You may have noticed that I really like mesh. I like a motif on this blog and on my instagram. I also like long sleeve shirts that protect me from the sun but are made of stretchy, athletic material that encourages evaporation. So this means I like the Tailored Sportsman sunshirts, Asmar shirts, and some of Kastel’s shirts (although not so much lately). But what do these shirts all have in common? At $65, the Tailored Sportsman shirts are the least expensive out of those. My plastic says “ouch.” I could use a less expensive alternative, couldn’t you?
Enter Amazon late-night shopping on my phone. Talk about a habit I need to break … but every once in a while something good comes of it. And hey, right now? Amazon is open for business. At least today, ha. While browsing through athletic tops for women that don’t break the bank, are made well, and fit normally, Amazon suggested an Aurique shirt (an Amazon brand) with a fishnet-type mesh at the upper chest and forearms. And it has thumb holes! And the arms are long enough for me to actually use the thumb holes!
The top is surprisingly well-made for the price I paid — it was one of those “Today’s Deals” deals and I paid around $14, but they seem to go for about $22 when not on sale. The lower hem is sturdy and looks good not tucked in, but isn’t too thick to tuck in, either. So I can wear this top with breeches or Botoris. The fabric is an athletic mid-weight — probably best for spring and fall in Texas. I think it might be too heavy for summers here, but might be okay for summers up north.
It comes in black … and no other colors. I’d love it if it came in other colors, like a fir green or a pale pink. Maybe dove grey and deep indigo, too? K, thanks, Amazon.
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.
I have always balked at subscription boxes of any kind — canine, equestrian, make-up, jewelry, clothing … you name it, there’s a subscription box for it that I don’t actually want, mainly because of reasons such as I have sensitive skin so don’t like trying new things on my skin, or because my dog has a sensitive stomach and can only have extremely low fat treats. So when given the opportunity to review SaddleBox, a subscription box for equestrians, I thought it was maybe a message from the universe to keep an open mind. And Eli will eat almost any treat ever … (just not the barn grain right now). The SaddleBox website actually has a lot of information on it, including what all goes into their subscription boxes and how the company has relationships with equine charities, so that every subscription benefits a rescue horse.
So when I got the box, first I was surprised by how heavy it was. And then I opened it … and here is an awkward unboxing video with no narration because I hate the sound of my voice recorded:
Um. The video just keeps going … that was a ton of stuff in one box! Plus how perfect is that sticker at the end. I thought the picture and description of a rescue horse was a very nice touch that makes it seem more personal to me.
Honestly, I noticed something about this box that kind of differentiates it from subscription boxes filled with sample size make-up, dog treats from China made of mystery meat, or accessories that fall apart. This box had stuff that I actually use! From well-known brands! AND A BOOK.
I genuinely like the treat selection. They are peppermint flavored and have no sugar added, so they would be a good treat for many horses. I am always interested to try new grooming tools, too, so getting a shedding blade (hi, winter, do you plan to come to Texas at all, though?), a hoof pick, a grooming mitt, and a face brush all in one box makes me pretty happy. But it doesn’t stop there — vet wrap and saddle soap were also in the box. And the saddle soap is Fiebing’s, a brand I am very familiar with and have used for years. The grooming mitt from Epona was the one thing I wasn’t too sure about Eli would take it. But more on that later.
I brought the box to the barn to show to Eli. He immediately found the treats. And loves the treats! Not that there was really a question. He also LOVES the face brush. Even more than his super fancy Leistner face brush! Of course he does. I haven’t dove into the book yet, but it looks like it has a lot of good tips for making this wacky horsey lifestyle more manageable.
And y’all. This box is not that expensive, especially for the amount of stuff you get in it. Plus there is a discount code on the SaddleBox website right now, too. Even better? SaddleBox offers gift subscription plans for any budget. And since it’s basically October it’s time to start holiday shopping. If I got a SaddleBox subscription as a holiday present, I’d be pretty stoked. But think about it … think about kid you, just starting to ride, maybe talking your parents in to half-leasing a pony … how cool would it be to get boxes like this in the mail? With stuff you need! Stuff you can use at the barn on a regular basis. 12-year-old me would have loved this as much as now-year-old me does.
Back to the Epona grooming mitt. Once Eli got over his initial WHAT-BLUE-THING-IS-EATING-YOUR-HAND-MOTHER phase, I think he likes it?
He’s not a fan of scratchy things, so a soft rubber curry is about as abrasive as I can get with him.
The grooming mitt is a bit scratchy in texture, but also really flexible and more like scratchy sweater material, not like steel wool soap sponges or anything that bad. The elastic wrist also keep dust from getting up in the mitt, which is nice. I think this will come in pretty handy this winter when it’s too cold to bathe.
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.
I know a lot of times on Weenie Wednesday, you see Conrad in a Ruffwear harness. It’s a great harness! But it’s also a $40 dog harness, so not the most economical option. I had been looking around for a good blue harness for Conrad and ran across the Voyager Dog Harness on Amazon. At first I failed to measure Conrad’s girth, thinking it was 17″ and I ordered a medium in this gorgeous blue color. It was too small! I actually measured Conrad and his girth is now 20″. Chonk. I exchanged it for a large, which is super easy to do on Amazon and I got the large basically the next day.
As you can see, the large fits. It’s really a great harness for the price. It’s a step-in harness, which might be a more appropriate choice for nervous dogs that don’t like thinks going over their heads the way the Ruffwear ones do. A step-in harness is easy for everyone involved. It has a velcro closure but on top of that, it has a snap closure with two loops, one on each side of the snap, to hook the leash up to.
So it is a very secure step-in harness. It seems pretty soft, too, and it doesn’t impair Conrad’s movement in any way. For $12.99, this Voyager harness is a great value, and comes in a ton of other colors! I really like the gray or the black with orange binding for Conrad.
You can see the harness has reflective strips, too, for visibility at night. I don’t walk Conrad at night, so no problem there, but it’s a nice feature for those who do walk their furry creatures at night.
AND I just discovered Voyager makes a plush step-in harness. There is a black corduroy one that Conrad obviously needs!
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.
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.
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!
It’s about time to get back to truly horsey things up in here. Eli may not be in full work, but I wanted to get him an open front boot with more ventilation compared to his Veredus, which have none. I also wanted to pick up another nylon girth for him, as his oldest one is getting a bit too stretched out in the elastic area. I was able to find both at breeches.com which I had a 30% code for, so I got a really good deal on both the boots and the girth.
Starting with the boots … did you know breeches.com carries Majyk Equipe boots? That was certainly a nice surprise. And they have the Boyd Martin show jumping series, which have both ventilation and a non-neoprene lining. Plus they have my favorite hook/stud closures for easy on and off.
They are on sale for $60 right now, and I got the 30% off on top of that! I don’t know if anywhere else can beat that price. Of course, at the time of this writing, they only had 1 pair left in full … and 3 pairs left of the matching hind boots.
I ordered the 52. Eli typically wears a 50 or 52 in the Lettia girths, so knowing he’s a bit fat (for once in his life) I thought a 52 would be the way to go.
I actually probably could have got a 54 — the Henri de Rivel Equicool girth seems to run a bit small, so I would recommend sizing up. But of course, a lot depends on the billets of your saddle, too. I would say this 52 fits like a Lettia 50. I also LOVE the dark navy elastic.
I have been on a search for mineral sunscreen for my face that doesn’t have zinc oxide in it. I am divorcing from the chemical sunscreens, primarily from the press they’ve been getting lately – they destroy coral. Not okay. They also may leach into your bloodstream, but I am less concerned about that because we don’t know whether that’s bad or not yet. On a more personal note, my skin doesn’t react well to the chemical sunscreens, either.
But I also seem to be allergic, or at least hypersensitive, to zinc oxide. I discovered this allergy over time, partly from getting rashes around my waist after wearing cheap belts (although that could also be from nickel), and partly from trying a variety of brands of baby sunscreen, all of which have zinc oxide – sometimes a lot of it. The common denominator among the mineral baby sunscreens I tried was zinc oxide in concentrations of 20% or higher. And EVERY TIME my skin would shortly looks like a tomato with small pox.
So I started looking for something with only titanium dioxide as the active ingredient in it. A long time ago, I used the Elta MD face sunscreen. This wasn’t too successful, because that also irritated my skin. Plus it had the irritating aspect of only being available from doctors at the time I was using it. After that, I found the Garnier BB cream, which uses titanium dioxide but also a chemical sunscreen. I used it for a few years, not finding much else on the market, but I felt like my skin was still a bit irritated by it.
I started searching … googling “mineral sunscreens without zinc oxide” or variants of that phrase mostly turned up sunscreens with zinc oxide, but it also turned up a brand I had heard of but had no experience with: Coola.
I started browsing the different Coola sunscreens, still finding quite a few with zinc oxide and some with chemical sunscreens. And then FINALLY I clicked on the Coola Rosilliance BB cream. The ONLY sunscreen in it is titanium dioxide.
So, of course my skin wants $52 BB cream … but after years of searching, I wasn’t going to not try it.
It has a tint and smells kind of like roses. It goes on smoothly with sheer, somewhat “dewy” coverage (i.e., not matte). But the best part? My skin is finally calming the f down. The Coola seems to be healing the dry, raw skin I get on my chin and jawline. Rosacea symptoms have diminished. My skin still needs a lot of help and this sunscreen is too sheer to cover sun damage, but it doesn’t make my skin angry! Not a lot of stuff out there fits that bill! I’ll be using this stuff all summer, and I hope it lasts a while for the price. Titanium dioxide AND healing powers? I think I might buy a second bottle to keep in my purse or barn backpack. This stuff is too good.
I have no idea if any of y’all are sensitive to zinc oxide, or how many of y’all want to ditch chemical sunscreens, or whether any of y’all are struggling with rosacea, but this is a great option if so. Coola is expensive for what I have spent on sunscreens in the past, but so far it seems to be well worth the price.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …