May Faves

Every month The Optimum Times will be featuring their four favorite products for equestrians. So check back monthly!

1.  The Le Fash Ny Open Placket Show Shirt (Shown in Optic White Tuxedo)- Be the envy of everyone in the show ring, as this up and coming street to show ring brand starts to become more and more popular! They feature both stretchy bamboo and an open polished placket that keeps everyone staring! With superior fit, and in a range of awesome colours, one of them is bound to be perfect for dressage or cross country!

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2. Romfh Equestrian Apparel International Brights Full Seats in Apple Green- I got these awesome breeches while in Rolex and fell in love! Not only are they stretchy and fit great, they’re the coolest color!

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3. Ecolicious Glamourous- Not only does this make your horse’s eyes stand out and sparkle! If you rub ecolicious glamourous on your boots and bridle before going into the show ring it makes them look mega shiny!

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4. Luv Inspired Jewels Rose Bouquet earrings- The ultimate show ring essential! These look like tiny pearls in your ears from far away! They come in rose gold, silver, and gold, perfect to match any show outfit!

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The Experience of a Lifetime

Hi everyone! So I know I have been MIA recently, but it has been crazy around here! Ever since Watching and I have gotten back from Aiken it has been a whirlwind of activities, running to and from the barn, and catching back up in school! But, last week I had the opportunity and privilege of going to Rolex to help groom! Dan hires an amazing professional groom and his friend of many years, Cat Hill, who turned Dan and Houston out beautifully. Obviously she’s very capable of doing everything that has to be done at an event like Rolex, so for the most part I hand walked Houston, cleaned tack, swept, did whatever she told me to do, and tried to learn as much from her as I could!

One of the most frustrating parts of being a professional groom is having too many people around at one time, especially if you are trying to get the horse and rider ready for one of the phases. So if she didn’t need my help I tried to stay out of the way! 

It was ideal that we were stabled across from Kate Chadderton and her working student/groom/my best friend/fellow blogger Emily, who drove me around in Gary the golf cart. It’s always nice having a friendly face nearby at events, who you can sit and share a croissant with, stand on the podium at the Rolex in-gate with, or discuss the days rides!

I arrived Tuesday evening, and the next morning I went to the stabling. I also got this sweet badge:

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Wednesday was the first jog, so I headed off to Macy’s with Dan’s stylist and girlfriend, Liv, and friends Karen and Jenny. We picked him up a nice pocket square and some fancy Sperry’s, while Mama J (my mom) was back in the hotel room ironing Dan’s pants and shirt. By the time the jog came around, Caroline Martin was asking Jess Payne if she could be introduced to Dan, so it was a job well done! Although I was a little disappointed that Dan didn’t win best dressed and score a free pair of Dubarry’s, since Will Faudree clinched the “W” in his nice suit.

Dan and Houston at the jogs:

(Photos taken by me)

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Beautiful quarter marks done by Cat

 

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Houston is accepted!

That day I walked the course with Dan and others:

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The Head of the Lake complex

Took Houston on a nice hand graze:

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And snuggled with Cat’s adorable puppy:

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The next day, Thursday, I hand grazed Houston in the morning:

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Snapchatted pictures of Kate walking down to dressage:

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Watched Kate’s dressage:

 

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From left to right: Nicholas Fyffe, Me, Jenny, Emily
Standing on the podium cheering after Kate’s test

Watched Dan flat Houston:

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Scoped out the cross country with Houston:

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Friday was dressage day for Dan and Houston, so after watching Dan warm up in the pouring rain, we walked down to watch his test, photo-bombing an interview on the way:

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Dan and Cat walking down the tunnel way to the arena for his dressage test. He received the same exact score as last year! What are the odds?!

 

After a nice test, we cheered:

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From left to right: Liv, Cat, Me, Jenny, Poppa Scott the photographer (my dad)

And then went back to watch some more dressage:

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Saturday was cross country day!!

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Dan and Houston getting ready to go

 

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Dan galloping on course
Photo credits to Momma J

 

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Dan and Houston right after he got off
I’m all the way to the right, getting Houston’s saddle off

 

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Dan and Houston over the coffin
Photo credits to Poppa Scott

 

And on Sunday, after Houston passed the jog, I just had to snuggle with the puppy some more!

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Watched Dan warm up for show jumping:

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Photo credits: Poppa Scott

 

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Phillip coaching Dan
Photo credits: Poppa Scott

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Phillip coaching Dan
Photo credits: Poppa Scott

 

In show jump warm up I met @paigepatch from instagram!!

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Go follow her!!

Then Dan did his show jumping round:

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Me watching Dan as he starts to enter the stadium
Photo credits: Poppa Scott

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And after a tired Houston tried his heart out in show jumping, he got a nice bath:

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Being able to be behind the scenes at the only four star event in North America was an experience of a lifetime that I will never forget! But now that I’m back in Maryland, I have to start focusing on the season ahead of me and Watching. It’s time to start event planning!

 

Sarah

 

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The Tough Choice: Finding The Right Bond

Last summer I was faced with a terribly hard decision, of which of my two horses to sell, Iggy or McFly.  I was very grateful to even have the opportunity to make a decision like this, because it meant I had been lucky enough to own and compete two horses, but when the time came and one had to be sold, I was torn.  It wasn’t like I had a continuous tally going on, giving points to the horse that did better in the show, or jumped better one day; I knew this decision was not going to come from results alone, because in that case Iggy would have won no doubt.  Together he and I had never been below 2nd place. I had to look into my heart to make the right decision, because both were great horses that were successful, but success only goes so far when based off  of talent, and at some point success will be based on how strong your bond is with your horse.  If your horse doesn’t trust you, and you don’t trust your horse, you will only get to a certain point.  This was constantly in the back of my head throughout the decision.

When I got Iggy, we bought him without seeing him.  My coach tried him and told me he was perfect for me.  He was the perfect horse, extremely talented and a packer.  I never felt in our time together that we created some amazing bond that I so longed for, but I never noticed that emptiness in our relationship until I met McFly. I will never forget where I tried him.  I went alone to this small farm after jump judging at GMHA’s fall event.  I looked into his stall and saw this little OTTB hurry right over to the door, eager to say hi.  Bekki (the lady that was selling him) told me that he was a horse that needed a bond with one rider, and only then would his true talents come out.  At that moment, I knew I had to have him.  We were both in some way alone, both waiting for that perfect horse or rider to come around.  When it was my turn to get on him, we did flatted and jumped a little, and then Bekki led me out to a field.  She pointed at a few very rustic looking cross country jumps.  I was jumping around, and all of a sudden 20 horses come cantering up to McFly and I, and started to follow us around.  He didn’t even bat an eye.  When my time trying McFly wrapped up I called my coach and mom and begged them to let me bring him home that day.  I needed him. I felt a feeling that I had never felt on a horse before.  I had gone to the farm looking for a horse to ride for a little, compete and then re-sell—something to ride while Iggy was hurt.  The longer I stayed at the farm trying McFly, the less I wanted to sell little McFly.  He was the horse I had been looking for.  It’s funny how I traveled to Ocala and Aiken at the nicest barns searching for the “perfect” horse, when he was just sitting in a backyard in Vermont for free.

 This little anecdote probably gave away who I chose to keep…but McFly it was!  I knew I wanted to keep McFly deep down, but everyone else kept telling me to keep Iggy so I began to second-guess myself.  I still miss Iggy terribly, but he went to a great home with another young rider who he is earning many more blue ribbons with!

Over the year and a half I have had with McFly, I finally understand what it takes in this sport to be successful: Trust.  I had to take the time to make him trust me in the beginning.  Having to jump 2’7” for a few months, and charging at the jumps, will really humble a girl.  I needed a horse that would humble me and show me that this sport isn’t all about the ribbons; its about getting better and progressing at each and every show.  My favorite show of my career with McFly was when I didn’t even get a ribbon.  It’s a team sport, not an individual sport where you just find any horse that will take you through those finish flags—you can only go so far doing that. I saw something in him that day as we were jumping cross country jumps with a herd of horses following us behind, something that I am glad no one else saw first, or else he wouldn’t be mine.  It is important to look not only at the number of ribbons a horse has won, but at the size of his heart because most times, if mixed with the right rider, the pair will go a lot farther.

 

 

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Iggy and I at our last event together

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McFly and I after our first double clear Prelim stadium together
Photo Courtesy of Turtles Way

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McFly and I in Aiken. Photo Courtesy of Brant Gamma

 

Katherine

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Lacrosse and Riding

Often times young riders get so caught up in wanting to be a professional, they forget they are still just kids. In order to get to the top, you see young riders dedicating their whole life to this sport we all love; they will either miss large amounts of school, or just become home schooled to pursue their dream. As much as I would love to be able to commit myself to eventing one hundred percent, it was made very clear to me by my parents as a middle school student that I would have a “normal” high school experience, including playing sports for my school.   In the beginning, it was difficult for me to want to do anything but riding; for example, I was bribed with an air vest to run cross-country sophomore year for my school. It seems like every other young rider around me who wants to make it to the top of the sport is allowed to go down south all winter, or gets to miss more school than I do, but I figured I should make the best of having to do other activities, so I did. I decided to play lacrosse the spring of freshman year, and eventually loved it!

Playing lacrosse for my school

Playing lacrosse for my school

This article is for all the young riders out there who watch other kids get involved in school sports and wish they had time to do that. I am here to tell you, IT CAN BE DONE; you can ride at a competitive level and play another sport, but it takes a lot of dedication and discipline. You also need to have the time to do both. I am lucky enough that I don’t need to work at the barn to work off my horse’s board, so I have time for other activities, but I understand that is not the case for some other aspiring young riders. I consider myself very lucky to have the opportunity to be able to play lacrosse and ride at the level I do. My parents are big supporters and try to make it work so that I can excel at both sports.

McFly and I in Aiken

McFly and I in Aiken

 

Days are tight while playing another sport…it is not for the weak. At the end of the week, I am exhausted to the point where I just want to sleep for 3 days straight. I recently was thrown off McFly and sustained a concussion, leaving me unable to ride, play lacrosse, or do any school work. My mom and I joke around by saying how this is a blessing in disguise, so my body and brain could finally have a rest. Days are long during lacrosse season, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. A typical day last year would look like this:

5 am-Wake up

5:30 am-7:15 am-Ride one horse(then get ready for school in my car)

7:45 am-2:45 pm- School

4:00 pm-6:30 pm- Lacrosse game

6:30 pm-8 pm- Ride other horse (scarf down chipotle on the way to the barn)

8:30 pm-too late -Homework

It was hard waking up at 5 am sometimes 3 days a week and riding a horse before school, but if you want to be successful, it means working hard right? I made it happen because I wanted to succeed even though I had 5698796476 things on my plate. It makes me insane when I hear people say, “Oh, she must not be that committed to riding if she has the time to do another sport.” Like HELLO PEOPLE I am one of the most horse obsessed, hard-working girls you will ever meet, I may make time to do other things but I am just as committed as those who only ride. I am so tough on myself about riding that for a while it made me very insecure when people would say I didn’t care about riding enough if I did another sport, but overtime I became confident in my decision because I knew I was doing what I wanted to do. The way I look at it is, there are 24 hours in a day and if I need to use 21 of those 24 hours to get everything done, I will. I might have to go to school smelling like the barn, or get 3 hours of sleep a night, but it is all worth it to me.

Beneficial reasons to playing another sport:

  1. You will be taught discipline like no other; making yourself get up at 5 am, working on homework until early hours of the morning. Despite the fact that you have been up since 5 am, you won’t let yourself cut corners on your riding, school, or your sport. There’s no time for looking at Facebook and Twitter for hours, you must keep on schedule to ensure everything gets done.
  2. You will be in great shape for those long cross-country courses (especially at Training and above). If you play lacrosse like I do, we run for most of the two-hour practice.
  3. If you get good enough at the sport, you may be recruited to play in college and get lots of scholarships for it! I was recruited by schools, but chose a Division 3 school so that I could continue to ride as well, and I will get scholarships for playing lacrosse there!! We are saving money on tuition, which helped my case on wanting to bring McFly and continue to event while there.

 

It would be a dream to become a professional in the horse world and go to the Olympics one day, but if that doesn’t happen I need to have other plans. Attending the University of Mary Washington and playing lacrosse for them will ultimately open up doors for my future. I truly suggest playing a sport outside of riding if you are able to; being more active can only help you in the long run. Some high school coaches will not like the idea of you being so engulfed by the riding, but my coach and I have come to an understanding on it. She supports my riding fully (and has even come to meet Iggy and McFly), but I have come to understand that committing to a team means not letting them down. I go to events when I don’t have a game that weekend and its no problem! Don’t let time pass you by while you’re young, we are young riders not professionals and you wouldn’t want to regret something you didn’t do while you were still a kid.

 

Until next time,

 

Katherine

 

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It Never Gets Easier

Many of you have heard of the two passings of incredible horses this past weekend at the Fork. This is tragedy. It’s not the first the sport has ever seen, and sadly it will not be the last. Just because there are risks involved with the sport does not mean that it’s too dangerous to exist, which some non-eventers have now decided.

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I’m no stranger to tragedy with horses myself. . It happens, it’s a part of life. And though it feels debilitating, you will continue on. No matter what happens, I can guarantee no professional rider is ever at true fault for the death of a horse. They love them and give them the best care possible.But accidents, and tragedies still happen.

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The worst thing people can possibly do is to speculate or talk about the cause of the horse’s deaths without knowing all the information. Not only does it misinform other people to talk about it in a clouded light, but it can be upsetting to the people who ACTUALLY knew the horse themselves. How would you like to have all sorts of explanations for your horse’s death that aren’t true all over the internet? Expressing your condolences doesn’t include your two cents.

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Dealing with the loss of a horse is like learning dressage, it never gets easier (I can tell you that from personal experience) you only get stronger.

My mom and her late horse Marengo

My mom and her late horse Marengo

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April Guest Blogger-Meet Katherine Pt. 2

​Hi everyone! My name is Katherine Lambert. I am 17 and live in New Hampshire( I promise you it is not hicktown), but come down to Aiken for most of the winter with my coach Alison Eastman-Lawler. I have been riding with since I was 5! I go to a regular catholic school, but they let me miss some school in the winter to come down to Aiken. I love eventing so much and I would do it all day every day, but my parents want me to lead a normal high school teenager’s life, so I also play lacrosse for my school in the spring. Now that I play it, I love it! I was recruited to play lacrosse at the University of Mary Washington, where I will be attending college next year. It is in Fredericksburg, Virginia right in horse country; I am so excited to move there with McFly!(but haven’t found a coach to ride with out there, so if anyone knows of one, tell me!)

My horses name is Dragon Fly aka McFly and he is a 10 y/o 15.1 OTTB that I got 17 months ago. After a tough first few months(charging at jumps and getting 50s in dressage), we are now competing at Preliminary. When I got him, he had done only a handful of novices and one or two trainings that he wasn’t very successful at. When I was looking for McFly, I had another horse(Iggy), so I had to find a horse that was little to no money. They were offering to give me McFly for free, so I couldn’t refuse. McFly has the sweetest disposition and is certainly one underdog of a horse, I never thought he would be going prelim successfully! I wouldn’t count this horse out on anything, he has the biggest heart and once he is fully confident he will be doing something big. My goal for us is to compete successfully at Prelim, move up to Intermediate and Hopefully do the NAJYRC two star in the next few years! I am rather new to blogging, so be patient with me, but I am very excited to be a guest blogger for The Optimum Times!

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April Favs

Every month The Optimum TImes will be featuring their four favorite products for equestrians. So check back weekly!

1. Ecolicious Equestrian Squeaky Green and Clean- It’s spring, the sun is shining, your horses are covered in mud. So it’s time to give them that spring cleaning you have been agonizingly waiting for. I’ve washed my horse with this shampoo and it both makes your horse super shiny, and smells like citrus! Let alone the fact that it’s great for the environment!

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2. Phyllis Stein Equestrian Breeches Brigade Shirt- This shirt is super stretchy and super soft. And with a perfect mix of rock & roll, and equestrian accents it’s stylish enough to wear out of your house, and out on the town!

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3.  Spiced Equestrian Happy Belt- These belts are awesome! The perfect belt for every day riding and with bright colours they contrast your shirts really well!

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4.Calvacade for Tara Kiwi Show Pins- I JUST got this shirt in the mail! I love it already! It’s the perfect shirt for after you ride, or a competitors party! Laid back with such a cool pattern I can’t wait to wear it!

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Check back next month!

Emily

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