Illumiseen Breastplate Collar Review

The Illumiseen Breastplate collar is a nylon breastplate with LED lights lining it. The lights have three settings: steady, blinking slow, and blinking fast. Illumiseen created this breastplate to increase horse visibility, and they succeed, these lights are bright.

LED breastplate
Bright, even in moderately lit tack room.

Illumiseen reached out to me, asking if I would like one to review, and I enthusiastically replied YES because I trail ride a lot, and I like to be very visible.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wow, I really hope I don’t get shot by a hunter today?” Of course you have! We all have these thoughts all the time! From the moment you park your car at the barn, to leading your horse into the arena, you keep an eye on that suspicious moving bush that seems to be following you around.

South Park Studios

Alright, so maybe there isn’t a hunter stalking you at your barn, but if you go on trail rides, hunting season is serious. Hunters are supposed to identify what they are shooting before they shoot, and are supposed to use extreme caution, but you have to trust they will do it. They might not even be intentionally making an error, but sometimes eyes can be deceiving. Horses can resemble deer, they have four legs and some are colored similar, so be helpful and mark yourself. You really don’t want to risk getting hit.

With trails disappearing around here, I’m also forced to ride on roads. I really enjoy being seen and noticed while out there. I actually knew a girl who was riding her horse on the road, and a truck struck them. The horse died, but the girl survived. Riding on roads is dangerous. You need to be seen.

Neon dressage’ing.

I tried the breastplate on my two horses. I could not try it on Pony, because the breastplate did not adjust that small. It could have gone a little smaller than its setting for Vintage, and she is about 15.1 hands and fine boned.

I adjusted it a little bit bigger for Berry. The adjuster only looks like it’s in the same spot because I think I had it uneven on Vintage.

Neon hunter’ing.

I usually use a martingale when I ride Berry. I think this is mostly habit than anything else, because that’s what hunter horses wear, dammit! But whether the horse needs it or not, it was not possible to have both the martingale and the breastplate at the same time. In hindsight, this seems rather obvious, but at the time, I just kind of stared dumbfounded, while wondering if Berry would still be the same horse without using a martingale. Spoiler: She totally was. Despite her complete ease, yes, I am still using the martingale for my normal rides, for reasons I don’t quite understand.

The breastplate connects with a loop at the girth, and has two clips for the saddle. I’m not used to a breastplate like this, as the closet thing I use (the martingale) has a loop that rests it on the neck first, before I attach to the girth and bridle. It would go on first. With this, I have to put the saddle on first, clip the breastplate on, and then attach at the girth. It threw off my routine, and I do with there was another cord attaching the two clip points so I could drape it over the horse’s neck, and then put on the saddle. That would work much better with my routine.

You can see the lights are bright enough to see in daylight. I was able to turn the lights on and off while mounted, and have LED strobe light disco as I rode. I went right along the road, and did not get hit by any cars. Was it because of my super amazing LED breastplate? Or are my neighbors just not a bunch of jerks who speed down country roads? Who knows!

Also important to note: The horses did not seem to be fearful of the strobe light, and no seizures were had. Your results may vary.


For a double review whammy, these Aztec Diamond leggings have no pockets, but have a fairly tight waistband. At the very least, my cell phone will stay inside the pant as it slowly makes its way down my leg.

The LEDs are charged with a USB charger. I left the LEDs on for several hours to see how long it would take to run out the battery. Unfortunately, I did not find out because it would not die. I turned it on at my first ride, right about 2pm, and left it on until about 9pm, because I wanted to go sleep at that point. It will last a day of trail riding, into dusk and nighttime. Or, if you have it on and part ways with your horse, it may help your horse be found more quickly.

The Illumiseen breastplate can be purchased on Amazon, and comes in a variety of colors. I wanted pink because not only do I like pink, it’s bright. For maximum visibility, go bright. Illumiseen also has other products. There are dog collars and leashes, and lights for joggers and bikers. As the days are getting shorter, I’m tempted into getting those collars for my beloved little dogs, as I’d like to see where they are when I let them out. It’s time to light up everything in here! …but only with LED lights.


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The Saddle Club Movie: Horse Crazy – Overview

I read The Saddle Club growing up, and I loved them. I don’t think I read every single one of them, but I read at least 60% of them. They were great for a kid fantasizing about having her own horse. I even loved that their vague location of, “40 minutes outside of DC in Virginia,” was exactly where I lived as a kid. However, it wasn’t the countryside described in the book, but rather, endless suburbs. If I was going to theorize on exactly where the books took place, I would have guessed Great Falls Equestrian center, where I used to take lessons. I’m pretty sure its demolished now, though… a pity, it was an incredible facility, with a huge indoor, at least 50 stalls, two outdoors, trails… It was the first and only place I’ve seen standing stalls in use. They had a row of them for the lesson ponies, and they’d be in there all day. Somehow, they could even lay down in them.

But I digress.

As I didn’t grow up with cable, I was pretty surprised when I found out there was a Saddle Club TV series. When I first watched them, I was horrified. The Saddle Club takes place in Virginia! Why are they in Australia, and all have accents?! It was a personal slight, you see. Also, they completely messed up the story lines. Eventually, I got over it, and tried to accept it for what it was: An over the top, mostly unrealistic show about horses. Which is why when I decided I wanted to watch another horse movie, I found a 4 pack of The Saddle Club horse movies to buy. That’s right, after this one, I’ve got three more. Buwahaha.

The movie starts with the lesson group doing a jumping lesson, while Max stands silently and watches, giving no instruction. Stevie is beside him, on Belle. I guess she had just gotten Belle at this point because Max reassures her she will be out there jumping soon. Belle is apparently way too green to jump even the tiny crossrails. Veronica comes by and mocks Stevie for not jumping, and Stevie quickly reassures Belle that she’s just not ready yet. Carole chimes in that Stevie just got Belle, and therefore, can’t jump her yet. I guess there’s some kind of initiation process that must be completed before Stevie can attempt to jump her. Then The Saddle Club spends some time mocking Veronica, making me wonder who the real villains are.

Veronica finds Carole feeding her horse treats, and asks her to stop. Carole refuses and insists she will give Garnet treats. Carole has apparently decided that she is the owner of Garnet, and she can do whatever she wants with her. They wrestle over the bag of carrots until Carole lets go, and then Veronica falls backward into a wheelbarrow full of manure. Hopefully, Veronica has learned her lesson to not question what other people are doing to her horse. The Saddle Club laughs at her, bringing me back to my earlier point – The Saddle Club are the real villains.

This is not a healthy horse's manure.
This is not a healthy horse’s manure.

Veronica is forced to change, and then she is then mocked for wearing jeans. Poor Veronica, it’s not right she gets bullied so much.

One of the farm workers leaves the gate open, and a foal decides to make a bid for freedom. We all know how much foals hate being turned out with their dams, they want to live their own lives, and get away from their embarrassing, helicopter mothers. It sprints towards the farm exit, but The Saddle Club is there to scream at the other farm worker to do something. Luckily Red, the farm worker, always turns out horses in their bridles, so he mounts up and gallops after it bareback, leaping dramatically over a fence gate. What a talented guy. The Saddle Club badgers him about where he learned to do it, and he reveals he rode before, but gave up two years ago. Not only is his backstory mysterious, he also maintained his riding muscles mysteriously.

The farm worker who accidently let the foal out is named Jake, and he is a very poor worker. He is asked to bring hay in but waits until it’s raining to start bringing it in. I sense trouble afoot!

The Saddle Club decides they aren’t going to respect Red’s boundaries, and they must know why Red stopped riding. They discover he qualified for a big competition two years ago, but mysteriously stopped riding. It is unacceptable to The Saddle Club that someone isn’t interested in riding, so they have to figure out how to get him to ride agian.

Stevie decides to trick him into riding by telling him Comanche needs exercise. I’m sure as a lesson horse, he would never otherwise get exercise. Also, it’s not exactly a trick, it’s very obviously asking Red to ride the horse. She explains that she has to ride Belle, and Red is the only person she can trust to ride Comanche. Comanche doesn’t belong to Stevie, and Stevie is not responsible for him, so I’m not sure why she says this. The Saddle Club truly has no boundaries.

Red decides to just put Comanche away, but somehow the horse is in on the trickery and sits down until Red agrees to ride him.

I totally identify with this, my horse does this all the time!
I totally identify with this, my horse does this all the time! It’s a totally normal and natural reaction for a horse!

Red leaves, Max, the barn owner left earlier, and now the barn just has Jake, the love-sick Veronica, and her friend who’s name I can’t ever remember. Both Veronica and her friend have been walking around the whole day in their show clothes. They are rich, dammit, and that’s what rich people do!


Veronica is convinced that her and Jake are meant to be together, and her friend tries to read her fortune up in the hay loft. She’s having trouble seeing the cards, so Veronica brings over a hot lamp to see and sets it on the hay. Despite bringing the light over, they give up on the fortune in less than a minute, and leave the loft, leaving the lamp on the hay. The horse gods really want that hay to catch fire.

The Saddle Club run into Red while out riding, and everyone is merry until Lisa discovers the barn is on fire. That’ll ruin anyone’s ride. They return to the barn, and find Jake spraying the hose ambiguously into the barn, Veronica rescuing Garnet (I guess she must have cared about her!) and Veronica’s friend rescuing her own saddle. At least she understands the value of a nice saddle, it’s totally worth your life to save it.

Red and the Saddle Club rush into the barn to save the horses. Everyone grabs a lead rope and a horse, except for Carole who makes sure to blanket the horse so keep it warm once it goes out into the balmy summer day.

"It would be a tragedy if this cooler burned up!"
“It would be a tragedy if this cooler burned up, now I can save it and the horse!”

Everyone else leads their horses out, but since Carole is pushing on the horse’s shoulder while trying to lead it, her horse won’t go. If she survives the flames, perhaps a Horse Leading 101 class is in order. She also didn’t even bother to attach the straps on the blanket, so it was basically just draped over her.

Red runs back in, and they employ the Black Beauty method of wrapping a standing wrap around the horse’s eyes so she can’t see. I wonder if Anne Sewell knew what a monster of a gimmick she created when she wrote Black Beauty. It will be used in every movie with a barn fire for the remainder of time.

The firemen and owners show up, and it seems that all the horses are safe, although somehow it was a close call with the blanketed horse, despite it having no visible injuries or blemishes of any kind. The attending vet declares that the blanket protected the horse from any burns. I don’t think fleece has any kind of anti-burn properties, but I guess this is why I’m not a TV horse vet.

"This horse would have DIED if not for that cooler!"
“This horse would have DIED if not for that cooler!”

Now that everyone is safe, it’s time for the blame game. Max yells at Red and Jake, and Red quits. It turns out this is the second barn fire Red has been involved with…which is actually super suspicious. Most people are involved with zero barn fires in their lifetime. Maybe Red has a habit of bringing terrible, fire-starting barn workers with him to work. But, Jake admits to bringing in the hay when it was wet, Red is re-hired, and everyone is friends again.

I thought this was the end, but this is only 27 minutes in. I guess they literally glued episodes together to create this movie. Luckily, despite it taking up a full hour, the next part of the plot goes quickly…quickly for me, anyway, because I only cared about the parts that involve horses. The rest is just white noise.

Max is planning to ask Deborah to marry him, and Deborah wants to learn to ride. She is planning a surprise for Max, and she’s ready after two lessons.

She looks ready for anything.
She’s almost a champion rider now.

But, it turns out I’m being cynical, and she actually is ready. All she wanted to do was trail ride with Max, at a walking pace. She actually might have over-prepared for it, tourists go on walking trail rides all the time with no prep work.

She asks Max to marry her, and Max is shocked because he was totally going to ask her! A good laugh is had.

Word spreads quickly, and Phil, one of the riders, decides a great present to Max and Deborah is to give them a horse carriage they already own. They do have to clean it up though…and also get a horse to pull the carriage. Rather than picking a horse because of their training, instead its dominance match between Stevie and Phil. Apparently they usually fight over everything, but this time they generous suggest each other’s horse should pull the carriage. This indicates they have a crush on each other.

Meanwhile, Lisa decides the best wedding present she could give is winning first at a horse show that coming up weekend.

"I bring the gift of honor to the farm."
“I will bring the gift of honor to the farm.”

She brings the jumps up pretty high, especially since earlier in the movie she was doing little crossrails. But she literally only has a few days to prepare for it, so she needs to accelerate her training. The Saddle Club tries to talk her out of it, but she insists that there is no better gift she can give Max, and she has to practice. Veronica cuts them all off, tells Lisa to go for it, and tells Stevie its not any of her business. She adds that she can’t stand it whent the Saddle Club tries to bully people. It’s about time someone said it!

Lisa, shy, uncertain, and nervous, goes for it. I’m sure we can all guess what happens.

"I always wanted to be launched through the air!"
“Hurray! I’m going over the jump! Next time, I hope to take the horse with me!”

I was spending time trying to figure out how they did this falling scene. I was thinking there was no way they actually had the actress fall on purpose, but it sure looks like her falling. It’s not a prop they tossed over, the movement of it appears human. I’m not sure if it’s actually her or a stunt double, though.

Lisa’s gift ends up being tickets to a front row seat of someone in a coma. I’m not sure she’s going to get better either, as they went to a computer repair technician for her treatment: “She’s a bit like a computer that’s gone to sleep.”

Back at the barn, a random child teaches a horse to pick up a brush.

"This is going to give me a competitive edge at my next show!"
“This is definitely going to give me a competitive edge at my next show!”

Stevie tells Max and Deborah that Lisa was trying to win for their present, and they feel so guilty they cancel the wedding. Clearly, this child going into a coma is a sign they aren’t right for each other. They were probably moving too fast anyway, it seems like they just got engaged days ago. I’ve never seen someone plan a wedding so fast.

Deborah leaves her rings with random child, and the horse performs his new trick of eating random objects on it. Child is now doomed to sit by horse for the next day, waiting for it to come out the other end.

As Lisa continues to be a party pooper and stay in a comma, Prancer, the horse she rides, is too devastated to eat, as all our horses get when they haven’t seen us for a few days. They decide to bring Prancer to Lisa to try to wake her up, and when Prancer starts doing her earth shattering whinnies, Lisa wakes right up. Now the wedding can be back on, and the Saddle Club is going to organize it in less than 3 days… despite the couple not wanting to do it that way. But apparently, children get to decide this, so Max and Deborah are going to get married whether they like it, or not.

Now the wedding can be back on, and the Saddle Club is going to organize it in less than 3 days… despite the couple not wanting to do it that way. But apparently, children get to decide this, so Max and Deborah are going to get married whether they like it or not.

There’s a boring chunk with no horses while they organize, and Stevie and Veronica feud over Phil, but it all works out. The child doesn’t even have to shift through horse manure to get the rings because the horse just knocked them into the aisle instead of eating them.

Max and Deborah then get married, and it’s all over. There was surprisingly very little horse action in the second act, it was mainly just boohooing about Lisa. Thanks a lot, Lisa, not only did you ruin Max and Deborah’s original wedding plans, you also ruined my movie experience.

I rate it a miniature horse, out of a possible shire, for sheer boringness, and lack of horses. The next three movies better have way more horses than this one. I suffer through these movies purely to see the absurd horse scenarios, and if there is limited horsing, what benefit is there to me?!

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Aztec Diamond Product Reviews

I have a case of Anglophile this week… first with their television shows, and now their clothing. To further this, today I’m using a wool wrap that my parents brought back for me from their trip to Britan this past spring. Sure, it’s super itchy, and also only like 70 degrees outside, but it is important to me to fully celebrate my British obsession week.

Today, I want to talk about a British company, Aztec Diamond Equestrian. They make lovely, fashion-forward equestrian clothes. Early this year I even did a gift certificate giveaway for their company. Their popularity seems to be growing, as seen on social media, and as indicated by the growing amount of products they now sell.

Back in the spring, I bought a lovely show shirt.

Pristine show shirt, bizarrely curly hair.
Pristine show shirt, bizarrely flat yet curly hair. Thanks a lot, hairnet. 

I’ve been using this shirt exclusively for every show I’ve done this year, which amounts to about three shows I believe. For two shows, it was beautiful and cleaned up nicely. At my last show, it was super hot, and I decided to ride without my jacket. I figured everyone has a day like that, but I didn’t realize it would make me so dirty. No matter, I thought, it’ll clean up nicely in the wash.


The sad remains of my show shirt. (If you are confused about the design, it’s a body suit to keep it tucked in.)

It looks exactly as dirty as it was before I put it through the wash. I think the fabric, which was a lovely waffle weave, trapped in all the dirt. These is just a theory though, I honestly am not sure why it stayed so dirty unless it’s not actually dirt, but some kind of fungus or bacteria that took up residence on my shirt.

I would like to point out that I followed the cleaning directions on the tag. I also do not claim to be a laundry expert, so I’m sure there is some magical way I can treat the shirt and it will go back to its pristine self. Eventually, I will do that. But, in general, I do not like clothing that requires special maintenance. I have ruined wool jackets and silk shirts in the past because of my reluctance to give them special treatment. They failed the gauntlet, so to speak. They cannot make it in the cutthroat world of my closet.

Because I really like the design of this shirt, I’m going to try to clean it up, and if it works, I’ll be more diligent about keeping it clean. But I would not buy another one because I do not like clothes that require effort. Even my show jacket goes in the washing machine.

When I purchased the show shirt, I also purchased two pairs of leggings, gray and navy. I don’t see navy on their site anymore, but this is the gray version. I had purchased the medium, because in most American clothes, I am a medium. Turns out I should have purchased a large, because I have one of the biggest behinds in existence. I didn’t feel like returning or exchanging, so I just put the leggings in my drawer and moved on with my life. Now, months later, I’ve lost a bit of weight, and I rediscovered the leggings.

These leggings are a good look. I don’t look like the model, but the first time I wore them, my friend said, “Those are nice leggings!” And they really are. The design of them is super flattering. They are really high waisted and pull you in.


I have a short torso, but these cover my belly button. Basically, the bottom seam of the top band is where I normally have my pants sit, so it felt strange to me. Sitting down, the band would roll a little bit, but standing up, walking around, and riding, it would stay straight up and suck me in.

The fabric is like a ribbed athletic legging. It claims on the label they are designed for grip while riding. Normally athletic leggings are much too slippery for riding, so I was interested in trying this out. Turns out, completely true. I didn’t feel slippery, and I basically forgot I was wearing leggings.

I’m apparently one of those people who cannot stay clean, so of course I was pretty dirty after riding. The leggings were covered with that fine horse dust. But, it brushes right off, and then the leggings look pristine again. Hurray for clean looking clothes!

Other than the flattering lines of the legging, they also added some decals. On one side is their arrow-like logo, and on the other side, raised rubber letters.

aztec diamond equestrian leggings

I’m a little curious if those letters will stay on there. They seem pretty firm currently, but I haven’t been wearing the leggings that long.

In addition to riding in them and wearing them all day, I also wanted to test their workout ability. I was wondering if the friction useful for riding would make me feel like I was wearing sandpaper on my legs while I used the treadmill. Happy to report that it did not. The friction level is not that high. These leggings are perfect for those days when you go riding and also go to the gym.

The only downside I can say about these leggings is that after wearing them for many hours around the house, my legs felt a little bit itchy. Not enough to actually itch, but just a little bit of an annoyance. Eventually, I did change out of them to a softer, lounging around worthy material.

Overall, I really like the leggings, and I look forward to riding in them. I will be checking out the breeches they sell too, but I’ll wait until I’m feeling better about my bank account. That limited edition lace decal design though — so tempted to make that purchase!

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Katie Price’s Pony Club – A Review

Despite my laments earlier that KP’s Pony Club was only in Britain, I found it. It can be found easily on YouTube. I am moderately fulfilled now that I have seen the first three episodes.

Usually, I’m a terrible person and snark heavily on horse movies because they are terrible, awful, unrealistic things. This show, shockingly, is not terrible. These are also real kids, who all seem very sweet and likable. The horses act like horses, and everyone treats them like horses. As far as reality shows go, it’s pretty realistic… you know, as realistic as it can be that someone is funding a multi-week intense riding program for kids.

This is Katie Price.
This is Katie Price.

The first episode introduces us to the Katie Price, her family, and all the kids. Katie Price is described as a television presenter and personality, and I figured it out later on that she’s a glamor model. Her husband is Kiernan, who seems very sweet, and tries hard to be involved. Katie has a flock of children, two of which are involved with her pony club.

The basic premise is Katie Price is an equestrian, she loves horses, and she wants to share them with others. I’m not clear if she owns most of the horses (one is definitely owned by another mom), but she brings all the kids together on her farm for regular training sessions in order to compete in a specialized discipline at the end of the week. She feels like an outsider in the equestrian world, and wants her pony club, and herself, to be accepted as serious equestrians.

Katie gives her daughter Princess a leg up.
Katie gives her daughter Princess a leg up.

She has a few friends and an acquaintance with kids similar to her kids’ ages, and she invites them all to join her. I got the impression of genuine friendship between all of the moms, even the one who is new to the group. I guess getting botox, eyebrow tinting, and shopping for over the top dresses brings everyone together.

The first week’s challenge is to take place in a hunt. I’m not positive of all the kid’s abilities, but this seems like a bit of a tall order. They are all between the ages of 9 and 13, and all seem fairly novice. But then again, this kid jumps higher than I do, so maybe I’ve got it all wrong.

Katie's son Junior jumping.
Katie’s son Junior jumping.

Despite staying on a horse over that jump, the kids are novice. They are enthused though, and want to learn.

The training session starts out with an evaluation to see where everyone’s at. Katie stresses that the hunt is dangerous, and Junior flat out asks her why she would have them do something so dangerous. She replies that they won’t do it if their skills aren’t up to par, but if she wants them to work hard and try to do it. It’s clear that safety is important, as all the kids have helmets and safety vests.

In addition to the kids riding in the hunt, Katie and the moms will be going to a hunt ball. All the moms choose a lovely evening gown for themselves, but Katie insists they all wear wedding gowns. Probably not the best impression to make if she wants to be accepted by the “horsie set”, but she insists. It doesn’t seem like the moms have any choice in the matter.

Poor, sad mom.
Poor, sad mom.

They were lovely dresses though, if you’re going for the bridal look.

Katie decides to announce her pony club at a press conference, and has everyone dress up in outfits. Very, VERY over the top outfits. I got the impression this is a very Katie Price thing to do — always go over the top with crazy costumes.

Actual press image from Huffington Post UK

I have second-hand embarrassment for them. Although, I do admire that they (or Katie at least) has the guts to unabashedly wear those outfits. The kids are embarrassed, but kids are usually embarrassed by their parents, even when they aren’t forcing them to dress up as colorful unicorns.

They prepare for the hunt, and the hunt ball by loading up all the horses in a giant horse van. The horses all load fine, which I admire, since the van looks terrifyingly high off the ground. The moms’ travel is another issue, though. Their bus gets stuck in Katie’s front lawn, making them extremely late to the hunt ball. Eventually, they make their late entrance in bridal wear, shocking the very people Katie was interested in impressing.

The day of the hunt is overcast and wet. I was already a bit terrified for the kids to be out in the fast moving hunt field, and now the weather isn’t working in their favor either. Luckily the moms are interested in keeping their spawn alive, so half of them are pulled out. The braver/more experienced kids are sent out, though.

Katie (left) riding her horse in the hunt.
Katie (left) riding her horse in the hunt.

They are a bit nervous at first, but they do have their trainer riding with them, who talks them through the rough beginning. And then, miraculously, they all start to have fun. It seems the hunt goes off without a hitch, and everyone is very proud of their offspring.

I really liked this show. 90% of the screen time has a horse in it. I like that the horses weren’t an afterthought, which is how it seems to be in most horse movies. It’s not about the rider’s personal lives, it’s about horses and riding. Very little is shown of the people’s lives, unless it directly relates to the horses. You can see the horse’s personalities, and you can see the riders struggle, and it’s a good reminder of how we were all there at that point. There are the braver riders who attempt everything, and even if they fall off they pop back on. Sometimes they get overwhelmed, but their trainers and their moms step in to comfort them and get them on the right track. Later, they will say they know they got overwhelmed in the moment, but they are feeling better about it now. Sometimes, we all feel like that with our horses.

Overall: This is an interesting show for horse people. There may be enough going on for non-horse people to enjoy it too, but I was really just blinded by everything related to the horses so I’m biased. So far, they have done the hunt, had a week of reining, and a week of showjumping. I can’t wait for the next episode!

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Dover Chantilly Tent Sale

I visited Dover’s Chantilly, Virginia, tent sale on Sunday, expecting nothing but the scraps of weird sizes/colors left over. After all, the tent sale had been going on since Friday. Since I didn’t look up what time it opened, I ended up getting there early, and was awarded with a free pink show shirt. It was an unexpected bonus, although they did decline to offer one to Dave, perhaps knowing that it’s not really his color.

I’ve seen Dover getting a bad rap online. People don’t like their prices, or don’t like their shipping policies, or feel that the tent sale isn’t that much of a deal. I won’t speak for the rest of it, but I feel like I got a huge deal yesterday. I’m not sure what the other location’s sales look like, but the Chantilly, VA one is all sorts of magical.

As I was waiting in line to get in, the very friendly woman in front of me started explaining the basement bargains. I admit, I was actually dumb for a moment and said, “Dover has a basement?” despite have gone there hundreds of times in the last ten years (I lived practically next door), and never ever seen a basement. But, she was kind and explained that some of the products they were selling were either returns, or closeouts, and they were half off of the written on price. She had been there the previous day and was so impressed by the prices she came back for more. After seeing what they had in there, I was pretty impressed, too. They had a ton of used Oster body clippers for $75. They had new body clippers for about $90. There were Rambo blankets, and Thinline saddle pads, and riding boots. Much of it was extremely tempting, but since really the best way to save money is to not spend any, I resisted. Here are some things I did get.

Showmark Sheepskin Lined Girth
Showmark Sheepskin Lined Girth

I haven’t used it yet, but this is such a nice girth. The sheepskin is so soft, I want to keep it in the house and use it as a pillow. If I rated it now just on pillow-ness, it’s a 10/10. On Dover’s website, this retails for $174.99. I believe this is Dover’s house brand so I can’t compare with what other retailers might list it at. I paid $35.

Ariat Heritage Contour Zip Field Boot (I think)
Ariat Heritage Contour Zip Field Boot (I think)

I was pretty excited to find these in the jumble of boots. I’ve been having a case of brown boot envy, and then these fall into my life. Although I know already that once again, my trainer is going to tell me my boots are too short. It’s a price I’m willing to pay since I’m not ready to go custom yet. They retail on Dover’s website for $289, and it seems this is the price everywhere else too. I paid $75.

Effax Leather Balm
Effax Leather Balm

I think I scared people nearby by letting out a shriek when I spotted a shelf full of this. I love this stuff so much, and I was running out of it. The Dover list price is $16.99 for this little tub of it. There’s a +/- of $1 or so on its listings other places. I paid $13.99 for it. Not as dramatic as the other products, but still a nice savings.

JP Korsteel Hunter Dee Ring Snaffle with Copper Link
JP Korsteel Hunter Dee Ring Snaffle with Copper Link

Pony needs a new bit. Poor little guy has been suffering with one that’s too big, and since I want my pony happy, I decided to find one at the tent sale for him. Unfortunately, I had no idea what size to buy him, and of course I forgot to bring his old bit with me. Luckily though, it wasn’t too big of a risk because this bit that retails for $39.99 was priced at $5.

Metal Jump Cups (modeled by Poffins)
Metal Jump Cups (modeled with Poffins)

Since I have a horse that likes to destroy things, I was in need of some new jump cups. I bought two pairs of these lovely blue metal ones. They retail for $9.99, I got them for $7.99 each. It looks like I could have gotten them cheaper elsewhere. That’s why Poffins looks so sad/disappointed.

Not everything is going to be a winner. But, I’m pretty excited that I got significant savings on a few items. All it took was a willingness to plunge into a big messy box of leather to find the treasures. I probably could have found more ways to spend money, but after being there for two hours, I was ready to move on with my life.

Overall, I’m very happy with Dover Chantilly, and the manager there is the best!

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Sox Trot Riding Socks

Everyone loves socks. At least, everyone normal does. If you don’t, you must be some kind of crazy person who likes blisters.

I do not like blisters, so I like socks. And, obviously, I like nice socks, so when Sox Trot offered me socks to review, I was all over that.

riding socks
Amazingly gorgeous socks!

Socks, just like riding boots, can be painful for me to buy because I have the world’s 34th largest calves. It’s hard to find boots that fit, and it also stinks when I buy a cute pair of socks and find out they don’t stretch enough to fit. This was not an issue at all with Sox Trot, because they are insanely stretchy. I think they could have fit around at least the world’s 5th largest calves.

The material is very thin, much like hosiery, but feel slightly thicker and more durable. These socks are perfect under close fitting boots for the “leather glove” look.

They have so many options, it was hard to choose. The patterns are so beautiful, it makes me want to collect them all, just like a trademarked franchise. In the end, I selected Lithograph Women’s Sock, and Unforgettable Women’s Socks, but it seems that I got the last pair as I don’t see them on the website anymore. Sorry about that. Please feel free to admire their beauty below though.

Knee high riding socks

Also, while these socks look super awesome in heels, I actually did that because my legs look better in heels. For actual use purposes, I wore them to a few riding lessons, and to ride this super awesome horse at an undisclosed location.

I'm not saying the socks did it, but is it a coincidence I rode this super awesome horse while wearing the socks?
I’m not saying the socks did it, but is it a coincidence I got to ride this super awesome horse while wearing the socks? 

They are also Yorkie approved.


But enough with the hamming it up. They really are nice socks, and if you wear tall boots, or just like fancy socks, you will like them. I felt very fancy in my lessons wearing them, and I had to walk around with them showing afterward so everyone could see the pretty.

If you want to try them out, Sox Trot is even offering a deal for my readers – 15% discount off your purchase. The code is SOXTROT15. Head on over to and try them out! They have so many beautiful patterns and colors, everyone will definitely find at least one, likely 10, that appeal to them.

sox trot riding socks discount

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Rodeo Girl (2016) – A Movie Overview

I’ve had this draft sitting since January. At first I was super excited because it had just come out, and I was going to be the first to make fun of review it. But now it’s been months, and I may or may not be the first. But anyway, here are my thoughts, with some revisions since the first time I wrote it! Revisions that you won’t notice since you didn’t see the first draft!

From an actual review standpoint, this movie is way too long. It’s 1 hour and 48 minutes. It’s almost unbearable, and I’m pretty sure this is why I never finished this review before because I couldn’t stand the thought of having to pay attention to so much boring movie. It should have been condensed significantly, with lots and lots of pointless side plot cut out. It might have been pretty good for a horse movie if they had done that.

Moving on to the actual plot, overall, this movie has really given me keen insight to the dangers of country living. I estimate the rural countryside of Michigan must be one of the most dangerous areas to live, particularly if you are dressed fancier than the country folk.

The movie opens at a fancy show. Priscilla is the main character, and she is getting ready for her round.

The requirement to enter the show was long, blonde hair.
The requirement to enter the show was long, blonde hair.

The commentators announce her into the ring. Apparently she is doing “Junior Jumpers,” despite it looking in every way like a hunter show.

I guess at fancy shows, there are commentators. Also remember to dress up, for gods sake. You're attending a horse show, not doing yard work!
I guess at fancy shows, there are commentators. Also remember to dress up, for gods sake. You’re attending a horse show, not doing yard work!

I feel inspired to dress up for the next horse show I attend. I can only hope that my over-the-top outfit will embarrass any friends that might be present.

They say fancy rich people things in posh accents, such as:

  • “Miss Williams is apt to show great control of her horse.”
  • “Yes, her heart is really into it!”
  • “She’s exhibiting even pace, as well.”
I always feel like the jumps should be higher in these kinds of movies.
I always feel like the jumps should be higher for these high class, fancy shows.

It is also mentioned by someone in the crowd that this horse was bought by her mother’s boyfriend for $75,000, even thought the boyfriend would be hard pressed to find that kind of money. Isn’t that sweet of him! But her expensive horse still ends up dropping a rail though, so this knocks her down to at least third place, according to her trainer/commentator. I’m not sure how he’s able to read the judge’s mind unless it is point based… my god, has it finally happened? Has hunter/jumper mated and created the Hunjump class?

Afterward, Priscilla spends some quality time breathing into a bag, while nearby friends/enemies make comments about her losing her nerve. She is standing outside of her horse’s stall when her commentating trainer appears. He instructs her to stop hanging on her horse’s face. She replies she was trying to open her up for more depth. I can immediately see why she’s having issues. He tells her to wait for the sign she is ready, and it’s not about speed. Jumpers everywhere cheer at this. Also, she has to believe in herself. He tells her that her training resumes on Monday, so I can only imagine that she’s not been in a regular training program? What a rebel!

After her judgmental trainer leaves, she whispers to her horse that they will be winners one day. If the horse cost $75k, she probably already was a winner. So really, you’re bringing her down, Priscilla. Just something to think about to further shatter your frayed nerves.

Priscilla goes to lunch with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. still wearing her complete show outfit, where she tells them her training resumes on Monday. Since I assume some time as passed, it’s probably not as weird to her as it seemed to the viewer. Her trainer says “Training resumes on Monday,” and then seconds later in the next scene she says, “My training resumes on Monday.” But I digress. Her mother tells her that her and her boyfriend are getting married and they are taking a 4 month cruise around the world. Oh, and Priscilla isn’t invited. Oh, and also, she will have to go spend the summer with her father.

She tells them she doesn’t even know her father. He’s never even written her! I’m assuming he also hasn’t called, or emailed, or texted, or skyped, either. She probably learned that letters are the only way to communicate at her fancy finishing school.

Despite her resistance, they tell her she’s going, and she rushes out of the restaurant. She ends up back at her fancy barn, which leads me to believe that the barn and restaurant are one and the same. So this is either a Tryon style horse show facility, or the fanciest boarding barn in existence.

Charles, the mother’s fiancee, says he’ll send Priscilla’s horse with her to Michigan. What a super generous guy!

The next scene Priscilla flies into a small airport on a small prop plane that does not look at all like it would have been able to make the journey from the vague New England location all the way to Michigan.

She meets her father, Duke, who is played by Mr. Hercules himself, Kevin Sorbo. I kept waiting for him to use his amazing strength to save the day, or maybe Xenia, Warrior Princess, would show up too, but that did not happen. Hercules was also in Tommy and the Cool Mule as Nathan’s weirdo father, and also in another movie that I haven’t posted yet. Kevin Sorbo is really making the rounds in these horse movies.

She arrives in her new home, and seems underwhelmed. As they drive by an enormous bank barn, she asked where her horse will stay. Her dad resists asking her if she’s blind, and points out the obvious, “The barn’s right there.” She doesn’t do anything in her new home but go to sleep, and the next morning, ever the diligent horse owner, she puts on her show breeches and cleans out her stall.

The farm hand finds her and offers help, and possibly to introduce her to friends, but she tells him she takes her horsing very seriously, her stall is more important, and she is going to be spending her time stuck in Michigan training for the”World Hunter-Jumper Finals” in England.

During a lunch with her father, she waxes poetic about the fancy food at her boarding school until her horse arrives, which makes her happier than a clam on Tuesday. She abandons her father’s gross food to race out to the trailer and gets out Lassie.

This is when I first realized Lassie’s gender changes several times during the movie. Most of the time, it is a she, but sometimes it turns into a he. But at least Priscilla loves her fluid gendered horse dearly.

She goes on a trail ride down one of the country roads, and some local boys drive by and decide they don’t like her type ’round here. One of them tells the others to “watch this!” and then when they drive by he leans out and yells at her to get off the road.

"These here roads are only for thing with tires, yah hear?!"
“These here roads are only for thing with tires, yah hear?!”

At dinner, Priscilla and her father bond over his girlfriend’s terrible cooking. The girlfriend invites Priscilla to go with her to the rodeo, and she accepts.

At the rodeo, someone offers to buy Duke’s back 100 acres. He refuses. It is apparent this detail is important.

They watch some bull riding, and I don’t know bull riding, but the kid is still on the bucking bull, and the clown comes out to try to distract it while it’s still bucking with the kid. I thought they came out once the kid falls off so they won’t be mauled?

Then Priscilla sees a girl running barrels. She is immediately interested, and wants to do it, abandoning all thought of her previous hunter/jumper dreams. She shares her excitement with Sage, the farm hand, who is hanging out outside a camper trailer, although not just any camper, he’s got an AirStream. Fancy. Apparently everyone who competes in rodeo lives in camper trailers on the grounds (although not necessarily fancy AirStreams). Her pleas for training are cut off by her father and his girlfriend, who arrive just in time to tell her not to do rodeo.

Back at home, she harasses Sage at his home trailer, and insists he train her. He tells her she doesn’t have a horse. She tells him she has “the finest hunter/jumper” in all of New England and therefore she is sure that Lassie will be able to run barrels. Despite this brilliant reasoning, he continues to say no.

Since she can’t barrel race, and now abandoned her dreams of the hunter/jumper finals,  she is super bored (as seen by throwing cards at a barrel, playing catch with a dog, and collapsing on the grass), and one day finds Sage riding a horse. She rides up on her horse, and tells him he will never catch her! She takes off on her fine hunter/jumper at a super slow canter that would make her a hunter champion, but somehow Sage does not catch up. Also noticeable is a ranch brand on her fine hunter/jumper, which seems a bit suspicious to me.

The trail ride together has melted Sage’s cold heart, so he agrees to train her. They briefly discuss his plans for the future, and he reveals he wants to go to vet school. She seems surprised that he doesn’t want to spend his life doing a low wage, manual labor job by continuing to work for her father for the rest of his life. But, somehow, it’s just not enough for him.

They begin the training by putting her in a western saddle, dropping her stirrups and tells her the clothes need to go/she needs to stop dressing nicely/dress more western. Possibly he’s just looking out for her life, for her upscale dressing seems to anger others to the point of violence.

She practices running the barrels, over, and over, and over, and over, with no variation at all. Sage continually tells her to “get it tighter”, to “keep her heels down”, to neck rein, and to hurry on home. I feel like a lot of preliminary work could have been done prior to just running the barrels over and over again. For instance, spending some time teaching the horse neck reining before just doing it. (Although I’m fairly sure I’ve seen direct reining in barrel racing anyway, so why couldn’t she just do that?)

She does listen to him on the clothing though, and ditches her neat english clothes for a plaid flannel shirt and jeans. Some other girls show up that wanted to hang out with Sage and they are dressed exactly the same, flannel plaid and jeans, so it must be some kind of uniform required for all barrel racers.

If you aren't wearing plaid, you aren't a real barrel racer.
If you aren’t wearing plaid, you aren’t a real barrel racer. Being blond is clearly still a requirement.

After first just holding it while she rides, she eventually completely ditches her GPA helmet, so I guess no helmets is also a requirement.

The girls showed up to hang out with Sage, but instead Sage tells them to teach Priscilla. They try to help by yelling useful tidbits such as “it’s not about form, its about speed!”, “get her going”, and “bring her home!” I will give her credit, at least she’s actually practicing. In so many other horse movies they just magically seem to gain the skills.

Sage refuses to help her as he is too busy chopping and stacking a crazy amount of wood. Priscilla becomes irritated he is more interested in keeping his job than helping her.

One of several piles of stacked wood. We can only hope he shows as much devotion to his vet studies as he does pieces of wood.
One of several piles of stacked wood. We can only hope he shows as much devotion to his vet studies as he does pieces of wood.

Her irritation drives her to assist him with his wood stacking. Then, she gets the mail, for no reason I can tell, but I did see some chickens, and really, that’s what is truly important.

I can't believe they don't get more screen time, they should be the real stars of the movie!
I can’t believe they don’t get more screen time, they should be the real stars of the movie!

She passes by Duke in his very nice vegetable garden, and he offers to take her to the cattle auction. She accepts, and gets a phone call from Sage. I guess it’s a really big property that he couldn’t just flag her down as she walked by. Also confusing – she had a smart phone this whole time and wasn’t glued to it during the moments of boredom!? How is it possible that a 14 year old would not be on their phone?! (That fancy finishing school sure did teach some manners.) But anyway, Sage is willing to train her again, so they resume.

She finds out about a show that upcoming weekend, and is determined to enter. Sage tells her that Lassie doesn’t have enough experience, and she fires back, “How will he get experience if he doesn’t compete?” Touche, Priscilla. Now, she just needs to get out of the cattle auction with Hercules, but she hatches a plan.

First, she goes to a tack store and buys a horrific looking American flag shirt with giant tassels hanging off the arms. She asks the clerk, “Is this what barrel racers wear?” He gives her a an incredulous look and replies “…I guess some of them do.”

The next step of the plan: Duke comes to her room to retrieve her to go to the cattle auction. She tells him she’s sick. He says she looks fine, and she replies that she’s got “The Pains.” You know, those pains. He becomes uncomfortable and quickly leaves. She bounds out of bed to watch him leave, and then rushes outside.

Sage shows up with an old truck and dilapidated trailer, and Priscilla is grossed out. It even has plants growing on the sides. Apparently Lassie is grossed out too, and won’t get on. Priscilla says her horse needs music to load to. Sage puts on country music. Not appropriate for a classy horse like Lassie, she needs classical. So Sage puts on classical music, and Lassie loads.  I’m thinking the classical music helped drowned the groaning noises of metal about to break.

She's got her American flag shirt, and Lassie's got her hunter braids. They are ready for rodeo'ing.
She’s got her American flag shirt, and Lassie’s got her hunter braids. They are ready for rodeo’ing.

Sage tells Priscilla to change, so at least he’s looking out for her. He doesn’t need her to assaulted again based on her terrible fashion sense. She puts on a normal white button-up shirt.

At the show, she meets her new self-appointed nemesis(s), Rusty, who drove that white pickup earlier, and Savannah, who feels the need to make snide comments to her. Also, Rusty is shown coming out of a horse stall, dropping a syringe on the ground. Local barrel racing is cutthroat, and it’s time that Priscilla learns this. The attacked horse has to withdraw, and the rider even knows that Rusty did it, but apparently nothing can be done about that. The announcer tells everyone there that the horse was withdrawn, making me wonder why I’ve never heard such an announcement at any show I’ve ever been to. It comes up in so many horse movies…

Priscilla is announced as a “New Competitor” and does her round. It looks about as fast as glue drying, but she gets 3rd.

I walked away at this point, so I’m just going to fill in the blanks. While celebrating her placing, the dilapidated horse trailer collapses on top of Priscilla and Lassie. Lassie is bravely holding it up, with Priscilla cowering underneath her. Hercules, alerted to trouble by his 8th sense, comes rushing to the rodeo to save his daughter. He lifts the trailer off of them, and once they are free from it, molds it back together,  refurbishes it and now it’s a new trailer. But now he knows that Priscilla lied to him about having cramps (a truth he’ll have to accept about women), and is doing rodeo, something he forbade her to do.

This time I watched it, and I laughed for the first time. Sage and Priscilla went to a barn dance, and she is leaning against the wall when he walks up to her, and asks if she wants to dance. They start to dance, and the music swells, and they look so happy. It’s abruptly cut short, when Sage says loudly and slowly, “DO YOU WANT TO DANCE,” because Priscilla is actually still leaning against the wall, she just started fantasizing about dancing with him.

While they dance for real, Rusty is shown walking up to Sage’s tire, with a knife. Duke meanwhile, has just noticed that Priscilla and her horse are gone. It’s like midnight at this point, so I’m not sure how Priscilla thought she could get away with this.

After feeding the dogs, I returned to the movie to find Hercules is yelling at her, and very, very upset about the deception. I think he’s also mad Sage for contributing.

There’s a scene of everyone is upset at everyone, and lots of emotional things.

Next, Priscilla is riding again, and Rusty’s white pickup is after her again. I guess they still hate her for that time she wore english clothes. This time, they chase her down, and prepare to throw a rope at her. Their efforts are thwarted by another car coming the opposite way, and Rusty crashes the truck. Later that evening, Rusty and his father show up to accuse Priscilla of wrecking Rusty’s car. How is this possible in any universe?! How could someone try to run her down with a truck, and then blame her when they crash? Ugh…

Other car was actually a ghost car, as it's now no where to be seen.
Other car was actually a ghost car, as now it is no where to be seen.

Rusty’s dad declares that Priscilla will never do rodeo because of this. I’m not sure how the two are related at all, but Duke doesn’t believe the Rusty family either, and at that moment, decides Priscilla can do the rodeo.

This time he is her trainer. She continues training by continuously doing the barrels over and over again, but I’m just going to put out there, this horse is way too slow. I’m not a barrel racer and I can tell this is one of the slowest horses I’ve ever seen. No matter how close she gets to the barrel, how “tight” she gets it, or whatever lead she starts on, this horse is not getting any faster. But the movie wants us to think she’s getting better, and they do this by the crazy movie magic of switching the horse for a different one.

I guess it's also possible they found the best vanishing cream in existence.
I guess it’s also possible they found the best vanishing cream in existence, and spray painted on some socks.

There is a stream of rodeo runs, each time placing her third. Eventually, she is informed that with just one more placing, she will qualify for the youth finals. She is surprised by this, so I guess someone signed her up for this organization without her knowledge.

But then a jealous tornado comes by, determined to thwart their plans. Priscilla is desperate to go check on Lassie, but Sage drags her down to the safety of the basement. Eventually her father returns, and even though he wants everyone to stay in the basement, they all go out to check on Lassie.

But even more trouble was brewing! While the tornado distracted them, Rusty, has come by to feed Lassie. He is just such a great guy, coming by to make sure Lassie is okay. He filled up a 5 gallon bucket with a mix of sweet and pellet and left it in her stall. He was just doing them a favor, taking care of their horse while they were all hiding!

But it turned out his generosity was actually nefarious, as the grain caused Lassie to colic. Sage declares this a horrible, awful, no good colic, and that her intestines are probably twisted. Hercules wants them all to go back to shelter, but Priscilla says she can’t leave Lassie like this. So her father tells Sage to get his gun, causing Priscilla to start cry-screaming. She is well trained in bending men to her will, so he relents and allows her just to stay with the horse while he single-handedly fends off the tornado.

Sage and Priscilla take turns walking Lassie. Her terrible, awful colic is resolved by morning. Sage really will be the most amazing vet ever. Not only did he cure her, Lassie is immediately ready to compete with no ill effects from the colic.

She competes the next day and earns a 2nd, knocking out Rusty’s girlfriend to third. Rusty’s girlfriend has to spend time scowling in her trailer to deal with this.

Back at home, her mother shows up. Priscilla is super excited because now she can finally see her compete at finals! (Mother missed all her previous hunter/jumper competitions). After a heart warming reunion, Priscilla is sent to the barn while the adults talk.

Once Priscilla is out of the room, Priscilla’s mom turns into cold business woman. Turns out that she is actually broke, and now they need to sell the horse immediately. As in, that day, the guy will show up to take the horse. Jeez, that’s a fast sale for a $75,000 horse. She must have the best marketer/trainer ever! Priscilla is understandably upset, and goes out to cry in the barn.

Turns out, the new buyer is Rusty and his father. Priscilla’s mom really wanted to rub in what a cold hearted bitch she is. Rusty comes into the barn to get Lassie, complete with whip in hand, even telling Priscilla, “I’ll whip her if I want to!” I think this guy is a real psychopath, who on earth acts like this?!

Luckily, Duke is there to prevent the animal abuse, and the horse is loaded up. Priscilla mom collects her crying daughter from the driveway, and they go off to a hotel. After hiding out in the bathroom for a while, she sneaks out when her mother has gone to sleep. She somehow walks all the way to Lassie’s new barn and steals her. They disappear out into the night.

The next morning, Duke can’t stand it anymore, and decides to trade his back 100 acres for the horse. Rusty’s father and Duke go to collect the horse and discover it missing. They figure out that Priscilla is also missing, and decide to go look for her. Duke detaches his trailer to leave it at Rusty’s house, and off they go. Rusty watches them leave, and then takes off in what must be his replacement truck, a brand new, fancy navy blue one.

Rusty must have physic powers, because he immediately knows where to go to find Priscilla, and heads to an abandoned barn where Lassie is tied up outside.  Rusty aggressively enters the barn with rope, and tells her he’s going to tie her up. He attacks Priscilla, but luckily Sage comes in to save her. Rusty grabs a pitchfork and ties to kill Sage. This guy is seriously crazy.

This whole situation really seems worth murdering someone over.
This whole situation really seems worth murdering someone over.

Priscilla uses the rope to yank the pitchfork out of Rusty’s hand, and the two boys resume wrestling on the ground. The fathers come in next, and break up the fight. Duke says he’s going to call the cops, but Rusty’s father manages to talk him out of it. The deal of horse for land is still on, and everyone heads home happy.

Now it’s time for the National Rodeo Competition!

Priscilla has fun doing fair type stuff, and she’s sitting at her camper late at night when Savannah comes up to her. Apparently, Rusty was the source of her evil, and now that he’s been sent to military school, she’s a perfectly normal, well adjusted person. She congratulates Priscilla on being better than her, and then skips off, her part in the movie now complete.

Priscilla does her run, and wins the competition with a time of 12.928 seconds. She is the champion!

The movie is finally, mercifully, coming to an end, with everything being wrapped up. Priscilla’s mother isn’t so horrible, everyone is friends now, and then, Sage, the 18 year old leaving to go to vet school, and Priscilla, who is 14, kiss. Whaaaaat.

Even more confusing:

“I totally agree with you. As one of the writers on the original script I can tell you our story was about the relationship between the father and the daughter. There was no budding romance. Only a friendship.”


It was a kiss of friendship. That’s what good friends do, they tongue kiss each other.

What I really want to know… does she continue hunjump when she returns to New England?! Or does she do rodeo there?

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Tommy and the Cool Mule – A Movie Overview

It’s been a while, but I’ve been inspired by yet another bizarre horse movie. I don’t know what the producer’s inspiration for this movie was, but I’m thinking someone just owned a really nice mule, and thought to themselves, “This mule is a born star! It should have its own movie.” Thus, this movie was born.

This movie was on a DVD I bought at tractor supply for $4. $4 for 4 horses movies! What a bargain!

At first I wasn’t going to even post about this movie because it seemed so boring. But it started to bug me more and more as time went on. This certainly isn’t the worst horse movie, and other ones I’ve seen are so much better in their hilarity, but still. Why was this movie made?! Who comes up with these ideas?!

The movie open with a small boy petting a horse. His father, dressed in military fatigues EXCEPT NOT WEARING HIS HAT, approaches. Apparently this man, who has so much military experience he doesn’t know his proper outdoor uniform is being sent away. He gives his son a puppy, who serves almost no purpose the whole movie, and then he’s off to be killed in battle.

Fast forward years later, the small boy has grown into a normal sized boy, and he is the main character Tommy. He’s playing in his front yard when he suddenly notices a giant stock trailer, completely stationary and with men loading horses, literally yards away from him in his barnyard. What I’m saying is that the trailer has clearly been there a while, and Tommy didn’t notice. He runs over to inform the men they can’t take the horses because they are his dad’s horses. The interaction is incredibly awkward, possibly due to bad acting or a bad script, likely both, but the man tells Tommy the horses have been sold, so Tommy runs away, crying for his mom.

Tommy begs his mom to stop the men as they drive away, even pointing to them as they drive in front of them, “That’s them right there!” as though she wouldn’t be able to pick out the only truck and trailer driving away from their barn. I guess their private farm gets a lot of road traffic. Tommy’s mom pulls him back, and says she wants to talk to them. Apparently these horses were too expensive to keep, so she had to sell them. Tommy asks why she didn’t tell him, and she replies she didn’t think he’d be here when they came. That’s a good reason, he never would have noticed the horses missing if he hadn’t seen them physically leaving.

Moments later, they are having a family dinner together, and Tommy opens up a letter he received that day – an invitation to a popular boy’s birthday party. The invitation is a literal letter, on plain paper, in a normal envelope. This irritates me because invitations should be pretty, colorful, or fun, and part of the fun of having a party is sending out nice invitations. I know males are capable of sending out nice invitations (Mark shout-out), so he has no excuse! Everyone expresses their confusion at Tommy being invited, since he’s not friends with the birthday boy.

The next scene starts with two skater looking kids, walking along with their skateboards, discussing what they are getting popular kid Nathan for his birthday. More awkward interactions.

It's like K-Fed had a baby with Justin Beiber.
“Oh-my-gawd, did you get Nathan anything for his birthday yet? I’m totally not sure what to get him!”

To add to the awkwardness, Tommy walks up and they ask him what he’s getting for Nathan. Then, one of them mocks Tommy for his horses being sold, and suggests he give Nathan his saddle since he won’t need it anymore. This scene made me feel like somewhere in America, there’s a little town that follows different rules of society, where horses aren’t hobbies, but more like to an appliance, and if you don’t have a washer, dryer, or a horse, you might as just accept you are the poorest poor person to ever live. “Hah! Look at that moderately sized, well kept house! They don’t even have a horse in their field!”

The scene ends when a young girl walks by flipping her hair like 10 different times. I guess it’s equivalent to the Bend-and-Snap though, because Tommy is mesmerized by her and gazes at her like a love sick puppy. I’m getting the impression he has a crush on her.

With hair flipping skills like that, what 10 year old boy wouldn't?!
With hair flipping skills like that, what 10 year old boy wouldn’t?!

Tommy heads on home, and even though it’s been mere minutes from when he was last talking with the skater boyz, he steps through a fence (clearly a perarranged spot since his dog is waiting for him there) and seems surprised to find the skater boyz and Nathan all riding their horses. They may have been practicing quadrille, as they just keep riding in circles in a very small around pen. Also, they are dressed in their J. Biebs skater outfits while riding, which is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen. Most, if not all, cowboy type boys I knew dressed in those tight wranglers, and just looked like horse people. These boys do not look like horse people.

Despite Tommy’s attempts to flag him down, Nathan completely ignores him, so Tommy moves on. Not sure what the point of that scene was.

To fast forward the plot a bit, it’s revealed that Nathan’s father wants to buy Tommy’s mom’s property to sell to developers, and told his son to invite Tommy to “close the deal” with Tommy’s mom. Not sure the logic behind that, but moving along…

Tommy, I guess now knowing 100% where the cool kids hang out, shows up again to their riding spot. Today, they are practicing running around two barrels. Nathan actually comes up to him this time, and despite his friends telling him Tommy doesn’t have a horse, agrees to give Tommy a change to prove himself. Nathan tells one of his minions to get him a horse, and moments later, Tommy is mounted up.

He is nothing special, as indicated by the hair flipping girl not even looking up at him. The boys watch, and Tommy falls off during a slow turn around a barrel. The boys all laugh, and Tommy runs off, leaving the horse standing there. This is a required scene in all horse movies, so I’m glad they got it out of the way.

Tommy’s mom is very angry at him. As she doctors his head wound (skater boyz don’t wear helmets), she demands to know what he was thinking, saying he hasn’t ridden in months. I don’t know about everyone else’s skill level, but I don’t think “months” is long enough to lose a great deal of skills. I have definitely gone months without riding at various times, and yet when I got on again, I still could ride. Out of shape, yes. But not regressing to a beginner. Maybe if it had been “Years,” I could see her being pissed, but “Months” is still being able to do basic commands, and likely not fall worthy.

Also, their own horses were only sold days ago. I guess it makes sense they’d be sold if no one was even riding them.

Next up is Nathan’s birthday party. Nathan invites Tommy to come play paintball with them, and he agrees. This brings him out to a ramshackle barn, where he hides in a stall with a mule. The mule gets hit by a paintball, and it kicks out, knocking some lumber into Tommy. The colored lights spiral around him, and immediately, the mule starts jive talking. Tommy is astounded, but their very brief conversation is interrupted by another kid coming up to help Tommy back to the party.

Tommy decides he has to know what’s going on, so the next day he returns to visit the mule. The mule talks to him again, and introduces himself as Jackie A. There’s no one being nearby, but the mule asks if they can go someplace else to talk so they are not overheard. It encourages him to ride itself, even though Tommy is weirded out by riding a mule. I’d be weirded out just from an animal telling me to ride itself.

Despite the fact this mule belongs to someone else, Tommy listens to his delusional mind, tacks up the mule and mounts up. The mule is a fan of slap-stick humor and promptly farts. This is a theme repeated throughout the movie – The mule is gassy and gross.

The real owner of the mule, Nathan’s dad, drives up and sees Tommy riding the mule. Instead of being irritated that someone trespassed on his land, and stole/borrowed his mule, he thinks it’s really neat that someone’s riding it, because “no one has ever been able to get near that thing!” How have they been taking care of it if they can’t get near it? Has the poor mule just been locked in a stall with no one caring for it?

Nathan’s dad offers up the mule, and despite Tommy’s mom hating Nathan’s dad, she accepts his offering. Somehow, Tommy’s mom is totally fine with owning/paying for this mule, so she just must have secretly hated her husband’s horses.

Tommy brings his mule back to the secret round pen hideout, where once again, Nathan challenges him to show his skills. Tommy starts running the mule back and forth between two barrels, and even though he looks exactly the same as the last time he rode, I guess by not falling off he greatly impresses them. Not falling off is always an impressive skill.

There are three barrels out there, but everyone is against using them in the traditional pattern. Also, they only use two of them.
There are three barrels out there, but everyone is against using them in the traditional pattern. Also, they only use two of them.

Tommy goes back and forth, seemingly dozens of times, and Nathan’s friends all tell Tommy he was pretty good, but Nathan tells them all to shut up. “It’s a shame you can’t take him to the show next week!” Tommy leaves, downcast, but moments later he regains his bright spirits and tells Jackie A it was awesome.

Moments later, Tommy has apparently abandoned his mule, and is walking down the town street. A man who had been watching his back and forth barrel routine comes rushing up to him, telling him how great he was, and that he should enter the stock show next week. He tells Tommy it’s an open show, so Tommy could enter with a mule, a horse, a donkey, a camel, anything with four legs. I don’t compete in these types of events, but I find this a little bit hard to believe. A camel? Dogs have four legs, could I ride one of those? These open stock show rules confuse and infuriate me!

The show promoter, in what I think is an effort to get more entries to his show, and therefore more money, informs Tommy that there is prize money involved, and that he could even make it on the pro circuit, because, “lots of kids do.” Do kids usual compete on the pro circuit? I was thinking there was a youth circuit, and then a pro circuit, but maybe the lines are blurred?

Nathan and his friends show up at the tail end of the conversation, and Nathan becomes enraged. HE was going to be the one on the youth pro circuit! Tommy is stealing all his glory and/or money!

The camera follows Tommy as he continues his walk, and along the way, somehow, he found his dog and is walking him. He has a brief run-in with hair flipping girl, who promptly makes an excuse and leaves, and then Tommy continues, running into Nathan coming up the block.

Time must work differently in this town. I’m not sure how Nathan, who was with him a block earlier, somehow warped up another block, unless he backtracked, went down a block, and then took the long route to get ahead of Tommy. He would have had to do it at a run to get there in time. Nathan really is skilled, no wonder he’s so popular!

Nathan has come up with some kind of plan to thwart Tommy, and challenges him to meet up and compete with him. Tommy agrees, and then goes home to discuss with Jackie A. Jackie tells him he’ll take care of it, but won’t reveal his plans, just laughs. Every time he laughs or talks, the camera zooms in on his mouth. It looks like they filmed the mule opening his mouth a lot, and then made up the dialogue afterward. Lots of long, draw out words that made no sense in the dialogue when the mule yawned.

He might as well be talking to him through a slot in a door.
He also laughs excessively. The majority of their conversations is Jackie A laughing.

Additionally, Tommy leaves Jackie A tacked up nearly all the time, but Jackie A is so annoying, I feel like he deserves it.

The next day, Tommy is filled with doubt and delays leaving. He frets about it for at least minutes, but eventually he decides to do it. Jackie throws in a, “I pity the foo’ that gets in our way!” as they swagger out of the barn.

Meanwhile, Tommy’s mom is at home when she hears a knock at the door. She thinks it’s Nathan’s annoying father, so she fills up so water and goes to the door with it. The door is made out of glass, so she can completely see though it, but she somehow misses that it’s a completely different man, and she opens the door and throws the water on him. He accepts her apology and reveals he’s actually the show promoter who thinks Tommy is the greatest. He asks her to come step out to his car to look at some paper, which doesn’t seem like he’s luring her out to his car to kidnap her at all. It’s totally normal to bring papers to show someone, but then not bring them up to the door with you, and instead expect the person to walk out to your car with you.

Tommy shows up to his challenge, and Nathan reveals that it will be a race down the trail, and the fastest one wins. If he wins, Nathan will win Tommy’s saddle, and if Tommy wins, he gets to keep the mule – the mule he already owns, and therefore does not need to win. He even points this out, but Nathan just says, “We’ll see.” Assuming Nathan’s empty threat of somehow repossessing the mule could actually happen in this town, this really seems like a lose-lose situation for Tommy. He’s gain nothing new, and instead just get the chance to lose everything. Why would he even bother to accept this challenge?

Against all logic, he accepts. Nathan rides first, taking off at a gansta lean.

He probably also installed hydraulics on the front end.
He probably also installed hydraulics on the front end.

The trail ends up not being a trail at all, and instead being looping through all three barrels, and coming back around. Nathan completes it in 12 seconds. Tommy does his round, and also completes it in 12 seconds. Nathan tells him he only gets to keep his mule, “for now,” therefore making this whole challenge pointless, because he can’t even accept the results.

Nathan leaves, and Nathan’s friends tell Tommy he did great. Tommy asks one of them, “One does he hate me so much?” and the friend replies, “He hates everyone.” How does this kid have friends then? Why would people hang out with someone who hates them?!

Nathan talks to his dad, and tells him he think he heard the mule talk. Which makes no sense at all, Tommy was the one knocked on the head, why would anyone else hear the mule talk? But rather than telling him he’s crazy, Nathan’s dad agrees that Tommy and the mule need to be separated.

In a scene that serves no purpose at all, Jackie A requests that Tommy get him bling if they win the competition.

Words fail me.
Words fail me.

I think they must have just really wanted to dress up this mule.

Quaker Oat Mule
Quaker Oat Mule

Poor, tolerant mule.

Tommy and Jackie prep for the stock show by taking one trail ride. Then Jackie declares he’s tired and wants to rest, but don’t worry, he is completely ready. Tommy heads on home, and lays on the couch to watch TV. With preparation like that, I feel like he has a really great chance to win! After all, most people that win at shows are the ones who have done nothing all year, and then the day before ride for just a few minutes.

He takes a nap on the couch while his mom and sister head out to the dance, leaving him all alone.While he’s napping, a horse trailer pulls up. Despite Nathan’s dad saying no one else was able to get near the mule, Nathan easily walks up to the mule and takes it to the trailer. Tommy’s dog has its one role in the plot and follows the trailer. I guess in this town, stealing other people’s livestock is not a crime, or perhaps the punishment is just a slap on the wrist, so it’s totally worth it just to win the local stock show.

Tommy oversleeps the next morning, and wakes up to no dog or mule. But this conflict is resolved extremely quickly as the dog shows up, and leads Tommy to the mule. Tommy retrieves his mom, and they pick up the mule. Problem solved. Tommy’s dog can now retire from the movie.

They have less than an hour to Tommy’s competitions, so they hurry off, but they end up stuck in traffic leading to the parking lot of the event. Tommy’s mom suggests that maybe he will be called last. This is probably true, since we find out later he hasn’t even entered yet, so I’m guessing they can’t call him if they don’t know he’s going to enter. That will work out well for Tommy.

While they sit in traffic, the rules of this event are explained to the crowd. This is the “Open Junior Ranch Class”. Once again, the show promoter informs everyone that the class is not limited to horses, and camels and cows could compete too. I have never seen any show make such a big deal about non-horse equines entering shows. I’ve seen donkeys and mules at shows, but it has never needed to be broadcast to the audience. It’s just assumed that people will get that its fine, or they can come ask about it if they are wondering.

Continuing on with the rules: They will receive points based on time, and on animal performance during a series of obstacles. The riders will start in the arena, and then leave to go to an adjacent wooded area where there are trail obstacles. The arena is surprisingly full of spectators, considering they will be able to see none of the actual event.

They must be content with the thought that somewhere, riders are having fun doing a challenging course.
It’s hard enough to get spectators to an equestrian event, why must you bring them here to then show them nothing?!

The event is starting, and Tommy and his mom are still in traffic, so Tommy’s mom decides they are just going to unload in traffic. Everyone honks at them as they unload, and then Tommy rushes off, causing us to see that this traffic jam is two lanes wide, and then there’s a huge open parking lot where no one is driving. I guess everyone really wants front row parking. He makes it to check in just in time, and is told he’s going last. Things sure do work out perfectly for Tommy!

Various riders are shown going through the course, and I did not see an actual obstacle. The judges are stationed at seemingly random spots, so I can only imagine that is where the obstacles are. Who would have thought that making a right turn was an obstacle?! Or, going up a minor hill?

Tommy and Jackie get to learn about hurry up and wait, as they now have to sit around to wait their turn. While they’re waiting, Jackie tells Tommy how he needs to ride him through the course, which includes instructions such as, “pull up your legs and lean into the turn.” Nathan, peeks over the top of the stall and sees them talking, his rage boiling over. He “knew there was something weird about that mule!” Aside from the talking, it seems like a pretty normal animal, so I think Nathan’s just looking for reasons to hate it.

It still makes no sense to me how Nathan is able to hear the mule when Tommy is the one who got knocked on the head.

Nathan, testosterone pumping from his anger over the mule, does his course, and earns the highest score of the day. The crowd goes wild, with the exception of Tommy’s family, who can’t even be bothered to clap politely, and instead, give each other incredulous looks. What kind of moral lessons are you teaching movie? Not even common sportsmanship?!

The announcer calls for Tommy, and gives him an introduction showing his clear bias towards him. The show announcer might as well just give the prize to Tommy, since he clearly loves him so much already. I feel bad for the competitors, who are apparently a bunch of losers who can’t ride anywhere as well as Tommy, the guy who just started riding again after “months”, and them likely been working with their own horses for months or years.

As Tommy hurries to get going, he gets whacked on the head by a random man walking by with lumber, a common thing at horse shows. He immediately loses his ability to talk to Jackie, and when he enters the arena, freezes up and does nothing. Cue the crowd’s laughter as everyone takes that moment to realize that mules are stubborn.

Finally, Tommy gives him a big kick, and Jackie starts moving. The announcer decides that with one person left, this is an ideal time to remind everyone of the rules, and goes through them again. Then Tommy heads out. Unlike the other competitors, who are apparently uninteresting, the announcer gives a play by play of Tommy out on course. At least this lets me know some of the actual obstacles: a hill, vague, difficult terrain, thick brush, and a (dry) creek crossing.

The score comes in, and once again, Nathan and Tommy are tied. Oh wait, they aren’t, the announcer just didn’t calculate the scores fast enough. No need to worry, Tommy is the winner! And he set the new course record! (quite a feat, since they said the course was new this year, and therefore logically there is no best score for it until this event).

They all gather in the middle of the arena for an award ceremony. Right as Tommy is about the receive a check, Nathan cuts in to announce there’s something up with the mule.

"There's witchcraft afoot!"
“There’s witchcraft afoot!”

Not even kidding, Nathan accuses Tommy of witchcraft, and says the mule talks. I don’t know why he thought this would go over well. I don’t think it’s ever been well received to burst into any gathering and accuse someone of casting spells (in modern society, anyway. He probably could have gotten away with this several hundred years ago).

"I beseech thou for hither mule dost have a spell cast upon ye!"
“I beseech thou for hither mule dost have a spell cast upon ye!”

And then Tommy would be burned at the stake, and the world would be safe from such evils as a talking mule.

But, obviously, Nathan’s accusation of Tommy’s evil is ignored, and everyone thinks he’s crazy. Tommy’s mom decides that the best thing to break the ice is to announce a party at her house. She tells Nathan to tell his dad she’ll be paying off the bank now. If the measly amount won at a junior local rodeo is what prevents foreclosure, I’m wondering both how she’s managed to keep her family afloat at all. I bet the money Tommy just made will pay for the party she just announced, and that’s about it. How she’s going to get the money to make next month’s mortgage payment? As far as I can tell, she doesn’t even have a job. Thank goodness her under-14 son is willing to step up and earn the family some money.

Luckily, this exceedingly long movie is finally coming to an end. In the next scene, they discover that Nathan’s father has been stuck in their bathroom for the entire duration of the stock show. Nathan’s dad goes back to his house and talks to his son. Nathan tries to tell his dad that the mule is bewitched, too. I think he’s going to have to lose that thought unless he wants to be known as the local crazy person.

It even ends extra well for Tommy, as hair flipping girl comes up to talk to him. She asks for his picture, and then invites him to go ride with her. It’s nice he’s finally hitting it off with the ladies.

And finally, to wrap is all up, turns out the mule’s talking doesn’t have anything to do with the bonks on the head. He just talks in general, which is why Nathan could hear him talk. It was just a coincidence he choose to talk after the bonk on the head, and he purposely didn’t speak after the second to show Tommy he can do it all on his own. I guess that’s a nice lesson for Tommy.

Thus ends yet another terrible horse movie. I watched it, so you don’t have to.

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Effol and Effax Product Reviews

I was given a whole sackful of Effol and Effax products at the Boyd Martin clinic I attended. Up until I started writing this, I thought it was all the same brand name, despite the fact that I kept calling it by whatever product I was holding at the time (I was wondering why I seemed to keep getting the name wrong), but apparently it is two different ones. But since their websites look identical, and they have the same mailing address, I’m going to assume they are from the same parent company. But just to be doubly sure, I checked the information that came with it, and they are the same company. Effax is a line of leather care products by Effol. (I’m sure you are all greatly concerned by these details.)


I have never used any of these products, so what better time to test them all out! Here goes…

Effax Leather-Combi

These two are sharing a picture. Product is on the right.

My bridle was due for a good cleaning, so I brought out the Leather-Combi. Not that I usually judge my leather care products by smell, but this stuff smells kind of like nail polish remover. It also looks like nail polish remover – It’s a thin, clear liquid, basically water. Not what I’m used to in a leather cleaning product, I usually use a soap bar, or sometimes a cream. But, I poured it on my sponge and got to work. It lathered up more than I expected, and I got used to the smell after a while. Here are the results:

effax leather combi
The leather cleaner does not cause bizarre leather stretching. Somehow I only got the three after pictures, so I had to stretch them to make them fit in the picture. It was an unhappy moment in picture editing.

It was very clean, and not at all greasy. And then once it was completely dry, it was really, really smooth. I was enjoying just touching the leather afterward. Nice, smoooooth leather. It seemed like it did its job, plus if I kept rubbing it, it became shinier. But for the real shine…

Effax Leather-Balm

These two are sharing a picture. This time, left side.

This product looked like a proper leather cleaner. It is a jar of a soap-like substance, and it smells appropriately. The catalog describes it as containing a combination of lanolin, avocado oil and beeswax, leaving leather with a brilliant shine and giving it a special smell. Let’s check out the results!

effax resview

I liked it. I can understand why it’s a best seller, and it does give a gorgeous shine. I don’t think the pictures justify it. It made my bridle so beautiful! It looked better than it had looked new. I had a really good shine on there from rubbing it. I’m now a believer – I must have this product for ever and ever. Luckily, even though I was only given a sample size, it took such a tiny amount to shine up my bridle, this is going to last me a long time.

effax review
I’m a little obsessed with my super clean bridle now.

I am really loving the leather care products this company makes, and I think I’ll keep on buying them.

Effax Boot-Miracle

boot cleaner review

This product is listed as “New” in the catalog, and claims to clean synthetic, patent leather and rubber surfaces, removing stubborn dirt and making them dirt repellent. It says it will make patent leather look like new. This immediately makes me want to test my patent leather dressage bridle, but the product says it’s for boots, and I don’t want to be breaking any rules.

So instead, I pulled out my pair of very old, dirty tall boots that I haven’t wore in years. There was a moment when the spray bottle design had me confused, and I almost sprayed myself. But luckily, I figured it out and pointed it at the boots instead. It’s an interesting way to class up the standard spray bottle!

If I thought the other cleaner smelled like nail polish remover, it had nothing on this product. This smelled so awful, I was wondering if I should put on a face mask. My dog gave me a disgusted look and moved away. Every time I squirted more, I had to hold my breath until it the droplets all settled.

Let’s see how it did!

boot cleaner review
Effax Boot Miracle review

It took a lot of scrubbing to clean up those boots, and they still have bits of dirt stuck to them. I’m undecided on this product. The smell is terrible, and there’s likely other products out there that will do the same or better job without making me want a face mask. But, it’s possible if I’d spent more time shining, I could have gotten a better shine.

Sidenote – If anyone wants a pair of recently cleaned Ariat tall boots, size 8.5 full calf, used for about 6 months, 5 years old, let me know and they can be yours.

Effol Riders’ Body Lotion

effol review

I love lotion, as I can’t stand to have dry skin. I’m always pleased when I get more lotion! So I smeared this right on. Immediately, it felt like I’d been swimming in the ocean, and hadn’t rinsed off. It says it includes sea salt in the ingredients, and that seems to be true. However, I don’t like the feeling of going around all day like I’d been swimming in the ocean. It’s not a moisturizing feeling, it’s a dry feeling.

Despite my great urge to immediately shower, I held out, since I literally showered before putting this on. After a few minutes I forgot about it, and was wandering around my house. Then I realized I could smell dog pee in my house, so I began seeking the source. After several minutes of making passive aggressive comments at the dogs and searching, I realized it wasn’t the dogs, it was this lotion.

But in the lotion’s defense, when I told Dave, he gave it a sniff and said it smelled fine to him. But still… I haven’t used it since, and I’m never using it again.

Effol Riders’ Body Wash

This one is the total opposite of above. It smells amazing! There’s no picture because it now lives in my shower. I’m not one of those people that can describe smells, so you’ll just have to find a bottle, and take a sniff. I think you’ll like it!

Effol White Star Spray Shampoo

effol review

This product is for cleaning up those white areas. Due to the container, I thought it was a dry shampoo, and was pretty excited about easy dry cleaning, but then I realized it’s nearly shampoo of the normal variety. The directions say to spray on a “damp coat”. I guess that works better, since I don’t have hot water in the barn. My initial thought of cleaning Vintage was discarded, since she’s an entire horse, and I went for something much, much easier. The only spot of chrome that any of my horses have: Pony Man’s tiny white sockette.

sock whitener
I always seem to have the plain colored horses. For me, this spot of white is practically extravagant! (with the exception of Vintage I suppose…)

This is literally the first time I have scrubbed off this tiny sock. He gets baths, but I’ve never given it much attention. Now, it is time to make it the whitest it can be.

When I started scrubbing, Pony Man froze in fear, and his little eyes bugged out of his head. It might be cruel, but since he’s so small, his fear was hilarious and kind of adorable. While he was frozen, I could still continue washing him, so I persisted, and he eventually realized I was not about to murder him.

The soap foams up purple, and I could see all the dirt coming up, and his little sock getting whiter. Let’s see the final result!

cleaned sock

Not too shabby! It was so white, I could see the pink skin underneath, and it really didn’t take much scrubbing at all. I like this product!

Effol SuperStar-Shine

effol review

I barely ever use shine products because I don’t like how they make my horse’s coat dry afterward. Plus, I’m not sure they really do all that much. But Pony Man was bravely volunteered to test this product out.

The Before. Please feel free to ignore the vague grayish blob.
The Before, with no grooming done at all. Please feel free to ignore the vague grayish blob.

I groomed him up, using lots and lots of elbow grease. He was about as clean as I could get him without giving him an actual bath. Again, too cold for that currently. Then I sprayed one side of him with the shiner. Then I did my best to set him up similarly on both side to show off the shine. Now, you tell me, which side is shinier?



I’ll give you a few moments to compare…

And the sprayed side is….

Side A!

Is that surprising to you, or what you expected?

Looking at the photos now though, I feel like it’s more apparent than it was when I was taking the photos. At that time, there really didn’t appear to be any difference between the two sides. But I guess it was more subtle, and I can tell now there’s a more defined sheen on his sprayed side, and his coat color seems richer.

And the best part – I keep checking for dry skin, and a few days later, he was still slick, with no dandruff. I really like that!

Effol Mouth Butter

effol review

This product is used to make the bit feel nicer in the horse’s mouth, protect a sensitive mouth, and nourish the tender corners. It also claims to increase riding quality by 75%. I’m not quite sure how it’s possible to measure such a thing, but I decided to try it anyway.

Berry seemed pretty happy with it. She rode nicely, quietly, and was a good, good girl. Then the next two times, when I rode without it, she became a crazy witch. Coincidence?!

There were a few more products in the sack, but I am still undecided on them. One is a wound spray, but my horses have no wounds to test it on. Effol Summer Hoof-Gel is another, and it looks like it will be nice to use. I’m still trying to figure out how to dethrone the abscess queen, so if this ends up being the answer, I’ll mention it later on in the summer. The catalog says it’s ideal for horses with hard to normal hooves, ensuring elasticity of the hoof, and preventing it from becoming brittle.

But looking through the catalog, there are a few more products I’d like to try. One is Effol Winter-Hoof-Gel, which is guaranteed to prevent damp hooves in winter. After having Berry’s hoof literally fall apart this past winter, I’m eager for a product that will keep them dry.

Are you a fan of any of these products? 

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Unrelenting by George Morris

George Morris

If you are at all serious about jumping, or possibly even riding a horse, you know who George Morris is. He is impacted hunter/jumper riding in such a monumental way, it’s impossible not to know who he is. One of my very first books on riding was George Morris’s Hunter Seat Equitation.

If you ever wondered how George Morris became George Morris, here’s the answer, in the form of 400+ pages.

I’m sure I will be tarred and feathered for saying this, but at first, I didn’t like this book. It was an explosion of names, and hard to read. I forced myself to keep reading it, because it’s George Morris after all, but I was having difficulty getting into it. In the end, I’m glad I did, but those early chapters were tough.

It is not a novel, and I think part of my issue with this book is that I usually read novels, and therefore expected that format. It’s written exactly like how life really is, full of experiences, not all of which are remotely related to each other. There’s no overarching story line to follow, there’s no building up of the story, and no climax. There was no point where he said his overall goal was to do “x”. Granted, when you’ve accomplished as much as what he’s done, perhaps there’s nothing to aspire to. But it felt kind of like he was just bumbling along, with everyone in his life giving him exactly what he needed or wanted, with no struggle at all.

The book is divided into sections by the decade, and each one is written like a series of anecdotes. Very short stories, a paragraph long, and then right into the next anecdote. The result is very jarring to read, and it ends up being a blur of names, places, and horses. One paragraph he’ll say he rides at a certain barn, and then next one, he just got a puppy at a show, and the next one, he’s partying in New York. There’s no distinct story line, motive, or lesson to each chapter, no climax, just, “here’s what happened. Then this happened. Then this happened.”

Still, the tidbits about lifestyle in the 50’s was really interesting to hear about. Lessons were only $3, and they took place outside the ring, learning while riding around the countryside, which of course, still existed, with lots of woods, fields and trails. Horses were a social lifestyle of time, along with hunt clubs and balls, and his family was extremely supportive of his riding career.

At one point, he was talking about deciding what to do with his life, and he sounded just as lost as some young adults these days. He eventually picked horses, although it seemed as though he mainly interested in making a career with horses because he had no skills in anything else. Although he did attend a theater school for two years, which I did not know.

“Gordon Wright used to say that my stage fright worked for me. For some riders, it works against them. It can prove to big advantage learning to use your nerves to make you sharper and more alert, rather than letting them paralyze you.”

George Morris was given many talented horses to ride, and it was interesting to hear about how he worked with their personalities, not against them. He even recounts when he used a very heavy handed with a sensitive horse, and the horse was never the same again with him. He learned a lesson that he had to adapt to the horse, and not change up the ride.

His early life sounds a lot like many young people’s lives. He describes relationships, drugs, partying, and how it related to his horses. Sometimes, it’s almost surprising that he accomplished the amount he did, since it seemed like he really liked his partying.

“…Years later, I taught a clinic at her farm in Tennessee and it was like Old MacDonald’s with farm animals everywhere; I had to chase chickens out of the ring during the clinic!”

I felt like the book got more interesting in the 70’s decade. It seemed easier to read, and I think it helped that I saw familiar names. The anecdotes were still there, but they seemed to flow into each other better. It was also fascinating to read about the changes to jumping courses, and how it created change throughout the way everything was done.

“The horse show schedule wasn’t as grueling as it is today, with more time for learning and working with horses at home. When we did show, it was extremely competitive with hardly any beginner classes. Hunters still galloped over big, outside courses with fixed natural obstacles. That training was combined with the technical advancements seen in the sixties – riders were expected to be more proficient with dressage flatwork and to relate distances and demonstrate flying lead changes on course.”

The 70’s also was the era George Morris “grew up”, so to speak, and found a home base. Perhaps with him not running a muck anymore, it centered this book a bit. At this point, I was unable to put the book down.

He taught throughout his whole life, and there’s lots of blurbs from riders he developed on their experiences with him. Some brief encounters, other lifelong friends, they all share what riding and life lessons he helped them learn. Other times, they share a funny bit of gossip.

“…George was very central to women excelling in the sport of show jumping during a time when women were still redefining their role in our country.”

-Armand Leone

Reading about his part in changing riding technique world wide is awe inspiring. I did not realize his teaching had made such serious impact on the global equestrian world. It’s incredible the amount of change one man brought about. He describes the American’s taking European show jumping by storm, and their shock at being beaten by them.

“The Europeans, who once had laughed at us, were suddenly on their heels trying to catch up!”

He has an obvious pride in his work, and in American’s efforts in global equestrian competition in past years. It made me want to sit up straighter, and ride better. Alas, I’m not at any high level, so in the end, my American pride will stay small.

I found the most intriguing parts of the books where the ones describing the personalities of the high level horses, and the riders. I was surprised that he thinks a horse that’s a chicken is actually a better jumper than a brave one, but it does make sense. A chicken jumper is going to be more careful not to touch the jumps. With that kind of personality though, the rider 100% needs to be the brave and confident leader. Professionals had to be very careful about their rides, because the horses are so sensitive or special needs. It requires finesse that can only be gained through the amount of hours they put in. Now I understand better why some horses would be called a “Professional’s” horse, vs. an amateurs.

Many sections of just photos.
Many sections of just photos.

This isn’t a book about training techniques (except for those mentions of old timey poling…) or how to be a better rider. But I was getting one message loud and clear. Being a good rider takes a mindset. It’s about being brave, thinking quick, and pushing through fear. Talent is important, but the most important thing is putting in the hard work. Which means, ride way, way more.

Overall, I really liked this book. As I said, it was difficult to get into, but it might flow better with a second read. I do think they should have choose a different format for the overall story. Chronological does make sense, but it would make sense to further divide into shows, or clinics, or horses. Just something so it’s not a huge mismatch of everything together, and there’s really no way to tell which parts were more meaningful. Because the way it is now, there’s no sense that him buying a horse in Virginia is more or less important than him going to the Olympics, or getting a drink in New York.

I still think it’s great that GM’s life was finally written down for the rest of us. I think anyone who has any ambition to accomplish anything close to what he did will appreciate knowing how he got there. Since the book goes into so much detail about hunters, jumpers, and equitation, it could also be considered a history of how those classes have developed over the last 50 years, as he talks a lot about the changes to the courses, formats and styles. It’s like a history of GM and jumping rolled together.

It does end on a bit of a sad note. After all of this, what is there left for GM to do? Hopefully he will continuing clinicing for a long time to come, and I’ll be able to squeeze in there next time he comes around. One of the things I really liked in interviews in the book, people described him being equally willing to help out beginners and experts. Anyone who puts in the hard work, he will help.

But know he is disappointed that the American’s haven’t kept up with their domination in global show jumping. It ends as almost a call to action – American showjumpers, and American horse owners, come together to show for America, like how it used to be. I wish I could help George Morris, but my Berry is not a talented jumper, nor am I. But you have inspired me to ride. Maybe if I get my butt in gear, I can start accomplishing some cool things like you.

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