By Britney Grover
Portraits by Arianna Vetere
Lyndsy Calato learned her exquisite attention to detail riding and showing Quarter Horses in her youth. When she rediscovered riding at 40—this time with a close-contact saddle in the hunter world—she brought that same attention to detail. That’s also how she noticed what a difference it made in the way she felt about herself when she first donned a shadbelly.
After she couldn’t find belts or saddle pads that fit her sense of style and gave her that same confident feeling, Lyndsy set out to make that boost of confidence available to others. She started a company and created lines of luxury, handcrafted equestrian belts, saddle pads and carryall bags. “I attribute much of my success in the equestrian world to my geldings Bright ‘N’ Happy and Baker’s Dozen,” said Lyndsy, who lives in Houston, Texas. “As a tribute to my horses and my love of French textiles, I named the company Heureux—French for ‘happy’—XII (dozen).”
How did you become part of the horse world, and do you ride now?
I grew up riding and showing Quarter Horses at AQHA shows in Texas, where I learned the importance of an immaculately groomed horse and a pristine show appearance. I stopped riding when I went to college; the demands of early adulthood—launching a career in the interior design industry, starting a family—took over and riding was put on hold. After a 20-year break, I returned to riding at the age of 40, and my show career began again. I developed a new perspective on the importance of horse and rider showmanship. I cherished the boost of confidence I got from knowing my horse and I stood out because of my attention to detail, especially in the way I groomed my horse and in my attire.
What inspired you to create an equestrian fashion company?
Full transparency, it was the inability to find something that fit my sense of style and experiencing a boost of confidence from an unexpected source. The first time I wore a shadbelly for a hunter derby, I realized that the look and feel of something extra-special impacted my self-presentation and influenced the way my horse and I performed as a team. That experience sparked a desire to create a look for my horse and myself, but I couldn’t find the right products and I quickly realized there was a need for custom belts and saddle pads.
How did you start your business, and what does your company offer?
Over hundreds of miles traveling to horse shows, I forged the concept of my ideal company that would marry two passions—designing with fine textiles and equestrian performance. I used the knowledge I gained from interior design to create a collection of high-performance saddle pads, riding belts and saddle pad carryalls that emphasizes couture details, custom options and exceptional performance.
The Bespoke Saddle Pad collection was created with textiles from the world’s most prestigious design houses coupled with high-performance fabric and an ergonomic design. The pads needed an equally elegant case, and that led to the development of the ShowCase. The ShowCase is a carryall with transparent sides and durable zippers that allow for instant access to pads or blankets.
The signature piece by Heureux XII is the Equestrian Belt. I created a patented design geared towards comfort and creating confidence. The front leather portion of the belt has an elegant faux buckle that is designed to slim the waistline and transitions to elastic to give the rider a large range of movement.
What part does your company play in the horse world?
The psychology of what we wear has an impact on us internally and influences behavior, perception of ourselves, how others respond and self-esteem. The phenomenon is called “enclothed cognition” and it explains how our appearance can tap into numerous psychological processes like emotions, self-evaluations and the interactions we have with people and horses. Heureux XII’s line of products is not only geared towards comfort for the rider and the horse, but also their confidence and fulfilling their potential.
What’s the best part about having a fashion company?
There is a freedom and sense of fulfillment that comes with the ability to dream, design and bring something to life. I love creating solutions and developing new designs that feel right. I intentionally say “feel” because my design process is largely based on intuition and trusting my instincts (that skill unfortunately came with age). The reward is the rush you get when your vision is perfected, and it’s almost as wonderful as having a good ride.
What challenges do you face?
Lighting round! In my family, making sure my husband and I raise our twin boys to become hardworking, happy young men with integrity. In riding, not letting show nerves get to me, having faith and being patient. At work, learning to use social media.
What great things have happened because of your business?
I have made so many new friends and met some amazingly talented designers and riders with whom I would never have had the opportunity to interact.
What are your goals for yourself and your business?
To provide more bespoke offerings, including the launch of the Icon line, a custom saddle pad and belt design experience for clients, allowing them to select the size, pattern and colors of their pads and belts.
What advice would you give to others considering entering the world of fashion?
Number one: Be your own icon, create your own iconic style and unapologetically own it. Number two: Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Sharing your designs with the world takes courage; it will be scary, but it will also be worth it. Number three: Get a patent and trademark attorney.
What’s the best thing about your life?
The people and the horses
What’s the best-kept secret about what you do?
The sky is the limit; if you can dream it, we can create it.
For more information, visit heureuxxii.com or follow @HeureuxXII on Instagram
Photos by Arianna Vetere, ariveterephoto.com