Above photo: Founder and creator of Struck Apparel, Kevin Maxie, showing in Struck breeches with Carino.
By TPH Brand Ambassador Eden Pessin
There are a lot of amazing Canadian equestrian brands and, if you follow me on social media, you know one of my all-time faves is Struck Apparel. Struck makes the comfiest breeches I have ever worn. I got my first pair 3 years ago and I still have them. I dare you to try to get them away from me. But I have also become really good friends with the founders and creators of Struck Apparel, Ashley Glanc and Kevin Maxie.
I always look for Ash and Kev at horse shows and, when they see me, they always invite me to hang out with them. They introduced me to “jumperland”, even teaching me to set jumps for Kevin in Grand Prix warm-ups, and were a big part of my decision to try a jumper this year. Hanging out with Kev and Ash makes me even happier than wearing their breeches (if you can believe it), so I wanted everyone else to learn more about these awesome friends of mine!
What made you want to start a breeches company?
Ashley: We never actually set with the idea to start a breeches company! Kev came home one day wearing an awful pair of green breeches. They were very tight, and not particularly good looking, but they were the only pair close to his size, and they were on sale. He looked like Robin Hood: Men in Tights. We thought that there had to be a better option, especially for men, and it kind of took off from there. We started looking into clothing manufacturing and fashion design, and that’s where it all started. The more the idea began to take shape, the more we realized there was something missing in the breeches that were available. We really felt we needed a brand that would showcase the athletic side of riding, one that had SPORT in mind. That has been our mantra since. Riding is a sport. We should dress like athletes.
What are some of the inspirations for your brand?
We tend to draw inspiration from a lot of other brands that are not equestrian related. Following successful athletic companies like Nike, Lululemon, and Under Armor, all whom have revolutionized the way we view sportswear, helps us shape our own design ideas. We also closely follow sportswear and athleisure trends, in order to create clothing that works and performs for athletes.
What are some features of Struck Breeches?
Struck breeches are not about tradition. They were designed with the athlete first. While we try to still try to respect the traditions of the sport and its restrictions in competition, our breeches really try to address the physical demands of riders and riding. They aim to put the comfort and performance of the rider at the forefront. We use the best fabrics and inputs available, designs that eliminate rubs and pressure points, and are always evolving to create breeches that help riders look and perform their best. We are always on the search for new and creative way to improve our brand. We are also manufactured locally, and we believe our workers should be treated and paid fairly while they help Struck come to life.
Will you be expanding your product line beyond breeches some day?
The thought has definitely crossed our minds! We already have some awesome designs for tops and show shirts, and great ideas about show jackets, but right now our focus is on pants. We’ve only scratched the surface of what we hope to make and have so many other designs and models we would love to bring to life. We really have only tapped into the hunter/jumper market. We really want to focus on expanding into other disciplines, like eventing and dressage, and offer breech lines specific to them. We don’t ever want to lose sight of creating innovative clothing for athletes, so we feel if we can’t improve or dramatically change a product that is already out there, then we aren’t going to add it to our line.
If you didn’t own an equestrian apparel business, what else would be your dream job(s)?
Ashley: I’m not sure! I really love what I do and I really couldn’t imagine loving anything quite as much! I have a degree in Criminal Justice and Public Policy, as well as Interior Design. I am also super artistic, and have always loved and studied Art History. Forever, I wanted to work in Art Conservation and Restoration. Thinking about it now though, I would definitely love to work for an Architectural Firm or work for a Marketing and Advertising agency. I enjoy creating graphics and marketing campaigns surrounding our brand, so I feel it’s something I could sink my teeth into. I really love working with Struck, because I get to combine my love for horses, design, and marketing and branding strategies… it’s kind of the perfect marriage.
Kevin: It’s hard to imagine life without Struck right now! It is such a central focus of our lives and combines our shared passion and individual skills so well. However, if Struck didn’t exist I think you would find me teaching at a university somewhere in the world. Previous to Struck I spent an unusually long span of time in universities across Ontario, including Guelph, Toronto and Western. As a grad student I had the opportunity to teach some interesting courses and met great students along the way. The teaching aspect really appealed to me, far more than writing grant proposals for research projects!
You both show on the Ontario “A” Circuit. Tell us about your horses!
Ashley: I actually own two horses! I still own my very first horse Selena, who is now happily retired and living the luxurious life of a pasture puff. Doctrino (Doc) is my competition partner and he and I are currently competing in the 1.20m Jr/Am jumper division. He is a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Indoctro. To be honest, Doc looked like a shaggy pony when we first met him as a 6 year old. He had never set foot off-property, and was gelded right before I bought him. So, our first season together was a pretty steep learning curve. I’m relatively new to showjumping and he and I basically learned together. But with a lot of hard work and luck, he’s turned in to a great partner, and I’m excited to see what we can do together. He can be a bit of an introvert, so his teddy bear Waffles is always with him, especially when he travels. He definitely still has a bit of a naughty pony streak, so he always keeps me on my toes. He’s actually afraid of his own shadow when we’re flatting, but is so brave in the ring. He really enjoys competing; it’s like he puts on his game face when he’s at a show. He’s a bit of a ham too! When he’s warming up, if he has a super jump early on in the warm up ring, he likes to hop and play on the backside like he’s saying “look at me, look what I can do!” He is honestly the most fun!
Kevin: My horse is Carino and he’s a grey 10 year old Hanoverian gelding by Converter. Carino is equally the most talented, but also the most difficult horse I’ve ever ridden. I’ve been riding him since he was 5 and have owned him since he was 6. We did some young horse classes during our first season together but, despite jumping some spectacular jumps, we didn’t complete very many rounds without stopping dead somewhere in the ring to stare at a scoreboard or flower-pot or shadow. In short, he’s super careful and very scopey, but a bit of a chicken when he sees something that he feels is out of place! Since then, we’ve had quite a few wins and some spectacular losses. This season we’ve made positive progress with his confidence and have racked up wins in the Jr/Am 1.30m and Open 1.35m jumpers. Hopefully we can finish the season strong in the Jr/Am 1.40m and next year continue on from there! Carino has no shortage of personality and is a character in the barn. He’s notoriously crabby when being groomed or tacked up and has managed to nip me on the arm more times than I can count. Really, he prefers Ashley way more than me when being handled and is generally a puppy dog for her. Under saddle is a different story and he and I have a great partnership. I’m excited to see what we can do together from here, but I’m also just as happy taking him for a nice hack on the farm.
Do you have any funny horse show day rituals or superstitions?
Ashley: We kind of have our routine with the horses that we always do, so I would consider it our own kind of ritual. I always bathe and braid the horses in the morning before a show, while Kev packs all the tack and equipment into our trailer. It’s kind of our thing, so I always know we have everything we need at the show, and Kev always knows the horses are well-groomed and ready to horse show.
For Carino though, I always walk him to the ring before a big class. He loves to mosey with me down to the ring, checking out his surroundings. I also always keep carrots in my backpack for after the class. Carino always gets a piece of carrot as he walks out of the ring. His favorite thing is searching for the carrots in the backpack while we walk down to the ring. He will poke his nose in every possible pocket and fold, trying to steal it before we get down there! As for superstitions, I don’t really have anything I adhere to. I always put my left spur on first, and if I have a good class in a particular jacket, I try to wear it again the next day!
Kevin: I’m not particularly superstitious but I do have a lucky pink tie and I find things go better if I’m wearing mis-matched socks!
If you could have dinner with any three equestrians (dead or alive), who would you invite, and what would you serve for dessert?
Ashley: Wow that’s a toughie!! I would probably pick Bert De Nemethy, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (he’d have to bring Casall), and Luciana Diniz! I think I would serve apple crisp for dessert, because I love baking it, everyone likes apple crisp, and if they don’t finish it their horses can eat it!!
Kevin: My three dinner guests would include Bill Steinkraus, who balanced being an incredible rider while having a successful career as a lawyer. Also Marcus Ehning, because he’s a consummate horseman and seems like a bit of a weirdo. Last, but not least, I’d invite Eric van der Vleuten who is simply a genius at figuring out how horses want to be ridden. Plus he’s Dutch and the Dutch seem to enjoy a good party. We would roast marshmallows for dessert around a roaring fire!
If you could free lease any FEI horse, which one would it be and why?
Ashley: Definitely Casall Ask. I am so in love with him, it would be a dream come true! He is such a competitor, and is so brave and careful. I love how he fires over the jumps, and he literally seems to know what is on the line when he’s competing; he has that competitive fire. It doesn’t hurt that he’s super cute too!
I think a close second would be Luciana Diniz’s Fit For Fun. She is such a lovely horse and I love her style. She seems like a dream to ride and just a trier. I love that she’s a bit quirky too, and seems to love playing in the ring.
My third would be Fibonacci, just because of his sheer scope and power over fences. I would love to know what his jump feels like, though I would probably get blown clear out of the tack.
Kevin: I would love to ride Quabri de L’Isle who is currently ridden by Pedro Veniss of Brazil. He has incredible technique and canters around 1.60m tracks like an equitation horse. He seems like a nice type with just the right amount of get up and go!
If you could choose any song for them to play for you during your victory gallop, what would it be?
Ashley: I would love “Happy” by Pharrell Williams! I feel it’s something that I play whenever I need a pick me up, plus it has the catchiest rhythm ever!
That or Hooked on a Feelin’ by Blue Swede!
Kevin: Hands down, Black Betty by Ram Jam. How can you not get pumped when you hear it?!? You’d have to fade out before the big guitar riff though… I’m not sure there are a lot of horses who’d appreciate it.
What other animal do you think is your horse’s spirit animal?
Ashley: I say Carino’s would be a cat. He can be picky about what kind of attention he likes, and is also kind of bitey, but also loves to be cuddled (but definitely on his own terms).
I think Kevin is Doc’s spirit animal! They love each other- they have this ridiculous bromance… Doc loves to scratch himself on Kev’s beard! But actually it would probably be a peacock. He thinks he’s super pretty, but is definitely kind of flighty.