As a photographer, you could say a certain attention to detail is a built-in feature. Textures, colors, composition are all kings of our world, and well, so is an appreciation for quality.
The snowstorm that hit the east coast recently should not be news at this point. So it’s no surprise that we’ve been dealing with some rather frigid temperatures here in North Carolina lately. (Well until today, because of course 3 days later it’s now 60 degrees again)
Being raised in the South, when the mercury dips below freezing, I turn into a grade-A weenie and tuck myself inside with a glass of mulled wine in front of the fire.
But, if it’s above freezing, being an eventer, I can’t justify not riding, and the mulled wine gets set aside for later. That’s when I grab one of my couple pairs of Kerrits Winter Breeches.
(Video taken in navy version of breeches, roughly 30 degrees outside)
The Sit Tight ‘N Warm breeches is pretty much as advertised- the Sit Tight I’m supposing for the full seat (although they do come in knee patch as well) and the warm referring to the fleece lining. Considering the other winter breeches Kerrits offers are called the “Therminator” and “Power Stretch”, I suppose this one is at least descriptive in name.
These jods are well constructed, especially compared to some of the summer weight Kerrits breeches I own that have fallen apart after one season of riding. After my first pair went through a whole winter where they did sole duty for riding the entire time, and came out the other side intact, I decided to purchase a second pair.
The fleece lining really is quite warm, and I am comfortable outside between 45 and 28 degrees (anything lower and you’ll have to follow the scents of spiced wine to find me), and the outer material blocks the wind and elements exceptionally well.
For the full seat aspect, they are somewhat middling in their actual grip, but adequate enough that I don’t feel insecure in the saddle. The only problem with the full seats is that when combined with the thicker fleecy fabric, they get a bit bulky. They definitely don’t make for a particularly svelte outline, but when you look 20 lbs heavier due to all your layers on top, you probably don’t care anyways.
One of the real problems with the bulk though, is that if you wear them for a long day (such as at a show), they do start to rub you in some rather uncomfortable places. Wearing for the few hours to the barn and back, and they are totally fine.
The Sit Tight ‘N Warm breeches, like most of Kerrits’ jods, come in a variety of colors. Since I’m cheap, I bought the discontinued colors, which happen to be royal blue and navy. Smartpak currently offers them in more George Morris approved tones, including rust, brown, and black. At full price, they will set you back roughly $115. My sale versions were purchased for around $80.
My verdict? Totally worth it as winter breeches, especially if bought on sale and intended as schooling breeches. Probably not appropriate for clinics or shows though. They get a B- from me!
Part of Foster’s rehab program includes icing. We started icing with the first handwalking sessions, and I continue to ice as much as possible after every ride. The theory behind icing is thus (and I hope I have this right): bone is constantly remodeling, degenerating and regenerating in tandem ideally at the same pace. In Foster, the degeneration happens a bit faster than the regeneration, which can make the joint weak and lends to the arthritis in his fetlock. The process is accelerated by concussion on the joint, such as exercise, but icing can slow the degeneration and therefore a helpful part of recovery.
Before starting to ice, my vet suggested I look into ice boots that specifically covered the fetlock joint. So I purchased the Ice Horse Evendura boots, which reach from knee to fetlock, of course also icing all the tendons/ligaments in between.
My first impression is that this thing seems durable and well-made. And for the $150 price, I wouldn’t expect any less. I wondered if the velcro and elastic straps would deteriorate with age, but after 2 months of using it, I have yet to notice any obvious stretching or lack of “stick”.
The boots are handily labeled “L” and “R” and are composed of an inner section that the ice packs velcro to, and an outer section with straps for attaching to the leg. I must confess, when I first pulled this thing out of the box it wasn’t entirely obvious how it went on, but perhaps I was having a dumb moment. The boot came with 4 ice packs to each leg, and you could then configure them however you want inside each boot.
The ice packs are where my complaints are, mostly. They are advertised as being a formula that stays soft and pliable like snow, even after being in the freezer for some time. While this was true of the first two uses, thereafter they acted like any other ice pack- that is, like a damn rock when you pull it out of the freezer. After talking with an Ice Horse rep, she recommended leaving the ice packs out for roughly 2o minutes before putting them on (and allowing the valve in each pack to stay uncovered in the freezer- apparently that helps the special sauce in them). This works well for us at the moment, since my rides are about that long, so I pull the ice packs out just before I get on and then they are nice and pliable when I strap them on. However, I wonder how well they will work once we are back to 30 and 40 or more minute rides.
The other secret to the boot is in the directions- sponging. The first couple times I ignored the directions and put the boot on a dry leg, and after 30 minutes the leg was only fractionally cold. So after returning to the directions, I realized the error of my ways and applied the boot to a wet leg, and voila! After about 15-20 minutes I have a nice cold leg.
Overall, I would recommend these boots to someone in a position like myself, where icing is going to be a common part of your riding regimen. They are quick to put together, and if you follow directions, do efficiently apply cold therapy in a convenient manner- Foster wears his in his stall for about 20 minutes after each ride and when strapped on tight, it doesn’t seem to slip or move.
However, if you’re really only going to be icing occasionally, like at an event or for the rare ding, for the price you could apply cold therapy another way and probably be just as effective for a lot less money, if a little less convenient.
I never did like tan lines, and I especially don’t like tan lines now that I’m trying to fool everyone in my building that I’m a serious young professional. So when “sun shirts”, or lightweight vented shirts (sometimes) with SPF protection, became trendy and affordable, I threw myself onto the bandwagon with gusto. With every paycheck I try to add to my collection, and now that I have a few brands I wanted to share just how well each shirt holds up.
For comparison purposes, all of the photos were taken on the same day, with the same breeches (Kerrits Flex Tight II) on. All shirts are size Small.
This was my first sun shirt purchase back when I decided to add another color to my eventing scheme (tricolor pony, tricolor human). Immediately I fell in love with the vented under-arms and light weight material. The collar looks high professional though the poppers (rather than a zipper) keep the shirt from being something I would ride down centerline in an actual dressage show. The fit is figure flattering as well- working with my curves rather than hiding them under a bag-like structure, although it still minimizes any muffin-topiness that might happen when folding over the fence. I only have two complaints about the Ariat Sunstopper- the first is the available colors. At the moment I have only seen them in four versions- white, navy, navy with dots, and medium blue. White being impractical for daily (or any real) work around horses, and the navy does seem to warm up a bit faster if you are sitting in the sun. The second biff is that where the vented underarms meets the cloth of the shirt, the elastic is starting to break down in the wash after about 10-15 washes.
Overall, the shirt is affordable so I would buy another, but hope Ariat steps up the color game in the meantime. The Ariat Sunstopper gets a B+ from me!
I bought this shirt hoping to save a few dollars on a new sun shirt. And while the price may be pretty good, it is not as breathable as its Ariat counterpart. I find that if I am going out in the evening (low 90s temp with humidity) this shirt is still a good (though not best) choice, but wouldn’t wear it in the heat of the day. I chose the light grey option, which I found out very quickly is not a good option when dealing with a snuggly-alfalfa-mash-eater like Foster. Armed with Shout though the shirt washes out nicely. The only part of the shirt that has gotten rather dingy looking are the sleeve-ends, which are thicker than the rest of the shirt and wider than the Ariat and Riding Sport models, and so seem to collect all the dirt and nastiness that summer riding brings. B- for this pretty cool counterpart.
Tuffrider Ventilated Technical Shirt ($39.95)Despairing once again for my wallet, I decided to try again with this affordable shirt by Tuffrider. Once again I had a hard time choosing a color that I thought would not be too hot (black sun shirts? why, just why?) but wouldn’t stain too easily. So, going against years of UNC prejudice, I bought the baby blue option. Like the Ovation shirt, the thicker sleeve-ends have also become dingy in just a few rides. And as you can see, this shirt is the least fitted of the bunch, which while it will hide the many Cheese-Its eaten at the show, is somewhat less than flattering in my mind. The real kicker to this shirt though is the fabric, which is easily the thickest sunshirt I’ve seen. After a few rides in it, I really don’t consider this shirt to be a great summer option if temperatures in the mid-90s are the norm. Rather, this shirt would be reasonable in late spring/early fall when the sun is still strong but you won’t die from overheating. Therefore the Tuffrider Ventilated Shirt gets a C- from this Wolfpack fan.
Dover Riding Sport CoolBlast Shirt ($59.99)
Hearing good things about these shirts, I picked up two of them on sale at the local store. Even still, the price tag hurt a bit at $50 a pop. However, this shirt definitely makes the cut as a credible summer riding option. It’s lightweight, and although just a hair less breathable than the Ariat Sunstopper, the very thin mesh definitely allows for air circulation and comfort. The shirt has a fitted look, and with the thin material won’t hide lumps and bumps as easily as the dark material of the Ariat, but the colors available are also part of this shirt’s charm. Besides the lilac color (yes I swear it’s Lilac!) I’m wearing in the photo, I also bought the green option pictured. That means that these shirts also became best friends with Shout, but is worth taking the extra minute to launder them. The Riding Sport CoolBlast shirt gets an A- in my mind, with price being the main reason I don’t have 5 more in my collection.