Vegan Equestrian

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Representing the vegan equestrian community on the web.

Kinky Boots!

Well, okay, there may be nothing kinky about riding boots (unless you’re using them like that), but I certainly feel as frustrated with trying to find the perfect vegan riding boot as Lola does trying to find man-sized heels in the eponymous movie.

Since I ride in an endurance saddle with English-style stirrups, I either need a tall boot, or a paddock boot with half chaps. I do own a pair of synthetic tall boots: the Saxon Equi-Leather Field Boot, which I like well enough if I’m feeling formal enough to put on a pair of breeches. But most days, I hit the trail in jeans, and even with an extra-wide calf, they just won’t fit my pants leg. So lately, being both lazy and cheap unless inspiration strikes, I’ve been riding in a $10 pair of ballet flats with my very old (leather) half chaps on top. I don’t run into many other riders on the trail, but my mom sure does make fun of me.

Said ballet flats are starting to fall apart now, not to mention being completely unsafe and inappropriate footwear around horses, so it’s time to start shopping for a replacement. I just ordered the Roper 8” chunk boot off of Zappos, since they were on sale and it’s too far past my bedtime for me to make good decisions with a credit card. They are listed as all synthetic and man-made materials, with a fabric inner lining. They’re cute, look durable, and will be good for barn chores and the like. The only problem is, they’re brown, which means a new pair of matching half chaps will be needed at some point.

I’ve also got my eye on the Jambu Colorado boot. It’s not a riding boot, but it does have a sort of a heel and a wider-looking leg (with an elastic insert in the back). The only trouble is, it has the usual zipper up the inside of the calf that screams ‘not a real riding boot!’ from a mile away. But they’re cute enough boots that even if they didn’t work for riding, I’d be sure to wear them somewhere else. The plus side is I love Jambu’s shoes, and find the footbed very comfy. This comes in handy if I find myself needing to get off and walk during a trail ride. The downside: they’re $153.00. Ouch. Something to keep in mind, however.

I’ve had bad luck in the past with the synthetic paddock boots on the market. I think I had a pair of zip-up Saxon paddock boots most recently, and they fell apart in less than a year. Granted, I put a lot more wear and tear on them than I did the field boots, which are holding up just fine (despite sporting claw marks up one side where the cats decided they would make a great scratching post).

My ideal boot would be stylish (think Ariat, whom I’ve sent numerous emails to requesting non-leather options), zip-up or step-into (there’s that lazy thing again), very durable, comfy footbed that’s good for hiking and barn chores, and at a good price point, so slogging around in manure isn’t going to feel like a crime against common decency.

Maybe I need to make like Kinky Boots and start a line of my own! If only I’d inherited a shoe factory….

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On Bridles – the Kieffer Jessica

Today I want to talk about bridles. I’ve done an occasional amount of thinking about them, but not a great deal, since I tend to ride my horse in a halter more often than not. Like everyone ought to do, I started him in a halter (no, a bit does not equal emergency brakes, security, or anything else that you’d need on a green horse), and aside from two minutes in a wintec bridle that didn’t fit very well, he’s never worn a bit. The vet has asked me several times now if I’d like to have his wolf teeth out so they won’t interfere with a bit, but as I’ve never planned to use one, and I don’t much like the idea of someone pulling my horse’s teeth out, sedated or not, I’ve always said no.

However, I keep running up against the problem of needing a bit to show. This could easily launch a whole nother thread of discussion, but let’s just say that in a spirit of fairness to both my horse and my lifelong dreams, I’m considering how to go about riding him occasionally with a bit. I think, if it’s worn loosely in his mouth, Parelli-style, and if I make a honest attempt to ride 90% with my seat, we can do this. I still believe that Dr. Cook is right about the distracting stimulation of salivary glands and all the other arguments he makes against bits, which is why any trail riding, hacking, or general leisure riding I do will continue to be done in a halter (or, perhaps, in my bitless bridle). I am still going to try at every opportunity to ride in shows with a bitless bridle (we’ve already convinced the Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America that we can ride trail classes without a bit, and they’ve offered me an opportunity to convince them that it is acceptable in other classes, as well… which I need to take them up on). But at the end of the day, there are going to be some shows I might want to tackle where we need a bit.

So, all prefacing aside and perhaps in a spirit of curiousity, I sort of want to have a standard cavesson bridle around. Like I mentioned above, I used to have a Wintec synthetic bridle – a cob size I got on sale at PetSmart – but ‘cob-size’ really meaning it fits an Arabian, and not a true cob, I ended up selling it on eBay. I didn’t really like it when I had it, size issues aside, because the material was very stiff and the seams were inside the browband and noseband, and I could see them poking and generally being uncomfortable. I’d like something much softer, that really wraps around and conforms to the horse’s head. A bit of research a while ago led me to the Kieffer Jessica bridle, made of their special ‘SECU’ material. Curiously enough, the Kieffer Jessica is not listed on the Kieffer USA website, and I’ve been told by Dover Saddlery that the bridle was recalled, although they could not tell me why. There is currently one seller on eBay selling the Kieffer Jessica for $150. I remember a while ago, it was listed on Dover for about $70. There is one review of the bridle on horsetackreview.com, which sounds promising. I emailed Dover a few days ago to see if they might have any more bridles in stock. I am waiting to hear back from the customer service rep, who’s put in an inquiry for me. If they can’t get me one, I might be tempted to get the one on eBay, although it’s really outside my budget right now and I’d rather have one with colourful padding than black on black. Other than that, it looks like the bridles are only for sale in Australia – one of those countries, along with England, which seems far more amenable to synthetic goods than the US.

I have been assured by both the seller on eBay and the Dover rep that the bridle (and reins) are entirely synthetic. I can’t seem to find much information on this SECU material, however. One thing that always interests me is the breaking point, as obviously leather presents the attractive distinction of breaking at a certain weight, making it a lot safer than the nylon-based beta and biothane.

If you’re thinking of a synthetic bridle, there are always a number of custom tack makers (for instance, Hought makes a lot of really nice things out of beta and biothane), but most of what you’ll find will be more like endurance tack with flat pieces of strapping instead of the lovely rolled edges and padding usually found in more traditional English tack. I’ve yet to see anyone attempt more three-dimensional shapes with beta and biothane, but I don’t think, given their thickness, that they really lend themselves to such manipulation.

I’m trying to do some more research into alternative materials, since such places as the vegan baseball glove manufacturer Carpenter Trade boast materials that offer superior performance to leather – of course they are probably not considering a need for ‘break-away’ safety. Expect a post soon.

Filed under: Uncategorized, ,

First post!

Hi Future Dedicated Readers (I’m being optimistic here),

Welcome to my blog! I think if you’re here, you’ll probably agree with me that there is a definite lack of representation for the vegan equestrian community on the Internet. In fact, I’m beginning to think I may be the only one.

But no, that can’t be possible. The Internet is host to infinite possibility, and the world is an awfully big place. So if you’re here, and you’re like me (reconciling the vast chasm between cruelty-free living and partnership with equines), leave a comment and represent!

In a nutshell, I intend to use this blog as a place to record discoveries, innovations, trials, tribulations, etc. about being vegan in the leather/sheepskin-heavy world of horses. There may be some more natural horsemanship-oriented posts as well, as I think vegans (and anyone who wants to do right by their horse) will eschew traditional practises in favour of true partnership and communication with horses.

So, take a seat, enjoy, and join me!

All the best,

Your Vegan Equestrian on the Web

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