Mesh Obsession on a Budget

Show shirts have come a long way in a few decades. Even day-to-day riding tops have stepped up, too. And one of the features of some of these shirts is mesh. Anyone wearing a “sunshirt” is wearing mesh, even if only the underside of the sleeves. And then high-end equestrian brands (looking at Cavalleria Toscana and Designs by Dalia especially) have taken mesh to whole new sheer heights. Their shirts are gorgeous and even some are almost awkwardly over-the-top, which is my favorite kind of shirt. But … I ain’t got $200 to spend on one shirt.

I found a $10-$15 option, though. I rode in the black one last night. The top is actually super lightweight and kind of a sporty material. I kind of wish I had a few of these earlier in the summer. And if the mesh snags on something it’s not like I just ruined a $200 shirt. As far as the sizing goes, the shirt is very stretchy. I’m like a 6-ish right now and I ordered a medium. And the mesh means a little extra vitamin D for me before the time change turns all rides into night rides.

DeNiro Salento Field Boot Review

It’s no secret that I love DeNiro boots. I wasn’t even boot shopping, I swear, but I stumbled upon a vendor on eBay that had a number of new-in-box stock DeNiros for WAY under retail. I paid $300 for these, and they go for around $850. How do I pass that up? These are *mostly* my size …. taller than usual, and a wider calf than I normally take, but in the process of breaking them in I haven’t had one blister. The leather is supple without the near-sock-like feel of Parlantis. I have no concerns about whether I’ll wear holes in the calves of these boots after one season–that ain’t happening.

Yes, they do hit in the middle of my knee cap. Ask me if that bothers me: it doesn’t. They have actually dropped enough already that I can zip them up all the way and snap the closure tabs. Since the calf is a regular calf instead of a slim calf, I may be wearing these a lot this winter because there will be room to layer a bit under them.

There is also an elastic gusset the whole length of the boot so there is some wiggle room on calf sizing if you may be thinking of ordering. I have loved every pair of DeNiros that I have owned, and these are no exception! I will definitely be riding in these a lot, and maybe by next year showing in them a bit? We’ll see how Eli is doing, of course. He’s the one determining our show schedule or lack of one. He is doing well for now, at least, and that’s the most important thing to me.

Winter Wish List

It’s trying to rain today, which puts me in a mood for fall-like weather even though that’s not what we are getting it Texas right now! It’s more like tropical weather. But I can’t help but look at riding clothes that remind me of cooler temperatures. Maybe by November we won’t have any more 100-degree days?

Admittedly, I have been warming up to Horze Equestrian and a pair of high-waisted breeches caught my eye, in large part because they come in black.

Yeah, I would totally wear these Tara Breeches. Does it matter that they are full seat and I am HJ all the way? Nope. One of my favorite pairs of breeches that I have right now are full seat. Extra insurance if Eli spooks at something. Anyway, Horze also came out with a pair of PU riding tights and I’ll be honest, they confuse me.

The Hanna riding tights are looking extremely impractical to me, even for winter in Texas. Leather-look pants might be good for a night out, though … I do love the color! But as to wearing these in the saddle? To be determined.

Okay, back to a favorite of mine. I have the grey denim Calabasas breeches from Equine Couture and I am just going to say I want the navy denim, too.

These breeches are so comfortable and I can ride in them even in the heat without getting too hot. They are thin and stretchy and I wear them like once a week at this point. But they are not so thin that they wouldn’t be versatile enough for mild Texas winters. And they are on a bit of a sale, right now, too.

Another favorite of mine is the Asmar logo tee and the colors Asmar has come up with for this fall are gorgeous. I love the plum especially!

The material is incredibly soft and works really well in — again — the Texas heat, but there’s no reason not to wear this tee under a vest for chillier weather. Like, you know, 71F. That’s cold enough for an extra layer here. Can you tell I have only ever lived in Texas?

This next one is killing me. I already have an All Weather Rider jacket, and it is worth its weight in gold. So I can’t justify a second one because it’s not like we get a lot of rain here and it’s not like I am even willing to ride in the rain.

Of course it comes in plum now. Seriously, I wear mine a lot in the winter and not just to the barn. It is a great jacket!

Riding in the winter can be such a drag, and looking at clothes definitely cheers me up about it. Maybe if we actually get rain today I might actually play the “add to cart” game later this evening. And it will be those Calabasas breeches. Those I know I will wear!

 

Casual Friday Ramble

Walking with purpose is actually a pretty good workout. That’s not what Eli & I did yesterday, and probably won’t be today, either.

 

It’s more like we wandered aimlessly, but in an arena. I had been hand walking him the last few days, waiting for him to get a new set of shoes. The shoes weren’t sprung, but they were a bit loose and his toes were ridiculously long, so riding didn’t seem appropriate considering we are in recovery mode.

I do use boots on Eli, even though we are only walking. They are basically extra insurance in case anything dramatic happens and I fall off and he takes off. Not that they would help much, but he likes to bang his legs up so a little extra protection makes me feel better. And of course he wears boots or wraps in regular work because he is crooked and interferes. And he lives in his bell boots.

I have a few new shirts, and one I wore last night. It is an It’s a Haggerty’s, a brand I had not yet tried. Based on other reviews, I sized up, and I love it. The material is very comfortable. The sleeves are long enough. The shirt is long enough. And It’s a Haggerty’s sun shirts don’t just stop at solids and color blocking. The sleeves of this shirt are like a blue rose & leopard/cheetah print. I am kind of obsessed. Even better, the shirt pairs amazingly well with the Kate Botoris. I could sleep in this outfit, it’s so comfortable!

Eli also has a “new” bit, and I can’t remember if I mentioned it before? I got it shortly before he got injured, so it has mostly seen a lot of walking. But Eli does seem very, very comfortable in it. It’s a custom Myler that I picked up used. If I were to order him a new custom Myler, it would basically be this one. Except way more expensive. Yay for the resale market!

 

It’s a 5″ dee, double-jointed with a copper roller and a contoured sweet iron mouthpiece with copper inlays. It may be a tad on the thin side, but I am a firm believer in fitting a horse’s mouth based on the horse’s actual mouth. It means the finer-boned, smaller-mouthed TBs with narrow palettes might find fat bits – that people think of as soft – as totally annoying and uncomfortable. So don’t let preconceived notions about bitting fool you into thinking certain bits are “soft” while others are “harsh.” Try different bits, and whichever one your horse takes up well and doesn’t fuss in, is the right bit. I had a fat KK Ultra loose ring that Eli HATED. You’d of thought it was bike chain for how he acted. A thinner mouthpiece made all the difference. The double-jointed bits seem to work well for sensitive horses that have narrow palettes or might be offended by the nutcracker action of a single-jointed bit. Add in a contoured mouthpiece that rests in a neutral position on the horse’s mouth bars and you’re set. Bitting is easy!! Haha just kidding. I spend a ton of brain power just thinking about bits and how they might or might not work on a particular horse. It’s one of my favorite training topics.

I am so glad it’s Friday! Work has not slowed down AT ALL and I am hanging on by a thread here. I can’t wait to get out to the barn tonight and play with Eli and then enjoy a glass of champagne while sitting with Conrad in a comfortable chair.

Odds & Ends I Could Live Without … But Why Would I?

If you live under a rock, you may not realize Amazon’s Prime Day is happening across two days and this is day one. I am not sure how many deals are going to appeal me, but I guess I’m going to find out while window shopping online. In the meantime, I have found a handful of things via Amazon that I didn’t realize I needed until I had them and now I’m like, whoa. Glad I bought that. Maybe some will be Prime Day deals?

Who needs easy-care, comfortable work pants? Since my breeches are not work pants (well, okay, maybe sometimes they are) I have been digging through the internet for affordable, work-appropriate pants with a tailored look and reasonable price tag. I searched “betabrand” on Amazon. Amazon showed me Rekucci instead. (I am not going to pay $80 for work pants that fit like yoga pants, betabrand.)

Rekucci offers a lot of styles of pants that are all pull-on type pants that sort of feel like yoga pants but look much, much more tailored. My favorites have been the boot cut pants. They work for work. Pay attention to the size chart, for sure! And the length. In the regular length pants, I have to wear heels or the pants drag on the ground. (I’m 5’6″.) The short ones are good for me for wearing flats or kitten heel shoes. And they actually look like work pants.

This is the Indigo color. And I cannot live without Worishofers.

If you are super curvy, I am not sure how these would work — they are pull on and while they do have some stretch, they are not super stretchy in the waist. I can get them over my hips easily, but I am not sure how they would work on someone with wider hips and a trimmer waist. I also wash them inside out in cold water and hang to dry. Some reviewers have noticed fabric wear after only a few washes, but I have not run into that problem yet.

Since the Amazon oracle (or search bar, whatever) showed me reasonably-priced work pants, I wondered what it would show me for boot trees. That are not actually boot trees. And also not inflatable boot trees. Would such a thing even exist? I have mentioned them once before, and yes they do indeed exist: boot shapers.

Not gonna lie … these things are genius

They are basically flat plastic inserts that conform to your boots’ shape. I liked the first set I bought so much that I bought more for all my tall riding boots. I am kind of thinking I should get some for my wear-to-work boots, too.

If you have not figured out by now that I am susceptible to online advertising, you must be a new reader. Scrolling through Instagram can be dangerous when it’s not actually kind of boring. I see all kinds of ads, one of which was for amazing hair towels that speed drying and minimize frizz! How can this beeeee! Okay, well, let me just see what Amazon has … and yep, they have the advertised towels. You don’t have to get them via Amazon, but I have found the Amazon price to be slightly lower than other vendors. The product is Aquis towels, and they do indeed speed drying and minimize frizz. Do I end up with completely dry hair and zero frizz? No, don’t be daft. My hair is fried from years of dyeing it. But I am in the midst of a hair renaissance and have stopped dyeing it. The 4-5 inches of growth that has not been traditionally dyed is actually pretty healthy looking, thanks to Olaplex, oVertone, and these towels.

The dyed hair is a lost cause, but the Aquis towels do seem to keep my frizz from getting out of control. They have towels for fine hair, towels for curly hair, towels for long hair, turbans … They are also WAY easier on my neck than big heavy bath towels. 10/10 recommend. (Also got hooked by Sand & Sky from Instagram ads …)

Don’t think my animals don’t benefit from my window shopping. First, Conrad: he is REALLY sensitive to fat content. For a while there, he was doing okay with treats under 10% crude fat and I was giving him the single ingredient duck liver treats, which he loved. And they are like 9% fat. His digestive system eventually rebelled, so I sought out lower-fat options. I found single ingredient chicken breast treats from the same brand.

They are freeze-dried, made in the USA, and are 3% crude fat. And luckily, Conrad loves these, too. I am now sticking with treats for him that are under 5% crude fat. You know what other treat — that Conrad loves — has just 5% crude fat and is made in the USA? Milkbones. Classic! He gets one after each of his meals to chomp on.

So Eli is no stranger to me stuffing his face with all kinds of treats. But I needed something that wouldn’t crumble in my pocket or get all sticky or melty when it’s hot because it is really hot here right now. Like … so, so hot. I found these Ginger Ridge Meadow Mints, and the brand also offers a Vanilla Flax flavor if you are looking to add a little more flax to your horse’s diet.

These stay in tact in my breeches’ pocket, they aren’t gooey, and they aren’t in a plastic wrapper. Eli may not go nuts over them quite like he does for Stud Muffins or German Horse Muffins or Gala apples, but he likes these and these keep his mouth occupied while I am doing up his girth.

He also might get one to chomp on during a ride as a reward for not killing me. What? Our bar is low right now.

I discovered a few other interesting things offered via Amazon that deserve a mention. The first is a newer version of the Polaroid Cube. I have a Polaroid Cube+ and it has been a handy little camera for filming rides. I ran across a Polaroid Cube Act II for an interesting price — much less than what I paid for the Cube+. Does anyone have experience with this one? Do I need it?

I was surprised to find that you can get a 23andMe DNA test kit through Amazon, too. Honestly, I was looking for a doggy DNA test kit and saw that 23andMe could be purchased via Amazon. This is something I have experience with — and the genetic reports keep coming. When you test with 23andMe, you get initial results, but the company keeps your DNA and keeps studying it. On one hand … creepy. But on the other, it’s a wealth of health knowledge. No, you can’t be diagnosed with anything through your DNA, but the company notes what genetic predispositions you might have. That information you can use over a lifetime. If you don’t mind strangers mapping your DNA. If you can’t get past the potential privacy issues, this probably isn’t for you. Because 23andMe will know if you are more or less likely to have wet or dry ear wax. Nope, I am serious. The latest Trait report I got was about Ice Cream Flavor Preference …

Ultimately, I think the best deals are going to be on Amazon devices. I am not in the market for any today, but that Ring doorbell/home security stuff is super tempting!

Customer Service

Last week, I experienced two drastically different consumer transactions. The tone of customer service played a large role in both. In one instance, I had been left cautiously … we’ll just say not pessimistic. The second instance won me over yet again as a customer for life.

The key thing here is that customer service isn’t just about being polite and friendly. Sometimes something goes wrong, and sometimes it’s up to a company to make it right. I don’t just want a friendly, “that’s just the way it is.” I am not going to throw a tantrum in public about it, but I might make you think I am about to after something like that.

I am naming companies in both cases. I might leave some details out due to privacy, but you will be left with a mostly clear picture of each experience.

The vehicle in question. And Eli.

The first is a decidedly non-equestrian situation. (If you came here for horses, too bad, suck it up.) I took my Toyota in for service at the Toyota dealership, where I have been a customer since like 2006. I went in for a regular maintenance package, as I have done every few months for years. I diligently keep up with vehicle maintenance because I expect my vehicles to last a long time. I left my car in the service drive after discussing what services were recommended. I thought it was a bit weird that there were two services we were 20k miles overdue for …. I really wish someone had mentioned them then …. but no matter, the car was running great and I’m not going to not do something my car needs, so I agreed.

After a few minutes in the waiting area, free cappuccino in hand, the service rep — who was extremely polite, forthright, and helpful and remained so the entire time — came back with a few additional things the car needed.

One was front brakes. Fair enough. And, Toyota had indeed mentioned this to me during the previous service visit, so I wasn’t too surprised and expected to replace them soon.

The next thing …. my exact reaction was “HAHAHA that shit ain’t happening.” Let me point out here the car is a 2017, just outside the mileage to be covered under warranty. Here’s an approximation of our conversation:

Rep: Do you know if you have an extended warranty?

Me: No, I don’t think so. I just bought out the lease.

Rep: Are you sure about the warranty? Did your husband buy the car?

Me: <glaring through narrowed eyes> I don’t have a husband. I bought the car.

Rep: Okay, sorry. Yes, of course. Forget I said that.

Me: So explain the problem … ?

The rep, polite as she ever was, did explain what was going on with the car, but I did note that the paperwork said that I had complained of a squeak or rattle, which was NOT the case. (I did ask why my car no longer beeped when I set the alarm and asked if it could be fixed. Misinterpretation?)

Anyway, I made it pretty clear that, that day, I would not be doing the brakes or the other service related to the squeak and rattle I hadn’t mentioned. The problem, as explained, meant taking the engine out of the car to fix it, and the estimate for labor was comparable to what, let’s say, a neurosurgeon or orthopaedic surgeon might charge for surgery:

The rep started walking back pretty quickly. Then the rep said since I was a valued, loyal Toyota customer, she would pull all of my service records, contact the appropriate people, and see if there would be any leeway on the warranty, considering the circumstances.

It was here I began to question whether this thing was even wrong with my car.

I also remembered the labor from a previous instance on a similar issue with my previous Toyota. This current labor quote was 4x the previous one, and the previous one wasn’t exactly pocket change. In both instances, the engine had to be taken out of the car to fix it. With my older Toyota, it was a 200kmiles+ 4runner from 2004. Why does the engine of a 2017 even need to come out? And maybe it does. And I get that it’s a big job. But it is not neurosurgery.

Ultimately, Toyota agreed to cover the entire cost, and offered a loaner car for the day at no charge. On its face, this is pretty much excellent customer service. The rep solved the problem at no cost to me. Toyota preserved our relationship.

Maybe. … I, uh, take issue with the labor quote. I am perplexed by the assumptions the rep made about me, polite and helpful and accommodating as she was — truly, she gave me excellent service… but … I am still not sure where someone got the idea I complained of a squeaky rattle (or that I was married lol). Yes, my car got taken care of. I got taken care of. But something about the whole situation was almost satirically off kilter. I am proceeding with caution in any future transactions with Toyota for now. 10/10 service but with an asterisk.

The second instance, thankfully, left me with a feeling that awesome people still exist in this world and shopping with a small business that cares about its customers is 100% the way to go. And this is an equestrian apparel business! So here’s your horsey moment!

You will not be surprised about how much I love my Botori riding pants. I have multiple pairs. I wear them a lot. I may or may not have slept in them. Or sneakily worn them to work. But, unfortunately, a specific production run of some styles didn’t meet the company’s standards, but that wasn’t apparent until after people had already been wearing them.

Still obsessed after many wears.

Botori’s response was swift and transparent — we sold you some pants we need to replace for you. Here’s how you do that.

I actually did have one of these pairs, but had not experienced the defect until last week. Botori honored the exchange, of course. But even better? Some new styles were released over Memorial Day weekend and a few days later I ordered one of the new styles. The genius behind Botori, PJ, refunded my shipping for the new pair and would send the new pair and replacement pair together. Yes! This! Honestly, my hope was that they would be sent together, because small though it may be, one shipment has a smaller carbon footprint and less packaging than two shipments. I did not expect to be refunded shipping, as I had ordered something new I fully expected to pay shipping on. So thank you, PJ! You have a customer for life! Which … I probably was already, but this is exactly the kind of transparent and generous customer service I greatly and genuinely appreciate.

White breeches + brown tall boots = ugh. love.

So customer service, to me, is not just about being courteous and trying to solve problems. It’s about honesty and transparency and preventing problems in the first place. I KNOW I get all this from Botori. I think I might get it from Toyota (?), but now I want to know what y’all think!

Also, work craziness is mostly over so I hope to get back to regular typing and dumping of pictures and video. Thanks for being patient with me, those of you who stuck around.

As an aside, I am slightly wondering about Toyota design and why the engine has to come out of the car for some maintenance and repairs. I drove Chevys prior to this and don’t remember that being a thing.

Equine Couture Calabasas Denim Breeches Review

Eli might not touch a saddle for weeks or months, but that doesn’t mean I can’t ride. It’s a little bit of a disappointment to get a new pair of breeches only to find your horse will be taking a summer vacation. But, I have still managed to wear the Calabasas denim breeches a few times in horsey environments, and even rode in them! Just, I didn’t ride Eli. Perhaps more about that later.

Grey denim goes with everything.

For now let’s focus on how much I love grey denim and how much I love breeches so when you put the two together, obviously I want that. And the Calabasas breeches look like denim but feel like breeches — they are surprisingly lightweight. Realistically, I don’t see myself wearing these in the heat of summer, but we’ve had a fairly mild spring with plenty of chilly mornings and these breeches have been perfect for that.

I wore them ALL DAY on Saturday and the thing about grey is you can get it dirty and no one will know.

NONE of my breeches have Velcro. Love that.

I also like that these breeches have a Euro seat instead of back pockets. It feels a little more streamlined. After wearing them all day, they still fit pretty well. I worried at first the material would stretch too much and thought I might have needed to order a size down, but they stretched only a little — about as much as any pair of breeches might if you’re in them all day.

These breeches also have silicone knee patches, which gives you a little extra security in the saddle. Which I may need once Eli can go back to light work …

The Calabasas breeches are available at breeches.com and come in regular blue denim, too, if that’s more your style.

Things for Spring & Summer 2019: Style for Human, Horse, and Dog

What better activity for a rainy afternoon than to shop? I have been thinking a lot recently about what has caught my eye in equestrian fashion and I want to share some stylish staples that are sure to end up in your closet or mine for this spring and upcoming summer. This is stuff for everyday use! Many things on this list are under $100, too, which … how often does that happen in the horse world?

Okay, first, let’s get straight to nature’s candy, berries.

 

The Equine Couture Beatta breeches in Berry have been on my wish list since I picked up a pair in Safari for shows. They are a great weight for warm weather and if my Safari ones wear out any time soon (which doesn’t seem to be the case) I’ll definitely be replacing them. They are easy to wash and can even go in the dryer — another thing I wouldn’t dream of doing with some other, more high maintenance breeches.

My next choice might be on their way to me already … the Equine Couture Calabasas breeches in Grey caught my eye a while back. Denim breeches have come a long way, and I am such a huge fan of grey denim generally that I had to try these. Remember when we all rode in 501s with full chaps? In the summer? No wonder we were thinner, sweating bullets in that get up and running on Dr. Pepper and cigarettes. Well, I still wear grey denim — like these Levis — and I suspect these breeches are stretchier and lighter than vintage 501s.

Let’s switch gears and think about Conrad’s requirements for spring. Texas can get blustery during spring showers and/or catastrophic flooding events (there is no in between) so I have been thinking about how I could have dressed Conrad this morning, as it was a bit breezy and trying to drizzle. And then I ran across this windbreaker for dogs!

A company called Halo makes it. I am not sure if there is any relation to the dog food company. But I love the color! No reason port wine hues can’t make an appearance after the vernal equinox. Halo also makes crystal dog collars and I like the idea of Conrad in the blue crystal.

Plus that would contrast so nicely with the windbreaker.

Don’t worry, we aren’t leaving out Eli. He’s pretty set in the bridle department, but he really only has one usable halter and I am trying to decide between the Kushy Halter

And the padded jewel halter

Opinions? I am so easily persuaded by glittery things, but I am leaning toward the more classic look of the Kushy halter. And to take care of all of Eli’s bridles and any halters he might get in the near future, I use Belvoir. Why aren’t there candles scented like Belvoir?

Now we can jump back to the rider, because I have a new sun shirt obsession. Asmar introduces all sorts of fabulous stuff every season, but they have been killing it with their sun shirts lately. Like the Selina 1/4 zip.

How gorgeous is this deep, rich, blue shade? Okay, but the top also comes in black. With white pinstripes on the forearms. And …

 

Yeah. I could not control myself. It reminds me too much of Beetlejuice not to.

Last, my curiosity turns to these beauties, the LeMieux Ladies’ Pace X-Grip Silicone Knee Patch Breeches. LeMieux has been a hot name in equestrian circles for a few years now, but I didn’t realize they made clothes. They make great horse boots (I reviewed the Teknique fetlock boots) and of course matching sets of polos and saddle pads to die for. But check out these breeches:

Do you not just love the pocket detailing? These LeMieux breeches seem to have all the right things in one package — under $100, unique details, mid-rise, sock bottoms, sporty material, and silicone knee patches. What more do you want?

No, really, tell me … what more do you want in your equestrian closet for spring??

 

Seeing Green

I wish I could say we have the last of the cold weather for the year behind us, but spring-like temperatures during the day will be giving way to sheet or blanket weather temperatures at night through the weekend. Hopefully it won’t freeze! I am waiting to see this legendary wildflower season that has been predicted around here.

Only another week until the ACTUAL first day of spring.

Maybe it’s my last name … but I love St. Patrick’s Day. What I love even better are St. Patrick’s Day sales. Breeches.com is having a 30% off sale with the code PATRICK30. You might want to snap up one of those mesh-sleeve Erna shirts before they sell out again!

He *Does* Know What “Whoa” Means

There will certainly be more Conrad updates, but let’s interrupt that show to talk about my other fur child. Eli and I are still on the not-really-ideal one to two rides per week schedule due to weather or work or both. And haven’t we jumped in 8,000 years. However, I did get to ride him on Thursday. AND Saturday. AND Sunday. Thursday was so-so. Saturday was perfect. Sunday was interesting.

Once again, I wound up at the barn as the sun was setting on Sunday, so the back drop was pretty if nothing else. But there is something else. It had rained Saturday night, so the turnouts were not useable. The footing, however, was like perfect fluffy clouds by Sunday evening. I knew Eli would definetly be tense and too energetic if I didn’t let him either go roll in the round pen or set him on the longe for a bit. I ruled out the round pen because it was getting dark pretty quickly so we headed up to longe.

He walked politely until I told him to trot, and he actually came back down to a walk and halted when I said “whoa” a few times. Both directions! Progress! I avoided asking for the canter until I was actually on him, and he cantered very politely, considering the amount of energy I could feel he had in him. Like, huh. My horse is all trained and stuff.

I did keep the ride short so I could get back to Conrad and watch Victoria on PBS. (Honestly if I record shows I never get around to watching them.)

QOTD: Would you wear white breeches just for fun? AOTD: Totally!

I am hoping for a warm enough day some time soon so I can give Eli a shampoo bath. He’s really not too bad because of almost daily grooming, but I think a bath might help with some itchiness he’s got going on right now from winter blanket life.