Pony Stalker

I have to confess to an obsession: I stalk the FEI Eventing ponies in Europe. I half-blame Amanda for her role modeling in horse stalking (ahem, every Mighty Magic and Tullabeg Fusion baby ever), but I’ll own my pony bias. It started with Iggy the Pocket Rocket and even though Archie is horse/hony sized (15h), I’m now 120% on the eventing pony train. I love a little guy.

O Ma Doué Kersidal - Elevage de Tassine O Ma Doué Kersidal
O Ma Doue Kersidal

I watch the CCIP* and ** events on FEI and stalk results. I follow an embarrassing number of FEI pony riders on Instagram. I google pony names and breeding and photos of them. I creep sales ads.

Divine Meniljean

The truth is I probably wouldn’t be able to ride 80% of them – they’re spicy, sassy little things over there with straight up jet packs attached to their feet. Does it stop me from daydreaming? Absolutely not. The Europeans man, they’re like, “Oh it’s 14h? Of course it can jump 1.1m XC” or “It has questionable brakes? Perfect pony for a 9 yr old.”

Boston du Verdon

Americans are so weird about height – I see so many ads where people won’t look at anything under 16h and I just don’t get it. The day I went from a 16.1h horse to something hony sized, it was like angels sang. I’m short and it’s just harder for me physically to ride something big. I don’t think I’d ever want to jump at the FEI level, pony heights or not (the CCIP* jumps 1.05m which is still bigger than I care to face down on a XC course), but I love that there’s this high level of competition available for them. Did I mention you have to be under 16? Bold kids.

No photo description available.
Boston du Verdon

So, I’m exposing myself as the creepy FEI pony stalker. And if you see a fancy eventing pony show up in Indiana… don’t uh, look at me.

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May 2021 Schooling Show Recap

My barn does nearly monthly schooling shows throughout show season. They’re super useful because my trainer sets legit courses and brings in “R” and “r” judges who also regularly judge at recognized USEA events in our area. Add in they’re at home (no hauling!) and extremely affordable – it’s a great way to get some atmosphere and school before heading to recognized events.

This might be my new favorite photo of Archie, where he does not want to wear his bonnet and gives me a look of absolute murder.

Our second of the season was Saturday, so I signed up to do a Green as Grass (18″/crossrails) round and another at Starter. We’ve consistently been jumping Starter height at home (or even BN!), but I knew with some additional atmosphere, Archie could be a little worked up and figured a quick jaunt around the small stuff would be confidence building for both of us.

He did greet my car Saturday morning like this and I almost cried not gonna lie

We had early ride times and he was definitely a little ‘up’ (…for Archie. Being up means we walked around really fast snorting for like a solid 3 minutes before realizing that was a lot of work) so I tried to give him a nice, relaxed warmup and went for a long walk around the farm away from the busyness as much as possible. By the time we went down centerline, he was about as relaxed as I felt I was going to get him that morning. He held it together for 97% of the test and it was definitely one of the best we’ve had (of a sample size of like 4 but whatever).

He had one sassy moment in our first canter circle where he “bucked” (nobody tell him he can’t actually buck very well), I trotted too soon after the walk work (brain fart) and he got a little antsy in our second trot circle with a few strides where he broke to the canter, but other than those, I was honestly so proud and happy of the little guy. Our trot work was worlds better than the last time we did this test and almost as good as its been in lessons, our canter work was some of the absolute best canter we’ve had and he even *drumroll* had his ears up for most of my test. Showoff wants an audience apparently.

Can you spot the “buck”?

I was absolutely gleeful with a 35 (a 65% for you dressage people). A 35 with two big mistakes that are easy to resolve? I’ll take that all day. Those are easy points to pick back up, plus some smaller ones (ahem, where did that nice square halt disappear to Archie?) and for a horse who has been doing dressage really only since January.

Our stadium rounds were great (minus the moment he decided to jump a crossrail like it was 2’6″… wtf dude and deciding to start our Starter round on the wrong lead despite having auto changes) – double clears and the one at Starter he was absolutely fantastic. Even when I didn’t see a distance and shoved an extra stride in down the outside line, oops. There was a really tight rollback and he said, “game on” and got it done like it was a piece of cake.

I shoved an extra stride in here and made my horse jump straight up but he’s a saint so

We took our nice jaunt around the 18″ division XC fences and he was great, although I expected nothing less seeing as we walk over most of those jumps multiple times a week on hacks. (We ended up 2nd so we did bring home a pretty ribbon) Our Starter round started fine – popped over a little log we schooled a few weeks ago, we were coming to a little slatted table and all of a sudden… the front of my horse disappeared out from under me. Somehow Arch had tripped (?) and he fell hard – my trainer happened to be almost right there jump judging and she said his face was practically on the ground. I slid off right over his head and landed basically sitting down. It was an incredibly slow motion, gentle fall and I landed still holding his reins. Archie stared at me in confusion for a minute, wondering what the hell I was doing down there. I was (and am) completely fine – I’ve fallen harder tripping over stuff on my own feet, but wanted to make sure he was okay. He had grass on his legs, but seemed to be no worse for wear. Honestly nobody knows how he did it – the ground wasn’t slick, he doesn’t wear shoes, nobody could find a hole or anything, so we’ve just chalked it up to a freak ‘forgot I had four legs’ kinda thing. I got back on (schooling shows woohoo) and jumped around a few fences in warmup and then between divisions, popped over a few small XC fences just to end on a positive note.

I went out and checked him yesterday and he’s totally fine, not a bump or bruise, so it doesn’t seem to have done any damage. We went for a nice long walk/trot hack before he got rinsed off and stuffed with more cookies.

It wasn’t the ending I really wanted, but that’s horses and life – and I’m glad it happened at home vs at a bigger (more expensive) venue. This upcoming weekend we’ll head to the Hoosier Horse Park to school XC (and peek in on Jen and Karen showing at the IDS show!), the weekend after Sharon White will be here for a clinic and then a few weeks later, we’re entered to go down to show at IEA Horse Trials! Kicking off a busy summer and I’m excited to see how everything goes with the PartyPony!

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Diamond in the Rough: Voltaire style

I’d needed to buy a new dressage saddle after getting Archie, but couldn’t find something I liked. Or if I could, finding it with short flaps was impossible or it was way out of my budget. I test rode practically everything at the barn. Of course, Archie had a clear favorite… the Voltaire Adelaide. Go figure, my horse likes expensive French leather just like my butt.

Riding in a barn mate’s Voltaire

Adelaides aren’t impossible to find used, but they’re $$$, even for a French saddle. I figured maybe if I saved my pennies, I’d be able to afford one from the UK. After all, that’s how I found my Devoucoux, which is pretty much my unicorn saddle (18″ 1AA hello).

The Unicorn

And then… fate stepped in. In the form of a used Adelaide at Pelham Saddlery. In an 18″, PRO D10 panel (aka exactly what Archie needed) and 3A flap – except a 3 in the Adelaide measures 15.25″ or in other words, a short flap, and… in (actually UNDER) my budget. The problem? It was GREEN. Like light olive sage green.

GREEN
But also like, grey? Ombré?

Amanda and Emily told me I’d be able to dye it most likely and with that, the green Voltaire was on its way to me. When I pulled it out, I was pleasantly surprised it was actually in great shape. The billets looked practically new, the panels felt great, it was just… green. It fit Archie, it fit me… so the check cleared and I bought dye supplies online and the adventure began.

One flap done
First coat of dye

I won’t bother giving a how-to – Amanda has done a much better job of that with the handful she’s dyed. Just be prepared – I didn’t realized quite how much buffing the damn thing was gonna take. I had a sore arm for a week.

All done 😍
Anything that looks like unevenness is just the weird lighting in my kitchen
And then I added rainbow stirrups and it got even better
Most recent shot, in which Archie looks SUPER EXCITED about our dressage lesson

It’s been almost 2 months since it was dyed with consistent riding and I’m still so pleased. I’ve ridden in all colors of breeches, it’s gotten wet (not like, soaked, but sprinkled) and no dye has come off. It needs a cleaning and conditioning session after being in my tack locker, but that’s just normal upkeep. Best of all, it’s improved my dressage riding tremendously and Archie is still going phenomenally in it.

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Partypony’s Spring Outing

Do you still count as a blogger if you blog… once a month? Cause that’s where I’m at these days. Instagram is so much easier, sue me.

Someone asked about the bench casualty from my last post – here is what remains…

We had our first XC school of the season last weekend. I went in a little nervous, after all, we didn’t have a great XC experience last fall, but my trainer reassured me we’d put the work in over the winter and would be fine. What do you know… it was better than fine. Archie was actually outstanding.

We got to lesson with our besties, Red and Lindsey, recently

Usually on XC lesson days we go right out to the field, but this day she chose to have us warm up over some stadium fences. It was really good for me – everything in the ring was still set at tiny crossrails from the itty bitty pony lesson before me so I used them as ground poles warming up while my trainer raised everything. Once she was done, she pulled us over and gave us some instructions and I got my first look at the fences and went, “UHHHH those look GIANT.” She basically shrugged and said, “they’re just BN size.” Oh, BN like I haven’t jumped since uh, last August? On a different horse? (She did tell me she’s snuck a few into my lessons recently but I haven’t decided if I believe her) Even if we have done one here or there, we definitely haven’t jumped right in at that height without starting smaller before.

From a few weeks ago!

Essentially, I was told, “sit up, it’s only 3″ higher, it’s not going to make a difference in his jump or anything else, you’ll be fine.” And… it wasn’t. Archie was FREAKING FANTASTIC and after a circle over two fences a few times to start, she had us do a small course and he was right there every step. It felt SO SO SO good to be back at height for the first time since Iggs!

Starter but cute!

We moved out to the field and warmed up over some small stuff – about a 2′ log and some green as grass stuff (like 18″) just to get MY head in the game. My goal for the day was GAG jumps and maybe a starter jump or two. After all, starter is where I fell off last fall.

Am I obsessed with this? YUP.

Well, didn’t need to worry about THAT. Archie was freaking GAME and we ended up jumping a bunch of starter fences, including a stairstep, a small blue table and a whole variety of banks, and we actually even popped over a BN fence or two. He never took a peek, he just came out all business and we had so much fun. He’s really starting to learn how to open his stride up in our conditioning work, so I let him open up between fences (it was pretty flowy back and forth across fields) and he was right there with me.

With the junior in the irons

After I finished up, I asked one of the juniors to pop him over his first ditch. I didn’t think there would be any issues, but sometimes they jump them like they’re horse eating holes and I wanted his first time to be no big deal. This junior has two horses at Prelim and a handful of sassy ponies she rides at BN/N so I knew she would be perfect for Archie. He absolutely was – he did jump the ditch a little big the first time, but never even thought about stopping or going around. They jumped it back and forth a few times and she added in a BN jump or two as well. He got nothing but praise from her and she offered to even take him around some Novice stuff. It felt pretty damn cool for everyone to think this sassy little QH could hop around Novice sooner than later. His mom, not so much, but it’s fun to know that’s the horse under me.

Ditches, check

I came home and spent the next few days basically sending Emily videos going “OMG THATS MY HORSE?!?!?!” We’re signed up to do a CT the first weekend of May, school at HHP the second weekend and then Sharon White is back the third weekend. I’m just beside myself with excitement for this year with the PartyPony.

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Proud mom

I was pumped to see we’d been moved up to a ‘big kid’ lesson this weekend on the schedule – by which I mean, riding with my friend Lindsey who spent last season consistently at BN. Archie has been going awesome and I’ve been leaving the barn thrilled, so this felt like an accomplishment with some of our winter work paying off.

Sure enough, it did. Saturday was sunny, 70 degrees, so basically my perfect day and Archie was freaking ON IT the entire lesson. In front of my leg, bending, I’d basically think something and he was right there with me and totally game. It was easily the best lesson we’ve ever had. An aside, when you’re 15.1h and have short legs and still improving doing the actual strides is… hard. We’re pros at the add. And the double add (raise your hand if you’ve put 4 in a 2 stride HI HELLO WHATS UP).

We is good at this

But Saturday everything was coming up awesome, so when we landed off a vertical, he was in front of my leg, I asked for more and he gave it to me, I was like, “Oh hell yeah, we’re gonna actually do one in the one stride!” We landed off the vertical, I pushed a little past the distance, let my shoulders get in front of me and Archie took a peek, my balance went wonky and he turned away… and I landed on the standard. Damnit.

I was dizzy, but otherwise fine, but nobody was gung ho on letting me get back on, so luckily Lindsey hopped on him and took him around a few fences to finish. He came through that one stride and BLASTED off the ground. My fall was just a mistake – he wasn’t bad, it wasn’t dirty, none of the above. Mostly I was mad that such an awesome lesson and course finished like THAT.

I opted to join a Sunday lesson too; normally I wouldn’t jump both days, but I knew for my own mental state I needed to get back on and jump around vs sitting for a week before my next lesson. Of course, it went from 70 and sunny on Saturday to 40, overcast and so windy they had to hold some of the standards up… super pleasant Sunday.

Slight attire change from the previous day

We started with circling over two verticals and then progressively added in to do a full course . Wouldn’t you know, this horse stepped up like nothing had happened at all the previous day and popped around in the horrendous wind like a seasoned little dude. He had every right to be ~sPiCy~, but seriously just took care of me. Including where we tripped a stride out from a vertical, he had every right to slam on the brakes, but I floated the reins and he hopped over like a freaking short stirrup pony.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how proud I am of Archie the past few weeks, but damn. This horse is not the same horse who stepped off the trailer in August, wide eyed and distrustful. Our slow and steady has started to pay off and he’s downright fun these days. I’m excited to hopefully get out and show this year, but honestly, it would be a bonus, not the goal. He’s a little quirky, a lot goofy and he’s turning into the horse I saw peeks of on that video seven months ago. My trainer has even remarked how different he is and the fact that I’m riding him like a completely different horse too. Some of that is trust bank, some of that is a relationship we’ve built and some is Archie stepping up to be the horse I knew he could be.

It’s back up to 60 and sunny today (seriously THIS STATE WTF INDIANA) and should hang out here the rest of the week, so he’ll get today off, we’ll have our regular Tuesday dressage lesson and hopefully some fun hacking the rest of the week. Spring is here and the party pony is coming out of hibernation.

Literally (He’s impossible to get butt shots of without someone holding him)
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Things I have done recently

Things I haven’t done: bought a new bridle

Things I have done (in no particular order): taken birthday photos of my horse, fallen off the mounting block, discovered my horse can gallop (…ish), HORRIFIED my trainer with new purchases, taken jump and dressage lessons and ordered new brushes.

Things are going well, obviously.

Last week we celebrated Archie’s 10th birthday with a hat and treats and his own personal song. He wonders why he puts up with this from someone nearly 30 years old, but I keep an endless supply of cookies coming, so it’s a very quiet voice.

I did fall off the mounting block. Nobody’s fault but my own. Sad day for the bench in front of it though, as I managed to take out a 2 x 4 with my shoulder. Feeling pretty badass/Iron Woman though. (Nothing is any worse for wear, horse, human, mounting block, except for the poor bench…)

Archie has taken to trotting up to the gate when everyone else gallops and thinks jumping more than about 6 jumps is too hard, so we’ve both been signed up for conditioning boot camp. It’s more entertaining than it sounds, as it mostly involves me babbling through trot sets, practicing Tik Tok dances, occasionally FILMING tik tok dances, and my horse spooking at the fence. To his own pasture.

My new purchases include the navy glitter boots Amanda put me on from Epplejeck and RAINBOW UNICORN stirrups. My trainer, she of the ‘I hate bling’, was rightfully horrified and asked if I’d stolen said items from a 12 year old. What she doesn’t realize is I take absolute delight in horrifying her with these things and her reactions only encourage me. (See: the time I put a rainbow halter on my horse)

More glittery in person, I swear
My stirrups are fucking FABULOUS and I will not hear otherwise
Archie also acquired this cooler which kind of has a mafia bathrobe feel to it

We’ve had some great lessons, jumped some fun course and done dressage-y things. But none of that is particularly interesting so just.. look at pictures? I’m really good at this blogging thing.

Very unhappy about his bodywork being done
The look when I tell him we have a dressage lesson
Road hacking with his BFF Neil is great fun until they try to play bitey face at the stop sign
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Bridle Casualty

Spring has stuck around and with it has come the return of outdoor jump lessons. Saturday’s was fantastic, although we had a rocky start. See, to get from the barn to the outdoor, we have to walk through a regular man door. Archie has taken extreme offense to this specific door for months – he is CONVINCED it is a portal to hell. We’ve mostly conquered this fear until this last weekend where I managed to pretty much reinstall the ‘demons live here’ by accident.

Different day, same portal to hell

We were walking out to our lesson and as I was going through the doorway, I tripped – really just stumbled because I am Very Bad at walking. No big deal, except I caught myself… on his rein. Meaning as poor Arch is walking through this doorway he already has lingering trauma with, his mom YANKS on his rein for no reason. He jumps forward, convinced this is The End and pulls away from me. A little freaked out and now loose, he decides to tour the farm solo. When I caught up to him, I was greeted by this:

Oh yes, he managed to break not only my reins (in two places), but also the cheekpiece on my nice Antares figure 8. I was not very happy. Am not very happy?

Archie: “Heard you were getting some stimulus money mom. I’d like a new bridle!”

So, shopping I go for reins (should be easier than it is, but COB LENGTH) and and a new bridle. This is like when your parents go “Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Happy Valentines Day, Easter, Arbor Day for the next six years.”

He JUST got a new cooler which kind of resembles a luxury bathrobe but hey

He’s lucky he’s cute.

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Spring, that you?

I’m almost afraid to say it out loud, but it feels like… spring? (We almost always get a shot of second winter, so I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but OMG it was 68 degrees yesterday OKAY). I went ahead and body clipped Archie last week because he was starting to get really sweaty on our rides and I am nothing if not lazy.

“Halp”

He was a little perturbed about getting a bath at 55 degrees, but hot water and a cooler and some bribery and he decided he’d cooperate. Of course, midway through his hindquarters my clipper blades (brand new ones) decided to just.. stop cutting? They were running and kind of cutting a tiny bit of hair, but mostly just grabbing it and not doing anything. In my desperation to try to get them to work poor Archie ended up with a rather, uh, checkerboard hind end. Less than ideal, but I was able to clean it up (more or less) with a new blade and whatever, it’s hair and it will grow out.

“My mom does not have a future in cosmetology”

We took full advantage of the nice weather and have been riding outside. My trainer/BO is still down in Pine Top, so Saturday a few of us set a jump course and decided to play around. We had a handful of lines, crossrails mixed in with starter size and a few BN verticals, so perfect for getting sea legs back. Archie and I hadn’t jumped since the end of January and even before that, we’d spent the last four months stepping everything down to teeny tiny size to build our trust bank. We’ve been starting to add a little height back in and have been jumping starter stuff inside, but hadn’t jumped outside since the fall.

Spent a lot of time doing this though

I definitely did not need to be worried – all our trust bank deposits have paid off and he was so happy to go jump around and play outside in the sunshine. It wasn’t perfect; I picked some highly questionable distances, made less than ideal decisions and generally lived up to my amateur title, but he never batted an eye. He did throw one tiny buck but it was coming off a vertical and absolutely a celebration more than anything (also he doesn’t really know how to buck and we’re going to keep it that way). I am absolutely beyond proud and happy with my little red pony.

Blurry screenshots are all I have but WHATEVER

Typically Monday is his day off, but yesterday was almost 70 so I ended up taking the day off work and headed out to ride in the afternoon. After four days in a row, I figured he might be a little sluggish or tired and was just going to walk around the big XC field. Archie, on the other hand, had other plans. He was AMPED (okay, as amped as a QH can be) and we ended up trotting and cantering around for 15 minutes until that became too much work.

We celebrated International Women’s Day with my favorite shirt

Otherwise we’ve been hacking out, starting to add some conditioning work back in (although apparently unneeded…) and hopefully some jump (and XC?!) lessons soon.

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Locked out

I’ve spent the last month locked out of the blog for some unknown reason, but not bothering to actually do anything about it. February lack of motivation I suppose? But, new month, I figured I’d give it a try and imagine that – I’m back in. Which means I guess I should update the world the happenings of Archibald the Party Pony.

We started the year with Archie’s first Sharon White clinic. We did gridwork, courses and some great flat exercises. Sharon is always outstanding to ride with – she ‘gets’ horses, she’s patient and sets you up fot success.

A few weeks later Archie got to jump his first skinny and corner with me (maybe first ever?). Being the amateur I am, I rode like a nervous monkey, but he said, “Uh, this is what you’re nervous about? K” and carted my ass around like a schoolpony. Needless to say… not an issue. I was beaming ear to ear as we finished.

Baby corner

And that… was the last time we jumped. Over five weeks ago. He’s not hurt, I’m not hurt, nothing of the sort. Just some awful cold weather and weekly dressage lessons taking precedence. We realized the jumping is easy for Archie – he’s essentially point and shoot these days. The flatwork… not quite as easy. So, for the last month+ I’ve focused on taking flat lessons and the difference is already outstanding.

Starting to find more of this finally

Half the barn left for Pine Top last week so we had the chance to ride with a local dressage trainer yesterday, something that I probably wouldn’t have done before our flatwork bootcamp. It ended up being one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had, just purely in terms of effort (Archie was SOAKING wet), but also by FAR one of the best. Little horse tried his heart out, even when things were hard and we made some great progress. He got some lovely compliments that had my cold little black heart beaming and we got some fantastic exercises to play with for homework. I’m hoping to make riding with her a more regular occurrence.

“SO HARD MOM”

In between, we’ve been doing an awful lot of road hacks on the few days it has been sunny and warm enough to get outside, which pleases Archie endlessly. He’s the most reliable little hacking partner, happy to cruise on the buckle while I practice my American Idol audition from the saddle.

Following traffic laws

We’re both ready for some sunshine and spring weather and I’ve got many other things to write about that have been happening – now that I’m emerging from my winter hibernation, hopefully I can get back on top of it.

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Summit Joint Performance: Round 2

By far my most popular post is the one I did on Summit Joint last year. It only addresses some of the formulation and clinical issues though and I’ve been wanting to discuss the other associated… topics. So, round two, here we go.

Summit was “created” (the company, the product, although not the original chemical composition) and is owned by the Farmers – Heather and Dorian. Heather is a veterinarian by trade and Dorian has multiple… ventures.

They both have records of legal action: Dr. Farmer for violating a previous non-compete agreement and Dorian for felony grand theft auto, forgery and obtaining property under false pretenses (also both felonies). Additionally there’s information that he may have convictions for worthless checks and operating a vehicle with a suspended license. As far as I know, neither have faced any legal action directly related to SJP, but this isn’t a great or reassuring foundation for anyone creating and marketing a drug.

“But why should past mistakes impact him now?”

Maybe because… they do. There’s a reason having convictions in the US limits things like licensures and regulatory approvals. More so, this isn’t “one mistake” – these show a pattern of an individuals manner of doing business and going about life. And it’s not one I would put much value on to create an injectable for my animals.

“The owner is a veterinarian though!”

Yep. She is. We covered this in part 1, but suffice to say – a DVM or MD or DO does not qualify one to create drugs. Ask anyone who works in pharmaceuticals. Those are usually PhDs, some who also hold medical degrees. There’s a reason. Learning how to diagnose and treat is a much different skill set than the hard science needed to research and develop a product.

“It’s not a MLM! It’s just people who believe in it selling it!”

Hate to break it to ya, but you’re… wrong. Let’s take it from the FTC:

MLM companies sell their products or services through person-to-person sales. That means you’re selling directly to other people, maybe from your home, a customer’s home, or online.

If you join an MLM program, the company may refer to you as an independent “distributor,” “participant,” or “contractor.” Most MLMs say you can make money two ways:

by selling the MLM’s products yourself to “retail” customers who are not involved in the MLM, and

by recruiting new distributors and earning commissions based on what they buy and their sales to retail customers.

So let’s take SJP. Their “distributors” sell to retail customers and recruit new distributors where they then earn commission on. Making it.. an MLM. Any person who represents/distributes/sells SJP has a vested financial interest in your purchasing the product. Conveniently, when you then “sign up to be a representative” they get more money.

Are any of these things singularly disqualifying for a product’s reputation? Maybe not (although any MLM product is for me). Once you combine this with the lack of clinical data, playing fast and loose with federal regulations and shady business practices though – I’m not sure how anyone could feel comfortable with this product.

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