Miss Shield: This is probably the NUMBER ONE trend for 2017. The Miss Shield is Samshield’s version of the GPA First Lady. In my opinion, it fits better; is more comfortable; and has less break-in time. The Miss Shield comes in Premium or ShadowMatt versions and is fully customizable. I totally splurged on mine and got rose gold trim & blazon. It cost me a pretty penny, but it was so freakin’ pretty that even my non-horsey mom dropped her jaw when she saw it. I love riding in this helmet. It fit me comfortably from day one, and it didn’t give me that typically head-squeeze feeling you normally get from new helmets. The brim is wide but not too wide. It is also line with a leather piece, adding an extra accent. I purchased mine from EquestriLifeStyle. SmartPak and other retailers now carry it. You can customize what you want here to get an idea of what your helmet will look like, as well as price.. Just a warning, it is SUPER shiny just with the trim & blazon so for those of you that want the Swarowski crystals – be forewarned!
- Grey Parlantis: I have not seen these around at all, but I had quite a few followers tell me that a lot of equestrians at their barn own them. I personally don’t care for Parlantis, but maybe I would consider them a. in another brand and b. depending on the shade of grey. I’ve also seen grey tack as well. This isn’t really a trend for me, but it is something popular right now. These were actually super hard to find at a retailer, and this was the only place I could find them for purchase.
- Rose gold: See item 1.
- Brown apparel/helmet: Brown has been trending for a few years now, especially in the pony hunter ring with brown paddock boots and brown helmets. However, I’ve seen brown pop up more and more in the dressage ring, the jumper ring, and in schooling tall boots for any discipline.
- Hunter green coats: Again, this is another trend that has been making a comeback for some time –
brought on by Lillie Keenan. I personally am a huge fan of hunter green show coats. My next show coat is going to be hunter green, and I own a Charles Ancona training jacket in hunter green as well. This color is traditional yet still stands out in the show ring and gets the rider noticed.
- Tall boots with “untraditional” tops: Many equestrians, even hunters, have been getting tall boots that have “untraditional” trim at the tops, such as
crocodile/alligator, snake skin, or the like. It adds a little pop and unique-ness to one’s boot, but it isn’t SO crazy that a judge would dock points in the hunter or equitation ring… unless they had like, laser vision. I have not seen it make a huge appearance in the equitation ring, but it definitely has shown up in the hunter ring and lets a rider add a personal touch to their riding boot.
- “Tech” show jackets: Jackets that are made of more technical fabric are making a big scene in the hunter, jumper, equitation, dressage, etc. ring. They’re easier to wash, less heavy, softer, less hot in the summer, and overall have a cleaner, sleeker look. Some are not a fan of the “tech” fabric jackets, but I happen to really like them, ESPECIALLY when showing on a very hot, humid day. These jackets tend to be more flattering, softer, easier to wash, and less thick than the traditional wool-based jackets of the past. If you can find a technical fabric jacket that you like, that fits you well, and that is acceptable for your discipline, I would get it. Charles Ancona is a great brand to try for tech fabric and a flattering fit.
- Big visors on helmets a la First Lady/Miss Shield/Samshield Premium visor: Much like the Miss Shield’s big visor, these size visors are starting to make a huge appearance in the show ring. GPA
started it off with their First Lady model, which had a wider brim and was designed for a woman’s face. Samshield followed suit with it’s clip-on visitor for its Premium model (I have a black one for my helmet. I love it. It’s easy to put on, and it doesn’t come off easily, if at all).
- Rust colored breeches: Rust colored breeches were once a huge thing in the past. They are making a comeback; maybe not in the show ring, but I’ve seen A LOT of equestrians schooling in them. My favorite rust-colored breech is the NoHo City Breech by Le Fash. It’s a bit more brown than the traditional rust color, but I love the color of it. Le Fash also just released a more rust-colored breech for their spring line. It’s still on pre-order mode, but it is the Times Square breech and comes with tan or black knee patches. Tailored Sportsman makes a true rust colored breech, and I am sure other brands do as well.
- Denim breeches: Denim breeches are not REALLY denim, but the fabric pattern will make you look twice. In my experience, though, not all denim-like breeches are made alike. The first pair I owned, I ended up selling because they were too stiff and not comfortable. Le Fash also makes denim-pattern breeches. I find theirs to be much more comfortable, but that’s my personal preference. Currently, I have my eye on the Williamsburg City Breech, a new addition to their breech line this season. They also made the
Downtown City Breech two seasons ago, which was light denim, and the Uptown denim City Breech, which is a darker print. The Uptown & Downtown, I believe, came in a knee patch and full seat version. Additionally, last year they release the Flat Iron City Breech which is black but has a denim print to it. I personally own this one, and I adore it.
I have known Mackenzie Suffy since she was riding her pony, Chip, at an old barn she and I both kept our ponies at. We parted ways, and Mackenzie has since made incredible progress in her riding and is well on her way to success and becoming a big name when it comes to this sport.
Mackenzie was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule of showing in Ocala and doing online school to answer a few questions for the blog.
Mackenzie, now 16, is a junior in high school. She began riding because her mom always rode. Mackenzie considers riding to be a part of her.
“When I was an infant she would put me in front of the saddle and canter around until I fell asleep,” Mackenzie wrote in an email.
While Mackenzie is currently competing in the Big Eq, she started out riding western because that is what her mother rode.
Mackenzie began actively showing on a pony, and then she moved up to Unbelieveable or “Booji,” a 16.2hh, 15 year old KWPN. Mackenzie has owned Booji for almost four years, and he was her pre-children’s horse in 2014. Unfortunately he had a small injury and had to be sent out to be rehabbed. He was leased out last year, but he is now back home in New Jersey, and Mackenzie’s mom rides him while Mackenzie is down in Florida.
To do the Big Eq, Mackenzie’s family imported her current horse, an 18hh, 7 year old Irish Sport Horse named Meitro H or “Metro.” They imported him off a video. Prior to that, Mackenzie had never seen or ridden him in-person.
“My first impression of my horse was him barreling at me because he got loose at the airport.” She said. “Once he was caught I looked at my mom and asked what did we just buy. But ever since he got home he is as quiet as can be.”
Mackenzie normally trains with Brian and Jolene Cash out of West Milford, NJ. However, for her time in Ocala, Mackenzie is training with Robin Fairclough because her trainers couldn’t make te trip to Ocala and Mackenzie was the only one from her barn that wanted to show on the Ocala circuit this winter.
“Ocala has been such a great experience. It has been great in the sun and at the show,” she said. “My horse is enjoying the big green fields and being able to ride outside. We have been placing in the top 4 out of group classes of 30 or more. We recently placed 2 out of 36 in the USEF Hunt Seat Medal to qualify us for the HITS Equitation Championship class during week 10 of Ocala.”
Before beginning the Big Eq, Mackenzie did some 3’ equitation classes with Metro. Prior to her owning him, he had never shown in Ireland, so Mackenzie has been the first rider to show him.
“He has no problem jumping the bigger fences so we practiced at home and eventually went out and showed,” she said. “It was not easy at all at first. He is a big horse and the turns were tight and the courses were way more complicated. But we have adjusted nicely.”
Mackenzie said equitation is an important foundation to have as a rider, which is why she chose to do the Big Eq, rather tan focus on the hunters or jumpers. She also said Metro is not a hunter, but she also does not feel 100 percent comfortable in the jumpers.
“I still have to adjust to going faster and letting my horse go,” she explained.
According to Mackenzie, her biggest strength is her ability to get on a lot of different horses and being able to figure them out quickly. This has served her well when catch riding and also when participating in the College Preparatory Invitational in Florida. Mackenzie had to ride different horses in different classes and won a flat class on one horse and an over fences class on another.
In fact, Mackenzie said she catch rides occasionally.
“I would love to do it [catch ride] more,” she said. “It is fun being able to get on a new horse and show it. It is a cool experience.”
Mackenzie said he biggest weakness is having a “string leg” and on the more energetic horses, it [her leg] doesn’t always work.
While Mackenzie is still a junior rider, she has started looking at colleges, and she would love to attend a college with a riding team. In June, she will be attending a camp at Auburn University with the equestrian team coaches to see what it is like to ride on an NCEA team..
This is Mackenzie’s first year down in Florida, which is why she is showing in Ocala. However, she is aiming to compete at WEF in the future.
One of her biggest riding accomplishments was winning the Marshall and Sterling Finals with Metro in 2016. It was his first time there, and he “really stepped up.” Mackenzie’s second biggest accomplishment was winning CPI Wellington out of over 180 people.
This year, Mackenzie hopes to qualify for the Maclay Finals and for the USEF Hunt Seat Finals. She said she and Metro are still new to the Big Eq, and they need to work on the tests. Their most recent accomplishment is getting the flying change to the counter-canter.
Mackenzie also plans on starting to do the USET Talent Search classes, and she will be doing her first one with open water this weekend.
Aside from riding, which Mackenzie said is all she really does, she likes to hang out with her friends. She is spending two months in Florida. She arrived at the beginning of February and leaves at the end of March. She is currently doing a special program that allows her to attend school while still focusing on showing and riding.
Mackenzie is not currently sponsored by any companies, but she does have these favorite equestrian brands. She answered EquiFit, Voltaire, Baker, Tailored Sportsman, Charles Ancona, and Der Dau.
Mackenzie has this advice for a rider wanting to do the Big Eq.
“Keep working on confidence and your releases. It will all come naturally when you get older if you have a good foundation,” she said.
Finally, we asked her who she would most love to clinic with. Naturally, she picked the king of hunt seat equitation himself, George Morris.
“He has a great sense of technique[,] and I would love to get his input about my riding,” she said.
Many of you may have seen me tweet about spirituality. I’ve written about it before, and if you’re friends with me on Facebook, I post about it quite often.
I have a regular spiritual practice. I was raised Roman Catholic, but as I got older and began to educate myself, I found the Catholic Church’s views to be quite hypocritical and incredibly out of line with my belief system.
I was in limbo for quite some time until I discovered the late Dr. Wayne Dyer when I was in the midst of a severe depression that caused me to have to go on medical leave from college. The first book I read of his was all about synchronicity, which is essentially the theory that there are no coincidences and that everything is working behind the scenes on your behalf.
I recovered from depression and lost touch with my spiritual practice until 2010 when I discovered Gabrielle Bernstein. She was a receiving alcoholic, recovering drug addict, and recovering from being co-dependent in relationships. I picked up her book Spirit Junkie and devoured it along with the guided meditation album that was released with the book (If you haven’t tried meditating, you really should. It has so many health benefits). I also purchased her book Add More Ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide To Happiness.
Gabby’s books radically changed my life, and I started to dedicate myself to my spiritual practice again. Everyone’s spiritual practice is different, and that’s what I like about spirituality. If you don’t want to or like meditating, you don’t have to – it doesn’t mean you’re “bad” at spirituality. You don’t have to do yoga; you don’t have to drink green juice every day or be a strict vegan. All you need is a willingness to see love in every situation, to know that what you see in other’s is a reflection of what’s inside of you, and that we are all one.
Anyway, I have followed Gabby religiously over the years as well as other spiritual influencers like Danielle LaPorte, Gala Darling, who is also my blogging mentor, Mastin Kipp, Kate Northrup, Marie Forleo, Amanda Frances, Tonya Vanderhart, and Amy Fiedler (among others – I’m sure I’m forgetting some other individuals).
One of the biggest things that Gabby, and others, talk about is having an “attitude of gratitude.”
Basically, the more grateful you are, even for the little things in life, the more abundance and joy you will attract into your life. When you recognize all of the blessings you have, you will see even more blessings come your way.
I begin every morning with a specific routine. I’ve started to avoid looking at my phone right when I wake up. Rather, I open my eyes and meditate anywhere from 1 to 7 minutes. I prefer guided meditations, so I use Gabby’s guided meditation albums. She has one for Spirit Junkie, one for her book May Cause Miracles, and another one to go along with Add More Ing to Your Life.
After meditating, which has tons of health benefits regardless of when you do it or for how long, I open up my journal and write down 5 things I am grateful for. You can write down more, of course, but 5 is the minimum you should stick to. They can be small things like “I am grateful for my cozy, soft pillow” or big things like “I am grateful that my parents pay for me to go to college.” Starting the day off in a grateful mindset will allow you to cultivate positivity as you go throughout your day, and as I stated before, the more positive and grateful you are, the more positivity and blessings you’ll attract into your life.
- It improves your physical health by diminishing aches and pains and bestowing and overall feeling of health upon you;
- It improves your psychological health by allowing you to be happier, more empathetic, and more sensitive towards others;
- It reduces aggression;
- It improves your sleep;
- It improves your self-esteem which creates optimal performance – something equestrians would and should be greatly interested in.
- Recognizing what you have in your life to be grateful for reduces your urge to compare yourself to others and allows you to appreciate others’ accomplishments;
- Having a strong gratitude practice improves your mental toughness and resilience and reduces stress
Not only do I write down what I am grateful for in the morning, I write down what I am grateful for a night right before I go to bed. That way, when I am falling asleep, my mind and heart are full of gratitude and thinking of all of the blessings I have which, as mentioned above, allows me to sleep better and longer and wake up in a better mood.
This is just part of my morning routine. I also take time in the morning to write down my goals for the day (and week, if it is a Monday), as well as things I would like to accomplish. However, when I am writing down the things I want to accomplish, I write them as if they have already happened. This allows the Universe to tap into my energy and see that I am open to receiving all of the positive things that are coming my way.
Additionally, I keep a physical planner along with using the calendar on my phone. I have been using Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map Planner since it was first released three years ago. In the planner, every
single day, there is a space to write down what you are grateful for on that particular day, so I get a double dose of my gratitude practice. Danielle only has the weekly edition of her Desire Map Planner left for this year, which you can get here. If you’re more of a daily agenda type person, Danielle usually releases her planners towards December. If you want to get a head start on identifying how you want to feel and how your goals should work towards that, you can invest in her Desire Map book which is all about setting goals and intentions for your life based on how you want to feel, which I think is genius.
I know that this may be a little “woo woo” for some of you – but if you are at all open-minded, I urge you to give some of this a try, even if it’s just practicing being more grateful on a daily basis. You will begin to see major shifts in your mindset and your attitude that you didn’t see before.
Also, if you are interested in reading more of Gabrielle Bernstein’s work, I highly recommend her latest book The Universe Has Your Back. If you’re looking for a good starter book that will help you develop your spiritual practice, Spirit Junkie is definitely the go-to.
ps. I got my notebook from Erin Condren.
by Bryce Richardson, owner of The Long Spot, and writer for The Legal Equestrian.
Some of us are fortunate enough to be born into a family that can sustain the unquenchable thirst to guide majestic, four-legged creatures over courses of jumps.
Most of us are not.
Most of us cannot afford a six-figure (or even a seven-figure) mount. Most of us cannot afford thousands of dollars in training and board on top of the tens of thousands of dollars in costs to compete at the dazzling venues from California to Florida. Most of us cannot justify dropping three pay checks on a hunt coat every year. Most of us cannot fathom jetting off to Europe in pursuit of a shiny, well-bred partner – much less paying to get them home with us.
Most of us are not in that financial position. Most of us have these big unsustainable dreams because we fell victim to the addiction that is horses at a young age, and in turn, we got sucked into a vicious world where it is survival of the richest.
Due to this, many people scrimp and save through their junior career until they reach college where they vow to get a good degree so they can hopefully one day be a happy ammy with a cute hunter they can show a few times a year and spoil to death.
But.. then there are those of us who dream of more. There are those of us that didn’t just catch the horse bug, but let it become our identity. We are the kids that were working students our entire junior career. We are the kids that would ride anything from a fancy warmblood to a barely broke Thoroughbred to a wicked pony. We are the kids with saddle sore scars on our legs from the thousands of hours of no stirrups. We are the kids that braided and groomed our way to the shows. We are the kids that have never known what it means to show up at the barn just for our lessons and classes.
However, I have found myself more and more alone as one of these kids. My tribe has seemed to dwindle to a select few willing to nearly sell their soul to ride one naughty pony or one green hunter.
While my tribe dwindles, I watch an entitled attitude manifest itself amongst those who once were right beside me working until we couldn’t see straight just to get a lesson.
Whether it be via conversation, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram, I am hearing more and more “This isn’t fair” and less and less “I’ll work my way there.”
I see many people complain about so-and-so being able to afford a string of Grand Prix horses and performance hunters and how she doesn’t deserve it. I hear about how because this sport caters to the rich and famous, it’s not fair to the “normal” people at the bottom. I hear people declare they deserve a hand out because they were not born into a wealthy family but have some natural talent.
Well, guess what: Life is not, and never will be fair.
No one is going to hand you a horse and a blank check simply because luck wasn’t on your side when you were born into an average income family that could not keep up with the upper echelons of the equestrian community.
I tell you this as one of these “normal” kids. I am a trainer’s kid. No, not a Big Name Trainer (“BNT”) with a massive barn I stand to inherit one day. I come from a small town trainer who dabbled in the California A Circuit. I grew up with my horses at my house. I grew up mucking, tacking and feeding.
When my mother moved away when I was 13, I became a working student and have been one ever since. I’ve only ever had two horses of my own, a little mutt pony we paid next to nothing for and my jumper. The rest have been catch rides.
When I wanted a jumper, my dad got me an unbroken three year old from an auction, and I broke him myself when I was 11. I took that little unassuming WB/TB from my backyard to the NorCal Prix de Nations team that competed at Spruce Meadows. We took the bronze. I never for a second had that little horse in training because from an early age my dad made it very clear, if I wanted to make it in this sport it was not going to be on his dime, it would be on the sweat of my own back.
I have gone through phases where I get very lucky and have significant financial support, then I go through times, like now, where I have no horse and no money. One thing that has stayed constant no matter who I am riding for is that if someone like myself wants to see the inside of a Grand Prix from the back of a horse, you have no choice but to shut up and work.
No one is going to pity the fool who sits around and complains while they could be working. No one is going to pity the fool that passes up even the opportunity to muck stalls when it could lead to some rides. No one is going to pity the fool who thinks they deserve a handout.
Because this world owes you absolutely nothing and if you want to see the inside of the Grand Prix ring, it will happen a lot faster if you pick up a shovel or a brush with a smile on your face than if you continue to sit there and degrade those more fortunate than yourself.
At the end of the day, even if you find some clueless soul to pity you, do you really want to look back and know you made it to the Grand Prix ring on a pity check rather than your own merit?
I think those of us underdogs that are waking up at dawn and working through dusk are lucky in a different way. We are lucky because once we reach the big ring, we can look back and know every single painful step was taken by our own two aching feet. Every inch of that climb to the top was achieved through our own dedication and determination. No one else came in and paved the road for us with their financial support. We made it every unpaved mile and achieved a success all our own. We are lucky because how many people can actually say that sincerely in this sport?
If you have let this sport make you bitter and cynical enough to believe hard work is not enough, look to the top riders. Many started as grooms and working students and rode catch rides to the big ring. Look at Mavis Spencer whose family told her she would have to pursue a career as a professional on her own merit. Look at Sam Hutton who started in a little yard in England and now rides in the 5* Grand Prix classes and is on the Global Champions Tour.
If you’re going to play this game coming from a modest background, you have to change the rules. You will never level the playing field through your financials so you must compensate through grueling work and an attitude that attracts those with the means to give you a chance.
Neither of those things are possible if you never get up, shut up, and saddle up.
Bryce Richardson is a college student, working student, and catch rider. She grew up a trainer’s kid in California and became a working student at the young age of 13. She has been a groom and working student ever since. Though her family supports her love of riding and her dreams of going pro on the international Grand Prix circuit, she has had to make it on her own merit and work ethic.
Currently, Bryce is catching riding in Southern California. She works hard at a barn in Colorado when she is home with her father. She has a great passion for matching horses with riders. She realized this passion after making her first sale in Europe, where she was working as an intern in Holland, to a rider in the United States this past summer. Bryce hopes to one day own her own international sales barn that helps equestrians find their perfect match.
Bryce also has her own blog that can be found here.