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!

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:

Staying Cool When It’s Hot: 10 Summer Riding Tips

Currently, it is 93 degrees outside with a heat index of 102. The humidity is 54%. What does all of this mean? In one word: Disgusting. In a few words: It feels like a sauna outside.

Thankfully, it isn’t this hot everyday – otherwise I would never be able to ride! Nonetheless, here are some tips you can use to keep you and your horse cool on a hot summer day.

1. Wear light-colored riding apparel: Dark colors absorb sunlight more easily than light colors. Light colors will reflect the sunlight and keep you cooler. You can also keep this in mind for your horse. If the sun is beating down, and it’s hot, you might want to go for the lighter color saddle pad rather than the dark one.

Ogilvy Memory Foam Jumper Half Pad & Ogilvy Baby Pad.

Ogilvy Memory Foam Jumper Half Pad & Ogilvy Baby Pad.

2. Invest in some baby pads: If you use a half pad while riding, you may want to invest in some baby pads to put under the half pad. Baby pads are just like saddle pads except they are made of lighter material and thus will keep your horse’s back cooler when riding. If you do not use a half pad, then you should not use a baby pad with just your saddle. While baby pads are thinner, lighter, and cooler, they do not provide cushioning when used by themselves, so you will end up making your horse more uncomfortable. If you use just a saddle pad, I recommend the Lettia CoolMax Saddle Pads or the Ogilvy pads which have moisture wicking fabric on the underside. If you are looking for a good quality baby pad, I of course recommend Ogilvy profile baby pads, which also have moisture wicking fabric on the underside.

SmartLytes Pellets

SmartLytes Pellets

3. Make sure your horses are hydrated: At an absolute minimum, your horse should drink between 5 and 10 gallons of water a day. If your horse is a good drinker – great! If your horse is naturally a poor drinker, you will want to encourage water drinking on hot days (and on cold days too). There are several ways to do this. First, keep your horse’s water supply cool. Most of us don’t like to drink water that has been sitting in the sun, and neither do horses. Second, you can invest in an electrolyte supplement. Electrolytes will not only encourage your horse to drink water but also replace any minerals and electrolytes he or she has lost during exercise and sweating. I personally love SmartLytes by SmartPark. SmartLytes encourage healthy drinking, do not have unhealthy sugars, and mimic the the minerals your horse loses in its sweat. SmartLytes come in pellet or powder form, and you can even create a nice hot weather treat from the powder if you would like!

4. Focus on hydrating yourself too: We all know the importance of hydration for our horses, but oftentimes we don’t think of ourselves. When it is hot and you are engaged in physical activity, it is essential that you stay hydrated. Not drinking enough water can lead to fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and passing out. When full dehydration hits, you can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, as your body is no longer able to cool off. Keep a refillable water bottle with you throughout the day and make sure you drink before, during, and after you are riding or doing barn work. If you don’t like water, you can put some lemon or lime in it to make it tastier and more appealing. Sports drinks can help replace lost minerals and electrolytes too, but make sure you choose a drink that does not have a lot of sugar content. Additionally, don’t confuse energy drinks with sports drinks. A drink with too much caffeine can actually hurt you in the heat more than it will help you.

5. Alter your riding time: During the summer, it might be a good idea to choose a different time to ride on hot days, if possible. For example, riding in the early morning or in the evening is more desirable than riding at noon when the sun is at its highest and strongest in the sky. If you are going to be doing heavy work or jumping, early morning lessons are much better and healthier for you and your horse.

6. Give your horse a bath: A cool bath after a ride can feel amazing to your horse. After riding, hose or sponge your horse off while scraping him off with a sweat scraper. Keep doing this until the water that is coming off of your horse is a normal temperature. Bathing your horse and letting him get hot while he is wet can actually be more uncomfortable than when he is dry and hot. Additionally, after bathing, walk your horse or graze him until he is dry. Putting him back in his stall while wet can cause him to overheat because of the confined space and already hot temperatures.

7. Get a stall fan: Stall fans are a great way to keep air circulating while your horse is inside. However, you should research the fan you will be buying and make sure it is appropriate for use in a barn. Using a stall fan can increase the risk of starting a fire if the wrong equipment is used. As an added bonus, increased airflow will decrease flies.

8. Consider night turnout: Some barns will actually turn the horses out at night when temperatures are cooler and bug frequency is lower. This may not be a feasible option for your horse or your barn, so it is important that you talk with your barn manager to see if this would be okay. However, there are some important things to keep in mind for night turnout. You will want to keep an eye on the weather, especially if thunderstorms will be moving through the area. If your horse does not have adequate shelter in his or her pasture, night turnout may not be the best option, especially if there will be storms. Also, night turnout means that horses will be unsupervised outside for a long period of time. If a horse gets hurt or sick, odds are that no one will discover it until the next morning. Finally, night turnout makes it a bit harder to monitor a horse’s vitals. For example, unless you are REALLY good at identifying which manure pile belongs to which horse, and will be willing to walk through the field each morning, you might not know if your horse’s poop has changed or if he or she pooped at all. This may be on the extreme side, but it is something to consider.

9. Wear sunscreen: This is a tip for both horse and rider! We already know that unprotected exposure to the sun can increase our risk of getting skin cancer, but did you know that it is beneficial for horses to wear sunscreen too? This is especially important for horses that have exposed pink skin or white hair. There are even sunscreens made specifically for horses, such as Healthy Haircare Sunscreen. You can also use baby sunscreen. For noses that are extremely pink and vulnerable to sunburn, you can get a fly mask with a nose protector: SmartPak Kensington Fly Mask with Removable Nose.

Le Fash Short Sleeve Show Shirt.

Le Fash Short Sleeve Show Shirt.

10. Buy summer-appropriate riding gear: There are many types of riding gear available for hot weather riding including shirts, breeches, socks, and gloves. My favorite summer weather riding apparel includes: Kerrits Ice-Fil Shirts; Le Fash Show Shirts; Heritage Pro-Flow Summer Show Gloves; Ovation CoolMax Zocks. Vented helmets are also available, like the GPA or Samshield. The Charles Owen AYR8 is also vented.

Spotlight on… Dani S

We have a brand new Spotlight On… today! Some of you may know Dani from Twitter as @perfEqtionn (and her Twitter handle isn’t far from the truth!) She is also a My Barn Child ambassador, an EcoLicious Equestrian ambassador, and runs her own blog!

Dani & her horse, Celebrity.

Dani & her horse, Celebrity.

To start, we asked Dani to tell us a little about herself, and here is what she had to say:

“I’m not really good about telling people about myself, so bare with me! I ride horses (no duh) and I live in Southern California! I’ve lived in California my whole life (17 years). I am an avid concertgoer, I’ve seen over 100 people live! I am also an adrenaline junkie; I love cliff-jumping, roller coaster, anything crazy. I want to go skydiving when I turn 18. I love going to the beach in my free time, it’s my favorite place in the world (besides the barn). I hope one day to travel the world! I really want to go to Greece, Italy, and Antigua! I am a junior in high school (cries). I also drive a Jetta! I’m a very sarcastic person, but I can be very serious when I want to be. My favorite color is purple, my favorite flower is a tiger lily, and I have too many favorite songs to narrow it down to one.”

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, how did Dani get into riding?

“My mom works at the wedding venue that is located on the property of the barn I ride at,” she said. “She always brought me to work with her. I would run away and go watch lessons. My trainer, Michelle, talked to my mom about getting me started, but my mom said I had to wait until I turned 5.”

Like any horse girl, Dani was itching to get riding, so she managed to get herself on a pony name Patches when she was 4. She’s been riding ever since.

While Dani does a lot of jumper competition right now on her horse Celebrity, she is versatile and can go in all three rings. However, she does love the jumpers more than equitation and hunters.

“I love that you get to go fast and take tight turns, but you can’t go too crazy! I think each discipline is tough in their own way but jumpers challenges me more. I have to think about each track very carefully, looking for places to save time, but also keeping my horse in mind. I have to know both Celebrity’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as my own. For instance, Celebrity has a sticky right turn so if there’s one in my course, I have to find a track that will help me execute my turn. I can make up for lost time with his humongous step though. But jumpers is by far my favorite,” she said.

Celebrity.

Celebrity.

Celebrity, who was bred for the jumpers, is a 9 year old bay warmblood. Celebrity’s sire is Sandstone Conway, and his dam was the youngest horse to ever be in the Olympics (at age 7)! Her name is Sandstone Dorina.

According to Dani, Celebrity is a bit quirky, and he is a complete difference from the horse Dani was riding when she first began riding Celebrity.

“When I first started riding him in 2013 I was riding my mare, Summer, as well. Summer was a project horse of mine that I trained to be a push button horse for someone looking to do hunters, jumpers, and eq up to 3’3,” Dani said. “Towards the end of riding Summer I was told to just sit there and let her do the work, making her think for her self, easy for me.. until I had to lesson Celebrity in the next lesson.”

Dani describes Summer and Celebrity as polar opposites. The challenge helped her mature as a rider, and she is super in tune with Celebrity’s needs when they are working as a team. For example, Celebrity is scared of other horses in the ring, so Dani has to be hyperaware of her surroundings when she is in a lesson.

“I’m always on the lookout for him. I am his protector,” she said. “He has a huge heart and loves to jump.”

Dani has only been with Celebrity for about 13 months, but she says they have taught each other a lot, including trust, patience, teamwork, focus, grace, and unconditional love – to name a few.

“I couldn’t ask for a better horse to ride,” she said.

Dani & Celebrity.

Dani & Celebrity.

This year, Dani hopes to continue showing in the 1.10m Children’s jumpers. She especially hopes to qualify for the USHJA Children’s Jumper Finals (which we have NO doubt she will).

Nowadays, a lot of riders are working with equestrian or horse-related companies whether as brand or social media ambassadors or as sponsored riders. Dani is lucky enough to be an ambassador for both My Barn Child and EcoLicious Equestrian (two companies everyone should check out if you haven’t already!)

Being a brand ambassador is a huge thing on every serious rider’s list. Dani gave some advice to those who are itching to become the next EcoLicious or Ogilvy ambassador:

“Research the company before you apply to be an ambassador, just know what you’re agreeing to,” she said. “Also, be yourself! Don’t lie just so you get the ambassadorship. Be genuine and truly love the products you are supporting.”

So what are Dani’s must have equestrian items? Lucky for you, we got a list!

When asked if she looks up to any other riders, Dani has a few, including one she used to ride with when she was younger, Kilian McGrath.

Kilian McGrath. Photo Courtesy of ProEquest.com.

“She is an amazing rider and proves to everyone that hard work pays off! She works her butt off everyday to get to where she is today. She proved to everyone that talent and hard work surpasses how far money can get you. Kilian won gold at Young Riders in 2012!”

Dani also looks up to her trainer’s daughter, Beezie Madden, and Ashley Bond.

Dani experiences anxiety about showing just like many of us, but to combat it, she says affirmations and thinks positively. She also has a lot of trust in her trainer, who she believes would not have moved her up if she wasn’t able to be successful in that particular class.

Manny – er Dani – says her biggest weakness is her shoulders.

“My trainer calls me “Manny” instead of “Dani” my shoulders are so bad! It’s been an on going problem of mine! My trainer always says I have man shoulders! Sometimes I just forget to work on them and put them back because I’m so busy focusing on Celebrity!”

Like many other riders who have a presence on social media, Dani has experienced social media hate. It’s unfortunately a HUGE part of being a big social media presence on the internet nowadays. To deal with negativity, Dani did a few things:

“I responded to it at first, but soon realized that resounding was pointless. I let them send me hate and I just wouldn’t respond, why add fuel to the fire? I changed my ask settings so people can’t ask me questions anonymously, the hate stopped immediately!” She said. “People like to make themselves feel better by bashing others. I see a lot of people, Georgie, Kendra, and other big name riders, getting hate, it’s horrible and a lot is untrue! I just keep in mind that if I wasn’t able to ride successfully in the classes I am in, my trainer wouldn’t put me in them! So forget the haters!”

With all of the riding and showing, how does Dani have time to do anything else?

“It’s a hard task balancing horses and school but I have learned to manage my time. I have a study hall in my schedule at school that I use to work on homework. I also use all the free time in class to finish my work. My teachers know how dedicated I am to horses, so when I do show, I talk to them and we work out a schedule for the work I am going to miss,” she said. “I do bring my schoolwork to shows and I will work on it when there is time available. But between study hall, free time in class, and an hour at home before the barn, I am able to manage riding and school.”

Dani & her team for the costume class. They won first place!

Dani & her team in a Flintridge costume class. They won first place!

And, when she isn’t riding, studying, or at school, she LOVES going to the beach, which isn’t too far from her home in California.

As a junior, Dani is starting to prepare for college. Some riders we’ve spoken to don’t want to pursue riding as a profession after they age out, and others hope to become professional big names in this sport. So what does Dani have in mind?

“I really want to ride in college! I am currently working with Michelle Morris, who rode on University of Georgia’s equestrian team, putting together my video to send to schools! I am hoping to ride on a NCAA team but some of the schools I really want to go to are IHSA!” She said. “I would love to ride professionally but we will see where I end up! As for now, I am just focusing on my current show year and getting into college!”

Ultimately, Dani hopes to be a successful rider that takes the typical riding stereotype (a ton of money with the nicest of everything) and turns it upside down.

“You could say I’m the underdog in this sport. My family isn’t rich, I don’t have the nicest clothes, cars, houses, horses, etc. I don’t get to show that often either,” she said. “I make do with what I have, and I work hard everyday so I can one day prove that I belong in this sport. My goal is to be the rider that little girls and boys look up to. I want them to know that you CAN be SUCCESSFUL and GREAT without having a ton of money.”

Overall, Dani wants riding to be about working hard, having fun, and being herself.

“I work hard everyday and without hard work I wouldn’t be where I am today. I remember to have fun because riding horses shouldn’t be a grueling job, just have fun and do your thing!”

Want to see more of Dani & Celebrity?

Dani & Celebrity showing off their blue ribbon.

Dani & Celebrity showing off their blue ribbon.

Find her on her social media accounts!

She also will be updating her blog more frequently once school is out for the summer. Her blog is on our favorite links to the right of this post and linked above!

Know an up & coming rider that you think should be featured on our blog? Let me know in the comments below, find me on Twitter, or shoot me an email (jess@thelegalequestrian.com)!

SmartPak Haul!

As most of you know, I am graduating law school later this month, and my parents have gotten me quite a few things as graduation presents. One of those things was originally going to be a GPA Speed Air. I tried it on a few days ago, and the helmet did not fit my head right. I tried several different sizes with my hair up and down. With the GPA helmet out of the running, I decided I would just get a bunch of stuff from my favorite tack stores. I am still waiting on a few things, including a brand new Ogilvy half pad cover (yes, I’m addicted), but my SmartPak order came in today!

SmartPak Items

SmartPak Items

Clockwise from top left: Bradley Performance Short Sleeve Show Shirt in white with blue lining; SmartPak Piper Breeches in black with white lining; Back On Track hock boots; Kerrits Ice Fil Mesh Tank in coral; Ariat Prix Sleeveless Polo in cherry; Heritage Pro-Flow Summer Show Gloves; Tailored Sportsman Full Monty Belt in orange.

I also got a pair of EquiFit T-Boots for my green bean who LOVES to jump and will be doing the jumpers this summer to start off his show career! They are not pictured because I tried them on him this evening to make sure they fit.

If you do not already own a pair of Piper breeches, you must get them. They are amazingly comfortable, fit well, and are very durable. They also come in all sorts of awesome color combinations. I own several pairs of Piper breeches including the maroon ones, the emerald ones, the coral ones, and now the black ones. They run a little big, so if you are in between sizes, I would size up. I’m the smallest size available, and they are still a bit large on me, but just in the leg area. It’s not so much that I can’t wear them or that it’s noticeable.

I also own the Kerrits Ice Fil Mesh Tank but in purple. It actually does keep me cool in the summer. The cool technology does not get lost once it is washed either. I usually let the shirt air dry. I really love the coral color! I like to ride in sleeveless shirts when it gets super hot. I am very sensitive to the heat, so tank tops work best for me when it gets really hot. I also hate having a farmer’s tan. Along with the Kerrits tank, I own the Ariat Prix Sleeveless Polo in navy, so I got another one except in the cherry color.

I got the Back On Track hock boots for my lease horse who has some arthritis in his hocks. He requires hock injections every 6 months if he is not on a joint supplement. I currently have him on SmartFlex III, but I will be using the hock boots as a special treat, especially after jumping lessons. I also already own the Back On Track back pad, which has been AMAZING for his sore back. He really loves the Back On Track products!

If you are interested in any of the items in my haul, they can be found below:

Ogilvy Half Pad Review #2: L & His Love for Ogilvy.

If you haven’t read Part I of my Ogilvy review, please do so now. If you want a quick synopsis, Ogilvy is amazing, and you should buy one ASAP.

I recently began leasing a new horse. For privacy reasons, I will refer to him only as L. L is a 16.3 hh Trakehner/TB. L came to me with a very sore back and needed some major conditioning as he had not been in regular work for a while. For the first couple of weeks, he was very reluctant to use his top line. He would throw a major protest when he was asked to go in a frame, and he loved to go around with his head up in the air. He is also extremely girthy and throws a major drama fit when he sees me or my trainer coming with saddle pads or the saddle. I am talking major – like biting the air, shaking his head, swishing his tail, pinning his ears fit.

Note: L was fully vetted by my veterinarian before I committed to leasing him. She stated that his back soreness was probably due to poor saddle fit over the years and that proper conditioning and riding would help him get back into shape. I did all my homework to make sure that he would have everything he needed while I leased him. My trainer and I worked with my vet to put a plan into place to help his soreness. Along with being ridden properly and having a properly fitting saddle and equipment, he is on a joint supplement and a digestive supplement – all of which were recommended by our vet.

L's first week at my barn.

L’s first week at my barn.

Right off the bat, my saddle was not a good fit for L. My saddle was tailored to my greenie, who needed a wide tree. L does not need a wide tree, but since I only have one saddle, I knew immediately I would be using my Ogilvy memory foam jumper half pad to help the saddle conform better to L’s back.

When we first tried my saddle on L, without the pad, it was an awful fit. However, when I showed my trainer the saddle with the half pad, she commented on how “amazing” the pad was because it completely changed the fit of the saddle. It no longer looked too wide, and it conformed in all the right places. I also mentioned to my saddle fitter that I would be using the Ogilvy pad with the saddle, and she commented on how awesome the pads were.

My saddle with the Ogilvy jumper half pad.

Everytime I ride L, he goes in the Ogilvy half pad and in the Ogilvy baby pad I bought to go with it. It has now been two months since we have been working with L, and I have noticed a lot of changes.

First, L no longer puts his ears back and throws a drama fit when I bring the saddle pad and saddle over. I am dead serious. I noticed this the other day. For the first few weeks, when I brought the saddle pad and the saddle over, he would pin his ears and start shaking his head and swishing his tail. The other day, I noticed that he was calm when I brought the half pad and saddle pad over. He remained calm when I brought the saddle over, and he did not throw a fit when I put everything on him. The only time he gets upset is when I do the girth (Ogilvy memory foam girth anyone?) I think his reaction to saddling now versus how it was when he first came is HUGE. And I really do believe that it has everything to do with the Ogilvy half pad. I think that because of the pad he no longer associates being saddled with his back hurting. He seems to be much more comfortable. His demeanor when being saddled is one part of that.

Second, his muscling and conditioning have dramatically improved. I actually sent a photo of him to my vet, who sadly moved away shortly after she performed the pre-lease exam on him (Side note: HUGE win for Illinois equines – Jersey’s loss was your gain), and she said he looked great! A lot of hard work went into getting him conditioned, and he is much more willing to use his topline and look “fancy.” Before you look at the next photo, scroll back up and look at the photo of him during his first week with me. Now scroll down.

L a week ago.

L after 1.5 months with me.

I personally think he looks fantastic, but I may be a bit biased 😉 And this is only after a month and a half of working with him!

Third, he no longer protests when I do the sitting trot, which I think is because the memory foam helps keep his back comfortable.. He takes shape willingly at the walk, trot, and canter. He loves being in work, and he definitely uses his back – I can feel it when I’m riding. He is happy and loves being ridden!

I am lucky enough that my parents will be buying me another saddle for my graduation from law school. While this saddle will fit L’s back a bit better (it will be a medium tree, as recommended by the saddle fitter at Beval), I will still be using my Ogilvy pad. Several people, including my vet, told me that based on L’s conformation, I probably would never find a saddle that would 100% fit L’s back. Thankfully, I have this pad to help ease any pressure points on L caused by a saddle that isn’t completely made for his back. I know that has made all the difference in his soreness and in his attitude.

So, if you couldn’t already tell, I LOVE my Ogilvy Memory Foam Half Pad. I highly recommend it for everyone. It not only has helped my horses, but it also has drastically improved my back soreness. I am no longer sore in my back after I ride, no matter what type of lesson I’ve had. I am able to use my saddle on a variety of different horses, even though my saddle is really made for horses that need wide trees. It prevents slipping back and wiggling back and forth. It comes in awesome colors for the jumpers and eventing, as well as conservative colors for hunters, equitation, and dressage. It also comes in several fits including jumper, hunter, and dressage. I originally purchased my pad with a white cover so it was show appropriate. However, I recently purchased a custom half pad cover so that I could add some flair while I ride. I also got a baby pad in matching colors.

Ogilvy Memory Foam Jumper Half Pad & Ogilvy Baby Pad.

Ogilvy Memory Foam Jumper Half Pad & Ogilvy Baby Pad.

The half pad covers can be purchased for $125. They are not yet available on the website, but you can order one by emailing Kristy at sales@ogilvyequestrian.com. You can also contact her on Twitter – she’s super nice and amazing!

I will recommend this pad to anyone over any of the other half pads on the market today. It seriously works. No BS sale tactics. I have seen results from it in every single one of the horses I ride, and it has improved my back soreness after I ride. I can’t wait to see how L improves as I keep working with him.

L modeling his new Ogilvy jumper half pad cover & Ogilvy baby pad.

L modeling his new Ogilvy jumper half pad cover & Ogilvy baby pad.

So, if you haven’t bought an Ogilvy yet or even looked at their products, what are you waiting for? Ogilvy products are also now available at SmartPak, but if you want awesome colors, I would order directly from Ogilvy!

L & I jumping.

L & I jumping.

Happy riding!

Disclaimer: I am in no way, shape, or form, paid, sponsored, or endorsed by Ogilvy in any way. This review is 100% truthful and based on my own experiences.

A look inside my wishlist…

I’ve got a few items on my list that I would love to have right about now (who doesn’t?) My list tends to change based on my or my horses’ needs, equestrian trends, and my mood. That being said, here are a few things I would like…

Butet Natural Saddle. Photo Credit to Beval.com

1. New medium tree saddle: My two boys are very wide, so my wide tree Butet fits them perfectly. However, I would love a medium tree Butet, or if I have to bring myself down in price range, I’ve been seriously considering the Butet Natural saddle. I haven’t sat in it yet to see how comfortable it is, and to be honest, nothing can beat the love at first sight I (and my butt) had when I sat in the Butet, but it’s worth a look. But really.. let’s hope my parents will get me another Butet for graduation.

Tailored Sportsman Quilted Clarino Belt in Dusty Blue. Photo credit to DoverSaddlery.com

2. Tailored Sportsman Quilted Clarino Belt: I am in love with this belt especially because it comes in all sorts of colors. I also just recently got the spring Dover Saddlery catalog, and their Tailored Sportsman section was torture. They matched the dusty blue color with a color shade of TS breeches that I currently own, so obviously I had to have the belt too. Plus, I love anything blue.

SmartPak Piper Knee Patch Breeches in Navy/Emerald. Photo credit to SmartPakEquine.com

3. SmartPak Navy/Emerald Piper Breeches: I already own a pair of these in the Merlot color, but they recently came out with several new colors that I adore. However, if I had to pick just one, it would be the navy/emerald. I can’t explain it – I just love this color combination! Plus, I think they would look amazing with my tall boots.

LuvInspired Infinite Luck Equestrian Ring. Photo credit to LuvInspired.com

4. LuvInspired Infinite Luck Equestrian Ring: If y’all haven’t checked out LuvInspired yet, you must go there now. Their jewelry is equestrian-themed, classy, and beautiful. I personally love this ring. I am super excited they offer it in rose gold because that is my favorite jewelry metal right now. I have a few equestrian related pieces of jewelry, but this one is super unique. Plus, LuvInspired is all about positivity and making women feel beautiful no matter what, which is a really important message, especially in this day and age.

GPA Speed Air Helmet. Photo credit to DoverSaddlery.com

5. GPA Speed Air / Samshield Helmet: So I confess I actually cannot figure out what helmet I want. I have polled my Twitter followers, and I’ve gotten mixed answers (though majority of people did say Samshield). Both of these helmets are very trendy right now. I personally love that the Speed Air is vented, which would really help during hot summers. I own a Charles Own AYR8 right now, which I love, but everyone could use a change now and then, right?

Ashlee Bond Clarke matches her nails to her Ogilvy. Photo Credit to OgilvyEquestrian on Instagram.

Ashlee Bond Clarke matches her nails to her Ogilvy.
Photo Credit to OgilvyEquestrian on Instagram.

6. Grey Ogilvy Jumper Half Pad with Turquoise Piping: So.. I literally just ordered a half pad cover for my current half pad, and there’s already another color combination I’d like. I actually forgot about this combination when I was ordering my cover, but that’s okay – I’ll just have to order another one soon! I’ve seen this color combination on Ogilvy’s Instagram, but I love, love, LOVE the above photo from Ashlee Bond Clarke (who also just happened to win the AIG $1 million Grand Prix last night). I mean, seriously, how could you not want that pad after how stylish Ashlee Bond Clarke just made it?! Also, for those of you thinking it, yeah.. I have an Ogilvy addiction.

Le Fash Navy & Plaid Show Shirt. Photo Credit to Twitter.com/LeFashNY

Le Fash Navy & Plaid Show Shirt.
Photo Credit to Twitter.com/LeFashNY

7. Navy & Plaid Le Fash NY Show Shirt: I love this color combination, and I am hoping to get my hands on one as soon as Le Fash posts it on their website. It was also worn by Lauren Mahoney in a Horse Junkies United interview with Arianna Vastino, who is the founder of Le Fash. Le Fash show shirts in general are a great investment, and I have heard they hold up well, are super soft, and are of great quality. They also will be selling short sleeve show shirts sometime this spring!