From the magazine
Each month, The Plaid Horse is proud to introduce readers to equestrian brands that value inclusivity and diversity in their products and their advertising.
Thoughts from Lela Reynolds, Founder
HOW MY PERSONAL STRUGGLES WITH BODY IMAGE INSPIRED A CLOTHING LINE THAT HONORS RIDERS OF ALL SIZES
As a younger girl, I was bullied in school for my weight. So much so that my mother pulled me out of school and wound up home schooling me. But, the rami cations of that made me lose weight (many of the body shamers are probably saying well, GOOD! That’s healthier!). Well…no. It wasn’t.
I developed unhealthy, disordered eating and did whatever I could to lose that weight. Whatever pill, powder, lack of food, over-exercise….you name it, I did it. And it worked. I was so thin for my height, it was almost unhealthy looking. All the way up until I was about 30, when one day I started gaining weight with no change in exercise or eating habits.
Fast forward six months and I had gained over 100 pounds. My self-worth was shattered because it was all tied to the size on my clothing tag. Suddenly I felt I couldn’t ride anymore—the way people treated me was terrible. I couldn’t find clothes to fit me, though I taught spin class- es still, and was [very] fit…though between chronic illness and a newfound metabolic disorder, I certainly didn’t look it.
So I created Cavaliere Couture. Comfortable clothing for equestrians of ALL sizes. Whether you are a size 0 or a size 24. There is no right size, and no one knows your health or your horse’s health but YOU.
My riding tights are sized from size 0-24 and the majority of our tops are from S-2 or 3XL (some 4XL!) Most other brands stop at
size 16/18, so we are proud of our size 24. Cavaliere Couture’s tagline is “Every body is an equestrian body,” and so it will always be! Every new product I create will always be with inclusivity in mind.
Thoughts from Shelly Watts, CEO of Muirneen Equestrian
Inspiring inclusivity is the mission of Muirneen. When my Taiwanese-American daughter begged me to take horseback riding lessons, I was over the moon.
My enthusiasm turned into sheer disappointment when we were shopping for equestrian clothing.
No one looked like us. Website a er web- site, magazine a er magazine. The models were just like the Victoria’s Secret models I was accustomed to growing up, making me feel insecure about my body as a teenager. Most equestrian brands stop at size 14—not even accommodating the average woman. I knew things needed to be different for my daughter and the next generation of equestrians.
Muirneen goes up to size 24; five more sizes than most equestrian brands.
Recently, we did a blind model casting call and asked for zero photos. We accomplished the most diverse and inclusive photoshoot in
the history of horse sports with twenty-four equestrian models.
I had no idea what most of the models looked like until the day of our photoshoot. It turned out amazing! I felt happy seeing so many models exchange phone numbers to stay in touch. We love building relationships in the equestrian community.
As an immigrant, I have felt the need to assimilate to feel included in different communities. Our barns and show grounds should be welcoming, thoughtful, and considerate of the vibrant, beautiful cultures and traditions that exist. This includes hairstyles, clothing,
languages, and tattoos. I wanted to show the equestrian community—and the world—that there is no certain way that an equestrian
You can be black or brown, wear your hair in braids, dye your hair purple, cover yourself with tattoos, use a wheelchair, or have one arm and still feel included and seen as an equestrian. We can depict this in our photoshoots, but as equestrians, we have to make these dreams into reality at our local barns.
Muirneen also hosts monthly townhall conversations with the equestrian community around important topics of diversity, body positivity, and kindness. The townhalls give an opportunity for the horse community to discuss important topics in an authentic and un alltered way. All townhalls include an ASL interpreter sponsored by Via Nova Training.
I started this company when shopping for riding clothing for my Asian-American daughter. But, it has become more than just a company. It has become a mission.
“Growing up riding, I was often the only brown girl,” says Muirneen model Krystle B. “My first job out of college was with a well-known equestrian retailer, and I noted that businesses owned by people of color were basically nonexistent. I love that Muirneen is owned by a person of color. I truly admire the diversity and inclusivity that Muirneen showcases, but especially love that the little brown girl in me is seeing other BIPOC women being represented in the equestrian community.
Thoughts from Jennifer Eisenberg, Co-Owner of R.J. Classics
Why does inclusivity matter to your brand?
At R.J. Classics, we prioritize inclusivity in our brand because we believe that every rider should feel comfortable and confident in their clothing, both on and off the horse.
We have always been committed to offering a wide range of sizes and lengths, including extended sizing which overlaps into plus sizing.
However, to further support the plus-size equestrian community, we are proud to introduce a new, dedicated line just for them. This line is specifically designed to meet the needs of plus-size riders, allowing them to celebrate body positivity and find riding apparel that promotes confidence.
Our new Ladies Plus Size line combines modern and timeless styles that are designed to last. We have incorporated durable materials and advanced technology to ensure that our products not only look great, but also provide long-lasting performance. R.J. Classics’ longstanding history of providing quality products with an impeccable fit ensures that no matter what R.J. style you are riding in, you will always look and feel your best.
What sets you apart?
We are incredibly proud to provide inclusive sizing options that cater to a diverse range of riders. What sets us apart, however, is our
commitment to developing a complete outfit collection specifically designed for the true plus-size figure. Rather than simply adding
sizes to our existing missy-size collection (00-16), we created our Ladies Plus line based on the shape and needs of plus-size individuals. Our extensive development process for this line included using experienced, plus-size t models, and a hiring a pattern maker who was experienced in developing plus-size lines for many ready- to-wear brands.
Our show coat and breeches are oeffred in sizes 18W-24W, and our shirts are offered in 1X and 2X. These sizes align with the sizing that plus-size riders typically look for in everyday clothing, creating a familiar and comfortable shopping experience.
By offering a comprehensive range of sizes, we aim to be a one-stop-shop for this customer, providing them with all of their riding wardrobe essentials. Our focus on inclusive sizing and attention to the needs of plus-size riders sets us apart and allows us to better serve them.
To further expand our brand and reach more equestrians of all sizes, we hope to partner with and support a plus-size athlete who can serve as a powerful spokesperson for body positivity on behalf of R.J. Classics. We strongly believe that all riders deserve high-quality clothing that fits them in a way that only helps them continue to pursue their passion.
Additionally, we are committed to expanding our line to o er a wider variety of options for all riders. This includes introducing fashion colors that are fresh, vibrant, and suitable for building a year-round riding wardrobe. By staying attuned to evolving trends and the needs of our diverse customer base, we aim to ensure that our brand messaging embraces inclusivity and inspires confidence in
equestrians of every size.