Vikings!

Adventure avaits! For Narnia! And Aslan! And no we aren’t going to let those two hobbits behind, so we have to go and pick up those two too! Alright, let’s drop the fantasy and have a look at history. We Norwegians were pretty feared as the vikings we were, and to celebrate their culture, their handcraft and their legacy, we teamed up with Iver and Matilde to be vikings for a day.

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Borrekaupangen, a viking market hosted every second year. People travel from the entire country and from abroad to attend the marked with their handcrafts to sell, or to buy, or to just relax in the athmosphere. We went with our horses to ride through the narrow market in order to set the mood a little. Horses have always been important in our history, and bringing them to such an event made an impact on a lot of the attenders.

The horses did absolutely amazing, and didn’t even spook once. We encountered a lot of things we’ve never been forced to deal with before, yet the amounts of people was probably the biggest challenge (even though the horses were completely calm, so I guess it wasn’t that much of a challenge). Children of all ages, people who have never seen horses before, old people, wheelchairs and strollers – all cramming togheter in the marked to get a look at all the crafts presented. Brego even at one point had a toddler repeatedly slapping his eye, because the parents didn’t realize you need to guide a toddler to actually pet an animal. Brego handled it very well.

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Emma

In the sunset

As the temperatures in Norway have been absolutely burning the past two months, none of our horses have had a very active lifestyle. Training increases the risk of overheating, sadly, and even though they spend a lot of time in their cooler stable, it doesn’t help how many cold showers you give them. Hot is hot!

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So the solution has been to train more during the evening. Diego is no evening horse, and neither is Lillen, but Brego gets super excited when I bring out his tack! So I’ll take that as a hint!

Out of shape and out of balance, but we got some cute pictures in the sunset yesterday, so here you go.

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Emma

New in; Nature’s Botanical

Reklame/produkter sponset av Nature’s Botanical

All Natural fly repellent? That actually works? Sounds a little too good to be true. I’ve tried my fair share of fly repellents that haven’t done the job, all of them varying from super-not-natural to super-very-natural to home-made. I was thrilled when Nature’s Botanical offered to send me some of their products to try out, and oh boy!

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Most insect repellents in Norway are based on Permethrin or DEET. The Permethrin based ones have been working pretty well, but the chemical is heavily regulated and is a danger to water supplies (and not recommended for use on skin). Several of my friends horses have had some pretty bad allergic reactions to DEET, so I figured I wasn’t thrilled to try that out either.

When Nature’s Botanical say they are all natural, they mean all natural, and having their products based on Rosemary and Cedarwood oils gives of an incredible scent too! Not lemon-y, just fresh and a little rosemary-y? (Wow, Emma, I wonder why *hark* rosemary oil *hark*). I also think the fact that their natural ingredients aren’t any wonky natural ingredients, is a huge plus. Lot’s of things can be labelled natural, and still be rather dangerous.

I tried it out on myself first, and let me repeat myself; oh boy! When they said that the cream needed to be applied as if it was sunscreen, they weren’t messing around. Once my arms and neck was covered, the mosquitos got so offended they tried crawling into my nostril and into my ears! I was quite quick to cover up those areas too! x) Once I had mosquito-proofed myself, they didn’t even bother to think of me as a potential meal. For other bugs, you probably don’t have to be as thorough when applying. Or if you have more lazy mosquitos where you are from.

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After a quick patch test on Lillen, we hacked out into mosquito land (and horsefly land! ugh) the next day, and even though he was sweaty and quite the luxurious target for flying terror bugs, they kept their distance. They still came to check us out, but didn’t find anywhere good to settle down, so we had a fairly quiet and calm hack. Applying the cream thoroughly on more exposed areas (face, prive parts, chest area etc.), and the rest in a light mist of the spray, we were more than covered enough!

Although their products work as an insect repellent, the ingredients are also quite useful for a lot of other stuff. I’ve applied it to itchy mosquito bites and had quite the sudden relief, I’ve used it as a hand lotion after a long evening of leather crafting, and I even had one of those kinda ingrown (sorry, gross) pimples that made half my face a swollen and sore, and go figure, my skin calmed down a lot after applying the cream.

The lotion comes as a roll-on (50ml) and on a spray bottle (125ml, 500ml and a 5L refill), and even though the roll-on is made for humans, it makes applying it on a horse face a lot easier. The spray works like a “normal” bottle of bug repellant. They also have a cream version – I have my 100g down in the stable for pony faces (because my roll-on is never where I need it to be) and one 50g by my bed, because I cannot sleep when itchy and that cream is a life saver.

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Lillen is thankful for his new bug repellant, and is super happy to know it works! Why add lots of stuff to a repellent when there is a natural alternative out there – and that natural alternative is safe to use as well. He is however a bit insulted that he isn’t allowed to eat it, and that the one time he actually did manage to eat my hand with the cream on, it didn’t at all taste as good as he had hoped it would. Brego was offended I applied it to his face, but that is the norm with him, and after a headbutt (and a little pep talk about anger management) I think he too learned the lesson; the fresh smelling natural bug stuff is doing its job! Wohoo!

If you wish to learn more about Nature’s Botanical, you can check out their website at https://naturesbotanical.com/, where you also can ask whatever question you want, or order their products. They are Australia based, but ship worldwide without any fuzz. I got my parcel less than a week after they sent it, and I live on the other side of the world!

Nature’s Botanical were kind enough to send me their products for free, but that does in no way alter my view on their products. I decided to write this blog post out of my own will, and trust me when I say my 50g cream and the 50ml roll-on is going EVERYWHERE with me this summer! And for all of those out there who follow me on Instagram; pay attention to Monday. We have a little surprise for you! 😀

Emma

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New in; Scharf nr. 9

Reklame; helmet sponsored by Nygaard Nordic

I love blogging about new equipment, and I’ll make no exception for my new helmet either. I had tons of fun reading about your thoughts on helmets on Instagram, so I thought it was about time to share with you my new one! This little review is something I’ve taken a long time to write to make sure I have a proper feeling of the product.

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I love trying new brands and experimenting with new designs, but when it comes to helmets, I’ve been addicted to the simple velvet helmets. They look great on the dressage arena and I absolutely love the look and feel of them. But my god are they heavy! And my god do they lack proper ventilation for those summer sessions in the sun. They are the helmet equivallent to a couch potato.

And seeing as my couch potato velvet helmet “expired”, I had to look for a new one with the proper approvals for competition. You need the VG1 approval here in Norway, and my old one simply did not have that.

So I started searching around for a new helmet. Should I go with the same one I already had? Or should I try something new? And if I were to try something new, what on earth should I choose? (Fun fact; on Instagram, only 30% of you said you were comfortable with trying new brands of helmets!) There’s an entire jungle of helmets out there, and once you think you have control, a new brand pops up and catches your eye.

And that is kinda what happened with Scharf. I had seen them slowly pop up in stores here and there, and I liked the look of them. Especially those with a velvet look on the sides. It provided enough “dressage feel” for me, and the ventilation wasn’t shouting in your face. Also the top part came in a matte finish, which is great for those who want your pony to shine brighter than your head.

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My helmet is the Number 9 helmet in black, and the size S/M (you can also get XS/S [48-52, great children’s helmet!] and L/XL [57-62]). It can be adjusted from size 53 to 57. I feel like the helmet is a bit generous in size, so if you’re worried your head might be too big for Scharf’s size 57, don’t worry. I’ve used 58 (in more expensive brands) and 57 (cheaper brands) and have plenty of room in it. This also applies for the other people I know who owns the same helmet – they all agree it’s a bit generous 🙂

I can also add that it fits my egg-shaped oval head, which is yet another bonus. Most of the helmets I try on tip sideways and out of “position” when I move my head, which can be a serious problem if you’re thrown off your gentle steed and land on your head.

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The helmet feels great and have many neat details, especially the silver piping along the top which is also reflective. Love it! It’s very lightweight, and has so much ventilation I have yet to break a sweat when I ride with it. I was a bit worried that the brim on the helmet would be too small and look silly on my head, but it doesn’t! Props to having it made of leather, it looks cool and will bend away if you faceplant in the dirt. I think my neck would appreciate that, if I ever were to land face down from a fall.

The brand is on the more expensive side of the scale, but I feel that the quality matches the price, so if you do decide to buy one I’m sure you’ll be very happy with yours too.

It comes with a little bag to keep it in, and the packaging looks secure. I was a bit worried the post office would murder the package and damage what was inside, but the helmet is well protected in the box and if you do decide to order it online, it’ll arrive safely.

Now, for reading through all this text, I will award you with the virtual blogger cookie known as some extra pictures! If you have any questions about the brand or the helmet, please let me know!

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At the very end of this blog I want to reassure you that a sponsorship does not alter my opinions on the product I am given. I am picky, I do not sugarcoat things, and I’ve used this helmet for over a month before I sat down to write this blog. That ensures I am comfortable about recommending it to you all!

Also, sorry for having a slightly dusty (and/or snowy!) helmet on the pictures! That’s what you get when you freak out about the amount of daylight you (do not) have left and forget to wipe it off. I must say however, whenever I do bother to clean it, it looks brand new again.

Emma

Saddling up the big guy

One of the most asked questions out there, is how we saddle up Lillen and with what. There is no secret that our equipment looks a bit odd, so I thought I’d introduce you to the how’s and why’s.

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One of the biggest concern Internet has for Lillen and saddles, is that they are way too far back. Now, I’ve explained this several times, but I’ll gladly do it again: You cannot look at the placement of the girth when you look at where his saddle has to sit.

Seeing as he is a gigantic horse with anatomically fitting gigantic shoulder blades, the saddle needs to be further back then we’re used to. On a normal horse, the rule of thumb says you should be able to fit three fingers in-between the saddle and the end of the shoulder-blade. Seeing as Lillen is a gigantic horse, you need equal gigantic fingers for that rule (of thumb) to be accurate. For us normal people with normal fingers, the space required is probably a whole hand or more. That means his saddle will be further back for him to move freely.

This naturally leads to his girth hanging further back than the “normal”. A draft is not built to carry a saddle, so you will see this on a lot of drafts – but the girth simply can’t be right behind the front legs, because that would require you to pull the girth straps on the saddle further forward and “force” it in place, which again will lead to the back of the saddle being pushed down on his back, and lead to pain.

Another rule (not of thumb this time) is that the saddle should never rest behind the last rib, because his loin cannot carry weight. And all that is true, but if Lillen’s saddle slips 30cm backwards because we didn’t tighten the girth enough, we would still sit on his ribcage because his back is so long. Thus not damaging his back, nor putting weight on his kidneys. It’ll just look a little weird. Also keep in mind that Lillen carries no more than about 5% of his weight when we ride him, so even though saddle fitting has to be taken serious, a small mistake won’t destroy him.

Now, looking at the saddles we’ve used for Lillen, they often puzzle people a little because they look very different.

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This is the saddle many wonder about. This saddle is a treeless one; it doesn’t have a brand on it and we bought it secondhand, but we assume it’s from Hööks. Probably an older version of this one. It’s pretty ugly and has surely seen better days, but it works pretty much like a bareback pad. Underneath we usually have a Grandeur pad for better weight distribution, or a reindeer pelt (for the same reason).

The fact that it is treeless also gives ut a little ease on where we can put it. No tree means rubbish weight distribution (which we try to compensate for by adding proper pads), so the saddle wont push down on his back on places where we don’t sit. Now, I apologize for my rubbish english (it’s my second language, I know) and ability to explain, but hear me out:

A normal saddle with a tree (dressage, show jumping, western saddles etc.) will take your weight and even it out on the whole surface of the saddle. Meaning that if the saddle is half a meter long, it will evenly distribute your weight on that half a meter of saddle. A treeless saddle doesn’t do this, and although we attempt to alter it into doing so nevertheless, our weight will never fully reach the end of the saddle. So naturally, if the saddle slips and ends up a bit further back than we planned it to, we will most likely not put weight on his kidneys.

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I even edited in this scapula for you to see what I mean – if the saddle is placed any further forward it will stay on top of his shoulder. Now, if you think that limiting shoulder movement is a totally fair thing to do, sure, slam the saddle on and whip your horse forward! Or maybe accept that this also is an issue when it comes to draft saddle fitting. The girth will be further back, but his shoulder will be free to move.

Also his last rib ends roughly by the calf of the rider, so even though they curve a little, the saddle is not further back than the last rib, ensuring the kidneys are not damaged.

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This is my saddle, and this too is fairly treeless. It’s the Startrekk Espaniola by Deuber und Partner, and have an adjustable gullet (only 1 gullet, but you can adjust it with a screwdriver) and adjustable panels underneath. This saddle sits comfortably on both Lillen and Brego (don’t know if that says more about Brego or Lillen to be honest).

The saddle features a leather “tree” which makes it very stable. It looks and feels like a normal saddle, so it’s also used as a normal saddle. Often seen with just a saddle pad underneath, or a reindeer pelt for better weight distribution.

You can see it here too – if we put the saddle further forward, it will crash into his wither and shoulder. The girth still puts pressure on the breastbone (remember that his ribcage is huge) and doesn’t cause him pain. We also have a very loose girth when we ride, so he have no issues with this setup.

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Now, I don’t actually own this one pad anymore, but from time-to-time I post pictures of it, so I thought I’d let you know. This is the Christ Horsedream Iberica Plus, a bareback pad made of sheep skin. It has no tree nor gullet and is soft and squishy all around. I sold this because I didn’t use it a whole lot, but now I regret that so I’m looking for a new one.

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Also we ride a lot like this. Bareback! Simply because there are no good draft tree-saddles that we can actually afford. That is also the reason why saddles are treeless, it is way more difficult to find and fit a “proper” saddle and saddles like we own tend to be more comfortable for him.

If you see a picture/video of the saddle any further back than pictures in this blog post, know that it is because it has slipped and that we most likely have adjusted it seconds after the pic/vid was taken.

And as far as actually putting the saddle up there, we just lift it up like we would on any other horse. If we don’t feel like stretching up on our tippytoes for that, we get a stool. Nothing special to see there 😛

Emma

 

Mini Haul; Arctic Equestian Games

Arctic Equestrian Games – the horse show Norway loves. Whilst it isn’t as hyped up as Oslo Horse Show, it is a far more pleasant place to be. Calmer atmosphere, better surroundings. Also there aren’t as many stores and stands staying there, but I did manage to spend some money! So here’s my mini haul!

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My purchases were mainly aimed towards Diego and our desire of competing a little this summer, and seeing as my previous set of white brush boots were in horrible condition (which ultimately lead to their death in a trash can), I had already decided to see if I could find a good set for both everyday use, photoshoots, training and out competing. I did drool a little on LeMieux’ schooling boots, but it’s fair to say they were far over my budget.

At Horze I found these “Signature Boots”, and after some back and forth I did end up going with them. I got size medium for his front legs and large for his hind, I have yet to try them on but Horze tends to be fairly standard sized.

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From Horze I also got this super cute shirt, with pinstripes on the collar and the cuffs. The shirt itself is mainly mesh fabric so I should be able to ride with it during summer too. Long sleeves in the sun is a great thing, and it also means my pale arms won’t blind the other riders on the arena. Win-win?

This shirt was on sale, whilst I the boots were not.

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From Skoies I found these bell boots in a sales bucket. I have struggled like hell to find a pair of white bell boots in extra-large. Or; they do exist, but only with a lot of fur/fleece on them. And although they might look fluffy and nice, they catch sand that scratches against the skin. Some horses don’t bother, but Diego get blisters, so nah. These from Kingsland were super pretty so surely they ended up home with me too!

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The biggest investment however, was a Weymouth. Now, I’ve tried a lot of different ones on Diego and he hates them all (whoo…). Small tongue ports or no tongue port is a no-go for him, so I thought “what the hell” and decided to find myself a good quality one.

Now, I had originally been thinking about Sprenger. However, they are pricey. So I studied the Weymouths from Sprenger I actually enjoyed the look and feel of, and had a look around for something similar yet a little less painful on the wallet.

On a wall with 25% off I did find this version from Bomber. The shanks are more square than round, but I really enjoyed the mouthpiece on it (and I think this is something good to try out on Diego AND Brego), so I’m looking forward to try it on once I finish sowing my Double Bridle. The tongue port looks a bit rectangular on the pictures but it’s really well-shaped and not too tall, so I hope they both like it. It’s in size 13,5cm which should fit them both.

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Now, I hope you enjoyed these pictures from my mini haul! I just have to share with you this one from this morning:

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I love living where I do. The white “ground” is the roof of our stable, and beneath the clouds you can see parts of Oslo, with the Oslo Fjord between us and them.

If you have any questions about the stuff I got feel free to ask! 🙂

Emma

My man Loretto

Loretto was the first horse I bought for my own money. He was old and thin and a little awkward, but I spent all my money on him and before I knew it, he was mine. We were able to stay together for close to four years. He developed PPID (“Cushings” syndrome), and we managed to keep him healthy and fairly sound for a while. Sadly his eyesight became so poor in the end that we chose to let him go.

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I am not a person who is afraid of death. It is just as natural as the birth of something new, except you trade happiness and excitement for sorrow and grief. Being able to allow Loretto to pass on when he no longer could find joy in his everyday life was an honor. Being able to allow him to pass on before it was “too late”, was also an honor. He left us in November 2015, which seems like ‘yesterday’ to me.

It is always bittersweet to say goodbye, yet I know I’d much rather let them go a week “too early”, than realize I’ve waited for too long.

I was able to plan ahead for some time, and booked a session with Anette Augestad (hestefotograf.com). She is on the top 3 list of my favourite equine photographers and I was honored she could make room for us before his passing. It was late November, and if anyone was wondering; yes, the water was very cold. Loretto being as blind as he was, trusted me completely, and did not ask twice about standing beside me in the water. My dress flew in between his legs, I had my barefoot feet right next to his studded hooves, underneath several feet of freezing dark water, and I felt as safe as ever.

Thank you Anette.

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It might just be me, because I knew him so well, but in this picture you can see very clearly how blind he was. That head tilt and those ears gives it away to me.

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I don’t have red hair anymore and I kinda miss it, yet I don’t at all because blond goes so well with everything else! I barely used any red/orange/wine red/dark red/brown clothing because it didn’t match at all. Now I can use anything and still look tidy. Also my fringe is easier to keep; it doesn’t show as well when it decides to curl up and sideways, and that’s actually a bit nice.

Emma