The Opinionated Equestrian pt2

For those of you who read the first "Opinionated Equestrian" post, you know all about the Leeds University equestrian team who posed partially nude for a calendar to raise money for therapeutic riding. I wanted to share this picture of me and my new calendar that arrived in the mail today!!!

Girls you are doing amazing work!!!


The Modern Equestrian

It goes so perfectly in this spot above my desk ;)


The Denim Wearing Equestrian

Rag & Bone Jodhpur jeans.


The Social Media Equestrian

Hello All,
It is that time of year to submit nominations for the Equestrian Social Media Awards. I would love it, if everyone who reads this blog took 5 minutes to go to the ESMA facebook and nominate The Modern Equestrian in the "blog" category. 

It's super easy:

1. "Like" the Equestrian Social Media Awards facebook page
2. Click on "Submit Nominations" on the right hand side of the page. 
3. Go to the "Blog" category
4. Nominate The Modern Equestrian because.....
5. Hit send and get confirmation. YOU CAN ONLY VOTE ONCE so make it count! 

The Modern Equestrian


The Freezing Equestrian

Working in the television industry and actually being from California is somewhat of a rarity. There are 4 Californians in my whole office and only myself and one other co-worker originally from Los Angeles County. So what I call "weather" isn't exactly what the office PA from upstate New York or our best boy grip from Michigan call "weather." Nevertheless, now that it's December and the temperatures are starting to drop, I'm always cold. In my office, on our stage, in my bedroom, there is no escape from the sharp jabs of icy air. 

When asked what I wanted for Christmas all I could think of was WARM THINGS! Jackets, mittens, and scarves! Layer me till I look ridiculous, I just want to be WARM! 

So of course I started feverishly searching for jackets with an equestrian flair that I could present to my family as potential Christmas gifts. In true Modern Equestrian form, they are as chic as they are expensive, but it's Christmas and maybe I'm due for a miracle. 

Dubarry Bracken Utility Jacket  - $549

*I do not support the use of fur in this jacket. I love the look, not the execution. 


The Social Networking Equestrian

Just a reminder to:

"Like" The Modern Equestrian on Facebook

and to

Follow The Modern Equestrian on Twitter

The Mounted Equestrian

I've been doing a great deal of "pinning" lately on my new favorite site Pinterest. On a recent pin binge I was looking for some equestrian home decor inspirations when I came across these three images: 

While some people might think that mounted animal heads are for cabins and hunt lodges, I actually find these horses chic and in sync with the design and decor of the room. 

So I did some digging and found some mounted horse heads that could potentially be the missing equestrian element to my bedroom. 

Horse Knight

 Made of felt! 

Hermes orange Horse head wall sculpture

These last horse heads are by American artist Andréa Stanislav, and are appropriately titled "Horseheads." They are made of a material that resembles disco balls and, unfortunately, not for sale. 

**Inspiration for this post came from the lovely Jessica of Ms Dolly Decorator**


The Devastated Equestrian

Why Obama would sign a law that promotes theft of horses and the torture and slaughtering of these beautiful creatures is beyond me. ESPECIALLY since he made a campaign PROMISE to ban the export of horses for human consumption. 

This is an article on the website Animal Law Coalition. Towards the end of the article there are links you can click to write to your US representatives and State Senators. 

" Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have now approved the Conference Committee report on H.R. 2112, the bill that, in part, determines agriculture appropriations for FY 2012. President Barack Obama immediately signed the measure, making commercial horse slaughter legal once again in the U.S.
Conference Committee Chair Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), and Sen. Roy  Blunt (R-MO) voted to reject de-funding of inspections for equines for slaughter for human consumption. Only Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) voted to support continued de-funding of the inspections.
Without de-funding or prohibition of the inspections, commercial horse slaughter for human consumption is legal in the U.S.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) introduced the amendment to the House version of the bill that would have continued the de-funding of inspections for equines sent to slaughter for human consumption. Without the inspections which have been de-funded or prohibited since 2006, commercial horse slaughter has been illegal and would have remained so with the Moran amendment. But the Senate version did not include such an amendment, and the conference committee and, in particular, the chair persons, appointed to resolve differences between the House and Senate version, rejected de-funding.
President Obama, who has since his election turned a deaf ear to virtually every effort to stop animal cruelty, wasted no time in signing the measure. This despite his campaign promise in 2008 to support an end altogether to equine slaughter for human consumption.
Go here to find your 2 U.S. senators.
Go here to find your U.S. representative.
Call or fax them now and urge them to vote NO on H.R. 2112 as amended by the Conference Committee report on agriculture appropriations for FY 2012, unless a provision is added to de-fund inspections for equines for slaughter for human consumption. 
That is all you need to say! Or you can use talking points which you can findhere.
You can also reach your rep and senators by simply phoning the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 225-2771. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Representative or Senator's office you request.


The Opinionated Equestrian

Everyday I do a search for "equestrian" in the news. Most of the results are in regards to celebrities selling "equestrian" properties, and various other stories ranging from closures of riding centers, to reports of riders who were injured while in the arena or out on the trail. 

Today I saw a unique headline that immediately caught my eye. 

"Hot to trot: Saucy horse-riding students strip down to their riding boots for charity calendar (and become mascots for touring soldiers in the process)."

The article is about riders from Leed University's Equestrian Society, who made a calendar in which they wear nothing but black lace underwear and their tall riding boots, in order to raise money for the Otley and District Riding for the Disabled Charity. 

After the photos for the calendar popped up online, the team started getting messages from soldiers from Company A, Fifth Battalion The Rifles, who are currently touring in Afghanistan. The riders had become the company's official mascots. The girls, of course, were honored and sent the company signed calendars and promises to keep in touch. 

Stripping down for a good cause is nothing new. Plenty of celebrities, including Eva Mendes, Khloe Kardashian, Madonna, Amanda Beard, and Steve-O have all posed nude for PETA's "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaign. (Link NSFW) 

Personally, I think this group of equestrians has the right idea. After the initial shock of seeing tons of bare bottoms, I got over the whole nude aspect of these images and saw them for what they really were; a way for college girls to use their readily available resources in order to do something great for a local charity. If all it takes is a little side-boob to raise the money to fund practices such as therapeutic riding, then I'm all for it. I bet the soldiers aren't complaining either.

Does combining almost nude girls with the traditional sport of horseback riding disturb you or intrigue you? 


The Pinning Equestrian

You can now follow The Modern Equestrian pins on Pinterest by clicking here.


The Digital Equestrian

My friend sent me this video a couple weeks ago. It epitomizes any conversation I've ever had with someone who has no general knowledge of horseback riding. I'm sure all equestrians can relate.



Hickstead 1996-2011


The Design Savvy Equestrian

My love for all things equestrian covers a lot of mediums. Fashion design, photography, movies, artwork, etc, etc. Recently I have began thinking about how I could use my artistic eye, and the eye of my interior designer mom, to give my home an equestrian feel.

It all started with this bookshelf I found on Pinterest, which if you haven't discovered yet, is a great source for inspiration for just about anything you're interested in.

Hermes bag, check. Ribbons, check. Cool old box, check.

The image of this book shelf has been re-pinned the most out of all my pins. I love it for multiple reasons. I love the color of grey they chose. It may not exactly skew equestrian, but it lets the colors of all the different objects pop. I've already started gathering together different equestrian pieces that I could use to re-create this bookshelf.

Different angle. 

I thought I could spread the inspiration by sharing images both from my Pinterest board and a few other places. 

I'm currently working on getting a Pinterest account for The Modern Equestrian, but you can check out my personal Pinterest here.

Plenty of seats. 

Love how the orange brightens the dark color of the wood. 

Perfect color combo.

This wallpaper is incredible. Adore the ribbons on the inside of the closet. 

Very sleek and open feeling. 

Different view. The trophy shelf is great for displaying things without overcrowding the walls. 


The Photogenic Equestrian

I've mentioned before that I have an obsession with the website Judge My Ride, where people submit photos and videos for judging. It never ceases to amaze me the photos that people submit and expect proper judging. Photos taken in poor lighting, from too far away, from angles that obscure crucial judging places like the heels, or the horses hocks. The videos aren't any better, with people submitting videos so shaky that a few moments in I already feel like I have sea sickness. I admit that the riders are not the ones to blame when it comes to action shots and videos, since they have no control of what the person on the other side of the camera is doing. However they do have full control over what they submit to the site.

When I was in high school my journalism class went to a NSPA (National High School Journalism Convention) in Atlanta, GA. Since I was the sports editor of our paper at the time, I made a point of attending several sports photography seminars. Three, two-hour sessions later, I was surprised at how many great looking photos were actually deemed boring or unimaginative by my instructors.

Cut to 7 years later and a BA in Film, I'm finally starting to gain a firmer grasp on what makes a good photo.

Some people get lucky and can point their lens in any direction and end up with a great shot, but some people is not most people. It doesn't matter if you're taking a picture of a friend holding up the Torre di Pisa or going down the bank at Spruce Meadows, when it comes to picking up a camera there are going to be some rules.

1. Consider your environment to set up your shot: Is it sunny? Is it cloudy? Is there a busy background? Are you in a covered arena? Does the covered arena have areas of shade and sun? Are you close enough to the subject? Is there anything obstructing your view?

It is so disappointing to capture a great jumping shot only to see later that a lamp post behind your friend's head looks like it's literally growing out of her head. Or that the great shot you took of the Olympian doing a clinic at your barn, was taken from so far away that you can't tell if it's a famous rider or your dad in breeches.

The best thing about jumping classes is that you have several test subjects. It's great practice to take pictures of riders before your subject is on course. Figure out what fence offers the best shot. Ideally it is close enough to you to provide some good detail, yet far enough away to capture the horse and fence in its entirety. Make sure the sun is over your back to prevent shadows. Cloudy days or the end of the day are the ideal times for photos since they offer the best lighting.

Too far away, leg obstructed

Much better

 *This is me jumping on the bay for IHSA. I had the advantage of two photographers for these shots.

Angle 1. Far away, black jump is in foreground. 
**You can actually see the other photographer
 on the other side of the arena

Angle 2: Much closer providing more detail

2. Know your camera: How to turn on and off the flash. Know how to manually focus if the automatic focus isn't working for you. How to set the shutter speed for equitation on the flat vs. jump-offs. What is the ideal F-stop for what you want to take a picture of. Do you even know what F-stop means??

Most camera companies offer an online PDF of camera manuals. Simply type in the make and model of your camera and you're sure to find what you need. Not knowing if your camera has shutter lag can result in photos being taken too early or too late. Turning off auto focus helps to prevent shutter lag. Using a small aperture gives you larger depth of field, meaning more of your picture will be in focus. If your shutter speed is too slow then your pictures will turn out blurry. Ideally you should be using a shutter speed over 1/1000th to freeze your subject mid-air.

Photo is blurry

Photo is taken too early

Photo is taken too late

Nice clear action shot! 

3. What are you taking a picture of: Are you trying to sell your horse? Are you trying to get a good picture for a friend to submit to JMR? Are you trying to take a portrait of your best equine friend?

Whenever I take a picture I think of three things:

A. What is my subject doing that makes them photo worthy? If my horse is grazing in a field, that may be interesting to me but to other people that have seen thousands of pictures of horses grazing in fields, my subject isn't very interesting. Lets say my horse is grazing in a field and there are incredible snow capped mountains behind him and aura borealis is happening in the sky, that would be a damn cool picture. I'm not saying that the Northern Lights have to be in your picture to make it an interesting one, but if you want your photo to stand out, you have to start by thinking outside the box.

This photographer uses convenient lighting to make 
this picture of a horse standing in the barn more interesteing 

Literally googled "Horse aura borealis" 

B. What is the purpose of my photo? I understand that this seems similar to the title of "what are you taking a picture of" but think of this as having a more specific answer. The purpose of my photo is ___?
If you are trying to sell your 12 year-old thoroughbred equitation horse, you probably don't want to post a picture of your horse wearing a blanket and lying down in the mud. You want to use a photo of him looking his best. Mane braided, tail braided, coat shiny, and markings so white they look like they've been bleached. Just make sure that if you use a flat class photo, that your horse is singled out and preforming its best. I guarantee that will draw potential buyers to your horse.

If the purpose of your photo is to get some feedback on your horse's conformation on JMR, then I suggest taking that picture like you are a judge on JMR. The most common comment I see from Carol Dean Porter is "Please remove leg wraps and stand him up facing forward, with head held in normal position and legs separated by about 6 inches. Take the picture directly from the side and about even with his shoulder." Yet no matter how many times she comments with this answer, people still submit photos with legs cut off, horses in full tack, and horses standing in a field about 100 yards away from the camera. She doesn't say this for her health. Her advice is free, don't take advantage of her time too.

Good example of singling out a rider

Good example of a conformation photo

C. Is this the only angle/the only lighting/the only framing/ the only distance that I can get on this photo? Some photos are once in a life time opportunities. However, for the most part a horse show presents many opportunities to get similar shots. Jump-offs often include fences from the original course. One class may use the same jump for another. Therefore I always suggest playing with angles/lighting/lens length ect. in order to achieve the perfect photo.

Using a tilt-shift lens 

Low angles

Using colors for composition

The best advice for advancing your photography is to take pictures as often as you can. Learn from your mistakes and study up on professionals. Would love to see your photos if you have them.