I learned a tough lesson today, but an important one. That’s the importance of confidence; not only under saddle, but in my marriage. It’s that take a deep breathe, you can do it, focus kind of attitude.

Under saddle today I learned it from Jack. He has no confidence so therefore he looks to me to provide the security and comfort he needs to perform what I ask of him. I tend to be an anxious person and this doesn’t get me far in my riding. The second I’m anxious, I brace and Jack acts up since he thinks there’s a reason to be anxious. It’s the herd mentality of paying attention to the leader so you know when trouble is around.

Thankfully I have some awesome trainers who are helping me tackle my anxiety, take a deep breathe, relax and focus. Once I do, surprise! Jack does what I ask of him.

Now it isn’t an easy concept and I’m sure I’ll be battling this for many, many weeks to come. There will be good days and there will be hard days. But I’ll get through them.

When it comes to my marriage, confidence helps in a lot of ways. It’s not only sexy, but it’s also a comfort to my husband. When he’s nervous about something, I can help with my confidence and help him through it. So when he’s running out the door and worried about how he looks for a promotion, I can confidently give him a kiss, tell him how amazing he looks and get him out the door on time. And this goes both ways. Sometimes I need him to be the confident one to help me out. It’s one of those things that has to go both ways. Therefore you support each other and it’s not a one-way street.

So my motto for this week is confidence. I’ll be trying to absorb it into my riding time and be confident in my home life.

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Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever December holiday you celebrate is around the corner. It’s almost Black Friday time and people all over are beginning to get gifts in order. 

If you have an equestrian in the family, you might not know what to get them. Put down that unicorn book end, Grandma Jane. Yup, I’m looking at you and that horse pillow, Uncle Bob. 

Some family members might say “I don’t want to get anything for the horse, it’s a gift for you!” The truth is equestrians see gifts for their horses as gifts for them. Sometimes a new saddle pad or a leather halter with their horse’s name on it means more to them than a new TV. These girls and guys spend hours at the barn with their equine friends and they are our best friends. Equestrians also LOVE spoiling their horses!

Here’s a variety of gift ideas for your equestrians. They range from halters, brushes, a monthly subscription box, horse-inspired jewelry that will be welcomed with open arms, where to donate in their honor that they’ll love, and acceptable gift cards for the equine life. Good luck on your search for that special someone (and their horse!)

The first thing is to know if your equestrian rides English, Dressage or Western. On most tack sites, those are the three big categories. Below I’ve included a variety of different items spreading out over all of the disciplines.

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(Photo Credit: sstack.com)

A nice halter with a name plate is a stylish gift that any equestrian would love. This would work for any discipline and is especially great if you can find out the horse’s registered or show name.

The one shown above is from Schneider’s. It’s the Premier Fort Worth 3/4″ Leather Halter. Starts at $39.99 without nameplate.

One of my next gift suggestions is actually something I received in my Saddle Box a week ago. It’s the Epona Jewel Tool Groomer. It retails at SmartPak for $11.35. I started using this curry comb after I received it in my box and it’s already one of my favorites. It’s easy to use and comfortable on your hand and any equestrian would love to get it under the tree!

Another idea that is something your equestrian can receive year-round with a special surprise in their mailbox every month is a subscription to Saddle Box. On the site, it allows you to gift a box to someone. The box has all kinds of cool things equestrians can use and love. Retails: $34.95 per month.

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(Photo credit: Back on Track)

Something a bit pricier, but something your equestrian will adore for their horse is the Back on Track Mesh Sheet. Retails: $199 to $249 depending on the horse’s size. I actually have this sheet on my own Christmas list and it’s the only thing I really want this year. These sheets are so therapeutic for all horses after exercise. They also now come in navy, burgundy and green along with the classic black.

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(Photo credit: sstack.com)

Want something a bit more for your rider? A cute bracelet with their horse’s name is always adorable and equestrians love wearing them! This one is the Padded Leather Bracelet from Schneider’s. Starts at $10.99 without nameplate.

If you’d like to do something a bit different and a bit more focused on charity, you can always donate to their favorite horse rescue or organization in their honor. For me personally in Connecticut, I am a huge supporter of two: Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue and Second Chance Ranch. As the owner of a rescue horse, rescue organizations are very close to my heart and it would mean a lot to have people donate to them for me. Every little bit counts for these rescues!

When in doubt of what to get, gift cards are always appreciated. Equestrians love gift cards to their barns for lessons, tack shops such as SmartPak, Dover Saddlery, Schneider’s, etc, and places they visit a lot especially during horse show season like Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Tractor Supply Company.

Good luck finding a gift for your equestrian this holiday season and I hope this helped!

I have a really exciting review for you guys today! I received my Saddle Box! (Click on this link to check it out!)

Saddle Box is a monthly subscription for $34.95 that sends you all kinds of horse-related goodies in a wonderful little teal box! It contains on average $60 worth of items and includes a variety of tack, grooming tools, treats and more!

So here we go, my unboxing review (complete with tons of photos!)

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I was so excited when this box arrived yesterday and I absolutely couldn’t wait to review it and see what special items waited inside!

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The first item I noticed right off the bat that I was SUPER excited about was the Epona Jewel Tool Groomer. I don’t think Saddle Box realized it when they sent my box, but almost everything I have for Jack is blue so I was so happy to see a nice sapphire curry comb!

The really neat thing about this curry comb is it conforms right to your hand. It’s also adjustable so you can adjust the part that goes over your hand right to your correct size. This is great since I have tiny hands and usually the bands over the brushes do absolutely nothing for me. I think Jack will enjoy this and it will be great for getting that winter mud and dirt off that’s coming in a few months here in New England!

The other grooming tool I received was a paracord wrapped hoof pick from K & T Creations LLC.

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Even though orange isn’t usually my color, I love the feel of this hoof pick. The paracord gives it a nice soft grip and I could imagine it would be super easy to bring along in a trail pack or attach to your saddle if you went out trail riding!

The next thing I received was a bag of Jacks Braiding Bands.

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If you’re like me, you can never have enough braiding bands. It seems like they always disappear! I once had a mouse chew the corner of a bag of bands and I lost a whole ton of them! Definitely useful for show season and the summer and for Jack, year round since I keep his tail braided and bagged almost all of the time. (He has a very magnificent tail!)

The other braiding item I received to go with the bands was the Kiss My Horse setting lotion for braids and bands.

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I really like that it’s all natural and easy to use. It says to just spray on after braiding. I’ll need to try this on Jack soon since he gets the fluffiest mane and it’s really hard to keep braids in sometimes. I may even explore some of the shampoo filled sponges they sell as well on their site!

Another must have that will definitely be useful in my first aid kid with an accident prone horse is the Theracyn Wound & Skin Care Spray.

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A good wound spray is definitely a necessity. I also love that this is safe for cats. I happen to have two cats that rough and tumble a lot and both have claws so they do sometimes get cut.

The last bottle I received of product was the Spurr’s Big Fix Hoof Fix Cream Moisturizer.

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Jack’s feet are prone to cracking on the sides because of how he wears down his right side so I’m always interested in good hoof moisturizer. The only thing with this sample size is going to be how to apply it. I’m used to the big containers with the brushes already attached in the bottle (like how this product is sold on the Spurr’s Big Fix website.) I’ll figure something out though and maybe can find a spare brush to use!

I also received something for me which was pretty cool. It wasn’t all things for Jack! I got a package of five Epona Ponytail Sof-Ties.

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I think like all girls our hair ties go missing a lot so I’m excited for these. Before this box I had really no idea of Epona products so I’m excited to use them. They feel super soft and like it will definitely be comfortable to wear in my hair. I have a LOT of hair so it’s nice to be able to pull it back and not worry about it!

Another tack item I received was Feibing’s Saddle Soap.

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I’m pretty sure this saddle soap is an equestrian staple. Also, when you’re me and my husband and have three saddles between you and a whole bunch of tack, you can never have enough saddle soap! I love how this stuff cleans and polishes and just does a good job. There’s a reason they have been around so long!

Onto the treats! I received a small package of Nutrigood low-sugar snax in carrot-anise.

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First of all, two things popped out at me when I pulled these out of the box. One: They’re low-sugar. I have a green horse who is on a strict diet and I’m very conscious about his sugar intake and exactly what I’m feeding him. I love spoiling him, but with some of the high sugar and molasses treats, you really can’t do that. Therefore low-sugar treats are my favorite. Jack loves carrot flavored things (although I will admit peppermint is his kryptonite!) The other thing that popped out at me was the coupon. I love that if Jack really likes these treats, I can then get them for $1 off! Every penny definitely counts when you’re a horse mom. I’ll give him one of these tomorrow and hopefully he gobbles them down.

The last item in my box I think Saddle Box was reading my mind of how bad I am usually at tying knots. Don’t ask my trainers how many times I have to ask how to tie a quick release knot. I’m just not very good at understanding knots or remembering how to do them. I received The Pocket Guide to Equine Knots by Dan Aadland.

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I’m really excited to go through this book and try and learn some new tricks and tips. I’ll be keeping it close in my tack trunk to reference when I forget how to tie a knot. Maybe some practice will help me!

Overall, I absolutely adored the Saddle Box and will probably be signing up for a full subscription or asking for it for Christmas (They do allow people to gift you a subscription!). All of the products in the box were useful. I was super happy to see there were no weird supplements or things Jack would just not need or use. Since he’s on a strict diet, random supplements and such are just not our friend. The box had a lot of good little tidbits in it and some new products and companies I didn’t know. I think it’s a great way to help equestrians learn new products and see what’s out there and give them a chance to try them before buying large amounts.

You absolutely cannot beat the price. I’m still shocked the box is only $34.95! The curry comb alone retails for $14.50 without shipping. It’s a nice surprise in your mailbox and I certainly recommend subscribing!

To subscribe, visit SaddleBox.net and sign up today!

(Note: I did receive this box from Saddle Box for free to review. But I will seriously be signing up soon for my own box I love this so much!)

The problem with both my husband and I being horse people is sharing.

Yup. Sharing.

For some, sharing comes easy at home. It’s “our” TV, it’s “our” movie collection, etc. However it’s not so easy when it comes to horses, horse equipment and differing needs.

One of the things we have had to figure out is how to navigate sharing horse items and even the horse. Jack quickly became more “my” horse than his horse. At 14.3 hands, he’s perfect for my 5’0″ height with no legs, but not so good for my husband’s 5’9″ legs that go on forever. Also, just sharing is hard. You can’t exactly ride together if you only have one horse.

That was when Guinness came into our lives. At over 16 hands, he’s the perfect height for my husband and he’s also just a general sweetheart, but also a fun ride. He looks smashing in a English saddle which is exactly what he likes to ride in. And Guinness needed someone who could give him ride time. Problem solved.

However the difficulty of sharing comes into play even with our tack trunk. Hoof conditioners, fly spray, shampoo – they all never last very long. But we’ve started figuring out how to work things out and who uses what more. The only problem left to tackle is when he doesn’t leave things in the same spot I left them!

We may have had to figure out a lot of things, but with communication, we have. It’s also a great lesson for our marriage and how to make sure both of our needs are fulfilled and we’re both happy. And I’m one proud wife when I see him riding and achieving his goals.

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I think my husband would love me writing a blog post on this. You see, unlike in Europe, men riding English have a horrendous time riding riding clothes in the United States. Somewhere over the years between the Revolutionary War and the 1700s and now, we as a culture as Americans have forgotten that men can ride English too. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of high level and high achieving men at the Olympic and Grand Prix level. They do exist, but I get off topic.

When searching popular sites for horseback riding clothes such as SmartPak, Dover, and even local tack shops, men’s apparel practically does not exist. At our local Dover, he has not even a full rack of men’s clothes and that includes breeches and tops. There are some breeches (but if you want another color beside tan, you’re done for), but almost no polos. They practically do not exist. When he finds a polo on a website or in a store, he almost always jumps on it especially if it’s on sale. Otherwise he just can’t find them.

Since when did riding English become an almost all-female sport in the U.S.? Why does it matter if he’s a man who enjoys riding in the English saddle? He should have the same opportunities for clothing as we females do.

Now I know the stores’ side of it. The market is small. There are not as many men who ride English as women especially up here in the Northeast (though the national chains aren’t much better.) However how can you really tell the market if you offer absolutely no products for them? It’s almost as bad as the plus-sized market for women in our sport.

As an equestrian wife who also rides and happens to usually fall in the more plus-sized clothing market (I’m right between. It’s annoying.), I feel for him. I know the struggles. And I hope slowly just maybe it will change and brands will offer more plus-sized and men’s clothing because not all equestrians are a breeches size 26 and some of us happen to be men too. The plus-sized market has certainly grown in the last few years as the demand has become more obvious and women have spoken up.

For now, all I can do is support him and be a good wife and help him find clothes as much as I can. And if anyone has suggestions on how to find a decent selection of men’s clothing, please leave me a comment. I am always open to help navigating this.

I have officially found my new favorite product for Jack.

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Photo courtesy of State Line Tack

This is the Aloe Advantage Enhanced Detangling Conditioner. It can be found on State Line Tack for $7.09. The description describes the product as:

“All-Natural Pro Series creme formula enriched with Aloe vera and Panthenol for maximum absorption. Detangles as it conditions deeply to repair and protect the hair shaft. May be used as a detangling conditioner and leave-in moisturizer or as a finishing rinse. Prevents broken and split ends without leaving a buildup. Trigger spray allows for even coverage and creme texture prevents runoff. Also great to remove loose hair, mats and tangles on dogs and cats. Long lasting for horse, hound and rider.

Features:

  • All-Natural Formula
  • Contains Aloe Vera, a natural humectant, to gently balance without leaving a buildup or causing skin irritation
  • Protein fills chips and splits in hair, and tames split ends and “frizzies”
  • Makes hair shiny, manageable and full of body for a free flowing mane and tail
  • May be used as a finishing rinse or as a leave-in moisturizing and detangling conditioner
  • For use on horses, dogs, cats and people”

I purchased it from my local barn tack shop, Birch Tree Tack. The reason this is my new favorite product was after I used it on Jack’s tail. Anyone that has met him knows he has the most full, insane amount of tail. (Not that I complain!)

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If you can tell in the bottom picture, his tail is so curly and frizzy, you can’t even see his back legs! And this was after two hours of detangling with Cowboy Magic.

However it is almost one of the frizziest, craziest things to maintain ever. Usually it’s braided up and tied up in a tail bag, but taking it down for shows used to take me hours. I had to sit there with him on the crossties attempting to detangle the mess of hair. I used Cowboy Magic. I had started falling in love with Canter Mane & Tail. The Canter was doing better than the Cowboy Magic, but the Aloe Advantage gets the top prize.

The day before my dressage show last weekend, I spritzed some of the Aloe Advantage into his tail and brushed it through. I then braided it up into a loose braid for overnight to take down in the morning. Thinking “Ok, let’s give this a shot.”

GAME CHANGER!

The next morning I took his tail down. It was flat! It laid perfectly, it was shiny and soft and the shavings that had gotten into it came right out. And it’s been perfect since. No fighting with it. No hours of detangling. Nothing. Needless to say I was amazed and have started using it on his mane and forelock which is also a frizzy mess.

I 100% recommend this product to those who fight with tangles in their horse’s mane or tail. I do not have a dog so I haven’t tried it on one and I haven’t tried it on myself…yet. I am certainly looking forward to continue using this leave-in spray conditioner on Jack!

Note: I purchased this product on my own accord and did not receive anything for this review.

Jack, who has been under saddle for less than a year now, was broken Western. Its secure seat has given both my trainer and I better control and stability while handling some very “baby” moments.

After I was gifted a dressage saddle, I really realized my focus was in making Jack into a dressage horse. I had done some dressage tests before myself and absolutely love patterns. The best part about the sport is exactly what the word dressage means; training. It’s the perfect opportunity to teach Jack how to handle himself and how to behave.

At the end of September, we will be entering our first Western Dressage competition together. We then have another one in October and then November. After that, we will be transitioning to traditional dressage over the winter.

For some reason, the “magic” of dressage has really hit me more than jumping ever had. The circles, the bends, the shoulder-ins, the extended trot, I love all of it. So now we begin the basics of dressage with Jack before the September show; rounding out his turns and circles and perfecting our trot being consistent and a nice free rein. I’m sure I’ll have more blog entries in the future about this endeavor!

One of the things my husband and I take on every week is a selection of barn chores. From mucking out stalls, watering, feeding and typical clean up, the extra money is a nice touch for our monthly bill. But it also takes an incredible amount of teamwork to be able to accomplish.

Picture this: 11 stalls of horses needing to be mucked out. Twenty-four horses to feed lunch to. Sweeping, emptying the garbage, and watering to be done in as much time as you actually want to spend doing it. So hence, accomplish the task as efficiently as possible.

Being two people instead of one does definitely works to our advantage. But when we’re cold in the winter or hot in the summer, barn chores can make anyone a bit testy. We do sometimes snap at each other. But it’s how we work through that snappiness that counts.

Eventually after a few weeks of doing chores we started really bonding as a team. We divide the tasks for the day and switch off when one of us gets tired or needs a break. We have figured out a way to work around each other and to take advantage of each other’s strengths and it’s only helped our marriage.

This teamwork and bonding is applied to other things in our life such as household chores. He goes to the laundromat, I fold the laundry. He does hand washing, I load and unload the dishwasher. We both switch off cleaning out the cat box. And when one of us is feeling overwhelmed, we aren’t worried about talking it over and communicating why we feel how we do.

Vacuuming may not be as time consuming as lugging around hay bales and wheelbarrows full of manure, but how we deal with both of them is the same. It’s the same foundation and building blocks to a good relationship.

Summer can drive any horse owner crazy. The amount of flys, gnats, horseflys and mosquitos attacking our animals is frustrating. It can ruin an entire ride, especially if an angry horsefly is after you! One of my favorite new products to use on Jack before saddling up is Pyranha’s No-Bite Fly Spray. It comes in a green bottle and it also works to repel ticks. New England has had a huge uptick in ticks this year so I definitely wanted to make sure my fly spray offered some protection.

My only complaint with this fly spray is the bottle top. The sprayer comes out more like a vicious stream than a healthy mist and my horse didn’t love this. I had to change the top or put it in another spray bottle.

To purchase, go to Pyranha, Inc. and find your local dealer. Most Tractor Supplys and other such stores do often carry Pyranha products.

(I was in no way paid or given free product to write this review.)

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With springtime finally coming to New England, the discussion is now on show season. In a fortunate-unfortunate scenario, both my husband and I enjoy showing. The problem? Sharing a horse. We began negotiations about how to work show season out and eventually came to a compromise.

The key to the answer was simply the fact that I am currently riding Jack while my husband is not yet. However, since Jack hasn’t been off property yet or to a larger show, he will be entered into a lot of in-hand classes. While I can be anxious on show days, my husband is cool as a cucumber. Therefore, he will take Jack into the in-hand classes while I will ride him in Green Horse Walk/Trot once he’s ready for it.

Now most horse couples aren’t like us in this sense. Husbands typically aren’t your showing type. The trick to having a husband during show season is to not just make your husband your servant. Yes, he can be a good groom or hold your horse, but he also needs to feel appreciated. Make sure to pack snacks and sunscreen and give him breaks too. Let him decide what he wants to be responsible for. Don’t order him around.

I know shows can be stressful, but remember at the end of the day no matter the color of your ribbon, your husband is going home with you. Sometimes it’s good to put your marriage before your showing.