Californian show jumper Kristin Hardin has 100 horses, 11 dogs, one cat, four goats and a reputation for doing things her own way. Between her non-traditional tack, bold riding fashion, and ongoing Dubsmash battle with fellow trainer, Patrick Seaton-Sandoval, it’s clear she’s not afraid to step outside the lines—and she’s teaching her kids to do the same. As told to Carley Sparks and Nina Fedrizzi.
I think people should be who they want to be.
For me, color makes me happy. I paint the buttons on my show shirt with nail polish to match my collars and my shirts. When my breeches are no longer white, I dye them canary yellow and pumpkin orange.
If I feel good about myself and what I’m wearing, I think my horses feed upon that.
In the end, it’s all about getting the best result for my riding.
If the color of my breeches changed the way my horses jumped, I would probably wear whatever color they jumped the best in. So far, I haven’t found that the color of the fabric affects their jumping style. Until that day, I’m going to wear whatever I want.
It’s the same with my horses. I use whatever tack works on them, and if it happens to have color, then I’m really happy.
I found some bridles made by the Amish. My horse Firestone has a Saddlebred polka-dotted browband. Bert’s bridle has a bunch of beads and tassels on it and it’s really cool. I like all the horses to have their own stuff—and if it matches my outfit, that’s better.
Not everyone shares my opinion, of course. Some people react with comments on Facebook or give me funny looks. I don’t do it for that reason, but I think it’s really funny.
Sometimes I think everyone is too serious. People are afraid to be themselves. Everyone lives in a little bit of a bubble—not everyone—but it’s okay to be an individual. I want my kids to be individuals.
My daughter, Tyler, painted the ring on her pony’s bit with pink, sparkly nail polish.
Kids will ask her, “Where’d you get that bit?”
And she says, “I painted it with nail polish. I can do yours too!”
My son, when he was three or four, went through a phase where he wanted to be an Indian and wore a long wig with braids. Everyday. My husband wanted him to take the wig off. My son came to me crying and said, “Mom, I just don’t feel like myself if I don’t have it on.”
I said, “Then wear it. You have to be who you are.”
There are probably a lot of kids that wish they had a little more freedom to express themselves.
I’ve always been a little bit that way. It’s the way we were raised. My dad just expected my brother and I to win at whatever we did and be successful. It wasn’t about anyone else—it was just about us.
You can get really caught up in what other people think or you can try to make yourself the best you can be.
I choose the latter.
My competition, when I ride, is the course and my horse. It doesn’t matter who’s in the class. It doesn’t matter where the horse show is. My horse has to jump those jumps. So it doesn’t have anything to do with anybody else.
There are very few people whose opinions I actually care about. What matters to me is that my horses are happy, my family loves me—my dogs and my kids—and if somebody has an opinion about me that can help that, then I’m all about it.
The rest doesn’t even penetrate. I don’t allow it in my life.
My good friends can come up to me and say, “Your hair looks really bad,” and sometimes I’ll go in the mirror and try to fix it, and sometimes I go, eh, whatever. Look away, it doesn’t matter to me.
I’m not seeking anyone’s approval. My life’s not about that.