The Equestrian Woman Bias: riding isn't a sport and equestrians aren’t real athletes…right? Outdoor Retailer thinks so.
My horse ladies, the bias against us is alive and well.
I know you know what I’m talking about, you’ve heard it and felt it for years.
Your horse sport isn’t a “real sport” (like running, climbing, skiing, or biking), therefore YOU are not a real athlete, and that also means that you don’t need clothing/gear that actually performs in the outdoors.
I call this the "Equestrian Woman Bias."
The Equestrian Woman Bias is the perception that horseback riding isn't a real sport, and therefore, equestrians don't need performance gear like other outdoor athletes.
Compounding Equestrian Woman Bias is the fact that the majority of equestrians are women, and since the women's outdoor clothing industry has been miles behind mens in terms of innovation and performance (because you know, we don't do "real outdoor stuff" ~eye roll~), well, you can understand why women's riding gear leaves you literally out in the cold.
And, guess what, the largest outdoor gear trade show, “Outdoor Retailer,” just confirmed this bias is alive and kicking.
Outdoor Retailer doesn’t consider Arctic Horse to be a retailer of finished outdoor products.
Let me say that again, Outdoor Retailer doesn’t consider the gear we provide you all with, to be an outdoor product, and the fact that we make and sell this gear to you doesn’t make us an outdoor retailer.
And, why the hell is that?
The Equestrian Woman Bias.
Thousands of horse women slogging through the weather every dang day to feed and exercise horses, two Iditarod’s, and countless photos and testimonials of horse women adventuring OUTSIDE in serious weather in our All Weather Riding Skirts hasn’t swayed them yet.
We’re not considered a real outdoor retailer, even though we make and sell gear that protects you (primarily equestrian women) from rain, snow, and wind.
Yet, nearly every other accepted outdoor retailer at this trade show is making gear that protects their customer base from rain, snow, and wind, but the difference is, they’re making these products for people they consider actual outdoor athletes (runners, bikers, climbers, skiers, etc), in sports they consider actual sports.
This trade show is the mecca for outdoor retailers to come together, learn about the outdoor gear market, exhibit their products, connect with sources for technical fabrics, manufacturing, and innovations in the outdoor market, and on and on.
Think exhibitors like North Face, Marmot, Patagonia, and tons of smaller outdoor retailers all tailored to the outdoor industry gathering to connect, learn, and make better gear.
Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Sounds like a place you’d want to be if you are serious about making real outdoor gear, right? Apparently, not.
To be considered a “buyer” you have to show you retail finished outdoor products (you know, like a piece of clothing that keeps you warm and dry in the outdoors, like the thousands of All Weather Riding Skirts we've made and sold).
Having submitted the paperwork, documentation, our website showing our products, many emails and several unanswered requests to speak to someone in person, the only response is that we’re STILL not verified as an outdoor retailer.
You can attend the tradesheow and not be considered an Outdoor Retailer “buyer” but the cost is astronomically more.
So, I’ve spent the time and money to fly to Denver (currently on the plane), pay for a hotel and car, took time away from my team and family, and I’m walking into the show tomorrow not knowing how much I’m going to have to pay to attend, or how they're going to classify us.
I’m gonna puke. Or throw a huge humungous fit. Or both. It might be messy.
I started Arctic Horse because I couldn’t find equestrian gear that actually kept me warm and dry outside and it was causing me to lose time with my horses, cut rides short, and slowed my progress on horse goals.
Equestrian riding gear is miles and years behind other outdoor industries in performance, innovation, and technical fabrics and our mission is to bring that level of gear performance and protection to equestrian women. Because, well, you truly need it. I needed it.
Our Arctic Insulated Riding Skirts literally ran the Iditarod. Twice. Our Backcountry Trail Skirt protected a woman on a 1100 mile backcountry horse trip. The Tongass Rain has protected countless women from getting drenched and hypothermic.
We make real gear, for real athletes.
I was so excited to attend Outdoor Retailer to connect with other industries and learn about new fabrics and processes that would make better gear for you all, but I’m seriously disappointed in having my outdoor sport de-legitimized right off the bat.
Outdoor Retailer: you want to get more women into the outdoors? Stop excluding equestrian women and negating their sport.
In case you haven’t noticed, our sport lives outside, which means we do, too. We can't take a day off of our sport because the weather is bad, horse's need to be cared for every day of the year regardless of wind, rain or snow.
When we’re not riding and working our horses, we’re out for hours more taking care of them, cleaning, feeding, doctoring, grooming, and repairing fences to keep them safe.
Pound for pound, hour for hour, I’d bet my farm that horse women are out in more weather for longer than most of the other outdoor sports you so readily recognize.