Jan 22, 2019

Eventers-Turned-Entrepreneurs: HOOFiTZ Leaves Its Mark

By Eileen Kenney - HOOFiTZ
Photo courtesy of Eileen Kenney.

Eventers are brave, resilient, smart, strong minded, hard working, confident, goal-oriented, tough as nails, and ‘MacGyver-like’ problem solvers. So are entrepreneurs. So, it’s not surprising I took the path that has led me here…

It all started when I was a kid galloping around pretending to be a horse with all my friends. We made ramshackle jumps with sticks and rocks and cantered through the woods over obstacles, bushes, and whatever we could jump. As the youngest of six in a coal-mining town, there weren’t many opportunities to be a horse rider, but we could be horses in our imaginations.

As I found my way into working with horses as the years passed, my background before eventing was 4-H, hunter, then dressage and Pony Club followed by natural horsemanship. Life took me in a different direction to Hollywood, and finally in 2001 I was able to return to my love - the equestrian world - and became a working student for Phyllis Dawson, 1988 Olympic Eventing Team rider and now USEA advisor. I was in my mid-30s surrounded by young eager teen and 20-year-olds with dreams of eventing glory.

Photo courtesy of Eileen Kenney.

Eventing is the triple threat of horse sports. To perform all three of the phases equally well is one of the most challenging tasks by far as an equestrian. Once I was bit by the eventing bug I never looked back and went on to compete in U.S. Eventing for years.

As I honed my skills with experience and certifications through the USEA Instructor and “r” Judge Certification Programs, I began breeding, training, and coaching. I started the University of Virginia Eventing Team and was a huge supporter of the USEA Young Event Horse series. I found a niche in finding and starting young horses up through the Preliminary level. I have sold some of the young horses to top riders like Kim Severson and Elisa Wallace where they have competed successfully at the upper levels. Many of my young horses are also competing with top riders in the show jumping world. I kept busy restarting “rogue” horses considered dangerous that were to be sent to slaughter, to give them a chance for a new life. I also ran top-notch boarding and training facilities for years throughout Virginia.

All the while a unique idea I envisioned years ago as a working student kept occupying more and more of my daily thoughts. My then-clients and now-partners loved the idea and put up the capital to start. As a single mom, I don't know how I managed it all and, as I look back, I think I must have been crazy! But it was an exciting prospect and I began the process of making the idea a reality.

Photo courtesy of Eileen Kenney.

Over the next six years, I designed the product, sourced the materials, found a manufacturer, and listened to the advice of anyone who would talk to me. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about injection molding, contracts, distribution networks, finance, marketing, patents, and licensing to name a few. Hard work, dedication, resilience, and faith in myself and the product got me through several disastrous and disappointing trips to China and Italy and invaluable experience at “Shark Tank”. I now have a very healthy respect for consumer goods and what goes into developing, producing, and putting a product on the market. In spite of all the adversity, sweat equity, and determination (sound similar to eventing?), I kept the project moving forward. HOOFiTZ® is now here and rapidly earning acceptance in national and international markets.

So, what is HOOFiTZ®?

HOOFiTZ® are bright, cheery, equestrian-themed rain boots for children and women. Boots geared toward the horse-loving kid in all of us. They have a patented sole design that mimics the grip, flexion, and balance of a horse’s hoof. It acts as a natural cushion to ground impact and pushes out mud and dirt naturally. The concave sole shape produces a natural grip for any terrain and leaves a hoof “print”. Each pair also comes with a detachable tail.

Photo courtesy of Eileen Kenney.

Kids can explore their imaginations by pretending to be a horse and leaving prints wherever they go. HOOFiTZ® is designed to provide an interactive experience to foster a child’s imagination and play. Pretending to be a horse like that little girl growing up in Pennsylvania coal country, that is what I love most.

Women love the comfort factor of the thick, antibacterial arch support insoles not found in ordinary rubber boots. Both fashion-conscious and practical women love the Gucci-like design in a variety of eye-pleasing colors and a faux leather finish. HOOFiTZ® are as at home on the streets of New York as they are at the barn. Once you put your feet in a pair of HOOFiTZ®, our customers say it’s like wearing comfortable sneakers.

Eventing has taught me perseverance and resilience, which is the only way I could have ever gotten this far without giving up so often when things went wrong. I owe my success and the success of HOOFiTZ® to being an eventer, and to our wonderful amazing customers!

Photo courtesy of Eileen Kenney.

Everyone deserves a pair of HOOFiTZ® so join the herd and giddy up! To learn more, visit the HOOFiTZ® website, Facebook page, and Instagram..

Dec 04, 2021 Profile

Now On Course: The Four Year Journey with My Horse Cross Match

On a crisp morning in December of 2016, I dragged my husband to Penn National to look at some horses to hopefully be my next eventing partner. I also had a horse to look at in Maryland at Kate Chadderton's farm. Keep in mind every horse I wanted to look at was a gelding. I did have a couple at Penn National that I really liked and then went to look at the one Kate had. After I rode the gelding at Kate's she asked me how I felt about mares. My response was, "I don't, but bring her out."

Dec 03, 2021 Convention

One Week Away! The 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention Schedule is Now Available

The 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico is only one week away! Start planning your personal agenda as next week will have a jam-packed schedule starting on Wednesday, December 8 through Sunday, December 12.

Dec 02, 2021 Convention

Gallops Saddlery Renews Partnership for the 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is thrilled to welcome back Gallops Saddlery as a Contributing Level Sponsor of the 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. This year’s Annual Meeting & Convention will take place at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque in Albuquerque, New Mexico on December 9-12, 2021.

Dec 02, 2021

Important Member Updates from the November 2021 USEF Board of Directors Meeting

The USEF Board of Directors met on November 22, 2021 and approved the following Extraordinary Rule Changes that will go into effect today, December 1, 2021.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Outerwear of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Horse Clothing of the USEA