June 29, 2015

First Ride of the Year!

I rode Ypke for the first time in 7 months yesterday.  Man, is it good to be back!

Fjord horse going Western
I figured it might be a good idea to ride Western on the first day back...
Now you might be wondering, "Hannah, y u no ride ur horse???"  I've never been a fan of excuses, but here are mine: bad weather, school, and having zero motivation after three hours of homework.  School ruins everything, but then again, the sky being pitch black by 4pm and lack of arena lights didn't help matters.  Summer rolled around and I was like, "Ride horses all day! Yay!" That was short lived because I went on vacation and came back to 113° weather.

Colorful Equine Custom Fly Masks
In the meantime, she got to do what she loves - eat grass
I resumed my weekly riding lessons last Friday, and I was honestly glad it was blazing hot out.  Ypke is fat and lazy so throwing tantrums in this kind of weather isn't a likely option for her.  She was very calm, though a tad stubborn while being lunged.  My trainer's daughter hopped on first and cantered around for a bit before I took the reins.  Ypke actually seemed to enjoy being active and was more than willing to putz around for me.  We went around and around in circles at the walk and trot, and while there were several breaks in gait occasionally, I was very pleased with how it went considering all of the time off.
Extended horse trot

Everything was nice and peaceful, and surprisingly, she wasn't all that stiff. Definitely a good way for the first ride of the year to go!

June 26, 2015

Flexible Fit Equestrian: Mix and Match Bridle

One of the most common problems many Fjord owners have is finding a bridle that fits. Fjords have unique heads, and Ypke is no exception to that — she requires a full browband, cob cheek pieces, oversize noseband, and pony reins. Ypke originally had two dressage bridles, a cob and a full — the cob was always a nightmare trying to get the noseband to even buckle at the first hole, yet the full was waaaaaay too big in the cheek pieces. One bridle had brass hardware, and the other stainless steel... this made interchanging them rather ugly. That is where Flexible Fit Equestrian stepped in and kindly sent me their Mix and Match Bridle, which allows you to choose each individual part in the desired size. On top of that, there are many different options of nosebands, browbands, and reins that you can choose from!

Bling browband

One of the features that I liked the most about this bridle was the monocrown headpiece. I have only had bridles where the noseband was a completely different attachment/overhead strap, making adjustment difficult. It is also nice to not have the extra bulkiness of one more strap going over the poll. This monocrown in particular has cutback ears which, in theory, should relieve pressure. This feature is also particularly useful while taking the bridle on and off — it easily slides right over her ears!

Monocrown bridle
The crown's cutback for the ears.

Going along with the monocrown, I found it very handy that everything, including the throatlatch, is double buckled.  This feature made adjusting the fit a breeze, so I suppose the name Flexible Fit is, well, fitting. Since the noseband didn't go over the poll and buckled on each side of her head, this allowed for easily getting just the right ideal placement (having those buckles also made it so easy to make the noseband level... none of that bothersome crookedness!).

Removable flash noseband

I personally don't see the need to use a flash on Ypke, so I was glad to see that the attachment is removable. As long as you are semi-dexterous, you can take that puppy on and off in under 5 seconds. Upon being removed, the padding magically forms back up to the rest of the noseband.  You can't even tell that there was ever a flash attachment there, unlike those nosebands with the permanent piece that just sits pointlessly if there isn't a flash through it.

Bling browband
This work of art even sparkles indoors. In the sunlight, it temporarily blinds you.

Leather: Seems to be of nice quality, supple

Padding: The padding is, quite simply, fantabulous. The Flexi-Fit Gel is soft and squishy, and I am sure that it provides a great deal of comfort for the areas that come in contact with the monocrown, browband, noseband, and chinstrap. You can even stick the bridle into the refrigerator to cool the gel.  This supposedly helps to regulate the temperature of pressure points, but since I have not tried out that nifty sounding feature, I can't comment on it. I also found out that they make Flexi-Fit Gel girths — I would be curious to see how much that would help (especially in this 110* weather).

Stitching: Even and strong

Hardware: This was the one area of the bridle that I feel could use improvement. Compared to the rest of the nice craftsmanship of this headstall, I found the buckles and hooks to be a tad flimsy, though I don't find them to be a cause for concern as far as the structural integrity goes. They are by no means poor quality though.

Flexible Fit Equestrian dressage bridle

I honestly do not think you can beat the customer service that Flexible Fit provides. On top of their prompt, polite reps, they really did strive to make things work for me. Upon arranging for this review, I measured Ypke several times and finally sent them off on May 3. The company is located in Australia, and I am located in a rural area of the Pacific Northwest. The bridle arrived May 15 — that is faster shipping than some of the places in the PNW that I have ordered from! Upon receiving it, I was absolutely mortified to find out that the noseband was too small (I blame it on my non-dexterous hands fumbling with the measuring tape). I tried everything I could to make something work, but finally, after two long days, I fessed up.

Now, I figured that they would say, "We hate your rotten guts, you filthy scammer."
But in reality they promptly replied with, "Oh, no problem, we'll send a new one your way."

I still feel really guilty that I ended up with two nosebands, but they truly made this by far the best experience that I have ever had with customer service. Shout out to you, Sheree!

All in all, I am very pleased with their product.  It is now my favorite bridle in the tack room!

**Disclosure: Flexible Fit Equestrian sent me their Mix & Match Bridle free of charge for review purposes.  While I did receive these products at no expense, all thoughts expressed in this review are based off of my own experiences.  Despite my experience being positive, I cannot guarantee their products.**

June 11, 2015

First World Problem: Browband Bling vs. Afro

A common problem that Fjord owners have is finding a bridle that actually fits.  Ypke typically takes an oversize noseband, cob check pieces, a full browband, and pony reins.  It isn't easy to find an off the rack bridle that suitably fits her.  Often times, I have to mix and match various sizes which means different colors, stitching types, leather qualities, etc.  That is where Flexible Fit Equestrian stepped in and kindly sent me their Mix & Match Bridle.  This model allows you to select pieces in your desired size and choose from a wide variety of noseband and browband styles — it is like the Build-a-Bear of bridles!

Bling browband

Ypke has always had Plain Jane browbands because I have never been able to justify getting her all blinged out. Flexible Fit has over 50 blingy browbands to choose from when you are building a bridle, and I probably spent over half an hour deliberating over what to choose. After consulting several people, I finally chose one. When it arrived, I was blown away by how much it sparkles, even when there isn't direct sunlight.

Bling browband

Upon receiving the bridle, I was faced with a completely first world dilemma — styling Ypke's poofy afro to show off the shine. You see, Ypke's typical hairstyle completely defeats the purpose of a blinged out browband.

Fjord horse head
Case in point

So, I'm turning to you, dear readers, to weigh in on what looks best while still not hiding every last sparkle .

Flexible Fit Equestrian dressage bridle
Hair tucked under (Option #1)

Flexible Fit Equestrian dressage bridle
Ponytail (Option #2)

Flexible Fit Equestrian dressage bridle
Braid (Option #3)
Comment whether you think 1, 2, or 3 showcases the Flexible Fit browband sparkle the best. If you are a mad whiz at hairstyling and think the above three are a disgrace, what would you suggest?
Stay tuned for an official review on the bridle!