February 27, 2011

Bad Boy's Back!

It was 72 degrees today (don't hate the player...) so I decided some jumping was in order!  Which of course meant I had the perfect excuse to try out the new helmet cam.  So, the end result after two hours of fidgeting with the crappy software it came with?  Your 18 seconds of entertainment...

No, I have not yet figured out how to make it fit within the column. Or how to upload it to our YouTube channel. Or how to even truly crop the video. Or how to make it not sound like there is a hurricane on my helmet. Thus far, we can only get it onto the camera manufacturer's website, sigh... Baby steps.

While Solo did get very tired quickly, his stride felt good and his jump felt GREAT. He was rounding and using his back end to get over the fence again and seemed comfortable even hopping through a bounce. Oh, I hope this is only the start of good things to come!

February 26, 2011

Looking Up

Dr. Bob gave Solo two thumbs up during a brief visit on Friday. Now all we have to do is keep building those blood levels back up. We definitely won't make our planned March HT, so our level move-up schedule is getting pushed back, snif, BUT if the goddesses are kind, we can make our April event. Please be kind....

In other good news, the ever-lovely SO gifted us with a helmet cam for my birthday (that's it right there, on the left)! So Solo's galloping adventures shall be recorded in HD from the saddle. Thanks, baby! I can't wait to try it out!!!

February 24, 2011

I KNEW Dr. Bob Was Awesome!

Look, he was on my favouritest TV show of all time!!!

(Thanks, RiderWriter, for reminding me of my other favourite Dr. Bob!)

February 21, 2011

Butt Velcro

First off, happy 15th birthday, Mr. Shiny McJumpy Pants!

Rehab is boring.  But the slowness of it forces you to work on things you might otherwise pass over.  Since Solo has the energy level of a dead sloth right now (low red blood cell levels, etc.), I can't exactly practice much high energy stuff.  I decided, why not hop on bareback and practice walking on the bit at a speed somewhat faster than a death march (always a weak spot).

We wove in alternating curves around our dressage arena cones; left bend, right bend, left bend.....no shoulder popping, now!....right bend, left bend....stay on that outside rein!...right bend.  We marched straight  approximately down centerline and bent around a 20 meter circle, all at a walk I tried to maintain without nagging, focusing on a steady, supple contact.  If Solo started to lock that left side of his jaw, I just massaged it with the bit on that side until he let go again.

Stretch break!

Then I couldn't resist a single lap of canter on each lead. The arena is not huge and I wasn't going to make him be round, just to stay balanced and rhythmic. Having just gone to Mr. Physical Therapist today too, I wanted to experiment a little with my seat; my constant problem is that I am unable to unlock my lower back and hips. They are generally tight and sore, so I cannot simply "relax and swing" with the horse as one is directed to do. But things have been improving, so I gave it a go.

Once we picked up the canter, I imagined that there was velcro between my butt and the saddle: the hooky side was on my butt and the soft side (you know what I mean) was on the saddle. My goal was to keep them stuck together without rubbing or moving, they just had to stay stuck. Above all, I didn't want to mentally "hear" that scritching sound you get when you rub velcro sides together. I imagined PLANTING my half of the velcro onto the saddle's half and smooshing it there.

Crazy? Possibly.

Successful? Yes! It did help a lot. I suddenly could feel and realize how much motion there must be in the lower back and pelvis to swing with the canter. And it's a LOT of motion! But my velcro did not scritch and slide all over the place very much, although I didn't have eyes on the ground to confirm this. 

I have obviously invented some priceless horsemanship secret and will now become a millionaire! HA! But it may be worth giving a try, it just seemed to help my body make sense of what I was asking it better than me screaming at my ass, "Stay put, you sorry bastard!" Does it help you? Do you have another image that works for you? Do share!

February 20, 2011

We're Going Pro

No, I have no delusions that I am the next coming of Boyd Martin.  But....We Are Flying Solo has an honest-to-god address of its very own!  That's right, look up -- up there in the URL bar, you should see our new home:  www.teamflyingsolo.com. Don't worry though, Blogger will still redirect you if you are linked to or came in via weareflyingsolo.blogspot.com.  Hopefully you will notice few changes during the carry-over.

Excuse me while I give in to an inappropriate level of excitement.

Carry on...

February 19, 2011

Omeprazole Is Omepre-great!

I just wanted to post a very excited update:  upon monitoring (i.e. poking and prodding and staring with furrowed brow) last night, Solo has about a 90% reduction in pain in his back and hindquarters and no longer flinches when I touch his sides!  Yes, this is after only two tubes of Ulcerguard (which I just discovered can be had at almost half the price I paid for it.  I hate you, overchargers.).  I gave him his third tube with a smile; I am so relieved to have my boy feeling better.  It is a horrible, helpless feeling knowing your horse is hurting.

In the warm sun of early evening, we also said goodbye to Solo's winter tail and unfurled it to freedom (right). He now resembles that girl in 1988 who spent way too much time with her crimping iron.

February 18, 2011

This Is How We Roll: Helmets

It's warm outside! And Solo slowly begins to feel better, with a little less sag to his belly and a little more sparkle in his eye. Although he no longer trusts my sneaky hands: every time I approach his stall, if he cannot see two empty hands, he backs up warily, quite sure that I am about to either (a) stab a giant needle in his man-boobs or (b) squirt something nasty in his mouth.

Today, though, I thought I'd throw about a couple of helmet reviews as folks are getting ready for spring seasons (jealous!!!!) and checking to see how gear fared over the nasty winter.

Helmets are getting a lot of attention lately, but you know I've always been a helmet nazi. Thanks, mum, for instilling good safety habits! Remember, not only do you need a helmet (well, at least if I like you. If you are annoying and mean to your horse, meh, I don't care if you fall on your head), you need a helmet that (1) fits you correctly and (2) is in good condition.

That 10-year-old Troxel that you've fallen on six times and the dog chewed on? Yeah, sorry, it's got to go. Helmets should be replaced roughly every five-ish years OR after you fall on them. Whichever comes first.

I know it hurts to spend the money if you've just bought the thing and it only has one good clunk. But helmets work by absorbing shock in compressing foam. Once you have compressed the foam lining, it doesn't spring back. The helmet will no longer be able to absorb that shock and it will instead by directly transferred to your skull. Not cool. Ask lifeshighway how important that is.  So really not worth it, suck it up and replace it! For more info, check out the riders4helmets website.

On to what's in my tack room: two actually, and I have glowing love for both.

The very popular Tipperary Sportage. I've had two (the first one met the ground). Lightweight, very comfortable, and I really like the generous head coverage. Plenty of vents for those Carolina summers, which is of utmost importance. And best of all, at $60, AFFORDABLE. Because here's the truth: a $40 approved helmet works just as well (and in some cases, better) than a $350 (or $700 or $900) approved helmet. Don't let the damn marketers convince you that pricier is better. They have all passed the same tests so the science is the same.

I also like to have something a bit dressy and more "traditional" for dressage and for recognized horse trials. I had a very VERY old black velvet Troxel, but it has long outlived its time and it doesn't fit very well anymore, so it came time to replace it. I REFUSE to buy Charles Owen (because they are trendy and yes, I am THAT stubborn that if something is a hot trend, I won't touch it), so I turned to IRH. Mum very generously agreed to sponsor it for my birthday this year (thanks again, mum!) so I am now the thrilled owner of the IRH XR9 (why can't they give them normal names, what's with all the stupid numbers and crap?). It fits perfectly, is very light, uber-comfy, and as a bonus, looks nice on your melon. At around $130, it's not the cheapest one out there, but definitely one of the most affordable helmets that will dress you up for a recognized show.

February 16, 2011

The Horse Owner's Vigil

It's been a long night.  I hate horses.

Ok, you're right, I don't hate them. Well, maybe just a little.

I rode Solo on Monday evening, lightly. He felt like crap on toast. Burnt toast. He was sore and flinchy on his sides and back. I put in a call to Dr. Bob Tuesday morning (when do I get assigned my own red "Dr. Bob Direct Line?") and waited.

I had the distinct pleasure of a truly horrible meeting all day at work on Tuesday, so when we pulled in the driveway at 5:00 pm, I leaped in my truck and rumbled over to the farm to hug and groom my mess of a horse.

He met me at the stall door and lounged quietly in the crossties as I trimmed the mohawk and knocked the dried grass out of his hair. His sides and belly were even more sensitive and he showed a good deal of pain on top of his bum, but his face was calm and he'd gobbled up his food, so I put him back and let him be. I went home to worry and get a calming hug from my good friend, Jose. You may know him as Mr. Cuervo. He's a good man.

7:00 pm, I've been home for about 40 minutes, and the phone rings. It's lifeshighway and she reports Solo is behaving even more oddly; he pooped, he drank, but he has "grumpy face" and has to be dragged bodily from his stall to the pasture, where he stands pouting with his head in the corner. He never behaves like that unless something is REALLY bothering him.

That rushing sound you heard was the blood draining from my face as Anxiety Girl stepped in.

BO is not home, so I start pestering her voicemail and simultaneously leave a message with her DH, who IS home and will put some eyes on Solo after lifeshighway heads home. My brain has already leaped to worm impaction colic, so I beg of Jose to stay with me a little longer.

My call log for the next two hours looks like this:

6:58 pm: lifeshighway
6:59 pm: lifeshighway
7:04 pm: BO
7:05 pm: lifeshighway
7:08 pm: BO
7:15 pm: lifeshighway
7:39 pm: BO
7:49 pm: lifeshighway
8:29 pm: BO
9:20 pm: BO

No, I am not making that up. Don't you wish you were in my contacts list? HA!

Do I call the vet? Do I not call the vet? Is it better to alert him at 7 pm that "my horse is acting weird" (whatever the heck he is supposed to do with that information) or is it better to wait until 10 pm if things progress? I cannot make up my mind and Anxiety Girl just seems to enjoy making it spin faster.

When I finally get in touch with BO around 7:40, she promises to check Solo as soon as she gets home and then before she goes to bed. As long as everything is fine, she won't call me.

Ok, I can live with that.

Oh, Jose, your calming powers are unmatched. Surely, our reverence for you is justified.

8:30 pm, my phone rings, it's BO's number. OMFG, five years drop from my life as I answer.

But it's BO's dear husband, who knew the call would freak me out, but wanted to reassure me that he just walked out and checked on Solo, who was calmly munching hay, oblivious to the blind panic of his custodian. The DH just wanted to give me some good news, bless him!

As the night creeps on, I formulate a plan. If BO checks him around 11 pm, then I'll go check him again at 3 am so he is not left for a long period of time (in which he is surely thrashing and dying, Anxiety Girl helpfully chips in).

I crawl into bed fully clothed, alarm set, and cell phone and keys next to the bed. Laying in the dark, I am sure that right this very moment, Solo's intestines are disintegrating into a puddle of moosh (when he is probably, in fact, still eating hay).

It's not really sleep, more of a fitful snooze until the alarm hits 3:00 am. I punch the button and stumble into the truck; I am eminently grateful the farm is only three miles down these dark, empty roads.

When my headlights hit my horse, he is resting calmly on the ground next to his buddy. He gets up and they both come to the fence for petting. Obviously suffering greatly. I sigh, but it's worth it -- if something DID happen, and I DIDN'T come, I would have never forgiven myself.

Solo's belly still hurts though, so I call the vet this morning to give them an update. When Dr. Bob calls me back, we agree that we need to hit Solo hard for ulcers immediately and I promptly hand over the hundreds of dollars it takes to get your hands on Ulcerguard (omeprazole). Geez, that stuff better make my horse into a unicorn. Or something.

For now, all Solo functions seem to be operating normally. We all know that colic can kick in with little or no warning though and losing Ben last fall is still fresh in all our minds. There will be a week of intensive omeprazole treatment and then at least two more weeks at a reduced dosage, then we'll see where we are.

It makes sense though -- Solo doesn't want to lift his back because to do so, he'd have to engage his abdominal muscles. Engaging those probably hurts like heck, so he holds his body carefully to avoid jostling the sore bits, which then leads to other sore bits.

Can this please be over soon? I'm not a big fan of 2011 so far.

February 14, 2011

A Day Of Red -- For Two Reasons

Happy Valentine's Day!  (Or #%@#&! Valentine's Day, as the case may be)

Red Number One: Love. Love for the horses (of course!). But I also have to pay tribute to the love of my very special SO. He made all of this possible five years ago when he bought me a shiny orange ball of heart with its own swishing tail. Forever generous and forever supportive of my singular and consuming dream, I couldn't do it without him. Work keeps him far away for now, a situation that many in this country have to deal with these days, but miles are no barrier for something so unique and so deeply wonderful. Thank you, darlin', for all you do and for giving me a much-needed weekend of relaxing and recharging, I love you more than anything (well, ok, except Solo, wink wink).

Who are you filled with love for today? Is there a very special someone whose picture you stare dreamily at on your desk? Hint: four-legged someones ABSOLUTELY count!!!

Red Number Two: Blood. Solo's blood to be precise. I had a chat with Dr. Bob on Friday, just before I hopped a plane to St. Louis for Red Number One, as the blood panel results were in. Solo's red blood count has dropped again and he showed an elevation in white count as well. Both of these can most likely be attributed to the parasite load. The decreased RBC levels, Dr. Bob feels, are also a likely factor in the gum inflammation. It is very lucky we gave him a steroid shot when we did, about two weeks ago, or he would be in far worse shape then he is now.  He may also have some gut ulceration from the worms, but we just have to wait and see how he feels on that one.

In two weeks, then, we'll give him another steroid shot to build the blood back up (good thing I kept him on his vitamin supplement!). Dr. Bob also recommends a Panacur PowerPac in six weeks to make sure everything is cleaned out. I will start riding again tonight, keeping it low key for a bit and feel things out.

In the back of my head, I can't help but think of the looming spring season. But I have to pull the curtain on that particular window, so as not to lose focus on today. If we make it, we make it, but I CANNOT let that drive what we are doing in the here and now.

February 10, 2011

Dr. Bob To The Rescue, Chapter 37

Yes, we went to visit our good friend again today as Solo showed no improvement when asked to engage his hind end after a week and a half of taking it easy following his chiropractic adjustment. My instincts screamed at me that there was something else holding him back.

I gave Dr. Bob my observations of the week: locked left jaw with heavy leaning, inability to lift the back or engage the hind end, inability to balance on the rear quarters, strong resistance to bending to the left, muscle twitching on the right side of the body when stretched. From a horse, who though sometimes opinionated, does NOT have belligerent in his character. There was much poking, prodding, and Solo giving me pathetic faces of dismay.

Dr. Bob is nothing if not thorough; he always starts at the nose and works back. And he immediately discovers Solo has gingivitis! His gums are inflamed around some of his teeth and bleed when rubbed. I insist that he has not been eating gummy bears and neither will I take up flossing his teeth for him. Also, he has had no problems eating hay or grain and dives readily into both.

His neck and back have held their alignment well but it is quickly apparent as Dr. Bob runs practiced fingers over his midback and hindquarters that there is a great deal of soreness there. Then he palpates Solo's belly midline and my horse twitches and kicks a hindleg at his stomach (which I have noticed has become rather potbellied of late). To finish, we draw blood for a panel and grab a nice fresh turd for a fecal.

Today's verdict: my instincts are not wrong.  There are four big ligaments that attach the pelvis to the spine (see the turquoise spot on top of the horse's butt at left).  These are very very sore, so they each get injected with a muscle relaxer.  Solo does not particularly enjoy this process.

The belly can have several explanations. (1) Sand in the gut (although it's a bit far forward for that apparently). (2) Ulcer. (3) Something else. However, after checking on the fecal, we discover that poor Solo is *choke* full of worms. WTF????? Valley Vet, I have been paying for your yearly wormer premium pack and following the directions and now my horse is a wormball??? Me not happy. At all.  Guess that potbelly is not a hay belly. 

There are a variety of reasons a pasture can become loaded with worms and that a horse can subsequently adopt said worms. Our pastures are Bermuda grass, kept mowed short for weed and tick control (ticks are HORRID here) and dragged once or twice a week. Of course, the shorter your grass is, the more densely packed the worms are on the blade. And the more you drag when the weather is warm, the more worms are spread around. But if you don't drag, you have poop hell and the flies dance a dance of joy, unless you follow your horse around with a pitchfork and a bucket. And the longer you let your grass grow, the more ticks and weeds you get. Seems to me we have a near-impossible situation, but BO is in charge of pasture management, so that is something beyond my control. And obviously what we do works at least some of the time -- of four horses who got a fecal last fall, all were clean except one who just had a few scattered worms (he is an old guy).

So. Solo gets the weekend off anyway, as I will be gone. I jammed a tube of moxidectin in his mouth when I brought him back to the farm, horrified that my horse is parasite-ridden despite my attempts at perfect wormer application.. Starting next week, I will start rehab work (volume II) and see if we get some more improvement this time. I'll have blood results tomorrow, so that may give me some more information as well. I suspect the gum issues may be related to the parasite load, but that I am not sure of yet.

We also got a new (improved!) worming schedule. *drumroll* For agressive parasite control, worm every six weeks with:

Winter: (1) Panacur/Safeguard (fenbendazole)
            (2) Quest/Quest Plus (moxidectin; Quest Plus
                 [moxidectin/praziquantel blend] is currently not
                 available but company swears they will start
                 making it again soon)

Spring: (1) Zimectrin Gold/Equimax
                 (see generic ivermectrin warning here)
            (2) Quest/Quest Plus

Summer:  (1) Panacur/Safeguard
                (2) Guess what?  Quest/Quest Plus

Fall:  (1) Strongid (pyrantel pamoate)
        (2) You know it, Quest/Quest Plus

In addition, make sure you worm for tapeworms at least 2x per year (praziquantel does this).

If Solo is still showing signs of issues after we clean this mess up, then we will try feeding psyllium for a week and/or treating for ulcers.  I am hoping that will not be an issue...  I will never know what he did to himself.  Most likely, he slipped in the pasture and just slammed his hips playing.  But what I beg/plead/gasp/hope/want now is for him to get better!!

February 7, 2011

One Day At A Time, One Day At A Time

I am having to make this my mantra. Because if I go any further ahead of myself than one day, I start flipping myself out and have to refer myself back to the previous post.

Yesterday was a bright 56 degrees and the sun warmed everyone's cold and grumpy spirits. I got to give Solo a bath to work out the ground-in winter dirt that brushes just seem to move around. There are even patches of grass beginning to peak out from the bare pasture soil. We are well overdue for some soul renewal!

P was out giving lifeshighway a lesson, so I begged her to watch Solo canter in each direction and tell me what she saw, since she is used to watching him go and has a good eye. She reported that he looked pretty decent and did not display anything other than his normal slight stiffness on his stiff side. Which means I need to stop obsessing and just ride the damn horse.

She also confirmed that we are doing the right thing by taking it slow. Even though it drives me nuts to sit on the horse and not ask for much. If you don't give the rehab its due time, the problems can haunt you for years down the road and THAT is the one thing that keeps my impatience in check.

P has dealt with this in the past as well. Her Dutch mare was a bit uneven behind and had to be ridden in shoulder-fore for 3 YEARS before it went away. Which on one hand makes your eyes bug out, but on the other hand, tells me that no, my horse is not oddly crippled, he just needs time strength-building and we'll get back closer to good.  I need to forget about what is happening a month from now, two months from now, and focus on today.

Just ride the damn horse and stop flipping yourself out, just ride the damn horse...

February 4, 2011

The Demands We Make On Ourselves

Operation Solo Rehab is on Day 3. It's hard to not ask him to be round and bendy; it takes me forcing myself to just get up off his back, give him his head and just let him trot and canter around per Dr. Bob's orders. I put the jumping saddle on last night so I would be less tempted to sit there. God knows my two point needs work anyway.

He feels ok. I still think there is something going on in his left hind. But he's ALWAYS been uneven in that leg. Maybe he always will and I just need to accept it and move on. He's not lame, it's just a little weaker and more resistant there. It is very subtle, I can't even see it from the ground, but I can feel it at certain times.

Which brings me to my current subject of thoughtful contemplation: patience. It's something I pretty much suck at with people, but have an abundance of with animals. And it's something we as horse people are constantly challenged by, as I am recently reminded by several other bloggers who are struggling with issues, as we all have at one time or another.

Part of me says, well, I took Solo to vet, vet went pop, pop, pop, Solo should now be fixed and fine so let's get on with it already! But, as we all know, it doesn't work that way. I am telling myself over and over, you have to give the body time. Time to heal, time to strengthen, time to adjust.

It is so hard for me to do this: I have a goal (which is rare for me, I'm generally all about the day-to-day journey), I have a plan. I am ready to take steps forward to that goal. So when I am derailed in the plan, I beat myself up. You messed up, I tell myself, you mismanaged, you were too slow, you made the wrong decision, now you are off track.

This, of course, is not really fair. I don't let my friends do this to themselves, however, I expect myself to be superhuman. Something which I don't think is all that uncommon among the ranks of independent horsewomen (and men, although I think just due to our natures, us girls tend to be a bit more blame-y on ourselves. We get emotional, I can own it). So this is a lecture to my brain.

Training is the same way. I've talked before about how horse training is NOT a linear process. We must be patient and allow that there are going to be bad days, there are going to be mistakes, and there are going to be backtracks. But instead of beating ourselves over the head when this happens, we instead should welcome the opportunity to fill in training holes and to really focus on what our horse is telling us. Because I have found that I often learn the most about myself and my horse when working on these holes and as we fill them in and tamp down the metaphorical dirt, the pleasure of the more complete horse you get out of it is measurable.

Now can I live up to all of this? HA! Not bloody likely! But I aspire to it. On rare occasions, I pull it off. More often, I sit my frustrated self down and give myself a stern talking-to while prying my clenched teeth apart with a drill bit. I should probably just print "BE PATIENT" on a huge piece of posterboard and tape it to Solo's stall door.

David told me recently in a jumping lesson, "Allow the jump time to develop; the greater the quality of the jump, the longer it will take to develop and occur and it's ok to just wait for it to happen. Rushing it will only cause it to fall apart." I think it's a good analogy to extrapolate to any other situation you can imagine: allow things time to develop, time to happen, and allow yourself time to process, learn, and adapt. When we rush things or when we fail at being patient with ourselves, it all just falls apart and we end up in the corner, punching ourselves and muttering angrily (ok, maybe that last is just me).

Let's all remind ourselves to take a deep breath and cut ourselves a little slack. It's good to be driven and it's good to be accountable. But let's give the process time to happen and be ok with however long that time is, whether it be healing or learning or strengthening. And maybe when we catch each other falling into the self-flagellation trap, we can offer a helping hand of encouragement -- or at least a damn stiff drink.

February 2, 2011

Solo Deepens His Relationship With Dr. Bob

I kick myself for not thinking of the chiropractic thing earlier.

I unloaded Solo at Dr. Bob's clinic (having already given all my money to my own body-fixers and various other bill collectors, I decided to save myself a farm call charge, since the clinic's only about 15 minutes away) and peeled off his shipping boots. Dr. Bob looked like he'd had a rough day, his hands were all cut up, and he was uncharacteristically quiet so I hoped that we could quickly find the root of Solo's problems and provide him with a "happy" case of the day. I told him I had ascertained thus far that the problem was somewhere behind his nose -- beyond that I had given up in exasperation.

He started at Solo's nose and began to work his hands over accupuncture points and joint spaces, looking for tightness, soreness, and reactivity. What I saw was my horse twitching and jumping at practically every touch (except his feet - yay feet!). By the time he reached the tail, my well-developed sense of guilt had slapped me in the face.

"So is there any spot where he ISN'T sore?" I asked desperately?

"Sure, lots of them, don't worry!"

*sigh* Well, ok, maybe I am not a complete failure of a horse caretaker then.

Dr. Bob retrieved his booster step and went to work coaxing all the wayward bits back into place. There were two rotated cervical vertebrae at the poll, another at the base of his neck. L-3 and -4 (lumbar vertebrae) were rotated as well, as were his withers, and several S-I (sacral) vertebrae were elevated out of place. The shoulders needed a good stretch and pop and Solo was quite happy to lean back and help out. We also added another shot of Winstrol to help tighten and rebuild some lost muscle tone to try convince things not to pop back out.

"So, he's all fixed now, right?" I was only half-kidding.

"Of course -- go ride him!" Dr. Bob seemed to have brightened a bit, so it gave me reason for encouragement.

The plan: Bute for 3 days as a balm for sore muscles. Do only conditioning rides for 7 days, trot and canter in a loose outline, avoiding collection or too much bending. Then work back into a normal schedule and see what happens.

Please be fixed, please be fixed, please be fixed...

February 1, 2011

Nunn Finer = Excellence In Service

About a month or two ago, I ordered a pair of Nunn Finer dressage leathers. They were 3/4" unlined leathers. Stirrup leathers aren't cheap these days so you can imagine my dismay when they started cracking in about a month. I am not usually one for returning things, but this time, I was planning on making an exception. I also posted a comment on the Chronicle of the Horse (COTH) forums about my problem.

Well, would you believe that not 24 hours later, a Nunn Finer rep emailed me and offered to replace the leathers for me! Now THAT, my friends, is how service should work.

I came home today and waiting on my front porch were a beautiful pair of black leathers (I went for the nylon-lined version this time) that I can't wait to put on my saddle!

Thank you, Nunn Finer, for your totally awesome service, for standing behind your products, and to John Nunn for your ever-generous support of eventing!