Riding Boots NEVER go out of style!

Here I am at my very first Dressage show where I scored a miserable 48% because, Sweetheart, the little old mare school horse, decided to whinny her way through the entire test with her head sticking straight out! She was thrilled to be showing off in the dressage arena after years of going in circles at the riding school.  I however was not so thrilled, and after reviewing my test, cried silently to myself and then dramatically crumpled it up and threw it away, vowing to never score that low again! I was quite the little competitor, and after that dressage diva display my trainer knew it was time for me to get my own horse.  

And get my first pair of real dressage boots.  I vividly remember them, in fact I may still have the scars! They were custom Vogel Dressage boots. Pull on, stiff as hell, need three people and some WD40 to get you out of them, kind of boots. I believe I was about 8 years old.  To me it was a right of passage, to suffer through the pain of walking up and down the stairs to break those bad boys in. And because I was a growing girl, I had to break in several pairs of Frankenstein boots for the next 5 years! 

So now when kids come into LA Saddlery and beg mommy for a pair of tall boots, or when new adult riders choose field boots over paddocks and half chaps, and they easily slip their foot into the unzipped tall boot, with the super soft leather, elastic panel, and cushy rubber sole, and have the gall to bitch and wine about how “uncomfortable” they are, I just laugh and say “suck it up ladies!”

Tall riding boots today are built more like fashion boots then riding boots, which is why we sell several pairs a year to women who strictly wear them with skirts, dresses, and skinny jeans. In fact last year a friend of mine who owns a lovely little shop on Beverly Drive, Dale Michele, directed a young woman who worked for Ralph Lauren to our shop to find some riding boots. Apparently Ralph didn’t make her size and were a bit out of her price range. So off to LA Saddlery she came and purchased a pair of Ariat Heritage Kids tall boots!

She has subsequently sent several of her regular customers our way to purchase tall riding boots to be worn strictly for fashion. Because lets face it riding inspired boots have been an integral part of the main stream fashion industry for some time now. 

 

And why not! They can be sleek, cool, sophisticated, edgy, sporty, and the real ones are now made to be extremely comfortable and usually cost less than most high-end fashion boots.  I can’t tell you how many people stop me on the street when I wear my gorgeous burgundy Tucci Polo Boots or my simple black dress boots, to find out where I bought them. 

And now you have several Equestrian apparel companies, including Goode Rider, Ariat, and GPA, that are designing fabulous riding inspired fashion boots. 

But to be honest I actually prefer real riding boots as my personal accessories to my everyday wardrobe. Take the Tucci Leonoardo dress boot.

Not only are they 100 times more comfortable than your high-end fashion boot, they look stunning, and are much more durable! Plus you can actually ride in them…money well spent!

Here are a couple of my other favorite riding boots that can double as fashion boots…next time you get some boots think brown! They are definitely coming back in style in the arena and they look gorgeous with jeans and sweaters. I love the simplicity of this classic Konig field boot. 

Go for brown in a paddock boot as well. These Sergio Grasso ones are sexy as hell!

For an edgier look, I really love the Ariat Volant boots. They are bit biker chic, and will definitely give you a stand out look! Plus they are ridiculously comfortable and great for everyday riding.

If you want a great looking boot for riding and fashion, but don’t want to go overboard in price, then Tredstep’s Donatello boot is one of the best cost-effective field boots on the market.

If you haven’t tried this already, go ahead and clean up your tall boots and wear them out next time you hit the mall. Pair them with your cutest pair of breeches, skinny jeans, or tights, hell wear them with a skirt or dress! I guarantee you someone will stop you and say how much they love your look!  Then send them to LA Saddlery to get fitted for their own : )

Size does matter!

So you have all seen me, you know I am a pint size person. That’s why most of my life I have been very comfortable in a full size bed. When I moved in with Mike 10 years ago we upgraded to a Queen which at the time felt absolutely luxurious! I had no problem sprawling out my legs and arms without pushing a 6ft guy off the bed. However then we had Betty…

And as you can see she is a bit of a cover hog! But she is my baby, the love of my life, my soulmate…and who could possibly be upset when this is the first thing you see when you wake up!

And then Mike had to have a cat…so we added Diego to our little family. And he and Betty became best bed buds right off the bat!

So with Betty in between us, and Diego usually on top of one us…lets just say the once luxurious Queen size bed started to feel a little claustrophobic!  But we adjusted, became more flexible in our sleeping positions, and eventually I found just the right way to contort myself to allow my furry friends to become permanent fixtures in our bed.

And then….we got Joules…she prefers to sleep right up against you at all times!

Ok..so now we have little ole me…a 6ft man, a 75lb Betty, an 8lb Diego (which when on your stomach starts to feel quite heavy!) and a 70Lb Joules…in what now feels like a twin size bed!  Soon enough I have been completely edged out of the picture…

We slept like this for three years!  Wait…let me rephrase. We lived like this for three years..I am pretty sure we never slept! And I kept wanting to upgrade to a bigger bed, but damn it beds are expensive! Not to mention all of the new bedding, headboard..etc.  Which makes me a perfect example of how shoppers are a bit Schizophrenic. I had no problem dropping way too much money on the 8 birthday dresses I bought this year, which by they way I still haven’t worn! But when it comes to something I will be using for literally half of my life, I get gun-shy with my wallet.

I see the same thing happen when customers come into buy a helmet, especially Dressage riders.  Our heads are the most important part of our bodies, yet we don’t want to spend too much money on them because we hate the way they look or feel, or whatever other irrational rationale we give the salesperson.  

Believe me I get it, I grew up riding dressage, and we never wore helmets.  During the show we wore these cute little velvet hard hats with no strap.

These darling hunt caps are still used today for fashion shoots, because they are synonymous with how an Equestrian should look, and they are adorable on most people.

But lets be honest, if you were to have a fall, they would do absolutely nothing to protect your head from injury.  But while most of us know that, we continue to hold onto our denial that it won’t happen to us because frankly who wants to put one of these gigantic mushroom-shaped contraptions on our heads!  Well I do for one!

 

Usually when a customer tells me they look ridiculous in a helmet, I put one on for them so they can see someone really look silly! But I love my head much more than I care about looking silly.  And now there are so many great options for helmets that it can be fun to incorporate your helmet into your overall equestrian look.

You just have to make sure you get one in the right size!!!!  Meaning don’t get one that feels fantastic because it basically is just sitting on your head!  Just like a Queen size bed is too small for the zoo that is living in my house, an overly big “comfy” helmet is not going give to you the protection when you really need it. So size does matter! In fact so does shape.  Everyone’s head is shaped differently and even though you love that $50 schooling helmet because its nice and inexpensive, the $300 one fits your head perfectly and may even save your life! Are you really going to argue that your life is worth less $250 dollars…I don’t think so.

So here are some of my favorite picks for helmets. Remember as nice looking as these helmets are, they still may not be the right one for you. When you go to purchase a helmet make sure you go to a tack store that is well-versed in properly fitting your noggin.

The best looking schooling helmet on the market I believe is the Ovation…they come in several styles and colors and have a dial fit system so that you can customize the tightness as needed. They are also pretty low profile so they tend to frame your face better than some of the more bulky schooling helmets.

You really can’t go wrong with a Charles Owen. Honestly they are still one of the best helmets on the market and come in a variety of styles and colors so you can always put your personal touch on your headgear.

I am particularly fond of this beautiful hunter green one…it would look spectacular with a nice tweed hunt coat!

I have a dressage customer that has 3 or 4 Ary8’s all in different colors to match her different coats and Shadbellies. We are currently ordering her a custom lavender one to go with this awesome Animo Shadbelly!

And finally, as much as I love my GPA Helmet, I also really love the way the Samshield helmets feel and look on me. They are classy, elegant, and you can add all kinds of skins and bling to them. 

So there it is…size does matter when purchasing a bed or a helmet, and remember not to be too cheap when you are choosing either…You don’t want to lose sleep or your head over a few hundred dollars!

News Flash: A Two Toned Tech Zip Up Shirt is NOT Equestrian Fashion!

One of my all time favorite movies is the brilliant James L Brooks film, Broadcast News.  If you have never seen it then Netflix it tonight!  It’s smart, original, funny, well-acted, basically everything that movies aren’t today.  I am particularly fond of Jane, played by Holly Hunter. She’s this fantastically Type A and tightly wound control freak that is immensely passionate about her beliefs, refuses to lower her standards, and also happens to be exceptional at her job …which of course is how I would fondly describe myself!  And I woke today having a Jane moment. Basically needing a few minutes to unplug and have a good cry! 

But I got to work hopeful I would find some inspiration for my blog in one of the several equestrian industry publications that I haven’t yet perused.  However to my dismay the “fashion” sections, or my personal favorite “English Elegance” section was filled with the same old companies and the same old plain zipper shirts, one note jackets, and cotton tan breeches etc etc..blah blah blah! This is not fashion people…this is functional riding apparel. And there is nothing wrong with functional riding apparel, but please don’t insult my fashion intelligence and lump these generic items in with a real equestrian fashion line like Goode Rider.  They are just not one and the same!  

So my quest today was to write about some equestrian brands that often get left out of these so called fashion write ups…such as Kentucky, Gersemi, Marigold, and even Pikeur.  But unfortunately when I went to look online to find some stylized pictures from these lines the pickings were slim. I did however find an abundance of these pictures….

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And these…

This one just makes me sad.

 

I know at some point I may get death threats for some of my blog rants…but it’s only because people don’t want to admit that they know I am right!

Best line from Broadcast News…when Jane blatantly tells the Network’s Producer he is making a bad decision:

 Producer: It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you’re the smartest person in the room.

Jane: No. It’s awful.

 

And it is awful! Not to mention exhausting.  I am really tired of trying to convince people that equestrian fashion is a different animal than riding apparel.  And since I couldn’t find all of the right pictures online I figured what better place to take pictures than at LA Saddlery!  They say a picture is worth a thousand words…so here goes…

Riding Shirt

 

Equestrian Fashion

 

Riding Zip-Up Jacket

 

Equestrian Fashion


Riding Breeches

 

Equestrian Fashion

 

Show Coat

 

Equestrian Fashion

If it’s still not clear…

always remember that Equestrian Fashion is all in the details..

In the  statement…

The Elegance…(the real kind..)

And the attitude…

Fall into something new…

Ok…yes when I left the house today my car said it was 103 degrees outside…but I am not going to let that stop me from dreaming about the upcoming fall season of fantastic sportswear! 

In fact all of the Equestrian brands tend to have stronger fall lines than Spring ones.  And I think right about now everyone is sick of having to worry about their bikini bodies and are longing for a day when they can throw a sweater on with some fabulous knee-high boots and fluffy  scarf, essentially hiding a few unwanted pounds underneath a layer of beautiful knits, fur, and tweeds!

You will be seeing a lot of stunning fall wear here at eqgirl because fall is my absolute favorite time of year and I have an unhealthy obsession with long sweaters and jackets, tall boots, and of course scarves.  My husband’s side of the closet looks as if it’s about to be  swallowed up by a gigantic wool and cashmere monster!  But in my defense I wear those suckers everywhere, until the fabric is pilled and frayed at the seams, forcing me to buy a new and fabulous one to replace it.

In fact I was just showing my LA Saddlery girls one of my favorite clothing stores in Venice, while I was writing this blog : ) and happened to see this fantastic sweater for sale on their website!

So with their encouragement I bought it! I also have a pair of these adorable faux riding pants..which are actually leggings and ridiculously comfortable!  Check them out at http://nightcapclothing.com/

But I am of course very loyal to my equestrian brands. I have a plethora of Goode Rider, Barbour, Gersemi, Ariat, and Pikeur fall sportswear, including stylin rain coats, fur collared jackets, comfy zip ups, puffy vests, and my favorite, long belted sweaters. 

This year I will be adding PK Sportswear to my collection!

This colorful fashion brand is new to the US market and has been launched with great success in California since Fall 2011.

The PK International collections are created by equestrians and fashion designers in the Netherlands.

They are made of high quality luxury colorful fabrics and created to be worn on and off the horse.

The collections change every season with different colors and styles so you will stand out where ever you go.

PK International was chosen as the sponsor of the Royal Dutch Equestrian Association (KNHS) to design a riders collection for the Dutch Dressage Team at the Olympic Games 2012 in London.

FAB Sportswear, the exclusive distributor for PK International, is based in Northern California and is run by two of the nicest, fun-loving ladies I have met in a long time! I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with one of these lovely ladies while I was visiting Sonoma, and let me tell you there will be more fantastic things to come from PK and FAB Sportswear!

Best Kept Secret in Sonoma

Despite the very disappointing primetime coverage of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, particularly with the complete absence of the Equestrian rounds, I am still in full blown competitive mode! Rooting of course for my fellow Americans, but also for all of the talented and fiercely driven athletes around the world. I especially love an underdog…or in my business…a dark horse.

If I were to compare myself and LA Saddlery here at Sonoma Horse Park to an athlete’s Olympic presence it would be a toss up between the bad ass Misty May Treanor, who catapults herself into victory particularly when she’s falling behind…or the feisty Aly Raisman who was happy to come into this Olympics under the radar, stealthily holding strong to secure her a position at the top.

And here’s why…after two weeks of being in a less than stellar part of the show grounds, virtually hidden to the participants perusing vendor row, I started to get a little fed up of hearing…”Wow we didn’t know you were here!” “why are you so far away?” “you are in the worst spot!” and my personal favorite “the last vendor in this spot cried!”

Needless to say I started to feel a bitterness creep over me as the days went on, envying my competitors who were nicely nestled between the main arenas and all the action.

But here’s the thing. I have had really fantastic customers, which led to not only some great sales but also budding relationships from people all over the west coast…including Oregon which houses some fabulously dressed equestrians!

And after much contemplating, I began to realize that my hidden location makes me this great little secret, an unknown, a gem if you will! And I’m drawing lots of attention away from the other vendors and their posh spots. In fact, and not to get too conspiracy theory on you, but I am going to go as far and say the other vendors probably had something to do with my exile like post. Which would normally make me feel abandoned and unloved, but this is the business of fashion, and I like to think they want me at a disadvantage because I’m a threat. And that’s a compliment. And a truth by the way! Never bet against a Sicilian…

I have always been a fierce but fair competitor and I am relishing my off the beaten path location, because let’s be honest I am a bit off as well! I think outside of the norm when researching new lines to bring into LA Saddlery and I will never give up my fight to open the hunter world to the possibilities in equestrian attire that aren’t conforming and bland. Stylish and put together but still individually spirited in nature. That’s my plan of attack!

Just to prove it…here is a little sneak peak of a another stunning Italian line LA Saddlery is in talks with…go see Tabitha at our main location in Burbank to check them out in person and place any pre-orders!

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And for all those keeping score…there is only one Italian equestrian in Sonoma…and she’s five foot nothing hidden behind a big white tent!

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