A Thomas Update And Good News From The Surgeon

I haven’t said much about Thomas since my accident, mostly because I’ve only been able to see him a handful of times on the weekends, but also because I’ve had a lot of thoughts floating around in my ahead. Unfortunately I’m a chronic over-thinker, as evidenced by my last post, which is the worst thing I can be in this situation.

I’ve found that just not thinking about him is helpful, which sounds awful and is completely against my nature! I can’t control what’s going on with him, which is hard, so I just don’t even think about it. But I know he’s in good hands with Dustin and Michelle Craig at WestWind Farms in Upperville, learning all about the world.

He’s gone to a couple of local schooling facilities with a group of horses in the trailer and by all reports has been getting on the trailer fine and standing to wait his turn and when he’s done.

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Thomas on May 21.

He did his first cross-country schooling a couple of weeks ago, and went up a bank, through water and over some little logs following another horse. He even left the group to go back to the trailers with no problem. Hopefully I can go watch him soon.

On the flat, Dustin’s been working on getting him to bend in all three gaits, and each time I’ve gone out he’s been more willing sooner to stretch downwards, first in trot and now a little bit in canter. He still wants to fall in on his left shoulder naturally, but it’s getting better.

He needs to learn to relax, so Dustin has been taking him for long hacks and working in the field a bit.

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Thomas on May 29

 

He did have one similar incident to mine with the mounting block where he started moving and felt the mounting block under his feet and got upset, so Dustin let him sleep with the mounting block in his stall for a few days, then had a helper move a short pole under his legs while he walked so he’d have to get used to having his legs get a little tangled up. He worked him over piles of random poles too, and when I saw him after that one weekend I was a little surprised to see him so sensitive to trotting over single rails and small jumps, but he had to take a step backwards to go forward as they say.

He’s going to stay through early August so I can get back in the saddle with Oh So first, then I’m hoping I can get on him at Dustin’s under supervision to see how it goes.

I was finally able to stand up close to him this week without my wheelchair, and he seemed friendly, but I wonder if he even remembers me? He definitely seems like a different horse, and it’s only been 7 weeks or so. I’m hoping as I get back to the office in the next week or two that I can visit him more often and start bonding again.

I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about him, so for now I’m going to keep him. He’s just overly sensitive and will need a lot of time, which is the exact opposite of what I wanted, but so it goes. Slow and steady wins the race. It has definitely become a new learning experience for me. Hopefully I can take some of the groundwork techniques from Dustin to use in the future.

As for my recovery, I was surprised to get permission to start fully weight bearing last week. My X-rays looked good, so I’m on the move with crutches and ankle braces that look like lace up high tops. I was also given permission to go to Rebecca Farm in July, so I’m super excited about that.

Great Meadow is first though, and I know I’ll probably be a bit lame, but there’s going to be less walking there. I’ve got a few weeks to get my endurance and strength up. I’m mostly just sore at the end of the day, and stiff in the morning. I’ve started outpatient physical therapy in Leesburg twice a week, so that should get my mobility back.

I’ve been able to groom Oh So a bit standing up, and we’ve both been enjoying that. Here’s some photos from the last few weeks!

 

 

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Product Review: Saddlebox Monthly Subscription Box

I’m always up for trying new products, so when I discovered Saddlebox, a monthly subscription box for horse lovers, I was excited to try it.

I’ve been a subscriber to A Horse Box for several months, and I enjoy getting a box of surprises in the mail each month! I’ve found a few new brands that I enjoy through my monthly boxes and have received a lot of old favorites too.

Saddlebox retails for $37.95 a month and contains around $60 worth of products. Each month subscribers will receive 6-8 products for horses and humans. A percentage of the proceeds goes towards helping “rescue abused horses,” but the portion donated and names of the charities are not listed on their website. They do have a page that suggests places to donate to though, so I’m guessing those are the organizations that will benefit.

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The Products

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Horse-Shaped Hand Soap

Each Saddlebox will contain at least one item for riders. There’s nothing special about this unscented soap, but it would look nice on a bathroom countertop!

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Kiss My Horse Sample Set

I love sample sizes for traveling and testing products. They’re especially good for sensitive horses (and humans) too so you can make sure the product doesn’t give yours an allergic reaction.

I was surprised to find out that Kiss My Horse is a brand from the makers of Mrs. Conn’s soap-filled sponges, which I’ve received twice in my A Horse Box.

The kit contains a shampoo, conditioner and detangler. I haven’t used the samples yet, but wow, they smell good enough to eat! Sort of a mix of coconut and pineapple…very appropriate for summer.

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Bridle Bites Horse Treats

Saddlebox features a different recipe of their homemade brand of treats each month. Rocky got to be the tester, and he gives them two thumbs up! They contain flour, molasses, cinnamon and frosting.

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Epona LOVE Curry Brush

This wooden brush retails for $11.99. It can be used as a mane and tail comb or a massager on the body, and it also helps loosen hair, dander and dirt. No complaints from Oh So!

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Epona Sponge

This appears to be a smaller version of Epona’s Scrubby Sponge Sack. It contains a sponge inside, which can be replaced. I’ve used the larger version before, and it’s definitely better than a regular sponge due to the textured fabric that helps work the shampoo into the coat. It’s easy to hang dry too, making it a must for bath time.

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Herbsmith Liniment (sample size)

Made with witch hazel and Chinese herbs, this natural liniment smells nice due to a small amount of menthol. I’ve tried it before from A Horse Box and liked it. It’s not too tingly for Oh So’s sensitive Thoroughbred skin.

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Spurr’s Big Fix Filly Cream Moisturizer (sample size) 

Spurr’s sells several products for horses, cattle and dogs, including a hoof spray and wound ointment. I’d never heard of this brand, but it seems a little pricey for full-size items. The all-natural moisturizer included in the boxcan be used on horses or humans and has a light citrus scent. I couldn’t find directions for use on horses, but I think it might work as a leave-in conditioner on manes and tails.

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The Horse Lovers Guide To Massage (book)

I’m not a fan of hard copy books these days, but this looked interesting enough. It’s a quick read about basic massage techniques, equine anatomy and how to find a massage professional. There’s a coupon code for 20% off any e-course, and a link to a free video series that goes along with the book. I don’t read a lot of books personally, so I don’t think I’d want to get one every month.

Overall, I think the selection of items was quite good. I think trial-sized items are good, especially if you have one horse. Things can start piling up quickly! A Horse Box sends 5 items a month for $25 in comparison. I don’t want to get a book every month, and if Saddlebox could maybe replace that with another full size item, I might be inclined to subscribe. But for now, $37.95 is a bit too pricey for me.

I do like the idea of donating proceeds to charity though, so if I could afford it, I’d probably try a few more boxes.

The company just started in May, so this is their second box, and I’m sure they’ll refine things as they go along. I like the idea of having a theme each month too. They’re offering 10% off for life for new subscribers, which brings the cost down to about $34 per month.

Disclaimer: Saddlebox contacted me and sent a box to try for free.

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Finding A Purpose

I just passed the three-week mark since my accident, and I’ve had (way too much) time to reflect on what happened and what’s next.

Since I began riding as a kid, I’ve never gone more than two weeks without being on a horse, and now I’m looking at mid-July for the next opportunity.

Unable to weight-bear for now, I feel like a totally useless blob. I’m unable to groom (except one side of the minis!) or bathe the horses, or mess around in the barn. I can’t exercise, go shopping, visit with friends in person or travel.

I feel like I’ve lost purpose without riding in my life. Each day blends into the next, and I just feel like I’m wasting time. All I’m able to do is work, then stare at a screen some more, either reading a magazine on my iPad or watching TV. I’ve taken to eating my lunch outside and sitting in my wheelchair in the barn while watching my mom feed and turnout the horses but that’s all the horse time I’m getting.

I’m such a type A, always-busy kind of person that having all this time is no fun! I plan my life by the hour. Before my injury I was actually getting mildly burned out with traveling so much, but I’ve realized I thrive on that. I’d much rather be standing out in the freezing cold rain at Jersey Fresh than sitting on my butt in the house.

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Dusty riding Thomas on May 21.

I’ve had time to think about what I want to do with Thomas, and I’m just not sure. I went to see him at Dusty’s last weekend, and he was settled back into living in a stall for half the day. He worked on stretching him in walk and trot under saddle and did a little bit of canter. He said he’s been hacking a lot and just getting him to learn to relax. When I saw him go he looked quite tense, but I’ll give him that considering he’s in a new place with a new rider being asked to do hard things like bend his body much more than I ever would have thought to ask.

I’ve found that unfortunately with boarding and my budget, there’s always one thing that you have to sacrifice, and for me that’s hacking. I have access to two gravel driveways that make for a 20-minute loop, but I’ve been hesitant to do the whole thing on my own. And it seems Thomas is the kind of OTTB who needs a lot of hacking to learn to relax…see my conundrum?

Luckily I have two friends that will be moving in on June 1 so I’ll hopefully be able to have some help, especially when it comes to getting on.

If it was up to me, I’d do one to two just-hacking days per week. I’ve alway tried to vary Oh So’s work days, but he’s at the point now where although he loves hacking, if I can’t for a week, he’s fine.

Before the accident I was getting increasingly frustrated about not having regular flat lessons wth Thomas. With Bear and Oh So I got regular lessons so I felt like I had guidance, confirmation I was doing the correct thing, and most importantly, a plan.

I’m often told to believe in myself more than I do, but I still believe I need help. Ironically, Heidi, who isn’t able to travel to me right now, had made some time to come do both horses on the day I fell. That would have been my second flat lesson in 5 months, which thinking about it is insane. But Lisa didn’t think he was ready to start traveling yet over the winter, then I got busy with traveling, and it was never “the right time” either  because of weather or taking Oh So to a show.

I don’t feel super upset that I can’t see Thomas right now, but I am pretty unhappy that I can only see Oh So a couple of times a week and that I don’t have anyone to keep him moving on a regular basis. He tends to get in trouble/become feral when he’s not messed with most days. Plus, who knows how many more years I have with him? He’s being going great this spring, and now this!

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Thomas and Dusty working on bending.

I’m not sure why I don’t feel that way about Thomas…I think part of it is that I know he’s in good hands and being ridden every day. But I almost feel like if I just let Dusty sell him now, I wouldn’t be too upset over it. I just don’t have that emotional attachment yet. To be honest, without flat lessons, I was feeling kind of lost and unmotivated. The first year seems to be the hardest part of training an OTTB, and a lot of it is just going through the daily grind of tension, trying to stay on or survive a spook, and without guidance, I wasn’t happy.

It was nice when I visited him. He was certainly more friendly to me than Oh So, who was being fussy and probably thinking, “Who is this amateur (my mom) grooming me, and when do we get going?”

He put his head down, and I fed him tons of carrots in his stall. I didn’t want to scare him too much being in the wheelchair!

I thought we’d gained trust in each other before the accident, but now I don’t trust him. If I decide to sell him when he comes back, I’ll still have to ride him, so I might as well keep him right? Otherwise I’d have to start over and potentially go through all of this again, bringing my next horse up from the start. It just seems silly that something as trivial as mounting could cause this apprehension from both of us, especially when we haven’t even begun the hard stuff like his first cross-country schooling or his first oxer.

If I don’t sell him, then I wonder, will I be scared getting back on the first time? How long will it take for this to all become a distant memory? Will I always look at him as the horse who did this to me?

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Lucky and Oliver have been keeping me company.

If he’s an overthinker/worrier and I am too, does that make a good match? Do I want to deal with tension and the frustration again like I did with Oh So in the dressage? Or do I need to just get over myself, buck up and deal with it?

He’s obviously a quality horse, but how slow will I have to go? I’m not in a huge rush, but he is now 8, and I told my trainer I didn’t want to take two years to get to beginner novice again, but it looks like he’s going to take more time. I’ve been literally aching to compete on a regular basis since Oh So got injured in 2013, and every time I come close, something comes up with his soundness. Maybe I’m just antsy because I interview so many people about how easy their horses were to bring up the levels. Maybe they’re lying to me about the hard parts?

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Rocky enjoys nibbling on my boots.

I miss the thrill of competing, and I think I tend to thrive on regularly showing so I can improve myself by getting into a rhythm. I just feel like I’m hanging on by a thread here, and I’ve felt that way for awhile, even before the accident.

What’s really killing me is Facebook. Seeing photos of how amazing people’s weekends are and what exotic place they’re traveling to makes my heart really tinge with sadness and envy. I’m mad about missing my vacation, and I’m mad I can’t be out enjoying my horses. I should stay off it, but literally, what else is there to do?!

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Oh So is not happy about this situation.

So here I sit (literally because I’m unable to stand), waiting to start walking and hoping I can make it to Rebecca Farm and Great Meadow in July. I’m slowly ticking off the days, one by one.

Highs and Very Low Lows

Sitting here on a hospital bed in my parents’ living room, I really can’t believe what’s transpired over the last four days.

I just got back from a great trip to Rolex on Sunday night and got a text from my dressage  trainer telling me she could make a rare trip to my barn to do lessons with both horses on Wednesday afternoon.

I finished work early and was super excited to have a lesson with Thomas, considering we’ve had one flat lesson since I bought him.

I decided to do him first, and did out usual routine tacking up and going out to the arena. I haven’t been lunging him a lot lately, and he’s been going well under saddle. We’ve had two outings, one more successful than the other, but that’s OK.

I went to get on, and he started moving off, so I stopped him, turned him around and walked him back up to the mounting block. Heidi stood by his head to distract him and I put my foot in the stirrup. No sooner was I on that he whipped backwards, half rearing, and then he took off crow hop bucking.

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I remember seeing the saddle below me and thinking I was coming off backwards, but somehow he got me off to the right. I heard some crunching, and knew I’d done at least one of my ankles, but Heidi and I weren’t sure how I fell. I must have landed on my feet and collapsed because nothing else hurt, and my helmet didn’t even have dirt on it. He continued around the arena bronc bucking until his hind ankle boots came off. WTF?

I thought my ankles were just sprained, but then I couldn’t get up, so we called the ambulance.

It was discovered that I have two broken ankles, and I underwent surgery on Thursday to put screws and plates in. I’ve never broken a bone in my life, let alone had surgery. Why did I have to do both?!

Of course, as it seems to be the case with my horses too, the doctor said my injuries were highly unusual.

So now I’m faced with a difficult few months. I have to be cared for completely by my parents, who thankfully don’t live too far away, but I’m essentially on bedrest for at least 2 weeks.

I’ve had to cancel my big European vacation later this month that I’ve been saving up for since last year, I’ve scratched Oh So from his dressage show this weekend and need to find someone to keep him going a little, and I’ve decided to send Thomas for training for two months. I’ll also be missing a few upcoming work trips in which I really needed the overtime pay.

I really have no idea what set Thomas off. I thought we had moved past the mounting issues, but if he’s going to react that violently, then I don’t think I want to deal with it. Hopefully we can get that sorted out while he’s away, but I’ve lost whatever fragile trust I had in him. He’s very sensitive, and I’m sure he didn’t mean to do what he did, but it happened, and I’ve been badly broken because of it.

Before all the drama, Oh So and I had a lovely ride at the Loch Moy Starter Trials. I was so excited to try for a full show season this year, now I likely won’t be getting back in the saddle for 12 weeks!

I’ve never been out of the tack that long, and this is by far the most serious injury I’ve ever had, and I am not looking forward to wasting half of my summer. So, I’ll be a little pouty and whiney for the next few weeks. I hope I’ll be able to see the silver lining in all of this, but right now it pretty much just sucks.

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GRC Photo

Product Review: Shires Stormbreaker Lite Sheet and Jersey Cooler

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Before I won a trip to the Longines Wellington Masters last year, I’d never won anything in my life!

Then one day this winter I randomly entered a contest again on Practical Horseman’s Facebook for a Shires blanket, and I won!

I’ve never tried a Shires brand blanket, having always been loyal to Weatherbeeta and Rambo’s various brands.

I was sent the Stormbreaker Lite Sheet in black/tan with a standard neck. It features 1200 denier waterproof material with shoulder gussets, adjustable chest clips, a wither relief pad, cross belly straps and cross leg straps.

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Front view of the light sheet.

I’ll admit I’ve gotten so used to the single tail strap on my Amigo blankets that cross leg straps were mildly annoying, but they’re certainly something I’m used to from Weatherbeeta blankets.

The front chest straps were a nice touch. I tend to adjust those on the buckle end to get the right fit and then only use the snaps end for quick on and off.

I only tried the blanket on Oh So, who’s a 78″, and it fit true to size. The shoulder gussets aren’t a necessity for him since he’s very narrow-chested, but they certainly didn’t hurt.

Since I got this late in the season, I was only able to test it out a few times in the pouring rain, and he was dry underneath after spending all day outside. I can’t speak to the wear and tear yet, but with about a month’s use it still looks good.

He was in need of a new sheet anyways, so we’ll see how long this one lasts! The sheet retails for $134.99 and comes in sizes 69″-84″.

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Shires Jersey Cooler

I also received a nice jersey cooler in my prize pack. I tend to use half fleece, half mesh coolers during the winter, spring and fall because Oh So runs hot, so I think Thomas will be using this the majority of the time.

It’s also came in black/tan, but is available in navy. It’s quite simple, with cross belly straps, a tail cord and a simple buckle front chest closure.

The outer jersey alter is quite smooth, so nothing stuck to it, and the underside was fleece to keep him warm. It was quite smart, and I think I’ll be using this a lot for trailering.

It comes in sixes 69″-84″ and retails for $62.99, making it a good value for a smart looking cooler.

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Front buckle of cooler

Product Review: Pre-Tied Stock Ties

I recently got the chance to try a bunch of pre-tied stock ties for the Chronicle’s Untacked magazine.

I’ve been really inspired to look into custom things for me and my horses since spending so much time at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and watching all of the dressage queens sparkle and shine, so searching for companies that did stock ties was a lot of fun.

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Bad Habit Pre-Tied Stock Tie

Started in 2014 by dressage rider Veronica Himmelberger in Schnecksville, Pa., Bad Habit Stock Ties’ slogan is, “Put the dress in dressage.”

When she started the company, Himmelberger had recently purchased a custom saddle pad and wanted a stock tie to match. She wasn’t finding what she wanted, so she made her own. After she ended up with a pile of stock ties, her husband suggested she sell them to pay for her “bad habit.” Combined with inspiration from the term “riding habit,” the company and its name were created.

Himmelberger is a one-woman operation and sells her ties to cover her horse expenses.

I had a hard time choosing one to try because of the endless different options. From fabric color and texture, to the size of the buttons, pins, ribbons or gems you can add, every stock tie is enviable.

As an eventer, I loved the colorblocked styles that use white and a custom color on the edges, with optional gems, but if you’re looking for something even fancier, some of the ties looked straight out of Downton Abbey—made of silk or lace with fancy brooches that look very Victorian chic.

Picking your cross-country or barn colors is fun, but if you need a more muted tie to follow Fédération Equestre Internationale rules, you can still dress it up by choosing a textured fabric and adding some bling. Collar extenders are also available for $1.50.

This one ended up being my favorite, and I chose one with blue and black trim and crystals that I’ve since worn at shows.

Learn more: etsy.com/shop/BadHabitStockTies
Cost: $60 for a handmade tie; $45-50 for pre-made ties.

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Ovation Dri-Tex Dressage Pre-Tied Stock Tie

Ovation’s budget-friendly Dri-Tex Dressage Stock Tie is no frills but all comfort. Available only in white and in sizes small through extra large, the tie is made from the brand’s moisture-wicking Dri-Tex fabric.

The tie was light as a feather when I wore it, and I hardly noticed it. It doesn’t come with a pin, so if you want to dress it up, it’s up to you. It looks a little limper compared to some of the fancier ties, but I’ll take that over feeling like I can’t bend my head and neck with too much fabric under my neck. It looks classic, despite fewer ruffles or a fancier “knot.”

Based on the feel of the fabric compared to some wicking shirts I own, I think it will work well on a summer day.

The tie features a hook-and-loop fastener, and the fabric’s treated with Scotchgard™ to help most stains come out in the wash. If you want easy and simple, this tie’s for you. There’s also an untied version.

Learn more: ovationriding.com
Cost: $22.95

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Style Stock Pre-Tied Stock Tie

Adored by top eventers, including Tamra Smith and Lauren Billys, West Coast-based Style Stock makes stocks in a variety of fabrics, selling untied and pre-tied versions of designs created in 2014 by eventer Hannah Childs of Santa Barbara, Calif.

From ruffles to rhinestones and knots to more simple pieces, Childs’ designs aren’t over the top. The colors and patterns are great for someone just stepping out of the comfort zone of a traditional white tie.

Light pinks, blues, lavender, silver, gold and cream shades give these stock ties an elegant look. The tie I tried included a pin you insert after crossing the two pieces of fabric.

The tie, which fastens with two snaps, was a bit tight, and although they’re only available in one size, extenders are available. Many designs are machine washable.

Learn more: Stylestock.co
Cost: $59-$69

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Salute Stock Ties Pre-Tied Stock Tie

Founded in 2014 in Princeton, N.J., by U.S. Dressage Federation S judge Kem Barbosa and FEI dressage rider Lisa Stockman, Salute Stock Ties offers conservative-looking pieces with a bit of flare.

Barbosa and Stockman were inspired to create a well-fitting stock tie that didn’t sag, was flattering to the neck and easy to put on.

The ties are designed to come high up the neck, and the knot is placed high as well, so the tie stays full and sits securely under the chin. They’re wide enough to sit securely under a jacket, and the hook-and-loop enclosure was generous and comfortable.

Blue or black polka dots, gingham and checkered patters are different, but not too crazy for competition. In addition, foxhunters should like how similar this tie looks to a traditional untied stock, and many of the colors and patterns are subtle enough for the hunt field.

A fun feature with these ties is that they’re reversible. You can wear them four different ways by flipping the collar and the tie piece. My favorite was a blue-checkered collar with a white tie. The fit was unobtrusive and comfortable and just required a pin to secure the tie in the right place.

The ties are manufactured in the United States by members of the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana.

Learn more: salutestockties.com
Cost: $60

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Equi-Logic Stock Tie

Created by equestrian entrepreneur Julie Lackey, Equi-Logic pre-tied stock ties come in several different styles.

Lackey started making stock ties in the 1990s, and her original, the “Tie One On,” is still available today. A dressage rider sick of choking on the traditional stock tie, Lackey, of Las Vegas, tries to emulate the traditional knot in some of her designs, but she also has bib and ruffle collar versions.

The Tie One On comes in a textured pique fabric or a cotton poplin, both of which are designed to hold their shapes without ironing. It comes in plain white with a simple pin or with colored trim. A unique feature is the removable fabric that turns the stock into a ratcatcher.

My favorite of Lackey’s ties was the colorblock tie (pictured), which comes in satin or poplin and a choice of black, blue, purple or red for the collar. It was not bulky and laid nicely under my coat. It’s machine washable too, making it easy care.

Learn more: equi-logic.net

Cost: $28-$36

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Fancy Pants 2-Color Pre-Tied Stock Tie

The eventer in me silently squealed when I saw the Fancy Pants 2-Color pre-tied stock tie. I love color coordination, and Amanda Ruane, of Sarver, Pa., who started her company in 2016, had a beautiful red, white and black tie that was calling my name.

Made of polyester taffeta and polyester satin, there is a lot of fabric, but it laid flat and didn’t feel bulky around my neck. The tie had a generously sized hook-and-loop fastener.

If it’s too much color for you, the blouse is interchangeable by reaching under the tie and undoing the fastener. I changed it from black to white, and it looked just as nice. There is also a permanent blouse option.

Ruane offers different brooches and one-color ties and sells ties with crystal embellishment.

The general style and pattern of the ties are the same, but custom color options make these really fun. Ruane said she invites creativity and will work with a rider to make her vision a reality as she continues to grow her business.

Learn more: fancypantsstockties.com
Cost: $60 and above

Out And About (And An Abscess)

Spring has finally spring in Virginia, and I’m ready to start competing and getting Thomas out and about!

After my last post, I took Oh So to Morven Park to see Dr. Adams assuming we’d get his hock or stifles done.

Upon flexions though, he was very good from behind and mildly positive on his right front ankle. He had some mild inflammation there that Dr. Adams thought was some minor arthritis, so we injected that and a few areas in his back behind the saddle where he palpated a bit sore.

The good news is his left front ankle and the areas around his windpuff and deep digital flexor tendon sheath flexed 100 percent negative! Dr. Adams admitted he was a little nervous to see him considering our last appointment he was not feeling positive about his overall soundness and ability to continue competing, but he said he looked better than ever. He’s gained 100 pounds since August too thanks to a good feeding program from my barn owner.

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Valerie Durbon Photo.

I entered Morven Park with the assumption that it would be wet and we might not be able to run cross-country, and unfortunately a ton of rain on the Friday before meant the footing wasn’t going to be ideal for him. Any other year I would say the footing was pretty darn good for Morven, especially by the time I would have gone on Sunday, but there were too many spots of concern on course for Lisa to want to risk him.

I’m bummed it became an expensive combined test, especially considering we were leading after show jumping!

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GRC Photo.

He was a little up as we headed down to the dressage warmup with atmosphere, but as soon as I picked up the reins he went to work. He was a little tight as we got to the main arena and started trotting around, but I tried to stay as relaxed as I could. He can be forgiven for being a bit tense for our first outing of the year! Unfortunately he got me again in our free walk and anticipated the medium walk and jigged, so there will be some dressage schooling shows in our future to get that under control again.

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GRC Photo.

I was remarkably relaxed for show jumping, and we warmed up quite well actually. He was jumping big and I wasn’t picking! The round was quite good–no picking, no rails and he got all his leads because I wasn’t ducking. I was really pleased considering we’d had a bit of a tough lesson the week before. Not bad, just the fact that he didn’t want to sit and rock back over the jumps. We ended up putting some ground rails in front of a few of them to make him wait, but I counted on him backing off the jumps at the show.

I decided against entering MCTA in May because everything is on grass and it can often be wet. Such is life these days for us. Instead, I’m going back to Morven to try my hand at a recognized dressage show.

The last time I did a recognized dressage show I had Palais and was in the junior division, so it will be interesting to see how we stack up. I’m expecting it to be tougher for sure, but maybe we can win a TIP Award?

We’re doing First 2 and 3. I’m hoping two tests in a day will get him a little more rideable in the ring. If that goes well there’s a recognized show at Loch Moy in June that would be fun to try.

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Not sure what’s going on with my leg here, but it’s not slipped back, so that’s good! GRC Photo.

Next up for us though is the CDCTA schooling day on Saturday and the Loch Moy starter trials next week.

Thomas has been going well, but unfortunately at the end of March I felt some funny steps from behind. I did a couple of days of bute thinking it was because he had run around a lot one day when I was there, and then he came sound and had a great lesson with Lisa that weekend.

My farrier came on the 29th and he was sore on his left hind foot and heel in particular, but the farrier thought it was the way his alignment and gait was as he’s been working to correct it.

He was still sound until last week when he was not wanting to walk on it. While I was away at The Fork my barn manager’s farrier came out and found an abscess. I’ve been soaking it this week, and my farrier comes tomorrow, so fingers crossed we can put a shoe back on because I’m home for two weekends in a row, and it’s time to get him off property! He’s also bored and ready to get back to work so I’ve been trying to mess with him in one way or anther every night. We’ve groomed, hand grazed he’s helped me set up jumps in the ring!

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Tiny jumps! GRC Photo.

As far as travel, I’ve since been to the Carolina International and The Fork since my last update. Carolina is always lovely, and the weather was perfect. I got some great photos too, but I was really envious of those who got to ride the training course. The Carolina Horse Park is one of my favorite venues, and I really want to go back and compete.

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The Fork derby field.

The Fork was held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, and it was my first time there. Let’s just say it was definitely better than driving to podunk Norwood, N.C.!

I’m not sure I totally agree with the main venue’s courses. Many of the lower level jumps were set in the arenas and in a derby field, although I found myself thinking it would be the perfect place for Oh So because you can guarantee the footing will be good! But it just didn’t feel like eventing to me.

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Carolina International.

The brand new three-star course was pretty cool though. It was open and gallopy and the footing felt like carpet. They’ve barely scratched the surface of what the World Equestrian Games’ course will be, and it was exciting to be there to watch it christened. I loved my photos too!

Now I’ve got a couple of weeks until the big one…Rolex!

Here’s a few photos I took of the boys with my nice camera recently. Oh So’s in his ugly phase right now, but once his summer coat comes in, he’ll look great!