Sunday 31 August 2014

So Happy!

I made it to the barn this morning to see the ponies - they're both looking great.
I took Bridget out today, so I'll give her today's post and give a Ginger update tomorrow in order to not have the longest post ever!

I had thought that today I'd just get all my tack organized and unpacked, try a bunch of stuff on Bridget to see what I have that fits, and both Ginger and Bridget groomed and tidied up. Ginger especially is looking a little bit wild and woolly. Slight change of plans, because trying all my gear on Bridget ended with a pony who was tacked up and ready to head for a ride. Of course I couldn't resist.

Of course I had to ride!
Mindful that I was heading out alone on a 'strange' horse, I opted to walk her up to the ring for a quick ride in there and see how it went. The answer to that is maybe 'not so good' by standard riding pony definitions, and exceeded all expectations by mine.

She's super green, so the steering and whoa/go are all a little sketchy. It's not that she's not trying, she just doesn't have a clue. My saddle also felt like it wanted to roll around a little, which made me a bit cautious. Good news is that we had all the forward in the world, it was the whoa button that she felt should be optional this time. Somewhere along the way she has learnt to do the giraffe thing with her head, and also turn her head to your boot as a way to evade contact and to try to get out of bending/travelling in the direction you'd like. Interesting. As a result of that we had an impromptu lesson in moving shoulders over. Pony did not like this turn of events, but wasn't too bad about it and got the basic idea in a few minutes. The whole contact thing is going to be a huge work in progress - she has a problem with the whole concept, even if you pick up the tiniest bit of rein.  I'm guessing she learnt all this in her driving days? There's no way she was trying them out for the first time today. I know the lady that rode her a couple of times at the barn just used a halter, maybe there was a reason for that! I rode her in her bridle when I tried her out and figured there would be a lot of work there, but didn't test all the buttons so to speak. No matter, I knew I was getting a project, so long as she's 'safe' it's all good. I'll try a few more bits and see if there's one she likes better, other than that we have just have some work ahead of us.We did a bunch of walk/halt transitions, some attempts at bending and a bit of wobbly trot.  In order to keep it fun, I got her out of the ring fairly quickly and just explored the neighbourhood.

Happy ears (also, look G! Riding with no hands while I take pictures! lol)

She did great, just one small spook, and cruised along walk/trot quite happily on a fairly busy road. The roads and trails also act as a cheater way to keep her going straight :)

I say she exceeded my expectations because I took her out in an area that's completely new to her, she doesn't really know me at all, this was just her 5th ride under saddle, I pushed her buttons a little, and we went out alone in busy/spooky surroundings after her having about a month off. She was a bit 'up' but was not worried in the least about her herd mates, and was pretty cool with the situation. I absolutely love the mind on her - she's fun, as far as 'hotness' goes, today she'd have been an equivalent to an average day for Ginger. She definitely notices all the same stuff Ginger spooks at, the difference is that you can feel her thinking things through before she decides her plan of action. Ginger is more apt to blindly react and scare herself. With Bridget, I feel like I should encourage her to check everything out and `de-spook`herself, with Ginger the better option is usually to keep her busy and focused on her rider, letting the scary things be on the periphery until she's convinced they're not going to attack. They`re so similar, but so different. They`re going to be such a neat pair to own!
Enjoying a post ride roll
Ginger wants to say hi, but Bridget is too busy eating. 
Sign on her door. Bridget the Small Welsh Cob. Guess who's a 'Large Welsh Cob'? I love the owners, they're so cute.
I can't wait to get back to the barn tomorrow. Cross your fingers for decent weather...there is a lot of this out there at the moment:
Summer on the coast :)


Saturday 30 August 2014

Just About

After some epic marathon driving, less than 24 hours after I left my desk at work I'm in BC sitting in the ferry line up waiting to go home. (Which as locals know means I could be potentially still be out here another 24 hours ;) I'm so excited to be (nearly) home! I have a couple of trail rides planned tomorrow...stay tuned!

I drove past this sign last night just as  the weather went from sunshine on the Alberta side to absolutely foul right before the border. Pretty funny, BC, pretty funny, but the picture of the sun and your reassurances aren't fooling me this time. I'm on to you :)

Thursday 28 August 2014


Hey guys, I've had this post queued in various forms for a while now and have gone back and forth over whether to put it out there. I like to leave G out of the blog beyond the basics, but since this
is horse related and affecting some related decisions and also probably something a lot of you deal with, here it is:


When it's not your own. It's such a funny thing and it's one thing to deal with it yourself, but then what about those around you? I can't be the only one out there with someone close to me who really worries about me getting hurt.

G is pretty much the best. Super supportive, fun, and just an all around nice guy. Being super supportive of the horses changed a lot though after I had a bit of a fall a couple of years back. It didn't help that I lost a lot of confidence that year too. I know he was seriously wondering what the point of it all was when I was struggling so much with something that was supposed to be fun. These days, he still understands how much I love the sport and would never ask me not to do something I love, but he's a lot more reserved about the whole idea. He's changed from listening to me and encouraging all my big plans, to asking how safe I will be first.

I'm not laying it all on his doorstep - my struggles with confidence are well documented here and I know he doesn't want to see me back there. This is a partnership and I can't ignore his concerns. We've obviously discussed this more than once, and he's very much concerned that I'm going to be badly hurt at some point.

Where to from here? No horse or horse related activity is ever going to be 'safe' by conventional standards. I miss my over the top, enthusiastic cheerleader and am sad that he (quietly) worries so much about me.

What we have done together is to make the decision to bring Bridget home.  A good part of the reason Bridget is here is because of G. I love her, but she's not Ginger.  However, the idea of her (small, quiet, non intimidating) makes G happy. He was very much involved in the decision making. He also made it possible to purchase her. I told you he's a good guy. I hope that having him so involved and contributing to some of my decisions is a good start and that as time goes on, we'll both be back to a good place as far as the horses go.

So, back to the original do you handle those types of concerns, particularly with someone very close to you?

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Happy Ponies

You can see why the motivation to buy our own farm has dried up for the time being...the ponies are boarded in horse paradise! Just wish they weren't quite so chubby :)

From this weekend. Apparently you need a bay horse to fit in around here! Bridget is on the far left, and Ginger is the next one over in the centre of the photo.
Bridget and Ginger are already BFF's which G and I each predicted would happen when we met Bridget. Bridget is basically a mini Lainey temperament wise - calm, cool and quietly confident. The leader of the herd without even appearing to try for it.  Long time readers will know Lainey is my previous horse and was Ginger's entire reason for being for the years they lived together. Normally bottom of the pecking order, Ginger enjoyed 'second in command' status in the mare herd thanks to being Lainey's best friend. It will be interesting to see how this new dynamic plays out, because Ginger was much more confident and relaxed around the farm with Lainey watching over her world. If Bridget can replicate that she'll be worth her weight in gold to me!

Back when Ginger was Lainey's minion. Note the one ear on Lainey: "Lainey, we are posing for pictures, yes?"


Monday 25 August 2014

Transformation Blog Hop!

Yay, another excellent blog idea! Thanks to Niamh at Life of Riley for the blogging inspiration.

Since I tend to super shy/weird about my picture being taken I have very few riding shots that aren't posed. I am working on changing that, since I really regret not being able to look back and see my progress over the years, in particular with Ginger.

So, you get to see Ginger grow up and mature instead. (Which, lets be honest, is a lot more fun!)

Baby Ginger:

Yearling Ginger:

Just turned 3 year old Ginger (from her sale ad):
So cute!

4 year old:

5 years (and in regular training/riding so nice and fit)

6 years - starting to tank out.

7 years this old this summer: Beast mode :)


Sunday 24 August 2014

Shopping Day/Wish List Update

Greenhawk had a big sale this past weekend, so I went ahead and looked for a couple of things from my wish list. You're a bad influence, Lauren...once I made the list it's like a duty or something to buy everything, right? ;)

First off, I decided on a (much needed) breastplate:

There were other options available, but this one seemed the best value - nicer quality, and on a serious sale. Fingers crossed that it fits both ponies!They had a beautiful Antares one at many times the price, but my budget just can't justify the price difference when the one I got is perfectly nice and functional. They had cheaper ones as well, but I felt like they didn't have the nicest leather, and the stitching and fittings looked cheap to me as well, like they might not last. I'm happy with my middle of the road choice. I'm undecided about the colored elastic, preferring a more traditional look, but I think the elastic is the practical choice when I'm trying to fit two very different horses and we're doing a lot of trail miles. My only critique so far is the leather is a bit stiff, and without any sheepskin on the centre piece I worry it could rub before it breaks in. Pretty sure I saw sheepskin attachments for just that purpose somewhere though...for the price I can afford to purchase some separately. 

Next up, a failure to stay with the program, I bought some stirrup leathers I didn't need, but they're pretty! They match the new breastplate and the saddle I use on Ginger (and hopefully Bridget). I have the identical ones in the lighter color below for my other saddle, and am really happy with them. From a functional point of view, I love the lower profile/narrower leathers, and aesthetically I like the contrasting stitching.  Again, on sale.
Like so, but darker color matching the above breastplate/my stubben saddle.
I also picked up some other sale odds and ends: new bell boots, a dressage whip, and a halter for Miss Bridget.

The Ariat shirt I want was on sale for 25% off, and the boots were 15% off, but I held out, at least for today. No helmets on sale, so I'm also still waiting there too, and getting more and more indecisive about what I want. Quarter sheet was also not happening today - they don't stock anything remotely reflective.

Grand total spent today :$140 for everything (so cheap because all items were marked down a minimum of 50%) For anyone keeping track (Hi G ;), that's $60 less than my original budget for just a new breastplate. So I am excused for buying all the extra stuff I don't need, right?

If you're like me and would love some extra $ for tack shopping, don't forget to enter Cob Jockey's most excellent contest. If you don't read her blog, you should. Go check it out - it's excellent. The contest is just a nice bonus.


Saturday 23 August 2014

Lookin Good!

I know I've mentioned Ginger's best friend/boyfriend/pasture mate Mac on the blog before, but I don't know if I've posted any pics of them together. Here's a pic from a recent ride, which shows how similar in build they are. He's a working bred Morgan and Ginger is of course a Welsh Cob:

They're both looking great. I hope Ginger was on her best behavior today as her rider here is a super nice person who I'd love to keep lending Ginger to. (I cropped the lovely rider's heads out of the pic so they aren't unsuspecting blog subjects.)


Friday 22 August 2014

Learning By Doing

I've gone a little crazy and just signed Bridget and myself up for a clinic the weekend after next - or exactly 5 days after I get home. I usually tell my friends it's silly to practice too much or try to be perfect for a clinic and I'd rather bring myself 'warts and all', so it looks like I'll be putting my money where my mouth is!

I think this is going to be an excellent first clinic for us. It's just a generic western horsemanship/extreme trail type clinic. It's located just up the road from the farm, which is a major bonus - I can just ride there!  I'll probably be the only one in english tack, but they're used to that.  I signed up for the trail challenge portion of the clinic which is just tackling the obstacles one by one with the clinician there to help. Go as fast or as slow as you need, no pressure :) The farm owner has some awesome obstacles set up, including a teeter totter and a log pile bank/water complex.
Cowboy edited out since this is not my photo of the bank.
The extreme trail thing is admittedly not something I can see myself really getting into (I really think that bank would be better used for eventing ;) but I do think it will be a great way to try new things with Bridget and build a partnership. I know some people disagree, but I like getting really green horses out doing stuff right away rather than getting them going really well in the ring first. As soon as they have a good whoa and a bit of steering, off we go! I feel like they gain a lot more confidence that way and it's easier for them to stay interested and understand the purpose to what I'm asking them to do (like if you don't move off my leg we're going to end up in that big muddy spot or we'll never get that gate open to go home! :). It's also easier for me to stay interested and focused on the task at hand.

Big sister Ginger may also be called up for assistance. She's ponied before, and for all her quirks, she is actually a pretty solid trail horse.
I may bring Ginger on Sunday for a lesson as well, depending on where she's at mentally. True to form, she's entirely put out about there being new horses on the property and is stressing her pretty face off. I worry about her but she did need to lose weight anyways, so there's a small upside. The other horses are all over it and ignoring her antics, which is sad and funny all at the same time. Hopefully we'll be able to have her sharing a pasture with everyone soon - she's out with her boyfriend, but can only talk with everyone else over the fence. Since the new horses are dominant to her and ignore her and refuse to come to the fence every time she tries to stir up some drama, she's been getting weird about it and pacing and not eating and generally being a nuisance.

In any case, my friend is riding after the trail portion of the clinic and we've shared lessons in the past. We'll see how it goes - I've heard great feedback about this guy, but I'd like to see for myself before I sign Ginger up. I'm leaving it open since past experience has taught me big changes and/or time off for Ginger equals a speedy return to her "wild pony of the West" persona, and unlike Ginger, I hate being the center of attention! We might have to go through the whole pretending to be an untrained horse thing for a week or two until she magically wakes up one morning and remembers her job! 'Miracles', we've got them :) There's no rush for her, since there is a different clinic the following weekend, then the Fall Fair fun day the weekend after that, so along with regular lessons and trail rides, we've got no shortage of outings in the month of September. I've even found a clinician who comes once a month or so and will teach jumper/eventing clinics...looks like I know where my spare cash is going for the foreseeable future!

We've got nowhere to go but up :)


Wednesday 20 August 2014

See You Later, Checkers!

Time sure flies! I just got back from my last lesson here in Edmonton, I`m very sad to say goodbye to Checkers (I`d be lying if I said I didn`t try to bring her home with me!), but if she`s taught me anything over the last few months it`s that I need to keep looking forward to where I`m going and kick on and enjoy the ride - it`s bound to be a whole lot of fun!


Monday 18 August 2014

Only One More!

There's just one more lesson left this summer. I'm really sad about that. When I signed up for lessons 6 months ago, I was thinking it would be a fun thing to do a couple of times a week. I didn't have any huge expectations - more just wanted saddle time to keep my sanity and lessen the frustration of leaving Ginger at home . If I could get some more solid jumping basics, that would be a bonus.  It was a pleasant surprise to luck into a barn with such amazing lesson horses, and a huge surprise just a few months later to find that my current riding and confidence levels have surpassed anything I really considered myself capable of.

 I'm pretty sad to leave it all behind just when I feel like I'm really finding the groove and really starting to fit in to such a great barn community. Still, I miss home and I'm leaving for even better horsey adventures. Whatever happens, I've gained a renewed passion for the sport, and the unforgettable experience of what a great horse and a good round feels like. I'm also taking away the knowledge that I can do this - hard work and determination really is a recipe for improvement :)

Heading back from a lesson on Splash, summer 2014


Sunday 17 August 2014

Pony Eye Candy Sunday

This guy shares the same dam as Ginger. Link to sale ad HERE. I see just a bit of a family resemblance:

The video is even more do they ever have the same way of going, both in the paddock and under saddle:


Saturday 16 August 2014

Bridget is Home!

The barn owners reported last night that Bridget arrived and basically marched right in to her stall and started eating her hay quite happily. No drama at all. The hauler reported she was easy to haul and deal with as well. What a relief for me to hear! With Ginger being so high stress it will be welcome news if Bridget requires a little less attention and time settling in to new places and situations. Is it too early to hope her confident little self will not only be a help for Ginger, but me as well? In exactly two weeks I'll start to find out. I'll be at the barn saying hi to the girls myself! I've missed my Ginger mare more than I can describe, and I'm really look forward to getting to know Bridget better.
Looking for Ginger out in the field. Bridget Jones is slightly chubby, so has to stay in the diet pen.
 It's killing me that I can't be there, so G made a trip out to the barn this afternoon to say hi to the girls and stuff them with treats. G called me while he was there and the first thing he said was "She's NICE. She reminds me of Lainey!" Lainey was G's favorite horse ever, so I think Bridget and him will get along just fine. The fact he sent me about 20 pictures of Bridget and just 1 of Ginger also tells me he may have found a new favorite ;) Since Ginger and I are best buddies, it's only right Bridget should have an admirer in G.

This one is funny to me because the angle of it gives you an idea of Bridget's size in comparison to the photographer, 6'5" G. I bet they look cute together! ("You make that horse look so tiny and cute!" is not what he wants to hear, I'm sure :)


Thursday 14 August 2014

Confidence Level : MAXIMUM

In keeping with the 'less two point, more fun' theme we seem to be having this summer, our ride last night was fairly unstructured. The back story to the more relaxed atmosphere is that the barn is currently running at half speed for the summer. Lots of people are away competing, the lesson horses are getting a bit of a break, and the instructors are taking some vacation time. Wednesday nights are currently the only lessons.

Tonight, it was decided we'd do team relay jump offs. I was admittedly confused by this, but the concept is actually simple. We were given a partner and a course of twelve jumps. You have to jump the course in the correct order, but who jumps what portion(s) of it is up to your team. Fastest time wins. I'm horrible at remembering courses, so to be told I need to remember the course, but only jump some parts of it was doubly hard. I was pretty sure we were going to lose based on my navigation skills alone :) I was also feeling a little intimidated because the other riders in the group are definitely more advanced than me. I was aware of being the partner no one was going to want to end up with, and was reminded that I'd need to try to be brave and canter ALL the fences and gallop in between them lol.

I needn't have worried - Checkers and I came through and our team won the first round! Go Checkers! There was room for improvement, though - my rollback was sloppy and we got a bit bogged down coming out of the turn. I also timed my last line a little funny and ended up in a less than optimal place to start and wasted a couple of seconds. On to round two!
Number 1 Checkers warming up for round 2. Just kidding, it's her stunt double -a mystery horse from one of our trips to Vancouver.

Checkers had the idea by now, and was doing what she does best - flying! She NAILED the rollback, but sadly we surprised everyone with our quickness to the next fence and ended up having to go wide to avoid my teammate who had expected to cross my line ahead of me. No matter, we made up our new course on the fly and Checkers was game. My poor teammate ended up having issues mid course with her over excited pony, but Checkers made up for it with a really quick last section of the course. We didn't win the last round, but I'm super proud of Checkers for making it close even with all the issues we had. She was definitely the fastest horse there and the star of the hour. We had a few people pretty surprised. I can see why she was a successful show jumper in her past life. She's a big mare with a huge stride, but she's also surprisingly quick and agile through her turns. Even though I don't necessarily have the experience to see and adjust strides from way out, the majority of the time I'm able to do it with Checkers just because I'm so familiar with her and where she likes to be. Of course, it helps that she's super honest and really I just need to be brave and hang on and let her take care of business!
The real Checkers enjoying a treat post ride

It was a super win for my confidence, and I'm sure Checkers knew she owned the course :) I needn't ever be concerned again about her getting too fast or over jumping - we did all of that and while it may not have been 'hunter' pretty, it was fun and no one even got close to getting in trouble.

I don't think I've ever had quite so much fun in the saddle- there's a lot to be said for running around like an idiot on a horse who's on your side 100% :)
Best red mare.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Shipping Date, Check! Winter Lessons, Check!

Things magically fell into place the other day and little Miss Bridget will be moving in with Ginger on Friday. I'm really excited, so now it's going to be even more difficult to be all responsible and put in my last two weeks of work. Work asked me today about taking on another project in the future and I was like "No. We cannot discuss this right now. My brain is full of horses and I must go home." lol I don't think they understand the self control I'm exercising just to refrain from hopping in my truck right now! I'd so love to see G and Ginger and be there for the arrival of Bridget. Hopefully the next two weeks will pass quickly and I'll be home before I know it.
Time machine Ginger wearing a drunken party hat in 2011. Obviously an excellent choice of picture for such a happy post. 

There's even more good news today because Bridget is hitching a ride home with the dressage coach who is moving to my barn! I was so excited she might move to my town, and we'd finally have a legit coach. It turns out she's moving to the same barn as me! So excited, although now I will have zero excuses not to get Ms Gingersnap and myself back into lessons and out to some dressage shows.
Lainey. Far too serious to ever pose with a hat, but all bets are off when there is food involved. Got an update recently from her old lease girl/new owner that she's doing really well in the jumpers this year. Yay, for her going to the best home!


Monday 11 August 2014


Due to a rather funny misunderstanding, I recently paid for a membership in a club I knew nothing much about, beyond the fact that our local group put on a really great weekend ride/party once every summer.

So, you're looking at the newest member of the Backcountry Horsemen.

I'm hoping to attend a trail riding/campout weekend mid September that's combined with an extreme trail clinic. Sounds like a fun time for me, and a great experience for either one of the ponies.

After reading through the provincial chapter's website, I'm actually pretty excited. They host a lot of great weekends throughout the year, and have tons of organized rides and educational events. Readers of this blog know I do love my trail riding and both ponies are in need of some exposure to bigger events, so this is an obvious fit. Sometimes I think those funny misunderstandings are meant to be.


Sunday 10 August 2014


I had nothing on the agenda for yesterday, so I ended up venturing up to Northlands Park for a thoroughbred fix. The weather was gorgeous, and the sun shining. It was a nice surprise to see that instead of the standard benches they've got hundreds of patio style couches and chairs set up all along in front of the grandstand, encouraging people to just hang out. What an excellent idea!

I for one, snagged a nice chair with an umbrella and snuggled in with a drink and good book to read (The Hearts of Horses - Molly Gloss) between races. A nice afternoon well spent!


Wednesday 6 August 2014

Super Powers

It's so, so humid here this summer. Temperature wise, it currently feels like we're living in Central America, except instead of being smart and staying in the shade with refreshing drinks all afternoon, us crazy Canadians are all like "but we only get 3 months without snow! We HAVE to ride today - Look, Checkers is even shedding her summer coat!" Cue internal panic and desperate thoughts of frozen arenas. Everyone then rushes out the door with the mindset that this could be our last jump school before the snow so we're going to ride. And we're going to have fun and enjoy the sunshine gosh darn it. ;)

At least as a result of our craziness dedication, I've learned I have a super power! Sadly, it's nothing to be overly proud of: I sweat more than anyone I know. No ladylike glow here, my shirt is soaked through before I'm even done tacking up. It's pretty nasty. And then I ride, and I'm basically a mobile puddle. Nothing too sexy about that, but hey, we all have to start somewhere. I promise to use my powers for good rather than evil.  Checkers obviously has the better super power - she can fly! She's so much fun because you can always pretty much guarantee she'll overjump anything by at least a foot, and she loves any excuse to go for a long distance and leave out strides as well. All the better for getting more air time, of course :)

Simulated version of actual events ;)
Tonight, though, Checkers made it abundantly clear that the heat is her kryptonite. My normally forward, can't stand still girl was plugging along like an actual lesson horse. While I missed the 'fun' Checkers, I did have an easier time of things as far as looking like I know what I'm doing. I took advantage of her quietness and worked a little on the downward transitions that she normally dislikes, but kept it all pretty low key. The old girl deserves an easy ride now and then and doesn't need to prove anything. With an unusally sedate Checkers not trying for the long distances and not overjumping anything, we actually had some pretty smooth rounds later in the lesson before calling it quits and hacking around on the buckle in the shade.

As always, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to ride such a wise old mare. She truly knows her job inside and out, and while I joke about her normal exuberance and opinionated nature, I've never once seen her not look after her rider. In keeping with my August goals, I'm trying to be super present in every ride and let her teach me as much as she can...which is a lot!

Monday 4 August 2014

The Wishlist Game

Idea courtesy of Lauren at She Moved To Texas, In keeping with Lauren's post, I'm listing things I'll likely buy in the near future, not things I want but don't need/can't afford.

First off, breastplate for both girls (hopefully adjustable enough to share). Round ponies + jumping + steep terrain out on the trails means my saddle does move around a little more than I'd like at times. The built in handle is also a bonus for Ginger. The jury's a little out as to the exact style/brand I'll get. Currently thinking along the lines of this if I could find something similar available to Canada:
Nunn Finer 3 point breastplate. $199 at Dover Saddlery
I also need a new show shirt that fits properly, ideally a simple white shirt with a wrap collar and a more fitted profile. Technical fabric a bonus. Since I'm not known as a trendsetter, now is the time of year I try on this years shirts in hopes of scoring one on clearance for next years shows. I was at the tack store last weekend and the Ariat Triumph Liberty shirt caught my eye. I tried it on, and it's now on my wishlist. I like the really subtle detailing, the fit is nice, and the fabric looks like it would be very cool for summer. Pattern inside the collar is a little wild, but hey. Price is around $100.

From Dover Saddlery
Also, from the Ariat catalog, I desperately need a new pair of their H20 paddock boots. I've had mine for 6 or 7 years now and they are beyond beat up. They're still functional, but really, really ugly. I rode and mucked stalls in them for several years. They're also so comfy I also use them as hiking boots on mucky/rainy days. I love these boots and want a new pair! Price around $140.
From Greenhawk
A new helmet is also on the menu. My Tipperary one is nearing it's expiry, and my previous "nice" helmet had a fall a year or so ago, so I'm down to just the cheap Ovation I bought last summer. Don't get me wrong, its cool and comfy and I like it for what it is. But I'd like a new helmet for clinics and shows. I'm on a budget and don't show anywhere fancy (and honestly don't care a whole lot about what's "in" anyways) so I'll probably just replace my old helmet (that was actually really flattering and nicely ventilated) with a new one unless a screaming deal on something better comes my way.
Old helmet = Troxel Reliance $160

Last, but not least, a waterproof reflective quarter sheet for all those dark and rainy winter days. The ring is a short hack along a somewhat busy road with a narrow shoulder. Something bright and/or reflective is a must have, and I'm thinking a waterproof quarter sheet is also practical item to keep the ponies warm and dry to and from the ring. Love this particular one because it clips on and is easily taken on and off. About $70.
V Bandz waterproof quarter sheet
Grand total for shopping spree: $670... hopefully less if I hold out for sales!