The Best of 2018: Top Hunter/Jumper Blog Posts


It’s been a big year in the hunter/jumper world! Here at The Plaid Horse we’ve put a spotlight on amazing kids, top trainers, controversial opinions and big discussions.

We’re looking forward to 2019 and continuing to bring you personal stories, news and more, but as we wrap up a great year let’s take a look at our top blog posts in 2018.

10. Riders, Body Image and “The Look”

If this is what it means to “have a butt,” so be it. Photo © Shawn McMillen


“So I asked one of the store employees, who checked me out from all angles before deciding that I needed a long, rather than the regular length. I slipped off the coat I’d been eyeing and tried on the long coat she handed me. She nodded her head. “Much better,” she said. “You’re curvy, so you need the extra length.”

Whoa. I’m sure I’m not the only woman who thinks twice about that “c” word. Did she mean I have boobs? Thank you, captain obvious, I’m a grown woman with two young children. Or was she calling me fat?” Read “Riders, Body Image, and ‘The Look’.”

9. Can a Braid Kill Tradition? The Helmet Hair Debacle


“Recently, I seemed to have caused quite a ruckus by announcing that I would be wearing my hair down outside of my helmet in a braid for the fore seeable future in the name of safety. Anyone outside of the sport would have had the initial reaction ‘by God that seems bloody obvious that a person would want to prevent injury’. Instead, the reaction I got was a mixed bag of everything from three cheers for safety to outrage over the loss of tradition, the appearance of a braid, or the fact that brand of helmet I choose to wear is ugly.” Read “Can a Braid Kill Tradition? The Helmet Hair Debacle.”

8. Why I Still Ride When It Hurts My Body (and my checking account)

Photo courtesy of Lauren Mauldin


“Recently I was asked what inspired me to become an equestrian. I didn’t have a great answer. Like most of us battered adult amateurs, I’ve loved horses since before I could remember. My dad used to take me Sunday driving around the country outside the suburbs where I grew up just so I could look at horses out the car window. I begged and begged to ride until my family agreed to weekly lessons at a friend of a friend’s small barn. There wasn’t a specific moment when I woke up and thought, I should be an equestrian! It’s been essential to my core since before I even sat on a horse.” Read “Why I Still Ride When It Hurts My Body (and my checking account).”

7. The Icons Are Falling


“The icons are falling, the icons are falling- get out of the way. Jimmy Williams may be the first to fall, but he will not be the last. The Williams nightmare is an old story, hearsay cemented into fact through consistent and reliable repetition. When the silver cowboy hat quietly disappeared from the USEF Horseman of the Year ceremony, another brick was placed in the wall of truth. Rather than approach the issue of sexual impropriety head on, USEF chose to quietly retire the trophy and erase the name Jimmy Williams from an award. Innuendo and rumor galvanized into truth through the brave testimony of victims. He did it.” Read “The Icons Are Falling.”

6. From Bullied to the Barn: #makingmclain and the Trainer Who Makes It All Possible

Photo courtesy of Megan Hoffman


“That’s when it dawned on me — this it. This is real. My child had found his thing. His passion. Thirteen others later, we found the one. He was just grumpy enough to teach Zig a thing or two, but trained enough to help him build that fragile confidence.” Read “From Bullied to the Barn: #makingmclain and the Trainer Who Made it All Possible.”

5. The 2’6” Hunter Division is the Face of Income Inequality in America

Photo by Lauren Mauldin


“If you can pay to play, should you spend for a week at a winter circuit for this division? Is 2’6” part of the “sport” or part of the “industry?” Is it outreach and a pipeline or a final destination? Is it a valid goal? Should you be able to enjoy the upper level of our sport even though you don’t compete at the highest levels?” Read “The 2’6″ Division is the Face of Income Inequality in America.”

4. A Barn Owner Responds to the “Ethics of Employment”

Photo by Lauren Mauldin


“I agree that anything easily lost isn’t worth having. I also agree that good help is hard to find, but it’s also easy to keep. The art of ethics of employment is quite simple: treat your employees the way you would want to be treated. I would be lying if I said that I’ve never needed to ask a groom to rewash legs, or be more diligent about drying after. But I can promise that I’ve never said it in a way that would prompt him to up and leave the next day.” Read “A Barn Owner Responds to the ‘Ethics of Employment’.”

3. Toxic Trainer Relationships: What to Watch Out For When Finding the Best For You and Your Riding

Photo by Erica O’Neil


“A toxic trainer can kill someone’s love of riding faster than just about anything. From verbal to sexual abuse to simply playing favorites, trainers who are negative influences in our lives do way more harm than good – no matter how many ribbons they have on the banner.

How do you recognize toxic traits in a trainer? It can be so hard to know whether something is actually wrong, or if we’re just overreacting. The important thing to remember is that if you’re feeling bad more often than good, something is amiss.” Read Toxic Trainer Relationships: What to Watch Out For When Finding the Best for You and Your Riding

2. The Ethics of Employment in the Horse Industry

Photo by Lauren Mauldin


“During the recent winter circuit in Wellington, there was a lot of chatter among professional trainers and riders regarding the arduous task of finding and keeping qualified help to manage barns and groom horses. Numerous texts circulated among trainers asking if anyone knew of grooms looking for a job. Many had horror stories about staff walking out all at once, people not showing up, etc. Others had staff, but they felt they just had no work ethic and had to be monitored constantly. I started to think a lot about this and I began to wonder how the ethics of employment in the horse industry had become a forgotten art. When did people stop caring about pride in a job well done or how walking off the job reflected on their character- and worse how doing so affects the rest of the staff and the horses they were charged to care for?” Read The Ethics of Employment in the Horse Industry.

1. The Suicide Conversation We Should Be Having Before “They Will Be Missed”

Photo by Lauren Mauldin


“The equestrian sport trains people to be tough. Keep your emotions out of the ring. “Hospital or back on.” Don’t get me wrong – I love that about us, but when it comes to mental health… we need to be gentle.

We need to be able to say that we’ve had a hard time in the past, or we’re having one now. We need to look out for each other. We need there to be no consequence if or when an icon in our sport says, “I’m struggling.” Because statistically, someone is.”  Read “The Suicide Conversation We Should Be Having Before They Will Be Missed”

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