Monday, March 31, 2008

These Boots are Made for Riding

I need a new pair of boots for riding. This is my boot story, part one. When I started leasing My Boy last winter, I quickly realized that the one pair of fashion cowboy boots I owned were not made for riding. I looked in my closet and a pair of faux Frye motorcycle boots became my new riding boots. They have held up quite well, although the harness straps interfere with my spur straps. However, they are not real riding boots, with features such as a reinforced toe for safety. I decided that after a year of riding in boots purchased at Nordstrom's, it was time to cowgirl up and get some real boots!! I am very picky and knew that I wanted a few specific details. 1. A square toe (I just like the look.) 2. A regular brown shade of leather (it tends to go with everything.) 3. A colored, decorative shaft. (I am particularly fond of green, for some reason.) 4. A good arch support and comfort. (If I had to get off My Boy 5 miles into a trail and walk back to the trail head beside him, I want to do it in comfort!)

After searching online, my favorite boot "look" was the Twisted X Ruff Stock. My sister had just purchased a pair of Twisted X Barn Burners (in an adorable pink ostrich) and said they were sooooooo comfortable she almost slept in them! My first roadblock was finding a pair in a local western wear store to try on. I had done my research online, but I wanted to try them on in person. Ordering a boot online is risky, you have to consider sizing and return policies. My sister had to go down a whole size in her style, would I would have to, as well? One of the western stores I visited carried Twisted X boots, but not the style I wanted. But they had the catalog and said they could order it for me. I spent an hour with two employees trying on a variety of other brands and styles of boots as well, but found nothing that gave me that "ahhhh..." feeling when I slipped it on. I left slightly disappointed, with new information to consider and more thinking to do. I decided to take a risk and order a pair Twisted X without trying them on. Hearing nothing but positive things about these boots, I decided it was a safe bet. My online search of this style showed it available at a variety of places for a variety of prices, all fairly reasonable. I called the western wear store to get a price quote. They gave me the MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price) which was higher than most of the online prices. I mentioned the prices I had seen online (I wasn't really trying to get a discount! Okay, well maybe.) The salesperson kindly said, "We can't compete with the Internet." I said I would think about it and would let her know if I decided to order the boots through them. I thought about it all day. A lot of small business owners, tack shops in particular, have had to close their storefronts and sell on EBay, as they can not compete with Internet prices. Although this seems to be the way the world is going and before long we will be shopping online for everything, my heart goes out to the little guy trying to keep a store open and offer a good service. And I surely got a good service at my western wear store, even though I did not walk out with a pair of boots that day. Time was spent with me trying to find a boot that would fit my little feet, and knowledgeable advice was given. Goodness, they knew their stuff! I highly doubted I could build a relationship like that with an online retailer. Even though it will cost me a little more money, I will be taking a trip back to their store very soon to order the boots from them.

To be continued.........

P.S. Nope, I did not choose these boots because they so nicely compliment the colors of my blog layout...although they do, don't you think??

Sunday, March 30, 2008

In the Beginning

Where, oh where did it all begin? The memories are embarrassingly strong. Somewhere, I lived in a world of Breyer Model horses and galloping my bony-kneed legs down the driveway, snorting and whinnying (I still do a great impression.) Or, putting a blanket on the arm of the couch, straddling it, clucking, and pretending to ride. Free-time was spent consuming books such as Summer Pony by Jean Slaughter Doty.

I still have that book and its sequel, Winter Pony. The pages are yellowed and well-loved. I poured over them, relating to Ginny and her darling Painted pony she called Mokey. I went grocery-shopping with my mother, but only so I could spend time at the magazine stand pouring over issues of Horse and Horseman, Horse! Of Course, and Horse Illustrated. Mom always let my sister and I pick one magazine each to buy.

It continued, an itch that I obsessively scratched. In the back seat of the car, my face pressed to the glass, straining to catch any glimpse of a horse or pony in passing pastures. Any chance to pet a horse over a fence or to ride a pony at the fair....was heaven. When we moved to property with acreage and had a neighbor lady who had a horse and gave lessons, my itch became inflamed even more. I was going to learn to ride, and get my own pony!

Suddenly, stacking firewood for my allowance and filling mason jars of coins became vital, as it paid for riding lessons. A blood bay, sausage-bodied Morgan mare became instrumental in teaching me the foundation of horse care and how to ride. She was patient, her owner even more so as we were frequent visitors to her small farm, savoring every second spent with her horses.

Shortly thereafter came my first pony. I found his ad on the local grocery store bulletin board, a black and white sketch of a Shetland pony for $150. We bought Black Jack on the spot. He was a miniature version of Walter Farley's famous Black stallion. He was small but study, and tolerated my galloping him bareback up the driveway. I soon outgrew him and passed him down to my younger sister.

In future posts I will share more detailed stories about the horses from my past, as they all have a story to tell and are a part of my cowgirl history. I hope you will join me as I share my insights, stories both past and present, random thoughts about horses, and fun cowgirl stuff in general. I hope you can find a little something special in my stories that you can relate to.

Until we meet again,

Pony Girl

About Me

After a 17 year hiatus, at age 39, I am once again blazing trails through the horse world. Join the ride as I share the adventures of my Appaloosa gelding "My Boy," my family of cowgirls and their horses, and my journey in becoming a horsewoman.

I practice Natural Horsemanship following the methods of Buck Brannaman, Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson, and Ken McNabb. I try to observe my horse's behavior and learn from it. I believe in giving the horse a chance to figure out what I am asking, and making the choice I want the easy choice for my horse. I also somewhat spoil my horse rotten, which really throws curve balls at my horsemanship techniques!

I started blogging a year and a half ago. It is a wonderful creative outlet for me. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a writer or an artist. I was interested in journalism and magazine editing. Horses were always a huge part of my life. As I grew older, I became interested in interior decorating. My parents and grandmother instilled in me a love of antiques, thrifting, and all things vintage. At one point, I even wanted to be a wedding or party planner! Today, I am a school teacher. I am still riding horses, and still dreaming of being an interior decorator or a published author. I have recently added photography (in a more technical sense, as I've always loved to take pictures) to my growing list of creative passions.

This blog will cover all of my interests, whether it be the various adventures of me and my horse, or my latest treasure from the flea market. Thanks for stopping by!
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