Posted in Dressage, Featured Rider

Emily and Goose – Journey to the National Dressage Pony Cup

I recently wrote about the connections I have made with riders from across the world via Instagram, one such rider is Emily Grimstead. The first thing you will undoubtedly notice when you scroll through Emily’s feed is her spunky, spotty pony Goosebumps or Goose for short. 

Emily and Goose recently returned from a very successful trip to the National Dressage Pony Cup, where they competed in the USDF Training Level and musical freestyle classes.

Despite growing up with a horsey mother, it took Emily a few years to overcome her fear of horses and start riding at the age of 10, “I think I was just nervous about riding something so high off the ground. I was a timid rider for a long time. I’ve always been more comfortable on smaller horses and ponies”.  

During her years as a rider Emily has tried her hand at most equestrian sports from showing her first horse, Cory a purebred Arabian (who is now 30!) to Western pleasure to hunter/jumpers and found dressage accidentally. “There was a dressage clinic at the camp on Valentine’s Day in 2015 and I just fell in love with the sport! Now, I could never go back to a different discipline. Dressage is just so fun and challenging; there is just so much to learn!”

Although Goose, now 17, keeps Emily on her toes as he continues to come up with new ‘tricks’, he has come a long way from the dangerous pony that Cindy Bellis-Jones rescued from slaughter. Cindy said, “There are just ponies that through no fault of their own have travelled down the wrong path and find themselves in a bad situation. They come in all colors, but share a common denominator of needing a helping hand to get back to a better place. Goose was one of those ponies. I tried to look past the surface and instead see what the pony really was. Goose needed a purpose. That is what I saw. His color, although quite neat, really didn’t influence my decision [to save him]. He would have travelled back to my farm in any color.”

Goose when he was purchased by Emily’s mum
The first meeting between Emily and Goose happened by chance, as he was agisted at the barn where Emily was riding.  Although she didn’t ride him at the time, it was love at first sight, “He just had the sweetest personality!” When the owners put the barn and horses up for sale some years later, Emily’s mother, who teaches begginer riding lessons at a Girl Scout camp, purchased him with the intention of using him in the program. However, this wasn’t quite the right job for Goose who true to his pony nature would be naughty and quite difficult for the young riders to manage. So Emily took him on as her own project, and he flourished with the consistency of one rider. 

The journey from rescue pony to Breed Champion at Pony Cup was not without some bumps in the road. At their first competition together, Emily recalls, “Goose was so naughty that he had to be led into the arena by my husband! We also had some serious trailering issues that we had to work through to get him there.”

Emily and Goose at their first competition
Emily discovered the National Dressage Pony Cup when investigating what opportunities existed for adults who ride dressage ponies. With this goal in mind Emily went from being a weekend rider to working hard and riding about five days per week. She says that “The prospect of going [to the National Pony Cup] really motivated me to push harder as an equestrian and to try to be a better rider”.

For Emily the highlight of her time at the Pony Cup was receiving the high point Appaloosa pony breed award at the competitor’s dinner. “It was a complete surprise and I am so thankful. Having Goosebumps win a beautiful champion neck sash was just a dream come true!”

Emily and Goose competing at the National Dressage Pony Cup
I asked Emily what she has learned during her journey and her response could not have been more perfect, “Have patience. Correct training takes a lot of time and it is just as strange and difficult for our horses to learn new things as it is for us as riders. I feel like it has taken over two years just to get to a place where a lot of other riders start out. But accomplishing a goal on a pony that you trained yourself? There is no better feeling!”

Posted in Uncategorized

Insta-Love – Equestrians on Instagram

When you think social media you could be forgiven for not being overwhelmed by a surge of warm fuzzy feelings, but that is exactly what I get when I think of community I have found via Instagram.

While I am lucky to have many meaningful friendships in my life, there is something special about the way you connect with another person who fundamentally gets your passion, someone whose life revolves around the mighty horse. Where I live in North Queensland there are very few other dressage enthusiasts, in the past this has left me feeling a little isolated and not fully understood.

As patient and supportive as my partner is he doesn’t quite get the ecstasy that comes with riding that perfect flying change on your own or how a bad ride can totally ruin your day. 

But when I joined Instagram a little under two years ago I found a group of people who got it. They are people who celebrate  each other’s successes, comisterate over injuries, tell it like it is and most importantly remind me of the type of rider and horse person I want to be. 

Instagram has allowed me to connect with people all over the world, some of whom now feel like real life friends.

Posted in Nutrition and Fitness

The other equestrian athlete

As I watched Nonie fall asleep under the therapytic touch of our incredible equine body worker Penny, I couldn’t help but giggle. While my horse gets fairly regular tune ups to keep her supple and fit, I have never had a massage.

You’ll often here equestrians joke that their horses diet has been analysed and balanced through the latest high tech computer program, while they grab McDonald’s on the way home from the barn. 

Photo Credit Emily Cole – to be clear there is nothing wrong with cupcakes or McDonalds

Nonie works through a range of exercises five to six days per week aimed at optimising her suppleness, physical fitness and building strength. I other the other hand participate in non horse related exercise on a sporadic basis.

Our horses are athletes and we care for them accordingly. Us as riders? Historically we have forgotten that we are the other equestrian athlete. But there is a rising awareness in the broader equine community about the importance of rider fitness and nutrition. As a dietitian this fills me with equal parts excitement and dread. Optimising fitness and nutrition can offer advantages in the competition arena. Although I dare say that the nutrition side of things looks very different than many would expect. That is to say that for a sport such a horse riding extreme measures do not need to be taken and the results may not be visible.

My fear is that this message has been contorted into something that it was never meant to be. We live in a society where our cultural obsession with thinness has seeped into our understanding of health and our perception of what an athlete should look like. But you cannot possibly determine a persons health, fitness or athletic ability by looking at them. I fear that for some riders their pursuit of becoming the best athlete they can be is a facade for their desire to meet society’s ridiculous beauty ideals, and all to often they themselves may not realise this.

I want to open up the conversation about body image within the equestrian community, I want to talk about the myth that you have to look a certain way to be a good rider and I do want to share some no nonsense nutrition information with the aim of improving performance NOT manipulating and controlling your body. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Getting the most out of your riding lesson

This weekend I was lucky enough to ride at the Kim Weston clinic hosted by PVS Training & Equine Services in Bowen, North Queensland. This meant a three hour drive, but it was definitely worth it, as Kim is a incredibly experienced coach and this comes across in the way she communicates and approaches dressage in general.

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Because I often have to travel to lessons and they are not as regular as I would like (I am lucky to get lessons once every six weeks) I have figured out a few strategies to ensure that I make the most of this valuable lesson time.

Be warmed up and ready to start on time.

Allow plenty of time to get to your lessons so that you don’t start off flustered. It sounds simple, but nothing will throw you out more than arriving without enough time to settle in, saddle up and warm up. If you are traveling any distance it is worth considering your horses fitness level and factoring in some recovery time. Being warmed up means that you can maximize lesson time spent on new exercises or working on more challenging areas of your training.

Of course, there may be times when you want guidance and input on this aspect of your training, however you will still likely want to have a walk and trot on a loose rein to get their blood (and yours!) pumping.

Know what you want to get out of your lesson.

Coaches will often ask at the beginning of the lesson what you would like to work on, so it is worth reflecting on what areas of your training have been challenging you or where you are loosing marks in your tests. This will help to guide the direction of your lesson as well as enabling you to articulate to your coach exactly what is happening.

Be open to learning and making changes.

This one probably seems pretty obvious, after all we are having lessons in order to improve our riding and our horses way of going and we understand that change is required to facilitate improvements. However, sometimes a coach will ask you to do something which initially seems strange and almost any time we need to make big changes these will initially feel awkward. Some of the best outcomes I have had have been from lessons where a coach has made a big change to my position. In other situations my coach will push me further or make me do something I wouldn’t normally try . Again this is a good thing it means that I am leaving my comfort zone and after all our greatest growth occurs outside our comfort zone.


Ask questions.

I cannot emphasise this point enough. As someone who likes to know how and why things work I ask lots of questions especially  when working on something new. This helps to cement this new idea in my brain. Equally, you may feel that you should already know the aids for canter or leg yield, but if it is not 100% clear in your mind ask! Many coaches and riders will use a slight variation on aids and one may suit you more than the other. Furthermore, your coach would prefer you know, than to just bluff your way through.

Write notes as soon as possible after your lesson.

I am a visual learner and also slightly type A, so writing down the points I have learnt from my lessons is something which comes fairly naturally to me. I find that the process of thinking back over my lesson and identifying new exercises, key points and changes really helps to solidify this learning in my mind. I have also had times when I have been having difficulty with a particular movement of area of my training and have looked back over my lesson notes to help me trouble shoot.

Wear comfortable clothes and tack.

No! A lesson is not the right time to wear your new Celeris top boots no matter how excited you are to christen them. Equally, clothing which rubs or pulls is likely to distract you from your horse and your position.

I personally, also feel that it is important that both you and your horse be clean, tidy and well presented out of respect for your coach and to put your best hoof forward.


I hope these tips will help you to maximise precious lesson time.

Posted in Uncategorized

My love affair with dressage

“I probably could have really tortured both of us and just stuck with dressage, gotten a top hat and tails, and gone on to prix st George’s, but who wanted to spend that much time in a sandbox trying to look pretty? Life was still about galloping when you came right down to it.” Courage (The Eventing Series book 3).

Andrea and Nonie enjoying a gallop at the beach

I love a gallop just as much as the next person, ok maybe not as much as an eventer, as but I do genuinely love the feeling of thundering through the waves at the beach, the salt splashing up in my face. So why then do I ride dressage? Let’s assume that it isn’t because I am a glutten for punishment. Let’s also assume that it’s not because I have a type A personality.
As a young rider I participated in all disciplines (dressage, jumping, showing gymkhanas, I even tried my hand at team penning and camp drafting a few times) on my one horse. For the most part I enjoyed them all. But it was pretty clear back then that I wasn’t like the other kids who yearned for the thrill of the jump off or the all out speed involved in the gymkhana events. No my favourite event come gymkhana day was rider class. While I loved training cross country, my heart was never in it on competition day and show jumping could be fun when it all went to plan, but I knew that it wasn’t my jam. A few serious concussions and my fathers growing concern sealed the deal, my purpose in life was to be a dressage devotee.

Andrea and her horse Gilbert training cross country

 I remember clearly when I made the decision to put all my focus on dressage. My horse at the time Sullivan was a super warmblood x Percheron gelding. He gave me my first taste of sitting on a powerful equine. Some time later I was offered the ride on my coaches super sensitive but exceptionally talented mare Selesta. This is an opportunity that I will be eternally grateful for because the chance to feel advanced movements like passage saw me fall in lust with dressage. 

Andrea and Sullivan

Life. It’s about a finding that thing that makes you feel alive that sets your soul on fire. And those rides on Selesta had lit a fire in my belly and set me down the centreline chasing the ultimate – Grand Prix. But it wasn’t until many years later this lust developed into a true love for the sport of dressage. This love came from feeling the multiple incremental improvements that result in the most spectacular feeling. It’s knowing that the success you and your horse have achieved is the result of your hard work. It’s the pride that swells in your chest when you start to ride advanced movements on a horse that you have brought along from the beginning. But most of all it’s the ability to communicate and connect with your equine partner without so much as a word.

Posted in Uncategorized

Blast from the Past – Stepping up to Elementary

A year ago today Nonie and I had just completed our first official elementary dressage competition. In honour of this I thought I would share the first ‘blog’ post I wrote, which was originally posted on the Wilson Equestrian page. 

Walking out of the arena at our first competition of the year, reaching down to give Nonie a pat, you couldn’t have wiped the smile off my face. I’d had one of those great days where it all comes together, the lessons, the late nights on floodlit arena’s and the long trips to competitions.

In North Queensland we are a little slow to start competing, with last weekend marking my first dressage competition of the season. The event was held in Townsville, a casual 380km drive from home. Needless to say I was glad to have my partner Steve as my co-pilot for the trip. After loading up the ute and float (a feat which resembles a life sized game of tetris), checking my packing list about 3 times and putting Nonie on the float we were on our way. One coffee stop, a stretch for Nonie and five hours later and we made it to Townsville.

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The balmy overnight low of 21° meant that Nonie only needed her stretchy hood to keep her plaits firmly in place and a rip-stop rug. I was excited to try my Wilson Equestrian stretchy hood and I was pleased to find that it sat really well on Nonie, in particular the extra-large eye-holes stood out to me – this meant that it didn’t creep up overnight and rub her eyes.

With the goal of competing at the QLD State Dressage Championships in mind, I had nominated for three tests, with the novice being up first. Despite less than ideal conditions in the warm up arena, including maintenance work on the adjoining BMX track, heavy machinery nearby and killer plastic tarps blowing about unpredictably, Nonie felt great! She was up through the shoulders, pushing forward and focussing solely on me.


Copyright Jordan Wicks Photography - JWP_5222
PC: Jordan Wicks Photography


This was my first time riding in the Wilson Equestrian super stick breeches and they did not disappoint! The material whilst being light and stretchy is substantial enough to cover even the brightest of bright pink undergarments, an accidental discovery on my part. I was really pleased with the test that we put forward, and the judges seemed to agree giving us a score of 68% which was good enough for fourth place.

Our next test was at 11.30 and I have to say that the Wilsons Equestrian long sleeved show shirt really came into its own, I felt cool in the light fabric despite a top temperature of 29°. This being our second elementary test and now having to ride the lengthened trots sitting, I was grateful to be wearing those exceptionally super sticky breeches. I know that I breathed a little easier once we got through the canter/counter canter three loop serpentines without breaking or changing – Nonie’s most recent trick is to pop a flying change in during this movement, but you just can’t be upset about that!

Copyright Jordan Wicks Photography - JWP_2579
PC: Jordan Wicks Photography

My final test of the day was the 3.2 for which I was determined to be brave in my riding. I achieved this goal and left the arena feeling that we had really nailed the test – I was on a high for the rest of the day. As an added bonus we scored a 7.5 and an 8 for the counter canters. I couldn’t have asked for more from my mare and can’t wait to see what the rest of 2016 brings for Nonie and I.

Posted in Equestrian Fashion, Product Review

Super Staples – Samshield Helmet Review

As one of my favourite instagramers @joful_dressage once asked, “Is it wrong to love an inanimate object”? Well I am not sure that she ever had that question answered, but I do know that I am in love with my new Samshield.


As anyone who knows me will attest, this is nothing short of a miracle. My life as an equestrian has been made somewhat less comfortable by my oddly shaped head coupled with my inability to find a helmet which works with this. I guess this is somewhat ironic as I am a huge advocate for wearing helmets, each and every time, all riders swing their leg over a horse.

The year before last, thinking I was onto a winner I handed over an ungodly amount of money only to find out a few months later that the helmet would no longer be ‘competition legal’ after December 2016 due to the updated safety standards in Europe. Early in 2017, I proceed to buy a second helmet of the same brand after being assured that the design had not changed. But alas it had changed rather significantly and no longer fit my head. So the search for my ‘Cinderella helmet’ began once again. It was on my recent trip down south that I found my perfect match – helmet wise that is!

Here’s what makes the Samshield is such a great helmet.

  1. Light weight. One of the first things that you will notice when you pick this helmet up is just how light it is. You could be forgiven for forgetting it is on your head.
  2. Ventilation. The first couple of rides I had in my Samshield were really windy days, the sensation of air swirling around was somewhat bizarre. However after a few weeks riding in this helmet, including a few mid afternoon rides, and removing my helmet without my hair being plastered to my head with sweat was rather refreshing. I know that moving into summer in a much cooler helmet will make riding a lot more pleasant. But don’t worry if you live in a colder climate, there is a warm liner option too!
  3. Elegance. In matters of style I’ll take elegance and simplicity over flash any day of the week, as such it is no surprise that The Samshield is right down my alley. All of the Samshield helmets have beautiful lines, from the line over the top of the helmet, to the harness of the helmet.
  4. Velcro chin strap. This is a feature that I initially thought looked a bit odd, but having ridden in this helmet for a few weeks, I realise that this feature is nothing short of genius. If I had a dollar for every time I had to tighten the chin strap on any other helmet, I’d be rich! Hmm not quite… Nonetheless, I love the fact that the strap holding the helmet on my head does not budge!
  5. Countless options for customisation. While I went with the Navy Shadowmatt sans Swarovski crystals, a quick browse of the My Samshield page highlights just how many options there are to customise these already beautiful helmets.


It’s safe to say the next helmet I buy will be a Samshield.




Posted in Dressage, Training

A lesson in simplicity


When the opportunity to train with Aussie icon Brett Parbery lined up with the Easter long weekend, I knew I wanted to be there. I’ve been a long-time fan of Brett Parbery, having watched him on horses such as Victory Salute and Aber Halo 29. Brett lives and trains in New South Wales Australia, but regularly competes in Europe. Last year he was one of six Australian’s competing for a place on the Australian Olympic Dressage Team, this is no small feat for someone based in Australia.

On Good Friday, my co-pilot Steve and I embarked on the 12 hour drive from Mackay to the Sunshine Coast and arrived at ‘Riverlyn’ which would be Nonie’s home for the next week at about 7pm that night. With my first lesson scheduled for Saturday afternoon, Mum had kindly arranged for Nonie to have a massage (which just so happens to be one of her favourite things), to help relieve the strain of the previous days lengthy journey.

My coach Dani hosted the clinic at her beautiful property on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. You enter the stunning property via a solid wooden gate edged by a sparsely wooded area. The pure white sand arena overlooks a gentle valley and one of the properties two dams.


When the horse and rider combination prior to me finished their lesson and Brett looked down at his list and called my name, I have to admit I nearly fan girled out. Nearly! But what struck me almost immediately about Brett was his relaxed and down to earth manner. We got stuck straight in with Brett asking, “What would you like to work on today?” I explained that we had recently started work on the flying changes, but that I also felt that Nonie would benefit from increased mobility through her shoulders. To me, it was the lack of mobility that had been contributing to some difficulty in the lateral movements especially the canter half pass. It was at this point that Brett asked me the question I dread, “What aids do you use to move the shoulders?” Now I am not sure why, but at this point my mind went almost entirely blank and I stuttered out some answer about how I use the outside rein and leg to guard the shoulders. Brett went on to explain that our hands and shoulders control the horses shoulders, while our legs control he quarters – of course this was not new to me. A coach, Linda Van Den Bosch, who happens to be a very successful western trainer and rider, that I have worked closely with previously has drilled this into me.

Given that I was well warmed up Brett had us go straight into canter and we began to look at straightness in the canter. The exercise was simple, I visualised a box around Nonie and myself, and my job was to ensure that Nonie stayed straight within this box and bring her back into it if she strayed outside the box, but to leave her alone once she was inside it. Almost instantly I felt Nonie soften and compress, the canter was easier to sit but still felt active. We then took this feeling down the long side and asked for some gentle shoulder fore, and our line fell apart. Brett reminded me that it was my responsibility to keep her barrel on the line with my leg – we are still working on this one.


The next step was to begin using half halts to collect the canter, while the overall use of my position in the half halt was similar to what my coach Dani had taught me, Brett had me think about the half halt starting from between my shoulder blades and lightening my seat. I was surprised and delighted when I felt Nonie’s frame and stride compact and her back lift up underneath my seat.

Over the course of the two lessons we had a look at the flying changes, whilst I have felt these become much easier to ride as I allow myself to relax mentally, they are not there yet. Brett gave me some home work for these. The first and most important thing was to ensure that at all times Nonie stays on my line, at my rhythm and tempo, no exceptions. If she alters from either of these I need to ‘abort’ the change and bring her back to my line/rhythm/tempo. He also highlighted that the flying changes are just a simple change without the walk transition and that our aid for the flying change should have the same amount of pressure/lightness as that for a walk canter. It sounds obvious now that it is written down, but at the time the simplicity of this statement felt like a revolution.

Brett showed me a few different exercises  to improve the preparation for the changes, including riding a line from the long side across to the centreline and taking her across to the new flexion all the while focusing on maintaining my canter. I instantly saw how helpful this exercise would be in improving the changes.


While Nonie and I have ridden in Dani’s arena a number of times, this particular weekend Nonie found something greatly offensive in the bottom corner. On day one we largely ignored this, however when she continued to spook and run away from it on the second day, Brett brought us back to the walk asking if Nonie often spooked. Brett explained, that there are two aspects to a spook, speed and line and if we can control those two things we can control the spook. When Nonie began to speed up and come away from the long side of the arena in her spook we brought her back to walk and then made her halt in front of the spot that she found particularly offensive. After doing this a few times I began to feel Nonie relax and we were then able to ride straight past the spot without issue.

The thing that really stood out to me from these lessons was the importance of simplicity. As the saying goes, “Any darn fool can make something complex, it takes a genius to make something simple”. He explained to me how all of the higher level movements, even piaffe is simply a combination of lower level aids applied in a new sequence. I learnt so much during these lessons, it was worth every kilometre of the drive and I cannot wait until Brett comes back up to Queensland.

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Unit next time, happy riding. xo

Posted in Dressage, Training

Flying Changes and Mind Games

Toward the end of last year, Nonie and I started work on the changes. Flying changes!!! Being deemed ready to ride this brand new movement felt like a huge accomplishment, it felt like we had arrived! Having now started them, I can’t help but feel that my initial eagerness belied my naivety. I have come to understand that the changes are a challenge which require strength, relaxation and timing. There is an additional layer of challenge because you either complete one or you don’t. Sure there are varying levels of excellence within this movement however learning to ride the changes is vastly different from other skills where you are able to gradually develop them. For instance, when beginning shoulder in you may feel a glimmer of brilliance before it slips through your fingers, you continue to build upon that feeling until suddenly you can ride a whole long side in shoulder in.
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The changes started well under the watchful and analytical eye of our coach Dani Keogh, but when we started to work on them on our own it was a different story. We would warm up well and progress on to school the flying changes. After achieving maybe one or two each way that were fine Nonie would brace against me, take over and speed off. Maybe because she is an exuberant horse, or more likely this was the natural result of me asking with a far bigger aid than required. So I would go home and read articles, watch videos and find a new exercise to try. I would try it a couple of times with success but then Nonie would again take over.
The reason we were struggling with the changes wasn’t necessarily that my position is weak or because Nonie’s canter needed more jump and strength (although in some respects it does), rather it was because whenever tension would enter in the canter work, particularly on the right rein Nonie would push in through her her right shoulder allowing her to brace against me and avoid my aids. Ironically this is the exact issue that Dani had spent a large chunk of time working on with us in our last lesson. Who’d have guessed!
It’s not the first time that I have learnt a lesson in this way where I’ve been told something a million times and then suddenly the lesson clicks and the light bulb goes off! Eureka, we have understanding! I suspect a few factors play into this. I belive that timing is essential and that in order to deeply understand a lesson, we must be in a place were mentally we are ready for it. On the other, it may have more to do with hearing the lesson explained in a way that makes sense. You know how 4+5 equal 9 but 3+6 also equal 9. Or maybe it’s a combination of all of these things.
So I took  a few steps back to focus on the prerequisites for a good change such as the transitions, the balance, the tempo control and keeping her wrapped around my inside leg, and only occasionally asking for a change. This approach did help to create some progress. However I sensed that my mind was also holding me back. This sense came more from past experiences of my mind having got in the way than a true understanding of exactly what was happening at that point in time.
I suspected that a phone call to my performance  and mindset coach Danielle Pooles from Dressage Plus would be helpful. So that was exactly what I did. I have sought Dani’s assistance previously with great success. Anyone who has ridden dressage knows that it takes a great deal of athletic ability, but it equally requires great strength of mind and the ability to remain clear headed under pressure. When learning a new movement or in other situations where our equine partner may be unsure, it is up to us as the rider, to step up and be the leader, and gently guiding our horse to understanding.
Talking through the difficulties I was having with Dani helped me to figure out exactly what was going on, bracing against Nonie, holding tension in my thighs and my mind going blank at the vital moment I needed to ask for the change. We then worked out a strategy, including breathing at critical moments to help manage these issues. I got to try the strategy out the very next day and low and behold I was excited about the prospect of riding the changes rather than being nervous about how she would respond. We only got a quick ride in due to me leaving work late but we managed a calm easy change on each rein, no more speeding up into the change no more barreling down into the reins after the change no more excessive use of aids.
The changes are not yet perfect, but they are certainly improving and at the end of the day that’s all you can ask for. Little improvements each day add up to big changes in the long term (pardon the pun!). This experience has reinforced for me the importance of mindset. Riding is as much a mind game as it is an athletic pursuit.
Until next time, happy riding! x AP
Posted in Equestrian Fashion

15 Signs that you are a true equestrian girl

Equestrian girls, we are a unique breed and  pretty easy to spot. 

1. Your social life is restricted to hanging out with friends at shows and clinics and dates with your boyfriend/partner (if they are lucky).


2. You have an agreement with your partner that if they are to make a proposal of marriage they will offer you an engagement horse rather than a ring.

3. When most girls were dreaming about their wedding day you were dreaming about your Grand Prix debut.

4. Your dream car is a Dodge Ram 1500.

5. Couture to you means Kask and Asmar Equestrian.

6. High flow diesel is one of your favourite things in life.

7. You know that life would be simpler if breeches were considered ‘professional dress’.

8. You wouldn’t dare deviate from your strict 5week shoeing schedule for your equine partner but your shoes are at least two years old (and maybe they’re even falling apart).

9. Your horse owns your money.

10. You didn’t think twice about paying $800 for your bespoke made to measure Celeris boots (you know they are an investment), but $100 for jeans seems pretty ridiculous.

11. You are seriously considering a petition to your local TV station to have the football coverage replaced with coverage of the Longines World Cup.

12. Your partner knows to add at least two hours on to whatever time you told them you’d be back from the barn.

13. Your significant life events (graduation, birthdays, marriage etc) have to fit in around your competition schedule. Not the other way around.

14. When someone mentions protection your first thought is about bandages, brush boots and shipping boots.

15. The closest your nails get to a mani/pedi is being chopped off nice and short to keep the dirt out from underneath them. Besides long nails are errr impractical…

16. Your wardrobe is 3/4s breeches and shirts from your favourite brand.

Until next time xo AP.