Why Do You Show?

Being honest – why do you show? What is your own personal reason for showing up at a horse show or competition?

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The horse industry has been weighing heavy on my mind after seeing, hearing, and experiencing a few separate incidents this last year to the point that I need a break and I’ve decided to stop judging as a result.  

 “For the most part, horse people are great one on one, but get them together and they’re like a bunch of piranhas. “

This comment was made to me by a husband that’s not into horses, but is extremely supportive of his horse wife. The sad part is that there’s a ton of truth to that observation, and I’ve seen it in action.   

Earlier this year, I watched an advanced vet student judge an open horse show. Even though he knew more about soundness than most horse owners and was very familiar with all the different disciplines, he spent several late nights studying rule books of breed associations to prepare. He did a fabulous job judging the entire night, placing emphasis on quality and consistency of movement, willingness of the horses, softness, and good equitation. He was a good judge.

At the end of the night, he was cornered by a local gaited trainer and his entourage. They were extremely disrespectful, even cussing him at one point and telling him he didn’t know what he was doing. Keep in mind, this was an open show – this wasn’t the national championships.

Another fellow judge I know who is extremely fair and has tons of experience in gaited and non-gaited had the same type of experience at a local saddle club this year. A few years back, I had the same type of experience at the same venue and that’s when I vowed not to go back.

This past summer, I didn’t place a gaited rider in a Go As You Please bareback class because his horse was off in the hind end. I wasn’t the only one that saw it – two others saw it as well. As a rider, I know you can’t always feel a hind end gait deficiency, especially when a horse is smooth. Trying to be helpful I told the rider his horse seemed sore in the hind end and wasn’t moving equally in both directions. This grown man got mad and told me that when it came to gaited horses I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

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Over the years of judging, and years ago in putting on horse shows I’ve seen that sadly, this kind of behavior is not unusual.

I’ve seen congress champions haul to a small horse show and then complain about the ground for pleasure classes when they get there. I’ve seen barrel racers come to a small show with limited resources and equipment complain about the ground for barrels when it’s the exact type of ground that they started racing on in the first place. If these experienced riders are the ones the new riders are looking up to, what kind of example are they setting?

These riders forget we’re lucky to have open shows. If we didn’t have these small shows, the only place to get any experience would be the bigger shows which costs a minimum of a $100 to just step in the ring once by the time you pay an entry fee, office fee, etc.

People that put on open shows and other small events don’t make any money. They’re fortunate to just break even, and sometimes don’t by the time they pay $300-$700 for an arena, pay $3-$7 for every ribbon, and then pay for a judge, secretary, announcer, and insurance. Putting on a horse show is a labor of love but yet it’s not uncommon for riders to gripe and complain about the limited resources.

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Photo by Laila Klinsmann on Pexels.com

It’s the same thing with judging. When a judge steps into the ring, especially at a small or open level, they want to help and share what they see and what they’ve learned. They’re there to help a rider become a better horseman and become a competitor in their event. While the pay might vary per show, judges spend hours on their feet, a lot of times in hot temperatures and high humidity in long sleeves, giving every bit of their attention for hours on end. By the end of the show, they’re exhausted mentally and physically.

I was taught to always have good horsemanship and never disrespect a judge. I also didn’t show for the judge – I showed to get the experience for me and my horse. It wasn’t about the judge – it was about me becoming a better horseman regardless of the placement. If I had a better ride than I thought I was going to, or my horse improved in some small way, I was good! After all, in the big scheme of life, it was just a horse show. It wasn’t life or death, or work for that matter.

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If the ground wasn’t good, I didn’t fuzz up and throw a fit or pack up and go home. I rode anyway and safety-ed up and went a lot easier. As the old saying goes, bad ground makes for great riders. It makes you learn how to keep your horse up and pay close attention to how you’re riding and your horse is responding.

After the house is finished, I fully plan on running barrels and doing some ranch events. I might even pull on a pair of breeches and attempt some schooling event stuff with my barrel horses – I just love trying a little bit of everything and seeing what they can do and having fun with it – that’s my reason for showing and competing.

I always told the nervous competitors I was judging, “Smile. They can’t kill you and eat you. It’s just a horse show.” Even if it is the nationals, it’s just a horse show – it’s not life or death. Life is short, and we need to be thankful to just have a horse, let alone throw a leg over one – there’s a ton of kids and adults out there willing to give anything to be in our shoes, and yet as blessed folks they gripe and complain about a judge call, the ground isn’t good enough, or that our horse or tack isn’t good enough.

We need an attitude adjustment in the horse industry so that the new folks coming into the industry see it. We lead by example. We need to be thankful, and appreciative and helpful. We need to have the right reasons to show and we need to have the right attitude before we step into the ring. While we’re at it – we need to hug the show management’s neck because without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.

Why do you show? Who do know that is under-appreciated in the show world? Have you told them “Thank you”?

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Dressing For Show Season

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Show season is almost here! Even if you’ve not kept up with your New Year’s resolution to feel better in your show clothes, there’s still some things you can do to look your best and boost your confidence. The key is knowing how to work with your particular build, and wearing the right foundation.

Undergarments are the absolute more important piece of clothing you can wear as a competitor in any event. They can make or break your presentation in the show ring whether you’re showing in showmanship or western pleasure. They can also help you keep your focus if you’re riding in a performance events – if everything stays in place you can concentrate on riding.

Wearing a bra with sufficient support is critical when you’re riding. While some people think this only applies to women who wear a larger cup size, nothing could be further from the truth. The right bra not only keeps your breasts from moving too much, it also keeps other areas such as your chest and sides from moving as well.

Unless you’re extremely thin, it’s likely that even a high impact sports bra by itself will still not be sufficient for riding. One option you can choose is pairing a regular sports bra with a lycra sports tank that has a built in shelf bra. The tank offers additional support through your back, sides and stomach and can be worn as a shirt during hotter weather when you’re not actually showing.

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Ultimate Sports Bra from Shefit – available from Shefit.com

The No Bounce Bra, and the Enell Bra are two popular options available for riders. Shefit also carries a bra that guarantees no bounce and an absolute customizable fit. Sara Marie, the founder of Shefit Apparel is not only a high impact fitness expert, but she grew up in a barrel racing family and knows first hand what it takes to get around a can without bounce!

Sundial Show Clothing offers several options for your show day. Their Intelliskin Second Fit line includes a sports bra, posture support pieces, and their Second Skin Tee.

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Second Skin Tee from Sundial Show Clothing

If you’re showing in In-Hand classes such as Showmanship or Halter, you also want to consider the bottom half of your foundation. Traditional polyester blend show pants tend to accentuate every move – and unfortunately jiggle – that is amplified by trotting with your horse.

Spanx or a similar lycra support garment works very well under show pants and jeans to smooth out the hip areas and support the stomach. Spanx by Sara Blakely offers body suits in addition to regular support briefs.

One thing that can distract from a polished look is stomach and/or back rolls. Rolls are just a part of being human and unless you’re literal skin and bones, we all have them. The key to minimizing them however is having ample support in your clothing, and wearing the right size.

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Show clothes are supposed to be fitted so that the outline of the body can be seen and judged. However, fitted doesn’t mean tight!

For chaps, jeans, or pants make sure you have ample room through the waist. Keep in mind if your waist band is tight, it’ll be even tighter when you sit on your horse! A tight waist will cause your stomach to bunch up either below or above your belt line causing a roll that will bounce when you ride or walk. Giving yourself a little more room will allow your clothes to lay flatter and will give you a smoother profile that is not distracting.

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The same fit guideline goes for shirts and jackets, especially if they’re made out of thin smooth material such as lycra, polyester or knit. The materials that are commonly used for show ring attire tend to cling to your shape and settle in crevices. A tight fit will actually accentuate any rolls or bumps you may have. This is another reason to wear a lycra tank under your show clothes – it will keep your top layer from sticking to your skin and will let the shirt move freely causing it to lay much better against your body.

When choosing a shirt or jacket, make sure you have enough room that there isn’t any pressure on buttons or zippers, and that the material can lay flat.

For western events, a jacket that hits right below the belt line is a good option if you’re trying to smooth out your stomach area – just make sure you read your breed or discipline’s rule book to make sure they are allowed.

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Waiting on our turn to sort cows

In events where a certain attire is not required such as play days, open barrel shows, etc you’ll want to follow these same basic rules. If you wear an un-tucked shirt, make sure it’s fitted through your midsection as any excess can easily get caught on the saddle horn. If you’re competing in hot weather and opt to wear a tank top, make absolutely certain you wear a substantial sports bra underneath and that the tank top is a sports tank with lots of additional support as well. Traditional bras and knit tank tops do not provide adequate support or coverage for riding. Not only that, regular bras can easily get hung on the saddle horn even if you don’t wear a large size cup. I’m sure I’m not the only gal that’s gotten her bra stuck on the saddle horn coming off a barrel pattern, or seen a pair of boobs pop up and out over a regular tank top at a race!

Shirt patterns and color placement can make a difference in overall appearance in the show ring. Wearing darker solid colors will make a rider look thinner and are classic but solid colors will also accentuate your movements as a rider or handler. You can use patterns to help draw the judge’s eye away from your weak areas of riding, or to help balance out your overall presentation. Vertical stripes can help you appear taller and thinner, patterns at the shoulder can make your shoulders appear wider. Keep in mind that anywhere there are patterns or embellishments, that’s where a judge’s eye will naturally be focused.

In regards to drawing attention in the show ring by what you’re wearing, it really comes down to your skill level as a rider and the size of the show. Clothing that draws a lot of attention will keep the judge’s eye on you and they’ll notice everything about your ride – good and bad. If you’re a skilled rider at the top of your sport, that’s not a bad thing. However, if you’re a rider that’s still working on your horsemanship skills, or you have a horse that’s still learning going with a classic outfit might be a better choice as it doesn’t draw as much constant attention.

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Fireman & me waiting to run at the Ft. Smith Futurity

With the proper preparation – and foundation – you can go out and enjoy your show season and feel more confident no matter what your size.

What are you plans for your show season this year? What are some of your favorite clothes for competing with your horse?

Sundial Show Clothing

This time I talk with Kaitlin Lorman who owns Sundial Show Clothing

Tell us how the company got started, how long have you been in business?


My name is Kaitlin Lorman and my company Sundial Show Clothing is based out of Cleveland, Ohio. I had an apprenticeship at another clothing company for several years after graduating from the Equine program at Lake Erie College. Going in, I did not realized how badly I wanted to be creative and really bring my style to the forefront. I am all about technical, chic, and fabulous styles that are flattering for every figure and can fit a variety of different riders flawlessly… and allowing for versatility for different events.

What is your mission statement or goal, and philosophy behind the company?

Help other talented and beautiful cowgirls feel fabulous while creating a “team” that can collaborate and lift each other up positively through a network of support, fun, and good vibes! 

What types of clothing do you carry?

Limited Edition Show Shirts

Sundial’s Second Skin Compression Wear (like Spanx)

Statement Swarovski Jewelry (Mostly Earrings)

“Squad Gear” Casual Wear

Accessories (like Belt Buckles & Hats)

Sundial is co-branded with Intelliskin to provide “Second Skin” liner garments that reduce fatigue and enhance posture to prevent injuries and provide peak performance to our athletes.

What are some of your favorite pieces, and why?

I love my show shirts–all of them. I have personally designed and crafted a figure flattering fit that I am so proud of. I have been told many times from my girls that they never want to ride without their Sundial!

Do you plus size clothes run smaller or larger?

They run true to size. The shirts are made from Spandex… they allow for give in all the right places! There is a wide range of stretch and allow for a tailored fit even if you fluctuate between sizes like I do!!

What new items are you looking at carrying?

Painted Feathers
Matching Equine Accessories

What stores carry your brand? 

We are mostly an independent brand that keeps operations close to home. We can be found with multiple traveling vendors. You can find up to date information through our social media!

ADDITIONAL INFO

I encourage people to contact me, the deisgner, directly with any questions about fit, etc! kaitlin@sundialshowclothing.com

I Support Rodeo

This week’s post is actually a commentary I made on the Cowgirls With Curves facebook page last week…

After a comment about abuse on a rodeo meme pic, I feel like I need to make a statement.

I try not to post political crap on this page because that’s not what it’s about. This is a place for we as horse folks of all disciplines to come together and be encouraged and get a laugh every now and then, but I will take a stand on this.

I support rodeo and I will always support rodeo. I personally have only barrel raced at NBHA jackpots and a couple of futurities, but I’ve never ran rodeo. It’s always been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid in the 70’s watching the Hesston commercials for the NFR, and one day I will rodeo, good Lord willing. I have lots of friends that rodeo, have been involved with rodeo ministry in years past, and the love of my life is an old bull rider. So my ties with rodeo come from the heart.

Some folks might assume I’m this way because they think I’m just a barrel racer or that’s all I do. They are sadly mistaken. Yes, I love to barrel race but that’s not all I do or all I am. I’ve shown hunter, trail, western pleasure, judged hunter/jumpers and gaited horses, sorted cows, and even trained saddleseat, western pleasure and halter Arabs for a few years in my twenties. I’ve taken a stretch of lessons for eventing, and even had an event prospect off the race track. I’ve gone to ranch clinics and roped calves for doctoring, and I’ve broke more colts than I can count, a few older horses to boot. So I’ve got a pretty well rounded perspective when it comes to horsemanship and what is and isn’t abuse.

I don’t support true abuse in any event or discipline – rodeo or otherwise. But when someone calls out rodeo and makes a blanket statement that it’s abusive but other disciplines get a pass, I have to stand up. There’s abuse that happens in ALL disciplines. Look at Rolkur in Dressage, or riding horses with broken legs in the Kings Cup Endurance Race, pushing horses past their ability in Eventing, or tying horses up for hours in Western Pleasure.

If putting a flank strap that’s as tight as a rear cinch would be on a ranch saddle or a packing set up, on a horse is considered abuse, then those horse riding/showing folks calling it abuse might want to be aware of the fact that there’s a whole other world out there that adamantly states even riding a horse is abuse because  horses had rather be out grazing and we’re making them carry us around. People say the mere act of trimming whiskers is abuse too, as well as using ANY type of bit. If that’s the definition of abuse, then a ton of us are abusing our horses!

As someone else pointed out in a comment on the post, the folks that call the mere act of riding abuse are out to ban all aspects of riding, and instead of bashing each other’s disciplines it’s important that we come together and support one another. 

Oh, and while I’m at it, they don’t break horses in rodeos and the bucking straps on bulls are not around their testicles. And as far as spurs, I’ve seen far more reining, western pleasure, and gaited horses with bloody sides than I ever have bucking horses.

In addition, if it weren’t for rodeo the bucking horses would be bound to a Mexico slaughter house because they like to buck and no one wants a horse they can’t stay on or that’s dangerous. I’d much rather a horse have two square meals a day, get vet care, and only have to work at most 16 SECONDS every weekend than to see them on a truck for 48 hours without food or water just to be cut up while they’re still alive at the end. Heck, my horses work a LOT harder than they do!

Maybe not all the stock contractors or competitors are perfect when it comes to dealing with bulls and horses (I say get some first hand ranching experience and dealing with irate stock without pens and then you can judge.) But then not every rider that rides a dressage pattern, jumps a cross country course, or rides a class down the rail is either. There are poor horsemanship and stockmanship examples in every facet of the horse world but they aren’t the example of what it’s about, and the exact same applies to rodeo.

Rodeo, the people involved, and all the things it stands for will always be near and dear to my heart. I love and appreciate all disciplines because in the end it’s about what a horse and a rider can do together.

Copyright F.J. Thomas

Planning For Your Show Day…

The farm didn’t get the business that was needed to keep it going so I put it back on the market for sale. So, it looks like there will be more changes in store for me this coming year. I like to think of it as Tiny House Living, horse style. Hey, if life gives you lemons you make the best dang lemon marguerita you can possibly make, right?

While change is never easy, I am looking forward to downsizing and having more time and money to focus on my own horses and compete more when things settle down. For years I’ve been a jack of all trades, going and doing so many things. I’d like to narrow my focus, be more selective about where and who I spend my time on, and just see where that leads. While selling the farm is the end of a dream in one sense, it’s freeing and the start of an ultimate dream in another. I’m looking forward to what the year will hold.

NBHA Barrel Race

NBHA Barrel Race

Since I’ve been thinking more about competing and the coming show season, I thought I’d share some tips for showing that I’ve learned first hand, sometimes the hard way, the last few years.

The first tip, and one that I think is probably the most important is in regards to food. Food has an impact on how you think, how you react, how well you focus and yet it’s one of the most under-rated elements of competition.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to help someone not be as nervous about showing and when food is mentioned they say, “Well, I don’t need to eat. I’m too nervous to eat.” People just don’t think it makes that much of a difference but it absolutely can mean the difference between a good run and a poor run. We plan our horse’s nutrition, especially if they’re in a high performance event. Why wouldn’t we do the same thing for ourselves?

Willie Bobby & I at the barrel race

Willie Bobby & I at the barrel race

The effects of food on the body can last longer than we realize. If you’re wanting to eat better for a show day, you’ll want to start at least a couple of days early. This will allow some extra time to get the bad food out of your system, and will allow your body to adjust to the better food.

I always eat turkey an hour to thirty minutes before I compete. The protein fuels my brain and muscles so I can think and react. Turkey is also a natural source of Tryptophan which has a calming effect on the body so it helps with nerves.

I also make sure I eat some source of protein every couple of hours the entire show day. This helps keep my sugar levels regulated so I can think clearly and not get nervous. If I’m the least bit nervous, my horse will feel it and will react, so the more clear my thinking and the calmer I am the better my horse will behave and perform.

Another thing that I do is load up on water a couple of days before a show. It’s easy to not drink enough during the show day. Dehydration can wreak havoc on your mind and your reaction time just like food. The more you load up on water the day before, the less likely you’ll be to get dehydrated if you’re not drinking as much as you should. A hydrated mind is a clear mind.

Because of the sugar levels in sports drinks, I try to drink mostly water. If I must have something besides water, I’ll drink Powerade Zero that has zero sugar. I’m not necessarily a big fan of the chemicals, but it does have some needed electrolytes. You can also carry lemon water, or some of the sugar-free drink flavorings. Just be sure to read the label to know what you’re ingesting.

Barrel racing in January

Barrel racing in January

Sleep is another thing that can really impact your performance in the saddle. Make sure you get at least seven to eight hours of shut-eye the night before. If you know you’re not going to be able to sleep because you’re thinking about showing too much, give yourself a couple of extra hours to allow for tossing and turning.

Another tip is to take some quiet time the day before and the day of your show. Take the time to just be still and think about what you need to do and what is important. Don’t let your head run wild with fear scenarios. Plan your day and your strategy, and remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Connect with your goals.

This year has a lot of uncertainty and changes, but the one thing I can do is control is my own mindset, and how I prepare for when it’s finally time to step in the ring and do what I love to do best. The better mindset I have and the better I set myself up, the better chances I’ll have at enjoying my show day.

When it comes to competing, what are some of your fears? What do you think you do to contribute to those fears? How can you change your routine to lessen your fears? What is your strategy for the coming show year?

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Junk In, Junk Out

We’ve all heard the sayings, “You are what you eat”, and “Junk in, junk out.”

 For most of my life, I’ve taken that saying with a grain of salt, pun intended. However, over the last few years I’m beginning to think there’s a lot more truth to those sayings than we realize.

 After a bout of unanswered questions about my health – that’s another blog post in itself – I started paying very close attention to how my body reacted to certain foods. Now, I’m not talking just gaining or losing weight. I’m talking about how food effects my breathing, my sinus levels, and even my mental status for the day.

After doing some experimentation, I learned that dairy and breads cause me to wheeze – that’s in addition to sinus and stomach issues. I also learned that cokes and sweets cause me to become depressed, and soy will send me into an emotional roller coaster during certain times of the month. In contrast, turkey and other meat cause me to focus and think more clearly.

The same thing could be said about our thought life. When we think negative things, the impact is negative.Those negative thoughts impact our happiness, our confidence, and ultimately our performance and whether or not we pursue dreams.

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Recently, I read a great article on thinking like an athlete. The article stated that the main reason athletes are successful is that they see themselves as just that – an athlete.

The article went on to say that when you see yourself as an athlete and get into that mindset, regardless of what your body is like, you start thinking differently in other areas of your life. You start taking training more seriously. What you eat and the amount of sleep you get become more important. Instead of those seeing those things as a means to lose weight, they suddenly become a way for you to train better and be a better athlete.

How many times have you been asked what you do with your horses or what discipline you ride? Probably too many times to count. Your answer has probably been, “I just run barrels” or “I just do a little western pleasure.” That’s the wrong answer!

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Today, you might not be running down the alley way at the NFR or doing a sliding stop at the finals at Congress. I get that you don’t want to blow yourself out of proportion, come across arrogant, or give the appearance that you’re competing at a level that you’re not – yet! However, if you keep thinking like you always have, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.

Think about it for a moment…

Do you spend any less money on your horse than a serious competitor? You feed the best feed, supplements and hay. You keep a routine shoeing schedule so your horse can perform well. You take your horse to the vet every time they need it. You make sure your horse is in a safe, happy environment and kept on a schedule.

Do you spend any less time on your horse than a serious competitor? I know a lot of girls that compete locally and not nationally that ride their horses every single day. I also know girls that ride every free minute they can in the midst of working full time to pay the feed bill and mortgage, working second and third jobs, and taking care of families. Is the fact that they don’t get to ride as much any less worthy?

There’s things that you’re probably already doing that aren’t that much different than someone rides and competes on a higher level. Don’t cut yourself short in your thinking!

If you think you’re “junk”, then junk is exactly what you’re going to reap.

What do you think Charmayne James or Congress champion Karen Evans Mundy thought of themselves when they were working up through the ranks? Did they think they were just a barrel racer or just a hunter rider? No! They thought of themselves as champions that just hadn’t gotten there yet. All they had to do was work a little harder and ride a little better – that’s all.

So my question to you is this… If you knew for a fact that you would be running down the alleyway at the NFR, or riding the rail at Congress in two years how would that change your thinking TODAY? Would it make you see yourself differently? Would you have a new purpose every time you rode or worked out?

If you’re like me, you’ve beat yourself up for far too long thinking you’re not good enough and you’re just a barrel racer, etc. That thinking hasn’t gotten either of us very far, has it?

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Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It’s time to do something different. It’s time to think different and see what results we get!

In the end, it really doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks. It only matters what you think about yourself.

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Breaking The Mold

TOAD RIDE

Welcome to Cowgirls With Curves!

So what is Cowgirls With Curves? It’s a blog that’s aimed at plus size riders that features tips, interviews, and eventually clothing & tack reviews.

There’s a few thing this blog isn’t about….

It’s not about giving up and making excuses for the size you are.

It’s not about telling you need to lose weight, go on a diet, or exercise.

It’s not about bashing women that aren’t plus size.

There’s a few things that this blog IS all about…

It’s about highlighting and encouraging real sized women that love horses and love to ride.

It’s about helping real size women love themselves at the size they are and helping them to become the best rider they can be.

It’s about breaking the molds and stereotypes of plus size riders everywhere.

Let’s face it. The horse world can be an incredibly cruel and judgemental place, especially if you compete. The pressure is real and almost every single plus size rider feels it on some level. If you’re not a certain size and riding at a certain level, even if you’re a good horseman there’s rarely any notability.

But the truth of the matter is that the average American woman wears plus size clothing. The average American woman also fills the majority of the Amateur classes at most horse shows and competitions. So why are they not recognized and appreciated? Why is the majority of the western clothing and tack industry still geared to smaller sized women?

Some of the largest modeling agencies in the world are starting to sign plus size models, which by the way immediately catapults them to super model status. Plus size bloggers are now some of the most popular fashion bloggers out there. Why can’t the horse industry follow suit? I think it’s time it did!

So sit back and enjoy the ride and take a tour of the site. By the way, if you’re a plus size rider that would like to do an interview I’m looking for YOU!

I’m also looking to reach out to clothing and tack companies that cater to plus size riders. You don’t have to be a big name like Wrangler or Cinch -you just have to recognize that some of us gals don’t fit the mold! If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, fill out the contact form and I’ll get back with you!

Check back with us next week — we’re going to be talking about exercises you can do to boost your confidence and balance in the saddle. These are exercises that I personally try to do on a regular basis to maintain and improve my riding.

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