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  • #tossbacktuesday


    About 1997 I decided to learn about reining. The sport was growing, I'd been able to watch some top-level competition at the NRHA Futurity for inspiration, and it looked like fun!

    After a diligent search, I bought a palomino mare in Colorado who had been shown quite a bit in the reining and seemed like a good match for my budding interest in running, stopping, circling, and 'twirling' as a friend's husband calls reiner turns. The mare was gentle, quiet, and sound and soon "Saffron" was on her way home to California to live with me.

    Although I only showed her a few times, the entire process of learning to ride Saffie was a wonderful exercise in absorbing a new riding sport. Having shown hunters, Arabians, and Paints in various events prior, it was indeed a new experience to really gallop, to twirl, and to master the speed changes necessary for good circles on a reiner.

    At our first show, I still remember the exhilarating feeling of galloping wide open in the show pen, in a huge arena... I could hear Saffie's hoof beats echoing off the solid wall of the indoor arena, and I felt that I'd never ridden so fast. Our rollbacks were good, twirls fine, stops so-so, but those circles felt like the best we'd ever done, with a soft, invisible 'kush' as we slowed from a hard gallop to a soft lope at center ring. Indeed, we plussed our circles that day... but watching later on video, it was amazing how not-really-fast we were galloping. It took me a long time to be brave enough to run as fast as that mare could safely go in the show ring, and to judge our actual speed.

    Schooling Saffron was a delight after I learned to ride her: we'd gallop in a huge circle in a big field or arena, as fast as she could run, then we'd slowly spiral in like a pinwheel, until she was describing a tiny loop- almost a canter pirouette- with each footfall distinct and slow until she felt like a carousel horse, more airborne than earthbound. Just before Saffron would have stalled from lack of forward motion, we'd oh-so-gradually increase the size and tempo of our circles until we were flat out again, describing nautilus trails in the arena sand.

    Saffron moved on to other pursuits, as did I, but I love this photo of us standing in a field of sunflowers in Temecula, California about 1998. My shirt was lace, one of the first times I can remember using that kind of textile for show apparel. The golden flowers make a perfect background for Saffie's golden palomino coat, and looking at the image reminds me how fortunate I have been to ride, and learn, from so many nice horses. Thank you, Saffie, for all the great gallops and for helping make me brave.





    Copyright 2017 Suzanne Vlietstra

    Writing or riding, Suzanne Vlietstra enjoys horses and their people. Vlietstra is president of Hobby Horse Clothing Company, www.hobbyhorseinc.com, manufacturer, and also the owner of a 50-horse boarding stable. Comments? E-mail them to suzi@hobbyhorseinc.com

  • #tossbacktuesday


    For this weeks #tossbacktuesday, we chose this photo and asked our President and Founder, Suzi Vlietstra, to tell us a little bit about it! Here's what she had to say:

    "This is a photo of the original Hobby Horse mobile shop from our first official year as an incorporated business in 1987. I drove from California straight through to Weatherford, Texas one weekend to pick up a 20' Wells Cargo vendor trailer, had my (old) logo and number painted on the side, and then off I went to horse shows around southern California almost every weekend. This photo is from a show at the old Pomona, California fairgrounds at the Carnation arena, sadly long gone.


    The trailer held sample garments as well as swatches of fabrics, leather, and Ultrasuede. Up on the wall is a frame with chap silver choices. People could visit with me at the shows and I'd measure them for chaps, western clothes, and saddle suits, and I also still made tack room curtains and horse blankets back then. Then I'd take clients' measurement forms and fabric choices and work with my tailor to make their clothes, and I'd make the chaps. I spent all day every Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles finding fabrics and trims for the outfits. After one fitting on the clothes, the customer would return to pick up their completed show outfits. I also colored western hats to match chaps and dyed nylon gloves to match their equitation suits.

    Every Hobby Horse outfit was custom made in those days, top to bottom. I worked this way for many years, making one of a kind garments, and that's how the Ready-to-Win show apparel concept came about. After being in the custom business for a long time, I sat down and averaged the measurements from years of custom orders, and discovered that about 80% of my customers fit into a range of about five sizes. Those fives sizes were the original of our Ready-to-Win patterns developed from custom orders and then translated into off-the-rack sizing that could be made faster and at much lower cost than custom, but with the style and fit show people had come to expect from tailor-made garments.

    From measuring people in my little trailer, then making their custom outfits, today's Hobby Horse was born... and the rest is history, as they say!"


    Copyright 2017 Suzanne Vlietstra

    Writing or riding, Suzanne Vlietstra enjoys horses and their people. Vlietstra is president of Hobby Horse Clothing Company, www.hobbyhorseinc.com, manufacturer, and also the owner of a 50-horse boarding stable. Comments? E-mail them to suzi@hobbyhorseinc.com

  • Goal Setting for 2017

    unspecified-46-copyThe end of the year is upon us. Some of us look at it as a chance for new beginnings and New Year's resolutions, and some of us look back on the year past and recollect where we achieved and where we fell short of our goals, whether that is in life or with our horses, riding or showing.

    Continue reading

  • Barn Workouts: Equipment Exercises & Hay Bale Routines

    robyn-hay-baleContinued from the last blog, Kelly Altschwager, of Western Workouts, teaches us how to do a rider specific workout using equipment we have around the barn. Last blog we talked about body weight exercises, and we will cover stretching and rider nutrition in later blogs!

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  • Barn Workouts: Body Weight Exercises

    body-weight-plankWe all struggle to fit a workout in with our hectic life schedule of work, family, friends, and horses. At the holidays, it can be even harder to fit in exercise, especially a trip to another location (gym). However, we all know that the extra calories at this time of year won't be welcome come New Year's! As riders and athletes, we can be benefited by specific exercises to strengthen certain muscle groups that will help us in our riding endeavors. Continue reading

  • Winter Barn Hacks

    winter-barn-hacksWinter is a great time to organize your barn and to increase efficiency, or just take care of some irritating chores around the horse housing. We've scoured the internet and here are our top tips. Continue reading

  • Giving the Best Horse Theme Gifts

    hobby-horse-giving-horse-giftsLast time we did the (slightly selfish) post on how to ensure we GET the best horse gifts ever, but how about the reason for the season, which is giving? This may be the most fun part of it, selecting the best gift for your trainer, barn staff, horsey best friend, or maybe your horse himself. Continue reading

  • Deck the Barn: Decorating for a Horse-Themed Holiday

    hobby-horse-deck-the-barn-with-holiday-decorWe spend a great deal of time in our barns, whether they are owned or a boarding barn. It's the place we enjoy our favorite pastime, RIDING, hang out with our four-legged BFF, and enjoy our barn friends, many of which understand us and our horse habit better than anyone in our families. So why wouldn't we want to get in the spirit of the season at the barn? Continue reading

  • Holiday Horse Gift Roulette

    hobby-horse-gift-roulette-for-horse-peopleAs horse enthusiasts, we have all dreaded opening the gift from our significant other, mom, or well-meaning Aunt Rose, when, as we are unwrapping, they say "I know how much you LOVE horses, so I just knew when I saw this that it was meant for YOU!" Especially when they don't know a snaffle from a fetlock. All of us have that fuzzy horse sweatshirt, stuffed animal (that we got at age 27) or funny cartoon mug when we really needed a new show shirt or saddle pad. Continue reading

  • Judge's Show Tips: Tack

    Hobby Horse western tack bridleIn past weeks, we have given tips from Jennifer Moshier, a judge for many different breed associations, on her "judge's tips" for show ring fashion. This week, we delve into horse tack: what is appropriate, what is not in style, and what are some judge pet peeves on horse wear for the show pen. Continue reading

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