Dressage Princess

Even though my life and work revolves around beautiful clothing and leather goods from all over the world, and I get to spend everyday surrounded by these amazing four-legged creatures, the best thing about this business is the people I have connected with over the years. And what I have learned is that many horse women have similar life stories, we tend to embrace the same values, and our love for horses and spending time at the barn is inherently tied to our need to be independent, to be free-spirited, and to get away from the banality of our day-to-day chores (and sometimes the men in them).

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting and sharing dinner with two lovely ladies who just popped up their tent next to my mobile unit here at HITS. They are here with Game Ready, which if you have ever had an injury, like myself, and have used their product, it is simply the best way to reduce inflammation, accelerate healing, and reduce pain. I literally became addicted to my Game Ready when I broke my arm, sending my husband to the freezer every 30 minutes to get my fix!

Both ladies are Western riders with a little bit of dressage for good measure, and we had a great discussion about Natural Horsemanship, Western Dressage, and of course equestrian fashion. Since I have been around mostly hunter and jumpers for the past few years, I have gotten a bit out of touch with my inner Dressage Princess. I started riding dressage when I was 8 years old and competed through out my teen years. It is truly a magnificently different sport and often misunderstood…which is why it suits me! Even though I am a nonconformist to a certain degree, (I would have loved to experience the 60’s) I appreciate the discipline and classical elegance of dressage. And when it comes to Equestrian Fashion, I am strangely attracted to the polished look of a high-waisted full seat breech with a crisp tucked in blouse. A bit of a departure from my everyday bohemian look.

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So I am very excited to be picking up a new line of breeches that I believe captures the spirit of classic Dressage style and will reawaken the Princess in you!

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The Nathalie brand was born out of royalty with the impeccable style sensibilities of Princess Nathalie zu Sayn Wittgenstein, internationally ranked dressage competitor and member of Team Denmark, Bronze Medalists in at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

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The line combines timeless Euro fit with modern detailing and high-tech fabrics. The ever popular Swiss Schoeller premium fabrics include the Nanosphere® soil and stain resistant nano technology fabric, and new Coldblack® fabric innovation that keeps dark colours cool.

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I also love that the collection is designed and hand crafted in Europe enabling a more hands approach to the manufacturing, ensuring that the each style is paid its due attention and made with the best textiles available.

I can’t wait to get a pair so I can finally flaunt my inner Princess once again!

I’m Back!

Did you miss me?! I know it’s a been awhile….and I would like to say it’s because I have traveling the world, meeting fabulous people, and buying even more fabulous clothes..but alas that is not the reason. Although I did get away for three to days to go to Vegas! And I did buy 2 pairs of fantastic jeans…but other than that I have just been working. Working. And working some more. 

Quick update on my week at the Sacramento International Jumping Show. The participants were all jumpers. No hunters. Needless to say I had a fabulous time! Haha! Just kidding…I do have a special place in my heart for all the die hard hunters out there…it’s just somewhere deep down and I have a hard time accessing it when all I hear is complaints about stitching, and buttons, and navy coats, you know not being “navy enough.”  No really, I admire that you stick to your principles and have a clear idea of how you want to present yourself.  I just like to shake things up now and then. I am all about expressing and not repressing, and I don’t something about the conservativeness of the hunter community that screams repression to me.  I feel like it’s my mission in life to free you all from your navy constraints! But that doesn’t mean I don’t love you, I just don’t understand you!

But I am finally back just in time to tell you about a new line that we are SUPER excited about here at LA Saddlery.  And it’s actually really hunter friendly!  I promise it can be worn in the hunter arena. Cross my heart. Sincerely. It’s a beautiful line for both the hunter and jumper arena. There aren’t any crystally designs on the butts or anything!

Winston Equestrian is a boutique line of fine equestrian apparel that has clean classic lines and design details made with modern luxurious stretch fabrics from France and Italy.

Next year we will have an exclusive selection of their gorgeous show coats. And right now we are the first store to have, what I am calling “THE new white show shirt.”

That’s right hunter ladies, they are simple elegant WHITE show shirts! 

The only embellishment is the one crystal or pearl snap button on the collar.  It’s not over the top, it’s very pretty and neat.  It’s perfectly acceptable.   

The shirts are cut to beautifully contour your shape, need very little pressing, and also come in tall length for all you ladies with monkey arms!

Come by LA Saddlery during the Preview this weekend or next week during the International to check these out! Also all of the beautiful sportswear I have been bragging about for so long, will be 20% off the entire month of November. So come and treat yourself to an early holiday present!

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!

This morning we are packing up the trailer and going to the Sacramento International Jumper show at the Murieta Equestrian Center. This will be my first time at this show and I am anxious to see what we have in store for us! That’s right I said we…this time I will be dragging my husband along, because really what else does he have to do then to let me boss him around for 8 days straight! I told him he needs to strictly talk with his perfected Irish accent because ladies seem to buy more from men with European accents. I mean how else do you explain the boom in French saddles sales that are not actually made in France!

Ok I digress. Saddles are a sore subject for me, as we are still in fact a saddlery and happen to carry the top selling saddles in the world, but at this point specialize in riding apparel over anything else. But let’s face it, that’s where all the fun is anyway! And fall is the most fun time of year for Equestrian Fashion, even though the 100 degree weather here in LA is sucking most of the fun right out of me, I am still hopeful that an autumn breeze is just around the corner.

Even though I am taking all of the fabulous Fall Animo, a lot of the PK Sportswear, and the custom Tucci boots with me to Sacramento, I am leaving behind a plethora of fall clothing and some awesome new coats at LA Saddlery. You will definitely be hearing from me while I am at the show…and I am hoping to have some fun anecdotes since I will be with Mike and working with your spouse is always bound to cause some drama!

But I wanted to share with you some of my favorite fall picks that I am sadly leaving behind in Burbank…actually two of the items will be coming with me because as you know I can’ t help but shop in my own store!

Awesome new coats from Iris Bayer, who Vogue named one the best German designers of Equestrian apparel…and that’s pretty huge!

This one is a great cross over show jacket…meaning you CAN wear it in hunters, jumpers or dressage.. YES YOU CAN! Just imagine me saying it with a thick French accent and it will sound more believable to you!

This one is a short little number that is probably best for the jumper arena…though I would wear it anywhere, anytime, any place.

Ok now the really important stuff…SWEATERS! One cannot have too many sweaters. Seriously you can’t. Sweaters are the benchmark of any good fall wardrobe and these are the two that I have purchased from LA Saddlery and I will be packing tonight with the hopes that the temperature will drop to the 60’s!!

Goode Rider really does make the best knitwear. This one is not too hot for So Cal winters, its soft and hugging to your body, and looks fantastic with jeans or riding breeches. I would have bought one in every color…but I showed some restraint. I know hard to believe, but I had to make room in my closet for my new gorgeous camel colored sweater from my 2nd favorite brand, Barbour.

Barbour didn’t really have any great fashion shots of this one, but let me tell you it is stunning on. I will make Mike take some pictures of me in it. That’s right I said make…it’s ok don’t feel bad for him, my ass still looks as good as the day we met…luckily for my sake he’s easy to please!

If you are more of a jacket or coat person, Goode Rider and Barbour also coincidently have my two favorite styles that just happen to be extremely hot in runway fashion this year as well. The pea coat and the trench coat. Again two staple items to a well-rounded fall wardrobe. It’s true I read it in Marie Clare…there were pictures and everything I swear!

This coat is adorable, ridiculously soft, like you want to wrap it around you and curl-up-to-the-fire soft, and it’s pretty darn sexy. Mad Men sexy but without the oppression and total objectification of women.

This one from Barbour is a show stopper. Corinne has it perfectly styled in our store with a brown plaid Le Fash shirt and jean breeches, but honestly this coat would look good over anything!

Finally something that we believe we ordered by accident. This blog alone is a testament to my craziness, so it should be no surprise that I would mistakenly order corduroy breeches for LA! Despite their unfortunate name Horze makes really fantastic breeches at great price points.

These brown corduroy ones are actually not as hot as you would think…and they literally feel like butter on your skin. But the reason I love them so much is they are a great fashion piece for your everyday wardrobe. I recently tried on some skinny corduroy pants at the mall and not only were they hideous on me, but they were pretty damn expensive. The Horze ones fit me perfectly and looked great with my Dankso boots (see blog “my little muses” in which I have Corinne styled in them).

Ok..I am exhausted and must pack a ridiculous amount of clothes for my trip…talk to y’all soon!

Bridle & Bridal

September 29th, 2007, Michael Lydon Connolly, against all better judgement and reasonable sanity, decided to marry me in Ojai, California.  

In a couple of weeks we will be celebrating our fifth year of marriage, and our tenth year as a couple.   And despite some ups and downs…and one pretty big landslide, we make a great team, and I can honestly say without a doubt that my wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life.

 In fact the 365 days of planning that wedding were also pretty damn good! In my next life I definitely want to come back as a wedding planner…I am obsessed with wedding stuff, from the flowers, to the place settings, and I would literally wear a wedding dress everyday if I could!  Plus I love to plan things, and any job that has the word “planner” in the title would suit me just fine!   

Two of my close friends will be planning their wedding this year, and one of them like me is a bona fide eqgirl! So I really wanted to dedicate a blog to them, and incorporate the two things I love most in this world…horses and weddings!  

I mean with the state of unrest in the world, this hideous election, the negativity that is running around like a rabid dog, the only thing that keeps me sane is focusing on fun and positive moments to come and looking at pretty girly things, especially beautiful dresses!

So for every horse loving woman out there who is in the process of planning their wedding, or for all those girls like me who just love sparkles and sunshine, here are some awesome equestrian inspired ideas to bring the bridle into your bridal!

Step one: The Invitations…

I love the simplicity and elegance of this invitation, it’s also very english and proper!  

But if you want to go with something a little more literal, I love the idea of using black and white photographs of horses like this one below. 

If you are more of a country girl, this one is a bit more personal and homey. I really like invitations that look almost handmade and crafty, you can almost feel the love on the paper!

Step Two:  The table settings…

This adorable centerpiece is not only playful and charming, it has a very organic feel to it.  I imagine the food would be light and the conversation joyful at this wedding!

LOVE!  This is probably one of the coolest and chic ways to use an equestrian detail in your table decor.  

This is such a fantastic and dynamically different place card.  Again its playful and sweet and if there are kids at the wedding a great way to keep them entertained!

This Hermes inspired place card table has the WOW factor!  The vibrant and rich orange is the perfect contrast to the rustic horseshoes.  And again another little great token your guests can take home and hang over their doors for good luck!

Step Three: The Cake…

They say the cake should be the centerpiece of your wedding decor, and I couldn’t agree more! Woop that rhymed! Just the thought of all that sugar gets me amped up…

Sometimes less is more when designing your wedding cake. I love the sole horse toppers in each of these two cakes. And while each cake is simple in its appearance they portray two very different perspectives.  

Step four: The Details…

Like in any marriage, it’s the little things that add up and count the most. The same is true for your wedding!  I firmly believe you don’t have to break the bank and throw an over the top lavish wedding to celebrate your union.  I prefer weddings that are personal and poignant, where couples write their own vows and put their own style and personality into the wedding decor.  

Take these lovely little flats. They tell me something about the bride, what her tastes are, and where her passions lie.  And they will make for a precious keepsake and a little reminder of her beautiful wedding day.

This is by far my favorite image I discovered when researching equestrian inspired weddings. Just looking at this photo I feel like I know this couple!  They clearly have a relaxed way of looking at life and “a bit” of a sense of humor.  Yeah, I definitely would hang out with these two!

Step Five…Wait for it…

THE DRESS!!!!

Whatever your current wedding dress budget is, I am telling you right now its too low! This is the one day in your life you will get to be the princess, the star, the most looked at woman in the room. Your man will be anticipating this moment the entire time leading up to your grand entrance, and everyone will be dying to see how radiant you look.  DO NOT SKIMP OUT ON YOUR WEDDING DRESS!!!  Seriously ladies its only money…and unless you are planning on several marriages, you can’t go back in time and redo your look.  And the only thing that looks better than you in your wedding dress, is you in your wedding dress next to a beautiful horse!

Which brings me to the second most important thing not to skimp on…your photographer!  Again you can’t go back in time and re-shoot your wedding if the photos don’t come out how you imagined.  Make sure you find someone who understands who you are as a couple and will take special care to really capture your personalities on this important day.

Each one of these pictures and dresses tells a different story…

So when choosing your dress…

When thinking about the feel of your wedding...

When deciding on the colors and details…

When choosing your photographer…

Make sure that in the end you tell your story…

An Afternoon with ANIMO!

I am currently on a flight from Denver to Los Angeles. Let me tell you now..I hate planes. I hate flying. Every noise, every turn, every jerk, bump, dip sends my stomach to the disgusting faded 1970’s airplane carpet! If there is severe turbulence my little white knuckles will be clenching the armrests, or the person next me, whether I know them or not! 

The problem is I love to travel and because of my work I usually have to travel several times a year, which in this case meant a trip to Denver to meet with Armando who is the US distributor for a little known brand named Animo that I just happened to be madly in love with. And the things we do for love!


In 2010 Horse Connection Magazine rocked our equestrian world with a fearless and flashy, head spinning Animo fashion spread.

I couldn’t help revisiting the dynamic pages that were screaming with color, hearts, and  sparkles that were decorating the beautiful tight Italian butts!

That vibrant Blue Animo color had me wanting to see more and I knew this company was either going to hit big or hit bottom.  


Seeing the line in person solidified my stance that the former was going to be the case. I loved that the line was so incredibly different from anything we had seen and wanted LA Saddlery to be the front-runner in exposing the equestrian community to this over the top glamorized, stylish, and most innovative line to hit the US.

Because honestly Animo is the epitome of function and fashion working in harmony. The fabrics are phenomenal, the designs are fun, feminine, and flattering, and the grippy breeches are truly the best thing…like ever! I don’t know what it is about these clothes but they make me want to talk like a valley girl…


And LA Saddlery was the only west coasters brazen enough to buy into the entire line…even the crazy $600+ special edition breeches, the Italian rep actually advised us against. But we are in fact honey badgers, and we do what we like! And when you are buying into madness you have to be 100% committed.


Well our crazy fashion instincts paid off making Animo one of our top-selling brands four seasons in a row. So who’s crazy now! Ok we are. But the good kind of crazy. And the crazy is contagious…Animo mania has even infected the Dressage Divas. In fact its affects are so strong many hunters have caught the bug…and bad!!!

Today we spent 6 hours going over the Spring 2013 collection. Yes it’s that large!
Here is just a sneak peek to get your Animo fix on…

FYI: Had to delete pictures per Italy…they are top secret!  🙂

Armando’s showroom…what I wish my closet looked like!

 

A table full of fun breeches!

The most fabulously chic red neck breeches!!! I loved loved loved these..Tabitha not so much. But they will be coming : )

The cutest kids breeches I have ever seen! They literally made my uterus do a back spin!

Lots and lots of fun shirts!

Tabitha’s Favorite one…

and my favorite…

Adorable sweaters…

And of course the coats…

This one was our favorite. The fabric looks like a beautiful herringbone wool..but it is of course stretchy and fabulous! And love the new details on it!

They even did a “hunter friendly” coat with guess what….BUTTONS!!!!!  And plain ones at that!

Don’t worry it still has classic Animo style…

And it wouldn’t be Animo without hot pink, crystals, flowers, bling,  flash….and snake skin!

 

Good news you won’t have to wait till 2013 to see this incredible line. We have great deals at www.lasaddlery and in our store on 2012 Spring and our Fall 2012 is due in next week!!!

My Little Muses..

When LA Saddlery was born in February 2008 one of my top priorities was to hire and thoroughly train a great team of equestrian ladies to help us build solid relationships with our customers.  I also wanted to make sure that they were given a variety of opportunities to succeed, be rewarded for their accomplishments, and have ample benefits, including healthcare.  It took awhile to get the formula right…after all this industry does attract an exorbitantly high number of crazy women!  But after five years LA Saddlery has a strong, loyal, and fun group of ladies, all of whom have told me they love coming to work everyday.  Having grown up with a somewhat nonexistent family, these girls have become family to me, and even though some of them may be older, I feel like they are all my children and need looking after!  Especially when it comes to how they dress…after all we are promoting equestrian fashion at its best, and thus they should all dress accordingly!   

Luckily they have embraced our buying choices, and because they are all horse women and budding fashionistas, they truly love the apparel options available to equestrians.   You can walk into LA Saddlery on any day of the week and catch these lovely ladies wearing a LA Saddlery inspired ensemble of sorts…here are their top three  favorite things.

Number 1: Ariat Jeans!  

These jeans look fabulous on all of them, even though they each have very distinct body types. Ariat has a wide range of styles and cuts, and can satisfy the more edgy style of our Assistant Manager Angie, or the more clean-cut and preppy look our little Laurel loves.  

#2 Goode Rider button down shirts…

Now almost every one of us has at least one if not several of these fantastic shirts…so the challenge is to make sure we don’t all wear the same ones to work! 

Luckily every season Goode Rider changes up the look and style of these shirts, so we can constantly reinvent our look knowing that we are going to get the same quality and fit that got us hooked on them in the first place!

#3 Dansko Shoes…If you don’t have a pair of these you are missing out!  

Like Ariat Jeans, Dansko has such a variety of options that you are bound to find something to suit your personality. Plus they are ridiculously comfortable!  And with the right outfit they can be quite fashionably fabulous.

Come on…even Heidi Klum, the ultimate fashion Diva, loves her Dansko clogs!

I have so many pairs that at this point my husband suspects they are mating like rabbits in our closet! 

I actually have four pairs of these boots…and now am considering getting a couple more because they stopped making them! Nooooo!!! I am wearing these beautiful burgundy ones in my eqgirl photo…

 I mean look how awesome they are in this color too!!

At some point, me saying over and over and over again that equestrian apparel is in fact wearable in our everyday lives will start to sink in. Again I think that sometimes people need to see words in action to really grasp a concept…so over the course of the last several months I have forcefully taken pictures of my poor little Corinne at work because she always mixes it up and puts her personal fashion style into each equestrian inspired outfit.  I also love to dress her up like she’s my own personal Barbie doll : )  

Here she is looking sophisticated and sexy in a Cheval show shirt, dark blue jeans, and some pretty stylin Ariat cowboy boots.

I love this rocked out ensemble, wearing the same boots, this time over a pair of bedazzled Animo breeches! 

This is a perfect example of an everyday girl going to work with simple jeans and tennies, and a fitted and flattering Le Fash show shirt.  I accessorized her with this awesome leather bag by Dubarry. 

This to me is just a purely fun and sporty youthful look. Her PK Sportswear flashy purple zip up goes perfect with her adorable purple tennies.

Ok this is one that she let me dress her up like Snow Bunny Barbie! We just got our Ariat fall apparel shipment in, so I wanted to show off this easy to wear horse print shirt and furry plaid vest…did I mention I love furry collars?  I also have her in Dubarry again, this time the short Kildare waterproof, and practically bomb proof boots that every self-respecting barn girl should own!

Finally I wanted to dress her up like a mini-me…so I put her into these new Courderoy breeches by Horze, this stunning Barbour jacket, and of course my signature Dankso boots! 

I would love for you to come in and let me dress you up…so if you are ready to be styled head to toe give me a call at LA Saddlery and we can set up an appointment. If you let me pick out your whole look I will be give you our employee discount!!! Because everybody should look as good as my LA Saddlery ladies! 

Shopping Etiquette

When I first started eqgirl I didn’t want it to be just another equestrian blog that told you about the same old plain Jane stuff you see everywhere, or how to properly fit your saddle, or what product to use for the weird fungus that won’t seem to go away on your horse’s face…I wanted it to be light and fun, with a little bit about me and my crazy life, a lot about fabulous equestrian fashion, as well as give you a sneak peek into the life of a small business owner.  I like to think I have accomplished most of what I set out to do! I know I have had my ranting moments here and there. I still have flashbacks about the plaid shirt.  I am also stunned I haven’t had an angry trainer at my door cursing me out for pushing non navy coats like I am some kind of color junkie out to corrupt young riders. But the response from readers has been very positive, people are logging onto www.lasaddlery.com for great deals on equestrian apparel, and I have gotten to know some awesome people all over the US!

Today I would like to talk about something very near and dear to my heart.  Shopping.  Shopping is one of the main reasons I got into the equestrian business. I love to shop for our store, I love helping outfit our fabulous customers, and I love to write about all of the new trends continually evolving and challenging the equestrian clothing industry.   Shopping can be fun on vacation, on a lazy Sunday afternoon with your spouse, with a bunch of your best gals, or even on your one day off. It has definitely been there for me when I am feeling a bit blue, and when done correctly it can be better than therapy, food, or even sex!  Remember you are treating yourself because you deserve it, every time you where it you will feel fabulous, and you are also doing your part to support our economy.  

So whenever you do go out to shop and indulge yourself just remember to adhere to what I consider good shopping etiquette.  Here are my top 5 shopping rules to live by…

Rule #5: Never go shopping after a big meal.  Even if you are in great shape, shopping on a full stomach can sometimes make you feel a little rounder in the middle.  Nobody wants to put on pair of tight-fitting riding pants just to feel like they have a food baby trying to escape over their waistband!  

Rule #4:  Never bring a negative nelly with you.  You all have a friend like this…someone who’s always nit-picking the color, the fabric, the price. Everyone has different tastes, and while you may love some bling on your show coat, someone else may think its hideous. Well then they don’t have to wear it! Don’t let someone else’s opinion bully you of out of something you really love. They can buy their hideously bland Navy Herringbone coat and everyone will be happy!

Rule #3:  Stop second guessing yourself.  Take the time in the store to try on all of your options.  You don’t want to get home and feel like you made a bad purchase.  If you come to LA Saddlery I wouldn’t sell you anything that I didn’t think was perfect for you, so start trusting your sales associate when they say this is the best option on you.  Believe me they don’t want you to return the item either, so they will want to make sure you look great when you walk out of the store! 

Rule #2: Go for quality over quantity.  People often opt for less expensive items because they can’t justify spending money on riding clothes that are just going to get ruined at the barn. But remember some of the less expensive items may get ruined in the washing machine! I am not saying this is true for all economically priced items, but sometimes spending a little extra money will get you a lot more miles out of your purchase.  Again trust your sales associate. Most of them have tried the products in the store and can verify their resiliency.  

Rule #1A: Do not go into a your local tack shop to be fully fitted and outfitted by a sales associate just to leave after an hour to buy those items online.  I understand you want to save some money, but this is truly not the way to go about it. First tell the sales associate you are on a budget.  The store may have better options for you that are more affordable.  If your heart is still set on something that you know you can get online for $10 less, than inquire about an upcoming sale, discount program, or other specials the shop may be having.  Also realize that the price may be $10 more in the shop, not because it’s an inflated price (its most likely still at MSRP or even just below) but because a small business has way more overhead and needs to make the regular margin on an item.  That $10 is paying for that sweet helpful sales girl who just properly fit your helmet and tall boots.  

Rule #1B: On a similar note, if you are going to buy online, at least buy from a US company!   Yes those Pikeur breeches may initially appear less expensive on that UK website, because they are selling to you direct and not through a US distributor who has to mark up the price before your local tack shop buys it from them.   But when you take into consideration the exchangee rate, shipping, VAT cost, and wait time, not to mention the fact that our own US economy is faltering, is it really worth saving a few dollars?  We love to point the finger at the government, big business, the 1%, etc etc…but the reality is we can do something to change all of that by shopping at our locally owned small businesses.  These are the folks who are struggling and need your support!  

Plus we love getting to know you! We also love getting to know your dogs, your horses, and most of your children ; ).  So next time you go into your tack shop start building a relationship with the sales girls, because wouldn’t it be great to walk in and have someone know exactly what you like, what size you are, and what your trainer will actually allow you to wear?!  Plus once you make that bond we will be more than happy to get you great deals, give you free samples when available, donate items to the silent auction for your children’s school, and much more…you can’t get that from an online company and you definitely can’t get that when buying outside of the US! 

Ok well thanks again for reading…I will have more great fall fashions to write about in the coming week! Happy shopping!

 

 

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