B&W Eventing Reviews… Calm Leisure Ladies Shaped Equestrian Underwear

Having reviewed almost everything from tack, to rugs, bandages and all manner of breeches, boots and riding shirts, it was a little different to be sent underwear to review for my blog.

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As any rider knows, be they a happy hacker or a seasoned pro, comfort in the saddle, is all important. Speaking quite frankly, as I always do, a pet hate of mine is riding in uncomfortable knickers. Let’s face it ladies, those who can ride in their best lacy knickers are few and far between. I have learnt the hard way after thinking my finest La Perla would be an on-point option for a day’s eventing in midsummer! Knicker regret of the highest order… So, from that point on I have been on the search for the most flattering, non VPL, comfortable riding knickers, that don’t cost a fortune, will last and perform. For a while my knickerage of choice has been classic Calvin’s. Hard to beat for sports style and function, but you pay for that logo!  Looking for alternatives, I was keen to try the shaped equestrian underwear from British brand Calm Leisure. Specialising in innovative clothing products that is ‘innovative in design, comfortable and purposeful.’

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What Calm Leisure say…

‘The shaped Equestrian Underwear is designed to fit like a boxer in the back but with shaped arching at the front to reduce “bulking ” of material around the front of the legs. The sides are shaped in to maximise a fantastic fit and stay in place.’

The knickers are made from a luxurious Bamboo Fibre material for super softness next to the skin. This has natural antibacterial and wicking properties to keep you dry and comfortable. They have a bound leg trim rather than elastic to reduce the risk of any chaffing.

They are also designed and made in Great Britain which is always a plus point for me.

Priced at £19.95 a pair and available in black or white, sizes XS to L.

What I thought…

At first look the Calm Leisure Equestrian Underwear looked quite large, however when I tried them on I realised that the style was definitely more of a boy short look and although they were a larger cut than the normal underwear I’d wear when riding, they were incredibly flattering. I was supplied with a Size L and I am about a size 14-16 normally.  I wore them for yard work and hacking out for over 3 hrs, under breeches on quite a chilly day. Immediately I noticed how well they fitted under breeches, with no vpl! The style literally just glides over your hips and bottom, being slightly higher rise they give a nice flat finish under breeches fastenings. Without being overly warm I found they felt really snug and breathable, which was pleasant on a cold day. When riding, I found the style very comfortable with no bunching or chafing, the bound leg trim really works well in this respect and I think this style of equestrian underwear would be great for long days in the saddle, or hunting. Overall, I was really impressed with the design and the soft Bamboo fibre fabric, which kept me both warm, but not too hot. They also washed and dried well, which is always a major factor for a busy person.  In sum, I think Calm Leisure have done a great job with their Equestrian Underwear, they certainly ticked many boxes for me and I’d be interested in trying out some of their base layers, made from similar fabric. Available in white and black, they offer a simple, functional option, especially for those who spend many hours a day riding. I’d love to see the same design in a nude colour, so that they were completely transparent under my thinner white Italian Dressage breeches. Maybe a development for the future?!

The Verdict

A 5/5 for style, design, comfort, practicality and quality.

To find out more & to buy click here

Equisense Launch High-Tech Equine Care System

This week the winners of the SPOGA Innovation Award in 2016, Equisense, have launched another high-tech equine centric product.

Imagine being able to accurately measure your horse’s daily activity, build a picture of his health and well-being, track any changes and be alerted in the event of an accident or if colic is suspected?

Equisense Care is a connected equine bodysuit created for all horse owners who have an interest in the health and wellbeing of their horses. Created to be linked to a mobile application that not only evaluates the horse’s wellbeing and state of health in real-time (thanks to 3G connectivity) but this clever piece of kit also enables the owner to optimise their horse’s lifestyle, enabling them to take action in the event of a problem. Created by a team of passionate equestrians, technology experts, vets and biomechanical engineers, this product is set to change the way we understand and observe our horses: From evaluating his well-being over days, weeks, months and years through to monitoring his recovery post trauma or during illness.

This wearable tech is the result of careful research and planning and has been carefully adapted to guarantee his comfort and safety all year round courtesy of an anatomically designed bib that can worn all year around both in the stable and field and under rugs (A lightweight honeycomb summer bib and a shoulder protective winter version designed to be worn under rugs are available)

Equisense Care works in two ways:

* Without a subscription you can retrieve all your data as soon as you connect your smartphone to your sensor via Bluetooth.

* With a small subscription (€19.90 per month) thanks to 3G connectivity, you will always have access to the data in REAL TIME, which means that you will receive alerts from the device on any noted changes as they are happening and enabling you to take appropriate action, whether that’s paying a visit to the stables to check on your horse, monitoring his progress on a journey or calling your vet with concise and accurate data to highlight a possible issue or concern.

Currently this device is available for pre-order and the team plan to go into large scale production next summer with delivery of Equisense Care Kickstarter orders being sent out in the Autumn of 2017.  To pre -order via Kickstarter click here

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The Equisense Care device will be able to analyse time spent moving, time spent at each gait, distance travelled, time spent sleeping, heart rate and heart rate variability, respiratory rate and perspiration with additional free upgrades planned to monitor body temperature, agitation and time spent eating.

 

For further information on this revolutionary equine technology click here

 

 

What’s New? Uvex Sports Style and Twin Flex Riding Gloves – with glamour styling!

We love to keep up with new products and innovation, and have been excited to discover the new glove designs from German, ultra-hip, techy design house Uvex. Our quest for great riding gloves has explored most brands and needless to say there are some great options out there, but many lack the sensitivity, comfort and durability I need from a riding glove, let alone the style.

The two new designs from Uvex – the Sports Style and Twin Flex – are future thinking gloves, and yet again its clear that the design team at Uvex has left no stone unturned when it comes to developing and manufacturing their new designs.

uvex-glovesThey speak of the ‘different material strengths at the functional parts of the glove that provide effective heat exchange, protect the rider’s hand from sweating and ensure a superior durability.’

and ‘The 2-way stretch Uvex equestrian gloves mould to the hand like a second skin.  With high stretch and great ventilation in the fabrics, for the best connection between you and your horse. The aim is a constant connection, a balanced and perfect contact with the horse fully accepting the bit. The more feeling the rider has, the more stable this connection is.’

Uvex has developed the perfect glove to achieve this goal. Thanks to sophisticated technical details and trendsetting material combinations, they claim they fit like a second skin. The elastic strap, held in place with zigzag stitch, provides Another unmistakable feature of the Uvex gloves is their clean and casual design.

But not only that… Uvex have added some sparkle! The new glamour variants of the uvex sportstyle and uvex twinfex are embellished with elegant Swarovski® crystals and rosepins to decorate their closing flaps. An eye-catching and on trend feature, perfect for dressage and winter jumping.

We can’t wait to see and try these beauties in the flesh, priced at £29.99 for the synthetic Sportstyle and £49.99 for the nappa leather Twin Flex they strike and affordable, high design option for riders across the disciplines.

Here’s the lowdown, with further details of suppliers on the Uvex site here

Uvex Sportstyle Glamour

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Available in black or white. This glove is made of high grip PU-material is adorned with sparkling details and ensures shiny performances. An absolute eye catcher in the dressage arena as well as on the jumping course. It offers active moisture management and optimal wearing comfort.

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backhand: elastic PU composition

palmhand: elastic PU composition

material palm hand: 100% PU composition

material backhand: 100% PU composition

Uvex Twinflex Glamour

csm_45311301_7200f8b78dAvailable in black or white. Three sparkling Swarovski® rosepins decorate the uvex twinfex in its new glamour-version. This glove is made of the finest, very gripping lamb nappa combined with bi-elastic stretch insets at the upper hand.

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backhand: fine lamb nappa leather rubberlike, breathable stretch material insertions

palmhand: fine lamb nappa leather material palm hand: 100% lamb nappa leather

material backhand: 5% stretch material95% lamb nappa leather

 

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Being friendly and pairing up!

A hectic half term for Black and White eventing with work, 3 children, the house build and a host of pony activities! So time for something different – you get to see me close up & personal (with no make up – EEEK!), riding out and Vlogging (without falling off)! A few words about what we have been up to, supporting one another and being positive (especially on social media).  A Massive thanks to Katie (my top notch XC partner in crime) and Kate (for being a lovely kind friend). Enjoy and have fun with your horses xx Nikki and Wanda

 

While I’m here… if you enjoy what we do and would like to support our work, we have been shortlisted as a finalist in the Haynet Equine Blogger of the Year Awards. The winner of the award will be selected on 50% vote and 50 % appraisal of their blog. If you would like to vote for us just follow the link by clicking onto the logo below. Voting takes about 30 seconds and we really appreciate your support!

 

 

Creating memories and chasing dreams…Part I

It’s been a while since I did an ‘about me’ blog. Working in equestrian marketing it is so easy to get caught up in social media and what’s ‘new’, so sparing time to write for myself is a luxury. But today I’ve made the time, basically because this morning has been a comedy of errors (long story and not worth boring you with) … and I thought sod it… write for yourself today Nick and clear your head, talk to your laptop.

While we renovate our lovely barn we have all been living in limbo. Five people all squished into 2 rooms isn’t ideal, such is the joy of temporary accommodation. My ‘it will be worth it’ mantra has now worn itself out and sounds like a scratched record. But we are on the final leg of the journey. I doubt we will be finished by Christmas, but it will be nice to not live out of a suitcase when the time comes. The process has made me value possessions and realise I have so much ‘stuff’, including almost forty boxes of books which will need organising, but wont be thrown away! But when it comes to it, temporary living has made me think about what I really need, and in turn what I want out of life. I’m not going down a heady philosophical route here… just the simple question of ‘does owning stuff give you pleasure or is it just a distraction to life itself and dealing with the grittier aspects of it? Hmmmm…. I don’t think I am at a point to give all my possessions away but it has made me think about what I’ve missed the most and what I have gained by not having it.

As an antidote to not having ‘stuff’ in my life and having very little personal space I’ve appreciated spending time with my horses a lot more. Not that I always didn’t, but I think before they were part of my ‘stuff’ collection and I wasn’t tapping into the fun they give.  This year I’ve not been competing every weekend, but have progressed so much with my understanding and riding itself. I’ve thought long and hard about the whole eventing thing and just found it such a big day out. Logistically organising 3 children, work, my horse, training, paying for entries and then driving myself there, competing alone, getting home, unpacking, making sure homework is done, uniforms are washed, people are fed. I just couldn’t get my head around it. Let alone add the worry of a building project, feeling like I was neglecting my children or note earning to pay for it all… the list goes on.

In sum, I just didn’t have the headspace or the capacity to process 3 phases, and try to manage everything else in my life, let alone have the cash to pay for it. To put things bluntly I felt ‘FUCK it where is the fun?’ It’s not to say when things have settled down I won’t return, but for now it’s not the passion it was. I miss XC riding terribly but I don’t miss 4am starts (or earlier), to come home to a messy house 16 hrs later and a to do list that stretches to the moon and back… Some people would say that they will forgo all of that to follow their passion, but with too many plates to spin I personally cant.

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So what do you do when the lightbulb turns on and you realise that you have been stressing out and putting yourself under pressure to do something that just wasn’t time, logistics or money for? You go and start having FUN… and this is what I have been doing!

I have been quietly working away with my good friend Fiona Reddick and also Matt Cox who visits a yard, local to me to train. We have yet to build an arena here so schooling has to either be off site or on hacks, but I think this makes for more focused work and doesn’t sour Wanda. Hacking is very much a big part of exercise for all our horses here so although an arena would be amazing, its a massive expense to legitimise while the build is on.

I was lucky enough to apply and be selected for the British Dressage Suffolk County team and rode in the Inter Regionals at Keysoe in July which was a great experience and really opened my eyes up to a more competitive side of dressage. Out team trainer was the amazing Mette Assounline who I worked with before the competition, again a real eye opener for me, which led to some massive changes in what I could feel and how I approached test riding. We weren’t top of the pile at Keysoe, but Wanda held her own and our team was the highest placed Suffolk team. I also started to tap into the challenges that I wanted to sign up for the emotions I wanted to experience, things that I hadn’t thought about or had the confidence to do as I was so caught up in what I thought I ‘should’ be doing.

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At the end of September, I was lucky enough to ride as a guinea pig dressage test rider at Osberton International Horse Trails. For those of you wondering what small furry animals and dressage have in common, a guinea pig rider, literally rides a judges warm up test. You go in, ride the test under competition conditions, and are marked. The idea is that the judges can then confer, make sure they are marking to the same level and iron out any issues before the main competitors come in.

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A great experience to don tails and ride in a full on setting. As ever Wanda was a superstar and it was great to ride through a test with a few more complex movements, canter serpentines and lateral work. Marks wise we sat in the middle of the class, had we been competing, so I was pleased with that. What I wasn’t pleased with was Wanda breaking free at 4am as I was getting ready to load her, galloping off across a ploughed field and heading across a main, unlit road… with cars. A life flashing in front of us moment when I lost sight of her, then realised a car was heading towards us both! Not ideal but I really had to pull myself together, wipe away the snot and tears, get on with things, throw her on the lorry and drive. For once I had a co-pilot with me… the wonderful Friendsberry kindly loaned from the charity ‘Willberry Wonder Pony’… so with a hug and a squeeze we set off on our 3 hr road trip to do a 4-minute test (nuts eh?). Creating memories and chasing dreams… to be continued!

P.S. While I am here! I am thrilled to announce that our little blog has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Haynet Equestrian Blog Awards 2016. Voting is open now and a final winner will be selected on the basis of votes and a judges decision.

If you have 30 seconds to spare we would love it if you could click on the image below and vote for us…

Our blog started 3 years ago, and has been a great way to share our experiences and news to a wider audience. Personally, it has offered me a change of career and more than that inspired other mum’s to get back in the saddle. We are very proud to be recognised for what we do. #equinebloggingawards

 

Fairfax & Favor Go Pink for Charity!

As many of you know October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month , which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.

Running a charity project for the second year running, to show support for the campaign is luxury boot and shoe manufacturers Fairfax and Favor.

During October the brand will be selling their limited edition, Breast Cancer Awareness leather tassel with all proceeds going to Breast Cancer Care UK.

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The tassels are a  limited edition piece is crafted in Fairfax and Favor’s signature tassel style combining supple powder pink leather with a custom gold shield, all finished with a beautiful cotton gift bag to keep them in the best possible condition.

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Designed to be worn with the FF Regina boots, or used to adorn their handbags or an accessory of your choice.

The limited edition tassels are priced at £30.00 and can be ordered here

Show your support, look stylish and think pink!

 

 

It’s the little things… one pair of shoes and a whole lot of lifestyle

With Burghley well and truly done and dusted, the touring spectacle that is Eventing has moved onto Blenheim. Despite the awful weather on Saturday, Burghley was a great success, with the publication that I developed, with uptown E Store, ‘A little Book of Burghley Style’ receiving some great reviews from readers and the brands that were involved. If you have yet to read it, I’ve embedded a copy at the end of this blog.

A featured brand was Fairfax and Favor, who I’ve been working with since their early days. It has been wonderful to see Marcus and Felix develop their product and brand identity. From small stands at their local event Burnham Market, to showstoppers at major internationals and the likes of The Game Fair. Knowing how hard it is to work these events, keep stock levels up to scratch as well as running the business itself, their shows schedule is beyond impressive. The team will have earnt a well-earned break after Olympia in December!

I’m sure many of you are familiar with their famed tassled ‘Regina’ boots, always seen at trot ups and a country girl’s staple footwear. As I said in the Burghley magazine,

‘It’s definitely not a case of what riders will be wearing Fairfax boots at the horse inspections… but who won’t be!’

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Fairfax and Favor have now established themselves within the eventing and country markets, with some exciting news about brand ambassadors on the way, so keep an eye out for that. Their social media channels are on point with huge followings and almost cult status amongst their customers, who are now not just the country set, but city dwellers wanting classic shoes, that are stylish, classy and comfortable. With the business rocking, and my marketing head on, I set about thinking what makes customers ‘come back for more’ and what makes new customers want to purchase their own little bit of Fairfax and Favor.

So what was my conclusion? Well, in my opinion it’s all about the detail. At Burghley I purchased a new pair of driving shoes, the new style Henley’s. You can read about them here

They are a slightly different shoe from the classic Drivers launched last year (I’ve lived in mine and they are part of my everyday wardrobe on the farm and in meetings… and obviously for driving!). The Henley’s are more refined ‘smarter’ style, with plaited leather detailing, the classic drivers grip sole which makes you feel like you are walking on air, stippled rubber across the outside of the heel which means the shoes aren’t worn away or damaged when you drive. I’d say a smarter, more ladylike version of the driver. There are also little details like the metal ends on the ties and a really smart Farifax and Favor shield stud on the heal. Subtle branding that suits the shoe. Speaking to Felix Favor Parker at Burghley he positively gushed about this new detail, telling me of the trials of finding a manufacturer to get the logo ‘just right’. It’s this attention to detail and careful consideration that really makes a difference and keeps customers coming back. With a few new designs launched every year – from bags, to purses and new boot designs, the brand keeps a fresh identity, but still is very much Fairfax and Favor.

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One of the biggest treats (for a packaging geek like me) is receiving a delivery. This is where the brand gets things ‘just right’. Open the shoe box – it slides open like a draw and you want to keep it just for that… and you see two beautiful navy dust bags with gold embossed logos. I’m maybe a little OCD but I’m a sucker for dust bags. Why not look after your treasures well? Next is a lovely navy branded envelope containing a beautifully printed catalogue – because you will be thinking of your next purchase already right? A lovely hand written note hoping my shoes will fit perfectly – a lovely touch! Then two A5 ivory, gold embossed cards, one inviting you to the list of events that FF will be attending, and to stop by for a drink or two – well who wouldn’t? And another inviting FF fans to tag the brand their Instagram images, with a customer every month winning a £250 in store credit voucher for the ‘best Fairfax & Favor photo’. Simple marketing, stylishly executed and totally fitting with the brand.

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It’s this quality detail, working with a great manufacturer to keep stock levels up to scratch and the quality high that makes the Fairfax ad Favor work. Using all the best bits of tech, in a classic way to keep the brand faithful happy. Add to this excellent customer experiences on-stand or online, plus the ability to have your order arriving the next day. It is true to say that Fairfax and Favor are here to stay and with marketing and an attention to detail they deserve all the recognition they have received.

To find out more visit: www.fairfaxandfavor.com

 

 

The B&W Creative guide to taking on-point Flat Layout Photos

Flat lay photos have been popularised over the last few years or so on Instagram, and way before then in glossy mags – they are a classic, simple and chic way to show off your favourite objects and current addictions in a way that captures interest. I’ve seen them used loads in Food & Fashion editorials, blogs and on social media platforms… but now they are working their way into the equestrian industry.

Flatlays are a really simple way to create interesting and very personal posts, specific to your brand and what you do. I personally love Paris in Four Months, Flatlay@bali_ayu and mamiaoyagi

So, you if you want to try taking some flatlays images here are some B&W tips to creating cracking shots and some ideas of apps and software to help you edit and refine them.

  1. Keep your background clean and neutral

You don’t want the surface behind the objects to take away from the products you are taking pictures of. If you are contemplating taking a series, then consider keeping the background consistent. Backgrounds could be a white or plain wood table top, granite counter, a white sheet or even a simple concrete floor (like my images in this blog – I did sweep up first!)

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  1. Find a suitable light source – ideally sunlight

Natural light is the best light source to show off the objects you are taking photos of. For sure you can add a filter later on in an app (but this won’t get rid of unwanted shadows). A good light source will really support the quality of your images, so work in the daytime if possible.Equally I don’t use a flash on my camera as I’m not keen on the quality this gives. At a push I use an angle poise lamp with a super white bulb, but rarely go down the artificial light route.

  1. Theme it up…

Think about creating a series of flat lays with a linking theme, for example, the types of objects or their colours. This not only will help you construct visually interesting images, but when they are uploaded to social media they also show a consistent theme. Consider the colours of the objects, contrasting colours and snippets of really piercing colour can lift a composition. Likewise pairing a shirt, belt and a necklace and show an outfit inspiration and can be laid out interestingly.

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  1. Layout

This is the hardest aspect to crack and needs consideration and practice to get it right. Flat objects, by nature are easy to capture as they sit or lay flat. Clothing needs arranging and folding to work well, so in this sense is trickier to capture. Objects can also angle off the image, you don’t have to include the whole object in shot. You can also try layering objects as I have with this boot composition. Experiment with contrasting textures and props to develop your theme. Flat lays are all about creating a lifestyle image so think about what that could or should be.

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  1. Space it out

Give your objects space to ‘breathe’, less is more! Too many elements can be visually confusing – especially to someone viewing via their phone. Think of arranging in 3’s and 5’s when choosing your objects as these groupings can often work best together.On an iPhone iOS7 there is a handy ‘square’ function which helps you to template up and arrange a flat lay ready for Instagram uploading – so use tech to your advantage!

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So you’ve thought about your background, light, theme and layout… now what are the best apps to edit images in to share?

Instagram –  Instagram (iOS / Android) – Pretty much the number 1 favourite for many and growing massively in popularity over the past few years due to the ability to tag. The filters and overlays are pretty good to. A great app, just remember slick images and hashtags are king! 

VSCO (iOS / Android) My personal favourite as I like the simple layout and the trademark filters (which VSCO prefers to call “Pre-sets”). It’s like Insta for cool kids. (the images in this blog were edited via VSCO).

Flatlay (Coming Soon) You use any image you have already taken on Instagram, Pinterest or within your library and plug it alongside a collection of products you have curated. Share it with the Flatlay community and the world via your page and social channels. The app that’s set to make flatlays even more commercial.

Snapseed (iOS / Android) A retouching and photo editing tool that helps enhance your photo to give you the cleanest image. Some useful stock filters and effects that will help you make the most of your images.

Lightroom (iOS / Android) An industry standard piece of software created by Adobe. There are a selection of photo shoot pre-sets and you can adjust hues, colour tones and add effects to your images.

Bazaart (iOS) An app to help you make really clean backdrops and crop product shots against a flat white background. You can then collage products together and share via social. There is an upgrade that connects directly with the desktop version of Photoshop for the Mac. New import and export options let users easily switch between Bazaart on mobile and Photoshop on the desktop at will via your Creative Cloud account. A handy one for apple users.

Enjoy your image creation! Let me know how you get on x