Tuesday, April 18, 2017

(Nice) Stuff to Hold the Stuff

I love bags.  Purses, luggage, beautiful tech covers.  Anything really.

A bag for everything and everything in a bag I say. 

But, much like actually blow-drying my hair (a thing that didn't happen today), or putting on a sharp outfit (also a thing that didn't happen).... There is a transformative power when I am carrying a nice bag.

And I don't mean that in the "this-is-a-$40k-birkin-what-up" way.  I mean that I feel very adult and organized when my purse is nice, my luggage is classy or I if have my favorite reusable grocery bags with me (thanks Silver Oak winery!). 

Similar to the hair/outfit condition - even though I appreciate them, I don't always have nice bags. 

Specifically, for the last three years I have been carrying my hunt coats around in the tack-store-provided garment bag.   At best, it is designed to hold one hunt coat decently while you walk out of the store.  Instead I have asked it to carry 3 coats, at least 2 shirts and a whole mess of gloves, hats and hairnets up and down the West Coast.

To its credit, the free coat bag has handled this task better than expected.  In fact, it's done a pretty excellent job.  In addition to being over stuffed, the poor thing has been shoved in my trunk and shipped 1200 miles, strewn in the back of my car for weeks on end, used as an umbrella while sprinting to the barn, wiped off wet bleachers and other non-traditional tasks.

But last summer I noticed that the weird plastic/fabric was finally starting to disintegrate and that my days of making the most of the free-coat-bag were numbered.

So I started the casual hunt for a nice garment bag for use at the shows.  And since I like to match, first stop was Noble Outfitters' Signature line.

Last year at some point I got myself the Noble Outfitters Signature boot bag.
I swear I wrote about it, but I cannot for the life of me find a review anywhere so I'm going to assume it is on the rather long list of things I forgot to blog about.

I LOVE it.. 

And after a full season of dragging it around, I love it even more.   It is attractive and thoughtful in its construction - both key considerations when I am making a horse/show related purchase.

First off, the bag is crazy tall, so my mutant Konigs fit nicely.  The boots themselves are separated by a nice padded divider and the foot portion of the bag is roomy enough that boots easily slide in and out without wrestling and shoving.

The liner easily wipes clean (when muddy boots have been shoved in) and there is enough extra space that I can keep a rag or two tucked in the main bag as well.  My polishing kit fits in the side pocket and I adore the leather trim (and nameplate they provide).

At $109 it is not the cheapest boot bag on the market (by a long shot), and while I think the initial purchase was potentially wine induced, now that it's stood up well to a year of abuse, I can justify the steep price.

So naturally, when the freebie-coat-bag started to lose it, I turned to Noble Outfitters again for the coordinating hanging option.  At $149, it was a bit tougher for me to justify the upgrade, (since the first bag was, well... free).  But at some point during the Black Friday or Cyber something madness, I stumbled across it for under $100 and bit the bullet.
Having been used to a glorified drycleaner bag for so long, the new Signature bag feels a bit huge and bulky.  It easily holds all of my things (and backups for my backups), and frankly has enough space for me to pack ALL my clothes for a show in it.  The one thing I'm not sure of yet is that the zipper only extends part way down the bag, which makes it slightly more awkward to get hanging items in and out, but does keep all the random crap in the bottom from spilling all over the tack room....

I think it is a near certainty that I will have lots of random crap in the bottom - this is probably a net win.

There is about 18" of bag beyond the bottom of my hunt coats... could be good for a shadbelly?? or just lots of crap...

The Signature bag is more akin to traditional luggage than it is to just a "cover."  While this is good for storage quantity and durability, it does add weight.  The bag has it's own hanging hook, and organizes the shirts/coats inside, rather than having your own hangers poke out the top for hanging. 

pictured: actual garment bag hook thing

This definitely helps keeps items on their hangars, and is beneficial if the bag is going to be thrown around in your car or trunk, but not necessary if you just need to keep the dust off.  It's also handy if you don't travel with a larger barn that sets up a clothing rack as the bag's hook easily latches onto a stall, trailer door or pretty much anything in sight.

I finally got around to getting the included plates engraved, so now they really feel fancy.

(fluff monkey obviously attached at all times)

Long story short, the Signature bags are gorgeous - and to get back to my original point, I feel downright classy and organized with both of them slung over my shoulder.

Most importantly though - it leaves both hands free for a large coffee and a tall toddler. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Slow Start: Diagnosis

Well, we have a diagnosis. 

And (more importantly) we have good news.

I call this series: in search of hidden treats

Turns out, the nagging slight lameness we had been noticing was a slightly pissed off lateral collateral ligament in the coffin joint. 

Sneaky little suckers are often hard to pinpoint and require an MRI to confirm.  (which we did, without anesthesia, go team).

The MRI shows that there is a mild strain (moderate focal tissue disruption), but that it's already healing.  The big lovely swingy trot that we noticed after some time off from the holidays is the result of that healing, and now that we know for sure what's going on - we can be more mindful of how to move forward without risking a re-injury. 

As of last week, Winds feels fab, and his slight inconsistencies from left rein to right rein no longer block out in the foot.  So we are (reasonably) confident that the collateral  is no longer causing pain, and that the inflammation has all but gone away.

The bummer is that while I was initially aiming for a season opener up at Thunderbird next week, we are on an (even) slower plan to hold off on jumping for a while longer and continue to just increase the workload on the flat in two week increments.  At this point I'm probably pushing back our first show to the end of June, assuming we don't hit any speed bumps between now and then.

Winds feels awesome, and I know that this easy spring has been good for his body. With a confirmed diagnosis I am even more convinced that we did the right thing, and I can't wait to see how this horse jumps and moves when he's feeling his best. 

In the meantime, it's all that boring, but oh so useful flatwork while we continue to build up strength!

Anyone have experience with Collateral strains?

I like our current plan of action, and am grateful that even with his crazy hard season last year, all we have is a slight strain (no tears, no holes, no scary anything) - so the prognosis is about a good as it can possibly be... but any magic tricks or special considerations are always welcome!

And lest you think I'm not getting enough saddle time, there are a few irons in the fire that hopefully I'll get to talk about sooner rather than later!

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