My name is Kelly, and I author the blog Hunky Hanoverian (www.hunkyhanoverian.com). I’m an adult amateur who is living out my dream of competing my hunky guy in the hunter ring. Rio is still new to all things showing, and I didn’t grow up in the h/j world, so this recipe inevitably leads to the occasional ride on the #strugglebus. Thankfully, I have an amazing team behind me at Bay Yard Farms (http://www.bayyard.com/) which is located just outside of Dallas, Texas. I also look to several key riding essentials that help this ammy successfully navigate all things hunter/jumper!
The Saddle: Voltaire Design Palm Beach
“Vanessa” as I have lovingly dubbed her, is my pride and joy. I never in a million years thought I would ever have to opportunity to own a custom made French saddle for me and my horse, but sometimes the stars align (or maybe I had the right underground crime mob connections- you decide!) and Vanessa came into my life in February of this year. Saddles are such a personal choice, and Vanessa fits the bill perfectly for Rio and I. He loves the wide channel that gives his spine lots of freedom, not to mention the custom paneling that fits his back perfectly. For me, I adore the half deep seat with perfect balance that makes sitting the trot a breeze, and the close feeling of the horse beneath me. The super chic styling doesn’t hurt either!
The Bit: Herm Sprenger Duo D Ring
Rio tends to have a bit of a fussy mouth, so finding the right bit was a bit of a challenge. He doesn’t like anything too thick, goodness forbid it is too heavy, and you can forget about any type of port because that’s just WAY too much and he’ll drop you like a hot potato at the first sign of rein pressure. After trying numerous options, the HS Duo ended up being the glass slipper for him. I think he really appreciates the lightness of it, and the overall softness. Don’t get me wrong, he can still gape his mouth with the best of them when nervous or tense, but the HS Duo bit is an absolute essential item in our riding habit.
Sun Protection: Equivisor & Kastel Denmark
Riding in Texas summers means that I have to make sun protection an absolute priority. I am light haired and fair skinned, and already had cancerous skin lesions removed back in my early 20’s. I do my best to stay protected, but I also cannot stand sweating sunscreen into my eyes when it’s 100+ degrees. My solution is to stay as covered as possible, which is super easy with Kastel sunshirts and my matchy-matchy brown Equivisor. I have tried many sunshirts, but in my experience Kastel tops them all. The fabric is crazy soft, cool, and lightweight, and the cut of the shirts fits me amazing. The sleeves are actually long! I’m looking at you fellow tall riders. The Equivisor is also the perfection sun-shielding compliment to my Sammy. It stays on snug even in windy weather, and completely shields my face and eyes from even the harshest summer rays.
Hydration: La Croix
I know, I know. I’m basic. I can accept that. And like any basic betch, I am always spotted with a La Croix in hand. I did mention that I ride through fierce Texas summers right? Plain water is just fine and dandy, but La Croix is my go-to choice to stay hydrated during all equestrian-related activities. The bubbles, the light carbonation, crisp flavors that aren’t dripping with sugar- what’s not to like? Although I am a fan of many of the flavors, the Pina Fraise Curate flavor tops the charts for me. With hints of pineapple and strawberry, I find that my #1 drink of choice also goes well with a smidgen of vodka after those particularly awful hunter rounds where you had the worst chip of your life right in front of the judge. You know I’m not wrong.
Base of Support: DeNiro Boots
So not only do I need a custom saddle with crazy long flaps, I can also only wear custom boots. Curse you long legs! Seriously, if anyone knows where you can find off-the-rack boots in a size 9.5, 54 cms tall, and 35.5 cms in the calf, let me know, because I am 99.9% positive they do not exist. Thankfully, I have found some stunning boots that work great for me, and they don’t totally break the bank like other brands. I have 2 pairs of DeNiro’s (black for showing and brown for schooling) and I couldn’t possibly love them more. I baby the absolute crap out of them, since it’s not like I can run to the tack store for a replacement if they break. Thankfully for me, these boots hold up beautifully, and are still in marvelous condition after 2 years. Fingers crossed for many more good years of use, because I absolutely adore these boots.
Huge thank you to Molly for inviting me to contribute to such a fun project! I can’t wait to see what other fellow riders include in their essential riding habit! Interested in following my riding journey and reading about all things hunter/jumper? Check out the Hunky Hanoverian blog at www.hunkyhanoverian.com and follow me on Instagram (@hunky_hanoverian). Look forward to hearing from you!