Product Review: Kerrits Stretch Panel Riding Jacket


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.


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 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.


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 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.


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.


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!

Product Review: Ariat Saga Full-Zip Jacket


Now that I live near a Dover Store, life has suddenly become very dangerous! I walked in last week with a list of basic items I needed like shampoo and treats, and came out with all of that plus the Ariat Saga Full-Zip Jacket.

It’s been so mild this winter that the sweatshirt/jacket style piece has become a staple for me when I ride. I get too warm with a full jacket and it’s too cold for a long sleeve shirt or vest combo. I’ve always been a fan of Ariat’s “sporty” riding pieces, and the Saga Jacket fits right in that category, working for riding and stylish enough that you could wear it out to run errands or to the gym.

The grey/blue color combination is really nice. I tend to like neutral base colors with a pop of color. The Saga Jacket has a matching blue fleece lining with a honeycomb pattern and an outer grey soft shell.

There are two pockets on the inside, one for each hand on the outside, as well as a zippered pocket on one arm and one on the back/side. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a pocket placed there. I’ve been using it for my cell phone since it’s zippered, but to get it out it requires a bit of twisting.

If I could change anything on the jacket, I’d make the outside front pockets zippered too since that’s where I tend to put my phone. I just don’t trust non-zippered front pockets to hold my phone in while I’m riding or doing barn chores.

The soft shell material cleans easily. How do I know, you ask? Oh So was quite fascinated with my stylish new jacket and proceeded to slobber on me throughout our grooming session and each time he thought I had a treat. Luckily the dark grey color doesn’t show green too horribly!

It’s wind proof and water resistant, but it’s not the warmest sweatshirt/jacket I’ve owned. The material is thinner fleece than some of my Horsewear jackets, so I make sure to wear long sleeves under it on chilly days.

There are also Velcro cuffs on the sleeves to make them tighter to keep the wind out.

The Ariat Saga Jacket is comfy and stylish and has become a staple piece for me during this mild winter. It’ll be perfect for spring too.

The jacket retails for $89.95 and comes in sizes XS-XL in Lava Beach or Purple.


A Quick Update Plus My Summer Staples

I’ve had a crappy last few weeks with Bear. After his hock swelled up and we missed our last event, he became nearly three-legged lame the Monday after. The vet came out, took X-rays and found nothing except a very sore foot, so we kept the shoe off, wrapped and soaked it.

He appeared sound by Friday, so I had the farrier put the shoe back on Saturday, but he went lame again, so we took it off the following Monday. The vet came back out and blocked his foot and determined it to be just a bad bruise. Since I was leaving for Italy for 10 days, we decided to keep him on limited turnout and keep the shoe off, which brings us to today. He seems sound again on a straight line, but not so much to the right on the lunge., The farrier came out today and put his shoe back on in hopes that he’s just off from not having the shoe on. What next? Ugh.

My trainer said maybe it was good timing for him to have some time off, just being a young  horse and because of some back pain caused by my saddle (which turned out to be irreparably broken 😦 )

I agree, but I also don’t like losing time with him. My plan isn’t to keep him forever and I want to be competing! It’s been nearly a year since my last event and I’m getting antsy! His saddle situation is also up in the air since I don’t have one now for him and can’t try any until he’s sound.

Either way, she’s confident that he’ll be fine when he comes back and that he won’t forget anything. I just have to keep telling myself that! I’m still thinking it’s just a bad bruise and that he’s just not a very stoic horse!

Oh So is doing well. My dressage trainer, Nicky, rode him while I was gone and I had a nice flat session this morning. I’m thinking of entering a dressage schooling show in the next few weeks and I’m going to take him to see my jump trainer, Lisa, this weekend for a little gymnastic session in my dressage saddle (the new one is coming soon). He’s ready to start jumping higher, but I don’t want to in that saddle!

My Summer Staples

As I stepped out of the airport and onto the curb on Monday, I was reminded that while I was sweating everyday during my vacation to Italy, at least it wasn’t so oppressively humid!

So, I decided to put together a list of some of my summer essentials in the barn.

I’ll write up a separate post about my vacation, but for now, here’s my list.

shoppingEnduraCool Towel

I sweat, a lot, so this refreshing towel is just the trick after I ride. You just get it wet, squeeze it out and snap it to “activate the cooling properties” and it’s instantly cool. It doesn’t really stay cool for hours as the company claims, but it sure beats a normal towel!


a207919143e4491c0af262_mAbsorbine Botanicals Natural Liniment

I was excited to see a new liniment on the market this season, and considering it’s from Absorbine, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. While their Veterinary Liniment is a bit too strong for both me and my horses, I do like their products and the new Botanicals line is much more mild. Absorbine calls both the Massage Foam and Body Rinse “aromatherapy”, and they both certainly have a pleasant minty smell that’s not overpowering.

The Massage Foam comes in a drip-free pump bottle, while the Body Rinse comes in a convenient squeeze bottle with measurement lines on the side. One squeeze is enough concentrate for an after-workout bath, and one bottle makes 24 gallons.

I’ve used the Body Rinse on Oh So several times and under his wraps with no adverse effects, probably because it contains natural herbs and aloe vera. Bear loves the Massage Foam, which you apply directly onto the coat and massage into the skin.

KerritsIceFilSShirtSeaglassKerrits Ice Fil Mesh Shirt

I’ve always liked Kerrits’ show shirts to use under my riding jacket at shows, so I decided to try their new Ice Fil t-shirt. Kerrits claims the Ice Fil fabric will lower your body temperature up to five degrees and will leave behind a cooling sensation.

I found that the fabric is definitely lightweight and thin, but it’s held up to many rides in the summer heat. It definitely does breath more than my Under Armour shirts, but since I sweat so much, it also soaks through quicker, thus cooling me with my own sweat I guess?

Either way, it dries fast and comes in lots of pretty colors (including white for use under a show coat)!

10183029Under Armour UA Tech Shirt

As any athlete knows, breathable fabric is essential, so I’ve stocked up on several Under Armour shirts for the summer. Smartpak carries these with their logo on the sleeve, but I found several more color options on


51SIuE1zt0L._SX300_Roma Ecole Double Diamond Saddle Pad

When it came time to go to Bear’s first show, I needed to find an affordable saddle pad, so I tried out Roma’s dressage pad. It’s softly quilted, long enough for my saddle and comes in a variety of color combinations (Oh So has black with red trim for schooling). It also dries fast, which is a plus in the summer!

Product Review: Smartpak Piper Full Seat Breeches


After spending some time in Wellington, Fla., this winter at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, I was inspired by some of the cool European style breeches. Red with black full seats? Bright blue? Yes, please!

Of course, I can’t afford the $200-plus price tag that often comes with those breeches, so when I came across the Smartpak Piper Full Seat Breeches, I thought I’d give them a try.

I really don’t like spending more than $150 at the very most for breeches, so the $89 price was a definite plus. I was a little unsure about the Smartpak brand though because I’ve heard horror stories about the fit of their other styles of breeches.

But I picked up my first pair of Piper’s late last year anyway, the charcoal with light grey, and they’ve fast become one of my favorites.

The breeches are described as low-rise, but they fit me more mid-rise and this particular color fit true to size. I’ve heard some people have issues with gaping in the back, and while I’ve never had that issue with other brands, there was some slight gaping with the Pipers. Nothing a decent belt couldn’t fix though!

The 2-inch wide waistband was appreciated as was the mesh lining at the calf, which helps my precisely-fit tall boots go on smoothly. I also really love the contrast stitching, which makes me feel “daring” but not crazy in the color department!

After I purchased my first pair, Smartpak came out with several more colors, so I decided to try another pair. I bought the blue jeans with brown color. When they arrived, they were a brighter blue than the photo, which was fine, but they did NOT fit! I ordered the same size, but the fabric seemed to be less stretchy than the charcoal pair I had.

After sending those back, I exchanged for the black with white piping, which I think looks really sharp. They fit more like the charcoal pair.

There are several more colors I’d like to try, including maybe the tan or the military green, which I think would be appropriate for a recognized event. I’ve worn the charcoal pair twice to schooling shows and I think they look great with a black polo.

I would highly recommend the Pipers, but would caution that the fit might be a bit different on certain colors based on the amount of stretch in the fabric.

Since I had luck with my first pair of Pipers, I also tried the Smartpak Bradley Full Seat Jeans Breeches, and WHOA! I have never had such a baggy triangle in my crotch area as I had with those. They were such a bizarre fit. Ah well, I’ll continue my quest for my first pair of affordable denim breeches.

Product Review: Rapid Groom Vacuum

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After this winter’s horrible wet and mud, I decided it was time to invest in a horse vacuum. My horses, Oh So in particular, love to be encrusted in mud. I actually saw Sam go down in a giant mud puddle and completely submerge himself and Bear loves to get both sides dirty the minute I put him back out after a ride.

There aren’t a lot of options out there, with the high end Electro-Groom being a top choice, but also more than $600, and the Vac N’Blo receiving less than stellar reviews, so I went with the Rapid Groom after some research.

It retails for about $370. The vacuum comes with two nozzle ends, one metal and one rubber for vacuuming legs and sensitive areas, and three bags. Extra bags run about $4.

The vacuum itself if pretty small, but is heavy at 32 pounds. It has little wheels on one end so you can drag the vacuum by the hose around the horse. I’ve also found that picking it up by one end and rolling it works too.

In a perfect world, the cord to plug it in would be retractable, but it’s simple enough to put up by wrapping it around two hooks on the outside of the body.

The nozzle were simple to put on. The metal one comes with a small screw to help hold it in place, while the rubber one just slips on to the end of the hose.

The 10′ hose is supposedly “crush proof”, but thankfully I haven’t tested that theory yet!

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A nearly full bag.

I wasn’t quite sure when to change the bag, so after about two weeks of use on 2 horses, I opened the end of the vacuum and pulled it out. It was nearly to the top, and changing it was simple. I laughed as I realized that all of that dirt could have been on me! THAT is why I bought a vacuum!

Oh So and Bear took to it pretty easily. They were actually more scared of the hose and of me dragging the vacuum by the hose in front of them, but I just rubbed it on them, let them sniff it, and that was that. I turned it on near Sam once and he started shaking with fear/spookiness, so as I expected, I won’t be using it on him!

The vacuum has two speeds, high and low. Low works well for dust and dirt, but high is definitely better for crusted, dry mud and loose hair.

It is loud, although the company says the motor is quiet. I’d never used any other kind of horse vacuum before, so I can’t say whether this one is particularly loud.

I definitely noticed my horses were cleaner and had more of a shine to their coats after using the vacuum. With regular use, vacuums are said to bring out the naturals oils in the coat, but I had pretty good results right off the bat.

Oh So is very fidgety about being groomed and he’s definitely quieter when I use it. In fact, when I go back to brushes sometimes, he gets agitated.

Bear likes the suction feel on his skin and does a little lip thing, as does Rocky.

We’re at the end of shedding season now, but when I used the vacuum a few weeks ago, I followed up with a curry comb or my Laser Sheen shedding block to really get the hair out.

When Oh So is particularly encrusted in mud, I’ll sometimes use a curry comb to get the big chunks off first, but in the end, I end up cleaner than I would be by grooming by hand and that’s a definite plus!

The only negative I’ve found is that to take off the end to change the bag, you have to unravel the cord to open the snaps, which is inconvenient, but it’s a small price to pay for a clean horse!