First Show in Years

First Show in Years

My son Dane has ridden horses for years, but only recently decided to start showing and get a little more serious. This past Sunday, we took him to his first show at Gardnertown Farms across the Hudson in Newburgh, NY. I don’t know who was more nervous, him or me!  He looked very dashing in his show coat and tie. I told him it would look better with a sparkle unicorn t-shirt (like the ones you can buy in my store) but he disagreed <wink>. 

Dane has been training for showing with Angelo Danza at Three Phase Equestrian Center / AD Sporthorses, and it’s been amazing to watch him improve and ready himself for this level of intensity. I’ve always been proud of his ability to bond with horses, especially the very forward and sweet thoroughbred Greta (show name “Game Face”), he was riding today. 

The first class out of three, was a crazy course with 14 jumps.  I looked at the map and realized that this event was almost more about memory than equitation. The rain was varying from light to medium and was probably a blessing as it would have been very hot in the afternoon sun. The small crowd of watchers gathered under the trees by the event ring as the riders strenuously repeated the course in their heads, “red, red, outside, diagonal, oxer – no, brown!”  

The first rider rode and cleared, though her horse was an unwilling participant, shying and fighting the whole way. I hoped Dane was paying close attention but I’m sure the first event butterflies were not helping him concentrate. After a couple more riders, it was his turn. 

The whistle blew and he was off.  One jump and then another went smoothly but Greta was excited and running super fast. Angelo was calling out instructions from ringside, mostly to “slow down!” but Dane was struggling to steady the pace.

Agh! SLOW DOWN!!!

Eventually around the twelfth jump he made a wrong turn and the beep-beep of the “rider off course” ended his first run. But for a first run it was great – fast (too fast!) and he had almost finished. To add to the excitement he knocked over a standard on the way out (still going fast) and Angelo went to pick it up for him. 

Dane was clearly frustrated but we told him it was an amazing first run. The rain drizzled on and the riders cycled through the second round until it was Dane’s turn again. They had changed the jump order and he nearly got it except for a wrong turn right at the end. Beep-beep!  So close, but Greta was feeling more confident, as was Dane. 

As the last round got going my husband worked with Dane to memorize the jump order as they watched the other riders. Then it was time to run again. Dane made one jump after another . I heard Greta hit a pole in the middle but I didn’t see if it fell. A tight turn into the final jump (“let her see it!” called Angelo) and he had finished his first successful run! Great Father’s Day Gift!

Great jump, but squinting from the pouring rain….

The riders went to put the horses back in the trailer while we waited for the results. We knew he wouldn’t be placing in the first two incomplete rounds but then I heard them announce the third, “First Place, Dane Beels and Gameface”. A blue ribbon on his first competition!  The other kids cleaned up as well! He makes me one proud horse Mom!

The blue ribbon round 🙂
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Retail Therapy

Retail Therapy

I have fun news for my local readers: some local and very popular tack stores have given me the opportunity to launch my line in their beautiful shops. We’ve collaborated and curated specific Tack and Tweed apparel and accessories for clients in and around the Hudson Valley, Westchester and Connecticut.

The first store to graciously feature my apparel is Saddle Manor in Patterson, NY, which serves Northern Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, and Fairfield Counties. Owner Donna Woods will be sure to take care of your every need with a smile and warm welcome. She has a wide variety of beautiful saddles, apparel, tack and anything else your horse or horse lover could possibly need! Stop in Monday through Saturday 10am – 5pm. 2974 Route 22, Patterson, NY 12563 (845) 878-3881.

The Horse Connection is in Bedford – New York’s horsiest town. It was started by owner Natasha Tarasov in 1992 as a mobile tack store offering the best products at the best price with the best service. Her store is a popular staple in Bedford’s historic downtown. Treat yourself to lunch in town at Bedford 234 or the Bedford Post Inn after buying your horse-crazy girl one of my super soft sweatshirts ;).

Open Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm, Sunday 12pm – 5pm. 38 Village Green, Bedford, NY (914) 234-2047

The next two stores are local famous farm markets and have taken on some of my more artsy apparel. We feature the stunning equestrian watercolors of the talented Lorisa Zorina. Please drop by and enjoy some cider donuts and their very own hard cider (yum!) at Harvest Moon Orchard in North Salem.

Open daily summer and fall 9am – 6pm. 130 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem, NY (914) 485-1210.

Also take some time and visit the stunning Rochambeau Farm in Mt. Kisco, NY. Your kids will love to feed their incredibly happy farm animals while you will enjoy munching on their own fresh produce and browsing local products, like my friend Susanne Nastasi’s line of homemade, all natural laundry wash, aptly branded The Farm Babe.

Open Wednesday – Friday 9am – 6pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm. 214 West Patent Road Mt. Kisco, NY 10549 (914) 241-8090.

If you are in the area, please support these amazing local stores who are holding their own against the big online retailers. There is something so wonderful about going in to a real store, trying a pair of breeches on for a perfect fit, touching soft and luxurious garments, smelling leather tack and most importantly, creating a genuine relationship with local business owners who truly care and contribute to our communities.

xo

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Dear Joan Rivers…

Dear Joan Rivers…

We miss you terribly. I’m not a huge fan of award shows; personally, I feel they drag on and on, and are typically filled with self-congratulatory dribble, but at least we could count on your honest, no-holds-barred review of the red carpet. Worst dressed culprits strived on the next go-around to make it to your best dressed list, and your best-dressed celebs could be confident that they absolutely did look glamorous. Joan Rivers, you had great taste.

Last night, I could almost hear your post-carpet review on Fashion Police in my head while watching what looked like a bad high school prom.

Given, I’m not under the scrutiny of every camera and bitchy princess in Hollywood, and I’m not churning out multimillion dollar movies (or anythings for that matter), but I would hope I would make some better choices than what we all saw last night.

For example, I wonder what the Fabulous Mrs. Rivers would have to say about the taffeta tulle trend:

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Oh no, Heidi, not you too?

Honestly, the only one that pulled it off is Emmy Rossum in Monique Lhillier, but still don’t these dresses harken back to Pretty In Pink? I know this style all too well; I actually wore these types of dresses 4 years in row. The bigger the better. The only thing missing is the carnation and baby’s breath corsage (wrist or pin-on depends on neckline).

1980’s See the resemblance?

I love a good tuxedo on a woman, but these just didn’t cut it. Too big (like she got into daddy’s closet), too short (forgot pants?) or just confusing, the fit of these were off.

Judy Greer, Julianne Moore, Elisabeth Moss

There were some beauties, however. I thought the following two took the Disney Princess theme, and made it look classic, grown up and posh – definitely winners for the night:

GORGEOUS Gemma Chan in Valentino
The back is simply stunning.
As always, Halle Berry never lets us down (wearing Zuhair Murad) – does she ever get older?

Did you guys watch the red carpet last night? What do you think? Am I being too harsh?

xo

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Hunter Paces….

Hunter Paces….

My sweet steed, Chance, is really shaping up. Minus an old stifle injury as a colt, he’s been sound. He’s not going to any grand prix competitions any time soon (neither would I, by the way), but he has gotten in shape enough to “compete” in some regional hunter paces. My son rode in last weekend’s Rombout Foxhounds Hunter Pace up by Hyde Park, NY.

The hunt club did a wonderful job setting up the jumps (all decorated beautifully), tabletops and food. Catering was delicious (pumpkin soup, chili and desserts too numerous to count)!

I love hunter paces. From beginners to super-competitive riders, all are welcome. Dane (my son) and Chance had lots of fun and Team Beech Hill (our group of three riders/horses) did great! Not in the ribbons, but there were many teams and their time was pretty darn good.

Have any of you done hunter paces? How do you like them? Post your pictures/videos here or on our Facebook page!

xo

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…and they’re off!

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The Ebony Horsewoman

The Ebony Horsewoman

EbonyHorsewomanLogoSince I’ve been around horses, I’ve known the wonderful things they can do for young people. Some of the most responsible, talented, polite and hardworking boys and girls I can think of, work around a barn for lessons, for themselves and for their ponies and horses. Horses, sometimes intimidating but always a mirror to ourselves, can also reach even the hardest to reach humans. I witnessed this myself when I worked at a small urban barn in Queens, NY (Lynne’s Riding School) whose gentle lesson horses participated in Gallop NYC, teaching autistic and children with downs syndrome the joy of riding.

Patricia E. Kelley, a top Western equestrian and former marine (wow), has known this since 1983 when she founded The Ebony Horsewoman. She has been working with inner city kids, teaching animal care and science (including Western and English riding) to over 300 Hartford, CT kids per year.

“We use horses as a hook to create pride, esteem and healing,” said Kelly, 66. “They learn that they have ability. They just have to unlock it.”

By exposing kids in Hartford to horsemanship, she hopes to give them an alternative to the hardships that they may endure every day. They can escape street stress and spend time and energy in her 693 acre park with 14 horses, a Shetland pony, and a number of other animal species, which are taken care of by her students.

Really innovative is her Jr. Mounted Patrol – a group of young riders charged with patrolling the park and reporting back with what is going on in the park. How wonderful is this??

I want to highlight her work and perhaps drum up some dinero for her efforts. As winter descends upon the farm, they could use some money for feed and hay, and I’m sure any number of other items for her non-profit.

Way to go Ms. Kelley! I’ll be on your donor list 🙂

All photos are from their web site – I just thought they were too cool not to feature.

http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/topvideos/2014/12/05/natpkg-cnn-heroes-tribute-kelly.cnn

Ebony Horsewomen, Inc.
337 Vine Street | Hartford, CT 06112

Phone: (860) 293-2914
Fax:    (860) 293-0039

Email: info@ebonyhorsewomen.us
www.ebonyhorsewomen.us

xo

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Equus Film Festival NYC

Equus Film Festival NYC

FilmFestival2I’ve lived in and around NYC for almost 20 years now and I’m a little sad to say I’ve never participated or attended any film festivals. I’ve thought long and hard about getting my butt to the Tribeca Festival, but never actually made it. Last Thursday, when I heard (last minute) about the Equus Film Festival at MIST in Harlem Friday and Saturday, I called in a last minute babysitter, grabbed my notebook and jumped on Metro North. Quite clearly, hours of horsey films take priority over a DeNiro (my favorite actor, by the way) sighting ;).

It took me a couple minutes to find MIST, but once inside I felt very much at home. Three theaters playing equestrian cinema, world-renowned artists and horse activists all convening to share a drink and a bite at the delicious bar of Madiba, and the 7 or so obligatory protesters (anti-horse and carriage types as there was one short film being screened that defended NYC’s horse carriages) out front all conspired to make a wonderful and entertaining evening. I had a bite to eat at the bar, and I realized that this was of the same Madiba of Fort Greene Brooklyn fame, right down the street from where my husband and I lived years ago. It was one of our favorite haunts, so I was happy to see them thriving. Not to mention, the food was amazing. My little hand meat pie and truffle fries were perfect, as was my husbands dish of Chicken Durban Bunny Chow (spicy curry-like dish served in a hollowed out organic bread loaf). DELISH.

Okay, so I grabbed another glass of South African chardonnay, and sat through some evening flicks. First, some shorts. A short about Dr. Maria Katsamanis, who specializes in classical horsemanship, then a quickie about the Festival of the Horse and Drum, which looks to be a fun event scheduled for next August 15th and 16th in St. Charles, Illinois.  Sorry to report that the Asmar Equestrian (my regular readers know I love this brand) ad wasn’t aired at this point, but was seen on screens across the lobby and perhaps at another point in the festival. We then screened Free Rein, a glimpse into the life of a natural horsemanship trainer in Cananda named Jessica Fobert. She teaches us to listen to horses, and gives them a voice – they also happened to win the “Best Equestrian Series” award – congrats!  Next was the talented and artistic Riders of McCrae Farm. Specializing in French Classical Dressage, movements are given by, not forced from, the horse. Not the best cinematography, but a great performance and fun to see.

The next film was a treat. Animaglyphes, a labor of love by director and creator Manolo Bez, creative mind behind the Theatre du Centaur along with his wife, Camille. The film takes us on a journey of animals and man, so that we cannot tell where one ends and the other begins. They bring together a collage of hundreds of people, sheep, horses and onlookers as they undertake an epic journey across many miles through the south of France, ultimately parading though the un-barricaded streets of Marseilles. A piece of art, his objective was to demonstrate the oneness of man and animal while capturing different points of view, the most striking being one of birds as they witness hundreds of sheep being herded behind a female “centaur” (actually Manolo’s wife riding standing up on anywhere between 1 and 3 horses). When I asked what were some of his largest challenges making the film, besides securing the necessary bureaucratic permits, the largest challenge was the massive amounts of animal and human waste and how it was to be controlled and kept clean. Poo above all. 😉

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After this, I took a break to see what was happening in the lobby. I wasn’t disappointed as there were some protesters trying to cause a ruckus over the screening of a 10 minute movie named Save the Horse Carriages by Mary Haverstick (narrated by Liam Neeson). Eh, what’s a good event without some rabble rousers to bring in some media attention :)? I’m posting it here – reason for protest? I’ll let you decide.

Anyway, on the lighter side of life, I also met a wonderful artist named Beatrice Bulteau, who specializes in equestrian art and the celebration of movement and capturing the essence of the horse. She also happens to be the artist behind this year’s festival poster. As much as I wanted her beautiful watercolor mural (and everything else I saw), I only walked away with a signed festival poster and a beautiful iPhone 5 case. Hailing from Paris and now living in Portugal, Ms. Bulteau has been at her art for decades. I am sure that any piece of hers is a wise investment; tasteful art that will ad beauty and class to any room.

If I had more time and less children, I would have attended Saturday – all day. Alas, I had to call it quits after Friday. I’m anticipating next year, and will absolutely make time for the train ride back to the city to attend. Well worth it!

xo

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“My Pony”

“My Pony”

“I want a pony. I want a pony more than anything else in the world.” The artist and children’s book author and illustrator, Susan Jeffers opens her book, My Pony, with these words. What little (or big) child bit by the horse bug hasn’t uttered this phrase? This is a book about a little girl, who dreams of having her own pony. Her family cannot afford one, so she draws a beautiful dappled grey mare named Silver, who becomes her dreamy equine companion.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Jeffers this past weekend at the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival this past weekend, (the CCBF is one of the most notable of book festivals in the NYC area). A rider herself (in fact, she used to have a horse not too far from where my son and I ride), Jeffers’ love for horses and children’s imaginations shines through in her beautifully illustrated books.

Jeffers has been writing and illustrating picture books for over forty years. She received the Caldecott Honor for Three Jovial Huntsman and has been honored with many other awards, including the Golden Kite Award for Forest of Dreams. Susan says she realizes now that she has always done the same things. When Susan was little, her best moments were spent drawing pictures, reading stories with her parents, playing with friends and sitting by the Ramapo River dreaming of horses. This has not changed. Being a children’s book illustrator has combined all of these things.

I read it to my daughter, Annalise, yesterday and she, even at three years old, loved it; she keeps flipping through the pages, perhaps dreaming of her own pony. I’m excited to read the next pony installment, My Chincoteague Pony.

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Susan signed a copy and made a pony sketch on the inside front page especially for Annalise. We’ll have to be careful not to beat it up too much, but it will be a book that she and I will cherish for years. Click here to see a list of her other selections available on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Susan Jeffers with her now retired “pony”. 🙂

 

 

 

 

xo

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