Product Review: One Summer, Three Fly Sheets

With Oh So living out for the first time this summer and Thomas needing his own fly sheet, I’ve been researching the best kind for fit and price. Oh So has worn a Weatherbeeta fly sheet, similar to this Comfitec one for the past few years at home, but only occasionally since he lived in part of the day and because he’s black and sweated a lot.

Horseware Amigo Mio Fly Sheet

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Amigo Mio Combo Fly Sheet

I’d had an Amigo Mio Combo fly sheet for Sam that I brought with me for Oh So when I moved, and it had held up well over a few years, albeit not worn every day.

For the price, I decided to get Oh So his own when it finally kicked the bucket earlier this summer with a few tears in the attached neck and on the trim.

I bought the same model, but within a week of wearing it he’d torn the straps nearly off! I’m really disappointed because it is an affordable fly sheet and is fairly lightweight and soft, so he wasn’t sweating in it except on the hottest of days, at which point I usually don’t bother with a fly sheet anyways.

I’m not a huge fan of the attached neck since it was a little short on his absurdly long neck and I’d rather be able to pick a size, but otherwise it was easy to put on with cross belly straps and two buckles on the front, plus two velcro enclosures on the neck. The tail cover was long enough to give lots of protection.

If your horse is rough on his clothing or lives out 24/7 this might not be the best choice but on the surface it seems like a good value for the money.

 

WeatherBeeta Bug Beeta Fly Sheet

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WeatherBeeta Bug Beeta Fly Sheet

I’ve had decent luck with my older WeatherBeeta fly sheet so I decided to try the Bug Beeta Detach-A-Neck fly sheet, which looked very lightweight online.

I wasn’t looking to spend a lot of money, so this one fit the bill for Thomas. The photo above is the sheet right out of the packaging. It looks a little stiff, but it’s extremely lightweight. The shoulders are lined to prevent rubbing, although after wearing it continuously for a few weeks he did end up getting rubs.

The belly band is nice since he’s been getting eaten alive on his midline. The only complaint Thomas has is that if you go to pull it forward and adjust when it’s already on, like I tend to do when I’m out visiting him in the field, his hair sticks up through the mesh and pulls forward, which is super uncomfortable. I’ve now been bitten in the side for my efforts!

He hasn’t damaged the sheet so far, but he’s the alpha in the field so I’m guessing no one’s going to try to nip at him. Since it is so lightweight I would have expected it to rip faster than the Amigo sheet, but it’s still kicking! I’m not sure I can recommend this one for horses who play rough. Try at your own risk!

Rambo Fly Buster Vamoose Fly Sheet

Of all things, I entered a contest on Equiratings’ Facebook page and won this fly sheet! Thanks Equiratings and Horseware Ireland!

This is a pretty amazing fly sheet. It’s made from an anti-rip material that’s self-healing, so if your horse gets a stick or something in it, it will mold back to form. Very cool!

The Vamoose technology means the sheet is pre-treated with permethrin to help repel flies. It’s good for 35 washings.

The sheet has an extra wide belly band with the three straps, which were a little complicated and time consuming, but it definitely keeps the gnats away.

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The neck cover was long enough for Oh So, but was a little loose, but it’s detachable and has a mane liner to prevent rubs. The tail cover was extra long and had a little loop on the underside to pull his tail through.

The front V enclosure will be familiar to those with Rambo blankets, and there are leg arches to help with movement.

Unfortunately after wearing the sheet for about a week continuously, Oh So started getting rubs. I think it’s partly due to his narrow-chested conformation, but he doesn’t get such immediate rubs wearing his Rambo blankets so I was a little surprised. Combined with the material, which seems a bit heavier than the other sheets I’ve tried, and this is an “occasional” sheet for us, despite it being my favorite.

It’s also a bit pricey, but with all the technology put into it and the durability, I think it’s well worth it as an investment.

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As much as I would love Oh So and Thomas to live in fly sheets all summer to prevent bleaching and getting bit by horse flies, I think the reality of living out 24/7 is that sometimes it’s just too hot and they’re inevitably going to get rubs! But if I had to recommend one sheet it would be the Rambo. It’s durable and covers all areas, which I think are the two priorities of a fly sheet.

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Products I’m Loving Right Now

As I’ve written before, I’m a product junkie, horse and human! Here are a few items I’ve been loving this year.

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Oh So loves his Frilly Fillies bonnet.

Frilly Fillies Bonnet

I was late to the party on the custom ear bonnet trend, but I finally bought one for Oh So this spring in our cross-country colors. I can’t say it’s something I needed for showing, but it does spice up our simple black and white dressage outfit and makes us look cool on cross-country! I’m not huge of glitter, so I went with a shimmery white thread on the red trim.

I’ve used the bonnet a few times so far, and it washes easily by hand and comes nice and clean. The thread is quite soft and the ears are made of a stretchy fabric that is custom fit to your horse’s ear size.

They have every color combination imaginable, and you can get logos stitched on too. They range from $85-$110. Now the fun is picking out one for when Thomas is ready to show!

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Officinalis Avocado Gel Soap

I’d never heard of this European brand before, so while ordering from EquestrianCollections.com, I added this saddle soap to my cart. It’s a liquid with a mild sweet scent. It absorbs quickly as advertised and is made from natural ingredients.

I like to wipe my boots and bridles off after riding, and this has made for a good daily cleaner. It doesn’t soap up too much, which I appreciate for a quick wipe down of my bridles. The soap retails for $11.

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Officinalis Dry Shampoo

I’m always down to try another dry shampoo. I love using them on days when I’m just grooming or when my horse’s are just a little damp under the saddle.

Officinalis has several versions of their dry shampoo, including Blueberry and Blackberry for dark coated horses, Chamomile for grey horses and stains or for horses that need a skin-soothing topical, Lavender with soothing and antibacterial properties, Rose for chestnuts and bays, and Sage, another for itchy, flaky skin that can help repel insects.

I love the scents, and they leave my horses as clean as they can be without a bath! They retail for $16.

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Shires Satin Anti-Rub Bib

A co-worker turned me on to this alternative for guarding against blanket rubs. Living out for the first time this winter, Oh So has a narrow chest and shoulders and Thomas has a wide chest and shoulders, and the both got blanket rubs with Weatherbeeta and Rambo blankets, and with the traditional stretchy shoulder guards.

I was skeptical that these would stay in place with just the small tab that the chest buckle goes through, but lo and behold, these things shifted less than my other should guards that attach under the chest and belly!

Oh So and Thomas already had mild shoulder rubs when I tried these halfway through winter, but the rubs definitely did not get any worse, so I think they’re a keeper!

They’re easily washable and less prone to getting soiled than the other brands. While they’re not made of a breathable fabric, I’m wondering if I might try them under my fly sheets on days it’s not deathly hot. They retail for about $13, which is also cheaper than the stretchy ones!

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Kastel Denmark Sunshirts

I’ve tried a lot of sun shirts over the last couple of years, and Kastel’s Charlotte Signature shirts are my absolute favorite. While they’re quite pricey at $75 each, I’ve never paid that price because I monitor their site for summer clearance sales. They’ll also put some products on Ebay where you can get a shirt for $25-$35.

The fabric actually feels cooling, and dries quickly, and the mesh under the sleeves is great for ventilation. I’m a huge fan of color blocking too, so I love the color combinations they have. I’m waiting for the above shirt to go on sale because I’ve had a hard time finding a true red and black technical fabric shirt for cross-country!

They feature antibacterial odor reduction in the fabric, and I definitely smell less when I drive home from the barn!

I wear these on assignment and for riding as long as it’s not 90 degrees and humid. At that point, any type of long sleeve shirt is too much for me!

My only nitpick is that I purchased a short sleeve version for the first time this year, and it didn’t fit as true to size as the long sleeved ones. In fact, the cuffs on the sleeves fit me quite tight. I would recommend sizing up in the short sleeve version. I love the full zip version too, but it looks like they might be phasing those out. Sad face!

 

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Product Review: Saddlebox Monthly Subscription Box

I’m always up for trying new products, so when I discovered Saddlebox, a monthly subscription box for horse lovers, I was excited to try it.

I’ve been a subscriber to A Horse Box for several months, and I enjoy getting a box of surprises in the mail each month! I’ve found a few new brands that I enjoy through my monthly boxes and have received a lot of old favorites too.

Saddlebox retails for $37.95 a month and contains around $60 worth of products. Each month subscribers will receive 6-8 products for horses and humans. A percentage of the proceeds goes towards helping “rescue abused horses,” but the portion donated and names of the charities are not listed on their website. They do have a page that suggests places to donate to though, so I’m guessing those are the organizations that will benefit.

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The Products

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Horse-Shaped Hand Soap

Each Saddlebox will contain at least one item for riders. There’s nothing special about this unscented soap, but it would look nice on a bathroom countertop!

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Kiss My Horse Sample Set

I love sample sizes for traveling and testing products. They’re especially good for sensitive horses (and humans) too so you can make sure the product doesn’t give yours an allergic reaction.

I was surprised to find out that Kiss My Horse is a brand from the makers of Mrs. Conn’s soap-filled sponges, which I’ve received twice in my A Horse Box.

The kit contains a shampoo, conditioner and detangler. I haven’t used the samples yet, but wow, they smell good enough to eat! Sort of a mix of coconut and pineapple…very appropriate for summer.

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Bridle Bites Horse Treats

Saddlebox features a different recipe of their homemade brand of treats each month. Rocky got to be the tester, and he gives them two thumbs up! They contain flour, molasses, cinnamon and frosting.

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Epona LOVE Curry Brush

This wooden brush retails for $11.99. It can be used as a mane and tail comb or a massager on the body, and it also helps loosen hair, dander and dirt. No complaints from Oh So!

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Epona Sponge

This appears to be a smaller version of Epona’s Scrubby Sponge Sack. It contains a sponge inside, which can be replaced. I’ve used the larger version before, and it’s definitely better than a regular sponge due to the textured fabric that helps work the shampoo into the coat. It’s easy to hang dry too, making it a must for bath time.

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Herbsmith Liniment (sample size)

Made with witch hazel and Chinese herbs, this natural liniment smells nice due to a small amount of menthol. I’ve tried it before from A Horse Box and liked it. It’s not too tingly for Oh So’s sensitive Thoroughbred skin.

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Spurr’s Big Fix Filly Cream Moisturizer (sample size) 

Spurr’s sells several products for horses, cattle and dogs, including a hoof spray and wound ointment. I’d never heard of this brand, but it seems a little pricey for full-size items. The all-natural moisturizer included in the boxcan be used on horses or humans and has a light citrus scent. I couldn’t find directions for use on horses, but I think it might work as a leave-in conditioner on manes and tails.

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The Horse Lovers Guide To Massage (book)

I’m not a fan of hard copy books these days, but this looked interesting enough. It’s a quick read about basic massage techniques, equine anatomy and how to find a massage professional. There’s a coupon code for 20% off any e-course, and a link to a free video series that goes along with the book. I don’t read a lot of books personally, so I don’t think I’d want to get one every month.

Overall, I think the selection of items was quite good. I think trial-sized items are good, especially if you have one horse. Things can start piling up quickly! A Horse Box sends 5 items a month for $25 in comparison. I don’t want to get a book every month, and if Saddlebox could maybe replace that with another full size item, I might be inclined to subscribe. But for now, $37.95 is a bit too pricey for me.

I do like the idea of donating proceeds to charity though, so if I could afford it, I’d probably try a few more boxes.

The company just started in May, so this is their second box, and I’m sure they’ll refine things as they go along. I like the idea of having a theme each month too. They’re offering 10% off for life for new subscribers, which brings the cost down to about $34 per month.

Disclaimer: Saddlebox contacted me and sent a box to try for free.

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Product Review: Shires Stormbreaker Lite Sheet and Jersey Cooler

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Before I won a trip to the Longines Wellington Masters last year, I’d never won anything in my life!

Then one day this winter I randomly entered a contest again on Practical Horseman’s Facebook for a Shires blanket, and I won!

I’ve never tried a Shires brand blanket, having always been loyal to Weatherbeeta and Rambo’s various brands.

I was sent the Stormbreaker Lite Sheet in black/tan with a standard neck. It features 1200 denier waterproof material with shoulder gussets, adjustable chest clips, a wither relief pad, cross belly straps and cross leg straps.

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Front view of the light sheet.

I’ll admit I’ve gotten so used to the single tail strap on my Amigo blankets that cross leg straps were mildly annoying, but they’re certainly something I’m used to from Weatherbeeta blankets.

The front chest straps were a nice touch. I tend to adjust those on the buckle end to get the right fit and then only use the snaps end for quick on and off.

I only tried the blanket on Oh So, who’s a 78″, and it fit true to size. The shoulder gussets aren’t a necessity for him since he’s very narrow-chested, but they certainly didn’t hurt.

Since I got this late in the season, I was only able to test it out a few times in the pouring rain, and he was dry underneath after spending all day outside. I can’t speak to the wear and tear yet, but with about a month’s use it still looks good.

He was in need of a new sheet anyways, so we’ll see how long this one lasts! The sheet retails for $134.99 and comes in sizes 69″-84″.

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Shires Jersey Cooler

I also received a nice jersey cooler in my prize pack. I tend to use half fleece, half mesh coolers during the winter, spring and fall because Oh So runs hot, so I think Thomas will be using this the majority of the time.

It’s also came in black/tan, but is available in navy. It’s quite simple, with cross belly straps, a tail cord and a simple buckle front chest closure.

The outer jersey alter is quite smooth, so nothing stuck to it, and the underside was fleece to keep him warm. It was quite smart, and I think I’ll be using this a lot for trailering.

It comes in sixes 69″-84″ and retails for $62.99, making it a good value for a smart looking cooler.

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Front buckle of cooler

Product Review: Pre-Tied Stock Ties

I recently got the chance to try a bunch of pre-tied stock ties for the Chronicle’s Untacked magazine.

I’ve been really inspired to look into custom things for me and my horses since spending so much time at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and watching all of the dressage queens sparkle and shine, so searching for companies that did stock ties was a lot of fun.

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Bad Habit Pre-Tied Stock Tie

Started in 2014 by dressage rider Veronica Himmelberger in Schnecksville, Pa., Bad Habit Stock Ties’ slogan is, “Put the dress in dressage.”

When she started the company, Himmelberger had recently purchased a custom saddle pad and wanted a stock tie to match. She wasn’t finding what she wanted, so she made her own. After she ended up with a pile of stock ties, her husband suggested she sell them to pay for her “bad habit.” Combined with inspiration from the term “riding habit,” the company and its name were created.

Himmelberger is a one-woman operation and sells her ties to cover her horse expenses.

I had a hard time choosing one to try because of the endless different options. From fabric color and texture, to the size of the buttons, pins, ribbons or gems you can add, every stock tie is enviable.

As an eventer, I loved the colorblocked styles that use white and a custom color on the edges, with optional gems, but if you’re looking for something even fancier, some of the ties looked straight out of Downton Abbey—made of silk or lace with fancy brooches that look very Victorian chic.

Picking your cross-country or barn colors is fun, but if you need a more muted tie to follow Fédération Equestre Internationale rules, you can still dress it up by choosing a textured fabric and adding some bling. Collar extenders are also available for $1.50.

This one ended up being my favorite, and I chose one with blue and black trim and crystals that I’ve since worn at shows.

Learn more: etsy.com/shop/BadHabitStockTies
Cost: $60 for a handmade tie; $45-50 for pre-made ties.

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Ovation Dri-Tex Dressage Pre-Tied Stock Tie

Ovation’s budget-friendly Dri-Tex Dressage Stock Tie is no frills but all comfort. Available only in white and in sizes small through extra large, the tie is made from the brand’s moisture-wicking Dri-Tex fabric.

The tie was light as a feather when I wore it, and I hardly noticed it. It doesn’t come with a pin, so if you want to dress it up, it’s up to you. It looks a little limper compared to some of the fancier ties, but I’ll take that over feeling like I can’t bend my head and neck with too much fabric under my neck. It looks classic, despite fewer ruffles or a fancier “knot.”

Based on the feel of the fabric compared to some wicking shirts I own, I think it will work well on a summer day.

The tie features a hook-and-loop fastener, and the fabric’s treated with Scotchgard™ to help most stains come out in the wash. If you want easy and simple, this tie’s for you. There’s also an untied version.

Learn more: ovationriding.com
Cost: $22.95

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Style Stock Pre-Tied Stock Tie

Adored by top eventers, including Tamra Smith and Lauren Billys, West Coast-based Style Stock makes stocks in a variety of fabrics, selling untied and pre-tied versions of designs created in 2014 by eventer Hannah Childs of Santa Barbara, Calif.

From ruffles to rhinestones and knots to more simple pieces, Childs’ designs aren’t over the top. The colors and patterns are great for someone just stepping out of the comfort zone of a traditional white tie.

Light pinks, blues, lavender, silver, gold and cream shades give these stock ties an elegant look. The tie I tried included a pin you insert after crossing the two pieces of fabric.

The tie, which fastens with two snaps, was a bit tight, and although they’re only available in one size, extenders are available. Many designs are machine washable.

Learn more: Stylestock.co
Cost: $59-$69

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Salute Stock Ties Pre-Tied Stock Tie

Founded in 2014 in Princeton, N.J., by U.S. Dressage Federation S judge Kem Barbosa and FEI dressage rider Lisa Stockman, Salute Stock Ties offers conservative-looking pieces with a bit of flare.

Barbosa and Stockman were inspired to create a well-fitting stock tie that didn’t sag, was flattering to the neck and easy to put on.

The ties are designed to come high up the neck, and the knot is placed high as well, so the tie stays full and sits securely under the chin. They’re wide enough to sit securely under a jacket, and the hook-and-loop enclosure was generous and comfortable.

Blue or black polka dots, gingham and checkered patters are different, but not too crazy for competition. In addition, foxhunters should like how similar this tie looks to a traditional untied stock, and many of the colors and patterns are subtle enough for the hunt field.

A fun feature with these ties is that they’re reversible. You can wear them four different ways by flipping the collar and the tie piece. My favorite was a blue-checkered collar with a white tie. The fit was unobtrusive and comfortable and just required a pin to secure the tie in the right place.

The ties are manufactured in the United States by members of the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana.

Learn more: salutestockties.com
Cost: $60

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Equi-Logic Stock Tie

Created by equestrian entrepreneur Julie Lackey, Equi-Logic pre-tied stock ties come in several different styles.

Lackey started making stock ties in the 1990s, and her original, the “Tie One On,” is still available today. A dressage rider sick of choking on the traditional stock tie, Lackey, of Las Vegas, tries to emulate the traditional knot in some of her designs, but she also has bib and ruffle collar versions.

The Tie One On comes in a textured pique fabric or a cotton poplin, both of which are designed to hold their shapes without ironing. It comes in plain white with a simple pin or with colored trim. A unique feature is the removable fabric that turns the stock into a ratcatcher.

My favorite of Lackey’s ties was the colorblock tie (pictured), which comes in satin or poplin and a choice of black, blue, purple or red for the collar. It was not bulky and laid nicely under my coat. It’s machine washable too, making it easy care.

Learn more: equi-logic.net

Cost: $28-$36

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Fancy Pants 2-Color Pre-Tied Stock Tie

The eventer in me silently squealed when I saw the Fancy Pants 2-Color pre-tied stock tie. I love color coordination, and Amanda Ruane, of Sarver, Pa., who started her company in 2016, had a beautiful red, white and black tie that was calling my name.

Made of polyester taffeta and polyester satin, there is a lot of fabric, but it laid flat and didn’t feel bulky around my neck. The tie had a generously sized hook-and-loop fastener.

If it’s too much color for you, the blouse is interchangeable by reaching under the tie and undoing the fastener. I changed it from black to white, and it looked just as nice. There is also a permanent blouse option.

Ruane offers different brooches and one-color ties and sells ties with crystal embellishment.

The general style and pattern of the ties are the same, but custom color options make these really fun. Ruane said she invites creativity and will work with a rider to make her vision a reality as she continues to grow her business.

Learn more: fancypantsstockties.com
Cost: $60 and above

Product Review: Kerrits Stretch Panel Riding Jacket

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I’d been eyeing the Kerrits Stretch Panel Riding Jacket all winter because of my love of lightweight jackets, the color blue and color blocking, so when it went on steep discount recently, I picked one up in the Night Shade color.

The blue parts of the jacket have a really cool horse design if you look closely, and the black soft-shell points are slimming and stretchy.

I recently wore it on assignment when the mornings were chilly in the 40s and the afternoons were comfortable in the 70s, and it was a good choice. It’s slightly filled for warmth, almost puffy, with the effect of a fleece jacket, but the lining is smooth. The outer soft-shell fabric made it easy for hay and horse hair to come off, but I’m kind of wanting to keep this one out of the barn. Oh So tends to like to put his drippy nose on everything, especially when I come wearing something new!

This jacket is the perfect length for riding, but it’s also stylish enough to wear out and about. Love it!

Product Review: New To Me Items This Winter

I’ve found some great stuff this winter that’s come in handy around the barn. Here’s a few top picks. I’ve got some new horse care items from different brands to try this month, so I’ll check back in after I’ve tested them.

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Kerrits Outsider Barn Jacket

I’ve been looking for a new medium weight winter jacket for riding to replace my older Kerrits one, so naturally I went back to the source! I have a heavy Mountain Horse jacket, but I only wear it in the coldest of weather because I feel like it’s too bulky to ride in, but this is the perfect weight.

My older Kerrits one had the coolest design feature on the front–instead of buttons to conceal the zipper it had magnets. It was a little odd to be carrying it on my arm and have it stick to the metal railing on stairs, but it snaps shut as soon as you zip up the jacket making for a sleek look.

The new one doesn’t have that feature on the front unfortunately, but does utilize it in the back for the flaps so they open to have more flexibility when sitting in the saddle and snap shut when you’re just wearing it around the barn.

It’s very waterproof and stain proof (Oh So loves to put his drippy nose on me all the time!). It also has arm pit vents and a detachable hood and comes in some really nice colors.

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Noble Outfitters Horseplay Backpack

I was searching for a small backpack to take with me on cross-country when I’m working and don’t want to haul my laptop camera bag out on course. Noble has two different backpacks, and I got the smaller, cheaper one. I can fit snacks, orders of go, my wallet, drinks and even my 70-200mm lens in this little lightweight backpack, and I can use it to transport stuff from my house and car to my truck when I go to shows.

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FITS Zephyr Show Coat

Where has this been all my life? I hate wearing jackets in anything other than cold weather shows, and this mesh coat is so lightweight I have no problem wearing it in the summer. It’s kind of see through when you hold it up to light, but it’s opaque when you wear it. I did wear it at a November show and I was freezing, so I’ll make sure to pull out my trusty older jacket for early spring and fall shows. It’s got a zipper front with buttons over it and faux pockets. They also make a dressage version. I got this for a steal on TackOfTheDay.com last summer.

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Arista Equestrian clothing

I came across this brand at Dressage At Devon. It’s well above my budget, but I found two pieces that were steeply discounted, so I couldn’t resist. I got the Hooded Box Fleece Jacket and a lightweight technical fabric jacket, similar to the one above.

The fleece jacket is nice and warm and has a hood and an offset front zipper. It’s stylish enough to wear in public and warm enough to wear as an under layer at the barn. The jacket is made of a stretchy soft shell and has pleats in the back for riding and stretch panels on the shoulders. I love the black accents against the gray.

The brand also appears to have a lower priced brand called F.O.A.L. I’ve been eying their technical shirts at Dover, but I think I’ll wait until they’re on sale because they’re still a little pricey.

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Hands On Grooming Gloves

These are my new holy grail grooming item. A friend turned me on to them, and they’ve been invaluable for grooming Oh So, and now Thomas, who both love to get mud between their ears and everywhere in between. I can get crusted mud off of their faces and around sensitive areas like their eyes, and I can run my hands down their legs and get all the mud off every crevice.

These can be used for bathing too, but I haven’t tried them that way yet.

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Kerrits Pocket Fleece Zip Neck

I’m a sucker for a fleece of any kind for riding as a base layer and as a top layer on warmer winter days. I also love color blocking, so I got the purple version of this Kerrits piece. It’s got side pockets for a cell phone, and while I wish they were zippered, it’s still a cool feature. The material is sort of textured on the outside, so it could be OK to wear in the real world too!