Jenni Smith

Riding through Life with Jenni Smith

Jenni Smith is no stranger to the world of horses, and it’s one of the many reasons she is invaluable on the Ariat product team.

Jenni Smith is no stranger to the world of horses, and it’s one of the many reasons she is invaluable on the Ariat product team. Since joining Ariat over 11 years ago, Jenni has played an integral role in getting some of our most popular and innovative show and training apparel off the ground and into the hands of riders across the globe.

Smith herself is a well-decorated endurance rider. We recently sat down with her to learn a little more about her role at Ariat, endurance riding, and how her experience informs Ariat’s most cutting-edge designs, including the new Ascent collection.

What is your official title?

I’m the Senior Product Manager for English apparel and accessories.

What are you most excited about with the Ascent collection?

Let me just say how really truly excited I am about the Ascent collection. It’s a key initiative in our performance technology strategy. Ascent uses innovative compression fabrications to keep the rider’s body in position and help protect muscles and joints from wear and tear. We worked with chiropractors, fabric specialists and riders to develop these products, and I can’t wait to see how they are received by the riding community.

How did you get into horses?

I’ve been horse-crazy ever since I was a little kid. My parents didn’t have much money, but they always found a way to let me ride. When I was a little older, I got a paper route and a year and a half later, I had saved enough money to buy my first horse and saddle.

My first horse was an Arabian and the perfect children’s horse. She wouldn’t let me get away with stuff but took care of me at the same time. She even loved the occasional Snickers bar and Coca-Cola. She got me hooked on horses for life.

What discipline do you ride?

I am an endurance rider. I've been riding and competing in this discipline for about 20 years. Endurance is a sport of miles, so I ride over 50 miles or 100 miles at a time. You have 24 hours to complete a 100-mile endurance event it. It's a balance of managing the ride and making sure your horse stays healthy and hydrated enough to complete the 100 miles. It's called endurance for a reason! My favorite endurance competition is the storied Tevis Cup. In 2015, I was honored to take home one of the most coveted awards in the discipline: the Haggin Cup, which is awarded to the horse in the “most superior physical condition” of the first ten horses to cross the finish line.

Jenni Smith

What is your favorite part about endurance riding?

What tops the list is getting out to see the beautiful countryside I would never see otherwise. When competing, I'll be riding that horse for 17 hours to complete 100 miles, and it's quite an experience for the both of us. The relationship that you have with the horse after you've done this together is amazing. Horses are incredible creatures.

How does your experience riding come in handy during your day to day at Ariat?

My riding informs my product feedback to the design team, primarily because I spend so many hours in the saddle. I personally wear a lot of tights and technical base layers on my rides, so I can provide designers with real world feedback on how our technical wear performs.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

We strive to be a performance leader in riding apparel as well as footwear. It can be a challenge to bring products to market that are both innovative and manufacturable in large quantities. It can also be a challenge to turn design ideas into products with strong consumer benefits.

What is your favorite part about your job?

My favorite thing about the job is working to balance what consumers and retailers want with what the design team can create. Ultimately, we want to make the best performing products possible for our riders and build loyalty to the brand.

To browse the Ascent collection and learn more about the Ascent technology, click here. Don’t forget to tag us in your adventures with #ariatEQ or #myAriat.