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Saddle Box review

I was contacted last week by Saddle Box's owner, Phil, who asked if I would review the product on my blog.  I am happy to do so!  All my opinions are my own and I am in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Saddle Box.   
Saddle Box is a monthly subscription box full of equine related goodies for both rider and horse!  It can contain items such as treats, grooming tools, books, and small tack.  It seems there are a lot of these surprise monthly subscription boxes in a variety of styles these days, and it was only a matter of time until one was made especially for horse folks!

The first box has a 15% off coupon, so it costs $29.71 the first month and $34.95 each month thereafter which includes shipping.  They do ship to Canada for an extra $10 shipping. You can buy a Saddle Box for yourself or give it as a gift.  Once you sign up, it will automatically renew (and charge your credit card) every month unless you indicate for no box that month. There are no returns unless you receive a…

Ellie's first XC outing!

I love summer and being a teacher, because it means that it is super easy for me to go to a XC clinic on a Monday morning haha!  Back in April, a local(ish) barn posted a FB event for a clinic with Daryl Kinney, former barn manager at Tamarack Hill Farm and now out on her own.  I had met Daryl when I spent the week at Camp Denny in 2013, and I really admire her as a rider.  I happily sent off my entry, despite the fact I had NO idea if Ellie would even be ready to do a XC clinic in a short two months.

She was totally ready!  We had a great ride, though there were some bobbles.  She is green and needs more exposure, of course, so it is to be expected.  


happy horse and rider at the end of the lesson!
Though my weather app called for partly cloudy skies, the morning was super rainy.  I loaded up Ellie in a pissy mood because I really REALLY did not want to ride in the nasty rain LOL!  It looked as though it was going to clear in time for our 10:45 ride time, so I just told myself to get over myself because how can anyone be pissy when they are about to go school XC?  LOL

The farm is an hour south from me, Dark Horse Equestrian Center in Saco, and used to be a Standardbred farm.  I have been there many times when it housed Standardbreds but had never been since the new owner bought it and built the new barn and indoor about six or so years ago.  Sadly, they do not have an in-house instructor or I would totally be taking jumping lessons there!  They do host clinics though, so I am hoping to do as many as I can.  It was an uneventful drive down and Ellie settled well.  I took her for a walk around the indoor and barnyard, and introduced myself to the two boarders who were tacking up because I had a feeling they were the two others in my group (they were!).  I took my time tacking her up because the barn owner told me they were running behind because they got a late start with the first group.  No big deal.  I had arrived early enough to not rush and I think it is good for Ellie to have time to settle and learn about waiting at the trailer.


just chilling at the trailer

completely unimpressed haha
I started out by warming her up WT in the indoor.  The indoor has a long line of stalls on one long side, it was echoey, and there were pigeons flying around and landing in the ring LOL, so it was a bit spooky for Miss Ellie.  She did a fantastic job holding herself together though and after getting her to relax into the contact at the trot, we headed out with the two other riders in our group.  We spent a few minutes walking around the large infield scattered with both stadium and XC fences while Daryl finished up with the previous group.  Ellie was happy and relaxed, much more relaxed than she had been in the spooky indoor.  

After introducing Ellie to Daryl and explaining that this was her first ever time jumping XC and about her tenth time ever jumping haha, we started with a few small Xs.  We trotted in twice and Daryl goes, "Has she cantered into fences yet?"  I said "Yep a little bit!" because while she has cantered fences, it has literally only been maybe five times in the last two jump schools that I asked for jumping out of canter.  But she was totally fine at home, so I wanted to canter jumps here too.  We did a little five stride and she handled it well.  The first time we trotted in so ended up needed to really stretch for the five, so we cantered in instead and got a lovely line.  Everyone watching keep commenting on how adorable Ellie is and how happy she was.  Daryl raised the fences a bit and I was like, OK we can handle 2' jumps even though we have only ever done crossrails so far.  We did a small course of three jumps and then the five stride line again.  It was a great start!  I wanted to push Ellie a little bit since we were in a great place to do so, but I was kinda worried about overfacing her since she was being so good.

Next, Daryl thought we should try some XC jumps, so we did a little raised log up and down a hill.  That went quite well and I was super proud of how well Ellie handled the question even from a canter.  We moved from there to a larger single log that honestly looking back I should have not done.  I mean, I wasn't worried about it as a rider, but I knew it was the biggest thing Ellie has ever seen to date and it was not small enough to just walk over if she refused.  But at the same time, she was being so good and so bold I figured it wouldn't hurt to try.

You can probably see where this is going.  :-(

So, she refused it.  Not once, not twice, but FOUR fucking times.  I don't swear much on my blog, but OMG I was so frustrated.  Not at my horse, because she was being a greenie.  I was frustrated at myself for not riding well enough to get her over the fence and for not saying no thanks, we will pass in the first place.  Once we started, I had to get her over it.  I was also getting frustrated because I thought I had been clear that I wanted this to be a confidence building ride and this seemed to be going south quickly.  I said after the fourth refusal, "This is NOT what I wanted for this horse!" and maybe I was seen as being bitchy, but I was not happy.  I was under the impression there were going to be small intro level jumps but really most everything XC was at least 2'.  That is fine for some, but I wanted bitty baby jumps to really give her confidence.  

Finally I got her over it and I just had to immediately squash my frustration and get the most I could out of this lesson.  We still had an hour left and if I let myself stew in the anger that was boiling up, that would have NOT done my horse any good.  We then cantered from the previous raised log all the way around to the scary log and got over just fine, and I forced myself to feel better about it.  In the video you can hear everyone cheering after we got over it twice.  I put my smile back on and let it go.  Did we do damage to my horse's confidence for the long run?  No, probably not.  But it solidified for me that despite the fact she is a sweet and honest mare who is game for everything, I need to be her advocate and insist instructors take it slow.  I think it is a fine balance between giving her easy questions to build her confidence and appropriately challenging her and we crossed the line too soon.  But the rest of the lesson was fantastic, so I am just going to let it go, remember the lesson it taught me, and move on.  

From there we did a little blue box a couple times and then tried the ditch.  I really wanted her to be brave about the ditch!  There was just a little fake ditch of two crossrails, then a 2' wide ditch, and then an almost 4' wide ditch.  We started by just walking the fake ditch and she was fine, so we also trotted it.  Then we moved on to walking over the 2' wide ditch, and Daryl said that if she needed to, I could dismount and lead her over.  That is exactly what I was going to do, so it was good to feel on the same page.  But Ellie was great and trotted right over!  
posing with Daryl at the end
We ended with the water by just walking through it, then trotting and cantering.  There was a tiny log (the only one!) near the water, so we jumped it going into and out of the water.  The only video I got was trotting in and over the log, but that's fine!  I was really thankful to have a horse friend who stayed after her group to video us.  That was super nice of her and while there are not many pics, I made a little video of all the clips she sent me.  I would much rather have a video anyway!  

Overall, I am really happy with our first XC adventure.  We have two jump lessons scheduled in July with a different instructor at a different venue (with TINY LOGS!), so I am hopeful we will get an even better confidence building XC experience again soon!

XC clinic with Daryl Kinney June 25, 2018 from Elizabeth Sanborn on Vimeo.

Comments

  1. Sounds like a fun XC adventure aside from the one log. I think it's hard for advanced instructors to understand just how big jumps seem to green horses with ammieso n them than green horses with pros on the. The pros will take a horse around BN or even Novice and consider that a good starting place. I'd love to ride with Daryl someday though. Maybe soon!

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    1. So true and that is a good way to look at it. I consider a jump appropriate for Ellie's current level if we can walk over it from a standstill hahaha but pros definitely see the world a bit different. Daryl is really, really great to ride with though. Super encouraging and if you get the chance, you should!!! And yes, if you move to Maine eventually (!!!!), she is here a lot! ;-)

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  2. You should be proud of yourself and Ellie. It's clear that you two are building a great partnership. The log debacle is unfortunate but you both managed to work through it.

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    1. Thank you!! I am so proud of her. The log thing definitely got me down in the moment, but in the overall scheme of things I don't think it is going to be a big deal. :-)

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  3. Great first outing! It’s hard to speak up when you have someone you paid telling you to do it and you are so right that you can’t then let her learn saying no is a good thing. But it ended well!

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    1. I honestly was 50/50 feeling confident she would just jump and thinking ohhhh hell no. I choose to take the chance and I definitely regretted it in the moment. Oh well, we did get over it twice!

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  4. she is so stinking cute. bless her..what a good girl. She looks like she is having a blast. I have had no issues saying no to a jump I dont feel right about. I know I am a wimp but I also know Remus's limits (He probably could jump anything with a better rider on him LOL) But dont beat yourself up. You got over it and I am sure Ellie could care less. I am so glad you had a (mostly)great time. She really is adorable. Man I miss CC schooling.....And great that she was fine the ditches that is a HUGE plus :)

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    1. Thank you! She was so cute and happy overall! I was 50/50 about the jump, thinking maybe she will just do it and also at the same time thinking oh hell no. I took a chance hoping she would do it and it backfired LOL! Oh well, it was mostly a good experience!

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  5. i'm sorry it didn't go exactly as you planned - i *definitely* know that feeling of "This is NOT what i wanted for my horse!" and it sucks. ugh. esp bc in retrospect we always think of 8,000 ways we could have done something slightly differently to avoid it altogether. bc hindsight is obnoxious like that sometimes....

    but hey, at least i usually tell myself: at some point every horse is going to try out "No" for an answer. sometimes it's kinda nice when we face it early on over something not really all that scary or risky so that we can work through it, hopefully with the horse learning something in the process!

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    1. Yup, I took the chance and realized it was the totally wrong choice haha. Oh well, you are right on about her trying out no and working through it. I honestly think she just refused because she is so green. She wasn't being a twit or nervous at all, just felt like she was completely unsure of the entire thing.

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  6. I'm glad that minus the blip, it was a good, confidence-building experience for her!

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    1. It was so fun! I can't wait to have another chance to school XC in July!

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  8. It can be hard to balance what we should do in the moment, I had a similar experience with Dante and a big scary brush box a couple months ago. I should have asked for it to be broken down instead of attempting to jump it as it was. Sounds like you both recovered well despite the hiccup.

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    1. Hindsight is 20/20! And yes, we definitely recovered well!

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  9. Oh, I so know that feeling when you're about to boil over about baby horse being a baby horse but... you're committed so you gotta get it done now. Sounds like Ellie was a star, and I'm glad that, overall, it was a good experience!

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    1. There is such a fine line between pushing them to learn something new and pushing them too far. Sometimes we get too close to that line, but definitely a good experience overall!

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  10. I'm glad you had a good time and it all ended on a good note! Seems like Ellie is super game! I have a lot of respect for Daryl as a rider, and I feel like Denny has probably ingrained in her not to push horses too quickly. I'm glad you got over the jump, and it sounds like it didn't impact Ellie for the rest of the outing which was GREAT. I bet Daryl just felt like the two of you were totally ready for the bigger jump :)

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    1. I agree, I respect Daryl immensely and I do not think she pushes horses too quickly. I think she had a lot of faith in us and I was more like 50/50 but willing to give it a shot! But what Olivia said above really stuck with me, how as a little AA my idea of "easy" is a tiny 8" log while a pro will start a young horse right in BN. Let's face it, when you are regularly competing at Advanced, a BN log is nothing hahaha. ;-) Definitely do not want to imply this is any type of mark against Daryl; she is amazing!

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  11. I LOVE your attitude after the refusals. Such a hard spot, but your willingness to move forward and not dwell on it and smile about the good things is so, so admirable. It sounds like Ellie had a great first experience overall and you two are such a sharp looking pair.

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    1. Thank you! I think as I approach 40 I have finally chilled out enough to be able to let things like this go hahaha. It really wasn't a huge deal in the scheme of life even though in the heat of the moment I was so bummed out.

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