Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Curvy Fit Breeches - Romfh Champion and Smartpak Hadley

As an athletic hourglass shape, I can have trouble finding clothes that fit well, and that includes breeches.  When I say curvy, I mean my waist is 24" and my hips are 34".  To make finding pants even more challenging, I am petite with a 29" inseam.  But luckily I've found a few breeches recently that not only fit well, but come in cute colors and are good quality!  (These are breeches I found and purchased myself, and I am not getting anything in exchange for this review.)

First up, the Romfh Champion has been around a while and is specifically marketed as a curvy fit.  Per the manufacturer: "The Champion also features 'Curve Fit', a special cut to reduce any 'gapping' at the back waist, nipped in at the waist and cut fuller through the seat and thigh. Perfect for the curvy girls!"  I agree with this assessment!

It is a cotton-synthetic blend, with suede seat.  I purchased it in a 24R.  Oddly this size is not on their size chart but it does exist!  For reference, the 26R is listed at 27" waist, 34" hips, and 11.75" rise.  I would call this a true high rise, as you can see it comes exactly to my navel.  The bottom hits just above my ankle.  The pictures don't quite do the color justice - it is called nightshade / omber blue but I would describe it as a charcoal with a dark plum seat.  It has no piping or contract stitching.  It has small-ish pockets in the front; not big enough to securely hold most current model phones.  The belt loops are about 1.5" (it's a 2" loop but the top 1/2" is stitched separate).  

They retail for around $135, but I got a great deal at $65 at Tackoftheday!

Also if you like the fit of these, the Romfh Isabella is the same fit but with a different material (same as the Romfh Sarafina) and also comes with a silicon option instead of suede.

The newer kid on the block is Smartpak's Hadley.  I've long lusted after the cute colors of Piper breeches, and have given into the temptation several times even though I know they don't fit me well.  I always figure it's worth trying, maybe they (or I!) have changed but I always end up returning.  Thankfully they came out with the Hadley, which they don't specifically call a curvy fit but per the size chart a size 24 has a 25.6" waist and 33.75" hips, compared to 26.5" and 32.5" for the Pipers (hence the horrible gaping on me!) 
They are a lighter material than the Champions, and wholly synthetic with a synthetic suede seat. They are a mid-rise, sitting slightly below my navel though a bit higher in back.  One feature I like is the large zippered back pockets, big enough to hold a phone (though some people may not like the extra fabric bulk).  They also have a 2" belt loop.  
These retail full price at $124, but like most Smartpak brand items have frequent sales.  I think these are discontinued colors, so only had limited sizes which is why I ended up getting the green (called smoke pine) in a 26R and the purple in 24R.  I'm okay with the fit on both; you can see a bit of loose fabric on the leg and seat of the green ones but these are fun schooling colors anyways.
They are also available in a knee patch version (which I have a traditional tan pair in).  They were previously available in silicon (and I have a pair of a lovely light grey silicon full seats purchased about a year ago) but that option is not currently available.  I hope they bring them back because I think these breeches present a great value at the price!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Pony Rides

I haven't ridden in over a week, but my son has.  He's mainly been staying inside too because of the smoke, but we've made some short trips to the barn.  Every time I put him in the car he starts saying Cupid!  

Cupid has been very good around him.  Jack helps me brush Cupid.  I put a grap strap on my saddle, and I lead Cupid while dad walks next to Jack.  We walk around the barn for about 10 minutes, then Jack helps me get Cupid's grain. 

I'm not going to make him ride if he's not interested, but so far he seems to enjoy it and luckily Cupid makes a good kids pony!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Herd Life

This is what Cupid's been up to lately: hanging out with his buddies.  I haven't even gotten on him in a full week, since a pretty great lesson last Friday.  

Generally Cupid is in a box stall overnight, and outside with three other geldings from about 9-4.  I think he really enjoys this horsey time.  It is especially apparent if I've taken him off the property, if we get back in time that he can still go out in turnout he is always very peppy walking over, and I imagine he is excited to tell his buddies about his adventures.  

He's been with this same herd for a few years now, and they generally get along though Cupid does get the occasional bite mark.  He is third in the pecking order.  He was bottom horse for a long time, and when the now lowest ranking horse came in I think Cupid was a little too happy to have someone he could push around a bit.  He is not aggressive, but he did seem to enjoy getting the other horse to relinquish his hay pile or move out of Cupid's way.

Cupid actually gets along with, and likes being around, other horses.  He is very friendly.  A little too much some times, he doesn't really respect other horse's spaces and some horses seem to find him a little annoying!  But I've had a few people say that their horse doesn't always like sharing the arena but they don't seem to mind Cupid, so that's good.

On the trail Cupid's gotten a lot more confident leading, and is now starting to take greener horses out to lead the way.  I have been hesitant to do this because Cupid can be a bit impressionable, but I guess I've gotten more confident too.  

So until the air quality improves, that's about all I've got.

Monday, August 31, 2020


As many people in the west, I have bookmarked and been checking purpleair obsessively.  I think I may be becoming a bit immune to the smoke smell, because sometimes I don't or barely notice it, then check only to see the AQI reading above 100.  I'm not sure how accurate this is, sometimes two reading fairly close to each other are very different which could truly be the microclimates but sometimes makes me question the accuracy.  But nevertheless I air on the side of caution and don't ride or keep it super light on those days (which, lets face it has been pretty much every day for the past 2 weeks).

Today I threw on my bareback pad and Cupid and I walked around the property.  The bridle paths have been widened and groomed, so it is pretty nice right now.

We stopped in the arena for a few minutes, just doing a few walk-halt-walk transitions and leg yields at the walk.  We've been doing some turns on the haunches in hand and ridden at the walk, and some simple exercises to try to maintain some semblance of work.  But overall I must say standards are slipping.  Today I didn't change out of my sneakers, and let Cupid stop for some grass.  (He doesn't have any trouble eating with his bit, or even his slightly loose flash strap)

Monday, August 24, 2020

With Gratitude

Cupid is hanging out at an evacuation center.  We had been preparing for this eventuality for several days, but it was still a bit of shock when I got the message from our barn manager, and things happened very quickly from there and all horses were moved within a few hours.  They were not in any immediate danger from the current fires, but with more lightning forecasted, and the visibility so poor, it was a preventive move.

Cupid has all his buddies around him, and seems perfectly content.  It is much harder for us owners, as we are not permitted to take our horses out of their stalls.  But we can visit, and groom them and give them carrots. 

A huge thank you to everyone who is making this as painless as possible, or otherwise helping in the fire relief efforts, including but not limited to:

- our barn manager, for making this very difficult decision and working tirelessly to make it happen smoothly and making sure everyone (horses and humans!) are doing okay

- the volunteers at the evac center, who are feeding, cleaning, walking, and keeping an eye on our horses, and moved horses with expertise, calmly getting everyone loaded and there safely

- my barnmates, who helped move and text me pictures and updates of Cupid

- the tireless firefighters, dealing with danger and poor air quality.  (And may they find this piece of worthless trash: https://sfist.com/2020/08/23/firefighter-battling-czu-lightning-fire-has-wallet-stolen-and-bank-account-emptied-by-thieves/, as well as any looters)

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Windy Hill Trail Ride

Today Cupid and I ventured to a park that I've hiked numerous times, but never rode in.  But it's been a while and I guess I kind of forgot that there are a few steeper climbs - Cupid made it but he was sweating buckets and huffing and puffing!  

We're heading into a bit of a heatwave.  It was in the 80s today, but luckily the first part of the trail was pretty well shaded and then once we got a bit higher there was a bit of a breeze.  (Guess it's not called Windy Hill for nothing!)  The park was pretty empty, we saw a few hikers and cyclists (who were all very nice and stopped and pulled over for us pass, even though the trail is fairly wide.)  We trotted a few stretches early on, but didn't want to wear the horses out too much so walked the rest of the way.

Once we reached the summit, I checked the map and determined we should turn around and return the way we came instead of completing the loop, which would have been a bit longer.  Cupid was a bit antsy when we turned around, and seemed a bit over everything and just wanted to get home.  But luckily he settled back down after bouncing around a bit, and we enjoyed the rest of the ride.

Things have been going fine at the home barn - nothing really interesting for me to write about.  We don't have anything set on the calendar but there are a few events we may consider.  Otherwise, we'll just keep on keeping on!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Roadside Assistance

Coming home from the show, one of the things I've most been fearing since getting a truck and trailer finally happened: engine trouble on the freeway while hauling!  We had been driving about 1.5 hours with the temperature hovering right around 100.  Cupid had his fans going, and I had A/C on.  I started noticing an odd smell coming from the A/C.  I checked the temperature gauge and it was normal, so I turned the A/C off and continued going but saw the temperature gauge quickly start to climb.  I drove just a bit further to see if there was an exit or at least a pull out or something, but not seeing anything I just pulled over onto the shoulder.  It was just wide enough that we were off the road and I could open my door and walk to the front to pop the hood as cars and semis zoomed by so fast and close the truck and trailer were rocking. 

OK so confession time .... despite my father being a car mechanic I don't really know that much about cars.  I can change a tire and have changed my own oil but that's about it.  So when I pop the hood I don't necessarily know what I'm supposed to look for.  But even I had some idea the car is overheating, check coolant levels - confirmed the reservoir was empty.  Checked pressure in hose - seemed low but ... ??? what do I know.  If I had not had Cupid in the trailer I would have called roadside assistance at this point, definitely not drive any more to prevent further damage, but I didn't think that was a great option with Cupid sitting there.
Luckily what I did have is plenty of water, since my trailer has a water tank.  So I used a water bottle to fill the reservoir.  It did not seem to be leaking. I checked the map and realized where I was - very close to a place we've shown before.  In fact it was the next exit, and I knew there was a gas station at that exit.  I pulled back onto the road and drove slowly towards the exit, keeping an eye on the temperature gauge which stayed at the halfway mark.  I bought several gallons coolant at the gas station and filled it.  But I didn't think to buy a funnel and made a bit of a mess pouring it, so then it was impossible to tell if it was leaking.  Whoops. 

I was still an hour from home, and knew I could not drive that far.  I considered my options - trying to arrange someone to come pick Cupid up, either from my barn or the trainer who was coaching me at the WE show who hadn't left yet and would be driving through that way in another hour or two.  But first I thought I'd try calling the place down the road where Cupid and I had shown before (Greenville Equestrian Center).  I got the barn owner's voicemail, which said if it's urgent send her a text.  So I quickly summarized are situation, letting her know I'm not a boarder but have been to her facility for shows and it was an emergency situation, could I please bring Cupid there for the night while I get my truck looked at.  She called me back right away, and said she was not at the barn but would call her staff and have a stall ready.  She was super nice, and gave me the name of her mechanic.

So with the car full of coolant I went down the road and Cupid got a nice cozy stall. He seemed no worst for the wear, rolling in his shavings before hitting his hay. 

Since it was Sunday late afternoon when the problems started, I waited until the next morning to call the recommended mechanic, who said they could look at the truck that day.  So I called my insurance company and had them tow the truck from the barn to the mechanic.  Luckily it was just a valve that needed replacing, not a total blown radiator, and seems fine now with that fix.

I haven't really looked into US Rider - I've heard mixed reviews.  But it's something to consider if I'm going to do more longer distance hauling.  I was really lucky that my breakdown happened where it did, and that Greenville was kind enough to put us up for the night.  And also that my repairs were not something very expensive!