Guest Post Submissions

I have been getting several requests lately for guest post submissions so I have created a page dedicated to those.  I am very selective in the guest posts that I accept and expect posts to be unique to Velvet Rider.  Please review the guidelines for submission at the link below and I look forward to hearing from you!  Thank you for loving and following VR!

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SaddleBox Unpacked: Horse Subscription Box Review + Pics

Not all equestrian subscription boxes are made equally.

I create direct mail campaigns for a living. (Sadly, they’re for corporations instead of equestrians!) Because I deal with things like kit contents, copywriting, design, assembly, and shipping daily, my direct mail bar is especially high.

In this article, I’ll walk you through my first experience with SaddleBox, a popular monthly horse subscription box. You’ll also see photos of every item in my box (and a really annoying barn cat named Hot Dog).

Passing Fad or Here to Stay?

Though I’ve seen quite a few horse subscription box companies pop up in recent years, I had no experience with any of them.

Since I started tracking what my horse costs via monthly expense reports, I’ve cut way down on “just for fun” purchases. That’s probably why I was secretly chomping at the bit when SaddleBox offered me a free box to review.*

*Don’t worry: I’m sharing my honest opinions, which is exactly why you’ll see pros and cons in this review.

There seems to be a subscriptions box for literally everything these days, from bras to toothbrushes to smoothies, so companies really need to wow customers in order to stick around for the long run.

It’s not enough to stuff a bunch of junk in a box and ship it out. You have to provide quality products and a superior experience to keep customers coming back. 

Would SaddleBox deliver? I was eager to find out.

What is SaddleBox?

In a nutshell, SaddleBox is a monthly box of treats, tack, and other equestrian goodies delivered right to your door.

What you need to know:

  • SaddleBox helps horses find forever homes via their partnership with The Right Horse Initiative.
  • Every box includes gourmet horse treats. 
  • You’ll discover new grooming tools and tack. 
  • They try to curate gifts and goodies you probably don’t already have.
  • U.S. shipping is included.
saddlebox equestrian subscription box

“Excuse me, are my treats in there?”

What Was Inside?

I didn’t know what to expect from my first SaddleBox, so I erred on the side of not getting too excited. It would probably include 3-5 relatively inexpensive items that I’d seen countless times at my local ranch supply store.

I’m happy to report my first SaddleBox exceeded my expectations.

Every SaddleBox is different, but this example is a good indicator of the quality and quantity of items you’ll receive in this equestrian subscription box.

Let’s get into it!

Horse Print Scarf

horse print scarf

I had one of those “have you been watching me?” moments when I pulled this teal horse print scarf out of my box.

If you look in my Amazon cart, you’ll see one almost exactly like it under “save for later.” #whatrethechances

This adorable fashion scarf is lightweight (read: summer/spring/fall), drapes nicely, and has a simple horse print.

It’s the kind of accessory that looks great around town with jeans and a solid color tee, or spruces up a dress and jean jacket for dinner out.

For me, I plan on packing this for every Big Sky Yoga Retreat. After a long day teaching groundwork at the ranch, I’ll clean up for happy hour and add this scarf for some equine flair!

Takeaway: SaddleBox reads minds.

Click to see a similar scarf at Amazon

Apple Nuggets
horse treats

Gus says he’s been a very good boy.

I buy these exact treats for my horse all the time, so I was delighted to see a 1-pound package in my SaddleBox. (Not as delighted as my gelding will be, though.)

While they may not be as “decadent” as molasses-infused goodies like The German Horse Muffins, these apple nuggets are way more practical for daily use. 

These treats are the perfect size for trick training and “carrot” stretches, and they’re packed with vitamins and minerals that are good for your horse.

I keep a little treat pouch full of them hooked to my grooming tote. After each ride, I grab a couple pellets for my horse’s post-workout stretches. (OK, I put an extra one in my pocket for pasture goodbyes, too.)

Plus, you get more than 80 treats in the 1-pound bag, so it lasts you a while. (The 4-pound bags include 300+ nuggets!)

Takeaway: Horse tested, equestrian approved.

Click to see these treats at Amazon

Claeys Candies Peppermints
barn cat

Hot Dog felt he needed to join the photo shoot at this point.

My horse must’ve put in a special request behind my back because SaddleBox included two bags of treats, not just one. 

I’ll probably set these peppermints aside for special occasions (e.g. clinics, shows, baths, vet calls) since my horse will view these as a novelty he doesn’t usually get. 

Our local ranch store sells a ton of these old fashioned candies, so they’re really popular.

Takeaway: Perfect for extra good behavior.

Click to see these treats at Amazon

Decker Face Brush
horse face brush

Sven agrees this is super soft… and tasty.

This is hands-down my favorite item in the SaddleBox.

When I initially saw it, I worried it’d be another cheap body brush. (Who needs more of those in the world?) Upon closer inspection, though, I realized it was a luxuriously soft face brush. 

Historically, my horse was pretty standoffish about his face being touched. He has some #strangerdanger issues, and I’ve spent years slowly getting him used to being handled — especially around his face. 

Once he feels how soft this brush is, he’ll be begging everyone to come say hello. 

Takeaway: Spa day. Delivered.

Click to see this brush at Amazon

Tough-1 Bladed Curry

horse curry brush

Here in Montana, we have five seasons instead of four: Summer, Fall, Winter, Mud, and Spring.

Regular rubber curry brushes are nice for light dirt removal, but they aren’t up to the task when you have an entire horse caked in mud and muck.

Bladed curry brushes, on the other hand, are time-saving wonders. They help transform my pasture mud ball back into something closely resembling a horse. 

Typically, I use a round bladed curry like this. It’ll be interesting to see how the Tough-1 arc shape compares.

The one thing that’s noticeably nicer about the new curry is the ergonomic handle. (When you’re removing a ton of mud, it can be a real workout.)

Takeaway: Bring it on, mud season!

Click to see this curry brush at Amazon

Bumper Stickers
hug your horse sticker

Truth.

While I prefer “useful” items in a subscription box, it’s nice when companies throw in a few things just for fun. 

My SaddleBox included two witty stickers that said, “Life is short. Hug your horse.” and “Notice: If my horse doesn’t like you, I probably won’t either.”

I’m not sure what I’ll do with them yet, but I appreciate the sentiments 🙂

horse doesnt like you sticker

Except Sven likes everybody…

Takeaway: More fun than useful.

Epona Woodpicker Hoof Pick

horse hoofpick

Next, I pulled out the Epona wooden hoof pick.

Let me start by saying, this immediately become the nicest hoof pick I own. It’s got a smooth wooden handle, leather hanging strap, and heavy-duty metal pick. 

Plus, Epona is a small business that creates quality horse products — and I love that SaddleBox supports “the little guys.”

I could see keeping this in my trailer and using it at competitions, but I probably won’t switch to it for day-to-day grooming. 

My current hoof pick includes a stiff brush, which is convenient for cleaning off loose dirt from the sole and outside of the hooves. 

If the Epona model included a brush, I’d be a convert!

Takeaway: High quality for special occasions.

Click to see this hoof pick at Amazon

Epona All-Purpose Grooming Mitt

horse grooming mitt

SaddleBox also included a cool grooming mitt from Epona.

It’s got nubby bristles that cleanse and scrub, and it helps the coat’s natural oils rise to the surface for a healthy shine.

After a little Googling, I learned you can use this wet (i.e. for bathing your horse) or dry (i.e. for daily grooming). It’s also machine washable, which is really handy.

I’m going to put it with my bath supplies and use it for lathering shampoo and conditioner into my horse’s coat.

Note: If you have larger hands, this item may be a bit tight around the wrist. I’m pretty small, and it fits snuggly.

Takeaway: Didn’t realize I needed it, but now I do.

Click to see this grooming mitt at State Line Tack

Co-Flex Bandage

horse bandage

As equestrians, there are some supplies you simply can’t have enough of… and this is one of them. 

Rolls of flexible self-adhesive bandage are a MUST for your horse first aid kit (this one includes 3 rolls of CoFlex bandages to get you started).

When my horse punctured his knee (how, we still don’t know…) and was on stall rest for a month, I went through bandages like mad. I used this type of self-adhesive bandage as my top layer to hold all the other wound dressing in place. 

Since his injury was on the inside of the knee (again, horse, HOW?), he moved that joint a lot. Using a bandage that held firmly, but allowed some movement, was essential.

horse with bandaged leg

Takeaway: Hope you don’t need it. (But, you will.)

Click to see this bandage at Amazon

How Much is a SaddleBox?

Each SaddleBox costs $34.95, but you get 15% off your first box when you enter coupon code “LOVEHORSES” at checkout.

(See more FAQs about SaddleBox subscriptions here.)

Worth it, Yay or Neigh?

saddlebox contents

Horse riding and ownership is expensive (#understatementoftheyear), and only you know your personal finances and priorities.

If you have some disposable income to play with, though, I think SaddleBox is a great way to: 

  • “Treat Yo Self” with something that’s actually fun vs. farrier and vet bills.
  • Discover new grooming and horse care products.
  • Spoil your horse with yummy treats!

SaddleBox Pros:

  • It’s filled to the brim: I was surprised to find so many items in a single box.
  • I’ll use almost everything: I didn’t see this coming, and the quality of items impressed me.
  • It’s the perfect gift: It even made our list of 18 gift ideas for equestrians who seem to have everything.
  • Little touches go a long way: From the handwritten note to the featured rescue horse, exploring my box was a fun and memorable experience.
  • The math checks out: You’d spend a lot more to buy all the items retail.
Item Average Retail Cost
Scarf  $10.00
Bandage  $1.59
Hoof Pick  $13.99
Apple Nuggets  $6.80
Face Brush  $11.00
Peppermints  $8.95
Grooming Mitt  $4.99
Bladed Curry  $8.50
Bumper Stickers (2)  $8.00
ESTIMATED VALUE  $73.82

SaddleBox Cons:

  • It’s one-size-fits-all: Products are broadly appealing vs. specific to your horse, discipline, or preferences.
  • Duplicates are possible: As with any “surprise” box, there’s a possibility you’ll receive something you already own. 
  • You may have questions: It’d be helpful if the box included an info card describing each of the products.
  • Monthly costs add up: If you subscribe for a year, that’s $400+ that isn’t going toward board, lessons, shows, etc.*

*If my box is any indication, though, you’ll receive ~$600-800 worth of items (estimated retail value) throughout the year.

Bottom Line: Treat Yo Self!

Getting my SaddleBox was just plain fun — there, I said it. 

If you’re looking for an equestrian gift, excuse to spoil yourself (and your horse), or simply want to expand your collection of horse supplies, check out SaddleBox.

If you’re tight on cash, but still want to do something nice for yourself, gift yourself a single box. (Or subscribe and simply cancel after your first box.)

I’m pretty sure this won’t be my last SaddleBox 🙂

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The post SaddleBox Unpacked: Horse Subscription Box Review + Pics appeared first on Horse Rookie.

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What is the correct jumping position for horse riders?

If you want to school your horse over fences, you need to develop a correct, solid jumping position. This position, also called “two-point,” gets the rider’s seat out of the saddle and more forward over the horses’ shoulders.

In a nutshell, the correct jumping position features: 

  • Seat slightly out of the saddle.
  • Balance forward in a “bent” position.
  • Weight in your lowered heels. 
  • Hands forward in a “release” over the jump.
  • Eyes up!

Click to learn how to jump from the master

Be Patient with Yourself

Following the horse’s center of gravity properly requires strength, balance, and timing. Generally, there is a progression to this learning process.

Start by learning a solid jumping position on the flat (i.e. no jumps), then slowly build up to practicing over ground poles and cross rails (i.e. small jumps). Once your position is solid, you can move on to practicing over larger jumps.

This process can take months, even years, depending on the individual rider and horse. That’s 100% OK!

Two-Point Explained

The two-point position gets its name from the rider’s weight distribution, which shifts from the seat (one point) to the feet (two points). This helps the rider’s body stay forward with shoulders aligned over their hands.

It’s important for the rider to develop an independent seat and not be reliant on the reins to stay balanced.

A proper jumping position also requires a shorter stirrup length.

Traditionally, the English stirrup should fall at the ankle bone when riding on the flat. To jump, however, the stirrup should fall above the ankle bone — generally 1-2 holes shorter than the rider’s normal stirrup length.

The lower leg must be solid and still, essentially locked into position with the heel down. This helps keep the rider out of the horse’s way (important) and in a more secure position.

Check out our 10 Best Stirrups for Jumping Clear (And Staying Safe).

A strong lower leg is essential for jumping if you want to stay on the horse!

correct horse jumping position

Photo by Laila Klinsmann from Pexels

The jumping position involves more than just seat and lower leg. You’ll also need a strong core and balance.

The rider’s core includes abdominal muscles, as well as back muscles. The back should make a straight line from the shoulders to hips.

The rider’s head should be up, eyes forward — definitely not looking down at the horse or the jump.

Lastly, the rider’s hands should be in light contact with the horse’s mouth, able to release over the jump.

Tips to develop the perfect position:

  • Practice, practice, practice: Spend as much time as possible working on your jumping position. This includes time in the saddle, both on the flat and over fences, and even time at the gym if you can’t get to the barn more frequently.
  • Develop your core: Focus on exercises that improve core strength, as well as those that stretch the lower leg and allow the heel to sink deeper in the stirrup. Yoga is a great way to improve your riding out of the saddle—you’ll build core strength, stretch, and improve balance.
  • Build muscle memory: Repeating jumping exercises, gymnastics like bounces and grids, help improve your form and develop muscle memory — for you and your horse. A riding instructor should be involved, especially if you’re a beginner over fences.
  • Jump without reins: This should only be done on an experienced, safe horse and under the supervision of a riding instructor. Riding through a simple sequence of jumps without reins helps develop the independent seat and better balance.
  • Watch and learn: Equestrian vloggers can be wonderful teachers. Watching their videos helps you understand proper position — and why it matters. Bonus: This is a great way to develop your eye for distances! 

Over and Upward

Jumping can be fun, rewarding, and challenging. That’s why a solid two-point position is essential to make you safe, effective, and successful over fences.

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References:

  • https://www.fei.org/stories/improve-your-jumping-position-these-four-steps
  • https://www.appliedpostureriding.com.au/horse-riding-posture/the-jumping-position-for-horse-riders

The post What is the correct jumping position for horse riders? appeared first on Horse Rookie.

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7 Benefits of Playing With Your Dog

Everyone knows that playing games with your dog is fun, but what we don’t often consider is that the benefits of play go well beyond just having fun. Adding in a little more playtime to your dog’s routine is one of the easiest ways to enrich your dog’s life. Here’s 7 benefits of playing with your dog.

You’re Training Your Dog, Even If You Don’t Realize It

One of the benefits to playing with your dog is that it’s a fun way to get in some daily training. Now I’m not talking about traditional “teach your dog a trick” training, but I am talking about reinforcing desirable behaviors. And in the case of play that revolves around teaching your dog to follow some basic rules.

Does your dog get too mouthy while playing tug? When that happens I simply stop playing the game. If you stop the game because your dog gets too mouthy you’re teaching them biting your hand is not acceptable. Does that feel like traditional training? Not exactly, and that’s why it’s so easy to forget that we’re training when we’re engaged in play. And that’s one of the greatest things about playing with your dog — it gives you a chance to reinforce good behaviors and have fun, all at the same time.

Play Provides Mental Stimulation

We all know that physical exercise is important for our dogs, but we often overlook the importance of mental exercise. Interactive games like tug or fetch might seem like a simple way to keep your dog busy, but they also provide a lot of mental stimulation for your dog.

Since games rely on some basic rules such as “you need to bring the frisbee back if you want to keep playing” they give your dog a chance to make their own decisions and help them build focus. Adding in a few quick games to your dogs routine is a way to ensure your dog gets a nice mental workout each day.

It’s Good Physical Exercise For You & Your Dog

Dogs require regular exercise, and using play is one of the funnest ways to make sure your dog has a chance to release all that pent up energy. And since playing with your dog requires you to get involved it means both of you will be getting in more physical activity.

And when it comes to playing with your dog for physical exercise don’t worry; I’m not suggesting a 3 hour marathon game of tug of war. Just a couple of extra 5 – 10 minute sessions of play can make a huge difference. Games like frisbee or playing with a flirt pole are physically demanding, so if you add those into your regular exercise routine (which includes the daily walk) you can make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise each day.

And If you have a high energy dog I recommend checking out 5 quick ways to tire out your dog for more suggestions; these games helped tremendously when Laika was going through her “OK I know we just got back from a 3 mile walk but I’m still ready to go!” phase.

Play is a Fun Way to Relieve Stress

Playing with your dog is fun, and as far as stress reliever’s go it’s a really simple way to improve both you and your dog’s overall mood. Spending time with your dog can have a calming effect, and some studies have found that it can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Adding in a couple of quick 5 minute play sessions with your dog each day can have a big effect on both you and your dog’s overall mood.

Playing With Your Dog Strengthens Your Bond

One of the greatest things about playing with your dog is how much it strengthens your bond. Spending quality time with your dog is one of the best ways to strengthen that bond, and when it comes to dogs play time is one of their favorite ways to pass the time. You’re not just providing them with fun when you engage them in play; you’re giving them a routine and reinforcing the idea that you are the bringer of all things fun — and that goes a long way when it comes to speeding up the bonding process.

Play Can Decrease Problem Behaviors in Dogs

Dogs who engage in regular play are less likely to develop problem behaviors such as excessive barking and chewing. The reason being is that dogs get bored, and when your dog gets bored chances are they’ll find their own ways to entertain themselves — and that boredom is what leads to things like chewed up shoes.

When you regularly play with your dog you’re keeping them busy and engaged, reducing the chance that they’ll go off on their own to find their own entertainment. If you’re looking for ways to keep your dog busy & entertained I recommend checking out 33 ways to keep your dog busy indoors & 26 boredom busters for dogs.

It Can Improve Your Social Life

And last but not least playing with your dog can improve your social life. Whether it’s going to the park to play a game of fetch or taking your dog to the neighborhood playground, chances are you and your dog will meet some new people along the way.

Your dog will benefit from brushing up on their social skills, and so will you. A study from 2015 found that being a pet owner was the third most common way that people said they met people in their neighborhoods, and that pet owners were 60% more likely to get to know people in their neighborhood that they didn’t know before.

What Are Your Dog’s Favorite Games?

What games does your dog enjoy most? Do you carve out time each day for a couple of quick play sessions? Does your dog seem more relaxed after play?

The Benefits of Playing With Your Dog

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