Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Favorite Things: Eventer's Edition

This past weekend, I started cleaning out my tack room and organizing some of my equipment. After some of my favorite items resurfaced (I hadn't seen my North Face parka in about a year and a half), I have compiled a list of my 10 favorite things to make an eventer's life complete. 

The North Face packable windbreaker/parka:
I've had this parka for about 6 or 7 years, and I don't even think they make this anymore, but it is a must for me in my tack trunk. It is lightweight, has a hood, 2 front zipper pockets (so things don't fall out....ever), and a back stow pocket that means I can stuff it all into the pocket and it packs down into a 6-inch square that can be stored anywhere to be used at anytime. Perfect for schooling or trail rides when it might rain unexpectedly!

Nunn Finer five-point breastplate:
Well, I know that just about everyone has one of these now-a-days, and I don't care about the smack-talkers who say everybody just bought one because Boyd uses one. When you have a horse who is sometimes wide/sometimes medium; sometimes high-withered/sometimes regular-withered; sometimes short-backed/sometimes downhill, then it's not easy to keep a saddle secure, without putting pressure somewhere that it shouldn't. The greatest invention for saddle placement security is the 5-point breastplate. I love mine and it has kept my saddle exactly where it needs to be, all the time. 

Charles Owen Pro Skull Cap:
I love my helmet. It is comfortable, it is secure, and it saved my noggin from quite a pounding several years ago when I got thrown off while schooling cross-country. In fact, I need a new helmet to replace the one I have (it is only a few years old, but it is well-worn, as I wear it every time I get on my horse). The only reason I haven't bought a new one by now is that I just don't have the money for a brand new one, but I am saving my money and I will be buying another one just like this!

Composite Reflex Stirrups:
Last year, I bought a pair of what I call my "granny stirrups." They are great for absorbing shock and keeping my knees from ever getting sore or stiff. But, I have also come to find that these stirrups (being wider and more substantial than standard irons) keep my foot and heels in a great position, which helps to keep my lower leg more secure and stable. So, "YAY" on both counts! Plus, I can hack out on the trails for a long while without my feet getting numb and falling asleep. That is a good thing, indeed.

Anti-Monkey Butt Powder:
Does the AMBP need any further explanation? This stuff is awesome. I sprinkle it in my helmet, my breeches, my sports bra, my Zocks, and my tall boots before I ride (especially in hot weather). It saves me from a world of sweat and stink, plus it definitely avoids the heat rash, which athletes in the South have struggled against forever. I buy bottles and bottles of this stuff!

Dublin side-zip microfibre breeches:
I have these breeches in both taupe (for jumping) and white (for dressage). These are my "poor man's Tailored Sportsman" breeches and I love how comfortable the microfibre is. They are soft, a bit baggy (the only way to wear white breeches, in my opinion), and they stay cool and wash very easily. I've had mine for about 5 or 6 years now, so I'm not even sure if they are still available. I haven't shopped for breeches in so long because I love the ones I already have and they are holding up great!

My white breeches in action.

My taupe microfibre breeches "cool as a cucumber" at a summer combined test.

N.E.W. Equine Maximum Performance boots:
I bought these protective brushing boots at Rolex in 2006 and I really like them. They have molded to Eddie's legs over the years, they are light yet very, very tough, and they wash/dry really easily. I was sold on them because of the thick fleece lining and the tendon guard, but they have been great boots for any number of other reasons. Once again, it's another quality, long-lasting piece of equipment that has kept me from having to shop for XC boots in several years (and I don't anticipate having to shop for XC boots anytime soon!). 

Eddie in his N.E.W. boots on cross-country.

Ariat Challenge Field Boots:
Me, admiring my new boots back in 2005,
on my beautiful OTTB, Reece.
I bought my boots from shoe-store.com in 2004 or 2005 and they are probably one of my most favorite things. They fit so well, they are comfortable, supportive, cushion-ey, and I have worn them so much that they have molded to my legs as if they had been custom fit. In the fall of 2007, the back zipper on my left boot broke and I was devastated. I called shoe-store.com and they have an on-site cobbler who repairs all and any issues with the shoes they sell (no matter the age, maker, or style). I sent them to their brick-and-mortar location and they repaired the zipper and mailed it back to me (within 10 days) for twenty bucks. The repair was flawless and the new zipper is almost better quality than the original that is still in my right boot. I'm so glad they could repair them for me, because I paid $250 for a $380 pair of boots, and I can't be buying new boots if these fall apart. Luckily, they look to be in good working order for a long time to come!

Bass Pro Shops "Go Big Orange" sun visor:

My BPS visor with another of my favorite things:
a well-worn copy of Can I Get There By Candlelight?
by Jean Slaughter Doty. A definite classic.

This particular favorite item reflects an association with several things I love: BPS, anything orange (Go Vols!), and eventing (via my USEA pin). I wear this everytime I go outside in the summer, whether it is to do chores in the field/barn, garden, run, get hay, volunteer at a horse trial, or spend the day on the lake. I always have this on in order to keep the sun out of my eyes and to shield my face from harmful UV rays. I like the sunshine, but not too much of it. The only thing I don't do in this visor is ride my horse!

The North Face Trailrunners:
When I'm not on my horse, I try to participate in activities that at least prepare me physically for riding my horse (like running, walking my dog, and hiking). I have been wearing TNF trail running shoes since the late 90's because Nike, Adidas, and Asics just don't fit me well for some reason. I do wear New Balance running shoes, but lately, I've done everything in my North Face trailrunners, so I just stick with what works! I love these. They are tough, comfortable, they stay cool, they dry quickly, and they are very lightweight. I would much rather spend almost $100 on a great pair of versatile kicks than to keep spending $40-$50 every year on other brands that wear out in 6 months. My first pair of TNF trail runners made it from 1999-2010. I still have them, but the sole on one is so thin it is wearing through and it's starting to come unglued. I bought my new pair to "replace" the old ones, but I have since found an excellent shoe guy here in town who I'm sure can resole (or at least re-glue) my old pair, which will keep me in good, quality trail shoes for at least the next 5 years or so!

Show day refreshments:
And, what favorites list would be complete without a list of beverages perfect for any eventing occasion? Usually, if I'm competing, I will only stock my cooler with a few beers (for before cross-country!), water, Gatorade, and maybe a diet Coke or Sugar-Free Red Bull (ok, who am I kidding....there will definitely be Red Bull if I'm competing). Usually, my show day will begin with free hotel coffee (or maybe one from McDonalds, if it's on the way to the barn). Then, I will start alternating water and Red Bull until I ride dressage. After I ride, I'll probably just do water until I either switch to beer (if XC follows dressage) or switch to Gatorade if it's just a show jumping day. Once I'm finished with dressage and show jumping, I might have whatever my friends start passing around at the end of the day, or I might break out a bottle of Riesling and chill it while I clean up around the barn, feed Eddie, walk my XC, and then bed down the pony for the night. Some of the best and cheapest Rieslings are Chateau Ste. Michelle (US) and Lindeman's (Australia). If I don't bring my own bottle of wine, then I will drink whatever is free and flowing at the competitors party (which is usually Barefoot, another good and cheap option, especially their shiraz) and hang out with my friends. Since I only ride BN/N, if XC is on the final day, I usually don't go until the afternoon, so I will start my day again with coffee, switch to water or Gatorade, then chug a beer after I have a quick lunch before I get on to warm-up for XC. This gives me just the right amount of warm-fuzzy to have a blast on course, without putting me in danger of being even close to intoxicated (my friends will tell you that Red Bull is probably more dangerous for me to drink before XC than just one beer!). Some of my favorite beers include Blue Moon Belgian White (with a slice of orange), Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat, Carolina Blonde, and Fat Tire (I love the Skinny Dip!). When I finish XC, I will have another beer, then maybe (if I'm lucky and my friend Kelsey is competing at the same event) we will have one of her mother's famous vodka Gimlets and all will be well with the world. 

Beer, boat, float, lake on River Glen weekend in TN (2010)

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