Thursday, December 31, 2015

2k15: A Review

Yeah, we're doing this again. I like year end reflections because I can shamelessly praise myself.

So, yeah, this year was an adventure, but I had already predicted that in January, so cheers to me for being psychic. There were a lot of ups and downs. I was definitely riding on a high from, like, October to April because so many things were going right, but what goes up must come down. I crashed, literally and metaphorically, and while it started out slow, it got pretty bad pretty quick. I finally bit the bullet and switched barns, but it was long overdue at that point, and I'm still working through the issues, slowly but surely.

So, key events for this year in chronological order:
    - Saw Jacob Pope in the flesh   
    - Went to WEF

    - Took risks with Zoey
    - Encountered & conquered Corbinators 4.0, 3.5, and 4.0 Junior Edition

    - Probably screamed profanities at the snow at some point
    - Actually became a partner with Baby
    - Kinda got it together with Molly
    - Competed at IEA Regionals
    - Schooled at 3'0"ish

    - Crashed and burned
    - Switched trainers
    - Opened up my apparel shop
    - Joined an IHSA team
    - Went to WIHS

    - Rode in a Dressage saddle

Yes, cursing at snow is a key event. But I did also get snow pictures which was nice.

In August, I listed out four new goals for the remainder of the year, and I pretty much halfway accomplished all of them, so they're getting checks in my book.

✔Not panic at my first IHSA show
It was a two day show, and while I panicked on Saturday, it subsided halfway through the class, and then I didn't panic at all on Sunday, so high five to me.

✔Re-establish the sitting trot/canter
Sitting in a huntseat saddle is #TheStruggle, but I can kinda do it in a Dressage saddle, so there's that and another high five.

✔Soften and sit up to fences
Actually yes, we did accomplish this, mainly with the help of Sir Victor, but he also helped me make a slight adjustment to my jumping style as well. Here's a third high five for my ability to adjust.

✔Have more confidence on strong horses
Eh, I haven't really ridden any strong horses since I got to school. I've been on forward horses, but they're all fairly responsive when I panic and say whoa. Whatever, forward horses were an issue anyway, plus I can't 100% control all the variables, so there's the final high five.

So, what's in store for next year? No idea. Don't really wanna think about it. We'll get there when we get there.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

"Rustic Barn" Barn Layout

Okay, I actually got fortunate with this one and found the actual, original image files in the depths of my mom's old laptop. They look 1000x better than the scan of the printed image. I never knew pixels could be so pain inducing.

This one was based off of a barn I saw on the forum (and wow, this place got a major update) a loooooong time ago (I'm talking years). As I recall, it was a beautiful barn, quite rustic with it's gambrel roof and dark wood siding. It was large, too, and somewhat high end.

Anyway, not the point here. I actually loved the look of the barn because while it was upscale, it was practical, and there's nothing I love more than seeing functional luxury.

So, here's the full plan. The detailed views are following.

So, here's the barn, first floor and second floor. The roof is two gambrels that cross right through each other, so vertical space is pretty good. The biggest change I would make is to the stall sizes. Literally everything except the foaling stalls should just be 12' x 12' to make things easier. This is a bit extra right now. I would also close off the grain room from the hay and let the hay be open on the aisle side. Above it would be open to the loft, and of course the ladder would need to be re-positioned, but that's an easy fix. Other than that, the general layout if nice to me and has good flow. I should also design the living quarters, but meh.

The arena is pretty straightforward. I think with this size I can fit a small Dressage ring in there, too. 80' is actually a preferred width for me. Large enough for Dressage, small enough to make you work when you jump. Always design with the inhabitant in mind.

Style: Gambrel
    (4) 12' x 14' Stall
    (4) 14' x 18' Stall
    (4) 12' x 20' Stall
    (1) 12' x 14' Wash Stall
Tack: 14' x 20'
Feed: 12' x 14' (Hay) & 12' x 20' (Grain)
Width: 150'
Depth: 148'

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


As a hopeful architect, it's important that I have some education and/or experience with the associated fields, such as mechanical and civil engineering, but those are difficult and require a lot of math and logic. As they say, architects are dreamers. It's the engineers' job to make that dream a reality, no matter how many laws of physics they must break in the process. Anyway, interior design is also a field closely related to architecture, and I personally think that it's near impossible to design a house without considering the smaller details that go into making it a home.

It is for this reason that I am currently obsessing over Darcy White Designs. The majority of minimalist styled interiors bother the heck out of me because it's overdone. Newsflash: You don't have to live in a white-washed abstract to appreciate minimalism. Darcy's shop is similar to mine in that she makes the designs while another company (in her case Red Bubble) puts them on various items. Her minimalist designs paired with Red Bubble's extensive product line create a number of equestrian items that get the point across in a simple way.

These pillows are my major fancy right now. Plain white pillows with snaffle bits match with literally anything. When I actually plan my dorm room design ahead of time, these will definitely be a part of it. Until then, I can only dream.

"Get your boots out of my living room!"

There are also pictures, both framed and canvas style to decorate with. Of course there are tons of other non-interior design oriented products like phone cases, notebooks, and even stickers. Who could possibly resist this super cute tote?

Shops like these are precisely the reason I have Australian friends.

Darcy White Designs // Tumblr // Instagram

Monday, December 28, 2015

"Harbour Pointe Barn" Barn Layout

This barn is based off of one in my neighborhood (yeah, two barns in my neighborhood, damn suburbs). It's a small thing, but I've only ever seen one side of it, and that's the front side, so I base the plans off of that. The property is currently up for sale, but my parents want to move to the Caribbean next, so that's out of the question. Maybe it'll still be for sale when I'm ready to move out in like 10 years.

It's just your typical barn, nothing super fancy (except those beautiful arrows done by moi). It's a decent set up.Of course, I did my math wrong at one point. The wash stall in the smaller barn is 14' x 14', not 12' x 14'.

Style: Gable
    (2/4) 12' x 12' Stall
    (1) 12' x 14' Wash Stall
    (1) 14' x 14' Wash Stall
Tack: 16' x 14'/12' x 18'
Feed: n/a
Width: 80'
Depth: 30'/44'

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Classical Inclinations: Interview with Katie (@theclassicalhorse)

If anyone ever tells you that Instagram isn’t useful, please allow me to smack them silly. It was through the social site that I came to know of Katie and her lovely Lusitano gelding, Babaloo. It was nice to come across someone else who was as fond of classical Dressage as I am, and it was through her that I learned about positive reinforcement. She's been a huge inspiration for me, and it was exciting to talk to her about her experience.

Katie started riding in the 5th grade at a lower end, backyard barn with a hunter/jumper trainer. She then moved to a saddleseat barn where she competed at small tournaments, but she wasn’t super interested in competition. When she finally started looking for a horse, things remained complicated. She said that she had high expectations for her price range, but the reality was disappointing, even with Babaloo, who she affectionately calls Bubs. She says he was as good as it would get.

The struggle didn’t end there, either. Bubs came with quite a few under saddle issues. His previous owners rode with an overly tight noseband, and simply loosening it was confusing enough to cause problems. There were things that, while others would consider them normal, Katie began to question. That’s where she says her turning point was.

If anyone tells you that YouTube isn’t useful, please allow me to smack them silly. Katie came across videos by Marijke de Jong, a well-known classical Dressage trainer from the Netherlands. Prior to her more in depth Straightness Training program, Marijke shared her videos on YouTube. Katie saw the groundwork videos and was intrigued, but there was some justified hesitation in the beginning. Her trainer at the time didn’t have the know how to teach such maneuvers. It wasn’t until getting the home study set for her birthday that Katie finally decided to give it a go. It took a while, but the work made a difference in Bubs, and they have continued to progress with her new trainer. Katie says that as long as she has someone there to help, she will continue to work her way up with Bubs.

Tumblr // Instagram // Marijke De Jong Straightness Training

All photos are used with permission from

Saturday, December 26, 2015

"Summer Training" Arena Layout

Yeah, one time I did an arena, but not even an indoor arena, just a layout for some fencing. Such work. So effort.

In my defense, the announcer's booth would require some structure.

Style: Outdoor Arena
Fencing: 548.6 linear feet
    (1) 16' Double Gate
    (4) 8' Single Gate
Width: 108'
Depth: 180'

A Stallion Barn of Sorts

My return home over winter break led me to find my old binder full of blueprints, but these are like the super old ones from middle and early high school, the ones that make me cringe for the most part. I figure they're horse related, so I might as well share. I've got 50+ plans in the collection, so that's about how many you can look forward to.

I remember for the most part where the inspiration for most of these came from. This one was supposed to be a stallion barn for my future stallions (I can dream if I want to). What I notice in general from a lot of my older plans is that they tend to waste space.

Do I really need four wash stalls? What's with the two large open areas at both ends? What's with the awkward placement of all three stair cases? To clarify, the "Show Ring" isn't meant to be a competition ring. It's supposed to be a place to show stallions to people because apparently I expected people to visit me just to see my pretty horses. Can't say I still don't think that.

Of course the second floor remains completely unfinished because I always wanted to start a new plan whenever I was satisfied with the last.

Stats (cause I did these too):
Style: Gable
    (8) 12' x 16' Stalls
    (4) 12' x 16' Wash Stalls
Tack: 12' x 32'
Feed: n/a
Width: 160'
Depth: 84' (not including runs)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Fashion Thursday: Based In Black

Based In Black

1. Ted Baker Belt
    no longer available
2. Pretty321 Floral Sweater
3. Wilker's Hunter/Jumper Baby Pad
4. Charles Owen GR8 Helmet
5. Harrys Horse Black Diamond riding breech
    no longer available
6. Tekna CLUB Saddle
7. De Niro Salento Red Greta

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A reflection of sorts

I thought about saving this for my end of the year post, but it's a little bit separate from my goals and achievements. Plus, it's not exactly how I want to end the year

As a rider, I have developed a number of long standing habits that stem from less than stellar instruction and being over faced too many times. At this point, I still have trouble even with some basic components (e.g. actually sitting in the saddle and using my legs), especially when it comes to my shoulders. Despite being on so many different horses in such a short time, my skill set is quite limited, and it always takes a while before I can adequately control a new mount. Being repeatedly over-faced has made me wary of faster horses or even when a typically slower horse gets moving too quickly. At this point, shows are little more than expensive anxiety attacks.

I wouldn't care so much about my issues if they didn't persist so much. That's what I mean by "long standing". I feel like I have a pile of faults that I can't seem to move past, and I'm afraid that they will continue to limit and prevent me from achieving my long term goals. It was also kind of a slap in the face to be so close to over coming the biggest of these issues only to lose all of my confidence once again. To put it simply, I'm struggling.

There is a bright side to this, believe it or not. These feelings probably developed about halfway through this semester. I haven't had a single ride at school that I would deem "bad", nor have I had one close to it. That being said, none of them left me feeling as good as I have in my two most recent lessons with Miss El. Maybe I just need time to be home and have my rear end handed to me. I am still not sure if I want to continue competing because thus far it's been a hefty bill to pay for very little in return, but it's not something I need to think about right now.

When I spoke with Callan Solem, one of the things she said resonated greatly with me, and I wish I had the actual quote cause it sure was relevant. She said that just because something is difficult or just because you are struggling, it doesn't mean that you should give up. I thought about walking away from trying to advance because I was convinced that an attempt to do so was futile. I could still ride, and do it as a hobby, and there's no harm in that, but that's simply not what I want to do.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Out of genuine curiosity . . .

How many times have you walked out of the dressage ring? I'm asking for a friend.

Despite only warming up in the ring for maybe four laps total, we did manage to walk up once again. This dressage thing is just not for me.

Some rain made the footing less than ideal, so we rode out in the jumping field, and Abbey, the part-time jumper, got the wrong impression of what the day's work would be. I'd say this ride was better than the last in that it didn't take as long to get it together, but it the bad parts were exponentially worse, all because of either a) too much energy or b) a dropped right shoulder. Lots of right rein and right leg.

The whole ride was walk/halts and trot/halts with varied success. At the end, we did a figure eight, and I think that's when I started to figure out the right rein/right leg thing cause it was a hell of a lot of confusion. We attempted a canter, but it may or may not have been a trainwreck.

But again, she's a large baby horse . . . okay she's like 6 but that's still a baby.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Fashion Thursday: Decisions, Decisions

Please pardon me for putting $4k earrings in this set.

Decisions, Decisions . . .

1. Longshanks Polo Shirt
2. Mondoni Winchester Boots
3. 18K Baby Swiss Blue Topaz Earrings
4. SSG Lycrochet Horseshoe Back Glove
5. Tory Leather Snaffle Bit Belt
6. Newmarket Belle Breeches Ladies
7. Tekna CLUB Saddle
8. Wilkers Hunter/Jumper "Winning Colors" Saddle Pad
9. Samshield Helmet Alcantara Central Panel
10. HKM Roma Open Front Boots
11. Wilkers Hunter/Jumper Memory Foam Half Pad

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Professional Perspective: Interview with Callan Solem

When I went to WIHS with the Eq Team back in whatever month, I saw Callan Solem for the first time in the President's Cup. Immediately, I was impressed by her style. She pulled two clear rounds, and was sooo close to the win, but the Smolder got it at the last minute. It goes without saying that she is one of my favorites, and I may or may not have cried (hint: I cried) when she agreed to do an interview.

Callan began riding after doing one of those horseback riding things on the beach while on vacation. Her mother rode as a kid and while in college. At some point, the group split into two: one for riders who would be able to canter and one for the less experienced. When her mother went with the more experienced group, young Callan was "grossly offended", as any child would have been. She began taking lessons soon after, and she hasn't stopped riding since.

Callan said that she wanted to be a professional rider as long as she can remember. As soon as she understood what being a professional meant, it became a goal. I asked if there was anything that shocked her about the professional circuit, and she replied, "Daily." The biggest shock was the workload. At 17, the summer after graduating from high school, she became a working student for Carol Thompson. Living on site, she learned that there was always something to do, but she desired to grow as a horsewoman. She worked for Carol for 15 years. It required a lot of effort and a lot of "Yes, ma'am"s.

My biggest inquiry had to do with the stress that comes with riding on the upper level. Callan said that she created a system and environment where pressure brought the best out of her. Some research in sports psychology also helps her stay focused and in control of her mentality. Callan says that the amount of effort you put in links to stress management as well. If you've already taught yourself to put in 110% every day, going to a new situation where you have to put in that same amount of effort will not be nearly as stressful. It's just another day of putting in 110%.

In our time speaking to each other, Callan told me two hilarious stories, the second of which I have to share. Carol's husband was with the racing industry, and so he would bring young thoroughbreds back to the farm on occasion. Carol inquired whether Callan had ever broken in a horse baby horse, and, as I said earlier, there were a lot of "Yes, ma'am"s. Callan, who had never broken a baby horse, took a trip to the bookstore and bought a book on how to break horses. She backed them the next day and recalls that they were the easiest, sweetest young horses. To be honest, this sounds exactly like something I would do.

What's the moral of the story? Callan says that young people today aren't taking the kinds of risks that will help them advance. Of course, that doesn't mean you should find the nearest OTTB and back it ASAP, but we can't always stick to what's easier. We have to step out of our comfort zone and do the things that no one else wants to do in order to be the best that we can be.

Callan Solem // Facebook

Monday, December 14, 2015

Horses & High Fashion: Is there a better combination?

I have a confession to make. Back a long time ago (i.e. like 3 years), before I liked polo shirts, before my Polyvore even existed, before this blog was even a passing thought, I hated people who dressed up for riding. Yes, it's true. I thought it was the dumbest thing, but now I have a passion for fashion and a button down collection that could perhaps use some thinning.

As I was just beginning to find my own style, I came across a post by Style My Ride on Pinterest, and I was hooked instantly. I've never been one to dress conservatively, and their out of the box looks greatly intrigued me.

Taylor Burns for Style My Ride
I had a chance to talk with Noelle King, president of Style My Ride and Judge My Ride. Noelle has always been a lover of fashion, but the idea was influenced by then junior rider Taylor Land, who was already winning Grand Prixs in Show Jumping. Noelle says, "Taylor was one of the inspirations that helped shape the idea that had been formulating in my mind since I first fell in love with horses and fashion growing up." Taylor would sometimes even throw a tutu over her breeches just for the heck of it. For her and many others, fashion is a form of expression. Taylor's style made Noelle think about the combination of equestrian and everyday clothing to create an iconic look that tied together two worlds. Thus, the idea for SMR was born.

Taylor Land for Style My Ride
In 2013, Courtney Westmoreland-Rider joined the SMR team. Around the same time, SMR reached out to the esteemed De Niro Boot Company. Their partnership led to Noelle's next idea: the Vincero. If you remember the Crxssover post from this past spring, then you'll already know exactly how I feel about the Vincero: genius idea. Vinceros are custom boots made by De Niro for SMR, except they're a little bit different. They all feature interchangeable tops (and more recently interchangeable zip guards on polo boots). You can have a simple black boot with, say, four different tops to match with various outfits for various occasions. That's some serious convenience. Not to mention, Vinceros also have the same quality of all De Niro boots. After using the first pair of Vinceros for a shoot, Noelle field tested them and assured that the tops stay absolutely in place with no issues at all. They sound like the perfect holiday gift, if you ask me.

I asked Noelle about the future of the company, and she said that the goal is to keep exploring and incorporating new styles of riders, including different disciplines and menswear. Outside of new models, stay tuned for photoshoots and announcements on social media (there's a contest with 2kGrey happening right now!). Other than that, I can't tell you more. For some things, you just have to wait and see. // Facebook // tumblr // Pinterest // Instagram // Polyvore

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Pushing Pixel

Because some green ponies don't know the meaning of leg. Even after smuggling an apple from the diner for the posh pon, we barely got it together. But, honestly, his personality makes up for it.

The last ride of the semester was on Wednesday, and we got to ride our favorites. I picked Pixel (obviously), but I was stuck between him, Romeo, and Vick for a while. My confidence has been fairly low lately, and I didn't want to push it, so Pixel was the best option.

We started out with walk, trot, and canter, but for us it was more like lumber, fast jog, and maybe I'll canter, but I'd rather fast trot. We did one fence on the center line at the walk and trot, and that's when he actually got some forward motion. We also did the fence at an angle a couple of times, and Coach S threw in a half circle at the sitting trot plus a counter canter. It was eh for the most part and didn't really come together until we went through it the final time.

I'm itching for finals to be over so I can go home and see the mare.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fashion Thursday: Oh So Simple

Oh so simple

1. Holiday Hunt Sweater
2. Sevil Designs 14k Gold Ball Stud
3. Tory Burch Logo Belt
4. Mondoni Kingston Boots
5. Horze Silvia Denim Self Patch Breeches

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

If my calendar serves me right . . .

And by calendar, I mean Google, there is a little under a week left of Hanukkah. I would have actually posted this on the first day, but recent stress has clouded my memory. Also, my computer is having an emotional breakdown.

Anyway, while I am not religious at all, I did want to make some holiday oriented sweaters, so here you have it!

Nothing says "Happy Hanukkah" quite like getting eight horses. There are six colors: green, black, blue, orange, gray, & gold. Just click on the image to view the item.

I have one sweater on the way right now, but it's the Holiday Hunt Sweater. If there's an issue with sizing, material, etc, you guys will be the first to know.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...