Eight Great Rider Makeovers

These riders asked for a makeover, and our experts answered with a fresh new look for each. (A few of their horses got lucky, too!)
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These riders asked for a makeover, and our experts answered with a fresh new look for each. (A few of their horses got lucky, too!)

In the winter 2006 issue of Everything for Horse and Rider, in which we featured rider makeovers for the first time, we asked if you, our readers, wanted a makeover. The response from quite a few of you was "Yes!" After sifting through many emails, our editorial team selected several makeover subjects whose challenges were representative of issues many of our respondents faced. We got to work with experts from Dover Saddlery and Smith Brothers, who made the following riders--and some of their horses--very happy.

Moving Up to the "A" Circuit
Name: Katie Lazarski, 15, Bristol, Conn.

Katie before her makeover. |

Katie before her makeover. |

In real life: Sophomore on partial scholarship at Kingswood-Oxford private day school in West Hartford, Conn.

Horse connection: Riding since age 7, Katie first competed with her pony, Houdini. When she grew too tall (Katie is 5'9" in her socks!), she showed various horses in children's hunter at Connecticut Hunter Jumper Association and local "C" shows. About a year ago, her family purchased Duxbury ("Buddy"), a 10-year-old chestnut Hanoverian gelding. Though a nice horse with potential, Buddy required months of hard work with Katie and her trainer, Michele Goodrich of Well-a-Way Farm in Simsbury, Conn., to develop into a reliable and consistent 3-foot horse able to handle hunter classes and equitation courses like a pro. The payoff--Katie has been champion or reserve in children's hunter in her last four shows. With Duxbury she is ready to move up to the major 3-foot medals and "big eq" classes next year. Katie is on a mission--to work as hard as she possibly can to be successful as an equitation and hunter rider on the "A" circuit.

Challenge: Katie's basic hunter look is fine for the smaller fences, but looking up to the next level, she needs a more sophisticated and contemporary look. One thing she doesn't need, however, are boots. She already has great field boots that fit her like they're custom made and have the requisite back zippers like most of the "A" riders (a super tuned-in Christmas present from her parents).

Solution: On the top circuit, you want your riding ability and your horse's talent to stand out, not your apparel. For Katie, we've selected the Elite Signature Jacket (SRP $299) from Grand Prix in navy wool for its classic look and traditional styling with 3-button front, two pockets and side vents. For "bottoms," the Ariat Pro Circuit side-zip breeches (SRP $219.95) are a great choice. They have plenty of stretch for comfort over fences, side-zip slash pockets, a tailored waistband for a smooth, flattering look and best yet, they are machine washable. A show shirt provides a hint of color and pulls together the look. The Essex Classic CoolMax? Performance Collection Show Shirt (SRP $124.95) in light blue is a perfect complement to Katie's show jacket and will help her stay cool even on the hottest show days. Gloves add polish: Katie wears Pro-Comp Show Gloves from Heritage (SRP $29.95) with a comfortable fit with stretchable nylon flex panels across knuckles, ring and pinky fingers, an adjustable strap closure, and the "Rein Cut" design that removes the bulky seam and materials between fingers. (Yes, also machine washable.)

Katie, after, dressed for the

Katie, after, dressed for the

Tip from the Pros: Consider a fancy stitched show bridle and martingale to really show off Buddy's handsome head.

"What I love about Buddy is that he is calm and levelheaded; I always feel safe with him whether I'm riding or handling him, and I constantly get comments from vets and farriers about what a sweet horse he is," says Katie. "The next best thing is that he wins in the show ring, too!"

Show Mom
Name: Barbara Lazarski, 53, Bristol, Conn.

In real life: Resource Development Director at Youth United for Survival, a non-profit organization providing positive peer-support programming for youth at risk who have experienced abuse. Barbara and her husband, Bob, own and breed Ryman English Setter sporting dogs.

Barbara before her makeover. |

Barbara before her makeover. |

Horse connection: Barbara's horse interest evolved with her daughter, Katie, who began riding at age 7 (and is now age 15). Ever since, she has been Katie's chauffeur, moral support, nurse, groom--and, of course, horse-show mom! "My goal is to support my daughter in all of her riding goals, which consist right now of her moving up to the "A" circuit with her new horse, Duxbury, and her new 3-foot divisions," she says. "One day I hope to be at the finals of the ASPCA Maclay grooming for Katie and Duxbury."

Challenge: Because Barbara is at every show and at the barn whenever Katie is, she needs apparel and footwear that fit the bill. She's right there in the mud or ice or dust cleaning off boots, removing martingales for flat classes, braiding manes, carrying around brushes, hoof picks, fly spray, towels, whatever it takes. Barbara feels like "a drudge," especially at shows, because she opts for older clothes that don't matter if they get dirty or stained with hoof oil. She usually wears a jacket borrowed from her husband, an old pair of sneakers and a baseball cap. Barbara needs a new look that is functional, practical and presentable.

Solution: Our first priority was to outfit Barbara with comfortable footwear that can take abuse from wet and muddy conditions, protect her feet from a crushing hoof and be pain-free for the many trips back and forth to the trailer at shows. We chose Creekstone Women's FLUME Riding/Paddock Boots by Cavallo Horse and Rider (SRP $79.95) in black leather, which are washable, lightweight and have built-in gel pad in heel for comfort. To prepare Barbara for New England's changeable weather, we selected Irideon's Plus Size Wind Pro 3-Season Breeches (SRP $119.95) in black for snow, wind and mud resistance and a flattering look in and out of the saddle, and the Plus Size Supplex Thermal Turtleneck (SRP $54.95), also from Irideon, in ice blue, as a good layering top. Outback Trading Company's Oilskin Backpackable Parka (SRP $90) makes it easy to stay dry with its lightweight waterproof oilskin and a roll-up hood in the collar, plus it has zippered pockets for stowing all Barbara's sundries.

Barbara

Barbara

A show mom needs a carry tote made especially for equestrians to hold water, grooming aids, prize list, cell phone, etc., and Ariat's Carry All Bag (SRP $31.90) made of durable, water resistant fabric with exterior pockets, easy access and a roomy main compartment is an attractive and functional solution. The Heritage Stable Work Gloves (SRP $32.95) in black/natural will allow plenty of flexibility so Barbara can easily pick out a tail or tighten a girth, yet protect her working hands from blisters with a padded palm. A terry cloth thumb is perfect for wiping away all that perspiration.

Tip from the pros: Mom, come spring, you may want to look for a straw hat and a pair of fashionable sunglasses for some sun protection as you watch for hours on the rail. For fun, why not add a hatband with Duxbury's name?

Proud mom: "Katie has worked extremely hard with demanding school and riding schedules. She has made many sacrifices to be able to fulfill her dreams; I am so proud of her." Duxbury gets kudos, too: "Every time they are ready to go into the ring, I give Duxbury a piece a sugar and ask him to take care of my little girl, and he does."

"Riding and showing is demanding physically, mentally and emotionally. The sacrifices are big, the winter's cold, and the demands are great, however, I wouldn't change a thing for what riding has done for my daughter and for our relationship as mom and daughter," she says.

Shelly before her makeover. |

Shelly before her makeover. |

Adding Flash for Barrels
Name: Shelly Mix, 48, Annville, Pa.

In real life: Marketing manager, Primedia Equine Network (publisher of Everything for Horse and Rider). In off hours for the past eight years, Shelly and a partner have run Mix & Match Equine Referral, a service that finds new homes and careers for racehorses at Penn National Race Track.

Horse connection: Most of Shelly's life revolves around horses--work, sport, even love. She met her husband, Kenny, at a horse show, which he attended because he heard that "that's where to meet girls"! Married 14 years now, Shelly and Kenny, a former professional rider (jockey) and licensed racehorse trainer, have a small farm near Harrisburg. Rebel's Lofty Jet ("Reggie"), an AQHA gelding, became a member of their family in 2000. A very talented barrel racer, he's won numerous belt buckles, championships and rodeo series with Shelly since then.

Their most memorable accomplishment was in 2004. The pair was doing well in the state-wide Redeye Rodeo series when Shelly was diagnosed with breast cancer that August. Though the news was devastating, Shelly kept focused and with her surgeon's permission ran in the last rodeo of the season September 24, winning the buckle! Three days later she had surgery. Refusing to let cancer interfere with her competition, she went on to win reserve champion of the same series the following year. In August 2006, she and Reggie ran at a large National Barrel Horse Association show at the New York State Fair and placed third of 145 entries. Though he is 15, Reggie shows no signs of slowing down. Shelly's goal is to qualify and compete in barrels at the Bayer Select World Championship show for riders over 50 in Texas in 2008.

"Reggie helped me through some of the toughest times: standing quietly while I crawled on bareback to reassure myself that I could still ride (I couldn't lift a saddle); sniffing my bald head during my chemo rounds; helping me focus on normal, everyday things like hay, stalls and the well-being of another soul besides myself," Shelly says. "He has more heart and personality than any horse I've ever seen--he will stay in my life forever."

Challenge: Shelly needs a fresh look and color change for rodeos. It's all about "flash" when you're under the lights, and her look needs an update.

Shelly, after, with rodeo flare in purple. |

Shelly, after, with rodeo flare in purple. |

Solution: For this makeover, it's a combination of "bling" and "bright" for Shelly and protection for Reggie. Purple is the color of choice for this speedy team. Classic Equine? takes center stage when it comes to Reggie's leg wear. This teenager needs maximum shock-absorbing support and fetlock protection, provided by Classic Legacy Front and Hind Sport Boots in purple (SRP $70/$74) and Dy No-Turn? Bell Boots also in purple (SRP $25). The Classic Equine Boot/Accessory Tote (SRP $27) in purple is "really cool," exclaims Shelly, since she usually struggles with horse boots. An ESP? Wool Top Saddle Pad with a memory foam center will conform to Reggie's back while maintaining density and shock absorption and minimizing pressure points (SRP $137); from Classic Equine in cream with purple and black.

Shelly

Shelly

Shelly is wearing a Wrangler 20X shirt in purple (approx. SRP $39.99), Wrangler 20X Tulsa Low-rise in indigo (SRP $41.95) and Wrangler 20X Tulsa Low-rise stretch (light) (SRP $34.99). Dublin Easy-Care Synthetic Half Chaps in purple (SRP $32.50) add a dash of color to the leg area (and are machine washable). Her gloves are Heritage Tackified Pro Air in black (SRP $39.95) with "Tackified" Cabretta leather, increasing sensitivity control and grip of the reins. While waiting for her draw, Shelly will stay warm in a Mountain Horse? Rocky Ridge Winter Jacket in black/indigo (SRP $229.95), also perfect on frigid winter mornings when she's feeding and turning out before work.

Tip from the Pros: To finish this look, bring on the bling! Add a leather belt with colored Swarovski crystals to showcase your trophy buckle, and look for some fashionable rhinestone and concho spur straps for your bumper spurs. And for a real burst of bling, invest in a headstall and breast collar with crystals, conchos and hair on it.

Michelle before her makeover. |

Michelle before her makeover. |

Transitioning from Show to Trail
Name: Michelle M. Smith, 36, Annville, Pa.

In real life: Print production manager for Horse & Rider and EQUUS magazines (and Everything for Horse and Rider). Michelle's mare, Tia, was front and center at her wedding!

Horse connection: Michelle has been in the saddle since her mother started teaching her to ride at age three. She rode saddleseat, Western, showed, rode on trails and was a member of the Hoof and Horns 4-H Club. About nine years ago, a boarder in her mother's barn had a pregnant mare with a foal: Michelle fell in love at first sight. Michelle bought the filly as a weanling and a wonderful partnership was born.

Tia, a registered AQHA mare, Tees Brazen Lady, was going to be Michelle's trail horse until her mother suggested that with Tia's good looks and conformation, she might make a show horse. Tia and Michelle went on from there to compete successfully in Western events--showmanship, horsemanship, trail and Western pleasure--at AQHA-approved events and local/regional open breed shows. The pair has won several show-circuit championships and high-point awards and was named the Reserve Champion Novice Amateur All-Around at the 2006 AQHA Region 5 Experience. Michelle is on the board of the Pennsylvania Quarter Horse Association and is the Eastern Director for the Pennsylvania Amateur Quarter Horse Association. Tia is expecting her first foal next April so Michelle and Tia will be doing more trail riding than showing this year and next. (Tia will be Michelle's trail horse after all!)

"Tia and I have been through a lot together, and she's more than 'just a horse' to me," Michelle says. "She is my best friend, and I couldn't imagine life without her. In fact, when I got married a few years ago, I told my then-fianc? that the only way I'd agree to a wedding was if she were in it!"

Challenge: Michelle needs help transitioning from a polished show look to a functional and safe (yet fashionable) trail riding turnout. "When I was kid, my mom and I would go on weekend trail rides together and I remember it being a lot of fun spending time with my horse or pony. There were day-long rides through country lanes, pine forests and a big campfire after the day's riding was done. I'd like to share that with Tia."

Michelle and Tia bring style to the trail. |

Michelle and Tia bring style to the trail. |

Solution: Michelle's show turnouts are impeccable. It's clear she sets a high standard for herself and her horse. Great choices abound for trail riders, with looks ranging from rugged to polished. For Michelle and Tia, we opted for classic good looks: first, a black, royal, turquoise, light blue and sand "Zig-Zag" Reversible Caballero Blanket (SRP $110) and a 3/8" Contoured Felt Pad Liner (SRP $26.49), both from Toklat Originals. The turquoise in the blanket really shows off Tia's shiny dark bay coat.

For protection on the trail, we're using Front and Rear CLS Legacy Boots (SRP $70/$74) from Classic Equine to provide support with breathability, and Dy No-Turn? Bell Boots (SRP $25) also from Classic Equine. The Soft Touch Cinch (SRP $44.95) in black from Classic Equine provides secure comfort. Michelle is wearing a Wrangler shirt (approx. SRP $25) in teal, which complements the colors in her saddle pad, topped by a lightweight Mountain Horse? Levard Vest (SRP $79.95) in dark navy, which has side inserts for flexibility and pockets for keys and cell phone. Completing the look: a Circle Y Finalist basket-stamped belt with engraved bars and dot accents, a three-piece buckle set (SRP $39.95) from Smith Brothers, and beautifully detailed Gary Gist Flower Spurs (SRP $109) from Classic Equine. Deerskin Trail gloves (SRP $39.95) from Heritage Gloves provide flexibility and protection for all conditions.

Tip from the Pros: Add a pair of work chaps to your turnout, especially for overgrown country--plus they help resist wind and cold. Also, you may want to consider a hat for protection, safety and warmth.

Amy before her makeover. |

Amy before her makeover. |

Prepping to be a Professional
Name: Amy Lin Leiby, 19, Tamaqua, Pa.

In real life: Sophomore at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa. During the summer, Amy works on a dairy farm and preps and shows Lineback dairy cows at local county fairs to make money for school and to support her horse habit.

Horse connection: Under the guidance of her grandmother and aunt, Amy has been on a horse since she was two years old, and showing since she was four. At college, she majors in Equine Facilitated Therapeutics--teaching disabled children to ride horses. Already a member of Wilson's intercollegiate dressage team, she plans to try out for the hunt seat team this year. She trains with John Tukey, head of Wilson's Equestrian Department, and when not at school, she keeps her skills honed with Bonnie Derr, her instructor for more than 15 years. On school breaks, she unwinds on the trail with her two Arabians, and schools her half-Arabian/half-Quarter Horse for the hunter ring. Amy's goal is to make a name for herself in the hunter ring and build a business as a horse professional.

Most Admired Rider: "David O'Connor. He is so versatile and yet so good at everything he does."

Challenge: With college to pay for, Amy makes do with hand-me-downs and older riding apparel, though the fit and style won't help her sparkle in the show ring. She needs a more professional look as she builds her career in the horse industry.

Amy with a professional shine. |

Amy with a professional shine. |

Solution: Nothing says "professional" better than good fit. The Nouvelle Stretch Jacket from Devon-Aire with classic tailoring in traditional navy blue stretches to fit comfortably even while jumping (SRP $115), as do the Riding Sport low rise side zip breeches (SRP $129.95). Perfect touches from head to toe begin with International's ATH? helmet in black ($179.95) and end with Devon-Aire's Nouvelle Zip-Up Field Boots (SRP $210). Heritage Performance Show Gloves in black (SRP $28.95) complete the picture. To accommodate the many different types of horses she rides, Amy uses a Collegiate Convertible Alumni Close Contact saddle (SRP $1,105), with its Easy-Change Gullet System that adjusts to fit each horse's withers.

Tip from the Pros: For a truly perfect presentation in the top ranks, small touches make a big difference, like embroidering your initials on your choker. Your horse will look his best with a bridle and martingale that match your saddle. When not competing on the school team with the square pad in the school colors, use a white contoured saddle pad.

Kelly before her makeover. |

Kelly before her makeover. |

Adult Amateur in Eventing
Name: Kelly Reiter, 25, Swansea, Ill.

In real life: Consultant for a large information-technology consulting company. Kelly spends all day wearing a business suit, meeting with clients and working on a computer, which makes it hard to keep both horse and rider in shape.

Horse connection: Kelly started riding when she was nine, and over the years, she worked at different horse barns in exchange for lessons and a chance to ride. With her first horse, an older off-the-track bay Thoroughbred mare, she did everything--local hunter/jumper, combined training and dressage shows. After a trip to the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, she was hooked on eventing. When her mare retired, Kelly bought the perfect eventing partner, Just Plain Sterling, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse gelding. "He's athletic and talented and has really made me learn to ride correctly and not take short cuts in my riding and training. We're building a partnership and refining our skills so that we can be safe and effective as we move up the levels in eventing." The pair has competed in a handful of novice-level events this year, and Kelly plans to move up to training level this fall. Kelly's goal is to compete in a CCI* or CIC* ("one star") competition.

Most Admired Rider: "I admire any adult amateur that can work full time and still compete and be successful at the higher levels of eventing. It takes a lot of time, dedication and sacrifice."

Challenge: As an adult amateur with other financial obligations, Kelly finds it a challenge to find the money and time to succeed in her riding goals. This is compounded in eventing, which often requires different apparel and equipment for the three phases: dressage, stadium jumping and cross country. For this makeover, we focused on providing Kelly with a safe, comfortable (and stylish!) look on the cross-country phase. Also, when Kelly bought Sterling, she got a horse of a different color, and the competition colors she used on the bay mare didn't work as well on the gray gelding.

After: Kelly and Sterling ready to tackle the course. |

After: Kelly and Sterling ready to tackle the course. |

Solution: What does work is navy and silver or light gray, which looks great on both horse and rider. The Cadence? Stretch-Cord Riding Breeches in a slimming navy (SRP $84.95) topped with a silver Radiance Riding Jersey (SRP $34.95), both from Irideon Riding Wear, worn under her navy safety vest are breathable and move with Kelly as she and Sterling negotiate the cross-country course. A Troxel Legacy Schooling Helmet in midnight blue (SRP $54.95) provides ASTM/SEI head protection. Heritage Competition Gloves in navy/black (SRP $24.95) with Delta Grip increases sensitivity and grip on the reins. For aids, Kelly is using black leather spur straps and Tom Thumb Prince of Wales spurs from Toklat Originals and a black Toklat 27" riding bat (SRP $25.95). A navy and silver Tango Weave saddle pad (SRP $44.95), also from Toklat, finishes the picture. For his protection cross country, Sterling is outfitted with black Sport Brushing Boots (SRP $35) and black Sport Overreach Bell Boots (SRP $35) by Woof Wear.

Sterling sports his new cooler. |

Sterling sports his new cooler. |

When he's crossed the finish line and cooling out (or after a bath), Sterling stays warm in a breathable, moisture-wicking WeatherBeeta MicroFleece Square Cooler (SRP $74.95) that covers him up to his poll.

A little help from her friends: "There are a few really good trainers in the St. Louis area, but being an adult amateur, it's hard to find the time and money to haul to the trainers for regular lessons, so I do what I can--maybe a lesson a month during the show season," says Kelly. "I don't get the opportunity to have a trainer with me at competitions. Instead, I have a group of friends who show with me and ride at higher levels. They help me out a lot by giving me advice, helping me warm up and walking my courses with me."

Marion before her makeover. |

Marion before her makeover. |

Overcoming the Odds
Name: Marion Dahlgren, 60, Pierce, Colo.

In real life: Accounting tech for research awards for the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences with the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo. For a break in routine, she and husband Ken go on three-day cattle drives together.

Horse connection: Marion was first on a horse at age two and rode as a young person whenever she could beg, borrow or steal a friend's horse. She got her first horse at 22, and since then has been involved in all aspects of riding, driving, volunteering and playing with horses--from Western pleasure and trail to dressage and hunter/jumper, but her particular love was endurance. She competed in long-distance riding and worked the vet stop on the Old Dominion 100-mile endurance ride for several years and on the pit-crew for Valerie Kanavy before Valerie won her Olympic gold medal in endurance.

Marion's current mount is Rocky, an 11-year-old Appaloosa gelding, who she purchased to learn reining. But Marion and Rocky were not seeing eye-to-eye until they were introduced to Pat Parelli's Natural-Horse-Man-Ship program and the Savvy Journey, and started to form a solid partnership. Marion is working on level two of the program with the goal of moving to level three by early next spring. After that she hopes to interact with riders new to horses and help them feel safe and confident in their riding.

After: Rocky bundled up in his new turnout blanket. |

After: Rocky bundled up in his new turnout blanket. |

Challenge: Marion's makeover has to do with age, health and weight. Since being diagnosed with Hepatitis-C in 1993, she has been on a roller coaster of health ups and downs. At one point, after three years as a subject in a research program, she learned that she probably would need a liver transplant within five years, remission was unlikely and the joint pain and chronic fatigue would continue and progressively get worse. And worst of all, she would not be able to ride or even have the energy to care for her horses. But as of today, she is in remission, has not needed a liver transplant and her joint pain is nearly gone. Marion is working on losing the weight she gained in the research program to help manage her chronic fatigue: "It sounds like a good goal but some evenings when I get home I am so worn that I will crawl into bed and not stir until the next morning--and my mornings are when I play with the horses and feed." Sometimes a makeover is simply about making someone feel good. We wanted to give Marion a boost--and nothing brings a smile to a horse person quicker than new riding clothes and products for her horse.

After: Marion in a layered look. |

After: Marion in a layered look. |

Solution: To keep Marion warm and comfortable during the sub-zero Colorado winters, we focused on outerwear. The Arctic Winter Neo Gloves (SRP $28.95) in black/gray from Heritage will keep her fingers toasty. For her feet, the Mountain Horse? Ice Rider Winter Paddock boots (SRP $77.95) in black are ideal for warm, dry, winter riding. Pierce's high winds won't pierce Marion! The Mountain Horse? Fame Jacket (SRP $109.95) is both windproof and waterproof and has a detachable hood, and the reflective trim is a nice safety touch on the trail. For the all-important head safety, Marion is wearing Troxel's All-Trails Sierra Helmet (SRP $119.95) in tan suede and cordura. The ASTM/SEI-approved helmet with distinctive Western styling is lightweight and promotes ventilation while providing greater sun protection. Providing Marion a slimmed down appearance in the saddle is Tropical Rider's Legacy pull-on breech in black (SRP $175). The stretchy comfortable support comes from heavy-weight four-way stretch cotton lycra with extended deerskin patch, elastic waist (and a sugar pocket). To prepare Rocky for whatever conditions nature brings this winter, he'll wear WeatherBeeta's waterproof, breathable and durable Orican turnout blanket (SRP $121.95) in eggplant/navy with light-blue trim.

Tip from the pros: Remember to layer your clothing for ultimate comfort and warmth. Bring a pack for long trail rides so you can add or remove layers depending on the conditions.

Melissa before her makeover. |

Melissa before her makeover. |

Transitioning from Saddleseat to Jumpers
Name: Melissa Miko, 22, Santa Barbara, Calif.

In real life: Sarbanes-Oxley auditor for a growing community bank with the goal of earning a master's degree in accounting and her CPA license.

Horse connection: Melissa "went horse crazy" when her parents took her for riding lessons when she was eight. She had everything from Breyer horses to horse-motif lip gloss, light switchplates and bed sheets. For her 13th birthday, she got a black Morgan gelding, who she showed on the Morgan "A" circuit. She participated in the Morgan Youth of the Year competition, which tests general equine knowledge, horse judging skills, oral presentation skills and riding or driving skills, and won two at the state level, one regional, and qualified and competed in the National Morgan Youth of the Year.

At 19, while at the University of Connecticut, she bought a horse--on credit. Louie, now 11, is an American Saddlebred pinto gelding who has been with her ever since, even making the move from Connecticut to California. Though she finds trail riding along the beach and hills enjoyable, Melissa wants to get back into showing. While Louie could be a country pleasure saddleseat mount, he has developed a talent for jumping, and Melissa plans to show in baby-green jumper classes at local schooling shows this fall. Her goal is for the pair to be a competitive and respectable jumping team at local shows, but she wants to make sure Louie continues to be a steady, level-headed mount on the trail: "This is the horse I want my kids to learn to ride on!"

Challenge: Owning a Saddlebred, Melissa has a cutback flat saddle, a double bridle and saddlesuits from her youth. With her growing interest in jumping, she needs appropriate attire and tack for her new discipline. More familiar with the saddleseat culture, she is worried that her taste is too loud for the jumper ring, and wants an appropriate turn-out. "Louie channels Paris Hilton for his fashion sense. From a hot-pink flame bareback pad to leopard-print polo wraps to a baby-pink vinyl cavesson set with rhinestones on the browband and noseband, I am afraid the jumper judges may give us a fault just for the way we look!"

"Jumping in a smooth, flat fox lane saddle with what seems like negative knee rolls is synonymous with jumping bareback on a Show-Sheened horse," she adds.

Melissa and Louie, after, with jumper

Melissa and Louie, after, with jumper

Solution: The good news for Melissa is that jumpers love a little pizzazz, so she doesn't have to go cold turkey in changing disciplines. Some style, bling and bright colors can work well in many jumper classes. Taking a cue from her love of pink, we put together an appropriate, but fun, look for the local jumper ring, and a second, more traditional look. Melissa is 5'10" so when we were selecting a boot, we wanted a model with a shaft that would accommodate her long legs. The Camden L'Cord Field Boot by Devon-Aire (SRP $210) with its extra tall shaft with an elongated Spanish top fit the bill. For a California chic jumper look, Melissa is wearing a black Radiance Riding Jersey (SRP $34.95) and black Low-Rise Cadence Stretch-Cord Riding Breeches (SRP $84.95) both by Irideon Riding Wear. A pink belt with palm trees from Equine Couture (SRP $29.95) adds some zest round the middle.

To protect Louie in those tight turns, he is wearing black and pink Sport Brushing Boots (SRP $35) and Sport Overreach Boots by Woof Wear (SRP $35), which also coordinate well with Melissa's outfit. The saddle pad is a black and hot pink Classic III Quilted Show Pad by Toklat Originals (SRP $54.95) and the 26" whip (in hot pink!) is also by Toklat (SRP $24.49). Topping off the black and pink theme, is an ATH (TM) helmet with a pink sparkle strip (SRP $109.95) from International Riding Helmets. The helmet comes with silver, blue and pink sparkle strips that can be changed easily. Her gloves are Graphic Print Performance Gloves in Pink Cheetah from Heritage Gloves (SRP $21.95), which are stretchable, washable and have great grip.

Melissa and Louie, after, model their toned-down option. |

Melissa and Louie, after, model their toned-down option. |

For a second, more toned-down option, Melissa is wearing a Devon-Aire Nouvelle Stretch Jacket in black (SRP $115) with classic tailoring and comfortable stretch fabric. Her breeches are the Nona Garson Knee Patch Breech in beige (SRP $209) from Tropical Rider. Made with four-way stretch woven microfiber, this side zip breech has superior moisture-wicking capability, perfect for riding in the California heat. For a cool and comfortable top, Melissa is wearing a Riding Sport? Competition shirt (SRP $39.95) with short sleeves in white with pink piping. The quick-dry fabric and contoured fit will be comfortable with or without a jacket.

Tip from the pros: Although you and Louie look like you can do anything you set your minds to with your flat saddle, try out a few loaner jumping saddles from your local tack store to see the difference tack designed specifically for jumping will make to your style and performance. Make sure you get a saddle that fits your horse.

Shopping Guide
The following companies generously provided the products for the winter 2007 makeover: Dover Saddlery, WeatherBeeta USA, Classic Equine, Toklat Originals, Heritage Gloves, International Riding Helmets, Tropical Rider, Troxel, Wrangler, Outback Trading Company and Cavallo Horse & Rider.

For design assistance, we thank Dover Saddlery, Equine Resources, French/West/Vaughn, Smith Brothers and Toklat Originals.

Products are available at local and online tack shops. Learn more about these great products at: