photos by Kristin Lee Photography
“I love learning about new equestrian companies and hearing from their founders on their companies’ goals and where they hope to fit in the larger horse marketplace. ”
Helen riding her horse, “BLondie”.
I’ve never liked the term “influencer”. The word always sounded scammy to me and not a reflection of my purpose with my site and Instagram page, Life Equestrian, which I founded in 2016. I started the platform as a resource for riders, which I thought was absent from the equestrian space online. I’ve spent almost my entire life on and around horses. Riding is my passion, marketing is my career and as a horse girl, riding products and apparel are always on my mind (and my credit card statement). I never wanted to try to push people to any product but I do enjoy introducing new brands to friends and now followers. I love learning about new equestrian companies and hearing from their founders on their companies’ goals and where they hope to fit in the larger horse marketplace. I initially started working solely with equestrian clothing, boots and helmet brands but more recently have ventured into the technology and safety space industry with companies such as Novafon and Horse Pilot Safety Vest.
I grew up riding in Calgary, Canada, at Spruce Meadows and am now based outside of Los Angeles at Schroeder Sporthorses. My biggest struggle as an amateur rider now in my (cough) early (cough) 40’s is creating balance between my lifelong equestrian passion; maintaining an active presence at my full time marketing position as an executive at a major Hollywood television network; and along with my husband caring for my smaller animals, two Bernedoodles and a 17 year old Dachshund Pomeranian.
The key to my balanced life is compartmentalizing every week. Monday through Friday is packed almost entirely with my day job, though on occasion I can get an early morning ride on the schedule. I usually spend an hour or so in the evening working on Life Equestrian and emailing with brands with whom I could work for posts, videos or instagram stories.
A new addition to my life has been a daily meditation practice which helps ground me in the morning and evening before bed. Usually each session is around 10 minutes but it’s been amazing to see how much energy I feel afterwards. I also try to find a half day on a weekend to literally do nothing. My definition of nothing could be taking the dogs for a walk; watching mindless reality TV in my sweats; or taking a stroll to explore LA’s many neighborhoods with no plan at all.
In addition to meditation, I have also recently started learning more about the power of hypnosis and the many layers within our subconscious. It’s been fascinating to learn about the control our subconscious has over our daily routines. Have you ever pulled into your garage after a long day and not remembered anything about your route home? Well, this is your subconscious mind taking over.
We are hard-wired by our subconscious thoughts starting around age five so that later in life our brain works over time to continue to support truths and behaviors that were defined in these early years. Because our brains are wired to think and respond one way, hypnosis allows us to rewire our brains and eliminate some of our negative thoughts or experiences which have been hard-wired for far too long. Through hypnosis work, I have come to feel an incredible amount of new power, an easing of anxiety, and a new ability to focus and open my creative thinking.
Hypnosis work is a commitment and takes time through practice and working with a professional. If your schedule doesn’t allow for this practice I would suggest starting with some simple breath work to allow your brain to relax, even if it’s just for five to ten minutes each day. Om and the Equestrian has some terrific breathing exercises that I frequently add to my daily routine. [omandtheequestrian.com] I also love to be inspired by the work of Dr. Pernilla Nathan. She is an advocate for you to reach your goals and has completely transformed my life by making me realize the power of each of our journeys and the learnings within each road.
I started focusing more on my health and cardio levels only a few years ago – yes, in my late 30’s – and it was clear to me that I was missing out on an entire world of activity which helps me in my daily life and also in my riding. I am grateful for connecting with a fantastic trainer named Shelby O’Leary, Train With Shelby, who has provided wonderful equestrian-specific routines to enhance my riding performance, as well as a healthier meal plan. Shelby works with many elite riders, from Olympic show jumping levels to young riders, and of course amateur horse girls like myself.
HorsePilot Safety Gear
In the process of researching and ultimately reevaluating my eating habits, I found a very simple and easy way to get your daily
greens through a company called TrueLean Ageless Greens. I take this powder with a glass of ice cold water in the morning along with my coffee. My energy has been truly transformed.
Through my Life Equestrian brand relationships, I was recently introduced to the Horse Pilot Airbag Riding Vest. In high school I was diagnosed with scoliosis and had a major surgery during which two Harrington rods were inserted in my back. As a result, I have very little movement in my back to this day, which is why an airbag vest to protect my spine is crucial. Horse Pilot is a brand I have been working with for years, and their commitment to safety and technological innovation is at the top of the industry. I have been wearing my vest for over three years and for both of my falls during this time it immediately deployed, allowing me to dust myself off and get back in the saddle. I am forever grateful for this product as each fall could have easily resulted in a broken collarbone, broken ribs, or worse. Horse Pilot now offers their vest in both black and navy blue. Both looks are chic and stunning for the hunter ring. I love pairing my vest with their “Monica” riding shirt, named after Monica Ward from Equ Lifestyle Boutique. Monica passed away a few years ago but she lives on in the DNA of the Horse Pilot brand, one of her favorites.
Although I grew up riding indoors and outdoors I’ve spent the last decade riding exclusively outdoors and I’ve learned to keep my skin protected from hours in the hot SoCal sun. I’m a devotee of LaserAway for facial treatments. There are over 150 locations across the US and they recently launched their skin care line which is the perfect way to balance the best treatment on the market, The Clear + Brilliant laser treatment that stimulates collagen growth with very little downtime. Riding in the 100+ degree heat of Thermal, California, I have developed some sun damage that needed some TLC. The LaserAway product line and treatments have dramatically removed many years of sun spots on my face and upper arms.
I am beyond grateful to have two incredible women role models in my life, my mom and my mother-in-law. Both women guide me in my daily goal of connecting mind, body and soul. The words Body & Soul are actually the title of my mother-in-law’s PBS series and the companion book which was centered on holistic health, spirituality and the integration of mind, body and soul into daily life. While I have only had the privilege to have Gail in my life for the past four years I have worked hard to soak up her wisdom.
My lifelong North Star is my mother Bonnie, who has been by my side through everything in life: the good, the bad and
the in-between. She is the healer of all healers, the guide to all guides and she has the ability to help virtually any animal. To this day my mom rides one of her two horses almost every day. She spends half her time in Arizona, where she dedicates her time as a local hospital board member, and fervent supporter of riding events at Boyd Ranch, a local non-profit that organizes and supports riding groups and kids activities around horses.
My mom never ceases to amaze me with her ability to lead and find ways to keep her endless Horse Girl energy going. During the summer months she lives in Montana where she volunteers for the Park Forest Ranger community. In this capacity she often takes three-to-four-day trips packing her horse with supplies for the rangers who are in the backcountry for months keeping the park systems up and running. My mom and my mother-in law have played such a prominent role in my life and have continued to support my love for horses, maintaining balance in my life and the Mind-Body connection between my horse, family, friends, health and job.
This cover story originally appeared in 2023 Vol. 1. The full issue can be read online here.