Holiday Gift Guide for the Equestrian in Your Life

To be honest, it’s quite simple to shop for any horse-lover. If you stay along the lines of anything equine-related, you will usually be in a good place. But to get the creative juices flowing, here are a couple of ideas to get the equestrian in your life during this holiday season.

If your budget is $25 or less…

It’s not that you’re SOL, but the horse world is expensive. A smaller budget means less you can work with. With that said, there are still a ton of gifts that will still benefit your horse-lover.

  1. Socks. I know, this is silly, but socks are incredibly important for any equestrian. Socks come in all shapes and uses, so the possibilities are endless. Check out all these choices here
  2. If socks aren’t your thing, try looking into horse treats or other horse toys. These are incredibly useful tools for any horse owner, therefore your gift will go a long way.Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 8.02.59 PM.png
  3. For someone that doesn’t own or ride a horse, but is still an equine fanatic, I would recommend anything from a book about horses to a stuffed animal. There are so many choices of books and find a plush toy is as easy as walking into a toy store. Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 8.04.29 PM.png

If your budget is under $50…

  1. Polo wraps are a piece of tack that nearly every rider needs. You can never have enough polo wraps! Polos also come in fun colors, so they add extra flare to your gift.
  2. Speaking of horse wear, a nice nylon halter or a saddle pad is definitely in budget and can easily coordinate with new polo wraps!
  3. Although breeches might be too expensive in this price bracket, riding attire is never out of the question. Plenty of stores have stylish shirts, riding accessories, and jackets that are under $50. An equestrian can never have enough belts or UV riding shirts!

If you have all the money in the world to spend…

  1. This is where it gets fun! If I could ask for anything this holiday season, it would definitely be a tailspin (or horsehair) bracelet/keychain. These items are made from your horse’s tail hair and are hand made. I think these bracelets are stylish and are very sentimental. Honestly, any personalized jewelry for them and their horse will make their holiday season even better.
  2. Home decor. If I had money to spend, I would get each one of my horse friends a giant canvas of their horse to hang in their house. Just think, wouldn’t that be a dream come true? You could also get unique items like a horse shoe boot rack or some fun bookends.
  3. A photoshoot for them and their horse. Have you seen those gorgeous black backdrop photos? Or those beautiful photo shoots where the girl is kissing the horse’s nose? Well I have, and I know right now that I would DIE if someone bought me a photoshoot with my heart horse. Having pictures to cherish for the rest of my life about one of my favorite things would mean the world to me! 
  4. Depending on their discipline, breeches or riding jeans are always a good go-to. Since these can get expensive, buying a pair of riding pants will go a long way in an equestrian’s life. For that matter, buying higher priced items like a helmet, boots, bridles, and other necessary (but pricey) items will be the perfect gift!
  5. And how can I not add this? The best gift of all is a pony. 🙂 

In all seriousness, an equestrian will love whatever you give them. I wasn’t kidding when I talked about socks! I go through these things like nobody’s business, so a nice pair of riding socks are a lifesaver! And if you can’t afford a tailspin bracelet, a key chain with a horse figurine on it will do no wrong. Just remember, giving something from the heart will make it the perfect gift.

And don’t forget to take holiday shopping one stride at a time!

 

*I do not own any of these pictures

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The Golden Rules of Rehab

 

Remember when Raven was so lame that I took her to a specialty veterinarian, and he told me that she needed to be retired? Well, after 3 weeks after that moment, she was sound. So thank you, Raven, for always keeping me on my toes and never knowing what my life will give me.

…And that’s the first lesson of horses. And the first lesson of rehabilitation. Horses will never let you off easy. If they keep things interesting for us, might as well make it so we can keep it interesting for them…during their “off” season.

As a continuation of a post I wrote about combatting stall rest, I am continuing the conversation about rehab. Since that’s apparently something I am well-versed in (thank you, darling horse).

Before this year, Raven’s injuries were mainly hard tissue. This year, though, she hurt her lateral collateral ligament in her left front hoof (aka soft tissue) and something I’ve hardly dealt with. So cue my frustration because my horse literally never gives me a break.

To continue the story about rehab, lets start at the end of summer. So after she had about 6 months off, I moved her up to my new town, then we went lame again (yay love you Rae). Basically, my life is a bunch of I-dont-know-whats-going-on moments. But I think this is the second lesson of rehab. You honestly never know what is going on with them. We make these giant, beautiful creatures jump things and put their head in weird places, and guess what? Sometimes that makes them lame. So sometimes they’re sound; then they’re not. It could have been my fault, but it also could have been Raven…

When you have a horse, chances are you will spend a great deal of time hand walking them and praying to the soundness gods that your horse is magically sound. But, trust me, there are some golden rules of rehab.

The first is to make a plan…and stick to it! You know your horse, but your vet knows their physiology. LISTEN TO THEM.

The second is to make sure you don’t go crazy with all of this time off. I’m weird and go to the barn everyday, even if my horse is off, because if I don’t get to at least touch one horse a day, I go crazy. So do whatever floats your boat. Lease another horse, take lessons on the school horse, create silly obstacle courses for your horse to do, make them learn a trick. Honestly there is so much to do! Little activities you can do with your horse will keep you sane while also keeping their life interesting.

The third is to create a plan going forward. When Raven comes back from this injury, I know that she will no longer be able to do what I want. Knowing that I won’t be able to compete her kills me, but c’est la vie, right? Know your actions going forward with your horse, because that can also determine your rehab plan. If your horse hurt their suspensory for the 7th time, then maybe don’t let them continue hurting themselves and give them another job.

The fourth, and hardest rule, is to know when to stop. Sometimes horses have a funny way of telling you that they’re done. For Raven, it might be right now. For others, it might be throwing their rider over fence after fence. Being able to listen to your horse, and not your head, is the hardest part about rule number four.

Horses can be hard on us, but they’re cute, so its worth it. I will always treasure my competition horse-turned companion. I hope that one day I can have an easy ride on her, and I hope one day I can have another competition horse that won’t be so structurally flawed as she is so that I can actually compete. Maybe Raven will return to normal; maybe she’ll have a baby. There are so many opportunities when one door closes!

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But for now, I am going to take it one stride at a time and pray for a miracle!

Staying Cool When It’s God Awful Outside

It’s averaging about 107°F in my town right now and we’re expecting a major heat wave this weekend. There are no words to describe this type of heat, except for unbearably crazy. The are a couple good things about the weather, though.

  1. It gave me inspiration for this post, and
  2. I have a new appreciation for air conditioning

But for those days that you can’t spend 12 hours inside an air controlled building, I thought it would be a good idea to bring up some ways to beat the final days of drastic heat before it is fall and then we have to worry about how we will ride in 29°F weather!

First things first, invest in a huge, durable water bottle. I have a Nalgene and a Hydroflask, but my Hydroflask is smaller and I have to refill it about 5 times a day. If you’re going to be outside for long periods of time, the bigger the water bottle, the better. I’ve noticed that after awhile, water will taste good when you’re hot and sweaty no matter the temperature. If you want to spend $50 on a water bottle, get a 40 oz. Yeti or Hydroflask. If you want to spend $12, get a Nalgene. The most important thing about riding in the heat is to stay hydrated!

Another thing that helps with the heat are the long sleeve, UV protecting, sun shirts that you can buy at almost any horse supply store. Ariat, Kerrits, Noble Outfitters, Goode Rider, Kastel, Tuff Rider, and the list goes on, all make these shirts so there is no trouble finding what you need. It seems counterintuitive to wear a long sleeve shirt outside when its triple-digit heat, but these shirts are life savers. They’re made with cooling fabric and have a couple vents in them, so it feels like you’re riding with a tank top on. They also eliminate the need for sunscreen on your arms! I personally love riding in these shirts no matter the temperature.

On the subject of clothing, investing in some riding tights or breeches made of cooling fabric is never a bad choice. Actually, just buy everything in technical fabric. The magic moisture-wicking ways of these garments are by far the most amazing thing of the 21st century. You can buy socks, underwear, breeches, boots, bandanas, almost anything under the sun containing this awesome fabric.

There are also cooling vests, bandanas, headbands, and neck coolers that you can buy if you’re riding for long periods of time in crazy heat. You can soak these in cold water for a little bit and they will stay cool for hours! These are great investments if you’ll be spending the whole day riding outside.

Aside from cool clothing, there are a couple other things I swear by when I’m riding in the heat. First, never, ever, ever, take the heat as an excuse to not wear your helmet. The heat can bring on exhaustion faster than anything else, so you don’t want to be fainting on your horse with no head protection. Also, if you don’t feel well, don’t ride. Simple as that. Your horse is probably warm as well and can handle another day off.

If you do ride in the heat, try to choose the coolest hours of the day. Aka, the early morning or late evening. It’s also a good idea to properly cool yourself and your horse down. Obviously hosing them off is a good choice, but take extra care to walk them out as well. When it’s really hot outside, administering electrolytes to your horse (and you!) will help them combat any heat stress they have.

These are just a couple of thoughts for combatting the heat and still riding! If you want some more thoughts, let me know! Remember to just take your exercise one stride at a time, and stop if you or your horse doesn’t feel normal!

Discovering Other Disciplines

I am beginning another segment on my blog because I feel like it and it’s fun so here we go yay! It’s called latte horse talk. My attempt is to make it similar to coffee talk, where you just discuss interesting topics and see what happens. Today, I want to talk about different disciplines.

I started out my riding career as an event rider. I swore I thought I was so good at riding. When I started competing, I was 10 and I knew that I had a long way to go and a lot to learn before I was riding some serious fences, but I figured that staying with event trainers would land me there quickly. Boy, I REALLY had a long way to go, but it seemed completely doable. Honestly, it would have worked out. Staying in one discipline usually works just fine, but I had a bit of a different path.

Instead, I tried different things. Most of this happened when I went away to college. Not only did I experiment with jumpers, hunters, and dressage, but I also took classes about conformation, judging, and beginning western riding! I also took a halter breaking class (which I talk about in this blog post) and I learned a lot about horse behavior. Each class/experience I had gave me a bit to take into my own riding. I’d like to think I became a better rider because of it.

Even if you don’t want to step out of your comfort zone and do another discipline, try taking a lesson with another trainer! Sometimes they give you a solution to a problem you’ve been having forever. One of the first times I rode with a different trainer, I asked why my horse kept doing running after the fence over and over again and I felt like I was falling forward whenever I would try to half halt. I swear it seems like the simplest solution now, but she casually said try keeping your leg on. I know, I know, it’s like the easiest thing to do and for years I didn’t have it in my head to do it. But now, I will never forget that and my half halts are so darn good it’s insane!

If you’re looking to get better at your riding, or looking for a fun adventure, try other disciplines. Compete in a jumper class if you’re a dressage person. Sit on a reiner and try a spin or two. Heck, just take a lesson from a different trainer. Trust me.

Because you learn amazing things along the way!

Okay cool, well I hope it works out then. Just take your learning experience one stride at a time and it will all work out!

 

 

Moving Barns

In exactly 2 weeks I will have an MBA in general management. In exactly 2 weeks, I will leave the town I’ve called my home for 5 years and relocate to a city I’ve never lived in and be pushed entirely out of my comfort zone.

On top of that, Raven isn’t coming with me. Well, she’s going up to the new area eventually, but I just haven’t found a place for her yet. I’m hesitant to move her to a barn without seeing it first and talking to the people that board there for a very important reason. Most barns will grossly fall short of your expectations.

I wish this wasn’t the case, but unfortunately many establishments have major cracks in their business. Sometimes the footing isn’t right, the barns have old wood that look on the verge of falling apart, the hay is bad, there’s no pasture space, the list can go on. So, while I go on this journey, I thought it is important to remind myself (and whoever is on the same quest for a perfect barn) of what to look for in your new horse’s home.

  1. Price of board and services. This is a perfect time to dust off the ol’ computer and do some research of the area. When I lived in Sonoma County, it was unheard of to have board under $600, but SLO has board priced around $400. This drastic difference can severely limit your options, especially if you don’t want to pay more than a couple hundred. It’s important to get some number on cost of living and average board rates in the area.
  2. Types of horse housing. It’s also important to know the options you have to board your horse. For instance, some only include pasture boarding, but my mare would most likely kill every other horse if she had to be in a pasture. Knowing the housing situation will also help you determine what you can afford.
  3. Quality of feed. This is probably one of the most important things. Bad quality hay means an angry colon which leads to a colicky horse. No one wants a sick horse, so make sure the food is good. If you still want to board somewhere that has bad hay, be willing to haul in your own.
  4. Additional services. When I had my horse at the first barn I rode at, blanketing and turnouts were included. I moved, and everything changed. Most barns don’t include services like that in the normal rate. Figure this out in order to know what services you need and how much you’ll be paying.
  5. Training policy. Some barns don’t allow outside trainers to come work with you. That means you’ll have to trailer your horse to your coach’s facility.

This is a working list and is definitely not exhaustive. I try to be open to looking at barns, especially when I don’t know the area and if the website looks outdated. It’s important to remember to communicate with people, too. Talking to the barn manager, talking to the trainer onsite, and talking to the boarders will really help you get a feel for the barn. Also, remember that you can say no and if you make the mistake of barding somewhere that you end up not liking, you can leave at any time. While the horse business is more like a community, it can be difficult to leave. However, remember that these facilities are businesses and there will be no hard feelings. Just do what’s best for your horse!

 

Happy searching! Remember to take things one stride at a time!

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It’s Simple.

Whenever I have a lesson, it always goes the same. I start by warming up. Raven always feels good, with some room for improvement, but that’s what a lesson is for, right? We start warming up over jumps and it’s easy to see that we only jump once a week. We’re slow to remember everything we have to do to have a good jump. My mind starts telling me to pay attention to my leg, then my seat, then my upper body, but I also need to keep Rae straight to the jump otherwise her shoulder pops out…the list goes on. Soon, I get frazzled by everything I need to do and then I just become a mindless rider because my brain is too preoccupied with what I need to do instead of what I’m actually doing.

But this probably happens for 10 minutes, and then my trainer comes to the rescue. She always says the simplest things to get me back on track. If my shoulder start slumping forward, she simply tells me to focus on my lower leg. I don’t understand how it works, but soon my whole body is doing what I want it to do as soon as I just focus on my leg. Then, she’ll mention the outside rein and voila! Raven is straight and perfect over every jump. My lesson ends perfectly with things I need to work on before next week.

I swear, this happens every time I have a lesson. And my trainer isn’t telling me things I don’t know, she’s just reminding me of things to do that I temporarily forget. But this is what I want to talk about today: simplicity.

Simplicity while riding is a life-saver. I get so bogged down trying to remember to keep my body a certain way and to keep contact like this and to make sure my toes are pointed forward at all times and to basically be a perfect rider. I have honestly struggled with this for as long as I can remember.

But recently, I’m trying something new. Each ride, I focus on only one thing and try to work only on that. Or if I’m struggling with the right lead change, or Raven’s shoulder is popping out, or I can’t get my left leg yield, I simply exhale and start from scratch. Honestly, this has helped tremendously. Focusing on one aid at a time can significantly improve your ride. This is because both you and your horse will be more relaxed, and you will become a more effective rider.

I can provide a list of examples for this. One while ago, my horse was not listening to my half halts after a jump. Whenever I needed to get her back to her collected canter, she would just ignore me for about a second too long and then our next jump would be ugly. It was so frustrating! Finally, my trainer told me to engage my core and keep my upper body back. It worked phenomenally. Not only was my horse more responsive to my half halts, but our canter was more balanced. Or last week, my horse WAS NOT listening to my leg. She wanted to go, by all means she was basically galloping, but she just wanted to go her own speed. Then, I just repositioned my leg so my toes were straighter and my heels weren’t in her side, and there was a 100% difference. These little changes ended up making a huge impact on our ride.

Let’s also look at what happens when you don’t focus on one thing. (I have a lot of examples for this, too.) We’ve all had those rides where, for the life of you, nothing is going right. Just everything you do leads to more frustration and your horse isn’t listening, and you’re just sitting there like omg Raven, just get your life together. Well, most of the time, it’s completely my fault. I’m usually leaning forward, with my spurs dug into her (accidentally!), and somehow gripping with my knees. At this point, I usually realize what’s going on and try to fix all of it at the same time. But then I’m so focused on these three things, I don’t realize that my horse is going down the side of the arena as crooked as can be and that’s why we’re not getting our extension. If I would have just changed my leg, then worried about everything else later, it’s simpler to catch your faults early on.

Raven also suffers if I try to change everything because I’m preoccupied with things I need to work on and stressed out that we’re not doing anything right. If I just focus and simplify, I can relax. Not only will she relax because I am, but she will be relaxed because there isn’t an abrupt change.

Simplicity doesn’t just affect your riding style; it can also affect your tack. I had this friend at the barn a while back that would constantly change her bit. These would be drastic changes, too, like a hackamore to a snaffle, to an elevator, to a myler. Her poor horse had no consistency and their riding immediately suffered. Her horse would throw her, toss his head, just about anything tracing back to the complexity of her tack. It was terrible to see, mostly because it was easy to tell how frustrated the both of them were! Finally, when she came to her senses, the horse calmed down.

I’ve done this, too. Raven used to flat out drag me around the cross country course. We quick jumped from a snaffle to a Pelham within a month after I got her. Around the same time, we also had a problem with her opening her mouth, so we obviously thought a flash would help. Fast forward a couple of years, and the Pelham works wonders! She’s also not opening her mouth, but she’s having a hard time relaxing while I’m riding. We could never figure it out, until I had an epiphany and decided to take the flash off. She was suddenly a different horse.

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We tried a snaffle for our first jumper show and it did. not. work.pictures1 307

So, we moved to the Pelham. (You can see that we had the flash in both cases, so we made it a simple transition.)

This doesn’t work for everyone, but it does work for about half of horses. Having a running martingale with a flash and a 3-ring with spurs might not be the best choice for your horse. Sometimes, a simple bridle, a bit, and one pair of reins is all they need.

So, just try to take a deep breath, simplify your aids, and don’t worry about being perfect. Your horse will be thankful that you try to improve and will also be more relaxed that you make tiny improvements. Simplicity also comes from focusing and relaxing. If you feel overwhelmed, half of the time you probably feel that your ride is becoming to complex. Rides are simple, just take things one stride at a time.

Why I Ride

I don’t ride my horse to be perfect at something. I ride because it’s who I am.

I was 6 years old when I decided that horses must be in my life. I had my mom, my dad, my teachers (basically a lot of people) tell me that I couldn’t do it or that I couldn’t afford it or that I wouldn’t have time for it. I had a lot of people tell me no, so why did I say, actually yes?

Honestly, I don’t really have an answer. Riding horses was always a no-brainer for me. I might not be the best at it, I might not have the money or time to quickly move up in show competitions, but I still persevere. I keep it in my life because the feeling of sitting on a horse is the most liberating feeling. You have control over a 1200 lb. animal with the ability to go anywhere and do anything.

I can also say that horses teach lots. There’s so much you learn about communication, responsibility, perseverance, discipline, and love that you can’t really learn from another sport, animal, or person. My horse taught me so much about interpersonal skills and the importance of humility. She also taught me that I need to be for her every single day, just like she is for me. She taught me that I need to take care of her, just like she takes care of me. We have created a team, and that is probably one of the best feelings ever.

So why do I ride?

I ride because it’s who I am. I feel free, I feel alive, I feel like myself.

Time for some spring cleaning…of bad habits

It’s that time of year again. The weather is better, horses can stretch their legs, you aren’t in the mud all the time. It’s also when your horse’s energy is sky high and their ground manners could probably use a good brushing up. I wrote a post similar to this (here’s the link), but let’s review the basics so your horse isn’t constantly dragging you to the nearest grassy patch.

Just like riding, horses benefit from assertive handlers. There is no need to be aggressive or try to “man-handle” them, but just emulate Beyonce’s confidence and you’ll be good. A horse with superb ground manners also respects their handler. Along with being assertive, create a give and take relationship. Allowing your horse rewards for their good behavior only leads to better things, so feel free to let up on the pressure, give them a cookie, or give them a pat whenever you think they are listening to you!

Now that you’re as confident as Queen Bey, let’s choose a method of training. While I cannot say enough things about Clinton Anderson’s Method, some horses will do better with other training. Versions you can use include other methods of natural horsemanship or just the good ol’ fashioned stud chain and whip. You can even mix and match these training forms; you don’t need to choose just one! Whatever you choose, allow room for some trial and error, because your horse might suddenly decide she doesn’t like it anymore when you use a carrot stick.

Practicing these methods can sometimes be the worst. I don’t know about you, but I’m almost as impatient for results as a dog waiting for a treat. But this is actually one of the most important parts. Consistency with your training is key. If you don’t practice, you won’t have a responsive horse. This means that you need to take your horse for a walk every single day and you need to make them back up every single time they don’t stop when you stop.

Ok so now we that we have the boring stuff out of the way, time to get into the actual training. No matter the method you choose, the fundamentals behind ground manners stems down to having a responsive horse. Doing different exercises with them using different tools will achieve this result. The bottom line is to keep your horse mentally and physically engaged, aka listening to you, so that they won’t feel like they can do your own thing.

  1. Start with the simplest exercise. When you’re walking your horse, stop and make them halt. The key here is they must stop with you. Don’t let them stop ahead, don’t let them stop when they feel like, don’t let them stop and whip around to eat grass, and especially don’t let them stop with their hindquarters facing you. If they don’t halt at or behind your shoulder, make them back up until they are in the desired location. This implies that they must work when you tell them, and work until they get to the place they are supposed to be in. As soon as they respond and do what they’re asked, give them rest, to signify they did a good job.
  2. Another exercise to do on ground is similar to the first: having them back up. Just making your horse back a few steps when you tell them to shows that you are assertive enough to tell them what you want. This is also a good tool if you feel like they aren’t listening to you. The trick to making this an effective tool relies on you keeping your feet planted, so that you don’t walk with them to back up. This is a serious learning curve, and might involve you breaking this rule to initially teach them to back, but it’s so freakin’ effective. By you planting your feet, and making them back, you’re telling them that you have the only control in this relationship.
  3. A good thing to teach them is your personal space. If they are too close to you, you can get in serious danger if they get scared of something. Make sure they keep about a 2 foot space away from you. You don’t want them giving you flat tires every 5 feet, anyway!

And of course, ask your trainer, read up on methods, or ask me for more information! There’s tons more exercises you can do to improve your ground manners, and your relationship with your horse.

 

 

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Now Raven can even ground tie!

 

Remember to just take everything one stride at a time and you’re golden 🙂

 

Interested in 3-Day Eventing?

 

 

Oh my, where to start. This sport has so much to talk about!

Eventing is not for the faint of heart. While eventing is ridiculously fun, it is also takes a ton of discipline and learning. I miss it, and after you’re done reading this post, you’ll understand why everyone is addicted to it as I am.

3 day eventing incorporates 3 phases – dressage, show jumping, and cross country – over a course of 3 days with at least one phase each day. During the show, you are mentally and physically tested, and it’s the most rewarding experience. One of the best parts of eventing is that all equestrians can do it. The energy and people behind eventing is  very inclusive. This is what makes the sport truly enjoyable, the feeling that everyone is connected and spirited about the same thing.

Before I get all kumbaya on you, I wanted to briefly explain each phase.

Dressage is what I always call the building blocks of eventing. If your horse can’t respond to the simplest of commands in dressage, you will not excel in the other two phases. Here, you ride a test, depending on your level, to display the horse’s responsiveness to cues. Don’t worry about the fancy moves — worry more about suppleness, rhythm, and your geometry. The judge will score you on how accurately you do the test, but also these qualities.

Now on to stadium jumping. This was my trainer’s favorite phase, and I never understood why until now. Stadium jumping is very technical because you need all the same qualities as dressage while navigating a course. Your horse must be willing to give you their head, adjust their stride, and pick up their feet! You’re being judged on how quickly you go through the course, so purely time, but you get a better score if you don’t knock any poles or have any refusals. Your course will also have a higher quality ride if you have a responsive horse, like I mentioned, allowing you to have a faster time.

Next is my favorite, cross country. Here is where your horse’s bravery, and your’s, is tested. You are literally galloping and jumping over natural obstacles for about 10 minutes straight. If you are an adrenaline junky, this phase is for you! Anything can happen while out on this course, making it the most dangerous out of all of the phases – and the most controversial. The USEF, USEA, and other organizations are working to make this safer for horses and riders, but don’t let that interfere with your interest for this sport. If you are safe, aware, and responsible when you ride, you should love it!

All three phases make up this beautiful sport, but there is so much more to it! The eventing community is one of the nicest I have ever been a part of. This sport also exposes you to multiple disciplines, allowing you to deviate or move between different areas and try something new.

There are lots of reasons to try eventing. But the best reason of them all is that you develop one of the strongest bonds with your horse. I know Raven will have my back every time we’re on the cross country course. I know she’s going to stay collected and focused through every dressage test. And lastly, I know she’s enjoying her ride as much as I am.

If you have any questions, want to know more about the sport, or just want to talk, feel free to contact me! You can also read more about it on the USEA website, Eventing Nation, or contact some eventing trainers in your area. Now get out there and kick some butt!

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Senior Pictures with Horses: How-To

I recently graduated from college and….ohmygosh I’m an alum!! So weird to think about, but I’m so happy I now have a bachelors. Even though I will no longer be in college, I still will post tips and college experiences, because well, because college is really damn hard.

Since I just finished a huge task, aka mastering the science of animals, I decided to take some beautiful pictures to mark the monumental feat. Since there aren’t many senior picture examples with horses, I thought I’d share the photos that I had done. I didn’t take any of these photos (obviously…), so I give all credit to my amazing photographer, Asia Croson! If you are looking for a bad-ass photographer to bring out the best in you, I linked her website; you can find her here.

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I originally booked a session with 3 different locations. I did the first two locations with just me at the beach and on top of a hill. If you’d like to see those, and the different poses that came along with them, comment below! These are from the last session I had.

Anyway, I love this photo because of the trees. They look so daunting, and really emphasizes that Raven and I are on this journey together. Which is completely representative of our relationship through college, and even through the 7 years that we’ve been a team. Plus we look like we’re dominating the world.

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And of course we had to get a couple shots in the grass, so she can chow down! Playing around with the sun and how you’re positioned in relation to your horse really makes the portraits interesting. Even though my beautiful town is more brown than green, I love the contrast between her dark coat and the golden grass. Whenever I get pictures taken, I always try to angle my body and move my limbs so I don’t look awkward. It’s hard to master, but practice in front of the mirror or something if you’re worried about it!

These two are beautiful. This is the exact reason I wanted a professional photographer with me. They know how to capture the sunlight in the best way. I  absolutely love that I am casually focused on the railing while everything else is slightly unfocused! Having your horse in the background will not only put the spotlight on you, but also showcase your love for horses, in an artistic and adorable way.

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Like the cover photo, I just had to get some photos of us with my graduation attire! The cover photo has me wearing the sash, but I also put it on Rae. Play around with your props, like your cap and sash, because it makes the photos more interesting and unique.

I LOVE these! I saw pictures of some people signing a heart on their horse like I’m doing here, and I just had to do it! These are some of my faves (I feel like I saw that with every portait…) because she looks so content and happy. You can just see the strong bond we have with each other.

I also brought my best friend along to appear in some photos. She and I have been riding together for almost 12 years, so I figured it would be cute and fun to have her with my horse. They kind of turned out like our engagement photo, but I don’t care!!  I love the ones where we’re resting on the railing, because you can see our jewelry. We decided to wear pieces that had meaning for us.

I also got some photos of how I decorated my cap. I am in love with them because its somewhat original and totally applicable to my life (I am doing the MBA program in the fall).

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Lastly, I wanted to talk about your outfit/props/makeup and stuff to be thinking about when you do your pictures. Since my horse is black, I wanted my outfit to be light colored. I chose a simple white tank top, jeans, and boots because I wear an outfit similar to this everyday and because it complemented my horse. When you choose your outfit, make sure you are comfortable and confident. The same is for makeup, except you could get away with exaggerating. I wore three times as much makeup as normal, curled my hair to enhance my natural curls, and wore fake eyelashes. With all of this, everything looks pretty natural, right? Just keep that in mind 🙂

Just as a disclaimer, most of these photos are completely candid. I thought of poses on the spot that I thought would look cute, but I literally had no idea what I was doing. That’s where Asia saved my life. She made me feel so comfortable goofing around and having fun.

I hope these pictures provide some inspiration with your upcoming photoshoot with your horse! I know I had a blast and they turned out better than expected.  I will always have these pictures to remember me and my girl, and I am forever thankful to have her.

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On that note, did anyone have a similar experience with graduate pictures?