A new poetry collection, over three years in the making, has been published to help benefit the charity Love146. Ninety percent of the proceeds for 146 : a collection of love stories will directly benefit Love146. Edited by Amber Morris, the collection examines love, through poetry and prose, in it’s myriad of forms. What better, than with love, to draw attention to Love146′s mission of ending child exploitation and trafficking around the world. (Letters and Lullabies own Editor-in-Chief and Founder, Sinta Jimenez, is a contributor to the collection!)
Love146 works in countries around the world providing rehabilitation and shelter to children rescued from trafficking and exploitation in the form of recovery shelters like The Round Home and Boys’ Shelter in the Philippines and the Recovery Center in Connecticut. In addition to their work with rehabilitating rescued children, Love146 also on prevention and the training of activists and community leaders to end child exploitation before it starts.
For many children, there is a fascination with animals and many become enchanted with horses. This love for horses, if channeled, can turn into a powerful motivation to learn riding. And what can riding teach young equestrians?
For answers, we interviewed Andrea Benavides Wise, a lifelong equestrian and founder of the North Carolina-based business, Pony Glam to find out about how her favorite after school activity has led to a flourishing business as an adult. She told us about her history with riding, her fabulous company, and all her young equestrian friends! Andrea also gave us great expert advice about choosing the right stable for your child and the life lessons children take away from working with horses and learning to ride.
LL: Tell us about your history with riding. How old were you when you started? How did you get into it so young?
ABW: I was around 7 years old and I went with my mom to a very local horse show to watch one of her friends compete. They made the huge mistake of sitting me on top of the horse and I didn’t want to get off. The problem is that I haven’t wanted to get off for 25 years! Soon afterwards I started taking lessons at a barn near my house and my parents bought me my first pony (his name was Prince Charming!).
LL: Was it a choice your parents made or something you asked for?
ABW: My mom used to ride for fun with her childhood friend, so she has always had a love for horses. However, like I said, after my mom made the mistake of introducing me to that first horse, it was something that I wanted to do.
LL: At what age do you think someone should begin equestrian lessons?
ABW: The answer to this question really varies on the situation. Horses are the kindest and most generous animals I have ever known, but at the end of the day, horseback riding is a dangerous sport. If your child is in a safe environment with a trainer or person that knows what they are doing, and on an appropriate horse or pony, than a child can start as soon as they can sit-up balanced in the saddle. I have a few trainer friends that have two year olds that are doing leadline classes.
LL:What do you think children take away from horses?
ABW: I could do an entire interview about just this question. I am not too biased either – I took ballet and tap/jazz for years, and played on the basketball team, soccer team and tennis team and various other clubs and organizations while growing up. First, you should know that riding is not easy – it requires a lot of strength and endurance. My husband used to make fun of me when I said that, until he took one 25 minute lesson at a walk and trot and was dying…for days. It also requires extreme mental strength. Horses have an uncanny ability to sense and react to everything you are feeling or thinking. If you are worried, they are worried. If you picture the jump turning out badly, it most likely will. This means that you always have to be on top of your mental game, and any true athlete can tell you how challenging that can be. Besides the physical and mental strength required, your only teammate is a 1,200 pound animal that has a mind of its own. So much of riding is learning how to respect the relationship you have with this unique teammate and how to encourage them to want to give you their all. I think that it really teaches you a lot about yourself and how to deal with others…of all shapes and sizes.
Children also learn a lot of responsibility at a young age. You can’t just go and throw on a saddle and ride. You have to spend a lot of time taking care of the horse before and after your ride. The horse comes first, even if you are sweaty, thirsty, tired or hungry. If you own a horse you have to really be committed. Most horses have to be ridden or exercised multiple days a week, even if its really cold, or really hot, or raining. Owning a horse at any age involves a lot of sacrifice, especially regarding time and money!
LL: What lessons did you learn from riding as a child?
ABW: I learned the true meaning of hard work, sacrifice, dedication and that life isn’t always fair. Not many 9 year olds will wake up at 4am to scrub a pony clean in 35 degree weather, drive two hours to the horse show, sit around all day in the often harsh elements for that 20 minute chance to shine and win that infamous $1.00 blue ribbon, then overcome the heartache when your darn pony stops at the first fence and it feels like all your hard work was for nothing…until next weekend.
LL: What should parents look for when deciding on a stable for horseback riding lessons?
ABW: Do your research and visit each potential stable to meet the trainer and horses. Look for someone that has experience and good reviews and who understands your child’s goals, whether it is to ride for fun or to be competitive. The environment should be well kept and the horses should look happy and well taken care of. You also shouldn’t feel any pressure to lease or buy a pony, as they are a HUGE commitment and a purchase that should wait until your child is in a consistent program and until you have a better grasp on proper horsemanship.
LL: Tell us about Pony Glam. What inspired you to start this company?
ABW: Pony Glam is an equestrian company that I started after being inspired by my own horse, Chloe. I was applying hoof dressing (which is a conditioning and strengthening formula applied to the hooves) when I realized that Chloe was too much of a diva to settle for a hoof dressing that was the traditional clear color. That was too boring! So I went to work formulating my own hoof dressing…but in purple! After that, I tested and tried 4 other colors and Hoof Hi-Lites was born. Pony Glam just seemed like the perfect brand name for what I wanted to do: create a fun and sassy company inspired by Chloe.
LL: We see that Pony Glam is very popular with young equestrians that you lovingly call your PG minions. What’s your friendship like with these little girls?
ABW: Yes, Chloe loves her PG minions! PG Minions help me to promote all things Pony Glam. These girls think they are Chloe’s personal assistants but they don’t realize that she secretly loves all the attention. They also provide me with a source of constant inspiration and drive. I like to say that they are my muses. I love overhearing them tell people that they plan to work at Pony Glam when they are older!
LL: What’s your favorite thing about riding?
ABW: I love the feeling I get when Chloe and I have just had an incredible round and everything comes together perfectly. When I lean forward to rub her mane to let her know she was such a good girl, she arches into my hand and I can feel her beaming with excitement. It is a really hard thing to explain, but if you could see it, you would know exactly what I am talking about! Chloe and I have been through so very much together in our journey, that I guess I just love this hard to describe moment because it really embodies that moment of success.
LL: Tell us about Chloe, your horse.
ABW: Zach asked me recently to use one word to describe Chloe and without hesitation I used the word “challenging”. Chloe had many owners before me and it took her a while to trust me. It has definitely been an uphill battle. Chloe challenges me every ride to bring my best stuff and she doesn’t really tolerate too many mistakes. She has a ton of personality and is very opinionated. She can be sweet too, but it’s usually when she wants something. She truly is a diva. She doesn’t roll or step in water puddles. She lip curls at me about 20 times per day. She has made me cry 1,000 times, but I would never change anything about our last 3 years together. It sounds cliché, but that horse knows me better than anyone else!
LL: What’s next for you and for Pony Glam?
ABW: Pony Glam has always been something I do on the side, as I am an attorney by day, as many can’t believe! However, as of February I will be doing Pony Glam full time and hoping to get Pony Glam into more tack stores and continue expanding the brand. I am sure Chloe will be doing more blog articles as well. Her last blog was read over 20,000 times, which blows my mind!
LL: Do you have any words of wisdom for all the young, hopeful horseback riders out there?
ABW: Don’t get discouraged. Equestrian sports aren’t always on the most even of playing fields. The bottom line is that you cannot buy hard work, passion and determination. One of my favorite minions makes every ride count. She owns a green pony and has never had the opportunity to show what we lovingly call a “packer”. Recently she won at her first rated show and her mom said it best when she said, “I never said it would be easy, I just said it would be worth it”.
In 1999, the first Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was held in the Indio desert making this summer it’s 15th birthday! Extremely popular with summer concert aficionados, especially those on the West Coast who like some camping and hippie fashion with their music, Coachella has breached the mainstream in recent years. Stylists, designers, and the ambitiously fashionable have drawn inspiration from celebrities like Kate Bosworth, who’s festival fashion is so sublime, she created her own festival capsule for Top Shop in S/S 2013, and luxuriously disheveled power blogger, Rumi Neely, who spawned the ombre hair hysteria. Festival style is now synonymous with Spring and Summer collections and after a soul crushing winter, it can be more than welcome. Let us admit, however, there’s quite a bit of pretension to festival chic when one has never been to Coachella but it is just another ultra-cool California culture export much like the ubiquitous Malibu graphic hoodies at PacSun worn by the landlocked. Well, join in on the fad, or if you’re game, get tickets for the whole family! Children are welcome at Coachella, which is hippie trippy at it’s core and Coachella’s official forums are amass with tips for parentings hoping to bring the brood.
We’ve put together a girls’ festival fashion capsule, capturing the spirit of Coachella, featuring the happy hippie high style of Isabel Marant and Scotch & Soda. Go for natural fabrics that breathe like cotton and linen, soft light denim, and pile on the accessories! Flower garlands a la Lana del Rey are a must! Desert nights get cool so definitely have a tasseled multicolored scarf and embellished jacket.
Spring is always a welcome sight, but perhaps never so more than this year! After a winter that blasted the country from the Upper Peninsula to the Gulf Coast, parents are relieved to finally put the wild weather and too many snow days behind them. Just because warm spring rains replace ice and snow, don’t think that kids are doomed to indoor boredom. A properly outfitted child can still be tossed outside to burn some energy!
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Petit Bateau Hooded Oilskin A cotton lining gives this classic and gender-neutral rain jacket a cozy layer, while ribbed cuffs keep out the wet. Also available in navy blue.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Bubble Umbrella Children love umbrellas, and this adorable, pint-sized take on Eric Carle’s classic is sure to be a favorite. Mostly-clear plastic makes this umbrella an especially good choice for children who walk to school and need unobstructed vision.
Rain Pants Puddles are for splashing, which inevitably leads to soggy trousers or tights. Not with these rain pants! Pull over a pair of rain boots, top with a rain jacket and your child will be practically waterproof. Available in other colors, and infant and toddler sizes.
Bogs Rubber Rain Boot Pull-on handles make getting into these sturdy boots a breeze. Sizes available from baby to big kid.
Jacadi Paris prides itself in being able to keep classic children’s design relevant in today’s trends and their Spring/Summer 2014 line does just that. Dresses that range from playful to elegant in styles reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy’s selections for her own children dominate this collection. Jacadi’s commitment to quality is shown through the many small details on the garments along with the use of a variety of fabrics from seersucker to taffeta. Several pieces use floral prints from the famous fabric house Liberty of London and others continue Jacadi’s tradition of high quality hand smocked garments. Classic cap toe and t-strap Mary Janes return in footwear.
The boys collection is both darling and dapper. Also drawing inspiration from Kennedy-era Cape Cod summer fashions this collection will be admired by all generations. Seersucker suit jacket paired with Bermuda shorts and the dressy suspender shorts take center stage along with suede wingtip sneakers.
Also to be noted is the swimwear collection and while maritime themed swimwear is in over abundance, these pieces offer just enough vintage appeal to set them above others.