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
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.
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.
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.
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.
I recently got the chance to try a bunch of pre-tied stock ties for the Chronicle’sUntacked 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.
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 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
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
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
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.
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
When I was first asked by my editors if I wanted to cover the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, I’ll admit I asked for 24 hours to think about it.
Most people would jump at the chance to go to an Olympics, but like most people, the things I’d heard through the mainstream media worried me—Zika, dirty water and crime.
But once I thought about it, I realized I’d better not pass up the opportunity. Besides, my co-worker Mollie Bailey has lived in the city, knows the language and has experienced several international championships, so that eased my mind a little.
As we got closer to our departure I began to feel a little more nervous as the media started to ramp up the stories about Rio’s crime and unpreparedness, terrorism threats and the spread of Zika.
On the day of my flight, I was feeling even more nervous, despite being an experienced international traveler. Would there be signs in the airport in English? Would my huge Pelican case full of camera gear be stolen right off the baggage claim? Would someone brush against me and steal my phone or purse?
Luckily Mollie went ahead a few days before me and was texting and sending me email updates about exactly what I should expect.
The airline had lost her luggage (more on that later), but she seemed to be having a great time crashing with our photographer friend Shannon Brinkman, who’d rented an apartment in Barra.
So, I anxiously stepped off the plane, followed my fellow travelers down a long corridor, and around the last bend, we were greeted by several people in Olympic gear. I went through the customs line very quickly, then made my way to get my luggage, which was there!
I grabbed a cart, was ushered by more friendly volunteers to the exit, and felt like a celebrity walking the red carpet as I walked out of the airport surrounded by people holding signs for their friends and customers.
The bus to Deodoro Village arrived almost immediately, and I hopped on with two other people and was off in about an hour from landing.
I’ve never traveled to South America, but I knew about the poverty surrounding Rio so I wasn’t totally surprised by the landscape—favelas, dilapidated buildings, graffiti, dirt and trash, flanked by the beautiful mountains in the background, higher than any I’ve seen in the U.S.
There were no Walmarts, chain restaurants or open fields alongside the highway, just the urban sprawl of Rio.
As the bus pulled in to Deodoro, which is a military base, I saw several colorful buildings decorated with tanks, airplanes and statues, and armed men at every corner.
Check in was in a temporary tent that was attached to a small convenience store. It was very easy, and the staff were very helpful. I was escorted to my room and given help with my bags.
When I opened the door to our home away from home for the next two and a half weeks I was a little taken aback. A double bed sat inside a tiny dorm room with a small bathroom attached. With barely enough room to turn around with my luggage, I turned around and asked a staff member if there were any bigger rooms because we’d requested a room with twin beds.
Nope. This was it. But they were able to quickly change the bed situation so Mollie and I won’t have to literally sleep on top of each other! Now we’re about three feet away.
The good news is our room is part of a small apartment that has two other bedrooms (we’ve met one of our roommates, a field hockey photographer from Canada), a lounge area with a balcony and couches and a kitchen so we can spread out a little.
The kitchen only has a microwave and fridge, which might come in handy if it comes down to eating the Ramen they have for sale at the convenience store, but we’re not to that point yet! We’re hoping to find a grocery store and buy some healthier food than what’s available in the cafeteria on site, but for the last three nights we’ve only been able to make it that far. If we want restaurants or grocery stores we’ll have to find a taxi and make our way back towards Rio.
We’ve promised ourselves we won’t eat at the cafeteria every night!
I met up with Mollie at the equestrian venue on Thursday after dealing with our accommodations. We hit the ground running and went on a stable tour where we were able to play fan girls and get lots of photos of horse and human stars. It’s funny because I see our U.S. eventers on a monthly basis and have gotten to know some of them well over the years, but in this setting, Mollie and I became like paparazzi, shouting, “Boyd, Boyd! Over here!” or, “Go Glen!” as they walked by.
Our timing was well enough that we saw the U.S. eventers coming back from a flat school in the main arena. It was good to see everyone settling in, smiling and happy.
The show jumpers are trickling in, so within the next few days, every Olympic horse will be on site. Where else can you see the U.S. eventers, then walk around the corner and see Valegro playing with his groom Alan Davies’ and be passed by Michael Jung on his way to walk his cross-country course?
At the entrance to the stables and into the venue itself, everyone, including the horses, have to walk over a squishy disinfectant pad each time in an effort to keep things sanitary.
We went on to a media course walk with the course designer Pierre Michelet, who explained that the track is twisty, so time will be influential. The word in the stables from riders is that it’s a lot bigger than they expected, so I don’t think this will be a dressage show!
The venue is first class, as many riders have already reported, and our media tent is right by the main arena.
The photo staff are very helpful, and we have almost full run of the place as far as shooting locations. Unfortunately after day 1, it seems the best locations are facing the sides of the arena with no spectators in the stands, but I promise, despite my photos, there were people! It was a little sparse for eventing dressage, but it seems like a good mix of eventing fans and Brazilians, who got a bit rowdy when their first rider, Marcio Appel came in the ring.
They were cheering and shouting for him during the test, which didn’t help his horse, but I can understand. They are true sports fans and so proud to have the Olympics in their country.
As we were standing outside waiting for our bus on Thursday, the street was filling up with locals hoping to catch a glimpse of the torch on its way through.
A young girl went up to Shannon, who was standing nearby, and handed her a note in English that read, “Welcome to Brazil” with a heart.
How cool is that?
The rest of our Thursday involved taking a bus to the Main Press Center to get my photo vest, which took about a minute, getting some food from their more expansive cafeteria, then catching a bus to Shannon’s apartment to pick up Mollie’s rogue luggage which had finally arrived, then back on a bus to the MPC, then on another bus back to Deodoro.
In general the transportation has been very easy, with buses coming on time every 20-40 minutes. We were getting to the end of that period waiting to go back to the MPC when we started discussing taxis straight back to Deodoro instead.
I’m really glad we didn’t do that because after we finally made it back to the MPC and on another bus to Deodoro we met some friendly field hockey commentators who told us they’d tried to get a cab to Deodoro but the driver couldn’t find the place (apparently there is no address) and when he did was unable to get very close. Thanks to our field hockey friends, who Mollie helped learn to pronounce several Portuguese names on our bus ride back, we learned that only one cab company is allowed on site. Good to know!
It is kind of cool to be able to interact with journalists from other sports. At the Pan Ams, we never saw any other sports, and at the World Games, it’s only equestrian journalists, so we’ve been chatting up several people, including our field hockey friends, who are from Ireland and New Zealand and were fascinated by Donald Trump!
We arrived to the first day of competition full of energy and excitement and were promptly greeted by a broken metal detector. With a bus full of journalists needing to get in and get set up, it wasn’t the best way to start a morning, so Mollie did some Portuguese sweet talking and found her way in with a smaller backpack, but I was stuck in line for another 15 minutes until they let us go through another line. Apparently the second scanner broke right after I went through…
All was going well until the lunch break when those in the media center heard a loud noise. I jumped, but thought someone just dropped a camera or something. I was gathering my things to head back out to shoot and thought nothing of it until I was told a stray bullet had pierced the tent!
We’ve felt very safe since we’ve been here, with armed military and police with their fingers near the trigger on every corner, but that was a little alarming. The official story is that there is none, but a lot of people believe it was a stray bullet from a military training exercise. We may never know, but we would really like to!
I’ll check back in a few days with, I’m sure, more stories. We’re trying to keep a sense of humor because it’s still early days, but as with every international championship, there’s always something!
The idea of wearing long sleeve shirts in the summer makes me want to faint, but with a big trip to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro coming up I thought it would be wise to invest in some sun shirts to protect myself from mosquitoes.
We’ve had a miserable heat wave the last week, so I took mercy on myself and wore sleeveless shirts, but before then I was able to test out a few different brands.
I know it totally goes against the idea of keeping you cool in the summer, but I bought the navy and red (so I can be patriotic!) and the navy geo. I like the look of the white striped one but I just don’t love wearing light colors to the barn, and I wanted to make sure that what I invested in could be used throughout the year.
The technical polyester/spandex fabric was very light and the shirt has fine mesh panels under the arms to help with airflow. Ariat’s Moisture Movement Technology is supposed to keep you cooler by pulling moisture away from the skin.
When you hold the shirt up to the light you can see through it, but it’s not too revealing. The 1/4 zip tops have a mock collar and stock tie loop, so the plain white shirt would work well for a show shirt.
I found the shirt to fit true to size and was stylish enough to wear out and to the barn. It was long enough to tuck in if needed and had flattering seams on the sides.
The fabric isn’t the softest compared to some of the other brands I tried, but it’s very light, and I felt it cooled my skin even when I sweat.
I wish they made a red and black one, then I’d be all set for those cooler cross-country days!
SmartPak EQology 1/4 Zip Long Sleeve Top
I’ve been really impressed with SmartPak’s clothing, especially their breeches, and after trying an EQology short sleeve top I decided to try their budget sun shirt.
The tencel/bamboo material is eco-friendly and very light weight and has UV protection. I bought the turquoise first and thought it was too sheer, so I exchanged for the navy. I don’t think it wicked moisture away as well as some of the other tops I tried.
The shirt has Raglan sleeves and thumb loops. I was not a fan of the fit of the sleeves, especially towards the bottom where they were quite baggy. I ended up rolling them up several times. They sort of felt like they’d been stretched out, but that’s just the design of the shirt. The rest of the shirt fit true to size on me.
Tuff Rider Ventilated Tech Shirt
The Tuff Rider Ventilated Tech Shirt immediately felt heavier when I opened the package. The material also felt cheaper, but I think it’s just a different technology. It’s a thicker mesh with lighter mesh on the underside of the sleeves, and I felt a little “stuffier” when I rode. It’s not as sheer, so I think that contributes to the lower breathability factor.
It wasn’t my favorite for super hot days, but it comes in several sizes and with a good price!
Kastel Denmark Signature Sun Shirt
Maybe it’s the $75 original price tag, but I feel so sophisticated and European wearing the Kastel Denmark Signature Sun Shirt.
I have a zip up and 1/4 zip top one, and these are a close second favorite to the Ariat shirts. The material, which has a slightly pocked underside to aid in moisture wicking, is very soft and has a UPF 30 factor as well as anti-microbial agents to help keep the smell down.
The shirt looks very fitted in the promo photos, but I ordered my usual size and it wasn’t tight, which I prefer. The sleeves have fitted cuffs, which felt weird at first, but I much prefer that to the loose SmartPak sleeves. They also have a very fine mesh on the underside.
I think these did the best job with cooling. When I walked in my air-conditioned house after sweating through during a ride I almost immediately felt chilled! It was also very breathable during the ride.
I bought the royal blue and dark blue, and they’re thin, but not sheer thankfully!
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a product review here, then I remembered I’d done two recently for Untacked!
Here is my bell boots Test Lab. I would like to amend one thing though with the Woof boots. I used them for a full show jump lesson on Bear this fall and the bulb on the back that helps them stay in place actually rubbed him raw! So, negative points on those.
I’m going to try to find some time this week to write up a post on what I’ve been up to with the boys, but until then…