Muthoni Kimani: “I Had to Recover Mentally Rather than Physically.”

Muthoni Kimani began riding when she was just three years old. Her friend’s mother owned a riding school, and Muthoni adored it right from the start. She had a natural aptitude for the sport and caught on quickly, so she began competing when she was seven years old, first dressage and then eventing. When she turned fourteen, she started showjumping. Like many riders with similar stories, who have fallen in love with the sport at a young age and spent their teenage years at the barn, Muthoni hop

Ask Us: When and How Should I Intervene With the Vet/Farrier?

You just saw your farrier handle your horse in a way that made you uncomfortable. Or maybe your vet tells you not to worry, but you still have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right. What do you do? Finding a balance between being confrontational and standing up for your horse can be tricky. Experienced horsewoman Margie Engle’s advice is pretty straightforward: speak up, but in a positive way. “You don’t have to be rude, and you can be as diplomatic as possible. But we also have to lear

Are You Over-Bitting Your Horse? With Mette Larsen

Worried you’re using a bit that’s too harsh for your horse? Mette Larsen says you aren’t alone. Not everyone has been through pony club or 4H or a pre-vet tech program. So when it comes to choosing the right equipment, riders can only draw from what they know. The decision to reach for a stronger bit generally doesn’t come from any kind of bad intention to hurt or make our horses miserable. Most of us are just trying to find the right tool for the job. “The truth is, many times as riders, when

Black Riders Need Helmets That Fit, Too: Talking Head Protection with Caitlin Gooch

Growing up around horses, Caitlin Gooch (Black cowgirl, mama of four, and the energy behind @saddleupandread) says she always wore a helmet. She credits her dad for always insisting on safety first for his daughter. After taking a bad fall that required major surgery on his neck and left a permanent scar, he was adamant that Caitlin wear a helmet anytime she was on a horse, no matter what they were doing. Although helmets were normal for her, now that she’s looking back on her childhood, she als

A Letter to Chilli Willi

It’s been more than a year now since we lost you. It was a real struggle at first. It was heartbreaking, what happened, and I still think a lot about it. It’s so difficult to describe. In the beginning, I didn’t even realize it was true. I couldn’t believe it. It felt like watching a bad movie or something that I couldn’t look away from, and then it became too real. The only thing I can do now is try to give that grief a place. I try to be happy to have had such a great horse in my life and that

Real, Practical Ways to Practice a Little More Sustainability in the Barn

When we read about climate change, including the things we should be doing to prevent it and the dire warnings against ignoring its effects, it is easy for the individual to feel overwhelmed. Environmental scientists tell us that conditions such as drought, flooding, and heat will increase due to climate change, and many of us around the world have already experienced more frequent extreme weather events in recent years. Dr. Poppy Harding, equestrian, environmental scientist and lecturer at Roya

We Are All Warriors In Our Own Field: A Ukrainian Show Jumper Weighs in On the Fallout of War

I talk to my mom every day. I call her every morning and ask, How was the night? But in my head, I’m asking her the question that has been running through my head since the last time we spoke, Are you still alive? I think this is how every morning starts now, for every Ukrainian. We call our family and our friends to see if they survived the night. Whether we are there or not, our days begin the same. My name is Kateryna Khurshudyan, and I am a Ukrainian showjumper. I live and work in Belgium, s

"There Is a Spirituality to Riding Horses": Riding in Hijab with Elif Kavakci

Growing up, Elif had dreams of learning to ride, but as the youngest of three girls, there just wasn’t the extra time or money to commit to expensive riding lessons. Still, horses held a fascination for Elif, especially as she became immersed in learning the faith of her family. “I have always loved animals, and horses are such amazing animals.” She continues, “Also, as a Muslim girl, in my Islamic studies classes, I had learned about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him, the last prophet in Isla

What Riding with an Invisible Disability Taught Ava Stauber About Inclusivity (and Why It Matters)

Riding a horse named Bravo, affectionately described as “a sweet pony, but kinda a devil when jumping,” Ava Stauber didn’t hear a car zooming up behind them. Bravo certainly did though, and he spooked, spun, and Ava ended up on the ground, thinking How did that happen? Her trainer came running, yelling, Didn’t you hear the car coming up behind you?  Ava laughed a little when retelling the story. “I was like, ''Clearly not, no. But can you give me a leg up? The mounting block is a mile away.” Ava

Mackenzie Drazan: My Journey with PTSD

It was a Friday and I had just finished my round. We were double clear and fast. I went to go sit in the grandstands to watch the rest of the class and as I watched, a bulldog came and sat down next to me. He proceeded to fall asleep in the sun, snoring as he sunbathed. It was a completely unremarkable, pleasant moment in time... which is why I was completely blindsided.  All of the sudden, my limbs locked and my chest felt like it was crushing my lungs. I couldn't breathe. The movie of my life

Laine Ashker: My Struggle with the Voices of Self-Doubt

I have a hard time dealing with my failures. Every decision I make can wear on me. I had a hard time with my weight when I was young, and I’ve always dealt with self-confidence issues. I wasn’t comfortable with my body. Even when I was a little girl, I wanted to do everything perfectly. I couldn’t go to sleep until my homework was done. I didn’t want to make any mistakes. I think, in this lifestyle, it’s very easy to be self critical. When I have people, sometimes even strangers, who have paid m

We Need to Get Over the Stigma of Air Vests in the Show Ring

A long-time staple in Eventing, the safety vest has been showing up across disciplines in 2020. Although there have been trailblazers (think top hunter rider and trainer Sandy Ferrell) who have worn a vest in the show ring for years, in a sport where tradition and appearances still hold a lot of sway, protective equipment can sometimes get an eyeroll or snide comment. Why is that? No rider is immune to injury, and accidents can happen in a matter of seconds. If we have the technology to make the

Karl Cook: No Product Is Your Magic Cure

Scroll through Instagram or Facebook, and you will likely come across a sponsored ad or two for a product promising a miracle for your horse. All you need is this one ointment or supplement, and your problems will disappear. Social media complicates things because many of us follow top riders and influencers in the industry, plus friends and acquaintances we’ve met at barns or horse shows. So alongside the advertisements, we are bombarded with posts endorsing this or that product with words lik

'Horsemanship Can’t Be Allowed to Die Out': An Argument for The Barn Rat

How tight should a noseband be? How many fingers should you still be able to put in a noseband when tightened? What about the throat latch? Are the answers to these questions common knowledge among riders? Helena Stormanns, former international competitor and current trainer to some of the best show jumpers in the world, thinks they should be. “These are all things I knew when I was seven years old. But I knew because someone had taught me.”

Dear Enjoy Louis, Turning Around and Trying You Was the Best Decision I Ever Made

For the next 6 weeks, we'll be honoring the deep bond between horse and rider in our series, A Letter to My Horse. On June 29, we'll be releasing details on how you, too, can participate! We'll be choosing 3 top reader submissions to this series, and along with some pretty awesome prizes, winning pieces will be published on Follow along with the series and keep your eyes peeled for details!Dear Enjoy Louis,  You made things feel easy, and without you, things aren’t going to be s

Dear Anthony Patch: You Loved Me When I Didn't Love Myself

For the next 6 weeks, we'll be honoring the deep bond between horse and rider in our series, A Letter to My Horse. On June 29, we'll be releasing details on how you, too, can participate! We'll be choosing 3 top reader submissions to this series, and along with some pretty awesome prizes, winning pieces will be published on Follow along with the series and keep your eyes peeled for details! Dear Anthony Patch, You have given me so much, so many wins. You put me on the map and ta

Dear Royce, You Are a Daily Reminder of My 'Why'.

Dear Royce, It took me almost a year to buy you. I first watched you jumping with Liubov Kochetova when you were six years old, and I knew you had amazing, raw talent. You were heavier, with bigger bones, than I normally liked in a horse, and you were definitely not the most broke. When she finally agreed to let me buy you (we had to sign a contract saying we weren’t buying for resale), you weren’t easy to get on. You were just a lot of horse, with a ton of pent-up energy. I remember them telling me, You can’t turn him out, he’ll go crazy.
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