Horse-Book Blow Out

Do you know that The Backyard Horse Blog website features an affiliate link to Trafalgar Square Books?

You can find the affiliate link (Horse Books and Videos titled square with the photo of the lady looking at a book next to a horse) on either the right hand side of your screen or at the bottom of your screen, assuming you are actually on The Backyard Horse Blog website at the moment.

What does “affiliate link” mean? If you click on the affiliate link (Horse Books and Videos titled square with the photo of the lady looking at a book next to a horse) featured on The Backyard Horse Blog website, you will be taken to Trafalgar Square Book’s website.

If you purchase any of their materials during your visit after clicking on my affiliate link, The Backyard Horse Blog will receive a percentage of your sales.

I mention all this as a self-serving reminder about how readers can help support this blog. Also to let readers know that now through June 20th, 2021, Trafalgar Square Books is having a $10 blow out sale on many of its horse books and DVD’s!

This is exciting news for horse-loving readers! Yah! Click on the affiliate link to go to the Trafalgar Square Publishing website and once there, click on the “On Sale” tab! Remember, the $10 horse-book blow out sale ends this Sunday, June 20th, 2021!

From the Trafalgar Square Books website:

50 titles priced at only $10
Training • English & Western Riding • Dressage • Hunter/Jumper • Memoir •  Health Care • Horse Fitness • Rider Fitness • Children’s • DVDs
Free shipping in the USA

Please Take My Poll


No, not my ground pole! I need every ground pole that I have.

The kind of poll that I offer up for the taking is my ten question opinion poll below, “Why do I read horse blogs?”

I’m super curious! Inquiring minds (or at least my mind) want to know.

I started writing The Backyard Horse Blog in January 2020, but I was an avid horse-blog reader long before that. I still am.

I can’t exactly remember the first blog I ran across. It might have been the Horse and Man blog. Or it might have been a blog that is no longer in production. Understandably, there are a lot of those.

Blogs, like most things, usually have a shelf-life. They are time intensive for the writers. Only a small portion of bloggers actually make sizeable money from their work. Blogs wax and wane in content and popularity. Readers come and go. Life happens for both blog creators and consumers. And yet, horse blogs have not gone the way of the dinosaur.

There are a handful of equestrian blogs that have been in production for a decade or longer like the previously mentioned Horse and Man blog. New blogs continue to pop up frequently too.

Even with the proliferation of social media sites oriented to photo/video and the rising popularity of audio podcasts, people keep reading blogs.

Horse blogs have not been around long enough yet, but someday, someone out there will have started to blog when they were a horse-loving child. And then continue blogging until they are a senior equestrian. How interesting it would be to see someone’s horse-life played out across the decades that way.

But all musings aside, I would like you to think about all the equestrian blogs that you have read as you go through the “Why do I read horse blogs?” poll. Check all the answers that apply.

And if you have a reason for reading horse blogs that is not listed below? Please let me know what they are in the comments section. If enough readers choose to take the poll, I will share the poll results in an upcoming post in case anyone else is as curious as I am.

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Product Review: Tough 1 EZ Out Safety Stirrup

If you grew up riding in an English saddle, you may be familiar with peacock safety stirrups. These are metal stirrups with a thick rubber band on the outside of the stirrup that can pop off when pressure is applied. In event of an unscheduled dismount from the horse, the rider’s foot will not be trapped.

Since the advent of peacock stirrups, other styles of English stirrups that allow for the release of the foot have appeared. For whatever reason, the western industry has seemingly not shown the same level of interest in safety stirrups.

True, there are tapaderos and endurance stirrups with cages. These are stirrups with coverings on the front that prevent a foot from getting hung up in the stirrups. But neither style seems to have taken hold in the industry across western discipllines.

For almost ten year now, I have ridden in a combined leather and cordura Fabtron western saddle with plastic stirrups. While I can’t say that the plastic stirrups were the height of safety, fashion or comfort, I managed to have many good rides with them. Still, I considered swapping out the plastic stirrups for something different on many occasions. I finally took the plunge this Winter.

Back in the day, I did experiment with taking off western fenders and replacing them with english leathers and peacock stirrups so I could ride with a set of safety stirrups in place. This photo shows my horse, Bear, and me back in 2009 with this western saddle/english leather/peacock stirrups get up. While this worked fine for me while riding at home, trail rides, clinics and fun shows, it did look a little odd. It wouldn’t have worked well for anything more than casual showing. It was also very difficult to remove and replace those western fenders.

The stirrups I now have are the Tough 1 EZ Out Safety Stirrups. Here is the manufactures description as taken from the JT International website:

“High quality aluminum stirrups with rubber grip tread and spring loaded outside release for safety. When pressure is applied to outside of stirrup like in a fall the side of the stirrup will open all the way up allowing the foot to be released. No way to get hung up in these stirrups. Available in adult and youth sizes for any age rider. The easy way out of a bad situation! Medium size (5” x 5” inside measurement, 7” outside height, 3 1/2” x 1 1/4” tread, .9 lbs.)”

Since their purchase, I estimate I have had about twenty rides with my new Tough 1 Easy Out Stirrups. I am so far quite pleased with them. They have an attractive look that closely mimics a traditional western stirrup. I especially like the way the stirrups hang on the saddle fender. They also sport a comfortable yet solid instep that feel good beneath my feet.

Arrows near the bottom of the stirrup tell you which way the stirrup should face out from the horse in order to facilitate the hinge mechanism releasing in even of a fall. But will they really work in event of an accident?

I still don’t know. I have not fallen off with the stirrups and would like to keep it that way. I have no interest in doing that kind of research, even if it would make for a more comprehensive review. I WAS able to pull the hinge apart with my hands with a quick, firm pull as a way to test how the hinge might work.

I have also read online reviews where the writers claimed that the stirrup did release during their unscheduled dismount. I do not have a way to verify if those reviews are factual though.

I was concerned that the hinge mechanism might be activated accidently somehow during mounting. So far I have not experienced that, but I do think about weighting my left foot more to the inside of the stirrup while mounting now. I could see how that might cause a wreck if the stirrup released as the rider was trying to swing up into the saddle.

The weight of the stirrups is the one feature that is a mixed bag for me. The website notes that each stirrup is about a pound, but my home scale showed their weight as a combined total of 3.8 pounds. That’s closer to two pounds each.

That weight helps provide a nice feel to the stirrups under my foot, but it makes my saddle noticeably heavier. Four pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, but I immediately noticed the difference when I went to pick up my saddle for the first time after attaching the new stirrups. I felt it in my back everytime I picked up the saddle until my body got used to the difference.

My horse, Shiloh, noticed the difference in the feel of the stirrups too. He shot forward a bit the first time I gave him a light squeeze to move away from the mounting block. It occured to me later that lunging him first with the stirrups might have been a good idea.

On that note, I like how the heaviness of the stirrups make the fenders hang more solidly for lunging. My plastic stirrups would sometimes flap around easily because they were so light weight.

I purchased my set of stirrups from an online retailer for about $100. While I wouldn’t consider them inexpensive at that price point, they are the most attractive, quality western safety stirrups I have found for the price. I have the “adult size” stirrups that I think they refer to as “medium sized”, but they do make a smaller-sized youth safety-stirrup that looks the same, just with different size dimensions.

Overall, I like the stirrups and am so far happy with how they look, feel and function. On the minus side, I do wish they were a bit lighter just to keep the overall weight of the saddle down both for my horse and me.

If you would like to read more about the stirrups directly from the manufacturer, go to http://www.jtidist.com/ez-out-safety-stirrup.html. You can purchase the stirrups through that link, but I have found most other online retailers advertise a lower price.

*** Please note that this review is unsolicited and uncompensated.***

Put a Horse Stamp on It

I have long considered my choice of postage stamp as a form of personal expression. No slapping any old stamp on a card or bill for me!

My stamps are carefully selected to reflect something about my own interests. Or in the case of something like a birthday card, those of the recipient.

Maybe a historical event or figure that is of special appeal. Maybe a current cause or issue I am interested in promoting. Maybe a pretty photograph or other piece of art that is visually attractive.

If a stamp has a horse on it? So much the better! I remember back in the eighties when the USPS issued a set of horse breeds stamps that I coveted. With no internet ordering available back then, those stamps were hard to come by. I remember feeling sad when I used my last one.

Now in the age of the internet, I have not yet found a set of stamps that exclusively showcase horses. But I have found horses currently encompassed in various stamp books- Christmas Carols Forever Stamps (a sleigh horse in harness representing the “Jingle Bells” song), Winter Scenes Forever Stamps (two draft horses pulling) and Heritage Breeds Forever Stamps (featuring American Cream Draft horse AND American Mammoth Jackstock).

While I sometimes have trouble finding the exact stamp I want at my local post office, the United States Postal Service website allows users to have stamps mailed to their doorstep, including all the fun horse stamps noted above.

Of course, horses displayed proudly on postage stamps is a world wide phenomenon, not limited to the USA. For those of you who live in a different part of the world than me, what horse stamps have you seen your own country issue? Any favorites?

And if the USPS is reading, please bring back those horse breed stamps!

What To Put Where in the Horse Trailer

As I am starting to try to get out a bit more with my horses this year, I play around with “what to put where” in my new horse trailer.

My old trailer is a two-horse bumper pull with mangers on top and a tack storage area underneath the mangers. The new trailer is a two-horse bumper pull without mangers and without a separate tack area. Instead there is a saddle rack and bridle hooks along the nose of the trailer.

With this arrangement, the only thing that separates the horses from the saddle racks and bridle hooks are the chest bars and a few feet of space. While this set-up keeps the overall cost of the trailer down, it could present safety issues if any of that tack should shift. And I definitely don’t want tack and grooming items to go sliding back underneath the horses during travel.

As part of the trailer purchase agreement, I had some D rings installed around the nose of the trailer. I use a mesh netting and carabiner clips to cover all the items in a way that will hopefully secure everything. So far this set up has worked well for multiple short trips in a flat-land area.

Below you can see the nose of the trailer from the left side door of the trailer.

Here you can see the view of the nose taken from the right side of the trailer. I am standing behind the right side chest bar and facing forward. This is the view that a horse placed on the right side would have of the trailer nose. On the left side of the photo, you can also see a hint of the hay bag hung from the head divider that separates the horses.

I am also very accustomed to dividing storage between my trailer and my truck. The tack storage area under the old trailer is small enough that I can’t fit larger equipment like broom, muck bucket or an extra hay bale in there. So I am already in the habit of securing those items in the bed of my truck. I am continuing to do so with the new trailer.

There are so many different options when it comes to horse-trailer design. All come with pluses and minuses regarding cost, safety, size, humane convenience, horse comfort, etc . . . As with most products, selecting a trailer is a series of trade offs for many of us. I can’t afford the exact type of trailer I would otherwise purchase.

I realize not all horse people have horse trailers. Any kind of horse trailer at all. I have definitely spent years at a time when I didn’t have either a truck or a trailer. Sometimes the purchase price and cost of maintenance has been prohibitive depending upon our financial situation at the time. If you are in that same situation now, I understand how frustrating and limiting that can be.

I started off as a new horse owner without a hauling vehicle or trailer. Then purchased both. Then sold both and spent several years without either before the next purchase. And who knows. I may have to do go through that cycle again someday. Experience shows me that having a truck and trailer is not something to be taken for granted. I know the importance of trying to take advantage of what I have while I still have it.

All that brings me to a question. For those of you out there currently with a horse trailer, what do you like about your trailer’s set up? Alternatively, if you could change one feature of the trailer, what would it be? It’s always interesting for me to hear what works for someone’s individual situation and why.

The Best Laid Plans . . .

I had hoped to write a post today about finally getting Shiloh out on an actual trail for a ride. But that’s not going to happen because it didn’t happen. Follow me? If not, let me explain.

So far this year, I’ve trailered the horses four times. Each time to a different place. Each time my horses, Bear and Shiloh, loaded and unloaded pretty smoothly. They both have a history with me of refusing to load so I was quite happy with having no major problems for four trips in a row.

For our most recent outing about a week ago, we visited a friend’s property where I used to trail ride Bear and my other pony, Pumpkin Spice. She has an amazing private trail system through woods, hills and a winding creek. It is interesting and beautiful, making for a great ride with equally great company.

After arrival, Bear (shown above) stayed in a stall with another horse in the barn for companionship while my friend and I rode. We warmed up in her outdoor arena and then rode a bit around her pasture. It was a short ride, but both her horse and Shiloh did well despite not riding together before.

Even with another horse in the barn for company, Bear still called out for Shiloh. Shiloh answered Bear’s calls a few times, but otherwise was very well behaved.

Since that ride went so well, I had high hopes of returning this past weekend to actually get out on my friend’s trail system and see how Shiloh does in the woods. I suspect trail riding is where Shiloh really shines, but in the almost three years since I’ve had him, we have yet to hit the trails.

Unfortunately, Bear decided he wasn’t going to trailer load yesterday. I called my understanding friend and sadly cancelled our plans. I spent the rest of the morning practicing trailer loading and then taking a ride on Shiloh at home. I was eventually able to load both horses several times, but it look quite awhile.

So my plans for a trail ride didn’t work out, but I did have a good ride at home. Since Shiloh’s lameness incident that I wrote about in a previous post, I have been riding him in my pasture with the thickest grass cover, keeping him out of the round pen with the more solid footing. But for yesterday’s ride, I took Shiloh to the round pen to see if he would still ride sound.

Fortunately, Shiloh seemed very sound on the firmer footing while walking and foxtrotting and doing small circles so that was great to feel. He didn’t take one bad step. I noticed when I dismounted though how hard the ground felt to my own feet. And that got the wheels in my head turning.

I think the footing has firmed up quite a bit since I had it installed. It is time to explore adding a layer of something to provide more cushion. So I have some research to do on what I can afford to install AND what will do the job I want it to do AND be easy to maintain considering I have no arena drag.

So I had a horse-filled weekend, but not exactly the kind that I had planned. Even when my efforts don’t work out the way I hope, I try to make the best of whatever happens. Life is too short to not try to do something with the hand I am dealt, even if it is a disappointing one.

The full title of this blog is “The Backyard Horse Blog: Living the dream and the reality of keeping horses at home”. This weekend I experienced more the reality side. Here’s hoping Shiloh and I live long enough to report more on the dream side which translates at the moment to eventually getting Shiloh out onto those trails.

“Cool” Contest to Enter

If you live in a part of the world that is soon entering the Summer season, you may start to think about how to help your horses stay cool. To this effort, most equestrians I know employ some combination of shade, fans and baths as well as providing plenty of cool, clean water to drink. Maybe body clipping too, especially for those equines who tend to keep a long/thick hair coat even during Summer.

On the subject of cooling horses, I came across a current contest hosted by Equus Magazine. Four winners will receive products from Cool Aid Animal Cooling and Recovery. I had never heard of Cool Aid before but am now intrigued by their products.

They offer various blankets and wraps that you can wet and then place on your horse to keep them cooler during hot weather, after exercise or during trailering. I wonder how well these products work? Read about Weaver Leather’s Cool Aid products, go to https://www.ridethebrand.com/exclusives/coolaid.

Both of my horses wilt in the heat. I have posted previously about giving my horses baths on hot days (see https://thebackyardhorseblog.com/2020/07/13/warm-hot-hotter/). I sure would be interested in giving these products a try so I entered the contest.

TO ENTER THE CONTEST: If you live in the USA and would like to enter too, go to https://equusmagazine.com/page/coolaid-giveaway. Contest ends June 30th, 2021. If you win, let me know what you think about the them!

PHOTO TAKEN FROM WEAVER LEATHER’S WEBSITE AT https://www.ridethebrand.com/exclusives/coolaid

How This Blog Got Its Own Street Sign

The Backyard Horse Blog now has its own street sign. How fun is that!

No, the blog didn’t get a public street named after it. Instead, for one year, the street sign will mark a lane of the sensory trail at Reins of Grace Therapeutic Riding Center. On the sign, you can see the center’s logo displayed to the left of the blog’s name.

All this came about after I ran across one of the therapeutic riding center’s online fundraisers. Anyone could bid to have their business or organization name displayed on one of three street signs along their sensory trail. The signs are to remain in place for one year at the center. At the end of the year, the signs will be given to the donors.

I thought this was such a clever way to raise organizational funds that I just had to participate. As a formerly-certified therapeutic riding instructor, I know how meaningful center services can be to their clients. What a fun way to advertise the blog while also supporting the work of therapeutic riding.

For those of you not familiar with the sensory trail concept, here is a basic definition:

“A sensory trail is an interactive environment that can be ridden through on horseback or walked through, designed to stimulate the senses . . . A sensory trail has a series of experiences along a route that are designed to engage the different senses and collectively to immerse people in a multi-sensory journey …. (with a focus on) movement.”

– Google

If you want to explore the sensory trail idea more indepth, I recommend this link at

http://www.lessonsintr.com/2017/03/16/sensory-trail/.

It thoroughly explains the sensory trail concept. It also includes lots of examples with pictures of stations and obstacles ideas.

Finally, if you would like to learn more about Reins of Grace Therapeutic Riding Center and their ministry, you can visit them at https://www.reinsofgrace.com/.