Sterling Essentials Review

We all have that old pair of boots that are covered in dirt, have holes somewhere in the stitching, and you don’t wear anymore but refuse to throw out.

These are mine.

Ariat boots before cleaning with Sterling Essentials Cleaner and Conditioner

Now I want you to toss out, erase, and Ctrl+Delete everything you know about cleaning and conditioning tack.  Yes, that glycerin soap too…trash that.

I recently purchased the Sterling Essentials leather cleaner and conditioner and let me start off by saying…

WOW!

Last fall I decided to retire my show boots to schooling status because they just couldn’t cut it in the show ring.  I’m talking constantly moldy, gray scale-y nasty looking stuff on the inner calf, and dirt that just did not want to breakup with my boots.  So at the beginning of the summer show season when I became a last minute catch rider I panicked…because my boots were so not show worthy.

Luckily on the day of my friend had some Sterling Essentials leather cleaner and offered it as my boots’ lifeline.  I wish I took before and after photos because if I didn’t already retire these boots I could have continued showing in them.  

Needless to say, I was instantly sold on Sterling Essentials products and got to ordering my own stash.

Since I was so bummed I didn’t take before and after photos of my tall boots, I did the only logical thing…

I pulled out THOSE boots…yep, the old, dirty, hole-y boots I won’t throw away because you just never know when you’ll need them.

And with that being said, I think I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Before I close this review with my ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stamp of approval, I want to highlight my biggest takeaway from these products. 

If you only buy one item, get the Leather Cleaner

Cleaning tall boots with Sterling Essentials Leather Cleaner

I’ve always stressed about the right water to glycerin soap ratio when cleaning tack because I know how bad water is for leather.  I’ve stressed so much that I rarely cleaned my tack and instead just conditioned it.  I know cringe away, that’s a terrible thing to do.  

However, when I got my Voltaire saddle I knew I could not and would not ONLY condition it.  For the first 6 months I did suck it up, used glycerin soap, and hoped for the best but not anymore.

The Sterling Essentials Leather Cleaner is SO easy to use.  No water, no stress, simply spray on your tack and wipe away.  The nozzle sprays ultra fine mist so you can get into those nooks and crannies while evenly distributing the cleaning product.  

The Sterling Essentials Leather Conditioner is just as great too and a little goes a long way!  After reading through Sterling Essentials’ blog and watching their YouTube videos I’ve learned that your leather probably needs way less conditioner than what you’re using.

Ariat Boots after cleaning with Sterling Essentials Leather Cleaner and Conditioner

All Sterling Essentials products are PH matched to leather and made with all natural ingredients including essential oils which are safe for you, safe for your tack, and safe for your horse.  That means there are ZERO harsh chemicals in it which will cause leather breakdown over time and could potentially cause an allergic reaction in your horse.  And as an added bonus, there are 3 incredibly soothing scents to choose from!

Disclaimer: I’m not a fan of floral scented items but the Floral Citrus scent is great! Not super floral, the citrus scents balance it out really well.

I can go on and on about how Sterling Essentials products have changed my tack care game but I’m going to wrap it up here and just say you really need to try it for yourself.  

If you’re about to hop on board and give them a go, let me know! I’d love to hear from you, if you have any questions feel free to ask away and let me know about your experience. If you’re already a Sterling Essentials fan I’d love to know which scent is your favorite!

Sterling Essentials Leather Cleaner and Conditioner

Shameless Shopping Guide: Labor Day Sale Edition

The best Labor Day weekend sales all in one place!
Happy Shopping!!
This list will be updated throughout the weekend so be sure to check back for the latest sales!

If you find this helpful, join the Shameless Spending Squad to get all the best equestrian sales, deals, and giveaways in one email to your inbox throught the year!


Animo

30% off
Code: LD21
Some Exclusions – Apply Ends Monday 9/6

Beyond The Track Apparel

15% off
Code: SAVE15
Ends Monday 9/6

BOTORI

20% off One of a Kinds + Free Shipping
Code: OOAK20
Ends Monday 9/6

Braids n Bonnets

$10 off Any Ready to Ship Bonnet
DM on Instagram to Claim
Ends Saturday 9/4

Corro

15% off select products
Discount Applied Automatically
Ends Monday 9/6

Dapple Bay Co.

Buy 4 Stickers, Get 1 Free
Code: BUY4GET1

Dover Saddlery

Select Apparel: Buy One, Get One 50% off
Code: CMXDSNE
Ends Monday 9/6

Draw It Out

25% off all products
Discount Automatically Applied
Ends Monday 9/6

EQL by Kerrits

Up to 40% Seasonsal Apparel
Discounts as Marked

Equestroom

20% off All Pink Items
Code: ILOVEPINK

Ethos Equestrian

25% off Logan Breech
Discounts as Marked

Farm Vet

15% off
Code: LABOR15

Free Ride Equestrian

Sale Products + 10% Off
Discount Automatically Applied
Limited Time

GhoDho

15% off
Code: LABOR21
Ends Monday 9/6

Halter Ego

20% off sitewide
Code: LABOR20
Ends Monday 9/6

Haybales & Barbells

50% off 6 & 12 Week Programs
Code: LABORDAY6WEEK
Code: LABORDAY12WEEK
Ends Monday 9/6

Herd of Zebras

25% off sitewide
Code: LABORDAY25
Ends Monday 9/6

Horseplay Apparel

15% off all Tees
Code: SEEYASUMMER
Ends Monday 9/6

Hunt Club

Buy any 2 Derby Belts, get the 3rd 50% off
Code: DERBYON

Left Lead Collective

15% off
Code: SEEYASUMMER
Ends Monday 9/6

Mane-ly Long Hair

10% off your first order
Code: SHAMELESS

Myst Equine Products

30% off
Discount Automatically Applied
Ends Monday 9/6

Penny Forever

20% off (Including Clearance)
Code: SUMMER21
Ends Sunday 9/12

Perri’s Leather

20% off
Code: LABORDAY
Ends Tuesday 9/7

Pure Sole Hoof

20% off
Code: LABORDAY
Ends Monday 9/6

Remarkable Leather Goods

10% off
Code: LABORDAY21
Ends Monday 9/6

Riding Warehouse

$25 Gift Card w/ $150+ Purchase
Ends Monday 9/6

Solid Citizen Equestrian

25% off
Code: TREATYOURSELF
Ends Tuesday 9/7

Sport Horse Essentials

15% off
DISCOUNT AUTOMATICALLY APPLIED
Ends Monday 9/6

Standard Issue Equestrian

20% off Sitewide
DISCOUNT AUTOMATICALLY APPLIED
Ends Monday 9/6

A Saddle Fit For Cinderella

Saddle fit…this seriously overwhelmed me last summer.

I touched on this a little in my first Kissing Spine blog post but didn’t go that far in depth on the saddle side.

Quick backstory, last summer was Fiona’s first time on a regular training schedule since she put her hind legs through a fence.  Bad behaviors started popping up so I had a saddle fitter come out to check the Pessoa I had.  It didn’t fit.

I then proceeded to go down saddle research rabbit hole. 

Wool vs. foam, custom vs. semi custom, this brand vs. that brand.  It got to the point I had an Excel spreadsheet and Word document full of information, screenshots of specs, and saddle rep contact information.  To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement.

Luckily, I had a place to start.  Sam’s Saddles, an online saddle consigner run by Sam Baker, came out to our barn and brought a variety of saddles with her. I think I sat in almost a dozen different saddles including County, Prestige, Amerigo, CWD, and a few others.  Throughout all the trials, Fiona was very opinionated with what she liked and didn’t like so it made the process much easier.

Also, considering I pretty much only rode in my Pessoa for the past 5 years, it was also super beneficial for me to see and feel other brands to determine what I liked and didn’t like.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find a saddle from Sam but she did end up selling my Pessoa and that whole experience was easy and seamless. 

After that I decided custom would be the route we take.  I had a Voltaire rep come out to trial their saddles and my search was over.  Fiona felt great and I felt great.  Done deal.  I ordered my Palm Beach with buffalo leather that day and the wait began.

My saddle arrived days before Christmas and I was psyched but as we know just months later Fiona underwent Kissing Spine surgery.

Which brings us to the present.  We are 4 months post-op and Fiona is ready to have a saddle on her back (sans rider).  After everything we’ve put in thus far I, of course, didn’t want to put a saddle on her back until I got confirmation it would fit 100%.  Here’s where Voltaire’s customer service shines.  

I got in contact with my local rep and he came out to look everything over.  After checking wither clearance, balance, tree position, and all the things it was decided Fiona needs front shims to lift the saddle off of her scapula.  Now, this is only a temporary solution.  The shims will be in place while Fiona continues her lunge work.  Once I get the ‘OK’ from our vet to sit on her back and trot her around my rep will come back out to the barn to do a re-check.  

At this point, he will evaluate whether or not the front shims need any further adjusting and my saddle will be sent out for new panels to be made.  If you’re not familiar with the brand, Voltaire designs their saddles for panel modifications to be possible without purchasing an entirely new saddle.  That being said, lifting the front of my saddle is viable and easily done.  As a bonus, panel modifications only take about 2 weeks to be completed. 

After I receive my saddle back with new panels, I’ll ride in it for another few weeks before, once again, my rep will come back out to the barn to verify everything is still looking good or if we need any further panel tweaks.  

This is exactly the customer service and attention to detail I would want and expect when purchasing a custom saddle.  In my opinion, they’re going above and beyond to ensure my saddle fits 100%.  With Fiona’s Kissing Spine diagnosis and surgery, I’m now especially paranoid but feel confident that Voltaire will ensure my saddle is the perfect fit for my four-legged Cinderella.

Voltaire Palm Beach Saddle

Shameless Shopping Guide: July 4th Sale Edition

The best 4th of July weeksend sales all in one place!
Happy Shopping!!
This list will be updated throughout the weekend so be sure to check back for the latest sales!


Beyond the Track Apparel

15% off (Etsy)
Code: AMERICA

BOTORI

20% off + Free Shipping when you share their IG post to your story + tag @botori.life (free shipping US only)
Code: HOT20
Ends Monday 7/5

Blanket Safe

10% off Orders $5+
Code: JULY4

Clovis

20% off sitewide
Discount Applied Automatically
Thursday 7/1 – Sunday 7/4

Corro

Spend $250, Get $50 Gift Card
Discount Applied Automatically
Ends Monday 7/5

Draw It Out

Buy a MasterMudd get a 16oz Gel FREE
Discount Automatically Applied
Ends Monday 7/5

Dreamers & Schemers

Free Shipping on all US Orders
DISCOUNT AUTOMATICALLY APPLIED
Friday 7/2 – Wednesday 7/7

EQL by Kerrits

Buy One Top, Get One 50% off
Code: HBDUSA
Saturday 7/3 – Monday 7/5

EquestrianAF

15% off
Code: HBDUSA
Friday 7/2 – Monday 7/5

Equestriess Atelier

Free Shipping on US Orders
Ends Sunday 7/4

Equestroom

Buy 2, Get 1 Free on Everything
Discount Automatically Applies
Thursday 7/1 – Wednesday 7/7

Farm Vet

15% off
Code: FIREWORKS

Free Ride Equestrian

Free Shipping
Ends Sunday 7/4

GhoDho

15% off
Code: CELEBRATE21
Saturday 7/3 – Sunday 7/4 (Starts at midnight CST)

Grey Horse Candle Co

Free Shipping on orders $25+ (Etsy)
Discount Automatically Applied
Thursday 7/1 – Monday 7/5

Herd of Zebras

20% off sitewide
Code: 4JULY20
Friday 7/2 – Monday 7/5

Hunt Club

20% off sitewide
Code: FIREWORKS

KF Clothing

20% off sitewide
Discount Automatically Applied
Thursday 7/1 – Monday 7/5

Left Lead Collective

15% off
Code: SPARKLERS
Ends Monday 7/5

Mane-ly Long Hair

10% off your first order
Code: SHAMELESS

Myst Equine Products

20% off
Discount Automatically Applied
Ends Monday 7/5 @ Midnight

Pure Sole Hoof

20% off
Code: FOURTH
Ends Monday 7/5

Riding Warehouse

Bargain Bin: Pick Your Price
Ends Tuesday 7/6

Smartpak

15% off
FREE $30 Gift Card w/ orders $200+
Code: JULY21
Ends Monday 7/5

Sport Horse Essentials

15% off
DISCOUNT AUTOMATICALLY APPLIED
Ends Monday 7/5

Standard Issue Equestrian

BOGO 55% off White & Gray Sets
10% off for Newsletter Signup
BOGO Discount Automatically Applied

Sterling Essentials

15% off
Code: STERLING6
(Does not include shipping, fees, or subscriptions)

The Fit Equestrian

Buy 2, Get 1 Free
Code: HAPPY4TH

The Tack Hack

20% off sitewide (excluding saddles)
Code: HAPPYFOURTH
Saturday 7/3 – Sunday 7/4

ThinLine

15% off July 4th Sale Page
Code: JULY2021
Saturday 7/3 – Sunday 7/4

Voltaire Design

20% off Accessories
Discount Automatically Applied
Ends Tuesday 7/6

DIY She Shed Equestrian Style

What do you think of when you hear the term “She Shed”?

I picture a shed full of tack, bridles and halters hung perfectly, saddle pads organized by color, the smell of new leather, and ribbons neatly hung all around.  I mean that’s every Shameless Equestrian’s dream she shed right?

Last Fall I put up my very own DIY Tack Shed at the barn and I absolutely love it so I wanted to share how I built it, the pros and cons, and some neat storage on a budget ideas.  

Prior to this tack shed I had a tack box that my boyfriend built for my birthday a few years and it was beautiful, I absolutely love it.  But once I got Fiona I quickly realized horse owners collect A LOT of stuff!!  So not long into horse ownership my tack box became Mary Poppins bag…but it took me way longer than Ms. Poppins to pull out what I was looking for.  Not to mention my tack box was taking up valuable space in one of our tack rooms which could be used by someone else.  

Tack box Alex built me

I was looking into alternate tack box designs to better fit all of my stuff and ultimately figured a shed would probably be better.  With my trainer’s permission, the research for a tack shed began.  What material should I use?  What size?  How will I organize it?  Where will it go?  

Wood vs. Resin vs. Metal 

This is what I spent the majority of my time researching.  Last Fall we were in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.  That being said the prices of lumber were outrageous, a simple 2×4 cost roughly $3 pre-covid and around $8 during Covid!  This was one of the primary driving factors in why I opted for plastic resin.  

Wood

PROSCONS
– Durable– Limited mobility
– Insect, rust resistant– Prone to rotting if not properly built and maintained
– Customizable (design, color, etc)– Usually more expensive

Resin

PROSCONS
– Lightweight, easy to move– Lightweight, easy to move
– Rot, insect, rust resistant– Limited custom options
– Usually inexpensive 

Metal

PROSCONS
– Durable– Limited mobility
– Rot, insect resistant– Prone to rust and leaks 
– Usually inexpensive– Limited custom options

Looking at all these factors I decided a resin shed would work best for my needs.  My primary concern with a resin shed was it’s structural soundness which we remedied by framing the interior with wood.  This helps create a sturdy structure and it allows me the freedom to hang items on the “walls”.  

Next thing I looked at was size.  I opted for a 7×7 shed which is just enough room for everything to have a home without being overkill.  This also fits perfectly between the two stall windows where it will sit.  

The Building Process

First off, you’ll need level ground to build your shed on.  My trainer’s husband was super helpful with bringing dirt to the “build site” and packing it down with a tractor to make sure the final shed doesn’t sink over time.  

Ground leveling

We created a base from 2x6s, concrete blocks, and treated plywood.  The concrete blocks were placed at each corner, the middle of each side and the center, then dug into the ground and leveled.  Each 2×6 was placed equal distances apart and nailed together.  Finally, the treated plywood was placed on top and nailed into the base frame to establish the floor.  

Then we were onto the fun part…assembling the shed.  You would think this would be a cake walk, directions are given, pieces are labeled, the whole nine yards.  All I’m going to say is make sure you allot time for the assembly LOL.

Assembling the resin shed

After the shed was assembled we framed the interior with wood to make the overall structure sturdier.  While I’m sure everything in my shed provides a lot of weight to keep it from blowing away framing the interior helps with that too.  I like to be safe rather than sorry.  

When all the structure building is done the fun part begins…organizing!

Organization & Storage

I had a vision in my mind and now it was a matter of bringing it to life.  I tried to do all of my storage and organization on a budget.  

DIY Tack Shed
Interior overview of the tack shed

All of my hooks for bridles, halters, and girths were purchased on Amazon.  These cost me a fraction of what bridle hooks would cost from Dover or Smartpak.  I also got these double prong coat hooks which are PERFECT for hanging girths.

Hangers for saddle pads were bought from Walmart and this nifty helmet display rack and crop holder were purchased on Amazon.  These were an absolute must for me from the get go.  I wanted a way to display all those beautiful pads and air them out when they’re sweaty and smelly, so this was a win-win.  

The helmet rack essentially does the same thing, airs out my sweaty helmet (because let’s be honest helmet sweat is real) and it puts it on display!  

The crop holder – I think we’ve all seen these in our local tack stores, they’re just awesome and it helps keep all those crops from growing legs like they do so often.

Saddle pad, helmet, and crop display

Shelving was from an old storage unit.  This is where all Fiona’s grooming items, treats, blankets, coolers, quarter sheets, scrim sheets, show pads, and all the miscellaneous things live.  I also put a battery powered light on the top shelf.

Shelving storage

This cabinet from my childhood bedroom is perfect for storing equine first aid items, medicine, and smaller things like hairnets, riding gloves, leather cleaner/conditioner and spurs.  

For horse boots and bonnets I use a regular plastic three drawer container you can get at any Walmart or Target type of store.  I also have a Smartpak supplement drawer underneath because Fiona’s supplements are already in the grain containers.  And to answer your next question, yes that is a small shop vac on the floor which I use on Fiona and it’s AMAZING.  Cheaper than a horse vacuum and it get’s the job done.

First aid cabinet, boot storage drawers, and mini shop vac

If hanging a saddle rack on the wall of a resin shed is what you want to do, my suggestion is to attach a piece of plywood to the interior wood frame you built.  Since I knew I wouldn’t be hanging a saddle rack on a wall I skipped this step.  Instead I have a rolling saddle cart with two shelves built underneath it.  My dad and I built this for me back when I was riding in New York for me to keep my saddle on at home in our garage.  I was always thinking about it and disappointed I couldn’t really find a good use for it until now!  

Saddle rack and boot storage

For boots and half chaps I use a small craftsman tool box-like thing.  This used to live in the trunk of my car but now has a permanent home in my shed.  Paddock boots and half chaps go inside and tall boots on top.  It’s super easy to clean out when it eventually gets filled with dirt and I think it looks clean and tidy for boot storage. 

One long chapter book later, I think that covers it!  I hope this helps inspire your own she shed equestrian style.  If you have your own tack shed I want to know your must haves and storage/organization ideas!  Share them with me on Instagram, @ShamelessEquestrian, or send me an email, Shameless.Eq@gmail.com.  

Lastly, if you have any questions about my tack shed, how to’s, storage ideas, or anything feel free to reach out! 

Shine Without The Suds

Don’t you just love grooming winter coats?  Or even better, when those April showers bring May flowers…and a whole lot of mud?  I don’t know about you guys but I LOVE grooming.  If I’m being completely honest, I’m also OCD about having a clean horse.

I know, why bother making sure Fiona is spotless when she lives in a field 24/7 and thinks rolling in the dirt is her full-time job? 

Well, there’s just something so satisfying about a clean and shiny horse. Not to mention it’s a great bonding activity and your ring turn out will always look impeccable.

Grooming doesn’t have to be long and tedious, the products you use can make your job easier.  My all time favorite grooming products are from Mane-ly Long Hair.  I use their Hydrate 24 and Polisher in Fiona’s grooming routine every single day.  I also use their system in my own hair routine which I’ll explain later.  

I’m just going to put this disclaimer here.  I’m a huge advocate for things I believe in.  It’s not in me to be that phony person on the internet trying to push the one thing after the other without believing in it myself.  So I want you to know, if I’m recommending something, it means I use it myself and truly think others can benefit from it like I have.

If this is your first time hearing about Mane-ly Long Hair or even if you’ve heard of it but aren’t completely sure how it all works, don’t worry I got you.  

The Mane-ly Long Hair system as a whole consists of a shampoo, conditioner, and polisher.  All of these items come bottled in highly concentrated forms so they last longer than your typical shampoo, conditioner, and polisher.  Basically, a little goes a long way.  Now, you’ll also see the terms Hydrate 24 (H-24), Shock Treatment, Hydrasol, and Stain Free System throughout their website.  Hang with me, I’ll explain it all.

Mane-ly Long Hair Products
Mane-ly Long Hair Products

Let’s break it down by product…

Restore Shampoo

The ultimate shampoo for cleaning and keeping stains at bay, restoring essential oils, and shining and brightening up that natural coat.  This is a gentle, deep cleaning formula without the harsh chemicals.  All you gray and paint owners out there, the Restore Shampoo will REPLACE your whitening shampoo when used with the Hydrate 24 and Shock Systems (explained below).

Conditioner

Add this conditioner into your wash routine and you will not only see a difference in your horse’s coat but you will feel it too.  Mane-ly Conditioner hydrates, repairs, detangles, and soothes with its – again – gentle formula.  You’ll see it’s full effect used in conjunction with the Restore Shampoo.  This conditioner is also a key player in the Hydrate 24 and Shock Systems.

Polisher

Mane-ly Polisher puts every detangler I’ve ever used to shame and I don’t say that lightly.  Seriously, I use it every time I wash my hair.  It keeps my hair soft and tangle free and it’s also a great heat protectant.  I wish I had this stuff when I was a little girl because having my mom brush my hair wasn’t something either of us looked forward to.  

I apply Polisher to Fiona’s mane and tail weekly.  If I could somehow let you feel how SOFT her mane and tail are through this screen I would because I know it would convince you on the spot.  But since I can’t you’re just going to have to take my word for it.  The Polisher is a non-greasy, non-sticky formula.  After applying it to manes and tails, it doesn’t leave ANY residue on your hands.  This stuff also works magic when removing burrs from a forelock.  Proven and tested by Fiona herself.

Here’s where it gets even more exciting…

Hydrate 24

Hydrate 24 (H-24) does practically a million things.  It helps prevent and alleviate itchy skin, rain rot, and moisturizes dry and damaged hair.  My all time favorite part is that it helps keep dirt from seeping all the way down beneath the coat so currying and flicking that dirt away is a breeze. 

Hydrate 24 makes grooming those fluffy winter coats so much easier by helping remove all that dust.  You know what I’m talking about right?  Like when you go to give your horse a pat and that lovely puff of dust levitates off their body?  

Hydrate 24 is made by diluting the Conditioner.  In order to use the H-24 system you’ll need the Hydrate 24 specific bottles because the correct mixing proportions are labeled directly on them.  A more detailed brochure comes with your H-24 bottles explaining the mixing instructions and it’s essential to follow them to ensure the final product isn’t thick or watery.  When you make your mixture, be sure you’re using HOT water.  Hot water makes the process so much easier and eliminates clumping of the conditioner!

Hydrasol Bottle.  This little guy is so cool.  To use the hydrasol bottle you’ll fill the bottle halfway with the Hydrate 24 mixture and top it off with hot water, then shake.  This is an even further diluted version of Hydrate 24 and is awesome for spraying directly all over your horse’s body.  

Mane-ly Long Hair Hydrate 24 Essentials
Manely Long Hair Hydrate 24 Essentials

Here’s a few different ways I apply Hydrate 24…

  1. After currying and using a flick brush, spray H-24 onto the Mane-ly Hydrate 24 Applicator brush and brush as usual.
  2. Spray directly onto your horse after bathing then buff out.
  3. Spray into mane and tail on days I don’t use Polisher.  This helps keep Fiona’s mane and tail soft and tangle free.

Gone are the days of buying coat sprays every month because one bottle of conditioner will give you MANY bottles of Hydrate 24. For reference my last Condtioner and Polisher restock was in November 2020. Since then, I used about half of the conditioner (with daily Hydrate 24 use) and only a third of the polisher (used weekly or twice a week).  Since these are all concentrated products they will last you so much longer than traditional products!

Shock Treatment

If your horse is gray, paint, has lots of chrome, or white socks get ready to kiss whitening shampoos goodbye.  The Shock Treatment not only has all the great benefits of the Polisher and Conditioner, but when combined together it can lift even the deepest stains and prevent yellowing.  To create the Shock Treatment, pour equal parts Polisher and Conditioner in the palm of your hands, mix together, apply to areas in need – manes, tails, forelocks, feathers (not their body) – and leave in.  Remember all of these products are in concentrated forms so a little goes a long way.  When in doubt start with a smaller amount, more can always be added.  

On any given day my Mane-ly Long Hair grooming routine looks like this…

  1. Curry
  2. Flick loose dirt and hair away (blue Mane-ly brush)
  3. Spray Hydrate 24 on a brush and brush down Fiona’s entire body (H-24 applicator brush works best! This is the natural colored bristle brush.)
  4. Apply Polisher or Hydrate 24 to mane and tail as needed (Polisher 1-2x/week & Hydrate 24 the other days)
  5. Finish with the Manely Buffer Brush for a final touch of shine 

I really can’t speak enough great things about Mane-ly Long Hair products. They. Just. Work.

If you want to give them a try and see for yourself the shine and benefits they’ll bring to your horse’s coat you can use the code ‘SHAMELESS‘ for 10% off your first order.

Manely Long Hair
C’mon, look at that flowing mane 😂 #photogenic

The Shameless Shopping Guide: Tack Edition

It’s no secret our sport is expensive.  Seriously, I’m sure many of you can attest to the fact at least one of the following…

Our riding wardrobe is more expensive than our work wardrobe.  Our horses have their feet trimmed or shod on a regular schedule but going to a nail salon isn’t even on our radar.  Our horses are regularly scheduled for massages, chiro, PEMF, etc and we don’t stop to pamper ourselves.  We’ll get the best tack we can afford to ensure our horse’s utmost comfort but we’re still driving around with a giant crack in our windshield for the 6th month in a row.  <— That’s definitely not me [dripping with sarcasm]. 

Anyone who knows me, knows this is how I shop…
In stores… walks directly to the sale rack, looks at nothing full price.
Online… will scour every last corner of the internet for the best deal possible.  There’s a reason everyone at my barn says “Hey Sam, I’m looking for ___________, can you keep an eye out for me?”  And guess what?  About 85% of the time I find them a deal!

If you find this helpful, join the Shameless Spending Squad to get all the best equestrian sales, deals, and giveaways in one email to your inbox throught the year!

Nothing will change the fact that our sport is expensive but that doesn’t mean we can’t snag a great deal every now and again.

So without further ado grab some popcorn because this is a long one and here’s a list of some of my go to shops….

Maryland Saddlery

I’m fortunate enough to live fairly close to one of their retail stores and let me tell you it is DANGEROUS.  They have an awesome selection of consignment items and what’s even better are their overstock deals.  These are brand new items AND they’re discounted.  I scored a pair of brand new DeNiro Field Boots on overstock last fall for only $225!!

They also have a great rewards program which earns you points for every dollar you spend and then you can redeem those points to save some money on your next order.  
It’s pretty bad when my internet browser automatically bookmarked the new arrivals page because I check it out on a daily basis.

www.MarylandSaddlery.com

The Tack Hack

If you don’t know about The Tack Hack, it’s time to come out from that rock you’re living under!  Just kidding…sort of. 
At The Tack Hack you can find some high end tack and apparel on consignment but mostly their inventory consists of brand new items.  The Tack Hack works with independent tack shops, takes on their overstock inventory, and sells it.  The best part?  It’s always marked to less than retail price!  It’s essentially one big sale rack.  Not to mention the owner, Lauren, always sends the sweetest notes and mints along with every order.  

www.TheTackHack.com

The Tried Equestrian

If you’re looking for consignment items, The Tried Equestrian will be right up your alley.  You can also send your own items to be sold on consignment. 

www.TriedEquestrian.com

eBay

Guys I know, eBay is like so 2000s right?  Wrong!!  I’m not saying you’re always going to find what you’re looking for but don’t write it off either.  I got one of my Horseware burgundy show coats on eBay brand new with tags for only $40!  And yes, I’m not even ashamed to admit I own more than one burgundy show coat.  I mean I needed options to match my red burgundy saddle pads and my other purple burgundy saddle pads.  #Shameless 

HSR Apparel

This is your one-stop-shop for anything Tailored Sportsman, new or used.  As far as I know this is strictly an Instagram based shop, so be sure to follow them to stay in loop for what’s available.  I won’t lie, I even have post notifications turned on so I can immediately get notified when new items are posted.  I haven’t purchased anything from her just yet, right now I’m specifically looking for what Boysenberry Tailoreds are out there lightly used or new before jumping in and purchasing at full price.  *GASP* I know, how could I do such a thing?  Well when you’re obsessed with the color, you’ll do some crazy things.

www.instagram.com/hr_apparelsales/

Riding Warehouse

I don’t think Riding Warehouse has enough hype!  They have tack and apparel from every discipline from Endurance to Western to English.  So whether you’re hanging out in the show ring or hitting the trails Riding Warehouse will have what you need.  They have an awesome clearance section and during Black Friday they had some unbelievable deals.  I scored a pair of Shires Arma Brushing boots for only $17 per pair!  P.S. They also host some sweet giveaways on their Instagram.

www.RidingWarehouse.com/

Corro

I just recently discovered Corro and I’m so glad I did!  Corro carries strictly tack and horse essentials with a select few accessories for the rider.  I love that they often run buy one get one 50% deals on anything ranging to treats to fly sprays.  You can even set up recurring shipments similar to Chewy’s autoship and on your first autoship you’ll save 30%.  They also offer free shipping on orders over $49 which is a huge plus.  If there’s anything I hate about online shopping its shipping fees!

www.CorroShop.com

Smartpak

Yeah, yeah…I’m sure everyone knows this one.  Smartpak has amazing customer service and some of the BEST store brand items.  I feel pretty confident ordering anything that Smartpak has branded themselves.  Piper Breeches, so comfy and there’s a wide variety of colors.  Some other Smartpak branded lines include…

  • Smartpak (I think this is obvious but included it anyway)
  • Piper 
  • Hadley
  • Alexus 
  • Eliza 
  • Plymouth 
  • Harwich 
  • Wellfleet

I haven’t tried items from all of these lines just yet, but from what I have tried I wouldn’t hesitate purchasing from any of the others.

Smartpak generally runs some noteworthy sales throughout the year and if you’re a Smartperks member (have a recurring Smartpak supplement shipment) you even get additional discounts.  Speaking of additional discounts, they also offer further discounts for any associations you’re a member of, USEF and IHSA being just two examples.

Their clearance section is also something I frequent, it’s not uncommon to find a pair of Piper breeches there for well under $50 and I even got the cutest show shirt with pineapples on the collar for only $12.99!

www.SmartpakEquine.com/

Dover Saddlery

Again, another obvious one.  Not all their sales are totally worthwhile but they have some worth mentioning.  If you live close to one of their retail locations their tent sales are a MUST.  Usually they have orange ticket items that are buy one get on 50% off.  Dover Basement items seem to be any new items with a slight blemish which does not affect usability or returned items with tags that can’t be sold in new condition.  A few years ago I got a pair of show breeches from the Dover Basement box for only $15, they were brand new with tags but had slight blemish that would be covered by my tall boots.  

Another good sale to look for are their “Spend $X get $X on a Gift Card”.  I usually use these sales to stock up on basic care items like liniment, animalintex poultice, vet wrap, etc.  Stuff that’s always good to have on hand because you’re essentially “getting paid” to stock up on necessities.  Okay, that’s how I justify it and it sounds better.

www.DoverSaddlery.com

Ride-Away Equestrian

Don’t get me wrong, I love the United States.  Ask anyone, if I’m not using black and burgundy tack I’m most likely sporting anything patriotic.  But the equestrian market outside of the United States is awesome.  I’m not sure what it is but it seems like Europe has all the “cool stuff”.  They have a wider selection of Back on Track products, more brands, they’re not afraid of colored tack, and the best part?  European brands are cheaper when you purchase outside the US, but that makes sense right?  

Ride-Away is one of my go-to online tack shop that’s located overseas.  They have super quick and reliable shipping despite packages being sent internationally.  

Last summer I purchased Woof Wear brushing boots, a single pair cost me $19 where a single pair in the US costs $40!  After purchasing two pairs and paying express shipping (because I was being impatient) my total was $53.34.  That’s less than the cost of two pairs purchased in the US!

https://www.rideawaystore.com/en-US/


Did you stick with me through all that?  I know, it was a lot!  But hopefully this list will help you find a deal on your next purchase.  

Do you have any go-to shops I didn’t mention?  I’d love to hear about them, share their information in the comments!

Fiona’s Rehab Plan

  • 1st half of Month 1

    Stall confinement until the staples are removed. Hand grazing for 5-10 minutes once or twice daily.

  • 2nd half of Month 1

    A few days after the sutures are removed (12-14 days post op), she can be turned out in a clean, dry round pen if she is quiet or start hand walking 10-20 minutes daily.

  • Month 2

    Moved to a small paddock and begin hand walking over ground poles for 20 minutes daily.

  • Month 3

    Moved to a large turnout (Fiona is field boarded so she will go back out in her original field with pasture mates). Continue daily hand walking exercises. If able, start trotting on a lunge line for 10-20 minutes daily.

  • Month 4

    Start hand walking with a saddle on, but not ridden. If able, trot on a lunge line for up to 30 minutes daily.

  • Recheck Exam After Month 4

Physiotherapy – Massage & Suppling Exercices

Can be started 4 weeks after surgery and continued until she is in full ridden work.  This can include carrot stretches to bend her neck from side to side and up and down and back lifts.  These should be performed daily as long as she tolerates the work:

  • Stretches:  5 in each direction following hand walks / lunging.
  • Tummy Tucks:  Standing to her side, using hands or a firm blunt object, apply firm pressure and scratch her belly to achieve a listing of her back.
  • Rump Tucks:  Standing to her side, using hands or a firm blunt object, apply direct pressure about 4” on either side of the midline top of her rump.  She should drop her rear end and extend her back when the pressure is applied and hold it for 5-10 seconds.
  • Neck Stretches:  Using a treat of some sort, encourage her to touch her nose to her elbow on each side.  Also encourage her to stretch her head as far down between her legs as she will go.

Kissing Spine: The Beginning

On February 17, 2020 Fiona was diagnosed with Kissing Spine.

When Fiona officially became my horse I started her on a regular training schedule. Occasionally while under saddle she would start bucking and throwing a fit so I had a saddle fitter come out to see if my saddle was causing any discomfort.  Low and behold, it was in fact causing some pinching. After looking into different options and trialing multiple saddles [shoutout to Sam’s Saddles – now located in Aiken, SC], I proceeded with having a custom saddle made in hopes her antics would cease with a proper fit.

They did not. 

They were getting worse the more she worked.

I decided it was time to do some investigating into what could be causing her severe reactions. The x-rays were clear, she had Kissing Spine.

I heavily weighed our options, injections vs. surgery. With Fiona’s long term comfort and happiness in mind, I decided surgery was the best route to take if she was a qualified candidate for the procedure.

I got her an appointment to see a highly recommended surgeon in our area for the following week. During the appointment her back pain was evident.  When the vet palpated her back she let out a series of squeals and her hind legs went flying in the vet’s direction.  Not my proudest moment as a horse mom but I tell myself it was good for the vet to see her true reactions.  To be on the safe side I also had the vet ultrasound her ovaries and send out bloodwork to ensure her hormone levels were normal and there were no cysts present.  Both those tests came back clear.

2.5 weeks later she went back for surgery.  It all went wel and she had a total of 6 spinous processes shaved down.  My fire breathing dragon even got a raving post op report from the vet and they said she’s acting like she didn’t just undergo surgery.

Rehab for kissing spine surgery is extensive and ongoing, it also varies depending on which surgery was performed – ligament snip or bone shave.  If you and your horse are also going through this, drop your story in the comments I would love to hear about it!  Please also keep in mind every rehab plan is slightly different and no two horses are the same.  I am not a vet, I’m simply following the plan given to me specifically for Fiona’s case.  Always stick to your vet and trainer’s recommendations during your horse’s rehab.

We have a ways to go but more than anything I’m so excited to see what Fiona can do and where she’ll be without the the pain in her back holding her talents at bay. 

Fiona’s first day back at the barn after surgery – 1 day post op

Everything Happens For A Reason

Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of having a horse.  I’m sure my parents were hoping I would grow out of the “I want a pony” phase, but no such luck.  Believe it or not, that phase just got worse with age. 

Fast forward to my freshman year of college, I met one of my best friends – Andrea.  Little did I know she would change my life.

Throughout our college years we grew closer.  We became the President and Vice-President of our college Equestrian Club and you could find us spending our free time at the barn.  Andrea had her own horse, Pippa, and I leased a mare named Buttons.  The trail rides, lessons, and shows were some of the best memories in college.

A year or so after graduation I stopped leasing Buttons and by this time Andrea’s herd of one grew to a herd of five – 1 Appaloosa (Pippa), 3 OTTBs (Odie, Rue, & Hooch), and 1 AWR/AQHA (Fiona).  At this point, I was at a crossroads of where I wanted to be in my riding career.  During this time Andrea was heading back to nursing school and offered her horses to me to hack around since I no longer had a horse to ride anytime.  In the Fall of 2019 I started riding Fiona and fell in love.  

Fiona is a special mare, one with a history, she’s essentially the epitome of every single mare stereotype.  Need I say more?  She can be dually registered with the American Quarter Horse Association and the American Warmblood Registry.  She was born in 2013, her sire is Indian Artbeat (out of Indian Artifacts) and her dam is Skippen Mischief.  

In 2018 Fiona was sent to a consignment barn in North Carolina to be sold.  At the time she was priced in the low five figures…until she wasn’t.  In November 2018, she managed to injure her hind leg pretty severely and her owner at the time (who also happened to be Andrea’s good friend) needed to find her a home.  Andrea scooped her up, rehabbed her leg, and miraculously she healed completely sound with no career restrictions.

Fiona's Leg Injury - November 2018
Fiona’s leg when she arrived at our farm in November 2018

By Fall 2019 I’ve been out of college for a little over 2 years.  I was at the point that I was weighing my options, looking at my expenses, and doing the math behind getting a horse of my own.  You can ask anyone, I had spreadsheets on spreadsheets on spreadsheets listing every single dollar that left my bank account and every single dollar that came into my bank account.  I was determined to figure out a way to make it work.  Anyone who’s in the equestrian world knows that the initial purchase price of a horse is the cheapest part.

In January 2020 Andrea brought Fiona up in conversation.  She mentioned when it’s time for me to start looking for a horse to keep Fiona in mind if I liked her.  She made it very clear she would never be for sale to the general public but with 4 other horses and nursing school on her plate she would always choose the best option that would bring out her potential.  By this time, I thought I would be a year or so out from purchasing my own but with the offer of Fiona on the table, the mare I fell in love with in just a short time, things changed.

In the next few months, the numbers started aligning and I felt I was in a comfortable position to take on a horse of my own but Andrea had other plans.  I’m not going to lie, I was heartbroken Andrea didn’t feel ready to sell Fiona that Spring but I also understood that she is her horse, I simply just rode her.  Let me tell you, Andrea played her cards well.

The last weekend of May 2020, just days after my birthday, my parents were in town to help my boyfriend (Alex) build a shed.  While the guys built the shed my mom and I were planning to go on trail with a bunch of friends from the barn.  Last minute my dad and Alex decided to tag along “to see the foals” who were just born.  Now, my parents aren’t horse people and they’re not anti-horse people but I definitely didn’t get my love for horses from them.  Either way I was both excited and confused by the outing just “to see the foals”.

And see the foals we did.

As we walked back to the barn Fiona caught my eye.  Fiona who had a beautiful burgundy and black bow with rhinestones scattered throughout wrapped around her neck.  I was speechless.  As Andrea was holding her there, I realized Fiona was being given to me as a birthday gift but I had no idea who from.  

Yes, this photo was captured with such perfect timing to catch Dixie peeing in the background.

Thoughts were running though my mind, tears were streaming down my face, Andrea said “Happy Birthday”, and my barn family was standing by with phones and cameras in hand.  I just kept repeating “Are you serious?” and “Who is this from?”.  Everyone was laughing and smiling.  I was confused, shocked, STILL crying happy tears, and didn’t know who to thank.  

Andrea was the person to thank.

I promise there’s beautiful little rhinestones scatted throughout the bow, you just can’t tell from this photo. Also, spoiler alert: I love burgundy and black anything.

On Andrea’s 18th birthday she was given her first and forever horse, her mare Pippa.  She promised herself at that time if she was ever in a position to or presented with the opportunity to pay that type of kindness forward she would.  November 2018, she found herself picking up an injured mare she didn’t necessarily need at the time, however something told her Fiona needed to come home with her.  

Andrea recognized the connection Fiona and I formed and decided months prior to that day that Fiona was going to be my 25th birthday gift.  I never quite had a horse of my own and Fiona never quite had a person of her own.  Andrea made my dream of owning a horse a reality and I will forever be grateful for the kindness and generosity she’s shown both Fiona and I.  We both would not be where we are today without her.

Just as Pippa was Andrea’s first and forever horse, Fiona is my first and forever horse.

And that’s how our journey begins…

My ugly crying caught on camera 😎