EFO 'Rider of the Month'
When did you first begin riding and why?
My riding journey started when I was in grade three after my sister and I had spent over 3 years tormenting my mother to buy us a dog. With only an appreciation for animals, my mother would have never welcomed a dog with open arms into our house- so she got my sister and I into horseback riding. To her, this was a quick and easy fix to all her dog related problems. If we are being honest, at the beginning I was terrified of horses and refused to ride any other horse that wasn’t a little chestnut Shetland called James.
What is your favourite childhood memory involving horses?
My sister and I really bonded when riding together, we really only had each other. I remember one of the horses I would ride when growing up, was such a nuisance to get from the paddock, but my sister never failed to catch her for me every time. She doesn’t ride anymore but our lessons together were always the highlight of my week!
What led you to developing Eyes Up, Darling and why?
Eyes Up, Darling was created as a creative outlet to express myself, it was a way for me to combine my professional skills and my passion. Going into this journey I wasn’t aware of the extreme lack of diversity, but once I was fully immersed in the online community, it was obvious there was a missing link. The lack of diversity drove me to continue developing Eyes Up, Darling to what it has become today.
Your photos are beautiful! Could you walk us through a typical photoshoot or the inspiration behind a specific shoot in particular?
Wow, thank you! My photoshoots are a little hectic to say the least, but I’ve been so lucky that both Alcatraz and Lexington are dream models to work with! I like to do most of my photoshoots in the morning when the sun is soft, and the barn is quiet. I always put together my outfits and Lexington’s outfits the night prior to the photoshoot, it’s important for me to be as organized as possible so that the shoot is seamless.
Marcus, my boyfriend, is the man behind the camera and refers to himself as the “human tripod”. We have an unusual method to our photoshoots which includes me taking an initial shot of the framing I’m looking for, then Marcus will take a few pictures and after I will then review them! Because of this unusual set up, it does take a while and require a lot of patience, especially when we start getting to the riding shots. Marcus has to take the lead in terms of framing, as I’m on Lex, but it’s pretty much the same process. I’ll direct him as well as I can, he then takes a few test shots and then I’ll review them!
What is your goal for 2020 with Eyes Up, Darling or with your riding?
My goals for Eyes Up, Darling is to continue building my platform and bringing awareness to the lack of diversity. This year, I’m also planning on coming out with some merch- just for fun! In terms of my riding, I’d love to get into the jumper ring with Lexington and dabble in eventing with him.
What does an average day look like for you?
As a recent graduate, I’m currently pursuing my blog and social media marketing full time. So, with that being said, I usually start my morning with a cup of tea, while catching up on what I’ve missed while sleeping! Then, it’s off to the barn to see Lexington for a few hours. My afternoons and evenings are filled with engaging and posting on Instagram, lining up new blog posts and collaborations and answering business emails.
What are the most common challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
Because I am so public on social media, I find myself either getting a lot of criticism, racism and or hate. I overcome this by showing compassion to them and myself, I try to use it as a teaching moment.
Do you have any suggestions or advice for young riders aspiring to be as involved with the equestrian industry as you are?
I think it’s important to remember that everyone started somewhere. Eyes Up, Darling started with me taking photos on my iPhone, sharing my journey as a rerider and part-boarder. I have three pillars that I base Eyes Up, Darling on: consistency; quality; and authenticity. In terms of creating a look and starting to create a cohesive feed, it’s important to play around in the creative space Instagram provides such as: filters; camera angles; carousels; and stories.
What is the best advice you have ever been given involving horses?
Be patient and be consistent.
If riding wasn’t in your life what other sport would you see yourself involved with and why?
If I wasn’t into horseback riding, I would be involved in tennis! I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the sport and the amount of concentration that it takes to play.
If you weren’t in the Equestrian Industry, what do you think you would be doing instead and why? (career wise)
I would be doing something similar but in a corporate setting. I enjoy the creative process and how design is able to communicate a message to the community.
What accomplishment are you most proud of within the Equestrian Industry? (Does not have to be show related)
Being able to share my message and journey with thousands of people, is something that is so special to me. Creating Eyes Up, Darling has been one of the most rewarding accomplishments I’ve achieved, and I feel as if it is just the beginning.
The most memorable horse which you have owned or ridden is _____ and why?
A little chestnut pony called Tobey. Chunky, fluffy, orange and adorable I just totally fell in love with him. He taught me everything from how to sit a buck, jump a course and how you always need more leg.
Does your horse have a favourite treat? If so, what is it?
The list would be shorter if I list things he doesn’t eat, which really just includes watermelon and bananas!
What is the one thing you can never go to the barn without? (i.e. lucky socks, lip balm, gloves)
I can never leave my house without an apple for Lexington and my Yeti mug filled with hot tea!
What do you like to do when you manage to get some time off and away from the barn?
My time away from Lex is spent in the city hanging out with friends, blogging and or eating lots of yummy food- hah!
Describe your dream vacation (does not have to be horse related)
I’d love to go to New Zealand to see the beautiful landscape, visit a few friends and ride on the black sand beaches. If I went on a vacation with Lexington, I’d want to go to take him to Kentucky Horse Park.
What are you most grateful for at your barn?
I’m grateful for the quality of care! On the days I’m not able to make it to the barn, I know he is still getting amazing care and that really puts my mind at ease.
Describe the funniest wardrobe malfunction that you have had when riding?
I’ve been fortunate enough to not have had many wardrobe malfunctions, it’s usually just my tall boot zipper coming undone!
What is your go-to late night snack?
Either French fries or ice cream!
Which would you rather… (bold one)
Ride without gloves in the winter or without socks in the summer?
Ride bareback on a trail ride or without a bridle in the ring?
Fall in the warm-up ring or go into the ring with a very mud covered horse?
Split your breeches or have your reins break mid-ride?
Swim in the ocean with your horse or travel the mountains via horseback?
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down and answer our Equestrian Fashion Outfitters 'Rider of the Month' interview! We wish you all the best and are excited to see where you and 'Eyes Up, Darling' go!
Equestrian Fashion Outfitters