Spurs & Stilettos celebrates the equestrian lifestyle.

Those who understand horses are not merely a hobby or a job, but a passion. A way of life.

Those who have sighed in exasperation at someone who has quipped, “It’s just a horse!”, knowing there is absolutely no way to make them understand it’s so much more.

Those who straddle the line between “equine” and “non-equine” worlds every day. Who have realized halfway through a business meeting that there is hay in their bra, and probably dewormer in their purse.

Those who have pulled up to the barn in stilettos, eager to slip on a pair of booths for a riding lesson. And take a deep, calming breath as soon as you get in the saddle.

Spurs & Stilettos is a place to share our favourite things and our favourite moments. To share the latest trends – from show ring attire to street style to veterinary breakthroughs. If it’s a part of your equestrian lifestyle, we want it to be a part of this site.

Our ask: help us learn and grow. Call us on our mistakes, and tell us when you disagree. Send us your stories, moments and favourite things.

This life we live is unique and crazy. We live the highest highs and the lowest lows. We shift seemlessly from the boardroom (or the classroom) to the barn and back again. We know our hair probably smells like dirt and sweat, but we don’t care.

This is a life worth celebrating. So let’s go.

{Gift Guide} Personally Preppy

Full disclosure: I have a full-on girl crush for Tate & Kir of Personally Preppy.

Personally Preppy Logo

How can you not love the story of Personally Preppy? Tate & Kir are sisters that grew up showing horses. They realized there was an opportunity to bring the height of preppy style – the monogram – to the equestrian world while running a pony camp to help pay for their horse habit. The campers’ gear kept getting mixed up. Thus, Personally Preppy was born.

Here’s a few of our favourite things. And as a bonus – Spurs & Stilettos readers get 10% off any order! Just use the code HolidayHootenanny at checkout.

Stirling Silver Nameplate Necklace ($50)

Personally Preppy Bar Necklace

I adore this necklace. Give it a personal touch with a monogram, a barn or horse’s name, a kid’s name – whatever you can fit in eight characters. For extra “awww” factor, check out the coordinates necklace that features the longitude-latitude location of somewhere special.

Helmet Monogram ($5.50)

Personally Preppy Helmet Monogram

Who says you can’t be safe and stylish at the same time? Get a custom monogram, or design a barn logo ($6.50) for a unique team gift.

Custom Polo Wraps ($50)

Personally Preppy Polo Wraps

Available in all sorts of colour combinations.

Tortoise Shell Bit Earrings ($40)

Personally Preppy Tortoise Shell Bit Earrings

These gorgeous simple studs are perfect for showing off your equestrian side every day.

Monogram Disk Necklace ($40)

Personally Preppy Disk Necklace

What can we say about the classic monogram necklace? It’s a classic for a reason.

Happy shopping!

{Gift Guide} The Dressage Boutique

Christel Havre is a passionate dressage rider, equestrian enthusiast, and owner of The Dressage Boutique & Equestrian Wear. She immigrated to Calgary in 1988 from Toten, Norway, where she spent her early childhood on a family farm and, like most young girls, fell in love with horses at first sight – sitting atop a Norwegian Fjord.

Over the past few months, Christel has set up her mobile shop at nearly all the key events in western Canada, including the Spruce Meadows Masters, the Pacific Regional Dressage Championships at Thunderbird Show Park, the Arthur Kottas-Heldenberg Dressage Symposium and the inaugural Royal West Event in Calgary. But, like many of us, her sights have turned to the holidays. We asked Christel for her top picks for equestrians this year, and she didn’t disappoint.

Spiced Equestrian Braid Bling ($26)

braid bling silver

Spiced Equestrian Braid Bling is the perfect stocking stuffer for a glittering equestrian (available at Spiced or The Dressage Boutique). A lot of work is put into perfecting those braids, why not show it off? If you’re not into sparkles, Spiced also freshwater pearl (also available at The Dressage Boutique) and metallic braid bling.

Indie Equestrian Sally Vest ($139)

EmilySallyNavy4Indie Equestrian is Christel’s own clothing line, designed and made in Calgary. The Sally Vest has a high collar and a split back made for riding in comfort and style. Contact Christel for sizes and ordering information.

My Barn Child Charms ($18)


My Barn Child charms make a great stocking stuffer. These can be adorned on any bride, boot or bracelet. There are many options available, check out My Barn Child or contact Christel for details on availability.

Spiced Equestrian “Skipper” Watch ($24)


Do you know an equestrian that is always running late for her class? Stick a Spiced Equestrian “Skipper” watch under the tree, then mandate that it has to be strapped to her wrist at all times. The fun watch comes in a variety of colours and is available online at The Dressage Boutique.

Euro-Star “Jodie” Jacket ($269)

Jodie_9488_4001_051 Kopie

The weather outside is frightful, but the Euro-Star “Jodie” Jacket will keep your favourite equestrian snug and warm. The jacket is made of water repellent fabric with down imitation filling and has removable hood with faux fur (back off, PETA). It’s available on The Dressage Boutique website.

{If you’re a Canadian looking to support local businesses this year (or an international resident looking for good quality Canadian gear!), note that Spiced Equestrian, My Barn Child and Indie Equestrian are all locally-owned Canadian companies.}

If you would like to book The Dressage Boutique’s mobile shop for your event, contact Christel at christel@dressageboutique.com or 403.703.3108. Keep up with all her news on Facebook and Instagram.

Barn Drama: The end of collegiate equestrian?

This week, the University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM) announced that 2015-16 would be the last year of competition for its women’s’ equestrian team, the Skyhawks. The move follows a similar announcement by Kansas State last month.

Why are equestrian teams getting the axe?

Put simply, not enough schools are sponsoring equestrian programs.

Here’s the deal. Equestrian was identified as an emerging sport following a move by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for schools to provide more opportunity for female athletes. According to NCAA rules, emerging sports must reach a sponsorship minimum of 40 schools within 10 years, or show steady progress towards that target.

Equestrian has been on the emerging list for 13 years; however, only 23 schools have participated in each of the last three years. There are about 1,000 student-athletes participating in the equestrian program. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics has recommended the NCAA remove equestrian from the list of emerging sports for women, with a legislative process to follow. If passed, the anticipated effective date is August 1, 2017.

The main challenges for the program seem to be difficulty in attracting Division III schools to sponsor the program, and overcoming perceptions of high cost of sponsorship. Growing Division III representation has been a key focus since 2008; however, schools already participate in a non-NCAA national championship, and many of those schools support equestrian as a co-ed sport on campus, rather than women’s only.

If the sport is removed from the program, member schools can still sponsor equestrian at the varsity level (it appears Baylor University is going down this path). And after a 12-month waiting period, equestrian could seek emerging status again through the Committee on Women’s Athletics process.

So far, it appears schools will honour scholarships through the eligible terms. But there’s still hope for the program. Supporters of the program are encouraged to write letters of support to influencers, including local schools and athletic associations. Breed and discipline associations, including AQHA, NRHA, APHA, the Appaloosa Horse Club and the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association are aligned and have offered support.

What do you think? Should the NCAA drop equestrian? Are there enough non-NCAA circuits for college athletes?

Live Inspired #2 : Ashley Gowanlock

Ashley Gowanlock is a Canadian Olympic athlete, world class equestrian, and our greatest source of inspiration this week.

Ashley, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age two, competes in Para-Equestrian Dressage. She represented Canada at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and the recent 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.

When she’s not riding, Ashley is a motivational speaker. She shares her passion for dressage, talks about the challenges she faces and, with her courage, inspires others to overcome obstacles in their own lives.

Follow Ashley on Facebook and Twitter.

To blanket, or not to blanket

Mother Nature hit Alberta, Canada in the face with a 2×4 of winter this week. The frigid temperature and accumulating snow has us wondering why we live here, and many of us are spending our days searching for properties in the Caribbean (I’ve heard those people don’t even recognize winter coats).

Horse owners may have another question on their minds: to blanket, or not to blanket?

This is one of those things about which horse owners tend to get very passionate. I’ve witnessed some incredibly “emotional” online debates on the subject. Personally, I choose to blanket. But while I was digging the winter out on Sunday, I wondered about the arguments for and against.

Let’s just say – there is no clear cut answer.

Horses’ normal winter coats are naturally insulating. The longer winter hair is biologically designed to trap a horse’s body heat against the skin by “fluffing up” or “lofting.” Using a blanket flattens the hair and eliminates this effect, which reduces the horse’s natural ability to insulate. Moisture and mud also reduce insulation, which is why it’s important to provide a dry shelter and/or windbreak and keep up with regular grooming.

If your horse is acclimatized to the weather, is in good health, and has access to shelter, you could likely forgo the blanket.

According to Carrie Hammer, North Dakota State University equine specialist, one of the most important factors in keeping horses’ warm is to nutrition. In this release, Hammer explains that feeding good-quality hay in sufficient amounts is extremely important. The digestive process produces heat, and high-fibre feeds releases the most heat. It’s important to provide hay because grazing is typically not an option.

[Check out the post for more details on what constitutes a ‘sufficient amount’] 

So, when should you blanket? Horse & Rider has a handy checklist, and Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences has also developed a list of criteria:

  • If there is no shelter available during turnout and the temperature drops below 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees Celsius)
  • If there is a chance the horse will become wet
  • If the horse has not been acclimated to the cold (i.e. has recently been relocated from a warmer climate)
  • If the horse is in poor health or has a low body condition score
  • If the horse has been body clipped

Be warned that blanketing requires a fair amount of maintenance. Different blanket weights are required for different temperatures, and you may find yourself switching blankets on a near daily basis to ensure the horse isn’t getting too warm or too cold. You also have to ensure the blanket(s) fit properly.

Ultimately, it’s up to the horse owner. You know what’s best for your horse. Preferably, I’d like to move to a place where winter blankets are unnecessary. But until then, I’m going to tell myself that blankets are part fashion accessory, and pray for spring.



Spur On

When you straddle the line between the equestrian world and the ‘real’ world, things get tricky. Namely, your outfits. Dashing from work to the barn to the grocery story to a movie theatre can require at least two clothing changes (and potentially a shower, or at least dry shampoo).

Kristin Holtzendorff knows the struggle all too well. She’s been riding as long as she’s been walking.

“I’m so passionate about this sport it transcends into all aspects of my life, even my fashion,” said Kristin. “I hated the fact I was always changing into more stylish clothes to run errands or be seen in public.”

Live & Spur Loose Necked Sweatshirt (buy it here)
Live & Spur Loose Necked Sweatshirt (buy it here)

Kristin grew up riding jumpers and was eventually lured into the reining and cutting pen. She kept seeing riders sporting skateboard and surf apparel in the warm-up pen. Of course, as a native of southern California, she appreciates good surf apparel. Kristin intended to study veterinary medicine, but couldn’t  shake the feeling that there was an opportunity to put a new twist on western fashion.

“I wanted to create a clothing line that would be versatile to wear with your boots and jeans at the stables and look good at the grocery store after,” said Kristin.

Cow Skull & Arrows Dolman (buy it here)
Cow Skull & Arrows Dolman (buy it here)

She began sketching ideas for a new line that would be uniquely western, but could just as easily be worn by someone who has never swung a leg over a horse.

Although she admits that she was out of her element, Spur Ridewear has grown exponentially since introducing the company in January 2013. They have their eye on getting into a national retailer, and they have strong support from stores across the U.S.  You can also purchase directly from their website.

Hooded Sweatshirt (buy it here)
Hooded Sweatshirt (buy it here)

In addition, Team Spur boasts an incredible line-up of athletes riding for the brand and the company supports PATH International, a therapeutic riding organization, and the Texas A&M Horsemanship School.

So the next time you find yourself dashing from yoga to the barn to the grocery store, then to the school to pick up the kids and – oh, can’t forget about grabbing a gift for your mother-in-law…consider how much sassier you’ll be when you’re rocking Spur Ridewear.

LiveWire for Spur Ridewear Tee (buy it here)
LiveWire for Spur Ridewear Tee (buy it here)
Aztec Gold Foil Dolman (buy it here)
Aztec Gold Foil Dolman (buy it here)
Feathered Flowy Dolman (buy it here) and Studded Cap (buy it here)
Feathered Flowy Dolman (buy it here) and Studded Cap (buy it here)
Spur On Racerback (buy it here
Spur On Racerback (buy it here
There's even items for the man in your life, be he horsey or non-horsey. Up in Smoke T-Shirt (buy it here)
There’s even items for the man in your life, be he horsey or otherwise. Up in Smoke T-Shirt (buy it here)
Hooded Sweatshirt (buy it here)
Hooded Sweatshirt (buy it here)

DITL: Jenna Salmon

Name: Jenna Salmon

Hometown: Lacombe County, AB

Barn name: Soderberg Quarter Horses (under the guidance of Lindsay Soderberg)

Discipline: All-around, which includes western pleasure, western horsemanship, showmanship, trail, hunter under saddle and hunt seat equitation

Horse: My Bowtie Affair – “Gina” || 2003 AQHA mare || Lopin Slow x Shes Got Drive

DITL - Jenna 3
Jenna & My Bowtie Affair (“Gina”). Photo by <ahref=”http: http://www.impulsephotographymb.com=”&#8221; “=””>Impulse Photography

For someone whose about to enter her senior year of high school, Jenna Salmon is ridiculously accomplished. She was the novice youth Congress champion in western pleasure at the 2011 All-American Quarter Horse Congress and she recently rode for Team Canada at the 2014 AQHA Youth World Cup, placing in the top 10 in showmanship.

Oh, and she’s only 16.

Jenna has been fortunate to ride horses for most of her life, and caught the “horse show bug” at an early age.

“I will always remember winning my very first walk-trot class at the Bentley Open Horse Show,” she said.

She started riding her father’s horses before getting her own at nine years old. Jenna started taking lessons and began showing at open shows around central Alberta. Her first quarter horse, Montys Macduff (“Mac”) was a retired turn-back horse for cutting. The western pleasure world was quite a departure for Mac.

Before long, Jenna started showing on the AQHA circuit in Alberta and had the opportunity to travel to larger circuits in the U.S.

Jenna and Gina make an undeniably competitive pair. In addition to being a Congress champion, Gina has earned a Superior in green trail and both youth and open western pleasure. Jenna hopes to finish her Superior in youth showmanship this year.

Photo by Impulse Photography
Photo by Impulse Photography

Q&A with Jenna

What are your goals for the next few years?

I want to go back to the Congress and make top 10 in at least one of my classes. I’d also like to go back to the AQHYA World Championship show and make the finals in one of my classes.

What’s your most memorable show pen moment?

Definitely winning the Congress championship in western pleasure under all four judges. I still get shivers thinking about that moment.

What’s your most embarrassing show pen moment?

I was entering my showmanship pattern at the Reichert Celebration show in Fort Worth, and my number was pinned upside down.

What show pen accomplishment are you most proud of?

One year, Gina was injured and put on stall rest just before the Canadian National Quarter Horse Show. A very generous friend who also rides with the Soderberg barn offered to let me show her horse, who excels in trail. I had never shown trail before and I only had a week to practice before the show. I went in just hoping not to mess up, ended up winning and coming home with my first trail buckle! It was such a great experience and it really taught me that everything happens for a reason.

Finish these sentences:

I never leave home without _____.

“A ball cap. I take my Impulse Photography hat to horse shows and my Arizona State University any other time. Whether on my head or in my truck, it’s way easier to slip it on than to actually putting effort into my hair.

I always _____ before I walk in the show pen.

“Back my horse off my spurs.”

When I’m not at the barn, you’ll find me _____.

“Playing ringette in the winter, or camping out west with my family in the summer.”

“My friends describe me as_____.” 

“The one who laughs at absolutely everything.”

My trainer always _____.

“Threatens to make me ride as many as laps as she decides without stirrups if I mess up my diagonal. Which I tend to do. A lot.”

Photo by Impulse Photography
Photo by Impulse Photography

Jenna’s favourite things

Sadle: I ride in a regular Blue Ribbon saddle but I am a huge fan of the black saddles.

Boots: My navy blue patent leather by LaGrange, they are the best!

Hat: My olive green felt cowboy hat, custom made by Shorty’s Caboy Hattery in Oklahoma City.

Jeans: Cruel Girl “Rachel” cut jeans

Show attire: Silver Lining Custom Western Show Apparel made a great jacket for me. It’s olive green with tons of crystals, buckstitch and fringe.

Non-riding item of clothing: Lululemon leggings. I always slip them on when I get home from a long day at work or the barn.

Beverage: Pure leaf Iced Tea was my favourite drink whenever I visited the U.S. Thankfully, now it’s available in Canada.

Food: The Singapore Cashew Noodle Bowl from Wok Box.

Shit non-horsey husbands say

I’m happily married to a non-horsey husband. While he has no desire to actually swing a leg over my horse, he is generally supportive of the reining habit. To a point.

Non-horsey spouses tend to walk through the show grounds with a dazed look on their face. I’m certain they’re evaluating every life decision they’ve ever made that would lead them to this point. They’re thinking back to that first date: “She said she was a horse person. I should’ve asked more questions. I should’ve done more research to find out what exactly that means.”

When you give them an opportunity to explain what’s happening in their own words – well, it’s quite captivating.


On advising other non-horsey husbands about the NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City: “Just don’t go. You spend days in the arena, watching brown horses lope in circles. The person you’re sleeping with probably isn’t riding any of those brown horses. But you can’t leave. You’re there, watching. You don’t know what time it is. Could be noon. Could be 2 a.m. But you can’t. Stop. Watching.”

On dining options at the NRHA Futurity: “Oh, you don’t get to eat anything that isn’t ordered out of a clown’s mouth.”

On why I can’t go to the High Roller Reining Classic in Las Vegas: “We can go to Vegas, walk into the casino and literally set our money on fire. And it would still probably be cheaper than you taking your horse on another vacation.”

On tack stalls: “When you go to a show, you need to take all of your worldly possessions. Everything. Then you need to rent your possessions an area of their own, which you are then compelled to decorate. Once that’s done, you have to sit in front of it. For hours. You can’t leave, unless it’s to go watch someone you vaguely know lope a brown horse in circles. Then you go back to keep guard at your stall.”

On seeing your horses’ chiropractic / massage bills:  “I could get a happy ending for half of what we’re spending on the horse.”

On win pictures: “You know how after a hockey team wins a championship, the whole team takes a photo together? That’s the idea behind the win picture. Except horse people don’t care if someone is part of the “team” or not – you’re in the picture. They’ll grab strangers off the street , as long as they get as many people and dogs in the photo as possible.”

On horse-related bills in general: “Sometimes I sit here, and I start to add up how much you’re spending on this every month. Then I get physically anxious, and have to make a martini. And THAT is why I’m drunk on the couch at 3 p.m.”

COTP - Horse marriage vows

DITL: Allegra Hohm

Name: Allegra Hohm

Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Barn name: Allegra Hohm Dressage

Discipline: Dressage

Profession: Dressage professional & coach; currently pursuing MSc. in Mining Engineering from the University of Alberta


  • Rowan // 2003 Swedish Warmblood gelding // Rotspon x Come Back II
  • Guadalupano – “Pete” // 2007 ANCCE registered Pura Raza Espanola (PRE) gelding

Allegra Hohm graduated with distinction with a bachelor’s degree in mining and mineral engineering from the University of Alberta. And she was most of the way through her master’s degree when she realized she may be cut out for something different.

“I started to teach [dressage] and realized that I much prefer working with horses and riders over sitting in an office staring at a computer,” she explains.

Allegra has set her sights on representing Canada at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and is currently prepping for a trip to Normandy for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Allegra at the 2014 Calgary CDI3* (photo by New Concept Films)
Allegra at the 2014 Calgary CDI3* (photo by New Concept Films)

“I’m very excited to watch the best riders in the world and network in preparation for the 2015 Pan American Games,” she says. “It has always been a dream of mine to represent Canada at an international championship. I’m very lucky to be riding the right horse and to be in a position where I can travel to train and compete.”

She’s come a long way from her early days at the Whitemud Equine Learning Centre. Her first memory on a horse was astride Pax, a local legend for riders of her vintage.

“He was the sweetest old horse any little girl could ask for,” she remembers.

Allegra graduated to Bullwinkle, a “mostly Quarter Horse” retired ranch gelding. At 13, he had never seen an English saddle, let alone a jump. But 10-year-old Allegra was persistent and he eventually figured out not to crash through the jumps.

“[Bullwinkle] taught me the basics of equitation and dressage,” she said. “It was the beginning of my true passion for training and teaching. And although, at the time, my training left much to be desired, he remained a lovely riding horse for anyone and everyone that who wanted to ride.”

Today, Allegra’s barn has a bit more horsepower.

Allegra with Rowan &  Guadalupano (photo by New Concept Films)
Allegra with Rowan & Guadalupano (photo by New Concept Films)

“Rowan is a 2003 Swedish Warmblood gelding that was bred and born in Sherwood Park, Alberta,” she said. “He’s the first horse I’ve trained from scratch up to FEI levels.”

Rowan has had many competition successes in western Canada, including winning the 2012 Calgary CDI2* FEI Prix St Georges, the 2013 Thunderbird Freestyle High Point (FEI Intermediate I), the 2013 Calgary CDI2* FEI PSG, the I1 and I1 Freestyle, and the 2014 Calgary CDI3* FEI Intermediate A and B.

Rowan is currently moving up to the Grand Prix. Allegra plans to compete at the FEI U25 (Youth Grand Prix) at Anderson Ranch in September.

Her second mount, Guadalupano or “Pete”, wasn’t part of the plan. He was purchased in 2012 as a green broke five year old with another rider in mind.

“We originally purchased Pete for my mum,” she explains. “About this time last year, I got really excited about his talent for the collected work and his huge ability to sit and perform the FEI movements.”

Allegra decided to make the push to develop Pete for the FEI Prix St Georges and declare for the 2015 Pan American Games.

“In one year he has gone from second level to [Prix St Georges] and is excelling with the work load,” she said. “He is a tremendous athlete and finds the work very easy.”

Allegra plans to attend the CA/ADA PAG Declaration Qualifier competition with him in September at Anderson Ranch in Calgary, Alberta.

You can keep track of Allegra’s training progress and travels to Normandy on her blog, allegrahohm.blogspot.ca.

Allegra at the 2014 Calgary CDI3* (photo by New Concept Films)
Allegra at the 2014 Calgary CDI3* (photo by New Concept Films)

Q&A with Allegra

Looking back, what’s the one thing you wished you knew starting out?

Not to worry so much about the future. You need to look at every opportunity as exciting. Now I know that every connection you make can turn into an open door down the road.

What is your best tip for beginner riders?

To ride with balance, and feel and listen to your horse. When a horse does not respond to you it is because they don’t understand, or can’t comply to your request due to imbalance or unpreparedness.

If you could ride any horse, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

It’s unfair to limit myself to just one! Off the top of my head, I have to start with all the horses I grew up watching: Bonfire, Gigolo, Rembrandt. Of course, the world’s best horse, Totalis. And I want to add all my favourites who I’ve watched grow up from youngsters: Undercover, Damon Hill and Desperados.

I can’t forget Le Noir, who is owned by Uta Graf. I think she’s one of the kindest and most tactful trainers. Can I add Fuego, Dancer, Desperardo and Genciano? I am sure I could add more. I believe the more horses I could ride, the better rider I can become!

What are you most looking forward to on your trip to Normandy? Do you have any predictions?
The biggest excitement will be to see Germany back on top. I am so excited to see the world’s top horses compete and what the order will be. Of course, Totilas will win! But the top five will be very interesting as so many of the horses are exemplary and are under very experienced riders.

I am also curious to see how the U.S. will do now that there are two top 15 contenders on the team. It is unfortunate there is not more gusto behind Canadian dressage, as it would be amazing to attend WEG knowing Canada had a podium chance!

My predictions for top 5 countries: 1. Germany; 2. Netherlands; 3. Great Britain; 4./5. USA/Spain

What would it mean to you to represent Canada at the 2015 Pan American Games? Or any world stage?
For me, it would be a great accomplishment to represent Canada on a Canadian bred and trained horse. I think Canada needs to see and appreciate the talent we have within our country, and to recognize that it needs to be developed. I am really looking forward to taking a horse I have trained who is bred in Canada and competing him on the international stage – as I plan to do with many, many more horses. The breeders in Canada are really producing fantastic international quality horses!

What’s your most memorable competition experience?

The first time I rode against ‘big time riders’ at Thunderbird. I placed fifth in a large class, with mistakes in the test. Then continuing on to place second in a very close class against the top Canadian riders on the West Coast. It was a great experience to have that kind of competition.

What’s your most embarrassing competition moment?

My first and only “0” in a test in front of FEI “O” judge Axel Steiner. I never made the mistake not to fix a mistake ever again!

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Developing my own horses from young horses to FEI levels and seeing their results, helping them to grow and learn new things every day and then to be successful in competition.

Allegra at the 2014 Calgary CDI3* (photo by New Concept Films)
Allegra at the 2014 Calgary CDI3* (photo by New Concept Films)

Finish these sentences:

I never leave the house without _______.
“A plan!”

I always _______ before I walk in the ring.
“Take a deep breath and remind myself which way to track.”

When I’m not at the barn, you’ll find me _______.
“Probably at another barn!”

Allegra’s favourite things

Saddle: I currently ride in a Loxley LX by Bliss of London Saddlery. However, these excellent saddles would have no value without the help of an amazing saddle fitter. Donna at Precision Saddle Fitting works tirelessly to keep our horses happy and working well.

Boots: My beautiful navy patent leather competition boots are made custom by Der Dau New York. I also like the comfort and affordable style of my schooling boots from Rectiligne (available through Christel at the Dressage Boutique).

Helmet: I ride mainly in Casco helmets – they combine the best fit with amazing comfort and breathability, and are so stylish at a nice price point. I also like the protection offered from KEP Italia helmets.

Breeches: Whatever fits! I will always love the quality and fit of EuroStar (also at the Dressage Boutique) however there are companies like BR coming out with stylish breeches for a lower cost.

Competition attire: I ride in an affordable and stylish Horseware show coat (available at Horse & Rider in Sherwood Park) and my tail coat is made by Anky. I will never get rid of my side zip Arista breeches to go with my tails!

Non-riding related item of clothing: A hair tie!

Beverage: Water. Nothing hydrates better. My students know my trusty beat-up pink water bottle that accompanies me everywhere! And coffee – lots of coffee!

Food: Fresh fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, local humane meat and the occasional chocolate. Eat to fuel your body and your body will fuel your ambitions!

Confessions of an equestrian

Many of us live and breathe for horses. Unfortunately, we often need to venture out into the ‘real world.’ After all, we need to make money to fuel our addiction. And go to the grocery store. And spend time with non-horse people, if we deem it necessary to speak to them.

(Kidding. Love my non-horsey friends).

For the most part, I try to keep my worlds separate. Very few people in the ‘real world’ can comprehend what madness ensues in the horse world. Fewer still appreciate the aroma that comes with the territory.

Well, I have a confession. In fact, multiple.

My worlds often collide. Sometimes seamlessly; other times with near disastrous results. To ease my guilty consciousness, I present to you:

Confessions of an equestrian.

I am guilty … of taking sedatives, syringes and needles on public transit. A horse belonging to a close friend of mine broke its leg in a freak accident (he made a full recovery and today is competitive reining horse). I had stashed extra supplies in my purse for the trip to the vet clinic, just in case.

On Monday morning, I was on a train platform, digging for my transit pass. I felt watched; when I looked up, I realized everyone on the platform was staring at me in horror. I had removed the vet supplies from my purse and was holding them in plain sight.

Take note: non-horse people are not keen on being trapped in an enclosed area with someone who is carrying syringes, needles and a bottle of non-recognized medication.

I am guilty … of wearing spurs in Starbucks. And Tim Horton’s. And to the Vietnamese take-out place by my house. A few months ago, I was standing in line at Tim Horton’s. I stepped back to allow a child to pass in front of my and ended up burying my spurs into the shin of the person directly behind me. He clearly didn’t appreciate the steel inspiration, although I will admit: his back-up was quite snappy.

I am guilty … of finding hay or shavings in my hair and/or bra at the office. I once was in a meeting with fairly senior people. I kept feeling an itchy discomfort on my left side, on my rib cage. While stopped myself from obviously scratching (yay for personal restraint!), there were more than a few instances of awkward shifting in my chair. When the meeting adjourned, I dashed into the bathroom and found enough hay in my Victoria’s Secret bra to feed a Shetland pony.

I am guilty … of taking my horse trailer to a dinner party in downtown Calgary. As is sometimes the case, my horse and non-horse worlds clashed on the same evening. I needed to attend a dinner party to celebrate the birthday of a very close friend on the same evening I was to leave for a horse show. My plan: send my horse with a barn mate the day earlier and leave for the show after dinner. It was fairly clear the parking lot attendant didn’t see horse trailers very often. Particularly behind a truck being piloted by a small blond in a cocktail dress and stilettos.

And there you have it – my confessions. There have been others; there will be more. All I can do is ask for patience from my non-horse friends; use dry shampoo when dashing between events, and try to keep my vet supplies in my vet kit.

Oh, and make sure I have a better handle on where my spurs are.

Does anyone else have any equestrian confessions? Share them in the comments! Also, feature photo is courtesy of  equestrianproblemss.tumblr.com.