Monday, 18 January 2021

Charles Owen MS1 Pro Review

 I’m not sure if “review” is the right title for this. Helmet fit is such an individual thing, so I expect that you’re really going to have to look and try things on for yourself!

That being said, a few of you were interested in my new helmet, and I can tell you how it's working for me! I took a few extra pictures of it this weekend and will do my best to describe my initial impressions of it.

First thing you need to know: the black version doesn't come with a cover. You need to order that separately if you don't have one. They do come in some pretty neat colors for a bit more $ though, and those options come with a black cover included. 

Leather harness that's pretty secure feeling and comfortable despite how substantial it looks.

Underside shows you the construction - outer shell, foam, MIPS liner (yellow), and removable washable liner.
Inside.

As you can see from the underside, while this is a nice enough helmet, it's not super fancy. I'm 99.9% sure this is the JS1 helmet with MIPS added. And maybe I'm just too cheap, but there's ~$125 difference for that flimsy yellow piece of plastic. I'll pay it, because the research makes sense to me and I assume that's what I'm paying for. You might want to do your own search on helmet testing and technology though and make your own choices. Sadly, there's not as much impartial info out there as maybe there should be. 

This particular model has SEI certification to ASTM F1163-15, Kitemarks to VG1 01-040 2014-12 and PAS015:2011, and a CE mark to VG1 01-040 2014-12. The JS1 Pro is ASTM F1163-15, PAS015:2011, VG1 01-040 2014-12 according to the Charles Owen website.

Overall, I really like the fit and feel of this helmet. I ended up with a 58 round fit, and while I don't really have trouble finding helmets that fit well, this is probably the first that is comfortable enough I actually forget it's on. It's not summer yet, but we've had a very mild January (12 degrees Celsius yesterday) and I've had some good rides in it where I've been down to a t-shirt and still found it light and comfortable feeling. It feels like a nice compromise between the bigger, more expensive xc helmets and a lighter, ventilated schooling helmet.

Helmet in action.

Helmet modeling is not my calling ;)


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Friday, 15 January 2021

I'm Fine, She's Fine, We're All Fine

 I haven't ridden Sophie since mid December and that's proving to be a bit of gossip fodder. Since bloggers and blog followers are the best, you all understand that sometimes life just happens and there's no drama to report. We're cool like that.


B doing her part to add a little interest to this post

S really, really needed a regular schedule (ideally 5 days a week or more) this winter, which I was struggling to provide given extra Christmas work hours and the lack of daylight/indoor arena to use. Then I fell (not her fault) and needed 3 weeks off. Finally, last week I was mucking out by flashlight at 5:00 in the latest monsoon, dodging falling tree branches, and I kind of just lost the will to live. 

OK, that's a bit dramatic :), but I've decided to let things sit for another couple of weeks until daylight is a bit more of our friend again and I can get out often enough to be fair to her. I have friend R lined up to ride her a couple of days a week as well, which should be very helpful.


That time before Christmas the sun came out a little

Anyway, I've been feeling kind of guilty because I had hoped to keep working hard this winter and put lots of miles on, but S is still quite green and silly due to lack of work. I know it's not cool to compare yourself or your horse's progress to others, but I'm human and I do look around and feel a little behind the norm (whatever that is!)  Add in a bit of gossip and pushiness and I get a bit frustrated. I'm an adult! Why do I still sometimes feel like I'm in high school?


Like an adorable, excitable puppy, this one.

I have still been riding Bridget of course, because she's just fine with a couple of days off then hacking down the road in the rain in the dark. I feel sometimes with the two of them the expectation is that S will eventually be like B, but they are two completely different beings. B pretty much came just as she is, the type you could probably pull out of a field 5 years from now and go for a jump school. But, as I learned, in a 5 day a week schedule she quickly becomes sour and unhappy - she really enjoys her down time.  That's why I went looking for something like S. So, again to the gossipers, I'm riding B because I'm lazy and it's easy to just pull her out of the field and go. S needs more time, because she's young. I haven't made the time, but I will once the days are a little longer - no conspiracy theories here.


Recent weekend outing with B

In other Bridget news, I've actually booked appointments! We are so far out at this point, but I've got an ultrasound booked with the traveling vet for mid May (along with teeth and vaccinations - I wouldn't have thought of it but doing teeth/sedatives after she's in foal isn't ideal and would have to wait for after baby). Anyway, the thinking is we will ultrasound, see where she's at, then either take her to Vancouver Island where the traveling vet works from, or she'll stay here and I'll have meds to short cycle her, then we'll take her over. This is all so new to me, so I was pretty happy when the vet mentioned having a package type deal that includes almost everything. I like having numbers to work with and being able to budget! 

I think B knows I'm planning something involving her

Another thing I of course hadn't thought of is that since we are doing AI from a stallion across the country she needs to be near-ish to a major airport. Luckily, she will be. I've got boarding arranged over there while the vet does her thing, then B will come back here and the vet will come to us for checkups, etc. I'm happy with this plan because it means B will just be away anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks and then she can come home until closer to foaling time. 

Final update: the neverending trailer saga. I just got a quote for a new one. Waiting to see when it will be in stock, tentative plan is to pick up in early April.









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Friday, 8 January 2021

Rain, Rain, Go Away

 It's that time of year. If we're lucky it just rains, if we're unlucky we get some nice hurricane winds added to make sure the damp gets into everything.

Since I've moved home this is the time of year where I seriously question owning horses. The pastures are off limits, their smaller paddocks are really muddy, and this year even their shelters had rain blow all the way in a couple of times. It's dark way too early and riding is a weekend thing if you can find a break in the weather. It's awful. This year, with the pandemic, we don't even have an indoor to rent on a regular basis.


The pastures might be able to home a small, freshwater loving one right now.  ;)

You may recall I had a really dumb fall and a concussion mid December, which actually timed out OK given the lack of riding opportunity the last few weeks have given us. I needed time off with lingering migraines and sore neck, so I have just got Bridget out a couple of times since Christmas. Of course I do make sure both ponies get a lunge or turnout in the drier round pens every day.

Tis the season for dark and blurry indoor arena photos. This might have been last week. maybe the week before?

I'm finally feeling back to normal and my new MIPS helmet for schooling arrived in the mail Wednesday, so I've tentatively put out feelers to get our little riding group meeting again on Saturdays. Turns out even my most die hard friend said she hadn't ridden since the end of November, but we're going to give a go again this weekend. Can't wait.




Helmet arrived without a hat silk/helmet cover, so it's going to be a look.


Last night's sky had a bit of blue in it. It's raining again this morning, but maybe we will see sunshine tomorrow!

A funny story to finish out.

The wind and rain was really epic the other night, so when I pulled into the barn I was surprised to see Bridget standing out in her paddock rather than in her stall. (I do worry about tree braches coming down, but she's normally quite sensible about putting herself away in the barn when the weather's bad, so I leave her gate open) She gave me the saddest whinny ever. Like Disney worthy - she never whinnies or vocalizes but even I was like "Bridget says something is very, very wrong"

A closer investigation showed the top door on her stall had given in to the wind and was hanging off one last hinge and dangling into her stall, banging loudly every time the wind gusted. Poor B was absolutely disgusted with that situation. Being B, though, as soon as I removed the offending object she was back to her normal self and looking for dinner.

You know who lives right next door to B and ignored both B's warnings and the super loud, random banging? Sophie. My spooky, silly pony was bone dry, standing in her stall waiting for dinner, totally unworried that it sounded like a sledgehammer was coming through the wall next to her hay net. The same pony who just about fell over when she spooked at a car door slamming 400' away. 


Doing best unicorn imitation

Hmm.





 



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Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Breeding B Part 1- The Post That Turned Into A Novel (Sorry!)

Following up on my New Years goals, we're planning for a foal!

I know it's early days, but I am just so freaking excited. The realist in me knows that maybe my big scheme of having a foal in 2022 will work out, maybe it won't. Last year our plans were put on hold due to the pandemic, this year, who knows. I live quite far from everything so we'll definitely be affected if there are any restrictions in place - I'm planning for B to go live in Vancouver for a little while while the vets (hopefully) work the magic. Part of me wanted to just update things once there is some real progress and the pony is in foal, but I like the idea of just documenting everything in real time, for better or worse.  I'm a total newbie to all of this so taking notes is a good thing.

I know some of you will think I'm crazy to breed, some will be excited. If you're the former, please be assured I've been thinking on this for years, have got multiple professional opinions and it's not an impulsive decision. I've taken in a few rescues and bought a few projects and while I'd never discourage anyone from doing either, I don't think it's for me anymore. I kind of want what I want these days. As far as purchasing the little Welsh D of my dreams, I've been looking for years and not found anything as fun and sensible as Bridget. I don't think people sell those ones. Of course you know I bought Sophie a couple of years ago to one day fill Bridget's shoes, but I'll just be honest - I love Sophie, and I think I'll have a lot of fun with her, but I regret not just breeding Bridget then.


In the wayback time machine, a 5 year old Bridget, this must have been one of our first rides.

ANYWAY.  Now that we've decided a foal is hopefully going to be a thing, the next big decision is choosing a stallion.

You might remember this was a plan last year, so I had already planned and discussed things with the vet and some experienced breeders a year ago. Then Covid happened and it was honestly a bit of a relief because I was still undecided between a couple of different stallion and vet options.

An extra year to think on things (plus the experience of starting Sophie) really helped me clarify what I'm looking for.

I know B looks chunky and clunky, but like so many Welsh D's she's actually quite athletic. But, when I was looking at similar types to her I couldn't find anything available to Canada that had much of a competition record or training beyond what she has. It's important to me the stallion has some kind of moderately successful ridden career, because at the end of the day I want to ride! Bonus points if it's got a prettier neck and shorter back than B and can jump a little too.  North Forks Cardi was an obvious choice, but delving into that a little more and asking some opinions from people I trust, he and Bridget are just a bit too closely related for comfort.


Apparently I don't take conformation pics of B, but you can see she's not got the most elegant of necks.

That got me looking at some pretty fancy warmblood and TB options. Some of the stallions I was looking at actually had Welsh Cob crosses on the ground and they are absolutely incredible, fantastic looking prospects. In a case of it truly being a small world, Sophie's breeder had one and was the top scored foal in NA. So, that option was (and is) pretty darn tempting.


I do love a bay with a white blaze tho, let's add that to the wish list.

As I was chatting with breeders, though, I kept coming back to the fact that I've realized while it's fun to ride those sharp, forward thinking, extravagant movers who need a job, I am the person who is equally likely to want to noodle over to the lake bareback in a halter and might spend an hour ride just walking and chatting with friends. I'm not really in any sort of program, my work schedule is weird, and there are times I can barely keep up with the averagely sharp thinking and nicely moving baby Sophie :)


About as wild as she gets.

I think what it boils down to is what I've known all along - that B is really more than athletic enough for me and my dressage and low level eventing goals, is a perfect all arounder for me, but she's lacking the work ethic/drive to be consistent moving up further, at least competition wise. I'd be more than happy with a Bridget 2.0, but a Bridget with a bit more go and a bigger desire to please her rider would be epic. I really don't think I need to prioritize the huge modern moving dressage pony/horse end of the stallion spectrum. If I was thinking future resale, the fancy small warmblood stallion would be a no brainer, but since this is just for me a trainable, willing mind is key and I'm not averse to cobby pony types :)


Anyway, we are nearing the end of this novel.

 I finally made a decision. In my quest to make a Bridget 2.0, I've ended up choosing this guy:




Stibby! They are of a type and height, so a better than average chance I'm just going to get another sporty round pony in the 14.1-14.2hh range. Probably with a cute white nose too - priorities, everyone :D He's got a super competition record and work ethic. He's still going strong at 19, which is nice - soundness and longevity are good things! I got excellent feedback from everyone I talked to about his temperament, and I really liked the video and descriptions from those who know him. They make him sound like a more trainable and motivated Bridget which really sold me - I like her, quirks and all, so I suspect I'd like him since it sounds like they've got a lot about life that they'd agree on ;) It's not going to be the trendiest, fanciest foal, but I have a really good feeling about my decision.



Finally, I've got to give a huge shout out to all the breeders out there who were completely honest with me re: their stallion's temperaments and what they tend to pass along. They could have easily told me what I wanted to hear. I was all over the map this past year with Welsh Cobs and German Riding Ponies and Thoroughbreds and warmbloods and a couple of breeders really went the extra mile to discuss it all with me. I felt really intimidated to chat with some of them because I'm really so unknowledgeable and am a nobody with a pretty average mare as far as breeding sport ponies goes, but everyone was so kind and helpful. No one ever made me feel like I was wasting their time with questions. 

Moving on to step 2 - I've got a bit of paperwork and veterinary appointments to sort in the next couple of months! This is all a little nerve wracking for a newbie, but fingers crossed the end result will be well worth the effort.




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Saturday, 2 January 2021

Welcome, 2021

I’ve got about a million and one equestrian things on my goal and to do lists, but everything feels so uncertain right now I feel like the best things for me to focus on in the next few months are keeping flexible, patient, and open minded.

My husband’s work shut down last March and hasn’t restarted. He’s thinking about just taking a very early retirement or maybe doing something new. I’m on the opposite side of the coin with lots of current opportunity. I’m also 10 years younger :) We’re both open to relocating. I don’t think either of us have really wrapped our heads around what that will look like yet. So, while I might very well be sitting here in the same place next year writing 2022 goals, I’m not feeling overly certain of that. Planning for 2021 feels difficult, especially when so much of my momentum in 2020 came from thinking locally and all the real estate investment, career planning, and equestrian goals that went along with that. 

Sums it up perfectly. From The Oatmeal

So, this might be a good time to just check in with the big picture horsey things:

- I very much want to ride upper level dressage. Not competitively, but I dream of one day having the knowledge and ability to take my (probably average) horse or pony to a show and put in a respectable test.


Sophie? Are you game for getting me closer to that goal? Time will tell!

-I do miss jumping. I absolutely loved the taste of eventing I had. While I in no way want to move up or be “serious” about it, taking Bridget to events and camps remain some of my favourite horsey weekends ever and something I’d love to do again with another horse or pony.




-I think long term I want to have the horses at home. There have been times where I’ve lived somewhere with great boarding and amenities and have been quite happy, but more often than not, I miss having them at home. Plus, I very much enjoy design and renovation so setting me loose on another acreage project would be my idea of heaven. 


I want a little white farmhouse somewhere in my future 

-I’d love a Bridget foal. 2020 travel restrictions meant I put that on hold, but I just love her and still want to try. The last couple of years she’s really come out of her shell and been that epic combination of super safe and fun all at once. While she’s not exceptional at anything, she’s sporty and game enough to try, and I like to imagine Future T out there with Bridget 2.0, doing all the things adequately and smiling the whole time. I even have this silly vision of Future Granny T living her best life with a Bridget 3.0...can I dream of being that lucky?


A lifetime supply of Bridgets, please

If we work backward from the big picture, there are lots of things I can do in 2021 to inch ever closer, even with global pandemics and personal uncertainty.

- Keep on riding, keep on learning as much as possible. Online shows if I have to. Keep putting small amounts of money aside every month for future lessons and shows, one day we’ll be back out there. 

- Start Sophie over small courses. While I’m not sure she’s brave enough (for me) to event or be a super all rounder, she’s been quite willing through the poles and grids we’ve set so far.

- if we’re moving, do my best research and go somewhere where we can align career/current assets and cost of living effectively. Horse friendly area obviously a must :) Otherwise, scale dreams appropriately and invest wisely in current town. 

- I’m already chatting to stallion owners (eek!) but obviously there is a bit more than that to organize this year if B is going to have a Mini B in Spring 2022. 


I just love this guy and have been a fan forever,  but decisions are hard and I haven’t quite committed yet.





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