BLD Shop Update November 2020

Announcements, BLD, stationery

Hi everyone! I wanted to share some exciting news for Bending Line Designs.

The Laser Is Almost Here

Back in July 2020 (which seems like a million years ago) we pulled the trigger and decided to add some new equipment to the BLD workshop and decided to import a CO2 laser. It is now November 2020 and we finally received word that the laser is at the distributor’s shop down in Florida receiving a tune-up and inspection before it is shipped up to us in Pittsburgh. I am not the most patient person and yes, there were other lasers that would have been available sooner, but if we were going to invest this much into a laser I wanted to ensure it had certain features and that we wouldn’t out grow it too soon.

Here is a pic of our laser being unloaded at the distributor’s warehouse down in Florida. The journey it took even included a trip through the Panama Canal.

Ok, so a few words on what the laser can do. It will bee able to cut a number of materials, with the exception of metal, with laser precision. It can also mark or engrave on even more materials. This expands our product offering exponentially. We’re able to offer a number of unique equestrian themed products we haven’t seen elsewhere in the market and also offer endless personalized product opportunities. Our objective is still to focus on thoughtful equestrian design. A few categories of new products that will be launching first include jewelry, home decor, accessories, and personalized items.

Anyway, we had to share our excitement that this crate will soon be arriving at our doorstep. Expect more announcements to follow, since we can’t wait to share all of the exciting new items BLD will be making for you!

New Products

We also have a few non-laser related new products in the works.

Goal Planner

Coming this November we will be releasing the 2021 BLD Equestrian Goal Planner. While we love our Equestrian Journals and they’re perfect for organizing information about your horse and the details of horse ownership, we found they didn’t really address the needs of long term goal planning. We put a lot of research and thought into making this a useable and effective aid to help you reach your equestrian goals. We are putting the finishing touches on this Planner and can’t wait to share it. Stay tuned!

Holiday Cards & Gift Tags

This year we are also offering equestrian themed holiday cards and gift tags in a digital download format, perfect for printing at home or sending off to a card printing service (like those hosted by Walmart or Staples). These are currently available in our Etsy BLD Print Shop, but we are also looking to move these to our primary BLD shop soon too!

One of several new holiday cards!

Updates To bendinglinedesigns.com

We updated our primary website for our customers to be able to purchase our digital downloads directly at bendinglindesigns.com. For the moment this includes our EQ Journals, Notes on 50 Rides, and our Equestrian Budget. We had been searching for over a year for the right app to add to the site to make this a reality and finally found the perfect fit. We’re looking to add printable versions of our prints and cards shortly. As before, all of our digital products are also available at our Etsy BLD Print Shop. Sometimes Etsy is an easier shopping option for our international customers, so we wanted to ensure we kept this available.

Journals are now available for purchase directly on the BLD site!

EQ Journal Selector Quiz

Finally, our last announcement in this post is that we have developed a quick quiz to help sort out which of our EQ Journals is the best fit for your needs. We realize that there are a number of different options and it can be difficult to determine which is the right one for you. It is very quick and simple and only requires you to answer one question. Check it out here at the EQ Journal Selector Quiz!

Thanks for following along with all things BLD!

Bending Line Designs

EQ Book Review – Brain Training for Riders

Book Review, Product Review

Hi everyone! Today BLD is reviewing Brain Training for Riders, by Andrea Monsarrat Waldo (published 2016). This is one of several books in the genre of equestrian sports psychology. Andrea works with the reader on addressing the mental blocks challenging their riding, especially fear and anxiety. The author is a well qualified guide to help the reader navigate these challenges. She has a Master’s Degree in Counseling, experience as a practicing psychotherapist, is a certified riding instructor, and competes in eventing through Advanced (among many other equestrian accomplishments).

The book helps the reader work through the following challenges:

  1. Handling uncomfortable emotions.
  2. Honing your mental game and focusing your riding time.
  3. Caring for emotional injuries.
  4. Producing a state of “Focused Calm” and tapping into skills to produce an outstanding ride.

Let’s jump into the review…

I bought this book back in December of 2016, shortly after it was published. I was having some rider confidence issues with my rather green horse and was hoping to pick and choose a few exercises to help me out. While I found the exercises useful, I also found the chapter focused on whether you are matched with the right horse perfectly on point. I hated to admit it, but my horse (Ray) and I were not a good fit and this book helped me feel ok about coming to this realization. Fast forward a few years. Now that I’m with a different horse (Ellie Mae) and in a different place in my riding, I picked up Brain Training for Riders again this summer and read it cover to cover.

My chatty brain just dumps info at me when I ride. It literally does not shut up. It has improved over the past few years, but there are still a lot of negative thoughts or near death what-if scenarios playing out in my imagination at any given time (lol it tends to exaggerate). Fortunately, my mare does not hear this chatter and just goes on per usual. I began this more in-depth reading of this book not so much to escape fear, but to turn this chatter and negative thoughts into a more productive dialogue.

Tips to Make the Most of this Book

Do not skip the introduction. Andrea lays out a compelling intro and fills you in on her own challenges. You get to know the author and she gives advice for making the most of this book. I love that she clearly tells the reader to use the exercises that work for them and disregard the rest if they’re not working. There is no push to buy into an entire program or way of thinking. I also found that the author is very relatable. Andrea shares her real experiences and sounds like a person you would enjoy spending time with at the barn. Reading this book felt like we were sitting together having a great in-depth conversation.

Plan extra time to do the activities. They are effective, but only if you take the time to do them. Have a pen and paper or notebook at hand to work through the exercises. This can be a little difficult if you’re reading Brain Training for Riders at the beach, pool, while traveling, etc. Maybe mark the pages and create a reminder in your phone to come back to it. It’s easy to read through the book with the intent to do the exercises later and then completely forget. This was the case when I first read parts of the book a few years back. I really got a lot more value this time around because I took the time to do most of the exercises. Also, some activities really only work if you do them while you are riding, especially the section on focused calm. It helps to either take the book to the barn or makes notes to take with you (screenshots on my phone work for me). Perhaps get your trainer involved if that makes sense for you.

Fear & Anxiety

If fear is driving your riding anxiety, this book is an excellent resource. It makes sense, given the author’s experience with patients suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are several exercises to address your fears (ex. what are you truly afraid of) and learn how to better manage these feelings. Andrea explores why your lizard brain is feeling these things and how to better work with your mind to lessen and reduce these fears and anxieties.

Positive & Negative Self Talk

My favorite part of the book is the section about positive versus negative self talk. This is me to a tee and an area that I’m trying to improve. I’m getting better at catching when negative thoughts creep in, but I never realized how just thinking about what you don’t want to do makes it that much harder to avoid and how critical it is to frame your thoughts in the positive. For example, coming into a jump it is so much easier to successfully look up when that is the message from your brain versus keeping your eyes/head up when you’re telling yourself “Don’t look down”. Your brain and body have to interpret the negative thought and reconstruct it as the positive. Lol -good luck! Andrea includes a number of exercises to help you identify this negativity and reframe it. Like I said, this section was by far my favorite and really eye opening.

Competitive Mindset & Equestrian Goals

Other areas of the book address improving your competitive mindset and accomplishing your riding goals. There are anecdotes and activities on accepting and embracing how it might feel a bit “sucky” at times (those pesky stomach butterflies), but that it is part of competing. Techniques are explored for acknowledging these feelings, accepting them, and ultimately changing your mindset to excel in this situation. As someone focused on equine journals and goal setting, I was happy to see an emphasis on journaling rides and setting achievable goals.

There is also a section at the end of the book geared towards trainers. Although I am not one I still found this section an interesting read, but I do not feel qualified to comment on this section.

Final Thoughts

This book is for you if you …

  • are struggling with anxiety or fear that has taken the enjoyment out of riding
  • tend to focus on the negative aspects of your ride
  • find yourself freezing up at shows
  • are losing the battle with competition nerves
  • are coming back from a scary horse experience that has you questioning whether you want to continue riding
  • are letting your worries about what other riders think impact your rides
  • are looking to try equestrian sports psychology

If even one of the exercises in this book helps you quiet your inner lizard brain and enjoy riding a little bit more, then it is easily worth the read and the cost of the book.

I always rate a book by how many times I have dog eared the pages for future reference.

Dog Ears: 16

Highly Recommend

Additional Details

Note: Bending Line Designs LLC and the BLD Tack Room are not affiliated with the author. The links provided in this blog post are not affiliate links. Bending Line Designs LLC and the BLD Tack Room do not receive any compensation from purchases made via these sites.

  • Title: Brain Training for Riders
  • Author: Andrea Monsarrat Waldo
  • Place: North Pomfret, Vermont
  • Publisher: Trafalgar Square Books
  • Publication Date: November 15, 2016
  • Edition: First, Paperback
  • Pages: 224 pages
  • Price: List price $18.95, Available on Amazon for $15.55 and Amazon Kindle for $9.59
  • ISBN 13: 978-1-57076-751-7

Links and Other Referenced Books

For more info, check out Andrea’s website: stresslessriding.com

A few other books that are referenced, which can be found on Amazon:

The New Toughness Training for Sports, by James E. Loehr

How Good Riders Get Good, by Denny Emerson

The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle

Say It With a Note

BLD, stationery

Is paper dead? We hope not. There is something wonderful about sending your thoughts in a handwritten card and for the recipient, they make great keepsakes and are perfect for journals and scrapbooks. With so many cute stationery options available today, we came up with a quick guide to help you make the most use of them – with equestrians in mind. Below are a few situations that lend themselves nicely to a handwritten note.

The barn is full of great places to leave a note – stashed in your neighbor’s stall door, tucked in a tack trunk, or left in a locker. You also save on postage and an extra trip to the post office.

We are continually adding to our stationery collection at Bending Line Designs. Click here to pick up a set of 10 equestrian cards and always have a note on hand and ready to go.

Thank You’s

So much goes into riding and keeping horses. It’s crazy when you think about how many people are involved in your riding. Don’t let their help go unnoticed or take it for granted. Drop them a reminder every now and then letting them know how appreciated they are!
A quick list of people to consider thanking is below:

  • Parents, Family, Significant Other: Thank them for their financial or emotional support, but also the sacrifices they make for you to ride. All the shows, lessons, and clinics they’ve attended. The driving back and forth from home to the barn, or hauling the trailer. Even simple stuff like helping you tack up, or sweeping while you ride.
  • Trainer: I need to constantly thank my trainer for putting up with my shenanigans! I’m sure we’re all the same.
  • Barn Staff: This crew puts up with so much. They are mucking the stalls, dealing with the hungry horses trying to knock them over at the gate, and loading the barn full of hay.
  • Barn Owner: Sometimes these folks are the unsung heroes. Spending their afternoons watering and grooming arenas, so you can have a nice facility. They can be tricky to thank in person if you’re not at the barn at the same time.
  • Your Support Team: It really takes a village. Not just to raise a child, but to also keep a horse! From vets, farriers, grooms, chiropractors, and specialists – let them know you appreciate their hard work with your equine partner.
  • Boarder: Thank a boarder for being a great friend and barn neighbor.
  • Show Host & Volunteers: Don’t forget to drop a quick thank you note in the mail to show hosts and their many hard working volunteers, especially if the show was well run and you had a great time.

Apologies

We all know barns can be full of drama. Do your part to help minimize the drama by swallowing your pride and knowing when to apologize. It’s always great to say you’re sorry in person, but sometimes a card is a nice extra step, or possibly the conversation starter when you’re having trouble saying the words face-to-face. Even if the mistake is a little one, like apologizing to your trainer for missing your distance (once again) or apologizing to the barn staff for the mess your horse made when it last escaped.

Welcome!

Let’s be honest. Being new sucks. You can’t find the light switches for the arena, or don’t remember where all the lesson horse tack belongs. A cute note from a welcoming friend can make it a little easier.

  • New boarders and their horses: We all remember how awkward it is to be the new boarder. Welcome all the newbies to your barn with a little note tucked in their stall door letting them know how happy you are to get to know them and that their horse is adorable. Or invite them to join your next trail ride.
  • New lesson students: Trainers are known for their equine communication skills and not necessarily their people skills. Break the mold and give your new lesson students a little welcome card after their first few lessons – welcoming them and their family to the barn and thanking them for their business.

Congrats

Celebrate both the big wins and the small gains. You can make a difference in someone’s day, possibly picking up their mood for the entire week just by congratulating them on their accomplishments. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Perhaps you’re a bit jealous or they placed higher than you. Be bigger than envy and jealousy and let other riders know just how awesome they are. A few reasons to celebrate are listed below:

  • Winning at a show
  • Qualifying for a show, team, etc.
  • Overcoming a training obstacle or riding block
  • Confronting a fear
  • Making progress
  • Attending a new event
  • Trying something new or out of their comfort zone
  • Buying or leasing a new horse

Get well soon

Has an injury or illness kept someone out of the barn? Mail them a card to let them know they are in your thoughts and missed.

Birthdays and other Occasions

Everyone likes a birthday card, for either them or their horse. We’ve listed a few other equestrian opportunities to say it with a note below, and would love to hear what else you can think of!

  • It’s the end of mud season!
  • Share a horse snack recipe
  • Party invitations

How much does it really cost to own a horse (With Real Numbers!)

BLD, Expenses, Horse Ownership

Disclaimer: everyone’s situation is different.  Board fees vary greatly depending on the type of services provided, hay costs fluctuate based on geography, and training fees depend on the experience of the trainer. I realize others may spend much more than I do, and many will spend a lot less. I wanted to share my own experience and expenses, and I’m not passing any judgment on anyone else’s situation or circumstances.

I’ve read articles in the past discussing the cost of horse ownership; however, they always spoke in potential expenses and estimates. Never real figures. Money is a sensitive topic and a lot of people are uncomfortable discussing what they spend for a variety of reasons. I wanted to share my own actual expenses, especially since I have owned multiple horses, and what I have learned from reviewing this info in detail. I have tried to be as accurate as possible. I know I’m missing some purchases, but the data below represents the majority of my equestrian related spend from 2014 through 2018.

Not counting the purchase price of my horses, I’m spending on average almost $20,500 per year. When you factor in the purchase price of three horses, I’m on track to spend over $150,000 by the end of 2019. This is a rather sobering thought and really made me stop and think. 

1. Is it still worth it?

2. Am I making the most of my riding and time with my horses?

The answer to the first question is a resounding yes. Unfortunately, the answer to the second question is a big fat nope, so I’m on the path to think more about what I can do to change that no to a yes. I’ve had some setbacks horse-wise, but a majority of the answer to question 2 rests on my shoulders. Stay tuned as I’ll be posting about these topics in the future.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the expense details.

In evaluating the numbers, it helps to have some background information on my horses. I have owned up to three horses at one time (Mario, Ray, and Ellie Mae), and am currently happy with only owning two – Mario and Ellie Mae. Mario (aka “Mar”) was purchased in February of 2014 and retired in May of 2016, Ray was purchased in July of 2016, Ellie Mae in August 2017, and Ray was sold in Nov 2017.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the purchase price of a horse is just a drop in the bucket compared to the overall cost of ownership. What may surprise new horse owners, though, is the extent of additional costs and fees. It boggles the mind of my non-equestrian friends that horses might need supplements, chiropractor adjustments, or visits from an acupuncturist. Or that my farrier budget is more than my friends’ own shoe budget.

I definitely suffered from My First Horse Syndrome when I first bought Mar. You can see in the graph above, the spikes in spend over the first two years were all over the place. In the beginning you will need more stuff – tack, grooming supplies, riding clothes, apparel for the horse, etc.  This is a given. I also believed I needed every single thing that someone else mentioned.  Like “Oh I have three blankets for my horse”, so I ran out and bought three blankets.  It turned out, Mar only needed two. I also felt compelled to personalize everything – just because it was possible. Lol Mar does have the nicest stuff – too bad he is retired and I feel it is bad luck to ride a different horse with saddle pads embroidered with Mario’s name.

The graph above adjusts to show the total monthly spend per horse. As I increased the number of horses, I was much more cautious of my equestrian spending habits. My average monthly cost is actually lower in 2018 with two horses than it was in 2014 or 2015 with just Mar.

I also learned some valuable lessons. Trying to keep a “manageably sound” horse sound enough to ride is pricey.  That maintenance doesn’t come cheap.  He has also needed to wear front shoes and front pads – even in retirement. My farrier bill is currently split 60% for Mar and 40% for Ellie.  Again, Mar is retired and this is just to keep Mar sound enough to be turned out. The poor guy just has the thinnest front feet!

Green horses can eat up your money too! When I had Ray, although there was little to no maintenance from a soundness perspective, I was spending more on lessons and training because he was green (and greener than I could handle without significant help).

The chart above breaks out my spend per category. I excluded board, lessons and vet bills from this chart. The details of those categories are in the table below. I was a bit overzealous on the supplements with Mar.  I was quick to pull the trigger and order supplements for any and all of his ailments. I have calmed down a bit since. Figure in 2015 I was spending almost twice on supplements (just for 1 horse) compared to what I spend in 2018 on two horses.

I started showing at local schooling hunter shows in the spring of 2014 through the fall of 2015. This definitely had an impact on my wallet.  Additional lessons, tack and apparel needed for showing, and extra grooming supplies quickly added up. I never did eventing or got seriously into dressage.  That would have only added to the tack expense. 

What I find especially interesting, I completely stopped buying the fun stuff (apparel, tack, horse apparel, and grooming supplies) in 2018. LOL Smartpak was probably really bummed out. Ellie required major training for behavioral issues when she first arrived in late 2017 and this was my primary focus. Plus, I was already well stocked on the essentials in the other spend areas (excluding supplements) and because I try to buy quality products when possible, they have held up pretty well. It is 2019 and I am still wearing the same breaches I bought in 2016 & 2017. Yay- they still fit!

I have always been very disciplined regarding tracking and budgeting (I was a finance major in undergrad). I wouldn’t have been able to evaluate my horse related spend without my monthly budgets. If you are interested, click here to check out our Equestrian Budget & Savings Planner.

The table below lists all of the details. A few notes to keep in mind. I didn’t stop taking lessons in 2018, instead it was included in my board and no longer broken out separately. It may look like I have spent less but cut out lessons – this is not the case. New horses always require more stuff, even when you think you have everything. There are visits with the saddle fitter to consider, tack that only fit your prior horse, and new grooming tools that are needed.

I would love to hear from you regarding horse budgets, spend, and any insights you would like to share! Has evaluating your own expenses caused you to change your riding habits? Thanks! – Kate

10 Reasons Why You Should Enter Your Barn’s Fun Show

BLD, horse show

Does your barn host a few fun shows each year involving an afternoon of games on horseback? Have you ever thought about joining in, but decided against it?

Listed below are the top 10 reasons I love a good fun show and why you should consider entering.

Increase your confidence

I will be the first to admit that I am not the bravest rider, but every time I have done a fun show I have ended the day with more confidence in both myself and my horse. Whether it’s doing an activity that I didn’t think we could do, or pushing past a fear that was holding me back, fun shows have been a confidence booster each and every time.

When I owned Ray, an 8-yr old anglo-trakehner, I was struggling with his canter. It was more forward than I was used to and we struggled with our canter departures. I had planned on riding all of the show’s activities at a trot, but found that after we started, I was comfortable cantering back to the gate. Each time was a little easier, a little less anxious, and each time we would canter a little bit longer. It’s also amazing what you can do when there are a bunch of people around and you put that little bit of pressure on yourself.

Bring out the best in your horse

Ellie and I are not speed demons. She is a big girl and sometimes turning her is like steering a cargo ship. I know we will never be able to win the poles or barrels, especially when up against some nimble little ponies that seem to fly around the arena. We make up for it in other areas. Ellie does not care about most spooky objects. When those ponies are spooking sideways during the ring and sword game, we canter around the arena picking up rings without a care in the world. She is also a pretty smooth ride and the egg and spoon game is our jam, although the gaited horses are fierce in this one too! Fun shows are great for highlighting your horse’s best qualities.

You can dial it up or down

The great thing about a fun show is you can adjust the game to you and your horse’s abilities. You might not win first place, but you can still participate and challenge the two of you.

As I mentioned above, we make some pretty wide canter turns. I usually choose to do the poles at a trot, as we can stay tighter to the line. I know we’re not going to win at that speed, but we are at least accurate and can still place better than those that knock a pole (we consider a knockdown an elimination in our shows).

Ease your horse into showing

Fun shows are a great test run for upcoming horse shows. Perhaps you have a new or green horse and you’re not really sure how they will handle a show. Will they flip out in the ring with 14 other horses? Will they be chill as a cucumber? Lol or will they run around with their head as high as a giraffe while you sit there praying they’ll slow down. Test that crap out at home at a fun show, where no one cares! You can simulate a lot of the same situations you might encounter, see how your horse reacts, and have a better plan for your future shows.

Rediscover your passion

Horse shows are a funny thing for me. When I’m away from it, I kind of forget what I like about showing and instead catch myself focusing on the negatives, such as how much it cost, my fear and nerves, scary warm up rings, early mornings, late nights, long trailer hauls, and exhaustion. I forget the excitement and the fun, hanging out with my horse show friends, the junk food, the adrenaline rush, the fun I have with my horse, and the competitive spirit. If you haven’t been showing for a while, sometimes a fun show is just enough to nudge you back into horse shows and help you remember what it is about them that you love.

Boredom buster – your horse will have fun

Is your horse a little tired of arena work? A fun show is a great break in routine. The first fun show I did with Ellie, I was amazed at how excited and tuned-in she was. We were having issues with her work ethic at the time and I was concerned I would have trouble just getting her to participate – even at a walk. From the minute she went into the arena that day, she was right there with me and we cantered right out of the gate. It was awesome and we were able to continue that work ethic and fun into future rides. We ended that show with a quick hack around the farm and I had never seen her that happy before. This left me feeling fantastic too and I now knew more about what keeps her motivated.

See how your horse reacts to new obstacles

These shows are perfect for setting your horse up to succeed when facing a new obstacle. If you are really struggling, play follow-the-leader with another rider to help show your horse how its done. It is also a nice chance to see what type of reaction you might get from your horse in these situations, while still being in a relatively calm environment at home. It’s satisfying to see your horse approach a new challenge with confidence and work through it and you can use fun shows as safe learning opportunities.

You can wear what you want

It’s one of the few horse show experiences where you can wear whatever you want. Don’t want to wear a jacket on a hot day? No problem! Sick of that stock tie or rat catcher? Take a break from it this time! Be comfortable and show in your own style. You can also bling out your horse any way you want.

Get great pics

Be sure to have a friend or relative on the side taking pictures, because this is a great opportunity to snap some pics of you and your four legged partner. These shows are perfect for taking action shots in situations you might not usually be in – such as barrels, poles, or the ribbon race with your partner. There are also plenty of opportunities for good portrait photos while you wait for your turn. The bonus here – you will likely be much more relaxed than at a typical show, resulting in a more natural pose.

The photos my husband, Joe, would take of Mario and me during our hunter shows were usually so awkward. I’d have a nervous tight smile that basically said, “Get that camera out of my face, even though I know I told you to take pictures”. Lol poor Joe – no wonder he had no fun at those shows.

They’re fun!

Most of all – a fun show is exactly that – FUN. There are silly moments, accomplishments, and a lot of laughs. It is a great day spent with your horse and other riders!

EQ Journal Tips

BLD, Journal

Hi Everyone !!

We’re really excited about an entirely new product line for BLD – our EQ Journals!!  This page is our centralized site to discuss all things related to our Equestrian Journals and will be updated over time as we add more tips, tricks and videos.

Overview

The journals were inspired by a notebook I kept for my horse Mario.  It was my go-to place for documenting all of his important records and health data, but was also a scrapbook with notes and pictures about our shows, information on his previous owners, and cool info I found about his pedigree.

I designed our EQ Journals with this dual purpose in mind – record keeping while also journaling and scrapbooking.  We know that everyone has their own method.  Our journals are perfect for printing and completing by hand.  Cut and paste your favorite pictures (I prefer double-sided tape) and hand-write in your notes.  It’s also an interactive PDF, meaning you can complete the journal in your preferred PDF reader software.  Add text and pictures directly in the PDF file and print pages as needed, when you’re ready. Or – do any combination of these methods. They are super flexible and meant to adapt to your approach.

Purchasing a Journal

Our journals are only available as a digital download. Click here to purchase directly from Bending Line Designs. They are also available at our BLD Etsy site.

How to update your journal – the basics

We made a quick video covering the basics on how to add text and pictures to your EQ Journal directly in the PDF file.

Selecting a Journal

We have six different versions to fit your needs. The descriptions below illustrate the features of each. Every journal contains horse and owner profiles, support team info, and additional pages with various picture layouts. Journals are available as downloadable PDF files at Bending Line Designs. Not sure which journal is the right fit for you? Click here to take our short quiz!

  • Total EQ Journal – This journal has it all! It is 72 pages, with 64 pages of editable content. Document everything on prior owners, purchase info, support team contacts, feed and health data. Plan your show season with our show and clinic calendar, while keeping an eye on costs with our show budget tool. Journal your lessons, rides, clinics and shows. Keep track of your trailer maintenance and much more. LOL if you are an obsessive compulsive crazy horse owner – this is the journal for you! $25.00
    • NEW!! – The Total EQ Journal is also available in size A4 format – for all of our international friends.
  • Horse Show Journal – Increase your competitive edge by analyzing your show performance and planning your show calendar. Our Horse Show and Total EQ Journals are the only versions that feature our Show Budget Calculator. Plan your expenses and automatically calculate each show’s total cost. It is easy to print or save, and then reset the calculator for the next show. Make notes about each show round and the show venue. $16.00
  • New Boarder Journal – Barn managers, if you need an easy way to collect critical information on your boarders and their horses, check this version out. You can email each boarder a copy of the PDF file. They can then easily email a completed version back to you. Capture everything you need to know such as a basic horse profile, insurance info, owner contact info, and stall vices. Perfect for keeping contact info handy for each boarder’s support team (vet, trainer, farrier, masseuse, groom, and more). $14.00
  • Equine Health Journal – Keep all those health records in one place! Keep tabs on changes in feed, supplements, and medication. Document each vet, farrier, and Chiro visit. Maintain a complete medical history on your horse. $15.00
  • Ride Journal – If you are primarily focused on monitoring and improving your riding, this is your choice. It is also a perfect option for the rider that does not necessarily own a horse, but is actively taking lessons and wants to keep track of riding progress and notes about each horse. $13.00
  • Basic EQ Journal – This is the pared-down version of our Total EQ Journal. It covers the essentials and still has 44 pages of editable content, but does not have the showing section nor the records for support staff visits other than the vet and farrier. A great option to get started! $18.00

Don’t forget to try our journal selector quiz if you aren’t sure which is the best fit for your needs.

Tech Review: Equilab App

BLD, Product Review, Tech Review

Do you love all the new tech that has made its way into the horse world?  I am a sucker for any new riding tech, especially if it is easy to use, helpful, and non-intrusive.  I’m excited to share my experience using the Equilab app, which checks all of those boxes.

I first discovered Equilab in an article on Forbes. com (Click here to check it out for yourself) and knew it would be fun to try out during my rides on Ellie Mae.  For those not familiar with the app, it is an easy to use ride tracker for your phone.

Product details from my review:  I tried the free version on my iPhone.  You can upgrade to a paid account, which includes additional features – such as live sharing of your position with family members back home (be safe out there).  There are also smart watch apps that pair with the phone app.  I don’t have an Apple Watch or I would have tested this feature too.

Overall, it is a really fun and useful app to use and did I mention the ride tracking stats are included in the free version?  There might be some inaccuracies with the data (ex. speed seemed incorrect), especially when riding in an indoor arena, but I find it is still a good gauge and tool for my rides.

What Did I Love About EQUILAB?

Detailed stats all in one place

  • Record the basics, such as: length of your ride in minutes, total distance, average mph.
  • Detailed info for each gait.  I thought it was cool to see the break out of how much time we spent in each gait and the distance covered.  The app also listed the speed per gait. I found this was a bit slower than expected and might have been impacted because we were riding inside the indoor arena.
  • Do you find you spend too much time going to the right or favoring your horse’s better direction?  The app let me know how much time we spent turning in each direction, broken out by gait as well.
  • Keeps a record of all your rides.  You now have the dates and times of your rides in one handy place.  You can also manually enter separate ratings for how the rider and horse performed.   Tip! – the ride tracking features of this app pair perfectly with our Journals to then later document your thoughts about each ride.  You could even take screenshots from your phone (like I did below) and add them as images to your journal right in the PDF.
  • Cool graphs and charts.  I’ve included some pics from our test ride.

img_1285

 If you’re a chart and graph nerd (like me) this app is for you.

img_1287

img_1286

Compatible with multiple horses

  • Equilab allows you to create profiles, with pictures, for multiple horses and records the stats for each separately.  You can view summaries for each horse, but it is also possible to review the rider summary and see the stats at the rider level for all horses ridden.
  • This is perfect for anyone exercising multiple horses!

Visualize path taken

  • The app records the path you ride and is color coded to indicate gait.
  • This was great outdoors and seemed very accurate, but the path was not as accurate inside.  I think this is a GPS issue and don’t fault the app.
  • Your riding path can be viewed either on a map or the satellite view.  We have yet to try Equilab on a true trail ride, and will post an update once I have a chance.  I think this would be really fun to see the trail route all laid out on the map.

In the screenshot below you can see how we walked up to the outdoor, saw it was too wet to ride there and turned around.

IMG_1282

In this pic, you can see how we were all haphazard in the indoor.

IMG_1283

We don’t really ride like this – at least not usually LOL – and the app had trouble with our position inside.

These pics display the same ride, on the road map version and then on the satellite view.  The path shown outside was spot-on accurate with our route.  Very impressed with the outdoor tracking capabilities.

IMG_1281IMG_1238

Horse energy expended

  • I don’t have a super accurate weight for Ellie, so I haven’t played around with this part as much.  It appears to calculate whether you may need to adjust your horses feed intake based on energy expenditure.  An interesting idea.

Rider calories burned

  • Ever curious how many calories you really burn while riding?  Enter a few basics and this app will let you know.

It’s fun to use

  • Overall, I found it a fun tool to work into your rides and doesn’t interfere or distract from riding.
  • Other fun features include adding a favorite pic to each ride, sharing your ride stats with a community (optional), ability to compare your stats with other riders in the same discipline with a spider web chart.

Room for Improvement

Difficulty tracking my path indoors

  • The shape of our ride was all over the place while we were in the indoor.  It even showed us starting out well out of the arena, which wasn’t the case.  It seemed to still track the turns and time in the various gaits, so I wouldn’t rule out using it in the indoor, but keep in mind there may be some issues with the data – including speed.

You Need to wear your phone

  • In colder weather, this doesn’t present a problem and I typically ride with my phone in my coat pocket.  As the weather warms up though, I found this was the largest deterrent to using Equilab.  I do not have a phone holder for my rides and I don’t usually wear breeches with a phone pocket.
  • The solution is easy – if you have an Apple Watch (or other compatible smart watch) there are Equilab watch apps that eliminate the need to wear your phone (at least that is my understanding since I didn’t get to test them). The fun of using this app has me actually considering whether to buy a smart watch. Or you can use a phone holder.

Difficult to turn on and off with my gloves on

  • I almost always ride in gloves and only a few of mine have phone compatible finger tips, so it takes a few tries to start and stop the app and sometimes I forget until after I’m back at the cross-ties.  Not a huge deal, but it does kind of skew the stats.

Have you tried the Equilab app?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

I would love to hear more users’ stories and whether anyone has tried the paid version.

FYI – Bending Line Designs LLC was not compensated in any way for this review.