Horsepower from 1 to 10,000
Catching up with Ride Heels Down Founder, Ainsley Jacobs
Contributed by Around the Water Trough
How Ride Heels Down come to be?
Ainsley: Ride Heels Down actually started as a “lightbulb moment” as I was mid-jump in my first Novice (2’11”) height jump course. I was riding in a lesson on September 30, 2014, and my trainer put the jumps up a little higher than usual. I was riding JJ – who I now own – and we had only been working together a few weeks at that point.
As we came into one of the jumps, I got nervous but quickly told myself to ‘just put your heels down and hold on,’ then immediately thought ‘hey, that’s a cool idea for a t-shirt!’ Haha! It took a few months before I got down to doing anything with the idea. But, after several revisions and a whole bunch of refining, I decided to call the company Ride Heels Down and sell riding-related apparel. I officially launched on September 1, 2015 and have been having a blast ever since – all thanks to JJ and his initial inspiration!
How’d the rest of the course go?
Ainsley: The course itself wound up being a ton of fun and I went home feeling motivated both for riding and business.
Where do you get your tee shirt ideas?
Ainsley: Honestly, most of them come to me in the middle of the night while I’m lying in bed unable to sleep! I just let my brain go on random trains of thought. Some are inspired by things I tell myself (“X, Halt, Salute, BREATHE!”). A couple have been collaborations with friends – like my new “Good Studs Are Hard to Find” tee, which was ideated and designed by my awesome coach, Lauren Turner of River Birch Farm.
What are some of your top selling tees?
Ainsley: That’s a tough one, because they all do well. It really depends on the event I’m attending as to what sells best. The items in my “Have A Great Ride” collection have been popular over the years. It’s such a classic design and iconic statement. The “Everything Hurts” shirt is always a favorite since it’s so funny (and so relatable) while the “More Leg,” “Trust Your Horse,” “Eyes Up,” and “Too Legit to Sit” styles are all great too.
Can you tell us a bit about your background with horses?
Ainsley: I’ve loved horses ever since I was born. I wasn’t the little girl who wanted teacups and dollies, I wanted horses and racecars right from the beginning. All through high school I taught lessons, pushed trails, managed summer camp, did barn chores, and basically worked wherever I could to earn time in the saddle. I rode on my school’s IHSA team in college, but it wasn’t until I moved to Atlanta and discovered eventing in 2014 (thanks once again to JJ for the inspiration) that I truly found “my sport.”
I learned the ropes with JJ and finally bought him in 2016. Sadly, he was injured in a pasture accident a few months later and on stall rest for over a year. Then, I was hurt in a car accident and had to be put on “stall rest” for a few months as well. I’m happy to report we are both fully recovered and back at it! We are moving up to Training level together and he has been the most incredible partner. He has taught me so much and has made me a better rider.
Ride Heels Down goals?
Ainsley: I would LOVE one day for Ride Heels Down to be carried in major equestrian retail locations like Dover and SmartPak. For now, it’s more of a one-woman, small hobby side-hustle since I also have a day job that pays the bills – I do motorsports marketing for the automotive aftermarket and professional drag racing industry. So, I joke that I love all things horsepower from 1 to 10,000!
New RHD gear?
Ainsley: I recently launched my super fun “Ride Right” reversable wristbands which feature pretty patterns on one side and messages on the other, like “Have A Great Ride” or “Suck It Up, Buttercup” and people are loving them!
August 27-September 1, 2019
USEA American Eventing Championships
Kentucky Horse Park
April 22-26, 2020
Land Rover Kentucky 3 Day Event
Kentucky Horse Park
Ride Heels Down has been a sponsor of the USEA AEC for three years now and when I found out I had accidentally qualified for the first time, I decided I would go and ride, too! Should be a fun! I will also continue to attend the local events, horse trials, and schooling shows in and around Georgia as a vendor.
More about RHD ... In addition to Ride Heels Down’s awesome apparel, Ainsley writes a blog called “Lessons Learned” that chronicles her struggles and successes with JJ as they’ve progressed from Tadpole to Training. Ainsley is “always happy to laugh at myself, and hopefully I can help others to not make the same mistakes that I’ve had to learn the hard way over the years.” Everything is available at RideHeelsDown.com.
A few Ainsley favs ...
Probably Social Distortion’s “Story of My Life.” I’m a punk rock girl at heart, and that song just really resonates with me. I usually listen to music when I ride alone (to help keep me motivated) and I don’t want my mood/ride to get affected by the words, so I generally play reggaeton since I don’t speak Spanish and can’t understand it… but it’s got great energy to keep me going!
That’s tough, because I LOVE to eat and really can’t pick just one! I’ll never say no to strawberries or chocolate covered pretzels, but Thai is my most favorite food genre at the moment.
Fav place to visit?
Wherever JJ is, of course! But in all seriousness, I have been very fortunate to have been able to travel quite a bit (my husband’s job takes him all over, so we’ve accumulated quite a bit of airline miles and hotel points that we enjoy redeeming) and while Thailand was absolutely one of the best places I’ve ever visited in my entire life, there was something really special about France.