Monday, August 27, 2012


This is going to be a shameless plug / infomercial type post. Be warned, but also know this- I don't often post these things and Never if the stuff is total crap.  I also value the honest and straightforward opinions of others.  This post is scattered with 'clicky links'.

Our gelding Mondo has forever been a fly- magnet. If he is in the barn- the other horses are fine. The flies will leave them alone to relentlessly go after him. Fly sprays work, but don't seem to last for long. With one exception and that would be ShooFly! from Show Off Time products. It is eco friendly, non toxic and it smells good. But it is also oil based and STICKS. 

Still the flies loved Mondo. They literally have been eating the poor horse alive. He has worn a fly sheet and mask 24/7 for any relief they could bring, but it still wasn't enough. This year they seem to be twice as bad. And since the mask covered his eyes and the sheet covered his shoulders and body- they went after his muzzle, his jaw, his neck, his belly and his legs.  Any time his sheet was torn and had to be repaired- the flies seemed to zoom in on him twice as strong. Wasn't long before he was sporting open sores where the flies have litterally bitten him (in clusters) until they broke the skin.

Talking to another blogger- Brown Eyed Cowgirls - about Mondo and his issue, she told me there is something out of balance in his system. Something is out of whack. There is something that is attracting the flies to him, not just that they are drawn to his eyes for moisture.

I have tried a few different things. We tried putting him on pellets and pouring Apple Cider Vinegar on them. While this has worked for other people and worked for other horses in the past- it didn't do squat for Mondo. The flies still swarmed him, still bit him and would not leave him alone.   In browsing CL one day, I found an ad for a slow feeder. The person listing it also had a website and carries natural products for horses. I looked it up and sent her an email.

Maryann of Horse-N-Heart in Prescott, AZ was willing to help and offered a few tips of using the ACV and also garlic in Mondo's feed. When I told her that didn't work, she advised me of the Excel products.  She had contacted them and forwarded the information on to me. It seems flies are attracted to horses with too much protein in their diet and an imbalance of the ph in their system. Mondo is was on straight alfalfa. It was suggested we switch him to either timothy or bremuda grass hay and put him on their product Dynamite. He is not a fan of grass and although the slow feed hay net was full to overflowing- he wasn't budging. 

Since we were heading to Paulden with Kat for a Darby (driving event) I offered to meet her up there to save the hassle, time and expense of shipping. Although we played phone tag upon arriving in Prescott, we were able to meet up as we headed home.  Mondo has been on the Excel for 2 weeks now and Man has there been some changes!

Although we were only to feed him a 1/2 tsp scoop per day- we were feeding him 1 tsp scoop in the morning and evening to get a jump on things. He was switched to Bremuda blend pellets which he snarfs up without a fuss and since the Dynamite is a powder- we sprinkle it on, and wet the pellets a little to make it stick.  By the end of the week it was working without a doubt.

I had been working with my WB mare and when I put her away to feed the herd- I noticed the bugs were out. Every horse in the barn was swishing their tails. All but one. Mondo stood there looking around waiting for his feed without swishing his tail at all. 

For some reason hey don't go after the right side as much as his left.

But the flies do love his legs.

After the first week, we have cut him back on the Dynamite to the 1/2 tsp, once a day as directed and still wet his pellets in the morning when he gets it. He no longer wears his sheet- which he has done some damage to, and no longer wears his mask either.  I pulled him out last night and got these pictures of him to show how badly the flies have been on him.  Poor horse has been this way for too long.

At least now he finally has some relief.  He will stay on pellets and Excel- Dynamite for a while, at least while this container of it lasts and we will see what happens. If he needs to stay on it for good- so be it.  It is not at all costly considering how much good it is doing him.  I am sold on it and the Excel brand certainly nailed it on this one.  Hopefully I can post some after pics before long when Mondo is all healed up.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hats, slacks or skirts? Oh my

One vote so far for the pillbox style.  Now I am toying with the thought of using the taffeta to do a small brim across the front of the hat. It's always an option...  I was originally trying for a hat along the lines of a victorian riding hat.  You know, like this-

Ladies Petite Victorian Top Hat - Brown-on-Brown

This hat is from and for only $60 is not a bad price at all. However it is brown on brown and wouldn't match my coat so well... Therein lies the problem. I have searched all over for a rust colored hat and found nothing so far that I liked. I figured if I made my own, there would be no issue about matching the colors which can sometimes be tricky beyond belief... Reds, greens and sometimes even black can be tough to match. Too light, too dark, light or dark undertones, too green, a hint of blue, too bright, too dull and do you see what I mean? Total PITA!

I have made the brim for my hat, I have yet to try putting it actually ON the hat. Then there is the task (or maybe chore) of getting just the right bend or curve to it. Finding flowers, ribbons, feathers, bows and other adornments, keeping with or even contrasting the fabric can cause its own amount of headaches and frustration and then there is the question of how much is too much. This partly because I am not all that into excess... I am not a bling person or one to overdo stuff. I like clean, simple and understated elegance.

Then at the Darby over the weekend, I found out that yes, jeans are pretty much forbidden. Slacks or trousers are ok, but not recommended. So I emailed my mentor and asked "What then?" Skirts? Is length a factor? *eyeroll* I do have the fabric and now I have a pattern, so it's not really an issue, but still. There is a lot to this sometimes.  To think some people change their outfits for each event- not hard to rack up a substantial bill in the clothing category. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

On to the next thing

With the coat finished, I had started to work on the hat. In driving it is all about the hat and having the right one is a really big deal. I had one thing in mind and so far- it isn't happening. Lucky for me, my hat has options. Usually your 'turnout look' starts with the hat and you build it up from there. Knowing me like some do- when have I ever been known to do as I am told or follow the directions?  ;-)

The hat is made from the leftovers from the coat. There wasn't much to work with and very few scraps still. For the most part it is two long strips of fabric sewn together, stuffed with stiff interfacing and sewn shut. I wrapped it around my head and measured it where it met, hand stitching it underneath. The top didn't want to go on with the machine so it was handstitched too. It is the same interfacing between two layers of the taffeta I had bought for the apron.

I have also made the apron and have a lot of the taffeta left. So much in fact, that I will likely be making a skirt to go with the coat for the odd occurrance I should go somewhere and need a nice outfit for the occasion. I also figured I would use the taffeta to make the brim of the hat. It is cut out and sorta put together, but I am not sure yet where it will go from there.

Remember the collar I had made for the coat? I tried using that as a brim on the hat. It sorta works, but I am undecided as of yet. It does provide my eyes a bit of shade and since sunglasses are, as a general driving rule, taboo to wear in the dressage ring, I will be needing something or I will be squinting and grimacing my way through the test.

I have sewn the brim on 3 or 4 times, taken it off just as many, tried the hat as a pillbox style, with and without various different adornments and am still quite undecided as to which look I prefer. If you note in the pics, there is a small pocket on the left side, where flowers, netting and other adornments can be tucked in and pinned. Please feel free to comment on which hat style you like best. I'm kinda stuck at the moment and certainly open to outside opinions.....

The complete look- hat, coat & apron. Just need my gloves...

The hat with the collar piece as a brim- all pinned together.

I added a bit of decoration to the hat

And here is the hat as a pillbox style with tulle in the pocket for an accent.

So there you have it. What do you think? I have never made a hat before. I can still add a single or a couple layers of the tulle across the front. At the moment it has a big bow on it on the back. Ideas, thoughts, opnions??? Please??? 

Friday, August 3, 2012


What I went with were some gold-ish toned buttons that have a hand hammered look to them. They are a matte finish, not shiny. They also came in a few different sizes so I could find the smaller ones for the sleeve cuffs. It was about $20 just on buttons. Figure in the fabrics, time and everything else- it's easy to see why stuff is so damned expensive sometimes.

I have never in my life made a button hole. Not even in Home Ec in school. My mom has probably done over a million of the damn things and here I had never done even one. Never attempted it- nothing. The coat was going to need 3 if not 4 of them and does anyone have any idea how important they are?  Their placement is everything. Think about it.

If you have too much room between buttons- the fabric can pooch open and whatever you are wearing underneath (or not) is exposed. If the buttons are too small and there's not enough of them- they are 'lost' on the coat. Too big, too many- the coat looks too small on you and crowded. They should also be evenly spaced and certainly in a straight line. Let's not forget that the top of the coat and certainly the bottom line up and are even... They are just buttons, but sheesh!

On went the coat yet again. I had already pinned it closed down the front several times, what was another 12-15 rounds of try not to stick myself with a pin? If only that could be used as a way of deflating a few body parts to a more reasonable size... *sigh*  I pinned it for 3 buttons. Take it off, lay it on the couch and set the buttons on it.  Does it need 3 or 4?  I decided on 4. I had already sewn the buttons on the sleeves as a faux cuff.

Who knew the sewing maching book would have directions on making buttonholes? Thankfully mine does. They are easy to do too. I had no idea. I whipped out 4 of them in nothing flat. My coat was almost done!  All that was left was sewing the buttons themselves on. I was excited. And could not find a needle. (Insert more swearing) Consider it was already after midnight and at least it was a weekend, but still.

Buttons, tailors chalk and my impromptu pincushion- not the one I normally use.
I make it a point to leave a piece of thread in my needles, knotted and stuck in one part of my pincushion. No such luck. Because the pincushion has fallen on the floor a few times, several of the pins are pushed down into the fabric. The needle was among them and no thread to be seen. It had almost slipped through the fabic on the pincushion to be lost in the depths of it. But I found it and got the buttons all sewn on. HOORAY! It was finally DONE!

Look at those buttons and the button holes! lol

The bottom needs to be pressed, mainly the one seam on the right...

A better, close up view of the buttons

My coat in all it's finished glory. Wahoo!

For anyone interested- the pattern was Simplicity 4032, View A. Yeah, how close does mine resemble theirs? Made a few changes there did I?

Now, on to the apron and the hat......