Category Archives: Advice

How to Explain Horseback Riding to Anyone

We all have friends, and friends are awesome.

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Some of our friends are horse people, and totally get what we are talking about all the time. For instance, you can say your horse “was a little up today, but only bucked a few times and was otherwise fine” and these horsey friends will nod in understanding..because that’s not jargon to them.

But we also have non-horsey friends…and to them that is pretty much a foreign language. Your non-horse friends are also awesome, but sometimes they try to ‘get hip with your lingo’ and stumble…and sometimes they just stare blankly and pray you talk about boys, or ice cream, or the latest episode of The Bachelor so they won’t have to listen to you talk about your horse again. And this can be tricky to manage, but here are some things you might hear, and how to address them nicely:

  1. “How was your race?” – Because mainstream media touts racing as the ‘horse sport’ of choice, this tends to cause many people to wrongfully assume that all riders are racers (kind of like how everyone assumes that anyone who lives in Texas must be a Country music fan). It’s ok to correct them a few times, but be nice. As a hobbyist group, we tend to not realize how defensive we are about our beloved sport…and can come off as jerks. So don’t be a jerk. If your friend feels the need to always ask ‘how fast’ you went, or if you raced anyone today…just smile and re-explain that your discipline has nothing to do with going fast (unless you actually do race horses, or are a jumper).
  2. “But doesn’t your horse do all the work?” – Don’t flip out, this is a common misconception. Because most actions that involve sitting are commonly misconstrued as ‘easy’, horseback riding is an easy target. For the same reason that Nascar is belittled for just being about going fast and turning left (see Talladega Nights), many people assume that things you do whilst sitting on your butt require little to no effort. Just calmly explain that what you do is a challenging physical activity, and that no, riding a horse is not like driving a car. If you still have difficulty letting this concept sink in, find a good ‘thrills and spills’ video on Youtube, and try having them watch that.
  3. “You horse is brown, so it’s a clydesdale, right?” – This one probably will only happen once, as once you’ve established that not all brown horses pull beer carts you should be good to go. Because Budweiser uses clydesdale horses in their ads, its only natural that most people assume horses that are big and brown must be clydesdales (your average person might have caught wind of the Romney horse and be aware that warmbloods exist, but it isn’t likely). If you ride a warmblood, feel free to explain what that means…and if you have a thoroughbred, be prepared for a renewed believe that you race and go fast. See 1. again.

For the most part, these are the only 3 annoyances you will probably experience. The exception to any of these, is the person that firmly swears by what they find in a Google search or from ‘sources’ like Yahoo answers and comments in YouTube videos. In the case of these, just don’t bother trying to explain to them that:

  • Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron is just a movie, and your horse is fine with being ridden
  • The Parelli method is not the only effective method out there
  • No, they cannot ride your horse without permission
  • Yes, even if they have been taking notes from old western movies
  • No, rearing and kicking out is the opposite of what should happen (those were stunt horses)
  • No, you cannot ride your horse on the highway
  • Yes, you are sure you cannot ride your horse on the highway, its illegal

Hopefully this helps!

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Leather Advice for Non-Equestrians

As an equestrian, I’ve seen a lot of interesting tactics used by my non-equestrian friends to keep their leather clean and polished. Even though I tend to be pretty lazy with my leatherware (admittedly, I don’t always follow my own advice), I’ve come up with three simple tricks to keeping your boots, belts, and leathery goodness clean and conditioned:

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  1. Never clean polished boots with soap. Using glycerin soap (or any soap) pulls the polish off freshly polished boots. If you want to limit the times you have to fully polish your boots (its a pretty smelly process) wipe your boots with a wet cloth. Make sure you polish them at minimum twice a month. Men? You can do the same with your swanky work shoes. That ought to save you some money at the shoe-shining stand.
  2. Break in your boots/shoes faster. ¬†If you just purchased fancy leather shoes or boots, wet them with a cloth or with the ‘mist’ setting of a garden hose and walk up and down a set of stairs for 40 minutes. Do this daily until they break in. DO NOT dampen white leather or light brown. This might leave permanent color changes!
  3. Do not use Urad. Though this product will make your boots shine through dirt, grime, and mud (probably) it does have one design flaw: the chemical compound for whatever reason eats through stitching. Not good. Stick to Fieblings or Kiwi (if you’re ok with cheap polish).

Hope that helps!

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Resolutions for Horses and People in 2013

I’m Alive!

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Apologies for the huge massive insane delays in posting… life took the reins for a while and keeping up with posts got a bit tricky, but I’m back! And I plan on writing up more about current horse events and relevant equestrian news!

So in the mean time, here are some resolutions you and your horse can make in 2013, based on real events (which are succinctly summarized, I promise) in equestrian news:

  1. Don’t let your horse be a designated driver: If you are intoxicated, keep your feet on the ground.¬†In Florida, a man was recently arrested for ‘drunk driving’ his horse to his grandmother’s house and fleeing from police officers when he was asked to dismount. To read more about it, click here.
  2. Ride more: it’s good for your mental health. Though there is still some debate on the exact effectiveness of riding from a ¬†psychological perspective, it has been recognized that riding does provide a positive impact on humans. To read the exact details, click here.
  3. Give a warm welcome to Donald Trump. Though Trump has had his fair share of negative press for the number of uses of the phrase ‘You’re fired’ and his less-than-flattering comments about Rosie O’Donnell, he did make quite a stir with the Trump $100,000 Invitational Grand Prix in Mar-A-Lago, FL. As a special treat, The Voice winner Cassadee Pope performed to kick off the event, drawing in some non-equestrian fans’ attention to the sport. Raising somewhere in the ballpark of $1.4 million for charity, just about the only person who didn’t enjoy the event was Trump’s lawn. Click here for the full story.

Some other resolutions you can make (not based on news events)

  1. Always ride with a buddy on trails. You might feel like John Wayne galloping off into the sunset alone, but if you fall off, it’s going to be a long lonely walk home.
  2. Don’t wipe your polished boots with glycerin soap. It will wash the polish off and you’ll just have to polish the suckers again.
  3. Throw away the twinkle toes, and step away from the ‘blaze paint‘. Your horse will thank me later. Leave the glitter to the pony kids.
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The Name Game

Horses are named all kinds of things: some aim for the more classic names like “Spot” for an appaloosa, “Blaze” for a horse with a blaze, and so on. As times have changed, so have names. Like an opinionated horse woman, I have formed strong opinions about names use given to horses: some are cute, and some just aren’t. Here are kinds of names I adore, and three I truly hate:

Love:

  1. Famous People. Having ridden a ‘Anne Sullivan’, a ‘ Sammy David Jr.’, and a ‘Gandhi’, I will admit that there is something innately cute about horses named after famous people (given that they are not named after someone bad). Naming your horse after Barack Obama in my eyes is too cheesy, and naming your horse ‘OJ Simpson’ shows a lack of taste…but hearing horses named ‘Clark Kent’, ‘Jane Eyre’, and ‘John Wayne’ do make me smile. Naming your mare ‘Helen Keller’ isn’t recommended….just for superstitious reasons.
  2. Food. Admit it, when ponies are named after food, it can be hopelessly adorable. My own horse, Crackerjack fits his nam perfectly. I’ve sat on several horses named ‘Popcorn’, ‘Oreo’, ‘Spud’, and even a few ponies named ‘Hershey’. You can never really go wrong with food names: even ‘Figgy Pudding’ puts a smile on your face.
  3. Classic. When in doubt, the tried-and-true names are sometimes the best option. ‘Splash’, ‘Dancer’, and ‘Spot’ are all classic names that you can feel comfortable telling your kids. Especially with ponies, keeping it simple can be easier for kids to remember: try explaining to a 4-year-old that their pony’s name is ‘Corsair’ or ‘Chardonnay’ and see how that goes.
  4. Song titles / Lyrics. Admittedly, the most classic kid-friendly song titles and lyrics are the best to use. I’ve heard of a few very cute ‘Rocket Man’ ponies, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ jumpers, and ‘Sweet Carolina’ New England ponies. A good rule to go by, is if you can’t tell your grandmother your horse’s show name…don’t use it. An example? I’d steer clear of any song by ‘Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, 50 Cent, Steel Panther, or any song that involves the word ‘b-itches’ or ‘h-es’.

Hate:

  1. Rappers. Now before I go into this, I will concede that some names lend themselves well to horses: ‘Slim Shady’ is a good fit for a slim darker horse, and I would be impressed to compete against a horse named ‘Immortal Technique’ or ‘Idle Warship’….I might even take my hat off to a ‘Hopsin’ with two blue eyes. That being said, I cringe whenever I hear that someone has named their horse (showname, mind you) ‘Free Weezy’, ‘Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em’, or ‘Birdman’. I can understand devotion to these artists….but at least with equitation horses, I feel like seeing ‘Free Weezy’ or ‘Gucci Gucci’ on the scoreboard during a prestigious competition kills the mood somewhat. But like I said, I’m split on this: if the name fits the horse, I am willing to endorse it. I can see ‘Teach Me How To Dougie” taking off….or even “Gangnam Style” becoming the next hot pony showname.
  2. Branded Alcohol. I genuinely don’t enjoy when horses come in with brand name liquor names. It just doesn’t feel classy….even ‘Grey Goose’ feels a bit forced. Similarly, I don’t think its in any way classy to name a pony after liquor when the kid on him is well under 21. Somehow, types of wine never seem that bad: ‘Chablis’ actually sounds pretty classy, as does ‘Merlot’: Somehow ‘Gin and Juice’ and ‘Jose Cuervo’ don’t have the same ring to it.
  3. Drugs. I have rarely heard of any horses with drug-influenced names. Very rarely. But as a warning, I sincerely hope no one starts by naming their mare ‘Have You Found Molly?’, ‘Heroin’, or ‘Opium’. Just don’t.
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A Word Of Advice

I will keep this short, sweet, concise…what have you. When you are marketing to an equestrian demographic, do your homework. I find that some people do not tune in to this concept, and as a result get lost in the many sphere of equestrianism.

Like with any great campaign, being able to be as specific as possible will be key to your success:

  1. If you are trying to hit the affluent polo-goers who wear Ralph Lauren causally and insist on premium products for themselves and their horses, be true to that. Trying to glue together a fragmented industry is probably not going to help you win the uphill battle you will inevitably need to climb to court the horsey market.

  2. Knowing the difference between a casual trail rider and an Arabian endurance rider will change the demographic. Knowing the difference between a western trail rider and a hunter pace trail rider is also key to understanding demographics.

  3. Knowing the difference between a trail rider, a hunter/jumper amateur, and a professional show jumper is colossal: If you are trying to reach out to ladies who rent horses on weekends for light trail riding, don’t throw up stories about new releases from Animo. It’s just common sense.

  4. If you are trying to reach racehorse fanatics who bet on races with whatever money they can find, realize that those are not the floppy-hatted race-goers who sip mint juleps and wave casually to their horses as they pass by.

  5. Realize that someone who will drop $40,000+ on an equitation/hunter horse will likely not have any interest in trail riding guides. Also realize that people who want and need trail riding guides probably don’t give a crap about updates in the combined driving sphere. Also realize that part of why Dover does not sell combined driving gear, is that it realizes its core demographic is hunter/jumper and dressage.

  6. And also realize that not every equestrian is an affluent iPhone user that is intently concerned on using apps for functionality: most YouTube equestrians post videos of them jumping things and messing around, most instagram shots are of pony-noses and equestrians goofing off, and most Facebook activity is in a younger demographic than people intently seeking trail guides.

And if any of this confused you, and you aren’t sure how any of these demographics are different, maybe don’t pursue the equestrian demographic.

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Monsters In The Corner, And Other Horse-Eating Creatures

Anyone who rides has inevitably encountered the equine version of the ‘Bogeyman’

Image courtesy of Horse Junction

Whether its the shadowy corner of the indoor, the flapping plastic bag in the wind, or the wild animal running past the outdoor ring, horses can get scared pretty easily. Even the bravest of equines fall victim to the shadowy creatures of their fears inevitably, but there are some great ways to avoid falling on your butt when they turn tail and run. Here are some things to keep in mind when the evil creatures of the shadows descend upon your horse (or when you horse thinks they are):

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The Humbling Sport of Riding

Horseback riding isn’t for the faint of heart.

In this world there are many sports that take charisma, athleticism, and a certain amount of humility to undertake. Horseback riding is certainly one of them. Whether you are having a gorgeous course or having the worst ride of your career, both should be approached as learning lessons. One minute you could be floating around a hunter course, flawless and fabulously making the entire class jealous; the next you could float face-first into an oxer and break a flower box. Horseback riding doesn’t care much who you are or how fantastic you think you are, because at the end of the day, personal victory generally outweighs the color ribbon you leave the show grounds with.

Today I had that heart-sinking moment of realization that I had cantered up to a distance, that in no known universe existed, and promptly crashed directly into a fence right in front of my trainer, my parents, several of my barn mates, and worst of all the barn owner Tim. It was a moment of public embarrassment, humiliation, and probably the best dose of character-building I’ve gotten in a while. Apparently karma wasn’t sure I’d gotten the message because I did it again in the next course.

What I learned today however, was that humbling oneself is the only true way to achieve anything in a sport where at a moments notice the wrong sound or movement could send your horse cartwheeling into deep space, and you into the dirt. Thankfully, I avoided the dirt today. It does not matter how fabulous your horse is or how magical a connection you have, at the end of the day, its how humble you can be about it that counts. Today I went in expecting perfection and had a moment of pure hubris and the result was a literal smack to the face. The full-kilter hand-gallop non-existent distance will not happen again, and I will remember to take my morning dose of realness before going in the ring.

Sincerely,

Chaz
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Hello Heatwave

As some may have noticed the weather seems to get hotter and hotter this summer with each passing day. At least for Crackers and I, that means constant bathing and shorter and shorter rides.What are some things we use to cool down? Check it out!

CJ and I showing in the summer heat! Image courtesy of the ever-talented Roger Wang.

In this heat, you can expect a lot of sweating, tired muscles, and plenty of greenheads waiting to swarm you and your horse. Here are some things we use at Duncraven to help us through the blisteringly hot summer months:

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