Today, this blog post is brought to you all by The Dressage Store, an equestrian based boutique located in the picturesque town of Wellington, Florida. All of my gratitude to The Dressage Store's owner, Kristina, for giving me the opportunity to highlight her passion project via The Blonde & The Bay.
"Passion is a wonderful thing as long as it’s understood. Passion is the spark, but to grow a business into something sustainable and scalable you must be willing to commit to long term hard work."
Women in equestrian business are a unique force to be reckoned with, and Kristina is certainly no exception. Her tenacity was nearly palatable from the opposite end of my iPhone. Our conversation flowed through laughs, shared sentiments, and various insights into the highs and lows of navigating a retail career inside a highly competitive market. Kristina's secret weapon, per se? Kingsley Boots. I'll touch on this here shortly.
The personal mission behind The Dressage Store's outset in 2019 stems more from a private quest - to provide opportunities for people. Generally speaking, the boutique's main principle is to facilitate an individualized shopping experience that enables each equestrian to feel their very best while appreciating the fun and fashion aspect of our sport. According to Kristina, feeling confident can inspire great things like powerful performance. There is something jubilant about stepping into our most beloved pair of breeches, don't you think? Coming from an introspective standpoint, riding in my full-seat breeches for the first time in eight months since transitioning Leah out of training definitely added a small pep to my step. Just the slightest, simplest change can shift our mindset towards the positive.
A brand that is quickly taking our sport by storm, Kingsley Boots are constructed upon a Vibram sneaker-like sole which instantly provides an almost "broke-in" feel from day one. Only the highest of quality materials are used to build each pair of Kingsley's, and the customization options are virtually endless. Watching, and assisting, clients tap into their individualized design ideas truly brings Kristina such joy in her career. Fashion and a steadfast appreciation for dressage create the most enjoyable, rewarding environment!
"I pinch myself daily that my job is to play with horses and shop! I’m having more fun than I ever imagined I could at work!"
Horses captured Kristina's heart from a young age, three-years-old to be exact. From the very first pony ride, she was irrevocably hooked. A storyline that sounds oh-so familiar for us horse crazed kiddos. The world of equestrianism would quickly morph into an unwavering devotion for Kristina. Her riding career started as a happy trail rider turned aspiring jumper. Once she entered adulthood, dressage became the center of her affection. The rest is history, so they say. Speaking in the present, Kristina plans to compete in the Prix St. Georges with her personal mount come 2021 season in Wellington. "Hopefully, I'm as ready as my horse!" Big goals and FEI centerlines lie ahead while striving to achieve that 1% improvement every ride... A takeaway I can absolutely resonate alongside.
A saddle pad fit for a queen - Queen Locomotive, that is - the blush pink PS of Sweden served as the perfect contrast against Leah's mahogany-red summertime coat. I am a stickler for durable saddle pads yet rarely shop for a new set unless I'm in a pinch at a weekend competition; especially now considering Leah is basically retired from public appearances. My collection is the farthest thing from impressive, but I am quite proud of the three higher-quality options that happily rest in the plastic storage trunk. They hold special memories, oddly enough.
One common misconception I've debunked about semi-retirement is just because we're riding at home and not for competitive pursuits doesn't mean we still can't dress for success. Just because I am riding at home and not for competitive pursuits does not make me any less of an equestrian. What can sometimes feel like a slippery slope of foreign emotions, saying goodbye to the daily grind presents its own set of challenges - those of which I've already thoroughly explained here and on Instagram. Finding comfort in new-normalcy stems from old routine habits, like reaching for breeches versus tights or selecting a newer saddle pad from the tack trunk as opposed to something more tattered. Just like I mentioned above, really. I embrace any factor that fuels my motivation to continue my journey as a horsewomen, professional training environment or not. Kristina's wholesome advocacy for the adult amateur spectrum of our community was a token of wisdom I greatly appreciated. It's easy to feel unseen, unheard, unnoticed in a world filled with excess, but the sheer notion that one common theme reigns supreme is somewhat of a relief. "Adult amateurs are the backbone of this sport," she mentioned. We need more voices to drive this message home. But, that's a story for a whole other blog post and a bottle of wine.
This is my very first saddle pad from PS of Sweden, and from initial impressions, I now understand what the hype is all about. IT IS STUNNING. Blush pink gorgeousness with an intricate attention to detail. Bonus treat: The Dressage Store is one of the only few retailers in the United States who still carry the blush pink color option in stock. So, if this breathtaking hue catches your fancy, don't hesitate to place your order before they're all gone.
An elevated wither design provides Leah ample clearance ensuring ultimate comfort from beginning of our ride to the end. I struggle to find pads that adequately fit L's higher-set wither placement, but faced zero issues when using the PS. My favorite feature of the pad itself happens to be the unique "stop-cushions" instead of the traditional velcro straps... I usually end up cutting those off anyway. Stop-cushions hold the pad still and prevent any slippage underneath the saddle. We frequently shy away from on-trend saddle pads due to the shinier, notoriously slicker finish. My saddle has an unimpressive track record of shifting should I use anything but pure cotton. Contrary to my once popular belief, the PS pad stayed in its place, and so did our saddle. Major success!
Perfect for South Texas humidity, the saddle pad's underside is crafted from antibacterial, Quick-Dry material so maximum coolness is always achieved. While the PS of Sweden price-point is higher than the average saddle pad, you are making an investment into a piece of tack that will last you quite a while should you care for it properly. These are beautiful pieces that will leave a lasting impression.
The Dressage Store is a curation of all things timeless, elegant, classic. Ironically, these are the three same adjectives that pop into my mind when I think about what dressage embodies. For Kristina, her adoration for dressage can be found inside the harmonies and unity between horse and rider. "It's just magic." You could say I'm biased, but I tend to agree. Dressage is a complex, heightened sense of communication. When hours of hairsplitting training intertwine with rhythm, suspension and cadence, the conversation in the tack is unlike anything one could ever imagine. "Call me a romantic; there's no better feeling in the world."
Kristina and I wrapped up our conversation with a few tidbits of advice pertaining to those who might express an interest in jumping into equestrian based retail. "Passion is a wonderful thing as long as it’s understood. Passion is the spark, but to grow a business into something sustainable and scalable you must be willing to commit to long term hard work. It will take twice as long as you think, be three times harder than you anticipate and you will never be finished. But if you have true passion.... the journey will be supremely enjoyable." Her words can effortlessly translate to our journeys up the dressage pyramid. For me, I support brands whose morals, views, and ideals align with my own. The Dressage Store represents a level of unmatched, unparalleled excellence. I am so looking forward to watching Kristina's passion project continue to flourish.
Visit The Dressage Store • www.thedressagestore.com
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Facebook // The Dressage Store
Phone • 516.582.6305
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