My Quest For The Right Bit


Daryl Kinney and Union trying out the stubben bit!

Daryl Kinney and Union trying out the stubben bit!


Daryl and Union…success!


Something I have struggled with, with Union is what bit to jump him in. It’s hard because he is VERY different on cross country at a competition than he is in the ring, and even schooling cross country. I rode him in a segunda for a long time, but with the faster speeds and more demanding questions at intermediate, I didn’t have the control I needed.

Last year, I tried a myler combination bit, and that seemed to do the trick. I had to use a lever noseband with it, since he tries to cross his jaw. I still show jumped in the segunda, since his aggression isn’t usually a problem in the ring. This bit seemed to do the trick and I loved it, it gave me more control and I could actually be softer with it.

At my first event this year, Union warmed up great, he was rideable, wasn’t pulling, and seemed very adjustable. When I came out of the start box, he put his head down and just ran. I could barely steer him and had little adjustability. I had to go pretty slowly to make sure I could set him up for the fences. I was so disappointed; clearly the myler combination bit wasn’t going to work.

I went back to the segunda, because at least with that I could keep his head up. This still wasn’t ideal and I started looking for other bit options. I talked to Annie at Strafford Saddlery and she said she had some new Stubben bits that I should try. She sent me the EZ control German D ring bit. It has a French link mouth piece that doesn’t collapse, rings on the side so there is a little bit of leverage and a curb chain. I was pretty doubtful that the bit would work; the mouth piece seemed so mild I thought he would just run through it.

The first time I used it was just jumping in the ring, I absolutely loved it! Union was very responsive and was cantering much more up, which allowed me to be softer and release more in the air. The pictures Denny took, showed how round Union was jumping over some bigger verticals. I used it a few more times, each time liking it more than the last, but I still wasn’t sure how it would be on cross country.

We have had a terribly wet spring and the cross country course was constantly soaked. Less than a week before my first Intermediate of the year, I was finally able to gallop a couple fences just to see how it worked. Union, was nowhere near as aggressive ad he is on course, but still, it seemed to work, so I competed him in it at Plantation.

We ended up jumping clean in stadium and cross country. I couldn’t have been happier with the bit! Instead of his usually downhill pull in the gallop he was up and light, and I didn’t have to pull and fight with him! With the combination of the softer mouth piece and me being able to release more (because he isn’t pulling until the last second), he is jumping much rounder over the fences! I am so excited about this bit and what it may mean for the rest of our competition season.

Thanks Annie! I would never have thought to try the bit without your recommendation!!



Technical Coats by Pikeur & Horseware: Ride With Style

Pikeur Skarlett Show Coat

Pikeur Skarlett Show Coat

Horseware Competition Jacket

Horseware Competition Jacket

Do you ever go down centerline at A, or trot into the show jumping ring all the while attempting to embody another rider who you idolize? Perhaps you channel Ingrid Klimke when you enter the dressage arena, or maybe you’re envisioning Anne Kursinski when you head into show jumping. Regardless of which rider you are picturing in your mind as inspiration, we all want to feel and look our best when competing. Nobody wants grass stained breeches, or coats covered in horse hair. Part of what makes competing so alluring is the fact that we (the competitors) become somebody else when we put our show clothes on. It’s as if we are taking on an alter ego. There’s our non-competing selves and our competing selves. In order for our competition selves to step up to the plate and truly feel like we are taking on this role as the competitor, we want to be properly outfitted.

A dressage coat, or show jumping jacket can literally make or break your ride. Think about it. Having a coat that restricts your ability to move, or that doesn’t allow you to properly breathe when the temperatures are rising can be infuriating. Quite honestly, the very last thing you want to think about when entering either the show jump, or dressage arena are ill-fitting clothing. Instead you want to be envisioning the movements in your test, or maybe you’re memorizing your course. When you’re in competing mode, you do not want to worry about buttons popping off your jacket, or feeling restricted in your arms or shoulders. Here are two lovely jackets that come highly recommended and are very popular right now.

Let’s start with the gorgeous Pikeur Skarlett Show Coat. This coat not only looks fabulous just hanging on a rack, but it looks even better when you try it on. This jacket continues to be a favorite due to its versatility, irresistible style, and elastic and comfortable feel. Because of the slightly shorter design, countless competitors are wearing the coat in both their dressage tests and their show jumping rounds. Honestly, why spend hundreds of dollars on a traditional long dressage coat and a shorter show jumping coat, when you could have one jacket that serves both purposes? The Skarlett jacket features two front zip pockets in addition to two zipped side vents which are hidden by seams. It also features shiny silver buttons in the front and a flattering fit. Lastly, this jacket is very elastic, extremely comfortable, and allows freedom of movement, plus it can be machine washed!

Next we have the Horseware Competition Jacket. This jacket is not only a crowd pleaser, but is extremely affordable! It’s similar to the Pikeur in the flexible material and the shorter cut, but has different features and a slightly different silhouette. One feature that riders love about this jacket is the red interior.  This jacket also features a lightweight and flexible material allowing for total freedom and movement. There are two side zipper pockets, as well as silver buttons with the horseware logo on them.  There’s a vent in the back for ventilation and the style and cut is flattering and appealing to all shapes and sizes. What more could you want in a jacket?

Finding the right jacket can be exhausting and frustrating. As competitors, we are constantly searching for the perfect blend of comfort and style, which not all jackets provide. However, the Pikeur Skarlett and the Horseware Competition Jacket meet these demands. They are shorter in length, which offers versatility. They are flexible in material which allows for better movement. They are stylish and fashion forward, and they are both beautiful to look at. If you’re having trouble deciding between the two, you’ll just have to stop on by our store and try them on for yourself!


Kerrits Tights: For Everyone

Whether you are an avid competitor, or you enjoy leisurely trail rides, equestrians are well aware of the fact that comfortable and functional apparel is non-negotiable. Most of us have closets and trunks full of various styles of gloves, half chaps, paddock boots, random pairs of breeches, and the madness doesn’t end there. Arguably, one of the most crucial pieces of our riding wardrobe occurs from the waist down. In other words, what style breeches we are sporting can either make or break a ride. This may sound dramatic, but you can imagine breeches that don’t breath, are restricting, cause bunching, or cause pinching. Riding, competing, or schooling a horse is challenging in itself, therefore equestrians don’t need the added pressure of pants that add pressure.

Kerrits tights are one of the most popular brand and at Strafford Saddlery they are our best selling riding pant. We have a huge breeches selection that can accommodate all types of riders, but the ever popular Kerrits Tights are a crowd favorite—and they cross all discplines. These tights have revolutionized the way riders feel about their breeches. From Dressage riders, to Event riders, to Endurance Riders, Kerrits tights have become a favorite, and here’s why.

For starters, they are referred to as “tights,” because they are pull-on and so they are soft, elastic, non-restrictive.  The fabric is stitched together to suit the contours of the body which makes them comfortable, move well, and flattering. They also feature anti-slip “Kerrits Sticks” technology. You may be wondering how exactly this anti-slip technology works? “The silicone carrot pattern distributes an equal ratio of stretch, stick and breathability throughout the inner leg and seat, making this the ideal choice for high heat riding conditions” ( ). Ultimately, these tights allow you to move with the motion of your horse, while keeping you locked in your tack with the silicone carrot patterns.

Another alluring feature that Kerrits tights have to offer, are the countless different styles. There are of course knee patch versus full seat, but within these categories are a plethora of unique sub categories to choose from. For instance, under the knee patch group, are the ever popular Klassic Performance Riding Tight. These tights are desirable for those who want to wear their breeches at their natural waistline. They are designed and cut for the classic woman! These tights feature a soft four-way stretch Fabrisuede Tactel, flat seaming and paneled structure.

There are tons of full-seat favorites as well. The Sit Tight Supreme Full Seat are a great summer tight, for schooling, or for competing. These tights are also desirable to wear while galloping your horse on cross country! These tights have been specifically designed to keep the rider tight in the tack, which is why they are ideal for this discipline. They are lined with what Kerrits calls Coolmax, which provides increased breathability, as well as ventilation, two features any rider would want on a hot summer day.

Kerrits has created a tight like no other company out there. These tights are not only undeniably comfortable, but are affordable as well, which is a huge bonus. They have styles for winter, summer, spring, and so much more. Furthermore, they are not geared toward one specific type of rider, but rather they appeal to all types of equestrians. Add these tights to your breech collection and stop worrying about your breeches bunching, or pinching. Stop focusing on the fact that your breeches are not super breathable, or comfortable.  Let these tights take care of you and Enjoy the Ride in Kerrits Tights!

Ice Vibe and Jake: Progress report

knee ice vibe

knee ice vibeIce Vibe and Jake: One month Progress Report

Our focus is to follow Jake’s therapy and the effects of the Ice Vibe. You have met Caitlin and Jake last post.  And remember that Jake had a fall at the Plantation CIC3*, and although sound, he was sore where his right cannon bone and knee cap meet. He then competed at Fair Hills, and came off the course sound but it turned out he had sustained major trauma to his right superficial tendon with the core lesion extending up towards his carpal canal on Cross Country but did not show any signs of injury until resting in his stall.

Jakes knee still remains large even more so now because he has a standing wrap on that leg for the tendon so it’s holding all the fluid in his knee. Caitlin has been icing and wrapping.  The knee is off course a tricky joint to treat.  Ice and cold hosing can effectively address the swelling of the joint itself.  Wrapping helps to support the tendons below and prevent the fluid from draining and filling the leg.

Jake knee photo 1Once setteled back in Southern Pines, the Ice Vibe became a regular part of the therapy plan.  The Ice Vibe comes in several versions: leg/tendons, knee, or hock.  Caitlin is using the Ice Vibe specifically designed for the knee which means she can strap in around the joint for a consistent

layer of cold therapy as well as minor compression to the most affected area, the knee joint.  Additionally the ice vibe adds the cycle of the vibration to the swollen area.


jake knee 11-21“I love the ice vibe and how easy it is to use. There has been improvements to Jakes knee, I wish that I had taken measurements from the start to see exactly how much is has gone down. I have attached pictures from today and think that I will start measuring tomorrow and keep you posted.”

I think we can provide therapy more often if it is easier.  So the EASE of the Ice Vibe allows application to be more regular.  And it stays put on the leg.

knee ice vibe



Magic of Horseware Ireland’s Airmesh Cooler

The Multifaceted Rambo Airmesh Cooler!

            Managing a farm, and riding horses in the winter in Vermont can be rewarding in many ways, and completely daunting

Skybreaker looking thrilled in his Airmesh cooler! But he is dry, after a sweaty workout on a cold day.

Skybreaker looking thrilled in his Airmesh cooler! And he is dry, after a sweaty workout on a cold day.

and exhausting as well. Dealing with frozen water buckets, slippery turnout, frigid temperatures, endless shoveling and plowing, and so much more, can try your patience. After trudging through snow, hammering your buckets, and mucking your stalls, you are finally ready to actually ride your horses. You are torn between lightly working your horse so he, or she, doesn’t become completely saturated, and really working your horse the way you want, but then having to deal with the inevitable sweaty and fuzzy animal. Now what?

Personally I have an endless supply of coolers, sheets, wool coolers, and fleeces that I have collected over the past twenty some odd years. I am almost always in Vermont this time of the year, and therefore try to be as prepared as possible when it comes to properly covering my horse after a hard ride. I don’t have my horses clipped right now because it is so cold, and they would have to wear even more layers (which I don’t have), so I am caught in the trap of trying to find that perfect cooler that will allow my horse to dry off in a reasonable amount of time.

A few weeks ago, right before all the horses left Tamarack, I watched a friend of mine throw a very attractive, and somewhat different looking cooler on top of her drenched horse. Naturally, I went over and investigated. It felt fairly thin, breathable, and squishy sort of like foam. I looked underneath at the material and it appeared to be a holey cooler underneath with this meshy material on top. My friend was on the fence, as she never used a cooler like this before. Hope it works…we’ll see. About 30 minutes later, my friend brought her horse out of the stall, took off the cooler and like magic, the horse was sleek, dry and ready to go back outside. So of course, I ran right out to Strafford Saddlery to buy my own Airmesh Cooler! And I haven’t been disappointed!

The Rambo Airmesh Cooler is one of a kind and is made from polyester airmesh. The cooler is completely breathable and light weight. Surprisingly, this cooler has been designed for those hotter days when you have your horse at a competition, or perhaps in the stable. The secret is, this cooler offers maximum ventilation which allows sweat to be released efficiently. Maybe this cooler was created for cooling down your horse in the heat, but low and behold, it works amazingly well for cooling down your horse in the winter as well. Furthermore, this cooler can be used as a layer. In other words, you can throw the Airmesh Cooler over your horse, and if it’s really freezing out, you can layer a fleece, or another cooler on top, while still allowing the Airmesh cooler to do its job! The Rambo Airmesh Cooler is one of the most multifaceted coolers I have ever used and I highly recommend the product!

Lila Gendal

Strafford Saddlery


Micklem Bridle changed my dressage ride

Micklem Bridle: This bridle changed my rideresource-bridle

Daryl Kinney on the Micklem Bridle by Horseware Ireland


When it comes to bridles there is an overwhelming number of different options. You can have different nosebands, different bits, and even different types of headstalls now. The number of choices can make some people crazy, feeling like they need to try everything to see which magic combination will make their horse go better. Others stick with a plain nosebands and snaffle feeling like if you can’t ride you horse in that, you need to ride better.

I am not a huge believer in different gadgets, but I am willing to try new things, especially bits when it comes to jumping. For dressage I pretty much ride everyone in an oval link snaffle and a noseband with a flash. I had seen a lot of people using the Micklem bridle but, honestly, thought it was ugly and had no real interest in it until this summer.

We had a group come in for a week and a lot of the riders were using Micklem bridles. I started asking them why and what benefits they saw using that instead of a regular bridle. They told me that their horses were much softer in the jaw and that it is sort of a self correcting bridle. They said when the horse tries to resist, by opening their mouth excessively, it puts pressured on their nose and encourages them to be more accepting of the bit. I found this very interesting and for the first time I wanted to try one.

The horse I had in mind to try the Micklem on was Rosie. She is an ottb who can be a bit tight and sometimes to can be a little resistant in her jaw on the flat. She had always done well in dressage but I never felt like she was as soft in her jaw, and subsequently, over her entire topline as she should be. I was very happy to find out that Strafford Saddlery allows you to try out the Micklem and if you do not like it you can return it. This made trying the bridle worry free because it is expensive and you really don’t want to drop that much money on something if it doesn’t work for you and your horse.

So I went to Strafford Saddlery and got a black cob sized Micklem to try on Rosie. The very first time I used it on her, I fell in love with it! Rosie was so much more soft and supple in her jaw and I was able to get her to lift her back and swing along much more freely in the trot. The results impressed me so much I decided I may as well try it on all of the horses I am riding.

Union+water+4Union, the horse I am currently competing Intermediate, is also an ottb and he is very sensitive on the flat. His problems are usually more mental, he physically can perform very well, but often gets a little overwhelmed and becomes anxious. I have had to create a pretty unique way to warm Union up, where I basically trot and canter around on a loose rein, just to get him to relax in his own way. I was totally unsure how he would react to the bridle. As with Rosie, I loved riding Union in it. He felt so much more relaxed and more rideable. I was able to work on more lateral work and put a little more pressure on him without him getting anxious or worried. I can’t say enough about how much this bridle has changed my work with Union on the flat.

Now this bridle isn’t for every horse, I tried it on a mare I am riding, Jumbie, and she hated it. She was so unsteady and was trying to be very heavy and she kept pulling down. Jumbie isn’t as sensitive as the two thoroughbreds so I was pretty suprised that she really didn’t like it. I wound up getting off and switching back to her regular bridle after about 20 minutes, I wanted to give it a fair try or I would have switched back sooner than that!

I have heard some people say they think the Micklem clamps the horses mouth shut and looks really uncomfortable for the horse. I think this is totally false, the horses I have found it work the best on are very sensitive horses who would be much worse if their mouths were being clamped shut, they would be softer in the jaw. The bridle is supposed to be designed to work with the facial nevers and be better anatomically suited for the horses head.

Overall, I am so happy I decided to put aside my skepticism with the Micklem and try it on a variety of horses. The two thoroughbreds have been doing much better and are moving more freely than ever before. If you have a horse that you think just needs to be a little softer or seems a bit fussy in the bridle, consider trying a Micklem!

Daryl Kinney currently works for Denny and May Emerson at Tamarack Hill Farm. She went to Johnson & Wales 75040_10100633631065485_1526324133_nUniversity and rode with Tom and Joan Davis at Flatlands Equestrian Center.  Now she competes several of Denny’s horses, including Union Station, who she is planning on moving up to Advanced next year.

Try A Change: Wintec & Bates Easy Fit Solution

Easy Change Fit Solution includes gullet change and riser system

Try a Change: Wintec and Bates Fit Solution Systems—Try them for yourself and be Entered into a raffle for $100 gift certificate. (No purchase necessary.)

I came to the Wintec dressage saddle perhaps unwillingly. Long I extolled the virtues, but I was a little resistant to a synthetic saddles. As a retailer, it had solved many a saddle-fitting dilemma for me. As a competitor, I preferred leather. Yet the more I learned and worked with the Bates and Wintec saddles, the more curious I became about how this saddle could help me. (Maybe magically improve my dressage scores!) I tried the Wintec contourbloc saddle on my horses and was so happy with how well my horses responded to the CAIR system with a greater range of motion and increased swing in their backs that I brought home a Bates Next Generation jump saddles also, and now I ride in it, eventing both my Preliminary and Training level horses in it.

Now I invite you to come into the shop and learn about the many features of this saddle.  Change the gullet and discover how it

Easy Change Fit Solution includes gullet change and riser system

Easy Change Fit Solution includes gullet change and riser system

easy it is and how useful it is to have a saddle with a range of fit for our horses that change musculature from indoor winter training to summer conditioning rides.  Discover how easy it is to insert the shims into the panels and customize the fit to your horses shape.

My horses are no easy fit. One has an extremely high wither, dip in his spine, and the twelfth rib is still near level to the wither.  The shims help with bridging and the air helps level the fit and alleviate muscle soreness.

My other horse is very thin (although tall at 17.2 hands) but very sensitive. After only twenty minutes and a few verticals, the change in my horse and myself was surprising.  I didn’t even realize how tight my horse was on landing until he relaxed under the CAIR system of this saddle.  As soon as he relaxed, I was a quieter and a more secure rider.  It was obvious that the tension eased as a result of the air panels on his back.  I found that the air provided some absorption for the rider as well, much the way the springs in the front frame of a mountain bike ease the tension on the shoulder by taking up shock, the CAIR panels assist the seat in reducing impact on the rider body as well.

Come into Strafford Saddlery and change a gullet and be entered in a raffle for $100 gift certificate to Strafford Saddlery. No purchase necessary. And see for yourself all these great qualities of both the Wintec and Bates saddles:

Annie & Captain Lightfoot competing at GMHA OP in Bates Next Generation Deep Seat Jump saddle

Annie & Captain Lightfoot competing at GMHA OP in Bates Next Generation Deep Seat Jump saddle

**CAIR system: The CAIR® Cushion System replaces traditional fillings in your saddle with air cushions. CAIR® air cushion technology provides significant performance advantages in the way it distributes the rider’s weight and cushions the horse’s back.

Distributes the rider’s weight: Under the rider’s weight the air cushions continually mould to mirror the horse’s individual conformation and working muscles. This ensures a close, even contact over a much larger weight bearing area and eliminates instances of pressure points.

Cushioning the horse’s back: The dynamic nature of air ensures it works in synergy with the horse’s muscles, rather than the horse’s muscles working against a static medium. Additionally, air provides the ultimate shock absorption, reducing instances of trauma to the horse’s muscles in work.

**The EASY-CHANGE™ Fit Solution is the first total saddle fitting solution that not only enables full adjustment to be made to the saddle, but empowers riders to custom fit their saddles in a matter of minutes.

Riders can select the optimal tree width for their horse’s current shape and muscling with the EASY-CHANGE™ Gullet System, or make adjustments within their saddle panel for optimal balance and clearance with the EASY-CHANGE™ Riser System. Together these systems offer unparalleled scope of adjustment for a total fitting solution that’s not only easy, but measurable, and completely reversible giving total confidence to be able to easily make changes to the saddle.


All Bates Saddles feature a generous panel designed to ensure a large ‘footprint’ on the horse’s back, maximizing the weight-bearing surface of the saddle and resulting in a reduction in pressure per sq cm/inch and increased comfort for the horse. Coupled with a wide and even chamber, the performance panels support the horse’s working muscles, and maximize movement in the shoulder area.
Impressed by Isabell Werth’s commitment to the Wintec saddles, I decided there were benefits to riding my own horses in the lightweight synthetic saddle. Weather in Vermont is temperamental and my tight schedule offers little latitude, so synthetic was an easy care choice for bad weather and poor tack cleaning routine.  I was happy to have such a light saddle to carry down to indoor in the winter and my horse’s responded well: shoulders opened, backs swung, strides adjusted quickly to my seat aid.  Why spend more when my performance would not be less?  And if the multi-medalled Isabell can ride at the World Equestrian Games in a Wintec, I think I can ride at my area dressage shows and horse trials in one.  For inspirational video of Isabel in action in her saddle:

Saddles have improved over time with innovations for better fit and a better ride.  Bates and Wintec saddles offer a range of options for a precise fit: CAIR panels that conform to the shape of your horse, shims to further tailor fit, a gullet system to adjust the head plate, and a girth point system.  Girth up your saddle and in twenty minutes, the air conforms to your horse.  Horses change depending on maturity, type of work, and fitness level.  I like how this saddle responds to those changes.  The consistent balance and the fluidity of the air will allow muscle development and keep me even to work on my position to be a more effective rider.

There are a range of saddles in the Wintec and Bates—all-purpose, close contact, and dressage. Come into Strafford Saddlery and see the selection and Try a Change.

Annie Penfield is the owner of Strafford Saddlery in South Strafford, VT. She competes two Irish Sport Horses and loves to hack out with her husband and children and large dog.

Helix and Optimo Stable Sheets: Innovations from Horseware Ireland. Keeping your Horse Cool, Clean, and Comfortable

Helix and Optimo Stable Sheets: Innovations from Horseware Ireland

Keeping your Horse Cool, Clean, and Comfortable

“But it’s not a stable sheet,” my rep laughed.

“But it’s great.” I said, “Stuff doesn’t stick to it and it’s warmer than an Irish knit but with the moisture management system, it wicks moisture.”

“If you like it that much, you might like it even more for what it was actually designed for: a cooler.” He replied.

I was speaking of my Helix Cooler by Horseware Ireland. Designed as a cooler, I had often reached for it over my fleece coolers, particularly when leaving a horse in a stall because the smooth surface prevented shavings from adhering to it. Because it seemed to function well as both a stable sheet and a cooler, I used it for traveling to shows as well.

Horseware Ireland’s Helix uses an advanced fabric construction to wick moisture and disperse it across a wide surface area. Unlike fleece coolers, there is no layer of moisture settling on the top of the sheet. Although fleece is an improvement over wool because it wicks the moisture away from the body, and like wool, keeps the body warm, but the fast drying fabric dries which seems to aid the drying of the horse’s coat as well.

I have put the Helix on cool but wringing wet with sweat horses and been happy at the drying properties of the blanket.  Because of these features, I have preferred to use this as a travel rug, because often four horses in a trailer can heat up the small quarters of the trailer. Then the sheet keeps off dust when travelling but also keeps wicks sweat and alleviates muscle tightness because the body stays warm while drying. And I have used it as a layer under the blanket.

Apparently others found this sheet versatile. Horseware Ireland now markets it as three in one: travel blanket, cooler and stable sheet. The sheet also conforms well to the body with Horseware’s patented design of leg arches.

There is a low budget alternative to the Helix from Horseware Ireland: it’s the  Amigo® Stable sheet. The Amigo version also uses an advanced fabric construction to wick moisture and disperse it across a wide surface area and stays in place due to cross surcingles.

This is the Optimo Turnout with center pivotal dart.

And I did get a stable blanket. I was leaving the sheet on every night and because my horses have big shoulders, I felt that it might be tight with the two traditional front closures and I wanted something with the v-closure that would allow for more freedom for the shoulder. Not that they are moving much in their stalls but I didn’t want t to rub.

What I chose was the Optimo Stable Sheet. The Optimo sports a whole new design: New innovative articulated pivotal dart system with split technology located in the center of the sheet. The horse’s body, front and back, are constructed differently and move differently. The only way to resolve the majority of fitting problems is to have two different garments combined as one. Using Split Technology, the front of the blanket is free to pivot, extend, turn and float with the shoulder while the back of the blanket will sit firmly in position. Designed as a stable sheet, the outer layer is more durable, and therefore probably a more suitable choice for overnight.


-Annie Penfield

Don’t Go Unnoticed: The Samshield Helmet—Safety and Style






Don’t Go Unnoticed: The Samshield Helmet—Safety and Style

Some time ago, my mother, my sisters and I all went mattress shopping. Needless to say, mattress shopping was not high on my list of things to do at that age (or any age for that matter). I would much rather have been spending my time shoveling manure in a barn…really, I would have. But sometimes mandatory family outings are not open for debate. Regardless, I was young and definitely not in the mood to watch my mother and my older sister (who was in the market for a new mattress) make a mental pro and con list after testing each and every mattress in the entire department store.

To avoid any serious confrontation, I decided to take a nap on some random mattress and dream about the next horse I would gallop, jump or own! Well, I RANDOMLY chose to lie on the best mattress in the store, and this particular mattress was the Tempur-Pedic Memory Foam Mattress. It was sensational! My mother always told me I had the most expensive taste of anyone she knew. I couldn’t help it-I knew which the best products in life were! Lying on this mattress was like sitting on a cloud made of pudding! You could simply sink into the material and have this amazing sense of security, yet unbelievable comfort simultaneously. We didn’t leave the store that day with a Tempur-Pedic, but I certainly left with a distinct sense of what real comfort revolved around–memory foam!

Fast forward about fifteen years later and I’ve found myself in my local tack shop-Strafford Saddlery, during a big sale. During the sale, I tried on a helmet that instantaneously brought me back to my youth in that mattress store, except this time the overwhelming sense of comfort and security was surrounding my head, not my entire body. I can honestly say I have never tried on a more flattering, or more soothing helmet than this new line of helmets made by Samshield!

As an event rider, and as someone who has been riding a lot of horses over the last 20 years, I have gone through my fair share of helmets. I am pretty sure I started riding horses with a bicycle helmet-which, in retrospect, was a lot better than not wearing a helmet at all. Helmets have gone through waves of variations and alterations. As time passed in my childhood, I became increasingly more involved with horses which led my family to invest in better head wear, and leave the bike helmets for actual bike rides. Helmets are fascinating pieces of equipment, cosmetic and yet essential, and the Samhield Helmet undoubtedly fascinates me.

Samshield got it when they designed this line of helmets. Samshield strategically combined high-style with high-tech functionality, making this helmet not only gorgeous to look but, but extremely easy to wear and incredibly safe. In fact, Samshield has become the number one helmet of choice for several top European riders. Now that Samshield has become ASTM/SEI approved, the line of helmets has become available for purchase in the US.  Samshield is proud to offer American professional and amateur riders the ultimate head gear in fit, safety and style.  ( Samshield helmets are exquisite, highly functional, and extremely comfortable…what more could you ask for in a single helmet?

Several reasons why Samshield to put on your wishlist:

1) Ventilation. This helmet has a unique cutout design along with advanced air channels which allow increased airflow. One of the number one biggest complaints in the world of equestrians is that riders heads get overheated, which can obviously be extremely problematic. Overheating can lead to several problems such as headaches, nausea, dizziness and more. Samshield does not restrict airflow. This revolutionary helmet will you keep you cool on the warmest of days. Some helmets attempted to solve this overheating problem by placing vents on the top of the helmet, or on the sides of helmets. Samshield placed their air channels directly above the rim of the helmet which creates the most direct and efficient path for air to pass through. Not only is this helmet exceptionally designed, but is highly functional, and looks fantastic as well!

2) Safety. Samshield has designed a helmet that is ASTM/SEI approved and provides all the necessary safety features a helmet must have this day in age. Safety is the number one most important factor in the riding world. There are countless regulations in official rulebooks for eventing, dressage and hunter/jumpers, some of which cover proper and mandatory head gear. A huge benefit to owning a Samshield Helmet revolves around the memory foam liner, as mentioned previously. Furthermore, this liner can easily be removed and washed when it becomes dirty, or has a bad odor. Samshield actually recommends that the liner be cleaned from time to time because perspiration build up will ultimately clog the pours in the material, making the liner lose its original shape. Additionally, with the memory foam liner, along with a functional comfort leather harness, a correctly fitted and cared for Samshield helmet will never shift forward hindering a rider’s view. Nor will it slide back in case a fall occurs resulting in a potentially dangerous contact at the base of the skull. Therefore having a helmet that fits and provides safety is a must. Samshield covers all the before mentioned bases and looks fabulous on every shape head! “Samshield’s strong, light polycarbonate outer shell and EPS inner core keep riders safe…” The extremely important safety factor combined with Samshield’s distinctive design and ground-breaking air channels guarantee constant comfort.

3) Comfort. As mentioned previously, this helmet feels like a tempur-pedic mattress circumventing your head. A memory foam liner actually comes with any purchased Samshield helmet. The foam liner inside the helmet maintains shape while allowing the helmet to fit appropriately and securely. (An important side note-these liners can be purchased individually at any time).  A common problem with other helmets revolves around ill-fitting designs. As time passes, your helmet can became looser as the inside liner thins out, even after numerous cleanings, the helmet will not hold its original shape. But the memory foam liner of the Samshield helmet does exactly what memory foam was designed to do: mold around an object while maintaining shape. This innovative design and liner provide continual comfort, while flattering any shape head. Every time you put your Samshield helmet on, it’s almost as if the helmet comes to life and actually remembers the specific and intricate shape of your head.

4) Style. There’s simply no denying the beauty in the inventive design that Samshield has created. These helmets come in numerous varieties, colors, and bling! These helmets can be custom made to your specific taste. There are countless different choices, but whatever specific style you choose, you will not go unnoticed. This helmet cannot help but draw and allure the attention of those surrounding you and your horse. This helmet ups your game, whether you’re in the jump ring, or doing canter pirouettes in the dressage ring. In the words of Brianne Goutal, the winner of this years $100,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix at the 88th Royal Horse Show in Toronto, her Samshield helmet “provides ventilation, which I love when we are in hot climates, and the color and texture options make it adaptable to any taste or style. I’m planning on wearing mine for a very long time! Samshield helmets are flattering on every shaped head. They look amazing straight on and from a profile perspective. They are an extremely slimming and incredibly flattering line of head gear. By offering numerous colors, texture options, and providing aesthetically pleasing appearances, this helmet ultimately appeals to a broad range of equestrians. Depending on your personal style and your discipline, this helmet can be custom designed to reflect your individual taste.

No matter what the design and no matter what the color, Samshield will not disappoint. This helmet truly has it all, from the strategic ventilation, to the innovative design, all the way to the overwhelming comfort.  Samshield has created a helmet that has jumped leaps and bounds past other helmet manufacturers. This helmet will reduce overheating, provide continual safety, and offer unparalleled comfort, while allowing riders to look their best at all times! What more can I possibly say…let the helmet speak for itself…Samshield!





written by Lila Gendal

All quotes:


What Lies Beneath….Matrix ERG Half Pad

What Lies Beneath….Matrix ERG Half Pad!


I truly find it fascinating how times have changed. Human interaction and face to face conversations have been replaced by tweeting, Facebooking, and blogging. Old rotary phones have been replaced by iPhones and Blackberries. Cars actually back themselves and park on their own. People don’t mail letters anymore. What is a handwritten letter?

Like the times, horse sports are undergoing continual transformation. Whether you are a dressage rider, a jumper, a hunter, a western roper, or an event rider, the level of competiveness is greater and expectations are higher both inside the arena and out! Similarly, tack and horse gear has also evolved. Not very many people just throw on an old, misshapen and rock hard saddle onto their horses back anymore. Not only have our saddles changed immensely, so have what lies beneath our revolutionary saddles! Saddle pads and half pads are all the rage. An amazing piece of technology and design can be seen in the new Matrix ERG Half Pad, By Toklat!

Take the innovative Matrix ERG Half Pad By Toklat: This half pad has pockets distributed all over the pad in order to add cushioned inserts where you might need extra padding, depending on your horse. With this new product, people have the ability to construct the half pad that your horse requires by using an assortment of materials and inserts. These inserts not only offer orthopedic and therapeutic protection but also add to overall performance. This pad is strategically designed to relieve pressure on those sensitive areas on your horses back.

Padding and correct fitting can make or break your horse’s overall performance. Think about it. How would you feel lugging a child around on your back for hours and having a metal bar between you and the baby? Now, think about how you might feel carrying your little angel around with soft padding and extra cushioning between you and your child? This is a no-brainer. But, if you are a rider who uses half pads, understands how everything ought to fit on YOUR horse, and are looking for something to reduce pressure on your horses back and shoulders, without restricting movement—this is what Toklat’s Matrix ERG Half Pad offers!

This half pad looks fantastic too! The Matrix Half Pad also features 100% Australian Sheepskin. The sheepskin has been tanned (modifying the wool) in New Zealand and has been done in an environmentally friendly way, meaning the alteration process minimizes the use of toxic and threatening chemicals. Also this wool provides high breathability because air has the ability to pass through the hollow fur fibers. This pad also can easily be cleaned, washed, dried and even bleached to keep the pad sparkly white! If you would like a fantastic video that shows you how to use this pad, how it fits and more interesting details please visit the following site and scroll down about three quarters of the way down the page until you see “Matrix Saddle Pads By Toklat.

The Matrix Half Pad has this amazing non-slip, anti-friction surface that maintains a secure and even saddle position. There is nothing worse than starting a ride, and having to stop and get off your horse to reconstruct all your padding, or single pad. With this new half pad that Toklat designed, you won’t need to get off your horse to reconfigure your padding anymore. This half pad keeps everything in place and extremely secure!

The half pad market has produced countless options. This really comes down to your specific horse and how your saddle fits. That being said, research has shown that, While gel pads provide shock absorption, the enclosed bladder can’t breathe and the fluidity of the gel moves to apply more pressure on sensitive points. Horses can get extremely hot and actually sweat more and back pain may not be alleviated but in fact increased Fleece Half Pads, Sheepskin, and Wool Products, such as the Matrix pad do not add extra sweat to your horse and the wool surface contours over trouble spots without applying more pressure. The Matrix Pad simply provides more saddle security, more shock absorption, breathability, and overall more comfort for your pride and joy!

Toklat got it! The Matrix ERG Half Pad seems to be the best half pad in the market. This pad really does have it all. The pad provides an amazing amount of comfort and cushioning for both the rider, and more importantly, the horse. As mentioned earlier, The Matrix Half Pad can be slightly reconstructed with the various insert options for corrective solutions. We spend an immense amount of time and money on these animals. We spend hours planning for them. We spend all day and night thinking about them. Since we spend all this time analyzing, debating and planning for our horses, why not buy a half pad that will only enhance your horse’s ability, performance and overall demeanor? Give it a try….Matrix ERG Half Pad, by Toklat!


written by Lila Gendal


Strafford Saddlery is the preeminent horse tack shop in Vermont. Stocked with an abundance horse tack supplies, Strafford Saddlery and our online horse tack shop is the one-stop source for all of your horse equipment needs. Finding the proper saddle is one of the most important investments that you can make in horse riding. We sell an assortment of different new and used saddles, stocking Bates and Barnsby Jump and dressage Saddles. Find the perfect one for you and your beloved horse. Our experienced staff can help with proper fit and all saddles available to test ride. Wide range of breeches, boots and turnout blankets. The optimal fit for your riding breeches will not only leave you looking stylish, improve performance, and increase comfort. We offer three styles of Tredstep tall boots. Our horse blankets come in an array of different colors, sizes, designs and thickness levels. Breathable and waterproof Horseware Ireland turnout blankets will keep your horse cozy, clean and fashionable. Take advantage of the excellent sale prices we currently have on our riding breeches and horse blankets! Strafford Saddlery takes tremendous pride in our customer service and we know our products. We strive to help our customers find all their needed equestrian supplies in Vermont. Horses are our passion and we love to help other horse enthusiasts find the equipment needed to keep their horse healthy and in top shape. If you have any questions about our products or how to find the right fit, please contact us.