May 12, 2017

Easyboot Minis: The Cutest Boots Around

As most of you know, Jethro is in-training to become a therapeutic donkey. Therapy equines are required to wear hoof coverings at all times during visits, and it can be difficult finding hoof boots in small sizes. Luckily, EasyCare came up with a solution that they kindly sent me a few months ago: Easyboot Minis

And let me tell you: they are absolutely adorable!

The Easyboot Minis come in four sizes originally intended for horses, but, according to the EasyCare FAQ, they can be worn by your typical miniature donkeys and mules. True to their amazing customer service, EasyCare actually sent Jethro sets in two different sizes in case one size did not work for his donkey hooves. 

Unfortunately, neither pair fit Jethro. Donkeys in general have hooves that are more upright than horses, and Jethro's are quite upright even for a donkey. The shape of the boot's sole is fine, but the front of the boot is too angled for his upright hooves. Obviously, these would be excellent for a miniature horse, and I could see them working out great for mules as well. Whether or not they work for donkeys seems to depend on hoof angle. 

The quality of these boots is excellent. The sole is thick and sturdy, though also flexible enough for comfort. They are almost like a hiking boot — the sole is grippy and appears to offer good traction. Due to the plentiful amount of squishy padding, I do not see chaffing being an issue with these boots.

The stitching is even and strong, the velcro is not flimsy, and the materials feel high quality and durable. The design is sleek and lightweight — they are not blocky or heavy. 

I am super disappointed that they do not fit Jethro. If it weren't for the angled front, they would be perfect for him. The materials are high quality, the sole is sturdy, the appearance is very clean, and they seem comfortable due to their flexibility and padding. Quality-wise, I do not have a single complaint. I am going to see if I can make some alterations to make them work for him — they are adorable and great quality, so I definitely want them to work out. 

January 24, 2017

Joanne the Saddle Scammer

In 2013, I discovered the world of tack selling and trading groups on Facebook. If you are not familiar with these groups, here's the rundown: tens of thousands of horse people post their used tack and apparel for sale. It is a great way to find amazing deals on gently used items.

But anyways...
I was using these groups non-stop without issues for several months. But all good things must come to an end.

When I first purchased Ypke, I also purchased a brand new Wintec. It was a trusty saddle that I rode in a handful of times, but I ultimately decided I preferred non-synthetic leather tack. Since it was in mint condition and collecting dust in the tack room, I decided to post it on a particularly well known tack selling group a couple years ago. 

Thus, I wrote up a detailed ad — seat size, gullet width, serial number, etc. — with pictures of the saddle from various angles.

Enter someone who we will call Joanne.

Joanne when she saw the Wintec.

Joanne inquired about the saddle, and we negotiated the price. It was ultimately decided that she would pay for shipping, and I sent her an estimate. She was immediately miffed (red flag #1?) at my $40 estimate, claiming it should cost $20 max. Joanne had to verify the cost, and soon found that $35 was the cheapest rate she could find.

After some slightly passive aggressive messages from her, she confirmed she would indeed pay shipping. Joanne then told me that she could not purchase the saddle until a different seller gave her a refund for a previous saddle she had purchased (red flag #2?).

She asked me a couple of questions about the gullet of the saddle and proceeded to gush about how she had been *dying* to ride in a Wintec and was jealous of her friend who owned a Wintec. After she had already paid the invoice, she asked if it came with another item (red flag #3?) and inquired about the other Wintecs I had for sale (I didn't have any). I shipped the saddle, nearly 20 days passed, and I forgot about it.

But wait...

Joanne was not finished with me. I woke up to a nasty email about how I had lied about the color of the saddle. She sent multiple paragraphs, here is an excerpt:
"I am sorry but maybe you are confused the saddle you posted is brown and i specially assured you to confirm that it was brown and you did. There is no way in hell i am stupid enough till buy a black saddle when i specially starred i want a brown one."
Joanne kept telling me that if I read through our messages I would see that she was correct. However, she neglected four key parts: 1.) She never told me she wanted a brown saddle 2.) She never asked me if the saddle was brown 3.) I never told her the saddle was brown. 4.) The pictures and serial number clearly show a black saddle (unless her monitor was super, super bad).

Long story short: She filed a PayPal claim against me, and I won. Joanne then proceeded to bash me on the tack selling group and threatened to sign my home address up to receive spam magazine subscriptions. Luckily, those were empty threats as I have yet to receive any spam, and she deleted everything off her Facebook profile shortly thereafter.

She disappeared.

 And that was my run-in with Joanne the Saddle Scammer. It confuses me to this day. Did she genuinely believe I told her the saddle was brown? Was she talking to someone with a brown saddle for sale, but somehow got us confused and purchased mine instead? Did her horse damage it, so she was hoping to return it? A case of buyers remorse? Was she just a scammer? The world may never know.
Ever since then I have been quite wary of using the Facebook groups to sell tack and apparel. I've heard of other people having similar strange experiences, so I try to avoid selling on there (so... if you are not like Joanne the Saddle Scammer, please buy all of my 28L breeches that way I don't have to post them on FB!).

Do you use Facebook groups to buy and sell tack? Any strange experiences?

December 22, 2016

Christmas is Coming

Winter has arrived!
Fjord horse in snow

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and Ypke loves it.

Fjord horse in snow

The only thing she doesn't like? It prevents her from grazing.

Fjord horse in snow

Jethro, on the other hand, hates this weather.

Donkey in the snow

He stays in the Donkey Dorm in an effort to prevent his whiskers from freezing.

Donkey in snow

And me? I'm with Jethro. I'll give Ypke the month off and sit by the fireplace with Henry.

Thanks to Spotted Gecko Designs, Ypke can come inside the house with me too! Well... sort of...

Spotted Gecko Designs

While in Kentucky, I came across Spotted Gecko Designs' booth. Olivia, the owner, was kind enough to send me this thoughtful gift for Christmas. It is difficult to find Fjord merchandise, and I have yet to see the name "Ypke" on any product, so it was a neat gift to receive! Check out Olivia's website to see all of the lovely products — from browbands to houseware — she offers.

Happy holidays, everyone!

November 25, 2016

November's 10 Questions

Thank you for the blogging content, Viva Carlos!

How old is the youngest/greenest horse you’ve ridden? I actually haven't ridden any really young or green horses. The youngest horse I have ridden was 5, but he was well trained and as close to bombproof as you can get.

How old is the oldest horse you’ve ridden? 28!

Were you scared of horses when you first started riding? When I first started riding I was fearless. After riding for about a year I took a bad fall and my confidence went from 100 to 0 real quick.

Fjord horse mane

Would you say you’re a more nervous rider or a confident rider? I have built up my confidence a lot these past few years, though I would say I am still more nervous than confident.

Biggest pet peeve about non-horse people around horses? I'm not too bothered by non-horse people. I think it is great when they take an interest in horses!
That being said, I do not like it when horseless people who you barely know try to take advantage of the fact that you own horses (ie: bring your horses to my kid's birthday party, let my kids and their friends come over to ride, and such).

A time you’ve been scared for your life (horse related)?  I was on a super steep trail, and the horse I was riding tripped, fell, and went sliding down the hill for a few feet. Definitely made my heart skip a beat since it was out of the blue, though I don't think there has ever been a horse-related incident that made me scared for my life.

Fjord horse mane

Have you ever fallen off at show? What happened? Nope! But then again, I do not show often.

What’s a breed of horse you’ve never ridden but would like to ride? I've never ridden a gaited horse before, so I would like to sometime.

Describe the worst behaved horse you’ve ridden? There was one gelding who was basically Jekyl and Hyde. One minute, he would be the most well-behaved horse you've ever seen, the next he would rear to the point of flipping over or try to buck you off. My first dozen rides on him were great, just basic intro level dressage work. One day, he just completely switched and tried to buck me off. Then he began trying to kick me whenever I was within kicking range. Of course, the owner immediately said, "He's never done that before!"

Whenever you asked him to do something he didn't want to do, he had two reactions: buck or rear. After seeing him rear to the point of nearly flipping over (unprovoked) with a trainer, I quit riding him.

Of course, the owner neglected to tell me about his issues and claimed he was "as bombproof as you can get." I came to find out that the horse had an awful reputation in the local equestrian community and was known for being very unpredictable. Supposedly he passed pain/back exams and saddle fit seminars, so maybe he was just crazy. This is why I am wary of riding new horses now!

Fjord horse mane

The most frustrating ride you’ve ever had? About a year into owning Ypke we went through a super rocky phase where rides were consistently awful. I was super nervous after the fall I took, and she took advantage of that. Pretty sure she figured out that I wasn't confident enough to enforce the rules, so she basically did whatever she wanted to do when I rode her. Luckily she has never reared, bolted, or any of that. Her version of misbehaving is refusing to go faster than a lazy walk or dragging me towards the nearest patch of grass. Typical Fjord!

November 12, 2016

Churchill Downs

Last weekend I found myself in Louisville, Kentucky. I don't think any trip to Louisville is complete unless you visit Churchill Downs, which is something I have always wanted to do. Needless to say, it was amazing!

My favorite part was standing right alongside the track by the finish line. I loved the sound of thundering hooves!

Previously, I had never been to a track or watched a race. I am definitely no racing expert, so a couple of things surprised me:

a.) The horses were quite calm. When I think of racehorses, I think of them as easily spooked, hot-tempered, and prancing around. While there were exceptions, most of them seemed quite polite and levelheaded.
b.) The horses were not all that tall. I always figured racehorses were giants (17hh+), but the ones that were racing while I was there were certainly shorter.
Churchill Downs paddock
Explosive Kowboy

Churchill Downs paddock

Churchill Downs
During a tour, we were shown how they were brought into the starting gates. One horse threw a huge fit. It reared a couple times, the bridle fell off, it reared again, the jockey jumped off, and the horse took off at a full gallop to the other end of the track. It happened not once, but twice. They were all having a laugh about it, so I guess it must not be too uncommon. I would have been terrified, that's for sure!

It was a huge place and a beautiful facility. The footing looked wonderful, and I wanted to steal it.

The Kentucky Derby Museum was very well put together and interactive. They had a horse racing game that I low-key got addicted to.

Kentucky Derby Museum

I was able to spend a couple hours in the museum, go on a few tours, and see about 10 races. It was loads of fun, and if you are ever near Louisville I would highly recommend checking it out!