Sunday, September 2, 2018

off to the (DIY) races!

One of the nice things about living in Maryland is that there are always A TON of fun things to do with your horse. Beyond actual serious events (recognized or otherwise), we've got all manner of more low key fun shows, schooling events, paper chases and hunter paces, and team challenges.

doesn't charlie look thrilled to reprise his former role???
As such, my friends and I have made it tradition to get in at least one big team event per year. Often this ends up being a paper chase or hunter pace (basically the same type of event tho I believe hunter paces are typically around 2-3 miles and paper chases are more like 6-8 miles, tho even then I don't believe there are actually hard and fast definitions here).

In fact, for the last three years we've made it to one specific Labor Day paper chase at the local Tranquility Manor Farms.

Big Dee's is your one-stop-shop for all things race horse haha
Our first year, we dressed up in matching tan pants with our barn's polo shirts. Bc matching is half the fun of a team outing, right? And that had been our go-to outfit for other team outings too. But then our second year, we devised a plan for a surprise bridal shower theme since Rachael was getting married later that fall.

After the fun and creativity of that themed outfit ride, we never looked back. And last year we went with a "Chase the Rainbow" theme, with everyone picking their own color and getting matching tutus and feathery boas and all sorts of fun paints etc for the horses.

always a good idea to sketch out your idea ahead of time
It's definitely a fun tradition. and while costumes aren't required - or, uh, even necessarily encouraged - we're in too deep to stop now haha. 

So when we brainstormed a couple weeks ago about this year's effort, it was very convenient that Sarah had literally just the day before posted about her own team outfits at a recent hunter pace. And I shamelessly stole was totally inspired by that idea and carried it forward to our own team! We would be jockeys too!

the google is absolutely chock-full of jockey silk pattern charts
Tho, uh, we aren't racing insiders like Sarah haha so we don't all happen to have actual real jockey silks lying around. That's cool tho - DIY works for me!

$9 ebay shirt seemed perfect for the job, complete with mock stock collar. pro tip: stick some cardboard inside the shirt to keep the fabric relatively taut and to prevent the paint bleeding through to the reverse side.
Ordering the stuff for Charlie was the easy part - Big Dee's has all manner of racing gear. From top notch equipment to more affordable exercise type stuff. It took me a lot lot lot longer to figure out my own outfit. Initially I thought maybe I could pick up some used silks on eBay.... or maybe even some cheapo halloween costume.

run of the mill fabric paint (left over from a halloween costume ages ago) and a foam brush for maximum coverage
Nothing was quite right tho - either bc the colors were wrong or the price was wrong or.... idk, just not quite what I wanted. So next I started thinking about DIY options and found this simple "one size fits most" mock turtleneck short sleeve shirt on eBay for $9. Yup, sounds good to me!

the foam brush can create a crisp edge, tho the lines really don't have to be that precise to still convey the right effect
Unfortunately the sizing isn't actually..... particularly fantastic. It's that really really really stretchy micro-fiber-y type material that can stretch to the moon but clings in all the wrong spots. Oh well. At least it sucks up fabric paint like a champ!!

And the look is actually pretty spot on - that is, if you're built like a slab of cardboard haha. It'll do well enough tho haha.

if i had been really ambitious i would have added a small "6" below the CM, but sometimes less is more
I opted to keep my pattern relatively simple bc my freehand skills are.... questionable lol. Plus with the shirt being a little too small but extremely stretchy, I didn't want some intricate geometric pattern all warped and stretched once I'm actually wearing it lol #realtalk

The simple diagonal stripe across front and back seemed accessible enough even for me. It took up a lot of paint tho - basically that entire little bottle. It's possible that a less stretchy absorbent material would have required less paint, but if you choose to do any similar type of pattern, definitely plan accordingly.

The stripe by itself was fine enough, but I definitely wanted something blue on the shirt to tie it all together. Honestly I only went with red bc I had crimson fabric paint already, and the browband I ordered has red padding.

ta da! looks legit!!! too bad i'm not built like a slab of jockey meat haha, bc it doesn't look quite so crisp when i wear it lol
I didn't want to go overboard in the shirt design tho, since so many tend to just be one single color. And even tho I thought about adding a pattern to the sleeves or collar, I ultimately opted not to, feeling like I probably would have made it look too "busy" or somehow screwed it all up when it already looked fine enough.

Just the "CM" brand across the front felt like the perfect added embellishment without being too much. It's worth noting tho: this actually is furniture paint haha, left over from some other past project. I have no idea how well it'll age on this shirt through laundry or whatever. So I was careful to put it high enough on the chest by my collar bone so that it won't be stretched while on.

it is always recommended that you have a cat on hand for any DIY project
For the horse, I picked up a baby blue saddle towel, blue goggles, a blue and red browband, and blue and white racing reins. Those suckers are thick tho, with surprisingly prickly grips. Gloves will be a must with them haha.

saddle towel, felt #6, DIY blinkers, and goggles, reins + browband from Big Dee's
I also tried to DIY a pair of blinkers out of the Roma stretchy bug-eyed fly mask that Charlie has fully declined to wear. Part of me was sad to cut it up bc it was a perfectly good fly mask.... but ya know. Priorities etc. I also cut out some 6's from white felt I had lying around to glue onto the saddle towel.

browband fits like.... it was made for a race horse haha
And I gotta be honest here. I'm reeeeeeally ridiculously excited about this bridle haha. In an extremely childish sort of way. And may or may not be planning to repurpose it into our normal use hackamore bridle haha. Bc why not, right?

"blinkers" were...... kinda ghetto, tbh. i loved the idea of them, but they're not quite good enough to make the final cut, unfortunately
The blinkers tho.... Eh, not so much. The eye holes are HUGE and totally out of proportion. I feel like they don't lie nicely with the bridle and end up distracting more from the other pieces I like more (like the browband). Like, from a distance, having the face covered with a slinky kinda screams "Race Horse!" But up close and personal? It's just not quite the right look. Oh well....

the rest looks pretty good tho! my favorite part is the absolutely useless curb strap haha
Tho for shits and giggles I also added a leather curb strap to the bridle. It serves no real purpose on that snaffle bit but.... I feel like it still adds to the picture haha. So it stays lol. I just hope I don't end up  regretting not having a noseband on Sir..... We'll see tho!

now to just put all the pieces together and hit the road!!
The ride itself is bright and early this morning. Actually probably by the time you read this, we may already be finished! At least, hopefully. The forecast is highly suspicious. Plus, ya know, as of this writing Charlie hasn't abscessed yet from his mulchy splinter from last Monday. It's still entirely possible tho, bc Charlie.

Wish us luck tho!! And if nothing else, hopefully we at least get some fun team pictures!! ;)


  1. No matter how many times people explain it to me, I still don't understand the difference between paper chases and hunter paces.

    1. to be 100% honest i'm not convinced that there IS a difference haha..... so far as i can tell, it's just about galloping around and jumping some stuff and having fun!

  2. I've never heard of a paper chase! I've done hunter paces before, but never had the idea to have a team costume. I love it!

    1. hunter paces and paper chases are basically the same thing! costumes make everything better tho ;)

  3. Ahh how fun! agree that the blinkers looked so promising when sitting with your cat and the other accessories haha. can't wait to see the whole diy adventure put together and Charlie's return to 'racing' :)

    1. I was weirdly sad the blinkers didn’t work out haha. My friend picked up a real pair - actually turns out you can take the eye pieces off so you still get the full look without impeding the horse’s vision. It looked great!

  4. Sounds like fun! Can't wait to see it all put together

  5. You always have such fun adventures with Charlie! And the costume looks terrific

    1. Thanks!! We try not to keep it too serious all the time over here haha

  6. Haha I love it all! Awesome! Good luck!

    1. Thanks haha!! We were SUPER SLOW omg haha, some of our horses were being a little too.... literal with the theme so we had to spend more time chilling out than expected. Actually got passed by a couple other groups lol. So I guess the jockeys weren’t too speedy! It was super fun tho!

  7. I LOVE this! Can't wait to see the final pictures!

    1. I can’t wait to share once I get them all organized!!

  8. I can't wait to see the result. That sounds like so much fun!

    1. So much fun - I think the horses enjoyed it too!

  9. You guys always have the funnest outfits!

  10. Obviously, I love this theme LOL. Looks like such a great time! I miss hunter paces...


Thanks for leaving a comment! If you have trouble with this form, please email: fraidycat.eventing at gmail.