I’m a newspaper editor at Eugene Weekly, an alt news weekly, and three-day eventer in Oregon with a little sassy Irish sport horse mare named Queen of Cairo, whom I blog about for the Chronicle of the Horse.
Cairo is 15’1” hands worth of big-jumping, cross-country loving, dressage-hating hotness, and I adore her. We have been competing at prelim — higher than I had ever intended to go cross-country, but Cairo took me there. She’s my heart horse and I pour my love and money into her. I live in an old travel trailer to keep rent down (OK, it’s an old Airstream so it’s pretty cool) and teach writing classes and freelance write in addition to my newspaper job to afford my passion. Some people spend money on tropical vacations. I prefer my pretty pony money pit!
Since I spend all my money on my horses, and newspapers aren’t a big money industry, I’m budget minded. Pretty much everything nice I own is on sale or used, and pretty much everything nice I own is horse oriented! I’m the queen of the sale and stalking Tack of the Day and Ebay.
I’m also a helmet freak, so you won’t see me on a horse without one. My go-to is the Charles Owen JR8, which looks fairly fancy but you can find on sale for $140-$160. A friend recently pointed out to me that you can make it “fancy” by adding a narrow headband in the color of your choice and wrap it around the helmet above the brim for cross country color.
My newest show splurge is Chubby Cov stock ties. I have finally reached a point where I am capable of tying my stock tie before I ride without dissolving into frustrated tears. I’ve graduated past the pre-tied Velcro and now have an old-fashioned tie-it-yourself model with light blue and silver stars scattered on a white background to go with my light blue coat for show jumping and another with scatted silvery and grey polka dots for dressage. They are both old fashioned and funky fun.
Good luck socks! I’m absolutely positive that my blue socks with the pink flying pigs on them are the secret to riding success. I love funky weird socks (hidden beneath my boots) and I theme them to whatever phase I’m riding that day. Tapatio hot sauce for show jumping, a unicorn shooting a rainbow out of its butt for dressage. The most common brand I get is Sock it to Me. It’s ironic since I really am not a shoe person — I wear riding boots and clogs and that’s it — but I love fun socks.
My Voltaire Lexington monoflap saddle makes all the difference in my jumping. I kept feeling left behind the motion in my last saddle that I’d owned and ridden in for a decade that wasn’t quite right for Cairo. Then I got super lucky when we discovered a friend’s Voltaire saddle fit my little mare perfectly so I bought it used. The importance of the right saddle hit home for me when I was riding in a clinic some years ago and watching a kid in it just have a terrible ride. The clinician pulled the kid off, found a different saddle for her to use that had better balance and support, and suddenly she could jump. Your saddle has to fit both you and your horse, and that doesn’t have to be expensive.
And since it really is all about Cairo, the right bridle makes life better for everyone. Cairo goes in a Micklem bridle. She’s a sensitive New Age girl and a little goes a long way. There are fancier ergonomic bridles out there these days, but the Micklem stopped Cairo’s head tossing for about $150. And despite her hotness, she’s a delicate flower and does best with minimal pressure, which the Micklem is all about.