Ralph Neighder Equine Consumer Report #1

OK, OK, probably a really silly name for this… But, I kinda liked it.  For those of you who are too young to know the reference, it is for Ralph Nader who is a consumer advocate.  There are groups called, Nader Raiders, who test products or corporate ideologies and report.  Anyway, since I like to try things and then document my results here, I thought I’d call it, Ralph Neighder Equine Reports.  Get it?  OK, here goes:

Today I have several products that I’ve ordered or found.  Not all of these things are really equine products.  Some are just ideas that I have…


I wrote about this two days ago but it was such a great find, I’m re-posting it here today. Basically, I wanted a three step mounting block but didn’t want to pay the high prices (best price online was $116 plus a hefty shipping charge).  I couldn’t find one on Craigslist and knew no one who could whip one up for me.  Did you  know that there are several patterns online if you want to make one?

But luckily (I’m doing a little jig here), I was at a boating store the other day and found this!  It was $75!  And there were several styles and sizes for me to peruse.  It works great and I’m really happy with the purchase!  So, go to your nearby marine store if you need a 2 or 3 step!


I wrote previously that I was ordering this.  I wanted a hay holder in my trailer that had no holes big enough for hooves.  (Don’t ask…)  I have tried the feeders that come with the trailer and that was a bad idea for my very high stepping front ended horses.  I’ve tried most hay bags with the big round hole in the bottoms and that didn’t work.  Hay nets are definitely out.  But then I saw this and decided to give it a try.

When it came, I thought it was well made but huge.  After putting a flake inside, I saw that it wasn’t huge.  I played with how to hang it in my trailer.  My best idea was to put a big clip through the top four rings to hold it closed and hang it.  I then used their strap to tighten it against the back of the trailer so it would stay facing forward and not twist.  That didn’t work so well.  But, I know I can come up with something to keep it in place since there are D-rings at the top and bottom.

I have to say that I didn’t notice any activity with the bag when I took Finn for a 20 minute ride around the neighborhood.  I don’t know if he was too busy gawking to eat, or if I needed to show him how to use it.  I think I will pull out a few strands the next time we go and see if he gets it.  I’m sure, if he was hungry enough, he’d figure it out.  All in all, I think this is a good hay bag for people who have horses who get their feet stuck in them.  On the downside, it was kinda spendy and shipping wasn’t cheap —  however it is made by a Mom-n-Pop type outfit so I do appreciate that.


OK, this is where I may go off the deep end, pardon the awful pun. When I was at the marine store, I also saw a few items that I thought could work in the equine world.  Here are my ideas.  We’ll see if they are ridiculous ideas or if they just look ridiculous.

1)  Boat Tow Harness ($12.99):  I don’t know the actual use for this but I thought it could be a good everyday rein.  It had really good snaps already attached and it was very lightweight.  When I opened it up, I liked it even more because it was the perfect length!  But, it has a handle at the gathering point which is awkward for me because I use two reins.  I think I will just undo it or orientate it the other way.

I used Beautiful Girl as my demonstration horse today and she absolutely preferred the yellow rein to the blue one.  When I gave
her the choice between the blue or the yellow, she chose the yellow each time.  In fact, I think she chose it every time but just the once she sniffed the blue one.  Anyway, I know the clips on the yellow were heavier than the blue rein at her bridle which gave a more clear signal.  But as far as her response time, nothing was changed.  In fact, I think the light feel of both of these reins was especially pleasing to her.  As for me, I preferred the snaps on the yellow one and the weight of the blue rein.  Truth to tell, I really liked using these reins!  They were very light, very comfortable and the horse liked them.  Too bad I’m gonna look real funny if I go out on the trail with them…

2)  4 Rider Tube Tow Rope ($17.99):  I got this because I thought it would work great for ground driving lines.  And, you got 2 for 1 in this package.  You get the 50′ rope for the ground driving reins and then a bonus set of 10′ rope that I show here as another set of reins (I had to add the clips).  These are the blue reins I was speaking about above.  This blue set doesn’t have the weird floating handle thing of the yellow set, so it felt better to me as a two handed rider.  And, this rein is more thick than the yellow which I preferred.  So, if I wanted to look totally silly and make people point and stare on the trail, these reins would be for me!  And, of course, any of these can get wet without any issue for when my horse and I go yachting.

As far as the long ground driving rein, they would have to be cut to make two reins since this is a loop. But, that’s easy…  So, for a lightweight but sturdy ground driving rein, I think this will work very well!  And, with or without gloves, this material was very comfortable.

Oh and another bonus, the double rein set also comes with a sturdy velcro wrap which helps keep it together when you want to store it – very good with long reins.  (My little Icy filly is a bit embarrassed that I have put these boating objects on her as tack.  Look at her face! – Kinda like when I offer my jeans to my 13 year-old daughter… “You aren’t really going to make me wear this, are you??!)

EQUINE HOOF BANDAGE (better known as the “smarter than me” boot…)

I found this in the Valley Vet catalog because I needed a boot the other day and thought this might work. It arrived and I was surprised about the way it actually appears versus its picture in the catalog.  I wanted to show you how it is laid out.  And, then I wanted to show you how it looks on a horse.  Or at least, that’s what I wanted to do..

I didn’t know I was assembly challenged. I thought that when I assembled this, it would look just like the catalog photo...  Yikes.  Alright, I admit that I am no mensa, but I do have a degree.  You’d think I could manage this.  However, it was more difficult than I had the brain or brawn to do correctly.  I mean, they have it spelled out, basically, but unless you read the instructions first (and who does?), you’d be lost out there.  And, the velcro is so strong you could hook it onto a blimp, hang on and fly across the continent, swinging…

Anyway, my initial mistake was not reading the directions first.  What I did, and what I think everyone does, is just put the item in the trailer until you need it.  So, I put the bag with the hoof bandage in the trailer.  Then, today, I just opened the package and put the thing on the ground.  I then asked my mare to put her foot exactly where it says to put her foot according to the diagram.  Approximately 10 minutes later (easier said than done…), we had the foot placed.  OK, then I had to velcro it.  But, I hadn’t read the instructions so I didn’t know what the numbers meant.  Do I put 1 to 6?  Or does it go across?  Diagonally?  Hmmmm.  It isn’t intuitive.  Or, if it is, I didn’t get it… Alright, back to the trailer to read the package.  Once there, I see that there is also a pad that you are supposed to vet wrap or sticky into the base of the boot before you wrap it.  OK.  But, it was waaaaay too large so remember to cut that down before you use this.  Anyway, I got the instructions and started over.  She put her hoof kinda in the right spot and I started wrapping.  1 with 2,  3 with 4, 5 with 6 No NoNO don’t move!!!  Oy, OK, let’s try that again… 1 with 2 and now I gotta undo 3 and 4.  AAARRGHHHH!  I pulled as hard as I could, with her foot and 1000 lbs holding it down, and I still could not, I swear to you, undo 3 and 4.  The velcro was so tight that I had to give up.  As you can see in the photos, I undid the others and left that one.

Obviously, this wrap thing is beyond me.  It looks like my Christmas wrapping — bad.  I just cannot wrap things with structure.  However, I’m a Ninja when it comes to medicinal hoof wrapping, but that’s another story…

So, I guess if you get this boot, play with it first.  I’m not saying it is a bad product, just not as easy, for me, as I had hoped.

As far as function, I think it would work for trail riding but maybe not for a hoof that has an injury that you need to keep clean…  However, I still think it is a good product to have in your saddle bag because it folds up flat and works in that application (stone bruise or lost shoe).  Or, if you have a zip line, you could velcro yourself to it with this thing and never fall off…  In fact, I think the police should use these instead of handcuffs.  Wrap these babies on the perps wrists and then slap them against a velcro wall.  Ain’t nobody goin’ nowhere!


I wrote about these in my stirrup review thinking that they looked like a good idea. Finally, I purchased a set and they arrived recently.  I really like them!  They are exceedingly lightweight!  Yum!  However, if you have short legs like I do, you need to know that these stirrups add several inches to the length of your leathers so you will have to shorten your straps accordingly.  Also, the brown color isn’t very pretty, in my estimation.  They kinda look plastic cast (which they are…) and flimsy (which they aren’t).  Maybe the black would look better.  But, aside from that, they work great and are very nice.  I find the foot pad to be the exact correct width for my feet.  My knees don’t hurt after a long ride.  I’m happy.  Here is the website.  They are on sale right now.  (I have no affiliation.)


I purchased this from Valley Vet because it was the least expensive one that I hadn’t tried already. I wanted to add an item to my total in order to get free shipping, so I chose this.  I got the large size in green.

Well, as you know, I reviewed fly masks a while ago in a previous post.  There are several qualities I look for in a mask.  The first is durability, especially in the velcro straps.  The second is darts for the eyeballs.  The third is a fitted bottom so the flies don’t just crawl up to the face — eegh.  Next, I like a longer fly mask that covers most of the face.  And, finally, I like ear holes that fit well and if I am really lucky, a forelock hole.

OK, well, this mask has nice velcro (hasn’t been put to the test yet but it is double flapped) and has nice darts.  My mare, Gwen, who hates flymasks but was willing to model for us today, isn’t automatically shaking her head because she hates the material rubbing on her lashes.  That’s good.  The fitting around the face and neck is good.  The ear holes fit.  But, there is no forelock hole which is bad for a ranch full of Morgans and hairy breeds.  So, that is one ding.  The other ding is that this is a size Large or Horse size.  Gwen usually wears an Arab size.  She’s a Morgan with a fairly petite head.  Hmmmmm.  This mask would never fit a normal sized horse.  So, if you purchase this, size up.  Also, as you can see, it is rather short on her face.  So, it would be like high-water pants on the face of an average horse…

All in all, it is a good mask for the money ($14.99) but size up.


I purchased this today from the www.bigdweb.com site because it cracked me up!  And, it was on sale ($10.99).  I think it makes the horse look like the Avenger or maybe a Horsey Pro Wrestler!  I find it very interesting that it has a zipper!  How did they do that?  Could a zipper hold up against a rolling horse?  Maybe that is why it is on sale.  Maybe the zipper didn’t work out so well?  I will let you know.  I got it in XL so that I could put it on Hubby’s horse, Bodhi.  I want the big draft horse to look like 007 or Nacho Libre!  Maybe a Ninja Turtle if they had it in green…  ;)

OK, well that is all for today’s Neighder Report… more later, for sure!

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If you want an update on the Bucket Fund or to donate, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)

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The Perfect Husband Horse.

Ok, we’ve all heard the term…  So, what is the perfect husband horse?

For my money, the perfect husband horse knocks on the door with my husband’s riding clothes in his hoof, he then wrestles my husband from whatever he is doing, throws Hubby on his already tacked back, jogs up to the ring and does all of his exercises,  with a few misses thrown in just to make sure Hubby is awake.  Then for the final act, the perfect husband horse would collect into his thrilling canter and masterfully rock the “jump over the water barrel” trick —  which always makes my husband giggle like a toddler — and jump a few more times before settling to a comfortable walk. “More!  More!”, Hubby chants with glee while clapping his hands and wiping away cracker.

While I know this is only a dream, you can get kinda close.  Well, sort-of close.  But, it takes a lot of real soul searching and tire kicking to find your match.  What I’ve learned after my quest for a Husband Horse, is that you have to find the horse that will light Hubby’s fire, not yours.  So, no matter if horsey had one slightly clubbed foot, a tendency to flap his lower lip when thinking or has a twinkle in his eye that isn’t exactly honorable, you have to overlook what YOU don’t want in deference to what kind of horse will inspire him to ride — but still be safe.  And remember, no horse is always safe. Not one.  So, you have to train your hubby, too, if possible.  (I find training the horse to be much easier.)


This is the tough part.  While YOU may know everything that he should have in a horse, it may not actually be what what floats his boat, so to speak.  From my experience, my hubby was color conscious and related to the horse like a dude.  Typical.  He was picking his horse like most guys  pick a girl or a beer buddy…  My husband wanted a horse that was pretty, that he could do the male dominance dance with and then take out for a beer afterward. He wanted what he wanted and that was that.  So, I had to work within those parameters but also slip in some qualities he didn’t even know he should want like:  honesty, smooth gaits, lack of crazy and level of training.  I had to compromise.  He wanted a certain color horse with a brawny “little buddy” character and I wanted to get him a horse that would grow with him before they killed each other.


What everyone says to get is a “husband horse”, whatever that means.  During my search, many advertised “husband horses” were broken down and so sad they had no soul.  Or, they were aged, which is fine but not for my needs.  Generally, these were “been there, done that” horses who had given up.  Or, so it appeared to me.  It actually made me sad.  In my opinion, “husband horse” infers that the horse doesn’t care anymore.  Now, for the kind-of-heart, there were plenty of advertised husband horses that I felt could come around with some love and attention.  But, since the very nature of husband horse kinda indicates that they’d only be used on the weekends, if that, I would be the one doing the rehab on these guys.  So, that wouldn’t be optimum.  The other category of husband horse was the lame horse.  Don’t get me started on people selling horses… just suffice it to say that some horses don’t work hard because they hurt.  (Pictured above is the sales photo of Bodhi, then “Diego”, from his previous owner.)

After several attempts at the advertised husband horse, I decided to really think about this and get the right horse for my husband.  Besides, it was totally depressing going to look at the above equines, needing new homes and being misunderstood.  I just wanted to take them all home.

*I’m going to add here that there is one category of horse that is generally overlooked due to price :   The Incredibly Trained and Honest Horse.  To truly get a push-buttoned trained, healthy, sound, wonderful horse that is generally safe for hubby or kids, you have to look long and hard and most likely pay dearly.  These horses are precious and rightly so…  Yet, many buyers think a good Kid’s Horse is just a kids horse and should be cheap.  Au contraire, mon amie.  It is not easy to find a patient and safe horse.   For all the chaff of misused and improperly trained horses out there, if you find the rare diamond, buy it!    (The next pic is of Bodhi tied to a trailer, pre-purchase.)


Hubby is very athletic.  And, although he isn’t a trained horseman, yet, he has shown that he has a natural balance and a lack of fear.  Physically, this horse needed to be a big horse to fit my very tall husband,  he had to be willing and forgiving to fit my husband’s riding level, and he had to be slower on the reaction scale but also spunky when needed to address my husband’s  rather maverick (read “noisy”) hands but athletic ability.  They had to grow together.  To me, that meant a young and somewhat insensitive draft cross.  I started there.


Yup, that is what they all say.  And, generally, this is very true.  But, in our case, it wasn’t.

To explain this we need to explore the term “green”.  The term “green” is many things to many people.  I would rarely put a novice rider with a non-gentled horse.  But, “green” can mean many things… Not trained, not many miles on the trail, not many wins… You really have to find out what green means to the seller of each green horse.

For me, green could be OK, if the horse had the basics of riding, but just hadn’t had that much time in the saddle.  Hubby is very quick to learn and very balanced.  This type of green horse might work for him.  I felt a push-buttoned trained horse would be frustrated with Hubby. “C’mon Buddy, I don’t have all day here… what do you want and tell me clearly because you just asked me to do an upper level dressage move…”   And Hubby would outgrow a push-buttoned trained horse because he likes the cause and effect of animal and human interaction.  He likes to know that what he asked for is what happened, right or wrong.  He likes to accomplish something.  I felt that a well trained, older horse might not keep him interested for a long time.  Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with an older, trained horse.  I’m just saying that in this situation, I felt the right green horse would be a better fit.  You know, the climbing buddy, the biking buddy or the Oktoberfest buddy… not the sophisticate.  (A pic taken today of a much larger Bodhi and Hubby.)


This was invaluable.  I would find a horse that I thought was perfect and then come to find that Hubby didn’t like him at all.  Or, I would bring him to a horse I thought he might like but I didn’t —  and he didn’t either.  This process really honed my skill.  I was getting it… I was figuring out what he wanted.  Truly, he wanted a kinship, a bond and a type of body that suited his eye.  Really, he wanted what we all want.  That certain “something” that strikes your fancy.  And, after he realized that I wasn’t going to MAKE him get a horse that I thought was right for him (and I wanted to…), then he relaxed.  He started to hear me a bit more.  For example, if we went to see Tazmania, let’s say, and he fell in love with her… and I pulled him aside and said that she seemed to have a problem standing still and the owner had a devil of a time getting her haltered after she raced through the gate while giving a little sidekick, he would listen.  Sigh.  This was going to be a long process…  (I also started to wonder how he picked me.)


We ended up with Bodhi.  Bodhi was a 3 year-old draft cross.  Now, I bet anyone out there would think a three year old anything was a bad choice.  And, I would probably agree, if I hadn’t done my due diligence.

Bodhi was green broke.  He knew his cues basically, but he didn’t have much riding time.  He was very forgiving in the bridle and kind of unresponsive to gentle cues (perfect).  He was honest, sweet and willing.  And, oh joy of joys, he had a balanced trot and canter.  So, it was true, this horse was not going to know what my husband wanted, he was not going to be perfect on the trails and he was not going to win any ribbons right away.  What he was going to do was teach my husband to cue correctly without a huge fight, he was going to try hard to understand Hubby and he was going to learn to ride the way Hubby wanted him to learn, not the way I would teach him or the way another handler would teach him.  And, Bodhi would be OK to sit around for a while when Hubby was too busy.


I’m not a ring type of rider.  In fact, all of my show horses were ridden by other riders.  Although I totally appreciate the skill of ring riding and really valued the riders who rode my show horses, it just isn’t for me.  And, if I had picked a perfect horse for my husband, I would have picked a great trail horse.  But, lo and behold, I let the cooperative voice choose Bodhi and guess what…?  I would have picked wrong. Both Bodhi and Hubby like arena work!  OMG.  I feel like my kid ran off and joined the circus!  It happened by chance.  Hubby took a lesson that involved cantering and cavaletti jumps.  They both were HOOKED!  Bodhi was grinning and my Hubby had that toddler giggle.  Whoda thunk that?  A few months ago, Hubby went online and ordered proper riding jods.  Wow.

And, as I sit here writing this, my Hubby is unpacking his new Eventing boots and figuring out his lesson schedule.

So, you ask, what is the perfect Husband Horse?  Well, I say it is the one that inspires Hubby to forget he’s an engineer, wear English pants with pride, go buy some newfangled boots and march his now coming 5 year-old, still “green” horse up to the arena to tackle those poles.  Perfect.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
If you want an update on the Bucket Fund or to donate, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!