August 20, 2015

Back-to-School(ing) Shopping

Back to school is a time that typically consists of a lot of shopping, from clothes to school supplies you may find yourself on a few shopping trips. In my opinion the best kind of shopping is for things of the equestrian nature. Equestrian style is everywhere, with people wearing riding boot look-alikes, and pants that closely resemble breeches as a fashion statement. And on the streets of midtown Manhattan, I once saw a woman wearing English riding-style boots complete with gold-tone spurs! Even though I ride English, I have a pair of Justin western boots that come in handy for spirit days at school. I also have a few Joules polo shirts I regularly wear not just when ridding.

As a member of the Washington International Horse Show Junior Committee, I have the opportunity to help choose what items will be sold at the show. From stuffed animals to hats and logo shirts there’s always lots of fun equestrian-related apparel to buy at WIHS as well as at many other horse shows. The Maryland Horse Council even has logo wear available here.

Getting catalogs and going though them page-by-page is fun, and ordering online can be simple. Online shopping can make bargain hunting easier, but you don’t always know what you’re getting, since items might not fit. Often you have to pay shipping, and have to send things back if there’s a problem. Shopping in person at a saddlery or tack shop can help you avoid some of the challenges posed by online shopping, especially when you need things to fit exactly or look a certain way. For boots, helmets, or show coats, it is beneficial to go to an actual store to get expert advice and try on the products to ensure they fit well, and make sure you are getting the product you want the first time before making a purchase. Because as we know, equestrian gear can be very expensive!

My young neighbor, Allie, whom I frequently babysit, recently attended her first horseback riding camp this summer. Allie needed to get some gear for the camp, and with this being her first time buying equestrian things, I recommended she visit one of my favorite shops, The Surrey Saddlery in Darnestown, MD.


The Surrey Saddlery in Darnstown, MD
(photo from The Surrey Saddlery Facebook page:

She bought riding tights as well as paddock boots with the help of the store’s staff who advised Allie and her mom on what to purchase. Allie said, “The stuff worked out great, and I had a fabulous time at camp!” It is very useful, especially for your first equestrian shopping experience, to go shopping in person where you can get advice on what to buy and how things should fit to ensure you have the correct and safe gear for your first equestrian experience.

Grey Pony

The Grey Pony Saddlery in Highland, MD (photo courtesy of Holden Rafey)

I also spoke to Lynn Gorman at the Grey Pony Saddlery in Highland, MD, where I bought my very first pair of paddock boots. She emphasized how important it is, especially when shopping for show clothing, to go to a saddlery in person to make sure the show clothes fit correctly. Ms. Gorman said that approximately 30% of their customers are young children who are buying clothes for their first horse show, and that the saddlery helps these first-time showers by “answering questions and clearing up misconceptions” to make sure they buy the right things for their first horse show. Ms. Gorman said, “I love helping first-timers and seeing how happy they – and their moms – are with everything. There’s so much to be learned just by actually seeing and feeling the clothes and tack, in addition to the fit.”

Another benefit of going to tack shops is consignment. I personally have bought a lot of really nice things on consignment for much cheaper than they are new, and the things I have bought seem as good as new. Consignment is also a great way to sell things that you no longer use or that no longer fit, but are still in good condition. Whenever you’re at a tack shop I think it’s always worthwhile to take at least a peek at the consignment section, you never know what you’ll find!








My name is Holden Rafey, and I am honored to be serving as the Maryland Horse Council’s Youth Correspondent. As the MHC Youth Correspondent, I will be posting monthly to this blog about horse-related topics in the state of Maryland to give a youth perspective and share information on topics of interest to MHC youth members. I live in Montgomery County and attend Walter Johnson High School, where I play softball and field hockey. My equestrian trainer is Melinda Cohen, and I ride at her barn, Dream Catcher Farm, in Frederick County. In addition to being the Youth Correspondent for the MHC, I am also serving on the Washington International Horse Show Junior Committee and hope to see lots of Maryland barns represented at Barn Night!

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