Are smooth chaps coming back?

You normally won’t see many smooth chaps in the pen. They were fashion in the past but, in the recent years, suede chaps took the scene. In the reining pen they are considered really cool, but in the last months there was an increase of smooth chaps also in the Pleasure and Western Riding Classes. Maybe one of the “cause” of the coming back of the smooth chaps could be the “bolero trend”. We all agree that smooth chaps are not ok for Horsemanship, but I think they look really pretty if you wear them with a bolero. Boleros are short and smooth chaps can draw attention to you and can emphasize the length of your leg. Moreover it is something extra fancy that is not often seen in the pen.

I have always been a huge fan of smooth chaps. I purchased them when I was still showing Reining horses and I continued to wear them also when I “switched” to the All Around classes. I was wearing them (also if they were not “in”) because I liked them and it made me happy. I think fashion should be that way: you have to wear what makes you happy, not what is considered trendy.

I like to wear them in Western Pleasure together with my bolero. In my opinion they add a “rock” touch to my outfit. Of course I am going to wear them also in case I show in Western Riding and Reining.

Which is your opinion about smooth chaps? Do you like them?

The rising of the chocolate

In the past years there were not so many chocolate outfits in the show pen. You could have seen a lot of black, purple and bright colours outfits, but not chocolate ones. Last week I could notice a “rising of the chocolate” at the Italian Championship. In the Amateur Horsemanship there were three riders wearing chocolate outfits. I’ve always been a fan of chocolate. It is a “warm” colour that fits almost every horse, it works in every occasion, it is dark enough to be used for a Horsemanship top but, on the other side, it is not the “wore-by-everybody” black. I think it can suit riders of every age, from the youth to the select, and it can be paired with a lot of other colours to create stunning combinations. Moreover it is an easy tone to match. You can choose a white, chocolate or beige hat. Also the makeup is going to be easy: you can create a smoky look in the earth tones for the eyes and you can apply a nude, brown, dark red or fuchsia lipstick. We definitely can say that chocolate is an uncomplicated colour.

I felt in love with my Horsemanship top at the first sight. I own it since three years now and I still think it is the best Horsemanship top I have ever seen. The combination of chocolate, gold, white and fuchsia is simply stunning.

If you decide to wear chocolate you will obtain a classy, timeless look but, at the same time, you will be able to stand out in the crowd of “black dressed” people.

What do you think about chocolate? Do you think  it is “in” or “out”? Would you wear it at a horse show?

Horsemanship top vs plain fitted shirt: which one is better?

In April I took part to the Bavarian Spring Classic in Kreuth and I gave a look to what riders were wearing. As it was the first big show of the year in Europe, it was easy to get an idea of what will be “in” and what will be “out” during the show season. Riders showed their new outfits and set the trends that everybody will follow during the next shows.

Today we are going to discuss about Horsemanship. I noticed a massive presence of plain fitted shirts, while in the past years there were more “blinged” Horsemanship tops.

A plain fitted shirt is always elegant. If it is in the right size (not too small or too big) it creates a good silhouette and it emphasize the rider’s body position. But, unfortunately, in Horsemanship almost everybody wears black chaps and a black shirt. You can see five or six riders in the same class dressed in the same way. But this is not so tragical. To solve the problem you can choose a “glowy” fabric (like satin) and an other colour like purple, dark blue, dark grey, silver, emerald green and so on. Moreover, if you want to show on a budget, the plain fitted shirt is a cheap and elegant solution. So, if you want to be sober but classy, the plain fitted shirt is the right option for you.

All the “bling bling” fans will obviously choose a highly decorated Horsemanship top. For sure that kind of top gives the rider a completely different allure: she will look sophisticated, elegant and valuable. It is fundamental that the top and the chaps have the same colour. I think that a decorated top that is not in the same colour of the chaps won’t look graceful: the rider’s body will seem “broken” in two parts.

Personally I use both the outfits, but in different occasions. I wear a plain fitted shirt for regional shows or during really hot summer days; during big shows I always wear my Horsemanship top because (in my opinion) it looks more elegant (a plain fitted shirt wouldn’t be “enough”).

What do you like to wear for Horsemanship? Do you prefer plain fitted shirts or Horsemanship tops?

Rock makeup or nude makeup? That is the question

When it ´s about makeup, exhibitors may have different opinions. Some prefer to “stay safe” and choose a nude makeup, while others want to stand out and they dare with an “aggressive” look.

With a nude makeup you can’t go wrong. If you are not a “makeup master”, it will be easier for you to create a nice look using light tones. Beige, brown and peach eye shadows are pretty easy to apply and you can create a nice, elegant light smoky look. Nude lips are the trend of the season; you can choose a brown, a peach or a beige shade, depending from your skin tone. You can also apply a nude lipstick if you used really dark colours on you eyes and you don’t want your makeup to be “too much”. Moreover, a nude look is perfect for disciplines like Ranch Riding, Reining, Cutting. It is really good also for Hunt Seat Equitation, Hunter Under Saddle, Horsemanship and Showmanship.

A rock makeup drives a lot of attention on you and on your face. If you decide to wear dark colours, you must be able to apply them correctly. Everybody knows that dark colours are intense and sexy, but they can be a little bit tricky. If you want to wear a black or purple lipstick you have to be sure that you hand is firm when you apply it. Maybe a lip pencil could be helpful to outline the contour of your lips and to prevent smears. A dark tones makeup will help you to stand out, especially in classes like Pleasure or Trail. I would absolutely avoid black, purple or grey lipsticks in Horsemanship and in the English classes.

Let’s now talk about the red lipstick. A red lipstick is a must and it is a symbol of timeless elegance. You can choose the shade and the finish, but you won’t be wrong.

So, what do you think? Do you like dark coloured lipsticks? Do you prefer nude looks? And what about the red lipstick?

FEQHA European Championship of American Quarter Horses

Photo taken from the ECQH website

I am happy to announce that Fancy In The Sand will collaborate with the European Championship of American Quarter horses´ press team for the coverage of the event!!
Me, The Showlife and Leonie Fischer will keep you posted with all the news about the Europeans 😉
Do you want to find out more about the European Championship? Than give a look to the ECQH website

What about fringes in Western Pleasure?

It is not a secret that I love fringes. I love the way they move together with the horse’s movement, especially over the poles or in Western Riding. I like them even more if they are covered with stones. I own a vest that has fringes over the shoulders and around the waist and it is one of my favourite pieces in my horse show wardrobe. In the past years I was wearing it for Trail but, since last October, I started to wear it also for the Western Pleasure class. I was really excited for the movement of the fringes. It was such a nice feeling to feel the fringes touching my arms at the rhythm of the feet of my horse and the photos were beautiful. But than , when I saw the video, I had to change my mind. The fringes over the shoulders were really cool, but the ones around my waits were a little bit distracting. They were creating too much movement.

So, what to do now? I will keep wearing the vest for Trail (that’s what it was created for) but I think I won’t wear it anymore for the Pleasure. Being an all around rider is pretty cool if we consider the “fashion side”. You can take part to many classes and you can find the perfect outfit for each one of them. Some clothes are perfect for some classes but not for others. And it is fine, it is the funny part!

To summarize I would say that fringes around the shoulders are really pretty, but I would avoid the ones around the waist in Western Pleasure.

Which is your opinion? Do you like fringes in Western Pleasure?

The perfect riding jeans

When it is about riding, my jeans have to be perfect. Not every model is ok, and after many years, and many pairs of jeans, I think I found the ones that fit me. In my opinion, riding jeans must have some specific characteristics. First of all they should have a mid waist. I hate low rise riding jeans, they are uncomfortable and, if you use them for showing, your show shirt will always slip out of them. They should be elastic to let my legs move in the best way possible. I don’t like when the fabric is too “hard” and it doesn’t have a nice, soft feeling on the skin.

They also have to be “real” boot cut! Sometimes you can see many “boot cut” jeans they are simply too skinny and you can see the sign of the boots under them. It looks horrible. An another important factor is the length. I want my jeans to be long enough to cover the legging of my boots. I think it doesn’t look good if people can see my boots because my jeans are too short. It costs me nothing to check the length of my jeans when I buy them and make sure they will be long enough to cover my boots when I will be on the saddle.

The colour is an another important factor: I wear only blue jeans. I know that there are a lot of black, light blue and shaded jeans, but I just keep it simple. I choose blue jeans also because I wear them for the Ranch Riding class and I want a simple, clean look.

Finally I am not a fan of the so called “blingy jeans”. They look beautiful, sexy and original. They are just fine to walk around at a show in a day in which you don’t have classes… but not for riding. Most of them are richly decorated in the back pockets and, if you wear them for riding, you risk to ruin the seat of your saddle.

To summarize, my ideal riding jeans must have three characteristics: they must fit good, they must be long enough to cover my boots and they must be comfortable.

What do you think? Which are the characteristics of your ideal riding jeans?

The golden pads: an interview with Lori Heckaman

Photo courtesy of Lory Heckaman and Cathrin Gutmann. The beautiful photos of Lori´s studio were made by Megan Parks

If you want to be a winner you have to look like a winner. Showing horses is about details. Everything must be planned and prepared. You train your horse and yourself everyday, you choose your show clothes, your hair style and your make up. And the pad? Unfortunately too often exhibitors don’t focus on the pad. This is a big mistake! The pad is as important as all the other elements of the outfit. You wouldn’t show with a saddle full of dust or with show clothes that don’t fit… so why should you use a pad which doesn’t match your outfit? A good quality pad is a must have for creating a great overall impression. Be sure that it is oversize, that it is made with good wool and, most of all, that it matches your outfit and your horse color.

I asked the Queen of saddle pads, Lori Heckaman, some questions about the perfect pad. Lori, owner of the prestigious company Golden West Saddle Blankets, kindly accept to answer all my questions.

– Your saddle pads are famous in all the world for quality and craftsmanship. Which is the “building process” of your pads?

Every blanket we make at Golden West Saddle Blankets is completely hand made and one of a kind.  Before starting the designing process, I attempt to gather as much information as possible about the horse, rider, classes the blanket will be used in (Horsemanship, etc), hat and chap colors and outfit or shirt colors.  By working directly with many of the generous clothing designers, they are typically most accommodating in providing fabric swatches, sketches of the outfits and photographs of their works in progress.  It is most helpful to have more than just an idea of what I am matching, often before the clients have even seen it!  I then draw a sketch of my vision for the blanket as well as a very detailed written description.  After deciding upon the colors to be used, the design is assigned to the weaver most suitable to weave the blanket. I have a number of wonderful weavers, some of which have been with me 10 – 15 years.  Many have formal education with a degree in Textiles.

– Which are the characteristics of a good quality pad?

To produce the highest quality blanket, you must first start with the highest quality wool.  I have my wool custom made to my specifications, ordering thousands of pounds in an attempt to keep my costs in check.  Then it is custom dyed, also to my specifications.  With over 300 colors in stock, we try to keep up with the color trends.  We also do some custom color matching and dyeing at my studio in Texas.  Each blanket goes through a rigorous finishing process, wear leathers applied and preparation for shipping, pick up at the studio or a horse show.

– How did you start your business?

I represented Golden West for over 10 years before purchasing the business and moving it to Texas from California in 1998.  I immediately started making changes to the previous ways of doing business, including making each blanket a one of a kind.  Many new colors have been added, as well as new patterns and more developed weaving techniques.

– Which are the current trends about saddle pads?

The color trends in blankets tend to follow runway fashion colors and interior designers.  We have been using a great deal of silver or shades of gray for a few years now with no signs of slowing down, often used with bright colors.  We have also been using many shades of golds for a number of years.  Bright blankets have definitely taken over what used to be a preference for subtle, more conservative color schemes.

– How important is the saddle pad in the overall presentation of a rider in the arena?

I feel that having a perfectly matched blanket adds to the over-all feeling of being “ready”, you feel good and you know that you look good!  I have had a number of judges over the years comment on how many of my blankets they see in the arena, even when judging in other countries.  Often they comment on the fact that the rider has taken that extra step to complete their entire picture, especially in Horsemanship.

– Would you like to add something to the interview?

At Golden West, we strive to set the industry standard of the highest quality and individual designs.  We pride ourselves on customer service and built to last quality.  I have built this business based on the needs of my customers and what it takes to make them feel and look unique.  Many of our blankets have been in use for over 30 years.

I would like to thank Lori for her kindness and her availability to answer my questions, it was a pleasure to interview her!

Lori’s words explain clearly the importance of a good pad: the show blanket is not a secondary element.

Which is you opinion about that? Do you focus on the show blanket?