The Equestrian Stylebook: December-Collaboration With Lauren Knopp

This month for The Equestrian Stylebook, I was in Wellington, Florida. So, of course, I had to collaborate with one of my favorite people and fellow TPE writer, Lauren Knopp.
Finding the perfect riding outfit is one of the hardest things in the world. With so many different brands and styles to choose from, there are so many great options. And, as much as I would like to be, none of us are made of money, so pricing is something that most of us have to be very cautious of. I have compiled a stylebook with 6, yes 6, great outfits that every equestrian can rock!

Mare Mantra:

This outfit was probably the favorite of all of the outfits this month. Everyone at the farm was just crazy about it! I am not one that really goes for experimental patterns on clothing so this was something new for me, but boy was it a success! It features a clean-cut white shirt and breeches with boat blueprints on them.

Delilah is sporting her Passier Snaffle Bridle!

This Combo Includes:

  • The Blonde & The Bay Mare Mantra Tee: $35.00
  • Equine Couture Schooner Knee Patch Breech: $64.00
  • Tonics Fabulous Shoes Space Paddock Boots: $329.00 in Black
  • Tonics Fabulous Shoes Triton Half Chap: $239.00 in Black
  • Samshield V-Skin Gloves in Black: $67.50
  • Samshield Alcantara Helmet in Black with Flower Swarovski and 255 Crystals: $1416.00
Delilah needs no controlling, she is a perfect little filly!


Merlot By The Ocean:

Would it really be The Equestrian Stylebook if I didn’t feature at least one solid navy item? I didn’t think so. Lauren models here with her main man De Greggory in the gorgeous pairing of merlot and navy.

There is no love greater than between pony and person

This Combo Includes:

  • Mastermind Equestrian Rigoletto Merlot & Pink Full Seat Breeches: $375.00
  • Kastel Denmark Long Sleeve Show Shirt in Navy: $95.00
  • Ralph Lauren Snake-Embossed Belt in Cognac: $38.00

De Greggory is sporting his amazing Custom Saddlery Advantage Monoflap Saddle, E.C Equestrian Saddle Pad custom made in The Preppy Equestrian colors, and a Primera Milano Snaffle Bridle in black & white from 20×60 Equestrian.

Love these two, so photogenic!


Whale Of A Time:

Pink whales and blue stripes, these breeches couldn’t get any better. They may seem a bit kid-like and not professional but everyone needs a pair of those in their breech collection. The pink polo brings the outfit back a step in the adulting direction.


This Combo Includes:

  • Ralph Lauren Classic Polo in Pink: $40.00
  • Equine Couture Natasha Whales Breech in Light Blue: $64.00
  • Tonics Fabulous Shoes Space Paddock Boots: $329.00 in Black
  • Tonics Fabulous Shoes Triton Half Chap: $239.00 in Black
  • Samshield V-Skin Gloves in Brown: $67.50
  • Samshield Alcantara Helmet in Black with Flower Swarovski and 255 Crystals: $1416.00
Sorry D, I don’t have any cookies for you


Sipping On Merlot:

With the return of those gorgeous merlot breeches, Lauren paired them with a gray and white contrasting shirt. It is a timeless look that works for stable to street gorgeousness. DSC00723.jpg

This Combo Includes:

  • Mastermind Equestrian Rigoletto Merlot & Pink Full Seat Breeches: $375.00
  • Kastel Denmark Long Sleeve Show Shirt in White/Grey: $95.00
  • Ralph Lauren Snake-Embossed Belt in Cognac: $38.00

Samoa 52 is sporting his amazing Custom Saddlery Advantage Monoflap Saddle, Ecogold Non-Slip Saddle Pad, and a Primera Milano Snaffle Bridle in black & white from 20×60 Equestrian.


Lauren & Flamenco Rubin Owned By Alex Devries


Shadow Matte & Show Whites:

Standing ringside on a busy show day, just watching other riders in their tests and rounds is one of the best ways to spend a day. The breathableness and comfort that this ensemble creates in unparalleled. With breeches that fit like a second skin, a shirt that allows airflow to keep you cool, and a helmet that is as pretty as a crown and as comfortable as your favorite PJ’s, you will never what to take this outfit off.


This Combo Includes:

  • Kastel Denmark Short Sleeve Show Shirt in Black/White: $75.00
  • Horseware Ireland Elise Breeches in White: $105.00
  • Tonics Fabulous Shoes Space Paddock Boots: $329.00 in Black
  • Tonics Fabulous Shoes Triton Half Chap: $239.00 in Black
  • Samshield V-Skin Gloves in Brown: $67.50
  • Samshield Shadow Matte Helmet in Black: $439.00



Starbucks Stop… Ringside:

Anyone who knows Lauren knows she couldn’t live without coffee. So, with her show attire, she definitely had to include her caramel iced latte. Show days can lead to early mornings and late nights, so who wouldn’t need a little, sweet pick me up ringside.


This Combo Includes:

  • Kastel Long Sleeve Show Shirt in Navy: $95.00
  • Pikeur Lucinda Full Seat Breeches in White: $299.99
  • DeNiro Boot Co. Raffaello Top Rondine Tall Boots With Gretta Trim: $665.00
  • Samshield Shadow Matte Helmet in Navy: $439.00
  • Grande Carmel Latte: $4.45 at your local Starbucks Store


I really had a great time working with Lauren on this and doing the photoshoot at her family farm, IDA Farms. She is super nice and if you are ever in Wellington and are looking for a dressage lesson, shoot her a message and follow her on Instagram @laurenknoppdressage!

I hope that this stylebook helps my fellow preps with your styling. More to come with next months Equestrian Stylebook!

Until next time Preps,



Controlling Anxiety

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great Christmas! As the year is coming to a close, it’s time to start thinking about everyone’s favorite thing – New Years Resolutions! Okay, but seriously how many of us actually keep our resolutions? I don’t even plan on making any this year because I know they’ll last for 2 days tops. Lets face it, I love chocolate (and food).

I do, however, have several goals that I am wanting to accomplish this coming year: I’m hoping to get a patent for a design I’ve been working on, I have a young grand prix prospect that I’m wanting to have doing the 1.20m’s by the end of the year, I am wanting to start a breeding operation (I have step 1 done already – I bought a mare!), and I am hoping to get some of my long term project horses sold for a nice chunk of change. The list goes on and on but these are my big goals for next year!

If you’re like me, you probably get a little bit anxious thinking about everything you want to accomplish whether it be for the day, month, or year. A little anxiety can be good because it keeps you motivated, but too much can be crippling and then it’s time to find ways to deal with it. Over the years, I’ve found a few tips and tricks to help me deal with my anxiety so that I can continue to have big dreams and reach them!

Tip #1 – Make lists!
I can’t tell you how much I love making lists and how much they’ve helped me to keep my mind calmer. Literally the first thing I do when I wake up is make a list for what I need to do today. It helps me stay more focused and it’s pretty rewarding to get something crossed off the list! I know that sounds silly but I promise it’s rewarding. I make lists for everything now. I have a whole notebook full of lists for what tack I need to get, what my short term and long term goals are, what horse shows I want to attend, etc. Lists are awesome and if you haven’t discovered them already I encourage you to give them a try!

Tip #2 – Exercise
Whether it be going for a quick walk or a 5 mile run any form of exercise is good for the mind and body. Exercise releases endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body meaning that any anxiety will be gone at least for a little while after you finish your workout. Plus, running will help strengthen legs and I don’t think I need to tell anyone twice about the benefits of strong legs with riding horses!

Tip #3 – Keep working
A friend posted something on Instagram years ago and I don’t remember the exact words but it was something like “The best way to treat anxiety is to keep working” and it’s stuck with me ever since. I’ve had days where I just get so anxious that I can’t get myself to do anything but as soon as I do start doing something my anxiety goes away. This kind of goes back to what I said about being able to cross things off the list – it’s so good for the anxious mind to feel like things are getting done.

I genuinely hope these tips will help anyone like myself, so that we can continue on accomplishing anything we wish to! I hope you all have had a great 2016 and have an even better 2017. And if you make New Years resolutions, I hope you last longer than I ever have!

Until next time,



How To: Painless No Stirrup Work

Everybody hates no stirrup work. Every single one of us and there is no denying it. Though I am posting this in December, that doesn’t mean you can’t apply it to every ride. And contrary to popular belief, no stirrup work should build both horse and rider. The exercises that you do should benefit you both rather than one or the other.


Personally, I love to work no stirrup work into almost every ride. It helps me to develop all of the muscles in my core and lower leg needed in day to day riding. It also eliminates the undue stress on my horse’s back that comes with doing no stirrup work every ride, for a full month, without any prior conditioning.


I have compiled a list of 6 fun exercises to help make your no stirrup work painless and helpful.


Exercise 1: Leg On the Shoulder

  • This exercise is meant to work on your balance at all gaits
    move leg forward past the knee roll area onto the shoulder

    You work this exercise by placing your one of your legs over the “knee roll” area of the saddle so your calf is resting on the horse’s shoulder

  1. On a 20 meter circle start at the walk and keep your balance centered in the middle of the saddle
  2. After you feel comfortable, pick up the canter
  3. Still on the 20m circle, trot half then transition back down to the walk for the second half, then after the walk half, pick up the canter once again
  4. Repeat step 4, however, many times you feel are needed until you have kept a nice balanced, round canter on the circle
  5. Once you have reached that balanced and round canter, start at step one again with the other leg


Exercise 2: Alternating Raised Poles

  • This exercise is meant to build your horse’s hind end and to help you develop lower leg muscles
  1. Place four poles 3 feet apart on the ground
  2. Place blocks, buckets, or any 4 same height objects under alternating sides of the poles

    Photo Credit to Google
  3. Drop your stirrups and cross them over the front of the saddle so they are out of the way (you can also take them completely off if you aren’t working with them at all that ride)
  4. Go through the poles at an even and steady posting trot
  5. You may experience a throwing forward or up feeling the first few rounds through but don’t fret! It is just your horse pushing up and engaging their hind end over the poles, it will become more comfortable as you go!
  6. Repeat step 4 as many times as you feel necessary from both directions
  7. If you have been working this exercise and others to develop your seat a lot, feel free to try this at a sitting trot too!


Exercise 3-6: Bending Around The Leg on Circles

  • This exercise is meant to build a response from your horse when asking to bend around it and build your lower leg muscles and seat
  • The photos explain themselves but I will put a brief summary of each with some extra stuff you can add on for difficulty!


  1. This helps to work on the gentler bend in the horse’s neck and can  also work on forwardness along the long side. This exercise is meant to be performed at the rising trot
  2. This helps to work on keeping control in a forward gate by adding a 15meter circle to bring them back under your seat. To add difficulty, try this at a sitting trot!
  3. This helps to work on deep and full corners. It is especially got for horses who like to fall inward in the trot and canter. This exercise is meant to performed at both the trot and canter.

The “Being OK with not competing”

Let’s be honest I don’t think anyone doesn’t like being a little competitive… Especially in the equestrian world. Most of you now know that my everyday life and work takes a good portion of my days. I’ve come to terms that right now just isn’t a good time to try and compete.  As bad as I’d love to strut down center line with my gal… I know it’s not in the cards.


But on the flip side… You can never stop learning especially as I rider. In turn I look at this break in competing as time I can really work on myself and learn as much as I can. River and I continue to train at least once a week. We may not progressing as fast as others but I’m ok with it and am proud of all that we’ve achieved.

Total side note: I enjoy watching and supporting close friends in their competing careers. You can never go wrong there. Sometimes I think young riders especially need people to support them… Regarless how many ribbons or medals. My husband has stood by my side in this crazy horse passion. Its hard for some people to understand our passion… I guess I’ve been lucky. 0803161119c.jpg

We are wishing everyone the happiest of holidays! Be sure to spoil your ponies a little extra from The Chassion Family & River 🐴

My Favorite Things

Equestrian Fashion has always been one of my absolute favorite things to wear, look out, drool over, etc. Here are just a taste of my go to equestrian shops and items for horse and rider

  • Equestri Lifestyle is hands down my go to store to purchase clothing from. Alexa is so incredibly sweet and easy to deal with and all their products are FANTASTIC. They are always up to date on the latest fashion trends and have fabulous prices. They also have an amazing consignment and sale section. screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-2-34-42-pm
  • CWD is the only type of saddle I will allow on my horses. The leather is always buttery soft and comfortable for both horse and rider. Shout out to the best Sales Rep ever Turea (NJ) screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-2-43-06-pm
  • E.C. Equestrian (saddle pad shown above with CWD) is my FAVORITE for ANYTHING saddle pad related. She also specializes in stirrup covers, saddle covers, polos, etc- basically anything that can be sewn, Elizabeth can make and make is phenomenally.  All my show horses school and show in her items. And to be honest, I’d be lost without her friendship.
  • The Oily Stable is new to the equestrian community but oh my goodness, I HIGHLY recommend them! They are an essential oil based business specializing in the benefits that oils have for horses and their riders ( I also use them on my babies). My favorite oils so far are peppermint and lavender <– only thing that helps my 6 week old sleep.img_8453
  • ColorTack is my new addiction! So far I have 3 different colored sets of spurs and I’m definitely getting more. Totally hooked! They are “beautiful custom colored spurs and stirrups, finished with a space age polymer ceramic finish.” They are beautifully paired with my new DeNiro custom boots.screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-2-57-07-pm
  • DeNiro : Being so short and having such large calves (thanks parentals for the weird genes) every boot I get has to be custom. UGH! So, I’m always used to spending an arm and a leg to get that nice boot. I’ve tried literally every brand you can think of and was just semi happy with the outcome until I tried DeNiro Boots. Not only were the fully custom ones ridiculously affordable, but they are also so beautiful, hold up well and are so comfy. I will NEVER use another brand ever again.
  • Ogilvy: They speak for themselves. They are the best half pads I’ve ever used and the fact that you can fully customize them is amazing.
  • SmartPak : I have about a million horses on their supplements right now. I’m the least organized person ever and their system works wonders for me and my horses. I also have to give a huge shout out to them with their shipping. Holy moly do they get you your items fast! I can order a Smartpak item and a Dover item at the same time- Smartpak will be there the next day and Dover takes weeks. Smartpak, you are the Santa Claus of shipping.
  • Millbrook Leathers: I honestly see a huge difference in my leg with their stirrup leathers. I was loosey goosey after coming back to riding after my maternity leave and my leg literally does not move now.
  • White Horse Couture makes the most stunning browbands ever. Literally, Princess worthy. I love all things glitter and they DO NOT disappoint. They are the Starbucks of browbands and oh my do I LOVE Starbucks
  • KASK Their helmets are my new obsession. They’re beautiful, functional, classy and most importantly keep your brains safe.screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-10-51-pm
  • Shapleys : I couldn’t be as successful as I am in the Hunter ring if it weren’t for Shapleys. I tend to choose animals with a ton of chrome and their products make my horses shine and sparkle.
  • OnTyte are the best show jumping stirrups. Their magnetic system gives you the perfect ride every time and you never have to worry about losing your stirrup over that triple again!



I could add about 100 more items to this list but that would take all year! But, here are my absolute favorites. Enjoy!

Sponsorships​: How To Get And Keep It

Sponsorships from brands big and small are what any equestrian strives for. To be recognized by a brand or applied to be a part of the company and asked then to join their team is a great feeling. I am blessed enough to be apart of 8 amazing companies and have had my fair share of experience with them. I have compiled a list of the Do’s and Don’ts and tips to keep your sponsorships. When looking for a good sponsor:

Do: Become very familiar with the company’s products and mission statement

When looking into a company for sponsorship, you need to be familiar with the brand and what they stand for. You can sweeten the deal by being a regular user of the products and they are one of your go-to’s.


Don’t: Apply for the same position with companies that sell similar or the exact same products

This is probably THE most important rule to follow. Don’t apply for sponsorships or ambassadorships with multiple companies that make/sell the same or similar products. Doing this will more than likely get you automatically cut from the list of contenders.


Do: Be professional when negotiating and in all communications

When communicating, whether it is by email, private message, or phone calls, you want to be professional and show that professionalism. By being this way, it can lead to recommendations and connections within the community.


Don’t: Expect free products from your sponsor

This is probably the second most important rule. Some companies are known worldwide like Ogilvy Equestrian or  CWD Sellier and some companies are smaller like EC Equestrian or Hippies On Horses. The bigger companies have large overheads and are able to send free products but smaller ones aren’t. But all of their support is equal and that is what it truly is all about but, a lot of people want to have an arsenal of companies on their team. You need to look for quality over quantity in a good sponsor. Just because they send you free products, doesn’t mean that they make a good addition.


These are just a few of the do’s and don’ts of having and keeping a sponsorship. If you have any questions feel free to DM me on Instagram @equestrian.syd !


Until Next Time Prepsters,



AAW: Adult Ammy World

Hi everyone! I’m very excited to be able to join the team for another year of FUN. 2017 is just around the corner, and I can’t be the only one over the moon about the possibilities a new year brings. As 2016 comes to a close, so does my first year of competing as an adult amateur through the USDF and a thousand more lessons I have learned while watching the world through a pair of red ears. I’ve decided to share the top 4 things I’ve taken away from this new era of my riding career.

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Baby Joy and baby Bailey.
  1. What an adult amateur is:

Per the USEF General Rulebook: an adult amateur is someone 21 or older that does not accept monetary or gift compensation for competing, training, breeding, or coaching. Those between 18 and 21 are Young Riders and compete as such. It gets a lot more complicated than that, but the general gist of it is that if any type of compensation over $300 is being traded for services, you are deemed a professional. Anything under $300 is not considered remuneration, but the situation can get sticky if people believe you’re receiving money for services. Make sure to keep immaculate records of donations or brand ambassadorship (hint hint, insta ladies!) that way if necessary, you have proof you’re following the rules. Sponsorship can be very tricky too, so make sure to clarify with the USDF/USEF before accepting any sponsorship you think could be questioned. The last thing you need is trouble from your governing bodies!

  1. Take every educational opportunity you get.

Get in contact with your local competing body and GET INVOLVED! I try to get as much time to watch tests or volunteer as scribe to continue my education. As an AA now, automatic educational opportunities have begun to wane. The USDF has done a fantastic job of building an AA program to help foster more learning, but I still believe it takes a lot of personal initiative to continue your own dressage education. So scribe, gate keep, audit, clinic, with open ears and a principled heart. You’ll know what’s right and wrong, and even if you can’t afford to show or be in every clinic, you still take away lessons that you can bring back to your personal riding. One of my favorite things is have a riding friend of yours (that you TRUST) come and ride your horse. Give them a lesson or ask them what they feel. Listen to what you’re saying and what they’re feeling, because with every word you’re learning something. You might not agree 100%, but you’re still learning, and as my trainer told me, “when you think you’ve learned it all, get off the horse and don’t get back on.”

Offer to get your hands dirty and observe as many lessons as you can.
  1. Budgeting

While financial management is a HUGE life skill for the rest of your life, it’s especially essential to understand just what a mountain you’re going to have to climb when paying your own bills and your horses. During college, I was EXCEPTIONALLY lucky to be able to have my horses on my parents’ property, where I was spoiled to live rent free and for the most part, bill free, while working part time to accumulate savings and have money to pay horse bills – vet, farrier, feed, tack, facility fees for the stable that let me use their grounds to train, and shows. Eventually, that transitioned to still living at home, but boarding full time but working off some with manual labor and helping around and working full time. The next step was moving out of my house for the first time, working full time, and boarding two horses. Rent on top of board on top of day to day expenses make you really realize what a luxury having a horse is, much less two. Suddenly paying all the expenses for both horses (my retired show pony and my completion horse) means living on a shoestring budget with not much wiggle room. We made it through this year with heavy competing, not without financial pitfalls here and there. Going into 2017, I’ve definitely revamped my finances, especially going into a brand new training program at a new boarding stable, and limited my showing expectations in lieu of just enjoying my horses.

  1. Horses First, No Matter What

This might seem like a no brainer, but if you’re like me where you’re used to being able to check on your horses 3x a day, not including riding, the adult ammy lifestyle comes at a bit of a shock. Sometimes doing what’s best for your horse means sacrificing your time with them, either to work and get money to keep them fed with or sacrificing riding to make sure stalls are cleaned and you have their feed mixed for the evening properly. It’s not great. It limits your riding time, leaving you a little nonplussed at how to juggle all the things in your life when suddenly, riding cannot be your main focus in your life. Training wise, this often feels like you take a step forward and three steps back, especially if you can’t afford a trainer to ride your horse in the days life gets in the way of you riding. With all that in mind, time with your horse becomes even more precious and pure. A good grooming or some grazing should mean the world to you, even if you can’t afford a clinic or the weather rains out the arena so you can’t ride the one day you have off. Again, horses are a LUXURY we are lucky enough to enjoy, and they need to be treated as such. So many people dream of riding, or even someday leasing a horse, but we get the opportunity and the privilege to call these animals our life partners. They deserve all the hard work we can provide and all the love we give, so enjoy any moment you get no matter if it’s a brief curry or a ride down centerline.

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Grown Joy and newly AA Bailey.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out to me and I’m happy to help. My AA career is in full swing as a college graduate, working full time, two horses, and now, law school applications for fall of 2017. Keeping horses through college isn’t impossible, especially if you have a job or with your parents’ help, but if you need any advice, I’ve got your back.


Happy riding, ladies!

Much love,


A Little Bit About The Oily Stable

Hi, I’m Hannah and I run The Oily Stable with my cousin Miranda! Today I’m going to share a little about our mission and our products! 

I have been using essential oils for a few years but never on my horse till this past April when I trailered Phippen across the US! I fell in love with using natural and pure products on my horse and now I use them in my everyday life!

“The Oily Stable is our way of providing equestrians with products that not only address their riding challenges but also help them rest and address needs elsewhere. Our hope is to help young riders reach their full potential in all areas life—whether in the stable, at school, or in their social lives. Every equestrian deserves to train and participate in this sport while also leading a fun, healthy, and joyful lifestyle.We’re striving to get rid of as many toxic chemicals from the barn as possible. We aren’t where we want to be just yet, but we are researching, finding, and creating DIY blends and recipes and using the oils often on both horse and rider with success!” 

Facebook: The Oily Stable

Instagram: @theoilystable


Here is Miranda and I’s Instagram’s: @Hannah_Equestrian @Miranda_burch

introduction & a quick look inside the life of a professional

to start off with, i just wanted to say how excited i am to be apart of the preppy equestrian team! i thought i would go ahead and give a quick introduction on myself. my name is stephanie prince and i’m a professional hunter/jumper trainer based in southern illinois. i currently have 7 horses, 4 of which are personal horses and the rest are sale horses. most of my horses i get off the track and then retrain them for the hunter/jumper world.


only being 23 and having just turned professional a few months ago i’m still learning how to run a successful operation and balance that with a successful riding career, but what a fun learning experience it is. i’m so grateful that i get to do what i love for a living, especially something that is so rewarding. there is nothing better than seeing young horses take the next step forward in their progress, whether it be learning their flying changes or moving up to the next level in the show ring, etc. it is equally rewarding watching your students learn and grow and be successful in and out of the ring.

all that success does not come without hard work though. gone are the days where you only have yourself to worry about. i spend a minimum of 10 hours at the barn daily schooling horses, teaching students, doing barn chores and whatever else that might need done. i put in so much time planning and managing my horses careers, my career, and my students careers as well. most nights i spend reading books or doing research online on training horses or looking for new project horses. it’s quite frankly exhausting at times but so totally worth it.

there is still so much for me to learn in managing a profitable horse business but i have come so far already and am looking forward to what’s in store. everyday i learn something new and that is one of my most favorite parts of this sport. the most recent lesson i’ve learned is to not undervalue my work. whether it be what you charge for riding lessons or your asking price on a horse, don’t cheat yourself. you work really hard doing this so make sure you’re getting what you deserve! it took me a while to learn that but it’s such an important lesson to learn in order to have a successful (and profitable) horse operation.

i look forward to sharing my journey with you all and again i’m so happy to be apart of the preppy equestrian team! it should be a lot of fun!


Introduction and Young Horse Doubts



I’m beyond excited to be a part of the Preppy Equestrian Blog Team! To start off my first post, I thought I’d give a (hopefully) short introduction on who I am. My name is Alex Banks, my horse’s name is Finn and we are based in Louisville, Kentucky. I have been riding for the majority of my life; 12 years out of 17. Gosh, that’s a long time. I started out with saddle seat for the first 6 years then spent around two years doing small classes at local hunter/jumper shows. Nothing fancy, just 2′-2’6″ classes. When I purchased my first horse, Mac, I switched over to eventing and have been in love with it ever since. I had Mac for a little less than a year and then I switched barns and purchased my current horse, Finn.  Finn was a 5 year old who had only done one training level event. In the two years since I have had him, we have moved up from beginner novice to qualifying and competing at the American Eventing Championships at training to successfully completing three preliminaries this fall.

Success has not come easy, as anyone who has brought a young horse up the levels knows. It takes dedication, patience and, most of all, perseverance and humility. I didn’t follow the tips below perfectly, but I promise that if you try to follow them, you will see progress.

Tip number 1) Try to remain as calm and positive as you can when riding. Horses are all different and all respond to your (the rider’s) emotions differently. Finn is a naturally sensitive horse. He gets nervous when learning new things and becomes extremely overwhelmed when he believes he has done something wrong. So, I make things easy for him so that it’s hard for him to do wrong. If learning shoulder in, ask for a little, maybe three or four steps, then go straight and keep them forward. Keep it positive and make it harder only when you feel like your horse will be successful. Nothing is going to be perfect the first time. Some horses learn faster than others, but never expect perfection first time out. And if it doesn’t go as planned, stay calm and don’t get upset. Positivity is your best friend.

Tip number 2) Never rush your horse’s progress. Especially when moving up levels, don’t rush it. It doesn’t matter what type of riding you do; jumpers, eventing, dressage, whatever; listen to your horse. You want the next level to be successful. For horses, the time it takes to build confidence differs. Some horses have the ability to move up three levels in the course of a year. Some horses take two years to move up two levels. Each horse is an individual and should be treated as such. There is absolutely no rush to move up so just take your time!

Tip number 3) Make sure you find the horse that’s right for you! Each horse is an individual just as much as each person is individually unique! Some people mesh better than others and the same goes for people and horses. Much of the time, you can rely on your trainer to help you decide if the two of you will get along. Choose a horse that you will want to be around every day. Chose a personality and work ethic in a horse that works for you and you will be far more likely to withstand the set backs and upsets that inevitably come with horses.

I will not lie and say it has been easy with Finn. I’ve cried and thought about quitting on a number of occasions but the thought of losing is far more heartbreaking than any upset I have experienced with my riding. What I can always rely on as a push to continue is the progress that I can now visibly see happening. The biggest tip I can give you is to just never give up. There will always be a silver lining, not matter how dark the sky might seem. There has been progress, even if it’s miniscule. Hold on. Take a step back. Breathe. Remember why you started riding in the first place. For the love of horses.