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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. (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.

SMART Goals

Quarterly Review of Goals – 2014 Q2

Holy crap, the year is halfway over… which is just crazy to me. 2014 has just absolutely flown by; and it’s been jam-packed with memories I will cherish forever. From figuring out my new horse to buying a boatload of tack and even jumping my first 2’9″ fence, my equestrian life had a ton of great stuff going on. And my personal life was just the same: I got married and my husband graduated from law school.

So even though my Q1 Review doesn’t seem that far removed from today, there’s been a lot going on. I remember feeling like I hadn’t accomplished very much [aside from spending a ton of money], so in the last three months I’ve made an effort to be more cognizant of my goals and take steps to achieve success. However, I also know I’ve been busy with many other things, and sometimes that means my goals have taken a lower priority [oops]. So now it’s the moment of truth–how far have I really come in the last six months? Let’s find out:

Tracy’s Riding Goals

  • Increase flexibility (hamstrings, right ankle) In flat rides this year I’ve focused on sinking down into my heels evenly in both legs, and so far I’ve definitely improved. The same can be said for my hamstrings: I’m working on breaking over more at the hip, although I think some work outside of riding would really benefit me in this area. So before my next review, I’d like to be able to say I did some hamstring stretches at home. 
  • Increase Leg Strength Since I’ve been riding and jumping more lately, my leg strength has improved. But I’m disappointed in myself because I really haven’t dedicated any specific time to this. So I need to set aside some time to do two-point and no stirrup work over the next few months during my flat rides. 
  • Improve Flat Position, with a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels I’ve been more aware of how far forward my leg is, but I need to make a conscious effort to correct it, starting at the walk. That’s code for making absolutely no improvement in this area. Fail. 
  • Improve Jumping Position, with more break over at the hips As I said in my first goal, this has come a long way already! I don’t “stand up” in my irons over fences anymore, so that’s great progress. However, as I get tired, I get more stiff, and don’t break over as much; so I still need to perfect the consistency with which I do this. 
  • Consistently jump 2’6” in lessons I’m so close! I’ve been jumping bigger in lessons, but I don’t always get up to 2’6″. 
  • Show 2’6” Not yet… but maybe later this month or August? 

Miles at dac Classic

Miles’ Goals

  • Improve lengthening and shortening within all 3 gaits Trot is 100 percent solid, but at the canter we have good days and bad days. If anyone has any good exercises to help work on this, I’m all ears! 
  • Improve balance, especially through tighter turns Our balance is so. much. better. We can do 15 meter circles like a boss now, although I’m still learning to be consistent with my outside aids to get the best turn possible. 
  • Increase stamina/power to the left This is a tough one, and we still kind of have good days and bad days. Although, once we start jumping, it seems to be right there. I think this might be something I always need to keep an eye on, and that Miles always struggles with [at least mildly]. 
  • Gain more muscling in neck and topline

Personal Goals

  • Stick to a workout plan Still sucking it up big time here; I need to get my ass in gear and start walking before work! 
  • Learn portion control I’ve made huge strides in portion control, so that’s a win! I no longer have to have seconds [although occasionally on Sundays I still do] and I’m also eating healthier. Go me! 
  • Increase core strength My core is stronger for sure, although that’s mostly because I’ve been focusing on it so much in my lessons. I’d really like to be able to say I’ve done some core workouts outside of riding before my next review. 
  • Lose 25 pounds I don’t want to talk about it. 🙁
  • Create a more inclusive budget Heh. Other things seem to have taken precedence… which is NOT GOOD. 

blue ribbons

Bucket List

  • Win a blue ribbon with Miles We won Limit Eq Over Fences at our First Show of 2014! 
  • Win a division champion with Miles We won the Limit Equitation division at our June Show!
  • Show in a 2’6″ Equitation Over Fences class
  • Show in a Hunter Derby/Special Class
  • Go to an A-Rated show Our June show was A-Rated! 
  • Go to an overnight (for me) show
  • Ride on the beach
  • Trail ride with Sam

Wow, I can’t believe how many items I’ve already cross off my Bucket List so far this year! Almost all of my show-related goals have already been accomplished, with the exception of just a few. It feels fucking awesome to be having such a great show season so far!

Tack Wishlist

  • Close contact saddle
  • Stirrup leathers
  • Shaped fleece pad that fits my new saddle Bought an Ecogold Forward Flap Shaped Pad! 
  • Liquid Leather Spanish top Tall Boots Bought a pair of Ariat Challenge Field Boots! 
  • Helmet with removable, machine wash liner
  • Tailored Sportsman Breeches
  • New hunt coat I bought an Irideon Kismet coat in May! 

miscellaneous tack

Okay, so goal-wise it doesn’t look like I’ve accomplished very much more than I did back in April; however, I know I’ve made a lot of progress in the riding areas — I’m just lacking consistency. If I keep on keeping on, and add in a few extra exercises once a week, by the time Q3 rolls around, I think I’ll be able to cross a lot of these off. My personal goals category is where I need to up the ante the most; I’m seriously sucking on accomplishing most of those. Luckily I have another six months to cross a few of those off. These next few months I need to really focus on me, myself and I to start some new [better] lifestyle habits. So if anyone wants to help kick my ass into gear, let me know! And of course, my most successful category is the “Spend Tons of Money” one. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming; yeah, me too. Well, we’ve all gotta be good at something, right?!

Lessons, Lessons, Lessons

I have a confession to make: I’ve been seriously slacking on lesson updates. And I’m truly sorry I’ve been holding out; but I promise to make it up to you right here, right now. I had a lesson last Thursday and again last night–and they were both fabulous. You know that feeling when things are just going well and you and your horse are on the same page? Well that’s how things have been lately between Miles and I. It’s fucking fantastic.

On Monday I told my Trainer I wanted to focus on jumping wider jumps. Some of my anxiety about moving up to the next division [2’6″] stems from the fact that the jumps are wider than my current 2′ division. Show management really fills out their jumps with boxes and brush in the Big Ring… so even the verticals are like the size of the oxers we jump at home and the actual oxers seem just plain monstrous. So Trainer set up a single jump in the middle of the ring, and we started out over a 2′ vertical. Miles pretty much flipped us the bird and said “I don’t give a fuck about two foot” and didn’t even deign to actually jump the jump. So we quickly went on to a 2′ oxer. Each time we went over, Trainer raised the fence height. When we got up to 2’6″ she made the jump a bit wider, and I was definitely nervous the first time. But I put my leg on, and we sailed right over!

Miles dac Classic

I flubbed one distance at 2’6″, and I was so mad at myself. Of course Miles went over anyway [although it didn’t look pretty], but I just didn’t help him at all. I didn’t pick a distance, I didn’t really tell him anything, and when we got to the base of the jump, I didn’t add any leg. Oops. Oh well, live and learn. I’m going to make mistakes and sometimes it’s going to be Miles’s job to get us out of tough situations–I guess it’s good to know he’ll do his job! We came around and did the 2’6″ oxer again without issue.

And then the jump went up again… and it got even wider. There was a second where I thought to myself, do I really want to do this? But Miles felt so game, so I looked ahead, rode to the base of the 2’9″ oxer, added leg and released. I got jumped out of the tack just the tiniest bit, but I stayed with Miles’s motion on the landing side and I was grinning from ear to ear! The air time on that jump was so damn cool!! I could literally feel Miles snap his knees up and there was a moment where I felt suspended in the air. I’ve never felt that before and it was utterly amazing. I am so proud of myself for stretching my comfort zone and jumping bigger fences than I’ve ever jumped before. Talk about a huge accomplishment for this weenie adult amateur!!

Miles dac Classic

My lesson last night was more relaxed and about preparing for our show this weekend [New Vocations Charity]. So the fences went down to 2’3″-2’6″ and I worked on a little bit less pace with an emphasis on coursework. It was hot and humid, but Miles was a good boy; we had some challenges in a three stride line [I kept getting in close to the first jump and having to gallop on a little to get out] but it all worked, and Miles listened very well. We rode with one of my favorites, L, and a new girl, D, who is going to show with us this weekend. Despite the terrible circumstances that surround the reason my Trainer is getting some new clients, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know some new people. Many of the new clients are coming to the show this weekend, and I’m thrilled to show them just how Team Brookside rolls! It should be a blast, and I’m looking forward to spending my long weekend at a horse show!