It’s 2016 and this year everything is going to be different! You have made a whole list of resolutions and it’s not even the end of January and you have already broken most of them. You know that gym membership is going to be wasted by February and the green healthy detox smoothie is getting boring already. I am a big fan of New Year – representing a fresh start but at the same time want to punch people in the face when they start quoting “New Year, New You”. Nothing magical happens after you go to bed on the 31st December (or 5am on the 1st January!). I wish it did but you are going to wake up the same person, let’s be realistic! So, rather than New Year, New You, how about we go for New Year, slightly edited and improved you?
In that light, I thought I would focus this blog on clothing. Bill Steinkraus wrote in his 1969 book “Riding and Jumping” – Every good rider I know takes considerable care of the essential tools of his trade; there are no ‘bonus points’ awarded for almost succeeding despite wretched equipment and it is not difficult to get it right, even if it takes a bit of fussing. Perhaps it’s true that only a bad workman blames his tools but haven’t you also observed that the best workmen somehow always seem to have the best ones?
I am not sponsored by or being paid to promote any of these companies – although I am open to offers…
– The Smart Boots. I am a traditionalist at heart and if I had my way no one would be riding in long boots on a pony under 148cm – why does this happen? But aged 17 and ready to enter the ring on my lanky and badly behaved 15 hander (yes, Pie!) I went to Horace Batten – I still have them 13 years on and they still look amazing. I have had many judges remark on how nice it is to see traditional boots too. Sadly, Horace died in 2014 (aged 102!) but his son and granddaughter continue to run the business – his granddaughter being the 7th generation of bootmakers.
– The everyday Boots. Marilyn Monroe said “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” Well, give me a pair of Ariats! My first job out of University was a maternity cover sales role for Ariat and I bought my first pair of boots (using my amazing staff discount) and I have never ridden in anything else since. I was always told to buy the best you can afford and look after it and that’s what I have done. My Devon Pro boots and Close Contact chaps are now 5 years old and still immaculate. And I love my Grassmeres for walking and winter riding. I don’t muck out in them so they aren’t eroded by acid, I don’t hose them off and then put them on the radiator to dry so they crack, and I do put some conditioner on now and again (well, my Grannie does!)
– My tweed jacket. If money is no object then go to Bernard Weatherill – they will make you a stunning made to measure jacket and you will love it. If you can’t then Showing Selection and Mrs Candy have some lovely ones (and occasionally you will even find a secondhand Bernard Weatherill). But I went for in the middle – I found a gorgeous tweed from Great Scot- Scotland Ltd and sent it with my jacket that I liked but didn’t quite fit right and this amazing tailor I met in Hong Kong made me a stunning new jacket. So I would definitely recommend Express Custom Tailors – email Andy on email@example.com (He makes smashing dresses, suits and shirts too if you send your measurements!)