Free x Rein started with a dream that seemed simple enough—founders Andrea Vogel and Dana Schwartz have been riding horses for two decades, yet were unable to find equestrian ensembles that were comfortable and flattering. So the duo started out on a Goldilocks-eque journey that involved trying on each and every riding top and jodhpur out there—and when nothing that met their high standards of comfort and style, they decided to create their own.
Armed with years of personal experience that served as the perfect R&D, Vogel and Schwartz designed an equileisure line that both city slickers and country chic riders alike will appreciate thanks to the amazing fits and fabrics that are wearable both in and out of the ring. Free x Rein is your ultimate day-to-night sportswear brand. Take a peek into the mind of the founders to learn more.
What's your first memory that has to do with horses?
Dana: I took lessons at a small riding academy a few towns over, and the first horse I ever rode was named Madama Butterfly. She was an older, cranky gray mare, but also incredibly forgiving, letting myself and other kids learn how to ride and mistakes on her. Every time I see a billboard in the city for the opera “Madama Butterfly” I think of her!
Andrea: My mom dropped me off at my first riding lesson and when she came back an hour later she found me with a shovel that was bigger than me mucking a stall with the biggest smile on my face. We both knew that I had found my happy place.
Will you tell me a little about the horse you currently ride with?
Dana: Grey Street, or as he is known around the house “Pops”, is an incredibly special horse I have been riding for a while. He was my brother’s first hunter and the two of them had a lot of success, so we decided to keep him in the family! Pops is blind in one eye, but that doesn’t stop him from being one of the most athletic, smart and gentle horses I have ever had the pleasure of riding. He is proof that you should never write off horses, (or people), just because they have a disability!
Andrea: My “horse of a lifetime” is named Nerval. I’ve had him for almost four years and he helped me transform from a very timid rider to winning classes. There is nothing that he won’t do for you…as long as you have mints. My favorite part about him are his eyes—when you look into them, you can tell that he understands you. He is also one of the most beautiful horses (I know I’m biased!) and does some modeling for Free x Rein on the side. He is 16 but still going strong—I love when I see older horses in the top classes because it means I have a lot more time with him.
What’s the best lesson horseback riding has taught you?
Andrea: Responsibility. I was in charge of taking care of my horse growing up, so I had to be very responsible. I remember many sleepovers when I would leave early the next morning when all my friends were still sleeping. That has carried into my adult life and made me the person I am today.
Dana: Perseverance. Horseback riding is filled with a lot of ups and downs—you could train for weeks on end and when you get into the ring going for the win, your horse might buck you off or ten other people are just that much more on their game. It teaches you not give up on the hard work because the payoff of having a successful round and partnership with a horse is the most gratifying feeling in the world, especially when you know just how much of your own blood, sweat, and tears have gone into it.
What motivated you to found Free x Rein?
Dana: I couldn’t find any clothing that made me feel comfortable and confident, unless it was a style that was fairly outdated. Modern brands design shirts and pants skin-tight, with thin fabric and unflattering designs. I dreamed of on an ensemble that could take me from work to the barn while still looking polished.
Andrea: There are so many reasons that we started Free x Rein! The main one is how hard it is to balance riding and ‘real life.’ After so many years of riding in the early morning before work or in the evening after work, it became extremely frustrating to always have to change at home, in the car, in a random bathroom—you’d be totally grossed out if I told you all the places I have changed in or out of riding clothes! At the same time, equestrian style is so timeless and chic – all of my friends own some version of riding boots and breeches are basically just amazing leggings but there was nothing on the market that we felt could transition. If we can help even one woman have an easier time fitting it all in, it will be worth it.
The other major reason was that we felt and heard the frustration about how women felt in their riding clothes. We had one woman tell us that she was actually wearing Spanx under her riding pants! How can you do a sport and wear Spanx? That’s crazy.
What's the piece of Free x Rein you love the most?
Andrea: I am obsessed with The Signature Ponte Pant. They are the only pants I have ever worn that feel better on than off. They are also the perfect crossover pant—I wear them all the time to work or out to dinner. They are like wearing your favorite pair of leggings but with the style of a tailored pant so you never worry about them not looking professional or chic enough. I seriously can’t wait to wear them everyday.
Dana: I am equally in love with The Derby Pant and our Moto bodysuits. The Derby is incredibly comfortable yet form fitting, the waistband makes me feel secure, and very flattering on all figures. The Moto bodysuit feels like a second skin, I instantly forget I’m wearing a bodysuit because it is breathable and soft, and it drapes along your torso so it never looks messy or untucked!