Thursday, March 31, 2016

Blenheim Spring Classic II - Day One

Windsor's first day of showing (in the States) was a great one (for him) and a long one (for me).

I was up at the crack of dawn for an early flight down to California.  It was the time of day where I'm only up if I'm a) still dancing or b) doing something for a horse.  :)

The flight was quick, and although the rental car process was not - I still made it to the show in time for his classes.

horrified I forgot to bring treats
Having never shown here - I'm a big fan of the grounds.  Grass everywhere (read: no dust) and the footing is lovely.  Most of the grass we show on at home is pretty gosh darn hard, and so far I'd have to say the footing here is really well maintained here...  The grounds also seem rather spectator friendly with ample shade and seating and places to enjoy the show.  Bonus points for a big Dressage show going on as well so I'm sneaking in some time to watch the super fancy ponies do their super fancy things. 

The report from earlier in the week was that he had schooled wonderfully, but since the show rings are on grass - there was no opportunity to take him for a spin in them and see how he felt about grass (or caulks, etc..).

Because of that, we opted to drop him into the 3' so that we didn't feel badly about adding a second division for extra experience.  That meant that N would take him in a (giant) Low 3' division, and the 3' Pre Greens.

This was (for sure) a good call.  He was calm, and confident in the ring, but still a bit.... jumpery to the fences themselves.. 

He was definitely a bit confused about the job description and what all was going on in the giant grass field - so much so that he didn't even see the first fence, and ended up with a stop before he even got started... (Monkey-covering-its-face-emoji). 

But after that bobble, he got to work and he started to figure things out a bit.  He slowed himself on takeoff, relaxed in the huge turns, and started to enjoy the show.

He was able to do all four rounds nearly back to back, and really looked like a total pro at the back gate and on the grounds.  Nothing phased him.  Not the kids running around, not the flags flapping in the wind, not the water pouring off the tent roof, not the garbage trucks, or wild horses, or anything.

His brain is sound - he just needs some time on the job.

(iPhone video still)
If you follow us on insta (@cfantonelli) I'm doing a better job of frequent updates... but I will try to blog often enough that I don't forget the (fun) details.

I managed two iPhone videos on the first day- his second round in the Lows, and his first Pre-Green round.

The Low Class:

His Pre-Green:

The Low division had almost 80 horses in each round, and even though they split it into two sections, we missed the ribbons (though clearly the round with a stop was a throw away..).  However, He managed a 3rd and an 8th in a pretty lovely Pre-Green Division of 14. 

I was (OBVIOUSLY) thrilled to have some satin to commemorate his first foray into Hunter Land and promptly took all the pictures and hung them proudly on the tack room wall.

We ended the day with smiles all around, excitement about what's to come and a slight sunburn on my forehead because I am not an adult and cannot keep my face covered...

He's a KEEPER!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

T-minus NOW

Oops, it's showtime!

I've been beyond negligent in reporting on show prep.  But mostly it's looked something like this:

Good ride, good ride, good ride, GREAT RIDE!
(new saddle)
Good ride, horrid ride, good ride, SHOW!

The best at tiny jumps
Winds is officially in California and has schooled twice.  My reports are that he has been "perfect" and is jumping "great", only landing on a cross lead a couple of times.  (yay!).

Almost all of the show is on grass, which is pretty for pictures and feels tres fancy - but all the schooling is on sand and the show rings are closed for any prep work. 

From a competitive standpoint - I like it. I hate that Hunters get to school all-the-things before showing, but now that I'm staring at a new horse who's never seen a real Hunter Fence before - I'm wishing for the luxury of not only schooling the ring, but the jumps, an everything in-between.

So we still haven't ridden on grass, but in an attempt to increase experience without jumping the pants off of him, we dropped him down to 3' so he can do both an Open division and the Pre-Greens.

That way he gets a few extra rounds in before I take the reins on Friday and we have to deal with my own panic attacks and not just worry about the horse.

I am officially sunshine bound tomorrow morning at like 4am.  I land at 8:30 (in theory) and Windsy's classes start at 9:15.  hopefully I can get my bag, grab a rental car and get to the rings before I miss his rounds.

That's the plan anyway.

Oh, and we had super fun bloggy time with SprinklerBandit last week which was the last "good ride" in the show prep sequence.  We had breakfast sandwiches and barn time and most importantly - taco time all of which is fun and lovely, and means I actually got some new videos and pictures.

I'll let her do the real posting on that, since, well - she's really good at it and actually edits things, but I've stolen a few photos for the sake of not making your eyes bleed with a boring post.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Training & Timing - when to make a change

For about a month (maybe a bit longer?) we've had Windsor working in a German Martingale that has been set to the loosest ring.

The original reasoning was that while he is *very* light in the bridle, he went from soft soft soft to grabbing the bit and having zero mouth in about .2 seconds. 

This was especially true in the lines - where we also weren't exactly eating up the ground (recall in Germany he was almost always on an add stride.. and they were baffled when we said that wouldn't fly in the US..)

Anyway, in an attempt to get him a bit softer, have some communication we fiddled around.

More bit just backed him off and made him super empty in the bridle - so that wasn't a great solution... but the German Martingale (not sure why I keep capitalizing that) had just enough added leverage to get some softness when we wanted it, but then be mostly neutral  when we didn't.

Anyway, so all the while, progress has been made both on getting up the lines, and holding leads, which was great.  One consistent point that we weren't really making progress on was getting Winds to really reach for the bridle.  There is also something weird about how he carries himself, so that when you are on him you think "wow gosh, he's so open and stretched through his topline! this is great"

But from the ground he's still at, or just behind the vertical.  I have literally never ridden a horse where the perceived carriage, and what you feel in your hand is so different from the ground. 

it's sneaky.
heart melt.

So last week, I had been thinking that perhaps the "weight" of the martingale was enough that Winds didn't really want to reach forward, so we took it off. 

And, whaddya know.  He happily stretched his frame a bit more, poked his nose to (or just in front of) the vertical and raised his whole balance a smidge. 

Over fences it was a different horse.

(he was also a bit... excited for the fences that day, but still... different horse)

We didn't drill him much, but every.single.fence. was good.  And he held every lead. And never landed cross once.

So. the German Martingale had gone from being a useful tool - to being inhibitive.

Which sparked a philosophical discussion in the barn as to how you identify that change as soon as possible. 

Obviously it was never my intent to keep him in the GM forever, but when do you assume the gimmick, (or whatever) has done it's job and is no longer needed?

On a horse like Windsor (who wasn't in need of brakes, or any restriction from a safety standpoint) perhaps we could have taken it off once a week.  But we didn't.  mostly because it didn't feel like it was restricting progress..

But it was.

Or rather - it was restricting information.  Because what a few rides without the martingale told us was that Winds was (much) happier and (much) more comfortable when he could pick his own balance and poke his nose a tad. 

When he was being bridled more, he wasn't able to adjust properly and was popping off leads and whatever else...

Vet thought that was a good indication that something was up in his neck (facepalm) so Friday we took a looksee and, sure enough - found some arthritis in a couple spots - most notably C3/4.

After the ensuing rage blackout of "WTF we x-rayed that and it was clean sweet jesus does it ever end" (answer: no. no it doesn't).

I came around to (finally) understanding that the x-rays don't really show any degeneration on the transverse process, so we had to ultrasound (ugh) in order to see the inflammation that indicates it.


Anyway, so buddy boy got another couple injections (on the left side only) - and the more I thought about it, discomfort in his neck makes a lot of sense.

It explains his stiff direction

It explains why he wants to grab the bit and stiffen his neck in the lines

It explains why his RH is a bit tricky to gather up

It explains the rough landings/lead popping


So, from that perspective I guess I'm grateful that we had something straight forward to address that (hopefully) will benefit all of the things we have been chipping away at. 

I should have also taken a picture when he was under sedation because when he is totally relaxed his neck is SCREWED UP.  the muscling is so uneven from left to right it's absurd I couldn't see it before (or while I'm riding and staring at his little neck..). 

But - again, super consistent with the info from the gal who does bodywork said.  tightness indicating discomfort on his left side... tight nuchal ligament, tight pecs and left shoulder...

So I'm left with the residual guilt for a) schooling the tar out of him on some of these things (in which he just smiles and says "ok mom.  I'll try harder") that he really couldn't do anything about.

And also the residual guilt for not pulling the martingale sooner and starting this process more swiftly.

So.  I'll pose the question again - how stagnant is your setup? When's the last time you changed bits/boots/saddles/anything.  Is there anything in your regular tack you assume you still need but might not?

I'll hack him lightly tomorrow to see where we are, then I'm out of town and Trainer takes over for the week, but hopefully I'll squeak in a ride or two next week before he ships to Cali that weekend!

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Goodbye (or times when I am incapable of using my camera)

The Big Mare has moved on to a new home. 

To be honest, it all happened a little faster than I was ready for, but I know (or the rational part of my brain knows) that it is an ideal situation and it's for the best. 

First off, I'd like to thank (does this sound like an acceptance speech? I guess it does..) everyone who reached out to me or commented or mentioned Prair to someone or just gave me some general tid-bits about what the hell to do with a horse you want to keep safe forever, but is also a little too young to be put out to the not-so-proverbial pasture.

Honestly, it was really encouraging that I ended up with a few different offers - all of which I think would have ended up being great homes.  I don't know about you guys, but I regularly waffle between feeling like my horses are rockstars and if I blipped off the face of the earth tomorrow they'd be able to find wonderful homes - and the slightly more cynical concern that only idiots buy horses and no one in their right mind would ever willingly want one. 

(I think it's possible that both statements are actually true, but that's a separate discussion...)

Anyway, I had reached out to an old friend from Pony Club days.  We were actually pretty close when we were kids, but I hadn't been in touch beyond a few "likes" and comments on random Facebook posts for nearly 20 years.. so to say it had been a while is an understatement.

Life has been good to her and she's a successful pro (in Dressage Land) with a gorgeous family farm and a small breeding operation.  I figured she probably knew more about what I thought I was trying to do with Prairie than I did - so I asked if she had any suggestions on marketing a Broodmare, or who I should talk to. 

Her response was basically "Me, talk to me. I want her."

Then a few minutes later "I should probably ask my husband first..."

Then a few minutes later "We want her, when can we come see her."

In theory that's a pretty great string of messages to get. 

I sent her pictures, and videos, bad videos of me riding, better videos of pros riding, conformation shots from when she was out of shape, in shape, basically everything I had. 

And when, (two days later) it was time for them to come see the mare live and in person, she asked if it was ok to just bring the trailer with them since it was kind of a long drive.

And that's when it hit me that I was probably going to have to say goodbye to Prair before I really finished processing my choice about finding her a new home.

All went well, Prair was nervous as all get out (though I think that's because she was outside of her stall), and when she was a little reluctant to load, I just gave her some cookies and pets and told her it was ok, and she stepped right in like the lady she (usually) is. 

A worried, but well behaved eyeball..
I had an unreasonable amount of guilt about the fact that I wasn't there to help unload her and settle her in. 

I know that Prairie doesn't care. 

I know that she's in incredible hands. 

But part of me feels like my stewardship requires me to show her that nothing is scary and there are treats and pats and lots of good things waiting for her.

Instead, I went home, cried a little and ate some of my feelings (Vanilla Oreo Thins, ya'll.  Buy some.  Buy more than one package. Trust me). 

I got an immediate report that she unloaded quietly and settled in like a champ.  I even got reports over the next few days from my barn-mates (since some of us amateurs regularly get "assigned" equitation lunge-line lessons over at my friend's place).  They confirmed that Prair was being treated like a queen and loved on and adored. 

That quieted my mind a bit, but also made me a bit jealous. 

Like she's my horse, other people shouldn't be doting on her... that's my job. 

(It sort of felt like when you break up with someone and then you hear they are dating again right away? *I* did the breaking up, so in theory I'm fine, but somehow I'm still jilted by their ability to move on... wth is that about..)

Ugh, brains and emotions and horses... the worst combo ever....

Anyway, being an emotional mess, I forgot to take some of my equipment out of their trailer, so I had an excuse to go visit this past weekend and see for myself how everything was working out. 

Armed with her papers and passport in hand I pulled into a beautiful farm with a big, stone barn, flanked by lovely rolling pastures being enjoyed by horses in the early spring sun. 

Prair had been brought in so I could see her, she was standing (not totally) patiently in the cross ties all groomed up and waiting for treats... or work... or something.

I got a small nicked, which warmed my heart and we proceeded to chat about getting her bred, and did I sign over all the papers and what have you. 

Prair looked happy.  Her feet had already been trimmed and looked great - she was all shined up (even with her furry winter coat) and her eye looked soft and content with the new routine.
My favorite Beak.  (don't worry, chain NOT attached to cross ties...)
Being a total moron, I forgot (again) to grab my shit out of their trailer, so I guess I'll be back for another visit this week....

I feel like that stage 2 clinger who constantly "forgets" her watch, or scarf, or whatever at a Beau's house so she always has a reason to come back around... I swear to god I'm not doing it on purpose, but my subconscious might be hard at work.

Prair's life will be one of a happy Broody. They have their own stallion (who is lovely) and will likely the the daddy of a majority of her babies.  This year though, it'll be someone else, someone with a bit more name recognition - so that hopefully Baby can cover Prair's costs for a bit (and then some).

Every day I'm feeling a bit better about it - so I know that it was a good choice, and that she will get excellent care, and the fact that she'll be 10 miles down the road from our current barn means maybe I can stalk her (a little bit) especially once there are some babies on the ground......

So that's where we are.  I officially am back down to one horse (I deserve a medal I think), and Prair is in good, familiar hands. 

I just wish I was capable of actually taking the time to document days like these.  But somehow I never end up with good pictures on the days I say goodbye to my lovely beasts. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Windsor Wednesday (belated)

I've been making a habit of watching Windsor get worked by my trainer on Wednesdays, and it's been really helpful - not only to see him go, but also to hear her narrate her ride. 

This week wasn't a huge school by any means, but it was still a good one.  I know last week I was saying that our #1 goal is getting him to land and move up.  That is still a good goal, and important, but we are noticing that there are two considerations with that -

1) the harder you ride him the more he braces and almost backs off... which is... not helpful

2) The harder you ride, the more likely he is to swap off his lead.

For a while we thought this swapping was mostly a preference to be on his right lead.  But some thinking has shown that he basically just wants to be on the counter lead, in between lines regardless of direction.  (so, going left he swaps right, going right he swaps, or lands, left). 

I sorta prefer that since it suggests is more of a balance issue than a lameness or weakness... but it's still a bit confusing.

It's possible that there wasn't much attention paid to his leads (or balance) in his previous job so he's just invented his own way of going that's easiest for him.  Those might be somewhat difficult habits to break.. but we are working on it. 

I'm tempted to try setting some lines across the diagonal and see if he's as likely to swap without the "support" of the walls to guide his leads... we'll see.

Anyway, here's your Windsor spam.  Quick clips of trot and canter- then work over fences.  I tried to include the swapping clips for future evidence :)

Oh yeah, and we added some flowers to a fence thinking he'd wig out. 

Did. Not. Notice.  (good boy).

It's nice to be able to take my observations from watching and apply them to my own lessons.  Makes everything just a *touch* more tangible.

Yesterday's ride was lovely - I worked on doing less and just "supporting" more, which was a good mindset for me to be in, and we reaped the rewards in terms of only having one horrendous jump, instead of like.... six. ;)

Happy Weekends!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Splurging (aka Show Season Prep)

It might have something to do with the fact that by the time Windsor and I set foot in a show ring it will have been a full year since prair and I last showed...  Or maybe it's just that the (not so long) gray days tend to encourage evenings of wine and perusing tack websites... but as I started thinking about packing for California, I realized that our show ring set up has a lot of changes (and additions) for 2016.

And that, my dears - warrants a post.

If you'll recall, when we first went to Thermal in 2014, I factored in a fair amount of $$$ for splurging on tack updates and things like coats and breeches to fit an expanding preggo belly... So the fact that I'm feeling the itch to update some equipment before we show is a tad predictable.

As I started the list of what's been recently updated (aside from the horse), and what's still on my dream-list - I stumbled back across this post where I discussed my wish list of gear for Prair... which upon review - was a pretty solid list.

So here's a rundown on what Windsor and I will be rocking this season.  Some of these items were bought last year with the intent of using on Prair (tear)...  some of them were Christmas gifts... annnnd some are more recent purchases with day dreams of sunny California dancing in my head.

I'll start with the Blog Post from June 2014... since, well...  established lists are a good place to start.

1) New, extra-Huntery Helmet


Initially I was eyeballing the Charles Owen Hampton which I think of as the go-to traditional helmet choice.  But what I ended up with was the Charles Owen Wellington Classic, which is similar but subtly different.

It's velvety and it has a BOW, which are both things I spent years of my youth hating, but somehow I find extremely charming now. 

I'm not 100% certain that CO's are the most flattering style for my face (they always seem to sit really high?) but whatevs. 

Even better? It was an x-mas gift. 

(I have learned over the years that my parents will always buy a new helmet for me if I ask... always.)   So that's super neat.

I like the "closed nape" at the back of the helmet.  Helps my hair stay put

2). New Boots

Check Check!!
Sexy New Boot on Right
I adore my new boots.  (are they still "new" at this point?)

I ordered the Konigs in late 2014, and I have not one negative thing to say about them.  Love love. 

I know that Kongis aren't a hugely popular brand on "the circuit," but I think they are a great value (in the custom world) and I really like the styling.  I have never liked the sock-like appearance of Parlantis... so from both a style and cost perspective, these were a great buy for me.

If the Tack-Ho voices are strong I secretly dream about ordering a second pair to keep pristine for shows.... but that's something that is likely to stay on the wish list for a while.

3) New Coat


I actually ordered a new show coat during the last show in April 2015.  I thought I'd be rocking it all summer.... but well.... it's still in the closet with its (god damn) tags on.  Best laid plans and all... (more tears). 

It is a Grand Prix Tech Lite in their hunter green color, with some tone-one-tone satin piping.  Nothing crazy on the collar, no bedazzling, but a reply pretty deep emerald color.  I haven't shown in it yet - so I can't give a full review, but for all of the times I've randomly put it on in my closet - it's awesome.
It's not quite this bright - and I have a 4 button style
My only (slight) regret is that I've lost some weight from when I had it made, so it doesn't have the super sharp custom look that I wish it did.. but maybe I'll invest in some tailoring at some point.

4) New Show Pad

This I have not pulled the trigger on.  For one thing - Windsor doesn't have any crazy padding needs or a weird back, so it's way less critical of an item than it was for Prair. 

But if I'm being honest with myself it's because Ogilvy has taken forrrrreeeeeevvvver to revamp their Hunter Pad line, and now that it's out, the only way to order is to email them or call, and since I always (always) email instead of calling I am at the mercy of whatever poor intern has to email all us crazies back.  And since I haven't heard from them, I haven't pulled the trigger.

I emailed you!!! (jerks)
I think SmartPak might actually be carrying these now, but I'm trying to not to look too hard.. since... y'know... $$$.

So that wraps up the old wish list... and three out of four ain't that bad.... but it's not the end of the list of what's new for 2016...

The biggest addition (aside from Windsor) is obviously the new saddle on order - which is still..... coming.  In theory it should arrive the week before the horses ship to CA, so my fingers are crossed.  If it doesn't make it, or it isn't perfect I'll be ok since I have access to my Trainer's saddles and that's what we've been practicing in. 

Windsor also got an Antares Martingale (for Xmas) which I need to dye a tad darker.  I'm waiting on my deglazer before I attempt that particular little project, but fingers crossed it goes better than pretty much any other artistic painting/dying endeavor I've ever pursued. 

And now we are up to the point of the post where we catch up to our most recent purchases...

1) (because I'm starting the numbers over again for 2016 purchases) Show Shirts!

My obsession with Callidae continues.  The love it real and the products are incredible. 

I went and got myself a new, crisp, white show shirt.  Again, since they lack any retail outlets nearby, they were incredible and happily shipped me multiple sizes so I could see what I wanted for myself. 

The seaming is unique, the fabric is lovely, and the details are stunning.

Perhaps my favorite feature is their response to a traditional collar - the ribbons. 

A series of interchangeable, lovely grosgrain ribbons that button over the collar for a subtle (or not so stubble, depending on your choice) stripe of distinction and closure.  It's hard to pick which accents are best, and I ended up with a veritable collection so I can finish my show ring look depending on what coat I'm wearing and how sassy I'm feeling at that moment. 

As much as I hated keeping track of old, button-on chockers - I am willing to return to the struggle for something that looks this chic. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the convenience of wrap collars and magnetic closures... but there's something about the Callidae shirt that just oozes tradition with style.  Love it.

If this thing wears well in CA I will be putting a second shirt on my updated wish list STAT. 

2) Tack Trunk

It feels a bit like I'm sneaking out past curfew (in that Dad would be so disappointed), but I caved and purchased a Trunk that matches the barn.  I (tactfully) inquired as to whether or not any of the graduated juniors wanted to sell their trunks and ended up being steered toward an available trunk from a previous client who showed with it exactly twice.  Twice!

I snagged it for about 50% retail and even convinced The Boy into making it an anniversary present (the traditional gift for 4 years is obviously the gift of organization)... so one new brass name plate later and VOILA.  Fancy.

I felt like a nerd snapping a pic, so I got a bad one on the sly..

3) Totally Unnecessary Boot Bag

As much as I love matching the Team Colors with a new trunk, I am somewhat horrified at how much smaller (normal) trunks are than my custom Dad-Built job.  I LOVE that the lid of my special trunk holds my boots, my helmet, Windsor's boots and my bridle.  All that shit gets packed and the bottom is still EMPTY. 

Anyway, the beautiful, but puny lid will not hold my boots... or my helmet.. or anything, so I started browsing for boot bags because I will likely be hauling those to/from shows every day now. (first world problem... I know).

My beautiful boot bag from Oughton Limited (a gift from M2), is too short for the new boots, which makes me sad (they still fit my old ones thank god).  So I had to hunt for absurdly tall boot bags to fit my rather tall boots. 

What I found is that there are a ton of functional bags out there, but most of them are hideously ugly. 

I stumbled upon the Noble Outfitters Signature Bag after two glasses of wine and when I saw the engraveable name plate (ENGRAVE ALL THE THINGS), it sealed the deal.
Of course the next day (confronted by my shipping confirmation from SmartPak..), I was wondering if it's oversized, over structured design would be helpful, or cumbersome, but now that I've seen it in person, there's no way I'm sending it back. 

The color is a tad richer in real life (and less... Carhartt-y), and the finishes look well-done, not artificial at all. 

As for utility, I find it exceptionally easy to take the boots in/out which is not always the case with boot bags.  It's structured enough that it doesn't flop over when you pushing a boot in, but not so stiff that it won't squish nicely into a trunk (or, overhead bin, or whatever).  The divider between boots is padded, so it also stands on its own, and doesn't get caught on boots as they go in (something I've had happen when the divider is only a piece of nylon...)

In terms of extra pockets, there is a zip pocket on the outside (currently holding the brass name plate waiting to be engraved) and two interior pockets that are really deep, but seem pretty functional for socks/polishing stuff, clean rags, etc).  I'll reserve total judgement until it gets thrown in the trenches for a while, but my first impression is a great one. 

Also nice? on the item tag was an offer for free matching "travel bags" (I think they are basically cosmetic bags..) if you fill out customer info and send it in with your receipt.  I just dropped mine in the mail today and will look forward to more matching whenever those arrive.  But it was nice unexpected perk after investing in such an unecessasry bag...

4) Signature Spurs Crop

The last item on the list (of recent purchases) is a custom crop from Signature Spurs.  If you're wondering if this purchase happened at the same time I was wooed by a name plate on a boot bag - you would be correct. 

I typically school Windsor with a crop over fences.  Not because he's offered to stop, but because a nice little tap-tap on  the shoulder is sometimes the nudge I need for him to move up, push off evenly, or wake up. 

To be candid, I haven't shown with a crop (at all) since the days when I would stash one in my boot on XC with Star the Wonder Pony.  She was whip-shy something FIERCE, and always way over pace on XC in general, so carrying one like a normal person was out of the question. 

But a crop was necessary to get her in the water... so in the boot it went.

Since that particular tactic dates back to the early 90's- my collection of jump bats is.... non existent.  I like the idea of having a nice, clean bat that I use at shows, but I also know that crops are the #1 thing that get lost/stolen/misplaced in the barn, so I started googling custom whip options. 

I remembered that Personally Preppy had options for both endcap monograms as well as stamping the popper, but I am the only person on the world who consistently has a subpar customer service experience with them, so I really wanted to look elsewhere.

I finally stumbled onto Signature Spurs, who let's you pick the color, length, and grip of your crop as well as throwing a classy chrome monogram on the end cap. (they also have other crazier options for eventing/dressage/racing whips, but Hunter = boring..).  I went for black, 17" and leather.  It's more than I've ever spent on a crop so I seriously hope I don't lose it mid-anxiety attack on course...

The crop arrived in a lovely little velvet bag, that isn't totally necessary, but does up the "nice" factor if you were to give one of these as a gift for the horse girl who has (almost) everything.

pretty little storage bag
Dover also offers the Signature Spur custom crop, but they list 6-8 weeks to delivery, whereas direct from SS was a 3 day turnaround to shipping.. I think I had the thing in hand within a week of ordering.

Pretty impressive for a made to measure item (even if I did order the most boring version possible..)

And that, dear readers, brings us to the end of the splurge update.  75% acquisition rate on the wish list from 2 years ago, plus four new fun items in anticipation of a new horse and a new show season. 

Lots of fun things, but as the last six years have shown me - as fun as it is, the outfits and tack don't do much good if you don't have the right (and sound) horse with you in the ring.

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