Monday, August 25, 2014

First Novice Wrap Up and Reflection

Z officially has her first Novice under her belt, adding to her flawless show jumping record and adding to her near flawless cross country record.
We have essentially been doing a complete overhaul of the stang's dressage this past week, so I kind of knew what to expect when we went in the ring. She did just about as great as we though she would, ending up with a 36 and change. Definitely not bad, since we've been working so incredibly hard all week on keeping her more consistent and forward into the bridle. I am so pumped to really get our twinkle toes shining.
Jumping is definitely Z's strong suit, but she has become significantly more opinionated in recent weeks about how she thinks she should jump. Typical mare. :) Our warm up was not really what I wanted, but since I got down to warm up so early, I got the chance to give her about a ten minute break before popping over a few more warm ups and then going into the ring. As long as I kept her in front of my leg, I was able to have a near foot perfect stadium round. She was completely clear, we just have to continue to work on rideability. She did so excellent. I always try to let her see any jumps that look scary, are part of a combination, or have strange lines to them. This course had two lines that I was very worried about because they had shorter approaches and the ground was a bit uneven and slippery.
After stadium I just got that totally unbelievable adrenaline rush that comes with preparing to go cross country. And let me just say, my girl rocked it. I really let her gallop since the course was fairly spread out. We don't have a lot of hilly terrain to consistently ride over, so this was a good opportunity to feel her out over hills. By the second big downhill gallop, she was rocking it. It's unbelievable to ride a horse and physically feel her figuring things out in each phase. She is also the only horse I've ever taken to a show that doesn't really care where she is. She's the exact same horse on and off property.
I want to send a huge thank you to my incredible trainer, Desiree Bene, and Rachael Stillwell for giving me more help and opportunities this year than I ever thought possible. I may not have done a whole lot of shows this year, but I've felt more prepared than ever before and have had more fun than ever before, thanks to you guys. :)
The plan moving forward is to possibly hit another unrecognized Novice and then do the recognized Novice at Radnor in October. Wish us luck!

Monday, August 4, 2014

REVIEW: One K Defender Pro Suede ad Leather Helmet

(Scroll Down for a quickie review)
So aside from neglecting the blog, I've been crazy busy with Z, clients' horses and teaching. In the midst of that, I've left my helmet at various farms roughly a million times. I try not to use my skull cap in the summer since it has ZERO ventilation and already may or may not smell like something died in it (sorry, Dan Clasing for letting you wear it...) So I have been using my inexpensive IRH helmet, which also has no ventilation, but is newer and therefore smells significantly better. I had been planning on purchasing an actual replacement for my old dressage helmet for some time, but was waiting for a great deal, as "new" mustang still means new items for her during this first year. At the Maryland Horse Expo this past Spring, I was able to try on the One K helmet with the Swarovski crystals because, let's be real, I can't get enough of bling. On everything. I mean everything. Anyway, while I knew I wasn't able to buy one that day, I did fall in love with the fit, though with my big head, they didn't have the XL there. The Large still fit quite well, but they come with lots of padding (as I will delve into later), so I at least came away with a better idea of sizing. just held their 5th Annual International Helmet Awareness Day a few weeks back, so most tack stores held great sales on helmets., a personal favorite of mine, had every Charles Owen under the sun on sale, and they had a few less expensive options (which I happily recommended to most of my lesson students) along with the Defender Pro Suede helmet. I literally squealed at the opportunity to get my favorite helmet for roughly $150 off.

Now, my specific needs in this helmet were, first and foremost, a proper and comfortable fit. Then, I wanted to be able to jump with a vest on without having the helmet pushed down over my eyes over every jump. I also wanted to be comfortable putting my hair into the helmet and stay (relatively) cool while riding. This helmet WAY exceeded my expectations in every aspect. It comes with incredibly fluffy padding, which really helps those like me with hard to fit heads. My head is long front-to-back, but short side-to-side, so the padding is breaking in just how I need it. It was even a bit tight the first few days, but now it fits like a glove. Before writing a rave review, I wanted to do plenty of jumping with and without a vest, and I'm pleased to report that the helmet doesn't move! It doesn't squeeze your head like a juicer, it just molds perfectly to your shape.

As far as looks go, this helmet is simply gorgeous.Often because I have to buy such a large size, the helmet ends up looking like a mushroom on my head. So while, yes, this helmet is awful large in size, it doesn't feel like it looks incredibly huge. The vents are placed in classy, understated ways on the helmet that enhance, rather than hinder, the overall aesthetic. It keeps up with the more modern fashion of dressage and jumping purposed helmets without overdoing anything.

Specs: There are several styles of the Defender Pro (the helmet with the retractable Sun Shield as I have).
The matte style comes in black only and goes for $279.95 and comes in S-XXL.
The gloss finish also only comes in black and has sizes from M-XL and costs the same.
The suede finish comes in navy (M-XL), black with silver matte vents (S-XXL), and black with black matte vents (S-XXL) and costs $299.95
Finally, the suede and leather finish comes in black (my helmet) and navy (both M-XL) and costs $329.95.
(All pictures courtesy

Quickie review: This helmet rivals many of the (in my opinion) overpriced helmets on the market. The company offers other styles without the Sun Shield at an even more budget-friendly, competitive price. I am not surprised to see them popping up more and more at various shows. They are incredibly comfortable and feel sturdy and protective, without sacrificing impeccable style. I definitely recommend these to anyone showing at any level. The generalized sizing is also helpful since the helmets are not carried in every tack store as of yet. You all know how much I emphasize safety when riding, but I also know style is so important to so many riders. This helmet will definitely keep you comfy while getting noticed anywhere and everywhere. No compromising comfort or style for safety.