Product Review: Shires Stormbreaker Lite Sheet and Jersey Cooler

Photo Mar 23, 8 53 05 AM (1)

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.

Photo Mar 23, 8 21 47 AM
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″.

Photo Apr 02, 10 43 47 AM
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.

Photo Apr 02, 10 43 53 AM
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.

BadHabit.JPG

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.

Ovation.jpg

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

StyleStock.jpg

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

Salute1.JPG

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

Equilogic.jpeg

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

Fancy Pants Stock Ties - Red and Black.jpg

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

40587

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.

40589-fw16-outsider-barn-jacket-denim_353_630

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.

noble-outfitters-80022-941-main

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.

0400140_1

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.

arista_fw_dec_201517036_1  0064741-1

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.

37787-a-zoom

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.

37923-a-zoom

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!

A Horse Box Subscription Review

I’m kind of obsessed with beauty subscription boxes, so I was intrigued to try A Horse Box, which is a monthly subscription box featuring lots of goodies for your horse.

I’ve received three boxes so far, so I thought I’d review each one. I’m doing the cheapest box, the Tack Box, which is $25.00 per month. They also have a Barn Box, which is $45.00 per month.

I love trying new human beauty products and getting travel-sized things, so I was excited to try out a combination of new brands and trial-sized items. Equine brands aren’t as ubiquitous as human brands, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find some new ones I’d never heard of. Overall the value is very good and the mix of products is excellent. I’ve found some new brands and some new products from old favorites.

I almost wish the box was cheaper and just included sample sizes of things like shampoos and other horse care items, but you really can’t argue with the value when you receive several full-sized items per month. I do think the box would be put to better use in a multi-horse barn, but single horse owners can also build up a good kit with what you receive.

September Box

2016-09-28-16-34-53

My first box in September contained the following. I’ve put the value of the full-sized item next to each product and whether it was full or trial sized. Each box also contains a horse treat sample:

Quietex Paste (full size) $11 – I’m not a calming paste person, but this is good to have on hand for travel.

Absorbine Wonder Dust (full size) $7 – I’ve used this before, and it’s great for putting under bellies and around sheaths when the gnats are really bad.

Absorbine Wonder Dust (full size) $8 – Thankfully I haven’t had to deal with a lot of big wounds, but I’ve put this in my vet kit. You take the top off and blow the dust onto the wound. It’s good for broader wounds and deep scrapes.

Mrs. Conn’s Bath Day Shampoo Filled Sponge in Liniminty Fresh $10 – I’d never heard of this brand, but I recently tried the Pony Tails shampoo-filled sponge. I’ve used it twice so far and it suds up nicely. It smells minty and contains some liniment. The brand makes some other kinds of sponges with nice scents that I’d be willing to try, and while they are meant to last a few uses, I feel that the value of a soap-filled sponge is kind of low for the price. They’re great for travel though!

Aspire Rain Rot Treatment (full size) $13 – I’d never heard of this brand, but they’re eco-friendly, and the bottle is recyclable. Oh So has a bit of rain rot on his haunches, so I’m going to test this out and report back!

October Box

photo-oct-19-7-29-45-am

Farnam Cough Free (32 day supply) $13 for a 12 day supply – I’ve been testing this herbal supplement out on Toppers right now, and it seems palatable. He occasionally coughs but since I’m not around as much I’m not able to see the effectiveness. I’ll be checking in with my mom to see what she’s observed. It’s a good value though with enough product to see if it works for your horse.

E3 Tea Tree Shampoo $10-$12 – This mitt flips over your hand and arm to keep it clean when applying lotions and sprays. I’ve been using it to wipe down Oh So with a shine spray or fly spray before I ride and so far, so good. It’s waterproof and reusable and can help get that last minute dust off before a show. It can also be used to clean tack.

E3 Tea Tree Shampoo (32 oz.) $13 – This shampoo smells so nice and pleasant. Tea tree oil is good for the skin and the shampoo made Oh So’s coat nice and shiny.

Leather New Foam (full size) $7 – Foams are super easy to use, and I love this for a quick after-ride cleaning of my boots and tack. I don’t find it particularly moisturizing so I use a conditioner afterwards sometimes.

Cold Flex Show Pro Finishing Spray (sample size) – The company claims this will repel dust and insects, but I didn’t get a chance to try it before winter set in. It does have a nice scent and is all natural.

November Box

photo-nov-18-7-29-46-am

Bigeloil Quilted Poultice Hoof Pad (1 pad) $6 – I’ve never tried this, but I’m keeping it in my emergency kit for the next lost shoe.The brand claims it’s not messy and is easy to remove. It contains kaolin clay and epsom salt so it’s perfect for abcesses and sore feet.

Powerflex Vet Wrap (1 roll) $2 – I’m not picky about my vet wrap brands, so this goes in the vet kit!

Charleigh’s Cookies (1 cookie) $23 for 1lb: You’d have to ask Oh So about how these organic cookies tasted, but he ate them right up!  The brand makes a Cover Up Cookie to help feed pills, so I’ll keep them in mind.

Farnam Purishield Emergency Wound Kit (4 sample sizes): This sample kit is just what I need for my vet kit. I rarely use products before they expire with just a few horses to deal with. Farnam’s new products include a wound spray, a barrier spray, hydrogel and skin spray. The skin spray is meant for bacterial and fungal skin issues, while the hydrogel is for wound care and is meant to bind to the wound. Thankfully I haven’t needed to test these yet!

Finish Line AirPower (1 syringe/1 dose) $5 for one dose- Meant as a natural cough syrup, AirPower soothes the airway with ingredients including aloe vera, honey and lemon juice. Oh So doesn’t have a cough, but when I gave it to him to test it went down easily, and he didn’t spit it out! I’m not sure how effective this would be for a horse with a cough. I would have to test it over a longer period. Having just written two stories about equine airways, I’m skeptical about supplements, and if my horse did cough, I’d take him to a vet and see if he might have inflammatory airway disease or something more severe like laryngeal paralysis. I could see giving it if your horse had a dusty bale of hay or to help a horse with IAD, but I’m not sure about the effectiveness long term.