Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Review: SmartPak's Piper Breeches

For Christmas this year, I put two pairs of breeches on my wish list: the SmartPak Original Knee Patch Pipers and the Dover Riding Sport Knee Patch Event Breeches. Both breeches I got, and both breeches I had to exchange. The returns and exchanges were easy for both pairs.

The exchange for both pairs went like this:
1. Filled out the exchange forms and sent them back.
2. Received a call that since it was the busy season, the exchange might take a while. I told them it was okay.
3. My breeches came in the mail!

The first thing you will notice about these breeches is that they are freaking adorable.


I got them in the navy/turquoise, so they are a beautiful, dark, rich navy blue with bright turquoise stitching on the knee patches, piping on the pockets, and the signature SmartPak logo.

They also have the best thing ever invented aka SOCK BOTTOMS. These soft, stretchy bottoms start right below the knee patches. I'm 5'1" so breeches are usually a little long on me, so the stretchy material scrunches up around my ankles, which is way better that the velcro that cuts into my ankle bone. 

Not the best picture, but you get the idea.

Let's talk about fit for a second: To start with, I have a pretty hourglass figure, but I have thick thighs and a bit of a muffin top. But hey, we can't all be perfect! I like mid-rise or "natural fit" breeches, because they sit comfortably over my stomach. The original Pipers fit perfectly, flattering my stomach and keeping everything contained while being stretchy enough to be comfortable. As for my thighs, the Pipers are stretchy enough to be comfortable, but they're tight enough to still be flattering. They also have the Euro-seat, which is a nice touch.

These Pipers also have a 2" wide belt loops, which are my favorite. They're the perfect width for my C4 Belts, which are, as we all know, the best equestrian belts. I think they're also more comfortable than the 1" belts, which tend to be pinchy and unflattering. 

The last part of these breeches I want to mention is the material of the Pipers. They are stretchy, but tight enough to be flattering (repetitive, I know). A loose breech is a fashion faux-pas for sure, and nobody likes that (the exception being male riders). I really like this material: it's cool enough for the summer but warm enough for the winter. 

It's also pretty stain resistant. You know how I found this out? Because my horse is an idiot, and I'm cursed. Every single time I ride in a new product (breeches, boots, helmet, etc.), I fall off, either the first ride or one of the next rides. Well, these guys were no different. 

video

Beau spooked at a tarp and bucked me off. These breeches, while covered in dirt from landing on my hip, cleaned up fairly well just brushing off the dirt, and still look brand new! I rode in them again last week and they were just as comfortable and nice as I remembered.

I definitely plan on getting another pair of these - they're too nice to have just one, and I love all the colors. 

Try the Pipers, smile, and have fun!

-UEquestrian


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Coming Home



Tomorrow, I’ll be leaving the campus of my current college, let’s call it College A for now, for the last time. I’ll make the six hour long drive home with my mom and grandma, who are the absolute best for coming to get me. In case you didn’t know, this was my freshman year of college. So, the question begs, why am I not coming back to College A?

I chose to go to College A for a few reasons.

One, I love to travel, and I wanted to go out of state for a while, kind of learn who I am when I’m not with my family (Now: I hate not being with my family and friends).

Two, it was a good choice for my intended major, global studies and/or political science (Now: I’m studying marketing).

Three, I loved the campus (Now: Don’t visit college campuses when school is not in session. The people make the campus).

So, as you can see, my reasons for choosing College A in spring 2016 are no longer valid in spring 2017. There were also a couple of other reasons as to why I wanted to leave, but those aren't things I want to talk about on here.

This brings me to College B. Ironically, in spring 2016, I was adamant I didn’t want to attend College B. All – well, most – of my family had gone there; it was too close to home; I wanted to be different. Blah, blah, blah, basically I was stubbornly against what my family wanted, even though they had the best of intentions.

So why did I choose to transfer to College B? Well, for one, it is very close to my family. One of the original reasons why I shied away from it, this is now one of the most important aspects of College B. Then, there’s also the fact that it is one of the best colleges in my state, and I can get a great education there. And lastly, what you’ve all been waiting for, it brings me closer to my horse.

So, how does all of this relate to this blog, which is pretty obviously an equestrian one? Well, College A had a lot of things. It also lacked a lot of things, one of which was my horse. I honestly believe that if I had had my horse with me, I would have stuck it out at College A. No matter how stressed you are, no matter how much crap you go through, if you have your best friend with you, you can survive anything.

Today, someone on social media asked the question, “If you had to describe the feeling you have when you’re with your horse, what one word would you use?” Now, obviously, there’s a lot of answers you could use. Some of the ones in the comments included: free, happy, euphoric, confident, and more.

But there was one word that stuck out in my mind: home.

What is it about a horse that makes you feel like you are home? What makes you feel as if you never left? Is it the bond between horse and rider? The gentle nudge of a muzzle on your shoulder that seems to say, “It’s okay, I still love you,” no matter what happens? Is it the wonder that such a wild and huge creature could come to completely trust you, a human, who makes mistakes, who screws up, who asks why they’re different from everybody else?

Perhaps it’s because when you are with a horse, you are stripped down to your most basic form. There is no College A or College B, or stress at school, or work, or home. There’s no hating on yourself (at least there shouldn’t be!), no wondering why you’re different, no time to think the deep thoughts.

There’s only you. The horse. The communication and bond. The original survival instincts to run faster, work harder, push yourself more but to know when to slow, steady, and rest.

So, what does College B have that College A doesn’t? I think it’s a home. Whether that’s my family, my friends, or my horse, I know that I’ll be better off having found my home, even if it took me a year to realize that my home was really my home all along!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

My Riding Story | 2012 - 2017

So while I could totally write this story out for you, I made a Youtube video that you can watch instead, so you can really see the difference!

Make sure to subscribe if you haven't already and check out the links in the description below the video!



Enjoy!

- UEquestrian

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Easter Break Ride Recap (Long Post - 4 Days Worth!)

This is a recap of my riding on my Easter Break (so that's Thursday through Monday!) It's a long post, but there is plenty to keep you interested if you have the time. Enjoy!

Savings Alert: SmartPak is offering 50% off your first month of SmartPaks with the code SPaks50!

Thursday:
(I had already posted Thursday but decided to repost it with all the other days instead of making seperate posts.)
Last week I had my last break of the school year for Easter, a 5 day weekend. I rode 3 days of the break and went to the barn for another day to watch and take pictures of my dad and Beau. It was certainly an interesting weekend!

Gotta rep for South Farm
Thursday:
My ride on Thursday was all about gaining confidence again, as I hadn't ridden in quite a while. We rode inside, as it was off and on raining and chillier than I wanted.

As I was grooming him, he was kicking the tack stall walls, pawing and generally misbehaving, so I decided to take him down to the indoor arena and lunge him to get all his wiggles out. On the way down he went full racehorse mode, jogging beside me and spooking at random times. Once I got him down to the arena, I had barely clipped on the lunge line when he exploded out away from me (thankfully he knows better than to run towards me). I let him run around for a while until he calmed down. 

I opened the door to take him back up to tack up and guess who decided to spook again? My lovely idiot. At least I think I figured out what was making him grumpy, as there was a water spout that was going full blast on side of the barn. I let him graze as I turned it off to turn it into a good experience, then took him back to tack up!

Doofus
Before I tacked, I borrowed a drill from the guy who was working on the water pipes to desensitize Beau, who did well with it (I just let him smell it and let him get accustomed to the sound). After I walked him back down to the arena, I lunged him again (he did well) and popped on.

Our ride was all about letting me get confident on his crazy butt again, which means I did a lot of walking, serpentines, and bending. After I was comfortable at the walk (probably about 15-20 minutes), I took him up to the trot, did a bunch of bending and serpentines, and discovered that he was going very well! I finished with a very small amount of nice canter and was happy with that!

I also popped out to the tack store near us to pick up tack cleaner, sponges, and a lunge line. Our lunge line had apparently snapped (how??), and I like having a colorful, cotton lunge line that I can see in the arena dust. Our tack was disgusting, as I hadn't cleaned it in months so I needed some sponges to do that and I spotted the Lexol 3-in-1, which I wanted to try (let me know if you want a review!). 

Friday:
Friday was a fun day for us! It was a beautiful day outside, and I decided that we needed to ride in the outdoor. It was our second ride outside this year, and as our first ride was the one where Beau dumped me, I wasn't feeling the most confident about it.

s p a r k l e
I was determined to make this a great ride, so I put everything I had into keeping relaxed and keeping him relaxed. I popped him on the lunge line, and he was barely moving (aka he was chill).

I hopped on and spent a good amount of time warming him up, walking him around the entire ring, especially the area where he spooked the last time. After I knew he didn't care about the things outside the ring, I pushed him up into the trot. My focus at the trot was to keep him in front of my leg and bending. He was annoyingly wobbly (or I was overcorrecting, who knows?), but he listened well and we ended with a pretty good trot.

As we were working on the trot, another horse left the ring, which I was worried about, as he used to care a lot about that, but he actually did really well and continued paying attention. I kept working on the trot, doing lots of circles and big serpentines. My plan for this ride was to keep him 1) paying attention, 2) in front of my leg, and 3) bending and stretching. I was so proud as he did all three, really well.

Throwback (dat giraffe face, tho)
To work on the canter, I knew I wanted to work on the right side first, as that is his hard side, so I like to kind of "get it out of the way" first. Surprisingly, his right lead canter was absolutely perfect. It was quiet and bending, but also forward in front of my leg (but not running). I flipped directions, established a good trot (because he tends to go straight to the canter once I switch directions), and asked for the canter. He gave me a very vertical moving canter and threw in some crow hops for fun, but once I pushed him forward, he gave me his normal soft, forward moving canter.

I ended my canter work and walked him out for half a lap before hopping off and unsaddling him to get back on bareback to cool him out. I haven't ridden bareback in a while and he is definitely much more couch and much less giant spine!

This ride was weird because everything I got was the opposite of what I expected. I expected his right canter to be worse than his left, nope. I expected him to react to the horse leaving, nope. I expected him to have some "spring fever," nope.

It just goes to show that you can't expect anything with horses, and that adaptability is important in working with them.

Saturday: 
Saturday was actually my dad's day to ride. He hadn't ridden all week either (much thanks to our leaser for keeping Beau from going stir-crazy), so he was due. So, I grabbed my camera and prepped to play the part of the daughter-groom.

Beau was...hyper....to say the least.

He doesn't look crazy, does he?
Dad started off by lunging Beau. I thought he looked fine and pretty quiet, but apparently, Dad saw something I didn't and kept lunging. Beau did get a teeny bit frisky, but nothing compared to what I've seen before. He said he wasn't paying attention and listening.

Dad was right. He hopped on, and Beau was good at the walk but very "look-y" at everything in the indoor (it was supposed to rain). As soon as he went up to the trot, Beau was in the "ooh-look-at-me-I-can-still-go-fast" stage. He wasn't being bad, per say, just fast. Fast equals hard to get to go forward (forward is not the same as speed), hard to bend, and generally hard to work with.

Aesthetic.
Dad worked with Beau on serpentines, circles, changes of bend, figure eights, lateral work; basically, anything to get Beau's feet moving and his mind thinking. His trot calmed down a tiny bit. Dad asked Beau for the canter, and although it was also quite fast, it was (mostly) controllable. In the canter, Dad also focused on bending and controlling his feet and hind end.

Baby jump, big hops!
Once that was controllable, they moved to jumping. Starting over a cross-rail, the goal of jumping was to stay controlled. They then moved on to a low 18" vertical line, getting it in a tight four strides or a long 3 strides (I think), a rolltop around 2'-2'3" and a white gate around 2'. There were plenty of circles between jumps. Once they had those jumps down, I put the line up to about 2'9, a pole over the rolltop to make it about 2'6-2'9, and turned the cross rail into a 2'6-2'9 vertical. They spent a while on the course, and then ended by working on getting good striding for the line.

Ughh blurry, but major hops!
My Bubba is such a cutie!
They finished with some walking, a rinse off, and a walk up and down the driveway, our preferred way to dry him off after a rinse. He got plenty of treats and turned out, where he promptly ran around and bucked and played in the field. Crazy, but happy!

Sunday:
Easter - no riding!

Monday:
Monday was not the day I was expecting. I really wanted to jump, as I hadn't in months, but, alas, it was not meant to be.

He must lick my hand at all times.
When I got to the barn, Beau's ridiculously cute face was waiting in the pasture for me. I brought him in, and he was in a great mood, quiet but not sleepy (because that's a sign that he's crazy). When I groom him, I pretty much always do a check on his legs, because I'm a worrywart horse mom and because it's good to do. I found a bump about the size of a quarter, hard but not hot.

noooooo
I grabbed one of the awesome people who's always at the barn to get her opinion. At first she thought it was a suspensory (kill me now), but eventually, we both agreed it was a splint. I trotted him out and he wasn't lame so I continued tacking up to ride. Of course, there was no way I was going to jump him on it, so I was kinda annoyed at this point, but determined to have a good ride.

Bump = splint
Our ride was actually pretty fantastic. He was quiet and behaving, bending when I asked him to, which is always good. We did a half hour ride at the walk and trot, working mainly on my position since I didn't want to push him too much, which I don't do too often. I worked on the sitting trot, my diagonals (because I have a problem), and just generally trying to polish up my equitation. I tried to canter him, but he only went vertical (not rearing, just doing his weird not moving forward canter). Normally, I would have pushed him forward, but I wasn't sure if he was just being rude or in pain so I let him be. We cooled out and I put him away to chill out in his stall.

Old pic but still cute
Texting my vet and dad confirmed that it was 99.9% definitely a splint. Of course, at this point, I had to go pack to get to the airport on time for my evening flight back to school. Nothing like knowing your baby is hurt and having to go 300 miles away. He's doing great though. We're getting an x-ray to see how serious it is, but he's sound to keep working on the flat.

Enjoy riding, smile, and have fun!

-UEquestrian

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Rolex Red Carpet: Eventing Divas!

Today was the first day of the Best Weekend All Year! I was able to live stream most of the jog, excepting a few riders (class is overrated anyways). I love seeing all the riders dressed up and the horses groomed to a perfect shine. It was a blustery day, and the riders and horses were definitely feeling the spring air. All of the girls' hair was blowing in the wind, so there was quite a movie-like scene. Pink seemed to be a big theme this year!

**Photos were taken off of Facebook or Eventing Nation. If you would like a photo taken down, please contact me at eventerat14@gmail.com. Enjoy!

Katie Ruppel's blue dress was so modern and sleek, and the pink collar gave it an extra sparkle. Her pink flats were colorful but practical.
Photo by Eventing Nation.
I absolutely loved Madeline Backus's bright copper-red hair against her understated navy blue dress. Her black boots added a stylish edge.
Photo by Eventing Nation.
Will Faudree made an impression in a bright white, clean, crisp suit paired with black boots (from my days working in the boot store, I can guess these are caimen or gator boots).
Photo by Practical Horseman
Allie Sackson looked downright elegant in a periwinkle dress with a small, cream derby hat which paired perfectly with her spotless grey, Sparrow's Nio.
Image may contain: 1 person, tree, sky and outdoor
Photo by Michelle Dunn.
Phillip Dutton sported a baseball cap for about the only thing that I'd be okay with - for #TeamLeeLee, paired with a tailored suit and a pink tie.
Photo by Practical Horseman
Rachel McDonough's dotted tea dress was stunning, and her tie-up flats added an extra element of style.
Photo by Eventing Nation.
Bobby Meyerhoff's red coat and gray pants made a classic combination in what made me think of a not-so-subtle nod to foxhunting.
Image may contain: 2 people, horse and outdoor
Photo from Ryan Davis Photography
Matt Brown may be one of the only people who can pull off a plaid tie with a plaid jacket with a plaid cap but it works in shades of complementary gray.
Image may contain: one or more people, horse and outdoor
Photo by Michelle Dunn.
Last but not least, Jolie Wentworth was darling in a pretty spring floral dress and nude flats.
Image may contain: 1 person, sky, horse, outdoor and nature
Photo by Michelle Dunn.

Horse Mention:

Caroline Martin's Spring Easy made such a statement I had to mention his shiny, light chestnut coat.
Photo by Eventing Nation.
Who made the biggest fashion statement to you?

Watch Rolex, smile, and have fun!

-UEquestian

Edit: The mistakenly labeled Rachel McDonough has been corrected. My apologies! 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Easter Break Ride Recap: Crazy Thursday

Last week I had my last break of the school year for Easter, a 5 day weekend. I rode 3 days of the break and went to the barn for another day to watch and take pictures of my dad and Beau. It was certainly an interesting weekend!

Gotta rep for South Farm
Thursday:
My ride on Thursday was all about gaining confidence again, as I hadn't ridden in quite a while. We rode inside, as it was off and on raining and chillier than I wanted.

As I was grooming him, he was kicking the tack stall walls, pawing and generally misbehaving, so I decided to take him down to the indoor arena and lunge him to get all his wiggles out. On the way down he went full racehorse mode, jogging beside me and spooking at random times. Once I got him down to the arena, I had barely clipped on the lunge line when he exploded out away from me (thankfully he knows better than to run towards me). I let him run around for a while until he calmed down. 

I opened the door to take him back up to tack up and guess who decided to spook again? My lovely idiot. At least I think I figured out what was making him grumpy, as there was a water spout that was going full blast on side of the barn. I let him graze as I turned it off to turn it into a good experience, then took him back to tack up!

Doofus
Before I tacked, I borrowed a drill from the guy who was working on the water pipes to desensitize Beau, who did well with it (I just let him smell it and let him get accustomed to the sound). After I walked him back down to the arena, I lunged him again (he did well) and popped on.

Our ride was all about letting me get confident on his crazy butt again, which means I did a lot of walking, serpentines, and bending. After I was comfortable at the walk (probably about 15-20 minutes), I took him up to the trot, did a bunch of bending and serpentines, and discovered that he was going very well! I finished with a very small amount of nice canter and was happy with that!

I also popped out to the tack store near us to pick up tack cleaner, sponges, and a lunge line. Our lunge line had apparently snapped (how??), and I like having a colorful, cotton lunge line that I can see in the arena dust. Our tack was disgusting, as I hadn't cleaned it in months so I needed some sponges to do that and I spotted the Lexol 3-in-1, which I wanted to try (let me know if you want a review!). 

Ride crazy ponies, smile, and have fun!

-UEquestrian

Friday, April 21, 2017

People to Watch at Rolex 2017

If you are in the eventing world, or if you know anyone in the eventing world, it's pretty much impossible to not know about Rolex. But, for those of you that don't know what it is, I'll give you a little synopsis of "The Best Weekend All Year!" aka next weekend April 26-30.

Rolex is actually the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. It is the only 4-star event in North America. The FEI recognized events, the highest levels, are ranked by stars, starting at 1* and going up to 4*. There are about six 4* events in the world (although the US is supposed to get a second 4* in the coming years).

These heights were SO HARD to find.
The best part - these fences are HUGE!
Okay, so we've got monster fences and the best of the best riders (this is the top event in the United States). Rolex also has demonstrations from local groups, famous riders and horse people (aka Patrick the mini horse and his handler!). Pony Clubs are always demonstrating, usually games, vaulting, and/or eventing.

My second favorite part (behind the best riding in the country) is the Sponsor Village and the Trade Fair. This is a HUGE collection of "pop-up stores" containing everything from Annie's Equestrian (aka the best breeches ever) to Horze, one of the monster chains that sells pretty much everything to CWD and Devoucoux.

My top picks:

(Disclaimer: these pictures were taken off the riders' Facebook pages. All rights to the original owners. If you would like a picture taken down, contact me at eventerat14@gmail.com)

Image may contain: horse, tree and outdoor
1. Maxime Livio
Maxime is a French rider who has been winning or placing in literally everything in the past two years. His riding style reminds me of William Fox-Pitt, except his legs tend to slip back, but his core and upper body are so steady. His horse, Qalao Des Mers, is a stocky yet adorable gelding. 
Maxime is also on my "better not screw it up" list. In 2014, he was accused and suspended for doping Qalao at the World Equestrian Games. This doping also prevented France from competing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Eventing. It'll be interesting to see how this pair does. 

Image may contain: one or more people, horse, sky and outdoor
2. Lauren Kieffer 
Lauren is a US rider who has consistently been in the top placings at Rolex for a couple of years now. She has three horses entered, though my personal favorite is Veronica, her veteran Rolex mount. She competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics for the US. Lauren has had a very steady year, placing in her rides and showing she is ready to make this Rolex just as good as the previous years. 

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, plant, horse, grass, outdoor and nature
3. Will Faudree
Honestly, I just think Will is due for a really good Rolex run this year. He's placed in the top-middle of the pack in previous years but his track record for the past two years has been amazing. I am very, very excited to see what he'll show us this year. His horse, Pfun, is a grey Irish Sport Horse gelding, and I'm pretty sure I love him already just from his name!

Image may contain: horse and outdoor
4. Michael Jung
Ze Terminator. Winning Rolex twice in a row on FischerRocana FST, this pair is sure to be in the top ten finishers (unless something unmentionable happens). Michael Jung has taken the eventing community by storm and is a household name for any eventer. Last year, he took the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, something a very, very select few have been able to do. 

Image may contain: 3 people
5. Doug Payne
As if I could leave out my very favorite rider. Doug is an incredible rider and clinician, and I'm pretty sure I'm in love with his horse, Vandiver (Quinn!). I like watching him because he is a very technical rider, and you can learn a ridiculous amount just by watching. He also posts a ton of helmet cams, and there's nothing like hearing and seeing a Rolex XC analysis from the rider himself. Doug has also been on a winning streak lately, so I'm excited to see what he'll do.

Image may contain: one or more people, horse, outdoor and nature
6. Caroline Martin
Caroline caught my interest when she won the Carolina International 3*. That was a huge field of really good riders, and she made it look easy. She also had a 4th place finish at the Fork 3*. More than that, her riding is great and fun to watch. Spring Easy is a beautiful 9 year old Irish Sport Horse gelding with an easy, scopey jump. I'll be watching to see how this Rolex goes for her!

Other riders to keep an eye on:

No automatic alt text available.

7. Kim Severson & Cooley Cross Border - really good 2016/2017 season so far.

Image may contain: one or more people, people riding on horses, horse, outdoor and nature

8. Clark Montgomery & Loughan Glen - they have had a fantastic season, so I'm excited to see what they show us at Rolex.

Image may contain: one or more people, people riding on horses, horse and outdoor

9. Boyd Martin & Steady Eddie - hard to beat, and (to me) a classic combination. 

Image may contain: one or more people, horse and outdoor

10. Buck Davidson & Copper Beach - this horse is newer to me, but has been having a pretty good season so far.

Who are your top picks? Let me know in the comments! 

Go to/watch Rolex, smile, and have fun!

-UEquestrian

Review: SmartPak's Piper Breeches

For Christmas this year, I put two pairs of breeches on my wish list: the SmartPak Original Knee Patch Pipers and the Dover Riding Sport Kn...