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Top 10 tips for horse shopping in Michigan

Last year I finally made the plunge into horse ownership and let me tell you, although the most exciting decision I had made in a long time, also the most stressful!

Horse ownership was something that I dreamed of ever since I was a little kid…probably ever since I laid eyes on my first horse. Horse-crazy…for sure!  I knew that horse ownership was a big financial as well as time commitment and so I waited until I was in a good spot to actually buy my first horse.

Here are my top 10 tips for horse shopping for the adult beginner to hopefully make your life a little easier!

  1.  Try leasing first!  I needed to know for sure that after all of this time, horse ownership was still something that I wanted and that I could make the time for it.  My trainer had a couple of lovely horses available for me to lease so I leased a wonderful Quarter Horse for close to a year and then a draft cross for a couple of months.  It was the perfect way to do a trial run before buying my own horse and I got to try out a few different types of horses.
  2. Talk to your Trainer or a trusted horse friend.  They can give you the best guidance on what type of horse will work best for you.  Hint, just because the horse looks pretty or are black just like you always wanted, doesn’t mean they have the right personality for you!  I needed a laid back horse that would boost my confidence.
  3. Next figure out some qualities that YOU are looking for. I wanted a gelding — some barns in my area don’t accept mares so in case I ever move barns I wanted to make sure that I still had options.  I also wanted a horse between the age of 6-10 and was started in dressage and jumping.
  4. Budget!  A dirty word but very important!  There are few things you should figure in to your budget.  First of course you will have to figure out how much you have available to spend on the actual horse.  Then consider that most Trainers charge a commission.  Some charge 10% of the purchase price and some will charge you an hourly rate — it will likely vary a bit depending on where you live.  Also consider that you will likely want to do a pre-purchase exam (PPE).  These vary greatly in cost depending on what area you are in, but assume between $300-$500 for a basic PPE.  You will also need to trailer your horse to its new home once you buy so don’t forget to factor in trailering expense.  And lastly, you will need LOTS of tack and horse supplies!  Both times I purchased a horse it was right before winter.  So not only did I have to buy saddles and bridles and bits.  But I also had to purchase a rainsheet, medium weight blanket and heavy blanket.  Whew, that got expensive FAST!
  5. Okay, now that all of that is out of the way, it is time to search for your equine partner!  I have had the best luck on local Facebook groups.  My favorite group in Michigan is called Horses for sale in Michigan (Any Price) DRAMA FREE.  And another great place to look is on Dreamhorse.
  6. Pick apart the ads.  Video and pictures are a must before you take the time to see a horse in person.  The video should showcase whatever discipline they are currently training in.  The flat video should show them transition between all of the gaits without any video editing.  Take note of how the horse acts under saddle — is the rider working hard to keep the horse going?  Is the horse lookey?  What type of bit are they riding in?  What skill level is the rider?  I have found that exceptional riders can  make ANY horse look like a star!  As an adult beginner I found that ads that said:  horse needs to be in regular work or in a program or needs a confident rider was NOT a good match for me!
  7. Have you found a  horse that you are interested in?  Next step is to get in contact with the owner.  First, tell the owner your experience level and what you are looking for.  Ask them how well they think their horse would fit your needs.  Ask if they need any maintenance such as injections, any veterinarian history, what type of training they have had, any show record, buddy sour, barn sour, where are they in the pecking order.
  8. Does everything sound good so far?  Then great!  You are getting closer to horse ownership.  Next I relay the information to my Trainer and show her video.  I don’t have a great eye for horses and she can tell pretty quickly how green they are, if they are forward or lazy, how well they are listening and how good of an Event prospect they might be.
  9. Schedule some time for you and your Trainer to see the horse.  It is customary for the owner to ride first, then your Trainer and then you.  Did everything go well?  Then great, schedule another time to come back and try again.  Typically this time around your Trainer will ride and then you will.  Everything still looking good?  Then one last step to horse ownership.
  10. Put down a deposit and schedule a PPE!  Make sure the buyer knows that you are serious!  Put down a deposit to hold the horse, both times I have purchased a horse the buyer did not require a deposit because I was scheduling a PPE.  At that point it is pretty clear that you are serious.  Discuss with your vet the PPE findings and make sure that any issues that might come up won’t affect your goals.  Congratulations, you are now a horse owner!
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My first horse, Champ.  Belgian draft/TB.  16.1hh and 6 years old when I bought him.
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My current horse, SN Major Pazazz.  Registered Morgan. 15.3hh and 5 years old.

 

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My Stitch Fix review #1

I was pretty skeptical about Stitch Fix —  I had been debating giving it a try for months.  I had created a profile, updated my style profile but couldn’t bring myself to actually follow through.  One of the days I was updating my profile I managed to  schedule a Fix so I thought, what the heck, I’ll try it.  Worst case scenario I lose $20 and ship everything back.

I can get pretty picky about my clothes.  I am picky about the quality of my clothes and the way they fit.  In recent years I have become a bit of a brand snob.  I blame my childhood where I never got new clothes and always had to shop in 2nd hand clothing stores (this was before it was considered cool).  Oh the horrible clothing I wore as a kid!

When my Stitch Fix arrived I couldn’t wait to open up the box!  As I opened it up and started pulling the clothing out, I was pleasantly surprised.  Everything was LOOKING good, now I only hoped it would wear well too!.  I loved the little note from my stylist Jana. She gave me some ideas of how and where to wear some of the items she sent.  I absolutely LOVED that included in my shipment were style cards for each item.  The style cards gave me two different ways to wear each item. I suck at putting together outfits so I loved this little feature!

In general I had asked for casual and business casual items I could wear to work.  Jana delivered on my request!

The first item was Just Black Jimmy Skinny Jeans.  I shimmied into them and crossed my fingers they were going to fit…they did!  They gapped ever so slightly in the back but not bad at all.  Not bad enough that I would need to wear a belt which was great!  And um yeah, don’t mind my hair in most of these pics, I just got back from a bike ride, that was totally piss poor timing for taking photos!

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Next was the Market & Spruce Isabella Dress.  I had requested a dress that I could wear to work.  I like dressing modestly at work and not have to worry about anything looking inappropriate at work.  This dress is perfect for work.  It is long enough for the office and will pair well with a sweater or jacket.

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Here is the Papermoon Jayson Mixed Material Knit Top.  This was the only item I was on the fence about.  I am not a big fan of aztec prints nor beige tops but I have worn it a couple of times and it is growing on me!  Part of the reason I signed up for Stitch Fix was to get out of my fashion comfort zone so I am glad I kept it.

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LOVE LOVE LOVE this jacket!  Monoreno Abram Ribbed Sleeve Rider Jacket.  This jacket is so comfy and flattering.

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Market & Spruce Corinna Striped Dolman Top.  This top is very cute, nicely cut and easy to wear.  I’ve probably worn this top the most out of my Fix.  I love wearing this on Friday’s at work because it wears well at the office and translates well for happy hour!

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So if you are on the fence about Stitch Fix like I was, get off the fence and schedule your Fix!  My third shipment is on the way and I cannot wait to get it.  Stitch Fix review #2 coming soon!  Check out Stitch Fix and my referral link here:  https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/5027699

Have you tried Stitch Fix?  What did you think??

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Troxel Intrepid Helmet – nice low profile riding helmet

I found one, a riding helmet that looks good on.  After a few unplanned departures from various horses over the last few years, it was time for a new helmet.  Really after one fall or after 5 years you should replace your riding helmet so this was long overdue.

It is tough finding a decent riding helmet that doesn’t make you look like a bobble head.  So that is why I am loving the Troxel Intrepid Performance Helmet.  I have a pretty small noggin so I ordered a size small and it fits great.  The helmet is low profile, light weight and super comfortable.

The Self-adjusting SureFit Pro hugs your head and ensures a snug fit.  The chin latch is self locking which is so convenient, especially when you are trying to latch it with gloves on.

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The visor is very stylish and breaks off on impact which makes the functionality similar to a skull cap.  I think this is a very nice helmet, I use it for schooling but I think it can be nice of enough for showing depending on the level of the show.  This helmet retails for around $54.95.  It is of course ASTM/SEI certified.

Black Troxel Intrepid helmet

Hop over to HorseLoverz.com and get $5 off your order!  AND FREE Troxel Hoodie when you purchase the Troxel Intrepid helmet.  A $39.99 value!

$5 OFF orders $50+ at HorseLoverZ.com. Use code 5HORSELUV5

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High protein summer salad

I hit the jackpot at the grocery store last night! Pomegranates are now in season and I was able to snag some nice avocados as they are on their way out of season.

I put together this super yummy salad with some leftover BBQ Skillet Chicken that I cooked up the other night and then some roasted almonds with sea salt and balsamic vinegar topped it off.  I love using just plain balsamic vinegar as salad dressing.

What are some of your favorite salad toppings?

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Summer salad
– 4 oz cooked bbq chicken
– 1/2 medium avocado
– 1/4 cup roasted almonds with sea salt
– 1/4 pomegranate seeds
– 4 cups fresh mix

Nutrition: 580 calories, 36 grams of protein,  30 grams of fat

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Saturday wedding with Rent the Runway

Saturday I attended the wedding of a very good family friend at Island Park in Ann Arbor,MI.  It was such a cute little park tucked away on the North side of campus.  The wedding was so beautiful and the weather was perfect.  Enthusiastic kayakers, canoers and people floating on tubes down the lazy river added some fun ambiance to the wedding ceremony.

I haven’t had a chance to update my dress wardrobe so I was in desperate need of a dress, thank goodness for Rent the Runway!  You can rent designer dresses and outfits that range in price from $30 to over a hundred.  I can always find something fun in the $30 range so no need to spend lots of money to get a cute outfit.  RTR will send you 2 sizes that you select. The many many reviews and user uploaded photos really help you pick out the right size for you.  I simply LOVE this Thakoon dress I picked out for the wedding.  RTR also makes it super easy to ship the dresses back with a prepaid shipping label included with your package plus you don’t have to clean the dress before sending it back.  So easy peasy!

Chrissy RTR

I decided to coordinate my look with a classic French Tip from Jamberry Nails, I think it was a perfect match!  I just love Jamberry French Tips.

Jamberry Nails French Tip