Newbie Horse Rider

Blog for new adult horse riders

Month: November 2016

Stay Warm While Enjoying Your Horse In The Cold

Winter Ride

Winter Ride

Our first winter back north was a brutal one.  By October we had experienced our first snowfall of the season, and it just kept coming.  February turned out to be one of the coldest on record with average temperatures hovering around 11 degrees Fahrenheit.  This was a huge shock to my wimpy Texan system which had become accustomed to only short bursts of cold weather.  Prior to the onset of winter, my daughter and I had talked excitedly over the prospect of riding through fields covered with powdery snow.  Once the snow did start falling so did our expectations of riding in it.  In short, we were constantly frozen like two Popsicles snatched from the ice box.  I thought I knew how to dress for exercising in the cold, having been a runner for 35 plus years.  What I soon discovered was that dressing for winter riding was quite different from dressing for a run, and my usual layering technique left me feeling chilled to the bone.  The main reason for this?  Most winter running gear is designed to trap the heat that is quickly generated through running, much like a wet suit traps cold water that warms on contact with the body.  Depending on the intensity of your ride, you may not generate enough heat to stay warm if dressed in such heat-trapping gear.  Even if you are doing a good deal of posting and cantering, the process of bringing a horse in from a field and tacking up may leave you feeling cold and stiff before you even get in the saddle.  It is no fun riding when your legs and hands feel as though rigor mortis is setting in.  You also don’t want to put on so many layers that you cannot have effective use of your hands and legs.

winter-comic

So how do you stay warm in the cold?

  1.  Avoid base layers made from cotton, and pick clothing made from synthetic fabrics.  While cotton is perfect for keeping you cool in the heat of summer, it is not a wise fabric choice for winter. Cotton absorbs moisture, leaving you chilled and increasing the likelihood of hypothermia.  Instead choose fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin, such as polypropylene or wool.  For outer layers, choose fabrics that are built to withstand wind and water, such as nylon or polyester.  Down can be a great light weight material for an outer layer if you are riding inside and out of the elements.  However, when down gets wet it absorbs water thus cancelling out its insulating properties.

    SmartWool Base Layer

    SmartWool Base Layer

  2. Dress in layers.  Choose layers that provide ultimate warmth without bulk.  Trust me, it’s very difficult to ride when you feel like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man.
Stay Puff Marshmallow Man

Stay Puff Marshmallow Man

Wear a fitted, but not tight, base layer made from a moisture wicking fabric.  Clothing that is too tight can leave you feeling cold, and will restrict your movement in the saddle.  Next, wear a middle layer that also has moisture wicking properties, such as wool or fleece.  Finally, choose an outer garment suitable for the conditions you are riding in.  If you are outside, choose a jacket that is waterproof and wind resistant.  If you are riding inside, an insulating down jacket will keep you feeling toasty warm.  The great thing about dressing in layers is that you can always remove one if you get too warm.

3.  Wear insulating gloves designed for equestrians.  There are a number of winter gloves on the market made for riding, with varying levels of Thinsulate for warmth.   If you primarily ride outside, look for gloves that have a waterproof outer shell and a good grip.  If riding indoors, leather or synthetic leather gloves with a Thinsulate lining are a great option.  On really cold days, slip on a pair of silk glove liners, made by SCG, underneath your regular winter riding gloves.  For the ultimate in winter riding protection, Heritage Extreme Winter Gloves offer 70 grams of Thinsulate insulation bonded to a polar fleece liner.  In addition, they contain a wind and waterproof membrane to keep hands warm and dry.  To top it off, these state-of-the-art winter riding gloves come with a little pouch to hold a hand warmer.  Maybe Santa will bring me a pair…

Heritage Extreme Winter Riding Gloves

Heritage Extreme Winter Riding Gloves

4.  Choose winter riding boots designed to keep feet warm and dry.  Snow, mud, and rain will take a toll on delicate leather boots.  Instead, look for water resistant boots lined with fleece or Thinsulate.  Some winter riding boots are bulky, so try them on to make sure they don’t interfere with your stirrups.  Choosing  wool riding socks will also help to keep your tootsies warm and dry.

Winter Riding Boot

Winter Riding Boot

5.  Protect your head from the elements.  When the temperature creeps south of 40, I find a hat does wonders for keeping away the chill while tacking up.  Some days it is tempting to keep the hat on and leave the helmet in the locker…But this is never a safe decision.  While the helmet does keep my head warm, very frigid temperatures leave my ears feeling numb.  Purchasing a winter helmet cover will save you from having to choose between the hat or the helmet.   These covers may not not be the most fashionable part of your wardrobe, but they will certainly protect your ears from frostbite.

Winter Helmet Cover

Winter Helmet Cover

Stores intended for outdoor enthusiasts, such as REI and Sierra Trading Post, are great places to find deals on moisture wicking base and middle layers.  Look to equestrian sites, such as SmartPak and Dover Saddlery, for winter riding jackets and gloves.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be reviewing some of my favorite winter gear.  Do you have a favorite pair of winter gloves or boots?  Send me your product review and I’ll post it.

Stay warm!

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Feeling Thankful

thanksgiving

Woke up this morning feeling very stuffed from yesterday’s feast, but also very grateful.  So thankful for having family to share the holidays with, for our health, and for my husband who graciously supports my expensive horse habit.  I’m also so thankful for my lovely Austin, and my trainer who helped me turn “I can’t” into “I can”.  His unrelenting patience with me, even when I yell obscenities out of sheer frustration, has never wavered.  He has never treated me differently because of my age, and has always believed in my ability to improve, even when he has to remind me to get my legs and hands in the correct position day after day after day.  So, to Carter Loftus – a million thanks for helping to give life to my dream, and allowing me to see that I am braver than I believed.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we can start looking forward to….sales!!  Woke up this morning to some awesome deals on everything from riding gear to equestrian gifts.   Yet another thing to be thankful for!  If you’re looking to get a jump on holiday shopping, or simply looking for something for yourself, check out some of these online deals.

Dover Saddlery – save up to 70%.  They’ve got some absolutely fantastic deals going on that you won’t want to miss.

Horseloverz.com – Black Friday deals on absolutely everything for horse and rider.  From now until Christmas they will be offering a sale of the day.  Today’s items are by Mountain Horse and Equine Couture.

Mountain Horse Ladies Harlow Jacket

Mountain Horse Ladies Harlow Jacket

Equine Couture Breeches

Equine Couture Breeches

Ariat – I’m a huge fan of Ariat, especially their boots.  If you haven’t checked out their online store, you really should.  Now would be a great time to pick up a pair of English or Western boots on sale.  They also have select breeches and riding shirts on sale.

Sheplers – For the Western rider look no further than Sheplers.  This Texas based store has absolutely everything for the Western horse and rider.  They also have a terrific selection of items for the home, including pillows, throws, and picture frames.  Right now everything is on sale, and if you buy today look for an additional 25% off your order.  Now That’s a deal!

Tesky’s – This was hands down my absolute favorite shop when we lived in Texas.  Located west of Fort Worth, this store is paradise for the Western horse person.  Whether you are looking for gift ideas, home decor, boots, saddles, tack, or clothing, Tesky’s has it all.  Today they are offering some great deals on everything from North Face jackets to Old Gringo boots (my fave!).  Don’t forget to check out the deals offered everyday in their Bargain Bin.

State Line Tack – Use promo code  539D2SUZ9S receive 25% off your order, today only.

Smartpak – Use promo code  Gift2016 to receive 15% off your order of $75.00 or more, plus free shipping.

Schneiders Saddlery – Black Friday flash blanket sale.

Beval Saddlery – 25% off storewide deals.

Horse.com – Up to 50% off Black Friday deals.

Those are the best online deals that I’ve been able to find today.  If you know of another great deal let me know and I’ll add it to the list.  Have fun shopping!

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Flies and Ice

Sunny and 71 degrees

Sunny and 71 degrees

Only 48 hours ago I was grazing Austin in the warm autumn sun, relishing the unusual November warmth.  No coat, no problem.  When we lived in Texas, October and November were my favorite months, and this day felt like a perfect Texas fall day.  Only moments ago, Austin had decided to put his foot down.  It was too warm to canter, especially with his thick winter coat.  Usually such a good boy, his reluctance to work took me a little by surprise.  Luckily Austin lives to please, and so when I insisted he go, he protested with a grunt and finished off the serpentine we had been working on.  After a scratch on the neck for a job well done, he cooled down in the shade of the barn, enjoying the last few sprigs of dark green grass.  Like all good things, this too would come to an end.  For days the weather reports indicated a sudden change was coming, but few of us expected what we woke up to on Monday morning.

Monday

Monday

This sudden and extreme drop in temperature was difficult for me to endure, but what about our horses?  Whether horses are in a field or in an unheated stall, an abrupt change in temperature can be difficult for them to acclimate to.  The barn quickly sprang into action, throwing medium weight turnout blankets on all of the horses, even those who remained indoors.  This decision brought to mind a division that has become increasingly apparent in the horse world between those who blanket their horses and those who refuse to blanket their horses, citing nature as their reason.  So, to blanket or not to blanket.  That is the question.

blanketing-flow-chart

Like any controversial topic, those on either side of the aisle can provide plenty of facts to support their argument.   However, the decision of whether to blanket or not to blanket is not that simple, as you can see from the above chart.  When I lived in Texas we always blanketed our horses, simply because the sudden temperature changes could be too drastic for a horse to acclimate to.  However, plenty of horses who lived on the ranch went blanket free and they grew thick coats that kept them warm when it was cold, but would sometimes overheat when the temperature then shot back up.  Here in the northeast plenty of horses are kept in fields with shelters throughout the winter and go blanket free without a problem.  These horses will develop a thick fluffy coat that does a marvelous job at keeping their bodies warm even in extremely cold temperatures.  Sometimes horses will huddle together like they do in the wild, providing added protection against wind and cold. It is essential that horses who brave the elements during the winter months be given adequate nutrition to support their internal heating mechanism.

blanket-cartoon

At the barn where we currently keep our horses, blanketing is the norm.  The primary reason for this is frequency of training – the horses are ridden on a daily basis, and with a thick coat, it would take forever for them to dry and cool down.  In addition, the majority of horses at the barn are used for show, thus necessitating a shorter coat.  However, with blanketing comes the responsibility of making sure that the blanket being used is the proper weight for the outside temperature and weather conditions.  Use the chart below to help choose the right blanket.

When to blanket your horse

When to blanket your horse

If your horse is elderly or frail, blanketing is probably a good idea.  In addition, horses from warmer climates adjusting to northern climates should probably be blanketed at least for the first winter.  If you are unsure about whether to blanket your horse, discuss the issue with a vet before making a decision.  There will always be someone who disagrees with your choice, but at least you are making a decision based on what is right for your horse.

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Funny Friday

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1248b8c36310cdde7b143548f39a2f89

TGIF everyone!  Looks like it’s going to be a beautiful and unusually warm day in the northeast today, perfect day for a trail ride.  Unfortunately, it’s also hunting season, so I’ll probably stay close to home.  In Central N.Y. this is going to be the calm before the storm, as the weather forecast is calling for our first snow storm Sunday into Monday.  Ugh, I’m really not ready for winter yet.  Actually, I don’t think I’m ever ready for winter.  I’d be happy to have winter for about two weeks, just enough time to enjoy its beauty before returning to spring.

This meme made me think of Flynn,  our old Quarter Horse.  Flynn was a great trail horse, but he had a tendency to spook at the most ridiculous things, such as purple flowers.  We had everything from deer to bobcat jump out in front of us, but if he saw a purple flower on the ground that wasn’t there the day before, he’d jump off to the side to get away from it.  What are some of the more ridiculous things your horse has spooked at?

Hopefully you’ve noticed that I’ve added a submissions page to the menu.  I’m really hoping to hear from more adult riders.  Riding as an adult, especially if you are just starting out, is an entirely different experience from riding as a kid.  If you are getting back into riding after being away for a while, what challenges are you facing as an older rider?  Share your story, your thoughts about riding, or any tips you may have for the adult rider.  Are you a fit rider?  Share some of your exercise tips to help keep us strong in the saddle.  Do you know of a particularly great product for horse or rider?  Let us know!  Let’s get the conversation going so we can hopefully learn and support one another’s equestrian adventures.

Hope to hear from y’all!

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5 Things I Have learned From My Horse

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Austin and me.

Austin and me.

Almost eight months ago I met Austin for the first time.  To say I had some doubts at first is an understatement.  He was so lovely, so well trained; I was convinced my inexperience would ruin him for good.  It has taken us a little time to get to know one another, but I can honestly say that we are a match made in heaven.  Austin’s sweet nature, sincerity, patience and bravery has not only made me a better rider, it has made me a better person.  What follows are some of the lessons this marvelous horse has taught me about life, perseverance, and the challenge of riding as an adult.

  1.  In the words of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  Finding the right horse is like finding the right spouse, they make you a better person.  When we find a horse that we connect with, the trust that we share translates into every area of our life.  This is a bond that is difficult to translate into words, as it is one of mutual trust and respect.  I now know what I was missing in my previous equine relationships.  Whether on trails or in an arena, I trust Austin entirely and know that he would never do anything to intentionally harm me.  Likewise, I know that he feels safe with me, and trusts that I will react calmly when he gets scared.  This experience has made us both more confident, and I find this confidence having a positive influence on other areas of my life.
  2.  Keep your heels down.  This is something that riders around the world use as their mantra, and for good reason.  No matter what discipline you ride, letting your weight fall into your heels keeps you from leaning forward in the saddle and helps to maintain the alignment of shoulder, hip and heel.  This is easier said than done, especially if you no longer have the flexibility of an 11 year old.  To help me in this endeavor, I’ve found a few stretching exercises that have done the trick.  My favorite one is to stand on the edge of the stairs, relax my hip as I push the weight down into my heel.  Doing this for a few minutes on each side every day does wonders for stretching out those tight calf and heel muscles.  As a result, I have become much more flexible and not nearly as stiff when I get out of bed in the morning.  It has also helped with the next lesson.
  3. Sit evenly on both seat bones.  While this may sound simple enough, it is not always very easy to do.  I often find that I am leaning to one side or another, throwing me off balance.  I’m not sure if this is the result of aging, or if I have one leg shorter than the other, but maintaining a balanced seat has been a constant struggle for me.  When I do finally find that perfect spot it is like reaching Nirvana.  Sitting evenly on both seat bones makes a rider more balanced, and is thus more comfortable for the horse.  In addition, sudden unexpected movements are much less likely to result in a fall if you are sitting evenly in the saddle.  Knowing this, I have become increasingly aware of my body both in and out of the saddle.  I often catch myself standing with my weight shifted to one side, or sitting in a chair leaning off to one side and immediately correct my posture.  Hopefully this will help maintain my center of gravity as I get older.
  4. Don’t drop the outside rein.  Oh boy, this is a hard one for me.  As my instructor says, remembering not to drop the outside rein while giving a little on the inside rein is like patting your head and rubbing your tummy while you skip – in other words, not easy.  I’ve never been particularly coordinated, so this is really stretching my ability to do multiple things at one time.  Even though I am right handed, my left hand seems to take over the reins in whatever direction we are moving.  There have been moments where I wonder whether I will ever get this right, and I have to push those negative thoughts from my head.  Getting rid of the little voice inside that tells me I can’t, or that I am too old, is no longer viable.  I want this too badly, and so I persevere.  Shutting out negative thoughts has translated into other areas of my life, and instead of telling myself I can’t, I now believe I can.  With this in mind, I will continue to work at holding onto that outside rein until I no longer have to remind myself to do so, even if I’m 85.
  5. Always look where you want to go.  Boy, this is a metaphor for life if I’ve ever heard one!  I know I’m not alone when I tell you that my tendency is to put my head down when I ride and watch everything but the path in front of me.  Sitting in the driver’s seat means watching the road ahead of you and planning your next turn.  The same can be said for life.  I’ve learned to keep my head held high, and plan for the road ahead.

What things have you learned from your horse?

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A Guide to Equestrian Lingo

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Horse Lingo

Horse Lingo

Ever feel as though you’ve entered a foreign land when you walk into a barn or tack shop?  Who knew that taking on a new sport would mean having to learn an entirely new language to go with it.  From horse breeds to tack, to riding disciplines, there is a lot to know about the world of equestrian sports.  In even a short amount of time, you will be amazed at how quickly your vocabulary has grown.  To get you started, I’ve compiled a list of terms that most newbies are not entirely familiar with.

Above the bit:  When a horse carries his head too high in order to evade contact with the bit.

Aids:  Cues used by the rider in order to communicate with the horse.  Natural cues include a rider’s seat, legs, hands, and voice.  Artificial cues can include spurs and whips.

Balk/Balking:  When a horse refuses to move forward despite the use of aids.

Barn Sour:  A horse that is reluctant to leave the herd either at the barn when going on a trail ride, or in the field.  Such behavior is influenced by a horse’s natural instincts.

Bars: The area in a horse’s mouth between the front and back where the bit rests.

Bell Boot: Worn around a horse’s hoof to prevent injury.

Billet: Straps used to attach a girth to a saddle.

Bosal: A western bitless bridle consisting of a braided noseband.

Broke:  A horse that has enough training to be ridden by a competent rider.

Broodmare:  A mare that is used for breeding.

Brushing:  When a horse’s hoof strikes the inside of the opposite leg.  Brushing boots can be used in this situation to prevent injury.

Bute & Banamine:  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used for short term pain and fever management in animals.

Carriage:  This is a term that can be used to describe how a horse carries himself, especially his head and neck.

Choke:  A condition in which a horse’s esophagus becomes blocked, usually by something the horse has eaten.  In this situation the horse is able to breathe, but is unable to swallow.

Coggins:  A blood test that detects antibodies to the disease Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), a deadly and highly contagious virus.

Cold-backed:  A horse that has a tendency to arch his back and buck when mounted.

Colic:  A general term used to describe abdominal pain in horses due to a variety of causes.

Collection:  This occurs when a horse’s front and back ends are brought together into a compact frame, becoming light and soft in the rider’s hands.  In this frame shoulders are raised and the head is held on the vertical.

Counter Canter:  A schooling movement in which a horse is asked to canter in a circle while leading with his outside leg rather than the usual inside leg.

Cribbing:  Compulsive behavior in which a horse hooks incisor teeth around something solid, such as a fence rail or door frame, and sucks air in through the mouth, producing a grunting sound.  Considered a stable vice.

Crop: A short whip used as an artificial aid to encourage the horse to listen to the natural aids of seat and legs.

Crow Hopping:  A mild form of a buck in which a horse rounds his back and jumps with all four feet in the air.

Cues:  Refers to the signals through which a rider communicates with the horse.  Another word for aids.

Diagonal:  1.  The set of legs that move forward at the same time at the trot are referred to as the ‘diagonal pair’.

2.  Trotting on the correct diagonal means that the rider is rising when the outside foreleg and the opposite                                    hind leg move forward, and sitting when the legs are on the ground.

3.  An imaginary diagonal line crossing an arena that is followed by a rider when changing direction.

Equitation:  The skill of riding a horse.  Also a term used in horse shows to describe competitions in which riders are judged on their riding skill, rather than the ability of the horse.

Extension:  The lengthening of a horse’s frame while simultaneously extending the pace of movement.

Farrier:  A professional who takes care of shoeing and trimming a horse’s hoofs.

Floating:  The action by which the sharp points on a horse’s teeth are filed down by either an equine dentist or veterinarian.

Forehand:  A horse’s head, neck, shoulders, withers, and forelegs.  When a horse is unbalanced and leans into the bridle he is being ‘heavy on the forehand’.

Founder:  The rotation and detachment of the coffin bone which happens in severe cases of laminitis – an inflammatory condition affecting the laminae of the hoof.

Frog:  The tough triangular, rubbery pad on the underside of a horse’s hoof that works as a shook absorber, and aids in blood circulation of the lower leg.

Gait:  The pace at which a horse moves, such as the walk, trot, or canter/lope.

Gelding:  Castrated male horse.

Green:  A horse or rider that is in the early stages of training.  A Green-broke horse refers to a horse that is in the early stages of training, but is inexperienced with riders.

Ground Manners:  A term used to describe the behavior of horses when being handled on the ground, not under saddle.

Hand:  Unit of measurement to describe the size of a horse.  One hand equals four inches.

Hot:  A term used to describe a horse that is easily excitable.

Impulsion: The strong but controlled forward movement of a horse.  Not to be confused with speed.

Indirect Rein:  The opposite reign from the direction the horse is moving.

Jog:  A western term used to describe a slow trot.

Lead:  Term used to describe a horse’s leading leg in  canter, such as ‘right lead canter’ or ‘left lead canter’.

Lunge/Longe:  To work or train a horse at the end of a long rope by having the horse obey specific commands.  Sometimes done in order to exercise a horse when not ridden.

Martingale:  A piece of tack, usually used for English riding disciplines or driving, to control the horse’s head carriage and prevent evasion of rein aids.

Mutton Withers:  Wide, flat withers common in certain breeds of horses.

Neck Reining:  A way to turn a horse by using the opposite rein (indirect rein) against the neck.

Off-Side:  The right hand side of the horse.

On the Bit:  This occurs when a horse calmly accepts the bit, carries his head in a near vertical position, and is responsive to the rider’s contact with the reins.

Overreaching:  When the front of the hind foot catches and injures the back heal of the front foot.

Poll:  The highest point on the top of a horse’s head.

Posting Trot:  To rise up out of the saddle and gently sit back down in rhythm with the horse’s motion when trotting.  Also known as Rising Trot.

Rack:  The fifth gait of the American Saddlebred horse.  This is a four-beat gait with equal intervals between each beat.

Rain Rot:  A common equine skin infection caused by the Dermatophilus organism.  Symptoms include crust-like scabs and patchy hair loss.

Serpentine:  A training movement in which a horse, moving at any pace, travels down the center of an arena in a series of equal-sized loops.

Surcingle:  A wide strap that runs over the back and under the belly of a horse, used to keep equipment, such as side reins, attached to a horse.

Thrush:  An infection of the horse’s frog, which usually results in a foul-smelling discharge.  Thrush is most common in moist, dirty paddocks and stables.

Topline:  A term used to describe the muscle cover over the top of the horse’s neck, back, and rump.

Withers:  The highest part of a horse’s back, lying at the base of the neck and above the shoulders.  The height of a horse is measured to the withers.

Yearling:  A male (colt) or female (filly) horse between 12 and 24 months of age.

 

Sorry for the long post.  This list ended up being far longer than I had intended, even though it only comprises some of the terms you will need to know.  How many of these words are you already familiar with?

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Piper Breeches on Sale Today Only!

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Well, it’s finally here – Election Day.  Please make sure y’all get out and vote.  Although I don’t think this will be the last we hear from either candidate, it will be nice to see an end to all of the disparaging political ads that plague my few minutes of television time each night.

piper-breeches

I didn’t put out a Sales post yesterday, because there really aren’t any great sales going on this week.  My guess is there will be some sales that get announced at the end of the week in honor of Veteran’s Day.  However, SmartPak is selling their Piper tops and breeches for 20% off today only.  I am a huge fan of all things Piper, especially their tee shirts and breeches (for more information on these breeches, see my product review on the Recommended Products page).  They come in a variety of colors, so you really can’t go wrong.  The size chart provided by SmartPak is pretty accurate, but if you do end up ordering the wrong size, fear not.  SmartPak is absolutely wonderful about returns.  This is one sale you won’t want to miss!

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What does ‘Live Boldly’ Mean to You?

My interpretation of living boldly.

My interpretation of living boldly.

 

The other day I came across a question that I cannot seem to get out of my head: What does ‘Live Boldly’ mean to you?  For the past four years, I have made a conscious effort to live boldly, although I did not actually prescribe those words to my actions.  It was a general feeling that something needed to change inside me if I was going to live the rest of my life with purpose.  It is not about seeking notoriety, but rather looking for meaning in our actions and relationships with others.  For me, living boldly means finding purpose in life, taking chances, and seeing each and every day as a new opportunity to do something that will make this world a better place.

Here are a few of the ways I try, each and every day, to live as boldly as possible:

  1. Love yourself – How do you show love for yourself? Do you look in the mirror every morning and wish that you looked younger, thinner, taller?  If so, you’re not loving yourself.  Take time to think about the things that you love about yourself, but dig deep.  Do not let other people’s negative comments about you pollute your image of yourself.  Remember, that these negative comments were likely spoken by people who also failed to love themselves and were projecting their contempt onto you.  There is truth to the adage, you must love yourself before you can love others.  When you love and respect yourself you learn to shut out those who do not treat you with respect.  So, do something each and every day to show love for yourself: take a walk, go on a trail ride, meditate.  Just make sure it is something that you enjoy doing.
  1. Take risks – I don’t mean start jumping out of airplanes (although you can if that’s what you really want to do). Try something new and different, such as horseback riding.  This is most important as we age because developing new skills, especially physical skills, helps to increase the amount of grey matter in our brain that staves off memory loss.  Taking any kind of risk, whether it be physical or creative, builds self-confidence which in turn builds up our self-esteem.  When we feel good about ourselves we are more likely to treat others with kindness and demand that same treatment in return.
  1. Conquer fear – A few years ago I realized how fear was controlling my life and keeping me from doing things that I longed to do. Fear can take many forms, and mine showed up every time I got in a car, on a plane, or on a horse.  The older we get the more fearful we get, likely the result of our awareness of the dangers involved in certain activities as well as our understanding of what we have to lose.  While I certainly do not condone taking unnecessary risks, tackling our fears leads to greater self-confidence and happiness.  Try to suppress the constant voice inside your head telling you what could happen.  Focus on the moment and not on the what if’s.  Take baby steps, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
  1. Surround yourself with positive-thinking people – As I’ve always told my kids, you are who you choose to be with. At some point, we have all allowed people into our lives who seem to go out of their way to discourage, put down, and criticize.  It is almost impossible to live boldly when you are constantly surrounded by people who see the negative in everything.  Cut those people loose, if you can, or at the very least keep contact with them to a minimum.  Who knows, maybe your positive outlook and greater self-confidence will eventually rub off on some of those Debbie Downers.

Now I want to hear from you! What does ‘Live Boldly’ mean to you?  What advice do you have for others who want to live boldly?  Can’t wait to hear what y’all have to say!

 

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Jodhpurs, Breeches, and Tights – What’s the Difference?

Picture this: you walk into a tack store hoping to find a pair of comfortable riding pants.  The confusion sets in as you see signs pointing to breeches, tights, and children’s jodhpurs.  Ahhhh!  Why so many choices?  Fear not newbie!  Read on to learn about the difference between these three options, and decide which one is right for you.

Indian Polo players sporting their jodhpurs. © Gentleman’s Gazette

Indian Polo players sporting their jodhpurs. © Gentleman’s Gazette

Beautiful Lady Explorer's Photo by Striderv on Flickr

Beautiful Lady Explorer’s
Photo by Striderv on Flickr

Modern Day Jodhpurs.

Modern Jodhpurs

While many people use the terms jodhpurs and breeches interchangeably, there is in fact a difference.  Jodhpurs  can trace their design back to the Churidar, a traditional Indian pant favored by the Regent of Jodhpur, Sir Pratap Singh.  An avid polo player, Singh tweaked the design of the Churidar pant so that it retained its fitted form in the calf and ankle but extended the already loose fit in the hip and thigh, thus allowing for greater ease of movement when riding.  By the early twentieth century, Western men and women had popularized jodhpurs for both sport and fashion. While the jodhpurs worn by equestrians today have lost the exaggerated bagginess present in the original design, they retain the seam that runs along the outside of the leg and  patch on the inside of the knee, usually made of suede,  to help the rider’s knee maintain contact with the saddle.  Jodhpurs can also be recognized by the upturned cuff which is usually pulled down over paddock boots,  a strap that is secured under the ankle prevents the pants from riding up.  These days jodhpurs are mainly worn by children, especially those who ride competitively.

Kentucky Jodhpurs

Kentucky Jodhpurs

There is one exception to this – Kentucky Jodhpurs, riding pants worn by male and female equestrians who compete in Saddle Seat classes (more about this coming in future posts).  This style is characterized by a long flared leg that fits over a paddock boot, and has an elastic strap under the foot to keep the pants in place.

British Infantry Officer from Pintrest

British Infantry Officer from Pintrest

Modern Day Breeches

Modern Day Breeches

Now onto breeches (pronounced britches).  Breeches can trace their lineage to the riding gear favored by countless generations of horsemen.  Early examples of breeches were buttoned, laced or buckled and usually tucked into tall laced or buckled field boots (think George Washington).  Like jodhpurs, these riding pants were fitted through the calf and flared through the hips, but were generally shorter than jodhpurs thus necessitating the tall boot.  Similar to jodhpurs, breeches have a  seam that  runs along the outside of the leg and today can be purchased in a variety of styles, including knee-patch and full seat, both of which can help a rider maintain contact with the saddle.  Today, the primary difference between these riding pants is length – jodhpurs run the full length of the leg while breeches are short, generally ending above the ankle.  Due to their length, breeches are usually worn with tall boots or paddock boots with half chaps, to protect legs from the stirrup leathers.  Modern day materials have made the extra fabric in the hips obsolete, allowing both styles of riding pant to be fitted while simultaneously enabling the rider to have total freedom of movement.  In addition, both jodhpurs and breeches can be found in a variety of weights, making them a perfect choice for both summer and winter riding conditions.

Jockey Breeches

Jockey Breeches

I should mention yet another breech design – those made for jockeys.  Unless you are planning on running in the Kentucky Derby, you probably won’t run into these when shopping, but I aim to educate fellow newbie!  Jockey breeches, also known as silks, are baggy in the hip and thigh, fitted in the calf, and worn with special jockey boots.  These breeches are made of lightweight fabric, such as nylon, and are elasticized in the calf.

Riding Tights

Riding Tights

Last but not least – riding tights.  From what I understand, and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but the term ‘riding tight’ is uniquely American.  The term is assigned to breeches that are made of a light weight and very stretchy material (think leggings).  As with breeches, riding tights come in a variety of styles including knee-patch and full seat options.  Also, most riding tights are pull on and do not close with a hook and fastener.  Since riding tights are generally lighter in weight, they are often a favorite choice during hot summer months, although winter tights are available.  From my experience, riding pants with thinner fabrics tend to be less forgiving of our derriere’s imperfections.

Of course, there are exceptions to everything, and this is simply a general guide to the different styles available for riding pants.  For more on the history of jodhpurs and breeches read Your Breeches Explained, Part I on the Horse Collaborative.

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