Friday, January 23, 2009

Things to avoid with Saddle Pads

A couple weeks ago, I found a saddle pad that I thought would work really well and wouldn't an arm and two legs. It arrived today, after being on back order. I was quite excited about it and ripped open the package to take a closer look at it. It took only a matter of seconds to realize I would be sending said saddle pad right back to the retailer. On the underside of the pad, the material was fine as long as the pad was laid open, but as soon as you folded it in half, much like it would sit across the horses back, the material bunched into a large lump that ran the length of the pad... on both side so essentially there was a lump of material that would dig in to the horses rib cage. Not only that , once the rider was in the saddle and the additional pressure from the riders' leg would only add to the problem.. can you say SORE HORSE???

I thought maybe it was a defect in the one I received but the more in inspected it, the more it became obvious that the pad was stitched incorrectly and done while the pad was laid out flat most likely. No one thought about what the material would do when it was folded.

The Unbounded Round 28in X 29in is the pad to avoid and is sold by Stateline tack. Other than this, I have had very good luck with all the other products I have purchased over the years so this won't keep me from doing business with them in the future.

I was quite dissappointed needless to say , but I should have known I was playing with fire with the price they were selling these for!

So , if anyone else is considering the pad... My advice? don't bother. Now I have to pay to ship the blasted thing back and you can bet they will recieve a detailed explanation of why I am sending it back.

So what's next? Back to using what I know works. The 100% wool felt pad... that costs alot more....but worth every penny...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wishful Thinking...

I know this post is going to be off season a bit but what can I say….I was inspired. Over the weekend I had to run into one of the box stores, one of least favorite tasks, to pick up a few items. I couldn’t help but notice the seasonal section was already filling with patio furniture, umbrellas and bug spray… bug spray??? Isn’t it a bit early I thought??
Retailers are always trying to be ahead of the curve I suppose. Unfortunately, as soon as I stepped back out to the parking lot, my daydreaming about warm summer days were promptly ripped away by the 25 degree weather and icy parking lot. Springtime??? no sign of it yet ...just wishful thinking.

As I drove away, I left thinking about that Bug spray… While I complain about the cold now, it won’t be long and I will be scratching and complaining about the mosquitoes and all the other winged devils that torture the horses. There isn’t much out there for mosquitoes for horses but for flies???? There are more choices than most of us know what to do with? It’s akin to buying cold medicine these days.

A couple of years ago I started experimenting with home made natural fly spray. I figured if I thought that the commercial off the shelf brands smelled putrid, I could only imagine what the horses must think. I started to realize something was wrong when the horses would run as far away from me as soon as they caught sight of me headed their direction, wielding a a halter and spray bottle.. the stuff just smells so bad……and tastes even worse if your a bad aim like me….hahaha.

Not only that, I couldn’t even pronounce half of the ingredients and I just thought maybe it would be better if I could avoid putting chemicals on my horses. As an added insult, it’s pretty expensive stuff for a relatively small amount and most seem to stop working as before I could even get out of the corral! At one time, I tried some of the more “natural” brands out there and while they did prove better in the smell department I think it attracted the flys and knats even more.

After experimenting with a few concoctions, here is what I came up with, a homegrown recipe. Measurements are for a regular sized spray bottle. You can adjust these according to your bottle size and you may have to experiment with the amounts of essential oils for effectiveness in your area.

2-3 cups of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (available at health food stores in gallon jugs)

¼-1/2 cup of Avon Skin so Soft Original body oil (for mosquitoes) or canola oil if you prefer (canola oil repels insects by altering the outer layer of the leaf surface or by acting as an insect irritant)

15-20 drops of Citronella oil
20-30 drops of Tee Tree Oil
A few drops of Clove oil ( also helps soothe existing insect bites)
10-15 Eucalyptus Oil
10 drops of Patchouli oil ( I don’t always put this in)
Then top off with water.
Shake well before each use.

I can't promise you this is going to work 100% all the time and ofcourse you do have to reapply it, but it seems to help atleast as much as those off the shelf , if not better, especially for Mosquitoes. The best part??? If you happen to not have the spray nozzle pointed in the right direction and spray yourself in the face, you don’t have to worry about dying from ingesting some harmful chemical!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Monday Night Foot Measuring...

Do you ride bare?

Barefoot that is...I’ve been considering it since last fall for JB when he had all of his foot issues. To be honest, I kind of fought the idea at first. It just seemed like so many people were jumping on the band wagon just to jump on the bandwagon and I really try to resist the urge to become a lemming like humans seem to be prone to do. I wasn’t convinced at first that it would be a fit for JB but given his year in 2008, I knew I had to explore some other options. I guess I am a lemming afterall, but it seems the most logical solution at this point. Many serious endurance riders are having excellent results.

I was looking at the Renegades but for 2009 , Easy Care has the makings of a big leap for the Easy Boot product with three new products. The price for the Easy Care product is also more aligned with my budget as well. The new boots are still warm from the desert trail testing and the buzz about them is encouraging. The results seem impressive. If you follow the news on the blog on Easy Care’s website, you probably have heard about it already. If not I have pasted in the link further down.
The Glove ,the Glue On and the Edge are the new models. At this point, I am interested in the Glove model. The explanation of the name goes without saying… but yes, they are supposed to fit like a glove. They are also claiming they are a lot easier to put on the hoof as well. I will have to report back on that. Both the Edge and the Glove are pretty low profile with updates to the gaiter and the binding.

There is one little glitch. With the glove and the glue on, there is a a new process to fitting these redesigned boots. You now have to purchase a Fit Kit to determine the right size boot for your horse and the sizes are in millimeters so you have to do some math too!

Read about the fitting process here and the posts about the testing for each boot style.

It’s a little extra work and a little more of the green stuff for sizing, but worth it in order to get the correct size boot. The Fit Kit comes with three boot sizes to try on your horse. You get to keep the kit for 30 days and then return it. At that time you can place your order for your boot.

Monday night, Tom and I scratched the ice and mud away from JB's feet in the glow of a flashlight to measure his feet according to the instructions. JB measurements were 4 5/8 on the front and about 4 ¾ so he needed a 1.5 size Fit Kit according to the chart. In the kit, I will receive a size 1, 1.5 and 2 to try on him. If your horses front and back feet are substantially different in size, you may find you have to order two fit kits. Luckily, I didn't have to.

Today was the first day they were allowing orders to be placed. When I called to order the fit kits the Easy Care rep indicated that the Fit Kit’s were on order and that they hoped to receive their shipment of FitKit’s next week. So, it will be about two weeks before I receive my FitKit. I was hoping I could get JB set up with boots sooner but atleast we are getting closer, hopefully, to resolving his foot problems.

Anyone else out there ordering these? If so, you might consider getting your order in soon. I have a feeling these boots might really take off and then there may be a waiting list.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Times Spent....

Everyone loves photos and since the ice is keeping me from doing anything with horses at the current time, I have uploaded some photos of some times spent with horses in the last few years. I hope to add many more in the years to come with endurance.
Included in these photos are a few shots of our camping trip to the SnowCrest Mountains near Dillon, MT, and the first horsemanship clinci JB attended when I started him under saddle. As you can see he found the Arizona mud fascinating.... I spent most of my time trying to scrape him clean. In one of the photos Tom and I are working cattle through an obstacle course. Now that is a challenge!!! I was riding one of Harry's horses as I didn't think JB would be quite ready to chase cows after only being saddled hours earlier for the 2nd time!

The picure of me on the chestnut horse is Rebel who I will be putting back to work this spring for an attempt at endurance. Then the picture of Tom and I , see the back drop? We had climbed only half way to our destination at the point where this photo was taken. It was extremely steep country.

The black horse that I am holding is Roman , on a different day we took a day ride in which we had just peaked the crest of Divide Trail during our camping trip to the Snowcrest Mountains. I was I was glad to be off the horse for a few minutes. It is hard to tell, but from where I was standing the trail went straight down .It was a good thing I was riding our most "goat" like mountain horse. The treacherous trail to the lookout was absolutely worth it in the end. The scenery was to die for and there is something very surreal about riding a horse into a remote mountainous area that very few people ever get to see.
The photo that just looks like scenery.. look closely, there is a huge bull moose peeking his head out from behind the tree in the distance. On our ride back to camp that night, we happened upon two very large bull moose. Incredible.


Past Faces of Acer farms

Starting at the top and working to the right:
Jonna and West Lee; TB gelding raised and trained by Jonna out of TB mare. Wes is now living in Helena Montana and being shown in jumpers and most recently eventing with his new dad Jeff. Wes was a tough one to see go to a new home. He was the first TB I had ever raised and trained on my own.
Another Photo of Jonna with Wes.. can you tell I kind of liked him?
second row left: Tom and Double Star; Barb gelding at Harry Whitney clinic in Wickenburg Arizona in 2004. Double Star had recently received his first bath after rolling in Arizona clay. He was still drying.
second Row Right- this is Billy or registered name "Waldemarr". TB/Hanoverian cross that Jonna raised and started then sold as a 3 yr old. This is also a half brother to Wes (same dam)
Bottom left: Wes again.. I just really like that photo of him.
Bottom Right: Tom and Double Star again at the Arizona Harry Whitney Clinic 2004

Friday, January 9, 2009


I received this peom in an email about two years ago and have had it posted in my office since then. It is one of my all time favorites. I have been known to pass along this poem to non horsey people, that don't always understand my lifestyle and are sometimes a bit harsh in their judgement of said lifestyle. It's a pretty well known poem so many of you may have already seen it but if not , I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

Woman I will Be
I shall wear diamonds and a wide brimmed straw hat withribbons and flowers on it
And I shall spend my social security on white wine and carrots and sit in the alley of my barn and listen to my horses breathe.
I will sneak out in the middle of a summer's nightand ride the dappled mare across the moonstruck meadow,if my old bones will allow.
And when people come to call, I will smile and nod,as I walk them past the gardens to the barn
And show, instead, the flowers growing therein stalls fresh-lined with straw.
I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair as if it were a jewel
And I will be an embarrassment of all who look down on me Who have not yet found the peace in being free
To love a horse as a friend, a friend who waits at midnight hour With muzzle and nicker and patient eyes
For the Woman I will be when I am old.

Where the Rubber meets the Road

The hunt begins…

Last fall, JB had some hoof issues that we had to contend with. He spent September through November in pads and Gene Ovnicek shoes to allow his sole bruise to heal. Since that time, I have been trying to decide what I will do for the upcoming season. I have two choices the way I see it. Either go back to pads and shoes or look at horse boot options. I would say the choice is obvious, given the fact that pads with shoes only hinder the health of the foot. My goal is to improve JB’s hoof health , not hinder.

Over the last few weeks I have talked to numerous folks and researched the various hoof boot options out on the market. Overall, tt seems Renegades are coming in first place. They seem to really hold their own in the endurance ring and people are quite impressed with them, ofcourse, if you want the best, you pay for it…

Easy boot Epics seem to be another popular choice for those that put miles on. Ofcourse they seem more prone to go flying off into the brush, never to be seen again. Maybe I can install a homing device or modified car alarm system so I can locate them more easily??? Nevertheless, the price is a bit more inviting and a lot of people use them with good success..even better, they are readily available at our local ranch supply sotre. These could be a possibility...

There are the Cavallo boots which look really snazzy but apparently due to the aggressive nature of endurance riding and the wear and tear caused by that, the warranty is voided.. that won’t do! (I swear.. it says so right on their website!)

There is the Marquis boot that are deemed the “Mercedes of Hoof” boots. Well, that got my attention!!...but only briefly…They have an air chamber that allows for custom fit but sometimes requires additional pumping. The comany brochure explains how to adjust this air chamber for better fit but this seemed quite labor intensive. I could just see myself lugging around a screwdriver and possibly a bicycle pump on the trail in the off chance I get a flat…. Mercedes or not, I don’t think that is something I am interested in. Besides,they appear to be more readily used for driving and less intense wear, although they have a really neat “sock” concept that could be useful, maybe even in conjunction with the easy boot??

So those seem to be the top contenders. If any of you out there have any infinite wisdom, please share.. The clock is ticking and I need to make a decision so when the roads do someday clear of ice, JB and I can be out there riding once again with no more sore feet.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Winter Gear- Deals to be had

Tamara of In the Night Farm posted about what she wore to ride in today in the frigid weather, which reminded me that I made some recent purchases for my own endurance apparel line up. I have more fun shopping for horsey related stuff than I do my own regualr clothing, that 's for sure. There are some great deals out there right now and I thought I would pass the info along.

I absolutely love the Kerrits Performance tights. They really hold up well to the rigors of long hours in the saddle and are very comfortable. Dovers saddlery has some closeout colors right now for $39.99. They are also having a good buy on their boot cut riding tights that I admired on some riders last season, so I also ordered a pair of those as well and they are going for $49.99 , usually about $79.00. A little spendy but they do last. I have also heard the Irideon brand are good tights but they weren't as good of a buy. What other brands do all of you use for riding tights?

I did finally break down and get JB his own waterproof sheet instead of the one that is 3 sizes too big for him , which used to belong to my T16.3 hand Thoroughbred. JB has a fleece cooler that a friend actually custom fit and sewed for him so we are all set in that department.

There are a few remaining items on my wish list for the upcoming season, like a new saddle pad. I am trying to decide between the 5 Star wool endurance pad which runs about $179.00 or the Toklat Endurance pad which is about $90. Pretty pricey but a good quality pad is quite important. Any one have any other suggestions for pads that they like that are out on the market? I currently use a Diamond Wool Felt pad and have been very happy with it but would like to find something with a little less coverage area to help with cooling.

Other items that are probably a must have for this season are a set of Snugpax bags, a breast collar for the Mcclellan saddle ( hopefully a Zilco) ,endurance stirrups and even if my husband laughs as me, I will break down and probably get a fleece saddle seat cover. Last season, I went without these items , and just wanted to see what was fluff and what was truly needed. Obviously , these few items are some of those needed things.

So any suggestions or thoughts on equipment from some other endurance riders would be more than welcome.