Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Warning: Do NOT buy a Volkswagen! They are the worst cars ever.

Just over two years ago, I bought a new car, a 2011 Volkswagen Jetta.

From the start, the power adapters never worked.  At the time, I thought the problem was my old car charger and didn't think much of it.  After all, the car was brand new, obviously there's nothing wrong with it.  Hah!  Turns out, in VW Land, vehicles don't actually have to be 100% functional when new.

The ignition sticks.  Something like 6 months ago, one of my keys broke.  (Keys are the kind that fold and flip out.  The key part broke off the remote control part.)  Then the other key broke.  Then the key broke so much that it's completely unable to turn the key in the ignition.  Of course this happened while I was running errands, so I had to go to a hardware store and leave the car running while I went in to buy a pair of pliers so I could turn the key.  This is super-fun, because the car can sense the remote part of the key and won't run without it, so in order to start the car, I have to hold the remote against the ignition with one hand and use the pliers to turn the key with my other hand.

There's something wrong with the transmission or something.  I don't know yet.  The car's in the shop.  Once on Sunday and once on Monday I started the car and it would not shift gears.  It ran in 3rd gear.  Period.  Both times, I stopped and turned the car off and back on again, and that fixed it.  Last night, I started the car and the check engine light and this little wrench symbol (for service) came on, and there was no indication of gear.  There should be a letter or number showing what gear the car is in (I have no idea what the correct name for that is).  Nope.  Not there.  But it was not shifting again, presumably stuck in 3rd.  I turned the car off and back on several times with no luck.  I drove home at a crawl so as to not drive the RPMs too high.

I emailed Volkswagen about two weeks ago about the first two issues, explaining what had gone wrong and how displeased I was.  I had been quoted over $700 at the dealership to replace the ignition and keys.  I flat out refuse to pay that.  Why should I pay that much money because the ignition is faulty and broke my keys?

Here is the reply I got:

Dear Ms. ,

Your Jetta was built to last, and I apologize that you are experiencing concerns with the ignition sticking.

We appreciate that you have taken the time to reach out to us, and make us aware of the concerns with your key breaking off in the ignition.

I understand you are requesting assistance with the cost of the repair. Volkswagen considers all requests for assistance with a repair outside of warranty on a case by case basis.

I have had the opportunity to research your request. The Jetta is 18,000 miles outside of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty. Volkswagen is unable to assist with the cost of the repair. I apologize, as I know that this decision does not meet your expectations.

We look for every opportunity to assist our customers. If you would like, we can follow up with the VW dealership on the diagnosis for the 12v charger, and work with the dealer to ensure all of our technical resources are being utilized for both repairs.

If you need help locating your nearest dealer, you can do that here:

If you’d like us to follow up on your diagnosis and repairs, please reply to this email with the name of your servicing dealership and your appointment date.

 Kathleen H.
Customer CARE Advocate

To which I say... are you kidding me?  I didn't reply, because why bother? 

Yesterday, with the new shifting issue, I replied:

Hi Kathleen,
I appreciate your sense of humor by starting off your reply with a joke ("your Jetta was built to last"), but unfortunately the situation is beyond humor.  My 1996 Chevrolet Silverado had fewer problems than this Jetta--it made it to well over 100,000 miles before requiring any significant repairs.  It could be argued that the Jetta will certainly last if it cannot turn on and be driven, but that's rather deceitful, don't you think?  My paycheck would last if I didn't have to use it.
I would also like to make you aware of a new issue that has arisen.  On Sunday, I left home.  After about a mile, I realized that the engine didn't sound right and the tachometer was holding rather high.  Apparently, the Jetta decided that 3rd gear was sufficient for everything--stopping, accelerating, going 50mph, etc.  It would not shift, nor would it allow me to shift.  I had to stop the vehicle, turn it off, and turn it back on (always a hassle, given that turning the key requires a complicated dance of holding pliers in one hand and contorting my other arm so the remote portion of the key can be held against the ignition).  The same thing happened yesterday, although I realized what was happening almost at once.
On the bright side, this vehicle will prevent me from becoming a bank robber--a skateboard would make a more efficient getaway vehicle.  Can you imagine trying to make a quick exit in a car that requires two hands and total concentration to turn on, and which periodically goes on shifting strike?  And on top of that, the car is theft-proof!  A car thief would likely sue me for emotional distress caused by the trauma trying to make this car work.

I'm almost impressed by how many problems this car has.  Bravo, Volkswagen!  You must have worked very hard to build a car that is so incredibly terrible.
Bottom line:  This car is a piece of crap.  I will not pay a cent to fix what should never have broken.  Volkswagen obviously does not stand behind their product.  Fine, that's their choice.  My relentless campaign to make sure that anyone who considers buying a Volkswagen is aware that they might as well burn their money is my choice.  To paraphrase William Congreve, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned by the manufacturer of her lemon car."
Or, in the words of the Hulk:  "Don't make me angry.  You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

VW replied within a few hours.

Dear Ms. ,

Thank you for your response, I’m sorry to hear you are now experiencing shifting concerns.

The Powertrain Limited Warranty covers the engine, transmission, drivetrain, and related seals and gaskets for a period of 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever occurs first, for manufacturer’s shortcomings in materials and workmanship, from the in service date of 6/30/2011.

Due to the nature of your concerns, I recommend making an appointment at your local dealership.  It is difficult to make proper repair recommendations without being able to take a good look at your Jetta.

Once the dealership has properly diagnosed the concern, they will be in the best position to determine if any repairs that may be necessary are covered under the Powertrain Limited Warranty.

If you need help locating your local dealer, you can locate a dealer here:

We’d like the opportunity to follow up on your diagnosis and repairs. If you’d like for us to do that, please reply to this email with the name of your servicing dealership and your appointment date.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kathleen H.
Customer CARE Advocate

I bet she does look forward to hearing from me.  Who doesn't enjoy a nicely scathing, sarcastic email?

I replied today with the news of the car being a piece of crap last night and my emergency service trip:

True to form, the Jetta decided that temporarily malfunctioning wasn't sufficient.  When I turned the car on last night, it was not displaying what gear I was in.  Instead, it lit up the engine light and the wrench symbol by the odometer.  Apparently displaying the gear was too much trouble, on top of the engine light and wrench symbol.  It can only put forth so much effort, and coming up with new things to break requires a lot of work.
Once in drive, the car would not shift gears.  I don't know what gear it was in, as Jetta seems to feel that is confidential information.  I'm assuming it was stuck in 3rd, as that's what it's been getting stuck in.  On the one hand, I find it unlikely that the car would bother to pick a new gear; on the other hand, I wouldn't put it past Jetta to screw up as frequently and as variably as possible.  I had a fun drive home, going 25mph in 55mph zones to keep the tachometer from going into the red zone.  Thankfully it was fairly late, so I didn't have a hoard of angry drivers honking at me.  (Don't tell Jetta I said that, it'll make sure it breaks at a more inconvenient time next time.)
I woke up a couple hours earlier than normal so I could get the car to the dealership as soon as they opened.  It was shifting, but the bad lights are still on and the gear light is still off. 
So now I'm driving a loaner (yay!  a car that is not a VW!!!) until the dealership is able to figure out what is wrong.  This had better be covered under warranty, or I will be very displeased.  Lucifer will tremble in the wake of my fury.  Because contrary to Volkswagen's belief, vehicles that are 2 years (and 1 month and 1 day) in use should not break.
On the bright side, it was rather entertaining to watch someone else try to start the vehicle.  Hey, that's an idea--I should bring the car to Volkswagen's headquarters and ask the head of the company to start it.  If s/he is able to start the car on the first try, I'll go away.  If not, I get a new car that's not a useless piece of crap.
The junker is at [the dealership].  I would be more than happy to the scrap the vehicle if that would be easier, because I know how much VW likes doing things the easy way.  Just let me know so I can get my things out.

Moral of the story:  DO NOT BUY A VOLKSWAGEN!  There is absolutely NO excuse for a car with 2 years of use and 55,000 miles having so many problems.

Now what?  Well, I wait to find out what's wrong with my car.  In the meantime, I'll spread the word far and wide.  Buyer beware!  There are much better cars out there... the Ford Pinto springs to mind.

I made a mistake.  I believed the image Volkswagen presents about their vehicles.  I didn't do enough research and I didn't look into the warranty well enough.  Foolish me, I believed that a new car would work well enough that I wouldn't need the warranty.  Rest assured, that won't happen again.

Please share this post.  Warn your family, friends, neighbors, and enemies (even Voldemort doesn't deserve this car)!  Feel free to email Volkswagen and reference my case #813004100.  Let them know that selling junkers is not acceptable.

UPDATE 8/2/13 - I got a phone call late yesterday from the dealership.  They had been working on the car, but had nothing to report yet.  Diagnostics were being done, but they didn't know what the problem was.  It's about 1:00 today, 8/2, and I still have not heard.  WTF is wrong with this car that it takes more than a day just to find out what's broken????  VW has dispatched a regional case manager to work with the dealership and get this fixed, I got a call from them yesterday too.  Still waiting to hear what's going on.

UPDATE 8/6/13 - Well, I got the stupid thing back yesterday.  They were unable to find anything wrong with it.  So next time it screws up (because there WILL be a next time), hopefully it'll be when the dealership is open so I can take it right over.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

In which I ramble about friends and liars.

(This is a long-ish rambling post that has little to do with horses.  Feel free to tl;dr.)

You know those people who are social butterflies and make friends easily and always have a crowd of people around them?  I'm the exact opposite.  My idea of a good time is riding my horse or sitting at home reading a book.  People make me nervous.  I truly have no idea how to make a friend.  The friends I do have are people that I spent time with because of circumstance, not choice, and they were friendly and talked to me, and somewhere we became friends.

I don't want this to sound like I don't value my friends or don't really like them.. quite the opposite.  The few friends I do have are awesome.  Regardless of how we became friends, I'm grateful for them.  I only say all this to explain how hard it is for me to make friends and why I value those I do have so much.

For better or for worse, I am infinitely loyal to my friends.  I will always be on their side.  I'll support them, defend them, never gossip, and so on.

Well, I suppose "infinitely" isn't quite the right word to use.  There is almost nothing that will cause me to end a friendship.  The one thing I absolutely will not tolerate or accept is neglect or bad treatment of my animals.  If a friend knowingly does something to hurt my animal, or knowingly puts my animal in a situation where harm could come to it, even if there are no ill effects.

I have lost a friend or two that way.  And even though I don't have many friends and the ones I have are very important to me.. I don't miss them.  It's not a loss.  I'm sad that they put so little importance on me and my animals.  I'm sad that their true character is so far from what I thought.  But I don't regret the ending of the friendship.

At the same time, I don't harbor any ill will to former friends.  We will never be friends again, but I'm fine with them.  I'm willing to have pleasant conversation and such, but beyond that?  No.  A person who is willing to (potentially) harm my animal is not someone I can ever be friends with. 

This next part is a different topic..

Why do people lie?  I really don't get it.  I'm not talking "oh yes, that hat is lovely" lies.  Big lies.  For example....  The Mare's previous owner lied big time about her history.  According to PO, The Mare was imported from Ireland (she was born in Florida) and she had been an advanced level eventer (she did lower level hunters and equitation).

I suspected it wasn't totally accurate, but it was a few years before I had confirmation.  Not that I care.  The Mare is mine and I love her, regardless of where she's from or what she's done.  It's just so frustrating that people can't be honest.  What's wrong with telling the truth?  I'm not even talking about withholding information, this is inventing a completely new history... which isn't hard to prove or disprove when the horse in question is a Jockey Club registered Thoroughbred.  For a while, I expected The Mare to know things because she'd done advanced eventing.  Okay, I figured she wasn't really an advanced eventer... but surely she'd done some eventing, surely no one would make up that much.. In for a penny, in for a pound, I suppose.

Don't trust people.  If it sounds like it's not true, it's probably not true.

Monday, July 29, 2013

I can be neglectful!

Woohoo!  I no longer have to bring River in at night!  Everyone who does chores is comfortable with him, and if for some reason they're not, they can contact the BO or me.  It's great, I didn't go to the barn for two whole days!

Friday I cleaned sheaths at my old guy's barn.  I did 10 horses, still have a few left.  Most of them were pretty standard.  Plenty of gunk, most had small beans.  But one horse...  He had the mother of all beans.  (Although I'm not sure if it's technically a bean, as it wasn't in his urethra, it was just hanging out in the back of his sheath.)

And I have big hands.  So it's really freaking big.

Only one horse found the process overly offensive... jerk kicked me in the side/back of my thigh and sent me crashing into the wall/floor.  I was Not Pleased.  Horse and I had a come to Jesus meeting, after which he stood perfectly for me to finish.

I have yet to do River's sheath.. it's on my to-do list!  I have my Gallon O' Lube and OB gloves in my car..

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

River has disappeared.

This is not River.

Neither is this

I know what you're thinking: That's River!  He has a star and stripe and 3 socks and lumps on his head and he rocks pink, it must be River!

Well, it's not.  I was fooled at first, too, so don't feel bad.  It wasn't until I got on that I realized that this horse is not River Mountain Rd.

How do I know?  It's very simple.  This horse goes forward.  He walks on nicely.  He trots with purpose.  Asking him for more trot results in MORE trot... if anything, a little bit too much trot.  He listens to leg without me kicking or picking up my heel or nagging.

I'm not really sure what horse this is, but I'm not complaining!  It's pretty nice having a horse who has a working go button!  (Brakes are fully functional, also.)

I don't know where the real River Mountain Rd is, but I'm very much enjoying his twin!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Our lesson on Saturday was really good!  We mostly worked on my position and getting him to listen promptly.  It turns out I have a tendency to nag with my heel because he doesn't really listen when I use leg.  She reminded me many many times to keep my heel down and use my calf, not my heel, on him.  When he doesn't respond, use the whip right at my leg.  It's amazing how quickly that worked!

The other thing that I had never thought of but makes so much sense.... not asking for a lot at once.  He doesn't need to really move forward all the time (at least not for a while).  So what she had me do was, for example, pick up a trot.  Going into a long side, add leg (without raising my heel!) to get him moving forward.  At the end of the long side, take leg off and let him coast on a circle.  Coming off the circle to the long side, add leg again.  Repeat.  This way he's only having to do more for little bit at a time, then he has a chance to relax and do things his way.

We did a tiny bit of canter.  She suggested longeing him... sigh.  I hate longeing him.  Oh well.  We're not even going to think about the right lead for a while.  Just do the walk-trot stuff we worked on in the lesson until he's better to the right.

Here are Princess and The Mare this morning, politely sharing hay:

Monday, July 22, 2013

May show pictures!

I got some pictures from the show we went to back in May!!!

We are just going to ignore how bad I look in all of them and focus on how adorable River is.

Shoulders.  Eek.

 At least I'm not picking my hands up too soon..

I freaking LOVE him in this one, even though it's one of the worst of me:

I'm holding on to mane for dear life.


He's so good with his knees!

My pony is so wonderful!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Going to forge AQHA papers and show in HUS

River apparently wants to be a quarter horse showing in hunter under saddle.  You know how those people ride and how the horses go?  On a draped rein with the neck more or less level?  Yeah, that's what Riv likes.  Walk-trot only, of course.  I rode briefly last night--it was HOT, poor guy was sweaty just standing in his stall.  The Mare looks like she has a fungus on her back and hindquarters from the salt left by sweat..  Anyway.  We pretty much just trotted around on a loose rein and he was all quiet and relaxed with that level neck and head set.  We cantered briefly, which was fine.

Lesson tomorrow.. the weather had better break!  It was over 80 degrees at 8:30 this morning, yikes!  No riding tonight, it's trivia night.

Despicable Me 2 was SO GOOD.  It's absolutely hilarious and adorable and clever.  Love it.  If you haven't seen Despicable Me or the sequel, you must watch!  It kind of reminds me of Shrek.  Not in terms of storyline, but it's a very funny movie that kids enjoy and adults enjoy even more because they get more of the jokes.  I was driving home from the barn last night thinking about the movie and I literally laughed out loud.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Next stop: Olympics!

Man, we are progressing at the speed of light!

Last night, after only about 8 months of preparation...

We cantered allll the way around the ring!  First time since Thanksgiving, when the terrifying dog spooked Princess which in turn terrified me.  Go us!  Oh heck, go ME!  River's been fine, I'm the one with issues.  We cantered a couple circles at our usual end of the ring, cantered all the way around, circled at the far end, and cantered all the way around another time or two.  He is so so so good!!  Mind you, this was all to the left... we tried again and failed again to get a right lead canter.  I'm thinking I'll try once more before our lesson, and if it doesn't happen, I'll leave it until the lesson.

We didn't do too much because it was still pretty hot, although when it's SO hot during the day, suddenly a mere 80 degrees in the evening isn't so bad.  (Although when we halted at the end of the ride and there was no longer moving air, I realized I was dripping sweat.  Gross.)

He's gotten quite good about staying on the second track and not falling out to the rail.  We've also been working on halting, and that's going great.  I don't have to do anything with the reins, just keep normal contact.  I tried asking him to halt on a loose rein.. he slowed down but didn't halt.  Which is fine, I'm just happy that he recognizes the "slow down" seat aids.

We also worked on backing.  This might sound weird or strangely braggy, but... I'm good at getting horses to back.  The first attempt or two might not be too good while the horse figures out what's going on... River tends to ignore, lean, and then stretch his head and neck out weirdly the first time I ask, then he's fine.  I halted him in front of the mirror so I could watch myself..  he backed very nicely, and I couldn't see myself do anything.  It's always so fun when you get the buttons installed and working properly so you don't have to do much.  When I ask to back, it goes like this:  from the walk, sit up, tense abdominal muscles (so my body stops following the motion of the walk), close my thighs/knees on the saddle, close my fingers slightly on the reins.  That gets us from walk to halt.  Then, without changing anything (so still sitting up, tense abs, knees/thighs squeezing gently, fingers closed), I add just a touch of inside leg.  And voila, the horse backs quietly.

Love it.  It's so satisfying.  My old guy is the same about backing, and when he was in work, canter-trot transitions were so fun.  I had a friend ride him in a show for me because I had a broken finger, and one day she was practicing on him.  She's cantering around and cantering around, and eventually she goes "how do I make him stop?"  I was like "oh, it's easy!  You just need to sit up, lift your shoulders, close your thighs, squeeze your fingers on the reins, and then start posting, he'll go right into it!"

One of the many perks of riding one horse all the time, you teach each other your cues.  It's like having a secret language with your best friend.  Except many of the cues are pretty universal, so maybe it's more like eaking-spay ig-pay atin-lay.

No riding tonight, going to see Despicable Me 2!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Boo *sadface*

I completely forgot I already have something happening on August 3, so no show for me :(.  I can't be too upset, though, because the thing I'm doing is pretty awesome--super-awesome farrier is doing a clinic thing and Saturday is anatomy (aka cutting up horse legs and hooves!), so that'll be fun and educational..  Since SAF insists that I am a real farrier (I always think of myself as a trimmer), the clinic is very helpful.  It was actually last year after SAF seeing a trim I did and saying how good it was, and then going to the clinic that I started doing feet.  I have about 10 horses I do year-round, and quite a few more I do over the winter months when they're barefoot.

No show, but I'm taking a lesson on Saturday!  Looks like the weather should break just in time... doing barn chores this morning, it was 75 degrees and 80% humidity.  YUCK.  The only good thing is that the heat has dried out the mud.  I think I hate mud more than I hate heat.  At least you can avoid the heat by going out early or late; you can't hide from mud.

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's too hot!!!!


I hate heat.  I hate it I hate it I hate it!!  My absolute top comfortable temperature is about 75, and that's if it's not too sunny or humid.

Yesterday was terrible.. I got my stalls done at the old guy's barn by noon, then I went to the office to do some work and hang out until it cooled down some... at 5:30, it was still 90 degrees out!  WTF??  By the time I was done with chores, I was beyond gross.  Besides being sweaty and dirty, I had sawdust embedded in my jeans and in my boots and glued to me with sweat.  Ewwwwwwww.

I rode on Saturday.  He was really good, and I worked the snot out of him.  I wasn't really intending to work him so hard, he was just being good enough that I wanted to get stuff done, but not so good that there was nothing to do.  It makes sense in my head.  The past few rides we've been working on listening to what I say, not what he thinks he should be doing; and also communicating what I want better.  For the former, lots of walking down the quarterline or second track/inside track... sometimes we leg yield to the rail, sometimes we keep walking on a straight line and do not drift out to the rail.  For the latter, really trying to let him know in advance of trot-walk transitions.. making sure to slow posting, close my thighs on the saddle, and gently squeeze the reins.  And what do you know, when I let him know what's going on, the transition is a million times better!

We cantered!  First time in a long time... a month and a half or two months.  Left lead, he picked right up when I asked.  It wasn't necessarily the prettiest transition (I don't actually know, I don't pay attention to the quality of canter departs, just whether they actually happen), but it was prompt.  We did a few circles before stopping...  I still can't bring myself to let him A. canter down a straightaway; or B. canter past the open door at the far end of the indoor.  I asked for a right lead canter.... it didn't happen.  He got quick and unbalanced and tense.  I tried two or three times and called it quits.  Poor guy was huffing pretty good, so I'm sure cantering his hard way when he's getting tired is hard on him.  We ended with lots of stretchy trotting, both directions.  He loves to stretch.

One thing that bothers me is that he doesn't look as good as he feels.  He might feel soft and appropriately round, but then I see video and he doesn't look it at all.  I'm not sure what's going on with that.  I tried to ride with shorter reins, thinking maybe I just didn't have enough contact.  I think maybe he was better?  I generally focus more on how my horse feels rather than how he looks, but when the two don't match up at all I have to wonder.

I am hopefully going to take my birthday present lesson soon!  Although maybe not this week because it's so bloody hot..  I will probably also beg the trainer to please get on him figure out the right lead canter, pretty pretty please.

Show coming up!  Saturday August 3.  It's dressage and combined test.  I'm thinking I'll probably do the same as last time--Intro combined test, plus a couple dressage tests.  I'm very tempted to do a Training level test, even if the canter isn't too good, just so he can do a stretchy trot, lol.  Unless there are so many entries they need two rings and therefore two judges, the judge is a woman I took some lessons from a few years ago, and I really loved riding with her and I learned a lot.  I'd actually be willing to suck up having to ride outside if she's judging!  I haven't sent in my entry yet, hopefully I can get my lesson in before the closing date so trainer can offer some input on what we should do and help settle my fears.

In conclusion, here's a picture of my cat Axle and my dog Amos outside this morning waiting to be let in:

(I've quit actually putting Amos on the cable unless he's going to be out for a long time... he's too old and arthritic to go far, plus he can't really breathe too well.  But he's alive, even though he was supposed to die about 7 months ago!)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Forgot to mention...

I rode on Wednesday and it was quite a good ride.  I asked my BO to video us...  He feels much better than he looks.  I didn't upload the video, but here's a still:


Meh ride

Rode last night... meh.  Tried a new bit which he did not seem to like, so I called it quits pretty quickly.  And that's about it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wonderful ride last night!

I felt like skipping after I rode last night.  He was just so darn GOOD!!!  We had some lightbulb moments, which was fantastic.  We've had so much trouble with staying on the bit on a straight line, but last night we got it!  Which is not to say that we're ready for our grand prix debut, but we're making progress.

Back in September we took a lesson with the dressage trainer I adore, and I had him in my head last night.  I focused on what he had said about asking him to soften and flex at the poll both ways.  So as we're going around the ring, it's flex left-straight-flex right-straight-flex left, etc.  I'd kind of tried to do it before without any success, but he started getting it and he went SO much better!

I might be a little biased, but he is such a good looking horse!!  (Wearing his new saddle pad!)

OMG I lean forward so much!  But he looks good anyway.
He does love his stretchy trot.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


This blog hit 10,000 views this week!  WOW!
I love looking at my stats, so I'm going to share some with you....

My audience is primarily in the US, with second place going to.... Russia?  Really?  Are the antics of an adult with loves pink and glitter and her long-suffering horse really so popular in Russia?
Windows by far the most popular operating system, and Firefox is the most popular browser (yay Firefox!).
The most popular posts of all time?
1. Handy-Dandy Super Easy Fun Saddle Pad Making Photo Guide
Nearly 800 views and no one has posted a picture of their saddle pad.  *sadface*
2.  Amazing Leather Care Products
150 views in two days with good reason--the stuff is the best!
3.  Not About River
 Yes, third place with over 100 views has nothing to do with the subject of this blog.

 Traffic sources
COTH is obviously the big one with over 2000 views.  Google is next with over 250 views, then Insanity in the Middle with about 150 views.

Now for my favorite part...  Search Keywords..  I wish I'd kept record of these, because Blogger only shows me the top ten of all time.  There have been some interesting ones, but I can't remember them.... So these are the top 10 things that people put into a search engine that leads them to this blog.

1. - 14 pageviews
 Okay, so this one is boring.
2.  against my better judgement - 10 pageviews
 Cool thing--if you Google it, this blog is the third result!
3.  lumps on the head - 9 pageviews
 Thank you, people of the internet.  Searching for lumps on the head brings you to this blog.  Apparently.  I haven't been able to find it.
4.  suzanne warmack - 6 pageviews
  Google Suzanne Warmack and this post is the 4th result.  Hopefully people Googling her realize how wonderful she is!
5. against my better judgment - 3 pageviews
  Automatically redirects to the correct spelling, yet this is the 5th result.
6.  face hair loss in horses - 3 pageviews
  Poor River can't catch a break.. people finding him because of his lumps and last year's hair loss.
7.  pulled mane - 3 pageviews
  Pretty benign.
8.  seasonal alopecia in horses pictures - 3 pageviews
  Come on, guys!  Let the poor guy live the embarrassment down!
9.  4 step mounting block - 2 pageviews
  Picture of my homemade mounting block is pretty close to the top of the picture results!
10.  against my better judgement blog - 2 pageviews
  Oh yeah, we're number one!

So there you have it!  Thanks for reading, commenting, searching, etc!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Amazing leather care products!

If you're on the eventing board on COTH, you're probably familiar with this....

Higher Standards Soap and Balm
(Use CAMP20 through the end of the day (sorry, should have done this post sooner!) to save 20% on your order!)


The soap is pretty good.  I wouldn't say it's OMG the best stuff ever (although I think it's on par with, if not better than, any other product I've ever used--just not like a million times better), but it's a darn good product.  It works well with very little effort.  Gunk that would normally have me pulling out a butter knife and toothbrush is taken care of with some scrubbing with a sponge (or, if it's stubborn, something with a bit more texture, like a towel).  I think my favorite part of the soap is that it's designed to be a conditioning soap and it's good for the leather, so I can be lazy and not worry about rinsing the soap off really well.  Actually, I've started just wiping the soap off with a towel, not even rinsing it.  It's also nice on your skin.  It won't leave you wanting to scrub your hands when you're done.  It's not as sudsy as, say, Lexol, which can be deceiving, so don't expect tons of foam.

The soaps are scented, but they're not overwhelming.  I have two--vanilla/lavender and citrus/ginger (I'm not a rosemary fan, so not planning to get the rosemary/mint).  I'd seen scented saddle soaps in the past and my thought was "why would you care if it's scented?  Who cares if the leather smells good?"  It doesn't make the leather scented at all, you can only smell it while you're cleaning.  IMO, the soap itself is worth the price, so it's not like you're paying extra for a scent.  The scent is just a perk.  So if you're thinking "oh, I don't like scented things, blah blah blah" don't worry about it.  I promise the scent will be very mild. 

An 8 ounce jar of soap is about $15.  It might seem pricey, but this stuff will LAST.  I've cleaned several things with it and I rub the sponge hard on the soap, trying to get a lot on, and I've barely made a dent.  Even if you clean your tack every day, I would expect one jar to last at least a couple months.  And once you've got your leather clean, you won't need much at all to keep it clean.

To recap the great things about the soap:  It works well, it works easily, it doesn't need much (or any) rinsing, it doesn't leave your hands gross, and it lasts.


I effing love this stuff.  My love for the balm makes me want to break my resolution to keep my blog more-or-less PG.  I want to bust out with profanity to describe how amazing this leather balm is.  So as you're reading, insert the f word repeatedly in a way that conveys extreme excitement and enthusiasm.

The balm is more expensive (about $19 for 8 ounces) and won't last as long as the soap.  I don't care.  I love it.  I'd marry it and have its babies.  Picture those "what would you do for a Klondike Bar" commercials, only with me and Higher Standards Leather Balm.  There you go.

I apply with my hands.  It's about the consistency of firm butter or cream cheese, but easily softens and spreads.  My method is to rub my fingers on the balm to get a decent coating on my fingertips, then dot the balm onto the leather, then spread it all over and rub it in.  It doesn't take a lot (though obviously it depends on the condition of your leather).  It rubs in very easily, rather than just sitting on top.  I had been using Passier Lederbalsam prior to this, and I found that product always created a tacky layer on top of the leather, rather than really penetrating.  I did feel that the leather was a teensy bit tacky for a couple hours after applying, but I think that's because I didn't use a cloth to buff when I was done.  But within a few hours, any tackiness was gone.  My tack is soft and supple and gorgeous.

One of the best things about this balm?  It's not gross on your hands!  Neatsfoot oil, Lederbalsam, Lexol, whatever... I finish my tack and immediately go to the kitchen to scour off the product with dish soap.  Higher Standards leather balm?  I wiped my hands on a towel.  It's not gross.  It's not sticky or stinky or greasy or anything.  It's like a really nice lotion.  Love it.  The only situation where this balm won't be my go-to product will be really dry leather... for that, I'll still start with a neatsfoot oil dunk.  Everything else, though, will be HS balm all the way.

Okay, pictures!  I only have one side of my saddle because I had already cleaned one side of it before it occurred to me to take pictures.




Yeah.  This stuff freaking rocks.  Go buy some.  I just ordered 3 more jars of the balm.  The two jars of soap I have will last me quite a while, but I love the balm so much I can totally see myself stealing other people's tack to use it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Titles are hard.

Wednesday I rode Princess.  He was wonderful.  Obviously.  We did lots of trot-walk-trot-walk transitions because he likes to lay on my hands in the down transitions and be lazy in the up transitions.  After approximately 10,000 transitions, he was doing better, although if we went more than halfway around the ring without a transition, it was back to square one.  Oh well.  He also is better about going on contact after a bunch of transitions, which is nice.

Thursday I went out at like 9PM to ride. Had him on crossties, had his fly sheet off, was just about to put his saddle on when BOOM went the neighbor's fireworks.  Completely forgot about the Fourth of July.

As wonderful and perfect as he is, I was not about to test his tolerance of very nearby fireworks.  So back in the stall he went.

Friday a friend and I went to Stagecoach (for those who are not in WNY, it's the only good tack store in WNY, and it's about a 90 minute drive for me).  I managed to not spend a ton of money!  Yay!  River got a new saddle pad (because he doesn't have enough or anything...) and a himalayan salt block.  The Mare got a hyaluronic acid supplement to go with her MSM and ranitidine (aka Zantac, an ulcer medication).  And I got a couple pulling combs because I lose them all the time, and some tack cleaning sponges (more on this in another post at some point).

Super Awesome Farrier also came on Friday.  River needed new shoes.  *sad face*  When SAF is due, I should just sign my paycheck and hand it over to him, rather than going through the trouble of depositing it and then writing him a check.  Princess and The Mare both have yucky feet thanks to all this miserable rain we've been getting.  Sigh.  I hate rain and mud.  Also heat and humidity.

It's been a yucky week.. very hot and very humid.  Granted, for me hot = over 75; very hot = over 80.  I just HATE hot and sticky and wet weather.  You can't do anything about it.  When it's cold, you can put on a coat and move around to get warm.  When it's hot, you can lay spread eagled in air conditioning with a fan on you.  Not very practical when you have work to do outside.

I think that's more or less all for now..

Monday, July 1, 2013

I rode!

For like 10 minutes.  But I rode!  He was a good boy like always.