Giveaway with Vestivi Equine!

I am happy to announce that I am hosting a giveaway with Vestivi Equine. Vestivi is an Etsy shop that sells saddle pads, bracelets, charms, and more!

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Logo courtesy of Vestivi Equine.

For this giveaway, we will have a hunter green cooler with black trim. The winner will get to choose their own custom embroidery. The cooler fits horses 14.2hh to over 16hh.

Measurements: 40″ from back of the saddle to the tip of the tail; 34″ drop from the middle; 2″ wide Velcro fastening; and 1″ black polypro webbing.

The winner will also get to choose a Poulaki Mou Charm in their choice of coloring.

Finally, I will be giving away an Ogilvy Equestrian Baby Pad with my logo on it! I don’t have photos of the pads yet as they are still being embroidered, but you can see the embroidery below:

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Clockwise from top: Vestivi Equine Quarter Sheet; Poulaki Mou Charm; Vestivi Equine Quarter Sheet over saddle; The Legal Equestrian logo as seen on Ogilvy Baby Pad. Quarter Sheet & Charm photos courtesy of Vestivi Equine.

This giveaway is worth over $100!

To enter, you must do the following:

1) Sign up for Vestivi Equine’s Mailing List;
2) Follow Vestivi Equine & The Legal Equestrian on Twitter;
3) Follow Vestivi Equine & The Legal Equestrian on Instagram;
4) Follow The Legal Equestrian on Facebook;
5) Tweet about the giveaway to your followers mentioning The Legal Equestrian & Vestivi Equine

All entries will be tracked through Rafflecopter. Please click here to access the giveaway widget!

Good luck to all who enter!

Aleece Jarman on turning pro, training with her parents, and spending as much time as she can with horses

I interviewed Aleece Jarman – a junior rider who just turned pro! Aleece currently competes in the hunters and jumpers and rides out of her family’s farm, Aubrey Hill Equestrian Center, located in Florida.

Aleece & Canto in the high junior jumpers at Conyers. Photo Credit to Flashpoint Photography.

Aleece & Canto in the high junior jumpers at Conyers. Photo Credit to Flashpoint Photography.

Aleece began riding about 14 years ago. When she was younger she also did ballet and gymnastics, but her parents wanted her to choose one sport to invest her time in – she chose riding horses. For most of her life, she has adapted so that she could invest as much time and focus into riding and competing as possible.

“When I was in fifth grade I became homeschooled so I could focus even more on my riding and showing,” she said. “A few years after that I switched to online school so I could complete my work a little bit easier especially when traveling. Now I’m 18 and starting out my first year as a professional. I honestly can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”

Being a professional means a busy day. Typically, Aleece will start schoolwork around 8:15 in the morning. This takes her about 3 to 4 hours. After eating lunch, she begins her rides of the day which are usually a minimum of 3 to 4. After finishing up riding, she and her family eat dinner and watch television together.

Aleece’s parents have played an integral part in her riding. They are not just the owners of where she rides – they’re her trainers too.

Aleece & Levi in the younger small juniors at Devon. Photo Credit to Mollie Bailey and Molly Sorge.

Aleece & Levi in the younger small juniors at Devon. Photo Credit to Mollie Bailey and Molly Sorge.

“Training with them is great!  Not only do we joke around and have a good time but I feel more comfortable being trained by my parents,” she said. “They know me better than anyone so if I’m having trouble with my riding they will know exactly how to explain it so I am able to understand. We don’t fight at all. Our entire family is very respectful when it comes to each other and I definitely think that helps.”

Aleece said she loves having her entire family involved in riding, and she feels it helps to bring them closer together.

“We’re able to share a sport that we love with each other and that’s pretty cool because some families aren’t able to do that,” Aleece said.

Aleece recently became a professional rider, and she was extremely excited about it. She personally loves having new goals and problems to overcome, and she also loves challenges. Although aging out has been a little nerve wracking, she considers it to be a new chapter in her career. She also said that she hasn’t found it difficult to start riding as a professional, even at only 18 years old.

“I have a lot of people around me that are extremely supportive and want me to have as much success as I possibly can,” Aleece said. “I just continue to ride to the best of my ability and work hard to improve my riding every single day.”

Aleece did hunters for most of her life and considers it to be her “main” discipline. However, when she turned 16, she decided to try doing jumper classes because they looked “extremely challenging.” Additionally, the jumper levels go much higher than they do in the hunter ring. She also wanted to expand her knowledge and skill set.

Aleece & Calisto, owned by Ashley Aycox, in the Elite Shows International Derby (Aleece's first!) in Pensacola, Florida. Photo Credit to Nina Lisa.

Aleece & Calisto, owned by Ashley Aycox, in the Elite Shows International Derby (Aleece’s first!) in Pensacola, Florida. Photo Credit to Nina Lisa.

Aleece currently competes in both the hunter and jumper classes on a few different horses. Her personal horse, Cantori (or “Canto”), is a 9 year old Holsteiner. During the end of her junior career, she showed him in the high junior jumpers. As she progresses in her professional career and he in his training and experience, she hopes to show him in welcomes, classics, Mini Prixs, and Grand Prixs. (Note: Aleece recently announced on her Instagram that she will be selling Canto. A horse that she has been riding, named Stevens, will become her personal horse.)

She also shows two other horses, both of which are for sale. Big Promise – or Promise – a 10 year old Dutch Warmblood that she considers to be a “great first jumper.” In fact, he helped Aleece get from the 1.10 meter classes to the 1.35 and 1.40 classes. Additionally, Promise is now ridden by Aleece’s sister who wanted to start doing jumper classes.

Finally, Aleece rides Wanelo – or Nelo – a 6 year old Dutch Warmblood in the pre-greens. He is also a sale horse.

Being able to train horses and ponies is something about which Aleece is extremely proud. She has been doing so since the age of 9 with the help of her parents.

“Putting all of that hard work and time into a horse or pony and then winning a big class or even qualifying for a big show means more than words can describe,” she said.

With all the success that Aleece has experienced, I wondered whether she ever felt the pressure to be ‘perfect.’ She did, especially when she used to show her small pony, Rico Suavè. Due to her success on him, a lot of spectators would attend her classes to watch her ride. She said this would make her nervous and cause her to choke.

“Eventually I learned to push the nerves away and just go out there and ride. Now that I’m older and have more show experience, I tend to not get nervous. No one is perfect so I finally stopped trying to be,” she said. “Turns out things work out much better when you aren’t trying to perform at an impossible standard!”

Aleece is extremely active on social media which hasn’t always been fun for her. She said that she’s experienced an incredible amount of internet hate, but she hasn’t let that get to her.

“Some people have said things to me that I do not wish to repeat…” She said. “Fortunately, I’ve always been the type of person that could care less what others think especially when it comes to my riding. I’m happy with who I am and that’s what matters. People that hide behind anonymous and try to destroy your life aren’t even worth your time. You just have to keep your chin up and focus on the things that really matter.”

Though she is a professional, Aleece said she does have a riding weakness: her size.

“I’m only 5’ tall so being strong enough is sometimes a big issue for me. For my height I’m quite muscular but compared to taller women or men I’m very weak,” she said. “Controlling horses much bigger than me can be a difficult task especially if the horse is acting up.”

However, she also thinks her size is an advantage as it allows her to ride any size horse or pony, and she wouldn’t want to be taller.

Aleece doesn’t have any specific goals going into this year aside from improving her riding and skill set. She also wants to learn as much as she can from the sport. Her ultimate long-term goal is to show in a Grand Prix or jumper derby at Spruce Meadows.

Aleece & Canto competing in the high junior jumpers at the Classic Company show in Pensacola, Florida. Photo Credit to A&S Photography.

Aleece & Canto competing in the high junior jumpers at the Classic Company show in Pensacola, Florida. Photo Credit to A&S Photography.

Since she is 18, college is just around the corner, but Aleece hasn’t figured out yet what she would like to do aside from taking some photography classes. However, she did stress that riding will always come first for her, and she considers it to be her profession.

As for other professionals, Aleece said she has always looked up to Nick Skelton.

“His horses are always in amazing shape and perform to the best of their abilities,” she said. “He goes in that ring to get the job done and he makes it look effortless in the process.”

She also considers McLain Ward to be a role model and would love to clinic with him one day.

“He is an incredible rider who not only has amazing equitation, but he’s also quite admirable in jump offs. He knows exactly how to set a horse up for a turn and knows exactly when to push the limit,” she said.

Finally, we asked about her favorite riding products. She loves Tailored Sportsman breeches (which she was still wearing at 7 pm during her interview), her GPA Speed Air helmet, and Pikeur jackets and belts.

If you’d like to keep up with Aleece, she can be found on Facebook, Kik (Username: AleeceJarman), Ask.fm, and Instagram (which she uses the most).

All photos are courtesy of Aleece Jarman and credited to the photographers listed in the caption. Please do not use without permission.

Revolutionizing equestrian style: An interview with Le Fash’s President & Founder Arianna Vastino

Lauren Mahoney modeling Le Fash's Spring 2015 collection pieces. Photo Credit to Le Fash.

Lauren Mahoney modeling Le Fash’s Spring 2015 collection pieces. Photo Credit to Le Fash.

As most of you may know, I love Le Fash. I interviewed Arianna Vastino, the founder and president of the brand. The big appeal of Le Fash, besides its gorgeous, well-made clothing, is that it’s the first “cross over” equestrian brand meaning it can be worn both at the stable and on the street. I often wear my Le Fash show shirts to work as blouses under my suit. Arianna was kind enough to grant us an interview, especially because she has such a busy schedule of getting out deliveries and designing for some new items that will be released this upcoming summer.

Arianna is 32 years old and describes herself as a “jersey girl.” She loves horses and fashion, but she said she actually enjoys all animals. She also is married to who she calls “the best guy in the world.”

Arianna’s riding career began when she was extremely young. She started riding when she was 3 when her parents bought her and her sister a pony. Arianna’s career hasn’t stopped since, and she has competed successfully on the hunter/jumper circuit as a junior and amateur rider.

Although Arianna’s riding somewhat took a back seat to Le Fash when it first launched. She said she still rides every day. She loves actively training and “always learning.”

“I would love to start showing again once the brand can run more on autopilot,” she said.

Arianna currently owns a Dutch Warmblood name Zeus who was imported from Europe as a 7 year old. She said that she turned Zeus into her “perfect hunter.”

Arianna's horse and Le Fash model, Zeus. Photo Credit to Le Fash.

Arianna’s horse and Le Fash model, Zeus. Photo Credit to Le Fash.

“He’s the best! You can see him modeling in the Le Fash shoots, which he absolutely loves,” Arianna said. “When I have a particularly hard day, I love to be able to use riding as my way to relax and remember that I love this sport, the main reason for starting my brand.”

Besides a passion for riding, Arianna also has a passion for fashion.

“I always loved the fast paced life of the fashion industry and was drawn to style at a young age,” Arianna said. “My mother will tell you that in 1st grade, my homework was to draw something for the letter ‘L,’ and I drew a lipstick with a Christian Dior logo.”

Arianna graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in New York. After that, she obtained her Master’s in Fashion Styling from Istituto Maragoni in Milan. As if this wasn’t impressive enough, she has a long list of internships and jobs with many well-known and highly-thought of fashion companies.

“I did work for many of the industry’s top companies and fashion magazines as both a designer and stylist such as Elle, In Style, Victoria’s Secret and Bergdorf Goodman, where I worked exclusively as a stylist for 3 years,” she said.

Arianna’s love for fashion gave her the inspiration to start Le Fash. It is not secret that many big name fashion companies use equestrian outfits as inspiration for many of their lines. Arianna though the exact opposite.

Me modeling the Le Fash Central City Breeches; their Pistachio Check Sport Show Shirt (top right), and their Sky Dot Sport Show Shirt.

Me modeling the Le Fash Central City Breeches; their Pistachio Check Sport Show Shirt (top right), and their Sky Dot Sport Show Shirt.

“[W]hen I put on my show clothes I thought they looked and fit awful. So I had a moment where I thought ‘Why are we equestrians inspiring these gorgeous clothing from major designers but yet we don’t have anything cool for ourselves?’ I thought it would be great to not only have clothing that looked great; traditional with an updated fit but also that would appeal to those non-equestrian clients who wanted to emulate our style,” Arianna said.

Thus Le Fash was born.

Arianna worked on the company for about 5 years before she actually quit her full-time job and launched Le Fash.

Although Arianna had complete confidence in her idea for clothing that could double as street and riding clothes, she has been very surprised as to how well-received it has been in the industry.

“I think every entrepreneur has to get over the initial fear of their idea not being accepted[,] [e]specially if it’s in a market like ours which doesn’t like change. That’s the hard part and probably the reason that I didn’t launch sooner,” Arianna said. “But I did my homework. I spoke to as many riders, professionals, [and] business owners that I could and studied the industry to figure out my niche. Being an equestrian myself, I not only test each product personally before launching it but continually improve the fit and finishes over and over after hearing feedback.”

Many of Le Fash’s prints and fabrics are chosen for their comfort, fit, and performance.

“Riders need fabrics to be able to be durable but also comfortable, provide structure but also technical performance. It’s like combining your suit for work with your gym clothes and your pajamas all together,” she said. “You can really see this engineering in my shirting line which took a lot of time to figure out which fabrications would work best.”

Lauren Mahoney & Lilly Bauer modeling Le Fash's Spring 2015 collection.

Lauren Mahoney & Lilly Bauer modeling Le Fash’s Spring 2015 collection. Photo Credit to Le Fash.

Arianna looks to mainstream season color trends when it comes to choosing the prints she utilizes for her shirts and other clothing. She tries to keep it traditional while also pushing the limit more each season. Furthermore, she is always considering what colors would look great on a horse or with a traditional show coat and tall boots.

“I like to push innovation in my products which is why I feel the products have been so successful,” she said.

Brand ambassadorships are a huge thing nowadays, and we asked Le Fash if they currently have one.

“We currently aren’t doing an ambassador program. I had some issues with this program. I think it started out as a great idea but too many companies started to do it and people got to fixed on the idea about getting free products and less on organic promotion of a product they truly enjoyed,” she said. “I see people on social media that are wearing my products but won’t tag us because they aren’t getting paid for it which seems ingenuine.”

Le Fash sponsored rider Jen Alfano aboard Miss Lucy at WEF 2013. Photo Credit to Le Fash.

Le Fash sponsored rider Jen Alfano aboard Miss Lucy at WEF 2013. Photo Credit to Le Fash.

Le Fash does have sponsored riders, and they are all well-known. They include riders such as Jennifer Alfano, Maggie Jayne, and most recently, Hunter Holloway, who has made a break into the Big Eq ring and is currently working with Arianna on some awesome new items for the summer season. Arianna has found that the interest in Le Fash has grown because of the success of her sponsored riders. She feels it gives the brand “street cred.”

“They are great riders because they take risks and that is why people look up to them. These risks include attire that they decide they want to wear based on their likes and not because everyone else thinks they should wear that,” she said. “Maggie Jayne actually won Medal Finals wearing a pony tail, which started the trend we see now.”

Arianna believes that the attire rules in the sport are “less severe” than what riders think. She has experience negativity from trainers and clients who believe they can’t wear certain prints in the hunter or equitation rings. However, Arianna feels those beliefs just aren’t true.

From left to right: Lily Burns rocking the Le Fash Tuxedo shirt in the hunter ring last year; Justine Tainsh in her Le Fash Show Shirt at Spruce Meadows this past summer; and Jenna Reider with her Le Fash Show Shirt schooling bareback at home. Photos Courtesy of the respective riders. Do not use without permission.

From left to right: Lily Burns rocking the Le Fash Tuxedo shirt in the hunter ring last year; Justine Tainsh (@justineashleyy on Twitter & Instagram) in her Le Fash Show Shirt at Spruce Meadows this past summer; and Gillian  with her Le Fash Show Shirt schooling bareback at home. Photos Courtesy of the respective riders. Do not use without permission.

“Yes, we have some rules but if Jen Alfano can wear a plaid Le Fash shirt in the High Performance Hunters at Devon, than you can too. If Hunter Holloway can wear the City Breech at Maclay Finals and practically win, than you can too.”

She continued, “having my products on these riders has allowed me to give customers an understanding that new isn’t wrong[,] [e]specially when I am fixing all of these issues that we see from older brands who refuse to change.”

Le Fash just released its Spring 2015 collection, which is gorgeous. The company has even more in store for the summer.

“We have a new summer collection that will release in May that includes product collaborations with Hunter Holloway,” she said.

Also, for those dressage riders out there that love Le Fash, the company will be releasing a full seat City Breech.

Finally, Le Fash has harnassed some technology to create a unique experience for its clients, a mobile experience accessible from the apparel hangtags using Near Field Communication technology, or NFC.

Le Fash's new NFC technology feature giving you access to exclusive Le Fash content.

Le Fash’s new NFC technology feature giving you access to exclusive Le Fash content. Graphic Credit to Le Fash.

“By simply tapping the back of your mobile device to the NFC mTAGs, customers will be directed to a customized mobile experience from any store that carries Le Fash products,” Arianna explained. “Smartphone users who do not have NFC on their phones will have to scan the accompanying Quick Response (QR) code, also located on the inside of the tag. The mobile experience will include exclusive content, like a 30 second video about the brand, and other special features about our products. It’s like stepping inside the world of Le Fash.”

Me modeling Le Fash in my work suit, showing its versatility in and out of the barn environment.

Me modeling Le Fash in my work suit, showing its versatility in and out of the barn environment.

While Le Fash is limited to breeches, show and sport shirts, and most recently, stock ties, Arianna plans on branching out into accessories and show coats as well as a potential kids’ line.

“I even have a name chosen,” she said of the children’s line. We personally can’t think of anything cuter than pony kids rocking Le Fash in the show ring.

Despite Le Fash’s success, Arianna never lets her guard down to relax. Her nerves still crop up when she launches a new collection that has new designs and clothing concepts. She continues to work harder and make each collection better than the last.

Le Fash can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you post photos of you in your Le Fash clothing, don’t forget to use the tag “RideInStyle”!

All photos courtesy of Le Fash, me, or the individuals credited in the caption. Please do not use without permission.

Teaching yourself to ride: An interview with Hannah Foraker

I interviewed Hannah Foraker, also known as HunterProbss. Hannah, who hails from Ohio, is unique in that she is self-taught in both riding and equine nutrition. Though she rode with a trainer for some of her riding career, essentially everything she has learned about “advanced” riding is what she has taught herself through the use of social media, one very special YouTube video, and a lot of critique of her own riding – from herself and others.

Hannah & Derby. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

Hannah & Derby. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

Hannah’s interest in horses started when her parents hired ponies to come to her house for her 4th birthday party. Ever since then, she has been obsessed with horses, especially the nose-to-tail trail rides that are offered during camps or vacations. Her dad’s friend owned a horse stable, and she started taking lessons there when she was younger.

Hannah has been riding for 8 years, though she did take a year hiatus when her first lesson barn closed down. She then began riding at a barn in the next city over. She leased an Arabian mare for 4 years that she described as “elderly, but spunky.”

“During that time I also trained with a Meredith Manor graduate and really got to experience the ‘get it done’ attitude that comes with riding greenies & hot horses,” Hannah said.

In August 2011, Hannah purchased her OTTB Derby and moved to RiverBend Jumpers – an A Circuit show barn in her area.

Hannah & Derby. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

“While there I got Derby’s lameness under control and had the opportunity to ride some really nice horses. I learned how to properly ride, how to execute different movements, and how to perform,” she said.

After about a year, Hannah had to move, and she has ridden solo ever since.

Many of you have probably seen Deby on Hannah’s social media sites. He is an 11 year old OTTB gelding that is registered as “Red Coach” with the Jockey Club. However, Hannah’s show name for him is “Stop and Stare.” He is out of “Donthelumbertrader” and “La Bonet.” In 2010, he was the OPHA Low Adult Champion.

Derby was a pasture pet until Hannah purchased him in August of 2011.

“He was out of shape, but still had the same ole Derby attitude that I know and love. He loves his job, whatever it may be. Hunters, Jumpers, Eventing, Dressage, Contesting, Trails, Liberty, Bareback/ bridleless/ bitless,” Hannah said. “Everything I have ever attempted to do with him he exceeds all expectations. He loves kisses and will subtly nuzzle you for more.” Hannah also said that Derby is always cool and calm and never backs up the “crazy Thoroughbred” stereotype.

In the 3 years that Hannah has owned Derby, she has never fallen off of him.

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

“I will probably fall off next week just because I said that,” she said. “Though he really cares about his rider, he cares about me. If I slip forward and lose my balance he will down-transition. He saves my butt on a regular basis over fences, to which I am forever grateful for. He is the reason I am the person, the rider, I am today.”

When Hannah stopped riding with a trainer, she had to turn to other things to get her horse knowledge. She actually gives Twitter a lot of credit for what she knows today.

“Ever since becoming a part of Eq Anon Island I became a lot more aware of how I look, how I dress, my equitation, how handsome my horse is, the quality of my tack,” she said. “I’m not talking brands, but just having a clean and professional appearance. I never really grasped or cared about any of that prior to my twitter. So thank you everyone for enlightening me. “

Hannah said she doesn’t really seek out any type of material to help her progress in her riding. Rather, she videos her rides and watches them so she can critique herself.

However, there is one short video on YouTube that Hannah credits as “completely changing the way” she rides. It can be found here.

“Ever since viewing this video I am all about having an engaged hind and a round back,” she said. “My obsession with long and low began, and my knowledge on ‘breaking at the 3rd’ and ‘flexing at the poll’ grew. I truly support classical dressage and most modern dressage is very improper in my eyes, more flashy than correct.”

Hannah said she is always open to constructive criticism. However, the majority of the criticism she receives is from herself. You won’t find her posting on JRN or other similar Facebook groups for comments on her riding.

“Usually I go to my close friends whom know me, know my horse, and have an already well developed sense of my riding,” she said. “That is where I get the most useful feedback that I can then use for my next ride.”

Hannah said it’s also not rare for her to get off half-way through her ride to review footage she has obtained up to that point.

“… it’s very frustrating to go home and view the video and realize that I was doing something wrong the entire ride. Something that could have been corrected had I just noticed I was doing it,” she said. “There are a lot of downs to being self-taught, it isn’t easy and requires a lot of self discipline. Though I am not doing A, B, and C because it looks good. I am doing A, B, and C because it effects my ride positively and makes me a better rider and trainer.”

Hannah & Derby doing some dressage. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

Hannah & Derby doing some dressage. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

Hannah said she has a hard time thinking she is training herself and Derby. She doesn’t consider herself a trainer but also isn’t sure what else to call it.

With all this self-training, there had to be something she had trouble with – as we all do, right?

Hannah said the hardest thing to teach herself was a proper release and not jumping ahead (Editor’s Note: Me too, Hannah!)

“[B]ack when I had a trainer it was drilled into my head to ‘wait’ for the horse to depart before going into two point. It visually looks better, you’re more synchronized with the horse, your leg won’t slip back, balance is improved,” she said. “Plus if you open your hip angle and wait to two-point when you get into a less-than-ideal distance it improves safety and performance.”

Hannah said she knows how to do it and can do it, but she is “really inconsistent” about it. However, she has found that bareback jumping really helps her find a rhythm when it comes to jumping, but it is something she has to actively think about.

“It’s a hard habit to break, but I’m working on it every day,” she said.

Additionally, Hannah said her release is her riding weakness.

“I know it could be better. I know that I knick Derby in the mouth every now and then, it’s one of the reasons I have him in a very soft bit and bitless. My imperfections and fault shouldn’t inflict discomfort and pain upon my horse, especially when he is excelling and performing,” she said.

Hannah said that she also has to “actively think” about her release. If she doesn’t, she goes back to her default ‘boob release.’ (Editor’s Note: I do this too, but my trainer calls it ‘crotch hands.’)

Hannah has also notice that her release is “directly related to how secure I feel, my confidence, and also where my mind is at that particular moment.”

Hannah said that having a strong base is key to self-training.

“It’s a very bad idea for a green rider to have a green or hot horse and try to go off jumping. I knew how to ride, I had a very strong base, and Derby knew how to be a 2’6″ hunter,” she said. “It was just a matter of learning together, growing, and establishing clear communication. Have an open mind and be sure to take constructive criticism, but know when bad advice is being given.”

Hannah recommends utilizing videos, articles, clinics, lessons, and other things when learning how to ride. She also especially recommends YouTube videos.

Surprisingly, Hannah hits a mental block when she jumps higher than 3 feet. She said that she had been jumping 2’6” her entire life, so “any higher seems absolutely terrifying.”

My insecurities really transferred to my horse, and the first few times Derby would refuse the 3′ jump only made my anxiety worse and ever more unsuccessful,” she said.

However, she and Derby recently competing in a mini-trial, which had Beginner Novice size jumps (2’7”).

Hannah & Derby at the mini-trial. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

Hannah & Derby at the a local hunter pace jumping training level, or 3’1″. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

“I got anxiety when I did the cross country course walk and those stadium jumps looked HUGE! I saw a lot of people have problems at the first fence of stadium, plenty of refusals and run outs. I KNEW that if I did well in stadium I would do well in the entire event, so I put my game face on and added HELLA leg and grabbed mane,” she said.

Though she said her distances were rough and her round was quite sloppy after making it over the first fence, she found it to be the push she needed to be more confident. She ended up placing second in the mini trial with a flawless cross country run.

Hannah has started did one 2’9″ hunter class in August and has done some 3′ classes this past October and November. She and Derby did very well, got ribbons, and earned a second and first in the NAHRA Medal class. She further broadened her horizons this past December and did a jumper show where she won champion.

“3’ still spooks me, but now I know I can do it and do it well,” she said.

Hannah said that she would like to continue to self-improve, continue to be happy, and enjoy the most of the carefree time she has with Derby. She doesn’t plan on becoming a pro or becoming severely competitive.

“There is more to a ‘riding career’ than excelling at shows, sometimes you have to let your hair down and just appreciate the beauty of horses in a carefree way,” she said.

Hannah & Derby dabbling in western riding. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

Hannah & Derby dabbling in western riding. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

Another thing Hannah is known for is her equine nutrition knowledge. She said she started as very ignorant about what her horse was eating which caused Derby to suffer and become underweight. However, she eventually learned to look at the fat content of different feeds. When that didn’t work, she dug even deeper and began looking at other ingredients, such as starch and sugar content.

“I learned how to analyze the feed tag of grains, how to find legitimate research to support my findings,” Hannah said. “Soon my reading also spread into supplements. I am completely self-taught, and I am very VERY confident in my own knowledge in this field.”

Hannah also has a blog, which she calls “messy, unorganized, and somewhat informative.”

Hannah highly recommends Triple Crown Senior, Purina Ultium, and Tribute Kalm N Ez.” (Editor’s Note: My horse is a hard-keeper, and I went to Hannah for help a few months ago. She recommended Triple Crown Senior, which my new barn coincidentally used. My horse has completely transformed, is no longer underweight, and looks the best he has since I got him.)

Hannah also loves Actiflex 4,000, Hoof Secret, Sho-Glo, Perktone, Coconut, Cocosoya, and Black Oil Sunflower Seeds.

Hannah said she would love to ride with Frank Madden. She also looks up to Linda Radigan, her old trainer, and Jessica Springsteen.

Linda Radigan riding Chevalier in Ocala, Florida.

Linda Radigan riding Chevalier in Ocala, Florida.

Though Hannah has enjoyed teaching herself, she does hope to ride with a trainer again one day.

“I’m not going to sugar coat it, but it’s pure financial reasons that I don’t have a trainer,” she said.

Hannah stated she would rather pay for her horse’s chiropractor visits, equipment, and other needs than a lesson for herself – though she does think that everyone could always use a trainer.

“We all have priorities, mine is my horse,” she said. “I hold my own enough to have fun and do well, which is more than I ever imagined I would be able to do. I love Derby, his spoils are more important than me becoming a better rider.”

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Foraker.

Above all else, Hannah said that a horse’s owner/rider is its biggest advocate.

“If you don’t stick up for them, then no one else will. It’s very important for equines to have that strong leader in their life, and that leader is you,” she said.

Hannah can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She is also an ambassador for Hunt Club. She always welcomes equine nutrition questions.

All photos courtesy of Hannah Foraker. Do not use without permission.

How to never mentally ‘skip a beat’ when you ride or compete

Guest post by LD, my trainer.
It’s a new year; it’s time to turn over a new leaf, gain new perspective.  It’s time to take control of your riding: MENTALLY.  Riding is a very physical sport, but many people underestimate the mental acuity necessary to achieve success.  As a trainer, I address various “noggin’ issues” among riders: distraction, fear, confidence, etc.  I could devote many posts to each mental challenge we face as riders, but today, I would like to address the influence of gossip and barn drama on success in the ring.
Every barn I have ever ridden/trained/lessoned/taught/worked at has its own type of barn drama.  Some places, it is very subtle, and other places you feel like you have walked on to the set of Mean Girls with horses.  No matter where you go, there will be some one who doubts you, who tries to bring you down, and who knowingly or unknowingly “messes” with your ride.  Here are some tips to help you “Shake It Off.”

Fun fact: Taylor used to ride as a young child.

1. Taylor Swift is right.  Haters are gonna hate, hate, hate.  There will always be people that live to bring other people down.  There will be people that are jealous or condescending or just plain mean.  While it may feel like these people are singling you out; remember, they are not.  They will talk about everyone – you are just the target in front of them.  Before you enter the ring, for a lesson or in a show, acknowledge them in your mind.  Know that while some one may be rooting for you to fail, that you can rise above.  Despite the “haters,” know that you are a strong, determined and dedicated rider.  And then, just let them fade into the background.
2. Don’t ride for them.  Some people use the negativity as fuel to propel them towards their goals.  That’s fine, just make sure you are riding for you.  Don’t let negative comments or gossip force you to put extra pressure on yourself.  You don’t need to be perfect.  Even professionals miss a distance!  My dad, though he is not a horse person, gave me the best piece of competitive advice.  He said: “Ride to win.  Don’t ride to not make a mistake.”  If you ride to prove other people wrong, you are riding to not make a mistake.  If you ride to win, you are riding for yourself.  You know that you might make a mistake, but you are going to go for it.  When you ride for yourself, you are free to enjoy each moment, even the mistakes.
3. Money doesn’t matter.  Yes, riding is an expensive sport.  Yes, the girl with the triple figure horse is very lucky, but she makes mistakes, too.  Whether you have the most expensive horse in the barn or you are a working student hoping for catch rides, when you are on the horse in the ring, money doesn’t matter.  The horse has no idea if you are wearing brand new breeches or not.  You are in the ring to work on your skills and the horse’s skills.  People in the horse world make a big deal about money; I know this is a very touchy subject.  If you have the money and love top quality things, then go for it!!  But, don’t look down on those without financial means.  If you are working your tushy off to afford a lesson or a set of second hand show clothes, then more power to you!  But, remember to enjoy your time on the horse and stop looking at what everyone else has.   (Full disclosure:  Growing up, I was in the “middle” in terms of money.  I know what it’s like to be jealous of the girl who took 3 horses to Florida.  I also know what it is like to have some one sneer at me for being able to show every weekend.)
4. Keep your focus in the ring.  As a trainer, I don’t care who walked up to the fence to watch your lesson.  I don’t care if some one started the tractor for no good reason.  I don’t care if we are at a show and your old barn is there.  If there is a safety concern or they are interfering with my instruction, I will say something.  Otherwise, you shouldn’t care either.  Every time you step in the ring, your horse deserves your undivided attention.  Focus on your horse.  Focus on your ride.  The more you think “inside leg, outside hand” or “tighten up my tummy” or “eyes up” the better you will ride, the better your horse will go, the more you will get lost in the moment, and the happier you will be with your ride.
I know these tips don’t address how to handle barn drama on the cross ties or in the tack room.  I know that in the digital age, barn drama transcends the physical limitations of the barn.  My advice for barn drama in general is: stay out of it and be nice to everyone.  If you don’t want some one to talk about you, then don’t talk about them.  (Note: much easier said than done!)  It is up to the trainer/barn manager/farm owner to set an example of a gossip free environment.  If all else fails remind yourself of why you are at the barn: To ride, learn, grow, and to love your horse!

“Shake it off” when you’re showing or riding – you’re there for you and your horse, not others!