A Tack Cleaning Obsession

Besides being a major saddle pad collector, I’m also a tack cleaner product collector and subsequently, a sponge collector (I have like 40 somehow). Cleaning tack is the most relaxing thing in the world to me. Nothing but me, some dirty tack and a binge session on Netflix. Its a ritual for me, and something I desperately want to implement in my daily riding routine, but it’s also on average 20-15 degrees now when I’m done with riding and my barn stock of tack cleaning supplies are nice and slushy currently.

When it comes to tack cleaning supplies, I’m willing to try out any product and see if it makes a difference with my leather items. I tend to test all and every product on my schooling tall boots because I know those will never see a show ring again, or my Dublins. I’m not very nice to my shoes, so both will most likely be destroyed from so much use in a few years.

For a few years, when I discovered my love of tack cleaning, I was an all glycerin girl. Just squirt some saddle soap on my rag and or sponge and go. And it worked for a while until I had an issue with it and my hands started breaking out getting it all over my hands. So I started looking for alternatives. My dressage saddle, which is buffalo leather, until recently, had the same treatment as my boots as it was so damaged, I didn’t care about more leather damage as it already looked like trash. And it was black so how much more damage could I do to a black saddle vs my brown Ovation jump saddle?

Since the Great Dye Job, I’ve been using Effax products on my saddle. I love the conditioner, but it bothers me that the cleaner is alcohol based, and I have to condition every time I wipe my saddle down. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but we have the dustiest arena known to mankind, and I’m the kind of gal who would prefer to wipe her saddle down every time I ride. Which realistically doesn’t happen very often, despite my best efforts.

My mom bought me some saddle soap wipes for Christmas, which solve the problem for quick and easy but defeat the purpose of avoiding glycerin products. I’ve used to use them before, but they left weird residues on my jump saddle so I stopped. Now I use them mainly on Caroline’s Pessoa because again, the dustiest ring known to mankind. And she’s super anal about what touches her saddle, so they don’t go to waste.

I also own a product called TLC, which stands for Tender Leather Care. It was a 2 in 1 product which made the leather a little tacky. Not enough to be annoying but enough to help with a little stick. Dover sells it, and it comes in some amazing scents, which was a good incentive to clean tack because it smelled so good. I only stopped using it because of the 2 in 1 idea, where maybe the saddle soap and conditioner should be separate. Like a 2 in 1 shampoo.

I also own a lanolin based saddle soap and conditioner from England. The first time we went, we stopped in Harrods, and they had a small section for horse items, mainly just polo outfits for men. I did manage to find the saddle soap and picked up a jar for a souvenir. I used it for a while and liked it, but again, it was a 2 in 1 offender, so I left it in my tack trunk to be a backup cleaner. Due to its makeup being about 50% lanolin, it melts in the summer so another drawback of that product.

Literally smells like heaven

And after all of that experimenting and having a box full of cleaning supplies, I’m still not sure what is best for my tack. I would contact the company, but I highly doubt Jaguar knows how to care for saddle leather, let alone buffalo leather. I might contact Harry Dabbs but it all depends. I just want to make sure everything is going well so this saddle and my jump saddle can last me as long as they can. My jump saddle is over 10 years old, and still looks relatively new minus a scratch or two. And the dressage saddle, I have no idea how old it is, but I’m more paranoid about that one then the jump saddle. Especially after how much work I put into restoring it.

If you have suggestions for a daily tack cleaner that my buffalo saddle would be okay with or have a favorite brand of cleaner, please let me know. Like I said, I’m willing to try anything.

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32 Things about Me

I thought I should do a little more about me so some of you know exactly what you’re dealing with, reading this blog.

  1. I have been riding horses since I was 5, however, I didn’t consider myself a serious rider until I was around ten.
  2. My favorite all time movies from my childhood was any movie from Studio Ghibli.
  3. In my childhood, I used to dramatically yell like Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service, and run to my room flop on my bed and sob like a Disney Princess.
  4. I am very stubborn.
  5. I can remember the age of VHS, cassette tapes, Reading Rainbow, and static-ey TVs.
  6. I am a Marketing Major at my state university.
  7. Said state university campus was said to have been built by a Satanist and there are benches in the shape of 666 and all the half steps are in sets of 6.
  8. I love Disney, not to the degree that my older sister does, but I do appreciate a good Disney movie.
  9. I am 5’6
  10. I have a pet snake named Pretzel
  11. She has an Instagram account
  12. I am not a natural redhead
  13. The red hair was an accident that turned into my signature look
  14. I am about 40% Irish so it works
  15. I have a scar on my right foot from ripping it open on a desk while doing a cartwheel.
  16. At 2 I assumed I could fly, jumped off my parent’s bed and now have a Harry Potter scar on my forehead.
  17. I have only been to the ER once for a horse-related injury.
  18. I have fallen off a horse 3 times and gotten rolled on once in 15 years. (knocking on wood aggressively here)
  19. I got thrown from a horse the day of my license test.
  20. I have gone through three different cars before I turned 20, one got totaled 40 days after getting it, one’s transmission blew, and the current one just got back from being fixed from an accident.
  21. I have anxiety and depression
  22. I am a self-taught digital artist
  23. Marvel movies are my favorites
  24. HTTYD is also a top ten movie
  25. I love dragons
  26. I have been to England twice, and both times we encountered extremely uncommonly weather for the area.
  27. I keep a minimum of 5 blankets on my bed as well as a 12lb weighted blanket.
  28. I am a Level 10 Saddle Pad Collector, and a Level 4 UnnecessaryTack Collector, including a Level 6 Rein Collector
  29. I used to be a State Officer with the FFA.
  30. I want to eventually own a mule.
  31. I am in love with Arabs and desperately want to own one too.
  32. A horse goal of mine is to own a miniature horse or a Shetland, teach them to drive and go pick up the street kids from the bus stop in my cart.

I hope this was a little information about who the random redheaded 20 year old behind the computer.

Operation Fatman Continues

Today is Day 16 in Operation Fatman! He himself is not pleased with this operation, but he’s currently lost all say in the matter.

The Fatman in question

Mikhai is doing really well, to say the least. 16 days in constant work, with only two days off because it was too freakin cold. Thanks Massa-twoshits. Not many updates on his end, besides the usual work work work work. We did swap him to an unbroken kimberwick, which is his usual show bit, but Caroline is considering changing it again, so this is not a permanent change by the sounds of it. He got seen by the chiropractor too on Tuesday, with good results.

Mikhai is surprising me in the sense of he is a horse who got used to get his hocks injected every year since he was 5, and we are 16 days into without them injected. The breeders decided it was just what they should do, and Caroline kept up with it, for fear he would go lame without it. Having 11 years of injections to your hocks must do something negative to a horse. But because they took last season off, he never got them done, so the last time he got done was 2017. Hopefully, we can make it through 2019 without them and see what happens.

Bently got seen by the chiro and the vet in the same day. Caroline opted to have his SI ligament was injected with the vet. It was a safer bet than his actual SI joint seeing this is his first ever injection. My hope is this solves most of the problems and we can avoid the hock injections, but I highly doubt it. There is still a high chance his hocks will have to be done as well.

The chiro’s words about Bently: crooked and all bent out of shape. Which was not surprising to me at all, we knew that. He said he got really good releases out of Bently’s shoulders, something I had noticed before. The scary thing was, I watched him lift Bently’s back almost 3 full inches, right to where it should sit. He had a tabletop flat back like he should. We also checked saddle fit, thankfully my saddle still fits the best, but he did warn me it might not be forever as the muscles change and he starts to use his back more.

Caroline is already planning his retraining regiment. Bently’s back is a lot better then Hamlet’s was at his worst, so she has high hopes it is fully retrainable. He’s on a break until Saturday, and then Caroline is going to spend a few days working with him to get his back up. She has long ass legs and wears big spur to help him pick his barrel up. Once he’s at a place she’s comfortable with, I’ll get on and work with him but I think it will be mostly me and her for the time being. Once we get him to the right place maybe other lessons can ride, but they have to be good.

And I don’t mean that in a bad way, saying some of the lesson kids suck at riding, but it won’t take much to get him to revert back to sinking his back and such so it’s one of those pick and choose kind of lesson kids. One girl who rode him before his injections won’t be allowed to anymore, she keeps her hands so stiff and out, that it would make him revert in a split second. Caroline isn’t even a fan of how she rides Hamlet, even with a german martingale she can’t get his head down.

On that note, I can’t wait till Bently starts to figure himself out. My goal is to work with him this year, I honestly am so in love with him, and he’s such a good boy who does try so hard. He would make the cutest sport horse/dressage horse ever so I’m hoping we can get him to start using himself.

Saddle Seat Horse to Sport Horse

If you follow my Instagram, which I highly suggest as I’m working on getting that going, you might have noticed a chestnut arabian in some of my posts. Okay most of them.

Bently is a 12 year old half arab, half saddlebred horse that Caroline brought in as a backup school horse and a possible show horse for her clients for the 2019 show season. He has done everything from saddle seat to native costume to hunters. He probably has the worst cross tie manners, constantly nips, but he is the sweetest and most cuddly horse ever. This horse would rather have you hang out in his stall and scratch him all day then work. His owner says he isn’t very affectionate, and we often question what she determines as affectionate, as he will literally pull you back into the stall for more love.

First ride on Bently, exactly 2 days from when he came

When he came in, he was all hips and no real belly. We were all a bit concerned after a month of sweet feed, and he hadn’t gained anything. After a terrifying night, we finally figured out it was ulcers. 90% of show horses end up with ulcers, so Caroline was more shocked we missed all the signs. He put on a little more weight, and wasn’t a total ass on the cross ties, however that still remains up to debate on my end.

His “come back and love me” face

Bently’s current presenting issues are his hocks and his back. His owner told us he’d never had injections, but after two months of work, he still has a lot of trouble with the canter. He’s on two joint supplements that work wonders on Caroline’s 19 year old half arab, but ultimately if we want him as a show horse, he is going to need injections.

His back is pretty bad. His back and very boney face make him look 29 instead of 12. Bently, like I mentioned earlier, has been mainly a saddle seat horse his entire life. Something which I am beginning to see, and something Caroline has seen for years, is trainers are treating horses like products, not animals. All they care about is getting those wins and not the welfare of the horse. Bently seems to be a prime example of this. 12 years old and he has the back of a 30-year-old.

I’ve liked this horse since I sat on him the first time in December. And after much debate, Caroline decided it was time to retire his saddle seat shoes and move him to a hunter or sporthorse state of mind. She still has yet to decide about using him as a lesson horse. Another one of Bently’s ticks is he always walks off on the first rider; like will not stand still for the rider to mount.

This past Friday, the farrier came out. We took about 2-3 inches off hoof off of his feet, and he actually dropped three horseshoe sizes. The poor guy must have had a bad experience with farriers, as he kicked the farrier’s apprentice when he went to try to trim his backs. I was deemed the emotional support human, and I spent an hour holding his head, letting him lick me all over, giving him scratches etc. I have two giant bruises on my hand from when he managed to get two fingers into his mouth and tried to chew on them. Makes sense why he has a cone in his stall now.

He got Friday off from work as he had so much hoof come off and he was a bit lame from it. Saturday was amazing. I pulled him out not expecting much from him, as it was day 2 on new toes. He was a bit spicy on the lunge line, and again I wasn’t expecting much out of him. I would be happy if I got a nice trot.

I hopped on, and he was already stretching for the bit at the walk. I kept playing with it, and all of a sudden, for the first time in a month, I felt his back come up underneath me. I was so excited, I kept pushing for it at the walk, not asking for a collection and a frame yet, afraid I was about to lose it. Then I asked for the trot. I am so happy to say I got a full 7 circles of stretchy, loose trot, with his back under him. I was literally about to cry on his back I was so excited. And then, of course, my sister had to call me in the middle of my ride to ask me how many slimes she should buy, and after that, it wasn’t as good. My good friend Sophia, who has her own amaxing Western and now English dressage horse, managed to get some short video for me after that phone call.

Ignore my commentary

Overall, I still have until March to figure out who I’m using in the AHA circuit for the 2019 show season, but my goals with Mr. Bently are to get him using his body the way he should be, so he lasts another 10-15 years, as well as keep documenting my progress with him here.

Tack Trunk Frenzy

Part of any equestrians journey, one encounters a lot of different pieces of equipment, supplies, suppliers, and brands. One of the biggest difficulties in my journey is finding the perfect item that might solve my problem and its reviews don’t go beyond, “Oh it’s great, my horse loves it!”, “It fits great!”, or “It sucked don’t buy it”. It’s very frustrating. So I’ve decided that I will incorporate reviews of products I try on horses and myself to help some people out.

I did a lot of research on this trunk and found very little reviews or information on. This is one of the better more expensive purchases I made. I will be honest, it was something me and my parents decided that we would split the price on, and I found the cheapest distributor to buy it from. Before that, I scoured Facebook Marketplace before we made the official purchase. Of course, after we made the purchase, like 7 popped up.

Here she is off the official website

“The “Saddle Trunk” has large 10″ wheels that make the Saddle Trunk easy to transport. The lockable lid flips up for access to a divided storage compartment that’s perfect for bandages, braiding supplies, or personal items. It has a dry erase board and pen, mirror, and a removable towel bar available to hang pads or towels. The lockable trunk houses two saddles, two bridle racks and three hooks for strap goods. A third saddle rack attaches to the front of the trunk for cleaning or tacking up. Compartments inside the door keep bottles, brushes or bandages corralled. Handsome and rugged, the “Saddle Trunk” is designed and built for years of faithful service.”- Burlingham Sports Website

Their website marks it for a price of $975, however, I managed to find it on a remote Virginia tack shop website for $700. Smartpak and Dover have the same price, or around that on their website. The nice thing about this deal was shipping was free as it gets drop shipped from the manufacturer.

Some of you might be thinking I’m crazy buying this thing. It looks like a trash can on wheels. A lot of people told me I could save money just buying a Husky storage tote and a saddle rack. The whole reason I wanted a vertical storage trunk, vs a horizontal one was that at the time of purchase, I was planning on having two saddles in a lockable container Two saddles, especially a jump and dressage saddle, would not fit in one of those horizontal ones along with my equine supply and saddle pad hoarding problem. Also, I did not have the money for what my dream is to have, which is one of those double door storage boxes on wheels made of aluminum like Charlotte Dujardin’s.

Not exactly like this but close

Another reason was the first barn I was ever at, we had huge lockers. And as a leaser, I got a locker so I was used to that locker type feel of storing my stuff. Then we moved to another barn where all the tack was shoved into two small (think mini horse sized) stalls where I had no place to bring or put any of my own stuff. Sue’s stuff barely fit in their already crowded stuff. And when we moved to our current location, Caroline couldn’t guarantee me a space in the tack room as boarders had first dibs. And if I ever had to bring my stuff home, it would be contained and my parents wouldn’t have to yell at me for all my hoarding issues all over the mudroom. Which has happened before.

My current configuration

Anyways, onto the trunk itself. Now it boasts an interior space of 37″ x 23″ x 23″, with a top storage compartment of about 4-5 inches deep. It fits my two 17.5 saddles okay. I’ll be honest when it came in the mail, I thought it was too big. Now I think I needed the bigger one. The issue with having a dressage saddle and jump saddle is that the dressage saddle is too long to go on the bottom and on the top, it blocks the bridle racks so bridles can’t hang free. Everything gets squished to the back when you put two saddles in there. When it was just my jump, it was okay. There are 2 horseshoe shaped metal bridle hooks on the left and 3 regular hooks on the right, as well as a third hook on the door. The horseshoe-shaped hooks were oddly facing up when I got them, so the bridles hung weirdly till I unscrewed them and flipped them the correct way. This tack trunk is still pretty spacious, as it holds my two saddles, a bridle, my brush box, helmet, all my liquid supplies, bits, lunge line, my personal things, etc. Oh and WD40.

Door Storage
Top Compartment Storage with the extra saddle rack on the right

Unfortunately, I still have to keep a plastic tote as the rest of my saddle pad collection, and some other large storage items like coolers, unused bridles, martingales, surcingles, long lines, spare supplies etc. If I wanted to, I think I could make it all fit but I still do want to function out of this trunk so I keep the spare tote.

Moving wise, it was a bit of a hassle to get from my house to the barn, it barely fit in Barn Mom’s car. But the wheels come in handy, so it was easy to move it from its previous location to its current in the barn. I have seen someone else with one just like mine at shows, and hers fit perfectly in her trailer so I know using it as a traveling tack room works like a charm too. It has an area in the back that can work to secure it to a wall or a pole so you don’t have to worry if someone wants to walk off with it. And it can lock in two places so double security!

Overall, if you can find them used, or have the money to invest in one, I’d say go for it. I can’t say if they’re better then a custom wooden one on wheels, I’d assume the wooden ones would be heavier but they’re getting super complicated with some of these tack trunks and boxes these days. I like the plastic one as it can get dinged up and dusty and scratched all over and I still wouldn’t care so much.

Hopefully this was helpful in some way. Let me know what else you might want me to review!