Thursday...anyway he was really great to the jumps despite being complete distracted by life as soon as we stopped to take a break.  More turnout swaps were causing him some stress, and he yelled his dainty little head off the entire time when he wasn't pointed at a jump.  It was actually a very useful school - taught me that he can easily work through being "up" and yell-y, and concentrate at the job at hand when I ask him.  Should make horse shows easier because I know now just to ride him through it and not give it any additional energy.

We jumped again today, and while he was a little more forward and a bit more in "jumper mode" than before, he was still excellent.  He got his lead changes on the flat during his warm up, cleanly both ways, and did everything I asked to the fences.  I know I need to ride him with more pace; a quality canter gets us there 90% of the time.  The other 10% is just a matter of closing the hand for a shorter distance, or closing the leg for the longer one.  Either way, he goes where I tell him and he was totally game today.  I had the pink fence up around 3' or 3'3" and it was easy for him.  He jumped the barrels and the tires, didn't peek at either.  He is so easy to the jumps it's really almost mind-blowing.  I'm so thankful for a horse who just goes unless he truly does not understand the question; and even then, he tells you loud and clear.

Afterward I hung out with him in the turnout to snap some photos.  Twice now he's come running up to me outside; realistically, it's him being a little off-center from the other turnout swaps, but the overly sentimental owner lady part of me likes to think it's because he wuv wuv wuvs me.  <3   Or he just knows I have a carrot.

Countdown 2-ish weeks before we move back home.  I'm excited for the future, but I've truly enjoyed our barn family here and am sad to leave.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

New Chapter, New Beginnings

Soonie and I are about to start a new, extremely exciting chapter!  We're headed back home early next month, because a great new job opened up at my permanent assignment and I'm looking forward to this important opportunity.  Taking the job, though, sped up my barn search by about a month and a half, and I did enter a brief panic mode about a week ago.

I am up front about Soon's cribbing, and as a result, I've had several barns decline my boarding inquiry.  I'm almost a little shocked at how resistant boarding barns are these days, but not being a barn owner, I guess I cannot judge them for making that decision.  And due to traffic patterns, it seems like a lot of the quality options are not a realistic daily drive, and the ones that are reasonable distance-wise only offer full training board ($1200-1600 per month) as an option.  Suffice it to say, I was quickly running out of options and was beginning to get nervous about what to do with Soon.  And by nervous, I mean almost full-out freak mode and down to one legitimate option before blind panic set in.

Thankfully, something truly wonderful happened.  I reached out to a local, well-respected private farm and they wanted to discuss boarding possibilities.  I drove down today, met the owners, toured the farm, discussed everything at length, and I'm happy to report that Soon and I will be moving there in a month!   I feel like this is the professional environment I was looking for, with the added bonus of a smaller, private farm feel.  They were wonderful, friendly, down-to-earth people who clearly love their horses and don't mess around.  I feel super blessed tonight that these people have welcomed Soon and I to their family!

Until then, we're happy at our current barn, and sad to leave what has been an outstanding temporary situation.  The care has been solid, no unwanted advice and yet a very supportive, fun, and friendly atmosphere.  I am very thankful for this barn manager for her hard work and love for her horses.  It's a wonderful thing to have had Soonie with me in this the last few months; he has been my center, and my sanity.  I'm glad that there are genuine horsemen that we got to meet during our time here.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

War Horse Spotlight #2

I've found two more war horses I'd like to feature on this blog in the hopes that someone is reading.

First horse up is one I can't stop looking at, and comes from CANTER Illinois, the organization that listed Soon.  Rags Old Iron is a ten year old, Florida-bred with 59 career starts and a little over $89,000 in lifetime earnings.  He has been trail ridden and even been out fox hunting!  His off the track experience makes him a valuable commodity.  He looks very much like an old soul - described as quiet, professional, and easy to handle.  The average OTTB buyer may not be interested in a ten year old, but I hope that the right person is open to an "older" horse and what he still has to offer.

I mean seriously...this is the second most polite track jog ever, right behind Soonie's:

I can't stop looking at his ad, his photos, and videos.  I wish I could afford two horses, because Rags is exactly the type of horse I appreciate.  He's proven his worth on and off the track and is just a lovely type.  I hope that someone wonderful snatches this boy up and gives him a great life.  He and horses like him deserve nothing less.  I can imagine him in a number of different careers, but he fits so well in the hunt field in my mind.

Video under tack:

Horses going by, horses losing their shit on the hot walker, and he does not care.

Go Rags Go!

Next horse is Soon's half brother!  Tenastrike (KY) has 41 career starts, has earned over $68,000, and is retiring due to soreness.  There are bone spurs in both knees and arthritic changes.  Sounds like he's ok for flat work only, probably just pleasure riding, but potential for something more consistent with time off and/or treatment.  He is a handsome guy, has the same intelligent expression that Soon has, and I would bet that he's also a very sociable, personable horse based off the trainer's description.  Need a pleasure horse or a low level dressage prospect?  Check him out!  Uphill and has a great walk!  Unfortunately visibly sore in the trot...

Virginia Gold Cup 2015

Had an absolute blast at the 2015 Virginia Gold Cup thanks to my most excellent horsey friend and her connections with their Member's Hill tent!  The weather was perfect, the horses were beautiful (my former employer and her groom won best turned out in their race...sadly they did not win, but dammit the horse looked great), the colors were bright and the hats were a plenty.  I missed Gold Cup (both of them) so much.  Virginia horse country is truly an amazing wonderland of fun. 

We skipped the Derby shenanigans in favor of returning home and watching the full program on DVR.  Most excellent choice and a perfect end to the day!