We are riders. We are SmartPak
SmartPaker: Sara from Creative
Horse: Diem, Thoroughbred gelding
Sara as a rider: I think I fell in love with horses before I could walk, but I didn't start taking lessons until I was 12. I rode hunter/jumper for many years, including two years on an IHSA team. After college, I moved to Massachusetts and found an event barn where I fell in love with my current (and first!) horse, Carpe Diem. We've been learning to event together for the six years that I've had him, and he's making the leap to Training level this year - I just hope I'm ready to make it with him!
Sara as a SmartPaker: Working in the Creative department at SmartPak is nothing short of a dream job. As the Creative Director, I'm able to help determine how we present ourselves to the riders browsing our catalogs in barns and tack rooms across the country. We work very hard, but it's a whole lot easier when you're looking at images of gorgeous horses all day.
All about Diem: Diem is the quintessential chestnut OTTB. At 13 years old, he's still a puzzle to figure out every time I ride, and he's an absolute blast when the pieces come together. He's athletic and bold, and he jumps around cross country like a machine. The dressage doesn't come naturally to either of us, but working through that challenge has taught me a lot about patience and persistence. And, it makes me appreciate the jumping phases even more.
SmartPaker: Jen from the SmartPak Store
Horse: Tally, Thoroughbred/Warmblood mare
Jen as a rider: Apparently I've been obsessed with horses since I was born, and I used to beg for pony rides on a regular basis. I started showing in 4-H, progressed to equitation and jumpers in high school and rode on the IHSA team in college where I also discovered the joys of eventing! After graduating I learned how to sit while working for a dressage trainer and now am a committed low-level eventer in the ever-elusive quest to put together three solid phases.
Jen as a SmartPaker: I manage SmartPak's Retail Store in Natick, MA - if you are ever in the area, please stop by to say hi and check out all our amazing products in person! We also have a fantastic clearance section with some unbelievable deals.
All about Tally: Taliafera is a 9 year old TB/WB chestnut mare and she is just starting her eventing career. She was very green when I got her last year, so we spent a lot of time exploring the great outdoors and learning that the dressage arena is really not that bad. She loves to jump and has gotten quite bold in the XC, so I'm excited to start showing!
SmartPaker: Brittany from Creative
Horse: Nate, Morgan gelding
Brittany as a rider: Ever since I was the girl with 1,000 breyer horses and the raggedy braid in her hair, I was always obsessed. In second grade I moved into a town with a barn right down the street, which is when I started taking lessons. It was a Morgan show barn, and there I bought my horse Nate and we competed in local and A-circuit shows. In college I made the equestrian team, and that's when I caught the jumping bug.
Brittany as a SmartPaker: I'm a Junior Graphic Designer, which means I basically have the most fun job ever. I look at photos of horses every day and design things for horses and horse owners. What could be better .. ?!
All about Nate: Nate is a 20 yr old 14.3 bay morgan. When we first got him he was a seven-year-old western show horse, but we quickly converted him to English. Now, he's a horse that wears many hats and he has certainly taught me a lot. He's my English-ish, jumping, neck reining, trail-going, gallop-gung-ho-ing, canter/loping, trotting/jogging, bareback and bridleless, big ribbon winning, snorting, spooking, lower lip drooping, halter tag champion, itchin' for a neck scratching, SUPERSTAR! :)
SmartPaker: Susan from Barn Sales
Horse: Excel, Oldenburg gelding
Susan as a rider: I've grown up riding hunter/jumpers since the age of 9, but have ridden a bit of dressage and polo as well. I find learning and practicing classic equitation to be continuously challenging but truly fulfilling. Proper flatwork has allowed me to progress in my jumping abilities on different horses. I feel so fortunate to truly enjoy flatting since it has grown the foundation of being able to ride just about any horse I'm fortunate enough to sit on.
Susan as a SmartPaker: I can honestly say that work doesn't usually feel like work. I head up the Barn Team so I get to talk to Barn Professionals all over the country, and their clients, about customized supplement programs to make their horses look and feel better. I travel to trade shows where I get to meet our Barn Pros as well as our customers, new and existing customers, with the face-to-face interactions rounding out what I love about my "job."
All about Excel: I have had my horse Excel for 14 years. He is a 16-3 hand bay Oldenburg gelding and is the light of my life. I grew up riding, but never had a "show" horse until I bought him. I had little idea what I was in for, but I have so enjoyed the ride. We started in the Schooling Hunters when he was 6, moved up to the Adult Amateurs and Adult Equitation. Excel then ribboned in the First Year Division at the Marshall and Sterling Finals at age 10 and from then we moved to the Lo Adult Jumpers competing from New England to New York and Ocala. We ended our career in the Hi Adult Jumpers and I couldn't have been more pleased. We stopped showing last year as he told me he was happy to continue jumping but at home. I enjoy riding in the Indoor ring, but not nearly as much as when we are able to ride in our outdoor ring or our big field, jumping, flatting and sometimes just during really long walks. He had taught me so much about setting and achieving my riding goals, hard work, and mostly about patience. I just love it when he hears my voice and nickers, even before I walk over to his stall. Brings a smile to my face every single time.
SmartPaker: Dr. Lydia Gray, Staff Veterinarian
Horse: Newman, Trakehner gelding
Lydia as a rider/driver: I got my first horse in 7th grade, discovered dressage in high school, and haven't looked back since. I've slowly been accruing USDF performance awards (graduating from their "L" program with distinction last year and aiming to complete my Bronze Medal and Freestyle Bar requirements this year) Now I'm adding driving awards to our collection. Could jumping trophies be in our future? Stay tuned!
Lydia as a SmartPaker: I'm in my seventh year as the staff veterinarian and medical director at SmartPak and continue to learn new medical info and new technology. From presentations at horse expos to webinars and videos, and from health care articles to Ask the Vet blogs and our new Ask and Answer feature, we're on the cutting edge of getting the most up-to-date facts and figures into the hands of horse owners.
All about Newman: While it hasn't always been easy with "Newmie-poo," as he's affectionately called (pulled suspensory, colic surgery, PSSM), I am enjoying horse ownership more than ever before with this spectacular trakehner who does it all: rides, drives, jumps, trail rides, goes side saddle; we've even tried bareback!
SmartPaker: Ashley from Customer Care
Horse: Rocki, 1997 APHA gelding
Ashley as a rider: I have considered myself a horse crazy individual since the age of four when I took my first riding lesson. I began my riding career in an English saddle, but quickly found a passion for the western all-around show ring and switched. I have completed heavily in AQHA and APHA as a youth and moved to showing APHA as an amateur rider. Even though my show gelding has been retired from the show ring this year, I am still actively working with young horses as much as I can in my spare time to keep my skills fresh.
Ashley as a SmartPaker: Over the past seven years as a SmartPaker, I have had the privilege of directly helping our customers both over the phone and at trade shows. As the current Outbound Customer Care Manager, I support our team of Supplement Experts as they provide the best service in the industry. It is exciting to know that every day our contacts with customers are working to truly make a difference in their horses' health and their riding experiences!
All about Face A Rocki (Rocki): Rocki is a 1997 APHA gelding with a natural talent in the show pen in all-around events. He has excelled in everything from western pleasure to trail to halter and even a few hunter under saddle classes. He has the biggest personality of any horse I know and never fails to keep me on my toes. These days he has taken a step back from the spotlight in the show pen and is enjoying his life as a trail horse and occasional pony ride for my nieces and nephews.
SmartPaker: Kerri from Marketing
Horse: Luna, 1998 Connemara/Thoroughbred mare
Kerri as a rider: I've been riding since the age of 10, starting out in 4-H and Pony Club. I competed in eventing at the local level before focusing solely on dressage. I competed on the IDA team in college and have continued to compete in USDF dressage shows at the local and regional level.
Kerri as a SmartPaker: As the Marketing Manager for SmartSupplements, it's my job to help horse owners learn about all of the wonderful supplements we offer. It warms my heart to think of the many horses who have benefited from SmartSupplements over the years- and I love seeing their photos and stories!
All about Luna: Luna is a 1998 Connemara/Thoroughbred black mare. Although she is only 15.2, she has enough personality for a much larger horse. Her nickname around the barn is "Diva", but her name show name "Mezzaluna" is Italian for crescent, in reference to her moon-shaped star. We're aiming to show Second Level dressage this year, and I couldn't be more excited!
SmartPaker: Renee from Merchandising
Horse: Witness, 1999 Holsteiner gelding & Cooper, 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding
Renee as a rider: Since I can remember I've always loved animals. My love for horses just seemed a natural progression. As a kid I took lessons on an Appaloosa named "Cookies N Cream." He taught me how to post. But my first memory is riding bareback on a family friend's Belgium draft horse. I was active in 4-H growing up. These days I'm a full on horse addict. I compete in the Adult Hunters, USHJA National Hunter Derbies and Adult Equitation.
Renee as a SmartPaker: I pinch myself every day that I get to call what I do work! As a Director of Merchandise I oversee product selection and development in categories like hunter/jumper show apparel, field boots and casual apparel. I'm also involved with developing SmartPak private label tack and apparel.
All about my boys: I've been fortunate to be teamed up with Witness for almost 3 years. Cooper came into my life last fall. They are the best boys that I could ask for. Witness has a huge personality and is true professional, he knows he's good at his job and he NEVER lets me down. His favorite treat is bananas. Cooper is a sweet lad. I call him a lad because he's not a boy but not yet a man. He's incredibly sweet and always thinking. He has the most amazing canter!
SmartPaker:Mollie from Creative
Horse: Eden, 2005 Oldenburg mare
Mollie as a rider: I started riding when I was 9 years old and quickly got swept up into the competitive hunter/jumper world. I showed my first pony, Chloe, in the Small Pony Hunter divisions were we competed at shows like Fairfield Hunt Club, Old Salem, HITS, and Westbrook. Once I outgrew my pony, I moved onto showing in larger divisions and in the jumper ring. These days I compete in the Adult Hunter/Equitation divisions, and I hope to move up with my new horse Eden, by next year and show in the AO hunters!
Mollie as a SmartPaker: As part of SmartPak's Creative team, it's my job to make sure catalogs, brochures, signs, package inserts, and other printer materials look awesome by the time they make it into our customers' hands! My team members and I have a ton of fun during the process, and that helps us always meet our goal of supporting Happy Riders and Healthy Horses
All about Eden: Eden's a 2005 bay Premium Oldenburg mare. She has a star, a snip, and 3 white socks. She is new to the East Coast, as she just moved up here from Houston, TX! She is adjusting quite well and getting used to the white-powdery stuff on the ground, however, she hates blankets and would rather be a wooly pony all winter. I can't wait to see what our future has in store and to compete with her in the hunter divisions on the east coast this spring and summer show season! :-)
SmartPaker: Karen from IT
Horse: Macy, 2007 Quarter Horse mare
Karen as a rider: My mom always had horses and it wasn't long before I caught the horse bug and never looked back! I started out in 4-H and soon found myself competing on the AQHA circuit in addition to showing IHSA in college. These days, Macy and I do AQHA shows whenever we get the chance.
Karen as a SmartPaker: As a Quality Assurance Engineer, it's my job to double (sometimes triple) check to make sure that shopping and navigating our website is easy and pain free. I also work behind the scenes to help ensure that everything functions correctly so we can get your SmartPaks and goodies out the door!
All about Macy: Macy is a 2007 bay Quarter Horse mare who always knows how to keep me on my toes. She started off showing in the Western Pleasure and has gone on to add Horsemanship, Trail, Halter and Showmanship to her All-Around resume.
SmartPaker: Melissa from Merchandising
Horse: Ellie, Holsteiner mare & Drago, 2007 Irish Sport Horse gelding
Melissa as a rider: I grew up in Virginia and started riding when I was about 7. I never looked back...riding and horses have been a part of who I am since that first ride all of those years ago. I've fox hunted a little but have spent most of my time competing in Hunters and Equitation. I rode on the IHSA Team in college and even competed in some IHSA Alumni classes after graduation. These days you'll find me in the Adult Hunters, Hunter Derbies and Adult Equitation.
Melissa as a SmartPaker: As VP of Merchandising, it is my job to oversee all of our product selection and development. Me and my team travel the world to find and develop things we think are worthy of being in your barns, on your bodies and on your horses. How cool is that?!
All about Drago: Drago is the newest addition to the Hamlet family. He is also the first horse that I've imported from Europe. He is kind of like a 17.1 hand labrador retriever :-) He is a very green 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse who I hope to be showing in the hunters and equitation by the end of the summer. He also happens to be devastatingly handsome with the absolute longest legs I've ever seen!
All about Ellie: Ellie is my soulmate in a horse's body. She makes me smile like no other horse has ever done. After an injury ended her career as my show horse, she embarked on a career in dressage. She has now found her niche at Johnson & Wales University where she is proudly wearing black tack and dancing her way into the hearts of their students :-)
SmartPaker: Jessica from IT
Horse: Kandida, Holsteiner mare
Jessica as a rider: I started riding 28 years ago, more of a "hang-on" kind of method. (Yee- ha!) Recently I've been trying to refine my equation in the hunter/jumper world. In the past, I've tried (and horse shown in) both saddle seat and western. For the last four and a half years, I've owned a small horse farm. It has grown from 10 to 31 stalls, we've doubled the size of the outdoor arena, and last fall we added an indoor. I love showing and l have even started judging at small schooling shows.
Jessica as a SmartPaker: I've been at SmartPak for four years in the IT department. I was the first person in this department to "speak horse" as well as "tech." I do Software Quality Assurance, which means I test our website and internal applications to make sure they work as a user hopes they will. Essentially I try to break our software. My major objective is to make sure that all customers can place their orders without any issues!
All about Kandida: Dia is an 18 year old Holsteiner mare, though everyone guesses she is under 10. (Thanks to SmartPaks!) I've owned her for three years and I utterly adore her. She's been my medal horse and has seen me through all the regional finals (including the New England Equitation Championships). She has such a quirky personality and has got to be one of the smartest, wisest horses I've ever known.
SmartPaker: Sarah from Marketing
Horse: Cody, 1989 Quarter Horse gelding
Sarah as a rider: For as long as I can remember, I've thought of myself as a rider. I started out in 4-H and AQHA, competing at the regional, state and national level, then transitioned to the hunter/jumper world of USEF, USHJA and IHSA shows. These days, I consider myself a "wannabe eventer," though I'm hoping to become legit with my first HT this summer!
Sarah as a SmartPaker: As SmartPak's Brand Manager, it's my job to make sure that we're living up to our promise to support healthy horses and happy riders in everything we do. Luckily for me, part of my job includes making sure we - and more importantly, the riders we serve - have fun along the way!
All about Cody: Cody's a 1989 chestnut Quarter Horse gelding. We've been together since 1995 and I can't imagine my life without him. He's been the best partner, teacher, and friend I could ever ask for. And he's stunningly handsome if I do say so myself :-)
SmartPaker: Kristina from Customer Care
Horse: Cocoa, Quarter Horse mare
Kristina as a rider: My love of horses started when I was three years old but I didn't start riding until I was six. I took lessons once a week on a lunge line and gradually worked up from there. I remained actively taking lessons and participating in local schooling shows. Once I got my horse, Cocoa I began to trail ride and just learn as much as I could about riding. We didn't show very often but when we did we had a blast. Mostly, we rode for fun, and we still do today.
Kristina as a SmartPaker: As part of SmartPak's legendary Customer Care Team, I love hearing all of our customers' stories about their horses and what they do with them. I do call myself a supplement nerd because I love putting together supplement programs that are tailored to fit each horse's individual needs.
All about Cocoa: Cocoa is a the love of my life. She is a 21-year-old Quarter Horse mare (don't tell her that because she believes she's more like 15). I first met Cocoa eight years ago when we worked together as a team doing therapeutic lessons. When she retired from the program, I was able to buy her and start my adventure as a first-time horse owner. In the years I've known Cocoa, we've been through a lot together. We primarily ride for pleasure but will jump at the chance to go to a local fun show. Cocoa knows how to give hugs, come when I call her and, her most famous trick, she sticks her tongue out every time I try to take a picture of her!
SmartPaker: Michelle from Customer Care
Horse: Maddie, Quarter Horse/Arabian mare
Michelle as a rider: I started riding when I was eight years old, taking lessons at a local barn. I helped out after school and on weekends and eventually got to ride horses and ponies outside of my lessons too. I showed a bit in hunter and jumper classes, but I've always loved the relationship-building aspect of working with horses. Recently I've taken up some dressage, and am focusing on groundwork as the foundation of my relationship with my new horse. I'm also a certified yoga teacher and love incorporating yogic practices into my riding as well.
Michelle as a SmartPaker: I'm a part of SmartPak's Customer Care team and I answer emails that come in on a daily basis from our customers. I really enjoy getting to know our customers through the stories they share about their horses, barns, and lives in general. I also love getting to see photos of the horses I've talked about with people.
All about Maddie: Maddie is an 11-year-old QH/Arab cross mare. She's a flea-bitten grey with a double whorl on her forehead, which I've heard means that a horse is free-thinking and stubborn (but don't say that in front of "Miss Madeline"). Maddie was a rescue mare and has definitely come a long way in the year we've been together. We think a lot alike which causes us to butt heads sometimes, but which also helps me understand things she might need help with, and which helps me learn more about myself too.
SmartPaker: Kaitlin from Customer Care
Horse: Samurai, Thoroughbred gelding
Kaitlin as a rider: I started riding in middle school. I had always been an animal lover, but I think my parents where surprised at the sudden interest in horses. I continued to surprise them when I stuck with it and eventually went to school so I can build my life around horses. I took lessons on and off, and volunteered or worked at a few local barns for years, and when I was sixteen I bought myself my very own horse, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred. He's taken me to my first show, followed me to college, and all the way to SmartPak! Today we love to trail ride, do a little dressage, and a few cross rails to change things up.
Kaitlin as a SmartPaker: I'm a member of our Customer Care team, which means I spend my days answering the phones and waiting to talk to all of our amazing customers! I love supplements and could talk about them all day, and I love building the perfect SmartPak for every horse. Each horse is an individual with unique needs, so every SmartPak is always different!
All about Samurai: Samurai, or Sam, is a 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, dark bay with a faint star and just a smidge of white above each hind hoof. Sam's hobbies include halter tag, playing with his friend Chandler, and grazing. He is one of the most curious horses I have ever met and has taught me so much. We're both looking forward to many more happy years together.
SmartPaker: Emily from Accounting
Horse: Ax, Thoroughbred mare
Emily as a rider: I started riding when I was 10 years old and since then I have competed in a wide variety of disciplines, including hunters, jumpers, team penning, hunter paces, and competitive trail riding. I also did IHSA in college, and drove a horse-drawn carriage for several years in Boston. These days I mostly trail ride, and occasionally head to a hunter pace or schooling show.
Emily as a SmartPaker: As part of SmartPak's Accounting team, I make sure our bills get paid, and I keep our dog food licensing up-to-date in all 50 states! My team members and I have a ton of fun during the process, ensuring we continue to support our goal of Happy Riders and Healthy Horses.
All about Ax: Ax and I have been together for 12 years. She is a thoroughbred from South Carolina who raced all over the east coast until she was nine years old. She's 16 hands tall and all black except for a tiny white star below her forelock. We have a lot of fun together, and she's the best trail partner I could ask for!
SmartPaker: Rachel from Customer Care
Horse: Chief, Thoroughbred/Morgan gelding
Rachel as a rider: I started riding when I was 6 years old and quickly got swept off my feet. I fell in love with horses and there was no looking back. I grew up in the hunter/jumper world, but then I went to college, and college opened me to a whole new world - dressage!! I am now out of school and trying to enter the world of eventing, but honestly I'm not sure I'm brave enough!
Rachel as a SmartPaker: Being a part of SmartPak allows me to wear many hats. I work in our Retail Store in Natick, MA as our Visual Merchandiser. This job allows me to dress mannequins, and play with customers and product all day! When I'm not working at the store, I work at our Plymouth office as a Customer Care Representative, and I get to talk about product, supplements and horses all day.
All about Chief: Chief is a bay TB/Morgan at the young age of five years old. He is super-cute and does almost anything you ask him to!
SmartPaker: Molly from Merchandising
Horse: Danny, Quarter Horse gelding
Molly as a rider: After begging my parents non-stop, they finally gave in let me take lessons when I was six years old. As the only horse person in my family, we're still not quite sure where "the bug" came from. My current horse, Danny, is the very first lesson horse I rode! I went on to become a 4-H kid, showing in all the local shows, doing hunter/jumper and dressage. In college I caught another, perhaps even more serious "bug" - polo. I played 4 years straight (indoor and out); and Cornell won the National title all 4 years I was there. Currently I trail ride Danny and plan to get back into polo in the future, as I miss it dearly.
Molly as a SmartPaker: I've been with SmartPak almost nine years now! As a longtime member of the Merchandising department, I've had the opportunity to learn many different aspects of the department, with my latest venture being on the Inventory Control Team, which I love. I get to buy fun horse "stuff," every week- for our customers!
All about Danny: Born "Cassity Dan" in Oklahoma, Danny is a classic seal brown Quarter Horse who is turning 30 this year. We began our adventure together when I was 6 and he was 5. Needless to say we've had too many adventures to count! He's bombproof when he wants to be, but has a lovable grumpy demeanor that has resulted in some pretty impressive bucks and pasture jumping excursions. He's truly an awesome example of the breed, as he can do anything asked, including First Level dressage, jumping, trail class (state champ!), and allowing me to hit polo balls when I was desperate to practice. Although he's the classic western build, my heart was always in English disciplines. Our favorites times together have always been, and continue to be, out on the trail exploring. And it probably goes without saying that he's been on SmartFlex Senior ever since I started nine years ago with SmartPak.
SmartPaker: Kristina from Creative
Horse: Harri, 2000 Connemara/Thoroughbred gelding
Kristina as a rider: I started out riding hunt seat when my parents bought me a 10h Shetland Pony when I was only four years old. He wasn't the easiest ride, so I learned to keep my butt in the tack! Over the years I seemed to always be drawn to the greener project ponies and horses. It's always so rewarding watching a horse progress because of your hard work. While I've always rode and shown in the hunter and equitation divisions, I've had a ton of fun dabbling in some dressage, western team penning, and lots of fun riding on hunter paces. Even though I enjoy broadening my horizons, I keep my roots in my jumping saddle. My riding today is all about enjoying my horse whether I'm in a hunter ring one weekend or on the trails the next!
Kristina as a SmartPaker: At SmartPak, I am able to take my passion for horses and combine it with my love for photography! From being on set for our photo shoots to editing images for our catalogs and website, my position in Photo Production has really allowed me to watch out products come alive! The best part is seeing the catalogs hot off the press and ready to reach the hands of riders everywhere!
All about Harri: In 2003, I got my current horse Harri (most often referred to as Haroldddd!). He was only 2.5 when I decided I had to have him. Being a green broke Connemara/Tb, I had big plans for the two of us. Over the years I've seen Harri grow and mature into such an amazing horse. While I mainly ride him as a hunter, we enjoy hitting the trails, doing the occasional schooling jumper show as well as heading out on lengthy hunter paces. We also like to lesson regularly with our dressage trainer to keep out flatwork in tiptop shape! The bond we've established over the years is really like no other!
SmartPaker: Ellen from Accounting
Horse: Lego, 1987 Connemara/Arabian gelding & Nemo, 2003 Morgan gelding
Ellen as a rider: I can't remember a time when I didn't love horses. I started riding when I was eight, and showed in the hunter/jumpers for years. In college, I rode on the IHSA team and also found my new passion - dressage. My parents got my first horse, and best friend, Lego for me when I was 12. We've had so many fun experiences together, from participating in horse shows, years of 4-H, many summers at horse camp, camping trips, and he loves to go swimming. He also made the move to Plymouth with me, and we've been on many, many happy trail rides on the cranberry bogs out here together. I purchased my second horse, Nemo, two years ago. We currently enjoy dressage, trail riding on the cranberry bogs, and he's learning to jump. I'm having a lot of fun getting to know him.
Ellen as a SmartPaker: I work in Accounting, ensuring that all of SmartPak's orders are processed each day.
All about Lego and Nemo: Lego is the most fun, spunky horse I've ever ridden. He loves to jump, trail ride, and even as a senior, he keeps me on my toes. He's always up for a fun adventure, and we have the same fun-seeking, daredevil personalities. Nemo is a Morgan gelding who I recently found in New Hampshire. He has such a friendly, playful personality, and acts more like a happy black lab than a horse at times. I mostly do dressage with him, but I love his willing attitude to try anything. I have so much fun with both of them.
SmartPaker: Courtney from Marketing
Horse: Socks, 1993 Quarter Horse mare
Courtney as a rider: Before I could even walk my favorite uncle promised to buy me a horse as soon as I turned 12. That was a promise I NEVER forgot. The day I turned 10 I started to ask when I would get my first horse and started riding lessons to get a head start. From there, I took off at a gallop, spending every extra second at the barn whether it was to help with chores or watch the vet and farrier. Four months later, Socks showed up at the barn and it was a match made in heaven (the best birthday gift ever!). Nobody has been able to get me out of the saddle since! Socks and I started showing at local hunter/jumper shows on the weekends. In college, I rode on the IHSA team and groomed/rode at a jumper barn during the summer. I was lucky enough to travel to events at Spruce Meadows, the Kentucky Horse Park, and WEF with some really cool horses.
Courtney as a SmartPaker: I work as the Marketing Assistant at SmartPak which I would argue is one of the most fun jobs around. On a daily basis I get to work with our Team SmartPak riders in addition to other sponsored events. It's fun to be part of the behind the scenes action to making an event great and that's what I get to do.
All about Socks: Socks is my main squeeze. She is a senior Quarter Horse who has absolutely mastered her job. Right now she is hard at work teaching young kids how to ride and jump just like she did for me!
SmartPaker: Katrina from Customer Care
Horse: DJ, 1995 AQHA/PHBA gelding
Katrina as a rider: I have been riding since I was five years old, and owned a couple of different horses before I got my AQHA/PHBA gelding "DJ" in 2001. When I got DJ I started showing on the AQHA circuit as well as some PHBA shows though they are hard to find in the Northeast. I competed in the AQHA All-Around with DJ but my favorite classes were Hunt Seat Equitation, Hunter Under Saddle and Hunter Hack. DJ recently found a new home so I haven't ridden much since but hope to get back in the saddle soon!
Katrina as a SmartPaker: If it relates to Customer Care, I've probably done it! I started as a Supplement Expert on our legendary Customer Care Team and spent several years helping riders find the perfect supplement plan (or bridle, or blanket) for their horses. It was awesome! These days, I manage several of our current Supplement Experts, and I'm also a project manager for several of the awesome initiatives we have creating awareness around our awesome services and policies. In other words, I help ensure that riders like you know all of the ways we can help you take great care of your horse!
All about DJ: All The Towns Gold, "DJ" is a 1995 AQHA/PHBA gelding. In 2003, we were the PHBA World Champion in Youth Hunter Hack, and Res. World Champion in Senior Hunter Hack. We were also Top Ten in Youth Western Riding and a finalist in Youth Hunt Seat Equitation. DJ was also MQHA High Point Performance Horse in 2003. DJ has the best personality, he will do anything that is asked of him and is a jack-of-all-trades. I retired him in 2010 but he didn't totally love being retired so he found a new home and he is now back to enjoying his job under saddle!
SmartPaker: Jessica (aka "Jno") from Marketing
Horse: Sawyer, 2007 Morgan gelding
JNo as a rider: Although I don't come from a horsey family, my grandfather loved horses his whole life and bought me my first pony when I was very young. This started my life-long obsession... I started taking formal lessons when I was about 10, and eventually got to lease then own a horse of my own. My early show experience included open and 4-H competitions, then I eventually started showing on the hunter/jumper circuit through high school. For college I attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where I studied animal science, and had a blast participating in the IHSA riding team all 4 years. At UMass my eyes were opened to dressage and eventing, and I also discovered natural horsemanship. While spectating at the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event in 2001, I attended a special demonstration put on by Pat and Linda Parelli, together with David and Karen O'Connor. That hour changed my life with horses forever. I began studying natural horsemanship through the Parelli program that spring, and I've never looked back. Besides the personal goals I have for my horse and I, my mission is to help others in the horse world realize that taking a "natural" approach (understanding horse psychology and putting the relationship with your horse first) will enhance your life with horses, regardless of your discipline.
Jno as a SmartPaker: I am passionate about all aspects of equine health and nutrition, so I feel blessed to come to work and do what I love every day. I'm proud to be part of the team that manages the SmartSupplements product line, and I help oversee the "health" side of our marketing. That means my job includes everything from developing new supplements, to training our stellar Customer Care team, and assisting with the awesome content you find in our Guides to Supplements and Horse Care.
All about Sawyer: Between college and starting at SmartPak I struggled to figure out what type or horse was right for me. For years I was convinced I needed a "big, fancy" horse, then I finally had what I call my horse epiphany...I realized that the gorgeous, athletic Thoroughbred mare I'd been working with was just too much horse for me, and that being nervous to ride wasn't all that fun. When I finally let go of the kind of horse I thought I should have, that shift lead me to my perfect partner. Sawyer is without a doubt The One for me. He is a 100% Lippitt Morgan, which means he's the true "old type" - hardy, sweet, sensible, athletic, and versatile enough to do anything. If you had told me a few years ago that my dream horse would be a 14.3 hh, Morgan with a long mane, I never would have believed you, but that's exactly how it turned out and I couldn't be happier!
SmartPaker: Jess R. from Customer Care
Horse: Cody, American Saddlebred gelding; Khann Do, Polish Arabian gelding; Sienna, Quarter Horse mare
Jess as a rider: I have been riding for the past 21 years. I have done a little bit of everything from dressage to saddleseat, to barrel racing to trail riding. My foundation and passion are in dressage. I believe horses are in my blood. I rode all through high school and into college. At the end of my senior year I had the opportunity to ride in Germany, which was an amazing experience.
Jess as a SmartPaker: At SmartPak I am part of the Customer Care team. I enjoy chatting with customers to help them find the best nutritional program and the best products for their horses, as well as the best tack, equipment and apparel for themselves.
All about Cody, Khann Do & Sienna: I am lucky enough to have all my horses in my backyard! When I bought Cody as a three year old, he was broke for Saddleseat, which I had never ridden. I learned to ride Saddleseat just so I could buy him! After a few months, I decided to go back to my roots and start training him for dressage. Now we enjoy riding dressage, doing some jumping and going on trail rides whenever we can! Cody is the coolest horse I have ever owned and I am lucky to have him!
SmartPaker: Becky from Customer Care
Horse: Digby, Thoroughbred gelding
Becky as a rider: I started riding when I was 11. It only took so long because I needed to convince my non-horsey parents that it was a good ideaâ€¦ and assure them that I'd grow out of it eventually! I was that child who set up jumps out of trash cans, tree branches and pool noodles in the neighbor's backyard so I could "jump." Since then, I've gone on to showing locally in the hunters and jumpers, and dabbling in dressage.
Becky as a SmartPaker: I'm on the Customer Care team which means I get to talk about horses all day long with our awesome customers. I love getting to know everyone, as well as providing smart solutions to our beloved horses, our canine friends and our riders!
All about Digby: Dig My Size, aka Digby, is a stereotypical Thoroughbred gelding who has enough personality for the whole barn. He's a "hony," which means he's not quite pony-sized but not really a full-sized horse either. Just don't tell him that because he thinks he's the biggest horse in the barn! We used to do hunters/jumpers but due to some lameness issues, we're taking it easy these days and just sticking to flatwork. His favorite treat is brown sugar cinnamon PopTarts. He says shakes his head yes or no on command. He loves to escape from stalls, pastures, trailers - you name it! Basically, he's the funniest horse I've ever met.
SmartPaker: Martha from Customer Care
Horse: Hale, Shire gelding
Martha as a rider: I have been riding since I was five and have stuck primarily to eventing and dressage. I also love anything that involves getting out of the ring whether it's a canter in the woods or a gallop on the beach!
Martha as a SmartPaker: My job on the Customer Care team is the best because I spend my time getting to know SmartPak's horses and riders. I spend my days calling to check in to make sure we are keeping horses across the country happy and healthy!
All about Hale: Hale is a shire! That's right, a draft horse who does dressage! We have been together for eight years and he has been one of the coolest horses I have ever ridden. 18 hands and 1800 lbs worth of forward movement has not only helped me to become a better rider but also made me pretty brave!
SmartPaker: Veronica from Customer Care
Horse: Leroy, Thoroughbred gelding; Ruby, Oldenburg mare; & Buster, Quarter Horse gelding
Veronica as a rider: I started riding as a present for my seventh birthday. My parents got the hint that I loved horses when I screamed "AHHH, look at the ponies!!!" every time we passed the farm by my house. Two years later, my parents bought me my first horse, Buster. A few years after that, my parents purchased the horse farm where I was taking lessons. Some may say I had the greatest birthday present ever! I continued to ride all through college on the IHSA team at the University of Maryland. Now, I actively compete in the hunter and equitation ring, and I still scream "AHHH, look at the ponies!!" every time I pass a horse farm.
Veronica as a SmartPaker: Iâ€™ve been a part of SmartPak's Customer Care team for four years. I get to talk about horses all day long, and I really don't know what could be better. I love talking to riders that are as passionate about riding and their horses as I am!
All about Leroy, Ruby & Buster: Leroy (or "Be-Dazzled") is the love of my life. We have been together for 13 years and he still surprises me every day. He is a senior OTTB who has the playful attitude of five year old. We recently qualified for Zone 2 finals this past year in the Adult Amateurs. I could literally talk about Leroy all day long. He is the absolute best horse a girl could have! Ruby is the newest addition to the family. This winter we competed at HITS in Ocala, which was an incredible experience! And I still own my first horse Buster, a handsome, senior palomino Quarter Horse. He fills his days by eating grass, cookies, and basically anything else that he can find.
SmartPaker: Jess F from Customer Care
Horse: Gracie, 2003 registered Paint mare
Jessica as a rider: I am pretty sure I knew how to ride a horse before I knew how to walk. I got my first pony when I was four and have been around them ever since. Mostly I rode on trails and participated in 4-H as a kid. I didn't truly fall in love with horses until I left my family farm for college and missed having a horse so much I went horse crazy. I have been learning to event ever since and going to lots of schooling shows with Gracie.
Jessica as a SmartPaker: I work on the Customer Care team here at SmartPak, which means talking to our fabulous customers about their horses every day! I answer the phones and help riders decide on supplements and tack for their horses or apparel for themselves. It's almost like being a personal shopper!
All about Gracie: Gracie is a registered Paint mare that came into my life in 2008 as a surprise from my mom (after some heavy hints). She was a spunky and opinionated, green four-year-old when I got her, and that has remained true through the years. Together we play at eventing - she loves the jumping part and I love the dressage.
SmartPaker: Jenny from Customer Care
Horse: Chief, Thoroughbred/Morgan geldingre
Jenny as a rider: The first time I rode a pony, my mom had to peel me off kicking and screaming. I begged and begged my parents and I finally got riding lessons when I was five. They thought I would outgrow my horse obsession. Boy, were they wrong. I'm still completely obsessed with horses and own a young gelding who I am head over heels for. These days I mainly just ride my horse for fun. We dabble in dressage and do a little jumping here and there.
Jenny as a SmartPaker: I'm so lucky to have a career that I love that also helps me support my passion for horses! I am a manager on the Customer Care team where I get to coach a group of talented and lovely young ladies who are equally as horse obsessed as I am. Providing awesome customer service is something I am also very passionate about. My favorite thing is when a rider calls or emails and says that we helped them solve a problem for their horse, or provided them with a solution that allowed them to spend more time with their horse!
All about Chief: Chief is a rescue and we think he is a TB/Morgan cross but he acts more like a black lab. I adopted him when he was three and backed and trained him. He really enjoys long leisurely hacks and would prefer to skip the ring work if at all possible. He is sweet and snuggly and I love him to pieces.
SmartPaker: Katie from Finance
Horse: Juliet, Thoroughbred/Connemara mare
Katie as a rider: I began riding when I was in 5th grade and have been hooked since. Growing up as a kid I was always at the barn doing stalls, cleaning tack, and taking care of any horse that needed a little extra TLC. I was an avid Pony Clubber competing in the hunters, jumpers, equitation, as well as dressage and eventing.
Katie as a SmartPaker: I'm part of SmartPak's Finance team. I spend my time developing fun excel sheets as well as reports and data analysis specifically for our Customer Care and Merchandising teams.
All about Juliet: Juliet came into my life as she was just not working out as a school pony (she likes scoot at anything out of the ordinary). She has a lot of personality in a little package. Juliet is one of the sweetest mares who LOVES attention and thinks she's pretty cute. Every morning as the horses are turned out she is nickering away until all her friends are around her. We've been a team for a little over a year and with a little support from SmartCalm Ultra, she's been doing great! Over the last year we've been competing in small dressage and two-phase events, with the hopes of doing a small three-phase event soon.
SmartPaker: Elizabeth from Customer Care
Horse: Sam & Razz, Arabian geldings
Elizabeth as a rider: I once read the suggestion that you should ride 100 horses before you buy one, so that's what I did. I ride dressage now, but I started out at a hunter/jumper barn, rode at an eventing camp in the summers, and went western on vacations and with friends. In recent years, I've discovered the areas where classical dressage and natural horsemanship intersect, and have been following that path ever since. I also help run the small stable where my horses live.
Elizabeth as a SmartPaker: I am a Senior Team Leader for Customer Care. Most of my time is spent helping my reports with their customers, training new hires and scheduling the team's trainings, meetings and shifts (Outlook and I are best buds). I also still jump on emails and phones when I can, since customers make my day!
All about Sam & Razz: I always dreamed of owning an Arabian, and now I own two! Sam is super steady, loves trail riding and parades, and is very patient with my dressage aspirations in the ring. Razz is flashy, loves learning new things, and I think just enjoys being a horse after a long show career as a youngster. They're both "senior" at this point but you would never know it.
SmartPaker: Paige from Customer Care
Horse: Bentley, Wheaton Terrier/Poodle
Paige as a rider: I became a rider at the age of eight when I had my first English lesson on an Appaloosa named Heaven. Of course, I fell in love and remained taking lessons and finally got my first horse, a Morgan named Trevor, at the age of 13. At that point I transitioned to more a of western leisure/trail rider and since then have tried gymkhana, polo, and most recently western pleasure. I was also lucky enough to intern at a thoroughbred breeding farm and have a love for OTTB's.
Paige as a SmartPaker: As a member of SmartPak's Customer Care Team, I am lucky enough to speak to many riders and horse lovers every single day building relationships with them and finding ways that SmartPak can help make life easier in the barn. My favorite part of my job is learning about our riders and their horses and finding the best supplements for their needs!
All about Bentley: : I'm currently between horses, so let me tell you about my other four-legged friend, Bentley. Bentley is my adorable Wheaton Terrier/Poodle cross that I adopted from a shelter in Connecticut about back in 2011. He gets to come to work with me, so we spend a lot of time together! We enjoy hiking and going to the beach, although he hasn't gotten the courage to go into the ocean yet!