Review: Charles Owen Helmets

Review: Charles Owen Helmets

Charles Owen has been my go-to helmet brand for 4 or 5 years.

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Between my dad and I, we’ve used the:

The best part about these helmets is that they have about every safety certification known to man (or close to it!).

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They are certified:

  • SEI/ASTM F1163
  • CE VG 01.040 2014-12
  • BSI Kitemark PAS015:2011
  • SNELL E2001

They’re super comfortable. Before switching to Charles Owen, I’d ridden in Ovations, Troxels, IRHs, and even a GPA. None of them are bad helmets, but none of them hold a candle to my Charles Owens. They are the most comfortable helmets I’ve ever put my head in.

The downfall of these Charles Owen helmets is that they have zero ventilation (the ARY8 is the cheapest one with any).

 

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The helmets are covered with microfiber suede that is weather resistant. My JR8 Sparkle has a black sparkly center. It’s not a glossy sparkle, it’s a little rougher. However, it’s not a bad thing, it helps the sun reflect the sparkle even more.

The JR8s have nylon harnesses and plastic clasps, and the GR8 has a suede covered nylon-fortified harness with a metal clasp and button.

I have a hyper, huge horse. I fall off…more than the average person, and when I fall, it’s a long fall. I’m lucky in that I’ve yet to have to go the hospital for a fall (KNOCK ON WOOD), and I give plenty of the credit for that to my helmets and XC vests.

 

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Helmet companies recommend your helmet should be replaced after every fall or after 5 years with light use (consistent riders should replace more often). My helmets tend to last about two years, about 2-4 falls per helmet. It’s not the best situation, but replacing my helmet everytime would be extremely expensive. I’ve gotten to the point where I am very good at landing on my feet or butt, not my head. That said, if it’s possible for you to replace your helmet after every fall, I encourage you to do so.

The pros:

The classic look (or fun sparkles) and A+ safety standards.

The cons:

No ventilation!

emma

Overall?

I trust my helmets to save my life every time I ride. There’s nothing I would trust more than Charles Owen!

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Summer Must Haves for Horse and Rider

Summer Must Haves for Horse and Rider

Summer is a time of long, sunny, and hot days. These are my five go-to items for horse and rider in the warmest season.

  1. Absorbine Hooflex Natural
    Long, hot nights out in the pasture mean Beau’s feet get torn up quickly. Right now he’s getting his feet done nearly every 4 weeks. Hooflex is my lifesaver, and I like the natural version because it’s clear and it doesn’t smell.
  2. Endure Fly Spray
    Endure is life. This stuff works incredibly well. Plus, the spray bottle is extremely nice quality and will last longer than the product if you like to make homemade or concentrate fly spray.
  3. Peppermint Essential Oil
    This is a new discovery for me. Last week, Beau had a massage by someone who invests in essential oils. It was 90+ degrees, and he was sweating pretty badly. After his massage, she put a few drops of this into a bucket of water for me to sponge him off with because it aids in cooling. He was dry in minutes! I will definitely be investing in more of this soon!
    NOW Foods - 100% Pure & Natural Aromatherapeutic Peppermint Oil - 2 oz. Image 1 of 2
  4. SmartPak SunShield Short Sleeve Shirt
    This is actually a replacement for my Noble Outfitters Amy shirt, which was discontinued. I specifically chose one with short sleeves, because I think riding in long sleeves in the heat is practically suicide. This shirt has mesh underarm sleeves and a quarter zip which I like, and I love this pink color!
  5. Secret Aerosol Deodorant
    This stuff is magic. I don’t know how I lived before spray deodorant. I sweat a lot. I get it from my dad (thanks a lot!). Even though it’d be impossible to find a deodorant that keeps me completely dry in this heat, this comes pretty close.
    Secret® Powder Fresh Aerosol Antiperspirant/Deodorant Spray 6 oz. Aerosol Can Image 1 of 7

These are my 2017 Summer go-to’s. They keep me and my horse in top condition.

What do you reach for in the summer?

Review: Annie’s Equestrienne Breeches

Review: Annie’s Equestrienne Breeches

I love reviews. I love these breeches even more.

 

 

Annie’s Equestrienne is a small but growing, family-owned business. The daughter (Annie) dreamed up some colorful breeches, and her mom made it happen! These breeches are not only fun for adults, they are perfect for children, too. The company’s collection ranges from breeches to shadbellies and competition jackets to schooling shirts to jewelry.

Let’s start with the visual: I have the Original Blue color, which is a beautiful mint, light blue. The pockets (which are nice and roomy) have cream piping and are lined with blingy crystals. I actually received a compliment on these from a non-horsey person yesterday – they’re that pretty!

Bonus: They match my Dover light blue pad perfectly!

They have cream knee patches and cream sock bottoms. The breeches are mid-rise with a zip and button. They also have 1″ belt loops. In the pictures you see here, I actually borrowed one of my mom’s belts because all of my belts are 2″ wide – precisely because I hate 1″ belt loops. But I’ll survive, these are too cute not to wear!

Next, the feel of the breeches: these are 100% summer breeches. They’re lightweight and comfortable. I rarely wear these in the winter because I live in Ohio, where temperatures get pretty low, but they’re great for the other three seasons.

The sock bottoms are soft. To remind you, I’m 5’1. These breeches would be perfect for someone 5’4″ to 5’8″ – which means I actually roll the sock bottoms up. They’re nice and flexible, so they don’t crease and pinch my ankles after they’re rolled.

I’ve had these for over a year, probably closer to two, and they still look brand new! The crystals are solidly attached, none of the stitching has come undone, and there aren’t any noticeable stains. These test well for durability for me!

Note the rolled bottoms!

The pros:

Lightweight, colorful, and comfortable, these are my go to summer breeches.

The cons:

Too tall for me, and I hate the 1″ belt loops. 2″ belt loops are the way to go!

Overall?

These are a total win. They’re comfortable, fit well, and pretty. I’ve received so many compliments on them, and I love standing out with the color! Give them a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Reorganizing My Tack

Reorganizing My Tack

A few days ago, I found some gems that inspired a redo of my entire tack’s organization. These storage bins were perfect for my stuff, so I grabbed them right away to upcycle.

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They were nasty when I got them, so to clean them I used:

  1. A dustpan and small broom (to sweep off big clumps of dust)
  2. Sanitizing Wipes (to clean and sanitize everything)
  3. A cloth (to dry and clean any stubborn pieces of dust)
  4. Bathroom cleaner (to clean stubborn stains on the top of one bin)
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Before
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After

So, for reorganizing:

First, I took the big and bulky bins out of the kneehole in my wall where my horse stuff stays. After looking through my things, I decided where to put everything in the new bins.

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Small green bin:

  • Top drawer: leather pieces for the bridle and extra reins
  • Middle drawer: cross ties, gloves, misc.
  • Bottom drawer: other leather pieces (martingales and girths)

Large green bin:

  • Top drawer: what I reach for the most (duct tape, medical armbands, stirrups)
  • Middle drawer: hay net, extra groom tote, extra treats
  • Bottom drawer: what I rarely use (boot bag, saddle and bridle racks, half chaps)

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On top of that, I have my saddle pads in a ziploc storage bag because they don’t fit in any bins.

To the left, I have a bin with winter blankets and an extra blanket on top of that bin. Next to that is my extra saddle rack for shows.

The Final Product in my room:

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I love how this turned out! It’s so much easier to just open a drawer rather than pulling out all the bins to search for whatever you need. The clear drawers are perfect for easy finding, especially since my dad has a hard time finding things in here.

The medium sized black bin went to the barn to hold my wraps and bandages, and I’m planning to move my first kit in there as well!

How is your extra horse tack stored? 

The Reality of Schooling

The Reality of Schooling

Schooling is a complicated beast.

On one hand, you need to have a schedule, a plan.

On the other, you need to be flexible and adapt to your horse.

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Today was a complicated day in of itself. I knew I wanted to have a pretty hard work day as I felt like I’d been slacking lately. We’ve been doing a lot of hacks and bareback rides the past few weeks. Luckily, Beau has two other riders that work him hard as well, but I have to keep up too!

My plan was to work on bending and rating, as in extending and collecting the gaits. This way I had a loose idea of what I wanted to do, but I could choose my specific exercises depending on how he felt.

We got sidetracked. Of course.

When we got in the arena, two of my friends were just finishing up riding and left right after I picked up the trot. This is, of course, Beau and my’s weakness.

He gets spooky and hyper (no, don’t leave me friends!!) and I get nervous because I overthink what would happen if I fell off without anyone with me. We play off each other and get nervous and tight. Then it’s very hard to get a good ride, or any working ride at all, really.

So, our plan changed from bending and rating to using bending and rating to keep both of us focused and forward.

Step 1: Work on the far side of the arena.
Specifically, away from the spooky arena door where the horses leave.

  • Walk: work on bending, using leg yields and playing with the reins to keep him focused (literally jiggling them). I don’t use that a lot, but it helps him focus and me relax.
  • Trot: work on transitions for rushing using 5 steps walk and 7-14 steps trot, increasing more trot steps as he relaxed. Work on consistency by pushing him forward when he sucked back and half halting when he rushed.
  • Canter: push him forward and actually get him to go one way, try to hold him back the other. Because logic.

Step 2: Switch to the near side of the arena.

  • Walk: get him to go forward. Because he’s a big-A horse who is a jerk when he decides to just stop. Also, I have little legs!
  • Trot: Hey, hey, we’re going forward now! Work on bending and pushing him forward. Half halts and MORE LEG!
  • Canter: Bend and go forward. Bend and go forward. We did it – yay!

So, did we accomplish what I wanted? Yeah, we did.

Did we accomplish it the way I had in my mind? No.

Schooling will leave you glowing with happiness (ex: jumping like a boss, nailing lead changes, etc.), crying with frustration (the bucking bronco, the gross eq, or the FALL), or just feeling average (most days, let’s be honest).

The reality of it is – it’s going to be different everyday. Sometimes it’s going to be awesome, sometimes it’s not.

Expecting perfection every ride will lead to heartbreaks and headaches, but staying flexible and adaptive will allow you to get the most from your horse AND your ride. Remember schooling is for making mistakes. There’s no judgment for a bad ride. Everybody has them!

Review: SmartPak Piper Breeches

Review: SmartPak Piper Breeches

For Christmas this year, I put two pairs of breeches on my wish list: the SmartPak Original Knee Patch Pipers and the Dover Riding Sport Knee Patch Event Breeches. Both breeches I got, and both breeches I had to exchange. The returns and exchanges were easy for both pairs.

The exchange for both pairs went like this:
1. Filled out the exchange forms and sent them back.
2. Received a call that since it was the busy season, the exchange might take a while. I told them it was okay.
3. My breeches came in the mail!

The first thing you will notice about these breeches is that they are freaking adorable.

I got them in the navy/turquoise, so they are a beautiful, dark, rich navy blue with bright turquoise stitching on the knee patches, piping on the pockets, and the signature SmartPak logo.
They also have the best thing ever invented aka SOCK BOTTOMS. These soft, stretchy bottoms start right below the knee patches. I’m 5’1″ so breeches are usually a little long on me, so the stretchy material scrunches up around my ankles, which is way better that the velcro that cuts into my ankle bone.
Not the best picture, but you get the idea.
Let’s talk about fit for a second: To start with, I have a pretty hourglass figure, but I have thick thighs and a bit of a muffin top. But hey, we can’t all be perfect! I like mid-rise or “natural fit” breeches, because they sit comfortably over my stomach. The original Pipers fit perfectly, flattering my stomach and keeping everything contained while being stretchy enough to be comfortable. As for my thighs, the Pipers are stretchy enough to be comfortable, but they’re tight enough to still be flattering. They also have the Euro-seat, which is a nice touch.
These Pipers also have a 2″ wide belt loops, which are my favorite. They’re the perfect width for my C4 Belts, which are, as we all know, the best equestrian belts. I think they’re also more comfortable than the 1″ belts, which tend to be pinchy and unflattering.
The last part of these breeches I want to mention is the material of the Pipers. They are stretchy, but tight enough to be flattering (repetitive, I know). A loose breech is a fashion faux-pas for sure, and nobody likes that (the exception being male riders). I really like this material: it’s cool enough for the summer but warm enough for the winter.
It’s also pretty stain resistant. You know how I found this out? Because my horse is an idiot, and I’m cursed. Every single time I ride in a new product (breeches, boots, helmet, etc.), I fall off, either the first ride or one of the next rides. Well, these guys were no different.
Beau spooked at a tarp and bucked me off. These breeches, while covered in dirt from landing on my hip, cleaned up fairly well just brushing off the dirt, and still look brand new! I rode in them again last week and they were just as comfortable and nice as I remembered.
I definitely plan on getting another pair of these – they’re too nice to have just one, and I love all the colors.
Coming Home

Coming Home

Tomorrow, I’ll be leaving the campus of my current college, let’s call it College A for now, for the last time. I’ll make the six hour long drive home with my mom and grandma, who are the absolute best for coming to get me. In case you didn’t know, this was my freshman year of college. So, the question begs, why am I not coming back to College A?

I chose to go to College A for a few reasons.

One, I love to travel, and I wanted to go out of state for a while, kind of learn who I am when I’m not with my family (Now: I hate not being with my family and friends).

Two, it was a good choice for my intended major, global studies and/or political science (Now: I’m studying marketing).

Three, I loved the campus (Now: Don’t visit college campuses when school is not in session. The people make the campus).

So, as you can see, my reasons for choosing College A in spring 2016 are no longer valid in spring 2017. There were also a couple of other reasons as to why I wanted to leave, but those aren’t things I want to talk about on here.

This brings me to College B. Ironically, in spring 2016, I was adamant I didn’t want to attend College B. All – well, most – of my family had gone there; it was too close to home; I wanted to be different. Blah, blah, blah, basically I was stubbornly against what my family wanted, even though they had the best of intentions.

So why did I choose to transfer to College B? Well, for one, it is very close to my family. One of the original reasons why I shied away from it, this is now one of the most important aspects of College B. Then, there’s also the fact that it is one of the best colleges in my state, and I can get a great education there. And lastly, what you’ve all been waiting for, it brings me closer to my horse.

So, how does all of this relate to this blog, which is pretty obviously an equestrian one? Well, College A had a lot of things. It also lacked a lot of things, one of which was my horse. I honestly believe that if I had had my horse with me, I would have stuck it out at College A. No matter how stressed you are, no matter how much crap you go through, if you have your best friend with you, you can survive anything.

Today, someone on social media asked the question, “If you had to describe the feeling you have when you’re with your horse, what one word would you use?” Now, obviously, there’s a lot of answers you could use. Some of the ones in the comments included: free, happy, euphoric, confident, and more.

But there was one word that stuck out in my mind: home.

What is it about a horse that makes you feel like you are home? What makes you feel as if you never left? Is it the bond between horse and rider? The gentle nudge of a muzzle on your shoulder that seems to say, “It’s okay, I still love you,” no matter what happens? Is it the wonder that such a wild and huge creature could come to completely trust you, a human, who makes mistakes, who screws up, who asks why they’re different from everybody else?

Perhaps it’s because when you are with a horse, you are stripped down to your most basic form. There is no College A or College B, or stress at school, or work, or home. There’s no hating on yourself (at least there shouldn’t be!), no wondering why you’re different, no time to think the deep thoughts.

There’s only you. The horse. The communication and bond. The original survival instincts to run faster, work harder, push yourself more but to know when to slow, steady, and rest.

So, what does College B have that College A doesn’t? I think it’s a home. Whether that’s my family, my friends, or my horse, I know that I’ll be better off having found my home, even if it took me a year to realize that my home was really my home all along!

The Rolex Red Carpet: Eventing Divas!

The Rolex Red Carpet: Eventing Divas!

Today was the first day of the Best Weekend All Year! I was able to live stream most of the jog, excepting a few riders (class is overrated anyways). I love seeing all the riders dressed up and the horses groomed to a perfect shine. It was a blustery day, and the riders and horses were definitely feeling the spring air. All of the girls’ hair was blowing in the wind, so there was quite a movie-like scene. Pink seemed to be a big theme this year!

**Photos were taken off of Facebook or Eventing Nation. If you would like a photo taken down, please contact me at eventerat14@gmail.com. Enjoy!

Katie Ruppel’s blue dress was so modern and sleek, and the pink collar gave it an extra sparkle. Her pink flats were colorful but practical.

Photo by Eventing Nation.

I absolutely loved Madeline Backus’s bright copper-red hair against her understated navy blue dress. Her black boots added a stylish edge.

Photo by Eventing Nation.

Will Faudree made an impression in a bright white, clean, crisp suit paired with black boots (from my days working in the boot store, I can guess these are caimen or gator boots).

Photo by Practical Horseman

Allie Sackson looked downright elegant in a periwinkle dress with a small, cream derby hat which paired perfectly with her spotless grey, Sparrow’s Nio.

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Photo by Michelle Dunn.

Phillip Dutton sported a baseball cap for about the only thing that I’d be okay with – for #TeamLeeLee, paired with a tailored suit and a pink tie.

Photo by Practical Horseman

Rachel McDonough’s dotted tea dress was stunning, and her tie-up flats added an extra element of style.

Photo by Eventing Nation.

Bobby Meyerhoff’s red coat and gray pants made a classic combination in what made me think of a not-so-subtle nod to foxhunting.

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Photo from Ryan Davis Photography

Matt Brown may be one of the only people who can pull off a plaid tie with a plaid jacket with a plaid cap but it works in shades of complementary gray.

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Photo by Michelle Dunn.
Last but not least, Jolie Wentworth was darling in a pretty spring floral dress and nude flats.
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Photo by Michelle Dunn.

Horse Mention:

Caroline Martin’s Spring Easy made such a statement I had to mention his shiny, light chestnut coat.

Photo by Eventing Nation.

Who made the biggest fashion statement to you?

People to Watch in Rolex 2017

People to Watch in Rolex 2017

If you are in the eventing world, or if you know anyone in the eventing world, it’s pretty much impossible to not know about Rolex. But, for those of you that don’t know what it is, I’ll give you a little synopsis of “The Best Weekend All Year!” aka next weekend April 26-30.

Rolex is actually the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. It is the only 4-star event in North America. The FEI recognized events, the highest levels, are ranked by stars, starting at 1* and going up to 4*. There are about six 4* events in the world (although the US is supposed to get a second 4* in the coming years).

These heights were SO HARD to find.
The best part – these fences are HUGE!

Okay, so we’ve got monster fences and the best of the best riders (this is the top event in the United States). Rolex also has demonstrations from local groups, famous riders and horse people (aka Patrick the mini horse and his handler!). Pony Clubs are always demonstrating, usually games, vaulting, and/or eventing.

My second favorite part (behind the best riding in the country) is the Sponsor Village and the Trade Fair. This is a HUGE collection of “pop-up stores” containing everything from Annie’s Equestrian (aka the best breeches ever) to Horze, one of the monster chains that sells pretty much everything to CWD and Devoucoux.

My top picks:

(Disclaimer: these pictures were taken off the riders’ Facebook pages. All rights to the original owners. If you would like a picture taken down, contact me at eventerat14@gmail.com)
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1. Maxime Livio
Maxime is a French rider who has been winning or placing in literally everything in the past two years. His riding style reminds me of William Fox-Pitt, except his legs tend to slip back, but his core and upper body are so steady. His horse, Qalao Des Mers, is a stocky yet adorable gelding.
Maxime is also on my “better not screw it up” list. In 2014, he was accused and suspended for doping Qalao at the World Equestrian Games. This doping also prevented France from competing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Eventing. It’ll be interesting to see how this pair does.
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2. Lauren Kieffer 
Lauren is a US rider who has consistently been in the top placings at Rolex for a couple of years now. She has three horses entered, though my personal favorite is Veronica, her veteran Rolex mount. She competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics for the US. Lauren has had a very steady year, placing in her rides and showing she is ready to make this Rolex just as good as the previous years.
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3. Will Faudree
Honestly, I just think Will is due for a really good Rolex run this year. He’s placed in the top-middle of the pack in previous years but his track record for the past two years has been amazing. I am very, very excited to see what he’ll show us this year. His horse, Pfun, is a grey Irish Sport Horse gelding, and I’m pretty sure I love him already just from his name!
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4. Michael Jung
Ze Terminator. Winning Rolex twice in a row on FischerRocana FST, this pair is sure to be in the top ten finishers (unless something unmentionable happens). Michael Jung has taken the eventing community by storm and is a household name for any eventer. Last year, he took the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, something a very, very select few have been able to do.
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5. Doug Payne
As if I could leave out my very favorite rider. Doug is an incredible rider and clinician, and I’m pretty sure I’m in love with his horse, Vandiver (Quinn!). I like watching him because he is a very technical rider, and you can learn a ridiculous amount just by watching. He also posts a ton of helmet cams, and there’s nothing like hearing and seeing a Rolex XC analysis from the rider himself. Doug has also been on a winning streak lately, so I’m excited to see what he’ll do.
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6. Caroline Martin
Caroline caught my interest when she won the Carolina International 3*. That was a huge field of really good riders, and she made it look easy. She also had a 4th place finish at the Fork 3*. More than that, her riding is great and fun to watch. Spring Easy is a beautiful 9 year old Irish Sport Horse gelding with an easy, scopey jump. I’ll be watching to see how this Rolex goes for her!
Other riders to keep an eye on:
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7. Kim Severson & Cooley Cross Border – really good 2016/2017 season so far.

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8. Clark Montgomery & Loughan Glen – they have had a fantastic season, so I’m excited to see what they show us at Rolex.

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9. Boyd Martin & Steady Eddie – hard to beat, and (to me) a classic combination.

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10. Buck Davidson & Copper Beach – this horse is newer to me, but has been having a pretty good season so far.
Who are your top picks? Let me know in the comments! 
18 Motivational Quotes That Will Keep Any Equestrian Determined

18 Motivational Quotes That Will Keep Any Equestrian Determined

 

Inspired by Jumper Nation’s post 10 Mantras From Non-Equestrians To Transform Your Next Round, my list includes all of their quotes, as well as some of my own personal favorites. *None of these quotes are my own.

  1. Next play. Next play.
    This is a great reminder to forget about your past struggles and look to the future to really show what you can do,
  2. I got this.
    Never forget that you can do whatever you put your mind to do.
  3. The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.
    If you are determined, you can stretch beyond what you think is possible to attain the impossible.
  4. I know what I have to do.
    As soon as you think this phrase, you relax and immediately calm down and focus.
  5. Green as grass and ready to kick some ass.
    One of my personal favorites, this is great for people like me who ride greenies, this quote is a great reminder that you are ready to compete with the big boys/girls.
  6. If you can believe it, you can achieve it.
    Another reminder that anything is possible!
  7. Be water.
    This is a great reminder to go with the flow and not to worry about the bumps and knots in the river’s path.
  8. Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.
    Don’t be afraid to lose, but keep the drive and determination required to win.
  9. Decide. Commit. Succeed.
    Choose your goal, stick to it, and do whatever it takes to succeed in your eyes.
  10. Work until your idols become your rivals.
    Another of my favorites, this is a reminder that if you work enough, you can reach the level of your idols!
  11. Why not me? Why not us?
    There is nothing in the world that can limit you. One of my favorite inspirations is U.S. Para-Olympian Annie Peavy.
  12. Strive for progress, not perfection.
    Recently I read an article that called out the old mantra “Perfect practice makes perfect.” It stated that you should reward your horse and yourself with any small victory, instead of overreaching for perfection.
  13. When you think about quitting, remember why you started.
    This is fantastic for when you’re not happy with your discipline. Remember that first ride, that first cross country jump, that first flying change. And then Smile!
  14. The goal is not to ensure everything is right. The goal is to expose everything that is wrong.
    For the perfectionist, this is important to remember, especially in lessons. Lessons are for trying new things, screwing up, and growing in talent.
  15. Breathe. Believe. Battle.
    I love this one for competitions. Calm yourself, believe in yourself, and battle for the blue ribbon you know you deserve!
  16. Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try.
    Whether it’s entering a new show class or exploring a new trail at home, you never know what you can achieve until you try.
  17. Don’t be afraid to be great.
    Never, never be scared to show your talent, even if it’s different from what you expected.
  18. Create the best conditions then let go of the outcome.
    Do the best you can to prepare, but be okay with losing. Sometimes you just need to learn from your mistakes.