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..

Jun 01, 2020 Association News

USEA Horse of the Month: Talon Ted

While every story submitted to the USEA for the June Horse of the Month was unique and special, it was Teddy’s story that stood out. Therefore, the USEA June Horse of the Month is Talon Ted aka "Teddy", a 14.1 hand, 17-year-old Paint Pinto Gelding owned by Eran Murray and ridden by Eran’s daughter, Brooke Murray.

Jun 01, 2020 Eventing News

Event Cancellations and Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

May 31, 2020 Grants

Apply Now for the 2021 Worth the Trust Scholarship

In 2000 and with the support of Joan Iversen Goswell, the Worth the Trust Scholarships were established to provide financial assistance to amateurs to pursue their education in eventing. The funds from the Worth the Trust Educational Scholarship may be used for training opportunities such as clinics, working student positions, and private or group instruction, or to learn from an official, course designer, technical delegate, judge, veterinarian, or organizer.

May 30, 2020 Educational Activities

MACTA Cross-Country Schooling Day a Success Amid COVID-19 Restrictions

The spring eventing season in the Midwest is always a toss-up due to unpredictable weather. Will it rain, will it be sunny, or will it be a snowstorm? No one knows! Mid-America Combined Training Association’s (MACTA) first cross-country schooling of the season was cancelled in March due to extremely muddy footing conditions and by the time our April dates came around, COVID-19 was in full force and we were unable to host our cross-country schooling and schooling show.

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