New Fave Socks: TuffRider Bamboo Argyle Socks Review

You can file this under reviews I was not expecting to write. I got three pairs of the TuffRider Bamboo Argyle socks for Christmas. I decided to wear a pair right away. I kind of want 3 more pairs now. (THANKS, MOM!!)

I am familiar with the TuffRider brand only in passing, and have had no experience with any of the brand’s products before this. But if their stuff is anything like these socks, I think I might have to try some more of it.

First, they are argyle. I love argyle. But I recognize this alone would not sway some consumers. Second, they are bamboo. Bamboo is one of those fibers you don’t generally consider for clothing, but more and more brands are offering options in bamboo and they are genius for it. If nothing else, it’s a fast-growing, plentiful resource for fibers and the results are incredible–some of the softest, most comfortable clothes I have are bamboo, and these socks are no different. I also have an Asmar tee and a few LeFash shirts constructed at least in part of bamboo and they truly are lightweight, breathable, and easy to care for.

Back to the socks. The two other features that I love about the socks are that they are tall enough for me, and that the foot of the sock is lightly padded. These socks go up to the back of my knee without stretching, but they are thin enough to wear easily under tall boots, as I already have. But the even better thing is the padded foot. It is SO comfortable. My toes don’t get pinched or squished together, there is not a noticeable seam to rub my feet the wrong way, and just walking around my house in these made them my new favorite sock. The light padding also easily fits into the foot-bed of my tall boots without anything feeling too tight.

I am not sure how many different argyle combinations there are, but I think I might want all of them. I am also going to have to give my sock drawer a good culling, to make room for all these socks I now want.

The dark brown/dark green/tan argyle makes me happiest. One last thing–the elastic at the top is snug enough to hold the socks in place, but not too snug that I end up with icky red tight elastic marks on my legs. Hate that.

I have no idea where my mom found these, but my guess might be Dover. I linked to Adams Horse because I actually could not find these socks on the Dover website. And I can’t find these color combinations anywhere, but other pretty combos are available online. Go and getcha some! I am sure some of you already have a few pairs and I am late to the sock party.

Kensington All Around Cotton Day Sheet Review

Eli has been wearing the Kensington Cotton Day Sheet for a few winters at this point, and I have been extremely happy with this sheet. Eli actually has 2 of them. I hadn’t thought to review it before, but I have gotten a few questions and numerous compliments on it, so I think a review would be helpful.

As hard as Texas is trying to be Antarctica right now, Texas winters are typically very mild and I have long preferred a cotton sheet for a light layer for any of my horses during the more mild winter evenings we are used to here. Initially, Eli wore some hand-me-downs that did not fit well and liked to destroy blankets and sheets, so I wanted something durable and affordable. I shopped online for a while, and found the Kensington sheet at a good price — I have seen them on State Line Tack and Amazon for as low as ~$65 in off seasons (in Eli’s size, anyway). With literally nothing to go on other than online reviews, I bought Eli this sheet.

The first sheet made it through winter and just needed a few minor repairs and a cleaning. It made it through a second winter, too, but I didn’t get it out for cleaning in time, so Eli got a new one. It is holding up just as well as the first so far, and I like the Citrus Slate plaid color of his new one (his other one is in Black plaid, vaguely reminiscent of the classic Burberry pattern).

The sheet has some great features, particularly the hardware. The shoulder gussets are great for Eli, and I wish his current blanket had them. I was extremely skeptical of it at first, but the belly surcingle clips have held up and not caused any problems. They are slightly easier to secure than the traditional belly surcingle closures.

The sheet also has rear elastic leg straps which are very soft and don’t seem to irritate Eli too much. The chest buckles look reinforced and have tough nylon keepers, although there is no Velcro at the chest closure.

As you can see, shavings do stick to the sheet somewhat, although not as much as, say, they would to a Baker sheet and they shake right off. You can also see how the size is clearly marked, which could be handy if multiple horses in the barn have the same sheet. The sheet also has some very soft synthetic fleece at the wither to keep from rubbing. In fact, I have not noticed that this sheet produced any rubs on Eli’s coat.

For the price, I don’t think there is a better sheet on the market. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy Eli a third, especially if they start making solid colors, like navy or black.

Hoof Care: Winter 2017 Edition

I can get really bogged down in hoof goops and which ones to use. Eli’s hoof care routine got modified while transitioning out of the heel pad he had on his RF. I briefly posted about this earlier, but now have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t right now for Eli. I think it might be worthwhile to list my top 5 hoof care necessities that I use regularly on Eli for this season. Hoof care is a daily activity for Eli, so some of this stuff touches him every day on any given day. Texas weather means experiencing all four seasons in one day sometimes, and that can be really, really tough on hooves, so I take daily hoof care seriously.

Hooflex


This is the near-daily stuff I use on Eli. I paint it on the outside of his hoof frequently — maybe 2-3 days a week. I have been using it a very long time and I think it does what the bottle says it does. Sometimes I paint his soles, too, if they are looking a little parched.

Forshner’s

I swapped to Magic Cushion recently, until I realized Magic Cushion made Eli’s feet … angry … I have seen just how well Magic Cushion works on other horses. It is an amazing product, just not compatible with my horse’s hooves and soles. Enter Forshner’s. This is what I used all the time before Magic Cushion to alleviate hoof soreness. I have returned to it, and love the results I get when I use it on Eli. Plus, I think it is a little easier to work with and less messy than Magic Cushion. I can pack Eli’s feet with it without having to wrap, which I can’t say about Magic Cushion.

Sore No More Poultice


I want to say I asked sometime earlier this year whether Sore No More poultice was worth the steep price tag, especially just for bentonite clay. I am still not sure whether I couldn’t just go back to using Uptite and get similar results for almost half the cost. That being said, a thin layer of bentonite poultice on Eli’s soles on particularly dry days (like we’ve been having here lately) help keep his hooves a little more pliable and a little less brittle. The Sore No More poultice is definitely the easiest poultice to wash off, and it really does go on more smoothly than some other brands.

Corona Ointment


The perfect — perfect — salve for heel bulbs and the coronary band. Accept no substitute.

Durasole


This is now a fixture in my groom box, and Eli’s farrier has recommended using it about once a week on Eli’s RF sole until further notice. I like it better than sole paint because it doesn’t smell as noxious, although it is purple and stains, so some care in application is necessary (or not, if you like spotted purple breeches). I use a toothbrush to spread a thin coat of it on Eli’s sole and frog.

Whenever I apply the Durasole, I put Corona on Eli’s heel bulbs first so I don’t have to worry as much about getting Durasole where it doesn’t belong.

Any other good hoof goops out there that y’all like to use?

Lund Saddlery Calfskin Stirrup Leathers Review

Stirrup leathers are arguably one of the most important pieces of tack — if you are going to use them, they better be durable, right? When I had an opportunity to try the new Lund Saddlery stirrup leathers I jumped at it. I have been so impressed by the bridle that Eli now wears it every ride. The breastplates and girth are equally well-designed and high quality. Why should the stirrup leathers be any different? I had been using a pair of 54″ Toulouse nylon core leathers that served quite well for a number of years — not exactly sure when I bought them, but it’s been years. But they were in pretty bad shape at this point — no major fraying or breakage, but definitely on the cusp of failure.

And once I had the Lund leathers in hand, I knew immediately I liked them better than the Toulouse. While the Toulouse are nice, the Lund stirrup leathers are absolutely high-end, buttery, fine-grained calf, with a nylon core. They were not stiff at all and honestly I think I could have gotten away with using them without any oiling or conditioning, but I don’t like to do that to nice leather. At $88USD, $115CAD these are a steal. I have also used the Beval nylon core leathers that run for $120 and these are completely comparable, if not a little nicer. I find they have a feel more like CWD or Devoucoux leathers, although I have only picked those up in passing and never purchased because my money tree died in the drought.

Length: Lund stirrup leathers come in a handful of lengths, so if you aren’t interested in trimming excess stirrup leather (as George Morris likes to advise) you can probably get the right length for your leg and discipline. I chose the 52″ ones. The holes are also numbered for convenience, although if you’re like me your legs aren’t all that even so you might not have your stirrup leathers on the same number on both sides …

Thickness: Thickness is actually a really important factor to me in stirrup leathers. I want thick enough that I know they’ll hold weight and won’t wear too thin at pressure points like at the top of the stirrup iron or at the stirrup bars on the saddle, or the holes themselves. Most stirrup leathers fit this profile. At the same time I don’t want them too thick. The Toulouse were so thick I could not adjust them while sitting in the saddle at all. I tested that the first time I rode using the Lund stirrup leathers. I tried to approximate how long they would need to be before mounting, but of course I like my stirrups hiked up so I had to shorten them a few holes from in the saddle. I had no problem at all doing this. Huge advantage right there of the Lund leathers!

Color: The leathers come in what I would call a chestnut color, and I think the actual color name might be Australian Nut. If you like the color, I think just a coat of conditioning and you’d be good to go. I wanted to match the leathers to my saddle, which is a warm brown with reddish undertones.

Darkening process: I have a couple different ways to darken tack, depending on what that tack is. I typically do not soak leathers in a vat of oil, like you could do with the Sedgwick leather of Lund bridles (although I don’t do that to bridle leather either). So to make the color richer, I started with 3 or 4 coats of Hydrophane darkening oil. The leathers took the oil beautifully, and I finished up with conditioning with Belvoir. I still condition them regularly, and occasionally put on another coat of Hydrophane. They’re a nice, deeper chestnut color now, although I think I could get them even a little darker to match my saddle better, but I don’t want to go too dark, so I am doing this gradually.

Durability:  Obviously until you use a pair of leathers for years, you can’t speak to the durability. But there are some features that can indicate durability and quality in a pair of leathers, such as the feel of the leather and the stitching. Both leather quality — hello, calfskin — and the stitching of the Lund stirrup leathers stand up to scrutiny. The edges are also finished, and have not shown any signs of wear or fraying yet.

If you are looking for new leathers or know of an equestrian in the market for new leathers, I can’t recommend these enough AND they are under $100USD! I haven’t paid under $100 for leathers since I was like 12. And these could definitely be priced much higher for the quality.

EGO 7 Orion Field Boot Review Update

Back in October/November-ish, I ordered EGO 7 Orion Field Boots from Germany. This means I spent $340 USD for boots that retail at $499 here (many tack shops have them in stock now).

And you know what? I’d buy these boots again at $499 in a heartbeat. 10 months in to wearing these boots fairly frequently, they have worn beautifully.

So I’ll break this down for you piece by piece based on my tall boot comparison chart.

FIT

The EGO 7 fit is S L I M. If your measurements are toward the larger end of a range in the size chart, I suggest sizing up. I fell about in the middle of the range for my calf size and the fit is very, very snug. I am thinking I might need a second pair for winter riding with a larger calf size if I want boots that will fit over thicker breeches and socks. They fit me well over thinner breeches and socks. The tall height worked out perfectly for me, as did the foot size 39. The break in time was about a week, and not once did I get a blister anywhere.

FUNCTION

The Orions have so many useful, purposeful features. Most importantly, they work well for riding. But no detail was left unattended in the design of these boots. There is a lot to cover here!

The hardware is high quality and durable–EGO 7s have the same zippers as Tucci boots so you know you can count on them to last a while.

The inner calf panel interested me, although I wasn’t quite sure what to think about it initially. Turns out, it’s about as grippy as regular (good) leather but it doesn’t abrade my saddle’s flaps. And considering I just got a new-to-me Devoucoux, I am glad the panels are there.

The stretch panel has a slight sheen to it, but it is so subtle that I don’t find it noticeably distracting. The stretch panel also seems extremely durable and not super stretchy. Like you know how the elastic gussets in paddock boots get all wavy and useless after a lot of wear? This will not be happening to the EGO 7 stretch panel–it’s a different type of material that has some stretch, just enough for a little bit more of a custom-looking fit.

The spur rests look like none I have ever seen and give the option of three or four different places to wear your spur. Eli appreciates I can wear my spur quite low with these boots without it slipping down too far.

As far as features that ensure a good fit, the elastic zipper guards, padded heel guards, and thin insoles all add to the comfort of these boots. Honestly, I am surprised more boot makers don’t have the elastic zipper guards–it makes them so much easier to snap over the zipper pull keepers at the top of tall boots.

Last, these boots have the right type of grippy outsoles for staying put on the stirrup iron treads. The soles in general are on the harder side, which I now know is a necessity for me after my experience with Parlanti soles. I don’t really want a sneaker feel for my tall boots.

STYLE

I think in my previous look at these boots back in November, I may have said I probably wouldn’t show in them … well, I did show in them. Polished up, these are perfect for all 3 rings. There is also a dress boot version for all y’all DQs. The toe cap, slim ankles, slightly tapered, rounded toe, softly-contoured Spanish top, and unique spur rests give these boots a stylish but contemporary look that works for showing or schooling.

COST

These boots are without a doubt worth the $499 that most people in America would be paying for them — I know most people prefer to try on boots before buying them rather than ordering from overseas and hoping for the best. But if you are willing to risk it, the Euro hasn’t bounced back all the way yet, so you may save a bit if you choose to order from Germany like I did. Even at $499, I think they are a budget-friendly tall boot and a well-fitted option when stacked up against more expensive custom brands.

Without reservations, I highly recommend these boots. They are already holding up much, much better than many other tall boots that I have tried. Added bonus–they should be out in brown soon!

 

Tall Boot Comparison

Now that I am in a bit of a tall boot bind and down to one pair again, a pair I would prefer to keep nice for shows, I started thinking about my experience with a number of boot brands over the years.

The most telling aspect? Two of the three pairs of boots I have purchased more recently, from reputable brands, sucked. That’s just sad, but at least I know to rule them out during my search for a second pair. I also know now what brands I can count on, too.

Looks to me like I should stick with EGO 7s and DeNiros. Tucci does EGO 7s, so I can no doubt count on Tuccis, too.

Ariats
Pros: Gorgeous color, wide footbed
Cons: Ugly zipper, fell apart after one year, never could zip them up all the way

DeNiros
Pros: Excellent leather quality, durability, square toe, water resistant
Cons: After 4 years, they need full zipper replacement and have dropped a little too much. Not bad! The leather is still in great condition.

Effinghams
Pros: I didn’t buy them (“free” is always a nice benefit), durable (still in my closet)
Cons: They don’t seem to exist anymore

EGO 7s
Pros: Styling, price, quality, elastic zipper guards, heel guards, elastic panel that is not too stretchy, comfortable footbed, grippy soles
Cons: Haven’t found any yet. I’d buy these again at US retail at this point.

Parlantis
Pros: Comfortable right away, elastic zipper guard, squishy footbed
Cons: Looked 5 years old after 2 months, calf stretched too much, color wore off, and squishy footbed–while they were comfortable, they some how managed to create pressure on the balls of my feet while in the irons, which caused my feet to go numb rather quickly. I just need hard soles, I guess.

Vogels
Pros: Made to measure, simple and elegant for the time, durable (still in my closet)
Cons: Bitch to break in, no zippers or gussets (which is my fault, not Vogel’s), can’t wear them now because calf no longer fits (also my fault, lol)

After comparing all of these brands, quality and durability are worth the price, and in the long run would save me money. I don’t want tall boots that only last a year.  I plan on getting the zippers replaced on the DeNiros soon. They’d definitely suffice as a schooling pair!

Two Horse Tack 2-Color Riding Reins Review

I jumped at the chance to try more Two Horse Tack — Conrad still loves showing off his bling collar and now that I know beta biothane is actually way more leather-like than I figured, I thought trying out some reins would be worthwhile.

One option: roller buckles

Okay. So. There were a lot of options. SO MANY OPTIONS. I will just spell out what I did, but if you click through the link you can scroll down for quite a while selecting options to customize your order. I chose 5/8″ 10′ 2-color English reins in brown with green, with roller buckles and super grip material. Basically, reins I can school with or use in the jumper ring. (But if you want red split reins with I don’t even know what all you can get, go for it because you can. Or bling reins, those are also a thing and I am not sure how I managed to not get those.)

I put them on my jumper bridle, which Eli hadn’t worn in a while. He was a little miffed about the noseband.

I am first and most impressed by the super grip material.

These reins have just a bit more weight to them than laced reins, but feel very similar to the more traditionally-styled reins you see in the jumper ring a lot. What impressed me about the super grip material? It never gets slippery. Really. The first two times I used these reins, it was misting and/or sprinkling and the reins got wet (with the rest of my tack). I figured they’d slip through my hands since I didn’t even have gloves on but nope! It’s also hot right now, even at 7pm when I usually ride during the week (like still 95F), and no amount of sweat that Eli and I could produce made the reins slippery. The super grip is as grippy if not more so than any pair of rubber reins I’ve used. It will be very interesting to see over time whether they get melty like some rubber reins–something tells me this may not be a problem with the beta biothane at least.

The color was just a fun thing I decided to do, but you can get the reins with only one color instead of two. The hardware on these reins also seems very sturdy–mine have the roller buckles and they are easy to use, built to last. Time will tell how rust-resistant they are, but since they are stainless steel I imagine they won’t rust.

Too hot. Must shuffle.

The 10′ reins are plenty long, long enough for Eli to do whatever it is he is doing in the above picture … protesting the noseband is my guess, nothing to do with the reins. He usually carries his poll a bit higher … oh well. I think 9′ reins would also be an appropriate length for the English disciplines, especially in the jumper ring I think that might be a better option for most people. And you can totally get 9′ reins instead of 10′ reins. Because options.

Looking for an incentive to order? The reins or anything else on the Two Horse Tack website … sign up for the newsletter! Sign up now and you get a $10 coupon which I think would go a long way on any product from Two Horse Tack.