Category Archives: Tack thoughts

Barn Clothes… My Life on the Fashion Don’t List!

I felt compelled to re-post this blog today…  I wrote it in 2010 (only 4 months after I started the blog) !

Barn Clothes… My Life on the Fashion ‘Don’t’ List!

When did this happen?  When did I become a fashion don’t?  I mean, I consider myself somewhat current with all the trends.  Stores in Malibu know me.  I read W and work in the world of film production… how did I go so horribly wrong?

It happened with Barn Clothes.  Instead of picking out my barn clothes with care, they became a classification like “good clothes” or “play clothes”.  I mean there are catalogs filled with fashionable barn clothes.  But for me, somehow, I’ve jumped the shark.  I hear myself saying, “Oh, don’t throw that out, I’ll use it in the barn…”  or “Heck, that’s still good…”  Sound familiar?  When did this happen?  Am I wearing to the barn the “cotton duster” of my era?

OK, backpedaling, perhaps this malfeasance of couture happens out of respect for fashion.  Maybe I am just protecting “nice” clothes from the disgrace of barn use.  Maybe I don’t want to wreck anything good. Or, maybe I’m just cheap.  Dunno.  I do know that I wonder how other barn owners are beautifully coiffed and always look so good when I go to their barns.  I don’t know why I cannot EVER look like that.  I always look like I just chased down a runaway through thickets and barbed wire, navigated a muddy hill, jumped the colt, administered several doctoring things (including stitches) and just made it back to the barn as it started to rain…  I always look disheveled.  Have I given up?   Or maybe it is just situational.

For example, if you go to someone else’s barn, you dress for the occasion.  And, if you are having others over, you tend to spiff up a bit.  But, when it is just you, the horses and the elements, all bets are off.  Situational.

You see, once I had my own barn, that’s when it all started to go to heck in a handbasket.  Having a barn tipped it for me.  Do you know what I mean?  When you have your own barn, no one is there to say anything.  So, for me, my social conscious went out the window.  I think I’m kinda like the Mad Hatter…  Function vs Form.  I mean at first, I was pretty good.  I always wore the right shoes to the barn and had the right amount of fresh clothing for the right task.  But, as time went on, I’ve found myself covering my nightie with my barn coat and tip toeing out in my flip flops to make sure I turned off the water at 10pm. Or, I’ve scuffed out to the barn in my slippers when the ground was “dry enough”.  And, truth to tell, I’ve certainly gone out there without my Victoria Secrets on…

Bless my enduring husband who has seen me with the absolute worst ensembles and has not even allowed a visual start or hiccup in his morning kiss goodbye.  Usually it goes something like this:  I’ve pulled on some pants that are fitting for feeding, a top, an overtop sweatshirt, a barn coat, some type of hat, some socks and appropriate shoes.  Now, not all of this is from the clean pile and not all of it is coordinated.  So, as he leaves (all showered and perfect), he drives by the barn and I emerge, full of hair, hay –and whatever else I was just doing — to reach in through the window and give him a kiss.  Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in his side view mirror and I let out a little yelp.  Ack!  But, my saintly and very smart hubby never says a word… This morning was one such morning.  And hence this post…  I am going to come clean and tell the world what has happened to me.  Perhaps it will help in the healing…  ;)


Warm Barn CoatIn my classification, the warm barn coat could be anything.  Most often it is from Costco, a Farm store, Salvation Army, a yard sale or perhaps your husband’s discarded work jacket.  The brand names vary from something no one has ever heard of to Woolrich, Carhart or Kirkland, which aren’t really ever associated with fashion so it isn’t really my fault that I’ve gone awry with the Warm Barn Coat.  But, to be honest with myself, the Warm Barn Coat that I own has a twist.  My barn coat has splotches of purple stains around the frayed wrists from applying Thrushbuster.  It has sunny yellow, washed-in permanent stains from worming day.  My coat has two buttons missing and one pocket torn.  However, the pocket that is torn is my left pocket so the coat is still good in my estimation.  Oh, and, let’s not forget, there are no more strings to tighten the hood or the waist so I do look like the Grim Reaper if you see me in silhouette.  I just cannot part with my green and blue plaid friend.  Although its pockets are riddled with hayseeds and other sharp but natural tip-of-finger piercing needles, I cherish it like a nummy blanket.  Why?  I have no idea.  I tell myself it is because I have not been able to find the exact same style again — and there may be a reason for that if you look at the picture provided…

Heavy Duty barn coat:  This is the one you wear all winter.  Underneath, you can hide anything from your jammies to your evening wear and it all stays hay free.  This is the coat that has down feathers, fiberfill or other such warm innerds, a hood that stays tight, a zipper that works and many pockets to stash all your winter needs so you can spend as little time outside as possible.  This coat should have ample pocket storage to house: hay knife, thermometer, stethoscope, extra skull cap, wormer, apple core, hoof pick, Tea Tree spray, reading glasses and carrot pieces.

I generally get a new heavy duty barn coat every year because it takes a beating.  I do wear it everyday, twice a day, rain or shine.  Sadly however, I have never given myself the Irish Oilskin, the Orvis or the Aussie Outback version.  I tend to continue to use whatever I find…   “OMG!  Old Navy has this hideous coat on sale for 70% off!!  I don’t know why no one bought it.  It would be a perfect barn coat!  What color would you say that is?  Pea green what?  Oh, it doesn’t matter… it will be P-E-R-F-E-C-T.”   I have one already ready for next year.  It is two sizes too big and a color not found in nature other than when viewing food that has come up.  But, I am greatly looking forward to ripping off the tags come winter and parading about in my new cold weather barn coat that I got at such a steal!

Good Barn Coat:  This is the coat you wear when you think someone might come by.  This is the coat you run inside and grab when you hear the propane truck come rumbling up the road…  My good barn coat is my Carhart.  It is green, which I think is fashionable since it was a unique color for that year.  It is clean (sort-of) and has all of its snaps and important bits.  But, when I really analyze my choices, I see that my good barn coat is still basically a man’s work coat in size SM.  When did this happen to me?  When did a small sized mens coat become my “good” coat?  I guess it is because I compare it to my other barn goodies..

Barn pants:  I’m a bit saddened to say that my barn pants are probably worse than my barn coats.  I have two categories.  I have warm barn pants and summer barn pants.  Both are not too flattering.  My winter barn pants are actually warm yoga pants that I got from a wonderful catalog called Athleta.  I like them a lot.  The issue is that I have worn them every day for several winters. Yes, they have held up.  But, after a million washings, they don’t quite look like Christie Brinkley in the barn anymore…  My other pants are Kirkland brand, lightweight jammy pants.  You’ve seen them.  They come in packets of 3 and in colors that are only proper on toddlers.  Yup.  I have several pairs of those.  And, I guess if I wore them alone, that would be OK.  But, my offense seems to be with my pairings.  I tend to not notice what I put with my plaid Costco pants.  Therein lies the issue.  Read on…

Barn shirts:  Barn shirts depend solely upon comfort.  What is the temperature?  That is how I decide what to wear on top.  Do I need an underlayer?  Do I need a shirt?  Do I need an outer layer?  I check off each of these categories and pull from whichever clothes piles apply.  Matching never even enters my mind.  Here again, function over form.  I have been caught (the only time my husband actually let out a snigger) in a flowy and flowery printed tank top with my Costco plaid clown bottoms.  I was comfortable and never thought twice.  Yikes.  However, I do enlist the famous Denim work shirt whenever needed.  This is big and baggy yet light weight (actually, it comes in several weights…) so I throw that on when the farrier comes or the vet.  (Looking back, I guess a denim shirt with clown pants is kinda funny, too.  They’ve never said anything.)

Barn shoes:  Barn shoes, for me, depend upon the ground and whether I need to wear socks.  I have my glorious muck boots for that dreadful block of time when the ground becomes mud.  Those are lifesavers — if you have ever left your boot behind you in the mud, you know what I mean — and I love them.  However, I don’t clean them after every use.  I also have my mid range muck boots for slightly loose soil but nothing a good mucker couldn’t handle.  I get a new pair every season because these are my work horses.  And, to round out the list, I have the slip-ons of various persuasions.  These used to be real shoes but then got relegated to the “barn” pile.  These shoes I wear without socks to run down to the barn.  They sit by the door, just waiting for me to slide in and run down to feed.  These guys are dirty, worn to the exact form of my feet and get thrown out after every summer.  And, if I needed to replace any of these beauties, I’d get online and probably do Ebay.  My biggest offense with barn shoes is my occasional act of quickly hopping into my car and heading to town before glancing at my feet and cringing!  Well, at least I threw out my Crocs is all I can say when I do this…  Oy.

Barn hats:  Last but not least, the most hilarious yet serious category, Barn hats.  I am one of those people that wouldn’t be caught dead in a bad hat.  I would go outside in a blizzard hatless then go outside in an ugly head protection device.  Again, the issue of social conscious rears its ugly head.  At home, in my own barn, I have a multitude of awful but fully functional head wear.  My favorite winter number is a hat my husband bought for me.  I think it may have been a joke but I took it seriously.  It is made of yak hair, complete with a top tassle and ties.  I wear it every day during bad weather.  I think I tell myself that if he gave it to me, it has to be OK.  (I can hear him sighing somewhere…)  And on less than awful days, but still hatworthy days, I wear a red skull cap or a very pilly fleece ski cap stolen from Elmer Fudd.  Both leave much to be desired in the fashion arena.  And, here again, function over fashion seems to be my motto.  What I find really funny is that at Xmas last year while shopping at an Import store, I overheard someone in the hat section comment, “Who wears yak anyway??!”  I just smiled and told them how warm it is…

I guess the only redeeming thing here in my life on the fashion Don’t List is that I understand my affliction.  Barnclothesitis.  I’ve got it.  Bad.


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DRESSAGE. What is was… and what it is becoming. A well written post from Erika Franz about ROLLKUR.

I generally do not get too political… You all know how I feel about things…

Today, I wanted to bring this report to you written by Erika Franz.  My need to post this was prompted by a reader who asked me about Olympic Dressage and “how do those horses do that?!”

I told her how dressage started as a communication dance between rider and horse.  How the subtle cues and joyful, rhythmic movements were the result of a great partnership… except recently, some riders now use a training method that is contrary to ‘partnership’ – rollkur.

Serendipitously, this blog post from Erika Franz came into my view.

I couldn’t have said it better.

Before You Watch the Equestrian Games

Before you watch the Equestrian Games at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, I invite you to a bit of history about the sport of Dressage.
Dressage is often called the ballet of horse sports when equestrians try to explain the sport to non-equestrians.
More than ballet, Dressage has long been considered the art of horse sport. The goal? A powerfully athletic horse, trained to perform difficult gymnastic movements, gracefully and guided by a rider whose communications to the horse are imperceptible. There’s an emphasis here on the use of light physical communications; overt physical force is something that had been left to other horse sports.
This goal was universally shared for centuries.


Change on the Horizon

At the 1995 CHIO Aachen competition we saw a glimpse of something different; horses being ridden with their head and neck over bent to gain more control over them.

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Warm-up video from the 1995 CHIO Aachen competition, Isabell Werth using Rollkur.
Two riders, Isabell Werth and Nicole Uphoff, were using this technique during their warm-ups.
By 2005 this new training technique had incubated before becoming a public eyesore again, now officially termed ‘Rollkur’. This time Anky van Grunsven and her trainer Sjef Janssen were the ones publicly using and defending Rollkur. Even as early as 2001 Sjef Janssen had been giving interviews about the method.
People were outraged then, and now 11 years later they are still fighting to ban this abusive training method from the sport.
In 2006, the FEI which governs international horse sports including Dressage, took some action based on the widespread outrage and criticism. Studies were performed, showing clear scientific evidence that Rollkur significantly interferes with the horse’s breathing by compressing the larynx, and inhibits swallowing.
The result of those studies? The FEI held a round-table conference and banned the practice of Rollkur. In the same session, they also discussed the technique of LDR (low, deep, round; the term Sjef Janssen used in his early interviews when describing the method which was publicly named Rollkur). Just as Rollkur was banned, LDR was explicitly made legal.
The difference between Rollkur and LDR? Low, deep, round can only be maintained for a maximum of 10 minutes before the horse must be given a break. A break of which the FEI has never defined a minimum time period. It is perfectly legal for a rider to use LDR during the duration of a 2 hour ride, giving their horse a 2 second break every 10 minutes.

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Can you tell which rider is using Rollkur, and which is using LDR (low, deep, round)? The horse probably can’t tell the difference either.
No studies were performed to show that an unspecified break every 10 minutes alleviates all physical damages caused by the practice of riding a horse in this hyperflexed position.
Amid the pushback from equestrians concerned for the future of the sport and welfare of the horses, judges have consistently awarded competitors who use Rollkur/LDR, giving scores previously unheard of for performances which showed very clear and significant errors.
11 years since the first public outrage of this abusive training technique, the FEI continues to ignore the tens of thousands of equestrians who have protested the use of Rollkur and LDR.

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Adeline Cornelissen, a student of Anky van Grunsven and Sjef Janssen, riding her horse Parzival in LDR at the 2012 London Olympics.
What Does Any of This Matter?
Why should you care if a horse’s head and neck are curled up into their chest?
You should care if you value a fair sport that provides protection for the welfare of the horse.
Also, you should care that there are no less than 8 separate references to the correct positioning of the horse’s head, and all of them indicate the face of the horse’s head should never fall behind the vertical.

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Left: Slightly in front of the vertical. Right: On or slightly behind the vertical.
In all the work, even at the halt, the Horse must be “on the bit”. A Horse is said to be “on the bit” when the neck is more or less raised and arched according to the stage of training and the extension or collection of the pace, accepting the bridle with a light and consistent soft submissive contact. The head should remain in a steady position, as a rule slightly in front of the vertical, with a supple poll as the highest point of the neck, and no resistance should be offered to the Athlete.
—?2016 FEI Dressage Rules Manual, Article 401, Item 5
Horses trained in LDR consistently perform in their competition ride behind the vertical. A clear violation of a rule that is obviously important enough to warrant 8 individual mentions in the rulebook. You’ll find the other 7 references in the following sections of the 2016 FEI Dressage Rules Manual:
Article 402, Item 1 referring to the Halt
Article 403, Item 3.2 referring to the Collected Walk
Article 403, Item 3.3 referring to the Extended Walk
Article 404, Item 4.4 referring to the Medium Trot
Article 405, Item 4.4 referring to the Medium Canter
Article 414, Item 3 referring to the Passage
Article 417, referring to Collection
Interestingly, scores at the lower levels still tend to reflect the rules; riders receive lower marks when their horse’s head comes behind the vertical. However at the upper levels of the sport, the opposite is true with horses behind the vertical receiving higher marks, even while displaying increased conflict behavior.
Abuse Begets Abuse
The line is continuing to blur as to what is acceptable within the context of horse welfare. Additional insults to the horse being ignored and side-stepped by the very organization which continues to announce their dedication to the welfare of the horse.
No fewer than 2 separate incidents have now occurred at public exhibitions, where a horse’s tongue had turned blue due to the force of the rider’s hands as they forcibly placed their horse’s head and neck into LDR. The first offense was by Patrik Kittel with his horse Watermill Scandic.

Click to watch the video

Click to watch the video

Patrik Kittel was completely exonerated for the blue tongue incident by the FEI. Kittel was at the center of much controversy again at the 2012 Olympic Games when he was photographed riding his horse in such extreme LDR that the horse’s chin was touching its chest.

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Close up of Andreas Helgestrand’s horse Akeem Foldager clearly shows his tongue has turned blue.
The second offense was by Andreas Helgestrand, and again the FEI did nothing.
Please Reconsider…
This year’s Olympic Games will include rides by Edward Gal, Patrik Kittel, Isabell Werth, Adelinde Cornelissen; all riders who have historically used Rollkur/LDR in public.
Before you decide to watch this year’s Equestrian Olympic Games. The FEI has ignored the voices of the people directly involved in the sport and chosen instead to pursue financial gain above the welfare of the very animals the sport relies upon.
Equestrians can no longer fight this front on their own. We need you, the general public.
This fight has never been about banning horse sport, or Dressage. It has been about enforcing the clear rules published by the FEI in competition and ensuring the horses aren’t permanently injured by a training method.
Please help us by turning OFF the Olympic Games this year during the Equestrian Dressage competitions and tweeting #EndHorseAbuseWithRio.
It’s not a lot, but maybe, just maybe the FEI will finally heed this protest.


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