Guardian Angel

It seems like every athlete at a high level has that one part of their body that is constantly bothering them. Knees and shoulders are pretty common, but for me, its my upper back and shoulders. Given the nature of show jumping, this is probably a common problem for a lot of equestrians.

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Horses and Hockey

Horses can wear their teams colours too!

I bet you’ve seen four-legged friends dressed up in modified miniature jerseys to help support their masters’ team. Problem with horses is, not only is it hard to find a jersey big enough for them, they really object to having things pulled over their heads. I think I found the ideal solution when I sewed a Boston Bruins’ crest onto a custom bonnet Steph and Katie at De La Coeur made for me. While the quality of product speaks for itself (read my original review here), the newest addition has created a wave of sports themed bonnets. Not only that, these orders haven’t been limited to hockey; check out the New England Patriots in the middle!

I have to say, I’m not too surprised that these bonnets took off the way they did – in fact, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. A lot of horse people are avid hockey fans, and unfortunately, a jersey isn’t considered appropriate show attire. The bonnets are the perfect way to show how much you and your horse love your team – all while still being properly turned out in the show ring.

If you don’t see your favourite team up there, then its up to you to change it! These bonnets currently available by special order only. Please contact De La Coeur or any of their retailers to order your team’s.

Happy Trails

PS – Yes, I’m going to confess that the primary aim of this post was to credit myself with starting the trend of hockey themed horse bonnets. This is the first time I have started a trend, so I hope you forgive me for capitalizing on it, and monopolizing the credit.

Don't forget about the bonnet that started it all! If you ask me, Cycan is the best looking boy to wear the Bruins B.

Loop Reins

Arc De Triomph Double Layer Reins (Photo Credit: ADT's website)

Nearly every coach will give their clients a little speech before they go into the ring to go over the course and remind them of those little things they need to remember. If you’re like me and (probably) the other 92.53% of riders out there, your coach reminds you to shorten your reins right before you go into the ring. I don’t know what it is about my hands, but I always seem to get longer and longer reins as I go around the ring. While in Florida this winter, Ainsley suggested I get a pair of loop reins to resolve this problem. There are quite a few products on the market that incorporate a loop or a handle into the reins, but I think that the best looking ones by far are made by L’Arc De Triomph.

Ivy flying with our ADT reins - WEF 2011 (Photo Credit - J.L Parker)

What I loved about these reins was how natural they felt in my hands. They’re made out of thin rubbery material that is no thicker than a regular leather rein. I barely had to make any adjustments – just slip my hands in and go! It was really useful for my speedy mare Ivy, who I found I was always holding back. Before I bought my pair, I was readjusting my reins around almost every corner, but once I started using the ADT’s Double Layer ones, I found the problem solved.

If you’re interested in getting a pair for yourself, you can always check out the L’Arc De Triomph website, Running Fox carries them and Blueberry Hill is well stocked with ADT products.

Happy Trails!

Riders 4 Helmets

Something really super awesome happened today. My past post on the importance of wearing your helmet was re-posted on the website (you can read the original post here). This website’s initiative is to get more and more equestrians wearing helmets every time they ride. I won’t bore you all to tears by telling you about my personal experience again, but I think you should listen to Courtney King Dye’s story.

To all my hunter/jumper friends out there that think its okay to go helmet-less while flatting, guess again. Courtney is an Olympic dressage rider, and probably a better flat rider than any of us. If this can happen to her, it can happen to us.

To any of my western riding readers out there, I’m asking you to seriously consider trading in your cowboy hat for a proper helmet. I have all the respect in the world for what you do with your horses, but it’s just as risky as English riding. I know you all look really great in your Stetsons, and I know that John Wayne never wore a Charles Owen or a GPA. However, I’ll bet that if enough of you joined the cause, a smart helmet manufacturer would make something safe that goes with the Western style.

Happy Trails!

Why You Should Buy Brand Names

If you were to look at me at the horse show ring you would see Cycan wearing a Dy’on bridle with a KK snaffle in his mouth, with either a De La Coeur or Talisman bonnet on his head. He would probably have Veredus back and grab boots and Eskadron polos on his legs. On his back there would be a Delgrange saddle and an Ogilvy pad and a Cheldric girth to hold it in place. I would probably be dressed with my Charles Owen helmet, Der Dau boots, Pikeur breeches, a Marigold jacket and a Cheval shirt.

A lot of you might have read all that and assumed that I was totally superficial and consumed with the brands my horse and I are wearing. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m one of those people where I prefer quality over quantity. I have several excellent reasons for this.

Cycan and I all decked out - Winter Equestrian Festival 2011 (Photo Credit: J.L Parker)

The first is that high quality products look good,  they stay good looking, and they stay functional. I’d much rather buy a product once, and have it last for a long time. My Delgrange saddle has been with me for most of my riding career (read about that here) and I have no intention of replacing it in the future.

The other thing is that a lot of hard work and effort goes into designing, testing and creating these quality products. Delgrange saddles for example, are hand made in France. De La Coeur ears are hand crocheted in Canada. Ogilvy Equestrian products and Cheval riding shirts are also made in Canada. Veredus boots are made in Italy and Charles Owen helmets are made in the UK.  What you notice is that all of these products are made in industrialized countries, and the people who make them are earning a fair wage. While these higher wages can lead to a more expensive product, I think its well worth supporting.

Charles Owen AYR8 - Made in England

While it would be inappropriate for me to name names, there are a lot of equestrian products on the market that are outsourced to developing countries like China and India. While I realize that they can create a good quality product at a cheaper price, I don’t see the point in buying it when there is very little difference in the price I pay. For example, I would much rather pay $500 for a riding jacket that was custom made for me in Canada, than one for $450 dollars that was made in China. Let’s remind ourselves that the reason why these products can be made cheaper there is that China has a less than stellar human rights track record.  I’m not against imported products by any means, but I think that if there are two products of comparable quality and price, that I should buy Canadian (or at least developed-country) made. If you’re going to complain about Canadian industries suffering, you can be part of the solution by buying something that was made in your backyard.

Lastly, I think its important that entrepreneurs that are trying to make a quality product are rewarded for their innovation. How would you feel if you poured your heart and soul, as well as time effort and money, into a product, only to have a competitor steal your idea, outsource it to China, and then nudge you out of the market by beating your price? Not good I’ll bet.

Happy Trails!