byTori Repole| Aug 11, 2017
Some days, you’ll find Lauren Allport suiting up to tackle a cross-country course. Others, she’ll be out for a mid-day gallop—tackless—at the local beach. The versatile 25-year-old Irish equestrian is the face behind a social media empire that’s acquired nearly 300,000 followers on her combined platforms of Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, where she owns the popular username, Eddiesgun91, one of the platform’s pioneering equestrian channels.
Allport was one of the first equestrians to create a successful platform on YouTube, so much so that she manages not one, but two highly sustainable accounts. Those who have followed her journey from 2009 have witnessed the evolution of Allport as a rider, horsewoman, university student, and globetrotter. Lauren has seemingly done it all, and many would agree that her greatest appeal is her ability to transcend various disciplines and interests with her horses. Boo Delicious, her 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, is as much a regular on “Eddiesgun91” as her owner. The span of their seven-year partnership is fully documented on YouTube, and for Allport, “Boo” is her once in a lifetime horse.
For the past few years, Lauren has been based in Dubai, where she participates in trick riding and show jumping while balancing her growing string of horses and a full-time job as a licensed Equine Sports Therapist. She is currently undergoing a Masters Degree program at the McTimoney College of Chiropractic in England, where she plans to become an Animal Chiropractor once graduated in 2018. While her platforms have stood the test of time—her content continues to evolve, as does she—it is Allport’s dedication and commitment to her horses that ultimately continues to draw people in.
We caught up with the Renaissance woman to learn more about life as a social media icon.
NF Style: What are you most passionate about?
Lauren Allport: Anything to do with horses, for work and pleasure. I enjoy everything about them, and I’m always improving my knowledge—whether it’s riding or [equine massage] therapy. I love being around my horses and bonding with them. They know me really well.
How has liberty work strengthened your relationship with them?
Liberty training is a lot about body language and getting the horse to be really attentive to everything you do and every movement you make. Both of my horses will trot with me when I’m at liberty and they’ll stay with me without ropes.
I really love tackless riding. My dressage trainer hates it because she says it’s not correct, but I really enjoy it and I think Boo really likes it too; it makes her really responsive. If I make the smallest movement with my seat, she can trot a 10-meter circle or do a flying change, and that’s just from my body, not from any of the tack.
What steps should a person take if they’re interested in riding their horses tackless?
If you want to keep your saddle on and just ride without a bridle, that’s a little bit easier. With Boo, I had to teach her to neck rein and how to stop with my voice and my seat. I actually didn’t take the bridle off for quite some time, but she was also the first horse I taught to do that. If you can ride and you’re balanced at the walk, trot, and canter while bareback, that’s the first step. Then, it’s riding with long reins at the walk, trot, and canter, and getting the horse to stop using a neck rope. I used the neck rope, but I kept the bridle on for quite a while [as well] just for safety, especially if you’re doing it in a big open space or you don’t have an arena.
You just have to think safety first, and you have to be a bit careful about the horses you choose to do it on. I’m sure there have been people who’ve seen the popular riders riding without tack, and without really knowing how to do it or asking someone for advice, they just tried it and [that can cause] accidents.
And for trick training?
I suppose you just have to know the temperament of the horse and [use caution] about what you teach certain horses. Boo is the first horse that I trick trained and she knows how to rear, lie down, bow… I can do everything with her—cross country, eventing, show jumping, trick riding, and tackless riding. She’s really good and she’s just fun. She’s not the best mover and she’s not the scopiest, but she has a really good brain and she likes to work and engage with me.
With a horse that is quite sharp or bites, I wouldn’t teach it too many tricks with food. If you have a horse that can be quite excitable and likes to buck and rear, I probably wouldn’t teach it to rear under saddle, because then they start to anticipate it. I would encourage people to think about the kind of horse they have and the quality of the horse. Some horses might not be able to bow because of health conditions or conformation, and some horses might not be able to rear because they have hind end problems or problems in the back. Just be careful about what you teach your horse. Just because you see someone doing something doesn’t mean that it’s right for your animal.
How did your presence on social media land you a job in Dubai?
Someone found my contact details on social media and offered me a job [here] as a riding instructor, a horse trainer, and doing a little bit of therapy. I only ended up working there for three weeks, but I’m really grateful because it’s the reason I ended up in the country in the first place. From that, I just happened to meet the right people and get the right opportunities, and I’ve managed to build a good client base. I’m very lazy and I don’t really advertise myself. Luckily, I have social media, so it’s free advertising, but otherwise, it’s just word of mouth, which is how I’ve gotten all of my client based work.
What is your daily routine like?
Usually, I go to the stables and I like to ride my horses in the morning for two to three hours, depending on how many I have to ride that day. Then I spend the rest of my day treating anywhere from two to six horses [for massage therapy].
How do you evaluate a horse for massage therapy?
To assess the horse, I first speak with the owner and take a general history. I have them fill out a form to get any complaints that they might have, the vet details, and depending on the country, you have to have a certain level of veterinary permission. Then, I usually go in and see how the horse stands in the stable and their overall appearance. Do they look happy? Do they look dull? Do they look like their posture is uncomfortable?
I’ll get the handler to take them outside and assess them at the walk and trot in a straight line. Sometimes, I’ll watch the horse lunge, depending on what the owner says and feels. After that, I start palpating the horse and addressing the areas that I’m going to work on when treating them, and then I give an aftercare [instructions for] what the owner is or isn’t to do, and what exercises and stretches they might use to continue the rehabilitation of the horse.
As a licensed Equine Sports Therapist, what are your suggestions for keeping horses in top form?
- Make sure your saddle is fitted every 3-6 months. Most people only do it once a year, but as I continue to learn more about horses, I know it’s necessary to have your saddle checked every few months because of how the horse changes throughout the season.
- Take dressage lessons or be conscious about riding in a balanced way and not just flying around on the horse. When I was in Ireland, I didn’t really have anyone to teach me dressage, but since I’ve come to Dubai, I have a high-level dressage trainer and I’ve learned so much with her. I didn’t know anything about riding two years ago. Before it was just [about] riding and getting the horse in a [shape], but now it’s using all of the aides together, riding every stride, being aware of the horse’s body, and not letting your tension come through to the horse. Good flatwork is the basis of everything, and without it, you won’t be able to progress as far as you could [otherwise].
- Preserve the horse. Be mindful of the work that you’re going to do within the facilities that you have and the surface you’re going to train on. Not everyone is lucky enough to have an arena surface, or if they do, it might be very deep.
- Limb stretches, belly lifts, and carrot stretches are really good, and people can do them with almost any horse. You should get veterinary approval [in advance], just in case your horse has a condition that won’t allow them to benefit from being stretched.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully, still doing therapy and working with high-level horses. I work with a lot of Olympic and grand prix jumpers in Dubai, so I’d just like to keep building [those] clients. Of course, I also work with pleasure riders, but I enjoy treating the performance horses. I also want to jump the big classes when I’m a little bit more experienced, so I find it really interesting as well.
This season I am aiming to become consistent in the 1.20/1.25 classes with my 16-year-old gelding Urano. I got him six months ago with the intention of moving up a level, and I hope that when he’s ready to retire in the future I’ll have another horse to progress to the 1.30/1.35 classes.
-Featured photos via Facebook/Lauren Eddiesgun.
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