Clinic Etiquette 4-1-1

Currently, CEC Elite Training is buzzing with excitement for our upcoming clinic weekend with German international dressage competitor, Kathleen Keller. The first rider will enter at A beginning at 6:45AM tomorrow morning, Friday, July 1st. My time is set for 7:30AM. Kathleen, daughter of Dolf Dietram Keller, currently rides and competes for Germany’s B-Team – meaning, the group of riders are the future Olympian’s for the country. We are all so thrilled to revel in her knowledge for three days!

With this clinic looming on the literal horizon, I felt as if it would be appropriate to share my list for proper etiquette. Clinics are far more than just an opportunity to watch an instructor guide various horse/rider combinations through a series of movements and techniques. There is a technique behind being a demonstrative rider and/or auditor!

  1. Look Professionally Put Together
    Looking professional to your clinician, and audience, is a sign of respect. This person is donating his or her time to you and your horse, sharing their guidance and expertise in hopes of you having a fantastic training session and taking away some valuable pieces of information. Plan your outfit the night before so the morning of, you aren’t in a mad scramble around your room, helplessly throwing clothes around like ragdolls. I tend to lean more towards traditional, subtle colors for clinics and shirts with collars; however, I have been known to sport my pink breeches during one of my rides with Volker Brommann. Hindsight is 20/20 and I probably wouldn’t opt for those again… Anyway, make sure your shirt is neatly tucked into your clean breeches, a belt is perfectly in place and your boots are tidy. When it comes to hair, I opt for a low ponytail, braid, or preferably, a bun at the nape of your neck. Your riding wardrobe doesn’t necessarily matter on a daily basis, but it matters during a clinic because putting A+ effort into your look gives the impression that you are dedicated and serious. Again, it all comes back to appreciation of professionalism.
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I always aim to dress professionally when I ride. In my personal view, it a sign of respect to my barn and my trainer. I plan on wearing this outfit this weekend because it’s neutral yet elegant!
  1. Horse Appearance
    While you as a rider need to be looking sharp, this rule equally applies to your horse. The day or so before the clinic, give your horse a good spa bath and touch up areas that require clippers. On the day of, get to your barn or clinic location earlier than the time you’ve already allotted yourself. Give your horse the once over – checking for any bumps, scratches, or cuts (tip: you should do this everyday, clinic or no clinic), then really take your time in the grooming department. Start out by giving your equine a solid curry session. This will bring out the natural oils of the coat, resulting in luminous shine. Dandy brush away the loose hair and dirt, comb through the mane, if it is not braided (some clinics require braided manes), and pick hooves thoroughly. Apply a nice detangler-shine to the tail; I use ol’ reliable Cowboy Magic, and gently brush the coarse hair, starting from the bottom and working your way up. Shavings in tails are a big no! Lastly, use an old rag to wipe dirt out of nostrils and clean up the face. Don’t forget a mist of fly spray, as a finishing touch, and a shine spray if you feel so inclined – just don’t apply it where the saddle goes or else you’re in for a slippery ride. Select a clean saddle pad for the training session and if able, an equally clean pair of polo wraps – they are always professional. Oh, and please leather soap/condition your tack!
  1. Be On Time
    This is probably the biggest rule of thumb when it comes to proper clinic etiquette. Depending on how your clinic is held, your instructor will either want to guide you through your warm-up routine or they will want to begin the “real” work as soon as your time begins. If the latter of this option happens to be the case, make sure you are on and warming-up at least 15 minutes before your required time. Every horse and rider’s warm-up routine differs. Either way, you need to plan accordingly, as time management is an important skill to have when you’re a dressage rider. Be courteous to other riders too – if you’re late, you’re pushing their time back, which puts the entire clinic behind. This is especially difficult if the clinician needs to catch a flight back to their hometown at the end of the day. Every rider wants to feel like they received the same amount of time and attention as others… because clinics are not cheap! So, I repeat, be on time.
  1. Know When To Ask Questions
    Like I mentioned, auditing clinics is so much more than sitting in a chair, watching the rider before your eyes. It is important to engage with fellow auditors and your clinician. However, you must know the right time to ask questions. When the clinician is focused giving instruction to the rider, this is not the ideal time to interrupt with your opinions or questions. Usually, when the rider takes a walk break, this is your opportunity to ask. A handful of clinicians will question the auditors if they have anything they’d like to ask about what they have just seen. However, it is always polite to start out by saying “Insert instructor name, I have a question that I’d like to ask you, if that is okay.” Never just assume it is the perfect chance.
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Work, work, train, train… and train some more.
  1. Take Notes
    I am a very visual person, and I find that note taking really helps me absorb all the information that can be easily forgotten in the mist of daily life. When I ride in a clinic, my mother videos my rides – Bailey has also videoed a few of my rides with Volker! I find this to be the best tool for clinic riders because you can always refer back to the video if you need to recall a key piece of training guidance. However, if you are just auditing, come to the clinic with a small notebook and a writing utensil of your choice, and be prepared to write like a mad man. At the top of the page, write the level of that particular rider and jot down statements that stand out to you. Pieces of what you learn as an auditor can be applied to your daily riding.
  1. Be Thankful and Appreciative
    This is the most important etiquette rule. Clinics are a big task to host. From setting the date, to organizing riders, to scheduling said riders and a location, to arena set up, to food, drink, chairs, and picking up the clinician, the task is not for the faint of heart. Offer to contribute to the clinic by bringing breakfast one morning or just a cooler full cold water. Water never goes unnoticed, am I right? Say thank you. Find the host, or hosts, and let them know just how appreciative you are for their hard work. And of course, thank your clinician after each ride, but that should be a major given!

All if this clinic talk has me feeling extra excited about tomorrow morning. Leah and I have been working very hard to prepare for our rides with Kathleen – we always strive to be the best we can be and we always are eager to learn new tricks of our trade. Look for daily updates on my Instagram and don’t forget to follow The Preppy Equestrian’s Snapchat (@thepreppyequest) as I am taking over all day Saturday and Sunday.

Show your next clinician that you’re etiquette is at the top of its game!

Happy clincing!

Leg Protection: Pros and Cons

As a rider, my job is to question any small abnormalities that appear on my best friend. This is true a tenfold over for legs. Horses legs have very little protection considering the sheer amount of important things that make their home underneath that delicate skin… We use support wraps, sport boots, standing bandages, anything we can to swing the odds in our favor, but sometimes there’s just nothing you can do! Horses are big, clumsy creatures balancing on the equivalent of four giant toes. Injuries are bound to happen and we just have to adapt that we’ve chosen this life of inevitable vet bills. Now, it’s likely that if you do any work with your horse, you use some sort of leg protection to stack the cards in your direction, but what really works? Can you do more hard than good with certain types of boots? Let’s discuss:

Bell Boots:

Bell boots, or overreach boots as they’re sometimes called, protect the heel bulb of the hoof and the back of the pastern, encircling the ankle. They protect, traditionally, from the horse causing damage with their hind legs by grabbing the heel or over-tracking too far during work. They come in traditional rubber pull on or petal bell boots, made famous by the early eventers, rubber with Velcro fastenings, and no turn, which have a neoprene inset and Velcro that keep the hell/pastern substantially covered at all times.

Pros: relatively cheap and easy to replace while providing generally the same amount of protection. Fun patterns and colors too!

Cons: The skin of sensitive can be damaged by constant rubbing of basic rubber bells boots or neoprene if worn for extended periods of time, leaving small, uncomfortable wounds in the skin. Incorrect fitting (too small or big) will make bell boots useless for any type of protection.

 

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Personally, I prefer fleece lined rubber or no turn neoprene for arena work, and no turns or basic rubber for exercise days of hill sets and trot/canter work or jumping.

Splint/Brushing/Galloping Boots:

These types of boots are all made to take care generous care of your horse’s legs, no matter the type of strenuous workout. Made of many materials, they can be lined with fleece or some other type of cushioning material, with the cushioning side on the inside of the cannon bone, Velcro or fastenings facing outwards. They protect legs from rocks or sticks thrown up during work or from striking their legs together due to work/conformational problems.

Pros: Normally easy to clean and relatively accessible. Also, normally durable to water work. Difficult to ruin, huge perk with my two beasts!

Cons: Do not offer as much comprehensive protection as I prefer. Easily incorrectly fitted, so please have a trainer help fit them to your horse. Can chafe and cause rubs on the cannon bone while not offering much tendon/ligament support.

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I use these for light work on lunge days or while in a quick warm up before entering the show ring as they are easy to take on and off quickly and allow enough protection for me to feel comfortable. Without real hock support, I cannot be behind them 100% for heavy collection work. 

Open front boots:

Same for the above mentioned boots, but another con is that they can be easily tightened too much and instead of supporting the tendons/ligaments of the lower leg, it can cause extra pressure leading to additional problems.

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Doesn’t mean I don’t let my bestie use them while jumping in a clinic with the fab Lainey Ashker!

Sport Medicine Boots:

A more substantial alternative for leg protection, they offer more energy absorbing neoprene enveloping the leg. Made of neoprene, they guard the cannon bone, tendons, soft tissue, and help limit any lower leg hyperextension. Velcro and lycra help snuggly fit them to the leg. They protect from a wide variety of problems that could cause potential damage.

Pros: Durable, long lasting, patterns and styles galore, and relatively easy to fit. They offer more encompassing protection than the previously mentioned styles of boots and also are very easy to keep clean.

Cons: Some vets have suggested that they don’t breathe enough and that the build up of heat can cause potential break down of tissues within the lower leg. While this hasn’t been proven correct 100%, this is enough of a warning for me to stay away from them as an educated equestrian.

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Thanks for the picture, SmartPak!

They are very common in western sports, and I’m sure they have their purpose, but I won’t jeopardize my mare’s already sort of screwy legs by adding extra heat.

 

Polo Wraps:

Usually made of fleece or of a stretchy material, they vary in length to accommodate the length of cannon bone and protect against a wide variety of swelling, bruising, scrapes, and cuts. The most traditional of all the boots mentioned, they’ve lasted the test of time for the very reason they came into existence – they WORK!

Pros: no problems fitting as they easily customize to each leg through layering and are very breatheable. A more traditional and clean look, they are always in style. If you know your horse’s legs and problem areas very well, you can customize leg support and protection through correct wrapping. They additionally come in millions and millions of colors and patterns, making them wonderful to collect (I’m a polo wrap addict, my friends).

Cons: Not suitable of wet or muddy riding, as they absorb water and begin to sag, causing problems in the support. Time consuming to wash (which must be done frequently), roll correctly, put on, and then unroll. The biggest danger and disadvantage of polo wraps is that they do more harm than good when incorrectly applied. Do not, I repeat do not use experiment with polos. It is an accident waiting to happen.

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Pretty in pink, you see. 

Due to my traditional German training, polo wraps are my personal favorite. I wasn’t allowed on unless polo wraps were correctly affixed to the legs of each and every horse I exercised. I stand by their support and protection, as they have withstood the test of time with flying colors, but by far are the easiest to cause tendon and ligament damage by incorrect application. Please, please, PLEASE educate yourself before making this your protection of choice. Your pony’s legs with thank you! Here’s a good tutorial:

Okay guys, that’s your dose of Bailey opinions for the day. These are just observations and personal beliefs from my 19 years as a rider, so no need to take offense or to heart!

Until next time, my dears…

Bailey

 

My Tribe: The Horse Friends

A tribe is most well know from Native Americans that roamed freely over the USA. But a tribe really is a close knit group of friends (and family) that share loves and beliefs.

Really, you just need to find people that can put up with your crazy horse shenanigans. But, alas, we can’t find tons of people that fits that bill. I have been lucky enough to find 4 awesome people that support me and Pinky. Drew likes to pamper Pinky with lots of brushing and treats. Elise likes to make fun of us when we do stupid things because she is a fellow equestrian and does them too. Savannah loves to feed Pinky french fries and take videos of us in our natural habitat. And, last but not least, Taylor likes to take photos of us when we look pretty.

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Top: Drew & Elise Bottom: Savannah & Taylor 

Each of the people in my tribe I love for different reasons. I love Taylor for her ability to keep me intact in the moments of craziness, Drew for his preppiness and ridiculousness all at the same time (because  mane and tail brush is totally used for the neck lol). I love Elise because she is just like me and laughs at me when I look funny or do stupid stuff and Savannah because she is there through thick and thin, no matter what. I am so happy that I get to call them mine and they are in my life.

And finding these kinds of friends is hard. They normally emerge from the hardships that the fake friends put you through. It just goes to show you who really deserves you and who doesn’t. The fact that they love you horse just as much as they love you is an added bonus. So, go on and build your horse loving tribe.

 

Until next time preps,

Sydney

12 Show Tips For a Smooth Day!

Horse shows can sure be stressful, especially when it comes to making sure both you and your horse are on top of the game. Follow along with these tips and tricks to help make your show easier and worry free!

1~ Have a cleaning session with some barn buddies a day or two before you leave for the show. Clean out and organize your tack trunk to make sure that you have everything you need.

2~ Create a checklist of all the things you will need for the horse show. Once you have created the list, gather all of your needs and check it off the list.

3~ Arrive at the showgrounds about 30 minutes to an hour earlier before you need to be there. Take this time to learn your courses and possibly hack your horse if needed. You can also use this time to clean and put on some finishing touches.

4~ Check in with the person working at the in gate several times throughout the day so that you are on top of when your class starts.

5~ Be sure that you and your horse are both well hydrated before showing. You may want to consider having an extra water bucket for your horse, as they made become very thirsty after a long day of showing. Also consider bringing your own cooler or ice box to the show. Fill it up with lots of water bottles and healthy snacks. When you are all done showing for the day, hose off your horse if it’s a hot day.

6~ Check the weather forecast for the week when packing. This will make sure that you and your horse are ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

7~ We all have to thank our horse after showing with treats, but don’t give them too many. Too many treats can be bad for your horse and give him/her a belly ache. My favorite treats to give my horse are Best In Show Cookie Company, which only have natural and fresh ingredients in them. There are many different flavors too!

8~ Create your own portable grooming kit. You can use a backpack or purchase a plastic grooming tote at a tack store. A grooming kit can be very helpful, especially to clean up between classes. You can fill your kit with whatever you want. Mine includes brushes, a hoof pick, hoof dressing, fly spray, baby wipes, water bottles and a towel or rag. When I go to bigger shows where you will need something to get around, we take our golf cart and keep our tote on it.

9~ We all have to thank our horse after showing with treats, but don’t give them too many. Too many treats can be bad for your horse and give him/her a belly ache. My favorite treats to give my horse are Best In Show Cookie Company, which only have natural and fresh ingredients in them so there is no harm done if you give your horse a few. There are many different flavors too!


10~ Be sure that you and your horse’s wardrobe meets the show’s requirements. Proper bits, whip length, attire, and more. Read over the USEF rule book to find important information like this.

11~ Mind your manners in the school ring or in a flat class. When passing, use the rule left shoulder left shoulder and give each horse lots of room. If you are jumping in the warm-up ring, call a jump by saying “heads up vertical!” for example so people can move out of your way. In a busier arena, don’t walk next to a friend on horseback, as these people are very hard to ride around (and annoying) especially when trying to jump. If your horse tends to kick or bite, use a red ribbon to tie in the tail. This is a sign for people to give you room unless they want to get kicked!

12~ If the show allows people to school their horse in a ring, take this opportunity! Horses can be some confusing animals; scared of things that move and things that don’t. Take this time to hack your horse around the ring you are showing in to make sure that nothing unexpected happens. If your horse is spooky at something, take him/her around it several times. Keep in mind what your horse is looking at when you show so that you don’t get marked off for a spook.

I hope these 12 tips were helpful for your show season!

Happy showing!

-Amelia

Fly B Gone: The Bonnet

Everyone loves bonnets right? They are one of the best and most fashionable ways to keep those bugs away.

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Bonnets Also Provide Awesome Hat Hangers

My 4 bonnets are the life and blood of Pinky’s day to day apparel. In total we have a collection of 4 bonnets. It may not seem like many but when combined with our 15 different saddle pads, the combinations are endless. When picking out the perfect bonnet to join the family, I look for many different qualities. The first being quality of the fabric. You don’t want to have a bad fabric because of the warmth of the ear and the trapping of moisture from the fabric, make for a good place for bad fungus and bacteria to grow. Gross stuff in the ears leads to a very unhappy horse. I also look for correct proportions in sizing. My mare has some weird proportions on her head and is sometimes hard to fit a bonnet too. You need to have a well fitting bonnet because if not, you have an uncomfortable and more unhappy horse. The best way to figure out what size bonnet is to follow a fitting guide. I have drawn up a quick and easy guide on how to measure your horses ear and get the proper fit.

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the size of the ear piece should follow the measurements above!

The ear piece is obviously the whole one size fits all kind of product. There can be slight differences but nothing near half an inch.

There are tons of brands and types of bonnets but each one has different pros and cons. I love the ones USG by KL Select, Dover Saddlery, and De La Coeur make. USG’s flexible and breathable ear covers and tightly crocheted bonnets are the perfect for every occasion. They offer tons of colors and are priced well. If you are looking to go the custom route, De La Coeur offers some of the same kinds of things USG does but with more options and at a higher price point. If you are looking for the most cheapest option, Dover Saddlery has some good choices. Bonnets from Dover is how I started my collection.

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My Black/Fuchsia Dover Saddlery Fly Veil Paired With My Spotted Gecko Designs Custom Browband

Overall, bonnets are a great fashionable and practical product that I think should be in every equestrians repertoire. There are probably tons of great brands out there that make fantastic bonnets! Feel free to comment them below or DM me on instagram @equestrian.syd!

 

Until Next Time Preps,

Sydney

what’s in my box & what are my favorites?

Hey guys! It’s Kristin here! I get this question all of the time. This also goes hand in hand with the “What do you use every day?” question. This question also leads to the “What do you take to the ring?” but that is for a post that will be coming soon on another day.

So the question at hand… What’s in my box? Well there are a ton of things in my tack box that could be used on any given day with a number of horses. I say this because I have all kinds of different horses in my barn at any given time, none of them are the same & they all require different things on a given day.

Things that are always in my tack box… GumBits, sugar, peppermints, spur box, spur guards, bit box, cat treats, helmet, gloves, tack cleaner, boot polish, boot brush, horse brushes, horse boots, polos, bell boots, sit-tite spray, chin pads, fleece pieces, bonnets, & a few other random things that live in there.

For summer, what is in my box is essentially the same. I just add some sunscreen & a bottle of water all the time. I am very fair skinned so if I am not riding in a sun shirt I usually have on a thin long sleeve shirt.

All of my horses are different that I ride, like I said earlier… This is what happens when you have a training barn. I have a an OTTB that takes no spurs, doesn’t like sugar & would rather eat peppermints, & requires polos. I have Lily, which is the 5 year old KWPN mare, who likes sugar, requires boots, only spurs no whip, needs a chin pad & the occasional fleece pad on her bridle. My grand prix mare is a whole different story as to what she needs.

Keeping versatility in your box is always important. Your horses needs can change any day. I have had some decide on any given day that they don’t like something anymore & decide that they need something different.

So with this goes, well what are some of your favorite brands of things? I figured with both of these posts I should probably make a list of sorts. Some of the items in this list are things that are in my box & some are things I get asked about on a frequent basis.

  • My helmets at the moment consist of Charles Owen helmets (2) & a One K. I love them all. They are incredibly comfortable.
  • My horse boots are Dressage Sport Boots. I love them because they are incredibly supportive & hold up the best as far as fleece boots go. For polos, I have all different brands of polos. I have a couple of horses that can’t wear boots & have to have polos.
  • My riding boots. I get this question quite a bit. I have had some terrible luck with riding boots. I am short, 5’1, & I have large calves & a 7.5 size foot. This has presented a problem with 2 custom boot companies. My everyday riding boots at the moment have been Mountain Horse for about 6 years now. I also used to use them for show boots, until, I fell in love with a pair of Cavallos at a horse show in May of 2015 that fit like a glove & were semi-custom for someone else.
  • My saddle. This is a frequent question as well. My saddle fits every single horse that I have ever ridden since I was 13. I have had the same saddle since I was 13. Yep, you heard that correctly. I have a training barn, so keep in mind I have to have something to fit everything. I have a Kieffer. I have had several people want my saddle & I won’t give it up. I am starting to search for a second saddle as I do need a second at this point.
  • Grooming products. Ecolicious all the way friends. Incredibly amazing. One morning of the horse show a couple weeks ago, Lily had a bath, I ran out of time to brush her afterwards & got so many compliments on how shiny she was… wash & wear. Shiny, smells amazing & ecofriendly. Doesn’t get any better than that.
  • Saddle pads. I am an Ecogold rider. I made the switch from a competitor brand this year. I love how the Ecogold pads sit with my horses & how breathable they are. They are super wicking & my horses seem much more comfortable.

These are a few of my favorite things… Obviously I have a ton more & will add to this list in the next post. If you guys have any questions for me or about any of the products I use, please feel free to send me a DM on Instagram! Believe it or not, I love DM’s because I love to interact with you! Find me on Insta @kristin.posner

Brand Review: Kastel Denmark

Kastel Denmark is a well known and fashionable clothing company for equestrians of all disciplines or anyone seeking comfortable and UV protective clothing. This brand features colorful and comfy shirts, hats, athletic pants and more.

One of Kastel Denmark’s most popular product is their UV sun shirts. I own a couple of sun shirts, and they are great fitting and keep you cool in the warmer months. They are extremely comfortable, soft and made from a very high quality fabric. They make great every day shirts as well. The shirts are made for both men and women and are very affordable compared to competitors. The quarter zip shirts have two different colors, the body color and trim color. There are also many different color combinations available. The shirts are simple, yet stylish.

Kastel Denmark products are very vibrant and beautiful with the color combinations chose the quarter zips are my favorite shirts to wear riding in the summer. For the winter, I like to ride in the Kastel Demark jackets, which are great for layering to keep warm. They have an article of clothing for every season in temperature.

In conclusion, Kastel Denmark is a great and affordable brand offering stylish and protective clothing to everyone. Their clothing and accessories are exactly what every equestrian needs!

Stay preppy!

-Amelia

The Do’s & Don’ts of Sun Protection

Ah, summer is upon us. Well, most of us… especially if you’re located in South Texas. The summer season here is anything but glamorous. Try triple digit temperatures with ungodly humidity and wicked thunderstorms because of it. Learning how to properly protect ourselves from the harmful, powerful UV rays is a science. Over the years, I’ve learned just what to do and what not to do. Allow me to share my do’s and don’ts for surviving the summer sun.

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Cooling Leah out after a morning training session. We ride in the mornings to beat the afternoon South Texas sun!

DO put on sunscreen before you put on your clothes, not after. It is hard to maneuver around necklines and sleeves, so make putting on your sunscreen a part of your pre-barn, morning routine. Plus, if you’re like me and despise the greasy residue it leaves, you can wash your hands before grabbing things like your phone. I opt for SPF 70 or above because I am fair skinned and burn easily. Look for sunscreens that have ingredients you can read, too. The more natural, the better, and your skin will thank you! I also keep a bottle of sunscreen in my tack trunk for reapplication. If you are spending a day at the barn, consider the fact that you will sweat and hosing off horses will result in you getting wet somewhere on your body. Reapplying is very important!

DON’T pick tanning lotion as your form of SPF. Tanning lotions are great, but they are meant to be applied during a leisurely few hours at the beach or by the pool. Most tanning lotions only reach up to 8SPF, which is not nearly enough UV protection for a long day in the sun. My tip? Apply SPF 70+ sunscreen, followed by a thin layer of tanning oil or lotion. You’ll still get color without the high risk of burn. However, let’s just take a moment to accept the fact that equestrian’s arms will always be tanner than the rest of our body… Shrug.

DO pick UV protective clothing. As we know, Kastel Denmark, Ariat, Arista, HorZe Equestrian, and more, are designing and merchandising UV protective, technical riding shirts with mesh sleeves to ensure maximum air flow. These shirts all give the rider an added boost when it comes to blocking out harmful UV rays. Another alternative to these shirts is opting for fishing shirts. Yes, fishing shirts! GameGuard or Columbia manufacture shirts in either short sleeve or long sleeve options. They are designed for fishermen and keep you incredibly cool while riding. I often ride in my fishing shirts, as they keep the air flowing all throughout my training session, even in the long sleeve style.

DON’T pick dark colored clothing. No matter how cute, fun, sparkly, precious the shirt is, if it is a dark tone, don’t wear it. Dark colors absorb heat (leaving you more prone to heatstroke), while light colors reflect sunrays. Unless it is wintertime, you can always find me at the barn in a light colored tank top or short sleeve, if I’m not sporting a Kastel.

DO wear a hat when you’re not wearing your helmet. Protect your face, peeps! If you can, purchase a visor that easily attaches to the brim of your helmet. The skin on your face is ultra sensitive. Wearing a hat will obviously block the sun from burning your precious forehead, cheeks and nose to a crisp. Also, find a sunscreen that is less oil based to prevent pesky breakouts.

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My top pick products for combatting UV rays. I use Lancome BIENFAIT Multi-Vital Sunscreen Cream for my face as it does not lead to breakouts! 

DON’T load your face up with makeup, if you can help it. I know that I used to wear makeup while riding on a daily basis. However, I found that my makeup combined with the sun would leave my face feeling irritated and itchy. Finally, I stopped wearing all makeup to the barn, opting to slather non-oily sunscreen on my face instead. Much better option! Makeup can also subconsciously make you feel hot. When you sweat, your foundation can run into your eyes causing burning and discomfort. Stick to a sweat proof sunscreen and you’ll be feeling so much fresher! And if you feel the need for makeup, try waterproof mascara only.

DO find a pair of sunglasses and stick with them! Your eyes need sun protection too. UV rays are bright! If you can afford polarized glasses, they are the ideal choice for ultimate defense. However, most any type of pair will do. My sunglasses are glued to my face during sunny days. I haven’t quite found a pair that fit comfortably under my helmet, but the hunt is definitely on!

 DON’T forget to drink water and moisturize your skin. This is definitely a given when it comes to surviving summer sun and summer heat. However, the two go hand in hand. After long days in the sun, your skin needs to rehydrate. It is recommended that we drink 3 liters of water a day – that’s what I do! Don’t forget to incorporate electrolytes into your hydration routine, too. As I have written before in my blog, I add different types of cubed fruit and citrus to my water jug, which makes the task of drinking 3 liters far less tedious. In addition to rehydrating from the inside, rehydrate your skin from the outside. Find an after-sun lotion at your local drug store and after your shower, apply lotion to all areas where sun was exposed. It’ll have you feeling fresh and your skin feeling yummy.

DO remember that your horse needs UV protection; especially if he or she is a grey or paint with dominant white markings. Leah’s delicate, pink nose is subject to sunburn every summer. Luckily now, her fly mask has a mesh piece that covers her sensitive area. However, before that came into my possession, I was constantly smearing SPF 100 (yes, human sunscreen!) around her nostrils to prevent burn. I highly suggest this if your pony has delicate features. If you can afford a flysheet, do so, as they also help block UV rays. Just like people, horse’s coats need rehydration too. Shop around and find your favorite coat conditioner spray (I like using Wahna Win Complete Coat Care Conditioner) – they really do help! Some brands of fly spray have SPF built into the formula as well. If your horse has sensitive skin, try turning out during times when UV rays are weakest: the early mornings and/or evenings/overnight.

Living in Texas definitely gives you all the tools you need to protect yourself from horrid sunburn, dehydration, and heatstroke. Be smart about your sun protection and remember that none of us are above the diagnosis which is skin cancer. Remember my do’s and don’ts the next time you head out for your day at the barn!

Happy summer riding!
Madelyn

Beat The Heat: Texas Style

The term “hot” has a different meaning when you live in Texas. People joke about how you can fry an egg on the sidewalk or roads that are so hot, your flip-flops will melt. Well, I’m here to tell you as a Texas summer survivor, both those things are real. Triple digit temperatures partnered with 85-100% humidity makes for a lethal combination for athletes; human and equine. With myself being overly heat sensitive and Joy as well, we’ve learned some tips and tricks to beat the misery.

  1. Prepare for the sweat fest:

This means making sure you and your horse are properly hydrated, full to the brim with electrolytes, and also aren’t working on empty stomachs. Adding electrolytes and high protein to you and your horse’s daily diet will help increase your heat resistance and help make recovery time easier.

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Joy Pro Tip: use your human’s sweat as a mineral lick.
  1. Stack the cards in your favor:

By planning and adjusting your training according to impending weather, you can better prepare for summer. In other words, suddenly deciding to add hill work or gallop sets into your training routine in the middle of June likely will create problems. Even the fittest horses can take up to three weeks to adjust to more temperate weather. By implementing a tailored conditioning program earlier in the year and gradually building up you and your horse’s cardiovascular fitness leading into summer, you can still train consistently with less chance of heat distress.

  1. Warm up/cool down:

As riders, we all are aware of the crucial nature of a correct warm up and cool down. During the summer months, these become even more of a dire necessity. Not only do these two things decrease risk of injury or fatigue, they also help the horse return to its normal heart rate and temperature.  Ever heard the term “ridden hard, put away wet” for horses that aren’t in the best health? There is a reason for that. My general rule of thumb is either cool out under saddle or hand-walk (after a quick bath) until the horse is dry and proper breathing has returned, if a little winded. No matter the level of horse, a proper warm up and cool down is must to increase/decrease the amount of heat generated by work that will cause problems. In a pinch, ice water or alcohol can be used to help cool a horse down that is having problems in the heat. If that is the case, it might be time to reevaluate your horses ability to withstand the heat by riding early morning/late evening or if possible, keeping your horse somewhere with more shade/breeze.

 

  1. Invest in proper equipment:

Who doesn’t love an excuse to add a little to your ROOTD wardrobe? It’s particularly important in the hotter months, as most of us do not have the lovely luxury of a covered arena. As some of our Team Riders have recommend, Kastel shirts are UV protective and also made of a breathable, wick away fabric. Additionally, Ariat and Sport Horse Lifestyle all are all choice picks by our variety of riders from varying climates. Kerrits are another brand that is well known for their durability and wear-ability, including their ice-fill breeches, tops, and scarves. ROMFH has lovely show shirts in fun patterns made from mesh panels and microfiber to make those jacket waived shows classy and cool.

When you’re minding your melon, make sure to wear a helmet with a lot of airflow and venting to keep your head from overheating. Over 45% of body head dissipates through the head, that’s why it gets so hot in an ineffectively vented helmet. For your horse, make sure not to swaddle them in extra fabric that will trap heat and invest in a good hoof conditioner to keep cracking down to a minimum.

  1. Become Familiar with the Signs of Heat Distress:

Every horse is different when it comes to managing the heat, but knowing the basic signs of distress is crucial. Normally, horses of hotter ancestry (Arabians, Thoroughbreds, etc.) manage heat well, while horses of colder blood or more muscling tend to be more affected by the heat. Horses who sweat more than other quickly become dehydrated and need to be treated with a little more care, but what’s most important is to become familiar with signs of listlessness, discomfort, and raised vital signs. In order to test dehydration levels, you can gentle pinch a little skin at the point of shoulder and see how quickly it returns to normal position. If the skin doesn’t return quickly, this is a sign of at least mild dehydration. Something else to become familiar with is a digital pulse, which can be found on the fetlock, and also temperature. Normal body temperature for a horse is 99-100 degrees, somewhere between 101-103 during exercise. If the temperature goes beyond 103.5 degrees, this is considered overheating and should be treated immediately. Ice water and alcohol as mentioned above can be used in small areas like the neck or haunch, but ice water can over large areas can cause tying-up or muscle cramps.

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The epitome of heat distress after playing too hard in turn out.

Whether you are like me, who heat strokes out unless I ride at night, or you are braving the heat to work multiple horses during the day, make sure you’re protecting yourself and your equines. Know your personal limits, your horse’s limits, and how to prepare for a scorching summer. Drink plenty of cool water and remember to protect your beautiful skin from the sun’s harmful rays! Take it from a Texan. Becoming familiar with these five tips will help you make the most of your summer without breaking TOO much of a sweat.

Stay cool, y’all!

Until next time,

Bailey

Brand Review: EC Equestrian!

Saddle pads are every equestrian’s kryptonite. And if you say that you don’t love saddle pads, you are lying to yourself. I personally LOVE saddle pads! With one in almost every color, my pony is always looking spiffy. But, by far, my favorite pad ever is my custom one from EC Equestrian!

EC Equestrian is a small privately owned business based out of Richmond Hill, Georgia. “We strive to make high quality, customizable, handcrafted products to fit each client. We are mostly known for our fun and unique designs while keeping the basic property of each product.” says owner Elizabeth Chasisson.

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My custom navy and pink quatrefoil dressage pad from EC Equestrian being modeled by Pinky

I purchased my custom dressage pad (pictured above) in March this year and have used it about 10 times on 3 different horses and 3 different saddles. Normally, I am pretty rough on pads because of the high intensity work that I do. But, it looks just like it did when I got it in the mail. All of the stitching, fabric, and billet straps are holding up so well!

Did I mention that it is super versatile? During the summer, I work at the barn schooling different horses for my trainer and what not. It has fit every horse I have backed it with. Originally made for my 14.2hh pony who has some cushion for the pushing to fit my long flapped County Saddlery© Connection Saddle; it has worked for Bugatti, the slender 18hh Draft Thoroughbred Cross that I school, perfectly.

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Bugatti modeling my pad after a good workout!

Also, I have used it when I cross train my mare on the jump course. The jumping saddle I use is the County Saddlery© Innovation Saddle in Oakbark. When we cross train, it is never easy. I struggled to find a pad that didn’t slip on her slick summer coat, didn’t retain moisture like a sponge, and was a bit longer to protect her side from girth rub. We had tried everything and nothing did the trick. I finally had the genius idea to use my EC Equestrian pad. It has a super grippy underside that never slips, is moisture wicking and helps keep her cool, and it is dressage sized so it comes down far enough to give her some girth protection. Basically it is the best pad around!

The customer service is outstanding and product quality is impeccable. Overall, I would 100% recommend this company and everything that they put out! They have sales and deals on a regular basis so make sure to check her out on instagram @e.c._equestrian_ to keep up! If you are looking into purchasing from her, use my code SYDNEY10 for 10% off your purchase too.

Have a fantastic day preps and see you soon,

Sydney