All posts by Equi-Venture Farm

Equi-Venture Farm is the home of the top riders Brandie & Hunter Holloway and offers quality horses for sale that are able to compete at the highest levels of show jumping competition. Many of Equi-Venture’s horses are shown by Brandie and Hunter and have successful resumes listing their impressive wins from the junior hunters and equitation to the grand prix ring. Some of their championships are from prestigious horse shows such as Devon, The Pennsylvania National Horse Show, the National Horse Show and the Washington International Horse Show. Prestigious classes their horses have shown in include the Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals, ASPCA Maclay Regionals and Finals, the HITS $1 Million Grand Prix and HITS $500,000 Hunter Prix along with numerous top dollar Grand Prixs. Brandie rode horses before she could walk and at age 14, won the American Quarter Horse World Championship on a $750 horse she found from an ad in the newspaper. Most of her early training came from the school of hard knocks, landing in the dirt and climbing on to try again, spending countless hours a day in the barn between school obligations. When Hunter was born in 1997, she too learned to ride before she could walk. At 12, Hunter won the Dallas Harvest $25,000 Grand Prix on Argentina, (who at 15 was older than her rider) making her the youngest rider to win a national Grand Prix. In 2014, Hunter earned a spot to compete on a U.S. team in Germany and held fundraisers to earn the money to go. Hunter, like her mother, loves to spend every waking hour with the horses, fitting in online school when she can.

Great start to Hits Ocala

It was quite a Grand Prix yesterday. Jumps were blowing down left and right. Amazing how well the horses, riders, and staff handled it so well. Definitely a class to remember. Here is a video of me and Lucky in the jump off:

Lucky Strike jump off 50k

Here are more pics from a good week

Lucky and his pony, Refund, getting much needed rest.


Eastern Jam and Hunter

Hunter sporting her CWD jacket

Having a great time at HITS Ocala!

It is so nice to be in the sun. Here is a picture of Hunter on her up and coming young jumper. Thanks to CWD and Equi-fit they are looking good!

Eastern Jam and Hunter Holloway

Here is a link to an article interviewing me and Hunter from The Plaid Horse. It is from one year ago today. Time flies.

Plaid Horse Hunter Holloway

You don’t have to be Rich but you Better Bring Your A Game

I have written about this before and would like to dedicate this article specifically to the four traits I see in top equitation riders. If you look at the past big eq winners time and time again they have these four things in common. There may be exceptions, however,  I cannot think of any off the top of my head. (If you notice, talent is great but not on the top of my list.)

Here they are:

  • Aside from equitation, they also ride jumpers and sometimes  hunters as well.
  • They are a trainer’s child, wealthy, or a working student for a top trainer
  • They have amazing work ethic
  • Mental Strength – They think gold

Let’s look back at our winners… They have many of the above points in common. Now some of you are still thinking, what about talent? The winners are all talented riders. More often than not, practice develops talent making us come back to work ethic.

First look at the fact that top equitation riders also ride upper level jumpers. I know from personal experience, Hunter won her first grand prix long before she even thought about becoming a top equitation rider. Equitation success became another goal for her to add to her riding career but it did not start as a focus when she was little. The experience in the jumper ring gave her the mileage long before she ever competed in an equitation class. Jumper classes gave her the ability to  navigate the bending lines, forward lines, collected lines, courses that are more demanding than your usual hunter or equitation course during the normal show circuit. 

Hunter competing in a Grand Prix in Ocala in 2011.

How can we make a change, as many parents cannot afford two horses for their children to show? Courses with more challenging questions from early on could help this. The derby aspect should trickle down into the hunter divisions. Equitation courses should have more thought and detail put into them (not just a junior hunter course with a roll back or two). WE need to prepare riders so riders can be ready for equitation finals. Trainers need to get off their butts at home and set courses to make their riders ready for finals.  Hunter and I are always moving jumps in our ring at home. The course winning, would never be an option for us. Maybe horse shows should put the actual course from the previous years Equitation finals into play. For example, one week at the end of winter circuit, they should have the Maclay finals course or Hunt seat Medals final course as the course in the regular class at any of the winter circuits. How well the rider does will be a good jumping off point on what they need to work on the rest of the year to prepare for finals. 

The next criteria is really that one of the next three must apply; the big eq winners have either been a working student for a top eq trainer, a child of a trainer, or wealthy. Why is this so?

If they are a working student it goes with the last point on the list, work ethic. They have the hardest job I can think of . They work, work, and work some more. A twenty hour day is nothing for them. They are in their trainer’s eye all the time. It is important for the working student to be successful as it is  reflection back on them. Not only does a good working student collect ribbons for their barn, their success attracts clients. Working students’ skilled  rides sell horses making their trainer money. Not only do they become good riders, but they become good barn managers.  A good junior working student is priceless to a trainer, and a good trainer is priceless to working student. The training and education they gain is a equal to beyond a phd in school. They walk away at 18 with a phd in horsemanship and hopefully some nice accomplishments in the show ring.

If the rider is a trainer’s child. They might not be rich, but they are steered in a path for success. I knew what mistakes I had made as a junior, so I had such a clear understanding what needed to be done for Hunter to be more successful. Trainer’s have the knowledge to pull the correct team together for their child. They have the experience and connections to acquire the proper horses for their child to be safe and become educated. These kids also get to ride all day long non-stop. Supply of horses is in abundance in a trainer’s barn and there are things to learn from the good horses and the not so easy horses. The hours they log, just like a working student is priceless.

The only way I have seen riders get around being a trainer’s child or a working student is money and lots of it. Money will buy the best horses, multiple horses, buy the best trainers, and give them the ability to get to horse shows across the country. This is not a negative, just a point I am making. And these kids have to work hard too. Extremely hard. It doesn’t matter how great your horses are if you don’t ride them well. That requires logging the hours and more hours, just like all the other riders.  Money gives them the ability to ride multiple horses without being a working student, it DOES NOT give them a get out of jail free card. They still must put the hours in.

The last one is mental strength. This is huge. You cannot have gold, without thinking gold. The winners think gold. Even when they say they aren’t, they really are. Take the National Championship football game the other day. 

TAMPA, Fla. — The game clock showed 2:01. Deshaun Watson gathered his teammates and told them simply, “We’re going to get this touchdown. We’re going to win this national championship.”

Nobody on that sideline doubted. Not with Watson under center. Everybody wearing orange and purple firmly believed they had the best player in the country on their side, Heisman or no Heisman. They reminded everybody: Heismans are voted on; championships are won. – Andrea Adelson

Watson thinks gold. And that is what the top Equitation riders do. After Hunter’s 2nd place finish at Maclay finals a couple years ago MacLain Ward told Hunter, “Second place worked out pretty well for me Hunter.”  What a perfect statement, but Hunter didn’t want to hear  it. Her mind was set for the win no matter what. When Hunter’s Equitation horse Sunny ran a temperature the show day of Maclay finals this year that was when “the rubber meets the road.” She took a vertualy unknown that had not shown in an indoor ring in 3 years and won. It is what you do when odds are stacked against you and the pressure is on that shows what you are made of. Will you run with the ball or will you drop it? 

As Mahamud Ali said, “Champions are not made in the gym, they are made deep inside.”


Easy Decorating Tips

Below are some no fail decorating tips that anyone can do. 

  • Mix gold and silver. I absolutely love mixing gold and silver and do it all the time.
  • Mix materials for texture. Texture in a room is so important, faux fur rugs or throws, woven baskets, fabrics, glass, wood, layer texture. It warms up a room.
Aside from my sleeping child, notice mixtures of textures in my daughter, Hunter’s bedroom. Faux fur, glass lamp, wood, cork, and mirror. This is what keeps the Tiffany Blue from feeling too formal. (Also, notice the continuous mixing of silver and gold items which I incorporate throughout the house.)
  • Put wallpaper in unexpected places such as ceilings, closets, bookcases, laundry rooms, bathrooms, and other small areas.


The wallpaper in my son Boston’s room is commented upon by everyone who sees it. It really makes this room and I will never get tired of it.

  • Use mirrors but make sure they reflect something of interest such as a wallpapered wall or a chandelier.
I love the way the pendant and wallpaper reflects off this bathroom mirror.
  • Lean art against a wall for a more relaxed look.
  • If you are in question about something, take it out.
  • An antique, something black, and something unexpected belong in every room.
  • When thinking unexpected, put modern fabric on antique furniture. Priceless.
This was my Grandmother’s chair that we recovered in a beautiful damask fabric. The pillow got the boot.
  • Allow your space to change, as you do. Don’t be afraid to move things around or change things out.
  • If you are really serious about getting your house right, learn what decorators you like and study their rooms. It will teach you without realizing it!
  • Begin  your living room furniture layout with the best seat in the room and everything else will start to fall into place.
The layout for the rest of our family room revolved around the sofa, the best seat in the house. The mirror behind was also edited, as it took away from the outside view.
  • Size of your furniture – Pay attention to the size of your room. Large furniture goes in large rooms, medium furniture in medium rooms and so forth. Exceptions can work, but this should be the general rule.
  • If you’re on a budget, invest in the pieces that anchor a room. “It wouldn’t be a bedroom without a bed, it wouldn’t be a living room without a sofa, and it wouldn’t be a dining room without a dining table,” Thom Felicia advises.
  • Group like items together, such as antiques by color, material, or some commonality. And use trays to corral smaller items. This keeps collections from looking cluttered.


  • Collect two expensive pieces a year. This way you don’t break the bank and in 10 years, you have 20 nice pieces. It also gives your room a collection of different eras and styles. A pulled together room is a reflection of where you have come from and where you want to go.
  • The bigger the area rug, the better.
  • Use pink bulbs inside your lights and fixtures. It will really add a warm glow to your space.
  • For a statement wall hanging, Staples does oversized prints called “engineer prints.”
  • Frame a beautiful fabric or wallpaper for art.
  • When framing art, choose a mat with 8-ply thickness. The increased depth will increase the quality ten- fold.
  • Use mirrors, even mirrored walls. Nothing lights up a room or increases size better.
We added mirrors to the top half of this wall of bi-fold closet doors running the length of one wall of our master bedroom. Across from a big window, it made the room look twice as big.
  • Keep large pieces simple, including furniture and curtains. Nothing can date a room more quickly.
  • In a smaller room be daring, Do mirrored wall or a bold wallpaper. Take chances!
This was a small room that I believe was intended as a sewing room when the house was built in the 1930s. This bold scalamandre wallpaper makes me want to hangout in here all the time and I don’t sew.
  • Paint your front door a bold color.
  • If you have white walls, you better have art.
  • Always use dimmer switches.
  • Remember the rule of 3s.
  • 20th-century designer John Dickinson, who maintained that a room is finished when you can no longer take something away without it being missed.
  • No fail formula for decorating any type of table – The formula requires one horizontal thing, like a tray or a stack of books. Then, add in something vertical, like vases, a lamp, or candlesticks. Lastly an interesting object. (Vary sizes)


  • Go for symmetry, it is most pleasing to the eye and avoids the look of clutter. Such as a mirror or painting in the middle. Matching lamps and vases on each side and a filler in the middle.
Matching lamps, photos, and 2 smaller objects of visual weight balance create symmetry on this dining room buffet.
  • Remember to create balance. A vignette can have symmetry by creating weighted balance even when the items themselves are different.
The large vase is balanced with the bust and two smaller objects on the other side of the chest.
  •  The rule of thirds – commonly used in photography and art to describe the best place for the subject.  Draw imaginary lines on a picture vertically at 1/3 and 2/3, and horizontally at 1/3 and 2/3.  Compositions with the subject placed on those lines, especially at the intersection of those lines, are the most interesting.  The same rule can be applied when looking at a vignette in your home.  Instead of placing an arrangement in the center of the shelf, try placing it 1/3 of the way in from the edge.  It is more pleasing to the eye
  • Incorporate items from outside. Sticks, plants, flowers, feathers etc.
  • Decorate in Threes and Fives are key. Decorate with objects of 3s and 5s.


  • When decorating a mantel or table try putting your tallest piece farthest to the left. We read left to right so our eye seems to enjoy the tallest piece to the left.

Remember do what you like. You don’t want your house to look like your neighbors. What fun would that be?


Love this, An eventer’s experience at an A rated horse show.

I love this article below. Not only does it crack me up, but some of it is so true. I think it wasn’t until I started dating Larry that I didn’t lose sleep the night before riding in a grand prix . Not because of how I would perform, but on how I was going to get  a jump in the schooling ring! And once I got it, how was I going to keep it.  I would even go look at the order of go as soon as it came out to see what trainers I would have to compete with for a jump. I was happy to be first because that meant getting a jump would be easier. Maybe not the jump I wanted but back then I was just happy to have a jump at all. Thank God Larry came around and was bigger than everyone else.

If you want to laugh read

An Eventer’s Adventures In Hunterland

Top 5 Equestrian Names

This website always has fun “equestrian world” articles including this one on THE TOP FIVE EQUESTRIAN NAMES. Maybe I like it so much because they mention Hunter:)

Expecting? Top 5 Names for Children of the Show Circuit

Let there be light! Know your rules just so you can break them.

Guidelines for Hanging Your Lights

This might be boring to most people, but I get asked this all the time and it can make such a difference. It will also save you so much time shopping and save you the aggravation of sending or taking your light back.

Entry way lighting

  • At least 4 feet from walls (for more precise measurement Length + Width + Height of Room in Feet = Fixture size in Inches (L + W + H = Fixture in Inches))
  • At least 7 foot from floor to bottom of fixture
  • Raise light  2 to 3″ for each foot of ceiling height over 8′
  • For a 2 story ceiling, hang no lower than the point of the 2nd floor
  • If there is a window on the 2nd story light should hang in the center of that window

Hanging Pendants over an Island

  • At least 30″ apart
  • 30 to 36″ above island counter top
  • at least 12 to 15 inches from edge of island

Dining Room Lighting

  • Should be no more than 2/3 of your dining room table
  • 30 to 36″ over dining room table to bottom of light for an 8′ ceiling (raise light 3″ for every additional foot of ceiling height)
  • At least 12″ narrower than width of the table
  • If you have a smaller chandelier that takes up 1/4 or less the width of the table or if you have an extremely long table, consider two identical chandeliers spaced evenly from each other and the ends of the table.
  • 3 different sources of lighting in a room is important so don’t forget the sconces and lamps!

Lighting in Center of Room 

  • Length + Width / 12 = Size of Light (so if room is 10 by 14 light should be 2 feet in diameter)
  • Use two ceiling lights or more, if room is very long or big
Notice use of multiple lighting sources in the living room.


Hallway Lighting

  • A fixture every 8 to 10 feet
  • Hang 7 feet off the floor
  • Sconces 5 feet off the floor

Stairwell Lighting

  • Clearance between the bottom of the light and the tallest occupant should be 18 to 24 inches

Bathroom Lighting

  • Fixture should be mounted directly over the mirror
  • Leave anywhere from 3 to 8 inches of room on either side of mirror
  • Flanked sconces or flanked pendants should be 5 feet above floor or eye level, after all it is your bathroom (or 66″ above the floor to the center of the light)
  • Sconces or pendant lighting should be at least 28 inches apart, use your eye on this one.
  • Sconces or pendants SHOULD NOT be your only source of lighting


  • Standard height is 7′ from the floor
  • If you are hanging the light over the bed make sure you have at least 6″ of clearance when kneeling on the bed.
  • When choosing a table lamp for a nightstand, the bottom of the shade should be just below eye level when you are sitting next to it.
  • For swing arm sconces –  get in your normal reading position, and measure from the floor to just above shoulder height – this measurement is a good mounting height for your sconces
  •  Sconces can also be mounted over the headboard so that the light shines down over your shoulder much like overhead lighting.

Outdoor Pendant Lighting and Flush Mount Lighting

  • Bottom of pendant 6″ above the door
  • 1/5 Height of door
  • Bottom of flush mount 6″ above the door
  • Flush mount .25 for single door and .33 for double door

Outdoor Wall Lighting

  • .20 to .25 the size of the door if using a light on each side
  • You can go up to .33 if using only one light on side of door
  • Center of fixture 66″ from the floor

Outdoor Post Lighting

  • Fixture size 1/4 of the pole size
  • Pole height 5.5 to 6.5′ exposed pole
  • Underground 1.5 to 2′ pole installation

Additional Outdoor Lighting

  • Lighting on small paths should be every 8 to 10 feet

Additional Lighting Tips

  • When choosing a lampshade for a lamp, the shade should be about 2/3 the height of your base and double the width of the base.
  • Use soft pink light bulbs in your living room and bedroom. It gives a beautiful, soft glow.

Remember, these are just guidelines. Go to these for help when you are not sure. 

My motto is know your rules so you can break them!!!!

If you just go hanging things willy nilly because you have no idea how it should look, you are screwed. But if you practice these general guidelines to get an idea on how to put it all together, when the perfect time comes to do something different or out of boundaries you will know and pull the trigger. The unexpected is always fun, but it isn’t unexpected if you don’t have a cohesive, eye pleasing flow through your house.


Here are is an example of mistakes I made early on, because I didn’t know my lighting rules. First picture light is too small for the room. Second picture light is too low and we are always hitting our head on it.


The Art of Hanging Art

As an equestrian with lots of equestrian friends I thought an emphasis on a gallery wall would be a good idea,  as all of us riders have lots of horse jumping photos usually scattered around the house. Below are some good tips and guidelines for a cohesive look to follow. A big mistake I see all the time are random family photos (or horse photos) on a wall way too big for the photo or photos in display. Another mistake I see are  a grouping of photos spaced too far apart.

I love personal photos and have many. To make them come together I made gallery walls in my house. I certainly did not want to splurge on new frames so I kept them to 3 colors (using lots of spray paint) black with different finishes, gold, and wood. See photos below;

I enjoy mixing art, mirrors, and other items with my family gallery wall as long as frames and sizing go together. Throwing in an oval or round frame also is a nice added touch. To begin my gallery wall, I started with my largest piece of art and worked outward from there. Most designers suggest to use exact spacing to make the look cohesive. Another good idea is laying your art on the floor first or drawing on a piece of paper. I myself was too gung-ho so I decided to just wing it. I started out measuring but after I mis-measured numerous times, I just guesstimated. It seemed to work out just find. Some pieces I needed exact and took more time with them.

Helpful tips to creat a gallery wall:

  • Space each photo approximately same amount apart
  • Make photos cohesive by narrowing frames down to a few colors
  • Add in art, mirrors, or anything else that is special to you.
  • Start with your largest or most important piece and work outward, as it will automatically become the focal point when done in this manner.
  • Use what you have!

More useful links for creating the perfect gallery wall:

Gallery Layout by Decor it Darling

Gallery Wall by Driven by Decor

How to Create a Gallery Wall by Daisy Mae Bell

How can we make the world of show jumping on budget and viewer friendly?

I recently had a conversation with another trainer about this issue. Why isn’t our sport more popular? When she asked me this question, I thought back to an article I read earlier this year that didn’t make much sense to me. It keyed on things like keeping your horses’ names one word. Really? If we really change our horses names to simple words that will be a game changer? Troy Polamalu did alright.

When I am at horse shows, I attempt to watch what is going on around me, and here is what I see; Bored parents that don’t understand why it is taking so long and why they are spending so much money.

You have to admit even if you love horses and are an avid fan, watching 2’6″ round after round can be extremely painful, not to mention teach you every bad habit there is if you watch too long. So how have things changed? When I was growing up you didn’t go to an A rated horse show if you couldn’t jump 3’6″ period. Mileage to get to this level was done through lessons and some local horse shows. (Please note this article is not a discussion about whether or not someone should show 3’6″ but a discussion on ideas on how to make it less expensive and more interesting for the ‘non-horseperson.)

An argument I hear with this is many parents can’t afford to buy a 3’6″ horse. I don’t buy it. If you can afford to go to an A rated horse show, and go in class after class that offers no prize money, you can afford a 3’6″ horse that has a chance of winning some prize money. My first 3’6″ horse was a cow horse and pole bending horse we bought at the sale barn for $600.00. We later traded that horse for my first Hermes saddle. My first two grand prix horses cost $750.00 (He Can Run aka Caddyshack) and $900.00 (Captain Kidd). Caddy shack and I also won the AQHA World Championships in showjumping and did hunter classes. The problem is riders don’t ride well enough and trainers don’t train well enough to show most horses at 3’6″. In our barn unless it is ancient or crippled it shows 3’6″. Hunter’s first pony was bought from a school horse program. She was a large, but we couldn’t be picky on size, with our budget. I paid for her to do one or two shows at short stirrup and told Hunter if she wanted to show at A shows she had to do the rated division, as I could not pay entries for a short stirrup horse. The next horse show she showed in the large ponies and earned a little prize money. Same thing for Hunter’s first horse, she did a couple classes in the childrens hunters and moved right up to the juniors because prize money was a must to make this sport doable for our family. We still operate that way. Our horses have to earn their keep. If we don’t do well, we cannot go to the next horse show. Bottom line, if a rider wants to show 3’6″, they can, if they put the effort and time into it. They learn so much more than running around trying to make the step at 2’6″ and cutting their corners. It is my opinion, to save the future of the sport, smaller classes do not belong at A shows. Just as you don’t pack a stadium for flag football, same goes for smaller jumping classes. We need to get the parents back if we want to get the next generation of riders. Below is a victory gallop picture of Hunter winning the ASPCA Maclay at Indoors. Look how few spectators for this prestigious class;

Victory Gallop ASPCA Maclay Finals Chicago Equestrian


We need to get our audience back. Unfortunately horse shows are expensive because we have no spectators. If we had people that wanted to watch the horse show, they would make exhibitors costs go down and parents would pony up for more horse shows and more horses, if they were having fun and not spending their life savings for their kid to show. Let’s face it, a normal six figure income will not allow most kids to show on any type of regular basis. Not only is that wrong, but you extremely decrease your market, making life hard on everyone.

How can we make horse shows more interesting? Here is my list;

  • Classes that are exciting , interesting to watch
  • Show at the time you say you are going to show
  • Shorter hours
  • Spectators
  • Pre-loading

Let’s take a note from Europe. They preload. That greatly cuts down time. In Europe, someone is always jumping, someone is in and hacking waiting for their turn, and the one that finished usually hasn’t left the ring yet. WE need to buck up and get used to it. It works. That would lessen the hours and make it more interesting.

Twenty years ago most horse shows were put on by a group of people that weren’t interested in making a profit. That isn’t the case now, so where do we go from here? If they adapted guidelines such as preloading, maybe everyone wouldn’t be too tired to put back on more interesting events in the afternoon and get spectators involved. If we are taking a note from baseball, we need to figure out how to draw a paying audience. Classes would have to start at the time they say and then you are done. Parents get to go relax, riders get to relax, grooms get some down time. Life is good. This year at indoors we were riding from 3 am in the ring until after midnight. The course walk was at 5 am the next day. I had one groom that didn’t sleep for almost 48 hours. That isn’t right. Let’s learn from popular sports in our country and show jumping in Europe.

If we want to make a change I know these things are a must. Every sport that is popular you must have spectators and you must have an accurate schedule. Now what do we do? Where do we start? If we want this sport to be successful and not lose some of our best riders to Europe or quitting because they can’t afford it, we need to make a change.WE NEED TO PUT THE EXCITEMENT BACK IN THE SPORT!