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Product Review: ECOGOLD Flip Half Pad

 

 

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ECOGOLD Flip Half Pad

5-stars

Pros:
• Two-sides
• Adjustable thickness
• Non-slip
• Breathable
• Customizable*
Cons:
• ??

 

 

 

 

Summary: The Ecogold half pad is one of many, many options out there for people who are looking for a little more support, shock absorption, or help adjusting the fit of non-custom saddles. I’ve been through a LOT of different types of half pads and I have to say the Ecogold Flip Half Pad is probably my favorite! So much so, that I really just had to give it 5/5 stars because I honestly couldn’t think of anything that I dislike about it or that I wish was different!

I have the dressage flip half pad (though now I also want a second, jumper half pad) and so far I’ve found the size of the half pad pretty much perfect for all the saddles I use (which are all relatively average sizes, from 17″-18″). I really love that I have two sides I can switch between, the silver side for pretty much every day use and the white side which I use at shows! Having two useable sides makes the half pad very versatile, it’s like having two half pads in one!

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Thicker high-resilience foam
Another awesome feature is the easily adjustable thickness of the half pad! This rolls under the “customizable” upside as well because if you need a more specific kind of thickness (say, shimmed thicker in the front of the pad) that’s totally an option! You just have to email ECOGOLD and they’re always very happy to discuss with their customers how best they can help you make the pad perfect for you and your horse! I have three different thicknesses and currently am using the medium thickness (about 1/2″) with the option of a slightly thicker fill and also a much thinner, honeycomb foam I can use.

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Honeycomb foam

What I love the most is how easy it is to change out the foam. There is just a velcro opening on either side of the half pad that you open up, pull out the current foam and replace it with the thickness of your choice! Simple, fast, and so nice if you need to use the half pad on multiple horses!

It’s also really important to me that any half pad (or saddle pad for that matter) that I use is breathable. The great thing about the ECOGOLD flip pad is the venting along the spine and the breathable textiles they make all of their pads out of. Living in Texas, it gets really hot in the summer and I really like knowing that my horses can keep as cool as possible while I’m riding them! Not only are the half-pads breathable, but they’re also non-slip! Pads that slip and slide are one of my pet peeves and I’m always looking for great non-slip options.

Lastly, if you want to really have some fun with the flip half-pad, you can get more customizable colors than is listed on the website! ECOGOLD offers a range of other limited edition colors that you can use to really personalize your new flip half-pad by just emailing them!

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All the limited edition colors! Photo via @ECOGOLD on Twitter

Overall, I’m absolutely THRILLED with not only my flip half-pad but also the great customer service and cutting edge technology that ECOGOLD offers. They’re constantly testing their products (videos can be found across all of their social media and on their website) to make sure it performs for both horse and rider and they always welcome input from customers! A great company to support! You can find them on Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram or check out their website, www.ecogold.ca!

Did you enjoy this product review? Find more of my product reviews by clicking here! I’d love to hear your feedback! Please feel free to comment below, follow me on Twitter, or check me out on Instagram!

Practicing Perfection

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

-Vince Lombardi

How often have you gone through the motions of your ride, kind of touching things you really need to work on but only settling for “7 out of 10” on things? Sometimes, it feels like that’s enough. I really stressed to one of my clients recently that she needs to demand that little bit extra, especially when it comes to the basics, with her horse. There’s no reason you can’t demand a 10/10 trot-walk transition every time (on any horse that’s more than just green-broke), and every reason that you should. Those basics are daily discipline so that when you do start working on more complex things, whether it’s adjustability within a line of jumps or the beginning of the canter pirouette your horse is consistently on the aids and ready to do what you ask when you ask it.

img_35911I find myself sometimes letting things slide, especially if it’s been a long day or I’m not really feeling 100%, but then I have the consequences to deal with the next day or the day after that. The transitions start to get a little less obedient, a little more sloppy, a little less on the hind leg, etc. etc. Then, before you know it, your horse is just driving the forehand down into the halt instead of lifting into it, or you start to lose adjustability in the canter, or a whole host of other things that seemed like not such a big deal the day  or week before.

I think sometimes we all forget that we can demand a little more from our horse when it comes to the little things and that, in fact, we should! Then, whether you’re trotting down centerline at a dressage show or cantering to the first jump of your course at a H/J show, you’re going to be able to get things done much more easily because the baseline discipline and rideability will be there. It makes the difference between a 6.5 halt or transition in your dressage test and a 8.0, and it can make the difference between a clear round or a round with a rail/time in the jumper ring. Of course, there are no guarantees ever, but practicing small pieces of perfection in our daily rides can really help us and our horses out a lot!

What things do you sometimes let slide in your daily rides? Do you think you can start committing yourself to “practicing perfection” in some of your basic work? Feel free to comment below! Don’t forget to check out my Twitter & Instagram for daily motivation, inspiration, & all things equestrian!

 

I’m Alive, I Promise

Sorry for such a long period of silence. Sometimes I have so much going on in  my head and I just can’t seem to pick one thread to pull on and develop into a discussion.

As usual, life goes on and work is busy. We’ve had a lot happen at the barn since my last post and have picked up a couple new clients as well, which is nice. Three dressage shows, a jumper show, and a massive dressage clinic and I have to say I’m pretty excited for our last jumper shows of the year and a short break from the circuit. It’s been a busy fall.

So, dressage updates first! Dream has been fantastic and did well at all his shows this fall. We did one in August and then regional championships just this past weekend. His championship prep show he won his fourth level class and both of his 3rd level classes. Super pleased with his rideability and I feel like this fall we’ve had a breakthrough in his connection and throughness. At championships this weekend I think he gave me his best effort and it led to two top-10 finishes in massive, competitive open 3rd level classes. A 5th and an 8th! I couldn’t be more pleased and all the comments from the judges were just confirmation for what we are currently working to improve, which is a great feeling. Hopefully, this winter things will go according to plan and we can really start pushing for more collection and start to prepare for Prix St. Georges next year! Here’s some video of one of his tests!

As far as jumpers go, it’s been pretty quiet for me. I showed a nice 6 y/o in some small classes at our last show and we brought home a 1.40m horse that I’ve ridden some 1.25m in the past. If she sticks around I’ll likely show her a bit again, and if she sells then we’ll possibly bring in the 6 y/o I showed. Otherwise, I haven’t been doing too much except schooling! We did get a super cool international horse in for sale, but before we did much with him, we got him sold! I did have a super jump school on him though and got video! I’ll post that below for you as well!

I promise I’m going to work on some more stimulating content for you guys! I’ve got some product reviews I want to do, which I know a lot of you find helpful, and I’m working on brainstorming some other blog posts as well!

As always, I love hearing from you guys, so feel free to comment below! Don’t forget to check out my Twitter & Instagram!

What’s In My Grooming Box

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Grooming is one of my favorite tasks! I love the feeling of running a brush over a horse’s body and currying away dirt and loose hair, and I love how shiny and wonderful the horse looks when I’m done! It’s a very satisfying and relaxing experience for me! While I can’t show you absolutely everything in my grooming box, I thought I’d take you through some of the items I use on a daily basis (the list gets so much longer at shows) and talk about what I use them for and/or why I like them! So, without further ado, let’s go!

  1. IMG_2835[1].JPGI basically cannot survive my grooming experience without some necessities from The Herbal Horse! I swear up and down by their coat conditioner, Shine Bright! It smells absolutely divine and it’s the perfect finishing touch to any grooming routine. I also love to apply it after the horse has been rinsed off! I usually lightly mist the horse all over (bonus: it’s not slippery like show sheen!) and then use a dry towel to briskly rub it in then smooth the hairs back in the direction of growth. It really gives them such a glossy, healthy shine and it conditions their coat to boot! I also always have some Heal Quick handy for any little nicks, bumps, or scrapes the horses may have picked up out in the paddock or even in their stall. That stuff is magic, I swear! It makes such a difference in such a short time and I even use it on myself with fantastic results! You can find both of these products at www.theherbalhorse.us & use coupon code KATE15 for a discount at checkout! I highly recommend all her products!
  2. Okay, so brushes are an obvious one. I definitely prefer natural bristled brushes, myself, but use what you like! I also have a mane comb (mine is looking a little sad, here) and a hair brush, plus a good hoof pick, a couple of small towels, and a mane pulling comb (not pictured)! My biggest thing is quality over quantity. I don’t need like 5 different kinds of brushes. I have a softer brush, a more firm brush, and a good rubber curry comb. Rarely do I need much more than that! Even if a horse comes in muddy, I don’t tend to need much else. If they’re REALLY muddy, I’ll jIMG_2836[1].JPGust rinse them off, if they’re only a little muddy, then a rubber curry comb is more than enough to knock off the worst of the dirt, then a good brush and rub down with some towels finishes up the job nicely! When it comes to brushing manes/tails, I brush the mane out every day. Tails I rarely touch. I get out the worst of the shavings/hay/whatever with my fingers, and that’s about it. I almost never comb tails at home unless we’re showing a sale horse to potential buyers, then I use a wide tooth comb on the tail while it’s wet. Start slowly at the bottom and work my way up!
  3. IMG_2846[1].JPGNot sure how many people always keep braiding bands with them, but I do! My favorite are these flat, silicone Braiders bands by Equi-Essentials! They’re much easier on my fingers, don’t snag the horse’s hair, and rarely break. I love them! I bought mine from a show vendor, but I’m sure you can find them online too! We’re lucky enough to have some horses whose manes lay over nice and flat and neat, but we also have plenty with wild and crazy manes and I like to keep them tamed a bit if I can, so I keep them in my “daily” grooming box.
  4. There were also a couple things I didn’t get photos of because I was short on time, so I’ll just tell you what they are! I also keep good fly spray (necessary almost year-round in South Texas), my preference being Pyrahna, rubbing alcohol or witch hazel (great for quick stain removal on grey horses or big white markings, spray on, rub with a towel), and hoof conditioner! For non-grooming items, if I can squeeze them in, I’ll stash an extra pair of spurs, some sunscreen, and some hair ties for myself!

What do you consider daily necessities in your grooming box? Everyone’s idea of what’s necessary every day is so different and I’d love to hear what you love to use! Obviously this list is far from comprehensive but I think it gives you a good little sneak peek into some of my favorite items to have on hand for daily grooming!

5 Reasons to Love Stall Cleaning

  1. 13087545_10205986404089461_2178332429126359146_nIt’s the best way to gauge your horses’ health daily. No, really! If you’re familiar with your horses’ daily habits you’ll know very quickly when they’re feeling even the slightest bit off! From how their manure looks normally (and if they’re normally neat or messy in their stall), to knowing if they’re a fast eater that normally cleans up their hay or if they tend to take their time, plus all sorts of other types of behaviour they exhibit in their stall, if you’re in there every morning you’ll be the first to know when something is just not quite right. I have first-hand experience with this. Last winter I noticed one of the horses was not acting quite normal in his stall that morning, and even though his manure and eating habits were normal, he ended up having a low-grade fever and we caught an upper respiratory infection before it became anything more than a mild runny nose!
  2. It’s a great way to get yourself in the zone for the rest of the day. If stall cleaning is part of your normal morning routine I find it’s a nice way to get in the groove, so to speak, and start the day off in a good rhythm. I generally don’t clean stalls daily, but when I do it regularly for a prolonged period of time I find myself looking forward to the quiet time in the morning with just myself and the horses before the day gets busy. It’s usually when I plan how I want my day to go and think about what I want to focus on in each of my rides.
  3. If you’re not a morning person, it’s vital time needed for the caffeine to kick in. You’ve probably seen those mugs, “If you’re not coffee, I’m not interested in talking to you.” Not going to lie, I’m a bit like that in the morning. I need my caffeine kick and cleaning stalls gives the coffee time to work its magic in the morning! By the time the clients arrive or my boss comes down to the barn, I’m in a much better mood!
  4. HC stall cleaningTrust me, cleaning stalls can actually be fun! I’m serious! In an industry that doesn’t involve a lot of instant gratification, there’s nothing I find more pleasing than stepping out of a freshly cleaned stall. It’s very satisfying!
  5. There’s rarely a better time to give your horse a little bit of loving. Aside from grooming, spending time in the stall cleaning while your horse is munching hay is a good way to get a little extra time together. I find it especially helpful when we get a new horse in the barn that’s maybe a little nervous or unsure around new people because I can just do my thing, cleaning the stall, and after a few days of the routine, the new horse will be more comfortable and start showing a little more personality.

 

What’s your favorite barn chore? Let me know in the comments below! And as always, thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check me out on Twitter & Instagram!

Down to Earth

At our most recent jumper show, I was told something that really resonated with me. It went a little something like this;

“The more down to earth you are, especially in this industry, the better your riding will become.”

The quote really stuck with me and recently I’ve been really trying to take it to heart because I think it’s very true. Being practical and realistic not only about your goals and your own riding but about the horses you deal with and the people you come into contact with can only serve to help you improve your skills and your planning.

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Condor and I on our way to a 2nd place in the 1.25m

The equestrian industry is not a place for the delusional, not when you want to be a successful professional. If you can clearly see the world you work in, the people you work with, and the horses you are riding and training, you can be a more efficient rider and trainer and you can more easily help your clients in the way that will be best for them.

I’ve taken a hard look at my own riding lately as well as my goals and the horses I’m tasked with training on a regular basis. It is so hard sometimes to separate what I WANT the horses to be capable of at the moment and what they are ACTUALLY capable of at the current point in their training. Yes, many of them will become more capable of what I want the longer they stay in training, but I’m only confusing the horse and frustrating myself when I push for something that the horse isn’t quite ready to do correctly.

Just as the horse benefits from me being down to earth, I, as the rider, benefit as well. When I can look at myself and my own riding and say, “Hey, you know I really should be trying to do this one thing better,” I’ll be able to fix issues before they become terribly problematic and I’ll be able to better tailor my riding style as I ride different horses.

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Winning our 1.20m!

I think becoming more down to earth can also help us become more understanding and patient of the horses and the people we work with. I am sometimes too hard on the horses, expecting too much too soon, and I sometimes expect a level of riding from the clients that they just aren’t capable of yet. As I become more down to earth, I know I will develop more patience and be able to look at a difficult situation and say, “Okay, this isn’t working. Time to step back and maybe try this instead.”

Hopefully, this new approach with help me develop more patience with myself too!

Without a Paddle

It feels like sometimes I reiterate the same idea a lot here on my blog. I can’t really help it though because it’s something that goes through my head quite a bit.

You’ve all probably heard the saying “up a creek without a paddle.” Basically, “this is so hopeless, how are we supposed to get anywhere?” Trying to build yourself as a successful equestrian professional feels like that all too frequently for me. Sure, I definitely, logically know that I am making progress and that I will get where I want to be, but human minds are not entirely devoted to logic. I’m no Vulcan. Even though the past week I’ve had several really, really good jump schools that finally made me feel like I might be finally starting to get the hang of things, I can’t help but feel…lost. Adrift, even.

I have all these ideas and goals and plans for my future and I do know where I want to end up in the long run, but it feels like all this progress I’m making in my riding is only such a small piece to reaching those goals that I wonder what else I really need to be doing to help myself see those long term goals as something I can realistically implement within the next 5 years. 5 years. It sounds like so far away but at the same time it sounds like it’s right around the corner! In the grand scheme of things, 5 years is not a very long time and I have so many things I want to make sure I’m competent in by the time I get there. I have a list a mile long I want to be able to include on my resume and a multitude of skills I want to be supremely confident in. How the heck am I supposed to achieve all these things in just 5 years??

Again, logically I know how to do this. One day at a time. Ride, ride, ride. Network. Continue building my social media and my brand. Work, work, and work some more. Get fitter. Get stronger. Keep chipping away at it. The same things I’ve been doing. For whatever reason, it just feels like I might turn around tomorrow and find that everything is just gone up in smoke, and I don’t know why I feel like that, and I don’t like it.

I apologize that this entry isn’t my normal blog post, but things have been weighing on me and I needed some way to get it off my chest.

Product Review: Wahl KM-10 Clippers

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Wahl KM-10 Professional 2-Speed Clippers

 

Pros
• Comfortable grip
• Powerful, brushless motor
• Quiet
• Great price point
• Versatile size
Cons
• Not cordless*

 

 

 

 

Summary: Clipping! Love it or hate it, if you show year-round, it’s a necessary thing for almost every show horse! Whether it’s a trace clip or a full body clip, it’s super important to have a great pair of clippers that you can rely on to do the job. I’ve gone through several different brands and styles of clippers and I think I’ve found a new favorite!

Wahl is a well-known brand of clippers that can generally be trusted to put out a great product, and these clippers are definitely no exception! My previous pair of clippers was a huge set of Oster clippers and while their larger size generally made clipping go a bit faster, they were heavy and cumbersome and made my arms/wrists sore after using them! The great thing about these KM-10 clippers from Wahl is that they’ve got a super comfortable grip and shape to them, and because they’re smaller they’re lightweight and comfortable to use! I also like the size because it makes doing the trickier areas, like the face and the legs, much less difficult than it is with a large set of clippers. Don’t let the smaller size fool you, though, because they’re still powerful!

Wahl 2The KM-10 model has a brushless motor, which means more power and they also stay cooler than other types of clippers! I have zero problems doing a full body clip with these smaller clippers. They feel powerful from start to finish and I feel like, while they do get warm, their temperature is very easily manageable with the application of cooling lubricant and turning them off for a couple minutes here and there, which is something I like to do anyway to give the horse a short break.

While not everyone clips the inner ear, those of you who do will like that these 2-speed clippers are nice and quiet, which is good in general because most horses seem to stay more relaxed throughout the clipping process when the clippers aren’t too noisy! Also, it’s nice because I can listen to music while clipping and not be struggling to hear the music over the clippers as I’m working.

Lastly, these clippers are priced super reasonably (I think) and you can find them online for around $199.99 USD!

*The only con I can really think of is the fact that these are not cordless, however, I personally prefer clippers with a cord because they tend to more easily maintain their power throughout the clipping! I know some prefer cordless clippers for tricky areas like the face and the legs, but I don’t find that to be an issue for me.

I really find these clippers to be a great buy, especially if you clip relatively often! They’re powerful, easy-to-handle and very versatile!

Don’t forget to check out Wahl on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram! They regularly host contests and you could win clippers of your own!

9 Horse Show Packing Tips

  1. Make a list!
    I love lists! They make things so much easier, especially if you’re packing for several horses or for a long show. Generally speaking, I don’t always work off of a list for a regular show because I’ve been working at my current job for long enough at this point that I know exactly what I need to take and what I don’t need to take, but if we’re going on a particularly long trip then I do like to have a list handy becauseI find it very helpful. I love this list from my friend Liv over at Pro Equine Grooms! I’ve also made up my own and you can find it here! Mine is mostly geared towards jumpers/dressage horses, so feel free to just use it as a guideline and add to it if you need to!

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    This is my favorite trailer to work from. Huge tack room in the front with a really good ramp for loading!
  2. Know your trailer.
    Do you have a step up or a ramp? Lots of space in a gooseneck or a smaller dressing room in a bumper pull? Do you have an area in the rear for saddles or do you have to find another way to store them? Know how much room you have and how much you can comfortably fit in your trailer! If you’ve got room for several horses but you only take one, you can also utilize some of the area where the horses go if you have a lot of extra things you need to take! It’s also a great place to store hay and shavings and even bags of grain if you have them secured well! Two of our three trailers at work have ramps that I can use to load the gooseneck, which makes a big difference because it means I can pack things a bit heavier since I don’t have to physically lift them into the trailer, so keep that in mind if you’re packing by yourself!

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    The “show trunk”! I love this thing.
  3. Get a good storage system.
    A lot of the top hunter/jumper show barns use wooden trunks, which look really nice but in my opinion are a real pain in the rear. They’re heavy and cumbersome and take up a lot of room, so unless you have a lot of extra help packing and setting up at shows, I’d steer clear of wood trunks. When I pack for a show I use the heavy duty Husky or Stanley trunks to store a lot of things. They’re lightweight, good sized, and they have wheels and a handle so I can easily maneuver them by myself. When I get to a show, I set up my groom stalls, unpack the trunks, then load the empty trunks back onto the trailer to reduce clutter. If I have an extra stall just for feed, I’ll sometimes leave them in with the hay so I can use them for dirty laundry or other miscellaneous storage.

    We also have a large, rolling show trunk that I absolutely love because I can use it to store almost all of the tack (really, I can fit it all in there if I’m desperate, but if I can I utilize a Stanley trunk for tack as well) and then I can also work out of it at the show. It also locks easily and has a separate “safe” that I can also lock. I generally keep it chained and locked to a stall, if it’s sitting in the aisle or I chain and lock my grooming stall at night if it’s inside the grooming stall.

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  4. Pack with a plan.
    As you start to load your trailer, load it up in a logical way! You’ll probably need to get to your wheelbarrow, manure fork, utility box, and water buckets first, so make sure they’re easy to get to! Try to be very aware of how you want to set up when you arrive so that you can pack accordingly!
  5. Get a head start.
    If I can, I like to have some essentials packed pretty consistently. I almost always have the fans in the trailer, as well as my utility box for shows packed and in the trailer. Buckets are also easy to quickly clean out at the end of one show and repack into the trailer. If you have specific saddle pads and coolers only for shows, those are easy to launder after one show and repack well in advance of the next one! Ideally, all my packing is done the day before I go to the show, so in the morning I’m not scrambling around trying to throw things in the trailer last minute!
  6. Check the weather
    Checking the weather a couple days before you leave can really help you out a lot! If you’re showing in a questionable season (like fall or spring), checking the weather can mean the difference between needing to pack extra fans and needing to pack heavy blankets!
  7. Do a once over.
    As I’m packing I try to mentally (or physically, if I’m using a list) check off what goes in the trailer, but always before I leave I try to do a quick once over on what’s in the trailer and what else I might need to pack last minute.Usually, the morning I leave I pack the hay nets and put them in the trailer and also pack any hay we’re taking with us for the show into either an empty slot in the trailer or the bed of my truck.
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  8. No clutter, please!
    Try to minimize clutter. No “well I might need this, I mean I know I haven’t used it in months but what if I want it at the show!!” If you haven’t used it in 6+ months, the chances are you won’t want it at the show. There are some things you can always use extras of like towels, duct tape, double ended snaps, etc., but I’m a huge fan of paring down packing if I at all can. I don’t want a bunch of random things that I might want but ultimately probably won’t touch. It just takes up space and makes it harder to fit everything I’ll actually need!
  9. Have fun! 
    Packing can sometimes seem tedious but it’s not all that bad. I really enjoy packing for shows and will sometimes make an evening of it by order pizza and putting on music while the girls and I go through things and load the trailer!

Have any other horse show packing tips or things I should add to my packing check list? Comment below! I’d love to hear from you!