Battle of the Winter Warming Shirts!

I hate the cold weather, so anytime I find riding clothes that advertise they will keep me warm using some type of thermo-technology, I am up for trying them. This year I have tried three different shirts that all claim to keep you warmer in the cold winter weather: the SmartPak UnderArmour Coldgear Infrared Crew, the EIS Heated Shirt, and the Asmar Equestrian Active Compression Top.

I am going to rate the shirts on a scale of 1 to 3 stars, with 3 obviously being the best.

EIS Heated Shirt, available in adult and youth sizes.

EIS Heated Shirt: This is the one I liked best out of the bunch. EIS just released this shirt, and it has heating and moisture wicking properties. It is advertised as keeping your body 5 degrees warmer which is awesome when it comes to winter weather. The shirt itself only comes in black and has a different material on the underside than the other EIS shirts. I wore the shirt on an extremely cold day, and it definitely kept me much warmer than a regular shirt would have. I also wore it during a riding lesson to test out its odor wicking properties, and those did not disappoint either. I didn’t feel like I smelled bad after riding (though I do also wear deodorant), and I also didn’t get that icky feeling when I’ve cooled down from the lesson and realized how sweaty I am, thus making me cold. If you are going to get just one of these shirts, I would definitely purchase this one. Also, this is not a shirt you can wear alone on a 15 degree day. It keeps you warm but not that warm. That being said, this plus a good jacket will keep you warm, cutting down on the bulky layers.

Pros: Definitely keeps body warmer; wicks away sweat and prevents that icky cold feeling after you’ve cooled down.
Cons: Won’t keep you toasty on a bitter cold day, but will decrease the layers needed.
Rating: 3 stars

 

SmartPak UnderArmour ColdGear Crew

SmartPak UnderArmour Coldgear Infrared Crew: This shirt uses special technology to reflect your body heat and keep you warm, much like the Back On Track products (except without the ceramic particles). I really love this shirt. It’s very flattering and warm. It is also a great layering piece. In terms of warmth, it takes second to the EIS. I found myself needing more layers with this and not staying as warm in colder weather if I didn’t have those layers. The good thing is this shirt is not bulky and fits very well under or over other clothing so it does not add to any bulk. The shirt also has moisture wicking properties, which I found to work but not as well as the EIS. However, it does have anti-microbial technology that helps keep the shirt fresher, longer, which I have found to be very effective.

Pros: Flattering fit; not bulky; moisture-wicking; don’t need to wash as often.
Cons: Not as warming as other shirts; still need to layer.
Rating: 2.5 stars

Asmar Equestrian Active Compression Top.

Asmar Equestrian Active Compression Top: I love this shirt. It’s very flattering and fits extremely well. However, I found it to be the least warming of the winter shirts I tested. It is a compression shirt so it is supposed to keep muscles warm while exercising, which it did, but the material is thin, and I personally would never wear this without layering. The material is stretchy and soft, but thin and not enough to withstand bitter cold. The thumb hole is great for covering your hands, but I found it actually irritating to ride in with gloves over the hand part. I definitely love the shirt, and it did serve its purpose when I was riding by keeping my muscles warm, but I had to layer a lot, and I could never wear this alone in the bitter cold – unless I had an indoor, maybe. It is flattering, and it does keep you warm, but only while riding. I like shirts that will be effective before, during, and after riding. I spend a lot of time at the barn, riding or not, so if I choose this as my outfit, I better be prepared to layer or bring my heavy winter jacket.

Pros: Very flattering fit; made of great material; does the job when you’re riding; not bulky.
Cons: Doesn’t keep you very warm while not riding; material is very thin; thumb holes to keep hands warm can be irritating.
Rating: 2 stars

Overall, any of these picks are a good fit depending on what it is you’re doing. If you want to be warm before, during, and after riding, then the EIS Heated Shirt is probably for you. Looking for something to keep you warm, but don’t mind layering? SmartPak UnderArmour ColdGear Crew! And, if you’re just riding and that’s it, the Asmar Active Compression Top will definitely do the job.

Have you tried another similar type shirt this winter and loved it? Let me know in the comments below!

The perfect holiday stocking stuffers

As one Twitter user stated, this list will be almost impossible to narrow down, but I’ve picked a few things that I think any rider would like to see in their stocking this year!

– Hair nets: You can never have too many hairnets, really. You can find them at any tack store! Easy squeezy lemon peasy.

One Knot Hairnets from SmartPak. They come in several different colors to match different hair shades.

 

– Socks: This is something every equestrian will appreciate. We can always use more socks, whether they are thicker for the winter or thinner for the summer. Zocks are great too. They come in all sorts of cute colors and patterns and are a great way to express ourselves even when we need to be conservative and clean in the show ring.

Ovation Zocks, available at Dover Saddlery & other tack stores.

 

– Gift cards: Yet another great stocking stuffer. Equestrians always prefer to get some sort of money in place of a present. There’s always a vet bill, a farrier bill, or some other thing our horse/horses may need. A gift card allows us to control what we buy and ensures we don’t get something we don’t want and/or need (hard to imagine, but this does happen).

SmartPak gift card.

 

– Lip balm: Winter weather sucks, and it’s extremely hard on our skin and lips. Chapped lips are more common in the winter, and it can happen even if you have an indoor ring. Getting the right lip balm to sooth your favorite equestrian’s chapped, dry lips can go a long way. It’s also tiny and would go great in a stocking! I love EOS lip balm, Burt’s Bees, and EcoLicious Equestrian.

EOS lip balm.

 

– Gloves: If you do a lot of barn work or a lot of riding, it is easy to go through pairs of gloves quickly. A new pair of gloves is like a pack of hairnets or a pair of socks – they’re always needed and always appreciated. Whether it’s work gloves for barn chores or insulated riding gloves for the winter, you can be sure your gift recipient will thank you! And thankfully for you, gloves come in all sorts of budgets, so you don’t have to worry about spending a lot of money for something like this – though you can if you want to, really.

SSG Fleece Lined Winter Gripper Gloves, available from SmartPak for $8.50

 

– A package of peppermints: Horses love peppermints, and buying a bag of them for your favorite equestrian to give to his or her furry buddy would be great! We go through horse treats very quickly, and having a spare bag of mints on hand is perfect! You can also substitute this with a box of sugar cubes or some other small bag of treats that is stocking sized. Check out Charleigh’s Cookies, Nicker Bait, Pink Pony Bakery, or Pony Pizza Company for some unique and yummy options. Ps. Yum factor has been provided by my horses, not myself. Pps. You could also put these in your horse’s stocking.

Peppermints are a tasty treat most horses love, and they will freshen your horse's hay breath at the same time!

Peppermints are a tasty treat most horses love, and they will freshen your horse’s hay breath at the same time!

 

– Horse-themed car decal: If you know someone who likes to express their love for certain things on their car, a horse-themed car decal would be perfect! There are many companies that make these including SmartPak and a company I’ve used before, Nicker Stickers. There are all sorts of cute stickers out there depending on your riding discipline or the type of horse you have.

‘Got Paint?’ car decal available at NickerStickers.com

Obviously there are a ton more options for stocking stuffers out there – any small horse-related item could fit into a stocking! These are just a few ideas I had, and they are common things a horse lover would want to find in their stocking, especially because so many of them are extremely useful in our sport.

What to get the adult equestrian for Christmas

In Part I and Part II of this series, I detailed what to get your barn child and a youth/junior equestrian for the holidays. Now I am moving onto my age group – adults! Obviously these lists can cross over. I know quite a few adult riders that adore My Barn Child charms, and there may be some things on here that the junior or youth rider would want. These lists are just meant to be idea generators for those of you that have horse lovers in your lives but have NO idea what to get them. Or, you might be making your holiday list and aren’t sure what to ask for (a rarity in the equestrian world, I know).

– Back On Track Products: Back On Track makes products that are designed to work with a horse’s natural body heat to promote the health of joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. I’ve used many of their products with great success on my horse who has mild arthritis and a sore back. Back On Track also makes human products that work the same way. They have a whole bunch of products, such as knee and ankle braces, neck braces, gloves, and long underwear (to name a few). My trainer who has lower back issues purchased the back brace after she injured her back over the summer. She used it while teaching lessons, and she recommends it to people who ask her about it. Adult riders are no strangers to riding related injuries (or is it old age? who knows), and Back On Track products are definitely great for helping alleviate some of the issues we may have.

Back On Track knee brace.

 

101 Jumping Exercises for Horse & Rider: Gridwork is a great way to improve a rider’s and horse’s jumping skills. This book has tons of exercises that vary by experience level and by what the rider and horse are trying to work on. The exercises start with ground poles and work up to bigger, more complicated jumps. Each exercise includes tips, benefits, and how to know if the exercise has been successful. This is a great gift idea for a trainer or someone who wants to improve their jumping skills, whether they show in the hunters, jumpers, equitation, or just jump for fun! There are also two other books in the series for dressage riders, 101 Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider, and 101 Arena Exercises for Horse & Rider, which is for English and Western riders.

101 Jumping Exercises for Horse & Rider by Linda Allen.

 

– Professional Photoshoot: Many riders get professional photoshoots done with their horse or horses. These photos always coming out looking gorgeous, and I have been wanting to get one done with my horse and pony for a while. I am lucky enough to have a professional photographer in the family, so I will be having a session once this blustery, cold weather disappears. Buying a professional photoshoot package from an equine photographer is a great holiday gift for any equestrian. They will get to have a fun filled day of showing off their bond with their horse, and it comes with visual memories to last a lifetime. Professional photoshoots don’t always have to be done during the spring or summer months. Fall and winter photos are just as beautiful, and I’ve seen many gorgeous photos of horse and rider while the snow is falling! I am in the New Jersey area, and a great photographer to book is Naya Shim, who also graciously designed a holiday package for anyone who found her through this post. The package, which will cost $115 (excluding travel fees), includes:

  • One 1/2 hour session
  • Unlimited wardrobe change
  • Photo editing
  • 1/4 photos taken from shoot for free (amount of photos will vary depending on how much was taken that day)
  • A Naya Shim Photography sticker

To check out her work, you can visit her website here. Naya is located in central New Jersey. If you would like to book a shoot, make sure to mention The Legal Equestrian. Other photographers include: Horse Sense Photography (Georgia); Northern VA Equine Photography (northern Virginia).

Photo Courtesy of Northern VA Equine Photography (MacKenna). DO NOT USE WITHOUT PERMISSION.

Photo Courtesy of Northern VA Equine Photography (MacKenna). DO NOT USE WITHOUT PERMISSION.

 

– Le Fash: I am a HUGE fan (addict?) of Le Fash clothing. They are the first crossover equestrian clothing brand meaning their clothes can be worn while riding and while working/going to school/running errands. I have a few of their shirts, and I personally have worn them with my work suits. Their clothes make it incredibly simple to change if you are rushing to a riding lesson, or just to ride, after work. Just pull off your pants and pull on your breeches! Le Fash just released its Spring 2015 collection which is gorgeous as usual. They also are offering a limited selection of junior size City Breeches, which are one size down from their smallest adult size. Their shirts are well-made and extremely flattering. I am always amazed by how well they fit. I’ve gotten tons of compliments – both at the barn and at work – on their pieces. Their City Breeches are also amazing quality and fit really well. Le Fash is worn by many top riders including Jen Alfano, the hunter queen, Maggie Jayne, who is well-known in both the hunter and jumper rings, and Hunter Holloway, who has seen great success in the hunter, jumper, and equitation rings. If you can afford the price tag, definitely check out their clothing for that favorite adult rider in your life. They will certainly thank you.

Le Fash Sport Shirts & Upper East Side City Breeches.

Le Fash Sport Shirts & Upper East Side City Breeches.

Lauren Mahoney modeling the Pistachio CC Long Sleeve & Central Park City Breeches. Photo Credit to Le Fash.

Lauren Mahoney modeling the Pistachio CC Long Sleeve & Central Park City Breeches. Photo Credit to Le Fash.

 

– Mack & Jane leather cuff: Equestrian inspired jewelry is making the rounds, and I love these gorgeous leather cuffs from Mack & Jane. They are handcrafted in Pennsylvania and were recently included in swag bags at the Oscars and the Emmy Awards. The cuffs can also be personalized with initial charms. They are classy and beautiful, suitable for a fancy night out or as an accessory to a work outfit. The cuffs are a great way for any equestrian to express their passion for riding without being too over the top and tacky. If you are interested in these pieces, you can visit the Mack & Jane website here or email Jane for more information.

Mack & Jane Equestrian Inspired Leather Cuffs. Photo Courtesy of Mack & Jane.

Mack & Jane Equestrian Inspired Leather Cuffs. Photo Courtesy of Mack & Jane.

 

– Gift cards: Sometimes you just have no idea what your favorite adult equestrian might want which is where gift cards come in handy! You can get them one to their favorite tack store or simply get them an American Express, Visa, MasterCard, or Discover gift card that they can use anywhere. Equestrians always appreciate extra money, especially because we never know when our horse will need that emergency vet call or throw a shoe. Or may be simply want to splurge but don’t have the money because horses eat it all (yes, hay is actually money disguised as forage). No matter what the value of the gift card, it will definitely be appreciated.

Dover Saddlery gift card.

American Express gift card.

 

– Breeches: As I said in my teen gift list, a rider can never have too many breeches! There are many good quality brands out there, so I won’t name all of them. Another awesome thing is that many companies have invested in making plus size friendly breeches. Just like with injuries, aging also isn’t kind to weight loss which becomes harder after children are involved. There is a breech out there for everyone and every budget, and it’s just a matter of finding it! I personally like Tailored Sportsmans, SmartPak Pipers, and Le Fash. Other popular brands include Tredstep, Pikeur, Irideon, and Lo-Ride.

Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunter Low Rise Breeches in Redwood.

Pikeur Ciara Knee Patch Breeches in Anthracite.

Lo-Ride Breeches.

SmartPak Piper Breeches.

 

– Sports bras: This is probably a weird gift idea, but equestrians can always use more sports bras, so if you have the type of relationship with your equestrian friend/girlfriend/whatever, GET THEM SOME!! My favorite sports bras are from Old Navy. They’re good quality, true to size, and come in different styles. Also, if you sign up for Old Navy email alerts, they literally are always running some sort of crazy almost too good to be true sale. I’ve gotten 10 things from them before for $100 – yes, $10 an item, and I bought v-necks, sports bras, and jeans. If you’re on a budget and need something that will definitely be appreciated, these are definites on that list!

Old Navy padded sports bra.

 

Yoga for Equestrians: A New Path for Achieving Union with the Horse: As we get older, we sometimes get less flexible, less balanced… well, less everything. Yoga is actually a great exercise to assist with balance, flexibility, and working on our core strength which is really important for riding. This book has exercises designed especially for equestrians, and they will help any rider of any discipline. I have to confess I saw this book on the floor of my trainer’s car (she’s a major yoga junkie), and I decided to add this to the list. I have been wanting to start up yoga for a while because I’ve heard of its benefits for horseback riding (and I’m also a bit high-strung and tense at times). Whether you’re a beginner or a yogi master, these exercises specifically for improving your seat, communication with your horse, and even for when you’re on your horse or pony.

Yoga for Equestrians by Linda Benedik & Veronica Wirth.

Hopefully these lists have helped you pick something out for your favorite equestrian, no matter what their age or discipline. I can say with confidence that if you’re ever in doubt as to what your horse obsessed friend/girlfriend/boyfriend/sister/mother/brother/daughter/son/etc. will want, money or gift cards to a tack shop are always a safe bet.

What to get the teen equestrian for Christmas

In Part I of our Christmas series, we named some awesome items to get a child equestrian for Christmas. In Part II, we will give you some ideas to get a junior or youth rider! Part III will be dedicated to adults, and then I will let everyone know what was on my personal Christmas/birthday list.

– Breeches: You can NEVER have too many breeches, and there are tons of styles and colors out there so the possibilities are endless. Popular brands right now include Tailored Sportsman, SmartPak Pipers, Annie’s Equestrienne, Tredstep, and Le Fash. Each has their own price range, so there is truly something for every budget. Tailored Sportsman recently released two tone breeches that have been coveted by many Twitter equestrians. They are available at Willow Equestrian.

SmartPak Piper Breeches in emerald/navy.

Annie’s USA Tardis breeches.

Le Fash City Breeches in Central Park; available November 15.

Tredstep Symphony No. 3 breeches.

 

– Half pad: There are many half pads on the market, and there are quite a few ones that stand out more than the others.  Ogilvy & EcoGold half pads are the two that come to mind. EquiFit has also broke into the half pad market with its newest product, the ImpacTeq half pad. Each half pad has its own distinct following, so it’s probably best to consult with your teen rider before purchasing one. Each of these half pads also comes in different colors and models. As everyone knows, I am a personal fan of the Ogilvy half pads (who will be coming out with a line of pads for western and polo riders!). However, that’s not to say the other options aren’t just as good. Do your research and select what you think would best work for your horse! This is the perfect gift for a rider that spends their time riding a bunch of different horses or ponies. Each of the half pads mentioned will help fix minor saddle fitting issues, allowing the rider to use his or her own saddle on a bunch of different horses!

Ogilvy MemoryFoam Jumper Half Pad.

Ecogold Jumper Flip Half Pad.

EquiFit ImpacTeq Half Pad.

 

– Fly bonnet: Custom fly bonnets are very popular especially in the jumper ring, and like most other equestrian products, there are many companies to choose from. If you are looking to go high end, there is De La Coeur. Custom Fly Veils is another popular company that doesn’t sacrifice quality even though their bonnets are less pricey. Custom Bonnets is yet another great company. You can also find other fly bonnet vendors on Etsy, as well as at tack stores. This is perfect for the rider that is getting into the jumpers and starting to come up with his or her own look for themselves and their horse!

De La Coeur fly bonnet in chocolate with blue & white trim, & double crystals.

EquiFit Ear Bonnet.

 

– Tack cleaner: It is never too late to get a rider into the habit of cleaning his or her riding equipment on a daily basis. Keeping tack clean and well-oiled keeps it lasting longer, looking like new, and prevents the build-up of mold, dust, and other environmental substances that will eventually eat away at the leather. Taking care of leather boots – that most likely cost a small fortune – is also imperative. No one wants to go into the show ring with dirty boots! There are many types of tack cleaner on the market, but my personal favorite is Higher Standards Leather Care. The best part about this saddle soap and leather balm is that it comes in different scents, which is quite unique for a leather cleaner. My personal favorite is the vanilla and lavender scent, but they have a ton of different options on their website. They even debuted a Christmas-specific scent called Sugar and Spice. This leather cleaner really cuts into the grime, softens the leather, and keeps it look conditioned, shiny, and new. Best of all, it doesn’t have a sticky after feel. I highly recommend it and use it to clean all my tack, including my paddock boots and half chaps!

Higher Standards Leather Care saddle soap.

 

– Skin wipes: These are amazing to keep in a car or travel kit, especially when a long day has been spent at the barn or at a horse show. These are useful both in the winter and summer as there are many skin care wipes on the market that control oil and shine and/or moisturize. I am a personal fan of these skin care wipes which I get from my favorite store at the beach and can also be ordered from the face wipes company’s website by clicking here. They have five different scents, each of which has a specific benefit for your skin. Pro tip: Keep face wipes in the refrigerator during the summer. Using them cool is a refreshing way to cleanse your face and cool down at the same time!

Beauty Treats Green Tea face wipes.

 

The Bible Hunter Seat Equitation, by George Morris: Every equestrian must read this book. This book, written by George Morris – the king of our discipline – goes through everything a rider needs to know from the very basics to more advanced jumping and riding techniques. He even includes a part at the end that discusses appropriate turnout for showing which is a must for every rider that eventually wants to make it to the higher level hunter and equitation classes. This book has helped me understand concepts I wasn’t quite getting on the first try, and I’ve also found that things my trainer had been trying to drill into my brain for years were endorsed by Mr. Morris himself. This book is a must have for any horse junkie. You’ll quickly see why it’s sometimes referred to as “The Bible” in our sport.

Hunter Seat Equitation by George Morris.

 

– EIS Shirts: I love these shirts. They are functional, come in awesome colors, and are versatile enough to be worn on warm or cold days. On a warm fall day, I can wear this shirt alone. On a colder day, I can layer it. The sleeves have a mesh underside to allow air flow, but they’re not so airy that one will get too cold. EIS also just released a heating shirt that keeps your body temperature about 5 degrees while you are moving around. I have one on order and will be doing a review on how effective this shirt is, but I have high hopes. It seems like it is going to be a cold winter, so shirts with heating technology built in are a must have for winter riding, even if your barn has an indoor. Whether you buy the heated shirt or the regular EIS, they are a must have for any fashionable equestrian.

EIS Shirt.

 

– Belts: Wearing breeches or jeans with belt loops but having no belt is a major equestrian fashion faux pas. But you don’t need to spend a fortune to look professional and trendy. There are tons of belts on the market, each catering to a different price range. From Tailored Sportsman to Deux Cheveaux to Tory – there really is a belt style for everyone. Nowadays, belts are starting to come in different materials and colors making it possible to always match one’s belt to one’s riding outfit. I don’t think any rider would say he or she has too many belts. Here are some of the most popular styles today that you could get for your favorite junior rider! There are many places that sell belts that any western youth rider would love to. Check out It’s A Cowgirl Thing, SmartPak, and Harris. Note: There are way too many popular belts than I have space for this article, so Googling “equestrian belts” is sure to give you some good and varied options.

Deux Chevaux “Ride” Belt.

Tailored Sportsman Quilted “C” Belt.

Tory Leather Clincher Belt, available at SmartPak.

SEREIN Custom Belts, available at Equestri LifeStyle.

Nocona Western Rhinestone Belt from SmartPak.

 

– Saddle: By now, the junior/youth rider is probably finished growing, and they are probably yearning for that one special saddle that makes them drool. There are many high quality saddle companies out there, and different riders have different tastes – but one thing is for certain: we all would love a gorgeous saddle to call our own. Some of the most coveted English brands include CWD, Antares, Voltaire, Hermes, and Butet. Some of the most coveted Western brands include Harris, Dale Chavez, and Blue Ribbon.

CWD saddle.

Harris saddle.

Butet

Butet.

 

– Snaffle bit jewelry: Snaffle bit jewelry is super popular lately, and I personally love this ring by Luv Inspired. It comes in three different metal types: sterling silver, gold, and rose gold (which is my personal favorite). There are many other equestrian-themed pieces available at Luv Inspired, so definitely go check them out. If you don’t have the money to spend on a Luv Inspired piece, you can also check out these other snaffle bit jewelry makers that are a bit more affordable: Etsy and Snaffle Jewelry.

Luv Inspired Bit By Bit Ring.

Luv Inspired Bit By Bit Ring.

 

– Personally Preppy Monograms: If you don’t monogram your equestrian items, do you really own them? Personally Preppy makes it easy to monogram just about anything – your helmet, horse’s boots, and even breeches! You can customize your monogram with different colors, font styles, and sizes also. Personally Preppy recently launched their brand new website, including a few new items like Samshield monogrammed gloves. This is one of the latest trends in the equestrian world, and there are many different businesses that offer monogramming services, but what makes Personally Preppy unique is that you are simply buying the monogram sticky and can put it on whatever you want! Personally Preppy is also used by some high profile equestrians, including Lillie Keenan. Trust me – this is something your favorite equestrian would want, and it’s super affordable too!

Lillie Keenan & her Personally Preppy helmet monogram.

Lillie Keenan & her Personally Preppy helmet monogram.

Personally Preppy monogrammed polo wraps.

 

– A spa day: This is out of the ordinary – or is it? Riding horses takes a toll on our bodies. We often end up developing issues we shouldn’t develop until we’re about 45. But, we make sacrifices for this sport. A spa day is a wonderful thing in an equestrian’s world. This can mean a massage, a facial, a mani/pedi, or all of the above. Massages are great for getting the knots out of our tight muscles. A facial will definitely help with the gunk our skin endures on a daily basis – you know, dirt, dust, horse boogers, etc. A mani/pedi… well, they might not last long, but at least our fingers and toes will look cute until we go to the barn again.

Check out this super awesome equestrian themed manicure from Nailed it NZ!

– Money: This might seem a bit shallow, but equestrians can always use more money, whether its for lessons, showing, an unexpected but much needed new horse item (can anyone say ‘my horse shreds his blankets’?) or an emergency vet fund (which is something we should all have, if possible). If you don’t know what to buy your favorite horseback rider, giving them cash or a gift card to their favorite tack store is just as good as getting them an horse-related item. That way, they can use the cash or gift card the way they want to, and you don’t have to risk buying them something they might not like and/or use.

SmartPak Gift Card.

 

Every equestrian is different, so these are just a few ideas for the youth or junior rider in your life. Make sure to ask them for their Christmas list – they might have thought of something they want that isn’t on this list! And, if you’re really stuck, a nice horse in the rider’s preferred discipline is always a safe option – happy shopping!

What to get your barn child for Christmas

This is the first in a three part series of what to get for an equestrian for Christmas! We will be doing something for the child rider, the teen rider, and the adult rider. To finish the series off, I will let you know what was on my Christmas/birthday list (my birthday & Christmas are both in December). We know shopping for an equestrian can be difficult if you’re not a horse person and even if you are, but we hope these ideas will give you some inspiration!

ps. For those of you that don’t know, “barn child” is an affectionate term for a younger rider that we have taken under our wing. However, it can also be a daughter, sister, niece, cousin, etc.

– My Barn Child: MBC is the newest trend in “cute” stuff for child (and even teen/adult riders). They have recently come out with a line of apparel, including an adorable infinity scarf for those cold winter days. Their tack charms are super cute and something that every child rider can appreciate! Their stuff sold like hotcakes at the Royal, so it is suggested to buy what you want quickly before it sells out online. They have a ton of cute pony themed things as well, including hats and t-shirts that say “Stop staring at my pony” or “Your pony loves me more.” The t-shirts can be found here. Below are a few items that we think would be great gifts! Note: It’s totally appropriate to get MBC items for a teen or adult rider too! I have one of their belly button rings, a few items of their jewelry, including their newest horseshoe industrial bar, and a few of their tack charms that I proudly display on my horse’s bridle and on my saddle.

My Barn Child knit infinity scarf.

My Barn Child knit infinity scarf.

My Barn Child 18k rose gold pink pearls for the hunter or eq child rider!

My Barn Child 18k rose gold pink pearls for the hunter or eq child rider!

"Here comes trouble" charm for the girl with the naughty pony ;)

“Here comes trouble” charm for the girl with the naughty pony 😉

My Barn Child has a TON of options for Christmas gifts. They even have a page of gift ideas that includes some princess-themed wallets – the perfect idea for any pony princess in your life!

– Show bows: These are extremely popular in the pony hunters, and any little girl would love to have more! A lot of equestrian outlets sell them, so I can’t list them all, but there are also some adorable options available on Etsy.

Show bows from BowdanglesShowBows on Etsy.

Show bows from BowdanglesShowBows on Etsy.

Show bows from BowstotheShows Etsy shop.

Show bows from BowstotheShows Etsy shop.

Show bows from JustForPonies.com

Show bows from JustForPonies.com

 

Rosie Bowsie Pony Bows available at Equestr LifeStyle

Rosie Bowsie Pony Bows available at Equestr LifeStyle

 

– Annie’s Equestrienne Apparel: Colored breeches are super adorable for schooling! Annie’s Equestrienne Apparel has a wide variety of colored breeches, including pink and Tiffany blue. These would be a great gift for a child rider, especially because they often love to color coordinate everything they have with their pony’s or horse’s colors.

Annie's Equestrienne Apparel Sticky Buns Breeches in Razberry.

Annie’s Equestrienne Apparel Sticky Buns Breeches in Razberry.

 

– Horse hair bracelet: This is a cute gift for any age, but something like this would be great for a pony kid that may eventually outgrow her beloved pony and have to sell him or her (it happens)! You don’t have to give the gift with the caveat that the child will be selling her pony one day soon, but the child will certainly appreciate having this when/if that day comes. Not every child is lucky enough to be able to keep their childhood mount when they outgrow it, and a horse hair bracelet is the perfect way to keep her first love close to her heart even if the pony has moved on to another child! There are tons of companies out there that specialize in making horse hair jewelry, but we are a fan of Barn Queen Accessories!

Horse hair bracelet from Barn Queen Accessories.

 

– Package of horseback riding lessons: Some barns offer the option to buy a gift certificate that can be put towards a lesson package at that particular barn. This would be a great gift for a horse obsessed child that just can’t seem to get enough riding. Plus, it’ll help his or her parents out a lot! Owning a horse and/or taking lessons can be is super expensive, so this gift is one that will definitely be appreciated.

 

– Padded leather nameplate bracelet: This is another cute way to honor your child’s favorite horse or pony. I have three of these – one for each horse/pony I’ve had/have! They also come in different color combinations, so if your child’s horse has a color, you can customize the bracelet with the horse’s color.

Padded leather bracelet with engraving from SmartPak.

 

– Brown Charles Owen/Samshield Helmet: I’ve noticed a lot of pony kids rocking brown helmets in the show ring lately, so this is a great item to get a child that will be showing. They’ll be right on top of the newest trend! Charles Owen also has several models available in brown depending on your budget.

Charles Owen AYR8 in chocolate brown.

Samshield Premium helmet in brown alcantara.

 

– SmartPak Kensington Grooming Tote: When I was growing up, one of the “cool” things you first got when you really got into riding was getting your own set of grooming tools. This, of course, was if you didn’t have your own horse or pony. I love the SmartPak line of Kensington items, and I personally have the Kensington Grooming Tote in SmartBlue to match my pony’s SmartBlue items. Their grooming totes come in SmartBlue, SmartPink, SmartPurple, red, and black. Even if who you’re buying for already has their own horse or pony, this is a way to set his or her grooming tools apart from the rest. You can get one to match your child’s favorite color or the color of his or her horse or pony. Note: Grooming tools not included.

SmartPak Kensington Grooming Tote in SmartPink.

 

Back In The Saddle pajamas: This is for the very young child equestrian, but Back In The Saddle has some super cute pajamas. I’m a huge fan of the ones that say “Pasture bedtime.” (Get it???) They also had a set that said “Foaling to sleep” that had a foal on it which I can’t seem to find on their website anymore. They also have a selection of onesies for the horse loving infant. You can see their pajama selection for kids here.

Back In The Saddle “Pasture bedtime” pajama set.

 

-Equestri LifeStyle Spur Belts: Earlier this year, Equestri LifeStyle debuted their line of spur belts for teens & adults. Well, now they have spur belts the perfect size for kids! These belts have been super popular, and they came in all different colors and materials. There is something for every child to love. It’s a welcome change from many other belts out there that seem to all look the same.

Equestri LifeStyle's is launching its new line of Spur Belts for kids on November 11. Photo Courtesy of the Equestri LifeStyle Facebook page.

Equestri LifeStyle’s is launching its new line of Spur Belts for kids on November 11. Photo Courtesy of the Equestri LifeStyle Facebook page.

– Fancy pony: And then we have the ultimate present for any child equestrian, a pony! There’s some very nice one’s on BigEq.com (my favorite site to peruse when I am avoiding doing everything else I should be doing). Sure, the price tag may be a bit much, but isn’t your barn child worth it?

Maddie Schaefer & Armani at the Capital Challenge. Photo copyright Shawn McMillen Photography

Giveaway for 15k, 20k, & 25k views: First one up 15k!

I started this blog sometime ago because I was bored, and it ended up turning into much more than a boredom project. I obviously have all of my readers to thank for that! You guys have helped make this blog huge, and my posts have been shared on some of my favorite equestrian companies’ social media sites which is a huge HUGE honor to me, as I never thought it would end up like this.

As a token of my appreciation, and because I have promised doing giveaways for reaching certain view milestones (I blame the bar exam for getting in the way of those…), I have decided to do three giveaways for reaching 15k, 20k, and 25k views on my blog.

The first giveaway begins tonight! I will be giving away a My Barn Child Owl Charm, which I think is super adorable. It looks like this if you haven’t already seen it:

My Barn Child Owl Charm.

My Barn Child Owl Charm.

I have a few MBC charms, and I love them. I also have one of their belly button rings, and I recently won a bracelet and pair of earrings from them through the Just World International Team Honduras silent auction! All of their products are well-made, high quality, and peppered with originality. My Barn Child is the original tack charm company, and it definitely shows when you receive one of their products. It’s a great way to add a touch of ‘you’ and your horse to your tack, boots, belt, breeches, or any other creative place to hang a tack charm. I use my Evil Eye charm to ward off negativity and bad karma. It’s currently hanging on my saddle!

The giveaway begins at 8:30 pm, October 13, and it closes at midnight on October 21!

Ready to enter? Go here to start upping your chances of winning this awesome charm!

Good luck everyone! I’ll announce the next giveaway on October 21, after this one ends.

How to be a good equestrian brand ambassador

I spoke with those in charge of some of the most coveted ambassadorships in the equestrian world today to find out what they think makes a great brand ambassador, including:

Whether you are one now or are striving to be one in the future, these words of wisdom are sure to help!

What is a brand ambassador?

For those of you that don’t know what a brand ambassador is, it is an individual chosen by a company to wear and/or promote their product using word-of-mouth, social media, or other avenues of promotion. Some brand ambassadors are given discounts on the company’s products in exchange for the promotion while others are given free products. For those of you wondering whether this would be in violation of USEF’s rules for amateur riders, there is no clear answer. The Legal Equestrian reached out to USEF some time ago asking for clarification of whether being a brand ambassador would jeopardize one’s amateur status, but an answer was never received. Some are of the opinion that it would while others do not believe so.

What makes a great brand ambassador?

Pretty much everyone I spoke to agreed that a brand ambassador should genuinely love and use the company’s products. Because part of being a brand ambassador is creating a positive image for the brand and attracting more customers, using and knowing the product on yourself or your horses goes a long way in ensuring a successful ambassadorship. Oftentimes, a brand ambassador will be asked questions about a product, and if the ambassador can’t answer them, that won’t really sway someone to try the product if they were on the fence.

Averill also said that personality played a huge part in her selection of the My Barn Child Featured Riders.

“What makes them (Featured Riders) all great is their personalities,” Averill wrote in an email. “They are outstanding girls who will be noticed (and liked) in whatever circles they move in. If they are standout girls, what they wear will stand out.”

Kristy believes that a brand ambassador should be friendly, approachable, and helpful. She, along with Petra and Megan, appreciate when a brand ambassador is “creative” in their own way rather than just regurgitating what is posted on the companies’ social media accounts.

Alexa likes brand ambassadors that are “with it” on social media and that are super knowledgeable. She also likes someone that is willing to do anything and who is passionate about riding.

“They [brand ambassadors] are stylish, enthusiastic, and know how to help market your brand, and are always coming up with fun ideas and are game for anything.”

The “no-nos” of ambassadorship

Being an ambassador does come with huge responsibility. After all, you are representing a company that wants to maintain a positive image and keep selling products!

“I would suggest that brand ambassadors steer clear of two common pitfalls,” Averill said. “The first is forgetting that you are representing a company at all times. The second is over-doing your promotion of the business.  A great brand ambassador falls in the middle of the spectrum: They are themselves, they are good examples of the brand‘s image and their promotion of the brand is genuine.”

Petra stated that she is fortunate to not have experienced any no-nos with her brand ambassadors but had a gentle reminder about spelling:

“I know ‘ecolicious’ is not the easiest to spell, but when we get tagged, it’d better be right.”

Kristy had a lot of input when it came to the no-nos of being an ambassador:

“People getting nasty with others, any sort of bullying, too much foul language, lewd photos, directly dissing competing brands, people who beg for an ambassadorship but then never do anything,” she said. “Basically, forgetting that by agreeing to be an ambassador, you forgo some of the ‘personal expression’ on your social media – everything reflects back to the company and if you are not mature enough to handle censoring yourself – you should not be an ambassador. I am not saying that my all ambassadors are perfect, you just learn from the hiccups and move on.”

It is worth noting that none of the individuals I spoke to said they had any negative experiences with their brand ambassadors, which is a great thing!

As someone who sees and interacts with brand ambassadors daily on social media, I find it to be a turn off when I see a brand ambassador bullying another equestrian or using extremely foul language. I have actually tweeted about this issue because I’ve seen quite a few brand ambassadors engaging in this behavior. While we are entitled to free speech, you also must remember you are representing a brand. If you are portraying yourself in a negative light, it does not reflect positively on the brand with which you are affiliated (no pun intended). When I see a brand ambassador engaging in negative behavior, it makes me think poorly of the brand.

Another no-no that Alexa identified is ambassadors that hop from brand to brand and seem to be an ambassador for every company. While it’s great to be loyal to so many brands, it can have its drawbacks.

“I think it’s a little strange when they hop around to millions of different brands and businesses- it’s like at that point what makes you different and how are you going to help all these businesses succeed if you are an ambassador for 10 different places,” Alexa said.

Additionally, if you are a brand ambassador for a few companies, it’s important to be cognizant of what each company sells and whether that will conflict with something another company you represent sells. Say you are an ambassador for two different saddle pad companies or two different equestrian jewelry companies that sell very similar jewelry, how will that look to your audience? Note, those hypothetical scenarios are 100% created by me, the author of this post, and were not brought up to me by any of the individuals I interviewed.

The appropriate use of social media

Using social media appropriately is a huge thing for brand ambassadors, especially because social media is so prevalent, and it is one of the main ways brand ambassadors are expected to connect with equestrians and promote the brand.

However, it is important to utilize Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media websites in the right way. Not using social media properly can do more harm than good when representing a brand.

Averill said that brand ambassadors should be conscious of everything they do. She also gave some advice that she gives to her own daughter: “People can never judge you for what you DON’T put on the internet.” You can share with your audience, but be careful of oversharing, especially if those details may portray you, or your brand, negatively.

Being an ambassador is fun, of course, but it should also be treated like a real job!

“That company spent time and money on you, as well as chose you over other applicants.  Respect them enough to keep your social media on point and drama free,” Kristy said. “If you can’t or find that you don’t want to keep your social media rated G, then step down and let someone else have a shot.  I would personally have no hard feelings if that happened to me with an Ogilvy (ambassador) – it is a mature decision and I would respect it.”

Seamlessly integrating the brand’s values and products into one’s everyday equestrian life is key to good social media use. Don’t make your promotion of the brand tacky or annoying.

“I find the most effective and enticing posts are the ones where brand ambassadors integrate our products and values into their daily lives, through pictures and posts,” Megan said. “Also through sharing our posts about new products, sales or promotions is also a great way to use their social media as ambassadors!”

Alexa thinks that being positive is number one for utilizing the internet as a brand ambassador.

“Nobody likes people who are mean over social media,” she said.

And, of course, if you do partake in a negative post or online drama, you should never promote your brand shortly after doing so. Not only will your negativity and drama be associated with the brand, but you run the risk of turning people off from a brand you’re supposed to be representing! When a company takes you on as an ambassador, they are not expecting that choice to hurt them in the long run. Be respectful towards others and know that everyone can see what you do on the internet – unless your social media is private, though even then, all it takes is a screenshot.

Applying for an ambassadorship

We know you want to know how to become a brand ambassador for some of these great companies!

My Barn Child: Anyone interested in becoming a Featured Rider for My Barn Child can email Averill at mybarnchild@gmail.com. However, My Barn Child is not looking to add Featured Riders to their team during this season and will be looking primarily in the spring. Also be sure to check out My Barn Child’s Instagram account for its Featured Riders.

Ogilvy Equestrian: Ogilvy will not be taking applications for social media ambassadors at this time. Kristy will be approaching individuals she thinks will best represent the brand herself. However, Ogilvy will be starting a “Street Team,” which Kristy described as a “tight group of exceptional equestrian competitors in North America.” The Team will be chosen based on skill and a few other qualities. If you are interested in becoming a social media ambassador or a member of the Street Team, you can send a full riders resume, show schedule, 2014 overview, 2015 tentative schedule and goals, high quality photos, and links to any social media to ogilvymarketing@gmail.com. If you have references, you can also include those in your email to Kristy.

EcoLicious Equestrian: Those interested in becoming a brand ambassador for EcoLicious Equestrian should keep in touch with their social media page. The company will be adding more ambassadors in the spring. They will also be looking for ambassadors this winter at WEF and HITS.

Tack Shoppe of Collingwood: Those interested in becoming an ambassador for the Tack Shoppe of Collingwood should contact them through email at tackshoppecollingwood@gmail.com or through their social media pages. They will also be making a public announcement when they are looking for more ambassadors to add to their team.

Equestri Lifestyle: They are not currently accepting any applications for ambassadors but plan on doing so next year.

There are some other great companies that offer ambassadorships as well, including: