Sunday, July 3, 2016

Quick Trip To Ireland

No big deal, right?

Well I didn't actually go to the true Eire. I traveled a little over an hour to the Horseware Ireland store in Kinston, NC. 

Horseware opened their US headquarters here in eastern NC back in 1999 and the outlet store has gone from unorganized, meager beginnings to a legit retail environment over the years. My first trip there was probably 2004 or 5. I had heard everyone at my old hunter barn chattering about the great deals to be had on winter blankets, so when my little bay arab needed a coat of course the outlet store was where I headed. 

The "store" was a garage separate from the main office building and we entered through one of the two large overhead doors. It was already cold weather outside but the door had to stay open while I shopped because there weren't any lights. I dug my way through the stacks of heavy duty plastic bags that were not arranged in any particular order until I found what I came for. And what a steal...a navy w/white pinstripe mid-weight Rambo turnout rug for $40. Yep. You read that right. A Rambo. The heavy duty waterproof rip stop kind. What was wrong with it? The size tag was labelled 72 but the blanket was actually a 69. At the time the only thing in the store was blankets and a few pairs of socks, gloves, and beanies.

The store was moved a couple years later to a newer warehouse style building in an industrial area just a few miles down the road from its original location. For a while they had a yard sale, I think it was the first Saturday in October, I would always get an email notification about them and it became an annual ritual to leave home at 5:30 a.m. and show up for the ridiculous deals to be had. A lot of others had the same idea as me, and the parking lot would be full a good thirty minutes before the 7 a.m. start time. Yard sale stuff was tagged and tossed in huge boxes, and shoppers did their best to dig and score. The main winners here were barn owners and instructors who had a variety of horses to outfit. As the years passed the selection grew to include fly sheets, coolers, saddle pads, and more clothing. The store inside was also abuzz on yard sale day. Most of my purchases were found in here rather than the bins outdoors. Things I found in here? How about a full set of cob size amigo shipping boots for $15. What was wrong with them? Nothing, they were just overstock. The hunter green and lime binding looked very nice on my arab. I also picked up a matching fleece cooler that same day for $15, also overstock. The arab trailered in style in that set. Other finds include a light rain jacket for $3 (the zipper pull is a tiny compass), lots of boot socks, saddle pads, and equipment bags. 

Business hours are Monday thru Friday 9-4, and coupled with the fact that it was a solid hour from my house, kept me from visiting as often as I'd liked. Then one day my family was travelling out of town for summer vacay and we would be going past the outlet just as they were opening so I planned a pit stop. Upon arrival there was a note on the locked door stating they had moved. I mapped that address and off we headed but the directions were incorrect and we continued on with our vacation travel, scratching the shopping excursion.

I haven't bothered with the store since that day, mostly due to the same factors of proximity and business hours. Then Tuesday two weeks ago I found myself off work, and by 11:30 I had no obligations. It was a somber day for reasons, and I needed to occupy my mind with something. So my daughter and i jumped in her car and she drove us to Ireland hehe. She's still learning a lot about the highway and her driving was good for the most part. 

The newest location is two stoplights and one traffic circle off the main road, easy to find. The building is a late 60s or early 70s repurposed (probably textile) manufacturing plant.

image borrowed from here 

The store is right up front where all the windows are. No need to worry about the lighting like they did so many years ago. Version 3.0 also has the most impressive selection by far. If you need show clothing this place is the spot to go. I only saw four show coats available, but there were tons of khaki and white breeches, show shirts, sun shirts, belts etc. Too bad I don't need show clothes because I could have cleaned up. They still had blankets, fly sheets, bonnets, halters available too. I got to see some new products too, like the Rambo Dry Blanket whic is exactly as the desscription states, a microfiber material same as a car towel. This blanket seemed quite heavy folded up in the bag. I also got to see the Ice Vibe boot kit and the Dalmar protective boots. 

I managed a few pics of some pretty random things:

don't know much about this brand, but
a long sleeve tech fabric spf shirt for
$20, not bad

this would have been my schooling show
shirt choice, they also had white with navy
stripes and buttons

what the wha? puffy down filled riding coat

this was a cute little tailored
rain jacket for $13
Something I've failed to mention until now, Horseware has always shared their headquarters with Triple Crown Customs. They make upscale wool show sheets with the fancy scroll binding on the hind end, and all kinds of stall draperies for show teams and tack rooms when they travel. This case was on display with halters worn by Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed. I thought it was a neat touch.

sorry for the glare, best I
could do with all those windows

So what was my own personal haul for the day? I got three shirts for $5 each. Two are the antimicrobial tech fabric, one is lightweight woven pique. I gave one tech shirt to my best barn buddy. Also came home with a chocolate/lime fleece sheet for Razz for $25.

I will print one of my own designs
on the woven black top

In summation, do I recommend shopping the Horseware Ireland outlet? If you need show clothes or winter riding coats, then YES! The prices aren't going to be beaten anywhere. Since this is a brand specific store, I guess your kind of outta luck if Horseware isn't your thing. It's located at 1350 Cunningham Rd, Kinston, NC. About an hour and a half outside of Raleigh. Hours are still Mon-Fri 9-4. Want to call ahead? 1-800-887-6688 Anyone headed to the beach via Hwy 70 could make an easy detour, you won't regret stopping by and having a look:)

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Status Quo

So many of you have so much going on this summer. I, too, have had lots going on. But nothing really spectacular on the pony front. 

June came and went super fast and life was certainly a roller coaster. With all the heat, humidity, and bugs my rides have been mostly in the new bareback pad I got for my birthday. 

first time out with the bareback pad
You would think Razz should be able to pose for a picture instead of grazing considering he lives in a four acre grass pasture with one other horse. Such a glutton.

The bareback pad has been perfect for early morning or late evening walk/trots around the corn field. Since the above pic was taken I have figured out the perfect padding combo to be an old Dover pad with the billet velcros cut off, my thinline half pad, and then the bareback pad. 

I have been making the most of the lazy bareback rides, taking advantage of the ultra close contact to develop an in-tune, balanced seat. We've also been working on tempo control and leg yields. The most basic of stuff but frankly I feel we both need it. With the onset of humidity so high you can see it in the atmosphere, we've backed off our jumping a lot. 

lots of this...

...and this

You know, I don't remember summer heat affecting me as much in years past. It's an indication that I will probably have to start working out to maintain the stamina that simply came naturally with youth. Ughhh.  

I can tell Razz ain't feelin it either. Out in the pasture, I often find him with his eyes watering and his coat sweaty. I may have to put him on nighttime turn out only if he continues to cope so poorly. The only reason I hesitate is because he'd be the only horse in the barn. 

This past weekend I tacked up in all my gear and enjoyed a light jump school. And there we other folks there to grab some media for me. Yay. My boy was super hard to motivate at first. But once he adjusted to the slightly deep, freshly tilled arena sand I was amazed at what we did. All the bareback riding. All the focus on basics and flatting only. It was paying off in a way I didn't expect to see. I guess in hindsight I should have anticipated it. The work we did on tempo control translated into me finding the nice jumping canter. Razz has always been strong with me when jumping, but not so much on this ride. He wasn't perfect, but there was so much improvement. I could actually see my distances consistently for the first time EVER. Razz is picking the long spot now instead of chipping. I jumped a total of ten times. He knocked one rail, the first time over the tallest vertical, and made sure to be extra scopey from then on. 

I'm not sure what to make of my eq. I don't think it's atrocious but it's clearly not perfect. The main thing going through my head as I approach a jump is, "shoulders back, sit tall, leg on". Once we leave the ground I just lean forward and ride with the self taught, uneducated seat. The only thought in my head is "release, release" because I don't like catching Razz in the mouth. My heels need to be down more. Next time I ride I will engage the connective tissues in the back of my leg like I do with certain yoga poses. Making this association will hopefully fix things. I also think I'm behind the motion. 

We still had lots of fun. Razz was super sweaty when we finished up but in a great mood so the ride was a definite win for both of us.

we started off like this...

...and this

his knees, my hair and untucked shirt,
true hunter perfection here

giraffe much? this was the only pulled rail

our last jump of the day, taken on iphone

same jump, taken on s5
More release in the last pic would be nice, at least I think it would be nice. Getting some instruction is still tops on the equine list. Life really consumed me mentally over the past few weeks, other things had to take priority to riding. I've only had my laptop on a handful of times, long enough to pay a bill and log out. The blog suffered from the lack of screen time. I do wish I could blog like some of you do, with so many interesting topics to discuss. I'm working on things in my head and hope to get some things rolling over here as well. Thanks for stopping by and catching up with me!! Happy Fourth everyone!!