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#14 Finding Your Niche as an Equestrian Influencer with Maddie Houser of The Blonde and The Bay

Madelyn Houser, a.k.a. the Blonde and the Bay, is a USDF Bronze and Silver Medalist and equestrian influencer.

Maddie documents her journey with her now retired Dutch Warmblood mare, Leah, and her new quarter horse gelding, Ryder, a former western pleasure horse that she’s been retraining for dressage. Maddie’s Instagram @theblondeandthebay_ showcases their training progressions, and her blog, The Blonde and the Bay, is an extension of the supportive community Maddie built through Instagram. You will see and read her transparent, honest thoughts, and it’s a refreshing take on the often “highlight reel” of most equestrian Instagram accounts.

In this episode, we discuss things like being an equestrian influencer and building a personal brand, retraining a western pleasure horse for dressage, and so much more.

Podcast Transcript

This transcript was created by an AI and has not been proofread.

This transcript was created by AI and has not been proofread

[SPEAKER 1]Welcome to the Equestrian Connection podcast from wehorse, the online riding academy. My name’s Danielle Kroll, and I’m your host. On this week’s episode, we’re talking with Madeline Hauser, or as many of you know her as, the blonde and the bae. Maddie is a USDF bronze and silver medalist with her now-retired Dutch Warmblood mare, Leah. And in April 2021, she started a new journey with a quarter horse gelding named Ryder, a former Western Pleasure horse that she’s been retraining for dressage. Maddie’s Instagram account showcases their training progressions, and it’s been really fun to follow along through their journey together. Her blog, also called The Blonde in the Bay, is an extension of the supportive community Maddie built through Instagram. You’ll see and read her transparent honest thoughts, and it’s a really refreshing take on the often so-called highlight reel of most equestrian Instagram accounts. I’m super excited to chat with her today and discuss things like being an Equestrian Influencer, how to get started if anyone’s interested, building a personal brand, retraining a Western pleasure horse for Dessage, and so much more. So let’s dive in. Maddie, I’m so excited that you’re here with us today. We’ve been really looking forward to this, and I know that our audience is going to enjoy this as well. So let’s dive right in. How did you get into horses and what were your first few years like as an equestrian?

[SPEAKER 2]Well, thank you for having me on the podcast. I’m super excited to be here and to talk with you and the listeners today. So how I got started into riding, my mom grew up as a definite horse girl. She was around horses from an early age and I’m her only child. So I think I was destined to become the next generation horse girl in my family. So when I was younger, I actually grew up in New York state. Um, I was born in the city and then we rode on the weekends out in long Island. And my mom was a hunter jumper, pretty active, not on the competition circuit, but active on just the riding training circuit in general. And at three years old, that’s when I first sat on a horse and it happened to be my mom’s like 17, three hand Hannah Marion.

[SPEAKER 1]Oh my gosh.

[SPEAKER 2]His show name was Good Thoughts and I always loved that, but we all called him Bob. And he was beautiful, liver chestnut with four white stockings and a bald face. And he was definitely a gentle giant. So she would throw me up there and lead me around. And, you know, back then I had a helmet, but it wasn’t, you know, the safety technology has come a long way since 19, I would have been, let’s see, 96. So it’s come a long way since then. But, you know, just being immersed in it from a young age. And then by four, I was doing, you know, little pony camps during the summer. And it just kind of revolutionized, I guess, ever since then. I started in the hunter circuit riding ponies. My first horse show was the Hampton Classic in 97. I did the lead line there. And then I went back in 98 before we moved back to Texas where my mom was originally from. Once we moved back to Texas of course the first to-do thing on my mom’s list was to find a barn that she could ride because she was bringing her horse from New York and obviously I needed an outlet. So started riding at a barn, a hunter jumper barn nearby. taking lessons on their, you know, string of lesson horses. And they had a pony there named Brightwood, who they kind of paired me with for the lesson program. And he was a strawberry Roan, Welsh pony, same thing, four white stockings, bald face. And he was the cutest thing ever. Man, that pony taught me how to ride, you know, every typical pony thing that ponies typically do to young kids.


[SPEAKER 2]did it. I remember trying to get him the canner and he would just really, really fast trot and throw his head down to the ground and try to pull me off over his head. But we really formed a connection from an early age and I think I was eight years old. We got to the barn after school and they wouldn’t let me go to Brightwood stall and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t allowed to go to Brightwood stall. Well, I had to wait because they were decorating it. My mom had surprised me with purchasing Brightwood So he was my first pony and that’s such a cute first pony story. Oh, the rest is is history. You know, he has a very cool, cool background. He was one of, you know, I think, gosh, only several horses that survived a massive flood in that barn. He swam out of a window and they found him on the on the road. There’s a big hill that goes to this farm. They found him on that. Then the barn was out of town at a show.

[SPEAKER 1]Oh, my God.

[SPEAKER 2]To the stable to rescue the horses. So a lot of them, unfortunately, didn’t make it. But he was one of the ones that was able to swim out of the barn window. And they found him on a hill. And ever since then, he hated water. You come at him with the hose and he just wouldn’t, you know, he would let he would tolerate it, but he wouldn’t like it.

[SPEAKER 1]Oh, my gosh. I know.

[SPEAKER 2]So he had a cool background. But, you know, the rest the rest is kind of history with him. He ended up living until he was 38. He passed away. in late 2019 and we’d given him to a dear friend of ours. I’d had him all the way up until that. And we’d given him to a friend in 2014 when we had to sell our property. And she kept me apprised to everything. You know, she had kids and I would go visit him. So it was the best situation, but he definitely instilled that drive to do better and to form that what’s the word I’m looking for to form that spark for equestrianism. You know I I did the hunters with him and then in 2004 my mom wanted to try dressage because she was getting older and you know jumping wasn’t her her vibe anymore and we went to a dressage barn and I was adamant that I was never going to do dressage. Come hell or high water. I was not going to do boring dressage. I wanted to jump. Couldn’t couldn’t have cared less. I definitely threw a hissy fit until I took my first dressage lesson. And then I was hooked from a young age. So from 2004 until now, I’ve been a dressage writer and, uh, I definitely owe a lot of things to, to Brightwood. He definitely made me the equestrian I am today.

[SPEAKER 1]Oh my gosh, I love that. I love that story. It’s so funny. I also was very against dressage. So in Pony Club, I did Pony Club all through, you know, growing up. And that’s one of the things that you have to do in Pony Club. And I just thought it was so boring. And I had a naughty little pony as well. And I love to jump. So I remember we went into our dressage show and he was being so naughty and we just constantly kept jumping out of the rainbow. I was like, I hate this. I’m never doing this again. And here I am. Attempting dressage.

[SPEAKER 2]It bites you and then you’re stuck with it. But I mean, you know, I wasn’t a serious hunter. I remember going to one hunter jumper show in maybe 2000 or 2001 at our local venue here. It was the Christmas show and it was colder than you know what. It happened to be just a cold snap in Texas. And I could not control him going over the jumps. I would just point and shoot at that point. I was just like holding on for dear life. And I remember the day that I was supposed to compete. It was so cold. And I couldn’t feel my legs. And he stopped in front of a little X in the warm up. And I just went tumbling off the side. And we I don’t think we ended up going into our class because I was scared. I mean, I’m like, I’m tiny. And this pony is just like zooming around, jumping the jumps. And he knew his job. He knew, you know, how to do everything. It was me that was like, Okay, I don’t think I’m cut out for this.

[SPEAKER 1]And I also can’t feel my legs.

[SPEAKER 2]eight years old and frozen yeah this is going to be a good combination and ever since then you know mad credit to the jumpers they’re in the class of their own but for me i’m just not brave enough i like to stay on the ground and you know i get enough excitement in that in that regard yeah so going from brightwood did you go right away to leah like walk us through that process So coming from Brightwood, there were a lot of horses in between Brightwood and Leah, mostly less than horses, you know, horses that were in programs. I think after Brightwood, I did own another mare, and that’s a long story for another day, but it ended up not working out, just unfortunate circumstances. And so after that, I ended up moving barns to a local another local barn, but it had more girls my age that were riding actively. It was more sense of a community. So I got into that. And I hopped around from different lesson horses. There was one that I showed, I think for four years, his name was sizzle. He was a blind in one eye quarter horse, big quarter horse, like 16, two chestnut, but he was blind in one of his eyes. I can’t remember which one, but he taught me a lot. And he was kind of like mine for all intents and purposes. I showed him from, I think 2007 to 2009.


[SPEAKER 2]We showed two years and we’re together for four years, something like that. It’s been a long time. Did a lot of training level with him and some first level dabbled in first level. And then after that. I ended up moving the horses that we had at home because my mom still had a horse at that point and she was riding. His name was Henry and he was an orange tracaner. We always called him the orange beast, but he was actually not the stereotypical tracaner that you see today. very calm, steady Eddie. And so I took over the ride on him. And at that point I was riding in our backyard and not too serious about it. I’d gone through a couple other experiences and just was like, you know, I want to do this, but I’m not like happy go lucky. You know, it was 2009, 2010. And I remember going out of town with some girlfriends. One of them was riding with the trainer and said, hey, you should give her a call and take a lesson with her.

[SPEAKER 1]Why not?

[SPEAKER 2]And that person happened to be Ava, my current trainer. So I called Ava and told her, you know, I’m 10 minutes away from you. Will you come teach me in my field behind my barn? And she said, sure, why not? So I started riding Henry with Ava pretty seriously with her before moving Henry to a full-time training program. And my mom had kind of taken a back seat and she said, here, you, you take him and see what you can do with him. She had had a bad fall back in the day and broke her shoulder. So she wasn’t too serious about riding so much anymore as she got older. So taking over the ride on Henry in 2010, moving into Eva’s, I all of a sudden found this, you know, rekindled that passion of like, wow, I really loved your size and I’m, you know, I’m okay at it. I feel like I could make something out of this. So took Henry and competed just training level with him. while Ava was also showing him first level. So we were kind of dabbling back and forth and he was a great horse. I love him to death, took him to regionals in, let’s see, 2011 for training level. Did okay. It was juniors. Um, and then after that, I started to get hungry for more and messing around with Henry. He was going to be the perfect lower level school master for someone. You could never quite get the flying change. Something wasn’t a hundred percent right there. And I’d reached that point in my writing after from 2004 to 2010, where I was ready to kind of take that next step.

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[SPEAKER 2]And a lot of the talk in our region at that point was about young riders and juniors. And I didn’t really know much about it, but I’d grown up around it. And it always intrigued me because that was the logical next thing was, oh, I want to do that. But instead, after talking with my trainer and laying out my goals, she was fantastic. And she was able to find me a schoolmaster named Clovis, who was 21, I think at the time 19 or 20 plucked out of the past year, massive 16, three Oldenburg gelding.

[SPEAKER 1]Oh my God.

[SPEAKER 2]Was he difficult to ride? Difficult to ride so strong, so long in the back, just a 18 Wheeler for a horse, but we body clipped him, put him on some good food. And he started to teach me under Ava’s guidance, how to do flying changes, how to ride more technical movements.


[SPEAKER 2]In 2011, I, 2011, late 2011, beginning of 2012, I really started, you know, getting interested in, okay, like, you know, Ava said, let’s try to get your bronze medal. And at that point I was like, what’s that? You know, I had to Google what, what getting your bronze medal was, um, which is the two scores at first, uh, two scores at second, two scores at third above a 60. For those of you that don’t know, uh, USTF dressage rider performance, blah, blah, blah. So I took him to a show in the spring of, I think, 2012. And I was one score shy of my bronze. And then the following show after that, I was able to actually get my bronze medal with him. I wanted to go on and do the juniors or at that point, no, it would probably would have been the young riders, but he being his age and whatnot, I knew that wasn’t fair. He had already taught me so, so, so much that he was, you know, that would not have been fair to him. So we were in a point where we could move on to that next horse. However, we would have to sell Henry, which was the right decision, because as you know, money doesn’t grow on trees and horses is expensive. But fortunately, fortunately, it was time for Henry to his ideal candidate was someone older that wanted to just training for second level enjoy him enjoy his presence.


[SPEAKER 2]We ended up going to California. At this point, Clovis was pretty much slowing down in his in his career. We were able to find him a fantastic home in New York, actually. And the lady, she took him for free and absolutely loved him. And he lived a long, happy life with her. He wasn’t ever mine. So that was the next decision for him. But going to California, we found my young riders horse that I thought was the be all end all. He was flashy and amazing and I loved him and I was like, this is everything I’ve wanted. And then he got to Texas and he dumped me the first day that I rode him in the arena.

[SPEAKER 1]Oh, no. Yes.

[SPEAKER 2]I rode him in California and he was great. And then fresh off the truck, my trainer Ava got on him and then I went to get on him to do a flying change and he dropped the shoulder and dumped me. So that kind of set the tone for our partnership. I feel like I’ve kissed a lot of toads to get to Leah. And I feel like that’s maybe sometimes normal, but maybe not. I think my journey has been pretty unique to get to Leah because it’s been a progression of experiences, but I ended up showing Sammy for a three months and we did quite well. I mean, I was very pleased with our results. You know, we took him to a show like a month and a half after I bought him, which hindsight probably wasn’t the, you know, brightest idea. Um, but you know, scored really well at third level. And then in the beginning of October, we went to a show in Houston and Saturday was the best, like fantastic. I mean, we were cleaning up in the seventies at fourth level. I was riding that high, you know, the typical young rider, like, Oh, I’m untouchable, like blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And the next morning there was a cold front that came through and we were warming up and I was riding him long and low to try to get him to stretch to his back and he spooked. And when he spooked, I sat back up on him. Um, he kind of dropped his shoulder and then I swerved like this and he proceeded to launch me into the air and I, he bucked me off in the warmup concussion, you know, blacked out the whole nine yards.

[SPEAKER 1]Oh my gosh.

[SPEAKER 2]And that was a downward spiral for me. That was the first time that I had ever been afraid of horses, which was a very foreign territory for me, because as a kid and a teenager, you’re not really scared. You think you’re invincible and that, you know, nothing bad is ever going to happen to you until that happens. And it had been leading up to to it. You know, he was a hot, sensitive horse. And that was something that I was definitely not used to. So the period after that was very, very tough. And that was from November to August. So it was quite a ways, you know, time between that. It got to the point where Ava would try to get me on the horse and I would walk and he would do something and I would immediately start crying. It just scared me so badly because I never knew what he was going to do. He was super quick. And he loved to drop his shoulder and bolt the other way. And I’m tall. There’s a lot to like, you know, get in the saddle. So I’m not, you know, small and, you know, I can’t, I don’t move quickly. So an attempt to rebuild the partnership I had with the horse. We took the horse home to our property at that point where we were living. And I think I rode him twice on the property from, you know, April to August is when we ended up taking him home. He would try to bolt, you know, with me and it just, it didn’t work. And the crowning blow was, he tried to jump out of his stall, something spooked him and he tried to run over me and jump out of his stall. And I got out of the way just in time before he ran me over. And I remember closing that stall door and being 100% vulnerable, just looking at him. And I’d never thought this before about any horse, but I just looked at him and I was like, I hate you. And for me, that was like, oh my God, I just said that. And it was really difficult as a junior going through that because then you had people online, you know, that were writing horrible things about me and mothers of adult, you know, adult women writing things that I had no skill or no talent or that my parents were buying me horses worth, you know, luxury sport cars. And then I had no idea what it was like to pay the bills or anything. And that’s actual quote from one of them that I’ll never forget. I’ll say that’ll stay with me forever. And so I was not only dealing with that, but I was also dealing with what I was dealing with. And I remember my mom was down there and she was like that’s it we’re going to sell the horse and to hear her say that. I just broke down in tears, because it was such a relief like I couldn’t admit it to myself that. I was afraid, but to know that she recognized it and that she was going to put a stop to it was like, Oh my God, you know, thank God somebody knows because you want to be, you want to put up that front. That’s like, I’m not afraid. I can do it. It’ll be fine. I can get over it. And you know, I know how much was invested, you know, to get me to this point in my writing career, my time, Ava’s time, money, you know, and I felt like I was letting everyone down.


[SPEAKER 2]to have that be recognized was like okay and I had to just let go because I knew my relationship with that horse was over. It was never going to work and so having said that we sent him back to California and he ended up selling to a junior who still has him to this day that was in 2013 and He’s retired now, but she could ride the hair off of him and it didn’t bother her. And I were friends and no hard feelings, but it was just like a relationship that didn’t work. But what I didn’t know that would come of that is a lot of confidence issues and this newfound fear. And at that point, I was kind of done. I was like, I don’t, I give up, you know, I’m just going to ride for fun. And I don’t want to do this anymore because it’s not worth it. And after, you know, conversations with my dearest friends out in California, where Sammy came from, you know, they called me and said, come out to California and come ride. We have a couple of horses that are for sale. If you find one great, if not, you just need you just need to come ride and have a good experience. So I took them up on their offer. And of course, me being nosy, I already knew what horses were for sale. And there was one mare that I had my eye on that She, you know, spoke to me through the picture. And we just I knew I wanted to meet her. I got to California. Actually, Facebook reminded me that it was nine years ago today that I was on a flight out to out to California. So that’s kind of ironic that we’re having this conversation.

[SPEAKER 1]Absolutely.

[SPEAKER 2]And I spent a week out there in Chino Hills at W Farms. Shout out to David and Elisa. They’re like my West Coast family. I love them to death. um and we got there on a monday or no sunday and we stopped by the barn and my first question was where is euphelia i want to see her i just want to say hi to her i’m not you know and so i went and just peeked in her stall and of course she just looked at me and you know i looked at her and thought okay well i want to ride her tomorrow and you know lisa was like sure yeah that’s fine the next morning we got there and She was the first horse in the cross ties. And I walked up to her and I immediately just started rubbing on her. And she took the biggest sigh as soon as I did that. I will never forget that moment. She just took this massive, like, deep breath. And I, at that point, I already knew. And it was literally, it sounds so cliche and so cheesy, but five minutes in I was like, this is my horse. And I got on her. And she took care of me. I was very nervous and timid and afraid. And she just, you know, I she I felt very safe on her. And I remember David saying that, you know, I would ride this mare into battle, she’s gonna take care of you, you just have to trust yourself. I love that, which I’m not good at. So I ended up staying there for a week, Monday to Sunday, I wrote her every day. And I we were able to make it happen. She was older, 12 years old. So I wanted something obviously that had some mileage, but we were able to make it work. And we purchased Leah in August of 2013. So she’s been with me ever since. And it’s truly, I know Brightwood, I owe everything to Brightwood, but I owe everything, everything to Leah because Without her, I don’t think I would be back in this headspace and this, you know, my confidence wouldn’t be where it is today. I mean, I owe that horse literally absolutely everything. She she brought me back to being comfortable and taking the risks that you need to in the saddle without constantly like spooking and everything. She wouldn’t spook. I was the one that would spook. So I she’s incredible. I’m very thankful to have her. or else I wouldn’t be where I am today.

[SPEAKER 1]I love that you still have her. And I love that she’s still very much a part of, you know, you’re you have her at home, don’t you?

[SPEAKER 2]She is actually she’s at the training barn now, but she’s fully retired. We had her at home, but we ended up selling our property. We move a lot real estate family. So we ended up selling our property last summer. So she’s back at the training barn, but she literally all she does is just relax in her paddock all day and eat. So I need to get her back in some sort of training program or some sort of work. But at that point, you know, she’s 21. She deserves to just be a horse.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, she’s had a good life. So at what point did you start to document your time with Leah, like what inspired you to begin to share and showcase your equestrian journey? Because it started with Leah, did it not?

[SPEAKER 2]It did. You know, I just wanted a space to post horse pictures unapologetically. You know, you always are worried you’re going to bombard all your friends on Facebook like, look at my horse, look at my horse. And I know that they really don’t care in a good way. And as they shouldn’t, you know, it’s fine. But I wanted a space to really kind of channel my creativity. I love to get behind the camera. And I thought Instagram would be a good platform for that. And I started in 2015. This was before we competed or anything. I bought Leah in 2013 and took about a two year hiatus to really get to know her and get on my feet again, because there was no way I was going to be able to mentally and emotionally get back in the show ring immediately. And I wasn’t the rider that she needed me to be at that point. I needed her in that time more than she needed me. I needed her to you know, hold my hand and to relinquish that trust to her and let her show me what it’s like to trust a horse again. So I use that time period to just keep to myself. You know, I needed to get back on my feet. And then in 2015, you know, I started looking around and seeing a few other horse accounts on Instagram and thought, man, that kind of sounds fun. And oh, the blonde in the bay, that’s a really cute name. So I’m going to go with that. And the rest is kind of history. I mean, I started posting religiously and just kind of documenting my journey. And at first, it definitely started out as more of a vanity kind of platform, like, oh, I’m wearing this outfit today. And look at, you know, how pretty Leah is. And then I started realizing that there was a need for people to share their journey. And I wanted to do that from a different point of view because as someone who was picked on for riding schoolmasters and horses that knew more than I did, I wanted to be able to show people that just because you’re riding a nicer, you know, fancy horse, which I hate that terminology, Because you hear people use it in a negative way all the time but just because you’re writing a schoolmaster doesn’t mean it’s any less straightforward or any, you know, any easier. And I thought that would be a good, a good approach to social media because I hadn’t seen that. needless to say writing about it brought you know people that said hey I understand I’m in the same boat too I get what you’re saying and then it just kind of morphed into this whole community that it, I’ve never expected it to grow. And I still, you know, to this day, like, I’m not a massive influencer, but I have a good following. And I love the people that want to invest their time and energy. And I have people that have followed me since the beginning, which is crazy, because that’s been seven years of my life. that I’ve documented on social media. And it’s definitely changed. I mean, it’s not the same climate as it was when I first started, but you find that core group of girls that have supported me through and through, and I’m very, very thankful for them. I think it just kind of started as a creative venture and I ran with it and now it is what it is today. It’s brought me a lot of cool opportunities like being able to talk with you and connect with many other like-minded equestrians. I don’t regret any decision to start the Instagram so it’s been really, really cool.

[SPEAKER 1]One of the things I found interesting when you were speaking there is you had mentioned that you wanted your platform to almost be like a different perspective. So looking at like writing the schoolmaster, showing it from that perspective, it’s not any easier. You still have, you know, very much a journey. And so to me, that sounds like you knew maybe consciously, maybe subconsciously, you knew to create a niche. And, you know, yeah, like to differentiate yourself from, I don’t say just in a questioning account, but like you have a certain reason for people to want to follow you, to connect with you and things like that. And I think that’s really smart. And like I said, maybe it was conscious, maybe it was subconscious. Maybe so. But even now, you know, your platform has changed bringing in Rider. It is a very different vibe from when it was mainly focused on Leah.

[SPEAKER 2]It has, for sure.

[SPEAKER 1]But I also feel like that’s now bringing in another group of people, right?

<p>[SPEAKER 2]I think so. It’s a different demographic for sure. You know, I was so passionate and I still am about talking for those riders that feel like that they can’t speak up or that they’re ashamed of, you know, the blessings that life has brought them. And I never want myself or other people to apologize for the opportunities that have been afforded to them. You know, I’m a firm believer that we’re all on different journeys for a reason. Some people are on different journeys than me. And that’s what makes a horse race, as my grandfather used to say. where I wanted my voice to be heard was to be that person to say, look, that’s great. You can have the nice horse and people can talk all the stuff that they want about you, but it doesn’t make it easier. You still have to learn how to ride that horse. And I think it puts you on a fast track to developing those more refined aids for the more refined movements. Do I think it’s fantastic for those that start from the bottom and go all the way up? Absolutely. I want to do that too. That’s why I’m doing it with Ryder. And I hope one day to do it with the warm blood, but where I was in my competence level, that would have been a complete and utter disaster for me. It would have ended so poorly. And I mean, we tried, we ended up breeding one of my, you know, a mare that we had, we lost both foals, you know, it was horrible. I wanted that for me, but now looking back, that would have been the worst thing that I could have done. I needed a schoolmaster in that time to bring my confidence back or else I don’t think we’d be having this conversation right now because I wouldn’t be riding. And so I want people to realize like, hey, just because, you know, sued on the street has a, you know, a small tour horse that she can’t quite ride yet, but she’s trying her hardest to figure it out.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Good for her.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]It doesn’t make her like, you know, she’s not the enemy here. I think to be a successful dressage rider and equestrian it’s all about staying in your lane and realizing that you are on an independent journey with your horse. You know we can get competitive at horse shows and want to win and want to do this and that but at the end of the day it’s a very individualized sport where you’re really competing against yourself not you know, the masses. And so finding that voice and finding that niche, the more I talked about it, like I said, the more people came out of the woodwork, like, hey, you know what? Yeah. Owning a schoolmaster is badass and it’s freaking hard, but at least I’m learning this and we ought to stick together. And so I wanted to create that narrative because after what I had heard, I mean, seeing it on social media and, you know, people writing stuff and you hear chatter, it shows of that, you know, her mom bought her that expensive horse. So what? Who cares? It has no bearing on your life. It only makes you look like the insecure person. So we’re all guilty of that. I mean, we all get in those modes of jealousy. I’m not saying I’m not perfect. I’ve definitely said stuff like that out of jealousy. But then you the cool thing about it is you recognize it and you look back and say no, that was not okay. And now that I’m older and more mature, I understand that It takes all kinds of kinds, and I’m not here to judge anybody, whether you have a million dollar velegro horse or you bred one that you’re bringing up the levels yourself. That’s what makes beauty of dressage. So that’s my, that’s my test for today.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]So if somebody that’s listening wanted to become an Equestrian influencer as well, what advice would you give? Now, I know you just gave really good advice about staying in your lane, find what makes you unique and your voice stand out. Is there anything else that you can think of if anybody wanted to get started?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]You know, I think it’s really just about staying authentic to yourself. You know, you’re not going to please everybody. You’re going to post stuff that some people don’t like. People are going to comment rude stuff on your post, like you don’t know how to ride or blah, blah, blah. But at the end of the day, they have no bearing on your journey. So you just post what makes you happy, whether that’s 100, you know, 100 reels, or pictures, or, you know, this narrative right now with Instagram, how the algorithm is changing for reels, and how people don’t like it. And, you know, I get it. But at the end of the day, that’s Instagram, you know, you can either get on the reels train, or you can be left behind. And you know, it’s, Don’t let anybody dictate how you post, I think is my biggest advice. You don’t need fancy equipment. You don’t need anything. You just need a camera and your truth. And there’s no right or wrong way to do a question on Instagram. You can choose to use it as a diary and share all your highs and lows, or you can use it as a highlight reel. It doesn’t matter. There’s no right or wrong one size fits all kind of platform. So find what makes you comfortable. I definitely, I enjoy sharing both sides, but the older I’ve gotten and just how the climate of social media is, I definitely find myself reining myself back in. I don’t think I need to put everything out on the internet anymore and I’m a happier person because of it. So you don’t have to share your whole life story. You can pick and choose. That’s the beauty of social media. You know, again, going back to just staying authentic to yourself and That’s pretty much it. I mean, there’s no true, as you know, there’s no true success to social media because Instagram changes their algorithm every other day. And Equestrian Instagram is such a small group compared to the whole Instagram world. You know, it’s easy for fashion bloggers to get thousands of followers in a, you know, not easy, but I feel like it’s more straightforward. to get a thousand followers if you’re just basic fashion but it takes a little bit if you want to grow your account in the equestrian world because we are a smaller group but you know just keep posting and and have patience and like I said there’s no real magic to it you just be you and tell your story and eventually people will hear you and they’ll either want to be part of it or they won’t and that’s the beauty of Instagram.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]I love that um</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]I’d like to think it’s good advice, but you know.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]I think that’s very good advice. Now, when we look at your profile, we see the change from Leah, the warm blood, to Ryder, the quarter horse. And I’m just going to come right out and say, I love quarter horses. Both of my horses are quarter horse crosses. They are so athletic and so level-headed. I think they’re geniuses. Have you felt that you faced any judgment with posting going from a warm blood to a quarter horse in the dressage world? Has your Instagram changed at all because of it?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]I don’t think so, not to my face, at least. I mean, everyone that I have met because of Rider, or even my friends, they have been truly some of the most supportive bunches in the world. And I’m very thankful for that. Even at horse shows, I’ve had people come up to me and say, hey, this is like really cool what you’re doing. I really appreciate it. And I’ve had a couple of people come up to say that. and that’s in my and they’re my friends and that’s you know i sometimes i need to be able to hear that because it’s easy to question yourself you know you know that what you’re capable of as a writer and it’s hard when the world feels kind of stacked against you because of finances or, you know, like Ryder was definitely not my first choice. I mean, but there was something about him in the video that I saw that I thought this is going to be fine. And I’d wanted a quarter horse to train up the levels because I knew that living at home at the time, I wasn’t capable of handling a young warm blood by myself. We didn’t have the true facilities, you know, that would help with that. We didn’t even have a barn so I figured a quarter horse route was a good route to go and I ended up finding Ryder and you know I’m sure there’s people out there that scratch their head and kind of wonder but Like I was talking about, everyone’s on their own journey and this is where I’m supposed to be right now. And everyone that I’ve met and talked to, they’ve been very supportive. So I’m very thankful for that. And it’s brought a whole new demographic to the Instagram as well and to the Blonde in the Bay. this was a question that I was getting way before I even announced Leah’s retirement is what are you going to do when you’re going to get another horse and to be honest it became a lot because I would get that question almost daily and you’re thinking to yourself well wait a second Leah’s not dead yet and we’re still competing actively she’s only 18 but I can’t afford to go buy a young warm blood right now I mean I can’t and so it’s such a compounding effect, because then you start wondering, okay, what’s going to happen to my writing career? And what am I going to post? I love The Bond and the Bay. How am I going to continue that? What’s going to happen to Leah? What am I going to do next? And so at that point, I had to just stop. And in 2020, that’s when I took that hiatus. I logged off of Lawn in the Bay in September 2020. We were getting married in October, you know, with COVID and it was just, it was too much. And so I just stopped and I didn’t post again until March, just letting everyone know, like, I’m still here, but needed to take a break. It was not in a good place mentally. It was not in a good place emotionally. It wasn’t healthy. And then I didn’t say anything. Only my close friends from Instagram knew that I was horse shopping for another horse. And I didn’t post again until May, I think, of 2021. Like, oh, hey, by the way, I bought a horse. And that’s when my friends that had stuck with that hiatus said, hey, we want to hear like, no, no, no, no, don’t, you know, they were messaging me like, what happened? You know, and so I thought, OK, well, this is going to be a cool journey to document so I slowly started dipping a toe back in and then now I’m pretty much in it again for the full time but like I said I put I pick and choose what I want to post because I don’t feel like my whole life needs to be on social media anymore but talking about Ryder has brought in so many fantastic people that have you know it’s his story has resonated with a lot of my followers and you know that makes me proud because it’s I’ve never done this before so it’s a whole new learning curve for me and I’m learning along you know with with everyone else it’s it’s done something like this so so far it’s been really really great I feel very lucky to have a lot of good people in my corner I know not always be that way.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]So I love the rider content. I personally, I find it very inspiring because in I’m in a very rural area of Canada and fancy horses are few and far between for us. We don’t see a lot of especially in the dressage world. It’s very hunter jumper around here. But for us, we’re riding a lot of off the track thoroughbreds. We’re riding a lot of quarter horses. We’re riding a lot of just random crosses of a variety of different breeds. So seeing the content of someone like yourself bringing a quarter horse along through the dressage levels and seeing him love it and be so successful at it. And it’s just it’s really inspiring. And I’m totally here for the content. I’m here for the rider content.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]I needed that today. I have big goals one day and I don’t want those to slip away, but I’ve realized that this is where I’m supposed to be right now. And it’s not every day that a 29-year-old can go buy a $50,000 to $80,000 Grand Prix, you know, schoolmaster or a young horse, you just can’t. And like I said, I was, I’ll be open. I was very blessed to have my parents help with Leah. That was fantastic. And I’ll never take that for granted, but I knew she was the last one. And so I knew if I wanted to continue my riding career, I had to go a different route. um and that’s where I found Ryder. One day I hope to you know be back in the tack with the warm blood and ride the Grand Prix and do what I want to do but just because I’m not there right now doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen and I think You know, I think that’s important for everyone to just, if you’re not, not that I’m not where I want to be right now, but if you have bigger goals and aspirations, you know, like Catherine Dufour said, if you can dream it, you can do it. There’s a way that anyone can do it, whether you don’t have, I don’t have syndicates or, you know, $300,000 sitting in the bank, but I’m never going to give up hope that one day I’ll be able to afford that really nice special horse like Leah again. And, you know, we’re all young. Like I said, I’m only 29, so I’m not going to hang up the well, it’s never going to happen for me.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Absolutely.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]You know, mentality. But in the meantime, you find ways to make it happen, whether that’s with horses like Ryder or, you know, something else. And it keeps you fit and keeps you sharp and. You make lemonade or margaritas out of limes. You know, you do what you gotta do to keep yourself in the tack. And Ryder’s been a fantastic stepping stone for me. He’s taught me so much and I’m really blessed to have him in my life.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]I love that. So you had mentioned getting married in 2020. And for those who don’t know, you’re married to a cowboy, which is like the ultimate horse girl dream. So he is a team roper, correct? Now, for those that don’t know, that is a very different equestrian sport from dressage. What is it like being married to an equestrian but in a completely different side of the sport? And do you guys learn from one another? Do you take anything from the Western world and apply it to the English world? Tell us about that.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Well, it’s pretty fantastic. I’m not going to lie. I will say, and the only reason I can say that is because I did date someone that gave me the ultimatum that like, you know, you’re either going to marry me and stop riding or we’re not going to, uh, to be together. So clearly that ended poorly for him, but, um, you know, it’s. It’s really special because I’ve all my life, I’ve prayed and hoped for someone that would understand just how much I love horses and how much I wanted this to be the biggest part of my life for the rest of my life. And it takes a special individual to recognize that and accept it and not feel it to be like a competition between them or the horse. And so when I first met Barrett and I found out that he roped and owned two horses, our first date, all we did was talk about horses and what we wanted to do in the future. And from that moment, you know, I knew that he was special. and hopefully he agrees that, you know, I have a special. He married me, so I must have been somewhat special, but it’s a really, it’s a really fun connection because I feel like I don’t have to apologize for the person that I am. I can spend, you know, my mornings at the barn and sometimes, a lot of the time, he likes to come with me and just hang out or I’m never ashamed for, you know, if I want to buy a saddle pad or if the horses needs, you know, barrier bills, nothing. It’s never a honey, is it OK? It’s always like, yeah, of course, why not? You know, and so I really felt like after everything I’d been through, like personally, dating wise, that to have someone that fully, truly wholehearted supported me and not only supported me, but loved it for himself was very important and really heavy on the fact that he loved it for himself. It’s because that way we could come together and love the horses together. So, you know, team roping is a whole different demographic than dressage. but it’s been such an awesome balance out for me because I’m very type A, typical dressage rider, type A, everything has to be perfect. I have to do this, this, this, this, like I’m, that’s the way that I am. When I go to a team roping, it’s like, there’s no rules. Like, oh, there’s, you know, kites flying next to the horses and they don’t care. That’s fine. Nobody’s wearing a helmet. Okay. Like people are clapping and, you know, and everyone’s just so laid back and kind. And so going from the dressage atmosphere to that, it’s a great balancing act because I can take a breath and be around the horses. And that helps remind me why I do this anyway. We’re all here to have fun and horses are a hobby for many, many of us. And so the roping side helps remind me that this is just a hobby. Like you don’t have to take everything so seriously. And I think that’s been one of the main things that I’ve picked up and has applied to my dressage career is that, you know, enjoy it. Have fun. Not every day you have to go to the barn and lay out a whole plan of what you’re going to be doing and how you’re going to be doing it. You can take it one day at a time and just let your hair down and take a breath. um you know that’s there are riding styles are so different that i didn’t i haven’t really picked up anything like tool wise but more so um general horsemanship you know being a little bit more not so uptight, you know, letting the horses, letting them be afraid and explaining to them like, hey, it’s OK, not like you have to do it. You know what I mean? And just a more relaxed way of of thinking and not, you know, when we brought Leah home, that was a whole other, you know. I don’t even know how to describe it, a whole other experience, because she had been a sheltered, you know, competition horse her whole life, and we had to introduce her to so many things that normal, you know, roping horses are like, I’m not afraid of the cow or, you know, the gator. And so that was a really good exercise for me to have Barrett there because I needed him. I needed his help and to try to get Leah through her insecurities. But just that mentality of like, Hey, you know, you’re going to be fine, but we don’t need to like, make sure everything is quiet and perfect for riding conditions. Like let them be, you know, so that’s really what I picked up. And then we do a lot of dressage with his main roping horse, just to keep him fit and balanced. And, um, you know, he’s very, always joke with me, like about dressage, but he, he appreciates it for what it is and he uses it on his horses. So it’s been a good kind of. mesh between us. I definitely needed that energy in my life as someone who’s a generally uptight, like, you know, everything has to be perfect kind of person.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]So I call my husband the string to my balloon.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Yes.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]And at first he was like, does that mean I hold you down? And I was like, no, it just means that if you weren’t there, I would just fly away.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Like we’re good. It’s the same thing. You know, we’re kind of that good combination of like, you know, I need you to help me stay grounded in those moments where I’m like, ah, you know, my horse is afraid of the cows and I don’t know what to do.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]And</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]You know, he’ll get in there with his groundwork, um, approach and really helped me. And, and, uh, no, it’s a really good balance. I remember when we first brought Ryder home, he wrote him the first few times for me. And, you know, it was just kind of that reaffirming moment of like, you know, we’re in this together and any horse that I have and any horse that he has in the future, it’s a partnership. um, between the two and there’s healthy tidbits that we can both apply to each horse. Um, it’s not a one size fits all as I’ve kind of said before, um, cause there’s invaluable lessons in the Western world that dressage riders can use. And then of course, dressage is great for the roping horses. So it’s a good balance. We work well together. We don’t argue too much, um, about, you know, who’s doing it right. And who’s doing it wrong, but it does get exciting when that happens.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]So, you know, So speaking of working well together, you recently started Cadence Creative together, which is making equestrian videos for facilities, riders, and brands. What has it been like venturing into equestrian marketing and where do you kind of see that going?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]It’s it’s different.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]It’s cool though.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]You know that’s more of like Barrett’s. I’m letting him run with that and I like to do the kind of the social media side of it. But you know he watching him kind of come into his own and and now that we have the camera equipment and everything, it’s been really fun and the people love it. I mean people love of course pictures of themselves and you know and videos and so getting into that creative space. and having the camera and having him with his YouTube has really kind of helped me tap into that creative aspect where now when I go to the bar and I’m like okay well this would be a good reel or this would be a beautiful photo or you know getting behind the camera for Ava. And, you know, it’s kind of tapped into that whole new side where I really, really enjoy it. And I’m excited to continue to see where the business will grow. It’s such a new, new thing for us, but we have already have had a couple of clients. So that’s been kind of fun to see it already developing because we don’t really have a lot of that in our area. And, uh, it’s just fun. I love editing and, and, uh, the, the creativity, you know, that’s one good thing that Reels has brought to Instagram as it taps into a whole new side of your imagination. Um, and it makes you see the barn kind of in a new light. And I know that’s the case for me when I’m behind the camera at the barn, it’s like a sport boot hanging from the stall can become a pretty picture if you shoot it the right way. And it’s that intrigue that I find really, um, really appealing. So I’m excited to see where where it goes and where Barrett can grow it even more. And I’ll be there in the background editing all the things and keeping things organized and cheering him on.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah. Well, what I’ve seen is lovely. I love the videos that you guys have done, the photos. It’s been really good. So do you have any advice for our listeners who might want to bridge their passion of horses and work, whether it’s something like a passion project such as a blog or an Instagram account or a career like marketing?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]I think it’s comes down to, and again, it sounds so cliche, you just have to do it. You know, at some point you’re not getting any younger. So if that’s something that you want to do, you know, you kind of have to break through that feeling of like, well, what are people are going to think? Or what are people, look, I’m sure on Instagram, you know, I’m sure people talk.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]It is what it is.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]You’re never going to, nobody’s ever going to like, or no, I shouldn’t say that. What I’m trying to say is you’ll never like, Not everyone is going to love you. Wow, that was like a mouthful to get out. But if you let that fear of what will people think, or should I really do it? I probably won’t be good at it. If you let that hold you back, then you’re never going to accomplish things in your life. You know, the blog, I don’t make any income from the blog, but I don’t care because I love doing it. And there are people out there that like to know what I’m writing about and know that we’re what we’re up to. And with Cadence, you know, we figured we both love the horse photography. We have the equipment. We might as well put it to work. you know, I work two full-time jobs outside of, you know, the Blonde in the Bay, not the Blonde in the Bay is a job, but you know what I mean? And Barrett has multiple streams of income. And so you just find a way to make it work. And I think in today’s day and time, you have to have multiple streams of income adequately, you know, adequately fund all of the things. But, you know, we just figured, let’s just do it and see where it goes. And if it fails, if it doesn’t work, okay, well, at least we tried. I would rather try than not try at all. And I think in the equestrian social media space can be intimidating because there’s a lot of opinions. There’s a lot of accounts. There’s a lot of, well, you shouldn’t be doing, you know, horseshoes are bad. Horseshoes are good. You need this turnout.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]You need this.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]You have to learn how to just turn your blinders on and say, you know what, I’m doing the best that I can for my horse. And I’m going to post about it. And at the end of the day, it is what it is. And so I think you know, if you’re passionate about writing and you love writing about your horse, somebody out there will read it. You know, you just kind of have to go for it. If you love to take pictures and film and somebody’s going to watch it. And that’s the beauty about, you know, social media and the internet is that you can do that and somebody will recognize you.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]So,</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]like I said, don’t let that fear of just, you know, failing or I’m not good enough or people are going to talk or anything. That’s all, you know, you have to just be confident in yourself and your abilities. And if you’re confident in yourself and your abilities and other people are going to be confident in you. Um, and I think that’s kind of been my main theme coming back from my hiatus.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Um,</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]You know, at first I left my page on private and then I started thinking to myself, you know what? I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to live in this fear of people talking behind my back or mean people commenting on my posts. I’m not going to do it because that makes me miserable. So, you know, I just do it and I don’t care because I love it. And I know there’s people out there that love it, too. And I think once you make that jump over that hurdle, it becomes a lot easier to follow your passions, whether professionally or personally.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]This has been such an inspirational episode. And before we wrap up, we have four questions that we ask all of our guests. They’re the four WeHorse questions. So the first one is, do you have a motto or a favorite saying?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Oh, yes, I do. It’s Eleanor Roosevelt said you can, or what did she say? No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. And that will always be my favorite quote because it goes back to everything we’ve talked about. No one can make you feel lesser than or inferior without you allowing it. And it takes a lot of mental strength to cross that, that hurdle and, and, and, and be mentally strong in today’s world. But once you do it, it, it’s a good feeling.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]So that ties in so well with what we’ve been discussing. The next one is who has been the most influential person in your equestrian journey?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Geez, I don’t know if I can pick just one. I think, you know, my mom has been there for me. She’s never missed a horse show. She only missed a horse show one time out of all my years of showing. Um, she has supported me. She’s influenced me to dream big and never give up, um, and to just keep going. Um, definitely my mom and then second would probably have to be Ava, my trainer, just because she’s been with me for so long. She’s always believed in me and fostered my talents and has provided me opportunities and has been there. You know, she’s like my sister now.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Um,</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]But those two women, I think, have been the most influential factors in my writing career, for sure. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Hmm. If you could give equestrians one piece of advice, what would it be? Oh, geez. Apart from all the advice that you’ve already given one piece of advice. Let’s see. I don’t know. I mean, you know,</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]I think if you have a passion for something, don’t let anyone try to tell you that you’ll never amount to anything or that you’ll never fulfill X, Y, and Z. When people say stuff like that, I think they’re just projecting their insecurities onto you. And it’s hard not to take that personally, but you just have to dig deep to believe in yourself. And, you know, I know that everyone comes from different backgrounds and it’s it can be really, really hard where you just want to throw in the towel. But if you genuinely love writing and you want to succeed and you want to do big things, don’t let anyone try to tell you that you’ll never be good enough. And if they do use it as motivation to push through and continue to go down the journey of where you want to be as a horse person, dressage rider, equestrian, show jumper, X, Y, and Z, it doesn’t matter. So is that a good piece of advice?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Absolutely. That was wonderful. It’s like a mic drop.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]I’m just making sure.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]I’m like, does that make sense? And then the last one is, please complete this sentence. For me, horses are blank.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]divine mirrors. I’m going to say they’re everything, but they’re definitely a mirror of yourself. they help you recognize aspects of you that mere mortals don’t really understand. You know, the horses have taught me responsibility, the meaning of hard work, the meaning of a dollar. You know, they teach you so many life lessons and they they call you out on your own insecurities and they help you, I think, be better, better, better people. And that’s what I mean by a mirror is looking at them. You see a reflection of yourself and how you want to, how you want to be treated and, and how, you know, how to approach life with a more empathetic approach. I think they really help you just recognize things, like I said, recognize things in yourself that you wouldn’t ordinarily do without their presence. So I think that’s what I mean when there are mirrors, you see things about yourself that you wouldn’t ordinarily see without them.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Absolutely. I’m going to link your Instagram, your blog, basically all the Blonde in the Bay links. I’ll also link Cadence Creative. Is there anywhere else that people can find you, connect with you, all the things?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Um, I think that’s it aside from my husband’s YouTube channel and you can check him out Barrett Hauser, um, on YouTube and he, we document our, a lot of our journey together, but a lot of it is the team roping side of things. And he does a great job in, uh, in, uh, documenting all of that. So that would be another place.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Perfect. This has been such a great episode, such an inspirational conversation. I can’t thank you enough for coming on here, but also being vulnerable and sharing your experience and giving the advice to everybody else that is going through all the things. And yeah, so thank you so much, Maddie. We’ll wrap up there. Yay. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Equestrian Connection podcast by wehorse. If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a rating and review, as well as share us on social media. You can find us on Instagram at wehorse underscore USA, and check out our free seven-day trial on, where you can access over 175 courses with top trainers from around the world in a variety of topics and disciplines. Until next time, be kind to yourself, your horses, and others.</p>

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