Monday, March 28, 2011

Swarovskis Are a Girl's Best Friend...

There are 476 gen-u-ine Swarovski Crystals in that pile. The colors are R to L on the loose ones: Jet, Dorado, Crystal Copper, and Light Colorado Topaz. You can also some fabric and copper paint.... I wonder what that could be for?

Friday, March 25, 2011

'Cause I'm a Dentist! And a Success!

As you may remember, one of the possible causes for Junior's slight weight loss over the winter was a need for a tooth float. His teeth may have been making it difficult for him to properly chew and therefore digest his food. Today we finally had that done and the visit from the Equine Dentist came with a surprise...

Do you know what that is? I sure wouldn't have known, and I'm kinda grossed out that it's sitting on my glove. It's a tiny wolf tooth that had not yet been removed. He had a scar from where the other one had been taken out, but this one had not come in all the way and was just sitting there right under the skin, right where bits go. This may partially explain his tendency to become a giraffe when initially asked to take contact. Or it may not really have bothered him, but the Dentist advised removal and it came out quickly and easily. It may have been there for years, or who knows. But it's out now. I felt less sympathetic about putting him through all of this today because I myself had a root canal on Tuesday. I feel your pain, buddy.

There he is in the clamp getting the points filed down. I was able to feel his pointy teeth before the filing and then the smoother teeth after the procedure. They were not terrible but they did need to be done.

The other informative part of the visit was the explanation of what's going on with Junior's middle incisors. His bout of cribbing (of which there has been zero evidence of since we've moved, btw) has caused damage to his teeth and his left one is actually dead and decaying. The right is a little better off, but not much.

Now you can see in these photos, first from the first winter I had him, which was before he started the cribbing, that the middle incisors are shorter than the others. Then on the right is from this winter post-cribbing. The Dentist explained something about how they once were growing differently than the others and so there was some inconsistent wear. The combination of that and the cribbing caused the teeth to essentially die. He showed me how he could stick a needle up inside the right one and there was no reaction from Junebug so we know the tooth is dead. For the time being there is nothing to be done. He doesn't seem to show any discomfort from it and there is no swelling or other evidence of a root abscess, but he told me what to look for so we can take care of it if it happens. Unfortunately, eventually the teeth might become abscessed or fractured and need to be removed.

Aside from the now increased guilt I feel for ever putting him in a situation that caused him to crib, can you just imagine how much it will add to his personality when he is missing his two front teeth?!?!?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Film Review - International Velvet

How interesting that Elizabeth Taylor passes away on the day I meant to post my review of this film. Though Liz passed up the opportunity to reprise her role for the sequel, she was quite famous among us horse crazy girls due to her role as Velvet Brown in National Velvet.

I recently acquired access to Netflix and I have been very excited about the volume of instant play movies. Yes, I'm still leaving the house daily, but I did have a root canal yesterday and have had an annoying sore throat since Friday so I've been allowing myself a little couch time.

I noticed the 1978 film of "International Velvet" and thought, oh, why not. I had no idea it would be such a good film. I expected one of those predictable sequels that follows the same formula as the original, usually lacks stars, and is generally melodramatic and sappy. I thought I would watch it purely for the unrealistic but heart squeezing moments that all horse/girl films manage to possess and this girl has enough horse in her to still enjoy. Though it did deliver on the sappy part and yes, I found myself crying more than once, I was impressed. Now it did follow the same "troubled girl is saved by horses - well, "A" horse which she then trains and then wins huge competition" formula but the depth of characters, the subplots, and the human emotion really thickened the deal. The Characters were all much more layered and unpredictable than I expected. They all seemed much more real than your average sequal. And how can you go wrong with Anthony Hopkins playing the tough but honest riding coach?

As a special bonus there are lots of scenes of Eventing just for the sake of showing the sport. Not sure how they were all filmed, and one "fall" was clearly planned, but many were just real eventers taking real obstacles. The film pretends to be the Olympic games so it shows some rivalry of the US and British teams. The commentary during the competitions was very interesting since it was filmed over 30 years ago and many things, including the Olympics have changed. There is one line where Hopkins says "They don't allow cowboys in the Olympics, you know" but now the DO!

I was also intrigued by the lat 70's equestrian fashion. One or two of my readers may well remember sporting the styles immortalized in this film. Seeing this movie version of how they transported horses in an airplane was also rather fascinating. I don't believe they do it like that anymore...

In conclusion, I highly recommend the film. And if not for the complex characters and fine acting, then watch it just to see the scene where the girl and the horse run towards each other in the field in mutual joy and anticipation of their future life together. If that doesn't make you fuzzy inside then you must be a heartless neanderthal.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

(Closer to) Designs for 2011

First, it seems from the comments that some readers want to reassure me that I don't have to go through all this work and that the clothes don't have to be that fancy for the level I show. To those people I first want to remind them that I show in Central Ohio where I show against folks who show at the QH Congress. I have noticed it's a bit swankier here. Then I also want to say, "Yes, you are absolutely right. BUT my day job is a Costume Designer for theatre. This is what I do. Every year I spend thousands and thousands of other people's money and spend countless hours sketching and selecting fabrics for outfits I will never get to wear. My job is to make other people feel fabulous and I really do love it, but this is the rare occasion I get to try to make myself feel fabulous."

That being said, I have been working on the Show outfit designs. I've considered lots of options and I am still considering several more. I need to make myself a deadline and go with it. In my professional life someone else makes the deadlines and I just follow them. Considering it's only 6.5 weeks until our first show of the season the deadline is... um...NOW. Or at least I should get the materials ordered. But y'all's comments were so helpful and inspiring that I haven't really come to a decision. I'd really like to find some show clothes that can last me a few seasons, but I've just not been completely satisfied with the past 2 year's outfits. I am happy with the color choices from last year even though it wasn't at all what I thought I wanted.

I admit I've considered going off-the-rack *GASP* I know, you're speechless, right? A few mouse clicks is SOOO much less work than fabric hunting and sewing...And I found two tunics from Hobby Horse that I kinda like, the Santana in Gold, and the Allegro in Copper:

They're simpler than what I'm planning but I like them. I like the Allegro better, but it's the more pricey one at $219. I could make something SOOO much more custom/detailed/impressive for around half that price, or I could make one that simple for less than a third of the price. Plus I really CANNOT be in the ring with someone else wearing the same outfit. Every single western outfit I've had (aside from the first vest I only made alterations to) has been custom. I can't go back now, not when I have the skills and technology to do this.

I've also considered utilizing the new DIY Janie Tunic from Hobby Horse. It's not up on their website yet but here is a screenshot of the digital catalog page:

Not a bad idea at all! Go HH! I've never bought a top from them but I have their pants and chaps and think the chaps are the bees knees. But I'm afraid I won't get as good of a fit that I can do on my own, and I'm not sure what the length is. I'm pretty short waisted so I'm hardest to fit in that area. It seems too short to be what I want for showmanship, but not the right material to tuck in for Horsemanship as it's made from their PMS pants fabric.

So I think I'll be making TWO tops instead of one. Argh. Twice the work!?!?! BUT twice the fun and I admit I get a kick when someone stops me at a show to tell me they like my outfit and I can say "Thank you, it's my own design." and then they say "REALLY!?!?! It's gorgeous!" So having TWO different ones makes me look even more talented. I know, I know, I should get over myself. But seriously, this is my JOB. People pay me for this service I should get to enjoy it for myself once in a while.

So for Showmanship, I think I'm going to do some version of the all black outfit but have enough of a lighter color in the stones or the lines to make it work with a tan hat. I can't help liking that one the best out of the myriad of attempts to bring in some more light color. In fact I was searching for "Showmanship" on google images and my eye was immediately drawn to a very cool black outfit... oh wait, that IS mine. HA! I'll do this in the longer length.

Then for the riding classes since I'm more of a Horsemanship rider than a Western Pleasure rider, I think I'm going to go with something like this:

I've missed the streamlined look of the black body that my purple thing had so I've brought that back. The lines will be Ultrasuede. I'd like them to be more interesting than straight lines but that stuff is actually a pain to cut out into fancy shapes and keep symmetrical. The fabric on top is a glittered stretch velvet in shades of gold and copper. It'll sparkle but not be gross.

I was watching some video of that show season and it masked a lot more of my movement than the stripes. The vertical stripes on the one from last year kinda woodge back and forth at the lope... ick.

So that's where we are today. Probably should make some decisions...

Not that I couldn't wear the other thing for one more year...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tack UN-Hoarder

I know many of you are self-admitted "Tack Hoarders" who confess to having more tack than they can imagine using. Perhaps it's because I don't have my own barn or garage to store excess tack, or perhaps I am a penny-pincher that I fit more into the category of a "Tack Un-Hoarder." And yes, I made up that less-than-clever category. The "I might need it someday" excuse doesn't work with me yet because there are still many things that I do need RIGHT NOW. I pretty much only own one of everything, and in categories where I exceed that number I'm quick to find an outlet to dispose of the item in exchange for some sort of monetary wiggle-room to purchase something I need but don't already have one of.

So today I got a table with 3 other gals at a tack swap. This was our table:

You can tell we're amateurs at this! And you can't tell but my show jacket from last year is on that rack. There were lots of compliments on it but no serious lookers. I had it priced super high, but I'm not sure I want to part with it yet anyway.

As you know, my recent saddle order was intended to cut my two western saddles down to one. And now I am 2/3 the way done with that process! In other words, my training saddle sold today! And I sold it for $25 more than I bought it for! I also sold one of my old English Show Dickies that I used to make and sell on Ebay. I had one left and I sold it for a huge profit of $5. She seemed really excited about the Dickie and asked if I still made them. I told her my Ebay handle. I really should have asked the woman for her email or tried to take an order! Business FAIL. Oops. I would have liked to sell more but having the saddle gone is a HUGE relief. I can pay cash for my new saddle!

I took a last ride in the training saddle on Thursday. I really did like that saddle so it was kind of sad to see it go. :( But I'm sure when the beautiful new one shows up I won't think on it again. The new one will be much better quality and fit us better.

So out with the old and in (hopefully sooner rather than later) with the new. I've been eyeing some bridles to go with my new saddle but I can't show them to you or you'll know what color saddle I ordered! I'm now in the market for a show headstall and one (plus a breastcollar?) to use more for trail riding and cowboy challenges.

I did buy myself ONE thing at the Tack Swap. Just a cute western snap shirt I can wear for Cowboy Challenges or whatever. I poked and drooled on a few things including a very old buckstitched halter, but I reminded myself this was a SELLING day.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Showmanship Jacket - Even More Options

These comments are really wonderful to have! Thank you! A special Thanks to
JenJ who pointed out a terrible mistake I was about to make: Tan surrounding my face. I have recently learned the hard way how dreadful I look whilst wearing a tan shirt. That's what happens when you order from the interwebz and don't try on the tan shirt before purchasing. You'd think I would have remembered this!

Also the tan starts looking a bit like that faux-nude skating outfit stuff that eventer79 snarked about....

I had made this sad realization already and I was shopping for latin dance clothes last winter and was somewhat crestfallen to find that western show clothes also look like men's latin dance shirts....
That one on the left is a current Hobby Horse item. Derp.

AND one of the versions I was working on last night had to be abandoned because it looked too much like a drum major uniform. I've already played that game... in was green/silver/black sequined.... ah, memories of a band geek...
I think western show clothing has become much more of a "Costume" than clothing. And it is a SHOW afterall so I guess that's to be expected. I was watching the Masters Western Pleasure class at Congress once and I SWEAR this lady had mini lights in her jacket because she continuously sparkled like twinkle lights- it was rather tacky, actually.... or maybe not....

So I've come up with a few new versions that (hopefully look less like skating, ballroom and marching band) have some sparkle but not too much (no lights), and will allow me to keep the black hat but still get more brightness around my face. The white will act as a reflector under the black hat. No new hat, no new hat can. I've also included
In2Paint's idea of blue but not I used it as an accent rather than the all over color. Still trying to work with what I've already got, you know. The same year I buy a brand new saddle is not the year to buy a colored SMS outfit that requires me to custom dye boots! And didn't you remember I already DID blue?!?! :)

This version is with silver metallic lines over black airbrushing which I am a little nervous about screwing up, but it will really help give dimension. Since white is so easily dirty I'll also add airbrushing around the cuffs since those will be dirty first. I can play around with exactly where the stones go but I like the idea of 3-4 different hues together and possibly some clear or AB crystals, too, since it's on white. I'll have to get earrings that match the accent color.
Then the version with the copper lines, the same airbrushing, 3 colors of Topaz stones and tiny black stones.

Another option would be make one short jacket to work with both.

This Shortened version doesn't really look all that different so maybe I only need to make one jacket. It still has the longer vertical line that the top one has because black on black will mask the place the jacket ends and the pants begin. Plus then I don't have to worry about where the belt buckle and the chaps buckle attempt to share the same space on my body, which I learned with the purple outfit. With the jacket from last year I wore stretch pants under the chaps and no belt since it was not seen and that was much more comfortable. The APHA rules don't seem to require a belt. Does anyone know about AQHA? I'm showing open, but it's nice to know which rules I'm breaking. :)

But is the asymmetry bad for horsemanship? Or is this symmetrical enough for the level I show at? Not too crazy for horsemanship but not too boring for SMS/WP?


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Showmanship Jacket - Take II

Below is actually an earlier version of the design from yesterday. I had nixed it originally because I was trying not to have to purchase a new hat. But comments about making the design brighter around the face are very legit and since this trusty black thing has been in and out of the show pen for over 15 years now, only cost me $25 and has been through far too many shapings (from the 90's flat brim to the Arab Taco) it might be okay to retire it. MIGHT. The other hard part is actually matching the hat color to the shoulder fabric. Sort of has to be a perfect match in this situation. I don't want to spend much so I'm limited to the few in my budget. But what do you think about this one?

Or if it's too wierd with the two different colored sleeves:

I feel like I'm losing the simplicity from the all black one.

Another option would be going with a black/white/silver but then I'd either have to haul around 2 hats (which also means buying a new hat can - In2Paints I can hear you laughing!) or buy a new show blanket or use the boring black one.

There's only so much funding Junior is willing to throw at this, you know.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Showmanship Jacket???

I've been musing about a new showmanship jacket. I still like my jacket from last year but I think it cuts me off at the hips a bit more than would be considered flattering. If I can find the time, I'd like to have a new showmanship jacket AND a new shirt for Horsemanship/Pleasure, too. I am happy to see THE PURPLE gone, but I did like having the black all the way up the torso. I have a pretty short torso and I thought elongating in from the top down and having the jacket contrast at the hips rather than the high waistline would help. I think instead it made me look even squatter. I'm toying with some hand-painting ideas I keep finding. Easier than applique, that's for sure! However, you can rip out a stitch... but you can't erase paint!

I'd like to stick with the colors we had last year because I think they are well matched with Junior's coloring and are in the "adult" category. Not that a judge is going to mistake a bay roan with white stockings for another horse, but I think it helps to have the same colors for Showmanship and riding, just to create some consistency. I have both a solid black and the Spanish Lace blanket from last year to choose from, but I think the Spanish Lace is nicer looking because a black blanket can be found everywhere. Because it's not as easy to find a blanket in every color combination, having a patterned blanket that matches the outfit tends to look more professional and "put-together" to me.

So here's one idea for the Showmanship:

The front and back will be a mirror image. The asymmetrical design means I don't have to match left and right (harder than you'd think) and the diagonal lines are flattering to every figure. And I'd like to do more of an open stand up collar instead of the lay down peaked collars that still seem the norm. The curved styling lines will be out of a copper metallic fabric Then I've selected some Swarovski colors (the look less similar from above) to scatter heavily along the lines and then gradually thinning as they move away. Sort of a play with positive and negative space. In a very subtle over-all scatter (like one every 6-10") I'd like to put either the Black Diamond or the Jet crystals. The Jet will have a more subtle sparkle and blend in more invisibly with the black jacket. The Black Diamond will be slightly more visible in contrast to the black and will probably have a little more sparkle. The crystals seem to be cheaper now than they ever were before so I will be ordering a good amount of them.

I'm also trying to get a jacket done out of some scrap fabric so I can sell it at an upcoming tack swap. I'll post pictures if it's not a FAIL. :)

In other news, I was asked to become a Feeder at the barn. My BM also works at the Columbus Zoo and she's going back to work this spring with a different schedule so she needed to add another person to the Feeder schedule as well as having an additional person on-call in case of emergencies or when someone else is on vacation. So last Sunday I got to help her feed so I could get my first training. I get to do it again this Sunday, then a few days while I'm on Spring Break and one of the other feeders is on vacation. Not only does this give me a nice little board discount, but it is practice for that small boarding barn I want to have someday!

And it's good for my endurance! When I started doing 5 stalls each Sunday in the fall I could barely get through them all before I was stiff and sore. This past Sunday I fed horses, cleaned 5 stalls and trotted Junior (posting or 2-point) for 25 minutes. And I didn't feel a thing! Yay! This will also help create a more "slimming effect" for the shows!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Saddle Search - Part V - The Order

I ordered a saddle today. In true Overanxious form, I will spend from now until it arrives freaking out that I have made a horrible, horrible mistake. A horrible, horrible custom-ordered mistake. The guy at Rod's was extremely helpful and even shaved a bit off the price for me. He was very helpful, even calling back to confirm the details a second time to make sure.

I ordered the 2736 in a 15" seat. When I rode in the Border Reiner I seemed to have to put the stirrups almost all the way up and couldn't really get the hobbles on. I gave them my inseam measurement and they are giving me the "Youth" fenders instead of the regular ones. Golly I hope they are right about that! I just hope the fender bump isn't at my knee!!!

Color? OH, well I think it's best if I keep that part a secret since it's been the topic of debate. :) You can't wait 8 weeks, can't you?

I will tell you that I consulted a local judge who generously provided me with honest professional advice on the matter. I think I have made the right decision, but I'm still a bit freaked out.

The question is... CAN I keep it a secret?

I doubt Junior can.....

"Hey Chevy, guess what?!?!"

Saturday, March 5, 2011

We Got Stuff!

When I began writing this blog, I had no intention of gaining any sort of a "following". The very idea was laughable. I only wanted a place to document my journey into horse ownership. Someplace to record the events (small and large) of my time with this big hunk of roan.

When the "followers" started appearing, one by one, I was (and still am) shocked. Are we really that interesting? Do people really want to know what we're up to? This blog currently gets over 1,700 hits per month, according to my "stats." I have no idea how that number is possible, but I want to thank each and every one of you for coming along on this ride. I am grateful to each one of you, whether you are a subscriber or just an occasional visitor. If you have an avatar in the "Followers" box I have read your profile and if you have one, I have visited your blog. If you are one of the "anonymous" I wonder who you are and what brought you to my story. I think about you all when I write. Wonder what you'd be interested in. I edit my ramblings with you in mind, and in doing so I get a chance to condense my thoughts into a more concise record of my life with Junior. I take your comments to heart, even the ones that disagree with me or tell me what I can improve upon.

So when Megan from Build-A-Sign contacted me about creating some merchandise for my blog, I wasn't sure what I would DO with promotional materials! With her generous assistance, we have magnetic and sticky BUMPER STICKERS!!!!
There is a magnetic one gracing the rear of my Civic, and if you would like one to grace your jalopy, VW Bus, or horse trailer, there will be an opportunity to do so very soon! Just working some details out on that, but I just couldn't wait to share the designs with you.

Megan and I designed the bumper sticker using Build-A-Sign's clip art and fonts. It was really easy to use and it was fun to swap the different images and fonts until I found something that I really liked.

I also created some decals by uploading the same image I have embroidered on all of my tack bags. I also created some really similar ones using the fonts and clip art, so you can create your own nifty way to label all of your horsey stuff! And the decals are indoor-outdoor so they should be able to survive the rigors of barn life.

This is the one I did using their clip art. I put on the side of my grooming caddy.

This is the one from the uploaded image helping identify my western hat can!

I had been trying to figure out a way to use the logo as a stencil but I am not that accurate with an exacto knife and my first attempt was a disaster. This was way easier and looks a million times better than I had hoped.

Stay tuned for your chance to get your hands on the first official merchandise!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Saddle Search - Part IIII - The Trial

I went to Rod's yesterday to pick up their Rocking R Border Reining Saddle to take home and try. When I got there I noticed that they had a 2736 at the store!!!! Sadly it's a 17" and not the shortened skirt I need, but I was able to get a good look at the tooling and color and I took them both home. I wanted to take advantage of our brief stint of sunlight in this bleak and dreary Ohio Valley springtime. Tip for color matching show clothing/tack: sunlight is the best test. Mostly since most shows are outdoors, but also because fluorescent light makes things look funny so sunlight gives you full spectrum or "true" color. You can see in the photos later how different the outdoor vs. indoor flash vs. indoor no flash photos show the color.

The saddle seemed to fit as well (or better) than anything I've ever had on him and he was calm and stretching/licking/chewing during the brief walk/trot ride. I was thrilled to find that I could hold my rein hand where it's supposed to be. In my other saddles I always felt that the horn was in my way. I guess it truly was! The saddle did not bounce when I posted the trot. Overall I approve the fit for me and for him. And he didn't seem lame at all, as we all expected. Tomorrow he gets back into work so I'll be keeping an eye on it.

So I'm pretty solid on tree(FQHB)/size(15" - Yes,You-Know-Who-You-Are, You were right)/shape(27" skirt), but for color I'm still on the fence. I don't like the color of the darker one in real life, but I know it can darken up with some oiling and after feeling how stiff the leather is on a brand new saddle I will HAVE to condition/soften whatever I get. On the other hand, the light will darken with time/light/conditioning. I kind of feel like the light isn't light enough and the dark isn't dark enough. I guess it's a hue issue.

It seems that the folks who don't show like the dark, and the folks who do show say to get the light. The nice Ginger Cowboy that helped me today thought I'd look less out of place with the light at a trail ride/cowboy challenge than I would trying to do western pleasure in the dark one.

In my mind I don't want the "light" oil because it ends up looking like THIS. But is that just me wanting the color of my hunt saddle? Am I the only one who doesn't like this look? My attraction to dark could also be from my history with Arabs. We liked dark. But is using a darker colored saddle going to be as bad a faux pas as when I had a black hunt saddle? THAT was a poor choice in soooo many ways. Have I not yet learned from that mistake? That being a little "different" just makes you look stupid?

Anyone know if THIS works? Or what advice do you have for keeping light leathers soft but not darkened?

Border Reining Saddle in ??? Chestnut???
See the color of his headstall? I thought this saddle would be that color. I believe it's Circle Y's "Walnut". The reins are Rod's show reins that have been oiled with neatsfoot.
2736 in Light:
Close-up of hand tooling:

My plan is to order on Monday..... gulp!