To a horse lover but not a rider, the equine culture at SmartPak is super intense, and I feel like I’ve been given an insider ticket into this wonderful world. It sure is refreshing to be at a place where people love their jobs and adore animals, but, boy, do I have a lot to learn! My first week included a swan dive right into proofreading copy for the upcoming spring catalog. I was swarmed with all sorts of terms that I have never seen and others that I’ve only heard before. (Jodhpurs, anyone?) Suddenly words like “surcingle,” “shadbelly” and “caveson” were filling my brain, and I Googled up a storm.
I spent some time quizzing our Creative Director and avid rider, Sara Florin, on some of these words. With a bridle in hand, she excitedly explained what a flash was and where the poll is on a horse and answered all of the rest of the questions I had. It was pretty awesome. I know what this enthusiasm feels like and would have had the same reaction if you asked me about ways to calm a stressed out cat or the best strategy for correcting a dog’s behavior.
The number of different disciplines there are in riding was a major eye opener. When I was a kid, I knew that there was Western style riding and English style riding, and my knowledge ended there. So “show jumping,” “dressage,” “reining” and “eventing” (to name just a few) were wholly new to me.
And to think, each of these riding specialties comes with its own gear and clothing. A 272-page saddlery catalog is starting to make a lot of sense. I can’t believe how much equipment is available for the sport! The abundance of bridle choices and accompanying accessories alone astounds me. As someone who likes to have a ton of choices of the same thing (take earrings as an example), I love that there is such a range of products to outfit just one part of a horse. And even more interesting to me is that a pair of reins used by someone who does dressage might be completely wrong for cross country. I still have to learn about why it’s wrong, but at least my ignorant “a saddle is a saddle is a saddle” attitude has evolved!
I think my favorite part though is simply in the aesthetics. I love looking at photos of the horses with their different “hairstyles.” Seeing a neat row of tiny braids running down a show hunter’s crest (see? I’m learning!), the tight rounded button braids on a dressage horse, or the perfectly straight line of bands segmenting a Western horse’s mane makes me want to French braid my own hair immediately.
And who knows, maybe you’ll catch me on a horse some time in the future. I hear the bug goes around the office rather quickly for the non-riders!
-Devon, Creative Team