Equestrian

A Tribute to Tim

Tim - Horse

{Tim & Me — March 2009}

Over the summer, I posted about my friend Tim. But he isn’t like most friends. He’s non-verbal, more than 1500 pounds, and will love you to death if you bring treats. Yes, Tim is a horse, and it is with great sadness that I must tell you of his passing. To read the full post about our bond, click here.

I was just finishing up kickboxing class on Saturday when I received a text message from Tim’s owner. The text read, “Tim is down and it looks like today is the day.” Tim had a wonderful life with his long-time owner, Loraine. Seriously, if I come back in another life, I’d like to be one of her horses.

Loraine owned Tim for most of his life. She purchased him when he was a youngster, around 5 years old, and he was in his late thirties at the time of his passing. He was a loyal companion, barn favorite, and easily identifiable with his big brown spots.

Tim - Horse

As I sat at my computer desk last night contemplating a topic for today’s post, I knew I had to honor Tim. He was a huge part of my life growing up and his photos still reside on my nightstand—long after my years as an equestrian.

I am so grateful that I had the privilege of knowing Tim. From riding him bareback on a warm summer day, to taking him down to the field for some grass, life always seemed a little brighter when he was in your presence.

The Hampton Classic Horse Show 2016

Hampton Classic 2016

I am sad to say goodbye to August today. I know that the summer is not technically over yet, but for me, the Hampton Classic Horse Show signals that the end is near. This year the horse show runs from Sunday, August 28th to Sunday, September 4th. Visit the show’s website to check the schedule of upcoming events, if you plan on heading out that way!

Hampton Coffee

This past Sunday, I made it out to Bridgehampton for the opening day. The weather was perfect and I arrived at the show grounds from my house in near record time (under an hour!) — despite leaving almost 30 minutes later than planned. The traffic was so light that I even squeezed in a stop at Hampton Coffee’s brick and mortar location for an iced cappuccino and a chocolate croissant (if you are short on time, they have a mobile unit on the show grounds so you can still get your coffee fix on).

Hampton Classic 2016

Hampton Classic 2016

Hampton Classic 2016

Hampton Classic 2016

My morning was occupied watching various classes in the jumper ring (which is located next to a nice tent that just so happened to be open to the public that day). Despite the cooler temperature, sitting under the hot sun at a horse show will still leave you feeling as though you are baking. The tent was a welcome respite!

Hampton Classic 2016

After getting a break from the sun under the tent and watching a few rounds of classes in the morning, I hit the Boutique Gardens for a little shopping. Of course, my first stops were GiGi New York and Jack Rodgers. Fortunately for me, the prices on almost everything were a bit more than I wanted to spend, so my bank account got a reprieve.

Hampton Classic 2016

Hampton Classic 2016

Hampton Classic 2016

Hampton Classic 2016

Hampton Classic 2016

Hampton Classic 2016

I hung around the show grounds all day waiting for the $30,000 Boar’s Head Open Jumper Challenge to take place in the Grand Prix ring at 2:00 pm. The Grand Prix is my favorite ring to watch on the show grounds. The horses compete on a grass field and the jumps are usually high (and often ornate). Watching anything in the Grand Prix ring is nothing short of spectacular.

Hampton Classic 2016

Hampton Classic 2016

Unfortunately, because I had been at the show since 9 am, by 2:30 pm I felt like I was frying in the sun. No amount of sunscreen or a second iced cappuccino offered any relief, so I ventured home.

Now that I made it out to the Hampton Classic, I feel like my summer has ended and I am ready to start thinking about Fall!

Horsin’ Around

Appaloosa Horse

Meet Tim! A thirty-something year old Appaloosa with an infectious personality that could rival most humans. Tim and I go way back — to my days when I used to ride regularly and spend most of my waking hours at the barn. While my life no longer revolves around horses, I made an exception this past weekend.

I haven’t seen Tim in seven years. Yet somehow, this cantankerous Appaloosa didn’t forget the sound of my voice, or that I nicknamed him “fluffy” because he always grew such a thick coat in winter. No, this senior horse knew me by the way I slipped the halter over his head and how I talked to him as we walked side by side in the courtyard. He recognized an old friend. For both of us, it was like we had just seen each other yesterday — without missing a beat. I guess that’s how you are with old friends.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, well known for an apt phrase, once commented “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” I’ve always found that it is impossible to be upset when you’re in the company of an animal — whether it’s a cat, dog, or horse.

Tim is quiet, seldom uttering horse sounds. Yet as a non-verbal animal, the best therapy I ever received was from Tim. He will unconditionally listen to anyone he meets, and he never passes judgement (unless you forget to give him a treat!). That’s the greatest characteristic anyone could ask for in a friend.

Styling a Cape with SheIn

Styling a Cape

{Cape: c/o SheIn||Sweater: Mossimo||Leggings: Mossimo||Boots: Franco Sarto}

This season, I am crushing on capes. What’s not to love about them? They’re classic, warm, and easy to wear over any outfit. So when SheIn, an online wardrobe company, asked me to select a piece from their collection to showcase on my blog, the cape was the clear winner. Even though I had made my decision, there were so many stylish pieces on their site ranging from dusters to leather jackets and long coats, that it became easy to second-guess myself and want one of each. But a cape that functioned as outerwear was missing from my winter wardrobe and I found myself returning to this item.

As a former equestrian, I knew this photo shoot had to incorporate a majestic horse. And a Friesian named Dutch was the perfect partner…just look at him! Luckily, my photographer also happens to be an equestrian and his owner, and was gracious enough to let me work with him for this shoot.

Styling a Cape

I have to admit that I have a newfound respect for those Ralph Lauren models. Working with a 1300-pound horse while trying to pose and look elegant proved challenging. Dutch was getting impatient, we were waiting for a reclusive sun, and we had to race to get the shots before darkness.

Styling a Cape

Styling a Cape with SheIn

I would never actually wear a cape to go horseback riding. But the fact that I pulled it off for this shoot is a testament to the comfort of this grey number. I stayed fairly toasty despite the relentless wind and quickly setting afternoon sun. The neutral color made it easy to pair this cape with virtually every outfit in my closet, and its attached hood is perfect for added warmth. Since I am petite, I worried that the cape would be too long on me, but the length worked and there was plenty of room underneath to pair it with a chunky sweater, as I did for this shoot. I adore the cape’s front opening; it allows for your outfit to peek out and eliminates the feeling that you are bundled under a coat. I wanted to infuse a pop of color to break up the black-and-grey color scheme, and chose a burgundy sweater to complete the look.

Styling a Cape

This cape would do justice to any superhero! But if you are a mere mortal, this versatile cape would go well over a cowl neck sweater and skinny jeans or a dress and tights. Have any traveling on your holiday itinerary? You’ll want to pack this along.

Styling a Cape

With the winter months approaching, be sure to visit SheIn for some fabulous fashion that will keep you cozy in style!

Please note: Always wear a helmet on horseback.

Photography by Vlad Polchaninoff

Treats, Throwbacks, and Thanksgiving

Happy Friday, friends! This is the time of year that goes by quickly. Before we know it we will be ringing in 2016. But for now, let’s start to focus on Thanksgiving and eventually make our way to talking about gift guides – crazy, right? In just about a week I will be celebrating a birthday and sharing what I’ve learned so far in my 20’s. It’s been a great year and one of immense personal growth for me, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. There is a lot planned for Living in Steil that I’m excited to share with you.

Last week, after searching for Halloween pictures from my childhood, I came across a few from my equestrian days that really brought back memories. I’ve always loved photography and finding these photographs reminded me of the importance of printing out my images. While Instagram is great for sharing pictures, nothing beats having a treasured photograph to hold. I’m so grateful that my grandmother still had all of her old photo albums, and it was nice to go through some of the good old times with her.

I hope you all have a nice weekend!

Starbucks Red Cup

{The red cup is back!}

Little Equestrian

{Memory Lane: A 1st place ribbon at my first horse show}

Pumpkin Donut

{Finally found a pumpkin donut}

Fall Leaves

{Lovely Leaves}

Restaurant Week Dessert

{A dessert from Long Island Restaurant Week. More to come on that soon…}

Highlights from the Hampton Classic

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Can you believe today is the last day of August? It feels like the whole summer flew by, but I was more than happy to spend the final weekend of the month at the Hampton Classic horse show. As is always, the event was fabulous, and the horses, riders, trainers, vendors, and everyone who came out and worked so hard to ensure the show’s success did an incredible job. This year I made it out to the show grounds twice and watched classes in all three rings (grandstand, hunter, and jumper). I couldn’t have asked for better weather and I enjoyed taking lots of photos…over 300 to be exact! Of course, I must thank Hampton Coffee Company for the much needed–and readily available–iced lattes. I will be ordering a supply of their coffee soon.

If you’re wondering about my outfit choices, the decision was difficult. I ended up choosing the white lace dress (what a shock!) and the navy number. The second day I was at the show it was hot and humid, so the white dress was a natural choice. Thank you to everyone who cast their vote and helped me narrow down my options. There is still a mystery dress waiting in the wings, but fear not, it will make an appearance soon.

Here are some of my favorite shots!

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Hampton Classic Horse Show

Check out my Instagram for some short video clips from the show!

The Making of an Equestrian

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In a few of my posts, I’ve alluded to the fact that I was an equestrian growing up. Over the weekend I spent a couple of hours at The Gold Coast Classic at Old Field Farm. This was the first time I have gone to a horse show at this venue, although I have passed the stables numerous times on my way to nearby West Meadow Beach. Nestled between The Old Field Club on one side and surrounded by water and the beach on the other, these stables are truly idyllic. They are in the process of being restored to their former glory, but in the meantime they are a tranquil setting for a horse show.

I spent the morning relaxing under the grandstand overlooking the main ring. I watched a few rounds of the hunter and equitation classes, which reminded me of my horse show days.

I began riding at the age of seven. I had been a figure skater until my parents decided to enroll me in a horseback riding summer camp at Thomas School of Horsemanship (TSH) in Melville, NY. That’s where my obsession with these majestic animals began. Even though it seems like an eternity ago, I vividly remember my first day of camp.

Summer camp began in late June. I knew no one at this camp, but quickly made friends with the horses. My first activity was a stable period where we learned to brush and tack the horses and also studied basic horse care. I was so excited for the riding part! The first horse I rode at camp was a palomino gelding named Tigger. He was very gentle and I spent most of that summer riding him when I could. I learned to walk and trot with him on my own. I felt like I was born to be on a horse. When it came time for our summer camp horse show, I showed on Tigger–and we placed first out of six riders in the ring.

I was sad when the summer came to a close and I thought I would have to say goodbye to the horses until next year. I had made lots of friends at camp and my love for horses was a complete obsession by now. In my free time, I read everything I could about riding and horse care, and I devoted hours to perusing the State Line Tack catalog making lists of items to purchase for my future horse.

Fortunately, my parents recognized how much I loved being with horses and kept me riding year round. I spent as much time as I could at TSH and went back to camp every summer.

By the time I was in middle school I was riding a minimum of three days a week. I had moved on to another stable in Huntington, NY and was working with a trainer regularly. I had always dreamt of owning my own horse one day, but understood the financial pressures that accompanied it. Prior to purchasing my first horse, I began leasing a horse at the barn and riding every day. Glory was a beautiful bay gelding. He was the perfect horse for me to start seriously competing on. I went to my first “away” show on him, and although we did not place, I learned a lot from the experience. After a few years with Glory, I was ready to move on to my own horse.

Steely was a beautiful 16.1 hand dappled grey gelding. He was 11 years old when we purchased him, and a great horse. Steely and I spent the first few months learning from each other. He was a show horse, but he was a bit out of shape when I got him. By the following summer we were off to the show ring. We competed in many local Long Island horse shows, but my dream was to compete in The Garden State horse show in New Jersey.

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{Steely and I at Good Sheperd Farm, Yaphank, N.Y.}

After suffering a setback with Steely (he tore a tendon and required rest for about six months), we were back on track and ready to head to Garden State. That show was my first competition off Long Island. We spent five days in New Jersey competing almost every day. By the time the show was over, we were both exhausted and Steely had earned quite a few days off. I was pleased with our placing at the show, and it still remains one of the highlights of my riding career.

I was about 16 years old when Steely got sick. I went to the barn one day and noticed that both his hind legs were inflamed and he was having trouble walking. I immediately called the vet in a full panic. The vet said Steely had lymphangitis and needed antibiotics, but should be fine. Yet each day I went to the barn, Steely seemed to deteriorate. My vet and I decided to send Steely to Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center, a specialty facility in New Jersey, for further tests and observation. Unfortunately, the diagnosis was uncertain and all I knew was that my friend was suffering. After Steely returned home to Long Island, it became clearer that the only humane decision was to euthanize my friend. It was an incredibly painful decision for me, but I knew that we had done all we could and it wasn’t fair to let my friend suffer.

After Steely passed, I didn’t ride for a while. I can’t remember how much time went by before I returned, but every time I looked at a horse I saw Steely.

When I went to the horse show over the weekend, there was a grey horse that reminded me so much of Steely when I first got him. I watched this rider and her horse gracefully glide over the fences and they worked so well together as a team – like Steely and I had.

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Although I sorely miss my days in the saddle, I am eternally grateful to my parents who understood my crazy obsession and did everything they could to nurture my talents as a rider. I feel like I grew up and matured at the stables, and riding also taught me important life lessons. Through Steely, I learned the importance of teamwork, hard work, dedication, patience, love, responsibility and forgiveness. As much as I enjoyed riding and showing, my first priority was always the well-being of my horse. If that meant missing a show or a lesson, so be it. I just loved being with Steely and grooming him, or taking him for some grass. For me, the love wasn’t purely for riding, it was also the nonverbal connection I had with my friend.