Giveaway for 20k: EcoLicious Equestrian Waterless Shampoo

As promised, we are doing another giveaway for reaching 20k blog views.

This week’s giveaway is EcoLicious Equestrian Waterless Shampoo! It’s the perfect thing to have on hand especially going into the cold winter months when it might not be the best idea to give your horse or pony a full-blown bath.

Don’t know about EcoLicious Equestrian’s Waterless Shampoo? Check out my review here!

Ready to enter? What are you waiting for! Click here.

Why you need the SmartPak SmartBlanket app

For those of you that don’t know, SmartPak released their SmartBlanket app a few days ago. Some have said “why should you need an app to tell whether to blanket your horse?” While this is somewhat true, I also find the app to be extremely handy. Here’s why.

When you download the app, it asks you to input some information about your horse such as where he or she is located, coat length, turnout schedule, weight, and whether the barn is significantly warmer than outside. After entering this information (and providing a cute picture), SmartBlanket will give you the weather/temperature predictions for the next 7 days and nights and the 8th day. Along with the predictions is what type of blanket your horse will need based on what’s being predicted. Below are the predictions for my pony, Tempo, and my horse, Luther. Luther is currently on stall rest because of a bruise on his hoof, so he is currently inside both day and night.

Tempo’s SmartBlanket recommendations.

Luther’s SmartBlanket recommendations.

I tweaked the profile of each of my boys to show how the SmartBlanket recommendations will change depending on the horse’s coat length, weight, and turnout schedule.

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Luther’s SmartBlanket recommendations based on tweaked characteristics. I changed his coat length and his turnout schedule.

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Tempo’s SmartBlanket recommendations based on tweaked characteristics. I changed his coat length and weight.

One thing that I think is awesome is that it differentiates between a turnout sheet/blanket and a sheet/blanket. Obviously, if your horse is going to be outside during the day or at night when there is precipitation, he or she should have a turnout sheet or blanket because those are waterproof. If you notice, for the nighttime recommendations where I put my horse and pony would be inside at night, a sheet is just recommended because they will not be exposed to the elements.

While it is not yet cold enough here to differentiate between the different weight blankets, I am sure the app will recommend medium weight and heavy weight blankets based on the temperatures and the wind.

I also placed one of my boys on 24/7 turnout, just to see what happened, and a turnout sheet/blanket is recommended during the day and night depending on temperatures and the chance of precipitation.

The app also has a few other handy features, such as defining each type of blanket/sheet you can buy for your horse, blanketing tips, a glossary of blanket features (what is denier anyway?), a measurement guide, and tips on fitting a blanket properly to a horse, including when a horse has different conformational features such as high withers or a stocky build.

It is important to note that the SmartBlanket app is just a guide, and that you (or your barn manager/trainer) knows your horse better than the app does. For example, if your horse is ill, it might not be the best idea to turn him out on a cold day, even with a sheet or blanket. Your horse also might require a sheet when it gets into the 50s whereas the SmartPak app may not recommend that. The app does not replace yours or your barn manager/trainer’s knowledge of your horse, but it can help you plan ahead given that it will give you the weather and blanket predictions 8 days in advance.

This app is also handy for first-time horse owners. While some of us may think we shouldn’t need an app to tell whether our horse needs a blanket or sheet, there are some people who are leasing or owning a horse for the first time and may not have all the knowledge an experienced horse person does. This is a great way for a new horse leaser or owner to learn when and what his or her horse needs and when. When I first bought my pony, I didn’t know anything about blanketing – mostly because I had ridden at facilities that didn’t believe in blanketing for the most part. My pony had lived outside – even in the winter – with no blanket before I bought him!

A good rule of thumb: It is better for a horse to be too cold than too hot! It’s easy for your horse to shiver to warm up, but he can’t take his blanket off himself! (Well.. most can’t anyway..)

Overall, I find this app to be very handy, and I recommend any horse owner or barn manager to download it. Inputting each horse’s information is simple, and it’s also very simple to switch from horse to horse.

If you’re curious about what blanket or sheet is required for what temperatures, SmartPak also has a handy temperature guide on their website.

To download the app, you can find it in the iTunes app store under “SmartBlanket” or click here from your cell phone!

ps. Don’t worry Droid users, SmartPak is working on a Droid version of the app to be released soon.

5 things it’s okay to do when selling your horse

My Arabian & I on our last day together.

My Arabian & I on our last day together.

Selling a horse can be emotional especially if you have had it for a long time or if you are really attached. Selling a horse can also sometimes be involuntary. Not all of us have an infinite amount of money to throw towards riding, and not all of us are lucky to own more than one horse. If your goals change, you may have to sell your horse in order to get another one that will help you reach your goal, whether it’s moving up in jumping or pursuing a new discipline.

Believe it or not, I sold a horse for the first time a few months ago. As many of you may know, I used to own a 5 year old Arabian. I bought him when I had no intention of showing, jumping, or doing anything that he would not be able to do. Unfortunately, once I began riding with my trainer, it was painfully clear that he and I were not a match – for several reasons.

  1. I discovered I liked horses with bigger strides that were taller than 16hh. This was quite a shock after spending my entire riding career on small horses and ponies. My Arabian had a small stride and was only 15.1hh.
  2. I decided I wanted to jump more and eventually make it to the 3’6″ level. While my Arabian did love to jump, he was going to max out at 2’9″, if that.
  3. I love the hunters and the equitation. My Arabian was definitely a jumper.
  4. My Arabian’s true calling was trail riding – something I do not like to do.

It was a decision I knew I had to make, and quite frankly, I had decided to sell him long before I even started advertising him. Part of me was in denial and wanted to make it work. The other part was attached and felt guilty because I had never sold a horse before, and I truly believed when I got him that he would be a forever horse.

I sold him to someone who talked a big game and had all these plans for him. He eventually ended up coming back. She claimed he had behavioral issues, but eventually admitted to me that she had buyer’s remorse about purchasing a green 5 year old Arab. Luckily, I found the perfect home for him after that, and they are both doing extremely well. He is now a western pleasure horse, and I must say that seems to be his true calling.

When selling a horse, some feelings and emotions may come up for you, and you may not know whether these are ‘okay.’ Here’s what I learned when selling a horse for the first time.

  1. It’s okay to be picky about where your horse goes. If you care about your horse and are selling him or her because you have to, it’s okay to be selective about to whom you sell your horse. I was very picky. I wanted my horse to go to a good home with someone who intended on keeping him forever. I didn’t want him to end up in a bad situation or at an auction. As long as you’re not unreasonable, having standards for who buys your horse is perfectly acceptable!
  2. It’s okay to ask for a right of first refusal or to put a no auction/slaughter clause in the sale contract. Most people are amenable to signing a contract with these provisions. Make sure that the buyer understands what they mean. These clauses are a good way to give you peace of mind on your horse’s whereabouts in the future.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Again, unless you know the person buying your horse, it’s possible for someone to lie about their true intentions or to tell you how great of a horse owner they are when they really aren’t. Asking for references will give you a good idea of whether this person is someone you would want caring for your horse.
  4. Start at your highest (realistic) price. If you want a quick sale, this may not be a tip for you, but if you’re willing to wait, start your asking price at the highest realistic price for your horse. That way, you don’t shortchange yourself by selling for a cheaper price if someone would have bought him or her for more. If no one is biting, you can always lower the price.
  5. Crying when your horse leaves is normal. I bawled when my horse left. I didn’t want to sell him but I knew it was the right decision for both of us. It’s okay to cry! You may have owned this horse for a long time and have a lot of history with him or her. Selling an animal isn’t supposed to be emotionless, so don’t be embarrassed if you get teary eyed when your soon to be former equine gets on the trailer.

Selling a horse can be hard, and it’s okay to be unsure of how to feel. But the important thing to remember is it’s okay to feel sad, stressed, and/or picky. As long as your behavior isn’t too off-putting to potential buyers, you’re in the clear!

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

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

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

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

My Barn Child Owl Charm.

My Barn Child Owl Charm.

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

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

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

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

How to be a good equestrian brand ambassador

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

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

What is a brand ambassador?

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

What makes a great brand ambassador?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “no-nos” of ambassadorship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The appropriate use of social media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applying for an ambassadorship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Must Have Equestrian Fashion Items for Fall 2014

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Le Fash Central Park City Breech.

1. Le Fash: I finally bought my first Le Fash shirt last year, and I am IN LOVE with it. I since have picked up three Le Fash long sleeve show shirts. I also own one of their short sleeve show shirts and two of their sport polos. Their Spring 2015 collection is being rolled out this month, and their new City Breech colors are already on the website. One of the greatest things about the brand is that their clothes are able to worn in day-to-day life. You could wear one of their shirts to work and only have to change into breeches when you get to the barn (I have personally done this – it works flawlessly). I love the versatility of the brand, and the designs are gorgeous. Le Fash clothes are 100% show appropriate and have already made their way into the show ring with sponsored riders Jennifer Alfano, Maggie Jayne, and Hunter Holloway. The Spring 2015 City Breech colors are to die for, and I will be purchasing the Central Park hunter green for myself. The new show shirt colors aren’t up on the website yet, but Le Fash has posted a preview to its Facebook page, and they look gorgeous!

Asmar Equestrian Active Compression Top.

2. Asmar Equestrian: I recently became a fan of Asmar Equestrian, and I have one of their compression shirts on order right now. Not only do they look super cute, but they serve a dual purpose: keeping muscles warm and wicking sweat away. I cannot wait to wear this in the fall, especially during those rides where I get super sweaty and then super cold once I’m done riding due to the cold temperatures. The shirt comes in black  and can be found here or here. There is also a lux compression top that looks amazingly gorgeous. You should also check out their show shirts and their sweaters! I just bought their Merino Wool v-neck in Caribbean, and I. love. it. Super comfortable, super soft, and very flattering! I pretty much love all their apparel.

Rebecca Ray Bit Belt in black.

3. Rebecca Ray Bit Belt: If you haven’t checked out Rebecca Ray already, you must do so. She has a ton of cute equestrian themed stuff like wrist cuffs, handbags, home decorations, and more. I have been wanting the Rebecca Ray Bit Belt. The belt comes in black, brown, or red leather with a silver snaffle bit. The belt can be buckled in the front so that the bit is on the hip or buckled on the side so the bit is in the front. This is a definite must have for the fall. I mean, who DOESN’T need more belts? (Seriously.. if your breeches have belt loops, wear a belt!) The bit belt can be found here or here.

Spur belt available at Equestri Lifestyle

4. Spur Belt: One of my favorite tack shops, Equestri Lifestyle, has spur belts that are super cute and fun. They come in 9 different colors (on the website), including black if you want to remain conservative. The belt buckle resembles a spur. I’ve seen a ton of different color combinations with these belts, and I love them all. Equestri Lifestyle allows special orders, so if you want a color not on the website or a certain material for the actual belt, they can accommodate you! I personally love the aqua, light patent pink, and black colors. These belts would go great with one of the Asmar Equestrian polos, a Le Fash show shirt, or an EIS mesh shirt!

Renard et Cheval show coat in brown. Photo Credit: Equestri Lifestyle Facebook page.

Renard et Cheval show coat in brown. Photo Credit: Equestri Lifestyle Facebook page.

5. Renard et Cheval: This is a fairly new equestrian apparel brand, but their stuff is gorgeous. Alexa Skonieczny who also owns Equestri Lifestyle gave me the rundown on this brand new line created by individuals that spent years making custom show clothing for Karl Cook, Marcus Enhning, and Nick Skelton. They offer breeches, shirts, and show coats. Their breeches come in two colors: pomegranate and tan. Their shirts come in multiple colors and have details such as magnetic collars, printed collars and cuffs, mesh under sleeve, and fun designs in the collars and cuffs. Their show coats (the brown is to die for) come in four basic “off the rack” designs. However, you can get a custom collar or a completely custom coat for extra money on top of the base price. The brand is still new, but it can be found at Equestri Lifestyle, Barrington Saddlery, Allon, and Stirrup Cup.

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My Barn Child Evil Eye charm.

6. My Barn Child Evil Eye Charm: For those of you that don’t know what the “evil eye” is, it is a curse that is cast by a malevolent glare that is given when a person is unaware. It is often thought to cause misfortune or injury to the person that receives it. It has different names in different cultures; my favorite being the “stink eye” which comes from Hawaii. To protect oneself from the evil eye, you can wear evil eye jewelry which is meant to reflect the evil eye back towards the giver and keep you from receiving the curse. While I know this sounds like a bunch of mythical lore, but I really like the concept, and I actually had an evil eye bracelet until I lost it riding one day. Given the stuff I’ve been dealing with recently when it comes to riding (lots of gossiping and competitiveness), I decided to get the My Barn Child Evil Eye charm to put on my saddle and protect me from any negativity and bad karma. Even though we may try to avoid it, riding can be extremely competitive and catty, and the evil eye charm is the perfect way to combat that (if you believe in protective talismans, that is.. which I definitely do)!

Under Armour Authentic Tights.

7. SmartPak Under Armour: Some of us aren’t lucky enough to be at a facility that has a heated barn and indoor ring.. or even an indoor ring. If this winter is anything like last winter, and sources say it will be, we are definitely going to need more winter clothing to keep us from freezing. Under Armour and SmartPak teamed up to make a line suited for equestrians. They have items for the cold and hot days, but I am just going to be focusing on the cold days. My favorites are the Under Armour Coldgear Infrared Crew, the Under Armour Authentic Tights, the  Under Armour Infrared Full Zip Jacket, and the Under Armour Coldgear Infrared Liner Glove. Each of these items uses your own body heat to keep your warm while making sure you also stay dry if you begin sweating. The tights and the glove liners are a great idea because you can wear them under your breeches and winter gloves for those extra cold days. I personally wore leggings under my breeches several days this past winter because it was that cold. We may hate the cold weather, but it’s something we have to deal with, so we might as well do it right!

Lillie Keenan & her Personally Preppy helmet monogram.

Lillie Keenan & her Personally Preppy helmet monogram.

8. Personally Preppy Monograms: I love the idea of monogramming, especially if multiple people at the same barn have the same stuff. Personally Preppy offers monograms for all the essential riding gear: helmets, gloves, boots, horse boots, spurs, and crops! You can also purchase monogrammed polos, a monogram for your show backpack, and a heat transfer monogram to put on your breeches or other apparel. They are customizable, and you can choose from a variety of different sizes, colors, and designs. Plus, Lillie Keenan uses them so what more do you need to know?

Ecolicious Equestrian Hey Sugar Lip Silk.

9. Ecolicious Equestrian Hey Sugar Lip Silk: Winter air is often very cold and very dry which is not necessarily the greatest combination for our skin or lips. My lips tend to get very chapped in the winter, especially because I still ride outside. My solution? Tons of lip balm. The Hey Sugar Lip Silk from Ecolicious Equestrian is AMAZING. Not only does it smell fantastic, it tastes fantastic too (not that I’ve been eating it………..), and it keeps my lips soft and moisturized all day. Just like every Ecolicious product, the lip silk is made from all natural ingredients like Jojoba oil, sunflower oil, and beeswax. It’s great for your lips and great for the environment!

Parlanti Passion Miami boots

10. Parlanti Passion Tall Boots: I love my custom Der Daus, but I ride so much that I wanted to get a pair of schooling tall boots that didn’t break the bank. I decided to purchase a pair of stock size Parlantis over the summer. I got my pair, and they felt like they were broken in already even though I was putting them on for the first time! Mine do not fit me perfectly, but for stock size tall boots, they are pretty damn close which I cannot say about other brands. I love these boots, and they are amazing quality for a stock size boot. A size chart is available here. I have always heard great things about Parlantis, and these did not disappoint even though I did not spend the money to get a custom pair. Tall boots are a must have, especially if you will be showing. Not everyone can afford custom boots, so these are a great alternative. They are available here or here.

Gorgeous custom Samshield helmet featuring Alcantara body, Galuchat top, and Swarovski Zircom trim.

11. Samshield helmet: So, earlier this year I was obsessed with GPA helmets. Then I tried one on. None of them fit my head, and I quickly was over it. It seems as if Samshield helmets have been catching on lately, and I love them. I currently have a Charles Owen AYR8, and I am strongly considering purchasing a Samshield in the near future. Here’s what I like about the Samshield: it’s vented, so it will keep you cool in the summer; it has removable and washable liners; the padding does not make contact with your forehead which is GREAT news for migraine sufferers like myself; and the helmet itself is customizable (though some of the options will run you into the thousands). Samshields are available pretty much anywhere, so I can’t link you to all the available vendors, but you can definitely find them at SmartPak and Dover Saddlery.

5 unique things to ask yourself before buying a new horse

Photo Credit: HorseJunkiesUnited.com

Buying a horse is a huge commitment, and it can be disastrous if you don’t ask the right questions or have an experienced horse person to help you.

My trainer, who I will refer to as “LD,” has bought and sold a variety of horses for herself and for other clients. This past year she helped me go horse shopping. We picked out a horse for me to lease for a year, but he ended up being perfect for me and more than just a lease, and I just purchased him – with her help, of course! There are a lot of articles about buying a horse, but LD put together a list of questions that are not often asked in these articles and are often the most important to consider…

Throughout my time in the horse world, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to look for horses, not only for myself, but for clients, as well.  I have seen thousands of horses, across disciplines and across price ranges.  Whether you are looking for a big show horse to take you to the 3’6″ or a child’s first pony, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.
1. What is your budget?  This is a very important question.  It is very easy to spend a lot of money very quickly.  Know your budget, and don’t even try a horse if it is out of your price range- that will be the horse you fall in love with.  People ask all the time, “How much does a horse cost?”  I tell them that horses vary greatly in price.  (My boyfriend answers, “Well, how much money do you have?”)  You can find a horse in ANY price range, but you have to ask yourself…
2. What are you willing to give up to stay within your budget?  In horse shopping, like house/apartment shopping, the chances of finding exactly what you want for exactly the right price are close to zero.  I suggest making a “must have” list.  This list is different for everyone.  If you are looking for a sound minded horse that will teach your child how to jump, you might be willing to look at an older horse with some minor health issues.  If you are looking for your 3’6″ horse, maybe you would forgo show miles for talent.  Maybe not.  Only you can know what your priorities are.  If you want a horse with PERFECT x-rays, that horse might not have the most jumping experience.  And so the list goes.  Your “must have” list depends on your answer to…
3. What do you want to do with your horse and when do you want to do it?  Your goals are a very important part of finding your perfect horse.  Everyone has goals for their riding.  Some people have ambitious showing goals; some people simply want enjoyment from a ride once or twice a week.  By knowing your goals, you will be able to determine what you will want from your prospective mount.  Recently, a woman purchased a young, green horse and soon realized that this horse was not her match.  It was not because the horse was “bad” or “mean” or even because she didn’t like riding him.  She was not honest with herself about what she needed from a horse.  She was in love with the idea of training a young horse.  But, when it came time to do the work, she realized she didn’t have the time or the skill to train this horse.   Her true goal was to ride twice a week and have a predictable horse that allowed her to work on her skills.  This particular woman was also unrealistic about the time frame of training a young horse.   Young horses generally take a longer time to train and mature.  Older horses are who they are, to a certain extent.  Do you want to walk into the show ring and win tomorrow?  You are looking for an older horse with miles.  Do you want to spend the next year or so honing your horses skills while still improving yourself?  You are looking for a middle aged horse that needs finishing touches.  Do you want to spend the next 2-4 years helping a horse learn how to properly use him/herself and mold them to the discipline of your choice?  You are looking for a young green horse.  If you make a list of your goals, with a realistic time frame, then you will be able to narrow your search to more suitable matches for you.
4. How long do you want to keep this horse?   Horses are a strange combination of pet, teammate, and asset.  Many people buying their first horse believe that this is going to be their horse forever.  More often than not, this is not the case.  Children grow out of ponies; the rider’s skill surpasses the horse’s abilities; financial situations change.    Many people asked how I could sell my previous horses.  I generally answer, “The horse was not getting what he needed from me and I was not getting what I needed from him, so we broke up.”  It is okay to sell your horse if it is time to move on, much like it is okay to break up with your boyfriend if there is no long term future there.  It doesn’t mean you didn’t love him or that you don’t want the best for him or that you weren’t a great match at one point in time.   To alleviate some of that “break up” anxiety, it is good to think about how long you would like to keep the horse you are buying.  Is it a prospect horse?  Is it an investment horse?  Is it a transition horse?  Is it a school horse? Is it a child’s pony? Is it a horse that you want to fall in love with an keep forever?  Obviously, once you buy the horse, your time frame might change.  For example, one of my clients went looking for a transition horse.  She wanted something to build her confidence, help her move up, and get her into showing.  We found a great horse in her price range for lease.  We only tried him once; we didn’t invest that much time in debating his long term value.  He was great for right now, and then he would go back in a year when she was ready to move on.  The time frame fit her goals and the horse was ready to do what she needed right then.  After a few months, we realized that the initial time frame was changing.  The horse surpassed our expectations and had a lot more to teach this rider.  As the horse’s muscle tone changed, his true talent emerged.  This one year transition horse turned into a horse suitable for at least 2-3 years, if not longer.   While a time frame is subject to change, it is a good thing to think about in conjunction with your goals.  Whether you want to sell a horse quickly or if you want to keep him/her forever, your time frame effects your “must have” list.
5. How much training are you willing to pay for?  If you are going to look for a horse with your trainer, make sure you are on the same page about the number of training rides, lessons, and time you are expecting from your trainer.  Some trainers will try to “up sell” to ensure a steady stream of income from the sale and after the sale.  Some trainers will only “allow” you to buy a horse that they want to ride.  Some trainers are absolutely wonderful and truly help you through the process.  I have seen many people rely solely on their trainer’s opinion and not trust their own gut/ignore their own wants.  I have seen many people completely ignore their trainer’s advice.  In both those scenarios, neither the trainer nor the client (nor the horse) ends up happy.  Be honest with your trainer about what you want from a horse.  Be honest about what you are willing to pay for.  And if your trainer shows you something that doesn’t fit your “must have” list- be honest!!  There are plenty of horses out there.  If you trainer is pushing you to buy a horse you aren’t comfortable with- be honest!!  There are plenty of trainers out there.  A good trainer will listen, help you build your “must have” list, and review each prospective horse with a critical (but not judgmental) eye.  When I was a junior, looking for my big show horse, I had the help of a great trainer.  She patiently showed me hundreds (no exaggeration) of horses.  We talked about each one- the pros, the cons, the feel, the look, the training.  I could ride all of potentials, but none of them were MINE.  When I finally found MY horse, my trainer and I (and the horse, too!) knew instantly.  He had been looking for his rider as long as I had been looking for my horse.  To this day, he is the only horse I could never sell.