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..

Oct 14, 2019 Competitions

Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team Tests New Olympic Format at FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ The Netherlands

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum were the highest placed combination of the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ The Netherlands hosted at the Military Boekelo CCIO4*-L in Enschede, the Netherlands, earning a final score of 31.9 for 11th place out of a competitive field of 97 starters. The Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team, comprised of Tamie Smith, Liz Halliday-Sharp, Jennie Brannigan and reserve Matt Flynn, was led under the guidance of Chef d’Equipe Erik Duvander.

Oct 14, 2019 Technical Merit

Otter Creek Charles Owen Technical Merit Awards Go to Stroh and Poulos

Mya Poulos and Vanessa Stroh were the junior and adult amateur recipient of the award at the Otter Creek Farm Fall Horse Trials, September 13-15, 2019, which hosted the Area IV leg of the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award. The Charles Owen Technical Merit Award takes place in each of the 10 USEA Areas and rewards one junior and one adult amateur riders for their safe and effective cross-country riding.

Oct 14, 2019 Convention

Two Months Until Boston! New Announcements for the 2019 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention

The 2019 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention is only two months away! Multiple keynote speakers, three-day eventing inspired films, and a 60th anniversary celebration – the schedule is packed with special highlights that will make this year unforgettable. The 2019 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention is on Dec. 12-15 in Boston, Massachusetts at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

Oct 13, 2019 Eventing News

Germany Wins FEI Eventing Nations Cup Boekelo, Sweden Takes Series Title, and Swiss Book Ticket to Tokyo

In the thrilling finale to the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ 2019 series at Boekelo, The Netherlands today, Team Germany posted their fourth win of the season while league leaders Sweden held on to take the series title. However, some of the biggest smiles were on Swiss faces when they pulled Olympic qualification out of the bag.

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Official Outerwear of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

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Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA