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About our new SPONSOR!, The Painted Trout (I know, right)

Posted on July 23, 2015 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (26481)

The Painted Trout, the greater Ann Arbor area's best place to buy all that stuff Aames wears, has become our sponsor!  Our relationship with the Painted Trout will grow and evolve, of course, but right now they're preparing an introductory packet for team members that will include cool stuff, and trout-themed stock pins for the show. A googleplex of thanks to Lauren Kingsley and Dirk Fischbach for their kind encouragement! We could not hope for better sponsors!

More Later

A word about helmet safety

Posted on July 17, 2015 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (1133)

You guys know that helmets are there to protect your heads, duh. 

At the most recent show, we saw a distressingly large number of dangerously ill-fitting helmets on the competitors. Here's how to ensure that your helmet can perform to the best of its abilities:

1. FIT. A helmet should fit snugly around your entire head with no gaps. The inevitable gaps that occur with adjustable helmets can be filled with supplemental padding.

2. CHINSTRAP. Always fasten your chinstrap, AND adjust the sliding ear pieces so that they are immediately under your earlobes. Doing this helps to keep your helmet in place.

3. PRICE. Remember, the most expensive helmet is not necessarily the right helmet for you. Order based on fit, not price.

We know that you've got enough to worry about on Show Day, but a properly fitting helmet looks cool, even to the Judges!

Melman + Twitter

Posted on May 28, 2015 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (14083)

You know how, when you're not looking, your horse steals your laptop and signs up at Twitter? Go to Twitter @Melmanhorse and see what antics Melman's getting up to.

Where can I buy riding apparel in Ann Arbor?

Posted on May 18, 2015 at 5:35 AM Comments comments (12005)

Short answer: Dover.

Long answer:

    In the actual city of Ann Arbor, I'm afraid there is nowhere to buy traditional riding clothes. Or boots. Just outside of the city, at Lakeside Saddlery, you can find Tuf-Rider boots and economically priced helmets, but as for the higher end, there are no alternatives to online shoping. That said, if you're just schooling or hacking, you can get away with clothing that's not specifically designed for riding. Try these places:

Bivouac (State Street, Ann Arbor)

I've been shopping here for so long... You won't find traditional riding apparel here, but you will find a bewilderingly large selection of technical clothing which is perfectly suitable for schooling (combined with your existing breeches and boots), hacking, or barn stuff. 

Lulu Lemon/Athletica (Most larger stores, and on Stadium in Ann Arbor)

Clothing designed for Yoga can be used for riding (again, combined with your existing breeches and boots). Close fitting, stretchy stuff in technical fabrics won't flap around in the breeze when you're cantering and jumping.

The Painted Trout (Dexter)

Equestrian "Lifestyle" clothing can also be used for riding (Duh). They've got the best of my favorite brands --Dubarry and Barbour-- and technical pieces from Patagonia. Dubarry's hacking jackets can even be used for shows.

But, I'm sorry to say, for the most traditional and high quality riding apparel, you'll have to venture out of Ann Arbor.

Who's the cutest pony in Ann Arbor?

Posted on May 10, 2015 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (16162)

PIXIE. That is all...

"Look at that smokin' hot Ann Arbor Police horse!"--Vixen

Posted on April 23, 2015 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (8877)

     The first show of the season is right around the corner, and that means trailering. We all know that, when trailering, safety is the most important thing, and we all know what to do to protect horses from trailering injury. What do you do if your horse is a willing trailer-er, but is incredibly loud and annoying once in the trailer? The title of this post is a translation of the deafening shriekings and whinnyings that happened at every traffic light on a recent trip through Ann Arbor. The shameless behavior of a certain mare, inspired us to try the following things, to make trailering less annoying.

    While always taking every safety precaution, you can try these tips:

The same treats that motivate your horse to enter the trailer can be used to fill his or her stomach a bit before the trailer ride. A chewing horse with something in the stomach is less likely to whinny at a red light.

Those apple flavored chew thingies that were developed to stop cribbing also stop nonsense in the trailer. Mount them (very securely) where your horse can use them, and even the hottest Police horse will go un-noticed.

Trailer each horse by himself and make two trips. This one gets a "No Duh," but you'd be surprised how much bad behavior is just your horses trying to impress each other.

    OK, I've been a bit flippant, but anyone who has ever trailered a horse knows that horses dearly love to embarrass their faithful human guardians at every chance they get. And we love them for it!


Ann Arbor Area Horse Show Strengthener

Posted on April 19, 2015 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (2813)

(Another Guest Post From Aames)

I am, as I write this, enjoying a beverage called "The Sunday Morning Strengthener." In my days as a pretentious undergraduate in Ann Arbor, I hosted a recurring Sunday morning party at which I served the following beverage,  now re-named:



2 two-litre thingies of Schweppes Lemonade (or Sprite)

1 roma tomato (trust me)

1 cucumber 

2 lemons

1 punch bowl (Grandma has one)

And, if you are old enough, either Pimm's no.1, or Chardonnay-- two buck Chuck is fine

Fill the punch bowl with the lemonade or Sprite, and a bit of ice

Scrape the innards out of both the tomato and the cucumber, and cut into roughly quarter-inch bits

Cut up the lemons, also.

Float the chopped bits in the punch bowl, and wait for the magic to happen. Now is also the time to add the Grown-Up ingredients (Pimm's).

Once the flavors have blended, decant into glasses as the need arises.

This is a wonderfully thirst-quenching alternative to plain water or sports drinks on show day. The grown-up version is good, again only if you're old enough, after the show. 


No such Thing as Fashion Week

Posted on April 9, 2015 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (10059)

    In a sport for which the last significant fashion event was in the 1920s, when women stopped riding sidesaddle, it will come as no surprise that Show Season 2015 includes no fashion updates. In fact, our experience has shown that there is no bunch of people who are more resistant to current fashion than show judges.

    The first show is nearly upon us, which means a new hunt coat for most of us. Buy the same one your grandmother wears. In the most boring color you can find. In my search, I came upon a Swarovsky-embellished, silver metallic fabric hunt coat. Do whatever you must to resist buying one of these--- The judges will actually shoot you. Just kidding, but what you want is to be remembered for your riding, not for your glow-in-the-dark hunt coat. Dover's got one in grey, black, or grey-black on sale right now for $89.99. It's probably even waterproof.

    The same advice can be taken for one's personal appearance, also. Wear the same make-up as your grandmother. At a show last summer, I remember seeing an otherwise very talented rider having a hard time being taken seriously because her face was done up like a Las Vegas showgirl. Judges are the most conservative people on earth, especially in Hunters where appearance is very important. Express yourself in any way that tells the world who you are, every single day of your life, but try to tone it down on show day. Guys, if you wear make-up to express your inner you, go for it, but  the Judges might not understand your fabulousness.


    These are nit-picky things, I know, but you're all such good riders and I want to make sure that you're recognized for your talent and not for your sparkles!

The Notorious J.I.M.

Posted on April 4, 2015 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (39999)

    Jimmy, equine companion to Katie, is now living at our facility. He's been Justin Timberlake-ing around and stirring up all kinds of shameless behavior in the Ladies (Vixen, I'm looking at you). Jimmy is very pleased with himself, and with good reason, as he's nearing the end of 30 days of intense training. It is of vital importance that horse and rider speak the same language, thus his intensive schooling, but it is equally important that horse and stable attendant speak a common language.


    Jimmy was misunderstood, and labelled "Bad" by stable attendants and others who did not understand what he was attempting to communicate. He is, in reality, a very sweet, intelligent, capable, and eager horse who wants nothing more than to please Katie, and all of his human and horse friends. The training in which he is now participating is no different from the sort of instruction a human would undergo in order to master a new language. A native English speaker would be wrong to label a native French speaker "Bad" because he couldn't communicate in English. The same is true of Jimmy, and many other horses, who are fluent in the language of their former disciplines, but unaware of the subtleties of their new discipline's language. Jimmy is now "Speaking" the language of Classical English Riding Theory with great alacrity, and if yesterday's ride is any indication of his future performance, he will be graduating from Stanford with a degree in Communications very soon. He is happy, relaxed, and comfortable in an environment wherein his idosyncrasies are interpreted correctly, and are respected as part of his unique personality.

    One of the things which I think everyone can work on immediately, riders and caregivers alike, is to make every attempt to ascertain the underlying reasons for a horse's behavior before making any judgement as to his temperament. Often a few extra hours spent patiently teaching a horse exactly what he is expected to do, in kind language (verbal or non-verbal), and with clear commands, will make an enormous difference in the horse's attitude. 

    Jimmy, with his movie-star looks and his winning nature, has a lifetime of joyful activity ahead of him thanks to Katie's patience, and Jenny's expert training. 


The Charles Owen AYR8 Helmet

Posted on April 3, 2015 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (2008)

First, always wear your helmet. No, always wear your helmet...

    Spring means ventilated helmets. If you've ever finished a ride with hair looking like an angry mongoose, you know what I'm talking about. Supposedly, ventilated helmets solve this problem. The Charles Owen AYR8 claims to be one of the most head-friendly helmets available, so I gave it a try.

    Pros: The padding is thick enough to give a wearer a very secure feeling, especially those who have long, oval skulls. Before I tried this helmet, I had never had the feeling of my head being so securely held on all sides by any brand of helmet. This helmet is a top choice among professionals, and while such a vital safety decision should never be based on corporate sponsorship, the fact that this model is used by several top-ranked riders in hazardous conditions is a plus. The drawstring in the back allows for a customized fit, and the design of the harness will accommodate a ponytail.

    Cons: The ventilator panel doesn't really generate the strong breeze over the head that the advertising claims. There is more ventilation than on un-ventilated models, and I think that were Charles Owen to add more vent-holes, the strength of the helmet would suffer. The foam inside the helmet takes about 8 minutes to form to the individual shape of your head. That is not really a Con, but it makes for an interesting few minutes during which your head is a bit squished.

    I give this helmet a strong BUY rating, even though the list price, at $421.00 may seem high.