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Dover Saddlery Cincinnati

Dover Saddlery Grand Opening

“Hi, my name is Tracy, and I’m a tack addict.” Everyone say, “Hi Tracy!” After this past weekend, I think I really need to attend an AA meeting… or something because I went to two tack stores in like than 12 hours. It’s official: I have a serious problem with tack. Thursday night some friends and I traveled down to Cincinnati to attend the Dover Saddlery store grand opening on Friday morning. We missed the ribbon-cutting because I insisted on stopping at Starbucks first, but I was pleasantly surprised that while the store was busy, it wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded. The store itself is a decent size, and they designed the floor plan well; there’s a ton of stuff but it’s easy to navigate. The best part was just how pretty everything was! The whole store reminded me of a very high-end tack room, with fancy bridle hooks [my favorite part of the whole store] and a special section in middle just for saddles, covered by custom curtains.

Dover Saddlery Cincinnati

While the sales weren’t spectacular, I really enjoyed browsing around and of course I had no trouble filling my bucket with all sorts of goodies. Miles got new navy Eskadron open front boots, a pair of Back on Track front standing wraps, a banana Likit and some medicated shampoo for his fungus. I was really tempted to buy some french blue Tailored Sportsman breeches, but lucky for my bank account they didn’t have my size. My friends walked away with all sorts of horse treats, saddle pads and bell boots. All in all, it was definitely worth the drive and I’m pretty excited to have a Dover here in Ohio now!

We walked out of Dover at 10:30, and promptly decided that there was no way were done shopping for the day. So we drove straight up to Equus Now’s Midnight Madness sale. Oops! We had a grand old time checking things out at our local tack store too, and I came out with some new saddle pads. But this time around my friends were the big winners: a new wide noseband hunter bridle and [maybe!] a used Devoucoux Biarritz! We sure do know how to shop, if nothing else!!

Dover Saddlery Store Inside
Wall of Boots and Wall of Bridles
Equestrian Bracelets: Fly On Over's Five Favorites

Friday Five: Equestrian Bracelets

Recently I’ve been obsessed with adding some equestrian flair to my everyday life. Unfortunately my husband vetoed the idea of wallpapering our living room using all the rosette ribbons I’ve won, so I’m on to plan B: scouring the internet for some horsey details I can use all the time. I’ve looked at t-shirts, iPhone cases, socks and shoes, but I’ve really been digging the jewelry. So today I’m going to share some of my favorite accents: equestrian bracelets.

At work, I need to wear a watch… mostly because I lose track of time easily. But when I’m outside of work, I don’t want to obsessively look at my wrist. But now I feel naked without something there. Oh, what’s a girl to do?! Buy bracelets, naturally! Here’s a few of my favorites so far:

#1 Sterling Silver Horseshoe Equestrian Bracelet

$34 on Etsy.com

Simple and classy, I love this bracelet because it’s exactly my style. I’m not big on glitz or large chunky jewelry… plus I’m not that great at matching. Silver goes with everything, and this bracelet is simple enough that it adds just a touch of something extra, without overwhelming the rest of my accessories.

#2 Blue Leather Snaffle Bit Equestrian Bracelet

$40 on Etsy.com

You can’t think of an equestrian-inspired bracelet without thinking snaffle bit. And there a million different variations of this one out there. But this particular version caught my eye because it’s colorful and the clasp is fancy. It almost looks like it could be from a high-end designer like Gucci or Hermes, but it doesn’t have the price tag to go with the brand name!

#3 Classic Leather and Gold Stirrup Equestrian Bracelet

$21.95 on Etsy.com

Looking for something a bit more earthy? This bracelet is perfect and it’s easy on the pocketbook. Every girl needs some gold in her life!

#4 Flat Braided Horse Hair Equestrian Bracelet

$46 on Etsy.com

I’m not a huge fan of horse hair jewelry, but this design caught my eye because it’s different. The braid itself is really pretty and the width really shows off what’s important.

#5 Nameplate Split Leather Equestrian Bracelet

$39.95 on Smartpak.com

Classic and iconic, every equine enthusiast should have at least one nameplate bracelet. I like this one because it’s a big bigger and has more detail than just the nameplate. It would be perfect for when you’re at the barn, or helping out at a horse show.

Which equestrian bracelet is your favorite?
Equestrian Bracelets: Fly On Over's Five Favorites
Lettia Embroidered Saddle Pads Review

Product Review: Lettia Embroidered Saddle Pads

product review lettia saddle padsProduct Details

Lettia Collection Embroidered Saddle Pads (or here or here or here)
Retail Price: $25-$60
What I Paid: $0-$30
Purchased: 2012

The Review

I have an obsession with saddle pads; it’s really hard for me to walk out of a tack store without buying a new one. I own baby pads and all-purpose pads, and while my personal preference is for the smaller, thinner baby pads, for me it really comes down to a few simple attributes: must have girth loops [bonus points for no billet straps, but I can always cut them off], machine washable and doesn’t slip. But I had to admit, the most important thing about a saddle pad for me is aesthetics. Is it colorful? Does it have personality? How about customization? When it comes to saddle pads, I’m really superficial. Read More

4 horse show strategies i use

4 Horse Show Strategies I Use

In my experience, getting ready for a horse show starts months in advance; maybe even a full year from the event, if you’re a weenie working adult amateur like myself. As the horse show draws near, your prep workload increases exponentially. Maybe you’re taking more lessons, riding more often or even reading about a particular aspect of horsemanship on your lunch break. In my world, the week before is “do or die” time: I take my last pre-show lesson, I beautify my steed, I design a plan of attack and I pack until my fingers bleed [okay, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic]. From the moment I arrive at the showgrounds, I’m in full-on Strategy Mode. I take stock of the condition of the stalls and my horse’s attitude and adjust my plan accordingly. And while your horse show strategy is certainly tailored to your specific horse, I’ve found that lots of folks employ different strategies than I. So I’m going to talk about a few of the things I do once I arrive at the show to prepare Miles.

Strategy #1: Lunging

I’ll be upfront: I lunge Miles at shows. I do not LTD [lunge to death] but I’ve found that a good 20-30 minutes is a godsend for Miles and I. Primarily, I do this because as soon as Miles turns the corner and sees the show ring he goes “OMGERHD HORSE SHOW!” and he loses all ability to focus. It’s kind of cute… in a “Wow, I have no desire to try to ride through that” kind of way. But, I am admittedly a weenie adult amateur. As a matter of personal preference I prefer to lunge out some of Miles’s excess energy, versus riding him around. This is due to the fact that (1) I am a chicken-shit and (2) I’m still a bit out of shape and riding around for hours on end and then attempting to show would not work well. But I know many folks who prefer to ride over lunge.

Miles Lunging

Strategy #2: Schooling the Jumps

Miles doesn’t particularly care what the jumps look like; he doesn’t peak very often, and he’s adjustable enough to do the correct strides or add. But I really need the practice. It’s extremely valuable for me to be able to practice over the jumps. It allows me to figure out the approach in case there’s a tricky diagonal fence, and to see how the lines ride [and how Miles reacts to them]. As time goes on and I learn more and more about Miles, I’m starting to be able to anticipate how the course will go, so maybe in the future, my practice time won’t be as essential.

Strategy #3: KISS

KISS is an acronym for the design principle “Keep It Simple Stupid” and it’s particularly relevant to my riding, especially at a show. I focus on the techniques I’ve been practicing in lessons, and let the rest go. A horse show isn’t the right time to try something new, or overwhelm yourself by remembering everything you’ve ever learned. I read somewhere that you should expect to show at the level you lessoned at 3 months prior. I’m not sure if it’s quite that drastic, but that has helped me keep in perspective what I should expect out of myself and my horse.

Miles Walk

Strategy #4: Jump Higher

Right now, Miles isn’t too impressed by the height we’re showing at [2′], so sometimes he gets pretty lazy about picking up his feet. Now it’s not all his fault, sometimes I don’t help him out very much, but rubbing a rail [or worse, knocking one down] is a major fault in the hunter ring that I want to avoid at all costs. So recently my trainer has taken to having me jump a 2’3″ or 2’6″ vertical in the schooling ring before going to in show. What does this accomplish? Miles picks up his feet and respects the jumps… mostly because he thinks we’re jumping a bit higher than we actually are.

What are some strategies you use at horse shows?

Miles face

Viva Carlos Blog Hop: What Sold Me

This may just be the longest blog hop in the history of blog hops… but Viva Carlos is doing such a great job at picking interesting topics, I kind of don’t want it to ever end! This time we’re talking about “the moment you knew you’d found the one.” Okay, L. Williams definitely didn’t put it quite that dramatically, but from personal experience it was way harder to find a horse I wanted to buy than I guy I wanted to marry… but maybe that’s just me. Anyways, L. wants to know why you bought your horse in the first place.

My purchase of Miles was not widely publicized on my blog… mostly because I desperately wanted it to work. I was so done with horse shopping. I might have even said to my husband “If this one doesn’t work out, I’m going to take a break from looking.” So I guess it’s a damn good thing the stars aligned and Miles became mine. However the road to purchasing Miles wasn’t a short or easy one; in fact I bought him three months after I first saw him. My trainer was sold the first time she laid eyes on him, my friends all liked him and I even got the husband’s stamp of approval. But I hesitated, and said no [at first, anyways]. So what sold me?

Our first ride at home.

Miles Face - Artistic

My trainer picked Miles up on Labor Day, he sat in a stall for 20 minutes and then I tacked him up for a lesson. We jumped around 2’3″ fences, walked outside the ring, rode in the scary grass ring right by the road and he never set a foot wrong. We just… clicked. And I couldn’t deny the huge grin I had plastered on my face the entire time. Sometimes things happen for a reason, and I truly do believe that. There’s a reason I didn’t have a good gut feeling about the adoption horse, and there’s a reason Trial Horse went mysteriously lame for the first time in his life. The reason? I was meant to buy Miles.

I know it sounds cheesy and a little bit out there, but let be realistic: I didn’t have a lot to spend, I wanted a ton for my money and I needed a very specific type of ride. I got so incredibly lucky to find Miles because he’s everything I wanted and more. Before I ever saw Miles I wrote a list of attributes by dream horse would have… and Miles actually ticks off a decent number of those boxes. So yeah, I do believe that it was meant to be, and now, it’s hard to imagine ever saying no to this amazingly fabulous horse.