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Social media is so powerful and touched my life in so many ways, to include connecting with riders around the world. I have built a friendship with Kayla and her horse Wayward Blue Jeans who are living in Lubumbashi, Congo. I love seeing their bond so much so that I have decided to launch another highlight series called Bonding Highlight. I am so inspired by the passion that Kayla has to keep working with Blue Jeans and the gift of that bond. No matter what continent you are from or live on, a bond with a horse is extraordinary. Check out more of Kayla's journey below.
Where are you from and when did you start riding?
I am originally from Port Elizabeth, South Africa but now live in Lubumbashi, Congo for just over a year now. I have had a passion and love for horses since a very young age. I started riding properly (Lessons etc) in high school for my school. Had to stop for a little after high school as I started studying in Port Alfred but that didn't stop me completely LOL. My friend had a farm just outside Port Alfred so we used to go on trail rides along the beach. Anytime I could I would be there with a horse named Summer.
What horse opened your heart to the deep connection between a rider and a horse?
The horse that has completely and absolutely stolen my heart is Wayward Blue Jeans. I met him in Congo. I went for my first lesson on a horse called Rakaan and I battled with him so much so I asked my trainer which other horses I would be riding as I am quite tall so I would need the bigger horses at the stables and he mentioned Blue Jeans, so I walked around the stables to find his stable and as I came close to it he wanted to bite me and wouldn't let me near it. I was a bit worried at that stage as I couldn't even get close enough to pet and love him.
I rode him for the first time and I fell in love and I have been very patient and persistent (but as his own pace) with him to get him to where we are today. I trust him with everything when I am with him.
I started with just spending time with him at this stable, showing him that I am not going to hurt him and giving him treats when he allowed me to pet him and be around him. He carried on trying to bite me every now and then but he got much better as time went on. I realized that not many people like him or enjoy him at the stable because he really is a difficult horse, but to me - he is everything! I have started spending time with him outside the saddle and also taking him outside the stable because I don't think he gets out too much, and since I started doing that - I have felt our connection grow and grow.
Who is your favorite horse now and what is your favorite time together?
Wayward Blue Jeans. My best time with him is when we are in the arena together and we just work together so well. Another one of my favorite times with him is when I am finished my lesson and I go and wash him, this is really our one on one time together, there are moments we just look into each others eyes and I put my hands on his pink nose (yes he is a grey and yes those pink noses are the cutest in the world :)) and I just talk to him. This is something so special to me because I know he trusts me, from not being allowed to touch his face or nose to be being right there looking into his eyes and he just stares back at mine. This shows me that our time together is making a difference for him. I think he can feel the love I have for him which I don't think he has had much in his life. Before me I don't think he knew the love a human can give.
Who do you look up to in the riding world and why?
I am rather going to say who I look up to in the Instagram riding world :) one of my favorite people in riding is @evaursin, she has got such a special connection with her horses and I absolutely love how she looks after them. I also absolutely love @swingjynx as her horseman ship with Jynxy is unbelievable! I believe that horses is not only about riding the and competing in the greatest shows and always trying to place in a show, I believe that the connection you have on the ground is what is most important and once you have that, you have everything with a horse. @LifeEquestrian is also one on my favorites as she has such a special bond with Capri and they jump magnificently together. She also has that connection on the ground with Capri and of course he is also a grey <3
What about the bond with a horse is special to you?
I often say that if you not a horsey person or not someone who has been around horses or rides horses, you don't really know what we mean by saying that there is such a connection with this horse. I must be honest, I had never felt the trust and connection between a horse before until I met Blue Jeans. There was one time especially when I knew I had all my trust in him. We were jumping in the dressage arena as the jumping arena was busy getting ready for the big international show that we have in Lubumbashi every year. We were jumping 6 jumps with incredibly tight turns and as you know a very small space compared to a jumping arena. It was the first time I was jumping with Blue Jeans in this arena and this is where I felt it. I trusted him with my whole heart to get me over all those jumps and I was not afraid at all, I was not nervous, I just trusted him. It was honestly the most amazing feeling in the world.
The bond between a horse and rider is so special because once you have that trust with each other, I believe you can do anything with that horse and that horse will take you places you have never been or seen before.
Follow Kayla-Rae and her bond with Blue Jeans
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A passion for animals, design and functionality makes it tricky to find just the right jewelry piece that works and fits with the equestrian lifestyle. I'm always looking for beautifully designed jewelry that can tolerate heavy use. When I found AU | Rate I was scrolling through Instagram and was pleasantly surprised by the aesthetic of their IG account. Being aesthetically pleased is far from wearing and loving the jewelry so I took the plunge and ordered the MiniCharm Pyramid Bracelet and Twist Ringand I couldn't be happier. Both the ring and bracelet mesh well with my current collection of jewelry and wear well under my riding gear.
I tend to swap out my bracelets a lot so the stackable twist ring has become an everyday staple for me. I love pairing it with my other stackable rings or keeping it solo for a clean look. I like that its so dainty and light that I forget Im wearing it.
Receiving the jewelry in a pretty package is half of the fun and AU | Rate did just that. I have to say that their packaging is amazing. The beautiful suede bag that each piece came in all wrapped up in this beautiful box. What a delight to receive. You can feel very confident that whoever you send this gift to will be happy with the wrapping alone.
"The perfect equestrian stocking stuffer"
I always love supporting small businesses, especially ones that give-back, check out their giving-back campaign.
Check out AU | Rate New York:
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As an equestrian we are always looking for comfort and functionality. When we are on our horses, our mind is focused on the connection with our animals versus how we feel....although, this isn't always the case. It's brutal to try to connect with a 2,000 lb animal when our equipment is failing us. Now there is a savior for our feet....Foot Huggies to the rescue!!
There are a few different sock brands on the market and while all of them offer something unique and functional to riders, Foot Huggies is one that really stands out to me. Their socks are not only comfortable and stylish but they are designed with a rider in mind.
I love that they come in ultra thin and original thickness so I can wear them with both of my tall boots. The thicker pair I like to wear with my Parlanti'sto give ample protection while my Fabbri bootsare a snugger fit so I need a thinner sock to fit inside the boot.
I have been riding in these socks for the past few months and am very happy with them. They wash well, wear well, and keep my legs protected while riding multiple horses. They are a fantastic way to surprise your favorite equestrian.
Check them out online here:
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There are some fabulous Equine focused subscription boxes out there.....this is indeed one of them!
Mane 2 Tail Mailnot only has a super catchy name but the bundle of goodies are well thought-out and a treat for any equestrian. For $39.99 this box has a variety of super useful and fun barn products, perfect to spoil yourself or makes a great giftfor the gift giving season quickly approaching.
My Favorite part about this subscription box is that EVERYTHING is useful! An equestrian can never have too many combs, tail bags, hay bags, treats, water bottles, etc. I always look to learn something new from these boxes and this one did just that. I LOVE the apple cinnamon horse treats, I even tried a taste and they would definitely curb my hunger when in need. The hay and tail bag are PERFECT to keep in a trailer for hauling or for everyday use to add a pop of color. I love the water bottle too, keeping it in my tack box for those super hot days.
This subscription box is worth its value...don't miss out on this fun treat!
Check out my subscription box opening below:
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Salt and Lace Intimates brings just the perfect balance of sweet and sassy for an equestrian on the go. I love bringing the barn with me when I'm not riding. Pairing the Sweetwater Button Down Midiwith my Parlanti paddock bootsand a wool felt fedorahat...even Cal approved of the outfit, once he noticed it ;-)
The subtle flair of the skirt brings a romantic feeling when your turn around the corner to your next appointment. I couldn't help but feel like a hopeless romantic with an equestrian flair. With just the right amount of peak through the lace, it's perfect for day, night, barn or errands.
"Save 15% with code HELEN15"
In Southern California its generally always sunny so a light lace dress is the perfect match for summer, fall, winter and spring. For fall and winter this dress pairs so well with a denim jacket and tall boots.
Photography: Kristin Lee
My other fav by Salt and Lace is the London Streets Satin Camipaired with black Struck breeches, Hermes belt, Denim shirt by Silver Oaks Farm, and Parlanti tall boots. I went for a lunch in this outfit and quickly realized how fun this outfit would be for a dressier look by swapping the tall boots with a pair of mules or espadrilles. There is something sweet and sassy about a black lace cami and its hard to find one in the right
weight that sits well while not being too thin. After all, we want to keep some things to the imagination.
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