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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…

NER United States Pony Club Dressage Rally - June 23, 2019

After our first ever Pony Club rally in May, it became apparent my current PC wasn't going to be as active as I had hoped.  I ended up joining a more established PC here in Maine, which is part of the Northeast Region (NER).  Now I am a member of both clubs!

So by joining Epona Pony Club, I was able to attend my second dressage rally of the year.  It was held at a farm an hour away, right near where I go for my jumping lessons with Babette.  It was an easy drive down, but once I arrived it was a little hectic.  It was the first time this farm had hosted a rally and everyone was all stressed out about parking.  As I waited patiently in line in the farm's driveway, I told the parking guy I could put my rig anywhere he wanted.  He looked at me incredulously, "You can back that thing up yourself?"
standing happily tied to my teammate's trailer for the day
I almost rolled my eyeballs out of my head.  From what I understand, many of the drivers that day were unable to back their trailers and it had apparently caused stress with the guys handling the parking situation.  There was not a ton of room for the number of rigs.  I was thankful to be able to just park where they wanted me and not be sucked into the stress.  

Anyway (I am still rolling my eyes a month later...), once I arrived I had to find my team.  And well, meet them for the first time haha.  I was the fifth Epona rider, so I was put again onto a scramble team.  Teams at rallies are 3-4 riders, with one stable manager.  If you have four riders, you can "drop" the lowest score. Thankfully, this was an awesome team of two other Horsemaster (adult) riders from a different pony club.  One is a veterinarian who is also an "A" rated PCer (Beth R. not to be confused with my instructor Beth) and the other a long-time Pony Club mom riding at her first rally (Angie).  They were both a lot of fun and great teammates.  Sadly, we didn't have a stable manager, but that did not seem like a big deal.  (Narrator: It would, in fact, be a big deal.  *sigh*)

After the typical briefing and helmet check, I looked through the packet at our ride times in order to put them on the whiteboard.  Angie was riding Intro A and B, Beth R. was riding First 1 and 2, and I was also supposed to be riding Training 2 and 3...but they put me in Intro A and B.

My heart sank.  There was no way I wanted to ride those tests.  I walked over to the officials and nicely asked about it, how I had asked to be put into Training 2 and 3 when I signed up, how I wasn't trying to qualify for Championships, how it really wouldn't be fair to put me in Intro classes anyway, how I really wanted to do Training level to practice my tests for showing, how I was able to do Training level tests at the CNER rally back in May...

I was told no.  I had to ride the Intro tests because I was unrated.  It didn't make sense to me since I had read the rulebook (see below) and being unrated why did it even matter what I rode.  It is not like I wanted to ride easier tests.  I literally wanted to ride harder tests and try Training 3 for the first time ever.  I didn't want to argue, so I just said OK, thank you! with a smile and went back to my teammates at Beth R.'s trailer we were sharing for the day.
a rider may ride at any level offered.... ?
I was bummed and honestly would have left had my team not needed me in order to compete.  Ellie wasn't even unloaded yet.  When I sadly told Beth R., she was just as flummoxed as I was and marched over to the officials' tent.  She is the nicest person ever, but she is also in her 60s and doesn't take shit from anyone haha.  I just love her!

She came back and told me I was all set to ride my Training tests.  WHOO!  I don't know what she said or how she said it, but I am grateful she stuck up for me haha.  The schedule was all wonky (with the outside ring being switched back and forth from large to small arena several times) and as Beth R. put it, everything was all messed up.  It was definitely not as organized as it could have been, but honestly, I just cared about doing well in our tests and feeling pleased I could actually ride the tests I wanted!  YAY!

Ellie stood tied to Beth R.'s trailer like a champ.  I don't know what made her so much happier here than she had been this year at other dressage shows, but she was smooshed in between a wooden round pen and a paddock fence haha and was perfect all day.  Beth R. and Angie had their horses tied to the other side, we had the "tack room" set up inside the trailer stalls, and used the dressing room to change.  It was a decent setup!

When it was time to start getting ready, I made sure Ellie was clean and all ready for our turnout inspection.  I had to wait a little while for the judge to finish with the person before me (remember this, it will matter...) and we went into the small indoor (large indoor was used for tests) and passed our inspection with flying colors.  The judge commented on how well turned out we were and how clean everything was.  

From there it was time to head over to the warm-up.  I was riding Training 3 first in the outdoor ring, which made me a little nervous.  But since it is PC and I don't seem to have as much of a stake in the placings as I do at a regular show, I think I did pretty well with my nerves. MUCH less nervous than the first time I ever rode Training 1 last year haha.  Our warm-up was quiet and obedient, and when it was our turn, we headed right over to the ring.

I have to admit, I smiled like a moron throughout the entire test.  Ellie was SO good and we nailed all our canter leads and even the serpentine geometry.  I felt so proud of her in that ring that I was actually giggling at the last centerline and halt.  As we were leaving the ring, the gate person remarked I was the only rider who smiled the entire test and actually looked like I was having a good time haha.

We scored a 66.89% with the comments Nice energy, fairly good bend, horse could be a bit rounder in topline.  I was thrilled with the score and how we handled our first trip through Training 3.

Training 2 did not go as smoothly, which I was kind of bummed about.  We scored a 61.20% with a 4.5 on the small amount of working trot after the canter (it just says slightly on forehand, which seems harsh in a Training level test on a trot from E to K, but whatev...) and a 4 on the right lead canter because she spooked and we got the wrong lead.  Ugggg.  It was one of those moments where we came around past the judge and I thought, huh, I bet she's going to spook at that human sitting in the corner by M (who was there to pick poop from the indoor) and.....surprise, she did.  We were supposed to canter between C and M, which we did, only she bent herself into a pretzel while shying to the right and picked up the left lead.  I managed to fix it within a few strides before we started the actual circle at B, but the damage was done for a 4 on the transition.

We both felt rattled after that and Ellie got a bit fast.  We only had to trot and come up the centerline after the canter circle, but it was disconnected and rushy.  The judge's comment was right on: Really capable athlete, show less speed for higher scores.  Still, I was happy with the test and knew our faults were all mine.  I wonder if she was also intimidated in the large indoor, which had a balcony viewing room and was on the darker side (the shade was nice, but I think it was spooky to her).  Ellie was much happier in the outdoor, and we had no tension in the earlier test.

I took my time getting Ellie all cooled out and our tack wiped down for turnback.  We didn't lose any points and I was feeling really pumped about our team's efforts.  They are supposed to pin Horsemaster teams separate from the kids, but at this rally put us all together.  I felt confident we had done well overall. My teammates had good tests and we had no major turnout/turnback faults (if any!).

I was surprised when they announced awards were ready, as I had never seen them post the scores/points.  You are allowed to check the points ahead of time in case you want to make an inquiry.  But I didn't think much of it, figuring it was a bit disorganized all together, so whatever.  I brought Ellie into the small indoor with me for awards, as I did not feel comfortable leaving her alone tied to the trailer, nor did I want to stick her in my trailer in the heat.
all participants (and Ellie haha) during awards
Our team ended up in sixth place for horse management and third overall (riding scores + horse management scores combined).  I was surprised about the sixth place until Beth R. started looking at our sheets (which we did not get to see ahead of time, remember).  It said I was late to my turnout inspection that morning, so we were docked ten points.  Grrrrrrrrr, I KNOW I was not late and no one said anything during inspection.  This is when it pays to have a stable manager, as it gives you a person whose sole job is to keep time and ask questions for you.  Had I seen the scores ahead of time, I most definitely would have made an inquiry.  As it was, all the kids already had their ribbons and people were taking pics and getting ready to leave.  Beth R. spoke out, "Hey, she wasn't late!"  The barn owner/DC of the facility's pony club overheard her and said rather snarkily, "Well, do you want to make a complaint NOW?!"  Of course, I wasn't going to put in a complaint right then, as everything is over and it would only make me look like an ass.  But why had no one said anything to me at inspection?  Why were the scores not posted ahead of time?  Obviously, it was not a huge deal in the scheme of life, but it bugs me all the same when I know I wasn't late.  I did have to wait for my turn, but I was present and ready at my time.  I think that may have been where the confusion was and it could've been handled appropriately before the awards had I known.  Irritating for sure, but otherwise par for the course during a chaotically disorganized show.
My FPC teammates to the right (plus Beth R.'s cute dog Lilly) and the FPC kids' team
Maybe I would have been more apt to complain had kids not been involved or had we not had a marvelous Training 3 test LOL!  ;-)

But all in all, another fun Pony Club rally!  

Comments

  1. This level of disorganization would not work for me. I'd be way too grouchy and anxious. I'm glad you had a good Training 3 test though.

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  2. It sounds like such a cool event - hopefully they can iron out the kinks and disorganization soon tho bc that’s frustrating haha. Also it’s hard to believe pc moms can’t park their trailers?!? Wowza .... anyway tho major congrats on such a smooth first test !

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  3. So disorganization is my own personal circle of Hades. I may be type A to the nth degree but really is it that hard to prepare properly? Crap comes up, I get that but it sounds like most of these issues were due to plain old not being prepared and ick. But....congrats on a fabulous Training 3 test!!!!

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  4. Interesting day! Sounds like a bit of a sketchy system, with people docking points unnecessarily...but the important thing is that you had some good tests with Ellie. I love how she is in the team pic at the end - too cute!

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  5. Congratulations on doing so well. The organizers sound like they were not very organized.

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  6. As someone who used to manage events they can get chaotic but COME ON PEOPLE, honestly I hate how most horse shows are run. But yay you had a great Training 3 test!

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  7. ugh i hate shit like that. But yay you!! And I love when people ask if i can back my trailer. Um yes please get out of my way :)

    Ellie is growing up SO fast. And good for you to not get down in the dumps when it was obviously there error. That disorganization makes my stomach hurt!!

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