Dream horses, dream houses, dream beaches and dream breeches - what more could a girl wish for? Aztec Diamond caught up with one of our long time collaborators and favourite equestrian bloggers Eloise Stevenson (@artisanbaby.nz) and asked her asked her about everything from building her dream life with her family to how she went on vacation to New Zealand and never came home.
As all of us followers know, you appear to live the most incredible life surrounded by family & horses! Could you give us a little bit of background on yourself and how you built the dream in beautiful New Zealand?
Hi AD Girls I’m so excited to be chatting with you! You’ve obviously been keeping an eye on me just as I’ve been watching you - working hard, progressing and steadily growing this amazing brand. I love wearing your stylish gear, it really does make me feel empowered whilst I’m riding and going about my day.
On the subject of hard work, this is indeed the recipe for the incredible life you refer to. Hard work plus location! Adam and I have literally worked our butts off to have the best quality of life possible for ourselves, our girls and our horses. Often, when people are seen to be living an aspirational life, others may assume things have always been that way. I grew up in a loving family but spent years cowering beneath the fists of bullies at a Crawley high school followed by a hefty West Sussex/London daily work commute. Finally I broke free on a quest to New Zealand with a wanderlust boyfriend (not my kiwi husband!) and immediately felt so overwhelmingly relieved and refreshed in this amazing country that I never left. Its very cliché but it is true ‘I found myself in New Zealand’ and absolutely could not have been more ready to meet my husband after the few months it took to establish my own path here. It was love at first sight (for me anyway) and after a youthful period of crazy nights out we put our heads together and designed the life we wanted to live. It took sacrifice, serious office hours, determination and hard graft but now we are cruising and yes it feels amazing! There is not a day that goes by when I don’t thank those ol’ lucky stars. The life you see on my Insta is absolutely true and authentic and we celebrate it so much because we created it together.
How did you first start to document your life & Do you ever feel pressured to keep up with the demands of social media?
During my early stages of being a stay at home mum we investigated a second income stream and began conceptualising a brand - Artisan Baby. A business that sold New Zealand made, high quality baby products to the world – babies are boring I know, sorry about it! The luxury labeI was started with my finest equestrian friend – she was an accomplished hunt master with beautiful horses and a sparkle in her eye, she was so divine and naughty, my idol! This angelic lady sadly and suddenly passed away and the business idea took a back seat but I continued to capture and post life with the pretty horses and our girls around the property and it has evolved to what it is today – I seriously need to change the name don’t I? Any suggestions!?
With regard to the pressures of Instagram, it is something I’m always aware of and I’m pretty quick to whip out my phone and capture the beauty before me but I’m a seasoned pro and the real skill is to be efficient and make sure it doesn’t exploit anyone or impose on family time or quality riding time. I have hundreds of photos queued up for my gallery and my mantra is always to do the thing or have the adventure for the love of it and the extra reward is to capture the glory on your phone while you’re at it. My Instagram identity is unique, everybody’s journey is different in a beautiful way! I don’t make comparisons and I enjoy what I’m doing with it very much. Sometimes I think I’d like a nice camera but as an already busy mum it would be dangerous territory for me on my constant quest to capture perfection!
We are a little obsessed with your two horses, could you tell us a bit about them and how you balance the equestrian/family life?
Lets forget balance and talk about integration. It’s all very fluid and I never feel as though I really have to compromise one thing for another – maybe because we’ve spent years preparing and moulding our approach to life, always with the aim to get to this point.
The horse’s temperaments play a huge part in the seamless mix. Rua and Othello are both stationbred. Many people see their unflappable nature and ask me about their breeding but this is a breed that is unique to New Zealand. Stationbred is a term that describes the environment a horse was brought up in rather than its breeding. Horses of mixed blood that were bred to spend long days under saddle often on rough and steep country. When I purchased my big grey Rua he was at a show but before Georgette was born we were lucky enough to visit the farm where he spent the first ten years of his life. It was utterly breathtaking. Luminous views of blue sea, tall shady trees and green hills rolling down to the waters edge. He was bred there and roamed this land as a youngster searching for shelter and water and learning valuable life lessons. Self–preservation is his mantra! The breeders educated him to use his brain and be calm always. My main agenda when looking for a mount was to find a safe hunter and as a bonus he’d already had many show hunter and show jumping outings recorded. A ready-made good time who is 99.9% reliable in everything that we do. In the thirty years I’ve been riding I’ve never come across such a predictable and capable equine friend.
Adam and I bought Othello our blue eyed cremello when we were dating! Adam invested in him financially on the promise I would teach him to ride. Othello is less athletic than Rua but so chill and now a beautiful old smoochy climbing frame for the girl’s. It’s almost like he has a ‘kid button’ and automatically sleeps when little people fuss around him. The horses understand to be cautious of the children but of course we still have to be mindful. The vibe at home is extremely laid back and a magnificent, highly strung, prancing horse would not fit in here at this moment. It’s a carefully managed situation and one that we guard closely.
As equestrians we are often and easily thrown into the highly competitive lifestyle of showing, how competitive are you at your events and what is your ethos when it comes to equestrian competitiveness.
I’m rather against the notion of competing against other riders and their horses. I believe the competition is personal to your combination and the results you and your horse can achieve against the obstacles that are put before you.
My ethos is that any time out on your horse with like-minded people is a privilege. When I’m at an event I find myself looking at everyone else that has done the same and most likely more than me to get themselves and their horse to this point and I admire them and smile at them. I don’t see them as people to beat.
Drag hunting is definitely our sport of choice – nothing beats the air of tradition, thrill and camaraderie but I do compete throughout the season in eventing, show hunter and showjumping. Rua can turn his capable hooves to anything and we have evented to pre-novice and show jumped to 1.10m. Eventing is something he didn’t do with his previous rider so I’m extra proud of our achievements in dressage and cross country. Spending long days at shows is harder now with the children at home yet Adam is so supportive and always makes it possible for us to get out and about on a quest to bring home some ribbons to decorate the girl’s bedroom.
What are your plans for 2019?
I’ve been engaging with the equestrian Instagram community for the last three years and it’s amazed me how many genuine friends I’ve gained but most impressively the universal acknowledgment that each horse rider has for another through this channel. This has been galvanised through the power of Instagram connections and is certainly a powerful network. The equestrian agenda - a place where our lust and obsession for everything that is horses is celebrated. It has instigated so many new friendships and as our girls grow up we hope to explore these opportunities to meet people and their horses around the world.
I see a great future in the partnerships that I have established so far and I love working with the leading Aztec Diamond brand enjoying clear channels of mutual respect. One of the most exciting collaborations coming up this month is with my good friend the gorgeous and talented Ash from @theblachat
Ash and her partner (3*** eventer) handsome Luke are coming to stay. Her photography and creative skills are off the richter and we are planning some spectacular and unique equestrian adventures including an exclusive Aztec Diamond photoshoot here at home. Ash and I met a couple of years ago through the Insta waves when she booked a plane ticket from Australia and came riding with me! We’re Saddle Club soul sisters and recently hooked up for a ride over Christmas in The Gold Coast. She’s such a high class babe.
Future gaze! Hunt season (drag hunting) has now started so I’m hoping for a large portion of flying coat tails although Adam will be pushing for skiing weekends when Winter comes. We have a family holiday to Fiji locked in (sounds more exhausting than relaxing) and have been discussing plans to build an all weather arena but I’m not going to let myself accept that for a while as it just seems too good to be true! Watch this space.... literally.
Quick Fire Questions:
Favourite place to ride:
The breathtaking black sand beaches of New Zealand
Favourite Tack brand:
Dapple Equestrian @dapple_equestrian
Jumping weird and wonderful objects on my horse
Best way to relax:
Eat Smoked Salmon then sleep
Favourite AD outfit:
Black denim breeches and black base layer #ROOTD
An oldie but a goodie – The Black Stallion by Francis Ford Coppola
All photos for this featur taken by Ashley Grant (@theblachat)