Use an Etch-A-Sketch to Relax the Tense Horse

Yes, an Etch-A-Sketch, well not literally, but “THINK” Etch-A-Sketch.

As you all know, I attended a clinic, sponsored by the Ohio Dressage Society, with Dolly Hannon last month  had the opportunity to audit some of the other rides. One ride in particular really spoke to me. The horse was a lovely Thoroughbred who had beautiful gates but wasn’t able to quite show them off as he  was just a bit anxious. He was very obedient, but tense being in a new place and having an audience. As we know, tension is not a friend to the dressage rider. It causes tightening of the horses back, lack of thoroughness, lack of bend, etc.

A friend of mine shares her TB jumper with me and he tends to get tense and overly anxious which causes the afore mentioned problems. He just wants to jump, he isn’t much interested in the flat work. But – jumping, put simply is dressage between fences. So when this lovely TB stepped out at the clinic, I was all ears to learn what I could do to ride my borrowed steed better!

Turn your arena in to an Etch-A-Sketch
Turn your arena in to an Etch-A-Sketch

As Dolly turned to begin working with the horse and rider – she imparted the following wisdom she had learned long ago. “TURN YOUR ARENA IN TO AN ETCH-A-SKETCH!” She told the rider, “use the whole arena,” don’t stay on a circle too long, utilize the entire space. Don’t just change directions only through the diagonal. Continually check the bend, is it there? Continually challenged the inside hind, is he stepping up and into your outside hand? Forward, forward in front of the leg with a steady quiet hand!

Does it work? Yes. It does. The lovely TB at the clinic began to settle and stretch more in to the bridle. Have I tried it? Yes, I have and have had good results. How long do you do this exercise? For as long as it takes! It may be the only thing you work on that day and that’s okay. Because with out relaxation in the horses body, neck and back we can’t achieve suppleness, thoroughness or correct contact.

SO, next time your horse is experiencing some tension – try this out. Let me know how it goes as I would love to hear your feedback.

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Mad Cow – Epic Leather Cleaner and Conditioner

Mad Cow

Let me introduce you to Mad Cow!! No not the disease, the awesome leather cleaner and conditioner by KL Select ! I discovered this product last year at my local tack shop, Equus Now! and keep going back for more.

Here is what I like about this product

  • It’s all NATURAL – Made from glycerin, lanolin and a special blend of oils (proprietary to the maker of the product), you won’t have to worry about any harsh chemicals that could damage your precious leather
  • It’s American made – Handmade by a KL Select horsewoman
  • It’s not JUST for tack – This product can be used on all types of leathers – from furniture to coats and boots to handbags
  • NO residue – apply the product with a dampened sponge to your leather goods and buff lightly with a soft cloth – leaves leather smooth and supple AND gives it a lovely sheen

Though I do wipe down my tack after each ride, I usually only get a thorough cleaning in a few times a year. So, when I go to horse shows you will see me pull out the Mad Cow to give my tack a shine before heading down centerline. It DOES NOT make the seat of my saddle slick nor leave any gunky buildup on any of my tack.

If you have light colored tack (I.e. hunter/jumper) I will caution you that it CAN darken your leather. Also, it is not made to be used on suede or lambskin.

Mad Cow will leave your leather feeling soft and supple. Try it on old dried out leather to bring it back to life.  To get an idea of what it does for your leather,  apply it to the back of your hand and gently rub it in. Your skin absorbs the Mad Cow and becomes softer and more hydrated-  JUST LIKE YOUR TACK.

For more info – you can contact the fabulous Dorrie Carters (Managing Partner of KL Select) and be sure to give them a follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/KL-Select/191161841629?fref=ts

You can order your Mad Cow through their website at http://klselect.shptron.com/c/leather-care

Mad Cow is also available in an 8oz or 16oz jar at my all time favorite tack store, Equus Now!

http://www.equusnow.com/products/mad-cow-saddle-soap.html

Retail is $14.76 for 8oz and $24.21 for 16 oz.

If you have used Mad Cow before, leave me a comment. Have you used it for anything other than tack? I would love to hear about your experience!

Love me some Mad Cow!
Love me some Mad Cow!

So it Begins….

CAd0MdhVAAIwctu   My first Giveaway has officially closed!!

I will announce the winner on Monday the 30th. Good luck to all who entered and a big thank you to my favorite tack store, Equus Now! (http://www.equusnow.com/) for providing such a fantastic prize!

Please be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I will be adding a couple posts to my blog in the coming week and have further goodies to giveaway. You won’t want to miss! Thanks to all who have begun this journey with me. Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Onwards and Upwards!

The Only XC Boot for Me and My Horses

Memphis and I at the 2014 Winona HT
Memphis sporting his Boyd Martin XC Boots at the 2014 Winona HT

Face it, there are A LOT of boots out there to choose from when looking for the best protection for your horse. Materials range from synthetic to leather and materials can be breathable or not breathable. The choices are endless.

When I set out to find the perfect boot for Memphis, I was completely overwhelmed with the variety out there and didn’t want to waste my money on something that wasn’t going to work for him. At only 15.2 hands and fined boned with large fetlocks, he isn’t an easy fit.

The first boot I finally ordered and tried were the Dalmar boots. These are a lovely xc boots, well made and offer great protection…BUT…after one use of these they rubbed sores on all 4 of his legs. I felt TERRIBLE! Now, it was no fault of the boot – they simply aren’t made small enough for fine boned horses. I have heard great things about these boots for horses that were not fined boned, but these obviously weren’t the boot for Memphis.

I continued my research and landed on the boot made by Majyk Equipe – better known as the Boyd Martin XC Boot. I watched the informational video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqRcn1bNlgo) regarding the boot before purchasing. The medium size proclaimed to fit horses from 15 hands to 17 Hands. The large size made for those horses 17+ hands. The boots were said to be water resistant and designed to help cool the leg.

I ordered the boot hoping for the best. When the boots arrived I watched the video again before trying them on Memphis. I was a little confused with the placement of the boot on the leg, but soon figured it out. It’s important when applying the boot that you position the strike guard in the appropriate position. (See the video link above).  The boots had a bit of overlap on his fine bones – but this did not create any pressure points as the boot is designed to overlap if need be. I also found that they adjusted nicely to compensate for his larger fetlocks. After the first XC school in these boots I was HOOKED. The boots did not slip, they did not rub, they did not shift and even though I had schooled the water complex they were not sodden and heavy with water!  The boots easily rinse clean and then hang dry. For me, these boots lived up to the hype and gave me an added confidence when running XC that Memphis was getting the best protection I could provide him.

I give these boots two thumbs up and plan to purchase (i.e. beg for them at my birthday and Christmas!) for my young horse when he begins his eventing career. For more info on where to buy, you can check out Majyk Equipe here http://www.majykequipe.com/our-products.html Pricing is  MSRP $89.99 Front, MSRP $99.99 Hind

 by Majyk Equipe
by Majyk Equipe

Premium Saddle Pad Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Giving away this beautiful Premium Saddle Pad, generously donated by my friends at Equus Now! You can read more about the pad at http://www.equusnow.com/products/sale-premium-saddle-pads-buy-3-get-1-free.html

Contest Runs from March 14, 2015 to March 28, 2015. Winner is announced March 30, 2015.

Open to U.S. Residents ONLY.

To enter – click the “a Rafflecopter giveaway” link above. Good Luck!

I rode with Dolly Hannon and she told me to post on the wrong diagonal!

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Three days after my clinic with Dolly Hannon, I have had time to reflect and review what I learned. To put in perspective, I was riding my 18.1 hand, almost 4 year old, homebred Oldenburg named Renatus. He did some Intro classes last year and our plan is to debut at training level later this month and also some Materiale classes later this year. He has been under saddle for about a year and a half.

Now, on to my ride.

Throw out the window everything you ever heard about posting on the right diagonal ALL of the time, because sometimes a wrong, does make a right. In my case, a wrong posting diagonal made a correct left lead canter.

Renatus and I have a bit of trouble picking up the correct lead when tracking left. He tends to fall out through my outside leg and hand. We try, but hey, he’s young and growing and sometimes I don’t sit squarely, it happens.

To, set up the exercise, Dolly had us establish the trot on a 20 meter circle at “E”. Once the trot was established, she instructed me to change my posting diagonal. That’s right. Post on the wrong diagonal! Posting on the incorrect diagonal meant that I was at the apex of my post each time the right hind was in flight. When can you most effectively influence a leg? When its in flight! Why do we want to influence the right hind when attempting to pick up the left lead canter? Because the right hind is first “beat” of the canter. Right hind, Left Hind/Right Fore, Left Fore. This makes up the three beats of your left lead canter. So, I post on the inside (incorrect) diagonal in order to influence the first step of the canter and allow my horse to fall OH SO SLIGHTLY to the inside and ask for the left lead canter. SUCCESS!

This may be small potatoes in comparison to some of the more advanced movements being schooled of the day (think canter pirouettes, piaffes and changes) but, I feel just as important. In order to reach the upper levels of the sport, we as riders need to learn how and why we apply our aids at the most basic levels and how these aids influence our horses movement. So, did we end the weekend by busting out a trot lengthening or a simple change across the diagonal? No. And that’s okay. Because we got from this clinic just what we needed. Instruction on the refinement of the basic aids and movements which will later act as the foundation to successfully move through the levels.

So, if you EVER get the chance to ride or audit  a clinic with Dolly Hannon, I encourage you to do so regardless of what level you ride.

Meanwhile, I’ll be posting on the incorrect diagonal…and Renatus will be NAILING that left lead canter!

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Dolly Hannon Clinic hosted by the Ohio Dressage Society

Tommorow is the big day! I am scheduled to ride with THE Dolly Hannon at 10:30am. This will be my young horses’ first clinic. His name is Renatus and he is a 4 year old, homebred and raised Oldenburg.   Our second ride with Dolly will be Sunday morning. We plan to debut at training level this year and I hope to go over the tests with her…and well..just everything!