Reader’s Clubhouse: Talking OTTB T-shirts

The newest OTTB fashion statement

Welcome to Reader’s Clubhouse!

Every week, plans to look at the lighter side of life with an OTTB.

Fashion trends among the best-dressed (or most comfy) horse and rider teams, fitness routines, recipes, the art of balancing family with barn time, and discussions to help us all navigate the maze of brands in equipment and gear, are all topics that will enliven the conversation.

In the first installment of Reader’s Clubhouse, equestrian Kristen Shellenbarger discusses her new T-shirt design and the inspiration behind it.

Q:  Kristen, which came first, the OTTB, or the T-shirts?

A: Surely the OTTB! In fact, the very first horse I learned to jump on was a lovely 16 yr old Bay OTTB by the name of  TopGun. My first OTTB, who I currently own, is Lazarus, a 2001 blood bay OTTB.

He has inspired the shirts but each OTTB in my life has created that strong love.

Q: Walk us through the steps you took to design and create a T-shirt line?

A:  Easy! My inspiration comes from the known “I love NYC” shirts but instead I wanted to the ‘heart logo’ to represent the racehorse that many of us rescued, rehabbed, retrained and LOVE. It just came simply to me and made sense. It seems to strike a chord with a lot of riders/owners of the OTTBs out there, which I’m thrilled about.

Q: What makes the shirt so appealing?  

Kristen and Lazarus share a hug

A: Every OTTB owner I know is proud and wants to tell the world about their baby. This shirt is a lovely way to segue into that conversation. Wear it out at a show, hacking at the barn, running errands-I wanted it to have an Urban feel to it that it looks great with breeches or jeans.  The frosting of it all, is that $5 is donated to CANTER (locally here in Michigan) to keep saving these amazing animals for promising futures. Just because it’s MI CANTER doesn’t mean it doesn’t help all OTTBs. My Lazarus was born in Florida, raced all over the U.S. and ended up in Michigan.

Q: How can a Thoroughbred fan get your shirt? 

A: Through my Etsy shop:

We are a young company and about 50 shirts have been sold since opening up in at the end of Jan this year.

Q: Why do you love your OTTB?

A:  My OTTB teaches me to be a better rider, partner, horse owner.  He has a very kind heart, big spirit and zest for life.


If you have found a great OTTB-related product, or, want to share recipes, discuss your favorite brand of riding apparel, or share your observations about anything OTTB in Reader’s Clubhouse, please email Susan Salk at

One response to “Reader’s Clubhouse: Talking OTTB T-shirts”

  1. Susan Salk

    Does anyone have any experiences with tree-less western saddles? I’m curious to know what people think, and what the pros and cons are. Please contact me at if you’d like to chat in Reader’s Clubhouse.

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