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After The Fall, What To Do With Your Equipment After You Crash.

So there I was, schooling a big trakehner 2 weekends ago and I wrecked, like a boss.  “Wait, I don’t remember you having a Trakehner, I thought you had thoroughbreds.”  Oh, not that kind of trakehner, it’s a cross country jump, usually a log over top of a ditch.  My sweet little Lilykins decided that the boogieman was living in the ditch, she jumped it twice but never nice, the third time, she said NOPE.  I can’t blame her, we had a long school already, hindsight is 20/20, we should have quit the after she went the first time but we were trying to get it right.

“So, what broke, what engineering lesson are we supposed to learn here?  Where are we going with this?”  Well my impatient friend, what does one do after a fall?  “Oh, I know this, I saw the George Morris meme, ‘Either go to the hospital or get back on!’ right?”  Yes, so I got right back on, after being drug on the end of my reins about 30ft.  If you hold on to your horse, you don’t have to chase it all over the cross country course.

Lily loves her rump rubs.

To be honest, Lily probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere, but after years of riding Emma who would have used the opportunity to take a trip to the next county, I am trained to use my body as a drag anchor.  I probably scared Lily more than anything but again, it is what it is, I did give her a massage the next day and had a chiro session 2 days after.

“Seriously, you have gone on a tangent again.  Without me you would never get to the point.”  Yes, that is true.

I noticed a few scratches on the top, best to check the inside.

So, we have already discussed helmet safety, and vest safety in previous posts.  My helmet is less than a year old and so is my vest and these are the first crash they have been through.  For a helmet, in theory, it’s time to get a new one…  For the vest, it’s time to inspect.

Starting with the vest (this includes air vests):

  • Check the fabric for rips and tears:  Mine just has some dirt, which will need to be cleaned per the manufacturer, usually just surface clean
  • Check the foam for dents or compressed spots:  If the foam doesn’t return to it’s original shape, it is time to replace the vest. Some manufacturers say within 5 minutes of impact but most of the time, they don’t get inspected at all so when you get a chance, look it over.
  • Ensure all fasteners are still in working order.  If you damaged any velcro, zippers, or buckles, the vest needs to be replaced.  Mine were all fine in this case.
  • For air vests:  replace the air cartridge and inspect the airbag for holes, rips, or rubs.  Any damage to the airbag will require consulting with the manufacturer and possibly replacement.

As for the helmet, in theory any crash means replacement, and this is not something you should “test”.  This is also why I don’t have a $1000 helmet, I don’t want to spend $1000 every time I fall.  However, if you do a thorough check of the helmet, then you may not have to replace it. First attempt to figure out if your head touched the ground:

  • Is there a dirt mark on the helmet?
  • Are there any scratches on the shell?
  • Is there a crack in the shell?
  • Take the liner out, are there any cracks in the interior of the helmet?
  • Is the brim loose or cracked?
  • Was the helmet cover pulled off, ripped, or have dirt on it?
  • Is the harness torn, broken, bent, maimed in any way?

If you can answer yes to any one of the questions above, replace the helmet.

Checking the inside.

If the answers are no, then it is up to you to use your judgement.  If you have video of the fall, you can review it to see if your head hit something.  And yes, if you head hits a jump, fence, wall, other horse, really anything at all, it needs to be replaced.  In this case, I didn’t hit anything with my helmet, although in the video it looks like I might have hit the log, but I didn’t.  I still inspected my helmet.

If you need to replace your helmet, most helmet manufacturers have a helmet replacement policy, which will allow you to replace your helmet for a reduced price.

Yep, that’s a piece of hay…

Usually you have to have a copy of your receipt, so when you buy your helmet, take a picture of the receipt so you have a copy on your phone.  Most replacement policies are only good for 2-3 years.

What you may not realize is that if you send your helmet in after a crash, they can analyze it in a lab an use the information to make a safer helmet in the future, so this benefits everyone.

On a tack note, it’s a good time to check your tack too.  Stirrup leathers, reins, and martingales/breastplates tend to be likely culprits for damage.  Check for cracks and stretched spots.  They may not have broken this time but they may decide to break during your ride at the next show.  I checked my stirrups just because, and my bridle, mainly my reins.  Since I hung on to them after the fall, they could have gotten stretched or weakened, especially where they attach to the bit.   I got lucky this time, everything seemed to be in good shape.

Disclaimer: I am not a safety specialist, I do not work for a helmet or vest company.  I am not a fall specialist, just an innocent fall-offer.

Related articles:

Do You Need that New Tack? Is Less More? What’s In This Engineer’s Tackroom, Horse Trailer, Boot Rack, and Closet

Broken Bones, and Engineering, Do They Go Together? Do They Explain “Breakdowns” Like Crackerjack This Weekend?

Holy Exploding Vests! Air Vests for All Riding Sports.

New Hauling Laws, Can They Get More Confusing? CDL, CMV, ELD Let Me Help.

New trailering laws are out there right now, swirling around, causing a ruckus.  First of all, from what I understand, they are not being enforced yet.  Also, as I go into this, I am not a law maker, lawyer, or a legal authority but, here are a few things that might help you understand.

To start with, the acronym GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) comes up.  “The wat?  I dunno what that is.”  Well a lot of people are seeing things like 10,000lbs for a truck.  “Oh yeah, I saw that, my truck doesn’t weigh anything like that, so I am good.”  Time to hold your horses.  GVWR is not the weight of your truck, it’s essentially the capacity of your truck.  My 2500HD diesel truck weighs about 6,500lbs, but its GVWR is 10,000 lbs.  “Well how do you know?  Where do I find this?”  There is a label usually inside the driver door or door frame.

The same goes for your trailer, the GVWR for my 2 horse bumper pull is 8,050 lbs.  There should be a plate or sticker on your trailer that has all the information you need.  With a bumper pull, it could be on the side of the trailer, mine was on the driver’s side.  Goosenecks usually have them up under the gooseneck

Let me discuss the average Joe, or Josefina, pulling their horse.  In reality, this is not about Josefina with a 2 horse bumper pull or Joe with his 3 horse gooseneck with a small tack room.  This is about Fred horse trainer with a 15 horse slant load on his way to a big show, and Tammy rodeo queen with a huge 4 horse living quarter trailer.

Nothing changes if:

  1. You are not driving more than 11 hours and have had 10 hours off since the last time you drove.
  2. You are only towing your horse/s
  3. The GVWR on your truck is 10,000lbs or LESS
  4. Your trailer GVWR is 15,000lbs or LESS
  5. You are not towing to a show where you might win money
  6. You are not a horse trainer or in the horse business.

Sooo #5 is a real pain in the butt…

To clear up the whole commercial vehicle (CMV) thing:

  • “So what about everyone that doesn’t fit into the 6 points above?”  Well if you write your truck or trailer off as a business expense, then you will probably have to register them as commercial vehicles. Samesies if you are a trainer hauling horses for clients and they are paying you, or if you are going to a show where you will win money.  “It’s all about the money isn’t it.  That’s all they care about, they don’t care about me, I feel so unloved.”  Yes, at the end of the day it’s all about money.
  • “I go to jumper shows all the time, I sometimes win money, does that mean I need to register my truck and trailer as a business expense?”  Depends.  “Oh thanks for clearing that up.”  Well we all know about those schooling hunter/jumper shows where if you win the class, you get $30!  Exciting until you remember you paid $4o for the class, and lets not start on the cost of stalls.  If you can make a profit, as in more than what you pay for the show, then you may need to register your truck and trailer as a commercial vehicle.  Really this is for people who make their living off of prize money, not the amateur who happens to make $1000 from their hobby shows that they go to (as long as you don’t have a horse business on the side, like breeding).  Good news for eventers for once, they rarely have cash prizes.
  • Oh and if you have sponsor logos on your truck or trailer, those become commercial vehicles too.  This probably counts if you have your business logo on your truck or trailer.
  • “What if I want to tow my friend’s horse?  That’s no longer allowed?”  It is allowed if you don’t accept money for it, even if it’s just to help pay for gas.  So make them fill up your truck, or buy lunch or something.
  • If you have a living quarter trailer you may be exempt using RV rules if you don’t use it for “making money” as listed in the points above
  • “So what do I have to do if I have a commercial vehicle?”  It’s all about the registration, you will have to contact TXDOT (or the Department of Transportation for your state) and it will probably be obnoxious but less obnoxious than getting pulled over, getting fines, and then still having to go through it anyhow.

What is this ELD thing?  Well it’s an electronic box that has to be installed on your truck that tracks how long/fast/far you drive.  It only allows you to drive 11 hours out of 14 hours, it doesn’t shut your engine down or anything but if you get pulled over and you are over your limit, get ready to pay $$$ for fines.   These are for long hauls, if you limit your drives to 11 hours or less then you don’t need one.  Or take your friend and make them drive after you reach the 11 hour limit.  Do your horse a favor though, limit your drives.

“I read about a CDL (Commercial Drivers Licence) do I need one of those?”  If your truck and trailer fit in #3 and #4 above then you are good.  It’s all about truck and trailer size.  If you have a freightliner, “Not For Hire” will not work anymore, time to up your game.

As I said before, this isn’t about the small trucks and trailers hauling across town, the cops are not after you.  I image come rodeo time in Houston, the police will be out waiting to pull people over and enforce the laws.  They did this a few years ago at Pin Oak Charity Horse show, here in Houston.  There were a bunch of cops waiting at the highway exit ramp for the show, pulling big rigs over, ensuring people had CDLs for their large rigs.

How will this affect your show plans for this year?

Disclaimer:  This is a guide to help, so verify your particular situation prior to hooking up.  Again, I am not a lawmaker, lawyer, or law enforcer, this information is just a way to help people further understand.

A few further sources of information:

Related Engineering Equestrian Articles:



New Year Resolutions For This Equestrian, Reminiscing, and Planning.

It’s the year of the horse!

It’s a new year!  First post, it’s got that fresh new year smell.  Bring on the diet, fitness, finance, tax and organization ads.  It’s time for reflecting on the past year, recovering from the holidays, and resolving for the future.  And because I am me, we will cover these completely out of order.

For me, 2017 went out with fireworks and 2018 rolled in with fireworks. The good news, no one got burned or needed a trip to the hospital.  Generally the new year is a time for change, reflection, and black eyed peas (it’s a southern thing).  So what does this Equestrian want to change, reflect on, and eat?

The answer, not much, nothing really, and left overs.  “Well aren’t you the oracle of the past, present, and future.”  Yeah, I’m practically the Scrooge of New Year.  My dad, ever the DAD was throwing around a bunch of jargon like he does, “2018 is the year, I’m going to get in shape, I’m going to eat real food, and I am going to learn spanish.”  My dad is in pretty good shape for a Grandpa, he later asked me “What really is ‘real food’?”, and he has been learning Spanish for as long as I can remember, he still hasn’t learned it.  My dad is a rather optimistic guy, a real “create your own destiny”, glass is half full, and generally gives people the benefit of the doubt.  I too am a happy go lucky kind of person, but about 10-15 years ago, I gave up on resolutions.

That’s right, I don’t do resolutions.  “You are un-American, uncultured swine, what is wrong with you?”  Well, I tend to be a realist, I realize that you can set goals in January that you hope to maintain for the next 12 months or you can just set goals year round when you either achieve the goal previously set or realize it’s not going to happen.  For instance, in July, I completely revamped my finances.  I could have waited until January but instead, I got a 5 month jump on it.  I set a goal in September to go to WEG (World Equestrian Games) in 2018, I bought my tickets then.  I decided last year that I wanted to go to the AECs (American Eventing Championships) in 2018.  Still planning on it.  I decided in April it was time to lose the baby fat, managed to lose most of it by January 1, so that was basically completed prior to even having a chance to become a resolution, had I waited I would have had another 10-15lbs to lose, because at that point I was gaining.

If you had to press me for resolutions this would be my short list:

  1. Giving Mini Engineering Equestrian more donkey rides.
  2. Do yoga at least once a week maybe even twice a week.
  3. Ride a minimum of 4 times a week
  4. Build and maintain an awesome vegetable garden

As for the reminiscing on last year; I will be honest with you, at the New Year’s party I attended, and all over Facebook the next day, I saw comments about good riddance to 2017, I don’t feel that way at all.  Have I had a bad year?  Not particularly.  Have I had a good year?  Sure, why not.  “Insightful.  I can’t believe I am still reading this post.”  Well, I could focus on the bad; many months of terrible sleep, mono while being a new mom, Hurricane, major life change a week before Christmas, or I could focus on the positive; starting this blog, celebrating Mini Engineering Equestrian’s first birthday, losing baby weight, getting back to novice level in eventing and winning the year end in the 3′ Jumper division in the local H/J show circuit.

I tend to feel like, for the most part, life seems to have a balance for me.  It’s easy to get down when you have an unfortunate event or a series of them at the end of a year, if it makes you feel better to put that behind you along with the year, then by George, do it.  But what happens when your unfortunate event/s happen in March?  Do you drag that bad juju with you for the next 9 months?  I vote no.

I try not to focus on the bad, not always possible, but maybe it’s a good goal to have for this year.  “Is that you setting a resolution?  Come on, you know you wanna, everyone’s doing it.”  Maybe, but this is something I always do so I’m not sure it counts.  “I saw this thing on pinterest about how you have a jar and write down something you are grateful for every day for the year.  They had a cute jar and everything.”  My turn to be the sarcastic one… So, like that resolution you made to work out every day, after about a month, you will forget about it.  But maybe take 5 minutes today to think of something that was good in 2017, it could just be as small as that stupid joke someone told that turned into a huge inside joke that makes you and your friends smile, or it could be as big as paying off a loan.

Christmas Card Photo Shoot, yes those are my feet.

As for recovering from the holidays, I ate way too much food, didn’t get to ride much due to weather, and my kid was great at sleeping in, after being up 3 hours in the middle of the night…

“This is nice and all but what about the blog?”  Oh yeah, the blog, well let’s play a little Charles Dickens and get a visit from the ghosts of blog past, present, and future.

Past, the 3 top articles from 2017 are:

Present, well lets be honest, life happened so recently not much has come out of this page, but you are reading today’s post.

Future, a few topics I would like to cover this year:

  • Slant load vs. Straight load trailers
  • Baby Pads vs Saddle Pads vs Poly Pads
  • WEG 2018!
  • If you have read some of my previous articles, you know, sometimes I write by the seat of my pants, not always great but it happens.
  • And as always, if you have a question or suggestion, I love those!

Here is to a wonderful 2018!  What are your goals/resolutions?

Disclaimer: I am not a ghost of the past, present, or future, I do not do any of this as a profession, and I am not a financial, tax, fitness, or organization guru.



Fire In The Field, Fire In The Barn, Fire at The Neighbors, Fire on The Farm.

If you didn’t sing that title in your head with a country music twang, I might not be able to be your friend.  All over the news this week is the California wild fire.  “OMG, that race track video of those horses running around, so tragic.”  Agreed.  Unfortunately, no one is immune to wild fires, you may live in the highest spot in the world so you don’t have to worry about flooding but wild fires can get to just about everyone.  Here in the Houston Area, we had a wild fire break out on the NW side of town in the summer of 2011.  A few of my friends had to evacuate for weeks, it was terrible, they were lucky though, the fire did not come to them.

So wild fires are one thing, but then there are also barn fires.  These are devastating, and at least once a year I hear about one at some major farm.  I’m sure it happens at smaller barns all the time and they don’t make any news.

“That’s it, I am selling the farm and moving to a concrete apartment in the city, Fluffy Pony can go too and live in my living room, on the 3rd floor in case it floods too.”  Well, that’s one way of doing it, or you can prepare, plan, and prevent.  In the case of wild fires, there are many things you can do to make evacuation as smooth as possible, and you may not have a lot of time.

  • Work with your horses to ensure they can easily be haltered and loaded, do this now, don’t leave it until it is too late.
  • Keep a few essentials in your trailer, like buckets, hay nets with hay, a first aid kit.
  • Know all escape routes, fires in the area will close roads, make sure you know of alternate routes to get out.
  • Put dog tags with phone numbers and names on halters, preferably leather as they don’t melt like nylon, in case you have to throw your horse on any available trailer or turn them loose.
  • If you have to turn your horses loose, close stall and barn doors to keep them from getting trapped and open every gate possible including the one that lets them off your property, they have a better chance if they can run away from the fire.
  • Get your horse microchipped, a lot of show horses have to have these but it’s another way to help identify your horse if you get separated in the melee.
  • Set up a “call tree” that allows you to call 2 people, who then call 2 people who then call 2 more people, and so on.  This will allow you to get trucks and trailers lined up quickly without you spending hours on the phone.
  • Have “safe locations” set up.  Have names and numbers of safe places that you may be able to take the horses in the event of an emergency.  These can be large horse facilities, like show grounds or fair grounds, or maybe a friend in another town.  You can even delegate that task to someone on the call tree.

For barn fires, fast response is key.  We don’t have too many down here in Texas because our barns are metal so there is less to burn but here are a few ways to prevent fires

  • Make sure all water heaters bucket/trough etc. are in the correct receptacle and have cages as necessary.  If you have plastic troughs/buckets the heating element can melt the plastic and start a fire, so they must have cages and be properly installed
  • Don’t use indoor rated heaters, they are not wired for outdoors and the electrical components themselves can start a fire.
  • Set you barn electrical on GFCI outlets like in your house so they will trip, this can help prevent an electrical fire.  They must be properly installed and grounded to work, you can’t just replace the outlet itself.
  • Ensure you use outside rated extension cords.  Tie/zip tie/tape electrical cords up away from pony teeth.  Check them regularly for damage.
  • Tie extension cord plugs together, this keeps them from coming apart.
  • Be careful with dust, dust collecting on heaters and heat lamps themselves can catch fire so at least once a year(once a month during use is best but lets be real), clean off your heaters, preferably before you turn them on for the first time that year.
  • Store hay and shavings in a separate barn, these create dust that can start fires and they are flammable.  Under the very right conditions, or maybe they are the wrong conditions, these can combust on their own so storing them away from the barn is a good idea.
  • Don’t store paint, gasoline, or other fuels in the barn as these are flammable too.
  • Do not start bonfires or trash fires near the barn, the embers can be blown onto the barn, or they can travel through dry grass and catch the barn on fire.  Always babysit fires and keep a hose on and handy to help control the fire.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the barn, if the fire is small enough you may be able to put it out yourself.
  • And there is always the obvious, no smoking in the barn.

If your barn does catch fire:

  • CALL 911 FIRST!!!!!
  • You will want to run into the barn and start pulling horses but first of all you need to call 911 or have someone do it.  If for whatever reason you get stuck inside trying to pull horses out, you might have a chance of surviving.
  • Keep Emergency halters near the door that you can easily grab to catch and move horses.  You can make a bunch of these from old halters and short ropes.
  • Also keep long sleeved t-shirts near the door to use as a blind fold for upset/frightened horses, drape the body part of the shirt over their face and tie the arms under their cheeks to hold it in place.
  • When you pull a horse out of his stall, close the stall door behind you to keep him from running back in.
  • If you can get the horse out to a safe paddock close the horses in there, the tendency is for them to run back into the stall where they think it is “safe” so do anything you can do to keep them from going back.

DIY Emergency halter

  1. Get old nylon or leather halters, larger is better so that it will fit a variety of horses.  Have at least one per horse, so that you can pull the horse out and leave the halter and rope on them when you throw them out in the pasture or paddock.
  2. Cut the chin part out and the throat out, then either tie a rope through it so it looks like the halter pictured here or get those cheap cotton lead ropes that are really thin and string them through the one side and clip on the other.
  3. You can also use a grooming halter and just cut the chin out.
  4. Make sure the rope you use will move through the holes, if it’s a little tight it will help hold the nose area open while you try to put it on.
  5. If you keep the lead rope short, like 4′ then they are less likely to get tangled in them when they are walking around with a halter on, unsupervised.
  6. These are not the safest halters in the world but a few stitches to the face are better than the alternative.

Related Articles

Drama Llama Has Struck Again. What Eventers Can and Should Learn From Hunter/Jumpers

Whelp, I had planned on posting this last week but mini EE got sick and when she is sick she becomes a stage 4 Clinger!  So here it is early in the week.

Sometimes I know exactly what I am going to write about for the week, other times I am grappling with trying to come up with an unlame idea. Sometimes I have a great idea and then something comes up that needs to be or should be written about. Well this week, I had no idea what I was going to write about, and then it hit me at the horse show yesterday.  “You got hit at a horse show?”  Well no but the Drama Llama snuck in and spit on few people.  “Eww, llama spit.”

It was quiet in the “show jumping” warm up area, there were 3 or 4 Training level riders in the ring hacking.  Then trainers showed up and the yelling began.  “Oooo drama!!  Was there a fist fight?  Who was it?  Do I know them?  Gimme the Deets!”  There was no fist fight, I will not use names so we will refer them to Trainer 1, Trainer 2, and Trainer 3.  For the non-eventers here, normally in the jumping phases they set up 3 fences in the arena a cross rail (12″-18″), a vertical (at competition height), and an oxer (at competition height).  The jumps are “flagged” so all 3 jumps must be jumped going one direction.  For training level the competition height is 3’3″.  Trainer 1 and 2 head into the ring to lower the vertical and oxer to allow their students to warm up.  Trainer 3 begins yelling about how they are not supposed to mess with the height of the jumps.  Trainer 1 starts yelling back about how it’s completely allowed.  Trainer 2 is attempting to compromise and leave one of the fences at height.  There are a lot of ugly things said including comments about “If your kid can’t jump training level, then you shouldn’t be riding at that level” and “Apparently you don’t go to a lot of shows but this is legal.”  In the end, the Technical Delegate (Head honcho at events) was called down to settle the situation.  In all of this, 2 horses run into each other with one falling to the ground and the rider getting thrown.  I didn’t see the actual collision but heard it and turned my head the second the horse stood back up, he was limping.  He did walk out of the arena but had to be retired from the competition.

So who was correct?  Trainer 1 and 2 were as long as they left the jump at the height they had found it, which they said they would.  This was a schooling show and the first for the year so lots of people are moving up.  If someone wants to set jumps lower for student to warm up over, I feel like this is the place to do it if there ever was one.

Allow me to set a different scene for you.  Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, 2000 horses on the grounds showing for 2 weeks, warm up arenas the same size or smaller with 10-15 horses in it trying to warm up.  There are 3 jumps in the center of the ring, similar to events, but they can be jumped any direction.  Trainers go and stand by a jump and adjust it up and down for whatever height their student needs.  If your student goes first you have priority.  I have only maybe seen one collision in these situations, which I have been to many more of than events.  I have seen a number of almost collisions but not actual collisions.  Another thing you won’t hear a lot of is “chatter”.  “That’s a lie, people talk all the time, people even park their horse in the warm up ring and chat with friends regularly.”  This is true, but you don’t hear a lot of “on your outside”, “Inside!”, “Heads Up!”, or even calling fences.  So how do people not incessantly kill each other?

As the fences get bigger, the people tend understand some ring basics.  First of all, they watch out for each other, my head is on a swivel when I warm up at HJ(Hunter Jumper) shows.  Since my trainer has reserved a jump for just her students, I know who to watch out for, and who else will be coming to the jump.  If I am her only student, then I know that no one else will be jumping that fence except me.  Does that mean that Susie whose trainer couldn’t make it can’t jump “my jump”?  No, but she will ask, and so I know to watch out for her and my trainer helps maintain traffic to the fence.   “You can bet your sweet buns, I am getting my chair and my beach umbrella and camping out in front of that jump for hours.  That is MY jump.”  A “reserved jump” is only reserved for the time you are jumping which for one person is usually 5-7 minutes, 10 minutes if if you are having trouble. People also know that if you circle near the fences, it’s at your own risk and there is a chance you will get yelled at to move, so most people won’t turn in front of or behind the fences and leave plenty of room for take off and landing so as not to cause a collision.

Another thing, when I am at HJ shows, well really riding in general, I don’t usually start over an X, then head to a 3’9″ oxer (Preliminary level).  I usually trot a few fences maybe an X and a 2′ vertical, then we raise the fence in 6″ish increments until we get to the competition height, depending on the horse, we will sometimes go 3″-6″ higher so that when the go in the ring, the fences look small.  So in theory, if I were to compete at prelim level, the fence height would be adjusted 5-6 times prior to going into the ring.  Also in the HJ world, all 3 warm up fences have 2 pairs of standards and 4 poles to allow for any of them to be made into an oxer.  So I would maybe finish my warm up over a 4′ oxer prior to entering into the ring.  I have done jumpers up to the 3’9″ height and this was standard warm up for my mare.

Currently, I am competing at novice (2’9″) with my event horse, the fences are small enough that the standard X, vertical, and oxer that are standard at events is a decent warm up.  When we move up to training, I will not want to do an X then send my mare to a 3’3″ vertical, it’s not fair to her.  We don’t school like that at home, why would we do that at a show?  Don’t have anyone to set fences for you?  Time to make friends at the shows, trade your time for theirs.  Eventers don’t always have trainers around to help them at shows, I have been there too, and if I move up the levels, I will ask for help or con one of my friends into going for a free dinner or glass of wine.  I am naturally a very friendly person so I almost always make friends at horse shows.  “Friendly?  Hah, like how alligators are friendly?”  Ok I am sarcastic, agressive, and a bit bitter but under that scaly exterior I’m generally a fun kinda person.  A great way to meet people is to volunteer at shows.  This fall I was able to fit a few hours in between dressage and stadium and an hour or so after cross country.  People were so appreciative, I was able to get to know some people I hadn’t met before, and spend some time giving back to the eventing community.

The drama mentioned above is not exclusive to eventing, things happen at every show, some behind the scenes, some right in front of everyone.  Talk will travel through the entire show, and if you aren’t careful, it will travel through the entire industry.  I like to remind people, the horse world is very small, very very small, be careful how you treat others, word gets around.  “Like wild fire.”  That’s no joke.  Offshore on a boat of 50 dudes, one thing happens, and the whole boat knows about it in 20 mins or less, and that is a bunch of guys who communicate in grunts and snorts.  The nice thing about the horse world is that you don’t have to sit and eat dinner with the other horse show people every night for the next 3 weeks.  “Eventually you get off the boat though and you never have to see that person again.”  WRONG, I see people I know all over the place, you will cross paths with people eventually, oil field is just not that big.  Being a girl, everyone remembers me, I would rather they remember me as a pleasant person that is easy to work with, especially since they may be high up in a company I may want to work with in the future.  People come and go from the horse world but sometimes they pop up in a different discipline, or area, that you may be trying to get into so be careful how you treat others and how you behave.

A few general rules in a busy warm up area.

  • Pass left shoulder to left shoulder, like driving a car.  This should just be the standard, if there is an issue, you can “call it” but generally you should always attempt to pass left to left.  Put a bracelet on your left wrist if you have trouble with right and left.
  • If you need to circle, come inside the rail so that traffic can still pass you on the rail.
  • Faster riders go to the inside.  So say you are walking and I am cantering, you should walk on the rail and I should go toward the inside of the ring to pass you.
  • Avoid turning in front of or behind jumps.
  • If you see a horse having trouble or acting up, give them room, do not get close, you may make things worse.
  • If you have a horse that is causing problems, do not put yourself in tight spots that can cause problems.
  • If you know you have a problem horse, try and go in the warm up ring when it is quiet, there are natural lulls, warm up then if you can.
  • Call “Heads Up…” when someone is in the way or not paying attention, if you are coming to the jump, let them know which one.
  • If you hear “Heads Up”, look up to make sure it’s not you in the way.
  • Above all, BE POLITE!  Say, excuse me, Sorry, Please, and Thank you.

Disclaimer: As always, I am an engineer and not a conflict referee or a psychologist.  Merely an observer.

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Correction Pads, Correction, Pads, Fleece, Foam, Gel, What the Hell!

So many half pads, correction pads, shim pads are out there, what do you choose, and what do you use? Another guide to what to buy.  “Ugh, these can get sooo long.”  Yes, but admit it, you always learn something.  “Fine, but I’m not giving up my new fancy Ogilvy pad that I bought at the Black Friday sale.”

Who doesn’t love half pads?  I have a bunch of different types of half pads, and have had a number of them over the years.  There are people out there that say if you saddle fits right, you don’t need correction pads.  These people are correct.  However, when you are like me and have multiple horses, and a desire to have less stuff in my tack room, this doesn’t always work.  Ideally, you would have 1-2 wool flocked saddles per horse, properly fitted and stuffed to fit that horse.  “I ain’t got that kinda money!  Do I look like I just won the lottery?”  No, you don’t, neither do I.  There is another issue with this, if you have a young horse who is growing and changing, your saddle has to grow and change with the young horse.  Ideally you should have a saddle fitter look at your saddle every 6 months due to changing shapes.  This has happened to me with Lily.

No, this isn’t Lily, I wasn’t smart enough to take a picture and I didn’t want to cause her pain for a picture.

Less than a year ago I bought an Ovation monoflap saddle, it has inter-changeable gullets.  The saddle came with a medium gullet but it did not fit Lily, so I ordered a wide, that fit but the saddle was a bit low on the front end.  Well, now what?  A front riser pad, just this past weekend though, I noticed 2 dry spots on her back, so I pulled the riser pad, and the saddle fits.  “Well good for you, but I still want that Oglivy…”

With so many options out there, what do you choose?  Well it depends on what you need a few ground rules though;

  • Adding or removing a pad, will change the fit of your saddle
  • If you have 2 horses, one that needs a wide tree and one that needs a narrow, either buy 2 saddles or buy a saddle to fit the wide horse and add pads to fit the narrow horse.
  • The pommel and the cantle of your saddle should be at the same height
  • If you are seeing dry spots on your horse’s back, you have pressure points and your saddle doesn’t fit
  • There are a number of saddle fitters out there, if you are a beginner, or don’t understand, get help, they can even recommend correction pads if necessary.
  • All pads should be pulled up into the gullet of your saddle to prevent compression on the spine, it’s not as much of an issue at the back of the saddle but up near the withers, ensure there is a lot of clearance.

“Boring, I wanna know about pads!”  Ok well I have made a handy dandy list below.

  • Lollipop Pad – usually made of foam or fleece covered foam, this lifts the back of the saddle, if your cantle is low, you might consider one of these.  The thing I don’t like about lollipop pads is that the “stick” part of the pad goes up in the gullet of the saddle which is where your horse’s spine goes, thus putting compression on the spine, there are newer better options out there.  Early form of saddle fit correction pads.
  • Pommel Pad – oval pad either knit or fleece, like the lollipop, these have been around for for-ev-ver and are used to lift the front of the saddle if your pommel is too low.  These are only 12″ long and are cheap but they only cover the first few inches on either side of your saddle panel and if you aren’t careful, they can get tight and put pressure on the withers.  Also a first generation of saddle fit correction pads.  Don’t throw it away though, it would make a great Barbie area rug or a Barbie blanket.
  • Wedge Pad – Usually foam – Just as the name describes they are wedge shaped, usually thicker at the back but they have front wedges as well.  These are the second generation correction pads, they provide lift but there is more pad to provide support to the entire panel and are less likely to bind on the spine.
  • Riser/Lift Pad – Usually foam – They have thicker foam in targeted areas (front or back) and usually have a wither relief shape, these are the 3rd generation of correction pads.   This is the one I recommend if you are looking for a cheap correction pad as these will run you about $30
  • Shim Pads – These are so hot right now.  I have seen all kinds of shim pads, fleece, quilted, the super popular leather.  The idea behind these is that there are pockets built into the top of the pad that allow you to add “shims” that are either felt or foam in the location needed, some offer only front or back shims but others offer center shims too.  This allows you to customize your fit instead of a “one size fits all” pad, and it can be modified to fit different horses so if you decide to upgrade from Fluffy Pony to Buddy Horse, you don’t need a new pad.
  • Anti-Slip Pads –  These are pretty self explanatory.  They are usually a thin piece of foam or a suede that is put between the saddle and the horse, this is to help prevent slipping, I haven’t needed these as my horses have fairly prominent withers.  They work ok but not as well as equipment like cruppers and breastplates and most half pads have some form of anti-slip built in already.  Such as the suede on the Ogilvy pads, and the “tacky” surface of gel.

“All of that is nice but my saddle fits…I don’t need to fix anything, I just want more padding!”  Well, as stated before, adding a pad will adjust the fit of the saddle, if you add thick pads, you can in essence convert your wide saddle to a medium or possibly a narrow.  I don’t recommend trying to go from a wide to a narrow but a wide to medium or medium to narrow is doable.  I will warn you, if you have a rolly polly pony, and you add a nice thick half pad, plus a saddle pad, you will have a bad day.  “Why, I just want Fluffy pony to have lots of soft squishy padding!  How dare you take that away from my wonderful Fluffy Pony, he didn’t even buck me off at the last horse show, he deserves it.”  That may be so but by adding all of that squish, you “fill” in the space between the panels taking away the anatomy of the saddle that helps hold it in place.  All the sudden you need a crupper to keep your saddle from going up on Fluffy’s neck and every 5 minutes you are having to step in one stirrup or another to put your saddle back in the center of your horse.  So when choosing a half pad, keep in mind that thicker is not always better.  If you are trying to “pad” your wide tree to a medium, that is when you want a thick pad.  Now to the different types.

  • Fleece pads – These are great for padding your saddle down to a narrower tree.  There are real sheepskin ones, which tend to be a bit thicker and more plush, these can help minor fit issues like pressure points and add padding to help distribute impacts such as landing hard after a jump.  Costs between $30 for sythetics to $250-$300 for custom options
  • Gel pads – Think Jello Jigglers, These will help with minor fit issues like pressure points and provide a good impact cushion as the gel “flows” away from the impact. You can get just gel or gel with fleece.  The gel can also have holes in it which will allow the gel to flex and allows airflow.  Stuff sticks to gel, like dirt and hair, they can get hot under the saddle and it is heavy.   Use a “Fabric type pad” between this and the horse, or a cover.   They have come up with less “liquid” gels which you can find in the Acavallo memory foam and gel pad, this is more firm than a regular gel pad but still provides benefits. Cost $50-250.
  • Closed Cell Foam – These are fairly universal and cheap, they rebound nicely thus provide impact cushion, just like those mats they used in gym when we were kids.  Also used in furniture, think about your couch cushion.  This is what the early foam pads and foam riser pads are made out of. These can get hot so be sure you use a “fabric type pad” between this and the horse.  They are not the best at helping with pressure points but are better than nothing.  Cost $30-50
  • Memory foam – This is your Ogilvy, Equifit, Acavallo and many other popular pads.  Memory foam reacts differently than regular foam, it gets “softer” with heat so this is great for pressure points.  This foam compresses and stays compressed so it’s more of a formed fit.  If you have a thick one of these, check your girth after you get on, it will usually need to go up a hole after you compress the pad.  Since this foam does not rebound it is not great for impacts, if you have ever slept on a memory foam bed, you know there is no bounce so jumping on it is no fun at all, same thing goes for your horse’s back, once the foam is compressed, the impact transfers directly to their back.  I have a thick Equifit pad for Emma that I use in conjunction with a foam front lift pad since my saddle is a wide tree for round Lily. Cost $50-250
  • Leather Pads – These are super popular right now, I like them because they are easy to clean.  What is inside those pads?  Foam… a very thin layer of foam. $250-425


  • Open Cell Foam – like Thinline, it will collapse like closed cell foam but not spring back as quickly, it will conform more than closed cell but rebounds to provide impact protection.  Kind of like closed cell foam and memory foam had a baby.  I have a Thinline bareback pad and recommend it to everyone.  As the name suggests, the pad is thin if you get just the foam so it will provide benefits without adding thickness, which could change your saddle fit.  $70-300

I have used some form of all of these pads over the years, and own all of them except gel, which I have owned in the past but decided the other options suit my needs better, and the leather pad because let’s face it, they are crazy expensive.  Since I have a foam flocked jumping saddle and those are built as a one size fits none, I use a normal Equifit pad on Lily and Emma gets the thick Equifit pad with the closed cell foam front riser pad.  My dressage saddle has Cair panels, the old ones that were just air, so I add either a sheepskin pad or the Equifit to help with any fit issues.  In the end, choosing the right pad depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  Technology has come a long way in the last 30 years and will continue into the future, old style pads aren’t the worst thing but new styles may be better, consider all of your options when choosing a pad.  As with helmets and safety vests, pads with foam in them will degrade over time, they will not perform as well.  Thinline states 7-9 years on their products.  Mine are all less than 5 years so I am ok for a while but if you have a 20 year old foam pad laying around, time to pitch it.

Disclaimer:  I do not sell saddles, saddle pads, half pads, tack of any kind unless used by me first.

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Tack Friday, Saddle Monday, Bargains, Deals, Christmas Shopping, Horsey Gift Ideas, ALL the Shopping!

UPDATE:  Scroll down to the bottom for the daily deals list!!!  It’s the week before Thanksgiving and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Just kidding, things are nuts as usual! This engineer is very busy at work, and we do Christmas at the farm every year so there is a lot to do to get ready. Next week I will be busy with Houston traffic, work, family, and turkey. “Traffic, why traffic, people are off most of the week, it should be easy.” It’s usually easy at 6am when I go in but Wednesday afternoon when people are heading out of town to go visit family, things get stupid. Literally one of the worst traffic drives of the year, and it starts at about 1pm.  “Well that sucks for you, but let’s get back to shopping!”

Ok Black Friday is upon us or maybe it should be Tack Friday, I am waaaay too proud of coming up with that, also Saddle Monday instead of Cyber Monday.  “Oh Jesus, NERD ALERT.”  I don’t know about you but the thought of standing in line for an hour to get $5 pj pants is just not at the top of my list of things to do.  I would rather sit in my living room, watching movies in my pj pants and do my shopping online.  I heard on the radio that a guy is already camped out in front of Best Buy, 3 weeks early.  Don’t be that guy.

So first of all, since I am a stingy, I mean frugal person here are a few tips to keep you from going into debt this year:

  • Make a list of all the people you need to buy for, I get all fancy with an excel sheet but a slip of paper will work, just keep it in your wallet so you don’t lose it.
  • Buddy the Donkey Elf

    Assign a dollar amount to each person

  • Add up those dollar amounts and see if this is something you can afford, if not, lower the amounts.
  • Don’t panic
  • If you can’t afford much this year for whatever reason, use pinterest or the interwebs to see if you can find a way to make a gift.  I know my ponies always love homemade cookies, and I’m not going to turn away a plate of human cookies
  • I HATE this one but don’t drink and buy, a glass or 2 of wine tends to make the purse strings a lot looser.  This is why casinos will usually give you alcohol for the price of free-fifty, you tend to spend more when you are drinking.
  • Save the gifts you don’t want for white elephant for next year.  I have a spot in my closet that holds white elephant gifts.  I never buy anything, just re-gift.
  • I have been known to re-gift things if I got something I don’t like but I know someone else will.  Only do this if it’s still new!  “Used” gifts are not ok, although there are a few caveats to this, like used tack especially quality stuff.  Used socks, not ok.  Used saddle pads, especially dirty ones, not ok.  Those ratty old polos you don’t want anymore, not ok.  Half a bag of horse treats, put them in a pretty new container with a bow, ok.
  • Horse treats are a great gift for barn friends.

So with the unfun stuff out of the way, here is how to get what you want for Christmas, I present to thee Amazon Lists.  “I want horse stuff for Christmas, not Amazon stuff.”  Good news, you can add stuff from other websites!  Just add Amazon Assistant to your browser and you will get this icon and cool list thing that helps you add things to your amazon list.  Plus you can add notes like any coupon codes you may have, sizes, color preference, options etc.  Plus, when someone buys something off the list, it lets other people know that it has been bought, but it won’t let you know.  Yay, no double gifts!  Also, if you have things on a list it will tell you when a price drops.  Also, there is a great “app” to add to your browser called Honey, it will tell you if there is a lower price on Amazon if its an Amazon item.  One final tidbit, buy through Amazon Smile, it will donate money to a charity of your choosing.

Before I go any further, I may say Christmas, but Hanukkah, Kwanza and even Ramadan deserve presents too, even if you buy one for yourself.  Whatever your religious affiliation, it’s the holidays, get presents!!!

Now, on to the deals, usually I get an email from Smartpak, sometimes Stateline tack, Dover has deals that usually last all weekend.  Last year I got a really cute vest at Dover for like $20.  I have recently seen a lot from Riders Warehouse, I don’t know what they will offer for Black Friday, but check here for updates.  I will warn you, don’t blow all your money on Black Friday, there is still cyber Monday and then a lot of

Bear at 4 months old, it turns out he is a St. Bernard/Great Dane Mix!

tack shops offer the “12 days of Christmas”  12 days of deals my friends!   I got Smartpak shirts for less than $6  shirt last year.  Adams Horse and Pet Supplies offered a deal on free ice packs with the purchase of Ice Vibe boots and they were discounted.  As soon as I get deals I will post them on this blog post.  If you come across any good deals not listed, post them in the comments below for everyone to enjoy.  I can’t wait for the deals to roll in.

The MEGA Black Friday list has been posted by The $900 Facebook Pony.

“Why the heck am I reading your blog then?  I’m going to hang out on her page.”  I am all for supporting fellow bloggers, head over and check it out.  I will however cover the sales that hit after the black Friday excitement.

Deals are nice and all but what about gift ideas?  My friends, I am here for you:

  • Hammer and Clay Personalized Horse ornaments
  • Two Socks Designs– Saddle pads, embroidery, shirts, all kinds of personalized stuff
  • Chameleon Browbands – Interchangeable browband bling, hint on this is that you can buy one this year and next year get new jewelry, so no need to think of what to get next year!  You are welcome.
  • HPF Designs – Beauiful Browbands including V shaped ones
  • Custom Brushes, although most of us have brushes.  But do your friends have wine opener hoof picks?  Noble outfitters has hoof picks with a corkscrew or bottle opener on the end.  A must have for tack trunks.
  • Helmet carrier, boot bags, tack bags/cover.  Make sure to get one for yourself so you can match your barn buddies at shows.
  • The Horses Glass – Get your pony hand painted on wine glasses, they have off the shelf ones that I recommend too, very cute!
  • Equine Art By Julie – Personalized ornaments, drawings, paintings.  She has amazing stuff.
  • Exceptional Equestrian – As she says, Nothing you need and everything you want.  Including Mini Britches which I love for my Mini Equestrian
  • Cowgirls for a Cause – I love their shirts, they tend to run small though.  The sale page is always a fun place to start.
  • Higher Standards Leather Cleaner – I love this stuff, it does a great job and smells wonderful too.
  • The Tack Exchange – Magnolia Tx, offering used tack!  I’m not far from them and I didn’t know they existed.  Time to shop!

Note: Most hand crafted things needed to be ordered earlier in the year but you could do an IOU or start planning for Birthdays or next year.

These are the current deals!

Keep checking back, I will add more as I get them.  If you know of a good sale post it in the comments below to share with everyone!  If you are a business and want to add a Black Friday or Christmas deal, contact me, I will gladly add you (woohoo free advertising!)

Disclaimer:  I don’t work for any of the companies above.  All deals need to be checked on your own and are subject to availability.

Do You Need that New Tack? Is Less More? What’s In This Engineer’s Tackroom, Horse Trailer, Boot Rack, and Closet.

I spout loads of advice on safety equipment, cheap deals on tack, and odd places to shop for cheap equipment.  So at the end of the day, you may wonder what I have in my tack room.  Well, welcome to my tack room.  Prepare to be disappointed.

This is before I did my “pregnancy cleaning”. There is even less stuff now.

“So fancy and so organized, you must be one of ‘those’ people.” Not going to lie, it only looked like this while I was pregnant and not really riding, thus a lot of time on my hands.  Before we go into the list, I would like to point out that I am a bit of a minimalist as far as tack and equipment goes.

One thing I would like to point out in my “Less is More” attitude on tack and equipment, this works for my horses.  You will rarely see me ride with boots on my horses, at shows yes, at home or lessons, no.  “I would NEVER ride Fluffy Pony without his super fancy protective boots.”  There is nothing wrong with that.  My horses are not green, they are not super klutzy, and they live outside 24/7, thus they know how to WTC (Walk, Trot, and Canter) without killing themselves.  If your horse is green or “special” by all means use boots but I calculate that I save 2-5 hours a year by not putting on boots/wraps.  “Isn’t that time worth it to prevent injury to your horse?”  Yes however, most boots and wraps only provide bang protection as we have covered in my article on boots, and since my horses aren’t doing heavy training of any kind, they will be fine.  In 25 years of riding like this, Emma has stepped on herself once while throwing a fit during a hack and she scraped a hole in the top of her coronet band.  It healed in a few weeks without incident, I gave her a day off.  I will however always use boots when schooling X-C.  I would also like to point out, boots aren’t allowed in the dressage arena so for me who is just now getting shoulder-in, my girls will be fine.  I will reconsider when I am doing passage and tempis.

Another thing to note about equipment: I have given an example below

  • Know the name of the piece:  Running Martingale
  • Know why you are using it:  My horse likes to throw his head up making the bit less effective.
  • Ensure it is properly fitted:  As you can see, it is adjusted to fit his body and the part doing the work is adjusted short enough that it is effective but not too short that it causes the horse discomfort
  • Is it still necessary:  We started using this a year ago and  he still throws his head.
Buddy is sporting a Centaur quarter sheet and a “dog towel”!

A bad example of answers would be something like “It’s a 5 point breastplate, I got it because everyone has one, it’s loose here and here but who cares, he has always had a breastplate and they look pretty.”  We hear this time and time again, someone wants a piece of equipment because Sally Barnbuddy has one and so surely my horse needs it too.  “Sally Barnbuddy has all the cool new stuff, she got a glitter shim pad last week, I totally need a glitter shim pad!”  Do you have saddle fit issues?  “Why would my perfect new CWD saddle not fit Fluffy Pony?”  Well if your saddle fits then you don’t need a shim pad.  “But Sally has one!”  Yeah oooookkkkaaaayyy.  Discuss with your trainer or a professional before changing things, they may have some ideas on why you should or should not modify.

So what things do I use?  Lets just make a list:

  • Dressage Saddle: Bates Isabell buffalo hide, older model, with Bates Webbers and plain old fillis stirrups
  • Jumping saddle:
    Lily in her Wellfleet “show” bridle

    Ovation Tierra Monoflap, Smarpak Lined leathers, and another pair of plain old fillis stirrups.

  • Bridles:
    • Show Bridles: Wellfleet(Smartpak), Edgewood
    • Schooling Bridles: Courbette, Harwich(Smartpak)
    • A few no name ones and some parts kicking around
    • Browbands, Chameleon Browbands and HPF Designs
    • Bits: Happy mouth elevator, happy mouth pelham (for the 5 times Emma did hunter classes), Happy mouth boucher,
    • Hackamores:  plain old english one, a barrel racing one that I added fleece to.
  • Saddle Pads:
    Emma getting longlined
    • Schooling: baby pads, and a few that I have had for 15+ years
    • Show: Smartpak, Dover, Roma, Whatever was on sale in a color I like
    • Half Pads: Miller foam front riser, Thinline, thinline extra thick (For Emma)
  • Strap Goods
    • No Name 5 point breastplate for Emma
    • Courbette Breast Collar
  • Girths
    • Smartpak Dressage Girth
    • Lettia Dressage girth
    • Tredstep Dressage girth
  • Back on Track Quick Wraps
  • Back on Track Back Therapeutic Back Pad
  • Ice Vibe Boots

    Lily fell asleep the first time she used Ice Vibe boots.
  • Roma Open Front Boots (Emma)
  • Woof Club Brushing Boots (Lily)
  • Professional Choice Splint boots (Schooling)
  • Ariat paddock boots
  • No name half chaps
  • Smartpak Solstice Tall Waterproof Leather Boots (Not going to lie, I love these things)
  • My White Plastic IRH $36 helmet, for everyday riding*
  • I Rock N Ride, My saddle mounted speaker
  • Blankets: Centaur, Bit of Britain, and Riders International (my least favorite of the 3)  Oh and Amigo for Buddy the Donkey.
  • Tack bags: Schneider’s Saddlery, all but a few (if you don’t know them, you should) and Kensington tote bags, love them for boots and wraps.
  • Thinline Bareback pad, I highly recommend this one if you are in the market.
  • Whatever I didn’t list, is probably no name or whatever was on sale, feel free to ask though.

As you can see, I am not very high tech or exciting.  “Lame sauce, I thought you were supposed to be fancy and high tech?  What about at shows, do you wear that stupid white helmet?  I would totally make fun of you if I saw you.”  First of all, high tech can be expensive, second of all, I want my stuff to not break so I make sure it goes through a lot of trials by other people first.  No I do not wear my white helmet to shows, I wish I was that bold but alas I am not.

Show stuff:

  • Shirts: Smartpak has some nice ones with mesh underarms for $25 on sale, Ariat, RJ Classics.
  • Stock Ties: I havent found a “Brand” that I like but I am all about the pre-tied.  I keep an old school one in my bag for emergencies, and yes I know how to tie it.
  • Breeches: Piper, Ariat, Kerrits(I love the white ones with the black full seat and yes, I do my dressage in them)
  • Tall Boots: Ariat Monaco, yes my boots cost almost as much as my saddle, I have funny shaped feet, these fit and make me happy and are slightly cheaper than custom.
  • Helmet:  I was a die hard IRH fan but they are harder to find now, so I got a One K this year, I really like it and it was under $250 with tax etc.
  • Gloves: Heritage and SSG
  • Jackets:
    • Dressage: Pikeur (I only have 1 dressage coat)
    • Jumping: RJ classics, Horseware (Super affordable and washable), Asmar, and an old Pychley
  • Socks: Whatever fun knee high socks I find at Target
  • Cross Country Vest:  After writing my article on this, Tack of the Day had some on sale so I just got a Charles Owen UltraLite for $150.

“Wow, you are super lame.”  Yeah, I accept that.  “Engineers make money, where the hell is all of it going?”  To horse shows!  To be honest, having a farm outside of Houston takes a fair bit of money and my rule is to “pay cash” for all of my horse things as these are a luxury.  You won’t see me making payments on a horse, saddle, trailer, or even a credit card for all the unfun tack I have.  It’s a rule I made back when I bought my first horse after college, I don’t even put my shows on credit card, those get paid by check.  “But still, don’t you think your horse deserves nice things?”  Let’s be honest, if a saddle fits, a saddle fits, they won’t know if its an Antares or a Wintec and they don’t care.

The Mini EE “helping” feed.

“What about all the breast plates, boots, and fancy pads for your horses?”  Well, the more stuff you put on your horse, the hotter it is, and it’s hot in Texas, plus, its more stuff that you have to remember when you go to a show.  Also, I was in Pony Club for years, any piece of tack or equipment had to be spotlessly clean for formal inspections, I am not a fan of cleaning tack.  Less tack = less tack cleaning!  Also, to be transparent, I had a lot of “stuff” for Emma in the early days, standing martingales, running martingales, every type of horse boot out there, fancy pads, different bits, I sold all of that stuff when either she absolutely HATED it or it didn’t improve her performance or disposition.


Disclaimer:  I am not a saddle fitter, I do not own a tack shop, I am not as organized as the pictures show.  I do use my tack room as a feed room, chick brooder, cat house, and feed storage facility.  I am of the camp that “devices” on horses are rather unnecessary and thus I don’t own any other than side reins to go with my lounge cavesson and surcingle.  I do make a tiny percentage of anything you buy on amazon through the links provided, this helps to cover the cost of this page.

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Broken Bones, and Engineering, Do They Go Together? Do They Explain “Breakdowns” Like Crackerjack This Weekend?

Boyd Martin and Crackerjack

First of all, before someone turns on the fire and starts a screaming diatribe, let’s clear a few things up. I am not a vet, I am not an upper level eventer, the best I have done is a few trainings, I am not a trainer, and I was not there this weekend when a horse was put down. “So then why the hell are you even talking?” Good question.

  • A.) I have a blog, it’s for talking about stuff I wanna talk about, You Don’t Know Me!

    Bees! Because this is my blog and I do what I want.
  • B.) This may actually have something to do with engineering,
  • C.) Safety is a huge part of my life in offshore as well as riding,
  • D.) All of the Above?

“God I hate multiple choice!”  Good news, you aren’t being graded.  “Whew, I was having flashbacks to the SATs.  But really, why are we here again?”  Engineering.  “Well aren’t we just enlightening today.”  Fo reals tho.  So it has been proposed that “breakdowns” among horses could be caused by running/working a horse that may have previous damage that we can’t see.  “This sounds like vet and Doctor stuff, not engineering.”  You are correct however as a person who installs pipe (you know, metal, hard, doesn’t bend) offshore

That black line is pipe and there is 7200ft between the platform and the sea floor.

in a moving environment, think waves, current, hurricanes etcetera, you have to wonder, how do those pipes survive for 20+ years with all that wind, waves, current, and sharks without breaking?  Well we design for it of course!  Fatigue is a big part of design when you have a pipe hanging off of a moving platform.  “Fatigue, a word I know, if I am fatigued, I need a nap, so does that mean your pipes need naps?”  I need a nap but pipes don’t get them, they work 24/7/365 for 20 years.  To better explain fatigue, think of the top of a Dr. Pepper can (this is my favorite but feel free to insert any soda/pop/coke type you like).  You know that tab on the top that you use to open your can that we would always remove as a kid?  “Why was there always someone collecting those?” I don’t know but when you flip that thing back and forth a bunch until it breaks off you are “fatiguing it to failure”. Yes, feel free to go out into the world and use your new found engineering vocabulary to wow your friends.

Who drinks this stuff?

So with pipe, possibly carrying thousands of gallons of oil, we do not want “Failure” but those waves, moving platform, and hurricanes are trying to fatigue the pipe by moving it back and forth sort of like your soda tab.  I won’t bore you with all the deep engineering details but the pipe itself has to pass certain tests, and checks to ensure it has no tiny cracks or holes.  When you weld pipe together, each weld has to pass inspections including x-rays to make sure there are no cracks or gaps.  There is a big focus on cracks and holes, even microscopic ones, as you wiggle, over time the cracks will become bigger and bigger, this is called “crack propagation” until one becomes big enough that the whole thing breaks.  And when in doubt, add more steel, so instead of the pipe being half inch thick we may use 1″ thick walls.  If you take a paperclip and bend it back and forth a bunch of times, you will see cracks in the paper clip, get your magnifying glass out though, they are very small.

There is a tiny crack in that circled area.


“Well this is neat and all but what the heck does it have to do with horses?”  Well, horses have bones, bones are hard, but they get fatigued as well.  The neat thing about bones is, given time and proper nutrition, they can repair themselves, pipes you have to heat up to help the pipe sort of “melt” and fill the cracks or if the cracks are very big, you have to add more material to fill them.  “Last time I checked, bending a bone back and forth really isn’t a thing.”  Correct.

I’m not going to lie, it was difficult to come up with an analogy for this.  Oddly enough, what I came up with is this.  You know, when you are in college out drinking with friends.  “I never drank in college, I am the picture of perfect college student.”  Sure you are, along with all the other college students out there, anyhow there was jerk move we used to pull where you would slam your bottle on top of someone else’s and all the sudden tons of foam would come pouring out of the top and the person had to try and drink it really fast.  It turns out, if you do this 2-3 times (yeah you find out the foam is lacking after the first one but blame the alcohol for further attempts), a bottle will break, usually the bottom one.  It will also happen if you do it too hard the first time but that’s shock loading and we covered that already.

Another issue to consider is eccentric loading.  “Electric loading?  Are we doing shock therapy on our horses now?”  Eccentric, essentially it means off center, think about your old crooked legged horse.  Usually Old Crooked Leg has trouble staying sound, because the joints and bones are not

For the love of Pete, Stahp!

getting used how they were designed.  We have all been there when we hit a nail and it bends.  “I’m lucky if I even actually hit the nail.”  Well if you do actually hit the nail, and it bends, that means either it is a super crappy nail, or you didn’t hit it in the middle of the nail.  You hit it off to one side “eccentrically”, and it bent instead of driving deeper into the fence board you are nailing up on the coldest day of the year just before you go catch the 10 horses running around like idiots.  Sometimes you can bend it back but if its a cheap nail aka lower grade materials that will break sooner, it will never hammer straight.  God forbid you hit it twice and it bends both times, you are probably screwed and should go get bailing twine or duct tape.

So, did Crackerjack have an unfortunate misstep or was it brought on by fatigue, I don’t know if that is something they can figure out or not, and we may never find out.

Now for my safety soapbox.  “Here. We. Go.”  So I have worked offshore, it’s dangerous, things happen, the seas are unpredictable, the weather can be as well.  On top of that, people can be unpredictable, maybe someone didn’t sleep well last night, they have drama at home, or they are inexperienced.  These can all cause bad decisions to be made which can put people’s lives at risk.  “If it’s so unsafe, then why do you do it?”  I like the job, I like the money, and maybe I like the risk a bit?  I mean, I do ride, it’s not like I took up knitting for a hobby.  “Dude, those needles are huge.”  Do you know, in my almost 400days of working on boats or in yards with heavy equipment, I have witnessed no major injuries and no deaths at all.    Why is that?  Well first of all, I think I am a bit lucky, I know people who have died but it was from a heart attack.  Do you know, even after those deaths, there were 2, the company decided that yearly physicals were mandatory to work offshore.  They could have said, “Not our problem those people didn’t take care of themselves.”  Instead, they said, you know, this has caused a major upset on the vessels, you live with these people every day, when they die right in front of you, it will mess you up, BAD. They realize it cost them time and money, and NO ONE wants to make the call to the family.  To them, it’s worth the time and energy to make a change.

One trip offshore, we had some cargo break loose and start moving while

Back before longsleeves were required.

lots of people were on deck, had someone gotten hit by it, it would have badly injured and maybe killed someone.  Why didn’t it though?  Well, we had all had lots of training (I had a week of safety training the week after I started), everyone immediately went to a safe area until the movement stopped and then the cargo was secured.  “Well that wasn’t so bad.  Slowed you down a few minutes.”  Well, one would think that but because it was an incident, the second the deck was secured, tons of pictures were taken and we sailed the half day back to the dock for an incident investigation which took 2 days with a team of 4 guys.  3 days of work time blown and those 4 guys got nothing done in those 2 days as well.  That gets expensive for a company, I estimate $250k-$500k in lost revenue alone.  “No bonus for you this year.”  No joke.

Horizon Drill Rig on Fire.

Lets just not even go into the Horizon/Macondo oil spill.  No, I have not seen the movie, and truthfully, I really don’t want to.

A guy I know that has been working in the oilfield for about 40 years told me when he started, there were no hardhats, you could wear shorts and sneakers, and if you got killed on deck, they just threw you in the freezer and kept going.  It’s not like that anymore.  Any death at all is highly investigated, and generally shared with the entire industry.  Recently an object was dropped from a crane on a boat, no one was hurt, I don’t even think there was major damage, the incident report was about 200 pages. Where are the in-depth reports on what has happened to horses and riders that are injured or die on course?  Someone may say this is too expensive to do, I say when you are losing a $100k horse, it’s too expensive not to.  Let’s not even try and put a dollar amount on a human life.  Maybe we put it back on the companies that insure the horses?  Make their reports public.  Just food for thought.

My proposal would be for any rotational fall, horse death, or rider death, a team of 4 people consisting of a vet, a course designer (not the one that designed the course that the incident occurred), an upper level rider and maybe someone who works for the governing association, work together, find out what really happened, why there was an incident, and make a report that everyone can read and share.  This shouldn’t just be for eventing, any death of horse or rider should be investigated, it may unearth a number of problems that are completely solvable.  Cracker’s may not have gotten hurt because of the course or fatigue of some form, maybe he had a genetic defect in the leg that just finally failed.  Maybe rotational falls are more caused by bad footing on the front side of the jump than by the jump itself.  Maybe that person died because they had an un-diagnosed heart defect and the horse landing on him/her stressed it.  It’s not always clear, but 4 people is all it takes.

Disclaimer: I am not a Veterinarian, I am not a trainer, I am not an upper level event rider, I am not a Doctor.  I have had some training in incident investigation but I am not a professional.

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How Tight Can You Turn, What is High Centering, And Other Trailering Debacles.

Well, I asked for suggestions and I got one in the form of a picture on Friday afternoon.  A “Show Dad” that is regularly seen stuck with us ladies at shows sent me a picture of a trailer in a bit of a pickle.  Apparently someone decided to skip the driveway and turn their truck and trailer down the grass hill, and they got stuck.  Royally.  “I don’t remember us getting that much rain, and where the heck is a hill in Houston, don’t you mean overpass?”  Nope, they didn’t get stuck in the mud, and I was actually in a location NW of Houston that has hills.

“So how does one get stuck if they didn’t get stuck in the mud?”  They did something called high centering.  This happens when part of the vehicle or trailer is stuck on higher ground than the wheels.  You know those blocks they put at the front of parking spaces that everyone seems to trip over?  “Oh god, every time, especially when I am texting.”  So if you have your lowered ’02 Honda Civic parked against one of those and accidentally put your car in drive instead of reverse, then punch the gas, your front tires will go over the concrete block and then your car will be stuck with the front wheels off the ground.  Since it’s a front wheel drive vehicle, putting it into reverse and hitting the gas will just spin the front wheels.  My friend, you have just “High centered” your sweet ride.  “Well poop, now what do I do?  I have to get to the barn for my lesson or my trainer is going to be pissed that I am late again!”  This is where you call a tow truck, they will drag your wheels off that block and depending on what gets torn up in the process, they may just be towing you to the shop.  “Double Poop!”

“How do I keep from doing this?  I don’t have time for this!”  How about not being a moron?  Just kidding, you pay attention.  If you have a truck where the ground clearance is higher than the cement block or whatever hill/obstacle you want to go over, you are fine.  A good rule of thumb for hills is, if it’s not paved, don’t try it…Also kidding.  Actually if you see a sign like the one shown here, your trailer just may hit the railroad tracks because you begin to go downhill with the tow vehicle before the trailer is at the top of the hill on the other side.  One way to avoid this is if the flat part on top of the hill is wide enough to get the front tires of the truck and the back tires of the trailer on it, and the hill on either side is not too steep, you may just make it.  However, if you have low ground clearance on your truck and/or your trailer, even this might not help you.  Realistically, if you see the road sign and you have a very long tow rig, you may just want to go a different way.  Also, look at the road, if there are a lot of scars on the road from other vehicles, that is a good signal that it may not be a safe route for your rig.  If you have no option, go very slow, have someone watch as they may be able to help you.  If you get stuck, call for help, the more “stuck” you get the more damage you will do.

Back to the stuck trailer from the weekend, what you can’t see behind the rig is that the 2 roads come together in a very tight turn.  I can make it with my truck and little trailer if I swing wide but I have a 2 horse bumper pull not a 4 horse with living quarters.  I imagine this person thought they could maybe swing down the hill and miss the tight turn.  “Hello High Center!”  Yes.  So how much room does one need to basically do a U-turn?  Well I have a 4 door long bed truck so the longest combination you can buy in a truck.  I also have a bumper pull trailer, those tend to follow the wheels of the tow vehicle, where a gooseneck will fall/cut in some.  Just my truck needs 28′ to “bust a uie”  an 18 wheeler with a 53′ long trailer needs 66′ and that is from “curb to curb” and that is only if you practically jackknife your 18 wheeler.  Truthfully, you would think it was a lot more but the wheels on an 18 wheeler turn more than most standard trucks

A 2 lane country road is about 18′-20′ wide so the only thing making a u-turn on that might be your Honda Civic.  So for my truck without a trailer, I need 3 lanes to be able to do a u-turn, an 18 wheeler needs at least 4 lanes (realistically more like 5) and a lot of room for the trailer to “fall in” to prevent what you see in the picture.

Know the height of your trailer, make sure you don’t go under a bridge or power lines that will damage your trailer, especially if you have things that stick up like an A/C unit or a hay pod/rack.

Close the drop down windows on your trailer if there are not hard bars to prevent issues like in the picture.  I knew a lady that this happened to her going down the road and another that this happened when they had stopped and were unloading for the day.

Getting stuck in the mud is a fairly regular occurrence at eventing shows, if this happens, don’t panic, and do not stomp on the gas attempting to just fling the truck out,

My truck and trailer setup.

it will only bury you deeper making a giant rut and it will make it harder to pull you out.  If you have already loaded the trailer, unload the horses and get them out of the way, preferably in a stall somewhere.  Contact the office or the property owner, they can use their tractor or their truck or whatever they have to pull you out.  I got pulled out by a fork lift once.  If you know it’s mushy and that you may have trouble, try moving the truck and trailer to solid ground before loading tack, equipment, and horses.

How to use a Trailer-Aid.

US Rider is like AAA for horse people, I have it because I haul alone often and I know how to change a tire but those lug nuts can be impossible to break off.  Also, if you don’t have a Trailer-Aid, I highly recommend them.  No idea what that is, well, when you get a flat on your trailer, it is a little ramp that you drive the good tire up on so you don’t need a jack.  Its plastic, light weight, and easy for anyone to use even alone.  Pro tip: undo your lugnuts before driving up the Trailer-Aid…yep forgot to do this the last time I had a flat.  Luckily we were at home so no one saw.

Notice how much the back wheels of the trailer fall inside the circle.

So if you would like to find out how much room you really need while turning a circle with your truck an trailer, there is this excel spreadsheet, you will have to measure your truck and trailer, you may be able to find most of the data online for your truck like the turning circle.  All of the dimensions are in mm so you will have to convert everything, don’t worry if you type something like “250 inches to mm”  in google, it will convert it for you!  It gives you a turn radius so if you want to know how big of a circle drive you need to build, take that number and double it, I found out I will need a 28.5′ radius for my truck and trailer configuration which means if I want to build a cul-de-sac, I need 57′ across circle to make the turn, and that is if I execute it just perfect so I would go 65′ as a minimum.  You can decide if you want an island too using the “inside radius of corner” number, make sure to double it as well.  In my case, the island can be no bigger than 22′ across or my trailer will run over the curb or grass.  Again, I am not a perfect driver so I would go with 17′ or less, even just skip the island all together.

Calculations for my truck and trailer pictured above.

So, the sheet is made for bumper pull trailers, but, you can cheat it for a gooseneck, just set the “rear overhang” to 0 and length excluding hitch would be your floor length, and length including hitch would be from the hitch to the back of your trailer.  It will not be as precise but it will give you an idea of what you need.  If I leave the trailer dimensions for my trailer, it tells me I need 62′ across circle to make a u-turn and the island can be no bigger than 19′.  Again, these calculations produce perfect numbers so you would want more like 67′ and 15′ at best, especially on those days when you get home from a horse show and are super tired.  What this also means is, when you want to make a u-turn on a road you will need about 6-7 lanes to make a u-turn.  Maybe practice your backing up.

Also, on a day when you have time, take your truck and trailer out to a field, set up soccer cones, and practice u-turns to see how much room you need, then practice backing up!  Set up cones and try and back into them, kind of like learning to parallel park in driving school back in the day.  Give yourself room to mess up but don’t make it too easy.  You can even go to an empty school parking lot or something and practice there.  It’s important that you gets used to handling your trailer so pretend that the cones or the paint stripes are a wall or solid object and practice driving around them.

One final tip, if you have a straight load trailer.  Put the heavier horse on the driver’s side or if you only have one, always put it on the driver’s side.  “I have ALWAYS heard the opposite!”  Well there is some debate because if you do get side swiped when passing oncoming traffic then your horse is on the “safe” side.  However, most roads are built to slope to the outsides, especially 2 lane country roads, you will notice the highest point is usually in the middle of the road, this is for drainage purposes.  Thus putting your horse on the left side of your trailer helps put the weight on the high side and less likely to pull you off the road, especially in slick situations.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional horse hauler, I do not work for US Rider or get any kickback from them, if you purchase an item from an Amazon link, I will receive a small percentage which helps support the site.

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