I can’t believe my first year as an animal science major and second year at UGA is already over! This past school year brought with it a lot of really cool experiences and taught me a lot both academically and personally. I got the opportunity to get down and dirty with some awesome animals at UGA’s teaching dairy, beef and sheep unit, and swine unit during my practicum class, attended a Temple Grandin seminar, started a new job at a small animal clinic, joined an absolutely amazing new barn family, and met some really great people along the way!
Despite all of all of the great things that came with this past school year, it definitely wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I have to say, life definitely didn’t take it easy on me – especially this semester. A series of family health emergencies caused me to miss quite a few weeks of classes and left me struggling both emotionally and academically. My grades also took a hit as I struggled with my anxiety and depression throughout it all. However, with a lot of hard work, late nights, coffee, and, of course, some pony therapy, I was able to salvage my grades and make it onto the dean’s list with five As and one B!
Enough about school though – IT’S SUMMERTIME! That means there will be a lot of pony-filled days in my future. To say I am excited would be a little bit of an understatement!
In preparation for me moving back home for the summer, we moved Diablo to Southern Sky Farm to live with his little brother, Dies. He settled right in like a champ and has been as happy as a lark. I’m so happy to have my two boys back together in one place again as now I can ride both of them more often!
As usual, my trainer has been doing an absolutely amazing job with Dies while I have been away. I got a chance to watch her jump him around a couple of days ago, and oh my gosh guys, he was amazing! He has gained so much confidence over fences that he was able to jump some larger jumps without even blinking an eye! That definitely wouldn’t have been possible a few months ago. There are definitely still a lot of things we need to work on, but for his first time jumping jumps this high, he was a rockstar!
I have been able to flat him around twice since I have been back home, but sadly I didn’t get any video or pictures. However, I will be having my first lesson on him in two months tomorrow and I am hoping to get some pictures then!
I can’t wait to start lessoning regularly and get back to riding how I used to before college. As of right now, my goal is to do our first show together on June 9th! I hope that we can make that happen as I am really eager to get back to showing after a two-year hiatus! Fingers crossed!
The last few weeks have been crazy busy. With the semester coming to an end, a tidal wave of assignments and exams have made riding pretty much non-existent in my life for the past few weeks. It has also made finding time to post almost impossible!
Before I get into the details of the show, I have to share a picture and a video from when I got to come home and watch Dies school before the show last week! My awesome trainer has been working really hard on developing his adjustability and putting him over some bigger fences to raise his confidence. It was the first time I have seen him go over anything higher than 2 ft. Of course, my trainer is amazing and made him look like a seasoned pro. Enjoy the cuteness!
HJ FOX SHOW | FRIDAY SCHOOLING
If I had to pick a theme for this show in one word, it would be “progress”. This weekend was full of so many triumphs and accomplishments for Diesel both in and out of the show ring.
Like any other horse, Diesel has his own quirks that, while endearing in a way, can be frustrating and discouraging to work through at times. Some of our worst enemies right now are his lack of confidence and tendency to become easily overwhelmed. Yes, they are pretty common quirks in younger horses, but boy, are they a doozy! They most often manifest at the beginning of the ride with him starting off very tense through his body and becoming hyper-alert to everything except his rider. In the saddle, it feels almost like you’re riding a fully stretched rubber band just waiting to snap under pressure.
However, he really surprised me this weekend with how well he coped with his insecurities in a busy show environment. There was a definite improvement from the last show. His transition from walking off the trailer to going into the covered arena to school on Friday was much smoother than it has been in the past. Last show, it took around 20 minutes of intense flat work to ease his mind, stop the unnecessary spooking, and get a more relaxed, supple pony. However, this time it only took him 10 minutes to get to that relaxed state of mind and get to work. I’d say that’s progress!
HJ FOX SHOW | BABY GREEN CHAMPION
Like last show, I was up bright and early at 5:30 in order to drive to the horse park, tack Dies up, and lunge him to get the early morning sillies out before meeting my trainer at the covered arena to warm up at 7:00 am sharp. This show I got to break out my new Back On Track Mesh Sheet that I got on sale from SmartPak, and let me tell you, I am a believer! After wearing the sheet all night, Dies came out of the stall nice and loose despite the weather taking a 40-degree dip overnight. Of course, I will have to do a full review with pictures, so stay tuned for that in a few days!
He was an absolute rock star on the flat and took home the first-place ribbon out of a large class comprising of 16 horses. He was visibly much more relaxed than he was at the last show, which translated into some really nice, flowy trot work. He is starting to settle much quicker than he used to, which definitely translates into a better performance on the flat. Both of his over fences rounds were really wonderful as well! He put in some great rounds that earned him a first-place ribbon for his first round and a third-place ribbon for his second round. Unlike the last show, he graced us with some flawless flying changes, which in of itself was a huge accomplishment for him! Go Dies!
With a first on the flat and a first and a third over fences, he ended up taking home the champion ribbon for the whole division! I was such a proud horse mom!
Showing off his champion ribbon!
Showing off his champion ribbon!
Not only did he do extremely well in the baby green division, but he also knocked it out of the park in the schooling hunter division as well. He ended up placing second on the flat and second in his first over fences course out of 24 horses, which was absolutely amazing!
Dies also put in some really great trips on Sunday, but sadly, the new judge just didn’t seem to agree with me. He was an absolute angel both on the flat and over fences and put in some of the best trips he has had yet even though the ribbons didn’t quite reflect that. Oh well! That’s just how it is in hunterland sometimes! I couldn’t be any prouder of my pony and all that he has accomplished this past weekend!
The next show we have planned isn’t until July. However, that will give us plenty of time to improve and grow! I can’t wait to dive into summer!
In the midst of jugging a tidal wave of assignments and studying for tests, Diesel and I have been making some really good, but slow, progress together. It is extremely frustrating to not see improvement as fast as I used to, but I have to face it, I just won’t improve as fast as when I was in high school riding five days a week. However, it is exciting to be back in the saddle with a goal to work towards.
The First Real Lesson Back: Crossrail Edition
This past Monday I had my first lesson on Diesel since he has been in training and let me tell you, the difference in him is unreal. It is so much easier to focus on the more technical parts of our rides when your horse has some idea of how to do his job without relying on you to hold him every step of the way. At least, it is for me as an amateur. Pros, I give you some major props! Riding young, green horses is hard! It’s sappy, I know, but I got a little teary-eyed when I asked for the canter and he held himself up through the transition rather than falling all into my hand.
The majority of our lesson was spent on the flat, as usual, since that is the most important part of riding! This week, at the trot, we worked on tightening our turns using my outside aids to produce an immediate response rather than letting him bulge his shoulder out to the outside. He has big swooping turns down-pat, but those tighter turns can be a little harder to get when you’re a baby horse. I need to work on using my outside aids more effectively in order to set him up for success all the time. Additionally, I have got to stop hanging on my inside rein when tracking to the left. What a terrible habit! I know my trainer has to be about ready to just rip my arm off as many times as she has to remind me to soften it up. I got a little slack in my year-long break from lessoning, so this is as much of a learning process for me as it is for him. I definitely need a tune up myself!
We also worked on our transitions at the canter by cantering around the arena, asking for a full halt on the diagonal of the arena, and then asking for the opposite lead from the halt. He was a superstar at that exercise – I can really tell how much work my trainer has put into developing his transitions. We definitely still need to work on getting a more immediate halt as it is still hit or miss sometimes. That is mainly due to my fault as I hesitated and didn’t fully commit to the halt. I have to work on that!
Our lesson ended with me getting to pop him over a few crossrails. Believe it or not, it was the first time that I have ever jumped him in the entire time that I have owned him. When I bought him, he was just not far enough along in his training for it to have been a positive experience for him or me. It was definitely worth the wait!
The jumps definitely weren’t anything substantial, but it was a huge step for us as a team. He was such a good nugget for me and packed me around the little course of 12″ crossrails like a pro. I was smiling like a fool the entire time. My baby Dies is growing up! This time we just started out trotting them as I am still learning how to trust him again and am a little rusty over fences. Plus, I definitely don’t have the strength over fences that I had when I rode five days a week so his round jump would have launched me if I had tried to jump him any higher right yet haha! Small steps!
I have to admit, it is hard to not be really critical of myself. After all, I felt like I was riding like a potato the entire ride. You really don’t know how out of shape you are until you jump back into lessons – it really kicked my butt. I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in myself. I feel as though I have taken ten steps back from where I was a year ago, and that is frustrating for me. However, I am trying to stay positive and think of all of the things I have accomplished since started back riding: I got back on my young horse after getting injured after several bad falls. I was able to confidently canter him my second time back on him. I finally got to jump my young horse for the first time in my first lesson back. Finally, I have more confidence on him than I have ever had. That has to be worth something, right? I think so! Progress is progress no matter how small!
If you are feeling down and out about your riding, I challenge you to list out all of the things you have accomplished so far that you are proud of. It really helps you to see that you are making progress even if it feels like you aren’t. It has definitely helped me so far.
Now that I’ve recovered from a case of the horse show hangover, I think it’s time that I fill y’all in on Dies’s horse show experience this past weekend!
This past weekend Dies and five other horses from the farm trailered into the Conyers International Horse Park for the first show in HJ Fox’s show series. For Dies, this was his first weekend-long show of the year, his second one ever, and his first time at competing at the horse park. With three shows under his belt, Diesel came to this show ready to roll. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my nice camera, so please forgive me for the less than ideal picture quality. I’ve been kicking myself for it!
Our weekend started early Friday afternoon with a pre-show schooling session in the horse park’s covered arena. It was his first time in the covered arena, so naturally, he started off a little tense and on edge. Luckily, my trainer knows just what to do when he gets that way and was able to get his head back in the game with some good ole circles and keeping his feet moving and brain thinking. Once he was able to relax his mind, he really was able to stretch down and give us that floaty movement I love so much. After the flat work was done, she went right in to jumping with him and laid down some really solid courses. He had some great moments and really put in the effort at quite a few of the jumps. I was overall really pleased with how he ended!
DAY 1 | BABY GREEN AND SCHOOLING HUNTER
Since the baby green division was the first division of the day, I was at the barn bright and early in order to have him tacked up and down at the arena to school by 7:00 am. Armed with my handy dandy ringside backpack outfitted with treats, a hard brush, a cooler, and plenty of other goodies, my job as the designated “treat lady” was a-go and I somehow managed to make it to the covered on time. Luckily, we were able to warm up in the covered and stay in the arena when the flat started at 7:45. He flatted decently well, a little on the tense side with a few whinnies, but not bad at all. It definitely wasn’t his best performance to date, but I felt it was solid. He did what she asked of him and managed to hold it together even when he got cut off twice. Despite his good behavior, his ok performance just wasn’t quite good enough to ribbon. However, I was pleased with how well he handled himself, so he got some snuggles and a few treats and was raring to go out and jump.
Unfortunately for us, the show decided to scratch warmups due to class size, so our first course wasn’t what we had hoped. My trainer ended up asking him for the add steps to keep him composed and start his day off right, so of course, he didn’t place in that class as that resulted in a few trot steps and the undesirable step. However, she did end up asking for and nailing the full horse strides for his second course, which ended up looking beautiful. He put in some good effort over the jumps and really handled himself well even with kids running around outside of the ring. He ended up receiving a fourth place ribbon for this course out of 18 horses, so I was over the moon with that!
We ended up also entering him into the schooling hunter to get a few more courses under our belt since we ended up not getting to do the warm-up. His good behavior followed him to this division as well and he ended up putting in some really solid rounds. Unfortunately, due to a large number of entries and varying experience levels, neither of his rounds placed. His courses just aren’t quite polished enough to be competitive with the veteran competitors yet, and that is perfectly ok! We ended up not getting to do flat due to conflicting ring schedules, which was perfectly fine with Dies. He got to finish the day with lots of treats, snuggles, hay, and plenty of hand walking field trips. Overall, it was a great day! He rode wonderfully for my trainer and behaved like a gentleman in-hand. Any day with good behavior is a good day!
DAY 2 | BABY GREEN CHAMPION
Like the day before, the day started with an early start time of 6:15 for me, which meant I was out the door at 5:30 this morning. That was not such an easy feat with the dreary weather. Unfortunately for us, it was going to be a very wet and nasty day. Once at the barn, I brushed out all of the shavings from his mane and tail, tacked him up, and threw his waterproof sheet over him and trekked it down to the covered in the pouring rain to make it there on time at 7:00 am. With the rain pounding on the covered arena’s roof, earplugs were a must since Dies has a tendency to get distracted really easily. The only minor bump in the road was that we could only find one earplug, so Dies ended up only being half “deaf”. 😂
Despite the nasty weather and one earplug, Dies came out ready to roll and dominate the flat. You could instantly see the difference in his movement from the day before as he was so much more relaxed and supple. He still wasn’t as relaxed as he can be, but it was a definite improvement from how he has been at shows so far. Since he was more relaxed, my trainer was really able to show off his heavenly floaty trot and get him back on his hocks for the canter. I believe that it was one of his best flat classes at a show so far, and the judge seemed to agree as he won the flat out of 14 horses. I was such a proud mom! As soon as he saw me at the gate, he came right over for his bounty of treats and pats. He knew he was a good boy!
Like the flat, he came out in it to win it over fences. My trainer ended up asking for full horse strides in both of his courses since he won the flat and it definitely paid off. Both of his courses were really, really good. He put in some great efforts to the jumps and was so calm and collected throughout the course. I believe that his two hunter courses are some of the best courses he has ever done as he looked so relaxed and focused. My trainer even commented that at times he felt so round over the jumps that it felt like she was in a 3′ class haha! We were so, so pleased with how he jumped! Once he was finished with his courses, he gots lots of yummy Stud Muffins, pats, and snuggles. We decided that he would be done for the weekend since he was such a good nugget.
After cooling him out and putting him away, I made the walk down to the arena in the pouring rain to find out his placings for both of his courses. I was absolutely over the moon to find out that he had won second place for both of his hunter rounds making him the baby green champion for the day! I actually teared up when I heard – no lie.
This is such a huge milestone for him as it was his first time ever championing in a division! It really goes to show just how much he has improved over fences these last few months. It makes me so happy to see him succeed with my trainer in the irons as you can just see how much confidence she gives him – she always brings out the best in him. I hope that I will be able to give that to him too one day.
He is going to get some well-deserved time off for the next days in order to recoup after such a stellar weekend. After all, it is absolutely exhausting being a good boy! I am hoping that since it is spring break for me, I will be able to sneak in a few flat rides once he recoups! I’m ready to get down to business!
If you have been following along with my posts, you know that I have not been on Diesel since I put him into full training this past October. My last ride on him before he went to training was not a pretty one, to say the least. After being bucked off, my confidence was shot and he was quickly losing his confidence in me. That’s when I knew that weekly lessons just weren’t cutting it anymore. I have no shame about admitting when I am in over my head and this time was no exception.
Being bucked off did quite a number on my confidence, so the last few months I have been struggling with regaining all of the confidence that I have lost. It definitely hasn’t been easy. With a full college schedule, my dad being in the hospital, and Diablo struggling with soundness issues, riding was put on the back burner. It wasn’t until this past week that I was able to get back in the saddle regularly for the first time in months.
If you know Diablo, you know that he is NOT an easy ride – even when in regular work. Riding him after a long break can even insight fear in professionals. That being said, after owning him for five years, I have just learned to laugh through his little bucks and crow hopping episodes. He definitely gave me a run for my money my first time back, but it was such a confidence booster for me to just be back in the saddle again. He always knows how to make me laugh and challenge me. I really missed riding my goofy cow!
Riding this past week for the first time in a few months definitely opened my eyes to how unfit I have gotten. I am ashamed to admit that I have gained quite a bit of weight since my last time regularly in the saddle. Your girl has to get back in the saddle and the gym!
After riding Diablo last week and attending the show yesterday, I finally decided that today was the day that I was going to get back on Diesel. Even though I can confidently ride through Diablo’s antics, getting back on Diesel sparked a little fear in my heart. I couldn’t help but be a little anxious as I pulled up the barn – I am not as fit as I was and his bucks are nothing to laugh about. However, I am so glad that I got back on today.
Riding Dies today made me the happiest I have been in a long time, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I walked him around the arena. I couldn’t hold back my tears of happiness when I picked up the trot and trotted my boy around for what seemed like the first time in forever. He was such a good nugget and packed me around like a seasoned pro, which made me cry even harder.
I am just blown away by how great of a job my trainer has done with him. Even though I have watched him from the ground while my trainer has ridden, I hadn’t realized just how much he has improved and grown-up until I got in the saddle. I felt a huge difference in him both mentally and physically. It was amazing to feel how much fitter he has gotten and how much more relaxed he is under saddle. He felt like a completely different horse than the nervous baby horse I tried last April. I was so incredibly proud of my baby Dies – he has come such a long way! It makes me really wonder how I got so lucky to own such a spectacular baby horse!
Today gave me hope that he and I will be able to get back to making progress together. Now that I finally faced my fear of getting back on him after the fall, I am planning on resuming weekly lessons in an effort to get back the rest of the confidence that I have lost. I can’t wait to get back in the saddle for good and start enjoying my spectacular baby horse again.
As much as I would love to be able to sit down and write about how fantastic the baby horse was yesterday, I’m afraid I can’t say he was a complete angel the entire time this time out. However, I guess you can’t expect perfection from baby green beans 100% of the time. 😬 Bad days are bound to happen – even to the most seasoned show horse.
Yesterday we trailered Dies and three other horses to a small schooling show at Wisteria Farm in Monroe, GA to get him out and about before the “real” horse shows coming up next month. Unlike the last two shows, Dies had to spend some of the day tied to the trailer since we decided not to rent a stall for the day. After all, he has to learn patience at some point. It was all fine and dandy until he ran out of hay. Let me tell you – this did NOT sit well with him at all. He decided that learning patience was not on his list of to-dos, but little does he know that patience is a part of every horse show!
“Look mom, I can be a good boy!”
My two boys!
Most of the day was spent with him pacing, “digging to China”, pitching temper tantrums both at the trailer and on the lunge line, screaming at the top of his lungs whenever his travel buddies would leave, and angrily eating his hay. I’m really not kidding about him angrily eating his hay. One of his favorite things to do when he doesn’t get his way is to show his displeasure by angrily grazing or tearing at his hay net. It’s quite comical.
Since he spent most of the time that he was tied to the trailer acting like a fool, he ended up snapping his leather halter in half and “running” free for a few minutes. By running I mean that he walked around the trailer with a confused look on his face that seemed to say “mom, I don’t think this is what I should be doing”. If you are looking for a durable halter, definitely don’t buy Dover’s cheap triple stitch halter. This is the second one that has snapped in half on me, and I would rather not have a loose horse! Of course, I can’t expect too much from a cheap leather halter. It looks like I am going to be on the search for a new barn halter for him. If you have any good ones, let me know below in the comments!
Since the show was running a tad late due to lots of entries, we opted to just stick him into the 2′ division instead of waiting for the 2’3 due to his temper tantrums and lack of entries in the 2’3. Even though he was a brat on the ground, he performed like a rock star and put down two of his best trips to date and flatted beautifully. I was sure that he was going to explode under saddle, but to my surprise, he pulled it together for his classes and behaved like a champ – even when the horse in front of him in the warm-up arena bucked its rider off.
There was a definite improvement from the last show, which is so rewarding to see. His jumping rounds are really starting to come together and are looking smoother and smoother each time out. Of course, height is not an issue – it’s just everything in between haha! Unlike the last show, his turns to the jump were much smoother with no drifting to the left, and his pace was much more rhythmic. The only blip was that he trotted before the second jump in one of the outside lines, but I would much rather see him go slow than run at the jumps. I know he can’t wait until he gets to jump the big boy jumps – these are just speed bumps to him!
His flat work has continued to improve as well. He is continuing to build fitness and is now getting strong enough to really hold himself together rather than relying on the rider’s hand to hold him. His transitions are getting quicker and smoother as well. We are continuing to build his confidence and fitness, and it is really starting to pay off. Overall, I was very impressed with his improvement and behavior under saddle! I couldn’t have asked him to be a better nugget for my trainer. She has done an excellent job with him so far! I was beaming with pride the whole time he was in the ring. I am just so blessed to own a horse as wonderful as him – even if he was a jerk on the ground yesterday.
All in all, I would definitely consider this show a success despite the rocky start. He kept me on my toes all day and almost drove me crazy, but I was incredibly proud of him for pulling it together in the ring and giving my trainer some great rides. Since he is not usually a brat on the ground, I am just going to attribute it to having to stand at the trailer without hay for hours. I can’t blame him for getting impatient, really. On the bright side, working through his bad behavior gave me a huge confidence boost. A few months ago, I would have been a nervous wreck if I had to handle him acting like a fool. He can be quite a handful sometimes, but I guess that just comes with the young horse territory!
I also wanted to give a huge thank you to everyone who had a part in running Equifest! It definitely isn’t easy to host a horse show, but they pulled it off with great success. Everyone at the show was so friendly and made our experience a great one. If you are looking to attend a nice schooling show with friendly staff and a nice setup, definitely give Equifest at Wisteria Farm a try! Here is the link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/equifestatwisteriafarms/
Anyway, I can’t wait until his next show the weekend of March 10th! It will be his second “big boy” weekend show, so hopefully, he will be on his best behavior! I am really looking forward to the first full weekend show of the year!
Who doesn’t love SmartPak? Their outstanding customer service, knowledgeable and friendly staff, fast shipping, and convenient supplement system makes them extremely popular in the equestrian community. After all, who doesn’t love a company that takes care of their customers?
My journey with SmartPak began in 2011 when I purchased my first month of supplements for Diablo. Let’s just say that it was love at first sight. Ever since that day, I have been an avid SmartPak user. In fact, both of my horses receive SmartPak supplements every month like clockwork and a SmartPak box can be found at my front door almost every other week. However, this post isn’t going to be about their supplements or other products, even though I think they’re awesome. I’m here to write about their line of blankets and sheets. After all, I do have a slight addiction to blanket shopping.
SmartPak Deluxe High Neck Turnout Sheet
I took the plunge into SmartPak’s blanket and sheet line this past November when I purchased their high neck turnout sheet for Diablo to expand his wardrobe in preparation for clipping season. I wasn’t ready to break the bank on a sheet when I had to buy a full, new wardrobe for Diablo’s baby brother. The SmartPak Deluxe High Neck Turnout Sheet caught my eye while I was browsing the site and before I knew it, it was being shipped to my house.
Fit: The sheet itself looks absolutely stunning on the horse and fits true to size in my opinion. The shoulder of the blanket is just wide enough with the cut that it allows the horse to have a full range of motion while staying snug against the body to prevent frequent snagging. If you have a horse with wide shoulders, this sheet could be the one for you – I haven’t experienced any rubs or slippage even though Diablo has wider shoulders. The material that it is made of seems to be very durable as it is made of 1200D rip-stop material. It’s high neck design also keeps Diablo dry, even in the pouring rain, and does not rub his withers like other blankets tend to do. The waterproofing of the sheet is top-notch, and he always comes in dry and warm. The stitching also seems to be quite durable and sturdy, which as we know, is getting to be pretty rare nowadays. I ordered my sheet with a red monogram on the left flank, and it looks very nice on Diablo’s black sheet.
Hardware: It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of the closures on Amigo’s Wug blankets. However, I feel that the hardware on the entire blanket is sturdy enough to withstand wear and tear while also making putting the sheet on a breeze. The quick-clip closures on the front of the sheet are relatively easy to snap in cold weather, and I haven’t had any problem with any of the snaps sticking or the straps lengthening during use.
Warranty: The deluxe sheet is covered by SmatPak’s 100% Happiness Guarantee. Despite what many people think, only the ultimate blankets are covered under their 10-year warranty.
Price: $136.76 (includes 5% USEF discount and 10% SmartPerks discount)
Rating: 9/10 – If this sheet was also covered under the 10-year warranty, I would give it a 10/10! Overall, the sheet is absolutely amazing for the price and value. I will definitely be purchasing one for Dies.
SmartPak Ultimate High Neck Turnout Blanket
I managed to snag this blanket on clearance for a whopping $90 during SmartPak’s end-of-the-year sale! How could I possibly pass up on such a great deal? It has quickly become Diesel’s main blanket since his Amigo Hero has taken quite a beating. It’s no secret that young, rambunctious horses can give their blankets a run for their money. Sadly, the Amigo Hero blanket that I bought him a month ago has been torn seven times in the last month and is currently being repaired in hopes that it may last the rest of the season. Let’s just say that 600D is not strong enough to withstand the tornado that is a baby horse – lesson learned.
Fit: Since I bought this blanket when it was on clearance, I was limited to purchasing a size 78. I originally thought that it would be too big on Diesel as he normally wears a 75 in Amigo blankets, so I was expecting it to just become a spare to switch between both of my boys. However, the 78 fit Diesel quite well. That leads me to believe that this style runs a little on the smaller side. However, the sizing doesn’t seem to affect the shoulder area of the blanket as the cut still allows the horse to move without causing shoulder rubs and seems to provide enough give to keep the horse’s movement from being hindered. Plus, the high neck is wonderful for keeping the horse dry while grazing in the rain – Diesel has come in dry after each wear. It also is a plus that the high neck relieves wither pressure. Like the sheet, the stitching and binding seem to be very sturdy and is done very neatly. I saw some reviews on the website where people have had problems with the stitching unraveling, but I haven’t had a problem with that so far. Also, the entire blanket is very well made and seems to be extremely durable with 1050D fabric. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will hold up to Diesel’s antics. Last but not least, the color I received, midnight blue, is absolutely stunning. However, it seems that they no longer have that color available, which is a huge bummer.
Hardware: The hardware is the exact same as the sheet above with the quick-clip closures on the front. Like the sheet, I haven’t had any problems with any of the snaps sticking or becoming jammed or the surcingles lengthening over time. They seem to be holding up so far.
Warranty: All of SmartPak’s ultimate blankets are covered under their 10-year warranty unless you get embroidery on anywhere other than the surcingles, which is a complete bummer. I was extremely disappointed to find out that I couldn’t get it monogrammed without voiding the warranty. Despite that, the promise of a 10-year warranty on a blanket worn by a young, rambunctious horse is just too good to pass up. If you have a blanket destroyer or just a young horse, I definitely recommend you purchase it! Their customer service is awesome, so exchanging it is a breeze.
Price: $179.59 (includes 5% USEF discount and 10% SmartPerks discount)
Rating: 9/10 – Overall, I would say that the blanket is a definite competitor in the blanket market. Its quality is up there with Amigo blankets, but the 10-year warranty just puts it over the top! If you are looking for a nice, sturdy blanket, this is the one for you! I will definitely purchase it again in the future, and I will be buying several more ultimate sheets and blankets to complete Diesel’s wardrobe. I only docked a point because it doesn’t seem to fit true to size.
The overall verdict: SmartPak knocks it out of the park again! Both the sheet and the blanket have exceeded my expectations so far, and they are both holding on strong. I definitely recommend that you give their blanket line a chance! After all, who could beat owning a blanket with a 10-year warranty? SmartPak, keep up the good work!