Support a fellow equestrian on her quest to get to Europe

Hi everyone,

As some of you may be aware, a fellow equestrian, Brittni Raflowitz, has been selected to go on the USEF 2016 Show Jumping Development Tour which is in Europe. For those of you fortunate enough to have shown in Europe, you may know how expensive it is – transportation, lodging, caring for the horses, etc. While USEF does give $15,000 to the riders selected, they are left to foot the rest of the bill themselves.

Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

Brittni has started a GoFundMe to help raise money for her to be able to get to Europe and participate in the tour. While she is splitting the cost with a fellow rider who has also been chosen, she is still in need of funds in order to participate.

While I know GoFundMe accounts for horseback riding expenses are a touchy subject for some, with equestrians falling on both sides of the coin, I got the pleasure of not just speaking with Brittni this afternoon, but also hearing some opinions about her from others in the equestrian world. I have heard nothing but positive things about what a hard worker she is and how she deserves to represent the United States on this tour.

According to an article on NoelleFloyd.com, “…she’s no trust fund child, and has worked to establish herself and her horses. Now she faces a potentially career-changing journey—with a $50,000 price tag.”

Brittni wrote a heartfelt letter on her GoFundMe beginning with this:

This letter is very difficult for me to write as I have never taken nor asked for any handouts.  I have had the great honor bestowed on me as being named to the US Senior Nations Cup Team to take place in Europe this summer.  I am now beginning to raise funds to make my dreams come true.

While some of you may fall on the side of the coin that thinks these types of fundraising efforts are taboo for the equestrian world (and we are all entitled to our own opinion), I believe that instead of tearing other equestrians down for trying to pursue their dreams, we should be supporting them. Brittni is not your typical rich kid that has had everything handed to her and is now asking for money from strangers to get even more handed to her. She has worked hard to establish herself in this business, and she is a genuine, kind soul about which I, personally, have never heard anything negative.

If you can in any way support Brittni’s campaign, whether it’s with a monetary donation or by sharing her GoFundMe page with your followers, I know she personally will greatly and deeply appreciate it.

To donate and read more about her story, please go here. Any amount will help, and I know if any of you were in her position, you would greatly appreciate the kindness of fellow equestrians, too.

What’s in your meat?

Infographic Courtesy of the ASPCA.

Infographic Courtesy of the ASPCA.

Every year about 130,000 American horses are shipped to Canada or Mexico to be slaughtered for human consumption. Horses are also slaughtered for human consumption in other countries, as horse meat is considered a delicacy there. While some areas, such as the European Union, have a specific regulatory system set in place to ensure that horses with dangerous, deadly substances in their body are not allowed to enter the food chain, other countries, like the United States, do not. This means that the horses being slaughtered in Canada and Mexico have dangerous, potentially lethal or terminal illness causing substances in them, like the ever famous Bute.

The ASPCA recently launched a new campaign, #NotWhatIOrdered, to bring awareness to this issue. Obviously, horse slaughter is a controversial subject, with some falling on the line of it being better than having abused and neglected horses overcrowding auctions and being set into the wild where they cannot fend for themselves; others believe horse slaughter is inhumane and that the consumption of horse meat is a complete taboo, akin to eating a cat or a dog.

According to the ASPCA,

Horses are routinely given chemicals toxic to humans, including anabolic steroids, stimulants and cobra venom. These drugs, over 50 of which are prohibited for use in food animals, can cause severe health problems like aplastic anemia, liver cancer and liver disease in humans.

Additionally, there are substances given to horses that can seep into a human’s skin

Infographic Courtesy of the ASPCA.

Infographic Courtesy of the ASPCA.

immediately upon contact and have an horrible outcome, such as hormonal treatments for broodmares that can cause abortions if the person the chemical comes in contact with is pregnant.

The ASPCA has put together a petition to help bolster support for the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which, if passed, would ban the slaughter of American horses and outlaw the transport of horses to Canada and Mexico for that purpose.

If you feel strongly about the transportation of horses to Canada and Mexico for horse slaughter, you can sign the petition here.

And, if you want to bring more awareness to this issue, you can share this post on your social media pages or tweet the follow message: Tweet: Hungry enough to eat a horse? Help the @ASPCA keep horses off the dinner table. Sign the petition: http://ctt.ec/5sN7U+ #NotWhatIOrdered (Click to Tweet).

“There is no ‘I’ in ‘Team'” – A perspective on riding for IEA or IHSA

Written by Katie Stone.

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There is no I in TEAM.“- a quote almost everyone has heard before. Although some may think it does not apply to riders, it does, especially when on a team such as IEA or IHSA. This sport can be all about your individual accomplishments, but being on an IEA or IHSA team allows riders to experience a team atmosphere and enjoy the sport. There is a huge difference in riding and showing your own horse versus competing with a large group of riders and coaches on unfamiliar horses. It is focused more on how well you ride and handle the horse, rather than the horse and rider as total package. 

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Riders can get so caught up on their individual goals and accomplishments that they lose sight of the teamwork that is put into showing and riding for such a team. This past season, my IHSA team earned more points than they have in their 9 years, and because of this we quickly moved up in the ranks and took 3rd place in our region. My IHSA team placing third in our region meant so much more to me than if I had just qualified for regionals.

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When the team does well, we look good, and are respected amongst the university’s student body, professors, and other schools. Every riders individual’s accomplishments help strengthen the team making the team better. When you are on a team, it’s important to help others recognize their strengths and weaknesses because we all have things to work on. Life (and horseback riding) is so much better when everyone works together.  

 

Ecogold: A full review & endorsement

So, every once in a while, we switch equine products. As some of you guys may know, I have been a huge Ogilvy fan for quite some time. In fact, my review of their half pad is what launched me into blogosphere popularity. However, I’ve come to try other half pads since then, namely Ecogold, and I have found them to be a better fit for my horse and myself.

Is Ogilvy a bad pad? No, not at all. It is honestly a personal preference, and as you know, many people say you can either like one or the other. Lately, I’ve been finding myself using Ecogold more and Ogilvy less.

To recap, even though I’ve done many reviews on Ecogold, their pads are:

  • Made of high-resilience foam
  • Non-slip
  • Some are vented, such as the Jumper Flip Half Pad , which also comes in a variety of colors and can be reversed for showing purposes if you don’t want a color look
  • Hypoallergenic
  • 100 percent breathable (super important for hot climates)
  • Washable (makes life easy)
  • Shock absorbent (good for your horse and you)
  • Move impact laterally on the horse’s back to minimize stress (amazing for your horse)
  • Some come with a CoolFit technology to further reduce sweating and heat (it really works)!
  • Comes for a variety of disciplines (this is always a good thing)

I currently own three half pads and two regular pads: the Stabilizer Half Pad, the Jumper Flip Half Pad, the Hunter Half Pad (this seems to be no longer available, but the Stabilizer Half Pad can double as a hunter half pad), and the Hunter CoolFit Pad.

I mainly show in the Hunter CoolFit Pad. It is perfectly contoured and accented with fleece for that classic, traditional look. I school in the Stabilizer or the Jumper Flip. My trainer has also become partial to the Hunter Flip as well.

Additionally, I own a regular saddle pad which boasts all the qualities of the half pads.

I adore the quality of the pads. Additionally, my Jumper Flip Half Pad; heck, all of my pads from Ecogold NEVER seem to get dirty, which is quite a feat considering they are around dirty animals all day.

Additionally, their customer service is amazing. I’ve never once had a problem contacting anyone from Ecogold, and they even offer saddle pads with custom logos!

My horses love these pads, and although they don’t fit every horse I own, they’re pretty damn reliable and easy to use on any horse. I also notice a difference in my own physique when riding (no back pain!), which is a huge plus. I’ve noticed a difference in my horse’s willingness to work under saddle, get round, and overall comfort.

Again, each pad is a personal preference, and I know many people who swear by Ogilvy, EquiFit, or even Invictus. My personal preference? Ecogold.

Check them out on the web here or on their social media!

ps. Their products are endorsed by the likes of Brittni Raflowitz, McLain Ward, Scott Stewart (whom my trainer worked and rode for, for many years), Boyd Martin, Karen O’Connor, and Doug Payne. You can see their whole Pro Team here.

pps. I am in no way endorsed by or sponsored by Ecogold. This is a 100 percent bias free review based on my own experiences and opinions.

What to do when you can’t ride due to an injury

Photo Credit: RateMyHorsePro

I haven’t ridden in approximately 2 months (or is it 3? I’m really not even sure at this point) due to a neck injury and my concussion still healing. I’ve been bored, depressed, upset, anxious, and everything in between. In fact, I had a dream last night that when I returned to riding, I had completely forgotten how to ride!

Not being able to ride, after riding 2 – 3 and sometimes more times a week has taken a toll on me, and I am dying to get back in the saddle. The question is, when you physically can’t ride.. what can you do to quench that horse thirst?

I’ve put together a small list of things that you can try, depending on your injury. They might not replace riding, but at least you’ll get some horse time in.

Spend time with your horse. This can be anything from grooming, to lunging, to bathing, to anything in between – on the ground. Spending time with your horse on the ground will actually help you greatly once you get back in the saddle. You’ll bond with your horse, and you’ll get to know your horse’s quirks even more.

Read horse-related books. Some of my favorites include, Hunter Seat Equitation and Unrelenting by George Morris. There are also a ton of other horse books out there. Just search “horse” or “equine” books on Amazon.

Go to the barn and watching lessons or training rides done by your trainer. This is a great way to learn, even if you are unable to get in the saddle yourself and learn what your trainer has to teach you. Watching professionals ride and school is always a good idea, and watching lessons may give you some insight into some of your own bad habits or show you a new way of doing things you may not have thought of.

Watch videos of riders you look up to, or even yourself. When you’re sidelined from riding, you may feel as though you are losing your riding skills. While this is true, in part, your muscles may weaken – watching videos of yourself riding will help remind you of the progress you were making when you were riding, and it can give you hope that you will get back to that place. Watching videos of your favorite riders is another way of learning. There are tons of riders out there that have a lot to teach, even if you aren’t riding directly with them.

Offer to do barn work for your barn or another barn. Of course, this is only if you can, and another thing to remember is that if you are an Amateur, be careful what work you are doing and whether you are receiving remuneration for it as this could launch you into the professional world when you can’t even ride. Doing barn work, anywhere, is another good way to bond with horses and get that horse fix you’re looking for, even though you can’t be in the saddle.

Attend shows your barn is attending and help out where you can. This is another good way of getting your horsey fix. Watching your barn’s other riders go around is, again, another good way of learning. You’ll be on the sidelines listening to your trainer’s commentary, and you can take notes for when you get back into the show ring (if you show). You’ll also probably find inspiration in the success of your fellow riders. Finally, helping out where and when you can will help you feel useful and also improve your bond with the horses at your barn as well as your barn management skills – something always good to have as we should be horseman, not just riders.

The most important thing to remember is that injuries take time to heal. Don’t push yourself, and only do what you are able to do. You don’t want to prolong your time out of the saddle because you exacerbated your injury, no matter how badly you want to be riding right now. Horses will always be there; your health won’t be.