Guest Post by Mary Beth Rohaly, Founder of Braid Secrets and the Frugal Equestrian Blog Did you know that judges form their first impression of a horse in just seven seconds? What message will your horse's turnout send to the judges this year?  Passionate equestrians create turnout that reflects all of the hard work they put into riding and caring for their horse. One of the ways they achieve this is by transforming their horse’s mane into perfect braids. The key to creating perfect hunter braids on your horse is knowledge. I too struggled with braiding -- but I was fortunate to find professional mentors who taught me their secrets and I worked hard to perfect my skills. I already knew how to braid when I met them, but what I didn’t know was what details to focus on each step of the way, and their braiding secrets. That’s what I’m sharing with you. So, let’s get started improving your horse’s turnout with some tips on mane evaluation and preparation, and how to braid down the mane like a pro.So what's holding you back from achieving top-notch turnout of your horse? Are your mediocre braids detracting from an otherwise pleasing picture? You can change that starting right now!

The other day I was talking to Lauren of She Moved To Texas about some of my confidence issues as of late. She recommended that I start visualizing Miles and I completing the perfect hunter trip. She said "think about any height, but I bet if you do that right now, your trip has lots of problems with it." And she was right. While I have a better mental picture of a 2' or 2'3" hunter course, at 2'6", the wheels fall off the wagon, so to speak. To document my progress, I thought I'd share what my mental picture of a 2'6" hunter trip with Miles looks like to me right now.

Call me vain and superficial if you want to, but I take pride in how my horse looks both at home and at horse shows. My preferences go beyond just a shiny coat… I want to see a well-turned out horse from head to toe. Sometimes it’s the little things that drive me crazy, and those tend to be what I notice the most. There are a lot of little places that can easily get neglected when you’re feeling a little bit lazy or you’ve been particularly busy, but here are my top five easy to miss grooming spots:

Spring came a little bit late this year to fly over country, but I think it’s finally here to stay. What does that mean for equestrians? We’re knee deep in mud, our horses are shedding like crazy and show season is right around the corner [if it hasn’t started already]! To get ready for summer, which is the best part of the year in my opinion, I’ve got some equestrian spring cleaning tips for you:

Tax day is Wednesday, April 15 and if you haven't already filed your taxes, get on it! I've already filed mine, because I get all excited about how much money I'm going to get back. Is it just a little bit or is it a lot?! But the best part of doing my taxes is deciding what to do with my unexpected windfall of money. For equestrians, there's always something we need or want, so here's my list of ideas for ways to spend your tax refund in 2015.

Every equestrian loves to have clean saddle pads, but we all hate to wash them. Unless you're lucky enough to board at a facility that has its own washer and dryer... then you probably don't mind. But for the rest of us, we've got to figure out a way to get white pads white and all that horse hair off our brand new polo wraps from the comfort of our own homes. I've run the gamut of cleaning options, from sending things out to professionals to getting kicked out of laundromats. What I've learned is that you can wash a majority of your horse laundry right here at home -- and here's how.